FHoJ: Chapter 21 - That of Which Roams the Mists

It was the first night  of mists in over a week and a half, not terribly thick to where it  threatened to spill over roads, but Cole was nervous all the while. He  managed to get to Batseye before dusk and met up with Jane and Marin as  agreed. They talked some while there, but Jane pushed to leave for a  while and return after dark, after people went inside so to not raise  concerns.

There was also the  uncertainty that nothing may happen and this bothered Jane, the man of  action. Standing around, talking minimally, just waiting for something  to happen. He'd rather have each and every one of his teeth pulled, and  said as much. But seeing as Batseye was picked, Cole said they should  just stay here each following night as eventually their quarry was bound  to come back. It made sense, but Jane was bored out of his skull. So  Marin said he should be the one to patrol while he and Cole took two  solid viewpoints of the forest line.

Tonight could be the night,  Cole would think. The moon was getting very large, night after tomorrow  was the full moon, and every time he saw the progression of its growth,  he thought more and more about that nightmare. It was starting to feel  real all of a sudden. Then his hairs went on end as he heard something  in the forest, Gale too picked it up and he kept his eyes focused  towards the shifting haze.

Jane was coming from his  left and Cole put up a hand, signaling there was something and for  silence. They waited. There was snaps, subtle leaf rustling, Cole was  not sure if he was seeing something actually moving around but with the  brightness of the moon it gave the mists a glow. They remained still and  Cole pointed towards something he thought was coming.

"Ah yes..." Jane whispered. "That is odd..." A young buck came out into the open, timid and alert.

"Jane, it is near impossible to see," Cole sighed in response to the sarcastic commentary.

"No, that is odd," Jane replied. "Look at it..."

It looked like a normal  blackstripe dear to him, but it walked along into the open, looking back  towards the forest. It then kept going and around the edge of the  village.

"Should we follow it?"  Cole asked. He got the distinct feeling that by Jane's movements right  then, Jane was restraining himself from knocking Cole upside the head as  he would have done with Marin.

It took everything to use just whispers. "No! The fucking deer isn't the problem!"  he hissed. "It's avoiding some–" They both shot their heads back to the  forest as there was a loud crack followed by some strange sound. "Oh  shit..."

This was the night...

"Get Marin," Cole  whispered. Jane cut through the village. Cole slowly drew his sword from  his hip to have at the ready and tracked the movement. In the time it  took the Bucks to return, it still had not shown itself but was for sure  getting more noisy.

"Should we go after it?" Marin asked.

"Lower your voice," Cole said to him. "It may know we are here, or is unsure, but we should wait till it is in the open."

"I could flank it," Jane said. "Cut up around and flush it out."

"That would require you to go deep into the mists," Cole reminded.

"Should be okay," he replied.

Cole looked at Jane as if he had gone mad. "What was that you told me?"

"What was what I told you?"

"To never walk around in the mists," Cole quoted. Jane looked dumb suddenly and glanced at Marin.

"Right... Right..."

The sounds grew worse and louder, more carnal than before.

"Oh hey, I heard someth'n!" Marin whispered sharply, Jane was the one that tried to shush him this time.

Now there was something  shifting out in the haze, a shadow bobbing about among the tall trees,  almost ghostly in the thick white wafts. Cole tensed up, he had his  sword poised to the side and grip tight on the reins, Jane and Marin  each had their crossbows ready. They watched and waited.

"Wait till we see what it is..." Jane breathed. Odd moment of patience coming from him.

"What?" Marin asked and Jane just replied with a hand signal. It for sure was coming now.

Snarling, barking, limbs going everywhere, swearing. ...swearing?

Cole sat up in the saddle. The Bucks both did the same and there was confused expressions on each of them.

"Is that... a man?" Cole asked.

Marin looked over at him. "N' he be naked."

"Son of a bitch..."  Jane moaned and urged his horse forward, Marin was close behind. Cole  was hesitant to put his sword away and slowly went with.

