Chapter Snippet

A snort was the first warning. The second was a hoof kicking out, nearly missing the man’s kneecap. Muscles rippled beneath a thick coat as it started to push itself upright. A toss of the head drew attention to those hefty antlers, but Nathan was already in defense mode. In no time, he had cocked his smaller crossbow and snapped a bolt into place. Before the stag could fully rise, an arrow shot into into its left eye. With a startled cry, it thrashed a moment more before the combined wounds sent it back down to its knees. After a moment, only labored breaths could be heard.

“Like I said.” He pulled a dagger from his belt and tromped over to it. “Ain’t that smart.” A deep thrust into its neck finally stilled the animal. 

Windchester watched him remove the two bolts with a sigh. “You wouldn’t be saying that if you met a Rubark bear. Even if you shot out both eyes, it would still take more than a dagger to stop it.” 

“You’re just saying that ’cause you didn’t think I’d win the kill.” 

“I’m saying it to protect you,” Windchester said in a stern tone. “You’ve only just begun to see things in this land, but pride makes a blind man see all. I hope you prove me wrong.”

“Would be no different,” Nathan muttered, then stepped back to admire his trophy. “Patience. Stealth. A keen ear. That’s it. I don’t require anything else. No special gear.” He patted his large crossbow. “Does the job every time.” 

Windchester crossed his arms and lifted an eyebrow in irritation. He then cleared his throat and looked elsewhere when the Trapper started cutting into the stag’s thick coat. “Your confidence in human-made contraptions is your own demise. You’d never get that thing loaded in time to save your own neck, let alone anyone else’s. If a Rubark bear attacked this very instant, you’d cease to exist.”

“That’s your perception, Healer.” Nathan continued cutting away, peeling away the skin enough for Windchester to turn away completely. “You’re suggesting something larger than this,” he pointed the tip of his dagger at the carcass, “could come out of hiding and not go unheard? Not possible.” 

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