Chucaro and Wargie came up the hill from a scouting expedition, laughing amongst themselves. I watched as they bantered back and forth.. Wargie playfully nosing Chucaro in the side as Chucaro tried to playfully bite her. They were both about the same size now… strong and very persuasive. It was nice to have her back in the moors… both of them safe and sound… well, as safe as the Moors could be.
I laid my head back down and just watched the two of them… I was so glad to have Wargie back… and Chucaro has a glow about her… I can’t remember seeing her this happy. I smiled and felt a tear of happiness fall down my nose…
A sudden lance of pain woke me up in a hurry. It hurt to breathe, but I was able to, finally, in a way that didn’t hurt. I tried to open my eyes, but apparently they were so crusty, that I had to scrape them off. I could finally see, and the first vision was of Winterwulf looking at me.
“Didn’t know if you’d ever wake up,” he said, trying badly to suppress a grin. “It was a helluva fight, but we defeated Balbazar and freed Wargie from his clutches…” his voice trailed off as he looked away.
Wargie! I thought to myself. And Churaco! Were they alright… the events of the fight are hazy, but did they survive? I asked myself.
Silentknife came up behind the hunter. “Well, look who’s awake!” he said in his trademark smile. I could see the others behind him looking at me with relief washing over concern. “We’ve been waiting days for you to wake up… even Chucaro was worried about you.” He laughed when I tried to get up to see her, but the bandages I now noticed around my midsection were wrapped tightly. “Relax,” laughed the burglar, “She is sleeping soundly at the moment… because of Ellenroh, she survived that direct blast of lightning when it should have killed her. She will be fine, but needs her rest, too.” I looked away to try to figure out what had happened.
At that moment, arms wrapped themselves so tightly around my neck that at first I panicked. Then I heard Creami talk in my fur, “I thought you were never going to wake up!” She lifted her head… a smile glued to her face, but red eyes belied the tears she shed for however long I was out.
“Easy, Creami. He is fine, but he needs to rest, too,” I heard the hunter gently admonish her. She smiled and nodded as she removed her arms from my neck.
“You get better, fast, ok?” she said as she smiled at me and moved out of the way.
Silentknife leaned closer to me. “Hmm… if I didn’t know any better, I think that Creami likes you!” That comment brought an elbow from Sylwith, which caught the burglar by surprise. He just laughed heartily.
“Don’t mind him,” Sylwith said as she gave him a scathing look. She turned to look at me. “If there is anything we can do to help, don’t hesitate to ask,” she offered quickly. “I’m really glad to see you awake.” she added as she moved to stand with the others. Tregoan, Tracer, and Sophwen also voiced how glad they were that I was awake.
“What happened?” I asked, “and how long was I out?”
Winterwulf came over and sat back down. “You’ve been out for almost a week. When Balarbaz was defeated, the dwarven army lost its leader, so there was massive chaos. The army from Esteldin made it to Ost a day later and the dwarves ran with their tails between their feet. The army killed many of them, but the dwarves ran and hid in the mountains, where the army from Esteldin stopped following them.”
“They helped take you, Chucaro and Wargie to a camp close to Esteldin so we could try to heal you… mind you, we are used to humans, elves, dwarves and hobbits, so healing you three was a great challenge,” the hunter continued. I feel we’ve taxed Ellenroh too much, but he won’t leave Wargie’s side.” When I made a move to get up, Winterwulf put a gentle hand to keep me down. “Chucaro and you are going to be fine, with plenty of rest. Wargie….” his voice trailed off as he looked to where Ellenroh was hunched over the still warg.
I could hear the hunter let out a sigh as he turned back to me. “I’m not sure what the dwarf did to her… it’s giving me a headache trying to take it all in. Ellenroh can best fill you in on her condition. I wish I could give you some good news about her, but it doesn’t look good… Wargie has been in a coma-like state since we brought her here.
“I need to see her.” I said as I gingerly rolled onto my paws. My legs were a little wobbly, but it felt good to stand.
Winterwulf nodded as he stood ready should I fall. “Just take it slow. The interior wounds still need to heal yet.”
I simply nodded in agreement as I approached Wargie and Ellenroh. She was covered up, but I could see the blood that stained the sheets. She had shrunk down to normal size, but the collar was still attached to her. As I looked close, I saw a tendril going from the collar into her neck. When I looked closer, I could see tendrils going all around the collar that went down into Wargie’s neck.
Ellenroh let out a heavy sigh. “I need to continue to do research to see exactly what he did to her. I know it’s a form of ancient, dark magic, but I can’t find what it is. She hasn’t gotten any worse since she was brought here, but she hasn’t gotten any better. She’s been in a coma-like state the whole time.”
I looked at Wargie… it was an ability used in the moors that seemed to take over instantly when we were close to death. It was similar to a coma, but all the organs functioned normally. But she would last that way until a cure was found, or worse, she died of old age… and that was too far down the road. I didn’t tell the runekeeper that… she was in a safe place, but we had to find a solution to the problem.
I was weaker than I thought… I lost my balance, but Ellenroh and Winterwind caught me before I could fall. “Easy… you’ve spent too much energy already. You still need to rest and heal up.” I nodded as I reached the blanket… falling into a deep sleep when my head hit the cushion.
What? Did someone call my name?
I opened my eyes… it was so dark that I thought I might be dead, but slowly the walls of a dark cave came into view.
I turned towards the sound… it came from a tunnel that led to the only source of light. I slowly walked forward, though I don’t know what called my name.
The sound grew louder as I approached the light.
I looked inside… there were spirits everywhere! It looked as though they were lost as they just roamed the cavern without any purpose it seemed. After watching them, though… it was not the source of the sound.
I couldn’t put my paw on it, but the cavern with the spirts looked very familiar…
“Deathwulf… you for Wargie…”
It was then the spirits seemed to notice me and changed their direction to come towards me. I couldn’t move! I tried to, but my legs were frozen in place. I could only watch helplessly as the spirits converged on me.
“Deathwulf… you for Wargie…”
I froze as the voice came to mind: Gaergoth! He came into view as he called to me… “You for Wargie!” His fanged mouth twisted into an evil smile. The spirits were on me then, clawing at me, with me powerless to do anything about it… all I could do was look at Gaergoth.
“You for Wargie!” was all he said as I was swarmed by the spirits.
I woke up in a cold sweat. A quick glance around the room showed that everyone was asleep.. even Ellenroh was passed out. I got up and stretched. I grimaced in pain a little, but it was healing fast. Without waking anyone, I went to Wargie’s side and laid my head against her. “I’ll bring you back… I swear!” I said as I looked at her still form.
I quietly went to Chucaro, who was sleeping soundly. “I’m sorry… this I have to do alone. Look after Wargie and I will be back soon.” I took one last look at Wargie before I went stealth and headed out of the tent. I easily slipped past the guards and made my way to the edge of the camp. I knew where I had to go… the Delving of Fror.