Sorry that I haven’t written in so long. Much has happened. I’ve travelled for days and days and that stupid ball of fire in the sky stays the same size. There is only one explanation. It must be getting farther away as I move toward it. It’s hard to tell how big the sky is or where the exact edge of it lies. But the Sun can only fly so far before it is pushed up against that enormous dome. It may take me several days more, but I will reach the edge of the world and I will put an arrow through that thing.
I noticed that a lot of the Updwellers ain’t hunters at all. I spied a few. Just before the Sun shows up they appear in the woods. I bet they think they’re being silent, but Updwellers are big and clumsy. Them fellows make more noise than a rutting cavern boar.
Most of the big folk grow food in pens around their wooden caves. Some of them have plants of all kinds and some keep animals for slaughter like those big hunks of meat on legs I mentioned before. I saw some critters that looked like short-haired boars. They were the color of rotworm larva. The pen they were being kept in sat about two hundred bow-lengths away from the dwellings. Those pink critters were just rolling around in the mud. Now, I ain’t no thief, but I had a hankering for something other than long-ear meat. I waited until the lights in the Updweller cave went out and crept up to those defenseless things. I reckoned a well placed arrow would take one down right quick. After a deep breath I nocked, aimed, and let fly. The beast dropped.
The others didn’t even snort. That was a might shocking. You’d think they’d be scared but it was almost like they were used to it. I pulled the dead critter out of the enclosure and dragged it toward the trees to carve it up. The thing spread out on its back when I pulled my knife. Just as I went to skin it the fat little animal kicked me right in the chest. Darn did that hurt! I think a rib bone got cracked. The varmint was still moving. I jumped on his belly to hold those hind legs still and brought my knife down swift on his chest. Hot blood flew out of the beastie and it squealed high and loud. Then it stopped moving. I could finally get to butchering it.
A noise coming from the Updweller’s cave interrupted me. I looked up and saw a lantern had been lit. The folk who owned the pen coming to investigate the noise no doubt. I sheathed my knife and dragged the critter way off into the darkness where no Updweller would follow me. Boy was I wrong. The Updwellers sure do love to get animals to do unnatural things. Penning critters up for food is one thing, but what happened next...
I made it nearly a thousand bow-lengths into the trees when I heard them. It was like a pack of tiny shadewolves tearing through the woods. Snarling and gnashing their teeth, the things raced straight at me. They had little chains hanging from their necks that rattled as they ran. They were the Updweller’s beasts I reckoned and they were trained to catch thieves like me.
I would have paid for the beastie, I swear. Once I finished butchering and filling my pack with meat I would leave some feathers and a sparklestone. I think that’s a fair trade, right? But there was no reasoning with those wolves. They looked dead set on doing me in.
I scampered up the nearest tree and the pack stood still at the bottom, barking and growling at me. The critter I killed lay right beside them. They sniffed it once and paid it no mind. Fresh meat free for the taking and those things didn’t care. All they wanted was me.
I managed to leap to another tree and then another, but those things followed me. They were keeping an eye on me while they waited for the master to come.
I never got a real good look at him, the Updweller. The branches blocked my sight from his face, but I could tell he was huge. Almost the size of a cave bear. He knelt down by the slaughtered critter and inspected it. He set a metal tube he’d been holding onto the ground. About half a bow long, it looked like a weapon of some sort, but I’d never seen anything like it.
“Pig thief.” he said to himself.
A pig. That must be what the Updwellers call those critters. But I ain’t no thief. I’m a hunter.
“Lead me to, him, boys.” the Updweller said and his wolves ran to the tree where I hid.
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