The Fall of the East Road
4th of Raedmont, The Year of Our King Seven Hundred and One

The Story

They say the East Road was once a lovely place to travel, a panoramic lane uniting Shadowdwell, Hearthdwell, and the Myrrhan Road. From the far east trundled Daerogrin caravans, overladen with fine, Dwarven goods. From the north, troubadours brought their songs, their wines, and their fine elven delicacies. And from Granitespire, Kingsdwell, Hearthsdwell and even Seadwell, human merchants tread the East Road, bartering goods from places as far as Godsport, Three Rivers, and Anrak.
But this is only what they say, for it was all before the Shivering. Now, twenty years since the world was shaken to its very foundations, the East Road is dead. Or it may as well be, running as it does through the sorry realm of Shadowdwell. Like the East Road traversing the providences’ eastern reaches, Shadowdwell was aptly named. Set in the shadow of the mountain range known as King’s Crown, it lies obscured from the great city of GraniteSpire, her people, and the King. And in these lands, as befalls the sky in late afternoon, light has been lost.
Under the tyranical rule of Lady Chanta Adellan, Shadowdwell has withered and decayed. Much damage was wrought upon Castle Adellan and the surrounding lands in the Shivering, and though the capital city was rebuilt fat on wealth and girded in power, it came at the expense of the rest of the state. By Lady Adellan’s orders, the grasp of lords tightened on their fiefdoms and the serfs were squeezed of all their worth. In shackles forged of heavy taxes and sealed in the lock of ruthless laws, the serfs were completely enslaved.
If any hope remained in the dwell, it was squelched with the Rightful Heirs Edict in the Year of Our King Six-hundred and Ninety One. By this law, all non-humans were driven from Shadowdwell. Those who refused to flee were slain. By Six-hundred and Ninety Two, the borders were closed to all not of full human blood. With this new law, trade ground to a halt. Shadowdwell became insulated. Now only the most stalwart or desperate merchants brave the pass at Dol Dressel, Dead Man’s, or the Myhrran road to sell their wares.
Of course the “Shadow Lady”, as Adellan has been called, has no means or desire to enforce such strict boundaries. As such, these duties have fallen to the last “free” men. Bandits. Bands of these outlaws rule the northern, southern, and eastern borders of the state. The “taxes” they impose on any who seek travel keep outsiders out and residents in. It is said that not even King Cruniac himself could travel these roads without being stopped by highwaymen. Only Lady Adellan herself is safe from their lust.

The Players

As serfs of Lady Adellan, your lives are forfeit. While laughter rings and corpulence weighs the towers and manors of the lords, none of it trickles down the servant class. If there is hope in your begrimed, emaciated existence, it is not in service or elevation, but in escape.
You have heard the rumors of course. The promise of other lands. Granitespire. The great king-city on the mountain. But its mighty light shines far too the west, and beyond the dark sprawl of Castle Adellen. Then there is Seadwell, to the south. Though rumors have it the people there fight a grim and long war, the weight of conflict sounds light against the yoke of slavery. Closer still, to the north, is the Druaan forest. Perhaps it is a cursed place, as they say, an evil place inhabited by barbaric, flesh-eating elves. But you’ve also been told it was dealings with these elves, and dwarves, satyrs, and bastard half-breeds that led to Shadowdwell’s downfall. If that is true, why since the Edict, has fortune not come to these lands? Perhaps some solace could be found amongst those deadly trees.
But closest of all, and most hopeful, is the free state of Hearthdwell. To the east Karathians live lives free of oppression. And though they may be cursed for dealing freely with other races, you suspect such a curse is lighter than that of your masters bond. It is escape to this place, to Hearthdwell, that your heart lives for. But a heart’s endless desire is not enough. This is Tarelhi. And everything has a price.
You have saved goods and coin, perhaps even scalped and stolen, secreting your meager gain away in plan of this. But simply bribing your way onto a traveling caravan is not enough. You know you must also pay the bandits, purchase passage at each boundary they lay. And beyond this, on the East Road, anything could go wrong. Travel, perilous in its own right, is nothing compared to discover. A serf who abandons his lord’s lands will know one thing: execution. For most, even the thought of risking such a journey is too much to bear. But you are not like most. Where some bought drink to wash away their woes, you did not, rather sipping from the trough of swinie. Where others have spent their meager shares on baked goods, butter, and cheese, you have eaten worms, roots, and castoffs. And where some found love and family brighten their life, you have abstained. Years you have saved. Years you have hoarded. Years you have waited. Now, you have all that it will take.

