The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

The nightmares continued and soon Walter began to sleepwalk. It was the same dream. He was inside Archibal’s manor and he heard his father’s voice. He pursued the voice, but every time he would find a dark figure waiting for him. He woke up before it transformed into the crocotta. It was mostly the Psychai nudging him awake. When he finally opened his eyes he would find himself in unusual places like the cellar where Uncle Obel kept the barrels of ale and once in the Black Forest. Another night, he was somewhere in the woods. He was flabbergasted as he caught a glimpse of a floating lantern, vanishing before him. The Psychai was with him, shivering. At least he wasn’t alone, he thought. The minutes passed as he stood there in the darkness collecting his thoughts. He didn’t have the ring on him. That worried him. He didn’t know which way to go.

“Hallo, there young lad,” said a familiar voice. “Are we lost?”

Walter turned to see Brutus holding his lit lantern. Walter nodded.

“Then let me guide your way,” he signaling the way he wanted Walter to go. As they walked, Brutus didn’t say much, neither did Walter. The Psychai was looking troubled. The moon was have hidden by the mountain making the woods darker. It almost resembled the Black Forest without the boscage of overcrowded bramble, vines, and uprooted roots. A light breeze swept through the woods, but not enough to stir the leaves on the trees. It was algid and Walter didn’t have a coat. He was still in his pajamas, barefooted. He couldn’t see any spooks, but didn’t mean they were out there, watching, waiting. All Walter could feel was the chilly weather and the cold ground. He hoped that was enough to camouflage his fear.

They walked a long way and before they reached the edge of the woods, Walter could see the town. “Here you go, lad,” said Brutus. “Do be careful next time.” He faded away. Walter ran back to the inn trying to hold off his fear. He didn’t want the spooks coming after him or the phantom. He snuck back into his room and this time clamped the doorknob with his chair, in case he slept walk again. He hoped that was enough to stop him.

But it wasn’t. Another time he awoke standing at the top of the stairs just a few steps away from the attic. Walter couldn’t recall how he got there and when he looked down he was dressed in his normal clothes and not his pajamas but he was barefooted. The last thing he remembered was going to bed and putting on his pajamas or at least he thought he did. He looked up at the Psychai that flew in front of him. “What happened?” Walter looked at her. She burble her explanation, squeaking her words but Walter understood her. “You mean I slept walk my way up the stairs and you tried to stop me?” he said. She nodded. “I don’t recall much. I was having this dream and then I felt you calling for me and I woke up. I don’t recall dressing myself or anything else.” This was upsetting Walter. He never use to sleepwalk. What was happening to him?

“Walter!” shrilled her mother from the top of the stairs. Walter was startled by her sudden presence. “What are you doing up here? I’ve told you to not play in the corridors.”

“But I wasn’t,” Walter refuted.

“I heard you banging the walls, Walter. Don’t lie to me,” she deprecated him. “Now, go back downstairs before you bother the tenants.”

“Yes, mother,” Walter obeyed. He didn’t know what time it was but it must have been sunrise. He could smell breakfast wafting up the stairs as he came down. He thought it was Gertrude and Mildred but when he peered in he didn’t see anybody. Pots were cooking on the wood-burning stove, cakes was being baked, dishes were being washed and the fire in the fire place was burning. It was only Bonifacious starting the morning meal. The smell was tantalizing to get some breakfast, but Walter was much too tired to eat. He headed to his room, laid down on his bed and closed his eyes.

When Walter woke up he had missed breakfast and lunch. Wasn’t the first time, lately he was unable to stay awake long enough to eat anything. During the day he was enervated from the lack of sleep at night. He didn’t see Alden much and really didn’t care to. He was much too tired to do anything. He got behind on his assignments and neglected them all together. Whatever energy he did have, he lagged on whatever he was doing. He prefer to sit in the taproom and listen to the patrons conversing, but even that, he barely paid attention. When he did doze off the same terrible dream would recur over and over. He kept waking up in the most unusual places but the Psychai was there, tugging and pulling on his shirt to wake him. Suddenly, his sleepwalking took a turn for the worse.

One rainy night, the Psychai managed to wake him up before he jumped off the roof of the inn. He couldn’t even recall how he got there but he saw the ladder on the side of the inn. The Psychai helped him down with her magic, he had been too scared to get off. Another night, the Psychai pulled him away from the fire in the fireplace as he was placing his hands in it. He awoke to the sensation of heat. He was getting baffled and wonder if he was bewitched. It was distressing him especially the perils he was awakening to. What if he didn’t wake up next time? What if the Psychai couldn’t help him? He was getting scared.

