He just wanted to have tea with a lovely stranger who WASN'T trying to kill him for once. But instead, he got dragged into a rescue mission by a weak, starry eyed boy and his stinking mutt. Brilliant.
He stalked through the dense wood, completely aware of the stranger following him. Once you are alone for so long, you tend to notice when you had company. There is a certain tension in the air that used to be missing. The noises of the forest become softer and the wind becomes colder. He hadn’t had a guest this obvious in years. The villagers must be getting lazy.
The stranger’s footsteps seemed to crunch on every twig and fallen leaf. If he tried to muffle his voice as he insanely yammered to himself, he didn’t seem to show it. Nevertheless, he had waited to scare away his company. Something about him wasn’t that of his normal pursuers. His tread was one of a boy, not a full grown man. He didn’t try to disguise himself either. He never heard the sound of a gun being loaded or a knife slashing through the air.
Perhaps it was time to pay the stranger a visit.
Suddenly, he stopped and climbed his way through a thick tree. He stopped about half way up, peering through the eye holes of his mask. There.
The boy was a mess. His loose cotton pants used to be grey, but had turned brown and green from the dirt, mud, and grass. His shirt was ripped as if he had gotten into a fight with a bear.… His long brown hair was knotted and dirty, with leaves sticking out of it. He was tall, and no more than 16. What a strange choice they had made to make THIS thing his slayer. He was carrying a huge backpack stuffed with pots and pans and had dirty, bloody bare feet, which was enough to make the masked man curious, but there was something else about him… Ah.
The animal. A wolf behaving as a wolf shouldn’t. It seemed tame around the boy… as if it was this pet… No… his guide. The boy would grab the wolf by the fur on its neck and it would lead him. Strange. The boy was harmless. There was no way the village would send a boy, weak and skinny, unless they knew that the masked man would kill him. Maybe he was too weak to pull his weight around the village, so they hoped that I would get rid of him for them. "Well," he smirked behind his still mask, "he would not give them the satisfaction."
But, before he could make his move from the tree, the boy began muttering again in that same, low voice. “We’ve lost it again Hera. I heard it stop but… I can still feel it’s presence.”
“It?”, the masked man mused. “Has it been so long that I left the village they don’t even remember that I am a man?” He smirked. “How quaint.”
“This was hopeless… If it wanted to help me, it would have revealed itself by now. Mom will be worried, it has been two days. I suppose if I am to rescue my brother, I shall have to do it without the forest spirit’s help.”
“Forest sprit? Is that what they are calling me these days?” The words were already out of his mouth before he could stop them. As soon as they were uttered, the boy turned quickly, to face the tree the man was sitting in.
The boy grinned. “YOU! I FOUND YOU! AFTER DAYS OF SEARCHING YOU HAVE FINALLY REVEALED YOURSELF TO ME!” Both the boy and his dog kneeled.
“Get off of the ground! I am no spirit, but a man just like yourself. I have noticed you following me and have decided to help you. Most men follow me to hunt me down and kill me. It is… refreshing to have a friendly visitor. Tea?” The man jumped down from the tree right in front of the boy. He reached into a woven bag and pulled out two cups, a mat, and a tea pot somehow already filled with steaming green tea.
The boy was amazed. The man standing before him was nothing like the legends his mom had told him. The creature in the legends was ten feet tall and dark as a shadow. It had sharp teeth and visious claws and a deep, growling voice. Only the face the legends had gotten right. The man was wearing a red mask with an ugly smile and big, ferocious eyes. It looked traditional, but was from no country the boy had ever heard of. The man was tall and pale as the moonlight. He wore his long silver hair loose and it flowed around him as the wind blew. He wore a wide brimmed straw hat that shielded the sun. His loose clothes were unstained but his feet were bare just like his own. With him, he only carried a woven bag and a wooden staff.
The boy was too busy staring at him to comprehend the man’s words. “Didn’t you hear me? Would you like some tea?” The man repeated, sounding irritated.
“Oh! Yes please… sorry sir. It’s just that you are so different than what the legends say!”