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Book One - The Elven March to Westgale

Written by - Teran Page 23 Book 1

Teran watches Ithramir's escapades with a smirk. It was an impressive lightshow Teran supposed. Unlike anything he had seen in quite some time.

Once his "escorts" regained their presence of mind, they stripped him of his weapons and armor and placed him in the lockhouse until Ithramir could speak with Teran personally.

Teran was left with a simple black tunic and pants. Silvery moonlight streamed through some kind of window or skylight high off the ground. The assassin sat on the floor near the door, resting his back against the wall, concentrating on healing his wound.

Written by - Renalis

"They are not intruders, they are merely serving staff newly arrived. Please escort these people back, they are new to our home and our ways. There should be staff at work in the kitchens even now." Sheathing his sword Renalis gives Lithwyn a deep bow as she turns and leaves. Crystal follows suit and sheaths her blade also bowing as Lithwyn leaves their presence.

"These are likely the cause of the Undeath spell. Perhaps a mage can use them to trace back to the Necromancer that enchanted them, who may still be in the area." Turning toward Crystal, Renalis whispers "You must go down to the courtyard, see to it that the Queen remain safe." With that Crystal turns and runs off toward the courtyard.

"But lady Lithwyn said..." The Elven guard is cut off by Renalis "I know what the lady said, but that is because she does not know who we are... and I am truely sorry for this deception, I will speak with Wilhelm..."

Crystal runs down into the courtyard and is immediately assaulted by the powerful winds. She witnesses Ithramir's power as an Avatar in addition to Mavigan's display of power but not once does she fear for either of them. Crystal knows the workings of the Gods are not always clear but their intentions are true and just. Approaching close to Mavigan after Ithramir leaves. Crystal bows low, "My Queen, you know not of my husband and I, but despite the false pretences we used to get into this place, we have come protect and serve you my Queen." Kneeling down beside her young Queen, "May I start by tending to these wounds?"

Pushing past the guard and entering room, Renalis steps up to Wilhelm and goes down onto one knee, "Wilhelm, you know not of myself and my Wife but know this, we are here to help protect our Queen and to protect this land, I know we have come into this place under false pretences but I ask you to give me the chance to prove that I am an honourable person; I know that it was powerful necromancy that animated the fallen guards, and if you would grant me permission to examine the rings I may dicern the Necromancer's location." Remaining on one knee, his head hung low in respect, feeling the immence power eminating from outside in the form of not one but two Avatars, Renalis awaits Wilhelm's response.

Written by - Agmund

Feeling somewhat lost in the throng of activity he came to an abrupt halt off to the side of the Citadel gates. There, placing his back against the cool stone wall, he slowly sunk down, dropping the saddlebags from his shoulder. His mind wondered for a time, pondering if it was merely fate and the tide of war that perhaps brought him here, or if it was something else completely.

The road here was a long one, and it had taken its toll both on body and mind, but Tinorb had drawn him here in his own way. That he decided was certain. Yet it had been many years since he had felt such a pull from the All Father, a stirring he had grown almost unfamiliar with. “You think far to much,” he cursed aloud at himself.

His eyes closed and just as quickly his mind cleared. The crescendo of noise around him was gone. There would be no interruptions to his prayer, no break in his minds voice as he spoke. He asked for one thing, simple and clear… direction for a faithful servant.

Written by - Trinni Shannon

Lithwyn closely follows the guards and their captive, her hand resting on the hilt of a dagger within the folds of her robe. Anger stiring within her heart, even now, she glances cautiously at the would be assassin. Ignoring the tear-streaked face of the beautiful woman, she watches one of the guards unlock the large heavy door, openning on a long spiralling staircase leading down. Walking in front, she takes a torch from the wall to her side. Holding it before her, she glances around in time to notice the wind pick up as the door closes behind the last guard.

Following the stairs down and down, with only the sound of the crackling flame and the footsteps of the small band - two soft pairs and three pairs of heavy, armored steps - echoing off of the curved walls. It had been a while since Lithwyn had traversed this path. There hasn't been a need in so long...

