For the tenth time this year, we return to Mejaran.
Only two more visits to this fascinating little village of ours remain after this one. I'm quite curious to see how everything ends up.
If, indeed, things do manage to end in December...
In a quiet corner of Mejaran, a home sat just slightly further away from its neighbours than might be expected. Not so far as to appear unfriendly, but there was enough distance to create a little more privacy, a touch of extra secrecy.
A fence surrounded the property which, while not unheard of in the village, was certainly uncommon. It was tall, but not excessively so. Those who lived nearby considered the place rather unwelcoming, though its occupant was generally well liked.
Night had fallen, suddenly as it often did in that place. The curtains of the home had been drawn tight, sheltering the figures within from any unwanted watchers. At least, so they hoped and believed.
"Everything continues to move according to plan?"
"Of course it does. You sound concerned... is this the reason behind your unexpected visit? You should have more faith in me by now."
"I have heard rumors of suspicion arising amongst some of the villagers."
"Have you now?" A voice that had previously been warm grew suddenly icy. "I was unaware that you had other agents working in the village."
"Don't be a fool. This is far too important to entrust with just one man, however capable he may seem. You should know by now that no plan of mine is without its alternatives and safeguards."
"And yet I am still left feeling... what was that?" The whisper of a blade slipping free from its sheath, the soft padding of feet toward the rear of the house. A curtain pulled back just enough. "Hmm. How strange."
"It was just an owl on the back fence. They are not usually around at this time of year." A lengthy pause. "Perhaps the storm has confused the local wildlife."
"Perhaps." Another extended silence. "Where I come from there are old tales of people being able to speak to birds, use them as spies. Mostly crows, but more than a few stories feature owls. They are old tales but they linger still."
"Utter nonsense. Let us waste no more time with such talk."
"As you wish. So these potential trouble makers in the village...?"
"You have nothing to worry about on that front. They will be dealt with shortly - I will take care of the matter myself."