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Book One - The Elven March to Westgale

Written by - Renalis Page 19 Book 1

Renalis continues to move about the hall, making it seem as though he is checking on the dinner preparations but continuing to check that everything is still secure thinking to himself "my plan will not fail".

His attention is caught however, as the radiant Lithwyn enteres the hall. As was Ithramir's, Renalis's eyes were drawn to her. Crystal seeing this moves toward Renalis, intercepting his view she moves in an almost mocking fashion, mimicking Lithwyn's posture and confidence in step. She moves close to Renalis and runs her finger along his chest. Noting what Crystal was doing Renalis grabs her hand gently and presses it to his lips - kissing the base of her fingers and whispering in Elven "Amin mela lle ar' ere'lle melamin". Blushing slightly, Crystal moves away to go back to the setting of places, giving one last flirt to Renalis with a subtle kiss and whispering "Amin sinta."

Renalis goes back about his "business" continueing to check place settings, while listening into Ithramir's conversation. Thinking to himself "I wish he were wrong... I wish more of my people would act."

Deciding once more to "sell" his position here, Renalis moves toward Ithramir and Lithwyn asking "Can I get you anything else Sir, Ma'am? Some more wine or perhaps a snack before..."

Renalis was cut off by the loud clatter of banging dishes. Moving in he watches the Priestess heal the young waitress and remembers Crystal doing a very similar act when they first met. His eyes found Crystal's and they gazed at each other remembering that moment, and with a smile Crystal went back to cleaning up the mess.

As Lithwyn walked off Renalis thinks to himself "There is something not right about her, I feel something... but what?" Moving back toward Ithramir and bowing slightly, "Appologies for the interuption Sir, was there anything you or the lady required before the meal?"

Written by - Turin Wallace

Ithramir rolls his eyes and slightly chuckles as he watches the hapless girl tumble over. Watching the chaos, he studies Lithwyn as she moved into action. As his job is the defense and military affairs of the last stronghold of the elves in these lands, so it was Lithwyn's duty to take care of the logistics and healing. As much as he offered his guests a dinner, it was truly Lithwyn who had the feast prepared.

His eyes study her as she calls for Gilraen, he notices she turns her back to him, something she has nearly always done in his presence when it comes time to use her powers of healing, the powers granted by her goddess. Ithramir always thought it odd she did so, he knew she would not be embarassed in front of him, the time for that was over long ago.

His eyes watch and study her, how she get's up and leaves after the healing was performed. That so much never bothered him, but it was the aversion of her eyes when she would do so, that always concerned him. In his mind, Ithramir had an inkling, but he dare not ever say it. As she walked away, he simply whispered,

"We all have our demons, amin uruite er."

Looking up to see the attendant before him asking if he or Lithwyn needed anything, he replies,

"No, not at the moment, I would wait until the lady returns before I partake of any more this eve. I already have a bottle and some fruit to indulge in until she and more guests arrive."

With a slight bow, Ithramir returns to his thoughts.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen continued to follow the attendant at a pace somewhere between running and dashing in a bid not to be late to the feast hall. Ardwen did not bother to pause and examine any rooms around him or anything else for that matter. Time was of the essence, and he had spent enough retrieving his blade from the smithies. Round a corner, they came to an elegant stairwell, surely a centerpiece of design, and doubtless a clue that they were approaching an area of significance. In all likelihood, the dinning hall, or so Ardwen hoped.

The attendant, Eruno, raised a hand to pause, and they hastily corrected their pace to a calm even stride before rounding the next corner. When they did, Ardwen could see why, before them was a set of large doors, carved and ornate. Two almost identical rangers were flanking the doors. Erunno paused to whisper, “These are the doors to the hall, on the other side you’ll find the dinning hall itself. I suggest you try and make your entrance as quiet and subtle as possible, especially given your current . . . appearance.”

Ardwen briefly furrowed his brow before he recalled exactly what his companion was talking about. He was still wearing the suit of Beserker’s armor, and had all three of his swords with him. Ardwen’s furrow turned into a frown as he hissed, “But it was at Ithramir’s beckon that I went to the armory, surely it won’t be that big of a concern, right?”

In return Erunno just grinned and said, “I’m sure you can fine the rest of the way on your own mellonamin. Do try and be cordial, as this would be an excellent opportunity to get to know all the new arrivals at the Citadel better. Try not to worry too much, a first impression is only one type out of many after all. As for myself, I’ve other matters that beg my attention, good luck Ardwen.”

Ardwen detected a slight sardonic tone to the attendant’svoice, but Erunno dashed off down a side corridor before he could respond. Taking a deep breath, Ardwen walked up to the door, and was immediately hailed by two guards posted as . . . receptionists, he hoped, at the door.

