First Skirmish

     In the Fifth Age according to the Tarmus Adelme calendar, in the month of Agur~taen, on the 47th day thereof, came Greunweiln to the Plains of Galbradith which lay in the lands of the Chlandoins. With him came a small guard of ninety Mardots warriors to escort him in safety to the Cairn of Maelnru.
     The Balance In Space carried Nordo's Tales Of The Golden Comet tightly beneath his arm; it seemed to warm his chest on which it clung. Soon the book would be hidden within the mossed rocks of Maelnru's Cairn, safe from intruding thieves who would not dare defile the sanctity of this holy place, and known only to himself and his beloved Tzimar. The guard troops would know also of the hiding of the book, but Greunweiln planned to kill them all on their return to Æberaun anyway. The dust which lay upon the ground churned below the warriors' steeds' hoofs, and billowed to their backs. They moved slowly and cautiously, themselves awed by the hallowed surroundings.
     As the small party came within sight of the cairn Ckowlyn pricked up her ears, and Tzimar stopped in his tracks. Something was amiss.
     "Greunweiln" cried out Tzimar, "the Jinds are approaching by the Pass Of Calin. We must quit this place and take cover, now, before we are found out."
     "I will not stop now. I am determined to have the Book placed within my father's cairn, and so shall it be."
     Tzimar, who knew all things, was troubled by the approach of the Jinds. For an instant he saw a sea of flames rise up and curl around him. As drops of light sparkling on the surface of a swiftly flowing stream, the flames danced around him. He tried again to persuade Greunweiln to turn away; the spectres of things to come disturbed him greatly. "With the cairn yet so far off, the Jinds will be upon us and see our purpose. What will stop them from violating thy father's grave even as I could not stop yourself from violating the sanctity of these lands?"
     Greunweiln called his guard to a halt. He would decide how to hold off the Jinds, but he would not change his decision to hide the Book. He quickly surveyed the Pass Of Calin. The Jinds were yet out of sight. Perhaps they could be stopped there at the Pass. It that were the case, they might not see a lone figure at Maelnru's Cairn, but he would need more troops in order to safely leave the Plains. To his guard he gave instructions to return to the Pass Of Calin to skirmish with the Jinds. They must hold the Jinds there at all cost. As the Mardots guard turned their steeds and galloped off the way they had come, Greunweiln ordered Tzimar to return to Æberaun to lead reinforcements to rescue him and whatever kinsmen would be alive after their skirmish at the Calin Pass. He would go on alone to place the Book in the cairn.
     "Bring a large army with you" Greunweiln told Tzimar, “for I will suffer no Jindsman to live to tell of our meeting here upon these Plains."
     The shadows of night were beginning to stretch across the ground as Tzimar flew off. Greunweiln, in the meantime, continued on to the solitary pile of rune inscribed rocks that marked his father's burial mound. He finished his mission, and having done so, he made his way to the Heights Of Harkdudarti. There he could view how his troops were faring with the Jinds at the Calin Pass.
     The Mardots, though seemingly outnumbered, were keeping the Jinds at bay. They were aided by a wind that had risen up as if from out of nowhere. The witchwind, hot and salty, buffeted the Jinds' ships so badly that they could neither land them nor leave the place. They could not take proper aim with their great crossbows of ironwood. The Mardots, on the other hand, carefully took their aim, and killed quite a number of the enemy in the pilot ships. The battle raged on for hours until it became too dark for either army to see. The Mardots had lost only eleven of their men when they called a halt to the battle.
     As the night wore on, the winds slowly died down, enabling the Jinds to land their longships. Tired as they were from the ordeal, they chose not to counterattack. Instead they set about building a defensive position along the ridge of the chalk cliffs of the Huradd Butte. They set up their artillery to aim out over the Plains Of Galbradith.
