He walked lightly and agilely over the rough ground, his boots barely making a mark on the mud and grass. His scabbard clinked lightly against the armour on his leg, the deadly sword concealed within. His black hair -exceptionally short for an Elf’s- blew in the slight wind, becoming increasingly damp as the light drizzle began to fall with more speed. He carried his silver helmet in his hand, red jewel glinting in the low stream of sunlight that was being filtered through the grey cloud cover that hung over their heads like a veil.
Loquin halted beside a mighty machine, salvos of arrows with fatal metal tips loaded, ready to fire when the enemy appeared on the horizon.
He nodded at the two-man crew, who returned the gesture, a grim expression on their faces -Loquin understood completely. He had felt that way dozens of times, as his father probably had in similar situations.
He continued on his way, past the huge blue creature, hearing its eager growls and low rumbles. He looked up to see the Elf Prince looking down at him from atop the dragon mount.
Loquin carried on, coming to a final halt next to an elven steed, a nervous-looking Elf mounted in its saddle, his strong bow in his hand.
“Don’t be afraid,” Loquin told the young Elf, who glanced down at him with wide green eyes.
“I’ve never been in battle before,” said the young Elf, his voice shaking slightly, his wide eyes travelling around the battlefield.
“I haven’t been in too many myself,” Loquin smiled, “it gets easier every time.”
The young Elf smiled un-easily, reluctantly.
Loquin, considering the fact that the young Elf was amongst his ranks, thought it might be a good idea to ask the young Elf’s name.
“What are you called by?” he asked, rotating the tall helmet in his right hand, fondling the soft red feathers with his left.
The young Elf swallowed, composing himself to answer to Loquin; “Prian.”
Prian hesitated, as if the answer had slipped his mind. Then he replied, “Thirty-three years, sir.”
Loquin simply nodded, smiling once more, finding difficulty in doing so now, realising Prian’s slim chances of surviving the battle ahead.
A sharp whinny tore his attention away from Prian, who checked the bow he held in his hands for faults.
The great lightly dappled stallion, its white forelock, mane and tail blowing in the wind, was trotting spryly up to him, snorting eagerly. It stopped next to Loquin and whinnied once again, looking down at him with its intelligent blue eyes.
With one last glance up at Prian, Loquin tucked his jaw-length hair behind his tall ears, and placed his helmet onto his head. Then, with ease, he mounted his stallion.
“Come on, Malthuan,” he addressed his mount, which complied immediately, turning swiftly and began to trot away, traversing the rough ground with astounding ease.
Loquin glanced back at Prian, who was patting his bay mount, perhaps for comfort.
Poor boy, Loquin thought, he’ll be lucky to see the blow that kills him.
It was a horrible way to think, but realistic.
With no bridle or reins of any kind, the Elves rely entirely on vocal control of their mounts, which would normally -in the eyes of the humans- be extremely dangerous and unpredictable. But the Ellyrian Reavers feats of horsemanship were astonishing, and world-renowned.
Loquin was lucky to have a steed like Malthuan, who was so incredibly obedient. He had been training Malthuan for quite a few years now, and had developed quite a strong bond with the steed.
He passed several long ranks of Reavers on his way to the front, nodding at several along the way.
After a few moments, he slowed Malthuan to a walk and eventually stopped between two other Elves without the traditional weapon of the Reavers, one with an impressibly large banner, topped with a metal set of wings, the other holding a long horn-like instrument in his hand, resting it on the guard at the front of his saddle for the black stallion, it white face shaking as though flies were irritating its blue eyes.
The long blonde hair of the musician flowed in the increasing breeze from under the helmet as he turned to Loquin.
“Ready for battle, Loquin?” he asked in his smooth voice which always seemed calm.
Loquin sighed, his left hand playing over the hilt of his sword, and looked to the musician with his sky-blue eyes. “As always, Lithian.”
He looked away again.
An arrow protruded half a foot from the back of a goblin’s head, even as Loquin reached for another, finding he was running low. Regardless of that fact, he placed another into his strong bow, aimed at the oncoming orcs with expert precision, and fired. He saw it strike an orc riding atop a grunting boar, smiling as the animal quickly turned on the fallen rider, tusking and gouging it viciously.
