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Book Two - A Gathering Storm

Written by - Aethelwulf Page 13 Book 2

Alaric stood silent as he watched the conflicted elf struggle with what ever daemons he carried within. A cloud seemed to cross the beserkers face and tears slowly welled up in his darkened eyes till a lone drop of sorrow made its way down the elf's cheek.

Frowning, Alaric listened as Ardwen spoke his apology with a sudden heat and intensity. The clouds seemed to be lifted from his face, as he spoke, replaced with what Alaric thought was a glint of steely resolve.

Alaric opened his mouth to speak, but before he could utter words of forgiveness and comfort, Ardwen spun off, and marched away.

Motioning to Lao, Alaric whispered to her in quick hushed tones, and then turned to mount his steed. Spurring the mount forward, he moved to catch Ardwen before he joined Lord Ithramir's party.

"Hold friend!" He called out to Ardwen. "I have something for you! HOLD!"

Ardwen pulled in the reins slightly, and brought his mount to a halt. Alaric knew the tension that he sensed in the elf's frame; he had lived long enough around war and warriors to know that this Ardwen was ready to spill blood.

Pulling up beside Ardwen, Alaric did not speak at first, but eyed the tense lines in Ardwens drawn face.

"Know this elf. I have read of your name in Turin Lord Wallace's diary, although, I never made the connection til now that those words spoke of you. Know this as well, Laird Aethlwulf brought with him something else besides the diary. Indeed, a weapon was found, impaling the book against an oak. A mighty weapon" Alaric felt Lao's mount come up beside him, and turning to her, he took a leather wrapped object from her hand. Nodding to her thanks, he then slowly unwrapped the item.

Around them marched past an army, a vast river of steel and leather, but where the three of them paused, time seemed to come to a standstill. Lao's eyes glittered as she watched her Lord unwrap the weapon, for she had not ever seen this relic, but indeed knew of its power.

Slowly removing the last of the leather wrap, Alaric at last held fast in his hand a sword.

Ardwen's eyes took in the ornately sheathed weapon and recognized it as a gothic greatsword, forged not by hands of this world, but by the hands of dwarven smiths in a another world all togather.

Grasping the sheath in one hand, and the sword's gold gilded hilt in his other, Alraic slowly pulled the great sword out, pausing as a tri circle symbol was revealed inlaid into the hilt. Alraic's eyes flashed to Ardewn's face, and smiled slightly at the rapt attention he saw there.

With a swift movement, Alaric pulled the sword out into the light of day, the sun's rays flashing along the runic inlaid blade. Ardwen's eyes gleamed as he beheld the ancient blade of power.

"Ardwen, behold! This is the Blade of Turin, Lord Wallace. The very sword that he carried, and the very sword that Aethelwulf brought with him to this land!" Quickly resheathing it, Alaric handed the sword to Ardwen.

"I believe sir, that Aethelwulf, and dare I say, Lord Wallace, would be honored if you were to carry this weapon into battle this day. And one other thing", Alaric paused, "Aethelwulf journeyed back to your time and land to deliever a message, and indeed has yet to return to THIS time and to THESE lands."

With those words, Alaric then spun around and hurried off to take his place at the head of the Royal Guard, with Lao quickly in tow, leaving Ardwen to ponder the weapon that he held in his hands.

Written by - Wilhelm

The Druid rested his hands upon his staff, which stood taller than Tempyst's and bore oak leaves and blossoms. He gazed intently at Tempyst's staff and then at her. Tempyst felt an alternating series of feeling so warmth and chill, like the seasons of the year cycling very quickly, both in her staff and her body and knew that the Elder was reading both her staff and herself. Then she felt an inner glow and a sense of euphoria as her inner channel to Nyrondis was touched. The Druid nodded and then looked intently at Lucant, who was startled by this series of warmth and chill then a prolonged warmth on his skin where the mark fo the tree had formed, followed by a rush of euphoria seemingly centered inside him that grew stronger. He felt a distinct sence of approval both from within and from without. The feelings faded as the Druid turned his attention to the sword. As the sword grew warm in Lucant's hands, the Druid appeared startled, exclaiming softly,

"Has it truly come to this?"

