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Hubby vs. Wifey vs. Friends Post #17: A Boulder Creature and Different Genres

Jake and Andrea joined us tonight, and Hubby decided to switch things up a little bit: after choosing a Pinterest board (mine) and then Andrea choosing a picture, he had us choose a genre from a list (once one was taken, no one else could choose that genre). The genres we chose were suspense, tragedy, whimsy, and comedy. Hence the very different pieces below - even more different from each other than normal! Enjoy and tell us what you think. Should we keep choosing a genre ahead of time?

Hubby's Piece (whimsy):

"Ready or not, here I come!"

The voice was clear, but from the other side of the garden. Rachel had been careful to put a good distance between her and her brother Thomas, but she had done it so quietly. Thomas was older and tended to be better at hide-and-go-seek. They had played every day at their grandfather's estate for almost three straight weeks, and yet Rachel never stayed hidden for more than a minute. Thomas, on the other hand, had been hidden for almost an hour and a half just two days ago. This time would be different, Rachel would make sure of it.

She had had a plan from the beginning. She started off running to the left, parallel to the house, making sure to clomp her shoes and step on a few twigs on the way. Because the game had been unfair in Thomas' advantage, they had agreed he would count slower. She was able to get to the big oak by the time Thomas had only counted to "four". Rachel then turned around and took a big loop around Thomas to the opposite side. She was able to do so at a decent speed but stay on the soft grass so she didn't make any noise. With any luck, Thomas would spend a good deal of time looking in the exact opposite direction from where Rachel had hid.

Thomas started questioning where his sister had wandered off to, building playful suspense. "Hmm, where could she be?" he mused out loud. Rachel heard his footsteps lead away from her and grow gradually fainter. Her heart began to race. Was her plan working?

The rules Thomas and Rachel had agreed to - and invented themselves - dictated that neither was to move from their hiding spot once the seeker had finished counting to ten. But Rachel felt Thomas had won enough times that she had earned a little leeway. Besides, if she hadn't been driven to such a drastic strategy, and if her legs had been a little longer, she would have been much farther away than this by now. She waited a moment and decided to move, with excessive caution, a little further away from Thomas' starting point.

Rachel scuttled crouched low to the ground along the side of a old hedge. Luckily, she found a spot where some of the branches had grown in a way to allow a small dog, or someone just her size, to fit under the hedge. She might smudge up her sundress a bit, but to get a good hiding spot from Thomas, it was well worth it!

Down on her hands and knees she went, plodding her way through the dirt, branches, and leaves. Just when she thought she had gone in deep enough, her head popped out on the other side and into a clearing. She hadn't seen this part of the garden before. And with how long she and Thomas had spent outside, she was quite shocked to have never seen it.

In the center of the clearing was an ancient, massive weeping willow. There was no breeze, but the dangling branches swayed, almost dancing. The light here seemed different. It was warm, but she was in the shade. She could see rays of sunlight breaking through a thick canopy overhead, but couldn't make out the sky above it. The air seemed thick, as if everything moving through it was going along slower than it should, but she could breath easily. In fact, despite all the running, she was breathing normally. And despite all the strangeness around her, she was completely at ease; like she had just come home from a long holiday.

Curiosity overtook her and she made her way forward through the low hanging branches. She went to brush them aside, but they almost bent out of her way on their own. She had never felt anything so light and soft before. She imagined, if a tree could be made of cotton, this might be what it would feel like. It was only now dawning on her that she had walked farther than she meant to, but was still under the tree. It was almost as if she had wandered into a field of willow branches that were growing from the sky downward. This idea was more amusing than unsettling, and she pressed on.

Eventually there was a break in the forest. Before her stretched a landscape of mossy stones, small babbling brooks, and endless trees void of any greenery. The ground was thick with various grasses, small brushes, moss, and mushrooms, but the trees were strangely bare. They didn't seem dead, but rather as one would expect trees to be in January. Except that it was early July.

Something shifted to her left and caught her attention. There on the ground not a stone's throw away, was a small rabbit.

