Fiswyn and I met Joffre early the next morning and he led us eastward out of town to his farm. When we arrived at Joffre’s farm he ran over to an open gate in the fence that surrounded the garden yelling that they had gotten in and destroyed his garden again this morning after he had left to come get us. Even more interesting, according to Joffre, he had double checked the crossbar on the gate this morning to insure all was locked down tight but somehow the boars had still managed to remove the crossbar and open the gate. I checked the fresh tracks in the area and confirmed that they were boar tracks, probably four boars although one set of tracks was a bit larger than the other three.
We decided that if Joffre was around, the boars would not come back so we scouted around a bit for someplace that Fiswyn and I could hide while we sent Joffre back toward town. A forest surrounded the farm, and only a short distance to the west of the fenced in garden was the edge of it. I decided I would go into the forest and perch high in a tree where I could watch the garden without being seen. Fiswyn was going to hide in the nearby barn. We headed away from the farm toward town but left Joffre a short way down the road and circled back toward the farm quietly. I climbed my tree and caught a quick glimpse of Fiswyn as he darted into the barn.
It was only a short wait before four boars appeared at the edge of the forest on the east side of the farm. As the boars approached the farm they came alongside the barn where Fiswyn was hiding and suddenly stopped, squealed, and retreated back into the forest. Somehow they had discovered Fiswyn was there. I quickly climbed down from the tree and headed back over to the farm to discuss what had happened and what we should try next.
Now knowing that we were dealing with some very skittish boars, we decided to see if we could track them back to their lair but we needed to insure that they didn’t know we were coming. I cast my Hide from Animals spell on Fiswyn and myself and we headed into the woods following the boar tracks. Not far into the woods we came across a small stream and the boar tracks ended. The boars had either gone upstream or downstream. I had a strong feeling that they had gone upstream so we set off in that direction to see if we could find any location where the boars had exited the stream.
As we walked along the stream we came across a dead animal, a porcupine, killed by an arrow with the markings of a hunter or hunting party, not beast like orc or goblin. It appeared to have been killed maybe a day or two ago. Who would kill a porcupine and worse, not take it for food or hide but leave it to rot where it lay? This was very disturbing to me and I thought this might be worth coming back to investigate further once we found the boars. I said a short prayer to Ehlonna for the porcupine and we headed on up the stream. A little while further we came across another dead animal. This one had been dead for at least a week and it was hard to tell what type of animal it was but it was killed by another arrow with the same markings as the arrow used against the porcupine. I would definitely have to find the owner of these arrows and put a stop to this useless slaughtering of Ehlonna’s creatures. Again, I said a short prayer to Ehlonna for this animal and we started upstream again.
Just a few paces upstream from the second dead animal, I found the boars tracks again and we headed off east after them. After a short time the tracks headed up a small rocky slope and were soon lost in the hard rocks but after some careful studying I was able to pick up the tracks a short way further east and we set off again heading off into a wooded area that soon led to a large clearing in the trees that contained a lake of equal size. In the center of the lake was a small island where the four boars were scurrying about.
As we approached the edge of the lake, the larger of the four boars came down to the edge of the water, looked directly at me, grunted and scrapped the ground with its front hoof. I knew I was still under my Hide from Animals spell so I thought it coincidental that the boar looked directly at me. I moved about ten feet to one side and the large boar followed me with his head and eyes. It wasn’t coincidental; he could see me, but how?
The large boar then turned and headed to the top of the small island and rooted around in what appeared to be a small nest or bed. He picked up something in his mouth and then came back down to the edge of the island and dropped it as if to offer it to me. It looked like an arrow.
After a minute or two, obviously not getting the reaction he had hoped for, the large boar went back up to the top of the island and laid down in his nest. I started to feel a bit frustrated that we were getting nowhere with these boars. If we tried to swim out to the island, it could be disastrous as boars can swim really well if they chose to attack us or they may just swim to the other side and run into the woods. Even if we could make it to the island without the boars leaving, it would still be too small an area with no chance of our escape if the boars attacked us. I decided I would climb a tree and attempt to shoot one of the smaller boars with an arrow. If this provoked an attack, I would be ready to defend myself from the tree where the boars could not reach me. However the boars had shown no hostility toward me so I didn’t want to kill the boar, at least not yet.
I told Fiswyn what I had planned so that he would be ready just in case they decided to charge across the water toward us. I climbed up a nearby tree, took careful aim to just graze one of the smaller boars and released the arrow. The arrow flew straight and true across the lake but inches before reaching the small boar the arrow suddenly dropped and stuck in the ground. The island was protected. The boar that I was aiming at jumped and squealed as the arrow struck the ground in front of it, and it turned and ran across the island to the far side. The larger boar once again got up from his nest, came down to the water, grunted and scrapped the ground with its front hoof.
Fiswyn and I talked and decided that the boar was trying to tell us to come over to the island. Fiswyn also believed that since my arrow was unable to pass whatever magic barrier was protecting the island that any other weapons would not be able to pass either. I was not excited about the idea of going to the island unarmed so Fiswyn agreed to go first. He felt that, should anything happen, he could get back to the water, off the island and outside the magic barrier which would give me the opportunity to shoot anything that pursued him.
