The battle had been a fierce one. For three miles in every direction, the ground was covered with the dead and the dying. The young soldier could feel life slipping away from him. He cried out, gasping a final prayer. "Five gods… Please… help me…"
Wind blew over the battlefield. It sounded like someone whispering to him. Maybe it was real, maybe it was just delirium. The soldier clung to it either way, fighting to stay alive. "Perhaps…. why…."
The soldier coughed, spitting blood. "The army of Dalres… they have three days on the Defenders… heading… for Ethalan. My wife, my brother. No one… to defend them…"
The wind grew stronger, blowing grass, ash, and smoke into the air. It spun around, and seemed to form the outline of two people. A young man, a soldier, with blond hair and eyes of gold, and a red-haired girl with eyes of jade. The man spoke. "You wish to defend your home? That is why you fight so hard?"
The soldier nodded, too weak to speak. The girl knelt down next to him. "You wish to protect your family? That is why you refuse to let our brother take charge of your soul?" He nodded again. A mist was rising over the battlefield, but he paid it no mind.
The woman gently touched his forehead, and the man bent down and touched his sword hand. Green and gold flared briefly, and he felt his strength return. He stood up, and noticed that others had appeared out of the mist nearby, all with marks on their foreheads and hands.
The man spoke. "Go, then. Defend your home." The girl nodded in agreement. "Protect your family. When they are safe, you can rest until your people need you again."
Battles are bloody, frightening affairs, and there are few men as desperate as dying soldiers. Many of them call out to their respective gods, begging to be delivered from death. Usually this is their final act, for the gods seldom answer these pleas. Sometimes, however, the gods do answer.
The Company of Stars is a phantom company of soldiers who fell in battle. But they refused to let it be that easy. Their desire to protect their friends, family, homeland, or other things equally precious was so strong that the gods themselves took notice.
Desha, the goddess of protection, and Mynis, the soldier’s god, gave these soldiers the ability to march to the defense of what they held dear. The company persists until the current danger is past, then they fade back into the mist that brought them.
It is a widely held belief among the Ethalani that the Company comes with the mist, and mist rising over the battlefield is always seen as a good omen, a sign that the Company is with them.
Soldiers of the Company of Stars are not seen often, but they are remembered when they are. They are seen as ghostly soldiers in a variety of uniforms with a variety of weapons from different eras of warfare. They have a very washed out appearance, except for a green star-shaped gem on their foreheads and a gold key-shaped mark on their weapon hand.
They are always accompanied by a thick mist, which only makes them harder to see. This, coupled with their immaterial nature, gives them a profound psychological impact on enemy soldiers.
The Company is mostly comprised infantry, although there are some archers, and a few calvary, which ride spectral mounts that seem to be made of the mist. Really, the mix of the Company is determined by which soldiers had the strength of will to call the gods to them as they died. The Captain of the Company was a calvary officer; he rides the ghostly shade of his own horse, which was killed by the same blow that felled him.
The Company of Stars is said to ride only when they are needed, or when people close to those who became the Company are in danger. If the need is dire enough, and if the protection of the Five Gods of the Deneschal faith is invoked, the Company will arise. No one knows for sure, but it is generally thought that members of the Company are sent to the After to rest until they are needed again.