How did she get within our walls unnoticed? She isn't very strong to be crying over being caught. Did she think she would get away with it? This can't be a shock. Who does she work for? Beridane? He would love to see Mavigan dead. Who could follow such a man? How did she get within our walls?

Turning briefly, pausing on a step, she looks the bound woman in the eye for a moment, then glances over her bonds and at the guards. Satisfied, she turns around again and finishes the descent.

Reaching the bottom at last, the awkward group walks through the halls. At the last door, the largest door, Lithwyn reaches within the folds of her robe. Withdrawing a large ring, several keys looped on it, she quickly finds the one she wants and places it within the lock. Turning her hand, the loud sound of the lock turning in its tumbler echoing off the walls, she places her other hand against the door and pushes hard. Groaning in protest, the door moves along its hinges to reveal a large room.

Frowning, hating this room with a passion, she nonetheless moves quickly around lighting torches. Gesturing with a hand, the guards transfer their ward to a board, tilted on its short side. Longer than the tallest within the citadel, strong leather straps at the bottom and top alude to its purpose. Quickly binding the woman, in their anger they tighten the straps too far and pinch her skin. The torches lit, Lithwyn turns to see the guards staring at the bound woman, captivated by her beauty. With a sound of disgust and anger, she strides to them and pushes the closest one away.

"She infiltrated our home, nearly killed our GUEST, could have killed any number of people during her little visit, and you GAWK at her?" Throwing glares over her shoulder, she points to the one who had been standing directly before the woman. "You. Please go and find Nysden. Tell him to bring E'las along and make sure E'las brings his... equipment." The guard stumbles out, mumbling apologies as the other two step back toward the door.

Turning back towards the woman, Lithwyn takes a long look, etching her face in her mind. Brow furrowed, she notes the lithe, strong body, her long hair, the beauty she probably used to trick countless men, the clean lines left amid the smudges of dirt on her cheeks - the path of her tears. Staring into her eyes, Lithwyn's hand on the hilt of her dagger, she drags out the silence for a moment.

"My name is Lithwyn Ehlonna Deltheron, Lady of Lothiel-Gadith. You have broken into my home and attempted to kill a guest of mine." Glaring, Lithwyn's face suddenly relaxes as she controls the anger within. Openning her hand, not realizing she had clenched it, she exhales slowly, her elven upbringing returning to her. Glad, for once, that Kaia'hanas isn't with her to see and feel such anger, Lithwyn levels her gaze into the large eyes of the silent woman.

"You now know my name. What is your name, child?"

Written by - Wilhelm

As Ithramir left the room to go below, Wilhelm moved to the balcony to see Mavigan bandaging her mysterious defender with strips torn from her now bloody chemise, while Isuiln watched and other guards secured the now stirring assassin. Matters seemed in hand down there fore the moment. "She is going to need some clothing," Wilhelm thought.

He went to her closet and took down her travel cloak and then her new riding dress. On top of those he added her light leather body armor, her leather vambraces with empty dagger sheathes, and a pair of soft leather boots. He rolled these into a bundle and secured them with a leather belt with several sheathed throwing knives. While he was doing this he could hear the angry voices of Mavigan and Ithramir below, although he could not make out their words. "Those two cousins just do not get along." he thought. "You could light bonfires with the sparks that fly when they meet." He wished Mavigan would better understand that the Ancorans were guests of the elves and that Ithramir was their host and the Commander of a citadel at war.

As he stood up, bundle in hand, he felt power growing in the courtyard and heard the howling of wind outside. Just then one of the servants came and knelt before him and said,

"Wilhelm, you know not of myself and my Wife but know this, we are here to help protect our Queen and to protect this land, I know we have come into this place under false pretences but I ask you to give me the chance to prove that I am an honourable person; I know that it was powerful necromancy that animated the fallen guards, and if you would grant me permission to examine the rings I may discern the Necromancer's location."

