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Book Four Pt 1 - The Eastern Pass

Written by - Ardwen Page 8 Book 4

The only part of Ardwen that moved when he saw Ariana was his eyes. The Elf’s pupils swiveled to regard his Abbess, but the rest of him stood as motionless as if shaped from stone. He could see how the robe hung limply on her thin frame. The warrior’s eyes narrowed into a hard glare. It was painfully obvious that Ariana needed far more attention and healing before she would be whole again. Yet, it also felt to Ardwen as if they were languishing on this spit of land, the other Hands were feasting and indulging themselves with seemingly unabashed revelry.

Ardwen looked over his shoulder at the deeper forest beyond the edge of the grove, behind where he stood and Ariana sat. The Elf gave a dismissive humph before fixing his gaze forward again. Where had those times gone when each of the Hands - to a man - would have endured any pain, suffered any wound, and even sacrificed their life for their Abbess? But instead of immediately getting Ariana to safety they catered to their own hunger and vanity. Here they languished in the very backyard of their enemy who only the other day had tried to offer Ariana as a sacrifice for power. They were still too close, too exposed, and to think themselves safe was simply foolish.

The Elven bladeweaver decided to wait for a little longer, and if his compatriots did not enact a plan to do what had to be done, then he would. Ardwen, however, would not ask kindly to be transported off the island whenever convenient. No, he decided he would demand, and the cost of refusal would be high.

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen

Kiradia walked calmly down the charred and blackened streets of Smarsh. Her hair whipping behind her in the hot winds that blew through the burned city. The charred remains of hundreds of men, women, and even a few children littered the streets. Her spell had been devastating to the city and the people.

Arrayed in a half circle around her was a squadron of hand picked minotaurs. Each of them standing 8 to 9 feet tall, rippling muscles and hard plate covering their bodies. Weapons of all shapes and sizes held in their massive fists. Their eyes were watchful as they moved forward slowly. The street was empty except for them. Not even her own soldiers, who were taking control of the town right now, had reached this road yet. This road lead straight to the inner keep of the city.

Kiradia's serenity was broken by the sound of wood snapping under foot as the entire area was suddenly engulfed in the ferocity of battle. Kiradia had expected the last defenders of Smarsh to attempt to hold onto what they had left or maybe attempt to delay her from taking the city completely. It did not matter what they tried to do, Kiradia had only one objective. She would capture the King of Smarsh at any cost.

A dark light radiated from her eyes, a death head smile on her lips as she walked forward heedlessly. Her arms twitched randomly at her sides, each twitch saw a blast of fire shoot out randomly around her. Each time a fireball hit it's target, the man had only a second to scream out his pain before he was immolated in a white flash. Kiradia's soldiers were not spared her wrath either, a number of minotaurs found themselves missing limps or chunks of their body from her fireballs, but thanks to their larger frames it did not mean an immediate death. All the while, Kiradia laughed and laughed and laughed... high and shrill, and men died all around her as the Minotaurs cut a path through the soldiers of Smarsh.

****

As Kiradia came upon the gates of the keep, she saw the doors opened wide as if inviting her forward. Standing there waiting for her was the King of Smarsh, sword and kite shield in hand. Full plate armor encasing his body. Kiradia came to within a few paces of the man, laughing and smirking. “King of Smarsh.... why do you not flee with your people?”

Written by - Ardwen

"Make sure the guides in charge of each encampment leave behind everything that can be spared, you must travel light and remember that the future of Smarsh rests in her people - not in the edifices or trinkets we leave behind." King Gongrane was moving swiftly through an ancillary corridor in his keep. The area was a normally an example of the ordered chaos the military thrived off of, with soldiers and equipment moving through its passageways at all hours. Today, however, it was eerily silent, and the few fleeting figures Gongrane could see were all running with ungraceful haste - men, women, and children all hurrying to evacuate the city before it was too late.

Gongrane had detained only one aide to impart his final instructions to, and even as he spoke he pressed a scroll in the aide's hand. The scroll was encased in a leather tube and bore the royal imprint of the Kingdom of Smarsh. "My lord?" The aide questioned, and Gongrane could see him avert his gaze.

