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

Written by Ardwen - Page 17 Book 1

Ardwen listened with increasing interest as Ithramir, in a serious tone, relayed the nature of duty and fighting one's enemies. Ardwen didn't even notice, but before Ithramir was even finished, his head was nodding in agreement with almost every word. When he was finished, Ithramir resumed his leisurely ride as if nothing had occurred, and an awkward silence lay heavily on the group.

Not surprisingly, Mavigan seemed locked deep in contemplation, and steered her steed away from their small group; perhaps she sought solace in solitude. Ardwen mulled over thoughts in his mind, not paying any particular attention to anyone in the company. It was therefore a bit of a shock when Mavigan called out her challenge to Wilhelm to a race, and went speeding off to their destination. Wilhelm followed suit, with Varg joining in after a few brief words with Ithramir.

Ardwen decided it was senseless to race after them, he had developed his skills fighting on foot, which he much preferred to a horse. He looked ahead as Mavigan, Wilhelm, and Varg continued to vie in their race. Ardwen merely shook his head, no reason to charge ahead, attacks that come from the flank can be especially devastating, and he doubted he could match them with his limited abilities on a horse anyhow. Ardwen resolved to ride in closer to Ithramir, and perhaps begin speaking to him.

Ardwen then noticed the stout Dwarf who had named himself Jague walked beside Ithramir and spoke, " 'ello mate. I take it yer name is Ithramir, aye? "Well, it seems dat Mavigan has a mind of'er own, aye?" Ardwen smiled, he couldn't help it, and for some reason he liked the Dwarf. He knew however, that their rough and jovial exterior often belied a fighting determination, and grim defiance, that was both legendary and terrifying. Such innate traits, along with the Dwarves peculiar training in the arts of war and as an apothecary, could prove particularly useful in combat.

Ardwen interjected a second later, "Your pardon master Dwarf, and Ithramir." He gave a slight bow of his head in their direction as a sign of respect and continued, "But when you are done, might I sue for a moment of your time Ithramir?"

Written by Turin Wallace

Riding along, Ithramir notices the dwarf Jague approach him saying,

" 'ello mate. I take it yer name is Ithramir, aye?"

Nodding in the affirmative, the dwarf continued,

"Well, it seems dat Mavigan has a mind of'er own, aye?"

Looking at the dwarf, Ithramir responds,

"Aye, but then, don't we all? She is inexperienced in many things and thrust into a position that demands much. She must learn to think before she speaks on certain topics.

Ah, and it is good to meet your acquaintance, master dwarf."

Settling down and feeling a bit more comfortable in his saddle, Ithramir hears Ardwen say,

"Your pardon master Dwarf, and Ithramir. But when you are done, might I sue for a moment of your time Ithramir?"

Nodding his head to Ardwen, Ithramir says,

"Of course, Ardwen. Until then, talk with us awhile as we watch the rear of our small group."

Ithramir continued his slow pace and the three began talking. Edging ever closer to their rest spot, no doubt where the others already were.

Written by Sycon

Jague listened to the elf, Ardwen, interrupt him. Kind of presumptious of him to start something like that on a kindly stroll. Why didn't these elves have a sense of comfort, why were they always "get business done now." It wasn't really a sign of disrespect to Jague, and he didn't take it that way... just... those rasky Elves. Oh well, Jague would be satisfied with just sitting out a conversation and sitting over by the tree on the edge of the path.

He was glad to hear Ithramir say they could talk later. Maybe not all elves were pure duty. Good to know when you sit back and have a drink with one or two, if they could hold it.

Acknowlegding Ithramir's words to him, Jague continues.

"Yep, I do see dat Mavigan is a tad bit inexperienced, den again, she's a bit o' a youth too. Seem to me dat she been put in a position dat she don' wanna be, eh? Dose ususally make da best leaders once dey come to reigns wit' dere position. If dey don', look fer hard times ahead." Jague paused giving both Ardwen and Ithramir time to soak in his words. "I's a believe she's a know whats shes to do in'er heart, but she's still a youth. She's a bein' rebellious to authority figures." He winked to Ithramir. "I don' think she needs someone's who'll tell'er whats right, I tink she needs a friend dat might voice an opinion on da matter? Maybe dat would help matters, but who knows, I's jus' a dorf."

