For the greater part of the night, the evening had been all but silent. Occasionally, boars wandered out of the undergrowth, attracted to the smell of the meal that had been prepared earlier. At one point, two large bears had been heard fighting in the undergrowth, battling for the attention of a prospective mate who watched idly. Even the weather had been plain. Wispy clouds blanketed the net of stars that sparkled upon a backdrop of the deepest of blues, propelled across the sky by the slight breeze. The night grew cooler as the land lost the heat of the days sun, and it became necessary to light a small fire to suppress the encroaching cold. One of the figures sat about the fire was reciting poems about the ancient times, whilst the others watched on still consuming the remains of their dinner of berries and game. The bards words were captivating the attentions of all that sat about the fire, the tempo of his words reaching the fever of the camp fire that danced in front of them. One of the silouhets that sat around the fire was wrestling a cape out of her backpack. A little way out from the camp stood their trade caravan, positioned to shield the campers from the from the gentle breeze. Close to the caravan stood their horses, happily munching the contents of their feedbags.
The wispy clouds let out to a gentle shower later in the night. The trees of the forest protected the campers, and prevented the fire from being doused. One of the guards was not so lucky. Above his head, a large leaf was accumulating the rain water, until the weight made became too great. The great splash of water fell down the neck of the guard, startling him. His yell of suprise forced the camp into an uneasy silence, and it was then they realised something was wrong. The night was totally silent above the gentle drone of the shower. The murmur of the horses was also missing, and upon inspection, they were found missing.
One of the guards yelled orders for the others to fan out and search the undergrowth. The man in charge was a large man, with wide shoulder, and short blonde hair. He wore full plate armour, bearing the insignia of the city of Britain and he carried a large halberd.
He moved into the ring of merchants as his men searched the forest, staying close to the woman in the hooded cape. One of his men emerged from the leaves and shook his head slowly.
"No sign?" Asked the sergeant.
"None at a..." Replied the guard, his sentence was cut brutally short by a massive war cry, which emerged from a less then human throat. The bushes exploded as a massive Orc burst through into the camp. The merchants fled to the cover of their caravans, and the guards leapt at the Orc raider. A flurry of blows were exchanged, and soon the beast lay dead on the floor. Around them, the sounds of many battles erupted over the nights rain as the guards beat back the tide of Orc scum. The guards stood in the camp ran over to the caravan to protect the merchants, and were met by two more Orc warriors. One of the merchants lay dead on the soil, and the others were huddled in their caravan, throwing anything they could lay their hands on at the Orcs in a desperate attempt to keep them at bay. The sergeant swung his halberd in a heavy arc at the closest of the Orcs, crashing it deep into its shoulder. The blow cleaved deep into its flesh, almost severing its arm. Black blood spurted through the air, and it let of a ear splitting scream. The other Orc spun on its heels, and met the pommel of the smaller guard, who smashed it clean in the nose, and then brought the blade across its throat.
When the Orcs were dead or retreating, the merchants counted their losses. The dead merchant was the bard who had recited the poetry earlier that night, and the woman in the cape was missing. Upon hearing this news, the sergeant sprinted in the direction that she was seen running. He raced down the path as fast as his plate armour would allow him to move, his face contorted with fear and desperation. He ground to a halt to see the woman on the floor, scrambling away from one of the Orcs. She had her arm raised above her face, in a desperate attempt to shield herself from the Orcs heavy blade. The guard charged to the rear of the Orc, his Halberd raised high above him, but he was too far away. The Orc warrior plunged his weapon into the stomach of the young woman. for a moment, she stayed, trapped in one pose, her eyes focussed on nothing. She coughed a moment, and gargled up a thick crimson fluid, the Orc wrenched his weapon free and she slumped to the floor. The guard screamed in anguish, and charged into the Orc, swinging his Halberd into a powerful strike that connected with the neck of the green skinned beast. Its head left its body and bounced along the floor with a sickening squelch. The body stayed upright, and swayed slightly before hitting the floor with a heavy thud. The guard dropped his halberd, and approached the body of the woman. He dropped to his knees at her side, and buried his face in her chest. He looked over her body and took her head into his arms and stroked her silky long hair. Through his tears he choked a single sentence...
"Ichelle, I have failed thee."
The last few minutes of the merchants life had been rather blurry. He remembered looking about his shoulder to inspect the window of his office, and then a slicing pain in his neck. He was now laid in a pool of his own blood, drowning. His white silky shirt was slowly soaking his life fluids, and changing colour before his eyes. He was struggling so hard to break the paralysis of the poison, but he could not move. If he could, he would probably be clutching at his throat in an attempt to stem the flow of blood. He was starting to get light headed now, the lack of oxygen affecting his brain, and he found himself fighting waves of fatigue. Slowly, he lost the battle, and slipped into a stony unconsciousness. His well decorated office was now to become his tomb.
The events leading up to the merchants death were almost as brutal as his own demise. The merchant had been an arms dealer by the name of Tolken Merdian, one of the richest, and meanest, in Trinsic. Recently, he'd began plying his wares to the Followers of the Over Lord, a fanatical cult that believed that all should follow their creed, or die. It was no secret that the Over Lords had locked horns with man organisations, including the British guard themselves, but one enemy they had made was particularly special. The Elves of Sosaria, those so few in number, had dealt with offensives from the Over Lords for some time now, but this time it was different. Merdian's weapons came from different places, and were made from new materials. It was rumoured that some of the weapons were made with the enchanted Dwarven hammers of old, and that their spears had came from the Savage tribals of the place known as the Lost Lands. The Elves proceeded to issue a warning to Merdian, that if he continued to deal with the Over Lords, he would be punished with little mercy. He ignored the threat, and laughed in the face of the emissary sent to speak to him. The Elves were enraged at the mans insolence, and decided it necessary to enlist some help...
The torch light of the Tavern was barely adequate to light the rows of tables dotted about the establishment. The Inn was less busy then usual, it's walls felt empty that night. The regulars had for most head out to the Dungeon of Shame to hunt the monsters. This was a rather normal activity, and nothing much was thought of it. Those that were left were mostly peasants, elderly or drunkards. They sat upon the three tables closest to the bar and sung songs, chatted and played board games. One man though sat in solitude, within a corner booth in the shadows. His form was concealed by a long black travellers robe, and his face hidden with a black scarf. In front of him, he had lain his katana on his table, a warning to any that would make attempt at his money, and next to this, he had a half of a bottle of wine. The others in the Tavern were mostly ignoring the man, having learnt not to meddle with people of his appearance. A few glances were sent his way occasionally, and were ignored.
The doors of the Tavern opened and two figures broke in from the cold night. They were fully concealed with deep red robes, and each carried a short arm hung from a silver belt. Upon their entrance, the Tavern fell into a deathly silence, the eyes of each of the men there cast upon the new comers. The Tavern keeper watched them keenly whilst drying a tankard with a rag, and they made their way to the solitary man in the booth. He did not look up as they arrived, but he knew they were there, and more importantly, who they were.
"Ce'Bourne" One of the robed figures said, her gentle voice fraught with fatigue.
"Aye M'lady, be seated, I beg of you. It looks as if your journey was unkind" replied the man.
She sat upon the chair, and Ce'bourne poured her a glass of the red wine. The other robed figured stayed stood, and refused the wine offered to him.
"What is needed of me?" Ce'Bourne enquired without looking up from his wine.
The lady was sat looking thoughtfully at his katana, swilling her wine about the glass goblet.
"Jyazelle", he repeated, "what is needed of me?". This time she looked up at him.
"Are you familiar with a Trinsician arms dealer by the name of Tolken Merdian?" She enquired.
Ce'Bourne looked up briefly, and then cast his eyes back to his wine.
"Aye, the man's a snake, what of him?"
"He has been peddling exotic wares to the fools of the Over Lord. It has been decided that you are to stop him."
Ce'bourne looked up, and leaned back in his chair.
"Very well Jyazelle, you will have his head in two nights time.
