They tried to smuggle corpses.
The fools cut across my land after a January snowstorm. One of my dogs, Claudia, was out and about when she heard the men and their dog team. She followed them for a spell, and when they paused to let the dogs rest, she crept up and found out who they were.
One of the dogs in the team told her they were captives, hauling the bodies of their former masters and mistresses back to the Hollow. They and their humans had been living free on a farm in New Hampshire when the hunters from their own Cross had found them. The fight had been brief and brutal, their humans not knowing the ways of violence. The corpses, Claudia was told, would be brought back to feed the elders of their Cross. The dogs would die soon after.
To me, that sounded like a poor idea.
I took my Spencer with me and followed Claudia until we picked up the trail. Once we did, she ran ahead to scout out the men and to see what sort of pace they were keeping.
It wasn’t a quick one.
The dogs were going slow, and I didn’t blame them. With death hanging over their heads, there was no need for them to hurry.
It didn’t take long for me to get ahead of them, and when I did, I found a good spot to fire from. By the time I was dug in and hidden, the men and dogs were coming into view.
I fired a single shot into a fir tree not ten feet from the first man.
As the echo rolled through the trees, the men and dogs looked for where the shot came from.
“Stay where you are,” I called, my voice loud in the cold air.
The men did so, their heads slowly focusing on my location.
“What do you want?” the lead man asked. “Clearly, we’re not armed. We’re just passing through.”
“I want the dogs,” I answered. “Let them go, and you can move along.”
The man laughed. “Let the dogs go? No, I think not. They’re mine by right of conquest. I suppose you’ll want the bodies, too?”
“No,” I replied. “There’s no shortage of bodies about. There is, however, a lack of good dogs. Cut ‘em free, or I will.”
“Come and cut ‘em free then,” the man called back.
I fired the Spencer twice and dropped both men.
I stood up and went to cut the dogs free.