He turned to signal his brother but noticed that Bander was preoccupied trying to swipe a mosquito buzzing about his head. Rander dared not make a sound, in fear of revealing his position. He waved an arm to get Bander’s attention. The gesture went unnoticed. Bander’s interest was totally held by the flying nuisance.
The sound from the woods grew louder and was repeated in unison from other nearby clumps of trees. Rander could wait no more. He placed an arrow on his bow and fired it at his brother. It struck the tree near Bander’s head. The suddenness of the event nearly caused the burly elf to fall from his perch.
He drew back an arrow and turned to see his attacker. When he spied his brother looking at him most crossly, Bander relaxed his bow and stared at him with his head slightly cocked to the side. Rander feverishly pointed to the woods from which the noise had originated. Bander stared at the woods with the same confused look he had been showing Rander.
Suddenly, the trees began to shake. Bander joined his brother with his bow ready to fire. It was not long before a herd of deer stepped from the woods and into the clearing. Without hesitation, the elves fired. Their aim was true and two deer fell immediately. The rest of the herd charged down the clearing with great haste.
Rander pulled a second arrow from his quiver and fired again at the fleeing game. The arrow struck a deer in the hind leg and knocked it to the ground. Bleeding badly, the animal tried to get to its feet and resume running.
Not wanting to lose the precious meat, Rander dropped his bow, drew a knife and slid down the tree to finish his task. As he neared the fallen game, he noticed that it was not looking at him as it tried to escape. It was looking back at the woods it had just left.
Rander stopped next to the deer and turned curiously to look at the woods as well. All he saw was a charcoal-colored blur as he was knocked to the ground. An immense pain came from his leg moments later. He looked down to see his entire calf lodged in a Trogo’s mouth. It shook its head back and forth so hard that the motion lifted Rander off the ground. With one last swing of the head, it threw Rander several paces in the air before he landed and rolled to a stop.
The wounded elf was in shock and looked about for the beast. To his horror, more creatures than he could count had entered the clearing and were surrounding him. They growled and snarled ~ 252 ~
as they moved closer. Time seemed to creepas Rander awaited the attack. He screamed for help, but his voice was overcome by the sounds of the Trogos. Having sized up their prey, the one with Rander’s blood in his mouth attacked first.
Having lost his knife during the attack, there was little Rander could do except put his arm in front of his face and close his eyes. The sound of the barking suddenly stopped as a low-pitched whine came and went in an instant. Immediately following it was a loud yelp from the Trogo near him.
Uncovering his eyes, Rander saw the Trogo spinning in a circle, trying to remove an arrow from its side. It had hit near the ribs, but did not dig deeply into his thick hide. Another Trogo came close and snapped the arrow’s shaft.
It was about that time that another arrow struck the same wolf. It struck in the hindquarter, but again, did little damage. A third arrow totally missed the target and lodged in the ground.
The pack spread out and did not take long to locate Bander in his tree. They left Rander and the deer behind as they surrounded the tree and began barking at its host. The beasts demonstrated remarkable agility as they leapt nearly to the branch where he stood.
As the terrified elf drew back his bow, one of the trogos caught hold of his boot at the apex of its jump and tore it from his foot as it fell. The incident knocked Bander on his belly. He struck his head on the wide branch but had the sense to hold on to it. In order to grab the branch, however, he was forced to let go of his bow. It fell to the ground, where it instantly became a chew-toy for the trogos.
Realizing he was within reach of his adversary, Bander tried to return to his feet. The action was too late, however, as a wolf jumped for his dangling arm. Bander could see the jaws coming near as if it was happening slowly.
Just as the teeth were about to strike, a high-pitched whine preceded an arrow slicing through the great animal’s neck. The arrowhead stopped only after exiting the far side of the skin. With a horrible yelp, the beast fell to the ground and moved no more.