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Rated: 18+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2229327
They get underway and they run into some troubles along the way.
         Chapter          3          Bowman          Chapter 3





         
Chapter 3


          The girls awoke to the smell of breakfast. It was barely daybreak. Siobahn was well rested but it looked like Sandrial was a disaster. Siobahn immediately felt horrible. She had let the time of the rift get the better of her last night and that must have been awful to listen too. She knew that even Sandrial was feeling the pull of the rift, which probably made it even worse for her. She thought for a moment and then realized that this may have been exactly what she needed to make her a little more open to the thought of all of them getting together at once. A little curl formed on siobahn's lips at that thought.

          "Here you go, ladies." He puts the plates of food on the table as they both move to sit down. "I have packed up what we will need for the trip. Sandrial I . . . need to . . . apologize. I'm sorry about last night. I really am. I didn't mean for you to-"

          "Don't worry about it." She snapped. "It's over and done with, it is what it is."

          "I'm sorry too, I didn't realize-"

          "I said don't worry about it!" Sandrial interrupted. "Let's just eat and get to it, shall we?"

          "Bring your spell components, just in case," Arman suggested after a moment of awkward silence. Sandrial just nodded her head.

          They all ate in silence, packed up, Siobahn put on her armor, and they headed out without a single word to each other.





          For about half the day the journey was smooth and easy, it was mostly downhill and the scenery was beautiful. The walk was peaceful, calm, and serene. It wasn't until they hit the ravine that they experienced a problem. Sandrial, while carefully crossing a rocky part of the ravine had slipped and fallen about twelve feet to an outcropping. Arman felt terrible, she must have still been exhausted from the night before and lost her concentration. Sandrial, more or less, rolled to a spot on the outcropping, her ankle twisted pretty badly. Moreover, a small band of gnolls began stalking the crew a couple of hours earlier. Arman immediately threw a rope to her. Wrapping the rope around a nearby tree for leverage they began to pull until she screamed in pain.

          "I'll have to drop down and pull her up; luckily it's not all that steep." He slid down the line easily. He looked over her swollen ankle and determined that it was broken. "You'll have to hold onto me tight. While on the way up, memorize one of your magic missile spells, we might need it." She couldn't help but think of the last time she held onto him tight. 'Wow, the last time I held him this tight was when we were... stop it! I can't think this way anymore. And why do I need to memorize a magic missile spell, what was up?' She thought.

          He pulled Sandrial out of danger as quickly and carefully as he could, knowing that even more danger potentially lurked right around the corner.

          Out of breath, and, quite frankly, scared out of her wits but ready to dish out the pain as she saw fit, she lay down safely away from the cliff face. She stared around intently looking for the danger Arman was sensing. She knew him well and knew that he probably sensed the danger instead of actually seeing it, but she also knew him well enough to know that his instincts were spot on.

          He knelt next to her bringing with him several splint sticks. He rendered a makeshift splint that was rather supportive and less painful than she thought it would be. "Can you stand?" He asked her.

          "Yes, I'll be okay, not as fast as we need, but I'll be okay for now." She lied.

          "What's wrong? I'm ready for something; it's back there I know it, I can feel it too, but what am I looking at? I'll go check on Sandrial and see what I can do now that I'm a cleric too." Siobahn said.

          "She's got a broken ankle, do what you can with what you know. I have to cover us in case something happens. You ready with the magic missiles or fireballs?"

          "What are you sensing Arman? I think I know you pretty well and you wouldn't be so vigilant right now if you haven't sensed something." Sandrial said.

          "Gnolls." He said sarcastically. "We will need to traverse this forest from now on which will put us in their area for now; this is too dangerous to keep going this way." He told both women. "So far though, it's odd, the gnolls have been keeping their distance. They normally attack anyone in their territory and that territory is anywhere they can see. It might be just me as well."

          "I knew they were back there as well . . . well, I knew SOMETHING was back there. Do you think their weird behavior is being caused by the rift?" Siobahn asked kneeling to help Sandrial.

          "Can't tell, maybe, but then it could be this, Morticus. He did come this way last we saw. I suppose anything is possible. We'll rest here for a bit, then we need to move if we want to make the campsite by dark."

