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Book Three Pt 2 - The Reckoning

Written by - Talonmane Page 42 Book 3

The meteor plowed into the waves just to the fore-star of the Rennafont, missing the destroyer but capsizing her in the sudden displacement of water due to impact and instant conversion to steam. That side of the ship was on fire from the heat for but a moment before twisting round and into the bath, crewmembers running and diving to live. The attack and sacrifice made by Archeantus had distracted the Arch-Demon and saved most of the Doledrun sailors' lives.

Adramelech still held the bolt that he had caught, and it's rope still ran all the way down to the sinking ship. A twist came to his lips as he turned to gaze behind and below, and with unflawed grace and unerring precision he hurled Rennafont's harpoon straight at the Warlock. In afterthought he spoke a curse to the man, tired in phrase he'd used one-thousand-thousand times before. Each word was a quake across the firmament.

"Live through this, if you will. But hunted and haunted all your days you shall be..."

The Infernal concentrated for but a moment, and Oathfather's bolt flashed into smoke, ashes, and flame, it's steel head liquifying and running down the demon's back until it dripped entirely from him, the wound sealing behind that metal, leaving his flesh as undamaged as before Archeantus' attack. Or so he thought. Later, in his personal chambers, one of his concubines would discover a tiny scar, and in a rage of vanity would he increase the curse upon the man 10-fold.

As he aimed his countenance to the battlefield once more, he then felt the real attack, the one for which all else had been a diversion. Ancient words were ascending from the prow of the sleek Elven frigate and the net encasing the harpy eminated a cascade of magical hues. The spells coming to bear were loosening Hrulga's grip on the summoning, and yet more then that, the hellish prince felt the tell-tale tug from the other side of the dimensional tunnel. No sooner had he begun to consider his substancial list of enemies to determine which could be responsible for such interference, but then a fiend soared up alongside him, and reported what he knew. With less volume that before, but still each word a drumming to the clouds, he spoke,

"Thus, the Sister of Scales sought to counter our efforts? And yet turned away with a few simple words. Some other prize tempts Mercherasul's interest. Soon enough shall we know, for no doubt He who offers it stands at the opposite side of this passage, working to draw me back. Yes, this stinks of betrayal."

He whispered then to his winged soldier, who promptly vanished in a splash of crimson light. Adramelech continued for all to hear with a bearing of lust in his intent, "It seems, dear Ariana, that I will not yet lift you beyond earthly bounds...that you will not yet feel my passion nor bathe in my attentions tonight. However, I can be most patient. With the waiting comes deeper imaginings of the ways you'll be touched by the Infernal..."

Hrulga moaned and crowed then, in pain and powerlessness, and in knowledge of what could be coming. Adramelech noted again her bonds and the source of the magic bringing the summoning to a close. In curiousness, he addressed the hooded caster upon Gossamer Wing,

"And I would know thy name, green-wise one. I have contended with you before, either you or whomever your master. Our eyes will now seek your every path. It is a shame you are out of my reach as well - you would have made an acceptable substitute to bear across the threshold, even in place of Providence's Light. Alas, it appears that thy allies will see to it I make do with a far less appealling sacrifice!"

He spit the last words in obvious disgust at the harpy. He seemed to know what was coming next, and took no action to stop it, resigning himself to the day's outcome.

Spell words in ancient elvish eminated from the frigate's prow. Aquanimbulos, now fully formed again and having waited out the Arch-demon's speech, replied in his own tongue, then commanded the surrounding air to change. Cold arrived in a snap, and everyone on the harbour suddenly felt plunged into a deep winter's embrace. The demon's skin steamed. The temperature fell to well below freezing.

From hundreds of feet below Adramelech, where the Wavehammer now cruised beneath and on by, a dwarven voice offered, "Here's the deal Ah'll make with ye, ye great cur! The witch is yours, as long as Ah never 'ave to smell her briney breath on me seas again!" With this, as the ship sailed on ahead, the rope connecting the cruiser to the harpy began to unslacken and eventually grew taught. With great yank and terrible screech of anguish Hrulga was pulled to the edge of her protective circle and collided with its magically delineated cylindrical wall. The runes and drawn lines of the circle appeared to crack in the impact, as though they were written on pottery tile. With the sea-storm elemental's severe change to the atmosphere came an alteration to the environmental circumstances of the spell that held the circle in place.