Wilhelm looked at him closely and then extended his senses to scan the heartfire of the man before him. It was indeed the heartfire of a trained mage. While Wilhelm could not truth read, that being a priestly ability, the heartfire shown pure and steady with no sign of deceit. Wilhelm felt again his isolation from others of his Order, and wished he had news of them. A Priest of Tinurb would be very handy just now.

Just then the power below rose to a peak and redoubled. "Wait here!" Wilhelm ordered, and ran to the balcony in time to see the confrontation between Mavigan, who was beginning to manifest as the Avatar of Nagarren, and Ithramir, who was now fully manifested as the Avatar of Avandor. His immediate urge to go down and protect Mavigan was quelled by His Voice within: "Stay! The Others have matters in hand, and no harm will come to their Avatars." "Very well," he thought with a mental bow, "I will trust You all know what You are doing."

He turned and walked back in time to see the missing guards run gasping into the room to report and then shudder as they saw the sundered bodies of their two slain comrades. "About time you all reported to me," he said in a biting voice. "You should have done so when the fake Ithramir first arrived and this all could have been avoided. The Queen was assaulted in your absence, but she surivived. Now you three go down to the courtyard and guard her. If I hear of any further failure to follow orders you will be cleaning out the old privies with a toothbrush. And take this to her, as she will need more suitable clothes." Wilhelm handed the bundle to Ethan, the Queen's Guardsman he knew Mavigan would recognize. The three Queen's Guards saluted and left.

He returened to the mage kneelling before him, but before he could speak he felt again the voice from within. Renalis saw Wilhelm pause and then open his eyes wide and grin with joy. Wilhelm turned to the three elven Rangers remaining from the night guards. "There is an old friend approaching the citadel, a Priest of Tinorb. Run down to the gates and have them invite Father Agmund inside and bring him to me at the Scholar's Tower." They saluted and left.

Wilhelm turned back to the kneeling mage. "Very well, Renalis. I will take you up on your offer. Let us go together to see the mage Resini in the Scholar's Tower and perhaps the two of you together can use these rings to locate the Necromancer and to scan the area for other dark magics."

Turning to another ranger, he asked for guidance to the Scholar's Tower. The ranger, named Elemir, led Wilhelm and Renalis there and knocked on the door. After a pause, a robed elf opened the door and looked out. Wilhelm apologized to Mage Resini for awakening him at this late hour, but explained quickly the events and the need, and handed him the pouch with the rings. The two mages moved over to a nearby scrying table and fell into a professional discussion while Wilhelm and Elemir stood by. The ranger understood Wilhelm's silent signal that he was to keep watch over Renalis.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen watched as Mavigan continued her run toward Ithramir, she continues closer and closer as if all her will was focused on reaching him. Ardwen just watched and waited, his mind was chaos, his dual oaths clashing in his mind and mocking him. Both bore Elven blood, and while Ithramir's was pure, Mavigan had so far alligned herself with the enemies of the Elves in this world.

It did not take long to settle the dispute, Mavigan drew near when suddenly Ithramir changed. His armor began steaming from some unknown source of heat, his eyes became molten pools of radiance, and his hair burned vibrant red. Mavigan lunged and a resounding report echoed from the Citadel walls. The young princess fell backwards from the force, and then the thing that was Ithramir spoke in a voice that was only partly his:

"Mavigan Brelonna, daughter of men and elves, earthly avatar of Nagarren, do not challenge those that hold you safe. Your will may be strong, but you lack refinement. Your will makes you feel safe, but it is your greatest downfall. Your enemy does not lay in these walls points the flaming blade towards the gates they lay out there. My avatar Ithramir goes to battle to protect our dying people, he is harsh, but with reason. We will not allow Ithramir to fall, at least not from your blades, for his fate has already been cast ages ago, when the world was young. Further, I and Kaia'hanas call Nagarren friend. Remember this."

