31 Days of Halloween #4

The Goosemother Scroll Episode 2 (with music by Papalin)

Text below for those who'd like to read along.

But inside the humble little cottage there was only joy. Four piglets were soon born to boar and sow: three sons and one daughter. In the tradition of all swine, they named the firstborn Strongheart, for he was born squealing and kicking as if to fight. The secondborn they named Meekfoot, for he came into the world shivering and quiet. The third was so tiny and still they feared he had not lived, but when he lifted his head and loudly squeaked, they rejoiced and called him Dawnsong.

Before the fourth child could be named, however, a dreadful sound pierced through the night. A howl, long and cruel and close. I am here, this howl said. As mother and father pig looked at one another fearfully, that awful note was answered by other howls farther away. Yes, brother, they said. And we are here.

“Why?” asked Mother. “What could they want?”

In answer, the door burst open and then fell from its hinges, and in the doorway stooped a wolf as tall as the cottage itself. He wore a red hooded cloak that was much too small, and the grizzled snout protruding from it dripped with blood.

“What do you want, wolf?” Father asked in his bravest voice, stepping between his family and the intruder.

The wolf let his hood fall. His face was horrible to look upon. It was scarred and matted, with two yellow eyes that could turn the bowels to water. He pointed to the babe in Mother’s arms and snarled.

“That one.”

Mother gasped and clutched the girl child close, but the wolf only laughed.

“Either you give me one of your children, or I’ll take them all!” he threatened. “For tonight the wolves take our due.”

Father charged, prepared to defend his family with his life. And with his life he did, but it was the wolf who won. The ragged monster moved toward Mother but stopped short.

“Not you,” he growled. “You will tell the others. Tell them to fear.” Then he leaned down and plucked Dawnsong from his bedding before disappearing into the night, leaving Mother alone with three crying piglets to comfort and a husband to bury.

The stories say the screams that followed the wolves that night could be heard all the way to the abbeys below Mount Historius. That night, the stories say, the heart of hope itself was broken.