Naothlan Vignette #4 (2019)

“Ward stone seven, northwest looks good.  Aura’s strong, no signs of tampering.  Glamour stone’s aura is weakening.  Should be checked and reinforced.”

“Noted, Taya.  Possible intrusion detected near stone eight.  Nelson’s on-site, could use some help.”

Taya Bridger did some quick calculations of distance and terrain.

“Understood.  It’ll be four hours on foot.”

“Gate’s approved, go for it.”

Taya smiled, “Five minutes, then.”

She touched the crafter crystal near her ear, cutting the communication with the nearest Red Guard facility.  The crystal was stowed without conscious thought.  A moment later, a small gemstone replaced it.

The gate-stones were expensive, Guards weren’t often given permission to use them.

Must be big, Taya thought.

She rubbed the stone and whispered the command word keyed to her, thinking of ward stone eight.

An instant later, the opal vanished.

A six foot diameter hole opened a few feet away.

Through it, Taya could see the ward stone, and the slender form of Nelson Rookwood.

She stepped through and nodded.

Nelson was a great interrogator and fighter.  He could get a suspect talking before they even realized what they were doing.  But, he was not much for tracking.

“How long ago?”

“I’d guess . . . six hours, from the undergrowth damage.”

As they spoke, Taya stripped off and bundled her gear.  She handed the bundle to Nelson and, second later, became a nine foot tall wolf-woman.

The scents and sounds of the wood washed over her.  She caught the intrusive scent in an instant.  Six hours . . . more like five.  Strong scent of . . . well, that was interesting.  And contraband.  No worries.

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