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Book Three Pt 2 - The Reckoning

Written by - Archeantus Page 32 Book 3

"Arch, it's time to go! Let's join the others on the ground!"

Vylia jumped.

It was then he heard Turin within his mind. It was time to leave, which meant only one thing. They had her. There were questions, but Turin was adamant.

Time to go indeed, he said to himself.

Archeantus could hear the rest of the guards rushing toward him instead, upon having the elf jump to her apparent death.

The sequence was only a matter of seconds, but the directive was clear, getting to the docks was all that mattered.

The warlock lowered his head, and vanished in a soft glimmer of light, the moment the guards were upon him. Vylia never made it to the ground.

They both found themselves upon the wooden docks by the sea, multiple vessels towered over them, gently rocking in the tide near the shore. It was quite a transition from chaos to calm.

Immediately addressing the confusion Vylia would have, he said “They will be here in moments, Ardwen will have Ariana, and the others should be shortly following them. We need to cover their path as best we can.”

Not wasting any time, he then probed the consciousness of those still there, gathering what was happening.

Pharsalus had been protecting the girl Ariel, and how was carrying her as quick as his short legs could carry him toward the Docks.

The elf Kaya and her companion, still had more to do there, but knew the urgency.

Alaric, a man the warlock knew as a descendant of Aethelwulf was embroiled in combat with the strange sudden beasts, helping his companions, but once the way was clear, he rushed toward the exit, and ran alongside Pharsalus across to the southern exit.

When the warlock came back to Turin, he realized the Priest of Battle still remained alone upon the wooden platform that Ariana had been planned to be executed on. Turin was completely surrounded.

Raising an eyebrow in worry, but knowing Turin’s sheer fortitude, he could not guess Turin’s intentions. Still, the warlock would not trade Turin for Ariana, not if he had anything he could do about it.

“Angelus, Turin. Protect him.”

Finally after the few moments of evaluating the situation, he again turned to Vylia. “Be ready, I’ll help get them here” and without another word, the warlock took to the air heading to the southern exit.

****

Jasmine then noticed out of the corner of her eye, Teran gently carrying Mavigan who was now unconscious, across the room toward the exit on the other side. He placed her down on the ground out of the blood on the cold stone and appeared to be examining her.

Jasmine could feel the cold wind coming from the exit. She hadn’t noticed it until now.

Then something strange happened.

She heard a voice.

“…Heal…her…heal them both…”

It was gone as soon as it came. Looking quickly about her, Jasmine grew immediately fearful. She did not want to hear anything of the sort. It was not her. She did not possess any such power. She tried to refuse the very existence of what she had just heard. But the thought had taken its hold and the idea swept across her mind like wildfire.

Who had spoken? Why did it speak to her?

Then another painful spasm suddenly took hold. The curse continued to spread. Jasmine winced in terrible pain; it caused her to keel over, and she nearly lost consciousness. But suddenly the pain was gone, and in her refocusing view was only Teran huddled over Mavigan.

Moments passed.

Teran felt a trembling hand on his shoulder.

“I..can help.”

Kneeling, she took her hand, still full of life, and rested it on the young woman’s belly. She looked at Teran, a look of confusion and budding faith, that seemed to say she wasn’t exactly sure she could do a thing, and then returned her gaze back to Mavigan. She then closed her eyes and a soft blue light illuminated the darkness near the exit and then was gone.

She was startled at what had happened, almost disappointed, but she did not pause, she then rested her hand on Teran’s arm, and again the blue light appeared and left.

Suddenly rising, she said “Don’t you dare tell her.” and walked back into the blood toward Sabbatine.

Written by - Rikshanthas

Jak's home and shop looked exactly as it had in Lienad's dream, down to the scorch marks. Only, they were not harried fugitives, and there was a third with them - the last person in the world he had expected to meet. Lienad wondered at this twist of fortune, and not for the first time felt like a pawn on some great game board. He glanced toward the heavens with no small amount of irritation before dismounting. Nightwind had been healed of her near-fatal wound, but the mare was still recovering her strength - she stumbled as Ankhara also dismounted.