What should he do? Archibal was still away. Maybe the gargoyles could help him? Odin! Why had he forgotten about Odin? The nightmares were causing him to be soporific, barely letting him think clearly. He had to see him quickly because his Uncle and mother were beginning to notice his lackadaisical behavior. He didn’t want to worry them. Odin would know what to do. He takes the ring and with the Psychai taking a hold of his shoulder, he is sent to Odin’s home.

The Legend of Archibal: The Phantom

Walter woke up in a startle. He was in his bed, in his room at the inn. The rain that thumped on the window pane made him realize it had only been a dream. A terrible dream. He looked to where the Psychai laid asleep in the open drawer. He laid back down but couldn’t go back to sleep. The horrible feeling stayed with him. He tried to think of some pleasant, something that brought him a happy feeling but he couldn’t. Instead, he began to recall what he had read in his history book and all the assignments Archibal expected him to hand over in his return. Walter eventually was overcome by slumber.

After his morning chores, Walter didn’t have the energy to study. He really didn’t have the energy to do much. He had to please ask Bonifacious to help him in his chores as he was barely able to stay awake. He went to his room and tried to sleep but he relived the dream over and over again. Maybe if he tried going for a walk he could keep his eyes open. Walter leaves the inn through the taproom, he didn’t want to risk bumping into that shadow again. Once on the streets, the clouds had parted and let in the sun. It didn’t warm him up but the cold kept him alert. Maybe he would bump into Alden but instead caught sight of the elder Mr. Clough, standing outside the same vacant house, Walter had found him last time.

“Hallo, Mr. Clough,” Walter said to him.

“Hallo there Walter,” Mr. Clough looked preoccupied, endlessly staring at the vacant house.

Walter glanced back at the house. He didn’t see anything curious with it that maybe Mr. Clough saw. “Is there something a matter, sir?”

“Too many vacant houses,” he said. “A friend of mine use to live there.” He pointed to the house. “He went missing many years ago. I always wondered what happened to him. I never did find out.”

“Why is that, sir?”

“Because I was a coward,” he said. “When that green light in the mountain appeared. He ventured into the woods and never came back. I waited for him then as I do now. I always wondered about him… His wife died years later and his two children moved out of town. They never returned. I didn’t do him justice. I should have but I was overpowered.”

“By whom?”

“It was different back then,” Mr. Bagley reminiscence. “I was part of the counsels in the town. When a few people went missing, we all gathered, along with the Mayor to resolve the situation. We wondered if we should search for them, but many risked losing more people. Before my friend went missing a few hunters went looking for him. One of those hunters never came back. People were panicking and outraged. They wanted the Mayor to do something about it. The Mayor gathered us in the town hall. There was argy-bargy in unison they all agreed no more men were to be sent for the missing ones. I spoke up. I was outvoted. They instead called for reinforcements from the city. When I insisted on the search they silenced me and I did just that. We just had to accept they were gone. I should have done something, perhaps I didn’t fight hard enough. The day the Black Coats marched into town it deterred people from entering the woods. Black Coats were to guard the town not retrieve them from the woods. Outsiders come but the Black Coats don’t bother with them… Alden’s Uncle also went missing but they refused to search for him too.”

It explained why the Black Coats were here. His father had told him that the Black Coats were only seen in the city or when a town was considered a sedition of the state. Walter never bothered with the Black Coats and he often saw them at the inn, but mostly people avoided them. Just then, two Black Coats pass by Walter, paying no mind to him or the ghost he spoke to. Walter wondered if they could see Mr. Clough.

“There has been more people missing,” Walter said.

“I’m not really surprised. If nobody cares than who does?”

“The Sullivan brothers and other hunters have tried.”

“The Sullivan’s did you say?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I knew of a Sullivan. He was the butcher. I think he had one son who worked for him. A skinny little thing he was. Now his father was a great hunter and tracker. His son must have grown up by now, eh,” he scratched his chin in thought. “I’ve forgotten how long ago it has been. His son must have sons of his own?”

Walter nodded. “What’s a tracker?”

“What—oh, well it is someone who can follow a trail,” he was still in deep thought.

“Mr. Clough, is there something a matter?”

“Does the light still glow in the mountains?”

“Yes.”

“I recall, outsiders use to come here to get a closer look at it.”

“They still do.”

“Well, at least that never changes.”

“Hunters won’t go in there anymore,” Walter points at the woods. “Not while the light glows but some have gotten paid to lead them to the mountains.”

“Who?”

“All they said was Albert’s son. “

“Albert’s son… Doesn’t sound familiar. The only Albert I knew was ten years old and his father was a merchant.” Thunder rolls over head. Walter looks up to see the grey skies forming over the woods. “I think you better go home, Walter. There is a storm approaching.”