Glade Lord Arteamus stood in the branches of a chestnut oak at the edge of the forest, gazing out across the field which had been burned the day before by an Orc warband. The Orcs were burning indiscrimately, and a sacred glade just beyond the field had been desecrated by the greenskins. Those standing stones had to be recaptured and restored, blessed by the magic channeled by the senior Spellweaver in the forest. The goal was clear.
Spellweaver Synclaire stood near the base of the oak when the Glade Lord dropped down from the branches. She gestured toward him, holding an arrow in her hand. “I’ve cast powerful magic on the arrows of our Glade Guards,” she explained. “And this one, in particular, has been enchanted to bring down the Orc chieftain. I know what must be done, and I am determined to do it myself. Please, Arteamus, allow me to lead the expedition to recapture the sacred stones.”
He thought for a moment, considering he should lead the force himself, complete with his personal company of Eternal Guards. But she would need to visit the glade herself, after all–after the battle to drive off the orcs–and she was eager to prove her martial skills and leadership. She was young, relative for an elf, although she was profoundly talented for magic, especially that of the darkness. He nodded, indicating she could lead the group herself.
She smiled slightly, bowed, and withdrew from his presence to assemble her martial force. Although she would only take a small group of skilled archers from the guard, she would call upon the dryads of the forest, along with the restless treekin yearning for a fight against the rampaging orcs, and the old treeman as well.
The old forest dragon insisted on accompanying Synclaire’s battle contingent, although she only suspected the dragon had been secretly petitioned by Arteamus to join. She accepted the old dragon’s assistance. Convinced of inevitable victory, even on the grassy plain beyond the forest, she wouldn’t turn down the help of a dragon, and she knew such rejection would be considered rude.
The force lined up on the edge of the glade, the small Thrones Hill on their right flank. The scent of roasting pork, mingled with the unwashed flesh of orcs and goblins, drifted across the field. This was indeed the place. The elves could see the standing stones–smeared, as they now were, with the excrement of orcs.
“And are those trolls?” Synclaire closed her eyes and scryed the line of battle opposing them across the glade. Yes, the force was supported with engines of war as well, and she sent a message to both the dragon and the treeman, warning of the bolts those crude machines could hurl through the air. The elves were at a disadvantage here, in the open, but she had given her word, and with her magic Synclaire was convinced of victory over the nasty beasts.
Both sides began to close the gap, and the elven archers unleashed a volley of arrows into the ranks of the smelly orcs. But the dragon was pierced through a shoulder by a heavy metal bolt. The treeman was also hit, squarely in the chest. But the force of forest spirits marched onward, the branchwraith leading the dryads easing the pain of the dragon and treeman both with her life magic.
This was the moment for Synclaire to unleash her most powerful magic, before the battle lines clashed together. She would decimate the orcish ranks with a dark vortex, reducing their number as well as their will to fight, and they would likely turn and flee before the forest spirits had the chance to strike with branch and root. Already, on the right flank a band of orc cavalry, mounted on tusked boars, had torn through the skirmishes tasked with securing Thrones Hill, and the orc cavalry was charging the forest dragon. And, on the left flank, an orc chariot ripped into a band of waywatchers. Now was the moment, to smash the center, and then her guards could turn to support the flanks with their magic arrows.
Synclaire reached into the heavens, closing her eyes, energy of the earth filling her through the soles of her feet. She felt the winds of magic stir throughout her being, filling her with power, and she chose to pull in just a little more–but too much! It was too late, talented as she was, when she ceased gathering magical might, knowing it was above and beyond needed to fuel the spell. A crack of lightning spread from her body, shattering the bodies of those guards standing to either side of her. But the spell was indeed cast–but something had gone terribly wrong: rather than whirling toward the enemy, the dark vortex whirled to the side, directly into and across the front ranks of her guard. Disaster! Rather than decimating the ranks of the enemy, her spell and killed most of her guards–near all of them.
Battle was joined in the center, and the forest spirits fought tenaciously, but the winds of magic had indeed shifted against the elves, perhaps because they had let the orcs desecrate their sacred stones. The branchwraith was unable to conjure any more healing force for her comrades, and the old treeman fell to the band of black orcs.
Realizing her lethal mistake of magic, knowing the forest spirits would not dominate without elven support–but she had no more support for her elven guards to provide–she turn and fled… trailing sparks from her feet as she fled, wounded in both body and spirit.