Elian crouched low, examining the ground for tracks. He knew where they had taken Aria, Tsir had found that out, but they did not know what route the mercenaries had followed.
He could hear the sounds of Shard trying to make conversation with Tsir, who uttered not a word in return, from the nearby camp. Mera was tethered there and Shard was trying to start a fire.
He had found the tracks the mercenaries left, among many tracks left by the other inhabitants of these woods. Something large had passed this way, not too long ago judging by the freshness of the tracks. Elian decided to investigate. If they were in danger of attack by a creature, he would like to know what it was.
Moving swiftly through the trees, Elian came to the edge of the forest and onto the mountainside. The golden sun was setting in the west, casting an orange glow about the land, bathing them in its warmth. He embraced the cold breeze that swept across the side of the mountain, throwing up leaves in his path.
As he looked about him, Elian saw two shapes standing further up the mountainside. One stood on two legs, its bulk evident from here, and the other on all fours. As Elian moved closer he could make out what they were.
One was a troll, standing ten foot tall, carrying a large spiked club in its right hand. Its skin appeared pasty and rock like. The other was some form of shadow-spawn. A demon on all fours, a horn on its head, large fangs protruding from its mouth.
The shadow-spawn sniffed the air and its eyes darted to Elian. It roared a long, snarling roar. The troll spun slowly and clumsily about. It began to walk slowly toward Elian. The demon began a loping sprint. Elian met the demon’s leap with a slash from his rapier, cutting through the thing’s leg.
It screeched as it fell, then rolled and was on its feet again, circling Elian. The troll had finished its slow lumber over and was now also standing ready. The demon leapt again, and Elian ducked and rolled. The troll swung its club down, smashing it into the ground an inch from Elian’s head. The club became stuck in the ground, and Elian seized the opportunity.
He grabbed a hold of the troll’s head and swung himself up onto its shoulders. The troll succeeded in getting its club from the ground then began trying to throw him off. Elian locked his knees around the beast’s neck, sheathed his rapier and drew his bow.
The troll flailed about, swinging wildly with its club. The demon hissed, unable to get close. The troll swung and delivered a crushing blow to the demon’s skull, and Elian loosed three arrows into its torso. The thing fell and died with a last gasp.
The troll continued its efforts to throw him off. When Elian attempted to re-draw his rapier, it succeeded. Elian landed with a thud on the ground. The troll swung its club down, and it connected, breaking Elian’s left arm, and piercing it with a spike. He cried out in pain, and then thrust his rapier upwards into the beast’s chest. He ripped the sword from the things flesh, then scrambled backwards as the troll tilted and fell forwards.
Elian traipsed back into the camp, a bedraggled mess, blood all down the left side of his clothes.
“What happened to you?” Shard asked. Elian saw that Tsir was also watching him.
“Ran into a troll and a shadow-spawn. The troll broke my arm”.
“Let me make you a sling”, Shard rose.
“No, no its fine. I can mend broken bones. It’s one of the few magics my people retain”.
Elian sat next to the campfire, laid his arm out straight, held his right hand above the break and began to chant in the elven tongue. He slowly felt his bones knit back together and the wound heal over.