We never had been a close group. Just a band of mercenaries, or travelers, if we needed to stretch it, who journeyed from place to place together, seeking money and shelter, or in a few cases, adventure and danger.
First, there’s my two real allies, as we three are the only Elves, Hasdir Silverlight, and his sister Hadril Silverlight, my friends and guards, though they tend to avoid professing to be my friends. They are stoic, but fierce warriors who would lay down their lives for me, though I try to get them to stop.
Then, there are the three Humans, each of whom are rather irritating at times.
There is Aaron Strongarm, the strongest of them, and quite possibly better than me, who carries himself with dignity and a sense of calm, though he takes the role of leadership a little too often for my liking.
Then there is Ashild Auber. She a thin woman, but neither her skill nor her temper can be underestimated, as she has on multiple occasions taken on multiple larger foes and come out of it with nary a scratch.
And there is Finn Archidon. He’s a very lean and reclusive man, and on a sunny day, you’d never think he was a threat, even with the longbow across his back that’s taller than he is. However, he has an accuracy and strength with a bow that I have never seen in my years among the Elven people, or anywhere else for that matter.
And then we have our one Fae. A master of multiple types of magic, each of which has proven invaluable throughout these past few months.
However, Knyt is a very irritable Fae, and he doesn’t actually care for us. We simply find missions and he does them for the thrill. In spite of this fact, which is a feeling shared by most Fae, there is no other Fae I’d have behind me.
Though right now I’d rather have one that didn’t poke fun at Ashild just for his amusement.
“What the ‘ell’s your problem, you little bastard?” Ashild yells at him, causing me to rub my pointed ears at her excessive volume. “You want to fight or somethin’?” Knyt merely smirks at her.
“I do question being called a bastard, but coming from a woman like you, I suppose that is the limit of your vocabulary and understanding.” He retorts without moving from his relaxed position, sitting against the rock face of the cliff next to us.
“Oh, so you think you’re betta’ than me?” She yells, putting a hand on her curved sword. “Maybe I should remove a few of your fingers, see ’ow you like that, ’eh?” The Fae merely rolls his eyes and fakes a sigh.
“I suppose that a bestial woman like you would immediately go to violence with this, you know nothing else.” He comments, inspecting the nails of his right hand, his hair going a dull yellow to show some genuine amusement.
If only he could stop his hair from doing that. Then maybe Ashild would stop yelling from seeing how happy he is when she yells.
“Whot’s that supp’sed to mean?” She screeches angrily, her accent really beginning to show, shortly before Aaron puts a hand on her shoulder. Ashild glares at him over her shoulder, and he stares back without flinching.
“All he’s doing is trying to rile you up, Ashild. If you let him keep doing it, you’ll eventually start fighting, and the last time the two of you started, it ended two hours later with you unconscious and an entire patch of the Elven forest burned down.” He reminds her, before gesturing around us. “We’re in Vulcun territory right now, and unlike Elves, they can’t be reasoned with to not kill us all. I’d rather avoid becoming a pile of ash, so stand down.”
He looks at her, trying to drill the importance of what he’s saying into her. After a few more moments of glaring, she steps back. I glance at Knyt, wondering why he hasn’t spoken up yet, only to see him at the end of Hadril’s spear, with her daring him to say a word.
After Ashild stomps off, undoubtedly to practice her swordplay somewhere nearby, Aaron turns to Knyt.
“Knyt, we’ve been over this before.” Aaron begins. “I don’t mind if this is in the wilderness when we have nothing to fear, but when in enemy territory, try to keep the needling to a minimum.”
“I did.” Knyt replies, his hair turning violet in disinterest. “And now you’ve ruined any fun I could have had. Thanks so much.” Aaron opens his mouth to begin again, but I interrupt him.
“Aaron, leave the Fae alone. He’s only doing what he’s always done.” I interject, drawing the gaze of the Human. “He hasn’t angered her in over three weeks, which is more than any of us expected when you asked him to stop.” I’ll admit, I did want the Fae to stop, but I don’t like it when Aaron tries to take the role of leader.
I’m a Prince, for crying out loud, and I’ve done well there, what’s the difference with this?
Aaron looks at me, before looking around for any support. He finds none, as the accused doesn’t care, I’m the one challenging him, and my allies side with me. Maybe if Finn was awake, he’d offer some support, but he is asleep.
