Cor paced about as the nobles and retainers gathered for the hunt. This was not something Cor was used to – hunting is a personal event. While there might be other hunters, they are always working on concert. Every hunt has its own character and flow of events. This “hunt” was to lead people to a spot and let them kill something. But Robert asked and it seemed important to him. It reminded him of when Zortan, the Pack Leader would ask something of Cor. As a matter of fact, Zortan had given him a personal task that took him on a trip north just before the orcs attacked his village….but that is another story.
Cor decided on the focus of the hunt. Ezera the Grizzly would be the target. Cor had hunted with Ezera a number of times. She was a powerful and cunning hunter. But something changed about her recently. He did see her take down a troll in the area and since that time she had changed. Meaner, larger, and ranging farther. She was becoming a threat to others in and around the forest. This sadden Cor, but he figured it would serve two purposes. The first would be a benefit to the forest. The other would be to give the nobles something to remember.
Going deep into the forest, the group came upon Oak Bridge, so named after the nearby oak grove. Cor spotted a large hunting lizard sunning on a rock. Cor paused the group – these always come in pairs. But it was too late – its mate sprung from the undergrowth and bit Lord Barnell on the leg. Very unfortunate, as the bite of the lizard can result in a diseased wound. The fight was rather quick, but Cor was a bit put off by it all. There was no coordination with this pack. It mess with his Chi and he did not react well. He even thought he heard a few rumblings behind his back about his so-called fearsome reputation. Lord Barnell had to be taken back to the camp, then eventually to the castle to get his wounds treated.
Lord Marsten came over and asked about the Hag. Grateful for the distraction, Cor happily engaged Lord Marsten with all he know of her. He was sure Robert would be pleased that he helped make a connection there.
Back to the hunt, Johnnson called out that he saw the bear. Snapping back to focus, Cor and the group advanced across the bridge, only stopping momentarily as Fritz collected the Lizard eggs from under the bridge. Then there was an unearthly howl! It was a mix of a bear growl, a yowl of pain, and…something else. Then Cor saw them – some huge demonic panther! While feline in appearance, their movements were like nothing he had ever seen. He sensed two of them trying to flank the group. The hunters had become the hunted!
Things went bad from there. As Cor focused, he completely missed a third foul beast that was lurking in a large oak just off the path that Cor had advanced to. If it were not for the steel breastplate and a bit of luck, the monster would have ripped viscous wounds into Cor. The three monstrosities closed in, dividing up the group. The nobles and retainers, to their credit, held the line and fought hard but their weapons merely bounce off the otherworldly hides of these beasts. Even a powerful slash to the head from Cor barely phased this devilish feline. It was like hitting one of the nearby old oaks – bone-jarring with the target not even noticing. The cries of “fall back” emanated from the Lords. The beasts all roared as one as they sensed their prey would fall in short order.
But that was not how it would end.
Cor center his Ki. Pure calm came over his features. In a burst of speed that none could believe, Cor ripped upwards and put his left claw up through the underside of the monster’s jaw and ripped out its brain, purple blood spraying all over Johnnson. Cor dashed to the center beast, using his right claw to direct the creature’s head towards the ground. He then smashed down through the top with an believable burst of strength, crushing its head. Cor then leaped to the third fiend with his claws as extended beyond what even he thought was possible. Slashing down as he landed his right claws sliced through the creature’s neck with a whisper and then he tumbled to the side.
All was quiet for a split second. Cor was on one knee, with right claw still raised hit. Slowly, all three beast fell over simultaneously. Dead.
“I stand corrected.” Cor heard someone whisper, his honor restored.
The nobles eagerly agreed the hunt was a success. Their were mix reactions about the trophies – the bear clearly had changed and who knows where those feline demons came from. There was a big celebration at the Lodge and the nobles left for the other events back at the castle that Cor had no interest in. Over the next day or so, Cor became deeply disturbed by what he had encountered. Never a big thinker, Cor tends to brood as he slowly tries to work things out. Maybe the troll meat was not the source of Ezera transformation.
Cor reluctantly attended the big Feast. Word of his exploits had clearly spread. Cor noticed that while people were always a bit skittish around him, now it was a mixture of awe and fear. Only Axe’s plain spoken and eager questions about the hunt rang true to Cor. She was a true warrior, one he could relate to.
All this put Cor into a deeper brooding mood – a mood which very well may have saved his life. During the height of the feast a huge roast boar was place on the table. In an sullen mood, Cor only picked at meat. It did smell a touch odd but the cooks as such events are known to do weird things (in Cor’s mind, anyway) when preparing the food. Raw or lightly roasted is fine, why sprinkle dried leaves on everything? But someone must have picked a bad plant – everyone suddenly got sick! Cor threw up what little was in his stomach and felt immediately better. But that could not be said for all.
Then, all hell broke loose…