THE SHORTER THE STRIDE...
The shadow of war threatens to escape from the gloom of the Desolate Waste. The Uruk-hai are emerging from their breeding pits stronger and hungrier than the elders remember. The cursed ones are relentless and unyielding in their desire to spread their faith of bloody destruction. They worship a dark Blood God who only demands that they die far from home, tasting the blood of their enemies. The dark, wild lands are expanding step by bloody step as goblins and orcs driven by their hunger march out into the human held territories. They leave only gnawed, splintered bones and dying screams echoing in their wind wherever they tread.
Above in their high mountain strongholds the Khuzdul are stirring; the dwarves are organizing their forces and raising a new army in response to the growing threat. The Winterborn will soon march into the lowlands bringing fire and sharpened iron. No one will dare to impede them on the Iron Road of War. Neither orc nor human can stand before the assembled Winterborn host; everyone will be forced to flee or submit before their relentless march.
Joining them youth named Barinur has left the dim, comfortable halls underneath Red Glass Mountain and enlisted in the Winterborn army. He has joined the forces under the sun and moon and now stumbles with the other raw recruits trying to match their step. The mild iron in his heart will soon be reforged into hardened battle steel by the furnace of relentless combat.
Nearby Red Glass Mountain, tucked away in a nearby valley and unseen by nearsighted dwarves three young wood gnomes strive to find a place in a land of giants. The unfairness of their small stature rankles; the world is so big and they are so small. Still the stubbornness of the young Elan and the Nut brothers, do not match their slight statures. Together the boys compete in the Illuminous Academy, competing against the most talented sons and daughters of the underground aristocracy. Their struggle for acceptance has become a test to see if wood and stone and find a way to meld their strengths and face the threatened onslaught together. Or failing that challenge the two people will be slaughtered separately and alone by the approaching darkness.