Mr. O’Brien’s home smelled of wax and burning wicks. Every nook and cranny was lit with candles. And if they weren’t lit, they hanged from clotheslines, drying. They were littered everywhere in every size, color, and design. Not only did he make candles he also carved unique shapes and designs on them. They were so beautiful to look, Walter thought it a pity they would be melted.
After helping the amical candle maker, Mr. O’Brien handed a few copper coins to Walter. He tried to refuse, but Mr. O’Brien insisted, grateful for his help.
Once he left Mr. O’Brien’s place, he took out his list to see who he had left then headed towards the butcher shop. He preferred to go there last, because it was always filled with patrons earlier in the day. By the time Walter got there only a few patrons were left.
Mr. Sullivan, the owner, greeted him when his turn came. “Hallo there, boy,” he said. “Come to pay your Uncle’s bill?”
“Yes, sir. Also to buy some lard for Mr. O’Brien.”
“How much does he need?”
“Whatever you have.”
“When does he want it delivered?”
“By the end of the week.” Walter handed him the silver coins that Mr. O’Brien had given him for the lard. He also handed Mr. Sullivan twenty silver coins for Uncle Obel’s order.
“Tell yer uncle he’ll get his order by the end of the week. George will deliver it. But, he probably won’t deliver the venison he asked for. Very little hunting has been done lately with the rains an’ all. So I won’t charge him for that.” He handed Walter back ten of the silver coins. “Business has been busier than normal. With them outsiders and October approaching, I’m getting cleaned out sooner. At least for now. How’s your uncle fairing?”
“Busy also, sir,” Walter said. “He had to hire more help.”
“I reckon he would. Filled up by travelers, I assume.”
“All this fuss about lights.”
“Some of them outsiders are here to see some lights that haunts the mountains. Others say it comes beyond the marsh where the Thatch Castle use to be, but that’s the least of our problems.”
“Why is that, sir?”
Mr. Sullivan got closer to Walter and he could smell the raw meat and blood on his apron. “Strange things happen during October—the witching hours.”
“What kind of things?”
“Yer mind play games on you. Making you see things like flying witches, ghosts, and other monsters under the bed. Fear can make you see things moving in the shadows. It only happens around this time of year and it’s contagious, like a flu going about. People tend to stay in their homes fearing to go out. Ye would think the Black Forest became loose of its magic. It only happens when those lights appear.”