It was a beautiful day for hunting. We had travelled well and found ourselves at the base of the Shining Hills with a day and a half left before the new moon. With Grum but a half a day of travel west we decided that we take time to restock our supplies for the two day stay. Sernella set about finding various herbs and berries both to restock her medical pouch and to augment our meals. Kraknoc and I set out into the hills to hunt for sweet rat and rabbit as well as search for wander roots. Wonderful stuff that wander root, all the fun of a night of drinking ale or mead but none of the disadvantages the next day. It was also good for trade.
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It didn't take us long to find all the rabbit and sweet rat we could carry but as we hadn't yet located any of the purple and orange flowers of the wander plant we decided to take another route back down to the camp. We were about half way down and I was trying to explain to Kraknoc the finer points of a game of dice when he suddenly changed colours. I saw him take to the rocks as I ducked behind some brush to await whatever it was that set him off. Once settled I tried to locate him again but his camouflage was complete so I was unable. It wasn't long before I heard the sound of hooves coming up the path. Astride the horse I could see a man of average size, well armed and wearing the garb of the Chosen.
I watched from the brush as he stopped and started to smell the air around him. I had heard the training of the Chosen was a long and varied affair but I was not prepared for what happened next.
"You! Troll! Are you Kraknoc? The one charged with caring for Lehan, son of Duma the blacksmith in the village of Shilara?" I looked to the point in the rock he was addressing and was amazed to see Kraknoc change back to his usual moss green as he answered.
"Yes, Knight of the Chosen, I am he. Why do you seek me?"
"It is not you I seek but rather your charge. All I need from you is your assurance you will not attack when I take him from behind the brush with a shot from my sling."
With a leap from his powerful legs Kraknoc put himself between the Knight and me.
"You will receive no such assurance from me. Why do you seek Lehan?"
The Knight dismounted and drew his sword. "I have no cause or desire to kill a troll today, especially one with such an important charge. What say you and I along with your cowardly charge return to your camp and I will explain all."
I jumped to my feet and on to the path. "Cowardly! Why do you risk your life by calling me cowardly Knight?" I said before I could stop myself. My skills with the sword, while fairly strong, are no match to those of a Knight of the Chosen. I realized my error right away when Kraknoc turned to face me with that silly grin of his again.
"Well, Knight, it seems you have managed to offend my charge. It appears he is looking for retribution." Kraknoc stepped to the side of the path. "Have at him Lehan. Show him what happens when someone calls you coward."
I was committed. I readied myself to attack but apparently did not need to as the knight was putting his sword away. Alas my growing relief was dashed when he started towards me at a full run.
When he was within 5 feet of me I started my swing and met with nothing but air. He had somehow vaulted over me and was now standing behind me. Before I could fully turn to confront him he had hold of my ear and pulled up. After a few minutes of apologizing to the Knight he relented and we all decided that we would go back to the camp and hear what he had to say.
Back at camp Sernella had started the cooking pots to heating and was busying herself with skinning the fruit of our hunting. Kraknoc, the Knight and I set our selves under a tree. While I rubbed my ear the Knight began his tale.
"Three moons ago, the witch of our Companion had a vision of great importance. She was skrying for information for our General when she was over come. The story she relates to us is this. Lehan, your charge will in some way be responsible for saving our King. In what way she was not able to decern. What she was able to decern was the Wizard Choku summoning a demon to kill the saviour of the King. The saviour she saw was Lehan." He reached into his cloak and revealed a scroll which he read to us. "By the order of the First General of the Fifth Companion of the Chosen Knights. The Knight Khany is ordered to protect Lehan, son of Duma of the village Shilara. Khany is further ordered to produce Lehan to the First General at the Battlemount by the second turning of the moon. Failing this Khany is to be disgraced at the hand of the First General."
"Are things such in the land of Retul that news of the King found fails to meet my ears?" Kraknoc questioned. "Who is this King Lehan is to save?"
"We have as yet not found our King. However, with this news from our Witch we are closer to finding him than we ever have been. How we will know when our King is found I do not yet know. What I do know is this, I will not fail to properly pursue the vision of the Witch."
He rolled the scroll and handed it to me. I looked at it and stopped rubbing my ear. "A demon! A demon to kill me! Who is Choku? A Demon....."
I was interrupted by a quick and decisive smack from Kraknoc. "Stop your blubbering! We need to pack up and get under way. I want to be in Grum to buy supplies for our trip to the Battlemount."
Kraknoc stood and faced the Knight. "Khany, we will accompany you to the Battlemount. I assume you have moneys enough to fulfil your orders. We will need some magical items if we are to confront a demon on our journey."
"Fear not Kraknoc, all we need has been provided already. Two days to the North another of my Companion and The Witch Apprentice await us. We need not go to Grum for supplies. The wizard Choku has minions in that city and many others, we must go north."
"What of the Awakening? Should we not be in the safety of the city walls before the moon is new? I asked. "I have no desire to experience the Awakening, Trolls and Knights aside how are we to defeat the undead. How are we......" Kraknoc's raised hand had caught my attention.
Khany stood and strode toward me. "This fear you show is unbecoming of a king's saviour. The undead can be defeated and I will show you how while we travel. Have no doubt little man. We will arrive at the Battlemount by the second turning of the moon if I have to truss you like a pig and carry you on my horse. I will not be disgraced."