This is the thread for Khan, Hjalbir and Lycus' hunt in the Great Forest. If anyone want's to drop in, now would be the time.
Just when Hjalbir was consulting the map and their supposed quarry, there was suddenly an eerie silence from the volunteers and the Nord felt aggression exhuming from a presence to his side. He looked to the source and found the eyes of a hostile Khan.
What followed next was simply too confusing for Hjalbir. Not only did he threatened the Nord with violence, it seems he was berating him for 'not trusting' his judgement. This change of moods was so swift, so unbidden, that it took even Hjalbir offguard.
The Nord held his ground and simply stared at the Khajiit.
"Your judgement," the Nord rumbled, this time his voice truly cold, "is flawed. A child's whim at best, and it could get us killed."
He looked at the paw on the sword hilt.
"Are you truly a Tribune of the Legion? With this shameful display," here he looked Khan straight in the eye, "you seem to fit with the Stormcloaks instead. You call me out for pointing the obvious mistakes in your attire and choice of men, thinking in some that I'm undermining your authority, and for that, you'd iniate violence against me?"
The Giant shook his head at the Khajiit, utterly disappointed and disdainful.
"Lay down your arms, Khajiit. This wuld only waste time when we could spend it carefully planning instead."
Khan stood his ground. "You're a Nord, correct? Well, I challenge you to a duel, just like your precious Ulfric Stormcloak!" Khan pulled his greatsword from its frog and drew a line in the dirt between him and Hjalbir. "Now, he said, in the same voice he had use with Lycus, will you let me explain, or will you let my blade do the talking?" The last part of the sentence was punctuated by a soft snarl.
It seemed to Hjalbir that Khan truly wished violence. Or for him to listen to the Khajiit's explanation. The Nord didn't comprehend what waqs broilling inside Khan. but he figured he couldn't be too careful.
He took a step close, but not too close to the line, to neutralize the reach advantage of the greatsword. He had his body tense, ready to avoid any pre-emptive strike that might explode.
The volunteers shuffled awkwardly on their feet or just stared at the spectacle before them.
Khan planted the sword in the ground at his feet and smiled grimly. "Very good. Now, as I was going to say, I am trained in the Discipline of Heavy Armor, and I do not carry several sets with me to mix and match at my whimsy. That is the reality. As for these men," he gestured vaguely to the volunteers. "Not all of them are fit, and that's what I was about to sort out. "Mages, Nords, sober up or ship out. Redguards, strap on some furs of hides, otherwise shove off. I know you said you have some up in your room, yes? Good. Orc, that hammer better shoot arrows or be on a twenty-foot pole. Bosmeri, you're good. Priest, make sure you bring along potions and bandages, as well as some splints. You never know. Now, levies, be careful out there, don't shoot your friend, or you acquaintance for that matter, and if you don't have the kill, don't go in." He turned to Hjalbir. "Better?"
HJalbir held his face with one hand. He held his growing annoyance in check. In truth, he would've left a long time and abandoned this nonsense for any other fool, but he can't deny that he would need the rewards this 'hunt' offered. What happened right now was ... well, it was a step in the right direction at least.
"Khan," he said after a moment. "Why don't you just trade some of the unnecessary equipment you got from your shipment? I see no reason why you can't."
He then looked at Lycus. It was clear he would want no part of this hunt anymore. Hjalbir returned his eyes to Khan.
Khan stood there for several moments, reading Hjalbir's face. Well, at least he hasn't outright left. It's Lycus I've got to worry about. I've seen his type in the Legion. Want to kill someone, anyone, it doesn't matter. I'll have to watch that one.
"You know what? I have an idea. Since you take issue with this, I want your guidance. What will have to happen to make this work? I don't want the festival day soured with such petty squabbling. This goes for you as well, Lycus, anything you ask, I will take into consideration. Think on it for a few minutes, and come meet me at the smithy. I'm going to sell the excess gear."
Khan, with the help of one of the levies, began carrying the chest over towards the smith's workshop.
