Chapter One

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          Siobhan looked from the cart loaded with her kills to the orange-pink burning in the horizon

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          Siobhan looked from the cart loaded with her kills to the orange-pink burning in the horizon. One more kill could mean the difference between spending the winter with a roof over her head, or scrounging for warmth and scraps. She played with her lower lip, scanning the fields. Earlier that day she'd seen a Smilodon prowling the high grass. The tusks alone would guarantee mead in her belly, a roof over her head, and plenty left over to barter passage to Ardorn.

"M'lady." A grizzled voice rose behind her. "It's getting dark. We should return to the city."

"Don't call me M'lady, and we'll head back in a minute," she said, waiving one hand. She rested her bow against the wagon and bounded to the nearby tree.

"M'lady!"

"In. A. Minute."

With a single jump, she pushed on the trunk of the tree and grabbed the closest branch. Muscles strained under her weight as she pulled herself up. Siobhan prided herself on her physical condition, but her arm muscles were sore from a days' worth of hunting and made the climb harder than it should've been. Even she had her limits. She continued upward, one branch after another, until she reached the highest peak that could safely hold her weight. One hand gripped the branch as she shimmied to the edge, clearing her view from the remaining leaves.

Wind swarmed her, rocking her precarious perch. Her eyes narrowed as she returned her gaze to the distance. Smilodon were stealthy creatures, near impossible to find let alone kill. Their fur had the ability to camouflage itself to any surroundings, making it the perfect predator. When she was a child, her people believed it to be a sin to kill such a glorious creature. Anyone who dared to do so became a ghost upon the earth. As an adult, Siobhan cared more for surviving than some silly superstation. Those tusks would care for her through the entire winter, when hunting was impossible.

"M'lady, please!"

She sighed and glanced to her annoying companion. Elias stood at the base of the tree, his colorful robes rippled with the force of the wind. Both hands were tucked in his sleeves, as they usually were when he didn't need them. Since she was barely out of her mother's womb, Elias was by her side, watching over her as if she were his daughter. A feat physically impossible for his kind once they swore servitude.

"Stop calling me M'lady!" She sighed. "I'm looking for that Smilodon we saw earlier. I was a fool for not going after it first."

"With all due respect, M'lady," Elias said. Siobhan groaned. He never would listen to her when she begged him not to call her M'lady. "While I understand your reasoning, those tusks will do no good if we don't return to the city before the markets close. All the kills you've already gathered will be wasted on top of the meat from the Smilodon."

She looked from the silver-haired annoyance back to the horizon. The sun was more than half way toward its slumber for the evening. By the time the final edge vanished into the abyss, the bells of the city would chime and all markets would close. It pained her to admit it, Elias was right. Half a days hunt would be for naught if she didn't get something for the carcass' sitting in the cart. While she no longer held value in superstitions, she still held value in waste. Trained as a competent hunter, she learned to use all of her kills or not kill at all.

Draygon Frost | Book 1 | ✔️Read this story for FREE!