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Book Three Pt 1 - The Reckoning

Written by - Archeantus Page 9 Book 3

The alley, dark and wet, was devoid of anyone or anything when the old warlock planted his booted feet back upon the surface of what he termed, New Ancora.

It was not as he had hoped it would be. He was not prepared for what he would discover.

Archeantus stood there in the alley, wet, cold, and took in his surroundings.

This world was different, far different from Aerynth. He found levitation had taxed him far more than he had anticipated. He was mentally exhausted from that small effort. He noted that, and would plan accordingly.

The rain still pelted the cobbled street, there was the sound of the rushing of waters flowing down the gutters, and a dank putrid smell.

It was then that the small glowing ember appeared again, floating whimsically near his wizened face.

“What do you see my friend?” He asked mentally.

A moment passed as information was relayed. The old warlock’s face grew grimmer by the moment as the information was quickly revealed: Ancora was slowly dying.

“Take me there. Take me everywhere.” He softly pleaded upon hearing it.

Taking his walking stick, he stepped forward out of the dark alley to discover the state of the city, and of the world.

*****

Many perhaps saw the old blind beggar, he was barely noticeable, but none knew what he was doing as he passed among them. His unique skill was completely unknown to them.

His mind entered a great many of the people, gleaning vast amounts new information in every conceivable category.

In the grand courtyard, a place meant to house merchants, cultures, and peoples from all across the lands, now was a place of shady open deals. It was now a place of hors and gambling. Here he learned of the assassination of the royal family from a small spindly man counting his coins.

In the docks, a place which used to signify the connection to the world, a place of wonder and rumors and excitement, now was riddled with seclusion and distrust. He learned that there was a war going on with those who still sided with the royal family, that forces were moving across the world to do battle for control of the continent.

In one of the many local taverns that now littered the city, he discovered the name of the man who had won the throne by bloodshed, from a dark and foreboding mercenary in a corner, and from another that was dealing with the mercenary that there still lived a single heir to the throne. A young woman.

Along a flight of stairs leading up to the battlements, he learned the usurper, Beridane, had been acting strangely lately from a large guard who walked slowly down. The man was reconsidering his stance on his decision to support the king.

From a rare small child, dirt covering his face, he learned of the nature by which the people were treated. Only the strong survived. The weak were cast off. That child found himself the recipient of a small bag of traveling jerky from the strange beggar.

He wandered the city, resting his old hands on wet pillars and old statues only he understood, of all those in the city. They knew nothing of it’s origins, of it’s forbearers, they were as a whole, an uncaring, selfish, and power hungry people, devoid of the single most important bits information the old warlock sought: information of his old friends, those he missed more than anything.

When he was finished, Archeantus stood upon the battlements, his wet face, intermingled with tears and rain, sightlessly gazed down at the once great city, now corrupt, the world about to burst forth into a terrible war. He had felt the hateful emotion, the horrific pride, the gaping hole of virtue present in the hearts of all those in the city. He knew grim state of the world. He sensed its possible demise. He realized he stood overlooking the heart of evil in the world, a thing he never would have supposed when he was finally called to come by his God. He had waited hundreds of years for this, he had been told he has been saved to come forth distinctly during this time. And now he found, and slowly came to terms with, that he was left to uncover a vast mystery.

Laying his bandaged head in shame, it was then that he sensed her. She was faint, but his keenly aware mind quickly latched onto her mental waves.

She was here, and in danger.

He head rose again and his mind began to search. If she was here, so it would follow they would be as well.

“Find her if you can Angellus. Quickly, she is in pain.” He whispered to his small friend. “I will search the land for the possibility of the others.”

The small ember flew off through the rain.

He then stood and bowed his head from atop the battlements, his powers expanded and unlocked after great difficulty, and his mind traveled great distances in search of life forces he knew, and knew well.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm once again led his small group forward so he could scan the heartfires of Mavigan and the others. They were all present, and while Keeryn seemed unhappy she was not alarmed. Teran was as steady and unreadable as ever, but Mavigan's heartfire continued to show a similar constancy that was unnatural to such a fiery personality. Wilhelm crept closer until he had a visual sioghting, and was alarmed when Mavigan and Teran were not in view at the locations their heartfires indicated, although Argent was there.

"Calm yourself, all is well. It is just a training excercise." came the deep inner voice.

