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Book One - The Elven March to Westgale

Written by Sycon - Page 16 Book 1

Jague watched Keeryn move closer to the larger group before he turned his attention back to Wilhelm. Jague then eyed the ranger and started walking towards him. Then he thought he realized he did not know much about this place and turned back to Wilhelm once again. Wilhelm seemed to keep a close eye on Mavigan. What he had gathered so far, Wilhelm was probably Mavigan’s Champion. It was men like this that often became champions of important ladies. He seemed to be a proud man without fear, possibly a man of religion… definitely a man of religion. Yet he still carried the build of a warrior. A Paladin perhaps? Nevertheless he kept a hawk eye on Mavigan and her surrounding and immediate companions.

Jague coughed to bring Wilhelm’s attention back to the direction he was in. “It seems dat we be’s in a group alls our own.” Jague gave a slight bow, keeping eye contact with the man that stood before him. “Likes a congregation, seems dat Mavigan seems to be attractin’ all sorts companions. I’s a feel kina weird, bein’ da only dorf ‘ere, but den again, I’s a used to bein’ alone. Den again, I’d would be feelin’ better if ya could answer me a question er two.” He stared deep into the eyes of the man before him, searching for any sign of a flickering emotion. Jague was surprised at the resilience of him. He was a true man, a man of honor and compassion, yet he seemed isolated at the same time.

“Dere are many gods in dis world, each wit’ dere own views an’ values. Ya seem to have prayed jus’ bout as much as I, I can sees it in yer eyes… and da slight discoloration ‘bout yer knees likes ya been prayin’ a bit.” Jague chuckled at his own remark and gave a broad smile. “Which do ya follow mate, or possibly even granted a blessin’?” Jague did not pause long for an answer to the question, if he was even asking a question. “Dat an’ I was wonderin’ bout da people in dese parts. I know several of’em jus’ seemed to arrived at once, but if’ns ya don’ mind, could ya tell me who da people ya might know round ‘ere? So dat I might know dere names, and greet dem when I’ve time. Maybe’s tell me a bit ‘bout’em.”

Jague reached into his pouch and pulled out two identical herbs. He offered out one to Wilhelm and placed the other half way in his mouth, once again letting the other half hang out. “It be a tasty herb dat doesn’ grow round ‘ere. Only has a few left in me pouch but yer welcome to one. Does not have any odder effect than da flavor it be puttin’ on yer tongue. It is quite good, made fer small ride on da horse? Good fer me on da walks I take, prolly dis one too.” His kept his hand extended with the herb offered to Wilhelm. Maybe he could get Wilhelm to give a smile. Wilhelm kept glancing over at Mavigan, as Jague supposed he would do to check up on her. While his duty was never ending, he could at least indulge in a slight flavor of this herb and just smile. Give a lighter feeling to the air around him.

Written by Vylia

"I think you misunderstand me. I never said you should let fear control your actions. Serenity is only great focus and confidence in your abilities. At any rate I was refering mostly to your comment there at the end, that killing you would be no easy task, and pointing out that for someone I'm sure it WOULD be an easy task. Whether you ever actually run into that person or not is another matter entirely. To answer your question though, yes, if I had been given the chance I would have fought that wizard with my bare hands if that is what it took, and so would the rest of my people. But we did not know what kind of person he was until it was too late, and now that chance will never be given to me."

"I don't know about that proverb of yours though. What is the point of fighting a battle you know you will lose unless there is no other choice? Would it not be better to run and come back at a time of your choosing when the POSSIBILITY, however slim, of victory exists?"

"As for sparring, I'm sure you can ask someone around here to make wooden replicas of your swords if you'd be willing to let them take a closer look at them, mine is easy enough, all I need is a good quarterstaff. I merely wanted to see how your blades work from a personal standpoint, since I've never seen anything like them on the rest of these people, though honestly I'd like to have a sparring match with just about all of them," she smiles as she says this.

Written by Wilhelm

Glancing once more at Mavigan, Wilhelm concluded that Alaric had the situation under control and so he could relax for a bit. Turning back to Jague, he examined the proffered herb. Coming to a decision, he gently took the herb and placed it between his lips as Jague had done. He smiled at the pleasant taste.

"Thank you, Jague. It is indeed most pleasant. You ask about my faith, and those here. Now that is a long story, but then the Dwarves are known for their love of long stories and we have a long ride ahead of us. Walk alongside me and I will tell you. But first, I feel I should offer something in return. I do not have any of the ale that Dwarves enjoy, but I do have this." Wilhelm reached into his saddle bag, felt around, and pulled out a silver flask. Opening it he took a sip, inhaled, and sighed. Passing it to Jague he said, "Dwarven double-malt whiskey from Stonemount. It has many uses, some of them medicinal." Wilhelm said this with a wink.

"As for my faith, I am a Paladin of the All Father, Tinorb, the human God of Justice. I hazard a guess that you are a follower of Inveor, the dwarven God of Wisdom. The Ancora Chapter of my Order is charged with the defense of the our sister Abbey of Nagarren, the Mother Goddess, the human Goddess of Healing. The High Priestess of that abbey is also the Queen of Ancora, and has been so since before my ancestor and namesake came here from another world long ago. He was also a follower of the All Father, although under another name, and my line has been followers of the All Father ever since."

"Soon after I was accepted by the All Father as His paladin and became one with Him, I was asked by the King to become the defender of his youngest daughter, Mavigan. I agreed, and that has been my task ever since. Mavigan herself, as a girl, named me her Champion, although she didn't really understand the full meaning then. She has confirmed that title now. Our king's brother, Beridane, ambitious and envious of his brother, hired an assassin who slew the royal family and then proclaimed himself King, in violation of longstanding tradition. With the help of other evil and ambitious men he took the throne."

"However, Mavigan was not slain. She had left the court after an argument with her father, and I went in search of her. Neither of us was in Ancora, therefore, when the assassin struck. She is now the rightful Queen and High Priestess of Nagarren. The man there next to her, Alaric, was a friend to the king and was also searching for Mavigan. He and I will do all we can to keep her safe and return her to the throne."

