Two Dogs



    In the wilderness northeast of Coersipide, where the new wave of road building had not yet reached, travelers still made their way by rutted tracks following the ancient roads and the forests still teamed with plentiful game and dangerous monsters. It was a place where fugitives founded colonies of brigands, where spies met in shaded glens, where wizards still lived in isolated towers, where merchants traveled with armed guards and sometimes still were never heard from again.

In this land the Akolod Korziul had come, as he was unwelcome in most cities. Things were simpler for him in rural areas anyway. As an able hunter, few cared that he also looked like something between a savage gray hound and an over-enthusiastic body-builder. He dressed archaic; it didn’t matter. When you were seven feet tall and covered in gray fur and had a tail, there wasn’t much you could do for clothing to attract attention. All that was required of him to maintain a standard of living was to do what came natural, to bound through the forest following his eyes, nose, and ears to prey.

One day, or evening rather, as Korziul was about to venture into the forest he saw a small pavilion set up just outside the village walls. As he approached it, he found it to be a sort of festival area devoted to food, music, and beer. Korziul had never drank much, but he could not believe how cheap the beer was flowing here, so he figured now was as good a time as any to give it a try. He bought twenty sealed steins of the cheapest alchohol on tap, then sat down against one of the massive kegs to drink it down.

By the time he had drank the last of it, he was having some serious heart palpitations, was very tired, and his vision was as blurry as if he’d been looking through six inches of frosted glass. Still, since his courage and caution had been inversely set against each other, he drew out his favorite hunting gun, gave his ever-present loyal hunting dog’s head a vigourous shake, and set out into the midnight forest.

That long night he hunted wolves, deer, rabbits, giant spiders, brigands, even a boar that must have been as big as a horse.

He slept that night in a barn on one of the small farms that radiated outward from the city, in a stall on clean hay. The smell of farm animals lay heavy on his nostrils, awakening ancient instincts that he put to sleep with exhaustion. His haul wasn’t bad; two giant spider legs in saleable condition; two rabbits’ feet; four portions of stringy wolf meat; six bundles of wolf fur; one giant canine tooth (wizards and shamans always had a need for these); and two big chunks of boar meat. He’d have to get it to market first thing in the morning, but for now, sleep.

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