Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2001 - 2007 All Rights Reserved


In the bright light of the morning you consider the path ahead. The road south meanders in long sweeping arcs towards the busy frontier settlement of Baellum. Set upon the plain it is easy to recognise and difficult to avoid if you wish to continue southwards. Although only a small settlement it is heavily fortified, its citizens protected by high wooden palisades surrounded by networks of defensive ditches and deadly pitfalls. The village itself is a well-established settlement, blessed with more than a few good taverns and all are well-known to you. Many have been the good times that you have spent in that town, but it gives you no reason for comfort today. Even from this distant vantage you can see the ordered tent-lines of an Army bivouac spreading about the fortified walls of the town.
The sight of soldiers this soon into your journey makes you feel very uneasy. There has been more than one occasion in the past where you have been hunted by men such as these; and you have always erred on the side of caution when there is a chance you may come into contact with them again. Today will be no different. Unsure as to what type of reception you might receive, you leave the road and decide instead to skirt the village of Baellum, and the soldiery encamped about it.
The safety of the forest to the west of the road seems a more prudent course. Even as Pallenten leaves the road this proves quickly to be the case. Large numbers of soldiers are beginning to decamp, and move in units up the road towards Maenum. Even if they didn't challenge you directly their sheer numbers would delay you unduly.
Turning Pallenten towards the trees you gallop forward, eager to stay out of sight of the advancing soldiery. Although there are some signs that army scouts have passed this way you find the safety of the trees, and the anonymity of their deep shadows, without trouble.
Finding a path through the thick vegetation that covers the floor of the forest however, is a task that requires both time and skill to negotiate. After a few hours of picking your way carefully between copses of trees and thick patches of undergrowth you take the opportunity to pause in a small clearing that you have found in the depths of the forest. Here Pallenten can rest and take some forage. With the soldiery still too close for comfort you decide it best to stay low and rest as well. In the dark embrace of the trees you take the time to take water and relax. About you the walls of the clearing are a thick tangle of undergrowth and old Oak, of huge gnarled limbs and buttress roots that dig deep into the heavy soil. You think that under other circumstances such a place would be an excellent campsite, but you cannot afford to linger in its shadows for too long.
So far your progress has not been as good as you might have hoped. Keeping to the forest is proving to be hard going, and scouts from the advancing army are becoming harder to evade. Indeed, you have found many signs of their passing, and because of it you have had to venture far deeper into the forest than you would have liked to avoid them.
As you sit in the clearing you can hear the steady trudge of a multitude of heavy feet on the road some distance to the east. Over the shouts of officers cajoling their men on you can also make out the squeaks and grinds of supply wagons, and the lamentation of beasts of burden as they struggle under impossible loads. There can be no doubt that a large force is moving northwards but whether such a large force is being sent to help the Dwarvendim, or rather as the next line of defense if the fortress falls is a question that cannot be answered today. Thinking that the latter will be the most likely you pack your gear and continue on.
The day wears on and you find yourself travelling a wider detour than expected. The further around the village you travel, the thinner become the trees, and the deeper into the forest you have to turn to avoid detection. It is a slow and frustrating process. Eventually however, you break from the trees and strike out towards the road, which you rejoin a kilometre south of the village. From here you make surprisingly quicker progress. It appears that the main body of troops has already passed and the road is relatively clear of traffic. Giving Pallenten free rein the great horse bounds forward, and soon the leagues are again disappearing beneath her powerful strides.
After the claustrophobic confines of your prison cell the freedom of the road is a welcome tonic but as you ride you notice that to the west dark clouds are beginning to crowd the horizon. A storm is coming and before nightfall you will need to find shelter.

Ahead lies a clear road to Miller's Crossing. At this stage of your journey you may either keep to the road, or you can strike out to the south-west, and make your way cross-country directly to the Devkraager Tor. If you wish to continue on the road to Miller's Crossing turn to section 251. If you would like to try and gain some time by leaving the road and heading straight for the mountain, turn to section 361.

This book, and its associated books and other documents in the Chronicles of Arborell series are the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. Windhammer is best viewed at 1024 x 768 resolution. Any questions regarding the Chronicles of Arborell can be answered by emailing the author at densleyw@shoal.net.au
Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2001 - 2007 All Rights Reserved