The Unlikely Mercenaries
Madeline Summer Faye
I awoke early this morning with a Raven at my chamber window. A bad omen, perhaps. Or perhaps it had simply been tapping at it’s reflection, rousing me from my slumber. At breakfast, our daughters lined the dining table, as usual, and yet, one seat was empty. I must shamefully admit I was somewhat relieved to see it was Madeline’s chair.
“My dear, would you call down Madeline?” I said to my wife. She nodded quickly, setting down the dish she was stirring.
“Madeline!” I heard her call out as she tromped heavily up the stairs. For a few moments, there was silence, and then a violent scream. I motioned for my daughters to stay at the table, and went as nimbly as was possible up the stairs. My heart pounded, I knew early on that something was wrong with Madeline, I knew one day something terrible would happen.
She was unlike her sisters, the three before and two after her were all quite well mannered, refined, polite, and well, normal. Madeline came to us strangely, not by birth, but rather, by doorstep. That day was not unlike this one. It would have easily been a day lost from my memory had a small baby not been found on the manor doorstep by a servant. It was a lovely summer morning, and so we called her Madeline Summer. A name we grew tired of calling. A name etched in the brain of her teachers, classmates, and by and large much of the city. She was not a bad child, she appeared mostly normal besides her eyes—one dark brown, the other bright green—but she was followed always by darkness. Things started moving about the house, noises heard in lonely rooms, shadows seen twitching in long forgotten corners. We had dearly hoped she would grow out of her oddness, and yet I knew the truth, that everyday she became more and more curious. More odd occurrences surrounded her, as if she could somehow control this “darkness,” she became fascinated with death, etching skulls in her papers and sitting for hours in a nearby cemetery. As a teenager she began refusing to wear any color but black against her pale skin. The city priests accused her of witchcraft, and I could not much defend her. She avoided their watchful eye by withdrawing, and had recently kept mostly to her room. Everyone, our family included became uneasy around her, but I hoped and prayed nothing would come of it. My prayers it seems, were not enough.
My wife’s hand shook as she pointed into Madeline’s room. I turned my eyes and saw. The room was empty, Madeline’s things were gone, and window was open. But the walls were covered in what appeared to be blood, and etched in the blood were symbols of demons, death, insanity, and darkness. The largest letters were around the window on the wall facing the door. They read—WE’VE TAKEN HER BACK.
I covered my wife’s teary face with one hand and rubbed her back with the other.
“Don’t worry,” I whispered, “She’s gone now.”
-Lord Charleston Faye