At the camp as Ivar is on watch, he hears the beating of wings, large wings, then the sound of something landing and sniffing the air.
From a distance he hears a sinister, profound and dark voice speaking Sylvan
“I swear I smell human blood near by”
Another voice just as malevolent, but not as deep as the first replies
“I smell it too, It may be dead already I hope the heart is still there, but there’s some other scent as well, something else”
Ivar moves a bit on the branch he is on to be able to see who is speaking.
He sees two man-size creatures, the upper torso, neck and head reminds him of a very large dear of blackish blue fur, with great horns that are pitch black. As they speak the elf can see their great fangs. The rest of body, looks like that of some bird of prey such as great eagle with dark green feathers. What he is looking at are two Peryton. Evil, mythical creatures from Nutherwood. Ivar recalls of stories that only enchanted weapons can truly hurt them, something Ivar knows the elves don’t have.
As silently as he can, the ranger wakes the rest of the elves.
The Peryton though finally notices them in the trees, and angrily ask
“Why do you smell of human blood?”
“We had a battle with them, and killed many” says Veg
“Oh you did? Where are the bodies? I do not see them”
“It was not here, but several hours of travel, but why do you care?”
The Perytons look carefully over the group of elves, the Perytons seem initial very confidant seeing how wounded the Rangers are, but start to grow more hesitant and weary, after counting the many fresh ears on the brothers’ necklace, they also notice that Veg and the Witch are in perfect health. Merriladrin is already out of sight, hidden, slowly and silently moving to circle around the Perytons.
“We need human hearts, take us to the fallen humans!” says the largest of the Peryton.
“While I actually think elf will probably taste much better then human flesh… human hearts are necessary for us… we need them to… er well… mate, we’ve tried other types of heart, so far only human hearts seem to work, though I haven’t tried elf heart yet”
“Even if you find that elf heart works, and it’s likely that they won’t, we are few, you won’t mate much. As you can see we have killed well over a dozen humans, more than double of our numbers. We can take you to the humans, If you are willing to wait till tomorrow”
The two Peryton look at each other for a moment then to the elves “Agreed!”
“Is it wise to try to negotiate which such evil creatures?” whispers Elodil to Veg
“We need time, in the morning both I and the Witch will have our magical powers at full strength, as of now they can easily defeat us, we don’t have many options here”
The Perytons perch on a near by tree, both groups rest uneasily and make sure that someone on each side stays on watch of each other.
As the sunrises and the spellcasters are totally refreshed and rapidly finish healing their wounded to full health before taking the Perytons to where they battled the human, it takes most of the day to get there.
As they arrive, the signs of the battle are still evident, but there’s no bodies.
“Perhaps, wolves and bears have gotten to them” says Merriladrin
Veg and the rangers shake their heads in disagreement, the druid replies
“I doubt it, 12 bodies? In just a day? Though the wolves will eat every thing including the bones, 12 bodies is just too much in so little time, it would need to be a huge pack”
The Peryton angerly turn to the elves:
“Wolves, bears, what does it matter, I don’t see any bodies… or hearts, the only hearts around I see … are elven”
“Wait over there look…” points Ivar
In the distance, they see around 20 men, a large wagon with 2 barrels of black goo, and many bodies on it. One of the men is obviously a knight in full plate, on his horse. Something the elves had never seen before.
“Is that a metal golem, that rides?” asks out load the druid
The peryton laugh for a moment,
“No, fool that’s a man in a suit armour, it protects them well, much better than the leather you or the other humans over there are using. Lots of hearts… but lots of weapons as well, elven hearts seem at the moment easier to collect”
“Wait, that large wagon in the forest, is restricted to following the trail they must of opened up, we can easily circle around and ambush them further ahead.” says Elodil “With your help I think we can take them”
“Perhaps…” says a peryton but not like he was convinced of the idea.
“Excellent plan” adds Merriladrin. “You guys attack them all from the same side of the trail, I’ll hide on the opposite side, and try to catch the metal man off guard”
They set their plan in motion, waiting for the humans to arrive. As the humans pass right by them, the plants in front of the group of men seem to come to life, grabbing the few crossbowmen that were in front of the wagon, pulling them to the ground and holding them fast, most of the men were behind the wagon, about half of them suddenly fall a sleep. Panic starts to come over the humans, as in an instant more then half their numbers appear to be out of the fight. Now arrows fly, Ivar’s arrows bouncing harmlessly off the knight’s armour, while Elodil and his brother’s arrows reduce even more the number of men in the fight.
