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Book Two - A Gathering Storm

Written by - Trinni Shannon Page 20 Book 2

"Sure, I suppose I could let you take a look at them. It's not much, just a few old weapons - mainly swords and daggers - some statues and stacks upon stacks of books."

Making their way slowly, she muses that her game isn't as fun as she'd hoped. His rapid withdrawal when she asked an innocent question took away any chance for laughter in this situation. What could be on his mind to make him so testy? He seemed jovial enough at first glance and able to take a joke... hmm.

"Uncle Leov! You're back!" Leov turned quickly and scooped up the little girl in his arms as she ran towards him. "And what are doing up here all by yourself? Where's Mommy and Daddy?"

Watching the exchange, Lithwyn smiled wistfully. She didn't know what was more cute, the little girl's bouncing curls as she runs, or Leov's obvious affection for her. Her sudden yearning for children brought Ithramir to her mind once again. Wondering if she hadn't made a huge mistake by not telling him her feelings, she stops herself by mentally asking "What feelings?"

The little girl thanked Leov, then ran off towards the three and immediately began demanding to go to the town while Lithwyn watched, laughing.

"She is gorgeous, Leov." Keeping her thoughts to herself, she wonders at why a child is on such a journey.

"Just a moment." Nodding absentmindedly, Lithwyn continues watching the girl as Leov disappears then reappears with a pillow case (?) and two cats in tow. "Now then, if you'll follow me." Realizing only good men are loved by children and animals, she relaxes her earlier skepticism of him. Whatever is bothering him cannot be all that bad, after all.

As he openned crates and showed her the contents, she could tell he was holding something back, that he was feeling unneasy about something. Deciding to leave it alone, Lithwyn looked over the various pieces. Nothing truly exciting, but still worth a fair amount of coin. Though, now and again she wondered at the origins. Obviously elven, many of the pieces had odd elements she hadn't seen before. Designs of the statues, a subtle difference in the curve of various swords, the wrappings of some of the hilts... interesting.

"I also found this," he said uneasily as he handed her the book, "but I don't think it's Elven. In fact, I have no idea what it is."

Glancing up, she reaches out to take the offered book. Just before her fingertips touch it, and odd feeling washes over her and she jerks her hand back a few inches with an overwhelming desire to stay as far away from it as possible. Shaking her head at her own foolishness, she quickly takes the book out of Leov's hand. Heavier than she anticipated, her hand drops for a momet before she reajusts to match the weight.

A frown on her lips, she examines the book. The cover has no title, no markings. Openning the book at a random place, she frowns harder. Blood. She's sure of it. Who would write in blood? The language is unknown to her, but it nonetheless sends chills down her spine. Turning the page, she gasps softly at a crude, gruesome drawing. A man tied down, in the center of a large symbol, diagrams (instructions?) around various places of his body. The inside of a man should never be so visible... Closing her eyes as she shuts the book, the image burns behind her eyes.

Sighing deeply, she opens them again and flips through the pages for several minutes. Noting the script in common here and there, she assumes there are at least two different authors. If not more.

She feels deeply drained as she finally closes the book again. Her face is pale, even her hair and eyes have lost their normal vibrance. This book is anathema to her, it is the opposite of everything she believes in, everything that is true to her. Trying to reach Kaia'hanas, her calls are left unanswered. Placing a hand out, she steadies herself on a beam.

Looking up at Leov for the first time since she openned the book, she asks "Where did you get this?"

Written by - Tempyst

"...Personally I think he relishes any excuse to use that dratted sword of his, even if it might kill him," Shara said. Tempyst noticed the change of tone in her voice and smiled.

"It is very difficult to understand the one you love, but give it time, I am sure you both will learn more of each other. Some men seem to feel they must fight to protect that which they love, and to show how much they love. And as the ones that love them, we must stand strong and never falter." Tempyst turned to Nohlani, taking out of the pouch she found, a few purple berries. "Nohlani, take these. Feed them to her slowly and she will regain her strength quickly. There does not seem to be anything physically wrong with her." Nohlani thanked her and turned back to his charge, feeding her one of the berries. Tempyst stood and looked about the wounded and knew she would need more help than what she currently had. Turning to Shara, she placed a hand on the woman's shoulder. "Excuse me for a moment. If I am to help, then I need to obtain help." Shara looked at her a bit puzzled and watched as Tempyst moved into an emtpy, broken building.

