Golden Fox

The hunter was bathed by moonlight as he stalked through the forest. His long breaths shook his slender frame, and his body, only covered by a few cloths, tensed to quell his groaning stomach. There was a low growl just beyond the next bend. He tightened his grip on his spear and emerged thru the brush. In the opening was a fox that struggled to escape from a snare. He stopped at the sight of the hunter, spear posed to strike.

The snared animal spoke, coolly. “Why kill me?”

The hunter lowered his spear. “To eat, I must kill you so I can live.”

“You cannot fault neither you nor I for that,” the fox nodded.

In that instant the moonlight broke through the forest canopy and shone off the fox’s pelt. It was golden.

“What…are you?” the hunter asked. “Your fur…it glitters like the rock veins from the east river!”

“I am only a fox, but…” he calmly turned from the spear to his body. “My fur is gold. It will fetch you a mighty sum with the traders.”

The hunter’s stomach groaned loudly, and he aimed his spear at the golden fox. “Yes, it will!”

“Hungry?” the golden fox asked.

“What?” the hunter stopped mid-throw.

“If you sell my pelt, you may eat for a few months. But if I take you to my clan, and spare me, with their pelts you will never need to worry about eating again…”

The hunter stared at the golden fox. “How can I trust you?”

“You cannot. But if you think this is a trick, you can always kill me.”

The hunter freed the golden fox and leashed him. The two ventured deeper into the forest, to a place where the moonlight did not shine. The golden fox, now black in the shadows, stopped just before a large cave. It looked like an abyss.

“There,” the golden fox pointed with his nose.

The hunter did not take three steps into the cave before a massive paw swiped his feet from under him. With another powerful swing his spear was splintered. He was trapped beneath a hulking bear.

“This was a trap!” the hunter yelled at the golden fox. “I hunt because I need to eat! You cannot fault me for that!”

“And you cannot fault me,” the golden fox began to walk away. “But you did not come to this cave for that.”

The hunter’s screams were drowned out by the bear’s roar before the dark forest returned to silence once more.