Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


You do not have to wait long. Within minutes a wall of heavy rain overtakes the farmstead, lashing at its crumbling buildings and assaulting the unprotected walls of your small shed. Huddled against the strongest wall you listen to the crashing of the rain as it hammers against the roof. Looking upwards you can see each bluster of wind shifting the shed's beams and uprights, the roof shingles shuddering with each impact of the relentless gale. It seems that at any minute the roof will break free of its supporting walls and disappear upwards into the maelstrom. Then comes the sleet and hail. Standing there against Pallenten you feel a sudden change in the temperature of the air about you. Pallenten's breath turns to long gusts of vapour as you feel the ground vibrating under you with a new vigour.
When the hail hits it is more than the shed can do to withstand its fury. Buffeted by the wind, and stressed to its limit by the relentless hammering of a tumult of fist-sized hailstones the roof buckles. Luckily you stand beneath the strongest part of the shelter. To your right the roof gives way, dumping a slew of hail and slush onto the shed's floor. Before you can move the wall at the far end of the shed collapses into a pile of rubble. With nowhere to go you press yourself further into the corner and watch the remaining piece of roof as it bends and twists in the gale.
You are still out of direct contact with the storm but you feel its effects nonetheless. The hail does not abate, nor does the ferocity of the winds or the pounding concert of lightning and thunder. Unable to move your world dissolves into a whirlpool of bright light, and a deafening symphony of hammers and drums pounding without mercy in your ears.
For an hour or more you wait as the storm vents its fury on the unprotected land and your small, collapsing shelter. It is when you think the storm cannot possibly grow stronger that you begin to notice something. It is not much at first, but with each burst of lightning you begin to see more, and as it unfolds you press closer to Pallenten and take a firmer hold on your sword.
In the buffeting tumult of the storm the apparitions appear first as a series of moving shadows, out on the edge of your vision, a strange illusion probably caused by the fine spray of rain that is slowly soaking you to the bone. The more you look though, the more you see. First one, then another, then dozens of them, forming and reforming like dark grotesque phantoms, running along the edges of walls, or crouched low, hands raised as if worshipping the storm itself. Somehow they are there but then gone with the next flash of lightning. Their very lack of substance sends a chill down your spine and there is something in their wild abandon that is both frightening and terrible. Before their fractured dance can come to an end you are convinced that if they see you, you will die.
The strange ethereal dance of the phantoms continues until, as quickly as it came, the storm passes. As the stormfront moves on, so does its shadowy denizens, disappearing with the rain and wind southwards.
In the aftermath of the tempest you take some time to recover. Moving out into the open you lead Pallenten slowly. Your enforced confinement has left both you and your horse stiff from the cold, and it takes time to get feeling back into your fingers and toes. Pallenten recovers quickly though, a rub down and some water from an overflowing trough all she needs before giving you a nudge to move on. As there is nothing to keep you here, you remount and again set Pallenten directly for the snow-capped summit of the Devkraager Tor.
With the storm gone the ground is saturated and soft underfoot. Pallenten takes this all in her stride however, and you are soon crossing from the remains of the grasslands into areas of sparse forest. Dodging between the stands of trees you make your way forward, steadily getting closer to the west road and an opportunity to get your bearings. Onward you ride, afternoon turns to evening and as daylight wanes you realise that you will need to consider where to spend the night. With sunset approaching you finally meet the west road, and here you find that you have actually travelled much further west than you would have expected. Once you get your bearings you see that the village of Melem's Fork lies far to the east, too far to backtrack and too far out of the way to be a good place to spend the night. A shorter distance to the west lay the ancient Ring of Stones. Your objective is still many hours journey to the south but the Stones may make a good place to camp.

If you wish to turn towards the Ring of Stones turn to section 257. If you would rather continue on southwards turn to section 412.

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