"Our last instructions and wishes for our people, as well as our signet ring. One day, if the gods will it, Smarsh may be reborn, but now--" The King of Smarsh trailed off slightly and his assistance interrupted.

"My king, you must not! I beg you, please go with your people, they will - we will need a guide, the only guide, the rightful king of Smarsh, to lead us through the days ahead." As soon as he had finished speaking Gongrane could see the assistant pale slightly. The king could not help but noting with bemused irony that even now the aide was aware he had violated royal protocol with such an informal address.

"No," Gongrane said softly, "no, you have no need of a king - especially not in the days to come. I have failed my people, failed Smarsh, and the world may burn for it. It is the least I can do to make amends for my failure by buying our people all the time I can. The enemy will not cast aside the opportunity to ensure the 'leader' of their foe is dead, however insane they appear to be."

"Your highness--" The aide started, but this time Gongrane was the one to interrupt.

"No, no more of that Chonatas. I will face my death as a soldier of Smarsh, and in that death I will bear my wounds on the front with honor. I have but one more request for you Chonatas, one last charge - take my letter to my people, present it to the commander of the Elven Citadel. The ring is to remain with the people of Smarsh as a sign of unbroken lineage to the next king, should heaven ordain it so. But first, help me don my armor."

Chonatas did as he was bid. As Gongrane suited himself for combat for the first time in many years he could see glittering tears on the young aide's cheeks. The doors to the keep were swung open, and with a final salute Chonatas bid his king farewell. The King of Smarsh marked that Chonatas had wanted to say something, but grief had overcome the young soldier before he could find words, and he left by simply turning around and running.

Gongrane was alone now.

Out in front of the king a visage from one of the hells promised to the wicked greeted him. Fire and violence had scarred the once pristine and ordered streets of Smarsh, the air was thick with ash and cloying smoke, and the smell of charcoal mingled with the odor of burning flesh. All of this, however, paled in comparison to the figure that stood before him. Gongrane was not sure what to expect of the leader of the enemy forces. Certainly, he recalled the scant reports his scouts had managed to send, but none of them prepared him for what he now saw.

In many respects, she appeared almost ordinary, almost recognizable. She was, or at least at one time was, human with distinct Elven ancestry. Her slightly pointed ears and all but haunting features gave that part of her heritage away. However, the exposed parts of her skin were covered in bewildering tattoos, the swirls and loops seemed to snake with no discernable pattern. Her hair whipped around her face, black with streaks of fiery red.

The being before Gongrane spoke, and as she did Gongrane tightened his grip on his sword. "King of Smarsh . . ." she taunted, "why do you not flee with your people?”

Gongrane had to relax his jaw before he could reply, he had reflexively clenched his jaw when the lady was speaking, "This land is my peoples' land, and the land of their fathers before them, and their fathers before them. It is my charge, my divine duty, to ensure that they live to reclaim it. Do with me what you will, witch, but you must hear my words . . ."

Gongrane paused before sucking in a breath of air and conveying his next words with all the kingly dignity he had learned from years on the throne, "There shall come a reckoning for you. Perhaps not here, perhaps not now, perhaps not until long after we are all naught but dust and ash. But all things under heaven move as they are appointed, and to each of those things there is a time, your tyranny will not endure." Gongrane flipped the helm of his visor down, and his vision narrowed slightly as the metal protector slid over his face, "Come," he said as he limbered his sword and shield arms, "we both know this parley is a mockery."

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen

Kiradia looked over the man in front of her, strongly built and handsome after a fashion. Full armor, sword, and shield, ready for battle with another warrior, but not a mage of her power. With a hand gesture the minotaurs who were guarding her stepped to the side. Giving a free path for Kiradia and King Gongrane to fight.

With a burning flash that seared the eyes of all around, a spear of fire formed in Kiradia's hand, at the tip floated a solid core of smoldering brimstone. Kiradia's eyes took on a whole new level of insanity as she slid her arm back into place, flexing the toned muscles of her arm as she prepared to throw the spear. In truth she did not need to do so, she could easily propel the spear through force of will alone. However, the earlier spell she used to bring down the city of Smarsh had taken much out of her and she did not wish to overtax her body. Insane... not stupid.

