Sunday, December 17, 2017
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Book Two - A Gathering Storm

Written by - Tempyst Page 15 Book 2

Kaya awoke to the sounds of orcs. Hundreds, no thousands of them. She looked around stunned at the numbers. She had always heard news of the orcish front, but never thought she would see it. The other prisoners in her cage were looking about too, eyes wide, faces white from terror. Several orcs came over to the cage and openend the door. Kaya began to move forward, thinking the orcs wanted them out, but they pointed their spears and swords at her, keeping her at bay. Then, orcs on the other side began prodding the other prisoners, forcing them out of the cage while she remained. What are they doing? What do they want with me? She paused in her thoughts, waiting for that voice inside to start up again, but to her relief, it was quiet.

She watched as all the other prisoners were forced out, then watched as new prisoners were shoved in. This time, all of them human children. Her heart sank. Ever since the voice took control and made her kill those other children, she had been afraid it would make her do so again and now here, were some easy prey. She could see the fear in their eyes, hear their crying. These innocents did not deserve this, they should be laughing and playing, not fearing for their lives.

Kaya tore her eyes away from the young faces, not wanting to become attached in case she was forced to kill again. She looked out among the throngs of orcs and could see that they had seen battle that day. Battle. That means the elven army is near. I should be there beside them instead of locked in this cage as a pawn. My place is out there!

All in due time. The voice hissed to life again. You will sssee battle child and if you play your cardsss right, we will be gloriousss. Now remember mortal, I am in charge. Sssoon, you will know your duty. And remember, The voice forced her to look over at the huddled children, what will happen if you disssobey. Kaya felt her blood run cold, remembering the sightless eyes of the children she had recently killed.

Who is it you want me to kill?

Written by - Trinni Shannon

Glancing from one to the other, Lithwyn pretends she has no idea what they are talking about. She had no emotional connection to Ithramir, after all. The two love birds must be wanting everyone to be in love too, that's all. The only person she fooled, though, was herself.

"Erunno will escort you on your way, he wanted to go to the battle anyway. Your plan is one I would use, as well, Lucant. If the demon does not know you are there, perhaps they will be more careless. Surprise is always to your advantage. You will need to take care, however, that an Orc does not become your or Tempyst's undoing. Lord Ithramir is not one to sit back while others fight, he'll be right in the fray with everyone else. Please, make haste. Erunno will be at the stables within the hour, waiting on your arrival. He will help you with whatever you may need, should you come up with anything."

Hugging Tempyst tightly, she says goodbye and wishes them both safe journeys. She prays to Kaia'hanas, asking her to bless the both of them and bring them success. The two, standing before her, dimly glow as she prays. The glowing condenses to the area of their tattoos before diming and finally winking out, though the warmth is still there.

Once Tempyst and Lucant hurriedly depart, Lithwyn walks towards the head table in a daze. Sliding into a chair at the end, she stares straight ahead, lost in her thoughts, going over Lucant's plan.


The moon high over head, the buildings of Minus Aure are illuminated white and red, moon and fire. Above the line of fighting, moving across the rooftops, a lone ranger peers intently down the line of an arrow, nocked in her longbow. Watching the whirling blades of Commander Isuiln for a moment as he moves away from her, movement behind him catches her eye and her fingers instantly release the string. The arrow finds its home in the spine of an orc, at the base of its skull. Watching it fall, she smirks even as another arrow is moved into place.

She suddenly tilts the bow nearly straight down and releases death in the form of an arrow into an overly curious Orc's eye as he looks up at her, large axe swinging toward her leg. That was close. Moving back from the edge of the building, she runs and leaps to the next one. An arrow flying even as she lands, her arms are nearly a constant motion of set, aim, release.

From her perch along the roofs of the city, many an Orc greet death in surprise, never knowing from whence it was launched.

"Fight me! Fight me damn you!" At the sound of the crazed elven's voice, she squints into the fire light and finds him. Sure enough, such a request brought on quite a few Orc, now encircling him. As Ardwen hacked his way through foes, the ranger picked off those who tried to catch him from behind. After focusing on him for a moment, now confident he can handle his own, the small elf searches the area for who else may need unseen assistance.

A younger lad, fighting an orc twice his size, and winning, is unaware of death's breath as it approaches. Quickly, swinging her bow into place, she releases an arrow, aiming for the attacker at the boy's rear. Too late. The Orc and boy fall together, and the girl cries out in rage and anguish from her place at the skyline.

Arrow after arrow slam into flesh, ripping apart arteries, rupturing lungs. Crouched on a low shed, she continues to unleash death. Hours pass. As the line of orc retreat, she jumps down and goes after them until someone calls after her.

"Trinni! Trinni, stop!"

