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Book Three Pt 1 - The Reckoning

Written by - Ardwen Page 7 Book 3

First to the larder for food, hopefully there he could pick up something to carry the food in as well, the leather backpacks they had in Aerynth were ideal, but who knows if they had something similar here? Money would be important too, regardless of the world no one went anywhere without a bit of gold to smooth the process. "I suppose I could make it without the money . . . but it'll make the whole thing a helluva lot more difficult . . ." Ardwen was so distracted by his own thoughts and planning that he did not see the door swinging open until it was too late.

Cursing himself for his laxity the door bumped him into the wall opposite, two figures stumbled out of the door, and Ardwen immediately knew one of them. There was simply no mistaking him, and the fact that he had a woman (didn’t he always?!) wrapped around him helped. The maiden, or at least Ardwen still assumed she was a maiden, quickly backed away from the Warlock and tried to make herself inconspicuous. Sycon quickly righted himself from his blunder through the threshold, Ardwen was in no hurry, and he wanted the Warlock to speak first. This could, he decided, be an excellent opportunity.

"Well, what have we here? Its been a long time Ardy." Ardwen winced at the old familiar abbreviation of his name, and for a brief instant his sword-arm twitched near one of his T’lnarions. He drew it away quickly, this opportunity may well be the last he had before departing, and he refused to botch it.

“Aye, too long Sycon, too long.” There was a brief pause before Ardwen continued, “It’s good to see you’re still hale. Renalis, that would be the mage that drained you at the portal casting, did a number on the mages it seems.” Another awkward pause, “If you’ve got a score to settle with him just let me know.” Ardwen waved a dismissive hand continuing, “But that’s all prattle. I’ve got important news to discuss with you Warlock, news that concerns us both. But not here, too many ears, come inside the room.”

Ardwen motioned for the mage to walk into the room he had just stumbled out of, the woman remained outside, and Ardwen closed the door behind him. The Elf took a position leaning against the wall opposite the Warlock and let out a long-held sigh, “I thought you were dead for so long. When I returned from Eglan Berriador and the traitors burned Ancora I couldn’t find you. How long have you been here? How did you get here?” Ardwen realized he was digressing from what he had come to say, so he spit it out all at once, “This world looks to be the final resting place of many of the Hands.”

Ardwen prattled on hurriedly now, a touch of excitement lining his voice, “If they’re not alive, then we may at least recover where they were buried. I don’t know much about this world, but I know that Mavigan’s rightful throne was usurped by this bloody round-eared bastard called uh . . . Beerandinner? Beriadin? Damn human names all sound alike to me. That’s not important, the important thing is he’s a fool that walks on sacred ground, and having him tread on the hallowed ground where our charges are interred is more than I can bear!”

Ardwen paused to take a breath and practically blurted out the following, “But there’s more! Alaric presented Turin’s blade to me! Turin Wallace! The Priest of Battle! There may still be hope for vengeance!” The warrior cleared his throat before saying carefully, “Of course, I won’t tell you what to do. But surely you see the importance of what has been laid before us? Westgale is a huge city, and we will have to contend with whatever an entire kingdom can throw at us. Avari taught me to expect war in all things, and I am rarely disappointed.” Ardwen looked intently at the Warlock, silently pleading he’d accept. His aid would be invaluable, and could be just the ticket in getting past Westgale’s defenses. The die had been cast, now for fate to either smile or frown.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Kaya's coughing fits continued to echo down the halls. Leov kept checking over his shoulder as he and his friends moved steadily forwards. He fell ever more behind with each sound from behind him. "Kid... what's up? If you don't hurry the hell up, they're gonna catch us," Dom said in an almost pleading way. "She's not stopping..." Leov responded half to himself.

The four men stopped in their tracks and all looked towards Leov for his decision. "Leov... make the call, kid," Gilbert said, "We'll do whatever you need us to. Just tell us." Another echoing cough rang through the halls. "Dammit! Why are You forcing me into this!? Is it really so important that I be here?" He looked down at his muddy, weather beaten boots and sighed: "Gilbert... go find that Ithramir guy and tell him... or bring him back here... or something. Dom, Al... go get Josef before he gets us all in trouble, then just lay low for a bit." He started back towards Kaya's direction, vowing to himself "I will NOT let another person die without doing anything. If I can't save her... at least I can make sure she doesn't die alone..."