"That elf there is Ithramir, the commander of this elven bastion. He has pledged his aid to Mavigan. The others here are also here to pledge their services. The blue-furred female there is Keeryn, who was transported here by magic by an evil wizard who destroyed her village. Varg there is a follower of the All Father from another world, and seems to have been sent here by the All Father to assist the High Priestess of his Consort. Ardwen, whom you have met, appears also to have come from another world in a mysterious manner, but then mystery is often present when the Divine Will is at work. Perhaps he too will assist us. "

"So tell me, stout apothecary, what brings you here?" Wilhelm inquired with a smile and a penetrating gaze.

Written by Sycon

Jague perked up at the thought of another story to tell. Jague loved storytelling almost as much as hearing a good one himself, though this was a little bit different. He had never really told his life's story and he wasn't about to. It was far too long. He could hit on the high points, but the rest of just fiddle-faddle...then again there was the drink offered to him by Wilhelm. That would make for a good long conversatoin! The taste buds in Jague's mouth started tingling... it had been many months since he had taste fine dwarven brew!

"Thank ya Wil! Mind if'n I call ya's Wil?" Jague didn't stop to wait for an answer and accepted the flask from Wilhelm. Jague tilted the flask to his lips and took a swig. He lowered the flask and looked up at Wilhelm with a huge grin on his face. "Ahhhh, jus' the stuff for a story, eh?"

Jague's eyes rested on Wilhelm's and softened to a hearty tone before he began. Jague cleared his throat. "Me name is Jague Steelcraft. I's a be from a monastary close to Stonemount. I come from da Steelcraft clan. We's a usually known fer our smithy skills, but I's a didn't take dat path. Me Fadder, Jerrik Steelcraft, is da chief blacksmith fer da Thane at Stonemount. Our family's been da head of the blacksmith's fer about 218 decades. Seems bout right."

Jague paused slightly and took a breath and another quick swig. "I am da second son of Jerrik. Me older brodder is da one to carry on da family trade. I's, supponsin' you can say, is da outcast of da family. I was never quite as strong as me family, but I's quicker on da uptake and on me feet. While's we dorfs are strong to our clans, I was still loved and not denounced as me brudder thought I should be. 'Stead, dey decided dey were sendin' me to live wit' da monks on da outskirts of Stonemount. Dere I prayed, learned a language er two, and picked up most of me skills. Still, I's was a bit arrogant at da time."

Jague paused slightly, inclining his head. "Nah, make dat I was young at da time. Though I was at da monastary, I wadn't any monk, tell ya dat. But I's a did like to play wit' da staff. I learned to use it along wit' me body and da martial arts to learn to fight. I's a practiced day in a day out for several years, fer we weren't allowed to leave da monastary, least I's a wasn't. Can't blame'em either."

"Still, I's a devoted one to me god, as you must've recognized da tatoo up need me sleeve dere, Inveor. Ya's a keen eye lad." Jague gave'em a slight nod and a smile. "I's a prayed often as I could, but bein' young, I thunk fer me own and didn't pay any attention to what I's a actually doin'. Da monks let me out of da monastary one day... was dat a mistake. Dey found me in a tavern three days later, drunk off me arse. Apparently I had whipped severl of'ems hide out of dere and had made meself a few enemies. None of'em were dorf's a course, jus' visitors passin' through or doin trade, prolly. Eidder way, dat night dey gave me and me brotherin' a bit of a visit at da monastary. Da monks refused to fight back and several were's a killed protectin' me. Dat was when I wised up." Jague's eyes seem to almost furrow, but dropped for a quick second of respect and sadness.

"Several years later, I's a full fledged monk of me faith. I was stout of heart, mind, body, and soul. Dey set me off into da world expectin' somethin' outa me, though I didn' know it den. So's I focused on da only few things I knew. I's a learned a few herbs and dere meanin's at da monastary. I gathered da herbs I knew and sold'em where I could and eventually got me's a job wit' an apothacary. Dat's where I learned me trade." Jague held back a little bit of information on who his actual employer and teacher was. While the name would never be known among any of these, his origins spoke for themselves. It was also something he was not proud of, nor would he ever be.

"I's left dere after a couple o' years, wonderin' what I could see agaain. Dis time I made me livin' not of da sellin' of da herbs, but da potions and remedies dat I could. I's a learned several skills, however meanial from da local taverns, most notable me dart throwin' skills. But I's a found meself losin' a bar fight every now and den. Didn't means to be in'em, but dey jus' broke out. So's I made da money I could and found all da fighters I could. Some I sparred wit', odders I trained wit'. Ya could says, dis took up da majority of me life. While me trainin' didn't make me da best fighter in da world, it brought me peace in da rythme of battle."

"It was bout dat time me quest in life, as a monk, was revealed ta me. I was walkin' by meself one day fer out in da woods. A shadow passed over me head, quick as lightnin' and I didn' catch but a glimpse. I kept on me way when a fellow stopped me by da road several mile from da spot. He was 'lone, same as me, but he had a glow bout his eyes, seemin' unnatural. We's traveled fer several days. I offered 'em wut I had and he did da same for me. We told tale after tale, enjoyin' our time out in da forests. On da fifth day, he revealed to me somethin'. Turns out, he was a silver dragon. Da nice kin'. Never's in me life had I's a seen a dragon, but dere he was, right in front o' me. He told me many tings, some tings I never tought possible. He even taught me one er two. But a'fore we departed, he's gave me a small quest for da tings he had done fer me. Said he'd find me when I's a ready. Wut be me quest? Dat I might tell ya if'n I get to know ya better. We be startin' out good." Jague let out a small chuckle. "Le's see where it goes from 'ere, eh?" Jague looked straight into Wilhelm's eyes. A glow came about Jague's eyes, just as the silver dragon's had been. It was like a thin silver mist covering his eyes and dey glowed a bit with a warm feeling Jague always felt when he showed one he would know he would have to trust. This power was a warm feeling, that spread throughout his entire body as he chuckled lightly to himself and to Wilhelm in a playful and almost bragging manner. Jague blinked and quick as that, the mist disappeared in his eyes and they were back to their normal green. "Ya could say I follow da dorf god o' wisdom, and I do, but I's a follow me quest of da Silver Dragon, too."

