Chapter Lore: Never in all his long years had Liraedeon Swiftarm seen such devastation. The valley mouth was clogged with bloated bodies and blood coated the smooth road surface with a scarlet sheen.
The attack had begun under cover of night, a silent hail of barbed steel aimed from the rocky valley walls. For all their lack of training the young warriors had fought well, beating back the first wave of shades with bright steel and repeater bolts of their own. By dawn only seven exhausted warriors stood to bar the Dark Elves' passage into Ellyrion. Kneeling to see to the bandaging of a warrior's shoulder wound, Liraedeon swallowed a curse. The ground had begun to vibrate with the drum of approaching hoof beats.
"Rithlin!" A lithe figure slipped through the closing Shining Guard ranks to peer southwards through the Gate.
"Horses, Swiftarm, a phalanx." Then, in disbelief, "Reavers. Liraedeon, the Horse Lords have come!"
The metallic ring of hooves magnified as the troop of Ellyrion Reavers swept through the Gate, fresh and ready for battle. Joy sparking in his heart, Liraedeon watched as the cavalry circled the enemy, driving hard into the Dark Elf flank. Caught between the two High Elf forces the Dark Elves struck out in an attempt to decimate the exhausted defenders, a move which sealed their fate. For the steeds of Ellyrion were bred not only for intelligence but speed, and had instilled in them the same hatred of their masters' sundered kin. Hurrying their mounts with practiced hands, the Reavers trampled their enemies underfoot with clear cold voices and glittering spears.
The slaughter had been swift and certain, no enemies breaking through the circle of horses and steel to bear news of their defeat. Still, the victory had not come without a terrible price. Standing alone beneath the windswept sky, Liraedeon Swiftarm grieved for the fallen.
"Swiftarm! You have brought the Brothers of the Horse our first Dark Elf prey in a hundred years. We thank you for your invitation to the battle." The Harbinger was eager, breaking through the prince's lamentations.
"Invitation?" Liraedean spoke slowly through the fog of exhaustion. "My force is only what you see here. I am afraid I have repaid badly Captain Nenthuil's faith."
The horse lord's dark eyes searched Liraedean's face in disbelief.
"Then you did not know? Your scholar spoke with my chieftain on her way south. After hearing her words we could not but acquiesce." The Harbinger leaned forward, resting spear across the leather pommel as an unexplained chill washed over the wearied prince.
"The prophecy spoke of this battle?" The world was suddenly not so well defined; blurred by the ambiguous nature of a prophecy Liraedean couldn't dare trust. "Even Ellyrion has been swallowed by this obsession? Have you not stopped to wonder whose pawns we have become?"