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They followed the trail as it went deeper and deeper into the forest. By noon Trevan had gone farther into the forest than he had ever gone before. They would loose the trail from time to time and find it again some distance away. The kobold was going in a fairly straight line towards the northeast. Trevan got better at recognizing the kobold tracks. They were about two inches wide and five inches long with three wide spread claws on the front. On a really good print he could make out a distinct lizard-like scale pattern. He learned to recognize the difference in the look of the tracks when the kobold was walking, running or standing still. He learned that when the kobold stopped to look around, he stood up on his toes and that was also the only time he left a tail track. He used his tail for balance when standing on tiptoe. He also learned to tell where the kobold had disturbed the plants as he pushed past them. There was one place where he stopped to eat berries. Trevan and Kaylan ate some too.
They came upon a place where he had stopped, and then ran off a few yards to the south. There he stopped and then continued back to the northeast. Near this point they found a small broken arrow, some bird tracks and a couple of fresh quail feathers. He must have shot a quail and took it with him. Trevan hadn’t considered that the kobold might be armed.
They crossed several other animal tracks as well. There were even some dear tracks in a couple of places.
As the day continued into evening, they eventually came to a small clearing by a creek where the kobold obviously stayed for a while. There was a small fire pit with cold ashes. Next to the fire he had set on a log and ate his quail. There were a few feathers and a couple of bones. He must have eaten all of the rest. They found the sharpened stick he had cooked it on. It took them a few minutes to examine the area around the camp before they found the trail again. He had crossed the creek and headed southeast, toward the Black Mountains.
This part of the forest was much denser, with taller, older trees and thicker undergrowth. Following the tracks became harder and they had to slow down to keep from losing the trail. As the sun was getting low in the evening they were about to follow the trail where it passed between two large trees when Kaylan shouted, “Freeze!” Trevan stopped in his tracks, and looked back at Kaylan. “Don’t go any farther,” Kaylan said. “You are about to set off a trap. Look closely at that vine ahead.”
Trevan saw that there was a small vine between the trees about chest high that the kobold had easily passed under. He stood there looking around and then he saw that the limb of one of the trees had been pulled down and tied with a rope stretched down to the ground. There was another rope tied to the same limb that had its other end buried beneath the leaves that were covering the ground between the trees. The ropes had been rubbed down with dirt and tree sap and lightly covered with leaves and thin vines so they were hard to notice. He couldn’t make out exactly how it worked, but it was now obvious that if he had broken, or pushed aside the vine it would have set off the trap and he would now be hanging by his foot, or perhaps by his neck.
“Yes, I see it now,” Trevan said. “Can I set it off so no one will be caught in it?” He very much would like to set it off to see exactly how it worked.
“No. I don’t want them to know that we were here. This is good. It means we are close to their lair. Or at least on one of the main paths to it’s entrance. Let’s just go around it. I am hoping we can find the entrance to the lair before nightfall.”
“Then what?” said Trevan.
“Then we will go home and tell Father what we have found. He will know what to do. At the very least we can warn people to avoid this area.”
They passed around to the right. Trevan was looking up into the tree, still trying to see how the trap worked when he heard a “snap!” and the ground fell away beneath his feet.