Into the Woods

[Woods near Camp]

The moon floated high in the sky, beaming down on the forest below, full as a goat cheese wheel freshly made. Sounds of insects chirping, an owl cooing, and the river flowing echoed into the clear sky. It was marvelous. As Sarala tossed a stone into the waters, she could stay out here forever. Being in the wild open is where she seemed to flourish, the venturing into the unknown.

Some branches snapped as she walked further from camp, the smoke plume growing further each second. At last, she found a large shrub, shook it for potential pests, and finished her business.
By the time she was done and did some more safe wandering, the clouds had completely shifted. It must've been over ten minutes? Had to. But the flora was so fascinating. You couldn't pass this up.
She began walking back, the breeze chilling across her skin. Bumps formed across her arms, legs, and back as the trees went silent. Everything fell so silent. All you could hear were the woman's footsteps over pebbles, dirt, and sheer frost from a recent snow. Then a quieter patter of feet across the same ground somewhere near. Not even the birds called, not the owl.

It was in a clearing, illuminated by the sky, that Sarala slowly fell into a stop. Glimmering beads dotted the dark and wooded area, shadows moved within. A huff, a grumble, the snorting as breath condensed into sheer mist. A pack of wolves lined every exit through the trees, completely circled around. The woman was caged in.
And there was silence again. She was used to creatures of the wild but that was when she was prepared with another body next to her. And it was never this intense. There were never this many. This pack was huge. The beasts slowly seated themselves, one by one like dominoes. Daunting couldn't even begin to describe it. Sarala was deathly still and barely moved her head to look around. And, just like they sat, they began to howl one by one until the sound was so high pitched even the woman winced. Her nose crinkled and she raised her hands over her ears, causing some in the pack to snarl and close in on the circle, the others quickly fell in line. She spun, disoriented, hand reaching down to where one of her swords should've been.

They were back in camp.

Soon as her hand made contact with the empty leather belt, a swish of wind and a piercing set of teeth landed right into her wrist. She cried out and sent a boot directly into the wolf, causing it to lose its footing on the ground before scampering back into the front of the pack, which had collected now in one end of the opening.

"Get back!" A low voice yelled from her right, feet trampled over the ground until a soldier, the locksmith, came into sight. He had his sword drawn and held out toward the pack, keeping the woman behind him. But as soon as his hand made contact with her shoulder, the beasts snarled and pounced. Sarala stumbled backward onto the ground watching the grisly scene play out.

His blade slashed and sliced but it was nothing compared to their numbers. He was tackled to the ground in the blink of an eye, sword flying from his reach. In seconds they were tearing away his clothing, ripping skin from bone, and Sarala sat as frozen as the ground. As they devoured the poor man and his screams ran silent, the largest wolf stared into the tangle from a distance, eyes the most piercing of blue. Then they landed on Sarala and for a moment it was like nothing had happened. The blue was like the sea and it made her fall into memory of her home, her father, his ship... it made her feel lonely. Isolated and floating around in nothing.

The sling of an arrow shot through the air and a quiet whimper sounded. Blood spattered onto the ground in droplets from one of the wolf's hind legs.

"--ala!" An even louder voice came in through the echoes. She snapped back into where she was, looking around frantically. The wolves were gone and the soldier's body shredded. Kain had knelt down and been searching the remnants. The elf, the soldiers, and Glasgoh had their weapons readied, scanning out into the dark with caution. His brother, the pale green archer had rested his hand on her arm and crouched beside her.

"Are you alright?"

"No?" She let out a singular chuckle, still frightened and confused as to what happened. "They just came out of nowhere and he intervened..." her breaths were shallow.

"Did they attack you?" He spoke quietly, eyeing her briefly for any noticeable injuries. In the poor lighting her wrist could not be seen.

"No. Is he..?" Her hazel eyes landed on the corpse Kain had looted nothing from. She knew the answer but Gholis silently nodded. He helped her to her feet.

"His equipment is gone, all of it! Find the wolves or we may never get into Stonehall." The knight demanded.

Crow squawked before soaring through the trees, "Going north!"
The rest followed but Gholis remained there to escort her back toward camp.

"You'll lose them won't you?"

He gave a small, warming smile. "They'll need to be the ones catching up with me."
Once they hit camp, he nodded to her and turned away, but she stopped him.

"Please don't hurt them. They're just acting on instinct is all."

He grimaced. "We need are those keys, but how we get them is out of my hands. Keep watch of camp, okay?" He turned back into the dark woods in which his braids gave off a little flick.

She stood a moment, caressing her wounded hand with her back to the campfire. It was barely bleeding, a mere puncture, but it hurt like hell. Wolves, the way the did, would've torn the skin right off.

Man, would she have a new journal entry and a new scar too.

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