Sunday, August 20, 2017
   
Text Size
image
Welcome to the home of House Ancora! House Ancora (HA) is a fellowship of online gamers dedicated to promoting cooperation, role-playing, and merriment in company with one another across the varied landscapes of today’s online gaming environment. We firmly believe that friendship transcends any gaming environment and is independent of any specific style, genre, server, or realm.

Book Three Pt 1 - The Reckoning

Written by - Teran Page 2 Book 3

Nightfall was fast approaching on day two of the special mission Sabbatine was leading. She puffed out her chest as she walked along smiling proudly. Teran had made her leader. Sabbatine peered back at Jasmine on her horse, smiling smugly.

Sabbatine knew Teran loved her, after all would she be leading these people around for someone she didn't love? Images of the assassin fluttered through her mind like butterflies and a smitten expression appeared on her pale face. Teran, Teran, Ter....something lovely found its way into Sabbatine's senses. A perfect scent, something that must taste exquisite was nearby. Sabbatine looked around anxiously peering into the forest, but the scent wasn't coming from the forest, it was coming from Keeryn.

Sabbatine glowered at Keeryn, and then hissed, gripping her spear more tightly. In a flash of movement Sabbatine skewered Keeryn with her spear and pounced on her meal. Sabbatine cried out in pure pleasure as she tore out the stunned creature's throat. She felt the regenerating effects of a beings lifeblood perishing within her body, and the pleasure the warmth of the blood and gore brought her.

Sabby sighed blissfully but her bliss quickly turned to fury. She glanced back at Keeryn again, glaring daggers at the delicious smelling creature. Sabbatine licked her lips anxiously waiting and waiting for Teran to appear and tell her she could eat Keeryn. Until then Keeryn would be safe except for within the confines of Sabbatine's twisted mind.

Teran hated her, she knew. Why else would he torture her with the walking feast that Keeryn was? She grit her teeth as she thought about Teran, her anger growing and growing. She stabbed her spear into the ground with every step, imagining that it was Teran's face. She pondered eating Teran but recalled that she was absolutely repulsed by his scent, in fact it seemed to dampen her apetite all across the board.

She grumbles as they walk along, reliving her Keeryn feast fantasy over and over again to hold her over, until finally and abruptly, for no apparent reason she stopped.

"We'll stop here for the night." she turns and smiles pleasantly at Jasmine, and turns the smile into an awful charicature of a smile when she turned her wicked gaze on keeryn.

She began gathering up wood to build a fire. If she couldn't eat at least Sabbatine could be warmed by a fire.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempst could hear the sweet songs of birds above her and a warm breeze wafting over her, bringing with it the deep, rich scent of an ancient forest. She opened her eyes, then sat up smiling. All the pain, all the ache and guilt, it is gone. Tempyst then heard a noise behind her.

"I am glad to see you are awake m'lady." Tempyst turned upon hearing the familiar voice and was surprised to see an armored clad knight standing behind her. She looked at him with a slightly puzzled expression, but took his hand as he offered to help her up. He smiled and bowed deeply. "Yes m'lady, it is I, A'lanthear and I am honored to meet you here in spirit world."

Tempyst smiled, knowing it truly was A'lanthear, the sword she had spent so much time carrying and protecting. "It is a pleasure to meet you too A'lanthear, but I am surprised to see you; should I not have been met by Nyrondis?"

A'lanthear eyes showed a saddness as he spoke. "Aye, m'lady, normally that would be the case for your Elder Sleep, but Nyrondis has ordered me to greet you first. I have to make right for the pain I have caused you and must be the one to deliver to you more sad news."

Tempyst looked at him quizzically. "What pain could you have caused me A'lanthear? Everything you have done, we have done together. And sad news, here?" A'lanthear held out an arm for Tempyst and she placed a gentle hand upon it. A'lanthear then motioned towards a path and began to escort Tempyst through the ancient forest. Both were quiet for a bit, then Tempyst spoke again. "A'lanthear, please tell me, what is troubling you. I have never felt this from you before. I feel, remorse, saddness, even shame. That is not like you."

A'lanthear was quiet for a bit more, then spoke, voice weary. "For the first time m'lady, I do feel all those things. The great healing not only healed those that lived, but myself as well. And once I could think clearly, I realized what I had done and that I needed to make amends."

Tempyst stopped walking and turned to face A'lanthear. "What do you mean? Make amends for what?"

A'lanthear sighed and motioned for them to keep on walking down the lush, verdant path. "M'lady, let me start from the beginning, it may be easier for you to comprehend. I was once alive, an elf druid-warrior, with a special ability to sense demons. I fought to protect those I loved. Then the day came, when the battle was long and harsh. I almost ended up killing the great demon, but was injured too greatly, my body broken, nearly dead. The only one left to fight was a young druid, but I knew he could not take on the demon alone. It was then I prayed to Nyrondis to give my knowledge to the boy, so that I may continue the work. Nyrondis answered and as my body died, he placed my soul within the blade I had carried. With this blade, with my spirit inside, I helped the young druid defeat the injured demon. And thus, my life as a demon slayer began.

Through the centuries, I have been passed down to many, who would use me to defeat the evil that entered the world, all in the name of Nyrondis. However, though I was now a powerful weapon, I still had my mortal flaws. As each demonhunter wielded me, it was my natuer to preserve some of who they were, to build up my knowledge of fighting demons. Each one left a bit of who they were within me. But as good a plan as this was, it began to twist me, to change me. I began to sway from what I had originally thought to be right and wrong. I sometimes had my wielder take shortcuts in order to get the job done. It got to be, that all I cared about was to kill the demons, no matter what the cost. As I grew in power, I also grew in anger and resentment for what I had chosen to become. And this m'lady, is why I must apologize to you, for the pain you have gone through.

Nyrondis knew the demons were appearing again, which is why, during your rebirth, he sent me back to this world. I was anxious to fight again; though you were my caretaker, I still felt, I felt embittered. I did not like just waiting around. When you finally entered the citadel, I was elated, for I knew soon, I would see battle. But from Nyrondis, I kept getting the word to be patient, that to find the right one to wield me would take time. That is when I became even more impatient. I did not wish to wait any longer. As you sat in that cell, I sensed the young man Lucant, his feeling of being lost and unsure of himself. I decided He would wield me. I knew from Nyrondis there was a great threat coming, but I could not sit and wait, I had to take action so that I could help slay the demon threat.

I knew of your memories, of your dreams, of the mysterious man that you felt so strongly for. I used your feelings to my benefit m'lady. I used you and I used Lucant for my own selfish needs. Nyrondis did not know of my deceitfullness, you must not put any blame upon him. I take it all upon myself."

Tempyst, her face soft with concern, looked to A'lanthear. "What do you mean? Lucant was not, is not..."

"No, m'lady. Lucant is not the man you have dreamt of all your life. He is someone I manipulated, just as I manipulated you, to feel for each other, to become close in an instant, all so I could do what my passion was, to kill demons." A'lanthear's voice grew heavy, filled with shame and disgust for himself. "I brought you and Lucant together, I created those feelings you two shared, I even used my magics to make sure you conceived the first time you bedded, to make sure you two would stay together and be what I needed to do what I wanted. I even fooled our god Nyrondis. It all worked too. You and Lucant became bonded, even though the bond was not real. You and Lucant took on the mantle of being demonhunters and he accepted me, as well as Nyrondis and with my knowledge, power and skill, slew the great demon atop that tower."

"But..." Tempyst hand trembled, but as she was here, in the ancient wood, the words did not affect her as emotionally as they would have back in the mortal world. Here, she was calm and could hear the sword out as he confessed his wrongdoing.

"Please, m'lady, I am almost finished. I did not know your child would sacrifice herself and for that loss I am truly sorry." A'lanthear took a deep breath, then continued. "During the great healing, when all the god's manifested and their power was beyond any I had experienced before, the energies there not only cleansed the mortals that were suffering, but me as well. All the anger, the pain, the thirst for more power and killing, was gone. For the first time, since I was first interred into the sword, I could think clearly, I remembered my true purpose and desire. And I realized all the wrong I had done in the name of good."

A'lanthear stopped and turned towards Tempyst, taking her hand within his. "I could no longer bear to keep the deception I had started, going. I confessed to Nyrondis and he has given me the chance to at least put those I have recently hurt, their emotions at rest. I am sorry m'lady Tempyst, for using you, your emotions, your dreams to further my goal. I am sorry I brought false love into your life, and that deception caused the conception and the death of your child. If there was any way I could make up for what I have done, I would do so. I am afraid, all I can do is confess and hope you can still piece your life together."

Tempyst was quiet for a time, then looked into the knight's eyes. "Does Lucant know?"

A'lanthear nodded. "He does not know the whole story, there was no time. I told him that he was free of his bindings to me and to Nyrondis, that I had used him to further the cause, and that nothing he felt was of his own. He was very angry and..." A'lanthear paused, then continued. "I am afraid m'lady, he is gone. He no longer is waiting for you outside the great oak. He left the sacred grove and I do not think he will be back; Nyrondis will be able to explain that more when you see him. This means m'lady, your marriage is dissolved and you too, are free to go on with your life."

