If I had to put my finger on one specific moment in time when things started to go astray, I guess it would have to be the start of the King’s Tourney.

The whole of Devil’s Isle was abuzz about it, as I’m sure was the whole of the Kingdom.

Because we are, as yet a small alliance, we knew better than to think we had a prayer of winning such a contest, so some of our members, including the redoubtable hero of our Realm, the Dwarf-Lord Machete, ventured afield to join forces with the Kaendrian Crows for the duration of the competition, on the thinking that shared glory was better than no glory, and Velociryx gave these various departures his blessing and wished them all good hunting.

For a time afterward, the Halls of our alliance capital ran quiet, and were filled with more echo than voice. It was an even mix of chilling and eerie, and I confess that during those days, unless it could be helped, I did not spend much time in Velociryx’s Great Hall.

One of my Chimera Pack Mates, Kleo, the mighty huntress from the central isle, however, did, and it was during this time that she was named to the post of Chief Recruiter for the alliance, and recruit she did!

True, many of the new faces were Orcish ones, and as an elf, this gave me some pause, but truly, after getting to know them, I fell in with them easily enough, and was pleased for their company in our homeland.

Now, so far, you may be wondering how these events could have led to Calimba falling under an actual siege, rather than a mocked up one, and it began with this:

Some weeks after the King’s Tourney began, two things happened in close proximity to one another, that set a curious chain of events in motion.

I missed it at the time, but in looking back now, there can be no mistaking it. This was planned, though by whom or what, I cannot say. Still. And it infuriates me to no end!

The first event was a letter from our Hero, Machete, who reported that the tournament went well, but that the Crows had been ousted from the guardianship of the Kumala “node,” and were rallying troops to try and reclaim it.

Velociryx lept at the opportunity to lend a hand, and immediately ordered every troop that could be spared from the City of Calima, under the command of one Gavin Hargreves.

I confess that I did not know much about the man, save for the fact that he seldom spoke, never raised his voice in anger that I heard, and was utterly devoted to Velociryx.

Just before his departure, I heard he and our HighLord conferring in the Throne Room.

“Realistically, what do you think my chances are?” The General asked.

“Slim to none if you must know, but we need to show our Brothers, the Crows that we are useful…that we can contribute more than just trinkets and resources, and don’t worry…I’ll pull your bacon out of the fires if anything should happen to you…you’re too valuable for me to lose, understand?”

He did, and the two men embraced before Hargreves mounted his charger and led some three thousand Calimban troops (a mix of heavy and light cavalry, with archers and swordsmen in support) off on their grand adventure.

Save for Hargreves himself, who was returned to us headless, along with his (equally headless) mount, it was the last we saw of them.

So that was the first.

The second was this:
Not quite two weeks after the troops had departed, I heard screaming just outside the gates of Cerilon.

A woman’s voice, and I hastened to the gates to see what was the matter and if I could assist in any way.

“Scribe….Scribe I’m glad you are here! We have to tell Velociryx!”

“Y-you were screaming…are you hurt M’Lady?” I asked Kleodora in concerned tone.

She waved me off. “Oh, that…no…that was mostly frustration. I can’t HURT them, blast their hides!”

I noted then, that she had a gash on her lovely forehead and another on her sword arm.

A fight then, and a fierce one, from the look of things.

“Hurt…who, precisely?”

“The minions of the Heart of Corruption.”

“The…whowha?” I asked, not sounding particularly Scribish just then.

Her brow furrowed rather prettily as she turned me back toward the way I had come and we hurried inside the gates. “I’ve been tracking them for nearly a week now…the…vines, or growth, or whatever you want to call it that the Heart of Corruption spawned…all that’s gone now, and these…Podlings, or Heart Minions, or…I don’t even know what to call them precisely, but they’ve sprouted up in the place of the vines and are on the move…several score of them passed through my territory, headed here, and I’ve been tracking them…they’re still moving, so I don’t know if they mean to stop at the coast or keep going, but either way, there’s a change in the Heart, and I thought Vel should know.”

“Indeed he should!” I agreed, and we picked up our pace.

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