Jague reached the flask back to Wilhelm, taking one last swig beforehand. "When dis lil caravan of ours be startin' out anyhow. Me legs are achin' for a stretch." Jague kicked one of his legs towards the ground, seeming to stretch it. He then picked himself up to normal height, as a dwarf could, and patted his walking stick against the ground several times before looking once again over at the larger party forming where Mavigan was.

Written by Varg

"Since it is story time as it seems, this is my story. Forgive me as I speak both in present, past and future. I am not a great storyteller like the great bards of royalty, but shall still do my best. My past is unknown, but that has never bothered me. I live my life by what is before me. The only link to my past is the signet ring I wear which is the head of a howling wolf with an eight-point star behind it.

The earliest memories I have are of my friend Saloren. Saloren was the one who started calling me Varg, he had seen my signet ring and thought it to be fitting. It seemed to fit at the time and has since. I had shown up at his door asleep one morning. He didn’t know what to make of it at first, but didn’t feel threatened. He waited for me to wake-up before introducing himself. We talked for awhile; both with many questions, me with little answers. It was then that he took me in. I was to learn the ways of a ranger under his tutelage. He made sure I learned to hunt, fish and forage for fruits and vegetables. This was the beginning of my training, guess we all have to start small. After I honed and proved my skills he would start to teach my many other skills. It was during this time I learned the way of the wolf, and modeled my life around this. I learned to become cunning and swift. To use all my senses and not just my eyes as many do. I went on many hunts with him; we hunted any being that threatened to throw off the natural balance of our glen. I met and learned under many other druids and rangers that lived in the areas surrounding our home."

After years of training under Saloren, he told me it was time for me to find my path in life. One night he took me to visit the druidess that lived in the same glen as us. Previous to this I had little contact with her on a personal level, but it amazed me to find out how much she knew of me. She prayed to God and used her divining powers to learn what she could of my future. Little did I know then that she was also to give me some clues to my past. She told me the ring was my birthright, and that I am from a sect of elves that were killed for their beliefs. She did not elaborate more on my past except to tell me my surname was Kunibert, which means brave and bright. She told me no more of my past, and instead focused on my future. She told me I would walk the path of darkness, but as such would be a beacon of light for the hopeless. I would become both well known, and unknown. The last item of knowledge she had imparted to me was that I had a secret deep inside of me. That in time I would learn of it, and in fact I had been battling with it for years, but had not come to terms with it as of yet. I knew better than to ask questions in regards to what was said; I knew the visions were flashes, and not lengthy explanations. To ask the druidess to elaborate more on them would be as futile as trying to kill a bear with a switch. After she had finished we ate what was to be my last meal in the glen. It was the best meal I had ever eaten during my twenty-some years in the glen, or so at least that is how I am to remember it. We sat for hours talking of many things, our adventures in the glen, our past, and our dreams. After a long night of companionship Saloren and I made our way back home.

On the way he and I continued our conversation. I asked him for his insight into what the druidess had spoken of. He was pensive for a little while. Then he finally broke his silence and said to me “You know Varg, it does not matter much what I think on the matter. It is important that you figure it out. The only insight I can give you is this. You are a very good soul, and as such you will always do what is right. I know you will have many struggles to overcome, but I am very confident in your ability to do just that. One piece of advice I give to you however is to never become complacent, for to do this you will lose your edge and are apt to take the wrong path. Other than that I have a feeling your life will be one grand adventure after another till one day you finally settle down and have children.” Saloren then bursts out into laughter. I in turn jabbed him in the ribs and started running towards our home. He picked up after me, and somehow as usual he was able to beat me to our home. Both of us soon settled down to sleep that night.

My sleep was restless, for many reasons. First it would be my last night in the glen; I was both sad and anxious. Secondly, I was pondering all the druidess had said to me. What did it all mean? I prayed to God many times on that night, and have since. I had little understanding of what was to happen in my life after that night.

That morning I awoke tired from the lack of sleep, but excited about what was ahead of me. Saloren made sure I had enough provisions to get to my destination. He gave me a map that would lead me to Burghast, the nearest city. He had told me when I get there to find my way to the Inn of the Black Dagger; there I was to ask for Erstan. With that Saloren and I exchanged a hug and a handshake. Saloren had become the closest thing to a brother I had ever known in my life, and I was saddened to leave. But in my heart I knew he was right, I would be wasting my life’s path away if I was to stay here any longer. So with that I mounted Belenus said my last goodbye. As I rode off I took my last look at what had been my home.

I rode several days with little excitement, or distraction. I lived off the land as I had grown accustom to. As I got close to the end of my travels, I decided to spend one last night in the wild. I made my camp collected my dinner, and settled down for the night. I thought and prayed on what my future held for me. That night I was restless, my sleep was filled with visions of a battle. I witnessed a fight between a wolf-like creature and a man. The man was dressed in fine adornment, and put up a valiant struggle. But the struggle was to no avail, for soon the creature overtook the man and killed him. I awoke that morning disturbed by my visions. I pondered the vision while I packed up my camp and got ready to make the last of my journey to Burghast. Once on the road I left behind my vision of the night, and started to prepare myself for what lie ahead.

Within the hour I arrived to the small city. I easily found my way to the inn thanks to the maps Saloren gave me. I lead my horse to the stable and asked the attendant to take good care of Belenus. He looked surprised when I flipped him a gold coin. I then made my way into the inn. I settled myself into a corner table, to try to slip into the background to no avail. As I settled myself I noticed a lot of people eyeing me. At that time I chose to ignore them. I waited for the barmaid to come by, of which she was never gracious enough to do. So, finally I stood up and made my way to the bar. The innkeeper just stared at me.

After a moment I finally spoke up since no one else was going to. “I am looking for Erstan, can you help me find him?”

The innkeeper looks at me and finally speaks, “I know of him, what do you want of him?”

I respond, “A friend of mine has sent me to seek him out, he said Erstan could help me on my adventure.”

The innkeeper responded, “And who might this friend be?”

“That friend would be Saloren.”

The innkeeper visibly relaxes and starts to chuckle. “So how is the old elven hermit? I haven’t seen him for ages.”

“He is well, am I to assume then that it is Erstan I am speaking to.”

“Aye, Erstan is I. So, what can I do you for?”

