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Book Three Pt 2 - The Reckoning

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Written by - Tempyst Page 25 Book 3

Kaya looked at Dorve. "I would tend to disagree with you. I think we should stay put. You heard how those others were talking out loud about what happened. If they felt that free in this place, it must be pretty much off the radar. And so far, I don't hear anyone coming after us, so I would suggest we all go back inside like we made good." She then looked at Ardwen and Turin. "Besides, if you are seeking someone Beridane is holding, they are probably in his cells, and you are talking with someone who has been there."

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn was dazed and confused, the alarm had left her head and ears ringing to such a degree she could barely focus through the pain. She managed to stand up just in time to see the man responsible for the noise come charging at her, and narrowly avoided his stroke. She swung back, but the strength behind it was weak, and the spear wobbled slightly as she tried to maintain her balance and clear her head.

She saw Teran come rushing through the door to aid Mavigan, but was so busy with her own fight she didn't see much after that. She blocked a wide swing from the guard with the midsection of the spear then attempted a kick to his shins to try and get him off his feet. It wasn't strong enough to affect him much through his armor, but it did cause him to back up and give her some more room. That was all she really needed, since the man didn't have a shield to effectively block her attacks with. She advanced on the man with a quick series of stabs, pulling the spear back just in time to avoid having it swatted away before stabbing at him again. He was dead soon after.

Keeryn stopped to try and gather the rest of her whits when she saw one of the soldiers advancing quickly on Mavigan's right. She reached down at her waist and pulled the whip that was loosely wrapped there, and with a loud crack she wrapped up the upraised wrist of the guard, who promptly dropped his weapon. She didn't have the strength to pull him back, but she was able to keep him from advancing.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm's three groups were busy handling small groups of confused cultists responding to the alarm. Stealth was no longer an option, although the three mages maintained their anti-scrying shields while also casting temporary paralysis spells at a cultist. This was a practiced maneuver that held the foe approaching the mage, allowing the warriors to deal with their own foes first before turning to deal with the mage's foe. The glow of magic and the clash of weapons rebounded off the walls as Wilhelm's forces dealt with a score of cultists.

Wilhelm's eyes began to glow as he channeled the power of the All Father. A green glow settled upon him as he imbued his armor with a divine mantle. A red pulsing glow enveloped and invigorated his forces as he chanted a battle chant. Danil and Sandra's spirits rose with the power of his noble inspiration. A white glow shown from his warhammer and shield. Blocking one cultist's attack with his shield, he crushed the skull of a second with his warhammer. Danil blocked another cultist's rush with a shield bash and then ran him through with his sword. Sandra froze another in place with a spell while maintaining her scry shield with clear effort. Danil quickly dispatched that foe as well.

Wilhelm could sense and hear his other teams accounting well for themselves. The rearguard pair was preventing anyone from making it to the entrance, with Fiernum's arrows taking anyone emerging into the rear corridor and Aldeth paralyzing any extra until Fiernum could shift aim. Resini blasted distant foes with levin bolts as his two warriors Ethan and Maeve handled any who got close, thereby preventing any from getting past them to move towards the source of the alarm.

Wilhelm shield blocked his second opponent and then dispatched him with a wraparound blow. He noticed then that Sabbatine had moved out of the room and was looking right at him. "She must be able to penetrate concealment spells," he though, "but then she is Undead and such spells likely do not work on her." Wilhelm had no further time for her, as a new wave of cultists appeared, these arriving in better order having been warned by the sound of combat.

Once again Wilhelm and Danil each moved to take on a pair, blocking one with the shield while attacking the other, while Aldeth froze another and stood chanting her scry shield. However this time a sixth cultist arrived and, moving past his frozen companion plunged his sword into her side. As she fell, Danil dispatched one foe and knocked the second towards Wilhelm and jumped to attack the last cultist before he could finish off the helpless mage.

Facing three foes, Wilhelm knocked one back with his shield parried another with his warhammer and moved to engage the third to stand by Danil. His other two foes took this opportunity to bolt past this glowing deathbringer and run up the corridor towards Sabbatine. Wilhelm turned and gestured and a glowing pillar of holy censure incinerated one of them. With a wave and a gesture he offered the other to Sabbatine and turned to assist Danil in dispatching the remaining two cultists.

