The Boundless Empire

of snow and fire

white and cold, what is this…. maybe this is the first thing Etna, the half-orc, thought as she woke up alone on the top a low hill…completely coated with snow.
snow, something that a girl from the south has never seen in all her life.
On the top of the hill a lonely tree stands, and spread all around thousands of black feathers, as hundreds of crows have been fighting together.
A movement in the snow reveals that she is not alone: Laertis emerges from the snow, keeping his freezing crow by his heart.
No one of them seem to remember how they happened to be there and start to search for Hull…. only Karkaroff, the crow, remembers and speaks about a devasting fallng from the sky, a fight in the highness, where Laertis and Raphiel did something terrible.
Etna starts to find herself a way through the snow and blasts some fireballs, untill they reach the boundary of a great dark green forest. The heart of Laertis bumps in a bittersweet feeling of remembrace. But none of them still have the idea of where they might be. Maybe Lethea?
Raphiel promised them to take to the Queen…
They adventure themselves between the majestic trees, unaware that Etna’s magic has been noticed not so far away…
A hunting pack of Winter Worgs and Ettins suddenly attack them. Laertis realizes that he is exhausted and has no many spells to cast, Etna watches the fur of the horse-like wolf, all covered with ice.
Then something jumps down from the trees. Not something, but somebody: a rather smelly boy covered with wild fur who catches Etna in his arms and fastly climbs a tree.
Laertis casts his last spells against the Worgs
The furry boy attacks from the sky with his blade, like the fang of hunting wild cat.
Etna blasts another fireball and learns how these creatures from the cold hate and fear fire: the heads of the Ettin are turned into ashes.
But when they seems to win another Ettin hunter jumps in the clearing hitting Laertis from the back, so badly that the Elf is reduced uncounscious, and his blood turns all the snow black.
Etna casts her last fireballs and then the smelly boy manages to bring the body of Laertis away
They escape in the forest toward a great tree, there, up in the branches the smelly boy has built up his nest.
Then he runs away looking for a wise man that can help the dying elf.
As Laertis is comatose he experiences another contact with the elf-woman he spoke with in Ysar: she claims to have been searching for him for days and to have find him only there on the line between life and death, death and dreams. She prays him to never come back to Ysar: the prince has a new protege, a killer. The prince asked her to teach him how to kill elves and as she refused she has been caged with the killer together. The killer must annihilate her in order to get out. She has been caged with a scorpion.
As the wise man climbs the tree and sees the body of the Elf he is moved to tears: he has never seen a real elf in all his long life. The presence of the Elf itself is a proof that all the ancient myths are not unreal. He cannot do a lot for him but tells the smelly boy to bring him to the druids of the forest.
Then they all go to have rest: the wise man is still looking after Laertis occasionaly chewing roots and putting them on the bruises. The smelly boy gives his bed to Etna and sleeps next to her, purring in the sleeping
As the dawn rises up on the forest they realize not be alone anymore: dozens of birds, owl, swans, crows, hawks are watching them from the branches. And even a white ape! wild, amber like eyes are on them from everywhere. Then the ape jump on the nest and takes Laertis away- All of them can hear Karkaroff speaking clearing in their minds “The forest feels him, the forest his taking care”.
The dying body of the elf is taken to a clearing where a mystic flame burns. Any kind of wild animal is there.Then from the deepest green a majestic stag appears: his antlers are like a crown decorated with little bells. The stag cures the elf’s body with his holy touch.
The wiseman and the smelly boy are enraptured by the scene and decide tha the druids must meet the elf at any cost.
But before adventuring in the cold mountains they need to find food, clothes, weapons: they move to the biggest village of the valley.
As they don’t have money Etna asks about whores….how much are they paid, where do they work….the smelly boy is left speechless….there are no whores in the village and actually Etna is the fourth girl there. as if the other threee (woodmen’s daughters, used to cut trees since the childhood) can be called “girls”
as Etna and Laertis see the village (4 houses and 1 Inn) they understand how miserable his their fate.
Etna enters the Inn and all the eyes are on her: the woodsmen are undressing her with their eyes as she moves lavishly as a consummated diva to the bar and asks ale for herself.
Excited the men start to move all around her. She smiles as she usually does, unaware of the effect that she can have on this lonely men.
Luckily Laertis comes out with one of his “scene”: he and his “wife” are herbalists and they are there to go and speak with the druids…
so the people stop to molest Etna and start to molest him to have any kind of cures.
Eventually they discover that they are not in Lethea, but in the north west, on the cold side of the great forest of Kelbhorill. The Queen is far away….and so Ysar and his web-like deals… and so Hull their fellow thief…. and Raphiel as well….did he really disappear with all their past?1525549_666446900042322_216262577_n.jpg

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EmanueleCrotti

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