Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 57

Welikro felt that he was going crazy. He had never imagined that turkeys and hares could be caught that way. He had made more than a hundred snares with Claude yesterday and split them into 14 groups, each having ten interconnected snares. They distributed them across the shrubs and grass growths and tied each 'chain' of snares to a large and firm tree. Claude even dropped some seeds on top of the snares.

This is a fool's errand, thought Welikro back then. But seeing how seriously Claude was making those snares, he felt bad for not helping. The two of them spent almost two hours to finish setting up all those traps. When Welikro was going to sleep, he wondered how he ought to comfort Claude once he found that the traps he expended so much effort to lay were useless.

That was why Welikro didn't bring up the snares at all when they were at school that day. He would go check on them secretly with Claude after their class. If there wasn't anything there, he resolved himself to help Claude hunt some hares or turkeys so that he wouldn't have to return home empty-handed.

Borkal asked Claude about his hunt yesterday, to which he replied that they only managed to shoot one hare. Claude did, however, bring up the traps he set himself and said that he would be checking them out after school.

That intrigued Eriksson and Borkal. The future captain didn't bother with his boat that was almost finished and insisted on going with them to expand his horizons as Claude confidently said that his snares would definitely be effective and there would be a great haul. He didn't notice Welikro's 'how-can-you-lie-with-a-straight-face' expression.

But reality proved Welikro wrong. The snares Claude set up weren't just useful, they were far too useful. Almost every snare caught something. There were five hares and four turkeys that were on their last breath, having been struggling to escape the snares for the whole night. They could do nothing but watch as the two-legged creatures came to claim their lives

Of the 14 groups of snares, apart from two that were untouched, three were damaged. Those three appeared to have caught on to prey, but were damaged when the prey managed a successful escape after a terrible struggle. The remaining nine snare groups didn't let Claude down and gave him nine preys.

Welikro looked at the gun in his hand and muttered, "If I knew how this was going to turn out, I wouldn't need to bring my gun any longer. I'd be making snares day and night when I have free time and the prey practically catch themselves overnight."

Borkal and Eriksson on the other hand squatted down to give a hand. THey removed the snares and tied the prey up with the ropes Claude brought. Every single animal no longer had the strength to struggle and allowed the two-legged creatures to tie them up.

"Claude, how did you learn to make snares like these?" asked Eriksson curiously.

Claude snickered. "This is one of the many benefits of reading. I remember reading a journal about an adventurer who traveled the continent and there was a chapter about an island north of the continent. When the people there catch seagulls, they put a large net on the sandy ground of the beach and scattered some small fish and shrimp there to use as bait. Since it was on the beach, the seagulls gladly flew down to enjoy the food. Some of the claws of the seagulls went through the net, trapping them in place. When they cried out, the people would rush over and capture the trapped seagull.

"Word of that got spread to the continent eventually by merchants, so some smart hunters tried to use the same way to catch migratory birds. They laid a net over a grassy or swampy land and there would always be a bird or two whose claws were caught up in it.

"But that was far from enough for the hunters as it cost quite a lot to do so. The nets would quickly be ruined from the struggles of the birds and it wasn't a worthwhile method for the hunters. Additionally, the birds began to learn their lesson after seeing their own kin captured and wouldn't approach after seeing net-like objects on the ground. The nets laid in forests would also frequently be ruined by large beasts.

"So some of the hunters tried to make a net-like trap called a chain snare to capture small animals like hares or turkeys and ended up getting huge hauls. There was a record of this story in the journal I read and it also taught me how to make those traps. So, I thought of experimenting yesterday and I didn't think it would really work like it did in the book. These snares are really useful against turkeys and hares."

Hey, you didn't say you were experimenting yesterday! You made them in such a practised manner and that's why I decided to help you! Welikro felt his balls itch; it was a saying he learned from Claude but he felt that this was appropriate for the situation.

"Oh, Claude, are you going to set these traps again today?" asked Welikro.

"Hmm..." Claude gave it a moment's thought and looked at the animals he caught. "SInce it's still early, let's set up more. However, we can't set them up at the same spot. Leave the two groups of untouched snares as is. We'll head further down, at least over the hill in front of us. We must go as far from here as possible."

As a result, the four of the, walked for quite a distance. When Claude saw the hilly area before him, he finally nodded. "Let's set them up here. There are lots of shrubs and bushes here and we'll definitely get even more than we did today."

They started looking for vines to make snares with.

"Why aren't you making them using the rope you brought? They're tougher than vines, right?" asked Eriksson.

