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Book Two - A Gathering Storm

Written by - Ezikial Page 3 Book 2

The crafting halls of the mountain home Kazukthul lay dark and still. The lanterns dimmed to stimulate the pale moon lit sky of the outside world, the legendary blacksmiths and jewelers of the great citadel resting, preparing for a new dawn filled with hard work and the discipline needed to work their crafts to perfect weapons and armor of the combined human and dwarven forces of the city below Graedium peak. The halls and shops groan and whisper amongst themselves, cooling off after the blasts of heat and fire needed to work the hardy archanthite metal having finally debated.

The forges are darkened, the fire extinguished or shuttered, save one. From here the silence is interrupted by the rhythmic beating of hammer on anvil, a sound so common to the halls, yet so out of place at this late hour.

Shadows dance wildly across the forge and stocky figure hovering over his work, sparks flying from the red hit iron as the mallet strikes true, forming the metal. Each stoic stroke brings a flash of fleeting light to the forge, glinting off the sweat beading the dwarven blacksmith's face and upper arms. His eyes, however, stay alight on their own, burning with the inner fire of the smith's love for his work. The dwarf is fast approaching his middle years, yet it shows little as he molds the archanthite with reserved and disciplined strokes. He is in little more than breeches and a blacksmith's apron, his powerfully corded muscles thick from crafting and wielding weapons.

Hours pass, little more than moments to an older dwarf lost in his trade. Dawn begins to break night's darkened hold on the peak of Graedium, bringing a crisp light to the chill mountain. Yet, the dwarf works on, his hammer never missing a beat, his eyes burning with determination.

And it is with a striking suddenness that his work finishes, the rhythmic beating ending. The mountain itself holds its breath, not a sound echoing down the halls as it waits for a sign from the master of the forge. And it comes, barely a whisper, yet it hangs in eternity.

"It is done."

The master craftsman emerges from his sweltering forge, shaking visibly from the effort put forth on his creation and the excitement of its completion. With quickening steps he moves through the stirring halls, dwarf and man alike just shaking the last remnants of sleep from their minds as they watch him pass, their eyes alighting on the covered parcel he carries with reverence in front of him. Many wonder what he carries, though none ask it. A dwarf with a want and will to accomplish it is never one to be bothered, and the proud blacksmiths of Kazukthul were no exception.

A cold gust of air tugs at the blacksmith's graying beard as he trots towards a side entrance of his mountain home. The smaller hideaways and escape tunnels were rarely used or visited, but the dwarf preferred to be alone.

His breath erupts into a white cloud as he emerges from the carefully concealed exit, his eyes squinting as he gives a moment to the view around him. The gorgeous snowy peaks rose majestically to his sides, the morning sun glittering on their crowns. A sigh escapes the dwarf as he looks upon his home with love and admiration, a sigh he didn't know he was holding. His calloused hands gingerly move to remove the cloth, slowly revealing the glimmering crescent axe, a vibrant shade of pale blue like a crisp winter morning's sunshine.

With a flick of his wrist the cloth flies to the breeze, as he hefts the axe proudly above his head to rise among the peaks. He stands there, silent and still as the mountains, the chill breeze cutting itself upon the forged blades razor sharp edge. And with an audible hum, he sets to the second part of his training that day. With the grace and power of a tiger he spins and cuts, moving with measured purpose through the dwarven forms of battle as easily as he had worked with measured strokes on the forge.

The day passes slowly around the dwarf, watching with eternal patience as the axe continues to twist and twirl, though he shows no signs of stopping. It is only until the sun retreats behind the mountains that he finally relents in his training, grinning to himself as he marches to the closest tavern for an ale and the chance to show off his newest masterpiece to fellow blacksmiths and warriors alike.

