That night Ahravan did spend the night with Wenja as Rhawan was out on guard duty and he held her tight the entire night. Two more days went by and they didn’t see any more of the monsters but they did come across a small group of nomads who had been killed by something which had drained them completely of fluids. It was a horrible sight and Ahravan knew what those demons did now, it couldn’t be anything else or could it? Then they reached a sacred grove and the meeting was to be held in a few days, shamans were gathering there now and they had to wait for a few who were late. Ahravan and Rhawan didn’t like that, but if they were to find the truth the presence of all of those blessed was needed.
It was a much needed break for everybody and Wenja was glad that they didn’t move now. She felt that the stress was hard on her husbands and since she was done with the moon days she did welcome them both back into her arms. There was something akin to desperation in their love making now, a sort of burning need to forget about the problems within the blaze of passion and she was glad she didn’t have to ride, she would have had to sit sideways.
She learned something new each day now and gladly too and they became closer for each night that went by. With her and Rhawan Ahravan could jest and laugh and be just silly and she did see beyond his title as Ath’ir now and saw him for the person he truly was.
The meeting could finally begin, the last shamans had arrived and they gathered in the grove and started a very complicated ritual which hopefully would lead them to the truth. The ritual would last for days and five of the strongest were to do the real job while the others were there to support and strengthen the five. They would have to enter the realm of the spirits to do this and it could take a lot out of them. Wenja was curious and Ahravan was trying to explain everything but he didn’t really know what it was about neither. There was constant chanting being heard for days, and drums too and the huge herd of animals had sort of surrounded the camp site. Resh’kha was in awe, she saw this as a sign of them being blessed by the Gods and Floth’bha was also a bit shaken by it all. The last night before the ritual was to end Ahravan did ride out for a while and when he did return he had a sort of packet with him, wrapped in leathers. Wenja got curious and she tried to see what it was but the packet was not very large and the shape was odd. Rhawan did look puzzled as well and Ahravan didn’t say a word about it until they had eaten that evening. Wenja felt a bit drowsy after the meal and wanted to lay down for a while but Ahravan did stop her and he did open the window of the wagon to let light inn. The packet was brought forth and he did unwrap it. It was a sort of odd contraption Wenja never had seen before, she couldn’t identify it at all. What she did see was that it was made from wood and the material was so smooth and silky as satin. She cocked her head. “It is lovely but what is it?”
Ahravan did grin. “Let me show you”
He did lift the strange thing and now she saw that it was meant to be worn, like a necklace but it was stiff and covered the shoulders like a piece of armour. But there was no protection in some thin wooden rods and it did remind her of the sort of rack some women used to hang their skirts on when they were drying after a wash. Ahravan did fasten the thing at her back and took a step back. “Right, it does fit you”
Wenja sighed and rolled her eyes. “Yes, but again, what is it?”
Rhawan did laugh. “A symbol of authority, an Ath’ir doesn’t wear a crown, he is a person who is chosen for the job. But the Eth’ir is something else, you are the leader of the women of these clans now and that is your way of showing it.”
Wenja frowned. “I am?”
Ahravan nodded “Yes, you are counted among the blessed now, and thus you may be present tomorrow when the results from the ritual are being told. You are more important than me my light for I am only an authority when it comes to troubled times. You are an authority when it comes to the things which truly matters, home and family and the well being of us all”
Wenja did blush and let her hand run over the wood. It felt almost alive and she turned her head and stared at Ahravan. “Where did you get it?”
He smiled. “The grove, I went to the sacred tree and asked for a token and this was what I got”
Wenja had to swallow, the tree had given him this? For her? That was odd. She kissed his cheek gently. “I thank you, so I better wear this if I am to push my will forth?”
Rhawan chuckled. “Well, if your will is an unpopular one at least. But I doubt that you will need it, everybody knows you now Wenja and they know that you only want whats best for everybody.”
She managed to lift the thing off without breaking it, it was as if it had been formed for her and she placed it in one of the closets gently. “I don’t really know what to say”
Ahravan smiled and kissed her hand. “You don’t need to say anything Wenja, you aren’t like my first wife who always interferred, because she believed that she knew more than everybody else. When she really didn’t.”
Wenja had to giggle and Rhawan did grasp her by her waist and lifted her up, carried her off to the bed and left her standing on it. Wenja did raise an eyebrow in slight confusion, there was no doubt about his intentions if she was to judge the look in his eyes but what was he planning? Rhawan grinned. “You are very flexible my dear, let us see what we can do”
He pulled forth a small chair and sat down on it, right in front of her. Wenja was still confused and Ahravan did grin too and pulled his boots off. He got up on the bed behind her and she turned her head in confusion.
