A gallant knight, a disgraced prince, and an outcast who's stuck between it all. A story set in the medieval times, with action, romance and betrayal.
A clean shot, right through the eye!
Zahra darted over to where the squirrel's dead body lay twitching. Had she been any more squeamish, she would have felt guilty for taking the life of an innocent animal, but those feelings were overridden by the hunger that rolled in her stomach. Retrieving her arrow and placing the squirrel into her game sack, Zahra stood and caught her breath. She hadn't realized she'd been holding her breath when she aimed and shot the squirrel.
Pausing for a moment, Zahra looked around to make sure she wasn't being tracked. Was that her imagination, or did she hear the foliage rustle nearby? Gripping her game sack more closely to her chest, she steadied herself and forced herself to think rationally.
Okay, Zahra. If there is someone nearby, you must shoot them. Don't think about who they are. If you are going to keep yourself and your younger sisters alive, then you must not let guilt override instinct.
Readying another arrow, Zahra stood still and listened as the foliage rustled again. Running her fingers along the arrow, she forced herself to breathe steadily. Don't hesitate to protect yourself, Zahra, she thought. Imelda and Grazenni are depending upon you!
At the exact moment that Zahra took another deep breath, a young man who appeared to be in the service of the king tore through the bushes and raised his sword. Taken aback despite her efforts to remain calm, Zahra hesitated one moment before raising her arrow and shooting it at her target.
With an umph!, the intruder twisted his body so that the arrow landed in his shoulder instead of his heart. Within moments, he'd caught up to Zahra before she could so much as raise another arrow.
Dismounting his horse, the man knocked Zahra down and pinned her to the ground. "What do you think you're doing, hunting in the sacred grounds? And don't you know that women are strictly forbidden to carry weapons?"
In response, Zahra spat on the man's face. If she was going down, she would go down with dignity.
"Listen, I don't want to have to hurt you, but you must cooperate," the man said through clenched teeth, ignoring the saliva that Zahra had spit onto his forehead. "I don't want to hurt you."
"I didn't know!" Zahra blurted out, suddenly terrified as she realized that her being taken captive would result in her younger sisters having nobody to look after them. "I didn't know I wasn't supposed to be here! And I didn't know that women can't hunt!" Rage overcoming her once more, she exclaimed, "Since when can't women carry arrows? Seems a little old-fashioned, don't you think?"
"Hold your tongue! I will not have you profaning the sacred grounds with your words!"
"Oh, really? What if I profane it with squirrel innards?" Zahra freed one hand and managed to fling the dead squirrel out onto the ground. Then, she proceeded to grab the arrow she'd shot into the man and twist it so that it penetrated more of the man's flesh.
Gasping in pain, the man was distracted long enough for Zahra to wriggle both arms free.
Knowing there was no use in running, Zahra reached out and mangled the squirrel's body with her hands. If she was going to profane the sacred ground, then she would do it with a vengeance. When the man caught her again, Zahra hit him with the dead squirrel. "There!" she shouted. "I hope your sacred ground has been more profaned than ever before in history!"
"I must give it to you," the man said as he tied Zahra up, "you've got spunk."
"And you've got guts," Zahra said. She smirked and nodded at the place where she'd thrown the squirrel at the man. "Literally."
"I suppose introducing myself would be futile?"
"After you pin me down and almost strangle me? No, introducing yourself wouldn't be futile at all," Zahra retorted sarcastically.
Swinging Zahra onto the horse, the man mounted and held her tightly. "Try to escape, and I'll be forced to knock you out," he said.
Zahra snorted and looked away.
"Don't push your limits, young woman."
"You've still got squirrel innards on your back."
The next thing Zahra knew was that she'd been knocked out.