Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The trip to Elfwoods|
I had been talking to Elwin and his cousins and decided to accept his offer to travel with him. I stocked up on arrows and saddled my horses the third day. I left the crossbow with Mark before leading the horses and wolves to the docks and a waiting barge.
The barge crossed the river in the morning and let us off before heading back. I glanced at the wolves as they seemed to sigh before heading into the brush. I swung up on my horse and looked at Elwin when he rode past me. We headed away from the river at an angle with one or more wolves appearing out of the brush. There were a few signs of orcs but they all headed away.
In the afternoon I killed a fat rabbit and cleaned it. The small stream we stopped at had fast moving water that was cold and crystal clear. The wolves had hunted while we traveled and were full as they laid around the camp. I washed in the cold water after eating and Elwin grinned as he shivered beside me. We talked about the way ahead as we laid back and the female wolf came to lay beside me.
I woke in the middle of the night to the wolves standing and staring into the woods. I glanced at Elwin as I stood and pulled my swords. He was up and holding a short sword in one hand as he looked into the darkness. I glanced at the wolves, “what is it?”
“Little foul ones.”
I nodded, that was the first time since before the city that they had spoken. The rabid nightmarish creatures from my first adventure here rushed out of the night. I slashed across a throat with my left sword and stabbing into the belly of another. I yanked my blades free and spun as I stepped back and the creature that was leaping at me missed.
I brought a sword down on the back of its neck and stabbed out to the side into the throat of another rushing towards me. It still crashed into me but I used its momentum to spin and tossed it as I struck out to strike one attacking Elwin. The wolves were moving around and lunging in to rip and tear.
It was awhile before it was over, the foul stench of these creatures was almost choking me as I knelt to wipe my blades, “anyone hurt?”
Elwin shook his head and I heard the female wolf, “we are unhurt.”
I went to check the horses, mine hadn’t moved much except to kick out at the small foul creatures. Elwin’s two were covered in sweat from trying to break free. I calmed them and a little later we began to saddle them. We rode into the night with the wolves scouting ahead. As the sun rose Elwin sighed and grinned, “riding at night with foul ones around isn’t fun.”
I swung out of the saddle and started walking, “it could be worse, you could wake up inside one.”
He laughed as he followed my example and walked beside me, “there should be an old abandoned keep we can sleep in tonight.”
The woods were calm and beautiful if you forgot about what had happened the night before but it was like nature so I just enjoyed the day. The ruins by the keep were on a small island, we waded across and under an arch. I slipped off the horse and led them through the tall green grass as we headed towards the keep in the center of the ruins.
We removed the saddles after walking into the keep and put the horses on long leads so they could browse on the grass. Elwin grinned, “remember talking about fishing?”
I grinned back, “yes.”
He dug into his pack for an intricate wooden fishing pole, “on the far side are some really nice ones.”
He was right I caught three huge brown trout but let two go. Elwin had several large ones as well but like me only kept one. I washed up after a large meal in the keep courtyard fountain before helping Elwin close the thick iron bound gates and dropping the huge beam into place to lock it. We lay back as the sky darkened and watched the stars come out, something I hadn’t enjoyed doing in a long time.
The bitch wolf woke me around midnight and I listened before reaching out to touch Elwin. I stood and picked up my bow and attached the quiver before heading for the narrow stairs up to the keep walls. In the moonlight we looked out across the ruins and saw the torches beside the river. Elwin leaned close to whisper, “those are men.”
I looked at him and he snarled, “orc traders.”
I wished I had night glasses or even binoculars but tried to count the distant men, “ten or twelve.”
Elwin nodded, “I count twelve.”
I glanced at him and grinned, “six for me and six for you.”
He looked at me before grinning and turning to climb down, “we can use the postern gate and stalk through the ruins.”
I followed and found the wolves waiting, we crossed to one side where an old thick door was almost hidden against the inner keep wall. I slid the thick wooden beam out of a hole in the wall before lifting it and pulling it the other way. I set the beam down and Elwin helped me push the door open. I let the wolves go through first and then followed Elwin as he moved silently after them.
