Chapter 16 - Spring

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I bite my lower lip as I steady my arm and spear, ready to hunt the doe in front of me. Ethan shifts slightly next to me to ready his bow, making a rustling sound. The doe instantly brings its head up and looks around with its black eyes. I grind my foot into Ethan's for making noise. He winces slightly and the doe spots us.

I quickly stand from my crouching position and throw my spear towards its neck but the doe is quicker. The spear punctures the tree behind the animal as it starts to run away in the opposite direction with its thin legs.

" Damn the hells, " I mutter as Ethan stands up and releases the arrow from his bow. The doe falls to the ground as soon as the arrow stabs through its head.

He looks to me with a smug expression and starts to step over the bush we were hiding. " Told you I'm better, " he says with a smile, looking back to me.

I give him a glare and follow him out of the bush. " That one does not count. You distracted it. " I quicken my pace to match Ethan's.

He chuckles slightly. " No, I did not. You're the one that stepped on my foot, " he says, lifting the foot I stepped slightly above the ground.

I roll my eyes and we arrive at the fallen doe. Its tongue, red and bloody is sticking out and the arrow that runs through its neck is also the same color. Ethan crouches near the doe before pulling out the arrow out swiftly, blood coming out of the wound.

His wrinkles his nose. " Gods, why does it smell so bad? " He mutters as he covers his nose with the back of his hand.

I crouch next to him and scoffs. " Try living in the Outlands. It's much worse, " I say as I pull out a dagger and start to cut the doe into big chunks of meat.

Ethan started to hunt with me after the Winter Festival. It turns out he is a good archer and it helps to get small meat like those fast and agile rabbits or squirrels. Or big deer and does like this one. Sometimes we make a game who gets the most but by the end of the day, he still gives all of the meat to me.

As I cut through the meat, I notice the green grass already sprouting on the ground. The trees are also growing back the leaves and I can see a few flowers slowly growing at the patch. I suppose Winter is over and now Spring has come.

Ethan sits down onto the green field as he plucks a peppermint leaf and starts to suck silently. I sit down on my haunches to make it easier and carefully cut the lower half of the doe after finishing with the upper. We sit in a comfortable silence as I finish and Ethan fills my sack with the meat.

Now what is left of the doe is bones and a  few flesh that cannot be eaten. I sit down too on the grass next to Ethan, sighing. He gives me a peppermint leaf and I place it onto my tongue, the sweet taste dancing on it.

I drop my body onto the ground, wincing slightly from the impact and reminding myself that the fluffy snow is no longer here. " Your brother's name day feast is in Spring, correct? " I say after a few moments of looking up to the sun through the leaves of the tree above us.

Ethan nods slightly and raises his eyebrows. " You remember, " he says, an edge in his voice.

" How could I not? That's why the people were starving, " I say, remembering how I worked at the fields and the old people and children slowly turning into a bag of bones.

Ethan looks to me over his shoulder and I notice a hint of hurt and guilt in his green eyes. I sit back up instantly and I say " Were, " I reassure him. " You stop the rationing, remember? "

I can see his jaw tightening. " But people die, didn't they? " He runs a hand through his black hair and sighs loudly. 

I remember back at the number of graves that suddenly risen after the messenger came. But the people died not because of hunger but because of murder. Several bastards thought it would be a good idea to steal and kill for food.  One night they were caught slicing a farmer's throat open. Those bastards were caught and fed to the hounds. At least the dogs had a feast that night. 

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