How did he fall asleep in the racket? I’m certain he was awake before the argument started. After receiving no help, Aaron scoffs and walks back over to his sword.
It once was an Orc’s cleaver, one razor sharp edge, a large blade, and three prongs on the otherwise flat edge, meant for really nothing except style, however Aaron keeps them in good condition. One thing I have to say about his weapons, they are always in perfect condition less than a day after a battle, even if he has to lose a night of sleep caring for them.
The blade is almost as tall as Aaron is, and looks like it’s hard to use, but he manages to make it look effortless, despite it being a good six feet long, with a foot wide blade.
I look at Hadril, and motion for her to remove the point of her spear from Knyt’s throat. She does, but levels a hefty glare at him. The Fae merely puts a cloth over his face and leans his head back, looking to fall asleep.
I stand up, before walking towards the edge of the camp, intending to walk, and gesture for Hadril and Hasdir to remain behind. I do need some time to myself to think at times.
I walk through the dead woods that surround our current residence, and look at the trees.
Most of them cut off at a burn mark, or seem to have been burned at some point. Must be the Vulcuns. They are an incredibly volatile race. I think, before something comes to mind. Why haven’t we seen any? I look around at all the dead trees. Some of these are only a little over a week old, nothing that doesn’t imply this place is out of use, so why haven’t we seen any Vulcuns?
I look around, and listen, trying to find anything. Aside from the grunts that Ashild makes while she is practicing, there is no sound. No birds or beasts, no bugs, and not the crackling of the living fire of the Vulcuns.
I begin to run as fast I can, the world beginning to blur around me as I move through the forest, heading to the east.
If what I feared has happened, then-.
I stop at the edge of the forest, on a hill overlooking a vast plain. A plain that might have been normal.
A field drenched in the blood of Demons and Angels, the two most violent and powerful races on the face of Endriel.
I pale at the sight, before running down towards the site where the battle happened. I reach the edge of the plain, and the stench hits me. It smells like a mixture of sulfur and fresh rain, a sickening mixture that make my throat clench and bile rise in my throat. I push through it and past the bodies of both the angels and demons.
I run to what appears to be the center, before looking around, using my better than average Elven sight to find where the General’s would have been.
Being at these places and seeing these things are among the worst things that I have ever had to endure, but I swore an oath to my people after I found a massacre committed by the Demons that I would do whatever possible to protect them.
And that means that occasionally I have to take a look at things that most would not. I spot where the Demon command center was, and run over to it, crossing the battlefield as quickly as I can, avoiding the blood stains that litter the ground.
I reach it after a few minutes, and walk over to the table. There are multiple Demon carcasses, some of which I recognize as incredibly powerful Demons. But I look at the table, and see a map.
I walk over to it, and my eyes widen.
What? By this map, these creatures, they are just on the border of every surviving race on the face of the planet! I think, staring at the position and numbers of the enemy forces. Assuming that the largest ones are Divisions, and the smallest ones are Battalions.. I calculate it in my head, my eyes growing larger than before. That’s at least sixty-thousand of them, and that’s assuming they are merely Divisions!
I quickly take out a notebook and copy the map, making sure to add a few notes in the margins on what it could mean, before I look around, and see a smaller Demon with a pouch on him, and rush over to him. I sift through his pouch, and find several scrolls. I open them, only to cast each back, finding them written in the Demonic language.
Aaron knows how to translate, but what if it’s some type of code… I wonder, before grabbing it anyways and slinging the bag over my shoulder, and running at top speed back to where I came.
Minutes later, I run into the camp, starting to feel a little tired, and run over to Aaron, who looks up in surprise, as do the rest of our group, before I drop the bag in his lap.
“We need those translated now, Aaron!” I say, my voice considerably louder than usual.
He looks at me for a moment before putting his axe down, and picking one of the scrolls out of the back, and opening, and gulping when he sees the writing.
“It will take some time, but where did you find them?” He asks, looking back at me. I stumble over to my possessions and sit next to them, trying to think of a way to explain it.
“A battlefield Aaron. It’s why we haven’t encountered any of the Vulcun yet. They must have left after the battle began, waiting for the creatures to leave.” I reply, trying to be vague. I hear Aaron’s intake of breath, but he is apparently smart enough to realize that the other’s should probably remain unaware, and he turns to the scrolls.
Of course, I held out hope that I was only overreacting, and that I was wrong about what might happen in the future.
I was soon to discover that hope was without merit.