by Chip Dunning
There are times the hunter becomes the prey and woe to those who do not notice the change.
— Kithkin saying
A the brisk fall wind moved among the tall grasses, bringing with it the promise of a cold winter, Whitefang sat on his haunches and sharpened his javelin heads. As the sun slowly rose above the mountains he once again looked into the camp where his prey lay sleeping. The Turanian raiders had come down from the mountains and raided a Redclaw village to the east. Normally Whitefang would be glad to see the ‘claws knocked down a few pegs, but he owed a blood-favor to one of their scouts that had died during the raid.
For the hundredth time Whitefang looked into the camp and saw the skin of his friend hanging near the fire and for the hundredth time he vowed all of the turanians would pay with their lives for their barbarity. The raiders numbered twenty and kept at least 5 men on watch at all times. Whitefang wanted to move in and strike at night, but their many lanterns burned so bright he could not see what lay inside the camp. Now that he knew where everything was at it was time to strike.
Moving against the wind he slowly circled the camp keeping his eyes and ears trained to notice any sudden movement. The turanians were just beginning to rouse and prepare their breakfast when Whitefang judged himself close enough. Now he just needed to wait for the proper time. As the sun fully peak over the mountains now at his back it happened.
Six of the raiders were unrolling their prayer mats and facing into the sun to pray to their god. Whitefang cared little for such things, but this was the opportunity he had waited. As their header were bowed in supplication Whitefang charged them in a low crouch. When he let loose his warcry the men looked up, which exposed their necks. Whitefang’s slashed from side to side with deadly precision, leaving nothing but dying turanian and blood-stained earth behind him.
Now inside the camp he hurled his javelin at the man stiring the cookpot who died with the wooden shaft through his chest. He threw some of the smoke powder his shaman had given him into the fire and still on the run turned to the north where the horses were picketed. Again his war sword slashed and as thick acid smoke poured over the camp from the cookfire five of their ten horses thrashed as they died.
The Turanians fired a few arrows at the retreating form, but Whitefang knew the land and soon ran into a dry riverbed and disappeared from their view. He only took a moment to catch his breath before loping towards the east where the raiders would go to seek shelter, Whitefang planned to be there waiting for the hunt was far from over.
It was nearly dark before the raiders finally made it to the nearly destroyed outpost. Once a Turanian fort it was sacked and nearly burned to the ground by the Carthins years before Whitefang was even born. Now it served as a good shelter with a clean source of water just south of the Iron Road. Whitefang saw the raiders now numbered fourteen men, with two walking wounded. They still had ten horses into addition to the mules pulling three wagons — but that would be taken care of in time.
Whitefang slithered back towards his lookout while the weary men set up their camp in the center of the outpost. As the men drew buckets from the well Whitefang noticed they gave the wounded the first drinks in case it was poisoned. When the men didn’t collapse, the others drew out enough for them and their animals. The raiders were moving slowly, too slowly, but eventually the leader kicked them enough that six men took positions as lookouts on what remained of the walls.
As the others ate their dinner, Whitefang moved along the paths he had previously scouted towards the outer guards. As the men slowly fell asleep the only things still moving in the outpost was Whitefang and his victims. With ghostly speed he moved towards the first guard, covered his mouth and slit the man’s throat. When his body became too heavy to hold upright Whitefang jammed a roughcut stave up his jerkin and leaned him against the wall. It wouldn’t pass muster for a kithkin, but these humans wouldn’t smell the blood in time.
With four of the guards dead, Whitefang snuck up on the last two. The reason he left them alone so long was they had positioned themselves so that it was nearly impossible to take them quietly from behind. One had set snare wires to warn him of intruders while the other lodged himself between two falling walls. Looking over the situation he finally decided to take the the man with the snares, hoping the limited visibility offered to his companion would shield his actions.
Slowly and carefully Whitefang crept between the snare until he was nearly within striking range when his luck ran out. The man yawn and turned his head back into the camp. As their eyes locked the turanian opened his mouth to yell and Whitefang leaped forward with his knife outstretched. Before he could yell Whitefangs knife pierced his armor as the point thrust deep into his lungs. Overbalanced the two fell five feet to the base of the wall in a heap of legs and arms. Recovering his senses Whitefang quickly recovered and stabbed the turanian three more times the slit his throat for good measure.
He was preparing to move when an arrow pierced his leg, pinning him to the dead raider. Looking up he saw that the last guard had exited his hole during the fight and preparing a second arrow to end the kithkin’s life. Trusting his fate to his ancestors Whitefang hurled his knife, which struck the raider hilt-first just below the knee. While not even close to a death-blow, the force buckled the man’s knee and sent him crashing into the ground. Whitefang pulled himself free and threw himself in desperation at the raider before he could regain his senses. In a confusing battle between claw and knife it was Whitefang who came out the victor, although he had taken two deep blows into his side.
Listening for any signs the others had heard the battle, Whitefang used the men’s clothing to bind his wounds. When everything remained quiet, he slipped into camp to finish his night’s task. A bag filled with white powder was dumped into the well and the trough used by the horses. Although it was not poison it looked like poison and would make a make sick for several days. This would limit the amount of water the men could take for the rest of their journey. Into the feedbags he put hard pellets of poison-root and dustsnake venom. Once they were feed the horses would live for just a few hours before suddenly dropping dead.
As Whitefang left the camp that night he looked forward to hunting the remaining raiders. They would die in the plains on foot and running for their lives. He already determined that the leader would be the last to die — just as the first Turanian outpost could be seen. The spirit of his blood-brother would be avenged as the hunt will be good.
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