Chapter 3: The Forest of Mir
Once again, all lore credit goes to dungeons and dragons 5e, storyline is completely original, stay tuned
The two of them made their way back the way they came through the twisting channels of The Underdark. When they reached the dead end Hadmorlin stopped and raised his hand and moved it in a circular motion while muttering the same incantations under his breath. After about ten seconds he stepped through and disappeared into the cave wall. Thia followed behind him. When they stepped through it was nightfall, but they were no longer in Sildëyuir.
The forest she stood in now was not as whimsical as the forest that surrounded her home village but was beautiful nonetheless. She stared in amazement at the vast evergreens spanning ten feet wide. The trees were so tall Thia estimated two hundred feet high. The ground was covered in thick underbrush and pinecones the size of Thia's head. She heard the lovely music of songbirds and owls hooting all around her mixed with the buzzing of cicadas. She took a deep breath and smelled pine and honeysuckle. Hadmorlin stood in front of her, smirking at her reaction to her new surroundings.
"Welcome to The Forest of Mir, make sure to keep an eye out for pine cones falling. At that height and size, they will most surely kill you instantly," he said with a gentle smirk.
"Where are we headed then?" Thia asked, annoyed.
"We are headed to Dallnothax, another Drow settlement north of the Marching Mountains. It's about a five hour hike from here. Out of curiosity Thia, how many years of life have you had?" He asked her.
"I'm thirty-three years old, what about you?" She asked.
"I have had three hundred and fifty years of life. I'm assuming that you have no idea how to hunt for yourself, correct?" He asked.
"You assume correctly. What's your point?" She asked.
"My point is, I'm not a babysitter. You will learn how to hunt today Thia. Eventually you will be on your own again and you must learn how to fend for yourself. We will start with the bow and arrow. You will be catching us dinner tonight," Hadmorlin stated. Thia sighed as he handed her a bow and a leather sack filled with arrows. She slung it over her shoulder begrudgingly.
"Alright, let's do some target practice first. The art of the bow is all about patience. Without patience you will always miss your target. Draw the bow a few times so you can get a feel for it," He explained. Thia drew the bow back. The tension was incredible. Her arms shook as she held it in place and she released suddenly.
"Breathe in deep as you draw the bow. Strengthen your posture and make sure your elbow is straight. Again!" He commanded. She drew back once more, and her arms didn’t shake as much.
"Good, good. Now see that notch on that tree? Aim for it and shoot. Breathe in as you draw the bow, and as you release, breath out," He said. Thia saw the notch, she drew the bow with a deep breath and released. The arrow shot forward and hit just under the notch.
"Why did you miss Thia?" Hadmorlin asked.
"I dunno I did everything you told me to do," she replied.
"If you had done everything I told you exactly the way I showed you then you would have hit the notch dead on. Again!" He commanded. Thia sighed as she pulled another arrow from the quiver and drew it back once more, this time she lined the arrow up with the corner of her eye, she imagined a line extended out towards the notch on the tree. She released the arrow and made direct contact with the notch's center.
"See what happens when you listen? Now we hunt! These woods are filled with a plethora of creatures. Some will hunt you, and others you hunt them. The key is all in the tracking and not giving yourself away, come now," He said eagerly. They walked off the path deeper into the woods. Thia watched how easily Hadmorlin walked through the forest without making a sound. He pointed out certain animal tracks and told her which animal they belonged to. Currently they were hunting a deer. He found some deer feces and dabbed at it with his finger. "See this is still warm, it must be close by," He whispered.
He walked slower and crouched down, Thia followed his lead. He held up a fist signaling Thia to stop and motioned her to come forward. Thia crept up next to Hadmorlin and looked where he was pointing. She saw a large buck pausing to drink as a small stream. She straightened her body and took a deep breath as she drew her bow and positioned the arrow next to her eye like before. She imagined the line stretching itself towards the deer as she released the arrow. The arrow hit the buck's neck and he collapsed to the ground. Thia started to rush forward but Hadmorlin stopped her.
