Karr sat unmoving by the hearth, staring into the flames with a far off look. Behind him, several people lounged in various couches and chairs, drinking and talking quietly. The cabin they were staying in was spacious, with several different rooms and a loft, though the kitchen and sitting room were technically one. Outside a blizzard, of the likes not seen in several decades, was busy slowly burying the gathered friends in snow. No one really paid much attention to it though, they were focused on more important matters.

Sighing, Karr stood and joined the others in their conversation. His father Roland, a big man with a bushy brown beard and eyebrows to match, slid over to make room for his son. Karr just leaned against the arm of the couch and crossed his arms, asking, "How does it look?"

"Bad," Roland grunted, brushing some snow from his hair, "I went as far as Whitewind Garrison, but the news is all the same; the Fae have been acting more and more violent. So far, there've been reports of at least six deaths and over a dozen fires."

Aurelle gasped, twisting her long golden hair anxiously, "That many?" she asked in a worried tone, "if this gets any worse they'll have to send in the Guard."

Karr nodded grimly, "It'll be another Silver Pines Massacre."

Roland looked down into his glass of mulled wine and whispered solemnly, "So many good Fae dead, all because of a damn misunderstanding."

"That's the problem," Marc pointed out, emphasizing his point by waving his half eaten roll in the air, "misunderstandings. They can't tell the difference between wild Fae and Faeries. So they just kill them all," he made a slashing motion with the bread.

Kyrah, just returning from the kitchen with several mugs of cider, sat down and said, "Aye, but we're supposed to make sure that they don't misunderstand. Yet we fail, time and time again, and more Fae die for it."

"I'm getting tired of you two blaming yourselves for the Silver Pines. It was twelve years ago, and you got there too late," Karr said bluntly, "there was nothing you could've done without having known the future."

"You can't know what it was like. You weren't there. You didn't see the bloodshed," Aurelle muttered.

Karr narrowed his eyes and accepted a cup from Kyrah, after taking a long drink he finally said, "I believe I'm well aware of that. But contrary to popular belief, I do know what it's like to be on the wrong end of a slaughter."

Aurelle sunk back into her seat and looked down, "Sorry, I just forget sometimes..."

"It's nothing," Karr interrupted, waving his hand dismissively, "it was a long time ago."

There was a moment of silence, until Kyrah asked, "What now then? Do we sit here and do nothing?"

"We can't make any progress with a blizzard raging outside," Roland grunted, downing the last of his wine.

"So essentially, yes, we sit here and do nothing," Karr answered. As if to add weight to what Roland had just said, a particularly strong wind buffeted the cabin, howling with a frightening fury.

For a painfully long time they just sat listening to the storm, until Marc finally stood and said with a slight smile, "I think I will be retiring to bed, that wine has made me awfully tipsy. Would you be so kind as to help me to my room Kyri? I wouldn't want to stumble and fall."

Kyrah shook her head and said seriously, "I think I shall stay here, though I do hope you a safe trip to your chambers." As always, she displayed little emotion, but to anyone who looked close enough, there was a small twinkle in her eyes as she spoke.

"Suit yourself," Marc muttered lightheartedly as he stumbled away.

"There's a man with no fear of the fire," Karr said as he moved to the window. "I would think he'd have given up on you months ago. I applaud your tolerance."

Kyrah stood and collected the empty glasses, "He's too harmless for me to be annoyed. Honestly, the man reminds me of a puppy sometimes."

Karr chuckled to himself before saying, "Dad. You've been quieter than usual, what's bothering you?"

"Nothing, nothing..." Roland said, "I was just thinking. Something doesn't feel right about this. There's been no contact from my friends in the Faery Court, and those I do meet refuse to acknowledge the situation."

"Karredo," Aurelle asked, worry tinging her voice.


"You're hair."

Karr reached up and pulled a lock of his hair into vision. It hard turned from his usual color of sandy blond to an icy white. His eyes widened at that, and he said quickly, "That's interesting, I hadn't noticed it happen! There must be a strong Fae somewhere nearby--" he was interrupted by a heavy knocking at the front door.

Roland was the first out of his seat, sword ready. Aurelle had managed to draw the dagger she always carried around, and Kyrah was clutching an iron pot. Only Karr remained still, though he was hesitant to answer.

