Isaac leaned against the fence post that marked both the edge of the neighbors farm and informally the edge of town. He flipped the dagger in his hand, letting it rest on the back of his palm, before throwing it into the air. It spun a full rotation before landing blade first into the soft dirt. He bent down to pick up the dagger and do the same with his other hand.
His father was more of a show off. When he taught Isaac how to play with blades, he would always do two, or even three rotations in the air before the dagger would bury itself into the ground. Isaac was much more utilitarian with his knife games.
His father taught him several summers ago, back when Isaac was only maybe six or seven. Isaac wiped the summer sweat from his brow back then just as much as he did now. He hated the drills his father had him do; alternating stance and form at a moment’s notice. Forward grip extended his reach, his father would say, and back handed grip made boxing more lethal. A downward thrust had more force, good for armor or a thick shell, but it made him vulnerable to someone with longer reach.
Isaac grabbed the dagger, flipped it underhanded, and stabbed it more than inch into the post behind him.
Across the dirt road was Ty’s family’s pig farm. In the pen was a pig covered in mud and muck, just panting and staring at Isaac. Its tongue lolled out of its mouth as it panted short, shallow, disgusting breaths. The heat clearly bothered it as much as Isaac.
At this angle, with its mouth opened, it looked to Isaac like it was smiling. Isaac stood up from the post and looked the pig in the eyes. “What’s got you so happy?” He stood taller, puffing up his shoulders. “You’re gonna be bacon tomorrow anyway, dumbass piece of pork.” Isaac spit on the ground.
Isaac continued to stare at the pig, matching its panting gaze.
Two weeks ago, no three, Ty had the same stupid fucking grin on his face, panting as he ran up to Isaac. Isaac tackled the boy, a whole year younger, and started slamming his fists into the kid’s face. “Keep my dad’s name out of your mouth!” Isaac yelled.
Ty was crying, trying to cover his face as best he could, but Isaac grabbed his arms with one hand and kept punching with the other. The farm boy was strong but had nothing on the son of a Royal Hunter.
Isaac stood up, panting, and spat on the boy. Only when he was walking away from the fight did he really give a thought to what Ty said.
“Why’d your dad leave?”
He could have just told the truth. He could have just said he was hunting. It’s not like there’s anything to be ashamed of, the kid of a hero. Could have said he was questing, sent by the King and everything.
He just didn’t have an answer to why it had to be his dad to go after the Yelping Beast.
Isaac fell back to leaning against the post, knocking it a little askew as he did. He pulled the dagger back out from the post and looked at its polished blade. Spitting image of his dad at his age, he was told.
It’s not like Isaac wanted the next town over to be hurt, or their cattle ate, but he thought about the way the damned thing could hurt him, the way its snake like fangs could dig in his flesh, be kicked by its hart like legs, or burned by the venom it spewed. No, the next town didn’t deserve that, without any doubt in his mind.
But why his dad?
Isaac plunged the dagger back into the post, an inch and half deep. “You’re not going to go on any more hunts.” He looked down the road out of town. “Not after you get back from this one.”
He looked down, and then back up to the pig, still smiling and panting at him like the summer heat fried its brain a little too crispy.
“Go away you dumb beast!”
The pig continued to pant and stare, seemingly unaware of what his words meant.
“I swear to god above if you don’t.”
He marched towards the pin’s fence and started to climb. As soon as one foot was on the fence, the other slipped in the pin’s mud, slamming Isaac’s head into the post. Isaac fell down onto his ass and sat there and just started to cry.
And that godforsaken pig just kept staring at him, smiling, until it turned its head down towards the road out of town.
Isaac wiped the blood from his brow and turned to see what the pig was looking at. He squinted, with the sun in his eyes, raised his hand to block the light, and saw.
Limping down the road was an injured warrior in fractured and burned armor. Plates with deep gashes, at least the plates that remained. And on the chest, emblazoned in royal purple was the heraldry of the Hunters, a lion bearing down on a serpent.
Isaac stood up and yelled, “Dad!”
The warrior stopped and looked up. He went to open his visor, but it had been dented shut.
“Dad!” Isaac wiped the tears from his face, turned toward the dagger stuck in the post, and then ran to the hunter. Isaac swooped under the arm of his dad, wrapped it around his shoulder and started to carry him home. “Let me patch you up.”
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If you like this and want it to be expanded, please let me know in a comment. If I did expand it, it would be very domestic and about Isaac trying to disentangle his emotions.