First Prince of H'arkin
“What an amazing shot, Your Grace!” Harvey thumped the young prince on the back. But Rafael only gave a forced smile in response. The baby doe was tied up and carried on the huntmaster’s horse, you could see its unmoving reflection in Rafael’s eyes.
Eilane never felt bad for hunted animals, the Erst family always ate and shared it with the entire palace, so she could only associate it with happy occasions. But she supposed she felt bad for Rafael who felt bad. Just as she settled on what words to comfort him, a loud crunch echoed further down the forest.
Harvey abruptly stopped. With eyebrows furrowed, he sent one of the bloodhounds towards the source of sound. Minutes passed by unnervingly with nothing happening.
A high-pitched yelp signalled Harvey to shout, “Ride and don’t stop!” He pointed southeast and whistled to direct the remaining bloodhound to protect Eilane. He thrust off the dead doe and shouted again, “Go!”
Panic settled into their expressions, but they did as they were told. As the princess looked back, she saw Harvey draw his sword and gallop towards the sound.
Fallen branches cracked under the weight of their horses’ hooves. They sped through the trees like the wind. They didn’t make it far before the bloodhound started growling.
Eilane and Rafael instinctively stopped right before a pack of five wolves stepped out from behind the cover of trees. Without preamble, they silently stalked ahead. The bloodhound protectively stood in front of its master.
One of the wolves charged at it and the bloodhound clawed and bit back. Scarlet liquid glided across the air where they fought against one another.
Rafael quickly raised his crossbow, but because it wasn’t reloaded, it took him a bit to draw the string back. It evidently required more strength than a prepubescent boy had, because the wolves reacted much quicker. They charged at their horses, nipping violently at their legs.
The horses whinied and reeled, trying to kick them back, but all this did was throw Rafael and Eilane off.
The princess grunted from the impact of the ground. When she next opened her eyes, three wolves cornered Rafael. To make matters worse, he must have dropped his crossbow when he fell. Finally processing what had happened, she yelled out his name.
“Run away, Eilane!” He screamed back at her before looking down the jaws of death.
I don’t have a weapon, was her only thought before a familiar cool metal kissed her fingers. Wrapping her hand around, she grabbed onto it. Not enough momentum, she thought before her body suddenly propelled forward. Without looking, like all the times she practiced before, she thrust out. The silver rapier pierced through the wolf’s stomach as if she were cutting through water. It exploded in a rain of scarlet as its body flung back, taking its companions with it and cracking through multiple trees behind them.
The other wolves whined and backed away. Even the injured bloodhound whimpered in fear.
The prince stared dumbly at Eilane of Liberny. She was standing, smears of liquid the same color as his hair and eyes were flicked onto her. A heartbeat passed, then two. He shakily looked behind him at the assaulter’s bodies, if they could even be called that. For they were as gorged out as if a meteor struck them. Rafael’s cardinal eyes snapped away in horror.
The princess looked shell-struck. While she had just committed the act herself, the 8 year old girl was clearly in a state of shock and her brain stopped working.
Even though she didn’t mean to say it now, her body was in auto-pilot. Even though they were words meant for earlier, her mouth compulsively said the words of comfort she meant to say before but didn’t. But in this situation, those words were definitely way too messed up.
Eilane Erst held out her hand and said, “You don’t need to do something you hate. I can hunt for you from now on.”
First Prince Rafael of H’arkin did not take her hand.