Warren Hopkins looked down on the corpse of Vanessa. Her blue eyes no longer held their sparkle and her auburn hair was awash with blood. Through the Lord’s grace and power, along with several hefty blows from his flail the witch was dead. Warren poured holy water over his weapon and hands to cleanse them from touching her filthy skin. He then began the ritual of dismembering and making sure she would not rise up from the grasp of the Lord. Silver pennies in her ears, mouth stuffed with salt, head removed from the body along with the fingers before a ritual burning until she was naught more than ash.
It was gruesome yet necessary. He’d seen once before what had happened when a witch clambered back to unlife, a chilling horrific debacle. Warren threw more kindling onto the fire as he watched her burn. The unpleasant smell pierced his nostrils.
“Back to hell you go,” The Witchfinder General made the sign of the cross over the burning body.
May 10th, 1864, St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore
“The Prodigal Son returneth!” The Right Reverend Bancroft Rollinson cried from the steps of the church as The Witchfinder General rode up through the dispersing flock of Sunday faithful.
“Bishop,” Warren bowed as he dismounted. “I bring you news from Tennessee.”
“Good, I hope,” The reverend greeted the Witchfinder warmly. “But first let us get you washed my friend.”
“I do apologise for my pungent aroma,”
“Pungent? You reek, Warren!” He herded him into the building. “Quickly, quickly.”
“Wolfbears, well I never!” Rollinson poured more wine. “I fear if the Confederacy continue to use those in Satan’s service…”
“They will fail because the Lord is far mightier than the Devil!” Warren interjected.
“Quite…so the witches ashes?”
“They will be mixed with lime and made into bricks to be dropped into the sea.”
“I see. Will you be staying with us long?”
“Perhaps a month, when my new orders come in.”
“Excellent, excellent. Now, please continue with your story about how you dispatched the witch, it is really rather quite exciting.”
At breakfast the next morning Bancroft welcomed his guest to table warmly. “Coffee. Eggs. Toast.”
“Just some coffee please,” Warren said as he looked out the window to see a young Union soldier dismount off a weary brown horse. “Are you expecting guests?”
Bancroft frowned and headed towards the door as it was knocked on. There was murmurings before he lead the young man in. “It seems it is a message for you, Warren.”
The young man walked up to Warren and saluted. Warren looked at him. “Son, I have to rank in man’s army.”
“Are you the Witchfinder General Warren Hopkins?”
“I have urgent orders from Bishop Philander Chase via Major General William T. Sherman that you are to accompany me to Georgia, sir.” He handed over a filthy envelope sealed with a red wax seal. Warren to the letter and cracked it open.
Maythe Lord bless you, Witchfinder as you do His work.
I have received word that residing down in Calhoun, Georgia is a nest of vampires. Since the Union is currently engaged in a theatre of war in the region, you are to head that way and route these satanic bloodsuckers out lest they ally themselves with the Confederacy. Tis bad enough they cavort with witches and Satan, they would be quite unstoppable if powered by the touch of undeath.
An aide will go with you to escort you into the battle zone but once there, discretion is of the highest order. The Major General believes, and will continue to believe, that you are going there solely to administer last rites and aid the dying.
The Right Reverend Rollinson should have access to any supplies you will need. Make haste Warren and may the good Lord watch over you.
Yours in God
Warren walked the letter to the smouldering fire and tossed it on the coals. Slowly it went red and burst into flames.
“Problem?” Bancroft asked.
“None at all, Right Reverend, but you must excuse me” Warren said as he bowed slightly. “Seems I am needed near Atlanta and must be away. I have a long journey ahead. Private, please ready me a horse.” The young man dashed outside at the order.
“Indeed!” Bancroft cried. “Do you need anything?”
Bancroft nodded and went to the mantlepiece. He took down a large plain cross and removed a key neatly hidden on the underside of it. Warren took the key and headed out the back.
The Witchfinder General and Private Phineas Beaver as he introduced himself set off on the six hundred mile trek south west to Georgia. The saddlebags of the Witchfinder’s horse bulged, even those upon the backup horse.
“Sir, may I ask what you are carrying?”
“No, Phineas, you may not. Lead on.”