Not long ago, a young man of the Riverfolk went to visit his cousins in the Wood. Because he had come such a long way, and because his Woodfolk cousin had just learned the trade of hunting, they decided to go with some of their friends into the Wood, to swim in a beautiful pool and also to test their courage. Three young men and two young women set out on that day.
They set out for the pool, which was quite far from their village. They walked for a long time.
“I am tired,” said one of the young men. “Let us take a nap.” The others realized they were tired as well, and so each found a comfortable spot and rested their heads.
But the Riverman could not sleep, because the Wood was strange and frightful to him. “I am being foolish,” he said to himself. “This is nothing but a forest, and these are nothing but trees.” So to screw up his courage, the Riverman decided that he would leave the small clearing he and the others had found.
He took one step, and nothing happened.
He took two steps, and nothing happened.
He took three, and four, and five steps, and still nothing happened. “What a great fool I was!” he said, laughing. “I will hide and scare my friends. Then they will think that we Riverfolk are much better than Woodfolk.” So the young Riverman found the crook of a large tree root, and laid down beyond it. From his hiding spot, he could no longer see his friends back in the clearing, but he heard one of them snoring.
But as the Riverman waited for his friends to wake, he caught a familiar scent drifting through the air. “That smells just like the pies my mother bakes!” And since the Wood held no fear for him, and since he remembered the way back to his friends in the clearing, he decided to see where the smell had come from.
He wandered toward the smell until he came to a cottage with the sun kissing its roof here and there. A garden lay beside it, and smoke was rising from the chimney. An old woman stood in the doorway, holding a great pie. Her eyes met the Riverman’s, and he walked into the cottage with her.
“Might I trouble you for a piece of your pie?” Said the Riverman. “Of course, my dear.” Replied the old woman, and she put a slice on a plate for him.
The Riverman ate, but he didn’t notice that with each bite he grew much fatter. Soon he was so fat that he couldn’t stand, and the old woman laughed a cruel laugh. “You are mine now, to do with as I please.”
“But my friends will come and rescue me!” The Riverman wailed. “One is a hunter with keen eyes, and another is a wise woman in her village!”
But the woman just laughed all the more cruelly. “The tracking eyes of your hunter will do him no good, and no wisdom in the world can teach where I am. You are mine, and the Elves are coming.”
Much later, the Woodfolk awoke in the clearing and wondered where their friend had gotten off to. A few thought to go separate ways and find him, but the hunter said “To walk the Wood alone is foolish. We will look for him together, but we must be back in the village by nightfall.” The others knew the stories of werewolves and evil things, and the thought made them shudder.
So they left the clearing to search for the boy. The hunter used the best of his tracking skills, but he only lead them in large circles. “He must be following our tracks, too. We will wait for him here.”
And while they waited, the wise woman thought of the stories she had heard. “I cannot think of where he might be. It is like a riddle that I used to know, but have forgotten.”
They sat and thought for a long time, until suddenly a troll came crashing from the Wood and scattered them. Each fled a separate way, and by the time the sun had set only the wise woman had made her way back to the village. The others were never found again.