The Winter Winds were already starting to come to Glenhaven. Enirich was used to Winter coming quickly upon the heels of the final harvest and most of the town was already finished with laying in the crops and stocking up the wood.
There were many more here in this little village now. So....so many more.
From the northern area where they caravan parked four times a year and then extending out into the farmlands to the East, cobbled huts and tents were everywhere. People whose faces were a pale to deep dark grey, walked among these homes, eyes shaded from the sun when it actually came out, wrapped up tightly against the cold winds that had begun to blow from the Northern mountains.
Enirich's grandfather told him once that nearly five hundred years before the Drow lived here. The ones that no longer could stand the darkness of the deep came here, dug out the mines, created the town, and worshipped their goddess. The statue in the middle of town was once Elistraee, the Goddess of the Moon. They were successful and eventually outgrew this tiny town and extended down to create the city of Waterfordshire, and also built villages to the far Northeast.
That city grew large and successful. Drow lived in peace on the surface, hired humans from the surrounding lands and sent them north to Glenhaven where they would help with the mines. And for a time, perhaps two or three hundred years, the Drow had their region, the Elves to the South, the Dwarves to the West, and other races to the far East, and to the far, far South, the Dragonfolk.
But something happened. The great city of Centralia was leveled. A powerful human wizard with the help of devils and dragons destroyed them. The Elves went into hiding. The Dwarves fought back until they were able to drive the evils back and secure their city. But the Drow had nowhere to go but back into hiding underground.
Kratos ruled above the region in a giant tower that floated on a cloud. He despised the other races and wanted more than anything to destroy them. For nearly a century his tower could be seen in the sky above the cities, sending evil magic to take out his enemies.
Then one day, it stopped.
The history books were vague about what happened. Enirich had tried to research it in Waterfordshire but the libraries at that time were destroyed as well. The verbal history that remained said that the humans left on the surface took over Waterfordshire and their self-appointed king, a powerful man of magic himself, was able to help rebuild the city.
Even in the Academy Enirich had been told the king was once a Drow himself, able to save his people, who, even now, lived more or less peacefully in the catacombs below the surface. The soldiers would drive them back underground or arrest the ones that were more dangerous, but otherwise, they were left alone.
Kratos' tower had landed in the mountains to the East. Those that ventured there never returned, but some said there was a Queen there who looked down upon the villages below from a tower window. Others said Torganzantine the Queen of the Reds had brought the tower down to its final resting place. Others yet said that the old Wizard had just died, and that's where the tower landed. No one really knew, and it was so hard to get there that only the most hardiest adventurers attempted the journey...none would survive it.
In Glenhaven, so the story went, Enirich's great great great great grandfather had hidden with their family within the mines of the Drow, and sealed off their escape hatch into the mountains. The Drow would not be able to return to the surface the way they came, and he took advantage of that to take the city for the human race.
Thinking about it now, as Enirich looked around at the many Drow who were living here now, he was rather ashamed at his ancestor. These people just wanted to live as he did. They wanted to live in peace and harmony, and yet...
The Underdark was coming.
The first signs were in the early spring, Caspian told him. An opening to the underground was open, and the first small creatures had started to arrive, even as he was starting his third year at the academy. Myconids and giant spiders were getting lost on the surface. A dryad had gone crazy, and the unicorn in the forest had fled sometime that summer. The magical fountain where it once lived had dried up.
In the middle of the summer, Maribel and Matthew had gone hunting for herbs for a potion for someone who was sick and had discovered a newly hewn entrance...or perhaps exit was the right term, from the Underdark. A darkness spell covered the area, killing the trees and plants.
Not long after had Enirich returned to his home town to find that the Drow from Waterfordshire were on their way. They were a rag-tag army, but they had been driven out of the catacombs... Immense creatures were pouring through the underground system. Driders were hunting and killing and kidnapping those Drow that remained.
A man whom Enirich was once told to capture, X'Granth N'zul was leading a caravan of immigrants North that Autumn. He looked exactly like the wanted posters that bore his name. He explained that they had nowhere else to go, but they would fight and protect their original home. A few of these Drow, including himself, had grown up in Glenhaven as children. Back then it had been called "Havenwoods".
X'Granth took long journeys south to Glenhaven, pulling more of his people out, but by then the darkness from the woods had begun to extend down the valley, blocking off the road and access to the city. It was dangerous to travel the roads now unless you could see in the dark as the Drow could. Enirich was afraid of leaving, but he also had too much work to do as they fortified the city with more wood, large stakes, and closing off all entry points that they could.
Caspian warned, time and again that they might have to fight all winter and to collect more stores of food for the people here.
X'Granth volunteered to take a party south to Centoria, see if they could come back with more. He didn't say he'd try to get help, he doubted his distant cousins the High Elves would help, and knew the Dwarves would not either.
Just a few days ago word returned that Centoria was no more. Caspian was seen in his shop performing a very long and daunting ritual and no one was allowed to see him for a few days. When he was finished, the knob on his door no longer had the color which led to Centoria. Instead, it led to some other place Enirich had never seen before... Caspian said it was in case they had to evacuate the city, but said no more.
X'Granth sent word that he was on his way back to the village, but that the darkness was spreading further South now, and with Winter upon them, it would be a few weeks before he could make it back.