Main street Trinsic was all but silent this time of night. The guards patrolled the sandstone city with their weapons sheathed, such was the tranquility of this place. The most interesting thing that had happened this day was a large bear had wandered into the city. Even then, the beast was soon tamed by a local ranger, and led to a safe release in the wild. The nights were always warm also, and this made those still awake sluggish, even the guards yawned on, dreaming of their soft beds. Once or twice, heavy footfalls were to be heard as units of the Kings Paladins, the Brotherhood of Trinsic took to the streets to aid the guards in their patrols.
One of the city guards passed the tailors shop at the south of the City of Honour. He yawned and leaned on his halberd a second, and rubbed his leg with the base of his lantern. There was a slight scuttle behind him as a black clothed man darted across the road behind him. The guard turned eagerly, hoping it to be a disturbance, something to break the tedium, but was dismayed to find nothing but darkness. He placed the rustle to being the wind in the trees, and continued his patrol route. The figure peered around the corner to check where the guard was, and was glad to see he had moved on. With this, he made little work of climbing a pyramid of barrels behind him, and scaling onto the roof. He stopped for a moment to ensure he was not detected, and shot off into a sprint. At the corner of the building, he leapt through the air, and onto the roof of the next establishment, landing with little less then a gentle thud. He made his way along the tiled roof to a large wall, which belonged to the next building. At the base of the wall, he stopped and reached into his kit bag. From this he extracted a length of rope which he swiftly attached to a grappling iron. He threw the hook onto the ledge at the top of the wall, and scaled up as if he were a squirrel on an Elm tree. He hoisted the rope up after him, and scuttled to the other side of the flat roof. Peering over, he saw several guards upon their patrol routes in the main street, as well as two hefty looking men that guarded the main door to this building.
He slipped his legs over the edge of the ledge, and dropped, neatly grabbing the sill of the window below. He took a small lock pick from a recess in his clothes, and made short work of the window shutter. He then pulled himself into the interior of the office, and pulled his Katana free of its sheath.
The office was rather large, and well decorated. The walls were white washed, and had a few tastefully painted art works upon them. Dotted along the sides of the office were suits of armour, and other tokens from many warriors guilds. In one corner was a medium sized bed with silk and cotton sheets, and close to this, a fat man in a white robe sat at his desk.
The Assassin crept behind him silently, his Katana trailing behind him as he walked. A sudden breeze shot about the office from the open window, and the Merchant looked around. The Assassin immediately brought his Katana up across his throat. The Merchant gargled, and the poison took hold, forcing him onto the wooden floor. He choked a curse to his killer, but the man had already left.
The weather was warm in Haven. The town was as busy as ever, with warriors and Mages hurtling about their business. A few groups of people stood chatting about recent successes, and one man was delivering song to the crowds, all be it, rather badly. A large man with blonde hair was sat watching over the crowds, and a shadow fell across his face. He looked up, and his eyes lit up with delight.
"Charles, how excellent to see you my old friend, how have you been?"
Charles looked down with a smile.
"Well met" he replied.
"How has life been, what have you been up to of late?" Enquired the other.
Charles sat down next to the blonde man and sighed to himself.
"Nothing much has changed, I have just returned from a contract".
"Ahh, Justice is done once more. Tell me, how did it go?"
Charles looked up into the sky and smiled to himself.
"Very well Cayle, very well"
Cayle looked up at his old friend with a sudden look of wonder. He was surprised at the sudden reappearance of Charles, but he knew it was foolish to ask how he had come to find him. He sat in thought a moment and finally spoke.
"So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" He enquired with a smile. Charles was adjusting his pony tail, his helmet having made his hair slightly tangled.
"Well, you be sure to have good memory of my dear Monique, Cayle." He was correct too. Monique was Charles's younger sister, a beautiful young lass who had chosen to aid her brothers craft by learning the arts of Metallurgy and Alchemy. "Well, she has been offered a place under one of the local Blacksmiths as an apprentice. She will be arriving shortly." Cayle nodded at this. He and Monique has an interesting relationship. At first, he had viewed her as simply a young girl, but slowly his friendship had grown with her, and he regarded her as a good friend. Monique on the other hand had a different opinion. At first she had hated Cayle, for seeing her as a girl, and not the woman she knew she was becoming. This had caused a few incidents in the past, but this soon changed. As Cayle brought her closer as a friend, she fell in love with him and his kind ways. Cayle had not know of this, although Charles had a rather nagging suspicion.
"So, when can we expect to see her?" Asked Cayle. Charles glanced over at the Town sundial.
"Perhaps by the Evening, she has still to gather her belongings in Skara Brae." Cayle nodded slowly.
"And until then?" Charles was watching a crowd of adventurers, and especially a young woman who wore the robe and hat of a Mage. He had a slight grin on his face, it was quite obvious what he intended.
"Until then Cayle, show me the sights and sounds of Haven." Cayle had seen his glances and accepted with a grin.
It was not long before the two had navigated the island, and were sat in the local Tavern enjoying a glass of a stout Minoc Liquor. The night was certainly beginning to close on the lands, and the twilight brought with it the haunting sounds of the Fauna which inhabited the forests around them. The Tavern was rather full, the locals enjoying their drinks and their tales of glory and adventure. At their table sat two more adventurers, and across the room, the Mage that had caught Charles's keen eye earlier. The Tavern master was entertaining a table of guests from Britain with his old anecdote about when he was cornered by a timber wolf in Yew, his small audience laughing along with his tale. Things were usually this easy going in Haven, most of the inhabitants yet to see the true horrors of the world. Most of them wore a serene smile, similar to that of a puppy being stroked by its master. Charles was listening to the Tavern master's story with a grin, and Cayle was staring into his Liquor with a thoughtful look on his face. Ce'Bourne turned to his old comrade with a smile when the Tavern master completed his story, which was met by a round of applause.
"This is some place, aye Cayle. I can see why you would choose to stay here." Laughed Charles. Cayle looked up with a grin.
"Aye, 'Tis brilliant. Very restful."
Charles took a sip of his clear blue drink and placed it back on the table.
"You've got that look in your eyes my friend, what troubles you?"
Cayle looked up slowly with a faint grin.
"You never miss a thing Charles. I miss my life in the guard. Earlier, when we fought that stray Orc, it reminded me..." He stopped suddenly, and a tear touched the corner of his deep green eyes. "It reminded me of that night."
Charles nodded solemnly. "There was nothing you could have done for her Cayle, these things happen." Cayle looked up again.
"You're wrong Charles, I could have saved her, I was so close!"
Charles shook his head at his friends comments. "Do you think I did not try to save my parents? They were taken by the blaze, in our own home! Do you think I did not feel it my fault for not taking them from the danger?" Ce'Bournes voice had now lost its calm undertone, and was tinted with despair. Cayle looked up again and nodded slowly. "We all know Charles...I'm sorry."
Charles sipped his drink again and looked out of the window. "Monique should be here soon."
The both finished their drinks and wandered through the crowd and into night air. The night was strangely quiet, most unlike the nights in Britain, being where Charles had just travelled from. Neither Cayle or Charles were particularly fond of large cities, preferring a more relaxed atmosphere. There was the noise of hooves on gravel as two warriors rode up the main road in the direction of the bank. Ce'Bourne sniffed the air with a smile. They left the noise of the mirthful Tavern, and followed the warriors to Haven square, where they had first met that morning.
Upon the benches of the square sat a single lady, looking up at the stars. She was wearing a travellers cloak, and beside her feet was a fully laden backpack. She let her hair down and run her hands across her fringe to move her hair from her face. "Monique?" Called Charles to the lady. The figure looked up, and jumped up with a little shout of glee. "Charles!" She ran over the square and into the arms of her brother, embracing him. "It's good to see you mon frere." She said, her voice heavily portraying her joy. "As it's good to see you." Replied Charles with a smile. They separated and Monique looked around. She looked at the figure at Charles's side, she did not know that Cayle had taken to living in Haven, having not heard from him in several months.
