Tomorrow morning we cross the border, not much time to write there's a Thyraak gang somewhere near, we shall have to hide out for the night. I can hear them now, they have made a kill. Time to extinguish the fire. At least you can rely on the Thyrash to give away their presence after the first blood.
The last gurgles of murder drifted on the wind, the great Pallenwoods bouncing the sound around so it seemed to come from every direction at once. Sometime before the sun broke the horizon two shrouded figures may have been glimpsed, by the trained eye, slowly detaching from between two tree roots. With movement that would best be described as catlike they broke from their lone Pallenwood towards the forest some five hops away. Darting from fog patch to thicket they made steady progress without so much as a whisper. Suddenly at no more than a hop from the fence they both stopped abruptly. The shape in front had discovered, quite by chance, the remains of Narran To. They knew not his name, nor the great adventure that brought this famous and noble warrior to rest on the border marsh of Kallen Broke and the Mist Realm but they knew one thing. Narran To had died wearing the fabled Screaming Armour of Battle, a rare enchanted artefact that wore down the morale of any opponent. They knew this because one of the shapes had discovered this priceless armour with his leading foot in full stride.
“Greiip what in the blazes did you do?” shouted Ziss, the young but eager squire over the sound of otherworldly wailing.
“Damned if I know” replied Greiip Thro-htn, the much less well known adventurer. “I thought that was you, 'ey up there's a dead body down here Ziss, look”.
He eyed Ziss, such eagerness was hard to find in a squire, especially one so young. He had sworn Ziss' father he would protect the young lad with his life. So far he had proved more than helpful in the scrapes they'd wound up in on the way here. Not to mention his skill with a sword. That one was destined for greatness.
“I think that's what's making the noise Greiip, that armour, it shimmers”.
“So it does Ziss, hey, you wonder if it's worth anything?”
Greiip looked up just in time to see Ziss slain by an arrow. He ducked back down quickly and did what he did best when people around him died suddenly. He ran away. He felt a whiz of air beside his arm and looked down just in time to see another arrow thud into the ground a little way in front. He corrected his direction just as the unseen archer corrected his aim and the second arrow missed by a fingers width. He chuckled inwardly.
“If there's one thing I do well it's run away”
As he bounded over the side of a small rocky outcrop several more arrows clattered harmlessly behind him. He stopped. The border was less than half a hop, however that archer could reach the rocks and have an arrow in his back in short order if he tried to sprint. The sound of the armour died down as it returned to it's mineral slumber.
“Is that you Amnore?” called a gruff voice from beyond the ridge. Greiip waited. Amnore? Did he recognise that name?
“We killed your boy, that looks like a pretty sword he's carrying, bet you'd like it back huh”
“No” called Greiip then, for reasons unknown to even him he put on an even gruffer voice, “No, I got an even nicer one back here”.
“You sound unwell Amnore, you spend too long in the marsh, it's in your lungs now. You know what that means”.
Ah, so Amnore was a Cullutyin, the gas in the marsh sure would make someone of that species sound unwell. For ever. Pleased with his lucky ruse Greiip decided to add to the effect with a bit of coughing and a pretend sneeze. He remembered a moment later Cullutyin have a function for neither and screwed up his eyes in annoyance. There was a pause.
“Okay, who's really back there then?”
Greiip cursed silently.
“Fine, you got me, My name is Greiip Thro-htn, adventurer, trying to cross into Mist Realm. Sorry. I mean, that is, for lying to you”. He waited, then it slipped out “Sir” he screwed his eyes tighter.
“Nobody ever called me sir before, what are you Undler?, Thraat?”
“Human” said Greiip.
“Puny Humans, what realm?”
“Er, Tuot, south of the Crawfort, you, know it, at all?”
“Never heard of it” called back the voice.
“Well Greiip Thro-htn, you can go, but no funny business”.
"Go?" Greip waited a beat "Ah, you mean to ambush me when I emerge?”
“Greiip, while we were chatting my archers have been creeping up either side of you, if I wanted to kill you I would. We looted your boy, he had plenty of food, and this wailing armour is probably worth a coin or two. We're done here for today”.
“So what, you were loosing arrows at me for fun then?”
“Just trying to slow you down some, that was quite the fancy running” said the voice.
"Oh, thankyou, but why release me?”
“Good for business, you might tell some other adventurer who comes here looking for us, and so on. Lucky finds like you are rare, we could set up a whole 'nother victim chain”.
“Come on” shouted back Greiip annoyed at being part of someone else’s ruse “Archers?, can't take me like real men?”
“Says the one who ran away, and anyway, no, what if one of us was killed, be bad for business”.
“So then maybe I just take my sword and charge you bunch of women”
Greiip wondered to himself where he was going with this or why he had even started down that road, he certainly wasn't going to charge out there. And he had been bluffing about carrying a sword. Either way his answer came in the form of an arrow from the bushes to his left hitting the ground next to his boot.
“You'd best be off quickly Greiip, young Fillen there never misses unless he means to”.
At the border fence Greiip looked back. The bandits had gone, along with poor Wiss' body, or was it Tiss? It made no matter, Greiip was done with squires. Three of the blighters had died on him this Mooncrest, he wasn't going to loose a fourth.
“I must be bad luck” he said to himself.
As he mounted the fallen rock face the old man at the last village had told him of he thought that perhaps, with his journey to the edge of Mist Realm complete, his luck would turn. He landed on the other side of the fence with a thud and stood up. Ahead the mountain stretched off to the right, to his left a vast open plain. Gorrenlark, the lowest point of Mist Realm. He breathed in the air. Yup, there was adventure to be had here. He could taste it. With a smile and a spring in his step he emerged onto the road and was instantly surrounded by soldiers on horseback. Something hit his head sharply and then, just black. Deep inky painful black.