Adramelech, in rare amusement, looked from the harpy to the circle's cracks and then down at the ship below, and reeled back in laughter. Hrulga gasped and cawed as the pull, made greater from wind Aquanimbulos fed to the 'Hammer's sails, attempted to rip her from the protective confinement.

Passing opposite to the cruiser, Gossamer Wing had approached and stopped just below. The lithe figure at her nose held the old gnarled staff aloft a last time, and with the other hand removed the concealing hood. Long, silvery hair fell about the aqualine face and pointed ears, and a light undimmed by the foul forces present shown like an aura, and some would say a bell chime of magnificent, heart-aching beauty rang in the distance and swelled something in the souls of the good people present. The Elf said,

"Our century in contention is over, Hrulga. You've left me no choice but to use this opportunity to watch you removed from this world. I would not wish the fate that awaits you upon any, but to allow your continuing presence in these dark times, would be worse. Perhaps death will finally find you. And peace."

The Druid - for that is clearly what she was, now that her presence was not held back in the last - uttered one soft phrase, and the circle around the witch dropped to impossibly low temperatures, and shattered.

The Wavehammer leapt forward, dragging Hrulga straight into the arms of Adramelech. For while the circle the harpy had used for herself was intentionally a barrier both from within and without, the triangle within which stood the summoned only kept the demon from leaving it's confines. Nothing was there to seperate her from the infernal embrace. He held her tight, and breathed onto her leathery neck, said something in her ear, and she screamed, for the first time sounding nearly human in her abject terror. As the summoning spell dissolved and the tunnel from the Red Realm collapsed, she called forth her final oath.

"This is no end! I will never fade, and my sisters will find a way to return me! The dwarf's ship will be sunk and the splinters spread to every land, and the fires I'll bring back with me will burn your forest, Druidess! And my true Mistress, yes! Coming she is! With armies and death and command over power you've not known! My Mistress and my sisters will be your end! And I'll watch you shrivel, elf wretch! I'll see you broken from your earth and devoured by your own beasts! Your doom will accompany new rule over this world, your kind enslaved for eternity! You'll witness it, and you'll cry yourself to death, SALVORAH!!"

A thunderous echo was suddenly the only noise in the sky. It faded. Night's more comfortable coolness on the water replaced the frigid cold of the past few moments. The clouds broke, and the stars arrived.

Written by - Archeantus

Archeantus' figure fell lifelessly down toward the sea. His limbs lifted up in the violent currents of the wind, as his hair whipped chaotically across his face.

Time seemed to stand still as the immensely powering being uttered a curse upon his falling assailant. His words crackled as thunder, and from his precise hand, he wielded his lightening--the same harpoon which had moments ago been embedded into his back.

It shot toward the falling warlock aimed perfectly toward his heart.

Downward he fell, closer and closer to the vast sea.

Yet from the heart of the storm clouds, beyond them to the Moon whose face was hid, shot a small ember, who grew in immensity and brilliance in the night's sky until it flew upon wings of fire.

Blazing in fury, a lone shriek born of hope shot out into the darkness.

Angelus dove toward her master leaving a trail of fire in her wake, seeking to reach him before he was lost. Like a comet, she rocketed toward his falling figure, just in time for the harpoon to plunge into her fiery exterior. Passing through her, it melted significantly, leaving only a small shard of white hot metal, and it was this shard that entered into his chest, near his heart.

Entering his skin, it strangely cooled immediately, yet left a searing gash, and a wound that began to pour blood, which splattered out into the night's wind, leaving a soft red stream floating upward as he fell.

Angelus changed course perceiving the complexity of the solution to his rapidly approaching death. She flew past him, noting the sea was moments away.

With his back toward the sea, she flew underneath him and twisted in the air until her blazing wings cradled his listless body, never touching, but falling along with him. Now along with his blood, thousands of embers shot upward as they fell.

Channeling the currents of hot air between them, Angelus lifted her master upward as she gained further and further space between her, the sea, and him.

The moment came, and there was a brilliant flash of sudden flame as the phoenix splashed into the sea with a great column of steam. Archeantus followed her into the steam, splashing into the sea, cradled by flame.

The softer impact jarred him out of his unconscious state and he found himself many feet down immersed in the icy cool of the sea.

Kicking his legs and waving his arms he swam upward. Bursting to the surface he found his strength had all but failed him. Twisting in the water he made out the faint outline of a vessel near him.

It was the 'Call. Angelus had steered him near.

Focusing his mind to generate the last bit of energy he possessed, he lifted himself slowly out of the sea, and erratically floated, dripping, his head dangling in the air to land with a thud on the deck of the Far Seas Call once more.