Rhawan did open her belt and then he pulled her skirts down and Ahravan did pull the tunic off of her so she was naked and then he did get rid of his own clothes too. Rhawan too stripped swiftly and grasped her by the hips, made her stand on the edge of the bed with her legs spread. Then he did lean forth and she gasped as his tongue found its way to her most sensitive areas. It sent jolts of pleasure through her and Ahravan did place a hand on her back and pushed her forwards gently. “Lean over him, don’t worry, we won’t let you fall”
She felt her heart beating faster and faster by the second and she had to gasp as Rhawan hit that sweet spot again at a very good angle. She leaned a bit forward and Ahravan did grasp her again, in a different manner. He got down on his knees on the bed and his hands did hold her thighs apart and they did also hold her up so she laid back agains this body. Rhawan did lean forth and continued using his tongue and she screamed as Ahravan adjusted his hips and then entered her fully with one presise thrust. The pleasure exploded in her, the thrusts did push her pelvis forwards towards Rhawan and he did hold her hips too so she didn’t feel as if she could fall at all. She placed her hands on Rhawan’s shoulders and it was so good she could have died. Ahravan did fill her to the point of it almost becoming too much but not quite and Rhawan knew just what rhythm he should use and how to hold her on the very brink of ecstasy. In the end she couldn’t hold back and she came, yelling something unintelligible and probably soaking them both with her juices. Ahravan groaned and fell out of rhythm, feeling her contract around him brought him to the brink too and he came hard, gasping for air and trying not to roar.
Rhawan had been stroking himself every now and then when he had a hand free, now he did nod at Ahravan who let Wenja slide down until she laid on the bed and Rhawan did pull her bottom to the edge of it and then he got down on his knees and placed her legs around his waist before he plunged into her with a smooth movement. Wenja couldn’t help but cry out, the pleasure was so intense and Rhawan did fuck her fast and rather hard, she could take it now since she had already come once and was relaxed and he growled and moaned and kept going until she came again, squirting all over his front and screaming his name. Rhawan did thrust three more times and then he did burst too and shuddered violently until it let go off him and he let himself slide out and laid down next to Wenja on the bed. Ahravan did place himself on the other side of her and they just laid there and relaxed for a while.
Wenja turned her head and stared at Ahravan, he was breathing slowly but he wasn’t asleep and he was so relaxed, they had needed this for sure. He opened one green eye and smiled “What are you thinking about?”
Wenja giggled. “I am not so sure if I should tell you”
Ahravan did raise himself up on an elbow. “Oh? Do tell, don’t be shy?”
Wenja let a hand slide down his chest, he was so very powerful and yet so elegant and she had never known that such perfection did exist until she met him and Rhawan. “Ah, who was your first?”
Ahravan did laugh. “Why? Are you jealous?”
She shook her head. “No, just curious”
Ahravan did snicker and tickled her belly. “If I do tell promise me not to tell anybody else for it is embarrassing.”
She grinned. “I swear”
Rhawan chuckled. “Oh I have heard that story before but do go on”
Wenja had to giggle. “Now I am really curious!”
Ahravan sighed and laid down again, he did look a bit flustered. “Well, we elves do reach puberty when we are about fifty years of age, and it is traumatic. Believe me, you humans have it easy, just a few years and then it is over with. We have problems for decades before our bodies do calm down.”
Wenja had to gape. “What? Several decades? Oh Goddess!”
Ahravan did nod, there was a pained expression on his face. “Yes, it isn’t as much physical as mental you see, we do grow and develop and all that and our voices do change and also our strength and coordination but the major change is in our behaviour”
Wenja frowned. “Meaning?”
Rhawan giggled. “He means that most elves spend at least three decades hornier than a field full of bunnies. It is really horrible, the hormones are running absolutely haywire. I remember that I was ready to fuck anything with a pulse, and I mean anything, two legs, four legs, it didn’t matter”
Ahravan rolled his eyes. “You are exaggerating Rhawan, don’t let him fool you Wenja, nobody would fuck anything with four legs”
Rhawan did scoff. “Talk for yourself oh great and wise Ath’ir”
Ahravan did look a bit tired. “Look, when our bodies are physically grown the level of sexual need can be unbearable so there is a sort of tradition within the clans. Young males who are entering that stage are being taken care off by older more experienced females or males if that is their preference. I was so bad I couldn’t even think straight for more than five minutes and so I was taken to a hut where one of the volunteers was waiting for me”
Rhawan let out a high frequency giggle. “Oh just wait for it”
Wenja did almost shove him away, she was having fun and this was interesting too. “And?”
Ahravan sighed, a very deep sigh. “The female was very attractive, with an impressive set of tits, not as nice as yours I may say but to somebody at my age back then they were magnificent. She did bend down to unfasten my belt and pull my pants down and the moment I was free i…came”
Rhawan did roar with laughter. “Came? You gave her a faceful of cum, that was what you did, and passed out!”