Loquin ducked as several arrows were fired back at his unit, one of the Reavers being hit by at least two arrows in the chest, falling from the saddle and landing on the rough ground with a metallic clatter. His horse turned on its heels, looking down to the fallen Reaver, nuzzling him softly with its chestnut snout.
Loquin gave the order to fall back and regroup to a safer position. Let the Dragon Princes fight to the last Elf against insurmountable odds, Loquin thought… he knew better.
Loquin could see the Silver Helms charging off into the enemy ranks, impaling orcs and goblins on their long lances. He could see his brother in the centre atop his white steed, sword held aloft, his armour glinting in the light.
He had no time to think about his brother now, his life depended on his concentration.
Loquin had moved his Reaver unit round to the flank of the goblin army, firing into the hard-hitting cavalry units, to spare the High Elf front line. Several of the wolves had fallen victim to the sharp arrows of the Reavers, causing some of their comrades to turn tail and flee.
He heard a panicked shout from one of the members of his unit, and he turned his head to see the Elf, his eyes wide in fear, staring over his shoulder at an arrow protruding from his back. He slumped forward in the saddle of his skewbald horse, and went limp. The horse whinnied, and reared up in terror at the war cries of the ambushing goblins coming up on their rear. The dead Elf fell to the floor, and the skewbald galloped off, away from the unit,
“Reavers, rally to me! Ambush!” he shouted to his unit, watching as they listened intently to his every word, seeing several turn to glance behind them at the new attackers.
Loquin’s blue eyes searched hurriedly for a weak spot in the goblin army where he could take his unit through to the safety of the Elven ranks.
Sighting a likely path, he called out to his unit, “Follow me!”
He urged Malthuan onward, the steed’s heavy hooves travelling with ease, coming up fast on the rear of the goblin ranks, the rest of the unit close behind.
Then they hit, cutting their way through, Loquin drawing his graceful sword and slicing into the obstructions. Many goblins were cut down by the sharp blade, their blood soaking the ground beneath Malthuan’s hooves.
The Reavers were making their way swiftly through the weakened goblin ranks, and Loquin could actually see the helmet of a certain Silver Helm battling at the front.
He did not call out to his brother though, for that would distract him. His wise brother may fall victim to the orcs.
Loquin heard his sword cut straight through an orc as he passed it, and then slice into another standing nearby.
Risking a glance back over his shoulder, Loquin saw that his remaining Reavers were fairing well, swords hacking through the monstrous green-skinned orcs and goblins in their way.
Loquin soon found that he was almost on top of the Silver Helms, carving viciously at the goblins and orcs surrounding them tightly, poking at them with sharp pointed spears, although they were not having much success in hitting anyone.
“Loquin,” he heard a voice say to him over the dim of the snarling goblins, “I see your unit has faired just as well as mine, as always.”
He did not look up from the goblin that was giving him quite a large amount of resistance, just replied, “As always, brother.”
He heard the small laugh that his brother allowed to escape his throat.
As he dispatched of the resistant goblin, Loquin looked up into the soulful brown eyes of his brother Calquo, whose white, grey-haired, stallion Balthia was whinnying in excitement as the huge feathered hooves trampled the fallen bodies of the orcs and goblins.
There was the sound of metal on metal, as Loquin saw Calquo’s decorated helmet struck from his head. His brother’s short black hair fell around his eyes, and to the middle of his neck, damp from perspiration. There was a small trickle of blood flowing from a cut on his cheek, running down to his jaw.
Loquin saw the huge Troll bearing down on his brother like a boulder of thick bone and muscle, unlike Calquo, who was trying desperately to pull himself free of a goblin, who had tight hold of his dirty white sleeve.
“Calquo!” Loquin called, swinging his sword at the huge monster, feeling the blade cut into the strong flesh, and hearing the grunt of the Troll.
Fearing for his brother’s life, Loquin cried out again. This time though, his brother did hear him, and turned his head, looking up to the huge approaching creature.
A bolt of pure electrical energy flashed down from the sky with a devastating force, striking the Troll before it could reach Calquo, tearing the creature apart.
Loquin’s eyes glanced to behind the Silver Helm’s, catching sight of the Archmage atop his steed, smiling at them. He thought he heard the older Elf shout, “You can thank me later!” but he wasn’t sure.
