Private Tales On The Hunt

Myrdin

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Myr squatted down, his gaze slowly panning over the small campsite.

Embers were still hot, though the fire had gone out what seemed to be hours ago. It was obvious that someone had been here just a short while ago, likely having left only that morning. His query, no doubt. There were dents in the grown from where she had slept, impressions within the dirt from where she had begun to walk away once more.

It had been a week now since he'd been sent from Alliria, a little more since the crime had taken place.

Murder was always a complicated topic, always something that people would rather ignore. Problem was, you couldn't really ignore it when it was a noble that got killed.

The Son of an Allirian Merchant Councilor, one of the richest men in the world. That was who had died. The City Watch had been all but useless, and so Myr had been one of a hundred bounty hunters and Mage-breakers that had been dispatched from the city. He was the first one of them here, though he knew others would soon follow.

"You're in a lot of trouble little lass." Myr said to himself with a shake of his head.

He had to get moving. Only the first one got the prize.
 
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Isla

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Feet were bare, as her preference. There was something about being connected to the earth that had always comforted Isla. And she was so far from home now. So lost, that she needed all the comfort she could get. Wild-flaming hair whipped around her bronzed-olive skin.

This place. The Ichtel Wilds felt like home. But not really. The smell of the salty sea she'd grown up with was all but gone unless she climbed the highest tree she could find. Her father's humming as he cleared the fishing nets was replaced with the roar of the wild.

And nothing could replace the screams.

Hers or the man's. He offered her a ride. How was she to know that he'd wanted...more.

A shiver racked through her spine. Palm pressed flat against the rough bark of a tree as she caught her breath. Should she return to the island? Would anyone believe that it hadn't been her fault?

Probably not.

Besides, if she returned she'd be bound in a different kind of shackles. The shackles of marriage to a half-elf she didn't love. So, she moved onward, long-legs taking her further into the wilds.
 
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Myrdin

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Myr's steps were quick, though he did not run.

In the Wilds running was as dangerous as moving at night. One could get easily caught by a dozen different monsters if they weren't careful. Waywatchers, Hydra's, Frogghouls. All of these creatures lurked within the Wild, all of them wanted you dead.

He knew that just as well as most, though perhaps a bit more. His people often traveled the surrounding seas of the Wilds, trailing along the coast and watching as the monsters preyed upon one another.

The Girl had been foolish coming here.

It was after half a day that he managed to tread into her tracks, closing the distance between the two of them. At least he thought. "She's close."

Myr said to himself, trailing a hand over dirt tracks.
 
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Isla

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Someone is close.

The trees whispered to the half dryad. She frowned. Who was it? Digits went through strands of fire, pushing them back from her face. She turned and looked over her shoulder as if she could see whoever the trees warned her about.

But she saw nothing other than the fly of some wild insects and some larger predators lurking in the trees. Perhaps they didn't bother her because they recognized one of their own. She didn't like being on the run. Head tipped back, long neck exposed. She would feel better higher.

Up.

Stretching high, her fingers clasped around the lower branches of a tree as she began to climb. Heart hammered in her chest. A sheen of sweat tugged at her clothes, clinging against her muscles and curves.
 
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Myrdin

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"I would not run anymore!" Myr's voice boomed out within the forest, still walking along the floor.

He carried only a bow as a weapon, it's curved handle and a quiver of arrows resting upon his back as he stepped out into the clearing he was sure she had just been in.

"A hundred men left Alliria when I did." Myr called. "Most of them would see you dead!"

Wouldn't he?

Myr did not like killing his targets, that was not business. He preferred to take them alive, bring them in to serve time in jail. Yet he was sure that would not be her fate, positive that she would be executed within a day of her return.
 
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Isla

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Isla straddled a branch high above. She peeked down at the man. Hard to tell but were his ears...pointed? She frowned.

Lips parted.

Then she paused. She didn't want to give her position away. But he seemed to be an extraordinary tracker. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before he found her anyway.

A hundred men?

All for that one man who held her down in his wagon. Who brought iron shackles that burned against her skin. That dagger against her throat. His ravings about freeing the...

Head shook.

"If I were you, I would leave," she called down from her eagle's perch. "There are hungry creatures about. I am not worth the reward you are seeking for a man who isn't what he seemed to be."
 
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Myrdin

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Ah so it would be one of those. Her voice filtered down from the trees, and he glanced up. He could not see her, she was too high up, but he was confident that she was there. "I am well aware of the dangers here."

He told her softly.

The Wilds were an interesting place. More free than most places in the world, and yet somehow a cage for all sorts of life.

