The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

Walter turned away from the window and sat on the edge of his bed. In his hand, he still held the Odyssey ring. Two hunters have gone missing and maybe many more that haven’t been reported like the outsiders. Then there was the body of the dead sheepherder. Walter had completely forgotten about the sheepherder. He was certain that the phantom had taken hold of him. Walter shivered at the thought of the fate that could have been his. He had to be careful. He kept thinking about the fate of Mr. Cloughs’ friend and the fate of Alden’s Uncle. What were they doing, where were they going? If only he could know what had transpired.

Walter suddenly felt something happening. The Odyssey ring was transporting him. To where, wondered Walter? He hadn’t ask it to take him anywhere. In a nanosecond, he manifested himself somewhere in the woods.

“Ssshhh,” whispered a bearded man with a black Coburn Great Coat, a quiver across his back and bow in hand ready to shoot at anything that moved. “Don’t move or say a word.”

Walter held his breath and didn’t dare move. Where was he and who was this man? But Walter obeyed.

“Something is up ahead,” he kept whispering. “I can see it. Don’t move or it will see us.”

Walter looked around. The woods looked odd, almost clouded in a dark grey, as if the colors had been drained. There was a thick layer of fog around them but Walter could see through it. He could see the trees, the man, the bushes but not the ground they stood on. The fog covered it. They stayed in that position for a few minutes. Walter couldn’t hear anything. It was eerily silent. This went on for a while. Was this Alden’s Uncle or Mr. Clough’s friend? Why did the ring bring him here? Then Walter heard a twig break from behind him. The man lowered his bow and arrow and twirled around in anger. “I told you to not move,” he upbraided—not Walter but someone behind Walter.

“I couldn’t help it. I got nervous. I saw something move over there,” the other man pointed to the opposite direction the other man had been facing, looking terrified. He wasn’t a tall man but rather corpulent and short. He wore round glasses, a grey Derby hat, and had round friendly face, though now, it showed fear. He was dressed very inappropriate for a hike in the woods, more like a Professor in his Hammond plaid grey suit and bow tie. He even brought along his Sharo leather bag strapped across his chest.

“There is nothing over there,” growled the hunter, turning back to his objective. “Now, look what you’ve done. That could have been a deer you scared off.”

“Sorry, but,” the man flubbed.

“I told you, I would take you to the mountains,” he bellowed. “On my terms and if I say there is nothing over there, there is nothing over there.”

“I saw something move.”

“Rubbish, your mind is just playing tricks on ye. Does that when you are not use to these woods,” said the man with the bow as he glanced around. He looked preoccupied with something else. “I told you there is no monsters or ghouls out here. I’ve tread through these woods all me life. There is nothing to worry about.”

“But I saw a shadow of some sort or I think it was.”

“Shadows do weird things, Mr. Arnold.”

Mr. Arnold, thought Walter, then who was the other man? He couldn’t understand why they didn’t see him. Why was he here? Did the ring wanted him to see something? Whatever it was, he was determined to be here a bit longer. Mr. Arnold took out a handkerchief and wiped his face.

“We better get a move on if we are going to see that light of yours,” grumbled the man.

“Yes, yes, please do. This place is making my skin crawl,” Mr. Arnold said.

“How did I ever convinced myself to do this,” the man mumbled.

“Mr. Adair are you sure we are going the right way?” Mr. Arnold was concerned.

So the other man was Adair, thought Walter but the names did not sound familiar to him.

“Of course we are. You hired me to take you to the mountain and that is where I am taking you.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to go the other way?”

“No!” Mr. Adiar stopped and faced Mr. Arnold annoyed. “This way is better. It’s not safe to take the other way. Much too dangerous. As I said before. I know where we are going. Now, quit complaining and follow me.”

“Why is the other way not safe?” Mr. Arnold tugged at his collar. Mr. Adair plodded forward with caution as Mr. Arnold followed behind him.

“If you believe the stories you would understand, Mr. Arnold.”

“Well, I don’t believe in them. I am a man of science.”

“A man of science who gets frighten by shadows.”

“I’ve never been much of a woodsman,” Mr. Arnold admitted. “Books have been my life. It is all I know.”

“A man of books chasing lights?”

“For research, to see what produces that light.”

“Something unnatural, I can assure ye of that.”

“If I can reach the mountain. I can prove a more objective interpretation than just stories. My friend, Mr. Clough believes in those stories. If I can analyze this light. I can justify that it with a more logical explanation.”

“So many of yer kind here—trying to prove their systematic deductions.”

“All I can say, is that I am grateful you accepted my offer. Many had refused, no matter what price I proposed. I can’t see what they could be afraid of.”

Mr. Adair stopped again and faced Mr. Arnold. “What are you afraid of, Mr. Arnold?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“Fear hinders people, Mr. Arnold. Nothing to be ashamed of, but they have seen things in these woods that would make a man like yourself shiver in cold fear. I wouldn’t judge them just yet–” Mr. Adair halted unexpectedly. He raised his bow and arrow at something behind Mr. Arnold. He wasn’t scared as he prepared himself for an impending assault. “You better run, Mr. Arnold.”

“What–” Mr. Arnold became petrified.

“I need ye ta run, now! Whatever you do don’t look back.”

“But–”

“Now, Mr. Arnold!”

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