Ahravan sighed. “Yes, you are right, I came all over her face and collapsed and when I woke up she was a bit angry and also a bit impressed.”
Wenja giggled. “Oh dear, but you did …you know?”
Ahravan laid a hand under his neck. “Ah yes, we did fuck, like wild beasts and I kept visiting her hut for at least a couple of years, sometimes as much as three times a day. I was desperate but she did teach me a lot and I am grateful”
Wenja nodded. “So much better than back where I am from. Some have no idea of what to do when they get married, I heard a tale once of an elderly man who complained to the healer that none of his five wives were fertile, he had never had any kids at all. Turned out he had taken them in the wrong place his whole life”
Rhawan laughed. “Darn, that is bad. Doing it back there has its advantages but there will be no babies from it, at all”
Wenja did blush and Ahravan did ruffle her hair. “You look uncomfortable?”
Wenja nodded. “I knew that you males do it that way, but I didn’t really think that females would allow that, at all. That old guy must have been terribly cruel the way I saw it back then, and still see it”
Ahravan chuckled and kissed her cheek. “Oh but many females like it, it can be pleasurable but of course you will need some preparation first and it has to be done very gently.”
She blushed even deeper. “I don’t think I am up for that sort of thing thank you very much, it holds no allure to me”
Rhawan grinned and gave her butt a gentle slap. “Too bad, but it is of course up to you. You decide what to allow or not, remember that”
She nodded. “Rhawan, I know Sefa said that you males feel great pleasure from it but it has to do with something you have and females don’t right?”
He nodded and turned to face her, his face was serious. “Yes, it is a gland, and for some it can be very nice to have it stimulated. For others that sort of activity never becomes anything but unpleasant. “
She felt her face burn. “But you do like it right?”
Rhawan nodded again and kissed her shoulder. “Yes, but I only allow Ahravan to take me, nobody else. He is the one I trust”
She had seen that there had been some pain when those two were together so she could understand. Ahravan did pet her on her back and yawned. “Let’s get some sleep shall we?”
He grasped the covers and pulled them over them and Wenja did sigh, no baths now, unless you wanted to bathe in some ice cold river. And she didn’t truly wish for that. So for the next days she would stink and since she wasn’t the only one it didn’t matter that much.
Wenja fell asleep right away and she slept like a log.
The next morning the skies were grey and low and the visibility low too, the fog hugged the ground and Ahravan did put his best cloak on and grunted. It was rather cold and the air was raw and felt unpleasantly heavy. The meeting was to be held in the grove and Wenja got on a good dress and warm outerwear and she rode with Ahravan. They had enjoyed a swift breakfast for they were in a hurry. The grove wasn’t as large as the one back where they came from now, it was just trees but also here they had a mother tree and outside of it a small wooden hall had been erected. Only the important people were allowed to enter now, due to the lack of space. The shamans and seers were there and so were the chiefs and leaders of the clans. Ahravan and Rhawan were of course expected to be there and so were Wenja. The room was crowded but a small space was left open in the middle and one of the shamans did ask for silence and order. She was elderly and her face covered with tattoos, she did also have hundreds of small amulets hanging from her neck and some did hang from her hair too. The dress was sewn from tiny pieces of leather in different colours, in the dead grass outside she would be very hard to spot.
Wenja didn’t know what to think of this, she felt like a stranger still and she tried to hide behind Rhawan but he did push her forth so she stood in front of him. The elderly woman did chant something and she did sprinkle some sort of white powder onto the ground, she was walking very slowly and her face was solemn. When everybody became quiet she did shake the stick she carried a few times, a dried out pumpkin was attached to the end and it still held its seeds so there was a rustling sound coming from it. “Listen my brothers and sisters, listen friends from afar, listen blood of man and elf.”
She raised her hands over her head. “The seers have seen, the words have been spoken and the truth has been unveiled. Our words are not lies and our tongues knows no deceit, as it was seen it shall be”
Everybody mumbled and nodded and the woman closed her eyes. “I have been chosen to tell you all what we have found, I am the voice this time and the voice is sacred. It is not to be questioned”
Wenja realized that nobody could doubt the things this woman said, that she was going to tell only the truth and that nothing would be hidden.
The woman stood still for a moment, her arms still raised and her eyes closed. Then she opened them and they seemed to shine with an eerie light. “The voice speaks, the voice is forever, the voice cannot be silenced so listen to its words”
She turned around her own axis a few times and pointed at the four directions. “From the north it comes, from the east it comes, from the south it comes and from the west it comes. I am the truth, I am destiny.”
