Poaching in the Bear Empire

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They left the wagon near the front of a farmhouse, making sure the horses were comfortable and had plenty of grass to munch on, and set off on foot, each of them carrying a bag.  As soon as they reached an intersection, they turned off the wagon-road, heading towards the foothills.

Dusk came on them sooner than they’d have liked, the air turning cool as the sun ducked behind the mountains. Deline began looking for a reasonable place to stop for the night.

Carrone beat her to it, walking off of the road into the woods and, after a moment,coming back to pull her that way.  “Hunting shed.  Hasn’t been used in a while but it will provide some protection.”

It turned out that his idea of a hunting shed was a tree-house someone had clearly put time into, with three good platforms for shooting.  A poacher, perhaps, but they had built shutters in so they could be protected from the harsh mating-season winds, and there was a soft pallet in one corner.  The underbrush near the tree hadn’t been disturbed in at least a season, and the ladder nailed into the tree trunk was missing two rungs.

Neither Deline nor Carrone were the sort of person who minded such a small inconvenience.  They clambered up into the shelter without any trouble and closed all of the shutters, leaving them with only the faint light coming through a few cracks.

“Something’s been at the insulation.”  Carrone pointed to the cracks, and how there were bits of rag stuffed into most of them, tugged out on the edges and gnawed on.  “I have  to wonder what happened to the hunter who used this.”

“People die without an heir.  People move, and leave their homes behind.  Sometimes people get caught doing something against the law-”

“Hunting without a permit?”

“That’s not the sort of thing that gets you gone for so long that your favorite place starts to fall apart, though.  Usually, that’s just a fine and a tithe of the hunting.”

“Hunh.  In Dekleg, doing it twice can get you killed.”

“And that is why we do not have a treaty with Dekleg.”

 


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