Saturday, December 16, 2017
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Book One - The Elven March to Westgale

Written by Sycon - Page 14 Book 1

Ah, so the elf did have a keen eye. Jague had heard that most elves did, though he had never really grown to know one. But unlike the elf, he had avoided one of the guards so far. Some type of... Jague couldn't really ascertain what it might be, but it was female none the less. By the looks of her, she was quick, maybe even had the luck that one might say as 'nine lives.' As Jague had not seen anything of the like of her before, he averted his eyes quickly back to the elf with the clumsy looking blade on his back, but not before he dropped her a small wink to be friendly. Maybe he would ask her name later after the guard captain was satisfied.

"Big blade fer an elf wouldn't ya say. Heard a tad bit of yer conversation on da way over, but jus' to see an elf be wearin' dat sort a t'ing is jus' kinda weird in me own opinion. Me thinks all yas need is yer hands. If yer travellin', maybes a leanin' stick at da most. As fer clergy, I don' like dem types. Dey stay in da livin' quaters all day and scribe some useless nonsense onto paper. I'm a bit of an herbist meself, an... an... wat da word... apothocar' of sorts I suppose. So's I guess I look dis way from a bit of gatherin' and bein' on da outside a good bit. I go a pickin' da weeds dat might make a sick person feels a bit better, ers a wounded person numbs the pain. Maybe if I can stay long 'nough, set up a still." Jague's eyes lit up at the word and a wide, broad smile crossed his face.

He had not had a good drink since he left the monks to start his quest. What he quested for he had no idea, but he was moving along the road nicely. The rumors had brought him here for the sick and injured, but for the fighting he was not sure. He would wait to see both sides of the story before he resorted to pledging his fealty in combat.

The guard captian looked him over once more. It did not take long due to his height, but it was still a bit uncomfortable. Jague kept his composure of a smile and leaned on his walking staff. The captain began to speak, "An apothocary are you? You said you stick to healing the sick and wounded. Very well, I understand that, but what of those scars around your neckline and shirtline there?"

Jague was stunned, but he did not show it. He had mastered his composure completely and in a crowd and knew how to go unnoticed and even politic on occasion. "Wells sirs, ya caught me. I used to fight when it was needed. I fight still when it is needed, but I's a lot betters when comes to da healin'. As some of da elves say in dere poetry and songs, I'm a lover, not a fighter dere mate. Not anymores anyhow, 'specially when I can be avoidin' it. I cans read a few different languages when its a needed, do a bit of scribin', but me specialtizes is da potions fer da fighters and da sick." Jague felt around in his satchel and brought out a small herb, not longer than his hand and started chewing it, leaving most of it hanging from his mouth. He went on to speak from the side of his mouth not enclosing the small herb. "If'ns ya don mind, I's a like to stay here fer a while. Maybe's meets a few peoples and gets to know a few folks and areas round 'ere? Might dat be alloweds sirs?"

Once Jague really knew the people, he could find those that he could trust, or those who would trust him. He would never lie to another, but maybe speak in a riddle was mores of his style. As for fighting, he would do it as he needed, and hopefully here he would not need it; he could keep to healing. He served best usually as a bodyguard. He was quite adept at spotting traps set, identifying poisons, and even catching arrows when it was needed. As he had sworn his oath to never pick up a weapon, he would always use his fist, or perhaps this staff if it was near. He leaned on it now quite profusely, looking completely off balance and unguarded, but this was only one of the many styles of combat he had learned in his mastery of his body and soul.

Written by Ardwen

Ardwen smiled at Jague and dropped a slight bow, a smile crept onto his face, so faint it did not touch his eyes. “A bit large for an Elf you say, eh?” Ardwen began motioning to the blade strapped to his back, “Well, you’re not the first to say it, and I seriously doubt you’ll be the last. I’ve already explained to Keeryn," he paused for a brief instance to gesture to his recently met friend at the gate, “That the blade is mainly meant for fighting in open areas, taking down mounted warriors and such.”

