10: The BloodDrake Contingent
Ofren was enraged by this turn of events.
Orcs of the caves knew of the dunes-mages only through rumor and legend. This incursion of the Fury into the sand was proving as costly as the assaults in the Wood and the Shore.
In fact, those latter two campaigns were growing progressively worse with the arrival of the Human wizards of Serapat.
Ofren turned once again to the BloodDrake who had brought him the Dark Elves, Necatus.
Ofren the Bold had the bloody will never back down from a fight, but his forces would surely have been decimated if not for the pragmatism of the BloodDrake strategist.
Necatus had for weeks been receiving reports of spies within the Shore regiments and knew the location of Astrell’s personal squadron.
His recommendation to Ofren was simple: he and a small contingent of BloodDrakes would make their way to this squadron and dispatch the leader of the Alliance.
Once the head is struck, the body would fall.
Necatus and his regiment arrived by night at the site of Astrell’s camp.
They quickly and quietly killed the night guard and then Necatus stepped into Astrell’s tent. Astrell called in his first lieutenant — who, unbeknownst to Astrell, had been feeding the Fury information of their movements for months — and ordered him to give word the entire squadron should lay down their arms. Astrell proposed a single bout of combat twixt him and Necatus, Fury magic versus Alliance steel.
Necatus hesitated not a second but accepted.
The duel was held at dawn on the shore of the realm. It was witnessed by one BloodDrake and one Astell’s first lieutenant.
The Astrell and Necatus fought for three days and three nights, neither tiring nor showing advantage.
On sundown of the third dawn, though, the man and Blookdrake rested between bouts, each returning to his second for sustenance.
Astrell’s second, the deceitful lieutenant, gave the shoresman a glass of brandywine laced with hemlock.
As Astrell and Necatus met again for the next bout, Astrell fell to his knees, overcome by the fast poison. Astrell gasped, and Necatus put a foot on his neck.
Underfoot, Astrell coughed, spraying blood from his lungs with each of his last words, and those last words would ring through the whole of this land.
Facing the great boat to the other side of life, Astrell, looked to the summit of Mount Cormast — the highest mount in the whole of the Midgard ranges — and breathed two last words: “They come.”
Necatus was impassive at these words.
They come? He did not understand the dire warning that he alone had been made privy to.
Whatever providence allowed the virtuous Astrell to see the approaching cataclysm was not sufficient to save the many thousands who were to perish three days hence.
The Fury’s victory, too, was to be short-lived, for their blood-spattered Orc leader would too fall, not to human blade or illness, but at the talons of one of the great serpents that rose … but I am getting ahead of myself, friends.