Loquin heard a hauntingly familiar shrill noise coming up close to them, and looked around frantically to locate the source, realising too late what it was.
The Snotlings were upon them before they could act against it.
The small green creatures crawled up Malthuan’s legs and onto his body, carrying on up Loquin. He gave a small shout.
It seemed that Calquo was suffering from the same problem, small Snotlings crawling all over him and his own unit.
Malthuan whinnied in terror, but held fast, stamping his huge hooves, trying to shake himself free of the irritating monstrosities, with no such luck. One crawled onto his muzzle, coming dangerously close to Malthuan’s mouth, as the stallion chomped his teeth down on the leg of the Snotling, swinging it back and forth, this way and that way until finally, the fragile bone snapped, and the flesh tore, sending the legless Snotling rocketing into the air with a wail of pain.
Loquin could hear the frantic shrill rantings of the crazed Snotlings as they swarmed him and his horse, and wanted nothing more that to cover his ears.
One Snotling pulled on his helmet, tugging it off of his head, the black hair falling around Loquin’s face. The Snotling allowed the helmet to drop to the ground with a thud, and continued its attack by yanking on Loquin’s hair painfully, causing the Elf to cry out briefly.
Loquin could feel one Snotling clutching onto his gold medallion, ranting on about something being, “Shiny.”
He batted at it with his free hand, knocking it to the ground, where it was crushed beneath Malthuan’s hooves with a crunch.
Loquin used the pommel stone of his sword to batter the Snotlings off of him to the ground, where they suffered the same fate as the one that had grabbed his medallion.
He grabbed the one clutching his hair, and pulled it free, tossing it away from him and into the melee of the battle, hearing it squeal.
Thrashing wildly with his hands, he began knocking the remaining Snotlings from his body, whilst Malthuan shook his elegant form to free himself of the miniature goblin menace.
Snotlings were knocked in every direction, landing heavily on the muddy ground, most being crushed by the stallion’s large hooves, squealing frantically before dying. The lucky ones ran for their pathetic lives, hiding beneath goblins and orcs everywhere, some being flattened by larger beings, like horses, trolls and ogres.
Loquin readied his sword for another assault on the goblins grabbing at him, some clutching sharp daggers crafted hurriedly, their blades nowhere near straight, but affective nevertheless.
Thrusting the sword downward, he impaled an orc riding a grunting, slavering boar, watching, as he withdrew his weapon, the creature fall from the mount. The boar proceeded to turn, and trample the goblin; crushing it and gouging it on its large gore-crusted tusks.
Loquin quickly turned his gaze to where he had last seen his brother, sighing thankfully as he saw that Calquo was still there, using Loquin’s tactic to free himself of the Snotlings.
Malthuan reared up suddenly, and Loquin heard what was possibly a yelp. Looking down, clutching the panicked horse’s mane, he saw a wolf, absent one rider, blood on its yellow fangs, and a bleeding tongue. Perhaps Malthuan’s sudden rearing action had caused the frenzied beast to bite down hard in an attempt to keep hold of the leg, driving its own teeth right into the soft flesh of its tongue, thus causing the yelp.
Loquin soothed Malthuan with a few quiet gentle words, and urged him to lower to the ground again, to all fours. The steed obeyed, succeeding in giving the wolf a nasty blow to the skull, knocking it to the ground as well. It did not rise from the ground again, and blood flowed from the top of the wolf’s head. Loquin smiled at the corner of his mouth, and then allowed his face to become serious once again. There was no time for distraction.
He gave a cry as a sharp blade of some sort caught the exposed sleeve on his right arm, creating a painful cut in his flesh.
He swung the sword down at the goblin -which seemed rather pleased- and severed the ugly head from the stocky shoulders. The body fell to the ground shortly after.
Loquin then heard a familiar cry, and in a panicked rush, looked round to see his brother, clutching his leg, which was bleeding quite severely, and the tip of a boar tusk protruding from one side, the rest of the boar on the other. In the sudden attack, Calquo had proceeded in dropping his own weapon.
Pushing Malthuan onward and over the corpses of mangled goblins, and sadly, several elves, Loquin came to his brother’s aid.
He ran the boar through, hearing its high-pitched squeal. The tusk was pulled from the wound as the animal fell to the ground in a bloody mess.
