Year 3632, the Sixth Age, the forty-second day of Winter
The city of Lancer was encased in a cloak of white snow and the cold of Winter had firmly grasped the northern reaches of Essinendeür. Those who walked the streets on daily chores wore thick cloaks and moved about in hunched stature. The warriors from Nevārance complained continuously about the chill and wondered about this Essinendeür festival happening on the Winter Solstice. Now that the humans and Elder Races that lived in the city for years their opinions of each other had changed greatly and relationships were beginning to blossom.
But High King Gar’lin was certain to make sure those relationships remained no more than passing curiosities, and he was adamant that the blood of the Wynar was not to mix with lessor races.
Kil’dar’s hot breath fogged up the glass of the window as he looked out across the city from castle. When he arrived at Lancer this morning he had been surprised to see such change across the city and how his people had turn the place into something resembling the cities of Nevārance.
Kil’dar left the large window that stood behind the desk and chair and moved across the private meeting room of Gar’lins. He was beginning to feel impatient and irritated at the long delay. No doubt the High King had intentionally made Kil’dar wait this long in an attempt to assert his rule over him. Although Gar’lin was the High King, Kil’dar was hardly impressed by such posturing. Nor had he ever been impressed by Gar’lin, in fact the High King had a lessor blood line then himself and the only reason Gar’lin had ascended to such heights was because Gar’lin was an incredibly good fighter.
“Commander,” Gar’lin greeted as he strode through the doors, “I hope I did not keep you waiting?”
“Not at all,” Kil’dar smiled in return and bowed respectfully.
Kil’dar watched silently as Gar’lin moved through the room and sat behind the desk. Gar’lin was now nearing middle age, but the man still carried himself well and with authority. Although Gar’lin’s hair was now more white than grey and his stern face was marked with more wrinkles than Kil’dar remembered, and worry could be seen clearly behind his eyes, but the High King still cast an imposing figure.
“Have a seat Kil’dar, we have much to discuss,” Gar’lin motioned for him to sit and Kil’dar obeyed. “It has been too long since we talked and I feel you have been off your leash for longer than I would like. So tell me, how is our position with the High Commission?”
Kil’dar did not appreciate the tone of Gar’lin, but he was compelled to be courteous.
“They feed out of my hand,” Kil’dar replied, “I merely have to suggest something close to a competent idea and they jump on it like rabid dogs. And now that they have given me a seat in High Commission as Regional Commander of Cientrasis my control over them has only strengthened. Soon the Kings and Lords of each realm will be fighting amongst each other and the people will turn to the High Commission for guidance. They will take the rule of Essinendeür from the barbaric Kings and unwittingly hand it over to us.”
“How?” Gar’lin asked.
“Through the United Concord,” Kil’dar smiled, “One of my more brilliant ideas. The Peacemakers of the Concord are agents of the High Commission and are going about the lands helping the needy and weak, and when the wars break out all citizens will turn to the United Concord for aid and in turn give much more power to the High Commission.”
Gar’lin nodded slowly, his elbows resting on his desk with his finger interwoven in front of his face.
“I would like to also add another plan,” Kil’dar continued, “I believe we should allow breeding with the Elder Races, many of them can still wield powerful magicks and would prove to be a strong blood line.”
Gar’lin eyes narrowed, “You wish to dilute our Wynar blood with that of weaklings and magicks users. You disappoint me Kil’dar.”
“My Liege listen to reason,” Kil’dar replied somewhat angrily, “This land will be ours but if we do not invest in the native races the Wynar blood line will die out or the natives may unite against us.”
“This land will not be ours, not now anyway,” Gar’lin replied simply, “So no interracial breeding will be necessary.”
Kil’dar looked confused.
“This why I summoned you here,” the High King continued, “I have received communications that require us to return to Nevārance. The rebels in Syn’is have taken all control west of The Downs and are marching on Cir’ben. Our warriors are needed in our own home before we can again turn are gaze to this retched country.”
Kil’dar was perplexed, and he did not like the feeling.
“How have you come by this communication?” Kil’dar asked, “All PBE’s died along with all the brothers when Nen’on completed his Purpose and when Ne’tra failed the one I set him.”
“Do not worry I have not forgotten how you have lost our greatest assets Kil’dar,” Gar’lin narrowed his eyes, “Before we embarked on this invasion I had Programmable Biotic Entities surgically attached to my brain stem as well. I can communicate directly with my subjects in Metrā.”
Gar’lin rose from his seat, leaving Kil’dar stunned.
“So,” Gar’lin said as he walked towards the door, “All efforts are now being made to begin our venture home, and this will include you also. So resolve your plans with the High Commission and be ready to depart on word from me.”
“What?” Kil’dar said in surprise, “But how are we to return to Nevārance? It is impossible to sail to Nevārance across the Western Oceania because of the Divenarn Band. You do recall the reef of razor sharp rocks that stretch from the north all the way to great glacier in the south.”
