Arec Tulv should have expected Marnie to call on him. The Dark Elf had been trying to open a gate for the last three days. The summons left a sharp pulling in his gut even when he answered it. He dissapeared from the rock face on which he'd been perched and appeared within the dark confines of Marnie's small underground chamber. The place was sparsely lit with several bent and flickering candleabra. The elf himself was quivering behind a small table.
"Why have you called me?" He already knew, but formality dictated that he had to ask.
"I...I....I have a request.... for you..." Arec nodded, trying to encourage the male to finish. "I...I..." He trailed off with a swallow, trying to get up the nerve to talk. "I wish for the power to open the gate." Arec acted like he was thinking about it.
"And what would you give in return for that power?" The male shuddered then seemed to cast about in his thoughts for something worth trading.
"Two souls?" He questioned.
"What kind?" The elf trailed off again in thought.
Arec vanished back to his perch. It would take the male a few days to try and find something else worth trading. He stilled as he thought he heard something in the forest below his perch. Normally he wouldn't worry, but he hadn't bothered hiding his approach. He dropped into the trees below and wasn't surprised to see a dark haired girl arguing with an oversized hound. She looked over her shoulder and waved the dog into the trees.
"Sorry Tulv, I was just taking the Hell Hounds for a run. They're the ones who decided to take a detour to here. Promise they haven't terrorized any villages of late." She smiled sheepishly.
"I told you it doesn't bother me when you run them here. Just make sure they don't terrorize any hapless villagers." He smiled when he said it, his tone much different than when he had been talking with the Dark Elf. Feir, the girl, was a Fallen. Fallen were angels designated to watch over the darker animals. The ones who weren't human at all. He both envied her, and felt sorry for her. The envy was because she didn't have to deal with anyone other than the hounds, the sorrow was for the fact that as easy as it was for her to converse with the animals, they did not think as humans do and she had no one to talk with aside from those she ran across.
"Well, I don't want to keep you busy. Good night Tulv."
He grabbed her arm as she turned, she paused. "You can run the hounds here any time you like," he paused, "as long as you stop to talk."
She smiled back before nodding and heading off into the trees after the hounds.
Tulv was just finished resealing the gate when he heard the sound of the hounds barking in the distance. He was tired and running low on energy. He moved into the trees at a leisurly pace until he heard the snarls and animal screams of fury. And Feir's voice over all of it, yelling at the hounds to back off and calm down. He picked up his pace and soon stepped into the circle of hounds. They snarled but allowed his presence. Feir was leaning against a tree, holding pressure on a bleeding arm. He walked over to her and motioned to take a look. She let out a depressed sounding sigh before nodding and holding out her arm. He pulled it straight out before taking off his cloth belt and wrapping it tightly around her arm.
"Who did this? How did they get past the hounds?"
"Hunters, dragonmen. They dropped out of the trees. The gate must have drawn them. They were trying to steal the power coming off of it."
He nodded and checked the wrap. "I'll keep an eye open. Run closer to the mountain. The Hounds won't like it, but they'll deal with it."
She smiled. "No, they won't." Her smile faded. "They said a war is coming."
Tulv stared at her for a few seconds. "War?"
She nodded. "Between the Humans and the Others." She looked up at him. "It's already started. I can feel it in the air. They attacked the villages to the east. They didn't hide their presence."
The hounds snarled and paced around them, clearly agitated. The war dogs would know when battle was about. From their strides they weren't too happy with the war either.
A brief flash lightened the glade they were standing in. A white-robed ArchAngel stepped through.
"The Defining War is Upon Us. The Father wishes His Warriors to be Ready. Gather your Followers. The War has Begun."
The Angel was gone in another flash. Tulv and Feir swallowed the information in silence, considering the consequences of such action.
"We fight the Dragonmen, don't we."
Tulv nodded. "Let the Struggle Begin."
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