The era of peace among the elves, men, and dwarves comes to an end when one of Londor's twin moons disappears from the heavens... Without the moon's balancing effect, evil forces grow bold, and warfare, sickness, and chaos threaten life itself.
In the dawn of Londor's greatest tragedy, the elf-mercenary, Gildan, sat near his campfire--pondering the fate of the world. The summer night was bitter, yet calm in this mysterious time. Gildan was accompanied closely by two fellow elves, Faragen and Telsar, as they rested uncomfortably underneath a large oak tree before their soldiers of the Obinoth Kingdom. The elves took refuge from their travels at the edge of the Plains of Erogd, a place which was all too familiar to them.
Many other campfires laid a short distance behind Gildan and the two Obinoth officers as the mercenary granted the soldiers under his authority short respite after two strenuous days of marching back into the west. Soft songs and inaudible conversations hazed the night air.
Gildan looked over to the trunk of the tree where the famed wizard, Randor Miithra, rested peacefully, sitting propped up with his wide-brimmed hat of blue felt covering his face. His cloak lay motionless in the weak breeze from the vast fields. Gildan smiled slightly as he brushed his tall, green hair back, forever grateful to the wizard's role in the recent victory of the mercenary and the elves of Obinoth.
As Gildan led the remainder of his army towards the Obinoth Kingdom, his thoughts were consumed with many items of business--with no apparent answers thus far.
"Is there anything either of us can do for you, sir?" Telsar asked.
"No," Gildan replied, looking at Telsar, a sturdy young elf, who reminded Gildan of himself in his younger days. "Just try and rest. We will be on the move again shortly."
Telsar nodded and shifted his silver armor before leaning back on his elbows. "I hope Obinoth is safe. I have much to attend to once we are returned."
"As do I," said Gildan. "Though I will no longer be able to assist you or your king, my future days are now certain to be full of work from those wishing to solve this mystery."
Gildan laid back in the soft grass and looked into the heavens. The memories of the recent night of catastrophe charged to the forefront of his mind, and he embraced the details of his victory, once again.
* * *
Two nights ago, Gildan and his elf-knights drew up at the edge of a dark, wooded valley--once again on the heels of the Obinoth's ancient foes. The twin moons rode high in the clear night sky, casting muted double shadows beneath the trees. For forty miles the army had crossed the Plains of Erogd, a region once known for its placid rivers and lush fields. But now the beauty of this land was tainted, its rivers polluted with blood and its fields heaped with the bodies of the slain enemy. None of the Obinoth had ever traveled this far east, and now fatigue weighed heavier on them even more than their pierced and dented armor.
Gildan paced alone before the awaiting ranks, his finely crafted, short yellow cape billowing in the constant breeze. The cape was the only personal clothing effect he kept with him, leaving his usual wardrobe of extravagant jackets, pants, and boots behind. These were set aside for uniformity of Obinoth's black clothing and silver armor, not very pleasing to Gildan's taste. His green eyes scanned the valley below, seeking out his next move, as his fingers tapped the silver buckle on his precious leather belt.
Telsar and Faragen approached quietly and stood at attention.
"We await your command, Gildan," said Faragen.
Gildan turned, looking beyond them to the gathered troops, seeing the fading morale written on every face. "We need to end this tonight," he said at last. "Send a small squad of scouts to get the lay of the land. I do not know much about this place. Have them search out the Rhingar forces, but tread with caution--the scouts must not be seen."
"Yes, sir," replied Faragen.
"Report to me once the sweep is complete." Gildan paused. "Now I must speak with our advisor."
The two lieutenants saluted and returned to the ranks.
As Gildan strode to the boulder at the dark valley's edge, he looked uneasily up at the mountains that surrounded the small valley on three sides.
For centuries the Rhingar had attempted to overthrow their neighboring country, the Obinoth Kingdom, yet had never been successful. The Rhingar wished nothing more than to seize the Obinoth capitol, Handefel, and destroy it--for it was in Handefel that the founding fathers of the Rhingar Kingdom perished during the Dark War. For the past eighty years the Rhingar burdened the Obinoth, bent on vengeance for the spirits of their ancient heroes.
For months on end both armies waged war at the edges of the Obinoth Kingdom until, at last, the Obinoth drove their enemies outside its borders. Yet they pursued the Rhingar into the east with orders from their king to eliminate them--no matter the distance traveled. The Obinoth were determined more than ever to convey to the Rhingar that they would never yield to them.
There, standing alone upon one of the many boulders and puffing a long-stemmed pipe, was Randor Miithra, the eldest servant of the elven god, Ethindar. Randor, as he was simply called, was invested with all the magic and arcane wisdom of his famed order of wizards. He stood tall, shrouded in his deep-blue cloak, uncowed by the continuous battles and lack of rest. Though he had seen eight thousand winters, he looked like a human of thirty. His face was shadowed from the moonlight by his ever-present hat.
This campaign was not the first encounter for Gildan and Randor, befriending one another many decades ago. Gildan always welcomed the opportunity to fight alongside his oldest friend and closest confidant.
Gildan stepped up onto the boulder and held silent.
"I see you have finally sent scouts about the perimeter, my old friend."
"Indeed. You have tracked the Rhingar for me across Erogd, but I will let these elves survey this instance," Gildan replied. "But...what do you make of this, Randor?"
"That is a good question," the wizard replied. He slid his dark-tinted spectacles up his narrow nose and puffed again at his pipe. "Do you know where you find yourself?" Randor grinned slightly.
"No. I have traveled far and wide, but this place has no particular memory for me."
"Before you lies the Valley of Siln."
"Siln," whispered Gildan. "What can you tell me of this place?"
"A featureless, barren place, with neither inhabitants nor wildlife--unless you love the company of scorpions." Randor paused to savor the pipe's comforting taste. "Only one road leads into and out of the valley..." Gildan turned his head and looked at the wizard. "This lonesome road is the one that you and the Obinoth now control."
"Are you certain of this?"
"Although many years have passed since last I was here, I doubt anyone has altered this land."
Before the elf-mercenary could reply, Randor raised his hand and added, "I cannot be certain of their strategy here, but nevertheless, we must not falter now. You hold the advantage, Gildan, and you must keep it this time. I grow weary of all this cat-and-mouse."