Chapter 27

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Dawn eventually rescued the party from their overactive imaginations and they made out for what they hoped would be their last day of travel in the open for a while. Ghemella was holding up rather well. The welt was not healing but with the aid of Arhyvhynne's healing, the effects of it were minimal and under control. The High Witch herself was somewhat withdrawn. The burdens of the summons, Uriel's concealment, journey, healings and lack of rest were exacting a heavy toll on the young witch. Uriel was a jumble of emotions and nerves. He was beginning to obtain a defeatist attitude, feeling that there were simply too many things stacked against him.

Their fourth day of travel was as nice as the previous one, though a bit warmer. Midway through the day, the party stopped and ate a hasty lunch, their anticipation equal to their trepidation. Uriel complained most of the afternoon, bemoaning the fact that the forest had still not come into sight. Then shortly after an early dinner, the party noticed the grass was getting shorter and greener and they began to see a proliferation of trees. They also saw the horizon darken far in the distance and assumed they were nearing the Sylvan Forest. Their mood brightened considerably knowing they would make the forest by sunset.

They rode on for another half an hour before Ghemella saw a rider coming towards them. Arhyvhynne presumed the rider to be an elven messenger or sentry from Qyntes'ah. But as he approached, the horses and Ullyna became excitable. Ghemella heard familiar shrill cries from behind her and she wheeled her Spyhr around only to see a flock of eleven vhultards descending upon them. A group of the birds settled on the ground a distance behind them while the remaining ones circled above. Then she detected a rank smell in the air. The Guardian turned back to see a skeleton with rotting flesh falling from it, coming towards them at a full gallop.

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