A couple of the kids turned out to be teenagers, so I had them walk in back of the sixteen of us. I figured their nerves would be steady enough to not be on the edge of panic, therefore able to listen for anything behind us as Shan’tar led us out what he claimed to be the back side of the dungeon. I didn’t trust the credaril, nor did I want to be using the torch, but every time I turned to look at the young faces following me, I knew darkness would scare them even worse than they clearly were.

We came to another intersection, our third in the seemingly unbroken maze of gray stone tunnels. In a few places beams held up dirt with long planks of wood or steel between them, but for most of it we only saw gray. I made sure to nick the wall at a height and spot I knew without the jet-black skinned soldier noticing, in case he merely led us in circles to keep us trapped. “How much further?” I asked quietly.

“This is as far as I can go,” he replied. “Walk down that way,” he pointed right, “for one thousand paces and you’ll be in neftir territory.”

“Unless you encroach more than ever before, that doesn’t seem possible that they should be there after such a relatively short walk,” I said.

“It is the neftir that have grown toward us. That is a debate that would rage for days between our races if negotiation was even possible. It’s not under Queen Lotha, may she live forever. I am ready,” he finished.

I looked at the credaril for a minute trying to figure out what he meant. Then it dawned on me. “Josha, take the others down the tunnel until you run out of light.” The oldest girl began quietly herding the children around the corner. I held the torch to light both their tunnel and the one Shan’tar and I remained in. “I will remember what you did if we make it to safety. If we land in a trap, I will personally peel the skin from your body.”

“I would expect no less,” he said, barely flinching as my right, leather gloved hand struck him across the head, while wrapped around my sword hilt. The credaril slumped to the floor.

For the first time in a while the children had stopped moving, and I heard it. Faint shuffling reached me from far down behind us. No, I corrected myself, running, but still far off. I sprinted to the kids. “Follow me at a run, try to run quietly, make no other noises. We must reach neftir soldiers or a good place to make a stand.” They all nodded.

I jogged at a pace that would be running for the younger ones, I knew they couldn’t take much distance at their speed, but if the credaril told the truth we didn’t have far to go. We ran past a tunnel to the left and I stopped, kids crashing into me and each other. I waved Josha over.

“Yes, Ofeldar, what is happening?” she asked.

“I need you to take this torch down that tunnel. Count your steps. When you reach a turn, go down it fifty steps, prop the torch against a wall and come back. It will be dark, so remember how many steps back. Can you do that?” I asked.

“I’m scared. What if credarils are down there? Why don’t you do it?” she asked, her voice trembling. I could see her brown eyes wide in the dark.

“If you see credarils, don’t scream whatever you do, but do turn and run back here as fast as you can. I’ll know that means I need to help you, but I need to stay here with the younger kids in case what I know is coming reaches us. I need you to be brave,” I said.

She slowly took the torch. I’m not sure a man could have convinced her, but seeing a woman like me taking charge and being brave inspired her. With one eye I watched the black haired girl walk down the tunnel, while using the rest of my senses to monitor the tunnel behind us. The children shuffled, but made me proud how otherwise silent they stayed, even the ones crying into their sleeves in fear.

Long moments passed and I feared I’d lose sight of that small light before she reached a turn, but suddenly it went left and vanished. I counted it out in my head and listened. I prayed to the One God that Josha’s footsteps would be the next ones I heard.

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.

Save the Kids

I knew right away I wouldn’t be able to stay in a closed room with the torch for very long, so with the torch in my left hand and the sword in my right, I pulled the door open and went back into the tunnel. Like most dungeon or torture areas, not a lot of traffic came through. I listened for a moment, trying to determine what was in each direction.

The left seemed quieter, so I walked down the gray stone tunnel to the next door, this one on my right. After using my senses to check inside, I pushed the door open. Upon seeing the contents of the room, I quickly put the torch in the holder for it carved into the wall just inside and shut the door. Piled carelessly on tables around the room was clothing from prisoners, including mine. Once fully wearing armor again, including my own sword on my hip and bow and quiver on my back, I looked through the other belongings.