"Cayle?" she questioned to the shadow. "Aye Monique, it's me." Replied Cayle. He suddenly found Monique attacked to him, rather breathless with the force she had hit him. She hugged him tight, burying her head into his chest. Cayle smiled down and kissed the crown of her hair. "I take you are glad to see me then." Mussed Cayle, Monique nodded.
"Ahem." Both of them turned at Charles's cough. "I think it's time to find some accommodation for the night."
Monique nodded and walked over to her belongings, both Charles and Cayle grinning at her enthusiastic greeting.
"You are both welcome to stay with me the night" Cayle replied, gesturing towards the Inn. "I have a permanent room there, and there is ample room for three." Both the Ce'Bournes accepted his invite, and they made way to the Inn, glad of a proper bed.
The evening sun had left the night sky that evening, leaving only the murky grey, as clouds gathered to blanket the heavens. The air smelt damp, and in the distance there was a dulled flash as a fork of lightning splintered the air above the horizon. The storms coming was most expected, but in this part of the world, there was no one for the icy rain to upset. This area was most quiet, even the monsters of the abyss afraid to announce themselves here, for this was the home of Niceadaemus, warlock ambassador. His power was unprecedented, and his control was vast. His name was great and struck pride and fear into the hearts of men who heard its utterance. He was responsible for the liberation of the small town of Mirklock from the grasp of the Troll empire that established itself in the rocky mountains close to the dungeon known as Destard, home of the glorious Dragon Kin. Niceadaemus preferred the isolation of his lair, a stone tower that pierced the forest canopy like a dull grey needle. He preferred not to be the subject of common judgement, knowing most of the peoples of Sosaria to be simple folk, foolish and superstitious. He knew his arts were spoke of in hushed whispers despite his great will to do justice to the eight virtues. He had sacrificed his life in the pursuit of excellence in the magical arts, but he knew that no one would ever care unless they summoned his aid. With this thought, he brought to his home a young man, a talented conjuror, whom he had found wandering the forests many moons since. The boy had natural magical talent, something reasonably rare in a human, and his great thirst for knowledge soon had him learning fast. The boys skill and power expanded as he grew, and by the time he had completed his time as an adolescent, he had the skill to rival men many times his age. This man, his young disciple was sat even now, studying a vast tomb that he had personally recovered from a brigand that very week. Niceadaemus had much faith in his student, and knew now that he would soon be able to unleash him into life on his own if he so pleased. Niceadaemus stood on the balcony of his study staring out to the mountains, listening to the angry roar of the rolling thunder, thinking of his life under his own master. His learning had been harsh and sorrowful, his master being a mean spirited beast who thrashed him for the slightest mistake. Still now he bore scars from the caning he received as a boy. He had grown without parents, under the eye of his Aunty. It was discovered that he had an aptitude for magic at an early age, and so he was dismissed from the household, his Aunty in fear of persecution for raising a "Wytch". With this, he was taken by the acolyte of the local temples, and given personally to his new master. He slowly shook his head upon the remembrance of the man, and headed back into his study, closing the doors behind him, the storm so far behind his back.
The study was vast, the space taken by many rows of Oak shelves, each supporting untold books and artefacts. All looked old and were coated in a healthy layer of dust, which rose in a cloud whenever something disturbed it. The floor was bare stone, but in the centre of the room, there was a large pentagram, and upon this, a great table with chairs for study. The table was laden with more book, as well a pieces of manuscript, several ink wells, and paper. Paper was a grand extravagance within the lands of Sosaria, only the most wealthy could afford the outrageous prices of real paper, most preferring to write upon parchments made from plants and hard cloth. There was a scratching noise coming from the table, as a figure sat writing with a quill upon manuscript.
His student, Manfredd, was writing notes from the old leather bound tomb, a look of great focus upon his young face. The young man was severely dedicated to learning, having shaved his own head as a sign of his sacrifice of the material in pursuit of knowledge. He was dressed in a simple deep red robe which bore a simplified version of Niceadaemus's own family herald on the breast. This ensured that Manfredd was free from the suspicious glances of the locals when upon the search of regents, they knew he was a follower of their saviour. The robe was long, cut just below the ankle, and hemmed with a yellow band. Upon his feet he wore sullied sandals, and his head bore a red skullcap. Manfredd looked up briefly at his master and silently nodded his head, and then returned to the tomb. Niceadaemus walked behind him, glancing over his students shoulder at his notes, and then headed out of the room with out a word. Manfredd was aware of his masters departure, and moved his book to one side. He closed his eyes and raised his hand out towards one of the book shelves and uttered something silently. Upon his command, one of the tombs left its place in a cloud of dust, and flew into his grasp. He opened the tomb from where he had last left off, and smiled to himself.
The morning in Haven was quite chilly, the storm from the night had passed, leaving the soil sodden with rain. Riders led their mounts through the puddles of the town square, and the folk went about their normal business as usual. One of the towns guards rode through the square, and was met with a series of bows, and a loaf of bread from the local baker. The town always smelled beautiful in the morning, the mixture of the bakers wares in the oven, the pies from the Tavern, and the strange, but very sweetly smelling aromas from the Magi's tower all mixed to provide a heavenly sensation. Inside the Inn, the land lord, a jolly fat man with a bald head went about sweeping his floors as his wife attended to the beds of those who had already left. The Inn was met with much business, especially since it was the only one for many, many miles. They saw many customers, from Dwarves to Paladins, such was the diversity in Haven. Within one of the room, the noise from the outside crowds stirred its inhabitants. First to rise was the Charles, who dressed without noise. He left the room quietly, and headed downstairs to speak with the Land Lady of the Inn, and then made his way back. Upon his return, the sound of the door awoke his friend, Cayle, who rose with a sleep filled yawn.
"Morning" Greeted Charles with a smile. Cayle squinted at him and gave an unintelligible groan noise. "'Tis a beautiful morning also you know Cayle, you're wasting it in bed." continued his friend as he brushed his hair back into a pony tail. Cayle rolled under his sheets and looked out of the window. From his room, he had an excellent view of the town square, and it was indeed growing nice. The nights rain that had settled upon the lawns and flowers now caught the sun in spectacular ways, reflected the light in many wondrous colours, as if diamonds grew from there stalks. He groaned again and propped himself up on his elbow. He grinned at Charles and notioned over to Monique, who was still laid peacefully asleep. In her rush to travel to Haven, she had forgotten her night ware, and now laid in one of Cayles old shirts, clenching it close to her as she dreamed unknown thoughts. Charles chuckled quietly to himself and relaxed in the chair he had chosen to sit in. "So Cayle, what is there to do in Haven, apart from what you have shown me?" He cast his eyes to the floor as his friend rose from his bed, and walked to his pile of clothes on the floor. Cayle had the terrible habit of sleeping naked, and he seemed to forget this fact a lot. There was a slight giggling noise, and they looked over at Monique, who now had one eye open, watching Cayle. She quickly shut her eye, and Cayle continued to dress. "We should have arranged her a separate room." Grinned Cayle, and Charles nodded his head a little. "Well, I suppose she was bound to see you as god intended one day" retorted Charles with a smiles. Cayle looked at him questionably, and then continued to lace the neck of his shirt. There came a slight rapping on the door, announcing that their breakfast was ready. "I took the liberty whilst you were asleep." Explained Charles, reaching for the door. On his way, he nudged his little sister with his toe, and her reply was rather un-lady like. Breakfast that morning was rather nice. Honey and fresh bread, with a cup of tea and a fresh chickens egg. Monique ate hers whilst still under the covers, and the other two ate at the small table in the room. After their breakfast, Cayle and Charles left Monique to ready herself, and took a stroll to the square to see what the local merchants had on offer that day.
