The mid-morning sun was barely peeking over the copse at the top of the rise, doing little to ease the chill of a late December day. The snow covered field swept majestically up to the hilltop where the naked trees formed a naturalistic crown fit to grace the head of some giant elven king. If such a king truly existed he has long since vanished from the world.
The beauty of the scene, be it factual or fanciful, was completely lost on The Fox. With her red coat a sharp contrast to the white of the snow her only thoughts were of survival; the baying of the ever closing hounds reminding her just how slim her chances were becoming. If only she could reach the top of the hill she might find somewhere to hide.
As she ran she thought of the change this winter had brought. After a hiatus lasting through five winters the scarlet-coated huntsmen and their hounds had taken up the scent once more. The world of politics was alien to her, she cared only that things had returned to how they were before. Unfortunately for The Fox that alteration, brought about by a transfer of power in a city far from her rural home, would be the death of her unless she could find a way to elude the pack.
The baying suddenly became louder, the hounds had broken through the hedgerow at the bottom of the hill; they could now see as well as smell their prey. Whimpering in fear The Fox made one final effort to reach the sanctuary of the tree line. Finally she made it, stumbling blindly between the trees, running madly for her life.
Ahead of her a shaft of sunlight stabbed through a break in the branches overhead. Like a sign from heaven it fell upon a tangled thicket of dense brush, somewhere she’d surely be safe. Even as a wave of new found hope broke upon her it was cruelly dashed aside as the first of the hounds leapt onto her back, its teeth ripping into her flesh.
The lead hound was quickly joined by its comrades, baying for her blood. Before they could tear her apart the master of the hunt also entered the fray. He barked an order to the pack, an order they instantly obeyed. The master was of a different species, his language was not their own, yet the hounds knew the response his command required. They outnumbered him thirty to one, they could kill him as easily as the unfortunate creature lying bloody and cowed at their feet, yet they deferred to his mastery.
Bleeding from a hundred different wounds The Fox took little pleasure from this temporary respite. Her once immaculate coat was all but torn away, red splashes of blood now stood out against the snowy ground instead. Through terrified eyes she saw the master of the hunt reach behind her, his own red coat resplendent in the sunlight. In one final indignity her beautiful tail was taken savagely from her, the physical pain matched by the mental hurt at its removal.
The leader of the hunt growled a new command at the hounds. They leapt in for the kill.
‘And in breaking news socialite and model, Rosie Cameron-Bonner, known to the media throughout the world as “The Fox”, was found dead today, apparently savaged to death by a pack of hounds. Police have described the body as being badly mutilated and surrounded by the torn remnants of her scarlet huntsman’s jacket. Her father, himself the master of a local hunt, confirmed through his solicitor that his own hounds were not involved as they were hunting elsewhere at the time, a meet that Miss Cameron-Bonner herself was due to attend but tragically she never arrived. Other hunts in the area have also been quick to plead the innocence of their packs, although it has come to light that more than ten hunts across the region have had a number of hounds escape over the last six months. Speculation that these hounds have combined into a feral pack have been thus far dismissed as “idle speculation”. More on that story in our bulletin at half past ten.’
The mid-morning sun was just peeking over the copse at the top of the rise, doing little to ease the chill of a late December day. At the edge of the trees sat a fox regally surveying the landscape laid out below, happy now the humans who had descended upon the area had finally retreated. Lying out of sight amid the undergrowth behind him were the hounds he had so recently come to master. From his mouth hung a thick ponytail of long blonde hair, one end of which still had the scalp attached, its bloody redness a sharp contrast to the yellow.
Author’s note: The Inspiration Point for this story is ‘Role-reversal’. I have saved mentioning this until now to hopefully keep you guessing to the end.