The Barrens were aptly named, little grew here and most of what did would rather kill you then look at you. High above the sun creeps across the blazing sky casting shadows of the dry scrub in sharp relief across the parched red soil.
Deep in the shadows of a shallow cave movement stirs. A boar, a big one from the look of it. It charges out of the shadows at a passing scorpid. Goring it to death, he adds it to a pile of friends that litter the ground outside the mouth of the cave.
Seen in the harsh sunlight the boar is an ugly thing . It’s ribs are showing and it’s hide bears the scars of many battles. Its face is sunken in with a look of death about it. Yet it has an oddly intelligent, coldly calculating, gleam in it’s eye. Flies buzz about the undead boar as he walks calmly back to the cave, back to standing guard.
From the the back of the cave comes a low moan, a rustling of the shadows. The tall figure crawls out and sits with the hideous Boar, his smile showing off a pair of short tusks. With a chuckle he glances at the pile of bodies, then begins absently scratching the boar behind the ears.
Muscles ripple under his blue-green skin as the figure that came from the cave stands and stretches. Joints crack like popcorn, old scars whiten, and tendons show as he lets out a deep sigh. He too has the look of one who has seen much battle, too much perhaps. His armor is scuffed dented and shows the marks of many repairs. His pack bulges with the odds and ends of the adventuring trade.
He makes a careful check of the smoking device in his hands. It has the oddly mechanical look of a Gnomish contraption. Snarling at it with disdain he launches the burned out device at the pile of bodies laying near the mouth of the cave, then checks his rifle. Of all the things the troll carries, nothing looks so well cared for. It too bears the marks of many a battle, but though wear and dust cover everything else it glows, clean and well oiled.
Shouldering the massive pack like it weighs no more than a few ounces the hunter surveys the land. Absently talking to the boar the hunter says “Well now Gritta, looks like we be in the barrens again, but which barrens that’s another question, right mon?” Shrugging his shoulders into the pack straps they set off to the road.
Dodging the wildlife of the barrens was much easier than it once was, but it still took some time before the roadbed came into sight. Putting the sun on his right shoulder the hunter loped north towards A town he had seen many a time before. Planning to rest a bit once he was safely inside the walls.
It was late afternoon when the towers of Crossroads finally came into view over the horizon, and early evening when the gates of the town finally came into sight. A familiar settlement, and yet not. He knew them all by name, the merchants he had made many a purchase from in his younger days looked at him with a suspicion usually reserved for outsiders.
Entering the inn he takes a moment inside the door, taking it all in as his coal black eyes adjust to the dim light. Everything is exactly as he remembered. Roughly carved wooden benches sit on either side of the weathered tables. The pot of stew simmering on the hearth smells of rabbit and potatoes, just as it always does.
The few patrons in the room looking up at him with open curiosity. Half a dozen familiar faces looking his way, yet no eyes showed the spark of recognition. Even the keeper of the inn looked at him as an outsider. That’s when he knew the gnomes had failed him again.
The real blow came when he went to sign the guest ledger and take a room for the night. When the innkeeper glanced at the book and told him “I don’t know who you are, Troll, but I know Gal’Bek from many visits to my inn. You are no more Gal’Bek than I am.”
Anger seethed in the hunters eyes, The damn Gnomes and their damn transporter had not taken him home. He had lost almost everything he owned the first time he had tried their device. He had lost most of his property, taken from him by the shady dealers in Booty Bay. Had lost his friends when he found himself in a strange new world. He had lost his faith in everything but the boar at his side and the rifle on his back.
They had promised him this would take him home, apparently their gadgets were no more trustworthy than ever. So now he finds himself here, a stranger in a strange land. Familiar but not, a mirror of what once was home. Tomorrow the quest begins again. He will find a way back, or die trying. He stares at the ledger.
He knows it’s wrong but he needs a place to lay his head for the night. With sadness in his heart he leans down to his constant companion and says “Well mon, looks like the damn gnomes even took me name away this time. Don’t you worry though, I’ll find us a way back home.” A tear hits the paper as he signs his name as Dekado.
Heading off to his room the hunter sleeps a restless sleep, and dreams of those left behind.
Curling up at the foot of the bunk Gritta stands watch over his friend. Knowing that tomorrow is a new day, Positive that his master will lead him home.