The Spoils of the Hunt

The Spoils of the Hunt

A Story by JCP

The possible first chapter of a book concept I am debating writing. Let me know what you think, all criticism is welcome. Just looking for some good honest feedback. Thanks!

     A crisp chill weaved its way through the forest as the trees began to rustle whispers of caution that darkness would soon reclaim its reign over the land. Lucius stopped and scowled at the sun as it quickly burned its way out of the sky. He glared back as the night began to invade the forest and he grew anxious. Lucius knew their time was growing short, but had come too far to give up now.  
    “We’ve got to hurry. We’re going to lose it,” Lucius desperately called out into the cold evening air. A small slender figure wearily crept out of the black abyss that the forest had now become. Lucius grew impatient as his sister slowly stammered her way towards him.
    “We’ve come too far. We have to go back,” she pleaded with him. Lucius looked at her with eyes of bewilderment as she grasped for his shoulder. She was a gorgeous girl with smooth pale skin that seemed to glow in the night. Her head playfully collapsed into his chest as she tried to catch her breath. She could hear his heart frantically pounding and could tell by how tense he was that he wasn’t happy with her request. Her long black hair glistened in the newborn moonbeams that filtered through the trees, as it danced across her tattered grey cloak in the night’s breeze. She picked her head up and sympathetically looked into her brother’s eyes. “We never go out this far and night is upon us. We’ve been tracking this thing all day. Who knows what dangers lay all the way out here?” The starlight twinkled in her big black eyes as she hoped Lucius would listen to reason. Lucius’ back stiffened and he harshly pulled away. Her thin red lips tightened as she could see his face flush with frustration. Lucius firmly placed his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her away.
    “Veles, every time we stray too far away from what we know, you get scared and want to stop. It’s always something, isn’t it?” Lucius mumbled as he peered into the darkness for a sign of relief. He flicked his black bangs behind his ear and glared back at Veles with dark eyes of determination. “Shhh… I know its close. Just a little bit longer and we’ll find it. I promise. Did you see how big it was?”
    “Yes I saw how big it was. How are we going to hull that thing back anyways, if we do take it down?” Veles stamped as she turned sharply away from her little brother. She was only a few years older then Lucius, but he was already taller, faster and stronger then she was. One could barely see the slightest shadow of a beard force its way up through his soft baby skin, yet, from a distance, he could easily be mistaken for a man.
    “I’ll carry the both of you if you want,” Lucius chimed back with the unmistakable cockiness of youth. “Either way, we’re taking this beast down. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good kill, and I’m tired of eating potatoes. How is Papa going to get better just eating cabbage?” Veles face gravely grew solemn as reality set in.
“We’re not going home till we get what we came here for, are we?” she agreeably groaned. She had been put in this position to many times with Lucius, and she knew by that look he gave her he was getting what he wanted. He was right after all. It was dark already and she thought and they might as well have something to show for their day long journey. They did also have a father that was quickly fading away at home. Just then a bustling in the bushes off in the distance illuminated Lucius’ face with a mischievous grimace.
     “Our prize awaits, Veles,” Lucius whispered with excitement. Veles pulled her hair back and fastened it with a string. She drew a magnificent polished wooden bow that was black as night and almost tall as her, mechanically off her back and delicately slid an arrow out of her quiver and down its sight. She was done playing games tonight. Lucius silently ran over and hugged his sister.
     Veles pushed him off out of aggravation and pleasantly smirked, “Let’s just hurry up and kill this thing so we can get it back home.”  Veles demeanor went from the playful banter of a child to the extreme focus of a predator in the blink of an eye. Lucius reached down and unfastened the notch on his leather sheath. A glimmer of gold sparkled in the twilight as Lucius drew his weapon from a fabulously fabricated leather belt that loosely dangled of his right hip. Lucius’ weapon of choice was his father’s old battle knife. It looked more like treasure then a weapon, with a cold black onyx handle and a long, sleek golden blade. A simple, beautiful weapon of destruction whose craftsmanship could not be matched.
      Many years ago, in a life Lucius and Veles only knew from their mother’s stories, their father was a great warrior who fought in many battles and killed many men to keep what was his safe from the rest of the world; his family and his beliefs. That was long before they had to run and hide. It was long before their father fell ill. This is when a father, who knew his days were starting to draw to an end, began to train his children in the art of war. The greatest gift their father could ever give them in such a cruel world, was teaching them how to survive.
     Day after day, he would take them out and hunt for small game to practice. They learned how to stalk prey, kill it, gut it and skin it. Lucius and Veles were excellent students and quite competitive with one another. They made their father proud. The bounties of the day would be brought home and their mother would teach them to make clothing from the hides and meals from their flesh from things even small as rabbits while telling tales of their father’s triumphs in a time long forgotten. Shortly after the children had become rather proficient at hunting and harvesting animals large as deer, their father took a turn for the worse and fell deathly ill. Their world was  changing.
      Lucius and Veles inherited the job of providing for the family, as well as their weapons. Veles was given the gift of her father’s battle bow and patience and Lucius received his dagger and savagery. The children took the responsibility well, and ran wild with it. Their mother harvested whatever food she could from a make shift garden while nursing and praying to their gods for her husband; while her children scoured the land for game. This was when Lucius and Veles were at their best; on the hunt.
