The hunters Wrath
The hunter’s wrath
The farm was large, and it had been in the family for many generations. It lay in a shallow valley with a lake to the south and a huge forested area to the north and it was rather isolated but they liked it that way. They were breeding beef cattle and also some horses and the farm did also produce some fruit. The local apples were delicious due to the climate in the valley and they were sought after, both as a treat and for the production of cider. The Harrelson family had run the farm and run it well for the last two centuries, they were proud to produce top quality food for the markets.
Since there was much work to be done they did accept guest workers, some returned each year to help with the harvest while others did show up just to work for some days, receive some meals and a bed to lay in and then they moved on. The family did accept everybody as long as they did behave themselves and did work well and they had never encountered any trouble. That summer a new guest showed up at the gates late one evening, an extremely tall young man with long silvery blond hair and a massive wolfhound by his side.
The guy was prettier than most movie stars and told them only his first name, it was Ty. Mr Harrelson was in his late sixties and the one who did decide whether or not somebody was to be employed, he knew the human mind and could feel it if somebody was a bad one. He did let Ty work, the man was asking to stay for a while and that was alright. They needed many people for the harvest that year. Some of the regulars hadn’t returned and they feared that they would fall short when it came to workers.
The tall blonde soon proved to be a bit of an enigma, he was working extremely hard, never sparing himself and he worked like five men combined. Mr Harrelson was impressed. He never spoke about himself, and he hardly shared a word with the others. They tried to bring him into their conversations at night when everybody were gathered by the cooking fires but he only came to get his food and then he returned to his tent. He insisted on using a tent and there was something almost haunted about his demeanour which made some of the others suspect that the man had seen some serious shit. A few of the other workers there were veterans and they knew PTSD when they saw it, so they didn’t push but everybody were curious.
Ty was not only helping with the fruit and the other work at the farm, after a few weeks he was also helping out with the cattle. He was given a horse and the work leader was a bit in doubt at first for few people did really know how to ride these days. But Ty was a master on horseback, it was as if he and the large grey gelding he was given merged into one being and soon Ty was among the best wranglers they had there. He was able to see if an animal was limping or sick from an amazing distance and the work leader was in awe.
Such a huge farm is a business and having people like that is beneficial, they knew they could trust Ty now. The work leader was named Buck and he had worked there for all of his adult life. He knew cattle better than anybody else and he had grown up on horseback but even he couldn’t compete with Ty there. The tall blond stayed, over the harvest and through the winter too. He had arrived wearing old worn clothing which didn’t protect against the cold and Mrs Harrelson did get him some new and warm ones. He did accept and thanked her but he rarely wore much of it, it was as if the man didn’t feel the cold and Buck was worried about him at times.
The spring did return and with it warmth and new life and for some weeks they were busy with the calves and their mothers, making sure that everything went as it should. It was a wonderful time of the year and everybody were busy but that spring a problem started to rear its ugly head. It started one evening when one of the workers did return to the stable, he had been riding the fences and he was transporting a dead calf behind him on the horse. Buck was staring and the man dismounted and lifted the carcass down. “I found this in the north corner of the Pebble Creek pasture, have anybody been up there to put it down without reporting it?”
Buck stared at the calf, there as bullet hole in its flank and most of the thighs were cut away, the rest of the body was untouched. “No, nobody has been up there for weeks, and this is a fresh kill”
The blood hadn’t even started to smell and the cuts were made with a very sharp knife. The worker did make a grimace. “It was just left in the open, I didn’t see any tracks though, the soil is rock hard up there”
Buck swore, they had encountered that problem before, poachers. Back in the fifties there had even been cattle thieves trying to get away with half of the herd and he had honestly believed that this sort of thing didn’t happen anymore. “I will inform Mr Harrelson, we will keep our eyes open from now on. Somebody has seen the opportunity and stolen some free steaks.”