At noon, Monique had to leave for her meeting with the local blacksmiths master, which left the day free for Cayle and Charles. They opted to hunt lizardmen upon the coasts, their hides bringing a fair price with the local tanner, who was sorely lacking them this week. Charles's skill with his katana was impressive, even to Cayle, who felt the uncontrollable urge to just stand and watch. His own skill with the spear he carried was commendable, but Charles took martial skill to an art. Even when he sheathed his sword and drew a Halberd he had taken from one of the fallen beasts, he was swift and gracious. Before long, the two were heavily laden, and left for the tanners. Their wares brought a good price, and they headed for the market place. They were met by the sight of three riders on pure white steeds. They wore chainmaille armour of the most brilliant silver, and their helms were tall. Their shields bore the emblem of the phoenix, and their robes were a mixture of crimson and black. In their hands they carried mighty lances, each with a pendant of the phoenix attached to its shaft. They were conversing with a local tracker, a small man in plain clothes who seemed afraid of the wondrous cavalrymen. Charles looked to Cayle. "What are the warriors of the Silver Helms doing here?" He questioned. Cayle looked on at the wondrous warriors, and cast a glance at Charles. "I'm unsure, perhaps we should ask?"
The Silver Helms were the van guard of the Elven forces, noblemen whose skill with a blade was greater then any mortal. They finished talking to the local man, who swiftly distanced himself from the Elves, and they dismounted. They led their mounts to the Inn, heading inside. "Cayle, I think they are here for us." Stated Charles, but Cayle was already heading to the Inn. He passed the white steeds and headed inside. The Elves were questioning the Inn keeper, and turned at the sound of the In door. "Nae saian luume' Turnar." Spoke on of the Elves upon his sight, and bowed. "Mae govannen Ohtar." Replied Cayle, bowing his head. The other two Elves did not speak, but bowed behind their sergeant. "What is the purpose of this Cil'Guia?" Asked Cayle slowly. The Elven sergeant was about to speak when Charles entered the Inn. "A! Aaye sereg'wethrin." Announced Cil'Guia upon his sight. Charles looked at him and smiled, his ignorance to the old language halting his reply. "Cil'Guia, I asked you, why are you here?" repeated Cayle. The Elf met his gaze again and his face dropped slightly. "Councilor, there is unrest brewing in the world".
Dusk in the Mirk-Vale forest, the owls broke out from their roost to hunt the small vermin that scuttled along the leaf litter. Above, the bats stirred, and the wood pigeons retired to their tree branches, their calls haunting the cool air. Bears lumbered back towards their caves, and in the distance, the cry of a harpy sent a flock of chickens scuttling into the undergrowth. Inside his stone tower, Niceadaemus was enjoying a bowl of soup that had been made for him by one of the local village girls, when Manfredd eventually came down from his studies. The man had stayed many hours with his books, and must have been weary and hungry. Niceadaemus notioned to the pot of vegetable soup when he entered the room, but Manfredd refused any, and sat down with his master. Manfredd watched his master eat his supper, and then began his questioning.
"Master Niceadaemus, I have completed my studies, and learnt all I wish to for now." he started. Niceadaemus looked up emotion.
"Good to see you take your studies so seriously Manfredd, but you should allow more time for yourself. You should learn about more then just light magic's." his master replied. Manfredd looked at him when he said this, and there was a wild flash in his eye. "Yes I know that Niceadaemus." The old Mage noticed that for the first time in many years, Manfredd had not called him master, and looked up at him. Manfredd was sat grinning to himself. Niceadaemus looked hard into his students eyes, and recoiled. "You...you've read the Grimoire Macabre, haven't you." his master proclaimed, his voice full of anger. Manfredd nodded. "And the Liber Mortis." he replied. Niceadaemus kept his eye on his student, and stood thinking. "What exactly have you learnt my student?" He asked eventually, and Manfredd laughed at him. "Your student?" he mocked. "For years you kept this knowledge from me, you hid my mind in your own shadow, now I have more power then most men would dream, and you call me your student?!"
Niceadaemus stepped back. "How did you read that book, it was..." started Niceadaemus"...Protected with sigils, yes I know." cut Manfredd. He rose from his seat and walked over to his former master. "Do you think such petty magic's could stop me?" He asked with an amused tone. Niceadaemus's face was a picture of despair. He eyeballed his former student, and then he understood. He nodded half to himself and sighed inwardly. "This was written." stated Niceadaemus. Manfredd nodded. "The young bastard Mage who will raise to command the undead against the lands of Sosaria." replied Manfredd nodding. A wicked smile broke across his face. "You Niceadaemus shall be my first. Bow to me, become my Liche." Niceadaemus's face filled with terror. "I would never bow to such horrors, I would rather DIE!" Manfredd nodded. "I thought so."
Dusk drew across the town of Haven, and the locals were closing their shops to the crowds. Yet again, the local Tavern filled once more, and the sound of music and laughter filled the air. Upon the village square, the young Monique stood with her new master, reviewing their days learning. Over looking them, sat Cayle. He watched out of the window, his face full of thought. Behind him, Charles was talking to the Elven Ohtar who had come for them earlier. Their news had indeed been bad. It meant that Cayle would be expected to leave his home, and visit the town of Cove. Affairs were growing desperate there, as the Green skin tribes planned to attack the town. If this post fell, they would have almost free access to the Elven shrine, hidden in the forests South-west of Vesper. He knew he could not refuse their plea, his marriage to Ichelle had forged him a strong link of service to the Elven powers. Ichelle had been the Daughter of the Nikerym Tel'Mithrim, a highly important figure in the Elven circles. He was bound to serve him as Turnar, until his life ended. He turned slowly to face his guests. They were listening to Charles's recollection of the Assassination of Tolken Merdian, the Elves eager to hear the account of his death from the killer himself. They found great content in listening to his demise, as the man had been responsible for much pain in their lives. Once Charles had finished his account Cayle stood. "My Brothers" he began, the Elves turning to look "I will ride to protect Cove. Ready me a mount." The Cil'Guia nodded. "We knew you would aid us Turnar. Fear not, you will not fight alone though. We have sent a message to the Qualohtarie, they will send three of their temple guards to aid you." Cayle nodded. "Very well, leave us some time to prepare. The Tavern is just, and you will find good wine there." Cil'Guia nodded, and departed the room with his men. Cayle strode to a large metal chest in the room, and opened it with a key that had been hung about his neck. From this chest he pulled a suit of fine chainmaille, very similar in make to that of the Silver Helms, although his was wrought in a strange reddish gold. He laid the chainmaille on the floor, and pulled out a high helm, in the same hue as the chainmaille. He sat a moment and admired the Helm before laying it next to the maille. Charles watched silently as Cayle pulled a long sword from the chest. The sword was of a fine silver, beset with a sapphire in the hilt. Cayle tested the swing of his sword, and smiled at his old blade. Charles had not seen the armor since the Tel'ai'maria, one of the annual events that the Elven nobles held within their cities. Cayle had competed once, and came third in the single Duel event, which was quite a fete considering the skill the other Elves displayed that day. As Charles recalled the Tel'ai'maria, Cayle donned his armor. It fitted as if it were an outfit tailored to his needs, but in fact the armor was much older then he, having been passed through five generations of the Tel'Mithrim. Cayle fastened a long red cloak to the collar of the outfit, and looked down at Charles. "It has been some time since I wore this." he said, Charles nodded. "Time for us to speak with the Elves then I suppose. I can't wait to begin on those green skins." said Charles, a slight smile on his face. Cayle shook his head slowly. "You are to stay here and watch over your sister." Charles began to object, but Cayle rose his hand, and shook his head. "This is my war Charles, stay here and be happy." Charles saw the look in Cayles eye, and nodded his head. "Very well my friend, I wish you the best of luck."
