“These fields and especially the Unjaryk, are deadly at night; our loading site is just around the corner of the mountain, maybe 30 miles from the canyon mouth, what do you think, huntress?” The Mason stood in front of the bodies of the dead clansmen, the battlefield littered with charcoal bodies and primitive weapons.

“Where did these men come from? You say there are more?” Carmen looked onward to the canyon mouth, as the sun began to set, the trail of bodies stemming from the mouth, like they were but a trail of blood, leading to some great bleeding beast.

“I wouldn’t worry about these men, they look pretty dead.. But their stench is going to attract carrion hounds, among other things.. Even if we do not turn back and go for a load instead, it should be a very light haul..”

Carmen replied in anger “Who would just leave these bodies here to rot, attracting the wild to deal with them? Don’t they know, this is a hazard?”

Scratching his head, the Mason replied “Well huntress, they were a much graver threat alive.. They were the reason we couldn’t continue our work.” The Mason continued “The cult took care of them, however.”

“The cult?.. They left these bodies here?”

The Mason looked at her sideways “Jeez, the quartermaster wasn’t joking, you are fresh.” Whispers around the parked wagons erupted, Carmen watched a group of Masons behind the one she was speaking with, begin to cluster up and laugh, but the Mason ignored them and continued “You’ll learn about the cult and clans as you go along.. It would be dreadfully shameful for a hunter to be introduced to them, by a tradesman.. All you need to know, is that these clansmen were apart of a much, much larger force, who just weeks ago, assaulted Puzzle-Tyric.. Most of them died, the rest retreated into the canyon mouth.. Was a nasty fit of business, as they attacked without warning.. I’m sure you’ll hear more about the battle later, as most of the hunters initially responded and fought against the bulk of their force.”

“How long did they hole up in the cave for?”

The mason’s friend yelled back “The attack was about a month ago, bastards raided the trade strip, didn’t bother with any of our tools, either.. We were actually defending the strip before the hunters came.. The clansmen scaled the wall with ladders and rope, still unclear to us why, but the construction strip was the only strip, where they had ladders to breach the wall, curiously on both sides.. Most of their forces retreated on those same ladders, before the bulk of the fighting was over.”

“Thankfully all strips but the residential got hit..” The Mason in front of Carmen said, adding “The residential strip is massive, extending beyond any strip.. We would probably still be repairing homes if they attacked it.”

Carmen’s military experience screamed that there was some ulterior motive to this attack, but clearly, these men were not the ones for those questions. Thinking to herself momentarily, a howl rang across the field, then another, in the direction of the quarry..

“Two packs.. The two separate packs are coordinating into one large one, before approaching the battlefield.. What’s our plan huntress, they approach for their night feast..”

Looking towards the quarry, she said “If we go now, the hounds should leave us alone, it seems they are trying to group together, probably to address any threats before feasting.. They will not attack, unless they are all together.. Let us ride there carefully.”

Rallying up, the caravan blazed off towards the quarry. Along the way, the pack of carrion hounds retreated to the side of the caravan, clearly unwilling to run through it, as their paths converged. Riding towards two large, unlit torches, she entered her wagon between them, the Masons following close behind, approaching a large fire pit in the middle of the clearing. “Let’s get these fires up now, grab the oil for the torches!” A mason ordered the others, adding “Huntress, if you would be so kind!” tossing an axe to her.

The axe biting into the nearby tree, she made quick work of it, breaking the tree down into pieces, for life of the fire. Throwing 9 pieces into the pit, she left 3 pieces outside the fire, ready to continue its burn, if needed.. The night was very dark and the fire would be much needed, soon enough, as the moon began to rise. “Let’s get to work boys!” one of the mason’s yelled, handing Carmen a torch, along with the jug of oil “Please light the two torches up in front dark, they may attract unwanted attention..”

Nodding, Carmen walked around the site, soaking the torches in oil, before lighting them all, until the six torches lit up the clearing. Approaching the trees again, she chopped more wood, setting it near the fire pit, then began loading the oil and torch back into the wagon, hearing of the masons yell “FUCK!” very loud, holding his hand. From a distance, Carmen could see his hand dripping badly, the other mason’s yelling “Huntress, quickly, we’re leaving now, load everything up!, the hounds will certainly come for fresh blood!”

Heart racing, she knew the hounds were not even very far to begin with. The group, loading the tools and slings to load the stone, heard the howls. Carmen looked at the bleeding mason in the eyes, as she unhooked her horse from the carriage, grabbing her crossbow, “I’ll cover your wagon, lets go now” The shaking Mason agreed, hearing the howls even closer, now.


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