Chapter 8, Part A: In which, the Hunters meddle


Year 1304

A man went a-hunting at Reigate,
And wished to leap over a high gate.
Says the owner, “Go round,
With your gun and your hound,
For you never shall leap over my gate.”
– The Hunter of Reigate

Edmund’s thoughts were full of questions as his horse plodded its way down the snowy road through town. He did not volunteer, however, to divulge those thoughts to the guildmaster riding ahead of him.

By all accounts, Wilhelm Cadeyrn was the ideal sort for a young man like Edmund to consult.  He and his wife were deemed generous to many, intelligent, and respectable. But Edmund found there to be something rather unsettling about the man. As jovial as the guildmaster might be, he was a vicious hunter –– superior in strength and speed to the rest of the guild. His skill with a weapon was equaled by his skill as a leader; he kept tight order of the expanding guild.

Edmund had astutely noted that those within the guild who defied Wilhelm were left out of the more desirable and important hunts. Also those outside the guild who opposed the man often became the last in line to buy the remaining spoils from a plentiful hunt. While the guildmaster did not ever demand such acts of loyalty from his men, neither did he make any movement to stop such practices.

Edmund knew he was not alone in his observations.  Whereas he disapproved of the man, Mrs. Winchester actively disliked him. But she was always coldly civil to Mr. Cadeyrn, choosing to maintain some appearance of cooperation between the offices of Mayor and Guildmaster.

Edmund wisely avoided becoming embroiled in whatever dispute the town’s most prominent figures shared. His father’s livelihood was dependent on staying above the fray of small-town drama. And so he did not often confide in the guildmaster.

The men continued to ride in silence as they passed the town’s borders. The number and type of tracks decreased sharply and Wilhelm circled his horse around, bringing it alongside the younger hunter’s own steed. The guild leader pointed at ground, indicating a set of long grooved impressions in the snow. “Looks as if a coach came in of some sort.”

Edmund hesitated for a moment, wondering what to say about his morning encounter with Elanore. He played along, choosing to speak the truth but in a careful manner. “I did see a coach coming from the direction of the outlying homes.”

Wilhelm looked further up the road, following the tracks as far as his eyes could see. “Probably some of the folk coming to town for supplies. With the Crossroads suppliers not able to come in for a few days, I expect that some of our less prepared folk might be anxious for a bit of ale and food.”

“That may be the case,” Edmund agreed. “The tavern was full during the lunch hour. I believe that most families, however, are managing.”

“Of course they would,” the man grinned. “I’ve made sure to distribute what we can spare from our own stores. The guild takes care of this town,” he added proudly before turning his horse back about and resuming his brisk pace down the road.

Occasionally Wilhelm would pause to study the houses near the road before moving forward. It was apparent the man was taking mental notes on the comings and goings of the townspeople. He continued in such fashion until they arrived at the last inhabited residence before the bridge.

A set of wheel tracks ended at the gate that marked the Wolfram estate. Oddly enough, Wilhelm said nothing of them, instead leading his horse to the front of the bridge where he dismounted. The young man left his horse and joined Wilhelm, watching as the man knelt down slightly to look at the snow.

A look of concentration etched itself across the leader’s face as he stared at several sets of tracks. “It seems as if we weren’t the only ones out here,” the leader began to point at tracks running down the bridge. “That set,” he pointed out to Edmund, “is a smaller person, running our way. The other set from a horse lead in the opposite direction. Those were likely made later.”

Edmund let his eyes wander over to the newer horse tracks. Quietly he followed his guildmaster across the bridge towards where the horse stopped.  A heavy footprint in the snow marked where the horse’s rider had dismounted.

The young man followed the uneven prints to the bridge’s end where a stone lion statue sat. “I suppose our rider spent some time here looking at this fellow,” he mused aloud to his guildleader. “It’s a rather peculiar thing, this lion.” He reached out to touch the lion, whose head was devoid of snow, subconsciously mirroring what the owner of those tracks had done before him.

As Edmund’s fingers brushed against the statue’s cold surface, he felt a sudden and quick sting. Wondering if he had mistakenly imagined that sensation, he reached out to the statue again.

