Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Blood Wood Drakes

The initial battle of the second War of Vengeance had ended badly for the Elves with Morgrim and his Dwarfs smashing through the Wood Elf cordon on Hades Ridge. The ancient dwarf was determined to drive his throng along the entire ridge and down into Bloodroot Forest. When he reached Linwe, the capital of the Wood Elves, he would smash every beam, alight every tree and slaughter every elf male, woman and child.
Maglor Telemnar, leader of the Elves, raged in his treetop Hall of Glory. His Dark Coven of witches had betrayed him, claiming the time was right for battle when it had not been, when all his manoeuvring had led to defeat and impending disaster. Telemnar had smashed every breakable item within reach and slit the stomach of his concubine in a rage. But the Coven came to him now, fearlessly, despite his wrath toward them, each of the four women smiling.
“You have trusted our judgment,” they said, all speaking in strange unsynched harmony.
“Trust that has led to disaster!” snapped Telemnar.
“Trust that has led you to this perfect moment.” They smiled their cold smiles.
“Perfect? My army was forced to withdraw!”
“And our antediluvian enemy grows overconfident. He pushes on, stretching his supply lines; takes risks. He thinks he is strong but he grows weak and we have never been stronger.”
Maglor Telemnar paused and a quiet smile began to play on his lips. “Speak more on this. Tell me of your scheme.”
“We will tell you,” they said, speaking still in their odd lilting conjoined words. “We will tell you of the Blood Wood Drakes.”
“The legend?”
“No. The reality.”

Telemnar sat. “Speak on women but don’t waste my time with myths.”
All four women remained still, their clothes moving in a shimmering mystical breeze.
“In ancient times, it is said that great dragons filled the skies across the old world, roosting in the high mountains and eating their fill of the creatures of the land. But that time passed. The dragons let go of their lives or entered long slumbers in dark caverns or darker woodland bowers.
“Of these once majestic wyrms,” they continued, “five great beasts found peace deep beneath the earth here in Bloodroot Forest, close to the point where the Blood Root itself cuts up from its most insidious depths. These dragons were perhaps once proud and honourable beasts but the taint of the Blood Root twisted their minds and their bodies to leave only hatred and rage in their ebon hearts.
“It has long been whispered that on the blackest night of the year, these drakes rise up to the surface from the deeply wooded and almost invisible chasm of Death Knell Gash; and that they take to the skies to hunt once more, devouring every inhabitant of a town or village of their choosing and leaving none to tell of it; only scorched ground and bloodstains in the earth.”
Maglor Telemnar sneered. “I have heard the stories. There is not a child within the Border Princes who has not heard them.”
“Indeed,” said the Coven. “But we have long searched for the Drakes; and we have found them. And we have communicated with them.”
“You… have?”
The pale grey eyes of the witches gazed upon him. “You thought our advice to you was a lie. You thought your defeat was a betrayal. But you were wrong. Now the Dwarfs have been lured into our territory. Now they rush forward with brash and foolish verve. Now they are most vulnerable to attack.”
They all smiled.
“And now we have the Blood Wood Drakes on our side.”
Telemnar sat forward. “You mean…”
“Yes,” replied the witches. “The Dwarfs cannot stop us now.”

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