Chapter 3: The battle at Turraz Ghal Part 3

Nhim’s eyes snapped open. She could hear the sound of sea gulls squawking and wooden boats gently knocking together atop water. She sat up and felt a jolt of pain run down her back. “No, no dear! You mustn’t move too quick” said a red haired, Elven nurse moving gracefully towards her. “It’s a miracle you are even alive! Master Rogar spent days fixing that spine of yours”. Nhim looked around. She was in a large room with multiple beds however she seemed to be the only occupant.

“My regiment” Nhim choked “Nurse, where are they? They need my help”. The Elf sat down gently on the bed beside Nhim. “I’m afraid we don’t know who survived. We barely managed to teleport you out in time. If I remember correctly, news from the front said the Eighty Seventh were overrun a fortnight after we came for you” said the red haired nurse in a sombre tone.

‘A fortnight after?’ thought Nhim. How long had she been out? The questions began to pour from Nhim’s mouth. “Nurse, how long have I been here? Who are you? What do you mean came for me? Who’s we? And forgive me but, teleported?”

“I know it’s hard to hear but you’ve been unconscious here at the Mages Guild for fourteen moon cycles”. Nhim couldn’t comprehend what the nurse was saying but continued to listen. “Answers will come in time once you have regained your strength little one. For now focus on your recovery.” said the elf as she stroked Nhims forehead delicately and sat up from the bed. She produced a red letter with a golden wax seal and placed it on the table opposite the bed.

“I have a long journey ahead to gather our future colleagues, but when you are ready read this letter. Master Rogar will be by later to check on you again. “Just before she left the room the Elf paused at the door, turned to Nhim and spoke in a voice full of empathy.

“I’m truly sorry for you loss young Nhim” she then disappeared out of the door. Nhim slumped back onto the bed and she felt another jolt of pain run down her spine as she began to make sense of what had just happened.

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Chapter 3: The battle at Turraz Ghal Part 2

An air of silence hung over the battlefield apart from the odd words of command being bellowed from officers and sergeants within the Eighty Seventh. ‘It was the calm before the storm’ thought Nhim, as she watched the creatures obscured by the billowing dusts of the Red Wastes silently advance towards the trench line. “We’re dead, we are all fucking dead” muttered a young soldier under his breath beside her. The boy was dressed in the red and white uniform of the King’s troop but it was torn and mismatched like every other soldiers here and it hung ill fitted from his malnourished body. He clasped at his rifle so tight his fingers nails were beginning to make indents into the un-oiled wood.

“Hold firm boys,” shouted a hardened gunnery Sargent as he paced the lines behind the nervous riflemen “Don’t fire until I say boys, we are only gonna have one shot at these horrors before they are upon us”. Nhim watched as he stopped beside her and plunged the lower half of his halberd into the mud so it stood upright beside him. He drew a fine pistol and barged between the nervous young soldier and Nhim, knocking her to the ground.

“Aim right between the eyes if whatever is coming our way has em!” She heard him shout. “And if not just make sure you hit the blasted thing! Today you earn the silver the king pays you boys!” continued the sergeant as he cocked the fine flintlock pistol and aimed it towards the advancing beasts.

Nhim once again peered over the parapet of the trench and could now see the advancing enemy much clearer. At first she could only make out dark shadows but as they came closer she saw deep set glowing red eyes in the skulls of the beasts along with black lizard like scales adorning their bodies. Each creature stood about 5ft tall and lumbered towards them on two legs. It was hard to make out, but every few moments she caught a glimpse of razor sharp, clawed hands, that protruded from the creatures upper body. It wasn’t until they were only thirty meters from the trench line, that Nhim noticed each beast carried a single cloaked rider. She tried to count their numbers but for the third time lost count as more creatures appeared and broke into a charge towards them.

“FIRE!” Bellowed the gunnery Sargent who stood to Nhims left. The hammers of a hundred flintlock rifles fell simultaneously and a thick cloud of gunpowder smoke filled the air. Before her vision was obscured by the smoke, Nhim watched as some of the shots found its target in the closing gap and a few of the beasts fell.

