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The Hunt

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Tamara is many things. But she is not a person of absolute love. When the king decides he needs an assassin at his disposal there is a competition. He will chose the last man standing. Everyone else must die. Tamara gets chosen to be in this competition for one reason and one reason only. Her hunting skills. She is not a killer, but when its her families lives at stake with she have what it takes or will she fail, and die with the other competitors.

Fantasy / Romance
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

The wind kissed her back, its icy breeze a comfort to the numbness she has come to know. For years she has hunted in these woods, waiting for the unlikely prey to show itself in this miserable snow-covered forest. From her post in a tall pine, she shifts her legs to try and bring some feeling back into them. She doesn’t know how long she has been kneeling in the tree, only that she must catch something tonight, anything or her family will starve within the week.

She decided that it was time to stalk the grounds for a while, increase her odds of catching something. Climbing down from the post her too thin arms gave out and she fell, landing on her side. Her limbs protest as she tries to rise from the ground. She hadn’t fallen far, but the impact on the frozen ground made it harder to shake off. She knew if she looked there would be bruises already.

Limping away, she follows old tracks of what could be a wolf or a coyote. She would keep her distance and make sure to open her ears to all the sounds around her, because if it was a wolf, it wouldn’t be alone, and she would be dead in seconds. Shredded by those deadly claws and fangs. Coyotes would be more manageable, even if they ran in pacts, they weren’t big enough to shred her in seconds she would be able to run and find something to climb up on.

Hearing a noise, she ducks down out of sight and draws her bow. She only has 5 arrows, that’s all she could afford after the wealth of her father ran out years ago. She had taught herself to hunt by trial and error. If she had missed her family wouldn’t eat that night and she would take notes on how to become better. And now she was able to hit almost anything, if given the time and correct amount of space or lack of it.

Standing from her crouch on the ground she peers over a thick shrub and spots a deer. It’s not too thin yet, a good meal for days. Taking her stance, she pulls back an arrow. Her eyes focused on where she needs to hit so she can salvage more than needed. The hide could be used to sell, and the meat. The precious meat could be dried and used to up to a week, while she waited for another kill. Letting the arrow fly she hit her mark and the beast dropped the snow riddled ground.

Walking over to the unfortunate beast she ripped the arrow from its body and got ready for the long and grudging walk back to the hut where her family was waiting. She hauled the deer over her shoulders and started walking. Her legs shaking and protesting the whole way. With the hut in sight, she dropped the deer and kicked the ice that started matting against her boot off and walked inside. The house was warmed by a fire in the hearth, where her father sat staring into nothing. Her sister sat over on the chair next to the only window in the entire house staring at the world outside. Not daring to move from her spot to help or even look at her.

“Did you catch anything or just come home empty handed like usual?”

“Go outside and look for yourself, or better yet Clarice, go hunting and see if it’s as easy as you think it is.” I say coldly.

“I’m not going out there and sitting on my ass all day waiting for something to come around so I can show it mercy and come home to my starving family and say I’m sorry.” She spits at me.

“No, you would rather sit on your ass here and wait for some lord to notice you and hope he thinks your beautiful enough to marry.”

“Enough,” speaks father, his voice hoarse from who knows what, “Clarice you know that Tamara does a lot of us, speak kindly to her and help her prepare for whatever she has brough us. Be grateful that she has all these years, or we would be wolf food.”

I roll my eyes and start walking into my room, I share it with Clarice because there is only one room in the god forsaken hut, while father lays in the cot by the fire that he never leaves.

“Get the knives ready. I will be out in a minute to prepare the beast.” Is all I say as I slam the door and undress myself, scattering them across the floor. She had been right, the fall left blue and black bruise along the right side of her body. She rubbed her aching body, and put her hand over her hollow stomach.

Going back into the living area she sees her knives ready and laid across the table. The only time that Clarice ever listened was when father asks her to do something, she didn’t care weather or not Tamara lived or died, it wouldn’t even affect her. She has high hopes that a noble lord will show up one day and take her back with him wherever he lived, and she would again be dressed in the finest gowns and have the most expensive jewelry there was adorning her neck.

Her looks hadn’t gone away with the hunger, in fact her looks were still deadly. There was no doubt that she would one day find herself a noble man to marry, maybe not a lord, but a noble man. One that would provide for her and deal with her attitude so Tamara would no longer have too.

Tamara takes her knifes and goes outside and starts skinning the beast that lay before her. Taking her time to make the right cuts and slices so she could salvage the hide and the meat. Once the hide was discarded off the carcass she started on the meat. Careful not to puncture the stomach and spill the contents inside of it on the meat, destroying it for future use.

Taking the contents back inside she hands the meat off to her father to cook for the meal. They didn’t have any spices but being that they were starving that didn’t bother them at all.

No one talked during the meal, there was just the sound of chewing. Tamara didn’t look up from her plate and didn’t take more to eat as her body felt happy and stiff with satisfaction. She stood from the table without saying a word and walked to the room. Laying down she couldn’t feel anything but tired. A long day frozen in the woods will do that to you. She wondered what it would have been like to still have money, to not struggle so much.

She was only a girl when her father’s fortune was taken from them. Lost to a man that bet to much, her father never lost confidence with the bet, had thought he was the best. But he was wrong, he had bet their money and home, and had lost it all.

He only had the money that was in his pocket, the jewels that were around her mother’s neck and their finest clothes. We sold those of course for some extra money and saved all that we had. The rest of the money ran out when she was ten years old. She used the last of the money on an old bow and some arrows. That’s when she started learning how to hunt.

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