The Size of the Dog in the Fight
The warband was making little effort to hide its movements, but it would have taken quite an effort to hide their movements from the elf tracking them. Still, he was cautious as he approached the clearing that they had stopped in. He assumed that they would camp for the night and wanted to move into a position to watch for opportunities to inflict further damage on the party responsible for the death of his kin.
A loud bray cut through the air as the elf climbed down from another tree that didn’t afford a good view. Grabbing his bow, he looked around in earnest for anywhere he could hide himself. A short distance away, a commotion had started and as he sought shelter, he felt a disturbing sense from the noises of the Beastmen he was tracking. The sounds were not the sounds of the usual exultation to their perverse gods. They were the sounds of fear.
Loud voices began calling out in a dark tongue, back and forth, filled with anger and even posturing. As the minutes passed and shouting continued, the hiding elf cursed his position and began looking around for any place that was better. The heated exchanges began to get cheers and jeers from different creatures as two sides continued their battle. As the elf sidled up a nearby tree again, a booming voice far deeper than the previous shouters cut through the cacophony and silence momentarily settled over the forest before low murmurs took over.
It wasn’t long before the first clash of weapons was heard, the murmurs replaced by shouting again as each side cheered their fighter. The elf could see the backs of a crowd of Beastmen but not the actual combat going on, and again cursed the timing of this confrontation and his vantage point. The clash of metal assaulted his ears as he made to move again, but a cry of dying agony pierced the exulting cheers, the volume of them suddenly cut in half.
A deep guttural bray of victory rose over the voices and the elf was mesmerized by the sound. He heard a grunt of exertion and from his vantage point, he could see the backs of his prey suddenly turn around and look in his direction, or so he believed for a moment.
The disemboweled body of the warband leader landed on its back at the edge of the clearing, not far from the elf. A cheer went up from creatures he couldn’t see, and the remainder of the warband he could see seemed to consider their lifeless leader for only a moment before they started, some hesitantly at first and even more with trepidation, to join in the cheers.
The elf stared into the lifeless eyes of the creature that had led the attack on his kithband and was furious that something had taken that from him. The victor of the fight had earned a new enemy, even if it was unaware of it, and the elf would not rest until he had ended the victor’s life the way it had ended the life of his prey.
“What is here? Elf in tree?” announced a voice below him in broken Elven. The elf was startled momentarily, but survival instincts kicked in. Looking down quickly, he saw a Bestigor he didn’t recognize and another one a short distance away, before he sprang into a leap to a nearby tree and the chase was on.
The first spear took him in the side but missed vital organs. Stumbling onward, the elf desperately looked for an escape as the creatures continued their pursuit. He could hear other Beastmen howling and joining in the chase, and at that moment, he was sure his life was going to end.
The second spear grazed his head, shooting more pain through his body and taking off a piece of his ear as he made his way down the mountainside, bobbing and weaving through the trees. He could hear a score of hoofbeats behind him all over the woods as he tried to avoid slipping on the loose earth in his desperate flight. Only his elven training kept him on his feet, and that training helped him clear the treeline and stare down a steep embankment.
He dodged the third spear that came out of the trees and made to start down the embankment when the bolt of energy hit him. He had a moment to question when the warband had replaced the shaman he’d killed before the world spun, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell far down the mountainside.
Pain shot through every part of his body amidst the fog in his head. He made to open his eyes but couldn’t open his swollen lids. Panic set in and he started to writhe around before strong hands held him down and a firm woman’s voice spoke.
“Calm yourself, or you’ll tear one of your dressings! You shouldn’t be alive but the spirits must have something left for you to do. If you want to do it, you need to rest again. I’ve done all I can. The rest is up to you and whatever god you believe in.”