The Chronicles of Valana Volume 3: Open Doom

by AB

Chapter 9

Thonril and Fundigorok

A breath on his cheek and a sensation of being watched woke him up. His eyes opening, he focused on the subject closest to his face, an Elf-girl's face. Her bleach-platinum blonde hair styled in braids, cyan green eyes and ruby lips accompanying an ivory white complexion caught his attention making him swallow dry and wiggle feeling his nether parts awaking, too.

"Uhm… hi, I'm En… " She interrupted him.

"Enthronos, but you are not an Elf I recognise, where are you from? You are not from Varaghia." She fired question after question in a sweet birdsong voice.

"I'm from Valana." He replied, sitting up cross-legged. Someone had dressed him in fine silk clothes in hues of blue and orange. "The Song guided me up here, to Varaghia. What's your name?" Enthronos asked in turn, looking at his hands, flipping his palms up and down and flexing his fingers before pressing his hand on his belly, where Karthlang had pierced him.

Raising the shirt, he lowered his eyes to view his skin only to see no wound or indication of him ever have been fatally injured.

"What…? "

"So yeah, my name's Nirasala and yeaahhh you should be dead, why aren't you? Not that I'm complaining." Their eyes met. Enthronos dry swallowed again, Nirasala bit her lower lip, her eyelashes batting furiously.

"Fire can give life; its warmth gives us life from the void. Fire can take away life, burn all in its wild path.

Water is the giver of all life, without water there is no life in this world. Water can take life if a creature of land, fire or wind remains in it for long.

Air allows life's breath, but speed is life's enemy when air is involved.

Fertile soil gives nourishment to all living beings but mixed with fire can extinguish life."

Enthronos muttered under his breath.

"What's that? It's beautiful." Nirasala swiped a tuff of hair from her eyes, placing it behind her left ear.

"My father sang it to me when I was younger, I thought it was a kid's lullaby but maybe it has some meaning after all… " He made eye contact, again. "I want to try something, don't be scared, okay?" Nirasala nodded.

Enthronos took out one of his daggers and made an incision across the palm of his hand. Blood came flowing out in droplets. Concentrating on his hand he spoke a single word, "water."

His hand turned into the same kind of water he had turned into after being run through by Karthlang. A few seconds later Enthronos broke the spell, his hand turning back into flesh and bones.

"That's amazing, no one around here can do yesterday's magic!" Nirasala gasped.

"I guess… this makes me into my father's heir? I thought Thonril would be. Nirasala… Snow lion? Apt." Enthronos replied before he could stop himself, instantly blushing.

"Water bird? It suits you as well." Nirasala blushed back.

Enthronos stood up looking around. They were inside a quickly made tent out of veils and capes.

"Where are we?" Enthronos squinted his eyes, getting them to adjust to the sunlight.

"You first, how can you do yesterday's magic?" Nirasala pressed him.

"My bloodline can do that, Aer'andil son of Liandras, son of Urelas son of Heldon son of Thruidil son of Xandth…" Nirasala's eyes bulged out cutting him off, continuing the countdown of the bloodline of Glothoin herself.

"… thlon son of Qerelon son of Berelos daughter of Lamerid son of Yolos son of Imradol son of Teranas son of Glidaros son of Glidarathon daughter of Vedaron son of Nadraoth son of Calaoth son of Malaroth son of Saradol son of Feluin daughter of Ladrathlos son of Domothin son of Ianothlorin son of Aarathloy daughter of Karadlos son of Menthral daughter of Fingoril son of Derenia daughter of Fadlas son of Tereniath son Ventral daughter of Eoen daughter of Rimbral son of Otaral son of Padra daughter of Glothoin son of Galorn, maker of the pact, founding creator of the Elves and Humans alike." You are of the bloodline? So am I!"

Torval hacked at the incoming Karatal, severing its head clean off. Sweat run from his forehead, blood stained his clothes, blood and miasma which did not seem to affect him.

The young Rod'eran King inspired by his and Zatola's bravery, standing alone against a tide of seemingly never-ending enemy soldiers, had come out from behind the standing with his infantry and was fighting with them.

