The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

The Mayor was seated in an armchair. “This town has been built by superstition. Rumors have spread far and wide. This is home to the Black Forest. Since, I can remember, outsiders have ventured into that forest. People here know the probabilities. We don’t stand in the way of the outsiders. If they choose to not heed the warnings, how can I stop them from going up the mountain or the Black Forest?”

“I can’t believe what I am hearing!” the Magistrate was enraged. “You two sit back and let this happen.”

“We have gotten over a hundred outsiders coming through this town,” said the Chief. “This month alone. We are trying to keep up with many of them, plus the residents in this town. We protect the residents first. Outsiders last. These outsiders go into the mountain on their own risk.  We can’t stop them. We only do our best. I have asked for more–”

“We’ve been through this before, Chief,” said the Magistrate. “You have all the men you need. I will not authorize more constables for this town.”

“I have only twelve constables that patrol this town,” said the Chief. “We also protect the roads, merchants use. This town has grown larger. We get a constant flow of travelers and outsiders that tread through here. My men do the best–”

“I’ve heard enough. This Black Forest is nothing but poppycock. It’s just a myth to scare people. Surely, men of your character does not believe such lunacy. Its outrages, that’s what this is,” said the Magistrate at which the Mayor shot him a glare. “But now, there is a light in the mountain. Who fabricates all this rubbish? Maybe if you encouraged them to stop their story telling it wouldn’t spread like wild fire, causing such chaos. What kind of town are you running, Mayor? You let superstition run your town.”

“This is not drivel talk,” said the Mayor. “Many unexplained things have occurred here. To make such things trivial is blaspheme. How outsiders, choose to act toward the mountain and the Black Forest is not our authority. We can post as many signs to keep out, but they will continue to trespass.”

“Maybe that is what should be done!” said the Magistrate.

“Do you expect us to post signs around town to not enter the mountains?” the Chief wanted to be sure he heard right.

“Yes,” said the Magistrate. “Keep people out. Post all the signs that you need to! Anything, to stop this malarkey. Even around that Black Forest you call haunted. Post more constables in the outskirts of the town. Is that understood? I don’t want to be summoned here again. I want this matter solved!” With that said he gave one stern look at the Mayor and the Chief and left in a huff. The Mayor was quiet while the Chief calmly drank his brandy.

“Did he say to put up signs?” the Mayor finally said.

“That is exactly what he said,” said the unconcerned Chief as he inspected his glass. “That is exactly what we will do.”

The Mayor only shook his head displeasingly. Walter understood all too well that signs wouldn’t deter people from climbing the mountain. Walter sat down under the window. Alden did the same.

“Signs,” Alden was bewildered. “Some people don’t even know how to read and he wants to post signs.”

Walter could hear the Mayor and the Chief continue to converse, but he wasn’t interested in listening. He felt a few drops of rain. The Magistrate didn’t seem too concerned about the fabrications of the light. It would have been impossible for Walter to have believed it himself if he hadn’t seen it. He could still hear the low humming sound. A few more drops of rain fell.

“I think we better go,” said Walter. Alden agreed and they both crept out from behind the building into the street. They had only walked a few feet when the rain came pouring down. They both ran towards the inn as fast as they could.

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.