The Plan

You thought to make your escape to Hearthdwell on the East Road at the breaking of summer. That was the plan. However, things rarely go to plan.
A week ago, word reached your village that the bandit king of the East Road had fallen ill. The last time a vacuum in power occurred amongst the “free” men, a year of anarchy followed. Each warrior laid claim to the throne, with their men loyal only to themselves. The roads were passable by none, save the Shadow Lady’s Guard. Villages were sacked. Hundreds were slain.
The caravan master decided a wait for winter’s weather to subside could not be risked. He would leave now, without delay, praying that the bandit king survived long enough for the journey to the border. You, like him, could wait no longer. The thought of another year of risking the revelation of your horde, facing starvation and disease, and worst of all another year of life in this cursed place spurned you onward.
So, under the cover of night, you slipped from your village and the bond of your lord to join up with the caravan. That was the last day of Dilaemont. Since that dawn, twice daily have been your encounters with bandit riders on the East Road. Each time, the caravan has rolled to a stop, tense and hearts-pounding until revealed were the banners of the bandit king. Then, with a breath of relief, tribute was paid, and the caravan rolled on. As of yet, the bandit king still lives. As of yet, there is still hope.

The Place

The caravan has made camp on the Eastern Road, at the foot of Dead Man’s Pass. You are but a day’s ride through the pass from the border, from freedom. And while your every desire is to ride on, you cannot. Horses and humans are spent from days of forced marching. Blistered, bruised, aching, famished and fatigued, you must rest.
The East Road follows a large river as it travels through the foothills, and it continues this habit on its way into Dead Man’s Pass. The curve of the river into the pass has left you on a small clearing aside the road, overlooking a rocky descent into the snow-bordered waterway and the thick forested hills on the other side. To the northwest is the path you’ve traveled. To the west, southwest, and south lies untamed wilderness. Overhead, thick clouds, and a cold wind. To the east lie mountains, the pass, and freedom.
The wagons are circled, the bonfire burns high, and in the vehicles or within small tents, you rest. In spite of the worry in your hearts, you succumb to sleep quickly under the weight of exhaustion’s heavy hand.

The Village of Black Oak
9th of Raedmont, The Year of Our King Seven Hundred and One

Nestled in a craggy low-mountain gorge lies Black Oak village. Black wood partisans make up the city wall, sharpened to points at their apex of twelve feet. A small path leads southeast from the city, between the rocky southern arm of the mountain’s embrace and a farm. Another path leads more directly from the city gates towards another farm sprawling out from off the opposite side of the road.
The village ascends from behind the black partisans up the mountain gorge, with thatch-roof homes visible here and there. The craggy, enveloped layout of the place allows for some homes to sit on the slopes of the mountain’s arms, rising above their neighbors below. Most are small and built as though by serfs, though a few rooftops are broad and shingled in slate.
It is a small village, home to no more than a hundred or so, looking sullen and cold in the spring drizzle, thin wisps of smoke coming from residences here and there to combat the drizzling rain and chilly, overcast skies.

