In Glitterdark Forest

By Kai Blin aka. nowhere

"Hope this is worth it!" Breaking through the underbrush, Drombosh tried to keep pace with the taller members of the party. His short stubby legs had trouble with running over the roots that the looming trees were sticking out. "I'm not made for running." he complained. The grip of his short battle axe was slapping against his leg. Sweat was running down his face, kept out of the eyes by his brushy red brows. "I shoulda stayed home." He turned his head to look for the orcs that had to be somewhere behind them. He saw something moving in the woods, still some meters away, but the orcs were gaining steadily. "And all for that stupid.." "Oh, shut up!" Midir shouted. He didn't have as much trouble with running as the dwarf, but he wasn't used to do it. "You'd be much faster if you wouldn't waste that much breath on complaining." Midir grabbed for his pointy hat that was hit by a branch. He was breathing with a rasping sound for quite a while now, Arcadia noticed. She looked for Rilandel, but the elven woman was far ahead. Arcadia threw another look at the mage and the dwarf and came to a decision. "I'm tired of running away." Reaching for her sabers, Firestorm and Thunderbolt, she skidded to a stop.

"For the queen, for Aruna! Come and fight, you scum!" Her two blades raised, sun reflecting from her breastplate armor, she was waiting for her enemies. Drombosh and Midir stopped, too. Grabbing his axe, the dwarf let out a battle cry. Midir was just gaping at Arcadia. With her hair blowing around her helmet and the sparkling green eyes, she looked just like the war goddess she worshiped. The orcs were also caught by this sight. They stood and stared at Arcadia. Their mean tiny eyes widened and their fanged mouthes stood open, with their warty faces wearing looks of surprise. But then their little brains came back to the feeling they had before. Blood-lust was burning in their eyes. Rising its maul, the first orc charged. A saber slashed, light reflecting from the blade. A sloshing sound, the air was misted by tiny red pearls. Firestorm had bitten the orc's throat. But it took more to kill it. Making angry bubbling sounds, it made a mighty downward strike with its maul. But Arcadia had already danced aside, turning on one foot. Thunderbolt echoed his brother. Collapsing in the middle, the orc seemed to follow its maul to the ground. Now the dwarf reminded the orcs of his axe. It displayed a quick upwards arc that connected with the torso of another orc. Pulling the axe out, the dwarf went on. Firestorm and Thunderbolt whirled like a blizzard of blades, killing one orc, another. But the orcs outnumbered the two. Surrounded by three orcs, Arcadia couldn't avoid the war hammer that hit her rib cage. She was thrown backwards and fell over Midir, who was still watching. Drombosh stood, back to a tree, occupied by the lunges of attacking orcs. Midir tried to get the dazed woman off him, but she pinned him down. Yelling triumphantly, a big orc swung its club far over its head to finish the amazon, but stopped to wonder about the arrow that was sticking out of its one eye. Deciding that the arrow didn't belong there at all it collapsed. Arcadia, shaking her head to get rid of the fog that was in her sight, managed to get up on her knees. She still had her two sabers. She blocked a club and stabbed. But the orc was fast enough to get out of her reach. But Midir was up now. Yelling a loud "Incende!" he pointed his finger at a group of orcs harassing Drombosh. Flames exploded with a puffing sound that was accompanied by the smell of burning flesh. Another arrow whirred by, piercing another orc's throat. Arcadia managed to struggle to her feet. "Aruna!" she exclaimed as she rushed into the battle again. But the orcs had just put "surviving" on top of their todo list, turned and fled.