They had been battling wave after wave of creatures of Darkness for seven days and nights without any sleep, food, or rest and, yet the two Hunters seemed as fresh as the day they arrived in Rod'eran.

"Your Highness, remember you asking me what army? This army." Torval shot a flaming arrow up in the sky then spoke a word aloud and the arrow erupted into a white phoenix. A moment's later screams and sounds of battle came from all around the city.

"What? How?" The young King asked, gutting a man.

"Hunters had vanished from the face of Valana the past few months, yes?" Zatola asked him, grinning in bloodlust.

"Indeed, no Human King knew why."

"Well, Aer'andil knew, somehow, this was coming and had them all create infrastructure, dig in and prepare for the siege here and in Feran and Eri'adar. We only have to hold out a little while longer and the Elven armies will be upon us." Torval explained. "We are the Hunters of Darkness, in peace we work from the shadows to serve the light, in war we fight with Darkness. We are the Hunters and Darkness knows to fear us."

"You are? How?" Enthronos stared at her astonished.

"We shipwrecked on this land a good one hundred and fifty thousand years ago, our ships were heading to a land called "the flat spires"? Elves from all the isles headed there to create a new kingdom, millennia after the last humans set foot on them. In a storm the ships… " Enthronos cut her off.

"The ships were lost at sea, never to be seen again, not even wreckage. Inside them thousands of our people along with High-Queen's Berelos' youngest sister who with her husband, Prince Alafor of Dol'Adur, were to be the King and Queen of the new Elven Kingdom of the Spires. Berelos is called the Sorrow-Queen for she never surpassed her daughter's loss. Her son Qerelon had to assume his duties as High-King early as she fell in grief and mourning-never-ending and left the throne of feathers to him early. You are the descendant of Lav'alas and Alafor?" Nirasala nodded, smiling.

"At first there was peace with the humans who had not seen an elf before, that's what made us believe we no longer were in Valana, they even gave us a piece of land to create a kingdom of our own. Then nearly one hundred and forty thousand years ago they attacked us without provocation or reason. Dol'Arvodth was the old kingdom's capital, First of our cities in the North. It fell in the first attack. Val'aranas, third city, jewel of the North fell days after Ivadthalin and Dol'Arvodth." Nirasala looked to the horizon, a field of white joined the dark blue sea. Lost in the snow hid the ruins of Val'aranas.

"The humans surprised us, the war has not been so easy for them since. Twice has Ygramor burned, Harnsoskyl and Iaor slain to the last woman and child. Oh yes, Humans have had their losses as well."

"I am rested if you wish to continue." Enthronos said.

She nodded and with a wave of her hand the other Elves packed up and started walking away from Yvragal's Ridge Mountains, towards the sea.

At next morrow's dawn they arrived in the snow-laden ruins of Val'aranas.

"This is so much like Glinthala, only made of wood and black granite instead of marble." Enthronos commented, walking amidst the collapsed buildings, colonnades, and weeded roads. Skeletons of both Humans and Elves marred the landscape along with sings of battle. Pieces of armour, broken weapons, shattered projectiles, and scattered pieces of buildings, blown away by siege weapons.

"It used to be beautiful, according to my father's descriptions of it coming from stories of his parents."

"What is that light?" Enthronos enquired, heading towards an otherworldly green light at the center of the abandoned city.

"That is the captured spirit, guardian of the city. Don't walk inside the circle of wards."

Enthronos walked past the collapsed dome of wood to a circled square. At the center of it a hemisphere of green light and inside it stood an Adalnol, a corrupted Human host to a fallen Spirit.

"This is no guardian, this is a fucking Dark General!" Exclaimed Enthronos.

"Come closer, little ones. Come closer, release me before my master does and I will kill you quick."

"I think you can remain in there until my father comes and puts an end to your misery." Enthronos turned to leave.

"My Master no longer requires him, your father, the High-King of Elves alive. You exist, the line of Glothoin, the path to Open Doom exists without him and Gilthian has a bone to pick with him. I Lavador will come for you little one, make thee do my Master's bidding, after your father is dead I will come for thee. " Lavador replied the Elf-Prince in a hollow, low voice.

