Tag Archives: Escape from Tor’Watha

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 7

Blackness. Everything was Blackness. Linaeum drifted through the void, lost in space and time. He distantly remembered a time before the darkness, but whenever he reached out for the memories they’d scurry away, taunting him from the edges of his mind.

Whispers clawed at his consciousness, luring him with their smooth tones and appetizing words. Linaeum fought back the best he could, but his tormenters were insidious, and every time, he found it harder to drive back the madness.

Eventually, the whispers became too hard to resist, and Linaeum was about to give in—but then, everything changed.

The first thing Linaeum felt was the heat. It wasn’t hot and ravaging like the flames of a fire, but rather warm and soothing, like the gentle touch of the summer sun’s rays. Then came the light. Radiant and beautiful, it shone through the darkness, pushing back the whispers.

Freed of his oppressors, Linaeum basked in the light, letting it cleanse him of the darkness that had surrounded his soul for so long. For what felt like hours, the former high elf Ranger absorbed the healing rays, but then, suddenly, a voice said, “Linaeum, are you there?”

For a moment, the elf feared that the voices had returned, but this voice was warm and comforting, like the light, while the whispers had reeked of the void. “I’m here,” Linaeum replied, his momentary fear dissipating like dust in the wind. “Where are you?”

“I’m all around you,” the warm voice replied cryptically. With a start, Linaeum realized that the voice was coming from the Light! “Linaeum, do you know where you are, and how you got here?”

“I remember…a battle,” the Ranger replied after several seconds of thought. “There were trolls, and elves, and…and I was stabbed! I died!” For a moment, the horrific whispers touched at the edges of the elf’s consciousness, before being driven back by the light once more.

“Yes, Linaeum, you were killed,” the Light confirmed, “But your death was not in vain. Thanks to your actions, the civilians of Suncrown Village were spared from a horrible demise. You were a hero…” A feeling of relief filled Linaeum’s mind, as he realized that his sacrifice had been worth it. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath…which he then violently expelled, as the Light finished, “And you shall be many times in the future.”

“Wait, what?” Linaeum asked, looking confused. “But if I’m dead…”

“Your death, while noble, was premature,” the Light explained. “You still have a role to play in the fate of the universe—a role that cannot be stopped by something as simple as death. Now awake, Linaeum, and be reborn!”

The young elf opened his mouth to ask a question, but then there was a brilliant burst of light, followed immediately by total darkness. For a moment, Linaeum felt a touch of panic—had the void come to reclaim him?—but then his eyes came into focus, and he realized he was looking up at the night sky.

Taking a deep breath, Linaeum sat up—and was immediately greeted by a series of loud gasps. “Linaeum, you’re alive!” Looking around, the high elf saw Caladthras and Daelenar kneeling beside him, their faces plastered with an expression of joy. “We thought you had died!”

“I…I think I did,” the raven-haired Ranger mumbled, “I remember a void, dark and empty, a sea of madness where I drowned for an eternity.” Daelenar and Caladthras exchanged a look of worried confusion. Had their friend gone insane?

“But if you died, how are you alive now?” Daelenar asked.

“The Light,” Linaeum replied simply, “I was saved by the Light.”

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 6

“No!” Caladthras screamed as the wicked blade pierced his brother’s body. Raising his bow, he fired an arrow right into the Amani chieftain’s chest. There was a meaty ‘thunk’ as the bolt made impact, but if the elf was hoping for the troll to be slain by this shot, he was sorely mistaken.

Laughing, Vul’garak pulled the arrow from his chest and crushed it in his giant fist. “I tol’ ya,” he declared, “Ya little bow be useless against me. Now, ya all gonna die.” Throwing the mortally wounded Linaeum to the side, the massive troll pulled a colossal battle-axe from his back and charged forward.

Caladthras and Nathanos opened fire on the Amani chieftain as Daelenar leapt forward to engage. Dodging the gigantic troll’s first attack, the Ranger sliced into his enemy’s leg with a powerful swipe. Bellowing in pain, Vul’garak swung his axe sideways, aiming the haft straight at Daelenar’s head.

