Red Fur and Saber Teeth 2:
Bear Hides and Rage
by Fur and Fantasy
R for Violence and Themes
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file
Sharo and Marshan walked along the short wall in the Mage's Guildhouse where the bigger bounties were posted. After two months of hunting small time crooks and relaxing, both felt the need for a bit of a challenge.
And this was the place to find it. Most of their jobs up to now had been picked from the inns, where any bounty hunter could handle them. Now, they weren't just interested in more of a challenge, their pocket-books were. Ten-denari bounties weren't bad, but in the long run they didn't quite do the job of keeping them in the style they both liked.
Fortunately, it was easy to sort them. Bigger bounties were towards the top, smaller towards the bottom, lining a small wall. Aureal bounties for mages who were wanted for theft, all the way up to five aureal and more for murderers and rapists. That was about the highest any bounty got for a single crime, with the most massive bounties only offered by the wealthiest friends and family of the victims.
Then there was the top row, reserved for criminals like Bandon who had earned massive bounties for a number of crimes rather than for a single act. They were the ones they were looking for today.
As expected, there were only a handful, including the near-permanent position at the top, with an unlisted amount, for The Black Beast. Much higher than they were up for yet.
"This one," Sharo pulled a sheet down.
"Any particular... woah." Marshan raised an eyebrow as he saw the ten aureal bounty, then another as he looked at the target. "The Death Bear? That guy's been up there for a while."
"I know why." Sharo shrugged. "He's a Short-Faced Bear. You don't have anything like him around here."
"More common back where you come from?" He asked her, looking over the list of reasons for the bounty. "Shit, this guy's leveled entire villages solo?"
"It's where both races are from." She nodded and read over his shoulder. "And yes, the more powerful ones can do that much damage. There is literally no one on this continent that can match one physically."
"Not even you?" He asked, looking up at her. "We're going to have to be careful with this one."
"Short Faced Bears are a half again my size or more, easily." She nodded. "They're big. This one's probably bigger than most."
"This is weird... describes magic, but not effects I'm used to seeing."
"Probably Bear-magic. Shamanistic. It's not like the kind of magic you're used to with the colleges and all."
"Thaumaturgy still works on druid and shaman spells I've run into before," he reassured her. "We should be covered. So, I'd say we've got a pretty good bet goin' here. Any ideas for how to start tracking, or just follow the trail of carnage for now?"
"Follow the trail. If he's acting at all normal, it won't be hard to track. Those Bears are not much on subtlety." She chuckled grimly.
"So, head back to the inn, grab our gear, and get going?" Marshan suggested, reaching up to tack the notice back up after memorizing the list of places he'd hit.
"After hitting the market for some supplies." She added with a grin and headed out.
"Do you know how to ride?" Sharo locked her gaze on the animal sellers in the market; those with riding beasts.
"I've ridden before," Marshan nodded. "Don't usually bother, but probably a good idea for this trip. Especially if we have to haul a Bear back to a village for the bounty."
"That's what I was thinking. We have a lot of ground to cover too, and a long hunt. One of two of the heavier lizards would make life a lot easier."
"You're thinking a riding dray?" He asked her, looking around. "I've always gotten along with jennets better, myself."
"You're smaller." She chuckled. "Jennets are a bit small for me or our quarry. One's going to have to carry the Bear, the other both of us, or one that can handle all three."
"Point," he conceded with a chuckle. "Though I think after this, we go for mounts that are a bit more comfortable. Think the only thing that'd make you scarier would be seeing you on a destrier in full battle gear, but that's a bit beyond our funds right now."
"Eventually," she chuckled deep in her chest. "Right now, we should be able to afford a couple dray. The bounty is certainly high enough."
"Oh yeah," he chuckled. "So, see any animals that look good around here? I'm going to wager you've got a better feel for it than I do."
"At least for animals that aren't afraid of me," she chuckled as they walked passed a few horses that got edgy. "They seem to think I'll still eat them."
"Some of them still think I'll try and eat them," Marshan pointed out with a chuckle. "Lizards are a lot less jumpy. Easier to keep fed too."
"Yeah, and happy enough to hunt for themselves when it gets bad." She nodded and paused to look over several large four-legged lizards, slightly smaller versions of the ones most farmers used in their fields.
"Can I help you two?" The owner asked helpfully, a powerfully built Wolf dressed in a merchant's finery. Still, he had the rugged air and build that said he likely knew his merchandise from experience with them, rather than from hearing about them from others who sold them.
"Possibly," Sharo turned to face him and summed him up as easily as she had his stock. "If your price is right on a couple good dray for riding cross country."
"Well, that depends on the dray," he said, turning towards the quietly milling animals. "Looking for strength, attitude, speed, or endurance?"
"Endurance first, then speed." She decided easily enough. "Even a light dray should be strong enough to carry me."
"Certainly, ma'am," the Wolf agreed, picking out two animals from the bunch and signaling for the younger Wolves taking care of them to bring them over. The ones he chose were slightly smaller than the rest of them, but they moved quickly and seemed well-trained to her eye.
"Two of my better riding drays," he explained. "My sons trained them themselves; they've never had any trouble with them, and they've out-lasted their riders in the fields. Five aureals for the pair of them and gear."
"*We can talk him down to four, but he is asking a fair price,*" Marshan told his partner after a brief check of the merchant's surface thoughts as he mentally double-checked their funds. It would be just about all the money they'd saved up for 'business expenses' like this. Fortunately they had also already bought all the other supplies they needed. "*We might be able to do better with a promise to 'trade up' once we're done.*"
Sharo nodded, mostly to herself and walked up to the pair to do a reasonable hands-on inspection of the mounts and their basic riding gear. After a few minutes, and another nod, this time in approval, she turned to the Wolf to begin haggling. "Any discount with a promise of coming here for upgrades after this hunt is over?"
"Normally I'm not too crazy about that," the Wolf admitted. "Promises like that tend to be forgotten. But you two... I'd take it down to four. Haven't heard anybody around here complain in the past few months."
Sharo managed to fake astounded and outraged even though she was pleased, and easily settled into the battering that was expected. "Three. They're good animals, but not that good!"
"Three and a half, and I'll give you a discount on the tack for the mounts you buy when you come back," the Wolf counter-offered, shifting his body language to 'I'm not going lower'.
She paused, surprised by the quick end to things, but very pleased by the final total. "Three and a half, and a discount on our next buy, agreed." She extended her hand to seal the deal.
The Wolf accepted the handshake, one of his sons moving to accept the money as Marshan counted it out.
"Good riding, and good luck with your hunt," the Wolf said, his grip firm on Sharo's powerful hand.
