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

Written by Wilhelm - Page 3 of Book 1

Wilhelm looked at the white mare. "Well, Argent, will you bear the lass again?" The horse nodded her head twice and then walked forward to gaze into the young Queen's eyes. "It would appear that she will indeed let you ride, my Queen" the paladin said. The mare then poked her nose into Mavigan's cloak as if in search of something. "However you will need to pay the toll, it seems", he said with a chuckle. Wilhelm reached into his cloak and tossed a small apple to Mavigan, who caught it reflexively. "I shall ride Sable then", he said, gesturing at the black warhorse in the adjoining stall, who bowed his head to the young woman.

"Let me help you mount", said Wilhelm, gracefully dropping to one knee before Mavigan and cupping his hands, revealing the Father's symbol on his inturned silver signet ring which Wilhelm kissed. "No matter how great the Darkness, the Light shall not fail. Ever since the Age of Strife my Line and my Order have served the Hands of Providence and the Royal House of Ancora. The Son of the Father shall always protect and defend the Daughter of the Mother." Wilhelm lowered his cupped hands and waited to assist Mavigan up.

Written by Aethelwulf

Scowling a bit as he pondered Mav's vast mood swings, Alaric took his que, and moved to mount Morion, his night black stallion. Lao and Koric quickly moved to mount their steeds as well.

"Well then, shall we be off ere the wolves pick up our scent?"

Written by Vylia

Keeryn made her way to the edge of the village using the smoke to guide her, keeping high enough in the trees to remain unnoticed by those on the ground. She stopped when she reached the outskirts, crouching on a tree limb to see what this place of strange structures was all about. It wasn't quite nightfall yet, but the sun had just reached the top of the treeline off in the distance. People were apparently walking into the wooden things and moving some slabs back into place like tent flaps almost...

"Well, I GUESS they look like homes, but what an odd way to use wood. All sorts of strange things in heaven today, but I suppose I couldn't expect to keep it all to myself." Seeing strange animals tied up outside of a building that people were still coming and going from she decided to take a closer look.

Making sure nobody could see her she droppped down to the ground and swiftly covered the open distance to the nearest structure. Judging the distance she jumped up and grabbed the lip of the roof, scrambling up the side and lifting herself up. Once there she moved forward slowly, staying crouched, her ears twitching as they listened for any sign of being noticed. Peeking her head up over the top of the roof she looked across the way at the animals thinking, "How am I going to get over there without being seen? Heaven or not I don't trust these people, they look too much like that magic man that came to my homeland..." So instead she stayed there and waited for nightfall, curious about the new sights, but not enough to risk getting caught.

As she sat there looking on with curiosity and cautiousness the sun started to fall below the treeline . . .

Written by Archeantus

The massive throne room doors were slowly opened amid hidden anticipation. The man's white-hot grays went unnoticed as they prodded him manfully along the deep crimson carpet that led directly toward the newly crowned king.

Massive round marble columns towered majestically on both sides of him designed to instill awe as they made their way toward the King, he didn't pay attention for he purposefully fell to the red carpet and was then carried by the Captain and one of his guards. His head lowered and his dark hair masked his sly grin.

"What's yer problem you maggot!" The Captain angrily whispered while giving sideway glances at Beridane and his royal guard in embarrassment.

The man said nothing in return and allowed himself to be dragged. There was no turning back now, as the Beridane had little time to waste in needless ventures. The Captain becoming infuriated swore that if the fool didn't provide concrete evidence of the validity of his information, he'd kill the worm himself.

They came to a circular courtyard beveled in the stone floor which bordered the throne which was elevated slightly above ground level. The meaning was that one must humble oneself while addressing the King. The man wouldn't have noticed this either, so enraptured in his focused mind.

"My liege, I present one who claims to know the whereabouts of Mavigan Brelonna Ancora" The captain called forth in his most courtly voice.

The man closed his eyes.

They brought the man before the king dragging him violently.

"Kneel knave!" The Captain yelled out foolishly.

They threw him to the floor, and in that instant the man opened his white hot eyes which ignited his body to action.

As their soft grip left his arms and he propelled forward, the captain's short sword went with him. The next instant, the man launched directly back at the surprised guardsmen, the captain's gleaming sword in his hands, and eyes that exhumed terror. Where moments before he was a wrench, now he was a panther.

"Rough wind, that moanest loud, Grief too sad for song;" He whispered softly amid his precision flight.