“I am not a fool Kil’dar,” Gar’lin snapped, “Of course I know of the Divenarn Band. Nor am I fool enough to try and sail the Golden Sea and tempt its dangerous storms. We will go by the northern route, through the snow and ice.”
“Many will die on such a trip,” Kil’dar shook his head.
“No, Kil’dar,” Gar’lin shook his head, “We are the Wyner, and we cannot be killed by mere snow and cold.”
The heavy doors slammed shut as the High King left the room, and left Kil’dar still sitting with a concerned expression on his face.
It was many minutes before he also left the private room of the High King and made his way back into the city of Lancer. Pulling his fur cloak tight about his shoulders Kil’dar moved through the frozen streets as he considered what exactly had transpired. He found that he was not sure which worried him more, the fact that all efforts here in Essinendeür were to end or that the High King had undergone a very dangerous operation to enhance his mind and body. Either way he did not like how events were unfolding. He needed to regain control of things and the High King’s orders be damned.
“You took a while m’lord,” Nanil the Wood Elf greeted him as he moved into the secluded alleyway.
So absorbed in his thoughts Kil’dar stopped in surprise. The Valenthōr leaned casually against the wall of a house as she flipped a coin into the air caught it as it fell. Nanil wore simple green leaf and brown leather garments that revealed much of her skin and which was so out of place with snow falling upon her shoulders. But clearly she was not feeling the cold at all as she continued to flip the coin into the air. Nanil’s dark brown hair was cropped short and shaved even shorter from her temples and back behind her ears.
Kil’dar always subconsciously winced when he looked at the elf’s ears for the ears of a Valenthōr were usually long and delicate. But Nanil’s had been cut off leaving behind shortened stumps.
“What did that King of yours want?” Nanil asked, her dark brown eyes regarding him closely.
“Nothing that I was overly impressed with,” Kil’dar replied, overcoming his surprise. “We have some work to do.”
“As you say m’lord,” Nanil straightened and flicked her fringe from her eyes, “Where are we headed now?”
Kil’dar smiled subtlety, considering how fortunate he had been when he had met this particular Valenthōr in Pentra.
“To Elestarl, if you please,” Kil’dar smiled wider.
“You got it,” Nanil said and pocketed her coin, “Anywhere more specific?”
“Baelor’s private quarters,” Kil’dar smiled and Nanil laughed.
The Wood Elf waved her hands and the snow covered city of Lancer shattered around them and was replaced by the red stone of Baelor’s meeting room in Elestarl.
As they materialised right in front of Baelor’s desk the Blood Elf looked up from his work in surprise and his assistant screamed out. Half a second later three guards rushed through the door with their weapons in hand. Nanil spun about, two Fog glowing daggers coming to her hands and her eyes sparkling with excitement. But Kil’dar kept his cool and regarded Baelor with a bemused expression.
Remarkably the Blood Elf had kept his composure and glared at Kil’dar.
“Stand down guardsmen,” Baelor said and the three elves sheathed their swords slowly, “It is alright, you may leave, my unexpected guests are not dangerous.”
Kil’dar smiled wider.
“Fanriel, please leave us as well,” Baelor said to his assistant who was still breathing heavily in shock.
“Nanil go with Fanriel,” Kil’dar said to the Valenthōr.
Nanil grumbled quietly but she let her Fog daggers dissipate and helped Baelor’s assistant from the room.
“When did you get a Valenthōr servant?” Baelor asked coldly.
“Associate not servant,” Kil’dar clarified.
Baelor’s eyes narrowed slightly, “I suppose you have many associates now that you have taken my seat in the High Commission.”
Kil’dar smirked, “I could not resist sitting next to the beautiful Lethain Rook.”
Baelor sighed loudly, “So, to what do I owe this displeasure?” Baelor asked calmly, his pale green eyes unblinking.
“That’s a fine greeting,” Kil’dar smirked as he pulled his fur coat from his shoulders.
“How should I greet the man who betrayed my trust?” Baelor retorted, his expression still deathly calm, “How should I greet the man who did nothing while many of my kin died for a futile cause? The man who did nothing to stop the humans turning against the Elder Races more aggressively, who just now came into my house uninvited and nearly frightened my assistant to death?”
Baelor was becoming angrier as he continued, so Kil’dar quickly stopped the Blood Elf’s momentum.
“We all had to make choices,” Kil’dar cut in as he moved over to Baelor’s desk and sat down in a chair in front, “Neither of our plans turned out as hoped. But things will change, why else do you think I am here?”
Baelor scoffed, “Do you think I will trust you again?”
“I never betrayed your trust,” Kil’dar replied quickly. “Don’t reflect your own anger and frustrations onto me. I am not the one who forces your people to now live in solitude in the middle of a desert. It was not I that slaughtered the Valenthōr in Flottsome, and it is not me that kills every member of Elder Races that I can get my hands on.”