Leaning down carefully, keeping a watchful eye on the battle around them, he retrieved Calquo’s impressive sword from the mud, handing it back to his brother, asking, “Is it bad?”
“I’ll be alright,” was all Calquo said in reply. He had no time for thanks now. That could wait until later.
Moving as one small unit, Loquin and his brother moved through the remaining goblins, hacking and cutting their path through to the elven ranks on the other side.
After several dangerous, muscle-straining moments, the two elven brothers emerged mostly unharmed to see what remained of the mighty Elves.
Most of the impressively talented archers remained, several corpses lying on the ground at their comrades’ feet. Two of the mighty Elven Commanders had fallen to the foe near to the enemy lines, their bodies lying mangled next to the still forms of their once-elegant steeds, the coat’s stained by blood that had been spilled. Looking up as the horses’ galloped back to safer territory, Loquin could see two mighty dragons and the Pegasus, wings beating against the air, riders out of harm’s way… mostly.
Loquin could not see many of the other units, which had pushed their way into the ranks of the greenskins, lost in the masses.
Glancing back as he reached the front of the Elven lines, he saw at least three of his Reavers emerge, one barely clinging to his saddle on top of the black horse.
Loquin hefted his bow, pulling an arrow from the saddle holster, and drew the bowstring to his cheek.
Sliding down painfully from Malthuan’s grimy saddle, clutching at his injured arm, and limping slightly on his left leg, Loquin looked around sadly at the aftermath of the battle. Bodies lay heaped all around, elves, orcs, goblins, and their beasts. One of the mighty dragons had suffered a fatal magical blow from the orc Shaman, ripping it apart. The dragon rider had survived, and was kneeling down at the side of the dead creature, tears flowing slowly from his red eyes, mourning the great beast’s death. He would be able to call another eventually, but it nowhere near rival the magnificence of the beast that lay shattered before him.
Loquin sighed a heavy sigh, and turned back to see Calquo fall from the saddle, gasping at the pain his leg caused him. He tried with great difficulty to stand, and after a while, he succeeded, favouring his right leg, almost keeping all pressure off of it.
Calquo came up to his side, breathing heavily, but trying to hide it behind a brave face, and a sombre expression, his brown eyes looking around with great sadness.
Damn his pride, Loquin thought, with a slight shake of the head which now ached him so much he thought he might collapse.
“Oh no,” he mumbled, limping forward where the body of a Reaver lay, great gaping bloody hole in his chest, bay gelding trying desperately to rise at his side. With a little difficulty, Loquin knelt down on the ground, and moved the blonde hair aside from the cold cheeks. The green eyes were open, staring lifelessly up at the clearing sky, and a trickle of blood ran from the corner of the mouth.
Calquo, with a little difficulty, came to his brother’s side, resting a grimy hand on Loquin’s shoulder, and asked, “Did you know him?”
“He was one of my Reavers,” Loquin told him, running his thumb and index finger over the lids of Prian’s dead eyes, closing them gently. He sighed, and looked once again around himself, taking note of the heavy casualties on their side, as well as the complete destruction of the greenskin army. What had once been elegant proud elves lay dead on the soil, their skin pale, their weapons still clutched in the cold fingers. Prian had barely had a chance at life, only having just joined the ranks of the Reavers. His life had been snatched from him at the hands of the greenskins, along with about two thousand others.
The bay gelding rose with a grunt, and held one leg up to its chest, blood sticking the fur on the knee together in clumps that made Loquin sigh again.
Calquo patted him lightly on the shoulder once again as more elves came up to join them, counting their losses as they walked over the battlefield.
Loquin left the body of Prian, standing to his full height once again, and joined the other surviving elves, who were all injured in one way or another. Horses were walked slowly over the bodies, and a dragon and rider hovered silently over their heads, joined by the Pegasus, minus the elf prince, blood staining the feathers on one of its wings.
Malthuan and Balthia came obediently and loyally to their sides, the former shaking his mane back and forth, whinnying quietly. Loquin petted the stallion on the nose, and mounted him carefully, avoiding further injury. Malthuan began walking back with the others elves and horses, travelling agilely over the bodies and dropped weapons.
Loquin looked back over his shoulder at the carnage as they came out of the battlefield’s edge, and frowned.
They would overcome the greenskin forces one day.
Once and for all.