Carrion Fields

An Uneasy Alliance - by Tahren

The two smiths stood next to each other, leaning upon the hafts of their forge hammers. Each bore the tattoo of a hammer set upon a rune-covered anvil, signifying their devotion to the same God. But they both fought for vastly different causes.

The dwarf, Warborf, fought for the Brigade of the Light, vanquishing evil for the good of Thera. He was a shaman, the Hammer of Thror, a shaper of men. The human, Tahren, the Anvil of Thror, was the Captain of the Shields - a holy warrior-priest sworn to destroy magic as he fought for the Village of the Battleragers.

Despite their differences, their common faith brought them together once more.

"I could not stop the onslaught of the Eternal Night. The dark mages have stolen our item of power," Tahren proclaimed.

"Bloody 'ells," Warborf shouted at the top of his lungs (he had always been hard of hearing). "They've ours as well."

The Hammer and the Anvil nodded solemnly. With the silent surety of battle-hardened leaders, they began to gather an army. In short time, Warborf had gathered a trio of storm giants, Arhara, Stezxmon, and Galvexen. Each was a paladin of the light, and would stop at nothing to drive back the darkness of the Eternal Night. Tahren raised his hammer and shield and joined them. He had also ordered an assassin, Aleridric, to the top of the Black Chasm as a scout for the Village. The assassin's dark tendencies would help him blend in with the evil that coalesced within, but he must stay hidden, lest he be mistaken for an enemy by the assaulting paladins.

The army moved, crunching loudly through the undergrowth of the forest, and pounding in step down the cobblestone streets of Voralian City. Through fields and by road they traveled, slowing their pace as they approached the desert and began preparations for the upcoming battle. A dark, unnatural cloud swirled low in the air to the east.

Sensing their approach, Aleridric took cover, observing from amongst the shadows.

With a fierce battlecry, the paladins rushed as one into battle with a guardian Nightwalker. A summoned being from another plane, it's magic guarded both smiths' items of power. Swords and hammers rose and fell, hacking at the Nightwalker. As it visibly weakened, a cloud of glowing purple dust filled the air, coating all in the vicinity.

"ASSASSIN!" one of the paladins shrieked. And all hell broke loose.

The Nightwalker hissed and disappeared back into the Abyss, relinquishing control of the smiths' items. Victory! But Warborf had spotted Tahren's assassin. Sensitive to the red haze of Aleridric's evil aura, the dwarf struck out at once, eyes blazing righteous silver fury. The assassin, outmatched and outmanned, relied on his wings to fly into the desert to escape. Warborf mumbled an incoherent prayer, and Aleridric reappeared out of nowhere.

Disoriented from the holy summons, Aleridric fell to his knees. Warborf seized the opportunity, lifted his hammer high above his head, and began chanting a prayer of destruction in the name of his Lord.

Suddenly, Tahren swung his hammer in a wide arc, catching Warborf in the midsection. The air was driven out of the dwarven priest's lungs with an "OOMPH!" preventing him from finishing his prayer. The other protectors of the light turned on Tahren immediately in defense of their leader, striking out with swords and shields. Ducking under the cover of his own shield, Tahren fell to the ground, kicking his feet to push himself out of harm's way.

Seeing his brother-priest in dire need, Warborf stepped in front of his men with his hands up and bellowed "HALT!" Bruised and battered, Tahren moaned and rose to his hands and knees, spitting blood. Warborf offered an arm for support, which Tahren stubbornly refused.

"What in da hell..." Warborf left the question hanging.

"Leave my men be," Tahren replied, gasping for breath.

"Ya almost died fer it," the dwarf replied.

Tahren grimaced, glancing westward at the tracks disappearing into the sands. He smiled. "Small price to pay if my troops return safely."

The dwarf shook his head and clapped the human on the shoulder. Their eyes met. For a moment, the matching tattoos glowed, and then faded as the smiths parted ways.

Welcome to the Carrion Fields. Where conflict is never as simple as black and white.

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