Tempyst stepped into the shadow of the ruined structure, and found a spot to center herself. Setting down, then closing her eyes, Tempyst let her aura loos, letting it flow through the walls intothe earth, into every knook and cranny it could find. She knew she could help those soldiers out there, but also knew, she could do a better job if she asked for help. She opened herself up to Nyrondis and asked him for such help. After a few moments, she felt the warmth of acknowledgement flow through her, though she also noted a hint to make sure she did not forget her true purpose for being here. Within moments, she could hear them, scurrying along the floorboards, slithering from hiding places, crawling into her living cloak and into her hair. She let out a soft giggle, as she felt the tickle of so many legs. She stood up, loaded down with companions, and knew there were many more close by if she needed them.

It must have been at least 5 minutes before Tempyst emerged from the ruins, but when she stepped into the sunlight once again, she looked ready to work. Stepping back over to Shara and the young man who had lost his arm, she placed her hand once again on Shara's shoulder. "Let me help him, I can lessen the pain. Shara looked a bit perturbed, but stepped back. Tempyst placed a hand upon the young man's cheek, and felt the pendent she wore grow warm, as the man relaxed and put his trust in her. She then did something that made Shara and many other gasp. She reached back and into her cloak of leaves and when she brought her hand out, it was covered with at least a half dozen garden spiders. Shara was about ready to protest, but Tempyst shook her head, and placed her hand upon the stump of the man's arm. Immediately the spiders skittered off her hand onto the arm and then over the bleeding stump, began to weave their silk back and forth, creating a tight, form fitting bandage. The young man winced; Tempyst reached up to her hair and drew from it what appeared to be a long vine, but was soon realized to be a small snake. Tempyst whispered to the snake and then held it right above where the spiders were working and with a lightning reflex, the snake bit the young man. Everyone around gasped, but Tempyst smiled as she let the snake back loose into her hair. "It's alright, some poisons acts as a sedative and it will lessen his pain while the spiders work.

It was only a matter of moments before the spiders had weaved a bandage over the young man's arm and then scurried back into the folds of Tempyst's cloak. She turned to Shara and smiled. "There, now that will hold until he can get back home." She could see the stunned look on Shara's face. "One must do what one must do in battle. One must take help wherever they can get it. Now," Tempyst looked around, "let's get to work."

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Leov could see the horror on the priestess' face as she flipped through the book. Leaning against the hull, he closed his eyes and worried quietly to himself: "Damn..." Opening his eyes, he noticed Lithwyn steadying herself and looking noticably drained. "Where did you get this?" she asked. Despite his suspicions of the priestess, Leov was sorry to have caused her such pain.

Feeling the proverbial wall at his back, Leov quickly went over his web of lies and half-truths, trying to figure out something she we would believe as he took the book from her and wrapped it back up. "I'm sorry. I know it's bad, but..." his voice trailed off. Her reaction had confirmed his fears, now he only hoped to get rid of the damned book before the same thing happened to his people. "As for where I got it..." He paused for a moment as he weighed his limited options: "I can't tell her the truth. She's too good-hearted to sell me out, but I can't take that chance. The last thing I need is Deltheron hanging me for piracy. I've got too much left undone." Leov placed the book in one the crates and helped Lithwyn regain her footing. "She deserves more than just a bold-faced lie, though." Leov sighed as he came to a compromise with himself. "I got it from the same guy who left me with this junk."

Leov realized too late that he had told her just moments before that he had found it. He hoped that she didn't realize it as well.

Written by - Rikshanthas

"It is very difficult to understand the one you love ..." Tempyst began, and the rest barely registered as that one word echoed in Sharanya's ears. "I don't- He isn't- we're not-" she sputtered, then clamped her jaw shut, blushing as she was forced to admit the truth. She chuckled ruefully: she, a High Born Lady of the elven people, had given her heart to a bastard, mixed-blood, all-too-human mercenary. Her parents would die of shame if they ever found out; she found that thought oddly comforting. She smiled slightly at Tempyst, who answered with an understanding grin. Then she turned to give something to the elf Nohlani, whose charge Sharanya was able to closely examine for the first time since they had arrived. The older elven woman seemed familiar somehow ... Eru’Erain? she thought, a puzzled frown forming on her face as Tempyst left toward one of the buildings, saying something about obtaining help. We are rather far from the Naur’Llth of our homeland, sister; I wonder, how came you to be here, a prisoner of the orcs ... She tried to place where she knew the woman, and was reminded of Nen A’Naur, the day she had embarked on the fateful journey which had led her to this day. She had managed to evade her "babysitters" -- the term had become her favorite insult for the two swordsingers who had been shadowing her ever since her father had caught her sneaking out of the manor one night -- and was arranging transport with a group of sea elves ...