I respond, “My name is Varg Kunibert, I have come to seek my path in life. Saloren told me to start my adventure by seeking you out.”

From there we had a lengthy conversation. We talked about the adventures Saloren and Erstan had in their younger years. Saloren was the nature nut as Erstan so gleefully put it, and he was the stealthier one. Erstan was always saving Saloren from some misadventure to hear him speak of it. After listening to him for what seemed to be hours, he finally directed his conversation towards me. I talked about my adventures and training under Solaren, and then finished with the recent information bestowed upon me by the druidess. Erstan then thought on my story and offered to teach me what he knew. So, for the next several years I was to learn the ways of a rogue under Erstan’s tutelage. During this time I worked with him around the inn, and spent my spare time learning various skills from the local merchants. Erstan was kind enough to introduce me Frip. Frip was the person in charge of handling local business. I was able to go on many small adventures through the work he provided me. I helped fight off a rogue band of orcs, sniff out a spy from another cities guild, and defend many merchant caravans just to list a few. I quickly made a name for myself. It was here that I realized what the druidess meant by: ” I would walk the path of darkness, but as such would be a beacon of light for the hopeless.” I was quickly learning to handle my business through my experience in stealthy endeavors, but little did I know then that there was more to come.

In the time I was in Burghast, there were many reports through the years of brutal slayings. It was usually chalked up to a wolf since there were many claw and bite marks on the victims. The main unanswered question was why they would go into the house to kill one victim and leave several others unharmed. But not many questioned this since the ones being killed were known to be evil men. The first victim was the city mayor; he was disliked because of the high taxes he levied. He taxed so much because as he said the city needed it to provide basic services like guards. Yet while he lived in a stately manor house, the majority of his citizens lived in squalor. The second victim was the local priest; a lot of people were very concerned after this. When the local officers investigated however they found out much disturbing information about the priest. He was actually a demon worshipper, and had been misleading many of the poor. As well he was using the tithes for his own greedy purposes. He had funded the slayings of many of his superiors through the years in order to move up in the ranks of the church. The third slaying of note was of a local merchant. Through the investigation it was found he was funding a band of thieves. These were the same thieves that had been harassing caravans, and stealing from many people. The merchant was using them to fill his greedy coffers with many artifacts, paintings, sculptures and such. There were several more murders, but with each successive investigation the people of Burghast were less concerned. Everyone murdered was found to have been doing many wrongs deeds.

Soon, I found that I was ready to move on. I had spent about ten years in the town, and had made the city much safer to live in. Through those years I had trained many people that would be more than capable to fill my position. The towns folk were sad to see me go, but knew it was time for me to move on. On the night before my departure, the city threw a huge celebration in my honor. During the celebration I was shocked to get a visit from the local priest, Solas. He had replaced the slain priest several years ago, and had not said much to me through those years.

Solas said, “Varg may I have your ear for a short time? I have some news I would like to impart to you.”

“Is this so important to drag the guest of honor away from the celebration?”

“You should know by now that I would not interfere in such festivities if it were not important. And I am afraid I will not be able to discuss it with you tomorrow before you leave.”

“Okay, let us go for a walk so we can talk in a somewhat less noisy environment.”

I then excuse myself from the festivities momentarily, assuring everyone that I was to return as soon as I was finished with my unexpected business. The priest and I then get far enough away for no one to hear, and for us to have a peaceful conversation. What the priest was to tell me was to strike right to the core of my being.

“Varg I have some disturbing news for you, but I am unsure as to how I should present it to you.”

“Solas you should know me enough by now to know I am not much for stuff and fluff.”

“I know but this will be very disturbing.” Sighs, “Before you leave I must let you know you are the one who killed all those people.”

“What? How dare you accuse me of such things, you know as well as I do that it was a wolf that did it.”

“Varg I am sorry, I knew this would be disturbing to you. It has been very disturbing to me as well. You also know it was no wolf that did it, I am just forcing you to face what your skills had already told you long ago. The tracks were wolf-like but you have always known this was no ordinary wolf. You know better than I that wolves never behave in this manner, they never venture into cities of this size, and they always hunt in packs do. Even I without the skill you have know this much.”

“Okay, so you got me there, but I never investigated further since the ones who were slain deserved what happened to them. Nonetheless, this does not mean I did it. So, what makes you say it is me, we both know I am no animal.”

“Perhaps you should take a seat, and please let me finish what I am about to say before you respond. The night the merchant died, I had been ministering to Pilas. Pilas was on his deathbed, and had requested for me to pray with him through the night. He died within the hour I arrived, thankfully he is in the hands of God now. But afterwards I could not sleep; I was filled with emotion of witnessing the death of a good citizen. As I was walking around I noticed the doorway opened to the merchants house. Just as I started to head in the direction of the house, I saw a being emerge from the doorway. What I saw still chills me to this day. It was what is commonly called a werewolf. I prayed to God to protect me, and as much as I wanted to run away I was compelled to follow it. Somehow it never picked up I was following it, or it didn’t care that I was following it. Finally it stopped outside your house, and then I saw it enter. I followed it inside, and was about to react for fear of your safety till I was shocked at what I saw next. I saw you sleeping where last I had seen the werewolf. I looked around to make sure I was not imagining what I had assumed happened. After looking around for about half and hour, I decided to go and investigate the merchants home. When I got there I had seem first hand what the werewolf had done to him. I had heard how ferocious the attacks were but never expected what I saw. I prayed about it for months, till it happened again. I was walking the streets praying, as I was unable to sleep. As I was walking I saw the werewolf exiting your house. As soon as it had left from my sight I went into your house in fear of finding you dead. To my shock you were not dead, you were not even there. So I decided to wait out of view hoping God would protect me of and when the creature came back. And as I had suspected it did come back. And again to my shock, I saw it lay in your bed then slowly transform into you. It was then that I knew beyond a doubt that you were the creature that was slaying these evil men. I never said or did anything, because I believe you are serving God’s purpose. I am still disturbed that you actually did not know this. I thought you might have had knowledge of your deeds and purpose. I am sorry to be the one who tells you, for I know we have not many opportunities to talk and have not been friends of sort. I have prayed for understanding of this, and God has given me an answer to this situation.”

