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The Decoy - by Suabhardus

Rumors were all he had heard of the dark forest bordering the Blood Sea. Bands of ogres trampling even the most fabled heroes dead. Shimmering knights who lived and breathed the ethereal of the dark magics. Many entered the forest in search of something, a great treasure or a hidden passage to the legendary island of the minotaurs or even both. He was desperate, a fool who had gambled away all his and more. It was fear that drove him to the forest, fear of the gods' wrath if he failed to pay his debt. Stories had also been told of those who had failed to pay debts. Men whom simply ceased to exist having broken their word and the bond of gold.

Now he stood at the edge of the Dark Woods, inspecting the northern line of trees which formed an upside down V fading into the distance. Large curls of mist wrapped themselves around the treetops and on this bright day far cast shadows obscured the edges of the forest as if even the light of the sun found cause for caution in this place. Littering the ground around him were many an Appaloosa, wild horse, and packed mule. Upon inspection of the mules he discovered goods from Lyryanoth, E'nat Dae, Mystara, Ranger's Cabin, Riverton, Ruellia, and Sea's End with goods from Mystara and E'nat Dae the most prominent.

Before venturing into the forest he cast spells of protection and heightened awareness upon himself: armor, bless, sanctuary, phantasmal image, shield, and various detection spells. With as much stealth as he could muster he circled the forest, moving quickly to avoid roaming bands of ogres. He used a spell called farsight to spy ahead down the trail with every step lest he become like many the adventurer whom had entered the forest to never be heard from again. The terrain was uneven, with thick fauna and large rocks making progress tiring. Many times he found himself taking brief moments to cast spells of refreshment on himself and it was during these moments of fatigue he felt most vulnerable.

Finally he approached the center of the forest, where even his magical sight could not penetrate the intense darkness. Stumbling through the darkness disoriented he suddenly was overwhelmed with a sharp pain in his back and his own hot blood filling his throat and his life within a sliver of being ended. Spinning about eyes wide a mammoth knight of dark ethereal magic towered over him preparing to land a killing blow. In a panic he fled, as fast as his feet could carry him.

He had evaded the ogres and the ethereal knight. His eyes darting around he heaved a sigh of relief. It was then he felt the many eyes upon him as twenty dark rogues leaped out from shadows. Before the scream of terror could exit his lips more then a dozen spells of magic attacked and shattered his already injured form.

As his body collapsed I paid little mind, he was a useful distraction as I made my way down the eastern path, deftly avoiding ogres and dashing past the ethereal knight and rock toads I heaved a sigh of relief as I jumped down a cliff face onto the sandy beach and finally pulled my mule through the eerie blue light of the portal. Another victim had fallen to the rogues of dark woods and another fortune had been made to fatten my bank account.

June 10, 2006

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