Friday, October 30, 2009


The dogs had a clear scent to follow and they went at a fast and steady pace. The trees in the forest were fairly thick and close together so the men on horses had to go slowly in the beginning when they entered the woods and it was not long before most had dismounted and followed on foot leading their horses.

The trail left by Ranee and Hyd was not hard to follow. They had stayed on their horse to get away faster and crashed through the trees, breaking branches and crushing bushes under the horse's hooves. Sucat really did not need the dogs to find Hyd and Ranee but he liked the idea of the snarling animals tracking them down and the fear the dogs would give them when Ranee and Hyd were caught and cornered by the beasts.

Sucat and his group travelled until they could not see any more because the light had faded faster in the woods than out in the open. They had left the keep in the late afternoon, not planning to be gone more than a couple of hours but it seemed that Hyd and Ranee had a longer head start than they first had anticipated. Sucat decided to stop for the night and make camp. He did not relish the idea of sleeping out in the open with out his usual camp equipment but they had come too far to turn back for the night. He had the food that Jyll had packed for him so he would be eating well and the others could fend for themselves or go hungry until morning.

He ordered the huntsman to go on to see if maybe he could corner Ranee and Hyd. It is possible they would have stopped by now too and they could be caught unaware. They both must be tired after the day that they both had endured. They would need to sleep soon to rest up. Hopefully the dogs would get them before morning and Sucat could just go in to clean up.

Some of Sucat's soldiers went hunting for game while others went looking for firewood while Sucat's wedding guests milled around waiting for someone to wait on them. A fire was quickly started for Sucat. He sat down near the blaze and began to open the food packet Jyll had packed. She sure was useful sometimes. The Margrave and a couple of other guests came over to share Sucat's fire and they thought they would also get some of his food but Sucat had no intention of sharing. They could wait for the game. Sucat opened the packet and found the meat pasty soggy and falling apart. He got gravy and sauce all over his clothes as he tried to eat it, most of it falling through his fingers and falling on the ground. The fruit Jyll had packed was crushed and mushed. Perhaps Jyll was not as helpful as he had thought.

He was no longer as happy and jubilant as when he had started out. The ale he had drunk earlier had caught up to him and he had a long hard day himself. He wanted to catch those annoying bothersome people that were making his life difficult. He should be enjoying comfort and new found wealth not sitting on the cold ground around a meager fire with no food. He was down right cranky and Ranee and Hyd would pay, dearly.

His soldiers would take care of his horse and the others could take care of themselves as best they could. He did not care. He bellowed at the nearest soldier to put more wood on the fire and make sure it did not go out during the night, then he rolled himself in a blanket and laid down by the fire and fell asleep. He slept through the night without being bothered by anyone or any thoughts.

When he woke in the morning, he was even crankier than when he had gone to sleep. The ground was hard and he was hungry and cold and damp from the morning dew. His crew had managed to capture some game during the night and had cooked it so that there was meat for the morning but it was bland with no flavorings and no bread or the fruit compote he liked to have to break his fast. He took the choicest parts of the rabbits roasting on the fire, fresh from the pit. Once he was done eating he made everyone break camp right away. He wanted to be off and get the chase over.

The dogs and their handler had not come back so they must still be on the trail of the fugitives. Hopefully they had been caught and cornered and were just waiting to be punished. The troop moved on, Sucat's guests even more unhappy than he was. The Margrave and his companions decided to turn back to the keep. That was fine with Sucat. Then he would have no worries about how to treat Ranee when she was caught. He could get rid of her without any witnesses that would care what happened to her.

The party moved more quickly through the woods because they now just wanted it over. It was a hunt and not a party and a slight drizzle had begun to fall.

In a couple of hours they had reached the spot where the dogs had stopped. The huntsman had them ranged around a horse that was tied to a tree, munching on the grass at its feet. The dogs were quiet but watchful. They had been sitting there guarding the horse since sunrise and by now the horse was used to them and ignoring them for the time being. It had strained at its tethers when the dogs had first come upon it, attempting to rear up and escape.

