Into the Wilds
I awoke with a scream, and jerked up to a sitting position and immediately let out a bellow.
Me: oh hells my back. Oh it hurts.
Voice: easy there grey, relax and lie back. You took one heck of a tumble there. Good thing your skull is as thick as stone.
Me: i fell, I remember. Oh I have to go, my mother!
I scrambled madly to my feet and bolted from the makeshift accommodation. When I stepped outside there was a small camp fire and nothing else but trees. No walls, no building and no Waterdeep.
Me: umm, where am I?
Voice: you are in the wilds. You are perfectly safe here.
Me: i do not fear for my safety it is my mother. There was a caravan leaving southern Waterdeep did you see it? Not far from where I fell it would have been lightly guarded if at all.
Voice: yes, I saw your caravan headed south on the road along Trade Way.
Me: I have to find that caravan. My mother is in that caravan!
Voice: yes, I understand, but in your condition you cannot travel just yet. You must rest.
Me: look I have no time for that I must go!
I began to make my way out of the camp but I had no idea where I was going. And in no time I was lost and the light of the fire was lost to me as well. I was alone. Truly alone.
I kept myself moving for warmth and caution since I had no idea what dwell in these wilds. After what seemed like several hours I stumbled upon a clearing with a small pool near its center. I rushed to the pool and collapsed at its edge plunging my hands into the cool liquid and cupping myself a drink.
Me: ugh, pfffft, the hells? This is swamp water ugh gross!
I spit the water out along with a bit of moss. I tried to wave around the water a bit to clear the moss away because I had to have a drink.
After enough water to keep me sated I began to wonder where exactly I was. And more importantly where my mother was. This latter thought got me back on my feet and moving again. Trying to use the moon as a guide I made it back into the wilds in the direction of what I thought was south.
I finally noticed the thinning of the trees and could make out a road. I stayed in the woods and followed the road what I believed was south. After about an hour of moving through the forest edge along the road I spotted lights in the distance. My first thoughts were caravan. Foolishly I started moving with less caution and even thought I was still in the wooded area along the road I was making clumsy mistakes stepping on dry leaves and breaking dead twigs.
Before long I was nearing the lights ahead and suddenly I was staring an arrowhead in the face. I seized and then felt a dagger at my throat and a hand over my mouth. In my ear I heard the words,
Voice: if you call out to them you will be dead before the sound leaves your mouth!
I nodded my head with my hands out in surrender.
A woman stepped in front of me, after giving me the once over she said,
Woman: You are no Orc. You are a half-breed, Yes?
I nodded my head.
Woman: Can you speak common?
Again I nodded.
Woman: Uncover his mouth, if he squeals end him.
She motioned to the men and one of them removed their hand from my mouth.
The woman in front of me said,
Woman: you may call me Skyfyre, that is all you need know of me. What are you doing in my woods?
Me: im tracking a caravan going towards Baulder's Gate.
Skyfyre: are you a raider? Do you plan to pillage this caravan?
Me: what? No? Im just a kid lady. My mother is part of that caravan.
Skyfyres' face turned from stoic to sadness as she look into my eyes.
Me: what? What is it?
Skyfyre: the caravan. It is there along the road. But it was ambushed and destroyed by an elite patrol of trolls from Ghore. In their haste they knocked lanterns over and burn everything.
Me: w-what? No. It cannot be!
Skyfyre: the road ahead just over that hill you will find the caravan. But be careful we do not know where the patrol is at the moment we have scouts out as well who will not hesitate to put you down.
Me: I have to go!
Skyfyre nodded and her men released me. I quickly skulked along side the road making my way ever closer to the caravan site. And when I came close it was easy to see this was a massacre. These people had no chance. I grabbed a sword left next to one of the so called guards. And rummaged quietly through the caravan looking for my mother. So many dead, so many bodies burned, I can still remember the popping of flesh and the horrid stench of burning hair. I looked and looked for what felt like hours and never found my mothers body.
Alas I stumbled upon a familiar sack, it was my mothers sack. I looked inside and there was her idol of Tyr and a bit of rations along with her favorite book, the Kingdom of Many-Arrows: A people made whole. I grabbed the sack and looked around the site for more clues or what I suspected would be her remains.
So much time had passed that I didn't notice to sun peeking over in the far of distance. Then I heard a strange whistle almost like a bird but different. I looked around and a glinting light caught my eyes in the woods. I could see the shape of someone waving at me and motioning me to come closer. I grabbed the sword in my hand and in a low stance I skulked towers the caller.
As I got closer I could see it was Skyfyre. I skulked over to her and asked,
Skyfyre: sunrise, we gotta move and fast.
Me: we? I came for my mother and she is gone. There is nothing left for me here.
Skyfyre: that is why I said we. Look you can stay here if you want to but the hill behind is is home to a very grumpy hill giant who wakes up any moment and to the south lies trolls and worse.
Me: well I apologize the last humans I dealt with kicked me out of the only home I've ever known and just got my mother killed. So forgive me if I seem a little distrusting of you people.
Skyfyre: we arent all humans...
Skyfyre pulls her hood back onto her shoulders revealing pointed ears.
Me: wait, are you? No? Are you a half elf?
Skyfyre: indeed, you aren't the only half-breed in Waterdeep kid.
Skyfire pulls her hood back over her head and smiles as she says,
Skyfyre: so, you ready or what?
Me: hmm, ok... i've nothing left to lose.