“Answer? How about this? Questions; how are my questions to be answered. Why me? To what end? I mean…I can’t believe…why me…” I continued to mumble, lost in my own thoughts till Solas snapped me out of it a few seconds later.

Solas then continues, “Look Varg, I told you this would be hard to accept and understand. But I could not let you leave tomorrow without imparting this knowledge onto you. I would have told you sooner but I did not expect you to leave us so soon. I had thought and hoped you were to be our protector, but now I see God has other purposes for you. He has imparted this boon onto you to serve his purpose. I know you are not much of a believer, but we do not always have the decision as to who he is going to use to serve his purpose. He has told me that I was to tell you off this before you left, for He wants you to learn to use this power he has given to you. So I was chosen to be the one to deliver His message. You are to learn to lean on Him, and learn from Him how you are to control this power. You are to become His servant, and deliver His justice.”

“I guess I have no choice for to disobey God is to be destroyed. I know my life is in His hands and it is in His choice as to where I go and what I do. I know I still have a choice of sorts, but if I decide against Him my path will be made more difficult. I will still be forced to do His bidding. Don’t mistake what I say for being against this, but I am not happy about being forced into this. I am still absorbing all of it. I mean why me? I am still in shock…”

I continued to ramble, but after what seemed like forever Salos finally grabbed my attention again. He then reminded me of the celebration. I did return and did my best to be in the best of spirits, but the knowledge of what I am was still weighing on me. After the festivities died down I went to my house and tried to get some sleep before my departure. Try as I may I could not sleep. I spent the remainder of the night between prayer and finishing up on my packing for the trip. I was finally able to sleep once I had completely exhausted myself. I slept for about three hours, but I still felt like I had not slept at all.

That day I awoke restless and tired, but knew what I had to do. God had put on me a path I must take. I said my good-byes and mounted Belenus. I headed out of town, as I reached the edge of town I passed the church. I looked in the windows for a sighting of Salos. I was happy to see him coming outside as I was passing. He said what I assume was a little prayer under his breath, and then he waved and said goodbye. I waved back then had Belenus start to gallop out of town. I had the road ahead of me, and my past behind me. I was not sure where I was going to go, but I knew somehow that God would show me the way. I was lost in my thoughts and prayers for what seemed like weeks. Then one day it came to me in a vision. I was shown the glory of an Elven city. God told me I was to go there, and was to ask for Mavigan for she would lead me to many answers that I would be seeking. And while in the services of her I would be able to exact much justice in the name of Him. So, as I mounted up on that day I was somehow filled with a fervor. I was ready, and for the first time had fully accepted what God had in store for me. Through the many days I learned through prayer how to control my were-form. By the time I made it to my destination I had a firm, but not a full understanding, of the power God had bestowed upon me. My years of mercenary work would now be tested to there fullest.

As I got closer to the Elven city I decided to scout the area for a bit. Using my skills of stealth I found out enough of the city to have an understanding of what was going on. They had a new Queen, due to the murder of the King and Queen. Mavigan was in fact a priestess, which I was not surprised by. I caught tidbits about a war with some one who was trying to usurp the throne. After a couple days I figured I had enough information to be prepared for what was ahead of myself. I then proceeded to dismantle my camp and make my way to the city gates. Thus is my story up to the point I met the gatekeepers and Wilhelm.

Written by Ariana

Mavigan breathed a small sigh of relief as Ithramir rode ahead of the small party, leading them to their destination. As soon as he moved out of range, the incredible pressure she had been feeling lifted, and the slight burning sensation along her skin ebbed. She had tried to hide her uneasiness, but when Wilhelm began his attempts to reassure her about Ithramir, Mavigan realized that she had failed.

With half an ear, she listened to Wilhelm as he offered her comfort. Words describing Ithramir’s loyalty, dedication, and good nature poured from Wilhelm’s lips. Mavigan took it all with many proverbial grains of salt. She had no doubt that her Cousin was a “good” fellow, and she did not view him as an enemy – but she also knew better than to consider him friend. Her skin still crawled with the memory of unfamiliar sensations. She didn’t know what it meant, but she knew to be wary – regardless of family ties.

It was with a sense of liberation that she accepted Wilhelm’s offer to ride in the back surrounded by new faces – and one old one. Besides, she thought, Ever-present Willie was starting to get on her nerves.

Guiding Argent towards the back of the column, she fell in step with the ones called Ardwenn and Varg, and before long, the party was moving at a leisurely pace behind Ithramir.

She listened with interest to the conversation around her, and when Ardwenn rather tactlessly inquired about her blood, Mavigan merely pushed her hair behind two delicately pointed ears, and continued to ride. She figured that this distinguishing feature would be enough of an answer.

She gazed with unabashed curiosity at the little dwarf, who was currently keeping Ever-present Willie company. Dwarves intrigued her, and always had since she was a wee tot. It often annoyed her Mother that she displayed more interest in learning about the Dwarves than she did learning about her own Elven heritage. Mavigan couldn’t help it – Dwarves were a fascinating folk. Hardy and strong, confident and fun-loving, loyal and blunt – all qualities she had heard were traits of the Dwarven people. She hoped she had time to find out if the stories were true.

The debate between Keeryn, Alaric, and this strange Elf was interesting and drew her attention back to her group. She was, for the most part content to sit back and listen. She could not resist rolling her eyes at Alaric, however, when he went on about dying honorably and for Queen and Country. What a load of crap.

"I don't know about that proverb of yours though. What is the point of fighting a battle you know you will lose unless there is no other choice? Would it not be better to run and come back at a time of your choosing when the POSSIBILITY, however slim, of victory exists?"

Mavigan listened closely to Keeryn, and a small smile crossed her face. Perhaps she had finally found a likeminded individual.

“I agree with you Keeryn. In the end, Death cares not how we die – whether it is with honor or not, whether it is stupid or not, whether it is premature or not. The death of my parents certainly proves that. There is certainly nothing honorable about being murdered in your bed, after all.”

“No. To prove one’s worth, one must survive. Because you certainly can’t do anything after you are dead.”

She turned briefly to Ardwenn, “As for sparring, many of us in this land see it as a good way to practice and build skills. Not all of us are as adept with weapons as yourself.”

