Transformed by a primitive magic beyond a civilized man’s understanding, I was given a horrible gift that no man should possess… It held me, twisted me, turning me at its bidding. I was enslaved by its power, compelled to devour the souls of the dead until I became the monster of my fears. I have seen things I wish never to see again. I have done things of which I wish never to speak. Yet I must if I am to find the answers to fulfill my hope.
I have walked upon blue ribbons of molten stone to peer into the depth of a man’s soul.
I watched as a promise made at birth brought my friend Enon to sacrifice everything to become whole again – all in an effort to save the life of his child.
I have cried without shame for the loss of all I hold dear and for fear that the future will hold more than I can bear.
I am Tucker Littlefield. Know all that I say now is true-spoken.
* * *
I pushed hard at the large wooden door. It swung open with a well-worn groan. Stepping inside, I drew a deep breath, my lungs filling with the pungent smells of wood smoke and ale, which hung in the air of all good taverns. Massive beams, rooted in the floor, rose high into the rafters, spreading their branches like outstretched arms and holding the roof as high as any basilica. The broad tables, wooden chairs, and wide plank floor, all scuffed with years of use, were like old friends to me.
“Evening, sir, I’m so happy to see you.”
“And I you, Toby,” I said, hanging up my coat.
“How is your wife this fine night?”
“It isn’t polite to ask about the welfare of the Devil in a house of worship,” I said sternly.
“Sorry, sir. I meant no offense,” he said wryly, just like always.
At fourteen, he played the game well.
“None taken, my boy, none taken,” I said, patting him on the shoulder before I headed to my usual table. “Now then, my young friend, big fish? Little fish? How large a net do we cast tonight?”
“A large one, to be sure. There are people here from seven townships for the telling,” he said with his usual enthusiasm.
“Seven, you say?” I asked playfully, secretly happy for the news.
“Aye, sir, seven,” he beamed.
“Alright then, a large one it is. Now go tell your father I’m here,” I said, pulling the chair out to make myself comfortable. On the table, a folded piece of paper with my name, Tucker Littlefield, written in bold red letters, held my place.
Shortly, the sound of heavy footsteps pounded their way out of the kitchen to greet me.
“Tucker,” Jack’s voice boomed before he reached my table.
“Jack,” I said, standing, offering my hand.
“Where’s the Devil hiding this night? Not far behind, I’ll wager,” he said, pumping my arm vigorously.
“Upon my very coattails, my friend, always but a few steps behind,” I joked.
“Well, let’s hope she doesn’t find you until after the telling,” he said, slapping me hard on the back.
“Toby said there are some from as far away as seven townships,” I said weakly.
“A few. Maybe one or two a little farther.”
“Well, we’ll see then, won’t we?”
“Who knows, my friend, maybe one of them will have news.”
“Stranger things, I suppose,” I said.
“Only good things tonight, huh? At least until the Devil catches you here,” he said, trying to change my mood.
I nodded in agreement. My mind spun with the thought.
“Something to eat?” he asked.
“Sure, a little something,” I replied.
“Big fish, little fish,” he said with a weak smile and returned to the kitchen.
“Big fish, little fish,” I called after him.