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The wolf ran through the forest.  The scents on the air were like stories, telling a tale of the g'nack, the running ones, here four of them slain and eaten by one of the spider kindred, here the land was free of any taint, here there were webs to be ware of.

He had magic, and his senses and he ran filled with life, sidestepping traps, avoiding ambushes meant for others, seeing traces of the little folk as they hid from the wave of magnethi taint that was the invasion.  In spite of the way it had looked at the castle, the migration was only beginning.  He could scent the trails and the directions it was coming from, and he was headed towards the center.  Whoever had planned on taking the castle he had escaped from had built a bulwark on the edge of the invasion to welcome it, not a center for it.

It was, of course, too much to ask for to hope that I would make it all the way to the center without something interrupting. I had dodged a lot of peril, until I was crossing a wetlands.

The demon was a dream sending, but whether sent after me, or merely prowling the ways to prevent an incursion by a spy or ranger such as myself, it never said.

Fast, strong, clawed and scaled, there was no avoiding it.  I was faster, stronger and my claws bit deeper. It should have avoided me, but it struck and I passed by and through and that was the end of our clash.

I had a taste of those I was opposing and the steps they were willing to embrace. They had not only lived in Tekel's shadow and the sway of Upharsin, they had embraced the crawling chaos of evil.

With its death I had a safe place, hidden by the stench of its range, in the midst of water, where I could rest. Then dreams could come and I could decide what to do next.

Copyright 2005 Stephen R. Marsh and Heather N. Marsh
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