"Place looks deserted," the half-elf said as they circled around the back of the small building. "That's the point," replied a chuckling voice from behind them, causing them both to whirl around to face the speaker. "I see you haven't lost your touch, Jak," Lienad said by way of greeting, as the other stepped out from behind the small shed off to one side of the shop. "Well I'll be a son of an orc. Lienad?" Jak replied with a surprised grin. "What's it been, five years? Six? What brings ye back here after all this time?" As he spoke he motioned them toward the shed, which offered temporary stabling for the horses.

"I wish it were a social call," Lienad said grimly, easing the still-unconscious Sharanya out of her saddle, "but we need your help. My friend here needs a place to hide and rest while I deal with something in the main square." Her hood fell back, and Jak caught his breath, finally exhaling loudly. "$%#*in' A, mate ... ye've got a Forest Elf in the middle o' Westgale. What in the nine 'ells is wrong wit'cha Lienad? Beridane's cronies'll kill 'er, and me, if they find 'er 'ere. This is some hello, mate," he said, shaking his head. Then he shrugged. "Eh, I'll do it. Not like the bastard knows I'm 'ere anyways. Anything t' piss 'im off is fine in my log. Now, this have somethin' t' do with that execution ol' Smackywack's makin' such a spectacle of?" He put his hands on his hips and spit to one side. "Heard it was a priestess o' the All-Father too, may they all rot fer it. But a guy like me ain't much of a fighter, so what can ye do?"

"Priestess of the All-Father?" Lienad echoed. Maybe that was the reason ... "Well I doubt I can stop an execution. But I do need to get to the square. All I can ask is, when she wakes up," he gestured toward Shara, who now rested on Jak's own bed, "she's going to want to come after me. Don't let her. She's not exactly going to be in prime fighting shape the moment she wakes up, and I don't want to be worrying about her. If I'm not back for her in an hour, get her out of the city any way you can." Jak nodded. "Aye, that'd be the smart thing. Good luck to ye, lad. Stick 'im one fer me. An' tell ye what, if'n ye do make it out o' the lion's den, don't come back here. Get to the dock, find the Pride o' Peracus - it's the one wit' a blindfolded siren fer a prow. I know the cap'n; that's where we'll be." With a nod of acknowledgement, Lienad was off at a ground-eating pace, Ankhara matching him step for step. "In for a copper, in for a gold," she said in explanation, shrugging.

They arrived at the square a few minutes later to face a scene of total chaos. The people were rebelling against Beridane's militia; among the combatants were several armed and armored warriors, easily distinguished from the ragtag civilian rioters. On the raised, brush-covered platform Lienad guessed had been intended for the execution, he saw the black-armored elf he'd fought with at Minas Aure standing guard over a huddled form, presumably the ill-wished priestess. Standing with them was a tall man in armor bearing the seal of the All-Father; Lienad immediately recognized the crusader as the man from his dream, or vision if it had been such. This priestess was obviously important. "Well, Beridane, if you're still watching, feast your eyes," Lienad said softly, whipping back his cloak and drawing his weapons. The Dragonblade made a ring as it was unsheathed that seemed to echo far out of proportion, penetrating the sounds of the riot enough that he almost thought it could have been heard by everyone in the square. "Pick your targets and clear a path," he said to his long-lost sister as twin kamas seemed to appear in her hands, then he charged the nearest guard between him and the mysteriously-familiar crusader, blades high.

He heard a shout come from the direction of the palace balcony, but the words were muffled by the familiar blood rush that accompanied battle. The ancient blade drank deeply in the ensuing flurry, yet it seldom seemed to strike a fatal blow. He swung with perfect aim at one guard's neck, and he could've sworn the weapon rotated in his hand so the flat of the blade caught the side of the guard's unarmored head, knocking him cold. Another strike, aimed at the heart of a leather-clad soldier, seemed to kick upward and strike him in the shoulder, causing him to drop his weapon. Yet a third guard was cleanly decapitated, and another run through with the unerring accuracy he had come to expect from Astalder. By the time he reached the platform he was thoroughly puzzled by the weapon's behavior. He saluted the crusader who now stood alone on the platform, raising the shining crossguard to his lips - funny how blood never seemed to stain the blade.

