The Elves of Talthos Elea: A New Enemy

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Seredain
The Cavalry Prince
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The Elves of Talthos Elea: A New Enemy

#1 Post by Seredain »

Everybody,

Here’s a short story I jotted up (bugger all to do at work today…), which is the build-up to an upcoming battle my friend and I are having as part of a campaign. I was going to put it in the Battle Reports section but then it got... longer than planned. This campaign is one in a long series which has determined the fate of many races and characters in and around one particular area- the Massif Orcal in Brettonia. Our tales concerns the fate of the High Elves who fought to reclaim their lost city in the mountains- Talthos Elea. For details on background, see the text at the bottom (but it's a spoiler so read the story first!).

One thing I'd like to point out now (if I may), is that the name 'Seredain' was attached to the character referred to in this story before it became my online name - just so you know I'm not living some sort of fantasy wet dream through this story. :mrgreen:

Hope you enjoy.


A New Enemy


It was hot. Even for a burning Brettonian summer the heat unusually seared the skin during the day and hung heavy over the night. But there was also something new. Within the deep valleys of the Massif Orcal, thick moisture crushed the air even more and the smell of alien plants, of rot and of a forgotten age coated the land. It was not long before the High Elves of the hidden city of Talthos Elea, or the ‘Elves of the Citadel’ as their human allies had come to call them, had picked up the scent and begun searching the outer ruins of their ancient kingdom.

It did not take long to find. One patrol, among many which covered all the valleys of the southern foothills, had discovered, among the ruins of an ancient elven watchtower, a place of power. The high mage Thalias had sensed the place long before his party had found it. An ancient stone so worn it almost seemed only a boulder until the keen elven eye detected the serpents, hundreds of them coiling over the surface of the stone, gleaming, seeming to move the moment one looked away. Surrounding it there was a deep pool of water, hung about by dense fog. Around the edges of the dark water there stood strange trees with broad thick leaves and wide trunks, hung about with dripping weeds and dank smells. The local flora had either fled or been driven out and the elven ruins overrun by foreign vines. In this place the world around seemed in retreat. The air hummed. The ancient magic of the stone had awoken and had begun its advance.

That had been a month ago. Upon discovery of the place winged messengers had immediately been dispatched to the Citadel, deep in the mountains, to call for the aid of the loremasters, but no reply had been heard. Mere days after their discovery Thalias’ party of woodsmen and archers had been forced to leave the pool when the rising heat had finally become unbearable, instead setting up camp at a hidden garrison two leagues along the ancient highway which led into the mountains. This place marked the borders of their new land, so recently retaken by the Lord Seredain Urithan after a decade of bloody war with the mountain orcs and their masters.

The rangers’ house was strong and well hidden but Thalias and his elves were beginning to think they could not hold it against whatever had awoken the power of the serpent-stone. Increasing numbers of bestial cries had been heard in the night and scouts had reportedly seen huge winged creatures beating the night air. Blue lights had been seen and, in going after them, two adventurous young elves had disappeared. Their bodies had not been found but, close by, Thalias’ rangers had discovered a trace of their fate. There were crude spears embedded in a tree trunk, covered in blood. Barbed darts marked with orange feathers were strewn amidst the disturbed forest floor and lastly, in a nearby stream, a severed hand. It was massive, clawed and scaly - certainly no orc hand.

Upon receiving the discovery Thalias immediately ordered the arming of the garrison. High Elves armed with axes and mail quickly spilled out onto the ancient road and slid smoothly into ordered ranks. Before them stood Thalias’ personal retinue of a hundred archers. When the house was sealed and all was prepared, Thalias gave the order and the elves of Talthos Elea marched, in the dark of the night, down the old road toward the pool.

They never got there. They had not even made it one league before a strange croaking chatter filled the valley’s surrounding woods and was swiftly followed by a dark hail of javelins and darts. The elf axemen stood firm under their cloaks and the archers replied in kind but their targets were hidden and, clearly, in great numbers. Singing battle cries Thalias had shattered many of the creatures with bolts of pure energy but always more came. And then, heralded by the deep pounding of heavy feet, came forth the army of the Lizardmen. Scores of them surged up the old road towards the High Elves, by now desperately outnumbered. Behind them, carried on the wind, came the bellowing cries of monsters, more heavy pounding of feet and the pulsing of ancient magic.

Thalias closed his eyes for a moment and instantly saw that the enemy had come in full strength. Beyond them the glow of magical energy was immense. With horror Thalias fully realised what was happening: somehow an army was coming, and they were legion. The barbs flying from the forest surged in number. Standing at Thalias’ side, brave Withren was slain by a dart in the neck. Others quickly followed. One axeman cried out:

“Sire, what do we stand against?”

“They are the beasts of Lustria, my friends, an ancient power. We must fall back!”


