Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Traveling with the high king|
I was a little bored and so were the wolves. We had been here a month after the king had sent a full company after his cousin. It wasn’t that I enjoyed killing or war but sitting and watching him everyday was boring. There had been no other attempts since that first night. I leaned back in my window seat while he spoke quietly with a elf and closed my eyes.
I blinked when I saw the bright lady walk across the room and my dark haired lady stood. I straightened and bowed, “bright lady?”
She smiled, “you have wondering feet Hunter. Go east and leave the elves. On the far side of their forest is a road. The high king is passing and returning to his winter throne. Go with him and perhaps you both may learn something.”
She started to turn before glancing at me, “soon you will face enemies again. The dark ones rise and those of chaos are returning.”
She walked out and I looked at my dark haired lady as she caressed my face before giving me a slap. I sat up as my eyes snapped open. The king turned to look at me as I looked around and stood. I grinned and bowed, “time for me to leave. Say goodbye to your lady for me.”
He stood with a smile, “travel safely.”
I started for the door as all the wolves padded after me and laughed, “and where would the fun be in that?”
The king laughed as I strode out and the other wolves joined us. I went down and headed for Dale’s tavern. He was outside and smiled when he saw me, “Hunter.”
I grinned, “I need my things and the horses.”
He straightened, “Leaving?”
I nodded, “it is time. The bright lady has given me leave.”
An hour later I was riding east out of the beautiful elven city. The wolves loped ahead and out as they stretched their legs. Even the horses seemed to bounce and have a spring in their step. I stopped beside a stream before the sun set and made camp. The bitch brought me a rabbit and laid down as I cleaned it before starting a small fire.
I lay petting her as I went to sleep that night and woke to the hint of dawn and a chill in the air. I broke camp quickly and led the horses as I walked to warm up. It was a couple of weeks before I reached the edge of the elven woods. Even if the elven rangers weren’t there to tell me I would have known.
It was early afternoon and I slowed as one of the wolves walked out of a bush, “The green ones are ahead.”
I looked at him and dropped out of the saddle, “elves?”
It turned and walked with me, “yes.”
The other wolves slipped out to walk with us and then the bitch. She moved through the others to walk beside me. A minute later an elf stepped out from behind a tree, “what are you doing here human?”
I smiled as I kept walking, “we were protecting your king. Now we are going to wait for the high king.”
He shifted and turned as we started to pass and the others emerged, “you are the Hunter?”
I smiled, “we are hunters.”
One laughed and strode towards us, “I remember you. Elwin was with you last time.”
I glanced at him and looked ahead as the forest suddenly parted and I was looking out on scrub trees and tall bushes, “Elwin has left to travel to the dwarves in the south.”
I hesitated before leading the horses out and gesturing to the wolves who vanished quickly. I looked at the elves as they stopped, “stay safe.”
I sighed as I swung back into the saddle, “now to find the road.”
Two hours later I rode out of the brush and onto the wide clear ground around a road. I hesitated as the wolves joined me and turned south, “we need water.”
One of the wolves panted as she came close, “there is a wide deep stream ahead.”
I smiled, “thank you lady.”
She moved away as they split up and went into the brush again. It wasn’t long before we reached the stream and it was more of a small river with a crude bridge over it. On the other side was a large area that had been used many times and had rings of stone for fire pits. I unsaddled the horses and let them browse on the tall grass beside the water as I made camp.
I went to collect wood before stripping and wading into the cold water with my fishing pole. I caught a large trout and walked out to the bitch sitting beside the water, “the game here is scarce.”
I cleaned the fish and filleted it before tossing the large fillets to her. I ended catching enough for all the wolves which was fun. My dinner was cooking when the wolves lifted their heads. I turned to look north and a few moments later saw the columns of horses. It wasn’t long before the army swept into the area and filled it quickly.
A few minutes later a man in a bright colored clothes walked into my camp, “who are you?”
I glanced at him while checking to see if the fish was done, “someone with manners.”
His face reddened, “insolent scum.”
I sighed as the wolves came to their feet with a growl. The man froze as he realized they were all around him. I smiled, “tell you what friend. If you strip and walk into the stream I won’t ask my friends to eat you.”
He swallowed, “I....”
I stood quickly, “Now!”
