"Damn," he cursed under his breath. Cold would never be something he would get used to after living so long in the light of the flame of the forges of Kaladim.
All of it was no matter though, at least not right now. He had more pressing matters at hand. Specifically, how he would get into Paw with all the gnolls roaming around it. He could not be seen, lest the gnolls inside those insidious mounds be warned of their impending demise.
He gazed out over the distance. "The spires look almost peaceful from this distance," he thought, but he had seen them up close before, and knew of the red rock that covered their tips, as if with blood.
Something caught his eye near the edge of the largest hill, it seemed a scuttle had broken out. He cursed having not bought the ‘telescope’ that the gnome at the market had been hawking. He only prayed that whoever was attacking the gnoll would win, and be at the least partially friendly. Otherwise, that would be one more obstacle in what seemed to already be a large line of them in the way of his entering the dungeon.
He saw the one that looked to be the gnoll fall and the other move on. As the person moved into the light, he saw that his build was much different than that of a gnoll, and that the person seemed almost... blue.
Xard approached the blue clad man, as the man cleaned his twin swords of gnoll blood. Xard had seen this mysterious fellow take down all of the gnolls encircling Paw, and had figured he might as well see who it was.
"Hail stranger," Xard said as he approached the man. The man quickly turned, his blade held already in a battle position upon being approached by another. Xard looked upon him, and knew him well. His face was a welcome one in Arx Draconis, and the bard was named Tarzool.
"Xard!" Tarzool exclaimed.
"Tarzool, my brother, ‘tis good to see you," Xard replied, as the clasped hands, "Quite a nice bit of work you’ve done here."
"Nothing much, really. Nandaine should already be farther in. She waited for a clear point after I killed a few of the gnolls and went inside to wait for me, and after having caught a blade in the side, I am more than ready to see her face again," Tarzool said, with a grin. Tarzool waved Xard to come with him. Xard followed along, wondering whom else he would meet along the way, so that he might get used to a new set of fighting companions.
Steel clashes. The sound of forged iron upon forged iron rings through the halls of Paw. A wickedly curved blade swings through the air, to be stopped by a well-placed flick of metal. The five-foot long sword easily pushed the scimitar from the way. A weak spot is seen and metal flashes in the torchlight. The sword finds flesh, and feasts upon it. Fur, metal, hide, and stone are all washed with a splurge of blood. An artery has been cut, and blood seems to pour unendingly from it. Two furry paws drop the scimitar they had previously weilded, and reach to try and stem the crimson tide. The gnoll looks at the weilder of the sword, eyes filled with fear at it’s impending death. A steel clad boot implants itself next to the blade imbedded in the gnoll. With a sickly sound, the blade is pulled free. The gnoll takes two steps back, and then falls to its knees. Its eyes flutter, and then he falls, face first onto the rough-hewn rock, blood slowly flowing from his now deceased corpse. Xard turns his head to face his companions and watches as each of them dispatches their respective gnolls with ease. The scent of blood and sweat begins to make itself known to all of the fighters.
"Battle... a nasty thing, although seemingly all too necessary." Xard remarks, as he wipes the blood from his blade onto the back of the gnoll he has just slain. He examines the blade for nicks, and finds one. He curses his luck. "Twould be so much easier if they didn’t have bones, it would." Xard says, to noone in particular.
"Heh, aye," Lorin replys, "and I imagine that you’d wish they didn’t have weapons then eh?" Lorin smiles.
"Perhaps, but this is the third time this moon that I’ve sharpened this blade. For all the granduer of magics to make a blade faster and more deadly, one to make them last longer would be appreciated greatly." Xard says, pondering the idea. "Come on, the pair of you. We’ve got work to do still, and little time to chat," Nandaine says chidingly, as if speaking to two children. Lorin and Xard exchange glances, and smile, and then walk on down the halls of Paw.
Xard slowly walks from the tunnel leading into the depths of paw, blood dripping from a freshly killed gnoll down his sword. He coughs. "Dusty in there, it is," Xard says, to no one in particular. "Aye, bad for the lungs," Tarzool replys, as he walks up behind Xard. "Well Tarzool, shall I do it this time, or would you have the honor?" Xard asks, looking back over his shoulder at the elf. "You might as well, your blood is fresher." Tarzool smiles.
Xard stands at the top of the main hill of paw, his view extending for miles. He has cleared a space there, in a nicely round circle, bare of all living things. He draws his sword from behind him, it still dripping gnoll blood. He slowly uses the fresh blood to draw a circle in the clearing, and then kneels. He removes his left gauntlet, and then sticks his palm into the soil of the hill.
Xard slowly concentrates, focusing his mental energies. Although he is a warrior, all Syndicate leaders know this spell, no matter their profession. He speaks a few choice syllables of a language lost to all but the rare mage, and the leaders of The Syndicate. The air crackles around his hand, and then it seems to burst into flame.
Xard pulls his hand from the dirst, his hand print there, surrounded by a flame so seemingly real that it seemed to dance with a will of its own. In the palm of the hand lies a triangle, with an eye, the whole of it forming the most sacred symbol of The Syndicate.
Xard looks down at his work, and then raises his flaming hand and sword high into the air. "LONG LIVE THE SYNDICATE!" He shouts, shattering the now nearly dusk peace. And as the fire on his hand begins to die, he replaces his gauntlet, and walks down the hill. The point he enchanted will now forever bare The Mark of The Syndicate, telling all that it has been conquered. Not even the strongest magi could destroy that mark, and so for an eternity it will last, as all of them have, and as The Syndicate always will.