"He's going to kill himself if he keeps going like this," Gilbert said as he watched Leov head down the hallways and past the office. Dom and Alorya nodded in silent agreement. "C'mon fellas... this night's not over yet, and we've got a whole lot to do," Dom said as he clapped the Gilbery and Aloray on the back.

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen

Captain Lessler was in his tent, examining the region's maps while sipping some of the best wine in all of the area. He was thinking how much he hated having taking a job to such a remote village in the foothills when he hated the cold. He didn't like this camp in the gloomy woods marking the border between the middle of no where and the snowy plains where people lived. But it was a job, and a lot of money came with it. Money he could use to keep his band of mercenaries in line for a few more weeks.

Suddenly he heard movement outside the tent and two of his men walked in. With them they had a girl, one of the most beautiful young ladies he had ever seen. She was very young and frail, her skin pale and her robe in tatters. An expression of sheer terror was on her fair visage and she was shaking all over.

"Captain, we found this girl on one of the forest paths. It looks like she's been attacked, but she hasn't said a word. She's too terrified. She may not even speak our language."

"Interesting. Bring her some hot food and something to wear."

"Yes sir," the two men left and were soon back with what he had asked for.

Lessler observed the girl and could not avoid feeling affection towards her, for she reminded him of his sixteen year old daughter. He also noticed that she ate and drank very little and without enthusiasm; it was clear that she was still scared. The old soldier tried to calm her, speaking with a soft and warm tone of voice, "Do not be afraid. We are friends. Friends. What is your name?" The girl looked up at him and seemed to understand his words.

"Kira, me Kira." The Captain was relieved. He couldn't recognize her accent, but at least some communication was possible. "What happened to you?, where is your family? Mother, father?" With her innocent eyes open wide, she answered "Forest... monster... die, all die. Kira no die." and she started to cry, sobbing violently. Lessler was moved and decided to leave her alone for some time. He walked out into the red light of the setting sun and called the sergeant. “Kemmer, have the men raise a tent for our guest and double the guard tonight. She spoke of a ‘monster' and I'm afraid that one of the wolf packs that inhabit these forests has attacked the group she was traveling with. But it's best to be prepared for the worst It seems she's the only survivor."

"At once sir!"

Then the night came.

Lessler was woken up abruptly by a terrible scream that pierced the darkness. In a moment he was outside the tent, his sword ready. Where were the guards, he thought, and why had they allowed the camp fires to die out? He heard more shouting from the barracks and rushed in that direction. He entered the large tent cautiously and by the dim light of the braziers he could see that it was too late. His warriors were dead. Some bodies were still in their beds, their throats ripped open. Others lay on the floor, their bodies torn apart and dismembered, apparently by the talons of a creature of awesome strength. A Troll! No, impossible. One of those creatures couldn't possibly make its way into the camp stealthily enough to surprise these experienced warriors in their beds. What was it then? How could he fight it? The Captain's mind was overwhelmed by fear and anger. Then another thought hit him like a war hammer: the girl! He had to protect the girl. He started to run to her tent, but was stopped by a new series of cries, coming from the edge of the wood nearby. Some of the guards were still fighting and one of the voices was clearly female – she was there! He reached the tree line where he could clearly see a torch burning not far ahead. He headed for the light and almost trampled on the lifeless body of a guard. The girl was leaning against a tree, an arrow protruding from her shoulder. Her clothes were covered in blood, but she was still alive, that was the important thing. She looked at Lessler with hope, but immediately her eyes focused on something over his shoulder and she shouted "Behind you!" The mercenary turned, ready to fight, prepared to give his life to protect that innocent creature from such a terrible fate.

His eyes scanned the darkness for any trace of the monster, when another voice spoke from behind him, sending a shudder down his spine. It was the languid, sensual voice of a full grown woman, with an evil, ironical hint in her tone: "I told you it was behind you..."

Those words, and the feral snarl that followed them, were the last sounds that Captain Lessler was to hear in his life.

