The Rich Quarter
D'lorandal the Shadow Weaver was worried. Normally he was able to exude an air of imperturbability, one of the earliest skills taught in the magic halls of Saphery. He recalled his Sang-froid Master telling him as an apprentice that outward calmness was worth at least ten illusionary spells. But today his mask was slipping. D'lorandal was not sure if the winds of magic were particularly light around this cursed city but he had noted that as he travelled further and further east with this ostensible poet he had been less able to conjure even the slightest cantrip.
The elven assembly found themselves in what was once a well to do part of Mordheim. All around them signs of decaying wealth lay strewn like discarded party favours after a ball. Ganazel muttered to himself about a book of lost verses. He seemed to be trying to rhyme the word orange by using a little known dialect of northern Ulthuan. Tanithil glanced casually at his leader, his obsessive compulsion was becoming stronger as the months passed, it was becoming unseemly. Almost un-elf like. Tanithil pushed these thoughts out of his mind.
“Hark my fair brothers, an unknown quarry is nigh” came the battle cant from one of the scouting spearmen ahead.
Ganazel instantly stopped muttering to himself as he dropped his versification and assumed a more comfortable and familiar lying puma skirmish stance.
“Respond with unbiased appraisals my honorable kin” he battle canted back.
“A chance encounter, their numbers are a little more than our own”, came the response.
“We will meet them where their numbers cannot be applied against us. Head for that overpass where we will form the overlapping dragon’s claw.”
Ahead of the Poet’s Congregation ran the hairiest man D'lorandal had ever seen, well to be fair he reflected, they all seemed rather hairy in these parts. With a twist of his mind and a snap of his fingers D'lorandal consigned the hairy man to oblivion.
In fact, the man seemed to become hairier as he chanted at the top of his lungs a guttural prayer. Before their eyes the man’s silhouette appeared to overlap with that of a giant wolf.
“Shape changer” cried Ganazel, “Stop him before he transforms.”
A rain of arrow shafts flicked out from the overpass where the elves had gathered. At the base of the stairs the Congregation’s spearmen awaited, trusting their brothers’ keen eyes and swift bows. The wolven silhouette fell away as the man was stuck in the back of the leg by one of the arrows. He cried out and fell to the ground before being finished by a second arrow to the neck.
Whilst their attention had been on the shape shifter the rest of the opposing warband had found its way up to the overpass which the elves occupied. Two men ran ahead of the rest of their party, one armed with a flanged metal pipe which had a wooden butt at one end, the other with two smaller metal pipes. D'lorandal recalled that the denizens of this foul continent fooled with the uncouth and rather dangerous black powder weapons of the dwarven race.
“My steadfast liege, those are foul dwarven lead spitters” cried D’lorandal, “we must stop them”.
“We have the nearest one” replied Ganazel, “you must call upon your thaumaturgy to remove the other”
D’lorandal knew that now he had nowhere to hide. He would be exposed as a charlatan, a hedge wizard, nothing more than a brewer of love potions. He closed his eyes and urged the winds of magic to answer his heed. Deep from within he called upon his own well of hatred, a place that few high elves dared to look. Shadows started to coalesce around the feet of one of the men. D’lorandal opened his eyes and saw the fear he felt at his own untapped rage in the eyes of the swain who held the flanged weapon. The shadows pulled at the now faltering man grasping at his weapon and clawing at his face. With a soundless implosion, he ceased to be. However, the shadows rejected the black powder weapon and it exploded in a rumbling cloud of billowing smoke. At the same time six arrows raced towards the second thug who threw himself to the floor. Not a single arrow pierced his body.
Ganazel and Tanithil stared at D’lorandal, a hash rebuke followed “Your incantation seems to have caused us to miss my Saphery brother.”
But to D'lorandal’s ears it was sweet music as he confirmed within himself that once again he commanded the winds of magic. Even if it was somewhat concerning about the nature of the spell he had called forth.
The throng of men charged at the elves. Ganazel knew that now was the time to spring the overlapping dragon’s claw. With a single battle hand sign the two bow elves at the front of the party flipped behind them, the awaiting spear elves darted up the stairs and placed themselves at the fore of the battle. With planted spears the elves braced for the charge. One of the men ducked under the lead spear and felled an elf with his war hammers. A second man impaled himself in the shoulder as his momentum carried him forward. Even though Ganazel couldn’t tell one human from another this one appeared familiar. Perhaps this was the man at the fighting pits he had lost five silver pieces over.
Another wolf sprung at the elven party from behind, its red eyes firmly fixated on D’lorandal’s throat. Tanithil dove over the low wall and plunged his knife into the pelt of the wolf which gave a short bark before running for the door. Tanithil wiped his dagger on his kid leather britches and saw the rest of the human war band running for cover.
This chance encounter was over almost before it began.
“Onwards my dearest brethren” said Ganazel, “I sense the book I seek is just beyond this doorway.”
The elves moved into a musty room which had once been a private library of a wealthy citizen of Mordheim before the accursed meteor struck. The library had fared little better than the rest of the city as the many shelves lay in a jumbled heap. Most of the books were rotten beyond reclaiming, their pages rent and ink faded.
“Here it is, a tome of poetry beyond the ken of ordinary mortals.” Ganazel reached down and picked up the book he sought. “What, this cannot be. I refuse to believe this. Nooooo” cried Ganazel.
Tanithil looked over his battle master’s shoulder in alarm at the book he held. The title of the book caught his eye “The complete works of Shake a Spear, a gobbo’s guide to words n stuff.”
As the sun rose over the miasmic dawn Ulric awoke to find himself with a familiar pain in his head. As he lay on the bed of mouldy straw he had time to think to himself.
Yes, he thought, I absolutely hate elves.