The Captain screamed in pain, and the guard next to him clutched his side.

Wild wind, when sullen cloud, Knells all the night long;

The King's guard rushed the assailant, who now brandished a grin and two dripping swords.

Sad storm, whose tears are vain, Bare woods, whose branches strain,

Amorless, shirtless, he parried every blow, two more fell. Two remained.

Deep caves and dreary main, -

Beridane had stood and was about to flee as he watched in utter astonishment and shock as his royal guard was rapidly decimated.

The last guard fell at the precise moment the Captain toppled over gripping his throat.

Wail, for the world's wrong!" The man concluded eerily.

Beridane was as dazzled at the slaughter as he was afraid. He didn't move an inch in the brief moment he could have. He watched death rush him and yelled silently at it, shutting his eyes at the last moment. The shirtless heathen raised his stolen swords in the air and prepared to rain down death on the King.

The biting pain never came.

Beridane opened his eyes and there knelt the monster before him, his head bowed and in his reddened hand was the sword that was used to destroyed his guard, the hilt was offered.

"My Lord, My sword is yours."

Beridane finally gasped at the near uncomprehendable words as they fell on his understanding.

Quickly taking the hilt he raised the returned sword in shock at the kneeling man preparing to end his life.

But his arm wavered. His head swam in confusion and awe as he beheld the man who nearly took away his kingship and life effortlessly and now offered the same power for him to use.

In the last few days he had plotted and hungered for power, power he had always dreamt of, power he deserved. Receiving it, he now only wanted one thing;


"Your name sir." Beridane commanded, a slight glimmer of fear still in his voice. All he wanted was this man to leave his immediate presence for he was still quite near, still a perfect threat.

Rising, the man stood and looked into the eyes of Beridane, regarding him coolly.

This shocked Beridane even more, for his eyes held no sign of remorse, no sign of bloodlust, they resembled eyes that had just walked across the beach on a cool summers day.

"You only shall know my name." The man commanded in return. "All others shall die in the same manner, for to know me is death."

The newly crowned King understood and nodded, working with many, especially recently who wished to remain anonymous.

"Very well."

The man edged closer, suddenly his other sword arm arched forward, and its blade tasted Beridane's throat. The King dropped his sword. He moved forward and whispered directly into the King's ear,

"The name's Gadianton."

Beridane's eyes were opened wide as he once more looked death in the eye. He'd never forget that name, even when he passed from the living.

The man slowly, ever slowly stepped away.

"Long live the king." He said, a slight glint of mockery in his deathly eyes.

"You mentioned you knew where Mavigan was." Beridane asked as the man turned.

"I lied." The man admitted with a shrug. "Is it your desire she dies?" He continued, his back still turned confidently.

"It is." Beridane also admitted exultantly. "And what will you want in return? I already have my best assassins hunting the landscape for her. Gold?"

"No. I want, them." He whispered.

"Want them for what?"

"To lead them."

Beridane then understand the man, he did not want riches, he didn't want fame. He wanted....

"Power." Gadianton hissed, turning, and glaring at Beridane.

Both grinned wickedly, looking at themselves in an immaterial mirror.

Written by Teran

The throwing knife went wide its target, missing the post entirely, imbedding itself in a hardwood wall near Ithramir and his elven companions. The man who threw the knife wasn't terribly tall or short. He was a bit thinner than most, and his skin a bit paler than most, and apparently he was losing his money to a much younger and experienced (at least at knife throwing) man. He stepped up, and threw his knife into the post, nicking the edge of the playing card they had put up.

Thom celebrated his victory to the cheers of the crowd while the older man's shoulders slumped slightly. He retrieved his throwing knife from the wall, and met Ithramir's gaze with his pale gray eyes, winking at the elf. The older man returned to his spot and threw the knife once more, this time he connected with the post, but he failed to hit the card. The crowd laughed and jeered, as he slapped some bloodcoin into Thom's outstretched hand. the loser turned and began to storm out of the tavern but Thom called after him, mocking "Care to try again old man? How about double or nothing?"

The loser stopped and turned, glaring at Thom, but didn't seem intent on trying his luck again. "Aww, how about triple or nothing?" he called out, raising the pitch of his voice mockingly.

The older man seemed to be considering before he began moving back towards Thom. "Alright, one more." he muttered, his voice devoid of hope.

