The wind was blowing strangely this day. Even in the middle of The Wildwood, up near The Realm of Cinders a southern gust would blow. The elders of the Forest Born are saying that whispers are being carried on this new wind.
“Voices are carried on these winds,” they would say. “They speak of war. They warn of death and famine.”
In fact, those very whispers are why Raphsa traveled up to The Wildwood from the southern region. He managed to sway the ire of the Gudanna in the Kaccha Glades. After eying so many troops, Raphsa had to agree with what the elders were preaching.
There was no guessing that the Gudanna were marching for war. After all, they’ve been throwing themselves at the Durani just as well as their own. Raphsa had studied the Gudanna’s movements across the southern lands for some time, and what petty battles they weren’t getting into at Durani watch posts they were skirmishing amongst each other. Specifically, one woman was leading numerous groups of troops against her own, for what reason Raphsa could not fathom. Perhaps they were just hungry for war?
The earth shook behind Raphsa. His robes swayed with the wind. Again, blowing his cloth folds to the south. Stepping alongside the Knight was a monstrous golem made of branches, bramble, roots, and elemental fury. Raphsa’s Woodguard had been with him ever since he had become of age. In earlier years Raphsa would spend his days atop the Woodguard’s massive head singing the songs of the elder Forest Born. Now, a stalwart force of destruction, his Woodguard serves as a silent guardian, keeping an ever-watchful eye over Raphsa and the rest of the Zikia tribes.
The Woodguard let out a lumbering growl that carried on through the trees.
“I know,” Raphsa spoke slowly. “Something is moving out there, and it’s not the Durani or the Gudanna. It’s something ancient.”
The wind blew again. This time it carried something else with it. It was a scent. The smell of rot filled Raphsa’s nostrils. He felt his veins run cold.
The Woodguard brought a hulking arm down as Raphsa climbed aboard, finding his resting place atop the golem’s head. He rose high above the vast trees of The Wildwood. With only a few steps the Woodguard began to make a huge stride up toward Mahatavi. He felt the protective energies of the golem encircle them both, pushing out negative influence. He summoned all of his strength and courage.
“That’s right,” he said, looking down at the Woodguard beneath him. “We’re going to see the Urugal.”