Wilhelm then knelt before the stricken mage and lay his hands upon her, calling upon the All Father. A bright light spead from his hands and Aldeth's wound shrank and vanished. The pain left her face and she smiled at the paladin as he helped her to her feet. Once again she resumed her scry shield, although they all knew that the group had been exposed to detection for a time.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm's three groups were busy handling small groups of confused cultists responding to the alarm. Stealth was no longer an option, although the three mages maintained their anti-scrying shields while also casting temporary paralysis spells at a cultist. This was a practiced maneuver that held the foe approaching the mage, allowing the warriors to deal with their own foes first before turning to deal with the mage's foe. The glow of magic and the clash of weapons rebounded off the walls as Wilhelm's forces dealt with a score of cultists.

Wilhelm's eyes began to glow as he channeled the power of the All Father. A green glow settled upon him as he imbued his armor with a divine mantle. A red pulsing glow enveloped and invigorated his forces as he chanted a battle chant. Danil and Sandra's spirits rose with the power of his noble inspiration. A white glow shown from his warhammer and shield. Blocking one cultist's attack with his shield, he crushed the skull of a second with his warhammer. Danil blocked another cultist's rush with a shield bash and then ran him through with his sword. Sandra froze another in place with a spell while maintaining her scry shield with clear effort. Danil quickly dispatched that foe as well.

Wilhelm could sense and hear his other teams accounting well for themselves. The rearguard pair was preventing anyone from making it to the entrance, with Fiernum's arrows taking anyone emerging into the rear corridor and Aldeth paralyzing any extra until Fiernum could shift aim. Resini blasted distant foes with levin bolts as his two warriors Ethan and Maeve handled any who got close, thereby preventing any from getting past them to move towards the source of the alarm.

Wilhelm shield blocked his second opponent and then dispatched him with a wraparound blow. He noticed then that Sabbatine had moved out of the room and was looking right at him. "She must be able to penetrate concealment spells," he though, "but then she is Undead and such spells likely do not work on her." Wilhelm had no further time for her, as a new wave of cultists appeared, these arriving in better order having been warned by the sound of combat.

Once again Wilhelm and Danil each moved to take on a pair, blocking one with the shield while attacking the other, while Aldeth froze another and stood chanting her scry shield. However this time a sixth cultist arrived and, moving past his frozen companion plunged his sword into her side. As she fell, Danil dispatched one foe and knocked the second towards Wilhelm and jumped to attack the last cultist before he could finish off the helpless mage.

Facing three foes, Wilhelm knocked one back with his shield parried another with his warhammer and moved to engage the third to stand by Danil. His other two foes took this opportunity to bolt past this glowing deathbringer and run up the corridor towards Sabbatine. Wilhelm turned and gestured and a glowing pillar of holy censure incinerated one of them. With a wave and a gesture he offered the other to Sabbatine and turned to assist Danil in dispatching the remaining two cultists.

Wilhelm then knelt before the stricken mage and lay his hands upon her, calling upon the All Father. A bright light spead from his hands and Aldeth's wound shrank and vanished. The pain left her face and she smiled at the paladin as he helped her to her feet. Once again she resumed her scry shield, although they all knew that the group had been exposed to detection for a time.

Written by - Ariana

By the time Mavigan positioned herself in front of Teran, she was panting heavily with the effort of channeling the power. She was not trained to manipulate such power and did not have the finesse with magic that long-time practitioners and worshipers did. Instead, she was manhandling the energy, willing it to do what she wanted, but the effort was quickly draining her energy reserves. Already she could feel her muscles begin to tremble with fatigue, and she knew she could not hold it.

So, without preamble, she simply let it go. The glowing blade flickered once, twice, and then returned to its normal state.

Her arm felt like lead and she wasn’t sure she could lift it to make another strike. Backing up slightly, she planted her feet in an effort to stay upright and did the next best thing. She dropped Teran’s dagger so that it landed next to his uninjured hand.

Written by - Archeantus

He woke to darkness, his face awash in the morning sun glinting through the canopy of trees overhead. He realized long ago, his blindness was as much of a curse as it was a blessing from his god. He could feel the sun, but he could not see it. Reaching sideways for his gnarled staff, he lifted himself up and stood over, what he perceived was his sleeping friends. His sightless eyes shifted to each in turn.

