Dark clouds had hovered over the lands for months, rumbling every so often, threatening another downpour. When the rains had finally slowed after causing a deluge in the town of Asbjorn; the waters receded from the terrains, exposing the destruction it caused. The Black Forest had survived the floods and even some parts of the woods that surrounded the town, however, Asbjorn had suffered many casualties. A few homes had been destroyed and even the Lake Alaric had been overflown, making it impossible for Walter and Alden to visit Archibal.
The rains had grown too strong, forcing Mr. Crabb to close down the school. He was a very sullen man and with no one to teach, he spent most of his time at the Swan Inn. One day, the torrents washed away the white little schoolhouse. It only made Mr. Crabb sullener. Uncle Obel, owner of the Swan Inn and Uncle to Walter, offered Mr. Crabb a free room; being the only schoolmaster that taught in town, it was only fitting. Luckily, he had been at the inn when the schoolhouse was engulfed by the waters.
During one of those stormy nights, Mr. Crabb, mysteriously walked out into the storm and vanished. Alden and the rest of the children were delighted that the schoolhouse was gone. They weren’t too upset about Mr. Crabbs’ disappearance, either.
Whispers swept through the town, saying he was washed away while he slept in the schoolhouse, others said he was abducted by some lone stranger on a stormy night. Then, there were the absurd rumors that a band of gypsies, roaming the mountains had cut him up in little pieces or a witch had turned him into a stone statue. Maybe he stumbled into the Black Forest in his stupor state, because nobody steps in there by accident during a rainstorm. Whatever the truth was Mr. Crabb was gone.
A few Black Coats and hunters had gone searching for him. Hunters were known to be good trackers in their craft since they hunted animals down. But they found no traces of Mr. Crabb, anywhere. Up to then, Mr. Crabb had been the only person missing during the deluge, which made it even stranger.
The search for Mr. Crabb ended when George Sullivan along with his brother, Thomas, had shown up at the Swan Inn before darkness, stating they found a man’s tacks leading to the Black Forest. Anybody trekking to that part of the lands signified that he did not want to be found.
Why would anybody go into the Black Forest? wondered Walter.