Thursday, January 2, 2020

186 - “A Sorry Lot” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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Karendle walked in an awkward silence alongside Thissraelle. A cold wind blew steadily through the trees and across their faces, a harbinger of rain, or maybe even snow. They were cutting and trudging their way through the thick of the forest, having left the main trade road in favor of the direction that the wood elf band had gone. As midday approached, the sky grew lighter, but through the bare branches Karendle could see gray clouds above. She felt a cold draft on her knee where a bladefern had slashed her leggings. After that, she kept her eyes in front of her.

 Parith walked ahead, trying to clear a path across logs, roots, and ravines. He was trying to track the other group, but it seemed to Karendle that he didn’t really know where they were going. Korr, his leg wounds healed by Thissraelle’s magic, followed him, leading the two donkeys tethered together. The whole party seemed to be feeling the gloom, but Karendle saw that it was weighing especially heavy on Thissraelle. What a mess. She deserves better than this.

Illariel jumped and bounded across the terrain around them, her dark hair and deep green cloak tossing behind her. She kept trying to start a conversation with someone, anyone. At the moment, it was Krendle’s turn. “So, how did you guys connect up with Parthee, up there?”

Karendle glanced at her. “Huh?”

“The cute one. Seems like you don’t like each other very much.”

“Parith? I’m mad at him.”

“What are you mad at him for?”

What for!? Karendle felt a tension grow in her gut, gripping her gut, and making her shoulders shiver. She tugged her cloak tighter and looked at Thissraelle’s downturned face. What for? Then, she pulled her brows together as she turned back to Illariel and grumbled, “I’m having a problem with wood elves at the moment.”

Karendle was about to step away when she noticed that Korr had stopped. Parith looked up, first at one tree, then another. “Hang on a minute,” he said, then leapt high up at a thick trunk, vaulting himself off it and onto another before disappearing into the outstretched branches.

Karendle tossed out an exasperated sigh, her breath misting before her, and stepped forward past Korr. “What now?”

Parith didn’t respond. Karendle scanned the tangled mass of intertwined branches, but saw nothing. Thissraelle stepped up next to her, also searching. The chill in the wind blew more leaves around them from above, even though there weren’t as many of them falling as before.

With a crunch, Parith dropped down from a tree behind them. Karendle jumped, startled, and her hand went to her blade. Parith sat down, shoulders slouched, at the base of the tree and looked away. The small drake flitted and landed down next to him.

Karendle stood straight. “We’re lost, aren’t we?” Parith ran his hand through his hair, but didn’t look up. “You have no idea where they are! Do you even know where we are?”

The silence in the forest was loud and heavy. Karendle glanced at the others in turn, but nobody spoke. Nobody had any idea what to say. Finally, Parith raised his head and sighed. “It’s worse than that, actually,” he whispered, resigned. “I think that the trail I’ve been following was a false one.”

“What?” Karendle shouted.

Parith dropped his eyes again, stood, and shook his head. “At first it was pretty easy to follow. They left lots of signs. Broken branches, rustled leaves, that sort of thing. Then, it started getting harder to see, and it looked like there were fewer of them. Then, nothing. I’ve been trying to pick it back up for a while, now, but...”

“You... You...” Karendle clenched her fists before letting out a harsh growl and kicking up a fluttering of leaves in frustration. She slumped against another tree and slid to the ground. Korr also sat, unsure.

Finally, Thissraelle spoke, “I’m sorry.”

What? YOU’RE sorry? Karendle looked up at her, amazed.

“I’m sorry I blinked away when we were attacked. I should have stayed and helped in the fight.” She took a breath and held her arms together against the cold. “Then, I should have used my mind to reach out and find Eddiwarth. But between the blink and the healing, I can feel my will getting weak. Plus, I assumed from what you said that he probably would not be conscious. I still shouldn’t have left him.”

She moved to sit next to Parith, then hesitated. “And if it weren’t for my stoneshaking quest, whatever it is, we wouldn’t all be out here in the first place. We’d all still be relaxing with the Seekers in The Vast.”

Parith looked up, his lips drawn back. “No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry we were attacked. I didn’t want to admit that you were right. You’re high elves. We’re wood elves. I’d hoped I could get you through safely, that I could smooth over any problems.” He coughed and looked away. “But you were right.”

Karendle wanted to scream inside. Yes! She was right! What did you think would happen? Her own thoughts betrayed her, however, and she remembered what had brought them to that interdimensional haven. They had been fighting drakes in the cathedral. And Thissraelle was in the cathedral looking for me. If I hadn’t argued with her and run off on my own, we’d still be relaxing with DeFrantis in the monastery in Dirae.

What a mess.

Thissraelle is my friend, and she deserves better than this.


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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