The Eye of the Storm"Is this who we are fighting with?" sparks flew in all directions as Aef-Grimnir literally fumed with rage. "That filthy green scum!"
The string of curses that followed hit Lady Laelanyel like a blast of hot desert wind. Clearly, rumours of the Cleavermaw's involvement in the attack on the Aurannar convoy, minor as it had been, had reached the Runefather. With predictable effects.
The Mistweaver sighed under her shadesteel mask and turned to the duardin.
"I understand your indignation, Runefather. And I cannot say I agreed with the choice to make contact with the Cleavermaw". Neither had she disagreed, but Aef-Grimnir needed not to know that, she thought with a smirk.
"But there have been other choices that worry me more. You know what I'm talking about..."
"That's trivial!", more sparks flew around the couple. "I care not who we fight for, only who we fight with! And that we are paid at battle's end! We have not been, even though the bloody ship went down!"
"And what would you us do? Leave the Dornayar and make our way through a bloody civil war and out of the Prime Dominion alone?"
"Empty ended? Never!"
"Then let me suggest we keep to our unsolvent employer. Orders are to rescue the Eye of Noctis and those defending it. And so it happens that they are sitting ducks outside a vault full of gold... and more".
"Are you suggesting..."
"Well, in the heat of battle, who can tell where we have been?"
Hisses and cries stirred the shadows. Corraling the Umbral Slitherling had been hard, but not overwhelming. The Shadowkin had readied themselves as the Caengan mining upwards announced they were about to breach to the surface.
Then, Fhelthon Metheara had struck, his magic breaking Laelanyel's bonds on the Slitherling and his pike-armed mercenaries driving it into a frenzy. It had rampaged through both warbands and scattered them across the tunnels.
As the beast halted for a moment, Lady Laelanyel hoped things were going better for the Ancient One, Nilmorn, Mappenborough and their columns of wyrms. If they did not make it to the surface, it would have been hard for the Shadoflames to reach the vault's entrance. Though, for the moment, there were more pressing issues to deal with.
The Mistweaver stepped lightly into the tunnel, calling the shadowflames to her side. Only Tark and Narlek answered her call, emerging from the darkness at her sides.
"You humiliated me, Ulguanite!" Fhelthon voice echoed through the tunnel. "Show yourself and face my vengeance!"
Behind him, mercenaries of the Gilded Hand rallied and formed up ranks.
The Umbral Slitherling hissed and darted for Tark, slamming him against the tunnel walls.
Narlek harnessed the shadows around them and together with Lady Laelanyel advanced, arrows and bolts of darkness raining upon Fhelthon. Tark rolled away from the Slitherling, lobbing a throwing axe at the Loreseeker.
Still, Fhelthon came forward, sheer hatred in his eyes, slashing past Narlek to strike at the Mistweaver. Behind him, the human mercenaries advanced under crossbolt fire.
More fighters rallied from the Slitherling's earlier rampage and came rushing in from the side entrances to the tunnel.
With relentless zeal, Aef-Grimnir rushed towards the Umbral Slitherling. With the skill earned over years of Magmadroth hunts he struk at the beast, not to kill, but to cow and subdue.
Narlek moved away to intercept the incoming mercenaries as coils of shadow lashed from Lady Laelanyel's staff.
With increadible speed, Fhelthon dodged the grasping tendrils and his long sword came down in a furry of blows.
"That's were you belong, Ulguan witch!" he growled through teeth grinded in despise as the Mistweaver fell under his blows.
"The Lux Umbra will be your tomb and my honour restored. Now, prepare to die, knowing that no god will hear your prayers!" As his blade came down, Lady Laelanyel closed her eyes. In her ears, a roar and a female voice lingered like mist over the Ulguan planes.