The Wild Hunt


The sound of hoof beats mixed with the baying of the hounds as the hunt approached the copse. The quarry had been sighted and the huntmaster gave tongue to his horn, the traditional summon call for the rest of the hunt pack. The whipper in drove the dogs forward, helping them to catch the scent as the pursuit quickened. Mud and clods of sod flew as the horses crossed the ground at speed, the trees coming ever closer. The smell of sweat, the clouds of fog from flaring nostrils, the heavy breath sharp in the cold winter air.

The first horses reached the copse, ploughing on, the lower branches of the trees tugging and whipping at the riders, nature working with the quarry to slow the hunts progress. The dogs, less encumbered by size crash through the undergrowth, flanks heaving as the climax draws near. Their baying turns to rapid barking as the quarry is sighted, the sound alerting the lead riders making them drive their horses deeper into the trees.

The mist returns, mixing with the fog of sweat and steam as the last horse enters the copse. The sound of the dogs and the horns and the hoofbeats fade as the wind sighs. Quietly, almost unnoticed, the quarry slips away, a hint of a smile on her time-worn features, the witch survives for another year…

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