I could see soldiers nearby watching as he looked at them desperately. I gesture, “you can eat him.”
He screamed and ran into the stream and I grinned before the wolves laid down. I squatted back down and started to remove my dinner as the man floundered while going downstream and walking out. I sat and started eating as a soldier walked into camp and squatted. He smiled, “I am Commander Latriva of the high king’s guards.”
I nodded and swallowed, “Hunter Kimber.”
He nodded, “we had word there was a Hunter with the elven king.”
I took another bite as I nodded, “it was time for us to move on.”
He glanced at the wolves before looking at me, “to where?”
I grinned, “the bright lady said I should travel with the high king.”
He frowned before glancing back, “not a good start.”
I snorted, “the clown in the bright clothes?”
He nodded and I shrugged, “people should learn to respect others before they step into something they can not handle.”
I sighed, “the bright lady said we would learn something together. She also said the dark ones are rising and those of chaos will return.”
I shook my head, “don’t ask me what that means.”
He laughed as he stood, “I will speak with the king.”
I was done with dinner and had cleaned up when the tall young man walked through the other camp and into mine. He squatted across from my dying fire as I sat checking and cleaning my weapons. I glanced at him and nodded and he smiled, “I am Michael.”
I smiled, “Hunter.”
He glanced at the wolves, “you were guarding the elven king?”
I nodded, “for awhile but I think he is safe now.”
He smiled, “and now you wish to travel with me?”
I looked at him, “you?”
He blinked and then grinned, “the high king?”
I looked at him carefully and grinned, “aye.”
He gestured to the river, “you caught fish for your dinner?”
I nodded, “aye.”
The bitch stood and stretched before walking to him and sitting. He looked at her and smiled as he reached out to scratch behind an ear. He sighed, “very well Hunter. We have a long way to go before we reach our winter quarters.”
He stood and walked away while I watched him. I finished what I was doing and laid back with the bitch beside me. It was the middle of the night when the bitch growled and my eyes snapped open, “what?”
She stood as she looked downstream, “little foul ones come.”
I rolled to my feet and pulled both short swords, “AWAKE!”
The wolves spread out and kept growling as the army beside us slowly woke. The goblins rushed out of the night and into the few soldiers on guard. I ran towards them with the wolves but more of the small foul creatures were still emerging from the brush. I stabbed one clinging to a soldier while bitting his leg and slashed out into the neck of another.
I spun and sliced out into one leaping towards me and stepped back. It fell and I moved towards a large group attacking a couple of soldiers that were isolated. I stabbed one in the back as the wolves bit and tossed the creatures towards other soldiers. I cut into the back of another’s neck before stabbing one clinging to a soldier.
I ripped the blades free and moved to the side as a goblin leaped towards me. My left blade slashed down through its neck and shoulder as I lunged with the other sword. It took a foul one in the guts and I ripped it out as the two soldiers were pulled back by others as they arrived. The deadly dance continued but more soldiers joined the fight until finally the last goblin fell.
I straightened and looked around before going to check the wolves. They had blood all over them but only one was injured. He had a long shallow cut where a goblin’s claw had ripped down his shoulder. I returned to my camp and opened my pack and blinked at the small glass container on top and a small bottle.
I took them, a candle and a shirt before returning to the wolf. He laid down as his mate whined and kept licking his face. I gently wiped the wound before opening the small bottle, I smelled it before pouring it into the wound. It bubbled and frothed as the wolf shuddered and I waited before using my shirt and wiping the wound clean.
I opened the glass container to see a cream and began putting it in and on the wound. The wolf sighed and even as I watched the wound seemed to close. I gave him a pet before turning to clean my swords. I went to the wounded men and moved a man tending them aside. The bottle and cream never seemed to run out as I began to help them.
The sun was just beginning to rise when I finished and I stretched before returning to my camp. I stripped and wadded into the cold water to wash before returning to dress and pack up and saddle the horses. When I swung into the saddle the whole camp was already beginning to move.
The wolves trotted ahead as I caught up to the king and the few people with him. He looked at me and nodded before the richly dressed noble snorted, “you...”
Another older man turned and hit his shoulder, “ride in the rear.”
The young noble looked at him before bowing, “yes your grace.”