It didn’t take long for me to realize the rest of the cloaks and coats were child sized. I took a little comfort that almost all of it would go over other clothing. Walking back to the thick wooden door, I listened again, and then pulled it open. Turning right, I went to the next door on the left, also made of wood but with metal bars in a window high up on the door. Well, to be honest, it would have been perfect height for a shorter credaril.

Before I could look through the window, however, I heard the stone door of the torture room start to open. Whipping off my bow, I already had the arrow nocked as the soldier I hamstrung limped into the hall. Since I carried the torch, he looked my way first and held up his hands when he saw the arrow. “I speak common,” he forced out.

“Why should I care?” I asked.

“I can help you if you’ll keep me from bleeding to death,” he answered.

“Why should I trust you and why would you help me?” I asked.

“Credarils are not, how would you say, death lovers, any more than you are. We don’t embrace it or seek it. I do know I will bleed to death if you don’t bind this up for me,” he said, looking down at his leg. “We can’t help the kids already taken to the breeding camps, but I will help you get the ones down here up to the surface.”

“Lay face down and grasp your hands behind your back. If they come apart before I’m standing on you, I will put an arrow into the back of your skull,” I said. The credaril complied, head facing me. I stepped one foot onto his back and put enough pressure on to keep him down, but not crush him. The torch lit the hallway from where I dropped it.

I used a bandage wrap from my pouch to wrap the wound, a heavy knee in his lower back. Then I used another one to tie his hands together. Slinging my bow over my back, I stood up and drew my blade. “I’m going to help you up, if you try anything I escape on my own with four dead credarils behind me, got it?” I asked.

“Yes, I understand,” he said and I used my left hand to pick him up. He limped ahead of me to where the torch lay on the ground. “This is one of two rooms with kids in it.”

I scooped up the torch, never putting myself in a vulnerable position. The credaril stuck out his right hip to me, which is when I noticed the keys. Six kids under ten staggered out into the hallway, wearing bed clothes. “Go into that room over there and find more clothing,” I told them, pointing to the door where the credarils kept their clothing. They complied silently and quickly, as I hoped they would. I felt sure a little shock and abject terror had made them quite eager to obey a pale faced human holding a sword to a captor.

Gesturing to the credaril that he should move to the storage room, I followed him over. I did not want kids ending up between me and any guards that might come into the tunnel. “How often do guards and others come down here?” I asked, while the kids rummaged through the clothing in the light of my torch.

“My partner and I are the only soldiers assigned for this shift. Sorcerers only come down here for torture, but wouldn’t come check on their fellows not reporting,” he answered.

“How long do we have?” I asked.

“Long enough to get the second group of kids dressed and up the back side of this part of the credaril kingdom,” he answered.

As I walked to the second room of kids, I hoped he told the truth.

Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.


I kicked and fought so hard as four xadineft carried me to the cave that even they were having a hard time holding on to me. So the sorcerers cast a spell to make me sleep.


I woke in a dark cave, in some unknown place in the mountain. My scouting abilities let me know that another was in the room, taking advantage of their ability to see heat to see me. I acknowledge it’s a human weakness to start to freak out in complete and utter darkness, and I am no exception to that. I closed my eyes and pretended it was night, holding on to that part of my mind.

“Ah, you’re awake,” said a credaril in common.

“Yes, I am, demon dung,” I said, keeping my eyes closed.

“Good, then the torture can begin,” he replied.

“Nothing can be worse than listening to the slave of a demon talk in broken common,” I said. Mentally I still wished I could control my smart tongue.

“General Ofeldar, there is much worse we can do to you,” said the credaril, who then began to chant, blue light around his hands illuminating the room.

My skin burned. Part of my mind knew it really didn’t, but the pain sensation of flame ripping away my flesh was real. I screamed, but the echo from it told me the chamber they held me in had been sealed.

I would not let them win. “As you can tell from my sass, if you idiots even know what that means, I’m not telling you anything,” I said through ragged gasps for breath, the sensations gone.