She sat down with the ease of a young maid and crossed her legs, her voice was suddenly very strong. “The darkness has been awakened, wicked minds have opened the gate. Souls betrayed by their own lust for power and might, renegade wizards, lost souls”
She took a deep breath. “They came to the mountains years ago, and tried to copy the past but the magic was too strong, it killed them, And yet the damage was done, the wheels set in motion and the gates has been forced open anew”
Ahravan remembered what that human being had said before they impaled him, about the dead priests and the amulet he carried. It had to have been those wizards, medling with something they no longer had the knowledge to meddle with. The shaman did lift her head again. “They did more than just open the gate again, they did awaken something which had been asleep from the last time the gates were opened, and it seeks to redo everything which was done back then, to bring the full power of the darkness back into this world!”
There was some whispering heard, people did stare at each other with horror in their eyes. Ahravan did clear his throat and everybody did fall silent. “So, what can be done to prevent this from happening?”
The shaman did look down, her eyes dark and distant. “We have seen, but we do not truly understand what we saw. The cliff of Arothay, it is important in some manner.”
Ahravan frowned, his face was robbed of emotion or so it seemed. “The cliff of Arothay? That is a sacred site yes, but it has been abandoned for a very long time, it is…very dangerous to venture near that area”
The shaman nodded. “Yes, it was forbidden ground back then and still is, but somehow its role haven’t been completely erased from the pages of history.”
Ahravan did take a deep breath. “Somebody has to go there right?”
The shaman nodded, her eyes on the ground again. “Yes, we have seen it, but it…it will be very dangerous indeed. Something…is waiting there”
Ahravan stared at the crowd and his heart felt heavy. “We may lose many if we go, but we will lose many more if we don’t. If the enemy can be stopped it will be worth it”
The shaman did nod and she pointed at Ahravan and Rhawan. “Yes, it is your only chance, but only the one born twice can close the gate”
Ahravan groaned. “So we have heard many times and still, we haven’t got a clue about what that means”
The woman sort of smiled. “Neither do we, but we know that the meaning will reveal itself”
Ahravan saw that Wenja was a bit pale. “What about my wife? Who will look after her when we are gone?”
The shaman smiled. “She will be going with you, there isn’t even a chance of you doing this without her, if she isn’t there you will fail”
Ahravan gaped and Wenja felt a bit cold, as if somebody had opened a door and let the draft inn. “I…”
The shaman stared at her. “Wenja, you are our Eth’ir, you are the one to represent the women of the twelve clans, you have great power girl, powers you yet haven’t discovered. In you the past may come alive again, the forgotten gifts will awaken anew.”
Wenja blinked and Rhawan sort of whispered. “The cave, and the dying troll, the fire spirit”
The shaman nodded slowly, her eyes almost eerie. “Yes son of the plains, she is special, she is chosen.”
Ahravan tried to find head and tail of this whole thing. “So we go to the cliff, and then?”
The shaman shrugged. “You may find the key to shutting the gate, once and for all. But it will not be easy, I can promise you that. I see death, and horror”
Ahravan tried to smile. “We have some experience with both”
The shaman did grin, it wasn’t a pretty smile at all, more of a sneer. “You think so, you will be proven wrong o brave leader”
Rhawan took a deep breath. “Are we to leave right away? It is far, very far”
The shaman shook her head. “No, when the moon has been full and then a crescent, then you go, not before”
Ahravan did look puzzled. “Why not?”
She did tilt her head. “We don’t know, but it seems as if the danger would be much greater if you go too early.”
One of the other leaders there, a man who was leading one of the free groups of humans who hadn’t decided to join the clans stepped forth and he did look nervous but there was a proud expression upon his face and he didn’t cower at all before all the eternal. “I have seen, I have the gift carried by my kin for ages unknown. I know why they have to wait”
The shaman did frown. “Do tell Bharuu, what has your gift shown you?”
The man did step into the middle of the room, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Someone will lure the monsters away, be bait. They are gathering as we speak, the hordes are unleashed upon the plains and yet those aren’t the worst ones, they are waiting. And they have to be stopped, unless the travellers be killed before they reach the cliff”
Ahravan gasped and the entire hut was silent, so silent you could hear a pin drop. “You are sure?”
The shaman’s voice was low and trembling, she did look as if she was in a state of shock. The man nodded. “Aye, I am sure, they must be lured away, to the woods of Ghaingar”
There was a gasp heard from everybody and Wenja felt that the atmosphere within the hut suddenly had changed, now everybody were scared. “What…why are everybody scared?”
Her voice was thin and weak and she hadn’t really wanted to speak out loud.
Ahravan did answer, his voice was shaking. “That forest is cursed, a horrible place. Nobody dares to go near it”
Wenja swallowed hard and the shaman did look as if she was in pain. “When the gates were opened so long ago something escaped that dark world with the monsters but it wasn’t ruled by their masters, it was…a spirit of some sorts. And it did settle in those woods and from that day on the forest has been lethal.”