“FIX BAYONETS” shouted the gunnery sergeant beside her as he steadied his pistol. He was yet to take his shot as a pistol would be far too ineffective at this range. Nhim heard the sound of steel scraping on steel as the men of the Eighty Seventh drew their bayonets and attached them to their rifles. ‘This was going to end badly’ thought Nhim as she sunk back below the trench parapet and grabbed her bag of the few medical supplies she had remaining. The Eighty Seventh had already suffered heavy losses and she doubted they could hold the line this time, what was the point in all this endless death if the enemy just kept coming in greater numbers?

With a crack Nhim heard the gunnery sergeant fire off his pistol and she turned at the sound, just as one of the monstrous creatures jumped clean over the top of the trench line and landed with a heavy thud behind them. Once again the gunnery sergeant knocked small Nhim to the ground and grabbed towards his halberd. With the effortless grace of a well drilled veteran soldier, he spun the weapon around into two hands and drove the steel pointed end towards the beast. The lizard like creature reared exposing its soft underbelly and throwing its rider into the mud behind. It let out a terrifying roar and Nhim saw razor sharp teeth line the beast’s mouth along with a long purple tongue that dripped with green syrup-like saliva.

The gunnery sergeant remained un-phased as he drove the sharp, steel pointed halberd into the creature’s belly. The point plunged a good four inches into its chest and the creatures roar turned into a scream of pain. Nhim watched as its body crashed down on top of the gunnery sergeant snapping the halberd in two. The creatures claws grabbed out and tore deep cuts into the sergeant’s torso as it struggled to regain its footing. Suddenly Nhim heard another crack of rifle fire. The younger, nervous soldier must have frozen and not taken his shot with the others, as he had rounded and fired directly into the beast’s skull. Black scales and green blood exploded from its temple as the shot found its target. The heavy body of the creature instantly fell to the floor trapping the sergeant under its weight. As life faded from its red eyes, blood began to pour from the wound and spilt onto the sergeant’s face. He started screaming as Nhim saw the blood trickle across his eyes and begin to burn away at them with an acidic power.

Nhim stood in shock, rooted to the spot. The smell of burning flesh filled her nose. She was unable to move as she watched the horrific scene unfold before her. She had seen men die before, even listened to them beg for their mothers as they bled out, or whisper final words to loved ones to her, but never anything like this. As she watch the acidic blood burn and disfigure the sergeant’s face, she began to feel the very essence of her soul split and her mind began to unravel.

For a third time Nhim felt herself knocked to the ground. As she looked up and wiped the mud from her eyes she saw the nervous soldier barrel past her, brandishing his rifle by the barrel with the butt raised above him. He continued to charge screaming in both anger and fear towards the beast’s rider who was starting to come too. He swung the rifle down in a club-like fashion on the hooded rider. Nhim watched as he repeated the attack several more times, scarlet red blood erupting like a fountain with each swing.

The young soldier stopped as apart from a twitching foot, the rider laid still. He dropped his rifle and looked up at Nhim. A mad smile broke out across his face as tears fell from his eyes and he dropped to his knees. Nhim heard a familiar mighty roar as the leg of a second beast thudded into the mud beside her. The other leg landed heavy on her back, claws penetrating into her. She heard an officer’s horn blow in the background as her vision began to fade and sink slowly into darkness. ‘Was this death?’ She thought and began to panic. Nhim mustered all her strength, opened her eyes and clung to life. She could hear officers calling though the chaos of battle for a general retreat. Nhim felt the beast’s weight leave her body She looked up to see it walking towards the soldier on his knees. Through blurred vision Nhim saw the claws of the creature pierce the boy’s chest but he did not scream. The creature toyed with him for just a moment until the rider pulled on its reigns. With one powerful bite its jaws closed around his head and torso ripping him in two and throwing the remains beside Nhim.

