Chapter 1:

Searon sat at the table at the elven chambers with his head in his hands. He felt his rough hair that had grown out quite a bit since the journey had begun. He looked up at his crimson and gold helmet, staring at his reflection. With his long hair and rough complexion he didn't look like the general he once was. His face wasn't even trimmed, as it looked all scruffy. No longer was it a neatly trimmed goatee. He ran his fingers through his tangled hair and pulled it hard, in an attempt to wake up from a nightmare. If it were only just a dream and he were still laying by Victoria in bed.

He focused when Elsargast got there and the room got silent with the last of the meeting, the king, had arrived. Searon looked around the room that held all the heroes of battle and importance. He saw Elsargast, Vil'ek, Anaela, Karceoles, Sh'on, Andron, Etherond and Aliqua… She seemed the most out of place. She also looked odd there as the only one with a vast difference of appearance than anyone else. That didn't bother Searon in the slightest though. His problem was, why was an herbalist high on a war preparations meeting. There were also a few elves that Searon didn't recognize, but all seemed battle worthy.

The room felt out of place without Starlyn there. She was one of the leading elves for decisions. Searon missed her; she had become a good friend of his. Not to mention in recent events of a war breakthrough, they could use her tactics and fighting. He only wish he knew where she was, and why she had to leave. It happened so suddenly.

He began thinking of his brother. He wished he were there to help. There wasn't any time to reach him, even if they could, it would be too late when they could get a hold of him.

Elsargast coughed and laced his hands. "With recent events, you have all been asked here today to help with preparations. We are appointing leaders for various things, and any ideas to help will be considered. Andron, tell everyone what it was that you saw, so they may hear it from you."

Andron looked surprised to be called on. He wiped the shock off of his face and cleared his throat. "Well as some of you know, I was attacking a…" he glanced to Karceoles.

"Nacropis," Karceoles uttered. He stared at Andron awaiting the rest of the story.

Andron continued, "It was more powerful than Phoenix and I. After he fell, I knew I wouldn't be able to defeat it myself. I was trying to buy time. I pulled out a container of burning oil out from my sash and drenched my sword and the rest I threw at the Nacropis. After using my striker to engulf my sword I continued to fight. After it caught aflame, it fled, as did I in an attempt to hide from the Necromancer. I couldn't leave right away. More Necromancers came and I heard them speak. They were talking about scorpions and trying to create more Nacropis."

"More? How many more?" Karceoles demanded. Shock replaced his sorrow face.

"An army," Andron stated. His face looked grim and a cold sweat covered his face.

"What happened next? Tell us about the army you saw," Elsargast said.

"After I was finally able to escape, I had to evade the whole way here. I'm surprised I was actually able to find it. A few hundred miles northeast of here there was a camp. It was larger than any camp I've ever seen. It was full of ranzak… all of them. There were daerions as well, almost as many. I almost ran into them and had to take a very large detour to get around unnoticed," Andron said.

"Who led them?" Elsargast asked. He readjusted in his seat as he awaited the response.

"I did not stick around to find out, whoever it is, is more powerful than me. They are heading southwest though, directly towards us," Andron cautioned. His eyes were wide now as he turned his gaze to Searon.

"How long?" Searon asked. His voice shook at the thought of the town being breached and his face clamed up.

"A couple weeks if they keep pace," Andron said. He declined his head and stared at his hands on the table. They were caked in dry blood and rough to the touch.

"We need to separate as an army and take best skills into consideration. Captains of every craft," Karceoles stated. He looked to the king awaiting his approval.

"I wish Starlyn were still here, her leadership would greatly help us now," Elsargast said. He shook his head at the thought of missing his captain. Starlyn was always there for him to lead an attack. He only wished he knew where she had went.

"Do you not have another to lead?" Karceoles asked. His gaze looked doubtful towards the king.

Elsargast flushed red and eyes darted to Karceoles with insult, "Of course I do! Vil'ek is to be in charge of our melee."

"My lord, what of you, if you remain here you need protection," Vil'ek said. Vil'ek wasn't eager to travel away from his king again. In the past it had only caused trouble.

Elsargast smiled, "My old friend do not worry about me, I will place a squad of elves with me, I need you leading our men and women. I trust no one else."

"I hope not to disappoint you my lord," Vil'ek said. He declined his head and sat back in his chair continuing to be a shadow in the discussion.

