I stick around long enough to learn that “Sir” is Ser Bruce, a man with red hair that dons a faded purple cloak every time he complains of a draft. This has to be the man I’m looking for, so I remain, watching and waiting, until an opportunity to get closer arrives. Until then, I can’t help but notice two things. One, that Slim remains in one chair just out of sight for the remainder of our time at the lodge. He occasionally speaks and others bring him food and water to drink, and change his chamber pot, but he does not leave the chair. Two, the lodge is littered with weapons, spears, bows, and most importantly, an axe always within reach of Ser Bruce.
Two days after I arrive, early in the morning, some commotion raises my hackles. Several men in the party saddle their horses, and Ser Bruce walks out into the cold and crisp morning air, shouting at the rest of his group that they are to mount up, as they have a long day riding east ahead of them. Castle Snownook and Jasper lands are east…I can’t let him hunt down another innocent person.
I follow the party from not far behind as their shaggy horses carefully pick their way down the mountain path until we reach an intersection. I’m not sure if the gods have blessed or cursed me when I see the House Jasper party reaching the intersection at the same time. The two groups speak for a few minutes, and there is palpable tension in the air. I creep closer, perched on higher ground, and get close enough to notice subtle but knowing glances among all of House Jasper’s riders. Ser Bruce confirms he’s going hunting but refuses to divulge what exactly he’s hunting for, which tips Clink over the edge. He explodes, shouting, “we know who you are!” Ser Bruce is visibly confused, opening the door for me to descend from above.
I pounce from the stony ledge and sink my teeth into Ser Bruce’s neck, shaking him back and forth, spraying my fur with blood. The shock and horror is clear in his eyes and he screams “rabid dog!” as he pulls his battle axe to swing at me. It hits, but I’m surged with adrenaline and leap at him again, this time, mostly getting a mouthful of fur. I am relieved to see House Jasper charge towards us from twenty yards away as Teddy yells “I bet you eat your victim’s heads too!” raising his long sword above his head. As an arrow from Ser Darron whizzes past us, I fully realize the damage Ser Bruce has imparted on me with only a moment to decide whether to run or continue to fight….