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Eyes of the Hunter

If you thought becoming a woman was hard, try doing it when you’re a prince.

Eyes of the Hunter

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To avoid being beheaded after giving birth to a girl child, Queen Marianna names the new born, Erin and, with the help of her trusted friend, Fenral passes her off as a male child. Fenral and Marianna select a young boy named, Caley to train as Erin’s life-long champion and protector. As the children grow, their loyalty to each other deepens into a fierce bond.
When Erin discovers that she is female, Marianna terrifies her into secrecy. Frightened of losing Caley’s friendship and her very life, Erin’s relationship with him becomes strained. Caley believes Erin’s sudden withdrawal is due to his lack of physical prowess and increases his training to become the best of men.
As Erin enters puberty and her body changes, she starts binding her chest and acts more boyish in the effort to hide her secret. Her relationship with Caley becomes more strained when the king sends Erin a barracks wench and she becomes aware of Caley as a man.
Frustrated at being denied her life as a woman, Erin takes matters into her own hands. In the rose bushes that had been a childhood hiding place she once shared with Caley, she teaches herself to sing, sew, and do other lady-like things. She acquires women’s clothing and a wig, planning to at last reveal her secret to Caley and then, with or without him, run away. One day when both Marianna and Caley are away from the palace, Erin’s secret is uncovered. Erin flees the palace in a panic, but sends a warning to her mother before heading toward the northern borders of Simanthea in hopes of escaping her father’s reach before he learns the truth of her life-long deceit. A bounty is placed on Erin; anyone returning her will be rewarded with money and marriage to one of the princesses. The king assumes that Caley knew Erin’s secret so when Caley returns to the palace, he is arrested and charged with treason. Shocked and outraged, Caley convinces the king that he is innocent and volunteers to track Erin down himself. As a storm strikes, Caley investigates the rose bushes and discovers a piece embroidery that Erin had been working on. It is the likeness of his face. Taking the work, Caley explodes from the rose bushes in a fury, oblivious to the thorns tearing at him. Bleeding and roaring in the storm, the Hunter is born. Rumors of the queen’s suicide and outlandish tales of the Hunter keep pace with Erin as she flees from country to country in fear of Caley’s wrath. Winter traps Erin in a foreign city where she is forced to take shelter with Alban Alyosi, a thief and con artist and the five children who live and work under his care. Erin reforms the children from their thieving ways and teaches them how to earn an honest living from their various talents. Horse dead, provisions lost, and snow-blind, Caley travels through the winter storms, clutching the embroidered likeness of himself until his body ceases to obey him and he falls unconscious. Upon waking, Caley discovers that he has been rescued by a witch who nurses him back to health.
When the roads open in the spring, Alban helps Erin get out of the city only a few hours ahead of Caley. The chase takes them to a port town where Erin plans to board a ship for unknown shores, beyond the reaches of both her father and the dreaded Hunter which was once her best friend. Alban cons Caley into going to the docks to look for Erin at dawn where hired thugs are waiting to kidnap and ship him across the sea. Instead of Erin, Caley discovers the queen in disguise, who is also trying to find passage across the sea. Shocked by an assassination attempt on her life and the news of Caley’s kidnapping, Erin loses the will to continue running. With Alban’s help, she comes up with a plan to return to Simanthea and hopefully outmaneuver her father in a chancy bid for her life. Erin discovers that Caley had evaded his captors and has finally caught up with them. She realizes that she is in love with him and meets with him to privately confront the best friend she betrayed. Caley chides her for not trusting him and confesses his love for her. With Alban disguised as a foreign dignitary visiting with Erin’s father, Caley returns to Simanthea with Erin as his captive. Alban, Caley, and Erin trick the king into believing that Caley killed Queen Marianna. The king is delighted to honor his promised reward of a chest of money and the hand of one of the princesses. Caley chooses Erin so that he may punish her for the years of his life she had stolen with her lies. Using the ridiculous stories of the terrible and savage Hunter to their advantage, the trio persuades Erin’s sisters they it would be unsafe for them to spend the rest of their lives with Caley. With the hoodwinked king’s blessing, the trio take their gold and leave the country.
 



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