Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Foiling assassins|
I glanced up and around when all the wolves lifted their heads. I shifted back into the brush beside a tree as they vanished. It was a minute before the four elves walked into camp and Elwin turned from stream he was fishing in. The four seemed smug to have slipped up on him until the wolves came out behind them growling.
One started to pull an arrow out of his quiver and I cleared my throat, “it touches the string and you die.”
They froze as Elwin grinned and walked out of the water, “they are rangers Hunter.”
I stepped out with an arrow nocked and they grimaced before looking at Elwin, “a human?”
He laughed, “a crossover.”
One nudged the rolled up dust drake hides, “you have been busy.”
Elwin turned as he pulled out the two fish on a stringer, “sometimes more than we liked.”
I put the arrow back in the quiver before setting the bow aside and then the quiver. I was going to try something I had read about. I stripped before wading out into the stream. I moved slowly as I bent and put my hands in the water. It took awhile before I started caressing the belly of a large trout.
I finally swept him up and out of the water before wading ashore as the elves chuckled. I cleaned the fish as they made camp with us and began cooking. I dressed in warm clothing while Elwin watched the cooking dinner. While we ate they told us the latest news which was about catching a couple of assassins attempting to enter the elven city of Green Heart.
That night my dark haired woman was joined by the bright lady. She took the lance and caressed my face before pointing towards a strange forest city, “protect the king and stop the assassins.”
She vanished and my dark haired lady took my hand and gave it a squeeze. My eyes snapped open and I looked at the wolf with her head on my chest. I turned my head and saw the lance gone and sat up. One of the rangers turned as I stood, “I’ll watch.”
I stretched and glanced around as I walked to the stream. I washed my face before sitting and looking into the night as I thought. It was a couple of hours before Elwin sat up and came to sit beside me, “what is it?”
I smiled, “the bright lady.”
He glanced around and then frowned, “where is your lance?”
I grinned as I stood, “she took it back. She wants me to protect your king and stop the assassins.”
He stood and I saw the rangers sit up, “Why?”
I slapped his shoulder, “you are asking a human male why a female wants something done?”
He grinned as the rangers snorted and I headed to my bed, “ask me why the sky is blue or why the water is wet.”
They laughed as I laid down and pet the wolf beside me before closing my eyes. I woke to the wolf nudging me and opened my eyes to see a hint of daylight. I sat up as she stood and walked into the brush. The other wolves were already gone as I started packing up and breaking camp. I walked out leading the horses with Elwin beside me humming.
I saw a rabbit ahead and used my bow to kill it and feed it to one of the wolves that slipped out of the brush. Elwin grinned and we started taking turns feeding the wolves. It was two weeks before we were riding across open fields and into groups of tall trees with houses around and in them. The largest group of trees almost seemed full.
We were walking the horses with the wolves beside us. As we entered the group of trees elves stopped to watch as we went past. Elwin stopped us at a rustic looking building with a wide porch four meters above the ground. He grinned at another elf that came out of what looked like a stone stable to one side, “Dale!”
They embraced and hugged and then separated and turned to me. Elwin grinned, “Hunter this is my older brother.”
I bowed, “The pleasure is mine.”
He grinned, “maybe but I see dust drake hides so perhaps the pleasure is mine instead.”
Edwin slapped his shoulder, “could you put our horses up?”
He nodded but looked at the wolves sitting around me. I glanced at them before looking at Elwin, “any chance you could get me in to see the king?”
Elwin grinned, “he has probably heard about you by now so it shouldn’t be to hard.”
We started for the wide stairs up to the house as the horses were led away. I had to smile as the wolves went to lay on the porch. The bitch stayed with me as we walked into a large common room and a lovely girl walked out another door. Elwin smiled, “my niece Dawn.”
I smiled at her and he gestured, “perhaps a large mug of tea?”
I glanced at the door a few minutes later when the wolf shifted and looked that way. Two elves wearing tunics with a gold embroidered crest walked in. Elwin and Dale turned as they started towards us and I smiled, “I believe this is the official inquiry.”
Elwin grinned, “yes.”
I stood, “good afternoon.”
They looked from the wolf to me and one cleared his throat, “his majesty wishes to know your business.”
I smiled, “you can tell him I was sent by the bright lady to protect him from assassins.”
They looked at each other and one looked at Elwin, “Bright lady?”
He shrugged, “a deity.”
They nodded and the other looked at me, “and what makes you think you can protect him better than his guards?”
I looked at the other wolves that had slipped in and up behind them and they turned. They hesitated before turning back and I smiled, “I think we would be very hard to get past.”
One smiled and bowed, “we will tell his majesty.”