Elsargast nodded. "As far as my ranged, I appoint my best archer to lead them to victory. Anaela, use your knowledge of the bow to best place our ranged."

"I will do to the best of my ability," Anaela said. Her voice was soft and elegant, she had complete confidence but she didn't speak to the elves too often. She had earned their respect in the last war, but she was still a wood elf compared to the high elves surrounding her.

"Aliqua… you are to organize all the spell casters," Elsargast announced. He looked to Aliqua with a smile. She had always been helpful to him in many more events than war.

"Yes sire, if I may?" Aliqua asked looking to the king.

"Go ahead," Elsargast replied. He sat further back in his chair to await her advice as he often did in the past.

"If I take the spell casters to the treetops and homes, we can be more effective. We'll have larger range and stay safer," Aliqua assured. She waited in hope to the king's answer.

"Very good Aliqua, carry on with that," Elsargast said and nodded to his old friend.

Then he looked at Searon. Searon took a deep breath and waited. He had been thinking about how he was going to organize his men. Elsargast saw the thoughts traveling through Searon's mind and smiled.

"Searon, continue from here, you know your men best," Elsargast acknowledged.

"Karceoles and Sh'on will be in charge of range and support," Searon said. He looked at his only magical support and nodded to them.

"It will be done," Karceoles reassured. He got out his pipe and put it in his mouth.

Sh'on only nodded with approval his straight golden locks bouncing on his shoulders.

"Etherond will lead his men since he knows them best as captain," Searon stated. He looked to Etherond who instantly developed a smile at his request.

"Thank you sir," Etherond said and nodded to Searon.

"And Andron will be a captain on the other side, using his tactic skills," Searon announced. He looked to Andron who was still battle worn. He knew he was weak right now, but he had more than proven himself. If it weren't for Andron, there was a high possibility that Searon wouldn't be there. Andron saved his life, and in the process almost destroyed his own. He had overcome it though and returned to them to announce the coming of the new army. He deserved this title.

"I won't let you down," Andron responded his voice stronger than the looks of his fragile body.

He looked a little surprised to be given such responsibility. Especially after he had been gone for so long. He rattled the thought in his mind and knew that Searon trusted him. He had been with him for a long while now and proven himself every step of the way. He planned to do the best he could for his leader.

"What about you Searon?" Elsargast asked. His face tilted as he looked at Searon with wonder.

"I fight with my men. I will be wherever I am needed on the battlefield." Searon replied. He saw the nodded approval of each of his men.

"Alright it is time to make preparations," Elsargast said, "This room is dismissed."

Searon stood outside and looked at his men. Everyone was tightening their armor, preparing food and drink, and practicing swordplay. Sparks scattered the field as blades crossed and Searon smiled. He knew they all wouldn't make it, and even his men knew it. That didn't scare them, instead of resting, they continued to practice. His men were loyal. There was nothing going to stop them from fighting till the end so they could all go back to their families.

He motioned for Andron and Etherond to come to him. He needed to discuss how they were going to set up swordsmen. The two walked proud side by side as the spoke to each other. They were probably speaking of their own ideas for leadership. They both knew they were in charge of their squads, but also knew that Searon had the complete control. They were mere battle leaders.

"We need to coordinate positions for us to be when they attack. They are going to attack us from the south," Searon stated. He looked at the two captain's astonished faces.

"They are coming from northeast," Andron argued. He did not wish to make Searon upset, but he didn't understand where he was coming from.

"Yes, but if we have ranzak and daerions together, then I have to assume that they are smart. Now tell me Andron, why would attacking from the south be the smartest move?" Searon asked.

Andron looked around carefully. He looked at how the city was, the roads and the buildings all heading in separated roads from the south. He started thinking like it was his attack. All the small roads in the town connected to a larger path in the south.

"They would attack from the south because it is the only direction where the main road forks in each direction, making it easy for an army to spread through town without being too cramped," Andron stated. A smile replaced his grim expression. He knew Searon had a reason for his logic. He understood now that he still had much to learn. He felt uneasy about already being appointed a captain.

"Very good, therefore the south is most dangerous, the reason it is built like this?" Searon asked. He looked to the two of them as they thought about it.

"The elves have no enemies south of them," Etherond said. Elsargast knew he was right and he smiled at his answer.

"Yes, now my plan is I cover the south, Etherond you cover the east, and Andron you guard the west. We each have a messenger to deliver information between each other," Searon said. He looked to both of his captains for approval.

