Coundon, Coventry, West Midlands, England
Dwarves dressed in uniforms bearing the insignia of the Emerald Alliance ran around franticly. They pushed pass Rhen without a glance, while the four of them stared at the sight they held before them. Splintered wood covered the floor, and stones of all shapes and sizes were scattered about. A wall was crumbling, while the gates to the city were on their hinges. As the party clambered over the wreckage, they watched civilians walk quickly with their heads down and priests carrying the bodies of dead or wounded dwarves. Samsoon took the lead, as he knew the presence of a dwarf among two humans and an elf would put people more at ease. They headed toward the castle, with little time to admire the remaining buildings. But as they approached, they saw getting in would be easier than they thought. The doors were open and were unguarded, which was somewhat strange, as castles were very rarely left unprotected. They entered the building, and asked a nearby guard where they could find the king. The guard shrugged and pointed toward the door at the end of the corridor. Rhen for one found it strange. What force could have possibly done this much damage for the dwarves to leave their king unprotected? They knocked on the door, waiting for a response.
“Come...” The voice was rough and deep, and it spoke in the dwarven tongue. Only Rhen understood it, for it was customary for mages like her to learn all languages spoken by the members of the Emerald Alliances, and Rhen had also studied a few more than that. She gave an encouraging nod toward the others, who followed her into the room. The ceiling was low as it was built by dwarfs and the floors appeared to be made of pure gold. Maps with numerous markings hung on the walls, and a large table was situated in the middle of the room, which was circular in shape. At one end of the table sat a troubled dwarf. His armour was made of finely crafted materials, and his sword was immediately recognisable as Sawniea, the sword of the dwarven royal blood line. The King himself wore a worn expression, and he was fiddling with his thick, black beard. Rhen spoke in Dwarfish, so as to not sound hostile.
“Your majesty...” the King jumped in his seat and looked up to see the teenagers. Samsoon found himself shrinking in his King’s presence.
“Yes?” the King regained his composure, and then carried on. “What is it you want? I’m afraid I am very busy...”
“We recovered this shard from a troll corpse on our way here.” Rhen showed him the shard, and then spoke in the common language. “We... We wondered why, and how, it had gotten into the hands of a troll...”
“To tell the truth, young mage,” The king gestured towards Rhen’s markings, which made her feel somewhat uneasy, “We are under attack. The attacks mainly co-ordinated by the trolls.” Rhen, Samsoon and Amie were all shocked beyond belief. But a huge explosion diverted them from continuing with the conversation, and made them instinctively reach for their weapons. They spun round to face a group of trolls approaching them and the King. Amie ran back and stood next to the King, bow in hand. Rhen joined her, while Samsoon and Avey held their heavy weapons with ease in their hands, ready to embrace the opposition in full on hand to hand combat. The trolls snarled and laughed at the small pack of fighters as they arranged their forces. The royal guard showed up to help the King, but there were very few of them, and the trolls outnumbered them at about five to one. But they were not about to give up. Avey lunged for the first troll, missing by barely an inch. But on the next strike the troll wasn’t so lucky, as Avey struck him hard on the head, knocking the troll cold until Samsoon plunged his sword into its chest. Amie had problems with accuracy amongst the growing chaos. Rhen had the same problem, as she was unable to get a clear shot of the opposition without the danger of hitting Avey, Samsoon or the guards trying with all their might to protect their King. Amie abandoned the bow and drew her sword as the opponent grew closer. She slashed with accuracy at the hideous trolls, killing them before they could get anywhere near the King. Blood splattered everywhere as she cut the flesh of her victims. Rhen managed to launch a bolt of lightning at a line of trolls, frying them as they dropped down dead. But with all the success of the battle so far, it was a long way off over. The trolls just kept coming in large numbers, and the King’s forces were having trouble holding them back, and they were soon overwhelmed. Rhen knew this was going to be close. But what she didn’t know was that a troll was approaching fast from behind. She stabbed a troll in the heart, and turned round to see a dagger plunge toward her own chest...