A narrow escape

The shadowy figure saw something fall out of the corner of its eye.  It hovered above the cave floor momentarily and looked at the warg… the warg was still passed out.  After a moment’s indecision, it landed, setting the warg off to the side.  It went to the object on the ground and picked it up.  A chicken bone? It gave itself a once-over to ensure nothing was sticking to it.  It paused in its looking and sniffed the air.. it sniffed again and then sniffed the bone.  Warg scent! It eyed the warg slyly.  So… pretending to be sleeping… can fix that! It let out a low cackle as it went swiftly towards the cave entrance.

Deathwulf opened his eyes when he was sure the shadowy figure was gone.  He looked at the area the bone should have landed in.  It’s gone! Deathwulf closed his eyes when he heard the shadowy figure return.  The shadowy figure didn’t stop as it got nearer.  Suddenly, Deathwulf felt his jaw raised and a sweet substance was viciously rubbed all along his teeth.  What is he… the sleeping berries! Deathwulf could feel the effects of the berries as his ‘pretending’ soon became a reality.

The shadowy figure held the warg’s jaw firmly as it made as much of the berries as it could go down the warg’s throat.  It watched as the warg swallowed a few times and then went limp in his arms.  It let out a soft cackle.  Thought you were smarter than me!  I’ll get you to my master, yet!

It grabbed hold of the branches and lifted the incapacitated warg from the cave floor and out the entrance of the cave.

——————-

Chucaro woke up with a start.

“Easy, there.” a voice said while petting her gently on the side.

She got up and turned to face Tregoan. “You tainted the rabbits, didn’t you?”

“I did what I had to do to force you to get some much needed rest.  You weren’t going to make it much longer.”

Chucaro glanced towards the opening out into the night.  “I have to leave…. I’ve already lost valuable time.” she said to the big hunter.  “It feels like they are getting father away.”

Silentknife had come up to the hunter and warg. “Ah, you’re awake.” he said.

“I can’t talk now, I have to go after them!  Deathwulf needs me… I have to go!” Chucaro insisted.

Silentknife saw Sophwen get up and start getting the packs ready.  “Creami is still out, but she can sleep in the sled.  We will go after whoever took Deathwulf, but we go together… understand?”

Chucaro thought about using stealth and leaving by herself, but she didn’t know who had taken Deathwulf and the number of those who did.  She may need their help in getting him free.  “I will wait… but hurry!  We are losing precious time…”

Tregoan got the sled ready to travel and Silentknife and Sophwen both got the packs on the sled.  Silentknife had Creami in his arms as he approached the sled.  Sophwen sat down and took the sleeping minstrel in her arms as she covered them both in blankets.  She nodded to Silentknife when they were secure.  Silentknife gave a brief nod to Chucaro and Tregoan and moved the sled after the hunter and the warg.

“We’re coming, Deathwulf… just hold on a little longer,” Chucaro pleaded to herself.

————————

Deathwulf woke up around snow.  He could barely move and couldn’t figure out why.  Once the effects of the berries wore off, his eyes shot open.  The berries! He looked down at his paws and saw they were tied.  He looked around as much as he could and saw a mound the resembled the shadowy figure.  Deathwulf waited, but the mound didn’t move.  He didn’t know if something killed the creature and thought he was dead or what happened.  He slowly crawled to the sleeping mound so as not to wake the shadowy figure up… the fact that he was tied up wasn’t lost on him, either.

The shadowy figure didn’t move a muscle as the warg came up to it.  From what Deathwulf could see, it looked like the shadowy figure stopped for some food, judging from the dead rabbit near it.  He looked at the shadowy figure and noticed it hadn’t washed off the berries before eating the rabbit.  So… it fell asleep from the same method it used on me… how ironic…

Deathwulf locked in on the shadowy figure’s claws.  I can use those to cut through the ties on my mouth! Deathwulf suppressed his joy and inched his way to the shadowy figure’s claws.  The shadowy figure still didn’t stir.  Deathwulf kept a cautious eye on the shadowy figure as he slowly moved his jaws up against the claw… being careful to not only make sure the claw didn’t slide away, but that he didn’t come in contact with the berry juice, should it still be there.

After what seemed to the warg like an eternity, he felt the ties binding his jaws suddenly give way.  He carefully opened and closed his mouth, letting his jaws stretch out and carefully moved away from the shadowy figure.  When the warg felt he was far enough away, he used his teeth to get the bindings off his feet.   When he got the last of his bindings off, his paws fell to the ground.  He moved them as much as he could to get the circulation going, but there was no way he could stand at the moment.   He drug himself further away from the shadowy figure and went stealth.  At least I can appear invisible to it, should it awaken… that’ll give me time to get the blood flowing to my paws.