Almost in one movement the elves turned and burst into full retreat. The dead were abandoned. Thalias’ magic and the arrows of the rearguard kept the advancing alien skirmishers at bay but even so the swift elves were hard pressed for much of the way as they fell back, league upon league, into the heart of Elean territory.

Before the winding forest valleys opened up into the wide plain of the interior, the party was met by mounted elven heralds: whatever messages had been sent by Thalias had somehow been intercepted, but the Loremaster Erethane had nonetheless finally become fully awakened to the danger, having sensed its power even from the hidden city itself. Seredain Urithan was fighting in the North and much of the army with him, but even now Commander Azrael approached with Talthos Elea’s territorial vanguard.

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And the greeting was warm indeed! Azrael and his contingent, a host of some few thousand elves bearing silver spears, great swords and axes, and marching alongside outriding heavy horse and a number of chariots and light wagons (soon to be assembled into deadly artillery), had surged into the plain and instantly begun battle preparations. The excitement was palpable. The sound of metal on metal rang out as warriors trained and readied their gear. Hundreds of voices were raised as great war stories and tragedies of passed heroes were sung to the starry heavens. Laughter rang out in the hills even as the steady boom of foreign drums began to slowly fill the plain from afar.

Azrael, commander of infantry, vaulted down from an advancing chariot of golden wood and bronze and strode toward Thalias, arms out stretched. He was a noble figure, tall and strong, with golden hair and flashing eyes. He carried a long axe on his back and a gleaming bow at his side, clearly no ordinary weapon. The mage stood up from the make-shift table where his weary companions were receiving food and drink, and stepped forth to meet the young warrior.

“Hail Azrael, commander of the first wall and warden of the outer marches”.

“Hail, my brother!”


The commander gripped the mage firmly by both shoulders.

“I am glad to see you indeed, after so long a summer. I had heard that you fought mightily against the orcs in the North and I wished to offer you my hearty congratulations in person. I am very glad to do so at last.

The mage gave a short nod.

“The land is finally ours, once again. Even the humans, as we speak, prepare a treaty and great celebration welcoming their new friends and allies to these once evil hills. But why so glum, friend? For I hear there is more work to be done down in these valleys of yours?

Clearly he had not heard the nature of what had been found.

“Dear cousin and soldier of the creator, there is something you must know, something perhaps the Loremaster Erethane himself does not know.” The tall elf caught his friend’s eye and was no longer smiling. He lent forward:

“Let us walk, brother”. As they did so, Thalias continued his tale, quietly and slowly. The distant drums were louder now.

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“And so we are here, alone, with only you to save us.

Azrael seemed about to speak but the mage gripped his hand:

“Please listen, brother. We are alone here. You know that the Lord Urithan is committed against the orcs in the North and the tower lies all but defenceless. Behind me are thousands of these creatures, soon I am sure to be tens of thousands. You have not met them before, though I have, and they are terrible to behold. They do not waver and there is no reason to be found in their minds; no negotiation to be had. Their soldiers are born for war and they bring with them terrible monsters and powerful, ancient magic. Yes Azrael, they have a sorcerer with them and his power is very great. I do not know how they came by our land here, though it must be some kind of portal and surely be linked with the object I described to you. I do know that, whatever it is they have come for, they intend to claim it from us. I have read them as well as I am able. They think we are thieves.

Azrael’s eyes darkened: “Thieves! Our great citadel has stood in this land for thousands of years. It is our birthright. We have all fought and died to claim it once again for the glory of the Pheonix Crown, friends of yours and mine. These beasts have no claim to what is ours.”

“But I fear there is a far older claim on this place than ours, brother. If we choose to stand then we must do so in the knowledge that we may face an implacable foe and-”

Azrael cut him off: “So be it. They will find the Elves of Elea ready to defend their home. As you say the tower is weak. We must hold out until Seredain is able to return to us.”

He turned and called out for messengers. Within moments two elves on fine bay steeds had thundered forth to meet them. The noble greeted them: “Gilhanth and Alwyn, brave elves of Chrace and the tower of Elea!” They dismounted and bowed low. A dull white light flashed in the dark as Thalias transmitted some thought to parchment. The scroll rolled and bound itself before gliding to Azrael’s outstretched hand. He passed it to the messengers:

“Take this to our Lord Seredain. We need his aid and soon. It is imperative that you not fail, noble sons of Elthwe. Ride the wind for the safety of our city and all of Elea will owe you thanks!”

Without a word the two elves mounted their steeds and were gone into the dark of the North-West. Back in the East, the sky was lightening. Great winged silhouettes soared over the horizon. Azrael turned once more to his old friend:

“You and I shall hold the road until our lord reinforces us. You must know that this will take him several days. Have we time?

