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Book Three Pt 1 - The Reckoning

Written by - Tempyst Page 10 Book 3

"A feast you say, that will indeed be a place to look. Thank you good sir, for your information. And I am sure Lord Dekard would thank you for your sentiments concerning this young bard. But please, if you can, leave her alive, for I am sure he would love to see justice done to her himself. "And I know little news from Westgale, except it has become a dangerous and unruly place." He shuffled in one of his pouches, then tossed a token to the elf. "Here. This is a token of mine. Use it as you travel through Shrikefield and your journey will be less bothersome. Tell them Raevyn gave it to you. And if you make it to the capital, it will get you into see Lord Dekard himself." Raevyn then nodded, kicked his horse and headed onto Lothiel-Godith.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst lit the rest of the lamps within the room and as the door shut behind Erruno, she turned and faced Lucant. For a moment, there was an awkward silence as the two of them stood alone in the room. It was Tempyst who broke the silence. "Well, Lucant. Look at all of this food here, we have enough to last us days, if we decided to stay in." She stepped towards him and began to wrap her arms around him, but felt his unsuredness, his uncertainty. She stopped, took his hand within hers and sat down on the edge of the bed, her body still so weary from the healing.

"So much has happened to us Lucant. I know about A'lanthear and what he did. I know you left the grove and I get the impression that you were not going to come back." Tempyst felt a lump catch in her throat at the thought of losing her husband in any way. She squeezed his hand then let it go and looked up at him. "I want you to know Lucant, I believe, I believe that no matter whatever A'lanthear did, he could not create if from nothing. I feel your soul Lucant. I feel your heart. I feel you. I would have known who you were whenever and however I had met you." She stood and walked carefully across the room to the balcony, the vines still growing into the room, covering the cealing and walls, draping down over the bed and furniture.

"You asked for my forgiveness a few moments ago. And you have it. I ask you for yours in return. For a moment, before I went into the Elder Sleep, you were there to comfort me, but I turned away. I am so sorry Lucant. I..." She felt the tears fill her eyes again and she took a deep breath.

"I won't force you, or beg you to stay with me. We were married, bound together, but we never consumated our vows. If you wish to annul our marriage, I will comply. But please know this. There is no one else within this world for me but you." Tempyst bowed her head and felt the tears run down her face.

Written by - Ariana

Through her laughter Mavigan was vaguely aware that Teran was speaking to her. She took several gulps of air and tried to quiet herself enough to listen.

"We all age at our own pace Mavigan. I am still young if you look at my life span as a whole."

Wiping tears from her cheek with a grubby hand, she realized that Teran was entirely serious about his age. Doing a quick calculation in her head she inwardly cringed at the double digit number she came up with. He was 75 years older than she, and for some reason that made her twitchy.

“Geez,” she said in disbelief, “you really are an old geezer.”

Then something else struck her from the information he had given her. “If he is 93 years old and still considered young,” she thought, her eyes going wide with realization, “then that means…..” Her thoughts paused, her mind reeling as her eyes did a quick examination of him looking for anything that looked out of the ordinary. “What are you, Teran?” she wondered as her examination turned up nothing but what appeared to be a human male.

Whether he intentionally ignored her comment or simply hadn’t heard it, Mavigan did not know, but Teran plowed forward carefully instructing her on the ingredients and type of poison he had just taught her how to make. At first, she struggled to recover from the shock of her new discovery, but her natural adaptability allowed her to push the thought aside and concentrate on the task at hand.

She was a little disappointed to discover that the poison she had just learned to create wasn’t lethal. Disappointed, but not surprised. Even in the Thieves Guild in Westgale, only those who had been around for awhile and proven themselves worthy were taught the art of creating the most lethal of poisons. She supposed it made sense that Teran would teach her a formula that was more an aid than a tool for murder. After all, he didn’t think her trustworthy, the thought causing her lip to curl in a slight sneer.