He turned his attention focused on Ardwen quickly before anyone could have a chance to speak again. "Jus' wonderin' dere Ard? Don' mind if I call ya Ard do ya? How many of me race have yas met? You seems to be eyein' me from time ta time, like I'm short or somethin'." Jague eyes flashed a sign of laughter and enjoyment as a small smile perked at his lips.

Written by Ardwen

Ithramir acknowledged him, "Of course, Ardwen. Until then, talk with us awhile as we watch the rear of our small group." Ardwen bowed his head respectfully again, and a brief smile of gratitude crossed his lips. He thought carefully and tediously about what he wanted to say, and how precisely to say it. Ardwen listened to Jague's words, and was a bit shocked when he addressed him directly.

"Jus' wonderin' dere Ard? Don' mind if I call ya Ard do ya? How many of me race have yas met? You seems to be eyein' me from time ta time, like I'm short or somethin'." Jague eyes flashed a sign of laughter and enjoyment as a small smile perked at his lips.

Ardwen took a deep breath, it was merely coincidence. No reason to draw unreasonable conclusions, now to address Jague, "Ard? That was a nickname many called me in times past. Though the majority of those who decided to call me that were not Elves, it would be an honor if you addressed me as such master Dwarf." Ardwen paused a minute, satisfied, he thought he had handled that quite well without betraying any tension.

Now, however, he had to answer the more difficult question, "How many you ask? I am no stranger to the Naugrim, though they usually spend their time in the earth where I am from. Recently though they have been coming to the surface in increasing numbers, muttering about the "roofless" world. Forgive me if I take particular note of you, because frankly you are the first Dwarf of your fashion I have seen."

Ardwen thought he'd best clarify in case that was taken as an insult, so he hastily added, "Verily, when I heard you were a Dwarf, I expected you to be...ahh...made out of stone. I mean that most literally, for indeed your nature is a sign that I am no longer in lands I am accustomed to."

Ardwen then turned to address Ithramir; he began slowly and carefully, " deeply for her don't you?" He said motioning with one of his hands in the direction Mavigan and several of the group had gone racing off into. "The words you said, you would not say them if you did not care about her. You care about her as a person and not just as the Queen, am I right?"

Ardwen allowed a brief respite to think before adding, "You're a warrior Ithramir, or my ears are round. You know what she will face as an important figure in combat. While Mavigan may hopefully be spared the experiences of the front, she will have to realize a horrible truth. You know, as do I, that people will die - if they have not already- for her. They will not be faceless soldiers she has never met, they will not die far away and unknown, but they will face her enemies and whilst they perish they will yell her name in victory and triumph. You know that she must be strong enough to accept that, otherwise the experience might well drive her mad."

Ardwen did not pause this time but continued right on, "I mean to make no presumptions friend, but that is what it seemed to me. I am not a terrific judge of character, but I am glad that Mavigan has an Elf like you on her side. I am not used to serving under any but battle-hardened generals; this will be quite the experience I think! But, there is more," Ardwen glanced a bit before continuing, "You perhaps overheard the pledge I offered? To Mavigan and those she deemed worthy to protect? If you did then you can naturally assume that the same is extended to you, indeed, how could it not be given that you and I are of the same people? Indeed, so perhaps you could do me a slight favor? Tell me of the Elven affairs here, you do not have to go in detail, I merely desire to know who are the enemies of our people." Ardwen finished, as usual, with a slight incline of his head.

Written by Turin Wallace

As the others were minding their own concerns, the three made their way to a small outcropping of trees and rested themselves. For the most part, little had been said, then after a few words directed at himself and Ardwen, he hears,

"I don' think she needs someone's who'll tell'er whats right, I tink she needs a friend dat might voice an opinion on da matter? Maybe dat would help matters, but who knows, I's jus' a dorf."

Not losing a beat, Ithramir responds,

"She seems to have many of those, master dwarf. I did not say my way of correction was, shall we say, gentle or friendly. However, as a queen, she must learn to think of others before herself. That lesson is yet beyond her grasp.