I do not know, brother. I believe the enemy has yet to arrive in full strength, but certainly we will face a considerable force today. Someday soon we must shut whatever kind of portal has opened here or perhaps lose our land. I am certain that, to do this, we will need great force. Until that time comes, however, our duty is clear.”

“Indeed it is, old friend!”


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As dawn broke slowly over the Eastern hills, Commander Azreal strode forth and mounted his chariot. The light which had crept over the hills gleamed on his raised great axe and shining mail:

“Elves of Ulthuan and Elea, warrior kin and sons of the Tower!”

His voice boomed and carried to every ear of his force, for he was a soldier born on the crashing northern shores of far-off Ulthuan, heir to a line of Elean nobles and a born leader of elves. A great shout arose from the assembled host even as the dark forms of alien warriors began to enter the far side of the plain.

“The great armies of our people shall envy us this day. It has fallen to you, children of the sword and spear, to halt the march of these beasts from foreign lands, who would take from you your rights of conquest, who would snuff out the light of our long-lost home! Today you face the vanguard of a great enemy- a true test of your skills!

More cheering greated this, for the warrior-elves of Elea were eager for battle:

“As one we shall stand and turn back this tide, and I first among you. Give thanks to the War God and the Great Creator, and pray that we may be blessed by the light of our people and the blood of our enemies! Hail Khaine!”

A great roar arose from the long lines of the elven army. Swords, spears and axes flashed in the rising sun as the regiments beat them into the sky. Thalias looked on at the mighty spectacle and pride swelled his heart. Azrael, now wearing a tall silver helmet topped with a flowing red crest, had now dismounted his chariot and finally taken his place at the forefront of a great phalanx of elven spears, the troops hailing him with war songs.

Even from this distance, Thalias could see that he was smiling again. And laughing too, teeth bared.


to be continued…



Background

So continues a campaign currently being waged by my friend and I. His lizardmen are hunting a long-lost artefact hidden in territory in and around the Massif Orcal. This territory had been recovered by my High Elves in their quest to reclaim and recolonise their ancient home. The city is Talthos Elea - a citadel hidden in the mountains of the Massif Orcal which, protected by magic, was hidden from the rampaging orcs when the High Elf armies left the Old World after the War of the Beard.

To get the city back my elves, under their leader Seredain Urithan (hence my name), had to march across Brettonia, through several armies raised against me by foolish human nobles, and then wage war against vast orc and goblin tribes led by a Black Orc called Gnashrak who occupied the mountains. The power of these tribes finally forced the Brettonians into an alliance with the High Elves and also brought some limited contact with the elves of Loren.

The leader of the enemy, Gnashrak, was fatally wounded by Seredain in the battle which secured the city for the elves, but he was then taken and forged into a half-robotic Demon/Orc by a Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer Lord called Zotchaz, a corrupted Rune Lord who’d actually been defeated by the High Elf armies under the command of Seredain’s father, Urithan - the first lord of Elea- during the War of the Beard. Urithan himself was slain by the Dwarfs and it is rumoured that, when the City of Elea is threatened with destruction, his great dragon Tar-Lathan will re-emerge from his caves beneath the city and save the elves. Loremaster Erethane, archmage and Seredain’s great mentor, is trying to discern the truth of this legend. We’ll see what turns up.

After his defeat Zotchaz hid in the Grey Mountains and plotted his revenge, steadily corrupted by evil and magic. Upon the return of the elves under Seredain, and by now very evil and messed up, Zotchaz is using the tribes of Gnashrak as his pawns to wage war against the elves. The war has not been going well (continuous victories for me), so he’s provoked the Lizardmen from nearby Albion (where they have some strength), by desecrating one of their ancient artifacts. The Lizardmen think the elves have done this. In turn the elves have no idea that Zotchaz is behind the whole thing and are quite willing to kill the Lizards invading their new home.

Zotchaz’s plan is to get the elves and lizards to weaken each other while he gathers his strength for a final assault, which will include vast numbers of orcs, chaos warriors and chaos dwarfs (slowly gathered and corrupted in his lair over the centuries). We’ll see what happens there…

We’ve only fought the first skirmish in the Lizard/High Elves section of the campaign - the story at the beginning of my piece - in which a small number of High Elves tried and failed to get to the Lizards’ portal to close it down (they were never going to manage that, but at least I got some intel).

Battle 2 is the clash of the Vanguards, the beginning of which is where we left our story. My friend and I hope to play the battle (1500 pts) soon and then hopefully I’ll update the story and add a battle report. It’s been a while since I did this kind of thing and it’s actually been quite a lot of fun!
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Nicanor
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2015 4:34 pm

Re: The Elves of Talthos Elea: A New Enemy

#2 Post by Nicanor »

Re reading stories from years ago, 15years about, I wonder what happened. Did the lizardmen triumph? Did the chaos dwarfism plans come to fruition? Or were the elves wise enough to discern their true enemy?
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