Pharsalus had slept upright. His ancient gemmed eyes were dull, his stalwart frame shifted ever so slightly.

“So much has changed old friend, I can feel it within you.” Archeantus whispered softly.

The old warlock then shifted to a small figure sleeping soundly, nestled upon Pharsalus’ cool forearm. Her peaceful face shone in the morning’s sun. A sadness suddenly crept over Archeantus’ wizened face. Pharsalus had shown him what the little girl had just endured. She was now an orphan. Her family cruelly murdered before her.

“Ariel,” Archeantus said, near inaudibly, his blindfolded face shielding most of the empathy that would have existed in his one bright blue eyes. “I am an orphan as well.”

He slowly edged near her sleeping frame and knelt down and kissed her forehead. “You are not alone.” He whispered as he rose.

He then probed for Vylia, and found she was still gone, but near.

Turning, he let out a soft sigh.

It was time.

“Angellus, wake them.”

The small little spark, as if excited about the request, whisked about energetically bouncing off the stone dwarf’s face. Pharsalus woke with a start, suddenly having to frantically wave off Angellus from his face. The small little girl woke at the sudden motion.

“Old friend, I fear the time is at hand. We must be on the road before the sun crests the eastern mountains. Many are already there.” Archeantus said with a slight smile, noting something his pet must have been communicating with him about getting to awaken the sometimes cranky dwarf.

They picked up the meager belongings they could carry, ate a small breakfast, and were soon on the road. When asked about Vylia, Archeantus said she would find them; she was a highly skilled ranger after all.

Ariel, the small girl had cried when she left the only place she knew. It was only a tear, and not a word had passed through her lips, but she had strangely attached herself to the dwarf, her gentle hand in his rough stone hand as they walked. Angellus hovered about her playfully, and she seemed to enjoy it’s toying, appearing to be fascinated by the attention, keeping her young mind off of the terrible thing that had happened the day before.

It was late afternoon when the small group caught sight of the spires of New Ancora and the great walls that encased the sprawling city by the sea. The day had grown stuffy, but there was a coming chill, and clouds deepened across the blue sky.

Archeantus led them away from the road, to a shaded section where there rose a large oak. He then began to concentrate, telling the Dwarf to cover Ariel’s eyes. When the Dwarf realized what his friend was up to, eyeing to top of the battlement high overhead, he simply shook his head and was about to protest, when he began to lift from the ground. Archeantus could hear him mutter under his breath, and a slim smile formed in the shadows of his hood. He had grabbed Ariel and had shielded her wide eyes from the height they were now at. The warlock was just below them, hovering over the walls silently. When they reached the cobbled ground once more, Archeantus gasped with exertion. Pharsalus whispered a prayer, asking if he was alright. He nodded after a short pause, as he leaned upon his staff, catching his breath.

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Come,” He said “We are late. We must reach the inn. They are already there.”

Without warning, Angellus suddenly flew forward as if in silent command, obviously going to see what its master already felt.

*****

Jasmine gazed at Sabbatine after the latest push of the curse that continued to flow through her veins had happened. Her eyes viewed her undead counterpart with a sort of morbid fascination, even contentment.

She simply watched as Sabbatine too was going through some sort of reflection, both of them thinking about so much, seeing things with a clarity that startles. For the briefest of moments, she saw the female undead’s look shift, her dark eyes loosing their crazed hue. Jasmine continued to stare, getting used to seeing things die about her, and then listened to Sabbatine’s sudden chatter.

"Huxel says I'm her saint. Saint Sabbatine... sounds kinda funny doesn't it? Or does it sound nice?"

Jasmine made no reply, but continued to watch as Sabbatine went about the room, grinning and carrying weapons, and then suddenly she left. The moment she left, Jasmine whispered, “It does sound nice.”

Written by - Turin Wallace

Gripping Ardwen's hand, he pulls him up, saying,

"Glad to have you with me once more, Ardwen. I have no doubt in your skills and neither should you, old friend."

Smiling, Turin listens to what Dorve and Kaya have to say. He replies to each,

"Quite right, on both counts, to each of you. No doubt Ardwen and I caused quite a scene, however, if the innkeep has been paid to keep his mouth shut then I don't see as to why we cannot stay here a little longer. We can offer him more money, if needs be, but doubtless after he has seen the size of our group and willingness to cause trouble, he may just be smart enough to keep his silence.