"I don't think it's anything dangerous..." Karr said slowly as he turned the handle and opened the door. Standing knee deep in snow, wrapped in a brown cloak, was the Mayor of Whitewind. The man who had hired them to look into the Fae killings.

"Mister Mayor?" Karr exclaimed with surprise.

"Please," he said, his voice was weak. "You have to..." the Mayor fell, but Karr was quick enough to catch him. As soon as he had though, Karr let out a hiss, prompting the others to come over. "He's been stabbed, it's pretty bad--though I don't think it's fatal. Kyri!"

Kyrah was already rushing over, medical kit in hand. She removed his shirt and began cleaning the wound. The Mayor looked up, his eyes were distant, "They... attacked us... there were... too many..."

"Who attacked you?" Karr asked, though dreading he knew the answer already.

"The... Fae..."

Karr cursed, grabbing his sword from its place on the wall. "Marc!" he shouted as he pulled on a heavy fur coat.

Marc stumbled out of his room, half dressed. His eyes quickly moved from the Mayor, to Karr and Roland. He nodded and disappeared back inside, only to return out again almost fully dressed.

"We're going into town," Karr said to Aurelle, "keep the Mayor safe, make sure none of the Fae come here. There's extra iron dust in the chest in my room, use it sparingly."

"What happened?" Marc asked as he buckled his sword, "what's going on?"

"The Fae attacked Whitewind." Karr said flatly.

Marc whistled, "Now that, I didn't see coming."

"Neither did I," Roland said as he hefted a heavy iron axe, "but I'm always ready just in case."

"Wait," the Mayor said. All eyes turned towards him. "There were so many of them. They overwhelmed the guards in a matter of minutes. I think that the people may have held up in the Keep, but I'm not sure. I sent a rider to the Garrison."

"Good to know," Karr said, nodding, "hopefully we won't be too badly outnumbered." He rushed out the door.


A quarter hour later, the three men were cresting a snow topped hill above Whitewind. The snow grew thicker the farther they moved from the cabin, but they trudged through with surprising speed and determination. Marc, who had the best eyes of the group, pointed forwards and shouted something that was lost in the storm. A moment later, Karr was beside him, squinting into the whiteness.

"What is it?" Karr asked loudly.

"The city!" Marc shouted as Roland joined them.

"What about it?" Roland said.

"It's burning!"

Karr cursed softly, noticing the telltale glow for the first time. "This is bad. This is really, really bad. I've never known Fae to do this. Wild or not. This won't be easy to stop."

"That's why we're here though," Marc said with a grin, "we're the experts. Aren't we?"

Karr nodded and moved forwards, "How many guards were posted at the walls?" he asked Roland.

"Maybe two hundred," he answered.

"Then there's at least three times that attacking the city," Marc said despairingly, "and last time I counted, there's only three of us."

"You forget we're the experts." Karredo said, breaking into a run.

"At studying and understanding Fae, not being heroes from some fireside story."

"There's no reason we can't be both," Roland said, drawing his axe as the glow became brighter. "I was always partial to those paladins they're always telling stories about."

They ran for what seemed like a lifetime, a wall of falling snow and ice obscuring their vision. There was no way, it seemed, that they would get to the town in time. Still, they ran, and the more they did the brighter the glow became. Finally, they encountered their first opposition. A seven foot tall wispy apparition that seemed to fade in and out of reality.

"Stormwraith!" Karr shouted, stopping short and drawing his blade. The wind picked up to a rediculous speed, blowing a cloud of loose snow and ice into his face. Cursing, Karr fell back, feeling blood trickle from his cheeks.

"What in the world was that!" Marc exclaimed.

"Something Stormwraiths do when they get startled," Karr said, wiping his face with his sleeve. "What color is my hair?"

"White, Karr. As far as I can tell, everything is white. You're hair isn't much help right now," Marc answered.

"Boy!" Roland yelled, piercing the night, "a little help!"

Karr spun around to see Roland fighting the Stormwraith. He swung his wicked iron axe with surprising speed, but the Fae was always too quick, blasting him with jets of wind. Karr charged, hurling an iron knife he kept hidden away. It hit the creature with a cracking hiss, allowing Roland enough time to score a fatal blow to its head.

