I am not sure if it would work, but if Kendal can commune with God's maybe it would be easier if he just heard voices in his sleep rather than being transported to some hard to describe special place.
Yeah I've thought about it some more too and realized that this particular thread in Kendal's narrative may not truly be that necessary - or can be altered into something more interesting, as you mentioned.
I am removing that scene from this chapter and not re-writing it. Right now the entire chapter is about at 75% completion.
Qenroth galloped out of the Deep Wood into the outskirts of the Qallin manor grounds. A miasma of snow kicked up from the stallion's hooves obscured Kendal's coming through the white veil. As mount and rider darted across the snow buried field, urgent shouts in an unfamiliar tongue pursued him out of the thinning woods.
He spurred Qenroth onward, reaching full tilt.
Kendal could find no elven raiders visible in plain sight. An arrow whistled overhead, carried off by the winter wind. Another arrow came mere inches shy of puncturing him beneath his ribs. Creeping shadows hidden in the woods flanked him with a constant hail of arrows, but the miasma of grounded snow kicked up from Qenroth's hooves distracted their aim.
Kendal and his mount cleared the low wall built on the perimeter of the outlying farmlands. Slender grey figures laid waste to the armed guards and farmhands standing their ground in the barren fields. Fires raged amid isolated sheds and animal barns scattered over the manor grounds. Herds of frightened horses scattered from the infernos into the thick of the Deep Woods.
Kendal readied his sword and slew one of the Lani guerilla fighters as the Raven Knight passed him by. His home finally began to manifest through the thick veil of snow. Half of Qallin Manor blazed against the dreary midday light. A thick smog billowed through the crumbling remains as the flames grew hungrier.
Qenroth galloped through the broken inner gate of the Manor and up the cobbled path towards the door. As Kendal got close to the house, he reined Qenroth to a halt and vaulted off his horse to challenge the six warriors blocking his route. As he ran through the blood-soaked slush of the path towards the warriors, he quickly sized them up. They all had grey skin and they all wore leather armor covered in the pelts of various animals.
The Lani gathered in opposition did not blockade the patio as he anticipated, but instead withdrew through the manor doors into the burning building. Kendal readied his blade and chased after them as they vanished behind the choking smog, one after the other.
Kendal approached the smoke belching entrance of the manor, recoiling from an intense heat emanated from the burning house. He lifted the sleeve of his quilted armor to shield himself from the acrid smoke warding him away.
He stopped himself from plunging headlong into the ruins, taking a moment to compose himself and regain some semblance of concentration. He readied his sword out in front of him and quietly entered the burning manor. What little sunlight that graced the world outside dwindled in the dim and smoke shrouded corridors of the Qallin estate.
Kendal came into the main hall that he had always known. Silently, he pressed through the scattered debris of ruined decorations, shattered chandeliers, and busted frames. Any memory of his childhood, he intentionally blocked out of his mind. He kept his sword poised to strike, his eyes peeled, and his ears listening for even the slightest disturbance.
Kendal approached the entrance of an inconspicuous room, sliding his back against the wall and slinking forward. His onyx gaze studied the shut door of the adjacent room across the hall. A sudden crackle of splintering wood followed by the collapse of a single piece of timber behind him seized his attention.
The Lani elf hidden on the other side of the wall burst through the open room, spear angled perfectly to stab Kendal through the throat. Kendal parried the strike swiftly even as another grey raider came charging from the adjacent room. He reacted swiftly, pulling himself away from his nearest assailant and deflecting a quick slash for his eyes from his other opponent.
Kendal distanced himself from either foe, weaving his sword in constant parrying motions against their offensive onslaught. Gradually forced back toward the main hall entrance, one of the elves suddenly overextended himself. Kendal disabused the raider of any notion of triumph. He answered his zealous foe with a brutal riposte, cleaving open the tribal elf’s chest underneath all the leather armor and furs that shielded him.
Screaming from the stinging pain, the elven bandit fell to his knees between Kendal and his spear-wielding comrade. The spear bandit did not hesitate, but gracefully weaved over his dying comrade’s back the moment he had sagged onto his hands.