Now, as for Beridane's cells, yes, now that's information we could use. Let us get back inside, relax, and get our next plan of action down. No doubt our Ariana will need us very soon."

Gathering up his robe, Turin then uses it to cover his armor. As they turn to go inside he looks to Alaric,

"Good fellow, it seems you have something there that is supposedly mine, may I inquire just what it is?"

Written by - Aethelwulf

"I believe good sir, that this is your sword" Alaric handed the bundled weapon to Turin. "It is my hope sir, that we will have an opportunity to see it wielded against the darkness once again. There is also, this letter written by one who you know well" Standing back, Alaric watched intently to gauge Turin's reaction.

Written by - Pharsalus

"Well, Mr...er, um.... Sir," Millean "Miles" Underpin started through a line of pins held firm between his lips, taking a small step back and observing his work. "I typically tailor ON manequins, not FOR them," he chuckled to himself, "but it's a good look, surely! You've good form!. There was a pause as Miles cocked his head to one side, eyeing his subject in the mirrors, and nodded his head with finality and a grin. "So? What do you think?"

Pharsalus looked at himself in the three-panel tailor's mirror. He'd walked into this place half-naked, blood stained, and overall unpleasant to behold based upon the frequency with which this man's shop sat on the surface of the minders of passers-by. It had been a long trek here, having to stay in the shadows and back alleys of businesses and homes for fear of his stone frame being noticed and drawing suspicions. But here he was still standing stiff with arms slightly outstretched, as had become habit after doing so for the past hour and a half. He liked it.

The garb Miles had put together for him was simple: a white tunic, breathably loose in the middle, sleeveless with the edges himmed with thick white thread, and plain white trousers that stopped, finely hemmed, just above his ankles. He wore a pair of white, wide-toe boots that Miles had recently taken in for repair by a local noble - they were a bit restrictive, compared to nothing at all as the old Dwarf traditionally liked, but for covering his very noticable (to all the wrong people, he figured) physique they were more than passable. Miles was even kind enough to throw together a white, long-sleeved overshirt that hung long to just above his knees and tied at his waist with a simple, gold-thread rope that knotted and the excess of which dangled in a pair off to the left of his middle.

He did like it, very much! He even caught himself smiling - how long had it been since he'd had anything professionally tailored! His smile weakened a bit as he realized for the first time in ages how slender he'd become. What the forgelings would say to him about a Son of Thurin being so "sparing"! The past two centuries away from home in the woods, training, teaching himself, learning the limits of himself in this new world - they had taken their toll. He flexed one arm, making a loose first. The runic bands about his wrists and running down the inner track of his forearms, across his back and chest, and ultimately down the inner track of his thighs and around his ankles were staunch reminders of what he'd been forced to learn, and what he silently prayed would not be needed in this new war for the honor of the Queen.

*AHEM!*

Pharsalus blinked, and forced a smile as he patted the chest of his new shirt. "By Thurin's stump, lad - it's fine! FINE work, indeed! Loose, cool, clean - 'twer metal, I'd say no less than a Dwarf's hand had ever touched it."

Miles smiled. He'd long taken the needles from his lips and now shuffled through the various blueprints and tailoring schemes lying in loose stacks. He was confident his work was satisfactory even before the strange little golum - for lack of a more accurate description - had responded. He returned to his spot directly behind the Dwarf, who stood eye-level on a stool, and brushed his hands along the tops of his shoulders and back to smooth out the wrinkles and make the final finishing adjustments.

"Yes, yes... I thought you'd like it! Your friend - the blind one - was very descriptive of your tastes. Odd thing, too - for being blind, he'd quite the eye for fashion! I was a bit worried about snags - your skin's a bit more course than most my customers, y'see - but the leather padding there should keep everything tip-top! Just try not to get it wet too often..."

The Priest nodded, hopping down from his perch. "Indeed, I'll be truely careful. I thank you for throwing in the added covering - most reasonable of you."

"No worries, little one!" Miles said with a smile as the two exited the back fitting room into the front waiting area, where sat Archeantus and young tag-along. "It is what I do. I understand well the need for some to hide in open view, if y'know what I mean. Just remember to come back if it tears or frays - I'll fix it right up, no charge!"

