Last update: 07 October 2013
23 September 2013
"Would you please wait up? You have twice as many legs as me, you know!" He stops a moment, bends over, rests his hands on his knees and pants for breath.
The fern hound stops too, 10 meters in front, looks back over his shoulder, wags his tail once each way and barks impatiently. Then bounds off again.
He sighs, grits his teeth, considers uttering a profanity ... and laughs instead. This day is far too happy for that. Just keep up as as best you can! And off he runs, pursuing the dog.
They've been running this way for a dozen kilometers. Well...maybe only 10 -- it's hard to tell when you're constantly out of breath while trying to keep up with a dog hell-bent on wearing you out. And there was nothing for it. Early in the run, he tried to play "master" and give orders, but his dog simply barked at him, then whined and finally gave him those "come-quick-master-little-Sally-fell-down-the-well" puppy eyes until there was nothing else he could do but submit to the run.
Just as he's at the end of endurance and feels he must surely collapse, the dog stops. Nose to the ground, it moves around in various circles, sniffing and searching, finally finds what it seeks ... and starts digging.
He just watches at first, trying to catch his breath and let his heartbeat slow to something approaching "normal". The dog digs furiously, now even bites the earth and tosses mouthfuls aside. "Gah!" He grabs a rock, goes on his knees at the dig site and helps. After a few minutes, he strikes something hard. The dog backs off, sits on its haunches, tongue lolls out, pants from the exertion. He carefully feels for the object under the dirt, brushes the earth away, gets his hand around it, begins to carefully pull. His eyes widen slightly as he gradually realizes what the earth conceals. He looks at the dog, face betraying wondrous disbelief. "Ruff...did you really...? By Ventari...!" With that, he pulls it completely free and holds it in his hands -- it's woefully caked with dirt and will need a good few hours of scrubbing to restore it to its proper glory ... but it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. His hand trembles slightly as he wipes away the dirt from the handgrip, reveals the 8-point morning star on a circle of red -- symbol of the guild from which he's spent the last two and a half months in self-imposed exile.
He cradles the exotic longbow reverently in his arms for a few minutes, simply stares at it wordlessly. Finally, he looks up at the dog. "I never thought to see it again." The dog blinks, watches him. "I never dared hope you had it." He looks down at it again, runs his finger along the profile, looks up and smiles at the dog. "Thank you, Ruff. You did real fine."
The dog shuffles his paws a bit and wags his tail.
He looks up to the sky. Almost noon. He stands quickly, holds the bow in his left hand. "Come on, Ruff! The day's moving and we've got a lot to do!" And off the ranger bolts. After a split-second, the dog barks once and then hurries after him.