Hunting the Margrawn
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So, you want to hunt the wild margrawn, eh? Good man, or whatever you might have the fortune to be. There is no greater adventure than a good margrawn hunt, save perhaps the fortunes of war or a rogue dragon hunt (rare in these days, as the new nine-crown king has his own methods of dealing with rogues). A true test of your strength, will, and choice of firearms, it separates the men from the boys, and quite often their heads from their shoulders.

I'm sure you're eager and excited to begin, but there are preparations to undertake first! First, take out a piece of paper. Now list all of your possessions, assets, and properties. Done? Good. With the help of a good barrister, use this list to draw up your will. Now you're prepared for the next step!

You'll need a guide for the Ravelwoods. I recommend hiring a battle of blackshirt crows. Not only do they know the woods quite well, but they work for carrion, which also takes care of cleaning up after your kills. Round out your party with a few tall, strong porters and a good field taxidermist. Even if you’re skilled in that area, you’ll want to have someone else concentrating on that task, for reasons I shall go into later.

Once you've arranged to meet your guides, it's time to supply yourself. Food will likely not be a great concern. If you are of an herbivorous persuasion (and why not? Why should carnivores have all the thrill of the hunt?), there are numerous edible plants all throughout the woods. Simply pick up a copy of Terenac Fuddler's Ravelwoods Plants: A Diner's Guide. If you're carnivorous, you'll find yourself hip deep in animals just tripping over your path in an effort to gore, maul, and otherwise devour you. Show them what's what and voila! Dinner is served.

My advice is to take as much ammunition as you, your pack animals, and your porters can carry. Which brings us to the next supply issue: Pack enough gun! Your weapon is your life, and you will want something that can drop a margrawn. I recommend the Wooster thirty calibre rifle. Some recommend a fifty calibre, but that ruins the pelt. You will also likely want a smaller calibre weapon for small game. After all, should you encounter a calamity of wyverns, you don’t want to damage those valuable crests.

Now that you're properly supplied, you will want to choose your entryway into the woods. Some recommend the Petwise Pathway, but I prefer the Bertani Shift. It opens much closer to the bowels of the woods, and nothing gets the blood flowing like a good attack by a barghest or a bodge. Once you’ve weathered these, you’ll have some idea of what the heartwoods are like.

Once you enter the woods themselves, you’ll want to keep your gun close to you at all times. Make certain to keep a guard out, you don’t want to get run over by a demonkith marmot or what have you.

As you move towards the centre of the woods, guided by your blackshirt guides, you’ll want to keep in mind some important safety tips. First of all, beware of bright colours in plants and animals. Quite often, these are warnings of poison. Of course, some creatures are merely bluffing, and are simply imitating animals that truly are poisonous. If you want to try and find out which ones, be my guest. Just don’t come crying to me when you’ve gone blind or your arm’s melted off.

Second, you’ll want to watch the marks on the trees. Many animals make marks on trees to mark their territory. Learn to recognize the marks of the more common animals, like deer, pegasi, and bears. If you find trees that have been splintered as though by a great force, it may be wise to alter your route and go around. If you find trees that have been uprooted, smashed to flinders, and then defecated upon, you’re getting close, and should by all means keep going.

Your first sign of the margrawn will likely be its spoor. The fumets of the margrawn are long and tubular in shape, a deep brown in colour, and have an extremely strong odour. Test the droppings to see if they are fresh. If they are cold all the way through, the beast passed through at least eight hours before. If the centre is still warm and moist, then it was around more recently, from four to eight hours, depending on the temperature and climate of that part of the woods. If you observe steam rising from them, you should be paying more attention to your surroundings, because it’s very near and about to kill you.

Most likely, however, you will hear the margrawn before it actually attacks, provided you are not caught alone. They will generally roar before attacking, so as to scatter prey. It will likely succeed, insofar as the crows and the pack animals will almost certainly do their best to flee. Let the crows do so; they can find you again soon enough. Let the porter’s concentrate on the pack animals. This is, after all, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the moment the margrawn strikes and you find out what you’re made of (often presented to you as the margrawn rips it from your body, before the shock quite kills you).

Don’t be fooled by the roar. It will not simply rush at your position after doing so. It will instead angle its path slightly to take you from the side. It knows it can move faster than you through the underbrush. After all, it doesn’t need to go around such mundane obstacles as trees, rocks, or small hillocks. The question will be whether it was the right or the left side. Fortunately, there’s a trick to this.

Female margrawns tend towards the right. Males tend towards the left. No one is quite sure why this is so, but it can work to your advantage. I hope you were paying attention to that roar! If it began low and rose in both volume and pitch, it is likely a male. If it remained at a constant pitch but rose and fell in volume, it is likely female. Set your eyes appropriately. Be ready to swing around in case you were mistaken.

Once it reveals itself, you must be ready to fire. You cannot count on it going for your porters or the pack animals first. They’re larger and probably moving at this point. You will appear the easiest target to the margrawn. It is now your duty to prove that it is mistaken.

Don’t try for a headshot. The bony covering on its head is extremely hard. It won’t stop a bullet, but it might deflect it. Besides, what kind of trophy will you have with that magnificent skull defaced? No, you’ll want to aim for its chest, as it runs towards you on its knuckles. Try to aim for the heart if at all possible. Shooting the lungs won’t kill it as quickly, but it will stop it all the same. Once it’s down, put a few more shots into its centre of mass. Wait a few minutes, and then shoot it again. It is now in all likelihood dead. Congratulations! You’ve now bagged your first margrawn!

However, you’re not out of the woods yet, either literally or figuratively. While margrawn always hunt alone, the clamour of the battle and the smell of blood will attract curious creatures to you very quickly. This is where your field taxidermist will come in handy. Have him field dress your margrawn while you and the porters (whom you will hopefully have armed appropriately) watch for dangerous beasts. When they attack, you may even get a few more trophies, depending on the enthusiasm of your porters and the time you have before it grows dark. With luck, you might not lose more than one or two porters and only half the pack beasts before your taxidermist has the margrawn ready to be moved to a more permanent camping site.

By all that you hold dear, you must be away from the scene of your kill before dark. That is when the dangerous animals come out.

Once you’re away from the heartwoods, and your battle of crows has returned, you may camp and finish preparing your trophies. The pelt makes a fine rug or perhaps a hunting suit for you and your favourite porter. The head should be mounted on the wall. Be careful when transporting it, the horns grow somewhat brittle after a few days, and may break.

Should you return to civilisation under your own power, rather than carried in a box by your porters (possibly a very small box), you’ll now be ready to show off your trophies at your favourite gentleman’s club. Well done!

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