Milk of the Gods
The boy trod carefully; fully aware of the value of the object he carried beneath his shirt. His eyes darted from side to side looking for the slightest movement. In the trees to the right, a wolf howled, a few seconds later it was answered by a chorus from the snow-topped hills in front of him. Tom shivered and pulled his cloak tightly around him. His right hand clutched the hilt of his sword. Danger was in the air, he could almost smell it. He stumbled over an old tree root but managed to steady himself before he crashed down onto the icy floor.
‘Careful, Tom,’ he whispered.
The moon crept out from behind the broken cloud and lit up the path in front of him. Fine flakes of snow danced on the icy breeze. Tom took his bearings from the North Star and moved on.
He was tired now, but determined to complete his quest. This was the most important task Marith had ever bestowed on him. Failure was out of the question. The Crystal Orb of Terion had to be placed in the hands of Kyris, the half-elf, before midnight. The future of the realm depended on it.
At the crossroads Tom took the left-hand path and crossed the stone bridge over a frozen stream. Marith had warned him of the dangers of taking this route, but he knew it could shave precious minutes from his journey. Time was of the essence. The half-elf would not wait, it was too dangerous.
Tom stopped suddenly and reached for his sword. There it was again, the faint sound of loose stones moving underfoot. He looked back towards the forest, nothing...then, a flash of silver glinted in the trees. Tom looked ahead; the twinkle of lights told him that he was no more than half a mile from the town. The noises behind him grew louder. Tom took a deep breath and hurled himself onto the road. Behind, he heard the calls of his pursuers, he had been seen.
Tom ran along the rough flint-strewn track. He was fast, but he knew the feral creatures that pursued him were faster. As he reached the outskirts of the town he could hear the panting of his enemies behind him. Tom thought about turning back to surprise them, but he knew it would be madness. He would be dead as soon as their blood-red eyes met his.
‘Don’t look into their eyes,’ Marith had warned. ‘Death will be swift.’
Tom summoned up every last ounce of strength and sprinted across the cobbled town square towards the Dragon inn, and safety. He could feel the hot breath of the Fraen on the back of his neck as he ran. He threw the door open and collapsed on the floor as Kyris cast a spell to ward off his pursuers.
‘You only just made it,’ said John the grocer. ‘I was just about to lock up, it’s a minute past six. Good job I saw you running up the street.’
Tom placed his basket on the counter, breathed deeply and passed the grocer a ten pound note.
‘Mum says can she have two pints of milk, a brown loaf, a packet of pasta and a tin of tuna flakes, please?’
The shopkeeper packed the items into Tom’s basket and handed him change.
‘Right, I’ll lock up now. Goodnight, Tom, tell your mum I said hello.’
As the door was locked behind him, Tom looked up and down the street to make sure the coast was clear. The Sheriff would have heard by now that Tom the Kid was back in town. He pulled his hat over his eyes to shield them from the midday sun and walked over towards the saloon...
Trevor Belshaw is the author of Tracy’s Hot Mail and Designer Shorts. He also writes for children under the name Trevor Forest. His books include Magic Molly, Peggy Larkin’s War, Abigail Pink’s Angel and Faylinn Frost and the Snow Fairies.
Trevor’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies including 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, 100 Stories for Queensland, Deck the Halls, Another Haircut and Stories for Advent. He is also published by Ether Books on their iPhone app and is a regular contributor to The Pages Magazine. Trevor’s articles have appeared in The Best of British, Ireland’s Own and First Edition.
Website http://www.trevorforest.comTwitter @tbelshaw