"Quite the rescue, huh?" he said with a quirk of his eyebrows. "If you're planning on making a run for it, I know a ship at the docks that'll get us out." He whirled in time to block a strike that had been made at his back, then kicked the unbalanced guard solidly in the side, sending him off the platform.

Written by - Ardwen

"For the All-Father and Saint Lorne!” Turin’s voice rang out, “Stand down or be put to the sword!"

Ardwen’s spirit soared when Turin joined him on the platform. Here he was fighting alongside the Priest of Battle, just as it had been in days long ago swept away by the stream of time. Turin glanced down at the two bodies Ardwen had stacked in a desperate attempt to make an ad hoc bulwark, the Priest of Battle spoke, “No need for a wall of the dead, just get going, head to the docks. Take the southern exit from this place. You should have a downhill fight, find the first ship you can commandeer and put her aboard. Oh, and don't come back, I'll hold them as long as I can. Now go!"

Ardwen visibly flinched. He felt as if he had been slapped in the face. Turin was telling him to leave? He did not wish him to return? The elf was momentarily bewildered; rapid thoughts sailed through his head as he wondered what Turin was thinking. Was not he the logical choice to keep around? Turin spared a glance at the elven warrior and Ardwen had to resist the urge to weep. He wondered if he was destined to lose Turin again, even now he could scarcely stand to look upon his face, for the very sight of him made fresh the scarred wound of losing him the first time.

Finally, Ardwen moved to comply with Turin’s order. Before he turned to support Ariana and make good their escape he had to say something, anything. Ardwen opened his mouth to speak, his voice was choked and choppy, “If you die,” Ardwen began giving voice to his fear immediately, “I die.” Ardwen finished bluntly. He had no other way of saying what he felt, and the statement was true enough.

Ardwen turned to face Ariana. Earlier he had been too busy trying to secure his defensive position to take stock of Ariana’s wellbeing. But now, up close and undeniable, Ardwen finally saw the horror that had been wrought upon her. Here, at his feet, the spiritual light of the Hands was curled into a defenseless ball covered in hay. “Abbess?” Ardwen questioned but received no answer. “Abbess?” He said again, worry and fear coursing through his voice. He knelt down next to Ariana, and held out both his mailed hands.

“What is this?” Ardwen said, swallowing a lump in his throat, “What trick of fate or slight of fortune is this?” He picked Ariana up, gently, using both his arms to cradle her emaciated frame. Ardwen was strong, a lifetime of war could hardly have left him otherwise, but to him it seemed as if the merest breeze could have carried Ariana. Ardwen briefly removed one hand and flung his black cloak protectively around the Abbess. He looked at Turin, his commander, who stood alone now on the platform, as defiant and as shinning as summer sun.

Ardwen let out a grunt mixed from frustration and divided loyalties. He was carrying the Abbess, more precious than his life, he was running from combat and leaving behind a man that deserved to live where he deserved to die. Ardwen placed his left foot forward. To the elf it seemed to travel in slow motion, the leg extending, the foot pressing down on the hard stone beneath. It was the most difficult step Ardwen had ever taken in his life.

With that, everything about the warrior seemed to hasten, the guards pressed in, Ardwen’s pace turned into a barreling charge with his armored frame acting as a shield of flesh and metal to Ariana. Turin had succeeded in distracting most of the guards, but not all of them. Blows rained down upon Ardwen, who had neither the time nor means to defend himself, all he could do was twist and turn his torso to make sure they hit him instead of the unarmored Abbess. Sword and spear scraped off hardened plate, and still the warrior pressed on. He felt a sharp pain in the back of his right shoulder and still he ran. A half-seen spear grazed his right cheek and sent red blood bubbling down his face, a thin rigid blade found a gap in the armor near his thigh, and Ardwen could feel fire and blood shoot through his right leg.

But none were enough to stop him. Devotion and rage in equal part lent him strength, and the beserker plate numbed pain and fear alike. Ardwen was almost out of the square, almost to the southern exit. He knew Turin was still behind him – alone. Ardwen’s lips moved in a hoarse prayer, the words seemed to form themselves of their own volition, and before he even knew he had spoke them Ardwen had shouted, “For the All-Father and Saint Lorne!” And with that he passed through the southern gate.

