Really feeling miserable right now. I attempted to write last night but just could not seem to focus. I managed to muddle through 1500 words, but I feel like I chopped this chapter off at a weird place. I will continue on and finish it tonight, but for the time being here is what I have. I probably should have stopped a long time ago, but I keep introducing new forces in the world as the various groups meander their way towards their destiny.
Here is a recap of everything that has come before, once again it is raw, extremely raw… especially this mornings post.
- Shadowed Stone
- Little Giant Girl
- Birthday Wishes
- The Gifts
- The Incursion
- The Watch
- Rough Landing
- Dragon Bone
- People of the Storm
- The Lady
- Cambridge Beneath
- Prisoner of War
- Parting the Veil
- People of the Earth
- The Pack
- Brittagus Escape
- The Lightskimmer
19 – The Nightlords
As they walked nearer to the wildfae enclave a sense of dread hung in the air. In part the mood had simply not recovered from the ambush by the reavewolves two days ago. This however was not the only reason. As they moved closer and closer to what should have been a relatively large Wildfae concentration they saw none of the familiar signs. When Jace and Kale had approached Dobin’s enclave they were traced by little green lights darting around just out of sight. The fae should have made their presence know or at least felt in some way. Instead they walked through the woods in a complete and eerie silence.
Merowyn grumbled to herself “We should be seeing sprites by now, welcoming us to the conclave. I don’t like this one bit.” She glanced over at Dobin and he face was worn by worry. “This does not make sense at all.” he grumbled as he fluttered past the main group of the party to scout ahead. He had reached the outer perimeter of the conclave and still not a single wildfae made their presence known. It was not out of their nature to hide from strangers, but if that was their concern they could have cloaked the entire conclave. This was something else, something had happened here.
Dobin with two fae that had buzzed up to join him flitted about the village, zooming in and out of huts each time coming up completely empty. Where could everyone be, there were no bodies, no signs of a struggle. The village was just completely and utterly empty. The village seemed to have been deserted white a while. As dobin fluttered into another cabin he noticed that the stones in the hearth were long cold and dormant with no signs of a recent fire How did almost a hundred fae disappear. It had been not two months since he had been up to this conclave to deliver a message. At that time the place was a bustling hub of twinkles and wings.
Mero, Jace and Kale set up a camp of sorts in what had been a communal hall. They gathered some wood nearby and within a short while the hearth was blazing with new life again. The walk had been long so they would need to rest despite how downright spooky the village seemed without life in it. Dobin simply could not rest, and nor could two of his guard Scree and Nera. The two of them had family in this village and it was all he could do to keep them from rushing ahead without him.
In moments they had fluttered ahead beyond the north boundary of the conclave and on the road that lead to the Sunwall. They were zipping ahead looking for clues when Dobin signalled a halt. The fluttered over to a spot of ground and he zoomed down to examine it more closely. Something had been through here recently, a large bipedal creature with claws on its feet. It appeared to be dragging something that looked a bit like a large stick. Pointing to places in the dirt he exclaimed “See how it drags the ground every few feet, that is the gait of someone walking with a staff” Dobin said as the other two fae nodded appreciatively.
The tracks continued up the road as far as he could see, but he did not want to stray too far from camp. They would be needed if something attacked over night, so as hard as he tried he urged for Skree and Nera to follow him back to camp. Finally he appealed to their sense of duty to protect the Lady. That while they did not know what happened to the conclave, they could protect The Lady in the meantime. By the time they reached the village the other two were full of patriotic loyalty and buzzed off to stand watch on the outskirts of town.
He returned to the side of Merowyn reporting back his findings. “There are the tracks of something large moving away from this village north towards the Sunwall. We followed it a ways, and they looked to continue down the road. We doubled back to wait until morning before following them further.” The little fae addressed the lady. “We will find out what happened to them tomorrow. We will get to the bottom of this. While I chose your village, these fae are my children as well.” Merowyn said with a look of distant determination.
The group settled in for the night, and while the tiny warders heard the occasional strange noise in the night as a whole the evening went without much event. In the wee hours of the morning there was a commotion from the far side of the village, coming from the north along the path that the sprites had scouted the night before. There came a fluttering and the occasional bumping noise, and as the sprites rallied to the noise, Jace could see that it was another sprite flying towards the camp in a very erratic manner.
The light that normally shone from each sprite had gone and replaced was a light dim glow. As he flew towards the center of the camp a trio of sprite guards managed to intercept taking the beaten fae in their arms allowing him to collapse tired against them. The trio flew the newcomer to Merowyn, who took the tiny sprite into her arms. The tiny sprite sputtered and coughed and managed to squeeze a few words out. “They came, made us do things” it stopped trying to catch its breath obviously wounded somehow. A tiny rivulet of blood appeared at the corner of its mouth and ran down its cheek.
The tiny sprite seized for a moment in Merowyn’s arms and then was deathly silent. Great tears pooled up in her eyes as she blinked furiously to try and stop the torrent. With a quavering voice she decried “Whoever did this will pay. Everyone gather up camp, we follow the trail northward.” With that the camp was broken and packed back into the various bags and the group set forth retracing the steps of whatever beast had done this. The telltale dragging of the staff was relatively easy to follow in the soft loam of the trail. It was not long until they had arrived at the end of the village and continued following it up towards the Sunwall.
When they reached the Sunwall something seemed off there too. The path lead up to it and in what should have been a solid wall of fire there was a small empty space. Merowyn thought to herself… if the Sunwall had been breached there could be all manner of things that had slipped through. She herself had never actually been on the other side of the wall. It was the permanent line between summer and winter and had been that way since the war of the seasons. To cross the wall meant certain death, or that was what the elfen told their children to keep them safe.
She could tell the other sprites were restless and uncertain of the path ahead. All of them had grown up with similar tales of faceless demons on the other side. If she was to find the source of that that poor sprites pain however, she would have to summon her bravery and cross. For a moment she stood there breathing in deeply trying to forcibly calm herself, and then in the next she was moving forward towards the breach in the wall. She felt the sensation of the warmth of summer, that was suddenly replaced by the bitter biting chill of winter… and she was through standing on the other side.
As if summoned by her courageous act Dobin and his retinue joined her first, soon to be followed by Jace and Kale leading up the rear. The other side of the wall was a very different place indeed. The other side was an endless blanket of shroomspire forests with only small paths carved out here and there for people to traverse the wilderness. This side however was a barren and craggy plain with bits of ice and rock jutting up everywhere. The earth was much more firm and for a moment she had a bit of trouble picking back up the trail.
She soon found the familiar staff drag marks lightly scraping into the ground, and they continued following to the north and east. There was a slight path cutting through the terrain and she assumed that the nameless other had been following it. Everything about the surroundings set her on edge, and this was not helped by the assorted bleached bones that lay strewn about the landscape. She wondered if the summer side once looked like this too, or if this was simply the machinations of the Trogjan.
The path lead to a rocky cliff overlooking a valley. Deep within the valley she saw a small keep of sorts. Less a proper battle keep like she had heard tales of, but instead more a territorial watch post. As she watched she noticed little shapes moving around shifting in and out of focus. At first she thought it was her eyes playing a trick on her, but as she stared more intently she began to make out individual shapes and noticed the same dull purple glow emitting from each. She was pretty certain they were the sprites of the conclave. What were they doing guarding a Trogjan keep?