     A loud crack of an old fallen tree branch snapping shattered the silence of the cold night. Lucius smiled at Veles and motioned for her to stay still. Rustling could be heard throughout the darkness as something large started to move away fast. Veles instinctively turned and fired an arrow into the darkness without hesitation. A blood shrilling squeal followed a low rumble and the sound of foliage being trampled echoed in the cold night’s air. “You hit it!” Lucius screamed in a mixture of delight and disbelief. Veles nodded her head in confidence and instantly began to give chase. Lucius hesitated for a moment in awe, and then quickly took off after her.
    Lucius was fast; but tonight, Veles was faster.  She seemed to carve a path through the darkness following the whispers of the trees as they snitched on the wounded beast desperately trying to escape. Lucius could see his sister swiftly being devoured by the darkness when she suddenly stopped and threw her hand up for him to stop. Lucius halted in his tracks and dropped his hands on his knees and panted. He raised his head, searching for his sister and could plainly see her. She was out in the moonlight? He began to survey the area. The tree tops were like the little towers of a black castle in the night sky. There was nothing behind them but stars. How could this be? They were deeper into the forest then they had ever been before. His body became taught as he rose and watched his sister draw her bow again and slowly creep out further into the light.
     The high pitched squeals of the wounded beast could be heard not far off past the trees. Veles was intoxicated with the thirst for blood as she slid behind the last of the trees and out of sight. Lucius’ heart pounded. He cautiously ran outwards till he himself was into the light. The evening sky opened up and the night’s cold breeze quickly chilled him to the bone. Lucius was awestruck. They had reached the forest’s edge. Right in front of him were a dozen or so cleanly constructed cabins laced together with dingy dirt roads. The cabins seemed to surround a much larger, purposefully constructed cabin, like children eagerly listening to an elder tell stories of yesteryear’s glories. Lucius’ stopped for a second as noticed that this cabin was a bit different from the rest, as it reached towards the gods with a single tower, topped with a large wooden cross. He became paralyzed with fear. Lucius’ eyes rapidly began searching the forest line for both the pig and more importantly, his sister.
     He saw the bloodied beast was stumbling out closer to the cabins, praying for mercy in the light of the heavens. Veles first shot in the darkness had gone straight through the pig’s hind. The beast must have run far as it could, numbing the pain with fear, and was now on the killing floor graciously painting a violent scene with red mud.
     A bit down the road, Lucius could see Veles stalking further out into the light, cautiously edging out of the forest. The pig snarled violently as it franticly flopped its hind trying to shake loose the arrow. There was no such luck. His prayers would not be answered. Veles was locked and loaded and was swarming in for the kill. Lucius grew nervous. She was blind with focus. Lucius’ eyes raced to scan to everything around her only finding questions as his mind struggled to come up with the answers. Can anyone hear them? Was anyone awake? Can anyone see her? Can anyone see him? Who lived here? How long have they lived here? How had they not known? Where were they? How could father never have told them? Did he know they were here? Could it be true?
    Lucius lost sight of Veles as his mind spun his thoughts into a blur of panic. He found her just in time to see her release the kill shot. A whistle cracked the air as red hot blood sprayed the walls of a nearby cabin. The pig tried to scream as it bucked and thrashed about but it had been brutally muzzled. Veles had ripped the pig’s throat out with one, quick, clean shot. The beast swayed and staggered, drunken with death, then finished with a wet splash in a crimson puddle as it was finally laid to rest.     
    A smooth wave of relief rippled through Lucius as he exhaled.  He was about to rush in and claim the prize when he noticed Veles hadn’t moved since she slain the beast.  Lucius charged in when Veles cryptically held up her hand for him to halt just before he got out of the forest into the light. He perplexedly obeyed her command. What was her reasoning? Why would she want to stay here? It was dark and late, and they were intruding in unknown territory.  Veles hand calmly searched over her shoulder for her quiver. Her hand would come up empty, for there were no more arrows to be found.
   Why then need for another arrow? She had murdered the beast with beautiful precision. Veles swiftly swung her bow behind her back and dropped to her knees. Something was terribly wrong, Lucius knew it. For some reason, she wanted Lucius at bay. His heart hammered away at his chest as he struggled to restrain himself. He watched in anticipation. Then he saw it. A soft orange light began to flicker its way around the corner of one of the cabins and a voice could be heard clamoring in the cold breeze. Lucius panicked as he pondered why she hadn’t chosen to run. His chest throbbed as his lungs filled with fear with every breath. He trusted his sister, and would painfully view from a distance if she so wished.
    An ominous shadow spilled its way into the street as chatter menaced closer with every passing moment. Veles calmly knelt in the center of the road, not far off from where the still bleeding beast lay. Lucius could now see the figure of a man step out from behind the cabin and into the light. He was emaciated, adorned in the tattered rags of a vagabond. His hair was long and nappy and he was spackled with the vomit of labor.  He clumsily swayed with each step, bobbling a rickety lantern in front of him.  “Well lookie ah’we got ‘ere,” he hiccupped to himself as if he’d gone mad. “I think ‘asee sumpin I like.” His drunken gibberish swelled with malice in every word. Lucius couldn’t bear to watch anymore. He cautiously crawled out further, using the darkness as his cover. The man slithered closer and his eyes glimmered with wickedness as they raped every crevasse of Veles’ vestal body. Veles innocently turned her blank stare towards him in silence and extended an arm out towards the fallen pig as if in some sort of trance. Lucius obeyed and continued to hold his ground as his stomach twisted itself in knots. The man feverishly licked his filthy cracked lips as he closed in on her. It was taking every ounce of Lucius’ love and trust to remain hidden and observe this horrific scene unravel.
