“What did he do?”
“He betrayed the tribe, Emrys. The Tomorrow Kings exiled him with permission from the Tribunal. Hence, the mask covering his face. It is to signify shame.”
“I know. So he is exiled. Problem solved. I do not see why I am here, Malina.”
The woman turns her gaze towards the man lying on his stomach. Donned with a fur-lined leather coat with a removable hood and other thick clothing, He was staring through the pair of white binoculars, which was already being covered with a blanket of snow. The inside of his coat was sheepskin. She’d worn it before when she was cold, like she is now. She scoffs with jealousy, and returns her attention to the walking figure ahead.
“We do not call you ‘The Hunter’ without a reason.” She replies soon after.
“I am known as ‘The Hunter’ merely because I am adapted to my surroundings, as everyone should be, and I hunt others. However, I do not indulge in any of the violent ways you have taught me. Remember, I am one of the Tomorrow Kings also, not just one of the Hunters. I must follow their own rules.” He explains, lowering the binoculars before peering through them once more.
“You do not even kill. I’d expect that you did by now.” She sighs.
“And what ever do you mean by that?” Emrys turns.
“Your family. You do not know who caused their death. Normally, people of our tribe, and most likely all these outsiders, would have a bloodthirsty revenge in their hearts. You do not seem to show it or possess it.” She reaches into her bag.
“And with good reason. If my mind was set on that path, I would become the person who killed my family. I do not feel inclined to be that.” Emrys eyes her.
“Well, it’s time you do.” Malina says as she shoves a scoped rifle into his arms.
Emrys blinks in a confusing manner as he lowers him down from the snow bank, gazing at the rifle. Malina follows him, and begins rummaging through her duffel once more.
“Did the Head Triber approve of this? Where did you even get this rifle? I’ve never seen the like.” Emrys holds the rifle awkwardly.
“He’s missing.” Malina says. “And please, I am known as ‘The Scavenger’. I find these things. Just another rifle. Old one, at least.”
“Finders keepers is the phrase, I believe.” He hands the rifle to her. “I will not kill him. The Hunters drown themselves in murder. I do not, despite my occupational status in the group.”
“Listen, you phenomenal coward.” Malina pins him to a tree trunk. “Things have changed. You are on strict orders to discover the identity of the murderer who has your family’s blood on your hands. And once you do, you are to permanently remove him from the face of the Earth. Justice is always served within the Tribe, and you know that.”
“Justice does not involve killing.” Emrys fires back.
“The Tribe’s sense of justice is unquestionable. Do not be a smartass and question it, Kilalurak.” She hisses. “Right now, I am to train you and make you into something different. You are going to live up to your title, and you will do so accordingly within this week. Is that clear?”
“...Give me the rifle.” Emrys wiggles out of her grip, and takes the rifle from her hands.
“I’m assuming you’ll want me to wear the mask.” Emrys says as he climbs up the snow bank.
“Yes. Time to bring fear in your enemies followed by a metal bullet or a cold blade.” She says, looking up at him as she grins.
“Better if you had both.”
Emrys removes a mask from his coat. Completely made of bone, including teeth and antlers, the mask was Emrys’ ‘alter ego’. All tribespeople within the Hunters must have one of their own, mainly to conceal their own identity and to bring fear in their victims. Emrys sets the mask gently on the snow before setting the rifle onto the top of the snow bank. He pulls the bolt back on the rifle, and slides a bullet into the chamber, slamming the bolt back in place.
The man was still not out of sight. It seemed that he was waiting for someone, but constantly walked towards the edge of the forest as if contemplating escape. There would be no escape for him while he was alive. The only way out would be death, as Malina would have put it.
Emrys sighs and gazes down the scope. He feels a hand pressing against his back, and realizes that Malina was lying close to him, making sure he was doing what he was supposed to do. She was also cold, and holding Emrys close to her would be the only warmth she’d receive from the snowy hour. Oh, did she wish she had that coat.
Emrys’ eyes watches as the crosshairs of the scoped rifle fall upon the figure’s head.
“Violent?” He asks. What choice did he have?
“Stupid question.” She says, pulling herself closer for warmth.
Emrys lowers his rifle slightly and re-adjusts his scope. As soon as the cross fell upon the man’s kneecap, Emrys fires. It wasn’t long before the lingering figure fell to the ground, writhing in pain as he calls out in agony.
Malina releases her grip on Emrys, allowing him to pull up the neoprene lower face mask up over his mouth. He quickly dons his custom mask and pulls his hood over his head. Emrys rises and steps over the snowbank while he slings the rifle across his back. Malina watches him as Emrys approaches the figure.
While he made his slow walk to the fallen man, Emrys could not help but wonder why he was doing this. Of course, he could leave both the Tomorrow Kings and the Hunters, and perhaps find his own way on discovering the identity of his family’s murderer. Instead, he chose this path; The path of supposed justice within the tribe. What good would come out of this? He knew that he could do this some other way. So why continue doing this?
He ends his train of thought as he came to the man. Removing the mask that was covering the man’s face, he widens his eyes. The Head Triber was lying before him with a broken kneecap. The man who was practically a second father to him, if not a supposed relative, lies broken and knocking on Death’s door.
“Just do it…” The Head Triber mutters, pushing himself up as he painfully settles himself on his knees.
Blood pierces the snow with its colorful drops. His knee was bleeding profusely, and Emrys could not comprehend the fact that the Head Triber knew it was him: Emrys.
Without hesitation, Emrys removes a black metal bar from his coat. Flicking it, he retracts a long blade from the bar. It wasn’t even a second before the blade slams into the side of the Head Triber’s neck.
Malina smirks as she watches from afar. Emrys had lowered the Head Triber onto the snow, and had slid the blade back into his coat. She sighs in relief and joy as she climbs over the bank, walking out to meet him halfway.
Emrys again could not help but think as he makes his way back to Malina. Different emotions were surging through his body. Adrenaline pumps through his veins as he takes each step. His first murder. The first animal of the hunt. He clenches his fists as he approaches Malina. Rage was in him now, and Malina was to face all of that.
But he relaxes his hands.
He realizes that it was not rage of mistrust and cowardice, but the rage of the moment of killing. He was angry, obviously. But at what?
He was furious that the murder did not give him that much satisfaction. It did not please him as much as he wanted it to. He wanted more. His path was set. And for he who walks it shall endure happiness and joy, whether it be sinful or just.