Daughter of the Fang


The elven scout rushed away from the battle lines with the message for his commander. The humans had been quite bold to assault the forest is such a brash manner as to appear in full force. Ranlen‑the scout‑chuckled to himself as he thought about the stupidity of the message he now carried. It was a request for parley, but yet here the humans had come to elven lands in full force. Their giant steam tanks and clanking knights were a joke to the well-trained melee masters of the elves. And their poorly-skilled dwarven riflemen were nothing compared to the awesome power of the elves most elite archers, the chosen of their god‑the Lauranthal.

However, despite all their attempts the humans, after almost three months of under the table fighting and diplomacy were still no closer to gaining any of the elven lands. This was partially due to the genius strategy of one elvish commander.

The tri-line battle strategy of First Elvish Commander Riss was famed throughout not only the elvish lands, but tales of its marvelous efficiency traversed the human cities as well. The strategy had saved the elves from every foe that had ever set foot upon their sacred land, and it consisted of three rows of highly trained elvish warriors and specialists.

The first line was comprised of elven weapon masters, warriors that had trained for decades in specific melee weapons. Their harsh training and ritualistic practice made the relationship between the wielder and his weapon one of near reverence, and that relationship showed itself in full when one of the deadly soldiers put his weapon to work.

The second line stood as the trademark of elven combat‑the archers. Sylvas' archers were even more deadly than the weapon masters in a sense. Even the youngest and most inexperienced of them could put an arrow through the eye of a human knight at a distance of more than a hundred yards. And the improved design of elvish war bows granted the archers a range almost comparable to that of dwarven rifles without sacrificing accuracy.

The third line of the elven forces was the pride of Sylvas. The Lauranthal, the children of the elven god Sylvalos. These mysterious warriors were the most devastating of all the elves. With the ability to call upon the magics of their god at will and marksmanship even greater than that of regular archers not a single Lauranthal had ever suffered so much as a wound in any battle.

The Lauranthal were all females because the elves believed only women could truly harness the powers of their god. Because of this the Lauranthal demanded the respect from all their kin, but at the same time they served silently and more than efficiently.

The weapon masters, archers, and the Lauranthal were all under the command of one elf. Riss, high captain and commander of Sylvas' forces and creator of the elves' devastating tri-line battle formation. However, strangely enough Commander Riss was nowhere to be seen on the battlefield this day.

Far from the battlefield and deep within the elven forest Commander Riss sat in front of an enormous oak at a finely crafted table with legs designed to resemble vine-entwined tree trunks. His bare feet twitched a quick rhythm as they sat atop the table while he read from a leather-bound book. The name of the book was etched across the cover in calligraphy: Great Commanders of Our Time.

Riss peered at the pages with deep interest, a sly smile splayed across his perfect elven face. He read of the great accomplishments of human captains and leaders over the past century and a half‑nearly half of his life. His expression changed from one of horror as he read of Lorman the Swift's terrible defeat at the hands of an orcish tribe, to one of sheer joy as he relived the incredible victory of Shamal the Stern over an enemy force nearly four times as large as his.

Commander Riss was no typical elf, but anyone could've seen that just by looking at him. Most elves were quiet, contemplating individuals that kept to themselves and held an air of superiority over all others but not Riss. Sitting in his oaken chair at the table, his bare feet propped up on top of it and reading a human book he stood as an exact juxtaposition to the silent sentinels working in the hollowed out tree only a few feet away.

Even the way he dressed opposed that of elves. Most elves wore only greens, blacks, and dark browns‑natural colors and of natural fabrics but not Riss. Riss refused to wear any outfits that didn't contain the colors gold or silver along with a very bright primary color, such as blue. This day, in particular he was wearing a blue tunic with golden designs of a rose vine creeping across it. His pants were blue and made of the finest of treated leather, and the waist and cuffs were laced in gold.

Aside from this, Riss stood as an excellent example of a battle-hardened elven warrior. The shortly cut sleeves and open chest of his tunic revealed his finely-toned and corded muscles. His face, like all elven faces, was unmarred by neither pox nor imperfection, and his hair was a bright blonde‑almost white from the sun.

More opposing to the general elven stereotype was Riss' general attitude. For instance, here he was in the middle of a war‑even though war still had yet to be formally declared and the humans were merely trying to "negotiate" with the elves‑his soldiers more than twenty miles from their commander and fighting a battle against a foe that outnumbered them nearly three to one, and Riss was reading a book! However, his subordinates didn't dare to speak a word of disapproval of Riss or his methods. They all bore too much respect for him.

Riss knew this. That's why even as the lone Lauranthal that had remained at the command post walked up to the table he didn't even look up. The shrouded figure waited for many moments, hidden beneath the heavy gray cloak her kind always wore. Finally Riss looked up and let out an exasperated sigh.

