Helping the Enemy
Ihloden crouched behind a tree and set his arrow in his bow. He noted the signs of the passage of the deer and knew that they would be back in this area soon. He settled on one knee and waited. The trees rustled softly around him, their woody voices whispering softly to him.
“Congratulations on your first flight Griffin Rider,” they said. He smiled at them, relieved to hear their voices.
“Thanks, he whispered, “I haven’t heard from you all since that first flight. I was afraid, you know, that you all were jealous or something like that.” He felt dumb saying that.
They rustled as if they were amused; “Union with a Griffin is emotionally tiring. We thought that we would give you some time to get used to that, before we spoke back you.”
Ihloden shook his head, “Why do I get the feeling that you all know more than I do,” he muttered. The trees rustled and then fell silent. Ihloden thought back to that closeness that he had shared with the Griffin on that first flight. It had somewhat faded but in its place there was even stranger feeling. It was as if he and the Griffin were connected to each other now, enough to know the general location of where the other was and what the other was feeling. It had been amazing to feel that when they were flying. It was as if they could read each other’s mind and learn to fly even better together. They however had still just limited the flights to just the wood area so as to give Lyficen a less chance of finding them.
He glanced back towards a dense part of the forest; he knew that the Griffin was in that direction and that it was still sleeping. He smiled and turned back his attention to his hunting. Before long he heard the deer moving back into the area. He frowned; they were coming in very fast as if they were running from something. He rose up from his knee and took aim. He saw the shadows of the deer as they raced towards him. They were running wild enough to be clearing the tops of the bushes. He rose up completely and let the arrow loose. It struck one deer in the side, but in the mad dash, the animal did not even falter. Ihloden shook his head in disbelief and resignation. He would have to track the deer now. He looked back to see what it was that had cause the deer to be running madly. His eyes trailed up from the brush to the trees. And then he saw it. A flash of orange. Ihloden froze, unable to believe again what he was seeing. The flashes of orange were appearing more and more frequent. Then in one moment the whole beast flashed out in the air as it leapt off one tree trunk and bounded to another. A Fangor!
Ihloden dropped to the ground immediately. His mouth felt dry. He could hear the loud breathing of the Fangor as it bounded off the tree trunks above him. He sneaked a look up and saw the Fangor flash over him. It held something in its mouth. Ihloden spotted a limp hand as the huge beast passed. Suddenly he was on his feet, squinting after the Fangor. The beast jumped it head turning to the side as it braced against a tree. Ihloden saw a pale face flash and then it knocked against the tree trunk. Ihloden felt torn; he wanted to run like those mad deer, but he also could not let the Fangor eat that man. He sighed to himself as the watched the Fangor continue to move. Then he took off after it.
Tracking it was hard. The beast was fast even with a grown man held in it jaws, while it leapt above his head from tree trunk to tree trunk. He could not believe what he was seeing. He had never even known that Fangors had that ability. The trees around him rustled loudly as the Fangor moved.
“A little help here,” he grunted, ducking below a bush when the Fangor flung back its head to get its bearings.
“Time the jumps,” the trees whispered, “Time and shoot.”
“I know that!” Ihloden said with a grunt as he moved from a low run to running normally. He raised his bow and took aim, counting the seconds it took for the Fangor to jump and how long it took for it to rest on each tree trunk. “One, two, three,” he whispered and shot as the Fangor came to rest against a trunk. The arrow missed.
The Fangor whipped its head toward Ihloden. Ihloden saw the deep red of its eyes before he ducked. He knew it saw him. He heard it gave a throaty rumble. Then there was the usual tree rustling. He waited a few seconds and then rose up. The trees screamed out “Ihloden!” The Fangor was only three trees away from him. He screamed and his hands flung back to his quiver. He never fired so fast in his life. Six arrows stood out from the Fangors body. The beast still kept coming toward him, limp body in tow. He stood rooted despite the fact that the trees were screaming something at him. Then as if someone turned off the beast, the Fangor stopped and with a weird surprised noise it fell over. The person in its mouth tumbled out and lay face down in the dirt. Ihloden stood there for a long while. Then he stepped forward and nudged the Fangor with end of his bow. It was certainly dead.
“It is dead,” the tress said, confirming him.
He nodded and swallowed hard. Then he went over to the body and rolled it over. “Oh no,” he said softly. The body was none other than the young man from Overed.