The Hunt

📅 Published on June 17, 2022

“The Hunt”

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 12 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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The following is transcribed from a document located in an unmarked grave discovered and exhumed on the island of Skellig Michael.  The document is of particular note, because not only does it predate the monastic orders that would come to dominate the culture of this Irish property, but was confusing due to the occasional lapse of the author into an unknown language, later determined to Frankish writing from the 4th century and onwards.  It was originally wondered how, or why, a speaker of a Germanic language would have found their way to such a remote spot hundreds of miles away from what was surely the place of his birth, but as the translation unfolded, the more unusual the story became.  It is presented here without further comment.

May perhaps here, in my final resting place, on this island far from the reaches of all I have ever known and loved, will my story come to a peaceful end.  Know that my name is Adalwolf, and my brother Erhard, and may the first of these I not speak again.  For it is in my name that much of what has transpired has happened, and that it is fitting that I write these words in a foreign tongue that still gives me difficulty, for I truly deserve to be a stranger in a strange land.

This island overlooks a rough and angry sea…the sea was never a place I imagined for a home, nor Erhard, for we were born in what the Romans called Germania, and in that place a fishing lake was perhaps the largest body of water we had ever seen.  We were not fishers ourselves, but hunters, using bow and arrow, knife and trap to catch our daily meals.  I wish I could say we were good lads, but my current state ensures that such is not the case.

Our clan traveled often, with little possessions to call our own, and we went as the seasons bade us to travel.  In winter we would head as far towards warmer climes as we could, but many others outside of our clan would often do the same, and if we did not heed warnings soon enough, there would be little space to live and hunt without quarrel and violence.  If we were larger in size, both in number and body, perhaps we could have held out.  But proud as we were, we could not hope to compete in such an instance, and we often wintered further north.  We were lucky in that deer would be left behind as well, but boars also gave us trouble, even if the meat was often worth the risk.

We were both young men, Erhard and I, in the year when our lives would change forever.  The winter snows had melted, and the cold bite of winter gave way to the wet coolness of springtime.  Grumblings began to spread of discontent and the potential of open warfare among the clans, as Harald, a leader from the southern region, felt he was not being given the tribute he deserved.  It was believed he wished to prove his point on the end of the sword.  Though we had learned much about hunting game, we found ourselves conscripted into the hunting of men.  Our skills proved quite useful in training, and then, when Harald finally did make his move, proved even more useful in defense.  The Romans preferred their open warfare, on the field, full colors, and the honor of combat in regalia…we preferred not to play that game, but to hunt as we did game, striking the enemy and retreating, avoiding being seen at all costs.

There were forests Harald’s forces dared not enter.  We never wanted to admit anything as strong as pride, but to strike fear into Harald did leave us with a leap in our stomachs, to think even if we were not well-known, our skills certainly were.

Erhard, on the other hand, grew to enjoy this life far more than I.  He was younger, more brash, more desirous to prove his worth, but at the same time he was the one who was closest to giving us away on more than one occasion to the enemy.  A dropped arrow here, a kicked rock there, shifting slightly and sending wildlife scurrying for cover…these were the kinds of things that had almost (but never truly) put us in danger.  And he never learned from his mistakes.  Still, there was no denying his tracking abilities; the way he followed both deer and man alike were astounding, though it was me who more capable of hiding, waiting for something to happen.  I had patience he did not.

Our blessings of providence finally did leave us, just as the chill of winter once again descended upon us.

We had received word that another convoy of soldiers were to head west through the woods we knew so well, and we prepared ourselves for the occasion.  Erhard found them when they entered, and tracked their way through.  They had decided to take a well-trodden footpath…a foolhardy thing to do, to be sure…and once he had followed them and knew what route they would take, we took up hiding places in trees that lined a small valley where a brook babbled through.  The water had worn down and into a thin path; shallow enough to wade, but once in, the only way to travel was to follow the river to its conclusion; the walls were too tall and sandy to make climbing out a possibility.  Nobody with any sense, knowing it was hostile territory, would ever have attempted it.

We should have realized that there was something wrong with all of this, but as I said, we were young, and despite our skills, we were only human, and naive to the idea that anyone would ever try to lure us out into the open.

It all went wrong when Erhard, sitting in the crotch of his tree, kicked some bark loose.  And then the arrow whistled from across the way, and I heard him gasp before he fell ten feet to the ground.

Within seconds, the convoy was upon him, but not, as I feared, to simply run him through and end his life right then and there.  No, they lifted him to a standing position, as some distance away the other archer came from the woods, a much older man than either of us, with many battle scars around his face and eyes and a heavy gray in what beard was still allowed to grow on his damaged jaw.