One of them bowed and said, “Greetings kin, what business do you have in the feast hall this day?” The guard quickly straightened and Ardwen could feel his eyes looking him over, to the guard’s credit though, he kept a steady face.

Ardwen bowed in return, “Diola lle kinsman, I am here for the feast as per Ohtar Ithramir’s bidding.”

The guard on the opposite side grinned and spoke, “Ah, so you must be the one that refused to wear that, what was it now, ‘infernal silken finery’?” Both guards let out a healthy chuckle at this.

Ardwen waved his left-hand’s palm down in a dismissive gesture, “It is not my custom, nor those of my Court, to do such. But kin, the moment is upon us surely, I must pass quickly or be late to the feast. Despite cultural differences, I wager we both value punctuality.”

The guard who had spoken first nodded and said in a voice lacking mirth now, “True words kinsmen, we had no intention to detain you. Please, pass through and enjoy the feast and revels.” Bowing slightly once more, he opened the heavy door behind him and stepped aside.

The first thing that greeted Ardwen’s eyes was the size of the dinning hall. While not the largest structure he had ever witnessed, it could easily accommodate a good-sized gathering. If hard pressed, he surmised the room could be filled several times over this initial estimate. As soon as he had finished taking the first few tentative steps inside, the guards behind him closed the door. The wood made a slight resounding sound as it echoed from the surrounding walls and ceiling.

Glancing around, he sighed in relief, as he did not see Mavigan or too many other guests gathered in the hall. Still, signs that the feast was already well under way in terms of preparation were obvious. The next two things seemed to come to his attention concurrently: the first was the presence of a fair Elflady, like one of the days of yore. Ardwen could not swear, as she was turned away and seemed to be avoiding eye contact, but she seemed to be some manner of priestess or holywoman. There was certainly no way to be certain though, and Ardwen quickly tallied up the next sight.

Ithramir was sitting at a table already, a small platter of fruit and a goblet of wine in front of him, he seemed lost in thought as was his wont. Then a thought hit Ardwen, he had entered the hall, yes, but he had no clue where to sit or what to do in the meantime. Ardwen bit his lower lip in concern, and then another problem arose, the smell of food – oh gods, real food! – Caused his stomach to ache in anticipation. The picnic in the fields had been satisfying to be sure, but here was real food presented once more to an Elf who had been living off gruel and stolen rations for a long and bitter siege!

Ardwen suppressed his stomach’s complaints though in light of the more practical problem, etiquette. He had already stood just past the closed door’s threshold for longer than normal, and standing there thinking was not helping either. He racked his brain in an attempt to find some protocol for introduction as feasts, but he had naught to go on save a victory banquet after an extermination campaign in Avari, hardly appropriate.

Still, it was better than nothing. Walking forward in even steps, Ardwen approached Ithramir. He paused at his right side, a few paces away. Taking the right corner of his cloak, Ardwen pressed it to his heart with a clenched fist and bowed deeply. He held the bow and kept his eyes firmly fixed on the stonework of the floor. This served two purposes: it traditionally signified that Ardwen trusted the one being bowed to enough to take his eyes off him, and it allowed him to avoid Itharmir’s initial reaction, which may well prove to be a positive thing!

Ardwen held the bow, and intoned in a clear voice, “Amin naa tualle.” He would not rise until instructed by Ithramir, and he would not move from a standing position until instructed to do so likewise. As much as he was still physically though, Ardwen’s mind pitched, he could only hope he had done something properly.

Written by - Wilhelm

As Wilhelm finished the fine elvish white wine, a soft knock on the door let him know that Mavigan was about to emerge. He stepped into the hallway and saw the Seamstress and her assistants leaving Magvigan's chamber. She looked a tthe armorial surcoat Wilhelm was wearing and nodded in professional approval. Wilhelm bowed to her and again expressed his thanks for the fine work. She complimented him on the fine mithril mail, which she felt set off the surcoat nicely, and then left with her assistants.

