Leaf

treeLeaf was lost.  Earlier in the day he had gone out with his father on a hunting trip, after promising faithfully that this time he would concentrate on staying close and quiet.  He had managed the quiet far better than the staying close – in fact he had moved a short way away from his father after lunch, and curled up and fallen asleep in the grass at the foot of a small tree that provided shelter from the sun. His father had said nothing at the time; in fact, now Leaf thought about it, he realised his father had probably not even noticed, intent as he had been on the herd of deer they had discovered grazing peacefully nearby.  That had been in the warmth of the day, and Leaf had slept deeply, tired as he was from the long walk before they had stopped to eat the food they had carried with them.

“Father?”  He moved restlessly from the tree, searching for some sign of his father’s footsteps, but they were not to be seen in the gathering darkness.  Leaf was sure his father and the other hunters would be looking for him, but hunters covered a good deal of ground while out, and they would not dare call out loud for fear of disturbing the pack of wolves they knew hunted somewhere nearby.

The temperature dropped quickly at night, and soon Leaf began to shiver violently.  He had long ago stopped wandering in search of his father, soon after the point he had realised that he had no idea which way to go, and now he sat with his back against a tree, crying softly; even in his despair he remembered to make as little noise as possible while out in the wild.

A loud crack of wood just behind him made him jump to his feet, and to his astonishment he saw in front of him a man he had never seen before.  He had been told there were other people than the ones in their village, but this was the first time he had ever set eyes on someone outside his own people.  The man’s skin appeared lighter than Leaf was used to, and his hair was pulled back and tied behind him.  His eyes were looking at Leaf and seeming to laugh, and Leaf realised suddenly that he could see clearly; a strange light seemed to be glowing.

The man stepped forward and held out his hand, and Leaf timidly took it.

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