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Book One - The Elven March to Westgale

Written by Wilhelm - Page 15 Book 1

Wilhelm looked a little startled. "A spear should be easy enough to obtain. But a whip?" Wilhelm thought back, and then remembered something. Turning to Ithramir, he said "Back at the stables I saw your Master of Horse training a war stallion with a whip. Not to strike the horse, of course, but to give signals by the sound of the cracking whip. He was using a full bullwhip so he could place the source of the sound to either side. Do you think that Keeryn might have the use of such a whip, along with a spear?"

Written by Turin Wallace

Hearing the one called Varg speak, Ithramir nods his head slightly to him as he bows, then says

"Varg, some conversation would be pleasant on our ride. Feel free to ask or discuss with me whatever you wish. I will answer all as best I can."

As everyone mounts the steeds provided, the one called Ardwen, who no doubt was kin to his kind, spoke. Smilingly, Ithramir replies,

"Aur elvellon, maer ana tírad pen i pent i iaur peth."

Pausing for a moment, he then continues,

"Though we use either the common tongue or the more easier versions of our language now. Well met, Ardwen. It is good to see a kinsman."

Watching the forests with an uneasy spirit, Ithramir hears Wilhelm speaking. Looking over to him, he answers,

"A whip you say? Yes, the stablemaster has one. If this Keeryn desires a whip then we can provide her one."

Calling a guard over, Ithramir tells the guard to fetch one of the stablemasters old whips. The guard then walks off and returns with the item. Pointing over to Keeryn, the guard walks over and hands the whip to her, then leaves to go back to his post.

Looking to Keeryn, he says,

"You'll have a spear later. It seems we are about ready to ride so you'll just have to make due with that for now."

Glancing back to Wilhelm, Ithramir says,

"I trust this satisfies her request for a weapon. Hopefully now we can be off, at least, once your queen is ready."

Written by Vylia

Keeryn smiles as she is given the whip, bowing in an attempted imitation of the others, though not a very good one. "Thank you... The whip is much prefered since it's less likely to break unless it's directly cut. I can always use my claws if anything gets in close." She holds her left hand up, smiling, and unsheaths her claws for a moment before dropping it back to her side.

Written by Ariana

Mavigan had been excited at the prospect of a ride. A chance to feel the wind across her cheeks, hear the birds chirping in the distance, sense the peaceful serenity she often did while out among nature. So pleased was she with the prospect that she was even willing to ignore the fact that she would not be granted the opportunity to enjoy it alone.

She watched with a slightly critical eye as her entourage continued to grow, content to the allow the chatter surround her fade into background noise. Knowing that escape was not possible at the moment, she guided her horse in the same direction as everyone else, inhaling deep breaths of the fresh air, if not with complete joy, then with resigned contentment.

That is, until He came.

She felt him before she saw him, his presence powerful and intimidating. His aura was soon followed by the Elf himself, astride a horse that matched him in power and grace. Apparently, he intended to join this rag tag band of folk on a morning ride.

Mavigan felt herself cringe, every nerve ending screaming in protest at the touch of his powerful aura. She did not understand why he affected her so. It was not as if she were weak. Mavigan had stood toe-to-toe with many powerful men during her days on the streets, and hadn't even flinched. And yet, when Ithramir walked into a room, Mavigan felt the only thing she wanted to do was run and hide.

Ithramir was an alien presence to her, one she could not understand. He came from a world she had heard stories about as a child, but had never experienced. Supposedly, part of that world resided within her - at least, that was what her Mother often told her. But how was Mavigan to know when she had never been there?

Mavigan cast a quick glance towards Wilhelm, who rode beside her, clothed in an aura of righteousness. He, too, lived in a world alien to her. His world was filled with divine powers and direct connections to his god. Yet, Mavigan, did not fear him. Though she had never experienced such divine power herself, she felt she knew Wilhelm. He lived by a code, and because she understood that code, she also understood that she had nothing to fear from him - even if his god was a male.

Her glance slipped from Wilhelm to the enigma on her other side. He, however, she did not understand at all. She did not know what drives him, nor what he fights for. But she had no doubt that if she stepped wrongly just once, he would pin her to the wall, and make no apologies for it.