Wilhelm saw Alaric emerge from his room on the other side of Mavigan's chamber, along with his assistants Koric and Lao. Alaric was dressed in full Ancoran honors as well. Alaric nodded in approval at the mail and surcoat, having been present at the knighting when the mail was presented. Wilhelm told the 4 door guards to remain vigilant in guarding the three rooms, lest someone sneak into them during the feast. Mavigan's door then opened and mavigan and her maid emerged. Mavigan was wearing a stunning blue gown with soft blue velvet dancing shoes and a silver belt. He realized that the gown was the exact same shade as the blue scarf he carried as Mavigan's favor, or rather the blue it had started out as. Mavigan seemed pleased at the effect this had on Wilhelm and Alaric, and at their compliments. Wilhelm offered Mavigan his arm, whiich she took with a grin, and the party of five proceeded down the hall, with Koric and Lao proceeding in front and Alaric bringing up the rear. As they came down the staircase to the ground floor they met up with Varg, and then with Jague and Keeryn. Entering the feast hall, Wilhelm saw Rowan and Umeawen off to the left. Jague and Keeryn went to greet them. Varg and Alaric held back to allow Mavigan to make an entrance, then entered behind. Approaching the head table, Wilhelm saw an elf in full plate, black as night, kneeling before Ithramir. There was something ominous about the sable armor, that fit closely but lacked a helm. He saw by the great sword and then by hnis face that it was Ardwen. "Odd," he thought, "I didn't think elves wore full plate armor to a feast. But then Ardwen is from far away."

Wilhelm escorted Mavigan to her seat at Ithramir's side, and then took his place on her other side. He saw Alaric, Koric and Lao taking other seats spaced out to cover all approaches to the high table. Seeing that Ardwen was waiting for Ithramir's attention, and that Ithramir was watching Lithwyn attend to an injured servant, Wilhelm waited patiently for Ithramir to finish up and then start the feast.

Written by - Turin Wallace

Deep in his thoughts, Ithramir doesn't pay attention to the great doors opening to the hall. Hearing the echo of them closing, his eyes catch sight of Ardwen moving towards him. Surprisingly, he watches Ardwen bow before him and is moved by his words. Ithramir stands, then in answer, he replies,

"Erio, ar' na-creoso. Esta ar' na-meren sina undome, Ardwen en' Tel'Avari."*

Watching him stand, Ithramir makes note of his armor, showing no emotion either way, good or bad. Grabbing Ardwen by where the chest and arm plates meet, and jerking him towards him, only close enough for a whisper between them, he says,

"Ardwen, quel edhel, mankoi um lle dethol sina atost, i'atost en' merka erea? Aa'na lle aa' tura ta, ri ta aa' tura lle, amin sinta il. Na antha, mellon, ar' na-oio no'vakh ten' sina atost cael'ksh tyav a' ta."*

Looking into his eyes for a moment, Ithramir releases his grip on Ardwen, his shock at the armor getting the best of him. Slowly, he says,

"My apologies, Ardwen. The armor took me be surprise. I remember the last elf to wear that armor, I remember bringing him to Lithwyn for healing, and I remember the look in his eyes when he passed from this world."

Clasping Ardwen's shoulder, he smiles and says,

"I sense your fate with it may turn out better, at least I hope so. Come, there is much to eat and drink and your eyes betray you are hungry and thirsty. Now, have a seat and let's not think of such things no more. Tonight is for all of us to enjoy."

Seating Ardwen, Ithramir walks over to the minstrels and has them strike up a lively tune. Then, he walks back to his seat, pours a drink, and waits for more to arrive.

Written by - Trinni Shannon

Emerging from the storage room, her emotions in check, Lithwyn continues down the hall towards the kitchens. Passing many attendants rushing from the dining hall to the kitchens and back again, her approach toward the entry is met with the sounds of a commotion. The door opens to a room writhing with life and movement. Serving staff run to and fro, picking up platters, collecting bottles of wine, and casks of ale. They dart between each other and the near labrynth of tables and stoves. The comanding force of the room, is, of course, the cooks: chopping, boiling, grilling, spreading, pouring. They call out orders for this ingredient or that pan, orders quickly carried out by their students who are all too eager to impress. The hiss of water meeting a hot pan, the clang of a heavy pot hitting the counter, a sharp knife running through vegetables, the efforts of preparing the great feast expressed in its own melody.

Walking throughout the room, Lithwyn notes everyone is on task and the main course is nearing completion. A well trained staff, she has no doubt it will be finished precisely when the last of the appetizers have been consumed. Her attention is focused on the head cook, K'Lain. As she converses briefly with him, a sudden hand placed on her shoulder makes her turn with surprise.

"I thought I might find you here, melamin." Nysden flashes his most charming look at her. An average elven male, he wears his finest robes. His appearance is vastly different from what one would think of as a High Priest of Avandor, God of war, vengeance, and light. Nysden is a quietly brooding man, paler than most elves, with eyes that dart around with inner anxiety or perhaps fear...? Her bright smile forcefully hides the annoyance she feels by his touch and use of familiar endearment. Pretending to be playful, she slides away from his grasp and smirks. Speaking softly, her tone deepening seductively, she remarks, "Now, what have I told you about calling me that? I am not your love." Turning, she deftly avoids an apprentice carrying a large pot, and makes her way towards the hallway. Her dress flows behind her, almost beckoningly.