Thom smiled, and prepared for his first throw. As the winner, he would throw first giving the loser the final throw in the best of three match.

Thom's first throw thunked into place once more nicking the side of the card. Thom retrieved his knife and bowed to the people focused on the spectacle. The assassin stepped up to his spot and prepared to throw. His knife hit the post and card, decidedly closer to the center of the card than Thom's first throw. One or two people in the crowd cheered, clearly the ones who had put bloodcoin of the loser's odds of winning. Thom approached the card studying it closely, making sure that the older man's knife had really hit closer to the icon in the center of the card.

Rather than moving five paces forward into position the assassin threw from where he stood, slamming the blade home directly in the center of the icon, that was in the center of the card. The old man smiled humbly, looking surprised that he had made the throw, while the assassin smirked. Thom's face turned red with disbelief and fury and started moving towards the older man. The assassin stepped back, bracing himself for whatever Thom may bring. The larger man stopped just short, clinching his fist as if he were preparing to punch the assassin. Instead of throwing a punch though, Thom opened his fist and dropped the appropriate amount of bloodcoin before offering a tiny smile.

"Good show mate." Thom said, before shuffling to the door and leaving for the evening.

The older man stood where he was for a moment, and then smiled again, retrieving his throwing knife, and the card, before returning to the table he had been sitting at before Thom had tried to take his money.

After returning to his seat, he summoned a barmaid and asked her to bring his apologies, along with a few drinks to Ithramir's table.

Written by Turin Wallace

Hearing the loud thunk of metal slamming into wood, Ithramir glances to see that a contestants dagger embedded in the wall next to himself and his companions. Eyeing the man as he approaches to remove it, Ithramir gives him a stern gaze as the man winks at him. Quietly, he thinks to himself,

“It’s not worth starting a fight over. This man is obviously a better knife thrower than he let’s on to be, for if he was truly that bad, it would not have spun properly to it’s mark on the wall. Rather, it would have bounced off harmlessly. This one may need to be watched further.”

Ithramir then contented himself by watching the man beat his opponent. He knew that the man had skill, and he had just suckered his opponent into losing his wager. Turning to a window, Ithramir sees that evening was approaching fast now, and he enjoys the idle chatter of his companions. Soon, the talk is disturbed as a barmaid walks over and announces the man’s apologies and a few drinks. Ithramir simply nods to the man and he and his companions order a round of wine to enjoy as they wait for the evening to completely set in.

Once the woman returns with their drinks, Ithramir and his companions drink their wine and stay to themselves as they wait for the hour to leave. After a bit of time, they can see the darkness outside of the tavern. Calling the barmaid over, Ithramir pays the bill, and they prepare to leave.

After leaving the tavern in Thornton under a haze of thick, moon concealing fog, Ithramir and his companions quietly make their way to the camp where the elves lay in wait for their return. One of the elven rangers looks up in time to see Ithramir and his companions appear out of the fog, making no noise, just as they too had been trained.

Meeting a few of the elder rangers, Ithramir greets them, then softly says,

“The humans still have no idea they are being watched, I trust.”

An older ranger quietly says,

“None, milord.”

Nodding, Ithramir in a hushed tone icily says,

“Good, then our job will be quick. Tell your companies that we will perform a maneuver similar to that of raiding an Orc camp. We will attack on my mark. Leave no one alive.”

Unhesitatingly, the elder rangers softly disappear into the haze to prepare for the night’s work ahead of them all. Ithramir also joins up with his small band of companions, and they quickly prepare themselves. Grabbing his dagger, longsword, and bow, Ithramir sees his people are ready, and most have already begun moving to encircle the human camp.

Making his way to his own spot, companions in tow, Ithramir eyes a sentry posted close to the camp. For a brief moment, Ithramir pauses and thinks on the action he will soon undertake. Brushing the thought aside, he lifts his bow and releases an arrow towards the unsuspecting sentry.

The arrow hit its mark in the man’s throat, and as he falls, the elves begin quietly emerging from the fog, daggers and swords glinting in what little light there was. Soon they begin to enter the camp, quietly assassinating the sleeping soldiers. The sound of flesh being torn open by metal was the only sound that could be heard, if one listened hard enough. Ithramir and Umeawen also engaged in the bloodletting, for they headed to the commanders tent, and once inside, cut the throats of the commanding officers without even blinking. Then they moved to another tent, and continued the work at hand until a ranger made his way over to them.

