5
min

The Hunting

Image of Alliance

Alliance

28 readings

24 votes

In competition

The slapping of raindrops...
For several hours it is the only sound he has been hearing, this heavy rain that from time to time hits the barrel of his musket.
He sits there, only protected by these bad logs and he is desperately alone, because all his companions have been decimated. The hunting has turned to disaster and the beast is still on the run. They have never been able to see it, even for a short moment, maybe sometimes they hardly thought they were hearing it.
According to the inhabitants of this province, it would be one or more beasts and perhaps also a man who guides it... why not a man probably even more savage than this creature...
Everyone thinks the same but no one is sure of anything! Those who had the misfortune to cross paths with them were devoured on the spot or vanished forever. Only a few trails made by contorted fingers that desperately cling on to the ground, as if to escape a horrible death, scattered hair, a torn clog, chunks of flesh mixed with shredded clothes, much blood spilled... then it is always the same, these occasional marks are lost in the middle of all this inextricable undergrowth...

The water from the sky falls like a curtain but this thing, this abomination he is chasing has disappeared, and now he finds himself completely isolated.
This hunter has always had self-confidence, he is skillful, strong, excellent shooter, and he knows that it is not just a simple animal he is tracking but also a man of the forest and when he finds him and executes him, killing his beast will be rather easy because this one will no longer have a Master. But for the time being, he is well aware that he is no better off than they are... if the man and his voracious creature have already spotted him they will only make one bite of him. Nevertheless this downpour masks all the noises, covers all the tracks, and luckily for the last hunter, also inhibits his body odors...

It is fierce and angry, each time it had to interrupt its meal because it needed to escape, run tirelessly and then hide somewhere... however, the Master is all-powerful, he is the one who constantly decides, he is like its own father. The beast owes him everything, life, food, care, survival and shelter, so it always obeys him submissively, follows his lead, lowering its big head, and trusts him permanently. It seems that the man of the woods is its God...
Together, since the beginning of their common life, they have always won and today all these fools have been well deceived. Through the paths and valleys, they have dispersed them, letting each of the beaters believe that he would be victorious, but in reality they have made fun of their naiveté and apparent superiority.
The man is sitting halfway down the slope, the beast is lying at his feet, he is examining the hills, he knows that there is still a hunter and not the least, he is the only one they have not yet managed to subdue. This one will be a formidable opponent, he is cunning, tough, he is never afraid of anything and he will not give in. If necessary, he will still be able to fight only with his dagger or only with his fists. He will never return to the village without having killed them both, without bringing back his own corpse and the hide of his beast... the man of the forest knows all this perfectly well.
—Wait Beauty! Stop growling, we’ll end up being heard... you couldn’t get enough, but soon the best time will come and you can tear him up and then devour him!
These two stay at the same place, motionless in the rain. The beast remains impassive and the man, well sheltered under his heavy wolf pelt, is thinking... the one who harasses them has surely had to stop walking, with such a shower he has necessarily taken shelter somewhere, under some rock or some tree wide enough, unless he has chosen this old hunting blind that no one has used for a long time now and which must be overgrown with brambles....

The hunter is tired. He has been running all day long. He is eating his piece of stale bread without any appetite and then drinks the little wine he has left in his goatskin. He would like to light his pipe and that would warm him up a bit, but the evening is approaching and the flame as well as the smoke could make him noticeable, as nothing escape the piercing eyes of the man or his beast, and he knows nothing about the intentions of this man of the forest, who earlier was still his ally...
He remembers all the past events... this strange creature that he himself had brought back from one of his travels to distant and tropical countries, this superb speckled animal with a canine snout... when he entrusted this strange beast to his accomplice, it was in gestation and soon after its offspring came into the world. The man of the woods, as a good expert on animals of all kinds, immediately noticed the most robust and apparently aggressive little one and then killed the female and all the others to keep only the one he had chosen, so he raised it in his own way and became its omnipotent and absolute Master. Thanks to this unusual spawn, the two companions became able to fulfill their resentments and terrify the inhabitants of this whole area during a few years!
But from now on, this adventure had lasted long enough and stirred up the whole country up, even the whole Kingdom, nevertheless the man from the forest had never agreed to put an end to this matter by killing his beast.
The hunter remembers all this, curled up on the middle of this heap of leaves and branches. He has loaded his musket and for the moment he is just waiting... the beast can only appear in front of him and if it happens he would hear it coming. He would be careful to aim directly at the head or jaw, because knowing his henchman’s tricks it is quite impossible to wound this beast on another part of the body. Indeed, it is usually covered by a protection made of thick leather and metal that shields it completely and cannot be perforated, even using high-caliber bullets.
The gloom has settled in, the hunter has taken a comfortable position, he has put his back against the logs and extended his legs. Then he has finally fallen asleep by holding his musket in his hands.

The rain has stopped and the sun is rising. The man of the forest has set off with his beast toward the hunting blind because he is now sure that his pursuer stays inside of it. For him now, the only solution is to definitively silence his old friend. He is convinced that this last one will eventually let him down and yet it is this precise friend who initially led him into this murderous madness!
This magnificent beast, which he has always cared for and patiently tamed, he cannot bring himself to kill it.

In spite of the sun which gradually begins to illuminate the valley, the hunter is still asleep, he has released his musket, which remains unnecessarily placed on his legs, a kind of harmless weapon for the moment...

At the end of a short walk, the man of the woods finally arrives in view of the hunting blind. With his beast, he remains hidden by the vegetation... keeping his distance and through the opening of this cabin, he can see the hunter who is motionless, head down, totally vulnerable.
The man of the forest prepares his powder, his bullet and loads his musket, he then patiently removes the leather protection from his beast and caresses its fur for a long time while whispering a few words.
—My beauty, when he sees you approaching and thanks to your beautiful speckled fur, he will recognize you, but it will be the last time. He won’t be able to admire you anymore!
He still caresses his beast’s chest, head and cheeks, then gives it a pat on the back....
—Look, he’s here, he’s sleeping, he’s yours! Go!
Very fast and following the order of its Master, the nervous and voracious animal rushes toward its prey, but immediately a violent shot can be heard...

The man of the woods has just killed his beast and then, without waiting, he disappears into the depths of the forest....

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Image of Not-Only But-Also Riley
Not-Only But-Also Riley · ago
This story does a really good job of building its world. Although not much happens in the immediate moment, the reader is given tons through subtext, asides, and just the general thoughts of characters. I especially like the discussion of the relationship between the beast and its master, which feels really original. The fact that the master, who is human, is in actuality even worse than the beast, gives the story more moral heft (if that makes any sense). It gives the feeling that the beast, were it left in its own environment, would have just been as any animal would be, and extends the story beyond just a cool fantasy, action piece to a cool fantasy, action piece holding serious questions about the relationships humans form with animals. That said, I also just like cool fantasy, action pieces. Great work here, you've earned some votes from me.
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Image of Amanda Boucher
Amanda Boucher · ago
Unexpected ending. Well written. Thanks for your vote on mine" The story of a perfect moment.
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Image of Alliance
Alliance · ago
My pleasure, thank you for your visit^^
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