575 – Bait

“What are you looking at?” Asked the wise owl, landing on a low branch besides the old fox.

“That.” He answered without turning to see her, and quickly added in the same hushed whisper: “Keep your voice down and don’t make any sudden moves.”

The owl turned, following the fox’s fixed stare, and was surprised to see an old man sitting on a tree stump right in front of one of the magic circles.

“That’s weird. How did he get this deep within the forest? Your tricks usually have them totally lost and heading back home after a few steps.”

“Yes, that’s what normally happens, but he’s… um… different.”

“Different… how?”

“I’m not sure yet, but I think we’re about to find out.”

She was ready to ask what he meant when the old man suddenly looked straight at them, as if he could see them clearly behind the thick bushes.

The air around started to get thicker, her wings felt oily and heavy, her mind was beginning to get dull and drift into sleep.

The fox jumped out of the bushes and, in a quick dash, came just within reach of the old man’s hands.

The old man took a step forward, and another, trying to grasp the red and silver streak that kept slipping thru his fingers until one of his feet stepped within the magic circle. It instantly stopped moving and let out a sharp cry, crumpling and folding into a crack of nothingness.

“It’s ok, it’s gone now.” Said the fox as he carefully put the twigs, pebbles and branches that had shifted from the circle back in their proper places.

“Dude… what just happened?”

“Weeeeeeel, it’s one slight problem that can crop up every now and then when you’re guarding a forest with magic.” He finally said. His voice and eyes playful as ever.

“And that is…?” Answered the wise owl, with just a hint of worry in her voice.

“It can attract some inconvenient attention.” Said the fox, chuckling. “But now they know this forest stings hard when you try to mess with it.”

“But who was he?”

“Not who… more like what.”

“I’m really not in the mood for silly riddles.”

“It was just something to pique my curiosity and make me show myself,”

“And you ran right towards it?”

“Of course. Sometimes in order to hunt a hunter you need to take his bait. Care for some tea and biscuits?”

“You silly old fox.” She said, smiling.

• • •

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