I twisted the jar in my palm, staring but not seeing. There was so much to be done, but being left with no resources, I felt stuck. Much like my little firefly companion.
“Mistshadow guide me on my path.” I muttered the prayer into the cold, staring back down the path I had come. Any day, they could overtake me. Horses are impossible to outpace, troublesome beasts.
And so, I would be spending the night on a wooded hill overlooking the road. Likely it would be another sleepless night, but I had to know if they would get to the next city before I did. It would make things a lot harder.
Nearby, trees rustled.
I dove to the side, tossing the jar to the ground and scooping up my mace and shield. I addressed the intruder, ready to tackle anything that might bear ill will.
The terrified mouse scurried away.
Well, one foe conquered, I suppose. I put my weapons down and exhaled.
“This whole thing has really got me worked up.”
The sun had already set, but I hadn’t realized how dark it was until then. I would have to make do without a fire, lest I receive unwanted attention. I promised my empty stomach and cold bones I would make a fire as soon as the sun returned.
I caught movement coming down the road. Fast. There were two, and they had to be mounted. I took a tentative step behind a tree, but kept a close eye as they approached. If they stayed on the road, they wouldn’t reach fifty feet of me, but I had to be silent as the wind through a field.
“We should have caught up to him hours ago,” one said as they neared. Their horses were in a steady canter, sacrificing speed for a more acute survey. I hid behind the tree completely and held my breath, hoping nothing was within line of sight for my pursuers.
“Fact is we haven’t. What do you suggest? We go back and look for him?” another barked. They were close now.
“Well, what if he left the main road to hide somewhere? If we already passed him we could be at this for weeks!”
“But if we turn back now and he’s still ahead, we’ll never find him.”
“Wait, shut up.” Oh sweet Lady of the Mists, no.
There was a grunt and a dull thud of boots. Just my luck.
“Come on, Sallus. You’re wasting time.”
“Be quiet, will you?”
I had to do something. Fast. With as quiet a whisper as I could manage, I used Thaumaturgy.
The ground trembled. The tremors were harmless, but the leaves rustled, and the earthquake spooked the horses.
“Damn it, Sallus, your horse!”
“Curses,” the close one muttered before rushing back down the hill.
“No more wasting time on foot. Let’s head to the next village.”
“Maybe you’re right.”
“Tell you what. We get to the next village, we ask around, and tell them to keep an eye out for a suspicious priest. If we don’t find him there, we’ll turn back and search the nearby area.”
As the sound of hooves carried the voices away, I let out a sigh of relief. Not safe just yet, but I earned some breathing room. Returning to my stuff and grabbing some flint to light a fire, I couldn’t help but smile as my gaze found the firefly jar.
I looked up at the sky. “Thank you, Mistshadow.”
(This is something of an immediate backstory for my character in a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign. You might see more of him in the future, depending on how things go.)