"Unlikely. Let us leave this place, even the air smells foul here." Enthronos walked away with Nirasala next to him.

They had boarded the ships to Gol'Lothin, capital of the Elves of Varaghia, and were exiting what used to be Val'aranas' port when the light emanating from the prison barrier holding Lavador faded and failed.

"What's happened?" Nirasala grasped on the baluster, looking anxious.

"Did you feel it? Something's happened, a weird glow came from beyond the mountains. Nirasala, how did this come to be? What, or who captured Lavador?"

"Glow? My father told me that the Guardian… Dark General you say? He roamed the land doing his Master's bidding until ten thousand years ago a human helped the Elves capture it. The Dark General, did not only used to strike at Elves, but Humans as well."

"A Human? What was his name?" Enthronos asked, looking increasingly excited.

"Oh… I don't remember, something or another, but I think… no I don't remember, you will have to ask my father." They heard the screeches of the released Dark spirit in the Human host, a figure in shadows approached the end of the peer directing his sword at them before turning and around and leaving in the rising mist.

Yoro'l could barely stand, sleep deprivation having forced to seek refuge behind the lines of his soldiers. He had fought for three days and four nights without rest, food or drink. They all had. Torval and Zatola still did. Around them, on the walls, in the Citadel's walls and courtyard, left and right of the gates, everywhere piles of the dead from both sides littered the ground.

The Oghellen army came in waves, never ending waves of creatures of Darkness, corrupt Humans and acolytes of the Church of Ascension. Horrendous, grotesque beings void of soul with a mind solely concentrated on one thing. Death.

Torval stood there dancing a dance of blood, magic and death. Yoro'l had at first been surprised when any attack thrown at him and Zatola, aside from melee attacks, bounced off them without even scratching them. Yoro'l knew these were not wards at play, but something else. It was as if black magic, dark Spiritum, Darkness in general could not touch them, harm them, or that they even registered it impacting them.

"Torval, can you feel it?" Torval nodded, twisting and bending, everything near him dying, creating larger pies of death and decay.

"The Elves are near, the Host of Gel'anr is near. It is time." Torval extended his sword hand to the sky, releasing a red magic flare. Yoro'l saw it travel up high above the tallest roofs and towers of Rod'eran before erupting into a bright white phoenix, illuminating the dark night, it would soon be the break of dawn.

The parts of the city fallen to the enemy, while previously dead silent now came to life as Hunters, well hidden in the catacombs exited to fight the Oghellen soldiers. Well rested and eager.

"This army." Torval grinned, his face partly irradiated by the fading magic spell above their heads. Face, armour, hands and sword, and shield, all covered in blood and miasma.

Zatola let out a war roar and threw herself into the nearest creature as Torval fought with a look of complete bloodlust.

All around them the city filled with sounds and noise of battle.

In the distance to the south-west, Thonril saw the besieged city, smoke rising from the burning buildings.

He stood in front of the Elven armies, united under the Banner of Gel'anr, under his command atop a small hill, below them the shore of Anarmos River, beyond them, Rod'eran.

"This is our Kingdom, men! This will be an Empire again but for now we will not let these Hunters do our fight for us! With me, men! We fight for our people, for our Kingdom, for our loved ones!" Yoro'l yelled to his men before running towards the incoming Oghellen soldiers. The battalions in the Citadel's courtyard let out a battle roar following him into the fray.

They broke into the incoming Oghellen soldiers and creatures, steel against steel, magic spell against magic spell. Shield against shield. The archers, Speakers and magic users on the walls fired volley after volley of projectiles, hexes, and Speaker Runes. The Citadel walls and gates were the last line of defense in this battlefield. Siege towers had been destroyed during the first weeks of the siege, burned to the ground as the enemy could not move them fast enough between the small streets and alleyways, the archers had picked them off as if in target practice but the Oghellen military had brought forth fortified ladders and battering rams. If not for the relentless dedication of the magic users and the Speakers the Citadel would have fallen.

Torval and Yoro'l found themselves back to back with Zatola fighting what seemed a never-ending torrent of foes.

