The fog is thick, and the darkness is overwhelming tonight. I can't see 15 feet in any direction. Under normal circumstances our party would never go through the Dark Forest during these weather conditions, but after what we learned from the Princess, it's obvious that our circumstances are anything but normal. Time is of the essence, and the Paladin has insisted that we set out tonight. I understand, and as always, I believe in our leaders decisions, but... There's something cursed about these woods. I've heard one too many tales...
The Paladin is taking point, followed directly by Dr. Magic. He's casting a strong luminescence spell, but it's as if the woods themselves were swallowing his Mana whole. I wouldn't be surprised if they were... I follow close behind the crafty magician, and behind me is our Dwarf. He's clinging his axe tighter than usual, and his eyes dart from shadow to shadow. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one frightened by all of this, but there's something in the Drawf's eyes that scares me. Something's wrong with him. I've always thought so, but he's saved me from one too many Chimera for me to criticize him. Behind him is our archer, watching for anything that might be following us. It's times like these that I feel useless, I feel like a burden, even. As an agile Thief boy, I know that I will have my time to shine when we reach the Omega Fortress on the other side of these damned woods, but still... I feel helpless. I jump at every sound, and I've dropped my dagger twice, due to my sweaty palms.
As we move farther into the woods, it seems to get even darker! Impossible! I hold onto the wizards shoulder, and run into his back when he stops abruptly.
"Gats! What's the big idea?" I shout.
The Wizard shoots me a dirty look and motions to the Paladin. The Paladin has become completely still and is looking over to our right, behind a pair of thick Fruskaberry trees. I creep up to him and ask him what he sees. He doesn't respond. As I open my mouth to ask him again, all of the sudden, a hulking figure lurches out into view. I can't believe my eyes.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT AN OWL BEAR.
I scream - I can't help myself!- and he looks our way. He looks straight at me! An Owl Bear is a thing of legends, no, no, nightmares. Men say it can tear even the most powerful warrior limb from limb, rip the flesh right off the most experienced adventurer, and it's roar! Oh god it's roar. They say it can drive a man insane from miles away.
It only manages to take one step forward before an arrow hits it in the shoulder. A cry of pain erupts from its beak, but before it can do anything else, the Paladin and the Dwarf are upon it.
It all happens so fast. The Paladin cuts off one of it's legs with one slash of his Holy Blade. Blood, everywhere. The Owl Bear's cry grows louder as it topples and hits the ground. The Dwarf brings his axe down, again. Again. Again. He doesn't stop. All I can hear is that sound, that sound of the Dwarf's axe and the Owl Bear's cry. It's not a cry of anger. It's not calling more of it's kind to come kill us, it's just -
The Paladin hacks off an arm now. I can't look away for some reason. Blood's covering everything. I start to count the arrows in its side when the Dr. Magic sets it on fire, melting all of the wooden shafts. The fire burns the nerves. The cry is louder than ever. I want the cry to stop. I can't possibly imagine the pain and I don't want to even try so stop making that sound will you please stop making that
And then the sound stops. It's just thump thump thump now, as the Paladin and the Dwarf keep hitting the burning corpse.
There is silence, for a moment, before I hear another cry, to my right. Two cries. One is full of fear, the other sadness. I turn to face these smaller sounds. Two baby Owl Bears hide behind a tree. I can see their eyes by the light of the fire. I wish I couldn't. I look away. I look at my companions. The archer awkwardly tries to retrieve some of his arrows from the dead animal, and starts chiding the Magician for ruining his brand new Unicorn Arrows. The Dwarf is just smiling, cleaning off his axe. The Paladin - the supposed paragon of justice! - sheathes his sword and tries to find the path again.
Maybe we're the true Owl Bears, guys. Maybe we are.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Every day is a gift. That's why they call it the present." - Something hanging up in my Aunt's bathroom
- Conor O'Brien