Lethean Shroud

 

Greasy strings of flesh clung to the utensil as Rayanna rested it against the edge of the pie tin. She inched the pungent stew across her lap, toward her knees. Raising her chin, she inhaled welcome pine smoke odors.

“What’s the story about these wolvish creatures?” As she eased her shoulders back, the rocking chair creaked.

“I told you those ain’t wolves.”

“People once believed giant boars were mythical monsters.” She glanced sideways at the snarling area rug. “Maybe it’s something like that. Just an unidentified species.”

“Unidentified. Unmentioned. Unseen, even. To most folks, that is. But I know exactly what they are. I’m just puzzling to figger your part in the story.” Firelight raved at her host’s back and cast eerie shadows into the hollows of his cheeks. Random smoke wisps lashed out across the hearth to tease his shoulders. “What’s the last thing you really remember?”

“Campfire burns woke me–”

“Wrong!” Springing up, he flung his plate to the fire’s threshold and snatched the poker. “Don’t lie to me, Anna.”

Her throat swelled, choking her words. “I-I was in an accident.”

“What kind of accident?” His knuckles whitened on the poker grip. “I better not hear that story about the fire again.”

“What do you mean? I’ve got burns.” Her arms trembled when she lifted them from her lap, so she grabbed onto the chair to steady them.

“Don’t you play games with me.” With a stomp, he glowered over her. “No one camps in these here parts. Something else put you in this forest. And something put the beasts on your scent.”

 

*** TO BE CONTINUED ***

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