998 Dravago(May) 23
A mark of despair
The sun rose on the ir’Igthorn castle, feeble glimmers of light were once again piercing through the holes of the cell’s high ceiling. The rays soon hit the eyes of the prisoners who had no water except from the moss on the ground for the last two days. The morale of the group already started to fade and turn to desperation. If no clean water was delivered through the day… they’d all be dead by the end of the week even with the healing powers of Caleb.
A sign of despair
On Devent’s side though, stress about the upcoming hunting challenge against Ritha was taking its toll on the brave Tharashk heir. With his hunting knife sharp, his equipment ready and with the helmet of Jal’Orc. he showed a little before noon in front of the Pier of Triumph. He didn’t have to wait long, for Ritha appeared in a matter of minutes fully geared with magic scrolls, wands and a single knife. The druids begun the ceremony of Awakening as the hunters exchanged grim and intimidating stares. Five minutes later, the hunters gambled on who was heading in the forest first. Though Devent is usually a lucky guy, this time Ritha had been the favored one. So she went ahead and used that headstart to hunt down Guishishila. An hour later, Devent was allowed to undertake the challenge, he then charged the forest without any hesitation because he knew in which direction was Ritha. His dragonmark activated during the time he was waiting and with time, Devent simply knew which way she was. Once into the forest, he headed toward one of the cache that Grull and Jal’Orc hid the day before. The Baroness told him that she trapped some of them so the bounty hunter threaded carefully. He managed to find in these caches his whip and some other equipment. He was still tracking the current Chief of the Maashak while preparing himself for a confrontation with either her or the giant snake. Devent had no choice but to abuse the powers of his dragonmark, he had to keep track of both the huntress and the snake.
In the evening of the first day, the first contact between the hunters occurred. Devent tried to approach Ritha in order to spy on her. He knew she was on the other side of a small lake. So he ventured on the rocks and searched for her. He learned pretty quickly that she spotted him too, for an arrow crossed the shimmering lake at an impressive speed and hit the head of Devent. Thanks to the now destroyed helmet of Jal’Orc, no injury other that a frightful experience was inflicted upon the young hunter. He ran away and now knew how dangerous his opponent was. She was no longer his target. The cold of night forced our chaser to give up on sleeping and to keep moving. In that manner, he spent most of his time closing in the distance between him and the mighty snake. Nighttime being the favorite hunting period of Guishishila, the serpent traveled mainly trough the small streams of water and moved back to the swamp. It was navigating so fast trough the water that Devent had no choice but to once again give up the hunt. Both of his prey were formidable hunters themselves…
As Devent noticed through the powers of his mark, Ritha didn’t move much in the last hour or so. She was then most likely resting or sleeping. Fully aware of how dangerous she was from his earlier encounter with her, he chose that between her and the snake she was the lesser of the two prey. So he tracked her to her general location but found no camp. She was then most likely up in the trees. Trying to be as silent and sneaky as possible, he tried to climb a tree hoping that the branches of the grove would be dense enough to make a way for him to Ritha’s position. Though the Tharashk managed to climb the tree and travel close to the huntress’s location, he misstep and fell from a tree. The shock of the fall was much more than enough to stagger the hunter. The stumbling and falling sounds alerted Ritha who rapidly grabbed a bow and shot an arrow into the back of Devent. Though the arrow pierced his flesh, the chainmail covering his chest managed to soak up most of the damage. Devent crawled back and hid just enough time for him to recover a bit and then ran away. Only anger and fury was animating his now fatigued body as he traveled toward the position of the snake. Morning was rising and his health was dwindling.
Devent managed to patch himself up and blamed himself for his weakness. Even though he failed numerous times now in this challenge, he would not give up. He pulled and pumped himself up. Time was slowly more of an issue and both his targets were still alive. He had no choices, it was either him or them. The Tharashk heir gathered what left of energy he had and tracked Guishishila to the river where he lurked. Thanks to the powers of his mark he somewhat knew that Ritha was on the move and her too closing onto the giant serpent. As soon as Devent got to the riverbank, he spotted the snake and launched his attack on the creature. As the serpent wrapped himself around the huntsman and began constricting, Devent managed to reach the head of the snake and forced his knife through it’s skull.
A sign of hope
He cut the creature’s head and ran towards the large Maashak encampment. Ritha intercepted him along the way and started shooting arrows. Devent hid behind a very large tree and as Ritha positioned herself for another shot at him, he moved around the same tree. In this fashion he compelled her to engage in close combat. She too had no choice. She had to steal the head of the serpent or kill the adventurer. If not, the Maashak tribe would not recognise her as their leader. As she got close enough, Devent dropped the ophidian skull and rushed her knife in hand. Both of them fought with everything they had. Eventually both of them were fighting over the same knife and Devent overpowered her and caged the blade into her heart.
He chose to carry Ritha’s remains and the skull to the Pier of Triumph where he was gloriously received… The Ceremony of Awakening brought festivities to the Maashak tribe but Devent knew that he could not fully rest yet. Now that he had an army, he had a siege to prepare.