"That was close." Drombosh muttered, kicking one of the smoldering corpses. Midir went over to Arcadia, who, her face a grimace of pain, had sunk to her knees again. He opened her breastplate carefully and inspected her ribs. Some were broken, he noticed. He spread his cloak on the ground and gently pushed her onto it. "Nothing a good spell can fix." he said. Rilandel kneeled next to them, keeping an eye on the surroundings. Drombosh entertained himself with sitting on a fallen tree and cleaning his axe, mumbling into his beard. Midir, his hands suspended over the broken ribs, intonated an old magic chant. After a while, Arcadia began to relax. She pushed Midir back and got up. "Thanks. I owe you a beer." she said. The she busied herself with cleaning Firestorm and Thunderbolt. "We can't stay here", Rilandel noted. "But I can smell some flowers nearby. There has to be a clearing not far away from here. We could rest there." Drombosh looked up, perplexed. "How can you smell flowers here? I can only smell roasted orc." "I smell the flowers just like the small folk can smell hidden gold" Rilandel explained. "Well, you've heard her. Get moving, folks!" Midir ordered.
The Party went on to the clearing, where they camped. Drombosh lit a fire and Rilandel went off to shoot some game. Arcadia started working on the dent in her breastplate. Midir strolled around, looking for some herbs. After a while he returned, carrying some mushrooms. "Look, I've found some egg mushrooms. They are a nice addition to our meal." he smiled.

Half an hour later they were eating mushrooms and some kind of bird that Rilandel had shot. The mood, not too good after having to escape the orcs, was improving. "I still can't believe I'm running around in this bloody forest." Drombosh picked up the conversation. "No one made you follow me." Midir snapped. But he too was grinning. "C'mon! I've known you for some ten years now, and I can't remember one voyage I took you along that didn't hear you complaining." "Keeps me alive without beer." Drombosh sighted. "Listen," Midir said, "you all know this is important for me. I need a tail from a lizard that only lives in the Glitterdark Forest." "We all know that, Midir, otherwise we wouldn't be around." Rilandel smiled at Midir. "We're here because we are friends." She shot a look at Arcadia and added "Oh, and because our goddess likes to be worshiped in fights." Arcadia nodded. "Aruna likes her daughters to fight fair, and her service is battle." She stood up and leaned against a nearby tree. "I'll have the next watch." she declared. Drombosh arranged the fire to burn down and just kept a small flame alive. Then he lay down on some fallen leaves. Midir and Rilandel did likewise. Soon they were drifting in the lands of their dreams...

"Nay, ye gump! I told ya 'Ner that-a-way', but you can't listen to me!" "Oh, holloff. Who went miles'n cabbages into the woods? 'Jes a lil' farther' Ullish!" The Party woke up with a start. They saw Arcadia crouching behind a bush, lurking. Drombosh killed the fire. A minute later they saw two woodcutters stumbling through the woods. They passed Arcadia's bush and headed in the direction of the Party's campsite. "For the queen, for Aruna!" Arcadia yelled, stepping out of hiding. The two men jumped. But grabbing their axes, they turned around. "Who is it?" the first inquired. "A stabludder?" "Nay, it's a doe!" "Pine square. Halay." "Bury the hadge it. She's armed." "And you should drop your axes, if you don't want her to become angry" Midir, who had stepped out behind them, said. "Ken it, it's all knots" the second woodcutter complained. He dropped his axe nevertheless. So did his colleague. "Ahff. Ah have the tingelin' we're in mountain mordhump." the first woodcutter sighted. "Vray. Ten nods to you." the other agreed. "What the hell are you doing out here?" Drombosh wanted to know. "This critter went bluffing lilies, and know we're cabbages lost." "Three handful cabbages to that. But twas you, bluffing lilies." "Holloff!" "Would you please stop that?!" Midir exclaimed. "You can camp with us here for the night if you can lead us to a village tomorrow." "Vray, will do." The two woodcutters lay down under a tree and fell into sleep almost instantly. Rilandel went for watch, the other Party members went to sleep. On one of the dark trees, an owl cried a lone "Shoohoo" into the night. And some kilometers away, another person sat a watch. It scratched it's warty face and waved it's club. They would get those soft-skins tomorrow, for sure.