Kathain Stormbrow glared up at the sky from beneath his heavy eyebrows and suppressed a sigh. Druchii generals did not sigh. They sneered. They scowled. They glared daggers at things, often whilst waving actual daggers at those things. Kathain was a cold-hearted, savage killer. But this weather was just plain depressing. It had started raining as they approached the island half a day earlier, and it had not stopped since. Kathain had the sneaking suspicion that it actually never stopped raining on Albion. He shifted uncomfortably in his soggy saddle as his Cold One plodded slowly across the swampy terrain. Behind him trudged his silent, sullen, sodden army.
|The sword is an accessory. Kathain's main weapon is clubbing people to death with his eyebrows.|
The only one in the entire column who did not look miserable was the Sorceress, Moreki. Her Dark Pegasus walked nearby, its wings folded neatly at its sides. Moreki herself wore a dark robe to help ward off the weather; a stark contrast from her normal attire, which was next to nothing. Apparently even she could be convinced to rug up when the weather was sufficiently unpleasant. Besides her attire however, the Sorceress looked delighted. Ever since their arrival, her eyes had seemed to glow slightly as she attuned herself to the magical energies that were apparently swirling all over this accursed place. She paid no attention to where she rode, trusting in her steed to pick a safe path as she gazed up around her at the skies, watching the ebb and swirl of the magic that was being drawn across Albion. Kathain could see none of this, of course. He was not even really certain that Moreki could. He was pretty sure she was crazy anyway.
Distracted as she appeared to be, it was Moreki that warned of an enemy presence. She called a halt and pointed ahead, her glowing eyes staring with such certainty into the pouring rain that Kathain had no doubt she could see something there that he could not. He sidled his Cold One closer to her Dark Pegasus, which eyed the scaly beast warily. “What is it?” he asked in a low voice.
“We are being intercepted,” the Sorceress spoke without shifting her gaze from the seemingly impenetrable wall of rain in front of them. “Lizard warriors. They are clearly intent on blocking our passage.”
“Are they in a defensible position?”
She considered for a moment. “Not yet. They are still moving.”
Kathain needed no more information. Drawing his wickedly barbed blade from its scabbard, he turned and motioned for his troops to form a line of battle. He turned back to Moreki, who was still staring ahead, “Then we shall strike before they are properly prepared.”
The swift passage of the High Elf column was silent apart from the patter of heavy raindrops on steel and the whisper of silken robes. They travelled as quickly as possible as they moved to intercept their dark kin. Eldain of Chrace rode in front, with their Truthsayer guide trotting alongside. Behind them came Caelir, Archmage of Saphery, and Korhiel, who rode carrying Lord Eldain’s personal standard.
Some weeks ago the wild druid had simply appeared, suddenly and inexplicably, at the gates of the White Tower of Saphery. He was denied entry by the Swordmaster guards, however the memory of the Asur was far greater than that of man; the Truthsayer was recognized for what he was, and soon a conclave of Mages had descended to meet with him. He bore ill tidings, and spoke of the threat to Albion and the danger to the world as a whole.
The Truthsayer came seeking aid, and the Elves did not debate long before they agreed to send assistance. An expeditionary force was assembled to accompany Caelir, an Archmage who had immediately offered his services. Eldain of Chrace was tasked with commanding the expedition. He was a seasoned commander, having risen through the ranks of the citizen levy and distinguished himself on the field on many occasions. He had been in Hoeth on business, but immediately returned to Chrace with Caelir, to gather a force and set sail as quickly as possible.
Korhiel was a student of Lord Eldain, and as both surprised and proud when his mentor had declared that he would be his banner bearer. Though Korhiel knew he was a good student and a skilled fighter, he was yet entirely untried in battle. Indeed, he had never before set foot beyond the borders of Chrace, let alone Ulthuan. The urgency with which the expedition was assembled suggested that their mission was extremely important; not normally the ideal environment for blooding new warriors.
He rode now behind Lord Eldain and the Truthsayer, and found himself studying the strange human as he ran tirelessly beside the general’s steed. Korhiel had spoken little with the druid during the journey here. In fact, he had the impression that nobody had really spoken with him overmuch. The man was reserved, possibly by nature or perhaps because his limited command of Elvish (though remarkable for a human) reduced him to generally short exchanges unless an Elf saw fit to lower himself to speaking common Reikspiel. Korhiel hadn’t seen that happen yet. Apparently nobody was that desperate to have a conversation.
Actually this was being unfair, Korhiel corrected himself. The mage Caelir had certainly spent a lot of time discussing matters with the druid. In all likelihood this had taken place in the natural guttural speech of the human. He glanced across at the mage who was striding along beside him. Caelir didn’t look at him. He seemed to have a dazed expression. Korhiel realized that his lips were moving, mouthing some sort of incantation. This continued for a while before his expression suddenly sharpened and his eyes widened. He was just beginning to shout a warning when the first Witch Elves charged screaming out of the misty rain in front of them…