The guildmaster interrupted him. “Look at this,” Wilhelm ordered.

Edmund moved away to where his guildmaster studied a disturbed part of the ground.

Wilhelm held out his hand. “Match, please.”

Edmund fumbled and reached inside his pockets while the guildmaster unfolded a screen he kept in his own pack.  The guildmaster sifted what snow he could through the tool before Edmund lit the match to help melt the rest.

“Seems we have a bit of wolf fur,” the expert huntsman grinned. “Odd thing isn’t it? Don’t usually see the likes of them around here. Unless they were hunting something, perhaps.”

The remarks sent a cold chill through him. Edmund could not help but feel as if these woods he had always known were suddenly a threat to curious, vulnerable Elanore. It perturbed him how closely she had come to fending against a lone, likely hungry wolf. “Where do you think it came from?”

“It?” Wilhelm shook his head. “I don’t know that it was simply one. There’s too much disturbance of the snow in this area. Likely we have a pack,” he looked thoughtfully at the wooded area by the road.

Edmund grimly noted that the man’s assessment was consistent with Elanore’s earlier story.

“Let’s split our search here.” Wilhelm stood up abruptly, no longer so sleepy. Edmund recognized the man’s interest was greatly piqued by this discovery. “I’ll go west,” he looked at Edmund. “You check east of the road.”

Edmund nodded, regretting that he could not go further south. He had wanted to trace Elanore’s steps backwards towards the next town, to look for signs of something or someone else following her north. But his guildmaster seemed more interested in the wolves and determining their bearings. He obeyed the man, in spite of this directive bringing him close to several abandoned properties.

After departing the road and wandering east of the bridge, Edmund spent a good hour carefully looking for signs of tracks or disturbed portions of the woods. But this proved futile. Elanore’s accounts had placed her at the bridge during snowfall. By now, the wind and the falling snow would have likely obscured anything worth noting.

Eventually the gnawing cold could not be ignored. His hands were chilled thoroughly and he turned his horse towards the creek to find shelter at the bridge.

But his horse neighed softly at the sight of the creek and Edmund saw it was thirsty. Automatically he brought his horse up to the creek’s edge to let it water.

There, he noted that the waters had melted the snows. As the winds picked up, he shivered and rubbed his mittens together as best as he could, letting his eyes wander over the area once again, eventually coming to rest on the bridge ahead of him. The sound of lapping water reminded him that all creatures eventually needed both food and water, and he looked carefully about the creek to see if, by luck, any tracks had been left by creatures of any sort.

As he began to wander toward the shadowy parts under the bridge, he had the odd sensation that he was being watched. He heard a faint sound, a rustling of the earth and his fingers moved to the hilt of his short sword strapped at his side. Quickly he turned about on his heels and drew the weapon in front of him.

There was a strange sound of metal upon wood as he intercepted a blow that was meant for his head. Edmund was startled to find himself parrying the walking stick of Count Wolfram.

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Chapter 8, Part A: In which, the Hunters meddle — 34 Comments

  1. Taking bets for the coming fight… Place your bets people

    My bets are tied, though, I like them both. ^^;

  2. Fight! Fight! Fight!

    this is getting better with every update!!! can’t wait for the next one!!!

    • LOL. So many bloodthirsty females. Who thinks we like only romance? rofl -> myself

      • I’m a girl who frequently finds herself liking male-oriented series, who finds the girly stuff very girly. ^^v

        • Yeah, I’m a shonen manga genre reader (and a former superhero comic book junkie who thought Lobdell/Bachalo Generation X was the BEST marvel series in the X-book family), so I totally get what you’re saying. Still, I do like girly stuff — teas, dresses, cute things and really handsome men xD.

  3. doo do do do do i’m lovin’ it. Don’t ask why that popped into my head. I have no idea. But I am truly enjoying the story. Especially now that we get to have all that pent up testosterone out and about. lol Good times will ensue…I hope. 🙂 And a bit of a fist fight in the snow would be quite alright by me.

