Prologue

The black and gray furry one slips out of the woods and onto a path leading towards the city deep within the forest. He has traveled many days into the setting sun to reach this city. The city that the pointy eared two legged ones call home. The city of never-ending mists is far behind him, yet he doesn't gaze back.

Through the lightly defended gates he passes without a second thought. Knowing that the very woods themselves are far better than any walls could be. He has heard tales of whole armies being led in circles by the elven ones. Till the armies were out of food and turned for home.

Padding lightly along the streets till he comes to a side street. Turning down the lane, he travels on till he reaches a place with laughter flowing from within. Patiently he waits outside the door, ears cocked forward listening to the sounds inside the building. His body tenses up and he moves closer to the door. The door opens allowing a patron out onto the street. He slips along the wall and into the building before the door closes on his tail.

Once inside the pub, he moves towards a table in the corner. Slipping under it, he lays down in the far corner of the main room of the tavern. Glancing out from under the table, he slowly checks each patron with his sense of smell. Seeking to find fear or anger underlying the powerful odor of wine. Finding none, he lowers his shaggy head unto his furry paws and waits.

After some time has passed and evening has set in, the crowd grows in size. A few minutes later he can hear the sounds of a hoofed one. Testing the air he knows that it is one of the Chosen hoofed ones and not a horse that has entered. The noise in the tavern called The Pub of the Towers dies down.

The centaur speaks in a high femine voice. She tells the gathering that she has been hired to tell the tale of why HighTower castle has been built. The wolf under the table closes his eyes and listens to her musical voice as she begins....
 

Chapter #1

Seaka-san didn't like his first posting within the king's army. Being placed in a tiny outpost between Highleaf and Thungar. Nothing more than a trading post with wooden palisade and a tall keep in the center.

 Traders from Evermist, Panadin and Highleaf came here to trade with the dwarven ones. There were other races present. About 40 centaurs looking to trade bows for minerals. Elves and gnomes are looking for magical ingredients for their spells, yet there was no more than 15 of the both combined. In all, there is about 75 traders, adding in the garrison, a total of 200 Chosen.

Seaka-san stood his post on the northern wall watching the trading take place below. Yet his mind was on the invasion that overran Were. Thinking of the scrolls received by the captain from the King. The captain informed them that the King's best knights were going to bring the V'lalek to bay. Their orders are to hold at all costs to keep the V'lalek from flanking the king's army. Yet Seaka knew that they would be guarding traders while others were working great deeds. Seaka greatest hope would to be marching into battle with the king's army so he could tell all back home of how great he was.

A glint of light, far out to the north, catches Seaka's eye. His gaze turns upward from the traders towards it. Yet it is too far away to be made out. Thinking it nothing more than another dwarven trader coming to sell off some metals. Dismissing it from his mind, he walks along the rampart to another guard.
 

Chapter #2

The day passes and Seaka is relieved of his post. After he has eaten, he beds down in the barracks. Mental boredom has taken it's toll on him. Other guards off duty are dicing at one end of the room as sleep takes him. Drifting off, he dreams of the glorious deeds being worked elsewhere by the king and his knights.

Dawn has not even shown its face when Seaka is shaken awake for his next turn guarding the walls. Moving slowly, his eyes gain their focus while searching for his high boots and chain mail shirt. Donning the armor and strapping on his sword, his hand wraps around the short spear. Moving quietly through the barracks, he slips out into the chill air of the night. Across the compound and onto the walls before his brain is active. Upon reaching the top he relieves the guard on duty and begins his silent vigil. The torches mounted on the outside of the wooden palisade cast light out a hundred paces from the base of the keep.

A loud gurgle can be heard from another farther down the palisade. Turning his attention towards it, Seaka barely sees the next guard grab his throat before toppling backwards into the courtyard. Shock grabs Seaka as he wanders what it could have been, for the guard is not rising up. Suddenly a faint rumble can be felt and grows in strength. An arrow sprouts from the palisade right in front of him with a dull thunk. His mind spins as he realizes that they are under attack. Racing across the palisade he shouts out to all. snatching up a shield leaning against the wall, he turns as another arrows zings by his head. A guard in the courtyard has heard his shout and races off to warn others. The rumbling of the ground has the palisade vibrating beneath his feet. A trumpet can be heard inside the keep as guards tumble from the barracks and race for the walls.

Staring hard into the inky blackness, Seaka could swear that the ground itself was moving in waves. A few seconds pass as ogres, minotaurs and trolls swarm into the light cast by the torches. A wave of snarling evil washes up against the walls as they attempt to climb inside. Driving his spear into the face of a minotaur, he drives it back into the horde. All along the wall, men are screaming for assistance. Seaka knows that if they gain the walls, then all shall perish.

Dwarves rush to the top, wielding axes and swords. Mingling with the human guards they smash faces and split skulls of anything that pokes its head over the top. An ogre pulls himself over only to be blasted back over the top by a ball of fire from the courtyard. The elves and gnomes have joined in with their great magic. The melee swirls and flows till the palisade is awash in blood and brains. Seaka slips along the wall as arrows sail overhead. A minotaur has gained the top and is holding a dwarf and two guards at bay with a mighty ax. Seaka knows that if the minotaur isn't driven from the wall shortly, the rest shall follow him over and then all will be lost. One of the guards rushes in to spear the minotaur only to be cut in two by the huge ax. Yet that leaves the minotaur exposed to the dwarf who swings in low and promptly removes the minotaur's one leg at the knee.