Cut-Nose Adventure 2 Recap

(scrawled on the on several strip of tree bark – written in charcoal)

Should anyone find this journal, I am probably dead; but know this, I died a free man. My name is Cut-Nose. I had another name once, before the Shivvering. I lost it with my freedom and my family. I have no idea my true age as I was only a child when the Shivvering occurred. For the last 20 years I have worked in the kennels of the Queen. It is not a job that inspires comradery even if I had the face for it. Serfs we are called by the queen, but we are slaves in all but name. When one of us goes missing, it’s my dogs what get sent after them. The Queensguard sometimes ‘free’ a serf, just so they can enjoy a good hunt.

I left a few days ago, fleeing east to freedom. I’ve saved every clipped copper for years just for this chance. I joined up with a caravan heading for the pass. My dogs will find it difficult to follow me with so many other scents. It was a bad time to leave, the Freemen’s alpha is sick. Yesterday I suspect he finally died. We were nearly to the pass, all our fees paid to the bandits, when they attacked the cravan. I woke before the attack, I could somehow sense the nervousness of the oxen and horses. When the arrows came I set the beasts free and slipped away in the confusion. I fled down the ravine and across the frigid river. There I encounted several others, two men and two women. One of the men well into his 50’s one one of the women pregnant. My new pack, at least for now.

We set up camp between two hills, far enough down that a fire might go unnoticed by the Freemen. They were taunting us as we fled the river. I started working on a fire when a man calling himself pigeon asked if he could help. I laughed and told him, unless you can make fire out of nothing then no.” One moment later the fire was burning. Was it pigeon, or my own efforts that started the fire?

I know my way around a campsite from all my time hunting with the Queen’s guard. I was starting on a lean-to when another man rushed into our campsite, a wolf on his heels. several more circled in around us. I waved my torch, wishing I could fling the far at the wolves. Then I felt something, some energy flowing through me, and to my great surprise the fire lept off my torch and skittered along the ground. Then my torch went out. two of them were kept at bay by the fire but a third rushed me. His teeth opened a nasty wound on my leg before I could pull away.

Pidgeon was busy tossing burning brands to the other refugees. His toss to me managed to clock me right in the head. I took a swing an the wolf with my burnt out brand then scooped up the burning torch. I tried to find that energy again, but this time I was more prepared. The fire leapt off my torch and ignited the wolf’s fur. A moment later he was headed away, and the other wolves with him.

Several of us were wounded. Myself, the woman Jade, and the old man. I complained aloud, “If only we had a pot to heat some water, and something to bind theses wounds, we might survive the night.” The newcomer says, “I have that,” and headed back into the dark with pigeon. He returned a minute later with a pot, a sack, and ever a few potatoes. Next time I should wish for a fur coat and a horse. I did what I could to take care to the wounds. People are so diffrent from dogs when dealing with wolf bites.

While the others were huddling around the fire, I stepped away to think about this new power I seem to have found. I focused it on my injured leg. There was a scent of pine and cut grass and the wound stitched itself up. Now it looks weeks old.

There is a town nearby. We are going to need food and warm clothes if we home to make it through the mountains. Some medicine to, it we can find some. I mislike the looks of the old man’s injuries.

Pigeon's Adventure One Recap

Stepping— stumbling— falling— drowning! Amidst the dark roar of the
frigid maelstrom, the memories of a life half-lived sparked into my
panicked mind’s eye.

“Pigeon,” the eternally perturbed voice called in obvious annoyance.
Still shaking rain from the officially embroidered cloak I was never
allowed to take home to my hovel, I could practically hear my lord’s
jowls jiggling over his lilted summons (even three rooms and a gloomy
gray audience chamber away). So much for a few minutes by the fire.
“Where is that overgrown bird?”

“Present, my lord,” I said in the even, practiced, subservient tones
they all preferred.

“Well, you shan’t be much longer. Take this order to my usual
apothecary straight-away.” He hissed impatiently when I did not reach
for the sealed scroll swiftly enough. “And stop dripping on my
imported rug.”

