As the world turns back and old becomes new, we take you back to the time when Verth grew unchecked and Inferno ruled over the Eastern Mountains but even a mighty dragon avoided the gates of Altitan. He would perch on a ledge just south of Strifegorge and watch the humans come and go from this fortress.
He had flown above the treeline many times, and could see the wildlife below and would occasionally trap himself an ebon wolf to satisfy his hunger, but on this particular turn he heard a rumbling coming from within the depths of Verth just as several armor clad warriors began to pour from the fortress.
With keen eyes he watched the advancement of the warriors and would shift his gaze over each before coming to a rest on something lurking within the underbrush of thistles. As they approached the thicket of thistle, the points began to shift and soon his vision was painted red and his head rocked by the sound of screams.
As the thistles began to move most of the warriors didn’t even notice the points before they were impaled by the thistle needles, lending the smell of copper to the air. One of the warriors turned tail and ran leaving one lone warrior that managed to dodge the onslaught coughing and gasping for breath.
“Hear me and hear me well you foul beasts, I, Giffard shall be your end.” The warrior exclaimed, but it was clear by the look on his face that it didn’t match his tone at all. He was still a wet behind the ears initiate turned warrior, but he brandished his broadsword and locked in his heels. Without uttering a sound the thistles shake and start to recoil into the actual underbrush.
He dropped his guard as an auditory gulp emitted from his throat, while he turned to look at his fallen comrades muttering a soft prayer up to those on high. “Why did they…” His voice had gotten cut off mid-sentence as a loud growl breaches the silence.
This must have been what drove off the thistles.
From within the underbrush the growl deepens as a big ebon wolf emerges from within covered in scars from ears to tail. It was clear from sight alone that this beast had withstood the test of time. With fangs bared against the warrior, it gives its head a shake as he lunges upward and begins to leap from branch to branch… the branches cracking out their protest under the weight.
The clanking of chainmail scraping against itself echoes through the forest just as the last of the branches protest. Giffard turned to see one of the Strifegorge Guard Captains’ along with three warriors, “Warrior report in!” The captain barked, as Giffard dropped to his knees amidst the bodies.
He turned to the Captain and told him how his unit had been ambushed by thistle beasts while he pointed to the long thistles protruding from the corpses. “Captain… not only do we have the thistles running wild we have a giant ebon wolf running around.”
The Captain belched out a chuckle, “Shade.. Shade is who we have. He has been troubling us for many seasons now, but he never comes this close to the entrance of Verth. Come now Warrior Giffard, you aren’t going to let Shade best you?” He had gestured to the warriors with him and headed back toward Strifegorge, “I’ll send some clerics to retrieve the corpses. Now get up, and that’s an order!”