Her arms shaking, she lowers her bow and just stands there, staring after the enemy. Orc. Dirty, evil, nasty, underhanded Orc. Gasping for breath, she closes her eyes a moment to contain her desire to chase after them and finish what she began.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm saw Priestess Alulael walkm over towads Mavigan, following his advice. He then saw Tempyst and Lucant approaching Lithwyn and walked over to here the discussion, followed by Lithwyn's blessing of the pair. As Lucant and Tempyst left her to head to the door, Wilhelm followed and caught up at the doorway. He handed a folded fabric square to Lucant and said,

"This is a Royal Pass, with the Royal Arms embroidered on it. You will find that Alaric has left 12-man squads with spare horses along the road as messenger relay stations. Show this pass to requisition replacement mounts and you and your escort can continue riding with fresh mounts until the next station. You will likely meet messengers returning here from the army. Show this to them and they will tell you the news. I expect that you will reach the fortress in the middle of a battle, and you may need some informed reinforcements. On my authority, you may requisition all but two of the men at the final station before the fortress to accompany you.

Be sure to brief your escort on the danger and your mission. It is vital to get the news to Ithramir even if somehow you two fall to the orcs. These men will be trustworthy and will follow orders. When you get there, look for Renalis, who has had great experience in combatting demons. Tempyst, if you know any Druidical magic to draw upon the natural lifeforce along the road to enhance the stamina of your party and mounts, this would be a good time to use it. You will all need to ride hard to get there. Lucant, I know little of Demonhunters, except to say trust in your sword, your bondmate, and your god. You are a team now. Do not fear to ask for help or advice, but trust in your feelings and instincts. May the All Father be with you!"

Wilhelm noticed again the Triune medallion that Tempyst wore. An inner thought brought a positive response. Surrendering into trance, Wilhelm reached out and touched the medallion. To Tempyst and Lucant his eyes seemed to glow as he spoke in a soft but resonant Voice.

"May Justice prevail in your mission. Let all who look upon this know that your cause is Just."

With that the medallion glowed for a moment, while the light faded from Wilhelm's eyes, and Tempyst could feel a residual and persistant warmth in the amulet. They exchanged farewells, and as Tempyst and Lucant left the Great Hall Wilhelm walked over towards Mavigan to see how she was doing.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst felt her mother's amulet grow warm and felt an inner strength wash over her. She placed her hand gently upon Wilhelm's and squeezed. "I do know of some magics sir, we are thinking the same. I do wish we had more time to socialize, but perhaps we will one day." Tempyst took Lucant's hand once again and let him lead her to the stables. Once there, she hugged him tightly. "Now my love, you must set about and gather what we need, I need to speak to the horses and with the spirits we travel through." She smiled brightly, kisses him then turned, asking which horses they would be using.

As Lucant went off to gather supplies and men, Tempyst was directed to the horses that were available. She closed her eyes and opened her heart, then began whispering softly to the horses. Her soft words reached their ears, causing them all to perk up and move towards her. After several minutes communing with them, she determined which would be best for their trip. She rubbed their noses, enjoying for a moment her ability to speak with them. It was not as advanced as some druids, but it was enough. Looking around, she found some apples, then sat down and drew from the surrounding area magic. The magic of life, strength and stamina flowed up from the earth into Tempyst, engulfing her with a deep warm glow. Still concentrating, she cut apart the apples, softly chanting, sending into them the magic she was channeling. This took alittle time, for she had to make sure she had enough for the other horses they would need. When she was satisfied, she stood, and fed each horse aslice of apple, imbueing them with the strength of the earth. Giving them each a scritch under the jaw, she let the stableboys gear the horses up.

Tempyst took this time and went outdoors and once again grounded herself into the earth. She reached deep, calling to Nyrondis. Nyrondis, oh great father, hear my call. We are here to follow your path, to go forth and protect and rid your world of these unnatural forces. We will need your strength and your courage to face our fears. Give our steeds light feet and clear paths as we race to protect Ithramir. We follow the path you have set before us and will not rest until our mission is complete. Thank you father, we shall not let you down.

Tempyst stood there, lost in the warmth of her God and waited for the signal that it was time to ride.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Lucant hurried from the Great Hall down to the stables with Tempyst at his side. Once there, she hugged him tightly. "Now my love, you must set about and gather what we need, I need to speak to the horses and with the spirits we travel through." She smiled brightly, kisses him then turned, asking which horses they would be using. Watching her walk away as gracefully as a feather upon the wind, he finally turned and did as she suggested.

