Blow that Bugle Again, and You’ll be Walking Funny for a Month

Hunts in civilized lands are formal, majestic activities that hinge as much on ceremony as they do on actually hunting the designated prey. Often times, depending on the quarry, the outcome is predetermined. In fact, the hapless animal being hunted can be planted in a designated place, or released so that the “hunters” have something to chase.

In Slothjemia, however, hunts mean something entirely different. The swamps of the Coreland are wild and unforgiving venues for these violent interactions, and they nearly always go horribly wrong. This is partly due to there being few things to hunt that are not themselves considered to be apex predators. Black dragons are no longer found in the Coreland, except as the trained variants used by the military. But there are still vordgots, dire wolves, several types of toxic snakes, dracolisks, manticores, and of course, will o’ wisps. Whatever it is, you can be damned sure that nobody is going to be blowing a bugle to announce the presence of the hunters.

Deer and boars are also hunted, but the emphasis in the Coreland has always been to go after the tougher targets. There are also a number of dangerous fish to be had in the swamps, some vicious and large enough to devour those that seek to catch them. There is nothing remotely relaxing about fishing in the wilds of the Coreland, and it is the element of risk to these activities that have given huntsmen their coveted status as warriors, trackers, trappers, and survival experts.

The only beasts hunted purely for their eggs and young offspring are the vordgots. These long-limbed “demon lizards” have dragon-like tails, long serpentine necks, and long, sword-like teeth and claws. They have no wings, and are often referred to as false dragons. But they can run at incredible speeds, and have a savage, single-minded killer instinct to slay and devour anything it considers food. The eggs and young are coveted by the army, who use them as heavy cavalry mounts. Their use in battle is mixed, as they have a tendency to attack everything and everyone (including their riders), when they get excited. Despite their unpredictability, the army pays a handsome price for every viable egg they are given. This is the manner by which many huntsmen become wealthy, and anyone that earns a living hunting vordgot eggs can be counted on to be a steadfast combatant.

Visitors to the Coreland will want to be wary of anyone offering adventure in the form of a hunt. You aren’t going after a caged fox, released minutes earlier and chased down by hounds. You are going after something determined to eat your face, and if you aren’t back in three weeks time, the villagers are going to divide up your belongings and light a candle for your immortal soul. And should you fall victim to, and become, a will o’ wisp, then you are now the prey. Good luck with that.

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