Part Three

By: Adam Janus

***Chapter four***

"Spooky!" Khaz said aloud, his voice sounding loud in the eerie silence; a silence broken only by the distant lapping of sea water on rock and the ever present bay breeze rustling the high unkempt grass that was softly blowing through the still bare branches of the Twisted forest. Although some of the strange trees bore vile purple buds, the largely naked branches rubbed against each other in the wind sounding like dry bones scraping and clacking.

"Where are those two anyway? It's what I get fer mixin' up with elves and druids talking about demon mutated warlocks, cults and treasure, bah! Tree devils are probably sneakin' up on us right now!" The dwarf ranted looking up at the trees half expecting the goblinoid Tree devils, or Trehun Delvaheem as their ancient race was called, to leap on his back.

"Shss!" Sarel hissed at Khaz silencing his nervous chatter. The pair had arrived at the rendezvous early; they retreated from the rusted, creaky cemetery gates to the shadows under the outer boughs of the forest to wait for Kimba and Dev originally passing the time by discussing, in low tones, Khaz's many scars and tattoos. Every victory in the arena was documented in ink on the dwarf's burly body as well as every scar received in gladiatorial combat; each had its own story. It managed to keep Khaz's mind off his superstitions, but the later it got the harder his over active imagination worked. "They’re coming."

Sarel's acute elven hearing picked up the tramp of Dev's boots long before he heard any sound of Kimba's light foot fall, and even then he was hard pressed to differentiate between her steps and the rustling grass. As they came into view, the frost elf noticed something different about Dev; he seemed to have left the ever present black cloud that hovered over his head back in Isegoth. Although he moved with as much stealth as his hulking frame allowed, his gait would never indicate he was about to infiltrate the lair of a warlock and possibly face death. His hair, which was combed military style straight down in front and sides during their first encounter, was now slicked back and there was thick stubble growing on his face broken noticeably by the still pink scar on his left cheek. He shed the livery of Isegoth's guard donning instead a light, waist length, black chain mail vest with hinged shoulder plates hanging down to his biceps over a soft, black wool shirt. Black leather pants and boots completed his stygian attire. He looked like a mercenary.

Sarel and Khaz left the cover of the trees and made their way down hill toward the road that led to the cemetery gate not bothering to keep their movements quiet. Kimba's elven senses would pick them up immediately, and the dwarf's silhouette and boots sucking in and out of the spongy earth were unmistakable even through the wispy tendrils of fog now snaking in from the north east obscuring the ruins.

"Greeting's," Kimba greeted the pair warmly, smiling; "I hope we did not keep you two waiting for very long."

"Let's get this over with," Khaz said impatiently nervously eyeing the thickening fog rolling off the cliffs toward them.

Sarel bowed before the druidess, “good evening, M'lady" he said in direct contrast to the dwarf's gruff demeanor. "And to you, sir" this to Dev, who nodded in return. Although vigilant the former knight was not nearly as stiff and unapproachable as he seemed in their previous meeting.

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About the Author

Adam Janus lives in the Pocono Mountains of northeast P.A., with his wife and three kids. He has been writing for several years, but only recently began to submit his work for publication. His work has appeared in a number of small press and semipro venues, and he has been a staff writer for "The Silven Trumpeter" gaming magazine for almost three years. When not writing, Adam can frequently be found carving walking sticks, reading, watching Yankee baseball...or changing diapers.

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