The Delsani party left Valora and were on their way to the city of Pimeria. It was a city well known for its artisan bread. People from all around the area would travel to Pimeria specifically to purchase their bread. The people of the city had several secret ingredients that they use. Each bread shop had their own special ingredient that distinguished them from each other. There was a yearly competition where the audience chose the best bread. It was a good time had by all.
When Moralie told Zeke that this was where they were headed, he couldn’t wait to get there. He was hungry from having skipped breakfast. His mouth watered as he thought about eating all of the bread that was available. He was sure that he could afford it now that he was well paid for his presence on this quest. He hoped that most of the quest would be this quiet. In the back of his mind he wondered just what Rafe and the others needed him for. They were clear that they needed a wizard and he was the best candidate since Gresar was away. He started to get anxious. What if he wasn’t able to do what they needed him to do, whatever it was? Doubt started to eat away at him, but he kept the bad thoughts at bay because it didn’t do to be anxious on an empty stomach.
The party was now traveling through the wooded part of the countryside. This worked out for them because the sun had become more intense as the morning faded into afternoon. The trees shielded them from the sun and left everything cool and serene. The trees were alive with the sound of birds above them. The songs of birds put everyone at ease and helped them enjoy their surroundings. While they wanted to reach Pimeria as quickly as possible, they weren’t in that much of a hurry at the moment.
The wind blew through the trees in an easterly direction. It carried the scent of fresh leaves and wild grass. Simon liked the smell of nature. It reminded him of his childhood on the farm. He had always been outside either playing in the grass fields or helping his father till the land. He loved to get his hands into the soil and watch it crumble in his hands. It felt good. He sometimes wished for the simpler life of a farmer, but adventuring was the only way to bring money back to the farm. So he left his family behind and hit the road. He had been traveling with Rafe for several years now and everything had worked out just fine.
The wind came again, but this time it came from the westerly direction. Simon caught a hint of something in the air that spelled danger. He instantly knew that they were no longer alone. He stopped his horse and whistled to Rafe and Moralie to stop.
“What’s going on?” Zeke asked, not liking that they had stopped.
“There’s something foul in the wind,” Simon replied. He looked around them for any sign of danger. He couldn’t see anything, but that only spoke to how good the present danger was at hiding. “Someone is hunting us.”
“Hunting?” Zeke gulped. So much for a nice quest journey to Mount Death. “What do we do?”
“We prepare to defend ourselves,” Rafe said climbing off her horse. When she touched ground, she drew her sword and readied herself for battle. Moralie and Simon slid off their horses and stood their ground.
Zeke was scared. He had never had to worry about defending himself before. He was not prepared for this type of situation. Is this what his master had to deal with all the time? He wished that his master had gotten this quest instead of him. He looked wide eyed at his new companions and waited for instructions. He thought about getting off of his horse, but he didn’t want to go through the embarrassment of trying to get back on it if he survived this. He took a deep breath and slowly descended the horse. He stood with the others with their backs against each other, all looking outward for the enemy.
Nothing happened for five minutes. It was just the four of them standing in a collective bunch waiting for anything and everything. Zeke was beginning to feel a little bit better and hoped that Simon had been wrong. That was when it started.
The next thing they knew, Moralie gave a loud “Oof!” and was suddenly on the ground. They all turned to help her, but then Rafe was on the ground as well. Then Simon. Zeke was the only one left standing. That lasted for about a minute before he felt a sharp pain in his stomach and was felled. Someone had just punched him in the stomach, but he didn’t see anyone. There wasn’t anyone around for miles, just them and the horses. The horses looked fine; they didn’t care about what happened to the freeloaders.
Everyone had the wind knocked out of them. Rafe and Simon recovered quickly as the stood up. Rafe put her sword out in front of her and hoped that it would discourage another attack. Simon made fists and green flames engulfed them. Moralie struggled to stand up. Zeke helped her up and stood with her.
“Everyone be ready for a second attack,” Rafe said.
“That’s easy to say when you don’t know who or what is attacking you,” Moralie countered.
“Shadow Walkers.” Simon sniffed the air as the breeze returned. He knew that subtle hint of wet sand and cinnamon anywhere. “They have us surrounded.”
“What are Shadow Walkers?” Zeke asked.
Simon was about to reply, but he was struck in the face by a large rock. This caused him to stumble backward a few steps, but he didn’t fall down. “Stop hiding and face us, you cowards!” He wiped the blood from his face. The green fire licked at his wound.
Zeke suddenly got an idea. He took his backpack off and reached inside for the spell book. It was large and purple, stuffed with superfluous papers complete with spells written in bad handwriting. He flipped through the pages, careful not to accidentally pull one out until he found the spell that he was looking for. He placed his finger on the spell and quickly read it. It was fairly simple.