Kneeling he looked with the last of his strength to see a figure standing there in the light of the moon and stars which now shined in the darkness.

"Ariana..." he whispered, his eyes warming. Lifting his near lifeless arm toward her, bleeding now on the deck, he tried to say more but couldn't.

And then his eyes closed, as did his sight once more; blind. He did everything he could, but fell unconscious, with his arm outstretched, and the other holding a certain medallion contained within the vest of his robes. A faint smile could be seen upon his lips.

He had been granted a glimpse of her, a view from the vantage of the end of a long journey, and the beginning of a new one.

Moments later, a small ember floated from beneath the vessel going toward the Abbess and stopped before her face. It seemed to pause there for a small time, and then it danced, gleefully, before her curious eyes.

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya watched the exchange between Turin and the shark creatures, curious as to what was meant by the words spoken. Then watched with a mixture of relief and dissappointment as the creatures left the deck. SHe watched closely the one firend left in the sky, hoping it would decide to come down and try its strength against them, but again was dissapointed as it flew away back to its master. We will meet again and next time you will not escape fiend. Then with amazement watched as the giant demon faded from site and everything was calm. The chanting voices faded, and they were replaced by cheers. Kaya lowered A'lanthear and it's glow subsided. As soon as she sat down upon the deck Dorve was upon her, checking her out for wounds, but finding none, as the lady they had saved had healed them all with her own magics. She also finally put down the spear she had been clutching tightly. "Wrap that spear in a blanket Dorve, it is a worthy trophy but needs cleansing, I am sure the elder druids back at the citadel will be able to do something about it."

Dorve nodded, "That I can do, then I will see about any others that need my help since you obviously don't need me." Dorve took the spear gingerly and went down below to find a blanket to wrap the weapon in. Kaya took a deep breath, and for the first time since this began, relaxed and looked around, seeing the carnage that still aly upon the deck, then her eyes stopped on Ariana, and wondered what was so important about this woman, that demons woudl fight over her. Seems to me A'lanthear, that it might be worth while to stick around her, and figure out why she is so valuable to these demons.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen turned from the smoldering remains of the winged demon's form to see why the ship had begun to list. What the Elf saw did not please him. There were bizarre aquatic creatures that looked like the malformed result of a squid and shark mixed with a human latched to the ship. Finished with his fight, Ardwen went to stand next to Kaya and Vylia. If these watery arrivals wished to snatch away the Abbess, Ardwen thought it best to face them as a united front. The demons, however, seemed to have other ideas. They spoke, first one and then the other, offering various trite and petty assurances of power and the aegis of their lord.

The Elven warrior kept his face neutral. Having served in numerous honor guards, he knew the value of silence and intimidation in negotiations. However, when one of the beasts mentioned undergoing certain "changes" to see their drowned demesne, it took all the restrain Ardwen had not to give some outward signal of his anger. More than that, to Ardwen's sensibilities it was such an obvious trap. The "changes" would obviously have to be some means to breathe underwater, and to survive the great pressure of an entire ocean trying to cave one's chest in. Ardwen was suspicious that these alterations would someone not allow them to leave for the surface easily, or at all. The warrior mussed over what a clever trap it would be, caught in an underwater realm as a seeming act of protection.

Unfortunately, Ardwen had no idea what he could do about it. He was wounded and tired, not only from his recent battle, but also from the entire excursion to Westgale. The bitter thought crossed his mind that this was supposed to have been a simple ordeal. Ariana had been trapped by a simple lot of barbaric humans, and Ardwen had thought a little bluster and show of force would have been more than enough to cow them. Instead, he had gotten involved in affairs that stretched beyond the mortal realm itself and involved this world's hell and apparently its princes. To further yank the situation out of his hands, Ardwen had no weapons. The two blades he had traced were spent in delivering the final strike to his demonic foe.

The Blade Weaver considered tracing more, as he was probably still able, but the prospect did not please him. Already Ardwen was apprehensive that Vylia had seen him trace Haru and Fuyu, and it also nagged at the Elf's mind that he was not aware of Vylia's history with her own people. True, she appeared like too much of a steadfast Pandarionist to be really immersed in the politics of the High Court, but there was the risk hat she recognized the blades. Ardwen tried to rationalize that there was no way Vylia was old enough to do so, but he knew firsthand that an Elf's precise age was difficult to determine. In the case of Twilight Elves, it was near impossible.

