Continuation of the Dark Energy Crystals story:
Foward: Several months had passed since the first rumors of the Dark Energy Crystals traveled across the lands. The forces of death under the Lord of Darkness were the first to extract and utilize the power of the crystals. His army destroyed the advance guard of the Silver Shield followed by a jarring blow to the inhabitants of ΛZMΛRÉ in the battle of the Dark Waters. Perhaps with a reckless overconfidence from these early victories, the Lord of Darkness dispatched an inadequate force to raid the crystal mining operation at the molten mountain. The raiders subsequent loss of crystals to the creatures of Anumün rebalanced power in the lands and prevented the Lord of Darkness from establishing an insurmountable hold on the dark energy.
The Rise of Anumün
Xander Foxwood, a forest pixie, led the band of stone golems and javelin throwers who had ambushed Jarlax and the raiding skeletons. Having witnessed the undead minotaurs dropping the chests of crystals to join the battle, he had pulled his troops back instead of pursuing the retreating forces of death. At his direction, the stone golems shouldered the abandoned chests, and the party departed into the safety of the deep forest. After several hours, the path led them to a thatched hut covered in a dark green moss surrounded by two streams. The magi of the forest sat expectantly on a stone slab, old tomes of magic stacked at his side.
"It might take some thought, but I will see what use can be made of these," the magi told Xander after a golem opened one of the chests revealing the crystals.
"Our small force is prepared to defend your work," replied Xander.
But the magi shook his head in decline. "The mushroom seers and wood nymphs in the glade are strong enough in magic to sufficiently protect me," he said.
In the end, it was decided that one stone golem would boulder down by the stream, just in case additional brute force was required.
Weeks passed as the magi examined the crystals, studying his books and scribing notes in his journal. He reported his progress to Xander as "incrementally progressing", but the pixie could wait no longer. Raids across the borders by the pit ogres from the molten mountain were alarmingly on the rise, and a new force of flame imps had been spotted. Having heard few definitive details from the magi, Xander was shocked by what he found upon his return with his javelin war party. Twenty fierce minotaur warlords fully outfitted for battle were assembled outside the magi's hut.
The magi smiled, amused at Xander's surprise. "Once harnessed, the power of the crystals have proved quite transformative," the magi explained. "I thought it best to show you their power in person rather than risk the message falling into the wrong hands. The supply has nearly been exhausted, but may these forces assist you and the creatures of Anumün in securing our lands."
Xander set off at once with his bolstered army. In addition to the minotaur warlords, two wood nymphs and a mushroom seer joined his force of stone golems and javelin throwers. As they neared the forest edge, the smell of sulfur and burning timber greeted them. Suddenly they were upon the battle. Earth elementals scorched by fire were being slaughtered by fire demons and flame imps. The stone golems and minotaur warlords rushed forward in support of the earth elementals. The javelin throwers launched an assault from the second line, while the mushroom seer and wood nymphs deployed their magic from the rear guard.
The surprise counter assualt threw the forces of fire into momentary disarray. Their bolts of fire went astray or were absorbed by the stone golems. Several flame imps fell to the javelins, as the battle turned. Just as it seemed a decisive victory by the creatures of Anumün was at hand, the Lord of Fire swept down on the battlefield riding an elemental phoenix. Xander flew up to counter, but was dealt a crippling volley from the phoenix prior to striking a blow. Seeing their leader injured and falling from the sky, the minotaur warlords roared a rallying cry and charged, crushing the fire demons in their path. Despite the pixie leader having fallen, the Lord of Fire was forced to withdraw his forces having lost his demons. They withdrew back across the border to the smoldering molten mountain.
The creatures of Anumün gathered their injured and receded into the forest. The wood nymphs worked their healing magic, though many of the injuries were severe. Xander was stabilized and continuously received pulses of healing by a nymph who carried him in her arms. The battle had repulsed the forces of fire at great cost, but the crystals were proving of immense value having yielded the army of minotaur warlords.
To be continued...