A look of saddness came over Tempyst, her shoulders slumped a little as she took in all that had been said. She stared at the ground for the longest time, not saying a word. Finally, she looked up, her eyes brimmed with tears and she leaned up and kissed A'lanthear on the cheek. "I felt so lost, so heartbroken A'lanthear, back in the mortal world. If you had told me this while I was still there, I doubt what was left of my soul could have taken what you have done. But here...." Tempyst looked around, the feeling of calm and peacefullness still flowing through her, "...here, I can hear your words and take them to heart and know, I know you truly did not mean to hurt me, or Lucant, or even our child. You knew, almost better than anyone else, the danger that was loose in the world and even if you were not thinking clearly, you did what you needed to to assure victory. I do not hate you A'lanthear, but know this, you would not have needed to trick me into helping you. My loyalty is with Nyrondis and his needs, his direction, is mine."

A"lanthear's eyes brightened, though there still remained a saddness within them. "Thank you m'lady, for you have done for me. You will never be forgotten." A'lanthear stopped. "But now, I believe my journey with you is at an end. There are others that wish to speak with you and help you along your journey." Tempyst looked ahead and could see that they were now at the edge of the ancient forest, rolling hills and meadows stretched out before them. "She awaits you m'lady." Then he let her arm slip from his and faded away.

Tempyst looked around, the sun shining warmly upon her. For a few moments, she wondered who A'lanthear was talking about. Then, she heard the laugh and turned towards it. Running towards her was a young girl, arms open and smiling ear to ear. "Momma!" The little girl shouted and threw her arms around Tempyst's neck. Tempyst held onto her daughter tightly, wanting this moment to never end.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst wrapped her arms tightly around her daughter, tears of happiness flowing that she could actually hold her little girl. The child’s enthusiasm was so great, both Tempyst and she fell over into the warm grass and laughed. Finally, Tempyst caught her breath, sat up and hugged her daughter again. “I am so glad to see you here little one, so glad.”

“Avandor named me Tirigil, which means bright star. Isn’t that pretty momma?”

Tempyst smiled, “It is very beautiful Tirigil and it suits you so well. You were only with me a short while, but you brightened my life so much.” Then a tear slid down Tempyst’s cheek, knowing that this would be the only place she could ever hold her little girl.

“Don’t cry momma, please, don’t cry.” Tirigil reached up and wiped the tear from her mother’s cheek. “You did nothing wrong. I wanted to help you and pappa. I wanted to help so I volunteered.” Tirigil crossed her arms defiantly. “Ya, I am your little girl, but you could not have stopped me. I got my stubbonness from you!” Tirigil laughed and tackled her mother again. Tempyst and Tirigil played and laughed in the sun for quite awhile; chasing butterflies, picking wildflowers and just enjoying being mother and daughter.

Tempyst sat down next to a brook and held Tirigil close. They watched some frogs hopping and fish catching flies. Finally Tirigil stood up, looked at her mother and tugged her to her feet. “It’s time momma.”

“Time for what?” Tempyst stood up and let her daughter lead her to a path.

Tirigil smiled. “Time for you to meet someone special momma.” She laughed. “Well everyone here is special, but this is gonna be a big surprise.”

“Alright, if you say so, lead on my little star.”

“Bright star momma, bright star!” Tirigil looked sternly at Tempyst then laughed. After traveling down the path for a way, Tirigil let go of Tempyst’s hand and took off ahead. Tempyst ran after her, her heart soaring at the love she felt for this child. Then the two turned a corner and Tempyst found herself looking upon a large manor house nestled in the trees. Tirigil looked at her mother beaming, then ran towards the home. Tempyst watched, walking slowly behind her daughter, wondering who could live at such a beautiful place. Then she heard a squeal and looked up. “GRAMMA!” Tirigil yelled at the woman who had just emerged from the home. Grandma? Tempyst thought, her mind searching for who this woman could be.

Tirigil finished giving the woman a hug and rushed back to Tempyst and took her hand, pulling her mother towards the large home. “See momma! I found her, I found gramma, YOUR momma! Aren’t you happy? We both found our momma’s.” Tempyst looked up into the woman’s soft eyes and in an instant knew, she knew it was the truth. Tempyst said not a word, but walked up the steps and into her mother’s waiting arms.

She knew not how long she stood there, only that she felt so at peace. She looked up, tears in her eyes and saw the woman before her was crying and smiling as well. “You, you are really my mother?” Tempyst questioned, though she already knew the answer.

The woman’s blue eyes twinkled and she reached up to caressed Tempyst’s face. “Yes, my child, my name is Brinna and I am indeed your mother and I have been watching over you since you were born. I have so long wished to touch you and hold you, I was so angry that we were separated so soon after your birth. But, I have waited patiently for this moment and now, now I see what a beautiful young woman you have become.”

“Is my father here too?” Tempyst questioned.

“We will have time enough to discuss that. For now, let us all get aquainted.” Brinna took the hands of her daughter and granddaughter and led them into the warm, inviting home. The sound of laughter and joy could be heard as the three learned of each other and got aquainted. Then, Tirigil said she had to go do something, but would be back to take Tempyst on to meet the others.

“What happened mother? What happened to you and my father.?” Tempyst looked inquisitively at Brinna.

Brinna took a deep breath, then took her daughter’s hand within her own. “That story will be explained by another, at another time. But I will tell you this. I was pregnant with you, on a trip and was attacked by orcs. I was left for dead. I regained consciousness for a while, during which I went into labor and gave birth to you.” Brinna reached over and touched the jeweled, triune medallion Tempyst wore. “I knew I was dying, so I placed my medallion, one your father had given me on our wedding day, around your own neck, then held you until everything went black. I saw the acorn upon your chest and prayed to Nyrondis for your father, for anyone to find you and keep you safe.”

“My father, but I was told he was dead.”

“Well, the one who found you, Coren, how could he know otherwise. The place was scattered with bodies. You were the only living thing admist the carnage. He knew I was your mother, for I had not even time to cut the cord before I died. There were so many bodyguards and servants about, dead, it was no wonder he believed my husband to be dead as well.” Brinna took Tempyst’s hand and brought it up to her lips, kissing it softly. “My dear sweet daughter, your father lives and even now searches for you.” Tempyst gave a startled gasp, unable to say anything. “For all these years, he thought you dead, carried off by the orcs for one of their rituals. But as it happened, Coren, found his way to your father’s lands and was able to put it all together. Your father is a strong willed man, I could do nothing to reach him, but you, you my sweet, sweet daughter, you I was given permission to reach out to.” Tempyst sat there, still silent, looking into her mother’s eyes, amazed and in shock at what she was hearing, but in her heart, knowing it was all true. “The man, that man you have been dreaming about all these years. The one you have come to love, trust in, is your father little one. I placed those images in your dreams, hoping one day, you would understand them and then seek out your father.”

“I, I don’t know what to say…my father…my father lives and searches for me?” Tempyst’s eyes filled with tears again and threw her arms around her mother’s neck.

“I know what A’lanthear had done, using those dreams to further his cause, but do not hate him, for now, I have a beautiful granddaughter, I have finally been able to hold you, and you now know, your father lives.” Brinna pulled Tempyst close and stroked her hair. For a short time, the two of them cried, then, they stopped, Tempyst sat up and looked directly at her mother.

“What is he like? What is his name? Where is he?” Tempyst blurted out her questions.

“Know that he is a great and noble man, stubborn and irritating at times, but never did I know anyone finer. His name is Turin, Turin Wallac and he comes from the north. That medallion you wear, he wears a matching one.” She smiled at her daughter. “You have his fire, his sense of nobility, of right and wrong, and you have his strength.” At that moment, Tirigil came bursting in through the door and jumped into the two women’s laps.

After a lot of hugs, she stood, taking Tempyst’s hand once again. “Time for us to go momma, time to see the really important people.”

Tempyst felt her heart tear a little, but then it quickly mended, knowing that when she returned to the mortal world, her mother and daughter would be together watching over her and each other. She stood, hugged Brinna tightly, then with a tearful goodbye, she followed her little bright star to the door of the manor house.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Standing on the deck, Leov directed the helmsman to turn the ship abroad. Stepping behind the archers, he shouted calmly and decisively "Fire! Rain down hell!" No sooner than he finished did a symphony of twanging bow strings and hissing arrows rend the air. The crew of the strange ship, however, paid no attention to the flaming arrowstorm raining down on them.

"Cocky bastards, aren't they," Dom said as he stepped beside Leov. "Why aren't they turning... why are they still charging..." Leov wondered aloud, paying no attention to Dom's comments. "Al, bring us about! Don't let them ram us," he yelled. "I'll try boss, but they're coming at us way too fast to sidestep completely." As fast a ship as she was, Tiertiala's Grace could not evade the strange ship before it crashed into the starboard side.

A moment before the two ships collided, Leov managed to get out the order to brace for impact, though it did not help the situation any. As Leov and his crew picked themselves up off the deck, they saw the extent of the damage - the strange ship had lodged itself fully halfway into Tiertiala's Grace. The captain of the opposing ship had intended to cut straight through them, but he did not have the speed required. Enraged, Leov looked to take out his fury on the strangly clad sailors now boarding his ship.