After Khan had his emotional breakdown and the Nord sellsword by having a show of display with his sword and his over-commandeering grandeur, the former decided to agree with the Nord and sell the excess gear that would weigh them down. Why he had so much weapons was beyond him.
Khan decided to keep some of the other volunteers and explained he was open to suggestion from Lycus or Hjalbir. With that he parted for the smithy with a crate.
Lycus's jaw tensed as his teeth slowly grinded each other. He was in thought now. Was all this drama just so that the tribune could show away his statue and reach the notion that he was the leader? If so, then small wonder the empire was crumbling. With footsoldiers under the command of men like Khan, there wasn't telling how bad things would go.
Soon after Khan left, one of the mages who Lycus already had issues with put on a grand smug grin on his face that seemed as if it were stretching to great proportions. He looked at his companion and smiled. "We're not off the hunt yet. Better sober up, otherwise we'll burn the forest down."
There was something in his tone that dripped with sarcasm and when he passed by Lycus, the imperial grabbed the man's collar and held it, bring him closer so he can whisper. "If any of those damn magic blasts come near me I'll have you strangled by your own entrails."
The spellcaster, still undoubtedly drunk, only managed a girlish "Oooh!"
The Imperial brushed past him, still feeling bitter and dissapointed about the entire trip. It would be much better, far much better if he or at least Hjalbir was in command. He wouldn't be surprised if Khan led them into an ambush.
Lycus couldn't trust this man with his life but he did put things into consideration. Such as getting rid of the mages and everyone else entirely. He looked at the large Nord and shook his head.
"A child, that one," he said. "Next thing you'll see is the Legion putting little girls in the front lines."
Khan had decided on his apparel. He wore a fur kilt, a leather cross-strap with a steel boss, a green half-cloak, and hide boots and bracers. He had elected to keep the helmet, as it would've make that much noise and he also rather liked the way it looked. He also remove the armor from his horse, and decided his sword would be enough, even if there were ogres...he had killed giants, after all.
He was considering whether to take the horse at all when the two mages walked up to him. "Er, Mr. Khan, Sir, we're ready." They both smiled like the idiots they were. Khan grinned, almost a snarl. "Right then. Hit that weather vane on top of the inn." "Erm, what?" "Prove you can be trusted. Shoot an icicle at that weather vane." "Um..haha! That's, um, easy." Both would-be wizards charged the requisite spells, and loosed. "Well, not only did you miss the weather vane, you managed to miss the roof of the inn completely. You're out." "Oi, we had a deal! This is discrimination, this is! Hey, get back here, cat!" Khan froze, then walked back to the mages, and with one swift motion swept their feet out from under them. "Don't. Call me. Cat." He was about to leave when the Nords approached him. "We're good." "Prove it, then." Without prompting, all the warriors promptly performed a perfect handstand. Khan smiled. "Well, at lest someone's with the program. How did you get over it so fast, I must ask? Mm-hmm. Horker WHAT?! Oh, so the fat counteracts the...oh, I see. Your grandmother's recipe? Very nice, I'll have to try that next time the wife buys a new dress." With than, Khan made his way back to the hunting party, walking slowly and whistling an old song.
Hjalbir seated himself at his borrowed stool, watching the festivities around him with no interest whatsoever. He was like the mountains of his homeland; grand and majestic, burning cold in aloofess, and supremely glacial in his sheer indifference. His star-metal eyes had the iron glint.
He turned to Lycus.
"The Legion's standards had fallen low, obviously," Hjalbir rumbled, his voice cold and ruthless like a Skyrimese avalanche.
"Gone were the days where every nation quaked from the marching steps of the Empire's red warriors. Now... no use ruminating upon this matter, Lycus. Are you still along for this hunt or will you strike off on your own?"
Lycus returned the look to Hjalbir, running his hand over his beard. He spotted Khan a few feet away walking ever so slowly and whistling jolly tune, dressed in much lighter clothing.
So, he has learned something afterall.
