Once upon a time in faraway Heindenlily, Princess Amera decided that she would go to the Wise One to help her find love.
She pulled the reins so her horse could gallop faster as she left the palace gates behind. Sandwiched between her bodyguards, she felt as if palace life had shielded her. And from what? Foolish princes like Prince Olmeri of Findolgun who’d stuttered when he came for her hand until he all but swallowed his tongue, and the king’s physician had to revive him. Still blue in the face, he’d tried to stutter an apology, but she shushed him by putting her index finger to his lips. What utter nonsense! She would find love on her terms.
When her guards dismounted to cut low-lying branches, paving a way in the forest, she saw how long their shadows were. She had not noticed the sun receding behind the hills of Allaymin. She shivered and drew her cape tighter. In front, the oak trunks leaned in as if to touch them and then, as if to squash them. Meeting her bodyguards’ stares, she masked her fear with her smile. She marvelled that women had lain passive as though waiting for pollen from bumblebees, for years and years. The wind was variable too. Nectar had lost its edge, and the driver’s seat was vacant.
Her bodyguards bumped into one another and struggled to quieten their horses. Princess Amera gasped as the trail widened to reveal a moss-covered hut. The Wise One beckoned to her from the entrance. The rumours were true. His white beard swept the ground like the dust brushes her chamber maidens used to attack cobwebs.
Inside the hut, babies’ skulls lined the walls. He pulled one, dropped something inside it, and offered it to her. Her hands trembled as she collected the skull. The thing inside smelt like cow dung and tasted like honey, so she did not chew.
“So you are tired of waiting for him?”
He did not wait for her answer.
“Choice is a rudder without hindsight. A thing to be desired and yet a thing to be feared,” his voice boomed, and the walls became mirrors.
She smiled when she saw perfection.
“That one,” she pointed.
“The moon will cross Orynimmel Kingdom tonight and tomorrow. You will have one chance.”
He leaned forward, and his beard nicked a bit of the flame from the huge candle on the centre of the table. A quick glow and then fading embers, as the light died in his shaggy bush. He pulled a bow and arrow from under the table and handed it to her.
“Shoot with all your might, and he will be yours.”
“B . . . but . . . what if he doesn’t want me?”
“Isn’t that why you are going after him? To show him what he wants? Sssh, sleep now, in the morning it will all make sense.”
The next morning, she washed her face with the washcloth Wise One gave her. She looked in the stream. He was right. She was even more beautiful. When she turned to hand over the washcloth, the hut had disappeared. Her bodyguards stood at attention as they waited for her.
“Yee haw!” she cried and mounted her horse.
As they journeyed, the oak trunks leaned backwards, making space, so they could ride in an A-formation. Daylight pushed through the mist shrouding the hills of Allaymin. She saw him first as they rounded a bend. The sun’s rays filtering through the long necks of oak trees, circled him like a spotlight. Her horse neighed testing her indecision. Why was he alone?
“Fair princess,” he bowed.
“Prince Zonaltera of Luxamdola.”
She dismounted, clutching her bow and arrow in her right hand.
He smiled at her and then turned to his horses, grooming their manes.
She sat on the grass. Dewy anemones and bluebells teased her ankles. She waited and waited until the sun rose to the middle of the sky.
You will have one chance . . .
“Do you like me?”
“Yes,” turning to face her, he said, “what’s not to like?”
“Then,” she cocked her head, “why have you not asked for my hand?”
“I don’t know. I . . . I have been distracted.”
“I see . . . grooming your horses . . .”
She stood, raised her bow and arrow, and aimed at his heart. He ducked and then ran deeper into the forest. Her hair danced in the wind as she pursued. Darting and ducking, brown trunks and green leaves embraced them in a fuzzy camouflage. The ground sucked their footfalls as squirrels and weasels skipped away.
She spun around and around ears on alert. A creeping vine curled around his left sleeve, pinning him to the spot. He placed his free hand on his knee as he sucked in air, turning red. Overhead, jackdaws abandoned their nest holes and flew away, unamused by the lovers’ game.
“Please,” he said, twisting this way and that, “if you chase me, you will catch me.”
A thrill she had not known before made her skin tingle and her pupils dilate; she tasted power.