"Took your sweet time," Roland said, rubbing his shoulder, "been a while since I fought one of them. Forgot how quick they were."

"Well they're fairly rare, so hopefully we won't encounter too many," Karr muttered as he retrieved his knife.

"Lets keep moving," Marc said, "the town can't be too far away."

The two others nodded and continued forwards, Marc trailing behind and watching their backs. It was several minutes before they reached the town gates, but when they did, they found what they were afraid of. The thick wooden wall had been crushed to splinters, and a line of bodies littered the wall's vicinity.

"Damn," Marc said, "just. Damn."

"Come on, there's no use just standing around," Karr said over, straining to be heard over the wind.

"We need to make it to the Keep. The Mayor said that's where the villagers would most likely be holding out." Roland noted as they passed through the empty streets. They were so still and quiet, it was an eerie sight. Bloody mounds of snow littered the ground, and various builds had been reduced to nothing more than ash.

"That's our best bet." Karr said, but he slowed suddenly and looked around wearily.

"What is it?" Marc asked.

"Watch out!" Karr shouted. But it was too late, a group of Fae resembling children had pounced on Marc and were beating him with rocks and sticks.

"Light-forsaken bloody Fae!" Marc roared, knocking his attackers back into the snow. With several quick strokes he decapitated two and took the third in its neck. Roland, reacting quickly, and managed to cleave one in half while shouldering another. Marc turned, punching his fourth attacker in the face with an iron ringed gauntlet. Flesh seared and the creature scream in agony, but it was short lived. With a flash of dull metal, Marc plunged his sword into the Faes heart, then decapitated it.

Karr, who had also been attacked, had been forced into an alley by three larger Faes. The first one lunged, its almost-human body glowing with a faint blue aurora. Karr dodged, kicking it in the ribs, and brought his sword down on the creature's back. The second Fae, this one armed with a long thin blade, tried to take Karr from behind, but he was too quick. In one fluid motion Karr threw his dagger, impaling the Fae in the left eye, then took off its head.

The third Fae, only wielding a wooden cudgel, tried to flee out of the alley, but was caught in the forehead by a swing from Roland's axe. With a grunt, Roland spun around and cut the creature across the waist. It howled, not quite dead, and swung its weapon at Roland's head. There was a cracking noise as Marc sliced clean through the Fae's arm, and Karr finished the job with a sword through its brain.

"That was interesting," Marc muttered, rubbing a gash over his eye.

"That's one word for it," Karredo chuckled, though his face quickly became grim again. "They're tougher than I though they'd be. We better hurry, hopefully the Keep is defensible."

Luckily, they made it to the keep with little difficulty, only encountering two or three strays. When they actually reached they base of the massive blocky fortress, they were presented with a new problem. Nearly five hundred Fae of all different sizes and shapes were crowded around the Keep, surrounding it completely. From what the three could see, the guards were doing their best to keep the creatures at bay, dropping hot oil and showering them with arrows. But they only had so much of those.

"This isn't good," Karr said, "not good at all."

"So many Fae, in one place, working together. This would be an amazing thing to study under different circumstances," Marc mentioned with a twinge of wonder in his voice.

Karr gave Marc a sidelong glance, but said nothing. From their vantage atop the blacksmith's house, they could see a fair distance. There didn't seem to be any sign of soldiers from the Garrison.

"We have to find a way in there," Karr said, "we can give them news of the reinforcements, and possibly help them fight."

"How many do you think they're killing with those arrows?" Marc asked.

"Judging on the fact that those are probably steel arrows, I'd say about half as many as they should be. There's not enough iron to do any serious damage. The oil will serve to keep them at bay, but it won't really hurt them either." Karr answered.

"Is there any way we can signal them?" Roland said, "let them know we're out here?"

"Not without letting the Fae know we're here too," Marc replied. "Our best bet is to--" he froze, face confused, at the sound of a crack. A moment later, there was another, followed by two more, and finally a violent splintering noise. Before any of the three knew what had happened, they found themselves sprawled out in the snow, half buried in shingles and wood.