Noticing a door ajar, Lucant exited the stables into one of the adjoining yards hoping to find Erunno. He saw a mountain of a man - probably in his mid-thirties with a head of thick black hair and and a bristling beard - leaning against the stable wall drinking a bottle of honeymeade. "Well it's about damned time you two got here! I've been waiting for nearly an hour! C'mon over here and get ready so we can get on the road before dark." The man put his bottle away and moved towards a table under an awning that was arrayed with a finely crafted suit of scale mail. Lucant followed the man uneasily. He was still unacustomed to being in a postion of authority and importance and was unsure of how to act. He went over to Erunno intending to introduce himself, but was cut off before he could. "I s'pose I oughta tell you who I am. The name's Erunno Holgrave. I use'ta be in charge of guarding the Ancoran Quarter, but Commander Deltheron told me that I gotta work with you two for a bit. Pick your arms up." the man said as he strapped the breastplate on Lucant. "She sent me a messenger who talked forever about you two and what you gotta do. Glad I'm not in your shoes, to say the least." He continued to suit Lucant up while talking. "Don't worry about nothin' though. I'll keep you two safe... or die trying," he added with a raucus laugh.

Noticing the Royal Pass Lucant was holding, Erunno said with with the tone of a somber, seasoned commander: "You're much too young to be in a command position, son. You still have too much of a life to live to throw it away on the battlefield. I suppose you have to be, though... considering who you are." Lucant could tell that this man, despite being a bit rough around the edges, was a good man and someone that he could trust. "Look, just trust in the men who follow you and treat 'em decent. Do that, an' they'll follow you to the gates o' the underworld. That means me, too." Erunno placed the helm on Lucant's head and intentially pushed it down over his eyes. "Now you can finish gettin' yourself ready. I still gotta finish up, myself." He sratched his beard and said "Don't forget the most important thing," looking over towards one of the trees. Lucant pulled the helm from his eyes and looked around, seeing Tempyst kneeling under a tree. "Thank you, Erunno." he said as Erunno went into the stables. "If ya wanna thank me, hurry the hell up!" his response boomed from the stables. He quickly strapped A'lanthear around his waist and got the packs that had been supplied for him and Tempyst.

Walking towards his wife, Lucant received encouragement from A'lanthear as well. You are worried, master. Fear not what lies before you, as you do not stand alone. Eleven spirits seemed to step forth from the wind, stopping Lucant in his path. The ghosts of a human, a dwarf, eight elves, and - most surprisingly - an orc spoke in unison: "Our successor, our brother. We shall stand at your side. We shall watch over you. Go with Nyondis, our most honored brother." As quickly as the spirits had appeared, they vanished. A'lanther whispered to him again: "Trust in them, master. Trust in those who will follow you. Trust in your soulmate. Their strength is your strength." Continuing towards Tempyst, he whispered to A'lanthear, "Thank you."

Lucant stood behind Tempyst and put his arms around her, resting his hands on her heart. A calming warmth swept over him as he whispered to her. "It is time, my love."

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst welcomed her husband's embrace and basked in the love and strength she felt. "It is time, my love." Lucant whispered.

She turned and hugged him close, making a face as her cheek touched the cold metal. "Hmm, I suppose this is necessary, but I much rather prefer you without it." She winked and leaned up to kiss him. "Yes, you are right, we must leave, there is no time to waste." Tempyst followed Lucant over to the horses, then smiled as he introduced her to Erunno. She liked the large man instantly and knew they were in good hands. She patted each horse again, then mounted up. "Well, Erunno, let us make haste. And if you need to take shortcuts, fear not of the forest, for a path will be clear for us." With a nod, Erunno charged his steed out into the night, with Lucant and Tempyst close behind.

Written by - Turin Wallace

Finally meeting with all the commanders, Ithramir kneels down, takes a stick, and draws a map of the Minas Aure. Talking to the assembled crew of officers from the various company’s, Ithramir sets out the plan of attack for the morning,

“I’ll be leading the main fight here…”

Ithramir pokes at the center of the map, showing the entrances to the second and third tiers of the city. This is where the fighting will be the hardest and since most of his elves know the city, their knowledge will be in high demand, especially in the twisting and turning alleys and streets leading to the main keep in the center.

Looking over to Aylan, Ithramir circles a spot on the map and says,

“You’ll join us for the main assault, however, after we begin securing the main keep I’ll need Commander Isuiln’s troops to take, and hold, the gatehouse for the mountain pass. We’ll join you as quickly as we can, but rest assured, you’ll be crucial in cutting off the retreat of the Orcs so we can cut them down.”

Seeing Aylan nod, Ithramir turns to Alaric and says,

“Commander Alaric, what I need your troops to do is to fan out, take, and secure the outer rims of the second and third tiers all the way to the mountain gatehouse. From what we can tell, the Orcs have a few defenses setup, but mostly it will be wide open for you and your soldiers. Consolidate quickly and meet us at the mountain gate.”

Watching Alaric nod, Ithramir turns to Diosr and says,

“Commander Diosr, I’ll need you and your dwarves with me as we storm the center of this keep. We’ll need a battering ram for the outer gate leading into the main section, think it can be done by morning?”

