Scars of Caen was a narrative league for Warmachine & Hordes that took place in 2014
by William Shick
Occupied Llael, Just South of the Thundercliff Peaks, 608 AR
A jet-black form soared through the night sky, its bulk borne aloft on vast leathery wings. If not for the great expanse of stars blotted out by the speeding figure, the massive creature’s passage would have been all but invisible to any who looked to the sky. It was for this reason the dragon Charsaug preferred to travel at night. His keen intellect—one half of the ancient and terrible dragon Erdross—knew the value of guile. Whereas his brother Ashnephos struck boldly and without subtlety in the twins’ war against the hated agents of Behemoth who had so long ago struck down their forebear, Charsaug preferred to strike from the shadows.
It was not the pursuit of that old feud that brought about his flight tonight, however, but matters pertaining to a far older and deadlier war in which Charsaug and his twin took part—a war whose focus had shifted suddenly and dramatically.
The dragon’s keen eyes easily pierced the veil of darkness enshrouding his majestic frame. Slowly he wheeled as he readied to land within a forested grove at the foot of what mortals called the Thundercliff Peaks. As he neared the ground he pumped his great wings, sending cyclonic blasts of scorching air to buffet the land beneath. The force of the wind sheared off the tops of pines that had stood for centuries, splintering their immense trunks like kindling.
With the sound of thunder and the tremor of an avalanche, Charsaug’s powerful form came to rest upon Caen. At his touch, the ground beneath his clawed feet blackened and cracked like flesh put to a white-hot iron. Trees that had survived the dragon’s descent were snapped like twigs as he strode through the forest. Perhaps annoyed by the continued hindrance of the old growth, Charsaug shook his body to send forth a spray of molten lava from beneath his black scales. In moments the night was illuminated as liquid stone ignited the evergreens.
The dragon seemed to take no note of the inferno his presence had unleashed upon the once-idyllic landscape. Instead he stopped and dug his claws into the smoking earth, tearing up great chunks of soil, root, and rock like a monstrous dog digging for a long-buried bone. The sight was lost on those few creatures that had survived the dragon’s arrival; they sought only to flee for their lives as their world burned around them.
Caelan the Waykeeper’s skin tingled as she exited the ley line in a flash of green-hued light. Her mystical senses, attuned to the unique energies of the veins of Orboros, told her that her party remained intact. She felt a small euphoric rush at the successful transit. Though nearly all higher-ranking druids could travel through the ley line network, far fewer were able to safely guide large groups of those who lacked the wilding. Travel via ley lines was extremely rapid, but even a brief time within the veins of Orboros could prove highly dangerous. The ley lines were far from a constant, static path. They were less like roads than like rivers, changing their course to flow around any obstacles—sometimes with disastrous consequences.
“This place does not show signs of being touched by the presence of a dragon.” The familiar alto voice of Master Huntsman Berrick was much at odds with his exceedingly large frame. No matter how long Caelan worked with him, she still could not shake the thought that the Wolf of Orboros’ voice belonged in a man half his size.
“Your eyes do not deceive you, Master Huntsman. This place has not suffered the blight of Toruk’s progeny.” Caelan turned to face Berrick, who had yet to don his bronze wolf helm. His fierce green eyes flicked predatorily across the landscape. The wild mass of dark black hair and beard only added to his feral appearance. As far as Caelan was concerned, Berrick looked far more like the symbol of his order without his helm than with it. “I could not chance using the veins of Orboros to bring us directly to our destination. The damage they have suffered from the dragon’s blight makes them far too dangerous.” She pointed to the north, where the towering Thundercliff Peaks filled the horizon. “But we are close.”
“I’ve never feared a walk, Waykeeper,” Berrick said, resting his cleft spear across his shoulder. A wolfish smile appeared within the tangle of hair covering his face. He motioned to his pack—a mix of Wolves and reeves—and the group began marching northward, with the reeves moving far ahead to serve as scouts. Although there was no immediate sense of danger, the group spread out in a patrolling pattern with weapons held at the ready.
Caelan took up her position near the center of the pack. If trouble did arise, there would be no safer place. It was the pack’s job to protect her with their own lives; she knew that her safety was precisely the reason they accompanied her. Nevertheless, the thought of others sacrificing their lives for her own had always made Caelan uncomfortable. Her old mentor Donavus the Wornrock had told her these feelings would pass with time as she began to understand her role and importance within the Circle. Such knowledge would illuminate why different values were placed upon the lives of those who served Orboros. Still, the longer she spent with Berrick and his pack, the more her sense of responsibility for their lives grew.
