The Path of Kings

Death shall have no dominion

The carnage was complete. Bodies of both monsters and men lay scattered over the battlefield. Syagriuas had seen enough wars to know that this seldom meant the end. Out there dozens among hundreds were still clinging to dear life. Their bravery in battle would not go unrewarded.

The mercenary platoon kept its distance. Fifty veterans of the countless clashes that had reverberated between Mivon and Pitax over the past decade. They dealt in death, not life. While they kept the dwarf and gnome in custody, some men-at-arms noticed the occasional flash of light wherever Syagrius pauzed whilst walking through the field. The bannerman flying Sarenrae’s symbol whispered a quick prayer. Their patron did not impose his beliefs on his hirelings, but a few had found inspiration in his conduct. Already they could see former brothers in arms rising up. Yet none of them were prepared for what was about to transpire.

They had arrived too late to save Orodreth. He was one of Mivon’s finest knights and had served as first diplomat in Brevoy. Now he lay dead, slayn by the very adventurers whom he had assisted. There must have been foul play at hand. The half-elf had the guts to claim their Elven hero was still alive when they arrested them. As soon as they found out Orodreth was beyond healing, the bastard vanished magically. Swordlord Caspar Selline had sent several of his riders in pursuit but that would do him little good.

Selline had taken the dwarf and gnome into his tent for interrogation, when Syagrius joined up with his warrior retinue. He was accompanied by an equal score of wounded men. The sun was rising and started reflecting on the Aasimar’s armour. Sarenrae’s knight kneeled beside Orodreth’s body and started praying. Only the bannerman was standing close enough to hear the final line.

“…And death shall have no dominion.”

Syagrius put both hands on Orodreth’s head and the brightest light engulfed all around. When the Sun Sword rose up he was visibly shaking and his two lieutenants rushed to his side. Syagrius’s otherwise radiant silver hear had turned a shade darker. The sparkle in his golden eyes seemed absent, while his bronze-coloured skin almost seemed to pale. It was a sacrifice worth taking for the sacrifice given.

All soldiers fell to their knees and gave praise to Sarenrae for the miracle when Orodreth awoke from his mortal slumber.

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Exploring the Greenbelt
Off the Records

After the Stonemark party had defeated the Dancing Lady, they left the ancient ruins and continued their journey eastwards to Waterfort. Sir Syagrius suggested to follow a northeastern path through the woods, as the only location between Tuskwater and the Skunk River where the Expedition could pass was at the village of Tatzlford, some 30 miles away.

During their two days of travel to Tatzlford, the western winds brought the cries of wolves to the nightly campfires of the Stonemark heroes and the Mivon mercenaries. According to local rumors, it was said that the ancient ruins to the west harbored a meeting place for werewolves. The party decided not to adventure in these unknown territories yet, and instead followed the Skunk River’s bend northwards. The knight Syagrius explained that to the east there was a Grove of a Seelie dryad druid, named Tiressia, and her satyr consort, Falchos. In order not to disturb the sanctity of her Grove, the Expedition continued to follow the Skunk River.

Finally, the heroes arrived at Tatzlford, a village of primarily lumberjacks and fishermen, built around a wooden fort. Mayor Loy “Tanner” Rezbin, a retired ranger, received the Expedition with a cool welcome. His wife, Latricia Evanore, a priestess of Erastil, was more forthcoming. While the couple did not speak out against the plans of the Baroness to pacify the Greenbelt, they were concerned that the village would lose its autonomy. The sight of some four dozen heavily armed mercenary riders did not much to sooth their concerns either.

The Baroness decided to handle this issue with subtle courtesy and invited the Mayor and his wife to come to the Stonemark Carnival which would take place within the week. There they could negotiate the position of the village within the expanding Barony.

In Tatzlford the Expedition crossed the Skunk River and continued southeastwards to Waterfort. After some 40 miles and three days of travel they arrived back at the capital of the Barony.

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Mission Compromised

This is what you get when you forget the mission. I am not a team player. In fact, almost everything I’ve been up to the past months contradicts my usual modus operandi: lay low and inquire secretly. If you find your target, strike it before it realizes what’s about to transpire. Then move on without leaving a trace. Meanwhile, always keep your data up to date. Knowledge might not mean power. But knowledge will keep you live. You’ll never know what map, book or letter will point you in the right direction or vital exit. Andoletta knows that’s what kept me alive the past decade.

