The Callindra Chronicles Book 3: A Fall of Stars – Chapter 9

Durrak sat next to his evening campfire, roasting the last bit of meat from his pack.  It was salted pork, but not cured so well that it would have lasted more than another few days.  The weather had been far warmer than usual and the meat would likely have spoiled before too long.

The few folk he had met had been very closemouthed and tightfisted.  They’d been smart enough to know that gold wasn’t nearly as important as food and he hadn’t been able to replenish his supplies.  He sighed and thought over what he’d discovered near Hellgate Keep.

The folk there said Jorda was dead.  A goddess had died.  He shuddered just thinking about it.  Not only that, but the group who had apparently summoned her to die had escaped unscathed.  Of course they hadn’t been responsible for her death directly, but the Grandfather tree had burned.  That had hit like a blow to the guts.

Rumor had it that Starvale was still holding against the Abyss and that The Bane if Ignitium had been seen circling above it.  He would find and slay that dragon even if the attempt cost him his life, so he been walking for weeks.  Now that he was within a day’s march of the city though, things had changed.

Tens of thousands of Taken surrounded the city.  Cerioth was nowhere in sight, but she had been here.  He could see the fallout of her deadly breath having burned and destroyed everything a mile outside of what had been the city walls.  If he was to get into the city itself he would have to be creative.

While he watched the city, the slightest movement to one side caught his eye.  The dwarf kept himself from looking directly at the movement and saw a slight flash of light on steel.  A few more minutes of quiet vigilance was rewarded with the shape of a humanoid.  Durrak nearly jerked in surprise; it was an Elf.

The shock wasn’t that he was seeing one of the Fair Folk out in a wood, it was more that he was had managed to spot him.  This one was being careless, and carelessness would cost him his life.  Durrak deliberately let his heavy plate armor clink and looked in his direction.  He pitched his voice to carry and muttered a phrase of greeting in accented Elvish.

It was gratifying to see the Elf’s eyes widen in surprise.  Durrak made a couple of hand gestures, and they retreated several yards into the tree line before leaning back against a tree.

“You do be making a target of yourself.”  Durrak said in a low tone.  He itched for a cigar, but knew the smoke would be a bad idea this close to the enemy.  He settled for taking a drink from a wine skin instead and offering some of the sour liquid to his new companion.  “If I did be seeing you it did only be a matter of time before the enemy was seeing as well.”

“Your eyes are keen.  For a Dwarf.”  He replied, taking a practiced squirt of wine from the skin before wincing and passing it back.  “I am Lorin.”

“Durrak.”  He replied, taking the skin back and clasping the proffered hand.  “The city do be lost then?”

“Nay, while the fiends could have overrun us ages ago, they appear to be waiting for something.  I cannot imagine what it might be.”  Lorin shrugged elegantly, “That’s why I went scouting.  Getting out was surprisingly easy, but getting in seems to be a bit more of a problem.  I suppose partially because I don’t have the knowledge of the terrain I have of the territory within Starvale’s walls.”

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