Her line of thought was interrupted by Tempyst's returning, determination in her step. She turned to the young man Shara had been helping and said to her, "Let me help him, I can lessen the pain." Sharanya felt a slight flush of annoyance at being distracted from something that could have been important, but she stepped back, answering with, "If you can, then go ahead. I'm not very good with this kind of thing," she said, annoyed at her own helplessness. The girl's methods, however, startled her; she opened her mouth to protest, but subsided as the spiders used their sticky webs to form a rather efficient bandage, allowing the wound to heal without risk of infection. Then the young woman drew out of her hair what Sharanya realized, with a little surprise, was a garden snake, one of the more docile breeds if she remembered her lessons correctly; as the snake moved to bite the wounded arm, she remembered a more relevant point - its mild venom acted as an anaesthetic and sedative, easing the man's pain and allowing him to rest and recover from the shock.

"There, now that will hold until he can get back home," Tempyst said, smiling. "One must do what one must do in battle; one must take help wherever they can get it." Sharra was stunned at the degree of familiarity this girl had with natural methods; as a ranger she had learned to appreciate nature, but to have such a deep understanding and connection with it --

Of course, she thought suddenly, mentally slapping her forehead. "Your skills are much needed and welcome here, child of Nyrondis," she said almost formally, then broke into a relieved grin. "I should have recognized your calling; it's been too long since my days in the woodlands of my home," she said, nostalgia touching her voice. "But there is much healing needed; as you said, let's get to work," she finished with a nod. Nagarren guide me, she added privately as she moved to assist the injured coming in, her inability to do more than patch a few cuts and set a broken bone here or there eventually driving her to frustration.

She was unaware of when she had started praying to Nagarren again, but she soon found herself whispering a prayer with each wound she addressed. She thought once more of her days in Nagarren's Temple, when she had been a senior Acolyte, as she moved to catch a human soldier being supported by a tired elven ranger. She had been only a child then; gifted, but shy in the goddess' presence. She had fled the Temple not long afterward. Shaking her head at such idle flights of memory, she turned her attention fully toward helping the young soldier.

The man's left leg seemed to have been given an extra joint between the knee and ankle; his face was grim, convinced he would lose the leg. Sharanya's experience in mending bones allowed her to reassure the young soldier however; though the break looked nasty it was clean, and fairly easily set. She estimated he would be back on his feet in a few days. Goddess let my words be true, she prayed silently. As she set and splinted the broken limb, her mind wandered back to the Temple. She had been afraid, she remembered; afraid to open herself fully to Nagarren's influence, to release herself into the goddess' care. Finally beginning to understand as she never had in her youth, she sought that connection with a need she had never before known she had. As she rested her hands on the man's injured leg, praying for healing, she felt the goddess' presence as on the other side of a rusted door; Nagarren was still there, had never left her side, the door merely needed to be reopened. Sharanya summoned all her inner resources to that task, calling on all she had learned, both in the Temple and since. For a long time she felt her attempts were futile, until finally she knew -- she was the door, her own walls keeping the goddess out; and she tore them down willingly, reaching out to Nagarren in full acceptance of her path. She felt the warmth of Nagarren's healing power, and willingly lost herself in that connection, allowing the goddess to work through her to bring healing to the many injured here. As those around watched, her hands glowed warmly on the broken limb, the soldier's pained features relaxing into the peace of healing rest. The bone knitted together, torn muscles began to regenerate before their eyes. Finally the glow faded, and Sharanya collapsed next to the soldier, a serene expression on her face. The last words spoken before the darkness embraced her were felt in the hearts of those near her:

Welcome back, my child.

Written by - Trinni Shannon

"I got it from the same guy who left me with this junk."

Nodding her head absentmindedly, her nod slows then stops as he can see her mind working around the sentence. Her eyebrows lower in a frown as Lithwyn looks at him quizzically. Rising to her full height, exhaustion diminishing now the accursed book has been put away, she stands in front of Leov.

"Mr. Klein, did you or did you not say that you "found" this? How can it be abandoned if someone gave it to you?"

Watching his expression change to shock and dismay at the realization of his little slip, she grows increasingly angry as she begins to berate him.

"If, by that, you mean you "found" it in someone's storehouse and you felt it perfectly alright to STEAL it because no one was looking, then I'm sorry but Lothiel-Gadith will have nothing to do with you, your ship, or your ill-gotten goods."

