The next morning, blessedly, Elva woke up feeling infinitely better. She bounced around the room
without a care in the world.
When I told her about her prospective wolf ride, she buzzed with excitement. She wiggled her arms back
and forth and jumped up and down on her feet.
She pouted when I made her sit down.
“You had a serious fever only twenty–four hours ago,” I said.
“That’s a hundred years ago,” she countered. She kicked her legs under the chair. “I want to ride a wolf.”
“You will. But we have to wait until you are well.” I wasn’t going to take any chances this time, not after
what happened. She had gotten sick because of my carelessness. Never again.
“Elva. The wolf will still be there tomorrow.”
“What if it isn’t?”
“It will be.”
Keeping Elva safe from sickness was only half of my worry. Since Lena’s threat the night before, I didn’t
dare bring her into any location where she would be at risk.
Today was the day of the hunt. Our prey was a wild boar. They were dangerous when cornered, with their
sharp tusks and instinct to charge. Whatever Lena had planned for me undoubtedly would make that risk
I didn’t want Elva anywhere around this event.
Leaving her in the care of the nanny, under the protection of Mark, I set out to face my fate.
Out in the courtyard, each of the girls were given a weapon of their choice, then sent with their wolves
out into the forest hunting grounds.
The princes would also participate, though would spread their attention among all the girls, and not
necessarily locus entirely on the hunt itself.
After greeting my wolf companion Silver, I chose a bow as my weapon.
The princes were already swarmed with the other girls, so I didn’t have any opportunity to say hello, That
The hunt was the event, so the hunt was what I would focus on.
“This might work for us,” I said to Silver.
She tilted her head, one ear flopping. For a full–sized wolf, she was very adorable.
If the rest of them are distracted, this gives us advantage of finding the boar first.”
Silver chuffed, then turned toward the forest. I quickly followed her lead. As a wolf, she could more
easily lead the charge. With her heightened sense of smell, she likely already knew the general location of
the boar, if not its exact spot.
Occasionally Silver would stop to sniff at the ground, pressing her nose into the underbrush. Then she
would grumble and continue forward.
Eventually, however, after sniffing the ground, she lowered herself a bit, tensing up. I quickly did too,
crouching low with my bow at the ready, arrow notched.
We were close.
I leaned against the side of a tree and peered around it. A massive boar was in a clearing just beyond, digging into the dirt.
It was huge and meaty, with large curling tusks. This wasn’t just a dangerous encounter, it was deadly.
How would one of the more inexperienced girls have dealt with such a monster? Perhaps the organizers
never considered a girl would find it on her own, without the help of the princes.
Silver looked at me. She was letting me take the first shot.
Because we had the drop on the boar, we held the advantage, both in terms of attack and protection. I
could wound the animal before it ever noticed me, if I couldn’t simply finish it off in one shot.
It had been a long time since I’d done this, but, as proven at the archery training those weeks before,
some skills never fully left me, even if they grew a bit rusty.
Lifting my bow, I lined up my shot. I steadied my breathing to keep my aim true. I drew back the arrow,
pulling tight at the bowstring.
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