Shadow Hunters

Safety in Storms III: By Gaston Redcap

Part 8- Stride

Safety in Storms: The life of a sorcerer
By Gaston Redcap
First draft

Stride

Dear reader, I don’t want to do this anymore. The whatever-it-is is killing my libido muse. I can’t make it work anymore and I don’t think it is the wine. The changeling drow is quite happy with my unhappiness at the moment.

“Have you ever been so desperate to please that you turned on your ally for the respect of another?” the drow is speaking so I guess this means I should write some more. I answered that I was once very hungry, but now as my carriage awaits I a…a…ah to the nine hells with it! I am a poor cheap bard dear reader. I haven’t made decent coin for years and I followed this drow for hopes of fame and fortune. Forgive my lies, I no longer wish to invest in them.

“Yes, I have turned on a friend” I tell her “My pet dragonling and I were starving and we started to take the forms of cooked chicken legs and sweets in each other’s eyes. He would have ripped my neck out for sure until I remembered I could just unsummon him.”

The drow gave pause to measure my stupidity, but you had to be there dear reader, I was out of my mind with starvation. The changeling or drow spoke again “My master had many plans, which as I said before lacked interest to me, but apart from myself, his razorclaw slave was a key weapon or tool in his plots.” The drow seems to be lost in memory now, and not speaking. I welcome the break in translation since it really can’t speak well at all.

“The razorclaw was named Stride. I met him and was jealous that he pulled so much attention from my master, but as time passed, I found his council to be helpful and as selfish as I am, he didn’t mind focusing on my life. Had he not been a slave…” at this moment your bard started to feel sick again “Do not besmirch my memory Gaston! Stride had heart, and love, and desire for peace when chained among animals as a slave! This is depth that I will never achieve! I would have been his follower, his acolyte, his son had not my upbringing taught me he was beneath me!” She gestures!

Blinded in darkness I was! I could not see for the drow had filled the room with clouds of darkness, yet I could feel the singe of lightning cross my brow and body at close range, so I did not move. How foolish of me to follow a pretty girl, only to end up on death’s door. The clouds parted, and the drow was holding herself arms crossed. His form, it’s form…

“Pardon me, dear bard, I was taught this style of anger communication by a fighter and it is growing on me. I had much preferred bluffs and other forms of trickery to the direct use of emotion. Now, my master told Stride to change his religion, to form a bond with the local temple. A symbol was made of Melora with a blackbird inside. Stride was captured by monsters deep in the mountain. This frustrated the followers of the Raven Queen since the follower was just granted to them, but master seemed pleased. I was told to become Stride and when I had forgotten small details my master corrected me. I made a good razorclaw. I was told that one day I would be on the surface again. Was I to be thrown aside? No, he was planting me, and I had purpose, but wasn’t told what it was. Stride seemed to have more going on in his head in the last days I saw him. I was only interested in myself of course so I never questioned the slave about his worries.”

The drow is now going upstairs, I follow to keep in earshot, because I think she forgot she was talking to me. The stairs creak and that creak echoes through the eerie room. “Master told me that he had plans for travelers who had been in the great hall for some days. I knew the naïve party. They had brought poor Fie Vemaru to his death. Write that down, Fie’s death was the Shadow Hunter’s fault not mine.” I remembered her saying the wench party was powerful, but now I’m quite happy, if things go awry, the Shadow Hunters may appear and save assist save me! Is there a summoning word I wonder?

“Plans were in motion, I was kept up on Stride’s actions by my master, but I don’t know how he got such information: Stride was now able to become a large cat, He had made ties to the party members, he had made a small profit. Word-for-word recounts were given to me. My next act was to wait for Stride to show. He would fill me in on key emotional and unseen elements and I would switch places as master had wanted, Stride’s future was unknown to me and I cared little.” The drow sits in a chair upstairs in a dusty cobwebbed bedroom deep in thought.

“Stride finally appeared as a large feline, chaos ran through the streets, then when we saw his face in razorclaw form he was full of life and it was easy to tell that the party had made him feel reborn. He had trouble bowing to his master in that moment of zeal. I was unable to look at my master at the moment, both out of fear and I was killing those orcs that had followed Stride. To others, my lightning arc was faster than thought, but for me it was as slow as mushroom jam, I saw arrows flying from my master. I pushed my arc through Stride. I felt many things: pleasure that master would focus on me, happiness that Stride was truly free, anger that he was happy before me, excitement to steal his life and friends, guilt for snuffing out the light of my only counsel.” The changeling drow now looks at me, but I look away. “I was given his clothing, and his symbol of Melora, which he may have abandoned much earlier than that. I felt more tantalized at the thought of becoming a good person the easy way.”

I am looking out the window, realizing it was facing the forest and the back of the Inn where the drow had informed me bodies lay. “Am I to take it that Stride is back there?”

The drow looked at me with some amusement “He was no orc, a single blast by me and some arrows? I was ‘killed’ by my master as well but I still breathe. No, he is buried much deeper. He is buried in intrigue and plots and lies and the dealings of…” Her expression changes as if she crossed some line, lilts her head in a look of ‘what’s done is done’ and walks to a closet. The closet has loose door and bloats as if overstuffed, I think I see a humanoid shape in it.

“Now you will hear of Adasunu”

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