The poacher sneered as he held up the broken trap. “Another sabotaged snare…”, he spoke aloud as he looked around furtively.
“I didn’t used to speak aloud. I used to be a quiet man, silent as the arrow, deadly as lots of arrows.”
Kreeg eyed the trees, the darkness of the forest a mute witness to his poetry, or rather lack thereof.
“Too quiet…You’re too bloody quiet, you…”, he looked around the forest floor, looking in vain for tracks of the one was destroying his traps.
“Nothing, again nothing! As if some bloody ghost is hounding my steps!”
He cursed loudly and broke a branch off a nearby tree and then proceeded by hitting the branch on rock and tree until it was shattered and his hands blooded.
“Ill fortune has been hounding me ever since that she-dwarf and her wretched band showed up! No! No ill fortune! they cursed me, those bastards cursed me! No beast has stepped in my traps for a week! Nothing but destruction not of my making! And never a sign of who dun it!”
Suddenly, a doe darted out of the bush and disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared.
“Ha! My luck has returned! That one won’t escape my clutches!”, Kreeg leaped after the deer and notched an arrow as he ran, an almost mad look in his eyes as he chased the animal.
Running, running ever on, his expertise and years in the woods helping him follow the deer’s trail without effort, he leaped brook and tree, giving chase to the beast for hours, day changing to night, until suddenly he came to a clearing.
He stopped in his tracks and his jaw dropped as he saw a great white hart on a hillock. The beast’s silvery fur reflecting the moonlight as it gazed out over the woodland realm it dominated, apparently heedless to his presence.
Kreeg hesitated no longer, he drew, breathing steadily as he aimed at the deer’s heart and let fly. The poacher grinned as saw his arrow fly true, but gasped as the arrow shattered on the beasts chest.
Instead of dropping to the ground and dying, the hart turned its head, its antlers ablaze with an eerie light and looked the hunter straight in the eyes.
Kreeg fumbled for another arrow and let loose, but again the arrow shattered on the beast’s chest. It reared up and let out a defying bellow and it seemed as if the forest echoed the white hart’s rage.
The trapper barely managed to dodge the raging boar that came charging out of the undergrowth. Just as he was about to notch another arrow, Kreeg was startled by a terrible screech that came at him from the skies. He dropped his bow and tried to fend of the ravens that tried pecking and clawing at his face, all the while the eerie bellowing of the hart resounded through the night, seemingly calling on all woodland creatures to take vengeance on the man.
Something inside the man snapped and Kreeg started running, just as a fox snarled and nipped at his calves. Two badgers followed suit and he could swear he heard the growling of a bear. The baying of wolves joined the forest chorus and he kept running heedlessly on.
He tried looking around for something, for anything that might help, beating off the night birds attacking him in a flurry of feathers, his clothes and skin torn from tooth, claw and thorn and cried in relief as he saw the flickering light of torches up ahead.
He turned and ran for the lights, hoping they belonged to a hunting party. He ran and ran, into the woods, leaping through bushes and shoving aside shrubbery, his despair giving him wings.
Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks, a wet, tearing sound and a deep grunt breaking the steady, mournful chorus of the forest.
Kreeg looked down at the boar spear that penetrated his gut, its crossbar lodged firmly against him, his hands feebly clutching the blood soaked shaft as his gaze drifted up at the approaching torches. He tried to breathe, tried to cry out, but slowly he felt the life fading from him as blood bubbled on his lips.
“Apparently not all my traps were dismantled…”, he thought quietly as he died, his last sight of the white hart coming out of the darkness, flanked by two hoovering spheres of light. He could have sworn the beast was grinning.