They stood over the dead family. The father with the rune of Lamashtu carved into his chest, the mother and son turned into ghouls and felt fear.
The sun was setting.
Nightfall would come before they could reach Sandpoint again.
As the others walked toward the barn to check it out, Eli turned his head. What was that? A cry?
He opened his mouth to call to the others, but closed it again. What if he was wrong?
Blending into the lengthening shadows he crept through the corn that whispered and creaked in the whirling zephyrs that stirred the dry stalks.
The crying turned to pleas of help.
Eli peered up at the scarecrow. The face was a hessian bag, tied at the throat with twine. The arms were bound to the battered wooden crossbeam with wire. The legs likewise. The diagonal rends through the rough shirt that hung limply on the thin frame beneath were soaked with blood. Human blood.
With uncertain fingers, his mouth dry against the sudden need to swallow, he peeled back the mask and jerked back.
The face was almost grey, dark smudges underneath the eyes. She was turning, and soon.
Pity over took the man and he gently let her down.
“Who did this?” he asked gently.
“I don’t know. Please. Help me. They put us out here to die.”
“Who are they?”
Her voice was a croak. “The barn. Don’t let them go into the barn.”
Eli’s head jerked up. In the distance he could see a hovering figure. Scooping up the limp woman, he ran for the farm yard.
“I say we burn it.” Bryn snapped, eyes narrowed as she studied the doors that vibrated once in a while.
“Crops are dry.” Wynter replied. “Would be bad.”
“So?” came the reply.