"Easy for you to say," thought Wilhelm in reply, "do you have any idea how much trouble she will be able to get into if she has learned magical transportation? And I'm her Champion!"

"Then we will just have to ensure that you are there when you are truly needed, won't we?" the All Father replied with a deep chuckle.

Wilhelm crept back to his men and they remained at the edge of his tracking sense. Mavigan's return would likely show up as a resumption of change in her heartfire. Wilhelm wondered how Teran had done that trick, but anyone as stealthy as Teran would likely have means of dealing with the tracking senses of bounty hunters. They settled themselves to rest, as things were quite likely to get lively once Mavigan rejoined the others.

Written by - Tempyst

Lithwyn put her arm within Ithramir’s, and guided him and Vhar along to the feast hall. As they were introduced she let out a soft squeal when she felt Ithramir pinch her rear. She gave him a stern look, then soften as he saw his wonderful smile and playful wink. They wandered a bit, saying hello to some people, Vhar close behind. It was obvious he wished to speak more to Lithwyn. Taking his que, Ithramir leaned close to Lithwyn. "I will greet our guests while Vhar talks to you. I promise, my love, I will not wander far." Smiling, he pulls her lips to his and kisses her deeply. Then, turning to Vhar he says, "I must take my leave, but only for a short time. I am sure whatever you and the Lady must dicuss, it is of some importance. I need to tend to our guests, so forgive me for a short while. Perhaps you both can fill me in later." Ithramir gave a slight bow, then made his way to others within the hall. Lithwyn watched her love walk through the crowd, making sure everyone was having fun.

Vhar waited for Ithramir to depart, then spoke once again. "I have just been reminded of something I wished to mention to you, milady," he said, turning to Lithwyn. “The young human sailor I encountered earlier, the one responsible for that tavern scuffle ... he managed to talk his way out of his cell and escape. I was going to inform you at the earliest opportunity, but it seems the young man ... reconsidered." Vhar inclined his head toward where Leov sat.

Lithwyn looked over at Leov and let out a small exasperated sigh. Why am I not surprised at hearing this about you Mr. Klein? “Thank you Vhar, for your information. I will speak to him later about his escapades, but for now, let us all just enjoy our celebration.” She pointed Vhar towards some pastries, then turned to speak with some others who seemed to need her attention. She too wandered a bit, making small talk. It is so nice to see all these people in such a relaxed atmosphere. No worries, no troubles, no emergencies. She found her gaze though, keep going back towards Ithramir. She felt her face flush and her heart race at the sight of him. Is it true? Is it for real? Will I wake up from this to find it only a dream? She felt Khai’hanas touch her spirit and in that moment, knew it was all real.

Then she felt him draw near and take her within his arms. The band began to play a romantic waltz and the two found themselves dancing with the other couples there. This is the elf I always knew was there. She thought, her eyes giving away her joy at this moment. Smiling, Ithramir says, "Cannot your love enjoy a song or two with the most beautiful elf-maiden in the world? However, there is one last thing I must ask..." Ithramir motions for the room to be quiet. Still holding Lithwyn while the crowd settles down, he waits until there is silence, then drops to one knee, saying, "Lithwyn Deltheron, will you marry me?" Pulling his signet ring off, he offers it to Lithwyn, then holds his breath as he waits for her response.

The room was silent. Only the crickets from outside could be heard, chirping, oblivious to what had just happened. Lithwyn’s face paled, all the blood rushing from it to her heart and that felt like it was going to burst out from her chest. Her mind raced as she looked upon her soul mate. Did he just ask me to marry him? He couldn’t have. Not here, not now. I mean, we have not even had time to ourselves yet and here he is asking me to marry him? Lithwyn felt her face begin to flush now. She looked at Ithramir, her eyebrow raised and a look in her eyes that he would know he stepped over some line. Her jaw clenched as she bit her tongue to keep the first words she though of from popping out of her mouth. Lithwyn took a few deep breaths, well aware of the silence and all eyes upon them. “Ithramir, I...this...you…I…”

It was then, a deep voice could be heard rise above the silence. “Sir Ithramir! Sir Ithramir! Are you here, I need to speak to you!” A wiry man brushed through the crowd and into the center of the hall.

Ithramir stood, looking slightly annoyed at the intrusion, “I’m Ithramir. Now what is the meaning…”

The man stepped towards him and several guards started to push their way through the crowd as well. “Thank goodness I found you Sir. You are greatly needed in the stockades. There is a young lady there, dying and she needs help.” Ithramir raised his hand, signaling the guards to stand down. Lithwyn took a deep breath, silently thanking the gods for this intrusion.