Ardwen decided to do the least he could do, and standing nex to Kaya and Vylia was about it. The warrior reasoned that it would be safest if he held his hand for now, and if the demons wanted to buy them time by talking he was willing to oblige. Despite these concerns, Ardwen found salvation arrived in an unusual, if not unexpected, fashion. The Elf watched in mild amusement as Turin simply ordered the demons off the ship. Even more amazing, the disgusting creatures complied meekly and oozed back into the watery abyss from whence they had came. The Elven warrior felt a brief sense of pride, after all, that was his Priest of Battle, able to order even the infernal to yield with mere words!

The sensation faded quickly, and was replaced with a decided lack of sensation, namely pain. Ardwen swiveled his head to his left shoulder and saw that the flesh was knitting back together. In a few moments a thin pale line was all that remained of the wound, and Ardwen found he could move the arm much more easily now. However, Ardwen still felt like the layer beneath the surface flesh was entirely too warm, almost as if scalding water flowed beneath his skin. The Elf figured the demons talons had some sort of poison on them, but it did not concern him. Ardwen had shrugged off numerous types of venom and poison over the years. More concerning, but even more out of his hands, was what was happening over the harbor.

Something, or someone, had greatly upset the great Arc-Daemon above them, and the air cracked and howled with arcane energy. Ardwen expected some great fiery meteor to usher forth from the heavens at any minute, but it did the exact opposite. It suddenly got cold, very cold. The dread prince of hell above spoke in defiance and dire promises, the large majority of which Ardwen simply deigned not to listen to. It was, after all, merely more of the same rote most demons spewed out. However, ignoring the cold was a different matter, and while Ardwen was used to northern conditions, it soon became too cold for any earthly climate he had known. Luckily, it did not last long, and the great cold served its purpose by pulling the harpy above them to hell.

"Finally . . ." Ardwen muttered to himself as the preternatural forces in the air above finally settled down, and natural night (and natural night's native temperature) returned. There was, however, one thing out of place. It was something Ardwen was not sure he wanted to notice, but a huge plume of steam and vapor rising from the water near them was hard to ignore. Ardwen watched as a battered Archeantus rose from the water. The warlock made it to the deck, crumpled to his knees and stretched a hand forward as if trying to grasp something that was a distance beyond reach away. The Hand of Providence then pomptly collapsed to the deck, but Ardwen noticed a faint smile on his lips.

A split second after Archeantus's body had slumped to the deck Ardwen was at his side, kneeling down next to him. It did not take a skilled physician to see what was wrong with the human, for in his chest was a seeping wound that wept blood. Ardwen let out a string of choice blasphemies, but he dared not stir the warlock. A piercing wound was one of the deadliest, for while small they could easily puncture vital organs and almost always caused internal bleeding as well. If they were too deep, sometimes amputation was the only option, but as this wound was in Archeantus's chest, Ardwen did not think that an option.

"Medic!" Ardwen roared out. "This man needs a healer!" The Elf did not have to wait long before one answered his call, but as Ardwen looked around it was only one. The warrior's eyes narrowed to gleaming slits and there was a fire in them. "This man," said Ardwen, "is a hero, and for more than what he has done here today. He saved your miserable lives, which is a damn sight more than what I would have done. He needs, and deserves, more than one of your kind here." The healer looked insulted; however one glance at the warlock's wounds seemingly convinced him that the Elf's hate-filled words had some merit. He quickly began motioning for more to assist him. Satisfied that his part was done, Ardwen rose from the gathering knot of people and walked to the front of the ship to where it narrowed to meet the prow.

The Elf slumped against the side of the ship and allowed himself to sag to the ground. His knees were in front of him with an arm on each, and Ardwen cocked his head to the side as if trying to rest it on a shoulder. As comfortable as he cared to make himself, Ardwen stared out into the starlit night and thought of all that had just transpired. Even if he were not tired, it was still much to think on, and Ardwen found his thoughts flowing swiftly, like the water that slid past the hull of the ship below.

Written by - Vylia

Vylia smiled down at Archeantus as he fell to the deck, understanding full well why he himself had such a smile on his face before his collapse. Her smile changed to worry however as she saw the gaping wound in his chest, but Ardwen beat her to him, and with his usual browbeating tactics secured the help of several healers for their unconcious friend.

