Five months had passed since the Vicery hive, though it felt like five weeks to Zacarish as he passed from the corridor into his room. He had noticed an air of anticipation in the air as he strode through the halls, though anticipation for what he did not know. What unnerved him though, was that he could feel it too.
His training with Master Hammerfist had been uneventful. He and the stalwart dwarf seemed to have had nothing in common other than their shared affinity for metal furies. Zacarish could not understand it, for despite the fact that he had a great deal of skill in manipulating the furies attuned to metal, it had been Daruk who had truly connected with Hammerfist. But then, they were both dwarves. At the weak stab of jealousy that had entered his mind Zacarish shook his head and smiled ruefully.
After all, he had learned what he came to learn. However he had learned little else, other than a few shortcuts usable when working metal in a forge. Sitting at the desk, he rested his head on his hands. This time, when he smiled it was grim. Five long months had passed, yet still the pain was fresh in his mind. An excellent memory was a blessing at the best of times, but at the worst it was a curse. He could still see Djinn beginning to glow, could still see the ferocious smile of the man just before the flame within broke free of him, immolating him and the Vicery guardian that had held him. He could still see Belak lying still on the ground, his once grey skin pale in death and an expression of utter peace on his face.
He clutched at his head, trying to banish the memories by sheer willpower. But he was too weak. The memories never left him, not even on his dying day.
The furies coursed through him, the struggle a welcome distraction from the pain of the memories that faded but never vanished entirely. He manipulated the caldrite whip, using his combined metal and air furies to use it faster and faster until Zacarish himself had almost disappeared behind a blur of metal. But working the furies in such a way was draining and Zacarish released his grip on them, sitting down on the bed with a thud. But all through that, the anticipation was still in the back of his mind. A feeling that had no doubt been spread through the bond, a feeling that the time of calm study was coming to an end.
This feeling was proved as a presence flared in the bond and Nesrin’s voice followed it soon afterwards. “Assemble my warriors. We must make haste to our next assignment. I expect you armed and equipped for a journey in ten minutes. Meet on Landing 9. I will explain there..."
The Qalm gathered and it was as a group that they made their way to Landing 9. Zacarish noted the increased levels of activity in the Talissariat, servants and Tashiri rushing to complete whatever task had been appointed to them. An air of nervous energy permeated the Temple and the source became apparent all too soon. As they passed through the main entrance hall they saw a collection of Wood Elves, all of regal bearing. But the Wood Elves themselves were not what drew stares, but the huge, silver furred stags that stood beside each one of them. To Zacarish this was merely a curiosity, for he knew next to nothing of the Wood Elves. But the black sashed masters speaking with the delegation confirmed the importance of the Wood Elves, even if the reason for the respect given was unknown to Zacarish.
Moving swiftly through the rest of the temple, the Qalm finally found themselves on Landing 9, the second time they had stood upon it for an outward bound journey; the last occasion one that Zacarish had no doubt the rest of his Qalm members felt as he did, that it would be better to forget it and move on. But the holes in the bond were palpable and if Zacarish had forgotten, he would never have forgiven himself
We went about checking our equipment and the supplies in the repaired air carriage’s storage compartment. It seemed to take a lifetime for Nesrin to arrive but when he did he was garbed for war and his expression showed a terrifying seriousness and an astounding focus. "We must make haste younglings," he says without preamble, "The forest home of the Wood Elves is under attack by the Taroug." He may have seen the scepticism in our eyes, or merely felt it through the bond but he forged onwards, ignoring our disbelief. "To make matters worse, this is no mere roving pack of the beasts. They are a great contingent and with the information that I have been provided the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they wish to decimate the elves and take Caratad for themselves. How the managed to breach the walls of the Fortress Country to begin with is unknown, but the Crown Prince of Elorain brought this entreaty to the Radan himself, that alone gives all the credence to his report that is needed."
His heavy gaze passed all of them, settling for a moment on each warrior. Zacarish almost shivered when the Hetat’s gaze settled on him.
"Something dark stirs these things. First the Vicery in a strength we have not seen in a century, now the Taroug rampaging unchecked inside the walls of fortress country. We must be on our guard my warriors.... Something about these events makes me uneasy. They are linked in some way, I can feel it." Shaking his head, he continued speaking. "Mount up. We fly straight through the night. We must arrive with all haste."
Zacarish called the air furies, let them rush to him and opened his soul to serve as a conduit. He watched as those who could not fly entered the air carriage. He lifted from the ground a mere second after Nesrin himself, as did the others. As they cleared the parapet Zacarish took the opportunity to look round and saw that no fewer than 15 air carriages were lifting off from various other landing platforms. A dozen Qalms or more. No doubt about it, the Tashiri were going to war...