The man approaching the cottage in the high meadow that sat in the side of the Lotharingian mountains looked to be a hunter. His heavy hooded cloak shielded him from the icy cold wind although there was no sign that the man was in any way bothered by the late autumn chill. A smattering of snow was here, hardly enough to warrant mentioning. The man carried a great crossbow made of oak and dark steel. On his back was a great axe that was as useful for felling a tree as it was beheading a wild boar. There was a sense of dread that prefaced the hunter’s arrival, and everyone in the cottage could feel it as if a foreboding notion had settled over them like a heavy wet blanket.
There was a small group of people just outside the cottage, building a fire to keep warm while their comrades rummaged around inside the small alpine abode. The first to sense the arrival of the hunter was a kobold, warmly dressed and still thoroughly miserable in the crisp mountain air. He tapped the shoulder of one of the others in the group, and one by one they looked up. Upon seeing the hunter approaching they rose to their feet and placed their hands warily on their weapons.
The kobold boldly stepped forward and said in his high-pitched voice, “What do you want here? We’ve no time for riddles or games.”
Without slowing his approach the hunter said in a low tone, almost too softly to be heard clearly, “You’ve no time for anything, squire. Your lord is running out of time chasing a red herring.” The hunter walked to within ten feet of the group outside of the cottage, and then stopped. He set the crossbow down into the mushy ground on its steel cocking stirrup and said, “Tell your lord that help has arrived. I believe I might have a tempting offer for him.”