Prologue

“They are hundreds”, the adventurer growled under his breath in visible amazement. “And you called for us. Why?”

Their guide, a brawny knight, somewhat shorter than Ugarth but certainly wider, merely shrugged. “Lord Commander asked fer ya. Ye’ll find him in the big tent.”

Aran had never seen so many people in one place except for Baldur’s Gate. But there was no city here. Rather, a conglomerate of tents, carriages, and shelters housed the most impressive troupe he’d ever laid eyes on. Hundreds of men, and a few women and children, sprawled across the plains around a single building. Black, towering stones, shielded by a tall and faded wall, proved this to be no ordinary home.

The blue and silver pavilion sat atop a small hill overlooking the massive front gates of the castle-y building. The two men guarding the entrance to the tent bore a countenance no common guard could. Even these transpired honor.

“I am Aran, Wildspeaker,” he said, stepping forward. “We are..”

“Expected”, the guard cut off. He put his large, unwieldy halberd aside, clearing the passage. “Lord Commander will see you now.”

Aran bade the others stay and stepped inside. There was no need to crowd the place and if everything here was as he suspected, he’d need no bodyguard either. Inside, a broad man waited in front of an uncomfy chair. his plate was silver, with blue lines and small letters at each bend. He was probably the largest man Aran’d ever seen.

Until he turned his attention to the rest of the attendance, because to the man’s left was one that all but dwarfed him. He wore chainmail, probably the only knight in camp that did so. A warhammer rested at his side, each of its heads larger than Aran’s.

The commander’s right side was taken by a much different knight. He was sitting down, whispering to his larger brother. All-black plate armor began at a sharp-tipped toe and ended only at the neck. The head was covered by a cowled cape. It was unusual for a paladin to wear such attires, just as weird as the wicked bastard sword at his side. Its forte was jagged, int the ways of the flamberge or the swordbreaker knife, but much wider and stronger.Black as the starless night, sometimes it would pulse in a blood-red glow.
Both knights stood at the arrival of the expected adventurer.

“At last, the Stark Blades grace the Silver Flame with their presence”, came the deep voice of the silver knight.
Aran stoically nodded, and forced himself into a curt bow. An important job was at hand.
“We require your help. Should you agree,” the knight proceeded, not without his own even shorter nod. _"it must be done at once. Is that a problem?

Aran quickly pondered the party’s needs. They had stocked their packs earlier that tenday. “Should we agree,” he answered, “it will be done at once.”

Darion allowed the proud leader the insolence, and himself a faint smile. “We stand before Bordrin’s Watch. Holy men of Kord built it, and for ages it stood as their home and monastery. Now..” Darion’s voice was one used to commanding scores of men. For that reason, it was not odd how the pain in his next words tugged at Aran’s heart. “Now the cult of Orcus took it by assault, slaughtering everything inside.” Darion’s hand grasped the ilt of his sword, his anger building. “We believe each is free to be of the god he wishes, but that Orcus…” He smashed his fists together in such brutality that Aran took a step back. _"My House is of Kord," – he breathed in, spreading his agile chest plates even more- “and by his mighty fist, today Bordrin’s Watch will fall.”

The ox in chainmail touched his shoulder, so that he would calm down. “We can do little more than siege if we want them all. That will be your job. A back passage would allow these foul creatures to flee. You will be our pincer attack. You will go where my men can not, where they are not equipped to go. I will send one of mine, who shall have the command, with you.”

The commander’s abrupt stop signaled Aran this was his turn to talk. He paused to ponder how cool it would be to raid a castle chock-full of a demon-lord’s cultists, when a full order of paladins had their backs. After he arrived at the result of “very damn cool”, he replied only: “Where can I find this commander of ours?”

The knight in the black armor picked up the sword, hung it across the back, and took a step ahead. A soft voice came from deep inside the heavy wool hood.
“My name”, she said, " is Vynxenia Thurisdöttir."

The sword at her back pulsed in a bloodthirsty red.

Prologue

Scales of War Aran