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Peggy Powler & The Missing Children.
#1
"Fair travels" the man called from his sail-flapping Coble and the small woman dipping her bare feet in the warm estuary water
answered with the standard and appropriate reply. "Tight sheets and a clear wake, Sir" Peggy Powler offered along with a slight
wave.

The small boat continued its journey under the hot morning sun and as the clothed-capped man went back to his chores, the last
Witch of Underhill soaked in the serenity of this Summer Saturday. The surrounding salt marshes hinted that high tides were rare
visitors to the parish of St Martin's and as Peggy begrudgingly set her mind back to the problem in hand, a passing breeze brushed
some nearby reeds in an attempt to distract the small woman.

Ten children had gone missing over two years, all girls of a particular age and all disappearing in the evening. The families of St Martin's
had pressed the county's constabulary to investigate and apart from a silly superstition, no theory for the vanishings had been arrived at.
That was a month ago.

The idea of a Woodwose had grabbed the girls was a stupid one, Peggy knew a great deal of these elusive forest beings and invasion
of a household had never been known by those who understood the ways of the ambiguous creatures. There were wooded areas around
the village and there is enough herbage to sustain a small community of Woodwose, but apart from the footprint beside a small stream
that one of St Martin's residents had found, Peggy believed the proposal of a focused kidnapping by these hairy beasts belonged to the
ignorant.

No, something else was going on in St Martin's and the diminutive sorceress guessed it was more mundane than shaggy arms snatching
adolescent females from their beds. The small boat was reaching the edge of the Great Sea as Peggy Powler rose from her comfortable
seat, adjusted her pointy hat and set her own sails to continue the requested examination.

Freshly-washed bare feet trod confidently along the dusty track that led towards the area that the footprint was discovered and beneath
the shade of her wide-brimmed hat, the middle-aged necromancer pondered the variables involving the stolen children
What was their worth...? What abilities can a young girl provide? True, regular birthing had validity and Peggy had heard of such a situation
where a crazy male had built such a terrible 'family'. In fact, she'd later attended the man's hanging after finding the terrified girls stashed
in a cave up in the Grey Wolf mountains.

The coolness of the foliage was welcoming as Peggy stepped into the charitably-called greenwood, a 'copse' would be more accurate she
thought as she followed the small stream that ran through it. Ferns and wild Gingers carpeted the moist soil and the layer of dust that Peggy's
feet had acquired from the path now became sticky with the sun-starved earth.

It was only a minute later that the Witch came across the only alleged evidence that a seven-foot beast had taken up residence of the sleepy
coterie of St Martin's and at a glance, the obvious fakery caused Peggy to smile and stifle a giggle. To the uninitiated of folklore and ancient
races of the land, the large footprint could be taken as proof that a large lumbering wriggling-girl-carrying creature had passed this way.
It wasn't too-bad a fabrication.

The smile remained as small woman in the green poncho crouched to examine the single impression in the bank of the bubbling beck and
resisted the need to utter the query "Did he hop out of here?!" Large toes carved out with fingers and a heel that was obviously created with
the palm of the hand, the forgery hinted at a scheme Peggy knew she was way behind of and a plan she needed to catch-up on quickly.
This was man-made.

But Peggy's fading grin altered into a tight-lipped line of concentration as she peered closer to the footprint, there was another footmark here.
With her nose almost touching the mud and her bare-behind exposed to anyone passing, the Witch observed the faint trace of a smaller
impression, maybe the mark of a young person.

Getting to her feet, Peggy Powler wondered if a return to the small hamlet of St Martin's should be her first stop on the trail of the missing girls.
...................................................

When Peggy had first arrived at the village close to the coast, she was well-impressed by the layout of the white-plastered cottages and
the single paved-road that led to the reason for the community's name. Local history offers that a renowned holy man had been travelling
Calder's Way on a unspecified pilgrimage and came across a well-manicured plateau of grassed land surrounded by large standing-stones.

Not wishing to leave this ancient place without the blessing of his God, the venerated monk began his benediction. That was when the true
owners of the property appeared from the gloom of the surrounding cedars. Druids. The usual scenarios were rolled-out with displays of
magic and legends thrown as justifiable reasons why the sacred ground should remain within the Soothsayers' command.

Unusual for such stories, the roving priest agreed with the white-robed group of Magus and asking for the name of the hallowed domain,
the Elder of the Druids countered the query by asking the preacher's title. The response was 'St Martin' and so the leader of the mystical
religion proclaimed the flat lawn-like place of aged stones would now be known as St Martin's O' The Lawn. The latter-village's full name.