Poking his chest to emphasize the stressed words, she all but glares down at him... a seemingly impossible feat as he has at least an inch or two on her.

"I'm sorry, but I do not harbor thieves in my Citadel. Either you explain yourself now or I will have you removed, by force if necessary."

Her hands on her hips, she barely controls the urge to turn and leave. Only her sense of fairness, of needing to hear the other side before casting judgement, keeps her in place.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

"Mr. Klein, did you or did you not say that you "found" this? How can it be abandoned if someone gave it to you?" Lithwyn said with a rising anger. "Oh damn, here it goes..." he thought to himself as Lithwyn began to berate him. "If, by that, you mean you "found" it in someone's storehouse and you felt it perfectly alright to STEAL it because no one was looking, then I'm sorry but Lothiel-Gadith will have nothing to do with you, your ship, or your ill-gotten goods," he stood there unphased as she poked him in the chest. "I'm sorry, but I do not harbor thieves in my Citadel. Either you explain yourself now or I will have you removed, by force if necessary."

A smile slid across Leov's face before he burst into laughter. "So that's your angle, is it Little Phoenix?" Regaining his composure, he began to make the best of what he had to work with:" Well, Lithwyn... the way I see it, you are hardly in a position to be making demands. Look around... you're on my ship, surrounded by my crew." He stepped towards her before continuing, "I may have been a bit forward, but I wasn't this rude to you, now was I?" He paused, then looked her squarely in her eyes: "Now, my Little Phoenix, I suggest you calm yourself down and try to question me in a more civilized manner. Like I said before: for you, I have all the time in the world."

Written by - Trinni Shannon

He stepped towards her and Lithwyn had a moment of panic as she realized her precarious position. She was on a ship outside the citadel, no guards were in ear shot, she did not bring any weapons with her, and Kaia'hanas wasn't answ...

I'm here, do not fear.

Well, okay, Kaia'hanas was still on her side. But why she didn't answer a moment ago...? His continuation interrupted her thoughts.

"I may have been a bit forward, but I wasn't this rude to you, now was I? Now, my Little Phoenix, I suggest you calm yourself down and try to question me in a more civilized manner. Like I said before: for you, I have all the time in the world."

Taking a breath, she narrows her eyes as the pupils dilate, trying to calm her anger even as her cheeks continue to redden with fury. Speaking softly and carefully, she levels her gaze at him, all pretense of humor and cordiality gone.

Turning on forced politeness, she responds, "Mr. Klein... I truly hope your intention was not to threaten the Lady and Commander of Lothiel-Gadith. You speak of rudeness? Let us assume, for the moment, that your alluding to my vulnerability on your ship was purely unintentional and innocent. After all, I am far from vulnerable, regardless of whose ship I am on. Please do not forget you are a guest by my admission only.

To the matter at hand, do not feign hurt feelings in an attempt to guide the conversation away from the topic of your honor. Perhaps my response seemed excessive to you, but I do not take such lawlessness lightly. You would do best to cut the pretenses and explain your position. You may have all day at your disposal, my flatterer, but I do not."

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Leov hid his amusement at Lithwyn's fury. "Please, stop with the 'mister'. My name is Leov, not 'mister'. And I liked you a lot better when you were just Lithwyn." He locked his hands behind his head and leaned back against the hull again. "I'm sorry if I made you feal uncomfortable or threatened. I never intended to do so.

He yawned, then looked at her, smiling, and said "If I understood all that flowery language right, you want me to get to the point and tell you why the hell I'm here. Well, here you go: I used to be the foreman of Kassal's - that island off the coast of Westgale - docks. Anyways, after Beridane took over, everything went to hell. The island's not even a shadow of itself anymore..." His voice trailed off. "The people there... my people... still supported Pallanon. There was frequent talk of rebellion, but nobody ever did anything about it. One day, not too far back, I assualted one of the magistrate's "soldiers" who was about to kill a woman who was just trying to feed her kid. The next day... the bastard burned the entire village and killed Tinorb knows how many. It was all... all because of what I did." Leov paused again to beat back the emotion welling up inside him. "I couldn't... bear to see it. I couldn't let my actions kill more of the people I loved so much. So gathered up the ones who wanted to leave... and I ran... I ran away like a coward."