She noticed him gazing at her, and suddenly Mavigan wanted nothing but the shadows she considered her friends to come and hide her. She was not ready to face this challenge, that much she knew. And her instinct was screaming at her to run, to hide. Not having that option available, she reached for the next best thing: camoflage. Perhaps if she made herself very small and unnoticeable on this trip, it wouldn't be as horrible as she thought it would be.

That idea was quickly tossed out the window as soon as he spoke to her.

She quickly cast her eyes down and mumbled out a clumsy response. "Please, you choose the destination. It matters not to me." Her voice grew softer with each word as gloved fingers began to idly toy with Argent's mane. "And,, yes, I am ready to go."

Written by Turin Wallace

Hearing Mavigan's reply, Ithramir gently spurs his horse forward and says,

"Then, let us be off."

Hearing someone in the small group ask just "where" it is they are going, Ithramir replies,

"Seeing that the day is fair and most, if not all, are in good spirits we shall ride to what we call the Valley of Gwaloth. Some of our people ride there for peace of mind, others to spend time with their loved ones. It is a quiet place, I think you all may enjoy it."

Pausing in a moment of reflection, he then continues,

"It will take some time to reach this place. Be at ease and enjoy the company. Such moments are fleeting in these days and it would be a waste to not take advantage of this."

Saying no more, Ithramir gently spurs his mount forward, letting the others continue at their own pace for the journey.

Written by Vylia

Keeryn noticed Mavigan cringing before Ithramir showed up, but she had let it pass as the need for a weapon arose in her mind. Once she heard the girl mumble a response to Ithramir her curiosity was piqued again, so she walked over next to Wilhelm to see if she could figure out if he knew what was wrong, since she hadn't really talked to the girl before, and Mavigan seemed a bit deep in thought. "Umm, do you mind if I ride with you since it looks like we're going to be travelling for awhile? And maybe you could tell me a bit more about Mavigan while we ride... she looks like she could use a friend, but I don't want to just barge in on her privacy."

Written by Sycon

Jague looked at each person in turn. Searching each's eyes for any sign of laughter. It seemed that many things in this place were all too serious, but then many places like this were these days. Tensions were always high except among the best of friends so it seemed in this region.

Jague did not speak for himself among the turns, as he watched each speak in their own. It was easier to watch those speaking and judge them by the way they spoke and carried themselves. With new recruits coming in though, it would be hard to judge most personalities for they would be on the alert to judge someone else. Jague would just have to wait it out on his own to see who was really who.

Ardwen was not too hard to figure out thus far. He carried a weight on his shoulders that he could not put down. Either by some haunting memory or some lingering quest, Jague was not sure. Ardwen seemed good natured and Jague liked that about him.

Keeyrn he could not quite judge yet. She seemed to be the more upbeat type of...female. She seemed quite the ready for a good fight as well. Jague suspected her of being quite dangerous in battle. It is always those that enjoy battle that scared him, but females were always so fun.

Of course Mavigan was there. It all centered around her, or so it seemed. There was a difference in her, a regal nature, but it seemed still raw and untapped. Just by walking into a room with her you can tell she has a gift, but if she uses it or not, that is the question...but it was she that did not worry Jague.

It was Ithramir and Wilhelm that bothered Jague. Both men had that look. One that Jague knew all too well. You aquire that look after long hours of mediation, prayer, or whatever some may call it. Both men had it, either by some outside force or inner enlightment, you could only aquire that look after you have found something outside of this world, on any other plane of existence. Jague knew this look but did not see the discipline behind either. Both men tipped toed on a fine line, just on different sides of the same spectrum.

He did not pay too much thought to the others. They seemed to far off in their own worlds to see what was truthfully going on. Nevertheless, it was time for Jague to speak up or get forgotten. "I'm not da one fer horses, mates. But could I's a inquire yas on just jogglin' along? I's a good walkin' stick, and I should be able's to keep up wit' yas, but if not, don worry. Jus' go 'head witout me. I'll find yas if ya stop, won't take me longer dan ya tink." If he had to, he could keep up with them for several miles, but he was not going to show this in the least. He would let them get ahead of him and he could stick to the trees and woods that he knew much better. They wouldn't be hard to find if he stuck to the trees. Heck, he could smell half the elves from a mile away, especially Ardwen. They would not be hard to follow.