Diosr almost looks offended by the statement, but simply nods in agreement and says it can be done. Replying, Ithramir says,

“Trust me, master dwarf, your axes will drink deeply of Orc blood tomorrow. You have my thanks.”

Looking at each commander one last time, Ithramir says,

“Unless there are further questions, that’s our plan of attack for the morning, I wish you all the best and may Avandor guide us in our work. I suggest we, and what troops not on sentry duty, get some rest for the eve.”

Giving a nod, the commanders leave and Ithramir sits down again, resting his head against the cool wall of the battlements. Every so often he can hear the whiz of flying arrows as skirmishes ignite across the walls. Looking up to the moon, he wonders to himself if Lithwyn’s looking at it too, thus sharing something with her…even if she doesn’t know it.

Written by - Pharsalus

Servant?, Geirik blurted in the dark. He did not continue. He only stood, his back toward the strange man holding the sword in the air. He could not see him, but the shadows betrayed the man's every motion, every thought, every memory. After a moment of distant reflection - eyes peering forward in their usual glow as if witness to events unfolding in the blackness before them - he turned slowly. One would almost say he was grinning.

You, he began mischeiviously, You neither what you appear, nor think you appear. And while the old man believes himself cunning enough to challenge me with his simpleton's coaxing, you speak...from something more...

Geirik trailed off, and his eyes visibly locked onto the man - the foreigner - before him. After a moment, with a smirk on his face, Geirik's head tilted slightly to one side as if listening to whispers only he could hear. Another moment passed, and Geirik returned to his full height, shoulders squared, smirk slipping back to an empty resting place.

There are powers at work in this room beyond what you in your physical state could never know. You ask my desires... He paused and turned his look to the old Elf as he continued. And yet, it is you who summoned me? What I wanted in Life I acquired, and what I want in Death you are powerless to deliver. His gaze returned to the Ranger. So, I ask - why have you summoned me? For what purpose would you have sucha dark and terrible power as mine? For what purpose...

For an instant, Geirik's voice became everpresent, while his body into a shadowy plume. For a moment the room sat quiet and dark until the light of two eyes shown through horrible lids immediately over the Ranger's shoulder.

...would you risk your life at the hands of one so horrible?

The Ranger spun on his heals, sword raised to strike an impudent being, to find himself facing only shadow and cold. The light of Geirik's eyes went out again as they had before and the sound of a terrible chuckling became as omnipresent as the dark in which it resounded.

Humor me this, mortal, and your courage - or stupidity - will suffer you my continued cooperation....for now.

All at once, Geirik stood there as if he'd never left, as if nothing were changed. He stood, arms crossed, and awaited the man's answer. For the first time in untold centuries, he stood before a man worth of his presence. All he could do was smirk.



Flavia's eyes opened slowly at first. It was evening.

EVENING!? She sat up quickly, but the panic in her eyes were immediately replaced with confusion and a sharp jolt of pain. She winced, eyes clamping shut, and fell back into place on the cot. It was obvious she was working to control her breathing, for whatever purposes the old Healer would never know - courage, embarassment, stubornness. He simply sat in his chair by a warm fire, peering out from beneath the sahdow of a tattered old hood, hands lost in the heap of robes in his lap.

I see you are awake, he began with a smile in his voice. That is most excellent! Please - do not be startled. Her eyes were a soft blue, like the roses the Healer sometimes picked from the woods around his dwelling. He liked them, but now they were red and flushed and glossed over. The woman fought to sit up, slowly this time, biting her lip as hard as one might think it to bleed. She sat for a moment, catching her breath, peering about the small, fire lit room and the old man who now spoke to her from his decrepit old chair.

Who...who are you? Where ... her voice begain to rise and breathing quicken. Where...! Where are my parents!? Pharsalus had already begun to close the space between them quickly, placing his hands on her shoulders gently.

You must not worry for them, child. You must rest now, regain your strength. Your body is weak and your mind is weary - I needn't be a Healer to know these things. He raised his hand between them and closed his eyes, mumbling something under his breath. Small bits of light and vapor danced curiously around his fist, revealing an old marking of a hammer and anvil upon the palm of his hand, until it suddenly opened. Darkness consumed the girl's concious, but it was warm and peaceful. As her eyes closed and vision blurred, she took a final look at her estranged keeper.

Your face... she began to mumble sleepily. Her head fell back against the pillow. It' The old Healer placed her hands comfortably across her chest and smiled as well as his batted old face could.

Do not worry for such things now, young one. You are safe here.

He stood slowly, keeping his hooded gaze upon her only for a moment more before making his way to a cot only several paces away. In it still slept a woman considerably older than the girl, most probably the girl's mother or caretaker. It was hard to know from the chaos in which he'd found them lying lifeless in the road. His eyes peered through the woman as he wondered what color her eyes were. She had not opened them at all since he'd tended her wounds. She would live, though he did not know when she would wake up.