"Thank you." She smiled. "We'll be looking for a destrier and jennet that can handle being around combat when we get back."
"I'll be on the lookout," he nodded. "I should have a few coming back soon, so don't expect any trouble with it."
"Excellent." Sharo grinned. "See you in two or three months."
"I'll be waiting for you," he nodded. "Hope they behave for you," he chuckled, looking over as Marshan saddled one of the two drays, which accepted the load with a seemingly cheerful honk. "Maybe you'll decide not to sell them back to me when you come back for the new guys."
"It's possible," she chuckled and saddled her own, the larger of the pair, with easy skill that was only a few months out of practice and made short work of stowing their supplies between the two in saddle bags. "Ready to head out, partner?" She turned to Marshan, her hands with a relaxed hold on the reins of her mount.
"Just don't go leaving me too far behind," he chuckled, his own form slightly less comfortable than hers as they started for the edge of town.
"Not a chance, Foxie." She grinned at him, their route to the last known demolished town set in her mind and the fastest way to get there from here.
Marshan shivered as he looked around, despite the warmth of the afternoon. According to the map they'd just reached the village of Havesbury.
According to their eyes, they'd just reached a charnel house.
Blackened bodies were being picked at by ravens, the stone foundations of houses the only structures left intact. Some walls had been torn down, and everything had been very well burned.
"This was something I never wanted to see again," the Fox murmured, shaking his head to try and keep himself focused on the present.
"With this kind of bounty, you'll likely see more of them." Sharo reminded him quietly as she took in the inferno swept tornado landing zone. "Those numbers don't come from a few kills."
"Not the body count," Marshan said, shaking his head. "That I expected. Last time I saw destruction this complete... it was home," he explained. "I'm going to see if we've got survivors, by some miracle," he said, turning his dray to ride off towards the largest remaining structure.
"Oh," she murmured, looking at him in surprise and with a newfound regard for the Black Beast that had done it. With a shake of her head she swung off her mount and tied it to a bit of building to search the perimeter on foot, seeking the direction Death Bear had gone from here.
It wasn't easy; the weeks since the attack had washed away most scents, so she had to look for tracks. That was easier. What very, very few survivors there had been left by the road that led back the way they'd come. Only one set of tracks had been left by a large creature walking the other way, with a number of mounts following in the days since.
"Nobody," Marshan said, walking up after tying his dray off with Sharo's. "Not too surprised. Survivors wouldn't have hung around here."
"There were a few; they headed towards Tellys." She nodded and led them back to their mounts. "Our Bear headed the other direction, and he's got other hunters on his trail."
"Let's get him then," Marshan said grimly, "if they haven't already. I want to make sure he pays for this."
"Agreed." She nodded as they mounted up and headed out.
"You ever see somebody do something like that before?" He asked her as they rode.
"Not personally, but I have heard of it. Great warrior-heroes of both the Bears and Remok have that kind of power. Some of the great shamans could too." Sharo explained quietly. "Why one would be out here ... if he's one ... that's another matter."
"You want to take enough time to find out before he stops breathing?" Marshan asked.
She looked at him, then back at the town. "I'd be very surprised if we get a choice."
"Kinda what I'd been thinking," he nodded. "Just wanted to check. There's another village about a day's ride from here... think he's headed that way?"
"Most likely." She nodded as they picked up the pace a bit. "From the pattern he's going from population center to population center. Whatever's closest is what gets hit. It was only a matter of a couple miles that spared Tellys."
"If he'd hit Tellys he'd have died," Marshan said darkly. "Unless he did that without coming anywhere near the village. There are enough mages and hunters there to take him down even if he is a warrior of legend. Wonder why he's leaving the farms in the way alone though."
"Not enough people to draw him to them, my guess. There are Gifts that allow you to find prey. The larger the concentration, the greater the draw. If his 'prey' are people, it will lead him to towns and generally skip the handful of targets at farms."
"Great," the Fox muttered. "Any gifts to let you know you are prey?"
"Not that I know of." She shrugged, eyes open for trouble that was probably still a week ahead of them or more.
"At least he isn't likely to know when we're coming up on him. So, any clues for how to fight him when we catch up?"
"Do whatever you can to distract him. I can kill him with a good bite, but it's not going to be easy to make. One on one, even a small Short-Faced Bear is bigger and stronger than I am."
"Maybe I can get that fire spell I've been working on to start his fur smoldering," Marshan mused.
"Anything, but Bears don't burn well." Sharo told him.
"Figures," he grumbled. "Well, we'll worry about that then. For now, we've got to find him."
Sharo's nose twitched. This was the third village in two weeks that they'd passed through that had been razed to the ground by fire and brute force. Each one fresher than the last.
They were catching up, slowly but surely.
"This one might still have someone hiding in it." She said softly, her eyes flickering over the wisps of smoke from still-smoldering buildings. It was days old, maybe even a week, but it was relatively fresh.
"I'll find them," the Fox nodded, dismounting. The drays were uncomfortable with the smells of death and fire. The ravens had more to work on, and cawed irritably at the hunters exploring their dining place. Marshan disappeared around a corner, leaving Sharo to try and find what direction the Death Bear had gone in this time.
It was a process that they'd done each time. He explored the village, she did the perimeter. It was never difficult to track him, Death Bear made little effort to conceal himself, and the remains of one hunting party they'd come across was a good indicator of why. He had precious little to fear in this territory.
And she wasn't really anything to add to that short list. She may have been unusually big and powerful for the area, but it wasn't anything compared to him. That was one thing that weighed on her when she let herself think about it; she'd have to get lucky to win this fight, unless Marshan was able to distract him at the right moment.
Fortunately, he was pretty good at doing that so far.
"Sharo!" He called from inside a wrecked building. "We have a survivor, but I need your help!"
"Coming!" She called back and made quick time to where his voice had come from. A lean Squirrel female was trapped under some rubble. Without a word Sharo put her muscles and large hands to work moving it without crushing the woman under it.
Marshan pulled her out as soon as the stone was out of the way; Sharo couldn't help but notice that she didn't make a sound despite a probably broken leg. Getting a better look at her, she noticed that the woman was dressed in torn leather armor, lean muscle beneath her fur.
She had the look of a hunter, a fighter.
"Thanks," she said, wincing as Marshan helped her onto her good leg. "Either of you a healer or have some supplies so I can wrap this up?"
"Yes to the second," Sharo nodded and went out to get some of their cloth strips and a solid length of wood to support the leg with while the Squirrel was working with Marshan to set the leg so she could splint it properly.
"Thanks," she said again as Sharo brought back the materials. "Name's Deirdre, Watchwood Sentinel. You two?"