Goaded by impatience, Kendal aggressively pushed into his foe’s guard. The dancing spear elf managed to weave around his first strikes without effort. The Tribal bandit followed fluidly into a thrust meant to ram straight through Kendal’s gut.
The young apprentice lashed his blade out in a blur of movement, severing the head of the spear quicker than either of them could track. Kendal followed hard on his opponent’s heels, the guerilla fighter scrambling back for distance. He blinked in the moment he lunged forward and loomed over the dancing spear warrior when he opened his eyes again.
His long sword became a blur in his hands, becoming such a hateful force that it parted through the grey elf’s neck without effort. Surprised by his own strength, Kendal cried out as the head flew off the bandit’s shoulders. The corpse staggered at first, then slumped against the wall till it smacked the floor with a loud thud.
A shriek of agony cut through the sound of burning wood and rampaging destruction toward the corridor's end. Kendal hurried through the corridor, his pace quickening with the hammering in his chest. As he began to sprint through the narrow stretch of hall, he heard the graceful clashing of swords echo amidst the burning fires.
A voice in an unfamiliar language called out as a female of the Lani warband ducked back into the hall. From her unprepared stance and utter look of horror as Kendal came bearing down on her, she had expected her two brethren instead of him.
Her hands immediately went for the sheathed daggers dangling from her hips. Kendal slammed an armored fist against her temple with enough force to lay her out on the floor. Disoriented, she still managed to scramble back from him on trembling limbs. The thought of the blood that stained her hands came across his mind for the briefest moment.
Kendal pushed the thought aside – it would be just to end the bandit there and then. Instead, as the elven female raised a dagger in her defense, Kendal rushed past her toward the source of clashing steel.
By the time Kendal had rushed through the rest of the main hall and turned the corner– a lull had descended upon the Grand Foyer.
Rynath Qallin stood with the proud bearing of a centuries old Ishalnan elf. Even amidst the cloying smoke, his pallid skin shimmered with sweat and reflected the dancing light of the flames. He was garbed in nothing more than a fine satin black robe pulled over his silken clothes. He wielded a slender sword in one hand and nothing in the other. Despite their superior numbers, a pair bandit elf lay dead at his feet.
The four remaining survivors had managed to surround him, one of them having slipped behind Rynath to hold Akine, his wife and Kendal's mother, by spear point.
Akine kept an air of poise and grace that outmatched even that of the desperate raiders that cornered her and his father. In her amber eyes, Kendal could find no fear. Her caramel skin was unblemished from burns or weapon cuts - the Lani had not bothered to lay a finger on her – not while Rynath defended her. A cloak of the winter shades was layered over a dress comprised of several thin robes of pallid silk.
His mother's composure seemed at odds with the brutal reality besetting the Qallin family - until she noticed Kendal out of the corner of her eye. She reached out with one hand toward him and made to shout a warning at him. It was an unreasonable action for the Lani holding her hostage. He retracted his spear arm for a thrust through Akine's torso in the moment that Rynath gracefully turned to strike the offender dead.
Both struck at once - their weapons a blur of steel that had no chance of countering the other. Akine staggered onto her knees, a spear head rammed through her gut. Her offender had perished from a cleaved skull before she could hit the base of the stairwell.
The remaining elves swept toward Rynath the moment he made to defend his family. Kendal mobilized and threw his sword overhead and straight through the throat of a foe who had finally noticed his silent entry. His two comrades hesitated in their charge briefly, taken unawares.
Rynath weaved between them with a grace and speed that even they lacked. His sword left its mark on their flesh in the form of fatal wounds as he passed them by. Before he had even come to a stop, his foes slumped onto the Grand Foyer's marble floor, dying rapidly.
His father did not even pause to take a breath or process what had happened. He followed into the exit of his combat stance with a sharp turn, rushing to Akine's side. Kendal searched the foyer for anymore enemies and determined that no one else would be mad enough to enter this blazing house of ruin.