The group made quick progress across the rolling Llaelese farmland. Caelan could feel the pulse of the ley line beneath them as they went, and she used it to guide them to the conjunction that was their final destination. The monotony of travel left her mind free to wander, and she found herself considering exactly what they would find once they arrived at the nexus. Her instructions from Lyvene the Wayopener had been brief. All Caelan knew was that there was a disruption in the network believed to have been caused by intense exposure to dragon blight.
With a sliver of her arcane power she traced the path of the ley line toward the nexus. She was startled by the sudden alteration in the line as her mind crossed the threshold of what must be the blighted area. Her brow furrowed behind the cloth that covered most of her face as she analyzed the corrupted line. If this was the damage done at the periphery of the dragon’s blight, she struggled to imagine what she would find at its epicenter. Anxiety seized her as she wondered if she would be up to the task set before her.
She was startled from her thoughts by Berrick. “Even with your coverings I can see your worry, Waykeeper.” He hesitated, turning his eyes northward as he considered his next words. “I will admit that you are not alone.”
Caelan looked up at Berrick, careful to mask any hint of surprise or concern his statement caused her. For a moment she wondered if he was questioning her abilities. “What do you mean?” she asked.
Berrick did not return her look, instead staring intently at the landscape around them. Caelan realized it was not her abilities he was concerned about.
“This place . . . there is something gravely wrong here. There is no . . . ” His voice trailed off and he shifted uncomfortably as he struggled to express his apprehension. Caelan was confident such feelings were quite rare for the master huntsman. “There is no life here,” Berrick said at
last. He shook his head and looked at her apologetically. “Forgive me, Waykeeper. I do not mean to burden you with my childish prattle.”
Caelan was unsure how to respond to Berrick’s surprising candidness. She had never seen the man show any vulnerability before—indeed, she had not even thought him capable of such an emotion. There was a long moment of silence as she searched for an appropriate reply. By the time she found one, Berrick had quickened his pace and was moving back toward the front of the pack.
They made the rest of the journey in relative silence. Caelan soon realized how accurate Berrick’s assessment had been, despite his difficulty in expressing it. The more she focused on their surroundings, the more she was reminded of a tomb. She had been less aware of this deathly atmosphere earlier because of her connection with the ley line below, which still thrummed and pulsed with its own life. But now even that constant was slowly changing as their company crossed the invisible border of the dragon’s influence. The aura of blight emanating from both the corrupted ley line and the tainted landscape made Caelan’s stomach churn. She steeled herself, knowing the effects of the blight would only worsen as they neared the nexus.
Nothing, however, could have prepared her for the devastation the great dragon had left behind. Caelan heard gasps from the Wolves nearby as they witnessed the awesome aftermath of the dragon’s presence. Blackened and broken tree trunks jutted from the cracked, smoldering earth. Ash floated like fog, casting a grey pallor across the area.
The visual bleakness of the scene was nothing, however, compared to the feel of the place. It made Caelan’s skin crawl. To her attuned senses, standing among the blighted energies felt like being smothered in a wet, moldy blanket. She found it hard to breath; the air seemed to stick in her lungs. She struggled to fight off the waves of nausea and dizziness that assaulted her with every step.
Caelan had been taught some of the Circle’s knowledge of dragons, and Donavus had impressed on her the danger they posed to all of Immoren. Though the creatures had remained quiet for the past few centuries, ancient accounts told of dragons laying waste to various locations for their own inscrutable reasons. The stories Caelan had heard from druids who had been to those ruined places had conveyed a sense of the desolation, but none had mentioned the intense feeling of wrongness she felt now. Certainly no account she had ever heard suggested a dragon deliberately targeting the veins of Orboros. As far as the Circle knew, the dragons were not even aware of the ley line network. It was possible this blighted infection was coincidental, but to her senses it felt deliberate.
A thought struck her: Could the disturbing sensations she was feeling mean the dragon was still present, perhaps having chosen to lair in this most unlikely of places? Carefully she probed the area with her mind, but she could sense nothing of a dragon’s presence. Relieved, Caelan chastised herself for thinking such things. If a dragon were here, she doubted she would need her finely tuned senses to detect it.
