A cold gust blew…
The wind caught the snow atop the roof of the great hall and Janek watched the glistening flakes glint in the sun as it fell, sparkling with the rainbow colours that danced across the night sky during Yule. He loved this time of year, cold and bright, the winter storms raging in the valleys of Dal Riata beneath them whilst the tribe scoured the peaks hunting game.
The Dor-Keln Mountains never dulled in their splendour, yet the life here could be bleak and the tribe oft worked in union to survive the harshest blizzards, arriving without warning and gone in moments, or staying for days upon days.
He trudged on with a grin on his lips and came to the centre of the settlement; Cranmore’s pride and joy. The ancient grove, which grew from a cutting of the legendary great tree Irminsul and the burial tomb of the first of the gods, Eiocha. The bows of the great trees stretching out across the whole of Cranmor, a salient part of each abode, spreading the goddess’s mythical energies throughout the tribe.
“As the tree, we stand sturdy”, so the legendary founder had said and the Cranfir Tribe held this strong to their hearts.
He turned to see Tira Snowfeld before him, a wisp of her hair escaping from her hood and blowing with the wind.
“My Lady, why so formal?” His grin slowly fading as he saw the pain in her eyes.
“We are attacked, the settlement of Harfor is razed to the ground, all are dead and the grove… those damned imps even burnt their grove to ashes.”
“What!” His ire rose as did his colour as anger raged through his veins. “Where have they gone?”
“I saw them descend towards Dal Riata, intoxicated by their victory and eager to reap the joy from those people’s festive hearts!”
“Then we follow, paying them back for the injury they have caused us and aiding the people of Dal Riata against this new threat!”
The tunnels smelled musty…
The cackling grew louder as Onora was dragged unceremoniously towards the flickering light of the imps subterranean chamber, her feet and hands bound by crude ropes, the last survivor of the Harfor Settlement.
She still struggled against her captors, her sheer strength meaning at least six imps needed to control her at any one time, and she took faint pleasure in the bruises and wealds she had left on their bodies when she had kicked out, felling some and slowing the whole procession.
Yet as she was finally dragged into the vast cavern she stopped, shocked by the sight that greeted her as the longstanding enemies, the Icewind and Slategrit imps, were sharing in the spoils of her village. Smashing and destroying the valued grovehawks and greedily snatching at the cured meats and refreshments that their settlement had gathered for the harsh winter months.
“Quiet now isn’t we!”
An imp chieftain leaned over her, his foul breath causing her to revolt away from his glaze, gagging slightly.
“Your hovels destroyed. Tribe all gone. Weez control that ice field now… What you say, at Yuletide… Our present to you!”
The gibbering laughter that followed was something she wished to silence and she struggled against her bonds, feeling them give slightly.
“Now for Dal Riata. Taranis orders us to go, spread misery. Rewards imps for misery. Good master.”
“You’ll never win”, she spat,” my tribe will find these halls and reap revenge on your sorry carcasses.”
“Weez shall see… has sent one to lead us. Very powerful. Monolith of the Blight Tomb.”
Onora looked shocked and the chieftain saw it clearly.
“Oh, yes my pretty… all is lost!”