Peggy had spent the Friday afternoon with the nearest-title to a Mayor, a overweight man who bore the accolade 'Village Chief'.
The ruddy-faced gent in the faded tweed suit and sideburns that would rival those of a Woodwose explained the whole situation regarding
the disappearances of the youngsters. Sitting behind a gnarled desk in his dusty-but obtrusive home that doubled as the nearest thing to a
town hall, retired-major Horace Evans gave the impression that all avenues of investigation had been checked and all possible speculations
had been fully dowsed. It was a true mystery.

The first to be taken was Harriet Heron, a mousy-haired girl who lived with her grandmother. To bring income to the adopted home, Harriet
had advertised that she was willing to repair clothes and laundry if need be. It had been the eve of the Summer Fete and the quaint people of
St Martin festooned the monoliths with bunting and set long tables in the centre of the henge. Accounts say that Harriet took part in preparing
the festivities and the actual gaily-coloured flags that flapped in the warm evening breeze, were her contribution to the gala.

The preparations were done, everyone went home and Harriet Heron never made it to her grandmother's house. That was it.

As the regimental would-be Mayor droned on with his narrative regarding the other girls, Peggy's mind stayed with the initial disappearance.
The beginning always held the real reason and any pre-set statements held little clues, she needed to talk to the villagers.
...................................................

Peggy had decided to enjoy her lunch in the solitude of the countryside before visiting the twenty-or-so inhabitants of the tidy hamlet, only
because of the weather and the perfect surroundings. The sea was now over a mile away and could still be seen from the hillock that was
now doubling as a dining area. The magical satchel that Peggy always carried with her had produced a canteen of cool spring water and
a wax-paper-wrapped sandwich jammed with aromatic cheeses.

A hawthorn hedge that blocked the view to the village assured some privacy and a cheerful blackbird that lived in the long line of bushes
offered a pleasant melody in his territory-claim. Peggy ate her meal with relish and ruminated on her current quandary.

Saturday afternoon sneaked in quickly and the Witch's need to interrogate the residents of St Martin's resisted the urge to allow her leave
the tranquil place of rest. Faint braying of sheep added to the peaceful nature of the atmosphere and pulling her hat over her eyes, Peggy
convinced herself that a ten-minute nap would only help in the future inquiries.
...................................................

"Ma'am...?" the voice from beyond the shadows of the hat asked, "...I don't wish to disturb you, but have we need of your bedding-area"
the polite tones stated. The drowsy enchanter lifted the rim of her headwear and peered with half-lidded eyes at the two-foot-tall man
standing near her left shoulder. It was a Bogle, a wary -but smiling, creature that was known to reside alongside humans and often assist
in a human's tasks of maintaining a home.

Peggy slowly moved from her prone position and the Bogle retreated as she moved. "I recognise you from the stories my ancestors handed
down and I apologise for waking you" explained the little man in the dark-blue tunic and ragged pants. Getting to her feet, the yawning Peggy
realised that time had cheated her, the day had almost gone.

"My name is Juno and we..." the knee-high visitor waved a hand towards the shadows of the hawthorn hedge, "...my friends and I usually
take supper here on this hillock. By the way, it's a honour to meet you Ms Powler" Juno added and broadened his smile.
Peggy gathered her wool-wrapped thoughts and took stock of the intruder of her slumber, sleep that she thought she hadn't needed.
"Thank you for your courtesy and please accept my apologies for my unintended trespass" she said with a dry-throat. Juno flinched as she
reached for the canteen on the grass, but saw that the famous poncho-wearing magician meant no harm.

The sky was still blue, but an early evening azure now held sway in the heavens. Peggy grimaced inwardly and wondered where she would
spend the night. The countryside was not on the menu, but glancing over her shoulder she realised by the odd lantern light in the village that
it wasn't too late to make a visit.

"Do you know anything of the children vanishing in these parts?" Peggy asked the tolerant Bogle who was busy trying to coax his comrades
from the darkness of the bushes and with wide-eyes, he halted his task for the question. "No Ma'am, it's a tragic human business that we
have purposely steered of..." Juno answered "...but I'll wager there's no majick involved" he added enigmatically.

Straightening her hat, Peggy bid the Bogle and his hidden friends fair travels and adjusting the strap of her faithful canvas rucksack, she
set off for St Martin's O' The Lawn.
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#2
That is a cool story so far. Now I want to read more.
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#3
(04-17-2021, 02:51 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: That is a cool story so far. Now I want to read more.

