In the season following Keshu the Black Fin's return from the ruins of the Old Ones (as she referred to the so-called advanced Saxhleel who lived in the distant past), we were extremely busy, breathing life into Keshu's hopes and desires. In addition to learning some small amount about the way the Old Ones lived, Keshu's time of contemplation among the ruins saw the development of new ways of thinking for our leader and life-long friend. She came back to us with a dream.
Some will tell you that from the moment she returned from the ruins, Keshu wanted to bring about the resurrection of the advanced Saxhleel society. Now, while she was definitely interested in learning more about that ancient time, her initial dream was much simpler. She wanted to defend the Saxhleel from the threat of outsiders. When Xocin was captured by the Dark Elf slavers, I think it affected Keshu on a profound level. And when she freed Xocin and the other Saxhleel captives, I think her destiny was set in motion.
Keshu decided to create an army. She called for volunteers from across the greater marsh, and a surprising number answered that call. The village elders, tree-minders, and Sap-Speaker|sap-speakers were of mixed minds about her actions, but in the end they decided to sit back and let The Hist sort it out. As with all things in Saxhleel life, if Keshu succeeded then her plans were meant to come to fruition. And if she failed? Then she would disappear into the swamp and never be heard from again. That was the way things happened in Black Marsh. But whatever Keshu's ultimate fate was to be, in the beginning she was unstoppable.
The initial band—informally known as the Black Fin's Legion—was more than two dozen strong. Keshu and Vos-Huruk at first served as instructors and trainers for the small gathering of warriors, but soon other notable fighters had rallied to her banner, including the battle mage known as Fire-From-Nowhere and the Saxhleel freedom fighter called Elf-Slayer. They provided expertise and helped with the training to reduce the burden on our beloved leader. When Keshu determined that we were at last ready to be tested, she decided on a target and pointed her newly honed weapon at it. We were going to attack a House Dres slave caravan and set the captives free.
We planned and trained for weeks, preparing for every contingency Keshu and her most-trusted advisors could think of. We scouted the House Dres enclave. We reconnoitered the most probable paths from Stormhold toward Morrowind. We watched. We waited. And then we made our move.
The House Dres slave caravan departed from Stormhold on a rainy morning with little fanfare. A line of Saxhleel slaves consisting of more than fifty of our egg-brothers and egg-sisters were chained together and forced to march between two massive wagons, each pulled by a team of guar. House Dres guards rode atop the wagons, marched on each side of the line of slaves, and ranged around the caravan atop horses and other riding beasts. In all, there were about thirty Dark Elf warriors guarding the caravan. For this exercise, Keshu led a force of twenty-six Black Fin Legionnaires to liberate the slaves.
Our warriors were nervous. For the majority of them, this would be their first real battle, and though they were well trained and committed to Keshu's cause, they still suffered from the usual fears associated with entering a life-or-death situation. Keshu and her officers remained visible, displaying confidence and determination that went a long way toward calming our troops. We set up to ambush the caravan as it made its way through a narrow passage a few hundred strides from the border of Morrowind. Keshu gave the signal as she rushed forward to meet the enemy. We followed, spilling from our hiding places like wood ants emerging from a rotten log. If we were still nervous, it didn't show as we fell upon the Dark Elves like waves crashing into the shore.
Keshu's strategy worked perfectly. When the battle was over, the Dark Elf guards were either dead or had surrendered, and though we had suffered a few minor wounds, none of the Black Fin Legion had fallen. The mission went off flawlessly and Keshu's reputation grew with every Saxhleel captive we set free.