Ardwen paused again to glance around, he seemed to shudder slightly and added in an almost confidential whisper, “There’s nothing funny about being caught in a heavy Calvary charge and nothing but a short blade to defend yourself with. While it can be done, I like to look out for my fellows on the field, and this blade can take out a horse much easier than either of the two at my side.” Ardwen patted the large blade on his back almost affectionately. His face reset to neutral, hard planes and angles as he looked over the Dwarf once again. He had met Dwarves before, although they had been slightly different than this, more prone to using an axe and seemingly more distrusting of those they called the “roofless” ones, those who lived on the surface of the world. Still, it was entirely possible that this Jague was not the average example of his people, very possible indeed. Regardless, his statement that he knew both fighting and healing caught Ardwen’s attention, those skills could come in useful, very useful.

Ardwen cleared his throat before addressing Jague, “I’m sure your skills, master Dwarf, whether they be martial or mending in nature will find good employ here. After all, this place appears to be a citadel, some manner of hold. Regardless, there are soldiers here, and they’re defending something, which means they’re defending it from someone. Ergo, there’s bound to be fighting, and where there’s fighting, there’s wounded. As for a still…I attempted drinking Dwarven spirits once, it took me far closer to death than any foe I’ve ever faced on the battlefield.” Ardwen finished with a chuckle before putting on an unreadable expression again. True, he was still probably hopelessly lost, but at least he was not alone, and it looks like he had found some new companions…and perhaps even a worthy cause already!

Written by Varg

Varg hears footsteps in the distance heading in his direction. He quickly jumps to his feet, and puts himself back in order. Although there should be no reason for being concerned, he has learned through his years to be prepared for anything that may fall upon you. Soon he sees the figure coming down the hall in his direction, and seeing there is no danger relaxes his posture a bit to not seem to aggresive.

Alaric speaks as he gets closer to Varg, "Hail sire, my name is Alaric and I am here to escort you to her Majesty the Queen Ariana. Before we proceed I first have a few questions to ask of you."

"Hail and well met Alaric, I am Varg Ulbrecht, please ask away." Varg replies.

"What is your purpose for being here?" asks Alaric.

"To be quite honest I was called to service here by the All-Father. I have a dual purpose; one to search out my past, and two to serve the purpose of the All-Father which I believe to be done through the service to the Queen at this time. As such I felt it was apropriate to seek an audince with her majesty. I have much experience in many skills that would be well suited for the Queen's purposes." stateds Varg.

"This we shall soon see. I would ask that you first hand over your weapons as a precaution at this time. We would not want to put the Queen in harms way. Once you have done this we shall head to the stables to meet with her grace." Alaric states.

Varg reluctantly, but understandably hands over his swords to Alaric. Then he proceeds to re-collect his pack and other belongings and follows Alaric to the stables.

"I am not sure if you are aware or not but the King and his family were assassinated recently. Queen Mavigan just recently stepped into her rightful position as the new leader of our realm. So be careful what you say to her, she is strong of spirit, but I am afraid such loses and changes in her life leave her drained at this time." Alaric states.

"I am sorry for her loss, and the loss of this kingdom. I will make sure to convey my condolences to her, unless you think this inapropraite." Varg replies.

Afterwards Alaric and Varg walked the path to the stables, continuing in small talk until they reached their destination.

Alaric, "Your majesty I am sorry to interupt, but I present to you Varg Ulbrecht. He has come requesting an audience with you."

Varg then bows to one knee in honor of the Queen, "I am honored your majesty Queen Mavigan to be in your presence, and have come to offer my services to you."

Varg stays in that position, which is customary, until told by the person of honor it is okay to rise.

Written by Ariana

Hearing a cough behind her, Mavigan startled, only to find an apple thrust in her hands.

“It is good to be prepared to reward loyalty and devotion among your followers. Allow me to be of assistance,” Wilhelm said.

Mavigan rolled her eyes at Wilhelm as she took the apple and fed it lovingly to Argent. She suspected she would be receiving many more backhanded “lessons” on her “duty”, but after this morning she was in no mood to be a willing student. Grousing a bit, she said in greeting, “Wilhelm, you are certainly looking blinding this morning! Such attire is certainly not suited for camouflage.”

Wilhelm said nothing for a moment, though Mavigan thought she saw the traces of a smile, and offered the second apple to Sable. He continued speaking, ignoring her obvious attempt to pick a fight. “I am pleased you could accept the offer to ride. Argent and Sable can both use the exercise, and I am sure you would like to get outside yourself. I will be honored to accompany you and allow these skilled gentlemen the chance to stay further off to watch for outside threads. I am sure you must have a few things to say to me.”

