Half a dozen heavily built, bearded men stood around a faded map in the centre of a small, wooden keep which made the heart of the village. Around them, both inside and out waited one hundred-odd men waiting for their orders, Robert was one of these men. He had his eye over the shoulder of their leader, Aethalstan. The map they were looking at was a map of England and the surrounding area, or rather, the separate territories that made up England. In the north, Scotland, lived mostly men, though the mountainous regions gave home to Trolls, Dwarves and many more unsavoury creatures. Below that stood the warring land of the Elves, Orcs and Humans, which pretty much made up the rest of the country in it's every changing states of power. Their leader spoke first in his commanding voice, ''Here,'' he pointed to the middle of England, ''is where the last battle between men was, we can't expect help from the Scots they are more likely to betray us than the Elves, and the Irish barbarians are too busy feuding with themselves or being raided.'' There were nods of agreement throughout the keep. ''What are we to do?'' one of the other men spoke as he fondled his beard, ''We have pushed the Elves back for now, but to where we do not know, neither when they will return, be sure they will, though.'' Silence fell throughout the keep. Robert had sworn loyalty to Aethalstan, who had forged a kingdom in the west of England through assimilating or exterminating rival tribes many years ago. Now his conquered land had came under threat from Elves, who had invaded from the south-east. No-one knew were the Elves came from like they did with the Orcs, or other men. As it was near impossible to sneak spies into their strongholds, and as for their towns, some said they built their towns deep within only the darkest forests, places where the eyes of men would lose vision. Robert didn't believe these stories, nevertheless the lack of information they had kept them in a constant state of attack-and-retreat. When an army of Elves would pour into their lands, all they could do was muster the army and hope to repel them, which they had done, but remnants of the enemy still remained in their territory and Aethalstan hoped to route them out. ''Robert'' Aethalstan called ''Come, I have a task for you and your men.'' Robert obeyed his liege and walked to his side. ''You, and your men'' He began to indicate on the map. ''Will ride out at once, you will hunt down the rest of these Elven scum and I will bring my army back to the capital, understood?'' ''Yes sir'' Robert replied as he turned and left the building, followed by those of his men who were in there too. The sun had begun to set, this left the village in a state of glum darkness as Robert followed the dirt path which led to the stables, his twenty men behind him. Another man waited in the stables already, his closest friend, Cenric. ''Robert!'' He called, ''How can he send us on this task?!'' his voice grew louder by the second as Robert saddled his horse. ''Twenty men? Against even numbers the odds are still out of our favour, look at our equipment.'' It was true, the army had been on the march for weeks, the men were tired and the equipment was weak. ''We will be killed Robert! You, me, and the rest of the men too, slaughtered, will you have it? I will n-'' Robert spun around and grabbed his older friend by the scruff of his neck, pushing him up against the pillar his horse was tied too. ''What will you have me do?'' He whispered in a rage ''Disobey my orders? We will die then too.'' Cenric looked down to the ground as Robert let go of him and hoisted himself onto his horse, ''We will go and hunt the Elves down, and we will not die.'' He called as he pushed his horse into a trot. His men followed him out of the stables, they were a special unit under his direction, they were firstly trained as cavalry men, but were also trained in melee combat with the use of spears, pikes and the longsword. Each of them carried either a pike or a spear, and either a long or shortsword for if they were dismounted or in a tight situation. As they rode out of town he led his men in the direction of Durham, a large town on the outskirts of Aethalstan's land, over the rolling hills to the east, the last town the Elves had sacked.