It is worth noting here that Rachel had never been one for sports like her brother Thomas, so what might be a stone throw for you or I would be a considerably great distance for Rachel, making this rabbit a good deal closer for her than it would have been otherwise.

She and the rabbit stared at each other for several minutes, or perhaps only a few seconds. It was pure white except for the very tips of its ears which were jet black. It didn't seem to be afraid; it just stared as if it had never seen a human before and didn't know what to make of her. Rachel knelt down remembering her brother had told her animals can be afraid of big things and it is usually best to appear small so as not to worry them. Slowly, she extended a hand toward it to see if it would come closer and, much to her amazement and delight, it did. But as it did, she saw something she had rather not expected.

Rachel had seen rabbits before, even in her grandfather's garden - though he didn't want them there. They had long ears, cute fluffy tails, and furry bodies. This one though seemed quite a bit different from the usual bunnies she had seen. This one had ears, but four instead of two. They looked like perfectly normal rabbit ears, there were just too many of them. And the tail was far too long. It reminded her more of a lion's tail than that of a normal rabbit.

The tail itself was longer than the body. It stepped forward, weaving its way between rocks and small, red mushroom clusters making its way toward Rachel. She sat perfectly still holding out her hand watching this beautiful creature in amazement. It made its way to her and gently nudged her fingers with its nose and then arched its back and rubbed against her wrist like a cat. It was simply the softest things she had ever felt. Not long ago, that title had gone to the mysterious willow, but now belonged to this strange rabbit. It nuzzled against her leg and knees for a minute or two as Rachel just sat and watched. Finally, it had had enough and spread its wings and flew off into the distance.

Everything had been so unusual about this rabbit that it took a moment for Rachel to process and realize the strangeness that a rabbit had just flown away. But why not, she supposed? Nothing else was quite normal here.

Where was here, exactly?

Rachel turned around slowly taking in her surroundings until her eyes landed on a large stone - or rather a pile of stones - staring back at her. She supposed at first that it was a statue like some of the ones she had seen in grandfather's garden, but this one seemed too...alive. It wasn't "life-like" per say, for, as we all know, rocks are not in fact alive. But this one had a strange living quality to it. Maybe it was an effect of being covered in moss? The hands and fingers were large, but beautifully detailed and proportioned. The face looked somewhere between sad and bewildered. Perhaps it was tired? Of course, it wasn't actually tired, but perhaps it had been crafted to look as if it was tired.

Then it moved.

Rachel felt as if her heart stopped. The pile of stones moved its stone hands and took hold of a small tree beside it and leaned against it gently. It blinked, for lack of a better term, and settled itself as it continued staring. The middle of where its eyes would be if it was a thing that had proper eyes looked like tiny pricks of starlight. Rachel was beginning to wonder more and more where she was and if any other people had ever been here before.

Rachel wondered if the thing could speak. It had a mouth which was hanging slightly open as the two stared. It was rude, Rachel's mother had taught her,  to stare at all and much more so to stare with one's mouth open, but Rachel supposed this rock-thing had never had etiquette lessons. She thought she would try and talk to it and see if it understood.

She wasn't sure what exactly to say to a pile of living rocks, so she thought she would start with a greeting.

"Hello," she said timidly.

It didn't respond verbally, but rather tilted its head to a side.

"Hello," she repeated, "my name is Rachel. Do you have a name?"

The thing stayed quiet. From somewhere behind her, Rachel heard a distant voice call out.


She turned to look, but no one was there. She heard it again but closer and clearer.


She turned again back to the stone-man, but he was just a pile of stones now. There was no "man" anymore.

Rachel jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Rachel!" Thomas exclaimed. "Are you ok?"

Rachel blinked hard and looked around. There were no stones or rabbits. There was no forest. There was no willow. She was sitting in the open beside the hedge.

"Yes. I'm fine." Rachel felt like she was coming out of a deep dream.

"I found you quicker than it took for me to count," Thomas huffed. His face showed confusion and possibly some frustration. "You know I can see you pretty well just sitting next to a bush?"

Rachel dozily examined the hedge beside her. There was no tunnel. There was no mud on her dress.