Written by - Vylia

“Be ready, I’ll help get them here” and without another word, the warlock took to the air heading to the southern exit.

"Archeantus, don't you go flying off to help them and leave me here!" But he was well out of earshot before Vylia could finish her sentence. "Damn kid... how dare he leave me here when everyone else was still in trouble. I can still fight, even if I am..." Vylia had started to take a step forward, but never finished it. As soon as her foot left the ground the last of her energy left her and she fell forward, collapsing onto the dock. Her swords clattered uselessly to either side, hair fanned around her head, as her wounds slowly continued to bleed the life from her body.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst sighed, after making all the plans to leave and head north to find her father, both she and Lucant were told by Dalomir that the elder druid of the citadel grove, Ceredan, wanted to see them.

"It is probably nothing Tempyst, don't worry."

"I know Lucant, we are but servants of Nyrondis, and it is his will we must fulfill."

Lucant chuckled and hugged his wife tightly. "How true that is, especially now. Say, I bet it is just some message he wants delivered as we head north, or something along that line."

Tempyst smiled and kissed Lucant. "I would imagine you are correct. ANd I do need to stop worrying so, we are together now, and together we will face the future."

Lucant returned the sweet kiss of his wife. "Now, let's go see Ceredan, the sooner we know what is going on, the sooner we can be on our way north."

Written by - Ariana

Mavigan slowly awakened from slumber when she felt a very cold breeze blowing across parts of her skin. Her eyes cracked open slightly to see Teran bending over her. As her senses slowly returned to her she became aware of other things – the look in his eyes she wasn’t sure wanted to identify, the warmth of one arm wrapped around her shoulders, the slight pressure of a hand on her stomach, the prickling of goosebumps rising along her bare…

Mavigan shot up out Teran’s embrace. Had it not been for his quick reflexes, she would likely have brained herself on his thick and exceedingly hard head. “Hands where I can see them!” she shrieked as she desperately tried to pull her shirt down. The cloth was soaked with blood, as was the rest of her, and tended to stick instead of glide down her skin.

As she fought with the uncooperative fabric her hand brushed the place where she had had a gaping wound. There was nothing, no wound, no scar, no evidence she had ever been injured. Mavigan eyed Teran with more than a little suspicion. She knew only one thing that could provide that degree of healing, and she had thought Teran had little to do with the spiritual arts.

Filing the inconsistency for later investigation, she reached for her armor and quickly put it back on, nearly gagging with each and every squelch against her body. “I feel gross,” she said to Teran, who was looking at her from his crouched position with more than a little amusement. “You sure do pick the worst places to take a girl on a date!” she said, rising to her feet, finally taking a look at the dark tunnel that lay before them. “That where we headed?” she asked him, pointing at the cavernous darkness.

Seeing him nod, she sighed. “OK, but you better hope there is a pool or something up ahead so I can wash this gunk off me! ‘Cause if there isn’t, I’m going to be very very cranky.” Spotting Keeryn still standing in the middle of the pool, she called, “Keeryn, let’s go! The sooner we do whatever the hell we are supposed to do, the sooner we get a bath!”

Written by - Ariana

She lay still as death, terrified that slightest movement would cause her salvation to disappear. Soon, the darkness she had longed for was brushing against her, and she unconsciously held her breath waiting for it to completely engulf her as it had done before. But it appeared that it was not willing to move any closer than beside her.

She felt touches, but unlike those she had become accustomed to in her existence in a hard, bounded universe, these were gentle. They cradled and carried, protected and cherished, and she found herself confused. Had she been mistaken? Was this not her salvation? Yet a dark aura was there, pulsing against her. She could feel it, knew it for what it was.

Confused, and still seeking the complete joining she had expected, a small noise of protestation arose from her throat, and she shifted, attempting to burrow deeper into the dark.

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn was still standing over the beast in the middle of the pool, poking at it several times to make sure it was really dead. She had seen that Mavigan was hurt, but the others had attended to her quickly, and she had no skill in the healing arts. As much as she disliked them, they had proven trustworthy to this point, even the abomination Sabbatine. She slowly walked the room, glancing at the ceiling every now and again to see if anything else might come dropping on top of them.

