She worked hard to find traces of wild animals, as she had learned.
However, she suddenly got goosebumps as she recalled the bandits that were chasing her following in her footsteps.
For a hunter, checking the movement and traces of animals was the most important thing.
She seemed to understand now why she was always quickly caught whenever she escaped from the Imperial Palace.
She was clumsy at covering her tracks, and the Emperor’s knights could not have missed such a sloppy opponent.
Asha shook her head, trying to erase the thought.
After searching the forest for a long time, she finally found traces of what appeared to be deer tracks.
Judging by the shallowness of the footprints, it looked like a newborn fawn.
The footprints went on and on.
They’re wandering around here, and if those animals are not vigilant, she will be able to catch them easily.
Asha made up her mind, hid behind a tree, and waited patiently and silently.
As soon as she heard the sound of small footsteps nearby, Asha stepped out from behind the tree, aiming her bow sharply.
But immediately her eyes grew bigger.
In front of her was a baby deer, frozen in place, staring at her with bright eyes.
It was a golden opportunity to point the arrowhead exactly at the neck.
However, Asha was unable to release the arrow.
It was because she found herself in the gaze of a baby deer limping on one of its legs.
The fawn was not wary of her.
It approached Asha and made a cute face near the tip of the arrow.
The baby deer didn’t think she was a dangerous person at all.
Stay away from me.”
Asha quickly hid the bow behind her.
The fawn blinked its big black eyes and looked around.
Asha realized something and asked.
“Have you lost your mother?”
Seeing that the baby deer kept wandering around this area, it seemed to have lost its mother here.
But then, the voices of the others were heard from nearby.
Asha whispered urgently.
You can’t come back here again, okay?”
The fawn seemed to understand her, so it quickly began to run.
And as if to say goodbye, the fawn looked at Asha one last time before disappearing behind a snowy-white hill.
Since then, Asha has been distraught and unable to focus on the hunt.
She already noticed that her time was running out, so she hurriedly looked around as Nagy told her, but couldn’t find a rabbit hole.
Eventually, Asha returned empty-handed.
The hunters arrived in advance and proudly released the animals they had hunted in front of her.
Asha glanced sideways to see if there were fawns or mother doe.
Fortunately, no deer were seen among the prey.
Asha sighed in relief.
Jackal walked, checking out the prey one by one, but stopped when he finally reached Asha, who was at the end.
He looked at Asha without saying a word, and Asha looked down silently at the ground.
It was empty.
Gabe commented out loud that he knew it would happen, snorted loudly, and turned his head.
Asha was the only hunter who couldn’t catch any prey in today’s hunt.
Jackal didn’t think she was unlucky enough to find an animal or lose it by mistake.
She could have easily caught a rabbit or a squirrel with her good bow skills.
He could tell without seeing that she had released her prey.
As the two continued to stand silently facing each other, Nagy, who was next to her, looked at her and gently whispered into Asha’s ear.
“Sister, do you want a pheasant I caught?”
Seeing Jackal frown, Nagy quickly shrugged.
Then he spoke seriously
“You failed in the hunt, so you will starve for dinner tonight.”
The cold words frightened the entire group.
Asha lowered her eyes, sadly.
Jackal said firmly.
“If a hunter cannot hunt, he or she should starve.
If you had not joined our organization, it’s a result you should have done and endured on your own without anyone’s help.
Take responsibility for your choices.”
“Then let’s go back.”
Jackal walked past Asha, looking away.
They all began to follow after him without protesting because it was the captain’s decision.
Jackal didn’t say a word on the way back to the village.
The hunters glanced worriedly at Asha, following her helplessly.
They usually throw a party to celebrate when a new hunter has caught prey on their first hunt.
But, if they couldn’t catch even a single prey, they were all treated like Asha without exception.
Those were Lycaon’s rules, and those strict rules kept them safe from danger.
It was evening and while everyone was eating at the fortress, Asha was left alone in her room enduring hunger, only filling her empty stomach with water.
Although Jackal was cold-hearted, he was right.
She showed compassion to the young deer, and she caused trouble for her colleagues as a result.
As Gabe said, Lycaon was not a charity that feeds for free.
They couldn’t keep wasting their precious food while she didn’t do anything.
The door opened cautiously, and someone sneaked in.
It was Nagy.
He said with an awkward smile, holding a bowl of food in his hand.