“Great,” Mavigan thought to herself. “More uninvited tag-alongs.” She paused as she noticed Wilhelm’s wink. “Well,” she thought trying to hide a smile, “at least he knows he deserves a tongue lashing!”

Wilhelm, ever skillful in the art of defusing Mavigan’s bad moods, moved on to compliments before she had the chance to unleash her barbed tongue. “The new outfit is very becoming on you. You look a most fair Amazon.”

Mavigan snickered. She knew full well he was pouring on the charm. Wilhelm was very familiar with her love of stories regarding the ancient Amazons. Comparing her to one of them was Wil’s own subtle way of buttering her up. Mavigan found a giggle bubbling up in spite of herself and quickly suppressed it. If the truth be told, Mavigan didn’t really want to tear into Wilhelm like she did Alaric. Wilhelm was intimidating, always cloaked in an air of righteousness. Alaric was anything but intimidating.

While Mavigan’s attention was directed internally, Wilhelm continued to prattle on. She picked up a sentence every now and again. “Many folks will be coming here to see you, to talk to you, and to pledge their services to you,” she caught. “Ah,” she thought, “going into another lecture on duty and propriety. How boring.” Grabbing a brush out of the stall, she busied herself with heaping attention onto the two horses, listening to Wilhelm with only half an ear.

“I must apologize if I have overstepped myself, but you were rather tired last night and so I made some requests on your behalf.”

That statement caught her attention and caused her to cease her ministrations. She cast a glare in Wilhelm’s direction. “The last thing I wanted to do this morning was to wake up confronted with mourning clothes!” she growled. Wilhelm cast his eyes down in submission, so Mavigan settled herself with a simple, “Just don’t do it again!”

Wilhelm seemed to accept this and motioned towards a green scarf at his belt. Mavigan watched, her anger quickly replaced with curiosity as she heard him say “When you were tend you gave me this scarf and asked me to be your Champion in the Spring Tournament.”

Shock and disbelief crossed Mavigan’s face as she remembered that Spring Tournament. At the time, Etewen had a rather handsome suitor, and the young Mavigan had seen her sister give the man the scarf from her hair as he agreed to be her Champion. Mavigan wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but she was determined not to be shown up by her sister. Ripping the scarf from her own scarlet locks, she quickly searched the area trying to find a participant to be her “Champion”. The first person she had bumped into was Wilhelm.

Mavigan remembered how inordinately pleased she was that he had agreed to bear her scarf. Wilhelm was a much bigger fellow than the one her sister had bestowed the gift upon. Running to her mother, she had promptly bragged about her deed. Her mother merely hid her smile and patted Mavigan on the arm.

Soon, Etewen’s suitor was forgotten, and there was another childish adventure to be had. Mavigan had completely forgotten about that scrap of green silk, and yet, here it was, still attached to the man she had given it to. Mavigan didn’t know whether to be angry he had attached such significance to a childish fancy, or honored that he had cherished her gift so highly.

“I cannot believe you kept that,” Mavigan blurted. A brief smile of amusement crossed her face. “I was a child. I think it rather funny that you have cherished it so highly.” She resumed brushing the horses as she added, “But if you wish to continue to hang onto it, feel free. I have no intention of bestowing anything like it on anyone else.”

Replacing the brush where she found it, she then turned to grab her saddle. “Now, how about that ride?”

As she uttered that question, the bane of her existence, namely Alaric, strolled into the stable with all due pomp and circumstance. With an extremely formal tone that grated on Mavigan’s nerves, he introduced Varg Ulbrecht, who promptly, and to Mavigan’s extreme discomfort, dropped to one knee and offered his services.

Biting her lip in anxiety, she looked down at the kneeling fellow, who kept his head bowed and his posture submissive. Mavigan quickly wracked her brain, trying to find what she supposed to do now. After many moments of getting absolutely nothing, she stopped. Had she not already promised to herself to be a Queen on her own terms? Why subscribe to protocol, when she could simply be herself?

She cast a quick glance at Wilhelm. She knew without a doubt he wouldn’t like it, and, as she cast her glance at Alaric, neither would he. But then, maybe she shouldn’t care?

