“What is a debtor, pa?”
“A man who owes money.”
“And what is a creditor?”
“The man who thinks he’s going to get it.”
The next morning, Walter wakes up in his bed. He looks down at his pajamas and then around his unchanged room, trying to recall last night’s episode. He and Alden had returned from the cemetery, they came back to the inn and had a late dinner. He had fallen asleep and that is where he can’t recollect how he managed to come to his room and change into his pajamas. Was he missing something? How did Alden get home and did he get home? The Psychai flew in front of him.
“Do you know how I got into bed?” Walter asks her.
She nods her head.
“Did I get into my pajamas and bed myself?”
She shakes her head no.
“Then how did I manage to wake up in bed with my pajamas on?”
She goes to the fogged window and writes on it. “Bonifacious took you to bed and put on your pajamas,” Walter read out loud.
“He also took your friend home.” He looks at the Psychai. “Did anyone see?”
“No, no one saw,” he read. Magic never ceased to amaze him. His mother had made him believe that magic didn’t exist. Not even the rain outside could dampen his spirits.
A wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen, drew his attention. He hurried out of bed and got dressed. He was about to leave his room when he noticed the Odyssey ring on his night stand. The night he was at the cemetery, he did not have the ring on him. He never left home without it, and now, there it was. Somehow it had gone missing from his pocket. He took it from the night stand and slipped it in his pocket. He didn’t think much of it and went to the kitchen.
Two days later, during the dead of the night, Walter was awaken by a crackling sound outside. He wearily got out of bed and looked out the window. He couldn’t see anything from where he was, but he recognized that crackling sound. He got dressed and sneaked out of his room, down the corridor toward the courtyard. Out in the courtyard he walked to the alley that led to the outskirts of the town. Once there, he went to his and Alden’s old meeting place on the tree next to the Black Forest. Walter should have been afraid being there alone, but he wasn’t. The crocotta was dead, he thought. He wasn’t even thinking about the spooks.
He had the Odyssey ring in his pocket. He climbed the tree and saw the white crackling sound. That was the same sound he heard when he was at the den with the crocotta, and Archibal had materialized. Walter wondered if Archibal was home. He had a lot to tell him. Walter took out his ring and transported himself to Archibal’s manor.
At the manor, he looks up to see a silhouette of one of the gargoyles sitting on the ledge. He couldn’t tell if they were looking down because the ever-present fog covered his view. The doors opened and walked inside the poorly lit foyer. “Who’s there? Who’s there? Who’s there?” cried out various disembodied voices.
“Archibal,” Walter called out. “It’s me, Walter.”
“Walter’s here! He’s here, over here!” cried the voices.
“For crying out loud!” shouted Archibal from the top of the stairs. “I heard him the first time. Now be quiet.” He walked down the stairs holding a handful of scrolls. He was wearing a magnificent royal dark blue tunic, decorated with gold trim and tied by a gold rope with tassels in the end. He dragged a bit of the tail on the ground. Archibal wore it well as he was very tall and stout. His pitch black long hair and matching long beard were neatly kept, though it didn’t conceal his grimace. He had a regal and intimidating presence that Walter couldn’t help but respect. “Mr. Banny, what can I do for you this late of night?”
“I—I came by the other day and you weren’t here.”
“Checking on me, are you? Amias told me,” he said standing over Walter. “Is there something you need to convey to me? Something that couldn’t wait till tomorrow?” Archibal stared at him with a fixed gaze that intimidated Walter.
He suddenly felt ridiculous. What was it that couldn’t wait until morning? “I-I saw something, a couple of nights ago,” he began to recall. “Animals, cats, dogs–” Walter had become aware that he hadn’t seen a single stray dog or cat roam the streets, not even squirrels. It gave him a shiver. “They were leaving town. Even creatures, I have never seen were leaving. I think I saw Jacobi leading them.”
“You must be mistaken about Jacobi,” Archibal said walking away from Walter and heading to the library. “He has returned home, which is miles away from here.” He placed the scrolls on his wooden rostrum. “You might have confused him with Leos, another brownie that lives in the Black Forest. He must have had a reason to be leading those creatures to safety.”
“The glow from the mountain,” Walter said. “Ever since it started, strange things have taken place.”
“Is that so, Mr. Banny?” Archibal did not look up from the scrolls he was reading.
“Yes!” Walter was just getting started. “Besides the animals leaving, a poltergeist has appeared at the inn, two hunters have gone missing and these things called the spooks attacked me and Alden at the cemetery.” Archibal did not look up. He didn’t look like he was listening. “Archibal, don’t you believe me?”