Felder was sent from Fjellhiem, with a host of scouts and messengers to secure an area within the Mouth suitable for the army to dig in and occupy in the weeks to come. He and his comrades were to be on the alert for the hosts of the Lyktalfar, the Svartalfar and Dwarves and to guide them to that area. The area they’d chosen was ideal. It was expansive, well hidden and defensible. They’d taken to calling it Battlestead. Within a week the arrivals were setting up camp and settling in. The Dwarves, Light Elves and Dark Elves had arrived en masse. Unanticipated groups from many surrounding towns and farmsteads were arriving in increasing numbers every day. The army was assembled for the most part and now it was the business of Felder and his companions to guard the perimeters and interrogate all new arrivals.
Smuntley’s early warning system worked like a charm. All were ready to depart and naturally Gronn was the first to flip the switch indicating his army was ready to move. Soon all were on the road to the rendezvous. Within three weeks time, there was an army of forty five thousand at Battlstead and the force from Fjellhiem and Fam Moor had not arrived yet. That compliment would swell their ranks to nearly eighty thousand and they were within two days of reaching the Mouth.
A large pavilion was erected for the members of the war council. It was a Spartan affair, several tables placed end to end surrounded by wooden benches and chairs. Comfort was not a consideration. Until the war was either won or lost, it would be all business from here out.
Faracayne had been flying reconnaissance since the troupes began arriving at Battlestead, his keen predator’s sight surveying all he overflew. He’d been dining on trulls and goblins and had valuable information as to the strength and position of the Doden’s armies. Now he was aware that Krawnholde had been breached and the information needed to be brought to the commanders at the Mouth immediately.
By now the trull and goblin armies were aware that there was a dragon in the area but they had no idea that this one siding with the enemy. They’d done almost no reconnaissance of their own in all the time they were involved in the siege and there was absolutely no intelligence network so as far as they knew, they were largely unopposed. They’d certainly met no resistance from the villages and farmsteads they’d encountered on the long trek from their northern homelands and therefore assumed the local inhabitants were terrified of them. This was the height of arrogance. Of course Doden had had communication from Inzveer that there was some mobilization at Fjellhiem but the draugs were intent on one thing, capturing Garr. They failed to research the scope of the happenings there and completely missed the camp at Fam Moor. Now they knew that Garr’s trail had gone cold and they were making a beeline for Krawnholde to take command of the trull army.
At heights almost unimaginable, Faracayne coasted and banked on the thermals as a being without a care in the world. From this altitude he could easily see over the shelter of the rolling hills of the Mouth to the gathered host of Battlestead and was impressed at the way the army was growing. To the east, beneath clear dawn skies, was approaching another group. Banking left, he decided to check this new group out. He knew it was probably the host from Fjellhiem and the moor but it didn’t pay to be over-sure. He spiraled down toward the westerly bound host and as soon as he was spotted there went up a great cheer. When he landed he was hailed by Vorm, Half and Axel and their captains.
“Well met, Sir Dragon,” said Vorm.
“Indeed,” Faracayen returned. “I saw you from a distance and figured if you were trulls, I’d harass you. As it is, I’ll guide you in. You’re only a matter of miles from the rest of the host. We are a force to be reckoned with, I can tell you that.” They started off again with renewed vigor and by late afternoon the host was settling in and the war council reconvened.
Vorm was glad to have the council together again. He approached Kings Tallon and Ganzul. “Gentlemen,” he said raising his stein and was toasted in kind. “Has there been any word of Garr’s group?”
“Alas, not yet.” Said Ganzul. “They are as yet the only missing puzzle piece. They’ve been much in my thoughts these past weeks. When Garr revealed his vision of Guntar and his message of the Torque, we were imbued with such hope. I’ve had much time to think on it since then and I wonder if we weren’t chasing dreams.”
“I daresay we were and are still chasing dreams.” Tallon agreed “But is that not what life is about? We’ve taken on so much risk already because a hostile race has threatened our dreams and look what we’ve achieved. Their task was never going to be an easy one…” he chuckled. Chasing off to a monster’s graveyard in the hopes of retrieving a magical trinket and no one seems to be sure even what it’s for. I trust the mage and the Sverdmester and they have reposed great trust and hope in Garr. From what I’ve come to know of the lad, that faith is well placed.” There were nods of agreement.
“Still,” said Vorm, “I’ll sleep much better when they’re safe and accounted for.”
The next morning, Faracayne was flying vigilantly when he spied another group coming from the direction of Fjellhiem traveling west across low hills at the far western end of Fam moor. As he overflew the group they took a defensive stance pointing knocked arrows and spears skyward. They were no trulls or goblins but he did not recognize them and rather than panic them further, he thought it prudent to bring them to the attention of Felder and his force of perimeter guards and outriders.
“If they keep on their present heading, they’ll be here by tomorrow early afternoon.” He told Felder. “They have a number of horses but most are on foot. I don’t know what they’re about but they’re maybe two thousand strong. If I were you I wouldn’t take too large a force.”
Felder grinned and rubbed his chin, “Yes, well I’m not a big strong dragon and I don’t want to be overpowered by brigands or gypsies if that’s what they are, but I do see your point. I don’t want to come off as unnecessarily warlike, if that is not their intent, but I have no word of these newcomers. What I’ll do is take a thousand men, half their number, and meet them at Pembroke Pass and that way we’ll have the high ground. If I want to do that I must leave an hour ago.
“Go,” said Faracayne and launched into the air.
Felder had one hundred warriors on horseback clogging the pass. The rest of his men were very visible indeed in the crags above the pass, bows and arrows trained on the pass below.
The approaching force stopped a good way off as soon as they saw the horsemen blocking their way. Before long every man with a horse from the approaching force was riding toward Felder and his men. The warrior in the lead was a monster of a man on a massive black shag-footed dray horse. The archers in the rocks were not lost on him. They stopped fifty feet off and sat still…waiting.
Felder dismounted and withdrew his axe from his belt and approached. “Announce your intentions, stranger.”
“Why are you demanding intentions and not I? What puts you at that advantage, might I ask?” The man dismounted and began to advance. He was the tallest man Felder had ever seen and he had everything he could do to remain calm.
“I represent the army of the free races. We are forming up southwest of here. Friends are welcome…foes will be dealt with.”
The man strode forward to tower over Felder, hands on his hips. “Then I see we are well met, lad. We come to serve the new King. I and my men have sworn him fealty. Garr Bloodaxe. We are called the Lynndahler 1800.” He held out his hand and Felder received it. His hand was swallowed up. He looked the man in the eye and said. “You are most welcome indeed. Bring your men. We’ll guide you in.”