Having studied more than one map in my duties, I knew that Godsport
wasn’t much of an import. Of course most everyone of importance in the
’Dwell considered anything from outside their borders to be lavishly
exotic. But maybe it was. The hell did I know about it? The one thing
I did know is that I always sided with the monstrous tentacled beast
depicted on the rug. It seemed to be grinning as it assaulted the
“noble human defenders of commerce.” Hopefully he was grateful for the
few drops of water I splashed his way.

Splashing— suffocating— panicking— dying!

The apothecary my lord preferred was a long run from the city proper,
conducting his business from his small estate in the woods. I didn’t
mind the lashing rain, as it provided me with wide puddles to stomp,
one of the few entertainments for a courier. In truth, I would have
gladly sprinted twice as far to get to that particular destination.

“Were you sent by the gods to ruin my nap?” The old apothecary greeted
me in his customary ornery fashion. He ignored my smile as he always
did. He never seemed to appreciate my appreciation of his curmudgeonly
demeanor. And that suited us both just fine.

“I don’t have any of this elixir mixed up so you’ll have to wait while
I prepare a proper batch.” For one who received such regular orders,
he never seemed to have what he needed on-hand. “But while you’re
here, you might as well make yourself useful. There’s a rancid stew in
the pot I’d have you throw out.” He grumbled something else,
half-waved a hand in my direction and shuffled off toward his

Like all his culinary creations, the stew was absolutely delicious. I
was completely warm and finishing my second helping when he returned,
lugging a stack of books. “By all means, do not rise to help an old
man with his burdens.” He slammed the tomes down on the table beside
me. “These are private. Not that a peasant like you has learned his
letters anyhow.” I grinned as one of the leather-bound volumes tumbled
off the stack and happened to fall open to the page I was reading on
my last visit. Was that a smirk I caught on his face? He muttered
something about his death of natural causes before the potency of the
ordered tincture and disappeared again.

I could not tell you how long I savored each word on those pages
before I had to leave, but it was dark before I found myself again
upon the road.

Darkness— blindness— madness— the chaos swallowed me into its icy
maw as my lungs threatened to burst!

“You again? Are you the one they sent last time?” The apothecary
mumbled his customary curses as he led me back to transcribe a letter
for him. “These old eyes are not so sharp as they once were.”

“Then how come you can still correct my spelling?” I asked, dipping
again at the ink pot, feigning indignant.

“Perhaps it’s because you scrawl in that gargantuan ogre font,” he
chided. “Must you expose the white lie of a proud aging herbalist
meant to conceal the severity of the arthritis that has all but
crippled his once graceful fingers?”

Where was that coin he was absently dancing along his knuckles all
morning? As free as he was with his knowledge (and porridge), he never
once extended me a monetary charity, nor did I look for it. I always
suspected there was a lesson to be found even in that. Not that any of
them would matter, seeing as I was fucking dying.

Defeat— despair— death! Then— a hand! Sure fingers closed about my
wrist and mine found theirs in turn. Pulling with what little strength
remained me, I emerged from the midnight tempest to gorge my lungs on
breath! She had saved me. It all surged back with consciousness. The
bandit attack, the burning wagon, the river, the woman who crossed
with me. The lady who now peered back at me with concern as we
stumbled and gained the far bank. Even in the moonless night, I could
see them shining back at me with crystalline clarity.

I owed my life to the lady with the green green eyes.

Harlum's Adventure One Recap
A Letter of Disapproval

Shamus the Fletcher,

I write this letter not in anger, but as a plead on behalf of all bandits and highwaymen in Eastern Shadowdwell. It is well known that you are now the only fletcher whose services we may call upon due to union obligations, and this has made my job very difficult of late.

Last evening, I led what I consider a failed raid on a caravan of serfs and merchants traveling through the mountains. Mind you that I have successfully conducted such raids dozens of times before and maintained an impeccable record of leaving no survivors.

