Hours later, rain drizzled off the trees as Thane led his band through the outskirts of Cedar Vale forest. Simon, bearing the shield and armor, was bent double under the weight. Normally, its polishing cloth was bundled between it and the wolf’s back, but at the moment it had been tied across the top of the shield so the falling raindrops wouldn’t ring against the metal and give them away. Simon was strongly considering going to all fours; he wasn’t built for skulking anyways, and it’d take some of the weight off his back.
Pit, pat, went the rain atop Rusty’s felt hat, now pulled down low over her eyes. Zeke had turned his jolly red vest inside out so the dull lining would blend better in the green-grey forest—though nothing could be done about his rumbling stomach.
They all felt due for a nap, but knew they couldn’t stop until the bear did, and even then they’d have to post a lookout.
Thane, on the other paw, seemed unaware that he was tracking a bear through the rainy woods after fighting a bane and getting no sleep. His whiskers shivered and his yellow eyes glinted; he had paused at the far side of a stream, tasting the cool air to confirm the bear had stomped straight across the water.
Good. If he’s not trying to lose us, that means he doesn’t know we’re here. He checked over his shoulder for the others—good old Stilts, up closest to me so I can get the shield in a hurry!—then lowered his head to sneak deeper into the forest.
It was two more hours before the bear halted in a clearing walled off on one entire side by a stone cliff overlooking it. The bear was bent over now, making his fire, presenting a clear view of his back to the group. They took a long look at the paw-wide scars carved into his back, special conduits of his Wyld power. They wondered if they hadn’t made a mistake, running off after the wolf prince on the fennec’s word; a fennec who, right now, was dry and warm and safe back at the inn, and not out here in the dark and wet with a bear sorcerer with more Wyld power in his stubby tail than all four of them put together.
Thane didn’t seem bothered. He flipped his tail once, then set off to one side, taking them in a long half-circle through some brush, until they came out at the top of the cliff. Thane stuck his nose over the edge. The bear had thrown a cloak over himself and was sitting close to the fire. The rain had stopped, allowing the crackling of the flames to be heard from this viewpoint.
Thane scented the air. Doesn’t smell like druids.
Three more noses joined his. They all watched the unmoving bear. Then, without a sound, Thane tapped Simon for the first watch. The wolf prince and the others went to the back of the rock to curl up in their tails atop their unrolled sleeping mats.
See you tomorrow for chapter 4! The game Armello and its characters are property League of Geeks. Buy it today!
You might also like to read my free short story The Stone Seekers because it is the first of my Armello stories.
What do YOU think the bear is up to? Post your theories below!