Cassie shivered slightly as a chill ran up her spine,
but decided it was nothing as she followed Bahadur along the main boardwalk.
The village was incredible. It was better than she had imagined it when it had
first been described to her by Anshi.
Swamp flowers bloomed in bright clusters next
to the walkway. There were birds singing in the trees. It seemed that she had
some how wandered into a paradise that had been left untouched all these years.
Anshi looked happier than he had the entire trip.
His eyes shone as he saw familiar places and faces. His eyes glowed with joy
and energy while he gazed around at his forgotten homeland. He seemed to radiate
Bahadur led them into a small building. "This
is where you will sleep tonight, and you may consider it your home for however
long you wish to stay." The room was comfortably furnished with five small cots,
a sink, a fire pit, and a table. A vase of the cheery swamp flowers sat on the
"This is the house we use to accommodate visitors
from other villages. Rarely has it ever held guests from beyond Hutan Rawa."
Bahadur smiled at them. "I will be in the hut across from this one if you need
Cassie dumped her pack on a cot and called, "Wait!
I would like to talk to you."
The old Eyrie stopped and looked back at Cassie.
He smiled and said, "Come over to my hut. I will talk to you there." Cassie
nodded and followed him across the path to the building that stood there.
Upon entering, Cassie was startled by a noise
from the corner. A large Gruslen stretched, yawned and padded over curiously.
Cassie shied away from the big animal unsure if it was friendly or not.
Bahadur laughed and stroked the Gruslen's head
affectionately. "This is Harimau. She is a big kitten really; she won't do you
"Bahadur, I need to talk to you about what I
came for." Cassie stared uneasily up at him.
"What would that be little one?" His eyes showed
no suspicion or anger, only patient inquiry.
"I was sent here by a dream," she said almost
ashamedly, "I think it was to collect an army so that I can make a stand against
Bahadur looked at her for a while and then replied,
"I was afraid that was why you came. We will help you in any way we can, but
I am hesitant to send villagers out to fight. War is an ugly thing little one,
and I would stay out of it at all costs."
"I am aware of the repulsiveness of war, Bahadur.
But I am afraid to tell you that no matter how hesitant you are, war is upon
this land. Your lack of support for it will not prevent it from crashing down
on your head. If you do not support me with troops, that is your decision, and
I will not rival it. But your refusal to participate will not make you or your
precious paradise immune to the plague that is upon us. Your support could very
well be the thing that cuts this time of darkness short, and makes it easier
on us all." Cassie stood looking at him, her turbulent eyes flashing passionately.
Bahadur sat down and sighed. He looked so very
old sitting there, that Cassie felt bad about her strong words. But they had
needed to be said. He had needed to hear them.
"I will consider this," Bahadur said after a
time. Cassie knew this mean that she would probably have to wait and argue some
more, but at the moment she didn't really care. She nodded and left without
The night seemed darker and colder to Cassie
as she made her way back over to the hut that had been provided for her and
her companions. The trees seemed uneasy and they rustled and whispered to each
other. The birds had stopped calling and the night appeared still. Almost too
Cassie tried to shrug off the feeling but it
wouldn't quite go away. She told her self it was nothing, and walked into the
It was bright and cheery inside, and Cassie almost
got rid of the feeling when she walked inside and saw Morgan decked out in bright
native clothing. Anshi had rooted out some old garments, and had some how forced
Morgan into them.
Morgan was looking embarrassed and was struggling
with a knot in the back trying to get the offending clothing off.
"Who in their right mind would go around dressed
like this!? I feel like some kind of flower that has been painted because it
isn't bright enough!"
Cassie laughed uneasily for she could still not
free herself from that odd feeling, despite Morgan's antics. The feeling was
Morgan had finally extracted himself from the
tangle of cloth and rope. He was looking murderously at Anshi while he tossed
to clothing back into the closet.
He turned to Cassie to say something but stopped.
She was standing there looking dazedly out the window. She swayed slightly on
her feet and an expression of terror came over her face.