Ardwen turned away and began walking out of the courtyard the instant this . . . avatar finished speaking. It was all too clear to him now; he’d seen this double-edge ploy before. So the thing that stood before him was the divine essence of some god, once he knew this Ardwen had to restrain himself from spitting on the ground in disgust. He’d seen what the gods do before: they use people, like little pawns in some grand game only they can play, and when the game was done they tossed those pieces aside. A voice rang out again, this time it sounded more like Ithramir, Ardwen blocked it out mentally and muttered darkly, “When the game is done both the king and pawn go back in the same box.”

He continued to walk away, his pace neither fast nor slow. His face betrayed his inner emotions though. The form Ithramir had assumed, and the power Mavigan was drawing on, he’d grown sick of watching such things in his time. The power the gods promised always came at a price, a price that was convenient for them! But it was the almost fiery form that Ithramir had donned that concerned him the most. He had seen warriors in his world that could do a similar thing, though their powers seemed to be to a lesser extent. They grew wings of flame and their eyes became the same molten orbs.

This time he gave voice to his resentment in a bitter tone, “All gods are liars. It doesn’t matter where or which one. They’re nothing but puppet-masters that vie for souls and followers. Controlling, condemning, manipulating . . . I know how they can fail even their most “devout” when the hour is darkest. Never again! Never again will I follow their deceptions!”

Written by - Agmund

There against the wall he rested for a time, watching the various people pass by, the gates opening and closing. He even heard whisperings of a Dwarven army moving towards the citadel, but to what end he could not discern.

"Agmund," his name was called out, which caused him to slip the hood of his robe back and peer curiously. Three elves appeared to be looking for him, Rangers he judged by the way they were dressed. After rising to his feet he slipped the faded brown saddlebags over his shoulder once more. “Father Agmund?” one of the elves was looking directly at him as he spoke.

“Yes… I am Father Agmund,” he said with a small amount of caution wondering if he had perhaps broken some sort of custom or law that he wasn’t aware of. He could think of no other reason why three elves would be looking for him.

“We are to escort you to the Scholars Tower,” the ranger was looking at him with no apparent ill will, his hand extending towards the gate as it swung open. His two comrades were there beside him now, since they had evidently found the man they were looking for.

The old priest considered what predicament he had gotten himself into. “If this is about some sort of obscure tax or the like,” he said gruffly. “Then you should know I don’t have so much as a copper.” With that he shrugged and walked thru the gate behind one of the elves who was leading the way. He wasn’t sure, but he could have sworn he heard the two behind him chuckling.

Written by - Archeantus

Upon entering the room, they placed her upon a slanted board, fastening her wrists securely in place. The pain in her broken arm made her eyes water, but she made no sound.

Jasmine had begun to gaze solely upon the elven woman, her mysterious eyes never faltered, never turning upon the males in the room. She knew what would come, and her mind was quickly gathering strength. However, she found herself in a position she had never experienced. She had never been caught, never been punished for her countless crimes. They would ask her questions. There were a great many she would answer freely. Yet, they would never discover, even to death, who she truly was.

As so her dark eyes, deeply passive and defiant, watched the elven woman stand before her, weighing her perceptions, her motivations, her allegiances, her tactics, before she spoke.

"My name is Lithwyn Ehlonna Deltheron, Lady of Lothiel-Gadith. You have broken into my home and attempted to kill a guest of mine."

Jasmine’s keen eyes studied the elf’s temperament, watched her slender hand grasp the hilt of the dagger beside her.

Lithwyn, bore those large almond eyes down upon her, and they seemed to try to look into one another’s souls.

“You now know my name. What is your name, child?"

Jasmine waited to respond, showing a beginning of defiance.

“Send the males from this room immediately. I will shortly have them under my control.”

Her eyes flashed confidence, and one of the guards without thinking, placed his hand on his sword, transfixed.