He turned, confident of their stability, and that of the calming crackle of the hearthfire behind him. The deep blue of the Ancient One's eyes cought and scattered the firelight as he gazed into it, losing himself if times long ago, places that no longer were. He looked at his hands, cracked and weathered, ancient beyond understanding. His power of healing had dwindled considerably since happier times. He felt so distant from all he knew, all he loved - even his Father, Shaper of his kind, seemed now only a distant memory. He sighed and lost himself again in thought. He hummed the hymn of his brothers softly, just loud enough to dampen the woody squeak of his chair, and he slowly rocked.

Written by - Renalis

Ardwen lowered his head, his eyes narrowed, and his voice became iced steel, “That Renalis, that I will die for. Nothing will keep me from paying one last regard to them, nothing. I do not care if every Orc ever spawned stands in my path, if all the nations of the world bar my way, or if the very gods themselves deny it. I will see them . . . before the end, whatever that may be.”

"So it shall be." Renalis removed his hand from Ardwen's shoulder and began to look ahead.

"We shall be there soon," Renalis thought, "I need some rest before the confrontation..." Renalis began to look around for a free horse. He attention was grabbed however by a sharp "Yoo Hoo!" and wave from Trinni. "Hop on! F'non here can get us there no problem." Renalis set himself down on the saddle behind Trinni, "Thank you." Renalis's mind was distracted. He was thinking, planning, preparing. He didn't even realize that he set his head on Trinni's shouldblade. The new weight unsettled her at first, but she rode on. Renalis didn't even notice as his mind slowly slipped into slumber...

The green of the Void filled Renalis's view. It was the only name he had for the place. It was devoid of any substance save other beings traversing it so it seemed fitting. Renalis thought he was alone but this was far from true. Drawing his blade, spinning and slashing outward in one fluid motion, the demonic beast was cleaved in two. The beast that looked like a dark violet feline erupted in a green flame and all that remained was a ghostly image of what it used to look which slowly drifted off.

Before he knew it, Renalis was surrounded by the demonic beasts and had to fight for his life. He moved with a terrible fury, his blade cleaving and his magical blasts erupting the beasts that got too close. When at last they were all dispatched, Renalis noted something. The essence of these creatures... their souls - they were the same as the last group that attacked him, and the time before that. Not similar but the same. "Blast! Their souls must be getting reforged by their demon overloards..." Renalis withdrew a small crystal from his belt pouch, and muttering some words of a forgotten tongue the spirits began to swirl around him. They were drawn in like a spiritual drain, sucked into the stone.

Looking down at his his chest, Renalis grew bold, "They can sense me, my soul is different than the evil present here..." Renalis's thoughts trailed off and suddenly he grew bold. Ramming his chest center on, the crystal pierced his flesh and buried itself in his ribcage. Drawing his soul partially in, the gemstone altered it... Renalis could feel the change. The demonic energy tainted him but he was able to rework their souls into a pure energy, it would take time but he could purify the energy.

"Wakey Wakey"

Renalis snapped up with such fury that he nearly fell out of his saddle.

"I thought you would sleep forever." Trinni's innocent voice roused him to the world of the concious.

"Only a dream..." Renalis thought to himself, touching the gemstone "those first encounters nearly killed me..." Dismounting, Renalis took his place amung the vanguard of the army where Ithramir spoke to the troops.

“Fear not the horrors you are about to face! Steady your spirit and your arms! Let us turn back the black tide before us; let us make safe our lands and the lands of our friends! Do not fear death, fear failure in our mission! Let the Orc know no mercy and expect none for yourself, let us kill them all, or let us die trying! Charge!”

With that Renalis took off, blade in his right hand and his left glowing blue.

The first Orcs were caught completely off guard and their deaths were assured. A bolt of white light shot forth, striking the first Orcs and arcing to several others nearby. The bolt left only charred corpses and in the case of the first, a pile of ash. The next group fell to his blade. A quick slice cleaved one in two and in parrying the downword swipe of an Orc axe, his weapon pushed aside, Renalis's blade curving upward taking the beast's head clean off.

Renalis pierced another's chest, blood splatering out of his mouth the beast snarled and Renalis used a blast of energy to finish him. Using the momentum, Renalis spun backward, withdrawning his blade and then slashing downward, his magical blade cutting through helmet and bone like a dragon cuts the air.

Renalis became a fury, cleaving and blasting any Orc that dared to venture too near the Mage. It might have seemed like a maddened rage but to any knowing of elven swordplay, and Renalis's particular variation of it with his spells, it was almost a dance. It's fluid motion never losing momentum, never losing focus.