Suddenly she felt a strong hand upon her shoulder. She looked up in surprise, and an acute wave of vertigo swept through her. She felt Berrick’s grip tighten as she fought to maintain her balance. Weakly she tried to ward him off, saying, “I’m fine, Master Huntsman.” Her voice sounded unsteady to her own ears.
“I’m sorry to disagree, Waykeeper, but you are not fine.” He looked around, his green eyes narrowing. “This place is fouled.” When he looked back to her, Caelan was surprised to see the usual fierceness in his stare gone, replaced by a primal anxiety. “You must heal it,” he said.
Caelan’s chest tightened at Berrick’s words. She had begun her training as a talented wayfarer and had spent time among the stone keepers. She had risen to the rank of waykeeper because she was so innately attuned to the energies that comprised the veins of Orboros. She knew Berrick had seen her perform what would appear to be miracles to a member of the Wolves of Orboros.
But here? Now?
She was certain such a thing was far beyond her ability. This place was dead, and Caelan doubted it would ever be resurrected, perhaps not even with the efforts of the omnipotents themselves. Still, she had to try.
Fighting past the smothering sickness that assaulted her, Caelan focused her attention on the point of ley line convergence. She immediately felt herself retch as an entirely new and more powerful wave of blighted energies poured into her through the mystical connection.
The agony made her want to scream. She felt as if fat maggots were crawling beneath her skin. She wanted to rip herself open and dig them out of her flesh. Her head throbbed, and stabbing pain shot through her eyes from behind.
Berrick was speaking to her. She barely heard his voice, but the concern in his tone was clear. A single thought came to her: she had failed.
This thought pierced her mind like a lightning bolt and shocked her into defiance. She would not allow herself to fail. Even though it seemed the dragon’s blight had corrupted much of this place beyond repair, nothing on Caen could exist completely bereft of the power of Orboros. Concentrating with all her might, Caelan drew upon the primal energies below. As she gathered her power, she shaped it into potent wards and let it purify her body like wildfire. Slowly reality returned to her as the ravages of the blight were repulsed.
“Waykeeper!” Berrick’s voice was sharp and fearful. Caelan realized he was supporting her entire weight, her legs having given out completely when the blight consumed her senses.
She placed a trembling hand upon his chest. “I am all right, Master Huntsman.” Pulsing green runes surrounded her, the fierceness of their glow bathing Berrick in unnatural light. “Truly, you may release me,” she said, a little more firmly.
“Of course, Waykeeper.” Despite the concern in his eyes, Berrick did not press her for more information. Caelan noticed, however, that he remained close to her side as she made her way toward the nexus. She had to pick her way carefully across the ground, walking around several massive rents that were deeper than Berrick was tall. Upon closer inspection Caelan concluded these had been deliberately made by the dragon using its massive claws to scar the earth.
Adequately prepared this time for the feel of the severe blight within the ley lines, Caelan began a more thorough examination. Her brow furrowed in concentration as she drew greater amounts of arcane power into mystic shapes about her before sending tendrils of energy into the earth. With the skill of a surgeon, Caelan manipulated the strands to probe the churning ley line nexus. Somehow the dragon’s blight had seeped directly into it, and the blighted energies had mixed with the pure energies of Orboros. Like a virus, this corruption had used the pure energy to amplify itself. To Caelan’s horror, she realized that if left unchecked the blighted energy would begin to spread beyond this place and into the connecting ley lines. She would have to isolate the blight quickly. If it were to spread beyond the nexus, the ley line network in the entire region could be compromised.
The thought chilled her to the core.
Before she could continue, a commotion from the eastern perimeter drew her attention. She heard the shouts of one of Berrick’s reeves and the distinct twang of a crossbow. She caught Berrick’s eye for only a moment before the big man was off, pulling on his helm and shouting for his pack to converge on him.
Caelan released the nexus and hurried to join the Wolves who were rushing to engage the unknown threat. She heard several more shouts, followed by the sound of more crossbow bolts being loosed. Her grip tightened instinctively on the haft of her voulge. The shapes of two reeves fell back from the black and broken tree line. Despite the speed of their retreat they moved with coordinated precision, one firing while the other fell back and reloaded.
She strained her eyes, trying to pick out the enemy that had beset them. Shadowy forms began to solidify in front of her. Their shape and mass left little doubt they were trollkin, likely from one of the many small kriels that made their home near the foot of the Thundercliff Peaks. As the trollkin advanced, Caelan realized why she had thought them obscured by shadow. Their normally light-blue skin was splotched by heavy patches of black that sloughed and flaked off their bodies like ash from coals long gone cold.
