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Liliana Et Victor
Victor had been crouched down behind a bush since before sunrise. He held his handcrafted crossbow in his hand, awaiting any signs of movement. Suddenly, a stag came into view, gracefully stepping through the trees. Slowly and quietly, Victor slid an arrow into place and raised it, pulling back before letting it fly. The stag collapsed on the ground.
He headed home as the sun began to dip into the sky, carrying his catches for the day, including a squirrel, a rabbit, and the stag. His father would be most pleased.
“Thank you, Diana,” he whispered, glancing up.
Once he had returned home, his father helped him skin and cut the animal meat. Then, they went through the enervating procedure of pickling, dying, smoking, and salting the meat so that it would be preserved.
After Victor and his father finished the meat, they went inside to eat their evening meal.
“When you close up tomorrow, be sure to lock up tight. I don’t want that blasted lion getting into our shop. That beast is causing too many problems for this town. Livestock is being eaten, people are terrified, and I still think that Quintus’ son is still missing.”
“The baker’s son?” Victor asked, receiving a slow nod from his father.
“He was out playing in the woods one day and never returned. May the gods save his soul,” he continued after a small sip of his wine. “That’s why I want you to be especially careful until it is slain.”
The next morning, the sun was just beginning to peek over the trees when Victor arose. After putting on a semi-clean tunic and his sandals, he quietly walked outside into the morning air and set up his small cart. Attaching an ox to it, he began carrying out the meat that he had hunted in the previous days. After he had finished, he cautiously looked around. The raw meat was practically screaming for the lion to come and feast. Victor would have to be careful traveling to his butcher shop.
He went back inside, grabbed his bow and arrows, and placed them in the cart. If the lion attack, he would be ready.
The cart pulled down the dirt path as he headed towards town. The entire ride, Victor scanned the trees, looking for signs of the lion.
As he arrived in the small town, a number of people were already walking in the streets, signaling the start to another day.
Pulling up in front of his shop, he stepped off the cart and began unloading the meat.
Victor loved his shop. Meat hung from large hooks along the stone wall. A large block, raised by three legs, sat in the middle of the room. Walking behind it, he pulled out his trusty cleaver and laid it on the table.
He was almost finished hanging the meat when a young woman stepped in. Her dark brown hair was flawlessly fashioned, jeweled hairpins keeping each strand of hair up in place. Her eyes sparkled with joy. She was absolutely breathtaking in her clean, white stola.
“Salve, Victor,” she greeted, sweetly.
“Salve, Liliana. How are you?”
“Well, thank you.”
“I see your hunt was impressive.” She gestured to the hanging meat.
“Yes, it was.” He paused before asking, “Liliana, may I ask why you are here? Didn’t your father..?”
“I don’t care what my father thinks about you,” she interrupted sternly. “He just doesn’t understand.”
A week ago, Victor had gone to see Liliana’s father in hopes of getting his blessing to ask for Liliana’s hand in marriage. They were deeply in love, but her father didn’t agree.
“My daughter? You want my daughter to marry you? A butcher?” Her father had laughed. “My daughter deserves to be showered upon by jewels and riches, not animal flesh. She is worthy of a hero, not a hunter such as yourself.”
He had leaned in close so that he was inches away from Victor’s face.
“You are not to see my daughter again, you hear me?”
Liliana didn’t seem to have a care for her father’s demands, for she had secretly visited his shop twice since that dispute.
“Your father was serious,” Victor said. “I don’t want you to get in trouble because of me.”
“Victor, I love you. My father’s opinion will never change that.”
Suddenly there was a loud scream from outside. Liliana and Victor hurried towards it and gasped at what they saw. The lion was ambling down the road, a few shops away from Victor’s. It was huge, with a vibrant mane and large paws that were each the size of a dinner plate. At the sight of the fleeing townsfolk, the lion licked its lips and let out a roar. Its golden eyes fell on Liliana and Victor.
“Liliana, get inside!” Victor ordered.
She began slowly walking into the shop, her eyes on the lion’s. Victor slowly stepped towards his cart to retrieve his bow and arrows.
The lion began walking towards the shop, drawn by the smell of the meat. Victor cursed himself for sending Liliana inside.
Reaching his cart, he snatched up his bow. When he turned back towards the lion, he saw its tail flick in the doorway of his shop.
“Di immortales,” Victor cursed, fumbling with his bow and arrow as he hurried towards his shop.
He heard Liliana scream from inside and the lion’s second roar. Victor stood a few yards away from the doorway. The bow loaded, he pulled it back before letting the arrow fly. It hit the lion in the back. Letting out another roar, the lion turned to face Victor, pausing before bounding towards him. Victor quickly readied another arrow. As the lion lunged at him, the arrow pierced the beast in the heart as it dropped to the ground at Victor’s feet.
Victor was breathing heavily as he nudged the enormous creature with his foot to make sure that it was finally dead. Sighing in relief, he looked up to see Liliana running at him. She flung herself into his arms. She was still trembling with fear as he embraced her. She looked at the lion.
“Is it dead?” she asked, her voice shaking.
They turned around to see Liliana’s father hurrying towards them, his face bright red.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” He demanded, his eyes of fury fixed upon Victor.
Liliana stepped forward, shielding Victor.
“Father, don’t you see?” She gestured to the lion. “The lion attacked me. If Victor hadn’t been there, I’d be dead.”
Her father looked at Victor with shock. The color slowly disappeared from his face.
“Well,” he began. “You’ve proven that you are worthy of my daughter. For your bravery, you have my blessing to marry her.”
Liliana and Victor exchanged looks of shock and joy before embracing again.
In the days that followed, Victor skinned and processed the lion while Liliana sat and watched him, a smile permanently etched on her face. Victor found that his smile wouldn’t leave either. He was marrying the woman he loved and working in the occupation that he enjoyed. He had never been happier.