    • (McDonald’s jingle in the middle of a comment? hahaha!)
      Hm. I suppose resolving this with some tea and cookies isn’t going to work. hehe. Good to know, though. I’m going to revise what I have with this feedback in mind.

  4. Ohhhhh this is getting good 😀
    I don’t want to wait for the next chapter though D:
    I put my bets on Wolfram though, he’s my favorite XD

    • XD You have to wait because I’m still revising the next part!
      Wolfram seems to have more fans. Poor Edmund. Now he really wants to become a vampire xDDD.
      (BTW, hello and welcome to the official pool of “Those who comment”! )

      • Thankyou~ I’ve been following the story for some time but it never occured to me to leave a comment. But I’ve fallen in love with this story XD truely.
        Oh. Dear god. If he becomes a sparkely vampire… I’ll.. I’ll… I’ll cry. Thats what I’ll do XD *now has the idea for an unfortunate event happening involving tar and glitter*
        Wolfram is Daaaaaaaark and Mysteriouuuuuusssssss~~~ *insert sexy music here* What girl doesn’t like that XD?

        • Aww, I’m glad to hear that. And no sparkly vampires. But I might give him a haircut xD
          (I’m not sure I like dancing Wolfram. No. Scary image xD)

  5. I recently found this series and I must say I find it rather delightful. I usually never comment but when something seems off I feel I must say something. In the 14th paragraph you put Edward instead of Edmund, for a moment I was exceedingly confused and wondered when the character Edward had come on the scene only to realize it was supposed to be Edmund. I dare say, I don’t think Edmund would want to be confused for a glittery vampire.

    • LOL. That isn’t just awkward, it was a downright error. (And now I’m going to be stabbed by Edmund for it. *bleeds*)
      Thanks for pointing that out! At least one good thing came out of the sleep-deprived update — and that’s wheedling you into posting xD.
      (And glad you are enjoying the story.)

      Funny you should mention the sparkly vampire, as you should see this. Ahaha. Poor guy. So unloved.

      And if you do happen to remember, how did you find me? I would love to know!

      • ROFL! Poor Edmund! I actually stumbled upon it when I was looking at Toilet Genie, the page hadn’t loaded properly and I accidentally clicked on an unloaded part of the page which happened to be for your story! At first I was like “Shoot! I didn’t mean to do that!” But then I started looking at the page properly and got sucked in and started reading and became thoroughly enthralled and fascinated by the story, and now I am hooked! Can’t wait to see what happens next, I still can’t decide who I like more, Edmund or Wolfram, because both have characteristics I like. Wolfram for his mysterious and somewhat bold behavior, and Edmund for his honesty and obvious care and his clutzy moments are so endearing. Finding your images about the characters and the little teasing moment I find nice because it adds more to the characters with those candid moments. :3

        • Ah – Yeah – Toilet Genie is one of my favorite reads (and a place I advertise as a result). Glad though I could suck you in. It’s hard to transition folks from webcomic to written format. These days a lot of folks aren’t really as involved in online reading unless it’s for fanfic.

          I’m glad Edmund and Wolfram are coming across as different men, albeit Edmund is way younger than Wolfram xD. As for the images , glad someone else is enjoying them other than me. hehehe. I like to think of them not only as blowing off some steam (as this story still is largely more serious than what I draw obviously), but also a good way to sort of cement what I think the characters are about.

          Anyways :3 back atcha.

          • I know what you mean. It isn’t too hard for me given that I have tried (and failed miserably) to write a few stories of my own. One of them got about 57 pages typed out before I scraped the whole thing. I transitioned to reading almost entirely books to reading manga, to reading web comics. Finding a medium that is very much like a book but updates on a regular basis is very nice because I find that having a rather large book and having gotten to certain points I find it rather daunting to want to trudge forward. Especially so when you know something horrible is going to happen. Having the daily updates leaves you riveted on the edge of your seat waiting for that next update to see what is to come. Lol, but I need to stop spamming your poor comment box and I hope that people enjoy this as much as I do <3

            • I’ve definitely been there before. I trashed a few of my stories about at that point (50-80 pages) and others I managed to wrestle through after doing a few odd things. Writing online is a great way to force yourself to do it, especially if you can get a few readers encouraging you to keep going. Or at least if they can encourage you enough past that uphill battle where you are trying hard to establish their voices, their motivations, and the plot that keeps them moving.