"Temptation has me willing to go off on my own with another capable hunter," he says. "But I might consider otherwise."
It was obvious now that the two mages would not be going. That was good. He'd rather not have those bumbling spellcasters burn the entire forest down in search for a panicking deer.
The others, however, would be going along. Lycus angled his spear tip just above his shoulder as he stood up, craning his neck back and forth to loosen the muscles. He would need all the comfort his body could offer, for he wanted to be as agile and efficient as possible. With that thought, he looked at the unarmored horse.
Khan wanted to ride to the hunt, Lycus realized.
That is something he could not do. He hadn't rode a horse since he last arrived, and the last horse was under the command of a bosmer who found a manner to tame the beast lest it sensed the true nature hidden beneath Lycus' muscled flesh. He'd rather walk than try to ride a horse. And quite frankly he was doubting to even join Khan in the hunt.
But the fruits of the trip outweight the company. He would do it for the sport, and for the food.
As soon as Khan got closer, Lycus looked over at Hjalbir and back into the forested area.
I'll oblige. Just this once.
Khan stopped whistling and sat cross-legged on th ground. "Right then lads. What've you got on your minds? Me, I think we should skip fish and fowl entirely, but that's up to you."
Lycus didn’t wait for a reply. He got his spear ready, and his other weapons, and walked off into the wilderness.
Away from the inn, the road gave way to the tall forests that clothed the land; trees of pine, fir, spruce and oak. Soon it would give way to blue rivers filled with fish. The lowland yielded many other animals. It was swarming with the dark antlered deer surely grazing on the grass at this fine hour.
Lycus marched over the road and into the green forest, away from the sight of those participating in the festival.
Skip fish and foul, he says.
The savage-looking man stopped beside a large tree and crouched down and picked up a handful of dirt. He sniffed it, licked part of it and then let the remains crumble to the ground once more.
The wind blew, rustling his long hair about. The sights, sounds, and smells had almost overwhelmed his senses when he concentrated. His instincts were driven by a deep visceral knowledge that prey was just about everywhere. The terrain was fine. The weather was perfect. The hour was great and the odds were not against him.
There were only two things that would work in his disfavor.
One he could find a way to deal with. The other however . . .
The wind that blew would carry his smell to the nostrils of game, and they would be long gone before he could even reach them. True, he could try and brave that possible situation by using his speed to pursue his prey. But with the Nord and the tribune, he wouldn’t raise the possibility.
The only thing he could do is mask his scent, which is precisely what he did. The average deer could smell a hundred times more than a normal man, and Lycus was no ordinary man.
He plucked a vial from his pocket, and opened the tip and poured all of the contents into his hand. He began spreading it throughout his body; his face, under his arms, his chest, his legs, his groin and his feet. The oils neutralized the scent, or at least minimized the chances of him being discovered.
The Imperial hunter pulled ferns, leaves, shrubs and dirt and rubbed it all over his body, creating a new smell that would stick to his body in the duration of the hunt. Better to smell like the native land rather than an invasive predator.
A true hunter relied not only on speed no strength, but guile as well.
The wind that blew to him carried something; the smell of prey. It told him they were in the opposite direction of the wind’s course, and thus they wouldn’t be able to smell him. The other hunters, however, might still risk being detected.
Evening came and night soon to follow. He was sure he would be camping outside in the wilderness. The other hunters were fortunate it wasn’t a full moon otherwise they’d join the ranks of the deer and boar.
The Imperial stepped further into the forest, expecting the other hunters to be following him. He took a path to a nearby stream where a small waterfall poured fresh water into a large pool.
There was fish there.
There's a herd of deer three miles from their location to the south. But Lycus didn't tell the hunters that he smelled them. Instead, he said in a whisper not to spook the fish: "There might be deer to the south. They tend to graze around that area this season."
Khan smiled at Lycus' swift departure. "A strange beast, that one. Well, it seems that by gruff wildman decree, the planning phase is over, so I imagine we should get on the road, so to speak." He began walking alongside Hjalbir, occasionally making small remarks.
