“You’re coming with me,” Hagnon of house Pevrel continues from atop his horse, “you have no choice in this, Musko.”
“But, dad!” Musko shouts.
“Musko!” Hagnon replies in a rather powerful voice, his long beard blowing in the wind, “You don’t have a choice here. What matters is what I’m telling you to do and I’m telling you that you must come with me. Now let’s go!”
Just then, Danaë, Hagnon’s beautiful wife, walks out of the castle and sees this happening, “What is all the ruckus about?”
“Father wants Musko to go hunting with him,” Scamandius, Hagnon’s oldest child, reports to his mother, “Musko doesn’t want to go.”
“I see,” she continues, “thank you Mani, you can go back inside now.”
“But mother, I wanted to go if Musko didn’t!”
Danaë ignores him, “If Musko doesn’t want to go hunting then DON’T force him to!”
“You’re right, I simply wanted him to experience the outside world before he is too old. I just do not want him to become soft when he grows older.”
“Since Musko isn’t going…”
“SCAMANDIUS PEVREL!” Danaë shouts, her face turning red, “Just wait until your father and I are done discussing this matter!”
“Danaë, I understand what you’re saying, I will take Scamandius in Musko’s place. That might be a better idea just in case we run into trouble. Maybe Musko would like to come along next time.”
“Thank you so much father! Let’s waste no more time, I’ll go gather what I need and come back as soon as I’m prepared.”
“Ah, I’m happy that I have a son who is so enthusiastic about hunting. Maybe I can get Musko to enjoy it someday as well.”
After about half an hour, Mani returns from gathering what he needs. “I have everything I should need, I brought my sword, my bow and arrows, my dagger, and some extra clothes. Does that sound right?”
“That should be plenty,” Hagnon responds, “I don’t know if you’ll be needing your sword or extra clothes but it may be good to have them in case we run into some trouble and need to fight our way out.”
“What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
“Yes, let’s go!” Hagnon shouts before galloping out of the imposing gate with Scamandius just behind him.
“Where are we going hunting today, father?”
“We are going to the West today, have we hunted there before?”
“I don’t think we have yet, is there something going on over there?”
“Not that I have heard of Mani, we’ll have to find out when we arrive.”
“Sounds exciting! What sort of creature do you think we will find there, father?”
“I believe we’ll find the same creatures we have hunted before, like deer, squirrels, bears, and various birds. Very good question though Mani.”
“I like to be prepared for anything, father!”
“As I can see, you brought almost everything you own. You didn’t need some of it but it won’t hurt. Now, if you were in a battle, you wouldn’t want to bring so much with you because it could very well slow you down and make you an easy target. You don’t want that now, do you?”
“No, father! I wouldn’t want that.”
“That’s my boy! That’s precisely what I wanted to hear from you, another good response! You are learning well, Scamandius. You know, you are to take care of our lands after my departure for Auldang. You are the heir to Pevrel castle, don’t let anyone take that from you.” He finishes as a tear rolls down his cheek and into his beard.
“Please don’t cry, father, you taught me to be strong. I need you to be stronger now. When we start the hunt, you will forget all about these thoughts. Let’s keep moving so we can begin the hunt sooner and have you forget this conversation.”
“Thank you, son,” he sniffs, “that actually made me feel better. You are right though, let’s keep going so we can start hunting!”
“How long do you think it’ll be until we’re there? I hope it isn’t long, I enjoy hunting, it allows us to bond.”
“I don’t think the trip will be too much longer, be patient and it will come faster.”
“Mani!” Hagnon whispers.
“We’re here, but stay quiet, I hear something moving and it does not sound like an animal.”
“Shouldn’t we be hiding somewhere? I shudder just thinking about what would happen if we were heard or spotted.”
“You have a good idea, let’s leave and go farther into the forest. We need to stick together so we don’t get lost in these woods, that’s the last thing I would want to happen.”
“Which way should we go?”
“The opposite way that noise is coming from would be ideal, you do have your sword, don’t you?”
“I have my sword right here, father.” Mani says a little loudly.
“Mani! You must remain quiet now.”
“Sorry father, I will be careful next time.”
“It is of utmost importance that we remain quiet in this situation, if we are too loud, whatever is making that noise could hear us and attack. Whether it be beast or human, I am not fond of finding out which.”
They stayed in that place for what seemed like hours. Hagnon had started sweating through his hunting garb, he could not stand the heat of the forests around here. Scamandius was breathing heavily and shaking his head as sweat was dripping off his nose. He was not a big fan of the heat just like his father. These were the densest forests in Aqqos. Since they were in the middle of the continent, they were also the hottest. The forests had been here for centuries if not millennia. The trees were all at least as tall as Pevrel castle. The strange noise was still going on when they decided they had enough of this waiting.
“I cannot stand this heat any longer!” Hagnon shouts.
“Why did you just shout?” Scamandius whispers.
“To get this thing’s attention so we can get hunting, let’s get off of our horses and go toward it on foot.”
“Are you sure about this, father?”
“I am absolutely sure!”
They tie their horses up to a nearby tree and slowly start creeping toward whatever creature is making the noise, Scamandius’ sword drawn. Hagnon has his dagger in his right hand. They hear the noise gradually getting louder as they get closer, Hagnon’s heart starts thumping faster and faster. He begins to think that Scamandius can hear his heart pounding through his chest. The noise becomes unbearable to both of them as they get extremely close to the creature. Hagnon reaches forward to push leaves out of his view so he can possibly see the creature. As he does this, the creature jumps out and clamps down on his hand with its teeth. Scamandius falls backward in surprise.
“Get up, Mani! I need your help! NOW MANI!”
Scamandius rises, his sword drawn. He starts to take a swing at the creature.
“Mani! Watch out for my hand!”
Scamandius swings his sword at the behind of the small, white creature, severing it clean in half. This causes the creature to release its clasp on Hagnon’s hand and drop to the ground.
“Good job, Scamandius! We need to gather up the carcass and take it back to the castle to be examined.”
Scamandius picks up the two halves of the creature, its fur now stained red in some places. He puts the remains in a pocket on his horse. Hagnon and Scamandius then proceed to leave the forest.
“I’m parched; can we stop at the river for a drink?”
“I guess we can, you must explain to your mother why we’re late then.”
“I can do that.”
They turn and go towards the river on a much smaller path than before. They stop at an absurdly large tree and tie their horses there so they can reach the river as well. Hagnon and Scamandius then walk up to the river and fill their flasks with the clear water and take a large swig from them. Then they refill and turn around to leave the river and go back to their horses.