The Unprotected

Chapter 12

Joban went to Brendor’s saddlebags and found the arrows. There were ten arrows he could use. Briefly, he looked around; trying to find some tracks he could follow. At the edge of the grass he saw some fresh deer tracks, and began to follow them, marking his trail as he went so he would not loose his way back to the cave.

Eventually, he came to a large thicket, which was next to a flowing creek. Looking inside, he saw five deer, peacefully resting. Joban quietly stepped back, and fixed an arrow in to the bow. He calmly poked his head back in to the thicket to make sure they were still there and unaware of his presence. Unexpectedly, a twig snapped underneath his boot and the deer quickly dashed out of the thicket, scurrying as fast as they could from Joban. He groaned and ran after them, determined to kill at least one.

When Joban was just about to give up, the smallest deer stumbled and fell, giving Joban a chance to take aim and shoot an arrow at it. He raised the bow, closed one eye and let go of the arrow with an unusual amount of power. Before the deer could regain its footing, the arrow struck it in the chest. It made a frightened squealing noise, and then slid to the forest floor, taking its last breaths. Joban turned away and blocked his ears so he couldn’t hear or see the animal’s suffering.

Five minutes later, Joban slowly turned on his heel and looked at the dead deer with much guilt and pity. Why had he done this? Approaching the dead animal, he gazed in to its lifeless eyes and thought about his fear of dying. What if the deer had that fear too? Joban flung Brendor’s bow and arrows on to the ground and threw his body over the dead deer.

Night soon fell and Joban still remained on the ground, sobbing faintly and hugging the lifeless deer as if it was his dead pet dog. He had hunted before, but never thought about the animals’ feelings or fears. Back at the cave, Rion and Brendor sat next to the fire, waiting for Joban to return with something they could eat. Rion wrung his hands anxiously, getting up every now and then to part the vines and look out between the dark, misty trees.

“This is silly.” Joban thought aloud, when it was nearly dark enough that he couldn’t see. He picked himself up from the ground, slung the bow over his shoulder, picked up the arrows and heaved the small deer in the direction where he thought the cave was. Joban trudged on until he couldn’t see anymore. He felt around for a tree and when he found one, he sat under it. He put the limp deer down, took off Brendor’s bow and fell asleep with his head on the deer.

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