"Come on," Thomas lifted Rachel to her feet, "you go on and hide again. That one didn't really count."

Rachel's eyes were locked on the hedge as if staring would make the way back to the willow appear again. But it didn't.

Thomas tugged on her hand. "Rachel? Do you need to go inside?" Thomas sounded a little worried.

"What? No, no I'm fine. Let's play again." Rachel did her best not to sound too distant.

As they headed back to the house, Rachel looked up and caught a glimpse of her grandfather staring out the window from his study. He grinned and winked at Rachel before stepping back from the window. Had he seen? Did he know? Could he get her back?

Rachel was beginning to wonder what the rest of the summer would be like in her grandfather's garden.

Jake's Story (suspense/horror):

Run, Blossomfoot, run. The Wild Hunt waits for no treant. It didn’t wait for your family; it won’t wait for you. It didn’t wait for you to keep hiding behind the trunk that didn’t even cover you. It didn’t wait for you to leave sight before it struck Woodyew down and hung his branches in the trees of our very own forest like he was a trophy, his own blood coating the grasses he once tended to. The squawking in your ears won’t wait for you to rest, it grows louder and louder every second, just waiting to drive you mad that the Hunt has a proper mindless beast to set its eyes and arrows upon.

It won’t wait until after you run past their deer made albino, crying tears of crimson, leaving bloody hoofprints behind them as they harried you, crying out as their antlers tore into you with supernatural strength, leaving your own trail bloody through the grasses.

They didn’t wait for you behind that tree that couldn’t even cover you, as the low grunting and sniffling approached closer and closer.

The leaves crunching underneath as I rush past another totem made from a corpse, its innards acting as fertilizer for the ground beneath it. Maybe if I can escape the forest, it’ll let me go. Never heard of the Hunt to be one for civilization. The squeals in my ears won’t stop. The distant cries of the deer are far behind me, but I can’t stop.

My breathing is harried, I can only run at a sprint for so long. The crunches of the twigs beneath my feet seem to echo in my head, amplifying the cacophony of screeches I feel grinding around in my head.

Something zips by my head, too quick to see. It lands in the ground. An arrow with something wrapped around it. Something that is now moving towards my feet. I can’t even tell what it looks like in my rush to get past it and the lone arrow.

The forest almost seems like it has a mind of its own now. Vines reach up a little to trip me, the branches move themselves into my way suddenly as they find themselves nearly imbedding themselves into my eyes with a strength they really shouldn’t have. The very awning seems against us as the once sunny day has turned grim as the canopy folds in upon itself, drowning the area in darkness. The usually clean, clear air now almost seemed like it was trying to force its way down my throat, leaving every breath like knives to my insides. The only stench I could smell was a near overwhelming odor of rotting innards: no matter how fast I ran, it seemed to coalesce around me.

I felt something wrap around my leg, but part of me was too scared to look at it until I felt a deep, piercing pain in my knee. A crimson, serpentine creature had woven its way around my calf and sunk its fangs into my leg. In that moment, a sudden burst of washed over me as I grabbed the creature right under its head. I found that rather than being met by scales, my touch was met by a strong waterfall of liquid that ran across the body of this creature. I threw it as far as I could and turning to my hands, I smelled iron and saw my palms covered in blood.

Keep running, Blossomfoot, keep running. As I did, I felt my knees shaking. Far too much. Keep running.

The harrowing wails in my head persisted, circling around inside as if they were vultures and it was carrion slopped across the ground. As I ran, my leg kept burning with every step I took. Darn bite. With each step, it begged me to stop, pleaded to let it rest, but I couldn’t. I stopped and I would become one of those bodily totems adorning the forest like the Wild Hunt’s own stake into this land. The blood beneath it coming as a warning to those who would dare travel through.

The biting pains stabbing at my insides slowed me down eventually as I heard the chittering come closer behind me and stop all at once. My leg gave out from under me. A thousand voices spoke to me all at once. Most of them animalistic. Roars, growls, chitters, caws, and croaks all melding together in a maelstrom of maddening sound. One voice rose above them. A distant-sounding echoing human voice.

