Thursday, November 21, 2019

178 - “Safe Journeys” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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The winds blew a bit colder and stronger over the course of the next two days as they continued along the shadowed road. They settled into a routine each morning. The drake would squawk and nudge Parith, then he and Eddiwarth would start a fire. As the others awoke and gathered their kits, they ate a bit, either of their stores or a little more of whatever Parith had hunted up the night before. Then, they all left on their way, continuing on the meandering northbound road through the forest.

One morning Korr must have awakened early and withstood the chilling air, as Thissraelle saw him practicing his forms in the roadway. The rest of them, however, were up and ready to leave before he finished.

Parith often left the group to run through the trees and "scout ahead". This made Thissraelle nervous, but they continued through the shadowy forest along the road. Thissraelle had wanted to smooth things over with Parith, and had tried to talk to him, ostensibly about the path, but he'd brushed off her questions with curt answers. 

"I don't think he likes me much," she said to Eddiwarth later that morning, when Parith was gone.

"Why's that?

"I think I upset him when we were leaving the city," she explained, "when I admitted I was afraid of the wood elves."

“Afraid of them?” Eddiwarth asked, “Why?”

“They don’t like high elves,” she said, “right?”

Eddiwarth shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never been around them. I grew up in Twynne Rivers, and I never associated with any. I never knew any high elves, either, except for a few in the Guild. But then, they also never talked to me much. I didn’t really have friends in the Guild. I don’t know why.”

“It’s all the same.” Karendle had been walking behind them. “The only elf I know that’s treated me nicely has been Thissraelle.” 

Thissraelle smiled, but it didn’t last long. ...And even I wasn’t so easy to deal with. “Anyway, I didn’t think they’d like us crossing their forest. That, and I just thought there would be lots more of them here in the woods.”

"Yeah, where are they? You'd think we would've seen a few by now. We've been in Umbrawood for, what, two days, now?"

Thissraelle nodded, and they walked in silence. She she risked a side glance at Eddiwarth. He's got a nice face. Just a scruff of a beard growing and it’s been a few days since he’s had a bath, but, still...

"What," Eddiwarth asked, when he noticed, "Do I have weeds in my teeth?"

Thissraelle tossed her hair out of her eyes and stepped on ahead. As she passed, she saw Eddiwarth raise a brow at Karendle, who just chuckled and shrugged.

Soon after, they rested for lunch. The winds had picked up and the leaves were dropping more rapidly. The four in the party sat quietly in a circle by the side of the road, eating, when they heard the now-familiar “rrawk” of the drake. It flapped to the ground and rustled through the leaves toward Korr. 

Thissraelle looked up, scanning the shadowy trees above. “Where’s Parith?” Is it me, or is getting a little darker? She couldn’t see him, or anyone, for that matter. Maybe the sky had clouded over. It IS a little chillier.

Parith slid down a nearby tree trunk and hurried toward them. “Hello! Did you miss me?” There was a bit of urgency mixed in with his sarcasm. The drake yelped and trilled, but didn’t move from where Korr was feeding him. Parith leaned into the circle and hissed, “We may have trouble.”

Thissraelle’s eyes widened. “What?”

“There are a couple of riders down the road behind us. Two of them, with a pack animal. They’re not running their horses, but they’re moving quick, like they’re trying to catch up to someone. Maybe us.”

Thissraelle and Karendle passed worried glances at each other. Parith continued. “At first I thought they were just another trade caravan, albeit a small one. But they’re moving too fast. Traders are usually not in a hurry.” He squinted back over his shoulder to look down the road.

Eddiwarth stood to look, but couldn’t see through the shadows down the curve of the road.
“Should we hide?”

Parith shook his head. “I’m sure they already know we’re here. I say we just let them pass and see what they do. But then, this is your team, your guild.” He nodded his head toward Thissraelle.

What did he mean by that? Is he actually accepting me being in charge, or is he throwing me under an oncoming rockslide? She tried to read his eyes, but got no more clarity than his words. Even still, what he said made sense. Now wasn’t the time to be mentally debating trust issues. She took a deep breath. “OK, then. You take your bow up in the trees and be ready. Eddiwarth, stand by the donkeys and make sure you’ve got a grip on the reigns. Everyone else pull in close. Ready any weapons, but keep them hidden.” As they heard the hooves of the horses rustle through the leaves and brush, she added, “Be calm and friendly, but wary.” Parith nodded.

Everyone moved to their places and prepared. 

Thissraelle reached her focus inside of herself and felt her will become ready. She saw Karendle reaching for her pouch of oculi and slip her right hand in. Korr sat on a fallen tree, but shifted his weight so he was almost in one of the stances she had seen him practice.

A dark horse and rider came into view, followed by another, who was leading a third, lighter colored riderless horse. Their cloaks were dark brown, making them hard to see. The lead rider wore a hood, hiding his face even further. 

Korr mumbled, “We should probably be casually talking among ourselves.”

“Good point.” Karendle said in a low voice. “Lovely weather we’re having...” Eddiwarth adjusted the packs on the donkeys, while looking warily at the other travelers. Thissraelle tried to keep her head down and not look too intensely.

“Hail to you, travelers!” The second man called out, but their horses didn’t stop. His voice was not deep, even a bit light. Is that him? The one we talked to? She looked into Karendle’s face. 

Karendle looked up at the man, then raised her left arm in a wave. Her right she kept in her pouch, under her cloak. “And to you.” Thissraelle saw Karendle’s eyes narrow as she nodded. It IS them! Thissraelle’s hand clenched into a fist and her shoulders tensed. 

The horses stepped on. 

As their hoofsteps began to distance, the voice said, “A safe journey to you all.” Karendle didn’t respond to his good wishes. Thissraelle hazarded a glance from behind her hood. She saw the back of his head only, with elvish ears standing out from the hair before he disappeared into the forest. Is he a high elf or a wood elf? I can’t see from here.

The friends watched warily as they disappeared into the shadows. Eddiwarth approached the group with care. Parith climbed down and joined them.

“That was them.” Karendle whispered. “The ones that want Thissraelle.”

“Those two?” Parith asked. “Why didn’t they attack, try to capture her?”

Eddiwarth rubbed his head. “Maybe the fact that there were only two of them and more of us.”

Karendle and Thissraelle exchanged knowing looks. Karendle finally let her shoulders relax. “Probably because they still think that I’m going to do it for them.”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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