          Siobahn puts her hands over Sandrial's ankle. A dim light emanated from her hands then they all heard a loud snap and Sandrial cried out in immense pain, but the pain began to lessen a bit after that.

          "I'm sorry that hurt a bit-"

          "A bit?! That hurt more than the fall did!" Screamed Sandrial.

          "Yeah, that was the bone snapping back into place. Now the pain will remain for a while, your ankle is still healing. It's okay to put your weight on it, but it'll hurt for a bit." Siobahn told her.

          'Some cleric you are! Don't you have something that will ease the pain making it easier to travel?"

          "I'm sorry, I can only heal small wounds right now, and since I don't know the cleric spell I used my normal powers. I've never tried to heal a broken bone though. I'm glad it worked." Siobahn told her.

          "Pfft," Sandrial spat.

          "We only have about six miles to go before we get to the bridge. So we should at least get there by dark, then it's only a couple of miles to the site." Arman said as they headed into the forest.

          Both Arman and Siobahn could easily climb the trees and branches, but Sandrial wasn't that adept right now, so Arman sent Siobahn into the trees to keep watch on those pesky gnolls who were still following, as well as any forward threat that might catch them off guard. Every time he looked up he could see under her armor and had to constantly look down and away remembering the night before.

          They were crossing from the ridge that hid the moons from them to the next hill. The Rift's magic will be much stronger now. He's even noticing Sandrial's curves again. It was beginning to get tough for him to concentrate, as he thought about slowly running his hand up her inner thigh and her back arching in pleasure, as she had once done with him. He had to tell himself to stop thinking like this; he had Siobahn to play with right now, and a menacing threat to deal with.

          They needed to get to the campsite so that he could get to his meditations if the two women he was with could or would make that possible. In fact, he had to push away the thoughts of both women simultaneously going down on him. He tried to keep his mind on getting to the campsite, battle free. Unfortunately, a loud whistle came from high up on the trees as Siobahn let loose an arrow in the gnoll's direction just as Arman heard the gnoll battle-cry . . . 'from in front of us!'

          "They've trapped us!" He sounded surprised and worried. "I can't believe it!"

          He spun around to the rear with his bow out and an arrow knocked within the blink of an eye, though he could see nothing. He couldn't feel the air pulse or the smell that surrounded them he knew they were encroaching on them. 'These fuckers are intelligent!' He thought. The forest brush was thick and tall enough to hide almost anything in here, except maybe a giant, he chuckled at that, then realized that there had been a band of gnolls traveling through here about six years ago and they stayed well hidden. He ran into the leader at that time and they struck up a bargain whereas they would not hunt the animals he uses for food, and he would not hunt them down one by one starting with his own family. He knew that they were more loyal to their family than they were to food. His warning, the agreement, was accepted, albeit, reluctantly. They seemed to have tentative respect for each other. But now, these gnolls seemed to be hunting them.

          He spun around, with a flick of his wrist, he grabbed Sandrial and lifted her to the lowest branch he could see. It was only about five feet from the ground but she made it. He threw the rope around the next branch up and tied a knot at the bottom of the rope so she could step on it. He sensed him coming up behind him before he saw him. In almost an instant the arrow was knocked and fired. An arrow slammed into the gnolls ear dropping him like a sack of rocks. Sandrial grabbed the rope as he hoisted her up to the next branch, before spidering his way up to the branch himself. She was relatively safe at this height, gnolls stood between seven and eight feet tall, so she was safely out of reach.

          He fired another arrow to their rear and brought down another of those nasty buggers. These gnolls were different somehow, they were bigger. As he took notice of that, the tree shook hard as three of them from the front line slammed into the tree below them, 'and they use strategy?!' He questioned alarmingly.

          Trapped in the trees it seemed that Arman and Siobahn could use this forest well. Sandrial was led to another tree limb where she had to carefully cross due to the thinness of the branches there, at the end was a wide tree branch where she could sit and perform a spell or two then the trees grew together to form a more stable walking path to the part of the tree she could sit on. She looked at Siobahn. Siobahn smiled and gave her a wink.

