After taking Modryn to his room and tying him up to prevent him from hurting himself, Tristan, Rom, Cu’thar, Gortuk, Angela, and Gretchen met outside his room.
Angela holds her hand up to her temples, “Please, someone tell me what just happened.”
Rom sighs, “We should have seen something like this coming really.”
“Oh? We should have predicted that he would try to provoke a Mountain Giant into killing him?” Cu’thar asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Why should we have seen this coming, Rom?” Gretchen asked, trying to cut off the Werewolf and Troll’s argument.
Rom shrugged, “He may be one of the most powerful beings in the world, but he’s lost everything. His entire meaning to be a warrior was for his family and loved ones. Although, this is extreme even in these circumstances. As far as we know at least. It’s likely that he hasn’t told us everything. Whatever it is that he’s holding back, it’s enough to completely shatter him. His brother does know at least how to defeat an enemy that he can’t overpower.”
“So there’s nothing that we can do?” Angela asked.
Tristan shakes his head, “He needs to find a reason to live on his own. There’s nothing we can do to help.”
“I’m still wondering why we should help him, or even care. No matter how I think about it, we have no reason to get involved with this Alv, but at the same time, I can’t think of a reason to just let him do as he pleases.” Gortuk said.
The hallway fell into silence at this.
Tristan sighs, “Well, whether we have a reason or not, I say we offer what support for him we can, but only if he asks. We’re not going to go out of our way to help someone who won’t help themselves. Does anyone have any objections?”
Hearing none, he walked into Modryn’s room to check the ropes while the others left to take care of their various duties.
As he entered, Tristan saw that Modryn was awake and staring at the ceiling.
“Why?” He asked.
“Why what?” Was all that Tristan responded.
“Why did all of you stop me? Why would you even consider helping me, someone you don’t even know?” Modryn said calmly, as if the two were discussing the weather, and not his attempted suicide, while he’s tied up on the bed.
Tristan paused, looking at the Dok Alv, considering the question. “Perhaps, I would want someone to offer help if I was in your place. Perhaps I don’t like the thought of someone like your brother and that prince to win. Perhaps I’m just a bleeding heart. But I do know that those four out there would never have wanted me to kill myself if something happened to them, and if your family loved you as much as you love them, they wouldn’t want you to do it either.”
Modryn turned his head to look at the Demon. Their eyes met, and the Alv looked away first.
“Morgiana was pregnant. So was Gwendolyn. They told us together, the day before we arrived in Vanarous. And you’re right. If I had gotten myself killed like this, Morgiana would have beaten me like a drum, blown me up, and then she’d let everyone else have a turn at me.” Modryn forced out a laugh, as tears fell from his eyes. “Thanks for saving me from that fate.”
Tristan chuckled, “Don’t mention it.”
Tristan looked carefully at Modryn, taking in his expression. “I’m going to untie you. Can I trust you not to try and kill yourself?”
Modryn took a second, searching his emotions, “Yeah. Yeah I think you can.”
Nodding, Tristan undid the ropes, and left the room.
3 Days Later
The Strong Horn Mercenaries were preparing to leave the area, moving on to the next job.
As Tristan, Gretchen, and the others were supervising the preparations, Modryn approached with a serious expression on his face.
The past three days had seen a marked change in the Dok Alv. Instead of taking his meals in his room like everyone thought he would, he made a point of going into the main room and eating with the five of them. He would exchange stories with the mercenaries, who enjoyed telling their tales to someone new and hearing new tales in return. If there was a hint of sadness in his eyes as he spoke of his adventurer days, or a few more ales than would be wise, no one said anything. He had even went with Rom with a large Deer to apologize to the Mountain Giant for what had happened.
And now, as they were packing up to leave, the five mercenaries and the adventurer looked at one another.
Everyone stopped what they were doing, watching. They didn’t know everything about this Dok Alv that suddenly showed up a few nights ago, or how he and their leaders were connected, but they understood something important was about to happen. Rom could be seen watching from the door of the inn.
“Commander Tristan, my name is Modryn Rashee. I was wondering if there was any chance you were looking for a new member to your group. I am a highly accomplished swordsman, but I can turn my hand to any weapon depending upon the situation. I can also use several kinds of unique and ancient magics that have been almost completely lost to time. I would consider it an honor to be able to serve with you and your men.” Modryn announced.
His name had caused some of the men’s eyes to widen, but the rest of what he said caused them to start murmuring amongst themselves. Ancient magic? How could anyone have that? And several at that?
The leaders all looked at him, before Tristan spoke up, “I see. The Strong Horns would be glad to have you, but I must ask. We are a family, are you able to treat everyone here in such a way? Not only that,” at this, Tristan paused, looking Modryn in the eye, “are you able to treat the lives of your comrades as a priority, and that means your own life as well? We will not take in anyone who treats their own lives, or the lives of others, as something to be thrown away. If you’re looking for a battlefield to make your grave, go somewhere else. We value our lives too much to trust them to someone with a death wish.”
As Tristan finished speaking, the area fell silent. Everyone had heard about what happened with the Mountain Giant and the Alv by now. They watched as Modryn continued to look straight into Tristan’s eyes, waiting for his answer.
“You have my word, on all of my family’s graves, that I will treat my life and that of all my comrades as the most valuable treasures.” Modryn answered with a firm voice.
Tristan nodded, and held out his hand. As the two men grasped forearms, Tristan said, “Welcome to the Strong Horns, Modryn Rashee.”