He reclaimed his sword and joined his father by the stairwell.
Rynath cradled Akine in his arms and propped her up even as she whispered her final words in his ears. Kendal knelt to better hear her, but all that he had gleaned from their brief conversation was the comforting look his mother gave him a final time. Kendal made to open his mouth in the same moment her strength fled.
She had perished before he could say anything.
Rynath looked to Kendal with that stoic gaze he always had about him. He wondered if anything could ever break that stony visage of his.
His father spoke hurriedly. 'Come, Kendal. This manor will collapse over us at any given moment.'
Kendal attempted to process everything that had just happened and failed. 'Wait a moment...'
His father cut through the fog of grief plaguing his son's mind. 'Kendal, there's no time. We cannot avenge Akine if neither of us escape from this place. I've lost your mother, but our time is waning, and I refuse to let you perish due to your distracted thoughts. Ready your sword, there shall be a fight when we make our escape. Is Qenroth with you?'
Kendal blew out a heated breath but repressed his desire to protest Rynath's disconnected demeanor. He wanted to say so many things in that moment but knew that his father was ultimately right. There was no time for anything but escaping their farmstead and the Mist Hollow with their lives.'
Kendal shook his head, his mind clearing. 'When I arrived here, there were scores in the field. They were murdering everyone.'
Rynath sighed. 'I asked if Qenroth was with you, not about the odds.'
Kendal shot him an irritable look. 'Of course, no other steed could arrive here so fast.'
Rynath smiled faintly, about as pleased an expression as anyone was likely to get out of him. 'A faithful steed unto the end. Good, we should find our friend before these barbarians put him in the frozen earth.' He searched Kendal's eyes for weakness and grunted in surprise. 'You've changed. Never have I noticed such steel in your eyes... or so much darkness. Perhaps your mentor has taught you something about life after all.'
Kendal frowned, his impatience growing. 'Are we going or not?'
Rynath's gaze did not waver. 'That depends... are you ready? Blood shall be spilled, and I am determined it will not be any more of ours.'
Kendal returned his father's expectant gaze and nodded. 'I know some years have passed... I'll show you that Hanneth carries some steel of her own and that her faithful can put it to good use.'
Rynath's smirk became a neutral mask, but he nodded. 'We shall see. I am expecting to be impressed. The killing does not cease until we've left this place behind us.'
Kendal inclined his head in agreement.
Kendal bolted after his father, who bounded forth with an effortless speed. They rushed through the entrance of the Grand Foyer and out into the burning winter landscape of a battlefield covered in blood and snow. The Lani slaughtering in the outlying fields were not where Kendal had left them upon his arrival. Scattered still, the grey elves were naturally congregating toward the main attraction - Kendal's half-collapsed homestead.
Nearly anyone who had survived the carnage thus far were being trapped and killed off, one after the other. Those of the raiders who had nothing left to kill for sport, had gathered outside the Grand Foyer, some feet away from the base of the entrance stairs. Kendal counted about a dozen warriors dressed in battered leathers and sporting vicious scars across their bodies. By the way they readied their weapons in a collective manner, they had been expecting someone to come fleeing into them.
Kendal cursed, shaking his head. 'This is suicide.'
Rynath nodded in agreement, he cast a knowing look at his son. 'Should we have no choice, then we'll die with dignity.'
Kendal swept his gaze across the fields as the last remaining innocents who protected the Qallin manor were put to the sword. As more bands of Lani began to congregate to their location, only then did their numbers become apparent. He took in the sight of a few hundred of the druidic elves amassing before him and his father.
Kendal glanced toward his father. 'Why are there so many gathered here? This farmstead is no different than anywhere else. It's almost as if they made coming here a priority.'
Rynath made to answer his question but was interrupted by a face familiar to Kendal.
The Lioness he had encountered at the ambushed caravan pushed her way to the fore of the crowd. She spoke fluently in Halish.
She looked to Rynath. 'Go ahead. Lay your weapons down. It should be an obvious sight that you stand no chance of beating our numbers.'
