Rhogar followed the dirt road west until tall green pines began to spring up on the north side. A sound caught his attention and he paused to listen more carefully, it was the sound of water lapping gently against a bank somewhere nearby. Rhogar squinted and through the trees he could see a flash of light playing off of its source, a pond or a lake to the northwest. He surveyed the road before him, the dirt path seemed to twist off toward the lake to the west. THe south side was now a steep rock hillside that seemed to have spilled a handful of boulders out onto the road long ago. One boulder in particular loomed giant and beautiful in the morning light.
“Stay where you stand friend, or you may die a surprising death.” an urgent whisper from the trees to Rhogar’s right. He spun around with his axe and swiped at the air where the voice should’ve been.
“Easy!” An Elf emerged quietly from the underbrush with an unstrung bow held high above his head. “I mean you no ill, friend, but there lies an ambush for us just ahead, hidden just beyond those boulders. A dwarf and at least one human. Turn back now or stay and help, but do not ruin my chance to get the better of them!”
Before Rhogar could respond the Elf had strung his bow and nocked and arrow from his quiver into it. The Elf began to fade back into the forest and paused momentarily to gesture for Rhogar to join him. Rhogar nodded and followed the elf into the woods. The ranger moved like a cat through the dried pine needles and twigs, he pointed as he went letting Rhogar know where to step in order to stay as quiet as possible. Before long they came upon a copse of trees that provided a higher vantage point of the road below.
The vantage revealed that the giant boulder was providing cover for an armored dwarf and two shabby looking humans. To Rhogar they looked more bored than alert, but they were definitely hiding from someone.
“Who are they?”, Rhogar whispered.
“No idea, but their ambush seems pretty indiscriminate. I can pick one off from here.” the Elf said and raised his bow to take aim.
“Wait.” Rhogar places a hand on the elf. “These could be villagers from Lochsburg… the guard told me they’d set out just this morning.”
The Elf looked annoyed but shrugged. “Then, what do you suggest?”
“A distraction… we’ll see how they react first.” Rhogar grabbed a handful of rocks. He plucked the largest one out of the pile and threw it toward the rocky hillside on the far side of the divide. The rock struck and unleashed a slide of small rocks which tumbled harmlessly down the hillside.
The Dwarf was first to his feet and brandishing a shiny mace. “Ye two! Get ready t’go warn Vroman, A’ll take of this.” The humans nodded and scrambled clumsily to their feet.
The dwarf jumped from behind the boulder out onto the road to see nothing. He looked surprised and glanced around nervously. “I don’ see nuthin’, ye’d best go warn Vroman anyway…”
Rhogar nodded once to the elf and before he could nod again the elf had let an arrow fly. One of the humans was running to the west before the tip of an arrow appeared through the front of his chest, and he slumped forward onto his face. The other human looked down and his eyes grew wide, he fell back in surprise just in time to miss another arrow which whizzed by inches from his face.
The dwarf spun around and saw the fallen scout, “GO! As fast as ye’can! Ah’ll cover ye’!” The dwarf jumped toward the copse of trees, “Get out here ye cowards! Hidin in th’trees, have ye no bravery?”
Rhogar leapt down from their hiding spot with a roar swinging his axe down upon the dwarf and sinking it deep within the dwarf’s shoulder and said, “You know, sometimes…”
The dwarf howled in pain but shook his shoulder free and swung back at Rhogar with his mace only to be met by Rhogar’s thick scaly hide, ”... the smartest thing to do…”
The elf unleashed another arrow, this time his aim was true as it found a home deep within the fleeing human’s eye socket.
The dwarf growled and struck out again with his mace catching Rhogar on the side of the face. Rhogar grunted under the blow but turned back and continued, ”... is also the bravest.” Rhogar ducked underneath the dwarf’s next strike and spun around in a full circle and leveling the other bladed end of his mighty axe into the dwarf’s neck just as one of the elf’s arrows struck into the dwarf’s open mouth. The stubby body staggered comically back on its stout legs and finally dropped to the ground as a bloody pool grew wide and red around it.
The elf emerged from the trees to stand next to Rhogar who knelt to search the dwarf’s lifeless body. He rose up again holding a small wooden token painted red. “Hrm.”
“I like that saying, friend.” the elf offered.
“Rhogar. And thanks, it was my father’s.” the dragonborn held the token up for the elf to see.
The elf shrugged as if to say, I’ve no clue. “Call me Martin.”
“Martin. Let’s see if we can find this Vroman character, and if he has any answers.”
Martin nodded as Rhogar slid the token into his pack and the new companions continued cautiously along the muddy shores of the lake to the west.