The Dwarf dropped a coin purse onto the desk to pay the man for his good (and timely) work, bowed slightly and thanked him again, and followed Archeantus and Ariel out into the street. If Archeantus was correct, the rest of these destined warriors were already gathering at the inn in the heart of the trade district. Pharsalus couldn't remember the name. Your memory's not what it used to be, it seems, he thought to himself with a quiet sigh.

The trio stayed beneath the awnings of shops and taverns along the way until the narrow street splintered into a four-way intersection bustling with people. The Dwarf kept Ariel close at his side and followed Arch through the throngs of bakers, travellers, sailors, merchants, guardsmen, soldiers, widows, wives, and a vast assortment of children and men shouting orders as frequently as they did obscenities. Pharsalus could sense Ariel was strangely calm. Time, and what appeared to be familiar territory, was smoothing over some of the more minor mental lesions she would be forced to mend in her time - a show of promise, he thought, of a strong young woman-to-be. They pushed forever forward, deeper and deeper into the noise and fog.

Written by - Vylia

"They're making it a spectacle for all to see," Vylia said as she slid in behind Pharsalus and the others. "I don't know how I know, but I can feel it in my gut that the event they have planned for late this afternoon will involve Ariana. I've only heard a few whispers about it, and none of them mentioned where, but if I had to guess I'd say either the castle's main courtyard, or the city square." Vylia was covered in a dark brown worn cloak from head to toe, the hood pulled far over her face. "I had to climb the walls to get in, you three took off over them before I had a chance to get close enough to ask you to wait. While in enjoyed the exercise, a bit more patience on your part would have been appreciated Archeantus," she pauses to smile for a moment, "It's nice to see some things don't change TOO much."

Written by - Archeantus

Archeantus smiled beneath his hood sensing the stone dwarf finally step out into the main section of the little known tailor shop donning his much better concealing garb.

“Much better Son of Thurin. Now I won’t have to hear all the off hand thoughts of every passerby who catches sight of you.” He teased, but they both knew concealing the otherworldly features of Pharsalus was imperative to do anything in the city.

They stepped out into the morning light of the bustling street, and began walking down amid the crowd through various intersections, all full of shops of every kind, which were full of individuals of like manner, of every walk of life.

Archeantus seemed to be communicating with his pet, for he began to lead them through the throng toward where the others were. Despite himself, Archeantus felt a pang of growing excitement. He had waited for so long, decades, centuries, eons…

"They're making it a spectacle for all to see," Said a familiar voice. "I don't know how I know, but I can feel it in my gut that the event they have planned for late this afternoon will involve Ariana. I've only heard a few whispers about it, and none of them mentioned where, but if I had to guess I'd say either the castle's main courtyard, or the city square. I had to climb the walls to get in, you three took off over them before I had a chance to get close enough to ask you to wait. While I enjoyed the exercise, a bit more patience on your part would have been appreciated Archeantus," she paused to smile for a moment then added mischievously "It's nice to see some things don't change TOO much."

The old warlock turned at the voice, realizing his thoughts had become irony. He shook his head and smiled back at the elven woman. “It seems I’ll never have enough patience. It’s true Lady Vylia. My humble apologies. If I would have known you were so close…” He said, and then added in a more grievous tone in response to her observation. “I’ve been detecting a few of the same thoughts myself from more than a few of the guards around the southern entrance. But no matter where, rest assured we’ll quickly discover the planned location, we must save her at all costs. She has a very important mission to accomplish here.”

His face grew solemn, and he then turned, seeming to hear something.

“Come, Turin has revealed himself.” He whispered, and with that, strode forward back into the masses, toward the inn down the road that bore the sign, The Wounded Lion.

Written by - Ardwen

Ardwen pulled his hood over his head again and followed Turin back inside the Wounded Lion. Turin had displayed such confidence in him, such trust. But, Ardwen doubted if he could make good on Turin's faith. Of his ability in combat Ardwen had no doubt, but when it came to rescuing Ariana, and when the time came to confront her and his past. "Well," Ardwen thought, "it will not be a good time to be Ardwen when that happens."

Ardwen was brought out of his ruminating mood by a few words from Alaric, words that just happened to mention Turin's sword and a letter. A very familiar and special letter in fact. The letter the Elf had scribed at the Citadel when he still thought Turin was dead.