The Druid regained his composure and nodded first to Lucant and then to the sword. He then said to Tempyst,

"Be welcome to this Conclave, Tempyst Whisperling of the Deepshadow Glen, Forsaken Druidess. I am Dalomir, Elder Druid of this Conclave. The Forsaken are always welcome to return to the Conclave, but I fear your stay here will be brief. Nyrondis still has plans for you before you may rest and sink roots. While I understand the urgency of your mission to deliver A’lanthear, remember that urgency can mean rapidity of action but it does not preclude proper behaviour."

Dalomir then turned to address Lucant.

"Be welcome to this Conclave, Lucant Dolvan of Almurad, Chosen of A’lanthear. And welcome as well to you, A’lanthear, Demonslayer of Nyrondis. It has been over a century since a Demonhunter trod these grounds, and while I welcome you here I fear the cause for your presence. Come with me to the Circle at the Sacred Grove, the High Druid will need to speak to you and your initiation must take place before you leave. Come with me."

Dalomir ordered an initiate to go prepare the Circle, and he ran off towards the grove. Dalomir then turned and walked towards the grove, accompanied by the other initiate who gestured to the started Lucant and Tempyst that they should follow behind.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst listened to Dalomir's words. She knew she could have ruined everything just because she did not keep a clear head about her. As the chill and warmth circulated through her body, she closed her eyes, feeling all the seasons of her past cycle through to the present. When she saw Lucant's face, she knew the same was happening to him and hoped it would not disturb him too much. The first time being read like this could be unsettling.

As the Elder Druid turned to lead them to the circle, one hand claspsed her staff tightly, and the other clasped Lucant's hand once more. Once her skin touched his, all worry went by the wayside. But the word still Demonhunter rang through her head. She smiled warmly at Lucant and pulled him along after Dalomir and the initiate.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm and Mavigan and the rest left the stables, Keeryn still clutching her new spear, and came to the plaza between the keep and the stables where the kitchen staff had already set up tables of party treats and liquid refreshments, with decorations hung from the trees (including parti-colored lanterns). Even now more of the staff were emerging from the kitchen's outside door laden with goodies.

Greetings and well wishes were called out to Mavigan from all and sundry. Musicians began setting up and then began to play and lively dancing music filled the plaza. One of the Citadel Mages cast illusions upon the plaza fountain, causing the stone dolphins to seem to leap and play. A Druid spoke to the bushes and trees and fragrant flowers bloomed everywhere. The Gardener presented Mavigan and the other ladies with flowers for their hair. A pair of jugglers began a complicated series with eight balls between them. A board was set up against a tree and folk began a game of throwing daggers at the board to score points. The head musician came to Mavigan and asked if she had any requests. Wilhelm left her to enjoy herself and went over to sample the goodies himself.

Among the party goers were nearly all of the Queen's Guard, except those on this watch's duty who stood at the edges of the plaza. There was plenty of security in case of trouble. Wilhelm could see a human delegation arriving from the Ancoran Quarter bearing their own presents for their Queen along with Port Westgale style food and ale. After pickup up some pastries, Wilhelm saw that there was even a group of Dwarves with a table of kegs of Dwarven ale. Wilhelm greeted them and received a large mug of the brew to sample.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Overwhelmed by the gravity of what had just happened, Lucant stood lost in thought until Tempyst took his hand. He immediately came to his senses as she pulled is arm in a suggestion to follow. "Lead me true, my heart," he whispered softly.

Upon reaching the sacred grove, A'lanthear spoke to him once more. "The time has finally arrived, master. You need stand alone no longer."

Written by - Wilhelm

The Elder Druid led them into the Sacred Grove of ancient oak trees and the path ended at a circular clearing where twelve large oaks surrounded a massive and ancient oak tree. In front of each oak stood an Initiate holding a robe that appeared to be made of leaves and vines. The party stopped and the Initiiate gestured for Lucant and Tempyst to kneel, wheich they did. The Elder Druid bowed to the central tree and raised his hands. The leaves on the trees rustled, yet there was no wind. The Druid spoke.

"In the name of Nyrondis I bring before the Circle a candidate for initation."

Twenty Elder Druids stepped out from inside their oaks and were garbed by their Initiate. Dalomir's Initiate came to him and garbed him inn his own robe, and then Dalomir took his place in front of his tree. It seemed to Lucant that the trees themselves bent inwards. (Tempyst knew that this was actually the case.) The Eldest Druid stepped forward from the central oak and raised his hands.