“Give in to the Hunt.” Its deep, haunting, timber resonated, bouncing inside the cavernous void that is my skull.

Before me, I saw thorny vines sprouting between the trees, creating a wall I couldn’t hope to cross without a further trail of blood behind me. I let go a shaky breath as I turned my head. The walls of thorns sprouted all around me, trapping me inside.

“Give in to your own instincts.”

From the ground, as if clawing their way out, humanoids with the heads of albino deer crying crimson tears like that of the deer that chased me before with the torso of a human and the bottom half of an eight-legged horse. Another crawled out of the ground on the opposite side of myself.

“Give in to your own hunt.” A sudden rush of rage poured through my head, the dissonance of creatures in my head, driving me forward towards the creatures.

The noises in my head reached a crescendo as my bloodied hands met the creatures, but my own adrenaline couldn’t stand up to the supernatural strength of the creatures as I began hearing the bones in my body break beneath their hands and as my sight faded away, I felt the pulling of my limbs, tearing and breaking as I entered my own eternal sleep as a totem of the forest.

Andrea's Piece (tragedy):

Trudge, trudge, trudge

My feet made heavy, squashing noises on the soft, bouncy earth.

Trudge, trudge, trudge

Every time a foot met the earth, I struggled to find where my foot started and where the earth stopped. My whole person was growing and blooming into an organic landscape, one that formed a greater and greater bond with the ground every time we touched.

I was sinking. Sinking into a realm of frozen isolation. Sinking into decay. Sinking into what rejected my personhood.

The grass, the trees, the rocks, the dirt…they were different from me. But soon enough, I would be their brother. No, I would be their slave.

Trudge, trudge, trudge

I would celebrate the gift that was walking while I still maintained the ability. God knows which step, which breath, would be my last.

There was no particular destination in my mind. However, I wouldn’t take my death lying down. Movement was my goal and freedom was my prize, no matter how much it waned.

The sun was sinking ahead, and based on how the soil lovingly hugged my trunk-like feet, I might not see it rise. So I would continue to walk, to march, to trudge… Like a man walking into the ocean, fully aware of how the earth tends to swallow things.

I was walking along a creek and listened to its whispered babbling when a loud bang silenced the world. Startled, I shuffled behind a tree, my breath labored as I watched a black cloud, about two feet in diameter, hover about four feet above the ground.

Never, in my years living in these woods, had I ever seen such a thing. Was it kind? Evil? Sentient? I didn’t know. So I hid behind the tree, though, hiding was a relative term. After all, what level of cover was a spindly tree giving a mountain sized beast?

I simply watched helplessly as the cloud began to grow and shape. It elongated and formed something like arms, legs, and a head. But after achieving human shape, it continued to produce something like long, segmented appendages, comparable to spider legs. These appendages grew from the shoulders, torso, and back, creating something more insect in shape than human.

But when he turned, I saw that he was human, at least, in some sense of the word. He had a boy’s face, a lanky human body, and dark eyes. The cloud never completely disappeared though, instead, it clung as a thin mist to the core of his body.

Briefly, I hoped he didn’t see me. It would be great if I never had to interact with the demon boy. However, I was not so lucky.

As if he were looking for me, the boy turned and locked eyes with mine. Instantly, I pulled my limbs closer to myself and let my countenance fall. Was I ashamed? If it had to do with my appearance, I suppose I could look to this boy’s extra appendages for comfort. But that wasn’t it. No, my shame went deeper than the moss, rock, and vines.

“Who are you?” The boy asked, loud and plain.

I looked around as if he could have possibly been talking to someone else.

“Yes, you!” he emphasized. “What are you?”

I opened my mouth purposefully but closed it once again. After all, rock and dirt made poor lips.

“Can’t speak, huh?” he asked, and somehow didn’t appear surprised. “Be that way, see if I care.”

I frowned as much as my hardened face would allow.

The boy sighed as he turned and looked at the creek running beside us. A spider leg or two touched the ground as he moved, keeping him balanced along with his regular, human legs.

“My name’s Atheo,” he said brusquely. He turned to look for recognition on my face. His upper lip twitched when he didn’t find any.

