A Dying Breed by Daniel Doggett

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SUMMARY: A druid uses his powers to save an endangered monster from the brink of extinction

"Razor sharp claws tip the ends of each of its eight powerful limbs, four on each side. The teeth are designed for tearing off huge chunks of meat. Its hide is as solid as stone," said a large barrel-chested human in furs.

"That's what the hobgoblins want it for. They want to make armor out of its hide. The hide is stronger than plate mail, and easier to make. This is why this great animal known as the aurumvorax is nearly extinct," the fur trader continued in a deep baritone.

The half-elf sitting across from him wore leather armor and a green cape. He sat thinking for a moment, and then replied.

"I am sworn to protect the forest and all of her creatures," said Jovian Windwalker. "Those hobgoblins must be stopped."

"It's not in elf territory. We have no jurisdiction there," the trader said blankly.

"There's got to be a way to save those animals," said Jovian passionately. He pondered that for a moment, and then a look of purpose came over him. "If we could get our hands on some eggs we could transport the—"

"There's no ‘we', Jovian. It would be better for one man to go alone. He'd leave less of a trail for the hobgoblins to track, and would make less noise."

"Here are a few gold pieces for the information. Thank you."

Jovian decided to get some of the creature's eggs and bring them to elf territory. He would go alone. It would be a dangerous quest, but Jovian was a very powerful druid. Actually, he wasn't a full druid yet. He was an initiate of the fifth circle. Perhaps going on this quest would prove him worthy of being a full druid.

Jovian brought a scimitar and a short bow with him to the woods. The going would become treacherous once he entered goblin territory. On the first day he made it to just outside the border and set up camp for the night.

He shot a rabbit then started a fire in a ring of stones. It was around dusk as he began cooking the meat. There was a strange smell all of a sudden. It was the smell of rotting vegetation. He also noticed a large heap of weeds right next to his campsite that he did not see when he first set up camp. The mound of plants began to rise.

Jovian dropped his food and quickly rose to his feet. He backed up a few steps and drew his scimitar as the creature reached out for the rabbit he had been cooking. He recognized this creature as a shambling mound.

Jovian raised his free hand into the air and closed his eyes. The wind began to pick up. It blew toward the shambler. Jovian was using a summoning spell. On the wind came a swarm of leaf eating locusts that attacked and quickly devoured the monster. The insects left as swiftly as they had arrived.

The half-elf lay down to go to sleep despite his hunger. A few hours later he was awoke by flashing red and yellow lights. He could also here giggling. Flying around the campfire were tiny nude men and women. They were sprites.

"Guys, I can't sleep! Do you mind?" shouted Jovian.

"Sleep in the owlbear's belly tonight, will you?" asked a sprite rhetorically.

"Owlbear? What's that?" asked Jovian as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"Vlindor, great alchemist of the woods, made the beast by accident.

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