Ithramir took a step towards the man. “What is your name sir? Why do you come to me and not the infirmary?”

“My name is Gilbert Sir. I am a sailor, under the leadership of Captain Leov Klein.” At the captain’s name, Lithwyn let out a sigh, Why am I not surprised he is in on this. “The young lady said between her fits that you were the only one who could help her. Please, you must hurry.” Gilbert looked at Ithramir sternly. “I should also mention Sir, that while I made my way here, I came across a mob of drunken soldiers talking trash and heading towards the young lady’s whereabouts.” Gilbert stood there, waiting to see what the elf would do.

Lithwyn felt a tug at her mind and welcomed the voice of her goddess. Lithwyn, what the man says is true. At this very moment my husband is speaking to Ithramir, telling him the same. You must not go with them, you are needed elsewhere. It will be revealed to you soon. Lithwyn nodded silently, then stepped up besides Ithramir. She leaned close and spoke softly. “Go my love, but know this, we are not done talking about this. We will discuss things later when we have our privacy.” She kissed his cheek, then watched him hurry off towards the stockades.

She, herself moved quickly to the bards. “Please, play something light and lively, we must not let our guests forget what a joyous occasion this is.” Then Lithwyn turned to the crowd, who still had all eyes on her, even though they were now murmuring to themselves. “Please, everyone.” She spoke with a calm command. “Everyone! Everything is fine, I would be saddened if you all did not continue this wonderful celebration this evening. We have much to be happy about. We all have been under much stress these last weeks and now, now we must enjoy the time we have with those we love. Keep dancing, keep eating, and have fun. I don’t want to see any food or drink left over from tonight!” The crowd cheered and the band began to play a lively jig.

Lithwyn gave a relieved sigh and made her way to one of the tables and treated her self to a glass of wine. Then her mind went back to what had happened only moments before. "Lithwyn Deltheron, will you marry me?" The proposal ran through mind. Will I marry you? Will I! Lithwyn let out an annoyed snort. How human of you Ithramir, to rush into marriage only moment after I open myself up and accept all that I am, all my feelings for you. And in front of EVERYONE. She took along draught of the wine. We have not even had any time to speak. Yet you are brash enough to...ohhh…you can make me so mad sometimes! Lithwyn put her empty glass down and was reaching for another when she felt a hand tap her shoulder. She turned around, and the poor girl that was standing there cowered from the look Lithwyn had on her face.

“I’m sorry to disturb you m’Lady, but you are needed in the infirmary.” He voice shook slightly.

Lithwyn’s face immediately softened. “I’m so sorry dear, I didn’t mean to scowl at you. What is wrong in the infirmary, surely everyone was healed from the ceremony?”

“Most were m’Lady, though there are stragglers being brought in from the docks and from the battle. But he needs help m’lady. The hero. The one who slew the demon.”

Lithwyn knew this was what her goddess had told her of. She placed a gentle hand upon the girls shoulder. “Take me to him. Is his wife with him as well?”

The girl, along with Lithwyn, began to make their way down to the infirmary. “Someone is trying to locate her m’Lady, but we don’t know if she will be found in time.” Lilthwyn did not like the sound of that and hastened her pace. Hold on Lucant, Tempyst cannot lose you this night as well.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst heard her daughter's words Tell daddy I love him. then all was silent. Inside the void of the great oak, all was at peace here. But even within the peace, Tempyst could feel the urgency in which she was needed. Then there it was, the soft glow of the way home. Without hesitation, she stepped through into the night.

She was greeted by the druid Dalomir, who bowed. "Welcome Tempyst Whisperling of the Deepshadow Glen. May Nyrondis' wisdom enfold you like this Elder Druid's cloak."

As Dalomir wrapped the cloak about her, she smiled. "I am Tempyst Dolvan now, I will take my husband's name, but you are forgiven."

Dalomir blushed slightly. "Forgive me then, Welcome, Tempyst Dolvan." Dalomir then stood straight and reached out his hands, looking up. A long, straight, flowering branch above them shivered and detached itself, falling neatly into his waiting hands. He handed the staff to Tempyst. "May the power of Nature support you like this Elder Druid's staff. Be welcome into the Circle of Elders of this Sacred Grove." Dalomir smiled and enfolded Tempyst in a firm hug, and the other druids present cheered. Dalomir then stepped back and his face grew solemn.