Nysden runs a few steps to catch up with her and places his hand on the small of her back as he opens the door with his other hand. Speaking softly near her ear, he tries his overused argument, "Ah, but you are the High Priestess of Kaia'hanas, and I am the High Priest of Avandor. If ever a match there was, I have not heard it. You are mine as I am yours, by station and the blessing of the Gods."

Stopping suddenly in the hallway, fighting to control her anger, she keeps her face carefully neutral. Taking a breath, she looks at him with a contrived pout, "I am not yours, nor anyone elses. Am I merely a prize? A possession? Surely you do not wish to demean me to that extent." Going so far as to touch his arm momentarily, all to make sure she pushes him to remorse, she watches with satisfaction as his hand drops from her back. "No, My Lady, I would not suggest such a thing. I only wish...," his voice trails off with unspoken desire. Turning away from the look in his eyes, Lithwyn walks into the great hall, surveying the room and its patrons from the small doorway. Nysden quickly walks past her and takes his seat at the high table.

Lithwyn spots a pair of servants, lovers by the looks of it... the way he kisses her hand and the way she bows her head towards his. She stands there and wonders what it would feel like to lead such a simple life. While studying the man she realizes she doesn't know his name. She thought she knew all of the citadel's staff, at least those who directly served her or her guests. She always made it a point to do so and now vaguely worries she is slipping. Sighing, she explains it away by thinking he must have only recently arrived to Lothiel-Gadith.

Supressing an overwhelming desire to walk around the entire room to examine the preparations one last time, she instead walks towards the head table to begin greeting guests and finally introduce herself. Retrieving the wine glass from her seat to the right of Ithramir's, she finds a woman in her place. About to make a comment regarding the audacity of such a move, Lithwyn realizes her to be the human Queen and High Priestess of Nagarren. Sighing inwardly, becoming painfully aware of Human tendencies, she curtseys and bows her head to the appropriate level denoting equality.

Rising, she adresses the fair half-elf with a smile, "Good day, m'lady. You must be Mavigan, the Queen I have heard so much about from Ithramir. Though I am sure it will take time to get used to being called by such. I am Lithwyn Ehlonna Deltheron, High Priestess of Kaia'hanas and Lady of Lothiel-Gadith. I hope you have enjoyed your stay thus far here, in our Elven home away from Alyatol. I must add, your gown is quite becoming. If I am not mistaken, it is Aelwia's work. She is amazing with a thread and needle!" Calling to a wine steward, he fills her glass and a glass for Mavigan. Turning back to her guest, Lithwyn continues speaking with her for a time then excuses herself to continue her introductions. With each new guest, Lithwyn properly introduces herself and her place within Lothiel-Gadith as she has not formally met any of them.

Standing a slight distance off, Lithwyn notices the large figure in mithril mail and a fine white surcoat. Measuring his armor appreciatively as she walks up, she introduces herself with a smile and curtsey, "I suppose you are Mavigan's primary protector, among other things. I hope your travels were not too dangerous or taxing. Please, enjoy the slight relaxation afforded by the citadel. Granted, you nor I can ever truly rest, can we not? It is the price we pay for our station in life."

Turning around, to continue greeting guests, she stops in shock. Somehow missing the surprising presence in her initial glance of the room she is caught off guard. Thoughts rush through her mind, "No! The black armor, the cloak... it can't be. A... BERSERKER SUIT?" Paling slightly, her hand goes to her mouth as she can't help but remember the man who had once worn such a suit. It was so long ago, he was the last to wear it, yet the odd light in his eyes as he finally died, the ominous feel of his spirit, still remains in her mind. She still feels responsible for his death, though knows the armor killed him long before that.

Clearing her throat, remembering her manners, she lowers her hand to her chest and crosses over to where he sits. Curtseying before him, forcing a bright smile, only her eyes reveal her dark thoughts. "Melonamin, creoso a'baramin. I see you have visited our armory. I believe each piece chooses its master just as the master chooses it. Amin kyerm Kaia'hanas onar-lle e' lle tua a' Lothiel-Gadith vee' amin tanak re tyar mart."

Walking back towards the head table, Lithwyn ponders a moment. Ithramir in the center, Mavigan has taken the seat to the left of him, Wilhelm will obviously to the left of her... Nysden is seated to the right of Ithramir... and the only seat left is to the right of Nysden... Sighing with resignation, she walks to the the far right end of the table and sets her wine glass down. Ignoring the odd look Nysden gives her, she simply waves her hand dismisively and tries to enjoy the music as she slides into the chair.