“I’m tired of hunting. The prey you want gets away too many times.”
He pulled his hand free, ripping his sleeve and sending tiny leaves in the air.
“Perhaps you lack skill.”
“Sometimes the prey runs too fast and then too slow, confusing your aim. Hunting can be exhausting!”
He sunk to the ground, massaging his arm.
“Wimp!” she scoffed. “I know what I want.”
She raised her bow.
“Wait, wait! How will you know I really want you, if you trap me?”
“Do you want me?”
“Yes . . . but give me a chance to—”
She raised her bow and released the arrow into his heart. Then she left him there for the magic to do its work. One month later, they were married. Her happiness was a rainbow that all came to behold and point at. Ten months after, he began to shrink. Smaller and smaller, smaller than a stump in the ground.
“What is happening?”
Her tears could no longer hide behind her eyes, which were twin mirrors through which he saw not only himself but also how she saw him. He longed to lick her tears, but she no longer ached for him, letting his name escape from her lips, softly, softly, softly. He began to cry too.
“I tried to warn you.”
“If we were born a thousand years from today, it would no longer matter who hunted and who got caught. If we could time travel . . . I mean, what kind of woman loses a slipper at midnight and doesn’t go back to find it before one idiot consigns it to the lost-and-found dump?”
She carried her frog and placed him on the golden pouch on her nightstand. She missed the strength of his arms.
In the distance, the stars twinkled over the hills of Allaymin. The moon would cross Orynimmel Kingdom tomorrow night and next. She still had the bow and arrow.
You will have one chance.
Time had snatched her rainbow, but nirvana was still within reach.
“Good night my love.”
“Croak, croak, croak,” he replied.
©Timi Yeseibo 2014
Image credits: http://www.disney.co.uk/brave/downloads/?d=downloads-merida
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
36 thoughts on “The Hunter Games”
Wonderful story, Timi. My love for fantasy stories knows no bounds. That picture made me laugh and acted as a counterpoint to the mood of the story …you know, humorous picture, somber story.
I think what I take from this–what I am reminded of–is that finding and brewing love has no set formula. These days, I no longer read manuals, tutorials or whatever insights on the subject. I think that’s wrong but I can’t help feeling that only stories (real or fictional) have a right to educate one about love.
I hope our prince becomes a man again. Well done, Timi.
” . . . finding and brewing love has no set formula.” Indeed what worked with Ngozi may fail with Christina 🙂 I am intrigued by the hunter and the hunted and how gender roles have evolved or not over time. I rarely do sequels, but have said that if I did one, this story will have a happy ending.
I’m really glad you enjoyed the story. You and Eno worked hard and the story finally saw the light of day, I appreciate you guys. Thanks for coming over to read the finished product.
@picture, when I saw the picture, I knew a story had to follow 😀
I like your fantasy stories!
Yes, I agree with you – You once more brought with a great combination!
diamond – magical – common sense – brilliant!
Thanks Mihran. I liked the magic too, and the dialogue between princess Amera and prince Zonaltera.
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Wow…, I can’t even say much about this particular story. Who would have known it would end on a sad note. I can feel the lessons embedded but I can’t even begin to describe it so as not to complicate issues. lol
Let me just mind myself and leave it as it is. hehe
And where in the world did you get those ‘tongue-twisting’ names from. lool
I wish you wouldn’t mind yourself and leave it as it is 🙂
If I were to write a sequel, it would end on a happy note. So, just complete the story in your head, any which way you like jare.
I made the names up so I wouldn’t have to do too much research into the forest scenes, for example, would one find a jackdaw in an oak woodland? What other kinds of vegetation exist, etc. Of course because it’s a fairy tale, I could get away with it 😉
loool, abi oo. Anything happens in the fairytale land. Reminds me of the movie Enchanted 🙂
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How nice, a love tale. I really enjoyed this. And wasn’t expecting this.
Such a vivid description. I was watching a movie in my head. Not what I expected it to end with. i was thinking, princess, finds prince, they live happy ever after, tada the end. But then, we’re reminded that Nothing really lasts forever.
