The arrows split the gnarled bark as two small figures dived behind it’s protective shield.
‘I can’t run anymore. I can’t….I can’t….I can’t,’ the frail boy cried.
‘We have to. They’ll kill us this time if we stay. Come on Mezbah. Grab my hand.’
Baying hounds accompanied the ominous sounds of the long hunting horns, their slender golden bodies glistening in the dappled sunlight.
Two spears vibrated in the large tree trunk, their shafts shivering, emulating the fear quivering in the boys’ hearts.
‘Leave me. You go. I want to die. Let me join our Father in the Otherworld.’
‘No,’ Nampur hissed, grabbing his brother’s arm and dragging him to his shaky feet. ‘You’re coming with me. We’re nearly there. Look!’ Nampur pointed to a sandstone wall at the edge of the forest. A golden gate adorned with serpents’ heads stood ajar, tempting them to take the next few strides to safety……………….or death.
A loud crack of twigs diverted their attention. A young boy darted from the safety of the foliage, his eyes screaming alarm. He ran for the open gate but stumbled in a mass of trailing vines. He rose to his feet and glanced at the excited shouts behind. A flurry of arrows thudded into his back dropping him to the ground like a trembling porcupine.
‘Now,’ screamed Nampur dragging Mezbah towards the exit before he had time to object. Twisting black arrows whistled past their ears and smashed against the stone wall. Frenzied yapping yelps increased in volume as the hunters released the pack of tesem, ferocious hunting hounds, used by Amurabis, the ruler of Nephatimis to appease his lust for hunting children.