Wenja did wet her lips. “So the monsters are to be lead there? Why?”
The man who was named Bharuu did made a small gesture. “The forest will destroy them, or so I hope”
Ahravan took a deep breath. “It may be worth the try, but who would dare to go there? It is an extremely unpleasant area, whatever it was which possessed the forest, it has turned a huge part of the land into…something different”
Everybody did stare at each other and nobody did speak until a gruff voice could be heard. “I will go!”
It was Resh’kha and Floth’bha did also raise her hand. “And so will I!”
Rhawan and Ahravan did stare at each other, they did make grimaces. “That is all well and good, but why on earth would the monsters follow two female orcs? You aren’t really much of a bait the way we see it”
The shaman was silent and everybody mumbled. Ahravan was right, the monsters would go for the great groups of people, not two warriors. That was when the door opened and three dwarves did enter the hut, it was three of the masons who was responsible for the ovens used in the huts and they were if not old then at least over their first youth and very experienced. One of them wore a dark red cloak as a sign of being a chosen leader and he did bow his head. “We will follow too, and we do know how to lure the monsters away from their intended path”
Ahravan frowned. “How?”
It was a demand and the dwarf did bow his head even deeper than before. “We have something they will seek, they will be drawn to it like a dog to a bitch in heat”
Rhawan did look curious and Ahravan stared at the dwarf with narrow eyes. “Explain please?”
The dwarf nodded and lifted a small velvet sack, he did open the drawstring and took a deep breath. “I will, this is old, it is from the ages before the gate was opened for the first time and its magic is extremely strong. It will attract everything evil, believe me”
He did open the bag and a strong light could be seen, he did lift it up and it was a gem, the size of a large orange and its colour was intense and almost sky blue, it was as if you were staring straight at a star. Everybody gasped. “A heartstone?!”
Ahravan’s voice was hoarse and the dwarf nodded, there was pride in his voice. “Yes, the heart stone of the fallen city of Krimbadar. I am its guardian, and I have been waiting for its power to be unleashed once more”
Wenja whispered to Rhawan. “What is a heartstone?”
The black skinned eternal did whisper back. “They say that back in the ancient days there were dragons, huge ones. The heartstones are what is left when they die, the last drops of blood to pass through their mighty hearts, transformed by the magic they harbour”
Wenja stared at the stone, it was so breathtakingly beautiful and she couldn’t understand how it could attract the forces of evil, it was beautiful. The dwarf saw her expression of wonder and smiled. “Do not think that it is just a pretty rock lovely one, it has powers, great powers. With it you can awaken a dragon from the ground, a power mightier than anybody can imagine. A power which is neither good nor bad, just there. Anybody can claim it for their own if they have the courage”
Wenja nodded. “I thought dragons were just legends?”
The dwarf did chuckle. “These days yes, there haven’t been dragons for many ages, nobody alive today can remember the time when they did fly. The world has changed since then I think, it has become like a new world in oh so many ways”
Ahravan did raise his voice. “You have heard what has been said, are there more men willing to join in this perilous quest?”
The mercenaries Mjorr had hired had been outside of the hut but now Geir did enter the hut, his hat in his hand. “We will go, we wish to do good, just for once, and prove ourselves”
Ahravan smiled. “So it shall be. When do you leave?”
The dwarf made a gesture. “As soon as possible?”
Ahravan smiled, a somewhat sad smile. “What do you need?”
The dwarf did think for a second or two. “Fast ponnies, food and tents and weapons. We can deal with the rest”
Ahravan placed a hand over his heart. “Consider it done brave dwarf”
The shaman had been silent and she did smile, a tired smile. “Still it will be very hazardous, darkness is waiting.”
Ahravan just looked down and the shaman did clap her hands. “So you have listened, now be warned, the plains will be swarming with filth soon, everybody must do their job to prevent things from getting worse.”
There was mumbling again and people started to leave the hut, slowly and in a sort of order. Wenja did hold Ahravan’s hand, she felt confused and scared and Rhawan did stare at Ahravan with huge eyes. “Is there no way around it?”
Ahravan sighed. “No, she has to come, the seer was rather adamant when it came to that. We have to prepare well”
Rhawan did sigh and he did hang his head.
The sunlight outside was almost a shock, as if she had expected it to be dark. They hadn’t been inside for all that long and yet it did somehow feel like a whole lifetime, she didn’t let go of Ahravan’s hand and he didn’t try to make her let go. He did understand and he did wave at Rhawan and made him go give the right orders.
