Charbann shuddered as he watched Torl.

The rakshasa grinned at him with his toothy, vicious grin. Torl released the body of the murdered spell-caster and let the oracle’s lifeless husk tumbled down the slope of the stone table.

The monster and his motley collection of spell crafters seemed to take special pleasure in the slaughter of the Gwich’in. He nodded skyward and cocked an ear to the distant, draconic croak as the drake announced its return. “Join with us, you and your scouts,” he insisted.

Charbann cocked an eyebrow. “I’m no crafter,” he said flatly.

“I never assumed as much,” the rakshasa stated. “But we will need every scrap of power we can muster. You are morehl, after all, right?”

Charbann nodded reluctantly.

“Then you might prove useful.” Torl and the others assumed whatever personal postures they preferred that put them in touch with the natural and arcane energies: that spark that connected them to Esfah, and to the Death god.

Charbann closed his eyes and relaxed. He found it difficult to focus; many of Torl’s companions gyrated and convulsed as they tried to conjure that primal link. He kept quiet as they chanted and did his best to melt into the background. He didn’t believe he could be any use at this, and so he was not—such is the nature of magic.

Torl, filled with eldritch energy, roared as a fissure split the air. The spell momentarily connected the draconic realm to Esfah and pulled a black dragon through the breach.

Fiercely territorial, the black and blue creatures locked eyes and rushed towards each other at once. They clashed like titans in the sky above the battlefield.

The morehl sighed with relief. With the dragons preoccupied against each other, they would be safe during the battle… at least, until one of the beasts emerged victorious.

Climbing onto one of his levitating rugs, Torl called back to Charbann. “Protect my students,” he charged. “They follow the drider’s plan, and so must I—she needs me next below the tower.”

Charbann nodded and then watched the strange arcanist fly quickly away on his peculiar mount, keeping well beyond range of any dangers on the battlefield.

The amazons’ chariots whirled around, making a U shape with their backs to the now-vacant outpost that they’d attacked. Finally they could attack the enemy forces.

Javelins streaked through the sky, sailing to their targets with deadly accuracy and frightening force of impact. Morehl close enough to engage lost limbs and heads to flashes of kukri steel.

She and her calvary ducked behind the carriage housing of their battlewagons which afforded them some protection from the lava elf bullets. The warriors on foot took the worst of the attacks.

Iluchus clenched her jaw and silently berated herself. Why didn’t I send scouts ahead first? I should have expected morehl treachery!

All across the countryside, the bodies of elves and men laid strewn like chaff: her amazons peppered with wounds and leaking red, the morehl laid silent with javelins reaching skyward like standards.

The queen screamed orders at her troops. In the chaos of battle there was no way they would be heard. Her adviser would cover that.

Standing behind her, Visech waved the hand-held flags to relay her commands so she could drive. Their only hope was that the Gwich’in’s magic could upset the sudden shift in the battle’s balance.

Iluchus risked bruising her eye socket and pressed the spyglass to her face, searching for Cheyamna. Her heart sank as she watched the last of the oracle’s cadre tumble down the embankment where they’d been left; the falling man’s wrists were only bloody stumps. Two amulet-wearing trogs devoured the seer’s hands.

The queen roared, her heart twisting with grief. If the Obsidian Grotto is in league with goblins we no longer stand a chance! “New orders, Visech!”

The old man looked up and spotted the worry on her face.

“Defensive maneuvers. We’ve lost our support—Cheyamna is dead.”

“We can’t go back the way we came,” he said, eyeing the gauntlet of forces that had cut them off. Returning to Potshari to regroup was the only option to avoid total slaughter.

“It’s the long way around, then,” she hissed.

She ducked at a sound like an earthquake followed by guttural screeches overhead. Reptilian scales rained around her like hail the size of broomcorn ears. They bounced across the ground in a cerulean and onyx cascade.

High overhead, a second dragon had engaged the blue drake Cheyamna had summoned.

Iluchus spat profanities. “As if things couldn’t get worse…” She only hoped that they could somehow use the dragons’ presence to their advantage.