As Chucaro followed Creami slowly up the path, she noticed that the fog was beginning to dissipate rapidly. When they got to a point where the wind and snow didn’t wipe any trace of existence of their passing, they were easily able to see the route Deathwulf had taken. The narrow path began to widen and soon they were on the same plateau that Deathwulf was on. Chucaro had nearly walked into Creami as the minstrel had stopped, taken aback by the view. “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful before?” asked the minstrel as she gazed at the pristine view ahead of her… unmarred, save for the trail Deathwulf had left.
“At least it’ll be a lot easier to follow him,” Chucaro said as she looked at the trail. The minstrel nodded as her eyes followed the path left by the warg.
“Normally, Deathwulf is very adamant about covering his trail… he wasn’t very worried about anyone following him, though,” she said, mostly to herself as she followed the trail. Chucaro followed the path near the sheer drop where Deathwulf had stopped before. She glanced down. The drop would have killed anything… even a moor’s creature.
Creami and Chucaro followed Deathwulf’s path for a while. Creami was munching on some hardened meat she had pulled out of her bag. A foreign smell, mixed with Deathwulf’s, over the next rise caught the warg’s attention. She quickly ran to where the smell came from and suddenly stopped… Creami was on her heals and ran when Chucaro took off. Creami dropped the meat when she saw the blood-stained snow. “Deathwulf…” was all Creami could say as she went to her knees… tears streaming down her face.
Chucaro unexpectedly laughed and just got out of the way of a swing from the minstrel. “That was a heartless thing to do!” the minstrel blurted out as she got to her feet to go after Chucaro. “Relax,” started the warg, “the laugh came out unexpectedly, but Deathwulf is fine… I’ve known him all my life and I know this is not his blood… it’s the blood of whatever he killed and ate… and from the looks of it, he was pretty hungry as I can smell similar scents further down his trail.”
“How do you know?” sniffed Creami as she wiped away a tear. “How do you know that he isn’t hurt and needs our help?”
Chucaro looked quizzically at the minstrel before she answered. “Well, for starters, the bloody snow is just in a pile here. The same is probably true of the other scents I have picked up. Secondly, and more importantly, there is no blood trail of an injured warg, or other animal. There is nothing, save the bloody snow we found. He is simply feeding and is not injured.”
Creami let out a sigh of relief. “Then let’s hurry and find him…” she started. Chucaro blocked her way before she could move forward. “Before we go after Deathwulf,” Chucaro stated, “why is he so important to you?”
Winterwulf and Sylwith made good time to Lin Giliath. “Wait here,” said the hunter. As Sylwith patiently waited for the hunter, Winterwulf quickly rode to the elven greeting party. The elf who was apparently the outpost leader pointed in the direction the wagon traveled in, as Sylvan watched. Winterwulf tipped his head in thanks and rode back to the elf huntress, leaving a puzzled expression on the elven leader’s face.
“You know, they were expecting you to at least get off your horse before asking questions.” Sylwith said as they galloped in the direction the elf had given them. “I know, and I will apologize to them later. Right now, time is of the importance and we can’t waste it with formal how-do-you-do’s.” Winterwulf replied. They rode swiftly to try to catch up to the group with the wagon.
Silentknife quickly scanned what he could see of the ruins… nothing moved in the shadows. He quickly got up and silently moved to the next piece of rubble, keeping the movement of the wagon within ear shot. As he was about to move to the next piece, he saw a figure rise and move further down. “An orc?” Silentknife thought to himself. He moved to the rubble where the figure was at. It was getting darker, which made it harder to see what was ahead of him. Finally, he stopped when he saw the figure ahead. He paused when he saw a second figure, and then a third appear. “This can’t be good..” the burglar thought as he watched the figures ahead of him. Two of the figures left the burglar’s field of vision after apparently getting instructions from the one still in sight.
Silentknife quietly moved in for the kill on the remaining orc. As he approached from behind, the orc started to stand from his hiding place behind the piece of fallen pillar. Before he could get to his full height, the orc grabbed at his throat with one hand as the other went to his side… he fell dead before he could get a warning off to his unit. The burglar froze as he wiped the blood from the orc off his blades and noticed the white paint on the orc’s chest. “What is the white hand doing this far into Bree-land?” Silentknife thought. Alarms went off in his head as he quickly went stealth and tuned his senses to his surroundings. This is a raiding party… there are much more than these three.. but where are the others? He quickly and quietly went in the direction of the other two.
He quickly found the next orc as he almost walked into him. This orc was an archer and had his attention fully on the wagon. Before the orc could get his crossbow in his hand, Silentknife dispatched him easily. He quickly went back into stealth and surveyed his surroundings… he was losing his advantage of light rapidly. He saw the third orc, who had his crossbow aimed at the wagon. In a heartbeat, Silentknife stood and threw one of his daggers at the orc. His dagger struck before the orc could release his bolt toward the intended target… instead, the bolt sailed harmlessly if front of the wagon.
Silentknife heard the shouts of the remainder of the party as he headed for the wagon. “This is not good… not good at all…” he thought as he broke into a full sprint towards the wagon.
“Get in the back with Sophwen and the warg!” yelled Tracer as he swung the horses towards the hills and a direct line to the Forsaken Inn. Ellenroh thought about arguing the point but decided to keep quiet and head inside the covered wagon. “I don’t know if their aim is that poor or if that was a warning shot, but I’m not taking any chances.” thought Tracer as he changed the course of the horses.
Tregoan rode up to Tracer at a full gallop to see what was going on. “Why did you change the course from the main road?” Tregoan asked. “Did you see the bolt fly by us?” replied Tracer. Tregoan nodded and took up position behind the wagon, again making sure his bow was easily within reach should he need it. He glanced back and saw someone running for the wagon. He reigned in his horse and took aim at the figure. “Silentknife!” thought Tregoan to himself. He shouldered his bow and had his horse at a full gallop in one motion. As he approached the running burglar, he could hear the orcs behind him. He got his horse to stop and turned in the direction the burglar was running. Tregoan reached out his hand and Silentknife grabbed it and was mounted behind the hunter as Tregoan rode hard to try to catch the wagon.
“Why are orcs after us?” asked Tregoan over his shoulder. “They are a White Hand raiding party… I wish I knew…” came the reply. Tregoan’s face turned grim as he rode hard. “This was the last thing we needed!” thought the hunter. “Where is your horse?” he questioned. He could feel the burglar sigh. “I left him tied to a tree… but with a knot that could break free should he feel danger…. I hope he made it out… he was a good horse. I didn’t have a chance to go back and get him.”
Tregoan rode up to the side that used to be occupied by Ellenroh. Without a missed beat, the burglar easily made it to the bench and sat down next to Tracer. “We’re being chased by the White Hand… we’ve got to get to the Inn before they catch us.” Tracer gave the burglar a surprised look, but knew when not to ask questions and this was one of those times. He could see the Forsaken Inn ahead and the shouts behind him grew fainter…. but he knew it wouldn’t be long before the White Hand was near the Inn.