Chapter 8 – The Fishing Huts.
Cleo and Rufus had not gone far before they saw large dark shapes moving in the depths of the marshes. These did not approach the causeway, though, so they headed on towards the fishing huts, on the other side of the little peninsula that jutted into the lake.
As they approached the huts, there came a fair flood of screeching. Cleo spotted a tiny dragonette perched on one of the roofs. Even as she drew an arrow, it dived behind the hut and fluttering into the tall grasses.
“Interesting,” said Rufus. “Such bad language.”
“Well, my dragon is a bit rusty but you were called some really ugly names. The little thing basically said ‘Danger, invaders, run, hide!’ then ‘Go away nest robbers, go away!’”
“So that wasn’t all directed at us, was it?”
Rufus shook his head. “I do believe it was standing watch. Let’s go meet its masters.”
They explored, but no one answered their calls. This side of the peninsula was rather marshy with long grasses, but the area right around the huts was dry. They were reluctant to enter the huts without invitation, but they did examine a 15-foot skiff tied up on the beach – clearly used for fishing. There were also some drying racks with some cleaned fish hanging there, which they left alone. Every once in awhile there was another screech from the dragonette, hiding in the grasses, but not another soul was in sight.
Rufus chuckled. “I don’t think we’re welcome. They certainly are not receiving visitors this evening.”
“Let’s get back,” said Cleo. “I don’t want to be hunting for arrows in the dark if those big things in the marsh get bolder at night.”
“What? Surely you never miss, Cleo?”
As they approached the bridge and gate, Rufus’s pigeons returned. He had a quick conversation (unintelligible to Cleo) with them, then he turned to report. “Not much in the way of surprises. A fair few large, flying things live in the marshes and burnt barrens, which scared the pigeons and they ran. Contrarywise, they saw the dragon and were not scared, because he is so big and, in their view, clumsy, and not a threat to something their size. They felt safer in the forest, as they were sheltered. They report a storm is still brewing inside the next valley. On their return, they overflew the farms and then the old mansion south of town. There, a flying furry thing, probably a bat, screamed at them to go away.”
“Just like that Dragonette.”
“Not precisely. The bat was warning them of something dangerous. Something evil.”
“Oh joy. I bet I know where we’re going tomorrow.”
As they headed into the town gate, an old lady exited, pushing a wheel barrow that looked like it was full of water. She gave them a nod and hurried on. The two adventurers just stared at her, then shrugged.