Headstone House - Gravegrass
Updated: Oct 13, 2022
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By: T.C. Pendragon
A grave is where you go to end a story. And the more stories that end, the more headstones you find. I suppose if you build a house atop the headstones, it becomes a place that welcomes those that are already dead. And if you listen closely to the walls, you can hear the cold pulse that still runs through them. And all the stories they carry. I lived in a house like that for 204 years. The Headstone House, I called her. And I know all her stories. This is but one.
October 31st, 1819.
That was the night I arrived in Flint, Michigan.
It was the night the Headstone House was born. And it was the night that Richard Hive died to make its foundations.
On that night, Flint was hardly a village at all. It was a cluster of small cabins, all with a smokestack burning, and filled with fur trappers. The gentle crackling of cinders and sloshing of ale were illuminated by the soft light of wax candles, and the burning of the Harvest Moon.
This may have been a time for revelry in towns like this.
But nobody dared walk into the darkness without someone to accompany them. Not with the corpses being found every day, and the ghastly stories being told every night.
Everyone had their own superstitions about what haunted the woods. Perhaps an ancient monster did not take kindly to its forest being cut down. Perhaps the moon had rekindled the hearts of the animals and turned some of them into monsters. But the truth was much more dangerous than they could fathom.
The monster that haunted their woods and drained their men into shriveled husks was walking among them. Drinking their ale, listening to their stories, and waiting for one more to step outside the light of the cabins and into the welcoming embrace of darkness.
That monster was me.
I had traveled between the settlements that were scattered across the Territory of Michigan for seven years. A nightwalker, like me, could find a great bounty of men, just by following the columns of smoke and paying a visit to the local tavern.
They would drink their ale and tell their stories, and I would watch and wait.
When the ale or stories ran out, one of them would stumble into the darkness and try to find their way home. It was the perfect time to claim one of them. It was a simple game that I had grown quite fond of winning. But fewer men were wandering the shadows every night. The taverns had grown brighter, and the stories told inside them became darker.
Killing half the trappers in the township will do that to a community. As much as I understood, and even relied on their fear, this had become quite the inconvenience.
Not because I was running out of towns. They cropped up like weeds in those days. But I started to see strangers scattered among the crowd. Men who were drinking less and watching more closely. Men dressed in black and were especially attentive to the arrival of strangers. They didn’t feel the need to drain their bottles, or listen closely to the stories. They had heard the stories before. And judging from the strange weapons they carried, they knew how the story would finally be brought to an end.
Every town that lost a man suddenly gained a Watchman. A hunter of nightwalkers that could discern calculated fact from deceptive fiction.