Aarklash, The Time of Subversion

A Fateful Meeting...

“I hate the swamp,” Tarsis thought to himself, as the morning sun tried vainly to burst through the fog and low-hanging clouds of this murky wetlands. Truthfully, there was a lot in the world that Tarsis could conjure hatred for, but swamps, meres, bogs, and fens held a special place in his heart. Insects swarmed in the air, buzzing their discontent at strangers passing through their domain, or possibly in excitement for the addition of Elf-blood to their banquet. “I hope you all choke on it, too…)” He’d been hunting a band of Gnolls through this Gods-cursed land for a fort-night and was beginning to think that they’d eluded him.

However, he’d recently found his quarry. Not in the quality that he’d left them, mind. The beast-men lay in twisted heaps all about. By the looks of the surroundings they’d thought this was as good a spot as any to make camp for the night. A half eaten carcass lay in the still-warm ashes of a small cook-fire, while crude bedding lay crumpled or laid out in a rough circle around the camp. The bodies were badly mangled and blood and ichor seeped into the mud in all directions around the camp.

Their leader lay a short distance away, a dozen deadly wounds spilling his life into the mire. And yet… Were his eyes deceiving him? Tarsis cursed low, under his breath and stared at the body of his once-foe for long minutes. The chest gave a slight shudder and a gasping snarl bubbled from the blood-filled throat of the Gnoll-chieftain. Cautiously, he approached his nemesis. A single word in fouled and broken Common issued from the lungs and mouth of the dying Dog-thing. “Wiz-zarrd…” and with a gasp he went. The glazed eyes frozen in horror, spoke a small volume of the dread he had faced in death, but Tarsis felt no pity. It was a Gnoll, after all. His only remorse was that he was robbed of the sweet satisfaction of destroying his foes with his own weapons and hands.

Still… Something was amiss. As Tarsis tried to piece together the battle (or ambush—more likely) he lost himself to detective reasoning. Until the creak of cart wheels and the snorts of pack animals broke his reverie…
…to be continued…



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