The Count’s Boar Hunt

Author: Albanus Caudex
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My Dearest Sister,

Tell mother not to worry about my supper tonight. I won’t be returning home anytime soon. As you know, the count’s boar hunt was this morning, and I must regretfully tell you that although the hunt is over, I’m in no shape to travel.

That said, I can still hold a quill, so I suppose I owe you the whole story.

At dawn, I set out for the forests south of the Weatherleah Estate to meet the rest of the hunting party. The count is quite generous to sponsor a hunt for the public, so I was far from the only hopeful hunter in group. In fact, there were so many of us that I thought we were more likely to chase off any game than come across something worth pursuing.

Count Calantius is wise though, so his aides quickly divided the massive group into several smaller parties that were told to fan out away from each other. To my shock, I realized I had somehow ended up in a group with the count himself! I couldn’t see him very well, as he allowed the hunters on foot to lead the way, while he gallantly rode behind on a white steed with golden armor. I wanted to hang back for a better view, but that wouldn’t have gotten me any closer to nabbing a boar.

Instead, I gripped my spear tightly and moved toward the front of the group on light feet. The count’s hounds trotted ahead, noses to the ground as they searched for the scent of boars. It was quiet for some time. The only sounds were the snuffling dogs and the hunters’ careful steps.

All at once, the dogs threw their heads back and started baying as they picked up the scent. Those of us on foot began running after the hounds, bounding recklessly through the underbrush as we neared our quarry.

“There!” someone shouted. The party broke into an open glade, where we discovered two massive boars locked in a deadly territorial skirmish. The size of their tusks gave them away as males, and their bristling fur betrayed the animal fury within. The intensity of their battle must have masked the approach of our party. It was stunning.

Without warning, the larger of the boars broke away from the other and charged toward the hunters at the front of the party. The whole group of us surged toward the action. A brave man with a long hunting sword attempted to plunge it into the beast’s neck.

It was the last mistake he would ever make.

The boar’s frenzied momentum carried it easily up the length of the man’s sword, until the blade was buried in the animal’s hide and the boar’s tusks had gored the man deep in his belly. Blood poured out from the wound, and the man lost his grip on the sword embedded in the animal’s flank as it searched out a new target. The man fell quickly, his body forgotten in the chaos of the moment.

As the boar began to snort and circle before making another charge, I had a sickening realization. We’d lost track of the second boar.

The whole party was engaged with the larger animal, intent on avenging the fallen hunter. I turned back to see if the count would choose this moment to strike, when I saw the unmistakable shape of the second boar goring through the count’s aides and knights, making for his horse. Without thinking, I turned away from the first boar and began running toward the count.

To his credit, the count saw the boar coming, and grim acceptance crossed his face as he raised his sword for what he knew would be a futile blow. Before the beast made contact with the count and his steed, I drew back my arm and launched my spear directly at the count.

It was a risky move, to be sure. I’ve never been a great shot, and I could certainly use more practice on moving targets. Arkay must have guided my hand, because the spear flew true. It pierced the second boar through its eye, killing the beast not a moment before it would’ve had Count Calantius on the end of its tusks.

The count stared at the dead boar for a moment before lifting his gaze to meet mine. He nodded at me and I’m sure was about to say something profound before the first boar charged me from behind.

I don’t remember much after that. Thankfully the boar’s tusks missed me, but the beast did trample me on its way through the crowd before someone eventually put it down. I awoke hours later in the count’s castle in Skingrad, where healers had set my leg and given me a soothing drink for my scrapes and bruises.

The count was especially grateful for my intervention with the boar. He even invited me to sit at the high table with him at the feast that night! I never could’ve imagined sitting with the count himself as we dined on roast boar and toasted the many brave hunters of West Weald.

Count Calantius arranged for me to stay here in Skingrad until I’m well enough to travel home. He’s offered me a horse from his personal stable, as well as a year’s supply of salted pork and a monetary prize—for taking down a boar plus more for saving his life.

I will write again soon to let you know of my recovery. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss how to spend the prize money when I return, although I can safely say I’m retired from boar hunting!

Your loving brother,
Albanus Caudex

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