Green leaves cover the path. They shouldn’t be there.
I look around. The trees seem fine. Their branches unbroken and still in the still air of the morning.
I listen. I hear nothing.
It as if the beast has disappeared.
The chase began early this morning. I had been standing near the low rock wall which separated my land from Old Caswell’s land. Just the other side of the small copse of oak trees which lay down in the small depression where the creek ran, I saw a brown flash of fur.
Intrigued, I began to walk towards the sight.
I came close to the outer edge of the oak trees. I stood still. Watching.
There, in between the large trunks of the ancient trees, I saw another flash of brown fur. It moved faster than any creature I had ever seen.
I stepped into the trees. It was cooler here, in between these ancient arboreal guardians.
Around the first I walked. I moved left to pass the second. A few more steps forward. I was now in the middle of the trees.
The light was filtered here. It cascaded through the trees. Cascading down through the leaves like a waterfall of golden liquid. It felt warm where it touched my face and arms. I love it here in the near silence of the trees.
Then, right in front of me, not even ten steps away, a creature passed. It was stranger than any I had ever seen before.
Small in stature, it walked like a man. It ran swiftly across the clearing. Our eyes met. Intelligence glittered in its black eyes.
Intelligence and perhaps a bit of malevolence.
Startled, I didn’t move.
Then I did.
I gave chase.
We ran through the golden fields, full of autumn ripe wheat.
My mind raced as my body kept up the chase.
We approached the western forest. The Old Woods. Many claimed it was haunted. Others whispered worse tales. I nearly stopped there as I considered the tales. Ahead were trees standing sentinel to the dark secrets of the hills and mountains beyond.
The creature raced into the trees without a pause. As it passed the tree line, it glanced back at me.
All morning I raced along the small trails used by courageous woodsmen who hunted and trapped and cut firewood along the fringes of the Old Woods. Deeper and deeper I entered the woods. Never had I come so far into the unknown.
Ahead, a great shaking began. Trees moved and swayed.
Breathing hard, I considered turning back.
Curiosity had me firmly in its grasp.
Leaves scattered and fell from the shaking trees.
In time, I caught my breath.
The trees stopped shaking.
Here I stood, farther into the Old Woods than I had ever dared enter, on a small path covered with green leaves.
As I stood there, the creature stepped onto the path a few steps ahead of me.
It stood facing me.
“What are you?” I asked.
The creature stood not much higher than my knees. It was perfectly proportioned. As if it were a small, hairy man.
It was then the creature spoke to me. “I am in need.”
Astounded, I felt nearly unable to speak. “Can I help?”
The hairy man nodded.
“Do you have a name?” I asked.
“Fellwings,” he answered me.
“I am Darryl,” I said.
This meeting in the woods felt surreal. Here I stood, in the depths of the Old Woods, speaking to a hairy man no taller
than my knee.
“What can I do?” I asked.
That is when he told me.
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**All pictures used are labeled for reuse. They come from Pixabay
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