El Baine’s and Blood Wolves
(33 Uthmor 358 SV: 12 of 19)
The early morning rains of summer leave the air of Therengia humid and sticky for the rest of the day. There is little desire to move in any other fashion than languidly, and so it has taken some time to reach the next stop upon my Quest. If ever I take to moving too slow, I feel the prickly claws of my geas move urge me forward.
Halfway between the stone walls of Therenborough and the wooded streets of Langenfirth, lies a small outpost known as El Baine’s. It is little more than a collection of cabins and picnic tables huddled around a general store. That does not mean it is of little interest, for its proximity to a prime hunting location does mean it is more often occupied than not. I can attest that the cabins are comfortable and provide welcomed private lodging during the night. People often sleep there or, if they are fortunate to have estate papers, to the grove west of El Baine’s.
It is what lies to the east of this resting area that draws the majority of people to El Baine’s, myself included. Upon the slopes of Neer’s Hummock, you can find a large amount of big game creatures. Further afield, beyond the steep hill and after a little effort of climbing, you can come upon a darker corner of Elanthia where odd and unquiet things dwell. I will deal with those denizens that live in that darker reach when it comes time to face them.
For now, let me discuss the Blood Wolves and my encounter with these malicious canines. I have a long memory of these creatures, and while they are currently unique to the Hummock, they once roamed as far south as the Forest of Night. They are aptly named not only for their red and gray coat, but for their viciousness in combat. Never underestimate one alone, and a pack of Blood Wolves can spell definite trouble for those who do not treat them with respect.
The first I encountered after arriving at El Baine’s was upon the steep slope upward toward the Hummock’s peak. The climb was not as arduous as I have faced in Aesry, but it was still difficult enough that I had to catch my breath for a few seconds each time I pressed forward. The wolves seem to sense this and delight in waiting until you are at a disadvantage before advancing.
In my early days as a Paladin I died not once, but twice by the teeth of Blood Wolves. As this one approached me, I saw in its form all those that I had faced before. I knew I had increased in skill since the last I had drawn steel against them, but visions of the past increased the creatures girth to almost gigantic proportions.
I fought to catch my breath as it loped forward, and pulled my axe free as I stepped aside from the Blood Wolf’s lunging maw. There was no thinking involved, just pure reflex as I chopped my blade downward and felt the impact upon its shoulder blades. I turned, preparing in haste for the creature to follow through on its attack…and found it dead. With equal amount of disbelief and gratitude, I gave thanks to the Thirteen and removed its red pelt from it’s body. Even with this in my hands, I found I had to check to see if I was unscathed.
Sometimes the worse opponent one must face is your own past. If allowed to run rampant, your memories shade your eyes and the resulting shadows loom larger than the present dictates. As I proceeded into Neer’s Hummock, I found that I could face the Blood Wolves with little fear so long as I treated them with respect. Perhaps that is true of all things in life.
Until next, Good Reader, I will set quill aside as it is late and the katydids are singing too sweetly to ignore…