Excerpt from latest book, available here $8.99
Colban followed the blood trail, stopping now and then to squint through the green, looking for the tell-tale smear of red. There, that way. He passed around a massive oak and pushed through thick bushes that sent up a spicy fragrance from their bruised branches.
Here, sticky red on crushed grass; the deer had stumbled and fallen here. He walked cautiously through a tall stand of sawgrass and into a clearing and there lay the deer, not yet dead, its sides slowly heaving. It was a fine, fat young buck and would feed many hungry bellies back at the camp. Its sleek hide glowed like gold in the sunlight.
“It is beautiful,” he thought, somewhat sadly. Did the deer love life as the People loved life? Would the deer family feel sad for the loss of their son? Colban imagined himself lying in the sunny clearing taking his last breaths while something watched from the shadows, planning to feast on his dead flesh. “Why does it have to be like this?” he wondered.
He quietly approached the deer, which no longer stirred, for it had already set out on its journey. He felt a knot in his throat and chest as he knelt and lay his hands on its head, closed his eyes and from the depths of his heart, whispered hoarsely, “Oh, Lord of the Beasts!”
“Yes?” came a deep voice from behind him. He spun around and saw a being nearly seven feet tall, with the face of an owl, the ears of a wolf and antlers-all of these on the body of a man. He saw this for only a split second before he passed out.
It was dark, so dark and nearby water was dripping into a puddle. “Am I in a cave?” he thought fuzzily, “I hate caves.” Drip… Drip… Drip. He counted three drips and slipped back into the soft black silence.
Orange shadows were dancing around and overhead. ‘Where am I?” Colban wondered. The shadows made no answer, they merely danced and danced to lively music that only they could hear. He propped himself up on one elbow and saw the fire; it was a young fire; there was no ash. On the other side of the fire sat the being, poking at the blaze with a branch.
Struggling to regain his usual bravery, Colban cleared his throat and asked, “Are you…the Lord of the Beasts?” The being looked at him for a few moments in silence and then said, “You may call me that.” Colban groaned and concluded that he must be dead; not only dead but he must have lived a very bad life to have woken up from death in a blasted cave. “Where am I? Am I dead? Is this the Land over the Bridge?” Colban asked.
“No, it’s just a cave, a regular cave and this is just a regular fire, ”said the Lord of the Beasts.
“But why am I here?” asked Colban.
“You called me and then you fainted. So I brought you here. What is it that you want?” asked the Lord.
What did he want? He wanted fat deer that would just walk into the camp and die at dinner time, clear water, honey made by sting-less bees, spear points as perfect as those crafted by his father…
“Why would you need perfect spear points if fat deer just walked into camp and died?” asked the Lord casually, stirring the fire.
Horrified, Colban realized that the Lord of the Beasts knew his thoughts. He tried to stop thinking.
to be continued…