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Library: A GM's Tale

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Author: xyloid
Date:Sep 16 2004

A tale.

Mithrir studied the grove ahead of him with his usual calmness.  The green
grass rippled slowly with the breeze and the sound of leaves chattering
slowly faded into the distance.  The trees seemed quiet and still, yet in
the ways unknown to most they told the ranger all he needed to know.

"They passed by here no more than two nights ago", he said casually.  "We're
gaining on them, and they know it.  They're moving faster now."

With a quick lunge he was on his mount and swiftly riding westward.  His
group followed him without question; they'd learned long ago to trust his
instincts.  He was no ordinary traveller and he had silently assumed the
role of their leader without anyone questioning him.  Over the past few
months the party had been through many battles, and a deep trust had formed
among them.

The group raced through the trees with little more than a rustle of leaves
left behind to show their passing.

--------------------

"FASTER!" Oghrak yelled.  His fellow orcs were slowing him down and he had
no intention of meeting the brown haired man in battle again.  It had been
three weeks since their first encounter, and the small band of whelps they'd
chosen as their prey had proven to be more than he had bargained for.

If he had known anything of the fiery anger the 5 of them would strike back
with, he'd have never slit the woman's throat and stolen her pouch and axe.
What looked like an easy target ended up costing him nearly half of his
hunting
party and almost cost him his own life.  Casually he looked down at his side
and grimaced as the memory flashed fully in his mind.

The man had come out of nowhere with unbelievable speed.  Two of his strongest
illak's had fallen before they could react, and Oghrak himself had barely
parried what would surely have proven to be a fatal blow.  It didn't take long
for him to realize he'd made a grievous mistake and the retreat was quickly
made.

It was only after running for a few hundred meters that Oghrak peered back to
see the carnage he'd begun.  A large group of his men had fled with him, but
almost as many were either dead or fighting still - unaware that they'd been
abandoned in the heat of battle.  The flurry of swords and orcish screams had
quickened his pace and led him to the forest he now ran through at full speed.

--------------------

"They're heading toward the Charand Crags.  It'll be hard to follow if they
enter one of the deep caves." Aranor stated.

Mithrir knew he was right, and knew their time was running out.  Their steeds
were growing tired and he didn't think they'd be able to push on much longer
at this pace.  If they hadn't spent as much time giving Nilai a proper burial
the chase might have been over already, but duty and love couldn't have be
ignored.

For the next two hours the group followed Mithrir through a series of rocky
trails.  They made their way down into the low crags, following a trail that
only the ranger seemed to see.  Despite the winding path, they never doubled
back or crossed their own paths - always decending toward the depths of the
earth.

A hand suddenly shot up from the dark cloak and the party dismounted in
unison.
Ahead were the unmistakable forms of over a dozen orcs.  Most of them were
resting, while a few of the larger were arguing amongst themselves -
apparently
in dispute about which way to go.  Aranor and Dardil knocked their bows and
took aim at the closest orcs.  Mithrir slipped around some rocks to get
closer.

In an instant Mithrir leapt from behind a rock, striking across the midsection
of an orc with his blade.  At the same instant the sound of arrows in flight
whipped through the air and the next two dropped to the ground.  The singing
of steel echoed from the rocks as Broch and Pranra joined Mithrir in close
combat.  The sound of metal was joined by the yells of orcs and men as the
groups collided in battle.

Near the back of the skirmish a large orc slipped into a dark crack.  He
thought
he would escape without notice, but ran hard into the dark when he noticed a
cloaked figure enter behind him.  Oghrak felt, for the first time in many
years, fear for his life.

--------------------

Two days had passed since the battle at Charand Crags, and the party had found
no sign of their missing companion.  They'd checked the battle remains three
times before burning the remains to a smoldering pile of gray ash.  With ample
rations and supplies, their camp was becoming comfortable - yet worry had
begun
to set in amongst the men.

It was on the morning of the third day when a somber figure walked into the
camp.  They all jumped and instinctively reached for their weapons, as the
man had entered silently into the perimeter of the makeshift circle of the
camp.  He said nothing as he sat beside the small fire and reached for rations
from a pack on the ground.

As the weapons lowered and the questions began, a hand rose up in a gesture of
silence.

"My journey with you all is at its end.  I'll not discuss what happened in the
dark underground, but my heart has changed."  His voice was soft as he spoke
in a steady tone.  "I don't feel the pull of my heart to go from this place. 
I
feel the need to relearn some truths of the wilderness I've forgotten, and
build
the connection to the earth that I once knew."

Silence.

One by one the companions spoke with Mithrir, and one by one they turned and
left the camp.  Something had indeed changed in this man, and as Aranor at
last
turned to leave he took one last look at the man he'd come to know as his
friend.

The flowing brown hair.. and deep green sparkling eyes, with a slightly crazy
look in them.  Mithrir stared back at Aranor.  The ranger raised Nilai's axe
up
into the air and sparks seemed to flash from its edges.  A look of insanity
seemed
to settle into his eyes as his voice echoed from the rocks: "I am Mithrir! 
This
ground is now my home!  Woe to all orcs who pass by my blade!"

"Mithrandir", Aranor whispered silently to himself, and he turned to leave.



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