Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved
Asleep within the outcrop the night passes slowly. Beyond your shelter's walls the wind grows in energy, pushing the remains of the overcast into the south. Before its chilled breath the sky clears, and in the light of the moons of Arborell all is awash in a silvered gleam that outlines yourself and Pallenten at rest.
In the hour before dawn your dreams are interrupted by a sense of disquiet, one that invades your consciousness and brings you quickly back to wakefulness. From beneath your blanket you peer out into the darkness, searching the shadows and gloom for some clue to what has awoken you. Carefully you take a hold upon your sword, throw your blanket aside, and move quietly into the deeper shadows of the stone pile, grabbing at Pallenten's tethers as you continue to search the wider area of the grassland before you.
As you wait a feeling grows within you that there is indeed something out in the darkness, and that it is coming closer. Not for a long time have you felt such a burden upon your senses. It is an overwhelming sensation of power, concentrated and energetic, and for whatever purpose it approaches, even though you cannot yet see it.
Then from out of the shadows ahead you begin to see the first signs of a glimmer, not unlike a reflection of moonlight upon water, but one that grows quickly, twisting and forming into an almost human shape. Human perhaps, but the apparition that forms before you is a coalescence of light, barely defined yet recognisable. For a moment you stand bewildered by what it might be. The apparition however, does not radiate any malice or belligerence. Instead you feel both curiosity and a powerful sense of discovery, as if the Being has been looking for you.
"Who are you?" you whisper into the night. Within the rush of the winds your call is barely audible but the apparition makes no response. Instead you watch as it finds a place to sit upon the edges of the outcrop, and folds the edges of a spectral robe across its lower half. The Being seems to have all the time in the world and is in no hurry to make its purpose known. When it does it speaks quietly, its words cutting through the winds as if they were not there.
"Halokim, it is good to see you."
For a moment you stand quiet, surprised that the Being knows your name, but it is a hesitation that cannot last.
"Who are you, and what is your purpose here?" you ask again. This time your voice is loud and clear, and you cannot tell if it is fear that propels it.
The Being smiles and extends its arm in friendship. "Greetings Dwarvendim. You cannot know who I am but I can tell you that you are well known to me. Since the beginning of your quest I have been searching for you, and now that I have found you I would ask that you give me a few minutes of your time."
Carefully you take the apparition's hand and feel a warm sensation run along your own at its touch. Quickly you withdraw and motion the Being to continue. "It would seem," you say quietly as you lay your hand upon the metal at your neck, "that I am an unwilling servant of many, but I do have the time for anyone who asks politely. How may I be of service?"
The Being rises and moves further into the outcrop. "It is not service that I require, only your ear for a short time. But first things first. You have asked my name and it would be remiss of me if I did not answer."
The apparition looks to the west as if in earnest conversation and then turns to you. It appears all the brighter and crackles with power.
"Halokim, I am Ulaal'serai, a Caer'dahl, a servant of the Silvan Tree and in this circumstance a messenger, sent to give you a small guidance on your travels. I am here because the Silvan Tree requires that your mission be a success, and there is one thing that you must know if you are to succeed."
Still holding Pallenten's tethers tightly you look at the Being and can sense no deception in its words. There are questions to be answered though.
"I am glad for your concern Ulaal'serai, but why should my task be of any interest to any one of the Powers of the world?"
The Caer'dahl looks to the south and points towards the Devkraager Tor. "The Tellandra is a piece of stonewood, once part of the Silvan Tree before the treachery of the Trell'sara brought it to ruin. It lies broken within Stoneholme and it is a damage the Silvan Tree cannot endure lightly. All stonewood is connected Halokim, the destruction of any piece a physical assault upon the Tree itself. Windhammer has done more than just take EarthMagic from the Dwarvendim. He has wounded the Silvan Tree with his malice and it is something the Powers of the World cannot allow."
You wonder at what the Being is saying, unsure as to what your part must be in its designs, but there is more to this story and you ask for it quickly.
"I am but a man Caer'dahl, what can I do that might ease such a damage?"
Ulaal'serai smiles and crosses his vaporous robes about himself. "You need only complete your mission Halokim. Upon the platform upon which stands the Tellandra is inscribed a phrase, one as old as the Silvan Tree itself. Say the words as written and your task will be done. Spoken by a Man who understands Lorecraft the Tellandra will be made whole, your people will be saved, and the Silvan Tree will have its pain eased. Do this Halokim, and the world will change before your eyes..."
As the Being's words fade into the winds so does Ulaal'serai. As light might break up upon disturbed water the Caer'dahl flickers and then is gone. In the solitude that follows you look at Pallenten and consider that your mission holds many secrets and that much weighs upon it. Not for the first time you think it is far too much for a solitary Dwarvendim to have to shoulder alone.
In the east the horizon glows with the approaching dawn, and as there is little to be gained by returning to sleep you busy yourself with the tasks of the morning. As you work the sunsrise brings clear skies and lighter winds, and with the time to spare you make yourself a hot meal while Pallenten grazes on the plain beyond the entrance to the outcrop. (This meal will recover six points of endurance to your endurance level. Record this on your charcter sheet before continuing.) After eating and putting away your equipment you walk out into the field and call her to you. At first you cannot see Pallenten but an answering neigh from behind a pile of boulders to the west marks where she is. For a moment you still cannot see her then the big horse canters out from behind the outcrop and breaks into a gallop before coming to a halt at your side.
As Pallenten stands there you can sense that something is wrong. She is still but there is a look of unease in her eyes, her body shifting as if she is being compelled to do something she would rather not. You place your hand upon her tethers and stroke her forehead, but there is nothing that can forestall what she must now do. As if by some distant call she rears upon her hind legs, and then turns and races for the distant forest road. Before you can run after her she is gone, a black shape disappearing into the wide expanse of the grasslands.
For a moment you do not understand what has happened, then you remember the Tak Lovar's words. The horse was only to take you as far as the foothills. Now the horse must return to its master. Although you do not like it the rest of your quest will now have to be on foot. For some time you watch Pallenten fade into the haze of the morning and the dark forests that lay beyond. You admit to yourself quietly that you have come to depend upon that horse a lot, and your task will be all the more difficult without her strength to aid you.
Collecting your belongings you strap Than'durion to your waist, shoulder your pack, and begin the last leg of your journey to Stoneholme.
The hot food and decent rest has given you new energy. Restore all lost endurance points to your character sheet and then turn to section 107.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Windhammer, Copyright Wayne Densley 2008 All Rights Reserved