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Part 20: The Beast of the Forest
It's time... Leo's rescue party are hitting the road...
Welcome back! The Beast of the Forest continues as the townsfolk set off to rescue Leo.
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The couple dozen volunteers for the rescue mission stayed behind after the town hall meeting to discuss their plan. Jimmy filled everyone in on everything he knew: how far away Leo was, how many bandits there were, what weapons they had, and, most importantly, just how many beasts he had seen and what exactly they looked like.
It was decided that they would all meet up the next morning in the town square and then set off…
Jimmy had porridge for breakfast with his mum and dad and then they made their way to the town square. Everyone from last night quickly gathered together. People were prepared. They were layered up in warm clothes for the cold nights of the forest and they were carrying water skins and bags of food.
Once everyone was there, Jimmy led the way out of the town square. Up front, he walked with his parents and Cal and Frank. He felt like a knight going to battle.
Jimmy’s little army crossed through a field of wheat, marching towards the trees.
They entered the forest and then were in the shadow of the trees.
Jimmy was back in the land of bandits and beasts.
Deep in the forest, Leo and the bandits were all in position in trees, still split into pairs, around the trap at the centre of the opening. It had been days since Jimmy escaped.
Leo and Henry sat quietly, almost peacefully, in their tree. Leo was sat on a sturdy branch, lying back comfortably against the trunk of the tree.
It was a warm, tranquil day in the forest. Glimpses of sunlight slipped through the leaves and landed warmly and soothingly on Leo’s skin. There was the occasional sound of birds nearby that would come and go and of a breeze passing by as if on its way to an appointment.
Leo watched a lone caterpillar crawling along a branch beside him, shuffling its tubular green body one wriggle at a time. He laid down his pointer finger on the branch just in front of the caterpillar. The caterpillar then climbed up on his finger and Leo carefully lifted his finger into the air. He moved his hand slowly, as if not wanting to scare the caterpillar. He reached for an off-shooting little branch with a cluster of leaves and made a bridge with his finger to one of the leaves for the caterpillar to cross.
Henry watched on as the caterpillar wriggled along Leo’s finger and crawled onto the leaf.
This was a man with a kind heart, Henry thought to himself. Despite his fearsome size, Leo was as gentle as that caterpillar.
“I’m going to get some water,” said Henry suddenly.
“I’ll help,” said Leo.
“No, it’s ok,” said Henry. “Give me your water skin. You stay here.”
Henry took Leo’s water skin and climbed down carefully from the tree. He looked up towards the tree with Arthur and the silver-haired bandit. Making eye contact with Arthur, Henry then held up a water skin and shook it. Arthur nodded and threw down two empty water skins. Henry turned to the tree with the twin bandits in it and collected their water skins too.
Carrying all of the skins, Henry made his way through the forest towards the creek. He tried his best to keep cool and collected, like he was just out on a little stroll through the woods, and so he kept his stride casual. Part of it was pride, even though there was no one watching. He wanted to pretend he wasn’t scared.
Henry made it to the water and knelt down to fill up the water skins. He was on high alert, looking around constantly, scanning for movement. He figured if he was going to stumble across the beasts anywhere, it was going to be by the water.
Once he filled all of the water skins, he gathered them up and quickly got to his feet. He hurried to the edge of the trees and took one last look around the opening of the creek. Seeing nothing, he went back into the forest.
He paced between the trees with the water skins. Again, trying to keep composed. He was then suddenly arrested by the brittle snap of a twig just a little bit ahead of him.
Henry ducked behind the cover of the nearest tree and hid. Ahead of him in the forest was the sound of more rustling, of more movement. Someone or something was there, just nearby, just out of sight.
Henry took a moment to steady himself and to think of a plan. He gathered up his courage and then he took a look around the trunk of the tree. The forest was clear. The action was happening a little bit further along.
He made his way towards the noise, from one tree to the next. Getting closer, hiding behind a tree for cover, he found the source. It was one of the young beasts.
The beast had their nose down to the ground and they were sniffing at Henry’s tracks. Henry hid behind a tree. The other beasts could be anywhere. It was time to get out of there.
Henry made a big arching route around the beast and back to the bandits’ trap.
He went to the base of the tree Arthur was in and threw Arthur’s water skin back up to him.
“The beasts are close,” he told Arthur.
“Get back up there and get ready,” said Arthur.
Henry handed out the other water skins and returned to his tree.
Climbing the tree, Leo helped to lift Henry back up.
Leo could tell something was wrong.
“Brace yourself,” Henry told him.
Thanks for reading!
Have a wonderful rest of the week!