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|A hunter searches desperatly for food for his ill family, but he soon discovers that his only hope rests in the hands on a relentless ogre.||
Trail of Hope
The hunter followed the blood trail through the woodlands. He rushed forward desperately, eyes to the ground. Like the wind he swept through the forest becoming part of nature itself. He paused at times when the trail thinned out across the earthen floor to insure he would not lose sight of the blood. He couldn’t afford to lose it. His ill wife and young child back in the cabin were starving, and the stag that he shot with his arrow was their only hope. He had hunted for days without so much as seeing a rabbit. Something wasn’t right with that. The forest used to always teem with life, but in the recent months that life became scarce, until finally it seemed nothing roamed the woods, even the owls were gone from the night. But when he saw the stag drinking from a rivulet the hunter wasted no time. With the stealth of the most accomplished hunter he sneaked silently toward the stag and made his shot, but only managed to wound the animal before it dashed away into a fear-driven flight.
Now he followed the trail of the dying animal. It could not be off far. He knew soon the stag would become fatigued and collapse to its death. It had to. He would find it and make use of its meat to nourish his family, its hide for clothing for the approaching winter, and its bones for weapons.
Suddenly, a monstrous roar came from ahead--a terrifying beastly cry of aggression that resounded above all. Fear halted the hunter abruptly. The roar faded, carried away by the wind. The hunter’s heart raced. It sounded close--too close. Slowly with the nock of an arrow on his bowstring, he crept forward, peering through the forest.
Light cut through the canopy in wide, dust-filled rays. The leaves danced in the breeze and the shadows followed their lead. The hunter inched farther along the blood trail. He followed the red line with his eyes and saw the stag sprawled out in a patch of briar, its chest rising and falling slowly. Relieved, the hunter dashed forward toward his family’s hope of survival, but a giant shadow fell over the stag, a shadow of a behemoth unfit to walk in nature’s realm.
A monster the height of three grown men and just as wide came into sight from behind a large tree. A creature with skin the color of autumn’s dying leaves and long thick oily hair that fell over its stalwart, knotted shoulders. Its muscle-bound legs and arms were as big as tree trunks and it wielded a tree stump like a club. It moved toward the stag, its grotesque flat face appearing ready to kill with a sinister, crooked grin. Thick saliva fell from its filthy mouth and onto the ground like stains on the earth. Oblivious to the hunter, the creature turned its back to the human and hovered over the stag, a tower of death.
The hunter recognized the giant before him before--and ogre! Though he had never seen one he could not mistake it. The ogre bellowed another deafening roar, and raised his club over the stag. Every muscle in the hunter’s body told him to flee, to get back to his family, but he fought against it. He had hunted for days without success while his family starved. He found the stag; he hunted it, not the ogre. His would not let his family die with hope within sight. That stag meant everything; it meant life, so the hunter did not flee. Instead, going against everything his body urged him to do he raised his bow, took aim at the ogre just as the creature brought his club downward with a powerful swing and fired. He knew at that moment only he or the ogre would feast on the stag.
|A Gentlemen's Game||The Passing|
|Second Dawning||Final Flight|