Durbar asked, “So what do you think? Do you think I should try to compete? I don’t know what to do.”
Znak paused for a moment, took a long drink, and looked deep into Durbar’s eyes, studying them, and began, “Lad, I’m not going to be the one to make that decision. It is for you and only you to make.”
Durbar wasn’t satisfied. “What do you think my father would say?”
“You are not a boy any longer, and it is time for you to make your own way. It’s not going to be easy, but you are going to have to do it soon enough. You want to know what I think? I think you already made up your mind because you came here. If you didn’t want to compete, you wouldn’t have come all the way here before the festival.” Both men were quiet for a moment. The wisdom of Znak’s words was undeniable. It was true that, although in his mind, Durbar was uneasy about meeting with the prince and competing, his heart led him there and would probably lead him to Rothan. Durbar looked down into his drink. Znak stared at the young man, studying his reaction.
“You’re right, Znak. I can’t go back to the cabin. I don’t want to be there alone anymore. I need to do something else,” Durbar explained plainly, as if trying to convince himself more than Znak. “It’s not the same without Father,” he said as his eyes began to mist.
Nearby, an ancient creature sniffed the air and caught scent of the herd. The beast growled low and looked about for signs of the animals but did not find them. Instead, he sniffed again and turned to the direction of the unsuspecting bucks. He squinted his eyes and sniffed some more, confident he had found the source of the smell. He slobbered and groaned thinking about how delicious and tasty the bucks would be. His eyes focused as his hand gripped a rudimentary club in his giant fist, tightly.
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The cold mountain air bit at the faces of two men as they crept silently toward a young, unsuspecting buck nibbling on some roots. Without any sound, they inched their way closer to the animal. Durbar, a young man of fifteen, watched his father, Adar, very carefully, and mimicked his movements; ever striving to be the great woodsman his father was.
The large man stopped suddenly and so did his son. He slowly reached for his giant long bow and gently pulled out an arrow from the quiver on his back. The woodsman quickly inspected the arrow to ensure there was no damage to the fletching, notched it and stood up slowly and carefully. His black cloak concealed him in the dark, dense forest. The hunter drew back the string of his mighty bow until it touched his bearded cheek. Holding absolutely steady, he loosed the arrow. The missile twisted slightly as it sailed through the still air, flying past massive trees until finding the unsuspecting buck. The arrow struck the animal’s side, piercing his heart. Stunned and now struggling to cling to life, the buck tried to stumble away, but did not get far.