Hector stood his hair matted, damp; shirt soaked sticking to his back and chest. He’d been chopping the wood for the fire in the inn all afternoon. Pausing to study the stack of wood, contemplating had he cut enough when he heard a faint yell, a scream.
From where he stood behind the inn he was able to see down the road that came from Shentonville. He was certain that the sound he had heard came from that direction. Squinting through the evening haze he could not see anything, nor could he hear anymore yelling or screaming.
Then just as he was about to turn to pick-up some wood he heard the clatter of hooves on the cobbled road. Looking again he could make out a small brown pony cantering down the road, brown travellers cloak billowing from the neck of the rider slumped over it’s back.
Not 20 feet behind it came a squat little humanoid, wearing tattered clothes and wielding a simple club that was nothing more than a stick with a solid knot at one end.
Without thinking, Hector picked up the axe he had wedged in the block of wood, leaped over the wooden rails of the inn’s stable yard and started running towards the pony barreling down the road.
As he got closer he could make out the little humanoid a little better, it was all of 3 ½ feet tall, green brown leathery skin with a flat face, a snout and a row of sharp pointy teeth protruding from its mouth that was agape yelling at the pony in front of it.
Neither the Pony, it’s rider or the creature spotted Hector running down the hill to intercept them. As he got closer he slowed his sprint just enough to raise the axe above his head and heave it at the humanoid. He watched with despair as he realised he had not been close enough.
All his years of throwing axes at trees practicing for just such a moment as this he realised the trajectory of the axe was not high enough and it most definitely was not going to hit the creature in the chest as he hoped.
‘Oh Well.’ He thought as he picked up the pace again pulling his knife from his belt just in time to see the axe he had thrown smash into the creatures left ankle causing it to spin in the air mid-stride and slam face first into the ground with a loud resounding ‘GRUNT!’
Sheathing his knife he ran picking up the axe where it had fallen and stopped to look at the miserable creature that was now sitting on the ground holding its shattered ankle. As Hector moved towards it slowly, cautiously it made a vain attempt to swing its club.
Hector stood back and looked at the small pitiful creature, it looked even tinier on the ground than it had been in full flight, and it stunk, it smelt of urine and sweat as though it had never showered in its whole miserable life.
As he watched the creature started dragging itself back down the road from where it had come, always watching Hector, whimpering to itself as it slowly crawled away.
He did nothing but watch it for a good ten minutes, whimpering and sliding further and further away. When it was 300 yards down the road Hector turned back towards the Inn. Out the front he could see Lufa the innkeeper holding the reigns of the little pony, the brown cloak slouched down over the ponies neck.
‘Here Hector, what’s all this about’ yelled Lufa as he got a little closer.
‘I don’t know. Is that fellow alright? Maybe he can tell us’
‘Here give me a hand to get him inside. Sonia!’ a moment later Lufa’s daughter came to the Inn door.
‘Give us a hand here. Hector, take the pony round back, give it a brush down, check-it for injuries. When you’re done come inside. Don’t forget the wood’
‘Ok’ Hector took the reigns from Lufa and lead the horse to the rear of the inn. Never one to complain at the best of times, he most definitely did not begrudge Lufa for being so direct now.
His mind was still buzzing from what had just happened. He had never seen such a creature before, he wondered what it was. Nor had he ever thrown his axe in battle; that’s if he could call it a battle, not much of a battle really.
Tying the pony up he turned his attention to the task at hand; loosening the pony’s girth he noted a well-crafted saddle, an expensive horse blanket and a bridle to match. Whoever the rider they were not short of a coin.
Before he could lift the saddle from the ponies back he loosened the straps holding the hardened leather saddle bags noting that these too were very well crafted, these things alone would be worth more than anything Hector had seen before.
After he had slung the saddle, blanket, and bags over the yard railing he turned his attention to the little pony. From what he could tell it had been running for a while as it’s sweat had tried leaving large white powdery stains around where the saddle blanket and girth straps had been against its body.
Beyond this though, the pony, now calm after it’s ordeal looked none the worse for wear. Hector pulled down one of Lufa’s best horse combs and gave the little pony a good brush down, made sure the trough was full of fresh water and threw some fresh hay on the ground for the pony to eat.
Hector grabbed all of the gear, figuring it would not last long if he left it out on the yard fence and took it to the Tack room. Slinging the saddlebags over his shoulder he returned to the wood heap filled his arms with wood and made his way into the inn.