"In the name of Nyrondis, I, Ceredan, High Druid of this Conclave, welcome to the Sacred Glade the candidate Lucant Dolvan of Almurad, Chosen of A’lanthear Demonslayer, and soulmate of Tempyst Whisperling of the Deepshadow Glen, Forsaken Druid.

After the battle between Avendor and Slaktor began because of Slaktor’s violation of Kaia’hanas, much healing needed to be done by all. As Kaia’hanas mental and physical wounds healed, she could still see the scars of her attack upon the land that she loved. She could also see the unbalance, the battle between the gods were causing and knew a protector had to be set in place, to keep the world her children so loved safe and protected. She called upon her youngest child, Nyrandis, who had her compassion, but his father’s view of duty. She bestowed upon Nyrandis the duty of watching over the lands of her beloved elves, to keep them in harmony and balance. She knew Foesta’s hatred would push her to do anything to enact revenge, even destroying the land their children all lived upon.

Nyrandis pledged to his mother that he would forever keep the balance of the natural world, making sure the land upon which her children lived would always be able to provide for them and that those who dared to upset the balance would feel his wrath. Nagarren knew that just watching the land would not be enough and bestowed upon Nyrandis the ability to call upon and use the secrets of the land itself to heal.

Nyrandis kissed his mother goodbye and fell to the earth, where he was reborn from a giant oak tree, a tree that had rooted upon the very spot his mother’s first tears fell upon the world. He called upon the winds to carry from this mighty oak the seeds of those that would bring forth others to heed his call and come forth to help him in his crusade to keep the land whole and in balance. These acorns were scattered across the world, and when needed, one of Nyrandis’s children is born to help carry the weight of his task. So was Tempyst born as Nyrandis's child and grew to be reborn as a Druid of Nyrondis.

But Nyrondis had two parents, and his father Avendor bestowed upon Nyrondis a second secret duty of watching for and combatting demons or other unnatural entities that sought to upset the natural balance and harm the land and its peoples. And so Nyrondis asked of Ulfin, the god of smithing, that Ulfin make for him weapons capable of fighting demons. Ulfin labored long and created the Demonslayers, sentient swords capable of detecting and slaying demons when wielded by their chosen swordbearer, who are known as Demonhunters.

At such a time as Nyrondis senses a demonic intrusion onto the land he sends a Demonslayer to a new Druid is is reborn holding the Demonslayer and charged with the mission to delivering the sword to its Chosen swordbearer, and then bonding with and aiding the Demonslayer against the demonic foe. And so was Tempyst reborn with A’lanthear in her arms and she did indeed deliver the sword to Lucant and bond with him."

At this the High Druid smiled at them, as they both blushed.

"Demons are rare in this world and it has been over a century since a Demonhunter trod this ground. But Nyrondis confirms to me that the need is again upon the world. The Demonhunter hunts the demon with the help of the Demonslayer, but the Druid soulmate must also be present to guard the soul of the Demonhunter from demonic possession as well as to aid and heal the Demonhunter. Thus this is a lifelong mission for both of you. Do you, Lucant Dolvan of Almurad, of your own free will, accept the duty of Demonslayer and bearer of A’lanthear and accept as your soulmate Tempyst Whisperling of the Deepshadow Glen?"

Lucant looked at Tempyst, their hands still clasped, and smiled. He turned to ther High Druid and said is a resonant voice "I do!"

The High Druid bowed to Lucant and Lucant felt a growing and approving warmth within. The High Druid turned to Tempyst and said,

"Do you, Tempyst Whisperling of the Deepshadow Glen, of your own free will, accept the duty of aiding this Demonhunter and the Demonslayer A’lanthear and accept as your soulmate Lucant Dolvan of Almurad?"

Tempyst smiled at Lucant through tears of happiness and replied "I do!"

"Then I name you soulmates and charge you, Lucant, with the duty of Demonslayer, to bear A’lanthear and protect the land against deminic intrusion, and you Tempyst with the duty of aiding Lucant and protecting his soul from possession. Look now into each others eyes and reach inside to feel the soulbond between you. each of you now guards the soul of the other through this link. And now, Lucant, with the help of Tempyst and A’lanthear, reach inside for the link to Nyrondis and be initiated as Demonhunter of Nyrondis!"

