Their fire was low, shielded from the occasional gust of wind by small woven walls of brambles. Its cloud of smoke was not easily noticeable—Veasson knew much in the field of non-detection—and its thin wisps stretched lazily to the early morning sky. The air was crisp yet alive, filled with an earthy aroma present only after recent rainfall. Chortles of birds could be heard wafting up from the tall grass that marked Redorand’s Rebuke; a field made verdant by the bloodshed of hundreds.
Dendric had difficulty understanding how such a beautiful place could erupt from such a horrible massacre. Redorand’s Rebuke had long been avoided for fear of the hauntings of Redorand’s men who were killed in defense against the trolls of Green Fens. The treasure-hunter knew differently, however, and understood that ghosts could never inhabit such a place of obvious fertility. Granted, it had taken him several tendays to convince others to venture with him, but once he had found the men he needed it was a simple task of flashing a bag of gold in their face and offering the adventure of a lifetime. No matter; gold was not Dendric’s concern on this particular venture.
The human stretched his arms wide, releasing a sighing grunt that broke the silence of their encampment. His discarded scale-mail remained folded at the foot of a worn bedroll, further weighed down by the keen-edged battleaxe Dendric had brought for the excursion. However, if there were ghosts of the men who had fallen, the steel weapon would prove utterly useless, and Dendric knew this.
He had hired the elf for a reason, after all.
Rissien Siannodel, one of the powerful inhabitants of the Elderwood, was well-known to most common folk for his skill in matters arcane. Stories far and wide could be told of the archmages among the tree-faring elves, masters of their craft and overwhelmingly dangerous to those foolish enough to cross them. When Dendric had finally found the fey evocationist, all he need mention was Redorand’s Rebuke and it had immediately piqued his interest.
Granted, the readiness with which Rissien had agreed had startled the human. Dendric did not know what the elf expected to find in the tomb, but dearly hoped that their goals were not identical. Perhaps his promise of gold would prove sufficient to keep Rissien under control, but one of the constant problems with elves were their swift willingness to dismiss contracts with the “lesser races” for the furthering of their own purposes. He would have to keep a watchful eye on that one.
Dendric turned his head to Veasson, and was surprised to see that the thief’s eyes were already open. How long had he been awake?
“Should we rouse the elf?” Veasson asked, sitting up now that he was not the only one conscious.
Dendric gave a brief nod. The morning was rising already, and any time that they wasted outside was time that they could have spent searching. Redorand’s tomb lay hidden within this field, but Dendric had found its entrance on his last venture there and was determined to get started as soon as possible. Veasson rose from his bedroll and strode off to the elf’s tent, and Dendric began the long task of donning his scale-mail armor.