Tapping a blood soaked hand on Ithramir’s shoulder, he looks at the blood spattered face of Umeawen and says,

“What is it?”

Pointing to the ranger behind them, she says,

“He needs to speak with you, it seems they found something in one of the tents.”

Taking a deep breath, so as to not let himself show his annoyance, Ithramir then says,

“Very well, let’s see what it is that is so important.”

The ranger looked at the approaching figures of Ithramir and Umeawen, and for a moment, shuddered at their appearances. He had heard that Grey Elves enjoyed seeing the blood of their enemies, and as he looked on the blood and gore imbued armor and bodies of the two coming to him, he knew why they were the most feared among elvenkind. Blood, it seemed, was their favorite color…especially that of an enemy.

Stopping before the ranger, Ithramir says quietly and with a tone of ice in his voice,

“Be quick, what is it you found?”

The ranger bowed his head and made a motioning gesture with his hands. Looking behind him, he could see a young woman and a small child being led before them. Ithramir’s eyes blazed red with anger, as he said no one was to live to see the morning, but he had enough sense to hear out the rangers words that he was speaking,

“Milord, our business is with the men, not with this woman and child. She says she was a slave of sorts to the commander of them. The child is his illegitimate son. What would be your wish to do with them?”

Ithramir pondered for a moment. The ranger was correct; he had no quarrel with a helpless woman and her bastard child. No doubt she had been abused enough by the commander of this small force, and was that not reason enough for her to be spared this eve?

Walking over to the woman, Ithramir says,

“Your name, what is it?”

With near lifeless eyes, she says,

“Gennah, or whatever you prefer, since I am my masters slave.”

With a look of disgust that only magnified his horrific visage, Ithramir says,

“Your name is Gennah, and you are no one’s property now. Know that your owner’s blood now drips from my blade and armor, and that no one will abuse you here. The choice is yours, woman. We will let you live, as well as your son, so long as you do not waste anymore time here. Leave now, and I will ensure your safety back into your own lands.”

For a moment, life returned to the woman’s face as she heard him announce her owner’s death. It had been so long since she had dreamed of this day, a day she never thought she would live to see. But she had no home, no place to go. Very quietly, she says,

“I would take your offer, kind lord, if I had a place to call home. But, to be truthful, I was taken as a small girl and raised to be what I am today. So, I have nothing once your business here is done. I pray that you would take me in your care and do with me as you will, so long as my son and I are given the necessities of life.”

Ithramir sensed a strong will in this Gennah. She did not fear him, nor was she overly bold. This pleased him; as such a spirit is not common in these days. But, there was still work to do and he had not the time to ponder what he was going to do with her and her child. Looking at her and then the ranger, he says.

“For now, you will be taken to a safe spot. We will decide your fate later. This ranger will be your guard and escort.”

Turning to the ranger, he says,

“Take her to our camp, watch her, and at the very least get her and her child some food and drink. Now leave us.”

With a slight bow, the ranger softly took the woman by the arm and led her off into the night’s fog. Turning to Umeawen, Ithramir says,

“I really could use less surprises.”

With a smile, she says,

“But Ithramir, life would be so boring without them.”

Shaking his head, he doesn’t reply and the two set off to resume the task at hand.

After a few hours, the slaughter was over. Assembling in the middle of the camp, blood covered elves met to determine the next course of action. Ithramir then speaks,

“Burn the bodies, as well as the entire camp. There will be more of Beridain’s men coming, as I am sure this small force found itself here for a reason. Once whatever else is to arrive, they will look for them, and we must ensure nothing is found. Come, there is much work to be done.”

With that, the Massacre of Thornton was over. They did just as Ithramir commanded, nothing would ever be found of this small army. Only whispers would be told over the years as how this incident, as well as Mavigan’s arrival, would ignite the war that was to come.

Written by Vylia

Keeryn lost the strange animals and their riders in the fog, the sounds of their passing seeming to echo off the air itself. Cursing her luck she headed back in the direction she knew the rest of the camp to be and saw the last of them headed elsewhere. She followed closely, though she was sure not close enough to be noticed.

She watched the event at the camp of Beridain's men with strangely cold eyes, seeming to ignore the slaughter she saw in the place she had called heaven. "Even in death some people are not satisfied with an end to the killing." Somewhat surprised to see the person who was obviously the leader let a woman and child go, Keeryn stayed to the edge of the trees as the bodies were burned. "Blech... you would think in death at least the bodies would smell like roses or something.

