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“I am Brahkis” Episode 11

The Adventures of an Intellectual Barbarian

“Rhiannon?  You mean the eladrin enchantress who called upon the forest vines to ensnare me?”  I wonder if this shifter is going to pester me until he has his way.

The Grackle raises an eyebrow.  “You mean ‘ensnare us.’  I was just as much of a victim.”

I shrug.  “If that makes you feel part of the clan…”

“My point is that she is not our enemy, Brahkis, and needs our help.  And do not doubt, we will need hers soon enough.”

I can’t deny my curiosity, nor my conscience, but I have been given a mission by my chieftain… “Who has taken her?”  I figure it can’t hurt to ask.

“A Roaring Bear raiding party, unless they were in disguise.”

This is unwelcome news, indeed.  I’d been present for a parlay with the Roaring Bear clan.  They are even more savage than the Shadowwolves and believe they have a right to anything they can take.  They think dressing in the furs and claws of bears they’ve killed bestows some of the animal’s strength.  Negotiating with them is unlikely to succeed, since they tend to view compromise as weakness.

“What exactly would you have me do?” I ask, even as I try to think of what I possibly could.  I am one man, and just because the Eladrin ceded her snowbell flowers to me doesn’t mean I owe her my life.

“We need to rescue her, preferably before they reach the encampment and increase their numbers,” the Grackle answers.

“Wait, you know where they’re taking her?”

He shrugs.  “They’ve recently overrun a Shadowwolf fort in the valley and have been gathering strength.  It makes sense they would return there.”

“They’ve taken the fort?”  I can only presume this is the same place I’m heading.  It makes too much sense.  Of course, I have to see with my own eyes before reporting back to my chieftain, but this is dire news and certainly doesn’t bode well for Vulchais.  I must be careful, for my only chance is taking them by surprise.  But I also need speed.  “Well,” I say, gesturing to the path before me, “lead me to her.”

The Grackle’s expression shows his surprise at winning me over so quickly, but the decision is easy knowing both missions are intertwined, and we don’t have time for further discussion.  He nods and shifts into bird form, his transition accompanied by a brief flash of amber light.  His feathers are dark and hard to track in the twilight, but the Grackle makes sure to fly back toward me or caw every few minutes, which I can follow easily enough.

Given my desire for stealth, the setting of the sun is a boon, but I still need to see well enough to not trip.  I look up and locate the position of the green moon, noting it is half-full and still near the horizon.  It will be enough light for my purposes once it rises.

I run for what seems like an hour and the darkness thickens.  As I slow to catch my breath and wait for the Grackle to return, the wind brings me a new sound: muffled cries, answered by animalistic growls.  This could be my quarry.  I look for the Grackle and will him to appear – the sounds of the struggle are not far off, perhaps only over the next hill, and I don’t want to charge ahead without knowing what lies beyond the rise.

The flutter of wings comes from behind, unexpectedly, and by the time I turn, the Grackle is crouched beside me in human form.  “There are three of them, and she’s giving them trouble with her resistance,” he shares in a loud whisper.

“Can she not put a spell on them?” I ask.

The Grackle shakes his head.  “She is bound and gagged – there’s not much she can do through magic.  It’s up to us.”

Up to us.  I try not to roll my eyes.  I’m the one with the bow.  “And if you’re my partner, what is our plan?  Can you shift into anything more menacing than a little bird?”  My words carry some bite, but I want to make sure he’s aware that I’m the one assuming all the risk.  If things go badly, he can always fly away.

He seems immune, however.  “I was thinking I could create a distraction, lure their attention in another direction, then you can ambush them.”

It might work, if it were not for the darkness.  I’m not sure I can count on bringing down more than one with my arrows before they’re able to reach me.  “What about your magic?” I try again.  “Surely you know some tricks that could help in this situation?”

The Grackle pauses.  “I don’t like using my magic to harm.  That often brings undesired future consequences.”

“Undesired consequences?  You mean worse ones than me getting my heart ripped out by the Roaring Bears?”  I can’t tell in the dimness if my words have any effect on his thinking.

“Why don’t we give it a try, and if I’m forced to intervene further, I’ll do what I can.”

“Nope.  Not vague enough for me.”  My mocking goes no further because the shifter has returned to bird form and is already putting distance between us.  I suppose I should get into position, though I still don’t know exactly where my enemies are.  I head for higher ground, keeping my profile low as I scale the hill.

I slow as I reach the top – I can hear more of the growling drifting up, though it seems further off.  Unfastening my bow, I lay on my stomach, then crawl forward to peek over the crest of the hill.  “Fangs of the Great Wolf,” I quietly curse.  This is the final hill before the golden valley, and my quarry is only a few hundred paces from the Shadowwolf fort.  It is obviously under occupation, or the invading clan wouldn’t be so brazenly out in the open.  If I attack, reinforcements might reach us within minutes. I can see Rhiannon’s pink hair reflecting the moonlight – she’s draped over one of the men’s shoulder.  If we’re going to do this, it has to be now.  I knock an arrow to my bowstring and stand, though I can’t imagine how this ends without me as a prisoner, or worse.




  1. Kimi says:

    Loving this series! Is there a way to sigh up for updates by email?

    1. tjsycamore says:

      Kimi, first of all thanks for reading! Glad you’re enjoying the series. To answer your question, Yes! Starting next weekend (when Episode 12 will be dropping), I will be sending out notifications of new episodes in my newsletter. If you haven’t signed up already, you should be able to here:

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