     Tzimar lost no time in his return to the wicked city of Æberaun to gather together his army. Due to the nearness of the Mardots lands to those of the Chlandoins, the reinforcing Mardots army was able to arrive in Galbradith just as the battle at the Pass Of Calin was coming to its close. By night cover they avoided the encampment fires of the Jinds, and landed in full force upon the Heights Of Harkdudarti. The Mardots likewise spent the night setting up their artillery to span the broad Plains.
     Baeoinfaermn was there at the Plains Of Galbradith also.
     From the Pass Of Yoenirh, which separated the Huradd Butte from the long and snaking Gandor Mountains, he had watched Greunweiln and his small band of warriors make their way toward the Cairn of Maelnru. He had seen the staff called Ckowlyn rear her head.
     He had watched Tzimar heed Ckowlyn's warning, and halt in his tracks at the scent of the Jinds. And as the Mardots warriors rode past him, and Tzimar took to the skies in his return to Æberaun, The Wind What Canst Sleep had watched Greunweiln go alone to the cairn of his dead father, there to place the Book Of Nordo within its solemn depths. While the battle raged between the Mardots and the Jinds at the Pass Of Calin, Baeoinfaermn had watched The Balance In Space climb the Heights Of Harkdudarti which lay on the side of the Plains opposite him.
     For a moment Baeoinfaermn contemplated whether to steal to Maelnru's Cairn, and take the Book. He could be off to new lands while the Mardots and Jinds settled their disputes. He could, he thought, travel to the far reaches of the known universes, and rid himself of all remembrances of the Jinds and the Mardots. The idea of retrieving the Book and leaving these warring tribes to their own ends enticed him deeply, but he simply could not bring himself to do so. He wrestled with the decision in his mind as the cries and shouts of the skirmish assailed his ears. It bothered him emotionally, and made the deciding all the harder.
     In the night's duskiness, Baeoinfaermn made out the figure of a rider approaching him across the Huradd Butte. By this time the sound of the battle at the Pass Of Calin had died down somewhat, and the fires of encampment had begun to show on either sides of the Plains Of Galbradith, casting flickering starbursts in the barren landscape. He stood up as the rider neared him. It was Hathuurn.

     "Do you ride with the Jinds on the morrow?" The Sword Of Illusion called out as he dismounted and brought his steed to where Baeoinfaermn rested.
     Skirting the issue, Baeoinfaermn inquired of Hathuurn, "did your troops fare well at the Calin Pass? I watched and saw the winds rise up to harry your landing."
     "The winds may have had their fun with us, but they like the Mardots, are no match for our battle skill" Hathuurn replied, "and besides, we far outnumber the Mardots. The thirty ships which landed this day are but the vanguard fleet of the Jinds; I have many more coming. Tomorrow we will finish the Mardots. Tomorrow the winds may blow as fierce as they wish. They will not stop us anymore than will the Mardots."
     "Do not make such bold statements so early, or your guard may be down when it is truly needed" Baeoinfaermn warned. "You were too busy commandeering your ships to notice that the winds were called up by the wizard Tzimar. They were merely the brushing of his cloak against your sails as he flew to Æberaun for reinforcements. This I watched and saw. And only a short while ago I watched and saw Tzimar return with fresh troops to build up the Mardots forces. Look for Yourself, there on the Heights Of Harkdudarti, and see the many fires which blaze in the Mardots camp. The small band with which you skirmished this day is not so small now."
     "Nevertheless" Hathuurn countered, "the Mardots, no matter how great their numbers, will be no match for the Jinds. They fight only to protect their lives which are to be forfeited to satisfy the greedy whims of Greunweiln; The Jinds fight to restore the Jindsmarn. Many fires may glow in the Mardots camp, but a greater fire burns in the heart of every Jinds. In that the advantage lies. The question remains ~ do you ride with us on the morrow?"
     Baeoinfaermn consented this time. Much as he hated war he could not bring himself to refuse Hathuurn. Hands clenched in trust, he and Hathuurn sealed their pact.