Written by Aethelwulf

Leaving Westgale...

Slowly the party made it way out of the stable and onto the avenue that led to the cities gate. Lightning split the night sky as the early revelers hurriedly made their way to the taverns of thier choice. Silently, Alaric led the small party past the huddled gate guards who were stamping their feet and cursing the rainy night. Soon they were out onto the open road, with Alaric at the point, Followed close by Sir Wilhelm and Mavigan. Lao lagged behind slightly and Koric brought up the rear. Once they were clear of the shanties that thronged the gateroad, Alaric and Morion picked up the pace a bit. The party rode hard into the driving rain, and as the evening wore on, the air grew colder. After an hour or so of riding, Alaric spotted a light in the distance. Reigning Morion in a bit, he waited until Wilhelm had drawn near him. "Brother, I fear that this storm will become fiercer as the night draws on. If my memory serves me correctly, there is a small Inn up ahead at a crossroads. Perhaps we should seek shelter for evening, and talk a bit about what options we have before us" Wilhelm Nodded curtly, and moved to speak with Mavigan. As the party neared the Tavern, Alaric guided them to the small stable at its side. A young lad came up to them , and sullenly led their horses into the stable, to bed them down for the night. His demeanor brightened somewhat when Alaric slipped him a golden crown in exchange for the promise that the mounts would be ready to ride come first light. Throwing open the door to the Inn, the party was greeted with the sounds of a maudlin love song being sung by man who was obviously well into his cups.

Alaric motioned to Koric to see about rooms, and then quickly led the group to an empty table against the wall, near the end of the small stage. As the group took their seats, and Lao took up guard near the doorway, Alaric looked into the eyes of Mavigan and asked the question that had been burning his lips for some time.

"Well what shall we do with ye?"

Written by Caitriona

Rowan yawned delicately behind her hand and took another sip of wine. The music was certainly uninspired tonight. “That lout Vorindel will never learn how to find the back of the beat,” she thought to herself wryly. “Oh well, more money for me, I suppose. And speaking of money,” she weighed her purse in her hand and smirked. “Time to make some, my girl.”

Finishing off her wine, she turned to survey the small stage where the troupe was performing. Vorindel was out in front, as usual, plinking away on his lute and warbling some maudlin love song, his favorite material. He was sweating profusely in the heat of the tavern, his lanky brown hair plastered to his forehead. He was obviously drunk. His companions played along gamely, but they were clearly wishing they were somewhere else. Rowan stood up, unbuttoning her shirt a bit further and tousling her blonde hair into an unruly mass of curls. She slung her lute across her back and strolled nonchalantly over to one of the barmaids, a rather pretty young thing who had the eyes of several men in the room on her already. Leaning close to the girl as she served some drinks to a table of elvish patrons, Rowan whispered: “Come dance for me, lass, and we’ll both go to bed richer.” Without waiting for an answer, she turned and made her way between the tables toward the stage, swaying her hips slightly as she walked, attracting attention to herself like a magnet.

Vorindel had finished his song and was acknowledging the tepid applause with a bow that was unwisely deep considering how drunk he was. He staggered, almost smashing his lute on the floor, but Rowan rescued it from his grasp and grabbed his arm to steady him. He blinked up at her, his face breaking into a grin of recognition. “Rowan! Rowan! Good to … “ he burped. “’Scuse me, good to see ya! How’d ya like my new song?”

“Lovely, lovely as always Vorindel. Look, you must be beat after all that“ – yodeling, she muttered to herself – “ singing. Why don’t you take a wee break, get yourself a fresh glass of … whatever that is you’re“ – swilling -- “drinking. I’ll keep these lads out of trouble for you.”

Vorindel threw an arm around her shoulder and gave her a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “Thass my Rowan, always thinkin’ of others, aren’t ya, lassie? You boys be good to my frien’ Ro, you hear?” Before she could jerk her head away, he reached up to twiddle her delicate, slightly pointed ears. “Sweet lil’ elfie, she is,” he said, laughing over his shoulder as he made his way unsteadily off the stage and toward the bar.

Setting Vorindel’s lute aside, Rowan shook her head in distaste, then turned to face the musicians, leaning in close and murmuring to them conspiratorially. “All right, gentlemen. We’re in a bar, not a lady’s boudoir. Love songs won’t get these folks worked up, now will they?” The players exchanged looks and the drummer spoke up.