Nhims breathing started to become shallow and she felt a sharp pain in her chest. She began to cough and blood spluttered from her throat. Nhim had seen this injury before; the creature must have punctured her lung as it landed. She closed her eyes and let the darkness take her. She felt a wave of relief come over her as she accepted her end and let go. Her last thought that day was of eating bucklerberry jam scones on the dock. A time before she knew what war was. She began to smile and drifted into the darkness.

Chapter 3: The battle at Turraz Ghal Part 1.

Nhim sat with her back against the wall in a hastily dug trench. Mud was clad to her boots so thick that she could no longer make out the dark blue leather beneath and water had begun to seep through the stitching making her feet icy cold. Her usual rosy completion was hidden by a layer of dried blood and ash whilst her shoulder length bright pink hair had become knotted and infested with Reamer Lice. She had been stationed on the edge of the Red Wastes for three moon cycles and she was exhausted. The smell of gunpowder hung in the air along with the now all too familiar scent of death. A constant reminder of the fate that awaited her unit, as the beaks of the buzzards pecked and tore at those who had fallen in the last few days of battle. Nhim had begun to think they were the lucky ones. No longer did they have to endure the constant sensation of being wet and cold, nor the endless reminder that death could come at any moment. ‘At least they had found some peace’ she thought as she closed her eyes and remembered the day that had brought her to this place.

Nhim had grown up on the sky islands that floated between the village of Linn and Glimmercairn, the entrance to the Dwarven realms. As a young Gnome, Nhim found she had an affiliation for healing. Her grandmother was a spiritual woman and was always telling Nhim how she was special. Before she passed she told her, “You, young girl, have the gift of healing in your hands! One day the people of Talderia will look to you to help them in their hour of need. Will you answer?” Nhim however was fascinated by nature, herbalism and the tales of the ancient druidic guardians that watched over all life in Talderia. After much study and hard work, Nhim had saved enough gold to set up a small natural remedies shop in the quiet town of Linn Skyport. Years passed as she carved out a successful, quiet life for herself and on her one hundred and forty third birthday, which was still relatively young for a Gnome, Nhim decided to do as she always did on her birthday and treat herself to a breakfast at a café she enjoyed by the docks.

It was a day just like any other. She sat at the outside table and ate scones with buckler berry jam as she watched the ships come into town. One particular ship caught Nhims attention as it dwarfed the others in size as it approached the town. It was a military transport ship which bore the markings of the Kings Eighty Seventh Medical Corp along its stern. Nhim asked the couple sat next to her if they knew the ship? They told her that it was ferrying wounded back from ‘the front’ as the soldiers called it. Nhim didn’t know what exactly ‘the front’ was at the time but watched in horror as countless numbers of soldiers, some barely old enough to be called men exited the ship. Some of them wandered without purpose and slumped themselves onto the dockside, others were carried from the ship upon stretchers.

Almost instantly Nhim dropped the buckler berry jam scone and ran forward to assist the overwhelmed nurses and doctors of the Eighty Seventh Medical Corp who were treating the wounded. They were immensely grateful for the help. Most of the soldiers had grievous injuries such as long, deep slashes across their bodies or huge chunks of flesh that had been torn away. Others seemed physically fine but, when she spoke with them they answered in quiet whispers and ineligible sentences. One doctor told her “Whilst these men seem physically fine it seems their minds have been broken somehow, I cannot imagine what sight could do such a thing but I for one never want to whiteness it”.

After assisting throughout the day and into the deep hours of the night, Nhim found herself on the deck of the ship with a group of the Kings Eighty Seventh Medical Corp Nurses. As they all drank solemnly together they told her how desperate they were for healers like her to join their cause. They begged Nhim to sail with them in the morning back to the Red Wastes and continue to assist them. She was happy that she had helped on that day. She even hoped she had saved some of the young men’s lives but Nhim was content with the small part of Talderia she had found for herself. She then remembered the words of her grandmother. Was this the ‘hour of need’ her grandmother had referred to thought Nhim? She spent the rest of the evening gazing over the bow of the ship and continued to think on that question until the sun began to crest on the seas horizon. By the morning Nhim knew she couldn’t abandon the Eighty Seventh or the soldiers on ‘the front’. She had to sail with them.

