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Balamor reached for the metal torch and waved it across the room. The blue light flickered against the scattered skeleton of the flag bearer. Rusted platemail tugged the black tunic that barely held his torso together. The long banner of an unknown kingdom lay pinned under the mess of bones. Balamor crouched and dug it out from beneath, He removed his dagger and quickly cut the banner from its pole. The emptiness of the cave was eerie as they began their departure. Awkid grabbed the flag bearers pole and with a swift kick he broke it down to size. At its end was a rusted pike which he studied for a moment. As they moved down the hall the swathes of holes covering the walls were dripping with an inky black substance. Balamor held the grip of his dagger in his right hand and the torch in his left. The jagged walls of the swampy grotto opened to show a thick fog, barely lit by the early morning sun. The sky snuck through the overcast in wide rays but the ground beneath was lifeless as before.

Twisted trees and sick grass hugged the small path from the cave. Awkid stopped and peered over what looked like two sets footprints. His eyes followed them down the trail, one set was wider and deeper than the other, a sign that the other was light on their feet. The tracks became harder to see as they crossed a narrow clearing of dark wet grass. Beyond the clearing Balamor made out the face of an ornate obelisk made of stone, like that of the Greatstone Pass. Moss and dirt were spread across its lower half, staining the stone with hues of green and brown. As they neared its base Balamor could recognize some of the various rune markings found in his books. They bordered the edges of the tall stone prism. A band of sunlight fell upon one face casting a long shadow to the ground. Awkid studied the shadow and quickly looked to the sky.

“Follow the shadows Mr. Wisebeard. I’ve been here once before and I owe it to that advice alone.”

Awkid moved forward with his eyes peeled, whatever tracks he was trailing were too hard to trace. His body was still exhausted from the night before, catching them was a lost cause. His stomach would frequently ache and cause him to stop as Balamor stayed close behind. The young hobbit held the hilt of his dagger tight as he went along with caution. His torch evaporated the fog around its wick and mixed with the orange sunrays of the dawn. Both of them moved slowly but silently through the dead wasteland. Small puddles of mud occasionally bubbled and popped and flakes of ash fell from the dying bark of trees. It was a truly unimaginable part of nature to witness, but Balamor didn’t think twice on removing his notebook. The torch was snuffed out and his journal nestled in his left arm as he jotted down witty descriptions and made rather chaotic sketches of the scenery. Pages were filled by the young Wisebeard when he was finally granted a moment of research. The Mog Brush is close, he wrote making sure to date his entry — 874, Summer’s 57th Dawn.

The silence broke as Awkid spotted the next stone marker ahead. Balamor closed his book and snapped his head up to see it was only yards away. In moments he held his torch to it. The blue fire shined against the obelisk yet there was no shadow. Balamor seemed stumped as he began to circle the base of the rock structure. He was more than halfway around when suddenly a shadow appeared. Awkid was quick to recognize and took point toward what he hoped was their destination.

The End

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