Everyone who saw this suddenly had a deep certainty that they had just witnessed something truly important. And eventually, it was proven just how correct they were, as this event would become known as a major turning point in history that led up to the unprecedented and unforeseen events that would shake the world to its foundations.
Angheim, capital city of the Dwarven kingdom of Ungerheimr
Bjorn Ungerheim, King of the Dwarves, was reading the report provided by his agents in Sonadis. As he read, he could feel the unease settle into his bones.
The report told of a member of Clan Rashee who turned in his entire clan as traitors. The report went on to describe how the Royal Guard invaded Clan Rashee’s familial mansion and grounds to find one of their meetings to overthrow the royal family in progress. It further told how the Rashee fought, but was beaten and eventually resorted to killing all of the clan’s children. According to the Alvar, there were plans for the rebellion in Vylon Rashee’s office, but his agents were unable to find any trace of them ever existing.
Bjorn looked to his Head Guard, Dungan Darkhammer, the one who brought this report saying it held the seal marking it as urgent. “You remember Vylon Rashee, right? Would you say he was capable of treason?”
Dungan thought carefully about the man in question. “Everyone is capable of treason, but as far as he is concerned, he wouldn’t do such a thing without good reason.”
Bjorn sighed. “Unfortunately, that’s just one of the things that don’t add up with what the Alvs are saying. If the Royal Guard truly clashed with Clan Rashee, there wouldn’t have been anything left of the Royals. Not to mention that the Dok Alvs hold children as even more precious than High Alvs, if that’s possible. The only thing that my men can find that corroborates the yarn the Alvar are spinning for us is that the Royal Guard did interrupt a gathering, although it looks more like a party than a conspiracy meeting, and all of Clan Rashee is now dead. Has anyone else seen this report?”
“None, Your Highness. It came from the special courier, straight to me.” Dungan quickly replied.
“Good. I don’t want anyone to even have the suspicion that I think Sonadis is guilty of anything.” Bjorn said, as he stood and made sure the report was completely destroyed in the office’s fireplace.
As he returned to his seat, he thought about Vylon and his wife Aryra, who he’d met around 600 years ago.
About the time he reached 200, a large pack of wild Wargs were tearing into a Human countries rural areas. The country asked for help, and Ungerheimr answered to assist a trading partner.
Bjorn’s father had sent him, Dungan and a dozen other Dwarf warriors, while Sonadis only sent two Dok Alvs.
In truth, it was really only supposed to be one, but they had just been married, and while they had been promised by their king that their honeymoon wouldn’t be interrupted, the Alvan king insisted that Vylon Rashee be the only one sent after the Wargs showed up. Everyone had certainly heard of Clan Rashee, but none believed that the rumors were accurate, and so there was much grumbling about the Alvan king that Vylon never denied.
It wasn’t until they found the Wargs that everyone realized that the rumors were in no way exaggerated. Bjorn realized that by sending Vylon, the Alvan king accomplished three things. First, he made sure a potential threat to his country was annihilated. No matter how strong the Humans and Dwarves were, they wouldn’t have been able to kill all of the Wargs. The second accomplishment was that Human country was now deeply indebted to Sonadis. And third, possibly most importantly, the Alvan king sent a message saying, ‘Don’t bother us with insignificant problems.’
When all was said and done, Bjorn came away with a good impression of Vylon and Clan Rashee as a whole, and a poor impression of the Alvan Royalty. When he spoke with his father about it, the Dwarf king agreed that that was the impression he had of the Rashee and Sonadis Clans.
Now those Rashee are dead. Accused of treason. Bjorn looked at his old friend, sitting across the desk with a similar worried expression that he knew was on his face, and said, “We need to prepare. Sonadis has just broken their greatest military force. The Dok Shee aren’t going to stay quiet about this. And even if they do, now that the one group protecting them in the Shee’s court are gone, the discrimination they’ve had to deal with until now is just going to get worse. I’ve got a bad feeling. Something’s coming. Order all citizens to return to Ungerheimr, and have all cities begin stockpiling. Weapons, food, everything. Everyone in our cities who isn’t a citizen is to be monitored, including adventurers. And checkpoints are to be increased and become more thorough. Don’t do this all at once. Make sure to increase everything slowly. I’m not sure what’s coming yet, but I don’t think it’s any time soon.”
Dungan looked puzzled. “How can you be sure of that, Your Highness?”
Bjorn let out a wry chuckle. “Because, my old friend, everyone knows that the eruption from a volcano that’s been building up pressure is worse than that of one that erupts regularly. There hasn’t been any sign of trouble for a long time, but if something like this is the initial tremor, we’re in for a massive eruption.”
Dungan nodded, then made a face as if he remembered something unpleasant. “Your Highness, what about the weapon orders from other countries? Surely they’ll want to start stockpiling them as well.”
“Humph. Who, the Humans? Those fools believe everything the Alvs tell them. They’re not going to understand that something’s about to happen. And I really can’t find it in myself to care what happens to them. If they want to let the Alvs lead them off a cliff, that’s their business. We have our own people to look out for. As far as any orders are concerned, they’re unlikely to increase any time soon. As long as we make sure to move quietly, we should be able to get what we need without putting too big a burden on our smiths.” Bjorn said dismissively.
“As you say, Your Highness. I’ll get started on your orders.” With this, Dungan left to get Ungerheimr ready for whatever might be coming.