Ludo advanced into the clearing. He used his the field craft taught to him by his father’s gamekeeper to explain to Maruc what happened. Pointing to the various spoors “looks like the attackers came in from two directions at once and took these poor sods by surprise. there were it least eight attackers, most likely more, its hard to tell. A classic and well coordinated surprise attack. The attackers quickly overcame resistance, and killed them gesturing to the bodies within the dying fire within seconds. I expect they attacked at dawn going by the state of the fire, which means the attackers could be miles away by now. Equally they could still be close by. They decapitated the bodies which is disturbing. They could have taken the heads for a ritual or just to warn off anyone who came looking for the source of the fire, by that statement I mean us. Ludo shuddered, there is nothing we can do for them I suggest we move on as quickly as we can and get clear of this area before they come back”.
Maruc cast around the scene. “Its a warning. To my mind its to ward off would be adventurers. These larger foot prints how tall were the attackers? Six or seven foot tall? You say this was a surprise attack? So we are looking for cunning creatures larger than the largest man? Weapon users, look the at the spear there. The tracks goes back up into the mountains? Hmm I’d rather not leave these poor souls unburied but we cannot burn them, we don’t have the time or resources and we cannot give them warning that we are coming.”
He knelt in the centre of the camp. “Blessed Halav on your carven throne in the south, receive the souls of your children who have fallen here.” He stood up and faced the north. “As Halav is our guide. Let us revenge this travesty.”
Miklos rubbed his hand over the blackened soil. “Normal. No magical blast here. At least that’s something. “Yes Ludo, although ghoulish you are correct, we cannot tarry.” He looked at the tracks, the mage was no expert but by the gait he would be surprised that these creatures were capable of stealth.
Stephan touched some blood splattered on a tree. “A bit tacky still. Maybe 2 or 3 hours old.” It was easy to see more blood balled up in clots of the loamy river soils. “A lot of blood here. Maybe it’s where they bagged the heads,” he said looking down at a spot near the edge of the camp. “Sloppy work,” he muttered shaking his head.
“Da,” Stephan said as if he’d come to some conclusion. “We are lucky to have this warning. The trail heads in the direction we go but we now go with great caution. We are the hunters now. Let’s find our prey.”
Feldard’s palms itched. Whatever attacked these poor blokes would find that he and his companion more than a match for them. He nodded at Stephen’s comment that they hunt these creatures down. He let the elf and Ludo lead they would be better able to see an signs along the trail. For his part, he kept an alert watch as they continued on along the trail.
Ten minutes after they left the camp, a thick mist began to roll down the valley. The land grew quiet, and only the rhythmic sound of the group’s pace broke the silence.
The dense mist clung to clothing and moisture dripped from the sparse bushes. From all around came a sound reminiscent of the dull clack of dried bones, and the stench of long dead creatures assailed the adventurers’ nostrils. Up ahead, an unsettling wail began, and three tall spindly creatures with gory heads loomed up from out of the mist.