Night had truly fallen on Mirk-Vale, and the tower of Niceadaemus glowed with a sinister aura. Each of the ancient glass windows was lit by a baleful purple glow, and the air about the tower seemed thick and stale. There was a chanting from the roof, as Manfredd strode invoking an ancient rite of evil. The air about him shimmered to a colour past the deepest of blacks, and the sky grew dark as the clouds converged above his head. He raised his head to the skies, and continued his ancient chant. The soils about the forest screamed in anguish, and the trees bent and blackened. The clouds parted above Manfredd, and a ray of red light erupted from the heavens, breaking into his body. His scream broke the very air, birds racing into the sky from the evil call. The light continued for sometime, and the roof of the ancient tower was shrouded in a sudden black mist. The light from the heavens broke away, and a strong wind swept the mist from the stones. Manfredd stood alone, still wracked by the burning pain that the light had caused. His stared at his hands, which were now pale and lifeless. His skin was cold, and he could no longer feel his own pulse. He staggered to a large mirror upon the roof, and saw he had changed. His eyes were now blackened pits of hatred and blood greed, pricked with two baleful red balls of flame. His whole body was pale, and tingled strangely, and his senses had increased. He looked about him, but his eyesight could not make the stone around him, all seemed black and miserable. He slumped onto a table, and fell into a deep sleep. There was a low moan as a creature made its way up the stone steps that led to the roof. Its skin was grey, and its lips blue. It's eyes were lifeless and unintelligible. It dragged its left leg as it walked along to guard Manfredd. The creature was formally Niceadaemus, but now it was nothing more then an animal serving its masters subconscious will.
Charles watched from the door way of the Inn as Cayle hoisted himself into the saddle of the snow white Elven steed. The beast was remarkable, finely toned and well mannered. At Cayle side, Monique was stood, helping him with his pack. Charles knew that Cayle had a score to settle with the Orc tribes, perhaps an anger that could never be quenched, but he was still uneasy about letting his friend off to face the threat alone. He had the utmost confidence in his friends skills, he was a tried warrior, but one man on his own could not possibly be prepared for all in the world. He watched on silently. Cayle smiled down at Monique and thanked her for her help, and turned his steed on its heels. He faced Charles and nodded at him with a grim smile. "I've been waiting for this Charles" he said, his voice edged and nasty. Charles nodded gravely. He knew the extent of Cayles hatred of the Uruk-hai, and hoped this would not cloud his judgement. "Becareful" was all he could let slip to Cayle, who met his words with an understanding look. Monique took hold of the Steeds bridal. "Cayle...I've made you something for your travels." she said, tugging something from her pack. It was a finely crafted dagger with a jewelled hilt and a keen blade. "Just incase you need it" She said, smiling. He took the dagger and tucked it into his boot. "Thank you Monique."
The Elves of the Tel'Mithrim rode around the corner, and halted at Cayles side. Their silver armor caught the Lantern light in peculiar ways, reflecting it in shades of green, blue and purple. They saw Cayle in his armor and smiled. "It is good to see an Ohtar wearing it once more" declared Cil'Guia, his words were met with a 'hear hear' from his men. Cayle turned his head to the Elf kin, and took the helmet from under his arm. "Time we rode" he said, lifting the helmet onto his head. The Elves nodded and snaked past him in a column. Cayle nodded a good bye to Charles, and turned his mount to follow the Elves. Monique waved at him. The rode into the Twilight, his golden armor glowing in the twilight. Monique walked over to her brother, who took her in his arms, seeing the look of sorrow on her face. "It's alright Monique, he will return." Monique nodded, and Charles watched on with a concerned look on his face.
The township of Glorindar, the home of the high Elven folk, sat quietly in the silent forest. The main keep, the Citadel of the town, was gently lit by a series of lanterns, set into the ancient walls. Creepers and vines wound their way up the mighty buttresses of the building, giving an indication to its age. The windows were lined with stained glass, each depicting a hero of Elven Lore. Upon the steps, two men guarded the mighty Oak doors of the keep, watching the shadows of the court yard with well trained eyes. Inside the keep sat two Elves. One was a man, tall and slender with long brown hair that he had tied back in a pony tail with a band of golden jewelry. He wore the uniform of the Elves of Glorindar, red with black sleeves. He was sat drinking to himself, deep in thought. The other was a slender, average height woman. She sat in a red skirt with a black shirt, and wore her blonde hair in a similar way to the man at her side. She was busy amending a book upon the table she was sat at. They both heard the sound of a shout outside, and walked over to the doors, taking their weapons as they went. When they opened the door ways, they were met with a terrible sight. The walking dead, lifeless and foul, were setting themselves upon the two guards, mercilessly beating them with branches from a nearby tree. One of the guards escaped the clutches of the undead, and swung his broadsword in a mighty swipe. His blade connected with one of the Zombies, sending it flying backwards, its grayish brown blood arcing into the air. The guard dropped his weapon as the pussy liquid hit his face, and attempted to wipe it off, as he gipped at the smell. The Zombies dove on him in his defenseless state, and slew him with their teeth and claws, his death scream cut short as one of the undead foot soldiers clamped its maw about his throat. Jyazelle, the Elven female, charged at the closest of the walking dead, her spear hitting it hard in the chest. She growled as she picked the beast from the floor, and withdrew her spear, dropping to beast on the soil. She followed up her attack, and sent the tip of her blade through the Zombies eye socket, breaking cleanly through the back of its skull. It let out an unearthly sound, and slumped to the grass, the bond with its masters will severed. She turned at the murmuring of another, and parried a blow from a club with the haft of her spear. She span, and knocked it's legs from under it with the tip of the spear, and kicked its head as it fell back. The Elven male was beset by two of the creatures simultaneously. He brought out a finely crafted Katana, and lopped off one of the groping hands of the closest of the dead. It let no sound of pain from its dead throat, and continued to advance. The Elf stepped back, and brought his blade in a figure of eight, decapitating one Zombie, and taking an arm from the other. Jyazelle thrust her spear into the creature on the floor, penetrating it black heart, banishing the spell. It slumped to the floor, and she looked around. Another of the dead doze upon her, and she did not have time to avoid its advance. She fell to the floor, the fetid foe attempting to bite at her face. She brought her hand up, smashing it with the palm of her hand, breaking its jaw from its head. She rolled backwards, her legs extending, throwing the Zombie into a pile. She quickly regained her footing, and whipped a Kriss from her belt. She stabbed the creature with amazing speed, once in the head, and four times in the chest faster then the blink of a mortals eye. The beast fell in a unholy spurt of black blood. She looked up to see where her companion was, but he had already bested his foes, and was wiping the foul stinking blood from his blade. She looked about her, peering into the shadows. From the darkness, she saw two red eyes, burning with hatred in the cold air. She turned and called to the other Elf, but when she turned back, the eyes were gone. She quickly took her spear from the floor, and raced into the forest after them.
The Haven Tavern was as bust as usual, its usual custom of Mages and warriors drinking their fill of the fine ales. Charles and his sister Monique sat on their own table, ignoring the rest of the rabble. The Tavern Keeper came to them eventually with a jolly smile. "Anything I can do for Yeh?" He asked. Charles looked up to the man, and was about to answer no, but then someone caught his eye. The female Mage he had seen the other night was sat on her own, looking about her with a confused expression. "Yes...tell me, who is that lady?" He asked the Tavern Keeper. The man followed the direction of Charles finger and looked thoughtfully at the Mage. "All I know is her name, Loya Nava. She's been here lately, but I can't say I know her." he replied. Charles nodded slowly to himself. "A bottle of wine then if you would." The tavern keeper nodded to Charles, and walked back to the bar. Charles left his seat and walked over to the young lady. "Excuse me, is anyone sat here?" he asked with a charming smile. The young Mage looked up, her face lighting up slowly. "Perhaps there is?" she asked. Charles shrugged his shoulders with a smile. "Then I would have lost my heart without a cause" he replied. The young woman smiled at his words. "Very well, be seated if you would." Charles bowed his head, and sat with her. Monique glanced over with a grin, and sat thoughtfully. Behind her, a group of warriors brayed noisily.
"Nothing ever bloody well happens in these lands!" Proclaimed on of them. Monique smiled to herself, and poured a glass of the wine that the Tavern Keeper had brought.
