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The New Alliance

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Over the city of Kelletirandia, the golden dragon Scregor flew, as the armies of the New Alliance walked into the streets unhindered. Upon his back rode the wild elf Corvus Corax, surveying the vast city of ten million people that he now owned.

"Pathetic," Corvus spat. "That was almost too easy. They fear me so much that they surrender rather than face my might."

In the center of town, at the base of the Spire of Kelletirandia, Corvus landed the dragon and slid off his back, striding off to meet with his generals. This was a great victory for the New Alliance, and no blood had to be shed to make it, no buildings burned.

"Ah, there you are, General Rikari," Corvus said, rubbing his hands together as he approached the silver-haired elf. "Have the leaders of their military sworn allegiance to the Alliance yet?"

"They have, sir," Rikari said, saluting him.

"What of the council?" He had no intention of allowing the local government to survive, of course.

Rikari shakes his head. "Someone apparently beat us to it."

"Oh?" Corvus was curious now. "Show me."

Rikari led him to the council hall, which he found a mess of blood with words scrawled upon the walls. They questioned some of the guards, who confirmed fearfully that the council was indeed dead.

"But no bodies?" Corvus frowned. "I don't trust any death unless I see a body."

The guards assured him that they saw with their own eyes that the council was dead.

Corvus waved his hand. "No matter. They're gone and that's what's important." He looked around in distaste at the bloody hall. "I need a better place to make my official residence in this city. This won't do." Thinking back on that tower, he thought that was suitably impressive, and headed out back to it.

The wild elf headed inside to look around, exploring the first level before finding the elevator and figuring out how to use it. Much appreciating the spectacular view from the top of the tower, he decided that this would suit his purposes admirably. He could easily mount Scregor from the top of the tower, as well as see everything in the city at once. Then, he could house his guards and mages in the lower levels of the tower and meet with people at the top, a suitably impressive location.

Leaving the tower and meeting with his generals, he arranged his head Warder and Seeker to be stationed in the tower, to protect it against anyone that got the idea of assassination into their head. He also had a healer placed there just in case, as well as a number of his non-Talented guards. Then he arranged messengers to run to and from the tower so that he didn't have to leave. No point in being an impressive emporer if you ran around doing your own errands.

Corvus arranged for the city's blacksmiths to be put to work forging weapons and armor for his soldiers, offering to pay them double what the Kelletirandia Council had offered. The smiths, for the most part, readily agreed. One of them, in fact, a man named Stravos Riftgazer, had a full complement of weapons made up and ready for immediate delivery. He made sure the man was paid triple for his prompt response.

Next, Corvus looked over the city's pathetic army. This was a city of ten million people, why did they not support a real army? Perhaps that's why they surrendered, he thought. Drafting people unwillingly only angered them, he figured. Better that they think it was their own idea to follow him, for the good of the plane. Promptly he had fliers sent out encouraging people to support the Alliance, to unite the Civilized Realms under a common banner.

Kelletirandia was an excellent place to work this campaign from. It was the largest city on Wilderplane, and located in the heart of the Civilized Realms. Surely with Kelletirandia under his command, the rest of the Realms would quickly step in line.

Quite by accident, but inevitably, Corvus discovered the library behind the elevator. He thumbed through a few of the books, but didn't find much of it particularly interesting. There was too much stuff in here to move out to make into his sleeping chamber, however, so he just set up a pallet on the floor for himself to one side of the room without really moving anything.

He smiled to himself as he laid back to sleep. Everything was going perfectly. Except for that annoying young Windrider who had spurned him a few days ago. No matter. He had his soldiers search the town for him and they'd found nothing. The young elf doubtless fled when he realized Kelletirandia would fall under Alliance control soon. The insolent man would be found and punished sooner or later. Patience was a virtue, and time was on his side for once. Corvus drifted off to sleep peacefully.

Corvus Corax only managed a few hours sleep before waking in the middle of the night. Grumbling softly at his strange dreams, he slipped on a hooded cloak and went down the elevator and out into the city. Perhaps a walk in the chill night would help.

There were a great many drow in this city, he realized, making sure that the hood of his cloak was up so that they did not see the color of his hair. Wild elves were highly uncommon in this part of the world, and if he was trying to be incognito, it was best that he be mistaken for a drow. Not that he held any particular hate for his fellow dark elves, but he found he wasn't often comfortable around them, perhaps partly because they weren't comfortable around him.

He smiled to himself as he watched a group of drow children heading to school. It was good that they could feel safe walking the streets at night, now that those streets were under Alliance control, and not the ineffective Kelletirandian military. The city would benefit greatly from the Alliance presence here.

