Chapter 13: The Kromrif

The bickering between the Church of Tunare and the Paladin's Guild had gone on for hours. Loral almost wished he had stayed the outcast he once was, but then remembered the dark times and thanked Tunare that he was once again her hand in Norrath. Loral sat in the back of the meeting hall, absently twisting one of his velium rings around his finger over and over and watching his green robes swirl while the debate raged on. The subject of whether the Elven nations would support the Coldain Dwarves of Thurgadin against the Kromrif Giants of Kael had gone on for weeks, but today it finally looked as though they might have a plan. They would send in a spy, someone who could find out what the Kromrif had in store for the Elven nations. If their grasp was farther than Thurgadin, the Fier'Dal would make a decision. Before another huge debate started, Loral raised his hand and volunteered for the job. He was already an enemy of the Velious frost giants, he explained, and he had a good idea where to look for this information. He also knew the perfect partner.

Cold wind bit at Loral's exposed face like a thousand Bixie daggers. It howled over the dunes of white snow and chilled his armor to his skin as he lay face down watching the front of the large fortress. Where is she, he thought as he watched the two frost giant guards outside the keep. It wouldn't be long before the patrol was back and that would mean dealing with four more of these monsters. Loral peeked once again into the Gnomish spyglass, a gift from the druid Wrenne, scanning over the desolate land behind him. She was no where in sight. Then as he was just about to collapse the spyglass, there she was.

Azile Ciricbane, the Erudite Evoker had her dark green hood pressed close in against the biting wind. Loral smiled as he watched her lips wording a thousand curses towards the blizzard above. It appeared that even her elemental armor could not take the sting out of the icy weather. She trudged through the snow, using her long staff to help her make her way, and came up to Loral's position. She looked down at Loral's red boots, a gift from the Healer Akaysa, and sighed. Loral smiled at her.

"I was wondering how long it was going to take you. We haven't much time. The patrol will be back soo.."

"We have all the time we need, they will not be back," Azile cut him off without even looking at him. She reached into a bag that hung around her waste and dropped four Velium swords to the ground. "Lets get on with this, I haven't all day." Loral smiled to himself as she continued to walk past him towards the front of the keep, not even bothering to conceal herself from the guards ahead. She was right, he nodded, they had a mission to accomplish.

Deep in the icy lands of the Eastern Wastes, surrounded by tons of rock and a platoon of Kromrif soldiers, Fjloaren Icebane seethed. He had been in charge of this fort for almost five months now and there seemed to be no sign that he would be brought back to Kael and promoted. Five months ago he had been offered his own command, his own garrison of troops and his own fort. Instead of the great stronghold of Wakening Lands, or the forward outpost in Greater Divide, he was given command of the worst post he knew of, the outpost of Eastern Wastes. Instead of immediate promotion and honor of leading armies against the Coldain, Fjloraren spent his days bargaining with the horribly stupid Ry'Gorr orcs or sending out raiding parties to destroy the lumbering Ulthork and the occasional Snow Griffin. Only the most incompetent soldiers working for the Kromrif were ever sent to this fort and it drove Fjloaren mad to know this. Fjloaren pretended to study a map of the area in his hut, while he stewed over this horrible turn of luck. He had no idea that in a short twenty minutes he would be dead.

Guard Kazul's feeble mind couldn't comprehend why this lone woman would walk so boldly towards the front gates of the outpost he guarded, but there she was. Dressed in green robes and carrying a long staff, the figure walked up as if she belonged in the place. He looked over to Faroth, the other guard, and smiled at him. Kazul then saw the thin tendrils, thousands of them, that laced Faroth from the ground all the way to his neck like a package of meat, paralyzing him. Kazul, finally realizing what had happened, reached for his own sword just before his head exploded.

Although angered that this attack had come as a surprise, Fjloarin was happy to be in battle once again no matter what the circumstances. He lifted his great battle axe from the table and in three steps was outside of his hut. The blast of fire greater than any known in nature almost blew him back into his hut. Outside, a single figure unleashed the flames of hell upon his troops. Azile turned towards another guard who rushed out of the hut next to Fjlorain's, exposing her back to him.

Fjloarin had been passed up many times for promotion for his blind ferocity and rage but he wasn't as stupid as his superiors thought. He carefully walked behind the wizard and raised his axe high. Before he could cleave the wizard in two from the top of her head to the ground below his kneecap burst. Roaring with rage and pain, Fjloarin fell to his good leg and faced his attacker. Loral Ciriclight stood ready to battle the giant. In his hand was a shining mithral mace of the Fier'Dal, the standard weapon for the priests of Tunare, which replaced the dark mace he once held. Loral called Tunare's retribution and an eruption of energy blasted Fjloarin hard. Fjloarin stood up ignoring the crunch his knee made and slashed at the cleric. Loral barely avoided getting severed in half as the huge axe glanced off of his transparent shield. Fjloarin slashed again and Loral ducked out of the way, but not before taking a cut across his shoulder and chest. A kick from Fjloarin sent Loral sprawling. Loral rolled to avoid another cut from the huge axe, but had no where left to go. Fjloarin raised the axe one final time, smiling when he imagined wiping Loral's remains from the blade when his chest exploded outward. For a second he stood there, the four foot hole in his armor spewing smoke into the air. His axe fell out of his hands to the ground and he toppled face first to the ground. Loral stood up, looking at the hole which had burned through the giant's back. Azile's expression hadn't changed since he had seen her walking towards the fort before. Loral called upon the power of Tunare and healed the wound on his chest and shoulder. Together they walked into Fjloarin's hut.

The council meeting was still raging when the doors opened up, splashing sunlight into the great hall. Loral stepped through with Azile behind him. The ambassador of the Kaladim dwarves, a scarred retired general now a diplomat, explained the minds of the dwarves. They were ready to wage war on behalf of their distant cousins, the Coldain, and hoped that the elves would help their cause. The Fier'Dal chancellor explained that their forces could not be spared until more of the situation was known. Loral knew that this indecision would change as the information he carried came to light. The room went silent when he walked to the main table and dropped the documents from the Kromrif outpost on the table. He turned and addressed all the members that sat in the large hall.

"There is no longer a question of our involvement in this war my friends. We no longer have a choice. The Kromrif are at this moment preparing a siege greater than any they have unleashed against the noble Coldain. They are preparing for war against Tunare herself in the Plane of Growth."