The Element of Surprise

Ogle’s legs trembled nervously in his ankle high, moleskin boots as the Wolf King began to pad slowly towards them. Grumpty glanced around anxiously at the still, sleeping bodes of the surrounding wolves. There was no escape. If they turn and ran, the entire gang of wolves would be alerted and they would be torn to pieces, acorn hats and all. So the three elves remained glued to the spot as the great, white wolf approached the outer ring of dozing wolves. Ogle swallowed loudly, his eyes darting towards Grumpty inquiringly. Grumpty looked to the ground, a downcast flutter in his eyes. Why did everyone expect him to know what to do? The Wolf King paused in front of the first sleeping wolf and gazed down at the resting creature. He shifted his gaze to the stationery elves and slowly raised a paw above the snoring wolf. Grumpty felt the air trap in his throat as the Wolf King arched back his leg, preparing to strike. Ogle hugged his mother in a tight embrace, readying himself for the attack to come. The haggard wolf stood a few yards behind his master, tensing himself excitedly. Grumpty’s heart raced beneath his ribcage and unable to bear to watch, he closed his eyes. He could feel the blood pumping in his ears and the tips of his fingers quivering, coated in a thin layer of sweat. Grumpty inhaled deeply, waiting, listening for the yelp of the sleeping wolf. The yelp never came. Instead, a slight tremor rumbled beneath Grumpty’s feet and opening his eyes, he looked around puzzled. The vibrations began to increase in volume and the Wolf King paused, sniffing the air inquisitively. Lowering his paw, he turned and scanned the line of trees behind the haggard wolf. Shouts and cries could be heard in the distance, accompanying the low rumble. The trees and bushes trembled and shook violently. The Wolf King’s eyes widened and for the first time in the cruel animal’s life, fear flooded his being. A moment later there was a tremendous crash and several enormous Forest Trolls charged into the clearing, their loud roars, shaking the ground. As they thundered their way towards the centre of the clearing, the Wolf King darted swiftly to the left, narrowly avoiding being crushed by one of the Forest Troll’s gargantuan feet. The haggard wolf was not so lucky and suffered a harsh blow from one of the troll’s clubs, sending him flying through the air. The sleeping wolves woke suddenly and caught off guard, scattered frantically to and fro, disorientated and disorganized. Many of the young, grey wolves escorting the Wolf King, lay in crumpled heaps on the ground, whimpering feebly. Grumpty, Ogle and Ogle’s mother watched on amazed, as the Huge Trolls stormed after the panicked wolves. Seeing his company disbanded and fearing defeat close at hand, the Wolf King advanced upon one of the smaller trolls. He let out a menacing snarl and leapt through the air, his teeth sinking into the tough bark of the troll’s leg. The troll roared in both surprise and pain and hopped around the clearing, trying to shake the Wolf King free. Noticing their leader’s fearless behaviour, a few wolves joined in, latching themselves onto the troll’s other leg and back. Great tufts of moss were ripped from the giant troll’s back and eventually after much protest, the towering creature was dragged to the ground. Enamored by the Wolf King’s success the remaining wolves, broke into small packs of threes and fours and began attacking the invading trolls. The three petrified elves made a dash for the edge of the clearing, ducking and weaving their way between troll’s legs and fallen wolves. Although a fairly large percentage of the wolves had been defeated (due to the troll’s gaining of the upper hand), their tactic of forming small groups of attackers was paying of and more and more trolls were overrun by the aggressive packs. All of a sudden, the haggard wolf appeared in front of Grumpty, blocking his path. The jet black creature was limping, his back leg mangled from the previous attack. Instinctively, Grumpty stood in front of Ogle and his mother, despite the tight knot of fear in his stomach. The haggard wolf growled and sprang towards the elves. Grumpty turned his back to the approaching wolf, protecting Ogle and his mother from the oncoming attack. He let out a high pitched squeal as the haggard wolf’s jaw clamped onto Grumpty’s leg and started to pull him along the ground. Grumpty clawed and scrambled in the dirt, desperately trying to cling on for dear life. Ogle darted forward and grabbed hold of Grumpty’s arms, yanking him in the other direction. Grumpty shrieked in pain as the the haggard wolf dug his paws into the ground and wrenched him free from Ogle’s grip. Suddenly without warning, a large vine net landed over the haggard wolf and Grumpty. Ogle shouted in triumph as he spotted two pixies high above, grinning devilishly. Glancing round he noticed more of the winged, magical creatures zipping to and fro. Some of them carried other large nets between them, crafted from vines and roots. Others fired tranquilizer darts from tiny wooden tubes. The wolves hit, slowed, tripped and remained still. Shocked by his current predicament, the haggard wolf released his hold of Grumpty, allowing the small elf to crawl out of one of the gaps in the net. Ogle raced over to the injured form of Grumpty and dragged him away from the furious haggard wolf, thrashing about wildly in the tangled net. Aided by the arrival of the mischievous pixies, the Forest Trolls fought back against the wolves with renewed strength. The Wolf King snarled at the flying pixies and jumped up and down, snapping at them irritably. Distracted, the Wolf King didn’t register the approaching troll and howled in astonishment and pain as he was booted hard in the chest by the large, creature’s foot. He soared through the air and smacked into a nearby tree. The wolves looked round dumbfounded at the crumpled form of their master, lying at the bottom of the tree. Seeing them off guard ,the trolls and pixies rushed forwards at the wolves in a combined effort. Leaderless and outnumbered the remaining wolves retreated, carrying away their fallen leader with their tails between their legs. Grumpty lay on the hard ground, staring up at the large blue sky above him, dotted with pixies. He could hear muffled voices nearby but they were too distorted to understand. His leg felt hot and stingy and try as he might he did not have the energy to sit up and have a look. The world around him became hazy and his eyelids grew heavy. High above, several, shadowy shapes soared over the tall treetops. Grumpty’s lip curved into a smile and then everything turned black.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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