With the tip of the spear pointed directly at King Gongrane's heart, Kiradia smirked as she looked at him with eyes of burning fire.

“You are correct King of Smarsh, one day my tyranny will end... However,” and with a crack of thunder, Kiradia threw the spear of fire with all the force her arm could produce. The spear flew at impossibly fast speeds, straight towards the King. Kiradia was already preparing another spell, not waiting for the King to react...

Written by - Ardwen

The tongue of flame sped through the air so swiftly as to appear a red bar that went from the hands of the sorceress to the king. By the grace of fortune, Gongrane had positioned his shield correctly and the spear of fire struck the embossed metal. Sparks shot when the spear collided with his shield, and Gongrane could feel the heat from the spell as it spent itself against the protective metal. The force of the spell made the King of Smarsh stumble backwards a few steps before he could regain his balance and see the insane woman was already preparing another spell.

Gongrane knew he had to close the distance between him and his foe, his only hope was in getting into melee combat where he could bring his arms to bear. The king had no clue what spell the vile witch was preparing, but it did not matter to him in the slightest, his course was singular and already set. With a roar of defiance Gongrane hoisted his shield in front of him, leveling it so that the top rested just beneath his eyes. His other arm gripped his sword and raised it high, and with another shout of resistance the king ran towards his foe as fast as he could – trying to eat the distance between them before she could loose another spell.

Written by - Ariana

When Mavigan did not receive any response from Teran regarding the nature of the pipes, she shrugged and began to follow them herself, Keeryn following close behind. The crystalline pipes continued all along the hallway. They did not remain in any fixed pattern, rather they branched off and were joined by other pipes that came from grooves cut in the walls and ceiling. The series of pipes intertwined and multiplied, forming sharp angles and intricate grids along the walls. All of the pipes were full of the same sanguineous fluid, and all writhed with trapped souls that stirred beneath the charnel surface of the fluid if one looked for too long.

The tunnel ended abruptly in a large oval room, and Mavigan pressed herself close to the chamber wall in order to survey her surroundings undetected. The network of pipes all led to this point, and they now ran into the floor emptying into open channels that churned sluggishly with blood. She could see that the blood-filled floor groves formed an arcane design, an eight pointed star circumscribed within a circle. Various side channels of blood made half-moons and bizarre loops and swirls that were so maddeningly complex they were almost painful to observe. Set at points around this arcane design were cultists, some shrouded in black cloaks, and other wearing black mail armor that caught and reflected the ambient light of the ritual chamber.

There were three concentric posts of cultists, the outermost having eight, the next one in composed of four, and finally the innermost was simply two flanking a raised dais in the center of the pentagram. However, it was upon this dais that the most impressive figure in the room stood. It was a man, or at least it appeared to be, dressed in the flowing robes of the cultists, but there were ornate and decorative designs covering his clothing. Ironically, despite their affluent appearance, the robes were tattered and frayed at the ends, giving the whole ensemble the appearance of a ragged cloak.

The man wearing the robes was tall, taller than even the largest cultists in the room. He did not wear the cowl of his uniform like some of his compatriots; rather his face and head were open for all to gaze upon. His head was shaved clean, and he had no visible facial hair. Two piercing eyes gazed at the room around him, and there was not one of the cultists in the chamber that dared meet his baleful visage. At the moment, the man's eyes were locked on another stairwell leading into the chamber on the opposite end of the room from the corridor that led to the blood piping.

From out of the shadows of the distant corridors more figures had emerged. One was a deeply tanned man with long black hair and storm-gray eyes, oddly enough he was obviously human yet wore a cloak of clearly Elven make. Next to the man was another figure, another human, but this one had long gray hair and brown eyes, and did not share as deep a complexion as his other companion. This man carried a rapier at his side and a bone flecked whip. There was another with the two humans as well, a third figure that stood behind them and looked like he would not be out of place with the other cultists in the room. As his form was blocked by his two companions it was difficult to see him, but as the light from the blood magic played across his hooded features one could catch the glimpses of a sharp, angular face, not ugly, but one pinched by malice and constant arrogance.