"What just happened?" Karr asked, slightly dazed.

"Damn it all!" Roland cursed. There was a gurgling sound followed by a hiss from where he was. Marc and Karr immediately leapt up, dashing towards Roland. They found him surrounded by seven huge Fae, each one resembling giant gelatinous men.

"They must've seen us fall!" Karr shouted as he cut through one of the Fae's legs.

"You think?" Marc asked sarcastically, finishing off the one Karr had injured. "If we don't move, they'll overwhelm us in a matter of minutes. We should try and make it to the Keep gates. Maybe they'll let us in."

Roland jumped backwards, cutting one of his attackers clean in two, and said frantically, "And maybe they'll let us get torn to pieces!"

"And maybe they won't! There's no use in not trying!" Karr exclaimed, dodging a swing from a giant Fae.

"Fine, fine," Roland grumbled, "but lets be quick about it!" With a loud roar, he spun in a complete circle, cutting down three of the creatures and wounding two more.

They moved as a group towards the Keep, fighting off any Fae that got close to them. Before they knew it, they were pressed up against the doors of the Keep, desperately fending off their attackers.

"Hey!" Marc shouted, "open the damn gates! We need to get in there!"

There was no response.

"Just open it a little way! We only need to slip in, just three of us!"

There was no response.

"I told you it wouldn't work," Roland said, "I certainly wouldn't open the gates for myself, not if this was out here waiting for me."

"You're not helping!" Marc shouted exasperatedly, he turned to and looked up to the top of the Keep and said one more time, "Open the gates!"

There was a creaking sound, followed by a large smash, and the doors began to open. "Thank you--" Marc was about to say, but he was cut off by the sound of charing hooves .

"You have got to be kidding me!" Karr yelled, "why in the world would they charge them!"

The cavalrymen collided with the Fae. The air was suddenly filled with the smell of smoldering flesh and the sounding burning skin. From the south, a horn blew, clear an unmuffled by the storm. There was a great cry from the back of the Fae's lines as another group of horsemen collided with them.

"Reinforcements!" Marc cried out, relieved.

Karr fell to one knee, too weak to continue, though he did smile wearily. "Looks like I made it out of this one alive. I'll be honest, I'm actually pretty surprised."


The following morning, Kyrah, Aurelle and the Mayor returned to the town. Karr, Marc, and Roland, who, being exhausted, had taken to bed, met up with them after breakfast.

"What happened here?" Aurelle asked, surveying the damage with shock.

"Long story..." Marc said grumpily. He was favoring one leg, and was virtually covered in bandages.

Behind them, Kyrah tsked as she looked over the various Fae corpses. "What a shame to loose so many Fae... I would've liked to have taken one or two to study."

"I'm about ready to take a break from Fae, to be honest," Karr said, rubbing his neck. "Maybe you can study the weather patterns of the South Seas. I heard its warm down there... all year round." He looked at the snow with some measure of distaste.

"What about the Mayor, was he all right?" Roland asked.

"The cut was deep, but it wasn't fatal. He'll be on his feet in a few days at the most," Kyrah answered.

"That's good to know..." Karr said sleepily as he slouched down onto one of the few benches that were still in tact.

At that moment, a solum faced man, a soldier by the looks of him, came up and tapped Roland on the shoulder. "Are you the leader of this team?" he asked, gesturing to everyone.

"Aye, what about it?" Roland said.

"This is for you, from Colonel Char of Whitewind Garrison," he handed Roland a letter and turned away to go.

"What's this now..." Roland muttered, reading the letter over. As he did, his bushy eyebrows tried to climb his forehead. "Well now," he said, "this.. is... interesting..."

"Eh?" Karr said, looking up.

"We've been called back to the Royal City," Roland answered.

"What's so interesting about that? The Academy has a right to want their best teachers back," Marc said.

"No... it's not that... this--this wasn't the only place. Cities all over the country were attacked, the realm is in panic. The Guard has been dispatched with orders to kill any Fae they see."

Karr paled and Aurelle gasped, Kyrah cursed to herself and stalked away angrily. "What does this mean for us?" Marc asked quietly.

"Well," Karr announced, standing up and stretching, "it means that I won't be getting my vacation."