Just An Airing

From The Piper Book 3. I just wanted to let this one out of the bag. It will be edited for publication. I like it, if you do as well please like.

In the afternoon heat, the young hunter waited in the shade of a rock face. The horses were tied up to a tree by the side of a small brook. Here the water had bubbled up from the earth and spilled over the ground before disappearing once more into a subterranean river. A few trees and shrubs had seized the opportunity of moisture and these now provided some shade for the beasts.

He half looked at the sun and wondered what was taking his comrades so long. A smile accompanied a thought that suggested the two other boys were now hanging from a tree with their entrails trailing along the ground. Such things happened to those who angered Pan. In fact he thought, such things tended to happen to anybody who happened across Pan or his children.

The air was dead still and all he could hear was the comforting breathing of the horses. He wished that he could sleep but knew that he could not; sleep was for the dead. 

He flicked away a fly that had been bothering him for some minutes. The fly, buzzed back onto him and this time he allowed it to come to rest. He watched its protruding needle as it sank into his flesh. A spot of blood welled up, but that was the last of it – the boy’s hand flashed down hard, at speed, and the thing was dead, splattered with its fresh intake of the boy’s juices. He rolled his finger and flicked it away from him. The body of the fly landed in a small area of sand that had been brought up by the rivulet and lay there. In no time, it was being surrounded by ants who measured the surprise bounty before carrying it off into their own dark chambers. 

One of the horses snorted loudly and this made him sit up. The creatures were trained to be silent unless something unwanted was approaching. They had smelled foreigners in the air, a smell he had not been able to detect so far. He grasped the hilt of his short blade and reached for his bow. Whoever was approaching would be surprised when an arrow buried itself in their eye. The hunter, who was once a boy, pulled further back into the darkness of the shade and waited. Now even the horses fell silent, their breathing no more than the faintest of breezes in the heat.

There was something coming along the ravine. Whatever it was, it was keeping the sound of its trek to a minimum. If his two companions had achieved what they were expecting, they would not be so concerned with giving away their approach. They ought to have captured the quarry as they had been ordered: or killed it. Bad luck for them when they would answer to Pan.

No, this was not them. He sunk further back and slipped an arrow onto the string of his bow. Why was his heart beating so hard?

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