The clouds were at war, he observed, pasty cumulus slamming into dark stratus and spiking wisps of vapor across the grey sky. Trees hustled into one another as though spreading secrets through the brush of their leaves, trading suspicions about the upcoming battle between good and evil. Even the air seemed truculent, the humidity seeping in through the layers of his robes, invasive and overbearing.

He continued through the forest, the ground unchanged by his passing. Reticent, jealous holder of information as he was, he had told no one of his coming, let alone the reason for it. His breath came measured and even as he pieced his way through the woodland, while his eyes darted perspicaciously to the torn branches and fallen trees around him, noting how, as he approached the small village they appeared to increase in number.

Forcing himself to continue evenly to keep his presence unknown, Allanon made his way deeper inwards toward the location of the tiny woodland village. Elves never changed with time, he observed tersely to himself, they tended to choose only the most removed and difficult to access places to build their cities and private homes, relying on both an uninvited seeker's curiosity and stamina running out. But, being what he was and knowing what he did of Jerle Shannara's bloodline, Allanon was more than a match for the trek in terms of endurance and will.

As always, the errand was exigent, even more so judging by the destruction that had been wrought on the nearby trees: someone else wanted to reach the heirs to the house of Shannara about as much as he did, and the Druid could only conclude that they wanted to reach them faster.

Inured as he was to the dark prophecies of Bremen's shade, he knew that there were forces moving against him and that he must accept that the outcomes of his searches would not all be as successful as he might have wished. And so he had, accepting each demolished house and razed village as parts of a greater scheme, each time crossing off one more branch of the Shannara tree and each time losing one more potential champion.

The skies rumbled overhead, waiting for the first volley of attacks. He had yet to find even one of the heirs, and with only two remaining relatives left he felt his chances at facing the oncoming storm and weathering it wane by the moment. The Warlock Lord had no limit to his effrontery; young children, human and elvish alike, had been struck down on his command to prevent them from becoming a threat to his rising armies and himself, just as aware of what had been foretold and as erudite as his adversary.

Allanon pressed onwards, feeling the clouds seethe overhead, each fulminating at the other, shouting to send the troops into motion. But what of him? The Druid needed a heir to wield the sword, needed the fight to both start and conclude in his favor. He breached the trees ringing the village and all at once he felt the weight of the five hundred years he'd spent preparing and waiting to destroy Brona for once and for all cascade down upon his shoulders with the onset of the pouring rain.

The skies roared as though war gates had been thrown open and sheets of water soaked the charred stumps of trees and burnt clumps of grass. Where an entire settlement had once stood, there was nothing: only a scorched black smudge that marred the earth and that the rain couldn't wash away, though not for lack of trying.

Several neologisms in the invective raced through his head as the traveler sunk to the earth, his keen senses telling him that the danger had long since passed. If there had ever been a chance to save the village, at the very least escape with the heir, he had missed it a long while ago. Clearly, Brona had kept up with his histories and had traced the Shannara family tree as accurately as he had himself.

Allanon stood, his black robes slick and sticking to themselves, flattening against his body in the onslaught of precipitation. There was one last branch still to be explored, so far removed that he had left it for last, sure that it would hardly been at the forefront of the Warlock Lord's mind. He allowed himself a moment to curse his foolishness and then set off once again on his quest, wondering what prevarications he would come up with this time, what lies he would have to tell and truths he would let march by without mentioning to his newest and last hope for victory.

He wished for a moment that Shea Ohmsford could have had some way of knowing what hurricane he was being dragged into, that the storm that would alter his entire life was sweeping along the coastline to catch up him up, before he too disappeared into the dampening forest, leaving only the pound of the rain and the smell of wet charcoal hanging in the air.