A Search For Dark

(OOC- So, we have put this off. I kinda want to do this before we forget. Sorry but I was in a writing mood.)

((Near the border of the Warfall territory))

((One mile from Stonehall))

The wind had rustled the leaves of the woods into a song of gentle breath. The sun was warm where it shone, and a constant brightness in which to see the woods. The sound of leaves was only interrupted by the sound of hooves upon the dirt, softly at a canter. Picking a path through the trees was a cloaked figure, his left hand holding a bow horizontally across his saddle while his right held the reins in a firm grasp. A single finger kept the arrow in place as the horse made way.

His cloak was a mottled green-gray of not importance, looking shabby yet warm and water-tight. It seemed to shimmer at long distance, yet no magic betricks the mind. And appearing over the cloak's right shoulder was the hilt of a hand-and-a-half sword like an owl leeching there; the left shoulder showed a quiver of arrows in white fletching.

The rider gazed about with a watchful eye, seemingly dozing in his saddle with his cowl up if not for the bow. Goblins were being rather irritating this month, perhaps being dredged out of the hills by the monster of Stonehall. It would explain why most of the larger groups would waste their stealth attacking when they needn't.

He looked back after a while, two saddlebags filled and looking heavy with content. He sighed, muttering, "I will miss you, old friend."

((2 Months Ago))

An arrow zipped through the air, making him pause for a moment before bringing his bastard sword in a vertical guard. A longsword clashed against the blade; he let the force carry him down to the right but twisted as he did so. He spun and cleaved deeply into the orc, bone sliced neatly as blood spurted once in a large gush.

The orc groaned to his knees and quietly died.

"I think it is time we flanked, my boy!"

He turned about, smiling at a dwarf that leaped down off a broken wagon. His thud upon the ground did not stagger him, though it was muted by the sound of three more arrows. "You sure took your time, old man. Tell me Tolkyn, are we here for your man or are we fighting their war?" he asked.

"Jeke, my boy, we will need to get on the other side of that to get my man," Master Tolkyn said, hooking a thumb over his shoulder. He crossed his arms and leaned back against the shattered wagon, finishing with a smile, "Of course, you are rather young. You might make it two hundred paces before you take an arrow."

Jeke peeked around the cover and saw the knoll was an all-out attack between the sides, trumpets of orcs calling out cries every time the kingdom sent men up. Moments later, he saw what happened afterwards. Clouds of head-sized rocks came whipping over the hill to rain on the troops at the bottom. He had to admit whoever manned that magonel was placing the spread rather nicely. So far, it was keeping the knights and needed men-at-arms from advancing up the knoll from reinforcing the beleaguered regiment just near the top.

He heard a creak of wheels and looked to his car left. It seemed that those royals had learned their lesson, taking a page from the clans with their own catapults. Two wheeled up, accompanied by their crew and a squad of soldiers. Their arms began to wind back with a twin chorus of cogs.

Jeke looked back to Tolkyn. "Or we could wait and then run."

The Weapons Master humphed before noticing. "You know, I am old..." The dwarf said with a sigh.

"Of course, you never let me forget," he gave in response, giving his sword a twirl. Already the two prepared, Tolkyn wielding his shortswords in a set of little twirls. Jeke held his own sword in his right hand, the blade still bloody at his side.

"Ah, once more! Shall we?" Tolkyn said with a final twirl.

Jeke inhaled through his nose, closing his eyes slowly with the breath. They opened with the sound of a release, the catapults launching flaming pots over the hill. The air faintly glowed with flame as the explosive roar of heat erupted, almost drowning out the signal of the second regiment in their march.

It was then they left their cover, two men running across former no-man's-land. They started up the slope just as the battle intensified, the dwarf huffing as he ran. "This is... why I... join when... they go... Much less... moving around!"

The whistle of a head-sized rock passed over them not only a foot away made Jeke glance at his master. There was no time for a response for suddenly battle was met; both jumped through the kingdom lines and tried their best to dodge or incapacitate attackers. Far too often for both their tastes were they forced to cut down their assailant, quickly piercing their guard before they could respond.

For nine minutes they moved through the melee, almost making it before a new sound reached their ears. Many others heard it, but what clansmen heard it seemed to renew their ferocity. The two looked to the source.

The source seized them and many others up in forest green tendrils. The master of them was a forest elemental, rock and tree melded in magic, eyes and mouth portals of green energy. Both Masters brought their magic into play, their swords magically alighting in frost, fire, and sunlight as they slashed and stabbed the energy. Jeke fell, landing after a good fall and rolling. He continued the motion into a run, sprinting forward to the main body as Tolkyn gave a yell or two of combat.

The dwarf drew sparks and gravel from its hide, even as its right arm drew back and heaved a savage punch to Tolkyn. Jeke watched as he flew out of sight, faintly thinking to remark how dwarves never fly to Tolkyn later as he closed to the elemental. The creature created a swath of death, summoned by a clan druid for daring to use fire on their lands. He battled it true and hard, finally managing to end it with cleverly planned maneuvering. The elemental swung with a step as Jeke rolled away into safety. The elemental turned to hear a whistle and receive a fire barrel directly upon it.

With the loss of their siege beast, it seemed that the clans were retreating. Jeke turned and saw that the king's men were in no position to give chase either, nor were in the state for pursuit. With a clear path, he sought Tolkyn out.

He found him laying there, half on a rock jutting from the ground. His ribs lay broken out and his breath was labored, yet the old man still managed to smile at his apprentice as Jeke kneeled beside him.

((Present Day))

Finally, the overgrown road appeared to his eyes. He kicked forward a bit faster, knowing that the fort was close. He still kept his appearance in the same state, appearing inattentive to his surroundings.

After about an hour, he heard his horse give a soft noise. "Where?" came the command. The horse turned its head to the right. "Good boy," he smiled. Jeke let the horse continue forward a bit more before stopping. Ground hitching the horse, he took to foot. It didn't take long for the Weapons Master to find the source of what his steed had heard, for he saw easily the approaching band of men and women coming up a different path. Here, it would widen out and merge with the final path to Stonehall, and they seemed to be following it.

Jeke lowered his bow and leaned back against a tree. With both his cloak and stillness, he more or less blended in with the rest of his surroundings. He had known some encounters where people were about to touch him and still had not noticed him, perhaps it would be one of those days. Jeke smiled, discarding that. Chances were, they were on their way to Stonehall as well.

He put away his bow and waited still. He moved a bit closer and more in the way, though he was wondering how many would spot him quickly.

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