EverQuest Diary V: Crushbone
... you can catch up on episodes of the adventures of Sania Nightfall.

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We had decided to venture beyond Kelethin's vicinity, so one night we moved north, past the so-called orc lift. The path was dark, but there were many brave fighters coming and going all the time, and several groups gathered nearby to rest in between orc attacks. It was a battlefield, alright. Here and there small groups of tents made of unknown pelts were occupied by those of the Crushbone Clan. They gathered around bonfires, grunting and snorting threatningly. I noticed most of these were bigger than the occasional orc we saw roaming the paths of Faydark.

- Those you saw before were merely pawns – Marla said, reading my thoughts. – They are mostly scouts and messengers, these are real fighters.

They truly were mean and vicious fighters. We saw them surprise a group of elves who travelled south, and what saved them was a spell that made the caravan run faster, distancing themselves from the orcs, until they gave up and stopped chasing them.

- Soon I'll be able to cast that spell... – Marla sighed.

We moved before the orcs returned to their camp, carefully not to attract any attention upon us, and finally reached what seem to be a cave or a tunnel entrance.

There were severed orc corpses everywhere, and by the mouth of that cave many elves were resting and recovering from their wounds.

I saw a group of exhausted high-elven paladins,wounded and not experienced enough to heal themselves yet. To help them would alert the rest of my race to my whereabouts and my little escapes at night, but not to help them was against my duties and priciples as a priestess in training.

I kneeled down beside them and offered some of my summoned food and drink.

- Thank you sister. – One of them mumbled, hardly no strenght to speak. – Times are hard and the battle is constant, there is nearly no time to rest.

He looked me up and down, his eyes wide open.

- You're not a knight like us... Of course not, you carry no blade, a mace instead. A priestess out of the palace's walls? It is nearly a sacrilege!

- Please brother, do not report me to the palace. I am here to help. What good is a priestess if she cannot heal and restore the tired and wounded who fight to defend the lands of the Mother?

I didn't let his words interfere with my healing and the soft blue light washed over his fallen comrades, who almost immediatly recovered their senses and felt renewed and invigorated. Still, the one who talked to me seemed suspicious, but he assured he wouldn't warn the guards about me in return for helping him and his squad.

- May the blessings of the Mother be with you, brave knight. – I said, placing my palms over his head and letting the blue particles of energy do their job.

Marla had also given them some foraged goods, and they were more than happy to accept juicy berries, savory vegetables and tender rabbit meat.

- Thank you kindly, ladies. – their leader said – To arms brothers! The battle is far from over!

We saw them disappear into the darkness of the tunnel, branding their swords.

- Your knights are brave. – Marla said – Foolish, but brave.

She casted a spell that made my eyes tingle. I asked what it was, she explained it was something that would allow us to see each other while invisible. She then casted something else, and this time my skin felt funny for a moment. I didn't feel any different, but to make sure the spell had worked, I placed myself in front of a wood-elf warrior, and to my surprise he walked right through me.

- Amazing! – I exclaimed.

- It sure makes for some nice pranks now and again! – giggled Marla – Come on, lets go see the other side.

We went deeper and deeper into the tunnel till we saw a dim light on the other end. We seemed to cross some sort of invisible membrane, a magical barrier of some kind, and then we were on the other side.

- Welcome to Crushbone! – she said.

The orc village wasn't dark nor foggy like the forest, we could clearly see the blue sky above. Here and there the Clan had placed flags to clearly mark their territory and warn whoever crossed the tunnel that this wasn't a friendly place.

There were many people on this side as well, luring some of the orcs to this area, slaying them here. Marla explained that the membrane inside the tunnel prevented the orcs to leave, as well as the ones in the forest to enter, which gave the fighters a certain security.

But many had ventured out to fight towards the castle, where Emperor Crush and Ambassador Dvinn directed the operations. They were seldomly seen, and those who stayed to see them weren't many, and most of the time ended up dead.

We walked around while invisibility lasted. A small but imponent castle rose behind a hill. Artificial streams of water crossed the area, and we could hear mining picks echoing inthe air.

- I heard they keep slaves in the mines here – Marla whispered.

We kept walking around the castle and found a camp, and unlike the ones outside, this one had huge tents and furniture, it must be the orcs' headquarters. A few steps ahead, we saw the mines, and in them, the prisoners. They were male and female high-elves, wood-elves and some shorter races I hadn't seen yet.

- Are these gnomes? – I wondered.

- No, these are dwarves. Gnomes are shorter and more delicate.

Those poor people, tired, hungry and in pain, didn't have a moment to rest, for the orcs were always watching them and ready to snap their whips as soon as they stopped.

- This is horrible... Can't we do something for them?

- I suppose some of these ocs would carry the keys to their shackles, but we can't take one down on our own. – Marla pondered. – I think we should head back, invisibility will wear out soon.

As we approached the tunnel, we heard screaming coming from the castle, and in a matter of seconds a horde of people chased by orcs came running towards us.

- What's going on?

In panic, they pushed everyone in their awy to reach the tunnel. It was chaotic. Someone fell, and a group of orcs didn't waste time and surrounded their victim beating him up till he moved no more. A group of more experienced fighters stayed behind, holding up the orcs so others could escape. There were orc priests as well, they healed their fighters consecutively, their mana pool was unbelievable.

- By the Mother, Sania, we need to get out of here! Look! – She pointed to where the people were running from. – The Emperor...

I looked over and saw the biggest orc I had ever seen so far, and walking beside him, another race I had never seen before. It was an elf, the pointy ears being our trade mark, shorter than a high elf, slightly taller than a wood elf. His skin was dark in a bluish tone, his hair was pure white, and his eyes were blood red. He smiled... no, he grinned victoriously.

- Lets get out of here! That's the Ambassador!

- Who... what is he? – my curiosity took over the fear.

- He's the ruler of this place, the dark elf behind all this. He was sent to take over Faydwer. Many paladins and priests want his heart, there is good reward for it. Now can we leave? – She tugged on my arm.

Our invisibility wore off just as we passed the group holding back the orcs. They yelled at us for being there still, and told us to leave at once. The Emperor and the Ambassador were coming, behind them another squad of orcs. We entered the tunnel and quickly glanced back... just in time to see the Ambassador carving a dagger in someone's heart.