It was the end of the summer. Jenny knew this not just from the creaking coming from her ageing bones but also from the stiff breeze that had brought the grand oak tree in which she had made her home to life. She gazed out into the forest, letting her mind wander a little whilst she scrubbed away at the large cast iron cauldren which an hour before had filled her house with the wonderful smell of boiling fruit.

Something flickered between the trees catching her attention. She paused for a moment in her chores and focused in its direction. There it was again. A silver flash against the forest greenery. Something was out there skulking around and Jenny had a fair idea what, and who, it was.

“If thats that stupid badger I’ll ‘ave him” she muttered to herself as she grabbed her sword from its place by the door and marched outside.

The wind was steadily strengthening, picking up loam and leaves to hurl across the forest floor. It ripped into her white tousel fur threatening to knock her off her feet as she stomped her way to the centre of the clearing.

“Ollie if thats you, show yourself”. Jenny shouted out against the wind. A rustle in the undergrowth over to the left but no badger appeared.

“Ollie, come on out. I know you’re in there”. Silence boomed out across the forest. Even the wind seemed to have died down to nothing more than a murmer.

Jenny surveyed the forest around her. She could no longer see any indication of something being out there.

“Foolish woman” she berated herself. “Jumping at shadows and leaves. What next? Are we to start talking to ourselves? They lock you up for that”.

“You’re right”. A snarl came from behind her. Startled she spun round, sword at the ready. “They do lock you up but oh my dear, you won’t have to worry about that. No. You won’t have to worry about that at all”.

Jenny backed away slowly with her guard up. She still couldn’t see the source of the voice but at least she had an idea where it was. “Whoever this creature is, its a master at camouflage” she mused. She slowly circled, scanning every inch of the forest around her for any tell-tale signs of where the source of the snarl might be hiding.

“Come on out. Show yourself” She called out to her opponent. She was trembling now, anxious for the fight to begin so she could get it over with. Every fibre of her being was screaming at her but she still couldn’t spot her quarry.

The undergrowth transformed around Jenny as half a dozen pack-rats shed their camouflage and advanced slowly towards her. Saliva dripped from their foaming mouths causing their teeth to gleam ominously as the sunlight glinted off them.

Jenny sighed. This wasn’t going to be much of a fight and she knew it. She was getting on in years and arthritis had wormed its way through her body. “It’s been a good life” she said as she changed her stance from defence to attack. “Come on bilge scum” The fire in her voice was strong but they could probably sense it was mostly a front. “Lets do this”.

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