On The Right Trail


Bowen.jpg Renji (NPC)

Date: 11/20/10
Location: Southern Hold
Synopsis: Bowen is on his way to talk with the Harper about the wedding when he encounters an old friend. They catch up, briefly, and then go about their way, with Renji pursuing a line of investigation that ends in a dead end for the time being.
Rating: PG-13
Writer: Bowen

Rukbat was just cresting over the horizon and heralding the day when Bowen steps out onto the front porch of his parent’s house and adjusted his hat a beat. He didn’t like leaving Cheusia here while he went to talk to the Harper, though not for any reason dealing with worry over her safety. He knew what his mother was like. However, he knew she had plans to go talk to the Weaver for a dress and so perhaps she wouldn’t linger too long before going to that appointment. He had groom matters to attend to on his own anyway, including a suit.

The morning ride astride Strider was good for clearing his thoughts and lungs, considering the crispness of the morning air. It was the first time since the decision had been made that Bo finally allowed himself to sit back and collect his thoughts, particularly remembering the eyebrow-arching look that his father quietly gave him across the supper table when he and Che made their announcement.

He supposed it all might seem uncharacteristically sudden, even though he’d known Che longer than he knew Darla before he proposed to her. But Che … Che was different. Very different. Bo was different too, different from the young man he was when he felt he had to marry Darla. That he’d had no choice. This was a choice, he reminded himself with a silent nod. Right? Well, okay, he had thought the engagement would have been longer, but who was he to deny Che’s wishes? Besides, this would put a lot of his own fears mostly to bed if they could return to Eastern with that ring on her finger. Perhaps it was a bit archaic in tradition, but there’d be fewer misunderstandings and he’d have to beat up fewer men for getting fresh with his woman.

“Bo! Bowen!” The cry came from a little distance, but it was still loud enough to capture Bo’s attention and the Eastern tanner drew Strider up to a stop and looked around the community of structures and homes until he caught side of a man on a runner coming up a dirt bovine trail and toward the road. From the distance, Bo couldn’t recognize him, but Bo was patient and waited for a closer look. A faint smile touched the edges of Bo’s lips as he put a name to the face when the other man got closer, “Renji, ya ol’ coot! How ya doin’?”

Not many would describe Renji as an ‘old coot’, considering he was still in his late twenties, but he was older than Bo and Bo had known the guy all his life. They weren’t the best of buddies, but they’d been through a lot together as kids. When they were old enough to become apprentices, Bo went to the Tannercraft Hall, following in his father’s footsteps while Renji went the way of his uncle and joined the Beastcraft Hall. They caught up with each other a couple years back when Bowen returned a disgrace to his craft and with a wife and a baby on the way while Renji returned a senior apprentice and put in amongst the herdsmen for the Hold. Renji later on walked the tables and was now serving down here as a Journeyman.

“Reckon I’m doing aw-right,” Renji answered, grinning. He leaned casually forward in his saddle as he directed his runner up alongside Bowen’s and reached out, grabbing the tanner by the forearm, a little past the wrist, in a companionable, gripping shake. “Yerself?”

“Good, real good,” Bo said in his customary drawl as he returned the gripping shake on his arm, but the twinkle in his eye and soft knowing smile suggested it was much stronger than just ‘good’.

Renji noticed it right off, and he grinned in return, letting go of Bo’s arm to rest both hands on the front cantle of his saddle. “So it’s true? Ol’ Bo has himself a girl ag’in? Say it ain’t so, Bo!” Chuckling softly, Bo simply nods and Renji continues, “Th’ way ya been lookin’ grim as a dragon that lost a chase,” probably not the best analogy, “this last turn, I wouldna thought you’d ever find yerself a’nuther girl.”

“She’s a wonderful woman, Renj,” Bowen says quietly, putting emphasis on the word ‘woman’. Darla was a girl. Che is a woman. “Come by an’ I’ll intraduce ya to ‘er,” his gaze added, ‘and punch your lights out if you try anything.’. He wasn’t too worried, truth be told. Renji was one of the few fellows who had declined Darla’s advances back when she was alive and Bo had found that gem out from an independent source, the same one who had been picking his teeth up off the ground after admitting he had taken Darla himself a few times. He considered the information reliable. “Whut’ve y’been up to?”

“Might do. Might do,” Renji smiled and nodded, “Work don’t ev’r seem o’er, but I’ll try an’ ketchya b’fore y’set off ag’in.” There’s a pause and a nod, “Ain’t much changed fer me since ya left, Bo. Still workin’ th’ pastures an’ stables. Avoidin’ anythin’ so complicated as gettin’ hitched.” The last is said with a teasing wink and grin, then he continues, “Eastern, yeah? How’s that comin’ up?” Affecting a look of casual interest.

Bo hesitated before answering, but this wasn’t anything new. Finally he said, “T’ain’t easy, but it’s gettin’ there. Like everythin’ else, takes time ta build sumpthin that big an’ complicated.” Like marriages. “Y’should come out there sumtime. Ya might even get on with our Beast Manager there.”

“Whut? Leave this mudhole? Or dat purdy sist’r a yers?” Renji grinned, but there was a twinkle of interest in his gaze. He just might. Then he took up the reins on his runner, “I best get on, Bo. Good seein’ ya. Good luck with this one. Hope she ain’t gonna lift her skirts as much as Darla dun did, fer yer sake,” and he chuckled softly, tilting his head as he lifts a hand to push some of his hat back on his head.

For a moment, Bo chuckled softly with him, but the observant would know that the mirth didn’t reach his blue eyes. The moment passed, however, and just as Renji’s runner took a step, Bowen’s fist connected with Renji’s jaw, knocking the beastcrafter off his runner. Slightly spooked, Renji’s runner took a couple steps forward and out of range, the reins dragging on the ground while Renji shook his head a little and felt his jaw. “Wow … ya ain’t lost that slugg’r, that’s fer sure,” he worked his mouth a moment and then spit out a tooth, “Even if it takes ya ‘while ta wind up fer it.”

“Sorry,” Bowen murmured quietly, but wasn’t. He did, however, lean over and offer a hand to help Renji back to his feet. “So, mebbe y’ll come by ta meet Che den?” Bo asked casually, as if he hadn’t just punched him off his runner.

“Mebbe,” Renji said with a grunt, pushing himself to his feet with Bo’s help pulling. “Ya gonna punch me like dat ag’in?”

“Ya gonna bring up Darla like dat ag’in?” Bo asked in return, “Or m’sist’r?”


“Then I reckon I ain’t gonna punch ya like dat ag’in.”

“Well … aw-right.”

The two men stared at each other a long moment, and then suddenly broke into grins.

Renji moved the few steps away to gather the reins of his runner and swing himself up into the saddle, “See ya ‘round, Bo.”

“See ya ‘round, Renj,” Bo said in reply and each took their leave in different directions.


Renji stepped out of the tavern into a dark and muggy rainy night and sighed, tugging the brim of his hat down a little lower. He’d followed all the leads that he’d had and it didn’t really amount to much. Too much time had passed. Few remembered even who he was talking about until he described her red hair.

He’d asked people to let him know if they remembered anything more later, but he didn’t expect anyone to come forward. It was time to call this inquiry done, send a message back to his uncle’s old buddy, Yaron, at Landing who’d asked him to look into it, and then get back to doing what he preferred to do, ogling Bowen’s sister, Paerin, and rounding up herbreasts. Er, herdbeasts. Yeah. He idly rubbed his swollen jaw from where Bowen hit him earlier. Just how hard did he hit him?

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