“That’s just it, human scum, I don’t care if you do. My superiors want to know what the plans are before taking you off the board for Rangdor. I, however, would just as much love to torture you whether it works on you or not,” said the credaril. “I happen to know even this complete darkness is torture for you, while I can see every detail of the walls and the heat from your racing, frightened heart.”

“Maybe that’s just intense love for you,” I quipped. “It’s probably hatred though, so I’ll go with that.”

The credaril’s hands lit up again as he began to cast. Nothing happened. “Ah, so you are going to be resistant to some of my spells,” he mistakenly said. Now I knew I could fight them. “Let’s see if you can resist two of us.”

I sensed him walking to the other side of the room and used every scout sense to measure the distance. A stone door swung open on metal hinges and the light of a torch briefly lit the opening. Quickly flexing my body so I could slip my bound hands under my legs and out in front of me, I traced his steps. It was at this moment I realized how oppressive the darkness was, as they had removed all my clothing. It made no sense to me as my heat outline would be the same. I’d only look better to them with light in the room. If it was to shame me, why would I feel shame if they couldn’t actually see me.

In the brief light when he left I had seen a hook hanging from the ceiling, high enough up to be very uncomfortable for torture. It was a shame, for them, that they hung it so close to the door on a spike drilled into the rock ceiling. I jumped up and hooked the ropes around my hands on it, giving myself a good cut on the left one. Then I twisted and swung my legs up on the wall less than a body length away from me and climbed it.

Some of the blood from my hand pooled on my chest. I thanked the One God for a bountiful bosom, as it needed to stay there. If that dripped on them when they came in I wouldn’t be able to kill them. I stayed perfectly still as the door swung open again. The fools failed to look up, but they did panic.

The two sorcerers began to yammer in credaril, clearly wondering what happened. Just one more step into the room, I thought. They complied and I swung down, catching the closest one to the door with the ropes around my legs, wrapping them around his neck. I made sure that as I twisted and snapped his neck he slammed into the other sorcerer, interrupting his spell.

While the sorcerer who had begun the torture fought for balance, I unwound from the neck of the dead credaril, swung up to the wall and pushed off. Swinging from the hook, I planted both feet in his face full force. The sorcerer flew back against the stone table I could see in the light from the door. If the crack of his skull I heard wasn’t deadly, it was enough to knock him unconscious.

I had felt the hook turn with me as I spun, so pushed off the wall and kept going. As I guessed, the spike unscrewed from the ceiling and I dropped. Needing someplace to put it while I used the hook for my purposes, I shoved the spike through my torturer’s heart, just to make sure. I carefully used the point of the hook to fray the ropes on my hands and freed them. Legs also free, I wondered at the lack of guards. Either they didn’t believe a woman to be a threat, or these two sorcerers had way too much confidence in their abilities.

A piece of cloth ripped from the robe of one of the credarils served as a bandage for my hand. I heard voice coming my direction. While I could speak the language of the good daril races on the surface, credarils had changed it too much. From the tone and volume, they spoke casually. I realized they must be coming down a tunnel, so I sprinted to the wall next to the door and flattened against it.

The footsteps and speaking stopped at the door and I heard what in mind translated as “What the . . . ?”, though I couldn’t be sure. I heard swords come out of scabbards and two credaril soldiers ran in and straight to the corpses on the floor. The first one to turn and look my direction took a right uppercut to the chin. Each stood shorter than me, height not a daril trait, especially for credarils.

Once again they underestimated me and the second one charged me. With a quick pivot to my left I dodged the sword thrust, grabbed my attacker’s wrist and used his momentum to flip him onto his back. His sword now in my hand, I met the first soldier’s swing with it as he recovered from the vicious punch.

I drove the soldier back with a flurry of blows that surprised him and made him play desperate defense. Keeping my senses alert, I knew the soldier I disarmed had got up and now charged me. At the last moment I dove to my right, tucked and came up as he slammed into his partner. With a lunge I sliced through his hamstring muscle and he collapsed as the still armed soldier struggled not to be knocked over.

