This week, I introduce a character who will be pivotal in Millicent’s life. He is not a nice man as we shall see as we go along. So without further ado, let’s meet Malochi Evil.

The old man, Malochi Evil, by name and by nature, stood on the muddy bank moving his hands in slow concentric circles in front of him. He chanted low in his throat, the words barely escaping his lips. The harsh Latin evocation faded with the light breeze that stirred the stench of the brackish water around him.. His dusky hair, long and wispy, stood on end as it gathered an electrical charge from the air.
The first of the fireflies appeared then, blinking low, close to the water. Their flashing abdomens lightly brushed the water, causing tiny ripples before they pulled away. They were soon joined by tens, and then hundreds more lightning bugs until the surface of the water virtually glowed with light. The insects drew closer and closer together into a tight night.
Malochi changed his hand motions to mimic pulling something from the ground and the fireflies soon copied the motion. They dove to the water then darted back up. The water churned from the actions of the myriad insects. Some bugs became mired in the mucky water, yet continued their incessant flashing. Malochi’s chanting grew louder, though the pace remained the same. Slow and steady.
The bugs flew into the water more rapidly now, some actually diving into the water. The once random flashing slowly coalesced into a more uniform pattern; off when they dove, on when they rose. The air hummed with magic. A bubble rose to the surface in the middle of the pulsating throng. It absorbed the firefly light, reflecting back nothing.
The bubble burst free of the surface and became the blackest of shadows. Fireflies swarmed around the shadow, as if pulling it free. Each insect that touched the shadowy orb was consumed, adding its mass to the shadow. The shadow consumed soon nearly all of the fireflies as it floated formlessly above the water.
Malochi rested his hands at his sides and fell silent. The shadow drifted over and hovered in front of Malochi. A fetid stench rose from the shadow and assailed the man’s nostrils. He leaned forward as if to engage the shadow in some foul kiss.
“You are the first,” Malochi whispered. “Soon you will lead an army.”
Malochi Evil smiled and walked away, leaving the shadow to its own devices
Across town, being pulled from her own dark hole, Millicent Stroad is born, with a connection to something she may not live long enough to understand.

Next week we get to see Millicent’s unusual birth. Stay tuned!

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