"Marshan, Mage Guildsman," the Fox said easily, moving to let Deirdre start applying the splint, clearly not looking for help doing it.
"Sharo." She said simply. "What pounded the hell out of you?"
"Big ass Bear; took out my friends then started coming after me before I took to the trees," Deirdre explained.
"What were you doing out this far?" Marshan explained.
"Got roped into some idiot bounty hunting scheme," she admitted. "Figured a five person crew going after a bounty like that was a pretty good investment. Shit, I put arrows through that hide and it didn't even phase him."
"I'm not surprised," Sharo nodded seriously. "He might notice when he calms down, but Bears like that can keep swinging past the point where they're actually dead. Injuries just piss them off more."
"Wish somebody'd told us that before," she said, closing her eyes in pain both physical and mental. "The others... they died fast, at least," she murmured. "Damn, we were so not ready for him."
"I can count on one hand how many people in this land could have told you," Sharo shook her head. "That's a Short Faced Bear you were hunting. They're not the kind you find around here, any more than I am."
"At least you know that when you see a Sabertooth," Deirdre muttered. "You guys spending the night around here, or moving on, after him or otherwise?"
"It'll be after him," Marshan said, looking up at Sharo. "Not sure if we're leaving now or later though."
"Are you going to be able to get back to civilization solo?" Sharo asked the Squirrel instead of answering.
She took a few moments to think it over, testing her broken leg and wincing.
"In a day or two, assuming I can get water and food to last me through that and until I get to the trees. Can use my hands instead of my legs after that."
"*I say we stay and help her out,*" Marshan told Sharo. "*I want to catch him as much as you do, but we can't just leave her this far from a living village with a broken leg, even with supplies.*"
"It'd be faster if we take you back." Sharo offered. "We've got a couple riding drays."
Deirdre thought it over for a bit, a desire to take care of herself clearly at odds with her own simple knowledge that her best bet would be to go with them.
"If you don't mind, I'd appreciate it," she nodded eventually.
"Do you know how to ride?" Sharo prompted.
"Well enough to hang on behind somebody, but that's about it, especially with my leg like this," Deirdre admitted. "Don't have much call for riding where I come from."
"It's enough." She nodded easily. "I'm the better rider, but Marshan's respectable at it and is probably going to be easier to hold on to for you."
"Besides," the Fox chuckled. "You won't be slowing me down any more than I already am just by riding the poor thing."
"That sounds familiar," she chuckled slightly. "Don't suppose we might be able to get something to eat before we leave? I've been stuck under there the better part of a day now, just my waterskin left for supplies. Even dropped my bow trying to get away from that psychopath."
"Yes," Sharo nodded. "As long as you don't mind dried meat."
"Right now, I'd consider eating it raw," the Squirrel chuckled weakly.
"Here, drink some of this, I'll go grab some food," Marshan offered, handing her his water skin before heading off to fetch some of the dried meat they had for eating without stopping; one of the Sabertooth's habits on a hunt.
"Just didn't want to surprise you with something you won't eat." Sharo smiled slightly and sat down. "Did you see the Bear bleed?"
"Yeah," Deirdre nodded. "Trust me, when I hit something, it bleeds if it can. The Death Bear definitely could; that's why the others got in close. They figured he wouldn't be able to fight near as well as he could after I'd softened him up."
"At least he's not undead then." Sharo let out a small breath of relief. "His behavior has most of the hallmarks of it."
"Oh he's alive all right," she shuddered. "I have never run into something that terrifying before."
"I'm not surprised." She nodded with a shiver of her own. "Even a full pride is usually leery of taking on something like Death Bear. They're ... a class of their own." She paused. "Did you have a mage?"
"Kind of," the Squirrel nodded with a sigh. "Mishka... she was an apprentice at the Earth Mage's guild, the person who had this bright idea in the first place. She was dead before I ran... pretty sure she was at least. She is by now if she wasn't."
"Everyone else were warriors?"
"Mostly," she nodded. "Me, Mishka, Cen was a healer, Kel was a warrior and Ceagen was a berserker. He lasted longest, got in a couple hits before he went down. Cen was trying to keep Kel going when the Bear bashed his brains in, then started coming after me." For just having lost four of her friends, she was holding up remarkably well.
"A solid mix for a hunt," Sharo nodded in approval. They had the right idea to be sure, just not the experience required to pull it off. At least she dearly hoped so, or she'd be in a lot of trouble too. "Did you see the Bear use any magic?"
"I'm no mage, but it looked like he did something before the fight really got going. I'd pegged him with a couple arrows, he did some sort of chant, and it was like he didn't even feel them."
"Sounds like magic to me," Marshan said, coming back with the pack of food and offering some of the jerky to Deirdre, who started eating it quickly. "Sorry to take so long," he explained as he took a seat. "The drays were kinda skittish, so I re-tied them upwind a bit where they could graze without having to smell the fires that're still smoldering."
"Good idea." Sharo nodded. "He's probably got a few enchanted items as well. A Short-Faced Bear that strong would have created or collected at least a couple."
"Might've been activating them," the Fox frowned. "Sharo, you know if that's something items from his territory are capable of?"
"Ignoring pain and damage? Sure. A lot of them. It's a very popular charm with warriors."
"Those might be harder for me to break," he said. "Still possible, but that's trickier to end. Hope you won't be heartbroken if I end up breaking them permanently," he said, looking over at the Sabertooth.
"No." She shook her head easily. "Items are a bonus, but this one's a target where holding back is a bad idea."
"This one's a target where letting him live longer than the first attack is a bad idea," Deirdre said as she finished her jerky. "Tried for his throat, hit his shoulder instead. As big a bastard as he is, he moved damned fast to make sure I couldn't get a clear shot at anything vital after that."
"A Gift for speed too, then." Sharo nodded unhappily. "Can't say I'm too surprised. I'm probably going to need a healer after this one."
"Sounds like we both are," Marshan sighed slightly. "Still, better a healer than an undertaker. After we drop you off at the nearest village," he said, looking at Deirdre, "we can catch up with him and make sure nobody else is going to need one because of him."
"Hopefully before he makes the next village." Sharo added grimly.
"I'm willing to be dropped off near the forest about two villages back," Deirdre volunteered. "It's where I was going anyways, before the rubble hit. There's a waypoint near there for the Sentinels, has supplies enough for me to get back home on my own."
"Closer than the nearest live one?" Sharo looked at Marshan, who was in charge of their maps.
"If we're sticking to the roads, yeah," the Fox nodded. "About a half-day's difference."
"All right then. We'll drop you off there." She nodded in agreement to the plan. "Up for riding for a few hours, then a real meal?"
