As Byrna runs, carrying her sister with her, Beltran pursues. Slower on his feet, yes, and clad in heavy iron, but persistent. He carries his spear with him, seemingly unbothered by his crime. Their father’s blood drips from the spearhead.
In case her brother decides to cast his spear at them, Byrna runs side to side, evading potential attacks, and rushes to the main settlement. It might be safer there, she thought.
Of course, everyone there knew that Byrna was a conceited young woman, and nobody liked her for it, but surely they would keep her from a murderer?
Well, perhaps not if the murderer is her brother, who might turn his spear on them as well.
So Byrna runs to the house of Tristran Siggry, the Houndmaster, whose dogs are ambivalent towards her, and he himself seems to tolerate her well enough. Tristran was the strongest in town after Beltran left. While Byrna still believed that Beltran could overpower anyone she knew, perhaps Tristran and his hounds stood a fair chance against him. She runs with Bastra in tow, not even daring to look back at Beltran.
The door is locked when she arrives, and Byrna curses. Setting Bastra down and trying to catch her breath, Byrna pounds at the door, but not for long. If Tristran is there, he will have heard her and would open the door. If not, she’ll have to run even further.
Of course, there’s the chance that she could end things now. Or, at the very least, slow him down. Pushing Bastra behind her, Byrna draws her bow, nocks an arrow, and takes a deep breath. Byrna should’ve done this the moment she saw Beltran sitting at the table. Better his blood than their father’s in her opinion.
Byrna grits her teeth and swears under her breath. No time to sit and aim. She can liken him to a rabid beast all she wants, but she can’t lie in wait and aim her shot.
She looses the arrow.
[Clash. Challenge Dice: 4, 8. Action Die: 6 (+3 Edge) = 9. Strong hit.]
And the arrow flies true, striking Beltran between neck and shoulder. He’s not felled so easily, but his blood sprays and his spear drops. Beltran makes no cry of pain. He’s built tougher than that, and even tougher after his time in the Veiled Mountains.
Byrna allows herself a smile of satisfaction. What pain the arrow had given Beltran, what blood he had spilled, wasn’t nearly enough to repay their father’s blood or their stolen wealth, but it was a start.
Bastra shakes her out of her little reverie of revenge, tugging on her hand. And then Byrna turns her head to notice that Tristran had opened the door, with his hounds at his heel. A long-faced, broad-chested man who somehow manages to smell like a field of wildflowers even after caring for hounds all day, he was probably the closest Byrna had to a friend.
She pushes her way inside, and Bastra follows, neither of them stopping to regard Tristran or his precious hounds.
“Lock your door, and bar it!” Byrna shouts “My brother’s back, he just killed our father!”
“And he’s coming to kill us next!” Bastra adds, giving word to the unspoken suspicion.
Tristran, although taken aback by all of this dark news, shuts and secures his door without hesitation. With a whistle, he sets two of his largest hounds to guard it, and with another, a third hound brings him his axe.
“That was him? The man you shot, wearing all that iron?” Tristran asks.
“Of course,” Byrna responds, “Who else?”
“My hounds are strong, and their teeth are sharp, but their jaws cannot pierce iron,” he snaps, “What do you expect me to do to him? Wrestle him? Even my axe will do little against him.”
“I caught his shoulder, his good shoulder. He can’t fight with his weak arm, not as well.”
“What difference is his weak arm to a man as mighty as he is?”
“Then wrestle him for all I care! It was your suggestion! You and your hounds can take down boars and bears, surely you can handle Beltran!”
“Look at him, Byrna! He’s clad in iron, he’s killed most every wyvern in the Tempest Mountains, and he’s lived to kill even your father. Open the window, and see!”
Tristran says, throwing the window open.
But when all three and some hounds besides peer out, Beltran is nowhere to be found. There’s nowhere for him to hide either, nowhere that the hounds wouldn’t have smelled him at least.
“Look there!” Bastra shouts, pointing at the trail of blood that Beltran had left behind.
From the place where he was shot, it does not lead towards the house. Instead, it seems as if Beltran turned back the way he came.
“Coward,” Byrna spits, “Craven, and a killer besides. If he goes to lick his wounds as a wolf, I’ll hunt him down as one.”
And with that, Byrna turns and slams the door open, rushing out without a care and already readying another shot. Tristran and Bastra run after her, in case she’s running right into danger.
But none of them spot Beltran, not even when they turn their eyes towards the woods where he ran to.
And then they find themselves turning their eyes towards the sky. Out of the woods of the Hinterlands, a wyvern flies up, and Byrna points her arrow towards it. She had never seen one before this day, but they were just as her father had described. Snapping jaws, dull scales, and great beating wings, a fearsome beast that few have killed, or even brought to the ground.
And as it rises, the morning sun illuminates bloodstained iron. Beltran’s spear and armour. He sits atop the wyvern, and seems to direct it any which way he pleases. With a shouted, indecipherable command, he directs the wyvern north, away from Boarwood.
As Beltran and his wyvern turn north, Byrna is struck by a thought. Yes, few people have slain a wyvern, but if her father could do it, and if her brother could do it, what’s to say that Byrna can’t? They were of the same flesh and blood.
So before Beltran and his wyvern can escape and go behind the reach of her arrow, Byrna fires.
[Clash. Challenge dice: 9, 3. Action Die: 5 (+3 Edge) = 8. Weak hit.]
The arrow sails through the morning, and tears through one of the wyvern’s wings. After a heartbeat, the wyvern releases terrible, shrill screech, heard even by the rest of the people in Boarwood. They turn their eyes towards the wretched sound and gasp, pointing in awe at the sight of the man and wyvern.
But, just as Beltran was not stopped by her arrow, neither is the wyvern. Both of them may leave a trail of blood, but they make their escape all the same.
Byrna has failed.
She has prided herself all these years on her shooting, saying that she can fell anything with but a single arrow. She is wrong.
She has touted herself as her family’s provider and defender, with her father aging, her mother dead, and her brother gone. And now her father joins her mother in the grave, and Beltran runs away yet again.
Byrna doesn’t reigster the mutterings of the people, nor the baying of Tristran’s hounds as he sends them to catch the trail, nor Bastra running back home to see if their father is still alive, by any slim chance.
All she knows right now is that her brother has taken everything from her yet again.
And again, she couldn’t stop him.