Very well.
tinybiggrin


Kittie Bretton placed her bare feet on her bedroom floor and waited for the tell-tale creak that would alert her Mother downstairs.
As the twelve year-old increased her weight onto the smooth-planed wooden boards, Kittie smiled to herself when she realised
she was also holding her breath.

The Summer night was calling to her again and delicately making her way from the bed to the lead-lined window that looked out
towards the sea, the younger sister of Mary Bretton -who was taken last fall, breathed in the fragrance from their little cottage
garden.

The dark-blue Delphiniums nodded in the occasional breeze as they sat among a bed of pink Phlox and her mother's favourite,
the Foxgloves, stood like a waiting audience to see what would happen next. Gently lifting the window-latch, Kittie allowed her
eyes to be drawn to the panorama of colour below.

The young evening seemed magical to the thin girl with the straw-coloured hair.
Kittie's village lay almost two miles from the Great Sea and from where she currently stood at the half-open window, her eyes
that rivalled the Delphiniums' hue could just pick out the storm lanterns of the out-going fishing boats.
The scent of the Jasmine that huddled under the privot hedges along the sides of the cobbled lane out of St. Martin's wafted
across Kittie's nostrils and seemed to urge the girl to look further out of the window.

She did, just has she had done for the past four nights until Kittie would notice the glow from the downstairs light disappear
and leave the cottage garden in darkness. Then her magical world would be over when it was also assured of it's finishing by
Kittie's mother's footfalls on the stairs.

But for now, the evening belonged to Kittie Bretton and possibly... maybe, the approaching figure coming from the meadow.
Watching the small silhouette making it's way beside the heavy gorse bushes that coralled the infamous pasture where Maggie
had supposedly stolen two years ago, Kittie struggled to keep her thoughts of who this might be rather than dwell on the memories
of that terrible Autumnal night.

The countryside was warned as dangerous. No child was allowed to play there and certainly no girl could visit the fields and woodland
without an adult accompanying. Kittie wondered if the little stranger -in what now she realised was a large floppy hat, had observed
the ruthless monster lurking in the undergrowth.

Mentally tossing out the sad thoughts into the warm evening's gloom, Kittie turned her head from the left and scanned the small lane
that led away from the only place she had ever known. The off-white sea-stones of the single lane seemed ethereal in the oncoming
dusk and as the blue eyes of the girl followed the bone-coloured road that made it's way through the tall cedars towards the strange
plateau, she pondered on what her mother had said that morning about the dwindling occupants of thatched houses known as
St. Martins O' The Green.

The village comprised of only eighteen families now since the work was sparse out here in the county of Abbot's Mount. Because
farming only required seasonal employment and St. Martins was too far from the sea for the fishing option, many of the residents
of St. Martins had moved out to either the industrial town of Kersham or the mining community of Toole.
The disappearances of the girls also hadn't helped.

There were twenty buildings that made up the village and two weeks ago, Connie Marrs' cottage had become the latest empty house
when the woman -who's daughter had repaired clothes and created the quilt that currently occupied Kittie's bed, was said to left in
search of a better income in Durridge. Joannie Marrs had been the fourth victim.

Kittie and her mother would stay, her father had died when she had been a baby and when Kittie had occasionally inquired about him
to her older sister, Maggie had just said it was something that involved a war. Even at her age, Kittie knew it was a subject that she
shouldn't bring up with her mother and since the wound of losing her oldest daughter was still raw, Kittie's assumption had
been reinforced.
Best to just enjoy her magical evenings and the leave the past to the past.

Jack Bulmer's dozing sheep now resided in a field closer to the sea due to what Kittie had overheard two nights ago about how a
passing tinker had seen someone prowling about in the area that the stranger was approaching from. Could this be the 'someone'
coming for the village's next casualty?

Glancing once more to check on the dark shape that was heading towards the wooden gate that usually prohibited Farmer Bulmer's
sheep from consuming the contents of her mother's garden, Kittie focused back on the serene place beneath the line of cedars that
hid the lawn from the main road branded Calder's Way.

It held a strange aura, this rabbit-clipped grass that spread across nearly an acre of level land and the guardian-like trees that shadowed
the lawn. No one had ever built their home on the surreal plain and nobody had ever considered allowing their sheep to graze on it.

Yet, there it was. A plateau that implied it was once a hill and Kittie's imagination tugged to be let free of what may have created the
greensward. The legends had been poured over by herself and her older sister -before the horrible deed of course, and it had always
been a bone of contention to which was true.