"Up for getting away from here? Hell yes," the Squirrel agreed. "Just need some help getting to the drays and getting up on one of them."
"That we can do," Marshan chuckled, standing and helping her to do the same until Sharo picked up the much lighter female.
Marshan led them to the tied drays, who were ready to leave the village behind happily. He swung up on his, leaving room for Deirdre to sit behind him. The Squirrel wrapped her arms around him as Sharo mounted her own dray, and they started back towards the waypoint.
"Damn," Sharo muttered under her breath when the scent of a burnt village drifted across her nose. It had cost them almost five days to get Deirdre to her stash of supplies and get back to the village they'd found her in. Two more days of riding hard had brought them here.
"It's fresh at least," Marshan muttered. There were still fires burning, not just the smoldering they'd gotten used to. "Too fresh, damn it."
"We can't be more than a day behind him." She nodded, a shudder ruffling her fur as they urged their uneasy mounts forward. "Let's find survivors and nail that Bear."
"You track, I search," he nodded, urging his forward a bit faster, darting off as he heard something that sounded like a cry.
"It's animal." Sharo called after him, even as she began the perimeter search to find out which way their target had gone from here. If they were as close as she thought, an animal yard here would be a good place to leave their mounts for the final few hours. They'd be more of a liability in combat than asset.
Not for the first time, she wished they'd had enough money to afford the combat mounts she hoped to get after this.
Marshan made his circuit of the village, just as he had the last ones. Each time he seemed hopeful they'd be there in time to find somebody, each time he'd been disappointed, Deirdre aside. This time was no different. The cry he'd heard was a frightened goat, nothing more. He tied his dray to a remaining fencepost, and then returned to his companion.
"We have a field that wasn't totally wiped out," he told Sharo as he walked up to her. "I can tie your mount there while you find his trail."
"We're close enough it'll be best to leave them here to graze while we finish the hunt. We're only hours behind him."
"I'll go put him there," he nodded, taking the reins as she got down. "This is it then."
"Yap." She nodded, forcing her nerves to settle. "We should close by nightfall."
He was back a few moments later, her dray tied with his.
"You were right, by the way," he said softly. "Just a goat. Still more than he's left behind before."
"The last party may have actually injured him." She murmured and headed off cross country on the trail of their pray. "I don't like that we couldn't find any remains though. It doesn't bode well for the fight."
"Why not?" He asked, keeping his questions short to save breath as he followed her.
"Cause it means there is a decent chance that he raised them, or ate them."
"I am so hoping for ate, for what it's worth," he shivered. "Undead suck."
"And he's too dangerous as it is." Sharo muttered, moving fast on all fours to keep her nose near the trail.
Sharo paused to examine the ground again, her sharp nose twitching and snub tail moving quickly as the scent of their quarry grew too strong to be more than a few minutes ahead. Powerful muscles rippled under her short, tawny fur and she relaxed and stretched her powerful jaws, preparing for a battle with one of the few creatures that was actually dangerous to her.
"Close?" Marshan asked her, his fingers working the hilt of his sword nervously.
He froze when she did. He knew how she hunted now. Their quarry was in sight, or a scent so hot it was within rushing distance. It was time to get counterspells ready to protect her while she did the bloody work.
He wasn't even bothering to hide himself. 'Death Bear,' scourge of the countryside, was sitting by a fire in a clearing, eating. Marshan and Sharo both tried not to think about just what might be passing through those jaws.
She shivered, rippling her fur before stalking up on all fours, her body blending in with the tall grass and dappled light of the late evening forest. She'd get as close as she could before charging. Which was typically where their hunts ended.
Marshan was fairly certain this wouldn't be quite that simple. He summoned the magic necessary for the counterspells he'd need, glad he hadn't had to use any extra spells to find the Bear. He hated going into a fight too far below his maximum power.
When Sharo launched herself, a full force rush, without a sound, he realized just how serious she was taking him. She didn't waste a breath on show or moment of surprise.
It didn't really help. The Bear knew she was there and stood to his full height to face his challenger with a roar that put hers to shame.
Even knowing this Bear was huge, Marshan still gasped to realize that their target was a solid two heads or more taller than Sharo and even bigger in relative mass. Her only advantage would be speed, and her steel fangs. It wasn't much.
Marshan felt a rush of terror unlike anything he'd experienced before as the Bear's roar rattled through him. It wasn't magical, but instead an instinctive, visceral response to facing one of the ultimate predators in civilization or nature.
It took all his willpower to remind himself he had another of those predators on his side, and that she needed his help. The Bear brought one massive paw crashing down towards her, narrowly missing her head as she ducked and rolled, bringing her long fangs to bear against it only to bite thin air.
Marshan could see her tactics almost instinctively. She was trying to get behind the Bear. If she could, she could bite its spine clean through and end this.
He heard the Bear speaking, something almost like a prayer. He wasn't sure what the words were; they were in a language he didn't speak. But he recognized the cadence, and the way the Bear's spirit and mind were reacting to the words; it was definitely some sort of spell.
Marshan hurled his counterspell, only then realizing that the strands of magical energy surrounding the battle weren't shifting the way they should to respond to the Bear's efforts. Whatever he was casting, it didn't work the way normal magic did.
"Sharo, I can't stop his magic!" He called to warn her, his heart dropping into his stomach as he scrambled for a combat spell of some sort.
The Bear's spell tapped deep into reserves of power and strength, and his motions became faster, more fluid. The next strike caught Sharo across the flank, his claws scoring her hard leather armor and knocking her half-way around despite her best efforts to roll with it and bring herself back to a natural position to stay in the fight.
Marshan knew she was fighting for her life, and his, and more, she knew it. He could feel it in the very air, in the way she moved. She knew what was going on, even though facing it had surprised her.
Still, she was giving as good as she got, leaving deep, bloody gashes in the giant Bear's hide when her claws found an unarmored side. Suddenly her head snapped around and she drove her teeth into the Bear's arm as it came in to bash her ribs.
He snarled and whipped her bodily off to the side, steel teeth ripping deep gouges in ursine flesh before she slammed back against a tree. The Bear bellowed, his body seeming to warp and twist into a form like something out of a nightmare.
Marshan hurled his most powerful fear spell at the Bear, hoping it would work with his natural responses to the pain and blood. It didn't have nearly the effect it usually did, but he was offering quiet prayers of thanks to every God he knew the name of when the Bear's transformation reversed.
It was more than enough time for Sharo, though, who made a dead bolt right for Marshan and grabbed him without breaking stride, the Bear on their heels only a moment later.