He went towards the main building and saw that Ty was in the front yard with that huge dog of his, the Harrelson family was large, Mr and Mrs Harrelson had five daughters who all were married and in the summer all of them returned to the farm with their children. There were kids everywhere, from infants to some in their late teens. Ty was popular with the girls, but he stayed clear of them and didn’t in any way encourage them so after a while they stopped the flirting. The other workers were quite convinced that the man either was gay or had been terribly burned by some failed relationship. Right now he was teaching the dog how to catch a Frisbee and he was smiling. Buck was stricken by how beautiful the man was, if he had wanted to he could have featured on the front page of every fashion magazine there was but he appeared to prefer the woods and the wilderness and Buck did respect that, a lot!
Buck did nod his head and Ty frowned. “Why the long face, something wrong?”
Buck sighed. “An old problem, poachers. Somebody has shot a calf in one of the northern pastures and cut away the best meat. It has happened before”
The tall blond did stare at him with wide eyes. “Really?”
Buck did run a hand through his short sand coloured hair. “Yeah, the boss won’t like it. We will need to keep our eyes open from now on”
Ty sighed. “That is too bad”
Buck made a grimace. “No shit, we cannot have people running around shooting our cattle, it is worse than theft”
Ty nodded towards the north. “What is up there? I have seen that there are woodlands north of the border?”
Buck smiled. “Yes, a vast area, haven’t been touched for centuries. It belongs to the government now and is to be transformed into a nature reserve in a few years. The first owner was this eccentric billionaire who bought land and returned it to its natural state. The government has to follow his will, and the family he left makes sure that they do. The area is amazing, a piece of untouched wilderness. There aren’t many of them left I fear.”
Buck did tell the boss about the dead calf and the reaction was the one he expected. Mr Harrelson was close to exploding and he went beet red from it. Buck did fear for his health, he had a very high blood pressure. For some days they sent out people to check the fences and they didn’t find any more dead animals, things did calm down. Now they were marking the new calves and that was hard work, they focused on that.
Then one of the farm dogs did disappear and that wasn’t that odd but the dog did return a couple of days later, a paw was so damaged that they had to put it down. It appeared to have been trapped in a foot trap and gnawed itself free from the awful contraption. Buck and two more guys went out and tracked the dog and found the trap, it was a very old fashioned one and a type which was illegal even for professional trappers. And they found more of the gruesome devices, hidden in several places and some had caught animals which were still alive. Buck had to shoot a coyote and a deer and he was cussing like a sailor. The farmers don’t like coyotes and wolves since they can prey on the calves but this? This was barbaric, not at all what he and his fellow ranchers did respect.
Two days after that a cow was found dead, not far from the farm, the body butchered and the best parts removed and this time Mr Harrelson did call the sheriff’s department but nothing could be done. The death of a cow wasn’t important compared with the stuff the sheriff had to deal with on an everyday basis, parking tickets and speeding tourists.
Now everybody knew that there was someone out there, poaching and stealing and every door and lock was checked and nothing was left open. The trucks were locked when they weren’t used and the kids were kept indoors after dark. Ty was acting as if he was completely relaxed but Buck saw a nervous twitch around his eye, as if the man knew something and he would often stare off into the darkness with an expression within the silvery grey eyes which did resemble hatred.
One of the men who worked there permanently found several wounded deer, another came across a wild boar with a leg which had been shot off. A black bear did try to trash the garbage containers and the animal was desperate. The reason was obvious, the lower jaw had been shot off, it couldn’t eat and was starving to death slowly. Buck shot it and now they were more than angry. Still the sheriff refused to come, the nearest city was two hours of driving away and after all, this wasn’t that serious now was it? Buck wanted to say exactly what he felt directly to the prick but didn’t, he didn’t want to go to jail. The new sheriff was a city slicker, a man who didn’t fit into the ranching environment at all. He didn’t realize that things and priorities were very different here than in the city. The old sheriff had been on the side of the ranchers, poaching and theft was regarded as very serious indeed.
When a horse went missing from one of the herds Mr Harrelson did order a search party, and everybody went. The horse was an elderly mare and one of the best brood mares they had, a very gentle and trusting soul which had produced several good foals. Sometimes animals do wander off if they feel that they are close to death in order to die in peace but the mare wasn’t that old and they all feared the worst.
