The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

“He is not home,” said a male voice.

Walter looked around, but saw nothing. The Psychai tugged on his sleeve to get his attention and hid behind him. He turned to see what she wanted and almost fell backwards in fright.

“Don’t be afraid,” it said. “We won’t hurt you.” Two large figures loomed over Walter.

“We normally don’t eat children,” said the other. “Unless you bring harm.”

“I—I bring no harm,” was all Walter could say.

“Of course you don’t. You came to see Archibal,” said one of them.

“Who are you?” Walter said.

“We are gargoyles,” said the first one. “I am Amias. This is Agi.” He gestured toward the bigger gargoyle. They were enormous as large as boulders, but Agi was broader. They were friendly indeed, though their visage was ferocious to see.

“Are you the one I see up on the ledge?” Walter said.

“That is me,” Amias said. “We live up there, high up on the manor.”

“Are you the gargoyles, Archibal told me about?”

“That is right, Walter,” said Amias.

“You know my name?” Walter said.

“Of course we do, Archibal told us about you,” said Amias.

“We’ve watched you from above,” said Agi.

“Where is Archibal,” Walter said.

“He hasn’t been home in a while,” said Amias. “He left before the rains came. Cadi went with him.”

“Where did they go?”

“Archibal will tell you when he returns,” said Amias. “For now, no one is allowed in the manor. He bolted it shut. No one can go in and no one can get out. The magic protects the inside, but we are always here.”

“We never leave,” Agi said. “Well, we sometimes like to stretch our wings.”

“I see you brought along a friend with you,” Amias glanced at the Psychai, timidly hiding behind Walter.

“I—I was in the woods,” Walter said. “She was trapped by some branches when something came after us–”

“This is the time of the month when you see things,” said Amias. “Horrible things.”

“The woods are no place for you this time of night. What were you doing there?” said Agi.

“I was—I was following a light in the mountains.”

“The light! You can see the light?” Agi said. “Not many can see those lights or even get close to it.

Walter nodded. “I can hear it too!”

“I dissuade you from chasing the light,” said Amias. “Nothing good comes from chasing it. You need to ignore what you see and hear.”

“I also saw something flying in the skies,” Walter said.

“That was probably the other gargoyles,” blushed Agi. “This is the only time when we don’t have to hide. We can roam free in the skies and not fear that people will see us. They think we are dragons.”

“The witching hours is what they call this time of year,” said Amias. “The light glows, scaring the animals away, but it brings something else. These figures that live in the darkness. We sometimes can see them from a distance. We think that’s what scares the animals. Archibal should return soon. In the mean time you need to go home. It would be safer there.”

“Oh, Amias,” whispered Agi. “What about the Psychai? She can’t stay here.”

“No, she can’t. Not until Archibal comes back,” Amias said. “It’s too late for her to leave. The others have already left.” Walter glanced at the Psychai. She looked heartbroken, scared and cold. He realized the stampede of animals he saw that one night was the night they were escaping for safety and she had been left behind.

“She can come with me. That is if she wants to?” Walter said

The Psychai smiled and nodded.

“You better go home now,” said Amias.

Walter nodded, the Psychai took hold of him. He pulled out the ring and went home. He arrived in his room, by then, the rain was coming down. He made a bed for her in one of his dresser’s drawer. Grabbed a blanket and tucked it in. She quickly snuggled in and fell asleep. Walter yawned feeling tired himself. He changed into his pajamas, dove in bed and fell asleep to the soothing sound of rain outside.

The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

October began with no anomalies. It was just another day with rain and chilly temperatures. By the fourth night, Walter was startled awake by a low, incessant, bombinate sound. He looked down on the floor for any movement of shadows, but saw none. This was the third night he had been woken up by that sound and every time he looked out the window he never saw anything out of the ordinary. He blinks his heavy eyes of sleep, but discerns nothing in the darkness. He tries to go back to bed but the sound disrupt his sleep. He had asked his Aunt if she heard a humming sound and she said no. He had asked ornery Gertrude, chirpy Mildred, even the hired help if they had heard the noise and they all declared they heard nothing. He even asked Uncle Obel and he too did not hear it. Was he going crazy? He heard it only at night, by morning the sound dissipated. He couldn’t understand why.

This time he was going to find out what that noise was. He got out of bed, got dressed, took the ring and slipped out the door into the corridor. He could have used his ring but he didn’t know where to go. What was he even looking for? What if he appeared in the path of danger? After seeing the animals vamoose he didn’t want to face whatever they feared. It was best to footslog to the woods. The corridor was quiet. He passed his mother’s room then his aunt’s, reached the door of the courtyard, slowly turned the knob and slithered outside. The courtyard was also quiet. He quickly crossed it and went into the alley. Once out of site of the inn, he hurried down the dirt road and took a turn into the main street. From there he could see the vacant streets.

The Swan Inn never closed. Only a few laggards occupied the taproom. Someone always needed a warm place to stay and some ale, after a day of journey, was how Uncle Obel put it. Walter followed the sound. It lead him outside the town, down a dirt path leading through the woods. In a distance, he passed by the Black Forest, nothing stirred from there. He never realized how pitch black it looked from the rest of the woodlands.

The path was lit by the moonlight, but he felt he was walking away from the sound. He took a left where the sound was clearer. For some reason, he decided to go where the site of the remains of the castle were. Maybe he would find something. As he came upon the castle, he saw it. It came from the mountain, a bright green light that glowed. It was sort of a sublime sight, sort of spellbinding. What could it be? Was this the light, outsiders came for? Whatever it was, a low, bombinate sound came from it. Walter went deeper into the woods, recalling that Alden had told him of a marsh.

Something makes Walter look up to the sky and sees four creatures flying. Witches, dragons, fairies? He couldn’t tell, but it made him nervous. It could have been an owl or an eagle, but the creatures were too large to be either fowl. Maybe this is what Mr. Sullivan was talking about, bizarre things happening in the witching hours. Walter kept walking. There was a lull around. The leaves rustled in the trees, a cold wind blew, and Walter wished he had brought a coat. He walked a few feet further when another sound caught his attention, it was a whir.

He picked up the pace feeling a little rattled after seeing those creatures flying in the sky. Whatever that whir sound was, he didn’t want to know. He had lost track of the light in the mountains, but he could faintly hear it. Now he was worried about the sound behind him. As he tried to make a run for it he tripped over an emerged root, falling to the ground. When he looked up, he saw a Psychai stuck between two branches in the tree. It struggled fiercely to release itself. Walter has never seen a Psychai before. It is a nymph, the size of a fruit bat with lovely butterfly wings. The wings were outlined in black, filled with vibrant purples and pinks that glowed in the dark. Walter stood up and slowly approached the Psychai. When she saw Walter she struggled even more.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Walter assured her. “I am going to help you get unstuck.” He walked up to her and pulled the two branches apart. The Psychai was able to fly off, but it came back and pointed at something behind him. The look of horror in her face told Walter he was endangered. He turned around to face a dark shadow and it wasn’t alone. Other dark shadows were coming near him. There was something malicious about them, they were not friendly at all. The Psychai tugged on his sleeve, but as fast as they were advancing he knew he couldn’t out run them. He fumbled with the Odyssey ring and before the shadows were upon him he was transported himself.

In a flash, he was at the manor with the Psychai still holding onto his sleeve. He looked around for a moment. His heart was still beating fast. What were those things? For now he didn’t want to know. He walked up the steps to the manor and knocked with the brass handle. The doors didn’t open. He knocked again and still nothing happened. He walked back down the steps and looked up to see if any lights were on, but everything was dark. Where was Archibal? He decided to knock again, but someone stopped him.