Sucat went up to his huntsman who could not leave his dogs without letting them loose which would be dangerous for them all.

"Why have you stopped?"

"They are here near by the horse. I thought we would stop here and wait for you. I knew you wanted to be the one to catch them. The dogs tell me they are not far."

"Can you get the dogs to corner them without the dogs making noise and alerting Hyd and the woman?"

"I will tie up all but my best dog and we will go to the spot where they are hiding. We will go slowly and you and a couple of men can follow. I think that would be the best way to capture them."

"I will be the one to decide what is best," said Sucat.

"Yes, of course, Baron."

The huntsman stood by quietly while Sucat decided what to do.

"You will tie up all of your dogs except your best one," Sucat told the huntsman. "We will follow behind you until you are sure of their location, then we will go in for the kill, so to speak. We will of course try to take them in for the King's justice in his court, what with Ranee being a Margrave's daughter and my wife. Hyd is also a peer of the realm so I guess he should get special consideration also but he has been found guilty once already. Still what can it hurt to be sure of this latest of his evil deeds."

The huntsman called over one of the biggest and strongest of Sucat's soldiers to hold on to the leash of the biggest and most vicious of the dogs while the huntsman took the other dogs over to a thick branched bush. He securely tied up the dogs and ordered them to stay. He also warned those staying behind to stay very clear of the dogs and not to look at them or talk to them.

The huntsman took the leash back from the soldier and waited for Sucat and the others who would join the final search to get organized. Sucat chose Captain Kennard of course and the two guards who rode at Sucat's left on the ride into the woods. They were his best and strongest men and had never failed him in the past. They tied up their horses and gave their instructions to the other soldiers. No one was to allow Ranee and Hyd to escape if they should happen to get past Sucat, Captain Kennard, the other two soldiers, Gregor and Konard and the huntsman, Heinric.

After taking allot of time getting organized so they could hopefully get this over with soon and get back to their warm and dry beds before the end of the day. Heinric, the huntsman and his dog went first. They moved quietly, the dog not making any sound as it sniffed through the grass and low lying branches. Sucat, Captain Kennard, Gregor and Konard stayed back so that they did not make any noise to spook their prey or get in the way of the dog doing its job. They held back so that soon Heinric and his dog were out of sight in the underbrush.

Sucat had his sword drawn but was just sort of following Captain Kennard, who along with Gregor and Konard were more alert. They heard scrambling in the bushes far ahead of them, like running and falling and then they heard the dog let out a couple of barks and fierce growls, Heinric yelled a couple of quick commands and then there was silence.

Captain Kennard had begun running towards the disturbing sounds as soon as they had begun. The others were close behind him as they burst through the trees into a clearly and found Heinric and his dog dead, their throats cut, their blood leaking out into the ground. Ranee and Hyd were across the clearing running away from them. Sucat screamed when he saw his huntsman and his dog laying dead in the field. His rage was so great he grabbed the crossbow from Captain Kennard and fired at Hyd. The arrow struck Hyd in the back in his right shoulder. Captain Kennard, Konard and Gregor looked at Sucat in amazement because he was not known for being a good shot.

Hyd stumbled from the impact of the arrow hitting him. He turned slightly and looked behind him. Ranee ran back and pulled on him to hurry. She yelled at him to run. Hyd saw the men chasing them hesitate on the other side of the clearing. He used that brief moment to get up and start running, pushing Ranee ahead of him.

He heard Sucat yell again behind them and the men take off after Hyd and Renee. Hyd could not believe the burning pain in his shoulder or the fact that it was his cousin who had shot him. Sucat had to have special people around him when he went hunting because he could never hit the game so the other men would shoot the animals and pretend it was Sucat who had made the kill and here when it really mattered most the Baron finally got a shot in where it counted, at least for him.

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