After two days they did find the animal, in a river near the woods. She had gone to the river to cool down, to help with her pain. It was obvious that the horse had been flogged and ridden very hard, there was a terrible gash on her left front leg, from her knee to her fetlock and you could see the bone. But the worst thing was that her left hind leg was broken and twisted, the hoof just hanging there.
Buck did cry as he tied a bandana around her eyes so she wouldn’t see and then shot the mare through the head. Ty was dark eyed and Buck had a feeling that the man was dangerous, but not to them.
This time one of the deputes did arrive at the farm, very apologetic and eager to please, the man was a local and had to admit that his boss was a piece of old crap. Useless outside of the city borders. A report was written but there wasn’t much they could do, they had no suspects.
Things did quiet down yet again, some of the workers did ride north to see if they could see anything but they didn’t. The forest was huge and they couldn’t just search through it without many men and lots of time available. Some of the men did suggest putting up electrical fences but that wouldn’t help against a human assailant, only an animal. Now Mr Harrelson did send people out to guard the herds each night, with dogs and they were armed. And everybody knew that the boss would prefer that they did shoot if they came across the guilty one. For a few weeks nothing happened and everybody started to relax again, The whole family was gathered at the farm and since they were so many there were two buildings there which were used by the family. An old farmhouse and a new one which had been built a few years earlier. It did provide everybody with more room and the kids had their own rooms. The farm was filled with laughter and joy and the workers didn’t have that much to do right now, the summer was at its height and the heat made it impossible to work in the middle of the day so they would usually go to the lake to bathe.
Ty would join them, and he did bathe too but he did stay away from the others and he would cover himself up if anybody got near. Still everybody could see that he had an amazing body and that he had tattoos which did look very archaic and some scars too. The breaks were appreciated and everybody loved it by the lake since it was a bit cooler there.
The teenagers were allowed to stay a little longer than the smaller kids, they were after all capable of taking care of themselves and they would often return in the evening for a bath before bedtime. The ranch did have running water and all that but it was way more exciting when you could have some privacy.
One Saturday evening the older kids did take off to bathe and promised to be back before it got dark, the adults were busy making plans for the harvest which was getting closer now and the workers were also very busy preparing the machinery needed and the crates in which the apples were to be transported. They had to follow a strict plan to avoid that the apples got overly ripe and they had to be picked within a narrow time frame. So everybody were doing something when two of the lads returned to the ranch, both were pale and obviously nervous. Mr Harrelson was outside just then, having a smoke and he saw the lads and went pale, immediately.
“Grandpa, grandpa, Lucille is missing!”
The elderly man turned around and shouted and before five minutes were gone a huge group was heading for the lake, riding or driving, using whatever means of transport which was available. Ty was among them, riding the grey gelding he had been given. They arrived at the lake, the kids were gathered there and all looked distraught. The oldest ones were running around shouting and trying to find the girl and Buck made a grimace. If there were tracks they were erased now, by many eager feet. It would get dark soon and the kids were gathered as the adults spread out. The greatest fear was that the girl had fallen into the water unseen but they saw nothing along the shore. The lake was very shallow and you could wade almost to the middle of it without problems. Somebody had flashlights and they tried to think rationally, could the girl have left the group for some reason and gotten lost? Not very likely, the area was very open and after so many days by the lake it was familiar terrain to them all. Could she have had some sort of accident? Lucille was prone to twisting her ankles, could she have fallen and passed out from the pain?
People were running around and shouting and Buck did notice that Ty was acting differently than the others, he was methodical and careful, watching the bushes and trees with narrow eyes. Buck did approach him. “So, what do you think?”
Ty was just grunting, his pale silvery eyes did seem to shine and he did bow down, took a peek underneath a bush. He did make a grimace and walked over to a tree near by, touched one of the branches and Buck did see that he did remove something from the branch. “She was taken”
Buck froze. “What?!”
Ty nodded. “Yes, taken, by somebody determined and swift. This is a human hair, long and grey, from a rather tall man I recon”
Buck stared at the hair, and then at Ty “You know how to track?”
