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The Northern Wars

by Kelson Hayes 6 months ago in Fantasy

The Tundra


Spring, 1E78

The days turned to weeks following the initial onset of Aenor's eastern expedition, but still the elves who survived their harsh welcome continued to plod along aimlessly through the tundra where they found themselves. Spring was already upon them, though the members of the exploration party were unaware of it; the season had made its transition without any noticeable change to the weather or climate. What they had managed to keep of their supplies following their arrival upon the barren shores had dwindled despite their best efforts to make them last, though after some time they spotted a distant town on the barren horizon.

“Before getting your hopes up, brace yourselves! This is a wretched and abominable land from what we've seen so far; who knows what monstrosities lay in wait there?” one elf spoke up as hopeful murmurs began to ripple through the company.

“Still, what other hope do we have?” Sendarin rebutted, “Our supplies have diminished and we are nearly wiped out. We'll either stumble upon much needed supplies and food stocks, enemies, both, or surely we'll have found a safe place to rest in this inhospitable wasteland.”

“We’re all that’s left of the expedition- our job was simply to scout these lands and report back our findings…” another elf voiced himself uneasily.

“So what would you suggest? That we go back the way we came with nothing to show for- die to the beasts that devoured our kin?” Isalé answered back harshly.

“There’s no point in talking; what else can we do but continue on? We cannot go back and this village awaits us. If we fail they’ll send more, but in the meantime brace yourselves.” The first elf concluded with conviction. With nothing more to say, the Aenorean survivors continued onward in silence, trekking along towards the distant village as quickly and stealthily as they could so as to avoid arousing the attention of it’s inhabitants. The midday sun rose and set before they drew near enough to see that it was populated with certainty. Lamps and torch-lit windows glinted in the dark of the night and the village was like a lone beacon in the isolation of that abominable wasteland beneath the starry sky.

There were nearly a dozen survivors left amongst those who’d initially undertaken the Eastern voyage, though that didn’t deter them from the endeavour at hand. Creeping upon the outskirts, they drew their arms as they encroached upon the edge of the surrounding darkness around the dim illumination of the torchlight. All was quiet and still throughout the town as it’s inhabitants slept through the night, or so it seemed to the elves as the crept along between the outermost shacks houses towards deeper into the village centre. Taking care not to make a sound as they snuck along, the elves made their way through the streets clinging to the shadows as they kept close to the walls that lined the zig-zagging alleys on either side. Every so often they could hear what sounded like the cautious footsteps of a night watch, though the elves took care not to give their presence away for fear of what might be awaiting them in that abominable place.

“Stay close to me, my dear; I can’t bear to lose you again- not after all that we’ve lost already…” Sendarin murmured, reaching out to clasp his wife’s hand as he drew her closer to him.

Making their way into the heart of the slumbering town, they spotted a grisly sight ahead. Holding their breath as they crept up, they stumbled upon what appeared to be crudely constructed meat racks hoisting prisoners up with their ribs splayed like a bird’s wings mid-flight. The gruesome sight was accompanied by wooden cages containing live prisoners that hissed and clamoured as the elves came upon them. Seeming to be no more than misfortunate wildmen, the Aenorean survivors approached the caged tribals, busying themselves with setting the task of setting the barbarians free. Sawing at the ropes that held the wooden stakes together, the first pair of elves to break free the door let out a gasp of agonising shock as the wildman inside leapt upon the nearest elf, taking his blade and slitting the elf's throat before lunging at his companion. Several other prisoners had manage to break free of the weakened cages even as the elves' attention turned towards their dying fellows.

The commotion had drawn the attention of the village's sleeping inhabitants, drawing the nearest to the elves out from their houses where they proceeded to cry out an alarm. The villagers looked no different than their imprisoned wildmen- dirty and unkempt in their own appearance and garbed in heavy furs and leather. The elves attempted to fend off the attacking prisoners they’d freed even as the tribal wastelanders began to pour out of their houses into the snowy night outside. Seeing no hope in standing their ground, the remnants of the Aenorean expedition turned and fled with the tribal village's attention torn between them and the escaped prisoners.


About the author

Kelson Hayes

Kelson Hayes is a British-American author and philosopher, born on 19 October 1994 in Bedford, England. His books include Can You Hear The Awful Singing, The Art of Not Thinking, and The Aerbon Series.

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