25 Days of Writing – The Hunt

This scene is not an actual specified scene from the 25 Days of Writing challenge, but I wrote it with the same characters that I’m using there. This was written long hand in my personal notebook/journal whilst I was in Utah accompanying my father on an elk hunt. N*Joy!

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Trey stepped quietly along the forested trail, looking around for sign that his quarry had be through recently. Overnight, he had heard the eerie wail of the bull elk, and he was determined to fell one this morning for the Spring Sowing Feast. He stepped cautiously, trying to hide his grimace each time he bore weight on his injured right leg. Only four weeks prior had he been stabbed in the thigh, a wound that became infected and very nearly took his life. They knew that it was only by God’s grace, and the actions and care of that curious woman Hanna, that he still lived and walked. He also knew that he pressed his luck by attempting this strenuous hunt so soon, but it was imperative that he show his resolute strength, lest the people question his leadership.

A clunking noise in the woods to his right caught his attention. He looked back at Karrick, directly behind him on the trail, and further back at Hanna who brought up the rear. Both Karrick and Hanna had stopped and were staring intently into the woods. More clunks and now crashing emanated from the woods. Large hooved animals were moving through the trees below the hunting party. Trey glanced at his followers again and his eyes met those of Hanna. She looked away swiftly, turning her attention once again to the sounds below.

Karrick moved closer to Trey. “Winded us,” he said glumly.

Trey sighed. “Keep going?” he asked. Karrick was the most respected hunter and tracker in Herongarde. Karrick had served King Anthony of Herongarde for nearly twenty years, not as Mark-bearer, but as keeper of the gates and portcullis of Herongarde. Kerrick was also the King’s first hunter – a personal guide to the King when called upon, and also charged with felling appropriate prey whenever ceremonies and festivals called for it. Trey would always follow Karrick’s instruction when it came to catching his quarry.

This trip was like most other hunting trips. Trey had often accompanied Karrick on trips, even a child, learning from Karrick’s example as he stalked his prey. Karrick would give Trey the first opportunity to kill the beast, but if Trey were unsuccessful, Karrick would take aim and finish the beast nearly every time. Karrick was an excellent teacher.

Karrick nodded at Trey’s disappointment. “We’ll continue on, my Lord,” said Karrick. “I believe a bull to be proud of will be found further on.”

“Aye,” muttered Trey. He looked again beyond Karrick at Hanna. She stood, still scanning the forest and listening. “On then,” said Trey louder, so Hanna could hear. Their eyes met again and she nodded.

“Aye, my Lord,” she agreed softly.

Trey looked to Karrick and nodded. Karrick looked back at Hanna, and she nodded. Karrick turned back to Trey and said, “Lead on, my Lord.” The quiet march through the forest began again.

It was unusual for a woman to accompany any hunting party, except perhaps at a hunting camp. Karrick had been annoyed and concerned when Trey told him this woman would be coming along. Trey had explained that Hanna’s presence was necessary, for she was responsible for the continued care of his leg injury. Every morning and every night, Trey’s thigh and knee were bandaged and wrapped, to promote healing of the wound and to prevent further injury.

Trey knew full well that he would not be able to walk at all, were it not the the skillful and supportive care of his leg by the woman Hanna. Her care had made it possible for him to appear to recover quickly, to prevent doubt of his ability to lead his people during this time of war. The people of Herongarde, indeed all of the Mark-bearers as well, knew of his wound, but very few knew of the extent of the injury. At any other time, he might have lain abed for weeks. As it was, he was up and walking after only five days. It was imperative that he not seem so severely injured. The ruse was working.

Trey also knew that the woman came along as part of her other assigned duties – duties known only to himself, Hanna, the King and Queen, and Lord Gilbert. She was charged with the defense of Trey’s life, with her own life if necessary, should the need arise. Such a task was usually assigned to another Mark-bearer, but none could be spared at this time of war. Trey was confident that she could do this duty, and felt safe in her care, but no others could know of this duty unless it could not be avoided.

Karrick did not know, and had no need to know. Trey simply assured Karrick that Hanna’s presence was necessary, and that the woman could carry her own weight and would not be a hindrance to the hunt. Thus far, his assurance had been borne out. The woman was having no problem carrying a pack laden with her own necessities and the supplies needed to care for Trey. Hanna was also proving herself to be useful on the hunt, by noticing the sounds and other signs of their quarry, that sometimes Karrick or Trey missed. Karrick seemed impressed by this, and Trey was grateful that Hanna was not holding them up.

They continued on in silence, walking perhaps another mile. Trey heard Karrick stop behind him, and looked back. From the intent lo0ks upon their faces, it was clear to Trey that both Karrick and Hanna had heard something that he had missed. Hanna pointed in a direction slightly to the left of their direction of travel, and looked at Karrick. Karrick nodded agreement. Trey looked off in the direction she was pointing, and finally heard the distant, eerie call of the elk.

Karrick stepped up beside Trey. “Your woman has good ears,” he said to Trey softly. Trey looked at Karrick, with a slight smile. “That sounds like a fine bull, if we can circle it before it winds us,” Karrick continued.

Trey’s smile broadened. “Aye, Karrick. I shall let you lead, then,” said Trey.

“Aye, my Lord. We’ll get the beast,” said Karrick as he moved past Trey.

Trey looked back at Hanna, who was still listening intently toward the source of the sound. The cry came again, and she pointed with a smile on her face. He eyes met Trey’s and he felt a smile crossing his own lips. “Come on then, woman,” he said cheerily, though quietly. He motioned her to follow and they carried on through the forest.

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