Caelan watched as a crossbow bolt hit one of these blighted trollkin in its blackened shoulder. Instead of sticking in flesh, the bolt disintegrated the creature’s entire shoulder in a cloud of ash, and the arm that had been attached to it crumbled as it fell to the ground. The wretched trollkin howled and rushed toward the offending reeve. Before it could close, however, three more bolts thudded into its chest, this time finding flesh beneath the exterior of blackened ash. With one final moan the trollkin fell dead to the ground.
More of the trollkin were already breaking from the trees, each bearing the same signs of blight. That the trollkin could even function given the terrible effects of the blight on their flesh was unsettling, but far worse was the realization that none had been spared its torments. Caelan saw young and old, male and female, advancing toward her from the tree line, their eyes flickering with madness brought on by the unending torture of the dragon’s blight.
Memories of the sensation of the dragon’s blight within her own body flashed through Caelan’s mind. She shivered. Even a few moments gripped by the warping powers had been sheer agony. How terrible must it have been when the dragon was physically present?
Berrick gave a shout, and a volley of crossbow bolts hissed toward the onrushing trollkin. While nearly all found their mark, the blight seemed to combine with the trollkin’s innate hardiness to protect them from all but the most grievous of wounds. Caelan summoned forth her own power. Jagged mystical patterns blazed as she ripped up a great chunk of earth and hurled it at the trollkin. She felt some satisfaction as several were smashed beneath it in a spray of dirt and rock.
The reeves loosed one final volley at the oncoming trollkin before Berrick gave his Wolves the order to charge. As one, they leveled a line of glinting steel at the trollkin and rushed forward, howls of battle upon their lips. Caelan raised a second chunk of earth and sent it barreling into the enemy line.
The trollkin carried only simple axes and swords, likely kept for self-defense. They appeared to have been regular folk, now driven to madness and savagery by the corruption of the dragon. The Wolves, on the other hand, were trained and disciplined soldiers. They lacked the physical strength and resilience of the trollkin, but they were outfitted for battle and trained with a predator’s instinct. The momentum of their charge imbued their cleft spears with penetrating power that punched through the blighted trollkin flesh in an explosion of black ash. Where trollkin blood was shed it was thick and viscous; it sizzled and smoked like caustic acid.
The Wolves coordinated their strikes, using the reach afforded by their weapons to keep the stronger trollkin at bay while their comrades drove spears deep into their enemies’ exposed sides. Berrick’s voice rang out over the clamor of battle as he directed the attacks of his pack members with lethal efficiency. Though outnumbered, the Wolves had the upper hand.
A thunderous bellow issued from the rear of the trollkin lines. Caelan looked toward the sound and saw a hulking full-blood troll emerge. Its skin bore the same black ashen patches of blight as its lesser kin’s, and brutal bony spikes jutted from its flesh, the exit wounds weeping the same caustic ooze as the trollkin. The creature roared again, the sound a mixture of rage and agony, before crashing its way toward the Circle lines.
Caelan realized that, engaged as they were with the trollkin, Berrick and his Wolves stood little chance against the full-blood troll bearing down on them. If that monstrous creature broke through their lines, the Wolves would quickly be overwhelmed. Drawing again on her arcane power, she hurled another missile of earth at the troll. The creature simply smashed through the assault, slowed but undeterred. A hail of crossbow bolts soared toward it, piercing its corrupted flesh but having no other discernible effect.
Panic gripped Caelan’s chest. She fought to keep her mind calm as she considered possible ways to halt the seemingly inevitable defeat unfolding before her. She knew rash action would only speed their demise.
Suddenly a powerful howl crashed through the din of battle. Caelan watched as the air itself rippled and several of the blighted trollkin were torn apart by the sonic assault. A large white form approached in a blur from the jagged tree line, seemingly moving through the physical barriers in its path as it raced toward the oncoming troll.
At the same time, the slash of arcane bolts rent the air. More than a few trollkin fell as arcane fire burst through them. Caelan felt the familiar presence of those attuned to Orboros and turned to see several black-cloaked figures emerge from the trees where the ghostly form had appeared. Her mind reeled as she realized that, somehow, reinforcements had arrived.