If I could write a sequel, I would be partial to a happily-ever-after ending. I don’t like to ‘think’ that nothing lasts forever; it would be difficult to truly commit. When I wrote the story, what caught my fancy was the dance about who was doing the chasing. I enjoy reading your comment as well as those of others, because I see the story through your eyes. Everyone seems to take different things from the story, or rather comments on different aspects 🙂
@vivid description, thanks! It made the story longer, but we both agree it’s better this way.
I really enjoyed the details in your story, Timi! I was intrigued by the Wise One’s hut and his beard that almost caught on fire! I was dismayed that she chose to aim the arrow, even after he espoused his love for her. She made a ‘fatal’ mistake, not trusting him to come to her, after they professed their interest in each other. I think we all learn from our mistakes, but I feel bad that hers was rather devastating!
You are a wonderful story-teller, Timi! Hugs, Robin
@”I was dismayed that she chose to aim the arrow, even after he espoused his love for her. She made a ‘fatal’ mistake, not trusting him to come to her, after they professed their interest in each other.” That’s one way of looking at it, Robin. I guess some people do not believe that the patient dog eats the fattest bone 🙂
Something in the story catches my attention because of your comment. She doesn’t shoot as soon as she sees him. “She sat on the grass. . . . She waited and waited until the sun rose to the middle of the sky.” All the while, he is ‘distracted,’ grooming his horses 🙂
Curt (below), says she can throw the frog in the pond and kiss him in a week’s time 😀
Cinderella caught her prince’s attention with her beauty, which was enhanced by fairy godmother. And ‘allowing’ the slipper fall from her feet? Stroke of genius 😉
I’m glad you enjoyed the story Robin. I tend to be traditional myself.
I like that you reminded me that she is waiting to shoot her arrow, but still she knows he likes her… I guess we aren’t always patient while young, Timi! I like your expression, “The patient dog eats the fattest bone.”
I like the idea of throwing the frog back in the pond, but what if he is not meant to be gone from her sight? What if he were accidentally eaten! Horrors!
Also, like what you mentioned about Cinderella…
I actually did love “Brave” movie. Not sure if anyone knows that Marlo Thomas, in the tape and book, “Free to Be You and Me,” came up with the idea of races and the one who would win the race would choose to be her match, but when the girl wins, she chooses to be just friends with the second place winner. It is an older version of “Brave!”
This was a fun post and you had a lot of different reactions! Smiles, Robin
And the plot thickens . . . Princess Amera throws fer frog in the pond in an attempt to reverse fortune. When she arrives one week later to kiss him, her mournful cry is heard all over the palace. Her heart sinks as a bird swallows the last bits of its breakfast. 😦
You’ve made the post fun for me Robin 🙂
Throw the frog in the pond. Come back in a week and kiss him. See what happens. Nothing ventured nothing gained, eh. LOL Great tale as always, Timi. I’m a love at first sight kind of guy, assuming the chemistry and circumstances are right. The right circumstances being I am not in a commited relationship. The right chemistry being the feeling is mutual and that we have enough in common to make it work. Last time I tried it was 24 years ago and things are stilling going strong. And yes, I am a romantic. So’s Peggy. –Curt
Aw, the right circumstances, how sweet. Many more happy years to you and Peggy!
As for Princess Amera, yes, she should drop the bow and arrow, and try your suggestion 😉 She went to great lengths to ‘acquire’ him after all!
Gripping tale of love, Timi. Ha! Once I sensed it had that element of romance, my pulse increased. Interesting to see that our princess got what she wanted. But in life nothing lasts forever. Her choice was fleeting – a lesson for every person.
Enjoyed the dialogue 🙂
Ps Sorry for the mix up in my former comment.
Love makes the world go round 🙂
Choice is a rudder without hindsight. If she had waited for him to come to her, and assuming he came, would it have made a difference to the outcome?
@dialogue, I’m happy you did. It was difficult to write as I didn’t want to sound too contemporary. I also wanted to write words that were pregnant with meaning, to convey gender issues with only a hint.
I like how this references different cultures and fairy tales. Women going after men they love will remain an interesting topic for a long time, not just because of our culture but also because of our religions in Africa. I don’t even want to have an opinion about it, biko let the women do what they want jare.
Great story as always. I like how this made me read it twice.
