The morning sun slid hesitantly through the broken doorway. Flies began to gather around pools of blood and stray limbs. The lazy buzzing a sharp contrast to the panicked screams and roars of rage that filled the house hours earlier.
The voice rang through the silence. Startled Sionn turned to the shattered doorway. A figure in long dress holding a crooked staff stood silhouetted by the sun. As she stepped into the room, he could see the wrinkled face of an elderly woman. He shook his head dismissively.
“She is tainted, old woman. And mostly dead anyway,” Sionn said. “She cannot be saved. Besides, you’ve no voice here.” He began to lift his blade again.
“Oh, but I do, boy. I so do.” She tapped her staff on the ground. A vibration began at her feet and traveled swiftly to Sionn. His arm numbed and the blade fell to the floor.
The other men backed warily away. “Don’t run off, now, children. I’ve more work for you.” Shedchuckled as the group looked nervously at each other, waiting for Sionn to tell them what to do.
It was the woman that spoke to them. “ First, bring that girl out of this filth.” When there was no immediately movement, she lifted her staff. Three men hurried to Annag’s side, lifted her roughly and scurried for the door.
“Carefully, children! Let’s not make her wounds any worse! And find a litter, you’ll move her to my home.” She turned to the other men standing amid the carnage. “The rest of you, gather what fuel you can. This must be burned. All of it. Burn the dead hounds as well.”
Sionn spoke finally, “Why not leave the girl to burn, also? She’s cursed. Whatever they were, she carries that taint now. I grew up hearing stories, I’d not believed them before, but, now…I say again, she cannot be saved.”
“I say she will be saved.” The woman’s eyes flashed at Sionn.
He snapped back, “And who are you to say this?”
“Me?” The old woman grinned unpleasantly. “Why, I am Lillian”