Full Version: Peggy Powler & The Abominable Snowman.
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If one could accuse the renown road called Calder's Way of any hesitancy, it would be when the sea-stone-surfaced highway reached
a location named Wide Baxter. This broad canyon sits in the centre of a long chain of high peaks known as the mountains of Camadorn
and was created by a passing glacier that disrupted the range that divided Thurston Gate and Cotton Mundeville.

Anyone attempting the two-day walk through Wide Baxter would be gambling with their lives that the deadly blizzards wouldn't instantly
arrive without any warning and freeze them to the ground in seconds. This unusual phenomena had happened many times and a few of
those who'd survived the sudden whiteouts had spoken of the speed and the strange wraith seen wandering through the raging blasts.

The hard-boiled gold miners and their wives of Thurston Gate had heard all the tales of the so-called Abominable Snowman crossing from
one part of the Camadorns to the other during the swirling storms, but of course these were just rantings of terrified greenhorns who didn't
understand the ways of the weather in Wide Baxter. Maybe this was why the ancient race that constructed Calder's Way decided to avoid
the dangerous two-league wide gorge by splitting its route to the east and west of the savage ravine.

The eastern detour would hug close to the sheer conifer-covered sides of the Camadorn mountains and pass through Billings, Deadwater
and finally turn northwards through the little village of Seahouses. Following the coast until clear of the steep snow-tipped crags, Calder's
Way would veer to the west and amble through rich farming land that benefited from the regular alpine run-offs, eventually arriving at the
mill town of Cotton Mundeville.

Any Midnight Mail Rider will tell you that the junction aiming west offered the sights and delights of Thurston Gate, a mining town where
gold is excavated from the Camadorn mountains. A particular function of this grass-roots community was to assist any headstrong traveller
of Wide Baxter had become a burden to a man now frowning at the cloud-scudding skies above his place of employment.

Herman Beans had once been one of those postmen on horseback, but now the shaggy-bearded sixty year-old was the custodian of the
tower who lit the beacon to guide those who were lucky enough to attain safe passage through Wide Baxter and feeling the temperature
suddenly drop, Herman set-off to do so again.

Ignoring the tall out-of-place lighthouse standing at the entrance to the tree-sparse gulch, such a deliverer of letters and parcels might
venture westwards and arrive at Tanners Holt, Midwych and then get around the mountains via the hamlet of Ravenglass. All these small
settlements had grown up in the shadow of the Camadorn mountains and all of them had accounts about shambling figures seen moving
up on the icy elevations.
Yet it seems it was only Thurston Gate that took advantage of its location and dug the granite crags for the precious metal.

Herman had ridden those western road countless times and stepping onto the first of the ninety steps up to the gallery where the unlit
lantern waited, he groaned at the oncoming exertion and wondered if his old Midnight Mail position was still open. "If wishes were horses,
beggars would ride" he murmured to himself and glanced again towards the stormy heavens of Thurston Gate.

The Werewolf of Cotton Mundeville was no more and thanks to the little woman hurrying across Wide Baxter, those who worked in the
textile mills of the fairly-large town could return to their homes at night without being ripped to pieces. As the late-Autumn light finally
slipped behind the tall snow-tipped peaks, the solitary figure in a large hat hastened her pace as she felt the a coldness suddenly race
down the barren glen.

Another night here in the canyon was not something the bare-footed wanderer desired and catching sight of that hairy brute watching her
last night, was certainly an urge to get out of this place named after the prospector who'd first found it. "Thank Herne fur' small mercies"
the half-Fae said to herself and clutching the brim of her hat, Peggy Powler gazed up at the faint glow in the descending darkness.
If the steaming mug of liquorice-root tea wasn't the best thing to happen to the Last Witch of Underhill in the last couple of days,
watching the strange phenomena of Wide Baxter's blizzard confining itself to the valley-floor would certainly be on par with the
warming brew gifted by the old man with the scraggy beard. "Yessum' it's a sight that never fails to enthral me" Herman Beans
agreed with his back to his new guest as he stared out through the thick glass window at the wild disturbance swirling around
like a trapped demon.

