Chapter 7: General V'Ghera

After his battles at the Sarnak fortress, Loral returned to the Elven outpost of Fironia Vie. A cool breeze smelling of the salt from Timorous Deep lulled him to sleep under the statue of Tunare. Fully refreshed the next morning, loral visited the local cleric's guild and received a message from a young page. The message was short but hit Loral like a hammer. Ciric, Loral's mentor, was in trouble. Loral immediately booked passage back to Faydwer to help his old friend.

It took Loral far to long to locate his mentor, who apparently was visiting the temples in Quenos. By the time he reached the human city of Freeport it was too late for him to continue his travels. Luckily, Brianna, a member of Healers United was able to travel to Quenos in Loral's stead and save Ciric just in the nick of time. The vile Tier'Dal had hired an assassin to murder Ciric as he helped the young warriors of Quenos clean up the rats, bats and snakes that plagued the front gates. Ciric received Brianna's warning just in time to defeat the assassin and discover his origin.

Brianna returned the message to Loral of the safety of his mentor and while he was surly relieved to know his friend lived, it did little to ease his heart. Ciric had been specifically targeted by the Tier'Dal, and while this attempt had not succeeded, Loral might not learn of the next.

A note found on the assassin was signed by General V'Ghera, the field commander of the Tier'Dal armies. According to the Elven war commanders in Felwithe, General V'Ghera was leading the Tier'Dal against the human outpost of High Keep.

Tier'Dal necromancers and dark clerics had raised the dead of ancient armies from a long forgotten war buried deep under the Kithicor forest to fight for them. The undead attacks on High Keep had been raging for a year, but the Tier'Dal only sent in their undead minions at night, clawing their way out of the cursed grounds at dusk and returning to their graves in the mourn.

Loral had learned that the General himself had recently traveled to Kithicor along with his personal lieutenants, priests and spellcasters. He would be taking a personal interest in the fall of High Keep. As part of his plans, he sent out his circle of assassins across all of Norrath to eliminate those who opposed him. Great military leaders from the human, elven and even barbarian nations were killed as they slept or ate in their homes. This is how enough came into danger. The General felt that Ciric's assistance to the human armies of Quenos was enough to sign his death warrant. And upon learning of the failure, it would certainly invoke a stronger attack later.

The decision for Loral was not difficult. For the horrors they inflicted on the dead of Kithicor, the constant murder of High Keep's citizens and the attack upon his mentor, Loral declared his own personal war against the General and his army.

Loral traveled quickly to Kithicor with the help of the druids in his guild. Many of the battle groups around High Keep spent their time defending the keep from the undead armies, but a small team was being put together with the intent of inhabitants the dark elven camp which resided in a burned out cabin. Loral didn't wish to think about what happened to the original inhabitants. He asked to join this raiding party, offering his powers as a cleric of Tunare.

The infiltration team was lead by a rogue named Wyen. Loral thought him to be a half elf, but almost every time Loral layed eyes on him, he had shifted into some other race whether it be gnome, or even dark elf. Loral had no idea what race Wyen really was, perhaps he was simply a shadow. While his origin may undetermined, his ability to command the small group into a single fighting entity was not questioned. The party traveled from the canyon entrance of High Keep into the deep wood of Kithicor. During the day, the band found no troubles, but at night, the undead shrieked and lumbered around them. Many of the horrid beasts rushed in to attack the group but found themselves blasted down with spells and steel.

On the second night, one of these vile creatures rushed out of the dark woods and attacked Loral personally. It was a ghoulish creature, hunched over with yellow eyes, but even after centuries under the ground, Loral could still tell that this fearsome beast was once a high elf. The ghoul swung on Loral with a dark morningstar, which tore into Loral's robes. The beast swung again, catching Loral in the side. Loral heard the cracking of his ribs, but the pain hadn't hit him yet. Loral whispered a chant and the ghast's eyes were filled with the horror of his own existence. As the beast fled into the woods, Loral called the earth to rise and hold the undead elf in place. Loral called another set of prayers that drew out the dark forces which animated the husk of this poor soul. It fell to the ground in a heap.

