The road outside of Colhen
Six days before the Burning
The uncaring stars burned in the night sky over the road outside of Colhen, a dusty trail that led from the small town to the large city of Rocheste. In a ditch alongside the road, two figures struggled. One of the combatants, a man in a dark cloak, was grappling with a muscular figure. The dark fur and muzzled face of the other revealed that it was a Fomor, and an angry one at that.
The man in the hooded cloak avoided the Fomor’s blows, the knife in his hand flashing; with one swift motion he buried it in his opponent’s neck. There was an animal-like scream and a gout of black blood jetted from its neck, covering the man’s front. As the gnoll sank to its knees, its life pumping from the jagged tear in its throat, a slow, sarcastic clap filled the darkness.
The cloaked figure looked up. A man was approaching: tall, elegant, and blonde, he seemed to carry a mysterious light with him.
“You’re getting old,” Brynn said, walking slowly toward the man in the cloak. Nyle wiped disgustedly at the blood that covered his clothes. “I’ll have to be much older before I fall to a single gnoll,” he said. He turned his back on the still-twitching creature and fell into step beside the magician.
“You were out at the Temple again?” Brynn asked.
Nyle nodded and his face took on a faraway look. “It comforts me to be there, somehow. At times it’s almost like I can hear Her singing to me…”
Brynn snorted. “Morrighan’s not there you know,” he said. “I’m beginning to doubt She ever was.”
Nyle’s expression darkened, and he pulled a well-balanced throwing dagger from somewhere in the depths of his cloak.
“It’s amazing She ever accepted your kind into the Brotherhood. The Paladins' faith has always been weak. The Dark Knights are the true keepers of Her flame.” Nyle said. The knife flashed through the air and buried itself in the ear of a hunched gnoll that had been creeping through the underbrush. They could hear the padded feet of more gnolls, approaching quickly.
“Does it matter?” Brynn said. “She told us to work together. ‘Light is not Good. Dark is not Evil.’ Our kinds have been joined at the hip ever since.”
The two men shifted into fighting stances even as their conversation continued. “I came to tell you about Tieve. She was late to work today. She said she overslept.”
Nyle’s eyebrows rose. “Tieve never oversleeps. She can’t
. As an Oracle she’s completely in tune with the rhythms of the world. She sleeps when she wishes and wakes when she wishes.”
“There is one way,” Brynn said. A pack of baying gnolls broke from the forest and caught sight of the men. Blood-curdling howls rose to the sky. “You know what it is.”
“Already?” Nyle said. “It’s too soon. The mercenaries are not ready. There’s not one among them who can handle the truth of the Brotherhood.”
“I don’t think we have a choice,” Brynn replied. He glanced back at Colhen with sadness in his eyes. “The Burning is coming, Nyle. We’ve always known our situation was temporary. We need to find ones willing to accept the Dark and the Light. It doesn’t matter if they’re ready. The Brotherhood must be reformed.”
Nyle sighed. The gnolls were almost upon them. “You’re right,” he said. “We’re going to need them. If Tieve’s time has come, we’re already behind.” He grabbed the shoulders of the lead gnoll, and with an almost casual brutality, swept the gnoll’s legs out from under it and stomped hard on its neck. There was a sickening crack and the gnoll grabbed its crushed throat, thrashing about as it struggled to breathe.
Brynn nodded as a bolt of light left his fingers and enveloped another gnoll in flames. The fire was an unnatural shade of blue, and shone almost white. “I am right,” he said. “And I pity the new Brothers for what they shall have to face.”
Get back to the battle!