Baelor let out a frustrated sigh, “What do you want Nevārancien?”
Kil’dar smiled, “The same thing I have always wanted: to help your cause. Because helping you, helps me.”
“How does it help you?”
“That is my concern,” Kil’dar was quick to reply.
Baelor studied Kil’dar in silence for many minutes, his pale green eyes staring hard into Kil’dar’s grey orbs.
“What do you offer that will help the plight of the Elder Races?” Baelor finally asked.
Kil’dar leant forward in his chair, “I say gather your army again, establish a strong base, and when the opportunity arises strike out. Your Dun kār are causing much grief with the humans, it is time to escalate it.”
Baelor raised an eyebrow, “My Dun kār, you presume much.”
“I know much,” Kil’dar replied quickly, “There is a saying in Nevārance: Do or don’t, or die. Attack the humans, cause enough pain and suffering among them to instil a sense of fear, or they will always treat you and your kind like the scum on their boots. Stop thinking that because you live longer lives than humans you will simply outlive their prejudices. It will not happen. Take what you desire.”
“And you will help us in this?” Baelor asked sceptically, “Why?”
Kil’dar paused and took a deep breath, “I will be honest with you Baelor, for I know you will not trust me if I am false. My King, the leader of Nevāranciens has decided to have us all return back across the oceans, including myself. But I have no intention of leaving.”
Baelor regarded Kil’dar curiously, “You would go against the command of your King?”
Kil’dar nodded seriously, “Yes. The man has become more of a fool than I remembered. We Nevāranciens have invested too much in Essinendeür to leave it now, and once I am done they realise this. This is why I will aid you in your fight against the humans.”
Baelor’s brow furrowed as he continued to ponder Kil’dar’s proposal.
“We will also aid, yes we will.”
The sudden voice made both Kil’dar and Baelor jump to their feet and look about in surprise.
“It is so hot in this city,” remarked a young woman as she skipped in from the balcony.
Her straight black hair danced about her shoulders and her light dress fluttered about her thighs.
“Who are you?” Baelor asked cautiously.
“I call myself Kreha,” the girl smiled as she skipped across the room and sat down in one of the seats in front of Baelor’s desk, crossing her legs and smiling innocently.
“What are you?” Baelor asked his unease obvious.
Kreha giggled, “Clever elfsy. What we are does not matter, why we are here does.”
“We?” Kil’dar asked curiously and he glanced towards the balcony again.
“It is just me here sillies,” Kreha laughed, “But I am we. And we are I. Or is that around the other way.”
Kil’dar and Baelor exchanged worried looks, which Kreha did not miss.
Kreha’s smile suddenly turned dark and she glared at the other two in the room. Darkness seemed to creep from the shadows and Inüer’s light dulled, the very air shook in the room as Kreha continued to glare at them.
“You are in need of help, we knows, yes we do,” Kreha said, her voice dark and terrible, “So will you accept our help? We offer it freely to them. So would they refuse our kind offer? It would make us very upset if they did, yes indeed it would.”
“What help?” Baelor breathed in fear.
Kreha smiled and the darkness vanished, “We know someone who can help with bringing equality to this world.”
“Who?” Kil’dar asked warily.
“Do as you discussed,” Kreha said, “Gather your army and then take your army to Gun dürin. There you will meet someone who can show you how to take equality from the humansies and stamp your dominance upon Essinendeür.”
Kil’dar glanced nervously to Baelor and could see the Blood Elf was as uneasy as himself.
“Why Gun dürin?” Baelor asked suspiciously.
“Why not?” Kreha smiled dismissively, “You will find aid there and with the city’s history well known you will strike fear in all. We knows, yes we do.”
Baelor and Kil’dar exchanged curiously looks and Kreha sighed loudly.
“Or not,” Kreha added, “But then the Elder Races will be forever the lessor in human eyes, and all the Nevāranciens will be forced to return across the waters. Do as you like we tried to help, yes we did. Can we be blamed if they do not see our wisdom? Can’t see their own wisdom?”
Kreha looked sadly at Baelor and Kil’dar before she vanished into nothing.
Kil’dar looked cautiously around the room and back to Baelor, who wore the same perplexed expression as himself.
Kil’dar ended up smiling at Baelor, “You see I am not the only one trying to help?”
Baelor slumped back to his chair as he pondered what had just transpired and Kil’dar called out to Nanil who was quickly through the door and followed slowly by Fanriel.
“The choice is yours Baelor,” Kil’dar said as he joined Nanil in the centre of the room, “But if you ignore this opportunity, you will regret it forever. But I think you know that.”
Kil’dar left it at that and turned to Nanil, “To our next destination my friend. I think your Fog magicks may be needed this time.”
Nanil smiled and waved her hand and the red stone of Baelor’s private room shattered around them as they teleported away.