Trophy Wife – Chapter 3: Orc Gone Hunting

Sharn stalked through the forest nearly silent, creeping through the brush and moving closer to the field where she had spotted the many deer. She paused and lifted, slowly pulling back the string on the bow. A near silent thump, followed almost immediately by another felled two deer before the rest took flight, racing away. She rumbled under her breath and moved quickly to skin and prep the deer for travel, adding it to her already full pack of winter stock meat.

She paused when she heard a low rumbling growl coming not far from her, she raised the bow but the massive ursine was too close, dropping the bag she swung her blade free. Swiping upward and spinning, the claws raked down one side of her, leaving bleeding furrows behind. She snarled in rage and spun into battle, thrusting up and into the chest of the bear, forcing it back before rolling away, the heavy greatsword embedded in its chest. She hissed in pain as it slumped, feebly swiping towards her. She avoided the claws and the snapping jaws to fling herself bodily on the back of the massive beast and used her dagger to slit its throat, ending its life quickly, albeit not as painlessly as she would have preferred. She rolled to her feet and huffed as she looked around.

Sharn froze at the faint mewl coming from the underbrush and a small bundle of fur ran from the bushes for the body of the beast she had just killed. She froze as it butted it’s head against the fallen body again and again, before bowing her head slightly. “Och, li’l one. Sharn be sorry.” She stepped forward and carefully offered the small creature a bit of the offal from the killed deer. After it ate a bit it trundled over and sat on her shoe, softly whining. “Well, I can’t be leaving ye here to die, and I’m not so cruel as ta kill ye outright. Mebbe Herodius would know what to do with ye,” she rumbled before pushing the cub away and beginning to skin and take care of the bear.

She patched her wound, then quickly built a travois to drag the bulk of the meat and furs behind her, the claws and teeth going in a pouch on her belt. “Alright li’l one, ye coming with?” she groaned, wincing at the pain as the cub crept over to follow behind the strange woman, whining and nuzzling the fur every so often as she walked slowly.

Two days, she trundled slowly into town a day later than she intended, a high fever and a small bear cub following along, wolf pelts being added to the pile on her travois. She collapsed just outside the tower door, pulling herself far enough forward to thud heavily on it with her head, her hands still gripping the travois.

Perianor heard the thump on the door and walked to open it. At the sight of the collapsed orc and the travois with a bear cub pushing at her and sniffing slightly, he turned slightly and shouted, “Herodius! You’d better get down here!” He turned and saw a student studying who had looked up. “Quickly, Fenthis. Go and get Father Ryerdan. Now! Run!”

The student dropped his spell book and raced out the door, deftly sidestepping Sharn, a murmured, “Yes, Primus,” as he passed. Perianor quickly rolled Sharn onto her back and hooked his arms under hers, pulling her toward the tower. Never a strong one, it took him several long moments to get her inside.

As he did, a somewhat exasperated murmur carried down the staircase, getting closer. “What is it, Peri? What is all the shouting?” Herodius rounded the corner at the bottom and, on seeing Sharn, gasped, “Oh dear…” One hand extended, palm up, he clenched the other in a claw-like gesture and spat a multi-syllable word. Instantly Sharn began to float in the air. At his gesture, she floated over to a couch in the receiving area and he gently laid her down on it. Looking at Perianor, he asked, gasping for breath slightly, “You called for the Father?” At his nod, Herodius let out a heavy exhale and leaned against the wall, breathing slowly to catch himself.

Sharn grumbled, blearily opening her pain-filled eyes, “Rest, old man. I’m fine, it’s just a scratch.” She shifted and attempted to sit up only to slump back down. “Ye not supposed to overdo it like that, Herodius.” she huffed in faint pain as she laid back then snapped her fingers, the small bear cub quickly trundling over to slump on the floor next to her head. “I found ye a new friend.”

“Hush now, lass. Father Ryerdan is on his way. And I’m fine. Going to take more than tossing ye around to stop me,” he gasped softly. “Peri… Take care of her. And the bear. We’ll figure that one out later.”

Sharn huffed and closed her eyes with a soft grumble, “Long as ye rest, old coot.” A few moments later, Fenthis raced back breathlessly, followed shortly by a portly man with a jovial face, puffing with red cheeks. He frowned slightly at the sight of the orc and the blood soaking her clothes. She raised her head and a hand, “Hey Father, see? Just a scratch. I’m gonna need someone to take care of the fruits of my hunting, only want the bearskin personally, the rest needs to be…” She stopped a soft grunt escaping as she tried to lift before falling back again, slipping into unconsciousness.

Father Ryerdan stepped forward and pulled back the bandages and frowned at the wounds which she had been unable to take care of properly on her own. “Perianor, I need hot water, lots of it and several small bowls, and rags that can be burned. Have someone take care of the travois outside as well,” he murmured as he inspected the furrows down her side. “Bear fight. This one has a story to tell when she wakes up.”

Perianor glanced around quickly, then made a gesture and a bucket flew from across the room and landed next to the couch. He made a brief gesture and it filled itself with hot, but not boiling water. He closed his eyes and moments later, rags and bowls flew down the hallway from the kitchen area and collected themselves next to Father Ryerdan. “What else do you need, Father?” he asked firmly.

The Father knelt next to the couch, shifting Sharn to make her side more accessible. “My bag nearer to me, and clear the area of anyone that may have a weak stomach, this won’t be pretty.” He turned to look at Sharn as her eyes blinked open again. “Sharn, I’m cleaning your wounds, it’s going to hurt,” he cautioned. She nodded, then pulled a piece of leather from her hair and put it in her mouth to bite on. She nodded again to show her readiness.

The room cleared but for Perianor and Herodius as the Father worked. Tears streamed down her face and periodically, a stifled whine of agony would escape despite the gag. The rags dwindled as he cleaned and tossed them, blood and grime along with pus and signs of infection. Finally, after nearly half an hour, he finished and bound her the wounds with fresh wrapping and a poultice of herbs. “All done Sharn,” Father Ryerdan said.

She dropped the gag and gave him a partial smile. “See, just a scratch,” she rumbled. “Herodius knows where I keep my money for your pay. I’m going to pass out now,” she stated softly before slumping into unconsciousness.

Father Ryerdan huffed under his breath and patted Sharn on the head. “Stubborn girl,” he murmured fondly, then rose slowly to his feet with a groan, his knees creaking. He turned to look at Perianor. “She needs bed rest for at least two days, I’d say a week but getting this one to be still that long won’t happen. You can probably help her get to her house, but someone needs to keep an eye and change that poultice twice a day.”

“Peri, get the wagon. You and the Father can take her to her house and get her situated. Musk should be able to stay with her for most of that time, but someone will need to spell him for a while so he can get out to stretch and sleep some.” The old man thought for a moment, then nodded, “I’ll take the classes here. Peri, you’ll take eight hours a day and spell Musk. Come back here the rest of the time and get your work and resting done.” At Peri’s look of confused irritation, the old wizard looked at him firmly, “It’s only a couple of days, and she’s important to this town and to me, personally. You will do this, my apprentice.”

Peri sighed slightly, then nodded his assent, “Yes, master. As you wish.”

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