Ty nodded and pointed at the bush. “He hid her under the bush, the grass has been disturbed, and when everybody started running around like headless chickens he carried her off. Nobody could hear him in the racket”
The tall blond did take a few steps further, staring at the ground. There was a faint mark in the soil next to the stem of a young tree. “Here, a foot. He isn’t wearing ordinary footwear, this is homemade, from rawhide”
Buck was breathing hard, Lucille was a very sweet kid, one they all loved. “How long?”
Ty was staring off into the darkness which did descend rather fast now. “No more than an hour, but he is in the woods by now. This man is like a wild animal”
Buck had problems swallowing. “Oh God, we have to gather the others, right now! We may catch up with…”
Ty did interrupt. “No, if you do that the kid will die, he will kill her to get away. We two go, none other. We can find her faster than a whole hollering group of desperate people. You are a good tracker Buck, I have seen you”
Buck got a feeling that this was a true compliment and one he ought to be proud of. “Ah, yes, I learned from my dad”
Ty nodded. “Tell the boss that we are following a track, get everybody to get back to the ranch and get the men to stand guard. We go now”
Buck frowned. “No horses?”
Ty grinned, the sharp white teeth were startling in the dying light, as if this man was about to turn into some feral thing. “No, we run”
Buck swore to himself but returned to the others, alerting them of the decision to follow. Some didn’t really believe that the kid had been kidnapped but the mother was falling apart and the group did return to the ranch, although reluctantly. The huge wolf hound came running as if it had been summoned somehow and then Buck had to run like never before. The blonde did run as if he had a special treaty with gravity and he didn’t make a sound. He was completely silent and Buck knew that the same couldn’t be said about himself. He was a sturdy man and unused to such activities.
They did run for a while and the wolf hound seemed to be following a track, wolfhounds are normally sighthounds but this used its nose and Buck found that a bit peculiar. Ty seemed to sniff his way through the forest as well and they did follow a wide arch around the ranch and the track was heading up north. Buck knew that the wood area was very difficult to travel through, the terrain was horrible at places and besides that, it was home to both grizzlys and mountain lions. But somehow Buck got the feeling that this was no problem now, not with Ty by his side. The man was running and not even breaking a sweat and Buck started to suspect that something was off, nobody is capable of such speed over time.
They were north of the pastures now and the track was rather fresh, the dog was not baying or anything, just sending its master some swift glances and he could have sworn that the dog was speaking to its master somehow.
Buck had to stop to draw his breath, he was close to a heart attack now. “Are you sure we are on the right track?”
Ty bent down for a second and picked something out of the moss, it was dark now and Buck had no idea of how the man could see anything at all. “We are”
He held it up, it was a hairpin, a small pink one with a cat shape. Buck gasped, it was one of Lucille’s pins. He felt angry and shocked and more so, terrified. “How far behind are we?”
Ty made a grimace. “Too far, come on!”
The tall blonde kept running and Buck felt the taste of blood in his mouth, he hadn’t ran like that since he was a teenager and was trying to chase his at the time sweetheart Donna Smith down the pastures of her home in order to steal a kiss. The terrain was horrible right there, huge boulders and rocks spread out over a forest floor which did rise and fall everywhere, as if the ground itself had been bucking around like a bronco. Buck had a flashlight but he didn’t use it, the faint ray of light was of as much use as a firefly and it only disrupted his night vision, what little he had left of it.
Then they heard the dog, it made a sort of loud whimper ahead and the blonde man did speed up, he ran so fast it was hard to imagine how it was possible. He had to have amazing eyes to be able to see at all now. Buck gathered some of his last remaining strength and managed to run again as last. There was something on the ground and the dog was standing above it, howling. The sound was raw and terrible and Buck felt his heart sink, a terrible cold was sinking its claws into him. Ty swore, Buck had never heard the language before but he knew swearing when he heard it. The blonde seemed to glow for a few seconds, as if he was fluorescent somehow.
It was Lucille, and it was all too clear what had happened to her. The small body was naked, the torn clothing just left next to it and the dark patches which had to be blood made Buck turn around. He was gagging, his eyes filling up with tears. Oh God, almighty God, why do you allow this to happen? His mind was shivering and Ty was mumbling something which did sound very dark indeed. “She has been violated, and then strangled!”
