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The Wild Hunt
By Roy Edwards
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Rated "PG" by the Author.
A romance of mythology
A vanished reflection: Wild pigs grub for acorns. The trees stand sentinel in the weirding gloom. Deep in the forest the mournful howl of a wolf shivers through the air. The moon is rising in the east, its deathlike pallor shedding eerie, spectral light; thin as a soundless scream; thin as terror in the soul of a burning heart. Low winds sough and moan rustling drifts of leaves dry as old bone. A solitary star hangs low in the northern sky. The deep bay of war hounds shreds the air. Something pale runs with effortless grace. The hounds bay louder. He runs naked and alone. He has always been alone, the solitary way of his life drifting like a poem through the dreams of men. His pace quickens; A tall, wide shouldered brawny man with a spread of antlers. A tangled thatch of green-gold hair streams out behind him in thick waves and ringlets. The antlers gleam like old polished wood in the dim, bleached light of the moon. He is swift and full of grace, and as he runs fleet as a stag through the forest, he listens to distant voices in the sky. The wild hunt is in full cry. Bugles bray and peel. The Faire Folk stream like rainbows girt for blood. He runs bathed in curious light. He smiles a sad, lost smile. The hounds bay and snarl as they crash and flounder through the undergrowth far behind him. His face is serene and untroubled washed white in the thin light of the moon. He slows a little. His massive chest rising and falling, he breathes easy. Soon he will turn; he will kill the hounds and scatter the Faire Folk, scatter the rainbow stream in a whirl of glittering jewelled droplets.
They will return, the hounds and the Faire Folk, they always return; it is their fate to hunt him remorselessly yet never question why their fates are entwined. And yet nothing stays the same, nothing is forever. The sacred circle is broken; the world is changing. He grimaced in the cold, pale light; one day they will kill me, one day they will rend and tear the Green Heart and I will pass into myth, the Antlered Man who is no more. The Celts were the harmony in the song. Now they are gone. The invaders kill everything. The Faire Folk hunt me to death. He looked up at the moon shining through a drift of luminous clouds. He revelled in the sensuous feel of the cool wind caressing his flesh; the damp, green smell of the forest filled his senses. He stretched out running easy, massive calf and thigh muscles bunched and writhed like living things. I wish I could run until the Earth falls away he thought with an easy smile. The wicked tines of his antlers gleam in the misty light. The baying of the hounds grew louder. Bugles hallooed and rang in eerie, fading echoes; The Faire Folk, jewelled light streaming through the forest.
Bursting through the trees the antlered man came to a sudden halt in a round meadow-like glade. He stood drenched in moonlight breathing lightly, his naked body white as snow in the misted glow. His antlers caught and held the strange light in rivulets and runs that sparked and glimmered like a stream of stars. He breathed deep of the rich, earth-damp air. “I cannot bear the sorrow in this burning land,” he keened softly, his brilliant blue eyes deepened to indigo, a trace of blue shimmered in their depths; distant voices sang in the sky. “Let them come,” the haunt in his voice whispered, “The people are gone The song is fading. Let it end.”
The antlered man turned to face the snarling hounds racing towards him. A look of pure, savage joy flared in his eyes as he stood like a rock, massive muscles gorged with blood. The final battle he thought. Distant voices sang in the sky. The Faire Folk ringed the glade drawing their blades in eager anticipation. Feral hunger in their eyes for the feast of flesh so long denied.
They will drink his blood and eat his flesh and they will diminish. What they failed to realise, what they obdurately refused to comprehend in all the thousands of years they celebrated the Wild Hunt was that when he died the reason for their existence died with him, and in a land devoid of his presence; in this empty burning land even streaming rainbows fade to nothing.