The pulse and thrum of the magic in the room caused Mavigan to shiver. She quietly unsheathed her daggers, but her shaking hands caused the tip of the blade to scrape against the stone wall behind where she and Keeryn were crouched. The metallic sound, though faint, appeared to Mavigan as loud as a thunderbolt, and it was enough to attract the attention of those in the room. She froze as several pairs of eyes, including the ones of the bald guy in the center turned towards her hiding place.

Written by - Ariana

As the sun slowly traced its arc across the sky, she became restless. Watching the Others doing this and that quickly became boring since none made any move towards her and Olly. Rising to her feet with a huff of irritation, she turned her back on the druidic grove and allowed her feet to carry her wherever they wished. Her self-appointed guardian took to the air and watched her closely with a wary eye.

Her feet inexorably drew her back to the large stone statue situated in the clearing surrounding the church. She did not know why her feet had decided to carry her back here, but there were no crowds hemming her in, and that made her happy. Bare feet danced happily in soft grass for several minutes, observed from on high by cautious golden eyes.

As she twirled happily in a circle around the statue, the symbol that had caught her attention before called to her once again, and she stopped in mid-twirl, the edges of her robe continuing its motion before coming to a stop with a quiet swish. Like a siren’s call it drew her, and she stretched out her fingers and gently traced the symbol, fingertips following the lines and curves round and round.

Beneath the pressure of her hands, the symbol began to glow and tiny arcs of light jumped from the symbol and into her caressing fingertips. The sudden influx of power startled her and she tried to pull away. The stone would not release her, and the arcs of light grew in size as she attempted to rip her hands free.

Panic welled up and spilled out of her mouth in a loud shriek as the power grew ever stronger and began to pull her inside the stone. In response, Olly himself gave a loud shriek and took flight in a flurry of wings.

By now, the entire statue glowed with a bright light, and one arm was sucked in up to the elbow. Desperate, she propped her feet against the stone in an attempt to gain leverage to pull herself out, but much like the legend of the Tar Baby, as soon as her feet hit stone, they too began to get pulled in.

Memories of portals and cold, dark spaces filled her mind, and terrified tears began to stream down her face. The more she struggled against the power, the faster it pulled her in, until finally, with one last heave the clearing where she had been standing was empty, though the air still crackled with vestiges of power.

Expecting to find herself once more encased in utter darkness, she was extremely confused when she was greeted not by the Void, but by a wall that seemed to surround a large stone building perched on a hill and gleaming faintly in the sun. But it wasn’t until she confronted by two men brandishing weapons in her direction that her legs finally failed her and she collapsed onto her knees, her entire body shivering in fear.

Written by - Wilhelm

Ethan and Gareth, members of the Queen's Guard, were taking their turn on guard duty patrolling the inside of the wall surrounding the Citadel Keep. While neither expected to see any foe get this far, both were aware that vigilance was called for with the preparations for the second campaign and that supernatural agents could indeed show up almost anywhere.

They came to a series of niches in the wall, each niche honoring a different Deity of Light, with a fountain and formal flower garden offering a convenient place to pause and quench their thirst. Both then bowed before the niche honoring the All Father and made the sign of the triskelion on their chest and saluted the triskelion engraved into the niche.

"Look at that." said Ethan, "The flower offering for the All Father has not been made this morning."

"Tsk, tsk." replied Gareth. "The acolytes must be too busy with the festival to tend to this duty."

"Can't have that. I'm sure the elves can spare some of these flowers then."

Ethan moved through the garden and plucked a bouquet of fresh flowers, taking care to spread the process out so as to not leave any visible effect of the gathering. Returning to the niche, he laid the offering at the foot of the niche, replacing the wilted bouquet left from the previous day. As he turned away, he saw Gareth start and point at the wall.

"Look at that! The triskelion is starting to glow. The All Father must be pleased."

Ethan joined Gareth and turned to see that the triskelion symbol engraved in the stone was indeed glowing. Soon the entire niche began to glow. Ethan and Gareth saluted the niche in respect and awe, then started in amazement as first a hand and then two feet emerged from the stone. This was followed by the emergence of the rest and it was clear that this was not the All Father, but a woman. They stepped back and drew their weapons, prepared to fight if this was a foe.