The expression was gone as quickly as it had appeared, however, as she realized that she was still learning advanced techniques that she would have had to toil under the watchful eye of the Guild for several years before gaining. Eager to use the new find, she began pulling out the daggers secreted on her person, one on each wrist and one in each boot. The daggers normally strapped to each thigh had been left behind when Teran had suddenly spirited her to the shadow world. Undaunted, she reached up and fiddled with her hair, removing a tiny dagger from its depths. She then reached for her shirt, hesitating as she realized she had an audience. She decided quickly that if he wasn’t embarrassed, she wouldn’t be either. Tossing him a warning glare, she reached down the front of her shirt and removed a small dagger with a rather uniquely shaped hilt, adding it to the arsenal before her.

Feeling the weight of his gaze made her jumpy, so she snapped a demanding, “What?” at him. “Jonan said a girl always has to be armed.” Sniffing haughtily, she reached for a dagger with one hand while clasping her vial in the other. Her tongue poked out of the corner of her mouth as she set to her task.

About to apply the poison, she paused, casting a look of uncertainty at Teran, looking for some reassurance that she wasn’t about to screw up.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

A short, stocky man briskly strode towards the massive iron gate that led to the underground stockades on the outskirts of Westgale. There were two distinguishing features about the man that any passerby would immediately notice. The first was his mustache, full and meticulously groomed, it was waxed into an uncommon style, its tips shaped into curls that rose upward like rings of smoke. The second noticeable feature was his choice of companions, two fully uniformed policemen, their buttons shined to perfection.

The three made an odd-looking tableau as they approached the gate,and had anyone ventured close enough to observe, they would have noticed small signs of nervousness among the three. One man fidgeted with the buttons on his uniform while another seemed to have a small tremor. This could be excused, however, for anyone would fidget when confronted with the sight of dungeons that had never seen the light of day. "State your name and purpose," stated a helmed guard, his voice aged and rough."Chief Constable Gral Larseno," replied mustache-man. "Here to escort the prisoner Jonan Soval to his execution for crimes of theft, murder, and high treason against King Beridane." The helmed guard quickly yelled, "Enter!" His loud voice served as the signal for the imposing gates to be opened, and the trio marched through without incident.

The dank, musty air caused Larseno to contort his face in revulsion as he and his entourage walked down long, winding corridors which were faintly lit by a few sparsely placed torches. They seemed to walk an eternity, and the dungeon sent him disturbing images of being a tomb. The occasional scrape of bodies moving along the floor, the occasional moan or scream, and the sound of their own boots clopping on the cobblestones indicated to him that the denizens of this tomb were not dead, not yet anyway.

After what seemed hours of travel, the trio finally arrived at a small cell tucked at the end of a hallway. Inside lay a young man who appeared to be in his early 20's, though exact age was difficult to ascertain through the layers of oil and grime that were caked on his skin. He was clothed only in a pair of ratty trousers that appeared to be too big for him. He hung from the ceiling by a pair of manacles and the trousers hung low, pulled by the weight of gravity and the lack of flesh available to hold them up. The man raised up his head at the sound of people outside his cell. His dirty, dust-covered blond hair that had not been trimmed in some time, hung over his blue eyes. Squinting in the gloom, he finally recognized his visitors. "Larseno!" he said eagerly, "It is about damn time you showed up. I was beginning to think you'd let me rot in here!" Larseno responded with a large grin. "What did you expect? It took awhile to track down and tie up the real escorts." Larseno busied himself with the large ring of keys he produced from his belt and soon had both the door and the manacles unlocked, smirking when Jonan hit the floor with a thud. "It is a miracle we made it in here at all!" Larseno added with relish. "These two," he indicated the two assistants who were helping Jonan to his feet, "couldn't stop fidgeting with nerves! I thought for sure we would be busted."

Jonan now stood unsteadily on his feet, supported on either side. "Don't be so hard on 'em, Lar." he said. "Everyone has to start somewhere. "Hmpf," was Larseno's only reply. No further words were spoken as the group made their way up and out of the dungeons, passing the guards without remark, and into a waiting cart. Once out of sight of the guards, they picked up speed and soon disappeared into the gathering night. As soon as it was safe, Larseno settled himself into the cart beside Jonan, who was busy scarfing down food and water that had been hidden among the straw in the bottom of the cart. "Now," Larseno said, his voice filled with purpose, "Do you want to tell me how the hell you ended up in this mess?"