“To all who dwell inside the dark, reveal yourselves within this spark!” A sphere of golden light appeared in front of him. It hovered in front of his face for a moment before it soared up into the trees and exploded into a million bright lights. The light shone so brightly that every shadow disappeared.
Men wearing all black, faces covered except their eyes, were revealed standing in various positions surrounding them. They all had their weapons drawn, some with swords, some with sais, others with shurikens. They didn’t like that they were suddenly visible; they tried to shield their eyes from the bright light. They were at a loss of what to do for a brief moment, but then decided that they still had a job to do. They raced forward and attacked.
Rafe fought against four Shadow Walkers in sword play. Rafe was holding her own, making sure not to expose her back to any one of them for too long. The Shadow Walkers came at her with everything they had. Rafe deftly sliced one of the Walkers in the gut, causing him to fall and collect his innards. She gave him a swift kick in the back of the head and knocked him forward, face down in his own guts. The other Walkers took a moment to pause, reevaluating whether they wanted to continue this course of action. Their master’s call for blood was strong. They lunged forward on all sides and aimed their swords at Rafe’s head. Rafe ducked and punched the one in front of her in the groin and sliced his left leg off. He cried out in pain as he fell. The remaining two pulled Rafe off the ground and held her at sword point.
“Now you die,” one of them said. Something flew past Rafe’s head and connected with something soft. Rafe looked behind her and saw that the Walker that was holding her had just received a dagger to the forehead. He fell over backward and died.
Rafe waved at Moralie and smiled. Moralie was going to wave back when she saw that a Walker was approaching Rafe from behind. Rafe took her sword and acted like she was going to sheath her sword, but instead stabbed the walker as he walked into her blade. She grunted as she pulled the sword out of the man’s body and allowed him to fall to the ground. “No sweat.” She turned to see what other trouble she could get into.
Three Shadow Walkers ran at Moralie with their sais drawn. She took out her throwing daggers and sent one to each of her attackers. Two hit their marks right in the throat, while the third one used his sais to block the attack. “Two out of three ain’t bad,” she said to herself. She knew that this guy was too smart to fall for another dagger attempt. She was going to have to get up close and personal. She took out a slightly bigger dagger and invited her attacker to come a little closer.
The Walker jumped at the chance and made a bold attempt to stab her in the throat. Moralie deflected the attack with her dagger and gave him a kick in the ribs. This caused the walker to stumble for a moment, but he came back stronger. He swung his sais at her, but Moralie was able to step back. She kicked high and knocked the sai out of his left hand. She spun around and kick the other one out of his hand. The walker growled in frustration. He bent down to reach for them and quickly found that his hand now had a throwing dagger sticking in it. He cried out in pain as he tried to pull it out. Moralie reached down and pulled it out and used it to slit his throat. He gurgled as the blood began to spout out of him. She pushed him down and left him to die. She went to reclaim her daggers.
Simon didn’t wait for the Shadow Walkers to come to him, he ran to them, which caught them off guard. They saw how angry he looked and some decided to make a run for it. Simon didn’t want them going anywhere. His fists ignited in green flames. He ran up on the first walker and punched him in the gut. The fire soon engulfed him and he crumbled to pieces. He did the same to the second walker he came across. He saw that there were a group of them running for their lives. Simon sent a wide blast of green fire through the woods and incinerated the fleeing walkers. Satisfied with his work, he clapped his hands and the flames went out.
Rafe, Moralie, and Simon looked around the area to see if there were any Shadow Walkers left. There were bodies strewn all around them. Moralie was counting them and marking them down in a little notebook.
The light from Zeke’s spell was starting to fade. Shadows were once again forming throughout the woods. The party breathed a collective sigh of relief. They had survived the encounter and no one important was killed. Rafe cleaned the blood off her sword before she sheathed it. Moralie finished recording the event and placed her notebook in her pocket. Simon walked over to Zeke and helped him up. Zeke held the book triumphantly against his chest.
“That little spell really helped us out,” Simon said.
“Aww, it was nothing really,” Zeke felt heat rise up in his face. “You guys were amazing! I want to learn how to fight like that!”
“If all goes well, you won’t need to fight.” Rafe looked to Zeke and smiled. “Now let’s be on our way. Pimeria awaits.”
Rafe and Moralie climbed onto their horses and prepared to start their journey again. As Simon climbed on his horse, he thought about what had just happened. Someone knew of their plans and were waiting for them. They had definitely made an enemy somewhere along the way. It wasn’t the first he’s faced and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but now he knew that they were being watched. The party trotted through the woods with no further problems.