"Ah, Lillian, there you are," Elder Arlan said as I stormed into my hut. He frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," I snapped. "Now why are you here?"
He arched a brow but didn't press the subject. He gestured at the bed.
"We came with the extra bed. That way you both aren't sleeping on the floor," he added with a smirk and some of my anger faded.
"How did you-?"
He laughed. "I know how stubborn you are, little elf. Now tell me why you are so upset."
I shook my head. "It's nothing," I muttered, looking around the hut for a good place to put the second bed. "Just stupid stuff a stupid vampire stupidly said."
Elder Arlan sighed and sat me down on my bed. I pulled my feet up on the bed and rested my chin on my knees.
"You know, one thing I've learned about every race, is the male and female have a terrible time communicating," he said after a while. "One says something, the other takes it a certain way, and the result is anger and pain." I saw him look at me. "What did he say?"
I blushed. "Nothing," I said stubbornly. "But people are starting to tell him about my parents," I added, biting my lip.
Elder Arlan shook his head. "You need to tell him before he hears from someone else; especially the Summerset twins."
I glared at the floor. "They already talked to him. I'm certain of it. He said two elves came up to him while he was waiting for Petunia."
He sighed. "Tell him. If you don't before someone else does, it will be harder to explain."
I scoffed. "Well, after the bet we just made, I'm less inclined to."
I groaned and told him. "It's stupid, I know, but-"
"I think it's good," he interrupted and I stared at him. He was smiling. "The fact that you two are teasing each other and making deals like that shows you can do this." Outside, a bell rang. "Sounds like you need to get back to your ritual."
We stood up and I hugged him.
"And he's not bored," he whispered in my ear.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
He smiled kindly. "I am the elder of this realm, my dear. I'm aware of what's going on."
"So you're eavesdropping," I teased, nudging him as we walked back to the table.
"I would never invade your privacy like that," he said with a sniff. "Now go make up."
I groaned. "All right," I mumbled. "Are you going to stay for the feast?"
"Of course I am. My little elf made her first major kill."
I stopped walking. "You're right. That was my first, wasn't it?"
A smirk grew on his face and I nudged him again. I had been wanting to make my first major kill ever since I became a hunter. It was a huge honor and marked the skill of an elf.
"I suppose the arranged marriage and all that kind of distracted me," I said.
"Sure it did," Elder Arlan laughed and I glared at him. "Come join me once you've gotten your share."
I nodded just as Roan started walking over, looking guilty. Elder Arlan bowed his head and I tugged at my hair.
"Look," he began but I stopped him.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have just stormed off like that."
"You're apologize to me?" he asked. "I was the insensitive ass."
I chuckled. "Yeah, you were, but I know better than to just walk away. I should've stayed and talked it out with you. What did you really mean?"
He looked uncomfortable and didn't answer me.
"Oaken is saying you have to cut the deer now."
"Oh," I said. "Right. Elder Arlan would like us to sit with him once I'm done with that."
He just nodded and I walked away, frowning at the ground. Why did life have to become so complicated?
The head of the hunters, Juniper Eaves, was waiting for me with a broad grin on her face. I returned it.
"We've come tonight to celebrate this she-elf's first major kill," she announced and the assembled elves applauded. "First, I wish to present you with the sign of your victory."
I bowed as I accepted the deer's pelt. It had been cleaned and folded.
"Next is the blood of your kill to do with as you please," she said and passed me a vial. I shuddered a little. I never understood this part. Why give me the blood? "Finally, you will be given the honor of cutting your kill."
She handed me a silver knife and I glanced over at Elder Arlan and Roan. He still looked a little guilty so I brandished the knife at him with a devilish smirk. He rolled his eyes but nodded and I returned to the deer.
After I cut the deer up, Juniper clapped her hands twice and it multiplied enough to feed everyone. I took three plates and went to sit on the other side of Elder Arlan and Roan.
"Here you go," I said cheerfully. "The fruits of our labor."
"What are you going to do with the pelt?" Elder Arlan asked as Juniper put it beside me on the table.
I took a bite of the deer and stared at it.
"I'm not sure," I said finally. "I'm sure I'll think of something."
"And the blood?" he asked.
Roan put his fork down. "Okay. Please explain that to me. Even as a vampire, that seems a little...."
"Disgusting?" I offered and Elder Arlan laughed.
"Blood is the life force of every living creature," he explained as Roan and I ate, listening. "When Lillian made this kill, she took its life. So she is presented with its life force."
"And I was foolish enough to try and offer it to Roan," Petunia said, sitting beside me with a red face as Roan laughed.
"I appreciated the gesture," Roan said. "But we don't usually drink animal blood unless necessary."
"So what are you going to do with it?" Petunia asked and I sighed.
"I'm going to give it to Adelpha," I whispered. "On the next full moon."
No one spoke for a little while so I finished my deer in silence. I stood up and went to my hut, carrying the pelt and blood with me. I put it on top of my bookshelf then got in bed, staring up at the ceiling. I'm sure a lot of elves would be disgusted but, after the death of my parents, my... relationship with Adelpha had changed.
"Ah! A bed," Roan said, walking in. "Good. That floor was awful."
I laughed. "I told you. But you were too focused on being a gentleman."
He stretched out on the bed, once again reminding me of a cat.
"Yes, that's the downside to being a prince," he yawned. "I was forced to learn manners and act on them until they became second nature."
I looked over at him. We had put the bed on the other side of the hut and our heads were on the same side. I was shocked to see him watching me. He pointed at me.
"You're not strange," he said suddenly.
He turned on his side, his back facing me, and pulled the blanket over his body. I watched him for a couple minutes before doing the same.