Mostly she was concerned with the sounds she heard on the other side of the door they had entered through. She was unable to tell if they were friend or foe, but there was definately a good deal of shuffling going on over there. She was about to mention it when, then realized if they were a threat they'd have burst in by now. Then she heard Mavigan calling to her, "Keeryn, let’s go! The sooner we do whatever the hell we are supposed to do, the sooner we get a bath!” Nodding in her direction, Keeryn walked over to the only other exit in the room, listening intently for anything on the opposite side of the door. Other than the drip of blood in the room they were in she heard nothing, and signalled to the others that it was clear, waiting for them to come to her. As they walked over she stared Teran in the eyes, "Well, oh great leader... where ARE we heading anyway?" The sarcasm in her voice was obvious to anyone with a brain in their head.

Written by - Ardwen

“Abbess!” Ardwen hissed between clenched teeth, “please stop squirming!” Ardwen’s feet continued to beat a frantic pace as he tried to make for the docks. Despite wearing plate armor he had quickly outpaced the pursuing guards, and Ardwen mentally thanked the several scouts he had trained with during his time on Aerynth for their teachings in regulating breathing and pace while running. Ariana, however, was a different matter entirely. Ardwen had never imagined, even in his darkest nightmares, that Ariana would ever have to rely on him. The Abbess of the Hands had always seemed like a figure beyond weakness to him, for she had stood at the fore of the guild, and every day she had decided on matters that would shape the very course of history on his world.

And now? Now Ariana seemed incapable not only of speaking but understanding the spoken word as well. She had no vast army of the faithful to protect her, even Turin, Vylia, and the other returned Hands were beyond helping now. Ardwen thought how ironic it was that it was now up to him to do that which he could least imagine, to rescue the person who had helped rescue him. “I’m getting distracted,” Ardwen growled to himself, “keep fo-damnit!” Ardwen’s keen vision had swept ahead to the waiting structure of docks jutting out into the harbor, and he saw a figure collapsed on one of the wooden piers.

The warrior pressed himself for more speed, and his long strides quickly ate the distance. As Ardwen was finally able to slow down, he knelt next to the form and noticed it was indeed Vylia. She was bleeding from multiple wounds, her hair fanned around her face, and the wooden beams beneath her were slick with blood. Ardwen cursed aloud, he had no skill in the healing arts; he could do nothing to staunch Vylia’s wounds. Ardwen placed Ariana down on the dock next to Vylia, she clutched at him as he released her and unfastened his cloak to array over her. She cried out as he rose to survey the area, and Ardwen had to fight the urge to simply snap and run back into the city and start swinging his blades.

“Never thought it’d end like this.” Ardwen said as he noticed guards filing out of the nearby streets and alleys. He unsheathed his two blades and positioned himself ahead of Ariana and Vylia, he spoke as he did so, “All my life, all I’ve ever done is swing my swords. The Elves of Aerynth didn’t care why you fought, just that you fought for them. A weapon doesn’t need to be understood, a weapon doesn’t need to think about why it’s doing what it’s doing, it just needs to kill what it’s pointed at.”

The guards were drawing closer now, several were making motions, in a vain attempt to impose order on their ranks. “I guess what I’m trying to say,” Ardwen began again, “is that I had friends before I joined the Hands, sure. I cared for some of them – a very few - like brothers. But, I was lost. We were all lost. None of us cast any light, none of us tried to lead the other out of the darkness of our own rot, we didn’t know the way; we didn’t know if we could even if we knew. But you, you were always so radiant, like nothing I had ever seen. But, I’m not sure if I should thank you.”

Ardwen rushed forward, meeting the first of the guards on the pier. The man had a shield and shortsword, Ardwen whirled one blade in low, right to left, and struck at the delicate knee-joint in his armor. The man’s mouth opened in pain as he hobbled a step back, Ardwen did not give him a chance to go further, he grabbed his shield and kicked the leg he had cut, the man stumbled, and Ardwen threw him into the dark water at the edge of the pier. “Because,” Ardwen finished finally, “it’s become so difficult to swing my blades. Is it always this hard when you’re protecting another? Did my swords always feel this heavy?”