Written by - Rikshanthas

Kenthalas sighed as he trudged along on his patrol. Like all the elves he knew his duty to his commander and his people, indeed he would gladly lay down his life to keep his people safe. Still, it did not keep him from fervently wishing he were back at the Citadel, and not out in this pervasive drizzle which had started to fall, soaking through his cloak and armour until he was drenched to the bone.

Thank the Gods I shan't have to dawdle around here much longer, he thought to himself as he gave the all-clear signal to the other 3 rangers in his small group. There's nothing out here anyway; I can't imagine anyone, even Beridane, would be fool enough to attack the Citadel tonight. He had heard from another patrol of the reinforcements that had arrived; with their added strength it would indeed take legions to get anywhere near the Citadel, and Kenthalas doubted Beridane would be willing or able to commit to such a siege for some time.

The patrol was about to go off-duty when he noticed something strange. At first he thought it was merely his tired eyes playing tricks on him in the darkness, but no, there was indeed a slight glimmer off to his right side, forming a vaguely oval shape about half a man's size. As he watched, it grew more pronounced; the very air seemed to warp inward like a whirlpool with a faint crackling sound, which was heard by his fellow rangers.

"Magic," Kenthalas hissed. All four rangers drew their weapons nervously. "Alwynne, fetch the nearest patrol, then get back to the Citadel and inform lord Ithramir of this. No doubt the mages there have felt this disturbance and will want to know exactly what is happening. Quickly now! Krythanis, Telin, spread out and train your bows on whatever may come through that thing. Be ready to fire on my order." The two rangers immediately melted into the woods, their bows drawn and ready. Kenthalas himself drew his sword and took up position behind a large oak near the rapidly-opening gate.

The portal was almost fully open by Kenthalas' estimation when another 6 elven rangers arrived, weapons at the ready. After quickly sizing up the situation they also took up ambush positions around the gate, agreeing to wait on Kenthalas' order to attack.

Not in their wildest imagination could they have expected what emerged.

A single creature stepped out of the gate, so unlike anything the nervous rangers had previously seen that it frightened them all. It stood slightly shorter than a man, about 5 and a half feet tall, yet its stance was almost a crouch on legs more like a bird's than a man's; Kenthalas imagined it could well tower over a man, were it to stand at its full height. Its appearance invoked childhood nightmares of demons and dragons: a pair of gleaming ivory horns protruded almost a foot and a half from its head, connected by a crest that matched the deep slate gray of its hide; thick, coarse strands of what could have been hair, but instead looked like black and silver rope, hung in a sort of ponytail beneath the crest, reaching almost to its waist. A long, muscular tail like a reptile's swayed lazily between its legs. Its overly-long, spindly arms ended in four long fingers with wickedly sharp claws.

In contrast to the creature's horrifying appearance, its garments were such that the wealthiest of Ancora would almost seem to be wearing burlap rags. Ornately-stitched robes of an almost royal violet, decorated with complicated patterns in what seemed to be pure gold, hung about its slim figure. Beneath these was a closely-woven, form-fitting garment of what Kenthalas could have sworn was mithril, but for its ebony colour. It also wore an overtunic and thigh and "shin" guards of a glossy azure material similar to cured leather, which the elves could not identify; and a runed bracelet of gleaming gold and platinum housing a blue crystal the size of a small hen's egg was clasped around its right wrist. The bracelet was apparently the gate-opener, as the swirling portal dissipated at the touch of certain runes on its face.

The creature seemed nervous, its glowing cyan eyes darting back and forth among the trees as if expecting an attack. Kenthalas hesitated, not knowing what he should do with such an ... alien creature. He signaled the rangers to be ready to fire at the slightest hint of threat, then stepped out from behind the oak, sword drawn, deciding to confront a possible threat rather than risk what could come if this were a scout of some kind.

"You are completely surrounded," he announced clearly in the common tongue. "You will surrender any weapons you are carrying and come with us for questioning. Any attempt at escape or any hostile action will be met with immediate, deadly force. Do you understand?"