Written by - Ariana

“Ag,” Mavigan thought. For some reason the sound sounded vaguely familiar to her. Ignoring his reach for her, she tried hard to remember why it seemed to pull forth feelings of comfort and home. “Ag,” she said softly to herself, as if voicing the syllable aloud would somehow circumvent her headache and reveal the information she sought.

“Ag,” she said again, just as softly, and then added, “Aggie?” directing confirmation from the old geezer that she had hit upon something true.

Father Agmund did not get the chance to reply before Mavigan was assaulted by a flurry of pink. Without asking for permission, the female in pink, having identified herself as a Priestess of Nagarren, put her hands on Mavigan and tried to probe her mind. Mavigan denied her access with relatively little effort, her mouth turning into a grim line with annoyance at the intrusion. The Priestess then began interjecting power into Mavigan’s form in various places, offering healing where no healing had been asked for.

Finally she stepped back, and Mavigan had to admit, her headache was better, and her feet certainly did not offer any twinges of protest; unfortunately, the same could not be said of her mood. Mavigan could not stand to be manhandled, even if the handling was done by a woman!

Sitting upright and swinging her feet over the side of the bed, she glared at the vision in pink and said through gritted teeth, “The headache is better. Thank you. Now, who the *&^& are you?”

Written by - Archeantus

The room exploded with uproarious laughter.

“You took the ancient crown from him?!”

More laughter belted out.

Vermigard sat upright upon the bed, white linen bandages had been carefully wrapped around his bare chest. In his hand was the ancient crown worn by generations upon generations of Kings and Queens, dating as far back, as it was tenuously whispered, to the High Queen Ariana. It was perhaps the world’s oldest relic.

“I took his hand as well for his insolence.”

Even more laughter.

“You are a piece of work boss.” Vermigard said wiping tears from his eyes.

“I take care of my own is all. I told you I would make it worth it to get us to Ancora.”

Vermigard nodded slowly, gazing at the ancient crown, thinking, He has no idea.

“Get ready; we leave as soon as we can.” Gadianton said.

“Where to?” Vermigard asked as he slipped gingerly out of bed.

“We shall find out momentarily. The mage is attempting to communicate with whatever it is inside the man that attacked you.”

Vermigard narrowed his eyes at the mention of the man that nearly killed him. “Why not kill him?” He asked angrily.

“The man holds great power within him. The moment we can harness it, you can personally pay his gut a visit with that sword of yours.”

“Very well.” Vermigard said with an angry spit to the stone floor.

The bounty hunter was dressed in no time and the two made it down through the bustling streets of Ancora to the dank dungeon, where the elven necromancer Kishkumen stood preparing to breech the man’s psyche.

They watched as a bright illumination flared and swarmed around the mage’s head. It molded and formed into a drab yellow snake-like cloud. Swirled around and around and twisted through the rusty bars of the cell. Once there in the cell, it hovered eagerly around the man’s head.

The man gasped, his eyes opened wide suddenly, and the mage finally smiled….fearfully.

He had broached an audience with the lich.

Written by - Agmund

He had failed to introduce himself to the lady of Nagarren, but he did as he was asked and stepped aside. He wondered why she would think he was uncapable of seeing to the Queens injuries, but considered the fact that the woman was young, and perhaps inpatient.

“Ag,” she said again, just as softly, and then added, “Aggie?” directing confirmation from the old geezer that she had hit upon something true.

He had wanted to respond, but decided there was merely to many people within the room, to many here that wished to see her and speak with her. It was all too much for him, and he knew that it would likely be too much for Mavigan as well. Intrusions, that’s probably what she thought of her visitors this day.

Slowly he moved towards the wall, and then inched his way towards the door. A decision had formed in his mind, and it was presently the only thing he could truly see. The closer he got to the door, the further he wanted to get away. Once to the side of the door he turned into it and stepped into the hall, his eyes looking back towards direction of his room.

