Beneath The Boughs



“Thongryn! Closer!”

The Old Wanderer stumbled and crawled through darkness.

Great pines stood proud from the deep mounds of sphagnum moss, surrounded by dark waters which took the light of the moon and turned it to a sinister glimmer. All would have been silent if not for furious beating of black wings in the night.

“Roarc!”

Raven fought raven as the battle for The Old Wanderer carried on. Roarc’s Unkindness were glad that Old Bramblefoot’s assailers had underestimated his hidden allies. He dared to look for the state of his fellows as he pushed hard, another attack against the great white raven. The plan had been clear. More from Roarc’s Unkindness dropped from the trees and pursued The White One and as they guessed, he deemed himself too valuable to be slain. He fled. Roarc perched and cast his black eyes about the marshy wood for any sign of The Old Wanderer. Roarc’s brother had led the man to a deep ditch from which a tree had torn its roots, others fetched the downed pine boughs from all around and had begun to hide Bramblefoot from murderous eyes. With a single beat of his wings, Roarc glided to a branch beside the hiding place, tilting his head from side to side, he listened. If his beady eyes could show it, they would have showed fear, and concern for the old man. All that could be heard was the tell-tale shuffling and deep breaths of one in agony.

“Roarc! Stay hidden! Stay safe!”

Bramblefoot clutched at his empty socket, panting and shuddering. He drew air in deeply as if it would have taken the pain away. His world was darkness beneath the boughs and all had grown quiet. He knew a revenge from his friend’s Unkindness was due, and he dearly wished it not so. He took a root from his pack with shaking, bloody hands and bit down on it. His world turned warm and lulled him close to sleep, but sleep could not take him.