"...orn Press? I rather like it. Let's see if he would be open to the idea. And see about a realtor. I'm sure there are some prime locations which have opened up over the last few months, given the economy." Brytt Heathard nodded to his companions while scouting locations for the news desk. It had been many years since the press had considered an upgrade in their office location and marketing strategy and the air hummed with possibilities. A woman in armor on an ethereal mount ran up to the ensemble. "Brytt Heathard? The reporter?" "Aye, the same." "You should get down to the Skaran Fairegrounds. They've found the man who holds the last map fragment!" Brytt excused himself from his company and dug for his runebook. "How did they find him?" "Elias Ashmole. He appeared in the throne room and told us that Tessa knew where the last of the Four could be found." "Tessa, the waitress? From Skara Brae?" She nodded. "She said he was hiding nearby. Near the farms." "Then, we go." Brytt found runes marking the ancient words for "Skara Brae", "Celebration", and "Grounds" and muttered his incantation. A moongate opened and the two went through. Clangs and shouts heralded the sounds of battle. Brytt scanned the woods and saw a man fleeing from mercenaries, while soldiers and citizens of Britannia raced to intercept. "You die, and you die now...!" the voice of Blister came.... "Seems we've found the place." Brytt rolled back his sleeves and tossed an energy vortex. The woman nodded in agreement and pulled her sword from its scabbard, diving into the melee. The familiar battle techniques of facing a mercenary came back to him, memories of defending the Shire and the Girl Scouts racing back. The mercenary scout pressed forward through the crowds, straining to reach for the fleeing man, but was successfully abated. When the scouts had fallen, the man gathered himself and stood to thank the crowds for their defense. "Thank you all. I was sure they would get me." he gasped. "I've been hiding, but they had me surrounded. Evil, they are." "Die...!" came a crackling voice. The crowd turned to see the Hooded Stranger, momentarily watching from a moongate. "He is mine," she warned, pointing into the crowd before vanishing through a gate before crowds could catch her. As the moongate winked out, people helped Spartus to his feet. "Spartus? Mowdly is dead. Rouso, imprisoned. We are sad to bring the news. We understand you may know the location of the last fragment of the map. The one who wears the ankh has been called forth." Spartus shifted his feet uncomfortably. "Uh.. You were all kind enough to save me, but... I um.... map?" He absently touched his hand against his pocket. "We can help protect you," came the voice of the Grand Duchess of Dawn. "You are the only one left," Brytt said softly. "Mowdly, Rouso... Jacko is gone as well." Spartus's eyes lifted; clearly he had heard the news of Mowdly and Rouso, but not of Jacko. "Ol' Jacko? Dead? I ain't seen him in years." A profound sadness seemed to wash over him. Whatever burdens he had been carrying seemed to weigh double. "What you do with the fragment is up to you...." Brytt said. "But consider the fate of an entire race. You may hold the last key to survival of the Gargoyles". "I...." Suddenly, moongates opened and the Spiritwood filled with mercenaries! "Protect me!" cried Spartus as the defense ran after the mercenaries, who led the defenders south. Furious battle roared as not one, but two mercenary paragon generals emerged and began spewing death! Like guardians of the Underworld, they rode their multi-headed lizards and struck down woman after man after man after woman. "Here. Grab that cloth. Let's set up here. Stay with us!" Brytt instructed Spartus, while the Grand Duchess of Dawn began healing the injured and resurrecting the fallen. "We'll set up a medic station." From the Spiritwood south of the medic station, the injured came in floods. Wave after wave of injured, those furiously defending the attacks. They came for heals, then returned to the south where the battle awaited. Suddenly, while the defense forces fought on in the south, a gate opened and the Hooded Stranger appeared in front of Spartus and the healers! WildStar, Grand Duchess of Dawn, valiantly stood between Spartus and the Hooded Stranger. "You can't have him!" She heralded. "Then I will have him dead." The gravelly voice retorted. With a flick of her wrist, a bolt of lightning struck down from the heavens and through the body of Spartus. Brytt and WildStar were flung aside from the shock. The Hooded Stranger picked through Spartus's corpse and retrieved a folded piece of parchment. "Leave it alone!" Brytt shouted, picking himself off the ground. Without a word, the Hooded Stranger mounted and fled to the north, waving as she sped away into the darkness. There would be no time for mourning, however, as the onslaught of the defense force continued. Relentless waves of injured poured in as the twisted pour of the infused mercenaries wrought havoc, slaying men and beasts alike. Healers were relieved to be joined by a proficient priestess of the capitol city, Taffy, from the Britain Healers Guild, who had come down upon news of the assault. When the paragons had finally been felled and the injured recovered, Brytt packed up his reagents and returned with those gathered to the throne room, where Elias awaited to be told of the unfortunate news. "That is ill-fated news. However, there is still hope. Recently, the Thiefmaster has uncovered the location of the Mercenary camp. I will inform Queen Dawn of this news. Be prepared to launch an attack soon." This message was met by skepticism from some, who seemed convinced that the mercenaries had been provided support from the inside and others who intoned that all this talk was... just talk. "Bah. Ya all never listen and look whats happened. Ya all go ahead and keep listening to them up there. Words.. look what they got ya..." crooned Hilda, one of those accused earlier of conspiracy, along with Aldagar Morr and Cymidei Fier. "For now, rest well." Elias repeated. "Get ready for an attack against the mercenaries." Brytt swallowed, struggling to take in everything from the death of the final fragment holder to the impending battle that awaited them all. The future of the gargoyle race, in the hands of the Hooded Stranger. The mercenaries had cast round the corpses, how were they to successfully complete any offensive, even if they knew the location of their base? How were they going to pull this off? The last of four, the final map fragment. The fate of a race.... Somewhere, the Hooded Stranger ponded the secrets of the fragment she held. She also gave orders to the men foolish enough to give their loyalty for her coins.... She was no fool. They would be ready. They would all be ready.