Silence. Zachariah crouched. The leather of his quiver formed a deep callous along his chest and shoulder. The hare stood on it’s hind legs and nibbled a clover in an opening in the woods. The sunlight poured out in the clearing like the wound on a dying soldier. Zachariah had seen a number of dying men in his short days. It had been eight years since the Final War was fought. With his brow furrowing with perspiration he took the shot. Missed by nearly two feet. The hare froze in place. So did the hair upon his neck. Perfect. A second shot would be easy picking. He used all his strength to pull back the hand made bow in preparation. He shoots. The hare goes down, tries to run, but can’t because his foot is pinned against his body. It writhes in pain and suffering. Zachariah snaps it’s neck ending it. If only a higher power could do the same for his people. He starts leaving the Shadowy Woods, where the bloody and bound body of Gracie Kesterson was found in 2012. He reaches the edge of the forest and can barely make out the castle on the horizon. As the sun begins to set the torches are guiding lights upon the horizon, just below Polaris. All of a sudden a creature, with a large hump jumps out of the darkness towards him. It’s Paul, Zachariah’s brother with his kill mounted across his broad shoulders as if it were a trophy on the wall above a fireplace crackling on this chilly evening.
He says, “Hey little bro, you should consider upgrading to the crossbow, get yourself some bigger game. Who all were you planning on feeding with that? A baby?” He laughs.
Zachariah responds, “No, just myself really. I prefer a quiet dinner alone in these hard times before winter.”
“Suit yourself brother. Mother’s not going to be very happy with you,” Paul says.
They join the march of the other hunters returning with snakes, deer, and rabbits. Paul’s catch is a buck with a rack of twelve points. Interesting coincidence since the annual Twelve Scholars meeting would fall under the following full moon. As the sun sets they press on towards the castle. Crunching of leaves until they reach pavement. Silence.