"They're coming," she whispered in a horrified
voice, "they're coming here."
The fields had become silent and black as the
evil procession moved through them. The Marwolaeth were moving in on Hutan Rawa.
Their evil presence preceded them warning those in its way to move.
The creatures that made up the Marwolaeth were
not of the pure land of Agrestis. Their very presence polluted the land they
didn't belong in. The army marched along reeking of evil.
They were foul beings with black, leathery skin.
Dark wings sprung out from between their shoulders, but not graceful wings like
those of an Eyrie, but shredded, tattered wings like those of a bat who has
been trodden on. Their eyes were the only part of their anatomy that had any
life to them. They shone red with a dark hatred that permeated the mind of those
that looked into them with such an evil that it burned.
They advanced on the swamp with one purpose in
their evil minds: to destroy the Eye of the Storm. This purpose set firmly in
every aspect of their march, they continued towards the place where their quarry
"Who's coming?" asked Morgan worriedly. Her
sudden terror had frightened him and the fact that she wasn't snapping out of
the terrified state had him disconcerted as well.
"They are. The dark ones." Her voice quivered
and her eyes were wide and staring. It was obvious that she was seeing something
that they couldn't.
"Who are the dark ones?" Morgan inquired. He
was deeply concerned now.
"The Marwolaeth. They are not of Agrestis. They
stain it with their foul evil."
"Someone must go get Bahadur," Anshi said frantically.
"We need to tell him what she has said!" The fear and desperation in his grey
eyes made Lana start up and go to the door.
"I'll go." She opened the door and was gone.
Soon she was back with Bahadur. He looked slightly worried, but not overly so.
"What's this I hear about Cassie acting strangely?"
He looked at them all and then at Cassie. She turned to him her eyes still staring.
"The Marwolaeth." It was all she needed to say.
Bahadur paled and opened his mouth in astonishment.
"What!" he gasped. "It can't be true. They are
only a legend now."
"They are coming."
Lana looked confused. "Will someone tell me what
is happening? I have never heard of these Marwolaeth before. What are they?"
"They are the fallen race of Agrestis. The creatures
of evil who were banished from the land long ago because of their evil. They
bring darkness and death with them and leave nothing unspoiled." Bahadur looked
at Lana. "They are the dark ones."
"What are they doing coming here?" Morgan asked.
"And how does she know they are coming?"
"Agrestis cries out. The darkness is suffocating.
They come to silence the storm." As Cassie whispered these words, they all felt
a chill. Hutan Rawa was in grave danger, and so was Cassie.
"The time for action has come Bahadur. The choice
whether or not to fight the evil that has swept the land needs to be made now,"
Cassie looked at him as she spoke. "I'm sorry it had to come to this."
"All fighters to arms! All fighters to arms!"
The call rang through out the village as the townsfolk scurried about trying
to prepare for the attack.
The mothers and children were being hurried out
of the village by several fierce looking Peophin who were transporting them
to and island in the middle of the swamp that was only accessible to aquatic
The males of the village were gathering as many
weapons as they could. An odd assortment of maces, swords and pitchforks were
being carried by all who were able to fight. The army of the swamp was being
A few Airax messengers had been sent to other
villages asking for help. Every one hoped fervently that the reinforcements
would arrive in time.
The troops were finally assembled and ready to
fight. "Remember, they are mortal. No matter how unearthly they look, they still
bleed when cut and die when stabbed." Bahadur looked around at the brave crowd
standing before him. Many of these wonderful creatures would fall tonight. Many
would be slain by beasts that had never been fit to walk the land. It saddened
him to send them to this fate, but war was an ugly thing.
A shrill cry split through his thoughts. Cassie
stood shaking and then screamed again. "THEY COME! THEY ARE UPON US!"
In the silence following this announcement, a
cold darkness fell over the assembly of fighters. A suffocating blackness that
drowned out hope. The time had come. The Marwolaeth had come.
To be continued…