The Hunt: In Sickness…

This is a rather lengthy story for a blog. This is the sixth of eleven parts. I never intended on adding onto it or making into something more. Perhaps your enthusiasm will change my mind.

 

in sickness

 

The morning after our late-night talk wasn’t drenched in blood, nor did it begin with violence. No one screamed or suffered from an enemy’s blow. The morning was sparked by the sun’s rising, and the easy transition from night, into day. The warmth of the morning was soothing as it gently encased my body. The brilliant light of the sun slithered into the world, pushing away shadows, and reducing fears. It healed the tension that brewed within our minds at night, and refreshed our bravery. Rays of this light stabbed their way through the many branches and leaves, casting a renewed sense across the forest.

As we sat cooking breakfast no one spoke. No one wanted to steal the calm of the morning. They wanted to soak up the dewy quiet, and coolness of the morning. The Hunt was not the romantic voyage some made it out to be. There was hardly room for wonder, or admiration. Even as the scribe, I hardly found time to simply gaze into the woods and look at the beautiful scenes nature constructed.

As we ate, we kept our silence going. Food was another luxury on the Hunt. Warm food was an even greater pleasure. As we neared the end of breakfast, Oliver began to glance around nervously. His eyes darted left and right, catching as many glimpses of the world as he could. He took in the semi-muted colors that populated the forest. They were still cool, and pale under the rising sunlight.

Oliver had chewed quickly, like he had been unwilling to bend to the necessary distraction of food and nourishment. I took note of this, as it was outside of his normal behavior. He was generally a steady, sure and well-manicured individual. Oliver was unfamiliar with the concept of nervousness. As we gathered our bags and equipment, he continued to twitch and stare intently at the trees.

“What’s wrong with Oliver?” Gregory asked just before we started moving.

“I have no idea,” I answered. Oliver stood by a tree looking at the map, scouting our route. “Let’s keep our eyes on him.”

“Yeah, I planned on it,” Gregory said packing up his gear. “He’s making me uneasy. All the fidgeting and glancing around nervously can’t be a good sign.”

“Maybe we’re near where the beasts live?” I offered.

“If he’s that afraid of just being near them, how are you and I going to make it home?” Gregory asked. “If the thought of being near these things is that bad, how terrible will fighting them be?”

“I hope you and I don’t have to find out,” I said as Oliver called for our departure.

Oliver lead, and Benedict took the rear as we marched onward. Within a half an hour Oliver motioned for us to stop. We froze instantly. No one spoke as we waited for our leader. Only the wind could be heard drifting through the branches and leaves. Benedict’s hand rested on his sword, ready to pounce. Gregory was tense as well; his fingers were turning white around the handle of his sword. I could feel my muscles tighten as we waited. I waited for something to happen. Whatever Oliver had seen, or heard, I waited for it to come and attack. But nothing came, and I heard no sounds. Nothing seemed out of place besides Oliver.

“Oliver,” I spoke in the silence. “Is everything okay?”

“I can see them in the trees,” he muttered. “I feel their eyes tracing my body.”

“What is he talking about?” I asked Benedict. “What’s wrong with him?”

“I can feel them coming,” he continued. “I can see them on the ground, torn and shattered. I can see them dying.”

“He’s breaking down,” Benedict said quickly, rushing to help. He propped Oliver up on his shoulder and urged us on. “Move!”

“What’s wrong with him?” Gregory begged impatiently.

“He’s cracking,” Benedict said in a strained tone. He was struggling to haul our leader through the woods. “And, he’s flashing back.”

“Flashing back to what?” I questioned without moving.

“To the battles he fought all over these woods,” Benedict said harshly. “Don’t you know this? He’s a war hero. He’s been all over this area fighting.”

“But what is wrong with him?” Gregory asked impatiently. Benedict stopped and turned around. Oliver’s face was pasty and long. He looked like he was going to die at any moment.

“You can get sick after you’ve seen combat, especially the kind he went through. He was one of the people that went after the beasts. His team hunted them and killed them. He saw people ripped to pieces, his best friends were ripped apart in front of his eyes. They were shot at, blown up and murdered in the slowest and most terrifying ways. They were hunted by the cruelest monsters on the planet: human beings. He fought in this section of the woods

“Once, everything on this side of that mountain we camped by last night, was a battlefield soaked in blood and decorated with more bones and pieces of bodies than you can imagine. It was sickening. I was there at the end of the battle. Oliver made it out alive when no one should have.”

Benedict turned back around and rushed through the woods. We followed him, trying to watch out for mysterious people, and savage animals the allusive beasts we were tasked with smiting.

“Where are we going,” I shouted, trying to catch up.

“Benedict!” Gregory called.

“We have to get out of here,” Benedict answered, moving through the forest. “The beasts are near. They will come if we stay, and I cannot defend you all on my own. There are too many of them. They will slaughter us if we don’t leave!”

 

Continue to part seven here

Go back to part five

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