A Dark, Cold Night in Chetwood

The Chetwood had felt… off, as of late. The tall, ancient trees loomed overheard, the treetops themselves disappearing into the blackness of night. A chill held in the frigid air, despite the time of year being mid-Lithe. Even if the chill was odd, it was quite easy to put off. You’d hear the Bree-land farmers, old and young, leaning over their fenceposts grumbling to themselves that it’ll be a colder summer than usual this year, and that they may end up short on food this winter, if it doesn’t heat up enough for the grains to survive. Perhaps this is why the Blackwolds have started to grow so bold, they know there is a struggle ahead and they need to take resources for themselves, to stock up for the dreary winter months ahead. That’s at least what the young woodsman thought, as he wandered throughout the dark forest with a singular lit torch, calling out at a hissed whisper the name of his loyal hound.

His dog had grown restless just after the summer sun had set, whimpering and pacing around the small fenced garden of their shared little cabin. The young woodsman put it down to the dog catching scent of a rabbit or mink, or some other small woodland creature. He’d brought his dog inside, shutting the latch on the door and letting the dog settle down inside. The young woodsman, as the sun began to set, lit a well-used candle, nearly burnt down completely and surrounded by a formation of melted wax on the reading table. A small book was placed on the table, and flicked open to a certain page…

Upon the page, there was a drawing of a hunched over figure, completely cloaked with no visible face seen. It held a tall curled stick, on which a hooded lantern hung. The lantern was depicted to glow a strange eerie blue. The young woodsman muttered something to himself, starting to read along the page. He’d glance outside the nearby window on occasion, shaking his head a little, looking a tad concerned, but again mumbling something, “I really hope that Black Steel lot got rid of her for good…”

Soon, the young woodsman started to drift off to sleep where he sat, the candle light and the warmth inside his little hut causing the man to grow tired and sleepy. He dreamt of nothing but blackness, the void where sleeping minds go. It was neither soothing or alarming, just… black.

The man awoke to the sound of scratching against his door, blinking slowly as he regained his senses, the candle still burning, just barely as it neared it’s very end. His dog was scrabbling at the door, scratching his claws against the wood furiously as if trying to desperately get outside. The woodsman sighed, merely thinking that his dog needed to relieve itself, not remembering the hounds uneasiness in the day before. With a long yawn, the woodsman stumbled up from the chair, moving to unlatch the door and open it, with a high pitched creak of the hinges. As soon as the door was open, the dog shot outside, to which the man thought that the dog must have been really desperate. He moved to start preparing his bed, for a proper night’s sleep, instead of being leaned over his reading desk, when the young woodsman heard a loud bang!

Rushing to the door and peering outside into the blackness of night, the woodsman saw his dog was missing from the garden straight away, followed by the gate being wide open. Shocked that his dog had so forcibly escaped, the young man tiredly reached for his coat and a wooden torch. He lit the torch using the remaining flame of the candle, struggling a moment to get it alight, but thankfully, the torch did start to burn.

Trudging outside in the darkness now, the young woodsman called for his dog, starting to wander quite far him his cabin. He prayed the Blackwolds were not patrolling this far out into the forest, sticking to the ruins closer to the towns than out here, closer to the large lake of Nen Harn. He cursed his dog for running so far away, in this chilly, black night, with dangers afoot in the forest.

Thankfully, as the man cursed his hound, the figure of his loyal companion appeared, sitting next to a small pond. The dog’s golden coat shone brightly against the orange flame of the torch, the woodsman focusing on his friend and sighing in relief. But, then his eyes flicked to what lay beside his dog. A body…

The woodsman slowly edged to the slumped figure of the ground, reaching over to pat the head of his loyal hound. The figure was dressed all in black, had deathly pale skin and long, flowing black hair to match his garments. And… the figure had pointed ears.

“An.. elf… That’s an elf! What’s an elf.. doing here?” cried the woodsman, in his hushed whisper, trying not to panic at the sight before him.

Calming himself down, the woodsman took a deep breath and grab a nearby stick from the undergrowth. Carefully, the young man reached forward with the stick to poke the body of the elf, looking rather scared of the creature before him.

The woodsman yelped loudly, unable to control himself, as the elf stirred at the poke of the stick. It was still alive.

Grabbing his dog by the scruff of neck, the woodsman sprinted away from the awakening elf, terrified of this mystic creature that the men of Bree only told tales of, not being sure if they really existed. Well, the woodsman knew that they were real now.

The elf, on the other hand, sat himself up, seeming quite battered up and soaking wet. Gritting his teeth with an annoyed expression, the dark elf wiped his face over with a thin hand, watching the woodsman and his dog run off into the darkness of night…