I tried that with another book and failed...although at that time I was really crap at writing, I mean my idea of a battle was bang and pop, and the chapters took up less than a page. I suppose I could publish this, but I haven't finished it yet. There is a certain chapter (a very very long way off though) where there is the BEST fight - it takes up the entire chapter. But I haven't done that yet. Here's the next bit: Chapter 6 The three of them were anxious to leave at once, eager to put as much distance between themselves and the dead village of people who stared at them with near-dead eyes that rolled sideways mechanically and who looked like they deserved to be completely dead. Seretia did not enter Little Chilting again, the images of her brother and her mother frozen in her mind, two more ghosts in an island of horrible death. She did not need anything at all except for her mirror and the clothes that she had worn for the past few days or so. She didn't really like having to wear the same clothes, and much preferred the clean, well-washed emerald robes that she had used back in the Temple of Lorission, but it couldn't be helped. Malgeron Steelmaster and the knight Vyrell were also ready to go very quickly, after salvaging a few provisions from the village that would sustain them over the next few days. It wasn't as if the townspeople would need the food anymore, anyway. Seretia had never ventured outside the walls (or what passed for walls in this poorly-built farming village) of Little Chilting except for the one time when she had ventured forth to become a convert to Lorission, so she had not the faintest idea of what lay without. However, Malgeron and Vyrell had been to Kurokh before, and they assured her that it was only a few days' travel on the road. There was nothing to be afraid of, they told her. There was no less danger outside than they had encountered inside. The three of them - Elven elementalist, Lorekki warrior and human knight, an odd company - set out across the dusty road to the vague west, trudging along the worn path as the great trees of the forest on either side passed them by. For a while, nobody talked at all, their minds focused completely on the journey ahead of them. The time passed quickly, the trees seemed to grow taller and fiercer, and the forest seemed to swallow them up, although that was in itself an illusion, a deception of the mind. A few hours passed, and they continued through the forest that rose up around them, stopping here and then for a bite to eat, and to rest their aching muscles. "Not more than a few days, girl," Malgeron said curtly as they continued through the dense forest along the clean path that cut through the bushes and trees. "In five minutes or so we'll even be out of this forest. I know I like trees, but even the bravest man alive feels some suspicion when these kind of trees tower high, high above you and threaten to crush you like a bug. I don't know about you, but this forest is getting pretty overcrowded. Vyrell grunted his agreement. "I hate trees." The Lorekki grinned. "That more or less sums it up for you, doesn't it? Vyrell doesn't like trees." "I hate them," the knight confirmed irritably. "I want to chop down the trees and burn them all." "We do chop down trees," Seretia said calmly, her face lowered within the bright sun of her hair. "We chop them down and make them into wood." "Do you burn them?" Seretia was slightly taken aback. She hadn't ever met a man of such a destructive kind of mind before. "We burn the wood," she admitted. "Good," said Vyrell coldly. "I hope you burn the whole accursed forest down." Malgeron sighed. "Vyrell, you're frightening the girl. Try not to speak like that, will you? If you really hate that forest so much, I'll talk to Agrilos when we get to Kurokh, and we'll see what we can do." "Burn it all," the knight continued in a calm icy tone, not taking the hint. "Burn it all to ashes, and then I will jump on the remains and grind them into the ground, even when they are gone, I will curse all the bones of the - " "Oh, shut up, will you? You're giving me a headache." The path came to a steep slope that took them out of the forest altogether and back onto the main road, surrounded by beautiful grasslands that spread out for miles. Seretia was understandably awed by the sight. All around her on each side of the road on which they were travelling, trees and grasslands curved away across the ground for what seemed forever. It seemed so peaceful - and so perfect. Seretia watched the grasslands pass before her as she walked on with her companions, thinking as she did so what would happen if the creatures that had ravaged her village came to this beautiful glade of peace, as they would come to everywhere. Agrilos would confirm it. It was well into the afternoon by now, and there several other travellers on the road, most of them coming the other way. A party of five Dwarven men passed by; and Elven couple sat by the road, laughing and joking with each other; a rich-looking merchant came by at one point riding in a large cart and sold several valuable pieces of weaponry to a group of young Elven boys that looked like they had been spoilt rotten by their parents. In short, life seemed to carry on as normal. Seretia watched the sight and liked what she saw. Would it all be destroyed? she wondered. Would everything end up like her village? She noticed something else, too: Malgeron Steelmaster had once again pulled his hood back on, changed his skin colour back, and immediately reverted back to the form Seretia knew him best as - the seemingly harmless storyteller in the inn of Little Chilting that had a very loud voice. He had changed back since they had left the forest, and