Riding to the entrance of the quarry, torch in hand, Carmen lit the 2 unlit torches.. It had been hours since they had heard the hounds last and figured they had found another scent to explore, but had her crossbow hanging off the saddle, along with her iron mace, just in case she needed them.. Her crossbow’s frame had been under pressure, it’s draw pulled back for hours now, it’s large projectile knocked into the slits it fitted into; she had normal bolts to use as well, but preferred to craft larger, custom bolts that held a wider frame, more mass and a larger barb at the end, in comparison to the traditional bolt. She loved her crossbow, one she had crafted for her by her companies smith during her time in the military. Standing vigil at the entrance, mounted, holding her torch as the two torches on either side of her burned brightly, there was definitely no sign or sound of the hounds now. Suddenly, she began hearing the faint, unmistakable sound of Puzzle-Tyric’s bells, ringing once again; the bells had been ringing on and off for about an hour, but she wasn’t concerning herself with the commotion now, she was guarding the Mason’s, as she had intended to do.

Riding towards the Mason’s again, they were all sitting in the two loaded wagons, with the third, unhitched and unloaded, ready to be abandoned. “Well, huntress?” One of the Mason’s asked, the others remaining silent.

“No sign of the hounds, but Tyric’s bells are ringing again..” Her eyes darted back towards the entrance’s torches, before back to the wagons “Hows the hand? Is it wrapped yet?”

“Aye, but he’ll likely need.. Well, no, he will need a healer to battle the infection.. We did wrap it, with a dirty pick wrap.. We use them to cover the handles, avoid blisters.. It is not clean, but we had little choice in the moment.”

“Great.. Well, good for now anyways; so are we staying or going? Your all loaded already.. Plans?” Carmen was fidgety, anxious.. She wanted to return to her uncle’s house, after visiting the hunters hall.

“We were thinking.. Block the entrance with wagons, while we work and you take Jud back to Tyric.”

“Your kidding.. Those hounds are still out there!” Carmen gripped her reigns tighter, unsure of how she felt about this decision, other than angry.. They expected her to just leave them?

Jud hopped off the wagon, his small frame only meeting Carmen’s breasts when she was at ground level; mounted, his shiny red nose now looked up at her, his brown trade uniform stretching down to the ground, it’s hood obscuring what hair the dwarf had left, his sturdy tool belt turning the long robe into a practical skirt. She realized, they were not telling her their plan, they were simply asking her what they thought of it, looking to her to make a decision. She rode her mount up and backed it into the wagon’s hitch, harnessing her mount and securing the hitches hooks to the saddle, before dismounting. Approaching the group again, she suggested “Maybe next time, rip part of your robe and use it as a bandage, it’ll probably be cleaner than a handle grip.”

“Huntress, how dare you! What would your commander say to the idea of ripping your robe!”

Carmen glanced down at her black robe, her red hair hanging out of her black hood, down past her breasts, which pressed out against her thick robe, but only slightly; the robe was thick enough to avoid most knicks and knacks. “These robes aren’t mine, they are my Uncles old ones.. He wears white now” adding, “I haven’t even spoken to the commander at the hunter’s hall here yet either, I just came from Puzzle-Tor.. They won’t even let you into the hunter’s hall without a shield, so first, I had to commission myself one at Lumber Arm, thus meeting you all.”

“Huntress, we don’t need yer life story!” Jud said, as the rest of the group laughed.

Carmen dropped her head down as the laughter berated her, then raised it, saying “Alright, alright.. Lets get these wagons into place.”

With the first wagon in place, she unhooked the horse, leaving it on the outside entrance that the first wagon blocked, as a mason came up with the second, once it was unloaded. Waiting for the third wagon, the Mason that brought up the second, said in a hushed voice “Huntress.. These robes, they are our pride and joy.. They are a mark of our role.. Many men have lived and died in theirs, we only hope to do the same.. Your Uncle, he is a good man to gift you that robe, it is infused with a hunter’s very life force, the very same life force the robe protected for his time wearing it.. You are very lucky.”

Tapping on her metal shoulder guards, sown into the robes fabric, underneath, she felt a sense of pride, one that she had felt before, but a while ago now. Discharged, her dismissal from the military was heart breaking, but this was her chance at a sense of redemption.. Redefinition of her role, to leave with everything she had learned and put it all into better use. “Thanks.” she replied coldly, reminded of her successes and failures, of her path.

“About time!” The Mason said, as Jud rode up with the last wagon, unhooking the horse and letting the Mason ride it back to the other end of the quarry, saying “Good luck. Be quick!, Oh and Jud, make sure to let the commander know what we’re up to, even though he may not like it.. Ha!” The Mason laughed, as he rode off into the remaining shadows that the torches surrounding the camp did not kill.

Jud took the reigns of the horse, while Carmen sat on the back, towering over the small man, crossbow in hand. She removed the bolts strapped to her leg, replacing them with the custom bolts she had mounted on the saddle and placing the regular bolts on her back, to easily access them if need be. Jud felt her presence, domineering, as he looked behind, above him, the huntress aiming down her sights, clearly trying to get a feel for the ride, asking “You ever shoot that thing while mounted?”

“The custom frame and bolts were made especially for mounted combat, designed to kill a Fangfright in one shot or penetrate heavy armor.. So yes, I have.”

Jud was impressed “Alright, I guess I’ll just focus on getting us there, then.”

Carmen laughed “Ha, you just focus on keeping that hand wrapped.. Other wise, we might get some company looking for an easy meal.”

Jud replied, coldly, devoid of laughter “If there are any deaths today, they will be of the robe and thus, glorious.”

Carmen was fascinated by the Mason’s pride.. One that had never embraced combat, yet was unafraid of death.. The Mason’s pride made her feel an intense sense of pride in her own robe, one that separated it from the simple garb she had taken it for, earlier today.


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