Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved


Your skin goes cold as you realise what you have found. It is something you have not encountered before but this must be sign of Hordim, and judging by the small prints it is most likely Morg. Never in your life have you seen such creatures but you have heard stories about them, of their love of knives and their liking for torture. Even as you grab for Pallenten's reins you know this forest is no safe place to venture alone. Quickly you retreat into the depths of the undergrowth, trailing Pallenten behind you as you force a path back to the edge of the forest.
As you work your way back to open ground you can hear the distant sounds of men on the south road, but there are other sounds as well. Like whispers in the dark you can hear the slight crack of twigs underfoot, and the murmuring rush of creatures moving quickly and quietly towards you. In the depths of the forest you pause and strain your ears, searching out any clue as to how close the Hordim may be. Pallenten also picks up the signs of the quiet approach of the creatures, cunningly melded with the rustle of the wind as it flows breathlessly through the treetops. Somewhere in the forest at your back you can hear the Morg, and they are coming after you.
At the run you force your way forward, all pretence at stealth abandoned as you strive for the safety of the open plains. At least upon the grasslands you surmise, you can mount Pallenten and ride away, sure that the Morg cannot follow. It is your hope, and your only goal as you crash through the ferns and briar tangles of the forest floor. When you meet the treeline you come to a halt. For a moment you look back into the forest. You can see nothing, but a chill runs over you like the touch of a hundred pairs of ice-cold eyes, watching what you are about to do. The Morg have not yet attacked you, somehow you are sure that if you were further into the trees they would have had you quickly; but the proximity of the soldiery has stayed their knives, and you must take advantage of their hesitation.
Quickly you mount Pallenten and turn her to the south. Given a choice between being chased by the Kalboreans, or being tortured to death at the hands of the Morg, you have decided you shall trust in the speed of your horse. From the verge of the forest you urge Pallenten to the gallop and let her fly as a dark arrow along its border. Only as you are sure of your escape do you turn to see if there is any pursuit. Against the shadows of the treeline you can see the indistinct forms of a few small creatures leave the gloom of the forest before they are swallowed by it once again.
For a time you keep Pallenten to the edge of the forest before turning her to the south-east, your hope to intersect the south road some distance beyond the town of Baellum. The open ground allows Pallenten a free rein and she takes it, the plains flowing past as a rush of pounding hooves and wind-blown grasses. For an hour you ride, moving steadily towards the main road. It is only as you see the road in sight that you are forced to draw Pallenten to a halt.
Between you and the road lies the ruins of an old homestead, a ramshackle pile of broken rock and collapsed roofing. Many of these testaments to the hardship of life on the frontier can be found all over the north, and mostly they are nondescript and generally ignored, but this one is smeared in blood and it appears fresh. Without hesitation you slide from Pallenten's back and run for the homestead. As you make for the remains of its front door you draw your sword and begin a careful search.
Within the homestead's crumbling interior you find two bodies, young Kalboreans you think, but it is hard to tell. Blood covers most of the remaining walls, and there is all the signs of a deadly battle. The two Kalboreans have been stripped of their weapons and equipment, but enough remains to indicate that they were Army Scouts, no doubt on reconnaisance before the main body of troops made their way north. Both have deep sword wounds and both succumbed to their injuries. They did not die easily.
Your first thought is that this is the work of the Morg, the Scouts the victims of their cruelty, but there is more to the manner of their death and you see it clearly in the soft earth. Around the bodies are the impressions of heavy boots, from creatures much larger than those made by the tiny footprints of the Morg. You do not have to be a Huntmaster to see that at least six large creatures engaged in the despoiling of the soldiers, and that they could only be Hresh, the shape of their boots and the human sized prints leaving no doubt of this in your mind.
For a moment you look at the bodies and then turn back to Pallenten. The Kalboreans are a sobering discovery and one that changes your options for reaching Stoneholme safely. Away in the north your people are engaged in a lethal struggle with the Horde, and yet the presence of both Hresh and Morg shows they have already infiltrated into the south. There could be any number of marauding bands active along the frontier, and to be alone in the wilds leaves you open to the same fate as these hapless Scouts.
Quickly you return to Pallenten. A few hundred metres to the west the South Road is empty. Whatever movement of troops that had made their way to Baellum have now moved into the north, leaving the road open. Carefully you scan the horizon, looking for any sign of the Hordim. You can see nothing, but to the north-west black clouds are beginning to build, darkening the sky as they spread towards you and you have no doubt these clouds will soon develop into a storm. With weather approaching you must make a choice as to how you wish to proceed.

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 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 2008 All Rights Reserved