"I know why you have returned. The messenger from the healers told me that Lucant is gravely injured and suffering from demonic taint. You will need to gather the other senior healers and form a healing circle to save him. Begin with Commander Lithwyn, who is at the Great Hall along with many of the healers from the army and citadel. Priestess Alulael has already tended to Lucant and is aware of his need." He gave her one more hug then spoke again. "And Tempyst, remember that while Alan'thear abused his role by magically hastening the matter, he used what was already there. Not even he can create a soul bond if the potential was not already present."

"I know Dalomir. I have no doubts about Lucant and I. Now, I have no idea where the infirmary is or the other healers, could messengers be sent for them, I just need someone to show me to my husband now."

"Of course Tempyst. But may I also suggest something. Though here, your stateof undress is not a concern, I would suggest putting on a simple robe under your cloak." Tempyst blushed, reazling what he said to be true. She nodded, then Dalomir raised a hand and several young druids came over. He instructed most of them to go find the other healers, but asked one to get a robe for Tempyst then take her to the infirmary. Tempyst quickly put on the simple green robe, then quickly followed the druid through the citadel, but as they approached the infirmary, Tempyst broke out in a run, letting her love for Lucant guide her to his side.

As Tempyst burst into the infirmary, she saw Erruno and knew that he was standing by Lucant. She rushed over, then brought a hand up to stifle her gasp. She could sense the demon taint within him before she even could see him. Then, there was all his injuries. Here he is, my husband, dying. How could I have not been here for him? She knealt by his side and took a battered hand into her own.

"Oh Lucant, what has happened? How could this...I..." Tempyst felt the tears brimming her eyes. Then she felt a stronge hand upon her shoulder. She looked up, tears falling, into the concerned face of Erruno.

"I am glad they found you lady, I knew you'd want to be here."

"Erruno, do you know what happened? How did he get hurt like this? Where was he?"

Erruno shook his head. "I don't know what happened. We found him in an alley in town like this, only worse. The priestest Alulael came and healed him as best she could, but it wasn't enough. Please lady, you gotta save him."

Tempyst sniffed, then wiped her tears. "I will Erruno. I will not lose my husband this night. I will not." She turned her attention back to Lucant. "Watch for the other healers and bring them here as soon as they arrive." Erruno nodded and stepped back.

Tempyst leaned over and kissed Lucant's bruised lips. She then closed her eyes and grounded herself, then reached out with all her love and abilities to see what was wrong with her husband. She could see the taint within every scratch, every wound, within his blood and spirit. It was stronger than what she had felt within Ithramir. What did this to you Lucant. She took a deep breath, trying not to let her discovery shake her. I am stronger this time. I know what to do now. I will not fail him. She reached, trying to find Lucant within the darkness of his mind, to lett him know he was not alone, that she was there to pull him back. Now, all I can do is wait for the others.

Written by - Teran

"We all age at our own pace Mavigan. I am still young if you look at my life span as a whole." He said a little slyly "That is of course assuming I die old and in bed rather than in the mud with a dagger in my back."

Teran placed all of his tools back into their pouches.

"You have just created a poison, now it is time you learn what it does and why each ingredient is important."

He held up a sprig of bronzeleaf for her to see.

"Bronzeleaf is harmless. You can eat it, roll around in it, do whatever you like with it and alone it will never harm you. It is also the most important ingredient. This binds the poison to our weapons and prevents it from smearing off on clothing, armor, or even our own sheaths." He said, keeping an eye on her making sure she was paying attention.

Next he held up a sprig of thistleshrub.

"Thistleshrub is a nuisance, it causes rashes and itching almost immediatly after it comes into contact with a creature's blood. Often the 'suffering' caused by the thistleshrub is more overwhelming than the pain of the initial wound you have given your enemy."

Finally he held up a strand of whipper root.

"This is the most dangerous ingredient. It does not cause any pain but it slows your enemy down and with enough of this in their blood will paralyze them. This poison is designed to weaken your enemies just enough that you can more easily spot holes in their defense and their attack patterns. It is one of my favorite poisons for that reason." He offered Mavigan a somewhat charming smile.

"There is no antidote really" he continued "but probably because it is more of a nuissance than an actual threat. I'm sure some alchemist somewhere has figured it out." he murmured.

