Spoils of the Hunt



The sound of running water met the scrape of steel against bone as Tancamir crouched by a small streamlet. He held an enormous curved horn in one hand, scraping flesh and fat from it with the blade of his dagger. It was easily the length of his forearm, cruelly ridged and with a pointed curl at one end. But it was surprisingly light and hollow, weighing only a fraction of what it seemed. He grinned to himself as bits of flesh fell off the end of the horn, until it was polished and clean. Swiftly he plunged the horn into the ice-cold water, then drew it out and laid it on the snow.

A worthy trophy for the Arrow, he reflected. While out scouting early in the morning, he had been returning to camp after a fruitless search to the east of the frozen pool. Deciding to double back to camp from the south, he had discovered large prints in the snow leading south, down the pass. Finally. He had endured days of keeping watch over the main encampment,  while Lord Dolthafaer led others on scouting expeditions or small forays into the fields around, hunting warg and goblin. It had been nettling, to be passed over for such tasks, but he decided with a sigh that there were others among the Arrow more qualified to hunt with the Arrow Lord, and he would not say anything against it.

But now, his patience had been rewarded. The very hour he had found the tracks, Tancamir had returned to camp, and quietly given his report to Dolthafaer. It was decided that the entire camp march on whatever beast or foe was to be found - the Arrows, the Hammers, and the select warriors of the Warband who had joined them. He ran ahead, eyes fixed on the trail of prints before him, until they crested the top of a snow-dusted ridge, and saw it - an enormous beast with shaggy grey fur and two curved horns atop its head, like those of a ram or a mountain-goat. The thrill of the hunt was upon him as he nocked an arrow to his bow, aiming for the beast's throat. It was over quickly - between the blades of the warriors and the swift arrows of the archers, the beast stood no chance. 

Tancamir saw Lord Veryacáno  bend over and cut a horn from the corpse, muttering something about a fine trophy for the Hammer. It amused him - the Hammers, always the first to charge and the first to take credit for felling a fow. The Arrows had found the beast (one Arrow in particular, but it would be unfitting to dwell on the fact), and deserved a trophy from it just as much, if not more. And so he had crept toward the fallen corpse, unobtrusively severing the other horn from its head with his dagger, while the lords and other warriors were busy elsewhere.

Lord Dolthafaer had been inordinately pleased with the trophy, when Tancamir had shown it to him back at camp. So pleased, in fact, that he had insisted Tancamir keep it for now  - for luck, he had said. And he had given Tancamir an assignment, to scout the eastern approach to the Northern High Pass. Ordinarily, Tancamir would have said that the day could not go any better. A promising lead, a good hunt, a fine trophy, and now a new mission which his lord had entrusted to him. But now he sat by the streamlet and glowered at the horn sitting on the snow. If only he had his fur mantle - it would easily make a job of drying the damn thing before he packed it away again.

 But no, he had given the fur mantle to Luthelian on a whim - well, more like thrown it on the ground as he stalked away from her, muttering to himself that she ought to keep warm for the entire Arrow's sake. It was just his luck that Luthelian would be scouting with him. She had been guarding the camp when the warriors returned from  their hunt, and had been greatly unimpressed by the trophy, to his annoyance. He had seen her chattering away to some warrior or another, and had snapped at her to go retrieve some provisions for their trip. And now he sat by the streamlet, bow and blades at the ready, waiting for her to return so they could be off. With a longsuffering sigh he wrapped up the horn and tucked it in a satchel slung by his side. Lord Dolthafaer had said to keep it for luck. He would need all the luck he could get on this scouting trip, he muttered drily to himself.