Written by - Turin Wallace

Amusing himself with music, wine, and food, Ithramir hears the doors open and in comes the procession of guests, with Mavigan, Wilhelm, and Alaric in the lead. His sister and his niece have returned as well, unknown to him, and he watches as Jaque, Varg, and Keeryn march in behind.

Ithramir stands to greet each one with a "Mae govannen, elvellon." After their greetings, Ithramir wanders off to check for a few more bottles of wine, his personal stock. Leaving his guests to seat themselves, he comes back to find they have, though perhaps not in the way he imagined.

Taking his seat, he notices Mavigan is next to him, not Lithwyn. Nysden, per his usual self, takes the other seat available to Ithramir's right. It is just then he see's Lithwyn approaching, after greeting everyone, he watches as she picks up her goblet of wine and addresses Mavigan. His eyes do not leave her as she walks to sit next to Nysden. Inwardly, Ithramir would prefer, at the very least, to be sat between less hostile company.

Looking to Mavigan, he says,

"Well, I think I'll promote those seamstresses, they actually managed to clean you up a bit. Perhaps your elven heritage can start to shine through?"

Trying not to laugh as Mavigan's anger flashed across her face, he simply smiles and then turns to Nysden, saying,

"A pleasure, as always Nysden. Rarely do you and I speak, perhaps I'll enjoy some of your witty banter?"

Getting a rather nasty look, he fakes a frown and says,

"No? A pity, then. I had hoped to hear more about how I've not been to your service in so long."

Looking to Lithwyn, his demeanor changing a little, he says,

"I'm glad you joined us once again, nin carad-losker er. Your presence is always pleasing and your attendents have done excellent work. Thank you, Lithwyn."

Standing up, Ithramir taps on the table a few times to get everyone's attention. Once the hall quiets down, he addresses them,

"Friends, I welcome you to banquet this eve that is held in your honor. Enjoy the music, the food, wine and ale, and all the company you can. Let us look back on these times in fondness, for with everything else, nothing lasts forever. Let us have merriment this eve and let your souls rest. We, Hosts of the Citadel, are your servants."

With a bow, Ithramir sits back down, and lets the attendents begin serving everyone all the food and drink they desire. The minstrels begin playing lively tunes, and the conversations begin once more...

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen sat motionless, locked deep in morbid thoughts. The banquet promised to be one that spared no expense; and as Ithramir surmised he was indeed hungry. But his thoughts were troubled, deeply so. Ithramir had spoken to him in a manner that left little doubt as to his new armor's true nature. Ardwen felt Ithramir was not an Elf to be easily shocked, as were most Elves when emotion did not take then, but Ithramir had not hidden his reaction this time.

Even more disturbing was the reaction of the fair Elflady. There was no doubt to it now in Ardwen's mind, she was a priest. Not just the ordinary cleric, if such a term could be used when refer to those that are in the flock of a god, but one of apparent skill and rank. She bore an air of confidence and wisdom, which only added gravity to the doubt she had not voiced in her eyes. She had also spoken of the armor and user selecting themselves. Could this be true? Or mere speculation and proffered hope on part of the lady?

"Marath ar lost'estel," He muttered, "I will abide no empty hope." He had done so for many years now: the gods were ever fickle in their favors, unreliable as he esteemed them. A few taps on the tabled resounded through the hall and a stifled hush fell over the assembly. Glancing, Ardwen saw that Ithramir had risen to address the hall.

"Friends," Ithramir began, "I welcome you to banquet this eve that is held in your honor. Enjoy the music, the food, wine and ale, and all the company you can. Let us look back on these times in fondness, for with everything else, nothing lasts forever. Let us have merriment this eve and let your souls rest. We, Hosts of the Citadel, are your servants." With a smooth bow Ithramir sat down once more, and attendents began moving through the feast hall serving all manner of food and libations.

A few selections later, Ardwen had an array on his plate that made his mouth water. Pushing the armor out of his mind for now, he reached for a fork, and then yanked his hands back. In his haste and pensive mood he had forgotten to remove his gauntlets! Articulated and jointed or no, Ardwen was not in the mood to explain why his dish and silverware had deep scratches on them. Yanking off his gauntlets, Ardwen stuffed them between his armrest and side, it would do for now.

Picking the inside of the two forks arrayed next to the plate at random, he began to eat with a great fervor. Ah - and how the food put him beyond all dark thoughts or remorse - it was his first real meal in many months and his first feast after many years! Ardwen's thoughts turned to more pertinent subjects soon, but invariably they centered on Mavigan.

