Phibreal felt a sharp, cold breeze hit him wich made him suddenly open his eyes quickly. The first thing he saw was a cloudy sky above him. The air felt chilly and humid, he felt sick. He sat up and searched for Captian Mak but he was nowhere to be seen. He wondered how long he slept and how long his Captian had been gone.

Something wet landed on his nose and he stared at the sky. It was raining but not alot. He stood up and stared at the jungle. As the sky was growing darker, so did the jungle. He hoped Mak wouldn't be gone long.

A hand touched his shoulder and Phibreal swirled around to swipe it away. Not recognizing who it was, he stood in a fighting stance.

"Whoa there Phib! It's Mak," the man said. Phibreal felt his body relax.

"Sorry about that," he said. "Where were you?"

"I have to show you something." Mak led his companion through the jungle.

"What is it?"

"Just wait." They stopped when they came to a rank, massive swamp covered in algae and black water. Trees grew out of the water and it's branches slumped over. Beyond the swamp was a mighty fortress. It was a large building with many lightened windows. Vines scurried down it's walls and beside it were two large pyramids. A fence ran along the front of it.

Phib stared in amazement. He also noticed there were homes that blended into the trees beside the dark swamp. Who lived here? He wondered. He glanced at Mak waiting for him to say anything. Or even move.

"Come on. Let's find out what this place is."

Fog and darkness moved in slowly which sent chills down Phibreal's spine as they moved through the swampy ground. Ahead, one of the houses came into veiw. They manuvered closer until they came to the front door. The house was made out of bark, Phib noticed, and it seemed to creek as they walked up the steps to knock on the door. They waited until the door opened revealing a hideuos creature. It's was a hyena like creature, but it was standing. A gnoll.

The gnoll growled and thrust out his furry arm to grab a hold of Mak's throat.

"Stop!" Phibreal screamed taking out his knife. His captian was choaking. Right when he lunged to stab the gnoll a voice apeared making him stop.

"Ark'al, stop." The gnoll loosened his grip on the man's throat and he gasped for air. A cloaked figure apeared beside the creature and held out an arm.

"I am sorry for my friends' actions. Please, come inside." The voice belonged to a woman's. Phibreal glanced at Mak to see he was alright and they both entered the strange home. Ark'al, whom they asumed was the gnoll's name, closed the door and stood staring at them with peircing black eyes.

It was a tiny house. Long, mucky branches hung from the ceiling. A ragged table stood in the center of the room with a few rusty chairs surrounding it and there was a worn down fireplace on one side of the room.

"Please, take a seat," the woman asked and went over to the burning fireplace. While Phibreal and Mak were sitting, the woman came over and gave them a bowl of burning soup.

"Who are you?" Phibreal asked before taking a spoonful of the soup. The woman removed her hood revealing a pretty face and long black hair. Her ears were pointy and her black eyes twinkled in the weak candle light. An elf! She looked about more than 20, Phib guessed.

"I'm Elanor," she said with a smile. Mak introduced himself and so did Phibreal.

"Where are we?" Mak questioned.

"You are in the kingdom of the Gnoll King. That is his fortress beyond the swamp."

"The Gnoll King?" Phibreal asked. She nodded.

"Those who live among these trees are terrified of him. He sends guards every other night to check if there are any humans around. When he finds them, if he does, the he takes them back to the fortress." She stopped.

"Then what happens?" Phibreal asked.

"I don't know. No one knows what happens to the humans but there have been rumors of the king holding an ancient creature that he uses to devour them." Phibreal gulped. He hoped they wouldn't be caught.

"I've heard the King actually captured some humans about a night ago," Ark'al announced and came over to stand by Elanor.

"Really?" Mak asked glimpsing at his young friend. Phibreal glanced at him knowing what he meant. Maybe it was their friends who were captured.

"If your thinking about traveling there, don't. The king's fortress is guarded well. No one has ever broken in before." Elanor gathered their bowls.

"But if it is your will..."

The End

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