By Alexandria Hodson ’21
I was running, but whether it was from my responsibilities or the beasts behind me, I couldn’t be sure. A howl sounded behind me, and I knew I needed to find a weapon and hide.
Just moments before, I’d been standing up on a wooden platform as the announcer read off my crimes. They weren’t anything monumental, but it was customary to force wrongdoers into the stadium for everyone to see as they paid either in blood or sweat. Though I don’t recall a time any noble had to be tried. I could hear the monotone voice preaching to the district what I’d done.
“Hunter number four one seven, Madilyn Banks, daughter of Henry Banks, Hunter number three two nine, has been caught stealing from Cathryn Pressly, daughter of Sir Pressly. Let it be known that the items stolen have been returned to their rightful owner. Today, Miss Banks will be tried for her crimes. At this time, the wheel of beasts shall be spun, and her punishment decided.”
I’d watched the wheel spin for what seemed like an eternity until it landed on one word. Wolves. They were better than the lion, or even the panther, but they would be quick and merciless. I needed to find something to give me a defensive advantage in the wooded arena.
The area was meant to resemble the forest. It was a comforting sight for hunters like me, but I’d seen men before me pause just a hair too long before entering into their depths and get shredded to bits because of their decision. I wasn’t gonna let that happen to me. So, when the horn sounded, I’d leapt off the platform and bounded, like a deer, into the trees.
To give the ‘criminals’ a fighting chance, a few select weapons had been planted under rocks, branches, and even at the bottom of the lake in the center of the playing field. I wasn’t looking for the sword, or the dagger, or anything that would require me to get close up to the animals wanting my blood. My best bet was to find the bow, and the quiver meant to be placed beside it. I had one at home, ornate and delicate, but silent and deadly. It was perfect for getting food on the table and meeting the daily quota my dad and I were required to reach.
I could feel his eyes watching me as I made my way through the tangled growth before me. He had gotten so mad when the officers had arrived at our house. I was sure he was going to hit me. The hate in his eyes had sent shivers down my spine, silencing any retorts I’d been ready to whip out at him. I’d like to think that if I explained myself, he’d be less disappointed, but I know him too well.
It wouldn’t matter that ‘Prissy Pressly’ had showered a girl with rude and degrading comments. It wouldn’t matter that I had stood up to her in an attempt to teach her a lesson. He wouldn’t care that for all the shame my trial would bring upon our family, it would make that girl feel loved and respected. He only cared about laying low and staying guarded. The fewer people who knew about us, the better. I suppose this tribunal would be ‘blowing our cover,’ but what cover did we have?
The nobility didn’t care about us! They cared only about themselves. I’d gone out of my way to attack them, that wouldn’t be forgotten. I was sick of acting like I was a nobody, could you blame me? But not even my family would understand.That wouldn’t stop me. The jokes, the pranks, the ploys, the plots. They’d continue. No one was gonna stop me from living my life the way I wanted to; Not even the wolves chasing after me. Maybe when this was over, I would be recognized and noticed by people other than my friends and family. Then I would have a power the nobility could only dream of. The other hunters would back me up and praise me, cheer even as I mounted the platform once more, this time with a skin in hand. And the only question in my mind would be: What next?