Lost Boy

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A warrior.

The moment Taehyung comes into view, I hear the rapid murmurs of women. He stands oblivious to all of it, spurring the dark stallion to the line of men. A longbow is strapped to his back. His eyes gleam the deep shade of red. Below, his nose and lips are masked.

The hunter clothes I'd had fitted for him suits him like it was meant to be his from the beginning. It outlines his figure, lean but ripping with hidden, explosive strength. His shoulders have gotten even broader than a month before, his legs wrapped around the body of the horse. He uses no saddle.

He truly is beautiful. All the women only have eyes for him.

But he has only just crossed the line of adolescence to adult.

So while the other girls call for him, my head is full of worry.

What if I was sending him to his own death?

He turns. There's a moment when I meet eyes with him.

I raise my hand, in a wave. Just like the women traditionally do as they send off their champions. But instead of excitement, my eyes show the worry.

He notices.

And I see his gaze harden with assurance, before setting in resolve. I see the way he drops his hand to his thigh, where his sword is sheathed. He brushes a gloved fingertip to the worn cloth tied around the hilt, before bringing it to his masked lips.

Don't forget my wish, Mistress.

I can't help but laugh. It's as if he's talking to me, just a foot away.

I see his mask shift slightly as he smiles underneath it. And then the moment breaks, and my champion turns to spur the stallion along. He keeps near to my father, who raises his hand, tightened around a gold-crusted sword.

"Let the Hunt begin!"



I keep close to the King. Close, but far enough so that he doesn't notice. He's too focused ahead of him, one hand clasping his bow and the other around the reins of his chestnut stallion.

Mistress had said assassins.

My lips purse. And I listen for the tiniest sound, eyes scanning through the heavily wooded forests. Every so often, I hear a triumphant hoot of a noble as they shoot down a deer.

The chirp of a stray hummingbird. The soft sound of the dirt as it's crushed under the hooves of a horse.

The faint whistle of an arrow.

My eyes jerk open. In one swift motion I unsheathe my sword, cutting through the shaft in midair. I pull the rein of my horse back as I feel it tense with terror, gaze fixing on a silhouette perched on the branch of a tree.

Another arrow.

Then there's a roar of a stallion. Not mine.

I whip around. And I see three arrows buried into the body of the stallion that the King rides. He tries to calm the horse, but it's already gone wild.

It's too late.

I see the horse buck in agony. It's beyond sane, foam bubbling from its lips. Just from its eyes, I can tell.

The King struggles to hold onto the reins. But he doesn't hold on for long, and I curse as I drive my foot into the body of my stallion. It races forward, and I raise myself from the saddle.

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