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Whispers of Darkness HR1 February 651

Xeranth the sorcerer looked down at his hands. It seemed that the arrow had caused more harm than he had anticipated. His flesh was falling from his bones and his blood had dried up, yet he could still move as if his lost muscles were there. He had been mistaken in seeking revenge for his lost experiments, they were only beast men after all, and even the loss of a Minotaur was not too much to cause worry. His force had just been strong enough to deal with the settlement of the Stallions, mainly because of the corrupt elves that seemed to feel he was some sort of dark leader they were destined to aid. He did not think sensibly however, and when the settlement was strengthened by the forces of the Hammer wielding smith he did not recognise the threat of their numbers until it was too late. They fought off his herds and Xeranth received an arrow in the neck. He had been on the retreat for a few days now and still there were enemies dogging his rear guard. He had perhaps a few hundred of his beast folk left with him. The elves were still almost at their full strength of five hundred. He was leading his force back into the dead forest, towards the stone circle that he had found when he was young. His years of research had led him to learn of its power and how to unlock it. He would lead his army to the land he had read of those many moons ago, the place where the dwarves had killed a mountain range in their search for wealth. The force eventually arrived at the stone circle, and Xeranth rushed to its centre to begin the Rituals of Translocation. His army formed a defensive perimeter around the circle as Xeranth continued his chanting. They could smell the men and horses that pursued the remains of their army. They could hear the death screams of those who guarded the retreat.

John The Hammer Smith led his forces deeper into the dead forest. His warriors had made short work of the few dozen remaining to hold them off. Now they just had to catch up with the main force and finish off the sorcerer who led them. With him dead the magic that held his beast folk together would dissipate and they would dissolve into nothing. A light that was somehow dark shone ahead of him through the trees, more dark sorcery he thought, it must be ended. He glanced quickly at the warriors that he led to battle. They, like he, had come from humble beginnings. He was once a simple smith, but after brigands raided his village and forced his friends and family to flee he had been the only one willing to step forward and lead them to safety. He had led them many miles from their old home, and along the way his friends had turned into warriors, and he had turned into a chieftain. This was not the first battle against the evil and corrupt, and he doubted it would be his last. The trees were thinning out now, and he could see a great circle of stones ahead of him, with the dark light emanating from within. The circle was surrounded by the remains of the sorcerers army. Without wanting to lose the initiative he ordered his men to charge at once, and launched himself at the nearest Minotaur, leaving the lesser beasts for his warriors to handle. The creature was smaller than the others he had come across, but was still as deadly. It swept a huge axe at John, a swing that would have ripped him in two if he was not more agile. He rolled under the blow and crushed the beasts hip with a strong sweep of his hammer. The beast fell to its knees and with a quick strike John split its skull. He turned towards the darkness that was now almost blinding with its unnatural shine. He could see the sorcerers vile form now. The creature was man no longer, but was a skeletal form with eyes that shone with the black light. He had become a Liche. The chanting suddenly stopped, and the darkness enveloped John. He felt the ground come away from beneath him as if he was weightless. He could hear his men shouting around him in confusion. Then all the voices went silent, and all he could hear was the otherworldly laughter of Xeranth the Lichelord.

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