“All I did was bring home leftover beef from the kitchen!” Laurn revealed his presence behind Sinae. He reached around her and playfully tried to snatch one of the biscuits out of the basket. Sinae was quicker. She held the basket against her and giggled at her husband’s futile attempts.
“Wait until it’s on the table, Laurn!”
Laurn was a year older than Sinae. He had dark brown hair like his father, but small streaks of golden blonde ran through it and tipped it. Laurn’s blue eyes danced merrily. When things were bad, it was Laurn’s cheerful optimism that encouraged them and kept them going. And he encouraged more than just themselves. Laurn and Sinae were the youngest couple among the veil’s hunter clans. Laurn’s father was the youngest full adult.
Moonstone Veil was falling apart under Lord Sabin. He was old, so old that no one in the veil could remember when he was a child. He had long ago let the fields dwindle and then die. The field workers were taken to the castle and given other jobs.
Lord Sabin had no need of grain or meat. Eventually, the number of hunters dwindled to a bare minimum necessary to feed the many laborers in the castle. They scavenged the surrounding forests for everything edible and sometimes went beyond the veil’s protective shroud.
Laurn bore a few new bruises from such an excursion the night before. There was a bull loose near the perimeter. He had risked a lot by leaving the veil, but the gnawing in his stomach and knowing his family had not eaten the day before drove him to take that chance. The bull was healthy and fat … and overconfident. Laurn baited the bull and made it chase him into the veil.
Once there, he drove it in circles, deeper and deeper within the forest. The entire time, he called out his location to the other hunters and eventually they arrived and dispatched the beast. Unfortunately, the owner of the bull had come looking for it before they were done moving it and Laurn had an encounter with his dog. He took it upon himself to mislead the dog.
Laurn had achieved his goal when the dog caught him. It had bitten him several times and had to kill the dog to get away. The farmer saw him. Laurn was fortunate to only get away with a few bites and not the bullets that the farmer sprayed after him.