As the wounded soldier fell on his face, the other one dropped his sword, the tip of mine pressed against his neck. The credaril on the floor tried to reach for me, but without moving my blade I kicked him in the face, knocking him out. “Do you speak common?” I asked. The credaril shook his head, so I ran my blade into his neck and back out. I didn’t need a hostage, I needed a guide.

I ran out to the hall and grabbed a torch, went back in the torture room and closed the door. I’d have to wait for the soldier bleeding from the back of his leg to wake up, if he ever did. I also worked on a plan for if he didn’t.


Want more Ofeldar? She’s in First 2 volumes Available at my author page at my author page on Amazon.


I glared at Prince Zif while collecting my thoughts to present my strategy. I had only moments to do so, as I had just started the sentence to tell them. “I will scout the locations of all the joint xadineft and credaril camps, based on the abduction reports. Once I have found each one, I will pass this information on to Tendelbro. The neftir can then secure the tunnel escapes in those areas,” I began.

“Where do the rest of us come in?” asked Captain Hundle.

“I’m getting to it, Captain, please don’t interrupt. While the neftir are getting into place, I will put together an attack plan for the Seftrel forces to best take them all down at once. I’m confident the xadineft haven’t started gathering in large groups,” I replied.

“So where do you want the army for now, General?” asked Prince Zif.

“Patrol near the homes of the humans who have children that haven’t been abducted yet. Do it in a way that it looks like that is all you are doing,” I answered. “It will take a few nights to find all the nests of xadineft. We’ll review my progress and next steps in the morning, when the xadineft have retreated to their hideouts.”

The meeting broke up, so I headed back to my room to get some sleep before my night time scouting. Before I did I pulled Tendelbro aside, out of the hearing of anybody else. “Something doesn’t sit right with me about this, Commander.”

“What is it, General?”

“Ok, first, don’t call me that. Second, I have a nagging feeling here about this disruption by the credarils,” I replied. “If you don’t hear from me for more than two days, send an overwhelming force to find me.”

“Why aren’t you telling this to Prince Zif?” the neftir asked.

“I trust the Prince has nothing to do with this, but he would have to involve his men. I trust you more than any human here,” I said.

“I understand, Ofeldar. Two days of no contact is all you’ll get,” said the Commander.


The sun had been down for a quarter of the night when I finally crouched behind a tree, looking at the dozen or so xadineft squatting around a deer they had killed. Their cave entrance stood a few yards away, and a robed credaril stood there in the moonlight, leaning on the rock wall. He wouldn’t be part of eating raw meat like that and a fire would give them away even more.

Marking the geographical features in my mind, went to stand back up to leave, but I couldn’t. My legs wouldn’t move, and my even my head seemed frozen. I could still see the cave entrance, though, and the second and third credarils coming out, chanting with blue light flickering around their waving hands.

They came over and stood over me. “You are creating a lot of havoc,” said the first credaril, not part of the spell the other two still wove around me. I could feel the cocoon of energy growing stronger.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” I replied, surprised I could speak.

“Your days are numbered, human scum,” said the credaril.

“Oh, so you’re not going to kill me immediately? First mistake,” I said, while my brain screamed at me to drop the swagger for once.

“We need more information from you. Torture comes first,” the coal black skinned man said. “You can come out and collect your daughter now, Captain,” he shouted.

I watched Captain Hundle walk into the clearing from the other side, hanging his head. “You fool,” I shouted. “Do you think you or your daughter will live through this?”

He looked up at me and I could see his tear-stained cheeks. He stopped walking, though only feet from the xadineft, and looked around. Without questioning the absence of his daughter verbally, the soldier took two steps back and drew his sword in one fluid motion. The Captain had fought the ape men before, but never with these odds. I watched him riposte and parry their attacks, killing three before they could get him completely surrounded.

I only knew the battle ended because the xadineft backed up from his dead body. “Good for him, five fewer xadineft for you,” I said. “So, where is his daughter?”

“Already on her way down to the queen,” said the credaril, the other two apparently having to keep the chant up to keep me paralyzed, for now.

“Why go to so much trouble for me?” I asked.