"You must wait, the buck is not yet dead. If we go to him he will run away, and we will have to track him again," He explained. They waited for a few minutes before quietly creeping towards the buck. When they reached the buck Thia could see he was still breathing but very slowly. He looked up at Thia with frightened eyes. She knelt next to the buck and yanked the arrow from his neck. Blood spurted from the wound. The buck shook violently for a moment and then became very still.
"Now what?" Thia asked.
"Now we skin this deer, watch carefully," Hadmorlin replied as he pulled out a knife from his bag. He got down on his knees and made a slit around the buck's throat.
"Be careful to not cut too deep, you only want to cut as deep as the hide," he instructed as he cut from the neck down to the belly. There was an outer layer that was watery and thin that Hadmorlin gently cut with the knife that exposed the red meat of the buck. When he finished he grabbed a hold of the hide and completely skinned the deer clean. He made additional cuts on the legs and removed the hide. He began to cut it up into large pieces that could be cooked eventually for food. He tossed the innards and organs to the side.
"Next time you will skin the game. Let's get a fire started to cook this before it goes bad. Can you gather some branches please?" He said as he pulled out some flint from his back. Thia headed off to gather some branches for the fire. She was picking up a rather nice-looking branch when she heard a voice.
"Come to kill more innocent animals' demon child?'' asked the voice. Thia turned around nervously but saw nothing.
"W-where are you?" She shakily asked the voice. Then she noticed a face partially sticking out of the tree right in front of her covered in moss. The face came forward along with the body of a woman. This was no ordinary woman. She had moss growing on her face. Her hair was made of vines that moved individually, and her body was covered in leaves.
"You have come to rid the forest of its creatures haven't you!" The woman said angrily.
"N-no we just needed something to eat, we are just passing through. Y-you're a dryad, aren't you? My father used to tell me stories that you protect the forest," Thia confessed.
"Do not lie to me! I can feel evil lurking inside of you! You are some sort of demon child!" The dryad yelled.
"No, I am a faerie! Please, I mean no harm, I am just trying to figure out a way to get rid of it, I promise!" Thia swore.
"This forest and its creatures do not belong to you. They are not yours for the taking. You must leave as soon as you can. I sense the truth coming from your lips but not every creature will be as forgiving as I am," She threatened as she disappeared back into her tree. Thia scurried back to Hadmorlin to tell him what happened.
"A dryad huh? Well I suppose if the forest is full of them we might need to make haste. Come, I'll cook the meat and we will be on our way," He said. He gathered Thia's branches into a triangle shape and used the flint to start up a decent fire to roast the meat. When they had their fill, Hadmorlin stored the meat into his bag and they began to walk.
"How do you fit so much in that bag of yours?" Thia asked.
"This is a bag of holding. It's enchanted to have more space then what appears. It comes in handy in times like these," he explained. Their terrain began to be more strenuous as they headed up the mountain. There was no trace of civilization in this wilderness apart from a worn-out path that snaked through the blanket of grass. The path was intertwined with thick tree roots. It swerved back and forth unpredictably. Curls of vibrant green ivy lined the narrow path. Mighty trees arched over it.
Thia has only ever known the twilight of her village so when she saw the sun beginning to creep up the sky she was amazed. The sun rose like a flower opening, gifting its petals unto the world. Amid the dancing mist was the blush of scarlet, the warmth of tangerine blending with magenta. Gazing toward the illuminated clouds, still beneath the ethereal glow, Thia felt at home in a way she never had before
"So this is what a sunrise looks like. It actually hurts my eyes, I'm not used to this brightness," she said as she shielded her eyes with her hand.
"You'll get used to it," Hadmorlin said while he pulled his hood over his head. They walked in silence for another mile when they came upon another large cobblestone wall identical to the one in Sildëyuir.
"This is an entrance to the drow settlement we've been looking for," Hadmorlin stated as he approached the wall.
"You guys sure do love your random walls," Thia said jokingly. Hadmorlin rolled his eyes and did the now familiar ritual of opening the portal. He stopped suddenly and disappeared through the wall. For the third time that day, Thia stepped through not knowing what she would see.
(i hope you enjoyed chapter 3! chapter 4 is on its way!)