Most men who are trained like me have a tendency of becoming semi-deranged fanatics. Many of them don’t shy away from applying the most brutal means to extract their information. Chanting their deity’s tenets to anyone who don’t wanna hear it. That’s all dandy if your Order’s got your back. But when the day dawns they find themselves stranded outside its support… Well… Let’s just say they cast a big enough bull’s eye on themselves to feel the backlash coming soon enough.

In a different life, I was supposed to be the newest member of the Ruby Guard. It only took less than a year before I became its very last member. Surtova had the public decency to simply dismiss us. After all, without a royal dynasty there is little need for a royal guard. Yet over the years, my former brothers-in-arms who did not learn to adopt, adapt and improve were picked off one by one.
So what madness possessed me to join this gang? To do things I’d never imagined doing? Since I’ve ended up in the Stolen Lands, I’ve found myself commanding a militia to defend settlements from brigand invasion, slaying werewolves, spelunking dungeons, and hunting forest drakes. Originally it was only to avoid getting caught up in the set-up which took out Surtova. Eventually it turned out Andoletta has arranged a purpose to it all. A purpose in the guise of Quentin Rogarvia, former Wolf Lord and last of his line as it is.

If I hadn’t noticed his signet ring, we might have executed him on the spot. He disappeared two decades ago, surpassing my vanishing act. I should never have let myself getting talked into this exploring business. We should have taken him to Varn straight away and cure him from this affliction. But you see, that’s where I got compromised: “we”. I allowed myself getting fooled into this adventuring party thing. Almost believing I’d found myself a new band of brothers. Until the paladin caught us all off guard, goading us into the twilight zone between the Stone Mark and Mivon. He played it by the letter of the law: Hegelinde yields no authority in this territory. Now all that stands between Quentin’s life is his boot and blade.

And me.

Time to resolve this.

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The Swordlords Ride

Slowly walking along the front line, Swordlord Caspar Selline smiled and nodded at his soldiers, sometimes halting to talk with a particular fighter, or telling a lighthearted joke. In his heart, however, he worried about the coming battle. Mivon scouts had reported troop movements in the southern Narlmarches, heading towards the border. It appeared as if all giants, ogres, trolls, and other members of the despicable species had been united in one force. The one bit of good news was that there was no report of werewolves joining the monstrous army. For years they had been a threat, infiltrating the little villages to the north of the city of Mivon and massacring their inhabitants. Anyway, now they weren’t invited to the raiding party, and that was a good thing.

As soon as the news reached Mivon City, Mayor Raston Selline sent ravens to the Swordlord School in the whole country. Because of the decentralized character of the state – apart from Mivon City, there were only small villages, often centered around a Swordlord School – reaction to the call for aid was slow and uneven. Moreover, there was already a heavy concentration of Swordlord troops at the north-western borders because of the constant threat of an incursion from Pitax. So it fell to only a thousand or so of Swordlord troops to defend their country against the danger from the north.

After a day’s march from Mivon City, the hastily assembled Swordlord army had crossed the Little Sellen River, and now stood in the plains between the water to the south and the Narlmarches Forests to the north. If they were unable to defeat the enemy, at least they should weaken the giants’ army and block their trek into Mivon. This would buy the City time to gather a new army and hopefully some allies, to finally deal with the northern foe…

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The Sound of Inevitability

Dark clouds had been overshadowing the serenity of his mind ever since they had taken the Wolf Lord prisoner. Finding the mad prophet locked up in the werewolf’s cellar hadn’t helped much to ease his mind either, and for some reason Orodreth couldn’t help but feel pity for the wretched creature.

He was loathe to leave Milon in Waterfort, the Stonemark’s new capital, especially without being sure if the Wolfbane potion had worked, but he’d rather not have to fight both Quentin Rogarvia and Milon in the wilds when the moon turned full.
Still, he took some comfort knowing that Neega Black was watching the Halfling, he was confident she could contain Milon, even if he did turn into a werewolf.

They trekked further on, exploring the lands around the Tuskwater. Their journey seemed liked an epic tale, wandering through the southern reaches of the Stolen Lands, performing deeds of great renown and valour. Their vanquishing of the Lonely Warrior would be immortalised in the Elf’s ballad the Battle of the Barrow and their epic deeds remembered by the fires of future taverns.

