Author: zqwongoose PM
Henrietta has always been a simple girl. But when tragedy strikes, she must tear herself from her birthplace in order to right the wrong, even though discovery of her plan could mean death.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Chapters: 24 - Words: 27,164 - Reviews: 26 - Updated: 06-01-12 - Published: 05-10-12 - id: 3021143
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I'm actually thinking of trying to get this one published, maybe, so constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated!
"Henrietta!" my father whispered loudly, shaking me gently. Groaning, I rolled over.
"Five more minutes," I grumbled, snuggling deeper into my blankets. He chuckled quietly, and then shook me again. Groaning, I sat up, rubbing my bright green eyes.
"What time is it?" I asked, swinging my legs over the side of the mattress and placing my feet on the cold dirt floor. I flinched and raised them up an inch or two.
"It's almost five in the morning. You slept in today, little missy!"
"Starting today," I replied, annoyed. "You are no longer allowed to call me that. I'm officially ten years old today. That means I am no longer little."
"Is that so?" he asked, grinning. "Well I'm afraid, little missy, that you will never get too old for me to call you little missy. By the way, happy birthday!" I scowled.
"I'll be ready in a minute, dad. Just wait for me outside." He waltzed out of the three room hut, and I pulled on my breeches. I glanced across the room, and noticed that my brother's bed was empty. He must already have been up. My mother, however, was fast asleep, sleeping silently on my parents' bed. I reached for my shirt, and tugged over my head. I threw on a leather vest and some leather armguards, and then put on a pair of gloves. I pulled on my leather boots, and then put my black hair in a hair band.
I smiled. I was lucky that my father was one of the kingdom's best hunters. It meant we got lots of leather clothes, and leather was very useful. We also had a lot of meat, so we never went hungry, and we sold enough of it that we always had enough for our needs.
Now, my father was teaching my brother, Esmour, and I how to carry on his skills. I stood up quietly, not wanting to wake my mother. She was a very light sleeper, and she was the only one in our family not used to early morning hunting trips and exercises. I grabbed my daggers, my bow, and a quiver full of arrows that my father had made himself.
I ran outside to meet my father and brother, who were both standing outside waiting for me. As we walked through the village towards the forest, I slung the quiver over my back and slipped on the belt that sheathed my daggers. I held my bow firmly in my hand, and soon we were at the edge of the woods.
On most days, Esmour and I would take turns leading our hunting trips, and the game would be prepared for our family, but some days, like today, were what my dad called "business trips," where our game would be sold or bartered for necessities. Due to the need for perfection, my father led these trips.
My father led the way into the woods, and by the light of the rising sun we made our way deeper and deeper into the woods. Soon, my brother spotted some deer tracks, almost brand new. My father motioned for us to crouch down, and then led us forward, our footsteps completely silent on the forest floor. I took an arrow out of my quiver and held it ready.
Suddenly, our father motioned us to a halt. In a clearing just ahead was a herd of deer, grazing peacefully. My father drew his bow back slowly, and it didn't make a sound. We didn't want to alarm the deer and make them run. He aimed at the largest, and kinked his neck at it, indicating we should do the same. We obeyed, drawing our bows just as quietly as he had. Our father hadn't even let us into the woods before we could draw a bow silently.
He mouthed the words, "one… two… three…" then shouted, "Fire!" We all let loose our arrows simultaneously, and before the buck could even look up, it was down. The other deer started to panic, and papa gave us the signal for fire at will, three quick tongue clicks. All three of us shot at the fleeing deer, and I took down one of the does, with some help from Esmour. Our father took down two more, and I marveled at the speed of his shooting, not for the first time. It was superhuman, the speed at which he could draw arrows and shoot them.
The last several deer ran off, and we entered the clearing to survey our kills. Four deer. It was a good day for us, though not unheard of. Usually we had to track more than one herd to kill this many, though.
Papa sent Esmour and I back to town to fetch some carts, and we pulled them back into the woods. We loaded the deer carcasses onto the carts, and together we pulled them home. We picked the smallest one, and left it by our front door for mama. She would clean the kill and prepare the meat, as soon as she awoke. We then took the other three to town.
We walked for a long while, but finally we came to the baron's manor. We came up to the large gates, and a servant, recognizing us, let us in. We came up to the large front door, and my father knocked. Another servant opened the door, and then told us to wait. A minute later, the baron himself came to the door.
