|by Mona Ankeny
Trace Jenaris, a young half-elf druid strolled through the heavy old forest enjoying the bird songs of Spring. Even the smells of the many different plants and the sight of creatures going about their daily life made her feel part of the Whole and with the Universe. All the years of study had been so worth it. She smiled at a grey squirrel holding an acorn.
‘I need to get home, so I can start reading this new scroll.’ She thought as she patted the rolled up parchment in her cloak pocket. ‘But, why wait?” She found a nice spot near a tree and sat, pulling out the scroll.
“Fate’s Cadere” the title read. She knew from her past that Fate’s Cadere was a colossal pit in the interior of the continent. Her mother and father had gone there when she was still a child. When her mother returned, all she said of her father; he was “lost to the pit”. Over the years she had learned that the pit was said to have much magical energy.
What had happen there to cause her mother to return with her spirit crushed and twisted? What had she seen to make her desire to stay in dire wolf shape when she was awake? And have nightmares when asleep? What had really happened to her father?
The traveling salesman who had sold Trace the parchment said he’d heard there was a call out for those who wanted to adventure to Fate’s Cadere, was to come to Sagetown. “There is an exploration party being assembled of people with special skills to go and explore the grand Pit.” He’d said. She would study the parchment and go after the Spring Festival. Flying as a hawk would be the fastest and easiest way to go. She smiled again, what a good day it turned out to be.
After reading only a few lines, she heard the clumsy, heavy footsteps of a gang of hobgoblins. She peeked around the big trunk of the tree to see that there were four of them. Their hair color ranges from dark reddish-brown to dark gray. They have red-orange skin. Their eyes are yellowish or dark brown, while their teeth are yellow. Their garments were bright blood red with black-tinted leather. Only the one that seems to be the captain carried a polished hand ax and it was in good repair. The other three carried clubs made from thick branches of wood.
They walked along talking in Common. In their rough way they seemed to be planning something. As they passed her without noticing her, she heard; “We set up camp near river, there easy to catch Human childs.” The captain said. Captain, Trace Jenaris knew was taken from the Human’s army for leader. “The childs easy to sell for slaves. We make big money for booze and weapons.”
The other three agreed by hooting and pounding their fists on their chests. This went on for a minute or so giving Trace time to move to another tree for further close eavesdropping.
‘This will not happen in my forest.’ She vowels o herself as she pulls a dagger from one of her many pockets in her druid cloak, and throws it hard. It lands deep in the last hobgoblin’s back. It falls to the ground with a grunt.
Surprised the other 3 turn around. The few moments it takes them to realize just what happen, Trace Jenaris was whispering the chant to cast an easy Tangle spell. She grabbed a hand full of grass and threw it in the direction of the hobgoblins. Vines and throne bushes turned and latched onto the hobgoblin’s legs. The captain hopped and pulled away before he was held. The other two were no so lucky, they were held firmly.
The captain saw Trace by the tree and started running toward her with ax held high. Quickly she pulled her Auguva, an elven made scimitar, and jumped away as the clumsy ax stroke carved chucks from the trunk. He’s big and fast, the next swing leaves a scratch on her sword hand. She jabs up and cuts the underside of his arm several inches. Blood pores down as he howls in pain. She leaps onto a rock and jumps high enough she can stab the sword down between the captain’s neck and leather vest. He went down hard.
The others were growling and howling. Pulling they tore loose from the entangling plants. No time to pull her Auguva from the captain she didn’t hesitate to shape shift into a dire wolf, her mother’s favorite form, and kills them both as well.
She licked the cut on her shoulder and thought she’d have to report this to her Chef right away. She ran on toward the Holy Grove without turning back.