"What of the north? Shouldn't it be protected?" Etherond asked. He looked towards the north and noticed the elves standing under discussion.

"I am sure Vil'ek will be guarding it. Elves are practical in battle, they do not know it like I do, they will choose the obvious," Searon said. He turned to look at the elves and shook his head with distaste.

Searon dismissed them and leaned against a tree. He pondered how they were going to get through this. It seemed all their odds were against them. He only hoped the willpower of his men would prevail in battle. He stopped worrying about it when he saw Anaela. She looked so beautiful in her green and silver armor. Her helmet was still at her side, letting her gorgeous brunette hair hang down and sparkle.

Everything is going to be okay, it has to be. He thought.

Searon woke in the morning to a quick knock on his door. He jumped up from his bed. He was already wearing his armor. He was prepared to start fighting anytime. He put his helmet on and went to the door holding the hilt of his claymore as he opened it.

Anaela stood on the other side with a worried expression on her face. She was in her green and silver chest plate and small plate on her hips exposing her legs, "Can I come in?" She pleaded. Her voice was so soft that it almost melted his heart.

"Is everything ok?" Searon asked. He knew she didn't wish to be around him, so he could only imagine it was something important, or something was wrong.

She brushed past him and entered. He looked out the door and saw everything seemed okay. He gently closed the door and turned around to see Anaela sitting on the couch. He walked over and sat down next to her.

He looked into her fierce green eyes that shone back to him. He became dazed, as he got lost in the swirls. He daydreamed of a sort moment where the two of them stood hand in hand looking deep into each other's souls. He heard a slight murmur, which caused him to shake his head and look back at her face.

"Did you hear what I said?" She asked. She looked into his eyes with wonder at what had caused his lack of attention.

He shook his head as his eyes swayed over to her luscious lips. He could almost taste her kiss against his lips again. Her lips seemed to sparkle a light purple as he looked at them. Another reason he had to shake his head again as she spoke.

"The king has asked for us to scout the area and find the location of their army," Anaela said.

Searon raised his eyebrow and pondered on what she said for a moment. "He said that he wanted us specifically to search?"

Inside he smiled. It meant more time with the beautiful elf. He knew he couldn't convince her to look at him in a different way, but just to spend more time with her meant more than he could comprehend. Even if she didn't return his feelings for her, just being by her side made his heart almost feel complete again. The only woman to ever do that to him was Victoria. He didn't understand what made this elf so special. Something about her reminded him of his deceased wife.

She wasn't too much like his wife, but her compassion for others. That must have been it. There were certain similarities that drove Searon to her like a moth to a flame. He only wished she felt some of the same things he felt, but he could cope with the fact it was one sided.

"Yes," Anaela said. The expression on her face wasn't excited. In fact it seemed lack of emotion, as if it almost depressed her that she had to scout with Searon.

"You don't sound thrilled," Searon commented. He looked into his eyes doing his best to concentrate at the task at hand.

"Let's just get over with this," Anaela responded. She didn't even attempt to deny that she didn't like the fact she had to travel with him.

"You could at least pretend to be excited," Searon said. The door was already closed and Anaela outside. If she caught what Searon said she chose to ignore it. Searon sighed and headed out the door.

Karceoles stood silent as he inspected the surroundings. It was one of the few times he was quiet. His cousin Sh'on was content with the silence. Sh'on took more action and fewer words. Karceoles, however, always had to open his mouth. If there was something to say, he had no problem saying it.

The wind brushed against the wizard's face as he closed his eyes. The birds chirped in the distance causing a soothing melody to his ears. As his eyes opened flower petals brushed across his body as the wind picked up. The scent was soothing to his nostrils and he smiled.

With how the town was set up Karceoles pondered how to best set up the human archers. He knew the elven archers were more accurate, so the human archers would be better placed as scatter fire into the oncoming attack. He wanted arrows well past the front line so the melee had a damaged front line to defend against.

There were only a few roads going through Sudegam. He looked at the buildings, most trees hollowed out for business or living quarters. There were a few stone buildings for business covered with the wilderness of ivy growing up. In a human town the choice would be obvious, he would place the archers on the rooftops so they could shoot into the oncoming villains. This was not so simple. On the ground archers had a disadvantage. The only high ground was trees, and it was useless putting humans on trees. Besides Aliqua already claimed them for spell casters.

"What do you think Shronan?" Karceoles asked. He trusted the mage with battle tactics more than himself.

