Red Ryder - Chapter 8 by Rtesian ()
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Ahead, the trees began to thin and beyond a large expanse opened. Red emerged halting Bayard just past the tree line, scanning the low-lying hills. No chance to reach them, she thought, before the sun settled in for the night. Still, its rapid descent confirmed she traveled in the right direction.
Sunrise would begin her third month travelling. Red had expected and many had predicted the kind of dangers she would face. And yet, not once had she been accosted by highway men or robbers. Indeed, everyone she encountered, wandering minstrels, troubadours, tradesmen, and even a few knights errant had all been gracious and most hospitable. One however, had followed her into the woods where she had gone to relieve herself. His amorous advances stopped when a fearsome growl rumbled behind him. Before she could warn him not to run, he took off. The inhuman shrieks and cries that followed lasted only seconds. Red made her way back to the camp, the horrifying sounds of rending flesh and crunching bones ringing in her ears. They still did. Red shuddered but lesson learned. She no longer went anywhere without her sword.
Her gaze shifted to a solitary tree, it's dead and gnarled roots so exposed, Red marveled the wind had not toppled it. I'll stop there for the night, she decided. It will block one line of attack.
Great confidence sustained her as she gathered wood and checked for burrows that might hide serpents or scorpions. Four days ago she had encountered a band of minstrels travelling to the next town. A Druid priest whose dark and intense eyes had watched her every move, accompanied them. After sharing a meal, news, and laughter Red offered her excuses and prepared to re-enter the forest. The priest stopped her. "Stay with us for the evening. The woods are not safe." Red smiled.
"The only dangers I have encountered, Druid, are not from trees but humans. The forest gives me great comfort."
"Where are you headed?"
"I travel west."
"West? There is nothing there."
"I travel farther west." His eyes narrowed.
"There is even less there."
"Perhaps. But I have reason to believe the answer to a question I have awaits me in the west."
The Druid remained silent, his eyes staring into hers. "Continue west. You will come upon a line of hills. A few days more and you will come to the Forest of Myth. I sense the wolf. You may find more than an answer. One you might not survive."
Again Red shuddered, happy to see the kindling catch and a fire begin to crackle. If Lukas returned from hunting, he would remain in the nearby woods mindful of her warning to never expose himself. Darkness fell. Behind her the tree groaned. The wind, she thought, as the long day closed her eyes.
A sixth sense popped them open even as she struggled to shake the sleep preventing focus. A tree root penetrated the ground before her. Another slid overhead and it too burrowed into the earth. She tried to rise and banged into the tree crawling over her and lowering itself. In some distant reality she heard Bayard whinny and snort, stomping it's hooves. Red screamed then desperately began digging the earth between the roots. The tree only penetrated deeper pushing her flat to the ground.
She opened her mouth to scream again then stopped. Silence blanketed the night except for the clear sound of footsteps. Eyes bulging, Red held her breath, peering out from between two roots. Before her a foot appeared then another. The fire's flames glinted and danced off the metal strips covering them.
"Who are you? By what right have you entered these lands?"
to be continued...
Image Comments (6)
Pretty dramatic writing. Splendid story telling ! The accompanying render looks really good. I am kinda debating with myself as to whether the sword blade looks too bright or not for this scene. After all the sun in on the opposite side. It does feel you have a light behind the camera to kind of provide a fill light. You can also try just a plane primitive behind the camera as a reflector and control it's strength with a grayscale color. It may provide a softer fill light than using an actual light. Splendid work on this one.
We are on the same page !! In fact, the scene contains all your suggestions, rajib. :-)
Because the setting sun is in front, and I thought the POV essential to the plot line, it put everything between the camera and Red in deep shadow leaving her and Bayard silhouetted. After playing with a few photometrics, I settled on a large, light gray (214, 214, 214), emissive plane immediately behind the camera to cast an even, soft, diffuse light on everything. The truth is, what would be the source of any light given the locale is a remote, fantasy wilderness with sunset rapidly approaching?
Well my rule, passed on from a wise mentor is, after all is said and done, never let reality get in the way of a good image. :-D
And the sword? Well, it's very sharp and made of a metal forged in the fires of skilled Troll armorers. :-)
Your thoughts are always very much appreciated. Thanx, rajib !! :-)