Shadows within Shadows

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On the other side of the portal, Shawn was met by the Redeemed commander of the rangers he had chosen for his pathfinding mission. A small company, with a handful of humans, and dark elves complimenting the primarily Redeemed unit, it was tasked with carrying the Lord Wielder of the Star Sword into the heart of the vast northern forest that covered nearly 70% of elven lands north of the Yatual.

"My lord," The commander, a capable Sylvasin that had been a member of the Redeemed gathered at Jair Kalial after Shawn's awakening, greeted the young human with a nod as she handed him a tanned leather map of the region. She spoke in Taren for the benefit of the humans in the company.

Shawn returned the greeting with a nod of his own as he accepted the map, the portal closing behind him to leave them standing alone in the forest. Giving it a quick perusal, he then looked up at the heavy foliage surrounding them. The dense trees that filled his vision lay in the southern quarter of the northern kingdom of Querilon, a Lithosin kingdom belonging to the Owl clan. 

The Ka'thesck had overrun Querilon, along with a number of Owl and Raven clan kingdoms early on in the war against the Aeshin'laur, the abandoned lands becoming a base of sorts for Gerumenum's Tjor'riin from which they struck both at kingdoms in the Shield and across the Yatual into the Sovun'chul. In the war against the Shadow, it was a logical first place to beginning his hunt.

He returned his attention to the map with a grimace as the ranger commander and her company, wrapped in shadow cloaks and camouflage waited for the signal to advance. He traced the line of the Yatual that stretched along the southern portion of the map with a gloved finger until he ran across the blue line that marked the Ven Sethadon River. It was one of the larger rivers flowing through the Evanor'ef Sylva'Beledin, the great forest north of the Yatual. He then traced upward to a series of 'x' marks inked onto the map's soft leather surface, which marked locations where the Redeemed had last encountered Ka'thesck troops. He tapped the northern most one, which marked their present location.

"Time to begin our hunt, commander," he declared, rolling up the map and tucking it into his belt even as he accepted a shadow cloak from her. She nodded in acknowledgement as Shawn put the cloak on and immediately faded into the background, turning to signal to the ranger nearest her, her hand gesture indicating they should carefully begin to move north, keeping their eyes sharp. The ranger swiftly replied with a gesture of his own communicating understanding and compliance before he turned and relayed the orders to the others. The cluster of cloaked elves began to carefully move forward, every sense alert.

Thankfully an overcast sky kept the sun from thwarting the magic of their cloaks and the rangers moved virtually unseen through the dense conifers of the Shield. Unfortunately it also kept their enemy from their eyes, hence the need for caution.

- Feel anything, Star? - Shawn silently asked the Weapon of Power strapped to his back beneath his shadow cloak. Though the sa'anish device could more effectively hide the big Wielder, he wasn't sure her energy signature would also be as easily hidden to the Kaal Eran that he suspected now guided the Tjor'riin's activities. So he used the low key elven cloaking magic instead, comfortable in its shadowy embrace from long turns spent training with it.

- Not yet, my Wielder, - the Star's voice promptly replied into his mind. - But remember the Tjor'riin could be using cloaking magic as well, especially if they do have contact with the Kaal Eran. It isn't beyond the demons' abilities. -

Shawn grunted noncommittally at that. It would be just their luck to find out that the dark soldiers had obtained such magical ability on the eve of the Final Conflict. It introduced a factor of uncertainty that made things interesting, to say the least. Pondering silently on that, he and his small company continued forward.

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