The last light of the setting sun fell gently across the path of Kennon and his companions as they followed a small dirt trail deeper into the forest. It was well over an hour since they had left the camp, and the forest seemed not to have changed at all. The trees were old, and there was a smattering of underbrush everywhere they looked, and hardly any sounds of wild life.
“I am beginning to have an uneasy feeling about this.” Thaellen said after awhile, his keen eyes piercing the shadows that the others could not. “I have never been in a forest this devoid of living things. As if something has frightened them all off.”
Kennon looked side long at the elf. “Are you suggesting that there is some truth to all the rumors we have heard since arriving in this little hamlet?”
Kronin, who was walking behind the other two, said. “There is certainly an aura of evil like I have not felt in many years, I am surprised you can not feel it too, Kennon.”
Kennon winced at the comment.
Kennon had been a holy knight known as a Paladin of the Silver Order almost fifteen years ago. He had begun at a young age and had risen in the ranks quickly. His faith had been strong as a younger man, and because of that he had been able to pass all the Holy Rights a year earlier then was usual. After his official induction as a fully ordained Knight, he had been sent to the Valley of Orin, where the Silver Order was campaigning against a vile incursion of the northern barbarians. During the campaign, later known as the War of Rights, Kennon won great renown and was hailed a great champion of the Order. Then a tragedy overcame the Silver Order. Their leader, High Marshall Roth, was murdered, and the Order was never able to recover. Three years later, it was disbanded. Kennon had been devastated, not just by the loss of his blooming career, but because of the abject wickedness that was demonstrated by his fellow Paladins in light of their dismissal. His faith shattered and every thing he had worked for gone, he left his homeland, rather than join the royal army like most of his comrades had done. He wandered far and wide and became a mercenary, rejecting the tenants that he had clung to so fiercely as a Paladin.
Now he was a part of a band whose purpose was to weed out “monsters” for a hefty price. The trend of terrorizing small villages with the pretext of ghouls and goblins had started a few years ago, when rumors trickled down from the north of an ancient evil stirring in the vast uncharted wastelands of the northern tundra. Kennon and his group would masquerade as men of holy power who could rid the village or town of their haunting apparition for a price. It almost always turned out to be nothing more then profit seeking hooligans using showmanship to cause panic and distress.
Though as Thaellen had said, this felt different. For the first time in years a small tendril of doubt crept in to the paladins heart.
He had fallen so very low.
Kennon looked back at Kronin, whose shifty eyes just glared back.
“I am not surprised that I can not feel anything. It has been a long time since those days, and I would thank you not to bring it up.”
They had stopped in a small clearing, the thin moon casting very little light on the three of them. Thaellen was gazing off into the darkness of the forest.
“Blink is returning.” He whispered.
Sure enough, a few seconds after he said this there was a soft pop, and the huge beast appeared in their midst.
“I have found something. Not far ahead, maybe another hour or so, there is a low range of small hills that cut across this forest. There is an evil feel around those hills, and as far as I can tell it all seems to be originating from a small cave on the northern side