Written by Ardwen

Ardwen visibly winced at Mavigan's comment about sparing, "Forgive me," he began softly, "I must needs remember that I am in a foreign land, and not all is arrayed as I would see fit. Very well Keeryn, you shall have your match and my apology besides, I shall endeavor in the future to keep clearly in mind that we will most likely serve in battle together, and it is imperative that we know how one another fights, so that we might perform our best for the queen. Forgive me if you can of my earlier contempt at the notion Keeryn, it will not happen again." Ardwen said that, and meant it. Mavigan had revealed her bloodline, strong and true. Her word was now law to him, if she said frog, Ardwen would jump.

Ardwen listened to both Keeryn's and Mavigan's comment about his proverb and ideal and spoke saying, "Bereth Mavigan," he began using his people's word for queen, "it is ever a sad and unfortunate occurrence when anyone must face their death. I grieve for your parents' unfortunate demise; I will dance for vengeance when I meet those who did such a vile deed, gurth gothrim lye! Nevertheless, I beg you consider, if I might be so bold, the implications of a warriors life. We face death everyday, and in more forms than we care to number. It is imperative that a warrior come to grips with death, he must, otherwise the experiences on the battlefield will drive him mad!"

Ardwen paused a bit to make his point clear, "Many do not have the choice of when they are to die. And for some this luxury is practically nonexistent." He paused for a minute to gesture toward himself and Alaric, "We must be prepared with the facts, and that is: while we serve our causes, crusades, wars, kings and queens, any moment may be our last. The only thing we can ask for in our deaths is that we not die in vain. Even that, however, it often beyond our power, so what are we to do? We must make the one decision that is ever ours: to die faithful to what we lived for."

Ardwen glanced about, for some reason he felt he could be speaking in Elven and have the same luck expressing himself. He never was a bard or much of a scholar, but this felt to important to him, so imperative that he be understood. He attempted once more, "It is duty that drives us to this you see. You ask what is the purpose of dying unless you are certain you are going to lose? 'Even when it seems certain you will lose, retaliate.' It does not say to leap onto your foes weapon, what it is trying to prevent is from one dying a cowards death, from surrendering and asking what the purpose of fighting on is. A man often picks up a sword to defend something sacred at the furthest reaches of his memory, a man often wields a sword, so that he may die with a smile, beyond the reach of his memory." Ardwen finished and bowed his head again in respect.

Written by Vylia

"Let us believe for a moment that we have been surrounded by the enemy, and we have no chance of winning the fight, for they far outnumber us. Now let us assume that our enemy has given us the chance to surrender, what you are suggesting is to die like a fool, instead of having the chance to escape and fight again another day. Of course, that is assuming the demands they make are reasonable, living a life of slavery is certainly not something to agree to just to insure your survival, BUT what if you were only a small part of a larger force? Would slavery for a time not be better, trusting in the rest of your forces to stage a rescue, rather than to die knowing you were unable to help the cause you are fighting for in any way, or allowing you to sabotage the enemy from within? Perhaps the Queen herself is a part of this group? If surrender insured her survival, for I know not how your enemy would truly act, would it thus not be better to hope a rescue was staged so that the fight could continue?" Keeryn takes a deep breath and continues, "Of course, if you were the last of your force, or they had no intention of keeping your Queen alive then of course I would fully expect to fight and die, in fact were I in your shoes I would attempt to create a wedge through the enemy that the Queen could escape through, because while dying for no purpose or for a hopeless battle is pointless, dying to protect and save ones home and leader are the epitomy of honor."

Written by Turin Wallace

Ithramir had been content to be left in the front of the group, far enough ahead to lead the group, but close enough to still distinguish their conversations with his acute hearing. His mind wandered a bit until he heard Keeryn say,

"I don't know about that proverb of yours though. What is the point of fighting a battle you know you will lose unless there is no other choice? Would it not be better to run and come back at a time of your choosing when the POSSIBILITY, however slim, of victory exists?"

Yet, the worst was to come when Mavigan obviously agreed with this cat-thing's words, because she uttered,

“No. To prove one’s worth, one must survive. Because you certainly can’t do anything after you are dead.”

A deep anger arose in Ithramir. Was it because she was half-human that she uttered those words of contempt? Was it because she did not know her duty? It mattered not. In a moment, Ithramir wheeled around to level his gaze at her, and the group. He turned around in time to here Ardwen speak,

"It is duty that drives us to this you see. You ask what is the purpose of dying unless you are certain you are going to lose? 'Even when it seems certain you will lose, retaliate.' It does not say to leap onto your foes weapon, what it is trying to prevent is from one dying a cowards death, from surrendering and asking what the purpose of fighting on is. A man often picks up a sword to defend something sacred at the furthest reaches of his memory, a man often wields a sword, so that he may die with a smile, beyond the reach of his memory."

Ardwen's words somewhat cooled Ithramir's indignation yet, with his eyes fixed upon the girl, he adds,

"Again, you have much to learn young Queen. Your words were spoken hastily and no doubt show you have much growing up to do. Ardwen has the gist of it, we fight and die for a purpose. A dream. An ideal. You fight because you have no other choice. You fight because you give your enemy no quarter and you expect none in return. You make the enemy bleed for every inch of ground he wishes to take from you. You do not flee from your enemies, ever. The history of my..."

The more he spoke, his tone increasingly got angrier. Pausing briefly, he then continued,

"The history of our people's has taught us to face our enemies, not flee from them. Ask any elf, ask any dwarf, ask any of your Northmen who have faced the barbarous orcs in battle. Ask them the price they paid for their freedom. Ask them the number of desperate, hopeless battles fought to hold on to their land and their ideals. Listen as they tell you that those lives lost were not in vain. They fought and died so that others, like you may live."

As he spoke his mind recalled the many he knew that sacrificed themselves so that he too could live another day. Mavigan's words had angered him, though he knew she could not grasp the implications of her words, he would not idly sit by and let his blood relation and ally speak of fleeing before an enemy.

He could see the whole groups eyes fixed on him now, his anger plain for all to see. As he finished his pause, he then calmly states,

"I would suggest, dear cousin, that until you learn more of the ways of war you refrain from speaking of them. We will speak more on this later."

Slowly turning his mount, his eyes fixed on the group as he was doing so, Ithramir starts riding again leading the group to their destination.

