Unedited excerpt of History of Beauty – the Cubi #6
Upon stopping to make camp, Elakdon needed to be alone with his thoughts, so he grabbed his bow and three arrows and trotted off into the woods, hoping that sitting around and scouting small game would give him the peace and quiet he needed. Plus, he needed food and not just sex. So did the humans.
He found a spot with plenty of fallen logs and small shrubbery. Not being the most trained hunter, he wasn’t sure if what he saw further ahead was a game trail or not. Either way, shooting a buck or a deer was too much food for them now, and he wanted rabbit or pheasant or something.
As good as place as any. First of all, he had to sit and listen and see what nature there had to offer. He needed a bit of goodwill, though, so he loosened the water bladder on his belt, knelt, and tried to connect emotionally to his surroundings. Finally, somewhat resembling peace fell over him, and he took a sip from the bladder before spilling a bit on the ground for the nature spirits, hoping that him sharing would earn him the kindness he needed. He was just sorry he didn’t have anything more interesting on him than water, but he had left the campsite quickly. He knew they had wine there.
A noise behind him made him look up. But he wasn’t the only one. Something to his left caught his attention, and he glanced that way, sitting very still. There was his rabbit. Slowly, almost holding his breath, he nocked the arrow and slowly turned the bow horizontally. Not ideal with a longbow, but that was the range of motion he had from his kneeling position behind the log.
The rabbit began eating again, shuffling two hops forward to gorge on the next green thing. A deep calming breath helped keep the eagerness and fear of the rabbit suddenly taking off at bay, allowing him to focus. He released the string and swore when it hit his lower arm due to the awkward angle. The pain was intense, and he let go of the bow, grabbing his lower arm. For a second, he even forgot to check if he hit his pray—it was that painful—but he had. Not clean, and the limp rabbit set off with Elakdon on its tail. He caught up with it, drew his knife, and killed the rabbit.
“Very nice, My Prince.”
Elakdon gasped and turned, finding Styrk there. “You frightened me.”
“I’m sorry, but I had to follow you. Until your Royal Guard is assembled, we swore to protect you. A Prince running off means one of us follows.”
“I just…” Elakdon stood, pulling the arrow from the rabbit. “Needed to think.” He grabbed a stick and dug a hole in the soft soil of the forest bed and gutted the rabbit so that he could cover the scent of a fresh kill and not lead scavengers or predators to the camp.
“You have been unusually quiet today,” Styrk commented as they made their way back to collect the bow. Elakdon sneered at it, still feeling the sting on his lower arm, slowly moving into a deep throbbing pain. Other than not considering bringing wine for the Vætter, he’d been too busy getting away from the others to contemplate an armguard since he didn’t shoot the bow enough to have a handle on it nor developed the leather skin at the wrist where it apparently always stroke the less than capable archers.
“May I see?” Styrk asked. Elakdon held up the rabbit. “I meant your arm, My Prince.”
“Nah, it’s still attached.”
Styrk chuckled. Elakdon stopped and held out his arm for Styrk to pull up the sleeve. He grimaced, and Elakdon managed to suppress the urge to do the same as he saw the bruise taking color and the blood vessels bursting from the swipe. It looked like a little bloody Yggdrasil growing from his elbow down the inside of his lower arm.
“I have something to wrap it with.” Styrk then picked up the bow and remaining two arrows. “The humans are gathering greens.”
Elakdon finally had the moment to be proud that he’d managed to get the meat. Considering his smarting elbow, he had every right to be proud of his deed, but he couldn’t help at grinning about how stupid he felt thinking it.