Obscuring the Heart(Part 19)

I took a deep breath as Shadowsplinter glided above the clouds. I had talked to Phillip hardly two days earlier, telling him I wanted to try my hand at becoming a bounty hunter. He had taken me under his wing and talked to me for hours on end telling me all about some of the finer details of being a hunter.

Some of his hunting buddies came in and added to wealth of knowledge I was being served too.

I was given a handful of ‘easier’ leveled wanted posters and was sent back out into the world to try to find them.

The wanted posters were divided up into four main categories.

There was ‘easier’ which was for beginners, or people just looking for easy money. These were some people who were wanted for minor reasons: burglary, slaughtering a herd of animals that didn’t belong to them, stealing ships and heavy fishing equipment. Because they were wanted for relatively minor things their bounties reflected it, hardly going over 500 gold.

Phillip and his friends sent me on these so I could get a feel for how hunting worked for myself before I went for any bigger game.

Then there was ‘intermediate’ grade. These people were considered dangerous and violent. Norman the Nimrod had been in this category. These people were wanted for a variety of things, as this was where most people were placed: heavy theft, assaults, rapes, burning of villages, kidnapping, etc. Phillip wanted to give me some of those posters because he knew I could take care of myself, but his friends convinced him otherwise.

It didn’t matter how good you were in regular combat or when it came to tracking, bounty hunting was a class all its own and the skills had to be learned and honed by the user themselves. They tried to impart as much wisdom and advise as they could on me, but we all knew the only way I could learn was to go out there myself and try.

The third level was ‘dangerous’. This was where things got tough. Serial murders, full blown slave traders, pirates, mercenaries, even corrupt viking chiefs were not exempt from this. These were the ones most likely to give a hunter the most trouble and even managed to gain the upper hand on them and kill them. Their bounties reflected this though, easily reaching the tens of thousands in gold.

Then we get to the ‘S’ ranked. These were the worst of the worst. Only the strongest, most cunning, most skilled hunters even dared to try their hand at capturing them. Usually wanted posters dictated they wanted them alive, or dead or alive. A lot of the time, what I saw with these anyway, was they were wanted dead. These seemed to be the people who were the heads of large, illegal organizations, or were just really bad people who others were willing to pay an arm and a leg for them to be out of the picture. This was also reflected with their bounties reaching hundreds of thousands of gold, sometimes more. I was warned to stay away from these as much as possible until I was entirely confident when dealing with the ‘dangerous’ ranked targets.

I was happy for the help though. I wouldn’t have known where to start or what to do. But they were great, telling me the best places to go to for information, taverns were usually the best place, and the serving staff and bar keeps were always keeping their ears out for any sort of information that wasn’t the usual crops and fish which they were happy to share… for a price.

I adjusted the scarf part of my cloak that would keep my face covered and reached into my belt pouch for a wanted poster.

I wanted to keep my face and gender askew so that nothing would eventually make its way back to Berk or Outcast Island, and so I could be taken seriously.

I knew from experience that a little girl, like myself, was rarely if ever considered to be dangerous or a serious threat and was often times belittled or overlooked in places of interest. I didn’t want that to happen here.

I had managed to gather enough information in my first two days and had located my target. He had taken up residence on a little farming island, easy enough to access and probably easy enough to find him.

My target was a thief by the name of Bjorn the Bludgeon. An odd name for a little, stick of a man who the poster presented him as. But I knew from experience that the little guys were the ones to watch the most, they were always easily overlooked for their larger counterparts making them even more dangerous.

I smiled to myself and rolled the parchment back up, tucking it away in my belt pouch.

We would get there soon, and I would try my hand at it.

I felt my heart rate increase and I took a few deep breaths to try to steady myself. I wasn’t nervous. I had been into battle too many times for something like this to effect me this harshly.

I was excited. My adrenaline had been stagnant too long, my blood was finally pumping. The fire in my soul was reignited.

I was once again the predator I was forged to be.