Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Return to Dawn|
It was spring and new life was everywhere. I glanced at the three elves as I walked, they were here to make a trip to what their people called Dawn’s step. It was an ancient city at least two months to the far northeast where they had first stepped out onto this world. It was long abandoned and almost forgotten by man.
Aveline and I were going along with them. I watched as one lifted his sling for a fat grouse and a stone from Aveline’s struck it. I grinned as he shifted and grumbled while the others laughed softly. We had been gone from Blue Pass for a week and none had been able to best her with a sling.
I stopped grinning and held up a hand at the change in the forest around us. I lifted my bow and notched an arrow, a moment later the worg and rider leaped out from between trees. My arrow sank into the animals throat, another arrow took the orc in the chest as he lifted a horn. They crashed to the ground as I looked around before moving to them.
I pulled a large canine and then began to skin the worg. I rolled the hide as the elves looked around nervously. I smiled and opened a pouch and sprinkled a fine powder around the body. Aveline snorted and then smiled as I shouldered my pack and the rolled pelt. I started walking again and they fell in beside me.
One elf hissed, “did you have to take the hide?”
I smiled, “yes. They fear us now more then ever.”
They looked at each other before shaking their heads. It was the first worg we killed and after I cleaned the hide I cut it into a bed roll before tanning it and giving it to one of the elves. Two weeks later we all had new worg fur bed rolls and my collection of teeth was growing. I was tempted to stop when we went by Delf but we continued east.
A week after Delf we turned north to cross the plains. We followed a wide valley that spanned the plains where trees grew tall. Orcs patrolled the valley but did not linger. Once we reached the frost mountains we turned east once more. They were more like large rolling hills than mountains.
A couple of weeks and we came to the Green Marsh and the elves began to lead. The orcs and other foul ones would not venture into this marsh, when they did they never came out. We moved single file through ways that looked like no one could pass. Each evening we slept up in a tree and listened to strange sounds and sometimes screams.
There were lights that floated on the air and under the water. Sometimes when we walked I could see faces of elves in the water. The elves and even Aveline were silent as they walked. She had taken to holding me while we slept in the tress and more than once I heard her quiet sobs. When we walked out of the marsh it was into a forest of huge tall trees.
They stretched so high and spread out so far it was like I was as small as an insect. It felt as if eyes watched us as we walked through the trees but the watcher remained hidden. It was almost dark when we came to the first building. That was when they attacked, rushing out of cover silently with short curved swords.
They walked the pattern but it was different and I pulled my short swords. I slashed and blocked a lunging sword from another before taking the hand and then cutting his throat. They never made a sound while we fought and another took the fallen one’s place. I blocked and slipped swords away.
I slid my right sword around and across towards the other one as my left sank into him under his arm. He fell as I yanked my sword out and blocked a sword with my right and then the left. I parried and suddenly stepped through the pattern to slash open his stomach. I moved towards Aveline who was struggling to keep three from killing her.
One slipped his sword through and stabbed into her chest. She staggered back as I brought one sword down on the back of the neck of one and lunged into the side of another. They fell and the third spun towards me which left him open to Aveline. She took his arm and then stabbed into his neck before rippling her sword free.
I glanced at her, “you okay?”
She nodded and I turned to go help the others, “remember what I told you about the pattern and fighting through it.”
I lunged and stabbed one in the back as she attacked another. I twisted and blocked a sword and slid another aside before he stiffed as an elf plunged his sword into his back. I moved towards the last two fighting one elf and one turned and swung. I moved aside and deflected his sword before stabbing the point of my other sword through his arm and twisting.
He shifted and opened his mouth but there was no noise. I brought my other sword across and cut his throat before looking around to see them all dead or dying. I knelt to clean my weapons, “dark brothers?”
The elf close to me shook his head, “lost ones. After we arrived here they lost their sanity.”
I looked at him and then the others before I finished cleaning my weapons. I went to each and removed the sheathes and star silver short swords. We move camp inside the building and I pushed Aveline’s hands away while I checked her. The faintly glowing scale shirt had stopped the sword but she would have a bruise.
When I was satisfied she would be okay I turned to help with dinner, “insane people do not work together like they did.”
The elves looked at me and then each other before returning to the task of making the old building into someplace we could defend. I slept lightly with Aveline against my back. I was up before the sun and went outside to watch it rise. Aveline slipped up next to me and sighed, “it is strange but it is almost feels peaceful.”
I gestured to the bodies we had pulled away, “it is a false feeling.”
She nodded and leaned against me until the sun was up. It took two more days before we walked into the large empty city. The wide street was paved with cut stone that led to the other end where there was a huge circle of columns. Inside was grass and a single white stone. Halfway down on the left was a large smooth area with white foot prints.
