By the early morning hours, the hunter awoke. He wanted to explore the lands around him and find any evidence of such creature he heard about the night before. He left his hunting gear in the room and demanded that no one should go into his room even to clean it or stoke the fires. He trusted no one. After a hearty breakfast he sets out to the place where the crocotta was last seen. He searched the ground for any tracks and checked the branches and bushes for any fur that might have snagged, but he found no evidence the crocotta was there. He didn’t give up that easily. The bucolic life in the fields was long and hard. It wasn’t strange to see them spend their free time at a tavern where they told their stories but they never told fables. They spoke the truth, regardless how rich and fantastical their tales were.
That night he decided to hunt the creature down. He took his bow and arrows, sword, daggers and all his knives since he didn’t know what to expect from this animal and as dangerous as the town folks spoke about him he wasn’t going to take chances. He ate a light dinner and set out to one of the fields it was reported to be seen. He looked for a tree that wasn’t too close but not too far away. When he found one, he climbed it and stayed there without moving or rustling a branch. One sound and any creature would know he was there.
The night was cool and a slight breeze blew from the east. He wasn’t pleased about the breeze because he felt it was disadvantages to his hunt. The wind could blow the sent to the creature and it would be all over. He just hoped the animal came from the west of him that way his sent would be blown the other direction, fooling the animal even if it was for a moment. The hours passed and nothing occurred. He didn’t mind waiting. He once waited three days on a tree trying to hunt a prized hunt like the ones he wore on his feet. His proudest treasure was the fur he wore as a cloak. That creature had been a malicious bear and even left him with a scar across his face. The bear had put up a long fight and the hunter decided to give him the highest honor any hunter could do and wore it to display his strength. That bear was the last of its kind, a rare beast from the glacier era. Many thought it had become extinct but he knew it was out there. He hunted it for almost a year and his tenacity was rewarded. He almost thought it a pity to kill it. Almost.
The full moon was at least where he wanted it, in plain sight of the field. The sheep stood away from the fence but they must have sensed something because they began to runaway. The sheepherder heard them crying and came to take a look. The hunter had to be careful to not move when he saw the huge creature coming up to the fence. He couldn’t believe his eyes. What animal was this? The creature stood outside the fence while the sheepherder stared at it not even pointing his musket at him.
“Shoot it,” whispered the hunter under his breath. “Go on, kill it. What are you waitin for?” The sheepherder stood their without moving, staring at the creature. “What the bloody hell,” the hunter mumbled. “That poor bastard is goin to get himself killed.” The hunter wondered if he should take a shot but he didn’t. He sensed something was wrong and didn’t want to move in case he drew attention to himself. The minutes passed as creature and sheepherder stood there, staring at one another. The creature couldn’t have been afraid. He could have easily torn that fence to pieces. The sheepherder probably would have missed. They were never great shooters.
When the standoff ended, the creature walked away, unharmed and without killing the sheep or the man. Creatures that fierce don’t just walk away without killing something. Something was amiss indeed. When the man finally came to his senses, he yelled and ran back to his home.
“Poor bastard,” the hunter said. “He never would have the chance.” The hunter waited a few minutes before climbing back down. He had lost track of the creature and didn’t want to be the second option for its meal. Once he felt safe he got down and ran back to the Swan Inn. There was something he needed to know.
to be continued