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Old 07-06-2006, 12:46 AM   #31
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
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The elf watched in silence as Carl emerged from the cave, shaking his head in bewilderment and exchanging puzzled glances with several of the group who now huddled together, peering down into the dark entry hole. Unable to add anything remotely helpful in this situation, Lindir slipped away and systematically began to investigate the rocky terrain, keeping an eye on the surrounding vegetation, sometimes stooping to kneel and inspect something that caught his eye on the ground.

Despite his methodical search of the area, he seemed to be getting nowhere. The ledge was blanketed with thick thorn bushes and clumps of tall grass that largely obscured the ground. It was impossible to see anything more than a foot or two away. The stoney surface made it difficult to walk and, even worse, concealed whatever footprints might have left an impression from a few days before. On the verge of giving up, Lindir suddenly remembered the stream they had passed as they'd approached the foothill. Sprinting back down the hill, the elf soon came to the water's edge. As luck would have it, the surrounding bank was still soft and muddy from the heavy rains that had fallen nearly a week ago. For some time, he walked eastward along the sloping bank.

If anyone had come this way, they had made an amazingly successful attempt to tred softly and leave no hint of their presence. But still there were one or two indications that human feet might have approached this brook and crossed over to the other side no more than a week before. A less experienced tracker might not have noticed the single footprint still embedded in the mud or the grasses on the opposing shore that were ever so slightly crushed and flattened.

After taking in these images, Lindir squatted down to inspect the greenery that grew where he was standing. It was then that he glimpsed it: a dull and lifeless scrap apparently discarded on the ground. A few yards away, higher on the bank, were the remnents of a small fire pit. In all his years on Arda, he had not seen an object exactly like this before, but it appeared to be something that a man or woman had crafted. There was one person, however, who might know enough to tell him more.

With his first glimmer of hope that the slaves might still be found, Lindir hurried to the top of the hill and called out eagerly to Dorran, who stood talking with his wife. He beckoned to the two. "Come with me. I found a footprint on the stream bank, far from the point where we originally crossed. A group of slaves might have come down this hill, splashed through the water, and then headed north." Lindir held out the mysterious object and pushed it into Dorran's outstretched hands. "Have you seen anything like this before? It looks to be a device crafted by men. Could it have belonged to one of the slaves, and does it tell us anything about what happened?"

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 07-06-2006 at 10:26 AM.
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