Brothers in Arms

The first clue was when someone knocked on the door to the IBBTG hall. Nobody knocks. The hall fell silent at once.

“Hello? Is anybody there?” asked a voice from outside. It was light, high, and dainty, carrying on the air like birdsong. They knocked again.

Most Falinde locals know about the Brotherhood’s hall. Some even visit with friends who are members. But the entrance is hidden well enough that anybody who doesn’t know is unlikely to find it.

I ducked down beneath the table, and quietly remarked to Hodrick and Fulmina, “This is someone who is very good at finding secrets, one way or another.”

Hodrick banged his knee on the bench as he half-dropped, half-fell to the floor under cover of the table. “Hell, no,” he slurred. Around us, Brothers were similarly scrambling for cover, as Brent the barman ran from torch to torch extinguishing them.

The hall went dark and silent, as nobody even dared to breathe. A slit of light appeared from outside, hinges squeaks echoing throughout the hall as the intruder cracked open the door. It was hard to make out her features, my eyes swimming in the sudden dark.

“Oh, it is quite dark indeed,” she whispered to herself, her voice carrying on the wind. “Nolen Yaren Ipsos!” she muttered, and suddenly the light was dazzling, brighter than daylight.

I peeked over the tabletop to see the intruder properly. She was clad in shining steel plate mail, forged in a figure-hugging style. Her figure was lithe and powerful, carrying a sword of dazzling cold steel in one hand and a gleaming ball of light in the other. Atop the armour, her face wore a mischievous grin, long blonde hair down to her waist and sharp pointed ears. A trolley followed along behind her, rolling on tiny wooden wheels and propelled by some kind of magic. The trolley was laden with sacks, shiny gems spilling out of one. I had heard stories, but not seen one since that fateful night. She was a Hero, for sure.

Her eyes turned first to Brent, trying and failing to hide his bulk behind a barrel of ale near the entrance. “You hide in the shadows, foul beast. Come out and face me!” she demanded, raising her sword into a fighting stance.

Brent raised his hands, and slowly stepped out from behind the barrel. He was a large ogre, but seemed diminished by this glistening elf woman, whose magic seemed to spill from her pores.

His voice quavered as he suggested, “I don’t want any trouble, ma’am.”

Her voice was almost poetic, dripping with a honeyed sweetness, as she said, “You are trouble incarnate, a pestilence upon these lands, beast. And by the power of Gilmadrith, I will cleanse your foul stain from the earth.”

She closed the gap between them in seconds, and thrust her sword faster than my eyes could follow. Brent raised his arms to shield himself, but the sword cut straight through his flesh like it was butter and cleaved the ogre in two with a single slash.

“All you monsters who hide in the shadows, hear my words. By fire and blood, your impure races shall be extinguished. For I am Ethe’Loriel, the Spear of Gilmadrith, and your worst nightmare.”

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