View Full Version : A Harrowing Journey

11-04-2005, 17:18
The last rays of light slid slowly across the breadth of the snowy vale as first the threateningly dark pillars of nimbus and then the lofty Shiverpeaks claimed the sun. To the untrained eye the now shadowed realm of white turned grey would seem a peaceful scene fit for some artists brush to capture, but others knew better…

Beor’s finely crafted gauntlet clasped his heavy fur cloak even tighter about himself as he crunched up the snowy hillock into the teeth of the gale. One meager and all too brief a glance before darkness fell was all chance would bestow him it seems. So much responsibility rested on his young shoulders and his ability to spy out shelter for the night. There, up ahead… just beyond the next rise. Could it be the very cave he was sure he remembered?

Turning, Beor whet his lips before the piercing cry of the yellow songbird Teonia, Dwayna comfort her soul, had taught them brought movement from the bedraggled looking band at the base. It all seemed so unfair he thought as he half slipped, half fell on the now icy slope in his effort to rejoin them. The small party met him with anxious, hungry, almost desperate looks especially in the eyes of those few whose children yet lived. At least he had good news to impart this time, there’d been far too little of that since they were separated from the main group of Ascalon refugee’s.

“The cave we’ve sought is up ahead; I caught a glimpse of it in the failing light.” A sudden gale sprung up deafening those listening and he paused to let it pass. “Pray it is still stocked with supplies and no evil has befallen the stores within. Also, that we have finally shaken those pursuing us.” Beor’s gaze met that of Alanis, and the young paladin smiled grimly at the older veteran before heading off in front to break trail for the weaker group following his lead.


Thankfully the cave was still stocked. It was one of a few emergency shelters for wanderers the Deldrimor clan had established over the years. ‘Fate has a funny way of spinning her web’, Beor thought… for had his own family of traders not been murdered by the Stone Summit years past he would have lacked the knowledge to save this small band, and the woman he loved. “Blast…” he muttered to no one in particular.

“What?” a quiet, silky voice asked just above the rustle of her well worn travel clothes as they swished to a stop.

“Nothing...” he replied quickly, then sighed. “It’s just I’m not sure I can protect you. We’ve already lost so many and I’m not sure I’m strong enough to bear losing you as well Alania.” He’d already removed his plate for the night, and with the weight of it gone the gentle hands that started kneading his shoulders and neck were a soothing balm.

Alania’s tried to wipe her tears before they fell but too late. As Beor looked up she caressed his face as she sat down on the old spruce boughs cut for the shelter and snuggled up beside him. “It’s not your fault this all happened, it’s like the gods have deserted us most in our time of need. Even the Prince and his small band of heroes had to forget us for the sake of the many,” and almost a whisper in Beor’s ear, “But not you, Alanis, or fair Teonia may she rest in the light. And none of us deserve the love you’ve shown us. You are the last to sleep, the first to rise. You heal our wounds, which is my job by the way,” and poked him playfully before continuing “at the end of the journey and further weaken yourself. You eat less and less so others may have more, I’m just thankful we have snow melt to survive on or you’d probably die of thirst for us too.”

“I love you…” was all Beor could muster before kissing her soundly and pulling her close. “I love you too,” Alania whispered fiercely back. And the small group of wanderers slept under their watchful eyes.

The next day the small group feasted on Dwarven waybread, hardy biscuits one could break a tooth on, and snowmelt. Gray light filtered through overcast sky and lightly falling snow, though thankfully the bitter wind was not present this day. Spirits were higher then they had been in days and the fact there’d been no recent sign of Stone Summit’s scouts had done more than a warm, dry night of sleep. With spirits high they made out and even some broke into low but cheery travel song:

‘Over the mountains our feet shall trod
through the deep vales we wend our way
nothing can stay us from hearth and keep
for Dwayna’s hand will guide us ere.

Ale and wine shall flow a plenty
when ol’ miss Dumplin spies her own
no, theres naught a thing like coming home
theres naught a thing like coming home’

The verses kept on, for it was a drinking song and poorly writ but popular with the common folk. Beor was not about to silence this pleasant turn of events, especially only hours away from the Deldrimoor hamlet of his childhood. Alas, it was not his choice to make.

