The Woman & The Wolf
The sun shone down from overhead as mountains rose far above. A cool wind whipped through the peaks, bringing the crisp smell of the river which lay a few miles to the east. The sky was blue with only a few clouds. However, none looked up. As the woman walked along the rocky path, she kept careful watch of her footing, lest the treacherous road give way and she fall, tumbling down the mountainside. At her side walked a wolf, who kept his nose in the air on alert. The Trollclaw Mountains were notorious for being dangerous. However, they were also the fastest way between Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep. Not caring for a several month detour to avoid the mountains, the woman had chosen to brave the peaks.
The woman clutched at her black cloak. Still, the wind was cold, biting through the layers into the skin. The sun shone relentlessly above, which made her glad she had brought her large hat that provided shade. Her black boots clanked on the stones below her, occasionally sending some rocks over the edge. She reached down and clutched one of the six metal balls on her belt, colored red and white with gold triangles on them. After making sure they were still there, she looked to her right at her faithful companion. The wolf had sleek grey fur that matched the woman’s own grey hair. They both had grizzled faces that told tales of the experience they had. The wolf’s padded feet walked silently on the stone in contrast to the woman, and it retained a regal dignity as it walked.
Suddenly, the wolf growled and looked up. Simultaneously, there was a loud crack and a boulder above them began to roll down. Off pure instinct, the woman rolled backward and the wolf jumped forwards. The boulder passed between them, falling into the deep canyon to their left, crashing as it hit the walls, echoing across the valley. But before the pair could regain their senses, shouting came from above.
Eight men clad in armor with swords jumped down from cracks in the wall, surrounding the pair. One of them, distinguished by his full plate armor and greatsword on his back, pointed at the woman.
“Alright, we’ll make ‘is quick. Yer choice is simple! Give us all yer belongings and we’ll let ye live. Alternatively, resist us, and we’ll take em off yer cold dead body!”
The woman eyed the bandit leader and his followers. She tipped her hat to obscure part of her face and spoke in a deep voice.
“No, I think I will offer you a choice. Lay down your arms. Surrender this lifestyle and go to a city. Seek a decent way of living. Do so, and I shall do nothing. However, should you choose to fight me, I warn you that all but one of you shall not live to see another day.” She pointed behind him at a young blonde man whose hand was shaking as he held his sword. “That man will not die. He will be given a second chance, for he is new to this way of life, and may yet be reclaimed. He will be left to tell the tale, of how the rest of you were mangled by a passing stranger and her faithful companion.”
The bandit leader laughed in response. “Those be some mighty words, old lady. What are you gonna do, scold us? Will you sick your little puppy on us?” The others laughed as well. The bandit leader then drew his greatsword. “I think we’ve had enough chat.”
The woman nodded. “I figured that would be your response. Leo! Sick ‘em!”
The wolf barked and growled. To the rest, this was just a wolf barking in response. Yet to the woman, each bark and growl, each movement of the body and noise had certain meanings. She knew this wolf so well, she could understand each meaning in perfect clarity. Leo said [Yes ma’am!].
Leo turned towards the bandit leader and growled. He pounced at the leader, who caught him with his greatsword, then threw Leo to the ground. Before the wolf could stand up, he thrust his greatsword down into the wolf’s body.
“Hah! Just a mere wolf!” The bandit leader cried in triumph, bringing his greatsword out.
However, Leo stood back up. Where the greatsword had hit, there was just a tiny wound. He was unphased. Leo growled smugly, [Yeah, that’s right. Your puny swords barely touch me.].
The bandit leader stepped back in bewilderment. “What? How – argh, whatever! Attack!”
The other three bandits on that side stepped forward and slashed Leo, cutting into him again and again with their swords. Yet the wolf stood tall without even flinching. Once again, no weapons could leave any major impact.
“Fine! If you don’t care for steel, how about fire? Haxar!” The bandit leader pointed at a bandit in the back, who wielded a staff instead of a sword. The other bandits backed up as Haxar waved his hands. A bead of fire came out of his staff at the wolf. The man jumped back to evade the Fireball, but the wolf stood strong. A small grunt came out, and when the fire faded, the wolf was scorched, clearly hurt by the fire.
The bandit leader cried out in triumph. “Haha! Don’t like that magic, do you, pup?”
However, the victory was short-lived. Before their very eyes, the wounds on the wolf stitched themselves back together, weaving the fur back. Before long, the wounds were completely regenerated, and the wolf once again unscarred.
“WHAT?” The bandit leader was astonished.
Leo growled smugly again, [My turn.]. It’s growl turned deeper and there was a spark in his mouth. Fire appeared in Leo’s maw and wrapped around his fangs. Steel began to spread across his claws, and soon, they were covered in metal. Leo roared and pounced on the bandit leader, this time with the intention to kill. The leader fell onto his back and the wolf sank his burning fangs into the leader’s arm. The fire quickly spread along the bandit leader, and soon engulfed his entire body. The bandit leader screamed out in pain as the fire scorched his skin. However, Leo would not sit idly by while the fire did its work. The wolf raised its claws and slashed them across the leader, the metal cutting through the plate and into his chest.
The other bandits watched on in horror. “Help the captain! Get it off!”
They attacked Leo, trying to shove him off and slash him with their weapons. The other three bandits in the back got out bows and shot at the wolf. Haxar launched firebolts at the wolf, which did hit, but the wounds regenerated faster than they could be hit. The wolf was invincible.
