What happens next is not what I would call ideal. Somehow, even though I was sure there was nothing underfoot, the air is filled with an almighty crack. The hog went mad. I had never known how terrifying the sound of a dangerous, angry animal was. I was momentarily frozen with fear before doing the only thing I knew how to do. I tried to escape. War Dance had taught me to jump higher than most people and by some feat of luck I managed to rest my hands on the hogs head just as it was lowering it to charge me, then without a moment’s hesitation I leapt with all the strength I had, spreading my legs to the side as I went, landing somehow behind one very confused animal. My feet hit the ground and I didn’t look back, I was running. I managed to clumsily throw my bow over my shoulder as I ran, knowing that I wouldn’t have much time to get away before the hog got to me. I had to find a tree, surely hogs couldn’t climb. I might be safe if I managed to get high enough. None of
the trees looked like they would be a breeze to climb but I had to try. Taking another leap of faith I threw myself up towards the nearest branch, catching it but only just. I had nearly no strength left to haul myself up but it was that or die. I swung my legs upwards, catching them round the same branch I was clinging to with my arms. It would be enough; I was safe for enough time to figure out what I was going to do about the thing below.
It’s getting towards the setting of the first sun and the hog is still below me, occasionally bashing its head against the trunk of my tree and grunting. I’ve never really gotten a close look at one before now. They’re not attractive beasts. Its head is large and square; if I remember my lessons correctly it’s nearly impossible to kill a hog by shooting it in the head. They don’t have a brain like a person does, it relies only one instinct and not conscious thought. At least that’s what we have figured out. It doesn’t seem to have teeth, only those very large very sharp horns coming from the edge of its flat nose. They are strong enough to support the weight of three men and can be long enough to hold an entire barrel of ale once they are hollowed out. These are not beasts to be trifled with. It has dirty brown, incredibly coarse
hair all over its body, though strangely enough there is none on its head. The elders in our village talk of rare long haired hogs which were farmed years ago in order to spin thread from their coats. I cannot imagine wanting to farm such a horrible beast, especially not one that can so easily kill you. I cannot see the beast’s legs from my sitting place but I have seen feet in the hunting master’s classroom, they are hard like rock with razor sharp edges. Some people in the village chose to use them as knife edges, though the rest of us stick with forged metal.
It does not look like I will be free to leave this tree before the setting of the second sun so I decide to make this strangely purple leaved tree my home for the night. Orange leaves always seem so bright and welcoming; this tree is dark with an eerie air to it. Still, it’s better than being on the ground with the pig and it doesn’t appear to be poisonous so I climb slightly higher and make ready my night’s lashings. I can still hear the great monster beneath me, crashing again and again into the tree, shaking its branches. It will not be easy to sleep here. There’s a possibility that I
could swing into the next tree and nest there but I don’t have the energy after a day of running and climbing, so I will endure the crashing and shaking. If I close my eyes it sounds a little like home. Home. I have not thought about it all that much since leaving, and it is strange that it should come to mind now. I have not missed it as much as I thought I would, in fact I have hardly missed it at all. I am better off here, in this tree, being assaulted by an angry hog, than I ever was there.