Written by - Tempyst

Kay lay on the mat, still coughing. She watched the men leave and yet, it still not cease. Is this the way it is going to be? I failed, so now, death will come for me. She closed her eyesand tried to think of anything other than what was happening right now, to see if she could get the invisible hands around her neck to let loose. She thought of home, for the first time in ages; the large expanses of sand, the wonderful lightning storms flashing through the sky. Then she thought of that man, Leov, the one that had made her go into this fit, but also the one who had held her close. It had been a long time since she had felt any compassion from anyone.

Then she heard her cell door open once more. Who is it now, the guards? So they can gladly watch me die? She opened her eyes and saw the one who had held her moments before, Leov, standing above her, concern filling his face. Kaya felt the grip on her throat lessen and the choking calmed some, but found she still was hardly able to catch breath. She looked up into his eyes, her breaths short and shallow, and for the first time, showed someone how scared she truly was.

Written by - Sycon

Ardwen went over his story quickly. First asking question then quickly reverting to the matter he held over top of all else. He was like a giddy schoolboy during recess.

Sycon absorbed all Ardwen had to say, keeping his smile throughout their encounter. He did not read the old elf's mind, for one, it would just be impolite. Another, he owed respect to his former commander of the Glen. Sycon had always remained loyal to the Hands and the Glen, even though he would sometimes wonder from their eyes and the eyes of everyone to take on the incognito of an errant house. This way he could...locate donations for their guild without fear of jealousy of other houses. Either way, Sycon always returned with presents for everyone and Ardy had never asked questions.

It seemed Ardwen was expecting full out war with a city. And he, or perhaps the Avari in him, was willing to take it on alone if need be. Sycon weighed the advantages and disadvantages in his head. Logistics always were worked quickly in his brain and apparently much faster than Ardwen's. Maybe it was bravery, but bravery alone never won a battle.

Sycon spoke with the same sly tone in his voice, "So you intend to take on a city by yourself? Would almost want to go with you just to see it," Sycon chuckled to himself. "You know, you always were the most impatient elf I've ever met. No matter how you put us 'round-ears' down, you sure have a few qualities of some. No offense meant, of course." Sycon was ready to roll with laughter at this, but he kept his composure only letting his smile become a bit broader. He knew Ardy hated being compared with any human, even Sycon which he'd known and trusted for years.

"If I'm to help you... which I figure I might be able to, seeing I would hate to see you interred with our fellow comrades... I might expect a few things from you if you wouldn't mind." Sycon waited for a second to see if Ardwen would interject, but all that came was silence. "Number one, lets at least make a plan first. Maybe get a layout of the city, and it doens't even have to be a detailed one. Two, maybe persuade another couple of people to come with us? I mean, if none will come we just have to be a bit more to the stealthy side than you would like...but we can at least try, no? Three, I know you hate social occasions, but I plan on having a hell of a time before I'm walking off to face an entire city with two people, soooo," Sycon's smile went from ear to ear as he could swear Ardwen almost dropped his head a little, "I am not wasting this party tonight." He turned his eyes to indicate outside the door and let a mental image of wine women and song drift to Ardwen's mind.

"I also forgot to mention these wonderful people," Sycon was saying this loud enough so if the maid outside was listening, she would surely pick this up, "that have helped me thus far without even knowing who I am. I mean, introducing myself might be a wise idea if I plan to return here. Managing I am able to stay alive long enough." He was tempted to throw in a 'we lost so many good men' for the maid outside, but decided against it.

"Oh, one last thing," Sycon dropped his smile into a mocking stern look, " I'm a warlock, but I have a name there Ardy. I mean, you can remember at least one 'round-ears' name can't you?"

Written by - Ardwen

Sycon presented his demands. While he had a somewhat abrasive manner, it was his precise and logical mind that Ardwen was relying on. There was, however, something the Warlock needed to be instructed upon, “Hear, hear!” Ardwen interjected immediately after Sycon inquired if he could remember one “round-ears” name. “It is considered proper in Avari to refer to a comrade by his profession. Normally I would give your title in Elven save, as you are doubtless aware, there are no Elven Warlocks.”

“However,” Ardwen began again, “your demands are certainly reasonable, definitely logical. A map will be a simple matter, this Citadel is doubtless crawling with books, archives, and whatnot. As for people, now there . . .” Ardwen paused to gesture at the surrounding room, “there I think I can answer for you. Do not be disappointed if we get no one. This world has too few good souls, such as we, methinks. Ithramir has his obligations here, as do his soldiers and aids. Isuiln is in the same boat as Ithramir doubtless. Tempyst faints too often, I don’t think the poor girl has the stomach for this really. Renalis, well, you’ve met him. He’s a strong mage and a fair swordsman, though I do not think him up to par with even a Jen’e’tai – no offense – but he probably has his own agenda.”

