Once again, please read and review (And I apologize for errors, editor is gone right now)

"Red Tail does not believe that Sleeps with Crows let Shadow Spear speak like that," the burly Scaled Reaver said as the Weeping Feathers moved slowly and carefully across the grassy plains. "Red Tail takes no disrespect from anybody, cheif or not."

"Peace, Red Tail, peace," the Shaman responded, rubbing its temples. "Shadow Spear is not only cheif, but Shadow Spear is right. There is nothing right in mocking others, especially when the other cannot defend. And saying such things against a Cleric of Kasha? That is not a way to make Kaasha happy."

"Care about Kasha's happiness, Long Leaf does not," replied the druid to Sleeps with Crows' right. It raised it's head above the tall grass and took a long sniff, then slunk back down into the cover of the stalks. "Alyssa's happiness and favor, Long Leaf desires."

"Long Leaf would do well to look at it's scales again," Sleeps with Crows hissed. It grabbed hold of Long Leaf's arm and twisted until the druid was on it's knees, staring into its own palm. The Shaman was practicly seeping with anger pheremones, the long feahers of its head quivering as it glared at its student. "Is it a Pointy Ears hand that Sleeps with Crows holds? Or a Little Bug's? Sleeps with Crows worships Alyssa too, but remembers that above all Sleeps with Crows is of the Scaled. More than even Alyssa, Sleeps with Crows honors Kasha. Long Leaf would do well to remember this as well."

Long Leaf glared back defensively for a long minute, then took the advice and digested it slowly. After another minute, the bush of feathers that rested upon its head laid back in submission and shame. Sleeps with Crows nodded and let go, helping the Druid back onto its feet. Without a word the two moved on through the grass again. Red Tail watched them disappear, twitching its namesake, then followed, deep in thought.


"Dagger Maw does not like the idea of moving on a road," the cheif's lieutenant said for the tenth time that morning. It was a Scout, bow resting easily in its hands while the other one gestured rapidly. "The Weeping Feathers will be open and exposed, like the side of a sleeping Ruxus. Softskins will be able to see, and that means Softskins will be able to attack."

"Shadow Spear knows this," the Warrior replied tiredly. It shifted the weight of the hatchling it was carrying slightly, making the little Scaled more comfortable. "But Shadow Spear trusts Mist Eye and Shadow Spear trusts Sleeps with Crows, and Kasha most of all. If the Weeping Feathers meet Softskins, then such is Kasha's will."

"Must Dagger Maw remind Shadow Spear that Shadow Spear does not have enough fighters to defeat a patrol of Softskins," Dagger Maw said with a sigh. It took a moment to read the air and the ground, then looked back at its cheif. "And in the open of a road the hatchlings, the elders and the weak cannot hide."

"Do not remind me again," Shadow Spear said, feathers raising in agitation. "The Weeping Feathers will meet the fate that Kasha leads us to. Does Dagger Maw wish for something that is not Kasha's will?"

"No, of course not," Dagger Maw said quietly. A sudden, shrill whistle sounded from ahead of the two Scaled. Dagger Maw shrugged. "Whatever our fate, it seems that Eagles Pride has found it."

The two Scaled ran up to the advance scout, weapons ready. Both had strapped on leather armor before the clan had moved out, and Shadow Spear lifted its shield in preparation for possible conflict. The grass began to thin rapidly, and before long they could easily look over it without stretching. Less than 20 feet away stood Eagles Pride, munching on a scorpion it had caught, and just beyond it the tall grass stopped abruptly.

As far as the eye could see the land was covered in a short grass, the kind that had been cropped down by years of grazing by cows and other Softskin animals. A wooden fence separated the tall grass from the short, and at the edge of sight the endless green was broken by a wide strip of brown. Tiny figures moved on the road, barely perceptable points of movement.

"What does Eagles Pride see?" Shadow Spear asked softly.

"Mostly Dumb Ruxus," the Ranger replied, refering to the cows that dotted the landscape. It narrowed the large, golden colored eyes that had given its name. "On the road, perhaps twenty Softskin fighters, and less than ten Softskin not-fighters. The fighters move north, the others mostly south. The air changes far to the south. A forest of some kind, perhaps seven hours travel at a not-fighter pace."

