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"Kleo! No!" Another distant voice cried out from behind them.

Balamor kept looking back, afraid of not knowing what was taking place behind them. The fog illuminated once more in blue and faded into the dark. The Wisebeard went forward through trees and thick bushes now running behind his companion but the dwarf was nearly impossible to keep up with in the forest. He moved with ease and veteran swiftness, each step thoughtfully placed between exposed roots and crowded trunks. Balamor was losing his breath as he held his hand in front of him and batted the vegetation from his sight. Ahead the sturdy figure of Awkid quickly stopped and raised his right hand.

Balamor forced himself to a stop and slid through the dirt to the edge of a rocky cliff. Awkid quickly reached for the robed hobbit and yanked him back. Stones tumbled into the ghostly white haze that swallowed the land below. The two adventures posted themselves behind the trees hugging the cliff side, their legs ached and burned in the intense cold. Their heavy breathing was the only sound they could hear. The peaks of warped dead trees were all that could be seen in the land ahead.

"What's down there?" Balamor asked in an anxious whisper, his eyes were wide, as if what was ahead was no better than what they heard behind them.

Awkid fished through his bag and retrieved a rope coil. He unraveled it as he spoke plainly,

"Down there? I haven’t got a name.”

He secured the rope to the tree and tied it off with all of his strength. Looking back he tossed the rest of the rope over the cliff edge, faint echoes slowly waved through the fog. Awkid Anvorbeard gripped the rope with both of his hands and began his descent.

“Wait! Shouldn’t I go first? What about what’s up here?” Balamor whispered sharply with his body stiff against the tree trunk.

“You should be more worried about what’s down here.” Awkid replied, his earthen palm grinded to dust as he climbed down. A gust of wind blew past Balamor as he hesitated, he looked down and Awkid was gone, and for that short moment Balamor felt the weight of his journey. He glanced back again at the forest gloom before sheathing his weapon. He took a deep breath as he grabbed the rope and carefully lowered himself off the rocky cliff side. His hairy feet walked against the cold stony surface while his hands guided him down the rope. He wanted to look down for Awkid but his fear of heights had his eyes fixed on the cliff wall. The air was becoming numbingly frigid as he got closer to the ground, thick green moss and twisted vines clung to the jagged stone face.

The End

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