Hunter heard the old skald telling his stories to the children of the tec. He had noticed that the man liked to test out new material on the young, sharpening it with a few trial tellings to those young ears before he presented it to the tec at large.
Hunter had decided that this was a wise practice and something good he would carry away from an otherwise frosty relationship with Barnen. Hunter was happy about being back in the warmth of Winter-hold. He’d gone a bit mad alone in the wild. Things were good, for the most part, Hunter had one enemy however, and that was Barnen the Skald.
The old man was focused on his audience and didn’t notice Hunter, “OH, the man was fae, no doubt of that, and most likely mad, but he could sing like a bird, play harp even better, and I can confirm what you’ve heard, he talked to the elves. The children’s eyes were as big as saucers.
“How did yo meet him?” a bold little boy in front asked.
“Oh that?” Why I was telling the Rig a tale in the great hall, it was the black of night and the wind was howling. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! there was a fierce pounding on the door.
“More and more interesting,” thought Hunter, “he’s turning the children against me having failed with the adults. Hunter Wilde slipped back into shadow.
Barnen was warming to his tale. Each time he said boom the children jumped, “Boom, Boom, Boom went the door like a war drum, Old Lars fell off his chair getting to it before it got knocked in. Lars throws open the portal, Who knocks at portal of Murchadh, says he? The door swings wide and there stands a man, it seemed, twice the size of Bran the champion and white as snow!”
“Hunter Wilde ain’t even as big as Bran” said the boldest child.
“You’re right there, not half as big, but that snow giant in the doorway stepped once, and again, and fell flat on his face! By that time, Lars was back with the axe he’d forgot in his hurry to open the door. But by then there was nothing but a big pile of snow on floor so Lars shrugs and shuts the door.”
There was a buzz among the children, Barnen drew there attention back with a flourish. “It was warm in the Tec, a fire roaring to keep out the chill, so it wasn’t long until the snow melted away and there on the floor. . .”
“Hunter Wilde?” the children chorused.
“Who knew? There was just a heap of rags. It was strange, a rag bag walking about, but strange things do happen. So a couple of slaves were going to pick through it when one thinks he sees a wee animal amongst the sodden rags. He reaches in and pulls on a tail, but instead of a fox, out comes Hunter Wilde!”
“Was that his beard?” the children laughed.
“No no,” said Barnen, “Hunter Wilde is most likely part elf himself and he can’t grow a proper beard at all, that’s why he wears a fox tail for a moustache.”
“And why he talks to elves?” a big eyed little girl asked.
“Oh no, that’s not why. Hunter is a strange one sure enough, but he serves a purpose. He’s too small for a warrior, he’s not so very smart either, but one thing he does do is he takes bad girls and boys with him and he gives them to the elves to teach them manners. So you better get off to bed or you’ll be liven in the trees and eating flowers and moss.”
“Come on Barnen, tell us more. . .”
Hunter stepped out of the shadows behind the Skald letting his last two footfalls thump hard on the floor, “Who’s hungry for flowers and moss!” he shouted. The children shrieked and ran for their beds.”
Barnen, the old skald laughed, glancing back at Hunter he said, “I never liked you Hunter Wilde, I’m glad you’re going, but I expect we’ll be old friends when you’re gone.”