Written by - Renalis

Crystal had not slept much that night, slipping in and out of her sleep-like trance for the few hours between the Queen falling alseep and the rise of Ardwen. When he opened his eyes, she too returned to the realm of the concious. Crystal paid careful note to Ardwen has he took a knee, in what seemed to be a prayer...

“Day shall yield to twilight, as fall to winter. In winter’s heart shall our people know a new spring, one that will be without end. Our enemies will bar our course: they will come with fire and steel to drive back the cold they cannot understand. They will march upon our cities, our lands, and our revered palaces. And we will kill them.

For we are the Refusers: we who are beyond death, beyond life, beyond all weakness. We pledge ourselves to this cause, the cause of the Firstborn. We will not yield, we will not falter, and we will offer no quarter. Let the lessers know they have invoked the wrath of the Throne of Stars itself, let them tremble from the chill of death, and let them curse the encroaching darkness. Gurth Gothrim Avari.”

"Such hate and anger rests in his heart..." she thought to herself, feeling the sorrow in his heart, "he seems to live only to kill." Crystal watched as the Warrior approached the table of food brought in. She watched as he grabbed a biscuit.

“Of course, of course! Why wouldn’t there be cheese biscuits here? Here, of all places!” His right eye shot up to the ceiling, as if he were trying to bore a hole in it with a glance, he continued, “Do not think that I don’t know what you’re doing All-Fool. Meddler! Do you think these little reminders matter to me? Idiot! I’ll have my vengeance – Deceiver - against all who have wronged me, especially against you . . . especially against you.”

Crushing the biscuit and leaving the room, Crystal went after him. Catching up to him in the hall, the Elven woman put her hand on his shoulder, and tugged with just enough force to get his attention. As he turned around, she grabbed his hands and put them together, cupped within her slender fingers,

"You do not know me sir, but I know what lies in your heart. I know the hatred, the sorrow, the anger, the loss. I know the feeling that the whole world, nay, the whole universe has plotted against you to take everything. I have felt your loss, and I too became a hollow vessel for death and destruction. I became what you too are on the path to becoming. You cannot let the darkness consume you, you must find yourself again, for no amount of killing will bring back your lost. You cannot let the presence or lack thereof of this "All-Father" govern you," Sighing, and looking downward at the faintly glowing violet crystal within her chest Crystal continues, "I thought I lost Renalis a long time ago and I lost everything that made me me. I went on a rampage and killed every demon remaining on my world and all those corrupted by them and serving them. I entered the Nether Realm in hopes of finding the source of demons but what I found was much better. I found my husband there, in the realm between worlds and everything changed. I realized that all I really wanted was to die and be with him. I took every risk and went after the stongest of evils in hope that I could lose. Live lord Ardwen. Live. Keep on going and defending the friends you have here, pledge yourself to this place and go on, despite all you have lost. It's what they would have wanted."

****

Renalis had found himself some suitable unoccupied quarters and gathered the best sleep he could. His thoughts were occupied with the events surrounding him at this point. He had come to this world only a month ago but he knew that it needed his help like any other he had come too, and he would help them in every way he could. The tides of darkness approached and although not demons, the Orcs were as nasty as them, and bent on the destruction of the Humans, Elves, Dwarves and the rest of Civilization as this world knew it Renalis could not let them go unchallenged.

Renalis arose from his bed and donned his armor, its Indego hue matching the sky. It was just before sunrise and Renalis could already hear the armies preparing for the battle that lay ahead, preparing to march to meet the Orcs. Renalis had thought long and hard on how to approach this situation and he came to a solution that Crystal would not approve of but he knew it had to be done. Surpressing the energies his crystal emmitted and laying a powerful enchantment on a piece of blank parchment he left on the desk Renalis left the quarters and headed to where Ithramir overlooked his troops.