The sun was on the apex downward when the shadowy figure stirred.  Its eyes popped open as it realized where it was.  It turned around and saw the torn bindings from where the warg used to lay.  The shadowy figure screamed as it picked up a piece of the torn binding.  It threw it to the ground as it seethed.  As it looked around, it sniffed the surrounding air, trying to get a scent of the warg.  Blood! It hopped to the spot where it smelled the blood and was angry that the blood came from what it had killed earlier.  It kicked the carcass in rage.  As it looked around, it realized the warg may be in stealth, watching it.  Fear crept over the shadowy figure as it started to shiver.  Master will be mad with me.  Must make it to master! An involuntary shiver overcame the shadowy figure as it spread it’s membrane to catch the air.  It leaped into the air and came down with a thud.  Looking at its wings, the shadowy figure saw one side was ripped.  It howled in rage and stomped around.  When it was done with its fit, it looked around with a look of hatred, seeing one last time if the warg was around.  Finally, it turned and began walking away towards its master.

Deathwulf quietly watched from the shadows as the shadowy figure walked away.  Soon, you will be mine.

—————–

Something didn’t feel right to Chucaro.  She found a bone that had Deathwulf’s scent on it, but that wasn’t where the bone came from.  It was almost as if it were thrown there, as that was the only bone they came across.  The others thought that it was odd being the only one they could find, as well.  What bothered Chucaro, though, was that she lost the ‘feel’ of where Deathwulf was a little while ago… it was as if the feeling suddenly vanished.  She didn’t know which way to go to find him anymore and hoped that the bone would give a clue.  They had split into two groups, Silentknife and Chucaro and Tregoan, Sophwen and Creami, who had woken up with fresh resolve after hearing the promising news that Deathwulf was alive.

After searching for a while, the burglar and warg couldn’t find anything else to indicate where Deathwulf was.  As they made their way back to the camp, the met with Tregoan, Sophwen and Creami.  The human minstrel had a catch of rabbits to feed the group as they were the only positive news they brought back with them.  They, too, could find no other evidence that Deathwulf was even there.  As Tregoan made a small campfire to cook the rabbits, Creami tossed a couple to Chucaro.  She nodded her thanks to Creami and moved the rabbits to the side… waiting until the other rabbits cooked and trying to figure out where Deathwulf was.  Silentknife kept looking at the bone, but no other clues came to his mind.

When the rabbits were done cooking, they ate in silence.  Chucaro didn’t realize how hungry she was and tore into the rabbits she had.  When they were done eating, they sat around the fire wondering what to do next.  Tregoan spoke first, “Since we really don’t know anymore which direction Deathwulf went, we should continue over the Mistys and make our way to the river.  We can decide what to do next when we get there… but while the players in the mission seem to have changed, for the time being, we need to continue as if nothing has happened.  Chucaro will have to infiltrate the enemy as she is the only one who can blend in.”

Chucaro felt like she was blind-sided with that comment.  All I’ve thought about was finding Deathwulf this whole time… any part in this mission was never a concern to me. She looked at the others, who were looking back at her, waiting for some kind of response.  I know he’s out there, but I can’t ‘feel’ which direction he is in anymore. Chucaro looked away again.  When she looked back she answered, “Fine, though I don’t feel like I’m right for this operation.”  Tregoan surprised her with a smile.  “You are more capable of this than all of us combined!” laughed the hunter.  “I know that finding Deathwulf is still a priority for us, but it isn’t the main one… not anymore, since we can’t track him.  But I’ve seen the way you both handle yourselves and the only difference I see is one is female and one is male.  I’d fight next to either of you and be more than happy to do so.”

The others chimed in at that comment.  It never dawned on her that the others viewed her that way… again, she never thought about how others saw her… she just did what she felt she had to do.  She felt a bit better at the answer she had given them and at the trust they showed in her.  As she was about to tell the others to pick up the camp and head out, her connection to Deathwulf came back, stronger than before.  She looked in the direction she ‘felt’ him in… it was leading over the eastern part of the Misty Mountains… similar to where they were heading.  As much as the trust and hope the others showed in her felt, a sense of relief flooded over her when she could again feel Deathwulf.

“If I need to, I will still do what is asked, but I can feel Deathwulf again, and stronger this time… I don’t think he is too far from us.”

The others paused in what they were doing to hear her out.  After a quick glance at each other, they appeared to double their efforts to pick up the camp.  It seemed like they were ready to head out in no time, with Chucaro to lead the way.  She went in the direction that she could feel him at, hoping they would meet with him soon.

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