A young queen, and something more. A high priestess by what he had gathered, which meant she was important not only to the survival of a nation physically, but possibly spiritually as well. But what had caused this gathering here? What was the root cause of it all? Ardwen had heard her speak, on their walk to the picnic area, of her family's murder and how a vile and wicked man had usurped her family’s throne. Was it something higher than chance, no, it had to be. It was something more than a mere mortal force, was it . . . fate?

To his shame, Ardwen had not truly listened to what everyone had said. He needed only the basic details: Mavigan had Elven blood, she had the support of the Elves, her foe lacked both by all accounts. Ardwen wrapped his mind again and again around this seemingly simple quandary. This man, this - what was his name? Beridane? "Bah," Ardwen thought with a mental sneer, "I cannot wait until the various match swords upon the field of battle. Then I will test the mettle of this viper, I will gut his soul, and drink the marrow of his essence!"

Ardwen stopped mid-motion as he was bringing a piece of chicken to his mouth, stopping there with his mouth gaping, Ardwen put the fork and meat down on his plate. Closing his mouth slowly Ardwen very carefuly considered what he had just passed through his mind. He did want to kill Mavigan's foes, indeed the foes of all who had even a drop of true Elven blood in this land: but gutting souls and drinking essence? Where in the world did that come from?

Slowly his eyes went to the sable armor he wore. "No," Thought Ardwen, "the armor alone is not to blame. It’s like it’s acting upon repressed desires and painful emotions. That thought, however wicked, came from . . . me."

Another thought slowly surfaced and reasoned, "Did it truly matter? So long as the enemy died and a warrior earned a glorious death no price was too high! He had done far worse than some thinking about gutting and bones! He was Avari, this armor was a tool: nothing more! This great feast is but a prelude to an even greater war – a practical paragon of slaughter!"

Placing his hands behind his head and leaning back slightly, Ardwen kept his chin level and looked around the hall from side to side, his gaze passing over it in its entirety. He let out a cold chuckle, ah! The warm thoughts on an impending warpath were finer than any meal!

Written by - Archeantus

The kill awoke her senses, she felt alive.

She walked in magical disguise, steadily down the stone corridor leading toward the feast, toward an act that she could not imagine herself doing. She had sworn she would never kill a female. No woman deserved the pain she could give--She stopped suddenly. It had come again. Doubt flung at her indomitable will, dread shook her infinite resolve.

All her life, she had sought vengeance. It started as an unconquerable thirst, a hunger that never died. No one was more justified in deserving vengeance than her, especially after what he did to her. She had killed countless men because of it. All their faces, were his face. All their love, was his love. All their broken, stilled hearts were her broken heart. Deep inside her rested a shattered soul, devoid of worth, wasting away into beautiful oblivion. And it was this oblivion that she wished to go. Yet, to go there, she had to use up the very last drop of the venom of revenge that had become her life's blood. Tonight, she realized finally, the last drop would be burned. And then she would be a shell of a woman, ready to sink into the world's hate.

No redeeming emotion came to her anymore. No guilt, nor pleasure. All she had was memories, exquisite and dreadful. She had become a casualty to her own vengeance, and deep inside her, past her blackened heart, she knew it. And yet, she went, seeking to kill the one single female, whose death would ignite a war in which hundreds and thousands of men would die. That was what he had told her to convince her, and she reveled in it, but inside, even now, she cried desperately; tears that would never reach her beautiful eyes.

"No, I, will, do....this." She whispered in her fevered mind.

Mastering herself, her thoughts quickly melting away in her vengeance once more, she stepped coolly forward.

No woman deserved the pain she could give, except one...

Written by - Isuiln Fellblade

The messenger panted as he continued his dead sprint through the halls of the elven fortress, bent on delivering his news as swiftly as possible. The corridors were mostly empty, as the feast was underway, and all were either attending, or seeing to the duties that drew them away from the festivities. As he careened around another corner, he ran headlong into a ranger that was staring at himself in the mirror as if for the first time. The messenger let out a curse as he tucked midfall and rolled back to his feet, popping up and dashing on. His information was too dire to be slowed in the least.

As he neared the dining hall doors, the two gaurds called out to find out what the rush was all about. The messenger shouted but one word, and the two sentries shared a quick look before tearing open the doors, and even then, the gap was barely wide enough as the messenger barrelled through. Several guests turned, or even stood, at the sudden appearance of the elf.

"Ithramir!" he shouted, gasping for breath.

The commander of the fortress stood, pushing his chair back, and calmly spoke through the silence. "If we are not under attack, you will spend a very, very long time explaining this interruption."

