Thursday, January 9, 2020

188 - “What They Found” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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Karendle was the first to see a body, and immediately called out, “Thissraelle! Come quick!”

Thissraelle stood still in her tracks, surprised. The evening was coming on, and the cold was starting to bite. They had been pressing hard through the forest for hours, following Illariel’s lead. Thissraelle turned to her right and hurriedly strode toward where Karendle had been scouting.

Karendle added, “Parith is going to want to see this, too!”

Thissraelle climbed over the high ridges of roots of an enormous oak and looked down into a small ravine where Karendle was standing. She was near a small stream trickling through the meager valley between two rises. She was pointing at a body, sprawled, unmoving, on the other side of the water. It was a wood elf, wearing a dark green cloak, splayed open on the ground and now stained with his blood. His legs were tangled in a broken branch, and rested up the slope from his head. Two arrow fletchings protruded from the stain on his chest, with very little of the actual shafts showing. Thissraelle caught her breath, and her hand jumped to her lips.

Parith stepped over the crest and also froze. “Creator’s flames!”

After a moment’s pause, Korr also arrived. Parith stepped forward, carefully navigating the slimy rocks of the stream. The drake tried to keep his balance on Parith’s shoulder by waving his wings. As he approached the body, he noted, with a hushed gravity in his voice, “These aren’t wood elf arrows.”

The scream of a young girl split through the wind and cawing birds.

Startled, Thissraelle yanked her head up. “I’ll bet Illariel found another one.” Thissraelle leapt up the embankment and ran toward Illariel’s voice and could hear Karendle running behind her. After a moment, they paused, scanning the forest, not sure where the elf girl had gone.

“Illariel!” Thissraelle called out.

“I’m up here!”

Thissraelle and Karendle jerked their faces upward. Illariel sat on a large branch near the trunk of a tree. Next to her was another wood elf, also dead, with a single arrow piercing his lower neck and holding his corpse fast to the tree trunk. His head slumped and his arms draped limp, his own bow slung useless across his legs.

We got here too late! “Are you alright?” Thissraelle called up.

“I’m fine.” Illariel responded, and reached up to gently reset the elf’s head back against the tree and straighten his hair. She jumped to the tree trunk and slid along it to the ground.

“You screamed!”

“Yeah, I was just surprised,” Illariel shrugged. “I wish he’d had a more peaceful way to become one in the heart of the forest.”

Thissraelle nodded. “Parith! Korr! Come quickly!” She stepped to the tree underneath the body, and saw drops of blood just beginning to crust and dry on the leaves. It hasn’t been long since they were attacked. Where is Eddiwarth?

The little drakeling arrived quickly, with a fluttering of wings, and settled itself on the side of a tree, gripping its claws into the bark. Parith hurried up a moment later, and sucked in a deep breath when he was shown the body in the branches.

“Those arrows,” Thissraelle ventured, “They’re high elven, aren’t they?”

Parith nodded, as Korr approached with the pack animals behind him. Parith explained, “They have metal nocks, and feather fletching. Wood elves would have used leaves for fletching and the entire shaft would be wood, all sealed and strengthened by nature power. I’ve also never seen a wood elven bow that could bury an arrow so deep into someone’s heart like that.”

Thissraelle closed her eyes, as this thought sank deep into her own heart. She glanced at Parith, but his gaze was fixed on the body in the tree. They hurt my people, and my people kill his people. She hung her head, then reached out and rested her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

Parith just gave a sharp nod and stepped past her. “They probably went this way, if the killing path continues.” Thissraelle fell in behind him, and the rest of the group followed.

They moved through the forest with renewed urgency. Flakes of snow began to filter down through the maze of bare branches above, dancing like ghosts between the trees. Even in the cold, there were winter birds chattering. It was only a few minutes later when Parith stopped.

Thissraelle knew immediately what he was seeing. She caught up to his side, then stepped forward, moving between the bodies fallen on the bed of dirty leaves and snow dust. She counted two more wood elves, and three high elves, but there were probably more. Under dark cloaks, the high elf soldiers wore heavy padded protection on their chests. That armor, originally white, was now stained in dirt and blood. Their light hair fell in tangles among the leaves beneath their pallid heads. Their spears and bows were scattered beside them, many broken. Thissraelle looked at each body in turn, afraid it would prove to be Eddiwarth.

Karendle walked beside her, taking it all in. Parith and Korr each led a donkey behind them.

Parith coughed, then said, “At least it looks like they put up a good fight.” There was a hint of anger in his voice.

“I don’t understand,” Thissraelle mused. “What were high elves doing this deep in Umbrawood?” From the corner of her vision, she saw Korr kneel by a body.

“Thissraelle!” he called out. “This one lives!”


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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