“So, how’d you do this time around?” Rasher states, clearly excited.
“Not too bad actually. I like that we had to take their clothes off and used them as knapsacks.” Toren grins.
Rasher chuckles. “Stupid Kadwars. They really are clueless as to what’s going on.”
“I don’t know, brother.” Toren says. “I heard a rumor that they might actually send the Champions after us.”
“Yeah, I heard the same rumor. Kavesh is supposedly leading them.” Rasher muses.
“Don’t be so brazen, brother. Merr Kavesh is not one to be trifled with, and if he’s become involved, perhaps it’s time we move on and find another location from which to plunder.” Toren says.
Rasher glances at his brother, and nods. “Perhaps you’re right. Pick out the best items and let’s get going.”
“I’m getting tired. Slow down, Toren.” Rasher states, fatigued.
“Crybaby. You got the better and heavier loot. Deal with it.” Toren scolds Rasher playfully. “We have to keep going; just a little while longer, then we’ll take a break.”
The calming forest sounds are shattered by a deep, guttural groaning sound. Both men freeze at the sound, each looking nervously at the other.
“What was that?” Rasher blurts out, louder than he wanted. Glancing nervously over at Toren again, he restates his question, this time in a much quiet voice. “What was that noise?”
“I don’t know, but I heard it too.” Toren whispers. “Could you tell which way it was coming from?”
“No.” Rasher responds. “Let’s not stick around to see what it was.”
Both men start running as fast as they can down the forest trail. Not noticing, they each occasionally lose a piece of food or treasure as they run down the path. The brothers run until they are exhausted, which for poor Rasten, is a lot sooner than Toren, so both men pull up. They both bend over at the waist, breathing deeply and gasping for air.
“I…I think we…got away from…whatever it was.” Rasher spouts between gasps.
“I think I…know what it was. Look.” Toren states, pointing back down the trail the direction they had just come from.
Both men glancing down the forest path notice a large bruin. It stops short in the trail, and sniffs the ground and eats something on the ground, and start coming their way. Both men look at each other and start running again, glancing over their shoulders to see if they’re being chased. Surprisingly, the bear stops every few feet to consume something on the ground again.
“What is that bear doing!?” Rasher says.
“Rasher stop!” Toren shouts, looking towards a sack Rasher is carrying. ‘You’re leaving a trail of food behind you!”
Rasher pauses to look down, and sure enough, various foodstuffs have been fall out of a tear in one of his sacks. Food the bear obviously finds delicious. Rasher sets the torn sack down on the ground, reached down and grabs the bottom side of the bag, and rolls it over, emptying the entire contents upon the ground.
“That should keep it busy. Let’s go.” Rasher says, smiling.
One half hour later, Rasher and Toren stop and make a makeshift camp off the trail in a small clearing to rest. Toren begins repairs on the torn sack Rasher has by sewing it together using sinew.
“This is an interesting profession we’ve chosen to pursue to be sure, isn’t it Toren?” Rasher says, grinning.
“Quite, dear brother. So, what do you think of it?” Toren questions.
“It’s a lot more dangerous than being a blacksmith’s apprentice, to be sure.” Rasher laughs. “But it’s also a lot more profitable and thrilling.”
“More profitable when you’re not spilling half of our loot all over the ground for bears to eat.” Toren scolds.
“Hey! It wasn’t my fault… I was….” Rasher says, and is then interrupted by Toren.
“Quiet!” Toren says abruptly. “Listen. I hear voices.”
Deep, grunting voices are heard by both men. The language they are using is unknown. Rasher pulls a short sword out of its sheath while Toren loads a small crossbow with a bolt. A moment later, both Toren and Rasher spy orcs. Three orcs in particular. All three appear to be warriors, given how they are adorned in chainmail, shields and swords. Given their recent successes and bursting sacks, Toren looks to his brother and puts his index finger to his lips. There will be no ambush today. These orcs are lucky.
Minutes later, the orcs wander on by and continue onwards, oblivious to the two men skulking only several meters away. A smaller part of a raiding party perhaps, thinks Toren. Soon, the orcs wander off in the direction the two brothers just came from. I hope they enjoy the bear.
“Let’s get going. We’ve dallied around here long enough.” Rasher states. “We’re not far now from our home.”
“I know, brother. I can’t wait to see the look on the faces of the others when they see what we’ve acquired.” Toren quips. The two gather up their gear and sacks and scatter the ashes of the makeshift fire pit. Moving out to the trail once more, they both look in both directions, and upon seeing nothing, move out down the trail once more.
“There it is.” Rasher states, pointing towards the rock face of the cliffside. “Finally.”
“I see it. Let’s go.” Toren says.
The two brothers pick up the pace slightly as they approach the cliff. Toren is the first to reach the clearing immediately in front of the cavern the brothers and others use as a base of operations. Toren immediately stops in his tracks. A look of shock and horror crosses his face. Moving slowly into the clearing, the brothers both notice seven statues of men.
“What has happened here?” Rasher cries out, studying all the statues closely. “Sterm, Gronnon, Yevi! What could possibly do this to them? Toren!”
Toren, in shock at the scene, stutters, “I have no idea brother. Be on guard Rasher! Whatever or whomever did this may still be around.”
“I’m going to check out the cavern, brother.” Rasher says, nervously. Moving over to the cavern entrance, Rasher stop short and freezes in place.
“Fine. I’ll check the area out.” Toren states.
After a few minutes scouring the area, Toren returns and speaks towards his brother. “So, what did you find? Anything?”
“Rasher?” Toren pauses for a moment when no answer is returned. A loud cracking sound erupts. “Rasher? What’s are you doing? Did you find anything out?”
Moving over to the cavern entrance, Toren sees something horrible. With an unnaturally large, distended jaw, a large six-legged lizard has broken what used to be Rasher in two at the waist and is consuming the upper stoned half of his brother. Toren, horrified at the scene, draws his crossbow and places a bolt on it to fire, aims at the monstrous lizard, and sees a pair of green auras radiate from the lizard’s eyes…
An hour later, Rasher and Toren surrender to Merr Kavesh and his Champions willingly. Nearly naked and alone when found by Merr, both men are arrested for crimes against Kadwar. When asked why they deliberately chose to surrender, both men looked at one another and laughed.