              As far as what I consume, I have found that I do read a large bit of manga these days, but asyou’ve noted, some of it’s the immediacy of the format and sometimes it’s just because I’m such a visual person I really enjoy drawings. That said, I read manga more for action/comedy/romance or slice of life stories. Those tend to be more fun to follow in the graphic format for me.

              Glad you are hanging in here with the format. It never occurred to me that people would find this to be novel. Guess what’s old ( model) is new again!

              And no worries about spamming the comments. I love hearing from you guys. Knowing that you’re all waiting for the next part is what makes me get up on weekends and force myself to write and edit xD

  6. Yay update!! I was so last sunday when I remembered there was no update.. I love this story. I’ve never seen another site that does this although my friends and I have been attempting something similar..(and failing xc ).

    • aww. I hope not to have to do that much… but every once in a while life stuff happens :).

      Glad you continue to enjoy the story. Roundrobins or working with other writers can be hard if you guys have a lot of characters and plot elements to juggle. I did a bunch of roundrobin fanwork with writing friends a few years ago, and we did comedic stuff that didn’t require a huge plot so that we could simply have fun writing characters doing silly things. But I also did RP stuff and that could be very tricky since you have to really work well with another writer – have the same objectives and philosophy towards writing. I don’t think writing together is always that easy, but hopefully at least you’re having fun!

      I think I asked you this before – are you guys posting stuff anywhere? Like livejournal or fanfiction/ ? Sometimes the pressure of putting it in public makes people buckle down in their writing.

  7. You really do deserve more comments than you’re currently getting, so I guess I’ll try to start commenting some. XD I got directed here from the webcomic Phoenix Requiem a few weeks back, and have been avidly following your updates ever since. I think I’m going to be jumpy around mentions of water in your stories for some time to come after the last couple updates. I had visions of Edmund’s horse being gobbled up by unthings as he was going to let it have a drink just now.

    • Hellooooo! Actually, while webcomic authors are used to tons of comments, I’ve been told that webfic is relatively quiet in comparison. Considering I also used to write extremely odd fandom pairings, I’m used to toiling in complete anonymonity xD.

      That said, I think you are right to be nervous for Edmund. I think getting whacked on the head (or almost whacked) is far better than accidentally walking into something. You’re on to something 🙂

  8. Just a heads up you’ve got a bit of a continuity error: you kinda made a big point in the early chapters to note how the snow covered Eleanor’s footprints, but then in this chapter they are still visible enough for the Guildmaster to see she was running. That really stuck out as odd to me.

    • Hi Zephyr – I’ll have to go and look how I explain this … Giles initially left town before the snows picked up. He left shortly after carrying Elanore and Hastings to town. Although I don’t explain it specifically – the sequence of inspection was
      Count (up to bridge only) early morning, Giles (actually on and off the road beyond the bridge) (later morning), Edmund and the Guildmaster (later afternoon).

      I’ll have to look at exactly to what degree I stated that the tracks were covered in the very first evening/morning of events (the Count’s assessment specifically), but hopefully in answering it addresses some of the confusion. The timing of chapters sometimes is not strictly chronological which I think does create some confusion.

      Welcome btw to “the dark side of the commenting crew” and thanks for pointing this out.

  9. @Puppetmaster, don’t think of it as the “dark side” of commenting. It’s a credit to your storytelling that people keep such close track of the story line. There are few gifts a person can have that are better than being a good storyteller. 🙂

    • I think everyone here actually has been great. (The comments are good feedback and catches, particularly with language that I should have used far more carefully.) That said, I’ve been concerned about some things I see occurring at other stories/comics.You’re right. It’s good that people love something enough to keep close tabs, but I also wonder if people realize that there’s an art to commenting too 🙂 Anyways, hello delurker! Welcome to the story 😀