Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


As the Hordim are in retreat there doesn't seem to be any useful purpose in pursuing them into the nearby brush. Instead you gallop into the village to see if you can render any assistance to the stricken villagers. Melem's Fork is in chaos and it needs all the help it can get. Most of the houses edging the main thoroughfare are well alight, both homes and businesses erupting in gouts of flame and smoke. Through the choking fumes you can see at least three bodies in the street and many more injured making for the town centre. The village Healer is moving quickly between these surviving wounded, but it appears that most of them are only slightly injured. All about you the smoke is thick and suffocating, forcing you to jump from Pallenten's back and lead her carefully through the litter of debris and personal possessions that lay scattered about the roadway.
Amongst the houses, and along the narrow streets that edge the main road it is easy to see the deliberate intent of the Hordim raiders. Although some of the buildings have been looted the majority have simply been burned, each house or business in turn being put to the torch, each feeding upon the fiery destruction of its neighbour as it builds into an overwhelming conflagration. There is little that can be done to save any of the dwellings, but it is the people that matter and it would seem most have been spared, although none have come through the assault untouched. The few armed men you can find remain steadfast at the edges of the village square, guarding the villagers as a proper account is taken of the damage done. It is a task the local Administrator will take some time to complete, and it is not a task that you envy him.

As you move further down the road one of the men steps towards you, raising his hand in salutation.
"Hail traveller! What is your purpose here?" His face is covered in ash and you can see that he has recognised you as Dwarvendim, but there is no belligerence in his disposition, only fatigue.
"Greetings Friend," you respond, "Your's is a dark day and I wish to help if I can. Although, it appears that all is now well in hand."
The man looks back at the village and shrugs his shoulders. "It may seem so, but it will take a long time to recover from this. The Hordim came at us in the second hour after midday. Started lighting fires before any alarm was raised and used the smoke as cover to hunt us down in the streets. Didn't know how many of 'em there were until the band reformed to the south of the Fork. Well and truly caught us by surprise."
As the villager speaks you dismount from Pallenten and survey the damage caused by the Hordim. Many fires still burn and there are few enough villagers to fight the conflagration that threatens to engulf the entire north and west of the settlement. It is a job that is beyond you alone so you look to the Healer and decide that you shall help with the wounded. There is however, information that can be gained here and you take the opportunity to find out more about the state of the frontier before you move on.
"Tell me Friend, what is rumoured of the way to the Krodestaag. Can the Hordim be found even in the south?"
The man looks out towards the mountains and nods his head. "We've been hearing reports of sightings for weeks; even seen a few Ranger units moving in the open grass to the south, but didn't have any clue that the Hordim were this organised. If you are to journey on to the mountains you'd better be on your guard. Rumour says there are both Morg and Hresh to be found, especially in the foothills beyond the Gladden Fields. If I were you I'd delay any trip south for the time being. It will not be safe."
Unfortunately you do not have the option of delay and you thank the man before drawing Pallenten towards the Healer's hastily erected tent. As you reach the centre of the settlement you bring Pallenten to a halt and turn your gaze towards the sky overhead. Around you other villagers are looking upwards also, the suns disappearing as if a veil has been drawn across them. In the activity you have found here you have given no thought to the encroaching storm, and as you watch the sky turns dangerously dark, massive black clouds building into gigantic towers that look as if they are poised to fall upon the village.
Before you can move any further a huge blast of lightning explodes out of the clouds and impacts against a tree near the road's edge. In a coruscation of light and sound the tree erupts, showering burning wood and ash over a wide area. Running for cover the villagers scatter to whatever shelter they can find as a further hammering impact hits the ground. Another burst of light is followed immediately by a deafening drumroll of thunder and a deluge of rain. Looking about, you see an old barn that will provide some protection. It is old and missing a large part of its roof, but a further blast of lightning, altogether too close for comfort, is enough for you to make the decision that this will be your best haven from the storm. Running towards it you lead Pallenten, who needs little encouragement to follow.
Standing in the damp shadows of the barn you can do nothing but watch the torrents of rain fall. It seems that now even the weather is conspiring to delay your journey to Stoneholme. It may just be your imagination, but in the dank gloom of your shelter the collar at your neck is feeling much tighter.

Turn to section 131.

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 2008 All Rights Reserved