After they left I went out to practice with my bow and swords while Elwin left to see about selling the drake hides. I sat with the wolves when I was done and brushed the bitch’s fur, “what do you think?”
She sighed as the others shifted and turned her head to look at me, “it feels very good.”
I smiled as I combed through her thick fur, “I meant about protecting the king?”
She shivered and her fur rippled, “once we have the scent of those around him it will be easier but the long stings are something you must watch for.”
I thought about long stings and grinned, “you mean arrows.”
She nodded and I finished brushing her. I looked at the others but they shook their heads. I stood and turned to find an elf watching from a distance. He was tall and well dressed with no crest on his shirt. He shifted as I continued looking at him and turned to walk away. It was an hour before the young elf lass found me eating.
I had gone walking and the wolves had caught rabbits so they were full and now it was my turn. She bowed, “the queen wishes to meet you.”
I looked at her before gesturing to Dale as I stood, “I’m off to see the king. Would you let Elwin know when he returns?”
He grinned and slapped my shoulder, “aye.”
I bowed to the lass and she grinned as she turned. The wolves rose and walked around and beside us and she kept looking at them, “they don’t look tame.”
The bitch snorted and I smiled, “there are not. They are my companions, sent by the bright lady to help me.”
She looked at me, “your deity?”
I shrugged, “you can say that.”
She grinned and began to hum as we walked. The tree she led me to was huge and had stairs that spiraled around the trunk and up into the high branches. The first level of the building was easily a thirty meters above the ground. It spread up and out to several other trees to make a complex set of houses. She started up as the wolves followed behind us.
She walked through and around what looked like a gathering hall and then up another winding set of stairs. Two elves stood beside a set of doors and frowned when they looked at the wolves. I ignored them as the girl led us in and down a quiet hallway. The room we entered was bright with large window screens that let in the sun.
A beautiful elf turned and smiled, “so human you wish to protect...”
She stopped as the bitch sat beside me and the others walked in and looked around. She smiled and bowed to the bitch at my side, “sister.”
She looked at me, “perhaps you might be able to help my husband after all.”
I smiled, “perhaps a little.”
She gestured to a chair as she crossed to sit and the elf lass left. I sat and she leaned forward, “another attempt was made only this morning.”
I gestured, “how?”
She smiled, “the assassin was hiding in a hallway and attacked when my husband drew near.”
I looked at the wolves, “we will need to meet those that serve you and your husband and look around your rooms and those around you.”
She nodded and stood, “come I will show you and introduce you to my husband and his guard.”
I expected larger, more elaborate rooms but the rooms were almost sparse. The furniture looked to be designed for comfort and the things I did see were elegant. The large throne room was more like a huge study with paneled walls and books or scrolls. An elf moved away from the wall as we crossed the room.
The queen smiled as the tall well built elf behind the desk stood, “Ayllessa?”
The wolves had spread out and walked through the few elves in the room. The woman turned to me as I stopped on the other side of the desk, “this human has come to protect you.”
He smiled, “the drake hunter.”
The elf that had moved away from the wall snorted and I spun as a wolf growled. An elf was backing away white faced as more wolves moved toward him. I started walking, “what do you smell?”
“Poison pack mate.”
I pulled a sword, “show me the poison.”
The elf looked around, “I have done nothing.”
I moved through the wolves and pointed the sword, “the next time I ask I will cut something off, the poison.”
He brought out a vial and I held out my other hand. He gave it to me and I glanced at the king, “what would you like done?”
He looked angry but spoke calmly, “Calvin you are exiled from all elven communities on pain of death.”
I gestured with the sword, “if I see you again you are dead.”
He spun and ran from the room and I turned to walk back to the desk. I set the vial down and slid it across, “my companions smell more than just people.”
The king smiled, “so I noticed.”
He looked at the wolves sitting around the room and then at the elf beside the desk, “let the servants know we have guests.”
The elf bowed before looking at me and smiling. I spent the rest of the afternoon bored as the wolves came and went. One was always by the door and another beside the desk. A few hours later the king stood and I shifted away from the wall. His guard looked at me as I moved toward the door with the wolves.
I looked out before walking as the king and his guard followed. He directed me through hallways and then up a stairway to a suite. I opened the door and the wolves walked in as I held the door for the king. He smiled, “this is where...”
One of the wolves growled and I yanked him out and into the other guard as I started moving and pulled both swords. I crossed the room as the curtains were yanked away by a dark green cloaked man who held a pair of daggers. He snarled as I moved closer and he began edging towards the next room.
I blocked the wide doorway and he shifted as if on guard and then spun as a wolf lunged in. It was moving back as he jabbed but I was sliding in. He turned and a dagger slashed across to block my sword. I let it and slashed his arm with the other sword and the dagger spun away. He staggered as another wolf leaped and knocked him forward.