"About what?" Sh'on responded raising a bushy blond eyebrow.

"Where we should place the human archers so they have the most advantage," Karceoles pondered. He continued to look around his surroundings finding no hint of a pattern enough for a plan.

"Why don't we just split them up into packs at second lines for each melee army. They each fire into the crowd and back as melee goes in. Then when overrun they meet at the stronghold continuing the attack from a distance," Sh'on stated in a matter of fact tone.

"Well that could work… but remember, I still am better looking than you," Karceoles responded quickly pacing off away from the mage.

Sh'on smiled, "Keep telling yourself that old man."

Aliqua stood in the forest and let the wind brush across her dark face. She looked at the Elvin spell casters, there were only a hundred, which was a small force compared to everyone else. Magic had its place though. Most were good at healing, or slowing the opponent with spells. Others could use haste, and only some knew shield magic. As for offensive spells there wasn't much that they knew. That is why she chose to hide in the trees.

She gave all of them herbs from her store and taught them simple spells to blow healing or slowing herbs to a location. She kept her own personal stash in her leather sash.

None of the spell casters wore anything more than leather covering the chest and hips with colored robes over them. They didn't need much though, all it would do is slow them down. Aliqua wore maroon silk robes that left her lower back and stomach exposed, as well as above her chest in an area as it connected behind her neck.

Aliqua's chocolate body stood out from the pale white of the rest of the elves. She did not know why she was born different; she didn't know her parents. She was the only elf with chocolate skin, but she was a true elf. She was a few hundred years old with sharp ears. None were discriminate to her, because they were all the same, they were all elves. She wore a gold circlet on her head, which complimented her skin. She was also the only spell caster with a zylek. It wasn't made of wood like Karceoles, but black steel. On the top it had a blue globe that glowed when channeling magic.

"Aliqua, we have finished placing traps on the trees," a pale redheaded elf said as she walked up. Her red hair and freckles made her a unique elf herself.

"Thank you Linyah, now we must prepare invisible steps to be able to climb the trees fast," Aliqua said.

"Yes ma'am," Linyah said as she walked off, her blue robes blowing in the wind.

Karceoles stood in the forest alone. He let Sh'on separate all the archers into groups and explain the plan to them. Karceoles wasn't interested in all of that. He was ready to fight, so until then he was preparing. He walked around the forest placing magical traps to be run into.

He created fire pits, hidden quick sand, and swinging branches. He walked around inspecting every area that he could use as a weapon. He made holes with his zylek and covered them in leaves for the enemy to fall into. The dirt from the holes he bagged up and attacked them to tripping ropes so when ran across, the dirt would be tossed towards them to blind their eyes.

He sat down and smoked from his pipe. The aroma of heavy tobacco filled the air as he made smoke rings. It was relaxing out there in the forest, almost peaceful. War was coming and he wanted to enjoy the last few moments of peace.

Searon had been traveling with Anaela for hours now trying to find the location of the army. The forest seemed quiet, almost too quiet. The wind brushed across the pine leaves, but that was the only sound. They didn't see any deer, birds, or even squirrels.

During the journey where they were slowing to a resting walk Searon would talk with Anaela. He couldn't help but look at her beauty as they talked. With her perfect soft straight hair, her gorgeous green eyes that complimented her green and silver armor.

"Why is it so wrong for an elf to be with a human?" Searon asked.

"We are immortal, you are not," Anaela said.

"So it is as simple as that? Since we don't live forever, we are not worthy of love?" Searon asked.

"That is how Elsargast feels, some have tried to fight against it, but it is a forbidden rule that he will not change," Anaela said.

"By some do you mean Starlyn?" Searon asked.

Anaela smiled showing her perfect white teeth. "Yes Starlyn, she tried hard after meeting your brother."

"She told you about that?" Searon asked.

"No intentionally, but the way she spoke when she returned, well his name came up a few times," Anaela said.

"Do you think that is where she went?" Searon asked.

"I do, but I believe there is more to her journey, and we won't know until she tells us," Anaela said.

Finally they reached the camp, they saw ranzaks and daerions, but no leader. They seemed anxious, ready to fight. Either their leader wasn't there, or they were awaiting the orders. Searon backed up and looked at Anaela.

"What are they waiting for?" Anaela asked.

"I don't know, but we better get back and tell Elsargast that their army is ready for attack but stands still," Searon said.