Frogloks - Hunted
"A smaller group is more likely to reach landfall than a large group," said the Kor shaman. "The Hand of Marr will guide us, my beloved."
Kraofla pulled her cloak more closely to her throat. "Mithaniel Marr will surely guide us; but what guides them? What drives the hunters to continue the pursuit?"
"I do not know," her life-mate responded sadly. "They have tracked us through swamp and forest and river. We have but to make our way to the landing."
They peered cautiously through the thick undergrowth, straining their ears for any unwelcome sound. For several days now they had travelled slowly by night and now they hid near the dock, waiting for the first ship to anywhere else.
A light rain fell, covering the huddled pair in a cool mist. As the night wore on, the mist thickened into a restless, swirling fog. Water dripped from the leaves around them as they sat together in the dirt beneath a leafy shrub. The dockhands lit torches to guide ships into port, but no ships arrived.
Each time Kraofla drifted into an uneasy sleep, she saw the hunters' eyes burning in the darkness. She heard the wuffling sound their feet made as they shuffled through the forest undergrowth. She smelled the blood that seemed caked into the hunters' skin. The first few times, she startled awake and only her beloved's reassuring presence stilled her cries.
"We will be safe, beloved," he whispered, tucking her in beside him. "I will awaken you when the ship arrives. We will need to board hastily, lest someone see us. Rest now."
Kraofla nodded wearily. She was unused to this much activity. Their village was well-hidden and peaceful in its own way. To prevent the hunters from finding them, defensive maneuvers took place constantly. Every villager was issued at the very least a small but deadly dagger.
Tranquil by nature, Kraofla tended the community garden. It attracted many different insects to supplement the villagers' diet. Though surrounded by the daily reminders of the reasons for their secluded existence, Kraofla enjoyed their simple life. When her husband volunteered to seek help from outsiders, however, she would not let him go without her.
"And for what purpose?" she thought to herself, drifting asleep again. "Who can help us? Who will help us?"
The wuffling sound was so close that Kraofla thought drowsily she could feel the breeze the hunters' feet stirred. She turned to reach for her beloved, but he was not there. Instantly, every nerve in her body tingled to life and Kraofla opened her eyes, looking this way and that, unwilling to move or to call for him. The wuffling noises did not disappear upon awakening as they had before. Something was coming.
"Graaah!" The hunter appeared suddenly before her, its fist clenched tightly around its spear. The spear-tip glistened in the fog, droplets of moisture forming on its point and on the knuckles of the hunter, slowly forming tears that fell to the sandy soil.
"Up, up!" It hissed, its reptilian eyes narrowing. Kraofla shrank away from the spear tip. She felt the simple dagger at her belt and wondered whether she could wound the hunter to give her husband time to escape—if indeed he still lived.
As she fumbled for the hilt of her dagger, the hunter glowed with an eerie red light. Its eyes bulged and the spear dropped from its hand. Clutching its throat with its claws, the hunter fell silently before her, dead. Beyond the hunter stood her husband, his hands gripping his staff so tightly that his knuckles had turned pale green.
"Come, beloved," the Kor shaman whispered, pulling his wife to her feet. He silenced her with a quick kiss. "The ship is here. We must board quickly."
Kraofla followed her husband toward the ship and felt relief wash over her. "At last," she sighed. "We will be saved."