"Why! It's you, Jakys! Goodness sakes, Fowler, I thought you weren't going to come!" I stifled a grin. A baron he might be, but he didn't act like one. He had more close friends amongst the commoners than the nobility.
"And Esmour! My, you've grown since last I saw you!" Bowing, my brother replied,
"You always say that, my lord. It's only been week or so."
"Well, it's always true!" he replied, and then turned to my father. "So, what have you got for me today?" he asked, rubbing his hands together. As my father and the baron discussed today's hunt, the baroness came out. She was a kind woman, and her hazel eyes always danced like she thought something was funny.
"Henrietta!" she exclaimed, coming over and squeezing me. I smiled, laughed, and said, "Baroness Drayton, sometimes I forget that you two are nobles! Can you imagine what other nobles would say if they could see right now?" She rolled her eyes, then let me go, going over to give the same treatment to Esmour.
By then, the two men finished the deal, the baron put some coins in my father's hand, and the largest deer was carried into the house be some servants. The baron invited us inside, but my father turned him down politely. We had to go help mama prepare our meat, and we still had a delivery to make.
We went back to town, strolling leisurely down the road. We came to the butcher shop, and we traded him the remaining two deer for some hides. Then we headed home.
It was still early, maybe seven or eight in the morning, so we went in quietly so that if mama was still asleep we wouldn't wake her. She was up, so we all went about cleaning and preparing the meat. Father tanned the hide when we were finally done, and the rest of us went inside to eat. He followed not long after, done with the scraping and waiting for the skin to cool. He ate a quick breakfast, and then went back outside to cover the hide in salt.
Esmour and I cleared off our plates, and then Esmour asked, "What chores do we need to do today, mama?" He always was a goody two-shoes.
She smiled, and then said, "Actually, there isn't much to be done. Why don't you two go play and I'll do the chores." Esmour nodded and went outside almost automatically, but I stayed and asked, "Are you sure mama?" She nodded.
"Okay," I said, shrugging, and went after Esmour. It was a few minutes to walk into town, and we spent most of the trip in silence. Esmour went straight to the blacksmith's the moment we got into town, his best friend being the blacksmith's son, Egbert. I, however, kept walking. My goal was the healer's, and she was employed by the baron and baroness, so her shop was right by their front gate, way on the other side of the town. I started jogging, wanting to get there faster.
When I was almost there, I ran into Jeffrey, the healer's son. "Hello, Jeffrey!" I greeted, glad to have run into him before I walked all the way to his home. "Can you tutor me today?" He looked over, startled. He had his nose in a book, as always, and hadn't noticed me, because his blonde bangs were in the way of his electric blue eyes. I smiled.
"Oh! Henrietta, it's you. Happy birthday. I think I could, yes, as long as you were coming over for more than just that." I nodded. It was our agreement. He would teach me to read and write if I would be his friend. It wasn't much of a trade, though, because I would have been his friend anyway.
I don't really know why I wanted to learn to read and write, but that's how it was. I was just one of those girls who liked to know everything. He had already taught me some basic mathematics. He turned around, and we walked the last few minutes to his house. He was lucky to be so educated. His mother had gone to healer's school, so she had been able to teach him.
We walked inside, and I called, "Hello, Mrs. Olyver!" His mother walked into the room, and said, "I told you, Henrietta, to call me Helen! And happy birthday!" I rolled my eyes, and then went over to sit at the table that Jeffrey and I studied at.
He spent the next several hours telling me about grammar structure, and I absorbed his every word. When tutoring time was over, we went outside. We found some sticks, and then had a mini sparring match. Neither of us knew much of sword fighting, but we both longed to be warriors in our own way. He wanted to be a knight, though it was unlikely he ever would be, while I wanted to be a hunter. Commoners were rarely chosen to be knights, but I supported him anyway.
We played for a long time, jumping and laughing. Then it was time for me to go.
"I'll see you later, Jeffrey!" I called over my shoulder as I walked off. When I got home a while later, it was almost dinnertime. I hadn't even eaten lunch! I ran inside.
"There you are!" Esmour exclaimed. "Took you long enough!" I smiled, and then sat down at the table.
"I got here just in time!" I retorted. We ate dinner cheerily, and after a while it was time to sleep.
"Good night!" I called quietly, when we were all in our beds.
"Good night!" everyone replied.