Celondosse twisted on instinct as a cultist launched an attack from behind.  The half elf stepped to the side, his sword separating the man’s head from his body in a single stroke.  Surveying the carnage he crouched, wiping the blood from his sword on the dead man’s ragged coat.  This man had been the last of the chaos scum and all around he could see that that surviving villagers were rushing to douse the flames that threatened their homes.  He could see that many of the houses would need to be rebuilt, the damage already done.  Corpses littered the ground… women, children, men who had died defending their homes and of course the chaos sworn.  A few of the cultists had hideous mutations, but like the man at his feet, most look liked ordinary folk, the only distinguishing feature being a hidden chaos symbol branded on their bodies.

This had been the fifth village in a week to be attacked near the city of Kafkerfel, two of them completely destroyed.  Fear was growing in the countryside and already there had been reports of people fleeing to the city for the safety of its walls.

Celondosse shook his head at this thought… The chaos sworn would herd the common folk into a single place to better slaughter then.  The city walls would provide no protection either, too many of the cultists had been members of these communities and he was sure they would have infiltrated the city as well.

Rumour had it that this was not the only part of the Empire in turmoil.  Tales were spreading across the land of a new Chaos Incursion.  Worst of all were rumours of the forces being led by a Herald of Hathagg Kai.  If this were true then the small folk, did indeed have reason to fear…

The last major incursion had happened several hundred years ago, before Celondosse’s time and well before he had raised the Banner of the Griffon.  The last time, his noble house, the House of Ellen Galad, had played a significant role in pushing back the tide of chaos.  He remembered listening with excitement to the tales told by his Elven grandsire Tilanreial, of how he had fought and slain a Daemon of Kalroth.  To the young half-elf, that had seemed the height of heroics and the stuff of legends.  To the grown half-man, this seemed like a terrifying threat that may need to be faced again.

Tilanreial had faced the chaos sworn with a battalion of elven warriors, Celondosse would need to rely on the newly formed Guardians of the Dawn.  He had faith in the warriors who had flocked to the banner of the Griffon… people of all the races with drive and commitment to the cause. They had already demonstrated skill on the battlefield and a tenacity to do what was right, but they were untested against a threat of this magnitude.

All across Althea, chapter houses were springing up in major cities… warriors dedicated to truth justice and the protection of the innocent. Celondosse smiled as he considered the reputation the Guardians were building for thwarting the plans of corrupt officials and defending the common people against the forces of darkness.  How many lives had been saved already by his brothers and sisters?  This was good work, but only scratched the surface of the suffering and injustice inflicted on the peoples of Althea.

Earlier that day Celondosse had sent message by carrier hawk to all of the Chapter houses of the Guardians.  He had instructed them to stay alert and to ally with local authorities to strike against any chaos cults that made themselves known.  The Order of Tuetonic knights would stand against the tide, and while Celondosse did not entirely trust their often misguided fanaticism, he knew they would be important allies in the struggle ahead.

Deep down he feared the newly formed Guardians might not have the experience or numbers to face down a threat of the magnitude faced by Tilanreial.  Regardless, he knew they would face the threat.  The Guardians would be the shield against this storm of chaos, even if that shield was destined to break…