Chapter 1

Year 19 of the First Age

Smoke rose above the wreckage of Daur-Bor-Nin. The proud city had fallen in spectacular fashion. Smoldering husks of structures that once housed elves and dwarves alike crumbled beneath their own weight. Their collapse scattered embers into the air.

Hunks of stone lay like headstones wherever they had fallen. Even the foundations of the stronger buildings had been toppled. The grand tower of the Daur-Bor-Nin University, where the Grand Sage of the eldarim taught his wisdom and knowledge to new students in the Library of Yentosh, had been toppled.

On the nearby hillock, Davian Whisperwynd stood alongside a handful of his fellow warriors and mourned the heavy losses. “So much for the first free city,” he stated quietly.

He bowed his head and offered a prayer to the gods, Aguarehl and Ailuril. His long locks of silver with green highlights cascaded around his blue skinned face.

Davian and his company had responded to calls for aid from the selumari living there, the blue-skinned elves that were part of his race. They’d made the trek in their airship, the wreckage of which lay burning in the heart of the city. It was a long walk back to their home in the city of Maris-ta-Sehlim, which meant in their tongue, “the city of the good folk.”

Selusis, Davian’s closest friend, put a hand on the warrior’s shoulder and tried to cheer him up. “They are calling you one of the heroes, you know. How valiantly you fought against the enemies—you must have single-handedly slew a hundred of them… and those creatures they rode?” Selusis shuddered.

Many of the giant spiders and scorpions they rode upon lay dead. Even a few wyverns had fallen in the battle which had raged for more than a tenday before reinforcements finally arrived from both coral elf cities like Maris-ta-Sehlim and from the closest vaghan cities in the west, dwarven strongholds like Oxforge.

Davian’s eyes lingered on a wyvern corpse. They looked like dragonkin, but the eldarim experts had assured him they were something else entirely and not related to the drakufreet as far as they could ascertain.

Davian nodded his head and stood tall, trying to shake off his sorrow. He towered nearly a full head above most elves of his kind, not that the selumari people were short by any means. He brooded, these red skinned traitors may be elves… but they are not selumari. They called themselves the ‘morehl,’ gladly accepting the term ‘bad elves.’

“I did not intend to be a hero,” Davian mumbled. “I only meant to save those who needed it most.”

His companions nodded as they watched the smoldering remains from the overlook. They felt much the same way as Davian.

Below them, the eldarim of the city, folk who looked like elves, save that their sturdier bodies came in a wider variety of skin tones and their ears were not pointed, scrounged for whatever they could salvage. The vagha people, what the dwarves called themselves, had begun to form up into groups by their families; many of them had already begun journeying west where they had kin in the Daurhedges, south towards the Mezzoscarp, and east to the mountains of the sa’Eldurim Massif. A collection of the three races huddled tearfully nearby with a pile of tomes they’d managed to save from the flames. The sages only rescued a fraction of their writings; Yentosh is ruined.

“There is nothing left, here,” Davian acknowledged. “Not for any of them.” Even though Daur-Bor-Nin was not his home, he had liked the idea of a free city where the races and their myriad cultures intermixed.

Jarroch, another of their company lamented, “Without the airship, it will take us at least another hundred leagues or more out of our way to return home, nearly 350 leagues in total,” he estimated.

Davian sighed, “It will take a full tenday just to get back home by foot, and that’s provided we don’t encounter any of more of those beasts that have been crawling out of the sloughs of Brackishomme lately.”

Davian looked out across the fields of battle and noted that so many of the dead were those same vile creatures which had been attacking the outliers of Maris-ta-Sehlim. The goblins had been in some kind of alliance with the red skinned elves all along.

Jarroch worked his jaw. “Maybe we’re lucky and the swamps have emptied of them. There are certainly a lot of them lying here, dead?” His voice brimmed with optimism, though none suspected the swamps near the Maris Coast would breed anything but these wretched fiends they’d begun to call trogs.

Davian asked, “What do you think, Selusis?”

“Morehl,” the elf hissed and spat, still staring at the fallen enemies whose crimson blood steamed slightly as it came in contact with the air. “These red skinned elves arrived only two years ago, claiming to be just like the selumari—that was an obvious lie, in light of what happened here: it was all a ruse meant to let our guard down.” His face tightened as he gave it more thought. “There are morehl living in Maris-ta-Sehlim… I’m for going home as soon as possible. There’s not any more good we can do here in the Crechelands—especially since most of our provisions were destroyed with the airship.”

“What do you suppose all this means for us?” Jarroch wondered, surveying the wanton damage.

“The Dawn of War, of course. Neither selumari nor vagha can let this attack pass,” Davian muttered. “This is certainly only the first war among many.”

“I think we should find the best way possible to join the fight against these wicked beasts and kill every last one of them,” Selusis hissed, gathering up his pack and preparing for the journey home. “And you, the great warrior Davian Whisperwynd, your services will be in high demand. I think any of us will be glad to fight by your side again.”

The company all chimed in with their assents. Shortly after, they began the long trek home.