The forest trail was silent, not that Myra Ashdown was surprised. This so far into the wilderness, the only other souls she was like to encounter were brigands, or, perhaps worse, a rampaging troll. However, since the sounds of snapping branches and throaty roars did not echo through the trees, nor had she encountered anything of true interest, she wagered that her guide had been correct in that this path was relatively safe. Recent rains had muddied the dirt of the trail, making it difficult for Myra's horse to move with any haste as its hooves sank into the earth with every step. For three days, the road that wound around Gradun - the massive mountain peak that dominated the center of Bridgewood - had become worse and worse as it branched further and further into the wild. Cobbled roads had turned into well-packed dirt, well-packed dirt into narrow trails. "Why even bother, 'eh?" She patted the horse's neck. "Who knows how long that bounty's been there, might've been claimed by now, and I'm just wasting time enjoying some damned worthless scenery." The horse, as if to acknowledge Myra's statement, snorted and whisked its tailed. Knowing her luck, Myra would arrive at where this "bandit lord" had been rumored to be to find that the "fearsome, one-eyed half-ogre Earbiter" either did not exist, had been killed and the bounty lost, or was just a lone commoner inflating his own reputation. If it was the latter, she would just as well return home than attempt to explain why the presumed half-ogre looked alarmingly similar to a human. Perhaps the Cawold family would spare her a few silvers for the effort, but that hardly equated to the promised sum of five hundred crowns. The sudden rustling of leaves tore Myra from her own self-pity. In an instant, her hand lashed out, snatched her scabbard from where it lay across the back of her saddle. The quiet scuff of steel against leather boomed through the trail and she drew the blade and examined her surroundings. Overhead, a crow cawed and flapped from its perch to another tree. Myra muttered a curse, sheathed her sword, and tucked it away once more. "Glad one of us is watching out," she grunted, nudging the horse onward. --- By the time Myra's horse had managed to traverse through another two miles of soft mud, the sun beamed directly overhead. She had reached the fork in the road her guide had warned her of: one wound through a river valley and back onto the main road, the other took her directly to the decrepit border fort Earbiter and his band occupied. The prospect of fending off a half-ogre, in addition to whatever other underlings at his disposal, had been a daunting one, one Myra had cast aside upon deciding to look into the bounty posting. The reality of the situation dawned upon her as she tied her horse to a sturdy tree branch off of the trail, preparing to take her midday meal before pressing on. One issue at a time. First you find the oaf. Still, Myra mulled over the predicament as she tore into a loaf of crusty, stale bread and salted deer cooked the night before (she was no skilled woodsman, but she had brought a short bow along for the particularly easy kills). About to saddle up and continue her journey, Myra halted as the distant plod, plod, plod of feet through mud sounded further down the trail. Her gaze darted to her horse, contentedly munching on a patch of tall grass, blissfully unaware of the noise. Useless.