“Rangdor has his purposes,” he answered, turning and walking away. He made the disgusting guttural noises that passed as speech for the xadineft, and they picked up ropes and came towards me. Once fully bound by the filthy creatures, the sorcerers stopped and put their hands on their knees in exhaustion. Rough hands carried me into the cave.


Read more about Ofeldar in The Lerilon Trilogy


The kingdom of Seftrel sits entirely on a low shelf of the Efre mountain range, steep peaks that otherwise divide continent of Li into a western third and the rest to the east. Low enough to grow crops and raise livestock, the terrain into the kingdom lands is steep. Inside are lush valleys trapping water in pristine lakes that leak out into subterranean rivers before emerging in the surrounding lands.

Unfortunately we are having to trudge through the heavy snow that this elevation brings, that will feed those lakes, to get to the fort Captain Hundle is taking me to. Even though I’m used to it and just as capable in bad weather, I prefer light leather camouflage armor to this heavy fur lined white I’m wearing now. Captain Hundle and his men hate if for other reasons, but the last time any of them made a comment about it they tasted their own blood for a week.

Seftrel does take advantage of the terrain, though. The fort rising before me is built into the side of one of the many hills and mountain tops that make the kingdom formidable. A low wooden building at the bottom of the hill is for stables and basic offices, while natural and man-made tunnels weave back and forth in the face above it. Walkways, both wooden paths attached to the front of the rock and tunnels at the back of each cave entrance, link the five levels of defense, sleeping quarters and storage. Pulleys and ropes allow the walkways on the outside to be pulled up as protection for the cave entrances in case of attack.

I stepped into the office area in the building at the bottom of this ingenious fortress and stomped off my boots. “Prince Zif, Your Majesty, I was not told you would be here.”

“I just arrived, Ofeldar. When word made it back to Seftrelak that the credarils are stealing human children, I was dispatched here. I take it this means you’re joining us?” asked Zif from behind a large wooden table surrounded by chairs. His green eyes tempted me to say no.

“I have better relations with the neftir than even your father and his ambassadors, and credarils coming to the surface like this is unusual. I had to help,” I said.

“Good. Commander Tendelbro is on his way here with a contingent,” said Zif.

“He’s the top neftir commander. They are taking this very seriously,” I responded.

“We all are. It’s bad enough having to deal with the xadineft, but if the credarils are surfacing to cause trouble, and working with the ape men, something big is happening.” Zif paused while rolling up the map he had been looking at. “Captain Hundle will be bunking with the enlisted men, you can have his room.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” said Captain Hundle, the slightest hint of displeasure in his voice.

“She may be able to whip all of you in a fight, but Ofeldar is still a woman and we will respect that difference, Captain. Show her to your room, I already had soldiers tidy it up for her,” said the Prince.


I barely had time to put my backpack down, heat up water on the wood stove in my room and bathe before the neftir arrived. Quickly climbing into my white fur lined tunic and trousers, I stomped into my leather boots before heading down the four levels of tunnels to the office.

“Ofeldar!” shouted the very stout, very short neftir Commander when I walked into the room. Bushy thick black hair and a long beard nearly hid his sparkling gray eyes. “When I hear you had come to help, my heart leapt.”

“Thank you, Tendelbro, it is good to see you too!” I replied. “How’s your niece?”

“Doing well, thanks to you.” Tendelbro turned to the rest of the room. “Have I told you of the time she helped rescue, almost single handedly, my niece from the . . . ?”

“Yes,” all the gathered officers said at once, followed by a round of laughter.

As it died down, another neftir said, “And all the other times she’s helped us as well, Commander.”

“Yes, you’re probably right, Reichet, but that’s why she’s my favorite human. Heck, I like her better than most neftir too,” finished Tendelbro, breaking into a deep rumbling laugh again.

Zif pulled out a chair at the end of the rectangular table and the other seven humans and five neftir sat. I walked down to the end opposite the Prince and took a seat. “I am granting Ofeldar the rank of General,” began Zif, “for as long as she is pledged to assist us. You will instruct your men to obey her as such.”

“But you are only a Captain yourself, Your Majesty,” I responded.

