Chapter 1: The Hunt Begins

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 99

The soft wind blew across the skies. The forest was quiet, the hunting band moved stealthily through it. They wore the royal clothing of the Wymond house. Black tunics, breeches, and hard shin-high leather boots. The insignia on their right breast as well as the back of their left shoulder consisted of two sharp purified white stripes and a silver one, both behind a black elk skull and horns. They had thin, yet strong breastplates and armor on their shins, thighs, shoulders, hands, and forearm. But the helmets are what made these disciplined soldiers stand out profusely. The helmets were painted a thick black and had very minor slits on the front for eyes and breathing. The soldiers could see perfectly and had the protection of the greatest kind. What was the most interesting, however, was the white stripes on the cheekbone and above the eye that signified rank.

They moved skillfully through the brush and trees, watching for movement and anything to catch. The men made barely a sound, even their breath leveled. Suddenly, the man in the lead held his hand up in a fist. Everyone stopped. The hunting band held perfectly still and silent, watching their leader.

The arrow fletching touched the leader's cheek for only a second as he drew, aimed, and released in one fluid motion. He heard the soft thrum of the bow as his arrow flew straight and true at his target; a beautiful buck grazing in a field. Hit.

Nice.

"Let's round it up boys, it's getting dark. Let's head home." His voice was smooth and held a great amount of authority.

"Yes, sir," resounded from all the men as they jumped to work. They quickly wrapped up the golden-furred deer into a cloth, careful of its velvety horns. Slowly but surely they carried it back to the wagons. They worked in perfect unity, communicating well.

"Load it." The man commanded, running gloved palms through his golden-white hair as the men loaded the carcass on. "Good hunting today men."

Nods responded to him, some slapping each other on the back. 

"Lord Wymond. To home, I'm guessing?" The driver turned, doffing his cap. The dark-haired man turned at his name, his gold-silver eyes catching the driver.

"That's correct. Home." 

 

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The castle walls loomed out of the trees, its dark and uninviting look was amplified by the guards walking along the tops. The message was clear; don't even try. The stone had been specially covered and painted in coal dust mixed with oil. The lord of the castle, Lord Wymond had thought it up as an extra protection defense. Home. The gate creaked and groaned as it was lifted, the sharp points at the end glinting like hungry daggers.

Like every time that Christopher and his guards went out, the villagers were standing in crowds on either side of the road, waiting and watching as their lord liege came home. The men would respectfully nod their heads or hold the Wymond salute, hand curled into a fist, then covering the heart. Then women would curtsy, smiling and clapping their hands. All the children would clap, laugh, and excitedly wave their hands. Christopher would smile respectfully as he walked along with his wagon to his castle.

As he walked once again, though today without joy or a smile, he stared ahead, the clapping of the crowds died out as they saw his sullen face. They watched with confused faces as their lord walked purposely to his castle and disappeared inside, while never looking anywhere else. Something was off.

Christopher walked straight to the council room. He paced the length of the table whilst waiting for his officers. What was it? Why was it here, on my land? What was it...

The doors opened, and Colonel Timothy Fyte with Lieutenants Joshua Malan and Marcus Goode. "Sir?" The captain said. His blonde hair was freshened up, as was his uniform.

"Colonel, Lieutenants, thank you for coming upon such short notice," Christopher took a deep breath, remaining hesitant. "You all were there, you know why you are here. What I want to discuss is why the hell was the fire there, and why was it still warm?" The officers looked at each other, thinking, though Christopher knew they had no explanation. 

The lord recalled the strange scene. The dirt and foliage had been trampled and the obvious remains of travelers being there. The fire had been left, just ashes now. They were still warm when the hunting party found it. There hadn't been any further evidence that there had been individuals staying at the site. Christopher had left three of his guardsmen to investigate and return to the wagon before too long.

He was growing impatient. "Answer!" His words almost at a yell. The officers recoiled a bit. They all started speaking at once until it was a mashup of; "I thon't itow, miybe haeen...." 

"ONE. AT. A. TIME. Colonel, speak."

"Yes, sir, s-sorry sir." The colonel stumbled over his words ever so slightly. He rarely heard his lord yell or get angry. "I think that the fire might have been from travelers, but that wouldn't make sense, they could have just come here or made it to one of the other villages... Or it could be some kind of......." Fyte hesitated, his words fading out until his jaw was left open, nothing coming out.

"Badger got your tongue, or are you just trying to catch flies, captain?" Christopher stared at his colonel, "Lieutenant Malan, anything?"

"N-n-no sire, my lord, uh, sir. I haven't the slightest idea."

"Fine then, Goode got anything for me?" Christopher was getting increasingly annoyed by the second.

"Yes, sir, I think I might have a possible answer." The confident lieutenant stood straighter, coming to a position of attention. "Sir, the fire could be something like what Colonel Fyte said, possibly travelers. My thought was that... well, we know that political tensions have been exceptionally high the last few weeks." The lieutenant's brown hair was slicked back, giving him an almost snake-like appearance, as if he were injecting a deadly venom into the conversation.

"So what?" The tone of Lord Wymond's voice had softened in volume, yet had taken on a sharper, more intent sound.

"So, sir, I'm suggesting that perhaps there is some sort of assassin or bounty hunter. Just a thought, sir, but, I think it's something we should at least consider."