After an hour or so, they stopped. Lycus then informed them that he thought there may be deer nearby. Khan's nose soon confirmed this. He had spent nearly all of his early life scenting the beast of the Jeralls. What worried him, though, was that he could also smell the faint musk of a mountain lion in heat. "You have either very good smell or very good intuition, Lycus Dessilius. How shall we approach them, then?" Khan breathed the late summer air. It spoke to him of wheat fields golden, sunsets of orange and pink, and of Frostfall ale soon to be had. His spirit reveled in it. It was a glorious night, and Khan's blood nearly boiled with anticipation at the chase that was soon to be had.
When Lycus left with the haste of an alpha wolf, and Khan followed after him, Hjalbir took his two bows, readied his quievers and quaked after them. Living with an infamous company of wanted mercenaries for a time, he was used to sudden bouts of rushing off to one or another. He kept pace with the two, and soon they were in a stream leading towards a body of water fed by a fall.
It was night when they got there. The other hunters, wheezing, had to rest their bodies from the gruelling pace, and a little more louder and they could've broke the sacred silence of the night.
With the stars on the sky, Hjalbir was at his element. His eyes, glittering like flecks of chipped silver in daylight, glowed like two silver balls of blue and white iron in the night, and this was the period of time when his sight was at its strongest.
He climbed a nearby tree with surprising agility for a man of his size and scouted the hunting grounds beyond.
Lycus' almost supernatural intuition and Khan's sharp nose picked the scent of the deer, and Hjlabir's unnatural starsight all but confirmed it.
"A large group, indeed," the Ginat whispered. "We will come home with a feast that would last for weeks, at the least. The only problem I see is carrying those carcasses-,"
Hjalbir suddenly went quiet and his eyes snapped into pure concentration. His eyes saw a glint of golden metal, and a pale roundabout shape that could only be a face.
When Hjalbit preened further for confirmation, that vision was gone.
Hjalbir rubbed his eyes and looked down at his fellow hunters. It could've been a trick of the eyes, after all.
"Best be careful, nonetheless. Anything can happen at anytime."
Lycus agreed with Hjalbir's warning. Anything could happen. They could come across ogre territory or face an ambush of minatours or worse. He was ready for just about everything.
The Imperial hunted pulled the fish from the spear's tip and turned to Hjalbir. "Aye, there is no way to carry the game without a carriage." He turned to the other hunters. "If any man who is tired already I say go back to the Goblet before we go any further. There are carriages for rent for a cheap price."
"But," one of the hunters said, "we'll miss the hunt."
Lycus shrugged. "If you hurry, you might make it back in time with the horses doing all the walking for you."
Turning to Khan, Lycus scratched his black beard. "We'll set the hounds on them. Flush them out of the field."
He gestured toward the group of hunters by his side. "The deer will run into a single direction. Me and Hjalbir will remain in the forest just in their path of escape."
"You can chase them toward us," Lycus told Khan. "The archers in the tree can pick off the rest."
It wasn't his wisest of hunting decisions, he had better. But the number of deer were more than enough. He just hoped these men would be light-footed in their approach.
Khan nodded. He pulled Bran beside him, and began stalking in the long grasses, until he had arrived downwind, at the herd's flank. He moved on all fours, silent as midnight. When he was satisfied in his position, he released Bran, and charged them himself. He tried to create as much confusion as possible, whooping and shouting, running parallel to Bran, leading the herd toward the others. He skidded to a halt, spent for the moment. the deer bounding down over the stream, into the woodland. He hoped the others were ready.
Hjalbiur had to instruct the less-adroit archers on how to properly scale their respective trees. The Bosmer archer pointed out some additional tips, all the while looking at the Giant with a mixture of curiousity and slight awe. Teaching them how to perform archery on the branches of a tree, however, was different matter altogether, for that was the province of the Wood Elves, and the one they had now was hardpressed on teaching this lot.
