The Unquiet Night
The Wild Hunt
Air and Nothingness Press 02/01/2021
The Wild Hunt occurs in European folklore and typically involves a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters passing in wild pursuit. The hunters may be elves, or fairies, or the dead, and the leader of the hunt is often a named figure associated with Odin, but may variously be a historical, legendary, or biblical figure, or an unidentified lost soul or spirit either male or female.
Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or, at best, the death of the one who witnessed it. People encountering the Hunt might also be abducted to the underworld or the fairy kingdom. In some instances, it was also believed that people’s spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.
Collected here are all new stories of the Wild Hunt incorporating its diverse mythology and drama.
The Wild Hunt features the stories:
Cycle of the White Hart by Hailey Piper
The Unquiet Night by Claire Davon
No Iron in Eden by Maria Schrater
Tomb For Two by Jan Rivers
The Wild Mouse Hunt by Evergreen Lee
A Voice Fleeing in the Wilderness by Buzz Dixon
Holda’s Road by Allyson Shaw
A-Wilding She Will Go by Paula Hammond
Into the Forest by Elliot Harper
Red Ears by Graeme Davis
Owl and Stag by Christine Aikens Wolfe
Harry the Nab and the Management Challenge by John P. Kenny
The End of Winter by Alicia Cay
The Sound of Their Beating Wings by Jamie Lackey
25 Minutes by asch
With One Eye, Bright as a Star by Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten
Raegen’s gnarled hands shook as she closed the shutters. While the villagers danced in the town square her grandson slept in the second room, dosed with a mixture of valerian and chamomile to ensure he remain calm this night.
She had not ridden with Perchta for over three decades, but she would not forget her time in the Wild Hunt as a member of the Schiachperchten, those of the goddess’ retinue who wore frightening masks, tails and fearsome countenances to scare observers.
Perchta’s Schönperchten, her beautiful ones, traveled with their faces bare, needing no adornment. One of those stunning ones had been the cause of her leaving. It was foolhardy to covet Perchta’s chosen companion, but Raegen did. She had been lucky the goddess let her leave.
Raegen rested her head against the shutters. She had tried to warn the townsfolk, but to no avail. They ignored her—the witch. There was no offering set in the town square, no viands for the hungry Riders. No fish. No oats. Nothing to satisfy travelers, except at Raegen’s house. Worse, they had persecuted the women who spoke of old religions in this and other villages. Each woman slain was another insult to the ancient way, another slight to be avenged when the Old One returned.
Now she was here.
Raegen hurried to where her grandson slept and peered in. He rustled, his lips moving with haunted dreams. She had no doubt what they were. People recalled the Wild Hunt, if only in nightmares.
Human and bird calls filled the sky. Over the din Raegen recognized the voice of Perchta—her goddess. They circled for what seemed like an eternity, but was no more than a few minutes. If the villagers were lucky, Perchta would instruct her Riders to terrorize and not massacre.
“My Schönperchten, my Schiachperchten, ride through this village. I see into their hearts and they are black. Ride and do your worst. They have harried women and ruined the land. They will pay.”
The luck of her village had run out. Raegen would not witness the carnage, but she did not need to. She had been a part of such slaughter in her time with the Hunt, when the goddess was gravely insulted. This village had done worse than turn its back on the old ones in favor of new gods, it had persecuted those who believed. The preachers in the new religion had mocked the goddess in their churches, calling her wicked, and evil.
They were paying for those actions now.