          Arman and Siobahn took to gently caressing the tree limbs to seek out and destroy these gnolls that seem to want them dead. 'Why are these two tribes working together? They war with each other more than they do with us.'

          "What is going on?" Arman yells to his counterparts.

          "I have no idea just keep killing," Sandrial responds.

          Meanwhile, Sandrial sits down and takes aim at a nearby gnoll and fires a magic missile at it. Its head just vanished in a splattering of blood.

          "Right? Too bad we can't eat these damn things." Arman Jokes. A slight whistle alerts Arman to look up at Siobahn, and almost right up her armor, putting that thought aside, she points to her empty quiver, moves her hips slightly, and smiles. Luckily, Arman had his quiver that never seemed to run out of arrows.

          Just below him and to the right stood three gnolls, all about ten feet tall. 'Yeah, they're bigger!'. He's happy that he brought Sandrial higher into the trees. He notched three arrows and took aim. He looked up and saw Siobahn standing against her bow, tempting him to go ahead and fire, thinking he couldn't do it. He had wanted to try this since the time he was able to kill two elk with one shot. He took his breath and steadied himself. He let loose and the arrows seemed to take their own sweet time to their targets, his heartbeat fast as he watched the first arrow crack into the first target's skull. The two outside gnolls had just enough time to look up and see the arrows coming straight at them, one managed to move out of the way quick enough to graze its cheek. The other one watched as the arrow pushed through its pupil and into that small brains that seem to rot in his skull. Two gnolls dropped. A sense of disappointment came over him as he fired another arrow into the other gnoll.

          He didn't even bother looking at Siobahn, after all, he didn't do it for her and disappointment to learn from. They both scrambled over to the branch that Sandrial was perched on.

          "They may have been lead here by the phase demon. Hold on a sec." Sandrial said as she recited the quick-phrase and a bolt of lightning shot out from her and slammed into another one of those beasts bouncing off of one gnoll and into two others, at the same time Arman released another arrow successfully into another ambitious gnoll that was creeping up behind her in the trees. Just then they heard the roar of the phase demon and several howls.

          "Lunchtime," Arman said looking in the direction of the howls. As he turned he saw the leader standing within sight just staring at him with a look of absolute anger but also anguish, as they all heard more howls off in the distance. Arman saw him cringe so he motioned that he wanted this all to stop so they could talk. He nodded his head and ran off into the brush with a loud whistle. Arman made his way to the rope.

          "Stay here, I'll be right back," and Arman was gone.

          Arman jumped down to run after the leader. He caught up with him not too far off. Arman noticed Several gnolls protecting the same leader as the one that he had the agreement with.

          "Greetings Acktung. I come seeking assistance and as you have seen we can take care of ourselves but we still need your help."

          "You bring this . . . Thing to slaughter us!" Acktung said. "And you wish us to help you!"

          "No. not at all. We hunt this thing intending to end it."

          "You lie! Like all elves! What reason do we have to trust you?"

          "None Acktung. You have absolutely no reason to trust us, but think about this; have I ever once come back to hunt you since our agreement? I have kept to our agreement now you keep to yours and either leave or help us."

          This got Acktung thinking and he looked at his guards perplexed for a moment.

          "What you need from us?"

          "We would like protection from all that is in this forest that whishes us harm; as well as protection from it! We mean to destroy it, and its creator. He can make more of them." He told them. "We know you can't kill it, but we might be able too. Let us try, we die if we fail."

          The Gnoll thought about this for a few seconds as he heard several more gnolls fall to this creature.

          "This does not destroy our agreement? We thought you did this."

          "We did not do this. We are looking to stop this."

          "We have deal, you shall have your protection." He spat, obviously not happy about it but knowing his clan would surely die if he didn't succeed.

          "Then it's settled, you will protect us to the best of your ability?"

          "Yes, now go. Before I look weak in front of my clan."

          He quickly thrust a knife to Arman's throat. Arman didn't even blink.

          "If you betray us, it is open season on you and your lands, whether you be here or not." Pulling his knife away.

