by Bernita Harris
In the blue of the moon they howled and hunted.
Night was their strength and light their only weakness.
But our high forest was a dark, rich place of shade and shadow, even by day. Of massive deadfalls, tumbled rocks and sudden crevasses.
And no longer sanctuary.
Some who ventured to gather fuel or tend their snares did not return.
We found only blood among the pine needles and heard the clan winds, lamenting, whispering:
Cha till, cha till, cha till, mi tuille. We return, we return, we return no more…
We saw their shapes slink and circle beyond our night fires. Fires that grew smaller as our supply of wood decreased. The Woman of the Bones warned us we must make an end or flee…
They hunted me through the dawn on either side of the narrow track. Before and behind, beyond the flame of my torches, padding, sniffing. I could almost hear their saliva drip from open jaws.
When I heard the first long undulating howl behind me I ran toward the sunlight, leaped the pit trap and turned at bay.
Blood lust for my bare flesh made them incautious. They burst in full cry into the broad shaft of golden light that pierced the swaying treetops and struck downward like a spear.
It turned them to stone.
We dropped more stone over them. It is named the Place of the Dark Trolls. There is even a song.
I never hunt that way.
I hate being bait.