Lucant and Tempyst looked deeply into each other's eyes and felt the soulbond between them and their hearts beatign in perfect unison. They felt A’lanthear join and strengthen this link and then Lucant felst that inner warmth open to become a channel and through that channel he felt a great rapture of approval and they both heard a deep internal voice say,

"Well done my Demonhunter and my Druid, Forsaken no longer. Lucant now is your Conclave and your charge. I am well pleased with you both and welcome you into my service. You are sorely needed for I have detected a demonic possession that even now approaches with the mission of slaying Ithramir, my father's Avatar. Go now and join the festival now taking place, that you may have a moment of celebration, for tonight you must ride out to reach Ithramir and protect him from this demon. A’lanthear will guide you there and locate the demon. Together you must excorcise that demon if you can, for the possessed woman is innocent, but if need must be you must stop her no matter the cost. Go now with my blessing."

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Just as A'lanthear had said, Lucant stood alone no longer. For the first time in many long years, he was truly happy. He was certain now that , for better or for worse, he would not meet the fate that his parents had; that he had found something greater than himself; that he had found love true and everlasting. Overcome with joy, he took Tempyst in his arms once more. Looking in her eyes, he whispered to her "I just met you today...but it feels like I've known you for ages after one day. I love you, now and forever, my heart." Paying no heed to the druids around them, the two kissed passionately.

The pair rose to their feet and Lucant addressed the Council. "Masters, I am forever in your debt. Fear not for the fate of Lord Ithramir. We shall see that he remains safe and that Nyrondis' will is done." The two bowed before the Council and headed off down Temple Row to find the festival.

Bathed in the warm golden glow of the setting sun, Lucant saw a familiar face exiting the Temple of Avendor. "Master Audun!" he yelled, quickly garnering the elf's attention. "Not you two again..." Audun said, frustrated at his luck. Smiling at the guard, Lucant responded "I do apologize for what happened earlier, but it was beyond our control. I assure you, we will not bother you anymore after this." Audun frowned noticably at Lucant's words. "Master Audun, would you be so kind as to show us to the festival? I give you my word that this is the last request we shall make of you." Audun, wanting to get rid of the two as quickly as possible, responded "You mean Her Majesty's birthday party. I overheard some people talking about it on the way here. If you promise to keep to yourselves I will show you there." Lucant nodded in agreement and took Tempyst's hand as he followed Audun towards the magnificent citadel of Lothiel-Gadith.

After a short walk - Audun took numerous short-cuts - the party arrived at the kitchen's doors. "Now do behaive yourselves." Audun pleaded as he bid them good ridance. "Thank you again, Master Audun." Lucant said as he opened the door for Tempyst. The room was empty at the moment and Lucant was glad to have a moment's peace. It was not to last though, as the kithen door opened once more.

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn was still astounded by the gift Mavigan had given her. She could tell as soon as she lifted it off the ground that this was truly a magnificent weapon, not just beautiful, but truly made by a master. The wood was of a type she had never seen before, and the spearhead shone so brilliantly in the available light it would almost be a shame to use it in battle, but Keeryn knew with certainty that it would strike truer than any weapon she had ever used before. She followed the group as they headed to the party in Mavigan's honor, but she couldn't for the life of her think of a gift to give her.

She had heard Wilhelm's words very clearly, calling her a royal bodyguard, and while it wasn't something she had intended, or been seeking, she realized that she was more than willing to protect Mavigan with her life. Not just because she considered her a friend, but for another reason she couldn't explain, something in her soul told her it was her true purpose, perhaps why she alone had been saved.

As the party got started Keeryn quietly grabbed a few things to eat before leaning lazily against the wall behind Mavigan's seat, her new spear held tip to the ground in her right hand as she continued to try to think of a gift to give in return.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst felt as if she were going to burst. She knew of nothing that could make this moment any better. She listened to the story of Nyrondis, then beamed with pride as the High Druid performed the ceremony uniting she and Lucant together forever. She looked over to Lucant and could see the new glow about him, could see that he too now knew the love and joy of life. The two of them listened to the charge Nyrondis himself had now given them and when he said she was Forsaken no longer, she burst into tears and held onto Lucant tightly, knowing her life had truly just begun.

