Part 10: The Last Message
“Get the krakio,” Arkantos whispered to the grandmasters standing on either side of him.
The two elves sprinted past the canvas tents, around the confused Terian soldiers, to the pile of confiscated weapons.
Meanwhile, Cleaver was busy staring in shock at the valley below, as his army was slaughtered by the sudden appearance of the warg riders. The orcs were tearing through the surprised humans, and before long, they might even reach the hill.
A quiet, metallic scrapping close to the general’s ear made Cleaver whirl around. There was Arkantos, holding the elegant short sword he had just pulled from Cleaver’s scabbard.
Before Cleaver could draw his battle-axe, take out his dagger, or even scream in rage, Arkantos rammed the blade into the human’s chest. Blood sprayed onto the generals as Cleaver fell to the ground, gurgling painfully.
“Thought I’d never get to do that,” the elf remarked casually. He ripped the golden scabbard off of Cleaver’s side, and studied it for a moment.
Nodding slowly, he then turned to face the Terian halberdier who was charging towards him; with a quick motion, the human’s helmeted head went flying into the dust. Valkyrie quickly grabbed the halberd, fending off two mailed swordsmen.
With a last glance at the dying general, Arkantos ran towards the pile of confiscated weapons that his grandmasters were already passing out to the troops. After impaling her foes, Valkyrie ran after him.
* * * * * * * * *
Valkyrie had abandoned the halberd, and was now armed with an elven longsword.
She, along with Arkantos and at least thirty of their warriors, were encircling the stash of weapons the enemy had taken from them. Cleaver’s soldiers were charging towards them, and were quickly cut down.
But there were so many of them; pressed up against the palisade and separated from the others, Valkyrie was being attacked by four helmeted macemen. There was not enough room, Valkyrie soon realized, to swing her sword in the cramped position she had been forced into. A tent on one side, and a wooden lookout tower on the other gave her only about three feet of space.
One of the soldiers tried to rush her, and he ran himself onto Valkyrie’s blade. But the sword hit bone, and was firmly lodged into the sweaty body. No matter how much she pulled, the blade would not come free. Seeing their chance, the other macemen ran forward; one raised his mace to crush Valkyrie’s skull…
A crossbow bolt imbedded itself in the soldier’s eye, making him scream piteously as he collapsed in the dirt. The others, confused, hesitated long enough for Valkyrie to rip her sword from the maceman’s corpse and to slay both soldiers.
Her enemies dead, Valkyrie remembered the crossbow bolt. Turning around, she saw her savior, an armored figure standing on the palisade’s tower.
Sunleader smiled grimly, tossing the loaded crossbow down to the stunned general.
“Here. You’ll need it,” was all he said.
After catching the crossbow, Valkyrie looked up; but Sunleader was nowhere to be seen.
* * * * * * * * *
Both the battle in the camp and the battle in the valley did not last long.
Within an hour, the orcs had routed their foes, who never realized that even as they fled, they still outnumbered the warg riders two-to-one.
Once the enemy’s defeat was complete, two orc warlords rode up the hill to the fortified camp.
The warlords’ names were Thagûrz and Gromgorgan. One was a skilled leader; the other, a fearless warrior. But both felt the thrill of victory, and both dreamed of the glory that this battle would give them.
As they rode towards the camp with their honor guard of twenty brave warg riders, the orcs came across something on the battlefield.
The body of an elf, dressed in silken green robes, lay among the corpses. A body that Gromgorgan knew.
* * * * * * * * *
Daerior awoke with a start, his eyes wide.
He lay on a simple bed in a simple tent, sunlight streaming in from the partially open entrance flap.
A moment later, the elf realized that he wasn’t alone. Sitting next to him was a face Daerior could never forget; that of the mad elven general, Arkantos.
But somehow, Arkantos didn’t seem as deranged as he had once. His smile wasn’t the gleeful smile of a mad man, but the sad smile of someone who had seen too much of the world.
Arkantos picked something up from the tent’s dirt floor, and handed it to Daerior. The messenger’s eyes were wide; it was a golden scabbard, crafted to resemble oak leaves. As Daerior drew the short sword, he realized that he had missed his weapon more than he had ever imagined.
As Daerior was looking over the sword in wonder, Arkantos was speaking. “The orcs found you after the battle. It‘s lucky you had met their leaders already, or you might have ended up as dinner. As it was, they gave you to us before they returned to the south. Your wounds have healed nicely, and you should be out of bed in no time. And when you are, I have a task for you.”
Daerior’s eyes focused on the general, a feeling of dread quickly spreading over him. “Another message…?”
Arkantos grinned. “That’s right. Except this time, you won’t be the messenger. No, I want you to write a message; a message to all the people of Teria. I want you to tell them that we will not rest until our forests are safe, and until our human allies have had their homes restored to them.”
The dread was replaced by amazement. “But what will I say?”
Arkantos stood up. “I heard you‘re something of a poet, Daerior; I think I can leave that to you.” With a chuckle he walked out of the tent, the harsh light of Rollingplain glaring off his face before he disappeared among the tents.
* * * * * * * * *
Daerior thought long and hard for many sweltering hot days and freezing cold nights, eating little and sleeping less. At last he had his message.
“From the forests of the ancients to the fields of the peasants, we are the protectors of the weak and the oppressed. We come to you, tyrants who rule from your bloodstained halls, your castles built from the bones of your people; we come with sword and shield, with armies unmatched, to bring death to you, despots of mankind. To all people of peace, we are loved, but to the bringers of war… we are dreaded.”