Ardwen rubbed his chin in thought as he tried to recall more names, “Wilhelm . . . now there’s an interesting one. God-slave to Pandarrion, but a powerful paladin – and he’d probably see the importance in what we’re doing to boot. Still . . . I’ve not seen him since arriving back at the Citadel. Trinni . . . grah, why’d her name come to mind? A decent archer I suppose but the girl gets on my nerves as easily as she plucks yew. Entirely too lighthearted, I doubt she could take a sword at her throat seriously. She’d probably run my ears raw with her trite morality when I start putting heads on poles. The girl has no gut for war! And she’s a bloody Elf!”

Ardwen let out an exasperated sigh and tossed both hands in the air helplessly, “See old friend? This is what we have to deal with! I haven’t even seen Mavigan since I got back, and this is her gods’ damned throne! Oh what I’d give for a single Avari legion! Or a bloody ten-day in charge of some of these milksop humans they try to pass as soldiers!” Ardwen let out a derisive snort, “Aye, aye though, go to your party and see who you can get – but I wouldn’t be too discouraged if we get no one mellonamin. I’m going to go get us a map of the actual city, ponder on a plan, and then I might join you to get drunk enough so that this simmering ocean of rage I call ‘being awake’ boils off some.” Ardwen let out a rough chuckle before turning to the door and looking at the mage once more, “Sound good to you?”

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Leov stood there in shock as Kaya looked up at him, pleading almost. She appeared to be at death's door. "Again... it's happening again... everywhere I go..." Leov thought as he knelt down at Kaya's side.

"Don't go... please, please don't go. You're the only answer I have right now... so please don't go. This is my fault... I have to make amends for this. I... I can't have your blood on my hands, too." He held her close and whispered to her: "Please don't go. I can't... let it happen again."

Written by - Tempyst

I'm so scared; I can't die like this. Kaya then felt this stranger's arms pull her in close. "Don't go... please, please don't go. You're the only answer I have right now... so please don't go. This is my fault... I have to make amends for this. I... I can't have your blood on my hands, too. Please don't go. I can't... let it happen again."

Kaya's gasps started to grow slower and more shallow. She felt like she was wrapped up tight by a giant snake; ribs being crushed, all her life being squeezed away. She looked back up to Leov, seeing her fears mirrored in his face and eyes. "Not...your...fault...my own. I...I failed." she whispered, her head leaning upon his chest now. She gasped again as she felt the squeezing continue. I gave it my best, but still I fail. Beridane, Tahlon, you will still feel my vengence, even beyond death, you will feel it.

"Tell...me..." she whispered again, "...tell me about you, who ... who did you fail?"

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

"Tell...me..." she whispered again, "...tell me about you, who ... who did you fail?"

Leov closed his eyes and tried to ignore the pain from that question. "Everyone..." he whispered, "Everyone.... my wife, my friends, my contrymen. I had a part in all their deaths... I'm responsible for them. Their blood is on my hands... and the stains will never go away."

Written by - Tempyst

Inside the Black Dove, a favorite tavern of soldiers, human and elven alike, many who were at the battle that day sat and drank, not giving up their brief opportunity to relax. But many of the elves in the place were mulling over what they had witnessed earlier. Betrayal. One of the elves too a long draught, then leaned over the bar to the others with him."Did you hear about that traitor? The demon-witch that's locked up in the stockades right now?"

"Oh yeah, I heard a bit. Some big shadowy demon that tried to kill Lord Ithramir.... Heard he got saved by some kid. Heh, how embarassing is THAT? One of the greatest elves alive, getting his hide saved by little human kid."

"Hey, what was that witch's name? She was the purple-eyed one that joined up with the command squad right before they charged the keep...."

"Hm? Oh, I know who you're talking about. Kaylee, Kayan... something like that..."

A human sailor next to them put down the bottle he was holding and spoke up. "Kaya?" He asked off-handedly.

"Yeah! That's it! Kaya somethin'er'other."

