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A Night on Romney Marsh

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The company of dragoons crept up the bank and levelled their muskets at the ragged figure beside the blazing beacon. Captain Crayne held the figure steady in his sights and then signalled to his sergeant-at-arms.

“Scarecrow!” the sergeant roared. “We have you surrounded. Drop that brand and raise your hands above your head.”

The figure by the beacon did not move, he just stood there with the burning brand held by his side.

“Show your hands or we open fire!” the sergeant bellowed again.

Behind Crayne there was a sharp click and a harsh voice whispered: “Captain Crayne. I think you’ll find that it is you who are surrounded.” A series of similar metallic clicks ran around a circle outside the ring of dragoons.

“Set down your arms,” Crayne ordered reluctantly. By the beacon, the wind caught the torch flame and it licked against the ragged robes. After a few moments, the figure went up in flames; it still did not move.

The Night Riders came forward and began removing the muskets from the dragoons’ sides.

“Not the Scarecrow,” the cold voice hissed. “Just a scarecrow. Now, Captain; you and your men will surrender your ammunition and your belts, and I think your horses should come with us as well. You can spend a night on Romney Marsh; that usually convinces you city folk not to cross the Scarecrow.”

A ragged figure, the double of the one by the fire save that this one was mobile, moved to stand in front of Crayne. “I’m sorry to say that it looks like rain.”