Assault on Elvandar

Date: 2/3/2014 at 15:10
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Assault on Elvandar

Tomas hung his shield upon the rack. As always, his armor had emerged from battle without stain or scar, but Tomas' arms and neck were caked with blood. Aglaranna stood quietly behind him, waiting for Tomas to speak. The Eledhel were a patient people, and Aglaranna knew her husband's moods.

Tomas turned to the wash basin in their room and began cleaning his arms. Aglaranna took up a cloth and began to bathe his neck, and for a time, the pair worked in silence.

Without turning to face her, Tomas' voice broke the silence. "If anything, it was larger than we've been told. It must be thirty feet tall, with a wingspan nearly twice that."

Tomas' voice conveyed cold fury as he recounted the battle. "The forest's wards had confused the beast, but it was only a matter of time before it broke free and came to the heart of Elvandar. We pressed in from all sides, we and those others who answered our call to face the demon. Many have moved on to the Blessed Isles, my Queen."

Aglaranna set aside her now-soiled cloth as Tomas turned to face her. His countenance filled her with an intoxicating blend of emotions, for here before her was a warrior nonpareil; her lover and husband; a human with the heritage of the Valheru, the ancient masters of her race. Not for the first time, Aglaranna recalled how Tomas had almost fallen victim to the powers of the Valheru, and how at the last, in no small part because of his love for her, his human nature had asserted its dominance over the savageness of the Valheru.

Since the conclusion of the Riftwar, Tomas rarely wore the white tabard and golden armor of the Valheru Ashen-Shugar. But concern had been growing in the court of the Eledhel since tales began to spread of a mighty demon lord, first reported in far off mountains, but more recently in populated lands. By all accounts, the demon was growing bolder -- and more powerful -- by the day. When it had been spotted at the borders of Elvandar's forests, Tomas had donned the white and gold and rallied the warriors of Elvandar to face the threat.

"Most troubling is that I saw its wounds closing even as they were dealt. Only be pressing the attack were we able to wear the beast down. And when it became frustrated, it simply ... flew away." At the last, Tomas' tone became tinged with disgust. "I fear there can be no victory through simple force of arms."

Aglaranna reached forward to touch Tomas' cheek. Searching his gaze, she said simply, "The dragons?"

Tomas nodded, indicating that the thought had occurred to him already. "I may need to call upon them. But I do not know that they will answer." When the Valheru had ruled Midkemia, ages past, they had ridden upon the backs of the second-mightiest creatures upon Midkemia. Tomas possessed the arts to call upon the dragonkin, but he would not seek to subjugate their kind, and most dragons regarded the half-Valheru with little fondness.

Tomas continued, "I would speak first with Pug, but I do not know where he is." Frustration played across Tomas' face. "There is more. Let us request Tathar's presence. He should hear of this."

Aglaranna nodded her acquiescence, and Tomas sent for the Spellweaver. When he arrived a few moments later, Tomas spoke without preamble. "When we fought the demon, a spell charged the air; the demon's skin was burned as if by acid, though it seemed inconvenienced but little."

Tathar appeared unsurprised by Tomas' statement. "I felt it, though it was not actively of our doing." Tathar took a moment to compose his thoughts before continuing. "Our magic pervades the forest, as you both know. I felt the demon draw upon the forest, as if he sought to feed from its very essence. Our magic would seem to be anathema to the demon, and rather than drawing strength, it was injured in the attempt."

Aglaranna frowned. "You mean to say that not only is this creature drawing energy from its surroundings, but that it is doing so through no overt action?"

Tathar nodded his agreement. "It is a drinker of life. Beyond drawing strength from its surroundings, I expect it draws strength directly from the act of killing. If I am right, it would seem there are motives for its conquest beyond simple bloodlust. And if this is so, the rumors that its strength is continuing to grow are well founded."

Aglaranna and Tomas exchanged a pensive glance. The silence stretched on for several long moments, then Tomas said with an air of finality, "We have sent messages to Stardock for Pug. We will wait for him to contact us, but if we do not hear from him soon, we must rally all those willing to face this beast and do whatever we may to ensure its destruction."

Penned by my hand on the 42nd of Wochem, in the year 56.