A Kinrowan Estate story: The Hunting Party

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This was related to me a couple of days ago by one of our visitors:

I heard it only faintly, the jingle of harness in the courtyard. The men I’d been watching heard it, too. The pale man I’d never met was the first, I think — he suddenly cocked his head, intent. Then the rest, Kit and Robin, and the two men whose names I didn’t know, although I’d seen them from time to time, all rose from their table and headed toward the door, wrapping cloaks around themselves, the pale man’s hand resting on the bronze hunting horn at his belt. I followed, although I wasn’t sure I should. I’m inquisitive to the verge of foolhardiness, sometimes.

The moon was just full — the Slaughter Moon, they call it, or the Blood Moon — but the light seemed to be swallowed by the group of mounted men in the middle. Well, not all men — both the Lord and Lady of the Wood were there, she conversing easily with the one who seemed to be the leader, a fierce-looking old man with one eye and a pair of equally fierce hounds at his feet — great red-eyed, wolfish things they were — and I noticed another woman sitting tall, a long spear held casually in one hand, and next to her, another with a business-like bow. A broad-shouldered man with antlers fixed on his helmet nodded to my group as they approached — and then I realized he wasn’t wearing a helmet. I began to wonder if I had been wise to tag along, as I began to notice the others in the party. I had heard of them, some of them, but never thought they were real — I recognized them from the stories. But, I snuck a little closer — they were speaking together, quietly, and — well, I was curious.

I heard Robin call the horned man “Great One,” and the Lady of the Wood greeted Kit as “Maker” and said something I didn’t catch about riding on the same side. Kit just grunted — he was different tonight, not his usual joking self. The two strangers hung back a little, although I heard the dark one address the huntsman as “Brother.” They had seemed to know each other quite well. The golden man made some joke about “the other horn,” and was glad it was left behind tonight. They all laughed at that, and the huntsman said “Not yet, not yet.”

They mounted, and I began to be sure I didn’t belong. The golden man and his companion suddenly unfurled great wings, sunlight and shadow. Robin was somehow different, green eyes glowing in the darkness, his face harder, colder than ever I had seen it (I heard a soft roll of thunder that seemed to come from nearby), while Kit seemed bowed by some great sorrow.

The pale man leaned down from his horse and looked right at me. “I’d advise you to stay in tonight. And tell your friends the same.”

It seemed the wise thing to do. I heard the peal of the horn, as though in the distance, as I scurried back into the Hall.

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About Diverse Writers

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don't always. It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we've done.
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