Written by - Tempyst

The rain poured down upon the elf, as he road towards the city on his horse. He stopped his horse and paused, hearing someone approach. Full plate by the sound of it. What fool would be our here in full plate? The fool soon came into sight. The rain seemed to drizzle off and the moon shone sparingly thorugh the clouds. He could see the individual now. An elf, the biggest elf he had ever seen; carrying the biggest sword he had ever seen. Damn, who is this guy? I wonder if he's for hire? "Hail there man. I need to ask you a few questions." The large elf stopped, silent. Then turned his face towards the horseman. Maybe I should have not garnered his attention. But it was too late, the attention had been obtained.

****

The drunken soldiers, elf and human alike, with the odd dwarf thrown in, made their way to the stockades. All the elves were mumbling about the demon bitch and how she ruined their lives. The others were spouting off slurs about her and what she had done to their commander and friends. There was talk that perhaps she had been in league with the orcs all along. By the time they reached the stockades, some had their weapons drawn, letting anyone know that it would not be a good idea to stand in their way. They made a lot of noise and as they entered the stockades, anyone insode could hear that trouble had arrived.

Written by - Tempyst

Amara watched with the rest of the crowd, as Ithramir proposed to Lithwyn. Then she watched with a bit or surprise (and amusement) as Lithwyn stammered in response. Then, there was the dramatic entrance of that man who had been with the sea captain she had had her eye on. Then she heard the sailor talk about a woman in the stockades dying. Interesting developement. Amara thought. I can only assume that someone has gotten to her, after all, she did attempt to assassinate the commander of the armies. She watched Ithramir and the sailor leave, then Commander Lithwyn approached the dias.

“Please, play something light and lively, we must not let our guests forget what a joyous occasion this is.”

Amara nodded. "Of course My Lady, as you command." She turned back to her bandmates and discussed with them what song to do next. Then she heard Lithwyn speak again.

“Please, everyone.” She spoke with a calm command. “Everyone! Everything is fine, I would be saddened if you all did not continue this wonderful celebration this evening. We have much to be happy about. We all have been under much stress these last weeks and now, now we must enjoy the time we have with those we love. Keep dancing, keep eating, and have fun. I don’t want to see any food or drink left over from tonight!” The crowd cheered and that was the que for Amara and the band to play a lively jig.

As they played the joyful tune, she watched the crowd settle back down. Then noticed that Commander Lithwyn was spirited away and shortly after, others were escorted out as well. When the song ended, the band took another break, eager to get some more food and wine into their bellies. Amara just sat on the stage again, watching the crowd, then found her mind drifting back to the sailor she met earlier. Leov, that is his name. With all what must be going on, I hope nothing has happened to him or his friends. Hmm, but why am I worried about him, it is not like he means anything to me, I just met him and he refused my advances. Amara shrugged, trying to get Leov Klein off of her mind. She picked up her flute and began to play a low, almost mournful song, the notes floating upon the night air. A few coupled took to the floor to dance again. As she watched the joy and love that was surrounding her, she felt that old, familiar pain deep in her soul. She closed her eyes as she played, unable to bear the site of such happiness.

When the song ended, the people applauded, a few came up to tell her how wonderfully she played and put more money into the jar. One young man even brought her up a glass of wine, flirting with her and showing his interest. She could tell he had been drinking to get his courage up, and normally, she would have flirted and played along with the young man. But suddenly, the joy of the evening seemed to drain from her. She thanked the man for the drink, but sent him along his way. She felt a little bad at doing so, but then saw him pick up another young lass and knew he would be fine.

As she watched, she realized, that aside from all the joy and happiness people felt, there were other emotions there. The saddness of those that had been lost in the battle. I know what I need to do. Amara stood up and tapped her flute against the half full wine glass. "Excuse me, everyone. May I have your attention?" She continued to tap the glass until the room was quiet and all eyes were upon her. "Tonight, we are celebrating life, victory in battle. But there are those who are not here with us tonight. Those that fell during the fight, those that must not be forgotten." She heard the soft murmurs in agreement. "I would like to sing for you all, a song I heard a long time ago, one to remember those that have gone onto the afterlife and those that are still with us." Amara lifted her glass, then, acapella, began to sing.

I was your husband, I was your friend,
I was your brother till the end
I was your father, I was your son
I’ve been with you, since time begun

But now I’ve gone into the halls
Where ever life awaits us all
A valiant death, at your side
Lifts me up, filled with pride

Now sing for me, sing for us all
Sing for men, who took the fall.
Sing for the battle we fought this day
Sing for all who walked away.

