We made our way back to where the others waited for us. The minstrels were helped into the wagon first, despite Winterwulf’s concerns of another ‘attack’. Creami brushed off any further questions. “It was my fault… I fell asleep with my arms wrapped around him… who knows, maybe I caused him to roll over like that.” Sophwen climbed in right after, not intent on leaving Creami alone for any length of time. Chucaro and I hopped in after. The two minstrels sat on a bench together as I laid near the back of the wagon… it felt as if I could feel their gazes burning into my skin.
Winterwulf popped his head in through the front slit. “We should be at Thorenhad shortly,” was all he said. As I turned my head back around, I caught a glimpse of the minstrels… Creami smiled warmly to try to mask the concern in her eyes and Sophwen looked at me with growing doubt. I plopped my head down with a heavy sigh. It will not be soon enough to be done with these free people.
We arrived near Thorenhad without any other events and made our camp near the path leading up to the outpost. Looking out from the back end, I could see Tregoan and Tracer talking to an elven contingent. From the many glances towards our wagon, I can only assume he was explaining Chucaro and myself to them. After a short time, the two hunters started back towards the camp and the outpost began bustling with activity… more sentries appeared to take up positions around the perimeter of the outpost… “Apparently we have made quite an impression on the free peoples here,” I thought to myself. “And rightfully so…”I snickered as Winterwulf called us out of the wagon and to the campfire.
“Alright, Deathwulf, tell us about these ‘dreams’ you’ve been having,” Winterwulf started, getting straight to the point.
I took a deep breath and started recanting the dreams that I had lately. I thought I would have trouble remembering the details, but the came flooding back to me like they were etched into every recess in my brain. When I got to the more recent dreams and depicted the violent events that ensued, I thought the minstrels would lose their stomachs as their faces went white after listening to the gory details. Both Sylwith and Ellenroh remained unfazed, however. Even after I finished re-telling my dream stories, I could detect a hint of a smile on Silwyth’s lips.
“I’m not sure if those were possible visions or you just don’t like elves and just dream of violent endings for them,” she said with a gleam in her eyes as a big smile spread across her face.
“If I would dream of those, I wouldn’t include myself as part of the casualty list,” I retorted.
Ellenroh just sat there, deep in thought. “Well, I for one do believe that dreams can contain visions of what has been or what is yet to be. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss these, for, after all, if they are visions of what is yet to be, we would be able to change the outcome knowing what we do now.”
“Isn’t it wrong to tamper with fate? Wouldn’t there be repercussions?” Sophwen asked.
“There is no tampering… visions are simply a view of a possible outcome… they are not written in stone. If we take these for what I believe they are, warnings, then we can learn from them and keep that possibility from happening. Besides, I, for one, would prefer to keep my hands and my health.”
“If this discussion is over, Tracer and myself will head out to check out our sources and scouts to find out where they may be and how far ahead of us they are,” Tregoan interrupted.
“Yes, of course,” Winterwulf waved the hunters off, almost as an after-thought. “Thank you for sharing this information, Deathwulf. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a look around the perimeter and keep watch.”
As Winterwulf walked away I saw Chucaro head over to the wagon and hop into the back. I sniffed the air intently and, not sensing any nearby danger, followed Chucaro into the back of the wagon.
She just laid there in the straw with her back to me. “What’s wrong?” I asked, sensing something wasn’t right. She lifted her head to face me, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“I can’t… no, I won’t believe that Wargie was or will be transformed into some hideous monster. She is stronger than that and won’t allow them to do that to her… she’ll fight back!” she sobbed.
“They were just dreams… with everything that’s been going on, I’m not surprised I’m having them. I worry about Wargie, too… it must be the stress and everything else combined that is causing the dreams.”
“Then why are the elves putting some belief in them? You heard them… they could be warning signs of things to come.”
“Then we’ll just have to get to them before they reach their location and have any chance to do anything to Wargie.”
I walked over and sat down next to Chucaro. “Death, I’m so scared for her now… she’s my only pup and I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her.”
“After what happened at the dwarf camp in the Mistys, I wouldn’t want to see what could happen,”I thought to myself. I laid my neck down over hers. “Nothing will happen to her,” I whispered, “We will stop them and bring Wargie back home, no matter what it takes.”
I laid with her until she was sleeping soundly. I was nearly out myself when I heard soft footsteps approaching. I gently got up to avoid waking Chucaro and made my way to the back of the wagon. I jumped down from the wagon just as Creami appeared from around the side, startling her and causing her to step back, her hand to her chest.
“Oh, you startled me,” she said, “I was just checking to make sure you two were ok.”
“We’re fine. Chucaro is sleeping. Have the hunters returned yet?”
My bluntness appeared to catch her off-guard. “N-n-no,” she struggled to get out. “Winter says they should be back shortly. Are you hungry or do you need any water?” she asked, trying to regain her composure.
“As I said, I’m fine. I just want to find Wargie and get her and Chucaro back home safely,” I answered, trying to keep my tone neutral. This human was difficult to figure out… she seemed curious and shy like a young pup would be, but underneath it all, she seemed more than capable of being able to handle herself in any situation. “That may be proven before all is said and done,” I thought to myself.
I left her standing there, watching me as I went off to look for Winterwulf. I was growing weary of waiting and wanted to be off looking for Wargie. “We’re wasting too much time!” I thought to myself, letting my anger get the best of me.
Before I could locate Winterwulf, I heard the other hunter’s horses ride up to the camp. As I approached the hunters, Winterwulf was already there, talking quietly with the two who had just returned. The conversation died as I approached and the three of them turned towards me.
“The dwarves were seen heading east towards Ost Guruth,” Tracer said before I could ask what they found out. “We’ll be able to find out more information once we get to Ost. However, there is a Dourhand outpost not far southeast of Ost, and that has me concerned. They will definitely stop there to stock up on supplies and probably reinforce their ranks.”
“They won’t add as many as you think,” Winterwulf added. “They still appear to have a ways to travel if they are heading in the north downs. They will need to keep their numbers down to make travel as swift as possible. However, it will take some time to re-stock and repair, so we need to make up as much time as we can on them.”
“Pack up and get ready to move,” Winterwulf told the group, “we’re heading out!”
Winterwulf stopped me before I could get Chucaro. “I know I told you that we would be ditching the wagon once we got here, but I need you two to stay hidden in it a bit longer… just til we reach Ost Guruth.”
“I am tired of feeling helpless and just sitting doing nothing,” I said, my temper starting to rise up.
“I know, and I understand… but, please, just trust me on this. We are getting closer and I don’t want to lose the element of surprise, yet. They may not realize you two are alive and I don’t want to show them our hand until we are ready to.”
I looked into his eyes… his gaze met mine and didn’t waver. “I will do so until we reach Ost, but after that, I will burn that wagon to the ground myself, if I have to.”
Winterwulf dropped down to a knee and offered his hand. “Fair enough.” he said as I offered my paw to shake on the deal.
I hopped into the back of the wagon to fill Chucaro in on what was going on…