It was now three years later and Nhim was a full member within the Kings Eighty Seventh Regiment. The unit had been posted in Turraz Ghal, the ruined city which separated the Red Wastes from the Elven kingdoms. It was their job to guard the ruins and ensure nothing made it through to the forests beyond, but they were now desperately low on fighting men and supplies. All expeditions into the Red Wastes had ceased due to this, however the great expanse was far from deserted. From the depths of the ashen landscape came abyssal horrors, each one more horrid than the last. When Nhim had first arrived she did not believe the stories of the un-dead and multi-limbed creatures that she was told by the soldiers, but that all changed within the first week on ‘the front’. She now knew why the men on the dock acted the way they did that day. Seeing fellow comrades ripped apart like paper only to be reanimated and march against you can twist the mind. This is why Nhim tried not to get too close to any of her comrades. Not only did she feel a massive guilt when they were beyond her healing powers, she had seen her close friends die and had become cold towards death. She was reaching her breaking point.

Nhim was so lost in her thoughts of home that she barely noticed the guard horn sound and opened her tired eyes. All around her soldiers ferrying supplies and crouched in the trench line readying muskets. She pushed her fatigued body to its feet and climbed the first two steps of the trench ladder to peer over the top. With squinted eyes she tried to see what horror was making its way towards them. It was hard to make anything out through the smoke and dust that drifted silently across the Red Waste. Then, all of a sudden, she saw a shadow about two hundred meters from the trench. A creature no larger than a horse but with a silhouette that seemed to shift as eerily as the ash clouds that surrounded it. She then noticed a second creature appear beside it, and then came a third, then more. Each creature stopped next to the other and stood silently. ‘Could this be the day?’ thought Nhim. ‘Could this be the day I die?’

As if all at once, the creatures that stood before them began to silently advance towards Nhim and the waiting soldiers of the Kings Eighty Seventh Regiment.

Chapter 2: The Evening Watch and Quiffel Soup Part 1.

Zee perched on the edge of the rock face. He could hear the distant sound of the people of Yeigroth City going about their afternoon business. He had been tasked with watching the Follg pass, a large, naturally occurring staircase which led for miles to the surface world. It was first found by Glendora the betrayer, a cruel necromancer of legend who used it to sneak to the surface and strike a bargain with some daemon lord who nearly eradicated the race of man. Or so the story went, as Zee had been told it. Ever since that day the city elders feared mighty armies of men would march on their precious underground haven in search of revenge. ‘Why would they?’ thought Zee. Surface dwellers did not dare venture this far down for fear of getting captured and fed to giant Tunnel Naga or being cooked alive by some savage Dark Elf. Zee laughed quietly to himself at the thought. He was quite happy for them to have these ridiculous impressions of his race as he liked that men left his people alone. Besides, he had no intention of leaving the city Yeigroth. He had unfinished business and a mystery to solve.

For the watch Zee had brought his light-weight, custom carved crossbow and wore dark brown leather body armour under a long grey cloak. His naturally obsidian skin was the perfect camouflage in the murky caverns of the Under-dark however, his ash white hair had to be tied back as to stop it standing out like a beacon in the shadows. This particular duty was not a favourite of Zees, he was only here as a punishment because of his sister Lilly. The head of the Yeigroth Garrison, Captain Edyrm, had found stolen rations in her bunk and Zee had taken the punishment in his sister’s place. However improbable, today could be the day the armies of man come and he felt a duty to put her in as little danger as possible.

Lilly was the younger of the two siblings by 3 years. She always had sweet intentions but often got the two of them into trouble and this time she had been caught stealing Quiffel mushrooms. ‘Probably to make stew’ thought Zee. It was a simple dish but he knew it reminded her, just like him, of home and the last meal he, Lilly and their parents had together. That was the last happy memory Zee had. The next day their parents departed on a simple trade job but disappeared without a trace and both their lives were thrown into dismay ever since. After a sloppy, half-hearted investigation was conducted by the tunnel road company which turned up nothing, they were sent to live with their aunt in Niffren. Now, ten years later, they had returned to Yeigroth and enrolled into the Garrison Guard. Zee hoped to secretly investigate their parents’ disappearance and find answers but thought Lilly was too kind hearted and immature. Because of that he had been hard on her these past few years but Zee considered it their family duty to solve the mystery and find their parents.