A few days after rounding the Candlemere, they had stumbled upon the tracks of a small forest drake. The creature was dealt with easily enough, but the devastation in the forest not far from its lair was caused by something more massive than the draconic creature alone.
Levelled trees, splintered trunks and discarded carcasses all revealed to Aspar’s tracking skills the passage of a massive force of enormous creatures travelling west, towards Drelev lands, but coming from the south, coming from Mivon.

Orodreth was able to convince Baroness Stonemark to follow the tracks south, wanting to know where the monstrous army had come from.
However, two days into the search things went awry. The moon waxed full and Quentin Rogarvia, the werewolf formerly known as the Wolf Lord, broke his bonds and fled into the night.

The party gave chase and the Elf’s sense of foreboding grew more imminent as they drew closer to their noble quarry and closer to the borders of Mivon…

Orodreth recognised the shapes of the trees and the lay of the land from his youth spent patrolling the northern reaches of Mivon, fending off raiders from the Stolen Lands, fending off the Wolf Lord’s raiders, but his heart could not rejoice at this nightly homecoming, for he knew what was to come.

They could smell the battle field before they could see it, hundreds upon hundreds lay dead or were dying. Giants, Elves, Men, Trolls, their ghastly moaning disturbed the nocturnal quiet, the fog of war eerily clinging to the corpses.

Then the Elf saw the Werewolf, gorging itself on the fallen soldiers, and a fiery rage came upon him. Orodreth spurred on Gil-Ered and the horse flew with great speed over the battlefield, trampling the feeding werewolf. The monster roared and attacked, swift as lightning, and wounding the paladin’s steed, caused it to throw its rider to the ground.

Orodreth leapt up and vicious claw met splintered shield as the two foes locked in mortal combat. The Wolf Lord’s talons clove through steel plate and in answer Orodreth’s silver axe rent the wicked creature’s sinew. Both enraged and terrified by the Elf Lord’s wrath, the Werewolf prepared to strike a terrible blow, but Orodreth sidestepped and brought his axe down with all his might, vanquishing the raging Rogarvia.

Orodreth sighed deeply, blood gushing from his wounds, the world colourless around him. As his companions rushed to save the bleeding prince, he knew the biggest test of the night was still to come.
Putting his foot on the werewolf’s neck, he looked at his fellow warriors and spoke:
I’m afraid I can’t let you heal him. I am very sorry, but since we are no longer in the Stonemark, Quentin Rogarvia is my prisoner now, a prisoner of Mivon.

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Meanwhile, in New Stetven...
The smile of chaos

“Silence! Silence!” Desperately, Chancellor Yigor Surtova tried to calm down the meeting, which was degenerating into a shouting contest between the various representatives of the Great Houses. Magistra Nadiya suppressed a gleeful smile. After the murder on the Regent… pardon, King… the heads of the Great Houses had left New Stetven for their respective strongholds, accompanied by heavily armed escorts. The tragedy of the event – she chuckled – had been overshadowed by the atmosphere of suspicion and panic that had overtaken the Land Diet. The Dukes and Duchesses had left it to their chamberlains to solve the crisis, while they themselves retreated into the safety of their realms. The Swordlords, of course, had withdrawn completely from the Land Diet, out of protest against Elanna Varn’s incarceration, and demanded her release as the primary condition to initiate negotiations. After the Stonemark Speaker of Erastil had explained the disappearance of his Lady and her companions, the poor girl remained the only suspect.

The murder of the fresh Monarch had been quite the event… but the chamberlains only now began to realize the true extent of his untimely death. Firstly, although the Land Diet had formally recognized Noleski Surtova as King of Brevoy, no oaths had been sworn yet, and no crowning had taken place. It was a question of interpretation of Brevic tradition if these oaths and crowning were a mere formality, or a necessary ratification of the kingship. House Surtova and its loyal allies, of course, claimed that Noleski was indeed the King of Brevoy. Other Houses, such as the Lebeda’s and the Orlovsky’s (and the Rogarvia’s, obviously), were less quick to accept Noleski’s kingship, trying to assess the situation, weighing their options. Ironically, Baron Hannis Drelev, a staunch ally of House Surtova, now found himself torn between his wish to deny Lady Stonemark her title and claim over the Stolen Lands, by rejecting the Surtova kingship, and his loyalty to Noleski’s family.