He leaned over and picked the evil book up out of the crate he had thrown it into, then sat it down beside him. "Originally, we were going to Shrikefield. I figured a neutral nation would be the safest place for them. But on the way, we ran across an Ironskane ship... one that we had loaded up back at Kassal. It was adrift... deserted... I ordered my men to take everything they could from the ship, and that's how I came about these," he said, smacking the crate he was standing next to. "Then I checked out the captain's quarters and found this," he held the book up, then put it back down on the crate. "Later on... we found out that the ship was going to Shrikefield... I was out of options, so I turned the ship around and... I guess Tiertiala brought me here... there's no use denying it anymore." He sighed, reluctantly accepting the truth.

"So there you have it..." he said calmly, his voice just above a whisper. "All I want... is a place for them... for her... to live in peace - without fear, without want, without pain. If you can give that to them... if you can give them what I can't... then I'll do whatever you want me to..."

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya closed her eyes and relished the sweet water as it washed down her parched throat. She opened them as she felt a hand brush against her forhead and looked to see a young human woman gazing at her with concern. She heard the young lady speak. "Nohlani, take these. Feed them to her slowly and she will regain her strength quickly. There does not seem to be anything physically wrong with her."

"Thank you miss." Nohlani looked to what was in his hands and saw four, plump, purple berries. He smiles as he held one up to Kaya's mouth. "Please Lady Talas, eat this, it will help you regain your strength." Kaya saw the berry and figured it to be something enchanted. the Eru'Erain practiced such tricks, imbuing fruits and nuts with magics to help them survive out in the desert. She opened her mouth and then closed it and slowly chewed the sweet, then tart tasting berry. After a few moments, she could feel a warm rush through her body and felt the life coming back into her.

"I think I am ready for another Nohlani and please, just call me Kaya." She held out her hand and Nohlani places the three remaining berries into her still slighty shaky hand. Kaya looked around as she ate the berries, enjoying their unique flavor and the fact she was feeling sated and content for the first time in months. She could see the young human girl who had helped her, help bandage one who had lost a limb. When she saw the spiders come out and begin to weave the bandage, she smile, recalling such practices from the few druids that had been a part of her guard. She also noticed the young elven ranger beside her, face still fresh even beneath the dirt and grime. That one has not seen much battle I suspect, but that will soon change if she stays here. Kaya continued to observe her surroundings as she became more and more alert and aware. As her body regained strength, she could feel the adrenaline begin to flow as the sounds of battle reached her ears. It was then she felt it stir again. I feel you demon, but as I told you, I am not going to give up, I am not going to just let you walk all over me. She could feel the thing inside her, crawling under her skin, almost laughing as she made her internal statement. Laugh all you want, but I am no longer weak or a prisoner. Kaya looked up to the elf who had rescued her, his eyes still full of concern.

"It is apparrent that you know who I am, now your name again, Nohlani wasn't it?" Nohlani nodded. "Good, I need to give..." her mind thought warning before she said it, but it never left her lips. Instead she felt her throat tighten and her body wrack with a deep choking cough.

"My Lady, I mean Kaya, please do not rush yourself, you have been through a horrible ordeal." Nohlani stepped closer and handed her a cup of water. "Take it slow and easy." Kaya took the cup and drank from it, her throat clearing.

"There is no..." time for slow and easy. Kaya began choking again before the words could be said. DAMN YOU! Kaya screamed inside at the demon. Damn you, what have you done to me now?

Thisss isss not of my doing child, but of the one who put me here. If you keep trying to ssspeak of anything pertaining to your predictament, thisss isss what will happen. The creature inside her gloated as it spoke. But it quickly became quiet when he felt a tingle, letting him know the demon hunters sensed him speak. They can sssense me, it thought, but luckily, that doesss not ussse enough of my power to let them pinpoint me, only worry and sssearch and reveal themssselvesss to me. He felt a small surge of power and saw the druid who had given the berries, look around, concerned, as if searching for something. Ah, ssso it isss a team, wonderful...wonderful. The demon settled back down and began to soak up the chaotic energy all around him.

Kaya felt a chill go up her spine as she took another drink of water. Okay, lets try this again, I can't tell what is going on with me, I wonder if I can at least tell them I want to join in the battle.? Kaya took a deep breath, then slowly rose to her feet. She still felt a little shaky and Nohlani held out a hand for her. But she stood on her own, getting her balance and composure. "I believe I shall be fine Nohlani. I was just trying to say," she paused for a moment, 'is that I would like to speak to whoever is in charge and offer my services as thanks for my rescue. Besides, I have some payback to dish out."

Nohlani smiled, even though his eyes still showed concern. "I am sure Lord Ithramir would welcome your expertise, but still Kaya, you should not push yourself and at least wait until the morrow before you join in."