Wenja did see that the caravan had been surrounded by even more animals now, deer and antelope and buffalo, and even a couple of packs of wolves. They did look like grey shadows, lurking at the outskirts of the great assembly of living creatures and she made huge eyes when she also saw a huge cat out there. Ahravan did blink a few times, in sheer disbelief. “Are they coming for protection or to protect?”
The elves did look relatively calm but the humans did look nervous, that many huge predators assembled at once wasn’t normal at all. They placed Wenja in the wagon again and they did prepare the camp to be moved again, the wagons were checked and prepared and Wenja did feel a sudden urge to get moving, to get away from this place. She felt exposed somehow, almost naked. The caravan was in a way a shield, she became anonymous among the enormous mass of people and animals.
Sefa did come to her and they sat there discussing the situation as the wagon was hitched up and started to move. The mountains were still far away and Wenja wanted to know where this cliff was and how they were to get there. The dwarves were preparing too, gathering ponies and equipment and apparently a whole bunch would be going together with the two orcs and the mercenaries. It was a ragged bunch for sure but Wenja couldn’t help but feeling some admiration and also a sense of slight fear. They were heading into grave danger and yet they did act as if this was going to be a mere stroll in the park. Resh’kha did stroll around looking proud and Floth’bha was packing her horse with enough weapons to keep an army armed.
Ahravan was distributing tasks among the warriors, and now they did all witness something rather odd. The Zahar seemed to gather the predators around it, wolves, great cats and even some of the small dense but very fierce wolverines seemed to be drawn to its presence and people did stay clear of the group which seemed to grow by the hour. At first Ahravan didn’t think much of it until one of the warriors came running looking as if he had seen a ghost. When Ahravan went to investigate he did did stare with huge eyes for a while, among the huge pack of predators he did see some very large and powerfull creatures which were so rare he hadn’t seen any for centuries. They did look like wolves but were three times the size of a normal grey wolf and extremely powerful. They were capable of biting off the leg of a buffalo in one go and could run for days upon end. Also, he did spot a giant cat among the felines, an almost mythic creature he hadn’t seen even once in his long life. It was a S’haga and it was the size of a huge horse, what was really going on here?
But the animals didn’t attack the livestock and seemed to be guarding the caravan and Ahravan was of course grateful but also a bit nervous. What if the beasts decided to turn on them, and what on earth had drawn them there in the first place? The caravan was moving again, slowly. The front riders did try to make a safe path for the wagons to follow and the rhythm of travelling was yet again the normal one but now they were followed by literally thousands of wild beasts.
The wagons didn’t stop for the night now, they just drove out to the side to change horses and kept going, even in the darkness of night. Torches gave light and Wenja and Sefa were used to sleeping while moving, they didn’t bother with it at all. They had to get to the mountains as fast as possible. Ahravan came to sleep in the wagon and Sefa did leave, Wenja didn’t even wake up and slept on, she had been exhausted by all the things which had happened. Ahravan had to get up before she woke up and he did kiss her gently on the cheek before he left the wagon, he felt that they had to make sure that Wenja was happy and safe, it meant more to him than anything else in the world right now.
That day the caravan did come to a halt, the front riders didn’t find a safe path at all, they were heading into a valley and there were cliffs everywhere, they had to turn and drive back for a few hours before they could descend into the valley. A narrow river did meander along the bottom of the valley and now they did see the mountains and everybody felt relief. The caves ought to be easy to find and the atmosphere became more optimistic again. Getting the wagons down wasn’t easy, several did fall apart, a couple did topple over and one did break apart in the middle as if it had been cleaved by a huge axe. They made it to the river before sunset and now they couldn’t move on at all, they had to wait for the morning.
Wenja did sleep with both Ahravan and Rhawan that night, it was very cold and they huddled together underneath the covers and she did reap the benefits of their high body temperature . Each of them were like a stove and she was sandwiched between them and felt as if she was in a sauna. The morning came with clear blue skies and no wind strangely enough and now the drivers and everybody else started the tedious task of making a path up from the river. The valley was steep on the other side and the terrain was covered with huge flat rocks and smaller sharp ones which could ruin a wheel within the blink of an eye so they had to clear the way completely and the front riders did try to change the direction a few times to find easier paths. Ahravan and Rhawan did mount their horses and Wenja did feel bored and managed to nag enough for Ahravan to allow her to sit up with him.
They rode up from the valley and Wenja did see that the plains ahead of them was a flat stretch of land with few details visible. It was just flat dry land with some snow and dead greyish ochre grasses. But there was a row of cliffs to the south of where they were and Ahravan did turn the horse in that direction. They wouldn’t manage to get further than those cliffs that day and it could be an alright place for a night camp. Rhawan was humming to himself and they rode relatively fast. They were caught up with by a group of warriors and Wenja did recognize Yahlen, she was riding a tall mare and her face was painted, the eyes hard and distant and she didn’t even raise her hand in a greeting as she rode by. Ahravan did sigh. “She is a soulless now, we say that when somebody is too consumed by grief to think about the good things in life.”