          With that Arman bowed out and backed away walking now towards the trees. An alarming number of hyena cries were heard as he walked back to the girls.

          When he got back to Sandrial and Siobahn he noticed how high up they were and motioned to Siobahn to help Sandrial down to the ground.

          "That's it! I have got to remember the longer rope next time." Arman said. As they were climbing down from the trees, Sandrial noticed what looked like a path heading the way they were going and obviously back the way they came. She also noted that the gnolls backed away as well, both tribes.

          "Where does that path go Arman?" Sandrial asked.

          "It's the one I carved out a couple of years ago I forgot I had this one."

          "Your forest, eh?" Siobahn sarcastically remarked.

          "Oh shut up!" He sneered. She smacked him on the ass with a smile as he walked by to lead them all down and away from the trees.

          The trail was remarkably beautiful but unremarkably dull and boring from there to the bridge, but then, they had had enough excitement for the time being. Arman also noticed that the gnolls had them surrounded but kept their distance. They were indeed keeping them safe from other predators. He knew he could handle whatever came there way but he also knew he had to exert control over the leader.

          The trees loomed overhead for miles it seemed, though the trees were a full three hundred feet tall or more in some places. Those were the mother trees with deep purple leaves. The path was as grassy as a green pasture and just as soft. Some smaller trees formed an arch over the path in places. Soon they were at the ravine crossing. It was three ropes wide as a footpath with only ropes as handholds.

          "You expect me to cross this with my ankle such as it is?!" Sandrial exclaimed.

          "Since when do you back down from a challenge, you've softened since we dated."

          "Oh shut up, I'll be fine! Let's go!"

          Arman watched as Siobahn start her crossing first. Then Sandrial about ten feet behind her. Arman took up the rear and waved off the gnolls thanking them.

          About halfway across the bridge, Sandrial slipped off the footpath. She grabbed the hand ropes as tightly as she could and pulled herself back up.

          "Are you ok!" Arman yelled and moved a little closer to make her feel better.

          "I'm fine!" She always acted like she was in complete control and bulletproof. He also knew that she was an adrenaline junky as well, that probably excited her. The rest of the way across the bridge she was extremely careful on the bad ankle which still hadn't fully healed.

          Once they all reached the other side safely He sat them down to take a break, Sandrial was still breathing pretty hard.

          "Let's break out a little jerky and let Sandrial calm down a bit," Arman said.

          "I'm fine let's just go."

          "We only have a couple of miles to go and even if we take a break for a few minutes we will still make camp before nightfall."

          They ate the jerky and drank some water in silence. Arman and Siobahn knew full well that the incident scared the shit out of her. When he saw that Sandrial had calmed down a bit they packed up and got ready to leave.

          "We should probably get moving." He looks at Siobahn now as she sits in her shiny leather armor that almost matched her dark shiny skin. He gazed at her long strong legs and her tight abs and then he noticed the armor that completely covered her chest, teasing him. He saw that she knew he was looking at her, she was smiling, so he threw one back at her. He was beginning to enjoy the looks and the friendship that was now developing between the two of them. He also knew that his sexual arousal was helping in that respect. He did want kids and she was a strong and feisty woman. She reminded him a lot of his late wife. He thinks to himself that she would want him to move on and be happy, chuckling again, realizing that she'd also be jealous as fuck right now and may act similar to Sandrial.

          That started him wondering if she wasn't jealous. She looked at him with contempt, he had wondered if it wasn't because there was another young woman in his presence, one who was sexy and got along with him wonderfully. But then he thought of the way the Rift magically makes women fight over guys and makes them hate each other. That was only slightly present; if she did want him she controlled the Rift's effects very well, as they had all been doing so far. They've all trained themselves for the Rift and its effects for many hundreds of years. The last time he remembered giving in was with his wife.

          "The campsite is only about two hours away now if we hurry." About an hour and a half into the hike he spotted something.

          "Shh!" He crouched low, his bow out. Siobahn had heard something as well but decided to watch his athletic body take charge of his thoughts instead for a change. He knew it too. He knew she was watching as he crouched and stalked his prey anyway. She watched his leg muscles, hard and moving with such perfect purpose. His muscles also glistened in the almost moonlight that was about to brighten the sky. She could tell he was hunting something, probably a deer, at least that's what it sounded like to her.

