One eye opened. It scanned the dark, snowy area before the other eye opened. With both eyes open, the shadowy figure picked itself off the ground, shook itself off and tested itself to make sure all of its joints were in place and functioning. When it was satisfied that everything seemed in place, it began to walk away. Then it suddenly stopped and cocked its head, as if it were trying to remember. It looked behind it, from where it had come, and saw a mound. The shadowy figure hissed in glee and skipped over to the mound. It poked at the mound briefly, but there was no movement. It watched the mound for a length of time, and saw the slow rise and fall of its slow breathing.
It’s not dead! The master will be so happy! It looked at the mound one last time before it hurried off. A little while later, it came back with some long branches and some twine. The shadowy figure carefully unfurled the mound… it was the body of a warg. It tied a piece of twine around the warg’s muzzle and carefully put its face next to the warg’s teeth. Yes, it is still breathing! Quickly, and not checking to see if any bones were broken, the shadowy figure tied the paws together.
Once secured, the shadowy figure slid the long branches between the warg’s body and the tied paws. The paws were tied securely and the branches would withstand the weight of the warg. Clutching the branches with the claws on its feet, the shadowy figure spread its arms, allowing the membranes to fan out into wings. The wings grew to four times their normal size and the shadowy figure took off into the air, it’s package in tow. It briefly looked back, as the blowing snow began to fill in where the warg was.
Silentknife couldn’t leave to search for Deathwulf soon enough. He couldn’t sleep at all last night and was waiting for the others so they could move out. The sun was rising and there was precious time slipping away. Tregoan appeared with the dwarf, Eywind on a sled. As they approached, the big hunter had a solemn look in his eyes.
“Chucaro hasn’t moved or eaten since she watched Deathwulf go over the side of the pass. It’s almost like she has given up.”
Silentknife clapped Tregoan on the shoulder. “We’ll find Deathwulf and bring him back. After a little rest, Chucaro will see he’s alright and be back to her old self.” Eywind was about to say something, but thought better of it. “I’ve yet to see anything survive a fall like that.” he thought to himself.
Tregoan nodded. “Creami and Sophwen are with her as we speak. The elf archer is guarding the perimeter, so Chucaro is in good hands.”
Eywind glanced at the sun rising in the east. “Let’s move out and use what light we have.”
Silentknife nodded and jumped on the sled. They made good time going over the pass and down the long slope. They didn’t meet any resistance as they rounded the bend heading under the pass. Eywind steered the sled near the area where the two had fallen.
Silentknife looked around, alarmed. He glanced up at the hunter, who had a worried look on his face, as well. “I can’t track anything,” said the big hunter, “it’s as if there was nothing here to track.”
Eywind glanced up towards the pass they crossed over. “Aye, if they fell like you say, they should both be in the area.”
Silentknife and Tregoan began moving the snow where they thought their friend would be. Eywind soon joined them. The sun was directly overhead when they gave up hope on finding the warg.
“He can’t have just up and vanished,” the burglar said aloud as frustration got the best of him.
“What’s strange is that I can’t find the one who attacked him, either… and there is no trace of blood” Tregoan added.
“Aye, I agree strongly there. If they were here, we would’ve stumbled across the bodies, at the very least.” Eywind concluded. “I don’t know what took them, but they aren’t here and there is no trace of them.”
The group quietly packed their equipment and scanned the area, hoping they could find a clue. Disheartened, they took the sled back to the camp.
Chucaro hadn’t moved since Deathwulf went over the side… it felt like a part of her was gone forever in an instant. It should’ve been me that went over the edge. Deathwulf saved me at the cost of his own life… it should’ve been me… the scene repeated itself over and over in her mind. She wanted to change the outcome, but it was always the same. Why couldn’t it have been me? The mission had been built around him… I would gladly trade my life for his…
The outside world is dead to me… let me be, so I can cradle in Death’s grasp and he can take me.
Why does that voice sound so familiar? Yet, it’s so far away, it seems… why does it seem so familiar? Does it matter? Just let me be…
Chucaro… I need your help… Chucaro….
Deathwulf? It can’t be… I saw you go over… why do you haunt me so?
Chucaro… I…. need…….your………. help………….
And with that, the voice was gone. Life returned to Chucaro’s eyes… she knew what had to be done. Deathwulf is alive!
Chucaro’s ear twitched involuntarily… that got Creami’s attention. She watched as Chucaro lifted her head to look around. Before Chucaro knew what was happening, the minstrel’s arms were around her neck. “You’re back!” Creami cried as she gave the warg a giant hug for someone relatively small. Chucaro looked up as much as she was able to and saw Sophwen looking at her with a warm smile on her face. “Welcome back,” she said as Creami continued to hug the warg. “The others…”
“I don’t have time to waste.” Chucaro interrupted. “Deathwulf is alive, but he isn’t down there… he was taken somewhere. I need to find who took him and stop them before they reach their destination.” Without a word, Creami let go of the warg and hurried to her tent.
