This vote did not go as I thought it would. I love it when readers surprise me.
Let’s see how this story ends.
Hunter Option Aa2: Threaten
Usually the less aggressive option appeals more to you but the man’s still keening on the ground, in obvious distress over his wolves, and his eyes seem sharpened with something just that side of insanity.
Master Finn stands at your shoulder watching as well. He fidgets from his left foot to his right and back. “He’s an awful liar,” he informs you after a moment.
“Wouldn’t trust a trade?” you ask.
Master Finn shakes his head.
“Then we’ll try something else.”
You walk to the box wagon and the giant man goes still, watching you with his chin resting on the ground. The position, since he’s still hobbled with hands and feet tied together, contorts his spine into a spiral, but this doesn’t seem to disturb him.
“Thing about this box wagon,” you say over your shoulder, “is it’s got barred windows.” You climb onto the wagon’s seat and slide the panel off the front window. It shifts to the side with a cringing wood on wood creak.
You brace your feet on the wagon and hold your bow out for the man to see.
A wolf barrels its body against the open window, rocking the wagon. Next you see teeth through the bars but none of this breaks the wagon and so you rock with the motion and continue talking to the man.
“You’ve got three chances with this,” you continue. “Tell me where the boys are.” The arrow rests against the string, and its broad tip is clearly visible to the man in the street.
He howls and rolls, almost slobbering now.
“Right then,” you say, “two chances left.” And you pull back the arrow.
It’s the first clear word from the man since you captured the wolves.
Holding the arrow ready, you pause, “boys?”
“They’re that way.” He points.
“We know that,” you continue to hold the arrow ready although the tension’s starting to ache in your shoulders. Soon you’ll start to shake.
“Follow the deer-trail-behind-the-mill,” words tumble from him. In great detail he outlines the trees and the small, dry creek bed the deer trail meets. He tells of the wolf den beside that creek bed and gives the distance, in exact time, to the den. He even layers on the smell of the snow sitting on the needles around the den and the must of wet earth when you crawl inside.
It could all be made up but you doubt it.
By now the bow rests against your leg and the arrow hangs from your fingers. “Put him in the jail,” you instruct Master Finn, “while I check out his directions.”
Later, while crawling into the den, you’re a bit amazed at how accurate the man’s description of the smell is. It wafts around you, earthy and damp. But then you’re distracted by the sight of two boys, maybe four and six, huddled in the tight confines of the wolves’ home.
You bring the boys home and stay in the village until a messenger fetches several lawmen from the closest city.
Then, with some relief, you watch the lawmen haul the giant and his wolves away while the villager’s payment for your services rests comfortably in your pocket.
Congratulations on your success!