As Chucaro and I prepared for the onslaught to come, a look of surprise, then shock and horror came over the face of our ‘executioner’. We saw the blade come out through the front of his armor before he fell forward to the ground, dead as the blade came through. The two dwarves standing to either side of the executioner fell to the earth, holding their throats, trying hopelessly to keep the blood in.
I watched as Silentknife and Creami briefly emerged from stealth… Silentknife quickly flashed us a big smile and Creami winked as they went back into stealth. I looked at Chucaro as she also went stealth… a big smile could be seen before then. I grinned to myself as I also went stealth.
Chaos ensued as the dwarves went down… as blade and claw met flesh. The smell of fresh blood brought me into a controlled frenzy as dwarf after dwarf went down… many not knowing what had killed them. I stopped, breathing heavily as I surveyed the battlefield… it looked like a slaughterhouse more than a battlefield. Chucaro, Creami and Silentknife went over the bodies to make sure they were all dead. We were outnumbered, at least four to one, but with the minstrel and burglar showing up the way they did, it brought pandemonium to the dwarves, and that was the only opening we needed.
The others came up to me as I surveyed the scene for the last time. “We have to leave, now.” Silentknife said as he quickly looked around. “They will be back with a lot more reinforcements soon and we don’t want to be here when they arrive.”
I nodded as we quickly left the grounds of the keep before the reinforcements showed up… with the carnage that was left, we didn’t want to wait to become a part of it. I looked up quickly towards the north… the clouds looked ominous… I hope that isn’t a sign I thought as we headed back to the camp.
As we quickly, and as quietly as we could, reached the camp, I stopped the burglar. “How did you know that Chucaro and I were in the trouble we were in?”
“Call it instinct,” he replied to me in a quiet voice. “For some reason, I think I would’ve done the same thing.” I looked at him questioningly. “What?” he asked. When I remained quiet, he continued. “Listen, I don’t know if I’d ever be in the situation you were in, or if I’d be in a worse one. All I know is, once I’m in a position, it’s instinct that saves my life… don’t think I could count the number of times I actually thought I wouldn’t make it out alive… but I did, and here I am. I’m really just a human version of you,” he said with his arms spread out and his trademark smile.
“I really don’t think about things… I just do what comes naturally. With me, it’s kill or be killed. I suppose if I thought about it, I wouldn’t be here to tell,” I replied as I glanced over at Creami and Churcaro. They were talking to themselves as Creami cleaned her sword blade. All I thought about was making sure Wargie was safe and that we could all go back home. The outside world was really no place for a warg… if was too big, if you asked me.
I glanced up at Silentknife, who appeared to be lost in thought. “True, enough,” he finally said. “It is a big world out there, but I think it is the lure of the unknown that keeps me going. I mean, yeah, eventually I will push things too far, but there is a certain fun in pushing.” he said with a wry grin. All I could do was shake my head. As I started to reply to his statement, I froze… the hackles of my neck standing on edge as I could sense someone approaching. I cast a swift glance towards Chucaro and Creami… Chucaro was in front of the minstrel, crouching and in stealth. The minstrel was in a defensive crouch, as well… with sword drawn.
“It’s us,” Winterwulf said as he came into view… with Tregoan, Ellenroh, Sylwith, Tracer and Sophwen close behind. Orthonn was with them, as well.
“We killed a good number of them, but left before reinforcements could come,” Silentknife started. “Good thing Creami and I decided to follow the two wargs into the trouble.” he said as he winked at me.
“You went in without waiting for the rest of us?” Winterwulf accused. “Not only were the other hunters with me, but so was the ranged support… what were you thinking?”
“I thought that Chucaro and I could sneak in and get Wargie out without them noticing, that’s what I was “thinking”,” I said as my voice started growing into a deadly growl.
Creami stepped between us. “The wargs, Silentknife and myself are fine now… that is what is important.”
“What’s important,” Winterwulf snapped, “Is that we lost the element of suprise. Now he knows that we are here.” Winterwulf glared at me before turning and heading towards the others.
Creami looked at me with sorrow-filled eyes before she walked off after the hunter. The attempt to save Wargie may have just been made a lot harder than it could have been. I sighed to myself as I followed after the hunter and minstrel. I glanced up… the clouds were darker and more menacing than before… this isn’t looking good…
“I think the best chance we have is if we strike now,” Winterwulf explained, “there is a small chance that we can catch the dwarves off-guard from the chaos this morning.” The hunter looked at each one, in turn, as they thought about what was said. “If you’re tired from the trip, then you’ll have to remain behind at the camp. We can’t afford stragglers to keep us from moving swiftly against the dwarves.”
The others silently looked at each other and nodded. Tracer spoke for the group. “We are behind you all the way. We wouldn’t have gone this far if that wasn’t the case.”
Winterwulf smiled gently as he listened to what Tracer said. “My friends, this is going to be the most dangerous task any of us ever took.” He held up a hand to prevent anyone from speaking. “There is a chance that some, if not all of us, will die during this battle… but I wouldn’t hesitate doing any of what was done, for an instant, for anyone in this group.” His shifted his attention to Chucaro and myself. “And yes, this does include you two.” he said with a warm smile. I looked around the group… they were all smiling and looking at us, nodding at what the hunter had said, despite the evil presence we were about to face. I could only marvel at the groups dedication, trust and friendship… but would it be enough to withstand what we were about to encounter? I glanced up at the menacing clouds… the black sky was getting closer… we were running out of time.
“Then here is the plan of attack.” Winterwulf said as he unfurled a map that Orthonn has given him. The layout of the keep was very detailed. “We’ll stay and draw then outside. With the hunter’s on top of the walls, we should provide plenty of cover for the burglar, minstrels and wargs, especially with the use of stealth. The idea is to draw Wargie out in the open. We don’t know the state she’ll be in, but we want to minimize the surprises.”
I saw a quick look of worry on Chucaro’s face before she masked it over. “Don’t worry,” I said as I stood next to her. “We’ll free Wargie from her captor and get all of us home safely.” The look of worry was in her eyes. “Will we?” she asked. “What if she is beyond us… what if she has lost all will to the dwarf?” What she asked gnawed at the back of my mind. “We’ve come too far to let him have her… she knows it and is fighting it… we will bring her back!” Chucaro buried her face in my shoulder, not being able to hold it in any longer. “We will get her back… we will” I whispered to her my promise.