Erich closed the book and pushed it inside his duffle bag as he thought of the story. Hamtuck was in love with Bonnie. There is no way her father could have refused the marriage! Erich laughed silently to himself.
He had just zipped the duffel bag closed when he felt something hit him in his arm. Grabbing it in pain, Erich looked down at the arm and saw blood dripping from a small gash.
Then a sudden gust of the wind that seemed to blow in from nowhere surprised him. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a piece of bloodstain driftwood.
Erich stood and put his sword and blanket into the duffle bags, as lightning flashed and thunder roared off in the distance. “Where did this wind come from?” he asked himself nervously. The wind growled like an angry wolf and grew in intensity as it tossed Erich around, causing him to fall.
Erich looked up at the sky and noticed how the clouds had moved over the sun and a strange fog now steadily moved toward the ground in a slow, swirling motion. With each passing moment, the sky grew darker, only adding to the feeling of the foreboding growing deep inside of Erich.
Deciding that it was best to head back to his truck, Erich grabbed his duffle bags and ran, as more thunder crashed and lightning flashed off in the distance.
As Erich reached the ‘tree bridge’ all became still, including the wind. The frogs, birds, and the other wildlife creatures took shelter, causing a deafening silence to consume the woods.
The calm before the storm, Erich frowned. He had checked the weather before he had come. There was no report about a coming storm, or I wouldn’t have come out here today. Erich searched his memory as he walked swiftly to the edge of the old tree.
Erich moved his eyes upward toward the sky and found the strange mist once more. He followed its path with a sense of dread.
As his eyes adjusted, Erich noticed a thick layer of the mist had found a path to Earth. This portion of mist had hints of purples and reds intertwined with the blues and greens.
It now settled on the Earth floor and slowly moved toward him. The height of the mist reached beyond the tallest trees and streaks of it hovered through the darkening sky. He had the desire to run, but something bade him stay and watch.
It is quite beautiful, he thought as he gave into his curiosity and watched the mist with growing interest.
At eye level, Erich watched the mist steadily advance toward him. It seemed to spin slightly. Upon closer inspection, Erich decided a whirlwind, which surrounded the mist gave it the power to move.
Enthralled by the beautiful mist, he looked through it and saw two large rings suspended inside of it. The horizontal ring on the right side of the whirlwind was larger than the smaller horizontal one on the left. The larger ring on the right spun to the left while the smaller ring on the left side spun to the right. It was the most beautiful and enchanting force of nature that Erich had ever seen, and he had an overpowering urge to reach his hand out and touch it.
The mist widened its path, and the whirlwind whistled as if it were playing a tune. Brilliant, bold, and beautiful flashing red and orange colors appeared from the center of the larger ring on the right. Erich gasped as he witnessed the mist swallow up several deer and small rabbits, pulling them inside where they spun uncontrollably between the rings. Erich’s heart raced as he took two steps back when the mist floated nearer. He knew the smart thing would be to run away, but his curiosity would not allow him to leave.
If he was going to be an explorer, he knew the main requirement was bravery. For this reason, Erich continued his slow dance with the mist, entranced by its power. He had not noticed just how far away he had actually gotten from his ‘tree-bridge’ until he saw the mist surround the large tree and began to swallow up the side closest to him. Erich gasped as he saw the other side of it shake then break free of the land on the opposite side of the bank. Slowly, it hovered in the air as the front portion of it moved into the mist! Oh, no! Erich thought. That was my way across the creek; I may be in trouble. He decided it would be best to stop being a spectator and begin to look for a way out of his now dangerous situation. He glanced over at the large tree as its tail end disappeared into the mist.
Shortly after the animals and the large tree disappeared inside the ring, the flashing colors dissipated and the ring slowly shrank into a mere dot that floated around inside of the mist. Then out of the center of the mist came a screech that sent chills down Erich’s spine as he wondered, Are the animals tormented as they die? However, Erich could not believe what he saw next.
A deep bluish-purple color appeared in the center of the remaining horizontal ring as it began to open. Two feet appeared, followed by the mid-portion of a human body.
Finally, the center of the ring pushed out the entire body of a young woman who appeared to be unconscious. Her body spun slowly inside the mist, but her hand clutched a long sword with a death grip.
Erich gasped as he watched the terrible scene. He knew he had to get her out of there, or she might die. He scrambled to his feet, as fear consumed him.
Throwing the duffel bags to the ground, Erich unzipped one and pulled out the rope he had inside the bag. He unraveled the rope and tied one end around his waist. Next, he tied the other end around a tree. Taking a deep breath, Erich ran toward the mist and pushed his arm through it.
