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Heroes of Mystara - Prologue

by Jesper Andersen

Lunadain 15th, Klarmont, the Year 1000 after Crowning

Wulfgar jolted up in his sleep and looked around. The forest was quiet and in the camp everyone was sleeping except for trusty old Whitemane, who had the watch. The dwarf looked at him inquisitively, but Wulfgar dismissed his attention with a wave of his hand. He scratched his armpit and looked up at the clear, full moon above the woods of Machetos. Wulfgar was as brave as warriors come, but he still felt a chill run down his spine when he thought of the werewolf that had wounded him in these woods just three weeks past. If the priests in Kerendas had not been able to cure him of lycanthropy he would have been running, howling, mad with the burning blood this very night... He pushed the thought aside and lay down to rest again.

In the grass next to him lay the half-elf Thaminor sleeping, his bow and arrows ready in case they were attacked during the night. They were still a good way from the crossing at Blackpoint and Rugalov but even on this side of the river there were supposedly many dangerous creatures lurking about in the forest at night. It did not seem to disturb the half-elf's sleep, however, as he lay dreaming with a smile on his youthful face.

Whitemane, so aptly named for the snowy whiteness of his hair and beard, put another piece of wood on the fire and looked around. Somewhere in the woods an owl was howling. He stood up and turned his back to the campfire and looked out into the darkness. Compared to most places he had travelled to over the years, this bit of road was quiet and dull. The imperial patrols kept the coastal road safe for merchants and other travellers and it was really not until they reached the other side of the river and crossed into the Grand Duchy of Karameikos that he expected any action. When he turned, the dwarf saw Ikaros Ilfamion, the party's wizard, dreaming in his sleep and hugging the sack that contained his most prized possession; his spellbook. When they had first met on the riverboat coming down the Hillfollow River from Duke's Road Keep to Penhaligon, Whitemane had been most inclined to toss the Glantrian overboard. But that was almost two months ago and since then the dwarf had learned if not to like his company then at the very least to appreciate the wizard's usefulness in battle. Besides, Ikaros had surprised him. Sure, he was just as crazy for power as any other damned conjurer but he seemed to have a respect for other people and other races that most of his countrymen lacked.

The horses were standing quietly nearby. Petja had tied their legs together with a short piece of rope. They could move around and eat but would not stray too far. Petja, what a character! The old dwarf smiled when he remembered their first meeting at a jeweller's store in Kelvin a couple of months back. Thaminor, Wulfgar, Ikaros and himself had returned from an expedition into the wild woods south of the moor and Petja had attached himself to their party to take care of their horses on the way to Specularum. Once in the capital, the young Traladaran had proven himself to be most useful in a fight and his dubious contacts in the underworld had helped when the party had undertaken looking for the missing assistant of Kathkallan Halonica and his vanilla contracts. In the end, they ended up fighting a band of Vipers - thugs and thieves from the port city of Athenos in Darokin - who apparently worked for someone wishing the House of Halonica ill.

Petja was sleeping restfully, probably dreaming of the tempting harlots in the Street of Dreams in Specularum or some other pleasurable place. Whitemane liked the young fellow a lot, although he never cared to show it much, and he only wished that Petja would put aside that flimsy rapier, he always carried, and pick up a real man's weapon one day...