Wenja swallowed hard. “She is tragic, she still has a daughter alive?”
Ahravan sighed. “Yes, but that matters little to her now, she wants vengeance, more than anything else”
Wenja saw that the huge stallion had broken out of the herd of horses and were running right behind them, Flint did keep up with them just fine and she did admire the powerful moves. The cliff was ochre too, sandstone with some spots which had to be some other type of rock and as they got closer they saw that the cliff was rather large and wide. The group of warriors were riding around checking the terrain and some of the animals were following them, Wenja did see a huge pack of the huge wolf like beasts and also a couple of lions. They did stop to admire the view and plan the route ahead and Wenja sat there and looked at the cliff. The stone did look naked from afar but there were areas which were relatively flat and some bushes and grasses had managed to grow there, now there wasn’t much colour to be seen though and Wenja wondered of this seemingly boring area ever did bloom.
The warriors did gather around them to receive orders and Ahravan did discuss what they had seen with everybody, it was easy to see why he was such a good leader for he did listen to everybody and didn’t try to belittle anybody, even if their suggestions were stupid. Wenja suddenly saw that the wolves did gather closer to them, the animals were raising their fur and snarling and they all stared towards the cliff and Ahravan did see it too and he did shout to the others. Something was wrong, the horses started to snort and dance and Flint did place himself in front of Wenja and Ahravan. The huge stallion was pawing the ground and whinnying and Ahravan did stare at the naked landscape ahead of them. “What is wrong boy?”
He didn’t get an answer for suddenly the sand seemed to explode as several strange bodies did burst forth from it and Wenja did scream. It was something which did look a bit like scorpions but they were enormous and the tails snake like and armed with several thin spikes. They were everywhere, as if the sand gave birth to the horrors and Ahravan did roar orders and the warriors did gather in tight circles. He grasped Wenja by her waist and lifted her over onto Rhawan’s horse. “Keep her safe!”
He did pull his long sword and Wenja saw that the scorpion beasts did run towards them, making a clattering sound. The wolves did attack, with astonishing speed and agility and she did see that they cooperated and worked as one. They would attack the head and as the beast tried to get the attackers with its pinchers two or three would attack the tail and simply tear it apart.
The riders did shout to each other and grasped their long spears and now she did see why they used such long spears, they could skewer their opponent before the enemy could reach them. Ahravan did fight like a demon, astride the huge dark stallion he could move like lightening and the power of the horse helped him skewer several of the beasts. Rhawan just sat there holding Wenja close and Flint was snorting and grunting, getting ready for a fight. The warriors had to spread out and one of the monsters did head in their direction. The grey horse did spring forth and it did jump, as if to clear a fence. It landed front hooves first on the head of the beast and Wenja heard a crushing sound, then the horse spun around and kicked out with the hind legs, practically reducing the ugly head to a pulp. There were beasts everywhere, and some riders went down, it was mayhem and Rhawan was swearing, he wanted to fight but he couldn’t, not while protecting Wenja.
Ahravan came back to them, Ayr’esh was covered with sweat and wild eyed and Ahravan did almost snarl. “Ride back to the caravan, we need reinforcements, they are too many!”
Rhawan was shaking. “I cannot leave you brother, I can’t…”
Ahravan bared his teeth. “You have to, think of Wenja, she is your responsibility now, follow Flint!”
Rhawan did hesitate, torn between his love for his si’ish and his need to protect Wenja, he was shaking all over. “I…”
Ahravan did push his horse around them, gave Rhawan’s white stallion a slap over the ass. “Go! I will be okay, ride now!”
The horse did spring forth and Flint did place itself in front of them, clearing a path. Suddenly there were wolves there too, helping keeping the beasts at bay and Wenja saw how Flint used its steel hard hooves as battle hammers, crushing the beasts. Neither of them managed to hit the massive horse, he was too fast and knew how to fight. Rhawan did only cling to the saddle and Wenja and she felt cold to the core. What if something happened to Ahravan? She couldn’t bare the thought, no, she would rather die than letting him get hurt. She didn’t know how or why but suddenly the ground came alive again but now it was not animals but ants, and termites. The sand seemed to open ut and the ants did attack the huge scorpions, climbing inn underneath their armour and the beasts went frantic and Wenja did cheer for them as they rode towards the camp. The first wagons had reached the plains and Wenja saw that the massive herd of animals did emerge from the valley like a flood of living tissue, unstoppable and powerful. She felt something in her mind, like a scream, a prayer or a desperate wish. “Keep him safe, please!”