Secondly, House Surtova swiftly became deeply divided as well. Natala Surtova, as the closest relative of Noleski, immediately claimed the Crown. Part of the Surtova household, however, together with some of its allied Houses, were not that fond of Noleski’s ambitious sister. Some rumors even circulated that she had conspired to kill her brother. In any case, these Noleski-loyalists were considering to resurrect the King. This also became a question of interpretation and debate among scholars of Brevic customs. Some sages declared that the kingship was only passed to the next of kin if the Monarch died of old age. If his soul was able and willing to return, he should continue the kingship. Natala could only be a Regent until that time. Others conjectured that the murder of the King proved that he was unfit and incapable to rule and that any death was a sufficient condition for the investiture of a new Monarch. Otherwise, this would mean that any old king could just return from the dead and reclaim the Crown – even Choral himself. That was just a recipe for chaos. Moreover, the priests of Erastil strongly rejected the option of resurrection, because they deemed it as going against the natural order of things.

Magistra Nadiya sighed in relief. For a moment she had doubted the outcome of the Land Diet, when those Stonemark meddlers proved quite successful in negotiating some kind of compromise. Now the compromise was buried beneath heaps of suspicion and chaos. The Houses distrusted each other more than ever. House Surtova itself was divided. Everything went according to the Plan. At last she allowed herself a brief smile.

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The Battle for River Camp

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.

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30 seconds

One moment you’re on top of the world.
(Or tournament hill for that matter)
The other moment the world comes crashing down on you.
(Bit like the lake and its approval of my swimming skills)
How did I get into this again?
(Focus!)

So you enter the tent of the newly crowned king with a band of racial misfits – hey, I’m an expert on the matter – only to discover that said king is missing a piece of his throat. And a few pints of blood too many. The only other person inside the room is a paralyzed sword lord’s niece with drawn dagger. Outside there are guards who can and will enter any moment.

Stop. Think fast.
Look around you.

There’s no blood on the lady’s dagger. It’s not us terrifying her. The tent’s eastern side is torn. (Am I the only one actually noticing the cloaked figure sprinting away? These guys are blind as bats). Fine, time for a runner. Throw in the odd spell or two and snatch the assassin. Failing that, vanish yourself and get out of town. Tough luck on the gang but… wait… how come my feet are not moving? Why is the tent spinning around? And what in Andoletta’s name is that creature?

We have 30 seconds before the guards come bursting in. Two choices.
Teleport to the south to stop some brigant leader invading lands which owe me nothing.
Stay behind on home turf labouring for the cause, trying not to get apprehended in this set-up.

Faint echoes of shouts outside are sipping in. The world will crash around us if these guys don’t make up their mind fast. Do the math. You know these odds. You’ve been there before.

Damn it.
Damn it all.
Time to go South.

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Long live the king!

Orodreth wandered the fair with a goblet of smooth spring wine in his hand, relishing the assault of sounds and colours the gathering of people caused.

He smiled politely at those who greeted him or who came to congratulate him on his victories and chatted happily with those who asked him for tidings from the lawless and fantastic regions to the South of Brevoy.

He sat down on one of the benches overlooking the lake and bit a piece from the small apple, its sourness sending a chill through his spine.

He looked at the tourney grounds and the surrounding encampment with a glad feeling, he had done well for himself and as a representative of Mivon, winning the song contest and earning great praise in the horse race and archery competition. He was pleasantly surprised by the skills of his travelling companions too. Not only had they managed to win most events they had joined in on, they had also managed to push the Stetven Compromise, be it by a narrow margin, convincing the majority of the Elector Lords to ratify the treaty. As a reward they had acquired a peerage in the newly reformed kingdom.

Orodreth knew the Stonemark would make a formidable ally against the Wolf Lord, and once that threat was removed, against Pitax.
Praise Calistria, they had already strengthened the position of the Sword Lords within Brevoy by uniting the Nomen Heights and Restov!

The Elf was drawn from his thoughts by sudden shouts coming from the royal pavilion. He saw guards running, the sun reflecting on their drawn weapons and people running in all directions. As he approached he could make out words, “murder” and “treason”, and cursed under his breath as he started running towards the crowd forming around the king’s tent.

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Of Wolf and Man
Listen to them, the children of the night, what sweet music they make...

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…

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