Thirteen hours since the last sight of road, headlight or the sound of engines. Seclusion in these woodlands for where the hematomancy can begin. 

 A bereaved couple paid in gemstones to find what the villagers did with their daughter’s corpse. Accused of making pacts with demons, they dragged her screaming to the trees and came back with a gown stained in dark brown patches. Her body must be found, and her spirit rested.

 None may see the rites made here tonight. My circle of hollow bones. The sky warded by a thorn canopy. With a dead skin mask I shield my spirit from the view of higher gods. Tonight I congress with the waygone one. One must be careful, for she answers prayers with tricks. 

  I spill the blood of two beasts that cannot speak, raise incandescent coals to their soulless mouths and cast their brains to the white hot stones.

 A voice rises from the fire. Fearsome and immortal it bends the boughs of the trees and shakes my innards with its strength but to those with ears ungifted, only the rush of passing wind.

 “I am one who must know the face of the murdered child.” The fire answers not. 

“Her corpse waits somewhere in your forest, without a guardian. Her soul easily led astray.” My breath white in the glow of the firelight.  “I seek where she is buried.”

 A fell wind blows my flames to dust. In the dark I hear the sound of bare feet among the woodland brush. The townsfolk were not wrong in their accusation. But she is buried no longer.

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