Chapter 27

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"Shit!" Uriel yelled. He scrambled up and away from the bird and managed to back right into something. He yelled again and turned only to find that the object obstructing his retreat was a tree. Meanwhile, Arhyvhynne and Ghemella came awake at his shouts and stood beside him. The High Witch held the charmed sword in her hand, Ghemella her curved dagger. They waited for the attack.

The vhultard had made no move, however. It had remained on the branch, content to observe its prey. Then the large bird threw its head back and an eerie cackling issued from its throat, making a noise that sounded like demented laughter. Moments later, the bird shrieked and took off, flying in the direction of the Thaums.

Unsettled by the visitation and thinking their pursuer was closing on them, the party decided to set out. They were still more than a day's ride from the Sylvan Forest and feared they might not make it before being overtaken.

By the time the second sun rose on their third day of travel, the party was already tired and fatigued. However, the bright summer day lifted their spirits a bit and they travelled on with grim determination. But the beauty of the day soon wore off. Uriel, Ghemella and Arhyvhynne finally turned to each other to relieve the boredom of travel and tension that mounted from constant apprehension.

Uriel remarked to the High Witch about the gradual change that they were witnessing in the countryside as they got farther away from the Thaums. Though the terrain had remained flat, the grass in this region of Khaballe was two or three inches longer and colored bluish-violet. They also noticed that there were more trees, most of them having bark of a similar color to the grass and many-pointed pink leaves. They were also not of the great height that Uriel had seen nearer to the Thaums.

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