So I followed Skyfyre into the wilds. At first it was really annoying there were bugs everywhere, spiderwebs no matter where I turned my face and then there are the vines and pricklies... They're just everywhere all the time. I never thought i'd miss Waterdeep but somehow I did. Not so much the city but my nights on the rooftops the peacefulness of it all and the people watching. Seeing humans at their best and gritting my teeth when they were at their worst.
When we arrived at her camp... And it all seemed so familiar... Somehow...
Voice: welcome back grey, did you find what you were after?
My head spun around like it was on a pike!
Me: you?? who are you?
Voice: all in good time my young grey.
Me: why do you keep calling me grey?
Voice: well because you haven't given me anything else to call you now have you?
Me: ah, well no. perhaps grey would be best for now.
Voice: as you wish little grey. Now rest, please. We need to take care of that bump on your head and after the night you've had you could use it.
Me: okay, okay. You sound like my mother..
I said that... Not really thinking about it until I walked away.. My mother was gone. Forever. All I have left of her is a bag and an idol. I made my way back into the branch and leaf enshrouded womb to take some rest and process these sudden and terrifying changes and challenges I now face alone.
When I awoke the following day I realized I had slept for almost an entire day. My head however felt a considerable amount better. Skyfyre poked her head in to check on me.
Skyfyre: how are you feeling today kiddo?
Me: not bad, I miss my mother. Im angry.
Skyfyre: anger and sadness are both perfectly normal reaction to your situation.
Me: i dont know who I hate more... The humans... Or the trolls.
Skyfyre: well I cannot tell you how to feel, only offer you the advice that holding on to hatred will only lead to sadness. Grieving is one thing but harboring hatred prevents you from becoming who you were meant to be.
Me: maybe in time. But at this time I want to watch them all die by my hands.
Skyfyre: well I believe in time we can help you.
Me: i don't want help, I want revenge.
Skyfyre: well if you are going to have your revenge you will need to know how to survive the wilds and defend yourself.
Me: you can give me that?
Skyfyre: we can teach you that and so much more. But first, we eat.
Me: i can go for that im starving, I dont remember the last time I ate.
Skyfyre: good grab that bow and quiver and lets get going.
Me: bow and quiver? What the hells am I going to do with these?
Skyfyre: well you put the arrows on that string, you then pull it back and then release it and that pointy end will make your food lie down so you can cook it!
Me: smart... ass... I know what it does but I dont know how to use this thing... give me a sword? A dagger? An axe? Hells even a hammer?
Skyfyre: tsk, tsk. You will learn grey or you will have to figure out which bugs taste the best.
Me: ok, yeah im ready lets get a move on. No bugs for me thanks. Is it this way? …. Yeah.
Skyfyre looked at me with a chuckle and shook her head as we headed out into the wilds.
We moved together, Skyfyre telling my about how the wilds are one with the earth and the sky and that together everything works in unison and with purpose in the wilds. The wind carries the seeds, the rain prepares the ground and nestles them, the sun nurtures and renews, the animals fertilize the earth and the bugs protect and pollinate the wild growth. It was an amazing system as she explained it. Seeing the world this way some how made if feel more realistic. In Waterdeep everything was man-made, most of the people were unhappy or in need of aid. Here in the wilds there is a order to things. Things that cannot be altered it is the way of the natural world.
We settled in near a brook and she showed me how to use the little bow she had me bring. I admit, I was nervous about my first kill. But Skyfyre insisted we work together to achieve this goal as it is all part of the order of things in the wild. We take from the land and we give to the land.
So as we waited I tried to learn more about the hunt.
Me: Skyfyre... Why are we sitting here? Why not go aft....
Skyfyre: hush, you will scare them off.
Ooookay I thought to myself. So I just looked around blank faced wondering what it was we were waiting for.
Skyfyre nudged me with her elbow. I looked at her and she rolled her head forward so I looked ahead and sure enough making its way near the water was a large deer. A buck it was. I don't recall but I believe it had the largest set of points id ever seen... Ahem.. At least thirty or so. So there I was with my bow, about to make my first kill. I took aim and draw while I lined up my shot and tried to pace my breathing. I let loose the hells from my bow that would be the demise of this buck! All of the sudden I felt a burning sensation in my arm and as I looked down the arrows was on the ground less that a yard away. Without thought I let loose a howl of pain. When I released the draw to let the arrow lose the line had drug down my arm giving me a nice smooth shave and turning my grey skin a bright red. The pain was immence.
Within an instant this all happened and when I looked back up the buck startled by my clumsiness make a break for it. But before it had a chance to make a break for it and arrow rung true into the torso of the beast piercing his anatomy and dropping him instantly to the ground. Without hesitation Skyfyre moved in to finish off the creature. She then looked back at me and said,
Skyfyre: remember this day grey one, for this lesson is to never let a creature of the natural world suffer needlessly. If they must die for our nourishment then let it be swift and for purpose.
I nodded to her as I thought to myself about my mother. I wondered if she had suffered or if it was over quickly. But I also began to understand what Skyfyre was on about. The natural order of things... I began to view the world differently with renewed understanding and a little more compassion. But I was still harboring my hatred of the humans and trolls. There was a debt and it had to be met.
Back at camp we were all settled in for dinner the folk of the wild feasted on deer meat cooked to order. I however was enjoying some foraged berries and lettuce leaf.... Skyfyre even convinced me to try roasted crickets.. They weren't terrible... But they weren't food that was meant for me!
That night I reflected on the things Skyfyre said to me and about my mother and I really began to wonder what the future held for me.
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