"There!" A voice from one of the towers reached them. One of the Hunters had climbed up casting area spells dealing devastating damage to the Oghellen host. "Elven banners! Gel'anr has arrived! Push these dogs back! Push them right into Elven Spears!" Cheers and roars followed his declaration.

Yoro'l looked ahead, beyond Kor'aval hill where Rod'eran's Imperial center stood, the Citadel surrounding the Imperial Palace, and the bureaucracy ruling the lands, to see a sea of banners and gleaming armours in the near distance.

Yoro'l joined his voice to the cheers of over-exhausted soldiers. "Push them back! Shove these Oghellen dogs right into their doom of Elven lance and magic! PUSH!" Yoro'l yelled to his Rod'eran soldiers holding his shield to the forming wall. "PUSH!" He yelled again and with a roar the Honour Guards battalions in the Citadel's Gates pushed their shields forwards followed by some ten thousand spears jabbing through the round and kite shields felling creatures and men alike onto others behind them.

"PUSH!" Yoro'l would not relent, now the Elven armies were coming in from the rear, now they could take their city back.

"Zatola, guard their left, I'll take their right." Torval ordered her before moving to cover the right flank of Yoro'l's battalions.

They kept pushing back until they were out of the Citadel gates, moving forward more would cause their rear to become vulnerable to attack.

"Form a reverse Kontar square!" Yoro'l yelled to his men. Kontar had been a general in the Rod'eran army three hundred years past, who had completely reformed the army, techniques, strategy, and tactics.

In movements practiced for years the battalion on the back of the wall pivoted around as the battalion on the fore pushed the shield wall forward. Eventually they formed a square where spears and swords extruded from all sides. The next time the front shoved their shields on the enemy soldiers the sides and rear took a step forward and backwards in unison maintaining the square and jabbing at everything outside the formation, except for the two Hunters.

"They won't last for long, the enemy has multitudes, we'll quickly be surrounded." Torval thought to himself dispatching a miasma-infected dog-turned-creature with a fireball before decapitating a man coming to his right. "What was it the letter said? Bravery can last until the Darkness overwhelms it all, but true light can muster forth reinforcements." In the letter with orders from Aer'andil he had received in Dara there had been one word he could not understand, it seemed like gibberish to him, but the High-King's orders were the High-King's orders, so he had learned the word.

"Cover your eyes!" He shouted to his allies extending his sword to his front and calling out the unknown word. In an instant his sword's blade turned to light brighter than the sun. He was so surprised by this it almost caused him to drop it.

Raising his hand above his left shoulder he brought the sword diagonally down across his fore. Everything, every creature of Darkness, every corrupt Oghellen Human soldier ten meters ahead of him vaporized, the miasma itself disappearing into nothing.

"What in the world… " Zatola looked at her lover in awe, the sword's light making her eyes to squint.

"Follow me!" Torval yelled stepping in front of Yoro'l and his men.

At the other end of the battlefield Torval saw the pillar of light erupting. "Cut the enemy's retreat routes off, outflank them, the defenders have the center." He told his generals issuing new orders.

"Cavalry, charge!" Torval bellowed raising his lance above his head and spurring his horse forth.

"Such a sight!" Astrid whispered watching a hundred and ten thousand heavily armoured horses charge forth.

"Bears of Gel'Glidorn, cover their flanks!" Gel'Glidorn's king shouted to his men turning to a towering black and white bear with long tusks and red eyes. His Elven warriors charged at the enemy, some turning to their bear animal others remaining in their Elven form.

"Archers, aim!" Ythela, clad in her white silver armour ordered Gel'anr's archers, best in all the realms. "Take out their spears, FIRE!" She shouted taking aim herself before releasing the string loosing three arrows simultaneously.

Nothing would get close to her brother holding a spear for as long as he was on horseback, that was her goal, her promise.

Astrid and Sigrilth remained behind, having only minimal self-protection lessons. Atop the hill near the river's shore they saw the Elven cavalry break into the enemy lines, shattering them while the bears and arrows seeded confusion and chaos.

Three hours later the battle was over and Qazameria's horses were routing the remnant Oghellen troops. Reinforcements had ceased coming.

Torval kneeled before Thonril, as did Zatola. Stenoros stood horseback next to Thonril.

