Very kept her spear at the ready; the bow lay where it had fallen. If the last sound of scuttling through the underbrush had been what she thought, the bow was no more use than a twig on the ground.

She set the spear into the ground, burying the end to absorb the force of the coming charge. It was made of yew, like the bow, flexible yet strong, and the tip was fine steel, unsharpened except at the point. The bow was usually enough to take down all but the strongest prey, and the spear could turn the momentum of any charging thing against itself. But, just in case, Very kept two more weapons hanging on the hide belt Uncle Mostly had made for her ceremony.

A hunting knife, all-sharp and all-steel, and her pistol, with the two bullets she’d been allotted. One for whatever prey might overcome her defenses, and one for Very herself if it ever came to that.

The forest parted, and Very’s spear took the full brunt of the attack. A Forestman, his pale skin caked with grime, writhes out his last few breaths at the end of the spear.

Very clucked her tongue disapprovingly. “Long pork again,” she said. “I’m so sick of that.”

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