"If I use rope, the critters will avoid them," Claude explained, "Don't think that the animals are that stupid. Even though they aren't nearly as smart as humans, their instincts are sharp. Snares made of rope don't fit in with the environment. The animals can easily pick up on it and avoid them."

Claude then held up a vine snare and said, "This snare is made from vine we found here. Even if we put a bunch of them together in with the shrubs, the animals won't find them odd it in the slightest. They'll think that the vines just fell from the shrubs or were growing on the ground to begin with and walk over them without hesitation. When their legs get caught up in them, the snares will tighten the further they move away from it. WHen they notice that, they'll speed ahead in a panic and end up using up all their energy, letting us capture them with ease."

The four of them working together allowed them to deploy more than 40 groups of snares around the area. Most of them were set up inside shrubs. Claude checked every single one of them before scattering some feed and earth over them. The feed was used as bait and the earth was used to cover up any traces of human scent.

"Alright, let's head back. We'll know how big our haul is when we come back tomorrow," said Claude with his hands on his waist. He had to kneel down to check so many traps that he was incredibly worn out.

Claude pointed at the animals on the ground and said, "Take some for yourselves. One turkey and hare each, how's that?"

Borkal shook his head. "Claude, this is the result of your and Wero's hard work yesterday. You should be splitting this with him. We'll get our own share tomorrow if we manage to catch some."

CLaude rolled his eyes and said, "Come on, we're friends. We'll split what we have now and tomorrow is another matter. I can't eat them all anyway if I bring them back home. What do you say, Wero?"

Welikro replied, "You decide. I have a few of these smoked at home and I'm already sick of eating them. I don't mind giving some away."

Borkal laughed and said, "No, Claude, don't you know that the owner of the old tavern, Pjard, is buying turkeys at a high price? He wants live ones and you can sell these four to him."

"What is he paying for each?" asked Claude.

"One riyas. Maybe two more sunars, it depends."

"He only wants turkey? Does he want hares?"

"Probably," Borkal said uncertainly, "Last I checked, he was paying some mountain folk at the back of the tavern for a hare and a turkey caught by hunting dogs. As the turkey was still alive, he bought it for one riyas, but he didn't want the dead hare. The mountain folk said that he would even sell it for three sunars, but Pjard insisted on live ones rather than dead ones."

Three sunars for a hare was more or less three bucks. A turkey on the other hand could be sold for ten bucks. That price disparity was almost too much.

Claude looked at Welikro, who understandingly said, "Then let's sell it. Borkal's right, we'll split our catch tomorrow."

So, the four of them spent an hour leaving the forest and happened to bump into a carriage heading into town. Borkal used a rabbit to pay for the ride to the old tavern.

Pjard was acquainted with Claude. Even though they didn't talk much, they had met each other a few times before.

What made Pjard wonder was how Claude managed to catch those animals. They didn't seem to be caught by hunting dogs. Even though Claude and Welikro wore their guns on their backs, the animals didn't seem to have gunshot wounds. They looked fine, if not a little fatigued.

"How about this, one riyas for each turkey and four sunars for each hare," said Pjard.

This time, it was Borkal's turn. He called the offer insincere and dishonest when he told Pjard about the time he saw him buy the turkey from a mountain folk. Pjard later admitted that he had made an honest mistake in conflating perfectly fine animals with those caught and injured by hunting dogs, so he raised his offer by one sunar for each animal as an apology.

Claude agreed to the deal and kept one hare to bring home. He resolved himself to let Morssen have hare meat every day until he got sick of it and puked.

What Pjard didn't expect was that Claude and the others would return the next day with 17 turkeys and 11 hares, unharmed and living like before, only seeming worn out. Pjard wondered if the four youths chased the animals down with their own two feet across the hill until they ran out of energy before catching them.

However, he didn't comment on it and bought them all at the same price he offered. Claude also brought a hare home that day.

The next day, the four returned with eleven turkeys and seven hares.

Next, they came with six turkeys and eight hares.

On the fifth day, they came a little later than usual. They looked much more tired than before and seemed like they had traveled far. However, they brought 14 turkeys and 9 hares with them.

Pjard finally spoke out. He expressed troubedly that he had too many live turkeys and hares in his tavern and feeding them alone took up two workers. So, Pjard said that he hoped that after that day's purchase, Claude and the rest would temporarily stop bringing him more turkeys and hares.

The four of them breathed a sigh of relief. They were finding it harder and harder to find turkeys and hares in the forest and hills south of town and had to go further and further to catch more. They spent two hours alone leaving the hills that day.

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