Jyazelle sped through the undergrowth of the forest, her keen eyes scanning for some sign of her quarry. She leapt over a bramble bush, landing in full sprint. The beast she was tracking had to have come this way, there was no doubt about that, but it was almost as if it had not existed, there was no sign about. Still, she sprinted on, ducking through the low groping branches of the Elm trees about her. Suddenly she froze, her feet skidding slightly in the boggy soil. Something had caught her eye to the left, and she brought her spear round at lightning speed. The haft hit the creature as it dove from the shadows, letting a cry that sounded somewhat like an injured cougar. The creature spun and blocked the haft, a blow which would have broken a normal mortals ribs. It landed cleanly, and crouched down, its shoulders hunched about its neck, and its red eyes burning in the night. Jyazelle narrowed her eyes, and brought her spear into a defensive position, keeping her eyes trained on the crouching beast. Again it sprung, its agility so uncommon, even the Elf was also caught off guard. She brought the spear haft upwards as she fell back in shock, hitting the creature full in the crotch. It screamed in agony, and landed uneasily, its boots grinding in the mud, loosing its footing. Jyazelle acted quickly, and sprung forwards, her spear aimed at its spine. Before she could hit, the creature was gone though, evaporating into a cloud of angry black mist. The vapour cloud hovered a minute in mid air, Jyazelle looking on with hatred in her eyes, before it quickly disappeared into the forest. Jyazelle hardly had time to gather her wits before she started sprinting again, her will pushing her to hunt the unnatural beast. As she ran, she called out in Ancient Elvish tongue, and a nesting bird rallied to her cause. She snapped a command as she rounded the edge of a body of murky brown water, and the bird flew off in the direction of the mist. It had been sometime since she had seen magic's as dark as this, in-fact a full century had passed since the last of the great Necromancers was banished from Sosaria, but their spirits still shrouded the places of the dead, the deceased rising from their places of rest to feast on the flesh of the living. She had never understood why the Mages of the world did not put a stop to this, encouraging warriors to battle the tides instead. To allow such evils was surely provocation for something darker to take a footing in the lands. She took note of a familiar sight as she ran, they were approaching MirkVale. If the beast reached the town, it would be difficult to track the thing, and she feared for the lives of any humans in the area. With that thought, she pressed on harder, her fleet feet leaving no sound as she tore through the forest.
The Elven magic's had taken Cayle to the Qualohtarie, a secret temple south of the city of Vesper. The area was tranquil, the crickets playing their song to the owls who watched the procession of riders from their perches within the ancient trees. They arrived at the doorway to the Qualohtarie, a set of two marble pillars that protruded ominously from the soils with empirical pride. As the approached, their was a low rumble, as the ground between the two pillars shifted, and a secret passage way opened, lighting the immediate area with a deep purple glow from the lanterns inside. The four riders past the pillars, and rode into the subterranean temple, the passageway sealing itself behind them. The passage way was regal and great, the wall carved into the colored sandstone bedrock, and the floors being polished shale, which shone in multi colored splendor, like fresh oil on water. The reached a large archway within the passage, and dismounted in unison, leaving their mounts tied to the walls. The approached the inner chamber, which was a vast hallway. The chamber was carved with the images of six of the Ainur, ancient beings responsible for the forming of the seas, mountains, grasslands, animals and the skies. The were the source of the Elven folk, their mother and fathers, who had beset the position of guardians to the Elven kin during their time of strife against the fallen Ainur, a beast who became known as the "Guardian". The hall way was lit by mighty torches, each set in an alcove around the walls. The lit the chamber in different shades, as each of the torches burnt in its own color. Their was a heavy scent of incense about the chamber, and the sweet sound of music from some unknown source. At the far end of the chamber stood a mighty dais. Upon this, an altar to the Ainur, set with fruits, precious stone and wines. Over looking the dais were figurines, each depicting heroes of the Elven kin. They were finely carved from woods and stones, each clearing depicting the character. At either side of the dais stood one member of the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar, an ancient sect of swordsmen, who were founded to protect the temples of the world. The humans later adopted this practice, with warriors under the guise of Paladins, or Knights Templar. The Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar each stood tall and proud, their golden armor shinning in the torch light. They wore no helms, although their faces were covered with a deep black mask. Their great swords, each as tall as a grown man, were held with their tips against the cold stone floor. These warriors were unmatched in the world. They had originally taught men the arts of warfare, and were more then capable of besting a Dragon single handedly. They stared impassively ahead of them as the riders approached the center of the chamber. In unison, the host bowed to the dais, and knelt in thought, sparring their minds to the passing of the greats in order for their survival. There were the light sounds of footsteps as the Amandil, the cleric of the Qualohtarie approached from his office. The Elf was visibly ancient, even by their standards, his face tired, and his hair gray. He wore a long robe, the color of the mottled pheasant, which trailed behind him. He wore a crown of gold upon his brow, marked with the symbol of the Qualohtarie, a star which shines over Britannia. This symbol was ancient, and highly respected for it represented the Ainur themselves, ancient protectors of the lands. He walked to the head of the host, who still bowed at the dais, and touched each on the forehead, invoking an ancient blessing as he moved. When he had completed this blessing, they rose from their knees and bowed their heads to the Amandil. "We have brought the one, Amandil" announced Gil'guia, the old elf nodded. "You" the ancient one began, looking at Cayle "you are Gai'cel R'yen?" Cayle raised his head to meet the look of the venerable Elf. "Indeed I am Amandil." Cayle answered. The Amandil nodded, and beckoned to his temple aid, who hurried into a back chamber. The Amandil approached Cayle, and placed his hand on his shoulder. "You understand what you must do then." asked the old Elf. Cayle nodded and Cil'Guia spoke out. "Surely Amandil, the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar are more then capable of this task?" He questioned. The Amandil turned to Cil'Guia and nodded. "Indeed, they are strong, but Gai'cel R'yen's strength must be tested. We can not afford to keep a Turnar who has a weak heart." Cil'Guia nodded at his words. From the back chamber came the clanking of metal on stone. Three of the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar emerged from the shadowed chamber, each dressed in the attire of their brethren who guarded the dais. They halted behind the Amandil, who turned and blessed them. He instructed the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar on their task, each accepting the honor of fighting for the Qualohtarie with pride expected from their ranks. The old Amandil turned to Cayle and nodded. "Very well Gai'cel R'yen, your task begins here."
Jyazelle now became tired. She had sprinted over four miles, and was beginning to feel the burning tire in her legs. In the immediate distance, the light of a settlement could be seen. She veered from her current course, and ran towards the town. The forests slowly burnt away, and grass lands replaced the terrain, giving the Elf greater passage. The was soon upon the outskirts of the village, and began her search for a mount. The village was as quiet as could be expected, but something seemed wrong. Their was a great smell of burning, and the stench of burning meats. She rounded the corner in road, and skidded to a halt. In front of her, a mighty pyre was alight. About it, the bodies of the villages were lain. Silouhets circled the bodies, their forms masked by the flames that burnt behind them. She approached cautiously, the heat of the naked flame fresh on her fair skin. The figures slowly became more plain, they were ghouls, a race of degenerates that haunted the mountains, eager for the taste of human flesh. They were hounding the dead villagers, brutishly attacking each over, fighting for their meal like Jackals. Jyazelle slowly edged away from the flame, but their was a dull screeching sound behind her. She turned to see a Knight, its armor battered and its throat absent from it's dead shell, its own blood staining its once shinning armor. It was dragging its broadsword as it approached her. It stared at her with hungry eyes, and lifted its blade. Jyazelle readied her spear. The dead knight swung clumsily, it's once gracious skill with its blade now degenerated into a rotting parody. The Elf easily ducked the blade, and brought her spear up, jabbing it in its visored helm. The Wight lost its footing, and stumbled to the floor heavily. The great clanging attracted the attention of the Ghouls, who leapt from their carrion. They saw Jyazelle, and brayed inhumanly, and set running at her on all fours, much like a monkey. Jyazelle heard their cry, and turned, her face dropping in horror. She began to run, but she was still tired, and was soon caught. The leapt at her in a crazed hunger. The first few she batted off easily, but she was soon overwhelmed and pinned to the cold road. One of the Ghouls went to bite at her face, but their was a sudden flash of light, and one of the beasts exploded tremendously. The overs leapt to their feet, and began to back off, not wishing to face such power. A figure broke from the shadows, and approached Jyazelle, who laid in a daze on the floor. The ghouls broke and ran back to the pyre, knowing that meal would not give them any resistance. The fire cast heavy shadows of one side of the figure, but it was obvious what he was. His pale skin appeared golden yellow in the flame light of the pyre, and his black clothing shimmered under the dancing of the fire. He stared down into her eyes, causing her skin to crawl. His face was cruel, and the deep pits now shined red. He knelt at Jyazelle's side and took her in his arms. He lifted her with ease carried her off into the forest, towards Mirk-Vale, his cape whipping behind him in the gentle breeze.
