The Green Man, part 2.

After Mr Dortons strange evening, things went back to normal, village life went on in the same way as it always had. Although small cases of what seemed to be harmless mischief started around the village, from buckets going missing, to the heads of the fine array of some flowers being chopped down, livestock were let out of their fields and found scattered all over the parish the following morning. At first children were to blame for these small yet inconvenient crimes. Soon mischievous goblins or fairy’s, evil spirits of the forest was another theory. One morning, things took a darker turn. It was still early, the sun had not yet come up to burn away the mornings mist that lay thick over the green pastures. There was an eerie stillness to the morning, and unusual sounds, the sound was from the carrion crows that could be heard through the mist, frantically trying to reach something they all desired so much, but was just out of their reach, their squawks seemed frantic. Also, adding to the unusual sound of the morning was the sound of wolves, it was very unusual for them to be this close to human habitation at this time, they also sounded as if they were fighting, low growls and snarling snaps echoed through the mist, high-pitched yelps as one wolf was put in its place by another. Yet one sound could be singled out from all the sounds of death, a small lamb, bleating desperately, as if it was calling for help. The bleating lamb was the only sound of the thirty sheep that were kept in this particular field, and it had not gone unnoticed. Thomas garlsby and his two sons, Anthony and Edward, who were the family that owned these sheep and farmed the few fields had heard the commotion. Anthony and Edward had armed themselves with their two hunting bows and Thomas had his long shafted hunting spear, not to mention the three wolfhounds that they owned, mighty hounds that they used to hunt the wolf’s in the surrounding area, wolf pelts fetched a good price at market in the cold months. The hounds were tugging hard on the leads, desperate to get at the wolves in the mist that they knew were there, the hounds sniffing deeply at the wolf sent that only they could smell. They were silent, they were hunting hounds, they knew better than to open up and alert the quarry they desired so much. The snarling of the wolves got louder and louder, they must have been at least a mere thirty to fifty meters away from the hunters. “tis most odd for them wolves to still be this close, surely they can smell us and the hounds” whisperd Edward in his fathers ear, his father nodded in agreement, Edward was nervous, “ Anthony, Edward, let those hounds off, we will run up behind em and finish off the job”. The three great wolfhounds cantered off into the mist, the second they were slipped the three men ran as fast as they could in their wake, soon enough the impact was heard, the impact of the hounds smashing into their quarry, muscle on muscle. The lead hound barged straight into a huge dog wolf, knocking him to the ground, in seconds the other two hounds had a hold of the wolfs throat and were violently worrying him. Anthony, the fastest of the three reached the scene first, he put his boot to the wolfs thick strong neck, pinning him to the ground with the help of the two hounds, he grabbed his long dagger and thrust it into the wolfs face, ending him instantly in a fountain of blood that sprayed up his front. The lead hound that had knocked over the first wolf was now in a stand-off with a vicious bitch wolf, they both had their heads low, snarling at each other, judging the others strength, it was a face off that seemed it would never end. Suddenly there was a hissing sound, an arrow sliced through the mist and struck the wolf in the shoulder with a sickening blow, followed by the broad-shouldered Thomas charging out of the mist, his huge hunting spear lowered like a lance, with all his weight he drove it into the wolfs ribs, lifting the huge beast off the ground. As she came down with arrow and spear penetrating her the hounds leapt on her to finish off the job in a violent melee of ripping and tugging. The other wolves and crows had fled the scene, in the short time of the fight the sun had burnt away most of the mist, and the three men now saw the real horror that had been waiting in the mist, the horror that had driven the wolves to a madness that had cost two of them their lives. Scattered all about the field were the sheep, their white wool was drenched in red blood, the ones that had not been torn apart by the wolves had obvious deep gashes to their necks. The gashes were obviously not inflicted by the wolves but by some kind of blade. “This is not the work of children” whispered Thomas to himself, “this is evil, and this is the work of evil”. As they stood there, the wolfhounds panting standing proudly over the dead wolves, the stench of death very much present in the field, the small lamb bleated, calling for its mother, she would not come.


The village was quite that day, the Garlsby family and their friends were clearing up the dead stock, they were piling them up in a heap on the far side of their land, where they would set fire to them when the wind was not blowing over towards the village. Edward wiped the sweat from his brow, he leant on the ox drawn cart that was piled up with dead sheep he had collected. He took a deep gulp of water from his leather bottle, he looked up into the sky at a buzzard that circled overhead in the clear blue sky, following its flight path he looked down towards the wood, and there he stared at the green trees that bordered the barley fields. Something caught his gaze, upon a large base of a felled oak stump he thought he saw a small figure, it looked green, it sat there cross-legged, watching the workers in the field toiling away. Then, in a flash it disappeared, as if the wood had swallowed it. He shook his head, poured lukewarm water over his face and blamed his vision on the fact that he was tired and had an emotional morning, he turned away and continued with his gruesome work.


By the afternoon the work was complete, the pyre was complete, thirty sheep, not including the lambs were heaped up, wasted, ready to be burnt. The wind was still in the direction of the village so lighting the pyre now was out of the question, the smoke would stink out the entire village. It was a mighty blow to the Garlsby family, this was their main source of income, all gone, and it would take them years to recover, if they ever would recover. By late afternoon it was too hot for work, most folk sat in their gardens, or a very few in the unknown tavern, supping on some expensive royal cider. The smell of honey suckle wood was gorgeous, that sweet nectar sent mixed with the flowers of the gardens was so sweet, it was a pleasure to take in the air. But the air became less pleasurable, it smelt smoky, then in no time at all it turned from smoky to a wicked stench, a stench of burning flesh and hair. The air was thick with the white stinking smoke, when the villagers realized what had happened it was too late, the pyre was in full flame, roaring and crackling, spitting and hissing like a daemon. Some villagers tried hopelessly to extinguish the flame with pails of water, it was a futile effort, the water turned into nothing before even touching the flames. All the villagers could do was stand up wind and watch until the pyre burnt itself out or the wind was merciful and changed direction. A woman ran from the village, wailing and flapping her arms, calling out to the villagers that watched the burning pyre. “Cassie, Cassie, my little cassie, she’s gone, she’s been gone since the late morning, my little girl, I thought she would come back, she went to the woods to play, she’s gone she’s gone”. The woman collapsed in a heap by the group, pleading them for help, begging them to search the woods for her daughter. Now, I must add that the people of Breadwell were not suspicious folk, too many years of softness had almost made them forget of the horrors of the realm. They worried not of witches, trolls, brownies or bluecaps. To them their village was all, nothing else mattered, but current events had changed things.


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