The party encounters a beast.

"We are here," Findil proclaimed, with an air of accomplishment. He gave the trees around him knowing looks, and acknowledged their large roots with a exaggerated show of deference.

"We are where?" Van hesitatingly inquired. He had been silent and morose for most of the journey, as the foliage got denser, his two companions increasingly verbose and his spirit tired.

Findil twitched at the question and gave the tree next to him an apologetic smile. Morley strode to the front, placed his rather large hands on his hips and took a deep breath in.

"Aaah. Can't you smell it? This the scent of a good destination.  Adventures are made of such stuff." He took in the air, like a connoisseur, lingering on the smell, looking about him with apparent delight at their success.

Van inhaled deep - the smell of mold, mud and leaves rose to meet his nose - and he felt oddly dizzy. On the other side, Findil was performing what seemed like a communion with the shrubs – chewing on a piece of hard elastic bread while drinking wine from a flask strung around his neck.

“Elf bread,” he said. “Only the finest. One can last you a lifetime if you eat slow enough. Like really slooow.” He smiled at Van and then at the bush next to him.

Van stood there unsure what was required of him at the moment. He had been looking around, hoping for a escape clause in this adventure but had failed to find any so far. Morley and his stick was vigilant, and the one instance when Van had tried slipping through had met with a rather unfortunate trip over the pesky stick.

As he observed the two and the thick forest around him, he thought he heard something - a low grumble, like a distant thunderstorm. Findil’s ears quivered and Morley paused his breathing as they all absorbed this new sensory information. He saw Morley look in his direction and smile.

Van sighed and turned around half expecting the start of the next phase of his adventure. He wasn’t disappointed, as he found himself facing a rather mean looking bear staring down at him.

He paused for a second, even as in the background, he heard Morley smack his lips in apparent delight while branches snapped as someone, who he guessed was Findil, was attempting to climb a tree. The bear looked at him and growled. Van felt his pants go wet and his head go light. He closed his eyes and gave a long and deep sigh. A sigh that would echo in the tales of bards for many years in many villages.

The End

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