by the pricking of my thumbs

POSTED: Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:10 am

Late evening, the Blackwoods, backdated to 10 February. Vedetto job challenge. [ 1584 ]

The day was drawing to a close and with it the temperature seemed to plunge, but it was so late in the winter it was no longer such a surprise, and what had once been a thing to be wary of was now just another part of the day. Still, when the sun began to sink from the sky the collective seemed to slip away into the warmth of their respective homes and spend the rest of the evening enjoying each others company or engaging in their favorite pastime until it was time to snuggle up into bed and sleep. To the scout though, there was so much more to do, and with everyone else out of the way it meant all the work to be done would be accomplished without much interruption. There were others like him who saw opportunity in the later, colder, hours of the day, but his interests were not shared by many, and for that he was grateful.

With his knife in his jaws his paws carried him swiftly from the Ruins to Marrgerd, northward still from Grimrun to the orchard, and finally up into the Blackwoods where he aimed to check the traps. There were still many that needed to be moved from the southern edge of the forest where the old border was and further north to where their newest expansion had ended, but there would be time for that at a later date, and the new traps laid out throughout the densely packed pines were suitable for now. They dappled the forest here and there, some well-hidden and others not so much, while even more were easily tucked away by the snow and forgotten, which decidedly were the worst of all. He tread carefully when he finally reached a spot to stop and rest for a moment, the time passing without measure as he caught his breath and took a beat to shift, strapping his knife to his leg before continuing on two legs instead of four.

It wasn't long before a strange sound could be heard, a sort of chittering chattering sound, not like anything he had ever heard before. It didn't worry him, and if anything he was rather intrigued as he slowly followed the strangest looking trail he had ever seen – dozens of long streaking drag marks like someone had run a broom through the snow – until he finally came upon the source of all the strangeness. He had to blink a few times to register what he was looking at, a giant ball of bristled hair and spiky quills and flailing legs, but after a few seconds it all became clear. It was alive, that much was obvious in the way it was wiggling and wailing – snared halfway up a tree – and it was an animal, a prey animal as far as he could tell, but hidden within its long thick hair were a mess of pointy... things. Protection?

"Now what are you?" He'd never seen anything like it, and when he got within arm's reach of the thing he hesitated to reach out to it. It just looked so... poky. He definitely didn't want to cut it loose, it would run away and no one would believe what he had seen, but he couldn't just let it hang there swinging about with every bit of effort it took to try and free itself. Yet at the same time, he couldn't really figure out what to do with it either, since it looked like it would stick him the moment he put his hand near it. The quills weren't very long and seemed to be localized around the animal's posterior, so if he really wanted to grab it he'd have to do it from the front, but therein lay another problem. Those huge rodent looking teeth.

"How in the world am I gonna get you down?" He mused aloud, moving in closer to get a better look at the creature and its unfortunate situation. The good news was the trap had worked like a charm and the snare wrapped tightly around one of the critter's hind legs, yanking it up pretty high into the tree it now dangled from helplessly. Had it been a full grown luperci it would not have gotten that far up but he liked to think it would have worked the same way, at the very least with a lupus or secui anyways as an optime would simply free themselves with ease. The bad news was the spiky creature had been hanging there for a long time now and all circulation was lost in the snared leg, which would be no use to it later if he were to free the thing and let it go.

With a sigh of pity it seemed his only course of action was to kill the poor animal and harvest what he could from it, which by the look of it wasn't very much, but its quills, pelt – if someone could wash out the stink of it – and other various things would be worthwhile to the pack in one way or another, or so he hoped. The problem still remained of just how to kill it, as every time he made a move toward it the thing lashed out with flailing limbs and snapping teeth in an attempt to either stab him or bite him. All he had on him were the weapons mother nature had given him and the knife strapped to his thigh, which would easily cut through the snare to get it down but would not so easily reach the critter to end its life.

"You are not making this easy big guy." He joked in some odd way of trying to comfort the creature, which had no idea what he was saying and went back to feigning stillness until the wolfdog moved again and it lashed out once more. His glacier gaze swept their immediate surroundings then, looking for a reasonable means to ferry the spiky animal into its next life. There were a few rocks and sticks and pine needles and leaf litter all over the place but nothing that would give him the range he needed to keep from getting hurt, and just when he was about to give up, he managed to spot a broken branch out of the corner of his eye.

Laden with snow the low hanging branch had snapped near its base and hung rather unceremoniously from the tree it once grew from, the thick piece of pine tapering from its base to its tip and for the most part free of any offshoot branches. Eyeing the creature and then the branch again the young de le Poer almost thought it cruel to dispatch it in such a way, but surely a quick end would be better than a slow painful death from a septic limb. Sighing again, he moved to the branch and planted a foot upon the tree trunk, and with a jerking twisting yanking motion managed to from it from the tree, the final pull causing him to stagger backward and almost fall into the snow.

"Alright little buddy, I promise I won't miss." He comforted again as he returned to the snared critter, his hands running over the rough surface of the branch and shedding the loose bits of bark and tiny offshoot branches that clung to the main bough. Brandishing the branch like a club he positioned himself at the best possible angle and took a breath, holding it for a second and waiting for the creature to still before taking a swing, striking the helpless animal square on the head and promptly breaking its neck. The body swung a few times before its momentum dissipated and it hung there lifelessly for a moment, one final sigh escaping the scout as he watched it in silence briefly before moving in closer.

Gingerly he ran his hand over the critter, feeling the difference between its pliant fur and rigid quills, careful not to accidentally stick himself with one. It was remarkable how the difference between the two visually was very difficult to determine, but by feel it was like night and day. As morbid as it seemed he was looking forward to skinning it and working the pelt into something useable, as all those poky quills would certainly prove to be an interesting challenge. For now though, the challenge of how to get it out of the trap had been dealt with, and with deft hands he reached up, undid the line, and lowered the creature to the earth where he worked the snare out from around its leg. Carefully, he moved the big ball of hair and spikes out of the way and reset the snare trap, cautiously backpedaling away from the area and plucking the critter from the ground by its leg as he did so.

Though the area was well trodden and riddled with scents, new snowfall would do well to cover all tracks and signs of disturbance – as well as hide the trap – and the overwhelming stink of the rodent would take care of the rest. Holding the creature far enough away from him so it wouldn't brush against his leg as he walked, the scout looked back at the area one more time before looking down at the critter and then to the path ahead, eager to get home. He would have the weirdest story to tell his friends when he got back.

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