I waited, frozen, watching it all from a distance, as one of the convoy unfurled a scroll and began reading off a list of crimes Erhard had supposedly committed.  At least, they would only be considered crimes if Harald became the overlord he so desired to be.  But Erhard ignored their questions, their attempts to mock him.

There were very few of them, and they did not seem to be aware that the threat of the forest came from that of two archers, not one.  They paid no attention to the idea that they might still be in danger.

But a flight from my arrows never came.  I did not know, then, why I hesitated.  I believe in a sense it was fear.  In another, it was a sort of punishment for Erhard, a chance to learn his carelessness would someday get all of us killed if he did not change.

I watched as they led him further into the woods, away from my position.  I followed after, not quite as good a tracker as my brother, but not wanting to lose sight of him.

They headed along the brook as expected, but then made a turn where the water split into two paths, and followed this smaller branch as the water continued to dry up, slow, turn brown, but oddly, opened up further, until they reached a small wooded copse.  It was not a clearing, for there was still plenty of trees to block the view no matter where I tried to keep an eye out, but the only real feature of any note was the bog, the thick, marshy surface disappearing away into the distance.  We didn’t like to be out near this spot if we could at all help it; supposedly many years before we were born this place was used for human sacrifices to appease gods we never even knew the names of.  Whether it was the stories, or perhaps just a feeling, or even something malevolent in this place, but the bog carried an aura, a sense of great loneliness.  It was dangerous enough to wade in as it stood, without any sordid history to worry about, but the sorrow and misery that poured from it only made it all the more wretched.

They once again told my brother to confess to his crimes.  Erhard refused to answer them, except when asked to name others who helped him on his work.

He never mentioned me.  He allowed them to believe he was the only one.  I think, deep down, he expected me to do what he likely would have done, and taken on the troops with a few well-placed arrows and rescue him at the last minute.  But they never gave him the chance.

They bound his hands, his feet, and placed a small, crooked cap on his head.  They led him close to the edge of the bog, and forced him to kneel, facing all of them, and in the bargain, me.  I think, as they then tightened a noose around his neck, he must have seen me, known I was there…and wondered why I did nothing to rescue him in his last few moments of life.

The noose tightened, and as I watched, they each took turns pulling it, squeezing the life from him.  First, his face turned purple, then blue, and then grew paler and more lifeless.  The archer took the final turn, whispering something into Erhard’s ear pulling so hard the rope almost split in two.  He held it the longest; I do not know how long the time was, but I felt the tears well as my younger brother’s tongue could no longer fit in his mouth, and he finally collapsed on the ground.

His burial was very unceremonial; the crew of soldiers lifted his corpse and dropped it into the bog, with little to no fanfare.  With that accomplished, they rested for a short while, then gathered their belongings and went on with their lives.  But mine would never be the same again.

My brother was gone, in such a short time, and in much pain and anguish.  And I did nothing to help him.

Fortunately for the clan, my services in the fight would not be required after that…Harald a few days later, Harald was assassinated by his own men, due to a combination of not paying them for their services as well as a growing discontentment with his future plans.  A relative peace covered the land, and due to both that and my own desire to retreat, I was able to find solace in solitude and many a drink.

More years passed, and as time passed, I found a greater desire to move further west, to leave behind Germania and anything which reminded me of my past guilt.  I was able to obtain several small jobs, avoiding debt and slavery and being able to support myself to a comfortable degree, though I was still never inclined to stay in one place for very long.

It is by sheer coincidence that I found myself in the company of men I thought I would never in my wildest dreams see again.

At first I did not recognize him, as he was not wearing the same murky clothing in which he had disguised himself all those years ago, just a simple white cloak with a hood, but as I walked through a marketplace, I heard his voice ordering a small bag of food, and my mind made a connection to the voice that had pulled the life from my brother.  I glanced in his direction, thinking it was just a trick of the mind, but it was no trick; the scarred jaw line, now exploding with beard he had decided not to keep shaven, was unmistakably his.  I followed him, expecting to see him now stationed in luxury and comfort, his reward for what he had completed.  Instead, he appeared to have found himself a small set of rooms, located in a district of this city in the area where the lepers sought a coin and some pity.

Having now seen where he lived, I fell back into old habits, and began to watch him, waiting for him, as I would prey in the forest, hoping to find a moment in which I could spring on him, ready to destroy his life the way he had destroyed mine.  But though his was an easy pattern to follow, it was also confusing…he did not appear to be comfortable in life, but looked over his shoulder, frightened, as if expecting something to come by and attack him.  He did not expect me, but why would he?  He had no idea who I was, not knowing my brother was not alone in those woods.  But certainly, something was off about him and his life.