“An’ it please you, ma’am, we’re bloody sick of love songs.”

“Love can go hang!” snarled the reed player, spitting with deadly accuracy into Vorindel’s winecup, which sat unattended by his stool. Rowan had the feeling that this was not the first time he had done so. She pretended not to notice.

“Oh, love’s okay, but the key is in how you sing it. My brand of love is a little more, shall we say, muscular?” She answered their grins with one of her own, before raising her lute and running her fingers over the strings experimentally. “We want money, right? So we want heat, we want sweat, and we want dancing. First song is Tlas Marellyn in four, drummer come in on my signal, the rest of you jump in when you’re ready. Play hard for me, boys."

She turned to face the crowd and stepped to the front of the stage, throwing her hands up in the air, commanding silence. She could feel the full force of her charisma flowing through her and she knew she had them. Without shouting, her silky voice filled the room and drew all eyes. “My friends, good evenin’ to ye! I’m Rowan Cor’Ellyn, I’ve traveled far from my home beyond the sea, learned many a song, and with these fine fellows to back me up I’m here to share ‘em with ye. So buy another round, settle back, and prepare to forget your cares and worries. Trouble is past -- tonight, we live!”

And with that she launched into the opening bars of Tlas Marellyn, a favorite dance tune from the south. “This should get that barmaid dancing,” she mused to herself, for the girl’s black hair and dark eyes marked her clearly as someone from the southern reaches of the kingdom. She let the melody lilt under her fingers a bit longer and then brought the drummer in with a slight nod. He responded immediately with a tight, seductive beat. Rowan smiled with satisfaction and looked out over the audience, pleased but unsurprised to see heads nodding, feet tapping, and the barmaid approaching the stage, the music already singing in her hips. Rowan cast a slight glamour over her, not that she needed one with the light shining in those black eyes, but a bit more curl in that glossy hair and a bit more of a swell in her bosom wouldn’t hurt any.

The girl began to dance in the clear space in front of the stage, swaying to the beat, a bit tentative at first, then with more abandon as the other musicians joined in the tune. Soon the crowd was on its feet, stamping on the floor, pounding their glasses on the tables, craning for a glimpse of the dancer as she strutted and twirled. A tall, dark man, also a southron by his looks, fought his way through the mass and grabbed the girl around the waist, sending her into a spin, then pulled her into a writhing embrace before setting out across the floor with her in a complicated series of steps that the girl matched with effortless grace. Rowan laughed out loud at the beauty of it. “Yes,” she exulted to herself, as her fingers flew faster and faster across the strings, “tonight we live!”

Written by Aethelwulf

Suddenly, Alaric's question was lost in the applause of the bars patrons. Alaric looked up to the stage to see a slender elven maiden with blond hair, grey eyes, and soft, full lips taking the stage. The band then breaks into an almost mystical sounding, and very rythmic song that he hadn't heard before, but was bewitching none the less. Looking to his companions, he tried to move closer so that they could talk over the music, when a dark haired bar maid started dancing. Soon the crowd was clapping and making all manner of noise as the bands music inspired a patron to get up and dance with the bar maiden. Scowling at the elven maiden leading the band, Alaric leaned in close to hear Mavigans reply....

Written by Archeantus

The court was a swarm of activity moments after he vanished from the throne room, leaving Beridane little time to explain. Gadianton had whispered the possible explanation in parting, one that would further induce the legend that would follow.

"The truth." The rogue suggested haughtily, as he slipped hurriedly across the court and through the hidden passage between an alcove and a very large painting of a past queen.

Night soon fell across the Kingdom, the moon gleamed high above. There was a chill in the air and a slight fog was present. After an hour spent at the pub where not only did he secure some clothes (from a drunkard about his size who spoke too quickly) but he also gleaned some interesting pieces of information, such as the name of some of his fellow assassins, Gadianton borrowed a horse from the stables and eagerly began his dark hunt.

"A shame." He thought as he made his way down the shadowed road, "even the local populace knows who the assassins are. Yet, then again the situation seems to have turned them into heros. Saviors of the Kingdom sent forth to kill the an heir to complete the coop, much like Knights. How ironic."