"I just met you today...but it feels like I've known you for ages after one day. I love you, now and forever, my heart." Tempyst kissed her soulmate deeply, letting everything she had ever felt for this man shine through.

When they parted for breath she whispered back, "I would have known you even if I had not dreamt of you and now, dreams will be nothing compared to what we have. You have always been and forever will be in my heart and soul. Know that I love you, my life is yours." Tempyst then turned to the conclave and gave them her thanks, but she and Lucant quickly left, unable to enjoy the celebration here with the other druids. They had to find a few minutes to enjoy each other, for as Nyrondis had said, they had little time before they needed to be off and find Ithramir.

She smiled seeing Audun's exhausted look, but kept quiet, enjoying the touch of Lucant's hand in hers as they were led back to the citadel. SHe could see the look of relief on his face when they parted ways. Tempyst stepped through the door Lucant held open and as soon as they entered, she threw her arms about him once more and kissed him with longing and passion.

Their kiss was interrupted by the sound of a door slamming, then the exasperated voice rang out. "Hey! What do we have here? You two don't belong in here. What are you tyring to do, get some of the goodies before M'Lady Mavigan gets them? I think not. Now Shoo! Get back to the party, the food will get there when it gets there." Tempyst blushed deeply, biting her lower lip. She looked back up at Lucant who was looking a bit flustered.

"Yes ma'am, we will get out of your way." Lucant quipped. Then in one hand he took Tempyst's hand and in the other he swipped a small cake as they wisked out the other door. They were met with laughter and music, a room filled with people neither of them knew. Lucant led Tempyst to a semi-secluded corner and then offered her the small cake. "For you my love."

Tempyst smiled. "For us." She reached out with a finger to take a taste of the shimmering delicacy. She was suddenly pushed forward as a large man crashed into her, forcing the cake up and into Lucant's face. The man apologized then went back to dancing, while Tempyst could hardly contain her laughter seeing her new husband covered with frosting and fruit.

Written by - Archeantus

Jasmine awoke to a slight pain in her hand. She knew she had been healed, but not completely. She felt much better, in fact. The terrible pain of guilt, built up for years felt as if it were unraveling. She could feel the soft warmth of hope. Yet in that moment, she closed her eyes and remembered. She was dying. She rose to sit in her cell, looking out beyond, to freedom. Death did not scare her, freedom terrified her. This small little space, closed off from the world was the only place the legendary assassin had felt at peace in a long time. She was safe in this cell. It protected them, the world, from her, and what she was capable of. Or...was it her being protected from the world...thoughts began to emerge, her mind came into focus...what of Teran...

What did he plan, and why does he need m--

She paused in sudden understanding.

"Him."

He wanted her help to find him. It all made sense. A sense of callousness swept over her. Why the hell did she care what she did? She was dying, cursed, and it--her eyes focused suddenly on the crystal that held the cell shut--was all his doing. A calm anger ran slowly through her viens. He had planned her demise. He had used her. He left without a thought. Ever since the beginning, when he had sliced her hand from her forearm, he had plotted to use her, promising the one thing that would exploit her. But why, and did he know she would fail?

She suddenly stood, hearing voices down the corridor. Both were voices she recognized, the woman, Lithwyn, and Teran. She came to the bars and crained her head toward the conversation. Her keen hearing could not make out what they were saying, but she knew, her fate, her course, for good or ill, was soon to walk down the corridor and look her in the face.

Written by - Teran

"Honestly, do you really think saying 'Oops I meant my plans' is enough to cover up your slip? You've already revealed part of your plot and you cannot take it back. I'm not sure that Jasmine should be released at this time, especially not to, pardon me for saying this, but a complete stranger. She infiltrated this citadel and still may be a threat to those who occupy it. Namely Queen Mavigan."

Glancing around behind him, down the hall of cells, she is satisfied with the view of the raven haired beauty safely locked behind bars. Putting her hands on her hips, she measures him, though not entirely unfriendly.

"Lady Lithwyn, pardon me for being so blunt but I do not believe your suspicions are founded in reason." He smiles easily slipping back into a friendlier attitude "I have done nothing to deserve this hostility."

"Hostility? How so? Surely you realize I am moderately intelligent and can make simple deductions. I simply meant to make sure you and I had an understanding regarding the prisoners of Lothiel-Gadith."