The night started as any other would, surrounding the camp and (as my man Grummley loves to do) tipping a wagon into the fire. At this point the beasts of burden typically flee in terror (they did). My men and I then proceeded to put arrows into the marks as they ran about groggy and screaming, or would have if they’d flown true. I estimate almost a third of this group was able to flee into the darkness because the arrows that YOU fletched zig and zag like a fox in the snow. A small detail of my best men followed a group of these survivors, loosing arrows by the quiver, though none found purchase. Fortunately, crossing a freezing river sent one to an icy grave, because my men rained your curled, half feathered arrows around them (from a distance that my best bowman, Igor, estimates to be not more than 30 cubits) hitting flesh not once. The targets seemed to gather and mourn their fallen completely unaware they were even being attacked before slipping into the woods with their lives.

Clearly I cannot operate my business with such supplies, and since I cannot take my business elsewhere, what choice am I left? I only hope that you quickly learn to fletch a proper arrow, Shamus, as I’d hate to have to make the journey to the Western slopes just for you.

Harlum the Bloody

Pigeon's Adventure Two Campfire Conversation with Cut-Nose

I nursed the fire for a couple hours while the storm howled around
(and sometimes through) our camp, visually scanning for outside
threat. My mind swirled like the snow gathering in drifts around us,
electrified by this new power I seemed to be able to harness only in
times of duress. Not wanted to disturb the tenuous slumber of my
ragged companions, I stepped carefully through their ranks toward
Cut-Nose. His eyes opened well before I neared him, his gaze fixed on
me. Appraising me for… what? Threat? Surely I had proven my loyalty.
Or maybe he was just getting his bearings. Either way, I wasn’t going
to fall asleep anytime soon so I took up position beside him as his
watch began.

But how should I begin? The very concept of small-talk seemed like
something you’d read in a tome of ancient history. Might as well just
skip the foreplay.

“That fire trick of yours, you’re getting better. Saw the flames stay
on the brand afterward. Where’d you learn how to do that?”

Despite my exhaustion I was feeling invigorated, and somehow more connected to the world around me. I could sense Pigeon fluttering my way. He had a question in his eyes, and I wasn’t sure I had the answer. I got up and added some wood to the fire then sat down for my watch. The pigeon roosted next to me and asked his question. I did my best to answer:

Mostly, I just ask it. The queen likes to keep us unsightly slaves… out of sight. I was just a boy when I started in the stables, and old left-foot-lem sorf of looked after me. He told me, “we all of us have fire in us Nosey. earth and water and air too but its fire what moves us. You, boy, have too much fire in you, if your not careful the queen spill it all out at the stake. One day mahaps you can talk to the fire, but first you has to listen. the sky, the rivers, the trees, even the rocks all have things to say if you know what to listen for.”
Sometime when I was running the hounds I got a bit of what he was saying. Here and now, well its learn or die, and I don’t mean to die. So when I asked the fire to drive off the wolves it answered, else I’d be warming a wolf’s belly rather than my hands by the fire.

I laughed quietly, politely, at his wordplay. Old habits of Pigeon,
the boot-licking servant, I guess. He was trying to make light of the
situation (and most of me admired him for that), but as he mentioned,
he and I could potentially be burned alive for our talents. I prayed
his manipulation of flame would extend to that dread day as well.

“We make it to town with this bunch, we might come to prefer our time
here among the wolves. Whether you summon the power from within or
focus it from without as I do, all it takes is one of our grateful
companions seeking to heavy his purse… and we’ll be warming more
than our hands. Don’t get me wrong, I would never harm them, but how
do we know they’ll extend us the same courtesy?”

“Somebody cries WITCH and they are like to burn us all just be sure. None of us would be here if we was all full of love and trust for the Queen’s men. Most likely we all have secrets. For now we need shelter, and supplies if we hope to find our way out of this ’dwell without a caravan. No sense worrying about maybe being burned when the cold will kill is for sure, or the wolves, or a bear, or them gnoll creatures, or … well we have to live to see the village first.