A dark smile spread along his tanned face. He marked and cataloged every landmark as he sped along becoming familiar with the terrain. He felt alien, everything was completely foreign, the land, the names, the world. The mystery of his appearence in this place plagued his mind. It was like a poison that was slowly eating him up inside. Yet the antidote seemed to be at the end of the life of this heir. Her death would be the catalyst to his fevered mind. The idea that the more he became who he knew he was, the more he would remember sprang to the forefront of his mind. And that was a killer. Who he was, was the only thing that he could cling to, the only thing that had semblence. This world as he watched it pass across him as he rode was meaningless as far as he was concerned. He cared for nothing in it, he possessed no memory of it. He didn't belong in this place and until he found a reason, he would take as many as he could out with him down a road of pitch none would even dare look at.

He thought of the Captain he'd killed earlier in the day. It was a beautiful sight and one he'd remember in his dreams. He wondered what it was he felt as he watched the whelp's life drain from him. And then it came to him in a revelation.

It was envy.

Cresting the hill, he reered his steed and overlooked the dark countryside. Gazing out across the deepening fog and the bright moon overhead he spotted the lights of the town he sought.


Written by Rowan

Rowan grinned in triumph as the room erupted with cheers at the end of her song, and coins rained down around her feet. One face in the crowd was not pleased by the entertainment, however -- that fellow over there with the black hair who had scowled so at her. Scooping up a silver svalt from the floor she handed it over to a serving girl (after testing it with her teeth) and nodded slightly toward his table. "Buy that man over there a drink from me, and tell him he shouldn't frown so much, it quite mars his good looks."

Written by Talonmane

A ship of this class has a crew of around 40. At least 5 will be above or below for operations, and I've killed 13... Jagan was thinking as he launched himself down onto a half-dozen sailors trying to make their way up the steps from the main deck to the fore. He took several moderate cuts to his body while tumbling through, then came up with a battlecry and introduced himself further with steel....make that 18.

Nearby, the cloaked stranger fought the 'skaner crew too, and Jagan noted that he seemed to do well even amoung many, but that he now appeared to have a bit of trouble against the angry frigate captain. Is the captain good enough to be pushing him back? or does this man deliberately lead his foe this way to either gain help or put the death of the captain upon me? No matter, the servant of the Traitor dies regardl...

!!! The star of Ancora!?

The Barbarian held up the body of a just-killed sailor as a shield in his left hand while he took time to gaze in surprise at the stranger's sword and the silver emblem upon it's pommel: the sword of an Ancoran Royal Guard. I don't have the luxury of trying to figure out just who he is at this moment. First things first... Jagan tossed the body toward two other approaching sailors, turned and impaled another upon his gauntlet, dragged that body with him as a new shield while moving smoothly forward past the stranger and in that same motion he brought the Axeslayber in an uppercut through the flank of the captain. Before continuing further in the direction of the aft pilot deck, he met the stranger's eyes and said "We will talk later." Then picking the body of his latest shield (which had still been dragged along through the maneuver) up over his head, he hurled it into 3 more oncoming foes. Behind him, the captain's lifeless form could be heard meeting the deck with a dull thud.

Backing away from the dying body and seeing the blood-splattered Barbarian approach, head lowered with a gutteral growl deep in his throat, tightening his grip on the massive battleaxe at his right and flexing his fist at his of the three sailors decided his chances were better amoung the sea creatures than here and ran for the railing. This distracted the other two, to their detriment. Jagan continued toward the rear of the ship where he could see several Dwarven and Human crewmembers from the Wavehammer finally engaged with the 'skaners.

"Make that 23..." he said aloud.

Written by Pharsalus

Geirik leaned over the craft's aft railing seeking anything that might get him to shore as quickly as possible. He knew somewhere there was a shore that awaited only to touch the souls of his boots in his continued persued for a dead king's retribution.

But there was nothing, only open ocean that stretched neverending before him for as far as his hungry eyes could see. He cursed to himself as he moved from one side of the boat to the other, fighting off the occaisional Skaner riff-raff, dodging bodies and bloodspatter where necessary.

'Talk,' he says! Geirik's thoughts were almost indignant. A bloody...*grunt*...Barbarian...wants to TALK!? Since when!? Talk, indeed! I've no time for it! My blade is hungry for a traitor's blood, and I've...