    “It’s yours for the taking sir. Sorry to have woken you so late into the evening,” Veles innocently whispered with her head down, still on her knees, as if in servitude.
    “Mmm…How right ye’are. ‘eel jus’ makit ease’yur onda boaf of us if ya’ keep tinkin’ like dat,” hissed the grimy intruder. Lucius clenched his teeth as rage pumped in his veins. His body ached with anger. The man was just steps away from her reaching his cruddy fingers out towards her face. Veles carefully lifted her head in submission and met his eyes with a stare of fear and pity.  Just as the man was about to touch the soft, pale skin of Veles cheek, a thunderous voice bellowed out from around the cabin.
    ”Whatsa purty ting like you doing out so late fur?” A massive hulk made its way onto the road. This one, Lucius could see, was more then a man; this was a pure savage. Easily the size of a bear, the man had long, wiry grey hair and wore the fading attire of a woodworker. His cheeks were powdered with a days worth of dust and below grew a beard polluted with woodchips. His eyes were dark and sunken deep into his skull. A lifetime’s worth of crude work had carved colossal arms onto this giant. The menacing blade of an axe shimmered in the moonlight as it bounced with deathly delight after each step he took.  He slowly lumbered his way towards Veles as the vagabond frightfully scrambled away from her. He regained his footing and now stood just in front of the slain pig, out on the killing floor with his back toward Lucius. He too was watching the colossus’ every move with fear and uncertainty. Veles knelt patiently in the road, calm and quiet as a lamb.
    Anxiety and anticipation lashed at Lucius’ nerves as he continued to slowly creep out into the light. Fear had locked the skinny vagabond’s attention on the newcomer, and Lucius knew he was safe to move a bit more freely. Why was Veles doing this? He knew they were in too deep now and he could only trust she knew what he was doing.  
    The goliath inched his way up to Veles, smothering her in the darkness of his shadow. The giant hunched down letting a low grumble of annoyance escape out of the caverns of his lungs. His face was just above Veles face now, and she could feel the hot stink on his breath, “I asked you a question didn’t I? Now you’re gonna’…” Veles slowly lifted her head and looked dead into the face of destiny. Her innocent eyes now glowed fiery red with hate and her beautiful face wretched with despise.
    “My sincerest condolences for the w***e who bore the pangs of bringing pig s**t like you into this world” she viciously growled, freezing the colossus instantly with shock.  The words were spoken with such anger that even the vagabond was mesmerized by their raw vulgarity. Lucius knew this was the moment she had been waiting for. The axe now eagerly pranced up and down in the pale of the moonlight as the giant throbbed with rage. He unlocked his eyes from Veles’ and began to rise up, tightly gripping the handle of his killing machine. Veles quickly sprung up and struck the colossus right between the eyes with a thunderous blow from her bow. The giant clumsily stumbled backwards as the heavy weapon plummeted towards the earth. Lucius’ heart took flight.
    Lucius clutched his dagger and silently shot out of the forest. Moving with deadly precision, he hurdled over the pig, ripping the arrow effortlessly from its hind without breaking stride. The scrawny vagabond teetered as he saw the blur that was Lucius rapidly closing in on him. Like a strike of lightning, Lucius had stabbed the arrow deep into the man’s vile throat. A squirt of blood wet the back of Lucius’ hand as the filth fell to the ground, pathetically tugging at the arrow for dear life. The giant had now risen to one knee and was rearing his head with vengeance directly at Veles.
    Veles looked deep into angry eyes as she teased the savage with a smirk and blew him a kiss. A growl rumbled the earth below her as the mammoth of a man had regained his composure. Lucius was gaining ground rapidly and he poised himself to pour every ounce of hate he had welled up in him on the giant.  The colossus drearily leaned over and snatched the handle of what would soon be her maker. His scraggily hair whipped about like an alarm of impending doom as the axe now flickered in the starlight high above the giants head. “Good bye,” Veles teased as she happily waved bye to the mammoth. The giant eerily smiled as he took in a last deep breath before he splattered her with shear force.
    Lucius was now in a full sprint had gotten within arms reach of the colossus. He leaped up and grabbed a handful of coarse hair and pulled himself up with it. The giant’s head was brutally ripped back and looked straight up at the gods. Lucius swung himself up and plunged his knife deep into the giant’s neck. A loud scream gargled in his huge throat as hot blood rained down upon Veles. She childishly held her hands palm up as if she was feeling rain for the first time. Laughter fluttered in the night as Lucius rumbled to the ground in a crimson splash. A booming thud softened the earth as the mammoth violently jerked about, showering both of them with murder.
    Lucius got back up on his feet, staring blankly at his sister. He didn’t know what to think of what had just happened. She batted her beautiful black eyes at him, popped up on her feet, and exhaled. “I was wondering how much longer it was going to take you to finally save me. I was getting nervous.” She smiled at Lucius and playfully scruffed her fingers through his blood soaked hair. “For a moment there, I thought you were a little too scared.”
    All the emotions that had overwhelmed Lucius forced out a nervous chuckle as he wiped a stream of blood off his face with the back of his hand. He walked over to the bloody hulk flooding the road and yanked the knife out of his neck. A tiny bit of blood sprayed out and freckled his arm. He wiped the knife off and slid it back into its sheath. He paused in wonder as three bodies were quickly turning the dirt road into a crimson river. “Let’s get out of here,” Lucius said glancing over the spoils of the hunt. Veles nodded her head in agreement.
    “I thought you’d never ask?” Veles mocked as she too began scraping the blood off her face as it began to burn her eyes. Lucius ran over to the slain beast and struggled to prop it up on his back.
    “This is one big pig” Lucius grunted as the beast now lay like a sleeping dog across his shoulders.
    “You sure you don’t want me to carry him too?” Veles teased as they began to head back towards the forest.
    “Shut up, Veles. Let’s get back home.” Lucius snarled as they disappeared back into the dark abyss from which they came.

