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Commander Othon told us to move out. He didn't give details, only that there'd been attacks north of Cad'halash and the Crown was sending reinforcements. Father grabbed our axes, and we were off. I was a boy then, puffed up from a few victories in the Provings. I didn't know what was going to be taken from me. But I would find out.

The journey to Cad'halash was long and tiresome. Bored warriors make poor drunks at camp. Father and I kept to ourselves, though I admit I longed to lose myself in a pint of ale, if only to have something to do other than sharpen my axe.

—From Chronicles of a Forgotten War, author unknown

A day after leaving Cad'halash, we noticed a change. The Deep Roads were practically abandoned. Torches would suddenly go out, leaving us to stumble though the dark and trip over discarded caravans. Then came the attacks, hard and fast.

Father was one of the first. We heard breathing: slow and heavy, from a creature much larger than us. Father held out his arm and grabbed the front of my armor to make me stop. I saw its shadow move, darker than the darkness, and then my body jerked forward. It left Father's arm hanging, still grasping my chestplate.

—From Chronicles of a Forgotten War, author unknown

The Scaled Ones. I can't remember who came up with the name, but it stuck. Drohg had been lighting a torch when one attacked, and we finally caught a glimpse of something other than shadows. In the flame's light, we saw a man's body like those of the Imperium humans, but covered in scales. It wore armor and even had a dagger hanging from its hip. Its jaws wrapped around Drohg's face and twisted. The crunch of his neck breaking seemed to echo down the Deep Roads. The torch fell from his hands, and we lashed out.

I swung my axe will all my might, but it bounced off the Scaled One's armor, the impact ricocheting up my arms. It let out a roar. Then more attacked. From the light of the fallen torch, I guessed there was a score of them, all wearing armor and carrying weapons as sharp as their teeth and talons. The one that killed Drohg barked orders I didn't understand. I kept swinging.

Othon, the best of us, made the first kill by splitting a Scaled One's head open. There was a strange silence as if after an upset in the Proving Grounds, and it hit me that these beasts were not used to seeing one of their own die. Drohg's killer growled and stamped out the torch. The Scaled Ones retreated into darkness.

—From Chronicles of a Forgotten War, author unknown

Our bodies screamed for rest, but Othon pushed forward. Now that he'd seen the enemy, our commander wanted to use the Scaled Ones' tactics against them: go on the offensive. He left guards with the wounded and led the rest of the company to scout ahead for where the Scaled Ones were hiding.

After marching in darkness for days, we finally saw an amber light flickering in the distance. Othon signaled everyone to hold and waved me forward with him. We proceeded slowly, wary of possible guards. Othon nodded toward an overlook. I climbed with bated breath, terrified that the Scaled Ones would hear the echo of my boots scraping against the stone. I felt little relief when we reached the top.

—From Chronicles of a Forgotten War, author unknown

The Scaled Ones had set up a camp at an intersection in the Deep Roads. In the center there was a golden altar fashioned in the shape of fire. A chill swept through me. On the tip of each flame hung the corpses of those we'd lost—including Father and Drohg. They'd been drained of blood, leaving only bone wrapped in grey skin. A robed Scaled One stood before the altar. Its voice was different from the others: softer, almost feminine. It chanted and raised a basin of blood towards the altar. The other Scaled Ones bowed low. The robed Scaled One produced fire from its palm and mouth and ignited the blood.

Othon grabbed my forearm and motioned for us to climb down. We returned to the rest of the company, where he relayed what we had witnessed. We would rest for an hour, regain our strength, and strike.

The memory of Father's sagging, emptied face kept me awake. The hour passed slowly, but it did pass. Othon led us down the path to the overlook. I readied my axe for blood and steeled myself for the sight of the altar. But it wasn't there. The camp, Father and Drohg, the Scaled Ones... all gone. Only the basin remained, charred around the edges.

—From Chronicles of a Forgotten War, author unknown

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