Leatherfoot Tales: The Last of the Teir'Dal, Part One
The Houndslayer's adventures continue as he and his comrades make their way through the dangerous regions of Kithicor and Nektulos.
Debate rages through history as to the origins of the dark elves, or as they call themselves, the Teir'Dal. Considering how different they look, it's easy to see why folks might think they're not elves. Looking at them closely, though, one can see the tilt of their eyes and the ears and realize they really are elves. Sometimes folks call them elves and sometimes Teir?Dal.
Battles are fought every day in some form or other through the world. It seemed to Gumpy Nattoo, whom the Kithicor rangers had named "the Houndslayer," that it would be much simpler if they could get from point A (Rivervale) to point B (First Gate) without anyone else trying to stop them. But no, that would indeed be too simple. Though the units traveled through Kithicor quickly and silently, they still ran into occasional problems.
Gumpy was tasked with relaying messages between the halfling's Leatherfoot units and the Kithicor ranger units. As they were traveling through the woods quickly and as silently as possible, Gumpy's messages were often late by the time they reached their destination. "And I'm about ready to pass out," Gumpy said under his breath. "Any more running around and I will name them Gumpyslayer."
On one of his fruitless treks, Gumpy unexpectedly encountered a group of gnomes. In the past several months, gnomes from Ak'Anon on Faydwer had been seeking refuge in Rivervale from an advancing force of dark elves. These gnomes, however, were not heading toward Rivervale but rather, away from it. "We're with the Leatherfeet," said one of them when Gumpy approached. "We've got a mechanamagical device that we're finishing up for your fight." "Oh," said Gumpy blankly, "that's nice."
Meeting up with the gnomes wasn't the first time Gumpy wished he hadn't slipped out for a snack during the Sarge's briefing. When the units camped down for the night, he tried to overhear any discussion of the forthcoming battle so that he might know their plan. He felt as though he may as well be on the dark elves' side as he had no idea what the halflings and Kithicor units were going to do once they reached the First Gate. And what of the gnomes?
The gnomes proved a chatty group and Gumpy found himself tagging along with them more and more frequently as their journey continued through Kithicor. Every so often, an arrow would whistle out of the dark and take out one of the gnomes. For a few minutes thereafter, the remaining gnomes whispered anxiously, but in time they forgot their caution and would chat normally again. Until the next arrow whizzed in, whereupon they began whispering anew.
From their incessant chatter, Gumpy learned that the gnomes, while fleeing the battle, were also doing a favor for the high elves in Felwithe. The high elves were concerned that the dark elves would overtake the city by keeping it besieged. They'd asked the gnomes to head to Neriak to stop any reinforcements from leaving, and in turn the gnomes appealed to the Kithicor rangers and the Leatherfoot's elite units for help.
"But what exactly are we going to do?" Gumpy asked one of the handful of gnomes left. "Why, it's easy-peasy!" laughed the gnome, patting his chest confidently. "You see, we gnomes know there's one way in and out of Neriak and that's the First Gate, right? So, we're going to take this mechanamagic device and..." At that unfortunate moment, an arrow struck the gnome and Gumpy learned nothing more about their mission.
"There won't be any gnomes left at this rate," Gumpy thought. "I wonder what he had in his pocket?" Slipping his fingers into the dead gnome's coat, Gumpy located a small jumble of sprockets -- or were they cogs? he could never remember -- and pulled it out. It looked interesting, but Gumpy wished it had been something like venison jerky instead.
"Here, I'll take that, son," the Sarge's whisper nearly caused Gumpy to leap out of his ivy-etched jerkin. The Sarge added, "Hopefully, we'll have at least one gnome left by the First Gate or we won't know how it's to go together. Come on, then!" All around them, Kithicor rangers emerged from the shadows of the trees, each grabbing a gnome by the scruff of its neck before disappearing again.