“You’re right, my friend. No sense worrying for what might not come when I’ll need all my wits about me. Did you say you worked the kennels? Must have been some enlightened pups you raised if they had your wisdom within a paw’s reach.”

My mind at as much ease as it was likely to find, fatigue suddenly shuddered through my frame. I stood, clapping Cut-Nose on the shoulder before heading to my spot beside the fire. The rasping cough coming from the huddled form of Tain drew my attention.

“Let me know if I can help you find some sort of remedy for that one. I do not envy his cough.”

Tain's Adventure Two Interlude
Tain's Last Night

Ian Key shuffls past the campfire and sits down beside the wheezing young man. In the crook of the root-arms of a mighty conifer, the two Karathians put tongue and teeth to flame-roasted boar meat. A spasm of coughing interrupts the quiet, and Ian glances over at his companion.

“You know, we may all die out here,” the old man says somberly. “But I’ll tell you this. Not in twenty years have I enjoyed such delectable fare of which I could eat my fill.”

The old man looks back to the fire, patiently waiting for the fit of coughing to pass.

“If Death does come,” Ian continues, “I’ll welcome him, for I’ve a full belly, fine companions, and freedom.” Ian turned his gray eyes back from the fire. “What say you, friend?”

“Aye: true. It’s better food and finer company than I’ve had ‘til now. But if I die tonight, or the next or any night before I taste bread that’s mine or work a job I choose, then the fates can spit. I think I’m right assuming we’ve all sacrificed getting out of the Dwell, and it wasn’t so we could die freezing in the wolf-ridden woods. There ain’t no going-” coughing cripples the man. It’s like knives of ice are caught in his throat. He goes until his lungs are completely empty- til he’s got nothing left. Cautiously, He pulls in another breath. “We can’t die here. The Gods don’t want it. I’ve spent my life hiding in the shadows and doing my best to become one myself. I’ve looked to the ground and cowered any time my will’s been questioned. Today we killed a boar, and last night we fought off a pack of wolves. I know now of the man I can be, and won’t lie down without the chance to be him.”

He looks to the others who seem to be asleep, and adds in a low voice, made raspy from this damned cough, “I don’t know what you’ve seen, but today I watched lightning leap from the hands of a man, and fire from the torch of another: these aren’t things men do without the help of the Gods. We’re getting out of these fucking woods and dying in beds we call our own with the ones we love.”

Pigeon's Adventure Three Recap

I flew through the air twice today. Almost thrice.

The first time I found myself clearing a 25-foot span of surging
liquid death that some people call “river water.” The fact that I had
to run on a icy fallen log during my approach and focus arcane energy
into a magical propellant drew some curious (and disapproving in one
case) glances from my companions. But maybe they were just jealous I
didn’t get my feet wet. All that mattered to me was I didn’t drown.
Any day without drowning, completely or partially, is a good one in my
book. Not that I have a book or really much of anything to my name in
this life.

Again, my control of this power was augmented by my fear of impending
death. It is my hope to someday practice a more casual brand of

From there, Lady Jade helped Amara cross (though it may have been the
other way around) and that marked our entire party putting the river
between us and the wolves that dogged our steps since the bandit
attack. As further reassurance of our good luck, the more
superstitious members of our party recognized a stark white doe as a
blessing of good luck. Tain may have agreed with them in that he saw
such an adorable food source as a stroke of fortune. The man’s
stealthy approach was impressive, as was his killing strike on the
animal. Unfortunately for him, Lady Jade objected to his murderous
nourishment-providing intentions and attempted to foil the attack by
wrestling him to the ground. If I’m being honest, being wrestled to
the ground by Lady Jade is not an entirely undesirable prospect, but
I’d likely not trade it for a frantic hoofing to the heart. Tain’s
already failing health did him no favors in shrugging off the doe’s
death throes, and I feared we were going to lose him right there.

