"This is the way the world ended, and like grains of sand cast into the winds at Winter's Eyrie, this is the way the worlds began"
Excerpt from Wit'ch Fire's Prologue: Page 1
[Text note: The following has been determined to be an excerpt from L'orda Rosi (The Order of the Rose), written in the high Alasean tongue over five centuries before the birth of She who will be known as the Wit'ch of Winter's Eyrie.]
Midnight at the Valley of the Moon
Drums beat back the stillness of the winter's valley, snow etching the valley in silver. A hawk screeched a protest at the interruption of its nighttime nesting.
Er'ril leaned his knuckles on the crumbling sill and craned his neck out the inn's third story window. The valley floor was dotted with the fires of the men who still followed the way of the Order. So few campfires, he thought. He watched the black shadows bustling around the firelight, arming themselves. They, too, knew the meaning of the drums.
The night breeze carried the scent of oiled armor and snatches of shouted orders. Smoke from the fires reached toward the heavens carrying the prayers of the soldiers down below.
And beyond the fires, at the edge of the valley, massed a darkness that ate the stars.
The hawk screeched again. Er'ril's lips thinned to a frown. "Silence, small hunter," he whispered into the moonless night. "By morning you and the scavengers will be feasting your bellies full. But for now, leave me in peace."
Greshym, the old mage, spoke behind him, "They hold the valley heights. What chance have we?"
Er'ril closed his eyes and let his head hang lower, a sick tightness clamping his belly. "We'll give him a naught longer, sir. He may yet find a weakness through their lines."
"But the Dreadlords mass at the entrance to the valley. Listen to the drums. The Black legions march."
Er'ril turned from the window to face Greshym with a sigh and sat on the sill, eyeing the old man. Greshym's red robes hung in tatters on his thin frame as he paced before the feeble fire. The old mage, his dusty hair just wisps around his ears, walked with a bent back, his eyes red from the fumes of the hearth.
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