The herd was lead by Frostfoot and the zahar made a screeching sound as it passed them by, heading towards the mele. Rhawan did hold Wenja close. “Do not worry my sweet. Ahravan will be alright, he is the best fighter there is”
Wenja wished that she could believe him, his voice did tremble and those horrible creatures were so powerful and wicked. She just closed her eyes and hoped with all her might.
Ahravan and the others did fight with a wild fury, they couldn’t allow these monsters to reach the caravan with females and children and Ahravan did push the feeling of despair aside. They were too few, the scorpions were so strong and even if you did skewer one it didn’t die unless you did hit something vital and they were so goddamn fast. He did use his spear for all it was worth and he did kill many but the horse was getting tired and they were being pushed forth against the cliff itself. He did see that the plains were alive with animals now, heading their way but they wouldn’t reach them yet and the scorpions were attacking without rest.
Yahlen fought like a demon and didn’t listen to Ahravan’s orders at all, she was going berserk and Ahravan could only hope that this wouldn’t be the end of her.
He saw that one of the riders went down, hit by the tail of a beast and he turned Ayr’esh and cut the tail of the beast with a swing of the blade. The wounded warrior did scream in agony and the scorpions seemed to ignore him completely now that the man was down. Ahravan was about to charge at a particularly large one when Ayr’esh did jolt underneath him, the horse moaned and then he fell, so fast that Ahravan barely managed to get his feet out of the stirrups before the horse hit the sand. Ahravan rolled and got back onto his feet, the dark stallion did thrash around, trying to get back up but it couldn’t and the reason was easy to see. One of the beasts had managed to snap its left hind leg clean off.
Ahravan did gasp in horror and sorrow and the stallion did roar, head thrown back and front legs fighting to bring it back up. There was just one thing to do, the brave horse couldn’t be saved, Ahravan grasped the spear and ran forth, as the horse lowered its head to try and lift itself off the sand again he did thrust the sharp blade into the neck right behind the ears and severed the spine with one precise cut. The horse collapsed, dead in an instant and Ahravan felt a sense of shock. He had loved Ayr’esh like a brother and he saw that the scorpions were getting closer again. He had to fight on foot and he sneered and gave it his all. Several had fallen now and the huge herd of animals were getting closer by the moment. He did drive the spear into the head of one of the scorpions but without the combined weight of horse and man even an elf wasn’t strong enough to get the blade deep into the body. The scorpion almost reared up and Ahravan was thrown off his feet and before he had time to get back up one of them did strike him with its tail. The sharp stinger did enter Ahravan’s thigh above the knee and the pain was unbelievable, like liquid fire and he screamed and felt nauseous right away. He tried to get back up but his legs didn’t carry him and he thought faintly that Rhawan would make a good leader, and would take care of Wenja. It was just so very tragic to die now, when he had found love.
One of the scorpions did scurry towards him, hissing in something which seemed like glee, and Ahravan grasped his spear and tried to aim it at the beast but it used its pinchers to simply snap it in half. So this was it, the end. Ahravan had never really considered death before but now that it was right there, before him in all its naked and terrifying dark glory he wasn’t ready, not at all. That was when a shadow seemed to fly over him and he gasped. It was Yahlen and her horse did fly over him and landed right in front of the beast, colliding with it. The shock made the scorpion rear back and Yahlen was in the air, her spear raised and her eyes ablaze in something which looked like sheer madness. She drove the spear into the beasts eye, deep, so deep most of the shaft did disappear and the scorpion did screech and swung its spiked tail at her. Several of the spines did hit her but she didn’t even seem to care, she just tore the spear out again with a shriek and threw herself forth again, attacking yet another scorpion. Now the ants and termites had started to reach the inner group of beasts and they stopped and tried to get rid of the biting and gnawing menace but the ants were simply too small and Ahravan did see that the huge group of animals did reach the cliff.
And he would never forget the sight, in front came a huge herd of buffalo and also some of the spear noses and the heavily built beasts were surprisingly agile. They ran along side each other, heads down and the long horns which did protrude from the front of their heads did pierce the scorpions or fling them over and the buffalo did throw them in the air and trampled them.
Ahravan did moan, his vision was getting blurred and he knew that the poison from such beast could be fatal even to an elf, he wanted to scream from the agony for it was getting worse by the moment. Around him wolves did tear the beasts into shreds, the big cats did pounce upon their heads, massive paws tearing into their eyes and blinding them, it was a bloodbath. Ahravan just wished that Wenja could see this, it was frightening and also in a way aweinspiring, mother nature showing her wrath. He was fading and didn’t want to go, he wanted to see Wenja again and hold her and tell her how much he did love her, he wanted to see their children being born and grow up. He just hoped that she would understand that he had done this to save her and the others.
His last sight was the underbelly of a wolf which took position above him to protect him from the remaining scorpions.