“There is no use te going hunting during this weather,” said a familiar voice. Walter took a quick glance to see George Sullivan sitting with his brother, Thomas, and two other well-known hunters. They seem to be in deep conversation about something, oblivious of everybody else.
“Aye, besides that an’ the peculiar things that will ensue,” said Thomas Sullivan.
“Animals don’t want to be found this time of the year,” said George.
“Oi agree,” said one of their companions. “Even they seem to act strange. Oi haven’t seen a deer since the heavy rains started.”
“They stay away,” said George. “Oi don’t blame ‘em. Oi’d stay away meself. Not a good time to go hunting.”
“We have been lucky fer the last two years with no occurrences happening,” said the fourth man.
“Luck, has nothing to do with it,” George said. “Something has caused the occurrences to ceases during that time. The animals know something. This time it’s different.”
“All these outsiders, meddling ‘round the woods has caused ‘em to flee earlier,” said the third man.
“Perhaps,” said George. “Oi don’t like the silence. With all the animals gone we can’t hunt. It’s our sustenance.”
“These outsiders don’t help the matter,” Thomas growled.
“Aye, the Mayor allows this because it brings notoriety te Asbjorn.”
“The problem wuz with that light,” George said.
“Oi thought they were just folktale,” said the third man.
“That wuz no folktale,” said the fourth. “Indeed, there lived a maleficent family. The old timers would never talk ‘bout it but me family would whisper things. As a boy they told me to never go to that place. One day, as Oi went hunting in the early hours. The sun had risen but it hid behind the mountains, casting an umbra in that part of the morning. Oi had been chasing a stag an’ somehow Oi had gotten lost. Oi have never been in those part of the woods before. Oi didn’t think anything of it an’ kept pursuing the stag when Oi stumbled upon the castles remains. Oi looked ‘round for a minute an’ realize Oi couldn’t listen to a sound ‘round me. Oi heard no crickets, no birds chirping, not even the rustles of the leaves. Nothing moved, not even the wind. Oi started getting chills all over. Oi knew it wasn’t normal. For a moment, Oi thought me eyes were playing games on me but Oi could see a silhouette of strange beings approaching. To me horror, they started encircling me, engulfing me completely with their darkness. Oi could barely breathe. Oi didn’t know what to do. Oi couldn’t escape ‘em. Oi threw arrows at ‘em, fought me way out, but couldn’t.” He takes a drink from his ale.
All three men stare in disbelief. “How did ye escape?” said Thomas.
“That’s the part Oi couldn’t understand meself,” he said. “All Oi do know is when the sun finally came up the shadows disappeared. Oi got out of there as soon as Oi could an’ never looked back.”
“Oi wouldn’t be surprised,” George said. “Our father has warned us ‘bout hunting there. Told us to never go there during dusk or when it gets dark.”
“He always made us mind our surroundings,” Thomas added. “But it happens when we stumble upon something dangerous during our chase. Oi can agree we have seen things ourselves.”
“Aye, people murmur, but they are afraid te speak up,” said the third man.
“They are afraid te speak up because they are afraid te believe it is true,” said George.
“Oi wouldn’t have admitted it meself, but Oi dread this time of year,” said the fourth man.
“Oi agree,” said George. “Especially te what happened te that schoolmaster, Mr. Crabbs’.”
They didn’t seem too happy with the situation, but then again, Walter has never seen the brothers smile or in good spirits. Most hunters were austere and took their craft seriously. Now, as Walter started to glance about the room he realized that every hunter had the same expression as the brothers. They looked rather solemn and as of lately they haven’t been hunting. They were taciturn as if something occupied their minds.