"I do not care who the man is." He told her."Just that he has coin enough for me to survive."

That was a lie. Myr did not like working for monsters, did not like serving fools and villains. "There are ninety nine others behind me, Lass. Just come down."
 
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Isla

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Back was against the rough bark. Strong thighs wrapped around the branch she perched on. Chin tilted downward. Brow rippled in thought.

A bounty hunter.

Were there really that many behind him?

Half would die in the wilds - surely.

Head tipped back and her eyes squeezed closed. For a moment she imagined she was back at her father's fishing village. If only she'd agreed to the marriage. Then she never would've met that man on the road. Never would've been in this situation.

"No."
 
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Myrdin

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Myr slowly reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose.

Just once in his life he would like something to be easy. Just once he would like to be able to do something simply and without a fifty minute argument with himself or whomever the hell else was in front of him.

A breath slowly filled his lungs. "If you don't come down I will come get you."

His hand reached up towards his bow and drew it from his back, testing it for a few seconds and then looking back up towards the trees.

"I don't want to hurt you." Myr repeated. "But If I have to I will."

He tried one last gambit. "If you come down I'll listen to your side of the story."
 
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Isla

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"Oh can you climb?" A hint of amusement feathered her tone. Eyes cracked open, mossy-greens tracking downward to see a hint of blond.

"Are you not listening to me now?"

Lips pursed. She didn't feel like being shot at, either. A warm breath huffed a wild ribbon of red from her face. "What if I come down halfway. And you hear me out?"

A try at a trade.
 
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Myrdin

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He could climb just fine, though he didn't like to do it. Bad enough that he had not set foot on the sea for nearly a decade, the idea of climbing trees made all of this even worse. "Fine."

Myr agreed.

At least if he could see her it would make it more difficult for her to run away. Plus, if he needed to he would just be able to pin her to a branch. Doing that likely meant that she would need to be carried most of the way back but...

It wouldn't be the first time.

"Come down then." Myr said as he sat himself down. "Just remember, you do not have all the time in the world."
 
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Isla

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Legs slowly unwound.

"Okay," the young woman called down to him. The bounty hunter. What kind of a man hunted others for coin? Then again, she imagine most of the time, the others were perhaps bad men and women. Criminals.

Was she one now?

Damn.

Limbs that nearly grew up in the trees climbed easily down. Until halfway. She could see her pursuer more clearly now. Sandy stubble. A blue mark across his face. Bow.

A frown tugged at her full lips. She crouched on a lower limb, back against the trunk.

"How many times do the people you hunt ask you to listen to their side?"
 
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Myrdin

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"More often than you would think but less than one would hope." The answer was an extremely cryptic one, but also the only real way he could think of putting it.

When she clambered down he finally spotted her, noting just how quickly she moved through the trees. A frown touched his face for a brief moment, but he did not let it linger long enough for her to see. His hand came up to rub at his beard.

"Let's hear it." He told her. "Though I will be honest. I still think I'll be the least of your problems."

Even if he decided to leave dozens more would come, and most of them weren't exactly simpletons either.
 
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Isla

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She eased her bum down to the branch, letting her legs dangle.

"So concerned about me already?"

More likely his lost coin.

Teeth chewed on her lowerlip. She didn't see any way out of the situation she was in. If what this man said was true, they would catch up to her eventually. He wasn't firing at her yet. Perhaps she could afford some time to talk to him. See what happened. And if he tried anything? Well.

She felt the earth all around her. The magic never left. It was a part of who she was. She'd be able to take care of herself. She didn't want to hurt him. She'd never hurt anyone before ever...until.

Teeth dragged across her lip.

"I met him along the road. He offered to give me a ride and perhaps I was naive to take him up on the offer. Where I come from...people tend to not have as many ulterior motives." Palms shifted on the branch. Perhaps he didn't need to know the finer details. So, she kept it simple.

"He attacked me and I defended myself. I didn't mean to...but it happened."
 
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Myrdin

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Myr listened to the story carefully, frowning as she spoke.

The story was not an uncommon one in Alliria, in fact it was what most women had to endure at one point or another. Usually the City Watch would take care of it, but...well he understood in this case why they would have kept away.

A merchant councilor could easily ruin any semblance of life that you might be able to have. Especially if you were just an ordinary guardsmen. "I see."

Myr said, fighting the injustice he felt.

"I Sympathize." He told her softly. "But I do not think it changes your current problem."

Myr might have believed her, might have thought she'd done the right thing but...a dozen other hunters certainly wouldn't care.
 