"No attack sir," the messenger forced out. He saw Ithramir's eyes widen in anger as he took a deep breath. He forced out his message.

"Reinforcements!" the messenger exclaimed, his face ecstatic. "Reinforcements have come from the homeland!"

Isuiln led his troops into the gates of the elven citadel, all singing an elvish ballad, a popular tale of heroes past. They were met with great rejoicing from the sentries, many of whom joined in the singing of the ballad, until it seemed the stones of the keep reverberated with the sounds of their voices. The last of the elves under his command marched in through the gates, which were then shut behind them, and the song began winding to a close. As it ended, a great cheer went up from all present, and if the stones had reverberated during the song, they now seemed to shake.

But it was not the size of the army that Isuiln led in that made the stone tremble, for they were not enourmous in number. It was the power of their reunion with their brethren, and the enourmous boost in morale that they brought with them, that caused the quaking.

As it wound down, Isuiln grabbed the nearest ranger that looked to be of at least moderate rank. "Where is Ithramir?" He shouted over the din. "I must speak with him immediately!" All he caught from the fellow was something about a feast and a messenger having already been sent before the ranger saw one among the ranks he apparently knew and dashed off.

Well, they know we're here. Guess there's naught to do but wait for someone to find me With that, he grinned as he watched the men he had brought being greeted by those of the Citadel, and there were more smiles than he could count.

Written by - Ariana

Mavigan couldn’t breathe.

Gavarel and her assistant Talerena marched into Mavigan’s room with obviously no thought given to her privacy. Soon delicate hands that felt like iron bands yanked Mavigan out of the tub and began rubbing her briskly dry. Then, these same hands, paying no attention to her current state of nakedness pushed, and pulled, and tugged, and stuffed Mavigan into a set of undergarments designed to minimize her waist and maximize her cleavage.

All the while a running monologue streamed forth from Gavarel, each of her statements running over protests from an enraged royal before Mavigan had a chance to voice her displeasure. Of course, cinching her corset tight enough to push the air from her lungs ensured Mavigan could not gain breath to voice her rapidly growing anger before Gavarel plowed ahead with her next placating statement. It wasn’t until Mavigan’s lips started turning blue that Gavarel realized she might have been a bit overzealous in her tightening of the laces.

A hasty adjustment and Mavigan was greedily sucking in great lungfuls of air. Murmuring her apologies, Gavarel reached for the blue dress and began pulling it over Mavigan’s head, effectively muffling the unflattering words that spewed forth from her mouth.

Understanding Gavarel’s game, Mavigan turned sullen. Apparently she was not to be allowed the luxury of dining in her room alone. She sat still, inwardly fuming as she was dumped into a chair and hair was brushed to a dry sheen. When they had finished, Mavigan gave a defiant glare in Gavarel’s direction and walked purposefully towards the metal basin, where her daggers still lay. Picking them up, she sheathes them and then conceals the sheaths about her person. She cast a last, challenging glare at Gavarel, daring her to say something.

Gavarel, wisely remained silent, taking the time to studiously examine her fingernails.

Quickly escorted to the dining hall, Mavigan soon found herself placed in a chair next to Ithramir. “Wonderful,” she thought morosely. Biting her tongue firmly to choke back her retorts to Ithramir’s obvious jibes, she applied herself to her food and attempted to make herself as small as possible. She greeted those who needed to be greeted, plastered on smiles when they were required, gave nods of acknowledgement to those who approached her, and did her best to keep as unnoticeable as possible. No small feat when you were supposed to be a guest of honor – but she tried all the same.

It was with relief that she looked up when the feast was interrupted with the announcement of reinforcements.

Written by - Renalis

Moving between guests and tending to their needs Renalis found himself with only a handful of servants in the room now that the meal was fully underway. Crystal was amung them and they continued sending each other flirting glances as one might expect out of courting youngsters, not out of this pair - who had been wed for nearly two years now. While Renalis was many years younger than his Elven bride, she was filled with youthful vigor when she was around him.

"This is degrading..." Renalis thought to himself, "Having to tend on there every need, but i must keep up this charade, at least a little longer..." Renalis's thoughts were cut off as the large hall doors opened widely.

Seeing the messenger barrel through the doors obviously out of breath, Renalis began to worry.

"Reinforcements!" the messenger exclaimed, his face ecstatic. "Reinforcements have come from the homeland!"

"Blast!" Renalis thought to himself "How many more could be arriving? And who is this Isuiln?" Cursing to himself "How many more things will go wrong before this night is out?"