But under the skillful administrations of Cut-Nose, Tain survived and
we dragged the bloody doe carcass back to a makeshift camp. That doe
meat tasted more heavenly than any meal previous, helped in no small
part by the suspicion that it (like every other meal I’d had recently)
was likely to be my last. Speaking of which…

The second time I flew through the air today was immediately after
being batted by the enraged paw of a monstrous grizzly bear. The
sword-sharp claws attached to the end of said paw came but a hair’s
breadth on either side of slicing my right nipple clean off. I somehow
found the time to admire the slashes as the extended neatly from my
chest and onto my arm before slamming into a tree trunk that I would
not have previously considered nearby.

Yes, we were fighting a bear. This may have been my fault. Like our
more righteous companions (cough Ian Key) I had hoped the bear would
be frightened (or at the very least, disappointed) by my arcane
summoning of lightning. Best case scenario, it would have loped off
into the woods (perhaps along with Ian, where they could have
conspired to burn me at the stake, devising overly complex schemes to
expose my sorcery in the public eye, the complicated nature of which
was really just an expression of their own cowardice by delaying any
real action). I was not lucky enough to receive a “best case”

The bear charged and the wisest members of the party ran away.
(Mis)guided by the noble sacrifice of Barnus, I chose to stay as long
as my companions stayed, even going so far as to put my hands on the
bear and shock it directly. This is the attack that earned me the
beast’s previously mentioned maiming, rendering my flesh forever
asymmetrical. There, I should have run. But I did not. Tain emerged
behind the auburn-furred behemoth, changing the octave of its roar
with a boar tusk jab to the genitals. Hope sprang up in me that it
might finally flee so we could do the same, but those hopes were
crushed along with Tain’s mortal frame as he was mauled before my
eyes. There again, I should have run. But somehow Cut-Nose was still
engaged with the animal! What was he doing? Covering our escape? I
couldn’t leave him without doing something. But what?

It was in that moment that I felt a familiarly sure grip about my
torso. The Lady Jade was dragging me away! Death again jolted up my
spine, but this time not my own. It arced vertically into my brain and
an idea formed. I screamed something at Lady Jade (perhaps too
harshly) but I needed to be free if I was going to give Cutty his
chance. Thankfully, she let me go (though I worried for the last time)
and I was able to expend the last of whatever energies I possessed to
conjure a bright flash of light. Cut-Nose seized the opportunity after
taking a savage strike from the grizzly and dove through the fire. He
was away! The beast roared a roar so terrifying that the mountainside
itself shuddered in fear.

Unfortunately, when snow-covered mountains tremble, avalanches are
born. While we fled this natural disaster, ice and boulders hurtling
toward our line of escape, I felt an unceremonious shove from behind.
I tumbled forward, knowing that it could only have come from Lady
Jade. I understood why should would be upset. My loyalty to my friends
had almost got me killed and she seemed to make it her business not to
let me die. Come to think of it, she wouldn’t let me be the last to
cross the river either. At the time, my mind was too focused on
actualizing a spell I had only read and certainly never seen. Or maybe
she blamed me for provoking the bear. Tain might have been more at
fault, for killing the lucky doe and dragging it back to camp with its
trail of fresh blood, but it’s even worse luck to speak ill of the
dead and I was the only one left alive to scold. Tumbling to the fresh
powder, I spun around, readying a number of defenses for my course of

She was not where I expected. She was picking herself up off the
ground, blood matting her hair to the side of her face. I needed but
an instant to figure what happened. She pushed me out of the way and
took the hit herself.

Once again, I owed my life to the lady with the green green eyes. Damn it.

Fang's Adventure Four Recap

I, Fang

The moon smiled on our hunt. Our prey had eluded our jaws (mostly) for
two dark-cycles, but this time would be different. This time we would
fatten our bellies on their tender flesh. Without the white freezefall
to crunch under paw, we prowled unnoticed into position. The burning
one seemed to catch our scent at the last moment, but it would not
matter. Nothing could stop it now.