Renalis spotted an Orc on one of the walls taking aim - an almost level tragectory. Renalis followed the aim to its target... Trinni! Renalis spotted the elf on the rooftops taking aim and firing with deadly precision, but her back was toward this orc. With a sublte wave of his hand, Renalis invoked a small sphere of energy. His mana gem flaring brightly the sphere shot out and enveloped the Orc in a white flame, reducing him to ashes. The scream caught Trinni's attention and she looked for the magic's source, and with an aproving thumbs up thanked its caster.

Renalis stopped for a moment to assess the situation, as no Orcs were in the immediate viscinity. ”Pathetic!” Ardwen roared, “Is this the limit to your strength? Is this all you fetid sons of bitches can muster? Fight me! Fight me damn you!” Renalis turned to see the Elven warrior and caught sight of an Archer above taking aim at the Elf. With a quick chant a bolt of energy was loosed and reduced the unfortunate Orc to ash, but in the process his Arrow was loosed, enough off target that it mearly grazed the cheek of Ardwen. With a gaze that could slay the living, Ardwen shot his eyes upward to see only the smokeing ash, His view shifting to Renalis they connected sight for mearly a second. With a nod the two went back to their respective hordes to deal with.

Piercing, slashing and blasting, Renalis dealt with many more Orcs before the sounding to pull back was giving. The Orcs too were in retreat to a part of the city they more firmly controlled. Renalis caught sight of Trinni hopping off the rooftops that she was skillfully shooting from and give chase.

"Trinni! Trinni, stop!" Renalis approached her and could see her obviously shaking. "So innocent..." Renalis thought to himself, "Come on Trinni, you'll get your chance, we need rest before we can continue the effort though." With that the two headed back to where the Army was making its camp.

Renalis's eyes finally returned to their normal colour and his gem faded to a dim glow. He was exausted from the battle but most of all from the use of magic, "So hard in this place..." His gem still had a great amount remaining, placing his hand on the gem, "I guess with how hard it is from my own essence, I'll be counting on you more than usual... but I'll have to ration..." Renalis's thoughts disperse as he can feel the connection to Crystal's gemstone and her love through it. The warmth embraces him and he slips into as deep a sleep as one can get in the midst of a battle.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Alarin sat calmly at the old pine table, sipping his beer and listening to the tall tales of the other bar patrons. He shivvered subconciously when the door swung open, but paid no heed to the black-robed woman who entered and sat down near at one of the tables near him.

He tried not to think about about having get up before dawn in the morning to go back to the mines. He just wanted to relax for a bit.

A shattering glass roused him from the peaceful numbness the beer had given him. He quickly got up from the table to see if the woman was alright. "Are you okay, miss?" he asked out of politeness. The strangely tatooed woman merely smiled at him. She sat back down and Alarin went back to trying to drown his worries.

An echo of laughter resounded off the walls of the old inn. "Hey Galline! Go see if that girl's okay." Alarin groaned as he got up from the table and swore under his breath as he passed by the bar. He knocked on the door that the laughter was coming from, then slowly opened it and poked his head inside. "Miss... are you sure you're alright? Is there anything I can get you?"

Written by - Ariana

“Thanks, Keeryn!” Mavigan said cheerily, and accepted the gift with a smile. Affixing it to her left wrist, she noted with satisfaction that Keeryn had spoken truth about the family heirloom – it adjusted to her wrist as if it had been made for her, despite the difference in bone structure between Keeryn and herself.

Mavigan had noted Keeryn exhibiting signs of nervousness as she proffered her gift, though Mavigan could not fathom any reason for such anxiety. She hoped that her warm acceptance of the gift would put her friend at ease. Mavigan had never been one to stand on formality, and just because she was a sorta Queen, she wasn’t about to start demanding “proper” protocol now!

Of course, not two minutes after the thought crossed her mind, the priestess from the night before, the same one who had been tending the Bitch, came before her and bowed. Her words were grandiose, and Mavigan only gave her half an ear, managing to capture and remember her name (Crystal), and that she was pledging loyalty and all that other crap to her. She did hear something about being taught skills Wilhelm probably wouldn’t want her to know, and that peaked her interest.

Mavigan gave a critical gaze at the Elf bowing before her. She spoke prettily, and she was priestess – both were strikes against her in Mavigan’s eyes, but if she was true to her word, she might be useful. Nodding once, Mavigan said, “OK.” When no action was taken, Mavigan figured she was expected to say something else, so she tried again. “You should get up off the ground now. You are getting your dress all dirty.”

She heard a gasp from somewhere around her that sounded like someone was trying to hide laughter. Mavigan glanced around, but could not determine the source of the chuckle. It didn’t matter much though since her comment had gotten Crystal off her knees, and Mavigan was quite content to turn her attention back to the party. She had spied Teran across the courtyard, munching lightly on the food and generally skulking in the shadows. She was half tempted to ask him to dance, but soon dismissed the idea. She didn’t need to call attention to him, since he was the instrument of her escape.