Leaning backward, the high elf attempted to avoid the attack. The Ranger was still slightly off balance from his last strike, however, and the butt of the axe’s handle hit him right in the forehead. Knocked off his feet, Daelenar went airborne for a second or two before slamming back into the ground with a massive ‘thud’.

“Hah, didja tink ya could beat me?” the gigantic troll laughed, brushing away the arrows that littered his body as he slowly walked up to the fallen high elf, “Now, ya gonna join ya friend in death.”

Sprawled out on the ground twenty yards away, Linaeum watched helplessly as the massive Amani chieftain prepared to finish off the fallen Ranger. Caladthras and Nathanos were firing wildly into the troll’s body, but they weren’t slowing the chieftain’s advance by even a second. “It’s up to me,” Linaeum realized, “I have to save my friend.”

Grabbing an axe from a fallen troll, the high elf staggered to his feet. “Vul’garak!” he roared, raising the weapon with both hands, “You forgot to finish me!” Turning, the Amani chieftain opened his mouth to speak—just as Linaeum hurled the axe with all the strength he could muster. The weapon spun three times before embedding itself in the troll’s head with a fleshy ‘thunk’.

Screaming in pain, Vul’garak stumbled backward. Dropping his battle-axe, the troll scrabbled at his face in an attempt to remove the weapon. “You will pay for this,” the chieftain declared, the words filled with pain. “Zul’jin…will…avenge me!”

“Avenge this!” Daelenar declared, and struggling to his feet, he drove both swords right into the chieftain’s back. The gigantic troll let out one final cry of anguish before collapsing to the ground in death.

For a moment, the four heroes stood there in absolute silence, but then, Linaeum collapsed to the ground. “Linaeum!” Caladthras exclaimed, leaping down from his perch and running over to his fallen brother. A second later, he was joined by Nathanos and Daelenar, and together, the three kneeled down beside the wounded elf.

“It’s okay, Linaeum,” Caladthras repeated, placing a gentle hand on his brother’s shoulder. “You’re going to be okay. Reinforcements are on the way, and…”

“Are the villagers…safe?” Linaeum asked, coughing in pain. Caladthras nodded mutely, and a small smile crossed the dying Ranger’s face. “Thank-you…for coming here…and saving the civilians. For…for making my sacrifice worth-while…”

A heavy fog descended over Linaeum’s mind. A distant horn rang out, but he paid it no attention. “Good-bye…brother,” he whispered, and then everything went black.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 5

Falling back into the woods a little bit, the three companions crept around the outskirts of the camp. Thanks to their training, the elves’ movements were completely silent, but it came as a shock to both of them when Nathanos matched them in his aptitude for stealth.

The human passed through the thickest undergrowth without making the slightest sound, and at one point, he even passed within five feet of an Amani sentry without alerting the troll to his presence. “Impressive woodsmanship,” Caladthras quietly remarked once the three had reached their destination, “Where did you learn to move like that?”

“When I was young, I lived on a small homestead on the edge of a large forest,” Nathanos replied. “Every day, I’d go out into the woods to play, and over time, I became attuned to the intricacies of the woods and the creatures that lay within. Eventually, I realized that I was more comfortable in the forest than around civilization, so I left my home and have been living off the land ever since.”

“If that’s so,” Caladthras asked, curious about his new companion’s history, “Then how did you get captured by the Amani?”

“I got reckless,” the human admitted, “I heard about a giant dragonhawk that lived up in the abandoned fortress above Tor’Watha, and I decided to try and tame it. Traveling up through the Thalassian Pass, I got careless and was ambushed by an Amani raiding party. I got one or two of them, but then they knocked me out, and next thing I know, I’m here.”

“Well, this is all very interesting,” Daelenar broke in, “But can we share our life stories later? We have a village to save.” Nodding in agreement, the other two quieted down and nocked an arrow to their bows. “Okay, on three,” the red-haired Ranger whispered, “Three…two…one…now!”

