I. Going South

Prostrated before the assembly of Seers, Axil listened as she received her orders.

She did not relish the necessary trip south, but her duty to the Bounty demanded it. Famine and a lack of victory had instilled a fear in her people. The remaining Seers decreed that the missing Fifth was at fault, though some of the men quietly asked why he was sent away in the first place if this was true. She would deal with their impudence at a later date. Now, she had more important matters clouding her mind.

He had found his way into a small community of forest dwellers. Her scouts reported they were similar to the Aalen Tsol’aa, though they partook in modern comforts that plagued most of the people south of Her domain. They were soft, though soft bellies made for easy targets.

Following their clumsy trails near Her border, Axil tracked some of their members to the butcher, Olnix. Not intelligent enough to truly register pain, it took her quite a while to crack him, but he eventually broke. They always do.

She had names and a place: Aelyn Le’Yuet, Vinceres Ebonheart, and the Heartwood Kin. Silently, she began to question the wisdom of the Seers in their belief that this task would be arduous. She had encountered more difficulty in tracing the movement of hares.

With the brother of the Fifth in tow, she began her journey towards the south. She was certain he would not come willingly, as he was always prone to indulgence in the north. Life amongst the soft-bellied would only entice him further. No, she would have to drag him back.

She could smell his scent upon the air as she entered the Eastern Ithmia, but there was more besides. Eyes closed, she thrust her birthright into the loose soil at her feet and expanded her influence, the towering trees freezing and allowing a pathway for her authority to reach towards the south.

Her senses indicated there were far more soft bellies than she had anticipated. Their lives of luxury and wealth provided the ability to procreate and expand at their leisure, while her people could barely sustain the elderly and what few children the ice could provide. Their laughter drifted through the warm, inviting forest, the lilting melodies combining with birdsong to create a cacophony that made Axil sick to her stomach.

She despised them.

Milky eyes of startling white darting open, Axil, Alpha Headhunter of the Raven motioned for the Seer’s brother to begin, and they marched upon the Village of Eleusis.

II. For the Winter

Elias the Gatekeeper could feel them before he saw them – an unbearable cold and a weight of spirit he had not experienced in some years.

As he turned towards the north, blackness enveloped his senses as he fell to the earth, dead.

Axil and Ogwin carved a red streak through the Village of Eleusis, slaughtering anyone and anything in their path. Their target was the Rowan, and they could allow nothing to stand in their way.

The guards they encountered relied on numbers, but Axil and Ogwin were specifically equipped to deal with this threat. Utilising Axil’s famed thornspray and Ogwin’s fulmination spheres, they made quick work of anyone they encountered. Still, they had difficulty staving off the lone attacks of Ipomoea, her darting teeth and claws nipping at them from behind before quickly disappearing. Luckily, she was alone, and safe to ignore for now. There was little time to waste.

Arriving before the Rowan, they unleashed a barrage at its base. The tree rang under the assault, as all of Eleusis shivered, and a small crack forming at its base. Their victory was almost certain once they were able to overwhelm the feeble defenses within the Heartwood Estate proper.

Just then, a contingent of Eleusians and their allies descended upon them. Ogwin roared in delight and rage, for his fellow Headhunters would envy the tales of this slaughter, and yet the opposing force just would not stay dead. Score after score fell to Axil and Ogwin. But there were always more.

The carnage from their foes’ deaths proved to be a disastrous disadvantage for the Raven Tribe, as their thorns and spheres had difficulty navigating the strewn flesh and viscera left in their wake.

Finally, Faedwyn Winterhart landed a glancing blow into Axil’s side. She could barely feel the pain, before she realised she had lost a hold of her spear. This is what bound her existence, and as it clattered to the floor so too did the shattered remnants of Axil, Alpha Headhunter, her body exploding into shards of bloodied ice.

Alone, Ogwin was quickly overwhelmed by the vastly superior numbers, his spheres weakened by exhaustion and numerous wounds, and he too eventually fell by the hand of Ipomoea.

A roar of triumph resounded throughout the thawing trees of the Eastern Ithmia as the Heartwood Estate was made safe from invasion.

~~~~~

Summary: Axil, Alpha Headhunter and Ogwin the Headhunter marched south towards the Heartwood Estate within the Village of Eleusis at the behest of their Tribe’s leadership, their ultimate goal being the retrieval of a exiled Seer that had found his way there.

Axil and Ogwin descended upon Eleusis, slaying countless people in their trek towards the Heartwood Estate. After attacking the Estate itself, both were eventually overwhelmed by the assembled Eleusian force, and the Estate was saved.