Glancing at the moon and judging its position, she realized it was almost time for her and Keeryn to go test out all her new equipment, and she gave Keeryn a surreptitious nudge indicating it was almost time to go. Mid-nudge the priestess in pink wandered up proffering a small box.

“I am sorry for the way we originally met Queen Mavigan.. I humbly request your forgiveness and accept this token of hopefully a future friendship.”

Curious, and never one to turn to presents, Mavigan accepted the box and hastily opened it. Inside rested a silver ring, the symbol of Nagarren clearly embossed into the metal. Anger, hot and irrational, filled Mavigan and her hands began to tremble. She knew what this was for she had seen such a ring adorning Etewen’s hand. It was the mark of an Initiate into the Order of Nagarren. The priestess in pink wore a similar ring, only in gold, not silver – the mark of a full fledged member of Order.

Mavigan continued to tremble with the effort of containing her anger. The last thing she needed at the moment was to call attention to herself and ruin her chances for escape, but the idea of putting on the ring made her nauseous. She already wore the medallion for the sake of her Mother. Was that not enough?

From the corner of her eye, she noticed Wilhelm walking towards her. Whatever she did, she needed to do quickly. Consciously releasing the tension in her shoulders, she adopted a look of neutrality on her face, the same face Jonan had often referred to as her “card face”. Closing the box and slipping it into her pocket, she said mildly, “Thank you for the gift. Perhaps we may be friends one day.”

Turning to Keeryn, she said, “Come on Keeryn. I’m full. Let’s go take Argent for a run!” Without waiting for a response, Mavigan tossed a wave at Wilhelm, grabbed Keeryn by the arm and ran up to her rooms. Nearly ransacking the place, she stuffed all the essentials she would need into her pack, allowing Keeryn to do the same. A quick side trip to the kitchens provided them with rations and canteens full of water. That task completed, they went quickly to the stables.

Mavigan made short work of changing into her new garb, secreting her daggers on her person, and saddling Argent. Once ready, she signaled to Keeryn and they made their way out of the stables, and past the guards. To each challenge issued, Mavigan would state they were taking her new horse for a run, and that Keeryn was her bodyguard. Each time, the guard would accept this explanation and allow them to pass.

Within minutes, Mavigan was free! She urged Argent to go faster, thrilling in the sensation of the wind in hair and the sound of strong hooves thumping into the earth below, enjoying her first taste of freedom since that awful night so long ago. All too soon, they reached the treeline. Dismounting, Mavigan settled down into the base of a tree as Keeryn climbed it and settled on a branch high above. With a smile on her face, Mavigan waited.

Back in the stables, amidst warmth and safety, lies a small box containing a small silver ring, placed carefully upon a mounting stool tucked into the corner of Argent’s stall.

Written by - Wilhelm

As Wilhelm approached he saw Alulael give Mavigan the ring and Mavigan's chill response. Turning to Keeryn, she said,

“Come on Keeryn. I’m full. Let’s go take Argent for a run!”

Without waiting for a response, Mavigan tossed a wave at Wilhelm, grabbed Keeryn by the arm and ran off. Wilhelm returned the wave and then turned to Alulael and said,

"Mavigan is going to need some time alone to work thing out before she is ready to accept the goddess within. When she does, she will remember that gift and your offer. You have done your duty for now, and I suggest getting some rest. Please see me in the morning, as I suspect we will need to talk."

Wilhelm bowed and moved on to pay his compliments to Lithwyn and others. The departure of the Guest of Honor was a signal for the party to wind down. Wilhelm made his farewells and went up to his room, where several messengers were waiting. The Queen's Guards at Mavigan's room informed him that Mavigan and Keeryn had raced into her room, torn the place apart in the usual teenager manner, and left with packed bags. A cook from the kitchen informed him that the pair had visited the kitcheon and packed bags with travel food. (She had made sure to pack some of the cake in the bag.) A ranger from the gate informed him that, as expected, the pair had ridden out, with Mavigan all decked out with her birthday gear and riding Argent. The guards had followed Wilhelm's orders and let her pass unchecked. A ranger was keeping her in his view while remaining hidden himself, and the outer patrols reported nothing dangerous in the area.

Wilhelm left orders to be informed if she returned, or left the area, or was lost to sight, but that no alarm should be raised in any event save an actual attack upon her and her bodyguard. He then went out to the stables and saw that Mavigan had taken the normal tack and left the sidesaddle and ornaments behind, again as expected. Then he noticed the little box on the stool. Opening it he saw the ring inside. He sighed, but remembered the vision he had received after the assassination attempt. He sent a prayer and a thought to the All Father.

