A quest of Heroes - S01 E45

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Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 45

“That spear won’t be long enough,” Conval said

“These boars have big tusks. You need something longer,” Conven said.

“Take mine,” Elden said, running to Thor and offering his spear.

“I can’t take yours,” Thor said. “What would you use?”

Elden shrugged. “I’ll be okay.”

Thor was touched at his generosity, and marveled at how different their friendship was now.

“Take one of mine,” ordered a voice.

Thor looked up and saw Erec ride up beside him, gesturing to the saddle, which held two long spears.

Thor reached out and grabbed a long spear from the saddle, grateful to have it. It was heavier, and more awkward to run with—but he did feel more protected, and it sounded like he would need it.

They ran and ran, until the air burned in Thor’s lungs and he did not know if he could go any farther. He was alert, looking about him for any sign of an animal. He felt protected with these other men around him, and invincible with a long spear. But he was still very much on edge. He had never hunted a boar before, and had no idea what to expect.

As his lungs burned, the forest broke open into a clearing and thankfully, Erec and Kendrick pulled their horses to a stop. Thor assumed that granted them all permission to stop, too. They all stood there, the eight of them in the forest clearing, the boys on foot gasping for air, and Erec and Kendrick dismounting from their horses. The horses panted, but otherwise it was quiet, the only sound the wind in the trees. The noise of the hundreds of other men racing through the forest was now gone, and Thor realized they must be very far from the others.

He looked around the clearing, panting.

“I haven’t seen any markings of animals,” Thor said to Reece. “Have you?”

Reece shook his head.

“The boar is a crafty animal,” Erec said, stepping forward. “He won’t always show himself. Sometimes he’ll be the one watching you. He might wait until you’re caught off guard, and then he’ll charge. Always keep your guard up.”

“Look out!” O’Connor yelled.

Thor spun and suddenly a large animal burst into the clearing with a huge commotion; Thor flinched, thinking they were being attacked by a boar. O’Connor screamed, and Reece turned and hurled a spear at it. It missed, and the animal flew up into the air. It was then that Thor realized it was just a turkey, disappearing back into the wood.

They all laughed, the tension broken. O’Connor reddened, and Reece laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, friend,” he said.

O’Connor looked away, embarrassed.

“There are no boar here,” Elden said. “We chose a bad path. The only thing down this path are fowl. We will come back empty-handed.”

“Maybe that’s not a bad thing,” said Conval. “I hear a boar fight can be life-and-death.”

Kendrick calmly surveyed the wood; Erec did the same. Thor could see on the faces of these two men that something was out there. He could tell from their experience and wisdom they were on guard.

“Well, the trail seems to end here,” Reece said. “So if we go on, the wood will be unmarked. We won’t find our way back.”

“But if we go back, our hunt is over,” O’Connor said.

“What would happen if we should return empty-handed?” Thor asked. “Without a boar?”

“We would be the laughingstock of the others,” Elden said.

“No we wouldn’t,” Reece said. “Not everyone finds a boar. In fact, it’s more rare to find one than not.”

As the group of them stood there in silence, breathing hard, watching the woods, Thor suddenly realized he had drunk too much water. He had been holding it in the entire hunt and now he had such a pain in his bladder, he could barely contain it.

“Excuse me,” he said, and began make to his way into the woods.

“Where are you going?” Erec asked, cautious.

“I just have to relieve myself. I’ll be right back.”

“Don’t go far,” Erec cautioned.

Thor, self-conscious, hurried into the woods and went about twenty paces from the others, until he found a spot just out of view.

Just as he finished relieving himself, suddenly, he heard a twig snap. It was loud and distinct, and he knew—he just knew—it was from no human.

He turned slowly, the hair rising on the back of his neck, and looked. Up ahead, maybe another ten paces, was another small clearing, a boulder in its center. And there, at the base of the boulder, was movement. A small animal, he could not tell what.

Thor debated whether to go back to his people or to see what it was. Without thinking, he crept forward. Whatever the animal was, he didn’t want to lose it, and if he headed back, it might be gone when he returned.

Thor stepped closer, hairs on edge as the woods got thicker and there was less room to maneuver. He could see nothing but dense woods, the sun cutting at sharp angles. Finally, he reached the clearing. As he approached, he loosened his grip on his spear, and lowered it down to his hip. He was taken aback by what he saw before him in the clearing, in a patch of sunlight.There, squirming in the grass beside the rock, was a small leopard cub. It sat there, squirming and whining, squinting into the sun. It looked as if it had just been born, barely a foot long, small enough to fit inside Thor’s shirt.

Thor stood there, amazed. The cub was all white, and he knew it must be the cub of the white leopard, the rarest of all animals.

Hearing a sudden rustling of leaves behind him, he turned to see the entire group rushing toward him, Reece out front, looking worried. In moments, they were upon him.

“Where did you go?” he demanded. “We thought you were dead.”

As they all came up beside him and looked down at the cub, he could hear them gasp in shock.

“A momentous omen,” Erec said to Thor. “You have found the find of a lifetime. The rarest of all animals. It has been left alone. It has no one to care for it. That means it’s yours. It is your obligation to raise it.”

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A Quest Of Heroes - S01 E44

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