Maggie had believed the tale that a Giant called Mellifor had fought with the sea serpent named Old Figgur sometimes told by the
fishermen who lived down in Durridge. The families would come to St. Martins when the village held the Summer fete on the lawn
-a celebration thar was two weeks from today, and some of the older men of Durridge would refill their flagons with mead and tell
their yarns to the children until the sun drew shadows from the surrounding cedars.

It was said that Mellifor swung the long-bodied creature above his head and in his verve, tore off the top of a hill that kept the worst
of the inland weather away from a settlement where Druids supposedly dwelt. The herculean man of fable had hurled Old Figgur
beyond the horizon and the uprooted soil had accompanied the monster out to sea to form the little island to the east called Caine's Holf.

But Kittie put her faith in the other story that she'd listened to at the feet of the grizzled man in the filthy sou'wester bonnet and
well-patched, two-sizes-too-big dungarees. Salty Elijah Cole had a better potboiler that told of majick, warlocks and witches.

Kittie grasped the window-sill tighter and stretched her slender neck to see the main character of old Elijah's folk tale, but the the
empty house that once belonged to the family of the village's only brewer hid the gnarled chunks of stones that stood at the nearest
part of the lawn.

The circle of tall monoliths had been built -if you believe the grubby, ancient man without teeth and a penchant for the brew, in tribute
for the great Magician called Phinneas The Cunning.

It was said that it began in a time before towns and villages had reached this part of the land, when huge beasts roamed the open spaces
between the massive forests and the deep, deadly sea. Elijah could be sometimes coaxed into elaborating on the creatures that brooded
in the darkness of the woods and swam in the waters just off where Durridge now sat.

Extracting such detail usually required one of the children visiting the wooden beer-keg with the retired fisherman's empty mug and hoping
the other adults at the Fete didn't notice.

"Aye, there'd be grizzled fiends about the land..." Elijah would growl with a wink. "...And the worst of 'em was Accam Dey, the foul wolf
from the Catskill mountains" he'd growl and take another gulp of his beer. "Ah've heard it said that even the Witches of Underhill were
wary to tread here..." he'd add as he surveyed his awe-faced audience sitting on the grass.
"...but only Phinneas dared to face the brute that could talk like a man" the little girl would hear and ignore the belch.
...................................................

Kittie felt the sudden need to look back at the approaching newcomer at the edge of the bare field and in doing so, pulled herself back into
the safety of the bedroom. Whoever it was, they walked with the impression of intent. The figure had clambered over the gate was now on
the small track that would pass her cottage that bordered the village.

A few moments later, the small person in the wide-rimmed hat clicked open the cottage gate and placed an unshod foot onto the rectangular
stones placed in a herringbone design that patterned the garden path. Young Kittie used all her stealth to half-close the window without a
sound, but there was something the little girl in her dead sister's nightgown will never know and never appreciate the symmetry of her earlier
act.
As Kittie held her breath during her clandestine task, it was the face of the stranger beneath the hat brim that was smiling in the knowing.

The knocking on the door brought everything back into a reality that forced any magical narratives to flee out into the warm summer's evening
and nudge Kittie back towards her bed. But she didn't, instead she flicked her mouse-brown hair to one side and leaned towards the narrow
gap of the open window.

The sound of the deadbolts and the creak of the door ajar announced that the stranger was somehow expected and with Kittie Bretton's brow
twisting into a puzzled frown, she heard the words "Me-name is Peggy Powler and 'Ah'm the last of the Underhill Witches... 'Ah believe yer'
have a problem?".
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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#4
The clock on the mantle-piece ticked it's hypnotic tattoo that only those with consumption and the twitching ears of a
midnight mouse can fully appreciate. The steady mocking cadence of man-made time told Peggy Powler of many
things that would usually go amiss to a regular visitor to the cottage.

The Witch in the crumpled-crowned, wide-rimmed hat and grubby green poncho peered at the ledge above the fire
and searched for more clues to why she'd felt drawn to this home. Peggy breathed slowly through her nose and adjusted
the strap of the large bag on her shoulder.

Glancing towards the kitchen where Mary Bretton was busy making a pot of tea, Peggy knew not to release the burden until
asked to. Since her days at the Carnival with her Mother, the almost-five-foot woman had kept to the code of the Spellbinders
and this late-Summer's evening would be no exception.

'Tick-tock' the clock offered and almost hid the small sound on the stairs, but Peggy caught it and pulling her eyes from the
ornaments on the mantle-piece, she also estimated the owner of the creak was light. Possibly a child.