“Zee” a familiar voice whispered. It was Lilly. Zee was known for having the best sense of smell and hearing in all of Yeigroth Garrison. He claimed he could tell you how many legs a Dwindler Spider had from placing his ear to the ground and focusing on its movement from more than a mile away however, his sister was equally as talented in the art of stealth. She had once snuck past several guards, stolen Edyrms personal duty ledger and replaced it with a fake just to get them out of morning shifts. Together Lilly and Zee made the perfect team but he did despise her ability to sneak up on him.

“Old Edyrm didn’t manage to find them all” Said Lilly as she produced a small metallic pot and wooden spoon from her cloak. “Happy birthday brother” she said with a smirk on her face. He looked down as she twisted the lid open to reveal a still steaming Quiffel Stew. ‘His Birthday?’ he thought, ‘She got him in trouble over his birthday?’ A look of anger flashed over Zee’s face for a moment until the smell hit his nostrils and filled his mind with memoires of him and Lilly and their parents. He then remembered how sweet his sister was and how she was only trying to do something special for him, ‘perhaps he had been too hard on her’ Zee thought. He looked up and smiled at his sister, “We will find them sister, I promise you”.

The two sat together, shared the Quiffel stew and reminisced about happier times. Zee couldn’t remember the last time he and his sister spent time like this together and when the next guard came to take over Zee sent him away in order to spend more time with his sister. Hours passed and Lilly, after much conversation, had fallen asleep on the grey cloak Zee had placed down for them to sit on.

Slowly the distant noise of Yeigroth City faded signifying the end of the working day. Zee was just about to wake his sister up when he noticed shadows moving in the distance by the entrance to Follg pass. He quietly and carefully reached for his crossbow and crept towards the crest of the shadowy rock they were hidden behind. He let his eyes adjust for a moment to the dark and peered out looking for any sign of movement. ‘It couldn’t be Dwindler spiders again? It wasn’t the season for them’ Zee thought. Suddenly he saw the shadow move again. Zee concentrated for any sound he could make out. “I’m telling you now missy, this isn’t the way! You’ve had me trudging through these dam mouldy caves for days. Contrary to my looks I much prefer the skies you know!” said a gritty male voice. Into view came the silhouettes of two figures that stopped at the cave entrance. One tall, one very short. “Well if you hadn’t been so insistent on taking the tunnels then we would have arrived here with plenty of sand left in the hourglass. I don’t think I need to explain that we don’t have much of that sand to spare so next time just let me teleport us” Said the second voice. It was female but Zee couldn’t tell which voice belonged to which figure. “No magic! You know I don’t trust the stuff” Said the male voice again as the short figure pointed toward the tall one with what looked like an axe. Zee didn’t know who these people where but he had orders to stop any non-Dark Elf coming from Follg Pass and that short figure was definitely not a Dark Elf. Zee levelled his crossbow at the figure and placed his thumb on the leaver trigger. He took a deep breath in then exhaled slowly. Without a second thought he let the bolt loose towards the unsuspecting target.

Chapter 1: The Tale of Flint Morgan and The Red Letter

Captain Flint Morgan stood with his hand on the Midnight Cannon as he peered out of the stained green glass window to his left. His eyes were tired as he had been up since dawn and now, many hours on with the moon hanging heavy in the night sky, he focused on the bright blue tail of a comet through the glass. The more superstitious folk of West Cross Port called the comet Draco’s Light believing it was Tah-huraz, the female dragon god of destruction, returning to the lands of Talderia to take vengeance on those who had given up on the power of magic in favour of machines and industry. Flint Morgan did not believe this. He knew full well, as all Dwarfs did, that his ancestors had slain the last dragon thousands of years ago in the closing days of the Dark War. The truth was Flint found it hard to believe in anything these days as much like the stories of that war, his life had become dark and full of unlucky turns.

