“I’m leaving. If I don’t get out now, I’ll never get out.” Ziva huffed, tossing a stone into the river.
“And do what? Go where? It won’t be that bad, you know.” Evi replied.
Ziva raised a brow at her friend, prying another rock from the dirt by the edge of the water. Evi had been her best friend since they were little girls, but Evi’s vision for what her life would be as a woman differed greatly from Ziva’s.
“Not that bad? Are you insane? Elder Farn has all but signed a contract to marry me off to that… that old man!”
Evi laughed. “He’s not that old. He has a large farm, cattle. You could do worse.”
“Ugh. I love you, Evi, but you don’t understand. I don’t want to 'do’ at all, worse or not. I don’t want to marry. I want to live my own life.”
“Doing what? We’re nineteen. We're girls. There’s not a lot of things we can do. Besides, look at me and Eryl. We’ve been married for almost a year now, and I’ve grown fond of him.”
Ziva rolled her eyes, chucking the stone into the water. “Listen to yourself… fond of him. Bleh. You didn’t even know him before you wed. No, Evi. I’m leaving, and I know exactly how to do it.”
“What? No, you do not! Tell me,” Evi whispered, scooting closer to her friend.
“You must promise not to speak a word. I’m serious, promise me, Evi.”
“Fine, fine.” She waved her hand impatiently.
“King Sevrin’s Hunter Trials.”
Evi snorted and fell over onto the river bank, laughing. “Oh my gosh, Ziv, you had me going there. I thought you were serious!” She wiped at the tears, still giggling as she sat back up.
“Wait… you’re serious?” Evi’s mouth hung open.
Ziva shrugged. “Why not?”
“Ziv, it’s one thing to hunt in the forest around the village. Sure, you’re pretty good with a bow, but… you’ll get killed in that tournament. And besides, you’re a girl.”
“Woman. And, I won’t get killed. Even if I did, it would be better than a life of servitude to a man twice my age that I don’t even know except for the awful rumors about his first wife.”
“You… you’re serious. I won’t be able to talk you out of this, will I?” Evi reached over and grabbed Ziva’s hand. “Please think about this.”
Ziva turned to look at her friend. “I have thought about it. And thought about it. And then thought some more. Evi, I know you don’t get it, but I… I know that I’m meant for more than being stuck in this little tiny village as the unwilling wife of some farmer. I… I can’t stay here. I won’t.”
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