It’s cold. Winter is setting in; there’s a chill in the air that sends shivers running down my spine. Soon the snows will come and make my task all the more laborious, and the spoils of such less frequent.
I crouch in the undergrowth and carefully take in my surroundings; all around me are trees shedding their golden leaves in preparation for their great slumber, grand arms spread wide, almost welcoming. There’s barely a sound here in the forest, save for the gentle whispering of the wind and the rustling of insects among the autumnal debris of the forest floor.
I hold my breath, steadying myself, waiting for the right moment to make my move. Then it happens; an almighty crash bringing the forest to panicked life as a giant stag darts out from behind a colossal oak, desperate to escape the impending threat.
I spring forward, deftly weaving among the trees in hurried pursuit, but it’s a quick beast and makes ground rapidly. I struggle to keep up, and in pressured foresight, chance upon which direction the stag will make, cutting across to my left in order to intercept.
Nimbly I unsling the bow that adorns one shoulder, and sweep an arrow from the quiver on my back. It’s a difficult skill to shoot on the run, so I have to think quickly; I must judge the trajectory without fault, as I will likely not get another shot at it. My eyes rapidly flit from tree to tree ahead of the stag, searching for the right spot to aim at.
The stag suddenly diverts from the course I’d expected it to take, forcing me to re-evaluate my targeting, and the moment comes where thought is useless and instinct is everything. I draw the bow, and slowly breathe in. Holding it in, to quell the shaking of my hands, I let fly.
Time slows almost to a standstill in that moment, and the only sound I can hear is that of my own heart thumping rhythmically, accelerated by the exertion and thrill of the chase. I watch the arrow fly true, passing the trunk of an elegant beech by a hair’s breadth, and it looks almost as if it is floating, guided by an invisible hand. The spirits are with me, I believe.
And then comes the sickening thud of iron arrowhead embedding itself in dense flesh as the arrow lodges itself in the stag’s hulking flank. The silence of my heartbeat increasing further in the sheer exhilaration of success as I forego all caution and hurry over to the fallen beast. It pants heavily, fighting the pain and the devastation that now ravages its immune system.
I crouch down, placing a calming hand upon its great head, whispering a mantra passed down from grandfather to father to son to pacify the beast in its final moments. It responds, its breathing becoming less of a struggle, and expels its last as I thrust a rudimentary dagger deep into its neck, severing the jugular.
I continue whispering for some moments after the stag’s death, eyes closed in contemplation. Thanking the spirits of the forest for providing me with this bounty, for providing my people with sustenance. I take no pride in the kill; of relieving another of its life; yet this is my job, and to that I must stay true.
I am a hunter, and provide I have done.
- pseudoperfection said: I got a snippet of the Collin’s kind of imagery. I guess I miss Hunger Games. Such a talented friend you are friend, for writing this, and for perking a dismal fascination with the series again.
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