Another guard came in, this one swinging a greatsword, and Ardwen had to sidestep and parry to direct the momentum. He locked the large sword with one of his blades and brought the other in low, sweeping upward with the cutting edge facing the sky, the human warrior was soon without a right forearm. Ardwen did not know how long he could hold out. The berserker armor kept him numb, and he had yet to unleash its full potential, but that frightened him, how could he protect Ariana and Vylia if he let the armor consume him? There was also the pressing concern that eventually the guards would get enough archers to coat the pier with arrows. Armored as he was, Ardwen might live, but the others . . .

Ardwen crushed the thoughts; they were distractions. A warrior must have one mind in battle. He swung his swords, it was all he could do, and all he wanted to do.

Written by - Turin Wallace

King Gongrane had kept his watchful eye on the people of Smarsh for a long time. In this unforgiven place, with Orcs to the west and the hill country to the east, there was no time to let one’s guard down. Being one of the very few settlements to survive in this place was a source of pride to him.

What disturbed him were the rumors of a dark army sweeping down from the mountainous east. Already word had spread about how they sweep over the land, smashing all resistance before them.

Gathering his most trusted advisors, Gongrane calls forth one of his emissaries and gives him a mission,

“Olan, ride out to find this army and it’s leader. Find out what purpose it has and see what their plans are regarding our country.”

With that, the King orders more drills and extra watches along Smarsh’s borders. Gongrane isn’t above fighting his own people is necessary to keep his kingdom intact, but Smarsh hasn’t survived this long through brute force alone. Cunning, guile, and deception have always worked well here. Perhaps they will serve in this situation too, only time will tell.

****

Turin stood alone in the courtyard. He could hear the yells of a few to go after his friends as they made their escape, for him, there wasn’t much chance of making one. Standing on the sacrificial platform, he could only inwardly chuckle at the irony. “Never been one for theatrics,” he thought.

Looking to the encircling guards, their faces illuminated by a few torches and the burning guard house, it gave them a devilish glow. Speaking up, he says,

“Well, lads, it’d be a shame for all of you to get worked up for nothing, so let’s have at it!”

He couldn’t even finish his sentence before the guards jumped onto and around the platform. With his great sword firmly in hand, Turin delivered punishing blow after punishing blow. The dreadful sound of steel cutting air, like a melody of death, gave music to the fight that was waging.

“So long as they keep charging me, the archers dare not shoot in this low-light. But, by the All-Father, I know not how much longer I can hold out,” Turin thought.

Trying to keep from being overwhelmed, he moved his back to the wall, keeping the guards from completely surrounding him. He could only wonder how his friends fared at this point, did they get Ariana out? Have they been retaken?

Just then, a cry rang out,

“All guards, man the ballistae and trebuchet towers along the port walls! All available naval personnel, to their ships! The harbor is under attack!”

With that, a large number of guards dispersed, making their way to the ships and walls. During his time fighting, he had not noticed the commotion coming from the docks. “Must be a pirate raid, or something else, not that it matters much. Now, at least, we’ll all have a better chance!” Turin thought. With some hope, he redoubled his efforts to fight his way clear of the mob.

It was not to be that easy, however. There were still a good number of guards blocking him from the gates. He was quickly becoming tired while they were still fresh, waiting for their chance at him. It was then he heard someone say,

"Quite the rescue, huh? If you're planning on making a run for it, I know a ship at the docks that'll get us out."

Meeting the gaze of the warrior in front of him, he was in no mood to ask questions. Replying, Turin says,

“The problem, friend, is making it to the docks in the first place. Seems we still have a few dozen guards who want to bar our way, but I’d gladly welcome the help.”

As both continued to fight, giving Turin a welcome reprieve from handling these guards all alone, he could sense a familiar presence among those in the courtyard. Someone he knew all too well. Could it be she was here? Would she come to his aide? He would know soon enough.