Christopher's eyes narrowed, he stood silently for many moments. "Thank you. Lieutenants you are dismissed, colonel stay." The officers saluted, then filed out, making sure to close the door tightly.

Colonel Fyte stood rigidly, his fingers fidgeting with his breeches seam. "Sir?"

Christopher simply watched the captain with cool eyes. He didn't need to say anything, the colonel knew that he should have finished his sentence. "What I was going to say, sir, uh, was that it may be a trap. Someone may have sent or hired some kind of assassin, bounty hunter, or maybe a spy. I don't know. What I do know, my liege, is that many of the noblemen don't like you right now. They hate that you have the power of the angel Raziel, Gabriel, and Raphael. I think we both know the one claiming that hates you."

Christopher shook his head, turning away, dismissing the officer. He heard the door quietly open then shut behind him. Christopher struck the table with his fist. He wasn't one to shout his lungs out but he sure felt like doing so right now. Christopher sat down at the head of the table, his head in his hands. He groaned, “What the hell.”

"My lord, are you alright?" The quiet feminine voice startled the young noble.

"Wha- what?" His eyes immediately whipped around, his body tensing into defense mode.

The woman came into view, she was standing in front of the door, her figure was smooth and soft, her blonde hair coming halfway down her back twisted into a neat braid. She wore a clover-green dress made of fine silk. Her blue-green eyes watched Christopher with kindness and interest, though there was something else that he couldn't decide on. She repeated, "Are you alright, my lord?"

"I-" Christopher hesitated, "Yes I'm fine, uh, what are you doing here..?"

"My apologies, my lord, my name is Caitlin Demere. I am the daughter of the king." Caitlin smiled and clasped her hands in front of herself.

Christopher immediately stood and kneeled before her, his head bowed. "Forgive me, highness. I did not recognize you."

"Stand, Lord Wymond. I did not expect you to. I came as a simple messenger and diplomat for my father." Christopher stood, now recognizing the golden rings on her fingers, that explains the expensiveness of her dress.

"So Madam Demere, what has the king commanded?"

"Caitlin, please. Just Caitlin." She smiled, "The king has a matter of importance, hence why I am here. He has been experiencing some strange tension between his noblemen, though not uncommon, he believes that you may be the cause." Her voice held a note of authority now. 

"Why?" Christopher took an unsteady breath, this is the exact thing that colonel Fyte said. Can’t be a coincidence, could it?

"Well, he has quite concrete proof, provided many of the noblemen have sent my father letters expressing their... feelings. They want you well, dead." Her voice sharpened at the end.

Christopher simply sighed and closed his eyes, "What did I do now?"

"Nothing, and that's the problem. They just want your land." Caitlin's face contorted with disgust. "Greedy bastards, though I think we both already knew that."

Christopher nodded, taking in the gravity of the situation. Only weeks before he had attended a council meeting and had gone against the majority of the council. The king had been inclined to agree with him. Throughout the rest of the meeting, the other men had been casting him dirty angry looks. After the meeting one of the other noblemen, Hunter Galbian had confronted him, pushing him into the hall's wall. He yelled at Christopher, making the claim that he didn't deserve to be a noble for doing something he didn't even remember. That Christopher was a simply unintelligent fighter. The king had been walking out, speaking to another one of his nobles. When he saw what was happening, he criticized Lord Galbian, getting enraged, threatening him. Then he had formally apologized to Lord Wymond. The councilmen who had seen scowled at Wymond, and ended up flocking to Galbian's side when the king had left. "Dunce," "wanker," "annoying kid," "douche," the insults swept through Christopher's head once again.

"So, we believe that Galbian signed multiple contracts with bounty hunters, assassins, robbers, anyone willing to kill a noble for lots of money." Caitlin took a breath, contemplating how to put the next part. "They are to kill you, and we know it. The king has commanded 100 royal guards here. They should be arriving anytime now."

Christopher bowed his head to kiss her hand, "Thank your father for me, though it may not even be necessary, I appreciate the gesture." 

"Of course." The princess turned away, but not before Christopher saw a slight blush on her face, or at least that’s what he thought it was. He followed her out, heading to the castle entrance. He watched as Caitlin mounted her brown horse, riding out of the city. He saw them then, the guards marching in two straight lines, staring straight ahead. Their poleaxes were very threatening as they marched through the lining-up villagers. They formed up in the square between the castle and the houses.

"Guard, HALT! Guard, SALUTE!" The captain called out to the company. They followed with precision, first halting in their neat lines, then rendering the Wymond salute, their poleaxes tilted forward in a hail of their new temporary lord. Christopher saluted back, his glove curled sharply against his chest.

"Thank you, captain, what's your name?"

"Captain Teale, sir." The man responded, standing straighter. "We swear our utmost loyalty to you, Lord Christopher Wymond."

"And I to you, Captain Teale. Continue." Christopher was satisfied with the performance of the guard, even if they were a wee-bit too show-offish.

"Yes, sir," the captain turned on his heels to face the royal guardsmen again. "Guard, move ou-"

The black-fletched arrow thrummed straight into Christopher's shoulder. He cried out in pain, the blood spurting from the wound. The pure white dripped from the arrow as he pulled it out.

Ouch.

 


Submitted: January 14, 2022

© Copyright 2022 StormyDragoon. All rights reserved.

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