Leaping out from cover, Caladthras and Nathanos let loose a pair of quick shots, instantly downing two of the Amani guards. Crying out in confusion, the remaining sentries spun around—just in time to see Daelenar charge from the forest’s edge, swords at the ready. “Anar’alah belore!” the Ranger yelled, plunging his blades deep into the nearest troll’s chest.

Kicking the mortally wounded guard aside, Daelenar spun around, decapitating three more trolls in a single blow. “Who’s next?” the high elf exclaimed as the now-headless bodies fell to the ground. There was no answer to this question, however, as all the remaining guards had joined their allies on the ground, slain by the sure aim of Caladthras and Nathanos.

Nodding in sober approval, the red-haired Ranger walked over to the nearest cage and smashed it open with a single blow from his sword. “You’re free,” he declared to the startled elven captives, “Head for Farstrider Retreat—you’ll be safe there.” Nodding mutely, the former prisoners scampered out of the cage and ran off into the forest.

By this point the entirety of Tor’Watha had been alerted to the rescue attempt, and the Amani raiders had begun to assemble. “Caladthras, Nathanos, open the rest of the cages!” Daelenar commanded, slicing through the rope holding the nearest prison shut. “We need to get the prisoners away before the trolls can organize!”

Nodding, the two archers ran over from their cover in the woods and went to work on the remaining cages. It was quick work, and within a couple minutes, nearly all the elven captives had been freed. There were only one or two cages left to open—but then, the trolls attacked.

“Incoming!” Caladthras yelled, nocking and firing an arrow as he did, “Watch out!”

Spinning around, Daelenar spotted the charging trolls, and a sharp curse escaped his lips. “Nathanos!” he barked, thinking quickly, “Get the rest of these cages open. Caladthras, cover me—I’m going in.” With a fearsome battle cry, Daelenar drew his twin swords and leapt into the fray.

With a vicious blow, the Ranger sliced deep into the nearest troll’s chest. Crying out in dying anguish, the Amani toppled backward, pushing the rest of the raiding party back. Taking full advantage of this moment of disarray, Daelenar swung both blades forward in a wide arc. There was a series of loud crunches, and then the entire front line of trolls collapsed to the ground. A second later, they were joined by their newly severed heads.

Smiling at the havoc he’d wrought, Daelenar charged forward into the Amani once more. Holding both blades straight out from his body, the Ranger tore through his enemies in a whirlwind of blood and steel. Flesh tore, bones shattered, and troll after troll fell before the vicious elven onslaught.

Freeing the last of the captives, Nathanos and Caladthras leapt up on top of the now empty cages and fired a withering volley into the remaining trolls. Seven of the Amani warriors were instantly killed by this powerful barrage, toppling to the ground without so much as a single cry of pain.

Between the vicious blows of Daelenar and the expert marksmanship of the archers, the rest of the trolls were quickly brought down. Taking a second to catch his breath, Daelenar turned to the others and said, “Well, that wasn’t exactly how I planned it, but good job. Now, we just have to get Linaeum, and…”

“So, ya be lookin’ for ya friend, eh,” a dark, sinister voice hissed. Jumping in surprise, the three heroes spun to face the chieftain’s hut, where they beheld a large, shadowy figure standing just inside the front door. “Good ting I know jus’ where he be.” The speaker stepped into the light, and the companions let out a collective gasp as they beheld a massive troll holding a barely conscious Linaeum by his neck.

“Put my brother down, you monster!” Caladthras roared, raising his bow and aiming at the giant troll. “Or I’ll shoot you where you stand!” The young elf expected his foe to be cowed by this threat, but instead, the mighty Amani just laughed.

