Helston had arranged many such assassinations and ambushes, but this meeting seemed far more portentous than most.
Necatus was a fine negotiator, a dealmaker who could sway any hardened adversary with his eloquent calculation.
In this instance, his offer was simple.
The BloodDrakes and Orcs of the Fury would furnish the Dark Elves with a magnificent battlement and encampment in the lushest quarter of the plains for the duration of the Schism if it would fight on the side of Ofren and Necatus.
Moreover, upon victory, the Dark Elves would be given dominion in the Woods as well as a share of the foodstuffs from the Shore and the minerals of the mountains.
The Dark Elves need only use their skills and knowledge of the Great Wood to unseat Glastor’s archer forces.
Helston grinned broadly; Necatus, once again, had been successful in swaying a powerful leader to his side.
Beginning that very night, the Dark Elvin forces ascended the trees of the Great Wood and began a bombardment of Glastor’s sentries.
9: The Desert Campaign
Even with the arrival of the Dark Elf contingents, the phalanx held firm, and the Great Wood stood against the unrelenting assault.
Ofren was losing hold of his senses; he had sworn to the Fury from the outset that in quick succession it would conquer the Shore, the Upper Mountains, and the Great Wood.
From there, he assumed, the sand-mages would understand their hopeless position, accept that they were outnumbered, and swear their homage to him.
Now that Ofren saw no end either to the Assault on the Wood or the battle with the phalanxes — and with Orcish strategists being slain daily by Dwarven axe in their caves — he set upon a decidedly unwise course.
From Ofren’s fevered ambition rose the idea that, should the Fury seize the desert, it could out-flank both the Woods Elves and the Shore-dwellers. It could squeeze them like a vice from both sides until they submitted.
In a rousing oration at the mead hall that bore his name, Ofren spurred his three finest Orc Generals to press into the desert, making a direct course for the encampment where the Serapat leader Qassim dwelled.
A force of Orcs proceeded with unprecedented brutality, leaving the dunes littered with the bodies of mages in its wake.
The leader of the Serapat forces, Qassim, had never bothered to meet Elghinn in the flesh. When news came that the Shore hero Astrell had sent his brother to parlay, Qassim simply ordered that the man be held captive and the dunes’ neutrality be relayed back to Astrell.
Qassim was a leader of remote and enigmatic disposition.
He would go years without speaking to a soul other than his most trusted advisors.
He believed in the quick dissemination of directives and detested the notion of a ruler interacting with his subjects.
Still, when news came of the …