Making eye contact once more with Crystal and seeing she was a cool as ice, Renalis sighed and thought once more "She is right, no reason to worry about it I guess, just that many more people to keep our eyes on."

Seeing that Mavigan was one of the only people still enjoying the meal, Renalis continued to sell his charade, walking up and refilling her wine glass and getting more bread for her. "There you are M'lady" he said with a small bow.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm could tell that Mavigan was displeased by her set expression and silence when he had escorted her to the banquet. However, the expected explosion never came, even after Ithramir's taunting comments. While quiet and withdrawn, Mavigan did manage the greetings, smiles and nods expected from a Queen. Her reserved manner coud be taken as the aloofness expected from royalty. All in all, Wilhelm was proud of her for the effort, despite her unhappiness. He hoped that she would find the dancing and festivities that were to follow the banquet more to her enjoyment. He made a point of passing various dishes to her to sample, allowing her the excuse to try each dish and therefore not have to speak while she did so.

Wilhelm expected a diversion to follow the first remove, perhaps some performance that Mavigan could appreciate, but instead a messanger burst into the room to announce elven reinforcements. A buzz of conversation arose throughout the room at this welcome news. Mavigan seemed relieved to have the focus of the banquet move to the messenger and away from her. Wilhelm and others moved to the windows and looked out to see a sizable elven force enter the citadel. Over the sound of their marching he could hear them singing some sort of ballad. A great cheer arose outside after they had entered. Wilhelm returned to Mavigan''s side to hear Ithramir's response to the news.

Written by - Turin Wallace

Ithramir was entered in some kind of various chit chat with a guest or two at the table when he got the news of reinforcements. The songs of his kin echoed through the halls as they marched inside. Standing, he excuses himself and makes his way out of the dining hall and onto a balcony looking down onto the courtyard. There he can see the arriving reinforcements, some few thousand strong, making there way into the large citadel.

Turning to the messenger who followed him, he replies,

"Bring me their captain. Also, ensure these new arrivals are seen to their quarters and are given food and wine. They will rest this eve."

Moving back into the dining hall, the room was abuzz with conversation. Making his way back to the head of the table, his hand not-so-obviously grazing Lithwyn's back, he says,

"It seems we have even more reason to rejoice this eve. More of our kin have arrived to help in this great cause. By Avandor and Kaia'hanas, we will need them in the coming days. Blessed be both of their names this eve."

For the first time in a very long time Ithramir's emotions betrayed him and a genuine smiled graced his face. Sitting back down, he pours himself a glass of wine and awaits the captain of the reinforcements to arrive before him.

Written by - Isuiln Fellblade

Isuiln basked in the heartfelt welcome, and his heart was light for a short while as he forgot his cares and worries and celebrated with everyone. After a short time, he saw one of his men pointing him out to another elf, who was dressed in the livery of the Citadel. Well, time to get serious. He walked over to the elf who was obviously seeking him out.

"Captain Isuiln, I presume?" the elf asked.

"Yes, I am Captain Isuiln Fellblade. I assume you are here to bring me to Ithramir? He is still commander of the Citadel, is he not?"

"Yes, he is, and yes, I am to take you to him. Preperations are already being made for quarters for your men. Please follow me." With that, the elf turned, checking over his shoulder once to make sure Isuiln was following. And follow Isuiln did, trying to memorize the twists and turns to get back out to the courtyard from wherever he was to meet Ithramir.

Soon, they came upon a large pair of doors, which were promptly opened by the two gaurds posted there. Isuiln realized it was an extravagent dining hall, and from the looks of it, he and his troops had made their entrance mid-feast. What better time to bring cause for celebration than during the celebration? Isuiln pondered. Then again, I bring with me news that is both happy and sorrowful.

He followed the elf to the head of the table, where he was introduced to Ithramir. "Commander Ithramir, this is Captain Isuiln Fellblade, leader of the reinforcements." Isuiln bowed, and Ithramir bowed his head a touch.

"An honor to meet you sir. I have heard very much about you, and am grateful for the opportunity to serve under you. I come bearing news both great and ill. While I and my roughly five thousand troops are here to aid you... n'uma ner tuluva*. And we are now in exile, for we have come against the will of Elborne, and were told the step before we boarded our ship here would be the last we would ever stand on the Homeland. Nonetheless... we each came willingly."

The pain on his face was obvious as he spoke of his exile. But then his face set, and he went down on his knee before Ithramir, and spoke with his head bowed down.

"We could not abandon our kin. I request only that you put us all to good use." As he said this, he lifted his head to stare Ithramir in the eye. "It would be a shame if my men gave up their homeland for nothing." With that, he lowered his head once again, and awaited Ithramir's response.

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