Mavigan slowly blew out a breath she didn’t even realize she had been holding. “Ok, Varg Ulbrecht,” she said desperately hoping no one noticed the quiver in her voice, “you can…um…service me.” Mavigan nodded to herself, thinking she had handled that rather well, that is, until she heard the sharp intake of breath from the shiny paladin beside her. Guessing she had said something wrong, she tried again, “Um, you can provide your services to me.”

Judging from the fact that Alaric slapped his hand over his eyes, she guessed that wasn’t right either. She noticed that Varg’s shoulders were shaking slightly, and she suspected he was laughing at her. “Oh hell!” she blurted in frustration. “Just get up off the floor! You can join our not-so-merry band, just stop with all the bowing and scraping! It is truly making me nauseous!”

Mavigan turned her heel on the lot of them and began to saddle Argent. “Oh, and Wilhelm?” she said, “I’m riding Argent!”

Written by Varg

"Sorry M'lady I venture to guess you are somewhat new to proper ettiquette and protocol. I understand, and apologize for my laughter." Varg replied. "I see you are preparing for a ride, mind if I join you?"

"Do as you like." Mavigan quickly responds.

"Yes Varg you may join us, we were about to go on a leisurely ride around the kingdom," Wilhelm replied.

Alaric just stands there and shakes his head in disbelief.

Varg begins to saddle his horse Belenus and asks, "Excuse me for asking but may I have my weapons back?"

"Alaric are you that worried for my safety? Please give the man back his weapons. Do you really think I am at risk with all of you watching over me at all times?" Mavigan stated as she glared at Alaric.

Alaric then hands Varg back his weapons, and returns a stern look back at Mavigan. "I was only looking out for your safety, after all you are still at risk."

Varg quickly places his short swords back in their rightful place, and mounts Belenus. "Are you ready to go? We can talk more of what has brought me here once we are out of your prison M'lady" Varg then snickers at Mavigan.

He has already found her to be similar in spirit to himself. He can tell she is not much for the trappings of the life of royalty, and is just as comfortable in leather armor and weapons in hand. A scrappy type, this will be interesting Varg thinks to himself. He begins to pat Belenus on the neck and starts to communicate with him using his Ranger skills. Varg asks Belenus to keep a careful ear and eye open for anything strange, since it seems there is a risk by heading out with the Queen.

Written by Wilhelm

Wilhelm took a deep breath to quiet the laughter he had been holding back. Motioning to Sable, who he had just finished saddling with his war saddle, Wilhelm said, "Indeed, Argent will be happy to bear you and can use the exercise. As you see, I will be riding Sable."

Turning to Varg he said, "Welcome Varg, As you see our new Queen has her own style of court etiquette. Since court etiquette is set by the Crown, we may be seeing much less formality in future courts. A positive change, in my view. Come ride with us and tell us about yourself. We will be riding around the keep, to check on any new visitors at the front gate, then proceed around the grounds."

Turning to Alaric he said, "I and these two guards will watch over Mavigan and ensure that Varg makes no ill moves. Perhaps you would like to come along as well, after you have saddled your horse."

Seeing that Varg had finished saddling his horse, Wilhelm led him and the two horses outside. He well knew that Mavigan could mount by herself and would not appreciate an offer of assistance in doing so. He saw that the two guards lready had their mounts ready. One came with him, then mounted and began to survey the courtyard, while the other remained inside until Mavigan was ready to leave.

Written by Turin Wallace

Interrupting his silence, a guard knocks on Ithramir's chamber door. Bidding the guard to come in, Ithramir listens to what he has to say,

"It seems the half-elven queen is going for a ride and her entourage will be going with her. We have also had a few newcomers ask for permission to enter the gates, and as you asked, the human Wilhelm has allowed them to do so. He has also..."

The guard hesitates momentarily, then continues,

"...allowed them to pledge service to this queen. At the moment, they are preparing for a ride into the forests around our citadel."

Ithramir continues eyeing the obviously fidgeting guard, until finally he says,

"Out with it. I can see you wish to tell me more."

The guard, lowering his eyes, says,

"No disrespect meant, milord, but we saved them. Why do they not bend knee to you? I heard Nagarren favors this girls family, but do they not know that you are favo..."