Not that everything was done, the demons banished or run away, the enemy ships all sunk beneath the waves, Vylia had time to think on the events of the day. It was nothing new really for demonkind to be after Ariana, Vylia knew she had a great deal of power and knew that it would be a great boon to them if they could twist her to their side. Turin's command of the merfolk however was slightly worrying, even though she knew that Turin's presence had influenced thousands to follow his orders before now, something did not ring true in her mind. He had commanded and they had obeyed meekly, rather than with the fear that usually accompanied his orders toward their enemies.

On another note, Ardwen's swords made Vylia's thoughts cascade back to her past to think on old legends, though she couldn't quite remember what it was about them that was so familiar. Considering that Turin had gone belowdecks and Ardwen was still here, Vylia decided to try and solve at least one mystery before resting, so she sheathed her blades, and unbelted the scabards as she walked over to sit against the rail beside him. "I see you lost your armour somewhere, and not just the metal one. Your heart is returning, or else you wouldn't have rushed to Arc's side so swiftly. It's nice to see." She turned to regard him with a smile, her mass of blond hair sliding from her shoulder to cover half of her face.

Written by - Ariana

She gazed with curiosity as creatures came and went, but when a tiny spark alighted before her eyes and seemingly danced a little jig, her entire countenance lit up with delight. It was only natural then, that when her little friend began to head towards one side of the deck that she followed, people parting before her like water.

The ember led her towards a person, who lay unmoving upon the planking. Curious, her eyes watched as the tiny spark danced around the head of the figure, seeming to call her attention to him. She knelt beside him and with gentle fingers first traced the ragged scar that cut across his face, then his rounded ears, and followed by stroking the wet silver strands of his hair as it faintly glittered in the moonlight. The varying textures beneath her fingers delighted her, and she was prepared to make the circuit again when the frantic motion of the ember caught her eye.

It was now perched above his chest, and appeared to be jumping up and down in a frenzy. As intended, the motion drew her attention to the hole in the man’s chest, and river of blood that flowed outward. She repeated her action of earlier and rubbed her finger in the blood, then popped the finger into her mouth. She could taste the pain as earlier, but there was a strong bitter undertone to the substance. Her face contorted in disgust, and she spit out as much of the taste as she could.

Understanding dawned and she held one hand over the wound and allowed the same energy she allowed to flow through her earlier, do so again. A glowing ball of light appeared over the wound, and it began to close. The flesh knitted itself together and the blood ceased to flow. When it was finished, the ember started to dance again, seemingly a much happier dance than before, and she smiled.

The use of power, though, was draining, and she could feel her eyelids drooping. When she could no longer hold them open, she laid herself out beside the man she had just healed, taking no notice of the blood-stained deck, and promptly went to sleep. As she faded, her friend the ember, took up position right over her heart.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen did not stir as Vylia sat down beside him. However, it seemed the female Elf was not content to be silent, and had questions of her own. The Elven warrior heard her words, about his heart, about his returning compassion. Ardwen kept a neutral face, yet he bothered to raise his head and half-glance at Vylia. The woman's face was partly obscured by a tumble of blond hair, and for a minute Ardwen found himself wondering where she had gotten the hair coloring. Blond was not a rare color amongst some Elven families, indeed, it was found in the Dar and Twath houses both. With a mental slap, Ardwen noticed he had been thinking about the wrong thing, and he bought a moment by sighing and looking skyward.

"Vylia." Said Ardwen. "Archeantus is a member of the Hands of Providence. You know that makes him different."

Ardwen paused for a minute before turning his face to look at Vylia again. In the darkness the only distinct feature on the Elf's face were his eyes that caught the moon and starlight. "But," Ardwen said, "there's something else on your mind, isn't there?"

Written by - Vylia

Vylia leaned back against the railing, looking at the now clear sky, as Ardwen spoke, "Vylia, Archeantus is a member of the Hands of Providence. You know that makes him different. But, there's something else on your mind, isn't there?" "You're not a very good liar you know. The longer you're around normal people, the more you'll start to care again. It's a good thing though, it'll give you something to protect when you aren't around Ariana." She turned to look at Ardwen again, "You're welcome to use my blades if you like, since yours seem to be gone, unless those ones you conjured are more convenient for you. I still have my bow... and it would give me a reason to keep you alive," she paused for a moment as she leaned against Ardwen's shoulder, "Other than trying to restore your lost compassion anyway."

