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.