“You be threatenin’ me wid dat little ting?” he asked incredulously. “Dat bow couldn’t pierce da hide o’ a human—how ya be tinkin’ it kill Vul’garak, da mightiest Amani chieftain north o’ Zul’Aman. Besides,” the gigantic troll continued, “I have your friend by da neck—if ya make even one move against me, I’ll squeeze my hand, and he’ll be dead.”

Realizing it was no use, Caladthras and Nathanos slowly lowered their bows. “Now,” Daelenar called, sheathing his swords, “Give us back our friend, and we’ll leave in peace.”

For a moment, the troll considered the offer, but then he shook his head in disagreement. “I don’t tink so, mon,” the Amani chieftain declared, “I tink ya all gonna be dyin’ now.” And with a single swift movement, he snatched a dagger from his waist and plunged it into Linaeum’s chest.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 4

Crossing Lake Elrendar just to the southeast of Suncrown Village (where the waters were the narrowest), the two Rangers headed north, traveling through the forest at a brisk pace. Unlike on the previous trip, there was no anger between the two companions, only a firm determination to rescue their friend from his Amani captors.

Several hours later, Daelenar and Caladthras arrived at the outskirts of Tor’Watha. Once the bastion of Amani civilization in Eversong Woods, the village had been destroyed during an ancient war and had never really recovered. Only a few parts of the once massive wall encircling the village remained, and the fortress nestled into the hills above lay completely abandoned.

By this point, the sun had already begun to set on the horizon, but the light of numerous Amani campfires kept the village well illuminated.

“Daelenar, do you see him?” Caladthras asked, observing the troll settlement from his position in the upper branches of a nearby tree. “I can’t find my brother anywhere.”

“Neither can I,” the red-haired Ranger replied, scanning the occupants of each cage for any sign of their captured companion, “The trolls must have taken Linaeum away to their ceremonial hut to prepare for the sacrifice.”

“But which building is the ceremonial hut?” the younger elf quietly exclaimed, “I don’t know anything about troll architecture—they all look the same to me!” Peering down at the village below once more, Daelenar realized that Caladthras was right—all of the buildings were remarkably similar in appearance.

“In that case,” Daelenar said, “We’ll have to…” The Ranger’s voice faded off, as he suddenly spotted something he’d overlooked before. On the far side of the village, nearly hidden in the shadows of the trees, was a single cage with a lone occupant.

“Caladthras, look over there,” the older Ranger whispered, pointing at his discovery. Following this instruction, Caladthras’ jaw dropped, as he spotted what Daelenar had seen.

“Is that…”

“It’s not Linaeum,” Daelenar replied, sensing what his young companion was about to say, “He has dark hair, but your brother is thin, and this captive is broad-shouldered and muscular. It would appear that the Amani have caught themselves a human.”

“A human?” Caladthras declared in surprise, “What’s a human doing so far north?”

“I don’t know,” the red-haired elf replied, “But judging by his bedraggled appearance and the state of his clothes, I’d say he’s been here for a while…”

“So he’ll know where the trolls took Linaeum!” Caladthras broke in excitedly. Daelenar nodded, and the younger Ranger continued, “Now, all we have to do is rescue the human, and we’ll be all set!”

Swiftly descending from their perch, the two high Elves sneaked around the outskirts of Tor’Watha. On two occasions, they were nearly discovered by Amani sentries, but the Rangers managed to silence both of them before any sort of alarm was sounded. Other than this, however, there weren’t any issues, and the companions arrived at the cage a couple minutes later.

Daelenar quickly scanned the area to ensure there weren’t any trolls watching. Seeing nothing, he slipped from the cover of the trees and sneaked over to the wooden cage. “Be quiet, and make no sudden movements,” the elf whispered in his best Common (the language of the humans), “We’re here to rescue you.”

Obeying the Ranger’s request, the human stayed completely still as Daelenar sliced through the thick rope securing the cage’s door. With a soft squeak, the door slid open, and the human silently shuffled out. “This way,” the elf said, pointed back to the woods, “We’ll be safe there.” The former captive nodded in agreement, and together, the pair retreated back into the shelter of the trees.

“So, what does he know?” Caladthras asked the moment he saw the two emerge from the tree-line, “Where’d the Amani take my brother?” The young Ranger was practically bouncing with nervous tension, which was understandable under the circumstances.

“Not so loud, Caladthras,” Daelenar whispered, raising a single finger to his lips, “We can’t let the Trolls know we’re here.” The younger elf nodded abashedly, and Daelenar continued, “Besides, our new friend here has just been freed after what was likely a long captivity. He’ll probably need a bit of time to…”

“I’ve actually only been imprisoned for about a week, but thanks for the offer,” the human said in perfect Thalassian (the language of the high elves), “And as far as your brother, I assume you’re speaking of the unconscious Farstrider that the Trolls took away as soon as the raiding party returned.”

Daelenar and Caladthras stared at the human in surprise for several seconds. The Thalassian language was one of the most advanced in the entire world—how did this human know it? This was a matter for another time, however, as there were more important things to take care of. “Where did the Amani take the prisoner?” Daelenar asked.

“Do you see that large, two-storied hut tucked into the area beneath the old fortress?” the human asked, pointing back at the village, “That’s where the village chieftain lives, and that’s where they took your friend. Now,” he continued, leaning back against a tree, “Where’s the rest of your strike force? You’ll want to get them in position so you can deal with all the guards in one fell swoop.”

“Um, there’s no strike force,” Caladthras corrected their new companion, “It’s just the two of us.” The human’s mouth dropped in shock as the elf added, “We’ve sent for reinforcements, but they’re several hours off. I doubt we have that much time before my brother is sacrificed.”

“So the two of you are going to attack an entire army of trolls, by yourselves?” the former captive asked. The two Ranger nodded, and the human let out a sigh. “In that case, count me in—after all, you’re going to need all the help you can get.”

Smiling at this declaration of allegiance, Daelenar handed the human one of his swords—only to have it rejected with a quick shake of the head. “Thanks for the offer,” the man said, “But I’m more of an archer than a swordsman. Could I have one of your bows?”

“Sure,” Caladthras agreed, “You can have Daelenar’s. He’s a terrible archer anyway.” Daelenar shot the young elf a nasty look, but then—instead of continuing the argument from before—he handed his bow and quiver over to the newly freed human, who accepted them with a  grateful nod.

“Okay, here’s the plan,” Daelenar said, drawing his broadswords, “The three of us will move together to free the prisoners. Then, I’ll use the commotion to go free Linaeum, while Caladthras and…what’s your name?”


“While Caladthras and Nathanos cover the civilians’ retreat. Any objections?” Both listeners shook their heads, and Daelenar concluded, “All right then—let’s go kill some trolls!”

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 3

Half an hour later, Daelenar and Caladthras arrived at Suncrown Village. The trip had been an uncomfortable one, as the silent hostility between the two was considerably worsened due to the bruises and scrapes that covered their bodies thanks to their little fight. Upon arriving at the Village, however, the Elves’ silent rage was replaced by a sense of horror, as they beheld the destruction the Amani had wrought.

The streets of the village were littered with the corpses of Elves and trolls alike. Many of the buildings were charred and blackened from the fires that had ravaged the town, leaving the beautiful architecture ruined beyond repair. Sharing a look of despair, the two Rangers slowly entered the settlement, their hearts sinking as they took in the devastation.

“This…this is our fault,” Caladthras whispered, looking around in despondency. “I put my stupid pride before my sense of duty, and now my brother—and everyone else who used to live here—is dead.” A single tear rolled down the young elf’s cheek, and he lowered his head in grief.

Daelenar opened his mouth to console his distraught companion, but then, he heard a strange sound coming from nearby. Motioning for Caladthras to be silent, the muscular high elf carefully crept toward the noise, drawing his swords as he went. He didn’t know what kind of trap the Amani might have left behind, but he wasn’t going to take any chances.

Following the sound down the road a little, Daelenar turned a corner and froze upon seeing a lone Elven girl—no older than ten years old—crying over the slain body of her mother. Quickly sheathing his blades, the Ranger knelt down beside the weeping child and placed a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Spinning around the second she felt Daelenar’s hand, the young child stumbled backward, a look of sheer terror on her face. “Please, don’t eat me!” she squealed, “I don’t want to die!”

“Hush, it’s okay,” Daelenar whispered in the most soothing voice he could muster, “I’m not going to eat you. I’m here to protect you.” Upon hearing this, the girl calmed down a little, and the Ranger continued, “What’s your name?”

“Ariella,” the girl said, wiping a tear from her face.

“Okay, Ariella,” Daelenar smiled calmly, “What happened here?”

“Green monsters attacked the village,” the child replied softly. “They killed Magister Sar’guin and his wife, and Captain Karanas, and…and…and they killed my mother!” Ariella burst into tears once more, weeping over her fallen mother.

“It’s okay,” the high elf repeated, wrapping a comforting arm around the young girl’s shoulder, “You’re safe now.” For close to a minute, the child continued to weep, but eventually, the tears dried up, and Daelenar asked, “So, what happened next?”

“The monsters took everyone and put them in cages,” Ariella said, “And they were about to take them away when the hero arrived.” The girl’s sorrow was momentarily forgotten, as she remembered the heroism she had witnessed. “There were so many monsters, but the hero charged in anyway, without any fear. He killed monster after monster with every blow—it was amazing!”

“What happened next?” Daelenar asked. If the girl’s ‘hero’ was Linaeum, then it was possible the child knew where the Ranger had gone.

“One of the monsters sneaked up on him, and hit him in the head with a hammer,” the young Elven girl replied, lowering her head slightly at the memory.

“They killed him?” Caladthras broke in. He’d come over when he heard the voices, and hearing that his brother had fallen sent a chill creeping up his spine.

“No,” Ariella shook her head. “He fell asleep, and the monsters put him in one of the cages and took him and the others away.” The two Rangers shared a look of relief at this news—if Linaeum had only been captured, then they still had a chance to get him back.

“Thank-you, Ariella,” Daelenar smiled warmly, “I just have one more question: where did the monsters take the hero?” The young girl considered this for a minute before pointing northeast, toward the nearby Lake Elrendar.

“Tor’Watha!” Caladthras exclaimed, “It’s the largest Amani settlement north of the lake, and there have been rumors that the trolls are gathering their numbers there. If the prisoners are anywhere, that’s where they’ll be.”

“In that case,” Daelenar, “We should take Ariella back to Farstrider Retreat and tell the Rangers there what’s going on. They’ll send a battalion of Farstriders to Tor’Watha, and save everyone!”

“And the hero won’t be sakerficed!” Ariella exclaimed excitedly.

“Wait, what?” Caladthras asked, startled by the young girl’s statement, “Did you say sacrificed?”

Ariella nodded. “When the monsters left, they said that they were going to sakerfice the hero as soon as they got back to their town.” Once again, Caladthras and Daelenar shared a look—however, this time it was a look of horror instead of relief. If Linaeum was going to be sacrificed that night, there was no time to get help from the Farstriders. Once again, they’d need to do this themselves.

“Ariella, do you know how to get to Tranquillien?” Daelenar asked, naming the nearest town. The girl nodded, and the Ranger continued, “Then head there and tell Dame Auriferous that Suncrown Village has been sacked by Amani trolls from Tor’Watha. We’ll try to rescue them ourselves, but help would be greatly appreciated.” Pausing for a moment, Daelenar asked, “Did you get all that?”

“Yes, sir,” Ariella replied, nodding.

“Perfect,” the Ranger smiled warmly at the young girl. “Now, Caladthras,” he continued, turning to his companion, “We have a village to save.” The younger elf nodded, and together, they set off into the forest.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 2

Traveling at a full run, Linaeum made good time through the forest, and five minutes later, he arrived at the outskirts of Suncrown Village. Taking cover behind the trees that bordered the small town, he peered out—and gasped in horror at what he saw.

The streets of the little village were swarming with trolls, all of whom were armed to the teeth with swords, axes and the occasional spear. The few Elves who had attempted to fight back had already fallen before the blades of the Amani, and the rest were being herded into large wooden cages. By the looks of it, the trolls were nearly done collecting their captives, so if Linaeum and his companions were to stop them, they’d need to strike now.

Turning around, Linaeum opened his mouth to tell the others his plan…and gasped upon seeing that he was alone. “Those fools,” he muttered angrily, “They must have started fighting the second I was gone! I’m alone…” A look of horror crossed the high elf’s face, but it was quickly replaced by one of determination, as he realized what he had to do.

Taking a deep breath, Linaeum charged out from his hiding place. “For Quel’Thalas!” he yelled, raising his sword aloft as he ran. “For Anasterian!”

Surprised by this sudden intrusion, the Amani hesitated for a key second, allowing the elf just enough time to lunge forward and slice his blade deep into the closest troll’s chest. Dark blood sprayed everywhere, and the raider let out a bone-chilling cry before collapsing to the ground in death.

Wrenching his sword from the fallen troll’s body, Linaeum faced the remaining Amani and got into a combat stance. “I’ll give you one chance!” he exclaimed, putting as much force as he could into the statement, “Release your captives and leave the village quietly, or share in your friend’s fate!”

For a moment, the trolls just stood there, dumbfounded that a puny elf would dare to challenge them in this manner. The shock wore off quickly, however, and with a mighty roar, they drew their weapons and charged forward.

Waiting until the charging trolls were almost upon him, Linaeum gracefully leapt to the side, completely dodging the murderous raiders. “Too slow!” he exclaimed, before swiftly driving his sword into the back of the backmost troll’s spine. “Now,” the young elf continued, wrenching his blade from the massive green corpse as it fell, “Who’s next?”

Bellowing in rage, the Amani raced toward the elf again—but this time, Linaeum charged to meet them. Ducking beneath the first troll’s axe, Linaeum severed the raider’s legs with a quick slash from his blade. Without even waiting for his crippled victim to fall, the elf spun back around and parried a couple blows that would have taken off his head.

Leaping above a low-swinging mace, Linaeum lashed out in a broad arc, decapitating a pair of trolls that were standing too close together. Returning to the ground, the elf kicked out with one leg, shattering the kneecap of an oncoming Amani.

Parrying three attacks in quick succession, Linaeum proceeded to unleash a withering series of blows upon the charging trolls. Heads were severed, blood was spilled, and Amani corpse after Amani corpse fell to the ground. Soon, a pile of bodies had built up around the high Elven Ranger, and with every troll that fell, Linaeum’s confidence increased.

“I’m doing it,” the elf whispered, cleaving a foe in twain, “I’m saving Suncrown! And I didn’t even need Caladthras or Daelenar’s help!” Smiling broadly at this thought, Linaeum prepared to smite another troll—but then, a blunt object slammed into the back of his head, and everything went black.

Escape from Tor’Watha: Chapter 1

The golden sunlight softly streamed through the trees of Eversong Woods, bathing the leaves with the invigorating rays. Rejoicing in the wondrous light, the forest’s songbirds joined in a beautiful song, the notes of which echoed for miles around. Everyone who heard the dulcet tones, no matter if the hearer was elf or beast, took heart at the magnificent chorus…

“There is no way you’re a better archer than me!” a loud voice declared, startling all the birds into silence. “Linaeum, tell Daelenar that I’m the best archer here!” The owner of these show-stopping vocal cords was a young high elf named Caladthras, who was seated on a stump in the center of a small clearing.

“Shush, Caladthras,” Linaeum replied, attempting to silence his younger brother, “You’re scaring the birds away.” Closing his eyes, the tall, dark-haired elf listened in contentment to the distant song.

“But it’s important!” Caladthras insisted, halting the feathery chorus once more. “How am I ever going to become Ranger-General if people think I can’t shoot a bow?”

“I didn’t say you couldn’t shoot a bow,” Daelenar broke in, a smug smile adorning his face, “I just said you’re not as good as me.”

“But that’s the same thing!” Caladthras exclaimed, throwing his hands skyward.

“What are you talking about?” Daelenar cried, his smug smile replaced with a look of indignation at his friend’s remark. “I’m a fine archer. Why, just yesterday I got six bulls-eyes in archery practice!”

“Yeah, out of five hundred shots!” Caladthras replied, running his long, lithe fingers through his golden hair in agitation. “No one would ever call that ‘fine archery’.”

“He’s got a point, Daelenar,” Linaeum said, joining the conversation, “Six out of five hundred? That’s almost as bad as a human would do.”

“We don’t need your opinion, Linaeum,” Daelenar snapped, “Go back to listening to birds.”

“Well, I would,” the dark-haired elf replied, “If you two hadn’t scared them all away with your inane argument! Now, if you’ll be quiet, I’ll…” Linaeum froze in mid-sentence, as his ears picked up a distant sound.

“What is it?” Caladthras asked, noticing the strange look that crossed his older brother’s face. “What do you hear?”

“It’s Suncrown Village!” Linaeum declared, leaping to his feet, “It’s under attack by the Amani!” The Amani were a tribe of Forest trolls that lurked all along the eastern edge of Quel’Thalas. Ancient enemies of the high Elves, the Amani were known for their raids, which were as brutal as they were unexpected.

“We need to get help!” Caladthras exclaimed, horrified by this terrible news. “Suncrown Village is a peaceful community—they don’t stand a chance against the Amani!” Leaping to his feet, the young elf prepared to run—but before he could, he was stopped by a firm hand on his shoulder.

“There’s no time,” Linaeum said, preventing his brother from leaving, “The closest outpost is Farstrider Enclave, and by the time we get there and back, it will be too late for Suncrown. No,” the elf insisted, grabbing his broadsword from where it was propped against a stump. “If the village is to be saved, we’ll have to do it ourselves.”

Grabbing his bow from, Daelenar leapt to his feet. “I’m with you, Linaeum,” he declared, tightening his quiver. “Suncrown needs our help!”

Nodding his thanks, Linaeum turned to Caladthras and raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “But…there are trolls,” the young elf reminded his companions, “We’re just Rangers—we’re trained to deal with unruly wildlife, not vicious trolls!” Caladthras searched his brother’s eyes for any sign of relenting, but found only grim determination. “Fine,” he muttered, snatching his short swords from the ground, “It’s not like I was using this life anyway.”

“You can say that again,” Daelenar muttered beneath his breath.

“Cut it,” Linaeum quickly interjected before things escalated. “This is no time for bickering—we have a village to save.” Waiting a second to make sure his two companions weren’t getting up to anything, the black-haired high elf took a deep breath and ran off into the woods.

“This isn’t over,” Caladthras whispered once he was sure his older brother was out of earshot, “I’ll kill so many trolls, you won’t have a choice but to congratulate me!”

“You can try,” Daelenar replied with a smirk, “But you’ll never, ever be as good as me.” Caladthras’ fists tightened in anger at this remark, but he kept himself in check…until Daelenar continued, “But don’t worry—I’ll be sure to give you a nice, safe job back in Silvermoon when I become the next Ranger-General.”

That did it. All thoughts of Suncrown Village and its plight vanished from the young elf’s mind, replaced with a blinding rage. “You take that back!” Caladthras cried, punching his tormentor in the jaw.

Not expecting a physical outburst like this, Daelenar was knocked back several steps from the force of the punch. Of the three Rangers, however, Daelenar was easily the strongest, so once the surprise wore off, it only took him a second to recover. “So, that’s how you want to do this, eh?” the red-haired elf asked, smiling grimly, “In that case, let the battle begin.”