She turned back in time to see the white blur coalesce into the awe-inspiring form of a warpwolf. The creature charged the enraged troll, halting its headlong advance. The warpwolf’s razor-sharp claws tore through blighted flesh, drawing another bellow of pain from its enemy. The warpwolf ducked a wild swing from the troll before springing forward to grab its overextended arm in both hands. Powerful muscles bulged beneath snowy fur as the warpwolf wrenched on the captured arm. As Caelan watched, the troll’s flesh began to tear. She then heard a sickening pop as the warpwolf tore the arm completely free of the socket.
Wasting no time, the warpwolf tossed aside the disjoined limb and pounced on the wounded troll, driving it to the ground. Warding off its feeble attempts at defense, the warpwolf seized the troll’s throat with one mighty hand and twisted. The troll’s body went limp as its neck snapped.
With the threat of the blighted troll neutralized, Berrick’s pack and their new allies swiftly overcame the remaining blighted trollkin. Blade and arcane fire flashed, accompanied by the sonic howl of the warpwolf and the twang of crossbows. In short order little was left of the once-proud kriel beyond crumbled and smoldering corpses.
The victory failed to slow the adrenaline pumping through Caelan’s veins. Lyvene had said nothing about tasking additional resources to Caelan’s mission, and Caelan had sent no communication requesting aid. The new arrivals’ agenda was therefore an unknown—and that made them a potential threat to her own success. Though all members of the Circle worked toward the same ultimate goals, the ways in which they pursued those goals varied wildly. Internal conflict was not uncommon; in fact it was expected to a certain extent, particularly among the potents.
Caelan had never taken much of an interest in the convoluted politics of the Circle. Donavus had diligently avoided such entanglements except when absolutely necessary. He had often said decisions made in the heat of the moment and actions based on political machinations are like pebbles tossed into a still pond: they warp the appearance of its surface. It was a lesson Caelan had taken to heart. At present she was operating on Lyvene’s orders, and she had no idea what rivals or enemies the Wayopener might have.
Caelan took a calming breath and walked toward the overseer of the druid cabal. Though she concentrated on keeping her movements relaxed and nonthreatening, she kept a wary eye on both the druid and the massive white warpwolf that now stood by his side. She chanced a look back at Berrick. The master huntsman still wore his wolf helm, which told Caelan all she needed to know about his assessment of the situation.
Turning back, she raised her hand in greeting to the druid. “My thanks for your assistance, Overseer.” Caelan chose her words carefully. “We were not expecting reinforcements, so your arrival is most fortuitous.”
The overseer’s face was inscrutable behind his low hood and face covering. He made no effort to respond, instead looking toward the towering warpwolf at his side. Caelan felt a new surge of adrenaline and her grip tightened on her voulge. She forced her voice to remain calm as she pressed him further: “My pack and I have been sent here by Lyvene the Wayopener. We have been tasked with repairing the ley line nexus. It would be welcome to know your business here.”
“Our task is the same as yours, Waykeeper.” It took Caelan a moment to realize the guttural and heavily accented voice did not come from the overseer but from the warpwolf. “We have been sent by Morvahna the Dawnshadow to assist you in healing this place. Its use will be critical in the coming weeks to my mistress’ plans in her war against the dragon Everblight.”
Caelan found herself speechless as she stared in fascination at the warpwolf. She realized he must be a pureblood, and a particularly adaptable one at that. She had noticed his throat shifting beneath his fur as he utilized his warping abilities to emulate human speech. She had never seen this before. The simulated voice was far from perfect—the words were heavily accented, and it took all of Caelan’s concentration to understand them—but the intelligence behind them was clear.
After a long moment of silence the pureblood continued. “I am Rochlof. My mistress tasked me with seeing this sacred site restored. And I do not wish to delay.”
This snapped Caelan out of her stupefaction. “Do you mean Morvahna sent you specifically to repair the nexus?” Caelan looked at the cabal of druids. Certainly they would be the ones with the skills required to manipulate the energies of Orboros.
The pureblood nodded. “I am here to assist you, Caelan Waykeeper. My mistress knew of your task and believed I would prove an asset.”
Caelan’s mind raced. She knew of Morvahna’s influence and reach within the Circle. She supposed it should be no surprise that Morvahna had learned of her mission here, but she wondered at the pureblood’s claim of being able to assist in manipulating the ley lines. Such creatures were said to be attuned to the energies of Orboros, but only in a crude and instinctive way.
She bowed slightly. “I am grateful for your help. The corruption caused by the dragon’s blight is beyond anything I have ever encountered. Worse, I fear if it is not cleansed quickly it will spread beyond this place.”
