She landed in a weed-strewn knoll, taking Human form and rolling into a crouch behind the cover of a pair of bent birch trees. Sliding her weapon free from its mount on her back, she began to make cautious, scrupulously stealthy progress toward the broken stone wall that separated her from her intended victims. Beyond, knelt in front of the low flames of a modest campfire, was a trio of gnolls engaged in their dinner, all sloppy smacks, noisy gulps, and rank belches.
One of those gnolls, Grash Gnawbone, thought for a moment that he smelled something sweet in the air, and he dropped his bloody horse leg to the ground when he saw the thousands of hairs on his forearm stand up and dance with a sudden static charge. A heartbeat later, a flash of lightning cracked through air overhead and found the campfire, sending burning cinders of splintered wood like deadly shrapnel into the three gnolls. As Grash found his feet, he realized that his two companions lay dead before him, his left arm was torn free at the elbow, and a human female with long, flowing silvery hair dropped down from atop the broken stone wall to land where the campfire once stood…
Once he was well past the south gate and clear of all the prying eyes and sharp ears of Ouldengaard, the rider quickened the pace of his saddlebred steed, hastening toward the copse of ancient elms that dotted the horizon. Before long, the rider that left Imperia was gone, and a new rider sat atop the swift and sturdy brindle horse. Shifting his weight to the right and tugging the reins tight, he brought the horse to a gallop, then a canter, and finally, a full stop. He gazed through his hooded cloak into the distance, scanning the lands, the skies, everywhere for signs that he might be seen by unwanted eyes.
Confident in his seclusion, the man that was just moments ago the young sellsword named Alen Wilder lashed his horse’s reins to the low hanging branch of a dead elm. He patted the horse lightly before leaving it to enter the small wooded area, and as his cloak faded into the shadows of the trees, he seemed to disappear altogether…