The creature seemed somewhat taken aback at his sudden appearance, then relieved upon seeing him clearly, then confused when he started to speak, cocking its head slightly as though attempting to understand a foreign tongue. When he finished delivering his ultimatum, the creature looked at him with a puzzled expression and said something that sounded like "Zhe'Aus! Velekan riL'en'DraI, xyl'tnaq rIk'Shanth'aS qwitzutch itLaniF." The hollow, echoing voice surprised the elf, as it came from no apparent source: the creature had no visible mouth. Then, as if knowing its words fell on uncomprehending ears, it fell silent, and merely spread its arms in either acquiescence or frustration, Kenthalas wasn't sure.

***

Well at least they look like Light Elves, the Lorekeeper thought to himself as more like the first one he had encountered materialized from among the trees. And they are certainly adapted to the woodlands. However I distinctly remember the riL'en'DraI being a good deal friendlier. He glanced over their armour, and recalled the strange speech of the first one. Perhaps this is why the Gatekeys are so widely maligned, he surmised. This is not exactly where I planned to be; perhaps my pronunciation was off? Still, this "accident" does present many new opportunities for study. I shall have to take notes, he thought excitedly, allowing these mysterious elves to escort him wherever they meant to go.

Written by - Pharsalus

Geirik squatted behind a small shrub in the shadow of a large tree twenty yards or so off a large drainage culvert at the base of the fortress. He was invisible to all but the keenest of eyes, the wide, dark brim of his hat negating any shimmer that his eyes may have otherwise produced. The air was cool but stagnant, held against the forest floor by a thick canopy of leaves and interconnecting branches. What little light was present fell in dim, jagged pieces at Geirik's feet, and the entire area stank of death and magic.

He kept his eyes locked upon the culvert and what of the surrounding area he could see. The back of his mind burned - the beast within him was restless, the disturbance he was chasing undoubtedly close. Geirik had spent the last hour moving up and down the base of the fortress trying to find an easy way in. Though there were several other culverts like the one he now watched and various windows closer to the main gates, to persue entrance there would no doubt reveal his position, especially before the careful watch of Elven eyes. He sighed quietly to himself, unsure of what he was even doing here. His loyalty was to the royal family, and here he sat at the base of a strange fortress chasing a power he knew nothing about. Rubbing his fingers together in a casually nervous motion and taking one last look at his immediate surroundings, Geirik moved to get up. He stood quickly but was cautious to remain concealed in shadow, taking a moment to ensure the brim of his hat still sat low on his brow.

Taking a deep breath and reassuring himself that he was more than able to withstand any threat he may face, Geirik began moving forward. He began slowly, putting one foot carefully before the other and keeping his footfalls soft. His became increasingly confident as he approached the threshhold of light and shadow, his pace and stepping becoming more casual.

Then he stopped. His grip around the hilt of his swords tightened, the squeak of his gloves distantly audible in the cool, dark silence. Geirik's face remained emotionless, his gaze locked upon the ground in front of him, his mind lit up with the liche's presence.

I sense the living...

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen

Alulael sat on the soft grass. Her legs crossed and her eyes closed, her arms infront of her chest in an intricate design of twisted fingers. Forming the symbol of Nessanomin*.

“Life and life. Death and death. Ash and dust. Birth and eternity.” Her voice repeated the mantra over and over as her mind became tranquil. She felt her Goddess press around her body, laying hands on the trees with gentle care and giving Alulael a gentle reinvigorment to keep the exhaustion of her mind that screamed for sleep at bay.

A soft breeze wafted through the clearing, smelling of flowers. Shortly the encampment returned to it's calm night air. The men wrapped their blankets closer and sat closer to the fire. Over head the stars glittered like a thousand flowers against deep, dark waters. Diosr walked up as Alulael lowered her hands and opened her eyes.

In a whisper he said, “Nargarren gives her blessing lass?”

“Yes, Diosr, she gives her blessing on this land, though hardly needed considering.”

Diosr smiled, “That is good, will you join me in the command tent? While I prefer dwarven food it would be unseemly if we did not attend... do not worry; I have not told anyone what you are or what you are about.”