“Then let us be quick,” Rochlof said, motioning for her to lead the way.
Caelan nodded and made her way back to the nexus with Rochlof close behind. Standing once more over the nexus, Caelan became acutely aware of the dragon blight emanating from it. She looked at Rochlof, trying to discern what effect the blighted energy was having on him. His lupine features gave nothing away. She realized that despite the human intelligence the pureblood possessed, he was anything but.
Carefully she began drawing arcane energy to her, shaping it into the patterns she would need for the cleansing ritual. She saw a similar aura of power begin to coalesce around the pureblood as his yellow eyes faded into glowing green pools of light. He muttered something in his bestial language and slashed open his palm with a claw, drawing crimson blood that stained his fur. Continuing his chant, he placed the bleeding palm on her shoulder. Suddenly Caelan felt a rush of primal power flood through her. Rochlof was adding his mystical strength to hers, fortifying her efforts to fuel the ritual. The feeling was intoxicating.
Time passed differently while the two were absorbed in the powerful cleansing ritual. Caelan worked tirelessly, carefully manipulating the flows of energy buried deep within the earth. As she stripped the blight from the flows of the nexus, Rochlof returned them to their proper alignment. Caelan was impressed by the pureblood’s connection with the ley lines. Given the damage done by the dragon’s blight, she was unsure she would have been able to accomplish the repairs alone.
The moon was fully risen by the time the pair completed their work. Caelan felt the healthy pulse of the ley lines return as the nexus was at least partially restored. For all their work, however, the energy flows were only a trickle compared to the vibrant river they had once been. The dragon’s presence had permanently weakened this site, and it might require decades of diligent work by other druids to fully heal it. Still, for the moment the network was restored, travel could be resumed, and most importantly they had succeeded in stopping the blighted energies from spreading corruption across the region.
As she turned away from the pulsing nexus, Berrick asked, “All is well, Waykeeper?”
Caelan nodded. “Yes, Master Huntsman, the damage has been fixed—as best we can for now.” She turned to the pureblood. His yellow eyes blazed in the light of Caen’s three moons. “You have my thanks. As does your mistress.”
Rochlof bowed his large lupine head, and Caelan returned the gesture. She was about to call on Berrick to assemble his pack for their journey when she sensed a sudden sickly tremor through her still-enhanced connection with the ley line. She heard Rochlof growl and realized he had felt it as well.
“What is wrong?” Berrick asked.
“I do not know.” Caelan pressed her fingers to her temples, trying to concentrate on the disturbance. Urgently she reached along the ley lines below her, unease welling in her chest. She was certain they had properly repaired the nexus. She had taken every precaution. Slowly she realized the tremor had not originated from directly below them but from somewhere beyond, like a sound heard in the distance. She carefully traced the path that led toward the disturbance. Though only a faint echo remained, her heart jumped as she recognized the distinct aura of dragon blight.
Rochlof spoke first. “Another sacred circle has been corrupted, far northwest of here.” His powerful frame tensed as he spoke. “Another of Toruk’s progeny.”
Caelan nodded. The pureblood’s perception matched her own. Her mind reeled. “But why is this happening?”
The warpwolf ignored the question. “We must make haste there.”
Her eyes went wide at the suggestion. “No, we must report back. Lyvene and Morvahna must be informed so that proper steps can be taken. We cannot simply rush into Khador’s interior.”
Rochlof snarled, his primal nature showing. “Delay is unacceptable. Think of what we found here. If we wait, we give the blight time to spread.”
This was exactly the kind of rash decision Donavus would warn against. But Caelan could not deny that the danger posed by waiting was tremendous, and she realized that even if she sped back to Lyvene she would have little to tell her beyond speculation. They needed more information on the nature of this new threat.
Sensing her internal struggle, Rochlof said, “We will go with or without you. But I fear I cannot repair such damage alone.”
Caelan looked to Berrick, but the master huntsman’s face betrayed nothing. She knew he would follow her in whatever course she chose. She scanned the dead landscape, memories of the blight flashing through her mind. Her mouth went dry. “We will journey with you.”
Rochlof bowed once more, more deeply than before. “It is now we who are in your debt, Waykeeper.”
Her heart hammered in her chest as she considered the course she had just set herself upon. As the pureblood rose from his formal bow, she saw a flash of his white canines in the moonlight. For a fleeting moment Caelan could have sworn it was a smile crossing his predatory muzzle.