There was an empty tapping noise on the window of the Inn. Charles rolled from his bed, and cast his gaze at the source of the sound, a small sparrow which was hitting the glass pane with its small beak. He looked on curiously as he rose from the corner of his bed, and walked towards the window. The sparrow continued to tap until Charles released the latch and opened the window. The tiny bird flew in and began to circle Charles head frantically. It called in a shrill voice in the language of its kin. Charles looked on in amazement at the bird, but did not understand its purpose. Then a strange feeling overcame him, almost like a sickness in his head. Words filled his mind, Glorindar, Help, Battle, Running, Jyazelle. His eyes opened a little as he stared to understand. "You are sent by the Elves?" He questioned the bird, which nodded in reply. Charles snatched his sword from the back of the chair and ran to the chest in the room. He pulled a large leather book from the wooden container, and flicked through the pages. He ran his finger over the leaf of on page, reading the ancient script. He concentrated, casting his mind on the destination he desired, and then spoke aloud; "Kal Ort Por!" He suddenly felt light headed as the spell took affect, and his body broke up. A split second later, he was stood in the court of Glorindar town, close to one of the corpses from the battle that night. He looked down in disgust, and turned at the sound of steps. "Where is Jyazelle?" Questioned Charles to the Elf. The Elf looked towards the forest and pointed. "Headed South, why do you seek her?" replied the Elf. "Charles pushed past him and into the stables of the town, the Elf close behind. "She sent me a message, she's in peril." Charles stated as he threw the saddle onto the back of a fleet footed looking steed. He tightened the girth and threw his scabbard over the pommel. He jumped into the saddle, using the wall behind him as a footing, and turned the silver-white horse on its hinds. With that, he broke into a mighty gallop in the direction that the Elf had pointed out to him, and was soon lost in the shadowed undergrowth.
Cayle rode the road to the Eastern gate of cove. From where they stood, the four travellers could see that the Guards were lining the walls, and the outsides of the village were lit with torches. They dismounted, and tied their rides to the trees nearby, and walked cautiously towards the village. The village walls were tall and wooden, made from felled trees that were buried deep into the fertile soils. Archers watched the shadows from the parapets, and halberd armed guards stood either side of the main gate. From the inside was the sound of heavy commotion, shouts and cries from the villagers as the levy organised the defences. Already, wooden stakes had been attached to the tops of the walls, their points angled at the soils outside. These were to protect from any attacks made via ladders on the village. They saw that pot of boiling animal fats were being ferried along the walls, and that the murder holes in the gate house were being stocked with stones. There was a rustle to the side of the four, and they ducked into the bushes. A patrol of five guards past by their faces, and disappeared into the main gate. The Elves did not want their presence known by the humans until during the battle. The superstitious settlers within the walls of Cove might find the presence of the Elves as a bad omen, and banish them from the village. Their plan was to enter the frey once the Orcs attacked, taking their rear flank. It was hoped that this confusion should provide the defenders with enough time to slaughter the Orc masses. They moved silently through the undergrowth, and took position close to the pass, where they could witness when the Orcs left their fort. They passed a small vial amongst themselves, each taking a sip of the lavender scented potion. The potion filled them with a feeling of great strength, and enhanced their calm. They sat and listened, in the night air, they could hear the beat of the Orcish drums; Bo-bom Bom Tom.
As Jyazelle awoke, the feeling of doom hung heavy on her mind. The last thing she had seen was the grimacing face of the evil beast as he took her away from the fires. He had invoke magics upon her to bind her in her place, to prevent her struggling as he took her to his lair. Her vision was blurred now, but her sense of smell was still strong. The eggy reek of brimstone and sulphur assaulted her delicate nostrils, and she wrinkled her face in disgust. Slowly she regained her focus, her cloudy vision clearing to reveal her location. She was laid upon a cold slab of granite, her ankles and wrists bound with leather. At the side of her was an old table, covered in flasks and beakers, and an old book that she could not see. Above her, a twisted candelabra, its red wax candles lighting the room in fits of flame. She struggled against her bondage, but the straps were tight about her skin. From the corner of the room, she heard the voice of her captor, as he recited the words from a tomb that was sat in front of him. Although she could not see him, he was hunched over a table, tracing the words of a book with his finger. The words were in ancient Elven and were untidy. The pages were stained in blood. There was a whoosh of smoke as the Necromancer threw ingredients into a pot at his side, the acrid fumes tickling at Jyazelles throat. She coughed heavily at the smell, and tested the tethering again. The Necromancer did not turn at her cough, but spoke non the less; "Good, you're awake. It would have been less entertaining had you slept through this. He dragged his finger over the page again, and then threw more reagents into the pot. There was an angry hiss, and the pot glowed with a baleful green colour. He moved over to the pot, keeping his eyes on the book. He recited wicked sounding words as he ground the contents of the pot with a marble rock. The words were heavy and nasty, each syllable clashing with Jyazelles ears. She tilted her head and gritted her teeth as the words caused her pain. Still, the wizard continued, raising his incantation to a chant. His voice became louder and he beat the contents of the pot with excitement. The pain in her head continued as the words of power bore into her. She clenched her eyes closed, and screamed. Suddenly there was silence. The chanting seised, although the pain still bounded about Jyazelles head. She struggled to catch a view of the vile thing, but he was not to be seen. She rested her head against the cold granite slab again, and closed her eyes, wishing for the pain to leave her.
Charles' steed broke the tree line of Mirk Vale, jumping a felled tree with ease. He brought the mount to a rest on the edge of the village, and dismounted quickly. Jyazelle had been here, that much he knew from the birds that guided him now. He ran through the streets. The village was silent, and the smell of blood hung heavy in the air. He drew his sword as he ran. He tripped in something in the street, and stumbled. He regained his footing swiftly and looked behind him. He stopped dead on the spot, and stared at the floor. He had stumbled over the remains of one of the ghouls that Jyazelle had fought earlier, but he did not know that. He approached the carcass, and turned it to view its face. It was ugly and distorted, as if the normal image of a person had been held within a smashed mirror. Its face was scared and deformed, one eye missing. It bore a large swelling on its fore head, and its chest has a deep gash. Charles examined the wound in its chest, it appeared to be a spear mark. Suddenly he froze and turned slowly. He was confronted by a figure that watched him with dead eyes. It squatted on the corner of the roof of an outhouse, its hands between its knees. In the nights breeze, it's long tangled hair swung gently. It hissed slowly, and rose a little from its perch. Charles raised his sword to a defensive position, and stared into the deep pits, the eyes of his quarry. As he stared, he did not notice the shadow behind him. From the floor, the ghoul had risen, and now stood a full head high over the assassin. It hissed at him monstrously, and then made its strike.