Hmmm... a slippery one, this one. But what is he hidding? Blast it, he hasn't actually said anything for me to determine if he's lying or not. Frowning inwardly, the smile never leaves her lips as she tries to keep him at ease.

Ahh but she is no longer a prisoner." Teran explains "she has been released into my care."

"What?! By whom exactly?" Turning around, she glares at a guard on duty. The guard, dumbfounded, only holds up his hands, shaking his head.

"Ithramir of course!" the assassin replies.

Turning back to look at him, surprised by the answer, she snorts in disbelief. Calling into herself, to her Goddess, she seeks the truth behind his words. Sighing, realizing he, at least, believes what he says, she can only nod wearily. Even as she accepts his word for truth, someone mentions Agmund's approval of her release.

"Well, I suppose Ithramir had other matters on his mind instead of you. And if Agmund thought it wise... " Frowning a bit now, glancing back and forth from Teran to the now approaching Jasmine, she wonders out loud...

"What are your plans? I assume you fight on the side of what is good and right, your actions have shown thus. I also assume your use for Jasmine will involve finding those that hired her. Is there some way I can help you, then?"

Teran shrugs helplessly "I'm not entirely sure what you are able to do for us."

"Well, is there any supplies or equipment you might need? Will you need one of our soldiers or rangers to accompany you on your journey? I'm sure we can provide you with two horses with no trouble."

Motioning up the stairs, she leads the way out of the dark tunnel as they talk.

"I would prefer to keep things light" he murmurs "Though some basic supplies and the horses would be very helpful. I will also need a place to sleep this evening for Jasmine and myself."

The assassin purposefully didn't specify one bedroom or two.

"Certainly, with the recent exodus from the citadel, we have more than enough room. I'm sure we can find suitable rooms... though perhaps a room with two beds? I think I'd be more comfortable if someone had an eye on her the entire evening. At least until she was out of reach of Lady Mavigan."

Glancing back, she continues, "Will you be attending dinner this evening? Of course, I do not think Jasmine should be present, or anywhere near the feast even. I do have a few well trusted female guards who could... erm... watch her."

Teran nods "I'm sure whatever you feel is apropriate will suffice." he says referring to the room(s) "and I'm sure your guards will do a fine job watching her. I will come to dinner if I am invited." he finishes simply.

The assassin seems rather relaxed, willing to do as Lady Lithwyn wishes in matters pertaining to the stronghold so long as she does not attempt to bar his leaving.

"Of course you are invited. It is Queen Mavigan's birthday, and you DID saver her life. I'd imagine she'd like to see you one last time before you left."

Emerging from the stairwell, she makes a request of the guard standing just outside the doorway. Shortly, a pair of patrol-women return and guide Jasmine to the specified room near Lithwyn's own room. About to head toward the dining hall, she glances down and realizes she is still in armor.

"Pardon me, Teran, but I must leave you for now. Duty calls, and its request requires more formal dress." Flashing a smile, she motions in the direction of the hall. "It is just around the corner there, I'm sure you will be able to hear the feasting as you approach. Unless you have any urgent requests, I will see you shortly."

Teran nods "Farewell for now Lady Lithwyn" he smiled warmly.

Pulling her cloak back, she curtsies and returns his smile easily before turning and heading towards her room.

Written by - Renalis

Crystal could see the yound ladies faces light up. They were excited for the moment and right they should be. Keeryn with her new spear was the new royal bodyguard and Mavigan with all her gifts led the way to the kitchen. Still leaning against the door, Crystal straightened out and bowed as Mavigan passed. As the remaining of the entourage left the stables Crystal followed shortly behind.

As they entered the large hall, the place was absolutly alive with activity. It had been a long time since Crystal had been to a party and this was definitly one hell of a party. Mavigan took her place at the head table and Keeryn leaned on the wall beside her. Guards properly placed at all entry points still didn't take away from the party as everyone else in the Citadel must have been here.