As the girl spun, Erich grasped her arm and pulled her toward him. He felt as though his arm was going to rip from his body, as his own body pulled toward the mist. Nevertheless, he thrust his other arm inside it and grasped her other arm, which held the sword. Erich then wrapped his arms around her, locking his hands around her waist and pulled her body closer.
Erich dug his feet deeper into the ground just outside of the mist while he thrust his upper body inside it. With the remainder of his strength, he succeeded to pull her from the mist. Once they escaped, Erich fell to the ground with the girl landing on top of him. He immediately jumped to his feet and dragged the girl away, both narrowly escaping the mist.
A blood-chilling screech bellowed from deep inside the mist. Erich pulled the girl into his arms and ran to a thick bush, some distance away, and hid with her still in his arms.
Erich peered through the bushes and watched as the second ring deposited three hideous creatures resembling depictions of trolls in books he had read, onto Earth’s floor. Once they exited the mist, the ring closed, and then decreased in size, as the other before it.
Two of the creatures appeared to stand seven feet tall and were thick with bulging muscles. They were completely naked and red in color. Their long pointy fingers held sharp, jagged nails at the ends, and their teeth resembled fangs. The canine teeth protruded from their mouth, with thick white saliva dripping from the corners as they breathed.
Erich also noticed they had florescent yellow eyes with stilted black centers. Two of the creatures had smoky gray hair that fell down around their necks, ending at their lower back. Erich assumed those were males, as they were slightly larger with muscular bodies. The third beast had white-blond hair that flowed down its back and displayed attributes similar to that of a human female. She too was muscled, but not quite as her male counterparts. As the three creatures stood huddled together, large wings, connected to their backs, near the lower shoulder blade, flapped rapidly. Oddly, the beasts seemed familiar to him in some way. How strange, he thought as he looked at them.
It was then Erich spotted the duffle bags he had dropped, lying near a tree behind the female beast. He hoped that they were far enough away as to go unnoticed. Fear gripped him, unlike anything; he had ever felt before. As he watched from his hiding place, he held his breath and hoped the girl would not awaken at this moment.
The mist began to slow its pace, finally disappearing altogether. Once everything had settled, Erich silently surveyed the area, amazed by the devastation.
The creatures began what Erich construed as a conversation between them. Erich sat in stunned silence, as the three hellish beasts began to speak among themselves. One of the males, who appeared to be the leader instructed the other male to go to the left of where they stood while the female was to go to the right. Once they were both gone, the lone beast turned and walked toward the bush, concealing Erich and the unconscious girl.
Erich held his breath as he firmly grasped his sword and waited for the creature to pass by. He had a hunch that these beasts were searching for the unconscious girl lying in his arms.
What am I going to do with you? Erich thought as the girl stirred in his arms. He held her tight in his arms, praying that she would not move again and draw attention. The beast paused and lifted his nose into the air, sniffing the breeze. His eyes narrowed as he reached his hand toward the debris.
The girl moaned, and Erich gently placed his free hand over her mouth as he firmly grasped his sword with the other, preparing for battle when he heard the creature’s hand moving through the bush.
An ear-piercing howl sounded off in the distance, causing the creature to pull back his hand and run in the direction of the howl.
Erich exhaled, as he watched the creature move away from him and then he sat in silence for several moments, trying to calm his now frazzled nerves. Looking around to assure that the beast was gone, he noticed the sun was about to set. He decided it was best to get himself and the girl to safety as he had no desire to cross paths with the beasts in complete darkness.
The girl stirred again, and Erich decided to try to get to his truck, so he carefully climbed from the bush and gently placed her down on the ground.
He dug through his pockets for his cell phone. “Damn, where is my cell phone?” He searched through all of his pockets once more, but still could not find it.
“Damn, I must have dropped it when I pulled her from that strange fog,” he groaned.
Knowing that he would not be able to carry the girl and his bags, Erich slowly and methodically went through everything he had as to decide what to take with him.
He took out two jackets and carefully put one on the girl and the other on him. Next, he pulled Legends from the duffle bag and placed it into the zip up inside pocket of his jacket. The next items he chose were a small pocketknife, which he put in his front pocket and a flashlight. He donned a sheath and slid the girl’s sword into it, but held onto his own sword. He put a bow around his neck and placed his arrows in their quiver, with its leather strap draped around his shoulder.
Erich wished he had not lost his cell phone, as it would have come in handy just about now, but he knew it was useless to dwell on it so he forced it from his mind. Once he had everything that he needed, he hid the bags under the bush, so that he could retrieve them later. Pulling the girl into his arms, Erich turned toward the direction of his truck as thunder roared, followed by streaks of lightning.
“Great, just what I need; another storm,” Erich grumbled as he trekked toward his truck.