An angry glance is thrown in the direction of the guard, thus silencing him temporarily. Timidly, the guard concludes,

"It just seems most ungracious of them, milord, to ignore you in these matters."

Leaning back in his chair, he thinks for a moment and says,

"Thank you for your report, Isélas, now return to your post."

Bowing low, the guard leaves Ithramir's chambers.

Attempting to re-engage himself into the book his was reading, he was disturbed yet again, but this time by a female voice that says,

“He is right, you know. These humans and various creatures do not seem too…hmm, what’s the word…thankful…for what you, no we have done for them. What do you think?”

Feeling a light, gentle hand rest on his shoulder, Ithramir replies,

“Ah, I see you have awoken Lithwyn, I had not wished to disturb you. You seemed to sleep well after our council last eve, and with the coming events, we all could use some rest before the storm.”

Pausing, he then says,

“Anyway, to answer your question melethril, I have received some measure of thanks from her subordinates. None from Nagarren’s avatar as yet, however, I realize her attitude is distinctly human and expect nothing from her at this point. Perhaps you should speak to her this evening, nín meleth.”

Getting a smile from the elegant female elf, who was adorned in long flowing red robes that accented her own unique reddish hair, she replies,

“Perhaps I will, melethron. I will see what the goddess wills for me to do. Now, as for you, I suggest you prepare for a ride this morning.”

Opening the door to his chambers, Lithwyn tells a guard to bring Ithramir’s best armor and his personal weapons, the long sword named “Urugdanir” and the great bow “Throssgurth.” From his seat, Ithramir could hear what she was saying, and once the door closes, he asks,

“Am I to expect trouble this day, melethril?”

Lithwyn responds,

“The goddess says ill deeds are awakening, I feel you should be prepared for any eventuality.”

Ithramir nods, then says,

“Agreed. It is rather strange Beridane has waited so long to act. I fear we may have some company soon, but unlike a real threat, this one will be stealthy and secret in its workings. We must be vigilant and stop Beridane’s plans wherever we can until we have the strength to face him head on. I fear it will be a long road ahead, melethril.”

Hearing the door open, Ithramir’s armor and weapons arrive. Lithwyn watches as he is outfitted and gives an approving nod when the guards are done. Walking over to him, she embraces him, and then goes to tend her duties as a priestess of Kaia’hanas. For his part, Ithramir tells a guard,

“Prepare my horse, Dúath, for riding. Also, inform Mavigan’s group that I shall be joining them shortly.”

With a bow, the guard goes off to fulfill his duty, while Ithramir slowly makes his way to the stables. Letting out a slight chuckle, he figures it’s his citadel and that he can be fashionably late on this occasion.

Written by Wilhelm

As Wilhelm and Varg waited outside, they heard Mavigan say, "I do NOT need help!" Evidently Alaric had made the mistake of offering help in mounting Argent. Shortly thereafter Mavigan rode out of the stable accompanied by the second guard, looking pleased with herself. While Alaric and his followers Lao and Koric were saddling their own mounts, a guard came up and told them that Ithramir wouild be joining them presently.

Wilhelm told Varg that he would soon be meeting the commander of this fortress. A groom came out with Ithramir's warhorse about the same time as Ithramir himself, accompanied by Feramus, approached the stable, fully armed with long sword and great bow. Alaric, Lao and Koric also joined the gathering party. Alaric was riding in sullen silence.

Wilhelm performed introductions and consulted with Ithramir, who agreed that they should first ride around to the front gate to see the new arrivals. They set off through the elegant elven gardens at a brisk trot. Brilliantly colored singing birds flew by and serenaded the party, to Mavigan's delight. Ithramir spoke with Varg about his past and his present plans, and Wilhelm could see that Mavigan was paying attention. Feramus and the two other elven rangers formed a trio of outriders, with Alaric, Lao and Loric forming another trio closer in. Wilhelm rode on Mavigan's left, with Ithramir on her right and Varg to Ithramir's right.

The ten riders came around the inner keep and approached the main gate, where Eladir, the Gate Captain, stood with Keeryn, two gate guards, and a dwarf and a tall elf with a greatsword. Captain Eladir reported to Ithramir and performed elegent elven introductions between Jague and Ardwen and the rest of the party. Ardwen, Jague and Varg repeated their stories.