Crystal approached the table to finally formally introduce herself to Mavigan. She took a knee and began to speak, "Lady Mavigan, heir to the throne and Queen of Ancora, I am Crystal Dalamar, wife to Renalis Dalamar and foreigner to these lands. Indeed I am a foreigner to this world but my husband and I have come to find ourselves on this world during our travels and in seeing that our services can be of aid to you and your people we seek to lend our support. He rides with the combined armies as we speak. I on the other hand have remained here to give you one final gift for your birthday. I, Crystal Dalamar, priestess of Elune pledge myself to you. I am skilled in many skills you may find useful and I am here to protect you and to help you in any way I can."

Seeing the less than excited look on Mavigan's face in lieu of the seriousness brought upon her birthday party Crystal leans forward to whisper what only Mavigan could hear, "I will teach you all manner of skills to aid you in the coming trials, even if some would rather a lady to not know." Crystal withdrew and assumed an honouring kneeling position, head low but realized all too late that the note Renalis left her had slipped out and landed on Mavigan's foot. Unable to move until commanded to, she could only wait for Mavigan's response.

****

Renalis saw Ardwen withdraw after all was said and done, "He needs time..." Renalis throught to himself before retiring from the meeting and entering one of the unfull tents for as much sleep as possible.

Renalis awoke the next day well before most, unable to rest well he stepped out of the tent and saw Ardwen still where they left him the other night. Renalis came and stood next to Ardwen, staring off into the distance and thought about everything; the coming battle, his love - Crystal, his brothers still on his world, the battle to come. His throughts were occupied until the call to move came. He saw the elf approach and shake rdwen from a distance, as if weary of waking a beast. Ardwen roused, mounted and the army was off.

Renalis took flight and approached the side of Ardwen's mount, no longer seeing him as the berzerker he was labled as, no longer as the monster feared by even his allies but as a man. "I do not seek to profess that I know you sir, but I will tell you this - I too have lost much and know at least in part the pain you feel. You have not lived too long and there is more to your life than to just die in the great battle ahead. Live on. Live in spite of those that tried to take it all from you and help these people, the decendants of your friends. Fight alongside them and protect the kingdom as you once did. Do not go quietly into that good night. You and I sir shall carve a bloody path in these Orcs for daring to attack. We shall help destroy them and save these people. Not because it is the only thing we are long for, but because it is just and right, and because Ancora needs help."

Renalis places his hand on Ardwen's shoulder, "I shall go with you if you would allow me the honour, friend, and we shall see the graves of your friends who would have defended and went on defending Ancora until their last days." Renalis removes his hand from Ardwen's shoulder and goes on flying, thinking that Ardwen is too good a man to have suffered so greatly.

Written by - Vylia

Keeryn was nibbling on a nice ripe peach when she dropped it by accident, but when she went down to pick it up her eyes fell on the bracer on her wrist. Suddenly she knew exactly what she could give Mavigan in return. She left the fruit lying there on the floor, leaned her spear against the wall and walked over to where Mavigan was sitting, sliding the bracer off as she went."Excuse me Mavigan... I have a gift for you for your birthing day as well," Keeryn holds the bracer out in front of Mavigan, waiting for her to take it as she continues speaking, "I know it's not much, compared to everything else you've recieved, but it's an heirloom in my family. I suppose it's probably magic of some type, since it comes off whenever I want it to. My grandmother told me that you could cut off the owner's hand and it still won't come off unless they want it to. I'm not sure how true that is, but I do know that it can't be removed without your consent. It will adjust to your wrist size, and it's very strong. It saved my wrist from being crushed by a very large rock once, and didn't even get scratched. It doesn't match your new outfit or anything, so I'll understand if you don't want to wear it..." Keeryn continued to babble on uselessly, waiting for Mavigan to take the bracer. For some reason she was very nervous about giving the girl anything at all.

Written by - Kiradia Afirewen

Alulael, like most of the citadel, was out at the party, drinking and dancing with one man after another until her legs could not support her anymore. Finding herself at the oddest place she could think of, the dwarven table, she sat down next to a very large man with burnished red hair. Alulael recognized him as the Queens Champion. The man who she had met at the front of the Queens bedchamber earlier in the day.

Looking up into his eyes she spoke, “Wilhelm... is it? I am sorry, I've never been perfect with names... I wish to talk with you.”

****

Darkness...... no...... not darkness, a nothingness, a nothingness so complete no light, no thought entered it. But of course... the paradox of nothingness is that the idea of nothingness requires a being to witness it, or even the idea of nothingness would not exist. In this nothingness of thought there was a thought, a being. A cold being who beat with the power of Oblivion. The destruction of all things, including it's self... eventually... inevitably, at the True End.