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

As he saw Tempyst begin to cry, Lucant stood up and began to pace about the vine entangled room. With frustration and confusion overcoming him, he began his outburst.

"I.... I just don't know what to do. You say this is meant to be, that the gods themselves have oradined our union. I wish I had that kind of faith... I just can't believe that, though," he paused for a moment as he continued to pace about, "But... still... we have been through a great deal together... there is something there between us. I don't want to end the marriage."

He finally stopped pacing and sat down in a chair at the large table where the feast had been set. He took a deep breath and spoke again with anger and resolution in his voice: "A'lanthear... I want nothing more to do with A'lanthear. I will accept Nyrondis once more, but on my own terms. I will not be used and discarded by anyone."

He then gazed down at the floor. "You... have done nothing to be forgiven for. For all my faults and all my weakness, you were there for me. I... do not deserve you Tempyst."

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst heard his words and felt his emotions. She could sense his anger at A'lanthear, his confusion about his path with Nyrondis, his uncertainty about the two of them, even the loss of their daughter. "Faith, faith is something I have more than enough of Lucant."

She turned and walked slowly to him, then knelt in front of him, taking his hands within her own and looking up into his eyes. "You need not worry about A'lanthear, he will no longer be with us. Nyrondis is as patient as the mountains and will wait as long as you need him too." She laid her head upon his knee. "I will wait until time ends for you Lucant. And you deserve all life has to offer."

Lucant raised a hand, wanting to place it upon her soft hair, but then placed it back down, his uncertainty getting the better of him. “"I…I just can't believe that. I can't believe that I deserve someone like you. You don't need to wait for me...but...” Lucant sighed, at a loss for the right words. “You deserve far better than me."

Tempyst whispered, “I deserve who I love and I love you. Why can't you accept that? If you are so unsure, unsure of how you feel, then why do you wish to stay married to me?”

He felt his heart trying to pound out of his chest. How can I tell her, tell her that I am afraid of losing everything if I give in? He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. You can do it Lucant, you have to open up and tell her. Lucant spoke softly, his voice trembling slightly. “All my life, the only things I knew, the only things I believed, that I could believe in before, were things that I could feel, see…touch. With you, for the first time ever...” Lucant paused, so afraid af her reactions to him, but somewhere found the strength to keep talking. “But now, for the first time, I feel something beyond that, something greater. I...I don't want to lose that feeling. I don’t want to lose you."

Tempyst looked up. “That is what I feel too Lucant. When I see you, when I touch you, when I hear your voice, I feel that and so much more. And when I think that I could have lost you a while ago…” Tempyst took a deep breath, her own voice beginning to choke up. “We have been through so much in our short time, I look forward to more, both good and bad. I can handle anything as long as I am with you.” Lucant felt a tear splash down upon his hand. “I’m yours Lucant. You will never lose me, not by my choice, not by my will. It is okay to be scared, I’m scared. This is new to me as well. Open your heart to me Lucant, feel mine beating with yours. Feel the connection between us, between our souls. Reach out and know, know that what I say is true.”

Lucant felt her warm tears upon his skin. Then he once again closed his eyes and let his soul open up. He gaspsed softly at what he felt. He could feel her, as if she were inside of him, a part of him, an extension of his very being. He could feel the love, the faith she had, how strong and true it was. How much conviction was in her heart for them, for him. It overwhelmed him all that he felt. He could feel her fears, her sadness of the loss of their child, he could truly share the pain he too felt and knew he was not alone. I’m no longer alone. With a choked up voice he cupped her face in his hands. “I, I’m sorry Tempyst. I do have faith...faith in you, faith in us. I, I am so sorry for ever doubting.”

Tempyst felt Lucant open up and felt the link truly and finally complete. She kissed his hands, then looked up into his eyes, showing him her joy, letting him feel through their bond, the joy she now felt. “I love you Lucant. It will be alright now. There is no need to be sorry.” She leaned up and kissed him softly, then pulled back. “We have so much to talk about, to do, to learn, but…” Tempyst blushed deeply. “...but all I want right now is you.”

Lucant felt his heart leap from his chest. He leaned forward, his lips brushing hers, and whispered, “All I want is you.” He then kissed Tempyst deeply, wrapping his arms around her tightly. In one flowing movement, he picked her up and carried her to the bed, feeling the pain in their hearts begin to heal.

