Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Deep Forest|
Little One had a following when we left and seemed satisfied with herself. Charles also seemed satisfied and Ellie kept looking at him as he groomed himself. She finally put her arm through mine as we walked beside our lead horses, “I think the two of them were up to a little deviltry.”
I grinned as I looked at the seat where they sat side by side, “Well, they don’t seem upset with each other.”
It was late afternoon when the large stag broke through the brush and froze as it stared at us. I had been carrying my bow in case I saw a rabbit and brought it up. I released just before the stag turned to flee and the large deer dropped suddenly. The two traders were upset about stopping and Ellie just waved them on, “We don’t need to share what we kill.”
They became quiet and continued on without even looking back. Ellie shook her head as I started cleaning the deer, “Their stuck up, conceited idiots.”
I grinned but didn’t stop what I was doing. After I had clean and dressed the deer Ellie helped hang it in the back of the wagon. We started off again and I wasn’t surprised to find the merchants waiting a little way down the trail. The thick forest reminded me of stories of wolves and fleeting glimpses from the corner of my eye didn’t help.
Little One chirped suddenly and I glanced at her before following her stare. The huge black wolf that sat in the forest gave me pause and Ellie touched my arm, “They are all around us.”
We fell in behind the other two wagons and I tried to keep watch. The wolves seemed to follow us but kept their distance. There was a wide clearing we came to in the late afternoon and the traders swung their wagons around. After I placed our wagon in the gap all the horses were brought into the center.
The traders whispered and looked worried as we made camp. I started a fire between the back of two wagons after walking out in the forest for wood. The wolves had kept their distance but continued to watch us. I made the cats stay in the wagon and just before it got dark the wolves moved to the very edge of the forest.
Ellie was cooking a pot of venison stew and I finally stood and walked away from the wagons, “Come forward and tell me what you need.”
I don’t know why but it had just felt like that was what they had been waiting for. Several large wolves stood and padded out to sit before me. I waited and one turned its head to look back into the forest. It almost felt like he wanted me to go that way. I shook my head, “Not in the dark.”
It whined and went to his belly before crawling towards me. I sighed as it touched my leg and looked towards the dark forest, “Why?”
It looked at me and then into the forest before growling. That I understood and smiled, “You want me to kill something.”
The wolf barked and I sighed, “How far?”
It tilted its head and I sighed before looking back at Ellie, “Do you know anything that could help?”
She shook her head, “If they have singled you out it is for a reason, something powerful that they can’t fight.”
I nodded and looked at the wolf before holding one finger up, “One day?”
It nodded its head and I almost laughed. I looked at the wagon, “Can the wagon go there?”
It looked at the wagon for a moment and then seemed to nod and bark at the same time. I sighed and looked at Ellie, “Well?”
She smiled, “I guess we follow them.”
I nodded and turned to look into the dark night, “We wait until dawn and then we go.”
Ellie nodded, “Safer for the horses.”
I looked at the wolf, “We’ll follow you at first light.”
It turned and walked into the dark forest. I went back with Ellie and tried to relax. I knew the wolves were watching and I doubted they would attack. I set my mental alarm and leaned back against the wheel of the wagon. My eyes snapped open and I caressed Ellie to wake her before slipping out from under the light blanket.
I checked the horses as it gradually began to get lighter. I moved them out and harnessed them while Ellie spoke to the traders. When I stared leading the horses towards the forest a wolf appeared to guide us. They picked the best way and we never had to worry about becoming stuck. It was several hours before the other wolves closed in which made the horses nervous.
The wolves moved around until they were down wind but something else made the horses snort and jerk against their harness. The first ghoul that appeared made my stomach turn. Its flesh was rotting off and the stench was almost overpowering. I didn’t hesitate to shoot it through the head but Ellie quickly moved forward to whisper one of her spells.
After I had shot it, it had dropped but lay twitching. When Ellie put her spell on it, it burst into flames. She watched as it flared and turned to dust and turned to me white faced, “This isn’t good. There will be more and not just men. Anything that is bitten will change.”
I nodded and looked as the wolves, “How much further?”
They whined and Ellie cleared her throat, “It won’t be much further unless they have begun to move.”
I looked towards the direction we had been traveling. “I’ll scout ahead.”
I moved forward carefully and barely left the wagon before several dead ghoul animals staggered out of the brush. I shot a bobcat in the head and then two squirrels and a fox. They lay twitching and I moved back to the wagon and Ellie, “Animals.”
She nodded and came to me and began pulling out my magazines one at a time. She whispered an enchantment on each and finally nodded, “that will help.”
I raised an eyebrow and she smiled, “Anything you shoot will burn.”
I looked at the snorting horse, “Anyway you can ward or shield the wagon and horses?”
Ellie nodded, “And block the scent of the ghouls.”
I watched her slowly walk around the wagon and horses, going from tree to tree. I glanced at the wolves, “I’ll need you to stay with us as we hunt the ghouls. Just growl or make a sound and look towards any ghouls you see, hear or smell.”
The leader nodded his head and growled before looking towards the dead animals I had shot. I blinked as I saw them crawling towards us. One round in each brought an instant flare and fire. The fire didn’t spread though, which was good. Ellie finally joined me and I looked at the wolves, “lead the way but stay with us.”
The leader nodded and looked at the other wolves. They all laid down except a large grey bitch that moved up beside him. They walked forward and Ellie and I followed. It wasn’t long before we saw more ghouls. The wolf growled and pointed through the trees and I followed his look to a small group of animals eating another animal.
Ellie whispered, “those immune are eaten.”
I checked around us as one of the ghouls lifted its bloody face. I brought the rifle up and began firing. I waited as their bodies burned and the bitch growled. I looked to the side where she was looking and spun to fire at the three Goblins stumbling towards us. Another look around and then we were being led deeper into the forest.
We kept coming across small groups of animals, seeing babies was what made it hard for me. Ellie whispered that when we reached the main group every ghoul would come for us even those further away. The small clearing was where we found the main group. They were feeding on what looked like a dead horse.
There were goblins and all kinds of other animals including a few wolves. There was even a couple of humans and elves. I started firing as Ellie kept watched around us with the wolves. I moved further into the clearing as I changed the magazine. More ghouls stumbled out of the forest and towards us.
I killed the last ghoul in the clearing and turned to start on those closing on us from the forest. Some of the larger ghouls kept walking after they were shot and continued to burn. The pack leader and his bitch were snarling and growling at the ghouls but didn’t leave our side as I kept killing them.
After a third change of magazine it was down to a waiting game for the ghouls that had been further away to reach us. Finally it was late afternoon before we stopped. No ghoul had come out for over an hour. I looked at the pack leader, “Are there any more?”
He tilted his head and finally seemed to shake it slightly. I nodded, “Time to go.”
We walked back to the wagon and horses to find them where we left them. Little One and Charles were on the seat and looked at us calmly. I nodded to the wolves, “you should move away for awhile.”
The pack leader looked at the other wolves and they followed him into the forest. I smiled at Ellie, “Think we can make it back to the merchant trail?”
She grinned, “if we start now.”
We made it to the trail and made camp. The following week seemed to go smoothly even if we were traveling alone. We met a couple of woodsmen on the far edge of the forest and I was surprised to see them planting new trees. The areas on each side of the trail turned into fields with cattle. The next day they turned into large fields of grain.
For two days we walked past farms before we came in sight of the low city walls.
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