Chapter Forty-Nine

By Douglas E. Gogerty

As a child, Prince William was very interested in archery. He could not get enough of it. He wanted to know everything about it. He even fashioned crude bows and arrows from twigs and branches he found around the castle in which he lived. No one ever thought that this interest would ever lead to anything. The Prince was glad that this would prove wrong.

When the Prince was collecting resources to make his raft, he knew he would need a source of food. Thus, he also collected items for forming arrows as well as a bow. He knew that a strong branch and some sort of string were all that were required to make the bow. However, the arrows were a completely different story.

If the arrows were to fly straight, they had to be straight. Without the proper tools, getting perfectly round and straight wood was a daunting task. There was also the issue of fletching. He would need to get some feathers to make the arrows. The easiest part of making arrows was fashioning a point.

Nevertheless, he found some items and fashioned a workable bow with a small quiver of arrows. Thus, he could hunt game. In fact, he was successful in feeding himself during the construction of the raft. However, while on the raft, he had other concerns besides watching for animals.

The river wound it way south. If he did not work the rudder, he could easily wash ashore. While it was not a lot of trouble to free the raft, it would take time and effort. With the gunfire he heard at his launch, he did not wish to waste that time. Thus, he wanted to spend most of the time moving. That even meant forgoing sleep for long stretches.

Despite his reluctance to stop, he occasionally had to go ashore for things. He was not willing to attempt to hit anything with his makeshift arrows while travelling down the river. Therefore, he would go on land to hunt from time to time. He would also take these opportunities to sleep. Also, he could gather more supplies. He would attempt to accomplish as much as he could during his trips ashore.

During his time off the raft, he had the feeling that someone was close upon him. Perhaps Bjorn reconsidered, and sent some of his allies to hunt the Prince down. Perhaps it was another brother. Then again, the Prince could be imagining the entire thing. Nonetheless, he wanted to keep moving.

Thus, he fell into somewhat of a routine. When he hit land he would attempt to rest, but he would not rest long. After a brief sleep, he would prepare a meal of the game he caught during the previous landing. He would cut up the game and prepare it while he was still on the raft. After the meal, he would go out and hunt. A while later he would take another rest in a cave or in a tree. If he did not get anything during his hunt, he would hunt some more or gather nuts and berries.

This was his routine for several days. He knew he had to be in Princess Angelina's realm, but he still felt someone was following him. However, he believed he managed to keep ahead of whoever they were. Therefore, he kept up with his routine.

By preparing his game on the raft, his passenger compartment was getting messy. There was quite a lot of blood on the box, and it had already attracted animals. He would return from a trip ashore, and find rats chewing on the wood. Sometimes, it was ravens pecking at the box on his raft. There were any number of animals attracted to the animal left-overs.

In fact, he found that the pests made several holes in his box. However, he needed to continue moving. Thus, it would not be prudent to change his ways. Thus, he would attempt to contain the viscera better. If he did a better job, perhaps that would not attract the scavengers as much. Nevertheless, there would always be blood.

If the smell ever got too much for him, he would wash off the raft with some water. After all, there was plenty to be had. However, he was getting used to the smell. He found that it did not bother him much. He wondered how that could be.

One trip ashore, he was resting in a tree. The wind was such that he could smell himself. His eyes teared up. He could not stand it. Now he understood why the smell did not bother him as much. He smelled awful. He realized that he had not bathed in weeks. Thus, he decided he was going to jump into the river.

He found a spot to place his hunting gear, and clothes and all, he dove into the river. While in the river, he stripped. He then carried his clothes towards the shore and beat his clothes against a rock. After ringing them a few times, he set them on a rock to dry.

He waded out deeper, and he swam around in the brisk water. He dove under the water again and again. He began to enjoy the swim. After one particularly long dive, he surfaced and saw one of his brother's men. Fortunately, the soldier did not see Prince William swimming in the water. He must have been too far off. However, the Prince was sure he recognized the man. Quickly and quietly, the Prince swam to shore. He did not want to do it, but he dressed into his wet clothes.

He grabbed his hunting gear, and watched his brother's man make his way towards the raft. Prince William had a choice to make. Would he attack his brother's man without a word? He certainly could get away with such an action. There was no one around.

On the other hand, perhaps Bjorn had simply sent the man to keep an eye on him. There was nothing wrong with that. The Prince did not want to kill an innocent man without provocation. He sat and pondered the question. He watched as his brother's soldier made it to the raft. The man looked around, and removed the tools from the raft. He emptied out the box as the Prince sat back and watched.

Before the Prince could make up his mind, his brother's man pushed the raft into the current. At that moment, the Prince made up his mind and put an arrow into the man's chest. He fell over dead. The Prince knew that he would have to walk the rest of the way.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on December 12, 2010 9:05 PM.

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