"Alaric," Ardwen whispered sharply, "while I appreciate your steadfast dedication in delivering the Priest of Battle's blade, the letter is . . . not necessary."

Glancing up at Turin and practically feeling the question in the air Ardwen cleared his throat before saying quickly, "It is a mere note I penned before I knew you still lived Turin. It's a rather trite account of several sundry deeds and pensive reflections. Not really worth reading. A waste of time at this critical stage in our mission in fact."

Looking at first Alaric and then Turin again he says slowly and clearly, "I think it best if the letter is disposed of and we move on to more pressing matters, agreed?"

Written by - Pharsalus

The air was thick with heat, dew, and the scent of meat, bad wine, and a general tension so thick, it seemed to collect as a gradual stain on the Priest's new garb. The Dwarf silently cursed as men with greasy shoulders and dirt-faced children pushed and shouted and blundered their way past them. Pharsalus felt soiled for being in such a place - what isolation had done to his patience for the lower dredges of the Race of Men! He clutched tight Ariel's hand, so much so at times he feared bruising it. She said nothing, however, only walking silently, eyes clear and pointed forward, dodging and weaving like she'd walked this line all her life. The Priest looked over at her as they walked, smiling silghtly under the shadow of his white hood. Her thoughts were solid - nervous, questioning, but firm and fearless.

"Stay close, lass," he said reassuringly as their gazes met. "The tavern is only just head - we'll soon sit, enjoy a drink, and find out what all this messy business is all about!" She nodded and smiled bashfully. Pharsalus could feel on the surface of her mind she'd still not fully warmed to the idea of following a piece of lawn decor around - her grip on the Dwarf's hand was tentative, still very unused to such a stone solid grip. He returned his view forward, stepping up his pace a bit to keep up with the much longer legg'ed Warlock.

Eventually, the throng pealed away like a curtain of flesh and heat and revealed a wide, brightly lit intersection of two brown and slate cobblestone roads that, as far as Pharsalus could tell, had no names. A wide wooden sign, split across the middle from the left side hung tired on clinking, iron chains: The Wounded Lion.

Gah! The Wounded Lion, the Priest cursed, pressing his eyes shut for a moment in visible frustration. So simple a name! By my Father, I've a lot of meditation to do when this is over! Simply unacceptable!

The entry way was lit on either side by tarnished brass oil lamps as old as the establishment itself and whose tired, yellow light was held in tight circles around its sources, smothered by the weight of the haze of morning industry. The door to the place, like everything else about it, looked aged and soured; long, wide strips of knotted, weathered woodgrain showed through what remained of faded green and gold paint, and the hinges ground and whined in shrill protest as what the priest perceived as tavern regulars - and some not so regular - filed in for their first cap of the day. Archeantus was the first to cross the thresh hold, pushing the door open and holding it until Pharsalus could catch it with his free arm. He loosened his grip on Ariel and allowed her to go in ahead of him. Vylia followed up the rear, though Pharsalus had to probe her mentally to confirm it was her - in typical rogue fashion, she was very well conceiled, and he appreciated her for it. He turned to address Arch - the boy had paused to take in the scene.

"Take Ariel and find yourself somewhere secluded to sit until we can meet these compatriots of ours." Pharsalus had turned his attentions to the flask in his sash, which he'd clumsily retrieved. "I simply must fill my flask with water! Would you like anythi...?" Arch had already left him, moving deeper into the room, dodging patrons and oveturned chairs with a confidense and grace no mere blind man could. "Well, my dear Vylia," he said as he turned to a woman that was most definitely not the Ranger. "Oh! Bother - I beg a pardon, madame! I thought you were somone else" The portly woman wondered at him - Pharsalus ducked down his head. "I'll...uhm...just go on about my way, hmm?" He struck out cautiously across the room, small crystal flask tight in his grip, his head low and well hidden beneath the hood of his shirt.

He eventually, after several nervous encounters, reached the high edge of the barkeep's counter. He could barely see over the top of it, and he almost startled at the sheer size of the man standing on the other side. He was very bald, very tall, and of mountainous girth about the middle. He leaned forward onto his elbows and smiled.

"We', wot canna' getcha', li'l one?" His breath was quite rank.

"Water only, please, to fill my flask." Pharsalus offered up his flask to the awestruck barkeep and placed a coin awkardly on the counter.