"Deep trouble." She said through her heavy breathing as she bolted through the trees. She was oblivious to her injuries for the time being, but it wouldn't last. "Climb when I throw."
Marshan braced himself, grabbing hold of the branches she tossed him into and scrambling up out of the Bear's reach. Once he could catch his breath, he threw another spell, praying this one would work.
Fortunately, whatever had shielded him the first time wasn't helping as much this time. The Bear let out another roar, but bolted, tearing off through the woods and leaving his battered, bloodied, and thoroughly freaked out attackers behind.
Once Marshan was fairly sure Death Bear wasn't coming back for a while, he climbed down to follow the trail of blood, mostly the Bear's, to Sharo. She was still running, making a path away from where he'd been and towards a river they'd crossed earlier in the day. He doubted she realized that it was over yet.
He just hoped she'd listen; he didn't want to have to try and stop her magically.
"He's gone!" He shouted after her. She had a major lead on him, but she was wounded. He could catch up with her at the river if it was necessary. She'd left an obvious enough trail at least, and he trotted after her, calling periodically, until he heard heavy breathing up ahead.
"We are in so much trouble, Marshan." Sharo said even before he came into view of her where she was nursing her side and a sore neck against a large tree. "Short-Faces are bad on their own. This guy's a Shaman."
"What sort of shaman does things like that?" He asked her dubiously, moving to her side. "Last I heard, shaman spells still responded to thaumaturgy. Let me look at those wounds, see if you need a healer before we go after him again."
Sharo nodded and let him see to her injuries. "Last you heard it didn't include shamans, or any other kinds who wield power, from my land. He's even further away from home than I am."
"Damn it," Marshan muttered. "And whatever he's doing, I can't stop him from doing it."
"He's worth more than ten aureal, from anyone with a clue. What he did ... what you did stop ... it's something only tribal heroes can do. The legends. It was in my great-great-grandmother's time the last time it was seen in any land we talked to."
"And the only reason I stopped that was because I snapped him out of his bloodlust for a few minutes," Marshan said, shaking his head. "Looks like it's just bruising," he said, leaning back from Sharo. "You should probably take some time for the pain to go away, but you'll be fine after that."
"I know," she nodded, long used to assessing her own condition instinctively. "It'll give us time to plan. Flat combat is just not going to work here. With a pride, I could take him down, but not solo."
"Well, now that we know I can't counter his magic, I can focus on keeping him out of that transformation the next time we do run into him," Marshan offered. "You take a load off, I'll get the stuff for a fire and we'll make camp. How does that sound?"
"Good," she nodded and relaxed back, her eyes closing, though her ears stayed alert for trouble while Marshan moved through the woods, his own nose and ears on full alert. The last thing he wanted to have happen was to have that shaman happen across either of them right now.
He swore under his breath as he gathered dead wood and tinder; this was the second time he'd been unprepared for a bounty. He was just damned lucky they'd managed to get away, and that his second fear spell had worked.
As he thought about how to deal with the next time they went after him, he brought back an armful of wood, stacking it and quietly saying the words to one of his newer spells. He visualized a crackling campfire, the words drawing the ambient magic together and weaving it into reality.
He took a deep breath, rubbing his temples as he leaned back against another tree.
"I have so got to work on those flame spells more," he muttered, the brief headache passing quickly.
"Picking up a bit of healing wouldn't hurt either." Sharo chuckled softly and leaned a little closer to the fire. "Any ideas on how to slow him down enough for me to get a good bite in? Can you paralyze him?"
"I can," he nodded. "But it'll probably take two 'hits' to pull it off. I'll explain when I'm back," he said, standing and starting off into the woods to look for any supplies the Bear may have left behind. They needed to eat and Sharo bandages.
Yeah, that second fear spell had definitely kicked in. He gathered as much of the Bear's as he could carry. No sense letting it go to waste.
Somewhat more slowly than he had arrived, he started back towards their camp.
"Our 'friend' left us some compensation for our trouble earlier," he said somewhat cheerfully.
"Good," she smiled and stood to help relieve him of the burden. "Anything interesting, besides food?"
"A few things that might've been enchanted, I didn't really take the time to check," he explained. "Want to eat before we raid, or do that up first?"
"Eat first." She chose easily and picked up a packet of meat without hesitation. "Now you said you could paralyze him?"
"Yeah," he nodded, grabbing a meal of his own. "From what happened, I'm guessing that he can put himself into a bloodlust that shields him from my Mind magic. I have spells that can do the same thing; I just don't use them unless I'm trying to start a riot. At any rate, the first spell will drop him out of his bloodlust, and stop the transformation if he's starting it. The second seems to work the way it's supposed to."
She nodded thoughtfully. "If we can sneak up on him again ... I only need one good bite to end it. Even if it only lasts a few moments, it's enough."
"He'll probably be a lot more careful now that he knows we're close and not just going to get crushed like most Hunters," Marshan pointed out. "If we could set some sort of a trap up, it could delay him enough for me to get the two spells off and let you get after him."
"Any ideas?" Sharo asked. "Most of what I know is better suited to hunting things you can predict."
"We might be able to predict him, but the time we catch up again," Marshan pointed out. "But the easiest method would be a net or some sort. We could even use it if we don't get ahead of him."
"True," she nodded thoughtfully. "Coat it with sap and it's very difficult to get out of. The more you struggle, the tighter it gets."
"Yeah," he nodded. "He might be able to rip out of it, but that'd take enough effort to give me the time."
"Which will give me the time." Sharo added with a savage grin. "This is the kind of hunt that makes me appreciate metal-tipped spears. I just never get around to buying one."
"After this, you'll be able to afford about a dozen of 'em easy," Marshan chuckled, shaking his head as he thought. "Last I checked we don't have a net, so we might have to do a little looking around for one. Or follow him until we find one that's lost an owner," he said, shaking his head.
"Nets are easy to make, little Fox." Sharo chuckled and ruffled his hair playfully as their meal cooked. "We've got rope and sap is all around us."
"Well I know you're okay now," he grumbled good-naturedly. "You never tease when you're in serious pain. Want to take a look at the stuff he left? Maybe some of this will be helpful to us. I know we'll be able to find him with it."
"Sounds good." She nodded and shifted closer to her partner to dig through the second pack and its contents with him. "Oh, for the bounty, does he have to have his hide and top jaw intact?"
"It'd be the easiest way to identify, but that's about it," Marshan said easily. "Planning on taking a trophy?"
"Something like that." Sharo nodded, quirking a grin. "New armor. Taking out anybody that powerful is something to brag about."
Marshan chuckled and shook his head. Grisly as the prospect was to him, he was learning to respect her culture's 'quirks'.