Lord Ithramir? THEE Lord Ithramir? Kaya could not believe her ears. Ever since she was a child she had heard stories of Ithramir and of his struggles here to keep peace and the orcs at bay; her was her hero. She smiled, realizing she was thinking like a start struck child. She tried to take a step forward, then stumbled, falling into Nohlani's arms. "Perhaps you are right, the berries have helped me throw off the immediate affects of my imprisonment, but I should let my body adjust. But I WILL be ready by tomorrow to join in the battle." Kaya sat back down and layed back under the canvas. She closed her eyes and with the familar sounds of battle in the distance, she fell into her first semi-peaceful sleep in ages.

Written by - Tempyst

"Your skills are much needed and welcome here, child of Nyrondis," Shara said almost formally, then broke into a relieved grin. "I should have recognized your calling; it's been too long since my days in the woodlands of my home," she said, nostalgia touching her voice. "But there is much healing needed; as you said, let's get to work," she finished with a nod. Tempyst nodded back and smiled, then turned and made her way through the wounded. She tried to use as little of her magic as she could, she new if she expended too much on any one injured soldier, she may not be able to help any others. But the creatures of Nyrondis she called upon, helped her with the more severe cases.

There was one young female elven ranger, who had been caught with some shrapnel from a magical explosion. There was much debris in her wounds and Tempyst could not see all of it. She calmed the young woman by handing her a small yellow tubar. "Here, chew this, it is honey root, it will help you relax and ease the pain." The ranger nodded, recognizing the plant name and took the root. After a few moments of chewing, her eyes closed and her breathing relaxed and steadied. Tempyst then held her hand out and whispered a few words into the wind. After a moment, a line of ants marched down her arm and onto the ranger's leg. Tempyst watched the workers do what they did best, find and carry objects bigger than they from one place to another. Within a few minutes, the ants drug out every bit of debris, some of it a hundred times bigger than the ant itself. Once all the ants were out of the wound, Tempyst flushed it with a little water then stitched it up by hand.

Suddenly, she felt a chill run up her spine and a knot clutch in her stomach as if she would suddenly become ill. It is here. She thought, The demon is truly here. She looked around, concern for Lucant and Ithramir filling her. She closed her eyes and reached out her senses, trying to find her husband, seeing if their bond would reach through the crowds yet. Lucant my love, be careful, I felt it. It is here. She hoped he could hear her, or at least sense her concern. Then, as quickly as the sick feeling came over her, it was gone.

She sighed, then stood, looked around and saw Shara collaspe. She moved to elf and could sense that she had just opened herself up to receiving help from a higher power and had already experienced what she, herself was trying to avoid. She made sure Shara was comfortable, then went back to work, healing and calming those who had fought so bravely, her thoughts still on her husband and his safety.

Written by - Sycon

So this is Minas Aure.

It could have possibly been a beautiful place if it wasn’t for the smell of blood. A battlefield was never a place to admire the beauty. Those who truly lived in the heat of battle, and enjoyed it, were nothing but killers.

In Sycon’s mind, those who played with death either despised themselves or had a streak of pure evil running through their veins. You could say he was on the first of the sides. After you took one’s life and felt their soul rip slowly from their bodies, you get a feeling deep inside you that you will never forget. A remorse that is more painful than the sharpest of daggers could ever bring him.

Sycon shook his head. These thoughts would not lead him anywhere in his tasks at hand. He was not here to take life, at least not today. The trees were slightly below his feet, as he levitated above them. The breeze caught across his robes. He had cut the sleeves out of them a few weeks earlier to make a sash around his waist. The bottoms were also split and tucked into his black cuffed boots. Not many mages or healers wore their robes this way, but they did not carry a sword the way he did, or even would. The style was made for quick movements while wearing the robes of a mage, either to dodge an oncoming attack or parry a blow.

The Long Blade and the way of the Jen’e’tai. It was a single blade, longer than most swords and not as thick as you would expect. This blade dealt more towards agility and dexterity rather then sheer strength. By nature Sycon was a mage, but he was by no means helpless without his magics.

Sycon slowly started descending towards the earth. Sinking into the trees below as the shade engulfed his human frame. It had been a while, Sycon had guessed, since this battle had begun. His plan was to sneak into the camp unnoticed and see what was to behold. He was rather curious himself as to who he could meet. Sycon’s feet touched ground and he stumbled slightly. He cursed under his breath. He had never had so much trouble on Aerynth focusing his powers, but this realm seemed quite different. “Just keep placing one foot in front of the other,” his old mentor words reverberated through his mind.