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya and DOrve rushed roward stirking out at any who got in their way to let them escape with Ardwen and the others. Then Ardwen stopped; once otheir companions was on the docks hurt. "Dorve can you do something for her!" Dorve grumbled something about the conditions, but knelt down beside the fallen archer and the woman Ardwen had carried out of the square. Ardwen was busy cutting down the guards that had come from the docks, but Kaya could hear footsteps behind them. She stood, A'lanthear in hand and with the help of others in their group began to fight off the guards that had gathered behind them. Kaya could feel the energy Dorve was using and hoped it would be enough and in time to keep Vylia alive. Dorve put he staff down and her hand upon the archer. She has lost a lot of blood, but there is still fight in her, I can feel it. A deep green energy wafted from her hands and engulfed the fallen elf. Dorve murmured under her breath a healing incantation and concentrated.

Kaya swung A'lanthear with skill and precision, taking down those that charged her. But she could feel her injuries taking their tole on her. It was then she heard the commotion from behind her; the harbor was being attacked. I pray Nyrondis, that they are on our side, I don't know how much longer I can fight.

You will fight as long as you are needed Kaya, I am here with you and will giver you the energy. Kaya smiled, hearing the words of her god and feeling his divine power fill her once more. Then the guards that she was fighting broke away, running and heading to wards their posts.

Seeing a break Kaya turned around and yelled at Ardwen. "We need to go! they are heading to their posts Ardwen. Pick up your queen and lets go!" THen Kaya knelt by Dorve and Vylia. "How is she Dorve, will she make it?"

"I dunno Kaya, why don't you ask the lass herself." Kaya smile as she saw the elf stirring and her eyes flutter open.

"It's about time you woke up Vylia," Kaya chuckled, "you might have missed all the fun!"

Written by - Rikshanthas

“The problem, friend, is making it to the docks in the first place. Seems we still have a few dozen guards who want to bar our way, but I’d gladly welcome the help.”

Lienad flashed a wicked grin at the older human as he swept Astalder in a flurry of quick slashes, which had the intended effect of pushing the encircling guards back to arm's length. "Reminds me why I always carry a pair of these," he said, producing a palm-sized glass flask from a pouch at his belt. In one quick movement he sent it shattering at the feet of the guards, and from it billowed a swiftly-expanding grey cloud of smoke, which irritated exposed skin and caused eyes to water and throats to constrict.

Lienad was ready for the smoke's effects. The guards were not. He quickly made a hole in the circle of guards, through which he all but dove, carrying the beleaguered crusader with him. As soon as they were clear of the smoke, Lienad took several deep breaths, wiping his eyes and looking back with a shake of his head at the confusion one well-placed smoke flask could cause. "Gods bless alchemists," he chuckled. "That takes care of one problem. Come on, your friends're probably waiting for us and I'm willing to bet there are a lot more soldiers between us and the docks," he said to the crusader, turning to leave the square before more guards caught sight of them.

Ankhara ran up just then, two guards following with swords drawn. Lienad made ready to defend his kin, but the guards pulled up sharply, nodding to Lienad and crisply saluting the crusader. "These two were part of Pallanon's elite," Ankahara explained. "They've been here undercover ever since, waiting for an opportunity like this." She looked at Lienad's companion. "Who's your friend, Lee?" she asked curiously.

Written by - Vylia

Vylia looked up at Kaya, her mouth twitched in an almost smile, and responded, "If you call bleeding to death on a dock fun, then I think we may have to part ways." Looking around she grimaced, "This place has turned into a real war zone, and I'm pretty sure this isn't because of us. Those men are running to their ships." Standing up she turned to look toward the sea, "By Pandarrion..." she almost sank back to her knees, "how are we to get past all of that?"

Written by - Ardwen

Kaya's voice rang out over the din, "We need to go! They are heading to their posts, Ardwen. Pick up your queen and let's go!"

"Break!" One of the guards out of the mass pressing in on Ardwen and his friends shouted, "break and get to the defenses! We're under attack from the sea, we don't have to kill these bastards here, just make sure their ship is sent to the bottom!"

