Helmgard pass cut a track through the Flamesend Mountains nearly sixty miles long, narrow where it began in the high peaks and broadening into a fertile dale as it descended unto the White Vale coastline. There amidst the firs and creeks stood mustered the hosts of a half-score holdfasts and towers, banners bobbing on a pleasant breeze. The sun, though half shrouded behind a rising pall, took its time to grace knight and armsman alike with its glorious play, lighting upon fine armor and keen-edged swords. Seasoned warriors, these; accustomed to the internecine warfare of the southern Ebontide where in days not so long ago Hopesfire corsairs roamed with impunity and intrepid Orcs still infested the foothills.
In the distance, high in the mountains amongst swiftly blackening clouds, thunder roared.