Don’t go out at night, was all the doctor could repeat in his head. It was apparent that going out at night was dangerous. He hadn’t seen Archibal, his old mentor in a long time. It was almost a bittersweet encounter. The doctor went to his satchel and searched for his amulet. There it was at the very bottom of the bag where he put it. He thought it was foolish. He hadn’t used it since the war, why would he have any need for it? All this hogwash about magic. He wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it firsthand. He shook his head in disbelief. It was getting late and he had miles to go.
He laid down on the bed and watched the shadows dance on the ceiling. Most people would be afraid, but he wasn’t or at least he thought he wasn’t. He was slowly dozing off when he heard it. It was a low, utter of a mournful cry coming from a dog. It sounded distant, but it could have been the wind. It was probably his mind playing tricks again. With that final thought he finally drifted into sleep.
The next morning he arose feeling invigorated. It’s been awhile since he slept so soundly. He couldn’t say the same to the man that brought him there. He looked haggard and exhausted. He didn’t say much and the doctor didn’t ask. The doctor still had Archibal’s words repeating in his head. They set off to Dacia, which was only a few miles away. The man promised him that if all went well with his sister he would take him back home later in the afternoon.
As they rode through the Woodland Trials the doctor finally understood why no other form of transportation came through this way. The trail was unfinished, unlike the rest of the road that had been paved with pebbles it soon turned into gravel, then gravel gave way to dead grass. Most people didn’t go into Dacia, the doctor had to remind himself. He wondered how many lived in Dacia. That was soon answered when they rode into town. It looked abandon and neglected, most buildings were in terrible states of dilapidation.
“This isn’t much, but, it’s home,” said the man.
“How many live here?” the doctor had a sense that not many did.
“Only a few of us remain,” said the man. “Mostly my family and a few others. Not many live in the town anymore, maybe a family or two.”
“What happened here?”
The man cleared his voice. He looked rather uncomfortable answering the question. “The town used to be a mining town for copper. When copper ran out most people left.”
“How long ago was that?”
“I’d say before I was born.”
“Why did you stay?”
“Why leave? My family has owned land here for many generations. My sister and I saw no need to leave. It’s our home.”
The doctor didn’t pry any further, the man looked uncomfortable enough. They soon reached the man’s farm.