Still, it seems most of you are not familiar with our ways and my reply to Mavigan seems to have upset many of you. Very well, I shall keep your words in mind, master dwarf."

There was no need to be at each others throats when there were bigger threats to deal with. Both now and in the future there would be hard times, and there was no need to have bitter feelings now. Ithramir knew he was justified in his actions, yet for now, he would attempt to try and be a little more thoughtful of his foreign companions.

As he was thinking, he heard Ardwen begin to speak,

"The words you said, you would not say them if you did not care about her. You care about her as a person and not just as the Queen, am I right?"

Looking to Ardwen, he answers,

"Care about her? My response was made because she did not care about those who gave their lives in service to greater causes. She does not realize her elven heritage and the weight it brings with it. Yet, she is a distant cousin of mine, so it would be unfair to say that I don't have some concern for her well-being. Like anyone else, one must care for family in times of great need, and I cannot think of anyone else who has a greater need than Mavigan."

After a moment, Ardwen spoke some more, and Ithramir replies,

"Yes, Ardwen, I am a warrior. I command the allegiance of over ten-thousand elven troops. Outside of the elven homeland, I am the law. I am the protector of our people in these lands. I have seen battle more than once and I have seen men and women die for their causes. As a leader, one must realize the enormous weight and responsibility this carries. One does not brush their sacrifices aside lightly, as at any moment we may be called upon to answer such a call ourselves."

Seeing Ardwen glance around and then speak, Ithramir then answers him,

"Your offer of service is most welcome. Your blade shall no doubt find a place of honor in our ranks.

Now, as to elven affairs, I am afraid things are not looking well. The elven homeland is weak and xenophobic. Where once our homeland wished to continue to support our lands here, now we recieve little to none. Our people are a mockery and lack the fortitude to see the plight of these lands. We, the rangers of the citadel, have now had no fresh troops or supplies for months. I fear we are abandoned to our fates.

Our enemies are numerous. The savage orcs, our enemy since the dawning of the world, are knocking at the gates to the civilized lands. Rumors from distant lands have said that a malevolent air brings the undead to life. Beridane and his humans are our new enemies. Orcs to the east, a ghastly swamp and scorched desert lay to the south, and the renegade humans lay to the north. Our only respite is the sea to the west. We are surrounded, good friends, and it is only a matter of time before our enemies come crashing down on us."

Letting the grim news sink in while the three look at the unsuspecting group members enjoy the day, Ithramir then starts up,

"However, we are not the only pocket of resistance against this evil tide. To the north of the human kingdom, in the mountains and glacial lands, dwarves and northmen are holding against the orcs and rumored undead advance. They too, like us, are isolated and unable to even attempt a link up of forces. To do that, the human lands, they retaken. Otherwise, our enemies can annihilate one then move to the other."

Pulling out a small bottle of wine from his steeds travel pack, he offers it around, then takes a small drink himself. Looking to Ardwen, he says,

"I wish I had better news to tell you, gwador."

Leaning against a tree, Ithramir feels a warm breeze play across the field as he hears those with him talk.

Writte by - Ardwen

Ardwen listened to Ithramir's words with interest, especially the part concerning the state of the Elven lands, when Ithramir offered him the wine he kindly refused. "So," Ardwen thought, "The situation here is not much different than the one I recently departed from. I can continue my fight here, and at last I may taste victory!" Turin spoke on about the isolation of the various pockets of resistance, and the critical importance of securing the human lands.

Ardwen nodded his head and began softly, "It would appear that the circumstances here differ little to those from which I came from. Surrounded, outnumbered, with enemies knocking at our very door. Since I'll be serving under you, and since this is likely one of the few calm moments we will have in coming times, perhaps it's a good idea to let you know more about myself."

Ardwen allowed a considerable pause before starting. Ardwen's left hand moved unconsciously to the hilt of one of the blades he wore on his hip, he hastily jerked it away and placed it upon a nearby sapling. Taking a deep, unsteady breath he began, choking out each word as it if hurt, "I was once...a warrior of faith. I fought for the All-Father, whom we named Pandarrion. I am one of the eldest of my people, but for a long time our paths were divergent."

