Life as a hunter.
My life is hiding, hunting and being hunted.
I try to ignore the new cramp in my foot as I watch a group of men wander past. This is completely inconsiderate of them, they have no idea how long I have been waiting here – not for men but for food. They should seek death elsewhere.
I am sure they mean to escape death, not meet him, but I doubt their chances of success.
With swords drawn and darting gazes the men move as if something is about to jump out and grab them. From the looks of their rough clothing they could easily have run here from some other hardship. I’m in no danger from them, except perhaps of starvation if they keep scaring the wildlife away.
They stumble downstream not realising that my loaded arrow is aimed at them. Not that I’m planning on shooting one of them but they are food for something and I don’t want to be next. They continue around the corner but I don’t move, just waiting.
Pain strikes my ears. It feels like it is slicing right through them. The sound forces my body flat to the ground without any thought. Armoured Dragons.
I roll over, peering through the branches towards the sky.
Limbs are ripped from nearby trees. Making the ground shake, or that could be the oversized beasts trying to take flight. I can’t exactly see them. Just a flash of black wing or heavy hide plating. And a leg missing its owner.
My heart’s pounding, the kind of faltering, racing beat that only just signals I’m alive. If those men had still been standing in front of me, and that Dragon had sung over the top of me, my insides would be mush now.
Everything is silent, then slowly the sound of my breathing overtakes the ringing.
A scream is growing on the edges of my hearing and it’s not the sound a man makes.
I hold my breath, waiting for another Armoured song.
I exhale but the sound is still there. Twisting, alert for the slightest impression that could mean someone is aiming an arrow at me, I pull my weight out from underneath the bramble and dash down the stream. Most likely a stupid direction, but the sound of a child crying is simply not something I can ignore.
The men didn’t have a child with them, but it’s not unusual for someone to escape slavery or the mines and seek refuge here.
I slip into the trees as the corner moulds into more twists and turns along the waterway.
The sound is high pitched and shrill but there’s nothing and no one to be seen. Not yet at least. My heart thumps harder. I have to find the source of the noise and stop it or I’ll be watching something else stop it. A few stupid dead men I can handle, innocent kids dying in front of me is completely different.
I dash through the trees, and freeze. A child lays clinging to the grass before me, a young boy of perhaps three. He looks at me, his lip is clamped between his teeth in his attempt to keep quiet.
Shhh. I touch my finger to my lips to make sure he stays that way.
Edging rather quickly towards him, past him, and towards the sound.
She’s only young, maybe a year old, and she’s curled in a ball on the grass. Her short blonde tussled and knotted hair is exactly the same as the boys – siblings. I reach into the grass, wrapping my hands around her bony body. The boy bounces off my side and launches himself at me again.
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