Death was a shepherd. Not in the religious sense with a flock of devoted worshipers but neither in the literal sense with a homestead and worries of icy winters. Death stood in ankle high, wet grass wearing wool pants, a study cap, and a border tartan wrap overlooking hills dotted with sheep. They whistled and four border collies bolted from Death’s side and made quick work of the scattered flock. 

Sauriel stood behind and off to the side, marveling at the dogs’ agility. “Who are you wearing today?” She asked. 

“William Barker but he preferred to be called Will,” they said. Death whistled again, changing the direction of the flock towards a fence off to the right. “He died this day, 1905.”

“And your reapers?” She saw the traces of mist that followed the dogs’ paths.

“Duncan, Malcolm, Lady Macbeth, and Banquo. They were Will’s herding dogs. They died the same day.” Death turned to face Sauriel, trusting their reapers to handle the rest of the sheep. “You seldom seek me out.”

“I came to ask a question,” she said. “You said that Lucifer sent the Mephistopheles after Marcin, but the things that attacked him, those weren’t demons.”

Death hummed. From their tartan wrap, a lamb popped its head out and gave a single, offended bleat. “You’ve upset Lamb-bert.”

“It…it has a name?”

“Yes, the farmer down the road was a single father with two young children caring for his weary parents,” Death ran Will’s hand across Lamb-bert’s head. “He died two hours ago. His last wish was for his flock to be returned. Lamb-bert was named by his children.”

Sauriel placed a hand on her hip and ran the other one through her hair. The light from her halo reflected off the gathering mist and gave Lamb-bert’s eyes an eerie glow. “Death, I need you to be honest with me. I’m begging here, what else is after Marcin and his kids?”

“There are things larger than you and I, Sauriel.” They pulled off their tartan and swaddled Lamb-bert, rocking him softly until his eyes closed. “All things dead are my domain, and all things living will eventually be my domain, but while they live, their choices, their definitions, are their own. I am not as omnipotent as most would like to believe.”

Before Sauriel could interrupt to ask another question, Death closed the gap between them and handed her the bundle of tartan-wrapped lamb. “Do me a favor and return Lamb-bert.”

The sheep corralled, Death called their reapers with a sharp whistle. As the mist settled on the group, William Barker blew away on the wind, and in his place stood a tall woman with sleek, black hair and bold, red lipstick wearing pointy stiletto shoes, a knee-length fur coat over a form-hugging, decadent silk dress, and oversized sunglasses. 

“I am needed elsewhere,” Death and their reapers, now borzois with thick, diamond-studded golden collars dissolved into the mist leaving Sauriel in the field, holding a cozy, sleeping lamb.