“Two prisoners escaped on Krakust’s watch. What does Krakust say about this?”
“Krakust say the human and elf still had magic. They were not dealt with correctly.”
“Where was Krakust’s amulet?”
“Leader Vartif took it away to fix. Leader Vartif had not returned it yet.”
Vartif, an older orc with greying skin produced an amulet from his pouch and tossed it to Krakust. “Leader Vartif had thought you would not need it back quickly. Leader Vartif charges Krakust with retrieving the escaped property. Krakust may take Evryn with to hunt the property.”
“Krakust will return with the property or not at all.”
“Good. Be gone, Krakust.”
– – –
Loading a satchel with food Krakust paused to stroke the fur of his Ice Wolf. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, “they believed me when I blamed others for not processing them correctly.”
Krakust threw the satchel onto his back and mounted the saddle on Evryn’s back. Grabbing his spear Krakust gave out the ritualistic cry. “On the blood of Krakust’s ancestors, Krakust will return with a complete task or not at all!” He tapped his heel on Evryn’s side and rode off northward. Certain the elf would lead the human toward a warmer climate.
“So, we will find and corner the human and ask what the otherworldly scent is that he reeks of. That smell does not exist in the South Reaches and I am certain it is not found on the whole of Domhan.”
Evryn grunted in reply as she ran north She suddenly stopped and smelled the air. Looking around a few times she stuck her snout in the snow and began sniffing in circles.
Krakust pulled on the reigns. “Stop, let me off if you lost the scent.” The ice wolf paused and Krakust dismounted. “It’s already getting late. I wasted half the day waiting for that useless human to realize he could affect me. I didn’t want my house servant to escape too, but they were eating the same food so it couldn’t be avoided.”
Pulling a strange two-needled compass from his waist pouch Krakust focused on the onyx needle. “Show me the direction of the boy.” As he focused his weak mind on the needle it began to turn clockwise. After it had circled the compass thrice it pointed towards a nearby cave, then slowly turned to point northward with the red needle.
“It hasn’t snowed in days. There should be tracks leading into and out of that cave.” He turned to face his ice wolf. “Come, Evryn. I’m going to track by sight.”
– – –
Lourek, who had braided his beard so Sorley could tell him apart from Lukren, adjusted his pack to better baffle his mining gear. “I still don’t know why we couldn’t start breaking through the rockfall in the cave, Flaskheart. Sorley says he knows a silence spell.”
Staring at Lourek for using the pet-name again Lukren grunted in annoyance. “We’ve had this discussion twelve times brother, he can only keep it up for ten minutes at a time. It won’t work if we take a break every ten minutes.”
Trudging along behind the dwarves Sorley turned to Helena. “What did they say?”
“I don’t know. My dwarvish is almost non-existent. I heard one say the word for brother. How can you understand common, anyway? You said you’re from a different realm?”
Sorley patted the grimoire at his side that he was able to keep with him. “Parts of this book are written in Gaelic, which you refer to as common. My parents made sure I was fluent in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.”
In dwarvish Lourek and Lukren continued arguing about whether walking or mining was the better idea when there was a howl from the south, behind them.
Speaking in common this time Lukren motioned to a nearby cave and said, “if we can make it in there we may be able to defend ourselves. Even if there’s only one chasing us we’d be flanked by an orc and an ice wolf. Ice wolves are sometimes more fierce than the orc they serve. Move.” While he was speaking Lukren had turned to head for the cave. Lourek had also turned and now they were running as fast as their dwarvish legs could carry them through the snow.
Ember hung tightly to Sorley’s shoulder as he took off jogging, fast enough to keep up with the dwarves, but slow enough that if he tripped he wouldn’t swallow a gallon of snow.
– – –
A light snow began to fall as the human and elf came into view. Krakust stroked a tusk as they neared the two familiar figures and two figures that were obviously dwarves. “How did they meet up?”
Krakust drew a spear from the quiver on Evryn’s side and chucked it at one of the humanoid figures. From behind in the light snow-fall he couldn’t tell the two apart so he aimed for a calf. He struck home, causing one of the figures to collapse into the snow.
When he got to the spot where the creature had fallen he noticed a blood and drag trail heading for a cave. The snow had started to come down thickly and rapidly. Krakust realized that he needed to take that cave or risk dying in the cold. He pulled out his compass, no longer certain where the cave was. In a manner of a half minute the light snowfall had become a full-on whiteout blizzard.
“Straight ahead still, Evryn. We will meet them in battle this day!”