The thatched house held two rooms downstairs and the wooden stairs divided them. Ash and lime plaster coated the walls
behind the many fading hand-stitched tapestries, well-worn corn dollies and a sprig of dried lavender.
Above the bare-footed woman who was more used to being outside than enjoying the warmth of a hearth fire, thick wooden
beams held an off-white and slightly spider-webbed ceiling.

"Would yer' take of some food, Miss Powler?" Mary called from the kitchen and Peggy's focus on who the listener on the stairs
may have been was broken for a moment. But dismissing the notion that whoever made the sound could be a nosy Elf or irked
Brownie, she only answered when she had stepped closer to the stairwell.

"Nay, thank you Ma'am..." Peggy said easily "...But iff'n yer' child is still awake, might be a slice of honey-bread would help her
sleep?" the smiling Fee added. This time the slight creak was of someone turning on the stairs to leave.

Peggy placed a dirt-smudged foot onto the clippy-rug in the corridor where both rooms and the stairs met and slowing turned her
head to see into the upstairs shadows. The small dark shape stared back, but remained a statue.

"It's said that children who wander at this hour are changelings who were born on the midnight..." the soft voice from beneath the
large hat commented. "...Could the gloom on these steps be such a creature?"
For the second time this evening, Kittie-the-shadow held her breath.

"You're supposed to be in bed, young lady..." Kittie's mother called from the little kitchen and closing the space to where her guest
was peering up the stairs, she added "...and yer've had yer' supper"

The mousy-haired woman with the wooden tray winked at the Witch from Underhill and continued her journey into the place she called
the sitting-room with a tray of hot tea and her Grandmother's finest china crockery.

Kittie waited a whole minute before she descended the stairs with her mouse feet and peeked into the room. There near the fire, the
small woman that had walked the summer's eve smiled at the girl she had seen watching her trek.

"The night's majick calls to yer' bones, little-one?" Peggy said softly and receiving a timid nod from the little intruder with the well-brushed
hair, the Witch did her party-trick with her hat. Placing a thumb into her mouth, Peggy knew that this act was always an ice-breaker and
many times, it had the ability to put people at ease.

The sorceress' eyes never left the small girl in the too-large night-dress as she puffed her cheeks and blew onto her thumb. The hat shuffled
on the Witch's head as if woken from a long slumber and then like wavering flower finding the spring sun, it rose until it added another
foot-and-a-half of height to the woman from Underhill.

"Abracadabra" Peggy whispered from under it's brim and enjoyed the look of awe from the girl with the beautiful blue eyes.
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#5
Wonderful story so far  tinybigeyes 

Thank you for sharing.
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#6
Mary Bretton stood watching the small woman sitting at the only table in the room and wondered what kind of
life Peggy Powler has lived before coming to St Martin's. During their talk, the widow had also pondered if it would
be appropriate to ask famous Witch to spend the night under her roof.
Although she was not used to having guests, one didn't dare deny the last Witch of Underhill a bed.
The neighbours were sparse, but still, what would they think?

"Where will yer' be sleeping tonight?" Mary asked during a small space of silence in the consultation and was
surprised by the reply. She'd chattered on so much about the residents of the village, a rare act for the lonely
dowager, that time had slipped by like a cheeky sugar-stealing Pixie.

Peggy had been mulling over the information that her host had imparted and for a moment, the small living-room
waited alongside the weary Bretton-Senior and the half-asleep Bretton-Junior for a response. It would be a poor
gambler that would've lost his shirt on the reply.

"'Ah'll be be spending the night up on the Green" the Witch murmured as if her mind was still assembling Mrs Bretton's
comments, there was something there... some connection between the missing children. However, Peggy's scrutiny on
what she'd heard and what she'd been asked, didn't blind her from noticing Kittie's worried gaze.

"They say great magic resides amongst the stones..." the now-alert girl whispered, "...they say Phinneas The Cunning
fought the horrible wolf..." she continued until her mother cut her off. "Enough with the foolishness of a drunkard, me-girl
and it's time you were sound asleep". Mary Bretton's voice was stern and strong, a rare show of emotion in a house of
loss. The clock above the dying fire ignored the silent scene.

Peggy reached for her hat and at the same time, checked to see if her teacup was empty. "Aye lass, 'Ah've heard the
tales..." she said and rose from her seat at the table. "...Phinneas was a great one" she added without conviction in
her words. Something that didn't go unnoticed by the other two females.