"I hope that demon worshipping bitch gets what's coming to her!" A loud cry of agreement came forth from the crowd. The human sat there for a moment, then stood up abruptly and walked outside without paying.

The elves shrugged. The first one who spoke thought a bit more. "Yes, Kaya'Talas is her name. She was a hero in the homeland, helping our cause here. But it seems all along it was nothing but a joke. SHE is the reason I came over there. I heard her talk about how much Ithramir needed our help, and how if the elven race were to live on we needed to open our minds and explore new lands, meet and embrace new people and their culture." The elf spit on the floor.

Another one stood up and shouted. "THAT's the witch who tried to kill Ithramir?" The grumbles in the bar began to rise up dramatically.

"She's the reason I am here too! Was it all lies!"

"Damn the bitch!" The sound of the drunken voices rose even more.

"She's why I've not seen my wife!"

The first elf chugged the rest of his drink, a look of anger and betrayal on his face. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I am not going to let her get some sort of pardon. She lied to us and others! She tried to kill our commander AND she is in leage with demons! If she is left alone, more will come. SHE MUST BE DEALT WITH." A roar of aggreement went through the bar. "ALL WHO ARE WITH ME...LET US GO!" The elf placed some money on the table then staggered out the door. A dozen other elves followed him towards the stockades, determined to seek their revenge.

Written by - Rikshanthas

Lienad listened until the sound of footsteps could be heard nearing his location, then decided discretion was the better part of valor. He exited as swiftly and quietly as possible, then raced back toward the main hall. If he called the guards things would probably get ugly fast, and Lienad didn't want a confrontation - corpses were rather uncommunicative. Better to get the top dog himself, Lienad decided; the Avatar might be a little more ... persuasive than a platoon of guards. And that woman's coughing sounded serious, seemed callous of the elves to leave one of their own down in a cell in that condition, regardless of what she was charged with. May as well get Shara, she wanted to talk to the woman anyway and that might be difficult if she choked to death.

Lienad's mind continued to run over what he had understood of the illicit conversation as he entered the hall; while his entrance was not the most discreet, all eyes seemed to be on the center of the hall for the dancing, so few took note of the slightly-dusty human's arrival. It wasn't hard to locate the commander - he was in the middle of the square, dancing with a fire-haired beauty, what was her name? Lint, Lithium ... something starting with an L. Shrugging to himself, he quickly scanned the crowd until he saw Shara dancing with Sir Mathell, near the south end, and moved to meet them when they stepped off the square. An odd feeling seeped into him at the sight of the two together - jealousy? Nah, couldn't be ...

He had just reached them when all eyes went to the center of the square, as Ithramir drew everyone's attention. As the elflord went down on one knee before his lady, Lienad deftly - and completely innocently, nothing proprietary about it - inserted himself between Shara and Mathell with a word of greeting, putting an arm around Shara's shoulders and squeezing lightly. Sir Mathell nearly laughed aloud; his eyes were dancing as he greeted his old friend, saying, "I was wondering if you'd gotten lost, and I would have to keep this young lady company all evening ..." Lienad's eyes flashed before he realized his former mentor was ribbing him, and he actually blushed. He withdrew his arm from Shara's shoulders, chuckling softly in embarrassment, then straightened. "Wish I could while away the evening but we have to be quick," he said quietly, the tone of his voice alerting them both to trouble. "Shara, I need your help; we need to get down to the prison level, and quickly. Mathell, can you tell Ithramir to meet us there as soon as he can get away from ..." he jerked his thumb at the crowd of people who would no doubt soon swarm the couple regardless of the lady's answer. "We may have a jailbreak on our hands, and I'm sure the commander will agree, quietly and without blood would be better than having a detachment of guards charge in." With no further explanation, leaving Sir Mathell to explain the matter to Ithramir, he pulled Shara out into the now-clear night. As they darted toward the stockade Shara asked, "well what do you want me to do? In case you didn't notice I'm unarmed?"

"Not looking for a fight, I just want to make sure they don't escape; and well, you're a healer and there's a woman down there who needs help, the sooner the better," Lienad answered. "I just hope Ithramir can slip out after that fireball," he muttered.

Written by - Sycon

"Me brash? Nah old chap," throwing in an accent he couldn't even remember where he had heard it, "That'd be dandy."