Rynath shook his head. 'You've spared no one else. You do not even know me. Why ask us to lay down our arms after butchering this manor here so treacherously?'
The Lioness smiled in that sly, playful way that she had. 'I know your son well enough by now. The dance of our blades is a memory made to last into the years. He is a handsome man. He would do well as my slave. To warm my bed while I'm away and warm it hotter still when I return.'
Grim laughter rippled through the warband's dense formation.
Rynath sighed. 'Over my corpse, would you take him. Let us not mince words. Your head or mine - claimed in personal combat.'
The Lioness' smile withered. 'I've no need to prove myself to a dead father. I've killed enough of those already.' She announced. 'But I am being remiss. You should at least know my name. I am Ishali Winterwood of the Black Wolves. Remember that and speak it to the gods your soul is promised to.’
Ishali considered them both and waved in dismissal. 'Lay down your arms and you both survive. Or fight and you'll die - at least one of you.' She smiled at Kendal with lustful eyes. 'Either way makes no difference, but it's my last generous offer. The next one shall be far more taxing on your bodily health, old elf.'
Kendal interrupted Rynath with a quick rebuke. 'Do your worst but know that you'll be broken on the rack in time. The Kingdom of Hallorn will seek retribution and far sooner than you realize.'
Ishali shrugged. 'They are welcome to come into these woods and find nothing to mark our passing. By the time we've departed, nothing of our presence shall remain here. There is little point in playing hard to get. You'll regret your defiance momentarily when I have your father hacked apart before your eyes.'
Ishali sighed, then gestured with a cock of her head. 'Kill him. Leave his son alive.'
A horn sounded out of the dreary mist and snow in the moment that Kendal and his father readied their swords together. A sonorous blast that struck surprise and fear in the hearts of the Black Wolves. Urgent shouts rippled through the ranks and Ishali's orders were lost as the Lani reorganized into some semblance of formation.
A deafening barrage of war cries swept out of the Mist Hollow, betraying the ranks of the Raven Vale Knights before they charged out of the Deep Wood's gloom and into the white fields on the manor's outskirts. The thunder of one hundred barded horses bred for war quaked the earth beneath Kendal's feet even from this distance. To him, they seemed like a thick tide of the night sweeping through the veil of heavy snow. Only the gleam of their billowing banners and steel in the wane sunlight betrayed anything more of the mounts and their riders.
Rynath looked to Ishali, who continued to watch Kendal and him with the eyes of a hawk even as her ranks scrambled to meet the charge. She shrugged once out of resignation, muttered a few words to her nearby retinue - then swiftly made for the nearest of the Lani's commandeered horses. She promptly fled from the ensuing battle before it had begun.
Rynath looked to Kendal and grinned even as Ishali's subordinates began to close in around them. 'Tell your mentor he has my praise. He is sharper than his brief years show.' He pointed toward the sight of Vindiaccos leading the fore of the Raven Vale's charge.
A flame of pride fanned in Kendal's chest as his brethren crashed into the Lani with crushing force. Scores of Black Wolves simply vanished beneath the hooves of their fearless steeds, trampled into the crimson earth, and adding to its dark hue.
Lani spears flashed through the veil of snow as the cavalry came on. Several knights were unseated by well-timed thrust or their mounts forced to a screeching halt, their riders trapped beneath a flurry of spears and impaled onto death. Unerring arrow fire from the Black Wolf Sentinels brought low several more, but the Raven Knights had slain so many on the end of their lances that the Lani formation simply broke apart even as the cavalry began to scatter amidst the melee.
The Qallin farmstead echoed to the sounds of a collapsing manor and of open war, the struggle degenerating into a brutal battle for survival.
Rynath seized Kendal's attention with a flick of his wrist. A severed head toppled off the shoulders of a Lani who had closed in for the kill.
Gleaming sword in hand, Kendal joined the battle alongside his father. Afternoon began to fade into hues of the evening dusk by the time the skirmish waned, and peace began to descend on the ravaged lands of the Mist Hollow…