“There is a group of 4 hobbits down there… with the 3 of us, we can easily take them out!” Wargie said in a hushed voice, impatience beginning to seep in.
“You need to be patient, Wargie,” Chucaro gently admonished. “You need to survey the entire situation before deciding on a course of action. Are these 4 in one group or multiple? Do their patrol paths intersect or do they meet here and split up? Careful observation of your surroundings can mean the difference between life and death.”
I chuckled softly as I saw Wargie’s shoulders slump ever-so-slightly. She had the enthusiasm and the skill to be a great warg, but her youth was the part that needed to be molded… better to correct her bad habits now than wish it was done later down the road. She has her mother’s strength, grit and determination… that and her bloodline has her destined for great things. Ah, to be that young again…
I awoke to an extremely stiff body. Trying to sit or stand brought me crashing back to the ground. I was near a camp fire and my midsection had been tightly bandaged.
“Easy there, warg. Despite your exceptional recovery abilities, you are still at least a day away from getting back on your feet,” a voice said from out of the shadows.
I quickly scanned my surroundings to determine the source of the voice and made out the outline of a human figure kneeling in the shadows a ways across the other side of the fire. The figure stood and slowly approached the other campfire. Once in full view of the firelight, he sat down, watching me with keen eyes.
“I am Winterwulf, a hunter from the lands of Bree. I was sent here to monitor and report on the activities of some dwarves who were seen in the area. From what I have gleaned from the Free People who were at TR before they were overrun by a horde of Orcs, wargs, spiders and such, these dwarves had captured a warg and were transporting them to an undetermined location,” the hunter said. “I appear to have stumbled upon your attempt of making it past the Rangers who were guarding the archway. How you and the other warg escaped death still amazed me… either you are very lucky or very skilled… maybe a combination of the two.”
“Chucaro!” I remembered as I once again tried to gain my footing… again, to no avail. “Is she alive? Did she make it through?”
“Relax, warg,” the hunter chided me. “Your partner is alive and well… she hasn’t been more than 20 meters away from you at any time since I found you and brought you here. When I was off to get food, she would slowly approach and lay next to you waiting for you to wake up. When she sensed me nearby, she would return to her spot to keep watch.”
“Do not harm her in any way, hunter…” I said in a very weak voice.
“So, the stories I’ve heard about wargs being able to speak are true,” the hunter responded with a glint of surprise in his eyes. “Then I will also assume you can understand everything I’ve said to this point.”
“Consider yourself lucky that I am not at full strength, human.”
Winterwulf turned deadly serious. “You should consider yourself extremely lucky that you are even alive, warg. I’m not sure what your plans are for even attempting to leave the Ettenmoors, but, I am assuming they pertain to the captured warg. It is for this reason only that you are still alive as it is. If that is indeed your true goal, then I will not interfere… but, mark my words… I will be watching you like a hawk! If you so much as stray from your intended goal even a fraction, I will not hesitate to kill you or your partner. You may have had the Lady’s luck with your encounter with the Rangers, but I will not give you the chance for survival.” The piercing look he gave me were like daggers cutting through me. I felt myself cower slightly at his words.
“The captured warg is my only concern, human,” I replied.
“Then we have an agreement,” he said as he stood up and approached me. He carefully inspected the work he did dressing up my wounds and smiled… apparently proud of the work he had done… oh to wipe that smile off his face, I glared.
“The arrow you were hit with missed all your vitals by the narrowest of margins. I found you unconscious near the rock wall and carefully carried you to my campsite before they could start the search for you.” He stood up and walked back to the other side of the campfire. He bent down to retrieve something and again approached me. He was carrying what appeared to be some meat from a recent kill.
“As I said, you should be close to fully healed by the morning. I brought you this to help you get your strength back, as you have been out for 2 days.”
2 days! The dwarves have much more of a lead than I thought they would!
Winterwulf looked at me and seemed to know what I was thinking. “Yes, you’ve lost 2 days, but they have the warg in a huge cage and are moving at a slow clip. It won’t take you long to catch up to them. But the route they are taking is not through the normal roads… they are taking routes through very dangerous areas, so you best be on your guard or you wil not live to see your goals through to the end,” he warned.
“Now, eat this and good luck on your journey. Remember, warg… I will be watching you two closely… heed my warning,” he said as he headed off into the darkness. Once I could no longer sense him, I turned my attention to the plate of meat lying nearby. The smell of the meat made my stomach rumble… it’d been 2 days since I’d eaten. I hungrily engulfed the portion offered to me. As I was licking my lips, savoring the taste of the fresh meat, I realized I was getting sleepy very quickly… I have been drugged! I suddenly fell into a deep sleep…