A crackle in the air, a hiss, and a pop. To his left, Darius is greeted by a blinding flash of sulfur and luminescence. The Majistik was late as usual. Absentmindedly, the foggy old crazy brushed his beard and blinked wildly. "Uh, hmm, hrumf, ugh apparating never gets easier, interdimensionally, extradimensionally, across time and space." Seeing Darius and the elven emissary nearby at the river's edge, the Magistik approaches. "So, I see we are nearly all assembled. I trust the Rev. Lucien Sylvanus will be joining us shortly with news from Thairm and the Sword of Aurora?"
As the Majistik was speaking, the air buzzed again. A cloud of smoke wafted over the bridge. After a moment, Ten Ishu appeared from the midst of the fog, balancing nimbly on the bridge ledge. The weakness of his eyes and an averted gaze told those assembled that the news was grim. He fought for words, yet simply stood in his place. In his silence, Frescka's negotiations came to a close.
Tossing the hapless Smith to the ground with a thud, Frescka freshened her pace toward the foot bridge. The clomp clomp clomp of her armored boots revealed the inefficacy of her transations and persistent temper.
"Well Red Pajama Man, out with it! What'd you see? Is Aurora still unclaimed?"
The ninja remained silent, a potent mixture of insult and grief. A drawn-out sniff heralded a miniscule tear in his eye, miniscule yet large enough for Frescka to cease her clomping and beratement.
"Aurora still stands," Ten Ishu began, "but Sylvanus is no more."
Ten Ishu slowly re-donned his mask and sat on the bridge. Frescka looked to the Majistik, who looked to the elf, who looked to Darius. The banks echoed with silence, save for the hums of a few dragonflies in the reeds. Ten Ishu continued.
"I infiltrated the ruins whence Sylvanus had marched. I was barely a day behind him, sent at your bidding, Lord Darius." The horselord didn't move a muscle, neither in his arm nor his face. "Black Falcon soldiers were swarming the place, which I found most odd because Sylvanus had presumed to find the Mythic Order guarding the sword. In my searching, I could find none of our number, no soldiers, no dragon knights, no one."
"Then how can you be sure Sylvanus is dead?" The elf stood puffy-eyed, having dropped his bow and blade on the ground. Frescka slammed a hammer on the ground and kicked at a tuft of grass.
"Before I departed, I noticed the captain of the Falcons bent over some monument." Darius remained still as a statue as the ninja continued. "Once he had gone, I inspected the remains myself and found Sylvanus' helm, shield, and sword by a freshly dug grave." The Magistik hung his head, his knees appearing to shake. "If Sylvanus is not dead, then I know not where he has gone unarmed..."
Ten Ishu's report had barely ended when a visored figure came crashing through the undergrowth to the northwest. Daisies, dandelions, ferns all yielded to his labored approach.
"Volkaire!" Darius was the first to respond to the newcomer's approach. He had presumed this captain of Wyvar's southern guard had stayed back home defending the realm...as ordered...
"My Lord Darius, terrible news!"
Volkaire shoved his way onto the bridge, throwing the red ninja into the stream. "Enough scouting reports; war counsel is necessary."
"Volkaire, you are to be back home, tending the realm." Annoyance could hardly drip thicker from the Horselord's retort. "We have just heard..."
"Yes, m'lord, that Sylvanus is dead. Couriers have already been dispatched to the high king."
"But how do you know of this?" Frescka butted in. "We have only just been informed."
"My men and I did not stay back in Wyvar." Darius' grip on the warhammer tightened. "We snuck into Sylvanus' scouting party to tend the camp and look after the horses. We couldn't bear to stay at home when all the army was out retrieving the fabled sword of Aurora." Volkaire's breath was finally returning; Darius' eyes flashed.
"You disobeyed a direct or..."
"Be still Darius," interrupted the Majistik. "Volkaire has come some ways with tidings, too. We should hear them." Darius dug his heels into the dirt yet remained silent.
"As I was saying," resumed Volkaire "we heard the cries of battle from the camp but could do nothing to prevent the slaughter of Sylvanus' party."
"Slaughter?! By whom?!" Now Frescka's eyes lit with the razgrizzly of battle.
"Some ruthless and cloaked band who fancy themselves the Mythic Order."
"They Mythic Order?" The elf turned to the Magistik and shared a hesitant glance. "This this bodes more than ill."
"It certainly does friend."
"Why?" Frescka looked from one to the other. "We've the whole of the Dragon Guard, my Leoncor detachment, and a band of Elves with us! Why are we not hunting the Mythic Order at this very moment!"
The Magistik held up his hand for pause. "In good time, my dear. The Mythic Order is an ancient and powerful sect of Wizards and Magisters, not so easily trifled with. We must take news of this great loss back to camp, instate Darius as the new Commander and Steward..."
"Steward?!" Darius put as much surprise behind his interjection as he could muster.
"Why of course," said Volkaire with not a little disdain. "If Sylvanus is truly gone, no one aside from you has enough experience and influence to lead the Dragon Guard."
The Magistik ignored the sarcasm of Volkaire's rebuff with a sweep of his palm. "Quickly now, we must return. If we are to claim the Sword of Aurora, we cannot allow the denizens of the Order to interject first. Let us be off."
Exchanging stern glares, Volkaire, Darius, and the others headed west back across the bridge. The Magistik departed as magically and dramatically as he had arrived. Grim news indeed for which there was little time to mourn. Frescka, however, still had recompense on her mind. With a mighty and frustrated battle cry, one that everyone else around her took as pain at the loss of Sylvanus, she sent both of her warhammers smashing into the supports of the local Smithy!
"Haaahhhhh!" Frescka's frustration resonated with the clattering of steel and wood that toppled onto the misfortunate craftsman.
"My...my livelihood! My work..." The Smith could muster no other words.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, but you may find construction materials on severe back order for a few weeks; we are at war, after all." Frescka sheathed her hammers and strutted off with the rest of the party.