"By the... tha's a real piecea' work, ye' go'ther!" the Man-Ogre continued as he ladled water, best he could, into the small crystal piece.

"Thank you," Pharsalus replied, trying not to to sound as rattled as he felt. "I... I made that myself, actually, years ago - was something of a talent of mine." The man handed him back his flask and scraped the coin along the surface of the counter, letting it fall with a soft clink into his apron pocket.

"Fine work, sah', truely!" A shout resounded from the rear of the place, presumably from the kitcen. The barkeep rolled his eyes. "'F you'll excuse me."

Pharsalus had already started his way back across the room. He stopped, as his mind lit up with a sudden pang of worry. He didn't immediately recognizing it, looking about him - as far as a man of his stature could - and seeing nothing immediately out of the ordinary. It wasn't until several more paces and the turn of a corner that he realized its source: Ariel!

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya pulled her hood back over her head and followed Dorve back into The Wounded Lion. Already her mind was going over what she recalled of Beridane's cells. They found their way back to their table, sat down, waiting for their new companions.

"Hey Dorve, look, seems like you are not alone here." Kaya pointed over to a new set of customers that had walked in.

"Hmm, mighty interesting looking dwarf he is. Wonder what brings him to this hole in the wall, he seems dressed too fine for such a cultured place." Dorve chuckled and stroked her beard. She sighed, keeping an eye on the new figure, wishing she was back home. Dorve clutched her staff, which she had managed to disguise as a normal walking stick instead of the full bloomed elder staff it was. That would surely give me away, even though I hate to do it my friend, but it was a necessity.

"Dorve, did you hear me?" Kaya looked at the dwarf.

"Oh, I'm sorry lass, I must have drifted for a moment. Now what would you be saying?"

"I was saying that it won't be easy getting into the cells, and if you could sense if there were any oaks or trees or anything still inside his compound that could help us."

"Ah, well, there is an oak within his compound, but I do not know how safe it would be to go through it, it may be guarded or trapped even."

"Hmm, well we shall see what these others want to do. I will say though, I am a bit disappointed that it was this Ardwen and not some demon who wrote taht name on the building. I know I should be glad, but I am getting antsy. I want to do waht I am not trained to do instead of just sitting on my ass. And if Beridane has this lady Ariana held prisoner, and she is as important as these people seem to make her out to be, I would suspect he has plans for her, and I bet it concerns his new hobby of demons." She looked up, noticing that the others were approaching. Taking a sip of her now warm ale, Kaya waited for them to sit down so they could share their knowledge and form some sort of a plan to rescue this Ariana.

Written by - Archeantus

Archeantus stepped through the doorway, holding it for his comrades, despite his eagerness to step forward and find his long lost friends. He stopped once he knew Pharsalus, Ariel, and Vylia had passed through, and took in the scene, with every last sense he possessed. He heard, smelt, and perceived everything, taking it all in, finally at the moment he’d dreamt of since the day he’d lost them. A wave of memories suddenly flooded his hungry mind. Memories of Aerynth, of Ancora, of the smell of the eastern sea, of the view from the battlements when the sun set, of the incomparable taste of a hot juicy cheese biscuit, of Trynian, Kiera, Boradamir, Turin, Aethelwulf, Wilhelm, Ezekiel, Alariel, of Ariana, and of Saint Lorne. Laughter, mutterings, thoughts, every sip of ale, every smile, scowl, stare, all were felt and experienced by the aged warlock. He was sitting now, having unconsciously obeyed Pharsalus’ request to take the youthful Ariel to a secluded table. His mind continued to race, to remember, and finally began to probe. He could feel them, they were so near he could….

Archeantus’ head turned suddenly, his blindfolded face centered on a dark figure who had suddenly appeared before him, back turned, facing the young Ariel. He had caught the man’s thoughts in the river of information he’d been taking in, they held nothing but dark intentions. The man’s sweaty hand had grabbed her, he felt her sudden apprehension, he could see her frightened eyes in his sharp mind. Without a moment’s hesitation, he entered the large drunken man’s mind, and shortly found what he sought: his deepest fear.