The woman finished emerging in an awkward manner, almost as if pulled out of the wall by some force, and stared dazedly around. Upon seeing the two guardsmen with their drawn weapons, she fell to her knees, her entire body shivering with fear.

"I don't think this is a foe, and she looks familiar. I'm sure I have seen her somewhere before." said Gareth. Sheathing his sword, he plucked a flower from a nearby bush. "She looks like she needs help. You better report to the Gate Captain and ask him to send a healer over here. I'll keep watch on her."

Ethan nodded and ran off towards the gate. Gareth bowed to the shivering woman, and held out the flower to her.

"I am Gareth, Lieutenant of Queen Mavigan's Guard. In the name of the All Father, welcome to the Citadel of Lothiel-Gadith. You are safe here, whatever you may have fled from in such an unusual manner."

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen’s brooding was interrupted as he watched Ariana walk off. The Elf’s first instinct was to follow his Abbess, but he batted aside the desire. He was not interested in volunteering himself as a caretaker, and furthermore Ardwen thought it prudent to finally rouse the other Hands to get their journey to the Citadel over with. The Elven warrior walked back to the tables of food and grabbed another apple, he took a single bite out of the fruit and looked around for his dilatory companions. It was then that he heard a scream in the distance, her scream.

Ardwen’s eyes narrowed in a fierce scowl and he hurled the apple in his hands, the fruit struck a nearby tree trunk and splattered. Were none of the other Hands watching the Abbess? Ardwen cursed the laxity and dereliction of duty of his companions, but even as he mentally raved he was running through the forest towards the sound of the panicked scream. Unsurprisingly the sound led him back to the statue of Ariana in front of the small church where the group had departed for the Druid Grove. Sure enough, there was Ariana, and also surely enough she was being dragged forcefully through some kind of portal opening in the stonework.

The bladeweaver had no time to make sense of anything, for in the blink of an eye his Abbess had been subsumed by the stone’s portal. Ardwen quickly decided that there was only one course of action: whatever had happened was intended to carry Ariana away, away from this place. If it was benign or not did not matter to the Elf, all that mattered was that he at least remembered his duty. That duty was to protect his Abbess, to repay the debt he owed. Without a moments hesitation Ardwen ran into the gateway that Ariana had disappeared into.

The first sensation was one of utter darkness, Ardwen thought his eyes were closed before he attempted to blink and realized that they were still open – there was simply no light to see by. This alone was a surprise given the superior nighttime vision of his race, but the utter absence of light was the least of the oddities. Ardwen felt as if he was moving through the earth, or rather that the earth was moving through him. It was like trying to cross a ford in a current, there was resistance but it was pliable. Inexplicably though, Ardwen had to exert no effort to travel, something or someone was guiding him to an unknown destination all on its own. The Elf thought he had a good idea who this external force was too, for in the back of his mind he could feel Him watching. A constant presence in the earth itself, a bemused presence, the Elf heard a slight chuckle, and then there was light and shape again.

The first thing Ardwen saw was a human proffering a flower to Ariana and extending his welcome to Lothiel-Godith. “Wise words.” Ardwen spoke, and the man jumped slightly in surprise. The Elven swordsman saw the man inch his hand towards his blade but Ardwen smirked and said, “Don’t bother, I’m an ally. I fought at the battle of Minas Uial, though I wore black armor at the time.”

The human’s eyes widened in surprise and he made a strange throaty gurgle before spitting out all at once, “That was you?”

Ardwen crossed his arms and held his head higher before saying nonchalantly, “Indeed.”

The human soldier quickly regained his composition though, and in a matter-of-fact tone said, “I’ve sent my patrol partner, Ethan, to inform the Gate Captain. He should be returning with a healer soon. Just in case you didn’t hear, I am Gareth, lieutenant of Queen Mavigan’s Guard.”

Ardwen chuckled cynically briefly before noticing the puzzled look on the human’s face. “My condolences.” The Elf said plainly. “Still,” Ardwen continued, “I actually feel grateful for the haste of your kind. After being stuck on that damn tiny island watching people feed their faces, it’s good to see a soldier with a sound head on his shoulders.”

