Welcome back for a brand new adventure =)
Frost layers the bushes and trees and even the long bladed grass in the meadow with a coating of thick white crystals. No breath of wind touches those layered plants and the soft scampering of a squirrel can be heard in the near silence. To most, the early morning stillness hanging over the meadow would appear normal, just like any of a dozen other meadows you might find in the clear rays of morning sun. But this is no normal place. A faint smell, chamomile and lavender, sweetens the frost scent in the air.
“She’s not here,” Hertzmer grumbles at your shoulder. Even though his deep voice is soft, it breaks the silence like the hollow thud of a drum. The squirrel chatters at him in startled agitation.
You shoot a glare his way and then give a long sniff.
He copies your action by breathing deeply through his thick mustache. Perhaps the mustache muffles the scent. It takes him several sniffs to pick up the chamomile and lavender, but then a grin breaks through his bush of a beard.
He almost stands but you catch his arm to remind him to stay put. The chatter of the squirrel has finally stopped and nothing stirred when it burst forth but that does not mean no one is watching.
You know, for one, that Cam is out there somewhere. Until she shows herself, you are to stay hidden.
Finally, after several more nervous minutes of waiting, something moves in the tree line to your left.
A thin figure motions for you to join her with the pre-arranged signal of three fingers against her lips.
You’re not fast enough this time to catch Hertzmer. He bolts toward Cam’s position by the most direct path possible, straight across the frosted meadow. His steps leave large ovals in the otherwise undisturbed grass.
Cam’s original signal turns into a gasp of dismay. Unless the day turns unusually warm, those prints wont disappear for hours. They sit there like beacons for anyone who might happen by, for although Hertzmer’s broad chest and gruff exterior might be deceiving, he’s still a halfling who walks around bare footed. The print of his big toe sticks out like it’s pointing the way.
If anyone sees those, they’re sure to follow Cam and Hertzmer. Like all other halflings, he’s been banned from the country. A person would follow just for the bounty of gold they’d receive when they turned him in to the magistrate.
On all of your dozens of missions to smuggle halflings to safety, you’ve stopped here and let Cam take them the rest of the way to the boarder, but you can’t leave those prints.
With a dead branch in hand, you begin to dance through the meadow, brushing away both halfling and human prints alike.
“Hey,” shouts an unfamiliar male voice. “What’re you doing there?”
You freeze. Three prints remain in front of you as you look over your shoulder toward the voice. As you do, Cam pulls Hertzmer backward to melt into the tree line.
Three men emerge from the trees across the meadow. They carry that look about them, the frayed clothing and the mismatched weaponry, that warns they’re hunters. Unscrupulous and unshaven, such men will do anything for a bounty.
They walk your way with suspicious expressions. If they get much closer, they’ll see the few remaining prints and be hot on Cam’s trail. Probably after disposing of you because they wouldn’t want to chance you’re a hunter too.
Do you act crazy to distract them or run to mislead them?
A. Act Crazy?
Thank you for joining in this adventure. Leave your vote in the comments below. We’ll return next Thursday to follow whichever option received the most votes =)