Written by - Teran

The assassin nodded his aproval at her concealed weapons, but something about his expression let her know she had one obstacle to overcome.

"Jonan was a wise man to teach you that, however what good are those weapons if you have to expose yourself to reach them?" Teran let the double meaning of "expose" hang in the air for a moment "Those would work against a distracted enemy but as the Queen you may learn that assassins are not easy to distract and you may find a blade piercing your heart even as you reach for the one in your hair."

Teran nodded to Mavigan to indicate she was doing it correctly even as he gave her his somewhat cryptic warning.

"Don't apply very much, you need hardly at all." he said neutrally, changing the subject with no thought to finesse. "Spread it over the entire blade."

When Mavigan does apply the poison she would find that it spreads very easily, she would also find that the poison dries very quickly.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen deftly snatched the coin in midair and nodded in appreciation to the Elf. He had no idea who Lord Dekard was, but his status as lord meant he had power, power and fame that might assist Ardwen in finishing his journey to Westgale. After the rider had sped off into the night Ardwen muttered his name once, as if he had a strange rock in his hand and was turning it over and over to inspect its every facet. “Raevyn.” He muttered once more before setting off into the night.

After a few steps he remembered to place the coin in the leather pouch that the compass and map rested in. Ardwen tried to mentally prepare the rest of the journey in his mind, mentally acting out various scenarios as if he could stumble upon some fundamental formula that only required a few basic inputs on his part to reduce his quest to a guaranteed success. But the variables were too many and too complex, complication upon complication crowded Ardwen’s mind as he vainly contemplated his choices. He had no idea how far he was from Westgale, or even if he had departed the lands belonging to the Citadel yet. He had no food or water, and the only coin he had was one given to him as a mark to see a noble.

Still, there was a sense of old familiarity about the whole predicament. There was a sense of solitary wandering and lone, furtive journeys. It reminded him of his days after the fall of Kierhaven, a soul who had no place in the world, a relic that had somehow managed to survive to a time it was not meant to behold. “Perhaps I’m back in that same position now. I’ve not felt like I belong here since I arrived. No purpose but reopening old wounds, no validation for the man I am now.”

His mind rushed over what he’d done, seen, and heard recently. Isuiln’s jesting before the assault on the Orcs, Mavigan thought he was a moron, Trinni thought he was a monster, Tempyst . . . just fainted. Ithramir had shown him respect, had given him that much needed order that had ruled his life for the past few years. Ardwen just shook his head sadly, pondering upon how much of a waste it was for Ithramir to have been born here; he would have made a fine battle-brother in Avari. Suddenly a shrill tug of wind reminded Ardwen that it was still chilly and raining, so the warrior pulled his cloak back around him again, wrapping his form in its comforting darkness.

He still had no clue on how he was to save Ariana.

Written by - Ariana

She wasn’t sure she liked this new existence. There was more discomfort, more pain, more contact associated with her new bounded life. It was too bright, too hard, and too busy, much different from what she was used to. Still, that was Then, and this is Now, and for the Void, it is only the Now that matters.

Whereas before, she had the occasional dancing light or caressing wind or faint sound to surprise and delight and distract her from the eternal night, now she was confronted by hard surfaces, faint ambient light, constant sound, and flurries of agony. She thought she could become accustomed to the light and sound, but the times when she was held fast while things were forced inside her was certainly an activity she could do without.

Sometimes the things she was forced to consume came back out and sometimes they stayed inside her. At one point, she had thought she had heard something that sounded like a word – a word she thought she should know, but for some reason could not remember.

It was after just such a session of being forced to take things inside of her that the light appeared. It pushed itself between the bars on the door and into the cell. At first, she did not notice it, but the light was undaunted. It weaved and danced in front of her eyes until her unblinking gaze focused on it.

When she saw it, something inside her shifted, much like a dislocated joint trying to reset itself into its proper place. The pain was acute and caused her to hunch over on herself, closing her eyes to shut out the source of her pain. It was trying to open doors that were better left closed, and she unconsciously willed it to stop. As she panted heavily, the pain slowly subsided, and she eventually opened her eyes and uncurled her form.

