Krecica walked along the ramp leading to the hall of the Faydark's Champions, home of the ranger guild in Kelethin. On her back, a tattered tan pack filled to bursting with the arrows she had fashioned the previous day. She had made this walk seemingly countless times in the past few years, every sight and smell engraved on her memory, she could walk it blindfolded by now.
The Faydark's Champions had long been the most respected organization in Kelethin, new members were held to very strict guidelines and expectations were enormous. Only the best elven archers could bear the mark of these guardians of the Faydark.
Being nearly five years into her scout training, the tenants of the ranger's guild knew Kreci well. As she opened the door to the hall the guildmaster stepped forward to greet her, as did many of her fellow trainees. After getting her greeting and pleasantries out of the way, she made her way to the guild merchants, and presented the pack of ammunition.
"Very nice craftsmanship, milady. You've been improving quite a bit over the years."
Kreci grinned slightly, "I think it an important skill for any ranger to at least know how to craft her own arrows."
"I wouldn't have much business if they all did. These are splendid arrows, I'm sure they'll sell quite nicely. Have you ever given any thought to becoming a professional craftsman?" The merchant opened his coin pouch and handed Kreci a few pieces of gold.
"I'd really rather not. Without the motivation of being able to use them, I don't believe I'd approach the craft with the same dedication."
"If you'll forgive me, milady, you've been training for years now and are still no more than an initiate here. Even the younger elves have passed you in rank, perhaps it may be time to consider other paths. Do you believe you will ever become a full member of the guild?"
Krecica turned and walked out of the merchant room without a word. Other elves had the time to spend all day training, they didn't have to worry about watching out for siblings, making meals for three, or entertaining suitors. As far as she was concerned; for the time she was able to spend, she was ahead of the others.
A few more conversations and pleasantries awaited her on the walk back to the door, but she managed to snake her way to the exit and emerged back into the city proper. With a deep breath, she turned to the ramp to begin her walk back home.
Kreci took her first step, then paused for a moment. A strange feeling in the back of her mind, an uncertainty of some kind. She looked around; somehow, things just didn't feel right, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
The elf shook her head to clear her mind of the feeling and resumed walking, but the thought returned immediately.
As Kreci walked up the ramp, the feeling built a direction. As if by divine insistence, her head turned to the right, bringing the view of one of the lift platforms to her attention. There were always a lot of people on the lift platforms, but something was different today. Today, everyone on this platform was standing still, encircling the platform edge and lift.
Krecica began to walk faster. By the time she had reached the top of the ramp, she was running, startling the many bystanders on the level. Kreci continued to run as she made her way home; whatever was going on at the lift platform, it must be important, and she wanted her brother there to help find out what.
Nagisa sat at the table, a small pile of arrow parts in front of her. Her mind was completely focused on her task, she had been practicing since she woke up. A stack of fairly useless arrows was growing beside her.
At the window, Owinald sat and looked out to the ground below, tired expression upon his face. He had agreed to watch for their mother for Nagisa today, it was the only way to keep her from going out into the Faydark and looking for her.
Krecica arrived and flung the door open, shattering the calm quiet and startling the two Fier'Dal.
Owin rose from his chair and walked toward his sister. "What's wrong?"
"Something's happening." She grabbed her brother and led him outside, Nagisa discarded her current project and darted out the door after them.
A commotion had broken out on the east most lift platform of the city. Kreci and Owin arrived on the scene to find the crowd much larger than she had seen just minutes ago, the thick wall of bodies and rising noise made it impossible to ascertain what the center of the bustle was.
Attempting to push their way through the crowd, the two quickly found themselves separated and trapped amid the mob. There were more than just elves in the crowd; humans, frogloks, even barbarian adventurers littered the mass.
"Can you see anything?" Kreci shouted to her brother. She was turned around and standing on one leg, trying her best not to be toppled by the churning crowd.
Owin wasn't faring much better, he could hold his ground slightly better than his sister, but couldn't see over the tall heads in front of him. "Not yet." He attempted to rise up onto his toes, but a sudden shove from someone to his side sent him toppling to the ground, landing on top of a halfling druid.
"Watch it, sonny!" The harry-footed priest snipped.
"Sorry, I was just trying to see what the commotion was about."
"Well, you won't see much from down here."
Owin fought to rise to his feet, and once more attempted to stand on his toes. He strained to peer through the crowd.
The Halfling looked up to him, "Can you see anything?"
"No, there're too many people in the way."
Weaving her way through more traffic, Nagisa finally arrived at the platform. She looked around, but couldn't find her sister or brother among the mob. As she tried to move in closer, she was bumped back and thrown to the side by yet more arriving onlookers.
A voice rose just faintly over the crowd that Nagi could recognize. "Can you get any closer?" Owin must be shouting to Kreci, she though.
Picking herself up, Nagisa dusted her clothes off and looked to her side to the outer wall of the tavern. Further back, a few barrels had been stacked up against the building. She quickly ran over and climbed atop one of the barrels, then jumped up, just managing to grab the edge of the roof with her hand. She swung her other hand up to secure her grip. Kicking and struggling slightly, the small wood elf managed to pull herself up and on top of the roof.
Nagi deftly ran to the edge of the building closest to the crowd, and quickly spotter her siblings. "Kreci!"
"Nagi?" Krecica shouted and looked around, finally spotting her sister on the tavern roof. "What are you doing up there?"
"Trying to find you two! What's going on?"
"I don't know! You have a better view, what can you see?"
Nagisa looked out further to the center of the crowd. There was a small gap at the center with only a few people in it. "It looks like someone is hurt!"
Owin could now see his sister as well, and called out to her. "Can you see who it is?"
Nagisa strained to see the person slumped on the floor. "I don't know, I think it may be a dwarf!"
The Halfling by Owin's feet interrupted him, "Why in blazes would an injured dwarf come to Kelethin?"
Before an answer could be given, a booming voice washed over the crowd, "Alright, that's enough! I want everyone to back away now!"
Everyone on the platform fell completely quiet. Two city guards and the guard captain approached the outskirts of the mob, swords drawn. "Clear a path! Move!"
Obediently, the crowd parted before the guards as they walked, footsteps seeming to echo in the silence. At the center of the circle, the priests that had been tending to the wounded dwarf stepped back, allowing the captain to approach and kneel beside the bleeding warrior. His armor bore the mark of the Stormguard, defenders of the dwarven city.
"What is the cause of your presence, dwarf? What has happened?"
The dwarf coughed and wheezed in a short breath. Amid the still crowd, his words were heard by them all, "Ogres, and trolls. I don't know where they came from, they seemed to sprout strait out of the mountains, they were everywhere! And then orcs and goblins, and kobalds! Kaladim. Kaladim has fallen!"
Nagisa fell to her knees, staring blankly out at the forest. She turned her head to look to the west, the Butcherblock Mountains obscured beyond the veil of trees. "Mother, father!"