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Old 03-09-2011, 05:08 PM   #11
Quill Revenant
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Wandering through the Downs.....
Posts: 850
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The light was still shining between the trees, less faint now as Catkin quickened her pace through the falling snow. ‘The Old Man does shepherd his herd tonight, I think,’ Willem spoke, to the wind and the drifting flakes, his eyes taking in the occasional shadow that moved across the distant gleam.

He strained his hearing to catch another sound of that high pitched scream. Here and there from numerous directions came the creaking of large wooden branches as the wind moved through them…..though, likely, too, they’d be the great hoary roots of the trees as they moved over the wintry forest floor. No scream, keening howl…..

It was Jumble, his nose to the cold, biting air and his head cocked to catch what sounds he might that heard something approaching as they traveled on. He gave a bark and a whine of anticipation, his body snapping to attention on the seat beside Willem.

A large, dark, four legged shadow came loping out from under the shadowed branches of the nearby trees. Willem squinted his eyes, trying to make out the animal as his hand strayed to the large ax tucked at the side of his seat. Catkin came to an abrupt halt, her ears flicking nervously. She pawed at the ground, intending to strike the beast if it came close to her.

But Jumble caught the intruder’s scent and began wagging his tail furiously. He barked, a definite bark of welcome and made his way down to the ground.

‘Why, look at that!’ Willem called out to his horse. ‘We know that fellow! It’s Duke, Karl’s dog!’ ‘See, Jumble knows him,’ he went on in an assuring manner to the skittish Catkin.

He set the brake and jumped down. ‘What’s the matter, pup?’ he said, running his hands over the large dog. Duke looked alright, no wounds, no signs of a fight about him. ‘Where’s Karl, boy?’ Willem narrowed his eyes and looked into the distance, the way from which the dog had come.

‘Can you take me to Karl?’ Duke goggled up at him, an expectant look on his face. ‘Karl,’ Willem said again, ‘Find him.’ Jumble nudged the larger dog with an insistent push and gave an imperative whine as he ran a little ways back down Duke’s path and then circled back.

‘That’s right! Go with Jumble, Duke.’ He climbed back to his seat and urged Catkin forward.

Back and forth the two dogs ran, keeping the wagon on track, until at last they broke from the tree line. A short ways away Willem could just make out two figures, near one of the standing stones. One tall, the other much smaller, like a child. And the bigger one appeared to have something slung over his shoulder like a large, lumpish sack.

‘Karl! That you, man?’ Willem called out, bringing the caravan to a halt. ‘It’s me, Willem. You alright? You hurt?’
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