Gesturing to Varg, Ardwen, and Jague, Wilhelm said to Ithramir and Mavigan, "This is the beginning of the arrivals we can expect as word of Mavigan spreads. I detect no falsehood from these three. The names they give are their true names. We should see if there is a common factor in their early and unusual appearance here. I suspect that there is divine will at work here, just as there may be demonic forces at work elsewhere."

Written by Vylia

Keeryn notices as Wilhelm rides up to the gate along with the stuffy Ithramir and somewhat happier, at least happier than she was last time she saw her, Mavigan. She smiled waving at them as they got a bit closer, stopping before the small group of newcomers. "Hello again Wilhelm, where's everyone going, and armed so heavily? If you don't mind me asking anyway..." Keeryn starts rocking back and forth on her heels as she smiles up at Wilhelm, trying to look as innocent as possible.

Written by Pharsalus

Geirik sat irritated near a small pile of ember and a satchel containing various potions, clothing, tools, and other such items handy in crunches. He was irritated because the Liche within him churned and boiled like a black stew within his chest -- something was wrong with this place. Had Geirik inherited the gift (or curse -- he couldn't tell which) of spectral sight, he was certain he could see the walking dead rattling their chains and commanding recognition and acceptance of vengeful, unknown tasks against unknown persons. He hated their hissing and whispering and moaning, and he hated even more the ceaseless discomfort of the monster within him. As he sat flush against a tree, Gunthorpe tied only paces west of him, a long stalk of wild grass lying gently on his lower lip, Geirik tried to make sense of the woods about him.

His eyes stared hard into the dying embers before him, taking in what little orange light they yet contained and twisting it into rings -- rings that, until the embers went out, held back the shadows in his eyes. He sat in silence usually only reserved for dead men until the surface of his mind began to crackle and ache.


The old man attempted once to ignore the calling of his stow-away.


He sighed, spitting out the now splintered stalk, keeping his eyes locked on the dying firelight.

What the bloody hell do you want?

Oooooo...heh heh heh heh....touchy, angry little man we are this evening, yesss...?

Geirik's eyes narrowed, a frown contorting across his face...

Indeed, but it is you who have been restless since we crossed into Elven lands. What say you, Dark One? What do you sense?

There was only silence and the first sounds of evening creatures seeping into the dark of the wood around the old bounty hunter and his horse. Geirik's mind grew dim, as if it were now only him present. He was almost ready to accept that the Liche had gone dormant again when when its shrill, chilling voice surged up from within him.

I sense.......Death. Or, perhaps, his minions. They....cry out in woe...pain.....desparation....

Again there was silence. Geirik's face loosened as he fought to acertain if what he'd just detected in the Dark One's voice was...discomfort? It continued.

Be wary here, Human. The dead do not cry like this unless they are shackled my arrogant mortals...Necromancers...Wizards. To the west, far beyond what your mortal eyes can see, lies the source of this....torment....

It paused, as if confirming what it sensed. Geirik could almost see dark and formless tendrils reaching out into the ever-thickening dusk, revealing to their master secrets no mortal was ever meant to know.

Geirik tensed as his vision dimmed and the world about him sparked into a blaze of twisting shapelessness. An image condensed before him like beads of ink puddling on the parchment of his mind. It was a man surrounded in light -- ghastly, searing light -- on a horse of equal splendor. The voice continued.

The gods have sent a messenger, to the East in the fortress beyond the treeline. powerful, skilled in the ways of combat and prayer. As powerful as I may make you, human....Death is nothing before immortality. This one...he is protected by the divine. Crossssss him....and I can guarantee nothing.

The image held itself suspended in Geiriks mind. He could make out no face -- only the emblem of three circles or rings; he could not tell which. Chills ran through Geirik's body as his vision returned to the mortal world. The one within him had gone silent once more, leaving only the sound of insects and the munching of his rented horse on small tufts of grass and flowers.

Geirik removed his hat and lay his head against the tree. He was tired, and his reason for being here still left him confused and frustrated. The image of the One protected by the divine was still impressed in his mind, but why? He had no qualm with this man or his gods. And the shadow that sat to the west -- supposedly his reason for leaving Ancora to come here -- and its source remained a mystery. The old man sighed and allowed his eyes to close.

