Eh, War of Nytefall: Ravenous deserves another Vengeance Hound teaser. This time with action!
Bob cringes when they hit another bump and he prays that they are still dragging the shields that are strapped together to form a wide sled. Risking a glance over his shoulder, the Dawn Fang waves to Titus, whose legs are bound to the pieces of armor. Locked in a kneeling position, the warrior grips the two ropes that run to hooks that are embedded in the rumps of the zombie horses. With Bob only finding enough viable parts for two steeds, the Vengeance Hounds have agreed that the heaviest of them should be pulled along like a cart. Lacking the wood to build even a simple vehicle, Lost created the shuddering platform that their leader fears will shatter every time it strikes a tree or rock. The mounted vampires repeatedly check on their friend when they are not busying scrambling to keep the hastily made beasts together. Bob is constantly spinning sutures and throwing them into position, his mumbled complaints about the sloppy work barely audible over the thundering hooves. With his hands busy weaving the strings, he directs his horse with subtle movements of his legs, which are pressed tightly against the rotten flanks. Checking the sky, he caws at the raven that is traveling in the opposite direction and makes a rude gesture when the bird refuses to answer.
For her part, Lost uses her telekinesis to hold the major pieces together while sniffing the air for the paladin’s scent. It has been an hour since they saw the dragon and its dangling prisoner, but she is certain they are heading in the right direction. She points whenever they need to turn, her inexperience with horses requiring that Bob hold the long reins that are connected to her steed’s skeletal head. The whiff of a powerful vampire strikes her nose and she covers her face, the smell feeling unnatural and threatening to collapse her throat. She knows that it is the Dawn Fang beast, which she refuses to touch with her telepathy. A trickle of blood is still under her nose from her last attempt that resulted in a blast of primal rage that nearly knocked her to the ground. Following Titus’s strict orders and instructions, she finds that tracking by smell is more difficult than searching the area for thoughts. She takes solace in the backlash not being nearly as harsh, but she struggles to fight back the instinct to reach out with her mind. It helps that the occasional stench causes her eyes to water and burn, which she prefers to blood flowing from her nostrils.
The breeze shifts and Lost catches the smell of cigars and armor polish from the east, so she points in that direction. Her finger pokes Bob in the head and stirs him from his thoughts about the horses in time for them to make a sharp turn. Both riders tense at the sound of Titus screaming, his voice coming from behind and above them. They turn in time to see their leader’s sled slam back onto the ground and his legs collapse from the bones being broken. Confident that he will heal himself as they travel, the Dawn Fangs spur their steeds on as fast as possible in the hopes of closing the distance. Coming to a thicker part of the forest, they are forced to turn again in search of an opening. The skittering of shields against the wall of trees startles a herd of deer that bound into the path of the galloping horses. Unable to stop in time to avoid a collision, Lost telekinetically hurls the sled high into the air and over the animals. The rotting horses are yanked off the ground and Bob frantically reinforces all of the seams to handle a rough landing. To their surprise, Titus spins his platform and breaks the bonds on his fractured legs to stand. With the tethers in his mouth, he catches both steeds by their under bellies and absorbs the impact to prevent them from exploding. With a grunt, he hurls them over his head and they hit the ground running. Unable to secure himself to the shields, the warrior releases the rope on Lost’s horse and lets himself get dragged behind Bob. He awkwardly sprints and twists his hips to stay on his feet, his heart beating loudly as his blood pumping quickly to heal his body while it is moved in unnatural ways.
A bellow in the distance drives them forward until they find a gap in the forest and make a turn in a way that they barely fit Titus through. Darkness briefly consumes the area as a large shadow passes overhead, the dragon coming back around a few seconds later. With no offshoots to follow, the vampires can only continue going in one direction while their prey remains nearby and out of sight. Leaping over a fallen tree, Lost looks up in time to see the beast’s tails, which are fanned out and juggling a perfectly round fireball. Tiny pieces of flame fall off its vibrant wings, the tiny motes dissolving into smoke before they reach the canopy. Distracted by the sight, she nearly misses an opening to their left that takes the horses through a patch of thorny brambles, which are dotted with yellow flowers. They are already plunging into another shadowy section of the forest when they hear Titus suck in a breath and prepare himself for the pain that he is about to endure. Neither of his friends turn back, their sense that it is better not to witness his humiliating tumbles and crashes through the briar.