My father had always wanted a son. Instead, he got me.

My mother died giving birth to me. My father, well, he must have loved her very much. He never remarried, nor had any other children. To this day, I think he must have been conflicted. On the one hand, I was the only reminder, the last remnant of his wife. On the other, I was the one who killed her.

I never comprehended how much it must have torn him apart until after he died.

As I said, I always felt he would have preferred a son. Still, I did my best to fulfill his expectations. At the age of six, I learned to draw a bow. At ten, I could put an arrow through the heart of a hare at ten paces. By twelve, I had graduated to a full-size recurve bow. My aim surpassed that of most of the men in our village.

My father had always included me on his hunting trips. From them, I learned to travel quietly at all times, and silently when it was required. I learned all I needed to set up ambushes for unwary deer. My tracking skill was unmatched.

Still, I disappointed him.

But if I was a perpetual failure to my father, at least my uncle had nothing but praise for my abilities. His name was Kollen, and he was a constant companion on our hunting trips. His kind words, along with the harsh criticism of my father, were what drove me to excel. Sometimes, the man seemed more of a father to me than anyone else.

For a time, I was very nearly happy with my life. There was never a shortage of food, even in the winters. The excess meat from our hunting trips we sold to the butcher, and the profits were more than enough to keep us clothed and sheltered. My father, while distant, was never cruel. Looking back on them now, those were quite possibly the best days of my life.

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