"Probably more at that camp that you'll recognize than I did," he admitted, pulling out some tools and trinkets marked with runes, some magical, most not. "He's still got his club; we'll have to see about getting that from him, maybe."
"It'll be the most potent magical item he has. They always are. We're better off just tangling him up and not worrying about it." She paused and cocked her head, then reached over and picked up a small pottery bowl with a sealed wax lid. "All right, we have healing salve."
"Well, that's going to turn out to be handy," Marshan said seriously. "How effective do you think it is?" He asked her, knowing she probably knew more about this equipment than he did. It was from her home continent, even if it wasn't her home territory.
"Not as good as a healer, but it would repair those holes I put in his arms in a day or two. Stops bleeding almost instantly, increases natural healing rate and is very good at preventing infection." She set it down. "That's enough to put me back together after a nasty battle."
"Definitely want to hang onto it then," Marshan nodded. He looked the runes over, cocking his head slightly. "Know if these are worth anything?" He asked her. "None of this stuff seems to be enchanted the way we're used to it here."
"Locally, not a lot." She admitted, looking them over. "Except as curiosities at least. Back home it's a small fortune, including two slaves that obviously aren't around."
"I was wondering more if they were magical," he said. "I don't know how to use them, of course, but if they are I might be able to figure it out. As for the slaves... that's something about this whole thing that bothers me," he admitted.
"It's not the slavery you know." Sharo shrugged. "They could be back in his village for all we know. These are just their staffs of ownership." She picked up two smooth sticks engraved with many characters and some decorations. "This is the slave's name," she pointed to a line of characters on the top half of one stick. "The red zig zag line in the middle means it's an adult female and owned for life. The characters on the bottom indicate her skills of note and that one is a bedslave and one is not."
"Not the slavery," he said, shaking his head. "That somebody of his ability and rank is on this lone... crusade, for lack of a better word. I'd think he'd have at least a raiding party with him, shouldn't he?"
Sharo looked away a bit, her ears dropping slightly. "Unless things have changed more in my years away than in thousands of generations before me, no. This isn't an authorized raid. This isn't how they work. He's here by himself either because he's rogue or out exploring and lost his mind. Flat Faced Bears are big and vicious, but they just don't act like this one."
"Vicious, but not marauding?" He guessed. "So we'll have to put this guy down before he trashes the chances for the rest of his kind to be taken as anything else."
"Right. You don't cross them, they can take what they want, but no one does this kind of thing. One village, possibly, if you were greatly wronged somehow, but we just don't wage war like you do here. The whole 'kill everything and destroy the village' thing is just ... uncivilized."
"And he's outdoing most armies with the damage he's doing," the Fox shuddered. "I don't think he's insane either, not the same way Bandon was at least. He's not entirely lost in it, for all his motives might not be sane."
"At the very least, he's a public menace." Sharo sighed. "He's lost touch with the value of life. It's not something a warrior should do."
"This is more personal to you than just another bounty now, isn't it?" Marshan asked her softly.
"It's getting there." She shrugged. "I wasn't expecting to meet a legend from back home, even if I don't know his name. You really don't get a fair look at what it's like, from those you meet. The only ones you'll find this far out are those banished from the homelands, and the rare male out looking for a way to buy his way into a powerful pride. It's not what it's really like."
"Hey," he smiled slightly. "For what it's worth, I think you make a pretty good impression, when you try to."
"Thanks," she smiled almost shyly at him, which made for a very strange look on her stout, saber-fanged face. "I guess this is a good time to mention that if we ever meet a Remok with both fangs intact, you should stay very low. It's going to get bloody fast."
"Bloody 'don't try to stop the two of you' or bloody 'get out of the way and get off a sleep spell as fast as I can'?" He asked.
"Number two, especially if it's a female. I'm not one to be suffered to live." She explained quietly. "I even rebuilt my fangs. It's kind of an insult."
"If it happens, you've got backup," he promised her. "Don't know what you did to make them do that to you, and I don't honestly care."
"All I did was be the outsider in camp when their Chief was murdered." Sharo shook her head. "I don't think I was even asked if I did it."
Marshan growled, his fur bristling a bit.
"For fuck's sake, even I always make sure somebody's actually guilty before I go playing vigilante," he muttered. "I'm assuming you didn't do it, of course."
"No, I didn't." She shook her head. "Camps are close-nit. A large one is two dozen adults. It's not like it is around here. Personal politics are everything. But with my fangs cut that short, my only chance to survive is to get on this side of the Ice Sea. It's true with most of the Remok you find out here."
"Still sucks," Marshan pointed out, smoothing out his fur. "Definitely not letting anybody go after you for it then."
"Yeah, but that's life." She said in mostly-acceptance. "I've done pretty well for myself here, even if it's not home."
"That you have," he agreed. "Probably living better than you would there too, by most standards. Don't know that you'd have the comfy rooms you usually go for back home," he chuckled.
"No, but I don't have sisters or a few males to be with here." She countered simply. "I wouldn't choose to make that trade, but I try to make the best of what life hands me to deal with. It's not bad here, it's just not home."
"I'm about to ask a question that might be really, really stupid," he warned her. "But you ever think of trying to find some other Remok who've been exiled for the same sort of reason, trying to put together a tribe of your own?"
"Thought about it, even tried it a couple times. So far my situation's an anomaly. The couple other females I've met have been very anti-social, and I've got nothing to offer a male that they want. A hunting territory is well beyond a single Remok's ability to hold."
"Ugh," he said, shaking his head. "Well, if you ever do get the chance, good luck with it. Not having a home or kin sucks, especially when it's not your fault."
"Thanks." Sharo smiled slightly and spotted an engraved bone and feather item. "I don't know if it's magical, but this is a charm. It's meant to ward off evil spirits."
"We'll hang onto it then," Marshan said easily. "Won't hurt to keep it, and we can ask somebody who'll know. It's weird; I can't actually see the magic in any of these, not the way I'm used to at least."
"It's from very far away. Many sets of magic thoughts away from here." Sharo quirked a grin. "I'm not surprised. A lot of Bear magic is really spirit binding, not what I gather is how magic works here."
"Not permanent magic at least," he nodded easily. "An elementalist might bind a spirit to a weapon, but that ends up being like Bandon's dagger; the enchantment breaks when the binder dies or sets the spirit free. Explains why I couldn't dispel his magic either. Even the druids and shamans around here work on the same basic theory we do."
"While we've figured out how to make spirit-powered items permanent." She nodded. "The Bears use it more than we do, but it's well-known among those who can do such things."
"Damned handy ability around here," Marshan said respectfully. "I could tell he was using a spell, but didn't have a thing that'd stop it."