To lighten the mood, Peggy asked about the beautiful well-stitched hangings on the wall as she hoisted her large bag
onto her shoulder. There were four, all with colours that told of countryside and a life of rural tranquillity.

The tapestry nearest the cottage door displayed a scene that was obviously taken from a view from this actual house.
The sea-stone lane, the surrounding foliage and at the top of the arras, the lawn with its tall monoliths looking like fangs
against the darkness of the trees behind them.

Mary Bretton smiled sadly and stepped-up beside the smaller woman in the green poncho. "Ah yes, places where one
can lose themselves" she said softly. The pair gazed at the threaded vistas, one soaking in the peaceful landscapes
whilst the other ruminating on the gossip revealed earlier.

"How Maggie stitched such beauty is beyond me" Mary murmured and somewhere under the Witch's floppy hat, a faint
spark told Peggy to remember that comment.

The last Bretton child was now asleep, the teapot was empty and midnight was an inch of candle away.
The sacred place that gave the dying village its name awaited and Peggy Powler had some thinking to do.
With a thank you at the door and patting hand on the shoulder of the sad woman who brewed weak tea, the bare-footed
Wizard set off for -what some may consider, her bedroom.
...................................................

"It's a bit late for a Yetun to be out-and-about, isn't it?" Peggy said easily as she kept her eyes on the cobbled road leading
up to the well-preserved lawn. The not-quite-a-shadow beneath the hawthorn hedge failed to keep still at the comment, and
the sigh of failure only added to the creature's whereabouts.

He was around a foot tall and tentatively avoiding a nomad tulip that nodded in his passing, Treacle Thistle stepped out
from where the thorns had threatened to tear his hat. "Fair travels, Ma'am" the Fayman reluctantly greeted the small woman
scanning him in the road and for a moment, he was tempted to flee.

Treacle wore a brown felt hat that had seen better days, the brim was well-thumbed and sported a large hawthorn barb that
could leave a nasty mark if he wasn't careful. A dark-brown tunic above the obligatory moleskin pants offered a look -that with
the right conditions, could help a Yetun keep a low profile from the humans here-abouts.

Peggy was about to crouch down to keep any conversation on an even-keel when she recalled that she was naked beneath
her poncho. Midnight darkness or not, it would be unseemly for a renown sorceress to be in such a situation.

"My name is Treacle Thistle and I was just going home from visiting a sick friend.." the flustered Brag answered, but the bright
green eyes beneath the hat told otherwise. "...Please Witch, let me be on my way?" he forced his voice to be demanding, but it
still implied a plea.

He'd heard about the children going missing in the human community and it was no leap of deduction to suggest that was why
the woman standing in the lane was here. But still, it was none of his business and best to keep a nose out of it.

Peggy adjusted her satchel-strap and applied the waiting-game. A silent stare can give any Yetun the heebie-jeebies, something
her mother had told her back at the carnival. Memories of those days threatened to soften Peggy's unblinking gaze, but such a
visual study tends not to take long on breaking these types of Bogle.

"You...you're here about the little 'uns going missing, I overhear things" Treacle stuttered and went to nervously reach for his headwear.
The sudden movement from his taller company caused him to flinch, but the speedy motion managed to pluck the thorn from his hat
before he impaled his fingers on it. "I am" Peggy said smoothly and showed Mr. Thistle the reason for her hasty grab.

Red-cheeked and grateful, Treacle realised he was in the shadow of someone smarter than himself and maybe even part of something
he wanted to avoid. But the wicked-looking wooden spike being tossed back into the hedgerow was evidence that some-sort of
gratitude should be reciprocated.
The night waited for the unenthusiastic thanks.

"I mean no disrespect, but do you know about Chimers?" Treacle asked into the shadow of the wide-rimmed Witch's hat and the faint
-but confident, nod of affirmation told him he was dealing with no layman here. "Well, those poor souls who were taken from St Martin's
were all Chime Children, all born between the Witching... between twelve o'clock and four in the morning." the anxious Yetun supplemented.

Peggy breathed heavily through her nose, a gesture of annoyance that Treacle understood fully. Chimers held the ability to touch the other
realms of reality, to converse with spirits and in some cases, cure ailing crops and heal animals.

This wasn't about a randy Wodewose or even some lurking Gypsy with a mind to sell children, this was deeper. The Bogle called Juno had
earlier said he doubted 'majick' was involved, but standing to her full height on the path to the monoliths, Peggy now wondered if something
darker had come to St Martin's O' The Lawn.
Something from the Other-side.
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"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
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