The puzzled look on Gareth’s face only increased, but both the Elf and human saw two figures walking towards them, and both ceased their conversation.

Written by - Vylia

Vylia followed Ariana through the trees as she left the camp, trying to keep out of her sight so she wouldn't be disturbed by her presence. She followed Ariana all around the island, obviously having no destination in mind, before finally approaching the courtyard of the church where she had been blasted by Ariana's holy powers, and proved that Palandramil was still with her.

Vylia smiled as Ariana danced around the statue of herself, unconcerned for what transpired in the world outside where she was now. When she stopped and started to stare at the statue Vylia wondered if something was wrong, but calmed when she saw that Ariana was merely focusing on the Triskellion symbol on the base of the statue. She watched as the symbol began to glow under Ariana's fingers, almost expecting the All-Father or one of his Archons to manifest in front of them when Ariana suddenly started trying to pull away frantically.

As she went to run toward Ariana she heard a voice in her head, "Wait, it will be alright," and Vylia paused. She knew that voice, for Palandramil had spoken to her several times in the last few months, and so stayed where she was amongst the trees. Her heart ached as she saw the terrified expression on Ariana's face as she was sucked into the statue and was about to follow herself when she noticed Ardwen had come running into the clearing and ran straight into the statue behind the Abbess.

Vylia grimaced as he followed Ariana into the statue, but she wasted no time running headlong into the portal behind him. It was like trying to wade a fast moving river she was moving so slow. As she travelled she realized with Ardwen there it was going to be very unpleasant, no matter where they ended up. Just as she thought this she burst back into the light... and right into Ardwen's back. It was like running into a brick wall as Vylia stumbled back, rubbing her cheek where she had slammed into him, her face beet red in embarrassment. She was about to say something when she remembered her earlier words and clamped her mouth shut, her face turning to one of extreme annoyance before she noticed the two figures walking towards them.

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn was both amazed and disgusted at the constant flow of blood through the tubes, and the look of tormented souls flowing along with it brought back painful memories. The sight only got worse as they reached an oval room with the blood flowing in from every direction create a grotesque design upon the floor, it hurt her eyes whenever she tried focusing on any particular one.

Her eyelids narrowed at the number of men in the room and she sniffed the air, feeling and then smelling something very familiar. She scanned the room closely before focusing on the bald man in the middle, as she saw him her eyes went as wide as they could go, and she had to stifle a gasp. She knew this man, knew him and hated him beyond all others, but he was also the only person she had met that she truly feared. All of her instincts screamed at her to run.

Just as she was reaching for Mavigan's shoulder to pull her back there was a loud metal scraping sound on the wall beside them. Keeryn flinched at the noise before grasping Mavigan's shoulder and attempting to pull her back down the hall.

Written by - Teran

Teran stepped forward suddenly, shoving Mavigan back with his right arm as he quickly stepped past her into what could only be described as pure violence. Spells of every element converged on the spot Mavigan had been standing, most of them striking Teran who seemed to wither under the violent assault. The armor he had paid so much to have created suddenly proved it's worth and an assault that would have killed him outright simply slammed him into the wall and brought him to his knees. Though the magic had not harmed him directly, the blistering heat, freezing cold, and other nasty proximity effects of spells had run their course on him.

The more carelessly aimed spells slammed into the crystal walls of the cavern which caused the blood within the pipes to boil. A split second later the "pipes" exploded simultaniously filling the long passage with crystal shrapnel, though most of the damage was done further back where the pipes were larger and held more blood.

The ritual room itself was also filled with flying shrapnel however the explosion had also caused the blood within the pipes to crystalize and shatter filling the area with a redish dust. The souls, now free from their prison writhed around and though they were corporeal the blood-dust was sensitive to their presence and would alter as they "slithered" through it seeking a way to escape.

Many of the mages began preparing a second volly while the more martial inclined within the crowd drew their weapons however with the crystalized blood and smoke rapidly obscuring vision there would be little they could do until the fighting got a little closer to them.

