Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


Sleep comes quickly, but in the bitter cold of the night it proves fleeting. Within the protection of the stone outcrop you are sheltered from the worst of the bluster, however there is little comfort to be found. From the north the wind blows in a rising gale, sending ripples through the wide grassland around you, insinuating its cold touch through stone and clothing alike. With no fire to provide warmth you must rely instead on your heavy travel cloak, but the winds are relentless and a deep sleep eludes you. It is an uncomfortable night, and one that passes slowly because of it.
It is in the early hours of the morning that you are brought awake by an urgent feeling of foreboding, one that settles upon you like a cold hand at your shoulders. As you open your eyes you see Pallenten staring out into the night, her dark bulk outlined by the barest glimmers of moonlight against an overcast sky. Her alert posture tells you all you need to know. Although you cannot see it there is something out in the darkness, and it is on the hunt, searching for prey. For a while you lay beneath the relative protection of your cloak and listen out into the night. Above the russle of the grasses you can hear little, but as you focus on the rush of the winds you begin to identify the first sounds of something moving towards you. It is indistinct but punctuates the night air, and it is definitely getting closer.
Quietly you draw your sword and pull Pallenten further into the shadows of the outcrop. Your horse also senses that something is amiss, and as you stare out into the dark you can do little but wait. About you the wind grows stronger, pushing the overcast of the night in ragged streams to the south. In the darkness you begin to see stars and quickly the sky clears. It is then that you discover the reason for your anxiety.
Against the deep void of the night sky there is a dark shape moving from the south. Quickly it is joined by another, and as you watch the group veers slightly to the west. Although you cannot see them clearly you know that they are Kreal, and with this knowledge you pull Pallenten further into the boulders and take a firmer hold upon your sword.
From some uncharted nesting ground in the far Krodestaag Mountains the huge winged reptiles have arisen to search the dark plains for prey. Within the protection of the outcrop you watch as the creatures move quickly towards you, their fifteen metre long wings beating at the air as they make for the Sempaca herds that can be found in the north. In the shadows of the outcrop you can do little but watch, and hope that the Kreal take no interest in you or your horse. It is a truth that there are few Men that can say they have survived the attentions of such predators.
Caught in the close surrounds of the boulders you hold Pallenten and wait for the Kreal to pass. The huge flying reptiles soar high overhead, soundless as they glide upon the winds, before disappearing into the north-west. For a short time you watch them as they shrink into the darkness, then relax as you realise they have indeed passed. For once you surmise, Fate has given you a reprieve, and the appearance of the Kreal has proven little more than a further disturbance in a night that has thankfully passed without conflict.
Wide awake, there is little point in trying to return to sleep. For a short time you brush Pallenten down and attend to her watering. As you do so the first lightening of sunsrise grows in the east and as the first of the morning suns rises upon the mists you spend a moment watching as the world comes to life. Deep reds and purples colour the horizon as you look out to the east, and as the sky brightens you begin to see the life of the plains emerge from their own refuges from the night. To the west you can hear ground birds running through the tall grass in search of insects, and to the south a solitary wild pig digging for roots at the edges of another boulder outcrop. These are sounds familiar to you, but in the cool air of the dawn you feel most keenly the after-effects of your night in the open. The stiffness of cold joints takes up your full attention as you try to stretch your muscles after the forced inactivity of the night. Deciding to now risk a small fire you find a few pieces of wood and make yourself a hot meal. As you eat you can hear Pallenten grazing on the plains beyond the entrance to the outcrop. After clearing away your eating utensils you walk out into the field and call her. At first you cannot see her and a small measure of anxiety creeps into your voice as you call again. Almost immediately an answering whinny comes from behind a pile of large boulders. After a moment the big horse trots out from behind the rocks and breaks out into a gallop before coming to a halt before you.
As the horse stands there you can sense that something is wrong. She is motionless, a look of unease in her eyes. Suddenly, as if by some distant command, she rears on her hind legs and turns and races for the far off forest road.
For a moment you do not understand what has happened, but then you remember the Tak Lovar's words. Pallenten was only to take you as far as the foothills, and she has answered some unheard command to return home. Standing at the edge of the outcrop you ponder the uncomfortable truth that the rest of your trek must continue on foot. For some time you watch the great horse disappear into the haze of the morning and the forests beyond. Your task will be all the more difficult now without her strength to aid you. It is easy to admit to yourself that you had come to depend upon that horse a lot.
Collecting your belongings you strap your sword to your waist, shoulder your pack and begin the last leg of your journey to Stoneholme.

The fitful sleep does not return much of your strength but the hot food makes you feel much better. Restore four points to your endurance rating and then turn to section 107.

This book, and its associated books and other documents in the Chronicles of Arborell series are the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. Windhammer is best viewed at 1024 x 768 resolution. Any questions regarding the Chronicles of Arborell can be answered by emailing the author at densleyw@shoal.net.au
Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved