Ardendales sauntered down a crude dirt path, obviously man made. She had Khux, her longsword, drawn and her square, wooden shield covering her heart. She sensed an evil presence close by. Ardendales was a tall woman, six foot one, with a muscular, but slim build. Her light brown hair snaked out of her helmet and reached down a little below her shoulders. She was clad in a golden breastplate and she had chain mail protecting her legs. Over her breastplate was a maroon shirt with the sign of a hand in between two swords; the sign of the lands of Theon, a mountainous realm, home to many nomads. She was sent by the king to investigate the strange activeness of the okenz. She was a very attractive woman. Suddenly, she heard a faint rustle in some berry bushes near by. Six okenz jumped out of the bushes like clowns springing from jack-in-the-boxes. They hooted barbarically. One of the okenz hurled its jagged spear at Ardendales. With inhuman speed she dropped her sword, caught the spear and hurled it back at the oken. It hit the oken in the heart and it fell to the ground, blood trickling out of its fanged mouth.

"Ouk'll yap ofru fyut," one of the okenz roared in its hideous language. All the okenz charged at Ardendales. She kicked her sword of off the ground, caught it with her vacant hand, and spun around, felling three of her foes. A small, scrawny oken took a horn, which resembled a human arm bone. It made a piercing screech and other similar sounds were heard in the distance.

"Quiet!" hissed Eyunel, "I hear noises." Zenth, Eyunel, Tenuve, and Elagon were out training in the forest. Zenth drew his longsword, Tenuve and Eyunel their ornate longbows, and Elagon his elvish blade.

"It's coming from the northern part of the forest. Sounds like okenz horns to me. Let's hurry!" Eyunel said. He sprang away and the others followed. Elagon found it hard to keep up with the speed of the rangers. They ran further into the forest. The trees were getting thicker. The lush foliage made it difficult for Elagon to run. He was about to complain when Eyunel beckoned for them to stop. "There is a clearing up ahead. There are okenz harassing a fair lady. Tenuve and I will shoot from the two fir trees nigh ten feet from the clearing. Zenth, you charge in and slice them to pieces. Elagon, you do the same as Zenth. Lets go!" Elagon followed Zenth, ignoring the cramps in his chest. They reached the clearing in about thirty seconds. Elagon couldn't believe his eyes. There in the clearing was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He just stood there, feet planted to the ground, staring. What Elagon failed to notice was that there were okenz, at least twenty of them attacking her.

"Elagon! Watch out!" Tenuve yelled. Elagon looked around and so an oken charging right at him with it's rusty battle axe raised above it's head. Elagon shut his eyes, hoping it would all be a dream. Whoosh! Elagon dared to open his eyes. The tip of an arrow stuck out of the oken's opened mouth. It fell to the ground with a soft thud. This made Elagon recover his senses. With a roar he unsheathed his sword and leapt at the nearest oken. He grabbed onto the oken's head with his free hand and wrestled it to the ground, stabbing it as it fell. The green grass was stained with red. Elagon had killed his second oken. His moves weren't as swift or nearly as elegant as Tenuve's moves, but they worked fine. Whoosh, whoosh! The remaining okenz scattered into the forest. Wow! These rangers and this lady, of course, are good. They just killed about eighteen okenz in about two minutes. I only got one!

As Elagon was thinking about this he heard something in the distance. It sounded like a piercing screech. It made Elagon shutter.

"More okenz!" the female warrior shouted. Her voice was like music to Elagon's ears.

"More?" Elagon trembled.

"Yes. That is the sound of their horns."

Just then Eyunel and Tenuve hopped down from the trees.

"Make tight quarters," Eyunel commanded. The five of them stood in a circle, back to back. The shrill sound of the horns grew closer and closer. Soon Elagon could see the silhouettes of okenz, one was unusually tall as though it was riding on something. Suddenly, about twenty okenz jumped out of the woods and surrounded the company. Eyunel shot a few. Tenuve, Zenth, and the woman rushed up and attacked them with their swords, hewing their foes heads off one by one. All of a sudden a fire burned in Elagon's heart. He pictured Farmer Crow's corpse and his last conversation with Bulloroy.