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen visibly tensed at Vylia's words. The warrior did not care to correct her on her perception. If she had not felt the bite of failure as a protector she would soon enough, in due time. Ardwen knew that when that happened, Vylia would have to find her own answers, as Ardwen had himself. What troubled the Elf more than the archer's words over compassion, however, was her mention of him tracing blades. Before he could form a reply, he felt Vylia leaning against him. He had thought to stand up and speak, but . . . he now decided it best to let her rest. Besides, if she were in an amicable mood, it would make what Ardwen said next more appealing.

"Vylia," Ardwen said, "I don't feel like having a big argument right now over right and wrong, I think we'll each find our path in that regard. However, I must ask you to tell no one - especially the other Hands - that you saw me trace those blades. Now . . . is not the time for them to inquire about my past. I have some . . ." The warrior trailed off before finishing with an imploring, "Please."

Written by - Teran

"I'm sorry Princess, I did not mean to desecrate your pure mind with profane images." he muttered, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Teran adjusted his new uniform, pulling it into place. The clothing was unfamiliar to him and uncomfortable but such concerns were merely cosmetic in nature. He examined his fingers and seemed content that he was nearly whole again. His gaze moved to Mavigan and her fascination with him and he smiled, amused at her reaction to his unusual talents.

"We can't depart. We haven't yet found the source of the problem, or were you planning on abandoning all the innocent people down here to their fates?"

He peered into the dark hallway while waiting for her reply.

Written by - Agmund

Growls of anger echoed across the canyon walls as more and more orcs poured onto the bridge from both sides, but the dwarf’s rage grew unchecked. He waded head long into the teaming mass; swinging his hammer in fluid like arcs. The endless sea of orcs was working to his advantage, and no matter what direction the cap flew, veins burst, and bones shattered.

Morthand could see that Throrgrum was surrounded, but he had his own problems: several large and very angry ones. There was no place for him to get footing on the bridge, and the litter was beginning to teeter on the stone railing. He could barely hear the dwarf shouting above the roar, “Jump lad!” But there was no place for him to jump too, so he worked to keep his balance, hoping that when the litter went, he could land in the void left by its disappearance.

As the litter began to slide completely off the bridge, Morthand bent his knees and sprang forward in desperation. He had aimed for the one spot that was now clear of orcs, though, he had not counted on the ogres themselves. It was this that was his undoing, and the ogre who was first in the rear of the litter, swung one humongous arm into the mans chest, sending him hurling off the bridge… and into the chasm of darkness below.

Throrgum tried in vain to fight his way towards the litter: towards his son. However, he was encircled, and with each pass of the hammer, his arms grew weary. Each time an orc fell, the hole filled with another, and another, and the dwarf could only watch with horror as his son fell from the bridge. The same bridge that that had taken the lives of his fathers, now took Morthand, and soon he would join them.

Madness crept into his mind, and though he could hear the voices of ancestors calling him home to the great hall of Graedium, his lust for blood was yet unabated. “Alive! Capture him alive you fools!” the orc taskmaster continued to shout. But the dwarf had let go, and now his rage roamed unbridled. He wielded the hammer of his clan, and an axe from a felled orc, and death followed his gaze.

“I am Throrgrum! Son of Morgrum and Delgrum before him!” his roar pierced the night sky. “Wielder of the Icehammer, oathbearer, and orc slayer!” he hurled the axe into the face of an orc. “I am your doom!” he cried out as he slammed the hammer into an ogre’s chest. “I am your death!” the hammer whirled back to smash another’s face. Foe after foe fell, pilling up around him, and with each battle cry he felt strength surge thru his body. Until at last, the enemy backed away, forming a ring of flesh around him, but keeping their distance.

“Hear me Dagafeln!” He called out in the ancient tongue of dwarves, “Your time is coming!” Spreading his legs shoulder length apart, he stood his ground. His beard dripping with blood, and his chainmail hanging in tatters, he spit upon the bridge and waited for the orcs to advance. As his chest heaved, he eyed the orcs around him, glaring at each in turn.

A dull thud reverberated off his helmet, and for a brief moment he swayed upon wobbly legs. Spinning around he prepared his hammer for a strike, but he soon found that the crowd behind him had kept their distance. His mind was filled with fog and clouds, and though he saw the rock at his feet, he could not do the math. Instead he stared dumbly as another rock caught him directly in the face, causing a misty spray of blood to erupt from his now broken nose.

Falling to one knee, he concerted his efforts into fighting back the impeding darkness, and after what seemed like an eternity he began to rise to both feet… only to be hit again from behind. This time the rock landed in the small of his back, and he jerked in pain, falling to both knees. The orcs howled with laughter, and the crowd began to spin.