"Well fought, Torval of Elisko. My father's trust in you is justified if not… peculiar. One as young as you over more experienced Hunters? But my father has a mind of his own and rarely does he explain much of his reasoning."

"The High-King does move in mysterious ways, my Lord. I do not know why he chose me over others, but I hope I have served him and the Hunters to the best of my abilities."

"So, you have." Torval nodded his head, retrieving an envelope from inside his armour. "I had two of these, one was meant for you, one for your parents in case you died in this siege. I am glad I am giving this to you, now." Torval opened the envelope to find a letter from Aer'andil. No one would ever learn everything in there, but part of it was his promotion to House Leader of Rod'eran's House after the end of this war, if he survived it.

"Congratulations on your future promotion, now order your men to rest for we leave in the morrow."

"Yes, your Highness. Where are we going, if I may ask?"

"Iavaskor." Stenoros replied. "While the Orkhavocs bring ruin to Iavaskar to the east."

"You must be Stenoros, son of Norion King of Udala. My original assignment was to deliver you safely to your father."

Stenoros grinned. "How is my father? I guess I'll be seeing him soon enough, the Panther of the south will taste Oghellen blood before this war is over." Stenoros pulled on the reigns of his horse turning him left.

"Your father is well and eager to see you again." Torval replied.

"I guess it runs in the family… " Zatola whispered, loud enough for everyone to hear. Thonril chuckled.

"Where are the Human armies, my Lord? Will did they not join… " Thonril interrupted him by winking at him before he himself turned his horse leaving the battlefield.

"Why not? Just go to my father and tell him! We have evidence, don't we?" Gundrun banged his fist on the table by the fireplace.

"As I told you, nephew." Fauj took a deep breath. "Something has spooked him, your half-brother and heir to the throne and we must wait, for now. We will bide our time and strike when ready." A knock on the door prevented Gundrun from replying.

"Sir." A soldier of the town guard's head came through the door. The rest of the man followed. "His Highness the Grand Prince requests your presence in the throne room, both of you your Highness." He told them before saluting Fauj and leaving.

"At this hour? What does my father want of us?" Fauj shrugged. The walk down the tower stairs, across the corridors was a silent one.

Fauj hid it well, the nagging feeling in the back of his mind.

The King, Gundrun's father stood still, looking the city outside one of the windows. His face a mixture of worry, sadness, and anger. Next to him stood his eldest, Gundrun's half-brother and heir to the throne.

"My sons." The throne room was empty other than them and the guards. "After the recent attacks on the settlements near our borders by the Elves… I am left with no choice but to declare war on them. Envoys have left for our allied Kingdoms to request their armies and whatever aid they can give us further. A dark day ends today. In a month we depart to war."

Fauj squeezed Gundrun's shoulder, hard seeing the boy's face contort with anger at his brother's sly, faint grin.

"We will attack from the north, secure the seer's mount in Hoygl fjeuhgule and pass into Elven Lands from the mountain pass… in a month… " The King never once looked away from the window.

Iavaskor's walls were tall, black and red with heads hanging from the parapets in various stages of decay.

"Everyone who denied conversion, who resisted… they are up there, empty skulls to strike fear in their enemy's hearts." Kermenos commented. "My people's fate… and I am responsible. I will atone for this I promise but I am responsible."

"How can you possibly be responsible for the actions of your enemy?" Astrid asked, shocked.

"I… we were under siege, we could have held on but I… I… I wanted to believe in what the Church and her arch-bishop said, what they promised so after a fight with my father I opened the gates… I let them in when everyone slept… I wanted us all to ascend, to become spirits and live everlasting, Immortal lives… " Kermenos hang his head in shame. "Instead the Arch-Bishop and his army descended on my City, killed everyone who resisted and drained the souls of those who would not convert… I did not escape, I was let go, last remaining survivor to tell of what happens to those who resist. I was told to go to Valana, to spread the news instead I chose to go to the Orkhavocs… because of a dream of all things."

"A dream?" Astrid whispered.

