They had marched for three days, leaving the mountains of the Nomen province behind on the first day. He could barely recall what happened after that, the memory already faded to an incessant roar of heavy-shod boots marching to the rhythm of clanking steel.
The sun had shone brightly the past days, the trees offering little shadow, but the Dwarves had marched on valiantly, urged by their sense of duty and a divine vigour bestowed by his supplications to Calistria. Orodreth looked behind him, surveying the grimly determined column of warriors, and was reassured when he saw the cold sheen of silver on the axes of their greatest warriors.
He had regretted having to inform Maegar Varn of the imprisonment of Elanna Varn, yet not as much as he had regretted having to leave the girl behind with only the Stonemark’s Chief Diplomat as protector. Although he wasn’t sure the old man had it in him to allay the accusation of regicide, he had some strange feeling the druid was as good a champion to her cause as he could have been.
But that didn’t matter now. Varn was understandably upset, but conceded to sending a detachment of heavy infantry to help counter the Wolf Lord’s invasion and secure the Nomen Province’s western border. A strike against Mivon’s enemy here would greatly help the Sword Lords in the South…
The distant sound of battle echoed through the forest, howling wolves and screaming men tore through the steady staccato of Dwarven marching. The column veered south by south-west, towards the pillars of smoke coming from River Camp.
Chaos was absolute. The western riverbank was beset by hordes of werewolves, baying and snarling dreadfully, throwing their powerful bodies against the defences of the burning town. The line of light outriders was about to break under the dreadful onslaught when out of nowhere the great Orc Marshall Neega appeared, and tore through the shapeshifters with terrifying rage.
The pillaging horde of wild Men fled into the woods as they saw the Dwarves approaching and the Elf cursed the fallen knight that was leading the callous band. The valiant defenders of River Camp vanquished the remaining wolf packs and before they could catch their breath the earth shook.
Trees splintered as a horde of Trolls burst out of the forest and fought their way to Hegelinde Lady Stonemark, assaulting the ruler of the realm with terrible rage. Another wolf pack joined the fray and the defenders were further outnumbered by the continuous harrying of the wild Men.
The Trolls kept on coming and the axes of the Dwarves kept on cleaving, hacking through bone and skin that grew together again as quickly as it was torn asunder. But for the magic of Aspar, who blasted them with globes of acid, the beast would have kept regenerating.
Neega and Aspar joined up with Mirov and Ivan’s outriders and routed the remaining wolves on the west flank, while the Dwarves lined up to face the ever more desperate charges of the wild Men under the urgings of Akiros Mort. Wave after wave they came, but never in sufficient strength to break the resolve of the town’s defenders. Retreating swiftly before a counter-attack could be staged, the fast wild Men were always one step ahead of the Dwarven warriors. But suddenly more horns sounded and the sound of hooves beat across the glade.
Orodreth was unsure if he had more appreciation for the look of dread and disgust on the fallen knight’s face or for the masterful charge of the Halfing Cavalry under the leadership of Milon and Mika the Mighty. Trapped, the wild Men could no longer flee and they fell under the onslaught of Dwarven steel and Halfling fanaticism.
With midnight one hour gone, the battle wound down and only the enemy leader was left standing. He looked at the line of bloodthirsty Dwarves and the band of heroic Halflings and called for mercy. A murmur of protest rose up from the steel-clad line and the Elf strode forward, framed by the flickering light of the town’s burning.
“There can be no mercy for the Oathbreaker, not when Vengeance demands exacting. May you find honour in the next life.”
With a powerful swing the silver axe bit through Akiros Mort’s neck, the look of surprise and dread still on his face as his head was torn from his shoulders and catapulted into the river by the mighty blow.
Orodreth kneeled, planting the axehead in the ground and prayed to the Unquenchable Fire as the werewolf’s blood slowly dripped from the blade into the soil.