#FridayFlash: The Hunt, Part One

The Hunt, Part One

The summer was waning and the cooler air of autumn had already settled in the forests of the north. Wrapped in a heavy wool cloak and armed with the longbow he had made long before his arms had the strength to draw it, Admund had taken to the wilderness shortly after dawn. Fog hung above the ground, wrapping the trees and underbrush in a cool mist that would surely burn off before too long. He followed the Daen River west, until the elms and beech trees grew thick.

Admund was certain he was alone—at least, that is, if he did not count the hart that he had been tracking. Through a break in the trees, Admund watched the beast pause by the edge of the river. The hart drank, stopping once to sniff the air. Admund knew he was downwind of the creature—years of experience on the hunt had made avoiding detection second nature—so he knew there was no reason to fear discovery. He slowly drew one of the broadhead arrows from the quiver that hung from his belt. Keeping his eyes on the hart, Admund nocked the arrow and drew the string, taking silent aim.

He was about to release the arrow when the hart lifted its head once more, ears twitching, and bounded across the river and into the thicket on the far side. Admund swore at his misfortune. It was then that the sounds of horses intruded upon the otherwise silent morning.

Having lost his quarry, Admund turned his attentions to the approaching sounds. He was deep in the forests of Aradorn, over a full day’s journey from the nearest city or village and far from even the least-traveled roads. It was possible that they were simply travelers who had lost their way in the pre-dawn hours. It was, he decided, equally possible that they were bandits or highwaymen.

They came from the west, from the direction of the coast. A single courser and rider led the way, followed by three older draft horses pulling a large enclosed wagon. About half a dozen men walked beside and behind the wagon. The men were large and brutish, the product of long lives of hard work. They had leathery, sun-bronzed skin and black hair that they wore in either long braids or ponytails. Golden hoops adorned their ears and noses and curved, broad-bladed swords hung at their sides. Several of them bore large tattoos on their necks and exposed arms.

The rider wore brightly-colored silks under tarnished, mismatched pieces of plate armor; his men, however, were all dressed in homespun, leathers, and buckskin. They appeared to be corsairs, similar to those who raided the islands and coastlines of the southern kingdoms. However, corsairs rarely ventured this far north, especially with Woten longships crewed by bloodthirsty, battle-hardened marauders regularly sailing the frigid waves of the Northern Sea.

Corsairs also rarely ventured this far inland. They were currently several leagues from the coast and seemingly intent on journeying even further into the forest. And that wagon. Something about it gnawed at the pit of Admund’s stomach, an instinctual reaction that he had long ago learned to heed. Of simple construction, but with a single door built into the side that was secured with a heavy wooden bolt.

“By Kernow’s bow.” They weren’t corsairs, after all. They were— “Slavers.”

* * * * *


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7 responses to “#FridayFlash: The Hunt, Part One

  1. Ooh, I want to read more. I love how you describe everything so well, and you take me back to a time that I can barely imagine, a time when people are few(er) and scattered. I can hardly think what it must be like to be all alone “far from even the least-traveled roads”. That something so once normal could now seem so magical . . . Great job, Dan!

  2. Uh, oh. Looks like trouble’s coming. Intriguing start. 🙂

    CD

  3. Compelling stuff, as I’ve come to expect from you. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  4. I may be confused, but shouldn’t he have been downwind of the hart, rather than upwind? Of course, I have been known to get my right hand mixed up with my left hand.

    Barb Relyea

  5. Thanks, guys.

    Barb: yes, you’re right. Gah! And I diagrammed it out and everything.

  6. Beautiful descriptions here, of both his hunt and the strangers. Curious to see what happens next 🙂

  7. Very different tone from what you did last week. The pacing and overall flow has a much more “novel-like” prose as opposed to the short story-like piece you did. As a result my biggest complaint is simply… I want more. I have an idea of the story and the character and now I just want to see where you are going with it.

    In regards to the writing, you once again do a decent job of not over-writing. I dont have ADD, but I get bored reallyyyyy quickly so the fact that I didn’t end up skimming or skipping ahead says alot about the actual writing.

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