Witcher Man and the Case of the Guillotine Society, pt. 19

James’s Note: Willow trees seem to have been running amuck since medieval times. We see it in everything from Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter. Some one should probably look into that. Here, we see the Witcher Man pulling a very large, very dangerous rabbit out of his hat. It just might not be enough.

The earth beneath our feet began to shake with terrible force. I noticed Israel had leapt backward and looked like he was trying diligently to phase through the stone of the far garden wall with little success. I took a few steps backward myself as the great tree writhed, it’s roots ripping free of the soil and showering it into the sky. 

It slammed it’s long branches to the ground all around, missing me by inches. It reared up on its root system, rising like an angry sylvan god. I have to admit, even I was impressed. This wasn’t the kind of thing you saw every day. This was the Willow Man. I plunged my hands into the soil beneath me and reached out to the willow man’s mind only to find myself in a hell of a fight. 

The willow lashed back at my mind, it’s wrath like a tsunami of fire. It was old and powerful, and it knew that I had been keeping it here, delaying it’s bloody retribution. If I had tried to meet it’s mind head on, I would have been crushed beneath the weight of its centuries. Instead, I mentally pivoted, and in a display of psychic aikido, I thrust it’s wrath at the vampires outside the garden.

The creaking of trunk and branches sounded like a protracted roar as the willow man crashed through the stone wall effortlessly, demolishing a twelve foot span. It was more than willing to vent its ire on them instead of me. Nature born entities like it have a natural antipathy to the undead.

The willow charged Into the woods, moving like a tentacular horror. I could tell by the vampiric screams when it made contact with the enemy. 

Israel cautiously returned to my side. “Of course you have a goddamn Cthulhu tree. Why am I not surprised? Do you think it can take them?”

“I hope so,” I replied, “but I’m not betting on it. Come on.”

We fell back deeper in the garden. We stopped at a cul-de-sac in the path that was surrounded by lovely flowers. Ironically enough, there was absolutely nothing dangerous about these flowers. They were colorful and had a lovely smell. In the center of the cul-de-sac, were what looked like several large beehives. They looked like the common boxes you often see bees in, which is a modified langstroth hive if you’re counting. The most noticeable difference was that they were twice as large as the boxes you usually see, and made of solid steel.

Outside the garden we could hear all hell breaking loose. Gunshots and explosions ripped through the night punctuated by earth shaking thuds as the Willow Man struck with its massive tentacle branches. It sounded like the tree was giving the vampires what for, but I still had a bad feeling. I shouldered my shotgun and loaded it with a magazine of my own special anti-vampire load. The shells contained a mix of buckshot and flechettes, all inscribed with curses against the undead. I also dug a mason jar out of my messenger bag. Israel stood close to me, holding his knife in a reverse grip. I undid the lid to the jar, and unceremoniously dumped it over his head. He looked at me with an expression that was just done. 

“Really, Daniel? Fucking really?”

I emptied the rest of the concoction into my hands and smeared it all over myself as well. “Trust me on this. In a few minutes you might be really glad you’re covered in slightly smelly goo.” 

That wasn’t even fair. The goo mostly smelled floral, even if it did have a slight, hard to pin down musky element.

Suddenly, through the roiling smoke of the battle, we saw the rubble that had once been my beautiful wall explode towards us as something broke through at incredible speed. Before us stood Anna. Her sensible pant suit was torn and charred. Thorns and branches protruded from her skin like a macabre mockery of a hedgehog. Outside I could still hear the Willow Man slaughtering her people. She must have slipped by him.

She did not look happy to see me. “I hope what you were paid was worth it. Prepare to die, Witcher Man.”

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