The trees were starting to thin as he walked towards the war camps. It was Ithramir’s camps. He had heard tell of this Ithramir, through rumors and what not, and Sycon was anxious to see if he could perhaps catch a glimpse of him. It would be interesting to see an Avatar…hopefully.

There were guards stationed nearby, he knew. He could feel their presence. Sycon was a warlock, and in his home realm, he could read the thoughts of others and even bend others minds to his will… but here, he was lucky to even get a glimpse of their thoughts. He could always tell when someone was around though, but their intentions weren’t always clear.

The guard was a bit off and seemed anxious to leave, or so it seemed by his posture. He was probably at the end of his watch and another guard must be on his way to relieve him. This was the best chance as ever to go in. Sycon waited for a moment when the guard turned his head to look back into the camp, probably looking for his relief, and levitated slightly off the ground, so not to make any noise running, and swiftly moved towards and into the camp.

It was quite easy. There seemed to be no magical boundaries or wards set up. Then again it was a recent war camp and those important enough to protect were more than likely well protected. Now that he was in, there was no point in hiding himself from everyone. Hiding in plain sight was always one of his favorite strategies. He started strolling around the camp as though he truly belonged there. He watched several others rushing past, with seemingly endless tasks to finish, and started mimicking their actions. But where should he start?

Of course, the medical rooms. It was a genius place to see how the battles had gone. But he would need a symptom. Ah, blinded by some head trauma or perhaps shock from witnessing the blood shed of battle. Sycon searched throughout the camp, quickly going from one area to the next. Some had people conversing, other supplies, and yet others completely empty. And, with his reoccurring luck these days, the last place to check was the one he was looking for, although he now had a good understanding of the camp and its layout though.

Sycon quickly ducked inside and found an empty cot. Laying his sword off to the side, he jumped into it. He looked around him. Soldiers, rangers, and other assorted folk were all gathered in the cots, seemingly oblivious to all else but their own pain. He could say little as he saw some were missing limbs. Ah, and there were the healers, making their way down the rows of beds. They would be to him before too long, or so he guessed. He found a small strip of linen beside his head. He wrapped it around his eyes making a knot in the back and laid down on the cot.

The cot felt good as his muscles relaxed a bit. It had been a while since he had laid down.

Now all he had to do was wait and see who would approach him. Better to let them approach you then go seeking them out. Suspicion and all…

Written by - Rikshanthas

They made slow progress across the Citadel at first, but with time Vhar'Kanix began to accustom himself to one less leg joint, and his balance improved, though to an outside observer he would appear slightly inebriated. Eventually they arrived at Lithwyn's office, and Aelarra knocked. And waited. Then knocked again. Exhaling loudly, she said, "Lady Lithwyn must be making her rounds; oh well, we can wait here, I guess."

"I would much like to accustom myself to this form, before such an important meeting," Vhar replied seriously, waving slightly on his feet. This caused him to chuckle, the sound of which surprised him. Which only made him laugh harder, until he had to steady himself against the wall, shivering slightly with mirth. "Gods, I feel like a child again," he said with an almost embarrassed grin. His humor was infectious, and Aelarra found herself smiling along with him, though she couldn't quite understand his good humor; one would understand if he were upset or confused, but the man seemed positively giddy!

Vhar noticed her puzzled expression, which only set him off into another fit of guffaws, until they started drawing attention from those passing nearby. He finally subsided, wiping tears from his eyes as he waved the curious away. When he had regained enough breath to explain, he said, "I'm sorry, the thought just struck me, I am like a child again. Everything you take for granted, from walking to speaking to the simple act of laughter, is new and strange to me; it is a rather humbling experience. I haven't felt this ... young in over five centuries," he chuckled.

"Five centuries!" Aelarra breathed, stunned at such longevity. "Oh yes," he replied, "my people do live a very long time, and we have very long memories; it is our blessing and our curse, as the world changes around us we remain the same. It would take an age to explain fully why I so enjoy this turn of events, but I would very much like -" and he was startled by a rumble that seemed to emanate from his belly, to his alarm. It was Aelarra's turn to chuckle. "I guess we shall have the time, for I would venture to guess you haven't eaten in those five centuries, have you?"