Fight for honor, fight for love
Fight to help others rise above
Fight for love, our memories
Fight for what should always be

If you be sad and shed your tears
Make sure it’s not for wasted years
Live for the day, give all you’ve got
Don’t let your life wither and rot

Now sing for me, sing for us all
Sing for men, who took the fall.
Sing for the battle we fought this day
Sing for all who walked away.

Raise your sword, raise your glass
Raise your voice to futures past
Raise your hopes and you’ll never fail
Here’s the wind, now raise your sails

One day too soon, we will unite
Until then, put up a Fight
Our lives will not, fall through the seams
And I will see you, in your dreams.

As the last verse drifted away into the night, she could hear the crowd pick up and sing the chorus with her. A choir of voices singing to those they loved.

Now sing for me, sing for us all
Sing for men, who took the fall.
Sing for the battle we fought this day
Sing for all who walked away.

Now sing for me, sing for us all
Sing for men, who took the fall.
Sing for the battle we fought this day
Sing for all who walked away.

When the song ended, Amara raised her glass, along with all the others in hall and downed her drink with them. Then, her heart a little lighter, she put the glass down and played her flute once again, starting up a warm folk song for the crowd to enjoy. As she stood there playing, the rest of the band got back up on staged and joined her, playing their hearts out.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen had not expected to see a traveler on the roads, much less a fellow Elf. Still, he had not expected to be sucked through a dimensional rift by a god he thought dead only to find himself on a journey to save his friends who were also thought deceased. Fate laughs at most men, but it shat on Ardwen. The other Elf was mounted, and seemed alarmed at Ardwen’s appearance, nevertheless he managed a greeting of sorts, “Hail there man. I need to ask you a few questions.”

Ardwen stopped and looked at him. He was blood, and that alone earned him the right for some questions. “Vedui kinsmen.” Ardwen began with a common greeting, “What is it you would ask of me?”

Written by - Tempyst

"I seek the citadel, and a warm place to stay. Do you have any recommandations good sir. Also, I am in search of a young half elven lass, a bard. Quite fetching in looks; white hair, green eyes, dark skin. But I tell you looks can be decieving for she is dangerous criminal, wanted for the murders of a whole traveling show group and attempted assassination of a elven lord in the southern lands." The elf paused, trying to discern the other's demeanor. "She is worth a lot of gold to the one who finds her. You look like you could use a coin sir. So, if you have any knowledge, please share it."

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Again the all-consuming shadow overtook Lucant. He remained there in the darkness for what seemed like years. Suddenly, as if he had always been there, Lucant found himself again in a snowy field, surrounded by a dense snow-capped forest. The sun struggled to make its presence know through the thick blanket of dark clouds overhead.

A sudden forceful strike knocked him backwards. As he attempted to regain his senses through the searing pain, he saw that he had been pinned to the massive oak tree behind him by a large black spear. Another piercing scream resounded from the forests as Lucant looked around for what who or what had done this. A large ebon-skinned monstrosity thundered forth from the woods chasing a dozen fleeing villagers. Lucant struggled to break free, but the pain only worsened with each minute movement. He looked on helplessly, painfully as the monster tore the villagers to shreds, taking clear delight in the slaughter.

As the creature finished off the last villager, it turned towards Lucant. A woman dressed in white with stone grey eyes walked around in front of him from behind the tree. "Give up boy... give in. You are no match. Let it consume you. Then the pain, the suffering will be gone. There will peace... unending peace," she said in a silken voice. Lucant gazed down at the pure white ground, trying to avert his attention from the blood soaked field in front of him. "I..." he hesitated. A warm, comforting voice came into his mind and heart from the massive oak: "My Champion... do not give in to darkness. You are stronger than that. Have the faith, the strength to drive it back. But say the word, my Champion, and I will aid you." The words of Nyrondis, Lucant found, strangely comforted him. "No, I will not! I will not allow the shadow to take my soul," he shouted.

"Then so be it," another voice said. A young man in black stepped out from behind the tree as well, dragging a battered Tirigil behind him by her golden honey-brown hair. "Perhaps this," he said jerking Tirigil up to her knees, "will persuade you." A long black, single-edged blade, wreathed in flame appeared from the shadows in his right hand. As the black clad man reared back his sword hand, ready to behead Tirigil right in front of him, Lucant yelled out from the depths of his soul: "Tempyst! Nyrondis! Someone help me! Don't let this happen!"

