Knocking the smoldering ash out , Jethro Argus Tahmyll, leader of the infamous League of Forrestmen, refilled his pipe and gazed thoughtfully at the dieing fire. Among the normal reports of Crusaders traveling the Archland Pass Jair had reported some activity at the local Tavern
. Seemed some new bloke was snooping about was asking questions about the League. Might be a problem, Crusaders had gone undercover before, however bad they were at it. Of course, the League needed more men...
Jethro looked from the flames and stared to the dark eyes of Gonderin, the only Wood Elf of the League. "Gonderin, double the amount of perimeter guards and keep a sharp eye out for any odd figures. We might have company tonight."
In the very early hours of the morning (the witching hour, his mother had called it) Sportimer woke up, packed his few possesions and started toward Darkwood Forest. He hoped to be there by first light.
"Jethro.... Jethro Alabaster Two-Tone? No. Jethro Acropolis TargetHopper? No. Jethro.... Wait a minute, I've written it down somewhere.... Remeber to change underwear. Wrong arm..... Ah Ha! Jethro Argus Tahmyll. That's the name!"
Sportimer walked quickly and quietly along the road, moving Northward.
At dawn, he could see the edges of the Forest a few miles ahead. The road had dwindled to a footpath that was not so well worn. Sportimer tried to subdue the waves of excitement he felt upon seeing a Forest of such magnitude. He could spend a lifetime in there and still never hug all of the trees! Quickly, however, he reminded himself to keep his senses alert as he approached. This was not familiar territory. He did not know what was lurking in every corner. The trees soon began to surround him as he moved forward. He was as quiet as the proverbial mouse, moving along scanning all around him.
He stopped dead. He had seen something. Something in the branches of the large oak ahead. He listened. Nothing. With patience taught to him by a lifetime of hunting and being hunted, he waited some more. If only he were a few steps closer to that tree. He could see what was there. But then again, whatever it was could see him then.
he thought, I've come this far and I just want to talk to this Tahmyll character. What have I got to lose? My life. OK, we won't think about that.
"Hello!" he shouted, "I'm looking for a Jethro... uh...em... Argus Tahmyll."
"I mean no harm!" he added, but it seemed rather empty at this point.
Just then his peripheral vision caught a movement to the West and, simultaneously, he heard an all too familiar sound. Instinctively, he dropped to the ground, just missing an arrow to the skull. Another arrow lodged into the ground behind him. He rolled behind a rotting log and knocked an arrow. Where was he supposed to shoot? He could see nothing.
Thinking fast, he moved down the length of the log and darted behind a tree, praying to Mother Beach and (her daughter was now his cover) that he had not been seen. He was trapped.
"I mean no harm! I only seek audience with Mr. uh Tahmyll!"
In a split second, he saw the figure move from one tree to the other. There's one.
The next movement he saw, he was ready. His aim was true and he saw the arrow hit the shoulder of the figure just as it reached the oak. He thought he'd heard a grunt. Sportimer dropped his bow and climbed the tree slowly, taking care not to move it too much. There was at least one other archer, the first one, out there. He reached the crown and ventured a look around the tree. A faint human outline could be seen in the thicket to the West.
Sportimer wanted no more bloodshed. He took off his quiver and knife and threw them to the ground.
"I mean no harm!"
He slowly moved out onto a limb and dropped to the ground, in plain sight of the archer. To his relief, there was no arrow waiting for him. Thank you, Beach daughter.
"Stay were you are. Don't move!" the voice came from the thicket.
"Gonderin!" This new voice had a peculiar accent. "Let him have it. He hit me."
Gonderin, if that really was his name stood up. He was clad in all green, with bare arms. His face was marked (paint or tattoo, Sportimer couldn't tell) with stripes. He blended in very well with his surroundings, Sportimer noticed. Dark eyes seemed to go right through Sportimer. He almost didn't seem quite human.
"We're taking him alive," Gonderin said, "Crusaders don't shoot like that. Besides, it doesn't even look like he drew blood."
The second voice swore. Sportimer wasn't sure if it was English. Then, the owner of the voice stood up. He was clad in tan, the color of deerskin. He carried two spears.
"Pablo, are you going to help me or what?" Gonderin spat.