"When I heard that Wilhelm followed the All-Father, I almost went into shock. Pandarrion has been silent for some time in my world. Maybe the All-Father came here, or maybe they're entirely different gods, that I know not. But that's of little concern to me right now. During my time in the Church, I made many friends, loyal allies and adventurers. We did mighty deeds in the name of the light, striking against the growing shadow of our world."

Ardwen paused again, and he slid his hand down the smooth bark of the tree, pity he was wearing a gauntlet, "But...our greatest threat did not rest in the outside iniquity of the world. A threat arose from within; one of our own turned against us, the treachery it brought upon us required a great sacrifice to deal with it. Suffice to say many of those I called brother in battle bore the burden stoically. In the end, by their selfless deeds the name of the Church I followed under was saved, but the cost was high."

Ardwen let his hand wander to the longer sword on his right hip's side; he drew the slightly curved single-edged blade, allowing the end of it to rest in his right hand so the cutting edge faced up. Ardwen let it rest there, feeling it's weight and admiring it before continuing, "Many of my friends perished, I lost so much that was dear to me. It was not enough though; the treachery we had suffered reared its head and occupied the sight of the former Church, though our good name was saved. I became bitter and delusional with the world, but most of all I hungered for vengeance."

Ardwen drew his eyes from the blade to look at Ithramir, "In the north, in the bitter cold I found it. During the long years that had passed since the Elven race first emerged, it had suffered much. By the hands of both the divine and mortal means we had been brought to the final defense. Our empire had been broken, our people slaughtered, and our lands seized. Great crusades in the names of gods that no longer cared for us were led by petty kingdoms."

A bitter twisted smile touched Ardwen lips as he spoke, "I found there, in the utmost north, an answer amongst the ice and snow. A remnant of a remnant of my kin, who refused to yield to the cruel tide of time, who refused to surrender to the whims of fate. In honor of their defiance, their refusal, they called themselves the "Avari". They promised me vengeance against not just the ones who had wronged myself and my fallen brothers in arms, but to all whom had wronged the Elven people! I pledged my blade to them, and became a slayer!"

"Ai, how my soul burned! For there was to be no mercy to our foes, and the deeds we committed we did in the name of our dying people. We had nothing left, those who came to join us, we took the motto that each of us, "danced for vengeance." We raged through the north, claiming the lives of many, entire villages and towns were put to the sword. you understand me when I say this? I, once a warrior of the light, even children."

Ardwen paused once more, his eyes grew misty with grief and tears, "I couldn't believe what I was doing at times, but the promises they gave me did not prove false. I had vengeance, the servants of the false Church came to fear me, and my name became both respected and reviled through all the lands. But our victories were never enough, our numbers few when in times of yore the Elven host stood many. Our foes gathered to crush us once and for all if possible. Their forces began moving into what little land we held, whilst we struck at their supply lines as best we could."

"But it was not enough, soon a massive force supplied with the finest armor and weapons was amassed outside our sole city...little more than a glorified outpost by Elven standards. On the eve of this siege, at the rising of the sun...I found I am not certain how, nor am I certain of the fates of those I left behind. It seems I am left to do with myself what I think is best, and so I shall. I sometimes wonder though, if I have always chosen the best course. I will not lie Ithramir, when I looked at Wilhelm I felt an overpowering shame. A warrior of righteousness, like my dear friends were, like I once was, it grieved me to consider how far from that lofty path I have fallen."

Ardwen sheathed the blade and leaned back against the young sapling he had placed his hand on moments before. Ardwen allowed his mind to wander, he felt as if a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. Closing his eyes he said softly, "Perhaps at last, I can earn redemption."

Written by - Turin Wallace

After listening to Ardwen, Ithramir looks to him and says,

"Every warrior must come to terms with what his duty requires him to do. Our business is killing, not for pleasure, but because it is a means to an end. Every warrior is a contradiction, we love life yet take it when it is necessary. We learn, deep inside, to live with the horrible things we do. That is why we fight, even die if called on, for ideals that are greater than us. That is our redemption, to die knowing we have done our duty for something good and greater than any of us. That is what seperates us from the depraved who fight for themselves and their own interests."

