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The sun had not yet climbed past the peaks of the mountains when Zairah and Antheos went out to hunt. Zairah took a deep breath of the cool, clear autumn air that smelled of dry leaves and the snow on the mountain tops. They grinned at each other, then they plunged into the woods quietly, their bows at the ready.

The two of them had been best friends for as long as they could remember, and from the day they could hold a bow, their fathers had taken them hunting. Three years ago, Zairah had been accepted into the hunter's guild and they had hunted together almost daily since. Antheos' first stag hadn't happened yet, his first large kill to share in a large celebration, which would mean the introduction into the hunter's guild.

They had been hunting together for so long that everything just worked without them needing to talk to each other, so their haul was just the right amount when the first rays of sunlight touched the ground and they decided to return home. Antheos watched Zairah closely on the way back.

As per usual she was wearing men's clothes. Anthoes struggled to even imagine her in a woman's garments. Unlike most other girls, there was nothing shy or dainty about her. Instead, she was tall and proud and in her element, right here in the woods in the morning sun, her quarry in one hand, the bow in the other and a quiver full of arrows with green fletching on her back. Her long, black curls were tied back into a simple braid and her eyes, which were just as black, took in everything around her.

"Antheos, are you coming?" Zairah asked with an amused look. He hadn't even noticed that he'd stopped walking.

"Uhm, yes. But, before we're among people again, can I trust you with something?" Antheos asked.

"Sure, we're best friends. Anything. Spill." Zairah said. Antheos took a deep breath.

"Well, about that, so, I ... you ... we ... gods, words are hard." he stuttered, then he walked up to Zairah and kissed her. Zairah pushed him away.

"Antheos, I'm into women, remember?" she reminded him. She was not amused. She left him standing and forged ahead. Antheos stood there awkwardly for a moment, before he followed her. He found her hiding behind a bush, watching the valley.

"Zairah, I'm sorry. I ..." he began.

"Shh!" Zairah hissed at him, her expression serious. Antheos crouched down next to her and froze when he saw what she was looking at. A group of riders in dark clothes sped towards the village. Antheos was about to run down to the village, when the screaming started, but Zairah held him back.

"There's only two of us, we don't stand a chance." she whispered. Antheos was about to free himself from her hand and yell at her, how she could be this calm, but the look in her eyes held him back. She wanted to run to the village as much as he did, but she knew she wouldn't survive that. She was fighting back tears as they watched the riders set houses on fire, chain up the men and kill the women, children and elderly. They loaded the prisoners on carts and disappeared. As soon as they were out of sight, Zairah and Antheos ran down to the burning village, their quarry forgotten.

Completion Date
October 23rd, 1213
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