THE ENIGMATICS were abruptly disturbed on their first night around midnight by the sound of a woman’s screams. Goody Kostya told how she heard three knocks on the door before it broke asunder and a strange woody creature entered, lopping off Old Man Kostya’s head with a scythe before making its way into the forest. Anastrianna, the ranger, checked but could find no trail. One of the young lovers told how he had seen the beast go to the centre of the village, point at certain huts, make a nick in the shaft of his weapon and then enter the door of the first hut he had pointed to.
The youth had told how the creature had also pointed to the houses of Baca, Koren, Chrobak and Elric (where the minstrels were staying). Baca and his family immediately started loading their wagon to leave town, even though the ENIGMATICS advised him to stay and be under their protection.
During that day, the group heard more of the song they had started to learn from the Children.
Knock, knock, knock;
The Hollow Man calls.
Swing, swing, swing!
His greedy scythe falls!
Chop, chop, chop;
He takes another head,
Burn, burn, burn!
The Hollow Man is dead!
Not knowing quite how the Hollow Man would strike, the group divided themselves into three groups of two. Lord Flasheart and Yander would stay with Torb, the next male villager in line, Truman Click and Anastrianna would watch the centre of the village and Arca Domina and Arcael would guard the villagers in Anna’s barn. True to expectation, at around midnight, the HOLLOW MAN showed up, bringing with him a friend – one of the horrific wood wards now brought eerily to life. Straight to Baca’s door he went, and with the wood ward guarding his back, three times he knocked before breaking the door asunder and going inside.
The brave minstrels gathered themselves together and waited on the outside of the hut with the creature surrounded. When the HOLLOW MAN exited, it was with a new head in his hand. The group attacked but the wood ward fought them as the HOLLOW MAN made for the forest edge. They killed the ward but could not stop the scythe-wielding entity as it entered the forest and disappeared with Baca’s head.