Pausing briefly, he adds,

"If you seek redemption then I hope you find it, Ardwen. I cannot say how you will find it, for each living thing must find it themselves, but I will be glad to have you stand with us. Do not judge yourself too harshly, brother, for all of us have flaws and have made errors. To overcome and learn from them is all that can be asked from us by our gods and godesses."

As the group grew quiet, Ithramir drinks deeply from his glass. Looking about, he says

"If only the world was as it is right here. People at rest, relaxing, safe from harm. It is sad such appearances are so decieving. Outside of our borders armies are being rallied and would destroy all that we have. So let our thoughts wander onto lighter things for the time being. There will be time later to ponder our fates and our redemptions."

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn decided she was bored... they had all had a nice race, of which she came in last of course, dang four-legged beasts were faster than a boar. But now everyone was just sitting there, laying on the ground or against something, and not saying a word. "Time to change that," she says to herself as she gets up and walks over towards Mavigan. "Hello again Ms. Mavigan... do you mind if I sit here?"

Written by - Sycon

Jague had been silent after his last comment. It seems his words brought more discomfort to those he gave them too. He had even refused the wine that was offered to him, a rarity that any dwarf should not be seen doing. If any of his family were here, he'd never hear the end of it.

The mood of the people were changing. From a tense ride, a small arguement, a blood pumping race, to now a slower pace of topic. Jague feared this the most. This was a time which words and emotions could easily fly high, and there was no place to displace their feelings but onto each other.

The conversations seemed to be focused onto the new comers, such as himself... though he was grateful that it was not centered on him. Keryn and Ardwen had made their move to find their way into thier niches. It seemed Keryn was determined to find a way close to Mavigan, whether for good or not, though Jague did not suspect a thing from the feline.

Ardwen seemed to be venting some of his hidden feelings to a companion elf. Both seemed to share many feelings on the topic of Mavigan, but there was a subtle difference between the two... but what, Jague could not asctertain yet.

It seemed, from what he had heard from these people, that the wars they had been fighting were tough and long. It seemed that it would only be a matter of time before one of the allies would crumble and make it that much more difficult for the rest, but Jague saw deeper into the lives of these people. It was not a nation or a war that needed saved as he had first thought, but the people here. Each seemed to be warring with their own inner demons, in one way or the next. Some had come to terms with their demons, others had only supressed them, but in either case, the demons were still apparant.

He looked around, trying to see who else realized it, but found each face determined on some topic, or trying to make conversation. The following time would be rough, he knew, and the worst was yet to come. But now was not the time for him to start, it was not his time to dig any deeper into these people's past. The best thing he could do would keep spirits high. If he could get them to cut loose a bit and release a bit of tension. He'd show them a real dwarven party if they would let him.

Jague started out with a small hum, letting the words of the conversations sink away in his mind as he felt each word as they made their way to his lips and formed into words. It was a popular song among the dwarves, and any that had met a dwarf probably knew the words.

"Jermiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend o'mine, I could never understand a single werd he said, But I helped'em drink his wine."

He continued with his words into the song getting louder and louder, he didn't care if the others followed his lead or if he was simply being the center of entertainment. Either way, he was being noticed and either laughing at him or joining with him, they were hopefully forgetting their differences between themselves, just for a short time...

Written by - Turin Wallace

Ithramir sat atop his horse and pondered the state of things as he rode ahead of the main pack. It wasn't that the company was bad, no, far from it. However, he enjoyed riding alone before the onset of darkness, when the cool evening breeze lifted his spirits.

Breathing in deeply, he empties his mind for a few moments, enjoying the forest trail. He wonders how many times will he be able to enjoy days like these, as the steady cloud of war looms larger every minute. How many have they lost already? How many will soon join them? It is hard to say.

Above all, is the price too high to place Mavigan back on her father's throne?

Breathing deeply once more, Ithramir honestly doesn't know the answer. By taking her in he has taken an awful gamble with his peoples lives. There is no turning back now. Yet, that was not what bothered him. It was Mavigan's youthful naivety about the dire consequences that had him worried. She spent the day frolicking about the glade, and while that may be good therapy, she now has more pressing matters to deal with. So far, she has not given him a reason to continue supporting her in the endeavor to place her back on the throne, yet she was part kin and that is the reason she has his support...for now. In his mind, Ithramir quietly hopes she gives him a reason to send his people to death for more than that. Elven blood is too precious a commodity to waste on vanity in this age.