"A shapeless… being of white light came to my sleep, in my dreams. It touched my forehead with its beak telling me I was forgiven my child's naivety, that I had been deceived by the Darkness and then it pointed east with its wings before vanishing… so east I went… a being of light shapeless, neither man nor animal and yet… both, filling me with warmth, kindness, and a feeling of being safe and purged of all ill. So east I went to the Orkhavocs."

"A being of light eh?" Thonril asked no one in particular.

"Tall walls they have here… " Torval said looking up at the blade like parapets. "The taller they are the nicer they'll fall." He grinned.

Iavaskor stood at the end of a peninsula with a thin stretch of land connecting it to the mainland, like its sister citadel Iavaskar to the east.

"She has her defenses on our side, they don't expect a naval assault… " Thonril thought to himself. "It'd make for a sound strategy to attack it from the sea but in the end… none of this matters."

"Shall we put up some spectacle, then?" Thonril spurred his horse towards Iavaskor's imposing gates engraved with murals of the church's beliefs of how their new-found god ascends his followers and damns his enemies.

Stenoros followed him along with Torval, both on horseback. The Elven Kings remained behind, in the front line just behind Thonril, Regent of the High-King of Gel'anr, commander-in-chief in his absence.

"Ruler of this citadel!" Thonril yelled standing some few meters away from the closed gates. "Surrender, lay down thy weapons, return to Elaria. Valana rejects your false religion."

"He may not be his father's heir, but he sure is his father's son." Stenoros looked to the man he knew as his eldest cousin and the unyielding look painted across his face, fearless and proud in his silver armour and Regent's Crown atop his Eagle's head helmet. Sword and spear in sheathes on his saddle and behind his back. Horseback or on foot he would have weapons to fight with, magic aside.

Cold, malicious laughter came from within the Citadel. Slowly the gates opened, revealing an army within and the Citadel's first courtyard. Soldiers appeared on the parapets. Naval vessels started to make their away out of the Citadel's entrenched port.

A man holding a staff with a black orb at its top, wearing black and red robes with a sword across his waist walked towards them. His face originally hidden by a cowl revealed a twisted, malformed face with empty white eyes, crooked nose and colourless lips with sparse teeth protruding from within and a dark red tongue. Next to him was an Orkhavoc, towering high at three meters with trunk-like arms and legs and two-foot long tusks from the sides of his mouth. His eyes black with a black pearl adorning the center of his breastplate and an equally large battleaxe behind his back swaying as he walked.

"Th… that's the Arch-Bishop himself!" Kermenos whined wiggling uncomfortably on his saddle ignoring the Dark General's presence.

"Leave? We cannot leave this place until every last Elf is assimilated, and every Human converted or killed. We will not surrender, and you do not have the required army to deal with the armies of… " The Arch-Bishop was cut short by Thonril, grinning wickedly.

"Actually… the armies of the Orkhavocs, Feran and Qa'ros are besieging Iavaskar as we speak, and… " He extended his hand above his head firing a fireball up in the morning sky which erupted in a bright white phoenix with huge wings.

"I think we can all agree that not all is as it seems, yes?" Thonril lowered his hand slowly, laying it to rest on the hilt of his sword hanging from the saddle. "Your siege of Eri'adar, Qa'ros, Feran and Rod'eran are over, your armies there laid to waste while the armies of the Human Kingdoms of Elaria and Valana as well as portions of our Elven armies have been well hidden from your sight." The Arch-Bishop's countenance changing as Thonril spoke.

"My mother you see has been training in the arts of illusion since she was a child, under my grandmother and my father, real illusions." Behind the Elven armies, as if a veil was burning up, the armies of the Human Kingdoms of Valana appeared. To the eyes of the Oghellen forces it looked like the very fabric of reality remaking itself before their eyes. Where before existed only the armies of the Elven isles, now eight more armies stood behind and on their flanks. "Impressive wouldn't you say?" Thonril smirked.

"Father," Ulfnir, Gundrun's older step-brother spoke in a malicious slow nasal voice. "I have been thinking, Gundrun is too old to be coddled up like a child anymore, and Fauj may be…an acceptable tutor but as I will be the next Grand Prince of Ygramor, it would be a good thing if he was to come as an apprentice under me, learn what it is like being a merchant, so he has a way of making a living."

