The boys had been part of the group that Pol was leading. Where Iohan had set out with three novices, the older hunter had left with four and a principianta to help manage the novices. Maria, her name was. She was older, was almost a proper cazador. Iohan had been one of the first to test her when she ignored her family’s wishes and sought to become a cazador. Iohan knew her well.
Iohan did not know the names of the boys that lay decapitated and dismembered at his feet. But his own novices did. “Jordi, Teo, Miguel, Duarte… Was this beasts? Did beasts do this?” Bartolome asked. There was anger in his voice, but it rang hollow, a front he put up to mask his fear.
Jimeno shook his head. “I don’t think so.”
Iohan nodded. “Look at the wounds. They are all clean. The head is severed from the body, but it was cut, not torn. The slashing and stabbing wounds all came from a single edge, so they could not have been inflicted by claws or fangs. The entrails have not been dragged around, but instead they lie where they fell. And there is no rhyme or reason to the attack.”
“But beasts are stupid, senseless creatures,” Bartolome said. “Why should there be reason behind their actions?”
“There is an animal’s logic to their workings. They attack out of hunger, or fear, or out of self-preservation. These bodies have been set upon with fury. If there were any purpose to it, it was only the expression of that fury. Or perhaps to intimidate anyone who might come along and discover the bodies later. It was a human hand that did this.”
“A paleta?” Santi asked, his voice trembling and uncertain.
“No. Look at the wounds. They were not made with some crude implement like an axe or a scythe or a pitchfork. They were made with a proper weapon of war, a sword.”
“Then it was either Maria or Pol that did this. Or both of them working together.”