And just as Merriladrin silently jumps from her hiding place towards the knight, he send out a battle cry, the men that were already starting to scramble with just the thought of running for their lives, seem all of a sudden filled with new courage and hope, and start fighting with great valour, some of them return fire on the elves, but with the cover from the forest they don’t seriously wound then, while other men try to awaken their sleeping comrades.
The knight charges on his horse towards Ivar, right before Merriladrin can lay her hands on him. Very frustrated, the she elf stabs in the kidney, a surprised human from her sudden appearance. No quick death this time, the pain is such it paralyses him, the man wants to scream, but he is unable to, she then stabs deep in to his liver, he falls with a mortal wound that will kill him, … in several minutes, while in agonizing pain. But before he reaches the ground, Merriladrin is already in silent pursuit of the knight.
The witch looks to the Perytons concerned and asks
“So when are you going to help?”
Without looking at her, with their eyes fixed only on one thing – the knight -, the Perytons reply
“I doubt you have heard of game called chess, but in it you let the pawns go first,” they add with a grin “it’s a piece you can usually sacrifice”
The knight and horse seem like one being, and easily avoid the trees, and branches, jumps over the small bushes, the knight lance at every instant coming closer and closer to Ivar. The rangers seeing how infective their arrows were against the heavily armoured man, change their target to the horse, downing the animal moments before Ivar’s head would have been cleaned off by the knight’s lance.
As the horse fall, the knight does not and lands on feet with great skill. While forced to drop his lance, he draws his sword with great speed and force, with that motion of pulling the sword from the scabbard, he cuts deeply through Ivar’s arm and belly, deep into muscle and even bone, almost severing his arm with that single cut.
The ranger goes in to shock almost fainting, the knight’s blade starts to descend, to finish off Ivar as Merriladrin jumps on the knight back, and as she is on top of him, she plunges her dagger through the opening of the knight’s visor that he uses to see. The dagger goes deep into his brain through his eye. The knight and Ivar hit the ground at the same time.
The druid runs to his fallen friend, calling upon the several spirit powers to heal the range while he still breathes.
“That’s it you foolish humans come all together” thinks the witch out aloud between her teeth as she sees the humans concentrating around the ones that are sleeping as they try to wake them. She then casts another sleeping spell, leaving very few humans standing that the starbow brothers rapidly take care of with arrows and spear.
“So many hearts!!” exclaim joyfully the Perytons. As they fly over to the sleeping and entangled humans and start tearing out the hearts. “I just love the warm blood!”
Veg with anger in his eyes “Why didn’t you help us? And leave one human alive! We need to interrogate him!”
With a smile on it’s face the larger peryton replies “We can spare one,… oh so many… Well, we were tried, we had travelled all day, besides you really didn’t need our help in the end”. He them takes a serious demeanour, “But as you have facilitated so many hearts, I shall have many children for sure, I feel we owe you, If you elves ever need a favour just come to our cave in Nutherwood, its the highest one right on the southern bank of the Yol river right after the slower rapids”
The druid simply nods conformed, as he sees the spirits replied to his appeals of healing, and Ivar is much better.
The perytons take flight once they have the hearts. As they leave, the large one speaks
“Words, I thought I would never speak, but true… It was … and he he he… will be a great pleasure from meeting you dear elves, take care”
The witch then tries to feel if magic is present on the knight and confirms that armour, shield, sword and a ring are all enchanted.
“So that is why they feared him his sword is enchanted, it can really harm mystical beasts”.
“Not just perytons but elves too!” adds Ivar.
“Merriladrin, do you want the metal man’s ears?” asks Elodil, obviously wanting to add them to his necklace.
“Nah, you can have them, besides I couldn’t have gotten to him if he wasn’t trying to kill you guys instead of me”.
Elodil looks at the two barrels of black goo, the wagon, the human bodies, then at the trial.
“Veg I think the humans didn’t understand the message you left them with that head, they’re a bit stupid you know, may be we should send them a much clearer and louder message”