The Karoth Chronicles: Shadow Rising
The departure from the Palace was a bittersweet event. While the Kingdom looked on with hope, they also looked on with trepidation at the days to come, without their magnificent hero to guide and protect them.
The Twenty-One began their journey north in silence, only broken by the thump of boot heels and cracking twigs. It would be three long days before they reached the border out of the Kingdom, and then the incredibly long journey north to find the Orb of Karoth, their only information being that it was hidden within a Vale of Shadows somewhere in the place where Winter never dies.
Near the end of the first day, Dragonsbane called a halt. He knelt on the dusty dirt road, examining a set of tracks.
"Light boot tread, many. Here, scrapings, probably weapons. Be on your guard, men, there's barbarians nearby. The tracks are fresh, only a few hours old."
Aeron gripped Peacebringer, loosening it in his sheath, and glanced around. The barbarians were woodcrafty when they wanted to be.
Kadis gripped his warhammer at Aeron's warning, bringing it down from his shoulder, gripping near the head with his left hand. The other guards glanced around nervously, gripping their weapons.
"Come, we must keep moving, men." Aeron's voice betrayed no nervousness, only a steady confidence.
The group pressed on, silenced by an overwhelming anxiety and a deep sense of forboding.