What came out of the  mists was a man in his mid 40s, seemingly out of his mind as acted like  an animal on the prowl. His graying hair was balding on top while the  long, thick beard upon his round face was quite full, and indeed was as  naked as one could get.

The man saw them and  reacted by going away with a growl. Jane rushed forward to cut him off  before there was a chance of going back into the mists, sending the man  yowling towards the village and quite loudly. Then Marin blocked him and  Cole took another side to try and trap him. The man growled and barked,  making a real fuss which was spooking the horses.

"Ferdin," Jane said. "Ferrrdin!" he called down again, and slowly the man started to calm. "Hey, Ferdin."

"Oh... hey, Jane, what brings ya over," the man said looking up. Jane just smiled down at him.

"Found some beast wandering out of the mists, thankfully we found him before some child did."

"Really?" the man said with amazement. "The one that's been causin' all the trouble?"

"Eh, maybe," Jane replied. He was acting very casual.

"Well good fer ya! Good  on ya fellows- oh, who might ya be?" he asked looking up at Cole. "A  strong one ya look like." Cole looked a bit perplexed, only nodding to  the man as he wasn't sure what to say.

"Yeah, hey, Ferdin," Jane said to get the sleepwalker's attention. "The beast's still here, could use your help."

"OH! Well what can I do? And what does this beasty look like?"

"Well, he's not tall n' quite hung," Marin interjected.

"Huh?" Marin then gave a  cheeky smile to Ferdin and fluttered his eyebrows. It was then that the  poor man looked down at himself. "Oh-hhooo..."

"Think you can take care of it for us?" Jane asked.

"Can I borrow somethin' ta um..."

"Fuck no."

* * * * *

Apparently this  particular sleepwalker was notorious, as Cole would find out another  night following. And as before, Ferdin staggered around manic and  carnal, drawing the men together for another bout of disappointment and  disgust.

"Can I just shoot him?" Marin sighed.

"No..." Jane moaned.

"Just in da leg ta keep 'um in bed."

"That is seriously tempting..."

"I think I hear his wife coming this time," Cole said.

Cole was not sure what  was sadder: Jane's game of shame, or Ferdin's wife calling him home like  one would their pet, letting him remain asleep. Either way, it was  about the only action they were getting. That was last night with no  mists out. It was now the third night in Batseye with the moon  officially full and the mists were out.

Jane had an interesting  story to tell about Ferdin though, apparently some years ago he was  swallowed up by the mists and went missing for a week. He did not  remember much of anything and was mostly unharmed, but now he was  plagued with this bad habit. Apparently a dozen times now he wandered  into the mists but would come back just fine for no known reason, and  Jane's theory was his grotesque nakedness kept him rejected.

"If he knows he does this, why does he not keep dressed when he goes to bed?" Cole asked.

"Doesn't matter," Jane  replied. "He strips himself. You may find a random pair of pants in the  street some days." That actually explained a few things.

"My vote fer tomorrow is not see'n a naked man," Marin remarked.

"That too would be my  preference," Cole said. "But by what we know, it will cycle through here  eventually. If we leave we may miss it."

"Or we may catch it in Westen," Jane stated. "Westen don't got this kind of shit."

"You are willing to  start over?" Cole asked him. Of course Jane wasn't, and swore up a storm  about it followed by ranting over the situation as a whole.

Marin started to cock his head to peer around them towards the distance. "Groshin, I just wanna shoot 'um in da ass so bad..."

Jane looked over towards the forest again. "I'm fucking putting a hay-bale on their door next time."

"Is it not possible Mr. Deere could be the problem?" Cole questioned.

"Eh... I don't know..."  Jane grumbled. It really wasn't something he felt plausible. But as they  talked on the Bucks did joke about it at the poor man's expense, making  nonsensical comparisons much in the same way they did with the draft  horse. The two of them were obviously tired of dealing with Ferdin,  letting him stagger on within the dangerous edges of the mists as a  blurry mass. Not acceptable.