Alulael smiled as Diosr made an effort to keep his words to a scholarly tone instead of his regular slang. Her deep green eyes sparkled with the radient afterglow of one connected to her Goddess.

“Yes, I would like that very much Diosr.”

Hours later at first dawn...

Two elves road up on the citidel fast, so fast even their fresh horses were lathered. However, their eyes did not show sorrow or fear but excitement. They checked their horses as they came up on the gates one of them threw his voice.

“Open the gates! We are men of the 7th scouting party! We have news for Commander Ithramir!”

Nodding the men at the gates gave the signal to open the gates. Quickly enough the men entered the citidel and began looking for Commander Ithramir.

*Young Widsom

Written by - Trinni Shannon

“Send the males from this room immediately. I will shortly have them under my control.”

Raising an eyebrow in confusion, Lithwyn turns in the direction of the woman's gaze. The guard, hand on his hilt, stares blankly, mesmerized by the woman. Surprised, her hand slides away from her own dagger as she takes in the meaning of the stance. Looking from the guard to the bound woman and back again, she realizes what is taking place. Whirling around, Lithwyn strikes the captive as hard as she can. While the trance is broken, she sends the guards from the room through gritted teeth. Glaring at the smug smile, a welt already rising on the woman's cheek, she then turns to follow the guards out the door.

Closing it behind her, standing in the hallway, a hushed exchange ensues.

"Do not enter this room again unless I specifically ask for you. When others arrive, unless they are female, bid them remain out here until I allow their admittance." Looking from one guard to another, she then continues her admonition directly to the guard who was so entranced.

"And if I should require your assistance within, you are NOT to look at the woman under ANY circumstances. This goes for the both of you, and any other male who should enter. If you have a difficult time following this request," her voice slowly rises despite herself as she utters the promise, "you will have worse things to worry about than an incoming Orc invasion!" Quieting her voice, she glances between them and calmly asks, "Lle rangwa?**"

Looking into the eyes of the swayed guard, she holds the glance and draws out the pause. The guard, feeling guilty, looks away first and stammers, "I...I don't know what... I was just... and then..." sighing forcefully, he takes a deep breath before continuing. "I apologize m'Lady, it won't happen again." Shaking his head, trying to clear the vision of the woman's eyes from his mind, he looks at the ground. Clenching and unclenching his fists, he finally clasps them together in front of him and stands tall, determined though still weakened. Looking up in time to see the door closing and Lithwyn disappearing inside, he sighs and looks at the other guard, gesturing helplessly.

Striding across the room, Lithwyn stops abruptly once she is within a foot of the woman. Staring, searching the woman's face, she addresses her in a controlled tone.

"I will not make that mistake again. Now... I believe I asked you a question. I do not enjoy inflicting pain, but I will if I must."

Pausing, her thoughts begin to whirl in her mind.

Why did she warn me? She could have easily taken full control of that guard, as weak as his mind is, and used him against me. Why did she come here to assassinate Mavigan? She doesn't seem like one of Beridaine's pawns, her will is too strong for that.

Studying her face, hoping for insight, she looks into the woman's eyes again. Sudden understanding dawns on Lithwyn, though she keeps her face carefully neutral. It is the woman's eyes, betraying her. Having tasted such sorrow, being a prisoner to the weight of it even now, it is easy to see it in someone else. The power of the woman's despair nearly drives Lithwyn to her knees as she feels her own pain rising, burning behind her eyes. Pushing her thoughts away, the longing to slip into that silent reverie, she makes a decision.

Lithwyn's left hand slowly rises towards her chest. The slight tremor of her hand is concealed as it vanishes within the folds of white that is her robe. Clasping the holy symbol of Kaia'hanas, she is caught off guard by the warmth of it. Her fingers wrap around the metal as the intricate symbol presses into her palm. Closing her eyes, a thought of worry flares in her mind. Will I remember...? Focusing, she clears her thoughts and begins to whisper the familiar prayer:

"Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,
so may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings,
Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.
Here me, Kaia'hanas, and aid your servant."

