Chapter 8 – Fellglow Keep
Part 1: Beyond The Woods
Ienarath ran as fast as she could. She knew she had a few hours before any suspicions of her absence began to form. By then, it would be dusk, and they’d have to track her in the dark. And if she was right, whatever Baldr was going to get for her, it was enough that he would chase her down. She had to keep moving.
Along with her alchemy skills, and budding swordsmanship, Ienarath had proven herself to be very light-footed as well. In another time and place, she probably would have made for a good thief's or assassin's apprentice. But that was not the case. She was, instead, thrown in with bandits, and her time with them had apparently run its course, and so now she must run. As night fell, her paced lessened, not out of desire, but rather necessity. Her adrenaline rush had subsided and she was now feeling the effects of fatigue. But at least it was dark now and she knew that she had the upper hand; at least until morning.
She didn’t know exactly where Fellglow was, it wasn’t on any maps that she could remember seeing, but somehow she knew she was heading in the right direction. She continued to follow her instincts and kept heading in a Northeasterly direction. As she moved she did her best to remember as much as she could from the trip when she first met the mages.
The journey became more and more difficult as the terrain became more rocky and began to slope upwards. The fact that she was also being as diligent as possible about not making any noticeable tracks made the climb even more difficult. As she stopped by a small outcropping of rock she heard a sound that made her heart race, the lone cry of a wolf. Ienarath knew that meant others were nearby. Trying to calm her breath, she realized that she was downwind of the sound. That was a good thing, and would keep her safe for now. But, wolves have excellent hearing as well as smell, so she knew that she was still in great danger. She sat there motionless for several minutes trying to come up with a plan, and that’s when she realized the howling had stopped and that there was a rustling in the underbrush, and was rapidly getting closer. The wolves were on the move and they were coming her way. She thought she heard three distinct movements, and as she prepare herself to fight, there came a rumbling from in front of her.
It wasn’t fast, but it was steady. The rumbling caught the attention of the wolves, too, and they were soon sprinting around, and leaping over, the rock she was pressed up against. She watched in disbelief as a large hulking figure came into view. Highlighted by the sparse moonlight, it must have stood 7 feet tall and had great long arms that ended in vicious looking claws. It was covered in brown fur and as it spun, a large third eye could be seen set into its forehead.
She remembered stories Skinner used to spin about trolls, but until now, she assumed that he was greatly exaggerating. He was not. She watched as the wolves tried to close in on the beast, but with a single swipe of those long arms, one by one, they were thrown aside. Ienarath quickly came to her senses, and with both troll and wolf occupied with one another, she ran. And with a new burst of adrenaline to aid her, she scampered up and over the hill and continued on until daybreak.
She was exhausted and her legs felt like lead, but Ienarath did her best to press on. The ground began to show traces of snow as the forest thinned out some. She was becoming short of breath as the air thinned, although that was as likely due to extreme fatigue as anything. As she stopped to catch her breath at the top of a hill, she looked down and saw an old ruined keep. She knew instantly that she had made it.
Ienarath looked down at the old keep and tears of relief began to well up in her eyes. She mustered up the last bit of strength she had and began the descent toward the keep. Reaching the bottom of the hill she saw a robed figure in the distance, and then another. Utterly exhausted and unable to fight any more, she took one step onto the grassy knoll before her legs gave out and she collapsed.