Chapter 5: Skirmish In The Woods
Jack looked out from his rocky viewpoint. All around was thick forest, ancient trees that lined the steep sides of the valley. He could see vast mountains far off in the distance. Above him an eagle flew, soaring high and scanning - just like he was.
Jack cast his gaze down, focused. He willed his ears to listen harder. Every now and then a wolf cried out and he figured they were approaching from the lower edge of the valley.
“They’re coming from down there!” he shouted, pointing.
Jasyra and Evooku nodded and repositioned themselves. Jasyra hid behind a boulder and Evooku stood behind a fallen tree.
Jack kept watching, listening as he heard the wolves come closer. “Get ready!” he cried.
He looked around, wishing there was something else he could do. What was he thinking, taking shot putt instead of archery! The sword wouldn’t be much good up here; those wolves were huge and Jack wasn’t much of a fighter.
There was a howling cry and the first wolf burst from the trees. Within seconds, two arrows flew through the air. One overshot the beast while another flew straight for its head. With lightning reflexes, the wolf opened its great jaw and twisted its head around to bite the arrow mid-air. It exploded into splinters and the wolf spat bits of wood with an angry hack.
Two more wolves burst from the trees to skid in the dirt. They paused, circling and weaving, knowing that their prey was armed.
A third arrow flew, this time striking one of the wolves in its shoulder. The beast roared with fury. Jack watched as his strange companions ducked behind their hiding spots, peering out. The wolves were planning their attack and Jack realised with shock that they could easily encircle the girl and the green skinned man. He grabbed a nearby rock, hoping he would have the chance to use it. The first wolf explored a side track, looking to catch Evooku from behind. Jack waited for the perfect moment, then threw the rock with all his might.
It soared through the air and cracked right into the beast’s muzzle. It yelped, rubbing at the wound with its front paws. The other two wolves growled, searching for their unseen attacker, but in that moment Jasyra and Evooku shot off two more arrows, both striking home. Sadly, it looked like it would take more than a few arrows to stop them.
The wolves regrouped, weaving downwards so they could stay out of sight of Jasyra and Evooku. Jack watched the pair with alarm as they scrambled back, trying to find higher ground. The three beasts approached and Evooku let loose another arrow. It struck one wolf in the throat and the beast fell to the ground, choking.
The other two wolves were still coming, looking unstoppable. He searched the ground at his feet, trying to find another rock to throw. There were just pebbles and leaves—except… Jack looked over to a massive boulder perched close to the edge of the cave mouth. If he could get that to fall, it might distract the wolves. He jumped at it and pushed, but it was no good. It was way too heavy.
The first wolf growled deep in its throat, stalking closer. Jasyra let a desperate arrow fly over its head, missing by a mile. The wolf looked at its companion as they planned their final attack.
Jack spotted a large tree branch. In amongst all the chaos he found himself remembering something boring and confusing his math teacher, Mr Bottomley had once said about force or mass or something. Jack grabbed the branch and dragged it back to the boulder and wedged it underneath the rock as a lever. He heaved with all his might. The boulder lifted slightly, but fell back into place. Jack’s hands burned as he squeezed and pushed, finally getting the giant rock up on its edge.
The first wolf stepped up onto the rock, facing down Jasyra and Evooku who stumbled back—cornered now against the rock face.
Jack pushed harder than before and felt the rock lift up.
Just a bit more!
Suddenly the rock vanished—tumbling over the edge and bouncing off the rock walls with a huge crash. Jack fell back in the dirt, then crawled over to see the results. The boulder was split in half, both pieces rolling away towards Jasyra and Evooku. The pair saw the rocks coming, and dived out of the way just in time as they thundered past. The wolves weren’t so lucky.
The first boulder slammed right into the first wolf, crushing it instantly. The second beast took a glancing blow as it tried to leap out of the way. Hurt, it hobbled to the woods. The rocks continued on their path of destruction, crashing through the trees and down to the valley below.
The injured wolf looked back, staring up at Jack with angry red eyes. Jack felt a chill run through his body, as if he was being watched by something else. Something smarter and more sinister than the wolf itself.
After a moment, it limped away into the trees.
Jack waited till his breath returned, then scrambled down the rock face. He wondered if Evooku and the strange girl were okay...