He tried to turn and fight the wolf but I lunged and the sword blade slid between his ribs and into his chest. I stepped back and gestured to the growling wolves as he fell. He went to his knees and then fell onto his side. I glanced at the king and several guards that appeared before kneeling to search the dying man.
I took a purse with several gold pieces and a hand drawn map of the building. I walked to the king and showed him the map, “look close. Do you recognize the hand that drew this?”
He shook his head but I saw one of the guards straighten. I looked at him, “you do.”
He hesitated, “perhaps.”
I handed the map to him, “take a couple of others and go ask them.”
He nodded but didn’t look at the king as I spilled the gold coins into my hand, “anything special about these?”
The king sucked in a breath, “those are dwarf minted.”
I looked at him, “but does anyone here have a supply of these?”
He sighed, “many have. I have a whole chest of them in my treasury.”
I nodded before turning to the wolves, “I would have someone new do an accounting.”
I gestured, “two of the wolves will stay with you during the night.”
He nodded and gestured to his guards, “take the body away.”
I looked around, “the queen?”
The king laughed, “is smart enough to sleep away from me when there is a threat.”
I glanced at the bitch and she turned to pad out. I looked at the king, “have guards protect her door.”
I looked around as he stiffened and then turned to speak to his guards. I headed for the door, “I need a bench or comfortable chair close to the door.”
I was standing down the hall a few minutes later when a chair was brought. I finished cleaning my swords and sat and leaned back with a sigh. I watched the guard by the door through slitted eyes as I rested. A few minutes later the bitch was back and laid down beside the chair, “the she is safe.”
I nodded as I reached down to touch her. My eyes snapped open and I shook the bitch as I stood. The guard was leaning against the door but he was asleep. I listened closely trying to find what had awakened me and then I was moving as I heard it again. I shoved the guard aside and yanked the door open before running through the room.
I ran into the other room as the two wolves came to their feet and spun towards the window. I didn’t even slow as I dove, one hand reaching down for the sill and the other straightening to shove the assassin. He held a crossbow pistol in one hand and was just lifting it. He jerked when he saw me and tried to aim at the bed and then I was hitting him.
He went back with his hands waving as they tried frantically to grab something to save himself. My other hand caught the sill and I twisted and came back to hit the outer wall. I looked up and around before looking down at the person far below on the ground. I caught the window ledge with my other hand and pulled myself up and in.
The king was sitting up with a sword in his hand as the guard finally reached the window. I glanced at him before nodding to the king and heading towards the door. I walked back to my chair and sat before leaning back and ignoring the guards as they came and went. I relaxed and reached over the side to pet the wolf bitch as she returned.
I woke to the building seeming to come alive. I stood and stretched before leaving to find a bathroom and then returning. When the king came out with the two wolves he nodded to me and went down to a dinning hall. I grinned when he had meat brought to feed the wolves. I glanced at an elf when he approached.
He glanced around as he bent to speak to the king, “one hundred gold pieces were missing from your treasury. The clerk is missing but we found traces of blood in his room.”
The king sat back and looked at me, “could your friends find him?”
I nodded and looked at the wolves, “would one of you go with this person? He has a trail and we need to find someone.”
The bitch sighed as she stood, “that ones is dead and in the stable under hay.”
I looked at her, “you know?”
She looked at the guard, “we smelled his body when we went out and his scent is still on this one.”
I turned as I pulled my swords, “why did you kill him?”
I moved between him and the king as he stepped back, “what? I did...”
I growled, “his death scent is on you. No one knew about the accounting but the king, me and you.”
The king stood but one of the wolves caught his sleeve and pulled him back. The guard was quick but watching the wrong threat. He pulled his sword and lunged but a wolf landed on his back and bit into his shoulder as he was driven to the floor. I moved and placed one sword against his throat, “why and who paid you?”
He growled and the wolf shook his head and he screamed, “Clan leader Gilgad!”
I put my swords away and grabbed a hand and nodded to the wolf as it let him go. I yanked his hand around to his back and reached for the other as he began to shift his weight. The bitch was suddenly there with her muzzle against his throat as she growled. He froze and I tied his hands before pulling him to his feet. I looked at the king who had a stunned look.
I cleared my throat and he turned to look at the faces of those in his court before gesturing, “take him. Summon the rest of my court.”
I let the elf go into the arms of several angry looking guards and nobles. I watched as the hall was cleared of most of the elves and the queen entered. She glanced around as she walked toward the king, “love?”
He growled but relaxed, “our dark cousin has once more lifted his head.”
She stiffened, “what are you planning to do?”
He looked at me, “send him a message.”
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