@Copyright E. Charles Tucker, all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of the author.

This was written during my stint with the online RPG, Illusia. At this point I was near-exclusively playing a Minotaur Knight, and for role play purposes I played the pround knight aspect up as far as I could take it. Some background: the game world centered around two alliances, light and dark, one led by the "goodly" humans and the other led by the "evil" V'lalek, or Vampire race. The Minotaur were aligned with the V'lalek race, and were considered evil; they, however, considered themselves noble and often looked down on the other races of their alliance as necessary comrades in arms, but loathed being in their presence.

My character often crossed those alliance borders, spending time with like-minded Humans, Elves and Centaur of the goodly races. This often required him to sneak into the Human cities, sometimes with disasterous results. Wyde the Ogre (a character played by a friend) was a similar dual-natured creature, except his was born from innocence. And stupidity; honestly, the big lug was just too stupid to realize he was supposed to enemies with these people.

In this short (based on a short by the same friend), Kowh has heard that his long-missing Ogre friend, "Wyde", has returned to the lands - and goes on a quest to find him.

Tracking the Return:

an addendum to "The Return", by Wyde Ogre

M'Kowh snorted his distaste, watching the gypsies as the woman rode off with the cart. He'd followed her for the better part of a day, trailing her as she left the mountainous Thungarhold caverns. He often travelled the vast tunnels of the Dwarven city; the natural walls of the mining tunnels brought back memories of the Minotaur Labyrinth, and home. It was while keeping himself hidden from a passing group of workers that he'd spotted the woman approach the group, her manner authoritative and commanding.

He'd nearly stepped from his hiding place; a Human female accosting a Dwarf? He held no great love for the Dwarves, granted; still, the ease with which the woman moved put the simple worker at a great disadvantage - and risk. Dwarf or not, his honor would not allow him to see harm come to the miner.

"It was an Ogre, with a big axe, wasn't it?"

He froze; an Ogre? Here, in Thungarhold? He looked closer; now he recognized the woman. An Evermist officer of some kind; he'd seen her there, questioning all who passed about some nasty deaths. Southern Evermist was filled with bodies regularly; thier own fault, he mused, for allowing the thieves and assassins their own quarter of the city. M'Kowh smiled, remembering times past with his old friend, sneaking into the darkened quarter and cleasing it of the dishonorable...

He snorted. His old friend, an Ogre. Could it be? Impossible. His friend was a Knight; such actions as he'd heard of recently...no, it could not be. M'Kowh frowned, listening intently now.

"White haired, red glowing eyes, medium size. He spoke common - that all I remember." The Dwarf was white with fear - and not at the knife the woman held to his throat. No, the Minotaur reflected, the miner was geniunely afraid of the memory.

And well he should; M'Kowh only knew of one clan of Ogier who matched that description, and only one within that clan who wielded such a weapon. His knuckles were white as they grasped the hilt of his claymore; the mystical sword seemed to pulse with anticipation, feeling the Minotaur's growing anger and dread. "No, Justice, not yet; this bears further truth." His eyes narrowed, watching the woman fade into the darkness of the underground caverns. The dwarf looked about, confused; to him, she'd simply faded like a ghost.

To a Minotaur, however, her tracks were as clear as a midday sky. The route was long, taking him clear to Thurgas Keep; he'd found where she'd mounted a horse, easily outdistancing him across the open road. Fortunately he'd known a shorter route through the Bloodvale forest, coming out just as the rider thundered past on her way to the Keep.

He'd kept a strong pace then, arriving outside the Gypsy camp just as the woman approached from the opposite side. He frowned; by rights, she should have had her back to him. For some reason the human had doubled back along her route, standing now in the midst of the human Gypsies.

Had he been seen? No; even now she rode off with a horse and cart, leaving her own steed behind. He sighed, taking a quick glance at the camp. It would be a longer journey around it; still, the woman was on a slower horse, and the cart would make finding her trail all the easier. He would lose time, true, but with fortune behind him he may still find the truth of this Ogre she sought.

Movement caught the Minotaur's eye as he circled the camp; a young gypsy male was gesturing wildly, obviously upset at the laughter of his comrades. Even from this distance he could feel the anger radiating from the youth; someone, he noted, would soon feel the aftermath of that rage. He watched as the human and a few companions made for a makeshift stable, moving dangerously closer to the copse of trees where M'Kowh hid.

Hooded in forest green and grey as he was, he suffered no fear for his discovery; he had but to sit and wait as the men left before moving on. M'Kowh listened with disinterest to their heated conversation - until mention was made of the woman.

Now their intent was clear; the brash youth, embarrased before his clan by a mere woman, sought revenge - and with his kin supporting them. Damn these humans! He needed this woman, alive; she alone sought the trail of this rogue Ogre, who fit all too well the description of his childhood friend.

Should he let them ride off, and pray the woman was skilled enough to fend for herself? The Gypsies would grant him the time he'd need to catch up with her, he admitted. Could he, however, allow the chance that harm would come to her? Would he have to intervene then, revealing herself to her?

He growled, pulling the claymore Justice from it's sheath. No, better to halt these youths now; he'd lose precious time, granted, but her trail would still be fresh. Resigned to Fate he stepped from the treeline, dropping his hood. "The woman is under my protection, Gypsy" he rumbled, his sword loose at his side.

The four youths stopped short, caught unwares by the presense of a Minotaur in their camp. The lead Gypsy - black-haired and clean faced - sneered, drawing forth a long dagger. "Bad choice, horn-head." He flipped the dagger back and forth, obviously skilled in it's use.

One of his companions - a sandy-haired youth barely into his manhood - shuffled his feet nervously. "Should we not call the elders, and the others?" he asked. His friends laughed, stepping closer as the others drew their own blades. "For one old cow? Be serious, Amarind!"

M'Kowh snorted; he was going to enjoy this. With a heavy grunt he twirled the claymore in a spiral, stopping and ramming it point-first into the soft earth. He grinned, breathing a light snort as he pulled his iron hammer from his belt. "And old cow, is it then?" he mocked, casually tossing the hammer back and forth in his hands. "You've cost me time, boy. Expect to pay, fully."

-fin-