"Lord Ithramir, as I stated last night, I pledge myself to your cause and I shall go with you, I am skilled in the arts of magic, and not just simple scrying..." A sly grin crept onto Renalis's face and the thoughts of what he was able to do at full power sufaced, "While not at my best I can still provide great assistance to your forces," Renalis took a knee, "Let me go with you Lord Ithramir, let me aid you and your people against this coming threat, let me help to save the innocents of this world, let me help" Renalis once again waited in the respectful kneeling position awaiting Lord Ithramir's response.

****

Back in his old chambers Renalis's enchantment went to work just as it was laid. The paper emulated the power of the crystal laying within Renalis's chest. It would fool his wife into believing that he was still in the Cidital while he went out to face the Orcs. Just as Renalis left the room, the paper came to life, and a message began to write itself onto the parchment's surface - the message Renalis wanted to give to his wife as she is no doubt to find the paper soon.

Crystal,

Have no fear.

I knew you would try to stop me from going, but I know what must be done. I know you would have tried to go with me so I tricked your senses into thinking I was still here. The Queen still needs protection. Not just from assassins, but there are those trying to control her life. You must be there for her. She may not know you well, nor trust you yet, but be there for her. There are things divine at work, there are politics, there are people with alterior motives. Be there for her, she could use a friend right now, or at the very least, someone to look up to, because by the Gods, if there is another woman as free-spirited as her, it is you. I must go with Ithramir if there is to be a hope of success. And before you start worrying again, know this; We have faced legions of demons together, and although we have yet to return to full power after traveling to this realm, I will not be alone against these forces.

I will always be with you my love.

Know that I will not be lost to you again.

- Renalis, your faithful

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst felt the chill run through her body once again. the feeling of pain and unbalance. For several days now, as she had been traveling thorugh the immense forest, she had felt what seemed like rips. She had finally found the source of one of these disturbances. To the naked eye, the forest seemed unchanged, undisturbed, but to her keen senses and fine attunement to the elements, she could sense and see the rip before her. She closed her eyes and listened; listened to the whispers of pain from the trees, the stones, even the small animals that had wandered through this place at the wrong time. Something unnatural had made this rip, and through this rip had come those who did not belong to this world.

Tempyst slumped to the ground and sat, overcome by the wrongness she felt, the pain and anger the forest was showing her. She whispered back, comforting the woods that she would do her best to ease their pain. After gathering herself and her energies, Tempyst rooted her self to ground, sending her spirit deep within the earth through her feet to find an anchor so she could do her work. She closed her eyes, tilted her face up to the trees and held her arms out. Her breath deepened and slowed, a wind picked up around her and began rushing about the injured area. Tempyst could smell the earth and the air all about her, felt the rest of the forest that had not been hurt come to her aid to help it's brethren. Roots traveled underground to the spot, sending energy and nourishment, trees stretched out their branches, and all plants sent out seedlings upon the wind so they could be deposited upon the area and spark new life.

Finally the wind dies down and Tempyst could feel the ache of this spot subside. She uprooted her spirit and sat down beside the large tree that had edged over from a few feet away. She let the residual energies seep into her, revitalizing the energy and life she had just given up, giving her strength, slowly, but surely restoring her. Looking about, she smiled sadly, this spot had been healed, but she knew there were many more around her and knew she could do her best, but whatever was making these rips, could not be stopped by just her healing up the mess they made.

Tempyst traveled on for many more days, stopping a few more times to heal a ripped area when she found one. She enjoyed helping the earth, for the earth had given her so much. She was joyed when she went a full day without feeling the pain from one of these areas. But it was on that day she looked from within the edge of the forest and saw the army before her. Never before had she seen so many people in one place. She remembered hearing Corren speak of such gatherings, but never imagined what it truly could be like.

I'm not sure about this. Perhaps this is not my path, perhaps I should turn around and make my way back to the conclave. This is not my world. Look at them, cutting down the forest, trampling the earth and stone; there is so many of them here, I cannot even hear the earth because of their sounds.

