A Ranger's Tales
I guess that everyone has a story or two worth telling. Some are filled by humor, others by struggles of some sort to be overcome, and then there are other stories of despair and death, sorrow and regret. All of which I have endured, all of which I have tales of… but… for now there is only time for one story. This is one of my many, many stories. Soon more will follow.
In Which I Nearly Get a Rogue Killed
Some would start from the beginning. With an origin, a monologue about how they became who they are. While I too have an origin, that is not part of this story. Then who am I? Simple, I am Lrbearclaw Twiceborn, a human ranger who hails from Surefall Glade. Happy? Now you know. Can I move on with my story now? Please? Thank you. As I was saying…
At the time I was traveling with my then-companion, a barbarian rogue named Bekin. She was a little more than a head taller than me, a man just slightly more than average in height. She had hair like the bark of the darkest of oaks and a fair complexion with eyes to match her hair. Like all single Halasian maidens, she had no woad… err, facial markings announcing or man she was wed to and the family she was now a part of.
It was a good thing she was unwed, given the fact she and I were more than simply traveling companions at the time. How much more? Aren't you nosey? Fine, had things not gone belly-up I may have ended up (probably ended up) a married man. But… well she WAS a rogue and I am too used to NOT breathing out my back, thank you very much.
Where was I again? Oh yeah…
Bekin and I had just spent some time lurking in the depths of Blackburrow hunting gnolls, a pastime that never ceases being pleasurable to me. We butchered several of those furry little jerks and fattened our bags as well as our wallets with supplies and coin that the lupine-men no longer had use for. While we were on our way out, a patrol of guards came along the corridor we were in. Normally not an issue for me but Bekin was fresh out of the Thieves' Guild… err, ROGUES' Guild, forgive me, and certainly not ready to fight that many of best warriors that the Darkpaw Gnolls had produced.
Were it just me, well I would have turned them into confetti, but it wasn't just me. I would have to fight harder AND make sure none touched my ally. You see, I have been killing those annoying pests for a couple years now and had a bit more experience. So, I proposed a tactical advancement to the rear and get the heck out of there. She agreed. Good thing, I didn't think I could sneak us out of there if I had to knock her out and carry her. Besides, generally, clubbing your lady in the back of the head does not help a relationship.
Unless you were looking for a way out of said relationship.
Or your body, as the case would have been here.
Now, I am good at sneaking and getting about unseen, magic does wonders for being hidden… when you can render yourself basically invisible. Doing the same without magic, however, is an art. One I wish I could master, until then, magic it is. Bekin made up for her lack of camouflaging magic by use the rogue's skills of hiding and moving as silently as a shadow. Now do you see why clubbing her would have been unwise? I rather prefer NOT having knives sticking out of my back.
We both crept up the tunnel and blended into the darkness until our hosts passed us by without noticing us. I had tried to figure out why they didn't smell us there but they didn't. Their mistake. Or so I thought. I don't know which of us drew their attention but one howled in anger and charged us. At that point, I did the only sensible thing to do at that moment. I told her to run, and did so myself.
This proved a slight mistake because I forgot that while she could blend into the shadows like a wraith, I could run like a high elf in the dark-elf infested Nektulos… or a dwarf in a barbershop for that matter. I soon reached one of the ledges that had a bridge that led directly to the pair of exits of the burrow. One to the frozen mountains that housed Halas, Bekin's home village, and the other that led to Qeynos Hills and eventually where I hail from. Problem is, I got to the ledge alone.
It did not take long to see the wave of gnolls chasing Bekin along the tunnels. She was bleeding from wounds of various severities, such as one in her thigh that slowed her run slightly, but it was enough for the ticked off hyena-men to get closer. As I nocked an arrow, one sailed mere inches from my head and hit the wall behind me. Crap, crap, crap. Archers. I had thought.
Now, I am a decent archer myself, comes with the territory. But while targets were plentiful, I could miss and hit my ally. Not good, but I had better odds of thinning out the ranks of Blackburrow, and given my deep seeded hate for the beasts, I could not resist throwing arrows into their wake. With every shot I made, a gnoll was removed from the pending fight. Yeah yeah, "Showoff." I get it.
Bekin soon pulled herself up onto the ledge with a little help from yours truly (hey I am a gentleman!) and this time I had her lead the rush to the top where two guards lied in wait. To me, they had looked like a pup in-training and his mentor to me… but they didn't last long enough to find out. Bekin flipped a pair of throwing knives as we rounded the bend and dropped them both after the blades buried into their throats.
Now, we could have barred the door and only dealt with the gnolls at the top and that would be sensible. I'm not the sensible sort. Well, not normally. I had her ready for the upper beastmen as I stood with my back facing her and drew my swords. Earthcaller and Swiftwind were the names of my swords, mythril longswords whose hilt looked like an eagle in flight, the body of the birds housed a gem, Earthcaller's was an emerald and Swiftwind a sapphire. Add in that the moment the swords were free of their scabbards, the blades were encased in a crackling magic that resembled lightning. Fitting for a ranger who worshipped the Stormfather, Karana.
The fight is still a blur. I do remember parrying all their attempts to hack me into ribbons for a couple dozen seconds while taking whacks at them myself before starting to tire a bit. My swords rent flesh, fur flew literally, and the ground was painted with blood and accented with gore. Combat is never pretty, but death is far less attractive to me… at least my own and that of the ones I care for.
Eventually, one of the severely guardsmen turned and bolted while I was dealing with his friends. Normally, I would use a spell to snare him in place via vines about his ankles but my mana was tapped out until I could rest. Not a good place to be, believe me. Instead of telling her my plan, I sheathed my blades and grasped her upper arm before bolting hard to the left.
While there was less gnolls in theEverfrostMountains, the Hills didn't have goblins and far less undead. Not to mention the safety of the Sayer family's hut was only a couple miles away and with the nearby guards (corrupt but meh they still kill anything foul that comes in range of the house) it was the best bet. And I wasn't giving her choice in the matter.
Now we did get to the hut in short (enough) order and then made our way to turn in gnoll canines to Captain Tillin in Qeynos for the bounty on the gnolls… but more importantly we got out alive and got more experience for it. All in all, not a bad excursion into Blackburrow. We lived, gnolls died. I'd drink to that, and well… I did.
What's the moral of the story? It pays to be crazy, not stupid.