The next installment of the collaborative series that Mitah val Karem and I are doing.
Previous installment: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_strategist/8944688252/Tracking the Foe:
It did not take long for the Andared and the two rangers to pick up the trail of the Loreesi. The army had left in haste, leaving trails of blood and swaths of crushed foliage in their wake. With grim determination, they pursued the men of Loreos throughout the night.
By the time morning came, they had reached the outskirts of the Loreesi camp, where a paltry number of sentries kept an eye out. Andared and his companions rode as close to the camp as they dared before dismounting and tying up their horses."Quietly now,"
Barely thirty yards away from them, a Loreesi sentry leaned against a tree, fast asleep. Moving swiftly and silently, Andared and the two rangers made their way toward the camp until they stood adjacent to the sleeping sentry.
Andared nodded and the one of the rangers pulled out a coil of rope. With extreme precision and delicacy, he tied the guard against the tree without eliciting so much as a stir from him. Leaning forward, Andared tapped the guard on the shoulder a few times, until the Loreesi began to rouse."One sound, and it'll be the last one you ever make,"
Andared said firmly, as the guard stared in horror at his captors.
His eyes darted between the men, but not a word slipped out of his mouth. The sight of both the ranger's longswords being waved before him were more than enough motivation."Now,"
Andared began. "Let's not waste any time. Is this the camp of the Loreesi army that assaulted Karemdharon?"
The soldier nodded, too terrified to speak."Are Lord Tathann and that boy Tiberius at this camp?""N-n-no sir...They were injured during the battle, so they did not join us in the pursuit of the fleeing Lenfels,"
the sentry replied."I see..."
Andared looked toward the camp for a moment, then back to his captive. "Where is this army headed? The trail you left indicates that you have many wounded. You cannot possibly hope to push further into Lenfald, yet your path does not lead towards Loreos.""You are correct sir, we have many that are in need of care. We are making for Blackwood Keep, a fortress nestled in the Wandering Woods. The Lenfel lord who inhabits the keep is sympathetic to our cause and will give us aid."
Andared's eyes narrowed, disturbed by this revelation."Are you certain this is your destination? Is it possible you are mistaken?""I heard the orders come from the mouth of Lord Tiberius himself,"
the sentry replied. "Blackwood Keep is where we were to go after our battle with the fleeing Lenfels.""Very well then,"
Andared replied, acting suddenly amicable toward the sentry. "One last thing, what happened in your battle against the retreating Lenfels?"
Forgetting who he was speaking to, the Loreesi puffed out his chest and proudly answered."It was a glorious battle! Although a few of them managed to escape, our army ran them down and routed them on a plain not far from here."
The friendly facade instantly melted from Andared's face. Giving a final icy stare at his captive, Andared turned and nodded to one of the rangers. A look of confusion crossed the Loreesi's face before realizing what he had said and who he had said it to."Wait, I didn't--"
His final plea was cut short by the stroke of a blade. Remorseless, Andared walked away, with both rangers close behind. None of them said a word until they reached their horses."Now what?"
one of the rangers queried."Lord val Karem must be notified of this immediately,"
Andared thrust the reins of a horse into the hands of one of the rangers. "Tell him that the Loreesi army that assaulted Karemdharon is still alive, and they make for Blackwood Keep. They are injured and unaware that they are being pursued. If his army is ready to march, we may be able to beat them there.""As you wish,"
the ranger replied. "But what of you?""We will stay and follow the Loreesi, in the event that they head elsewhere,"
Andared replied. "Now go, and with all haste. We will not have another chance."
With that, the ranger reared back on his horse and rode off into the forest...
The next installment in this series will be posted by Mitah val Karem
More photos can be seen on flickr (link is embedded in the picture), thanks!