"Kill them all! Their ssssoulssss will make fitting tributessss to the Massster," the appearant captain of the "things" hissed. He climbed atop his ship's fallen mast, clad in a loose black robe with an oddly shaped mask covering his face and, wrapping a scaley clawed hand on the hilt, drew a red crystalline sword from the ornate scabbard at his side before ordering an all out charge. "You arrogant piece of garbage! You wrecked my ship with your rickety junk pile, and now you think you're gonna kill us!? We are the Children of the Wind, and we yield to no man, woman, or god-forsaken snake-lookin' son of a bitch!" Leov made a sweep with Sulrista before pointing it at the thing. As soon as he did, another storm of arrows rained down before the two crews met in battle.

Leov took great delight in the fight, as he had with the bar fight. Ducking, weaving, sweeping, and thrusting, he cut a bloody swath through the snake-like creatures before him. As slaughter began in earnest, he climbed atop the fallen mast and pointed Sulrista at the scaly captain "You belong to me!" Removing the red overcoat he had taken from the Ironskane ship and casting it aside, he took an open stance in direct challenge to the creature in front of him. "Your ssssoul will be mosssst ussseful. It sssshall be my pleassssure to claim you for the Masssster," the creature hissed back as it removed the mask, revealing a reptilian head. The two went at each other with all the skill and fury at their disposal, matching blow for blow.

Parrying a high overhead swing, Leov foolishly left himself open, which the lizard quickly took advantage of. A swift, powerful kick sent Leov sailing through the air back onto the deck of his ship. Miranda's attention snapped immediately to the scene and she rushed forward, seemingly carried by the wind itself, to come between Leov and the lizard-creature who was already in mid-leap, about to land the fatal blow against Leov. Forcing him back, Miranda looked over her shoulder and said to the surprised Leov, "He may belong to you, but you belong to me. No one else will have you."

As he climbed to his feet and regained his balance, he noticed that Miranda was wearing the red coat he had cast aside. What he did not know was that she wore it to cover the bleeding wound on her shoulder. "Mir... get out of the way... please. Let me finish this," he pleaded. Reluctantly, she stepped aside to watch the two fight once more. Again, matching blow for blow, the two could have gone on fighting until dusk. Breaking the fight momentarily, the two stood in a showdown aboard Leov's crippled ship.

However, by Her divine grace, Tiertiala again showed favor to her beloved son with a strong gale that knocked the lizardman off balance for a moment. Taking the opening, Leov made a sweeping strike across the lizard's chest, then carried through on the momentum of the strike and thrust Sulrista through the lizardman's belly. As it fell upon the deck, gasping for air and coughing blood, Leov placed Sulrista's edge on its neck and said with a serious tone "Tell me who your master is and I'll make it fast. Otherwise, you're gonna lay here and bleed out while I finish off your buddies." The lizard creature looked up at Leov, eyes full of hatred, and muttered in a raspy voice "Va....un..." before Leov slammed Sulrista through his chest and the deck he rested on. With Miranda at his side, Leov went back to help finish off the remaining creatures.

As the last one fell, Leov looked around at the carnage. Many of his friends had been killed or wounded by these monsters. Even he had not managed to escape the creatures' blades - he now wore a deep cut over his right eye as a badge of victory and had several deep bruises. He placed his hand on Mir's wounded shoulder, wanting to ask her about what she had said in the heat of battle, but he did not get the chance to. Josef called out from the crow's nest "Captain Klein! There's a sea-elf ship comin' dead at us! All that smoke must've caused 'em to notice!"

Sighing in desperation that there was nowhere left to run, Leov looked skyward and said "Damn... you won't cut us a break, will you?" The sea-elf frigate plowed steadily towards them.

Written by - Tempyst

As Tempyst stepped through the door with Tirigil, it was not a wooded forest they entered, but a long, glorious hall, crafted of golden bricks. There were tables, chairs and many figures, all dressed in orange-yellow armor, both male and female. As she was marveling at the splendor, she heard voice speak to her. “It’s this way mom, Avandor is waiting to see you.” Tempyst looked over to her daughter and let out a soft gasp as she saw before her, not the little girl she had just been with, but a lovely, full grown woman, dressed in flowing yellow robes.

“Tirigil?” Tempyst questioned? “What happened, why…”

Tirigil put her arms around Tempyst and hugged her once again. “This is my form now mom, as it will be for all time. I appeared to you as being younger because I thought it would help you adjust more. And, well, I enjoyed being little with you and grandma.”

“Thank you little one, it was nice to see you as a small girl and even more special now, seeing you as the woman you would have become.” Tempyst brought a hand up and caressed Tirigil’s cheek. “You are so beautiful; you have your father’s eyes.”

The two hugged again, then Tirigil pulled back and smiled. “We really do need to go mom. Please, follow me.” Tirigil then turned and began to walk further into the long hall. Tempyst followed, but looked at the people she passed. One friendly face caught her attention.

The young man walked over, took Tempysts’ hand, bowed and kissed it. Then he stood, grinning from ear to ear. “Daveon?” Tempyst smiled, looking at the unmarred face of the elf before her.

“Yes, m’lady.” Daveon continued to smile. “I saw you and wanted to thank you for all you did for me back there. You made my passing calm and smooth. Thank you.”

Tempyst smiled. “I am sorry I could not do more for you, but am glad I could provide you comfort when you needed it most.” They both nodded at each other, then Tempyst looked to see Tirigil looking a little impatient. As Tempyst walked on, she turned back to Daveon for a momen. “I will keep my promis and will tell Avandor when I see him next.” Daveon raised a hand to say goodbye, then went back to the others. Tempyst scurried and caught up with Tirigil, just as they reached a set of large, ornate doors.

“I cannot go any further mom, but he is in there, waiting. Just go on in.” Tirigil made a gesture and one of the large doors swung open. Tempyst looked at her daughter, about to say something, but Tirigil beat her to it. “Don’t worry mom, I will be here when you return, we have more to visit after this.” Tempyst nodded, turned and walked through the door, into the bright shining light. As Tempyst stepped through and the light grew lower, she could see ahead of her, a very, very tall elf, dressed in brilliant orange-yellow armor, his eyes seeming to emit a white-blue energy from them. She could also see what seemed to be light and flames dancing around him.

“Tempyst Whisperling,” A deep voice called out, “come forward, so I may properly thank you for your sacrifice and your success in keeping Ithramir Sir-Galdur alive.”

Tempyst moved forward, awed by the site of Avandor. When she got closer, she curtsied deeply. “I did what was required of me m’lord, it was my duty to keep him alive.” She spoke, keeping her head bowed in respect.

“No child, you did more than what was required. The sacrifice you and your daughter have made, went beyond anything that was asked of you. I want you to know, her unselfish sacrifice has not gone unnoticed or unrewarded. Tirigil is now one with the gods, for she is our messenger now. Her duties are serious and require the utmost devotion and bravery, for being a messenger of the gods is not for the faint of heart.”

“You honor her, and her father and I greatly m’lord. Though, for a short while, I was angered and hurt at her loss, being here, I now understand. I will still miss her, but now I know she will always be safe and just a whisper away.”

Avandor smiled, “Indeed, she will never, truly, be far from you again. Her job is not without some peril, as being a messenger of the gods, means she will also serve the gods of darkness, but I give you my word, I will never let anything happen to her.”

“Again, thank you m’lord, I know in your care, she will be well.” Tempyst sensed that it was time for her leave, but before she did, she raised her eyes and looked directly at Avandor. “M’lord, I wish to thank you too, for the beautiful name you have given my daughter. It suits her perfectly.” Avandor smiled and nodded, prompting Tempyst to then turn and walk back out to her waiting daughter. Once outside again, the large, ornate door closed. Tirigil was there, smiling warmly.

“See mom, everything is okay, I even have important work to do now.”

Tempyst laughed softly, “Yes my dear, I am so proud of you and I know your father would be proud as well.”

At the mention of Lucant, Tirigil looked a bit sad. “I have heard what has happened mom and I am so sorry for that additional loss you are suffering from.”

“Shh, little one, no worries. The sadness is there, but, everything does have its purpose and reason and whatever I had to go through, to have you in my life, was worth it.” Tirigil smiled and led her mom back from whence they came, to another large set of doors.

“There are others who wish to see you mom, come, follow me.” Tempyst walked through the doors, following Tirigil closely. Tempyst was amazed by all that she saw during that walk. Kaia'hanas welcomed her with open arms, embracing her and praising her for all she had done and been through. The goddess also promised Tempyst to take heart, to learn the wisdom to be found in her sadness and that she would one day find true and honest love. The others all gave her their nods of appreciation, assuring her Tirigil would be safe within their care. Nagarran commended Tempyst on her healing skills and when Tirigil brought her to Tinorb, the all father, the diety did not say anything, only touch her amulet and smiled.

Tempyst felt so overwhelmed and so full of life now. Never in all her days, had she ever though she would meet the gods. She felt so at peace here in this realm and began to wonder, if she really needed to go back. Tempyst was in the middle of that thought when Tirigil tugged her sleeve and motioned down a garden path. “Aren’t you coming with me little one?” Tempyst asked.

