We find ourselves in the Military District, a sprawling complex network of buildings, parade grounds, and warehouses where the bulk of the Empire’s soldiers are trained, and housed. As the picture paints itself, we hear a rhythmic tapping of wood on stone. We are looking over the shoulder of a soldier standing at attention in front of a plain wooden desk, in a sparse, organized office where a man is sitting leaned back in a chair with his back to the soldiers as he taps his vine cane to the rhythm of a song in his head only he can hear. As we pan forward, we see the man in the chair is wearing a bright red cape, the black of his pteruges lay on his shoulders fringed with red and white tassels, and the contoured leather chest piece is comfortable yet ready for battle. His skirt is plated, and colored similarly to his pteruges. His face is worn, and a scar runs across his throat. He has tanned skin stretched over his fairly muscled frame, salt and pepper hair and a crooked nose. Centurion Hampus is overlooking the parade ground and seems to be humming something to himself. He stands slowly, favoring his right leg, turns to look at the soldiers waiting for him.
We pan around and see the soldier standing at attention; he is sweating from the heat and humidity in the air. The heat and humidity is almost overwhelming due to the snow like ash that is falling from the sky into the parade ground beyond. He is standing at attention and attempting unsuccessfully to move slightly to guide the sweat from his eyes. This Mage is jumpy, fidgety, has a slight tremble, expecting at any moment to be killed and the full realization that he has made some very powerful enemies dawned on him a while ago. This keeps him up at night, and as a result he is very haggard and worn, his eyes are red, and there are dark circles around them.
Hampus begins slowly circling the Mage, and says hoarsely, “So… Senior Centurion Horn ordered you back to report on the demise of these… criminals…”
He attempts to respond, but it begins with a stutter, and trails off before taking a deep breath and continuing again. “They were overwhelming us for a long time until Centurion Horn, he really had a way with us men, he pulled us together at the last moment and we were able to slaughter them. Obviously it took it’s toll on us, and it is difficult to speak on this.”
The sound of his walk can be heard receding from the door, and stepping out. There is silence as the Mage looks around behind him and Hampus can be heard “I did not say at ease”, and he turns back staring out onto the Parade ground. A sudden slapping sound as if a fresh carcass striking the ground sounds from the parade ground and the mage flinches slightly but returns to attention. It seems like an eternity before the sound of boots on stone can be heard returning. And as the Centurion enters the room, he raps his cane and snaps his fingers to which you hear booted feet dragging something away from the Parade Ground.
“Let’s go through this again” The severe looking Arch Rune-priest said as he admonished the lone survivor of Horn’s Quad. His robes pressed so well they appeared like sheets of stone over his tall frame, crowned by bald pate, his face carries wise wrinkles of the pinnacles of the church. He stands in front of the soldier and stares intently into his eyes as he waits for the real story. He begins casting a spell to get the truth of the matter, to which the soldier tells the whole tale of how the Quad entered the room and engaged the Balrog with those fighting it. He re-tells how a large swirling maelstrom of magic, what he believes to be the bleak, had somehow been wielded by a certain Elf, an Elf that had half his face seared and part of his hair burned off.
“My Son, the Imperium appreciates you coming around to the honesty. Unfortunately, you broke orders, and that cannot go unpunished.” He clicks his tongue and offers “You will be re-conditioned and determined if you are still fit to serve.” As he waves his hand his body and the soldier’s body takes on a rictor, holding him in place. He then feels rough hands pick him up as he is carried from the room. Before passing through the door, he sees a man clad in black armor. He emanates hate, and the Mage almost twitches in fear as the dark figure stares down on him as he leaves the room. Malus then speaks to Hampus and the Arch Rune-Priest “What was the description of the Elf?”
And it is Vitus. Vitus, is speaking to Ural, with Rianton and Valandor. They have been speaking for some time, and mostly hushed tones there have been rising intonations and rebukes spoken only to be calmed by someone else. You are peering through a portal or opening on the upper level of the Tree of Demeter, and it looks as though snow is beginning to fall outside. The chamber you are in seems as though fresh paint has been applied, the beautiful colors of nature are on the wooden walls around you, and there is a sweet smell of flowers coupled with mint.
