Bounding over roots and holes, sneaking through logs and hollows, Trojan moved at a quick pace, the trail was still strong despite the long passing of time. Hohenhiem worked hard to keep up, but the only one who could truly keep pace was Ilaryon, and he doubled checked the trail every chance he got, he would briefly catch faint impressions of small feet in the dirt or mud two steps here, three there, then they would vanish for a moment. Or they appeared to vanish, here in the dark Svalich woods, it seemed either no one traveled or everyone did, sometimes its seemed tracked crossed and zigged, but it was hard to tell exactly how old they were, it was a wonder he could find the girls’ tracks, thankfully they were much smaller then the rest. Finally the determined mutt slowed his pace, he came to a small , peaceful clearing in the woods. The grass here swayed gently in the wind, the sound of small night insects chirped and the ever-present full moon cast calming shadows of the grim world around them, it was like pocket of bliss in nightmare they were currently engulfed.
Trojan suddenly stopped, in the center of the grove he barked but Hohenhiem’s spell had Already warn off, the message was clear either way though, the trail ended here. Ilaryon moved to confirm the suspensions, indeed the trail ended. The four were at first let down, but they began to marvel at the place they found around them, Andareta found a strong felled log, and for a time her and Hohenhiem sat there watching the lighting bugs fly in the pale light. Ilaryon marveled at the beauty of the live game of the area, deer, birds squirrels and other creatures, whom he had all but forgotten now roamed around this peaceful place. Zara, simply walked the entire grove searching for something, she looked excited every time a turned rock reveled some strange unknown bug, or when she found glowing mushrooms new things were exciting and her mind raced with the possible uses for all of the strange curios she found.
After a short time the party rejoined, and regain their sense of purpose this was a nice break but they sought a missing girl, and now had now leads. “We have to find her, but I think this proves my point, the vampire took her! what was his name Stradh? I think” Andareta started off. “We can’t know that, but I think its safe to say there’s nothing more to learn here, as peaceful as it is…” Ilaryon noted, as he gestured around the grove, it was clear the idea of leaving pained him. “I agree” Hohenhiem added “Besides there has to be more information about this devil character in town, it was a god effort but perhaps this girl is truly lost” Zara simple nodded in approval, the adventurers were not ready to give up, but it was clear this place we of no further use to them.
As one would expect, the Ranger, Ilaryon first heard the men approach, a rustle of the grass, the snapping of branches whom ever it was, either had no regard for the forest or wanted to be heard. His wood elf ears almost stood on edge as they cross the threshold in to the grove, from every direction he heard them, this was indeed deliberate. It was Zara who first noticed them with her eyes however, it is typical of a drow to be alert for treachery, six men circled the group, and as they grew closer each member reached for their weapon of choice, Hohenhiem gripped his longsword, and Ilaryon the two blades at his hips, Andareta and Zara reach for this crossbows, they knew these men were not friends.
The Six encircled them were dressed in petty rags and bore no weapons or even shoes, despite this their stance was threating and the four adventures stood in a solid circle facing them. “Please you have to help us, we’ve been lost for days and there are some terrible creatures in the forest!” Andareta and Zara both went to speak, but Zara won out “We haven’t seen anything out here all night, in fact we’ve been looking for someone”
The man at the tip of the pack, the closet to her spoke back, it was hard to understand through his thick accent, and equally think beard, in fact all the men wore thick patches of facial hair, and their bodies seems just as coated in the stuff. ” Well we haven’t see none else out here, we were taken seen, we think by servants of that devil, they crashed on the road and our cage was broken open, we ran for it. Now ere stuck out here could you at least point the way to Vallakai for us?”
Now Andareta responded, and the two dark figures shared a glance, “we haven’t a clue where Vallakai, or whatever is, now why are you out here again? because slaves don’t try to trap the only help they’ve found all night!”
Again the Gruff, bearded voice answers, “I suppose you’re right, we’ll have to work on that for next time, eh?” He took a pause as him and the other men all shared looks. “Were really here look for dinner tonight” As he finished, he fell onto the ground screaming in pain, and the other men fell around them in similar fashion. The dark hair that covered their bodies grew and grew along with the shouts of pain and terror, blood spewed from elongated legs and arms, all around them now stood large lupine creatures, which glissaded in the moon light. From deep in the gullet of the monsters rang that same high pitched cry which had chased them through the roads, these were the monsters lurking, and they had found their prey.
(Photo Credit: Tribaity.com)