Piper 3 Extract

A shrill blast from a hunter’s horn told them that they must leave. 

“Quickly,” spoke the boy who had so recently been the quarry, “I know where we must go.” 

He took one look at those around him and disappeared into the undergrowth. The rest followed. 

They moved quickly, always keeping to the heels of the boy. He was surefooted and knew the territory. Their path took the towards a stream, which they crossed, and over open ground which demanded that they keep low so that their outline would not be seen. The hunt was behind them, but they had not put enough ground between them to feel remotely safe.

As they reached the end of the dangerous stretch, the beginnings of a rocky incline met them. They started to climb. Again the boy was remarkable. 

For fifteen minutes, they ascended the slope. It was not sheer, but it was tough. They were climbing in single-file with Joel bringing up the rear. Kate wanted to ask him questions, but she could not break the silence. Below them came the unmistakeable sounds of horses and nobody needed to confirm it. Higher and higher they climbed until the air cleared itself of the earth and became crisp.

They were led between two fallen boulders that at first appeared to be one. Indeed, it was possible that they had been at one time before some earthquake had dislodged the mother rock from the rest of the mountain and sent it crashing down towards where it finally rested. There, it had fractured into two, blocking a natural pass yet allowing those who knew a way through. It was the tightest of crevices that only the boy was aware of. This was the place he had found when rounding up one of his father’s goats. Beyond the boulders was a cave to which his original escape had been intended. The small group followed him, squeezing through fissures that only just let them pass.

Sometime later, the first of the hunters reached the same spot. They had incredible ability to track, a gift that Pan had bestowed upon his followers, but here was a dead-end. The scout scented the air and found nothing. Above him, a hawk swooped from the sky onto an unsuspecting creature that only had time to let out the tiniest of shrieks before it was carried off into the night. It was enough for the scout to mistake this for his own prey. He moved on, satisfied that he would find them before the night was out.

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