I glanced at the king as we rode and he sighed, “you can speak.”
I snorted, “I don’t need permission. I was trying to decide if I should speak.”
He looked at me and smiled, “and?”
I looked around, “having those around you just because they are noble is not going to make you popular with everyone.”
I could see the older man smile as the king blushed, “and what would they do?”
I shook my head, “find a new high king or another way to live without one.”
He looked at me and then back at the older man who nodded. I sighed, “being a king is like being a servant. You have those around you to wait on you and serve you but you serve them in running their kingdom and protecting them. You provide laws to guide and protect and a fair means to address wrongs.”
He nodded and looked at me, “you sound like a teacher.”
I snorted, “if I were a teacher I would smack your head to get your attention first.”
He looked at me and then laughed and kept it up for a couple of minutes. He finally grinned and shook his head and I glanced at the wolves as one chased a rabbit out of the brush. I brought my bow up and fired in one motion and swung down after I reached the rabbit. I pulled the arrow out and tossed the rabbit to the wolf.
I climbed back into the saddle and rejoining the high king. He grinned, “you do that often?”
I smiled, “think of it as feeding the troops.”
He glanced back as the duke chuckled and then grinned again. He gestured to one of his men and took his bow and quiver. As we rode the wolves chased rabbits out and unlike the day before I fed them as we went. We stopped a few times to walk the horses and give them a break. That was when we talked the most and when the bitch came to walk beside me.
We were approaching another wide shallow stream when one of the wolves came out of the brush, “little foul ones come.”
I quickly dropped out of the saddle, “more goblins.”
The king looked around but the duke was barking orders and soldiers were dismounting. All the wolves moved out of the brush as I pushed my horse to one side. The king swung down and looked around, “are you sure?”
I nocked an arrow and snorted, “nock an arow and keep your eyes open.”
We heard the brush moving and breaking before the goblins appeared and rushed out. I started firing into them with the soldiers until I ran out of arrows and turned to toss my bow. I pulled my short swords as the little foul creatures finally broke free of the brush and the soldiers ran out of arrows.
I stabbed out and into one as my other sword sliced out and to the side. I shifted and side stepped as I brought both swords back. One I plunged into a goblin as it attacked the high king beside me and the other I slashed to my other side. It cut into the neck of a goblin and it stuck in the spine.
I snapped a kick into it as I brought the other sword back. The goblin flew back and into others as my sword was freed. I stabbed into one’s stomach as it leaped for me and turned while bringing my other sword around and down into the neck and shoulder of another following it. More of the soldiers from the rear moved up with long spears.
They began lunging between us to stab the spears into goblins. The wolves were attacking any goblin that was on the edge. The goblins finally stopped attacking and I moved to check the wolves. This time the soldiers had been able to see and none were seriously hurt. I walked to the king who was cleaning his swords.
I nudged him, “walk through your men and see how the are.”
He looked at me and opened his mouth before closing it and looking around. The duke and several of the older nobles were already doing what I had told him and he nodded before moving into the ranks of the soldiers. I shook my head and started to clean my swords. The soldiers pulled the goblin bodies off the road before we started moving again.
We crossed the stream on a stone bridge and moved into a cleared area on the other side to make camp. I set up beside the stream and picketed my horses downstream. I went to bring a large armful of branches back for a fire. I pulled out my fishing rod and waded into the cold water and started tossing out the line.
A huge fish bit on the first throw and I yanked the pole up. I fought the fish for over a quarter of an hour before landing it. Soldiers and nobles were lined up on the bank watching and the king grinned as I walked out with the fish. He squatted to watch as I cleaned and filleted it. I held out the pole and his eyes lit up as he took it and walked into the water.
I went to set the fillets in a frying pan before returning. I gave him suggestions as he began throwing the line out and a few of the older nobles did too. When he caught a fish he danced around and backed towards the shore as he tried to bring it in. It was another large fish and after he landed it I talked him through cleaning and filleting it.
I started my fire as everyone broke up and returned to their area in the camp. I added salt and pepper to our fillets before moving the frying pan. As I cooked I listened to them talk about the fish. After we ate I stood and the bitch nudged me towards the soldiers. I looked at her and then gestured, “take a walk with me.”