We stopped at a collapsed wall ten meters from the river. I shook my head as I moved around the wall and went to the very edge of the water. The traders were only twenty to thirty paces away as I watched. I lifted my bow and aimed at one of the men farther away, “start on the other side of their camp.”
Elwin was beside me with his bow and took aim as I released. The man I was aiming at stagged and dropped with the arrow through his back. Elwin fired as I pulled another arrow and took aim. The men hadn’t even noticed the two fallen men and I shot another through the chest at the same time Elwin hit one in the throat. The camp came alive in yells as they realized they were being attacked.
I killed two men on the left as they tried to hide behind a wagon. Elwin killed one and shot another in the stomach. The last two men spun as they realized the arrows were coming out of the dark from across the river. With their eyes ruined by the torches they couldn’t see us well and I killed one with an arrow in his throat. The other tried to run and died with Elwin’s arrow in his back.
It was quiet except for the man screaming with an arrow in his gut and I started across, “stay and watch.”
I waded across the river and went to the man screaming and cut his throat with a sword. I went to each man to make sure they were dead before taking weapons. I put everything in the wagon and then tossed the torches in. As I started across the river the wagon caught fire. I grinned at Elwin when I walked out of the water, “time to return to the wall and watch the show.”
We walked back to the keep and closed the postern gate after walking in. The wolves headed toward the camp as we went back to the wall. The large burning wagon was easy to see and it was awhile before orcs and several black clad men appeared and Elwin hissed, “rogues.”
I nodded, “they may have been the ones behind the attack on the city.”
It was a couple of hours before they left. Elwin continued to watch between crenels as I sat and leaned against the wall. I snapped awake when he touched my shoulder, “the rogues are in the outer ruins.”
I stood and whispered back, “the orcs?”
He snorted, “they won’t cross the river especially at night.”
I grinned and headed towards the stairs, “I wonder how they would like to meet my friends?”
He chuckled quietly as I climbed down. The bitch was waiting and I found the others at the postern door. I opened it and let them slip out before following. I carefully closed it before slipping into the shadows. I heard a scream a few minutes later and held still to listen. I heard something moving and then I heard a wolf, “he moves towards you.”
I smiled as I pulled my knife and waited. The rogue walked cautiously holding a bright silver short sword. I waited until he was almost completely past before moving. My left hand went around his head to yank it back as the right holding the knife sliced his throat. I kept my left hand over his mouth as he jerked and spasmed and slowly lowered him to the ground.
I picked up the dropped sword and felt around for the dirty sheath. I wiped my knife clean before slipping back into the shadows of the wall as I moved in the direction the rogue was going. I saw the man standing in the open looking around nervously. I was thinking of how to approach when a wolf moved in the shadows across from me.
The man turned and I moved up behind him to yank his head back and cut his throat. There was another scream in the dark as I lowered him to the ground and took the silver sword. I replaced it in the sheath before adding it to the other behind my belt. I glanced around as I moved into the shadows of the wall. The bitch walked out of a ruin in front of me, “one more left.”
I looked at her as she silently moved away in the darker shadows. A few minutes later a man yelled and I heard growling. I moved faster and found all the wolves circling the rogue as he held a sword. He kept turning and I waited until he was facing away to throw the skyes. It struck him between his shoulder blades and he went to his knees as he dropped the sword.
Before he could grab the fallen weapon a wolf had lunged in and ripped out his throat. I walked to his body and knelt to pull my dagger out and retrieve the sword. I looked around when I stood, “anymore?”
The bitch walked towards me, “the pack does not smell anymore.”
I nodded as I turned to head back to the postern gate. I don’t know why but I slipped into the shadows. I glanced across the open ground at the keep wall when a wolf walked out and toward it. I jerked when a man stepped out almost in front of me with a bow. I still held the last rogues sword and yanked it out of the sheath.
The man spun and his eyes went wide as I lunged and stabbed into his gut. I cut out the side and he dropped to his knees and let the bow fall. I sliced across and cut his throat before he fell. I knelt to take the sheathed sword he wore as well as the quiver and then the dropped bow. The bitch nudged me and I stood, “our brother is lucky I waited.”
