Unlikely allies…

The battle was growing fiercer by the minute, but there was still no sign of Wargie… while the dwarven contingent outnumbered our party by at least 4 to 1, we were holding our own quite well, actually making ground and forcing them towards the keep.  It was then I sensed her presence… I couldn’t see her, but I could feel her… a part of her at least… but it was mixed with a dark, vile magic that nearly enveloped her being.  I focused my senses trying to determine where she was… she was close by.  Sylwith, the elven huntress, was perched atop a crumbled wall above me… she could also sense Wargie’s aura, but had trouble locating her. 

I heard the crunching of bone, then the huntress screamed… the elf tumbled from her perch, her leg clutched tightly in Wargie’s maw… and then Wargie vanished!   I could feel her presence all around me, pressing in on all sides… I crouched and was about to go stealth when I heard something drop behind me.  I turned to see the elven leg lying on the ground near me.  I quickly turned, but couldn’t avoid the massive paw slamming against the side of my head.  I was slammed into the wall and was momentarily stunned.  I quickly shook off the dazed feeling and narrowly avoided another swing of her paws.  I evaded and quickly turned to face her… a look of shock and horror appeared on my face when I saw what they had done to her…

She was at least 3 times her normal size… muscles bulging out of her body.  Her eyes were like the fiery pits of hell as she looked at me with no sign of remembrance.  What foul brand of magic could cause this to happen to her?!?!  It was then that I saw the glowing collar attached to her neck.  The runes running the circumference of the collar were similar to that of the rune-keeper we encountered at the camp… was it his magic that was controlling her?

I was brought back to the fight at hand when she suddenly lunged at me… she was much faster than I had anticipated and I couldn’t dodge her attack… her claws raking my side, opening a huge gash that made it difficult to stand.  As if knowing the fight was soon to be over, she grinned at me and let out a slow, throaty laugh as she moved in for the kill…

—————————-

Where am I?  Am I dead?  The pain I felt in my head brought me back to reality… the avalanche… I could feel Chucaro’s warmth beneath me, yet something cold and solid running along my back… why was I able to breathe?    I could move a little, so I did so, slowly, to make sure nothing shifted to fall on top of us.  Though I couldn’t see, it felt like a large slab of the rock shelf was shifted by the avalanche and created a make-shift roof over us, protecting us from the wall of rock and snow that plummeted down on us.  It was impossible to tell how big of an air pocket we had, nor how long it would last… I had to try to dig us out!

I slowly crawled forward to judge how far I could go before I hit the snow wall… about a body length forward, but then about half a body-length backwards.  Trying to gather my bearings, I slowly started digging forward, angling upwards as I shouldn’t be too far from the path.

After digging for what seemed like hours, I could tell I had made it in roughly 2 body lengths, but the snow seemed endless… I couldn’t tell which direction I was digging in anymore and it was getting harder to breathe… I was exerting too much energy as it was and was starting to get light-headed… I had to keep digging… I suddenly struck what felt like ice… was I near the top??  I clawed at the ice door frantically until, after a brief struggle, the ice gave way and more snow piled in, forcing me down the hole and next to Chucaro, who was still out… I was exhausted and nearly out of breath when I thought I heard someone shouting.  With renewed hope, I went back to digging where the snow piled back in… the work went faster since the new snow wasn’t packed down.  With lungs burning and feeling like they were about to explode, I broke through!  Sunlight! And fresh air!!  My lungs inflated rapidly, trying to inhale as much air as I could.

“Over here!!” came the shout again, from nearby.  I barely poked my head through the snow when I was face to face with the elven hunter we met in the small forest between the mountain ranges.  “Well met, warg,” she smiled at me while laying on her stomach… probably to avoid causing a cave in down below.  “Can you make your way any further out?” she asked.

“A little,” I replied as I was able to work my front shoulders out.  She quickly crawled next to me and wrapped a rope around my midsection, just behind my front shoulders.

“Pull!” she yelled, momentarily looking behind her.  I felt the rope tighten as I was slowly pulled the remainder of the way out of the frozen grave.  It was then that I saw several other free peoples approaching us rapidly.

“It’s him!” I heard a familiar voice exclaim.  I looked over to see the hunter, Winterwulf, looking at me with a sense of urgency mixed in with relief.  “Where is your companion? Is she alive?”

“She’s down below,” I answered, while looking back towards the hole I exited from.  “She’s alive, but is in bad shape… she needs help,”  I said as my legs gave way and I sank into the soft snow.

“Ellenroh, is there anything  you can do to make this quicker to get to her?”

Another runekeeper quickly approached, only, this time an elf… adorned with plain looking robes and stones that had a soft orange glow to them.  He looked down into the path I had dug and quickly surveyed the area.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he replied.  “Get the warg and yourselves further away behind me.”

When we were a safe distance away, I turned to watch what was happening.  The stones the elf held started to emanate a brighter orange glow as the elf appeared to slowly sink below the snow’s surface… steam quickly rising around him from the super-heated snow.  After a few minutes, the steam stopped and a growing roar could be heard from the crater the elf had created.  A warm blue glow could be seen and a sudden burst of snow erupted from the area in front of the crater, propelling vast amounts of snow and rock away from the elf.  More bursts erupted as the elf quickly made his way closer to where Chucaro was located.

We all approached cautiously as the runekeeper was very close.  “Watch yourselves,” he warned us as, with one final burst, the shelf that had protected us, along with a thick wall of snow mixed with rock was sent flying back up the path with remarkable ease!  I raced down to find the elf kneeling next to Chucaro, his eyes closed and his stones glowing a faint green.  He looked back at me as the glow vanished.  “She is alive, but exhausted… what happened here?”  He asked, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.

“All questions will be answered in due time,” Winterwulf said, his hand ruffling the fur on my head.  I could barely get out much of a warning growl as I nearly passed out, myself.  Winterwulf shot me a quick smile as he stood up.  “Get the sleds, quickly.  We need to get them back to the camp as fast as possible!”  I looked up to see others moving away quickly before sleep overcame me.

———————-

I awoke from a dreamless sleep, ears perked as nearby conversations caught my attention.  The two talking nearby were familiar… the 2 hunters… I could hear others, as well… the runekeeper and 2 other females, from what I could distinguish.  I slowly stood and shook off the rest of the sleep.  Winterwulf looked in my direction as I approached them.  “Your friend is still sleeping, but will be fine.  You appear to look no worse for wear, as well,” he said, smiling.

“I suppose I owe you my thanks for saving us, again,” I responded with a low growl, “but make no mistakes, human, we are enemies.”

His laughter caught me off guard. “Aye, that be true, warg, but, for now, we are allies,” he said, a glint in his eyes.  “The foe we are after is extremely dangerous and we will need our combined efforts to overcome him and save your friend.”

“His life is mine!” I hissed.

“In due time, warg, in due time,” he chided me.  “We will get all our questions answered when you friend wakes up.  For now, it’s time to eat and I’m guessing you must be famished.”

My growling stomach answered for me… but, before I did anything I went to where Chucaro was sleeping… I licked her ear and promised her we would get Wargie back.

 

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