Fiswyn removed his rapier and his short bow and laid them on the ground, then cautiously entered the water and swam over to the island. After a short wait on the edge of the island with nothing happening, he slowly moved up the edge of the island and out of the water. The three smaller boars watched him but otherwise did nothing while the larger boar came down to greet him. The larger boar began sniffing Fiswyn as if smelling food and wanting to find it. Fiswyn took out some of his trail rations and offered it to the boar that quickly snatched them up and ate them. The boar turned and headed back up to his nest and Fiswyn followed him. He glanced around the larger boar’s nest and found a few odds and ends but nothing of real interest. As he was turning to come back down his eye caught something protruding from the center of the island. It was a small wooden marker of some sort with some odd markings, possibly writing. Yet the markings were not carved in the wood, more so that the wood had grown in such a way to produce the markings. Fiswyn studied the marker briefly and then headed back down the island and swam back over to where I was waiting.
Fiswyn told me what he had found and then started to tell me about an ancient legend that he had remembered when he saw the marker. The legend had been about a great ranger and when he died a shrine to him had been built on a small island deep in the forest.
Since it was clear that the boars were not going to harm Fiswyn, and that this could be the shrine of a great ranger, I removed my long sword, shield and long bow and swam out to the island. When I reached the island, the larger boar got up and came over to me and began sniffing me just like he did Fiswyn. I also took out a few trail rations and offered it to the boar. After quickly eating the rations the boar seemed as if he had something to tell me. I followed him up to his nest and he rooted around in it for a moment and then came out carrying a small charm on a leather cord and dropped it at my feet. I reached down and picked it up as the boar went back to his nest and come back with an arrow. When I looked back at the boar, he grunted, bit the arrow in half, and dropped it on the ground. He was clearly not very happy about the arrow. I picked up the arrow and looked at it. It was just like the other arrows that had killed the other animals that we found on the way here. I went up and looked at the shrine that Fiswyn had mentioned and noticed that the markings were writing and it read, “Dedicated in Life to Protect Gaia’s Children”. Now it all started to make sense.
I motioned to the larger boar that I understood that someone was attacking the creatures in the forest and that they were not happy about it. I tried to explain that I would resolve the problem and he seemed to understand me and I could tell that his mood lightened. I swam back across the lake to where Fiswyn was waiting and began to explain to him that the boars were upset that someone, the owner of this charm, probably Joffre, had been killing animals in the woods for sport and the boars were attacking the farm in retaliation.
We headed back to Joffre’s farm and then found Joffre to discuss what we had learned. He asked if we were able to track the boars and find their lair but we evaded the question and asked him if he ever did any hunting in the forest. He noticed the charm that I had and his face brightened as he exclaimed that we had found one of the items that the boars had stolen from him and asked again if we had found them. We asked again if he did any hunting and he told us that he hunts in the woods all the time. We then asked if he hunted for sport or if he only killed for necessity such as food and hide. Joffre explained that he frequently just heads out in the woods to practice his bow skill, shooting at any little creatures that move. I was appalled. It took most of my strength to keep me from attacking the man right then and there. I explained to Joffre that killing animals for sport was wrong. Animals have a place in society and should be respected for what they are. They can and do provide us with food, clothing and occasionally tools; that is their place. Needless killing, just for sport, was not tolerated and the forest animals, at least the boars, were seeking revenge for it.
Joffre just laughed, “Animals don’t seek revenge, at least not for other animals”, he said. He did not believe in the slightest that these boars were seeking revenge for killing other forest animals. Fiswyn and I tried to explain it in different ways but he just could not believe it. I felt that trying to explain to Joffre that the boars were acting on behalf of a higher power would just add to the “tale” and cause further disbelief. Finally, frustrated, I just told him to trust me and we turned and headed down the road.
As Fiswyn and I walked away from the farm we felt that there was no way that Joffre was going to believe us and stop killing the animals. We knew that something more was going to happen. Remaining hidden, we circled around to the east side of the farm and down the path that lead to the stream. Here, just before the stream and little back from the path, I climbed a tree and prepared to wait to see if Joffre would again set out into the forest to kill animals or to try and find the boars. Fiswyn went on, up the stream, through the rocks and to the lake with the island. There he found a nice place to hide out of sight of the path and waited.
Just as we expected, it wasn’t long before Joffre with his bow in hand, came strolling down the path toward the stream. As he passed, and following our previous tracks, turned upstream, I quietly climbed down from the tree and followed him. Unfortunately, Fiswyn and I didn’t try to hide our tracks like the boars did and so Joffre found them easy enough to follow straight to the clearing with the lake and island. As Joffre approached the island, he saw the boars milling around as they had earlier and raised his bow taking aim at one of the boars. As he did so, I stepped out from behind him, bow in hand, arrow nocked and trained on him, and told him that if he released his arrow, I would as well.
It took Joffre a good minute before he could process what was going and then he reluctantly lowered his bow. With an angry look, he turned toward me and demanded why I was threatening him and protecting these _boars _that were destroying his garden. I lowered my bow as well and then attempted again to explain what needed to be done.
I escorted Joffre back to his farm trying desperately to get through to this man. Some way down the path, Fiswyn had appeared from behind us and added to the conversation. As we arrived at the farm we were finally able to strike a deal. Joffre would give it two days. He would not go hunting for the boars or any other animal for sport. If the boars did not show up and destroy his garden in those two days, he would accept what we had been telling him. If the boars showed up and destroyed his garden again, I would take personal responsibility for it. It was not an easy deal for Joffre but since it had been quite a while that a day had not passed that the boars came, he felt in two days, the boars would come.
Again, just to be sure, remaining hidden, we circled around to the east side of the farm and down the path that lead to the stream. I climbed that same tree and prepared to wait to see if Joffre would again set out into the forest to kill animals or to try and find the boars. Fiswyn went on, up the stream, through the rocks and to the lake with the island and again found a nice place to hide out of sight of the path and waited.