She grinned and followed as I moved across to the postern door. I opened it and one by one the wolves appeared and slipped in. I closed and secured the door before going to the camp to leave the swords and bow. I found Elwin still on the wall and he hit my shoulder, “if you didn’t kill them all the rest will be running.”
I nodded as I sat and leaned against the wall, “I didn’t think men would be with orcs.”
He sighed as he squatted, “it isn’t just men. All people have those that have evil in them and are attracted to others like themselves regardless of what or who they are.”
I nodded and stood, “go rest and I’ll watch.”
It was quiet for the rest of the night but strangely beautiful. It was a couple of hours before Elwin returned and I went back to our camp and crawled onto my bed. The wolf bitch followed and laid down beside me with a heavy sigh. I pet her and closed my eyes to dream of the black haired woman.
I woke to dawn and Elwin’s touch on my foot. I got up and stripped before folding the dirty clothes and pulling a clean set out of my pack. I dressed and went to saddle my horses before packing everything away. We opened the front gate and led the horses out and to the opposite side of the island from where we had entered.
Elwin swung into the saddle as the wolves started swimming and I followed his example. Once across we rode into a peaceful forest with birds singing in the trees. A few hours found us walking and picking berries as we went. It hadn’t taken the wolves long to hunt down rabbits to fill their bellies either.
By the time we stopped for the night I had killed a couple of large rabbits and we had collected wild onions as well as several other plants Elwin said would be good eating. We had a small creek running beside the camp so I dug into my pack and found a pot. I smiled and went to help Elwin find wood for a small fire, “thank you bright lady.”
While the rabbit stew was cooking I stripped and sat in the creek to wash. Elwin waited until I was done to take his turn. I dressed and fed the bitch the few scraps we hadn’t thrown into the pot and she ate but I don’t think she was hungry. The stew was cooking when one of the wolves lifted his head and growled. I reached for my bow and quiver and stood to move to a tree.
A few moments later two elves walked out of the forest and Elwin went towards them. I waited and he turned to nod to me so I moved back to the fire. He brought them in and squatted across from me, “Hunter this is Bramble and Dark Moon.”
Bramble was about as tall as him and Dark Moon was a few inches taller, “welcome.”
They slipped packs off and started pulling roots out and then pealed and sliced them before adding mushrooms and wild onions. A frying pan appeared and they tossed everything in before adding salt and crushed pepper corns. I shook my head as they seemed to do things that blending into what the other was doing.
While we ate Elwin told them about the orcs and the rogues and they told us about brigands. When I laid down the wolf sighed and turned to put her head on my chest. Again my dreams were of the dark hair woman as she held my hand and we walked through the woods. I woke to the wolf nudging me and opened my eyes to see the two elves packing up.
I watched until they were gone and reached out to wake Elwin. He shifted and sat up before looking around, “where...”
I stood and started dressing feeling uneasy, “get dressed.”
I packed and saddled the horses as the wolves slipped into the brush. One returned as Elwin finished packing and saddling his horses, “men come.”
I glanced at the wolf, “lead us around them.”
Elwin nodded and followed as I walked after the wolf leading my horses. The wolf seemed to know where it was going and as it began to get light we walked out onto huge green fields. I swung into the saddle and looked back before gesturing to Elwin, “lead the way.”
He nodded and kicked his horse to get it to move forward. I looked at all the wolves as they emerged from the forest and grinned as one lunged to catch a large bird in the grass. The wolves ranged ahead and to the sides, in the early afternoon we managed to kill a several grouse and stopped beside a stream just inside a small patch of woods.
We let the horses browse on the long grass as we set up camp and started a fire to cook dinner. The wolves lay around the camp content but every so often one would leave to scout around. As soon as we finished cooking we let the fire burn down and die. I washed again and grinned as Elwin took my place and went to dress in clean clothes.
The bitch wolf came to lay beside me and put her head on my chest. I rubbed behind her ears and smiled when she sighed. Elwin was dressing when a wolf loped in, “men come!”
I stood, “how far away?”
It growled, “they follow our trail in the field.”
I quickly put my weapons on and then grabbed my bow and attached the quiver to my belt. I walked to the edge of the woods and stood beside a tree as I looked out in the dim light. It was awhile before two elves appeared leading a dozen men along our back trail. I looked at Elwin and saw his lips drawn back, “well?”
