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A handful of figures abruptly staggered into view out of the swirling dust as if in answer to his hoarse question, two of them carrying limp bodies in their hands. The figures quickly resolved themselves into weary and battle-worn dark elves, their once-proud leathers torn and tattered. Every one of them bore wounds resulting from the explosion in addition to those garnered in the fierce battle to hold the enemy back from the pen entrance.

It was the team sent to hold the entry until the rest of the company could win their way free! Will desperately searched the bruised and fatigued faces with his eyes. Sauralin had been sent there by Fjendin to plant the crystal and join the defenders in their rearguard action. She had to be one of the survivors. They hadn't come this far together for her to die now!

But he found himself thwarted when none of the faces he examined belonged to the lithe dark elf commander that had seen them safe through eastern Talemon and into the Gyren since the Pass of Horns. Had she fallen in the battle for the entryway? Did she now lay beneath a great mass of rock and rubble that surely filled the arched passage thanks, in part, to the massive explosion that nearly tore the walkway from its anchors? Even now its wild oscillations were barely beginning to ebb, forcing any standing on its deck to struggle to keep their balance.

A wave of relief quickly pushed aside the despair that threatened to well up and overwhelm him when he noticed the lead warrior carried an unconscious Sauralin in his arms. Other than a great bruise on the side of her forehead, perhaps marking where a piece of falling stone, or a sharp blow had landed to render her unconscious, she appeared unhurt. At least she was still breathing.

<<Leftenant!>> Fjendin barked tightly, eyes hard as the battered warriors approached. <<You were supposed to hold the entrance until you received the signal from either the Lord Wielder or myself.>>

<<Dark magic collapsed the entryway around us, general,>> the addressed officer replied. It was he who carried Sauralin. <<We were forced to withdraw by a force much greater than ourselves. The entryway, and nearly all of our company, were lost. These are all that are left. We tried to hold ... urk!>>

The battered officer suddenly stumbled, a look of pain flitting across his face. Then he was falling forward to spill Sauralin onto the deck of the walkway, slumping over her unmoving body. It was then that a stunned Will and Fjendin saw the arrow jutting out from between his shoulder blades, buried deep enough to reach his heart. A heartbeat later they looked up at the roar that rose out of the dust hiding the destroyed entryway and felt cold ice trickle down their spines to see a host of tjor'riin, trolls and Nahkiwin charging towards them, weapons raised.

"Looks like the entryway wasn't closed after all," Will hoarsely whispered, vaguely wondering if he should bother lifting his weapon against such odds.

"Apparently not," Fjendin grated as she raised her sword to the ready, shaking off her astonishment. To her there was no question of whether she would resist or not. She was a dark elf: she would resist until she was dead. Behind her the other two dark elf warriors did the same, grimly preparing themselves for the final charge.

The enemy mass hadn't gone more than a handful of paces, however, before they were suddenly brought to a halt by a ripple of magic that passed across the walkway only a stride in front of them. The lead dark soldiers slowed, hesitation open on their faces as they felt the magic's power wash over them. Then they were howling in agony as a wall of pure flame surged up from where the magic had drawn, enveloping the front portion of the crowd before they could halt themselves. The entire leading rank was consumed in an instant, turned to ash by the power of the searing barrier.

Sons of Ironstorm - Book 2: Griffon's CallWhere stories live. Discover now