Short Story

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The sun was gradually setting behind the trees as fog rolled in, covering the muddy shores surrounding the swamp. The air was getting cold as the native animals began creeping out of their dens. Frogs and night owls could be heard while somewhere in the distance, wolves were howling.

Within these marshlands, a camp had been set up by a group of hunters, having made a temporary headquarters which allowed them to explore the surrounding area. The twenty or so men and women were slowly packing up their supplies and getting ready to go back home for a well-deserved rest after having spent two weeks in these less than favorable conditions.

In a nearby trail, a hunter staggered back to camp at a slow pace, dragging the dead body of a six foot long wild boar behind him. His heavy footsteps sank in the mud, as he cursed this wretched swamp and whoever thought it was a good idea to come here. His officer's armor was muddied, and stank of sweat and gore. Angrily, he swatted away mosquitoes as he approached the camp site. A bearded man in a heavily decorated armor stepped forward to greet him, it was Adam Wolfkin, the Wolf Clan leader.

"How was the hunt, Owen?" asked Adam.

Over seven feet tall and wide as a tree, the hunter known as Owen Bearhide was quite imposing. Unlike most hunters with their swords or spears, Owen's weapon of choice was a two handed war hammer, which he could bring down on an enemy with the force of a falling mountain. He was a formidable hunter that Adam trusted and knew for a good part of his hunting career. The big man was usually joyous and fun loving, but the swamps drab weather was taking its toll, for his patience was now wearing thin.

"Remind me again, Adam" Owen let out a loud grunt as he tossed the boar's carcass in a nearby wagon, "why are we here?"

Adam laughed out loud. He slapped taller man's shoulder as they walked together back to camp. Owen found himself in a somewhat better mood already, being in the murky swamps all day was not his idea of fun.

"My poor friend, you know how it is, we go where the bounty takes us! If we hear something in these woods is worth its weight in gold... we come kill it!" explained the clan leader.

"Adam! I'm not some new recruit fresh out of the academy... This blasted swamp doesn't have anything worth hunting! The only thing we have accomplished here, was gather herbs and stock our food supplies. Why the hell did we come here?" Owen's tone had turned impatient again.

"Yes...well. We also have obligations towards the Guild, which state we must clear out any dangerous or unwanted animals that may have been reported... and such a creature was reported in this area" said Adam, as he was gazing out into the foggy swamp. "But we've been here for almost two weeks, and still nothing. So I shall be reporting our findings back to the Guild Master, and inform him his contact seems to have been mistaken. Now, would you mind helping the others with their preparations? We are leaving tomorrow at daybreak."

"And not a moment too soon" muttered Owen to himself, as he saluted his senior officer and left to go take care of his gear.

While on his way to his tent, Owen came across James Bluewolf, the crossbowmen Captain. He was sitting on a tree stump, swearing under his breath as he cut his finger on an arrow head. James stuck his thumb into his mouth and looked up with a startled expression, only now noticing he is being watched. Owen chuckled as he entered his tent.

Some time passed, and just as Owen finished packing his belongings, he overheard familiar voices originating from outside his tent. Owen poked his head out to see Jeremiah Greatfox and Keith Pathtraveler in a heated argument. Keith was recruited into the Wolf Clan not too long before Owen, and had proven himself numerous times. This was far from enough to impress Jeremiah however, for this old hunter was well-seasoned after many years out in the field. They called him Great Fox for his outstanding tracking talents.

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