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst sat at her husbands side, waiting. It seemeed like hours passed before the others began to arrive. Lithwyn put a gentle hand upon the young druid. "He will not die Tempyst, we will save him, just as you both saved Ithramir." Tempyst nodded, but did not move, not wanting to take her eyes off of Lucant. After a few moments, Lithwyn spoke again. "Everyone is here Tempyst, we can begin." Only then did Tempyst look up. She saw the familiar faces of the other healers and druids that were at the healing circle.

"This is Lucant, my husband, my splitapart, my soul." She choked back a soft sob. "If things do go bad and he cannot be save, then do not save me. For without him, I will be nothing." There were a few murmurs, but she gave them all a fierce look. Then looked up to Lithwyn. "Promis me! Promis me you will let me go with him." Lithwyn felt a tear fall as she nodded in agreement. "Alright then, let us get started, I feel the taint so strong in him, so dark. It will be dangerous, I can feel it. Please, direct your strength and energy and let me do my work." Tempyst placed her staff along side Lucant and wrapped her cloak tightly about her shoulders. Taking a deep breath she places a hand upon Lucant's chest, over his heart, closed her eyes and began to softly chant.

For those standing watching the healing circle form, it looked like ethereal vines of ivy sprung from the floor of the infirmay, wrapping up and around each healer, connecting them to one another, then all the vines joined together to form one and wrapped itself around Tempyst's waist, becoming one with her very being. The air turned fresh, like the forest after a rain, and a soft, warm wind started to flow through the infirmary, cleansing the whole space.

When Tempyst felt the strength of the other healers enter her, she took another deep breath then felt her spirit dive into her husband. She felt the two of them connect, finding the gaps in each other's soul, filling them, creating one strong bound soul. Bound with love, faith and courage. She felt Lucant struggling and sought out where the pain was coming from. All physical injuries began to heal completely, leaving behind no scar or bruise. But there was more than the body, there was the mind and still one part of his soul. Tempyst cried out Lucant! Hold on. But was not sure if her husband heard her for she suddenly found herself facing a thick, black fiery barrier. She tried to reach through it on her own, but could only feel the pain and anguish that fueled it. Once again, she cried out. Nyrondis, please, help my husband, help your servant. Yes, I know he is angry, but he is a good man and I cannot live without him. Help him please, I beg you my God, my Father, please, help me break through the blackness, the poison, the taint. Please, help him.

Tempyst suddenly felt a deep golden light filler her as she felt Nyrondis burst through her to aid her husband. She followed her god and heard him whisper to Lucant, to hold on, to not give in. Tempyst too, called to Lucant. I am here, we are here, let us help you, please. She could feel the searing pain from the taint and rushed to take what she could from Lucant. Those within the circle, watching her, sending her energy, felther falter as the taint swarmed into her, willing to take another life if possible. They could feel Tempyst give all of herself for Lucant. Lithwyn's heart called out, wanting to help her young friend but Khai'Hanas whisperd to her, reminding her of the Druid's request and that it would be honored. Lithwyn sighed and concentrated more, giving Tempyst all the support she could.

Tempyst felt her own soul weaken, but she would not let go. Then she heard Lucant's call. In that moment, the two were united. She felt the barrier of darkness begin to shatter and felt herself flow into his soul, giving him the strength he needed. Then, it was all faded and she found herself sitting upon the bed at Lucant's side. her hand still upon his chest, tears in her eyes as she and the others waited.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

The black spear that had pinned him to the oak was obliterated by a golden beam of live energy from the tree. Lucant quickly stood and again saw the sword from before in his hand. And even though she was not there, he felt Tempyst at his side as well. Charging forward in a rage, he swept upward with the magnificent sword, easily slicing the sword arm of the man in black off. As he howled in pain at the stump, which was pouring black flames, Lucant brought the sword overhead, and cut the creature in half. Lucant turned his rage on the woman in white, but was denied his retribution as she faded into nothingness.

