Kazimier and his patrol discovered Jyslyn, a dark elf, lying near death.
The Sylvan Forest
Jyslyn watched her captor run to join the fight. She remained behind, hefting her borrowed dagger in her hand, getting a feel for its weight. Gnolls swarmed from the darkness of the forest, but if they used the darkness, Jyslyn was at home in it. She ducked behind the fallen log and crept on barefeet over the dirt floor of the forest, making no sound. The clash of swords and shouts of the surface elves just made things easier for her as she worked her way behind the gnolls.
Something about the attack didn't feel right, but a battle was no time for introspection. First priority, neutralize the threat. A few spells came to her mind, but without needed components, they may as well have been dreams. The dagger, though, was real. As was the gnoll lurking behind his horde, waiting to dart in with his spear. Jyslyn crept towards him, willing herself to become one with the forest shadows. The gnoll raised his spear, readying for a overhead thrust down on a surface elf.
Jyslyn moved in, her tunic's folds whispering against themselves. A twig snapped beneath her feet, getting the gnoll's attention. Too late, he whirled his head around to see his new attacker. Jyslyn slashed with her borrowed dagger, the blade cutting a blood red line on the gnoll's neck. He dropped his sword to grasp at the wound, unable to call a warning. Jyslyn felt the spray of hot blood on her arm as she turned to her next target.
Before Jyslyn could step in, the gnoll fell, cut through by an elven blade. Jyslyn stepped back, not wanting to become an "accidental" victim. The surface elf stepped into the gap he created, trying to push back the fight. Jyslyn side-stepped down the line. Through gaps in the battle, she spied her healer, Kazimier, fighting beside his comrade-in-arms. The two worked together, one feinting to give the other an opening. Jyslyn allowed herself a moment of envy; neither of the the two surface elves would ever have to worry about the other taking advantage of the moment to kill him. The thought was almost alien to her.
A roar brought Jyslyn back to the now. She ducked as she spun around. Another gnoll, bigger than the rest, led a cave bear on a rope lead. Jyslyn risked a quick glance back at the surface elves; none could see the beast. The head gnoll didn't act like he knew she was there. Jyslyn saw several ways to escape. And yet... It's not what we choose, but why.
"Cave bear!" she shouted.
The head gnoll looked in her direction. He dropped the rope lead and pointed at her, snarling something in his language. While Jyslyn didn't understand the words, she understood the gist. The bear lumbered towards her, covering the distance between them far faster than the elf could imagine. Jyslyn backed up, running into a tree. The burns on her back screamed at her, but she ignored the pain. Pain now meant she was still alive. She held up her dagger, still stained with the blood of the gnoll she killed. Even if the bear killed her, it will know that it was in a fight.
The cave bear reared on its hind legs, towering over Jyslyn. The dark elf looked for an opening, trying to find a way past its massive paws to cut it. She danced out of the way of a swipe, dodging behind the tree. The beast roared. Jyslyn smelled rotting meat in its breath, but she kept her attention on the cave bear. The bear walked in, snarling. It reached around the tree with both arms. Jyslyn ducked to avoid the long claws, then rolled away from the tree. The bear fell to all fours as it followed her. Jyslyn raised her dagger again, flicking the weapon at the bear to try keeping it away. Ignoring the weapon, the cave bear charged in. The dark elf stepped backward. Her heel hit an exposed root; the dark elf fell on her back. The bear raised a meaty paw.
A shield appeared over Jyslyn. The bear struck the shield with a loud clang. Jyslyn rolled away, running against a pair of legs. Without looking, she crawled on hands and knees away, giving whoever was standing over her room to fight. The bear reared again, but the elf, the two elves Jyslyn now saw, pressed their attack, sword and shield. An arrow embedded itself in the bear's shoulder. The beast cried out in pain and anger. It swatted at the elves before it.
Away from the danger, Jyslyn got to her feet. Somehow, she still had the dagger in her hand. The bear stood against the elves before it, even with the wounds it was taking from sword and arrow. Jyslyn focused on the bear, watching it move. She raised the dagger, her arm back, ready to throw. The bear dropped back to its feet, backing away from the onslaught. Jyslyn moved, trying to find an opening. One of the surface elves fell to the bear's paw. Kazimier ran in to pull his comrade out of the way. In that moment, Jyslyn saw her opening.
The dark elf hurled the dagger. The blade flew true to her aim, over Kazimier's head and into the cave bear's eye. The beast had no time to react. All it did was collapse under its own weight. It gave one last breath.
Jyslyn pointed at the leader of the gnolls, now running deeper into the forest. Two of the surface elves started to follow, but were called back. Jyslyn marched to the dead cave bear and pulled the dagger out. All the surface elves standing pointed weapons, sword or nocked bow, at her. She held the blade with her thumb and forefinger as she walked over to Kazimier. "Thank you."
Kazimier took his dagger back. "You've been able to understand us all this time."
"You just assumed I couldn't." She crossed her wrists and offered them to Kazimier.
"Right." He called for his comrade, Carrad.
Carrad arrived with another length of rope. "Kazimier, Danen recognized the markings on the gnolls. They're the Cleaven Eye Clan. Danen's sketching the tattoos now."
"The Cleaven Eye?" Kazimier repeated. "I thought they were south of here."
"They are," Jyslyn said,
"I need to bury our dead," Carrad said. "Just one, Derluen."
Kazimier grimaced. "I will send praryers to the Lightbringer for him." As Carrad returned to his duties, the priest turned back to Jyslyn. "You could have run."
"It was one of my choices, yes."
"Are you going to run?"
"I am your prisoner. I will not escape."
Elsewhere, other plots begin.