Sophwen’s brow shot up. She knew better than to go against what Chucaro felt, but life seemed to have come to the warg in a short amount of time… couldn’t she have just dreamed everything up in an effort of self-preservation? “I’m sure the others will be here shortly with…”
“I’m sorry.. I really don’t have the time. The others will have to catch up when they get here.” Chucaro suddenly growled as her fur stood on end. She could feel the elf with the bow pointed right at her.
“Easy, Nogmeldir, she won’t hurt you. She’s one of the group.”
“B-b-but she spoke… she talked… I heard her!” said the elf, “that isn’t natural!”
Sophwen casually strode to the elf and gently lowered his arm and the bow, but the tension remained. “Pull yourself together and take a deep breath… yes, she can talk.. she can think and feel, too… the main difference is she walks on four legs and we walk on two.” Creami had come out of her tent ready to travel and stopped when she saw the elf. “Don’t you dare hurt her!” she said, defensively.
The elf looked shaken and took a step back. He looked like a spooked deer, ready to bolt at a moment’s notice.
Sophwen sighed. “Go with Chucaro. I’ll remain here with Nogmeldir until the others get back and explain to them what’s going on.” Chucaro glanced at Creami. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Going with you, and there will be no arguments. If Deathwulf did speak to you and needs your help, a minstrel can’t hurt.”
“Fine, then hop on and let’s get going.”
Creami barely got on when Chucaro gave a brief nod to Sophwen and was off. She ran fast, and she ran hard. Creami didn’t know where they were going, but thought that the warg would know the way to go.
Sophwen watched as they went out of view. Then she turned her attention to the stunned elf. “Now, where were we?” She asked, mostly to herself.
The sled arrived at the camp and Silentknife jumped off and ran to the campfire while the sled was still moving. He stopped when he saw Sophwen attending the elf, who was wrapped in a blanket, staring at the fire, mumbling about a talking warg.
“Where’s Creami and Chucaro?” Silentknife asked, the alarm in his voice apparent. Tregoan had just arrived at the burglar’s side.
Sophwen slightly smiled at the burglar. “They couldn’t wait and left, knowing you’d be back shortly and that Deathwulf is gone.” She looked towards the empty sled. “Apparently, Chucaro was right in her dream.”
Silentknife had turned back towards the sled to get his things, but turned back towards Sophwen. “What do you mean she had dreams? And don’t tell me Chucaro had the strength to carry Creami, even as light as she is…” Sophwen arched an eyebrow and smiled mischievously. “So we do have a warg expert with us, that is a relief!” she said with a light laugh. “That’s not what I meant… oh, nevermind…” Silentknife replied, flustered at the smiling minstrel. Tregoan had gone to get their things from the sled. “Are we ready to go? Her path will be easy enough to track for a while with the light we have left.”
Eywind appeared and looked at the shaken elf. “Aye, I think we’ve given you about as much help as we can. Looks like it’ll take me a while to get this one’s nerves to settle back down.” Sophwen rose from her seat and offered it to the dwarf, which he obligingly took. “There is a spare sled you can use in the back. The snow does get deep the farther up the mountains you go.”
Tregoan went to get the other sled. As he was off, Silentknife looked out at the fresh warg tracks. “Do you have a map of the area? I’m sure her tracks will be easy enough to follow, but it would be nice to know where we are headed and what we can expect.” Eywind searched the many different pockets and packs that he had. “Ah, here we are!” He handed Silentknife a folded parchment. “That map is pretty detailed and will tell you the areas you will head into.” He glanced at the warg’s tracks. “Judging by her direction, she has steered clear of the goblins and, for that matter, Goblin Town… that is not a place to wind up in… you can spend days in there and get lost after the first few minutes. Anyways, I have other maps, so don’t worry about taking that one.”
Tregoan showed up with the spare sled already packed. Silentknife clasped forearms with Eywind and thanked him for all the help they had given the group. “I can’t thank you enough, nor can I repay the kindness you both have shown.” began the burglar.
Eywind cut him off, “There’s no need. We take to helping those in need and it was a change from the daily things we do to help you out. While I wish things were better for Nogmeldir here, I’m not surprised…” the dwarf leaned closer to Silentknife and winked, “I’ve seen a lot more in my days here, so nothing really surprises me anymore.” Silentknife smiled at the dwarf and thanked him once last time.
Sophwen sat down in the sled and Silentkife kicked off to start the sled going. They all waved back and then Tregoan led the group, hoping they would meet up with Chucaro and Creami before long.