"It is hard to let her go on her own, but I understand that this must be done. At least she had her party, and the gifts have ensured that she is properly outfitted, and that she has a royal bodyguard along who is acceptable to her. I suspect Nagarren will have as much trouble making her a High Priestess as I will have making her a Queen. I hope you all know what you are doing."

Wilhelm "heard" a chuckle and a resonant response.

"Yes, my sister Nagarren has Her hands full with Her Chosen, but this is part of the prophesy. As you may recall, the best are the most trouble at first. Take your rest now, and then follow. Remain out of detection but within reach in case of need. I will be with you as always."

Wilhelm placed the ring back in the box, which he placed in his pouch. He left orders for Sable to be saddled and provisioned at dawn. Reaching back into his pouch he took out a silver cord that had metal figurines attached at each end in the shape of horses, one black and one white. Holding the cord in the center he spoke a Word and the figurines moved, the black one moving to point towards Sable and the white one moving to point towards the outer gate. Wilhelm nodded and put the cord back in the pouch. He then returned to his room, packed his gear, and lay down for some rest in a comfortable bed while he had the chance.

Written by - Teran

Teran extracted himself from the party after only 30 minutes of "socializing". He moved to his assigned room expecting to find Jasmine there. He dismisses the guards outside the door and enters the room.

"Will you be joining me, or would you prefer to try your luck here?" he smiled waiting for her response.

Written by - Trinni Shannon

Minus Aure, middle of night, the first skirmish done and over with, Renalis speaks behind Trinni, trying to draw her back to the camp.

"Come on Trinni, you'll get your chance, we need rest before we can continue the effort though."

Begrudgingly, she turns around and joins him, knowing he is right. Sighing loudly, she stretches her arms, shoulders, and back as she walks. The last time she was this sore was during The Trials. THAT seemed like ages ago, but it really wasn't all that long ago, was it? Silly drills in the forest, amidst the trees. Shoot this, jump here, make-shift that. Okay, now do it all again silently. Okay, now do it all again in the dead of night during the new moon. Eh, it was tough, but not like this. Not like this.

Sure, she's fought Orc before. Blech. Smelly, huge, nasty Orc. Such meanie-heads, really. Killing innocent people, burning down houses for fun... who needs 'em? All the times she's hunted an Orc, it was just one, or a few at most. Always by surprise, always with other Rangers of Commander Ithramir. A few scouting parties leading to the happy death of groups of particularly vicious Orc. Sometimes they'd have evil dogs with sharp teeth. Trinni's backside tested just how sharp they were once. Bah. Of course Catherin's response was something along the lines of "Now you'll learn to get up that tree quicker, won't you?" Evil woman. Of course, she was usually right. Alright, fine... she was always right. But she's still evil.

How Trinni was placed on the path to become an Adjutant, she'll never know. O'course, there isn't an officer in need of one yet, so for now she's made to do all sorts of things for just about everyone. "For your training." Yeah, right. Most times, it's not a big deal, it's usually fun actually. Then again, just about anything can be turned into something fun. A well placed poke, a hidden shield or sword, a few pine cones that just "happen" to fall from the tree she's hiding in right at the exact opportune moment... well... of course she didn't do it on purpose. hehe.

Right now, though, she doesn't quite feel herself. Oh, its not just the exhaustion. Some of these officers sure know how to work her to the bone. Its something else, but what?

Walking through the camp, her mischievious side screams at her as she passes several golden opportunities. Someone bent over a fire here, someone else fast asleep with their mouth hanging open there, a momentarily forgotten shield propped up against a wall - the owner, which she knew, was usually much more astute about those kind of things, fanatical even. Trudging by, she didn't have the energy or the spirit to carry out such tasks, even though they promised to be quite fun, indeed.

Nodding to Renalis as he walks off, she continues alone, making her way to the wall where she waits her rotation in harassing the Orc via firing arrows galore over the other side.

Leaning against the battlements, she slowly slides down to the ground and tilts her head up to the sky. If it were not for the shouts from the top of the wall, she could almost trick herself into thinking she was at home, that she didn't see many of her friends cut down by ignorant, evil Orc, that in the morning she'd be riding amidst the trees near Lothiel-Gadith, playing a game of "Find me if you can." She always was so good at that game. All you had to do was follow the signs left behind as her friends ran through the forest to hide. Easy, really. How they were so poor at it was beyond her.

Her eyes half-closed, Trinni watches the people of the camp as they whisper to each other, probably sharing stories from the evening's fighting, of an especially good swing or shot they made. This thought reminds her of Veraen, of being too slow to save him. Almost, but she was too late. All that practice, all those drills, and she was still too late. Drawing her legs to her chest, she wraps her arms around them, resting her forehead against her knees, hiding the tears streaming down her cheeks as her mind tortures her with a play-by-play of the day's many horrors.

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