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Easy Pickings


Andustar
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Easy Pickings


 

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Credit: Bogdan Sovea


 

The sun sat high above the grain fields of the Commonwealth of Petra, the annual crop swaying briskly with the afternoon breeze.  It was a fortunate day for the local farmers, going about their business and inspecting for blight.  This year’s farmers market would be profitable for certain - at least, that may have been the general attitude were their eyes not trained upon the armed convoy that rotated through the acres.  

 

Swiftly, Arthur de Lyons directed his party to set up a perimeter, the Sons of Petra spreading out along the boundary where the woodland reached Valfleur.  The Common citizenry dared not tread so close to the treeline; too many had been lost to the maw of those foul forests.  “Refrain from lone ventures in the darkness else that beast will claim you,” or so folk had been saying for some months.  Indeed, many of the supposed disappearances were not cold cases, for it was not long until an unlucky caravaner stumbled upon a set of mangled remains.  Something savage lurked beneath the foliage, delighting in the death it brought upon the valley.  And so Her Grace’s court made clear the appropriate course of action - they would have the head of the assailant!

 

Bait was set and hours went by, the patience of the hunters wearing thin as they engaged in a long game of cat and mouse.  The afternoon fell to sunset, and so they withdrew to re-evaluate their strategy.  “Borok,” Arthur spied their orc companion, “it was not my intention to split us up, but it seems we have little choice in the matter.”  Attracting their adversary in such a manner was crude, but if any could fair so well against such animalistic fury, surely it was the most imposing among their company.  The rest of the patrol - Lev, Juliana and Adrian - took up their positions in the thicket once again, aurum-tipped spears at the ready for even the slightest disturbance. 

 

Dusk set in and the region was shrouded in a mix of gloom and silence.  Save for the faint rustling of the occasional tree branch, life had all but fled the scene and the sense someone was watching fell upon the Sons.  Borok, however, was not intimidated, the orc taking up a position deeper within the thicket, gambling that his feigned vulnerability would intrigue even the most sceptical opportunist.  Sure enough, it worked!  The outline of a creature draped in fur made itself apparent, creeping towards its perceived target.  “There you are!”  A gleaming point was flung through the undergrowth, pinning itself to the tree bark, leaving the now-prey little choice but to flee.

 

The hunt was on! The first strike came from Adrian’s spear, followed closely by Borok on the right, who utilised his sheer mass to clear a path through the brambles.  Next to engage from the centre were Arthur and Lev, the former letting loose an arrow which struck the beast square in the back, while the latter barrelled ahead in a rage.  Finally, flanking to the left was the torchlit Juliana, her nimble frame just about keeping pace with the target, shedding light upon its trembling outline.  The beast was wounded and worse still caught in a deadly pincer.  The tables had turned; it was smart enough to realise this.

 

“Gotcha *****!”  Adrian swapped his spear for an agile sabre, cutting through the undergrowth with its eager edge.  Lev too had struck ahead, breaking through the branches with his longsword in tow.  Both thought they had cornered their prize, but it was not to be for this time it was they who had fallen victim to deception.  The prey doubled back and pounced the pair in a gambit to shake off the pursuit.  Both men were sent tumbling into the brambles, though at the price of a sabre grazing flesh.  Still, the beast tore an opening in the formation, taking its opportunity to dart clear of the woodland and across the twilight-draped fields.  


The hunters looked on in frustration, peering after what seemed to be a wolf-like figure, shedding not even a limp from the injuries it had sustained.  Yet they had left their mark and the beast would not soon forget such an insult, nor would it accept a challenge upon its territory.  This would not be the final encounter between the two parties…

 

 


 

Special thanks to @Sander for helping organise this event, and to all those who attended!
@CanadaMatt
@MapleSunflower

@DrunkPapaBear

@Gridlock

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Archduke Constanz reads over the report of the hunt, nodding in satisfaction. “I have full confidence that the hunters will take down this beast soon and keep Petrans safe.”

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