The Madrol Empire Part 3
The sun has not yet risen yet, the hour is very early. Marcus prepares for the hunt; he packs his crossbow, ten bolts and a hatchet. He has become quite good at using the crossbow. Other villagers prefer rifles but Marcus swears the crossbow is faster and he knows it’s quieter, plus he can reuse the bolts it fires. He slings it over his muscular shoulder and prepares to leave the hut. He meets up with Abe and two other hunters. They each have their rifles in hand; they shake their heads when they see Marcus with his cross bow, always with that damned crossbow. Marcus leads the hunt despite protests from the older hunters, Abe defends the boy, holding his club.
They set off for the prairies to hunt gazelle, it will take two hours of walking to reach it. They would hunt closer to the village if they could but there are not many big game animals nearby, so they are stuck with the prairies.
Marcus spots a gazelle in the distance, they must be close to the prairies. He slowly approaches and aims his crossbow. The wind is at his back, working to his advantage, the bolt will travel farther and faster. The sun however is directly in front of him, rays of light hitting his eyes, partially distorting his vision. He fires, the bolt strikes the back of the animal, it falls to the ground, suddenly Abe springs up and charges with his club. Once he reaches the gazelle, the animal stands and with a swift kick sends Abe falling back wards.
“Abe!” Marcus shouts as he runs over to his fallen guardian. He approaches and sees that Abe is bleeding profusely from his head. The other hunters join Marcus and look down with horror. The hunt stops there. The men fashion a stretcher out of branches and drag Abe back to the village, he dies during the travel.
Abe was like a father to Marcus. He fought beside him during the battles with the barbarians to the west. He taught him all he knows. Marcus will make a good leader someday, Abe assured him, but now he’s dead. What will Marcus do now?
That evening the villagers went to Marcus’s hut. “You must leave; your kind is no longer welcome here. You lead the hunt that ended in the death of one of our great elders. He always defended you, but now with him gone you are defenseless. We never liked you but Abe made us tolerate your presence here.” Said one of the hunters.
“But this is my home; it has been for the last seventeen years. Where am I to go?” Marcus asked.
“Go back to your castle. Face the enemy who tried to kill you. Avenge your father’s death and claim the throne. You can do that. We have raised you into a great man, but we’re afraid you will hurt more of us if you stay.”
Marcus nodded and packed up his belongings. He picked up the wooden horse and caressed it with his thumb. “Should I go back there?” He said to himself. It is his destiny to claim the throne.
He set off then under darkness of night. He didn’t know where he was going but was somehow guided west. The dragon that brought him to the village was in disrepair and he had no idea how to fix it. He would have to travel by foot. The road ahead of him was long and treacherous.