“By my choice, Ofeldar. But as Prince I also have the ability to grant ranks. If you had joined the army as soon as you got old enough, you’d be General by now anyways, I’m sure. I need all the men to respond to your commands. You will lead this mission,” said Zif.

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” I said.

“Good, now, Commander Tendelbro, please bring us up to speed on what you see underground,” said the Prince.

“The credarils have been a little too obvious in not drawing our attention. They usually give us constant trouble on the edges of our villages and mines, making sure we know not to encroach further. But they’ve been noticeably quiet over the last couple of months,” said Tendelbro.

“They are redirecting their forces elsewhere, apparently to the surface,” I said.

“It can only mean they are looking for more ways to grow their numbers. They think something big is coming,” said Zif.

“Then let’s make them wish they had stayed deep in the Efres, where they belong,” I said. “Here’s what I suggest.”


To be continued. Read more about Ofeldar and the big things that happened in Fate Rides Wicked: Vol I of the Lerilon Trilogy.

Best Scout on Li



I should feel cold. Even with a full covering of animal skins under my white leather armor, lying in two feet of snow is telling my mind I should be freezing. So I fight the urge, as right now I have no time for that. With my soft leather helmet matching my armor and the bow wrapped in white cloth, these horrible creatures should be only able to see my green eyes peering over the edge of the indentation my body makes.

            Of course, the three dead xadineft should be a clue to any new ones to show up. The green apes stand nearly ten feet tall with their overly long arms scraping their knees. I give them no chance to use that advantage on me, which is why three of them stain the snow with green, acidic blood over a hundred paces away, near the road to home. As the big, fluffy flakes of the last few days start to fall again, I allow my thoughts to drift back to how I got here, keeping the road free of xadineft scouts. Hey, it helps me keep warm . . .


            It’s true you don’t see many women like me in the taverns of Li, and I’m not talking about the fur clothing from head to toe as I sit drinking ale by the door. Taller than the average man, with brown hair and green eyes, my fit body would turn eyes, but that would make me like every other man-seeking woman in here. No, I know what makes me unique is I could pound every man in here within an inch of his life, even if they came at me all at once. Don’t get me wrong, I like men. I just intimidate them, as the stories of those who have tried to be, let’s say, ungentlemanly, with me are true. I don’t play games.

            In one such tavern in a small town called Pont in the kingdom of Seftrel, I sat drinking my ale when one of my least favorite men pulled up a chair across from me. “Greetings Ofeldar,” said Captain Hundle.

            “Did I say you could sit?” I replied.

            “As far as I know, thanks to my men, Seftrel is still free, and we’re free to sit where we like,” responded the Captain.

            “Fair enough. I’m also free to knock you on your back if you don’t get to why you sat, and quickly,” I said. “I’m saving that seat for somebody I actually want to talk to.”

            “Then let me get right to it.” The blond soldier leaned forward, brown eyes on an ordinary looking face staring straight into mine. He knew not to look lower, easy enough at a hand taller than me. “You’re the best scout in Li, never mind Seftrel, and we need you.”

            “What this time? Lose a puppy?” I asked.

            “You’re particularly surly tonight. No, we need you as a permanent part of the army. The xadineft are getting bolder. You’re the only one that can find them before they find us,” said Hundle.

            I chuckled. “Only travel during the day then. I’m a free person, still won’t enlist.” Oh yeah, forgot to tell you earlier that I’m lying in two feet of snow, at night.

            “They’ve been raiding homes north of here, so we have to be out at night to stop them. The problem is, they’ve been travelling in pairs instead of their normal large groups. The other change is that they are now taking the children while avoiding confrontation with the adults. We haven’t found any bodies and, as usual, they slip away and we can’t find them. You can,” said Hundle.

            I don’t know how he knew my soft spot, but I couldn’t ignore kidnapped children. Letting all four feet of the chair back to the floor, I leaned on the light colored wood of the table. “Why do I have to enlist to help you? I’ve worked as a mercenary for Seftrel before.”

            Hundle could tell my interest was piqued. “To make you easier to find when we have issues like this. Prince Zif has given me permission to offer you a salary equal to the highest ranking officer to join us,” he said.

