The evening sun was finally setting casting fierce shadows across the rooftops of Ironwood.
At the edge of town the sound of a lone rider could be heard approaching the city streets. On the roof of the Roasted Boar a solitary figure clad in black seemed to melt from the shadows cast by the lamplight below. The figure crouched by the corner of the Boar, his close fitting suit and cloak almost invisible against the inky blackness. His head swiveled watching Sir Mordane ride into town. The Horns on the sides of that blasphemous Helm curled themselves downward in what seemed to be an attitude of disdain.
Small, minute tendrils of smoke began to waft from the openings on the Helm. A brief moment of what seemed like pain passed through the dark figure then he sprang into action….leaping silently from rooftop to rooftop.
Following Mordane to the center of town, the figure crouched motionless while he watched the Knight converse with a group of Black Legionnaires. The quiet murmur of war plans being formed were carried to the intruder who waited patiently just feet above.
Finally, Mordane concluded his meeting and begun riding away…..the Intruder backed slowly onto the center of the roof, eye slits glowing a faint red as he done so. With a light touch of a rune on his armband, the shadows melded and swirled engulfing him once again.
A short time later, the Figure stepped out of the shadow under a bridge. The Hedge Maze always was deathly silent at this time of night…….
A few days later a group of warriors gathered together in the candle and firelight amid the familiar comforts of the Roasted Boar tavern. Some were binding wounds or checking armor and gear for battle damage, the normally boisterous lot was unusually quiet. Some were drinking heavily, no doubt to try and wash away the taste of defeat from earlier in the eve. A gray haired warrior with a young face and flowing blue cape strides in, his spurs ringing on the step as he enters.
“Gaah! Whisper is out of heals again,” he says as he plops down on a well-worn stool. Another blue clad warrior with blonde hair speaks up. “Aye Lugoun, I think John will be quite busy tomorrow, battle is good for the Ironwood merchants.” Garth said and then chuckled wryly while picking at a rent in his golden Captain’s chainmail. Lugoun slammed a mailed fist into the table. “Dam that Harlequin! If he hadn’t showed I could have had Kain! After I fell, Thorin got picked apart and then they slammed into our unprotected left flank.” Lugoun let out a growl of frustration. Another man in Legionnaire blue with dark hair leaned forward from the shadows. “Nay, we did the best that we could under the circumstances. They ambushed our ambush plain and simple. When we got wind they knew of our plans we shouldn’t have gone forward with the attack. I regret gating so many to that doomed battle.”
“But how often do the foes of Balart get to strike instead of just reacting and being on the defensive? Commander?” Garth asked. “Not often.” Corwin responded. “That’s twice now the Legion has been defeated in a major battle with Balart. Others have been beaten many more times.” Lugoun chimed in. “And that Bree golem defeated Ice Wyrms in melee! How can you fight against that!?” Corwin spoke again. “You both miss the main problem of this battle anyway. They knew our plans, we were sold out.” This brought a moment of thoughtful silence and glances around the room. “There have been a lot of new faces around Ironwood lately.” Offered Garth. “I don’t trust those Drow any farther than I keep my sword from me.” As he said it Lugoun unconsciously reached down and grasped reliable katana belted to his side. “I’m also not so sure about some of the new recruits that Captain Drakem has brought into the Legion.” That’s enough of that kind of talk Lugoun,” Commander Corwin said. “Drakem is Captain of our Saboteur brothers and we don’t interfere with each other’s contracts or recruitment. If any Legion member betrays our oath’s of loyalty they will be outcast from our company and reviled accordingly.” He sighed then. “In any event none of the Saboteurs need to be told of our plans. No….we all know that there are spies and counter spies and the walls could have ears…. Tis the truth of war…. We shall have to find some way to deal with it…..”
A few days later finds Lugoun beating the road dust from his kilt and knocking the mud from his shoes before entering the Ironwood Ladies Society hall. He is surprised to find Lady Genevieve Vryce in man’s garb, sweating though a sparring session. He suddenly realizes that he has not seen her wear her signature pink dresses for quite some time.
“Pardon me Lady, may I come in?” “Of course Lug, come in. You got my note?” “Indeed, as you know myself and several of my brothers are doing what we can in the fight against Balart.” “Did you take part in the assault against a few days ago?” “Aye….” he went on to describe the battle in some detail. “The way I see it we’ve got a few problems.” As she spoke, each point was punctuated by another mace blow. “One. The groups against Balart are in disarray, each group fighting alone, no communication.” “Two. We have no common banner or leader to gather under.” She mumbled something under her breath that could have included Damien’s name. “Three. Security is also a problem, we need some way to gather those that we trust…..”
Much later Lugoun left the ILS house in search of some of his Legion brothers, with a spring in his step that had been missing since the last battle…..