Pouring her energy into the prayer, into the glowing holy symbol, she accepts nothing in return. Closing herself as much as she can, she feels energy flow from her body. Eyes now openned, she reaches across to the bound woman with her free hand and lightly strokes her cheek. Taking away the sting but leaving the welt, she turns towards the arm bent at an odd angle. Stroking the woman's skin from shoulder to wrist, she controls her power and only dulls the piercing pain to a low throb. Releasing the amulet, and withdrawing her outstretched hand, she intertwines her fingers behind her to obscure the shaking.

The aftermath bringing weariness, Lithwyn feels panic rising in her throat as her heart pounds within her chest. Taking a slow breath, her voice imperceptably hoarse with control, she addresses the beautiful woman again.

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way, nwalmaer**. You did not work on your own, that much is clear. But, you do not seem to be one of Beridaine's toys, especially as you are a woman. So, tell me... What is your name? Who do you work for? How did you get within my walls?"

** Do you understand?
** Tormented one

Written by - Ariana

Mavigan sat there in daze. First she had been subjected to Wilhelm talk to her in funny voices and now Ithramir had just done the same. On top of all that, she ached. Her feet hurt from the glass, her head hurt from being cracked against the stone wall, and her now her butt hurt from slamming it into the flagstones as she fell. The churning she had felt inside her was gone, and so too, was the strange wind that had seemed to come from nowhere. However, she now had a dull throbbing pain, right behind her eyes.

She wasn’t exactly sure what had happened, but she instinctively felt that whatever it was had been important. She would just have to figure it out later when her head didn’t feel as if it were about to burst.

Mavigan heard a soft voice near her offering her healing, but the idea of being around still more magic made her stomach turn. Rising to her feet, she said curtly, “No. No more magic. Just find me some bandages and salve. I’ll do it myself.” One hand rose to press against her temple as Mavigan frowned in pain. “And some tea to fix this headache, please.”

As she moved forward, she found a package shoved into her path. Looking up at the bearer, her eyes squinted with pain, she saw a Royal Guardsman offering her some clothing. She took it, and nodded at him, the movement causing still more pain. She then left the courtyard to find a comfy, dark place to recuperate that was in a better state than her bedroom.

Written by - Agmund

Upon reaching the Scholars Tower, the Elven Ranger knocked once, and then waited for a response. Agmund stood behind him with a somewhat befuddled look upon his face. Befuddled that is until he heard a voice say simply “enter.” The voice was familiar to him, but he could not place it.

As the door was opened by the Ranger, who promptly stepped aside, the old priest knew at once who the voice belonged to. It was indeed someone he had not seen in many years, but someone whom he had thought of often enough. At that moment he wasn’t sure if his travels had taken him full circle, or if the All Father had merely brought him to where he was needed most.

“Lord Wilhelm,” his tall frame bowing low, “words cannot say how good it is to see you.” Green eyes perched beneath thick, bushy gray cliffs slowly inspected the man standing before him. At first he extends his hand, then with a chuckle he embraces his old friend. After which he steps back just a foot or so, clasping him on the shoulders, “I believe you have gotten a bit taller… and perhaps a bit bigger.”

Written by - Wilhelm

"Father Agmund," Wilhelm exclaimed, returning the embrace. "Aye, and I think you have gotten a little greyer." He said with a smile. Gestruring to the two mages working over the two rings on the scrying table, he said "I am waiting here for a report on the source of a Necromantic spell on those two rings that was used to turn two slain guardsmen into zombies. While they work, come over here and sit with me. I have a lot to tell you, and I can certainly use your help. It is very good to see another of our Order. I have not seen any since I left the city before the great coup scattered our brethren."

Wilhelm took him to a nearbt couch, where they sat and were served refreshments by an Acolyte while Wilhelm filled Agmund in on all that had heppened since last Agmund had left the city.

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