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Samhain's Child: Part One

Dancing after dark through the graveyard on Samhain, the boy came upon something unexpected; he came across a burley man with a thick, red beard sitting on a small, square gravestone.

The man did not see him at first; he was far too busy sharpening the knife in his hand to bother noticing one, small boy. So, the boy hid as quickly as he could behind one of the larger gravestones and watched the man.

He worked slowly and mechodically, concerned very much with the edge of his knife. The boy was sure that it must have been something very important to him, otherwise he would not have been giving it so much care.

The boy wondered what the significance could have been. Was it a gift from someone that the strange man cared about? Had it been something that had once saved his life? What if it was magic? How exciting that would have been. He would love to have something that was magic, but if hat knife was, he was not going to try and take it from the man; it was sharp, and he was large.

He could make it his mission to try and find something else. How exciting that would be!

He smiled broadly to himself at the idea, now wanting to leave this place and start his search, but if he wanted to search far, he was going to have to sneak away. His mother was not going to just let him wander off searching for treasure. She would demand to know where he was going, and once she found out his plan, she would probably put him to work so thoroughly for so long, he would no longer like the idea of going off anywhere when he was finally finished.

His father would back her decision, the boy was sure, even though he was sure that his father had been a boy once, so he should have understood

As he was trying to think of arguments that he could have made to his father to change his mind, he realized that it was quieter than it had been a few moments before, and he looked toward the man. With a shock, he realized that the man was looking directly at him, but he couldn’t tell if the expression was one of benevolence or malice.

Whichever one it might have been, the boy’s first instinct was to turn and run, not liking that he had been found out, or that the man’s eyes were on him; but as he started to turn so he could flee, the man called out to him, and he stopped.

“You don’t need to run away,” the man said. “Come sit and talk with me for a while. I haven’t had company for a very long time, and I am getting lonely.”

The man’s voice had sounded somewhat gruff, but the boy didn’t feel like there was any malice in it.

Maybe he was safe in going to speak with the man for a while (but the voice in the back of his mind screamed at him that this was a horrible idea, and he was going to be tortured and killed). After a moment’s deliberation, he decided that he would get a little bit closer and have a conversation with the man; he didn’t plan on getting so close that the man could have made a small jump that would have stuck the knife into him, and if he could stay just far enough that he could have a head start if he was chased, maybe he would be alright.

Getting to within a yard of the man, he climbed onto one of the headstones and sat down, staring timidly at the man. Seeing the boy’s expression, the man laughed warmly, and he set the knife out of sight.

“Now,” the man said, as his laughter ended, “what would a young thing like you be doing in a graveyard on Samhain, and after dark and all? Don’t you know it isn’t safe for such things as that? You should be at home, where you would be safe.”

“I come here all the time,” the boy said. “I’m not afraid.”

“That is very well that you are brave,” the man said, “but even the bravest have some fear, when it is wise to be afraid.”

“You’re out here after dark,” the boy pointed out, “and you’re not afraid.”

“Who said I wasn’t afraid?” the man said.

“If you were,” the boy said, “you’d be back at home, where it was safe, just like you told me to do. You wouldn’t be sitting here, sharpening your knife.”

“Who said I wasn’t at home?” the man said, and he suddenly sounded bitter, making the boy start to get to his feet so he could make a run for it. Seeing that he had startled the boy, the man held up both hands and patted at the air. “Don’t leave, please. Stay. I didn’t mean to scare you. Sometimes I just become overwhelmed with my emotions about what has happened to me.”

“What are you talking about?” the boy said. “What happened to you?”

“Are you sure you want such a story?” the man said, and the boy nodded vigorously. “Well, ok, I suppose I can tell it too you, but you should get yourself comfortable. It’s a long story.”

The boy became excited, and he repositioned himself on the headstone.

“Well,” the man began, “it all started when the group of Romani camped on the outskirts of my village . . .”

The Romani had been camping at their most recent site for only a few days when word of their presence made it back to the villagers, and they were none too pleased. They did not want that kind of riff-raff so near to their homes and children. It wasn’t just that they were sure that anytime Romani were nearby, their children were in real danger of being stolen outright, it was also that their children would be tempted to do immoral things (and maybe even run away).

Better to keep them far away, so that their families would be safe.

Already, some of the children had begun making their way to the campsite, wanting to ctch a peek of the strangers and their bizarre customs.

One of those children was a small boy with red hair, who had never seen any Romani before, and he was desperate to not be the only child to have never seen any of them. Being the good boy that he was, he asked his mother if he could go, but she flatly refused, telling him that it would be far too dangerous for him to do such a thing.

But his desperation making him sure that his mother did not know all of the truth, or she was giving him false information. He was determined to find a way that he could make it out to their camp, so that he could finally have some first-hand experience with them (even if they might be as dangerous as the adults claimed that they were).

The problem was that his mother was watching him like a hawk, and it was difficult to get away from her; each time he thought he might be close enough to making it away, she would hook him and bring him back home (claiming that some chore needed to be done right then).

It was almost a full week before he was able to make it out to the campsite, and he was amazed by all of the colorful clothes that he saw; the people of his village wore plain, rough clothes, but the Romani wore bright, vibrant attire.

They went about their camp, looking otherwise very much like any group of people that he had ever known before; they were cooking, taking care of their animals, telling their children to be more mindful of what they were doing . . . nothing that would have signaled that they were the horrible wrong-doers that he had always heard that they were.

Feeling a bit more brave, after watching them for a while, he drew as close to the camp as he dared, hiding himself behind a tree and hoping that he would not be seen.

There was a group of children playing a game, and they looked as though they were having a grand time. He wished that he could have gone out to play with them and join in their fun; but he still was not ready for such a large leap; he wasn’t sure yet what they might do if some strange boy suddenly presented himself to them and asked to play. They might be just as suspicious of him as the adults of his village were of them.

Not paying attention to what he was doing, he stepped out farther than he had intended to and was completely exposed to anyone who might have been looking in his direction. And he didn’t realize that this was the case until a woman called out to him.

“Boy!” she called, and he looked at her with a start when he realized that she was speaking to him. “Come over here. Are you hungry? Get yourself something to eat. There is enough room around our fire for company.”

He was on the verge of turning and running back home as fast as his small legs would carry him, but when the children he had been watching stopped playing their game and drew a few feet towards him, he decided that it might be ok to have some of their food.

What would it hurt?

Surely, everything would be fine if he only stayed with them for a little bit.

So, he cautiously made his way toward the woman that hd called out to him, and when he was within f few feet of her, he saw a shimmer of light and felt a blast of light.

He froze, unsure of what was going on, and after he had taken a few breaths, he changed his mind about accepting their food and turned to run back home, but he was no longer looking out at the woods that he had been hiding in; he was looking out onto a vast grassland, and his jaw dropped in wonderment and fear.

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