Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Tale of the Knights of Ebon Scar - PART TWO

The Whisperers

The Knights of Ebon Scar went forth, encircling their strange bastion and then pushing outwards, clearing the land there of life and foes. In their arms they carried weapons that spat fire and flame, mystical and frightening devices never before seen, at least outside of distant Cathay. The huge lumbering reptiles fell back from this onslaught, realising quickly that these new inhabitants of the Vale of Embers were dangerous. 

Soon a camp was erected, the settlement of Ebon Scar fortified, the knights standing guard as strange sounds issued from the Fell Bastion. And all the time the gigantic warriors moved silently, never speaking out loud though somehow still knowing the mind of their masters behind their death masks. 

Then from the dark confines of the Fell Bastion, six more knights came, though these seemed not of the same ilk as their brethren. Though muscular and lean by the standards of the men of the Empire, these six did not adorn themselves in the thick armour of the other knights. Keeping light and mobile, they crept into the undergrowth at the edge of the still smouldering scar and crept away. 

Where the other knights had kept silent, this scouting party whispered; and though the words were far too quiet to be heard by their compatriots, somehow the meaning was again transferred as they slipped through the rocky undergrowth and slowly set out to explore this new realm.

There was no human life anywhere within the valley; only the huge and terrible lizards that existed here as, up until now, the undisputed rulers of this narrow land. The scouting party widened their search, heading up to the foothills and into the mountains themselves that hemmed in the vale. Their leader whispered into the tiny bead at his mouth and within the hour, miles away in the valley floor, other scouting parties left the Fell Bastion and slipped away in other directions. Soon, to every angle of the compass, scouting parties went forth to test the lands about for peril and opportunity, stealthily moving so they disturbed nothing, only eliminating beats they came across by necessity to clear a path. 

In time they reached the peaks and looked beyond the Vale of Embers into the adjoining valleys. To the north, the first scouting party looked out across the wide lands of the Empire. With eyes that were eagle sharp and esoteric devices of scrying that they placed to their eyes, they saw the tilled fields and tumbledown civilisation of mankind. With cold stares they assessed the threat these farmers posed and whispered again into the tiny beads at their throats. 

To the west the mountains grew tall, dense and snow-capped, but the whisperers pressed on undeterred. Bloodroot Forest crept up the sheer sides of the cliffs here and in the boughs and shadowed interior of the trees, the scouting party picked out flitting movement and watching eyes with their keen senses. However when the scouts moved in to investigate further, the shadowy cloaked figures withdrew. 

The scouting party whispered again into the beads at their lips then moved on. 

To the east, the furtive scouting parties spied huge lumbering creatures, bald-headed, heavily muscled Ogres that gave them pause but did not shock them as much as it might. Clearly, the scouts had seen such creatures before, far off in the mystical realm from whence they’d come. They remained hidden, whispering news of these observations again into their magic beads. Then quietly, for now, they slipped away. 

It was to the south east that the scouting parties fell silent suddenly, perhaps for the first time showing trepidation, if not outright fear. 

For the valley they beheld was corrupted beyond anything they had hitherto seen, the land itself blackened and distorted; mutated into an otherworldly hell of blood and screams of torment. The trees and rocks and creatures had been totally consumed by the power of chaos and cavorting and screeching daemons held sway here in total domination. 

The scouts looked at one another grimly. 

Despite the peril of their arrival on this world, they had thought themselves at least free from the power of Chaos. It was a foe they had faced all too many times and one they took no relish in meeting again. Though it was an enemy they would not shirk from.

Once again the scouting party whispered into the enchanted beads at their mouths and then cocked their heads as though listening, though no one was there to speak to them. Perhaps, somehow, they listened to the spirits for guidance for surely such powerful warriors must be in league with powers beyond mortal ken. 

After a moment they glanced once more down into the tainted valleys, then training their enchanted weapons on their back-trail, they slowly withdrew.

The Men of Stone had thought at first to remain in their Vale of Embers to await the time of their departure, to have little impact on this world. But there was Chaos here, a dark root of corruption that could not be ignored and would have to be exorcised without mercy or care. 

There was nothing for it. 

The Knights of Ebon Scar were going to war!

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