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Isla

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She frowned and drew her legs up so her bare feet pressed against the bark of the branch she sat upon. Arms encircled around legs drawn tightly to her chest. Chin jutted out to sit atop her knees. She watched him carefully as he spoke.

Head tilted slightly, as if she was listening to something else.

"Well," she drew a breath, chin lifting off her knees. "Do you have a solution that doesn't end with me hanged in Alliria?"
 
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Myrdin

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Myr frowned for a few seconds, fingers tightening for few seconds as he considered just what the hell he could do for her.

"I can promise you I won't give you up if they intend to execute you." Self defense was not a crime, not in his mind. "I can also keep you out of the clutches of other hunters."

It was a long way back to Alliria. He was sure that they could think of some sort of solution to this little problem together. There had to be some form of proof of what had happened. Witnesses or the like.

A frown touched his lips. "Running forever is not an option I would suggest. The councilor has more resources than most Kingdoms."

He would not rest till she was caught.
 
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Isla

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“What? So you’d give me up if it was a life prison sentence instead? Maybe if I was sold off to slavery? I don’t need your help.”

But she did.

“Perhaps running is a better option.”

It wasn’t. She knew it wasn’t. But she was scared. And tired. Wouldn't she be foolish to trust him like she’d trusted the very man she’d killed?

“Why should I trust you?”

She stood on that branch as if she was ready to climb back up in the tree.
 
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Myrdin

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Myr blinked, his face impassive. "I caught up to you."

He pointed out simply. It wasn't exactly the greatest argument to make, but he figured it was also the most logical thing he could have said.

"I didn't attack, I listened." A decision that had not really been an easy one. Most people, most hunters, would have done their best to capture her as soon as they saw her. The fact that he hadn't should've spoken to his character. "That should tell you something."

Honor of the word was something his people clung to tightly. "If you are truly innocent then you have nothing to fear from me. I would not see you jailed if you are truly innocent."

Though just how that would be established remained to be seen.
 
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Isla

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He had listened.

Her hand paused on the branch above.

Arm fell back to her side. "I'm not sure if killing someone in self-defense is innocent," she whispered. She'd wondered if he'd called at her as a ploy just to bring her down. But he hadn't gone for his bow. Hadn't shot her.

Teeth gnawed on the inside of her cheek. She was still confident, perhaps overly so, that she could take him out if she needed to. She was worried that the city would eat her alive though. She'd never liked cities.

"Okay," she called finally. "I'm coming down. But if you try to bind me you'll get another thing coming."

Like a punch in the nose.
 
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Myrdin

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"I will not bind you." Myr said confidently.

He had no intent on tying her up, nor did he really want to take her back to the city. If she was telling the truth then...well then they would have to figure out what the next step would be in actually proving that fact.

"I capture criminals." Myr explained as she clambered down. "Not people who defend themselves."

There was that Honor again. "If you come with me, I promise I will help you."

The words came as she finally hit the ground.
 
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Isla

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“Why. Why go out of your way to help me?”

She eyed him cautiously. She stopped and brushed a pile of leaves aside, revealing a small bag which she slung over one curved shoulder. She’d stashed it earlier, fully intending to double back.

Though she was tall, he was still taller than her. If he thought she would spook easily, he’d be reading her right.

“The others. Are they close?”
 
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Myrdin

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"Honor." He replied quickly, his face stern.

That may not have been reason enough for most, but for Myr it sat at the very core of him. His family, his father, had all rejected him, but that didn't mean he couldn't hold to the customs still. His word was law, that was it.

That was all he needed.

"A day behind." He told her. "Some further, but there are many of them, and not all are fools."

Unfortunately. "They wont stop just because you're with me."
 
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Isla

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“What if they thought you had captured me?”

Was there honor among hunters?

She wondered if she’d be able to act like a prisoner or if he pride would get in the way. She inched closer. Wherever she stepped, the ground she left seemed to flourish. New sprouts of grass budded up. A flower opened petals.

“I’m Isla,” she said quietly. Perhaps an introduction was a good place to start. Should she tell him about the other man’s greater plans? Hopefully she wouldn’t need to.
 
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Myrdin

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"Some will turn themselves away, but not all." Myr did not think that most would though. With the amount of money that had been offered for her head most of them would simply ignore the idea and just go for her anyway.

She was worth a kings ransom, more really.

"I will do my best to protect you." He said, frowning for a brief moment as he watched her steps bloom with flowers. "I promise you this."

He had been the one to convince her to come down. "You may call me Myr."

Not his true name, but close enough.
 
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