The beasts attack knocked Charles over, its fists smashing into his shoulder. He spun in the air, and landed on his feet, bringing his sword up level with his chest. From behind him, he heard the scurrying of the wraith as it circled him from the rooftops. Charles ducked the second attack from the ghoul, and lashed back with the pommel of his sword as he ducked beneath its swing. The shot connected with the things sternum, a loud crack emanating from its stomach, below the spear wound. The beast let out a massive cry as the pressure of its foul heart began to crush him. Charles allowed a backhand swipe at the Ghoul when he had passed, and cleanly decapitated it. He looked about him for the Wraith now, but it was not to be heard. There was the sound of claw on stone from behind him, and he turned suddenly, but only to be confronted by the darkness of the village streets. There was a cackle from another direction, and Charles turned to face that, and yet again there was nothing but the night air. Then from behind him, the creature attacked, it claws outstretched like a cat assaulting a mouse. It landed behind Charles silently, and raked its claws across his back. The shot hit him hard in the kidneys, and although he was wearing his armour, the force of the shot sent him to the floor. He landed upon his wrist, a clean snapping noise was heard before the shooting pain took up his arm. He rolled over on his back, and saw the thing attack again. It leapt into the air, its mouth open. Charles raised his sword with one hand, laying the pommel on his chest plate. The Wraith landed fully on the blade, driving its self halfway down the blade. Still, it attacked; lashing at Charles face. Its claws were keen against his steel helm, etching into it. Each blow was heavy, jolting his head. Charles raised his foot into the Wraiths groin and kicked it to one side. It landed on its back, the sword burying into the road pinning it to the floor. It was screaming, writhing along the floor like an angry snake. Charles kept his eye on it as he raised himself with one hand. He walked over to the beast that hisses evilly. Charles snarled and kicked it in its face then stamped on its throat, his heavy boots breaking its neck. He un lodged his sword as he looked around. The air was growing denser now. From over the tree line, a fluorescent green glow lit the sky. He watched the glow, and slowly started to walk towards it, knowing in his gut that this was where Jyazelle was.
The Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar pointing gestured silently at the pass. Cayle followed his gesture, and his heart filled with rage. Amassed in front of them, an Orcish horde marched along the pass. They flew banners made from animal skins hung on the branches of trees. Their weapons and armor were mucky and worn half hazardly. A few of the Orcs, those who led from the front, wore black chainmaille. Among their ranks, a company of Trolls could be seen, being led down the path by Orcish herders, pushing the Trolls with long spears. One of the herders poked its Troll, which became enraged and turned on its master, scooping it up and throwing it against the walls of the pass. The creature was quickly pacified. Cayle rose from his position, and drew his sword silently. One of the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar placed his hand on his shoulder. "Not yet Turnar, not until they attack."
The Orcs rounded the corner of the mountain, and the humans cried. The war cries of the Orcs became louder, and they charged the gates of the village. They hacked at the doors with axes and hammers, but made no progress. The defenders threw pots of boiling oil upon the Orcs, and launched stones from the walls. Archers with Siege crossbows fired into the hordes, felling ranks of deformed Orcs. There was a heavy "Fluck-tung" noise as the catapults inside the village walls fired incendiary shots into the hordes. Great explosions of flame erupted in the midst of the Orc ranks, searing flesh. The Trolls were huddled from the middle of the host, and moved to the front. The Orcs hit hard with their spears, sending the Trolls into a frenzy. The Trolls smashed against the gates and the walls, their heavy impacts causing the wood to creak. At this, the Elves took off. Silently, they charged down the slopes and into the rear of the Orc army. "Gurth goth rim Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar" came their battle cry. A few Orcs at the rear heard the cry. They turned to meet the great swords of the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar. The Elven blows cleft the Orcs in twine, and their assault continued. The humans noticed that the rear of the Orcish horde was beginning to collapse, and they fought harder. The siege catapults were brought upon the Trolls, felling all but five of them in the first few volleys. Before they stopped them though, one of the Trolls penetrated the main gates, shattering it into a shower of splinters. The defenders behind the doors fell under the shower, the remaining guard dropping their pikes and routing in the sight of the Trolls. From behind the pike men, a wall of City guard stood ready. They charged into the wall of green skins, their halberds above their heads. "For the glory of our King!" They screamed as they charged into the Trolls.
Jyazelle managed to free one hand from the bindings that held her to the table. Her wrists were sore where the leather tethering had rubbed her skin. She unbuckled her other hand, and then her feet. Then, she was able to take account of where she was. The room was dark, the only light coming from two black candles in the corners of the room. The floor was stone, hewn from a heavy black stone that was polished like glass. The air was heavy with the smell of sulfur, the source being a large brazier that was being heated over a open flame. On the back wall stood a heavy Oak bookcase, filled with books on magic. Some of the books were in shades of beautiful reds and blues, but some were ugly and harsh. Along the wall, at the end of the slab that Jyazelle had been bound to; a long stone table with various clutter. Jyazelle went to the ancient spell book that the Necromancer had been reading from. She hissed to herself when she realized what it was. "The fool." she hissed as she closed the Grimoire Macabre. She scooped it into her cloak, and made for the door. As she passed, the drew a burning log from the fire, and threw it into the bookcase. It caught alight quickly, and soon the entire case was burning. The flame caught to the Oak beams in the ceiling. Jyazelle passed out of the door, and made her way swiftly down the stairs. At the foot of the stairs, Von Sleur awaited her. "Foolish Elf" He bellowed, "Do you know what you have done!" As he roared at her, he seemed to grow in size, his deep black eyes burning with a red light. "You shall die for this" he screeched, raising his hands. "Corp Por" his words of power erupted from his throat, a great blue ball of energy building on his hands. He threw his hands towards her, the ball of energy crackling as it left his grasp. The energy bolt struck Jyazelle in the stomach, knocking her clean from her feet. She laid on the floor, coughing nastily. Von Sleur looked at her as she laid winded on the floor, and he smiled, his face breaking into a visage akin to a Gargoyle. Again he uttered the words "Corp Por" and the Energy bolt again grew on his hands. Suddenly from behind, the door smashed open, and Charles charged in. He struck Von Sleur full on as he charged, knocking the Necromancer to the floor, dissipating his spell. Charles stood over Jyazelle, his sword raised at the beast on the floor. Slowly, Von Sleur pulled himself to full height. "Foolish warrior" Von Sleur hissed. Charles smirked. "Warrior eh?" He repeated, and slashed his sword across Von Sleurs chest. The Necromancer began to laugh at the attack, thinking it to only be a flesh wound, then his arm began to spasm. He hissed, fear wracking his face, and dropped to the floor, his body wracked with pain. Charles picked Jyazelle from the floor, and ran out of the tower. The inferno had taken hold now, and the tower was ablaze. Chunks of rock fell from the outer walls as the support beams were burnt to ash. After some time, the tower collapsed, but the two wounded heroes were already half way home by then.
Cayle stood in the centre of the Orc kin, his blade dealing a web of death to the Orcs about him. His armour was already stained black with the blood of the Orcs he had dispatched, and he stood on a mighty mound of the fallen. About him, the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar slew the Orcs with cold proficiency. The humans were now fighting on the outsides of the walls, the City guard fighting in blocks. The siege weapons within the village continued to rain down upon the Orc kin. From the North, came the heavy sound of a green war horn, and the heavy thundering of hooves. A column of cavalry came down the road, and stopped within charge range of the Orcs. They remade their formation, forming in ranks, and charged into the flank of the horde, their lances lowered, and their shields displayed proudly. The knights smashed the Orcs, their entire flank collapsed under the hooves of the cavalry. The drums of the Orcs started beating again, and rank by rank, the Orcs began to withdraw. They scrambled over each other, attacked their own kind as they fled back towards the passage. Two of the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar took flight. They cut down the Orcs as they sprinted towards the pass. Then stopped in the bottle neck of the pass, barring the retreat of the green skins. They carved a mighty swarve through the Orcs who fought like wild animals, their escape trapped.
By the night fall, all but a few that managed to escape into the woodlands, were slain. Cayle and the Qualohtarie' Nim'ohtar had left the scene of the battle before it had drawn conclusion, but their impact on the fighting was taken into the highest of accounts, the war becoming known as the "Battle of the Golden Swordsman."
Upon their return to the Qualohtarie, the Amandil met them with joy. "You have done well our Turnar" He told Cayle "you have much promise to us."