The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

One late, gloomy afternoon, Walter and Alden were walking around town trying to reach the inn before it rained, when Alden was drawn to a carriage parked outside a building. Alden nudged Walter in the ribs to get his attention.

“That’s the Magistrate’s carriage,” said Alden.

A well-dressed, overweight gentleman steppe out of the carriage. He had a top hat, a black inverness dress coat, and a makila. He did not looked pleased, it showed even behind his mustache. Walter could see the edges of his scowl. He discounted his surroundings and hastily went inside.

“What could he possibly be doing here?” Alden said. “He never comes here unless it’s something very important. Last time he was here was six years ago.” Without hesitation, Alden ran towards the building with Walter right behind him. They went to the back of the building where they were less likely to be caught by the Black Coats. They peered into a window, inside, the Magistrate was pacing impatiently, up down the small room. A fire was burning in the fireplace.

“This is the Chief Constable’s command post of the Black Coats. It used to be an abandon house. When the Black Coats came in they took it over,” Alden kept his voice in a whisper. The door opened and in walked in the Chief Constable.

“And the Mayor!” the boys were surprised to see him too.

Walter knew the Chief Constable. He was a tall man with a slim build and austere features, semi covered by a dark beard. He looked as displeased as the Magistrate. The Mayor on the other hand looked nervous. “It must be pretty bad for the Magistrate to be summon,” Alden whispered.

“Magistrate, to what honor do I owe this visit?” said the Chief Constable as he took off his gloves and black coat. The Mayor did the same.

“I’ve been getting complaints about people going missing or wounding up dead. That is not something, I want to hear,” said the Magistrate. “Families have reported missing kin that have ventured into this town about some mountain. I want to know all about this. The last thing I want is families coming to knock on my door, remonstrating. It’s becoming a witch hunt in the city. These families want answers, retribution and they want me to give it to them. I demand to know myself. What is going on here?”

The Chief began pouring himself some brandy. “You can’t expect us to watch over everybody. Wouldn’t be surprised they go missing. My men are working around the clock, especially during this time. I can’t expect them to give up their sleeping hours to search for these missing people. Year after year. I have to deal with this.”

“Isn’t this the reason the Black Coats were placed here in the first place, to stop all this hysteria?” said the Magistrate.

The Mayor and the Chief Magistrate exchange glances.

“Well, you see, Magistrate,” began the Mayor. “People here–”

“They’re just stories, ghost stories,” said the Chief, standing to one side of the fireplace. “People here have fabricated some light appearing in the mountain.”

“That’s all! A light! Is this what’s going on!” wailed the Magistrate. “What kind of foolishness is all this! What light are you talking about? Well!” the Magistrate was exasperated.

“Many years ago,” the Mayor said slowly. “A light appeared in the mountain. Nobody knows why, but it can only be seen around this time of the year. For a month, the light glows, then, after the witching hour, it disappears, until next year. It’s this light outsiders go after. Town folk know better. Most hunters will not even venture out into the woods during this month. It is not safe… The rains make it hard. Outsiders arrive, out of curiosity and search for this light, but none ever come back.”

“What are your men doing about it,” the Magistrate approached the Chief.

“They are doing the best they can,” said the Chief. “I can’t lose them too.”

“Why is this light so important?” said the Magistrate.

“It’s not, Magistrate,” said the Chief. “Many who come, want to investigate it. To probe to town folks there is an explanation for this light to appear.”

“Why do they wind up missing or dead?” demanded the Magistrate.

“As I said before, Magistrate,” said the Chief. “The rains. There have been mud slides caused by the rains. Floods, downpours, it is easy to get lost, drown and get caught in it. Let’s not forget, wild beasts inhabit the woods. These outsiders are less than prepared to defend themselves in the face of danger. Even the most experienced mountain climber has gone missing or found dead, but yet, they keep coming.”

“For a light!” said the Magistrate.

“That is exactly right, Magistrate,” said the Chief. “Outsiders have been coming to this town for years and every year they come to chase after this light. What happens to them is out of our control. You can’t expect us to go chasing after all of them. It’s dangerous to head toward the mountains. The rain, pours quite suddenly and in a rush. By the time we find them, it is too late. Then there are those we never find. We have had rain for three months straight. Anybody with reason would know not to tread those mountains.”

“Is this true, Mayor?” The Magistrate turns to the Mayor.

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