          She couldn't help but think about that baby deer she saw the other morning and how the phase demon devoured it for no reason. She wanted so badly to save that poor creature. It's not like the phase demon needed to eat it. The shadow killed it for sport, or as a show of force to them. Then she thought that maybe it wasn't even aware of them when he phased out. 'But then how does it know where its prey is?' She thought. 'No, it's fully aware of us, it's taunting us so it has to be aware.'

          Arman took to the underbrush and had been gone for a while. They stared at each other as if they were enemies. Not a word was spoken, at least vocally, they both understood that the time of the Rift makes people crazy, so they were able to keep from killing each other, and that feeling didn't have anything to do with Arman. It must have been some pheromone issue. Now they just awaited Arman's return to see the deer he would bring back for dinner.

          Sure enough, he had made a one-person stretcher and it was carrying a large wolf, not a deer.

          "Well, that's unusual; do you think there's a pack nearby?" Sandrial asked quickly.

          "Could be, I don't usually get out this far, at least not to the east, I've actually never been passed this campsite we're going to, except to the grove. I usually hunt down to the southwest of here," He told them. Siobahn grabbed the other end of the stretcher to make it easier for Arman while Sandrial grabbed some of the other gear they were all carrying.

          The campsite had a fire pit but it was dug into the ground and instead of pine needles, it was stocked with a thick layer of some kind of red leaves and a large husk of bark covered the fire pit's top.

          They put the wolf down at the side of the camp. They all heard a clack after pressing a few buttons on his wrist band. Then came the sound of a low hum as they saw a large workbench rise out of the ground.

          "First things first." He said. "Let's get that fire started, you two do that and I'll start preparing tonight's dinner."

          "That place is treacherous, new rumors say it's magically haunted," Sandrial informed him after they had lit the fire.

          "And how do you know that?

          "I have my connections. Sandrial holds up her laptop. "Besides I asked around, the Delzune Ruins right? After all, where else would it be heading? My friends have been telling me that there's an awful, evil, magic brewing up there: and there is a reward being offered for anyone who defeats it."

          "And your sources, are they reliable?" He asked,

          Sandrial pursed her lips.

          "Do you think I would have brought it up otherwise?"

          Sandrial grabs her satchel of books and begins laboring through them in the moonlight.

          "I need more light." Sandrial states. Siobahn responds by finding some branches to use as torches to put around her.

          "Any other creatures we should be aware of? That you know of?" Arman asked.

          "Rumors say there are many more and different types, trolls, gnolls, Kobolds, maybe. A lot though, the way they put it, we might need more people. It is also mentioned that there is an unknown creature up there that is like a large caterpillar with swords and maybe even magic."

          "Anything else we should know? I want to know what we're up against."

          "I am in constant contact with them. So cool your jets until I find out more info, okay?"

          Arman stops his preparations and looks back to the fire. Sandrial is looking through her books and her laptop while Siobahn is intelligently setting up torches around our campsite perimeter. 'It's good to hunt with people who know what they're doing finally.' He thinks to himself. It also doesn't hurt that he finds them both quite attractive, as he thinks that, he also realizes that he needs to meditate soon, but now, everyone is hungry. He feels it is his duty to feed them at his campsite; after all, they are guests in his house.

          Sandrial now sits near the fire cross-legged and in a meditative posture. Arman guesses she's alarming the perimeter so that they are alerted to anything that may come through the barrier. He goes back to skinning the wolf that he's preparing for dinner.

          "I have some potatoes planted over there." Arman shows Siobahn. "Can you boil some for water for me? There are onions next to them, just don't use too much water. The meat is almost ready to cook, would you like a wolf cloak? I try to use everything I can. As long as the meat doesn't go bad by morning I will dry some for jerky."

          "Yes! I would LOVE a cloak, thank you."

          "Okay, It'll take a couple of days for me to finish, but for now the meat is ready to be cooked. Ready to eat?"