Enirich's uncle the Mayor had hoped now that the snow was starting to fall that the Underdark would leave them be, but he was wrong. A platoon of Duregar and creatures they had never seen before came from the caves, slaughtering a band of warriors from their village until they were finally pushed back. Enirich had been with the band, and he was seriously injured until a lovely Drow woman came to him and healed his cuts. Most of his soldiers survived, but the city was on edge now.
Tra'Laga visited Enirich's bed a few different times over the next day or so as he recovered. She brought him maps of the valley and they sat in his home, pouring over the notes. Matthew and Maribel came to bring them food and give them more intel. The cliffs surrounding the city were almost all completely shrouded in magical darkness. The Drow could fight in it, and they were also the ones who came and went from it with information, but the humans were at a loss here.
"We may have to escape," Tra'Laga looked downtrodden, her long white hair covering her lilac eyes. Enirich could only just barely remember what it was like to be against Drow...he thought they were rather beautiful, once you got a good look at them. Their grey skin almost sparkled in the daylight. It could be just his hormones too...he wasn't really all that sure.
"Caspian wants us to wait for X'Granth. He said he has been slowly working at enlisting more help as they travel North. But he's not sure if anyone's going to come."
Maribel, sitting at the small chair nearby looked up, "Maybe our heroes will come?"
Enirich shook his head, "I doubt it. I took them as murderers, and they see me as their enemy, so I doubt they'll want to help this place again."
The young girl looked downtrodden and Matthew patted her shoulder from where he stood at her side. "I doubt a little group such as that could help something this big. We'd need an army for that."
"The army isn't coming..." A new voice stated from the doorway. Everyone turned to look at the small figure of Ellabee. She pushed the door closed as a sharp wind filled with snow whirled inside. Pulling a the hood down from her cloak she shook her head. "Sorry to barge in so suddenly, but X'Granth just sent word that Centoria is in ruin. The Black Shields and Golden Circle are on their way to push the dragons that have invaded out of the city, but it will take time. Something drew multiple dragons there..."
"Torganzantine has roosted again?" Enirich leaned back, his brow creased. "I mean, I know it's been around a hundred years...my textbooks said..."
Ellabee stomped her feet and walked into the room, "No... Caspian doesn't believe so. Something much worse... A Dragon Lich."
Maribel laughed awkwardly, "That's silly...there isn't such a thing."
"Maybe not before." The room went silent as Ellabee helped herself to tea from the fireplace. She turned with both her hands around the small clay mug. "There's also word that Tiamat is stirring from below... Bahamut has come to the land. Caspian..." Ellabee takes a sip slowly, swallowed it, and then continued, "I shouldn't say anything, but the Balance has been shifted. Evil knows this is the time and they can draw on that to take over. Something is causing it, something has created this evil and unless it is stopped, the planet is in danger."
Enirich could feel a sharp pang in his stomach. The cold breeze that had blown in just moments before was not the cause of his goosebumps this time. "But, what can we do? Run away? We have only a handful of magicians and other types and Caspian isn't doing anything.."
Ellabee waved a hand at him, "Oh he's doing plenty. It doesn't seem like it but he's concentrating on spells right now to keep us in the daylight..." She drifted off, "I probably should get back to him to make sure he actually eats and drinks something. He forgets to take care of himself. Even an Elf needs to meditate... recharge..." Setting her mug down she pulled the hood back up over her head. "Right now the immediate danger is the Underdark. We need a plan to get that opening closed up again. Then we'll worry about...whatever else comes."
The four sat in silence long after Ellabee left them. They could hear what sounded like a blizzard blowing outside. It was traveling fast. Matthew said he was pretty sure it would be done by morning, as he remembered storms like this one. It would be headed to the mountains, and perhaps would give them a day or so to breathe from the attacks.
"Too bad we don't have a way to destroy that cave..." Tra'Laga mumbled, tapping the spot on the map. "I'm sure it would take time to dig out...give us more time."
Enirich and Maribel suddenly turned to one another. Cousins of the same family of miners who had been blasting in the caves for centuries..."Blast powder!!" They both exclaimed at once.
Tra'Laga and Matthew both jumped, "Wha-what?!"
"We just have to get into OUR mine!" Enirich jumped up from where he sat, leaned over and gave Tra'Laga a long hard kiss right on the mouth. "You're brilliant!" He turned to Maribel who already was pulling her coat on. "We just need to get to the mine using the storm as cover and blow it up!"
The two cousins were already moving to the door in sync, the first time the awkwardness had finally evaporated. They had, as children, played as sister and brother, being only a year or so apart. But they had spent a lot of time in the mine with their fathers as it was the town's main source of income, but also its biggest secret. Matthew had learned of it only a few months ago, but had not known how the mine worked...blasting powder was the secret.
"We'll need your help Tra! Neither of us can see in the dark..." Enirich pulled on his coat, tossing his friend hers. "I practically know the route by heart, but it'll help to have someone with us who can actually see."
"And cast faerie fire?" The Drow was still sort of in a daze from her first kiss. She didn't know it was that nice, quite honestly. But she was always business first, pleasure later, as her father told her. The Black Fist was a hard business to run, but she helped out when she could. "Let's go. Faster gone, faster back."
"Not without me!" Matthew said, finally following the others. He took his bow from a hook by the door, strapping on his quiver. "You'll need someone to watch your backs."
The group pushed its way into the blizzard. It would be a long night.