Papa says that when a boy hits twelve he needs to be learning what his father has to teach him. I know how to ride and I know how to listen, and Papa says I need to get away from Maman’s skirt hems. In three years, Papa says, I’ll be a man. Being his only boy, Papa says, I’ll get to take over his life rent on the home and drive the Lord of the Manor’s herds. Papa says the sheep need sheered and if we get back before sundown we get a lamb for the pot. Lamb’s always been my favorite.
The woods along the trail between Saront and Lessair have had howling and snarling at night. Word three towns over is that a man disappeared. Papa says it was because he was drunk and fell in the lake. Laurent says his papa told him that it was the Faerie to the East. Philipe’s papa says its the Faerie of the Sea scaring us before they sack our cities and take us as their slaves. Papa told Philipe’s stay away from the drink and check his grain.
Papa has been talking about how the sheep drive and how the dogs help. He lets out a sharp whistle that sends the dogs into a creeping, pointed crouch around the sheep, their black ears pointed high and their intent faces cleft by a peak of white. The sheep take to jogging. Papa laughs and laughs and the dogs give chase.
Papa says that the sun’s going down and that one of our dogs must gave a howl. There are thieves on these roads he says. We need to hurry home. Papa don’t believe those stories told around the fire. Must be wolves he says.
Spots of grass break up the trees. Papa says that’s where they cut out in the past. One of our hounds bays again. Papa says a sheep or two must’ve gotten away, else the hound wouldn’t howl. He goes to collect them. Always take the right path at the fork in the wood Papa says. I take the right path.
Papa didn’t ever say what to do when the howling gets closer…
From the hand of Magistrate Etienne Leclerq, with “Ss” that look like “Fs”:
Let the record show that Michel and Truman, villeins of the Lord of Fauconcours Manor, did not return this day from their herding. The herd was found grazing outside of the town Saront and two horses, still with tack and saddle, ran into town afraid and covered in blood. Their deaths are noted in this record and sent to the church for permanent recording. Let it further be known that the three daughters of Michel and the wife of Michel have one month from this day hence to explain how they shall pay their life-rent for their cottage. If this is not provided to this office by that time, then they shall be pressed to leave this home.
Yours in the Creator’s Faith,
The Magistrate Leclerq.