Chapter 16: Trouble At Home

The sound of rattling bone and steel on stone echoed along with the screams of the tortured souls in the Plane of Hate. A slender figure strode past the hideously twisted minions of the Dark Lord, taking no notice as they snapped to attention when he passed. Behind the figure walked two enormous trolls wearing the bone armor of ancient beasts and carrying the glowing black blades of Innoruuk's elite guard. The blood red cloak of the Elven figure billowed out behind him, a deep contrast to the dark purple armor and pale skin of Innoruuk's high priest and military advisor. The three figures climbed up the steps of Innoruuk's church and the two trolls turned to guard the entrance as Loral Ciriclight stepped past the great archway. Inside sat the Prince of Darkness upon his throne of the skulls of heroes. Innoruuk smiled.

"You cannot deny who you are, my friend. Though you were made aware, one cannot change what lies in one's heart." Loral placed his hand over the symbol of Innoruuk that hung around his neck and kneeled before his master.

Loral woke with a start to the sound of breaking glass from the tavern next door. Apparently another debate over the price of velium or of Kormrif Spit Vodka had erupted into the all too common Coldain bar brawl. Loral had once been shocked and horrified by the event but eventually understood it as a typical social encounter with the sturdy dwarves. Why the bartender insisted on installing a new window every night was a question that always baffled Loral.

Loral got off his small cot and stretched out. These quarters were a little crampt and didn't offer as much privacy as Loral wished, but living with the Coldain miners offered Loral a perspective of Coldain life that he never would have gotten from the high class inn he was originally offered when he came to stay in Thurgadin.

Loral put on his green robes of Tunare and began to step outside of the small apartment when he found a sealed letter at the doorway. It had been stamped by no fewer than four of the Antonican bards who delivered out this way, a long journey for such a package and very expensive. As soon as Loral recognized the wax seal as that of Yeolarn Bronzeleaf the High Priest of Tunare, he opened it at once.

My Dear Loral,

It is with saddened heart that I give you the following news. A great horror has befallen our people and our Lady Tunare. An epic battle between the avatar of the Mother and the beast Cazic Thule took place a week ago. Our Lady has fallen and a plague of evil has taken over the lands of Lesser Faydark. Undead Sprites tear apart every living thing that resides within and even the Lady Fironia Vie's advisor, Quellimaine, has been perverted into serving the Beast.

At this very moment the council of the Sword and the Church of Tunare are in session to determine a course of action.

Because of these dark times the council of Felwithe is unable to provide aid to the noble Coldain in their war with the Kromrif.

I know this comes as a great disappointment to you. For that I am sorry my friend.

I wish you and your friends well and may the Mother watch over us all.

Yeolarn Bronzeleaf

High Priest of Tunare

Loral dropped the note to the floor and wept.

For months Loral had assisted in the raiding parties and spy teams gathering information and hindering the progression of the Kromrif armies. Loral's reputation with the Coldain had gone from suspicion and mistrust into respect and admiration over the months. When Loral returned to the council of Thurgadin with the news that the Kromrif would be invading within a week, the Dain put every able bodied dwarf under the command of his field general and top officers. They immediately began preparation for the battle to come, a far cry from the political meetings of the Felwithe council that usually lasted for weeks. The Dain was saddened to hear of the lack of Fier'dal support but took Loral's personal attendance and offer to assist as a sign of good faith if not for the High Elves than of himself.

For three days and nights Loral sat in the cold damp caverns of the Greater Divide and battled the Kromrif. A short distance to the north was the waterfall entrance to Thurgadin, protected by the army of the mightest Coldain warriors. A fellow member of Healers United, the Lady Catlin, sent reports of their battles and of the progression of the Kromrif army. Only a short distance away Loral's group, a mix of the most powerful mercenaries and adventurers from all over Norrath, drew small groups of the Kromrif warriors and veterans out and awy from Thurgadin, slowly but surely thinning out their numbers. For three days they fought, filling the snow and the stream with the blood of giants. On the evening of the third day, Loral was healing the wounds of the scouts when he came across the mighty Shadowknight, Ggan the Reaver. The scarred troll wore an entire suit of bone armor and carried a black pulsing blade. Though no one was very comfortable sitting next to the dark knight, Loral found him more disturbing than most but couldn't understand exactly why. Upon noticing Loral's stare, Ggan grinned bearing great fangs and deepening the scar that cut through his face. Loral hurried past.

A few minutes later it was announced that Narandi the Wretched himself had joined his troops in battle. Defeating him would send the Kromrif armies into disarray and Thurgadin would be safe. The scouts were quickly sent out to draw him away from the armies and to the caverns where the adventurers ambush awaited. Enraged by the though that so few had killed so many giants, Narandi took the bait and rushed quickly into the trap. The enchanted blades of a dozen warriors cut in at him while powerful spells unleashed the elements. Narandi's great sword, carved from teh bones of an ancient wyrm, cut down the warriors one after another. No prayer of healing cold protect them in time. The clerics quickly abandoned healing the warriors and instead began resurrecting them as soon as they had been killed. Fallen warriors shook off the chill of death, picked ub their weapons and continued the battle with Narandi the Wretched. The blades of the risen warriors began to cut deep into Narandi's thick hide, sending him into a rage. Great waves of flame poured over the giant and with one last howl, the lord of the Kromrif invasion was destroyed.

The familiar crash of the tavern's front window woke Loral with a start. Loral sighed and stretched out feeling his back crack. Many windows had been installed and broken since the Kromrif army had been routed and their field commander slain. One happy dwarf even had the honor of being thrown through it by the hero of the outlanders, a rogue of all people, after a particularly crass remark about intimate relations with a tree. Loral noticed another package at his door, this one larger and stamped with the seal of his mentor, Ciric Azilebane. Inside Loral found a small book, handwritten under Ciric's pen, entitled "A Guide to the Claws of Veeshan". Lorla spent two days in his small hut studying the words within the book. Loral might have found the ally he needed after all. The most powerful ally in all of Norrath.