He hissed, “kill them.”
The wolves had already slipped into the tall grass and I nocked an arrow before pulling the string back. It was a long shot but my first arrow took Dark Moon in the chest. Another arrow struck Bramble low in the gut as the men froze. I pulled the string back with another arrow as they yelled and began to charge. I killed another man and then another before the wolves attacked.
I took one man as he started to lunge and stab a wolf and then another as he pulled a sword back to strike. Elwin wasn’t slowing as he continued to shoot arrows and soon it was just three men with the wolves circling. I started out into the meadow as Elwin killed another and the last two turned to run. I killed one and the wolves took the other down.
I let Elwin deal with the two elves as I pulled arrows and searched the men. The weapons they carried were of a good quality so I collected them. I left them lay where they had fallen and started back to the camp with Elwin who looked grim. I put everything I had acquired in a pack and started cleaned the arrow points. He finally sighed and looked at me, “they turned rogue.”
I nodded and as I put the arrows away, “that happens.”
He looked into the distance, “not often.”
I shrugged as I lay back and pet the bitch, “bad doesn’t chose what race it will spring from.”
He waved, “sleep, I will watch.”
I relaxed and closed my eyes and woke to Elwin touching a foot. I opened my eyes to the sun just beginning to rise. I stood and stretched, “you watched all night?”
He smiled, “Elves don’t always need sleep.”
I nodded as I went to wash and then saddle the horses. The wolves had already slipped away as we swung up and started riding. We rode through the plains for three days, stopping each evening at a small creek to camp. The forest we rode into on the afternoon of the fourth day was impressive. I had never seen trees as tall or as large as those in this forest.
We had only ridden into the forest a short way when six elves with bows appeared suddenly. Elwin smiled and moved forward, “well met brothers.”
One of the elves grinned, “did you get lost? The last I saw you were playing doctor up by the mountains.”
He grinned as the others laughed, they froze when the wolves walked out behind them. I smiled, “my friends and companions.”
The elves looked at me and Elwin laughed, “the orcs really don’t like them.”
One of the elves smiled, “you encountered orcs?”
Elwin looked at each of them, “they attacked the city of Rowl.”
The elves looked at each other before looking at us, “destroyed?”
I snorted, “probably not, a few hundred managed to escape.”
They grinned and the elf that had spoken shook his head, “I meant the city.”
Elwin chuckled, “not a single house was harmed.”
One gestured as they turned to start walking and I swung down with Elwin. The wolf bitch slipped up beside me as I watched around us, “we met with a band of rogues.”
The elves looked back but I saw something in their eyes, “you knew about the two elves with them?”
One nodded and they were silent as we walked. A wolf trotted out of the bushes to one side, “a dusk drake comes.”
I looked around, I wasn’t sure what a dusk drake was but... “we need cover.”
Elwin glanced at me, “what is it?”
I nodded to the wolf, “it says a dusk drake is coming.”
The elves hissed and one gestured, “a ring of boulders is ahead.”
I turned and swung into the saddle before kicking the horse into a ran. I saw the boulders after several minutes and pulled the horses back to a walk as I swung down. I walked them in and looked around before moving them into the center. I took my bow as Elwin rode in and swung down as I climbed a boulder to look back.
I saw the elves running towards us as the wolves ran beside them. The huge small winged lizard chasing them is what drew my eye. I nocked an arrow and aimed before releasing. The arrow flew true and sank into the drake’s chest. It slowed and roared but didn’t stop coming. Elwin joined me on another boulder, “the throat or eyes.”
I glanced at him as I nocked another arrow and pulled the string back. The elves and wolves ran into the boulders as I aimed and released again. This time a second arrow sped out at almost the same time. Mine struck through the right eye and Elwin’s hit it in the throat just under its snake like head. It crashed to the ground and rolled before roaring.
I aim again and released and the arrow and it went straight through the mouth. It jerked and fell back to the earth as it convulsed and died. I watched with another arrow nocked but Elwin laughed, “when I said throat I meant the outside.”
The other elves laughed and I grinned before glancing at the drake, “are there very many of those?”
One of the elves growled, “to many lately.”
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