Peggy Powler had just made it to the watchtower before the snowstorm had fully blossomed in Wide Baxter and seeing the man
gesturing from a high platform on the tall lookout, she'd waddled faster to where he was pointing and almost fallen in through the
open doorway. A few moments later, the same person had appeared from a stairway holding a blanket and features that implied
the little Witch might have a few marbles missing. "Wrong time of the year to be chancin' the valley, Missy..." Herman had said
and dropped the patched-comforter over Peggy's shivering shoulders. "...And with all respect, only a fool or someone in fear for
their life would risk such crossing" he appended as he closed the door on the wicked elements outside.

The wide-eyed unshod woman clutching the strap of a satchel and a crumpled hat had simply nodded without a word of antinomy.

"Yer' know, I was told my Grand-Pappy once was in business with Jebediah Baxter..." Herman said as he refilled Peggy's cup.
"...Those two old bastards took plenty of the yellow-stuff out of the Thurston Gate's mines" he added with a rue smile. Carefully
folding up the donated blanket, the rescued sorceress nodded, but said nothing. The recent trek across the valley had taken it out
of her and really, a good night's sleep would be more appreciated than a tale about a pair of long-dead prospectors striking it lucky.

The blizzard seemed to have similar thoughts to the little Witch who'd escaped its clutches and within a few sentences of Herman's
recital of the life and times of Jebediah Baxter and his close friend with a pickaxe, the winds dropped and the volley of snow became
nothing more than sugar-dusting on a freshly-baked cake. Yet, the icy terrain of Wide Baxter told a different story.

Herman would later find a frozen ram leaning up against the steep wall of the valley near where he'd first spotted the woman now
snoring inside her satchel that hung from a beam on the lower-level of the lighthouse. The wild sheep's terrified eyes were dull and
flecked with Jack Frost's breath, but its torn-out throat told the caretaker of Thurston Gate's Pharos told him the foolish tales of the
Snowman would be not-doubt resurrected unless he hid the chilled body from view. The crispy fleeced animal wasn't the first one
he'd found like this and its proximity to the village was more disquieting than the grisly discovery.

Ignoring the ripping sound of frozen wool and flesh, Herman pulled the carcase by its horns from the granite and hauled it towards
one of the large boulders that the long-ago glacier had left behind. The meat would be useless and it wouldn't pay to have a rotting
body so close to the lighthouse. Arriving on the leeward side of the huge chunk of deposited stone, he saw the ankle-deep surrounding
snow had failed to visit this sheltered area and just before he dragged the murdered ram into the snow-free area, he spotted tow sets
of footprints in the frozen gravel. One booted, the other more of a paw-print. 

Glancing back to the watchtower and and wondering if the woman called Peggy had awoken yet, Herman's thoughts bustled to make
sense of who-or-what might have been hiding behind this massive piece of glacial sediment. One impression in the hardened dirt wore
a working-shoe or a boot for protection, the other was of a large animal who's spoor resembled a large canine.

Herman breathed in deeply and recalled the mantra for someone who was too-old ride leagues on a horse and to dig in the Thurston
Gate mines. He manned the tower of Wide Baxter and lit the beacon to help those who were daft enough to cross it, that was his job.
That was his only job. Scratching his beard, Herman gulped as he fought against his need to ponder the strange imprints beside the
now-forgotten ram. One person and a wolf...? It didn't make sense, there was no half-eaten remains and no other tracks to indicate
direction of passage.

Blowing warmth onto his cold hands, Herman eventually arrived at a conclusion. Maybe it'd be best if he kept his find secret and maybe
in the future, it would be better to keep his nose out of things he didn't understand. Shuffling through the already melting snow back to
the faint shape of the watchtower, he told himself to get a move on. Whatever had left those marks might be still out here.

Jack Marsden was plainly drunk and by the look of Herman Beans, he was well on his way too, but Peggy needed to ask a couple
of questions about recent visitors from the other side of Wide Baxter who may have seemed out of place in Thurston Gate. She'd
found the Cotton Mundeville Werewolf prowling the town's church which wasn't uncommon for these cursed beasts, but after its
slaying -with assistance from a young man who'd needed some special spell-workings for an injury during the fight, the exhausted
Wizardess discovered a leather strip around the creature's neck with a small gold nugget attached to it.

