Razorback Cliffwalker comes walking into the little town, his typical clothing replaced with cheaper canvas work-clothes. Also missing are his body armor, his signet ring, and most of his weapons. On his back, he carries a large, long bag, its strap slung across his chest. His only obvious armaments are a pair of short swords.

It’s about this time that Razorback might see a farmer on his knees in the town square, staring up at the scarred muzzle of an armored Demarian who bellows: “You’re behind on your quota, Greenwater!” He kicks the farmer in the chest, causing Greenwater to fall over backward with an OOF!

The Cliffwalker stops in his tracks, his claws slipping out for just a moment. Deciding that not knowing the lay of the land, violence might make this worse, he moves swiftly to the side of the farmer. He helps him to at least a sitting position, but does not say anything to the kicker.

The scar-faced Demarian glowers at Razorback as he helps the fallen farmer into a sitting position. “You assume responsibility for this sludger?” He jabs a clawed finger toward Greenwater, who flinches despite the lack of actual contact this time.

Razorback glances up at the other for a moment before he nods. “What do you require?” he asks, his dialect betraying him as a stranger at the very least, “And whom do you represent?”

“Coldstar expects farmers in her service to produce the agreed-to quantities,” the scarred Demarian answers. Another finger jab in the air toward Greenwater. “Lackards suffer.”

“How much time is Lady Coldstar willing to allow for Mr. Greenwater here to make amends?” Razorback asks, “There is still a month left of this growing season, no? And Mr. Greenwater would likely be far less productive if he were say, missing an arm.”

“Time?” The scarred Demarian starts cackling. “He’s been short on his deliverables for three months running. His time’s up.” He draws a knife from a sheath dangling from his hip. “Lady Coldstar’s exhausted her patience for Greenwater here.”

“I understand,” Razorback says with a nod, a paw held out, claws still hidden. “But surely if we can make it up in the next month, it would be worth it, no?”

The overseer frowns, clearly disappointed by rational intervention. However, he doesn’t reject it out of hand. “Two weeks. If he fails, he suffers. *You*  suffer too.” This time, he’s jabbing air in front of Razorback. “You really want to make him your problem?”

“Do you have any unharvested crops?” Razorback asks Greenwater quickly.

The downtrodden Greenwater looks up at Razorback, jaw dropping. “Crops?” He shakes his head. “I don’t grow…”

The scarred Demarian guffaws, clutching his belly. “Crops! Ha! That’s right, Greenwater! Where you hiding all those unharvested *crops*?!”

“Fertilizer,” the farmer mumbles from below.

“That sounds too elegant,” the overseer snarls. “He shovels bumbler shit!”

The Cliffwalker nods without blinking. “Very well,” he says, rising to his full height now and making eye contact with the scarred overseer. “You may tell Lady Coldstar to consider it done,” he says.

“See you both in two weeks,” the overseer growls. He pats the knife in its sheath. “Best not disappoint the lady again.” With that, he turns and strides toward a waiting hovercar.

Razorback doesn’t move until the hovercar is out of sight. Once it is, he reaches down to bring Greenwater to his feet. “Are you hurt?” he rumbles in query.

“No, and for that I owe you thanks,” the farmer replies. “Why did you intervene? Who *are*  you?”

“No one,” Razorback says, shaking his head, “Though my friends call me Razor. It would seem that there is work to be done. Tell me, is it just you that has fallen behind, or does the entire village also suffer from this?”

Greenwater stares at the dusty ground. “I used to be the town’s top producer. Coldstar keeps raising her protection rates *and*  upping the quotas. I had to sell some of my herd to other farmers to keep my ranch under protection. I asked for them back, but…everyone else faces the same rates and quotas. All so Coldstar can build new villages and get more farmers under her claws.”

“So you have a supply problem rather than a labor problem,” Razorback says with a nod, “If I were to acquire wild bumblers for you, what else would you need?”

“Feed,” the farmer replies. “And…laxatives. Lots of laxatives.”

The Cliffwalker rubs his brow at this, but nods. “Very well,” he says, “I shall return with the bumblers in three days.” He pauses a moment, then retrieves something from within his tunic. “If I do not return by then. I want you to leave town by night and find Cliffwalker Manor in the Stubtooth Mountains. Ask to speak to Lady Goldeye Cliffwalker and give her this. Tell her what has happened.” He hands the farmer a green-jeweled ring. He pauses a moment before adding, “If I find that either it or you is missing when I return, you may consider Lady Coldstar the very least of your fears.”

By Brody

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