© 2011 JCP

My Review

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Very detailed and visual, like the story is painting a picture, but the excessive adverbs tend to slow it down a bit. I'd suggest comming up with another reference for Lucias's name just to add some contrast and not have it repeated so much. I think with a bit of revising, this story has a heaping amount of potential.

Posted 11 Years Ago

This is captivating... a story I will come back to and read again. Great job!

Posted 12 Years Ago

I agree with Chris Ahern a little, kill some of the adverbs. They were kind of overused on some points, except when you describe the characters. Like when you say she "Batted her beautiful black eyes". That one fit in quite nicely with the rest of the story than as Chris Ahern said "Fabulously fabricated leather". Other than that, wonderful job!

Posted 12 Years Ago

The story line's got me hooked. I also liked how you wove front and back story together. It was good exposition. You're dialogue wasn't forced which made the characters genuine and believable. I think the biggest problem you have is that you're in love words. Phrases like "fabulously fabricated leather belt" or "The menacing blade of an axe shimmered in the moonlight as it bounced with deathly delight" are just too much. Also, kill the adverbs. They add more frosting than cake.
If you're still debating on whether to plunge into a novel, I'd say, based on what I've read, take the dive while the story's fresh. You definitely got something here.

Posted 12 Years Ago

i really enjoyed reading this story and liked it a lot

Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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5 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on June 9, 2011
Last Updated on August 10, 2011



Baltimore, MD

I'm just a thirty something guy from Baltimore. As I've grown a bit older, I can't help but feeling there is something I've left behind. I've always had a knack for writing, but never pursued it. It's.. more..

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