Written by Ariana

The hair on the back of her neck began to stand on end as Ithramir guided his horse closer to their small group. The expression in his eyes was anything but pleasant.

Mavigan tensed, waiting for his attack.

It came swiftly, a barrage of words charged with anger, contempt, and more than a little disgust. His voice, edged with steel, was designed to cut into her, to make her bleed. And when it was over, he rode off again, leaving her wide-eyed, tense, and unable to reply.

Her eyes narrowed, a glare fixed upon the back of his head and he rode once again to the head of the party. Once he was far enough away, she released a breath she did not realize she had been holding.

She became vaguely aware that an uncomfortable silence had descended upon the small group, each unsure of what to say next. Alaric, must have noticed Mavigan’s distress and attempted to alleviate the tense silence by offering some encouragement. Guiding his horse next to hers, he placed a consoling hand on her shoulder. “I’m sure he didn’t mean….”

Mavigan brushed his hand off her shoulder, cutting his sentence off in mid-sentence. “Yes,” she said quietly, “he did.” With that, she guided her horse a little distance away from the main party. She stayed in sight, though every instinct within her told her to run as fast as her horse could guide her.

Fighting the instinct, she instead began to mull over, her gaze unfocused on the scenery around her. “Well,” she mumbled to herself, “that answers that question.” She now knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Ithramir hated her, and that Wilhelm was in no way a reliable judge of character. She had noticed his hesitation, and now understood from whence his hatred stemmed. Ithramir was an Elf, a full-blooded member of an elite race of peoples. Wilhelm was a human. Though Ithramir would consider that a demotion in status, at least Wilhelm was still pure. She, however, was a half-breed. Blood from both races ran through her veins; she was a part of two cultures, but belonged to neither.

Mavigan had heard stories about her Mother’s people. Most of them seemed to indicate that they were not happy with her match. They might could have accepted the fact that she had married a human if no children had been born from the match. The plan had been to select one of Jaedda’s nieces to take over as Avatar of the Goddess when the time came for her Mother to relinquish the title. Instead, her sister Etewen had been named as heir. Allowing a half-breed to serve as Avatar was simply unthinkable!

An evil smirk crossed Mavigan’s face. Obviously Nagarren didn’t find it objectionable since Etewen had been blessed with the gifts. No, it was only the prideful Elves that objected. And that was one of the primary reasons Mavigan had never journeyed to the land of the Elves, and had never met any of her Elven kin until now.

An irrepressible anger filled Mavigan and she gritted her teeth in response. She was angry at her family for dying and leaving her to face this burden alone. She was angry at the people who surrounded her, for putting her in this position and robbing her of her freedom. She was angry at the people who flocked to her for no other reason than she was “Queen”. Each saw her as a figurehead and not an actual person. As long as she was present to do her “duty”, they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about her otherwise.

Though, if she were truly honest with herself, she would acknowledge that she was angry with herself for being inadequate to the task set before her.

She had listened to the bits of information both Ardwenn, and Ithramir had imparted. They talked of ideals and causes and reasons to fight. So, what was her cause, her reason? She had none save to preserve her own skin. If her family were still alive, she would have gladly thrown herself into the fray to preserve their lives. But her family was dead, murdered in their sleep. And she had not been there to protect them.

Some would say she should fight to preserve their memory and their honor. Their memory was safely locked away in her heart – a place where none could take it from her, so there was no one to fight. And how could she defend their honor, when she had none of her own? She had failed them, and that in itself meant she was not worthy to fight in their name.

And who should she be fighting anyway? Ithramir stated in his emphatic way that one should never give an enemy quarter? But who was her enemy? Mavigan’s brow furrowed as she considered this. Obviously, Beridane was her enemy. He had orchestrated the death of her family, after all. Any of his flunkies, were also her enemy. They were the ones trying to remove her from this world. And then, there were the others. Those who had pulled her from her life, stripped her of her freedom, and placed her on this pedestal as if she were something special. They, too, had hurt her. By definition, that would make them enemies as well.

Heaving a great sigh, Mavigan leaned down in her saddle and wrapped her arms around Argent’s neck. “Things are so confusing,” she muttered to him, and the horse gave a small sound of agreement.

Sighing once again, she lifted herself up into the saddle and glanced around, needing a distraction from her unpleasant thoughts. Up ahead, she could just see a set of standing stones rising majestically into the sky. As they began to draw closer, she could see many smaller monuments, all crafted from stone. “This must be the Valley of Gwaloth”, Mavigan said to the horse.

Her excitement began to mount at the thought of a new place to explore, and the slow pace began to annoy her. She grunted with frustration as she gazed at the other travelers who seemed content with the sedate pace. “They can see it, why won’t they go faster?” she groused. Argent flicked an ear in response.

“Maybe they just need some encouragement,” she said lightly, a mischievous smirk crossing her face. One part of her mind said that it would be dangerous to simply rush in, that there could be dangers hiding behind the rocks. “Hmpf,” she said. “I will not live my life in fear. If Death wishes to come for me, the let him. At this point, he’d probably be doing me a favor.”

Her decision made, she raised her voice and called out, “Oi, Wilhelm! Race ya!” She then gave a light slap on Argent’s flank and took off at a full run towards their destination.

Written by Wilhelm

Wilhelm saw Ithramir's angry reaction to Mavigan's speech. When Ithramir then rode back towards Mavigan and began to berate her, Wilhelm knew there would be a problem between Ithramir's stern traditional warrior ways and Mavigan's rebellious youth. They would have to work it out between them, but Wilhelm would have to try to keep Mavigan from any physical harm during the process. Turning to Jague he said, "I believe my services may be needed shortly, so we will have to continue our discussion later."

Wilhelm watched Mavigan closely after Ithramir left her to return to the front, and so was not really suprised when Mavigan challenged him to a race and took off towards the distant glade. They had often raced before during Mavigan's youth, and he knew how much she loved the wind in her face while riding a racing horse. Argent was built for speed and Mavigan was light. Wilhelm was clad in full armor, which was a definite disadvantage in initial speed. Sable, however was built for strength and endurance and intelligence. He was not an ordinary warhorse, but rather a true paladin's charger, sharing Wilhelm's link to the All Father. Sable whinnied with eagerness to take up the challenge.