Yet Leo would not give up his prey. The wolf continued to maul the bandit leader, ignoring the useless weapons, and continued to sink his flaming fangs into him over and over again. In just a few seconds, the bandit leader slumped over, lifeless. The wolf rose up from the corpse and growled, turning to the other bandits.
The other three bandits backed up in fear. “The captain’s dead. The captain’s dead!” They began running down the path away from the wolf.
Leo shook his head, [You’re not getting away that easily!]. He ran after the bandits with blazing speed, quickly catching up. The first he grappled with his fangs and shook his head. The bandit looked down in horror, trying to pry open his maw. But the bandit’s feet gave way, and Leo tossed the bandit over the side of the path, sending him falling into the canyon below.
Leo quickly ran after the other two. The second one he caught up with and sank his fangs into, lighting the bandit ablaze. He followed up with both of his metal claws, tearing into the bandit and causing the bandit to collapse lifeless in under six seconds. The third dashed as fast as it could. However, Leo was much faster, and quickly caught up. In the bandit’s panic, he tripped and lost his balance. Leo shoved the bandit with his snout, sending the bandit falling into the canyon as well.
The last four bandits shook with fear. Haxar called out, “Release the Manticore! Release the Manticore!”
The rock wall further up the path swung out, and from the hidden exit emerged a great beast. It had the body of a lion, wings of an eagle, a tail of a scorpion, and the face of a human. Deadly spikes lined its tail and body, ready to be fired at whatever pour soul confronted the monstrosity. The Manticore soared overhead, before looking down at the dead bandits, wolf, and the woman. It soared down and readied to fire its spikes at the woman.
“Wait!” called out the woman, “I would speak with you, for I know you are intelligent.” This gave the Manticore pause, which allowed the woman to continue speaking. “Tell me, why do you serve these bandits?”
Nobody had paused a battle to have a conversation with this Manticore before. It was confused, but spoke back. “They provide a stable source of food and entertainment like this!”
The woman eyed the Manticore. “What if I told you I could provide you with a stable source of food. I can give you adventure and entertainment beyond anything you could hope to find in these desolate mountains. But beyond that, I can make you powerful. More powerful than any other Manticore to walk this land.”
Regardless of whatever the woman said, her silvery words were soft and seemed to strike directly at the Manticore’s heart, catching its attention. “What do you mean?” it questioned.
The woman pointed at Leo. “Behold my faithful companion. Once a mear wolf, I have trained and imbued it with magic, giving it fire in its mouth, metal on its claws, resistance to the mundane and regeneration to heal wounds. It is no mere wolf, but one of the most powerful wolves to walk these lands. I could give you the same training and make you of the same power. What say you?” The Manticore looked at Leo, then back at the woman.
However, as the Manticore hesitated and the woman spoke with it, a bandit snuck up behind the woman. He raised his sword and went to stab the woman in the back in a surprise attack. However, as the sword went to stab her through, one of the metal balls on her belt opened and a blue light burst forth. Right behind her appeared a dragon the size of the man with scales of glittering gold. The sword instead slipped into the dragon, not the woman. The dragon snorted, fire coming from its nostrils.
The woman heard the noise and nodded. “My thanks, Aurum.”
The dragon spoke in a hard and slithering voice, in the language of dragons. “My pleasure, mistress.” The ball then opened again and the dragon was enveloped in blue light. The ball closed, and the dragon disappeared.
The bandit stepped back in astonishment, and the Manticore looked intrigued at the woman. “Who are you?”
The woman lifted up her hat, revealing gray hair but a beautiful face, worn by adventure and experience. “I am Magna, a trainer of creatures who befriends many across the planes, taking them in and raising them to be the most powerful forms of themselves that they can be. I am a Capmon Bonder.”
The Manticore eyed her, but was interested. “How would I join you?”
The woman took out another red and white ball, gold electricity arcing across its surface in the shape of a triangle. “Stay inside the ball.” She then threw the ball at the Manticore. Upon contact, the ball hovered in the air and opened. Blue light enveloped the Manticore, and it disappeared when the ball closed. The ball fell to the ground on the path and shook once, then the gold lightning flashed, marking the capture to be successful.
The woman walked over and picked up the ball. “Another captureball, another capture.” She then turned to the last remaining bandits. “Well, I give you this choice once more! I had originally intended to kill you all, but I am feeling a little nice today. Drop your weapons and renounce this lifestyle, and you will live. Fight, and you suffer the fate of your leader, with no Manticore to protect you.” She pointed to the charred corpse in plate at her side. Leo returned to her and growled in intimidation.
Without hesitation, the last four bandits all dropped their weapons in fear. The woman nodded and walked past them, leaving them to figure out what to do next. She continued along the path. The mountains soon opened up to reveal a large field ahead of her, farms dotting the hillside. The evening sun cast golden light across the land as its warm glow reflected off the gentle river winding its way through the area. Far off in the distance was a massive city. The woman looked at her new captureball and tossed it in her hand before putting it away.
The woman looked at her wolf. “Well, it seems we have a new capmon with us. Shall we see what adventures await us in Waterdeep next?”
The wolf barked in response, [I’ve been aching to stretch my legs ever since we walked onto that narrow passage. Now there’s a whole open field before us. What are we waiting for? Let’s go!
The woman laughed and the two dashed down the path towards the fields and to new adventures.