Odorf lived in a small community, a really small community size wise, seeing as he was a halfling. Also the fact that they were nomads, currently traversing through the Red Desert. A vast wilderness often used by caravans and adventurers for safe travel. Halflings are really short, reaching heights of one meter and peculiar little creatures. They like to explore and research wherever they are, very curious by nature. For that reason, the community’s elder Thaf McWillow has decided that they should take this route. True, it is a longer and more exhausting route, however it will provide more safety for his people. Well, at least until they reach the next settlement, Old Obarren.
For weeks now they have been in the great nothingness with only a few passing souls. Odorf was bored out of his mind. He did have a bit of a different sense of humor, he enjoyed pranks, the ones that went too far. And for his relative small size he enjoyed brawls and the occasional dagger-through-your-skull kind of fun, unusually un-halfling like. It was his dark secret that he hid so well for years now, and he was keen on keeping things like that. He had no gains from his dark fun. as he could swindle gold coins whenever he wanted to, he just did it for the sheer fun of it. How did a community of peace and neighborly love managed to spawn such a seed is still amazing.
Even though the Red Desert was a wasteland, many a creatures inhabited it. Travelers reported frequent attacks by these critters, however, most of them are easy to fend off. Unless you run into a Wyvern or a Dragon, of course, as they usually either wait for you to boil alive or boil you alive. However, you would need to have a lot of treasure on you to get noticed by such creatures. On the bright side, all those stories did manage to scare off the low-life raiders so they didn’t dare go into the deserts. On the outskirts it was a different story. Even though if they did manage to cause any kind of trouble, the Protectorate could find and deal with them easily.
After three weeks of continuous boredom and heat, Thaf decided they should stop for the day, he had a weird feeling. It was hotter than usual, although it was hard to tell, it seemed like one of the Circles of the Nine Hells. Nevertheless, he felt eerie.
“We should halt for the day, find shelter and set up camp. Something is odd.” Said Thaf.
“What do you mean odd? Did the heat finally boil what was left of your brain? We should keep moving and get the Hells out of here as fast as possible.” Brienn quickly tried to change her husband’s mind.
“Woman how many times do I have to tell you, keep your trapper shut!” Thaf started yelling. But he did not notice his wife’s plan. She knew if she keeps him talking long enough he will forget what he wanted, she’s been doing this for days now. Luckily Thaf never had a good hunch about anything so she was sure it was a fluke this time as well. Odorf felt something too, it might have been the lack of food in his belly, or just the heat finally getting to him, but he did feel that something was odd. Unintentionally he smirked. Whatever he felt, whatever is coming meant excitement, and he wanted to have some fun.
As they moved on, the heat was getting unbearable, the sand started burning beneath their feet, even the wind that was gently blowing was hot and dry. Even Brienn agreed to seek shelter, until at least it was possible to move on. It wasn’t hard to find shelter in the Red Desert, it had many hills and small crevices suitable for a breather, the trick however was to find them underneath the dunes. Oddly enough they did find one with great ease just a bit further up ahead of them. Odorf noticed that it was not natural, something has dug its way in, or out, something quite large. Nevertheless he didn’t say anything. He was hoping whoever or whatever did this was still inside. He grinned with an evil look in his eyes again. He smelled trouble and he was glad.
As the small group was entering the hideout, Odorf noticed that the hole was indeed dug by something big, but probably a long time ago hough. He was disappointed a bit by this fact, he really wanted to see and slay a big creature. He enjoyed scouting and scavenging, he especially enjoyed tracking creatures, unlike other halflings. One time he could even tell what kind of animal passed near the forest where he lives just by examining the tracks left behind. He did notice a few footprints that seemed to elude everyone else’s attention. By the looks of it, a number of creatures have already used this hole as shelter, and the most recent might have been either humans or orcs, he was not yet certain.
The inside of the huge hole smelled like wet clothes. Odorf could smell something else too, burnt wood, put out not so long ago. Someone is still using this as a hideout. This could mean he might be able to loot. Or even better yet, to trap whoever is going to come back and have some fun. He suddenly got goose bumps.
“There are bedrolls here.” Thaf said while picking up the bedrolls.
“I knew this was trouble you old fool! Now you’ve gon’ and got us killed!” Brienn yelled at Thaf as she was hitting him with her walking stick. “You stupid oaf! I should have married Tharlak!” Brienn continued hitting him.
“Stop it. Both of you. Nobody will die today. Listen to me and we will be safe.” Odorf jumped in between them trying to calm the couple down. “Here is what we will do. You two over there, gather as much wood as you can, and rope as well. You three cut the bedrolls into long strips, and gather as many sharp objects as possible. The rest gather food, drinks and anything of value. And finally, you two” pointing at Thaf and Brienn “shut up and help me make the traps.” Everyone was looking at Odorf, nobody was used to getting orders from anyone besides Thaf. However, they all nodded and went about their tasks.
“What are you planning Odorf? You don’t even know what we are up against!” Thaf said this with a worrying voice. “You are right chief, we don’t know what might come back, and in what numbers. But we need to get prepared and we have to defend ourselves.” Odorf said while tying ropes together to make it longer. Even though he said they don’t know what they are up against, he had a pretty clear idea who ‘lived’ here. After examining the tracks, bedrolls, and the setting of the hole, Odorf concluded that it can’t be more than three adult humans. So he thought up a plan to make traps, set them at the entrance and spring it when the party comes back. While they have the element of surprise they can do with the prisoners what they wish, this made him feel excited. He was looking forward to it.
“The younglings should be near the entrance, to warn us in case of the dwellers returning.” Odorf faced the young halflings, and in a calm manner said:”As soon as you see anything, and I mean anything come close, let me know, alright?” The kids just nodded and went to their positions. After a few hours of preparation the traps were ready to be set in place. Now all they needed was to figure out how to go about it.
…The Dice of Fate will roll once again…
By Dejan Vicai