Prince Atheo,” he said with emphasis. “Prince of this dirt you walk on, Prince of you!”

I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to argue but it was clear that I couldn’t.

“Whatever,” he grumbled, folding his arms across his chest. “Respect is in such short supply these days…”

He turned his back on the creek and walked up a small boulder, that way, he was nearly on eyelevel with me. Again, the spider legs lent themselves for balance and climbing. A thin mist of darkness trailed behind him.

“That’s what started this whole thing, you know? Respect.” Atheo said in a huff. “It’s my father’s fault, really. He’s always getting respect – respect that he doesn’t even deserve. And what do I ask for? A little obedience, a little mindfulness, a little…what am I even telling you this for? You’re just, some kind of monster…”

Maybe this kid should find a mirror.

I dared to take a step out from behind my tree. I could have taken the name calling to heart but instead, his story piqued my interest. It sounded strangely familiar.

“What, now you want to know more?” Atheo asked. “It’s none of your business, beast! Besides, there’s not much to know. The general, my general, refused my direction, and…he got what came to him.”

My eyes widened at what he might be talking about.

“Sure, so I killed him!” Atheo blurted without prompting. “You want me to sing it from the rooftops? What would you understand, anyway?”

A lot, actually. I remembered being there, being angry, being willing to give anything for what I wanted.

And I did.

“If you think that’s bad, you should hear what I’m going to do next.”

My wide eyes watched him curiously. He’d be surprised where my tolerance was.

Taking my stare as a challenge, Atheo squared his shoulders to me.

“I’m going to kill my father, the King.”

I didn’t even blink.

Atheo was perturbed now.

“What, you think it’s a simple thing? To take a life? To kill?”


Atheo tilted his head to the side. “Maybe you do?”

In fact, at one time, I did.

With his tale stripped of shock, Atheo was slightly disarmed. His tightened his lips and looked at the ground briefly.

“Do you know how became like this?”

I would have smirked if my face allowed it. I hypothesized that his story wasn’t too different from mine.

“It was slow,” he said as he glanced at the spider legs. “But I suppose I wanted it all along.”

I settled in my place in the grass. The light of day was disappearing, drawing out the shadows and making Atheo blend in with the darkness.

What had happened to him had happened to me.

He had chosen a path of trouble and it paid him back with such.

I had been a hungry, greedy man, who wanted the world and then some. I ruined my family, my friends, and my life for the simple pleasure of money.

Prince Atheo was a black hole of pride. He needed every eye on him at all times, and I pitied the corner of the world that he forced himself upon.

Although, our stories were different, they were ending the same. I was destined to sink into the earth and become the road that others walked on. I wanted wealth and I would be turned into dirt. Atheo, wanted respect and obedience, and he would be turned into an insect that others would swat away without a second thought.

Atheo turned to watch the sky turn to night. He smirked a little as stars began to twinkle overhead. With his plans solidified, nothing would stop him now. He wouldn’t stop until he was the monster on the outside that he was on the inside.

“I have to go,” he said quietly then sighed. “The king won’t kill himself, I’m not lucky enough for such a thing. But once he’s gone, things will be made right. I just know it.”

He gave me one last look and a short grin before bursting into a cloud that disappeared as quickly as it came.

I took a heavy breath, and wondered how long the boy had left before he met my fate.

It wasn’t until he was gone that I found my body fastened to the ground and sinking, sinking, sinking…

Wifey's Story (comedy):

I like to think that I’m a rather formidable fellow. After all, I have the largest biceps, the cleanest cut jawline, the most rigid wings, the spikiest hair and the thickest thighs out of all my comrades. Some of the weaker hearted have been known to faint - yes, faint - at the sight of me strolling along. I’m certainly not a braggart, but I will modestly say that I even find myself rather intimidating at times.

Ah yes. But really, I do try to take pity on the other fairies and fair folk, and I don’t flaunt myself around too much. It’s purely for the sakes of my dear village mates because you see, I’m really a kindly fellow, though I am so hulking. I like to be compassionate and gentle toward the less mighty.