          "It's about time! I'm starving!" Sandrial says. "The only thing I could find concerning that worm thing that they told me about is it's called a Tenebrak arm. Only the Tenebrak arm is MUCH smaller than what was described and it also doesn't have arms. The Tenebrak arm also secretes an acid when it attacks; let's hope it isn't one of those." She tells him.

          As he put the meat on the sticks that were going onto the fire; he sat down on one of the pre-made benches that surrounded the campfire.

          "Who wants a beer, Sandrial, don't answer that." He says as he just handed her one. Siobahn declined and Arman grabbed a water bottle for each of them.

          Arman got up, checked the meat, and walked over by his bag. He riffled through it, took out his dual swords and some daggers, and set them on the ground. They also saw what looked like throwing knives and axes. He pulled out a bowie knife and some twine. He started looking around and found some stones. They all seemed to be square-ish or even rectangular.

          "What are you building Arman?" Siobahn asks.

          "Every time I come up to this campsite I try to build something." It also serves as a distraction as his mind is now on the two of them making out and getting ready to have sex. He has to be careful as to how he sits, or even stand, so he decided to build this depot now, to get his mind, and penis, off of those thoughts. "This will be my supply box. I am eventually going to make a small cabin out here. I need to drop off my tree saw and some weapons for any needed use such as trolls or whatnot. I have not explored much past the Azgroot grove here, in fact, this is about as far as I have gone, and the Azgroot grove is just over this crest and down the hill on the other side. It has some, shall we say, undesirables that reside inside the grove. It's best we get what we need from the outskirts as quickly as possible. Kobolds and goblins are the most common creatures, but they can be pretty nasty when they're in a group and they generally hang out in packs. And whatever you do, don't say anything about their height. That's IF we run into any and hopefully we won't."

          "That doesn't sound like fun to me, and what are these things? Kobolds. I've only heard of them?" Sandrial just looked over and shook her head in disbelief.

          "That's right, you're not from around here, this should be an adventure for you." Sandrial beamed.

          Siobahn snapped her head and glared at Sandrial. "That's not funny'!" Siobahn roared; her face turned red with irritation.

          "Easy ladies," Directing his comment more towards Sandrial than Siobahn however, he looked at them both. "We'll be fine, we're bigger than them and they know we have the upper hand, what's that saying? 'They're more afraid of you than you are of them', so just relax Siobahn and you Sandrial . . . you be nice." 'It's like working with children.' He dared not say that out loud. "Just relax everyone, let's just get through tonight. I think the food is ready." He said after mixing his mortar. He grabbed two beers from his pack, handed one to Sandrial, and one to Siobahn who took it this time.

          They all sat in their respective seats to sit down to a fine meal together, the girls sitting face to face on opposite sides of the fire. The onions were boiled down with some added spices and was poured over the meat while it was cooking, giving the meat an onion flavor, almost gourmet.



          "I think I should go and get some of this bark if it's as close as you say," Sandrial said. "This oil takes a day and a half to two days to cure so the sooner I start this, the better. You never know if we're going to see this thing. Honey," directing her comment to Siobahn. "While I'm gone you and Arman can-"

          "No, no, It's not safe we will do it tomorrow so why don't you help her learn some actual spells and I'll Cut up this meat and get it ready to be dried out. I also want to work on your cloak. I will make you one after my next kill Sandrial." He said trying to include her as well.

          "I'll be fine without one." She snapped. "Just worry about making one for your little girlfriend here."

          "That's fine Sandrial. Now how are we going to get your contact up here?" Arman said.

          "I gave him directions from here; he also has me on his GPS. But Arman, what happens if the gnolls attack him."

          "Don't worry about them, they will protect him all the way to the bridge, they know better than to fuck with any human or elf right now. They will figure he's with me. Does he have any protective spells?"

          "Yes, he's a high-level cleric. But because my ankle feels much better, I will go and meet him halfway if it makes you feel any better."

          "If you think he can handle himself than that's all I need to know," Arman tells her.

          "That's okay, I don't need to be here for the oil to cure, just don't touch it! Besides, it would give you two some time alone without me around."

