The trail that started near the boulder slowly became a narrow path. I paused to look back the way I had come. Nobody is following me. Good. Now I can concentrate on the task at hand instead of worrying about who may be behind me. I continued along the path as it led sharply up the mountainside. My swift run had turned into a jog, but now I had to proceed cautiously as the footing was getting worse. I stopped and quickly surveyed the surroundings. This was the only path I had. Well, I either go forward or turn around, it’s as simple as that… at least I’ll know if I’m being followed. I started out again, traversing the narrow path as it wound around the side of the mountain.
Winterwulf and Sylwith looked around the tree they hid behind. The orcs were few and far between, but the goblins were countless. They hadn’t noticed the two hunters, nor had their wargs gotten their scent yet… they were careful to stay downwind.
“We don’t have a choice. We’ll have to turn back to Esteldin and take their fastest horses to Rivendell. I pray we can get to the rangers before Deathwulf does.” Winterwulf said quietly.
Sylwith nodded. “If we take the chance going through Dol Dinen, we risk fighting the orcs and goblins and there’s no guarantee of a path through, either.”
Winterwulf gave a quick nod. “Then let’s get back to the camp, fast.”
They quickly saddled and spurred the horses as fast as they could go back to Esteldin.
Chucaro and Creami stayed among the trees and used them to conceal where they were. Creami stroked the main of the horse she rode. “Do you think they really went into the camp?” She said, breaking the silence.
Chucaro paused before she answered. “I think Deathwulf did, but I don’t see how the hunters could have snuck in there.” She surmised as she looked into the camp. ” I can see a large boulder leading atop the only split in the mountains. More than likely, that’s where Deathwulf went.”
Creami shielded her eyes and looked where Chucaro was looking. “There’s no way the hunters could have followed him. They must have gone around the southern way…” her voice trailed off.
Chucaro, wondering why she detected a tremble in the minstrel’s voice, saw it in Creami’s eyes when she looked at her. “What’s the matter?”
Creami, in a near whisper, said, “The are headed into Dol Dinen. There’s nothing there but a goblin camp. If they go to far into it, they will run into the goblins, wargs and orcs… or a lot worse.”
“Then we’ll split here. The hunters could use your help if it as you say and I can continue following after Deathwulf.”
A sudden look of fear crossed Creami’s face. “I have no idea where the hunters are, nor would I be able to stealth well enough. Besides, Deathwulf may need my help a lot more than those two”
Chucaro sighed. There was no getting rid of the minstrel, that’s for sure. “I still don’t know how you are going to get to that path. Promise me that if you can’t, you will head back to the camp and tell the others.” Creami simply nodded, a look of determination on her face. “Then let’s go.”
Chucaro led the way, slowly. They stopped behind a tree and looked into the camp. There were a few Earth-kin there, but the rest haven’t returned from their hunting party. “Are you ready?” Chucaro asked.
Creami nodded her answer and they both headed towards the camp. The guards left there didn’t realize there were intruders in the camp until they were by them. Creami and Chucaro left the guards in a cloud of dust and traveled fast to the boulder. Spears and arrows suddenly flew over Creami’s shoulder. She ventured a look back, and even though the distance between them was ever-increasing, their strength made their range remarkable. “They definitely go by quantity, rather than accuracy,” Creami thought to herself as another spear sailed past her harmlessly. The rode hard to the end of the camp and the boulder was coming up fast. With hardly any effort, Chucaro leaped to the top of the boulder. Creami was riding fast, but realized she took too narrow of a route to the boulder… there was no way they were going to make it!
Creami suddenly had an idea as another spear came dangerously close. She quickly got up on the horse’s back and, before she lost her balance, jumped. The top of the boulder was large, but the momentum of the jump almost carried her too far. She stared, wide-eyed as she realized that she barely made it. She watched as the now rider-less horse made it’s way out the back of the camp, free from it’s rider and able to speed away… a cloud of dust was soon all she could see. The clank of a few arrows and a spear against the boulder snapped her back to where she was. She glanced once at the approaching Earth-kin and leaped to the side of the cliff. She barely made the jump as she landed on her hands and knees, trying to brace for the tumble she couldn’t control.
Chucaro winced as a cloud of dust appeared where the minstrel landed. As the dust settled, she saw the still minstrel. “Creami?” she asked as she slowly approached.
Creami groaned as she slowly got to her hands and knees. “I feel like I was hit by a train,” she said.
As Creami slowly got up, Chucaro ask, “Are you ok?”
Creami stood and wiped the dirt off of her pants. “I think so. I don’t think anything is broken.” Creami responded.
“Good. Sorry there isn’t much time to rest, but we have to get moving.”
Creami nodded and followed Chucaro. It wasn’t long before Chucaro had opened up a sizeable gap between her and the minstrel. She stopped and looked behind her. Though Creami didn’t say anything, her huffing and puffing and inability to keep up with the warg showed.
“It’s alright.” Creami said between gasps for air. “Once I have my breath I can keep up with you.”
Chucaro sighed. “There’s no way without your horse that you’re going to keep up.” She eyed the minstrel for a short time before turning around. “Hop on.” the warg said.
“What?” was all Creami could sputter. “There’s…. I….”
“If I leave you to following me, it won’t be long before you are too far behind. I don’t have the luxury of time… get on!”
With only a hint of objection, Creami mounted Chucaro. She could barely get settled before they were on the move again. Creami reached down and held on for dear life.
“Easy with the choke-hold… I won’t toss you off.” Chucaro said as Creami had relaxed her grip. Chucaro made good time up the path as the path grew narrower and narrower.
“Wargie is in the cart and we are ready to move out.” Tregoan said as he reigned in his horse. Tracer had the reigns of the cart and Sophwen sat in the back watching Wargie. Nearby, Silentknife was talking to the hunter, Orthonn, briefly. As they parted ways, Silentknife rode towards the cart.
“Orthonn is going to keep an eye on the dwarven army to the northwest, though I doubt they will pose any problems, and the threat of goblins and orcs to the southeast.” Silentknife said. “I was not aware of their presence here, but knowing that, it can’t be good. We picked a good time to leave.”
Ellenroh looked around one final time. “Good. Let’s get her to Rivendell as fast as we can.” Tracer snapped the reigns and the horses took off at a speed that was fast enough without jostling the warg. I hope the hunters, or Chucaro and Creami, for that matter, find the other warg… either way, I need to find out what is wrong with Wargie and hopefully be able to reverse it!