The figure hurried along the road.
Dressed in dark brown trousers and burlap-colored shirt over which he wore a re-enforced leather chest armor, there was a sense of purpose in his step. He was a tall figure, very athletic, and moved with an inhuman quietness. Long brown hair flowed just past his shoulders, brushing the bow he had strung over his back. At his side he carried a long blade that had a slight curve to it as well as a number of smaller blades in sheaths strapped across his body.
Rounding a corner around a small hovel of a house, he nodded to a sentry stationed at the intersection. The sentry acknowledged his presence and with a single, silent look, indicating that he had not seen or heard anything to cause alarm.
Turning down a street to the east, the figure had to nearly close his eyes against the rising sun in the east. It had crested the small rise to the east of the town and was slowly bathing the town in morning sunlight. Looking around, he saw the many bodies of the humans that resisted strewn about, left where they fell. He knew they would start smelling soon, like the stinking rotten cattle these humans were.
Sindil cursed. This is our ancestral land, damn it. All of it. From the Northlands nearly down to the great sea far to the south. But the damn humans came and slowly pushed his people back. Now, the moredhel were confined to the cold lands to the north. Sindil smiled as he thought, At least for now.
Nodding to another sentry as he passed, Sindil saw his destination up ahead. The town storehouse up ahead loomed large over the surrounding houses and shops. The only other building of size in the village, the town barn, rose above Sindil on his left.
Why these humans confine their beasts is a mystery to me, thought Sindil.
Stopping suddenly, Sindil listened. He was sure he just heard some a shout from the barn. He took a step towards the large front door, but then turned back. He was to deliver a message to the Clan Chief, and he had to do that first. Perhaps he’d stop at the barn on his way back to check up on the group there looking for supplies.
Arriving at the storehouse, he shouted out the day’s agreed upon password, waited a moment, and then entered as the door opened before him.
For a moment, he was blinded by the darkness inside, but his eyes quickly adjusted. Guards stood before him, looking at him, but saying nothing.
“Chief Vorath?” asked Sindil.
One of the guards pointed down the main hallway towards the back of the storehouse. Walking to the back, Sindil saw there was much activity going on as the moredhel were taking inventory on the supplies, trying to determine what was worth taking, and what was going to be left to burn.
Sindil approached his chief who had his back turned towards him. The moredhel was an impressive figure, nearly six foot, four inches tall – almost an unheard of height for one of the Dark Path. His shoulders were wide and strong as a sense of power radiated about him. Sindil knew it would be a long time before anyone challenged Vorath for Clan Chief.
In a deep and powerful voice, Vorath said, “Speak.”
Trying to match the power in his chief’s voice, Sindil responded, “War Leader Tàr reports that the human soldiers are near the village.”
“And how many do they send?”
“Only two hundred it seems.”
“Really?” mused Vorath. “Perhaps this new commander at their fort isn’t as stupid as most humans are.”
Vorath turned and faced Sindil. Wearing black leather armor with his head covered in a skinned wolf’s head, Vorath was an imposing figure to behold. The Chief of Clan Wolf was a great leader and one of the few chiefs that had survived the Great Uprising and the defeat suffered by all moredhel at Sethanon.
The Brotherhood of the Dark Path had been misled by a false prophet, and a great number of their race had been needlessly slaughtered. Once it was revealed that the prophet was merely a puppet of the Panthatian serpent priests, the moredhel scattered. For the past three winters, Clan Wolf had been licking its wounds. But they now needed supplies, and Vorath had ordered this assault on the human town to acquire those.
“Well, it seems that we will not be assaulting the fort and taking whatever supplies they have there. Send a runner to War Leader Fiowen to the west. Tell him to make haste to the town here. He should be alert for patrols.”
“Yes, honored one.”
“Tell me, Sindil, does Tàr have an estimate for when the soldiers will arrive here?”
Confused, Sindil paused before answering. “Honored one, they are already here. They are moving slowly from the southwest, but should they charge, they’d be in the town limits within a half hour.”
“What?!” roared Vorath, his rage clearly displayed. “Why am I just being told of this now?”
Even more confused, Sindil said, “Oh, honored one, War Leader Tàr sent word of their approach a few hours ago, right before dawn. He told one of the sentries to deliver the news to you after he makes his patrol loop around town.”
Turning to one of the guards in the room, Vorath quickly asked, “Are any of the sentries late in checking in?”
“A few, honored one, but we assumed they were merely looting some of the shops as they patrolled.”
With two great strides, Vorath was in front of the guard. With blinding speed, Vorath ripped a dagger from a sheath, and slashed across the guard’s face, opening up a gash. “Let that scar be evidence to everyone of your failure to serve me.”
As the moredhel collapsed to the floor, trying to staunch the flow of blood, Vorath turned back to Sindil. “Sindil, I need you to quickly run back to Tàr, and tell him to prepare for an attack. Take a guard with you as well as one of the humans. When you arrive at the camp, march the human to the front of the lines, and stand there with him. The moment the soldiers move forward, slit his neck.”
“Yes, honored one,” replied Sindil as he eyed the guard lying in blood on the ground. “I will not fail you.” The sight of the wound had pushed aside the concern Sindil had just a few minutes ago about the shout he had heard from the barn.
“See that you don’t.”
As Sindil moved over to the room with the captives, Vorath’s mind raced. What was this human commander up to?