Nothing this exciting had ever happened to Bomo before. Not that he had much to compare it with. Life in the village inclined towards the dull and unpleasant.
He hurried back, taking a short-cut through the copse. A splashing sound caught his attention, accompanied by a screech of terminal agony.
"Wow!" Bomo thought. "Things have already started to happen! I'd better go and help. It's just possible I can beat the assailants by flailing about with a stick, or tripping up and accidentally knocking them out when I happen to dislodge a large stone."
But the scene he discovered was a tranquil one. Gim, sitting on the bank of the duck pond, singing to herself as she wound up her mane of rippling chestnut locks. The sunlight played on her hair, and on the smattering of cute freckles that decorated her nose.
"Gim!" Bomo shouted. She jumped in fright, almost falling into the water.
"Bomo! You nearly surprised me while bathing!"
"Did I? I'll make a note to get here sooner next time," Bomo said. This earned him a scowl and a painful punch in the ribs.
"Ooof," Bomo gasped. Gim was a very punchy person. "You'll never guess what's happened!" he said. "A mysterious man named Stalker has arrived to take me on a journey of self-discovery, during which I'll mature into a rounded character, improve my swordsmanship and learn the truth about my heritage!"
"Really?" Gim said. "I can't leave you alone for a minute! I'm deeply suspicious of this fellow, even though I've never met him. I'd better come with you, and snipe and glower at him over the fire at night until I'm forced to acknowledge his good intentions when he saves our lives in a secret tunnel under the mountains."
"I knew you'd come," Bomo beamed.
Just then a thunderous crashing shattered the pastoral peace. Bomo and Gim heard strange hooting cries and screeches coming from the direction of the village green.
"Quick!" Gim said. "I'm about to find out I'm an amazing shot with a bow!"
They hurtled through the trees together, running into a thick choking mist that seemed to have risen up out of the ground at their feet. They couldn't see anything, only hear the wails and terrifyied screams of the villagers.
"Mother!" Gim shouted. "Father!"
Bomo tripped and fell into Gim, knocking her down. Something swished through the fog just where their heads had been a split-second earlier. They clutched each other in desperation. Or at least Bomo did. Gim slapped his hand.
"Get off! Not there!" she hissed
The thing hovered over where they lay, invisible in the fog, sniffing and snuffling, hunting...