Maybe the Werewolf had infected someone who'd left the mill town before Peggy had arrived to solve the problem...? Maybe that
dreaded curse had crossed Wide Baxter and was now hiding in the very tavern the little Witch was sitting in? Sometimes, it pays
to be sure and carrying two flagons of ale back to the table where the old rum-pots were jabbering on about past mining memories,
Peggy Powler knew that this kind of lubrication can often bring such assurances.

"Here yer' go me-friends, another round te' show me-gratitude..." the poncho-wearing sorceress said good-naturedly and plonked the
dull-metal tankards on the stained table, "...As Ah' was sayin', Ah' thought me-goose was cooked when that snow began te' fall" she
added as she hopped back into her seat beside the boozy friend of Herman Beans. The tavern was fairly full, which wasn't an irregular
for a settlement that partook in two tasks. One was hacking away the granite in the mines in search of the dwindling yellow ore and the
other was looking for ways of spending the frollis such toil earned.

Marsden stared at the beer-rings on the table's surface and nodded. Whether it was in agreement of his new beer-buying friend or for
something else, Peggy couldn't tell. But she felt confident that if anyone unfamiliar had come into The Miner's Shovel tavern the old
grizzle-chinned busy-body would know about. "Aye, tis a walk that Ah' doubt many wiser than me-self would think twice about..." she
reiterated "...and Ah' figure Ah'm the only silly bugger te' have crossed in the last week or so" Peggy supplemented before hiding her
face with a swig of her brew.

The life-long journey that the little Witch had first set her bare-foot upon had brought many encounters with village gossip, backdoor
scandals and furtive rumours. It was part of the deal when those in need of her services, a trust that came from the needing of her
work and the invasiveness into their private lives to solve whatever problem they were dealing with. Many times, a supernatural
quandary had been appeared due to something a customer of Peggy's had inadvertently done and through astute -but idle-sounding
inquiring, she would often find clues to help her to successfully bring about a positive outcome.
Herman Beans' eyes were such a type of this answer.

"Mish Powler, yer' right..." Jack Marsden said as he absently licked his lips at his free mug of ale, "'sh like I told the young fella'
who came over to work in the Tyndrum mine, he wash a luck bastard 'cosh Wide Baxter's bad weather never happensh after dark
and never at the beginning of Autumn" This statement immediately drew a sarcastic and slightly over-the-top sigh of ridicule from
his drinking associate, Herman shook his head and peered over towards the customer-filled counter.

"Yer' know, yer' talk some offal at times, Jack... the valley's weather has nothing to do with the time of day or year" Herman drawled
as he feigned his lack of interest in his friend's judgement and seemed absorbed in a discussion two burly men were loudly enjoying
regarding imaginary veins of gold. It would be a calculated guess, but Peggy believed this type of conversation about the climate of
Wide Baxter was a habitual topic the two old men normally rallied between each other. But for their new companion of ale drinking,
it was the name of the man who'd crossed the valley she was seeking.

The diminutive Half-Fae swinging her bare legs on the too-high chair waited for Marsden to continue his precious monologue about this
intriguing stranger who'd presumably came from Cotton Mundeville, but the pause became a little too-long for Peggy's liking and so with
a quick wiggle of her little finger, she gave him a little push.

"Ah'd be surprised if a mill-worker could hack it down there in the dark and Ah'd hazard a guess that this... what was his name again...?"
she idly enquired to the inebriated forecaster of dubious weather conditions. Jack Marsden looked up from his drunken examination of
the tankard in front of him and muttered "Tom... Tom Turnskin". Peggy checked for any response from Herman at the revelation and
found narrowed eyes moving from his friend to the woman who'd fallen into his place of employment last night. The bugger knows
something else about all this, she concluded before setting her large hat on her head.

With a promise to return, another thank-you to the wary Herman Beans and another round of ale for her pair of new-found bar-flies,
Peggy excused herself and set-off to find a hole in the Camadorn mountains called Tyndrum.