Gundrun felt his spine shaking, "I drafted into the army, I am going to be a General of Ygramor's army one day." He said hastily, he could not have his father agreeing with Ulfnir. "Merchant's life is not for me, too much… backstabbing for my like."

"I have seen no such papers." Ulfnir protested, the sneer disappearing from his lips.

"You are my heir, but you are not in my throne, yet." Grand Prince Sigovorn, their father replied, his voice irritated. "I am not obliged to show you any papers I do not wish to, Fauj gave me the papers earlier today." It was an ardent lie as Fauj had given him no such papers.

"So be it, father. I hope your military career is a… successful one, brother." Ulfnir made direct eye contact with Gundrun.

"Oh, I am sure it will be, brother. I am sure I am going to be loved by the people, perhaps enough to maybe… ascend higher than a General?" Gundrun knew he was getting way out of line, practically suggesting he would one day mount a coup de ta but his brother always had had a way of getting under his skin, even before he knew he was responsible for the murder of his younger siblings and mother. He had no intention of becoming a General in Ygramor's army, or remain in Ygramor after his brother would ascend to the throne, if he ever did after he and Fauj would present their evidence against him to his father. For now, his brother's facial reaction, one of utter horror and rage, gave him pleasure.

"If you'll excuse me, father I have certain… preparations to make for the war against the Elves." Ulfnir left.

"Your father has ill-equipped you for this battle, Thonril son of Aer'andil." The Arch-bishop replied. "He has left the fate of Valana and his people to the hands of an untested youth who has seen too few winters and even less warfare." He was being taunted, Thonril knew.

"My brother Enthronos has his reasons for going up North, call it childish need for adventure or something else, different, but my dear father has tricked you all for he used my brother's disappearance to go North for a different reason, I think you know of what I speak of? Yes? A seer and a fallen spirit wanna-be-god?" He taunted back.

"Let us build our chapel in Gel'anr, a church building in each of the Human Kingdoms and this war need not continue. Don't and we assimilate and convert everyone, by the edge of a sword." The Arch-bishop replied, angered.

"I soon rather suck your withering, miniscule dick." Thonril laughed, turning his horse to leave.

The Arch-Bishop screamed in rage and turning he started walking back inside the Citadel in haste.

"General Golth'arno. Order our siege weapons to commence bombardment of the enemy Citadel." Thonril unsheathed the sword and axe from his saddle. One per hand "Kings of Elves and men, position your armies on the battlefield." He ordered the heads of the armies who started giving orders to their Generals and officers.

"What are we going to do about their reinforcements from the sea?" Stenoros asked, looking past the imposing enemy walls to the ship-covered sea.

"If deception is the mother of all warfare, cousin, then surprise is the father." Thonril replied. "You should be patient, cousin, the fun's not started yet, not even remotely."

"Fun? Countless are about to die, countless more have already!" Kermenos exuberated.

"Death is part of war, but this enemy has been causing war, pestilence and casualties since before Nials split into Elves and Humans and now after a million years we have a chance to defeat it, not for a thousand years, not for a million years, but forever."

"Oghelle? Oghelle has not caused war for that long." Kermenos replied.

"Oghelle is but a vessel, a pawn. This army, the Arch-Bishop, his bishops, and the Dark Generals are not the Masters, they serve another hiding in shadows and darkness. Humans have been blaming my father for an unusual amount of secrecy and deception that's threatening to tear up the Alliance, but my father sees a bigger picture their short lives cannot."

"Oghelle has massacred the other Human Kingdoms in Elaria, retaliation for their betrayal in the last war ten thousand years ago and now they are trying to massacre everyone in Valana as well. What bigger picture? What could be around for a million years? Not even Dark Generals live that long."

"Dark Generals are a malicious spirit in a willing corrupt Human host, the spirits can live that long, the Human host needs… replacement every so often. My father was the first to find a way to kill the spirits themselves. Both the being in our mortal plane of existence and their "anchor" in the planes of the immortal spirits and the Aeternae Spiritum. But none of them is the Master, formidable foes as they may be, but my father's been preparing for a different kind of battle against a foe none of us understand. This war is not about killing the pawns, this war is about killing the Darkness, First of all evil."

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