Jague let a smile cross his face, the herb in his mouth pointed more up as he did. He took the herb from his mouth and placed it back into his pouch. His walking stick made a soft pat on the ground as he took a few steps up to the front horse. He looked into the horses eyes, legs, then back down to the ground. This was going to be good exercise.

Written by Wilhelm

Wilhelm noted Mavigan's reaction to Ithramir and wondered about the cause. Perhaps it was the elven sense of recognition coming through their shared blood, or perhaps it was one Goddess Avatar perceiving the influence of another Goddess. Or maybe it was just Ithramir himself. Whatever it was, Mavigan was very unsetled about it. Wilhelm allowed Ithramir to move further away from Mavigan by pointing out some of the local wildflowers and mentioning a few with medicinal uses. He saw Mavigan begin to relax more as Ithramir drew further ahead.

Speaking quietly, he said to Mavigan "Ithramir means you well, Mavigan, for all of his haughty elven manner. You need not fear him. However, why don't you and Alaric go ride with Ardwen and Varg and talk to them, since they have come to pledge their services to you and you should get to know them. I will speak to Jague and Keeryn over here and we can leave Ithramir to ride in the lead."

Mavigan nodded with a weak smile, then took Alaric with her and moved over to join Ardwen and Varg. Wilhelm moved closer to Jague and Keeryn in time to hear Jague's expected comment about dwarves and horses. Some things never changed.

"Aye, Jague, I've never yet met a dwarf who was comfortable with a horse, and the reverse is often true as well. The marching ability of dwarves is legendary, so I have no doubt that you can keep up. You are not the only one on foot, after all." Wilhelm gestured towards Keeryn, then pointed to a nearby elven ranger.

"Yon ranger can give you directions on our path, and also tell you where the healing herbs grow. As an apothecary, you may wish to gather some fresh herbs as you go." Wilhelm did not mention that through his Bounty Hunter training, he would be tracking Jagues' heartfire to ensure he did not stray or divert to some other meeting. So far, at least, he sensed none nearby but their own party.

Jagues went to speak to the ranger as Keeryn came up and asked about Mavigan. Wilhelm was impressed by her sensitivity, and said "Mavigan could indeed use a friend, particularly a female friend. Except for a few female rangers she is surrounded by men of power and may well welcome another female to talk to."

"Mavigan was the younger daughter of the King and Queen, and raised in the city of Ancora as a princess and future priestess of Nagarren. Her older sister was the heir and well suited to the training for both roles. Very like her mother. Mavigan was more like her father, who had been a strong-willed and independent-minded youth who often rebelled at the strictures laid upon a prince until the time he met, loved and married the Queen. For her he forsook his independent ways and devoted himself to the duties of a King, becoming an excellent ruler."

"Like many a reformed rebel, he was determined to prevent his daughter from repeating his early mistakes and to follow instead the more responsible path he now followed. Since she shared his original nature, this naturally led to repeated clashes of will between them as Mavigan was not ready or willing to settle into royal and religious duties. Mavigan took to spending as much time as possible in disguise down in the town, pretending to be a common performer, a role she became very good at. That actually spared her life, because she was away from court, after an argument with her father, when Beridane's assassin slew the rest of the royal family."

"Like her father before her, she now finds herself thrust into the duties and burdens of a ruler. Like her mother before her, she has now become the Avatar and High Priestess of Nagarren. Unlike her parents, she has no consort to share the burden, nor family members to assist and counsel her, nor has she completed the usual training for those roles. She finds herself forced to yield up her treasured freedom of youth and abruptly assume the adult burdens of royalty and religion, while also dealing with the loss of her family and the need to avenge them.

Despite her childhood failure to learn the powers of a priestess of Nagarren, due no doubt to her subborn independent spirit, she finds herself the de facto High Priestess and Avatar of Nagarren without the usual powers and direct guidance from the goddess that usually comes with that title. These burdens will weigh heavy upon her, and so she could indeed benefit from a female friend."