Giving one last involuntary thought, the shadows around him condensed and thickened in the air about him. He was not invisible, but fairly close to it to any not paying attention. He smiled to himself.

The Elves can keep their cloaks and hooded garments. Darkness is a far greater camouflage...and it matches my boots.

He chuckled softly to himself as he slipped into a light slumber.

Written by Wilhelm

Wilhelm looked down at Keeryn and smiled in greeting. "Mavigan requested a chance to go riding, and the rest of us came along to provide a proper retinue, and to enjoy the gardens as well. A Queen's Retinue requires a certain amount of formal display, as you see by our armor and weapons. However these are also in response to the serious threat that assassins may strike at our young Queen during the ride and therefore we must be prepared to defend her."

Wilhelm pointed at Varg. "Varg Ulbrecht, whom you have met, was called here mysteriously by the All-Father and has taken service with Her Majesty." Gestering at Jague and Ardwen, Wilhelm said "Unless I miss my guess, the dwarf and elf there have also arrived here in some strange manner to join us in service to the Queen. Keeryn, would you please introduce these two to the rest of us? They can then tell us their stories."

Written by Turin Wallace

Listening to Wilhelm, Ithramir says,

"There is a bit of the divine and the demonic that may yet pass this day. I earnestly hope for the first and am fully well prepared to meet the second."

Casting a glance at the sky, then the forests edge, he continues,

"However, if we are to ride then let us ride. The day is fair, the sun not unbearably hot, and a slight wind blowing in from the valleys around us. A good day so far."

Not wanting to ruin everyone's mood by bringing up a hunch of ill-fortune, Ithramir keeps his facade of pleasantness for the time being. Motioning toward those standing at the gate, he says,

"Care for a ride, gentlemen? If you do not have a mount, one will be lent to you for the afternoon."

Seeing them nod in the affirmative, his stablemasters bring the proper amount of steeds to those assembled. Trotting on Dúath, he comes to Mavigan and says,

"I assume you and your troupe are ready to ride now? Good. Then what shall be our destination?"

Written by Varg

Varg rides up to Ithramir, and introduces himself.

"Hello Sir Ithramir, I am Varg Ulbrecht. I have newly arrived as you may have heard. I was lead here by the All-Father to pledge my services to the Queen. I will assume since my skills are in a the vein of scouting and subterfuge, I will probably be in service to you more directly. As well if you do not mind I was wondering if we could converse a little more privately during our ride. I have some questions that maybe only you can answer being that you seem to be an elf of some high standing."

Varg has noticed the quality of adornments and gear worn by Ithramir. He has assumed from this that Ithramir is either in a position of authority or royalty in the Elven courts.

Varg then bows to Ithramir as a sign of respect due his position, then awaits the response.

Written by Ardwen

Ardwen caught the sound of horse hooves long before he saw any appear at the front gate. Unexpectedly, several people on noble steeds come riding to the gate. Ardwen rapidly looked from one member of the group to another and recognized one of them, the mighty paladin who had seemed so shocked at his initial appearance, almost as shocked as Ardwen was himself. As his eyes move from one to another, his thoughts whirl to utmost shock. Two elves rode with the paladin, and one of them has a noble bearing, obviously some manner of commander, perhaps even something more?

The other was a woman of obviously no simple means, the way she carried herself, the very air screamed of royal blood, but there was something else there too. Ardwen had never been very adept at gauging such emotions...but could it be resentment? Resignation? He was not certain. By this time, the group had finished moving to the front gate, and idled there looking each of them over in turn. Ardwen found himself once again looking at the Elf who rode to the right of the lady, his mind tickled with the brief touches of memory that stirred when he glanced at him.

The gate captain stepped forward, and introductions were formally exchanged between the group. When it was Ardwen's turn, he casted one more quick glance at the group, and bowing he said, "Aiya Eldalie ar Atanatari, elen sila lumenn omentielvo." The blade strapped to his back was so large as to make the bow somewhat jerky and less deep than he had desired, but the formality of his words were great, even perhaps a bit superfluous.