That’s why I was out there that day, come to think of it. I was out collecting those spotted mushrooms that the mayor Fratsello likes so much. We were giving her a party that night (I won’t deny, I was hoping to sweeten her toward my village headsman scheme), and I wanted her to have the absolute best. I’m just like that.

So anyway, I was speeding along, all massive and tough-like, hearing the praises that the gentle lady fairies must have been whispering behind their dainty hands as I passed, and eventually I left the village and made my way through the forest that was harbor to more of those succulent, spotty delicacies so beloved by our fair mayor.

I had found a nice little stream with a few mushrooms sitting squarely beside when I noticed some odd movement out of the corner of my masculine eye. My wings flickered in warning to whatever was behind the tree, but when I looked, there was nothing actually there. That happens at times to those of us blessed with extra intuitive intuition. My rapid reflexes are on such high alert that they sometimes need to blow off some steam by alerting me to a threat that does not exist. They keep extra sharp that way. I don’t mind. It’s good practice, and you never know when such intuition will save your life - or some poor, hapless fairy’s. That’s what I’m here for.

What was I saying?

Oh yes. So, my rapid reflex alert dealt with, I went back to assessing the mushrooms to see how many I could take back. I could definitely carry all the mushrooms I could find - strength was obviously not an issue here, not with my arms and defined back muscles - but I wasn’t sure of the diplomatic advantage of taking too many large mushrooms. Maybe only two or three would be plenty for the guests. I chopped the stem and hefted one. Yes, the more I thought about it, probably only one mushroom would be best. You see, that way, they were more rare, which made them a more valuable commodity at the party, which made them more tantalizing, which made my presenting a slice to Fratsello more noble and complimentary. I hefted it again. In fact, the more rare the better: perhaps I should slice it in half before winging my way home.

While I pondered these deep, political, and virtuous thoughts, another movement caught my reflexive eye. I stood straight and buzzed my wings intimidatingly. Face the danger head-on, that’s my motto. It’s always best to be prepared. I remember one time when we were attacked by a very large bumblebee…if I hadn’t been able to face critical danger in the…well, face… then…well, my left foot would still have six toes…but there I go, getting off track again.

I faced the dangerous noise and leveled a glare in its direction that would cause any sane animal to shake in its boots. But again, there was nothing. This time, I was a little confused. Usually my intuition needs one good reboot to stay in action and then it hibernates on high alert until needed. How can reflexes hibernate and be on high alert? That, my friend, is one of the beautiful mysteries of my magnificently efficient body.

The noise, yes, the noise. So, not seeing anything, I decided to trust that intuitive sense of mine and do a good, thorough search.

I rose in the air using my broad, powerful wings, and did a quick sweep of the area. All looked normal: more spotted mushrooms (unnecessary for my fabulous party, but still delicious), some yellow flowers that smelled of sunshine, more tall pine trees, a bubbling brook, and moss-covered banks. All completely harmless. I hovered for a moment, tapping my square chin. Why were my senses telling me that I was not alone here?

Then it happened again, and I realized what was wrong.

The moss-covered banks were not moss-covered banks. Granted, they were moss-covered, but they were not banks. They were, in fact, something else.

(I’m still not entirely sure what they were. But it was large and quite frankly, horrifying.)

I was strong and courageous, naturally, and made the most strategically correct move for that moment: I screamed (in a very masculine and intimidating way) and flew into a tree.

I was aiming for a hole in the tree so I could see from a better vantage point, but unfortunately, as I found out, there wasn’t one. A hole, that is. Just a trunk. And when you have the best speed of all known fairies, flying into a hole-less tree can be rather…painful. For less fairies, of course. I was fine.

After my vision cleared and I realized I was sitting on the ground, I looked up to see two gigantic creatures staring at me.

Very slowly, they fused into one creature - I’m still not sure how it did that - and I noticed that, probably due to my intense show of powerful flying and rapid descent and then my smoldering glare, the creature was not making any advances. It did not seem overeager to charge me. I pulled myself up and called out in a voice that didn’t shake as much as it should for the fall I had taken: “Who are you and what do you want? Show yourself, foul beast, and meet my wrath!”

