The forest was dark and dismal. No bird made a sound, no creatures were heard. A lone path led through the forest, and this was hardly ever used. Only two other paths travel through this particular forest, and no no man had walked there for many years. The sudden clip-clopping of horse’s hooves broke the complete silence. For a moment, the path remained empty until a cloaked rider emerges through the darkness. He was tall, and the cloak he wore was dark maroon. The hood of it shadowed his face completely, concealing his features. A large coat of arms was drawn in gold onto the back, and it seemed to shine feebly in the dark of the forest, providing the only light other than the fading sun.
As the rider continued on his way, his position did not change. His head looked in the same direction, arms stiff at his side. Still nothing stirred. The night darkened, but the horse continued along the path, never straying or requiring assistance from the rider. Soon, the horse slowed to a stop for the first time in hours. The rider remained motionless, staring straight ahead. The horse sniffed the air, and his eyes widened. It whinnied, then pawed the ground nervously. Still the rider did nothing, and the horse slowly continued walking. Each step was cautious; the horse was obviously aware of something that the rider was not.
A breeze blew through the forest, making the bushes and trees sway slightly. Still, the horse plodded on and the vegetation in the forest soon settled back and was still. Suddenly, the bush to the left of the horse and rider moved. It was not much, but the horse’s keen eyes saw it immediately. Neighing, the horse reared back, swinging its legs wildly in panic. The rider stayed on the horse, still not moving as it came back down in a matter of seconds. Quickly the bush moved again, and this time a small humanoid creature jumped out. It was short, and it’s skin was a sickly dark green. A black mohawk was on it’s head, which stood out against his skin color. The creature bore a spear nearly larger than itself, and many darts were attached to a leather strap over it’s chest. It shouted a small cry in an unknown language, and then two other beasts much like the first jumped out of their hiding places.
The horse and rider were surrounded by goblins, who continued to talk to each other quietly in their own language. The horse was clearly uncomfortable. It turned back and forth, seeming to size up each of the goblins in turn. Still the rider did not react and his limbs remained by his side. The goblins appeared to come to an agreement, and there was a moment of silence. Then three things happened at once. The goblins let out a huge scream, and came running at the the horse with their spears outstretched. The horse reared back and made a large noise that sounded a bit like screaming, as two of the goblin’s spears pierced the horse’s flesh. At the same time, a loud metallic clang rang out.
One of the goblins, instead of attempting to kill the horse, decided that he would wound the rider. Running towards him, the goblin screamed keeping his spear tip pointed straight at the rider. Suddenly, as the spear made contact with the rider’s body, a bang blasted throughout the forest, the spear lying broken on the ground. Spear points embedded in his chest, the lights faded from the horse’s eyes. Slowly, he tottered over and lay sprawled on the ground. Still, the rider remained in the same position he was in while riding on the horse’s back. Only one difference: the hood had come off.
Wanting to investigate the strange sound, the goblins cautiously moved toward the motionless bodies. The rider’s head was revealed in a patch of dim sunlight, causing the goblins to gasp and look at each other in confusion. The rider’s head had no flesh, nothing but many layered pieces of metal. In fact, the whole figure was made out of metal, dressed in a human’s clothes. Glancing at one another, the goblins stood stunned at what they discovered. It was a distraction. A fake.
After a few moments of confused silence, the goblins soon regained sense. Starting to move around again, one of the goblins reached into his satchel and pulled out a small hunting horn. Raising it to his lips, he echoed a long blast throughout the forest. It was quickly met by another blast, coming from the goblins’ left. The forest fell silent once more.
A mile away, a man with dark brown hair sat very still upon a horse. Before him was the fork, where the beaten path split into three different trails, all leading to the forest. The hunting blasts echoed throughout the land, and the man started to smile. Pointed teeth showed, and two of them poked out of the man’s mouth, coming to rest on his upper lip. A low sound started in the back of his throat, and that turned into a deep, laugh. It was a werewolf. Signaling with his hand in the air, his horse started to run towards the path to the werewolf’s right. Two other horses with masked riders of their own rode alongside him, flanking him on either side. The Red Rider was not on the left path, nor the middle one.
The trio galloped down the right fork. The horses were running faster than they had ever been pushed to run before, and in seconds, the three men were at the edge of the forest. Changing to a single file arrangement, the men rode down the path at a much slower, more casual speed. The forest continued it’s previous silence, not a sound could be heard in any direction. Suddenly, ahead of the riders on the path was a strange lump. Glancing quickly around, the werewolf dismounted and walked towards the unusual shape. Fading sunlight broke through a gap in the trees, illuminating the three goblins laying dead upon the ground, their supplies thrown about them in a disorderly fashion.
Scowling at the stupidity of the small creatures, the werewolf mounted his horse again. Signaling to his other followers, they continued to ride down the path, following a trail of fresh hoof-prints. Ahead of the riders, the trees parted, leading to an open field. The setting sun shone over the horizon, casting a bright orange light over the field before them. The path they were following led straight ahead before turning sharply to the right. In the distance a rider was hunched over, urging his horse to go faster. The rider was a male, his maroon cloak billowed behind him from his speed. The werewolf forced his horse to go faster, noticing that his followers had not been able to keep up with him. He did not care.
Glancing back, the rider could see the werewolf slowly gaining ground. Tall grass whipped at the horse’s legs, the wind stinging its eyes and rushing past its ears. Knowing his horse was outmatched, the rider reached his open hand into a pouch at his side. Withdrawing his hand, he held a small vial of a dimly glowing, red liquid. Looking behind him, he gauged the distance remaining between him and the werewolf. To close for comfort, the rider grimly thought. Grasping the vial in one hand, he heaved it behind him. Time seemed to slow down. The vial went upwards, spiraling through the air until reaching the peak of it’s trajectory. It started the descent, heading straight for the werewolf, who was oblivious to the rider’s actions.
The small vial collided with the werewolf head on. The ground and air shook from the the force of the massive explosion that came from the thrown object. The werewolf was thrown on fire from the explosion, landing dead a short ways away. The grass surrounding the explosion burst into flames. Lifting his closed fist in triumph, a smile spread across the Red Rider’s face as he rode off into the distance.
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