War / Peace

To protect peace, prepare for war, whether that means with words or weapons.

--Zoraidia the Sage

The Stoneforged soldier stood gazing at Casaran Pass, her sapphire eyes narrowed in concern. For three days now, reports had come of unexpected landslides near the Pass, disrupting the mining efforts along the southern edge of the mountains.

"So you've seen it as well," she heard, and she whirled with a start to see a Forestborn hunter crouched nearby, also staring at the Pass. Despite her vigilance, the hunter had managed to scale the outcrop upon which she stood without dislodging so much as a single stone. "I had suspected as much — very little happens near these mountains that the Stoneforged do not know."

"What do you mean, 'as well'?" she asked.

The hunter turned pale brown eyes to her. "Things move among the trees, leaving decay in their wake. Their roots have tasted blood, and other things more foul."

Looking at the forests that bordered the lands of the Stoneforged, the soldier shuddered.

For several moments, neither of them spoke, then she heard him sigh.

"What my clansman had done... I am... I am sorry for your loss."

A brief flare of anger blazed within her, then flickered and died, and she slowly nodded. "And I for yours."

Their eyes met, and he inclined his head to her. But before either of them could speak, unearthly howls split the air, and they both looked down to see a group of Stoneforged priests being pursued by...

"In the name of the Gods, what ARE those things?!" she whispered.

"Lead your kinsmen to safety, lady," the hunter growled as he leapt to his feet, his hands reaching for his weapons. "I will harry these abominations in your wake."

"Good hunting to you," she replied, hefting her spear, and together they leapt from the outcrop to the defense of the priests.