Verrill Lebastion had prolonged his life for an additional one hundred and sixty-six years to this date; an orange sorcery trick that Klarington Everest showed him a long time ago. The only other person he knew was alive, who could share in the memories of that man was Baron Blackthorne of the Deephollow Hills. When Klarington was killed the two never believed they would see their mentor again; in fact after that terrible, unforgettable day, they swore a pact to never speak of it and went their separate ways. For one hundred years their lives did not cross paths again until one brisk autumn morning, when the familiar face of Klarington Everest appeared before them and brought them together. He was a bit different then they remember him looking near the end of his days, and suffering from a slight case of time-dementia. It soon became apparent that this was not their Klarington Everest. It was Klarington from the far past, and from another time-line all together.
Klarington told them that he had been traveling the chrono-drift looking for ways in which he could aid his friends, for they had the power to succeed at their goals, but not without grave cost. He wanted so desperately to reduce the price that they must pay for their victory against Balfurous. A noble quest he tried to sell them, one of selflessness, compassion and perhaps even redemption, however Verrill and Lucius were from the future and sadly they knew the truth of it; when great men retire to mundane lives, eventually they get restless…
Being of another time-line entirely, this matter truly did not concern them. However much Verrill knew this, he had yearned for the days of his natural youth and so hastily he agreed. Baron Blackthorne was a wiser more practical man who knew better than to indulge Klarington. And so Klarington and Verrill traveled through time and space, experimenting with hundreds of possible outcomes for Klarington’s time-line. Along the way they even bumped into a band of heroes in an ancient graveyard; the very same heroes that they intended to help. “Help is on the way” they promised the group, but over and over again that help did not arrive. Over and over they faced Balfurous and paid for the encounter with their very lives. It was both victory and tragedy. Each time many of them waited for some miracle that never seemed to come and tragically the location of this battle would become known as “The Hero’s Graveyard”.
An unknown amount of time had passed since Klarington and Verrill met with those Heroes. Verrill had calculated it once at seven years, but with all the confusion of time travel, who could really tell? Finally Klarington was satisfied with their findings. At last they were ready, and this time, the help would come…
* * * * *
The air was starting to get cold and the smell of smoke hung heavy in the air. The farmstead was only about a mile away and she could see the light in the windows. "I don't see any fire," she thought to herself as the dead leaves crunched beneath her feet. The moon was half covered in shadow and there were no others around. No one believed her when she told them about him. Who would believe her? There was far more belief in things to be scared of than someone who would help someone like herself. "I have a gift," she said. "That's what he said!" The wind was picking up and although it was dark, she noticed things move about her, very closely to where she walked as she left the thickened wood line.
The smell of smoke grew heavier now, but through it she could see the old Horton place, or at least, some kind of building. After taking a few more steps, the silhouette of a large smoldering barn could be defined against the skyline in the clearing. It wasn't the lights in the farmstead windows she had seen, but the dancing glow of a pyre somewhere in the middle of the fields. The sound of withered corn stalks chattered like those of hollow bones and she made her way into them. After entering the field and moving through the first several stalks of corn, she knew someone was there. Her eyes strained to see the pyre light through the tall waving stalks.
She thought she heard noises behind her, so she stopped to look slowly over her shoulder. The increasing winds blew smoke across her watering eyes, causing her to shut them tightly and wipe the stinging tears from her face. She opened her eyes and struggled to look for the light. That way, she thought, I can find that old barn, and maybe the farm house after that. It was at this moment the stalks parted and standing before her was a large, skeletal creature. Tattered clothes hung from its frame and blew free in the night breezes. As she looked up at the tall figure, she noticed that it had the gnarled head of an old pumpkin frozen in a darkly poised smirk. Pale flickers of dim light danced within its eye sockets and it raised itself up, towering over her. She could hear the grunting and whining of boars in the stalks around her and the hair on the back of her neck stood, rigid as she assessed what was happening around her.
Fighting off her emotions, she raised her arms in front of her, trying to mask her excitement. "Master," she exclaimed as she reached into her satchel. "I did what you said," she cried. "I brought him to you," she exclaimed, pulling a still bleeding, severed head from her bag. "Father told me not come, but I did anyway my Lord." Her speech was labored as she tried to choke back tears of joy. "What would you have me do now?" The girl bowed in reverence, tufts of the severed head's hair still thick between her fingers. The dark figure stood silent. It watched the girl with her tribute, and though it didn't speak aloud, it looked out across the billowing and waving stalks of corn for approval, but none had come.