The first arrows went awry, for by some blessed turn of events the wind kicked up causing the arrows to fall well short of their mark. It did not silence the instant fear their war horns engendered in the small band but it did hasten the group to a run at Beor’s call. And so the chase began with the small band fleeing for their life at a faster but slowing pace then the shorter dwarves behind.

“The hamlet is just on the other side”, Beor called out encouraging their flagging legs. “If we could only reach the last leg of safety in the gap then the Deldrimoor will aid us for they have powerful enchantments at that ancient site.”

Durn Strongbow had always been one of the fleetest scouts in his clan. None could pace him for he could run all day and night at almost the speed of the cursed tall-ones aiding the Deldrimoor. While most overlooked him as a warrior none could contest his speed or aim, and today it looked like it’d cost that cleric of theirs her life. And so he stopped, drew his truest ash arrow and notched it on the run. Taking a stand he drew his bow back and let fly… praying Umbar would see his aim true.

As the group entered the gap Beor felt his heart wrench through the life bond he had prayed for over Alania and heard the cry of pain. For a few precious seconds his senses reeled then his training took over. He motioned Alanis to keep the group moving and rushed back to Alania’s crumpled form. She was dying, unless he could heal her enough but that’d leave him precious little energy to fight with. He made his choice…

Durn and the trailing scouts in the quad hooted with evil glee and spread out. For now the hunt began in earnest and none of them doubted this warrior’s capability. Slowly a smile spread across his lips as he realize the price that knight had just paid. This might cost them all less then they thought it would.

Beor stood somewhat weakly and set his shield before charging the oncoming dwarves. His spirits slowly recovered and as the first arrows started impacting he prayed for Balthazar’s spirit to protect him. His armor prevented most of the damage for it was dwarven forged and Dwayna blessed. Soon thanks to his timely cast his strength soared and…

Durn watched with grim satisfaction as an arrow finally found a chink in the leg armor of the now obvious protected one. No other warrior could stand up to the hell his quad had just realeased. He dropped his bow and un-slung his axe, “Ack mae put dan oi.” (It’s hunting time boys)

Beor crumpled to the snow as his leg gave way and rolled into a ball with his shield protecting him. He quickly snapped off the end and healed the wound around the remaining arrowhead and shaft. ‘So much for healing hands’ he cursed before leaping back to his feet and drawing his sword with a ringing sound of steel on leather. Just in time, allowing him to deflect the first small throwing axe that came flying in before the dwarves closed. He took the first and largest dwarf through the throat as he raised his axe to finish off supposedly a helpless target. ‘One down, three to go... there’s two in front, where’d the other get to’ Beor thought as he scanned through the slits in his helmet. Not knowing where his opponent was Beor hastily began a prayer.

Durn rolled to the left as fatty Bodger took it in the throat. Well at least the other two will buy me some time. He bounced up behind the protected one and swung his enchanted axe with all his might, biting deep into the shield arm and nearly taking it off.

Beor cried out in anger, pain, and fear that if he fell too soon Alania would join him shortly. Something snapped in his young mind and the pain rushed to the back. He spun, his sword arm a simple extension of his body and took the arms of his assailant. Completing the rotation he parried the incoming blow from the left with the other glancing off his armor ineffectively. His world began to grey in exhaustion, loss of blood, but he pressed on with a feint and lunch taking one dwarf through the weakly protected gut. The last dwarf lunged once more and Beor sidestepped the overhead blow swinging with all his might in a counter hack that took it’s head neatly at the nape of the neck… and then he knew no more.

“Beor… Beor…” The gentle yet insistent voice kept nagging into the pleasant darkness and disturbing the peace of the long sleep. “Your time is not yet up, come back to the living. Please, I need you so…”

“Alania!” The cry echoed out of the bouncing sled pulled by armored yak’s and the escorting contingent of dwarves to echo off the heights of the Shiverpeaks as the young paladin literally leapt from the clutches of death to passionately embrace is love as he wept for joy.

Joy to be alive, joy at her having lived, joy that his charges made it and joy for the simple things like holding one he loved so dearly. The world seemed bright once more, full of hope for he had survived death itself for now and he’d strive to make the most of every moment left to them.

While the road ahead might hold much of what they’d just been through, for now, he would dwell on the beauty that is life and the small blessings it is our lot to have.