Samhain Blessings. Today there will be a fantastic Wild Hunt procession in Glastonbury town.
This story is about the Wild Hunt witnessed by Ambrose Gilpin in October 1539, a snippet from my novel about Richard Whiting the Last Abbot of Glastonbury. An historic fairy tale of sorts.
I have just finished writing the last chapter and I am looking for 10 volunteer readers who will give me honest critique. Please let me know if you would like to read it in advance.
Ambrose last rode this way on All Saint’s Eve when he was caused by the beauty of that afternoon to ride further than he intended. Before he knew it, he had reached Cleabarrow.
The sky had been clear all of that day, but as he climbed the crag to look out over the valley the orange of the setting sun was suddenly chased out by a sudden storm cloud. A severe chill came upon him and he stood there shivering as the wind whipped up in the trees. The sky unsettled to a deep thunderous rumble.
He fancied that he saw moss covered maidens emerging from the trees! Devilish imps and all manner of nature spirits rising up from the land. He tried to shake those visions from his head, but could not, neither could he run, nor frozen in terror could he hide. He covered his eyes. Still he could not shut it out, for he heard a howl so full of dread!
The primal roar rumbled his chest and shook him to the core of his being, then the clatter of horse hooves. The blast of a horn sounded that would raise the dead to walking. And so it did!
He should not have looked, but he dropped his hands from his face and opened his eyes, fearful that a mighty army was coming. There came a great black boar tearing through the trees heading right for him. He rolled over a tree root to avoid the huge beast. It rattled right past, not hesitating in its charge.
Blackened clouds rolled out to the horizon and an even greater terror followed. A wild and gruesome cavalcade!
Fierce white hounds led the hunt. Hounds with pointed ears of bloody red that had surely come from hell, followed by numerous ghost like warriors on black horses. Huge and terrible. They came tearing through the clouds, the thunder of their hooves rumbling, though they rode some distance above the ground.
It distressed Ambrose to remember that day because he heard the baying of those hounds, he still heard it, the noise had frequently woken him in the night!
He shivered to recollect these things now. One month on and his body still remembered the terror he felt then.
Dominating the scene was the most glorious golden light. He would have thought it heavenly were it not for the menacing scene surrounding it. There in the light arose a terrible giant riding on the largest stallion that he had ever seen. The horse had the sickly hue of a corpse. The giant’s face was encrusted with white chalky paint, the cracks in the paint showing black beneath. His bloodshot eyes fixed on Ambrose as the magnificent horse reared up.
The giant held aloft a burning torch that lit the bottom of the clouds bright red as if a great fire burned through the forest. By the light of the flame Ambrose could see black ravens, owls and other air spirits flying in and out of the smoke, that by their appearance defied nature .
The riders clawed out with brutish hands to tear these otherworldly spirits from the land and sky. They dragged the moss covered maidens into the throng, whipped up the imps from the trees and struck at the air sylphs. Still, with all the chaos and savagery, the party remained in pursuit of the wild boar!
Ambrose knew the old superstition that death would come to those who witnessed the Wild Hunt and he had heard the baying of those hounds. He watched to see the harbinger of his death rear up. Then, out of the heaving mass of horror, another rider struck out. He held a spear above his head that glowed in the firelight as if the tip were aflame. He thrust it forward, it flew through the air and hit its mark. The mighty sable boar flailed against the pain of the shot, turned to charge and then, with an almighty crash, slumped to the earth.