Dwarvelf Continued - previous Chapters
Hector sprinted across the field. Had he stayed at the window too long? His tattered black cloak billowing behind him, he dove behind a boulder on the edge of the Forest, not far from the path that he had seen the Dwarves come down.
Gasping, lungs burning, heart thumping so loudly he was sure the Dwarf standing on the verandah would hear him. Laying as still as he could, everything he wore, his soft leather boots, black woollen breeches and shirt moulding to his body; blending into the ground extending the shape of the boulder he lay behind.
As his breathing eased and heart rate reduced his sense of hearing slowly recovered. It was quiet; the moon had passed its zenith while he had been listening at the window. He knew though this was not the only reason that it was so quiet. It was the dwarves arrival and his flight across the valley floor that had caused all of the creatures of the night to stop and pause; waiting to see what would happen next.
After some time Hector rolled onto his stomach and slowly raised his head, peering over the boulder. He could see the Dwarf they'd called Bob sitting on the top step of the verandah. Just a silhouette as he'd deliberately left the lantern inside the house, which meant his night vision would be superb.
He knew the night vision of Dwarves was exceptional, thankfully nothing like the night vision of the elves, that allowed them to see the glow of all living beasts in the dark. No, the Dwarven eyesight was more adept at discerning the shades of darkness.
Hector needed to get to the Dark Elf, how though was the question. He knew she was around, the old Dwarf had said as much. Trying to seek her out would be useless, she could be anywhere. Best he return to the Inn, the Drow would get in touch with him there.
Checking on the Dwarf one more time, he spotted him returning into the cabin, presumably to wake the next watcher. Taking the opportunity Hector quickly stole away through the Forest, heading north to the base of the cliff, running quietly along the bottom for several hundred yards and into his nest. The same nest he'd been hiding in for the last week watching the old Dwarf and his family.
Quickly stuffing his belongings in his pack, his bedroll, the last couple of pieces of hard-tac and his flask he turned to leave.
'Where are you going human?'
Hector stopped still. The contempt and disdain of the disconnected voice washing over him. 'I was going to look for you.'
'So you say. How did you propose to do that, when you can't even find me now you feeble creature.'
'I was going to return to the Inn.'
'And what of watching the valley? Are you done with that?' Zerenasalee stepped from the shadows, watching everything about the rogue, his calm disposition, where his weapons were, his arrogance that she would not harm him. It both irritated and aroused her. She was the one with the power here, not him.
'No m' lady. There is nothing more for me here. I know what I know and thought I'd close our deal.' He could see her now. She was beautiful in that strange way that elves are. More so though, he'd never seen her in the light of day, yet even in the shadow's he could appreciate her high cheeks, black almond eyes, her hair pulled back showing a long curved neck adorned with a single black pearl that seemed to absorb the light around them.
'So what do you know?'
'I know enough that you should pay me now for my services.'
'Pay you! You're an arrogant sop; why would I pay you before I determine the value of the information you have.'
'Oh, my darling. That was not part of our agreement. You wanted me to hide out here in this valley and watch the comings and goings of the one they call Durog the Drow slayer. I've done that and more. I've led your little kobolds to the upper valley despite their best endeavours to get themselves killed. I've listened, watched and learnt a lot that should be of value to you.'
Hector had had no idea what was going on; that was until he saw the child elf on the back of the horse as the two younger dwarves entered the valley to be greeted by Durog's son. He knew now the Drow wanted the elven child for some reason. Knowing what he knew of elves in general, he knew their children were invaluable. To see one in the care of Dwarves was uncommon; rare. Something was going on, something he could surely make a bit of coin from.
Zerenasalee studied the human. She could see he would be quick, not dissimilar to herself; this man was subtle. He did not have a look, smell or mannerisms of a knight or barbarian, this man was like herself, a person of the shadow's, of stealth and wise through his watching and listening. 'Ok tell me what you know, and I will weigh up its value.'
'Seriously woman what do you take me for, a fool?'
'Enough of this.' in one fluid move, grabbing him by the shoulder and wrist, a foot into his hip pulling him down and over the top, rolling to straddle his chest she pulled her knife holding it against his throat. 'No more games. What do you know?'
'Seriously? Who the hell do you think I am?' nodding to his chest.
Looking down Zerenasalee saw a small curved blade held to her groin. 'One nick here honey, and you're as good as dead, even if you kill me, you're still going to die.'
'Ok, I'll pay.' standing in one fluid motion and taking three steps back the dark elf watched as he casually stood, the knife disappearing as he brushed himself down. 'Here.'
Catching the pouch of coins thrown by the Drow hector grinned 'They're going to Dalgroth. Durog, the Dwarf, she Dwarf and the elf.'
Why? Zerena knew they had been banished. That is what had brought her to this damn valley. 'Can you follow them?'
'It will cost you.'
'Money's not an issue. Do you think you can follow them and learn more? Can you follow them into Dalgroth unseen?'
'Does a bear shit in the woods?'
'Good. Here.' Zerena removed the black pendant from around her neck 'wear this.'
'I'll need money up front, expenses you know. Where or how do I get in touch with you?' Hector fastened the pendant around his neck and tucked it under his shirt, no use letting people see it and start asking questions about where he got such a god ugly thing. It felt both heavy and cold against his skin.
'Do not worry, I will find you through the pendant. Did the Dwarves say why Dalgroth?'
'Something about some man who bought the elf child to the Dwarven city.'
'The Ranger.' Zerena put another pouch in his hand, turned and disappeared into the night.
Well, that was a pleasure he thought, resuming his pathway to the Inn. That was the most straightforward coin he had ever made. He knew where his prey was going. He could travel in front of them and pay those as he went along to forward information through to him.