Once Upon a Winter: Part One

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For the holidays, I’m bringing you a winter serial of darkness and things owed…

 

Once Upon a Winter

 

In the silence between midnight and the moon, the wind suddenly rustled against the treetops and the glossy crust of snow crackled in the forest. A hiss, a breath, ears perked to catch the iron clang of church bells but the night only brought the natural quiet and the drifting air scented in pine and frost.

A smile then, as the creature walked, his footsteps leaving impressions in winter’s frozen blanket covering the forest floor. The humans were asleep in their warm beds far away from the woodland. No axes chopping trees, no songs, no laughter, no hurtful bells or prayers.

The creature moved along the shadows, swift and fleet of foot, winding through the trees headed into the darkness.

He strode the trails until he left the forest and headed in a northern direction. He smelled the human scent on the wind, saw the broken crust worn by their boots and followed where it led. He stopped when he saw the dim shape of houses in the moonlight and a road leading to its heart. The creature paused, studying the village.

He remembered the words said to him by the elders before he departed. “They have grown complacent and careless, these humans. Neglect the tribute they owe us, trespass wherever they choose and disrespect us. The humans had forgotten our agreement and now they need a reminder.”

The creature took a breath. It was time…

 

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