Risk vs Reward

A small Dogheart camp sees a figure approaching through the early afternoon flurries, it’s silhouette betraying a walking stick, cloak, and wide brimmed hat with a point. As he crosses the tent line into the center of camp, he rests his crook against the only semi-permanent structure; a small cabin, before moving to join the four men sitting at a fire. “These are White Eyes lands, yes?” Ignatius asks in Njor.

One of the men smirks, rising from his seat and pacing a hand on the handle of his axe. “Sorry old man, Clan Dogheart hunts here. But we’d be happy to send you south, without your hea-” another elbows him in the gut, cutting him off. “Korro, idiot, look; one eye, white beard? It’s one of His Wise Ones, if not Aufvaldr himself.” The quartet argued briefly and quietly for a moment, until Ignatius interrupted; “I promise you I’m neither. A poor traveler from the south, terribly lost it seems, and just looking to share a fire for a hour to warm before I move on.” One of the Rimelanders snorts, punching another in the shoulder. “See? Exactly what He’d say! You’re not fooling us, old ma- er, Elder. Take a seat.” He gestured to a spare log, upon which Ignatius gratefully sat while two of the others scoffed and shook their heads.

“So Elder, tell us a story of your life?” One asked curiously. Ignatius waved him off dismissively. “No no, that’s not what I’m traveling the north for. I’m here to learn, not teach.” he chuckled. “ You tell me your story, hmm? That way I can remember it and tell others of Dogheart’s who shared their fire with me.” The hunter gestured with open palms towards Ignatius, glaring at the others with an expression that shouted ‘see?!’.

As the hour passed and the hunters shared a number of stories, one offered Ignatius the dregs of their lunch stew pot, which he gratefully accepted. Warmth in his feet and fingers returned, he grunted as all old men do when they rise of their seats and offered them thanks for the hospitality. “But before I do move on, would you accept a blessing on your home?” The quartet again rushed through a hushed argument that ultimately ended with one nodding wordlessly to Ignatius.

He moved to the doorway of the small cabin, slipping a small vial of holy water from a pocket on the inside of his undershirt; about the only place he could keep it from freezing while traveling these lands. He spoke in Aldersabin, asking Melandiel to ward the home of those who had shown him hospitality with the Hospitality of the Lord in return. As he cast the water from the vial, the droplets turning to ice almost as soon as they landed on the threshold.

At hearing the language of the ‘Lion God’, even without knowing it’s meaning, the same doubtful hunter rushed to his feet and readied his axe. “See? He’s a Southerner! We should cut him down right now.” He shouted, another rising and shouting back. “So sure are you, Korro? Or are you desperate to tell the tale of how you cut down an old half-blind unarmed Southerner in combat? We gain nothing here from his bloodshed, and still there is risk this is Aufvaldr trickery. I won’t have you bringing that ire upon us.” He turned toward Ignatius and nodded. “Thank you for stopping at our fire and hearing our stories, Elder. And for that blessing. Leave in peace.” “Thank you for the meal, and the stories, Sons of Dogheart.” Ignatius replied, before taking up his crook and continuing his pilgrimage.

In the early morning when the hunters arose, they found the tents outside slashed by claws in the night. “Look, Draugr prints!” one exclaimed. “But why would they not have broken down the door to slaughter us in our sleep?” Korro questioned. “Perhaps… something prevented them.”

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