Hunter Tale

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    Koa rocked back and forth on his stool as he idly smoked his pipe and stared up at the ceiling, unperturbed by his guest's growling. "You ever going to fix this thing?" she cursed, kicking the small generator that powered the Golem Board. A heavy wind blew through the stone windows, sighing as if to respond to the large, gruff woman's challenge. The battlefield shifted to another pre-loaded map, and the Golem Board warriors came back to life. A small smile curled the corner of his mouth, once again confronted with her board-position.

"The map switched on us. Maybe we should restart, and..." Koa rocked forward, staring at the heavyset woman, but he said nothing as he chewed his lip expectantly. Sitara the Butcher cracked her knuckles as she sighed in tune with the wind. "Yeah, I didn't think so. Was worth a shot", she said. The host chuckled slightly and Sitara made her move, urging a replica of an early model war golem against one of Koa's scouting units. The golem projected by zy-karo easily dispatched the smaller one, and instantly shifted the projected colors around it from blue to red.The host let out a soft chuckle and shook his head: should have taken the offer, he thought.

The game was not going well for Koa. Now it was his turn to curse his luck, or as Sitara would put it, his "lack of strategic forethought". He was about to make another blunder when there was a knock at the entrance to the hut. "Come in!", he growled, before a ragged-looking youngling burst into the small room the hunter used for entertainment, panting heavily.

"Koa, Koa, we found one!", the child cheered, before beckoning his elders to follow him. Both players had a curious expression on their faces as they slowly dragged themselves after the boy into the adjoining room. It was covered in maps and small traps that were animated with magic of Koa's own design. Koa dragged a massive tome off of a shelf that was otherwise loaded with bound pelts, each with a tag naming a client. Koa sat on the floor, opened the book, and began to slowly flip through the pages, showing the boy each one as the boy repeatedly shook his head. Each page was covered with an illustration of a beast of some sort: one adorned with horns, mutated drakes, vicious hounds, and each with a name to identify the beast in question, some with minor geographical or behavioral notes scratched beneath. After a good deal of paging through the youngling thrust his finger onto a picture of a rather savage-looking wyrm with purple scales and spikes called a "Teygarra", with no additional notes on its page. Koa nodded and glanced at the map on the wall, which had tags of its own dangling off of various pinpoints.

"How far?", Koa questioned, looking his informant directly into the eyes.

"She was up by Juhura! No violence reported or anything like that. En Tien spotted it... probably six days ago."

"Very good, thank you", Koa said, before he stood and went to retrieve some coinage from a box in the corner of the room. He handed the youngling 10 yil strips. "Make sure En Tien gets this when you see him next." The boy nodded and grabbed the change. "You can spend the night here if you want, or however long it takes you to get ready for your trip home", Koa said, before turning to the butcher. "My apologies, but I'm going to have to postpone our game. I've got to get ready." Sitara smiled. "It's okay, there's no shame in accepting defeat", she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm as she contradicted the most basic of Zhuni principles: that one should never surrender or back down from a challenge, their body must break before their will does. It was a blasphemous jest to the ears of most, but a butcher in a remote fishing village could get away with it.

Sitara lingered for a while, helping Koa prepare traps while the young lookout slept on the small cot that Koa kept in the hut. Sitara was in charge of their physical assembly, while Koa charged the traps with mana. Spike traps, nets, buzzers, each had their own particular construction, both in a physical and arcane sense, that had been passed down through countless generations of hunters. Koa would never allow himself to be called a Magi (few hunters would), but his highly focused application of mana in this instance was masterful, to say the least. When he became drained, Koa paused his efforts and pulled from books on the shelf, inspect maps, and check the integrity of the traps already fabricated. He continued his work hours after Sitara had already fallen asleep.

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