“Sister, are you hungry? I brought this in secret, eat it quickly.”
In the bowl Nagy had brought, there was porridge and a pheasant’s leg on the side.
Asha was a bit touched.
“Nagy……Thanks, but I’m fine.
What if they scolded you too?”
“It’s okay! I always get in trouble even if it’s not this.”
Nagy replied with an innocent smile.
Still, it’s my responsibility.
Go ahead and eat again.
They’ll get suspicious if they know you disappeared.”
Asha advised him, but Nagy was stubborn and refused to go back.
“I hate hunger! I mean, it’s really hard!”
But it was then.
“……I knew you’d be here, Nagy.”
At the sudden low voice, Nagy got shocked and looked back.
Jackal was standing in the doorway.
“Who told you to disobey my orders?”
“That… Can’t you just let it slide this time, please?”
Nagy looked at him brightly, eager as a cat’s eyes.
Jackal sighed blankly, then pulled something out from behind his back.
Nagy’s eyes widened, and he held back his laughter.
“…… I will keep it a secret, so you keep it a secret too.”
“Yes! Then I’ll be on my way!”
Nagy saluted, then happily left the room.
Jackal also had a bowl of food in his hand.
It had larger pieces of meat than the one Nagy brought.
Jackal was a bit embarrassed, so he coughed loudly with his fist to his mouth.
Then he put the bowl on the table.
“Give me an excuse.
I will listen to you.”
“I have no excuses…… I indeed released my prey…….”
Asha couldn’t look at him at his face.
After a long silence, Jackal spoke calmly again.
“I felt it from the first time I saw you, you don’t fit in as a hunter.”
Hunting was wild work.
Since it was a matter of taking someone’s life, they had to be prepared to see the blood and be able to boldly stab their opponent in the neck.
But no matter how he looked at it, she didn’t seem right for that kind of work.
Asha sat sadly, knowing that he was going to tell her to quit being a hunter immediately.
But it was then.
“……So instead of hunting, you should do what you can.”
Asha looked up in surprise.
“What I can do……?”
You told me you wanted to improve your butterfly’s abilities.
Then do it.
Find something that helps the organization.
A person who was hunted until yesterday cannot suddenly become a hunter overnight.”
Jackal walked over to the bed, sat on the edge, and handed her the bowl.
Asha took the bowl silently and diligently moved the spoon around.
Since she was hungry, she felt the rice as sweet as honey.
Jackal watched Asha diligently devour the food.
“To refresh yourself, go for a walk in the nearby forest tomorrow with my horse.
If you can’t hunt, you must be able to ride a horse perfectly.”
Asha looked up in surprise while eating.
“With Sheppy? Is that okay?”
“Yes, you can.”
Asha managed to contain her excitement.
Jackal said that to make Asha feel better, but somehow he was more excited than she was.
Asha didn’t notice how excited he was.
* * * * *
The next morning, Asha changed into comfortable clothes to go for a ride and took her bow just in case.
But as soon as she opened the door, she saw a blue-gray horse patiently waiting for her right in front of the door.
Asha exclaimed as her eyes grew bigger.
Asha gently caressed Sheppy’s face.
He lowered his head in embarrassment, but his ears fluttered with delight at her touch.
“Your owner permitted me to go for a ride with you today.
But I think I should say goodbye to him before I go, where is he now?”
Asha looked around and tried to go down to the hall, but the horse pulled on the reins.
Asha looked back curiously and saw Sheppy shaking his head.
“I don’t have to go find him?”
It seems that he brought the horse here himself, so there was no need to go looking for him.
Suddenly, Jackal sighs in shame at himself, who approached her with a bridle in his mouth.
If Sosa saw him, he would openly snort and laugh at him.
But the moment Asha gently climbed onto his back and whispered something to him, he didn’t care anymore.
“As expected, I missed this back.”
Jackal stiffened as Asha gently stroked his neck and back.
He thought the words ‘I missed this back’ would haunt him every night……
Asha went out for a ride now that she was quite skilled at horseback riding.
Oddly enough, Sheppy moved as if he already knew where she was going.
Asha asked curiously.
“Sheppy, you were supposed to go out with me last time.
Can we go there today?”
Jackal thought for a moment.
He replied, pondering where to take her.
Jackal immediately changed direction and started running.
Asha was startled and gripped the reins tightly.
He was running at tremendous speed.
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