Harsov the Harsh (Chapter Twenty)
Brambleheart chortled to herself. Soon now, soon. The corpse of Ironwood was fully prepared, all it needed to animate was a spark. How delicious an irony. Her greatest foe, he who first imprisoned and then slew her, imprisoned himself inside an undead body SHE controlled. Through him she would manipulate the Guardians. With them to supplement her blood magic, she would slowly begin expanding her territory.
It would not take too much prodding to start a war against the humans. A few raids here and there, an abomination or two loosed to prey upon their farms. Before long the elven/human war would resume, and this time she would make sure no tree hugging elves remained alive anywhere! They would pay dearly for imprisoning her...oh, how they would pay!
Bladesong allowed himself a slight smile. He had decided to reintroduce the newly returned Guardians to those who had survived the ice demon battle. It had proven to be an excellent move. Morale of both parties had been at a low ebb. By uniting the forces, both sides were encouraged.
Starseeker strolled over, an odd look on his face. "So many new faces, familiar surroundings, and yet... different. Such a shame Ironwood is no longer among the living. He was a good man, known and respected by all."
Bladesong nodded slowly. "Where as I am an unknown quantity to your fellows. Perhaps they question my ability, wonder why one of your number should not take charge?"
Starseeker glanced away in embarrassment. "It shames me to admit such speech has reached my ears. I am glad to know you are aware of it."
Bladesong nodded. "It is to be expected. I was a mere youth during the Great War, not even blooded until the final battle. How could they be expected to trust my leadership? Yet being honest, our ranks are badly depleted after our recent battle against the Ice Demons. We could desperately use an influx of seasoned, battle hardened veterans."
"And we could desperately use familiar surroundings and the bond of brotherhood to aid us in adjusting," replied Starseeker. "I am sure between us we can smooth over any differences that might arise."
"Words of wisdom," Bladesong said. "We have been long separated, yet despite the gulf of years between us, we are one people. One brotherhood, always stronger united. Perhaps between the two of us we can smooth over what minor differences may arise."
Starseeker nodded as he listened, studying this man. He moved with an economy of motion. Each step was brisk, yet unhurried. Each gesture fluid, yet without excess. This would be a dangerous man to fight.
Bladesong paused, before turning to face Starseeker. "As it so happens, we currently have openings in our leadership ranks. There is no second in command, at present. Brokenbranch and I had discussed the possibility of promoting his grandson, young Harsov to squadron commander. With his exile, that rank is open as well. Perhaps you would consider stepping in as my second, and suggesting one of your rank as a squadron commander? It would be most appreciated, and I think the two of us would compliment each other well."
Starseeker studied this young, serious looking warrior a moment, before chuckling. "And such a move would go far to quell any dissent in the ranks, eh? Very well, sir, I accept. I suggest we begin training together as a unit soon. Integrating the two bands together should not prove difficult. Your men appear to be both skilled and well trained. Yet even the finest of weapons can become dull and rusty if not honed and polished."
The two men shared a true smile before strolling away together, busily discussing tactics and formations. Adriana shook her head in bemusement as she watched them depart. How did she get here? The last she recalled, she had fed little Heartsthorne, and stepped outside to look at the evening sky. The moon had been full, casting ghostly shadows among the trees. Now it was early morn, and she was standing in the Guardians' camp, with no memory of walking here.
A troubled mind can wander, leading one's body down memory's path; that much she well knew. Certainly, she had many worries to concern her. Yet she had not done such a thing as this, even during the War. She must return to Whisperwillow at once, make sure she and the baby were all right. Time enough to worry about wandering minds later.
The moon priestess withdrew her gaze, frowning. So, Lorash had not returned to Elmwood. Nor had that treacherous boy, Harsov. If not for his interference, her love would still be here by her side. She need to find, MUST find him. Yet with that damnable heartwood ring on his hand, a simple locate spell would not work.
She had thought this Adriana person would be the perfect tool. Easy enough to direct her thoughts to returning home. Simplicity itself to lead her to the Guardians' camp. Humans were so....malleable. Yet neither her love nor the annoying little moron who lured him away were there. So...if she could not track or locate Lorash, (the mere thought of him sent tingles of pleasure up and down her spine), then perhaps she could track the idiot human who stole him away from her.
Yet she had nothing of his to serve as a focus for her magic. Briskly she stalked back and forth, considering. She saw no other alternative. She must leave her enchanted woods and pursue her lover through physical means. He was her perfect mate, and she would not be separated from him.