A Dark Forest

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The aforementioned general, commander and a handful of officers were clustered around several maps Fjendin held in her hand as she discussed the dark interior of the Gyren that lay before them when Lawrence and Will approached. Feeling the swiftly-becoming-familiar surge of warmth announcing his presence, they looked up in greeting. Only to find their eyes flying wide in surprise at finding Lawrence and Will walking confidently and strongly towards them, completely renewed in both body and spirit by some power.

"You've found the power of the Weapon!" Fjendin declared and Lawrence smiled.

"A measure of it, at least, general," he agreed, coming to a halt beside the dark elf officers. "Enough to give our dark soldier friends a sound beating, in any case." He let his eyes drop to the scraps of parchment the dark elves were carefully handling. "Any success with your maps?"

Fjendin sighed as she turned back to the weathered parchments she held in her hands. They were ancient, most of them, harkening from the time of the Empire and the dark elves' first flight from the hated pits. Yet they did little more than render basic landmarks; the dark elf mapmakers of the time had been more concerned with surviving their escape in the face of Imperial pursuit than marking the locations of their former prisons.

"I regret to report no, my lord. They give only a general idea of the land's lay and not much more. The only records we possess of Imperial pits in the Gyren are those we've already found and destroyed. The hidden pits remain hidden still. In this lies the greatest frustration of my people."

Lawrence nodded, thoughtful. He had figured as much. His time with Sauralin and her companions had taught him that the dark elves were a single-minded people, determined and resolute in their desire to push back the Shadow in the name of the Silver Flame, their representation of the Maker's light in their souls. If there had been a way to find these last, hidden pits, they would've done it long ago and they wouldn't be facing a renewed army of dark soldiers before them now.

That returned the big man back to the solution they had discussed before: using the power of the Tree Staff to uncover the pits. But how? The Tree Staff was powerful indeed to reach out from her own prison to fill him with her energies. He had no doubt if used to its fullest extent, that power would bring every dark soldier in the Hammer down on them before they could move more than a league.

So their method of detection had to be subtler, less obtrusive to remain below the dark soldiers' ability to detect, something passive, perhaps. Like using the dark soldiers themselves to backtrack to the pits.

Lawrence's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Hounds were often used to track game across a plain or through a forest, using only their powerful tracking sense of smell to follow their prey. That meant the game animals left something behind, either on the ground or in the air that the hounds were able to smell, cohesive enough to form a trail the dogs could follow with their noses even while it remained invisible to the eye.

If the smallest game bird left behind such a trail, wouldn't it make sense that a tjor'riin soldier left behind a similar trail, even bigger than the one left behind by the bird? The human's thoughts quickly reached to the next level. Such a foul creature would leave behind not only a physical trail that a dog could smell, but a trail of evil that magic would be able to detect as well! 

During the battle in the pass, he had sensed a foul miasma emanating from the Kaal Eran he had faced and, to a lesser extent, the dark soldiers that nearly overwhelmed them. If he could tune magic to detect that miasma, which logically a dark soldier would trail behind it like smoke just as an animal trailed scent, he should be able to backtrack to where the dark soldier left the relative safety of the pit that birthed it. Logically, anyway, it could happen thus.

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