            “I can still make more freelance,” I said.

            “Your customers would find you easier at a fort than random taverns,” said Hundle. “Took me a couple tries to find you here.”

            “This time freelance, for the children, and I’ll think about the rest,” I said.

            “Fine,” said Hundle, standing back up and then pushing his chair back into the table. “Meet the squad at the guardhouse on the north side of town.”


            That’s how I got here, in the snow, watching for more xadineft scouts to appear from their gaggle’s hiding spot deep in the trees to my left. Xadineft were good enough at covering their tracks to fool the meathead soldiers, but I knew how to see the slightest variations in snow age, how it had been disturbed and where the wind had fixed it. I could hear things and see things that other’s couldn’t. It was what made me desirable for more than my awesome female, uh, attributes.

            Off the trees to my left, the snowflakes seemed to be moving funny. With my gloved right hand under the snow, fingers pinching the fletching of an arrow in my buried quiver, I inched out my next missile until it reached my chin. Hundle and his men were due here any moment, so whether this xadineft came out from behind the large conifer on my left to get a closer look at his dead comrades or to run back to report human soldiers, he’d be dead seconds after leaving it.

            Suddenly I could hear talking. It wasn’t the guttural, disgusting tongue of the ape men. While I couldn’t hear what was said, the tone was more of one of the other humanoid races. I realized why the snow moved enough for me to notice, and looked at the ground near the noise, soft as it was. Four footprints appeared, and became eight, coming right for me.

            In one swift motion I came to one knee, aimed my bow and nocked the arrow. I knew anybody working with the xadineft deserved to die so I fired above the smaller footprints. The black skinned credaril appeared, his invisibility breaking as he cast a spell to deflect my attack. It still hit him in the shoulder as it veered away from his heart. As the sorcerer staggered back, an invisible xadineft reached for an arrow that dangled in midair where his heart should be.

            I jumped and sprinted to my left, knowing making the trees would be my only defense against what the sorcerer could do next. A web of energy slammed into me from the left, wrapping my legs and arms together around my torso. I fell.

            My bow and quiver pinned to my chest as I lay in the snow, fully bound, I waited for the fireball or lightning bolt that would finish me. Instead, making a red trail to me, the credaril sorcerer stood over me. I couldn’t see his eyes in the dark, as black in their sockets as his hair and face. He held the arrow in his left hand, his right pressed against the wound just below his collarbone.

            “You are indeed a scout of the highest magnitude,” he told me in broken common. “You should not have come alone.”

            “And you should have already finished me off,” said Ofeldar.

            “Why is that?” asked the sorcerer. “I can take you to my queen for some fun.”

            The credaril grasped at his neck as a crossbow bolt appeared out the front of it. He fell to his knees, another bolt in his back. Free of the spell, I stood as he struggled for life. “Because I didn’t come alone,” I said, pushing him over into the snow. I watched Hundle lower his crossbow and come across the small field next to the road.         

            “You alright?” he asked.

            “Yes, smart of you to stay to the trees. He would have seen you on the road,” I answered.

            “You knew I was that close, didn’t you?” asked the Captain.

            “You were quiet enough for an average person to not notice you. I’ll give you an award if you want,” I responded.

            “Does this credaril mean what I think it means?” he asked, ignoring my sarcastic comment.

            “Yes, the xadineft are stealing human children for the credarils. We have a bigger problem than misbehaving ape men,” I said.

            “Now will you take Prince Zif’s offer?”

            “To drive the credarils back underground, yes, that is enough to get me in the ranks. He’ll need my ability to work with the neftir. I’m sure their mines are being threatened by this as well,” I said. “In the meantime, all of those living outside Pont, out here, need to move into the city.”

            “Agreed,” said Hundle.

The soldiers with torches had lit them, and we took the road back to town. I could feel the rules were changing and the evil in the north had bigger plans than keeping our troops busy. I knew this campaign I agreed to would soon be more than hunting credarils.

To be continued. More of Ofeldar’s story is in my books at  my Amazon author website