Sycon reminded himself to forget all about this campaign tonight and let Ardwen do all the work. Seemed logical enough to him, considering he was planning to get so drunk he couldn't help, or perhaps just to busy to notice anything else. All work and no play makes Sycon a dull warlock.

"Ardwen, just remember when recruiting people. TRY to be friendly or at least in need. Remember that they are actual people that have names. I know that Avari place that is omnipresent in your mind...but you are not there anymore. I know its a hard task to do to remember that, seeing we are here. But one has to face it soon enough. If against your morals or not, consider it." Sycon hoped he had not offended the old elf too much. It was very straight forward, but hopefully the friendship they shared long ago would endure.

"Now, if you would excuse me. I have business to attend to." He hurridly shuffled Ardwen out of the room before he could get off a full sentence and shut the door. Remembering the maid outside, he opened the door again to see Ardwen staring confusedly at the maid wondering why he had been shut out with her. Before this effect wore off he pulled the maid inside the chamber and shut the door again.

Now that the maid was with him, her still being as confused as before, he instructed her. "Now, the elf you just saw is a good man, stern-hearded and thick headed, but a good," Sycon remembering Ardwen was no man, "elf none the same." He paused for a second to take a breath and went on. "I need a couple of things from you. I know you must have a small store somewhere of clothes or where would you have plucked these out for me. I know no seamstress was able to do this quick and fine of a job. Find a what a woman going to this party tonight would need. She is about your size. While you are gone I'll find her and bring her here. Now if you'd be quick about it." The maid looked almost devasted but angry, but tried to keep her face straight as she left the room.

Sycon stayed in the room until she returned a few minutes later with these things. I suppose she expected to find no one here, but was surprised to find Sycon near the door. "Now, you'd please freshen up and put these on we can make out way to the party. I'll wait in the chamber opposite of this one." He promptly left the room, seeing her almost stunned and found himself in the chambers across the hall which looked much like the one he had just left.

She was a maid none the less, but some of the best people, in his opinion, were commoners. She was very pretty, though a bit diry, she would clean up very nicely. Put her in a dress and she would very quickly be mistaken for a princess of the eastern world. Sycon felt a quick shiver of excitement run down his back.

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya heard the pain in his voice. "Everyone..." he whispered, "Everyone.... my wife, my friends, my contrymen. I had a part in all their deaths... I'm responsible for them. Their blood is on my hands... and the stains will never go away."

She felt the invisible snake around her squeeze tighter, making each breath painful and precious. It made speech near impossible, but she was not going to give up, not now. "I...I failed...too...I'm soaked...in blood...your...not alone." She gulped for some air, closing her eyes for a moment, feeling so lightheaded. She opened them back up with some effort, for her eyelids were begining to feel like dead weight.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Lucant could barely make out what Erruno was yelling as he lay there on the small cot. He hung between life and death on a small thread of Fate. He did not know where he was, what had happened, nor the condition he was in. Bahataru's mind-warping magic had seen to it.

"For the love of the goddess, shut up old man," a fiery young woman yelled from the other side of infirmary. She had been tending to the wounded sailors that had been brought in by the Sea Elf warriors. She immediately stood up and stormed over towards him. "Well, get out of the way if you want me to help him!" Humbled, Erruno stepped aside and let the woman come go to Lucant's side. She removed the long red coat she was wearing and tossed it to a large barrel chested man who was standing nearby. "Give that back to Leov," she ordered as she knelt by Lucant's side. She pulled back her long black hair and looked him over. A moment passed, then she spoke "There's nothigh I can do. This is beyond me." A deep sigh escaped her lips before placed her hand gently upon his Lucant's fevered brow. Again, he called Tempyst's name. Erruno, Baldwin, and Doram closed their eyes and bowed their heads in silent desperation.

