It was an early morning in the summer of 471, when Cadry and Melkin snuck out from the Tisbury longhouse with their bows. They had decided that they would go hunting together the night before since Melkin once more had missed out on the last hunt because of a fever. Wanting to be more like his step-brother Melkin had begged Cadry to take him, so that he could practice without feeling self-conscious about his skills, and Cadry had promised he would try to show Melkin a few of the tricks he learned from Corwyn.
As they reached the forest Melkin stopped hesitantly. He was not as used to the forest as his brother and this morning there was a haze lying ominously between the trees that discouraged him. Caudry turned to him and said:
“Come now little brother, you can’t always stay at home when they want you to. You are going to be lord of a manor one day and then you can’t just let people tell you what to do.”
Taking the hand of his foster brother Cadry started walking into the forest along familiar trails where only Cellydons and animals usually roamed. The mists usually lingered in the forests and this morning was no different. The boys walked in silence until they reached a clearing where an old stone circle rested. The stones always gave Cadry the shivers. He couldn’t remember lying hidden underneath the dying priestess Meleri with both her blood and the blood of a saxon warrior covering his face and hands, but deep down something always stirred as if to acknowledge and remind him of the life that was given. It was an unsettling feeling. He turned around to look at his brother and saw that Melkin had grown pale. It wasn’t his usual look of sickness or that he had seen too little sunlight this spring because of the reoccurring fever. This was fear.
Melkin pulled Cadry down into the grass behind the rune-stone and drew his dagger.
“There’s something walking in the edge of the glade,” he said with a tremble to his voice.
With their hearts beating heavily the two boys peeked around the stone. There, as Melkin had said, stood a tall strange creature barely visible in the mist. Its limbs seemed to unnaturally long and it swayed slowly back and forward as a snake looking for pray. The only thing that was clearly visible was the red cap worn upon its head.
“What is it?” whispered Melkin still clutching his knife tightly. “It can’t be the…” he stopped himself and looked at Cadry.
Cadry seemed to have frozen completely and didn’t respond. He couldn’t take his eyes of the squat, hideous figure that was sniffing the air. The figure kept rubbing his head that was covered in a brownish red cap. Finally he whispered:
“The Redcap!” A great terror awoke in Cadrys heart and he stared frantically at Melkin, feeling the need to run but realizing that that would mean leaving his brother behind. “He is going to kill us and dye his hat with our blood”. Melkin, being the more thoughtful of the two brothers, started looking for a idea of how they were going to escape this terrible monster if they couldn’t outrun it.
Melkin tried not to let his own fear and the panic in Cadry’s eyes distract him from thinking as he scanned the glade. They could not run, he decided looking back at the tall figure outside of the stone circle, so they had to try and fool it. He looked down at his knife and then back up at Cadry.
“Give me your arm,” he whispered suddenly. “Don’t scream.”
As he cut his brother, Cadry’s eyes went wide, but he did not utter any sound or complaint. Melkin took off his knitted hat a pressed it towards the wound.
“If we color our hats like its’,” he whispered, “maybe it will assume us to be some sort of brethren. Now cut me!”
When Cadry cut him, Melkin couldn’t help but to draw breath between gritted teeth at the sharp pain in his arm letting out a wheezing sound. Both their hats dyed with the blood from the others arm, the boys rose as quietly as they could while staring towards the middling shape of the redcap. The faerie caught some scent or other as the wind, in a stroke of evil luck turned, and brought the smell of fresh blood. He stared at the two small shapes in the distance among the tendrils of mist and seemed to hesitate. The two kinsmen clearly carried their hats and they clearly smelled of blood from other creatures yet there was something off about the situation.
Cadry nudged Melkin with his elbow as he raised his other hand in greeting, as if to indicate that Melkin should do the same. His stomach turned ice as he saw that the creature hestitantly waved back. Cadry quickly yet carefully grabbed his brother by the arm and started walking away from the murderous faerie. Both boys could see the shape of the redcap linger and they could swear that it was looking at them as if to remember them if he should ever meet them again. When the boys couldn’t see the redcap anymore they set of in a wild run back towards Tisbury with blood on their hands and blood on their hats. Having returned home and having told their tale to their foster father the boys received a harsh beating both for sneaking of without permission and above all for lying. Corwyn told the boys that if they had truly run into the redcap they would both be dead and dinner rather that sitting on a bench and spinning tall tales. The boys told their friends Maelgwyn and Gammond what they had seen but their friends seemed to doubt the story since Cadry and Melkin gave completly different descriptions of the faerie. The only things they could agree upon was that they had seen it and that it wore a red bloody cap.