Hunter/Hunted by Michael J. Dusseault

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HUNTER/HUNTED
By M. Dusseault


HE snapped the arrow off just above the point of entry. Luckily it went through, so he could remove it without the arrowhead staying behind. He reached over his left shoulder with his right hand and gripped the arrowhead. Gritting his teeth, he pulled. As it slid out, he gave a stifled cry and dropped to a knee, head bowed. He hadn't taken a wound in quite a while and had almost forgotten the pain that had once plagued his life. It appeared to him that it had returned.
He could hear the pursuit coming closer. How were they tracking him? He had no scent for the hounds to follow, and these humans could never trail him this quickly. Something tickled his mind ever so softly, and then it was gone. What was that? It felt familiar somehow, but he could not place it.
He dropped the broken shaft to the ground and quickly kicked some dead leaves and twigs over it. He couldn't waste any more time here, or they would surely overtake him. He took one of his knives out and gripped it tightly. He was not exactly sure why he did this, and decided it was because of the sense of comfort he had when there was a blade in his hand. Trying his best to keep his injured shoulder immobile, he began to move.
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"THIS way! Quickly now. That arrow will not stop him. He is a jehandi devil!" Kinierit said. The other men did not know how Kinierit did it, but he hadn't led them astray yet. "You there! Brin! Take the dogs back to town. They are no help to us and neither are you! Worthless mongrels all of you! If you were any slower you'd be dead. That's a promise, I tell you!"
Brin meekly gathered the leashes of the four hounds with the group from the others and pulled them back the way they came. The dogs were casting about, in search of a scent that was not there, obviously distressed. They followed Brin away and were soon out of the hunting party's sight.
Into the underbrush Kinierit led the remaining four men, his sword easily slicing a path. A tall man with dark hair was he, and his skin was pale. It was because of his life in the forest, he told the townsfolk when he arrived a few months ago. He did not spend much time in the sun. He kept his hair cut short so the branches and bush would not snag it. He came from a woodland village to the northeast, and left it to see more of the world. Nothing further would he tell them, because the less they knew, the less likely it was for them to catch him in a lie. So far it worked.
They had quickly put him in charge of the village's security because of his skill with weaponry, and his eyes were remarkably keen at night. His abrasive persona made him the perfect choice for a sheriff. He had no personal ties to anyone here, and it seemed likely that he never would.
He was out with the hunters yesterday evening looking for deer, as was sometimes his wont, when the feeling came upon him. It was unmistakable. The last time he felt it, he had found one of his lost brothers and their reunion was grand with devilry.

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