There are only two kinds of rangers in the world:
1) Rangers who have just been in a fight.
2) Rangers who are alive.
The ranger cave is a lot like the bandit cave I raided earlier, except smaller, smellier, and with fewer lights and provisions.
Mundol chokes out his message, "Amdir came here. Please. There is but one ranger left alive here in the marshes. He's studying the ruins at the center. Warn him. Stop Amdir."
He lets out a long, ragged breath, pays me a silver and a half, and dies.
Off we go to the ruins then.
Q: What does an entire nest of spiders - including a spider queen - have in common with my will to live?
A: They both had to die for me to reach this door.
I wipe the spider goop off my shoes and head inside.
As promised, a ranger is here. I give him a polite wave, "So, ranger Renil... Renon... Reeno... Look, can I just call you Ren?"
"What is your business here?" he says warily.
"I don't mean to be rude," I lie. "But why is it that the ruins you're studying are so much nicer than the cave where you live?"
"Is that what you came here to ask me?"
"Oh right. The message," I say. "The other rangers are dead, Admir's a wraith and trying to kill you, and I'm only helping you because I need the money."
"This is dire news indeed! We must go at once to the chieftain of my kindred. The Bree-man call him Strider."
"Neither of us are Bree-men. What are we supposed to call him?"
"Come, I will lead you back to town through the caves."
"That sounds like a huge pain in the ass. Why would we go through the caves?"
"It's a shortcut!" Ren exclaims.
"It's a straight shot from these ruins to the edge of the marsh. How can this way be shorter than that?"
"The caves go under the marsh," he explains.
"They do... what?"
Tunnels. Going under mud and water. I don't think you need a degree in physics with a minor in common sensology to spot the flaw in this.