He was only middle aged for a dwarf but he had seen much of Talderia whilst captaining his sky-ship ‘The Cardinal’. He and his crew had started off as honest traders but times grew hard and slowly over the years they went from hauling goods to stealing them. Flint closed his tired eyes and imagined himself standing at the wheel of ‘The Cardinal’. The wind blew though his thick ginger beard and over his face, several pistols where holstered across his chest and at his hip hung a great, jewel encrusted, cutlass that had been forged in the caverns of Glimmer-cairn and handed to him by none other than the Iron Dwarf himself. His crew where readying the cannons as his brother and first mate Silver-Shaft Morgan, barked orders at them. They were about to take a small trading vessel Flint had spied a few hours back. Flint reckoned it would be a good haul.

“OI DWARF!” barked a voice, “DON’T IGNORE ME!” Flint’s eyes snapped back open. He was no longer stood on board his sky-ship nor did he have his jewel encrusted cutlass. That was now just a memory from a better time long ago. He was back stood on top of a stool behind the bar of the Rabbits Foot Inn looking out of the stained green glass window. “You’re about to spill good fucking ale you idiot! I won’t be paying extra if you do, you know that right?” said the voice. Flint looked down and took his hand off the tap of the cask of Midnight Cannon Ale just in time to stop it over-flowing from the tankard. As he placed the tankard on the bar he looked up to see the man who had shouted at him. It was Harkens, one of the local blacksmiths and a regular who had been trying to pick a fight with him for the past few weeks on a count of him being the only dwarf in West Port, but Flint wanted none of it. Since the theft of his sky-ship along with the rest of his wealth Flint had been unable to get work on any other vessels as most knew him as a pirate. He was about to give up and head back to the Dwarven capital when a woman by the name Lizzie Sheers figured him to be a strong enough looking Dwarf and offered him a job at her Inn as long as he caused her no trouble and could change the barrels by himself. The last thing he wanted were the local lawmen poking around because he had killed some nobody in a bar fight. He also remembered his promise to Lizzie that he would make no trouble and he wasn’t about to break that promise. Lizzie was a kind woman who had helped him out when nobody else would, she always laughed and said “Maybe the Rabbits Foot Inn is the just the kind of place you need Flint, they are supposed to be lucky after all!” Besides, the lawmen might recognise him for who he really was and the crime for piracy in Talderia was the hangman’s rope. As he placed the tankard on the bar Flint and Harkens locked eyes in a deathly stare for a few moments, before Harkens slammed down two copper pieces on the bar top, “I told Lizzie she should never have given one of your kind a job here”, with that he spat on the floor, grabbed his drink and stormed back to his table on-which sat the other local blacksmiths.

“Ignore him old friend. A man like that wouldn’t last a day in the sky, not worth your trouble” said a handsome man sat sipping a fine Veraxian whiskey and smoking a short, curved pipe that had been carved from the tusk of some unknown, exotic creature. The man took a long pull of the pipe and exhaled a thick cloud of smoke that left a faint, familiar smell of Apple-wood tobacco hanging in the air. It was Flint’s long time and probably only remaining friend Sebastian Grim. Sebastian was a clean shaven classically handsome man who always had a distant look of mystery and ambition in his eyes. He stood half a foot taller than most men and wore a long, dark green leather duster in which flint knew he concealed many weapons but the greatest one wasn’t in that duster, Sebastian’s greatest weapon was his charm. Not many people knew Flint’s true identity but he trusted Sebastian with his life and trusted him to keep the secret. “Erghhh I know,” sighed Flint “I just wish it was like the old days Seb. Just us in the skies taking what we wanted and making bastards like that take a long walk off a short plank!” Sebastian laughed and relit his pipe, He took another long drag and exhaled again leaving a plume of apple wood scented tobacco in the air. “Well, I may have some good news on that front Flint. I was speaking with the port authorities in Eosveir before I left and they told me that a ship fitting ‘The Cardinals’ description left Linn Sky-port only 2 moons ago heading towards Arkall, it might be our ship Flint?” Flint’s fist clenched tight as he slammed it onto the bar top, “That fucker!” he shouted. “Silver-shafts planning on running spice to those bastards! Not only has he stolen my ship but now my plans to take over the eastern trade routes too! I’ll kill him Seb, I’ll fucking have my brother’s life for this!”. A silence fell between the two friends as they both pondered the next step to getting ‘The Cardinal’ back from Flint’s brother. Sebastian looked for a moment like he was going to say something to try and calm Flint but instead, took another long draw on his pipe and a sip of smooth Veraxian whiskey.