it puzzled her. The Lorekki noticed her surprise and hastened to explain. "Our race are not trusted, Seretia," he said sadly. "We haven proven ourselves again and again, but we are always a little bit ahead of every other race, and so no other race ever seeks to do business with a Lorekki. People avoid us and turn away - Dwarves, Elves, Drakelings, all of them, even humans. It has always been like this. If anyone sees me as they pass by, a Lorekki, then they will spurn me and fall back. Respect they have, but friendliness, loyalty and trust they have not. Thus I must maintain my disguise so that none may recognise me for what I am." Seretia recognised the kind of prejudice the Lorekki had to live with and was saddened by it. She had thought herself of the same kind of thing - her, a Elf among Dwarves! - but now she realised that there were no similarities whatsoever. Malgeron Steelmaster was someone different that would be never accepted anywhere except in the country of his own race. They continued walking for a few miles without stopping. The number of travellers had greatly diminished, and the sunlight brightening the sky was beginning to fade. The three of them walked until they found themselves completely alone on the dusty road, the grasslands stretching on each side, and no travellers on side. Suddenly, Malgeron came to an abrupt halt. Vyrell, who was behind him, almost collided into the Lorekki, who glared at him with irritation and pointed into the bushes ahead on the road. "There," he whispered. Seretia stared in the direction of the finger, and saw nothing. Apparently Vyrell had the same difficulty, for he was about to protest before Malgeron gestured wildly again and stepped back, almost landing on the knight's foot in the process. Then, out of the dim twilight, stepped a man. He was slightly shorter than Vyrell and around the same height as Seretia. His eyes were wild and bulging and several bruises and cuts around his face suggested that he had had something of a bad day in the recent past. His clothes were torn and savaged, and he had trouble staying on his feet. However, something in the way he was walking towards them suggested that he might stay on his feet for a much longer time. There was a black object of some kind clutched in his right hand, a small hand-held device that was L-shaped but sharp around some of the edges. Out of the tip of the object protruded a cylinder of some kind that was directed in Malgeron's direction, but only vaguely. One of the man's fingers was wrapped around a curved attachment to the black object which was thin and sharp. His left hand was completely limp, but his right hand hung to the black object as if afraid it might fall off. The man stared at them with haunted, bloodshot eyes that might have been showing the signs of delirium. His right hand started to raise the black object a little higher, clenching tighter around the device. "Stop," said Malgeron sharply. "Let go." The object lowered for a split second. "Remember me? Can you see me? Malgeron Steelmaster. Do you know me?" The tormented man hesitated, and then the last of his resistance gave away. His right arm fell away, the device tumbled to the ground, and he started to collapse. Vyrell stepped forward just in time to catch him before he fell. Although he was obviously in a lot of pain and misery, the man seemed very strong of will indeed. He remained completely conscious and completely calm as the three of them fed him, forced a healthy measure of water down his throat, and cleansed his wounds. Seretia looked down at him sympathetically, instilling a sense of peace into his mind with her magic. The man's wounds were only superficial, and they were not the source of the pain. He had not very much sleep, and he looked exhausted. Something in his eyes, however, suggested that it was something much more, which puzzled Seretia. Shock, perhaps? The man seemed to drift off to sleep after a time, his chest rising and falling as Seretia's did its work and relieved him of his pain and shock that he had suffered. As Malgeron drew near, however, the man's eyes sprang open and he suddenly sat up bolt upright as if struck by lightning. He was looking deeply at the Lorekki with respect. "Thank you, Malgeron Steelmaster," he said quietly. "I have been looking for you." The Lorekki raised an eyebrow. "Have you really? I don't believe you." The man chuckled, although still in a small amount of pain. "No, actually I haven't. But I thought I'd catch your attention. In any case, I am very glad to have found you and Vyrell like this." He glanced towards Seretia, but then turned his head away, as if considering her of no importance. Then he looked back at her again, a trifle suspicious. "Elven magic, I gather?" Seretia was unable to do anything else except nod. The man ruffled his brown hair, smoothing it over. "Nothing but Elven magic could bring me back to my senses like that. But perhaps I should tell you what I have seen." He bent closer to them, his eyes still wild and bloodshot, although not so much as before. "A red cloud of evil has descended on the villages. The peasants are all being turned over - made so that they are worse than dead. It happened. I saw it all happen. It petrified me such that I lost my wits about me and fled, running for days without sleep." His eyes were wider now, the fear evident. "You cannot believe the horror I saw!" Malgeron cleared his throat and tried not to smile. "I hate to interrupt your monologue, friend," he said gently, "but we all already know that." The wild-eyed man stopped, his mouth opening and closing slowly whilst he struggled to find the right words. When he did find the right words, they were slightly less dramatic.