The Gwethen Chronicles, Chapter 2.
Twilight ensued as the trio walked cautiously through the forest, ever aware of the danger surrounding them. Baultimus waved his hand over the end of
his quarterstaff, mumbling a few words to himself, and suddenly it flared bright with light, illuminating a twenty foot radius around their group. He
turned to Sam, and smiled. Storm went nearer the outer edge of the well lit circle, staying close to the shadows, allowing Samantha the courage to
eventually speak. They had been covering the ground at a brisk pace, eager to put room behind their latest adversaries, having traveled a few more
“Uhm,” Samantha said, clearing her throat, “are we going to walk all night, or will we chance to make camp?”
“We can camp, as we could all use a meal. A few hours of sleep wouldn't hurt us either. Still, I'm am trying to make pace to the castle. I fear
there is something amiss with The Balance, in fact I can feel it, as it is very unnerving. The council would not have summoned a junior member such
as I if they were not convening a full council of Gwethen.”
Samantha stopped walking, her face presenting a look of surprise. Bault waved forward with his hand, not breaking his swift stride, and she hurried
forward again, matching his pace easily.
“You are a Gwethen?” She asked Baultimus incredulously, “and I am walking with you still? I am so honored, sir, I had no idea.”
“It's Bault, right now, and I am a junior member of the Gwethen Council. I've naught but thirty-two years.” Bault stopped talking. He looked
at her, briefly, noticing the look of admiration on her face. “So, Samantha, how many years have you?”
“Twenty-four, sir. But I've been trained by my village in the arts of ranging.” She held her head up a bit higher, and continued, “I had the
best marks in all my studies, an expert in every strung weapon, and I am quite a capable swordsman.”
Bault observed her trappings, and noticed the twin scimitars straddling her hips. He chuckled.
“When we get to camp, I'll be glad to watch you practice. No doubt, you are strong with a bow. I was impressed by how calm you were under attack.
Well done, Samantha.”
Samantha bowed her head, blushing deeply. “Thank you, sir.”
“And it's Bault, Sam, while traveling.”
“Don't think it's proper? Please. We are in the middle of the woods. There is no one to hear us talking. For now, and the rest of our journey,
we are friends. We may talk as equals. Do you accept?”
Bault sighed heavily, obviously not getting through. “How far have you traveled from your village?”
“This is the farthest, sir, on a quest. I have explored every inch of the Freewoods, and know them by heart.” She paused, then continued, “I
have never been to Gwethen Castle, nor could dream of it in a million years. I am truly honored to be traveling with you.”
“So while training,” Bault continued, “did you ever meet a stranger while exploring the woods?”
“No, sir, I hid and watched. They couldn't see me. My magic keeps me hidden when tracking. Master Strimson cautioned me against ever being seen.
I chose the Ranger Class at school, because as you, I love the earth.”
“Well, if you ever had met “a stranger”, Bault's voice increasing, “you would have killed him or become friends.” His voice leveled
menacingly. “Which shall it be?”
She stepped back a bit, surprise on her face. She remained silent. They walked on.
The light from Bault's quarterstaff began to dim, so he mumbled again, waving his hand once more, and the staff grew bright again. The renewed
brilliance helped them to see better around them, and they started looking in earnest for a campsite. Both Bault and Sam cast on either side of the
path, looking for a spot enough to start a small fire.
From nowhere, Storm appeared again.
“Trouble ahead,” the dire wolf told their minds, “Human in trouble. Danger.” His teeth snarled, his hackles raised.
“What is it?” Bault asked Storm.
“Vile. Evil. Not Flesh.” Bault and Sam looked at each other questioningly.
Sam asked Storm, “Is it a zombie?”
“Not zombie, worse.” The wolf snarled again, growling deeply in his throat. “Wraiths. Three of them. He'll die soon, soldier of no silver
They all three took off at a breakneck run, with Storm in the lead. Bault asked Sam quickly if she had any Silvered arrows, and she managed a big
Soon ahead they spied a figure in the path before them, flailing wildly with his sword at the shadows creatures around him, but his blows were
ineffective against such incorporeal creatures. As the rushed toward the fight, Storm slowed, and the fighter fell to one knee, exhausted from his
attempts to avoid his attackers. Bault held the tip of his quarterstaff briefly, chanting an invocation, and suddenly the forest erupted in brilliant
daylight. The wraith nearest the victim shrank back, and suddenly was filled with a volley of four arrows. They burst into flames on contact, and
almost immediately the wraith disintegrated.
The other two wraiths turned in a desperate attempt to flee into the night, but Bault held out his hand and a burst of flame shot out from his hand,
and the second wraith was incinerated. Bault was ready to disperse the third wraith trying to make a hasty retreat into darkness, but four more
arrows attached to it, exploded, and burnt the rest of the apparition away with magical fire. Bault had thought to ask about silver arrows, which
only cause a wraith slight damage per each attack, but he now realized she had magic arrows in her quiver as well. She was smart, he realized, and
Sam was already at their beneficiaries side, casting a heal wound spell, and he noticed that the poor chap had been struck several times by the
wraiths. He was pale, almost white, with barely any discernible pulse. Bault looked over to Sam, and said, “I think we found our campsite.” She
nodded grimly in return.
Bault quickly erected a perimeter of light, touching several trees in a wide circle around their newfound campsite, causing each to illuminate from
the spot he touched, his simple orisons a ward against any more wraiths from wandering near. He feared no creature born of the woods, only those as
such they encountered, and the undead. He talked with the trees around, and assured of their safety, and guaranteed warning of anything foul, he
turned back to address the unwary victim.