“I am afraid that for now, our time together is at an end mom. I have duties to perform and it is best that you see Nyrondis on your own, for he will have plenty for you do.” Tirigil hugged her mother tightly. “Don’t worry mom, don’t cry. I will always be close with you. And if you see a star shooting across the sky, know that I am delivering another message and watching over you.”

“I love you little one, my Tirigil, my bright star. I love you like I have loved no other. I will still be sad that you are not in the mortal realm with me, I have peace now, knowing you are loved here and will be well taken care of.” Tempyst looked down the path that led into the ancient woods. “Thank you my daughter, thank you.”

“Thank you mom.” Tirigil smiled and stood watching Tempyst walk down the path until she could no longer see her mother. Then, smiling brightly, Tirigil made her way back to the great hall.

Written by - Renalis

Crystal knelt on the ground, her husband’s lifeless head resting in her lap, tears streaming down her face. She was oblivious to what was going on in the circle, she knew they were performing the healing ritual, but she cared not, her love was beyond healing and her soul needed what only the Gods themselves could give back.

Renalis remained suspended in his spiritual prison, the black expanse being the only thing he could see. He was content to lie in wait, his eyes closed, contemplating how he lead his life, and hoping that what little damage he did to the Demonic legions was enough to save at least a few worlds from their wrath. But the silent serenity was broken when he could hear his Wife’s scream of sorrow. “No… NO!” he thought to himself, almost crying out into the darkness, his eyes wide open for what good it did him. He could feel her sorrow, her pain and her anguish, he could feel the loss she felt and it tore him up inside.

“Would you take it back?”

A familiar voice from behind caused Renalis to instinctually try to spin around and much to his surprise he found himself now standing on the ground - a seeming endless plane of white. Only a few feet from him stood the familiar form of Avendor. Renalis could see Ithramir standing beside him and it filled him with some joy to see that his plan had succeeded. With a deep bow, Renalis addressed the Elf, “Commander Ithramir, it is good that you are well, and my efforts were not in vane.”

Ithramir returned with a small bow, "Your sacrifice was well-made, Renalis. Many owe you their lives and their thanks. Now, you can rest well knowing your work was not for naught. You have done well."

“You still did not answer my question Renalis Dalamar” The divine voice boomed, “Would you take it back?”

“Take it back?” Renalis was confused by the question, “take what back?”

“If you could end the sadness, the loneliness you feel, and end her suffering…” Avendor motioned upwards with his head, “would you?”

Avendor motions with a wave of his arm, and the images of Renalis’s brothers appeared before him.

“Talis, Kel’Thalas, Lokiren, Tyr’Ael…” Renalis moved towards them, his hand outstretched, but stopped as Avendor motions him back.

“Would you give up on ever seeing them again? Aiding them in the everlasting battle against the Burning Legion?” Avendor’s voice rang out.

Renalis brought his hand back; forming a fist he held his head low and spoke softly, “They would understand… this is bigger than me…” Renalis raised his head and looked at Avendor “This is bigger than me, and it’s bigger than them… they can take care of themselves, but this world, ” Renalis pointed at Ithramir, “ This world needs him. Once the darkness is cleansed from this world, they will go out into other worlds as I have done, and help them.”

With another wave of his hand, his brothers disappeared, a single image replacing them. Crystal knelt on the ground, weeping. Renalis could feel the sorrow within her, filling the air with a poison that made even breathing difficult for him, and he looked away. “And her? You wouldn’t give it up to end her suffering?”

“This is bigger than them, it’s bigger than me and it is bigger than her!” Renalis was screaming now, “This is an entire world and I cannot condemn it just so I can be happy, I cannot condemn it … even for her…” Renalis lowered his head and with another wave of his hand, Avendor dismissed the image.

“You are willing to give it all for this cause are you not Renalis Dalamar? You are not even of this world and yet you would give it all for these people." Avendor paused for a moment, "The healing ritual is complete now, and those that watch over you are here now to finish what was started.”

As Avendor finished speaking, Renalis could see the images of Corellon and Elune appear before him, and he dropped to a knee.

“Rise Renalis Dalamar, faithful servant of the light” Elune spoke as she stepped towards him, Corellon right beside her adding, “You have done well this day, many an Orc falling to your blade and skill, we are proud.” As Renalis rose, Elune continued Corellon’s thought, “And your selfless sacrifice to save this world has not gone unnoticed…” With a wave of her hand, Renalis could feel some… difference within himself and looking down watched the soulstone – a residual image he attributed to his remembrance of it – reform, the cracks disappearing.

“We leave now Renalis Dalamar, to come to this world is very taxing. Your soul is now freed from that prison.” Corellon turned and began to walk off, Elune continued, “We leave you in Avendor’s care, and may my light continue to guide your path.”

Renalis bowed deeply, “Thank you both, for everything.”

Corellon and Elune disappeared into the light, and Renalis again turned to Avendor for guidance, “So what now Avendor? May I once again enter your halls?”

A booming chuckle from the divine being resounded throughout, “Your soul is not mine to deal with Renalis Dalamar…it belongs to another.”

The healing miracle was complete now. Crystal continued to kneel on the grass in the grove, even as the various people began to up and leave. She felt herself fully restored but she still felt hollow somehow. She witnessed Ardwen attack the incarnation of what was referred to as “Tinorb” but paid it no head. She could feel the connection with Elune being a its hight, so strong infact that she could almost feel what the Godess herself felt. As if in answer to her sorrows, the sky too began to weep, the rain beginning to trickle through her hair, and over her armor, the rumble of thunder roared overhead. Crystal closed her eyes; she no longer cared about anything going on right now. She felt a hand rub the tears from her cheek and a familiar voice weakly called up, “Come now, you are far too beautiful for tears.”

Crystal opened wide her eyes and peered down into her husband’s now half as he rubbed the tears from her face. “You’re…you’re…” Crystal couldn’t get the words out. Finishing her sentence, “I am back… with a little divine assistance and your love, I am back.”

Crystal rolled Renalis off her lap and slammed him into the ground as she rolled onto him, straddling him. He gave out a small, “ugh” as she leans down toward him, holding onto the chest plate of his armor, only inches from his face, “don’t ever do that again…” as she presses forward and the two embrace, uncaring of the world around them as the thunderstorm continues to grow.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst walked slowly down the path, feeling very connected with the ancient forest around her. She would look occasionally from side to side and would see magnificent stags, playful foxes and many other woodland creatures. In the trees, she could hear the songs of forest birds and the mighty calls of the raptors that flew above the canopy. Why would anyone wish to live somewhere else? She felt a warm breeze wrap around her, filling her nostrils with the deep, rich earthy scent of the forest and she wished she could just walk through this forest forever.

With each step, she felt her soul rejuvenate. Her heart had been healed, seeing her daughter and her mother, as well as the gods who all thanked her for her sacrifice. But it no longer felt like a sacrifice. Tempyst was at peace now, with the choice her child had made. With her own anguish and guilt washed away in this realm, Tempyst could calmly see and remember, life is circular, with life comes death.

Tempyst suddenly felt the warm rays of the sun wash over her. She found herself on the edge of a large clearning within the woods and in the center of the clearing was the largest oak tree she had ever seen. She gasped as she felt a wave of reverence come over her. The Great Oak, Nyrondis’ birthplace. She stepped forward, treading carefully as if afraid the vision before her would vanish. Soon the sun was shaded from her, as the canopy of the great oak loomed over her and most all of the clearing. When she reached the trunk, she placed a trembling hand upon the rough, welcoming bark.

’No need to tremble child, the tree won’t bite and neither will I.” She turned around and found herself face to face with her god, her father, Nyrondis. Tempyst curtsied deeply, keeping her head bowed in respect. Nyrondis chuckled, his voice deep and musical. ”Please, you are here at my invitation, there is no need for such formalities. Come child, let us sit.” Nyrondis reached out a strong but gentle hand and placed a finger under her chin, then tipped her head up. She could see the joy, life and laughter in his deep green eyes and immediately was put at ease. Nyrondis then motioned to a welcoming patch of clover. He moved over and sat down, waving Tempyst over to do the same.

Tempyst moved over and sat down, still in awe of being her, with her father god. Her first words however, were of concern for another. “What will happen to Lucant? If he has turned away from you, who will he turn to? I am afraid he will become lost within himself.”

”It was his choice child. I am sad to see him leave me, but in truth, he was never mine to begin with. A’lanthear manipulated him to complete his own task.”

"And what of our marriage, our bonding?"

"Ceredan will be informed of what has transpired. When your sleep is over, you and Lucant must decide between yourselves, if you wish your path to be together or apart. If apart, Ceredan will dissolve the bond."

“What will become of A’lanthear?”

”A’lanthear is at peace now. He was not punished for his actions; he feels enough guilt about it all on his own. However, I could now see, he has spent far too long on this mission and I decided to give him his freedom. He will be released of his duties and be able to continue on in the spirit world and rest. Once the gate is no longer needed, his task will be complete and he will be at rest.”

Tempyst smiled, though there was a bit of sadness in her face. “I am happy for him, though I will miss his whispers.” Tempyst let out a soft gasp as she felt something crawled upon her leg, then laughed when she saw the bear cub roll over and flop into Nyrondis’ lap. She looked around and could see other animals and birds were congregating on the spot where they sat, all of them at peace with each other, here under the great oak. “M’lord, thank you. Thank you for this honor. I never would have thought I would be asked to be an elder druid, not for a very, very long time.”

