I was in a deep slumber when I felt a gentle prodding in my side. I shoved with my paw and rolled over to resume my sleep… the gentle prodding was replaced with a more forceful push. I opened my eyes to see Chucaro standing over me with a panicked look in her eyes.
“Wargie is missing!” she said in a harsh whisper.
I was instantly on my feet, ready to head out to search for her. The camp was already alert with the sounds of orcs, spiders and wargs gearing up for battle.
“Are you sure she is missing and not just out exploring around?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“She was out on patrol and was supposed to report back in a few hours ago. I did a quick search around the perimeter of Grams, but couldn’t pick up her scent!” she said, her voice getting more panicked by the minute.
We knew Wargie’s patrol route well, as it was the same route Chucaro and I used on a routine basis. “Let’s search the route she was on and see if we can pick up her trail.” Chucaro nodded back, but there was a hint of fear in her eyes. I touched my nose to hers… “We will find her, that I can promise you.” We headed out the front entrance and raced along the northern wall of the mountain protecting Grams.
We stopped a ways down the hill from the entrance near some sun-touched trolls that were still in their stone state, but there was no sign of Wargie’s presence… we turned our attention towards Lugz and headed in that direction… as we approached the keep, I spotted the flag of the Free People flying high in the early morning breeze… this was not good… if the Free People have pushed this close to Grams, there’s no telling what could have happened to Wargie…
I motioned to Chucaro and we went stealth… slowly skirting the perimeter of Lugz while still trying to pick up Wargie’s scent… nothing was picked up among the stench of the dwarves that were patrolling the keep… ugh! They couldn’t hide themselves from a blind warg with no sense of smell!
We were at the Lugz crossroads and veered towards the orc camp to see if there was any sign of her there… judging by the grunts and growls from the guards camped there, there hadn’t been any sighting of wargs for hours… things were beginning to look bleak. We went back into stealth and headed out towards the river outpost in hopes we could pick up some clues before we headed for Hoarhallows… we knew that was a favorite hunting ground of Wargie’s.
The river outpost was still under our command, but the guards in the outpost were rushing every-which-way… I could hear battle commands echoing through the early morning air. As we entered the outpost, I made my way to the Task-master in charge. He was going over battle plans as we approached him.
“We are looking for a warg that hasn’t reported back from her patrol,” I said. He answered with a brush of his hand as his eyes never left the plans. “I said, we are looking for a warg..” My sentence was interrupted as he look at me with his glowing red eyes. “A lost warg is the least of my concerns, whelp! We have a battle to prepare for!” After he felt he got his message across and turned his attention back to the plans, I let out an angry howl and snarled viciously at him. “We need all the help we can get from everyone we have to battle the free people… even the youngest pup!” I heard the sound of swords leaving their sheaths from the surrounding guards as the Task-master slowly stood up and turned to face me… Chucaro moved closer to my side. “We aren’t going to get any help here and we are running out of time,” she whispered to me, glaring with spite at the Task-master. I quickly surveyed our situation and stood down… this wasn’t the time nor the place to get into any type of conflict. “You’re right,” I replied. “Let’s move out.” We slowly backed out of the war room as the guards watched us, swords still drawn with the lust of battle in their eyes.
We raced down the hill towards the water and started to swim towards Hoarhallows… my heart was beginning to sink as I knew the longer we were out, the less chance we had of picking up her trail… we needed to find her, and fast!
We swam around to the eastern wooded shore of the hobbit infested area and went into stealth as we approached the trees… Chucaro stopped suddenly and my ears perked up… instantly in attack mode, I asked her what she picked up. “She’s been here recently,” she said, barely being able to keep the excitement in her voice down to a muffled growl. I gave a quick smile and made my way to the nearest building with Chucaro close behind. We could hear the high-pitched voices of the noisy, little folk as we hid behind some bags of food.
“I still can’t believe we were able to capture that warg so easily!” one hobbit said with such glee in his voice. “And the gold that the dwarves gave us for her… who would’ve known that wargs paid such a high price alive?” I could tell by the scents wafting towards us that there was plenty of food and drink that had been consumed during the night… and this particular hobbit had partaken of a few too many mugs, himself. We waited patiently as the group started to disperse and our target stumbled into the woods to relieve himself. As he completed his watering of the large trees, I pounced on him before he could turn around.
“Answer my questions, hobbit, and you may yet live to see the morning sun. Who took this warg you spoke of and where was she taken to?” I asked through clenched teeth, trying hard to not rip the throat out of him. He must not have completely emptied his bladder as I could feel him soiling himself under my paws. “The dwarves took the beast, they did… must have been around 10 or so of them total. They didn’t say where they were going, but they were traveling towards TR. Oh, please, don’t kill me… I have so many young ones that I need to take care of!” he replied in a feeble voice. Before I could respond, Chucaro ripped out his throat in one quick swipe… “You should’ve considered others having children as well… even us ‘beasts’!” she growled as his last breaths of life left in shallow gurgles. “We need to move, now!,” she hissed. “Before more of these ‘things’ return!” I nodded in agreement. “Let’s hurry to TR to see if we can head them off.” She nodded as we both went into stealth and made haste to TR.
We appeared at TR amongst a throng of free people. We froze momentarily, thinking we were going to be detected when Chucaro led us towards a rocky outcropping. With all the commotion going on, we easily made it without being seen. Chucaro looked at me with glee in her eyes… before she could say anything, I noticed it too… Wargie’s scent… and it was very strong here. We quickly ducked as we heard voices of men approaching.
“Why those dwarves would want to capture a warg is beyond me… even with the gold they gave us to allow them safe passage through the Coldfells doesn’t make me trust them one bit. The only good warg is a dead one, but I don’t even want to think about what cruel experiments they have planned for that one… almost feel sorry for it, to be honest,” one of them said.
“Aye, I’d have to agree with you there,” replied the other. “Being around those dourhands just makes my blood curdle… would have been better off just killing them as well as the warg and be done with it. But the Commander-General gave us strict orders. Plus, with the size of that cage carrying the warg, it’ll take them a long time to reach their destination… I sure hope they know what they are doing… a warg loose in the areas around Rivendell will be sure to strike fear in everyone.”
As they moved away and their conversation died off, I turned to Chucaro. “We need to head back to Grams. We’re going to need help getting through the Coldfells and I know just the group that can help. I have a plan…”