The light was still there, hovering around her head. This time when she looked at it, there was no pain. She willed it to dance, and it complied, bobbing and weaving and twirling around the dingy cell. As she watched, some unknown and unnamed emotion welled up within her. She felt lighter, almost weightless, and unbidden a small smile appeared on her face.

Her light was an omen, she decided. Darkness had not forsaken her. This was a sign that she would soon go home.

Written by - Archeantus

Whisking across great distances, through the vast deserts, forests, over large mountainous regions, over seas, he looked. It was a very difficult, tedious process, much like a panhandler searches for a spec of gold among large amounts of dirt and rock. It took incredible mental patience. The mental waves he sought had to be identified out of millions of others. It was an immense chain of elimination.

But soon he struck gold, which caused his lips to form a smile.

“Pharsalus.” He whispered coming out of his trance, ending his search for the moment.

He was suddenly exhausted and nearly fainted. Grasping the wet stone battlement in front of him hurriedly, he braced himself. When the fuzziness cleared, he looked back and to both sides of him to make sure he was alone. The rain made sure of that. And so he sat down, resting his walking stick against the battlements, and steeled himself once more. Focusing his mental energies after a brief rest, he lowered his head once more and projected a thought to his old friend, a thought that awoke a long dormant side of the old warlock-- his sense of humor.

“Pharsalus of the Southern Spine, “He began in as deep a voice as he could muster, “It is I, Thurin, your God. I see you have been hiding from me. By my word, you must, where’ ere you may be, begin digging a hole as large as your apparent faith in me consists of…”

*****

Angellus had found her, much to its own delight, which it displayed in highly erratic dancing swirls and loop-d-loops. Its master would be highly pleased. It then floated in, checking to make sure, and hovered there just above her nose, then balanced just in front of her eyes. Those clear eyes seemed muddled and confused, but they held the familiar softness so prevalent in her demeanor. It was unmistakable. It was her.

She smiled, but it was a strange smile.

The small fiery ember then rose in the air above her and began to whisk about the cell as if examining every little detail. When it was finished, it then went back and slowly suspended itself in front of those luminous eyes again. It was a small moment, perhaps a few seconds, but the little ember seemed to brighten, illuminating the darkness of the dim cell. It then suddenly, little by little, left her presence to report its findings, leaving the darkness to again set in.

Written by - Ariana

"Those would work against a distracted enemy but as the Queen you may learn that assassins are not easy to distract and you may find a blade piercing your heart even as you reach for the one in your hair."

Mavigan gave an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “I Know that,” she said, her tone indicating her disdain for his explanation of something so obvious. “But,” she drawled, her face suddenly guarded, “assassins aren’t the only danger for a girl on the streets.”

She said nothing else, sure he was intelligent enough to catch her meaning, her disgust at having to explain something so obvious to him apparent. She busied herself with applying the poison to her weapons, forestalling any further probing.

She noticed that Teran had not told her a fib. The concoction did indeed spread easily and dried quickly. It wasn’t long before all her weapons had been similarly treated and returned to their rightful places on her person.

Clearly wanting to veer the conversation to somewhere other than where she was afraid it would go, she desperately searched for something to say, something that would put them back on familiar ground.

“You know, if your undead groupie eats either my horse or my friend while we're gone, I’m gonna have to kill her.”

Written by - Agmund

He stood upon a large hill, leaning heavily upon a smooth slender staff, his eyes scanning the horizon before him. “The Plains of Falerion,” he whispered to himself, and they lay before him as far as he could see. Like one great field of the greenest green, only a rock here, or a small tree or bush there breaking the terrain. A long sigh escaped his frail lungs as his eyes fell from the scenery ahead to the dead horse that lay beside him.

“How have you come to be here?” he thought aloud. He could recall no reason to be upon the hill that he stood upon, and worse he could not remember where he was going, or for what purpose. Slowly he sank down to his knees, and then with a dull thud he fell upon his back. Long gray strands of hair splayed outwards like translucent tendrils of white upon the grass of the hill. Eyelids appearing to be made of obsidian shut upon their own accord, his eyes no longer caring to view the sky or the heavens, or the leaves above. Scenes of the past played upon his mind, dancing one by one, giving him a strange comfort as his breathing began to slow.