He rushed to Tirigil's side in time to hear her say "Daddy... thank you. Nyrondis... Mommy... me... thank you." Lucant held his beloved daughter close as the black skinned monster began its rampage towards them. "Daddy..." Tirigil whispered. Lucant hugged her one last time, then turned to deal with beast that threatened her. Rushing as fast as he could, Lucant dodged the monster's claws with a grace not his own. As he brought the sword to a ready position, he saw another pair of hands holding his own. He felt Tempyst with him now more strongly than ever and as he brought the sword down on the demon's black hide, he could swear he saw her at his side.

The demon let out another piercing scream, the stumbled back in pain. A bright white light emanated from the wound and it only got brighter until consumed him as had the shadow before. When it had finally subsided, Lucant found himself on his back, looking up at Tempyst. Her long chestnut hair obscured her face. Without thinking Lucant reached up and brushed the hair from her face and placed his hand upon her cheek. "Are you... are you real? Or is this... just another dream?"

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst opened her eyes when she felt the hand reach up and touch her cheek. Then she heard him speak. "Are you... are you real? Or is this... just another dream?"

Tears of pure joy fell as she leaned down and kissed Lucant. When she broke the kiss, she whispered. "This is real Lucant. I'm real. I'm here and always will be with you." She kissed him again then kissed the palm of his hand. Tempyst sat back up and looked around at the exhausted healers. She stood and hugged Lithwyn tightly. "Thank you. Thank you all." She let the commander go, then hugged everyone else. "Thank you all, I know this wa a lot to ask, I know how much it has taken from you..." At that point, Tempyst swayed and sat back down hard on the side of Lucant's bed. She took Lucant's hand into her own, seeing his eyes flicker, still weak from the ordeal.

"Yes, it drained us all, but not as much as you Tempyst. You were the one using the energy." She smiled at the two young lovebirds. "We will be fine. We will go eat, drink, for I suspect there is much food left at the party, You two, should be taken to your room. I will have a feast sent to you." Lithwyn turned and gave the orders for all who were not needed to go enjoy themselves at the party.

"'Scuse me miss, is he gonna be alright?" Erruno's voice still sounded worried.

Tempyst looked up and smiled tiredly. "Yes, he will be." Erruno let out a relieved sigh. "But we do need your help. He, well both of us are still weak and, well, could you get some folks to help us to our room upstairs?"

"Most certainly lady!" Erruno dashed out to find some spare guards.

Tempyst carressed Lucant's face, her eyes lighting up to see him gazing back at her. Then she looked up. "Thank you Nyrondis, thank you for bringing him back to me." She leaned down and kissed Lucant again and layed her cheek against his. "I love you Lucant."

Written by - Ardwen

“Hmmm,” Ardwen began, “as one of Elven blood you’d most likely find a welcome place at the Citadel. You’re mounted, you’ll find the place not too far from here to the southeast – in truth I’ve just departed from there. As for a bard . . .” Ardwen paused and shuffled through his mind for anyone matching the description his kinsman gave, “No, no, I’ve not seen anyone who looks like that. Still, that does not mean your mark is not at Lothiel-Godith, the Citadel has many people in it, and a bard would most likely have found an easy entry what with the feast and all.”

Ardwen paused again and rubbed his chin between his index finger and thumb; his face carried a pensive look, “Her attempted assassination of one of the blood makes her my enemy as well. While I would love to know why she did such a thing, it’s not necessary to tell me. Where I . . . come from the half-breeds are known for their instability and wanton behavior. Coin is of no consequence to me, if I see the one you seek I will make her answer for her crimes. As it stands however, I’m on an urgent journey to Westgale. I don’t suppose you’d have any news from that area?”

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

"I... I love you too, Tempyst. I am so... so sorry for what I did. I beg your forgiveness," he said as he sat up beside her. He wrapped his arms around her in silent desperation.

Erruno came back with Baldwin and William in tow. "C'mon now you two..." Erruno said as he lifted them up. As they walked back to their room, Lucant glanced down at the ground the whole time, only occaisionally looking at Tempyst for a few seconds. The shame, the embarassment was more than he could bear. He only hoped that she would forgive him for the unkindest cut he had given her.

As they the party reached the door of their room, a small army of chefs carrying food met them there. "Here is the food Lady Lithwyn promised. She sends her regards as well." Erruno forced the door open as Baldwin and William escorted Lucant and Tempyst in. The chefs quickly filed in and arrayed the feast on the large ornate table near the balcony. "All right you two, have a good time now. Get some rest. I'm sure Lithwyn'll be furious if you don't."

As the door shut behind Erruno, Lucant was more unsure than he had ever been.

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