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Oaken and his Vargr

On a cool fall afternoon, deep in an ancient forest, the suns rays shone, fragmented by large oak branches as they swayed in the gentle breeze. The dark and tangled trees grew up the western side of a small hollow, and as the wind blew from the east it gathered dried leaves and caried them up the bank to dance between the trunks of the great trees.

A large fur covered paw pressed down on a red leaf sitting atop the dirt. The leaf cracked and crumbled as its dry fibers were pressed into the soft dirt by a paw too large and heavy to be of a typical beast.

A shaggy figure on the back of a massive beast stepped out from the shadows of the trees. The figure was large; a human but a sturdy one, covered in muscles and scars, all were visible beneath the sporadic elements of protection that covered his body. A single pauldron made of boiled leather covered his left shoulder, a bracer on the opposite arm covered with sharp barbs, and a leather strap over his chest holding a great sword to his back; these were the only articles of clothing on his torso. His legs were covered in short breeches made of animal hide with fur edging, and his feet were protected by thick leather boots.

The Bandorian, Oaken leaned forward in his saddle and scratched gently behind the right ear of Skoll, his Vargr companion. Skoll’s foot began to scratch the ground involuntarily in response to the affectionate scratches from Oaken. Skolls long soft fur bristled ever so slightly as he leaned his head into Oakens hand. A brief look of disappointment could be seen on Skoll’s face when Oaken finally took his hand away and urged him forward.

It would have been a sight to see if anyone were watching as the large duo plotted along the forest floor. The Vargr were a race of large wolf like creatures, about the size of a large horse; big enough for a full size Bandorian to ride at the very least. Their arms and legs were thicker than a wolf though to support their increased weight, and their muscles could be vaguely seen even through their long soft fur.

Skoll was average size for a Vargr, with long black fur that shone from regular care, brushing and a healthy diet. He had a healthy size to him and looked adequately fed. His eyes showed a glint on intelligence that is only seen in the brightest of canines, and he had an embroidered saddle on his back, made of carefully cured and polished leather; while it had a few nicks in it from seeing battle it still shone as if it had been carefully polished since then.

Skoll sniffed the ground at a spot that was covered by leaves, and Oaken gave a questioning grunt. Skoll pawed at the few leaves pushing them aside and exposed a moist patch of dirt with a slight depression of a footprint in it. “mmhmm” Oaken made agreeable noise without opening his mouth. Skoll sniffed the area repetitively to get a good scent and began to move west out of the hollow and back between the trees of the forest.

Even here out of the hollow the trees were spread out enough to make navigating the forest not too difficult; there was little underbrush below the canopy of the ancient oak trees. Skoll kept his nose low to follow the scent as they continued traveling. Oaken kept his eyes up looking through the trees for any sign of their quarry.

A sharp cry of an upset baby pierced the silence of the forest from far off ahead; too far to see through the forest but not much farther ahead than that. Skol lifted his head in the direction and gave a low growl that rumbled from his chest. “I know Skoll, I know” Oaken said reassuringly in response. He also patted Skoll’s side gently then brushed his hand through the coat to keep him calm.

They continued in the direction of the cry, Skoll now with his head up, no longer needing to his sense of smell to guide them. They were heading for the crying child, but they did not speed up; they knew better than to rush into danger.

Finally, as they neared the source of the crying they saw a small wooden wagon, broken and lying tilted on the ground towards the side with a missing wheel. The missing wheel was lying several feet away smashed in half. Despite the clearly damaged cart there were no bodies nearby and no upturned goods any where in site. There was just a young toddler crying at being abandoned in the cart; it could not be more than a year old and was very distraught. The baby was wrapped in blankets in a small seat that had been converted into a makeshift bed for the baby.

Skoll slowly stalked towards the cart, both he and Oaken looking from left to right and back searching for some sign of danger; but none could be detected. As they got near the cart their focus returned to the small child. Skoll hesitated as they reached the cart, but Oaken urged him forward. Skoll lifted one paw onto the cart then the other and shifted his weight onto it; to stand above the child and look down at it. The whole cart creaked under the weight of both Vargr and his rider, but the baby did not seem to notice, nor did it notice the pair, it just continued to cry. The baby appeared to be upset at least that it had been left without even being wrapped and was probably cold.

Both Skoll and Oaken stared down at the child and stared it in as if considering it for a moment. Then Oaken yelled “Now!” and Skoll lunged forward and sunk his teeth into the small form of the baby, clamping his jaw down, partially impaling it. In one smooth motion he yanked the child from his bed and threw the child away from the cart and hard into the side of a tree. A loud crunch sounded as bones broke against the side of the old tree and the babe fell to the ground.

After a brief moment of silence, a low unnatural otherworldly growl began to rise up from the baby as it began to rise to its feet. A shimmer could now be seen distorting the view of the baby as it moved the light around like a piece of seaweed swaying in the water. When the shimmer was gone the baby was replaced by a small gray creature with long drooping ears, a bald head, beady eyes, and sharp teeth.

The baby had been a changeling, hoping to snare an unexpecting traveler. It could now be seen holding its left arm where it had impacted the tree, and bleeding from the puncture wounds it had been given by Skoll. “You son of a Whore!” a scratchy voice spat out at Skoll and Oaken.

By that time Oaken had dismounted and pulled out his great sword; like Skoll he was standing in a ready stance, unsure of what the changeling would do next. To no ones surprise the changeling crouched back on his feet before springing forward in a charge and leapt at Oaken with his teeth barred and claws outreached. The changeling was on a path for Oaken’s throat when Oaken’s large blade intercepted him, cleaving part of his body, and throwing the creature back the way he came.

Before the creature hit the ground though an outstretch hand grasped the creature’s body and held it at arms length. A small Fomorian, only the size of a human, stood there with two others of similar size behind him. His dark blue skin and all black pupil-less eyes accentuated the deep frown of annoyance that was on his face. He then opened his palm and let the dead changeling fall to the ground at his feet.

“A friend of yours I take it?” asked Oaken to the Fomorian, but the creature did not reply, he simply looked at his two companions then gestured in Oaken and Skoll’s direction. The three of them charged.

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