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Author Topic: Wrong Neighborhood  (Read 572 times)

Wyn

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  • Wanderers
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  • Alias: FennecFyre
  • Application: Plotter
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Wrong Neighborhood
« on: September 30, 2017, 05:38:58 AM »
The marshes saw few travelers, fewer still who managed to navigate the treacherous maze of algae-choked sinkholes and sulfurous pools without joining the legions of dead already lurking under the mire. Even the animals tended to give the region a wide berth. Today, however, the humid silence would be split by the baying of wargs and the whooping of their orcish riders. A trio of the tawny beasts galloped across the moor, their claws digging ruts into the soft peat with each stride. Their riders, a far cry from the notorious warg-riding Gundabads, were wiry and goblinesque, Mordor-born scouts who had been patrolling the mountain border astride their speckled mongrels. Weeks of boredom had been abruptly broken when one of their beasts picked up the scent of a stray, solitary manfolk, and the allure of a hunt had been too much to resist.

Their prey, for her part, had little intention of being a cooperative quarry. There had been a fourth in their number, who had recklessly ridden ahead of the pack to try and flush out the lone human. They had found him the next day floating facedown in a shallow pond, having somehow managed to drown in a foot of standing water, his mount lying nearby with its throat slashed open and its muzzle scored with deep, ragged cuts. The red blood staining the grass, however, showed that their killer hadn't escaped unscathed, and now the trio were rapidly bearing down on the human as she cut a twisting, staggering path across the marsh. She could hear them in the distance, the howls of beast and orc mixing together, and the sound chilled her despite the feverish pain of her wounds. She had hoped they wouldn't dare follow her into the marsh for fear of falling victim to the deep, stagnant pools, but no such luck. To make matters worse, without an opportunity to stop and tend to the injuries she had sustained while fending off the fourth rider and his mount, she knew she was practically inviting infection and sickness by venturing into the marsh.

There was no time to bemoan her ill fortune, though. She had maybe a minute at most before her pursuers caught sight of her, and she knew she wouldn't survive the encounter. When fight and flight were both out of the question, the only option left was to hide. Desperately, she cast about for shelter, finding little aside from a large and half-rotten fallen log, blackened with the passage of time and covered with lichen. She wasted little time, vaulting over the log and all but burying herself behind it. She stretched herself out lengthwise, wriggling as far under its bulk as she could. Cold, muddy water seeped into her clothing, and her nostrils were filled with a pungent reek, causing her to grimace. If the smell was strong to her, though, then hopefully it would be enough to throw off the noses of her hunters. She slathered more mud on her limbs and face, and as the thunder of taloned paws drew closer, she wrapped herself in her cloak and went still, hardly even daring to breathe.

With her vision obscured, she had to rely on her ears to keep track of her enemies. Their mounts screeched to a half, panting heavily, and she heard the guttural barking of Black Speech. The speaker sounded puzzled, perhaps even frustrated, and she listened as the three spread out to search the area. She tensed as one drew dangerously close to her hiding spot, paused to snuff at the air, then moved on. The leader barked out another order, and the gallop of paws started up again, slowly fading into the distance.

She didn't dare move until she was sure they were truly gone, then carefully extricated herself from the muck. Looking down at herself, she snorted--she looked like one of the numberless dead that had come crawling out of the swamps around her. A hard shake dislodged some of the mud, though she would still be in for an extremely uncomfortable trek out of the marsh.

It was a whole lot better than getting torn to shreds, though.

Dirty, disheveled, and limping, but still alive and damned proud of it, Wyn turned and started the slow process of retracing her steps through the marsh back to more solid terrain.

Tags: open hobbit