Nyrondis smiled and played with the bear cub in his lap. ”You have learned more in the lsat few days of your service to me, than you have learned from the entirety of your life child. The lessons were harsh, but I wish you to know, it was never my intention of your child having to sacrifice herself.”

“M’lord, I know now, it was her own choice, no one else. And I am proud of her, to so so unselfish and giving. It gives me a lot to live up to.” Tempyst picked up a ferret, laughing as it climbed onto her shoulder and dove into her hair. She then looked serious. “M’lord, what is it you will have me do now? With Lucant and A’lanthear gone, I will be of little use as a demonhunter team.”

”There will be another team assembled, by me, and by the other gods. We all now know what a dire threat they are and they will be dealt with. As for you my child,” He reached out and took her hand. His grip was strong, yet so gentle and sent waves of energy through her body and soul. ”That path is up to you. There are many things that need to be done, many ways you could go. You could return to the Deepshadows and become one with your clan again. You could stay at the sacred grove and continue your lessons. But I think, I think you will not choose either of those. I feel within you child, a need to keep helping those around you, seeing the world and making your mark. Which, you are well on your way to doing.”

“Indeed M’lord,” Tempyst took a deep breath, “I would not be happy settled down in one place yet. I knew of life and death before I left the Deepshadow, but now, now I have experienced it. I know the reality and brutality of it. Though for some, I will not be able to stop death, I can be there, to help them and ease their sufferings. And I can heal the suffering of the land as well. With all the war going on, much that suffers is overlooked. Plus, plus I want to find my father.”

”Aye.” Nyrondis smiled, gently squeezing her hand. ”That you do child. You also need to find what druidic path best suits you. You have demonstrated your ability to heal, but you need to be careful and not put so much of yourself into it. There may be a time it will be too much and you will not be able to recover, no matter what is done for you. You need to explore your other talents. Now that you are an elder druid, your powers have increased. And now, speaking of that, it is time for you to finish your journey.” Nyrondis stood up and helped Tempyst to her feet, the animals around them scampering off. ”Enter my oak Tempyst, and search, search yourself, search through both life and death and find your place. I will tell you though, many druids who come here, decide they do not wish to leave and remain here, as guides to other druids. It is easy to become lost within the great oak. Listen, listen for those who wish you to return to them, their voices will guide you home safely.”

Tempyst nodded. “Thank you M’lord, for marking me as your child and thank you for this honor.” Nyrondis smiled and led Tempyst over to the trunk of the great oak. With a wave of his hand, a knothole opened up into a doorway. Before stepping through, Tempyst looked back at Nyrondis. “M’lord, may I ask you one more question?” He nodded yes. “What of this elf, the one in the black armor? I, I feel such a sadness when I am near him, but yet, I feel…I feel, drawn towards him, as if I need to help him through this?”

Nyrondis paused for a moment, as if waiting for something, then he looked back at Tempyst. ” "His name is Ardwen, an Elf from a world far from here. A world known as Aerynth, a world that died a hundred years ago by his reckoning in the Turning. After the Turning, Ardwen entered the service of Tinorb, whom he calls the All-Father, the order he joined was known as the Hands of Providence. This Tinorb is the same god, as the symbols on your medallion represent. Despite how he is now, he did many good works there; fighting faithfully in Tinorb's name. But Ardwen's faith was not entirely true, for he served because he valued the companionship of the order that he came to love above all else - not for the grace of Tinorb. So when the final test came for the Hands, when it was meant for them to depart from Aerynth, he did not heed the call. He returned to their holy city of Ancora to find it overthrown, and there he died fighting for the last time under their sigil - a single white candle in a blue field. But there is no true death in Aerynth, not now at least. When he was clothed in flesh once more, he joined a militant Elven legion known as Avari. It was that singular choice that set him on his path - he became increasingly hostile, bitter, and savage. He came to hate all those not of Elven blood, and performed many vile deeds, the likes of which I will not enumerate in this sacred place. But, he still held in reverence the Hands and so Tinorb brought him here, without him knowing, in the hopes he would seek redemption. He has not.”

Before Tempyst could speak again, Nyrondis continued. As to why you feel drawn to this elf, this creature, only you know that. But my thought is, it involved this.” Nyrondis touched the amulet she wore. Tempyst nodded, knowing she would get no clearer answer from her god. She took a deep breath and stepped through the doorway. As she felt the it close behind her and the comforting darkness wrap around her, she wondered with Lucant gone, who would call her back. But her concerns quickly dissipated, as she began to hear the voices of Nyrondis and of druids past giving her their wisdom and knowledge.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Belyena ushered Lucant into the foyer of her family's enormous mansion, still speachless at the sudden turn of events. "I... I got your letter a few days ago... saying you were coming for a visit. You never showed up and... and I got so worried, but it looks like you're fine." Something seemed to be bothering her, but Lucant couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. He thought of Tempyst, and how he would have instantly known what was on her mind, without having to ask her. "Yeah, I got held up a bit by... some other business." His heart sank as he passed off the events of the past few days as something so mundane, when they clearly were not.

"Father is meeting with a couple of emissaries from the homeland right now. He'll join us for dinner in a bit. But tell me, what have you been up to. It's been years since I've seen you, surely you must have something stories to tell," Bel said as she ushered him into a spacious sitting room. Lucant wanted to tell her of the spectacular events of the past few days and of the druidess who had given him a life less ordinary, but he could not bring himself to do so. Instead, he lied to her and told her that his blacksmithing buisness had been booming and that he had taken a vacation to get away from the grind. A few hours passed and they managed to keep the strained conversation going. "I need to go get ready for dinner. Feel free to wander around the place. I'll come find you when everything's ready." She left with a smile, while Lucant sighed and wondered why he was even at Lothiel-Gadith to begin with. Surely, he thought, there are better places for blacksmith to go - such as the capital at Westgale or Austgard on the island of Kassal. Pushing such thoughts out of his mind, he got up and started to wander the grounds.

Slowly meandering down the long hallways, he noticed a disturbing lack of any servants, or any life at all for that matter. The Gadoril manor had always been a bustling place in the times he had been there before. As he continued down the hallway towards the great library at the end, he noticed the door was slightly ajar. Thinking he could set down and read for a while before dinner he proceeded forward, but as he placed his hand on the door handle, he heard Gilandor's voice from within: "Yes, everything is nearly finished, just as Lord Vaun commanded. The only thing we lack is the book for the summoning." Surprised, Lucant stood as still and quiet as a church mouse while he continued to listen to the voices coming from the library. "Ah yes... that damnable pirate again... we followed him for days trying to get our hands on it, but he ended up giving it to that slave of Khai'hanas," a light female voice said. Gilandor responded, "I'm sure the two of you had ample chances! Why not kill him when his back is turned and be done with it!? And what of the servants Lord Vaun said he was sending over? Where are they?" An impatient male voice responded to Gilandor's questioning "Yes, we had ample chances, but never the right moment. That rash Defiler, Sarvaleth, charged forth at the first opportunity he got, and look what happened to him. As for your Lith'Raug slaves, I don't know where they are. They never were the best sailors anyways..." The female voice chimed in again "That slayer isn't around anymore, either. I can't feel his presence, but there is someone nearby." Knowing that he had been found out, Lucant counted to five, then entered the library, hoping that it was not obvious that he had been eaves-dropping. He looked around for the bodies that the other two voices belonged to, but he saw only a pair of cats - one with fur as black as midnight, and the other as white as freshly fallen snow.

"Ah, Luca! It's good to see you again boy! Bel told me you were coming for a visit. She was very happy to get your letter," Gilandor said in false friendship. "Lord Gadoril, I am glad to see both of you again." Rising from his chair, Gilandor said, "Come now, we can catch up on old times over dinner." As the two men left the library, the cats followed closely behind.

The three sat down to dinner and - ironically - toasted Lord Ithramir. As Lucant began to eat from the massive feast spread before him, he began to feel very sick. He collapsed into his plate as he heard the same voices from before - "We should kill him now and be done with it," the strange male voice broke in. "No, brother, he may yet serve some purpose to us. Besides, his soul is much too weak to be of any use... this bond I sense, though... it is weak, but it holds great promise." As he sat there, trapped in his own conciousness, he thought of Tempyst, and if she was okay. "Bel still seems to care for this piece of scum. Rough him up a bit - make it look like bandits' work, then dump him in some alley. "With pleasure..." the male voice said sadistically.

Lucant awoke, face down in some strange back alley. He had no idea what had happened to him, no memory of the past few hours, no clue to the sinister plot unfolding. A massive jolt of pain shot through his entire body as he tried to stand. Collapsing again, he cryed out in pain. He rolled over onto his back in the pouring rain, and found himelf desperately trying to reach out with his weakened soul-bond. He did not think it would work. He did not expect it to. He had betrayed her. He had hurt her worse than any blade ever could. But still, in one final, desperate breath he whispered "Tempyst..." before succumbing to the pain.