Tired of thinking on these matters, Ithramir once again clears his mind and breathes in deeply. The scent of the forest now grows stronger as the cool evening begins to form dew upon the vegetation. They should be home before darkness sets in and their meals will be ready when they arrive. Looking back all he see's is an ever reddening sun and a motley assembly of those sworn to Mavigan following him. He then glances forward and smiles a bit as he enjoys his advance position, and the quiet it brings.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen rode calmly, at least he tried to, on his horse near the rear of the group. Ithramir had pulled ahead of the party; he seemed pensive now, as if thoughts bloomed and died in his head every moment. Secretly though, Ardwen fumed on the inside. He was not pleased with himself, how he had confided a large part of his past so readily, he felt like a fool. But the real reason that bothered him was the why of it. Why had he spoken so easily and readily?

Ardwen thought he knew why, but he did not desire to admit it. He trusted Ithramir, he even liked the companions Mavigan had gathered around her! But there was something more, some quality about Ithramir made Ardwen think of those old friends he had seen vanish in the twilight of his life. It was nonsense of course, but the fact still remained that Ardwen had done what he had rarely done before: confide in another.

Sighing, Ardwen reached his left arm around to stroke the hilt of the large blade on his back, it comforted him somewhat. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps he was looking too deep into this. The problem could be he was simply too long away from a battlefield. He had spent the past ninety-eight years of his life fighting one war or another, and now he was in a world where people afforded time to frolic in meadows! Ithramir had said the clouds of war were gathering, no, that they were upon their very gates. Perhaps soon Ardwen could forget himself in battle again, bury his pain in the sweet oblivion of rage and combat. Oh how he hoped it would be soon . . .

Written by - Archeantus

The shadows crept up to the Citadel, as the blazing sun retreated down past the large mountains that framed the large structure. Coming along with the wave of shadow were the dark figures that eagerly, calculatingly made their way closer and closer to the Elven fortress.

Their leader reared his dark mare and halted the rest of the group. They had been traveling away from the common road that led directly to the Citadel, in the recesses of the forest.v

“Master, I can smell the noxious scent of my kind. They are near.” A voice whispered close behind him.

Gadianton looked peculiarly back at the dark robed necromancer. He seemed to consider something and then turned fully to address the group he had gathered from every corner of this strange world.

He eyed each one, leeching their begrudging respect he had earned, he seemed to gather it in his eyes and use it now as if he were playing cards.

“The princess will die tonight. Whoever is responsible for failing me shall be cut down and replaced.” He glowered at them, yet in his glare was an air of respect he had had for them because they had been chosen because they were that good at what they did. “I have come to learn that these…elves…” He said the word as if saying it brought a bitter taste to his mouth. “are not to be taken lightly. Therefore I have taken every conceivable precaution in my plans to slay our target.”

He then looked over each of them again as if considering his plans one last time. He seemed to be weighing their strengths and weaknesses, and combining them, calculating his complex formula with exactness.

He regarded Vermigard, the bounty hunter, master of swordplay, and slipping entanglement and giving it in return.

And then there was the elven necromancer. Kishkumen, had become a sort of disciple of the human stranger believing him to be the chosen one sent to usher in a dark age. The ancient elf had disclosed priceless information about his kind to his ‘master’. The elf was a bitter outlaw to his kind and had personal reasons for his vengence against his kin. He had great power, power that could turn the living to the undead to do whatever his will intended. He also possessed the power of changing his appearance...

Turning, the dark human assassin finally beheld the one that could give him the most problems, yet at the same time could seal his plans together more so than any of them, Jasmine, the beautiful assassin that had eluded the highest skilled bounty hunters, including Vermigard, for years. She was the only one that was not under his complete control. He could not see into her heart like he could with the other two. She was an enigma, but with the right amount of anger she could set fire to the whole world. At this thought he smiled ever so slightly and considered her place in his plans one last time.

