Dragonlance - Elven Nations Trilogy 03 - The Qualinesti by Paul B. Thompson & Tonya C. Cook

Dragonlance - Elven Nations Trilogy 03 - The Qualinesti by Paul B. Thompson & Tonya C. Cook

Author:Paul B. Thompson & Tonya C. Cook
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

* * * * *

The day wore on, and Greenhands showed no signs of tiring.

Verhanna and Rufus ate in the saddle, passing a water bottle back and forth between them.

Greenhands plucked a few stems of grass from the turf to nibble. He ate and drank nothing else.

By mid-afternoon the novelty of watching the strange elf had worn off. Rufus lay down on his

horse's back, clasping his hands behind his head and shading his face with his travel-worn hat. He

gave his reins to his captain, and soon high-pitched snores whistled from his lips. Verhanna nodded

a bit, but she was too conscious of her duty to falter and fought the sleep that tried to claim her.

Fatigue and the lingering shock of her healed goblin bite proved too strong, though, and she, too,

eventually nodded off. When her charger stumbled slightly over a gopher mound, Verhanna jolted

awake. Greenhands was no longer forging ahead on foot. The warrior maiden reined in and looked

back. In the high grass fifteen yards behind them, the tall elf was kneeling.

"Wake up, Wart." She called to the kender. Yawning, Rufus sat up and caught his reins as she tossed them.

"Hey," the kender said sleepily, "where'd all the flowers come from?"

Verhanna looked past Greenhands and saw the vast trail of blooms that widened as it stretched out

behind him. Not only flowers, but the dry prairie grass in the area had grown a foot taller.

"Look you," she said, leaning down from the saddle. "What sort of magic is this?"

"Quiet," he murmured. "The children call me."

She bristled at his abrupt command. "I'll speak when I like!"

The strange elf's tense, prayerful posture suddenly relaxed. He inhaled deeply and said, "They

come."

Verhanna was about to make a rejoinder when a faint rumbling sound reached her ears. Heavy

vibrations in the ground caused her mount to shift his feet and stamp nervously. Rufus sat up and

called, "Captain, look!"

To the south, a dark brown line appeared on the horizon. It bulked larger and higher, and the

rumbling grew louder. Swiftly the brown mass resolved into elk–thousands of them. A gigantic

herd, stretching far to the left and right, was coming straight toward them.

"By Astra, it's a stampede!" Verhanna cried. She twisted her horse around to ride hard in the same direction the elk were moving. Their only chance was to go with the flow and not fall under those

churning hooves.

"Give me your hand!" she shouted to Greenhands. "We must flee!"

The elk were only a couple hundred paces off and gathering speed. Rufus turned his mount and

urged it next to his captain's. Bouncing to his feet in the saddle, he crowed with delight, "What a sight! Have you ever seen so many deer? If only I had a bow, we'd have venison for dinner

forever!"

"You idiot, we're going to be trampled!"

Then the elk herd was upon them like a living wall of hide, antlers, and sharp hooves. The musky

smell of the animals mingled with the dry odor of trampled grass. Thinking first of her decision to

bring Greenhands to Qualinost, Verhanna threw herself on top of the elf to shield him from harm.



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