It was the pattern but more, there were at least four times as many steps. I glanced at the elves as I removed my pack, “I will wait here.”
They looked away from the distant circle of columns and one nodded before they started walking. Aveline headed towards the pattern as she set her pack and bow down. She dropped her quiver and pulled her long knives as I smiled and began gathering her things and making camp to one side.
My second time through I was surprised when the pattern shifted. I used my long knives with the first and the short swords with the second. When I tried it with Reaper for a third time it changed again but Reaper was almost glowing and seemed to have a life of its own. We walked the pattern in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Each time I did it three times and Aveline twice. It was almost two weeks before things changed. We had explored other buildings and hunted each day. It was just before noon when I heard the worg howl. I snatched up my bow and moved into the street with Aveline. It wasn’t long before the riderless worgs appeared and ran down the street towards us.
I put my first arrow into the leader and Aveline took the next. After that we killed those that were in the lead. When I ran out of arrows I tossed my bow and pulled Reaper before moving forward. I slashed up and through a worg’s neck as I slid to the left and brought the blade around and down into the neck of another as it lunged.
The pattern was clear as I followed the steps and swung the sword. Lost ones appeared and ran towards us as I spun and lunged to stab the sword in behind a worg’s shoulder. I twisted as I yanked the blade out and moved back and aside while slashing up and back to cut the throat of another worg.
As the last worg fell I moved to the right and sliced low and cut open a lost one’s stomach. I shifted steps in the pattern as I twisted and spun to take the arm of another. I continued towards Aveline and slipped the sword into the chest of one more. Aveline was moving smoothly as she constantly changed the pattern and the way she struck with her swords.
I twisted and slashed and moved aside before returning as I brought the sword back to kill another. Suddenly arrows from behind us began taking the lost ones. They kept coming but there was a familiar roar from the other end of the street where they had come from. I moved back as the last of the lost ones died and the huge form of a troll walked into sight.
It was like nothing I had ever seen. It had solid black skin and carried what looked like a huge bar in its right hand. I moved forward into a clear space and watched it come closer. It slowed and suddenly jabbed the bar towards me and I slid aside and brushed it away with Reaper. The shock and feel was unpleasant and I knew the bar held dark magic.
I shifted as I moved in and began to swing my sword, “REAPER!”
The troll started to move back and to the side but was to slow. It felt like I had just swung into a tree. Only the last foot of blade hit but it cut through the troll’s belly and came out as I moved to the side and turned. I brought the blade up and around as I stepped back in and swung down. This time I hit its arm at the wrist as it was straightening.
It was like hitting stone but the sword cut through the thick bone and I moved in. I stabbed up as the troll roared and the blade pushed through the cut I had made in the stomach. It went through the troll guts and up into the chest before I twisted and yanked it down and out. I moved back as the troll went to its knees before falling.
It grabbed at the stones with its one hand and writhed around. I looked around as the elves approached and then moved to the bar that was still glowing black. I glanced at a white faced Aveline, “cut me a piece of worg hide.”
I was thinking of the ancient forge we had found. It had four doors, one on each of the four sides. It also had a large bin of coal and was large enough to put the bar in completely. When Aveline returned my sword was clean and I carefully wrapped the piece of hide around the bar. I stood and started for the forge and felt stick to my stomach.
By the time I reached the forge I was more than ready to drop the bar. Instead I lifted it and pushed through one of the doors. I made sure it was all the way in before I moved to the coal bin. I worked quickly and Aveline helped me. Once the forge was ready I started it and closed the doors. We returned to the street and found the elves pulling the bodies towards the far end.
I nodded to Aveline and we began to help and retrieve our arrows. I also took a tooth from each worg and when we were down to the troll I hesitated before we used rope to drag it away. I glanced at Aveline as we walked back towards our camp, “we leave tomorrow.”
She nodded and the elves headed down the street towards the columns. I changed and went to check the forge to find a black shimmering cloud hovering around it. I made sure it did not touch me and opened one door and used star silver tongs to shift the bar and look at it. It was glowing white and I pulled it out and to a large block.
I used a heavy hammer and chisel to notch and then bend the bar before putting it back into the forge. I moved away and the dark cloud started to follow before finally fading away. I bent the bar into a useless piece of metal before leaving it in flowing water. Early the next morning we packed up and the elves joined us as we headed south out of the ancient ruins.
More than once I felt something watching and saw the darkness. When we reached the narrow Green Marsh to the south the dark cloud left. Two days later we crossed a shallow river that was green. Another two days and we came out onto the northern plains. Fall was just beginning when we walked back into Blue Pass.
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