• ERIC BUTLER

The Ephraim Godwin Chronicles - The Early Years: The Awakening Part 20

Updated: Jan 21

This story takes place 5 years before the first Ephraim Godwin Chronicle Serial. It will be longer than a simple stand alone story so I will be releasing parts of the tale every Wednesday. Part 20 contains Chapter 39


CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE


Henry whispered the Lord's Prayer as he stomped through the undergrowth. He was quite convinced he was never stepping out of these woods again and expected if it wouldn't be better for the Baron to find him. Well, maybe it's not that bad. His arm ached at the thought of the Baron.


The vicar slowed as laughter and hushed voices floated on the wind. He squatted next to a thick oak and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Henry strained to hear what was being said or if he recognized any of the voices. Drat, nothing. Biting his bottom lip he crept forward.


As Henry slipped closer the voices grew clearer and he realized he was listening to three women. He paused by a group of bushes and peeked through the foliage. His breath caught as the three young women came into focus.


All three had hair of gold that hung well past their waists. Two floated in the middle of a modest-sized pond, and the third lay on the sandy beach across from him. They spoke of the cool water and the warm sun as the vicar's cheeks flushed hot in embarrassment. Standing he cleared his throat to announce his presence.


Screams of surprise and shock slipped past the ladies' lips as they turned to face the vicar. He kept his head down, eyes focusing on the sheen of the pond's still water. He shook his head, hoping the motion would remove what he witnessed before standing.


"My apologies...ladies," he called out. "I am quite lost and when I heard voices only hoped for salvation. It was not my intent to witness...your glory."


One of the ladies snickered before saying, "Oh it's only the vicar."


Henry's cheeks grew hotter, but he now wondered if it was from the continued embarrassment or anger. Only the vicar indeed!


"Give us a moment," another voice called out, followed by more giggles and whispers.


Henry's back grew straighter, and he took a deep breath as the need to confront these wild women grew. A buzz filled his ears before a weight landed on his shoulder. A soft hand touched his neck and he jolted in surprise. More buzzing filled the air and Henry's jaw slipped open.


"Sorry vicar," the woman, now only four inches tall, said as she hovered in front of him. "We didn't realize you were about. How may we help you?"


A second tiny woman flew up next to the first and spun around, flinging the last of the pond water from her skin and hair. He watched in amazement as the two hovered waiting for his answer.


"Well?" a third voice said from his shoulder. Henry slowly turned his head, knowing what to expect but still completely flustered to find a diminutive woman on his shoulder.


She offered a sly smile and wink before stepping off and flying towards the others. With wide eyes, he stared at the women hovering before him.


"Good Lord," Henry finally said sitting back down behind the bushes. I've obviously struck my head. Hopefully, I'll wake soon. The buzzing grew in volume as the three floated over the bushes and landed before him.


The figure in the middle shimmered as she said, "Vicar you have a choice. We stay this size and are covered, or we grow larger but show off our...glory."


He shook his head and sighed. Henry closed his eyes for a moment, opening them to peek at the three before closing them once again.


"No, this is fine," he said finally, his voice barely above a whisper. "I need to know how to escape these woods and find my way back home."


The three giggled and began to whisper. Henry peeked once again finding them pointing in all different directions while they argued. Finally, the one from his shoulder took front and center.


"Vicar, we have no idea," she said as she pointed behind Henry. "But he might be able to help."


A large hand gripped his shoulder and lifted Henry into the air. Vicar struggled to free himself slapping and clawing at the hand. His captor shook the vicar until he calmed down and dangled in the air like a rag-doll.


"Well, look who found some of my children," a voice said before issuing a booming laugh.


His captor spun Henry around, pulling him up to be face-to-face. Henry's bowels turned to jelly as the tallest man he'd ever seen held him in one hand. Huge antlers grew from his head, and with a closer inspection, Henry believed the giant's beard would be moss. Eyes the color of the earth looked him over, and Henry had one thought before slumping unconscious.


At least he's not the Baron.


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