"I suggest you join in the conversation over there with Mavigan, Varg, and Ardwen, and add another feminine point of view to the discussion. I suspect she could use your support. I am sure you had your own youthful encounters with adult male leaders in your village before the Wizard came. Perhaps you could share some stories with Mavigan along the way."

Written by Ardwen

Ardwen reluctantly stifled his laughing a few seconds after it involuntarily began. He glanced about, his face once again a hard plain of angles, as readable as a slab of rock. He truly hoped no one had noticed, and from his glances it seemed no one had. Sometimes though, when he passed over old memories, the emotion and gravity of each made him forget the outside world.

He noticed movement nearby, it seemed Mavigan, the Queen whom his thoughts had whirled around, was approaching. There was another with her as well, a warrior that had called himself Alaric, but why were they coming? The pair stopped close enough nearby to begin a conversation, perhaps that's what their aim was. With a slight nod Ardwen took that as the meaning, after all Varg was riding nearby as well, maybe they wished to know more about them?

A few moments of awkward silence passed, and Ardwen decided he was going to seize this opportunity to confirm his suspicions.

"Hello Mavigan and Alaric," He began, making sure to refrain from using Elven, ", Mavigan, mind answering a small question for me? I'm curious to know something, something that will make a great deal of difference to me in this world."

Seeing no sign to cease, Ardwen considered how to best state his coming inquiry. Seeing no way other than to be overt he began, "If it is permissible, I would like to know if Mavigan has Elven blood. It would not matter if it is removed by many generations, any at all would suffice." Ending his question with a small respectful bow, (at least as much as he could make from a saddle) Ardwen fixed his eyes on the pair and eagerly awaited their response.

Written by Vylia

"I suggest you join in the conversation over there with Mavigan, Varg, and Ardwen, and add another feminine point of view to the discussion. I suspect she could use your support. I am sure you had your own youthful encounters with adult male leaders in your village before the Wizard came. Perhaps you could share some stories with Mavigan along the way," said Wilhelm.

"Problems with men I have had, with out Chieftain actually, I got my sister hooked on him instead," she giggles for a moment at the memory. "Well, I guess if you think she won't mind me over there, and if the dwarf thinks he can keep up then I sure won't be shown up by a male!" With that she jogs over to the group to keep beside Mavigan's horse, electing to just listen to the conversations for awhile until she can come up with something worth talking about.

Written by Aethelwulf

His brows furrowing at Ardwens question, Alaric inclined his head slightly and turning in his saddle a bit, he smiled. "Tell me friend, why is it that ye wish to know?"

Written by Ardwen

The one called Alaric turned in his saddle a tad and smiled, "Tell me friend, why is it that ye wish to know?" he inquired. Ardwen nodded his head, he fumbled with a way to give voice to his thoughts. Further confounding him was his limited knowledge of how humans operated their cities and empires. What would the call what he was about to say in their tongue? An oath, or perhaps a vow?

Ardwen decided the best way was to simply speak and let his emotion guide his words. Coughing slightly to clear his throat, and returning Alaric's smile, he began, "I do not know, precisely where I am on this world. I do not know what fate awaits me. But then truly, what man or woman can say that he ever did? Ergo, it is left to me to do with my time and skills what seems best to me no? In my world I am a warrior, plain and simple."

Ardwen paused a bit to gauge their reactions before continuing on, "That does not say much though, does it? It is hard to explain this...but I am a warrior who has sworn himself to a cause. Ernil is what some called it in my tongue, "one devoted to", one devoted to a cause, an ideal, a place; all manner of things or people. It is unfortunate that in my experience, the Elven cause was the one that needed the most devotion. We were fighting a losing war on all sides, we became grim and aloof. We did not dance in festivity or song, but we said we danced only for vengeance. And dance the dances of death we did, in great numbers.