“So, you think Oak and Rowen are going to be OK?” asked E’mryk. Enoch responds “Well, they have a better chance here than anywhere else.” Enoch appraises his friends before continuing “One thing I do want to make sure of is that we are all on the same side with this. We choose our own destiny…” He drags the last sentence out as the importance of the words sink in. “We may be helping the Elves out, but I do not want to take orders like some sort of soldier of 1,000 Leaves. So let them present options, but not tell us what to do.” E’mryk is eyeing Enoch and responds “What if we don’t agree with the options?” Enoch says “Then we will choose our own destiny” E’mryk says “I think that as long as our roads coincide we can help them. But once the light takes us in a different direction” Enoch says “Then we go that way, yeah, I agree.” E’mryk looks at Zay who has been considerably quiet through the exchange “What do you think Zay?” She looks up as if lost in her own thoughts and gives a quiet “Uh huh” of agreement. E’mryk says “I appreciate them looking after Quinn.” And they all consider that statement as they consider their fallen companion. Enoch then continues with “I think we will end up doing what they like, but I think we should keep our options open. I mean, we do not work for them.”
At this point their conversation is interrupted as there is a rising swell between the four Elven leaders, and each of them in turn seems to be yelling at one another throwing out guttural Elven words those of you who speak Elven have never heard. E’mryk who has never heard Rianton raise his voice in anger, hears the rabble broken by a loud booming voice as Rianton shouts “ENOUGH!!” and as the words echo off the tree, it almost seemed as though the foundation of the tree shook down to the roots. “We are all Brothers, and this petty squabbling is going to rip us apart in the very moment we must be as one. Athtar’s health is unknown, and as you bicker, our people teeter on the brink of prosperity or decimation, but yet you fight with each other as if it will provide a solution. Put your petty grievances aside until we have dealt with this threat, let us put our kingdom back together. Or are your Egos worth more than the heart of 1000 Leaves?” Silence reigns as they all look to one another and back to Rianton and the weight of the words sink in. “Four brave souls, who are now three, risked their own lives to rescue the Telellas (Elven heirs to the throne) when they could have easily run and hid. These worthy individuals, these Companions of Irin’ d’orin. The Taur’Amandil (Elven Druids) are tending to the Telellas and report they are resting, but it is fitful and violent at times. They are not themselves, and they are not fit to lead.” Rianton is looking at his hands as he wrings them, and seems to be examining the wrinkles. Then he continues “Gentlemen, and Lady, we are under poldor faernaa (Elven Forced Leadership: Emergency Leadership) and we must act accordingly. This begins with the decision if we will be led by Mallen (Elven circle or council) or Nikym (Elven single leader appointed under emergency circumstances).” Rianton looks at everyone, but then back to the three Companions. “Conversations past have shown your support for 1000 Leaves, and while you have already given so much, I am hesitant to ask for more. But will you continue to help us?” As the three consider the question Enoch answers “So long as what you choose is what we believe to be right.” And E’mryk and Zay nod to Enoch.
Rianton says “Come, let us sit. For we have decisions to make and we will decide our course of action.” As they are being seated, one of the Druids comes in and privately confers with the four Elves then leaves. Rianton “We must determine who must lead” and Enoch says “Might I add something to this proceeding?”. Rianton responds with “Please.” Enoch states “If the past half hour has proven anything, it has proven that a council is probably not the best course. By selecting one it will be decisive and immediate. As time is of the essence I suggest you do not spend time over who’s ego gets to call the shots.” Rianton and the other Elves agree that a Nikym would be selected. Based on their backgrounds and animosities, Valandor, the leader of the Forest Wardens was selected to lead 1,000 Leaves until further notice. As discussed, Hallowhall is quite likely the location they are holding Athtar, but without knowing the number of forces holding it.
Several things need to be considered:
- Loy Valley is back under Soan Path control with the assistance of the Dwarves
- 250 capable Forest Wardens
- The Dwarves have forces in Northport and are posturing for war
- Tryse will be under attack at any point now, they were warned but did not believe the messenger
- 1,000 Leaves need allies with the Dwarves
- Inevitable the Dwarves will most likely attack and overtake Myclai
- Star Valley outside of Hallowhall is a concentration camp
Actions needing to be taken:
- A unit of Forest Wardens will be sent to offer assistance to the Dwarves and support the assault on Myclai, this should buy goodwill and possible alliance
- Scouts will be sent to get an estimate on how many are holding Hallowhall
- Rianton would like E’mryk to help him examine a gateway that once worked in the Tree of Pallas (the statesman’s tree) to see if the portal could be opened to reach allies