Seeing the group still regarding him, Ardwen remembered the rest, and began again somewhat awkwardly, "My name is Ardwen, and that in truth is my entire and full name. I am a warrior from the northern reaches of my land, the land I am familiar with in any case. In my long years I have always served as a soldier for my people, the Daeriath Midranell. Through the long years, I have served many causes, I am what you might call a...patriot in your tongue perhaps? Where I am from, the Elven cause is grim indeed, we were fighting a war in which there could be no victory."

One by one, the group acknowledged his greetings, he did not see any abhorrence in their eyes, and in fact most seemed pensive, as if examining with great care each word he had spoken. Ardwen seriously doubted any of them were aware of the "causes" he spoke of. Supposedly, the paladin who introduced himself as Wilhelm could detect falsehoods of a sort, and reported that he had detected none from Ardwen or any of the others that stood at the gate. That was certainly a useful ability, and should make any conversation rather interesting indeed.

Horses were offered to Ardwen in short order, to which he courteously accepted. Having no horse of his own, a fine steed was provided for him, Ardwen swung into the saddle making sure to keep the horse gentle and still. He glanced over at the regal Elf again, the captain who had introduced himself as Ithramir, memories once again muttered in his mind, as muted voices straining against a heavy wind. Who exactly was this Elf?

Ardwen allowed his thoughts to drift again to the introductions and conversations at the gates. Willhelm had mentioned that the one called Mavigan was a queen. Ardwen was not intimately familiar with the workings of human rulers and their ilk, but he certainly knew enough to know that kings and queens ruled countries. And usually those countries had armies, and those armies fought for various causes and orders, as decreed by the king or queen. To what end, therefore, did this queen pledge herself?

Ardwen glanced at her, this Mavigan, once again. There was something about her that was unusual, not normal in a human queen. Why, for one, was she in an Elven citadel, with seemingly an Elven force at her command? She had also attracted several powerful champions to her cause, but to what end? Ardwen allowed his gaze to linger; he worked his mind furiously for a possible solution to the puzzle that was Mavigan. At first, nothing came...but then a slight and startling conclusion being to creep upon him. Could it be that this queen had Elven blood in her? Certainly she was not a pure Firstborn, perhaps many generations had passed, but that meant the blood was still coursing in her veins nonetheless. It seemed almost impossible to fathom, and brought more questions with it, but it would explain much.

Until he heard otherwise, Ardwen would assume what he concluded about Mavigan, which had serious implications for him. What has Ithramir and Mavigan weighing when he made his introduction? Suddenly his words about being a patriot and serving the Elven cause and blood came rushing back to him. Ardwen merely nodded, he did not regret the words, as Wilhelm had said they were true, all of them. This world may be strange, but it was not completely alien. He had his cause here as well; he would serve this Ithramir, and even Mavigan. But he would not serve Mavigan because she was a queen. If she had even so much as a drop of Elven blood to protect, it was his cause, his duty. Whether she assumed the highest throne in the land or stayed at the citadel for all of eternity, it made no difference to Ardwen. He would not force her along any path, that would be to violate the freedom of the Eldar, but he could protect her.

Ardwen was a warrior; death was his calling. While Mavigan had champions already, and Ithramir did not look as he needed protection, Ardwen would provide his blade nonetheless. A grin swept over Ardwen's face, he briefly wondered if any of them knew of one of the names he had been given? It was an Elven title of course, given to him for his ferocity in combat. It was difficult to translate into the common tongue, but he had done it once or twice. Macilsul: "The Sword-Wind." Ardwen's grin faded, but he chuckled a bit, first at the absurdity of it all, and then for sheer pleasure. His chuckle verged on laughter as a thought passed through his mind, "Some things never change."

Written by Vylia

"Well, uh... since he seems to have introduced himself, I guess I'll introduce the dwarf. His name is Jague, he says he's an apothikay or something like that." Keeryn mulls the word over in her head for a few seconds before giving up on saying it correctly. "I'd love to go with you, but I don't have the slightest idea how to ride one of those things, but as long as they don't go TOO fast I should be able to keep up. I don't suppose I could get a spear or something first though? If you think there might be trouble I would hate to be unprepared, and it's one of the only weapons I can use well... unless you have a whip?" She continues looking up at Wilhelm, hoping maybe he might have a spare whip, it being her favorite weapon.

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