In the end they got the gist of it, more or less, and once the deer sprangled up into view, the volley of arrows they loosed were... more or less adequate. Hjlabir himself got a deer in the throat. The first volley cleared a third of the fleeing prey; the second one netted them several more. The third, miraculously, gave them half of the deer before they fled from their grasp.
Hjalbir jumped down and the earth rumbled a bit from the impact.
"Knives out," he bellowed to the hunters as he approached the carcasses.
Khan had come over to the slain deer, surveying the carcasses. The men weren't trained, to be sure, but they had given a good account of themselves. Picking out a young buck, he raised his voice. "Does any man lay claim to this?" When nobody answered, he began skinning the animal. It had been awhile, and his knife skills were not what they used to be.
It took awhile, but he eventually skinned it from head to hoof. He deposited that in a leather bag on Bran's back, and cut several steaks and a haunch, which he hung from his belt with some fishing hooks one of the men lent him. He dusted his hands, then went to the stream, washing the gore from under his finger nails and his torso. He cut the antlers off, and tucked them in the bag as well. Shame he could not take the head. Well, he hadn't killed it, so he figured he and the universe were even.
He stood, and put his helmet back on. "Well, I suppose ogres are the next order of business, then?"
The Nord looked up from skinning the deer he killed and spied the form of Khan and Bran. He resumed his work, cutting out meats, antlers and organs and storing them, then depositing the unneeded meat inside the skin. He wrapped the skin around the unnecessary innards, shaping it like a ball and grimly smiled; it could be used as bait for particularly hungry prey or predators, and considering that they were up against ogres and minotaurs, Hjalbir reckoned it could be used as distractions.
Thus, he was like that for a while, going from carcass to carcass, demanding unneeded skins and meats for ammunition from the hunters. Some of the men protested, but eventually acquiesed to the Giant.
He then turned to Khan.
"Aye. As long as we're coordinated like earlier, we shan't have too much problems with those beasts. Lead the way, Tribune."
Khan nodded, wordless. He led the party through a thorny thicket of low trees, stopping one hundred yards from a crude wooden fort surrounded by gnarled, archaic pines on a low hill in the sandy soil. He gestured to the Bosmer, indicating the trees and that they should climb them, so as to gain a count of the monsters. They returned after fifteen or so minutes. They reported a threcount, as well as five savage-looking wild boar; "Wiv tusks big as yer ahm." The Wood Elves said they might also have seen a man tied up by the fire, but they could not be sure. They drew in the dirt a rough layout of the camp, showing sleeping mats in the back, the fire at the center, and the boar pens near the boulder that served as the gate to the camp.
Khan surveyed this all with a practiced eye, squatting over the crude drawing. "I reckon those hogs are for defense, we should have the spearmen form up and march first...then the swordsmen, and I suppose the archers. I think that ought to work. Then you and I will lead into the camp, and make it our mission to take care of these most distasteful of creatures. Sound good?"
Hjalbir mulled the plan over, fist under chin, star-metal eyes glittering in thought. His days in the Stormcloak Rebellion had him face all sorts of military opposition from the Imperial Legions ranging from the tough and stable Legionary to their brawny cavalry. The latter was quite a nightmare for the Rebels. The horses of the North were much more muscled and powerful compared to the other provinces' ponies, and their strides were too fast for a rain of arrows to be effective. They had to rely on the biggest and strongest Nords to hold the pikewall, resist them, then keep them in place long enough for the infantry at the back to rush and subdue the riders.
Exactly what Khan suggested. He knows his tactics well, Hjalbir mused.
But there was a difference between cavalry and boars.
One crucial element was the fact that the wild boars were exactly that; wild, mindless beasts without a care for strategy. They can't spread out when aimed at with bows, like cavalry are wont to do, and this, Hjalbir thought, would be an effective tool to use against the beasts.
Hell, even his meatbaits would come in handy fpr the plan he would suggest.
"We could change the formation for spearmen at front, archers behind them and the swordsmen at the rear flank. That way, the archers could pelt those beasts while they're charging, and if the boars get too close, they could always switch positions with the swordsmen."
