Below The Hatch In The Glade

            The shadows of night embraced the forest. Every towering tree left an even taller shadow. And every gust of wind shook the leaves and their shadows with an eerie chill.

            I clung to a branch, upside-down. Breathing calmly, I watched them roam the forest floor. They had come to my island in search of riches. Petty mortals. Always causing trouble.

            She, the ambitious one, led them through the moss. My tracks were visible, where I had trampled through the woods. She did not need a good eye to see them. They followed me, they followed my tracks. The path I had made for them. Luring them to their doom.

            It was not the first time. There had been many before them. The shipwrecks off the coast. The flying contraption stuck in the tree above me. All from pesky explorers. Mortals that refused to respect our privacy.

            The woman led the other two along my tracks. Then she sniffed the air, the other two pausing behind her. She frowned, whispering, "Urine."

            The man behind her disturbed the forest with his loud voice, "That thing ain't human, Nancy!" He clutched a longsword and a torch in one hand.

            Fire. I disdain mortals that have the audacity to bring fire into my forest. The forest hates it too. As much as it loves the smoke, it just does not want to burn. And the trees, I love them too.

            "Well, that old map was right about something. But the trail ends here, where it peed."

            "Hold up," said the second woman, the final member of their party. She looked down at the mossy forest floor, and made out the outline of a trap door. They opened the hatch, as I intended.

            The man held the torch over it, and the stone-carved stairwell that led into the depths of the island was visible to them. Just as I had planned. I almost laughed. But then they would have looked up and seen me. My camouflage is not at its best right now.

            The man grinned with bravery, "Shall we?"

            The one known as Nancy began to walk down the steps, drawing a thin rapier from a sheath. And the other, the younger woman in the brown robes, she held a crucifix and a scepter.

            I knew we were in for some fun. A magician, a swordsman and a fencer. Backpackers. Travellers. And maybe more on the boat. Hopefully they were more talented than the drunken pirates we had just nine passes of the moons ago. And, really, it was kind of them to leave the hatch open for me. I might as well watch my brother have his way with them.

The End

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