Written by - Trinni Shannon Part II of Page 2 Book 2

Leaning over her love, a bright flash burns her senses for a moment. Then, as she looks down, Ithramir's body transforms before her eyes. The features of Avandor become more prominent, his skin glows, his eyes, blazing with the full power of the God, open, and Lithwyn's heart soars. Feeling Kaia'hanas slowly withdrawing, she rises with Ithramir/Avandor.

The booming voice of Avandor speaks from between Ithramir's perfect lips, "It is enough, I am here, my wife and son. Ithramir is with me as well. We are now here, each of us with our family, friends, and loves. Children of my son, Nyrondis, your prayers and sacrifices have not gone unanswered. Daughter of my wife, Kaia'hanas, your hearts answer has been fulfilled and your own has been healed. And now, my own servant Ithramir..."

From one moment to the next, his eyes return to normal, and his voice softens to the crisp tones that can only be described as Ithramir's, "... he thanks you all."

Blinking furiously, trying to hold back an onslaught of tears, she can only smile at him as within one fluid stride he picks her up in a strong hug, her arms wrapped tight around him.

Whispering only for her, he says, "I knew one day you would open your heart to Kaia'hanas, letting her work her wonders through you. My heart is doubly joyous that it was through me that such a thing was accomplished."

"I thought I lost you, I thought you were gone forever, before I had the chance to tell you... before I could say... Itharmir... Amin mela lle, Amin mela lle, mela en' coiamin.*" Pushing her face into the side of his neck, she holds him tightly, never wanting him to leave her side again. As he lowers her to the ground, she can't help but let out a small sound of complaint, but he doesn't let go, not truly, and she smiles up at him.

"A amin mela lle, nin norui min." Laughing with joy as she looks into his eyes, Lithwyn strokes his cheek, then runs her thumb over his lips and whispers "A'maelamin.*" In a moment that has built up for years, filled with countless nights of tossing and turning, coy smiles thrown across the room, carefully innocuous touches, murmurs of love spoken only in the innermost reaches of the heart, all of those years of waiting culminated in one kiss. In that white hot instant, Lithwyn knew, now and forever, she was his and he was hers. There would never be the need for another, even when death knocked on their door. Upon parting, breathless, her mind spins as Ithramir addresses the group. Standing only by the grace of his arm firmly held at her side, Lithwyn feels Avandor surge through him. Knowing it is time, and thankful for the moment they were given, she thus oopens herself up to Kaia'hanas again and she once more feels the Goddess fill her, body and soul.

As Ceredan begins the ritual, followers of both Avandor and Kaia'hanas approach the pair, placing their hands on them, joining in prayer and focus, a beautiful bright light flowing into the growing circle in the clearing. From God to Goddess, Ceredan slowly strides. Each avatar joining the light of their followers and adding it to the growing light of good, of all. Ancient ceremony being performed, until now it was just a story, an explanation given by Ehlonna before her passing.

"Vanima...*"

Then all was silent as Ceredan moved towards the Great Tree. "The Great Circle is complete. Let the Gods of Light now join in their own Divine Circle and combine their power, that these who here lay injured in the cause of the Light may be healed of all ills."

The light grew in intensity and flowed toward the avatar of Nagarren, building and building between her hands. With such power of healing, only held by Nagarren, she tosses the great ball of light into the center of the clearing, shouting,

"BE HEALED AND WHOLE!"

In an instant, a blinding light flashes through the grove, a wave of healing in its purest form. Whatever vestiges of her past life, her past hurts that still clung to her, were shaken off and set free as the wave hit her. Blinking, her body returning to her as Kaia'hanas departs slightly, leaving a warm feeling of love and pride, Lithwyn looks around in awe at the multitude. All sign of injury and pain were gone. All within the clearing were healed, all wounds eradicated... but... wait. Not all, not completely. She sensed... incompleteness. There is no better word to describe it. Where?

Ceredan. He put so much into the ritual, he nearly paid too much. And what happened? His hair, his beard, even his clothes...?! He will know how to replenish his spirit.

But more, where?

Tempyst. Lying on the ground, by where Ithramir had been, held in Lucant's arms. She saved him. She kept him alive with a gift only she and her unborn baby could give. Physically she seems fine, but her spirit, it is so week. As she watches, Tempyst opens her eyes and talks with Lucant. She will be alright, she will be alright.

And another... looking behind her, she sees the dark knight.

Ardwen. Truly broken, not physically, no. But somewhere, deep within. He does not move, something changed him. Something else happened just now and she did not see it through the bond with Kaia'hanas. what will become of him, that not even this ritual could clense his heart?

Closing her eyes a moment, she looks up at Ithramir and gives him her best smile, trying to hide the pain she feels from those around her. Then, as Kaia'hanas withdraws completely, so does her link with all those in the grove, and she breathes without weight.

The man who was Vhar'Kanix, but not quite him, approached. "I would speak with you both, if you have a moment." Vhar removed the enchanted lenses, handing them to Lithwyn and adding, "I think I'll not be needing these anymore."

Nodding, Lithwyn takes the glasses and turns to Ithramir. By way of explanation, she says "This is Vhar'Kanix." Seeing the look of confusion and uncertainty, she continues, "You met him before, when he had just entered our realm. I still don't fully understand what is going on, or how he is able to look human, or why he is here, or what he wants, or... " Shrugging, she turns back to Vhar, smiling softly, yet somehow sternly, as she waits for answers that are long overdue.

A bolt of lightning and a few drops of rain draw her attention skyward for a moment.

"Perhaps we should continue this conversation inside?" Receiving nods of affirmation, she leads the two men, Ithramir's arm still about her waist, towards the dining hall. It's been ages since she has eaten a good meal and her stomach is rumbling nearly as loudly as the heavens. The smells coming from the great hall as she approaches lets her know that someone on her staff deserves a big raise. At least someone was thinking clearly, she thought wryly as she glances up at Ithramir and smiles, still overwhelmed by all that has happened.

"Can you eat, Vhar?"

****

Flash!

The brightest light she'd ever seen. Brighter than the sun, brighter than anything she'd ever known. And then, as Trinni blinks to clear her vision, Isuiln slowly begins to stir beneath her hands. Glancing next to her, she sees Renalis isn't moving yet. Isuiln takes a deep breath and his eyelids fly open.

He's alive! Isuiln... he's alive alive ALIVE! He didn't die! He almost died, but he didn't! Silly man, running up there without me, it was so close and he could have died!

"Grrr... It's about time! And what were you thinki-"

Isuiln suddenly leaned up, grabbed the back of her neck, pulled her down to him, and kissed her soundly on the lips. mmm Sunshine and flowers and butterflies and her arrow flying into an orc's eye was nothing compared to this. A few moments of warmth and softness and comfort, and then, then it was gone. Releasing her, she leans back and stares blankly down at him, completely surprised and overcome. Her lips still tingle and it is only his laughter that brings her back to reality. A flash of lightning followed by a sudden downpour, and still he laughs at the sky.

"What's the big idea? What's so funny? Who said you... you could do that? You scared me half ta death, ya know? How'm I supposed to fight by you if'n you don't wait for me? Huh? That was very silly. You shoulda waited! Maybe I coulda done something, maybe I coulda helped! You big... big... meanie head!" Feeling stupid even as she says it, she pokes his chest. Now soaked, the sudden change from sunlight to rainstorm makes her cold and her teeth chatter. "D-d-don't d-do that ag-gain!" Did she mean running off to fight without her or kissing her? The kiss was nice... but he didn't even ask! That's very rude! Scowling down at him, she doesn't quite know what else to do in this situation. Dealing with an orc is easy... but this... this is very different.

Looking around, most everyone has gotten up. "Renalis!" But Renalis... no. No no Renalis isn't moving. But the miracle! It didn't work, how could it not work? It's a friggin' miracle for goodness sakes! He was here, right here!! The mean woman cries, holding him tight, the pain in her sobbs brings tears to Trinni's eyes and she hugs herself. Her friend is gone, she couldn't protect him, she... he's... wait... he's moving! Looking at Isuiln, her eyes still streaming with tears, she smiles brightly. "You're both alive! Alive! Don't do th-that again, Isuiln! Ya here me? Never ever ever again! You wait for me, are you listening?!" Hugging him tightly, she laughs up at the sky, enjoying the freezing rain, glad to be alive.

****

Amin mela lle, amin mela lle, mela en' coiamin = I love you, I love you, love of my life

A'maelamin = my beloved

Vanima = beautiful

Written by - Sycon

More and more of the fallen seemed to rise. Each to find someone who had waited for them, or hoped for them. He tossed his head to the side only to find more of the same. Joy, tears, laughter, love, and even lust flittered about the air. It was a time of celebration. There were still events of the past and the upcoming battles in some of their minds, but it was pushed back for the love of life. At least for the time being.

Sycon closed his eyes, letting his mind flow through the feelings of jubilance and exultation. His mind danced along with the feelings of the others. Letting his own intermingle with theirs. The very air he breathed was alit with energy.

There it was. The thoughts of another lonely soul in the crowd. She was indeed also joyous, but with no one to spend it with. He followed her thoughts. She was so easy to read, as if she was trying to wear her thoughts on her sleeve, so to speak. He opened his eyes and saw her standing no more than a hop, skip, and jump away. He moved over to her, letting himself strut slightly. After all, he had just been in a monumentous battle. She looked a druid, possibly of this grove. An initiate perhaps? She was young, maybe a couple of years behind him. He caught her eyes and he moved in for the kill.