"Kasha be praised," Shadow Spear whispered with a smile. "You are truly a gift to Shadow Spear and the Weeping Feathers, Eagle's Pride. Scout ahead to the road, then return. The Weeping Feathers will cross this field and follow the road south. Dagger Maw, see that the fighters are spread out among the clan. Go."

The other two Scaled moved without hesitation, leaving Shadow Spear alone with the hatchling. Together they watched as the clan slowly moved up to the edge of the tall grass, loathe to leave its cover. When they all had arrived, Shadow Spear stepped out of the grass and past the fence. As one, the rest of the Scaled followed, excitement and anxiety warring for the most prominant emotion. They moved ever close to their promised land, unnoticed save for a dragon passing high above them.


Haerxiphilis worked her wings hard to keep high and out of sight. Yet another band of Sslik was on the move, hurrying towards Lesser Aradoth. This was the third such band she had seen today, among many more over the last month. The bulk of them were waiting on the forested coasts south of Dalimond, building crude rafts from logs and reeds. Soon they would reach a critical mass that would begin a massive push over the straits and into Lesser Aradoth.

But Haerxiphilis could also see the human and dwarf armies moving south from Dalimond, advancing on the Sslik with a slow and steady march that would be in position to attack within two days. It was with sadness that she thought of all the naka duskael that were about to die soon, but she also knew that it would be fewer than would die if the humans knew what was going on while their armies were away. But already the caves of Chiconis were being dug, and it was far too late to turn back.


"Eagles Pride does not like roads," the Ranger muttered, glancing about paranoidly. "Too many curves and hills, Eagles Pride cannot see anything."

"Shadow Spear does not like it either," replied the chief, sniffing rapidly to try to pick up any scent at all. The clan had been quickly along the highway for several hours now, seeing no Softskins but fearing an encounter at any moment. "But Kasha has kept the Softskins from the path so far. And so the path will stay clear until Kasha wishes Softskins to find the Weeping Feathers."

"Shadow Spear says that like Shadow Spear expects Kasha to let Softskins meet the Weeping Feathers," Mist Eye said, using its rattling staff as a tool to keep up with the pace. "Kasha is not so fickle."

"Ever Kasha tests the Scaled, old one," Sleeps with Crows chuckled from behind the fighters. "To keep the Scaled strong of body and of mind. Sleeps with Crows knows this well, as should Mist Eye, mighty Cleric that Mist Eye is."

"Dagger Maw agrees with Sleeps with Crows and Shadow Spear," put in the lieutenant. The Scout played with an arrow absently, spinning it and rubbing the broadhead tip. "How the Softskins will appear, Dagger Maw does not know. But appear the Softskins will, should Kasha will it."

All of the fighters nodded agreement, despite Mist Eye shaking its head. Fifteen of the clans twenty were assembled at the front of the clan, armed and armored, waiting for the conflict that threatened to jump out at them from around the next bend. Each was easily the match for any human or dwarf fighter and would kill many in any battle, but if the enemy had sufficient numbers or several casters then there would be serious trouble for the small clan.

Silence fell upon the fighters again, their ears straining for any sound, nostrils open wide to sample the air. Eagles Pride ran forward ahead of the clan, using his Ranger skills to quickly move out of sight of the rest. Tension ratcheted tight again, causing headcrests to raise up and quiver in anticipation. The heady musk of fear began to seep from the pores of a few of the younger fighters, clouding the scents and masking any Softskin odors that were there.

"Pfah, Red Tail cannot stand this," the reaver snarled, hefting its massive axe over its shoulder. "Either have the Softskins find the Scaled now, or have them never and let the Weeping Feathers move in peace."

"Red Tail should be careful what Red Tail wishes for," Sleeps with Crows said softly, eyes turned slightly inward. The sound of footsteps hurrying towards the Scaled caused it to look up, then back at Red Tail. "Red Tail might just get that wish."

"Shadow Spear," Eagles Pride called, slowing slightly as it came up to its chief. It took a deep breath as it stopped, getting its wind back. After a few heartbeats, it pointed back down the road. "Softskins..."