CITY OF STORMRISE, KYNG'S COURT
Faren Mageslayer didn't know whether to laugh or cry. His Knights Opaque had proven to be pathetic in the truest sense of the word. Not only had they failed to capture any Elementalists or Inceptors, but they had also fallen victim to a clever trap set by none other than Ser Jaymes, the Knight he had just banished! No wonder Palach had suddenly grown ravenous by the time Ser Dathrace, Ser Anithrelle, Ser Hanric, and Ser Thorn had finished telling their master of the midnight defeat on the Eastern Plains. Thanks to the Mageslayer's sentient axeblade, they were all now minus their heads...
Faren discovered that feeding had utterly sated and exhausted him. He felt marvelous, better than he had in many a year, and certainly better than he had before he ventured to fight in the first round in the Duel of the Fates! Still, he also felt like he was going to vomit. Eating four human souls at once had glutted his appetite. Palach, however, seemed like its own craving was being whetted, not dulled. It wanted more, but it would have to wait. In the meantime, Faren had to recruit some better warriors if he was going to win against that blasted, stinking, rotten cur who had outsmarted him!
That was why he chose The Four, a band of comrades who were so cold and ruthless that they even made the most cunning nobles at Court quiver. Kyng Varhad had threatened to exile them many a time, but their martial prowess was only surpassed by Faren's rage--and his axe. This time, there would be no defeat. If the Four failed, they would die, just as the Knights Opaque had.
Their given names had been long forgotten, as they had chosen to adopt the monikers of Korol', Dama, Lad'ya, and Alfil. Korol' and Alfil were male, and the others female. However, rumor had it that the women were just as merciless as the men. Only Lad'ya still had some doubts about the secret, underhanded games of sabotage, espionage, and murder in which she had often played. The others considered her a neophyte, but she was learning very quickly.
"My rules are simple, you Four: bring Elementalists and Inceptors to me in chains. If you do not, and you dare to return empty-handed, you perish."
The Four nodded. They would set out at dawn, for the sake of not only the Kyngdom but their own lives as well. The stakes were that perilous...
THE VEILED FOREST, PERDANTE'S CAMP
"Would you mind if we slept first?" asked Perdante, smirking wryly. "I, for one, need a good night's rest from my injuries. That bear packed quite a wallop..."