Location: Remains of the Hemlock Stronghold
Radjar's face was pale and ashen. His hands shook, his throat choked up. By his side was Rosa, grim and sad. Behind the pair were the Dark Forest soldiers, tired after a days march, and now depressed beyond belief. Hemlock Stronghold, pride of the Dark Foresters, was gutting, destroyed, ruined. It, unlike Drullen Bell Keep, had not been protected by a ring of drenched and dug up swamp. The Dark Foresters had had no time to defend, they simply had to run to survive the flames, leaving their homes to be consumed.
"I never thought..." Radjar began, then stopped. Rosa knew what he meant, what all Dark Foresters had hoped for. The Stronghold was contructed most of stone, a material usually safe from the hungry flames. However, the timber inside had turned to ash, and the heat had become so intence metal had buckled and stone had cracked. Hemlock had not been detonated like the Fire Breathing Fortress, instead it was now like a shriveled jack-o-lantern time to be thrown. The walls were either caving inward or out. Towers stook crooked, and gatehouses were piles of rubble.
Sadness seeped from every person like a plague. Rosa could almost taste it.
"Once," Rosa said quietly so only he could hear, "A fire burned the only home I knew. But is wasn't a destruction, it was a rebirth. Hemlock will rise again Rad."
Slowly, she slipped her into Radjar's limp one. It was the first time she had called him Rad. It was also the first time she had really touched him.