Lol@”I don’t even want to have an opinion about it, biko let the women do what they want jare.”
To chase a guy or not to? I had interesting opinions and answers to my informal survey as I crafted this piece. This is the one that cracked me up the most: chase, but with style 🙂 Because we’re not islands, these are conversations that we’re going to have, and situations we’ll likely face . . .
I like how your comment made me read the post again. Thanks Ife.
Lovely story, Timi. I am a romantic at heart even though I have lived long enough to know better. Here is a favorite quote by Khalil Gibran:
“It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations.”
― Khalil Gibran
“I am a romantic at heart even though I have lived long enough to know better.” Aw 🙂
I like Khalil Gibran’s quote because it appeals to something in me, but I am old enough to know better, at least in my experience. I like to think that there are different kinds of love, but for any to be enduring, it takes a decision to love and a commitment to follow through. His quote seems to find place in this story though . . .
Thanks Benn, and thanks for sharing your perspective. You and Khalil Gibrain have given me thought for my tea. 🙂
You are welcome, Timi. Always a pleasure.
Hahahaha. Very intelligent piece Timi. It’s funny because we women like to dream of the perfect man. And then ‘perfection’ comes. When I met my hubby, I made my decision for him purely on logic. We both had a calling for missions, we both were involved in the performing arts, he’s a strong teacher and leader. His temperament is stronger than mine (I have a strong temperament). Anyhow, I didn’t make any decision based on feelings. Because feelings come and go. Being in love is not love. Maybe that’s why see so much divorce now-a-day. People think that ‘being in love’ is love. Marriage to me means commitment. Sticking it through and working hard at it, every day. Two fallen people living together for the rest of their earthly lives is very challenging.
I choose to love.
It takes discipline to not make decisions based on feelings. It would seem that Princess Amera made logical decisions with regards finding love, choosing not to wait, but to instead go after what she wanted.
Yes, commitment is the glue that keeps people together long after feelings have settled. May you find a pot of gold at the end of your choice 🙂
I just liked some of your story lines: “If we were born a thousand years from today, it would no longer matter who hunted and who got caught. If we could time travel . . . I mean, what kind of woman loses a slipper at midnight and doesn’t go back to find it before one idiot consigns it to the lost-and-found dump?”
Happiness is not forever. It isn’t even if joined with a loved one. One of you will die first…
So enjoy everyday together in fidelity and respect.
Hi Jean, I’m glad you did. I struggled with the characters thoughts and dialogue, to say so much, with very little, to write words that hold a depth of meaning.
“So enjoy everyday together in fidelity and respect.” Good advice in a world that moves way too fast.
“Choice is a rudder without hindsight. A thing to be desired and yet a thing to be feared.” Yet life is all about choice! I love this It is just the truth. May God bless you dear.
Thanks George. Indeed our lives consist of the choices we make, the consequences or rather the unfolding of which, we cannot fully see. Even when we make good choices, sometimes the path from the seed of the good choice to the fruit of good choice, takes us by surprise because of bumps along the way.
So our Princess got what she wanted, but her happiness was short lived.
Perhaps in our fight for gender equality and empowerment, we need to remember that both genders are different–not any less important– and play varying cultural roles.
When we spend all our energy stuck on the goal, we sometimes forget that the journey is just as important and the possible repercussions of our actions are somewhat dimmed.
I like this fight for owning ourselves as women, but I also like the roles men play and wouldn’t want to usurp a couple of things. We don’t want to take the real magic away, do we?
Nice story with lots of depth Timi.
P.S How did you coin all those awesome names?
“I like this fight for owning ourselves as women, but I also like the roles men play and wouldn’t want to usurp a couple of things.” Good point Uju, although some may argue that societal conditioning not biology is responsible for the role play. Ah, the magic, I love “magic” 😉
My over-active imagination coined those names. Besides, writing a fairy tale gave me creative license 🙂
And thus began the preference some people have for collecting frog-related knick knacks.
Ha ha ha 😀
Be careful what you pursue . . .
We can only live “happily ever after” on a moment by moment basis. Good write.
Ah, to have a “crystal ball” to gaze into the future and predict outcomes 🙂
Thanks Nancy. I usually say happiness is a moving target, so moment by moment seems fitting.