A Teckelstein Tale of the First Christmas
Apparently Three Wise Men and Some Shepherds needed a little help to reach that stable and witness a special event.
Night had came. Shadows deepened on the eastern slopes falling away from Bethlehem to the river Jordan and the road that brought traders merchants and tonight a monster.
Gwillo and his hounds did notice the stars seemed brighter than usual but he was looking away from the stars down towards the shadows waiting to see if they moved.
Suddenly it grew even colder and the hounds sniffed and growled and the sheep grew silent in their pens even the lambs and one of the shepherd's dogs whined fearfully.
A SHADOW MOVED TOWARDS THE ROAD.
Gwillo moved towards the shadow.
"Softly quietly lads and lassies let's see who's stalking who?"
The shadow stopped seemed to grow taller and turned north towards the road to Jerusalem.
In the distance Gwillo could see lights. He and the shadow moved towards them. A caravan had set up tents with lanterns on poles before them around fires. The tents were unusual styles not those of the local nomads. One seemed to be Egyptian or African the other possibly Parthian and a third tent was round not square. The fire and lantern light also showed these were tents made for wealthy people with no patches or sagging sections where a support or prop had broken and not been replaced. They were large tall tents a person could stand up inside of. And the lanterns were gold not copper!
The shadow that moved shrieked a cry of pain and envy.
"Aho one of those are you?" thought Gwillo who in the past had been called on to hunt men who were monsters. He still thought he was stalking a man wearing a dark cloak dyed a motley of colors that blended with the night shadows probably with pieces of shrub or plant or fur added to break up his outline.
From the distant fire chanting came and the scent of spices but the shadow moved closer. Gwillo followed.
The shadow stopped suddenly as if a fence or wall was there and instead of walking in a straight line moved off as if there was a circle around the camp. Someone closer to the fire got up and walked in a circle around it and just for a moment Gwillo thought he could see lines of light or a faint glow surging out in a pattern.
The shadow moved onwards and closer towards a group of what looked like camels maybe lying around or next to a heap of supplies covered with canvas. On the other side of the camels was a horseline with a guard.
The shadow started to scream again and the horses panicked and the camels rose to their feet.
Gwill and his pack started running crying out.
"Oy I know that Trick. Stay away thief you want to frighten those horses so they stampede through the camp!"
The shadow stopped and stood still arising its arms ... of which it seemed to have more than two.
Gwillo blinked. The dogs growled.
"NO its two men together carrying spears!" He thought and cried a command.
"High and low boys and girls high and low!"
The dogs knew their job. Jump up and grab a corner of clothing to hinder or divert the thrust of a sword or spear. Circle around feet and grab a cuff or end of a lacing of a boot or sandal or butt and shove an ankle to make their prey lose their balance or concentration. And bark! Deep loud barks tearing straight the darkness!
They charged and leapt and yelped as they landed shivering and shaking as if they leapt into cold water. Gwillo swung his sword. It moved through the edge of the cloak as if the cloak already was made of shadows. Gwillo took one step back but only to regain his blance before he thrust a hunting spear at where a torso should be.
The spear passed through the shadow again. The shadow chittered mockingly and reached a limb out. One that looked that of a ... Gwillo though of an octopus he'd seen but octopuses had their beaks betwen their tentacles not at the end of a limb that curled and writhed and had thing sthat looked like long thorns instead of fingers.
Gwillo took another step back.
The Shadow spoke.
"Unguarded. Unsealed. Unsworn. Mine."
"Bait Take take take you dangle like fish on hook to lure wise away from protections."
The dogs shackled and growled at it.
"Bah little dogs" The shadow made a wheezing noise.
"Scent? scent of holy place! scent of North. Other powers.
Bah too small. Ruin blessing of wise. Poison spice. Will hinder binding of avatar to this realm. No Willing Sacrifice Nonsense. Break myth pattern."
The shadow grow taller and seemed to be about to throw itself over Gwillo.
"Hey you this knife is cold iron?"
"Not that kind of being!" taunted the shadow back. "Iron not pure blood use."
The stars suddenly grow brighter. Gwillo had the strangest feeling that somewhere behind him back up slope near where the shepherds were the cover had been removed from a very large bright lantern. He noticed two of his dogs were less afraid than others. Tau and Ankhet. Both of whom had silver amulets a tau cross and an ankh symbol. He'd had an exceptionally well paid job in Egypt for a temple and the priests had gave those two in particular amulets and collars they said were blessed. The other hounds only had copper or lead amulets hanging form their collars or coins with holes drilled on them.
Will Gwillo survive and stop the demon.
Join us for the next instalment of Teckelmas A Teckelsteiner First Christmas adventure.
and yes that bright light upslope is a certain messenger arriving.