It seemed like forever for the sun to fully set and night to cast its blanket over the sky. I peeked around the crates to see how many guards there were. Still too many to deal with, even if the noise level lessened. Well, I’m nothing if not patient, and I didn’t come this far to make a mistake based on impatience. While I don’t like hiding here, there are worse places… even the place I am heading to… I shook myself out of that thought and concentrated on the matter at hand. With the sunlight gone, I left the shadows of the crates and made my way, slowly, towards what I hoped was the path the free people used to go to Ost Ringdyr. I kept to the bushes and shadows and tried to keep myself low to the ground. What seemed like an achingly long time was made more so from having to stop when someone passed nearby. I could see the exit, but I could also see that it was well lit and there were soldiers nearby that could easily see me. I needed a diversion…
That came quickly enough in the form of a guard and a captain, both on horseback. They stopped to talk to one of the soldiers and the remainder moved in to listen, as well. I watched as the soldier they were talking to turn around and bend down to get something. This seemed to occupy their attention. Well, it’s now or never… I slowly walked towards the opening… even in the light it was difficult to see me unless you were looking for someone or something stealthed. I held my breath and slowly moved one step at a time closer to my goal, all the time listening to the talk going on behind me. As I moved along the path, I hid behind a rock that was on my right. I exhaled slowly and looked around the rock. The two riders were gone and the soldiers had taken their positions… nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I waited a few moments to make sure things were normal before I made my way down the path. I really hope I don’t come across any free people here… that is the last thing I need.
It must have been later than I thought. The journey down the path was uneventful, and I could see the fires of Ost Ringdyr in the distance… I could also see the rangers, who always were on high alert.
“So how are you going to get past them?” a voice asked behind me. Despite myself, I jumped and wheeled instantly into a defensive crouch. My eyes could easily adjust to the dark and it wasn’t difficult to see Winterwulf sitting in the shadows, watching me. I’ll bet he is grinning, too. “What are you doing here, hunter?” I asked in a quiet tone with an edge to it. I could see the hunter regard me for a moment and then put something in his boot.
“I’m here to see that you don’t get killed trying to do whatever it is you are trying to do. I’m not here to try and stop you… in fact I think it would be better for all involved if you did return to the ‘Moors. I am here to make sure that happens.” Winterwulf said. “But this is a one-time deal. I can keep the rangers from firing to let you in, but once you are in, that is it. You no longer will see Chucaro and Wargie.”
Those names burned a hole inside that could not be healed. What I was doing was for Wargie’s sake, and having her daughter back would no doubt make Chucaro very happy. The hunter let me think about it for a while. “I am doing what I must, for Wargie’s benefit. I wish nothing more than to see them one last time, but I know that can’t happen.” I looked at the silent hunter. While he didn’t say anything, his eyes couldn’t hide what he really felt. After a few moments, he finally spoke. “If that is what you are deciding, I will not stop you. As I said, I will see you get into the ‘Moors safely… the rest is up to you.” The hunter said the last part quietly, as if to himself, but I had heard it. “I don’t say this to humans at all, but, thank you… for all that you and your group has done. I can’t repay you for what you have done, but it will never be forgotten, either.” I held up my paw to him. If I didn’t know any better, I could have sworn I saw the hunter smile warmly. “You were a very worthy ally,” he said as he grasped my paw and shook it. “Are you ready to head back in?” I looked behind me and back at the hunter. A simple nod was all I gave him. He put his fingers to his mouth and gave out a series of whistles. I could hear the code repeated on down the line.
“The hunters are now aware not to shoot on sight for five minutes. You have that long to get out of the line of fire, but to you, that would be an eternity. Farewell, Deathwulf, and may the lady guide you on the path you have chosen.”
“Farewell, Winterwulf, and thank you, again, for all your help.”
With that, I went stealth and entered the Ettenmoors…
Creami and Chucaro looked down into Glan Vraig. Everything had gone smoothly up until this point… it wouldn’t be easy now. The warg and minstrel looked at each other and nodded. Chucaro went stealth and followed Creami down the sharp path. It was an un-eventful jaunt, but they were on pins and needles walking through the citadel. Creami could see Chucaro hidden in the shadows, so the minstrel casually made her way to the hidden path.
“Hey there, coming down from the mountains by yourself is dangerous enough, but at this time?” said a soldier who walked up to Creami from behind her. “I watched you come down and saw you were a minstrel. With things the way they are, I won’t question why you came through the way you did, but a little lady like you traveling alone?” Creami could smell the alcohol on his breath and did her best to avoid him. “I’m traveling to Ost Ringdyr to see if the rangers there could use a song to perk up their spirits, kind sir.” “I’ve got some ‘spirits’ that could use a little ‘perking up’ themselves,” said the guard as he grabbed her nearest wrist. Creami twirled suddenly and had the hand that had grabbed her wrist pinned against his back… a dagger in her other hand as she held it to his throat. “This ‘little lady’ has come to play for the rangers. If you want to keep yourself in one piece, I suggest you go after someone else.” A bead of sweat dropped from his forehead as his eyes remained fixed on the dagger. “Of-f-f course..” the soldier stammered. She quickly pushed him away from her and instantly added a sword to her arsenal. The soldier rubbed his neck and gave the minstrel a sneer. “Crazy bitch.” he said as he quickly walked away backwards. She saw a number of guards on duty stifle laughter as they watched their fellow retreat like a wounded animal. They simply watched as the minstrel slowly sheathed her sword and her dagger… all the while keeping a sharp eye on the remainder of the guards. They simply watched her, content, but on their guard. That one must have probably just left his friends after a drink… he picked the wrong minstrel to mess with. She could feel Chucaro watching her and saw that the warg had moved a lot closer. A quick, casual hand gesture gave the warg an indication she was ok.
As the minstrel got closer to the path, she turned towards the soldiers and provisioner standing nearby in hopes they would be distracted enough to not notice the warg. She feigned making a big deal of looking at the wares as Chucaro moved stealthily to the path. She kept the warg in her sight and made it look like she was debating on some of the wares. When she was sure the warg was safe, she decided on some simple rations. The provisioner was a bit discouraged, but the sooner Creami could head out, the better. She quickly paid for her purchase and said a quick goodbye before heading down the path. The guards watched as she left, but knew she was protected as it was a secret path to Ost, so they stayed where they were.
As Creami got further down the path, it got harder to see. She reached into her pack and took out a cloth. She broke a stiff branch off a nearby tree and wrapped the cloth around it. She knelt down and got some tinder and flint out of her pack, which she struck together a few times until the cloth caught. She quickly put the tinder and flint away and picked up the make-shift torch. She was able to again see the path. She also saw Chucaro looking back at her. That was all she remembered as a sharp object hit her in the back of the head and she went down in a heap.