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Dedicated to my sons, Ayden and Tristan.


A special thanks to Michael Johnson and Kimberly Hoyt for their skill and honesty.






Chapter One



Fall

The Year of the Red Leaf


I am called Dréoteth.”

I enunciated each syllable slowly, unable to abide the pleasure of his death with the wrong name on his lips.

Dray-o-teth.

It was the first time I have uttered it in—I do not know how long. Decades. Centuries. Mister Mathan, a prominent member of society, now knows exactly who and what has been picking off the citizens of Malmsbury.

I worry not for my safety. The dead tell no tales.

If the villagers knew what an atrocity walks among them, as one of them, they would look upon me with horror rather than intrigue and curiosity. But they do not.

The people have no idea that the scribe in their midst is the one responsible for their nightmares, for the dark whispers in the corners of the inns and taverns.

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