Akiros Mort nervously played with the pommel of his sword. They were all gathered at Highthrone, the leaders of the four werewolf tribes and the troll warlord. Standing close to him, his Master breathed calmly, studying those present.
First there was the towering troll, “general” Hargulka, as he now styled himself. The green-brown monster was fully clad in armor made from the bones of some fearsome beast. The giant leaned on his gruesome and ridiculously huge-sized morningstar, unimpressed by the werewolf packs assembled at the top of the tower of the defiled temple. Hargulka’s intelligent eyes crossed those of the fallen knight, and Akiros shivered involuntarily.
To the right of Hargulka, a red-haired woman was stroking the back of a wolf with crimson fur. This was Cybrisa Dorzhanev, the packlord – or rather lady – of the Broken Ones. She smiled at Akiros, in a hungry – but not entirely unpleasant – way. The Dorzhanev clan preferred to live close to human communities, where they could easily prey on farmers and travelers.
Next to her stood a group of five large brown dire wolves. Among them, the slender female wolf with a gray-brown fur was Kvalca Sain, mistress of the primeval Vollensag clan, and leader of all werewolves in the Greenbelt. Although over the years, the Vollensag were reduced in numbers, they remained the most ferocious and powerful clan among the Greenbelt’s werewolves.
Lastly, a werewolf in hybrid form, partly man, partly silver-furred wolf, leaned casually against one of the megaliths on the platform. Mathus Mordrinacht was the leader of the Silverhides, a group of powerful werewolves who normally preferred to lead a solitary life. Some Silverhides had even taken a habit of infiltrating and blending in human communities, secretively stalking their inhabitants. The charismatic Mordrinacht, however, had been able to unite these wolves for the time being.
Politely, Hargulka and the wolf lords waited until Kvalca Sain, howled, a sign for the meeting to commence. Reluctant to leave her wolf shape, the Vollensag leader spoke in a hoarse voice.
“At the call of our newest brothers and sisters, the Green Wolves, and the troll-general Hargulka, we have assembled at the Stairs of the Moon. We would like to ask the leader of the Green Wolves to be direct and speak his part.”
Akiros Mort’s Master stepped forward and bowed his head with respect to the gray-brown wolf.
“Mistress Sain, as you know, we Green Wolves have been hunting and expanding our territories by the grace of the Lady with the Green Hair, the Guardian of these lands. Together with our allies, the trolls of the southern Narlmarches, we are reclaiming the lands that have been taken by so-called civilization. The humanoids have driven us into hiding in the deepest of forests, compensating their lack of physical strength and will to power with their great numbers and organization. Whereas we once ruled the lands of the Greenbelt and beyond, striking fear in the hearts of those who consider themselves “civilized”, our proud and superior packs now have to stalk lone trappers and unwary travelers, as murders in the night. Our wild lands are tamed, are territories reduced. Others have suffered the same fate: the trolls of the southern Narlmarches, the Orcs of the northern Tors of Levinies, the Centaurs of the Nomen Heights, and so on.”
“But there is one power that has not abandoned us, a Guardian Spirit who once granted these lands her favor, encouraging the natural right of the strongest to rule, and the hunter to hunt. She is the Lady with the Green Hair, the Queen of the Wild, the Huntress for whom all living creatures are game. Although She has been imprisoned for centuries, She is making her way back to our world – already Her power is returning to these lands, seeping through its pores. Her dominion means the re-establishing of the natural order of things, for once and for all.”
“However, in order to prepare for Her reign, we need to prove ourselves worthy, and purify these lands from the touch of civilization. To the North, we Green Wolves, face a group of new settlers, the vanguard of Brevic civility; to the South, general Hargulka has been beleaguered by the Swordlord nation of Mivon; to the East, our Orc and Nomen brethren have been driven in the mountains and plains, respectively, because of the Brevic-Swordlord power of Varnhold; to the West, yet another Brevic agent is expanding his territory… Our existence itself is at stake because of these Brevic and Swordlord encroachments. But do not despair, my brethren! General Hargulka is organizing an army to crush our enemies once and for all! Let us join his forces and rid ourselves of this plague called civilization!”
At these words Cybrisa nodded and smiled and touched a locket hanging around her neck. Hargulka grunted and stamped his tree stump-sized foot as a sign of approval. Mathus Mordrinacht, however, barked in a mocking manner, and interrupted Akiros’ Master.
“Well, well. The fey pet opens its mouth, vomiting fancy butterflies. My brothers and sisters, before us we have a caricature of our kin, a human who became one of us through some arcane and unnatural ritual, who is only a pretender and a leader of degenerates, who plays the role of wolf-king among humans in his man-made fortress. How can we ever trust this wolfling, who continues to cultivate the vices of mankind, reproducing its weakness and softness? The Green Wolves are but troll lapdogs, who are, in turn, only eager to please their fey masters. If we ever start to cleanse this world from the hairless ones, we should start with these abominations.”
Mathus growled. The tension at the platform mounted; the night air was thick with blood thirst and murderous rage. Akiros’ hand clenched the grip of his sword. Hargulka, however, laughed slowly, his deep voice booming loudly.
“The Silverhides are quick to pick a fight, but equally eager to flee from all-out war. Whereas our Wolflord here is openly a ruler of men, the skulking Mordrinacht barely survive by anxiously stalking the weakest of prey. If they are too cowardly to fight for themselves and their brethren, they should leave now, with their tails between their legs.”
Mathus muscles twitched, and the manwolf would have jumped and bitten the throat of the troll warlord – or at least would have tried to, because it was impossible to say whether the speed and agility of the werewolf would be sufficient to overcome the troll’s superior strength and hardiness – if Kvalca Sain had not intervened by barking loudly and aggressively.
“This is a place of truce. Respect the Stairs of the Moon! Now, with regard to the topic at hand… We Vollensag do not favor this faerie Mistress. We bow only for the Moon and the great Wolf who will eat the world at the end of times. However, we agree that we should make a stand against these powers of civilization. Therefore, we will listen to General Hargulka, our troll guest, and we demand of you the same.”
Mathus bowed his head, but he clenched his claw-fist in a rejecting gesture. Hargulka shrugged his massive shoulders, and spoke:
“Clan Mordrinacht are good fighters, it would be a pity if we had to move without you. But we will, if we must. In any case, our plan is to secure our southern border by crushing Mivon’s armies. Around the same time, in the east, our Nomen Centaur brethren will launch an assault on Varnholt. Unfortunately, they won’t have the support of the Orcs, because their leader has been slain recently. In the west, we are negotiating an alliance with… other forces. However, before we move to the south, we have to make sure that the feeble group of settlers who set up camp in the northern Greenbelt don’t stab us in the back. Our Wolflord here has agreed upon a truce with the invaders, so they will be surprised by our sudden assault. In addition, his spies have confirmed that their leadership will be leaving their territory for a meeting in Brevoy. I suggest a small force of werewolves and trolls goes north, and destroys the newcomers’ settlements. This will temporarily safeguard our northern border with Brevoy, until the soft-skins organize a new expedition. In the meanwhile, we organize for a large force to invade Mivon…”
Akiros relaxed. The debate now turned to the preparation of the upcoming battle. The fallen knight was looking forward to lead his Masters’ human troops into the fray…