Ardwen passed a hand over his face, such painful memories, but he forced himself to go on, "I did this as well, devoting myself to preserving my people, their lineage." Ardwen pauses a bit allowing that to register before adding what he intended to all along, "Their blood." Ardwen allowed another short pause but then quickly went on, "I became known for my ferocity in battle, and my devotion to my cause. My people they...gave me names...titles. I did not want them, but they came still. I shall say only one, the most common: 'macilsul', Sword-wind. For indeed I forsook everything else in my passion, I did not study magic as was common for my kin, I even forsook study of the gods. I focused myself on my swords, going even so far as to scorn all other weapons."

Ardwen could see questions, and perhaps responses brewing on his listeners’ faces now, but he decided to finish up, "That is why I must know. Ithramir is obviously Elven, he will have my dedication. If Mavigan is as well then I extend the offer to her and to all those that she desires me to serve or protect. I am not sure if that is the right word, offer. If Mavigan has Elven blood in her, then she will have my sword, my protection, and even my life if demanded...whether she wants it or no. That, good Alaric is why, this is my cause, my reason for living."

Ardwen allowed a smile to come upon his face before finishing with grim words, "For I pride myself on my skill, if a foe should ever come for her or those under my protection, then they must kill me first." Ardwen finally stopped to allow them time to consider his words, but he added in a small whisper only to himself, "And that is no easy task."

Written by Aethelwulf

"Aye Keeryn, sure of himself Ardwenn here maybe, and indeed in some that would be a fatal flaw. But I would encourage you to look deeper into the heart of one who is willing to give his life so freely in the defense of others." His eyes turning somber with too many ancient memories of brothers in arms long sleeping in the hands of the earths cold grasp, Alaric's mood then brigtened. "Indeed I would put forth that there is no greater gift then to do so. And to do so in the defense of ones Queen and country is a greater feat still."

Written by Ardwen

It was Keeryn who spoke first, "Pretty sure of yourself aren't you? One thing my mother always loved to remind me of was to always assume the one you are fighting is miles ahead of you in skill, and I'm sure those people exist. There may come a time when the person you face DOES kill you easily, so it is best not to let your ego get the better of you. That said I'd like to spar with you some time, it might be interesting, don't you think?"

Ardwen regarded each word and spoke, "Ego get the better of me? I only relate what happened to me truly. I fight because of what I am, it is my duty. Your mother may have taught you Keeryn, and maybe that is fine and well, but such a philosophy would not be well received amongst my kind. True, you must be honest about your own abilities and that of your foe, but by entering a fight with the attitude that your opponent is superior you have already lost half the battle. There is a difference between hubris and serenity in battle."

Ardwen paused, struggling to relate, "To tell the truth, your words baffle me. A time where a foe does kill me easily? Of course a time will come and I will die, as all do. But I will not cast aside my oath out of fear. Allow me to ask you a question Keeryn, you once spoke to me that a mage caused great havoc, even utter destruction for your people. If you knew what that mage would eventually do, wouldn't you have fought against him? Could he not have killed you 'easily'?"

Shaking his head slowly Ardwen still feels as if he is not communicating clearly, when he remembers and old refrain, "There is an ancient proverb that I keep in mind for battle. Perhaps you have heard of it: 'Even when it seems certain you will lose, retaliate. This is not born of great wisdom or great knowledge. You must not think or reason on life. A true man measures himself by rushing towards an irrational death. Only then will you wake from dreaming.' That is the essence of being a warrior Keeryn, though your words still confound me."

Pausing once more Ardwen considers Keeryn's last words, "Sparing?" He intones his voice dripping with contempt, "It has been long since I've engaged in a sparing match indeed. I do not understand why you would want to spar with me entirely; do you have some aim in it? I will not object to a match if you are truly set on it, though I abhor mock battles. I do not know where you will find wooden replicas of my weapons though, I've not seen there like here yet, but perhaps they exist."

Alaric then spoke, and in his words something stirred in Ardwen's soul. For a moment, however brief, Ardwen saw the same pain he felt creep into Alaric's eyes. It passed swiftly though, as frost yielding to the spring, but the memory was pressed into Ardwen's mind now. Alaric spoke of duty; indeed the man called Alaric knew the weight of duty all too well it seemed. Ardwen bowed his head in respect before intoning softly, "Thank you friend."

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