          "I don't feel safe with you going all the way over there by yourself, though I do like the idea of being alone with you," he looks over at Siobahn and winks. She grins and blushes a little.

          "But Arman?" she says.

          "I don't want to take the chance, I'm sorry not tonight hun." Her lips purse and her eyes get all puppy-like and she tilts her head to the side.

          He doesn't want to take the risk that if she's not pregnant already that she could get pregnant. Besides, they have to focus on stopping this morticus. He can't afford to let the Time of The Rift get to him. He had already done that last night but that was in the safety of his own home. They're not in a very dangerous place but still, he would feel better having an experienced mage with him and Siobahn. In truth, he did not feel safe sending her to meet her friend alone and he didn't feel like the one who should stay behind and guard their belongings. He knows that goblins could come and raid their camp at any time, especially if nobody's there.

          "It should still be about a day before he gets here, he's almost at the house," Sandrial says looking at her tablet.

          "I'll tell you what, when he gets close to the bridge you can go and meet him there. It's only a two-hour hike from there and maybe less if you're not carrying your dinner," he laughed. "What can you tell me about the mage that summoned this thing? Anything?"

          "I can tell you a few things and one of them is that he's not a mage," she pauses for effect. "He's a warlock, but I can tell you he's not in control of this thing. He must be a lower level than the spell he cast because it now has a mind of its own; I do know that much without knowing the specifics of the spell he used."

          "Great. So we have ourselves a rogue phase demon with a mind of its' own?" He asked.

          "That's what I said didn't I?" Sandrial snapped back.

          "You don't have to get persnickety with me. I'm just trying to make sure I'm understanding you correctly." He said almost angrily. "What else you tell us?"

          Siobahn just sits there quietly watching the tension grow between the two and began to wonder if it's sexual tension or a simple argument. Both of them were short with each other.

          "Well according to the chatter; he's this all-powerful mage. But I tend to think they're a bunch of idiots. If he can lose control of one of his summonings then he's not very powerful at all."

          "What if the summoner is not the one in charge, maybe he was told to summon the thing and it wasn't in his power to do it yet?" Arman asked.

          "Yeah, I thought of that too, that could make this whole trip a whole lot harder, we'll need Zeth if that's the case."

          "Then if we kill the summoner the creature could still roam free?" Siobahn is finally able to interject her thoughts on the situation.

          "Well shit, I didn't even think of that," Arman added.

          "Maybe that's why it's acting like it's toying with us, to him it's just fun," Siobahn said.

          "Little darlings got a point." Sandrial pipes in. "We don't yet know the whole situation, maybe Zeth has heard more since he's been on the outside for a while. I'm sure he read all about this situation on his way over."

          "But from what I gather on these chat sites. This is worth a ton of credits, I mean, like a ton. So yeah, it will be getting rid of something on your property-"

          "Through my property, I don't own all of it."

          "You might as well call it yours. After all, nobody else owns it." Sandrial finished.

          He couldn't argue that point with her but what if the mage is powerful enough to rule here? Could he stop him? Did he have the team that could do it? Just the three of them or is he putting them all at risk. 'Why am I really out here? Do I want to stop this terror and kill the mage or am I just looking for a way to improve my skills and prove that I'm still good enough to do it?'

          "I don't know about putting you and Zeth in this kind of danger, can all four of us stop it? Or am I just leading the lamb to the slaughter as it were?" Arman asked both of them. "You' you know I can't stop you from coming, you have a vendetta against this thing and no matter what I do, you will follow me anyway." He said looking right to Siobahn.

          "Fuck that! I haven't had to use my skills in years; it felt good to finally blow something's head off again." Sandrial said.

          "You sure? You're my ex, but I still don't want you to die because I was foolish enough to go after this thing or the evil that's brewing here. And to make matters worse now I'm dragging a high-level cleric into the fray. Maybe this was all a big mistake, maybe I should just go alone like I always do." Arman said; then pointing to Siobahn. "Except you, I know I won't be able to get rid of you."

          "Damn straight!" She said then and quickly added; "I think I have that phrase right."

          Arman laughed as did Sandrial. She was still worried about her naivety, was that going to get them all killed?

         12



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