“Yes, we will have this one alive” the taskmaster gloated in front of him, “this one will tell us everything we wants to know.” He began to say something else, but whatever it was hung there in his throat. Throrgrum had taken the hammer into both hands and raised it above his head. He hurled it the short distance, with everything he had left, and it landed between the orcs legs. As the dwarf fell to the blood covered bridge, the laughter went silent.

Written by - Vylia

"If that is what you want, then I won't tell anyone. However, I'd like to know more about them, if you don't have a problem with that." Vylia stood up suddenly, blushing as she realized that she had perhaps gotten a little too personal by using Ardwen's shoulder to rest against. "I'm... going to go find an empty cabin. If you want to borrow my swords, just say so. I'm going to go get some sleep... it's been a long day," she paused for a moment, "I'd also like to know what you were about to say before you cut yourself off." With that she walked toward the stairs leading below, her steps nearly qualifying as a run.

Written by - Archeantus

The calm sounds of the ocean slowly seeped into his consciousness. Muffled voices seemed to be near. He was at first startled to find his sight to be darkness again but the feeling passed as if he attributed the experience to have been but a dream.

His calloused hands however came to rest upon his face, as they grazed across the ragged scar. He often wondered who he would have become without his blindness. His hands then rested on what had been a terrible wound near his heart. It had healed, but the pain still rumbled deep within him and he feared it would haunt him for the rest of his days.

It was cool and the night's breeze soothed him. His tattered robe was slightly damp but he'd been attended to. The last thing he remembered was the sight of Ariana, a memory he would cherish for the rest of his days. His grizzled face hid a faint smile once more as he remembered.

Taking a deep breath, he slowly lifted himself from his prostrate position. The moment he had done so a stern but caring voice warned to take it easy.

The warlock quickly scanned the woman's mind and found what he sought.

"Sorsha, you have my thanks for looking after me. I feel much better. Now if you could help me up, I would like to stretch my legs."

"How did y--" She began to ask but remembered it whispered he was a mentalist.

She seemed to protest but the warlock insisted.

"I am well enough to stand."

He did not wait and she was forced to steady him as he slowly came to his feet. The moment he did so however he became wobbly and she quickly held him aloft.

He chuckled.

"It appears you know my condition more than I."

Despite the pain, he was in good spirits. There was a certain feeling of peace aboard the ship, he could feel it, could hear it.

"My staff Sorsha, if you could?"

She nodded and took his weathered staff which was nearby and placed it in his hands.

"Are you sure you are able to walk?" She asked, her tone had a slight bemused quality about it.

He smiled inwardly. "Truthfully, I don't believe I am, but I'll try anyhow."

With that he began to walk forward, and then paused and turned around.

"Any chance my blindfold is still around on deck?"

The young healer looked and spotted a small wet piece of gray cloth against a pile of rope across the deck.

"I see it sir, one moment."

Retrieving it for him, she handed him the cloth. He did not take it immediately, seeming to be looking at her while still holding the cloth.

His pause started to unnerve her and she was about to let go when he spoke.

"Sorsha, he will forgive you. You do not have to face the pain alone. Come back home."

She nearly gasped at the mention of something she'd held tightly to the dark recesses of her heart. Something that she'd been running away from for far too long.

He did not wait for a response but turned and walked slowly away leaving her trembling, but moved.

He was nearly run over by Vylia who ran past him.

He stopped and looked back detecting the remnants of her conversation and then turned toward Ardwen sitting further down the deck taking in the ocean breeze.

Slowly walking toward his old friend, he stopped near him and waited, standing close, his face gazing into the moon's light, letting the breeze slowly lift his gray strands.

Slowly he rested his hand on the Elf's shoulder.

"I am glad to find you well old friend."

He did not say more and left it to the Elf's choice of solitude.

Taking his hand off Ardwen's shoulder, he lifted the blindfold to his face and slowly tied it in place.

Angelus came then and buzzed about his stern features.

Written by - Talonmane

Admiral Munchadin let the sky's echo fade, and in the quiet then turned and let his gaze fall upon every member of his crew within sight. He tapped his brass pegleg hard to the deck as well, tap-tap, tap-tap, a known signal to those below that danger had passed - battle was for now, over. With a fierce yet relieved grin, he shouted out for them, his crew, and the maiden - sadly now husbandless - that was his ship, "Wonderous Awe! Bottomless Pride! Onward sail the Hammer upon the Waves! Brell'khu Thak'Zeladrun Phad'bra!" And the crew echoed his words in celebration, tired though they were, and yet filled as any with after-battle sighs and gratitude.

