It had been several days since he had left the city. Many days since he fled the scene of his caretakers untimely demise. He was filled with grief and guilt but on a much more basic level he was hungry and tired. Since he had fled the city he had been running through the nights and most of the day stopping only when his body finally refused to carry him any further. The only food he had eaten were berries that he had found in the forest. His stomach churned in an ever-twisting knot of pain. He had to eat but he was ill equipped. Ademar carried only the tattered and charred clothes on his back, a dagger at his belt and his lock picks in a small pouch. No bow to hunt with, no sword to protect himself from the beasts that wandered the wild, not even a bedroll to keep warm in the cold nights of early spring.
He was running on the razors edge of his luck and he knew it would not hold out much longer. Ademar needed to find food and safety and he needed to find it soon. By the time he navigated through tangled roots of the giant oaks and maples in the wood darkness had settled completely upon the world. There was no moon tonight, only the dim light of the stars. Fortunately, the gods had blessed elves with extremely good vision and although it wasn't easy, Ademar was able to see well enough to make his way through the night. Now free of the forest he had traveled through for many days his pace quickened and he stayed his north by northeast course. He pushed himself hard this night despite the protests of his stomach and his cramping legs. There was a small farming community out here, he had heard about it in the market. Just outside the forest, as the hills gave way to the plains. At least that's what he thought he remembered.
On he marched for several hours but the hills seemed never ending. He looked to the sky again and again, checking the stars to confirm his direction. Was he going crazy? By his estimation he had traveled nearly eight miles in these lands with no sign of any civilization. He glanced back over his shoulder. The forest was no longer in sight. There was nothing out here. No trees for shelter, no food, no apparent water supply. What was he doing? Standing on a small hillock in the middle of nowhere, Ademar felt alone and insignificant indeed. Was this to be his punishment then? Would this be how the gods would bring his end? Starved to death, alone, in an unknown land.
Despair began to creep into the edge of his consciousness. Ademar sank to his knees as his strength began to fail. He had to rest for a moment and collect his wits. He closed his eyes and tried to slow his breathing. He focused on clearing his mind and centering himself the way his parents had instructed him decades ago in Kemmermere. For many minutes he sat quietly in meditation. He emerged steadier and slightly refreshed. It would have to do he thought to himself. Without a clear mind he would surely die and if he died there would be no retribution for the loss of Deedra Garnet. That, would not do.
Ademar stood again and surveyed his surroundings once more. The night was at it's mid point and clouds were gathering overhead with the promise of rain. He had to get moving and find shelter. Turning back to the north he thought he saw something. Something snaking up into the sky. He breathed in deeply. The very faint traces of smoke hung in the air. He was getting close. He might yet survive this night and get one step closer to his revenge on Kendrick Cwik. Ademar allowed his anger to build. He concentrated on the smug smile of his one-time friend who had betrayed him. Kendrick would die by his hand, he would make certain of that!
It took most of the next hour for Ademar to finally reach the outermost reaches of the community. The clouds were heavy now and light, even for an elf was becoming very scarce. He would have to move quickly. As he approached from the hills he had counted the buildings, eighteen in all. There were five large farm houses surrounding several smaller buildings at the center of the hamlet. One road, more of a well worn foot path, passed through the buildings on a fairly straight line east to west.
The wind kicked up, blowing through the surrounding field in great dusty waves as Ademar made his way to the door of the first farm house. It was a simple two-story wood building with a thatch roof. The residents would be sleeping upstairs. This should be simple enough, he thought. Get in and get out he told himself as he paused with his hand on the door catch to calm his nerves. In one smooth, practiced motion he pulled at the catch and pushed slightly on the door. It swung inward easily and quietly as Ademar slipped into the common room. A gust of cold, damp, wind followed him in whipping the glowing coals in the fireplace back into flames. He cursed under his breath as he swung the door back closed. It latched with a noisy “click” and he cursed himself again. He froze for a moment and strained to hear if anyone had been roused by the noise. When all remained quiet he turned away from the door and went straight to the pantry, found a sack and promptly stuffed it full of cheese, bread, and even some salted beef. On his way out of the building he lifted a cloak from a hook near the door then, slipped outside as quiet as death.
Alas, I am out of time. There is more to come...