"He'll likely be okay, Cole," Jane called after.

"Maybe your conscience  can accept that," Cole replied back over his shoulder. He knew they now  were taking humor out of this, wanting to see how he would handle the  situation.

Halfway out between the  buildings and the forest he started calling out. "Mr. Deere. Mr. Ferdin  Deere, you are sleepwalking again, you need to come back." There was an  obvious shift to the noticeable figure, and silence as Ferdin tried to  hide. "Mr. Ferdin Deere," he sighed. Cole really did not want to test  his luck with the mists. Gale grew very hesitant the closer they got,  and Cole came to realize as the form stood taller at his approach, that  it was not the sleepwalker.

A swear escaped him as  he caught the glint of the eyes poised high and locked upon him. Cole  started to draw his sword and keep Gale steady. Jane and Marin came  quick when they realized something was not right. Now greatly  outnumbered, the large figure retreated before they could get a good  look at it.

Jane snapped. "Oh FUCK NO!"

"Jane! Wait!" Marin cried as he watched his friend charge his horse into the mist filled forest. Cole too called after.

The two Falorn's looked at each other, Marin with wide eyes and jaw slack, Cole worried. Jane, and his war cry were gone...

Then it returned moments later just before he came crashing out of the forest some feet over. "What the actual fuck!" Jane cried as he made his horse stop and spin back around.

"Jaaaane! Stop!" Marin  shouted, but the man wouldn't listen and raced right back in again which  confused Cole further. A few moments later there was the sound of his  voice back somewhere else in Batseye, way back behind them.

Cole snapped seeing Jane come cantering back to them from the other side of the village. "What in damnation is going on!"

There was no answer  given to Cole, Jane was swearing and went one last time after the beast,  this time at a slower pace and in the same pace he came back out again.

"FUCK!" Jane shouted.

"Jane! What happened??" Marin cried.

"Damn mists rejected me!!!" Jane said.

"What is that suppose to mean?" Cole demanded.

"Just that! Sometimes... Shit!" Jane swore as he looked off into the forest, his eyes desperate to go back in.

"Jane, there is things  you are not telling me." Cole was looking at him serious. Then his  attention was pulled back towards the waking village, Jane and Marin  started to panic as lanterns were coming out. Without word, they rushed  off towards the south road, leaving Cole confused and making him figure  it out on his own that he too should do the same.

Will these two men be children forever? Careless, reckless and silly?

"Jane, why did you ran after it?" Cole asked once they were away from the village.

"Because it was there!!!" he shouted.

"Will you lower your  voice." Cole had to cover an ear. "Because of your needless shouting, a  whole village is wondering what happened."


"Yes. And it certainly  is not drawing that thing back." Jane's cheeks puffed up as he wanted to  explode, but just glared at Cole. "Now... Why did you run after it?"

Jane sucked in a deep  breath through his nostrils as he continued to glare at Cole, holding it  before speaking. "I already said." This was not in a normal tone for  Jane, it was deeper, something trying to be calm. It was a bit  frightening.

"I was warned of one  danger when I came here, and you echoed it yourself. Yet I watched you  throw yourself in three times tonight."

Jane sucked on his teeth as he stared back at Cole, not saying anything.

"Why? And why when you have a wife, and a second little one on the way?" Cole asked.

"Cole is right, Jane," Marin said, getting a death glare in return.

Jane desperately wanted lash out at Marin, to tell him off for taking sides when he very well knew the reasons for everything.

"And what was that,"  Cole went on to say as he was not getting a reply. "You came out behind  us!" Jane still kept silent. "Fine then. Perhaps you will enlighten me  another time. I doubt it will return here now. Should we meet tomorrow  in Westen? Greeny?"

"North Fields?" Marin suggested. That too was fine with Cole. Jane added nothing.

"Then goodnight to both of you." And with that Cole rode away towards home.

"Night, Cole!" Marin replied after him with a friendly tone, Jane remained looking bitter.