Loral couldn't move. His ribs had torn up his internal organs and he was slowly bleeding to death. A dwarven cleric noticed Loral's state and was quick to call upon her own diety to heal Loral's wounds and mend the broken bones. Freshly healed, he then examined the corpse and what he found made him weep. Not only was this horror once a high elf, but a high elven cleric of Tunare. The symbol around his neck had only one meaning and apparently even Tunare's blessing could not stop the Tier'Dal from using his corpse against her.

The dark morning star lay at the beasts feet, a blue-black glow around it. Loral picked it up. The first feeling he got was the sheer weight of the thing. Even though it was not large in sized, it felt as heavy as a giants axe. That feeling was quickly forgotten as the warmth and strength of the weapon flowed into him. Hazy visions of the wars of the past filled his head. Ancient battles with dragons and giants, ceremonies between the high elves and the wood elves and finally the darkness and hate of being driven from the earth. All of these visions hit Loral in a matter of seconds, and quickly they were gone. Only the warmth and comfortable vibration of the weapon remained.

The next day passed and Wyen began giving orders to the team, forming into small battle groups. A few hours later, Wyen's personal group left to pull the General and his escort into the trap they prepared.

One of the wizards in the group had used his magic to view through the eyes of Wyen. As soon as the trap was sprung, he yelled out to the rest of the group to get ready. Within moments, Wyen had returned with the Tier'Dal commanders behind him.

Even after realizing the trap, the General and his party fought like wild animals. Adjutant D'Kan, one of the General's master assassins wielding two magical scimitars, cut through the teams like an entire army. His blades twisted and sliced into the joints in armor and into the soft skin beneath. Four great and mighty warriors dropped to his blades in a matter of seconds. Only the icy blasts of a team of wizards froze him in place and pummeled him to the ground. One of the Tier'Dal wizards draped waves of magical fire over the casters, searing their flesh. But she was quickly slammed by the shield of a huge barbarian warrior and cut down with his blade.

The General himself fought like no other warrior Loral had ever seen. He did not rush in, taking his time to judge his opponent. When someone charged in, he deflected the blow easily with his shield, not taking the brunt of the attack but letting it roll off. The his sword would cut in perfectly, dropping this opponents like training dummies. The casters spells made few marks on him, as if the protection of Innoruuk kept their spells at bay.

Warm waves traveled from Loral's hands to the damaged fighters, closing up wounds and soothing burns. The General saw that with the healing powers of the clerics behind them, the warriors would eventually cut him down. He vaulted over a charging ranger and sliced into the line of healers. Two of them fell to the ground faster than Loral had ever seen. The General's eyes fixed on Loral's and he smiled stepping casually over the corpses he left in his wake. Loral whispered his final prayer to Tunare and waited for the blade of the General to run him through. Suddenly the General stopped. He looked down at the morning star in Loral's hand and smiled a little. Then his sword fell to the ground and he collapsed. Loral was confused, looking at the morning star. Then he saw the large wound that ran from the shoulder down to his right hip in the Generals back. Wyen appeared out of the darkness behind him and smiled. His curved blade was red with the lifeblood of the General.

What remained of the war party cheered in their victory. Loral returned the lives of the fallen clerics who in turn returned the lives of the other fallen adventurers. In time they returned in victory to High Keep.

The undead still plagued the forest, but this time in disarray instead as an organized party. Loral had nightmares of their torment, forced to fight in a never ending war instead of sleeping in the rest they so richly deserved. Still, High Keep was once again protected and Ciric was safe from the clutches of General V'Ghera. Still a dark voice spoke to Loral, reminding him of the battles he had yet to fight. Feeding him the visions of the Maestro of Rancor stealing his father into Hate. Of the slaughter of so many noble warriors. The kidnapping of Tunare's daughter. These dark images kept him from spending the time resting in Felwithe that he planned and he soon left to venture back into battle.