Witherton’s breath condensed in the cool night air as he made his way through the dense thicket. Hacking at the occasional root or vine with his cutlass, he set a good pace, his movements swift and silent.
Suddenly the dense foliage cleared, and he struggled to find his footing as the ground turned to loose shale, and a vast rocky expanse opened before him. His experience in the wilderness made the forest trek a relatively simple task, but Witherton gazed at the mountainous horizon with a grim sense of foreboding.
He had set off for what should be a two day trip almost a week ago, but having awoken from a deep slumber on the second day, he had found his beloved horse gone. The ropes that had bound his steed, hacked in two. Backtracking a few days previously had uncovered many clues, clues that only a master tracker such as himself could identify… he was being followed.
Witherton made camp in a small secluded forest clearing, at the foot of a great mountain near Minoc. He threw his heavy backpack to the ground, and gathered dried bracken for a fire. He sat staring at the dancing flames, drawing comfort from the light, as he drifted into a deep slumber...
* * *
Witherton awoke suddenly, stumbled towards his backpack and pulled out his cutlass. He had heard a noise, or perhaps it was just a dream. His fears were confirmed suddenly, as the very air he breathed started to crackle, a very powerful magic was in the area. He jumped upright, peering through the dark night into the shadowy trees nearby.
“Come out and face me like a man!” Demanded Witherton.
The crackling faded, and silence surrounded him. Witherton’s eyes began adjusting to the light, but no human forms could be made out of the shadows that enclosed him. His heart pounded in his chest as he fumbled his few belongings into his backpack and darted up the mountainside. It was unlikely any man could get past his keen senses, but fate had dealt Witherton a cruel hand.
Death came swiftly, as a shadowy figure struck him a single blow to the back of the head. His lifeless body rolled limp down the mountainside, finally coming to rest alongside a large boulder, his blood soaking quickly into the loose soil beneath.
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online