I finally secured an evening in which he had drunk himself into a stupor, and though he wandered back to the shack he called his house, he had no visitors, no witnesses, and none who sat outside his house begging for scraps, and as he went into and attempted to bar the door, I pushed my way in, both surprising him and ensuring he could not get to any weapons in time.  I struck him until he fell unconscious, then tied him to a chair with some bowstring cords I had located among his things.

When he awoke, I questioned him, wanting to know as much as I could about him before I would end his life, bringing some peace from my brother’s murder.  The answers I got, however, turned my view of the past few years into a different sort of reflection.

He had been hired that day by the convoy, a sort of mercenary among mercenaries, and of the fifteen to twenty that had succeeded in killing Erhard, he was the only one remaining.  The rest had all vanished, either simply disappearing into thin air or found dead, disfigured and strangled.  No murderer was ever caught, but the archer told me that he knew who the killer was.

“He is some kind of man, but he cannot die.  He will not die.  I know, for I shot and stabbed him myself.  He did not even make a noise when he was hurt; he just kept coming.”

I needed to know more about this man who he had tried to kill, but he told me nothing.  I now understood why he was so frightened, but knowing so little gave me no clue as to who followed him and wanted him as dead as I.  So, I left him tied up in his home, and waited to see who would come.  He screamed and yelled, telling me I was leaving him for dead.  I don’t think he realized how little I cared for his well-being.

I watched across the street and waited, and sometime in the late evening, the murderer came to call.  But to call what I saw a man stretched the meaning of the word.  Something arrived that night, looking for revenge, though it was impossibly thin, its arms and legs shrunken and gangly, in no way something a living person could have, even one who has not eaten in some time.  He slithered into an open window, and after I heard the scream of the archer as he saw his death coming for him, I approached, kicking in the door.

For the archer, I had come too late; his chair lay sideways, his body sprawled, his eyes bulging and windpipe crushed, twitching in death throes.  But the shrunken, hideous figure that had done him in turned to me as I entered, and even in its deformed state, I recognized the face in moments.

My brother stared back at me…or what remained of him.  He stood before me, wearing nothing but the tattered remains of the pointed hat, but modesty was not necessary at this point, for his body was that of a dried, desiccated corpse, stained brown by time spent in the bog swamp.  Though dried out and colored the same as a slab of salted meat, his face remained almost a mirror image of the one I had seen on him prior to death, though even in the dark, his eyes glinted a yellow color, similar to that of a domestic cat in the moonlight.  I recoiled, slamming the door behind me, and ran.

See, I have continued to run since that day.  I know that, though his direct murderers have suffered justice at his hands, I know that he still blames me for what happened that day, and whatever animates him cannot rest until I am ready to join him.

It has been quite an adventure, though.  I have traveled, and I have seen much of the world I did not expect to see.  I know he pursues me, having seen him in my travels out of the corner of my eye, leaving before he can track me down completely.  Just as we did as young men, he pursues and tracks with expert skill.  But I can hide.  I can certainly hide.

But perhaps I have finally eluded him.  I have traveled to this land, away from the world I once knew, having learned the barbaric tongue of these northern lands, and have asked, have sought out the deepest places of loneliness, and having crossed the channel twice, have finally arrived here at this island.  None but a few bardic groups come here, and even then with great difficulty.  Even someone as dedicated as him cannot come here, as I would see him coming.  Only by boar could he arrive, and only then if the waves did not destroy him first.  Surely the forces of nature could destroy what remains of him.

Even so, I believe I will succeed, that I will elude him.  For I have developed a cough, accompanied by blood, and a general weakening of my body and spirit.

I cannot run any further.  I will not survive another trip.  But despite being far from my home, in this place, I believe the peace I seek will soon come.  I will die, and my brother’s revenge will not longer be necessary, and perhaps in the world beyond this one, we shall meet again as friends.

I have prepared a burial site for myself.  When it is time, I shall lay within, and let my life ebb away.  This story shall accompany me, and should you read of it, know that I regret my actions toward my own kin, but his forgiveness is his to give, not mine to ask, and I hope we may both be judged for it when I awake from this world.

This ends the translated documentation, and thus is presented the mystery.  The rolled confession and tale were indeed found in a burial pit on Skellig Michael, but it is the pit itself that is the strangest of all.  Other than the parchment, the pit itself was empty, with no trace of a body.  It had also been filled in, and has otherwise remained untouched until the present day.  It stands to reason that the teller may have simply told this story to throw off pursuers and traveled once more around the world, dying in an unmarked grave.

But it does not explain the tattered remains of a burlap hat that was found buried alongside the writing.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Seth Paul


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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