Before she had time to speak, before he let himself think twice about it. He put his lips on hers. Letting them press hard against hers. She did not protest, but instead leaned in. He picked her up off the ground and spun her once in the air. He set her down on her feet and pulled back, letting their eyes meet again and their breath settle.

"Well, aren't you the fiesty one?" she spoke bouncily to Sycon.

"Fiesty? No, just full of energy! Can't you feel the joy, the laughter? Come, lets dance the night away!" Sycon's smile was from ear to ear and he took a step back and offered his hand.

"Perhaps some other day, or even if you could granpap," she promptly turned and found another warrior who had been in the battle, cooing softly into his ear.

Sycon was stunned...Granpap? Laughter rang through his head. It was not his, but he knew who's it was. "And what have you to do with this?"

The laughter slowly faded away and she spoke softly into this mind, "oh, but everything," then she laughed even harder than before. Now I've got to find out why, Sycon thought. He jogged over to a small pool of clear water. It seemed almost bottomless by the look of it. He lifted a small pebble and dropped it in. It did not seem to hit bottom. Either way, he was just looking for his reflection. He knelt down close to the pool and allowed his head to poke out over the water. The ripples from the pebble smoothed out and he watched his reflection form over the clear, bottomless water.

He looked himself over. His face looked the same. But...what in the blue blazes! The laughter roared in the back of his head now. She was finding this quite the joke. But his hair! It had white in it... everywhere! Well, there was still quite a bit more of his auburn hair than white... but it was quite noticeable! It looked like every 7th or 8th hair was a silvery white! Sycon's thoughts shouted atop her laughter. "What did you do!" The laughter only died long enough for her to get out a few words.

"I love you humans! Always crazy over your looks. It was bound to happen sooner or later anyway! Besides... I think it adds distinction!" The laughter continued. It sounded like it was almost mixed with snorting now.

"Hmph." Well, this is definitely not an improvement. He ran his hand through his hair. "Distinction, indeed." It still felt the same. He looked into his reflection once more. His eyes seemed a bit paler to, but...eh, it was probably just the water.

A storm was brewing. Sycon continued to watch his reflection, studying his features to make sure nothing else had changed either until the sprinkles from the storm started to mess with his image in the water. He rose from the pool and looked out into the crowd. Some were finding shelter, others were still elated with their recent finds in partners or loved ones. Sycon felt the joy still with him, but it was greatly diminished now. He allowed himself to delve into the thoughts of those all around him. He fell into a slight elation until he heard a small tinge of thunder overhead. It was still a bit off.

Sycon looked at all those around him and knew he would introduce himself to everyone soon. There would be a meeting, for another battle was soon to come. But for now, he would find elation within himself and not from those around him. He needed to be content on his terms.

He felt the wind around him. He manipulated it slightly using a little mana. He then built his mana, though he knew it wouldn't take much. He had always had a natural talent at this feat. He built more than he knew he would need and concentrated it in his core. The wind caught his robes as they fluttered. He took the sword from his back and let it go. It floated through the air over to a tree and rested against it. The wind almost picked him up from the ground it was so strong around him. Sycon raised his head and looked straight into the sky. Small droplets of rain landed on his cheeks and nose.

Sycon shot into the air, he did not jump nor did he seem to move any part of his body as he gained in altitude. He rose further and further into the sky, letting himself rise farther than any arrow could go. But still he let himself rise further. He knew he would be out of the sight of those below and the clouds up above were waiting for him. The dark rain clouds were just above him now. He pushed himself harder and he burst into one. It was like a fog. He was in a dense mist. He was inside the rain, or so it felt, just sitting there waiting to fall to the earth. He laid himself out as if the mist were a bed. He cleared his head, searching for any thoughts he could find, of others or himself. There were none, none to interrupt his meditation. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift. He did not sleep nor did he fall from his cloud. He just let his mind wander over absolutely nothing. Letting all the memories, the day's past events, the pain, the suffering, even the joy and laughter melt from his mind as he felt the peace he needed now. He did not even hear her laughter in the back of his head now. He was alone now, as he had been for most of his life. He breathed deeply and let out his throughts across this foreign world. The shout never left his lips, but he his thought ripple out across the entire world it seemed, if he could even do that, "Why am I here?"

It was then that he felt it...

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

As the sea-elf frigate plowed steadily towards his crippled ship, Leov consulted his officers on what to do. "We can't fight them, kid. These... things... really took it out of us. Let's just see what they want. They didn't seem like bad people before." Gilbert said as he helped a wounded man to his feet. "Are you saying we should just lay down and surrender without so much as a peep!? You all can do whatever you want... I'm not ever placing myself under someone else's heel again." Leov drew his sword again as he finished. Miranda grasped his sword arm gently and said in an almost pleading voice "Leov... please don't do this. We can't run forever, not like this. If you really care for your people... please don't do this." Leov sighed as he sheathed his sword.

The elven ship pulled up alongside and threw down their gangplanks. There was an uneasy silence as the two ships waited to see who would make the first move. Leov, wanting to get the situation over with as soon as possible, stepped forth onto the elven gangplank and stopped halfway as he waited for an elven representative to come forth to the parlay. The elven sailors stood there watching him, as if he were some strange beast that had never been seen before. Spreading his arms in a sign of peace, he yelled "I'm waiting!" On board the elven ship, an old woman turned to the young captain and said calmly "I will deal with this one." With a nod, the young captain turned to her advisor and replied "But of course, Tide Mistress." The old woman stepped forward onto the plank - her pale blue hair danced in the wind as she stared Leov down with her bright blue eyes that had seen all the world had to offer. Leov returned her icy stare as he looked her over - she wore a royal blue robe, trimmed in white and a brilliant silver circlet with a large aquamarine inset in it sat upon her wrinkled brow.

"I"m not surrendering," Leov said flatly. "I'm not asking you to," the old elven woman replied in a stern, gravelly voice. "Then what the hell are you here for?" "To bring you back." "I thought I already told you lady, I'm not going back." "What about them," she said gesturing towards his crestfallen friends, "Would you damn them to the depths for your own stubbornness?" Leov gave a disgruntled sigh as he knew that he'd already been beaten. But still, he wasn't going to go down without a fight. "I'd sooner sink us all then damn us to elven servitude." The old woman smiled grimly, then closed in for the kill: "Do you really think that the Lady Lithwyn would make your people slaves? And the Lord Ithramir has been rather generous to the humans, wouldn't you agree?" Leov lashed back at the old woman "He fools them with gold and promises... buys their silent obedience... uses the Young Lady's name to convince them to go to their deaths for his own selfish cause. And that woman... that seductress... don't even get me started on her... she acts the friend, then stabs you in the back with a smile."

Still smiling, the old woman said "You Kassali men are all the same. Too blinded by your own pride and stubborness to see the rest of the world." "What makes you think I'm Kassali," Leov asked, quite surprised. "Besides the way you and your crew look, the way you act, boy, gave it all away. As wild a spirit as the wind... defiant against the grim truth... and you still keep your pride, even in defeat. You are very much Her son." Leov stood silently, for once he couldn't think of anything to respond with. "And... if my memory serves... the Kassali were always a very... patriotic bunch." Leov broke in "Were, are, and always will be." "Yes... there's that spirit shining through. I knew it was there somewhere," the old woman thought to herself before continuing, "Beridane has taken control of the entire area, hasn't he? He's destroyed everything you and your people love. And you want it back, don't you?" Leov nodded. "Well then, idiot, you just proved yourself wrong. That is why the humans, the elves, and the dwarves are fighting. To take back what they love from the evil that grips the entire world, not because our leaders have tricked them." Leov knew then, that he truly had been defeated.

He sighed again: "I'm still not surrendering to the elves." The old woman, knowing that she had won, responded: "You are not surrendering to the elven people. You are surrendering to me." Leov chuckled, then burst out into a full laughter, "I suppose I can do that. But just who am I surrendering to?" "I am Aelyndria Val'thanis, but a humble mage to the Sea Elf fleets." Laughing again, Leov bowed and introduced himself "Leov Klein, the Mockingbird of Kassal." The two bowed more formally this time, showing that the parlay had ended, before heading back to their respective ships.

"Well, I tried, but it looks like we're going back to Lothiel-Gadith for a while. Get the wounded on board their ship first off. Get the money, too. Dom, help me give the dead at least a partially proper burial," Leov said as he stepped back on board.

"Grandmother... do you really think that was a wise thing to do," the young elven captain asked. "Lafiel... you'll see some day. He is very much Her son... that drive, that unyielding spirit... if he just had some discipline, he would be formidable indeed," Aelyndria said matter-of-factly. "Formidable for what purpose Grandmother? He seemed too smart to let himself and his people be used," Lafiel asked as she turned towards Leov's ship. "I don't know yet, Lafiel. These old eyes see the future dimly. All I can do is teach what little I know and hope that you and he can see it more clearly than I, and guide all of us to that brighter future." Lafiel nodded and said "But of course, Grandmother."

