Xenvia pulls her hat down a little tighter over here eyes. It's been an exceptionally bright and sunny day today.
She checks her supply of wolf 'snacks' and decides she has enough for another 15 minutes or so of training. The peculiar wolf so far was proving to be quite intelligent. He was quickly picking up the Drow Sign Language signals she had been using to get him to follow commands. If truth be told, he was picking them up faster than she had when her father was teaching her all those years ago. She hadn't need of them recently, but in teaching them to the wolf she was quickly remembering the language.
Yesterday they had spent time in the town square working on what she liked to call silly pet tricks. Things like speak, hide and play dead. While some might not think these are useful in a hunting companion, Xenvia could see their merit. Plus, it would help make the large beast seem a bit more friendly to the townfolk.
The children seemed to have no fear of the wolf, many asked to pet him, but Xenvia advised against it, as he was still a wild animal. Women, the wolf would eye closely, but seemed to largely ignore. Men, however, he did not like them approaching Xenvia.
Today she was training with him in the garrison, using the target dummies for attack practice. Several of the watchmen tried to approach over the past few hours to chat or inquire about the wolf, yet none could get within a several feet before the sounds of growling would echo the courtyard.
Because of this reaction, and her location inside the garrison walls, Xenvia let down her ever watchful guard. To focus on the wolf. So focused on her task, she didn't hear the footsteps approach, or the low cough, until it sounded a second time.
As she whirled around, behind her stood a large Shoanti man. He was heavily scarred, and frowning deeply at her.
“Oh.. Hello.” Xenvia nodded at the man, quickly recovering her shock at being snuck up on.
“You have a wolf.” He said, his frown seemingly deepening.
“Yes. He is. I have not named him, yet. He has not liked any of the ones I have suggested so far.”
“You seek to tame the wild wolf like a common pet?” His disdain while speaking the sentence quite noticeable.
“You mistake me, sir. I did not capture or coerce him into being my companion. He chose me. He is free to go or come whenever he pleases. I am training him not to obey, but to merely communicate my wishes.” The man stood there thinking over the sentence for a few before he finally spoke again. “I am sorry. You acknowledge the wild and wish it to remain free. I misjudged.”
Xenvia smiled at him, and gave a nod to show she accepted his apology. “I have seen you before, but I am not recalling where.”
“I am Vachedi. I am the garrison’s jailor.”
“Ah yes, now I remember. You were on duty the night we brought Tsuto in.”
“Yes. And it is something about his trial that had me wanting to ask you a question.”
Xenvia straightened a little. Quickly running through the events of the trial in her mind, wondering what his question may be.
“I was unable to attend, I was on duty that morning. But I heared from some of the guards you are from Kaer Maga?”
Xenvia inwardly groaned, she hoped this was not yet ANOTHER question about Trolls…
“The slavers, is there any that oppose them? Or does the town freely condone such a thing?”
Something in the man’s eyes gives away a long deep hurt. She suspected someone he loved is or was a slave.
“While It is a commerce like any other. Like the necromancers, many may merely look the other way. The town as a whole does not condone nor condemn. But there are factions both for and against. I assume you are looking for someone who is against them, are you not?”
“Yes,” he sighs heavily, suddenly looking older in years. “My sons. I have been working in town to raise money to purchase them back. For so long it seems.”
Xenvia nods understandingly. “There is a man, Halman Wright. He leads the Freemen. When I first went to the city to live, they were openly raiding the slavers. The last several years however, they have switched tactics, as a group. While many still raid the slavers from time to time, they do not do it under the banner of the Freemen. They are trying to avoid an all out war between them. Both sides are unsure who would win. Neither yet is willing to risk a full clan war.”
She quickly continues seeing hope beginning to fade from his face, “They are however actively working to buy the slaves freedom. Much as you are doing alone. They will likely help, and if you are offering to pay even a portion of the cost, I am sure they will.”
“However, I would not send letter to them directly. There are spies everywhere. I will advise you to send any correspondence through my father. He is a Duskwarden. And no one messes with their mail.” She pulls a small sheet of paper out of her belt pack and writes down her father’s name for him.”
The man smiles for seemingly the first time today. “Thank you. You truly are one of the Heroes of Sandpoint. You have given an old man hope. May your spirit guide you. And I am sure you will find the name for your mighty hunter wolf when the time is right.” He bids farewell and wanders off back towards the bunkhouse.
Xenvia smiles down at the wolf. “Oh get that grin off your face. Mr Mighty Hunter. We have 10 more minutes of practice. Then dinner time.” The wolf gives a small yip and charges the practice dummy. As he jumps for the arm, it gives way. He trots back over to Xenvia carrying his prize.
As dawn is beginning to break, Xenvia is walking back into town after some night hunting with her wolf. She is carrying a couple rabbits and a fox, while the wolf happily trots down the road carrying a young boar.
She enters the Rusty Dragon to find Ameiko already up and beginning to get breakfast ready before her customers awaken. Xenvia hands off the rabbits to her. “I would give you the boar too, but he seems mighty attached to it. He’s been carrying that thing all the way back and refused to let it go. “
Ameiko laughs. “You already get a room for free, you don’t need to bribe me to lower the rates!”
Xenvia laughs in return, “I have not been out night hunting in a while, I missed it. Besides, it is good for me and the wolf to hunt together. We are learning each other’s methods.”
“Understandably. You come up with a name yet?”
“No, he has rejected everything I have thought of so far. I am beginning to think his name will just be ‘Wolf’.” They hear a snort of air come from besides the counter. “Or maybe not, see, he’s right choosey that one.”
Ameiko laughs again, “Well good luck to ya. These here rabbits will be ready by dinner.”
Xenvia heads on back out with her fox to take to the tanner while the wolf trots happily with his prize besides her.
Later while catching a quick nap before dinner, Xenvia dreams. She is remembering one of her first caravans she escorted from Magnimar to Janderhoff. It was an odd mix, a theatre troop. But that night one of the bards told some wonderful stories.
He told a tail of a great hunter from a far far distant land. A very large man. It was said the man could hunt and kill any animal. And some would say he was the Greatest hunter ever, in the Heavens or the Land. But this upset one of the Gods. For she was Godess of the Hunt. No one was to be greater a hunter than she. So she send a scorpion, one so small and unnoticed, and it killed the mighty hunter.
But he was favored by one of the other Gods. And on his death they forever immortalized him in the night sky. His name was Orion.
Xenvia awakens just before dinner and dresses quickly in her gear. She looks down at the sleeping wolf cradling the largest bone from his boar that morning.
“Time to wake up sleepy.” As the wolf lifts his head and yawns. “All that pig made you tired didn’t it. Well you can stay up here if you like. I’m heading down for stew from my rabbits."
The wolf tilts his head, as if he’s thinking it over, before he stands and stretches.
“Coming with it is.” She opens the door to let him out. Shutting the door behind her, she casually asks the wolf, “What about Orion?”
The wolf looks up at her and she swears he’s grinning.