This being spoke to another being beside it's great form, this being was smaller, weaker, it's beat a faint whisper of a wisp blown by the hurricane beside it in this 'land' of paradox.

“Is the preparation complete?” A voice that was not a voice spoke.

“Yes Master, everything is complete. I will leave this dead world, and follow the...... Hands of Providence. I will follow them and show that Oblivion will always be there... Master.”

“Good... little Prophet... my link to you will be weakened greatly after you enter this new world... your power will be weak. Do not engage anyone, begin by building a cult... there shale be no support for you until you do. If you fail me you know what will await you when you die, now go.”

The wisp gave a slight shiver of fear at the last of her Masters words and walked for steadily. As she stumbled onto a new world she quickly took in her surroundings. Which seemed by inside the cave den of a mother bear and her cubs.

Swiftly ducking a swipe that would have taken off her head she instinctively reached for her power and found it nearly non-existent. Drawing a long dagger from her belt she gave a ear splitting screech making the bear stumble backwards in pain. Driving the dagger upwards she buried it to the hilt under the bears throat. Instantly killing the mother bear as the dagger pierced it's brain. Feeling the bears blood spray down her arm she relished the feeling of it, her body actually absorbing the blood through tattoos winding up and down her arm.

Moments later she exited the cave with 10 vials of red liquid around her waist, inside the cave... four dried husks hanged from the roof of the cave.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Tempyst smiled. "For us." She reached out with a finger to take a taste of the shimmering delicacy. She was suddenly pushed forward as a large man crashed into her, forcing the cake up and into Lucant's face. The man apologized then went back to dancing, while Tempyst could hardly contain her laughter seeing her new husband covered with frosting and fruit.

Wiping the frosting from his eys, he saw Tempyst bursting out with laughter. Ordinarliy, Lucant would have embarassed beyond reason and he would have quickly left the scene to lick his wounded pride. He knew better now; he knew that little moments like this were life's true magic.

A grin slid across his face that spread into smile, then erupted into a resounding laughter. When the two had finally settled down, he spoke, still smiling ear to ear: "I guess we'll just have to eat later on, then. In any case, I can't very well walk around like this all night. Image how fear-inspiring I would look to this demon with frosting all over my face!" After having another laugh at his own expense, Lucant said with a bow "I shall return to you, my heart."

He reluctantly parted from her and began searching for a wash basin, which he spotted near the dwarven table. Lucant walked over slowly, making sure not to bump into any more dancers. After washing his face in the ice cold water, he turned to see a stocky dwarf who had clearly had too much to drink. "Enjoy your cake, son!?" the dwarf said with a chuckle, his breath reaking of honeymeade. "Very much so, master dwarf. You may want to crawl back in your stein, though. You may have missed a drop," Lucant said with a smile. The dwarf looked at him for a moment, then responded "Good idea, lad!" He leaned back and took a drink that would have made any dwarf proud. "You're good people, lad! Come have a drink or twelve with me and my brothers!" Before Lucant could refuse, the dwarf was pulling him along towards the table. "Hey brothers! Look what I found!" The dwarves at the table all raised their steins and have a hearty "Huzzah!".

Lucant noticed Wilhelm and a woman dressed in pink sitting near the middle of the table engaged in a conversation. The link he had formed with Nyrondis allowed him to see a strong divine aura surrounding Wilhelm. "I may as well do it now. I might not get another chance and I'm sure he'd like to know," Lucant thought to himself as he took the stein handed to him. He walked over and sat down across from the pair. "I beg your forgiveness for the interruption my lady, Lord Wilhelm. I again beg your forgiveness for bringing up business at such a joyous occaision, but time is short." He paused and took a drink before starting, as if he needed a bit of liquid courage to face the truth. "Nyrondis Himself has informed Tempyst and I that a demon seeks Lord Ithramir's life. I do not know the name or the man, other than that he is Avendor's avatar, but I assure you, I do not intend to let this demon have its way. We will be leaving this night to seek him out and put an end to him. I thought that you might like to know, sir, as we are in Her Majesty's service now."

He noticed a look of concern spread across Wilhelm's and woman's face.

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