"Oh, that's something else entirely." Sharo chuckled softly. "Those kinds of effects are magic, not spirit-powered, but it's Bear-Magic. I've heard of a couple very powerful Remok who have managed to learn low-level Bear Gifts, but it's very rare. They have the same trouble with Saber-Gifts."
"I'll settle for the 'anybody with the talent can learn anything' system we've got here," he chuckled. "Means there's a chance that one of these days you'll have somebody who's a half-decent healer to work with."
"Oh, every group has a version of the basics. Things like healing are far too important not to have around. It's the specialty things that get specific. Kind of like how you can learn mind-magic easier than fire right now."
"True," he admitted. "I am going to at least figure out a basic fireball before another mission like this one."
"It'll be useful." She nodded and leaned towards the fire to divvy up their hot meal, the first in days. "Though against this guy, not nearly as useful as you'd hope."
"Bears don't burn," he nodded, taking his part of the food and starting to eat. "You warned me before, why I didn't try it then. At least I know I'm not half-way to developing a skill we desperately need right now."
"Nah," She chuckled and dug into her food eagerly. "Now, if you were learning how to drop a small mountain on him, that would be useful."
"That's a high-grade earth-mage," Marshan smirked. "And frankly, I don't expect to be picking up more than a smattering of elemental spells at this rate. Still, we've got a plan that should let us get our hands on him."
"Quite true," she nodded between bites. "You've got magic that works and I've got the teeth to finish the job."
"So let's get that net put together after dinner, and start hunting him again in the morning," Marshan nodded. "With any luck, catch him before another village ends up pissing him off."
"Good," she nodded sharply. "Watch tonight will be dangerous. He may well come back when he stops running."
"I'll take the first watch, you take second?" He offered. "Let you sleep those bruises off before we get going."
"Works for me." Sharo nodded and began to dig into their supplies for what they needed for the net.
Death opened his eyes. Rage built with a roar.
Back to his things. His things. That bite-sized fluffball had stolen them.
He roared again, rage so pure it was calming as thought ended and the hunt began.
It wasn't hard; his scent was strong. He hadn't even bothered to hide it, hadn't thought Death would return for what was his. The fool would be a meal before the night was out.
Trees passed in a blur, the scent getting stronger as the faint tingle of wood-smoke tinged the air. A fire, meant to keep the beasts at bay.
One beast wouldn't be stopped by it.
Rage and instinct fell away as magic assaulted his mind, stripping away the comfort of blind bloodlust just as it had stopped his transformation before.
"Sharo, we've got company!" A voice shouted; the Fox calling for his saber-toothed friend, no doubt.
This wasn't a time to give into the foreign magic. Death roared again and charged that voice. With the mage dead, the cat was an easy kill.
Another spell assaulted him, breaking his rage again. Still, his blow was true, and the Fox was hurled back like a rag doll. There was blood on Death's claws; not much, not as much as there should have been, but it was there all the same.
The Fox was still standing though. He was staggering, but still standing, still alive and gasping for enough breath to cast a spell.
Death howled, thrashed, his great claws ripping deep into the solid mass half on his back before it was thrown into a thick tree, leaving the intoxicating smell of blood everywhere.
Pain and bloodlust blinded him completely, and he lunged after the source of both.
Marshan tightened his grip on Fang as the Short Faced Bear lunged for Sharo, grabbing hold of her while she was stunned. He brought the slender blade around in a flashing arc, the sharp edge cutting into the fur and fat of the Bear that had nearly ambushed them.
He didn't have time to cast any spells; all he could hope was that the two of them could keep him bouncing back and forth between them, aggravating him enough to keep him from hurting the other too badly.
And eventually give Sharo a killing shot, or have blood loss take him down.
She was certainly doing her part. Steel fangs flashed in the dim light to disappear into Bear hide and flesh, tearing through it relentlessly with the strength of her mass and sharpened edges suitable to any sword. She wasn't trying for an instant kill. She couldn't yet. But she was doing damage as she could, keeping the Bear away from the Mage.
It didn't take the berserk shaman long to decide that Sharo was clearly the bigger threat. He tried to grab for one of her gleaming sabers, lashing out wildly and narrowly missing as she dove out of the way to roll up behind him and drive her powerful jaws deep into his back.
As much as both hunters desperately hoped she'd get his spine, no bone snapped as she pulled her sabers out, doing as much damage as she could in the process. Despite her swiftness, she wasn't fast enough to save herself from going under the giant Bear when he rolled over, trying to crush her with his own mass.
Marshan drove his blade into Death Bear's side, catching another broad sweep of his claws that knocked him reeling. Despite the blow, it was enough to force the monster to keep rolling, rather than settling on top of the Sabertooth beneath him. A Sabertooth than didn't let go, instead driving into his back with her claws and slicing her fangs free to drive them in again, going for blood loss to bring him down if she couldn't get a critical shot.
Death Bear managed to reach around, grabbing hold of Sharo and hurled her into Marshan just as he managed to get to his feet, sending them both rolling with the unnerving crack of bones.
Blood soaked the Bear's fur as he stalked towards the tangled hunters. Fang's hilt was all they could see of the blade deep in his belly. His pain was evident in every step; looking at him, they knew he'd need magic to survive this.
Unfortunately, they weren't at all sure that would be enough for them by the time he was done.
It wasn't something Sharo let herself think about as she pulled herself to her feet through the pain. The taste of blood, the Bear's and her own, was thick in her mouth as she stalked sideways, looking for an opening.
The two of them circled for a few moments, almost like they were just waiting to see if one of them would die before they found a chance to finish the fight. In the end, that was exactly what happened.
The Death Bear let out a deep groan as his massive frame slumped to the ground, too weak from loss of blood and ripped, torn muscles to even move anymore. His breath heaved to draw each labored breath, but he managed to raise his head, looking into Sharo's eyes with an expression that seemed to ask her for one thing. That she end it now, at the hands of an enemy who'd bested him, rather than at the whim of a body too weak to keep fighting.
With more respect than Marshan thought she'd ever show an enemy, she pinned his head back with on hand on his jaw and one on his shoulder before ripping his throat clean out to bleed him out in a matter of seconds.
Marshan groaned as he moved to her, a part of his mind complaining that he should be helping himself first.
"Are you all right?" He asked her, his voice hard as he tried to figure out just where she'd been hurt this time.
"Will be," she groaned and let the Bear drop from her hands. "Wash up and use the ointment for the worst of it. You?" She looked him over and frowned, not liking the amount of blood present.