Buck was trembling. “Oh God!”
Ty did straighten himself, he seemed to grow, why Buck didn’t know but he had become rather frightening. The eyes were actually glowing and Buck did realise that this in truth was no man, it was something more, something very dangerous. Ty didn’t turn around, the hound was snarling and seemed eager to go. “Stay with the body, you have a walkie talkie?”
Buck did nod, his mouth dry. “Yes…”
“Then call them, I am going after the monster who did this. Rest assure, he will die. But you will not see me again”
Buck did wet his lips. “Why?”
Ty was smiling. “You will know why. Call now, and wait here. “
Buck swallowed hard. “You are no human….”
Ty nodded. “Yes, and now you know so…it is farewell”
Buck tried to think, to be logical. “Too bad, I…I am honoured to have known you”
Ty did bow his head, placed his hand over his heart in a gesture which did seem very respectful. “So am I son of Adam”
He did not look back, disappeared into the woods like a shadow and left the human standing there in grief and confusion.
After a while Ty did stop. He did remove the clothes he had been wearing and made a packet of them, hid them in a tree. He would back for them afterwards. Now, in his loincloth and boots he was feeling more like himself and he used some crushed berries to paint the symbols of the avarin warriors on his skin. He was out for blood, he was out for revenge and to remove a monster from this world and it was what he was there for. It was part of the deal, he was returned to the world in exchange for his skills as a hunter. He bared his teeth and nodded to Huan. “Let’s go!”
He had only his long hunting knife but he didn’t need anything else, his wrath so strong it made him shine. He did focus, removed that otherworldly glow and started running again. The track was still there, not as visible as it had been but he could find it. He could track anything and everything and he had been trained by the very best.
The man he was chasing was good too, a person whose mind had somehow returned to a feral state, a place where the animal instincts were in control. He could sense it, a deranged and dangerous type of existence. Huan was silent now, and they ran as one through the dark forest. Their prey was illusive and cunning, driven by desperation and hatred of everybody not as he was. Ty wasn’t far behind now, he could run way faster without Buck there. He had brought the man in case of something like that, that the bastard would kill the child. If they just left the body the scent of blood would draw on every predator in the area rather fast.
Celegorm had shed blood, lots of it. He had murdered countless others but never had an elf done something this gruesome to any of its own kin and hardly to any other kin either. It wasn’t in them, to be drawn to a child in such a manner was unthinkable and then to act upon that sick and twisted urge even more so. He felt sick and disgusted and angry, so angry his gut felt as if it was burning.
The man knew he was being chased, it was in his bones, in the instincts which had taken over a sick and deranged brain. To him he was at war, in his mind he was being hunted all the time, they were after him the whole time. He didn’t really know why they were chasing him or who they were but they were out to get him and he could trust nobody. The man had lived in the woods for many moons, he had escaped from a mental institution and when he still had some control of his thoughts he had sought out the wood area. Nobody would look for him there and he could vaguely remember that he was used to this. He had broken into an old rotten cabin to the east of the ranch and found some traps and he had used them to get food, and he had also shot some animals, he knew how to do that and survived thus, like a mindless beast.
Georg Smithers had been an ordinary young man, popular at school and not anything special at all. He had gone to college and there he met a girl which did lead him a bit astray. Drinking became ordinary, then drugs and before long he was a homeless person. He had been a boy scout and thus he was used to camping outside and he knew how to survive in the wild. Now those skills became valuable and he was not going to go back to that place.
It became a cats play with a mouse, Georg was using all that he knew but it was chasing him still, he could sometimes hear it, a faint sound of feet, the panting of a large dog. The man was tired and confused and he had no concept now of distance. All that mattered was that he would get away. Grasping that kid was a mistake but he had seen that soft golden hair and the plump body and forgotten urges had awakened and been too strong.
Ty was walking now, not running, the man was trying to be silent and sneak away but it was no use now. The human had no idea of what it was that was hunting him. The man entered a narrow ravine, looking for a place to hide and Ty followed. Without a sound, without alerting even the animals there of his presence.