After the dead had been given a proper Kassali funeral and everyone had gotten settled, the elven ship turned back towards Lothiel-Gadith, where storm clouds gathered overhead.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

As the elven ship finally docked at the town outside of Lothiel-Gadith, Leov looked over the deck in dismay. It looked as if few - if any at all - had escaped the fight with the lizard creatures unscathed. He wondered how many more would have to suffer and die before it all stopped. "Um... Mister Klein? We're back at Lothiel-Gadith. I think Grandmo... Tide Mistress Aelyndria wanted to have a word with you," Lafiel said, approaching him cautiously from behind. Leov turned around to see the young elven girl standing there behind him, nervously playing with her long hair, "Hmm? Oh yeah... her... Well, I don't suppose I have much of a choice do I? Without another word to the anxious captain, Leov quickly made his way to Aelyndria, who was waiting by the gangplank down to the docks.

"I suppose you're wondering as to what those things were you and your people fought," she said offhandedly, overlooking the carnage with Leov. "Yeah... I don't know what they were, but damn, could they fight." Aelyndria looked over to Leov and noticed the grave concern on his countenance, "They were Lith'Raug... vile, wicked things from the deserts of the elven homeland. I have not seen one in many, many centuries. As I'm sure you know, my people are already sorely beset by the orcs. The last thing we need is for our enemies back home to come to our doorstep here. Lord Sil-Galdur, Lady Deltheron... they must be told of this turn of events." Closing his eyes and sighing, Leov responded "And what does this have to do with us? We were in the wrong place at the wrong time... it's just that simple. I don't know no Sil-Galdur and if I never see that witch again, it'll still be too soon." A smile formed across Aelyndria's lips as she said "You really are an idiot, aren't you? Think about it child... if you tell them of this, they'll be able to plan for any contingecies... they'll end up oweing you a favor." Suddenly it all clicked with Leov: "Why are you telling me this, lady? Why are you helping us?" She replied in her typical gravelly, flat, matter-of-fact tone: "Because child... division will only continue this cycle of destruction. The humans... the elves... the dwarves... everyone... we must all stand united if we are to make a brighter future for this shattered world. My generation could not, so now it falls regretablly upon yours."

She leaned upon her magnificent, bejeweled staff, feeling her age, before continuing "I am but the Flame that tempers the Steel. You... Leov... you must become the Hammer that reshapes this world... that unites its divided children." Still looking out at his own beaten, crestfallen people, he replied "Aelyndria... I can't even help the people who follow me... how am I supposed to help the world?" "That is what I am here for, child. I will teach you what I know, show you what I have seen, so that you may learn from the mistakes of the past," she paused a moment to let it all sink in. "Aelyndria... thank you," he said quietly. "But of course, child," she replied as the two them headed towards the citadel.

Written by - Archeantus

The northern winds sliced through the lone village high atop a rocky crag. It was a small village, far from the nearest town. Lately there had been a strange deathly wind that came down from the mountains. It grew increasingly colder by the day. All daily activities had stopped as the inhabitants of the town hunkered down and prepared to brave the strange storm. Some had caught a strange sickness. An old tavern keeper spoke quietly to his long time friends. Miners by trade, they had worked the mountains all their life. They sat huddled around the central oaken table speaking in hushed tones, large mugs of ale in their strong hands. They spoke of the strange weather as if it were a beast come to haunt them.

“Imish, what do you make of it?” A large husky man with a deep black beard whispered, looking over his shoulder at nothing at all.

Imish bristled his own red beard; his simmering eyes glowered in thought. He puffed on his pipe a few moments, and then answered. “A’ve ne’er seen such a wind in all me days ‘ere. I can’t say what ah make of et, but it doesn’t bode well…”

He leaned in, his eyes narrowed dangerously. “For any of us…”

“An what o’ Haggoth? Ah ‘eard he went right crazy, an’ ran raving mad into the blizzard last night…” Another added, meaning to take a swig of ale, but shivered instead.

No one spoke; all of them merely looked at one another and shook their heads in worry, the same thought on their minds.

The wind was death.

The dim fire in the hearth nearby suddenly blew out, as the door to the tavern slammed open. Four men walked in, heavily cloaked.

The miners stared at the sudden appearance of the strangers. None of them had seen visitors for months. The tavern keeper stood and greeted them. None of them spoke at first, they merely looked at them, yet finally the foremost of them stepped forward.

“How many have died here?” The male voice asked strangely.

The tavern keeper looked at his comrades in confusion.

“Speak Keeper.” The voice persisted.

“There have been a few.” The keeper muttered cautiously. “Many are sick. It’s this blasted cold.”

The foremost looked back at the others with him and returned his gaze back to the Keeper.

“This wind. Where does it hail from?”

The miners looked at one another knowingly, each seemed reluctant to speak. But finally one answered, just as the figure’s hand strayed to the inside of his cloak.

“Eh, through Craghearst valley, it blows yonder to the upper mining towns beyond us, we havn’t ‘eard of em’ in months. No one knows what’s b’came of dem. Our neighbors to tha’ south ‘ave vanished. It’s whispered it comes down from tha’ lone mountain far to the north.” The miner whispered.

The strangers looked at one another.

“How far?” The stranger asked, almost eagerly.

At this the miners brightened up, heartily laughing at such a prospect.

The strangers watched in silence.

“How far?” This time the voice came out in icy warning.

“Don’t be foolish traveler, the way to the mountain leads only to death.”

“Exactly.”

Suddenly a cold blade sprang into the stranger’s hands and he fell upon them, as did the others, except one. The one stood back, and tried to look away, yet he couldn’t. The mage again took their souls, placing them in his stone.

They took what supplies they needed, and entered the cold again, heading north.

****

In the moments when Mavigan and Teran had disappeared, Jasmine had known what was happening. She had watched to long to not notice the Queen’s curious stare. She wanted to learn. She was torn between two worlds. Teran was to train her and he took her to do so. Jasmine’s mind went to the past suddenly. She had taught herself by hate alone, building raw skills by tremulous will alone. It grew into a need to become greater, walking a line that grew thinner. Once she set out in her course, she could not return, and yet her she was, the line she walked was gone. She no longer held such hate, it had left her much like her love she once had. Suddenly Keeryn was before her, she had heard shouting in the back of her mind, and now Mavigan’s fuming friend stood shouting truthful accusations that struck a nerve of action within Jasmine’s heart.

"Did you know he was going to do this? What exactly is your purpose on this trip anyway?! I thought you were the one that had tried to kill Mavigan, why are you not dead yet?! Answer me, before I decide to change that fact!"

The questions blurred, as did Jasmine’s hand, as it struck with such quickness that the cat like creature was taken off guard from the previously docile woman. In a deft motion, she disarmed Keeryn of her spear, knocking her do the ground. Keeryn bounded back to her feat with near unsurpassed agility only to find Jasmine holding her dagger, hilt pointed toward Keeryn, the dagger’s point toward Jasmine’s heart.

“If that is your wish, here is my dagger.” She said, her drab brown eyes had a calm about them. “I deserve death, it is true, I tried to kill her, and I failed. I am in constant pain, pain that grows by the hour. Why am I here…?” Her voice rose to a higher pitch, her confusion and anger clashed within her. “I don’t know!” She cried out. “Why am I not dead?! Tell me!”

She had advanced toward Keeryn the hilt of the dagger appeared inches away from her nose….

****

There in the heart of Ancora, a hooded figure looked across the horizon to toward the Elven citadel, blue eyes piercing grey skies. He had sensed it. It was as he had been told. It was a knowing look, a look which shifted to a look of longing. The God’s had descended. The small ember of light hovering near his head flared ever so slightly.

“Soon my friends, soon.” He said, a long sadness exiting with his breath in the cold night air. "This world has little hope without us."

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn wasn't quite sure what to make of Jasmine. First she had knocked her down, far quicker than she had expected from the meek woman, and now she was holding a dagger to her own chest and telling her to kill her. Keeryn's hand twitched as she almost gave in to the woman's request, but her continued wailing stopped her from doing anything else. She was in too much despair to have had a clue what was going to happen, and it snapped her out of her fury.

Keeryn stood up slowly and stared Jasmine in the eyes, "I won't kill someone who wants to die like that. It's shameful to even think of doing such a thing, you were spared, though I don't know why. There must have been a purpose, so maybe you should think on what it is, and actually make yourself useful instead of wallowing in self-pity." With that she turned around and helped Sabbatine finish packing up the camp, though she kept her distance from the disgusting thing.

****

Keeryn knew Sabbatine was staring at her, and based on her previous statements she had a general idea of what the creature was thinking. Rather than letting it bother her though, after all she did the same thing around some animals, she just ignored the stares, and focused on the beast's movements. Sabbatine was obviously very fast, though how fast exactly Keeryn didn't know, but considering the company she had kept up to this point she decided it best to keep alert and ready to move and parry at the slightest hint of an attack.

Keeryn still wasn't sure what to do about Jasmine, the woman had remained silent since their encounter two days ago, her face expressionless. She hoped Jasmine wasn't contemplating suicide, she didn't want to have to deal with watching her every minute of the day to keep her from killing herself. With that thought she decided to try a new approach to the situation, and walked over next to her horse, "I'm sorry about before, I shouldn't have gotten angry at you when you had nothing to do with it. Are you feeling any better than before?"

Restore Default Settings