To the patrons of the tavern, the dull sound of conversation was rudely interrupted by a loud outburst from a dark corner. A large obese man, belly protruding out of his greasy shirt, toppled over a table, sending goblets of ale and their contents slashing everywhere, yelling at the top of his lungs,

“PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGS! PIIIGS EVVVVVERYWHERE! AAAAAAHHHG!!!! HOOOGS!!”

He proceeded to crash into whatever was in the way, seeming to dodge unseen things, screaming fanatically on his way to the exit. Bursting out the door, the patrons sat in silence as they heard him scream down the street.

A soft light faded from the recesses of the Archeantus' hood, a slight grin on his shadowed lips.

Written by - Pharsalus

"PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGS! PIIIGS EVVVVVERYWHERE! AAAAAAHHHG!!!! HOOOGS!!" pierced, and for several moments silenced, the clinking steins, music, and murmur of conversation in the The Wounded Lion as Pharsalus came into view of the scene. He stopped his advance and rolled back and to his side, stumbling into a chair, as he avoided the oncoming patron; his hands clutched his tempals as he continued to scream, desparately fleeing the unseen force that assailed him. The Priest continued forward, pushing through curious patrons - many of whom laughed and jeered as the man ploughed toward and out the tavern door - toward where Ariel was standing. He slowed as he approached, seeing a horrible, blank stare stricken into her porceline face. In an instant, he knew what had happened, and he burned with a heat he almost feared to admit - The wretched bastard, he thought, as he pulled one of her hands from her chest and gently tugged her to a seat.

Archeantus sat in the shadow of the corner table; it didn't take their special connection to know what had occurred. The priest would have chuckled were he not wholly focused on ensuring no further damage was done to the poor girl's psyche from such an incident.

"Pay these heathens no mind, lass," he said as comfortingly as possible - he wasn't doing a very good job of masking his frustration at the whole ordeal. This was no place for her, but where else was she to go? She still wouldn't speak, and he dared not violate the inner recesses of her fragile mind to find the answers himself. No - she was in his charge, until she was strong enough to return to whatever family she had left. He continued pouring serene thoughts and visions into the back of her mind. After several moments, he felt her hand relaxed, and she finally took an uneasy seat on the edge of Archeantus's booth. She was still wide-eyed. She was still scared out of her wits.

Pharsalus brought up and uncorked his flask, holding it in front of her. "Here - drink. It'll calm the nerves and rinse the fear from your mouth." Ariel turned a distant gaze to him, slowly reaching for and finally taking the small crystal bottle. She tilted it back hesitantly, still uncertain why she was still associating with this ambulatory statuary. Pharsalus smiled as he sensed her confusion at how cold the water was on her lips. "What did I say, hm? Fresh and cool! It will empower you better than any alochol ever could, so long as its had from that flask."

Ariel took another drink. She had almost completely relaxed now, and the length of her gaze returned to its place within the space of the tavern.

Pharsalus took his first moment to look around. The air was heavy with serpentile clouds of pipe smoke and the thick scent of cooking meat, foreign coffee, and seasonings of several varieties. It was a smaller room than he'd originally suspected: the tables in the center fanned out about five or six paces from the door, going all the way to the back of the room in a column two to three tables wide and no more than six deep. The edges were lined with small, candle-lit nooks in which were afixed stationary tables and benches of fine - but worn - planks of fir wood. Or perhaps it was pine. Pharsalus was never very good at identifying wood. He finally took a seat on the edge of the bench, Ariel sliding over closer to the young Warlock to make room.

"There are strangers here, lad," the Dwarf said after several moments of silence, "the kind too strong of will and lavishly equipped to frequent the likes of his place." As he spoke, he nodded slightly to a table not far from where they currently sat. There were two men there, and the old priest picked up the distinct feeling that a third would very soon be joining them. He continued watching them as they talked, sometimes laughing, sometimes bearing a stern look of concern and focus, shifting in their seats - they weren't very comfortable, if this bench was any indication. They were Elves, of sorts, as Pharsalus could make out the ears and the slight builds and that haughty mental signature that only Elves had. But these were not like Elves like those in the Old World - or so he didn't think. His feelings were terribly confused by this pair - his eyes told him they were elves, as did his gut. Elves of this new world. But they were tinged with a familiarity, like a mark of birth, that made the Dwarf's mind pang with want of home.

Aerynth, his mind wandered,

Abbess... He closed his eyes in quiet meditation.

Father. He dozed off, upright in his seat.

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