I have found that creatures of great girth or magnitude often run from me in terror when I challenge them in such a way. It’s another small gift of mine.

The creature blinked slowly at me from behind a tree that it was clutching with boulder-sized hands. Its round head had two glistening black eyes that were fixed on me - most likely in terror at this point - and a gash-like mouth that hung open (in admiration, most certainly).

My legs stopped shaking, and I hoisted my chin into the air. “Well? Do you decline to answer? Where are your manners, fiend?”

It ducked its head a little and made an odd sound.

Knowing that this was a critical moment, I raised my fists and scowled fiercely. “I warn you, I am not to be trifled with! These fists have a power you would do well to avoid!”

Again, it made that odd sound. I strained my ears. It could have been its speech, but more likely it was crying in terror. It sounded a bit like, “Hah. Hah. Hah.”

Emboldened even more than my normal courageous state by its temerity, I advanced a step. “Do you decline my challenge? Or will you dare to face me?”

The creature’s eyes closed, and it put its hands over its head. The “hah, hah” sound was much louder now. I could tell it was breaking down from its fear. The sight of the hapless creature was too much for my compassionate heart.

I lowered my fists and changed my look of fierce anger to that of kind pity. “Do not fear. I will not harm you out of anger. Only evil creature of darkness need fear my wrath. Who are you, gentle beast of great stature?”

It choked back several of those odd sounds in its throat before it could answer me. I let it take its time. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this, but I can imagine that it would be difficult to recover from the fear induced by such a magnificent being’s threats.

The beast’s speech was very deep and rumbly in nature. I believe it answered me thus: “You are indeed a courageous little being, hummmmm hmmmmm hmmm. Hah. Hah. Hah.” It choked back more fearful “hah”s. “I’m sorry if the tree was too much for you. Hummmm.” The mouth actually cracked into a large grin.

My heart was touched by its courage. “Not at all, friend, not at all. A tree’s bark is mother’s touch to me. I cannot be harmed by such a fall. It was strategic, you see.”

The creature closed its eyes (in admiration, I believe) and took a moment to breathe deeply. (My aura has that affect on some.)

“I see. Hummmm quite a distance for one so small!”

I puffed out my chest. “Not at all, friend. Your consideration is kind, naturally, but I am quite fit, as you can see. I do hope my fearsome presence has not caused you much harm.”

At this, the strange being rolled into a ball and rocked back and forth, emitting many large “hah”s and “hummm”s. The poor thing must have fits, I decided, adding this to the list of reasons to pity it. I waited patiently for it to pass, determined not to give it cause for embarrassment.

It sat up again after a moment and gasped, “Hummmm and who are you? Humm? I would like to know your name, small one.”

I drew myself up proudly. “Fanach is what they call me in my village. And what are you called?”

Its mouth turned in a lopsided grin. “Carraig is my name, though there are others with the same. I am happy to have met you, Fanach. It is a fitting name.”

I bowed my most majestic bow. “It is an honor to have made your acquaintance, Carraig.” I opened my mouth to say more, but my eloquence was cut short by the position of the sun over the horizon. I made a sound of dismay and turned to Carraig.

“My apologies, for we have just met, but I must complete my quest and return home with my treasure before the sun sinks much further. I have a banquet to furnish.”

Carraig looked at me gravely and (probably in relief, poor creature) said, “I am most honored, noble Fanach. You have blessed my day beyond your understanding. I wish you a most uneventful return journey.”

I bowed once more and turned to gather my mushroom.

Carraig’s voice came once again just as I took flight. “Do be careful of the trees, Fanach!” his low voice rumbled, “and once again, thank you!, for I dearly love a good -”

“You’re welcome!” I called back over my shoulder, pleased to have given the creature relief and inspiration by my presence, though puzzled by what he must have said just as I flew out of earshot. It sounded almost like “lav,” which must mean something in his speech.

Another successful day, I thought contentedly, whizzing through the air toward the setting sun. The party was sure to be excellent, and mercy gives one a lovely, fuzzy warm feeling. All in all, I was feeling quite magnanimous. Which was my natural state, of course. Have I told you about the

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