“My plans will be disclosed to you at the moment when each of you should know them.”

“You have any idea how yer gonna get in there while escaping the elf's keen eyes and senses?” Vermigard pressed, his long and vividly grey hair hung mysteriously down across his face which was shrouded by a large black brimmed hat that draped down low across his eyes.

Gadianton pointed at the small stream that poured near them.

“The water has a secret to tell.” He said thoughtfully, looking high above the Citadel just off through the dark tips of the trees in the forest.

Vermigard followed his gaze to the waterfall rushing down and through the elven fortress.

The bounty hunter chuckled.

“Not bad” He said, taking one last puff of smoke and putting his pipe away.

The group then continued, edging amongst the ever growing shadows. They abandoned their rides as they came within a mile of the fortress. Soon the group was creeping along the base of the darkened white structure where they found the source of the stream’s exit out of the Citadel. Silently they slipped into the dark of what would be a maze of elven engineering, a maze with which would be no match for Vermigard who seemed to be able to determine direction in pitch black. They soon found the heart of the tunnel, and appeared under a vent that poured down light that led upward into the fortress. It was then that Gadianton turned and looked with cool fiery eyes at his chosen participants….

The elven necromancer and the beautifully deadly female assassin.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm rode contentedly but alertly alongside Jague, passing the time by commenting on the various plants they passed by and discussing their medicinal or culinary or decorative uses. The stay at the glade had been both enjoyable and relaxing. Mavigan had seemed to relax as well, after berating Varg for his grandstanding in the race, and now rode ahead of Wilhelm in discussion with several others.

Wilhelm remained alert for intruders, scanning the surroundings with his tracking sense, but he sensed none and the elven outriders provided an outer ring of protection for the party. Wilhelm was more concerned about security back at the Citadel, as that would be the likely target for assassins now that Mavigan was known to be there. He had discussed this with Ithramir, who had agreed to deal with security matters upon their return to the Citadel. While leaving the broader security to Ithramir, Wilhelm would remain vigilant concering Mavigan's personal safety.

Written by - Turin Wallace

It was not long before they reached the open gates of the citadel. Moving into the courtyard, the sun shining it's last rays in the sky and the moon rising to prominence, the hustle and bustle of the morning was replaced with a quieter type of busy. Blacksmiths were now busy, the cool of night the best time for their work. New sentries were being placed all about, as the day guards were being relieved.

Stopping in front of the stable, Ithramir dismounts and hands the reigns of his horse to the stablemaster. Turning to his the party with him, he says,

Let us all go and refresh ourselves. Word will be sent for us to dine in the main hall this eve. I hope many of you will join with me.

Bowing to them, Ithramir then leaves and heads into the citadel, making his way to his room. Relaxing there, he finds a bottle of absinthe and enjoys a drink of the green liquid as he cleans and changes into a fine robe.

Hearing a knock upon the door, he opens the door and recieves a message stating dinner would be soon. Sending the messenger away, Ithramir goes and stands on the balcony just outside his room. The cool night breeze felt good and it soothed his troubled soul. He sat thinking and praying alone for the time he had left before joining the others in the dining hall.

As he got up to leave, his eyes went down to the two sentries posted at the entrance to the exit of the citadels waterways. Something did not feel right, he felt something odd in the air this eve. Shaking his head, for no one he knew had knowledge of the paths and tunnels in the waterways, he reasoned all was well. Still, he felt uneasy.

Leaving his room, he grabbed one of his room guards and said,

Tell the master of the watch to post another two guards at the waterway egress. Also, pass the word to be extra vigilant this eve and all others to come. We are on a war watch now, the time of relative peace is over. The agents of our enemy move across these lands. Go.

The guard then took his leave, and Ithramir made his way through the citadel into the main dining hall. Entering, the hall was all alight, chandeliers were lit, as well as candelabra's place upon the tables. He was ahead of schedule, for it was just him and a few serving attendants. Making his way to the head of the table, he sits down. He has a bottle of wine and a glass brought to him.

Sitting there, uneasy, he reserves himself to enjoy the evening as best he can. Soon his guests would be arriving and they would enjoy a fine meal.

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