The sound of the posse grew louder. Torch light splashed on the walls a couple streets over. Zanth pierced the darkness with his elven eyes but couldn’t make out how many were coming yet. There were too many buildings in the way.
“We’ve got nothing to fear,” Dorian growled. “We were in the right here.”
“That’s never been a problem for us before, right?” Malland scoffed.
Dorian chuckled in response. He’d been joking. A Dragonborn, a Tiefling and a Half-Elf, the three friends rarely were given the benefit of the bout, even in their home town. Now that they’d been away for a year and at least one powerful person didn’t want them around anymore, it was hard to see anyone taking their side in this mess.
Zanthalaso sighed and returned his attention to his friends, “Let’s search these fools for some sort of clue and then get the heck out of here. I don’t like what I’m hearing.”
Dorian and Malland how learned to trust the half-elf’s hearing long ago. The three companions quickly stopped and rifled through the pockets of the dead men at their feet. Standing at nearly the same time they all produced the same results, 5 gold coins. Malland was the only exception, not only did he have the gold coins, he also had a note. Catching the light from the moon, he read aloud, “This contract is for the capture, dead or alive, of the Half-Elf known as Zanthalaso, the Dragonborn known as Dorian, and the Tiefling known as Malland.”
“Well, that’s cheery,” Dorian stated flatly.
“Indeed, and now let’s get out of here before we have to find out how many other people in town received the same payment,” Zanth replied.
“There’s a signature here at the bottom,” Malland said, squinting down at the paper in his hands.
“Fine, we’ll look at it later, but can we go? Whether they’ve been paid or not, I have zero interest in spilling the blood of the people I’ve called neighbors.”
Zanth, not waiting for a reply and knowing his friends would follow, turned on his heel and headed away from the coming posse. Dorian and Malland exchanged an amused glance. Malland stashed the contract into a pocket and the two of them followed after their friend.
Dorian whispered, “I’m not sure what he was waiting for anyway. I was waiting for him to take the lead.”
“Right,” Malland agreed. “He doesn’t have to get so upset about it.”
Zanth had only gone a short distance before pausing in the shadow of a building for his friends to catch up. Once the trio were together, Zanth quickly and quietly turned down a side street and began leading them from shadow to shadow until they had reached the outskirts of town. Just as they were about to cross the open field and head into the forest beyond they heard an angry outburst from behind them. “They’ve found the bodies,” Zanth confirmed grimly.
Malland pointed to the forest and said, “Lead on. We’ll follow.”
The half-elf took long, graceful strides into the moonlit field. He was across and had been swallowed by the darkness of the forest before Dorian and Malland were halfway. They weren’t worried, though. Zanth would scout ahead and find the best route and then come back to them and show them where he wanted them to go. It was how they’d spent the last year and they quickly fell back into the routine.
After travelling for an hour, sometimes along game trails and sometimes completely across wild country, they reached a part of the forest that was so dense none of the moon’s light filtered through the canopy. Dorian and Malland stopped short, waiting for their eyes to adjust. Zanth called quietly to them from a short distance ahead, “I’ve found a good place to rest for the night.”
“I bet it is a tree,” Dorian grumbled.
Malland sighed, “I was so looking forward to my bed.”