Leatherfoot Tales: The Houndslayer, Part Two   Leave a comment


his part of the Leatherfoot Tales relates how Gumpy Nattoo received the name “Houndslayer” during the Age of Turmoil.
After meeting up with the Kithicor ranger in the woods, Gumpy felt his luck had changed. For one thing, the ranger shared his rations generously. For another, they were heading back to Rivervale. Since the Sarge had only said the test to become a Leatherfoot Brigade scout involved finding his way home, and never mentioned whether Gumpy might take help where he found it, Gumpy knew he’d get into the scout unit without trouble. What a great day this was turning out to be!

The other Kithicor rangers were much like the lad who had found Gumpy in the woods. They dressed simply and with little adornment other than having ivy etched on every article of clothing, armor and upon the hilts of their weapons. Gumpy found that the ivy theme carried even unto their undergarments, which discovery he made entirely by mistake by stepping off the narrow path and coming across one of the rangers who was, as they said in Rivervale, “contemplating life.”

The rangers were a jolly bunch, if silent, and Gumpy felt completely at home. They treated Gumpy squarely as though he were one of them. When they encountered any enemies, Gumpy was allowed to protect the rear of the unit quite valiantly. It was during one of these times that Gumpy found himself face to face with a large hound that looked as though it hadn’t eaten in days. In fact, it looked pretty enraged.

“Nice hound. There’s a good puppy,” croaked Gumpy, trying the technique which had always worked for him in the past when he delivered mail in the Misty Thicket. The hound was not taken in by his cheerful demeanor and circled around, fangs bared. Gumpy glanced over his shoulder. It sounded like the Kithicor rangers had not finished off the undead attackers; he was on his own.

The hound pounced and Gumpy dodged. He drew his weapon (a nice, ivy-etched gladius that one of the rangers gave him) and circled around again, keeping his face toward his adversary. Between encouraging the hound to “be a good pup” Gumpy found himself dodging more and more frequently. Where were those Kithicor rangers now that he really needed them?

With a snarl, the dog lunged forward and closed his jaws around Gumpy’s left arm. Surprised and in pain, Gumpy whacked the dog on the top of its snout with the pommel of the gladius, which caused it to release its grip. Blood began to seep out of the puncture wounds the dog’s fangs had made in his arm, soaking through his leather sleeves. Gumpy growled fiercely, “No dog bites Gumpy Nattoo and lives to tell about it!”

Crying aloud, Gumpy lunged at the dog, stabbing it with his gladius. If the hound had seemed enraged earlier, its anger was nothing compared to Gumpy’s. Despite its protective cover of thick, matted fur, the hound was staggered by the force of Gumpy’s blows. As it leaned to correct its balance, Gumpy lunged again and stuck the gladius directly into the hound’s neck, slaying it instantly.

Standing over the dead dog, Gumpy was filled with remorse; this could have been some poor child’s pet simply gone astray in the woods. And now it lay lifeless before him on the narrow ranger path. Rangers! He better not have lost them! Turning quickly around, Gumpy found himself face to the ivy-etched breastplate of a Kithicor ranger.

“Well done, Gumpy!” the ranger said in amazement, calling for his comrades. They crowded around Gumpy and the dead dog, patting him on the back and honoring his achievement. “Tweren’t nothing but an angry hound,” muttered Gumpy in embarassment, “Any halfling could’ve done it in.”

“Listen to his modesty; he calls the enraged dread wolf a mere hound!” cried the ranger squad leader. “Brave are the halfling warriors with whom we shall work!” Patting Gumpy on the shoulder, the leader continued, “I name you ‘Houndslayer’ for you have single-handedly killed a beast of great power.” “Houndslayer,” said Gumpy thoughtfully. “I like the sound of that.”

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