Voting is now closed. I’ll have a post up with the results later in the day. Thanks everyone!
This is the fifth part of a Vote Your Adventure story in my Hero’s Tale world. More information is here. If you need to catch up, go read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Voting will close Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Enjoy!
“I don’t know that I really have the time, but I will take a look,” Bardulf said. “We need to make this quick, I need to get back on the road as fast as possible.”
The elf smiled. “Follow me, then” He stood, and walked towards the entryway behind Bardulf. The gateway reopened to the forest, and they stepped through.
Bardulf untied the horse, while the elf waited. “So, what should I call you now? You elves change your names so often, I never know what to call you.”
The elf cocked his head to the side in thought. “You and the others called me Let’heli.”
“Our Teacher of the forest.”
With a nod of his head, the elf spoke again. “A rough translation, yes. I have taken the name Malic’heli Elzal since that time.”
They had begun walking, and were silent while Bardulf struggled to remember the meanings of the Fae words. When he recognized the words, he stopped. “Disgraced teacher in exile?”
“That is close enough. You can just all me Malic if you would like.”
Bardulf shook his head as they began walking again. “Malic it is then. Now why are you in exile?”
“Simple. I have taken an oath to revive the Let’heran. Out of all the Rangers that I have summoned, you are the first to answer. Maybe after you have finished your task, you will consider helping me bring back the Rangers of Karathon.”
“I won’t deny that the idea appeals to me,” answered Bardulf. “I can’t support my family on nothing though, Malic.” Bardulf thought for a while as they picked their way across a bog. “When I am done with my job here, I will return to find you. We can talk further.”
Malic nodded. “That will suffice.”
They walked in silence for the rest of the hike. They finally stopped at the top of a hill, and looked down into the hollow where the creature had crashed down. If Bardulf didn’t know better, he would have said a tornado had come through. Trees were snapped in half and strewn across the area. It would take a number of years for everything to return to it’s former glory.
“Come on, there is more to see down there.”
Malic picked a way through the broken trees and debris. It was obvious to Bardulf’s trained eyes where the crash happened, the trees in that area were crushed down in one direction. The other trees surrounding looked like they had been knocked down while the creature was thrashing about.
There were traces of blood on the trunks and branches, but most of it had washed away over the last few days. Bardulf began combing through the area, searching for clues. Most prints that he found were of the local animals. He did find traces of the human footprints that Malic had mentioned. These tracks originated at one point, and seemed to come from nowhere. The tracks and prints in the area leading up to the human footprints looked more like a snake to Bardulf. In fact, it looked like a large snake had come through.
He looked up to Malic. “Before these footprints, what types of tracks to they look like?”
The elf snickered, “You mean you can’t tell?”
“Don’t give me this. I can tell, I want to know what you think.”
“If I didn’t know better, I would say that a large snake was thrashing about here.”
Bardulf cursed. “A large serpent crashing into the forest from the sky? I fought this thing. It is the snake I fought three nights ago.” At the questioning look of the elf, Bardulf explained his mission, and about the serpent that he had fought.
The elf looked up into the sky, and at the area where the creature had crashed. “A flying snake that crashed into the forest?” His eyes lingered on the human footprints. “And it turned into a human?”
“A Shifter maybe?”
The elf shook his head. “It could be, but I don’t think so. A Shifter would turn into a different form before it hit the ground to prevent damage.” He walked up into the woods further, following the human prints to a cave. “This also leads me to believe that it is not.” He pointed out the faint prints leaving the cave. They were not human feet, but boots. “Those tracks go all the way to the road.”
Bardulf was forced to agree. “Shifters wouldn’t put clothes on like this. They could go back to their home in a different form.” He motioned to the cave. “We should see what is in there. Maybe whoever it was left something.”
“Let me go first.” Malic looked into the darkness of the cave. He stepped in, and Bardulf followed a few steps behind. The elf lit the darkness with a flaming orb in his hand.
Human footprints, both barefoot and boots, covered the dirt floor. Because of the narrow walls, Bardulf walked behind Malic. He also had to crouch down as the ceiling was not very high. Luckily, the cave opened up at the back. The ground was covered in the same footprints. A small fire-pit sat in the center of the cave. There was even kindling and wood set inside, as if someone would be returning soon and wanted the fire ready to go.
Bardulf noticed an object in the shadows at the end of the cave. “Shine the light back here, Malic,” he said as he stepped towards it. The light revealed a small closed pouch. “Why is this here?” Bardulf wondered aloud. He nudged it with his foot.
“That wasn’t a good idea, Bardulf,” said Malic said quietly. Bardulf looked up at Malic. His eyes were wide and alert. “Something is happening.”
Bardulf was about to ask what was going on when the wood in the fire pit burst into flame. A wall of flame erupted in the entryway, blocking off their exit. In the firelight, they could see a crimson colored stone sitting on top of the wood.
“That stone is trouble,” exclaimed Malic as dark smoke snaked out. “We need to find a way out of here now.” He looked at the pouch at Bardulf’s feet. “I’m sensing something evil from that as well.”
“Can’t you use some of your Fae magic to get us out of here?”
“I could, but I’m afraid that with the amount of power flowing through this room something else will happen. Or another trap has been set to counter what I might do.”
Bardulf cursed magic users under his breath. They had to do something quick.
Inventory: bow, 4 quivered arrows, hatchet, dagger, flint & steel, traveling cloak, heart necklace, 88 coins in a pouch, food for traveling, 5 packets of healing herbs, rope, compass
Health: broken ribs
What will Bardulf and Malic decide?
A) Have Malic use his magic to escape
B) Attempt to disarm the trap