The rest of the night passed quietly, the locals finished drinks one by one and slowly began to leave the Rabbits Foot Inn. Flint was underneath the bar reconnecting some hoses to the taps that had come loose but he could still hear Lizzie and Sebastian talking. She was sweeping the floors and he was helping her put the stalls on the tables. Sebastian didn’t work for the Inn but Flint knew just what his type of woman was and Lizzie was definitely it. Easy on the eye and harder to win over than convincing a cleric of healing that the rash you have absolutely no idea how you could have gotten, is definitely not from the local brothel they just saw you step out from that very morning.  Flint believed though that if any man could win the heart of Lizzie Sheers, it would be Sebastian Grim. Suddenly Flint heard the door to the entrance of the Rabbits Foot Inn creaked open, “Sorry, We’re closing love and the Inns full for the evening” said Lizzie. “Ouh” spoke a soft feminine voice, “I’m not here to drink or acquire a room, I was told by a rather rude and opinionated gentleman that this is the only Inn in West Port that has a dwarf as a barkeep. You do have a dwarf working here don’t you?” Flint instinctively reached to his chest for a pistol as he sensed danger then realised he didn’t have them as Lizzie didn’t let weapons in the bar. Foolish woman, he thought. “Who’s asking?” said Sebastian in a stern yet diplomatic voice, “Well I can quite clearly see you are not a dwarf so I’m afraid I’m not at able to reveal that information however, I can assure you the matter is of great importance for the survival of Talderia” spoke the soft voice.

Elvish thought Flint? The accent had a slight air of Elvish to it but not like he had ever heard before. Flint hated most elves as all Dwarfs did for their cowardice during the Dark War, he wasn’t about to hide from a bastard elf. He slid out from beneath the bar and strode with conviction across the room stopping next to Sebastian and Lizzie. Before the three of them stood a hooded figure in what was once probably a rather elegant sapphire blue robe however now it looked incredibly worn and well-travelled. The white velvet gloves the figure wore had obvious wear marks from the reigns of a horse and her riding boots where laden thick with mud. Looking up Flint spoke confidently, “Aye, I’m that Dwarf you’ve heard so much about, who might you be missy?” The blue robed figure bent down to one knee so she was eye level with flint, her white velvet covered hands pulled back the hood of the robe to reveal the most beautiful face Flint had ever seen. The woman knelt in front of him had all the beauty and elegance of an Elf however, her ears where not as pointed as the ones he had seen before, nor did she have the same arrogance he had seen in eyes of other Elves. Instead they were like two beautiful green pools that seemed to look directly into his soul and make him feel at ease. All of this was framed with a head of long scarlet red hair that autumn leaves braided into it. “My name, Master Dwarf, is Vexahnas Eldrin and I am here to deliver this letter directly from Filbert Talisman the Head of the Old Talderian Mages Guild”. Flint, so distracted by her beauty, didn’t even notice Vexahnas reach into her robe and pull out a red envelope, taking it he looked down at the wax seal which was indeed from the Old Talderian Mages Guild. He broke it open, pulled out the letter inside and began to read it in his head. After just a minute he had read it through twice and could not believe what it contained, he looked back up at Vexahnas and in shock voice asked “Is this true?”, “I don’t know… but if it is, I need your help to gather the others”.