Snarl and I fell upon their other scout as our packmates leapt from
the darkness into their heart. The screaming gave me courage as we
faced this foe. The scout drew forth an enormous shining tooth as I
tore at his flesh. He opened an impossible bite in my hide, my
instincts driving me backward as I left Snarl to finish the kill.

Surely the others would be having better luck in their hunt, preying
on the slumbering and defenseless. My own blood wetting my fur, I
swiftly found Lucky as he dragged away a particularly tender kill, one
that might be swollen with a flesh litter. I moved to assist when out
of nowhere their alpha female pounced downward, falling on Lucky like
a mighty stone, shattering his spine, splaying his legs outward like
that elk we chased over Bendy Point last flowerbloom. But wait, where
was the other female? The burning one seemed to replace her or maybe
he had before the alpha showed up? Perhaps the bite I took from the
scout was worse than I thought and I had drained too much blood onto
my paws.

I trotted over to Noblamo, where I heard him dragging off their gray
male. Noblamo always did have a weakness for the weak ones. Finally,
an attack seemed to be going well. Plus Snarl must have finished off
the scout I bloodied by now. I found Noblamo in a patch of moonlight
dragging away the gray male when I saw a glimmering tooth streak out
of the darkness and catch in his side. To witness the jolt and whimper
of even a lesser packmate like Noblamo filled me with the rage of an
alpha! I huffed at the dirt for scent of this toothspitter when I saw
something that will haunt my every pawfall should I live to bay at a
million moons.

One of the prey (a title I have since come to reconsider) flew like a
featherbeak and landed on Noblamo, then it summoned skyfire through
its paws, burning Noblamo to death from the inside. I was no stranger
to death, but when the flashes lit up the curl of the flying one’s
snout and I saw the skyfire in its eyes, I felt something I had never
felt before.


I would have told my packmates I was merely marking our territory as I
made my escape. But that would have been a lie. And what was worse, I
had no more packmates. I, Fang, pissing myself in fear as I ran from
what should have been my prey, was now a lone wolf.

Tain's Adventure Three Recap
The Death of Tain

The surprising part is the sound- two sounds actually: the concussion of the paw and the pop of my head hitting the soil. The left half of my face and neck are tingling and pulsing with my racing heart. I’m frozen, and can only see slow glimpses of the brown fur between me and the fire.

I awaken to the sound of my door’s opening- but was it from the dream or the real? I freeze, unbreathing, waiting. The creak of a floorboard. I quickly roll over in groggy terror to find the silhouette of my father.

“Tain. My only son,” he’s whispering through sobs. I sit up, consumed by worry: what could be wrong? “I’m so sorry, Tain.” I try to pull the rest of myself from the dream world and make sense of his words. “It’s not safe for me here anymore, Tain, and the mountains are no place for a boy of your years.” He’s squeezing me so hard. He must know he’s hurting me. “Dedrick has promised to look after you, to teach you a trade. You’re better off, Tain. You’re-” a distant door creaks open in the night. He turns his head and notes a lantern coming toward the servant house. “Stay until light spills over the eastern peaks, but not after the stars in the West sky melt to morning. Take a milk pail and walk toward the North pasture. Dedrick will meet you.” he looks again to the approaching light. “I’m so sorry, Tain.”

I’ve been dead since then. For the last 16 years I’ve been walking closer to this moment.

A bright light illuminates the outline of my killer. How could I have gotten so cold so quickly? My eyes are dry and stinging, but I can’t bring myself to blink. The sounds of my new friends’ dying seem to be coming from a distant cave- the sounds echoing in such a strange way. A quiet roar fills my mind: is it possible to see a sound? The world is dark now, and I can hear only a faded dull rumble, smell only blood and fur and smothered fire, taste the metal of my own blood. An eternity passes before I feel myself rocking back and forth: I presume I am the first of us to be eaten.


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