"Good thing there's a river handy," he said, moving away and starting to strip off his outer robe, already stained with blood. "Armor took the worst of it, but...." He winced as he moved his arms a bit too far. "Couple broken ribs, claws got into me about a quarter inch I think."
"At least you were wearing armor." Sharo stood with some difficulty and walked slowly to the running water. "Hit like that could have cut you in two."
"Wish I'd been wearing more," he said with a painful chuckle as he followed her, pausing to grab the ointment. "Actually, think I'll just settle for not getting hit next time. Think I could've been wearing a full suit of mail and still gotten my ribs busted up by that guy."
"Yap." She nodded and made relatively quick work of stripping off her armor and clothes to clean her fur and wounds.
He moved somewhat more slowly, his torn robes and leather armor lying on the shore as he slid into the cold water of the river's eddy.
"I am so glad you wake up fast," he groaned as the mild current drew blood from his fur. "If you hadn't gotten him, the best I would've managed would be skewering him with Fang before he killed me."
"I'm glad he was focused on you, or I would have never gotten that close to him." Sharo replied as she gingerly got into the knee-deep water to wash her side.
"I have a hunch he was pissed off at me for running off with his stuff and making him run away from a fight he could've won," Marshan murmured.
"So who's going back for the drays?" Sharo asked as the blood washed from her short, tawny fur to reveal three deep gouges in her side that oozed rich red blood as she got out of the water. They were the worst of what she'd taken, but hardly all of it.
"How good a shape are you in, once we use that stuff on you?" He asked, not quite up to pulling himself out yet.
"With the salve we got from him," she nodded towards the dead Bear, "I'll be fit to travel in a day or two."
"Any idea how well it'll work on me, if we've got enough?" The Fox finally pulled himself out of the river, biting his lip.
She considered his wounds as he stood up. "It doesn't work on bruising or bones nearly as well as open wounds, but with a little care, you should be good to travel in a few days. Less if you can take a little more pain."
"As in riding with bones still mending? Think I can take that," he nodded.
"Actually I meant that the bones will heal much faster if the salve is applied directly to them." She explained as she carefully applied the creamy grey substance to herself, taking care to get it into the wounds as completely as possible.
"Directly... you mean opening me up?" He asked her incredulously.
"Just over the broken ribs," she nodded, completely serious. "A slit in the skin so the salve can be put directly on the injury."
"How long will it take?" He asked, doing some math in his head. If it would be done while one of his spells was still working on himself... he'd just have to trust her.
"Less than a minute per rib." She said easily. "Just a quick cut over the break and put the salve in."
"Four ribs, if that many are broken," he said after a few moments thought. "I'll be better off at least. My paralysis spell lasts about five minutes, so I'll use that rather than be aware through it, thanks. But I have a feeling you'll be going back after the drays when this is done."
"All right," Sharo nodded easily and dug around her pack for a sharp knife after quickly dressing in a basic tunic. "Just let me find them first so I can make it quick."
"Right," he said, pulling on his shorts painfully and laying out on the bedding he hadn't expected to use for a couple more hours.
Maybe he'd put the flame magic on hold in favor of some healing work after this....
He tried not to wince when her long, strong fingers moved along his ribs, up one side and down the other, then more carefully over the breaks to make them in her mind.
"All right. I know where they've broken." Sharo told him almost gently.
"Right," he nodded slightly, careful not to move too much. "So, here we go...." He drew on the magic around him, putting most of his remaining energy and control into casting this one last spell for the night. His body stiffened, and he quickly sent his mind into a meditative state.
With a little luck, it'd be enough to make up for the complete lack of anything to dull the pain.
Sharo made one quick slice across the broken ribs, exposing the jagged edges with little effort and began to slather on the salve. The bleeding and pain stopped almost instantly as the grey goo was pressed gently into the wound and the bones pushed into alignment.
Through it all, and the rest of the broken ribs, she only got the occasional whimper from Marshan. By the time the spell wore off, she was finished, using more of the ointment to seal up the wound.
"Let's not do this again soon," he groaned as his body lost its rigidity. "Though it didn't hurt as much as I expected at least."
"The salve is a very effective painkiller." Sharo smiled slightly at him and used his returned mobility to help bind his ribs in place. "You should be fit to travel by afternoon."
"Good," he chuckled slightly, tying the wrappings off. "So, five aureals richer for each of us," he mused slightly.
"And a new set of armor for me," She grinned ferally. "At least eventually. Does a mage have to fashion the object they enchant?"
"If it was, there'd be a lot more mage-smiths out there," Marshan said, laying back to rest. "It makes it easier, but it's not necessary. Sure you want to turn him into armor?" He asked her.
"It bothers you?" She raised an eyebrow and looked over as she bandaged her own wounds for the night.
"A little I guess," he admitted. "It's just a little eerie, thinking about turning the hide of a sentient being into armor. I'll be fine with it; it's not like we killed him just for his hide or something."
"Hardly," Sharo nodded. "He was a great warrior. It's an honor to him as well as me. He was powerful enough to warrant the effort, mine that I defeated him. It'll be much better armor than I can buy in this land too. Properly prepared, a Short-Faced Bear hide can deflect steel while remaining as flexible as in life."
"I'll deal with it then," Marshan nodded. "Just don't expect me to skin the next bounty that ends up being a body," he chuckled slightly.
"Hardly." She grinned with an easy laugh and winked at him. "Powerful mages get turned into charms."
"If I ever end up bound into a stick, I am going to be so snarky to whoever has me," he pouted, both of them starting to get a little silly as the adrenaline of the surprise attack started to drain.
"A stick?" She couldn't help but snicker. "No way. You're too pretty to be a stick. You'd be a fur necklace. Or maybe your tail on some noble lady's hat."
"At this rate you're going to say I should be turned into a magical pair of ladies undergarments," he sniffed, managing to sound offended without giggling.
"Mmm, stop giving me ideas." She rumbled in amusement. "You do have the softest fur."
"That's it, I'm not dying unless I'm in the middle of a large city with a legally validated will saying I get buried properly," he said, sticking out his tongue playfully.
"You are so in the wrong like of work for that, Foxie." Sharo laughed and relaxed back, building the fire a little higher. "Want a snack after that workout?"
"Sure," he chuckled, sitting up a bit while she started cooking some more.
Red Fur and Saber Teeth 2: Bear Hides and Rage
R for Violence and Themes
67 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written March 26, 2005 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann
Primary Races: Fox, Sabertooth, Short Faced Bear
Contents: Furry. Gen.
Blurb: Two months of successful hunting together have brought Marshan and Sharo to their first big bounty: a Short-Faced Bear Barbarian wanted for razing towns all over the region.
Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.
Page Hit Count from March 26, 2005