Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day One-Fifty-Four: What's black and white and dead all over

Well… nobody's DEAD, except a polar bear, so I guess the hunt was kind of a success. Kinda.

The weather was surprisingly clear, for once, so the other members of my little hunting part took that as a good sign that we'd be successful. And that party, to my great surprise, included none other than my daughter, who was waiting with my dad when I came off my shift.

"What the hell?" was my greeting. "Eve? Honey? What are you doing here?"

"I will scrape the skies with my flesh-addled blade." I took that as "Hi, my glorious father, I love you ever so much."

My dad laid a hand on her shoulder. She brushed it off. He laughed. "Found her wanderin' the corridors, and the moment I saw her eyes I knew she was the spawn 'o your Libby. And yours, I guess - got that same bushy hair, useless son 'o mine. Shame, she'd look a lot prettier with some raven locks like 'er mom."

He didn't have to explain why she'd agreed to come hunting. Eve likes killing things. I'm sure she started following him as soon as he mentioned the hunt. He did, however, want an explanation as to why I'd never mentioned that he had a granddaughter.

"Er… well, Eve is… busy, most of the time."

"Busy!" He bellowed a laugh. "I bet so! Lord Knight o' the realm, I hear from Robert? Quite a feat for this kiddo. How old is she? Six? Seven?"

"She's not even one." I still can't believe that.

"Ho ho! Even better! Damn proud of this one, damn proud."

He tried to pat her on the shoulder again. Eve flipped him onto his back with one hand. My dad laughed his ass off. If I'd know I could earn his love by hurting him, I woulda tried it years ago.

Robert showed up with some axes for the lot of us a few minutes later, and off we went. When I asked him why he was crazy enough to think that axes would be good enough against polar bears, especially since I couldn't USE my damn axe, he pointed at Eve and shrugged. Fair enough, that - who needs good weaponry when you have a living weapon for a daughter?

We did, it turned out. We needed much better weapons. 'cause once we were out on the snow fields, dad insisted that he have some quality time with his granddaughter. Away from his sons. "Do us some good to bond, and I don't need you two muckin' things up. Ain't that right, little one?"

"Your soul will coat the blackest pits of Hades."

"That's my girl. Off we go." And away they went, trudging off into the snow, leaving Robert and I alone, in the middle of a snowfield, a ways from the front of the castle, staring at the end of the world in the distance.

"Still want an axe?"

"No, I want my kitchen. This was a bad idea."


Polar bears, like just about every animal, wander around in huge herds. They all tend to migrate together. That said they don't get along too well, so the herds keep their distance from one another - and so, even if you KNOW polar bears are nearby, you can't necessarily see 'em.

Unless they leave tracks in the snow. Like these polar bears. Their tracks were everywhere.

Robert and I put up a brave front, wandering through the wastes, keeping close to the castle walls in the hope that we could run across the still-settling moat and watch a polar bear crash through. (I'm still damn leery of that thing, though, so I'm not running across unless I HAVE to.) After near an hour, though, we hadn't seen any sign of a polar bear beyond paw prints, and we sat down for a rest.

I wasn't talking to Robert. I was still pissed at him for bringing my parents, not to mention deciding on this hunt, and in such a STUPID way. I guess he wasn't too keen on talking, either, 'cause we sat for a good five minutes in silence, watching our breath in the sunlight. My eyes kinda glazed over, in that way eyes glaze when you're tired.

Then he broke my concentration. "Stop blocking the sun, Dragomir. It's cold."

"I'm not blocking the sun. YOU stop blocking the sun."

"You're not blocking the sun?"

"I said I wasn't!"

"Then what is?"

Duh. A polar bear was blocking the sun.

Polar bears are notorious for sneaking under sheets of snow and then rising up to surprise travellers, so it's no biggie that this one - a huuuuuuge male - managed to sneak up on us. Now it was posed for the kill, leering over us, mouth open, paws outstretched, and it was such a terrifying spectre of a creature that I froze in place.

Not Robert. Robert's smart in his own way, I guess. He ran, leaving me to die.

I'd like to say I thought about all the important things in my life at that moment, about Libby, and my daughter Eve, and all my friends in Castle WinterTooLong, and maybe even my mom. (Not my dad.) But, no, as usual I just soiled my breeches, and thought about how embarrassing it would be for people to find me with stained underwear.

And then the polar bear roared. Not in rage, though - in pain. I smelled something cooking, and when that broke the spell of fear I wriggled as far away from it as I could in a sitting position and with filled drawers. A flame was bathing the back of the polar bear, a flame coming from a source that, in the glare of the sun and the heat, I couldn't quite see.

The polar bear fell, leaving a massive indent in the snow. Behind it, floating happily on two spindly wings, was little Barrel. Never have I been happier to see that dragon - and it's nice to know that I have THAT kind of backup in times of need.

The bear quickly turning to a charred mess, Barrel whipped up into the air and out of sight - just in time for my dad and Eve to emerge from behind a patch of trees.

"Goddamn! I thought I smelled a barbeque! Dragomir, how the hell did this happen? The sun set his fur aflame or somethin'? I'm sure as shit you didn't do anything."

I just shrugged. Like he'd believe that a micro dragon swooped down out of the sky and set a polar bear on fire, killing it instantly. Even I think that's crazy, and I watched it happen.

"Well!" said Robert, jogging back with a big smile on his face, as though he hadn't blatantly abandoned me. "That's handy. Dead polar bear, eh? Well done, troops. A little… crispy, but I'll manage. Gonna be-"

That's when Eve jumped into action. She normally likes her meat raw, I know, but today she settled for cooked, grabbing the carcass and slinging it over one shoulder as casually as a grocer with a sack of potatoes. She leaped over the wall of the castle with a single bound, leaving only a flaking leg and half of the bear's head behind.

That was enough to put out even my father. "Quite a daughter there, Dragomir. Quite… a… little… something…?"

Tomorrow we're having a grand meal of one polar bear leg and half a polar bear head, both very well cooked, for my birthday dinner. I'm sure it'll be fantastic.


Dragomir the Son


  1. I don't even know which would scare me more...being killed by a Polar Bear, or by Eve...(I think I'd have a better chance against the huge lumbering creature that CAN'T leap over castle walls...)

  2. With Eve, at least, you'd probably be dead before you knew what had happened. So... some comfort in that...?