The king stood and we began walking through the camp and I stopped to speak to soldiers resting or cleaning equipment. I kept nudging the king and he finally began talking to the soldiers. We traveled for almost a week before entering an old forest. We fought goblins three more times and learned to have our bows ready.
The soldiers had learned to watch for the wolves and what they did. The first signs of trouble was two wolves trotting back towards us from the front. One growled as it got closer, “a large foul one.”
I looked ahead and swung down, “how many?”
I was thinking of orcs but the wolf growled, “one.”
I glanced at the king and the nobles, “a large foul one and from the way they act it isn’t an orc.”
I left my horse as I began to follow the wolves. They turned left off the road and slipped into the bushes. I glanced back as the king and several nobles and guards ran to catch up. The bitch came out of the brush as I was moving through bushes in front of a large foul smelling cave. She caught my pants and pulled back while growling.
I glanced at her as I backed up and then back at the cave, “okay you don’t want me to go into the cave.”
She let me go and moved in front of me as the king arrived. He sniffed and one of the nobles hissed, “troll.”
I glanced at him as stories went through my mind. I grinned and looked around, “we need strong rope.”
I looked at the king and sighing, “you need to think before acting. Trolls are hard to kill right?”
He nodded as the guards and nobles shifted and I smiled, “so if we want to kill this creature and not get a lot of our people hurt how do we do it?”
The old duke chuckled, “rope.”
They looked at him and the king smiled, “how?”
I looked at the cave, “ a two step plan. First we make a snare that will catch one of the troll’s feet and make it fall.”
He followed my look, “and we attack when it is on the ground?”
I shook my head, “we use other prepared snares. First to catch hands and its other foot to hold it.”
I looked at him, “and then we find a way to kill it.”
He turned to a guard, “go get some coils of rope.”
I began pointing to trees, “those have large branches and should be springy enough.”
Bending the branches was hard but simple triggers kept them from moving. I was careful when I placed the loop of rope and set the trip wire. I moved back and we planned what to do once the troll emerged. They weren’t happy about the bait part and I wasn’t thrilled either. Everyone hid as I stood waiting while the sun slowly sank.
The bitch whined from the bush a few paces away and I smiled. As twilight struck the huge creature suddenly emerged. It straightened and looked straight at me. I pulled my swords and shifted as it growled and stomped towards me. Ten paces away it hit the trip wire and the loop of rope snapped up.
It turned as its leg was yanked out and up and slowly fell. The ground shook as everyone suddenly rushed towards it. I had to yell to keep them from attacking. I put my swords away and grabbed one of the loops of rope. I waited as the troll struggled and tried to reach the rope around its foot.
I threw and the loop dropped over an arm, “now!”
One of the guards yanked the trigger and another branch snapped back. The troll yelled as its arm was yanked up and to the side. I moved as the king suddenly shoved another loop over its other foot and yelled, “now!”
Once more a branch sprang back and the trolls legs were spread and lifted. It was flailing around with its one free hand before it was caught in another loop of rope and pulled away and into the air. I relaxed and pulled a sword as I looked at the troll. Several lanterns were brought and men tried to stab it but the swords didn’t penetrate very far.
It struggled and jerked at the ropes and I glanced at the king, “so how do you kill it?”
He sighed, “stab it a lot I guess.”
I shook my head, “think. Like an army you look for weakness.”
I nodded to the troll, “every creature has a weakness or soft spots.”
He frowned as the nobles looked at me. I put my swords away, “what would happen if you used soft spots like maybe the eyes or inside the mouth?”
He looked at the troll and grinned, “a weakness.”
He pulled his long sword and moved forward and lunged to stab into the troll’s open mouth. A foot of steel vanished up into the head before he twisted the sword and pulled it out. The troll was convulsing and spasming as it died and I turned to leave. The camp wasn’t far and I slept fitfully until the bright lady walked out of the forest, “Hunter.”
I looked around and saw my dark haired lady behind me, “bright lady.”
She smiled, “you have taught the high king valuable lessons. Go south and west and you will find an old Keep. It is under siege by those loyal to chaos. Break the siege and free those in the Keep.”
I bowed as the dark haired woman slipped her hand into mine. I opened my eyes and pet the wolf as she sighed with her head on my chest. The new day was just beginning with a blood red dawn.
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