Kirill inspected his fingers, which had turned bright red. Gently blowing warm air, he slowly rubbed his hands together. When he could freely move each of his fingers, he cracked his knuckles and quietly chuckled to himself.
After he had turned back around to face Fedir, Kirill squinted and momentarily covered his eyes. The sun was out, and its harsh glare glistened in the endless sea of white. Kirill patiently massaged his eyes with his palms before recommencing the deliberate march towards the forest.
Confused, Alena chased after them and shouted:
- I’m serious. I’m going with you.
Fedir shook his head and replied without a backward glance:
- Are you kidding? Why would we let you come along? You’re a girl.
Alena paused as she quickly shifted her eyes from Kirill to Fedir to the ground and then back again.
- What’s wrong with being a girl?
-Where do I start? Girls are weak, stupid, ugly, annoying, dumb… and they smell bad! We couldn’t even use you as bait for the tig–
Alena stopped Fedir before he could finish, clocking him square in the jaw with a clenched fist. Fedir toppled over onto his back. Startled, Alena stammered a muffled apology and hastily bowed to both boys in turn.
Kirill, meanwhile, had collapsed in the snow he was laughing so hard. Finally, he ambled back to Fedir, who was violently scraping at the frozen earth with his sword, and helped him up. Then Kirill calmly turned to Alena and taking her aside, quietly told her:
- Don’t worry about it. In spite of his golden locks and his delicate frame, he is a lot tougher than he appears. All the whining and moaning is just his way of showing his respect for you.
Nodding, Alena bowed to Kirill again and softly replied:
- Thank you!
- As for our little hunt, you are welcome to come along if you want. Just don’t expect a fun carefree adventure. My father, after all, was considered the fiercest and bravest of all the hunters in our village before the tiger killed him. It’s possible that we might not make it back home again.
To be continued…
- Carlos de la Gringa