Meanwhile, William quickly made his way to the Temple Row, frantically searching for an experienced healer. Always one to keep a clear head, even in a situation as dire as what he was facing now, he sprinted up the steps to the Temple of Nagarren. Inside, the temple was nearly deserted - everyone, it seemed was at the victory celebration. He quickly glanced over the temple, then his eyes came to rest on a young blond priestess, dressed in pink, and kneeling in front of the enormous statue of Nagarren in silent prayer and contemplation. William came up quietly behind her and knelt down: "Beg your pardon priestess, but there is a man who desperately needs your aid." The young priestess jumped, clearly startled. She stood up then turned to face William: "What do you mean soldier?" "Beg pardon again Your Grace. The Demonslayer... the hero who saved Lord Ithramir... something horrendous has happened to him. He is at Death's door, Your Grace. Please, you must help him," William pleaded. "Of course soldier. He cannot be allowed to perish so soon. I have been fasting recently and I am not yet at full strength, but I will do what I can," she said with a bow. The two exited the great temple and hurried towards the citadel's infirmary.

As the infirmary's doors slowly creaked open, everyone at Lucant's side looked toward it, hoping that someone would walk through it that would be able to help him. "Who is she," Erruno questioned out loud. "My name is Alulael, captain, a priestess of Nagarren. I am here to help this man." Erruno blushed, a bit embarassed by his brashness. "I'm sorry. Just... you gotta help him," he said. She said nothing, but stepped confidently forward to Lucant's side, and assessed his condition. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and began to pray to Nagarren, opening the link her goddess.

A moment passed as Alulael continued praying and chanting. Then Lucant's shattered body began to glow with a faint white light that steadily became brighter. The broken bones and numerous gashes began to mend themselves with Nagarren's divine aid. Alulael began to sway, then fell to the ground. "Forgive me," she said weakly. "I am not yet strong enough. He... he is not fully healed, but he will live. I was able to heal the serious injuries, or at least ease them some." She was referring, Erruno believed, to the terrible gash on Lucant's left eye - it had ceased bleeding and had healed a good deal, but the damage done was still severe. "Thank you, Your Grace. Please, get some rest. You have done a great deed, Erruno said, helping her up.

Written by - Tempyst

Time passed in the Elder Sleep. How much time Tempyst did not know, nore did she find herself caring. Her time was filled with lessons from wisened, elder druids of days past, those that had served Nyrondis with honor and were given positions as his councelors. One by one she listened to what they had to say, practiced what they taught, grew in her understanding of the life and earth she would go back to. But once again, she found herself empty. Often, she would find her thoughts drifting back to the living world, thinking of Lucant.

Nyrondis appeared to Tempyst again and sat with her within the great oak. "You are distracted young one. Most who come here are free from worries while in the Elder Sleep. Could it be that all of this is not what you truly want?"

Tempyst looked at him. "Oh my Father, my lord, that is not true. You, serving you, doing your work...you are my life Nyrondis. Your way is my way. I could not bear to be without your guidance or trust..."

"But?"

"But my lord, my heart still thinks of Lucant. I know what A'lanthear told me, what you told me of our bonding, of our feelings. But, if it was never meant to be, then why do I miss him so? Why do I wonder why he left the grove? It, it could not have been just manipulation that brought us together. I was told the one I had always dreamt about was actually my father, not my soul mate. But if that is true, why do I ache as I do, even here, within your embrace, a place where I should feel whole and at peace at?" Tempyst sighed, feeling embarrassed now at her outburst to her god.

Nyrondis only smiled and took the yound druid's hand. "This is why I have chosen you dear one. Your faith, your love, the hope you carry within you. Even through all that you have been though in this short time, still, you think about those around you, those you love. you hold onto what you believe. You are strong, stronger than you even know you are. With this strength, will come great trials, many of which will test your faith and love."

"And I will face those tests with faith and courage Nyrondis. I, just hope I do not have to face them alone when I return to the waking world."

"I wish I could tell you what you wish to hear, but I can't. Only Lucant knows what he feels. He is the one that holds the answers. But let me tell you this. Be true. Be yourself. Find strength within the saddness you may face. Follow your heart, but also, know when to let go." Nyrondis stood and held out a hand to Tempyst. As she took his hand and stood, he smiled once more. "When you leave this sleep, you will have new understandings of the waking world. You will have new powers and new weaknesses. But always remember, I am here and you are loved, and thus, you are never truly alone." Nyrondis then let go of her hand and faded out of sight.

Tempyst took a deep breath, thinking of all her god had said to her. I have much to ponder during the rest of my time here. I only hope, it is not too late when I return. As she stepped back into the darkness to continue her lessons, she called out into the nothingness. "Please come back Lucant. Please."

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