Sighing to himself, Corvus continued down the street. Who would have thought that a wild elf would take to the cities and build great empires? It was unheard of. He had betrayed every tradition of his people by simply having willing extended contact with other races, rather than hiding in the depths of the Wilderness. But the Wilderness wasn't for him. He knew his destiny lie elsewhere, that he was meant for greater things than wandering the endless wilds, hunting and avoiding other races. And his determination was what got him exiled from his own people.

But for Scregor, he knew, he might have been left to wander in obscurity for the rest of his life. The dragon had changed all that. The mighty golden dragon who had he bent to his will was the key to his success. It took a strong mind to control a dragon, Corvus knew, and even now much of his energy was expended in maintaining that bond, preventing him from using it on other potentially useful things. Still, the dragon was all he really needed most of the time, and when that failed, mere words and threats were enough to get him what he wanted.

"Hello Mister," a small voice from below interrupted his thoughts.

Glancing down, Corvus saw a young drow girl there smiling up at him. "Well, hello there, little one," he said, crouching down to face her.

"Do you know where my mommy is?"

Corvus glanced at the sky. It was already starting to grow late. Had he really been out that long? "No, but maybe I can help you find her," he assured the girl. "What's your name?"

"Meliza," the tiny girl said. "Meliza Shadowhand."

He scooped up the girl in his arms. "Well, let's go find your mommy, shall we?"

"Okay," she said, smiling.

Corvus checked on Scregor. The dragon was sleeping. He was easier to control while asleep, so that meant Corvus could make some limited use of his power. Scanning the vicinity for the girl's mother, he located her after a few sweeps and headed off in that direction at a quick pace.

"Well, lookie here, fresh meat!" a gutteral voice called from the shadows.

Spinning around, Corvus cursed himself for not paying attention to any minds around him and realized he was surrounded by at least half a dozen orcs. "Go away," he told them fiercely.

"Oh, we don't want you," one of the orcs said. "We just want the tasty little girl."

Angrily, he blasted the orc's mind, brains splattering all over the two orcs next to him. Screaming, the rest of the orcs fled. Meliza's face was hidden in his chest. He was glad that the girl didn't have to see that.

"It's okay," he reassured the girl, patting her on the back. "They're gone, you're safe. I won't let them hurt you."

Heading down the next street, he spotted the girl's mother out searching for her. Upon seeing him with her she ran up to him joyfully, taking the girl out of his arms.

"Oh, I'm so glad you found her, I've been looking all over," the woman said, cradling the tired girl in her arms.

"Glad I did, too," he told her. "A group of orcs was about to make a snack of her. I'll make sure that scum is dealt with."

In the commotion, he hadn't noticed his hood fall to his shoulders, but the woman didn't recognize him by face alone, apparently. She headed off toward her home and invited him to follow. "I'm Keliza Shadowhand," she told him.

Corvus pulled up his hood back over his head with a soft sigh, following behind the woman. "My name is Corvus," he said quietly.

They reached her home, not far away, and Keliza put the girl to bed. Corvus politely waited by the door, unsure what to make of this. She surely knew he was a wild elf, and wild elves and drow didn't typically get along very well.

"Corvus," Keliza mused, coming back into the front room. "There aren't exactly many wild elves in the city."

"I suppose I'm the exception then," Corvus smiled faintly. "I am Corvus Corax, the leader of the New Alliance. At your service," he made a bow.

Keliza just stared at him. "You, are the leader of the New Alliance?"

"That's right."

"You don't seem to evil or tyrannical as rumor would make you out to be," Keliza commented.

Corvus laughed softly. "I suppose not. What else do they say about me?"

"Of course, I don't really expect this city to have a clue what's really going on," Keliza rolled her eyes slightly. "They didn't even know you had a dragon until two days ago."

They didn't? Usually that was the rumor that travelled fastest. Perhaps that's why it took them as long as they did to surrender. "Ah, I see." He glanced outside at the brightening sky. "I'd best be going, don't want to keep you up."

"Oh, it's no trouble," Keliza assured him. "Thank you again for finding my daughter. Stop by sometime for tea if you like."

"I will, thank you," he said, having no intention of doing any such thing. "Good night. Er, morning. Bye." Corvus rushed out the door and closed it behind him.

Sighing as he stepped out onto the early morning street, Corvus realized that his typical anxiety around drow had flared up again, in spite of his best efforts. She hadn't even seemed hostile toward him. Maybe it was because she was too friendly. Well, it was understandable, he supposed. She was doubtless only kissing up to him in hopes of obtaining a good position in the new government. No matter, it was nothing he wasn't used to.

Heading back to the tower wearily, he sincerely hoped that he could get some sleep now. Riding up the elevator and curling up on his simple pallet, Corvus managed to fall asleep and remained so for the better part of the day.