The Second Great War and other stories
Lady Evelyn Snow, the Wight, and the Seven Dwarves
One question always bothers those who skim the history of the Great War – if humans betrayed their elven allies and caused the Twin Cities to fall, why then do the elves have anything at all to do with humans today?
Then they run across the tale of Evelyn Snow.
In the days before the Great War, the Twin Cities were even more twinlike than they are now. Before the betrayal, there were no walls protecting the eastern city from the west. Tulak Azuri took this into account when he bargained with the human leaders. What he did not take into account was the reaction of one Lady Evelyn Snow.
Lady Snow was an aristocrat of the most snobbishly patrician variety. She grew up sheltered, the only child of Lord Jothram Snow. She was never allowed to wander, to learn what the common people were like except for specific highly structured interactions, or even to learn how to defend herself. The only thing she was good at was the fine art of diplomacy. As a tribute to her skills, she had long previously managed to secure the services of seven powerful dwarven defenders for her own personal guardsmen, and had secured a special dispensation for Alvorn Rothlen, a human-mage-turned-wight, to remain in her employ inside the city.
Sometimes, events have a way of changing people. Evelyn Snow was at the meeting, when the lords and ladies of the Western City pledged their allegiance to Tulak Azuri.
She refused. She refused despite knowing that the combined personal guards of all the other nobles would immediately move for her blood to keep the Eastern City from knowing what was about to happen. And she refused in the most spectacular manner imaginable. She stood up, in the middle of the conclave, and shouted, “I will not be a party to this! I would rather die!”
Then she drew her own stiletto and stabbed herself in the chest.
Her protest appeared to have no effect. Not one of the other nobles was moved to oppose the surrender. But that was never her intention. Her guardsmen were allowed to remove her body without incident and prepare it for burial. A few minutes after reaching her estate, Evelyn Snow revived, the poison having exited her system.
It was very lucky that she had intended to stab herself in the ribs below her breast, because she came within half an inch of cutting her own heart, such was her ineptitude with a blade.
Lady Snow had known from the moment the talk of surrender began that she would be nearly alone in opposing it. She also knew what she had to do next. She took her eight guardsmen to the Eastern City and called an emergency council.
Thus it was that the Eastern City had almost three hours to redeploy their defenders from the outer walls and construct a makeshift barricade before Tulak Azuri’s army arrived on the Grand Bridge. Yet, as indescribably helpful as this was, it was not nearly long enough. The barricades were still going up when the first hobgoblin crested the top of the Bridge.
Evelyn Snow, the wight, and the seven dwarves were there to meet him.
The battle atop the bridge raged for two full days. The dwarves beat back asdault after assault, while the wight countered spell after spell that would have decimated the dwarves, or opened a path to the defenses the Eastern City people were frantically building. And Evelyn Snow rushed back and forth, exhorting her comrades to superhuman efforts and using her vast wealth to supply them with healing potion after healing potion from a small bag she would occasionally yell into.
Despite her best efforts, Snow’s dwarves slowly died, one by one. Somewhere in the chaos, an unlucky arrow snuffed out the wight’s life.
Finally, at the end of those two days, Evelyn Snow stood alone on the Grand Bridge, against the full might of Tulak Azuri’s army. Behind her, the defenders had managed to put together a defense which, ultimately, would prove too costly for even Tulak Azuri’s army to breach. But three full companies of archers were watching her, waiting for her to turn her back and make a run for those defenses so they could cut her down like an animal.
Instead, she charged.
Evelyn Snow fought like a possessed woman with nothing left to lose. It took the combined might of Tulak Azuri’s army three full minutes to bring her down.
Her brutal and merciless execution at the foot of the wall she had helped build was almost an afterthought. Far from demoralizing the Easterners, her death only strengthened their resolve – their resolve to acquit themselves at least fractionally as well as Lady Evelyn Snow.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Lady Evelyn Snow, her wight, and her seven dwarves saved human-elven relations from the refuse pile where her human contemporaries had contemptuously flung it.