Weeks had passed, and whilst Korra had been engaged on her own mission, Strike and Demanor had been attempting to rally the remaining nine Northland settlements to their banner to resist the foul schemes of the ancient orc shaman, the Rugorim; unfortunately five of the settlements (Hall of the Mountain King, Yorvic, Greatspear, Frostholme and Helhearth) had already sworn loyalty to the Rugorim swayed either by threats or promises of greener pastures when the mainland was taken and the Kingdom overthrown, only the three settlements of Odinland, Freyland and Mjolnir, all clustered around a naturally occurring hot spring, had openly declared their allegiance for Strike. A single settlement, that of Ironholme, situated amongst the great northern peaks, remained unaligned, it was a place of great important where the One Eye wisemen of the north regularly gathered and were trained in their soothsaying arts; never ones to rush into a decision, the One Eyes had not openly declared for either claimant to the northern throne, although there were strong voices on both sides of the debate.
With the aid of Demanor, Strike had been able to negotiate successfully with Odinland and was taking some hospitality before they pressed on towards Ironholme when Demanor heard a wiseman telling an assembled group of children a story from his youth. The old man relayed how his hunting party had been caught in a great blizzard that would surely have claimed all their lives when a huge mountain man covered in white fur appeared and showed them to the shelter of the cave, before disappearing back into the blizzard. The One Eye, a red bearded man called Melgin was also able to tell them that their were rumours in Ironholme that the Rugorim had departed aboard a longship (along with several other vessels carrying his brutish orc-men) towards the mainland, allegedly to take part in some great assault on the Kingdom; their were rumours of dark magics being used by the orc, nodding, Strike explained about the magical cauldron that the Rugorim was using to mingle the bloodlines of man and orc to create his lethal warriors.
Calling over one of his friends, a man named Alfir, he asked his friend to relate a recent tale that he had told, happy to oblige Alfir told them how he had seen elfin figures with skin like night roaming the mountains surrounding Ironholme, and that if they were there even though the Rugorim had left for the mainland it undoubtably did not bode well. Strike spoke passionately to Melgin about how he wanted to free the the world of Rugorim’s evil and unite the northlands whilst Alfir showed Demanor an arrow that he had found near where he had seen the night elves, Demanor shuddered as she recognised the ancient craft skills of her people filtered through a lens of brutish evil.
Bidding farewell to Odinland, Strike and Demanor had been travelling for less than a day when a violent blizzard rose around them, whipping the snow into a white frenzy, stinging their eyes and causing Demanor (unused to the cold) to start feeling very ill; none-the-less she was able to assume a bird form and scout ahead, eventually spotting what appeared to be a number of bodies lying partially buried by the snow, an ebony hand protruding from the slush. Returning to Strike she directed him to the bodies where they discovered about ten night elves; Strike’s hunting skills told him that they had been killed quickly and huge claw marks attested to the method of their death, but the claws were razor sharp and the blows precisely placed, quite unlike those of a normal animal. Removing some furs from the bodies, Strike threw them around Demanor to help combat the cold and they dashed back towards a cave they had spotted previously, taking shelter inside against the force of the storm.
After an hour had passed, and having recovered some of her strength, Demanor reached out, becoming one with the spirits of nature in the area, willing the wind’s anger to abate and slowly the force of the storm began to lessen. Standing at the door keeping watch, as the storm lessened, Strike glimpsed a tall, graceful figure covered head to toe in concealing white fur, observing the cave from the outside; a respecter of the northland ways, including hospitality, Strike beckoned for the figure to enter the cave and then stood back as it strode gracefully towards shelter. As the tall figure entered, it reached up, it’s hands covered in ice that gave them the aspect of claws, but as the hands touched the fur around it’s head the ice seemed to melt into vapour, revealing pale, slender hands that pulled back the fur hood to reveal an elven face, similar to Demanor’s although the skin was ice white.
It took them a few minutes for the mountain elf to make himself understood, his elven was in a strange dialect unfamiliar to Demanor and his grasp of the common tongue seemed rudimentary but they were able to establish that the elf came from a tribe who had been set the task of guarding the mountains at the dawn of time as Demanor’s tribe had been set the task of watching the great jungle; when the first violent humans had arrived in the northlands the mountain elves had withdrawn to their great stronghold and had left them to conduct their own affairs. The elf was able to relate that their ancient had seen strange visions of a child, or something ancient and evil masquerading as a child who bought great power and ruination to the world; Demanor relayed her own visions of the chil being found by the Rugorim and of the magical cauldrons that were being used to corrupt the bloodlines of the races. Their guest explained that he had seen the night elves and recognised them as a corruption of the elven race, he had killed them on the mountain side, he also told them that creating new life was not something that even the wisest amongst the elves could accomplish let alone the Rugorim and that perhaps the creature masquerading as the child was using the cauldrons as conduits for it’s own power.
The mountain elf said that he had sensed Demanor communing with the spirits of the wild, her energies had been recognised as elves of the jungle kin and so he had been dispatched to locate her and bring her to the mountain elves one remaining stronghold above the highest peak. Strike agreed (realising that new allies would be useful) and said that he would meet Demanor in Ironholme, nodding Demanor and the mountain elf transformed into birds and flew upwards upwards the top of the tallest peak.