Jariah worked her way through the group, followed by Tristam, and she turned to me, “Where are we going?” she inquired.
“Uh, to the cobalt’s.” I said back, not entirely paying attention to her inquiry.
“What kobolds?” she asked, emphasizing that I mistook the name of those small dragonfolk.
“What is it, the uh-” I strained to find the word, as sweat dripped down my face from beneath my matted hair, which was covered by my inappropriate snow hat.
“Kopru!?” she said in a sideways manner.
“Yeah, the kopru lair.” I said casually.
“We’re gonna go straight to their lair?” she said as she pushed past an overhanging leaf.
“Why not?” I said as I paused in my tracks and thought about the full extent of crashing the lair headlong, “Alright. Fine let’s go to the Lake Village.” I surmised instead.
“Are we gonna go to the Lake Village?” she asked to reaffirm my altered plan.
“Yeah let’s go to the kopru lair.” I said, flopping my mind around once more, and began to walk off once again.
I turned to look over my shoulder when Jariah didn’t respond. She was standing there with her hand on her hip and she looked annoyed. She told me that she didn’t think that these hunters were ready to march across the desert that was required to cross to reach the lair of the kopru.
“Aw what? They can’t make it through the desert?” I asked plaintively.
Jariah looked steadfast in her assumption.
“Why can’t they make it through the desert?” I demanded politely.
“Well they did just trek through this jungle.” she said.
I took a look around and realized we had trekked quite a ways. The excitement of potentially killing things had my blood going this whole time. Now that I was aware of that, I felt like I needed to slow down.
“Alright let’s camp out on the edge of this jungle then.” I said, nodding my head that that was the right move.
We moved a little ways farther through the jungle and found a nice clear area that we could use to make a night’s camp. It didn’t take long for us to set up our site, these hunters were used to sleeping in these jungles after all. Nightfall came soon after we had our site sufficiently set up. A small fire was lit and most of us huddled around its comforting light. What was nice was that those that didn’t take refuge by the fire positioned themselves on the perimeter of our camp in protective watch. These guys meant business. As we sat around the fire I heard once more the soft growl of a sabertooth in the distance, wahhhh-wheow-wheaow-wheow! If it was the same one I thought I heard before I could not say, but what I can say is that I never met that tiger face to face, and that was fine with me.
I could see the moon creep over the edges of the dunes lying lazily upon the verge of the horizon, and with it she brought the cold winds, howling over the sands like whistling wraiths. Those around the fire huddled closer together for warmth against the shrill winds. I saw Jariah and a strange hunter chatting in her language, others were intently watching them.
My curiosity was piqued and I felt the urge to interject. I asked her what was so interesting in their topic of conversation.
She said a few more words to the man and then turned to me, “There is one of the villages that are under kopru control,” she said as she turned back to the man and quickly said a few more words, and he quickly answered, “Like to the east of here, and it is like night.” she said with a hint of something in her words.
“Alright.” I said slowly in response, not fully catching on to her sly proposition.
“Get what I’m sayin’?” she asked in a manner that told me the answer was obvious.
“Alright, yeah, let’s go.” I said, jumping to my feet, still unsure of what she meant but not revealing my uncertainty.
“All of us? All eighteen of us?” she asked in confusion.
I simply nodded my head in response.
She looked unsure but followed my order and turned back to the man and said some words in their language. The man looked to me, then back to Jariah. He nodded his head and smiled, he turned back and yelled loudly, barking orders to his fellow elfmen. I heard the disgruntled groans of those pulling themselves out of their bedrolls.
I couldn’t understand them but I figured that some of their complaints went as follows:
“Alright. God damn it. I mean I did agree to this shit, but now…”
“Ar’ey oughtta dos’tua”
“It is like eleven o’clock”
“It’s like whey past my bedtime glob damn it!”
And so on…
Anyways, it only took a few minutes before we were ready to depart. Some of the men left their tents up and their traveling gear here at camp, in mind of returning quickly. I did the same. Too bad many of the tents wouldn’t have any owners by the time we returned.
I told Jariah to locate the man she was speaking with and have him lead on. He quickly appeared and led us once more into the jungle. We moved slowly and quietly through the brush, keeping our presence as undetectable as possible.
It took us nearly two hours to reach our destination. I could see the lights dimly in the distance long before we reached the edge of the village.
I looked quite similar to the Lake Village, huts scattered in a rough resemblance to a circle. A great fire raged in the center of the village, emblazoning a beacon for miles. The strange thing about this village was that it was quite inhabited, only the citizens of this place were walking around aimlessly, like drones with no job to fulfill. Quite eerie.
I could feel the presence of the arcane. I strained to see further into the village for any sight of those wretched creatures known as kopru. I spotted it. In the center of town standing behind the great fire, pointing in different directions, playing the puppeteer to these unfortunate souls. Its slimy tentacles covering its beak-like mouth were continuously coiling in random patterns and the flickering lights of the fire were dancing amongst the thick scales covering its serpentine body. Quite disgusting and strangely enticing.
Fortunately that was the only beast I could sense.
I scanned the area as the hunters spread out behind me, whispering amongst each other in hushed voices, obviously perturbed.
I decided that I would sneak in incognitos and take out the kopru before he even knew what hit him. I turned to Jariah who was kneeling next to me. I whispered to her to inform her men that I would take her and Tristam and sneak into the village, hut to hut, and take out the kopru, successfully rescuing this village, and if the situation should escalate, that the hunters should charge in to assist us. Perfection.
“Are you sure the three of us can do this?” asked Jariah as she turned to look into the middle of the village, “This is an adult kopru.” she said with unease.
“Well they are gonna rush in if shit goes dowun.” I said confidently.
“Well it’s always gonna go dowun!” she hissed at me.
“Alright, I’ll rush in right now then.” I said, as an empty threat.
“Are you really gonna lead this charge?” she asked, calling my bluff.
I saw Tristam, like he always does, disappear into the darkness of the brush, seeing the possibility of our detection growing more evident as Jariah and I bickered more intently. I decided to quiet down then.
“Alright yeah, let’s do it.” I said, unsure of what I was really planning on doing.
Jariah stared at me uneasily. I was about to reassess my decision and go back to the sneaking plan, but then, in the back of my mind, I could hear the voices of my brothers-in-arms, the voices of Muzgash and Axehammeran, replacing the voice of my own subconscious. They were saying:
“DO IT DA’LOACH!”
So I decided to do it. Full on charge, a caution to the wind, fuck it kind of charge. True recklessness. What was the worst that could happen to me, right?
Jariah looked to me, then to her hunters, and back to me. She told me that they were hoping that I would lead the charge, since I boasted that I would rid the Island of the kopru menace.
“Yes.” I said, mainly to myself. I could feel my heart beating faster, and my senses beginning to tingle with anticipation. I would have kopru blood tonight.
I looked at my small army of hunters, nodded to them, readied my orb and my dagger in hand and burst forth from the bush, roaring like a true berserker, “RAHHHHHHHHH!”