When we last saw our heroine, she was leaving a tavern in search of an adventure and being followed by a mysterious man with a nefarious reputation.
Red continued down the path through the middle of town. The sun wasn’t warm enough to take off her namesake cloak. The chill in the air didn’t seem to bother all the townsfolk walking about and stealing glances at it. But whether they were staring at her or her clothing was of little importance to Red. She was more concerned with finding a quest. What she didn’t know was that adventure was coming for her.
“Are you lost little girl?” asked the man as he approached.
“I am neither little or lost, sir,” she replied making a point not to look the man in the eye. Her hand instinctively went under her cloak to assure herself the ax the woodsman had given her was still accessible. The reflex was not lost on the man and it gave him an idea.
“Ah, an adventurer. I knew from the look of you that you were no ordinary girl…young woman,” said the man warming to his theme. “I think I may be able to help you.”
“I do not need help,” she replied, but she stopped nonetheless. Something in his voice was compelling. Then again she remembered the flattering wolf who led her astray. “Who are you?”
“I am a traveler, like yourself. I was going to the capitol, but I’ve been told there is a fearsome band of outlaws living on the roadway and walking it alone has become treacherous. I had hoped to get a group of people to walk with me. Outlaws are less likely to attack a group. Sadly, none will make the journey with me for they are frightened. Perhaps the party that came with you would allow me to join them?”
“I came alone for I can take care of myself. Wolves are all the same whether on two feet or four,” she replied with a smirk. The man stifled a chuckle at her arrogance.
“Perhaps we two can share the journey together. I can see you are quite capable and it would set my mind at ease to have someone such as you as a companion. My name is Rummy,” he said with an odd smile.
“I am Red and I would happily accompany you on your journey,” she replied feeling the adventure about to being.
What could another trip through the woods hurt? She thought. They decided it would be best to waiting until first light before heading out on their trip. That night, while Red was sleeping in her bed dreaming of heroic acts, her traveling companion was making his way into the woods to make ready for their departure. A low growl carried on the wind.
The next morning, bright and early, Red and Rummy set off for the capital. Rummy said little and Red preferred it that way. They walked in silence through the green wood looking for signs of the band of thieves. On and on they trudged until they reached a section of the woods that was dark despite the midday sun.
“I believe we should stop here and have our lunch. We are nearly half-way to the capital by now,” said Rummy in a loud voice. It felt out of place in the dark of the woods and startled Red.
“It’s best to press on and save our hunger for the capital. Stopping in the woods is never a good idea,” she replied remembering smooth words from a mouth that had eaten her.
“No, no. I cannot take another step without a little rest. We have not seen or heard anyone for hours. Perhaps the outlaws have moved on to a better location,” said Rummy, sitting down and opening his pack. Red was starting to think it would have been better to walk alone, but the sight of food melted some of her resolve. She sat down and opened her pack, as well.
Rummy chewed slowly driving Red mad with impatience. As she was about to give voice to her irritation, she heard rustling in the bushes. She stood up and looked down at a smiling Rummy with teeth she could almost remember.
A pack of wolves circled their picnic area bearing their teeth and growling. Rummy looked completely at ease and Red realized that she had been tricked. One of the wolves crouched low, coiling his muscles for a high pounce. Red ran through the trees narrowly avoiding his lunge. She could hear them running on the underbrush, snapping twigs and gaining ground. The high laugh of Rummy drifted through the trees, mingling with the howls of her pursuers…