"You know, there is nothing more discomforting than having a Lauranthal stand over you as you're trying to read a book," he said curtly, placing a very small dagger in the book to mark the page and closing it. The Lauranthal said nothing for many moments and placed a scroll on the table. "No disrespect, Commander, but there is one thing more disconcerting than being disturbed while reading."

"Is there? Do tell me, what might that be?"

"The thought of being beaten by those humans laying siege to our borders because our commander is busy reading a book‑by the enemy no less‑instead of on the field where he should be," she said quickly and with a bow as she turned back to the large oak.

Riss smiled and let out a small chuckle, accustomed to being chastised by his warriors, and he picked up the rolled-up scroll from the table. His eyes scanned the parchment carefully, the slight smile on his face disappearing a little more with each word. He finished reading it and laid it gently back down on the table.

Riss stood up and was about to call for the Lauranthal to gather his weapons and prepare to travel to the front, but she was already on the other side of the table, his bow in her hand. She dropped his belt on the table and placed his beautifully crafted rapier in it's sheathe for him.

"Ready to go sir?"

"I guess I'll have to finish my book later…"

On the battlefront the forces had come to a standstill. The elves held their tri-line formation at the edge of the woods, the trees shading them from the midday sun. And the human forces stood opposite them on a rise about five hundred yards away. The two armies had been skirmishing all morning with the humans seeing a few casualties and the elves losing nothing more than a few arrows.

So it was once again that the humans sent a messenger down from the rise to the elves. It was a young boy‑no more than sixteen or seventeen seasons old. Up until this point the elves had shot every human that had come within a hundred yards of the trees, but they saw that the boy was a messenger and decided to let him live…for the time being.

The youth had to walk the five hundred yards to get to the elven forces‑the humans didn't want to lose a steed should their enemies decide to reject the parley. It took the boy a while to reach the elves and he was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily when he got there. The elves, under the command of a sub commander, received the boy with cold glares and raised weapons.

He went pale white at the sight of the entire elven army standing ready before him, but somehow he managed to keep from feinting. Sub commander Tirlis, acting in Riss' absence, met the boy in front of his troops. The sub commander didn't speak to the youth; he didn't even look the lad in the eye. He simply held his hand out for the neatly folded envelope the boy held in his hand.

The boy didn't know what to do. His orders had been to deliver the parley request to the commander of the elven forces, but all the humans knew that Riss wasn't usually seen on the frontlines. He began to stutter his mission, trying to ask the sub commander where he could find Riss, but Tirlis wasn't going to have it. In his opinion all humans were inferior to elves, and he took this belief so seriously that he considered it a great disrespect for one of the fools to even look him in the eye, much less speak to him.

Tirlis unsheathed his scimitar, the subtly curving blade catching the midday sun that penetrated the branches and throwing it into the boy's face. The young lad panicked, he knew he was about to die so he tried to flee, but Tirlis, battle-hardened and considered one of the most vicious fighters among the elves, was quicker. He was in front of the boy in seconds, and his deadly blade was quickly making its descent for his throat.

The boy fell to his knees and began crying for his life, but instead of feeling the stinging bite of the sword the boy heard a mournful howl. Seconds later, a giant form whisked over the boy, clearing his prone form to connect into the sub commander. Tirlis hit the ground with a thud and a grunt, and Riss jumped from the back of the giant wolf. He walked with a commanding stride to Tirlis as the sub commander tried to regain his feet and his breathe.

Riss helped the elf up, looking him straight in the eye. "I don't recall ever giving an order to any of my soldiers to murder without reason. Pick up your sword and sheathe your pride Tirlis." As Riss finished accosting his sub commander a gray mist surrounded the large wolf, completely concealing its form. The mist dispersed after a few moments and where the wolf had been a Lauranthal now stood.

The boy had been cowering through it all, but when he did look up he nearly died of fright. Riss was crouched before the youth with his hand extended. "Come on now. I'm not going to hurt you. Just take my hand so I can help you up," Riss said kindly, trying to calm the lad.

He looked up at Riss and the outstretched hand, and a smile came to his lips as he accepted that hand. The boy stared into Riss' face when he regained his feet‑both of them being about the same height‑and he cried with joy, "You're the commander right?! I'm supposed to give you this message…it's a request for parley. Won't you please accept our terms?"

Riss looked at the boy for a long while, truly feeling sorry for the young lad, but he did not take the message. Instead he pushed the boy's hand to away, "Take this back to your leader. Tell him that these lands are not yours for the taking. Tell him that there will be no parley between us and you humans. Ever."

Riss turned and walked away from the boy, his heart fighting against his mind. Riss had already seen enough children die in his lifetime, but it appeared he would soon witness the death of another. The boy hung his head and began on his trek back towards the human forces while Riss walked the lines of his own troops. It was time the final battle be fought.