The human was in sane, it was rather obvious and also, the man was dangerous. He carried a gun but he had only two bullets left and he was too shaken up to be able to use it. The elf didn’t care if he was cruel now, the man deserved no mercy. He saw images flashing before his eyes, the ones the man had killed during his escape, kids he had molested even before he was caught and put away.
The ravine ended in a steep wall of rock, many meters tall. There was no way out. The man was trying to climb and he was whimpering as he felt eyes upon him, hard cold eyes. He turned around, slowly. Saw a monstrously large dog with glowing eyes and an equally tall man with glowing eyes too. The man had long silvery blonde hair, pointy ears and was wearing war paint, he did look like death incarnate and the eyes told of a stone hard killer. Georg had once been a well groomed man, good looking and strong. Now he was long haired and had a beard and did look very deranged indeed. Filth covered his skin and his teeth were more or less rotten due to the medication and his reluctance to stay clean. He did smell like a garbage heap in August. To any hunter using his nose the man was easy to track down.
He was convinced that this was the devil, out to get him. He reacted according to his sick and ruined mind, he did attack like an animal would.
Celegorm wasn’t that surprised, he had anticipated an attack. A wounded animal would act with greater dignity than this, heck, even one with rabies would be more controlled. The man did wield a hunting knife, and he was running towards the hunter with his teeth bared. Ty did smile, a slow dangerous grin. A knife fight. He hadn’t been in one for ages but he knew this dance and knew it well. He just spun out of the man’s path and kicked him in the back. The man almost lost his balance, the eyes were filled with insanity and the elf knew that this man was human no more. He was more like an orc and killing him would be an act of mercy. The man stabbed again, a vicious low movement made to gut his opponent but the elf was too fast to be hit by it, instead the hunter did cut the man. A long shallow cut along the back and the man roared and stumbled back. He was snarling and growling and he charged again, knife held in front of him. Celegorm did cut the wrist of the hand which held the knife, deep enough to sever the tendons. The man was bleeding now, and the hand wasn’t useable. But he kept coming, fighting like a wild beast, mindlessly and with no conscious thoughts behind it. He just had to get away, he didn’t feel pain and he was caught by his delusions.
Celegorm did decide to end this, it was like torturing an animal, he took no pleasure in that. He waited for the man to make another attack and as the man tried to stab him with his left hand the elf simply caught the hand with a grasp which did crush the hand. With his other hand he plunged his own hunting knife into the man’s neck, just underneath the hairline and severed the spinal cord. The man fell, death was instantaneous and he felt nothing. It was perhaps being too soft but this man would never realize what he had done and he was just garbage to get rid of. Celegorm was still a harsh person, still hard and in many ways ruthless but the murder of a child? He could never accept that.
He finished what he had started and afterwards he did return to his clothes and washed off the war paint. He would wander on, he always did. The family had been kind to him and he would remember them. He did appreciate such people and he hoped that they would live on and thrive in spite of the loss. To him this was familiar, break up and move on, it was always that way. He would think about them every now and then, but never come back.
The search party did find Buck and the dead girl, he told them that Ty had walked on in order to find the culprit but he hadn’t returned and they all feared the worst. What they found was ghastly. The culprit was dead for sure and he was hanged from a branch with his own shirt. The genitalia were cut off him and he had many wounds. There was no sign of Ty and nobody wanted to find him, they told the authorities that he never gave them his real name and trying to locate a man like that would be impossible. Besides, the cops wouldn’t bother finding somebody who had murdered a murderer who on top of it all had killed and raped a child.
Buck did remember the tall blonde to his last days, he knew that he had come face to face with something ancient, something which could have answered so many questions if he had dared to ask them. But then again, perhaps ignorance was truly bliss, he had a feeling that the things this creature would have told him would have robbed him of all semblance of peace. No, it was better this way. Wherever the man who called himself Ty was, Buck was sure that he was doing a good job, and perhaps there was some monster out there which wouldn’t sleep so well knowing that a powerful hunter was out to get it.
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