Second Chances are Hard to Come By

Character Information:

(Summary of the story is in chapter 1)

Credits to larastraw for the title

Chapter 2

How I Died ~ Annis Ballard of House Saxton

I counted the quivers in my bag: seven. That was all I needed on this hunt. I was known as the best archer within my father's lands. It was an obvious fact and I wasn't going to be humble about it. I pulled my bag over my head and shoulder to secure it onto my back. I went over to my wardrobe and pulled my sword out of its compartment.

It really was a beauty. It was crafted from a very rare steal that my father had insisted I have. The hilt was a golden colour studded with green gems of various sizes. I remembered when my father first gave it to me. I had vowed to polish it night and day and learn the art of swordsmanship. And since then, at the young age of nine, I had been training with an acquaintance of my father. So, for the past nine years I had been excelling at various types of weapons training. It had seemed that I was meant for this life.

I sheathed my sword and wrapped the belt around my middle. My father would be waiting to get the hunt started and would hate to be forced to wait much longer.

I snatched up my cloak and quickly placed it around my back and neck, ready to meet up with the hunting party just outside of the castle. I walked quickly along the castle corridors and finally came upon the kitchen, which led to the nearest door where I would find my father.

"You better be smart out there, child," spoke an old gravelly voice.

I glanced over my shoulder, my brown braid wiping the side of my face. I spotted an elderly man who was currently hauling a large sack of potatoes towards the storage cellar. His face was littered with wrinkles and laugh lines. His eyes were grey and old, but still full of spirit.

I bowed my head, "Of course, Mr. Warwick. I'll be sure to bring back a big stag for all of us to dine on."

I spun on the heel of my black boot and set off out the side door and came upon the group of men. One man was busy picking his teeth with a pinky finger, while another was using an arrow to scratch at his back. My father stood by another man, pacing back and forth, no doubt impatient from my tardiness.

My father's dark eyes met me and he smiled. "Now we can get on with it!"

I cast him an apologetic smile and we were on our way.

The forest was vast and expanded across the majority of my father's lands. It held various types of game, such as deer, bison, and bears, among others. I had been able to strike down bears and bison, due to their sluggish getaways, but with deer, I found them more of a welcoming challenge. However, I wouldn't think they would be around at all due to all the chuckling coming from the men around me.

I glanced back at them, my violet eyes no doubt narrowing his distaste. We were on a hunting trip, causing too much noise would only scare away any potential game. I couldn't work with this.

I caught up to my father who was currently leading the hunting party. His broad and tall frame would have been intimidating to others, but for myself, I considered him a loving and kind man that would never do me any wrong.

"Father!" I called to him.

He glanced over his shoulder and nodded me to his side. "What is it, Annis?"

"I ask for your permission to venture up ahead a bit. The noise of your men has decreased our chance of good game."

My father bit his lip. I already knew what he was thinking. Even though I may act like man, even dress like one, I was still a woman who he saw as his baby girl. I was the only family he had left and if anything were to happen to me, he'd be devastated.

Just as I was about to protest his negative answer, he surprised me with the opposite.

"Of course, my dear." He placed a hand on my shoulder. "But do be careful."

I beamed at him, glad that he had chosen to trust me with this hunt. "I will hunt down the best stag you have ever seen," I promised.


The forest was quiet around me. The odd chirp of a bird would grab my attention, but only for a moment before I refocused on my current task. I had found one of the biggest stags I had ever seen - just as promised - grazing within the tall yellowing grass. His ears flicked about, searching for any impending danger. However, he hadn't sensed me yet.

I silently pulled a quiver from my bag and notched it within my bow. I pulled back on the string, its groans protesting against my force. I aimed the arrow right at the stag's eye, knowing that a shot there would be an instant kill. I didn't like to see animals in pain.

The stag's ear twitched, and I released the arrow. He had heard me so, his head snapped up and the arrow missed entirely. He cast a glance in my direction and I suspected that he would run off now, leaving me to go find another grassy pasture and seek refuge. What really surprised me was that he turned to face me and charge.

My eyes went wide and instantly I stood to run. However, I turned rather too quickly and stumbled over the fallen log that had been behind me. I landed flat on my back and say the stag position himself above me. He stood on his hind legs, front hooves kicking about in the air. He aimed his head down and plunged his antlers into my abdomen with all the force the animal had.

I screamed out from the intense pain. The antlers were a bit jagged from him scraping them along tree trunks, so it felt as though a saw was tearing me apart. The warmth of my blood trickled out and pooled onto the forest floor just below me. The stag pulled his antlers from my gut and ran off without even so much as another twitch of his ears.

I lied there, staring up at the falling autumn leaves on the trees. The oranges and yellows matched well with the blood gushing out of my abdomen. I thought the wounds would have continued to throb as they previously were, but it dulled into a faint type of pain as the shock took over my emotions.

I felt nothing. I thought nothing. I could do nothing as I bled out along the forest floor.

As my vision began to blur, I heard my father's distinct voice calling out to me. His blurry figure gripped onto my body as he cradled me in his lap. I never thought I would ever die like this. I was so sure I would have perished in battle. I supposed life was a terrible, but wonderful thing after all.

"We'll get you help," my father's sobs reached my slowly deafening ears. "You'll be okay."

I nodded, and with my last breath, I said, "You should have seen the stag. He was magnificent, Father."

He nodded and soon vanished from my vision altogether.


There was darkness, but I could still see the pallor of my skin. I stepped forward and felt as though I was walking on something soft, but hard at the same time. I didn't know how large the room was, nor did I know how long I would have to walk for until I found something other than the blackness before my eyes.

"Hello!" I shouted out. "I demand an answer!"

I had heard stories of heaven and hell from my wet nurse growing up. Heaven was supposed to be the utmost beauty of all creation, a place I would always be at peace and surrounded by those I love. She had said my mother was there. But I didn't see her anywhere now. Hell was a place of torment and despair. And, besides my obvious isolation, I wasn't yet tormented.

Then I thought about that third afterlife option I had been told about: purgatory. This had to be it. I would aimlessly roam for the rest of eternity. I would no doubt be driven mad by lack of people.

I continued to roam, seeing as there was not much else for me to do.


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