A little red haired girl playing in a large stone courtyard, “Watch me! Watch me!” she shouted at him with jubilant glee. A large group of men lay dying upon a field of battle, but three stood above him, looking down upon him, one reaching down as he knelt, his hand slipping behind the priests head as he offered him water. The warriors face was full of sadness, and yet he smiled. Each slowly faded away only to reveal another. As they glided before him, as if to say hello, or remember me, or farewell old friend, his heart came to a gentle stop and a cool breeze washed over the hill.

Written by - Teran

Teran shrugged at her comment, unconcerned with her horse or friend. Teran had spent a lot of time nurturing Sabbatine however, and he did not wish to see that time go to waste, nor did he wish to see her hurt. He trusted that Sabbatine would keep her hunger under control while they were gone.

"Do you really believe you could defeat her?" Teran asked simply.

He stood up and dusted himself off.

"How would you kill her? Would you stab her through the heart? Cut her throat? You might find that some creatures are not so easily slain. If we did rejoin and find that your horse and friend had been nothing more than a meal to her would you really want to fight her without knowing how to kill her?"

Written by - Ariana

Even as Teran stood up, Mavigan laid back on the ground and made herself comfortable. Feet crossed at the ankle, hands propped beneath her head, she gazed at the sky and grinned.

"I'm not a complete idiot, you know," she said. "They did make me take classes on this sort of stuff once upon a time. I paid attention some of the time."

She squirmed a bit on the ground, managing to dislodge a stray twig that had been digging into her back. "Let's see," she said, trying to recall what she could from those classes long ago. "How to kill supernatural ickies 101."

She paused for a minute to marshall her thoughts. "I think to kill a zombie you have to chop off its head, put a stake through its heart, and fill the mouth with stinkweed." Her eyes clouded with uncertainty, "Or is it cut out the heart, burn it, and scatter the ashes? Or maybe it was douse it in holy water and then do the chicken dance?"

One hand popped out from under her head and waved in air, as if to erase all the previous answers. "It doesn't really matter though," she added. "At least, not according to what folks at the Citadel would have me believe."

Mavigan took Teran's silence as an indication to continue.

"I used to be convinced that one should only enter into a fight if one had all the proper information beforehand. I used to believe that if Death caught you, it was your own damn fault for not seeing it coming in the first place," she said, warming to her theme.

"But then, all THIS happened, and I ended up where I am. And I have people telling me that when it comes to fighting, honor is the most important thing. Even as we speak, people are marching into battles, some doing so in my name, which, I have to tell you, is kinda creepy. Many of them won't come back, and they know this, yet they go anyway content in the knowledge that their death will be considered honorable because they fought for what they believed in."

Mavigan sighed and gazed up at the sky. "I don't understand it, but if they are right, then if I fought your undead friend because she killed my friend, then whether I am successful or not, whether I live or not doesn't matter. It will still be an honorable act because I went to avenge them, and to some, that is all that matters."

Written by - Teran

"Sabbatine does not have a heart, or any other spot on her body that is more vulnerable than any other part. You could cut out her eyes and leave a blade embedded in her skull and she would not slow down until you were dead at her feet... and when she fed on your body your flesh and blood would heal her wounds. Would you like to hear what would happen to your soul?" Teran spoke in a way that left Mavigan wondering if everything he said was true.

"She is a puppet for a greater being just as you are."

The assassin began stretch out as though he were preparing to strain himself physically.

"If merely avenging someone is the honorable thing to do, then why would you not wait until circumstances favored you to attack Sabbatine? Would your horse, or friend want you to die for their memory? I think they would prefer that you destroy their murderer rather than making yourself another victim. You know them better than I... maybe they do wish you dead." He grinned "but with friends like that, do you need enemies?"

"You sound like you have already given up. Perhaps you have gotten tired of thinking for yourself, we all have at one time or another. I'm sure you will make a fine ruler if you wish to do things for the sake of honor, even if they are stupid things. I think you have the potential to be more than one of his puppets. I think you have the potential to be an intelligent decisive leader who will not sacrifice her people for the sake of being honorable when it is not practical." he snickered.

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