"Not the way you people do, no," he agreed, and she led him toward the kitchens to see if they could snag something.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst turned around after wrapping up wound on an old dwarve's neck. It had taken her a bit of talking before he even let her near him, seems he was afraid she would shave off his beard. But with a little reassurance, the dwarf let her do her work and even praised her when she did not even remove one hair. Wasn't that cot just empty? I didn't see anyone come by. She thought, seeing a new patient on a cot near the edge of the infirmary. She walked over and took notice of the man, obviously he had seen some battle, but as she looked him over with her senses, she could not find any obvious injuries, though his eyes were bandaged.. She moved close and knelt beside the cot, taking one of the man's hands gently into her own, while with her other, she carefully placed upon the man's forhead to see if there was any sign of fever. "Don't worry friend," she spoke softly, a gentle wind picking up, carrying the smell of fertile earth and new rain throughout the tent. "My name is Tempyst and I am here to help. Have you hurt your eyes? Please, tell me what has happened."

Written by - Sycon

Sycon sensed one of the....how to explain them...nurses nearby. He could feel her eyes moving over him. Probably trying to figure the cause to his illness. Sycon, being the irrational person that he was, starting thinking of exactly what to say only after she had started her question.

She moved close and knelt beside the cot, taking one of the man's hands gently into her own, while with her other, she carefully placed upon the man's forhead to see if there was any sign of fever. "Don't worry friend," she spoke softly, a gentle wind picking up, carrying the smell of fertile earth and new rain throughout the tent. "My name is Tempyst and I am here to help. Have you hurt your eyes? Please, tell me what has happened."

Sycon's brain wracked with thought, he worked better under pressure anyway. He was a good liar and had no problem with doing so, especially when this was sort of a game to him. Words started appearing from no where in his mind as he spoke, "I...I don't really remember. Sort of...I mean I'm not sure. The orcs were everywhere, and I...they..." Sycon paused for a second for dramatics. He thought he was doing rather good.

"I took them head on, cutting them down one by one...but...they came in greater numbers still..." He gained in confidence of his story.

"Then another, and another...I reverted to the arts to repel several as they came at me at once. I knew my mana wouldn't hold long, and I didn't know what to do. They...they closed in to make their final blow on me, I knew it was going..." Sycon stopped not wanted to finish the sentence or else someone think he was lying.

"I found a last reserve of mana, so I nursed it, just like you are helping me now," Sycon took his free hand and put it over her hand that was on top of his and grasped with warmth, "pushing into a smaller and smaller ball. Creating a ball so compressed and full of energy it would just lash out. So I drove it deeper," Sycon's breath picked up, trying to imitate like he was reliving the tale, "and deeper until I could not contain it anymore. But I lost control of it. A blinding flash illuminated the area, and everything went pitch white....then blackness. I was thrown back, injured on the ground. Mostly bruises and scrapes. I crawled around for a while until someone found me and brought me here to you." He let his lips twitch into a small smile as he gave a short grasping pressure with his hand on hers, only letting it settle for a second then relaxing.

"Here, let me know who you are, and thank you, Tempyst." He said her name more lulling than the rest of the sentence. The twitch of a smile slightly broadened, more than likely giving him away. It was Sycon's mistake to begin with and he knew it was going to be. But he didn't care. His hand slowly slid up her arm, running over her skin. He was attempting to pull the blind man trick, needing to feel someone to actually see them. He knew that his story was being recently blind and no actual man, by any means, could pick up that trick so fast...but maybe she didn't care, who knows. She had been working for a while, he could feel she was slightly tired, but to the point of exhaustion. He tried to probe her mind, but this blasted realm would not let him do such a thing, so he just tried to sense any feelings coming off of her. Seeing if she was possibly catching red a face at his...friendliness. He knew he was a bit of a looker, and even with his eyes bandaged, he wondered what he face looked like now. His hands made their way up to her shoulder and up to her neck before Sycon could reach up no further without leaning himself up. If he was right, she might be quite the looker herself, but that might be jumping the hare if with his eyes bandaged. He wanted to reack up though, but that might give away his guise.

Written by - Tempyst

"Here, let me know who you are, and thank you, Tempyst." Tempyst saw the smile the man had, and smiled herself. She sensed something was up, but also knew that this man could just be dealing with his situation with humor, bad humor. But she let his hand wander up her arm and when his hand reached her neck, she spoke.

"Now, you are going to feel a slight sting..." She paused as the garden snake that was in her hair slid out and chomped down on the man's hand between forefinger and thumb. The man let out a surprised yip and drew his hand back quickly. "That will help you relaxe sir, so that I may better assess your situation. Now, let's take a look at those eyes." Tempyst leaned forward and began to unwrap the poor man's eyes. "And, how should I address you sir? Sir sounds so formal and I think we are beyond formalities."

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