Bonus Scene #2
"So there he was ten meters up this tree with this wild boar so big it made that dun draft horse out there look petite, plotting his demise."
Giggles all around the Tavern, from friends and family.
Dog nodded. "I couldn't believe how big that thing was."
And I don't believe Urfa and Ajki actually let Ice come "to check on the abducted Citizen of the Empire." Not that Zizi wasn't delighted to see him.
"And that boar was. Pissed. Off. It kept backing off and throwing itself at the tree. Now this tree was tall, but it wasn't all that big around. And it would lean every time the boar jumped up and rammed it. The boar would drop off, the tree would whip back . . . we started making bets about how far Dog was going to fly when he finally lost his grip."
"Wait!" Dog sat up indignantly. "That's not . . ."
Ice gave him is best innocent look. "You weren't treed by the Terror of the Forest?"
"Yes, but the tree was perfectly stout and . . ."
Ice sniffed. "This is a dramatic retelling. So, there he was still trying to look like a clueless City Boy. 'If I shoot him in the nose, it will hurt enough that he'll run away!' he cries."
Even Xen was grinning. Of course.
"So he waits until the boar's halfway up the tree, then like always, turned its head before it dropped back and pfft! Right in the carotid artery.
"Blood everywhere! Especially after it thrashed around and ripped the arrow out. Took forever to die, and finally flopped and rolled down this deep ravine."
Dog rolled his eyes. "He's dramatizing again."
"Well, what with all the noise, a couple of hunters had climbed tree to tree and gotten far enough downwind to howl like a dire pack that had scented blood, and the rest of the wild hogs departed quickly."
"Dire pack?" Keiq looked over from where she was sitting with Zizi and a couple of witches.
Xen said she was sent here as Ice's watchdog. I suspect she's here because she won't stay, and Ajki knows Ice wouldn't stay without her. Or he may have just used "he needs a watchdog" as an excuse to give Ice a nice long vacation with his girlfriend. Or all of the above, because the Boss is a twisty devil.
Not that he won't expect them to both write reports.
Plus I think Keiq is researching Witch-style magic.
"Well, the zoologists don't like us calling them Dire Wolves, when they are not quite an anatomical match with the fossils. A lot bigger, for one thing. They're about the only thing that the hogs will run from." Ice shrugged. Eyes twinkling.
"So the Hunters went down the ravine to check out the giant hog. I, knowing that Dog was actually an expert, suggested that he try to field dress the two he'd shot first without making a mess, and I'd see what the Hunters were planning."
Ice stopped to savor a sip of Harry's homebrew.
"Which I did. They were trying to figure out how much of it they could carry. The head alone would be difficult, the hide, at least they could spread the load amongst them . . ." Ice reached into his pocket and pulled out a rectangle of polished wood. "Then I suggested they take the whole thing." He popped the wood apart to display the bronzy interior of a dimensional bag.
"What!" Dog yelped. "Where did you . . . they staggered in after dark, falling down exhausted . . ."
"Yep they put on a good show."
Zizi was giggling.
"And that's why three days after the wedding, Trees from all over came to celebrate in Zizi's village. That was an amazing amount of pit roasted pork."
"And you generously helped me tote that sow . . . must have weighed two hundred pounds, dressed . . ."
Ice nodded. "With that tender little 20 kilogram piggy over your other shoulder for balance. Not my fault you didn't think about levitation spells."
Dog worked to not laugh. "Up and down heavily forested ridges."
"Oh, we couldn't have been more than twenty kilometers from the village, and there were trails." Ice leaned his chair back against the wall, cradling his beer. "And that is how your Martian Dog proved he was worthy of Zizi's affection."