Feen-Chapter 4: Another Hope, Another Horror

Here it was. The Blackling burrow the trail had led to. Cadman immediately set to work gathering wood, and within minutes, he had a small bonfire blazing, its warm, red glow matching perfectly with the twilight. He took a stick, lit it on fire, and tossed it in. He stood there, waiting for the Blacklings to flee the burrow and expose themselves, and of course to bring out his son. The Blacklings never cut their losses and abandoned their captives. He stood there and waited, and waited, and waited.

*

            Calum continued to follow the crow through the trees. As he climbed, he thought of home. He thought of the days he and father would return from hunting, satisfied with the morning’s game. He thought of the breakfast that would be laid out before them by mother when they came back home. He thought of the evenings when they ate the game they’d caught, of the stories his mother told him. Stories of heroes and hunters, knights and knaves, and the beasts and beings of the woods.

     His mother and father were especially solemn in warning him of the dangerous woods. He was told not to wander the Woods alone, for there had been people who disappeared and reappeared after long times with not a memory of what had transpired and not a day of age. They told him that the fae creatures would enslave and consume any lost travellers, or that those who died in the woods could be left doomed to wander the Woods forever. He contemplated this last thought, but his little duskdream was interrupted by the crow.

       He heard the crow caw to him, and he looked up immediately to see the crow flying away. He desperately tried to follow it, running swiftly through the trees, but it was no use. The crow flew out of sight quickly. Calum almost despaired, but then he looked at the ground and saw what the crow had led him to. Before him was a small cottage, not his own, but there was a fire burning inside. His large, green eyes lit up with joy as he descended from the canopy, and knocked on the door.

*

             Cadman was at a loss. Where had the Blacklings gone. They rarely abandoned established burrows without a good reason. He searched the area, and then he found it. Near a stream, there footprints of a boy, and the prints of Blacklings all scattering from the bank. He followed Calum’s prints, but after a very short time they stopped. He looked at the nearby tree, and sure enough, there was dried mud. Calum had climbed the tree to hide. The question was, what?

         This troubling query haunted Cadman as he climbed the tree and looked down to see a Blackling, or rather, its body. Cadman tried not to panic, because whatever this predator was, strong enough to tear a Blackling’s head from its shoulders, it didn’t leave prints.

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