Ardwen grunted as he stopped another blow from a guard using a bastard sword, the man did not launch another thrust, he simply dropped his weapon and ran. The guards were already breaking ranks and manning the harbor defenses. Ardwen spun around to face the three others who had arrived on the docks; he quickly took tally of what he had to work with. Vylia was on her feet again thanks to the efforts of Dorve, but the warrior was uncertain if she could still walk, much less fight.

Ardwen noticed Vylia frowning and saying, "This place had turned into a real war zone, and I'm pretty sure this isn't because of us. Those men are running to their ships." The archer rose to her feet and continued, "By Pandarrion . . . how are we to get past all of that?'

Ardwen glanced at Ariana who had remained motionless beneath his cloak. "Vylia," the berserker called out, "can you still walk? I'm going to take Ariana aboard the ship." He knelt down next to the prostrate Abbess and picked her up. From his kneeling position Ardwen looked up at Vylia and said, "We're both from Aerynth, we can take the facts. Unless there's a miracle we're not going to make it out of this one. Even if we could get past the guards, I don't see Turin or Arc here, and I'm not keen on leaving without them. I say we board this ship, we can defend ourselves far better on it. We go until the end, but we don't let them have the joy of killing us, and I don't like the thought of being a prisoner . . . you understand what I'm saying, yeah?"

Ardwen picked Ariana up and moved to the ramp leading onto the vessel. "Still," he thought, "I wonder where Arc is? Why would he leave Vylia bleeding to death and alone? I swear I will never understand these humans. Arc may look like a wizened old man, but for him to go rushing off like some inexperienced whelp. Damn fool boy." Ardwen finished before pushing the thought aside. Once he was on the deck of the ship he found the captain's quarters, the door was locked. Ardwen simply kicked down the door, splinters and sawdust swirling through the air with each blow. Inside the apartment was fairly well provisioned with a bed, a wooden chest at its foot, and several desks. The warrior pulled back the covers and gingerly placed Ariana down, covering her before snatching his cloak back and fastening it. Ardwen thought it strange she had stopped struggling so much since being brought inside, perhaps she found the darkness of the room easier on her eyes.

The elf walked outside the room to the ruined door and breathed in the salty air. He had no great love of the sea, but he could find no comfort being in the same room with Ariana. He leaned on the frame of the door and closed his eyes. The armor's effects were wearing off, and he was starting to feel again. He knew it was dangerous to stay under its influence for too long, but Ardwen briefly wished he could just stay numb all over. "Ah," he said to himself, "this will not be a bad death. Maybe I'll end up back on Aerynth." Ardwen didn't know, perhaps he would, or perhaps the All-Father would judge him. The uncertainties of his own demise filled the elf with a sense of discomfort. He ignored it the best he could, squelching his own thoughts just so he could keep himself together. He let time tick by and carry him with it, knowing that what would happen would happen regardless of what he thought. No one died calmly, simply slipping away, for everyone has doubts and fears. There was little peace in dying, but there could be resignation and grim acceptance. Ardwen stoically acquiesced to the latter.

Written by - Vylia

"Vylia," the berserker called out, "can you still walk? I'm going to take Ariana aboard the ship." He knelt down next to the prostrate Abbess and picked her up. From his kneeling position Ardwen looked up at Vylia and said, "We're both from Aerynth, we can take the facts. Unless there's a miracle we're not going to make it out of this one. Even if we could get past the guards, I don't see Turin or Arc here, and I'm not keen on leaving without them. I say we board this ship, we can defend ourselves far better on it. We go until the end, but we don't let them have the joy of killing us, and I don't like the thought of being a prisoner . . . you understand what I'm saying, yeah?"

Vylia looked up at Ardwen as she picked up her fallen blades, "Yes, I can still walk, and fight if need be. Arc went after Turin, I don't think he realized I was as hurt as I was, I didn't notice myself until I tried to move for that matter. I won't leave them behind either, we all get out, or none at all." Her face grim she followed Ardwen onto the boat, speaking again before he disappeared from the deck, "I've done my share in a dungeon, and it is not something I will ever repeat." Vylia looked to the docks to make sure nobody who shouldn't have had followed before turning her gaze back to the sea. Ships were going up like tapestry in a blaze, cannon fire and even a few obvious magic spells flying almost without heed to who they were hitting.

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