Feburt had reeled in the long rope with his hands, and at the end of it their harpoon and net still were tied. It appeared no matter of this world had gone over the Red threshold with the harpy. The man looked to Kildef and especially to his Captain, smiling and yet grim, "I will clean and dry it and mount it in our hall below, for the day it may be needed again!" And with that he was off, not needing leave of Munchadin for such a task.

The Ranger echoed the dwarf's earlier words, "That was some shot...never had I made another like it. Some grace must have been upon us today."

"Aye, an' we'll all like 'ave to make such bullseyes o'er and again in times ahead. Ah say it again: we've just seen a beginnin' of conflicts...much more await." Munchadin and Bragni's sailors had in the meantime had slowed the ship to let both the courier and frigate come alongside - the 'Call pulled up as she had before to the starboard hullside, and the 'Wing on the other side of her.

Kildef left the pilot's deck, and as he came to the rail amidships, he was in time to see the great grey shape of Ollawahoo settle onto rigging next to a woman on the smaller boat, she clad only in a nighgown it seemed. And then his heart was glad, for he knew it was Ariana, and she was safe. Other old Hands were there as well, and just standing, with assistance, Archeantus - what power allowed this he could not know. Only Turin Wallace was unseen, and at that thought, Kil's heart felt unsure and a bit heavier. Yet he resolved to keep faith that they could make it right, moreso for he saw then the Druid Salvorah crossing the gangway that had been erected 'tween the lesser vessels. He descended himself, wishing to witness the meeting of the two women.

As the moments passed, the three linked ships and what few remained after the assault on Westgale Harbour sailed slowly through the narrow inlet. By morning they passed that third of Munch's fleet that blockaded the area, and set many of the survivors with them, though some half of the Doledrun contingent left to return home, heal their wounds, and prepare for more. The Wavehammer squadron would escort the courier to the nearby isles, and the council of their next day would decide the future paths.

Written by - Turin Wallace

While the battle was over for those on deck, the one for Turin's fate was only beginning below, in the small cabin that once housed Ariana.

Inside, a portal was open. A greater fiend of Abigor stood, wreathed in heatless flame, body black as coal. Before him stood Turin, his palor still pale from the transfer of vitality to Ariana, but standing straight none-the-less. Purgatori herself, cloaked in black, stood off to Turin's right, a silent witness to the events transpiring.

The greater fiend spoke,

"The master's bargain is complete, mortal. Adramalech has been defeated and your friends are alive. Now, it is my master's wish to welcome you to the Infernal Planes. There is much he has in store for you."

Turin only nodded in silence, knowing his end must be upheld. Before taking a step, he asked,

"Am I allowed to go above, one last time, to see my old friends?"

The fiend laughed. Relishing the moment, he then responded,

"No, it is enough to know that they are safe. You may not delay any longer."

Turin felt a stinging in his heart, to not be allowed to see them one last time was a harsh reality, but one he must deal with. He could only be satisfied with knowing they were alive and well, and that would have to do.

It was then that he felt Purgi close to his side, as if she were going to go with him into the portal. Turin saw the fiends eyes alight with an evil glint. For him to walk into the Infernal Plane was bad enough, but for a time he knew Abigor would keep him from the depravities that went on there. She, however, would be under no protection and fiends such as the one before them would rather enjoy what she had to offer.

Turning to her, he simply said,

"No, you must not follow. Stay with the others, and more importantly, look for Tempyst, as she is called. Deluwiel and Nica are already at the Citadel and may have already found her."

With a similar stoicism, Purgi accepted his words, and knew they rang true. Much needed to be done, no matter how bitter this parting was.

Turning back to the portal, the fiend motioned for him to hurry. As the fiend was passing through, Turin followed, but was halted by a tug. Swiftly, he turned back around and saw Purgi holding his sword in her outstretched hands. Smiling, he gently took the two-hander from her, leaned in and kissed her forhead.

Then, with a gentleness, he said,

"Worry not, and have faith. Even in this, some good may yet be worked. No matter the outcome, know that I love you and your sister, and I will see you both again. Tell our friends that I miss them and that I hope, in time, they will understand what needed to be done this day. Goodbye, my daughter."

Turning back, he stepped into the portal and was then gone, leaving nothing but ash on the floor and the tears of his daughter in it's wake.

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