He grabbed some of his meatbait; those round balls of unneeded skin and unneeded meats, and held it for all to see.
"These could be used as distractions or bait."
He looked at Khan, awaiting his next move.
Khan moved into position like a lion hunting for his prey, stalking the grass along with his canine pet. He remained in place until the game was close enough so that he could launch an attack.
That he did, and with ease. He charged first and his hound ran second, spooking the quarry into the direction of the other hunters that waited patiently. The deer bounded over the stream and into the forest.
All hopes of escape were utterly crushed when the archers loosed their arrows upon the unsuspecting prey. Nets were thrown in too, trapping them into a helpless state like a spider’s web.
Lycus remained hidden behind a log that shielded him from the sight of his food. He lay there, breathing steadily and waiting until the right prey came in his direction. He could hear the pounding of its hooves, the frantic beating of its heart and the fear-induced squealing it made.
The Imperial brought himself and his spear up just as the deer ran by. He threw the weapon like a javelin and watched as it made its mark. Any normal man would’ve hit the deer, and the beast might have made a few feet away and ran into the forest, dropping a trail of blood.
This one though . . . this one was hit with such a forceful impact that it fell to the dirt and offered not so much as a final cry. It already died.
Lycus’ eyes brightened with satisfaction at the dead buck. One of the larger males, undoubtedly. The other was killed by Khan.
He wasted no time in waiting. He rushed to his prey and fell upon it, as the other men around him all claimed their kills. He pulled out his knife and began skinning the animal, taking out the heart and the other edible flesh from within its body. The rest were left for the wolves.
The rest of the hour was of the eager tribune leading the men deeper into the forest to where the ogres were said to have been. Lycus had to admit he knew well how to use the bosmer scouts to look out for any trouble that may pose a problem.
They returned with somewhat bitter news and as expected Khan went over a plan. His idea to send in the spearmen and then the sword-wielders and the archers was simple and effective. Lycus had to nod at this.
He was no military leader but he knew the plan was an efficient one. His time as a slave gave him enough insight on how to plan attacks. True, most of his later days were of leading marauding men into heavily-guarded manors and Dunmer estates to pillage and murder.
Typically coming in and subtle worked well. Slit the throats of the men, dispatch the rest with arrows and invade the premises.
Now, the animals were something different. They can smell danger. But these boars were dumb brutes and easy to kill, providing they weren’t allowed to get too close.
Hjalbir added his own thoughts and decided to switch the positions of archers and swordsmen, another well-thought plan. Lycus kept silent throughout the conversation.
"Right then." Hjalbir's plan showed presence of mind, as well as experience. He wondered whether he had occupied a command position in any of his mercenary groups or the Stormcloaks.
"Let's get the men ready. Spears, form up! Hold that line until you stop breathing, you hear? Archers, you get behind them." The bows were homemade ans small. The closer they were to the boar, the more force could be put into puncturing that thick hide. "Swords, behind the archers. Be ready to swap places if necessary." Khan took the two meat-baits from Hjalbir, and threw them at the ground roughly twenty yards ahead of the spearmen.
The party heard hoarse squealing from the camp not five minutes later. One of the ogres, sensing his animals were hungry, shoved the bolder aside and set the animals out. They came, all five of the massive hogs, running fast. Not too fast, however. It was the heavy-footed trot of a brute. Even bears were more agile. Khan wondered if this was due to inbreeding, or simply all-about stupidity. The spearmen moved about nervously. Khan took his place in the back.
He gripped the hilt of his claymore. It was a fine weapon, Skyforge make. Eorlund had alloyed steel and silver, so it glowed with a pure white flash. The hilt was red oak, and the scabbard Colovian leather with silver fittings. Unlike most two-handed users, he preferred the traditional straight crossguard to the angled. It gave him more protection, and honestly, he wasn't going to do any fancy fencing moves with it. As the first boar hit the lines, Khan gave a roar of approval at the spearmen's rebuttal. This was going to be fun.
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