“So how did you find me hiding out with the Imps? I mean I was extremely careful not to leave any kind of trail”
“Well when we found your village had been raided by the Morgantian army, Elera assumed that you had escaped but we had no means of finding you until we obtained this,” answered Haylie as she pulled the sword from the scabbard Ringmore had made her, “the Ventura sword showed me a vision and Elera lead us to you and the Imps' Tribe.” As Haylie talked about her time in Lardinia, Killga also began to regale Haylie with stories from her past, adventures she had had and her great friendship with Elera; furthermore, tales of Merdock and his imposing rule over the land and the terrifying things he had done to people who lived in the villages he had destroyed.
“Every day he grows stronger I and small groups of rebels have attempted to resist his power for years with little result, we have to stop him at all costs before he consumes the whole of our world, but without a leader the rebels will remain powerless.” she informed Haylie.
"That's the thing, I don't think I'm going to be what they expect from a great leader, what if I let you all down?" She fretted over the enormous weight that had been planted firmly on her shoulders.
"All you can do is be ready, and be brave, the rest will come." Killga's encouraging advice was a welcoming tonic to Haylie's worries and her answer calmed her nerves for now at least. As they moved closer to the Silverline forest all conversation seemed to cease and a deadly spine chilling silence lay over the crowd of travellers; the closer to the forest they got the more deadly and forbidding the silence grew.
Before they could set a single foot within the forest itself, a hoard of Merdock’s soldiers suddenly sprang from the silver trees in front of them. The small army charged towards them but were suddenly repelled by a luminous lavender force-field Elera had created. This moment allowed the others a little time to prepare themselves, and being Haylie's first fight she did not want to muck it up in front of Ringmore after he had taught her so much, this was her moment to impress him with what she had learned. There was a split second before they plunged into battle, the faces of the Morgantian soldiers scowled and grimaced at their enemy, Haylie just stared back, slightly disgusted, suddenly the ring and clash of swords filled the air with a deafening din. Haylie glanced around, bewildered she watched as Elera demolished a small group of the monsters into oblivion, heaving two large boulders into the air and, waving her arms around in smooth liquid motions, then bringing them crashing down upon the foul odorous monsters. All of a sudden, in the corner of her eye Haylie spied the flash of a blade rising towards her, and like a spider to a fly she swung around meeting the blade with her own and with one smooth slash the monstrous soldier fell to the floor, dead. Ringmore had just dealt with a further three of them and shifted his head round, his eye caught Haylie standing over the body. Suddenly he realised one of them was running up behind her, he pelted forward running at the monster with all he had slicing it in half.
“Need me to watch your back?” He asked Haylie, glancing down at the soldier she had killed, “what happened to him?” He asked impressed and proud of his student.
“I happened” Haylie replied, a jovial smile spread across her pale face.
“Well then let’s see what all that practice has done for you shall we?”
“Lets” she replied sarcastically. Another soldier charged at Haylie and she swung the sword round her head, as Ringmore had shown her and executed the move and monster perfectly. The Imps were nowhere to be seen, presumably hiding somewhere away from the battle, and rightly so, a battle field is no place for a helpless Imp; Killga on the other hand had drawn out a sword and was bashing away at the soldiers in front of her like there was no tomorrow, delivering devastating blow after blow. Finally, as the last soldier fell upon the lush green ground the silence resumed for a moment as they stared around at their enemy lying broken around them, until eventually the silence too was shattered by Elera and Ringmore's remarks to Haylie.
“Hay you were amazing, I couldn’t master a swing like for years.” Elera declared beaming as she cleaned her blade with a cloth.
“Really? I was so scared to begin, but ultimately it felt like the skill came from the sword, like it had its own heart and soul.” She explained.
“But we saw you, I watched you kill that soldier” Ringmore remarked “You and that sword are a force to be reckoned with” Meanwhile Ebah had emerged from his hiding place, wherever it had been, and was straightening himself out, brushing down his animal furs as if nothing had happened; Killga was also picking herself up and sorting out her dress which now had dirt and a few blood stains smeared around the hem, she looked like one of those precious china dolls, fresh out of the box, minus the blood stains. Roughly ten hours had passed since the small battle between the rebel travellers and Merdock’s soldiers, before Merdock himself was informed of the defeat.
“HOW” he roared, swinging wildly with a clenched fist he managed to knock over a rather skilfully crafted vase, sending it crashing to the floor with an almighty smash, “how could this happen?”
“Master” said Madelia in a rather calm and collected tone of voice “it was only a mere 15 men they killed, not a great loss in the grand scheme of things, and besides the three survivors brought you back a little souvenir." She smiled vilely, and Merdock's malevolent expression seemed to lift at the idea of a gift.
Meanwhile on the edge of the Silverline Forest, they had decided to abandon their advance into the wild woods until they had eaten and recovered after their little skirmish with Merdock's soldiers.
“Killga could you go and ask the Imps if they would like some supper?” Elera asked pleasantly, poking at some eggs frying in a rusty pan.
“Of course” Killga replied casually strolling over to the Imp's small tent, “Ebah do you and your...” Killga was silenced by a low pitched wailing noise and then she realized that Ebah was tucked up in a tight little ball in the corner of the tent, crying silently to himself, “Ebah what’s wrong?” She asked the unhappy creature, shuffling forward to comfort it.
“Kerantin...G...ungen a nousteff” he said between sobs, and even though she didn’t understand Killga wrapped her arm around his small little body and whispered soothing words to him. After a few moments he had calmed down enough to speak some form of recognisable English.
“It Grungen...hesa missend and mesa ...loo.looked everywhairs for im” he whimpered and then returned to his sobbing.
“Come on little green friend, I’m sure Elera can find him with her powers” Killga walked Ebah over to their group of friends, who were huddled around a fire as night was drawing near once again. Elera looked round to ask if the two of them were hungry but the thought was erased from her mind when she saw their anxious expressions and shimmering tears creating rivulets down Ebah's face.
“Elera, Grungen is missing and Ebah has searched every where for him with no luck, could you try to use your powers to find him and make sure he’s not in any danger?”
“Of course but I need somewhere really quiet so I can focus though.”
“How about the cool night skies my lady?” Dracon suggested, who had been listening to the conversation. A few moments later Elera was soaring high above the clouds completely focused and silenced. The only things she could hear were the occasional beat of Dracon’s wings to keep them air born and her own heart beating like a slow steady drum. A cool breeze whistled past her ears sending a chilling tingle down her spine, she succeeded in blotting out the whistling wind and started to concentrate, hard; trying to pinpoint Grungen’s whereabouts, she found places where he had been recently but couldn’t find his exact location.
At the summit of the fiery Mount Morgant, Merdock was scanning the room like a hungry hawk looking for his gift, then he heard a small low pitched squeaking coming from Madelia’s ankles, he lowered his gaze to her feet and there, hands bound by thin rope, was Grungen whimpering as Merdock lent in to get a closer look; he sniffed at the pathetic creature cowering before him.
“What will you have me do with him my lord?” Madelia enquired with an eager expression on her face hoping it would be some cruel torture deep down in the dungeons, “the three survivors brought him back with them after their encounter with the rebels” Merdock looked hard at the small green creature he had been presented with.
“I shall keep him as my personal pet” He sneered “it’s about time I got a new one.”
Madelia looked over his shoulder to the corner of the hall where a thin skeletal looking coal black creature squatted pathetically beside Merdock's throne, chained to the wall; Merdock's last pet. Once again after Merdock had dismissed her Madelia returned to the darkest corner of her quarters and began to rifle through stack upon stack of parchments, scrolls and dusty yellow stained books; thinking constantly of her dear master.