The hordes draw back to prepare for their next attack as Seaka-san and the rest clear the walls of the dead. More torches are added to the walls, casting light farther. A horde can be seen milling about just outside of the light. A call from back down in the yard calls to Seaka. Turning he sees the centaurs standing about with bows in hand and arrows stuck firmly in the ground in front of them. The one calls to him wanting to know how far. Gazing out, he calls back that they are about 150 paces out. The centaur turns to his brethren to form a ragged line. They fan out and pull an arrow from the ground in front of them. The leader tells them to draw their bows. Raggedly they pull back on their strings and arc their bows towards the night sky. One of them shouts out "Lets teach them to fear the Centaurian Bows!" Almost as one they release and arrows disappear into the night sky. Seaka turns his gaze outward, yet knows he won't see the result. Loud curses and a few screams can be heard out past the edge of the light, letting all know that the arrows have found their mark. A cheer bursts forth from the defenders as the centaurs pluck another arrow from the ground as quickly as they can and launch it once more.

Seaka can make out his captain standing with an elf on the parapet. The captain is silently saying something to the elf. After a few minutes, the elf slips over the wall and through the tents the traders left outside the gate.
 

Chapter #3

The sun is peeking over the horizon as Seaka wipes the sweat and blood of others from his brow. Three times the horde tried to gain the walls, three times they were driven back. Yet the Chosen have lost many in the attacks. Barely 75 still lay claim to life within. Seaka's captain is standing beside him watching the evil forces prepare for their next attack. Seaka listens to him as he tells Seaka that if they don't break through this time, then their spirit will be broken. Seaka gazes out on a force that only has about 500 left. Turning his gaze to the east, he realizes that this shall be the last sunrise he will ever see.

Onward they come, screaming with blood lust, towards the walls. they are driven to take the keep. Seaka glances along the walls at the paltry force they have left to hold the walls. The centaurs fire off the last of their arrows over the wall. A few trolls, minotaurs and ogres go down, but it does nothing to slow the onslaught. They wash up against the palisade as the few remaining defenders slash and hack downwards into them. A scream goes up off to Seaka's left, yet he is too busy keeping a troll from gaining the top. The troll reaches for the edge and loses his hand to Seaka's blade. Turning towards the scream, he spies a Minotaur and an ogre have climbed over and stand back to back. They are fending off the defenders as another minotaur climbs up behind them. A blur of movement catches his eye, instinctively he ducks as a club sails over his head. Driving up and to his right, he bodily shoves a V'lalek backwards over the wall and into the crowd below.

 Screams start sounding along the wall as more wash over. A few at first, here and there, then they start to flow over as a wave. The gnomes and elves are chanting and motioning as fireballs and lightning bolts fly everywhere. The smell of burnt flesh mingles with the coppery smell of blood. The battle turns into nothing more than a melee with everyone for themselves. A group of centaurs have formed a ring in the courtyard as the horde drops inside the palisade and charges them. The gnomes and elves back towards the tower, in a futile attempt to hold the entrance.

Seaka glances to both sides and realizes that the wall is lost, his only hope is to make the tower door before he is cut down. Launching himself off the wall, he comes down swinging his sword into the skull of a troll. The troll drops without knowing what has hit it. Rolling off the corpse, he races towards the keep. A minotaur dances in front of him, blocking his way. He dances to the left as an ax sweeps by his side. Driving forward with his sword to thrust it into the minotaur. It steps back and brings its ax around for another swing. In under the ax he races, yet he is too late. The ax comes down with the blade passing over his head. The blade finds its mark in his back, snapping his spine. Seaka drops to the ground, knowing the death blow is coming.....
 

Chapter #4

They race out of the woods and across the plains. Horses sweating as the ground vibrates beneath their hooves. Many bear bandages on them, but all are fit to ride as 300 of the Riders of the Mist charge towards the column of smoke that rises over the hill in front of them. From the battle that has taken place in Falcon Bog the King has sent them to save his outpost east of Highleaf. An elf in robes rides with them.

They rein in at the top to see what is left. The keep before them is nothing more than a smoldering ruin. They ride down to the ruins and into what is left of the keep called High Tower. Bodies are strewn everywhere, evil ones intermixed with humans, dwarves, centaurs, elves and gnomes. The one leading sends men to search for any survivors and another to see where the V'lalek have gone. They return to report that the V'lalek have turned for home for reasons unknown and the other reports that no one is left alive. The elf who rides with them asks what shall become of this place. The leader turns and says, "The King shall rebuild it, he needs this trading post. Yet mark my words.....", glancing around, "He will rebuild it far stronger than it was."
 

Epilogue

The centaurian lady finishes her tale. The few applaud her telling of the story, yet most sit quietly. The furry one raises his muzzle before pushing his shaggy paws under himself to stand up. He slips out from under the table and follows a patron to the door. Padding out behind the patron and into the cool evening air. He sets his weary paws towards the woods and another nights hunt for nourishment.

(careful what you wish for, it just might come true)