Somewhere far off, perhaps in the far future, perhaps in another plane, a group of figures observes a scrying glass. The glass shows a boggy forested river delta from above, as if viewed by a bird. But as if the bird is diving, less and less area is visible in the glass, and more and more details can be picked out, until an elven village suddenly becomes apparent. One of the figures — call him Nar’Ator — speaks.
“The small village of Dae’ostar. In many ways, it is like any other village.” The scrying glass shimmers and changes to showing an aged elf repairing a fishing net, shimmers again to reveal elven children climbing trees.
“But this land is unwelcoming,” the glass shows in sequence views of hydras, jaguars, giant spiders, and treants, “and eking out a living here is hard”, we see some sort of gruel being slopped into a wooden bowl.
Nar’Ator continues, “So why choose to live here? And why do they treat strangers with such paranoia?” The scrying glass shows a large group of what can only be “adventurers” entering the village, and then moments later a larger group of elven warriors appear, as if from nowhere, with blades at the adventurers’ throats.
“Elder Shoyuen explains,” says Nar’Ator, and the glass provides a close view of the face of an ancient elf, whose words are easily understood by those observing.
“In the past, the Deus Clariel was a bane to all the land. And so the other Dei banded together to imprison Clariel. No normal prison would suffice, so Clariel was bound in the very blood of the people of this village. Our three great families, Glimelion,” the glass shows a woman of middle years who gives the impression of steel covered with velvet, “Deymagrin”, now we see a scarred veteran, standing straight despite seeming to bear a great burden, “and Shoyuen”, the view is again of the ancient elf, though now from further away, and we can see a younger female who bears some resemblance sitting next to him, “keep Clariel imprisoned. If all our blood should be spilled, Clariel will surely be freed.”
Nar’Ator takes over the story, “And so they came to this desolate place,” fog rolls through a bog, “and they trained in the martial arts,” pairs of young elves can be seen sparring. “Still they paid a heavy price in blood,” the glass shows a stone bearing the words “To those who have fallen”, and then begins to move down, revealing a list of names. As the view drops, it also moves away from the stone, revealing more and more names. Eventually we see the edges of an obelisk, and the view begins to rotate around the obelisk, revealing more names on its other sides. As soon as the view is far enough away that the obelisk fills only about a quarter of the scrying glass, lines appear diving the glass in three, and views appear of two more obelisks, clearly in other parts of the same village.
“And even that price may not have been enough. A long-range scout has just returned,” the glass shows a large image of a younger elf, clean shaven, with dark brown skin and brown eyes, “bearing word that an attack is indeed imminent. An army of gnolls bears down upon the village.”
“And so the village prepares, as best it can. Those who cannot fight, flee.” we see a strapping young human helping a family load heavy sacks onto a cart, then a shimmer and a line of elves plodding away from the village. “Fighters prepare themselves with a few more drills, both martial,” a pair of elves sparring, “and mystical”, a young half-elf meditates in the woods as vines writhe around him. “While honor prevents the warriors from running, it does not stop them from using every weapon in their armory.” A foreign-to-the-village elf hands a vial of sickly green liquid to the human we saw earlier. The glass shifts, and reveals the half-elf scattering duff over a pitfall.
“But will it be enough? Will this village manage to beat back the gnoll threat? Or will the scout’s joyful homecoming,” the glass shows an elf girl play-fighting with the scout from before, then shifts to a scene of the scout surrounded by other elves, who lean in to hear the tale he tells, “be cut abruptly short?” The glass is again providing a view like of the village from above, when suddenly the earth shifts, trees sway, and a flock of birds takes wing, squawking in alarm.