The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

“He is not home.”

Walter looked around, but saw nobody. The psychai tugged on his sleeve to get his attention then hid behind him. He turned again and almost fell backwards in fright. Two large figures loomed over Walter.

“Don’t be afraid,” one said. “We won’t hurt you.”

“We normally don’t eat children,” said the other, “unless you bring harm.”

“I-I bring no harm.”

“Of course you don’t. You came to see Archibal,” said the first.

“Who are you?” Walter asked.

“We are gargoyles,” said the first. “I am Amias. This is Agi.”

They were enormous, as large as boulders, but Agi was broader. They were friendly indeed, though their appearance was ferocious.

“Are you the one I see up on the ledge?”

“That is me,” Amias said. “We live up there, high up on the manor.”

“Are you the gargoyles Archibal told me about?”

“That is right, Walter,” said Amias.

“You know my name?”

“Of course we do; Archibal told us about you.”

“We’ve watched you from above,” Agi explained.

“Where is Archibal?”

“He hasn’t been home in a while,” Amias reported. “He left before the rains came. Cadi went with him.”

“Where did they go?”

“Archibal will tell you when he returns,” Amias assured him. “For now, no one is allowed in the manor. He bolted it shut. No one can go in and no one can get out. The magic protects the inside, but we are always here.”

“We never leave,” Agi added. “Well, we sometimes like to stretch our wings.”

“I see you brought along a friend with you,” Amias glanced at the psychai, timidly hiding behind Walter.

“I-I was in the woods,” Walter said. “She was trapped by some branches when something came after us—”

“This is the time of the month when you see things,” said Amias. “Horrible things.”

“The woods are no place for you this time of night. What were you doing there?” Agi asked.

“I was…I was following a light in the mountains.”

“The light! You can see the light? Not many can see those lights or even get close to it.

Walter nodded. “I can hear it too.”

“I dissuade you from chasing the light,” Amias warned him. “Nothing good comes from chasing it. You need to ignore what you see and hear.”

“I also saw something flying in the skies.”

“That was probably the other gargoyles.” Agi blushed. “This is the only time when we don’t have to hide. We can roam free in the skies and not fear that people will see us. They think we are dragons.”

“The witching hours is what they call this time of year,” Amias explained. “The light glows scaring the animals away, but it brings something else: these figures that live in the darkness. We sometimes can see them from a distance. We think that’s what scares the animals. Archibal should return soon. In the meantime, you need to go home. It will be safer there.”

“Oh, Amias,” whispered Agi. “What about the psychai? She can’t stay here.”

“No, she can’t. Not until Archibal comes back,” Amias agreed. “And it’s too late for her to leave. The others have already left.”

Walter glanced at the psychai. She looked heartbroken, scared, and cold. He realized the stampede of animals he saw that one night was the night they were escaping for safety and she had been left behind.

“She can come with me,” Walter offered. “That is, if she wants to.”

The psychai smiled and nodded.

“You better go home now,” Amias repeated.

Walter nodded, and the psychai took hold of him. He pulled out the ring and went home. When he arrived in his room, the rain was coming down. He made a bed for his guest in one of his dresser’s drawers, grabbing a blanket and tucking it in. The psychai quickly snuggled in and fell asleep. Walter yawned, feeling tired himself. He changed into his pajamas, dove in bed, and fell asleep to the soothing sound of rain outside.

The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

Was this the light outsiders came for? Whatever it was, a low, humming sound came from it. Walter went deeper into the woods, recalling what Alden had told him of a marsh.

Something made Walter look up, where he saw four creatures flying. Witches? Dragons? Fairies? He couldn’t tell, but it made him nervous. It could have been an owl or an eagle, but the creatures were too large to be either. Maybe this is what Mr. Sullivan was talking about: bizarre things happening in the witching hours.

Walter kept walking. There was a lull. The leaves rustled in the trees, a cold wind blew, and Walter wished he had brought a coat. He walked a few feet further when another sound caught his attention. It was a whir.

He picked up the pace feeling a little rattled after seeing those creatures flying in the sky. Whatever that whirring sound was, he didn’t want to know. He had lost track of the light in the mountains, but he could still faintly hear it. Now he was worried about the sound behind him. As he tried to make a run for it he tripped over an exposed root, falling to the ground. When he looked up, he saw a psychai stuck between two branches in the tree. It struggled fiercely to release itself. Walter has never seen a psychai before. It was a nymph the size of a fruit bat with lovely butterfly wings. The wings were outlined in black, filled with vibrant purples and pinks that glowed in the dark. Walter stood up and slowly approached the psychai. When she saw Walter she struggled even more.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Walter assured her. “I am going to help you get unstuck.”

He pulled the two branches apart so the psychai was able to fly off, but it came back and pointed at something behind him. The horror on her face told Walter he was endangered. He turned around to face a dark shadow and it wasn’t alone. Other dark shadows were coming near him. There was something malicious about them. The psychai tugged on his sleeve, but as fast as they were advancing he knew he couldn’t outrun them. He fumbled with the Odyssey ring and before the shadows were upon him, he transported himself.

In a flash he was at the manor with the psychai still holding onto his sleeve. He looked around for a moment. His heart was still beating fast. What were those things? For now, he didn’t want to know.

He walked up the steps to the manor and knocked using the brass handle. The doors didn’t open. He knocked again and still nothing happened. He walked back down the steps and looked up to see if any lights were on, but everything was dark. Where was Archibal? He went to knock again but was stopped by a male voice.