His thought fell from the forefront of his mind as he spied the door leading into the bowels of the ship. He had no way out, with all lifeboats deployed (those that weren't cut or burned in the battle), and there were perhaps there was information to be found below that could further illuminate the whereabouts of either Beridane or the Princess Mavigan. The Barbarian's face still sat on the back of his thoughts, nagging his memory into recalling a name, place, situation...ANYTHING to identify him. Judging from the words he uttered as their eyes met and the curious gleam in his eyes, Geirik wagered the brute recognized him as well, at least by the symbols he bore on his sword and pendant.

But there was no more time for such senseless pondering. Raising his blades in defense against a rampaging (and drunk) Skaner mate, the old Hunter quickly dispatched him and darted through the door and downward into the poorly lit lower decks.

Captain's quarters, Captain's quarters... He whispered it over and over again as he frantically scanned the rooms on both sides of the hall. His mission hadn't continued long enough before the sea battle began to grant him access to the Captain's quarters -- he hadn't even been told where it was!

Bloody hell...BLOODY HELL! Like a rat in a box, I am! identity revealed...and being no closer to Ancora than I was 7 damnable hours ago!

Geirik fumed -- he always had been cursed with a short temper, shorter still since the loss of his son. Failure picked and prodded him like a child on a leashed dog, and he hated it. Though, as angry as he could become, he feared it with every fiber of his being. His thoughts became suddenly mellow at the recollection of his son's corpse...

Too many failures...too many mistakes. Beridane...I must get to Beridane!

Had he the ability to cry, his eyes would be watering...but he was not, so his face simply contorted some, half in sorrow, half in frustration at the poor design of the ship through which he now traversed. He turned a sharp right corner, his face passing close to a wall sconce enough so to reveal several scars down his cheek and neck. He passed through, turning this way and that, opening and peering into every door he could find, looking for anything that resembled the captain's quarters. He was almost ready to slam his fist into a wall when he opened the very last door on the hall. As he went to put forward his running momentum, as he'd had to do with all the other secured doors, he became painfully aware that this door was not completely latched. It was already ajar and free-swinging.

Before the Bounty Hunter could catch himself, he was already in full tilt, hand on the knob, and cursing all the way down. If it weren't bad enough that he had fallen prey to overexertion and throwing himself off balance, he felt his toe catch a step on his way in, sending him flying forward with a cry and a grunt as his body slammed into several items of moderate hardness. He felt the weight of books, a desk, papers, ink bottles, and other miscellaneous items falling down atop him, covering him partially in a mound of tumult. He groaned -- it took him a moment to regather his senses. He shifted his head to try to look about -- he saw only the top of a desk and whatever pages of tomes and articles that happened to be facing him.

But from without the pile, a muffled voice cried out unassuredly.

"Who...who are you!? What do you want!? Identify yourself before your superior officer!"

Geirik grinned as the thought streaked his mind.

The first officer...!

He forced his arms beneath him and flexed with all his strength. The items on top of him began to shift and roll to one side or the other, and the great desk began to tilt and scoot away. Geirik was almost up, though he still could not see for all the books and papers covering his head and face, when he heard the thumping of boots in the doorway. They were heavy, obviously wrought by feet borne by a very large individual.

The same quaking voice called out, this time in the direction of the doorway.

"Who are you people!? Get out of my quarters!! GUARDS!"

Written by Teran

Teran watched the elves leave the tavern from under the protection of his hood. He wondered with mute curiosity what business or pleasure had summoned them out of one of the most popular taverns in Thornton. They had an aura of purpose about them, drawing a thin smile out of Teran.

"Definitely business." the assassin thought, offering a mock salute to the backs of the retreating elves.

The night passed quickly and during the next day there were murmurs of fires outside of town. The assassin knew that Beridane was sending small groups of armed men across the border, testing the strength or resolve of the elves and perhaps hoping to recruit agents from the population of Thornton. The assassin smiled in the shadows of his hood finding the fate of Beridane's lackeys to be adequitly satisfying.

The assassin considered exploring the forest nearby to see if he could locate any information that might prove valuable to him at the mass grave the elves had created, but didn't want to risk having to explain his presence to the elves assuming he was given the opportunity to explain anything.

Instead he was content swapping rumors with the locals in a tavern near the edge of town just off the main street. The tavern wasn't the town's best (or worst), but its location was perfect. Teran sat in a corner facing the door shrouded in his cloak. To prospective employers it would be apparent that he was accepting contracts. It was a bit of deception on Teran's part, he wasn't really accepting contracts however he was interested in discovering what was out there, and more importantly who was out there.

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