"My Queen commands and I obey!" He called, getting a little of his own back, and he urged Sable forward, gesturing at Alaric to follow as he could. Sable responded with a might burst of speed and they left the party behind. As expected, Argent drew ahead at first with her increased speed and lighter load, but it was a long race and Sable's greater strength and endurance could well even the match. Wilhelm also knew he needed to stay close to Mavigan in case of danger until the rest could catch up.

Urging Sable forward through their link, he let Sable run the race while he concentrated on scanning the area for enemies. Fortunately, the scan showed only themselves and animals. To avoid injury to Sable from the race and the added weight, he began a healing chant. A faint crimson glow enveloped them both, and the aches and pains from the ride began to fade away with the increased healing rate. Sable increased speed and began to narrow the gap.

Written by Varg

"You need to lighten up Ithramir. I understand your concerns, but words spoke in anger do not make your point any stronger." Varg states to Ithramir.

"I have a bad feeling about this." Varg mumbles under his breathe just as he sees Mavigan charge off.

In response Varg quickly puts Belenus to the test, forcing him into the race at hand. Belenus quickly gains pace on Mavigan, and matches Argent stride for stride. At this point Varg is more worried about the safety of the little group, and especially the Queen, then to worry about winning a race.

"I understand you desire to loosen the mood Mav, but discretion is the better part of valor. As well I have a bad sense of things to come. I suspect we are headed into danger, and it would be wise to procede with caution." Varg says smirkingly to Mavigan. "I would so hate to see someone in my protection come to harm so soon after I take the charge." Varg then lets out a hearty chuckle, and winks at Mavigan.

Just then he urges Belenus into a full charge and pushes ahead of Mavigan just for kicks. Varg was not yet sure of when and where the danger was to come from, but kept his senses focused on his surroundings as to not allow the element of surprise from it. Then he slows down to allow Mav and the others catch up, and to not show off too much.

Written by Turin Wallace

All was quiet as Ithramir kept the lead pace of the group. He could sense Mavigan's anger, as he was sure she could sense his. Admittedly, she was young and rebellious, but these were not assets. Scarily, he felt if left to her she would hand everything over to Beridane. Which is exactly what the butcher of Ancora wanted.

Ithramir will not allow that to happen. Patience was not his greatest virtue, and listening was not hers, but if he was willing to try she should be as well. Tough love will be his course of action until she proves herself more adept at her role of Queen of Ancora. Her sworn defenders may stand on ceremony for her, but Ithramir does not and will not. He, and his people, will protect and fight with Mavigan because her war is just...no matter how ill-tempered either may be.

Contemplating more on how to "teach" Mavigan, he hears Varg ride up and say,

"You need to lighten up Ithramir. I understand your concerns, but words spoke in anger do not make your point any stronger."

Meeting Varg's eyes with his own, Ithramir replies sarcastically,

"Shall I do a little dance, or perhaps even sing my words to her the next time she says something foolish?"

Pausing, Ithramir cooly continues,

"Forgive my reply, Varg. I know you mean well, however, Mavigan is not a person who takes well to "nice" ways of counsel. Her family tried that and she rebelled against them. It is obvious pleasantries are wasted upon her at this time. She may disagree with me, you may disagree with me, but what she needs to understand is that there is at least one person here who doesn't bow or cater to her. She must grow up fast, there is no choice, and there is no time for playing nice."

Studying Varg for a brief second he continues,

"A good soldier stands up for his leader, and I respect that Varg. I mean no harm to Mavigan, only to instruct her where I can and to correct her way of thinking in some areas. However, let me say this clearly for future reference, never again tell me how to handle a family dispute. Take this not so much a warning, just simply friendly advice between rangers."

No sooner than the conversation was over than Mavigan darts off on her horse, with Wilhelm close behind. Varg too rides off behind Mavigan and Wilhelm. Understanding the need for them to release some steam, Ithramir says nothing and continues he leisurely pace into the glade. No point in hurrying too much, there is time to relax and unwind soon enough.

Written by Vylia

Keeryn hears Ithramir's words to Mavigan quite clearly, since she is standing right next to her, and when the girl urges her horse away Keeryn silently follows alongside. She was just about to ask what question exactly had been answered when Mavigan instead yelled out, "Oi, Wilhelm! Race ya!” and charges off toward the nearby stones. Quickly checking to be sure the whip is secured around her waist she runs off behind her, lowering herself to all fours to increase her speed. Even though she knows she can't keep up with one of those beasts it would be better if she was at least nearby if anything should go wrong.

Written by Sycon

Jague heard Wilhelm's words and took a quick understanding. He would have a good conversation later when Wilhelm would find the time. As for now, things were starting to get tense.

"Aye....uh..." was all Jague could get out before Wilhelm took off on his mount.

Soon Varg, Keeryn, and Mavigan were also zipping past Jague. Jague just looked at the lot of them in amazement. A good race was fun, but he never did like mounts, and he wasn't going to start now. He clanked his walking stick on the ground and lifted it into the air with both hands. He then put it across his shoulders and the back of his neck and draped both arms over it. The herb still clinging to the side of his mouth, he walked on as he watched the horses steam further and further.

Jague glances at Ithramir who seems to be one of the only ones to not join in on the race. He looks the elf in the face but seems to get no reaction as he watches Mavigan and the rest. His face seemed like stone, but the rest of him gave away he was fuming a bit.

Jague figured that most entered into the race to follow Mavigan, even to protect her while she would be having fun. While Jague did not ever pledge his life to another, he would protect those who needed it, if the time came. Besides, the fools almost left the back of them wide open. No one ever remembers to look behind them for danger, and that is where danger usually lurks. Jague decided he wasn't going to tire himself out, and the danger behind him gave him that much more of an excuse to stay behind.

Jague would keep up with Ithramir for the time being. " 'ello mate. I take it yer name is Ithramir, aye?" Jague paused for a second to no avail. "Well, it seems dat Mavigan has a mind of'er own, aye?"

Jague wanted to see what Ithramir would say... is he the overbearing father figure, or was he trying to be? Was he a proud man of his race, or a foolhardy man of prejudice. This was Jague prime time to find out.

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