"For Yalen!" he bellowed. He rushed into the fray stabbing and slicing at any oken that stood in his way. No matter how many okenz the company killed, the okenz just kept swarming in like bees that are protecting their hive. Elagon heard a sort of clicking noise, like the sound of a huge bug scuttling around. He looked around to see what the cause of the queer noise was. He found his answer really quickly. Scuttling into the clearing on Elagon's right was a huge scorpion- like creature with an oken brandishing a rusty and many- notched rapier, mounted on the scorpion's back. The scorpion flexed its pincers menacingly and crawled over to Tenuve. He grabbed Tenuve and flung him into a tree as though he weighed as much as a feather. Whoosh! One of Eyunel's arrows shot right at the scorpion, but bounced harmlessly of its thick, rock solid skin. Then the scorpion scuttled to Eyunel. It clasped him in its pincer and trapped him in a vice grip. Eyunel roared in pain. Soon that scorpion would break every bone in his body. I will not let another person die to these horrid creatures, Elagon thought. With a barbaric roar Elagon lunged at the scorpion and hacked at its claw. His elvish blade bounced off harmlessly. Dropping Eyunel, the scorpion then focused its attention on Elagon. It started to huff and all of the okenz started to cackle maliciously. Then a huge jet of fire sprang out of the scorpion's mouth and shot straight at Elagon. Desperately, he dove forward towards the scorpion. The jet off fire singed the top of Elagon's hair and the smell of burning hair was heavy in the air. Elagon was now under the scorpion's belly. He looked up and saw that the armor plating wasn't on its belly. He drove his sword deep into the scorpion's belly with all of the strength he could muster. With a high-pitched shriek the scorpion collapsed right on top of Elagon. All of Elagon's breath left him. The scorpion must have weighed about six hundred pounds. He could feel its blood trickling onto his chest and dripping down his stomach and onto his legs. In a matter of seconds the female warrior pushed the scorpion off of him. All of the air rushed back to his lungs. He took a few short gasps and then spoke,

"Thank you milady," he said, "my name is Elagon, what is yours?"

"Ardendales of Theon," she replied.

Elagon stared at her beautiful body in awe. She turned uncomfortably and said, "I must get going now. I am looking for Eyunel. I need to talk to him as soon as possible."

"Well, then your search has not been in vain, for I'm Eyunel son of Eyrohel." Eyunel said proudly, stepping towards Ardendales.

"Well met Eyunel son of Eyrohel. I have news from Theon, but it must not be discussed here. We need somewhere private."

"I know just the place," Eyunel said winking at Elagon.

Why must Eyunel always bring strangers to my house? There is an inn in town! First him and his ranger friends and now some really pretty woman warrior, what could be next? I don't mind their company, but where are all of them going to sleep? Soon I'm going to run out of tea and mead if this keeps up.

"More tea, anyone?" Elagon asked courteously.

"I would like some please," Ardendales said. Elagon hurried into the kitchen and set the kettle on the stove. When the teakettle whistled he poured the tea into one of his finest teacups and brought it to Ardendales.

"Your tea, milady," he said handing her the teacup. Her hands met his. He could feel the warmth of her hands flowing through his body. Blushing, he quickly snapped his hands back to his side. Then he quickly sat down next to Eyunel, not daring to make eye contact with Ardendales.

"So what news from Theon?" Eyunel asked trying to relieve the tension between Elagon and Ardendales.

"Oh yes. Harakel, king of Theon calls for your aid. Okenz, jazes, and many other horrid beasts have been wandering freely slaying many of the nomadic tribes of the mountain. Harakel is concerned that they may start to attack the villages and thorps of Theon. The okenz have even started to build their own camps and will soon overrun all of Theon."

"What are jazes?" Elagon asked curiously.

"That beast you slew today. That scorpion creature. That is a jaze," Zenth explained.

"Oh," Elagon said.

"Will you not help?" Ardendales asked impatiently.

"What can four people do? I'm sorry milady, but how can four people change the tide of a whole country?" Elagon asked.

"Oh you'd be surprised," Eyunel said," we will help."