Sabbatine roared her battlecry as she leapt over her fallen friend. Her voice was high pitched and so loud it disoriented some of the magi in the room causing their spells to fizzle. Her first victim saw her coming, was painfully aware of every leaping step she took as she charged headlong into the tightly packed group. Her blade caught him coming at a downward angle, shattering his colarbone before becoming lodged against his spine. Sabbatine let out another shriek before ripping her gore covered blade from the rapidly dieing mage.

Teran peered into the chaos as he stumbled to his feet. He was covered in blood, his own and the strange blood that had been in the pipes. He watched Sabbatine viciously kill whoever she could as she ran into the chaos. While his wounds healed, Teran glanced around trying to locate Mavigan and her pet, hoping they could keep themselves alive until he could get into the fray.

"Yaaaaaaaah!" he heard Sabbatine scream, gone mad on blood lust and drunk on the pure soul energy that surrounded her, which was followed by a severed head bouncing out of the dust coming to rest near the assassin.

He sighed miserably, if he had known they'd be dealing with a whole cabal of mages he probably wouldn't have brought her along.

Written by - Vylia

The scent of blood obscured Keeryn's ability to keep track of the bald man, but it was obvious there would be no running here. As Sabbatine rushed into the dust cloud Keeryn followed, going around the opposite side of the room, using her ears to locate the mages as quickly as possible, her spear appearing out of the cloud to gore one as he mumbled the words of a spell. She pulled the spear out and cringed each time Sabbatine screamed, the noise throwing her off-balance. As the scream ended she heard the man coming up behind her and dropped to the ground, her legs folded under as she the blade sliced through where her neck had been. She brought the butt of the spear up into the man's gut before coming back to her feet, she spun the spear around so the tip was pointed behind her and stabbed the man through the eye. He fell with a wail as Keeryn jumped off into the dust cloud.

She landed in the mass of men that Sabbatine had charged, and almost stabbed the undead woman since she was the loudest in the group, until she noticed who it was. Instead Keeryn went into a frenzy of spins and stabs, using Sabbatine's strikes as distractions, her spear coming at the men from over Sabbatine's shoulders or under her upraised arm while still holding off any that tried to attack her directly by parrying with the haft of the spear or the using the butt end to shove them away.

Written by - Aethelwulf

Alaric stepped forth from the portal into the daylight. As the portal's light faded, he muttered, "Now that is a handy thing indeed".

He had been keeping a watchful eye on Ardwen for some time. There was something about the elf that bothered him, some manner of darkness in Ardwen that seemed unsettling. When Alaric saw first Ariana, then Ardwen, and finally the one called Vylia touch the ancient symbol and disappear, he hurried to do the same. He was certianly not about to let the elf out of his sight, and Ariana seemed to have one foot in reality and the other placed firmly somewhere else.

Stepping into the area around the nave devoted to the All Father, he felt at once that he was on familier ground, for indeed he was standing on the grounds of the Citadel of Lothiel-Gadith. Gathering his wits about him, he glanced around, and saw Ardwen talking to Gareth, a Lieutenant of Queen Mavigan's Guard.

"Lieutenant", Alaric's words barely above a whisper, "Perhaps we should get this lass to the Infirmary, and summon a healer."

Gareth's head whipped around, and he instantly snapped to attention. "My Lord Commander! Tis good to see you again sir!"

"Indeed Commander, it is good to have you home!" Gate Captain Morgan spoke as he and Ethan approached. "It shall be as you have ordered sir."

Morgan then gently took Ariana by the hand, and with Ethan and Gareth following, escorted her into the Citadel.

Alaric then spoke to Ardwen and Vylia. "She will be well cared for, and if you like, the both of you may stand watch in her room after the good healers have taken a look at her. In the mean time, perhaps we can adjourn to my quarters for a bit of ale, and a bite to eat?"

Written by - Vylia

"I apologize, but I must decline your offer Alaric. I go where she goes, at least until she has recovered." Vylia smiled at Alaric, "Also, I've never been one for ale." With that she jogged off to catch up to the Ariana, though she honestly could not say if it was to keep her safe, or to keep others safe from her anymore.

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