A'lanthear The sword whispered it's name in Tempyst's mind once again and showed her the blurred visions of an unknown man. It had not done such for many months now. She sighed, and knew she must go on. Nyrondis had given her this sword to protect until she found the champion and she wasn't going to find the champion by hiding in the forest.

"Alright, alright," she spoke to herself. "I cannot deny my path and I cannot deny the God's will. But that doesn't mean I have to enjoy the journey." Tempyst took a deep breath, adjusted the sword she carried across her back, gripped her staff tightly and stepped out from the forest.

At first she wasn't noticed, everyone seemed very engrossed with their own duties. But it did not take long fomr some shouts to be heard and she could see those before her pointing and yelling, some even charging forth with swords drawn. She was surrounded quickly, and bombarded by questions as to who she was and where did she come from, was she a spy; so many things were being spoken. She tried to recall what Corren had told her of these gatherings and finally was able to blurt out, "I need to speak to your commander."

"Oh, you'll be goin ta see tha commander miss. Now hand over your sword and we'll escort you there right away." The solder reached for the sword upon her back.

"I would not do that..." Before she could finish, the soldier had taken the grip within his hand. But it did not stay there long. He cried out in pain, letting go of the sword and dropping to his knees, holding his hands over his ears. The other soldiers took a step back, the one's who did not have swords dwarn did so now.

"What witchery is this!" The soldier screamed, finally standing and taking his hands from his ears. Tempyst could see the standard small trickle of blood coming from them.

"You did not let me finish. This sword is particular about who handles it. I do not wield it, I am it's keeper. Just take me to someone in charge please." The crowd of soldiers began to grow, causing Tempyst to start getting very unnerved. She was so not used to this much metal and clamor in one place and felt as if her own ears would begin bleeding. Her voice took on a more pleading tone as she spoke now. "Please, please, I am not here for any harm, I only wish to talk to someone about the rips within the forest. Please..." She felt as if she were going to be crushed by the wall or armor around her and she closed her eyes, trying to find a grounding point within the closing chaos.

Just as she felt as if it all was going to close in and drown her in iron and steel around, a commanding voice rose above the others, quieting all the others, shouting something about barbarians.

Written by - Turin Wallace

Ithramir stood by Diosr as the time slowly passed. Looking down, they both engaged in conversation as they watched the assembled host prepare themselves. Thinking on the siege, Ithramir's thoughts turned towards the human, barbarian, and dwarven settlements that rim the mountains that seperate Westgale and citadel lands. Turning to Diosr, he asks,

"Master dwarf, what do you know of the westgalian Ironskane mountain range? Or, in the old tongue, the Amlug Anc?"

Before a response could be given, Ithramir here's a commotion near one of the gates. Spying that a few guards were moving quickly to investigate, and with all the recent activity, he decides to ride over and investigate. He arrives just in time to hear the young woman say,

"You did not let me finish. This sword is particular about who handles it. I do not wield it, I am it's keeper. Just take me to someone in charge please. I am not here for any harm, I only wish to talk to someone about the rips within the forest. Please..."

Ithramir watched as the guards closed in on her, her desperation clearly heard in her cry. For a moment, he studies her closely. She seemed like one of the druids that inhabit the forests around this part of the world. Clearly, she had an heirloom of great power in the sword she carried. Other than that, she looked like no threat, and it was quite odd for one of her kind to make an open appearance with so many people about. His curiosity piqued, Ithramir calls out,

"It is enough, leave the forest woman alone. She wishes to speak to someone in charge, well then, come forward woman. Let us talk. The rest of you, get back to your preparations."

The guards at once stop attempting to take the woman, and her sword, and go back to their tasks. After a moment, Ithramir rides up to the woman, dismounts from his steed, and says,

"Well, now, you've caused quite a stir with that thing. Points to her sword. At any rate, I am Ithramir Sil-Galdur, lord of the citadel of Lothiel-Gadith and master of the lands from the ocean to Westgale. I hope I certainly fit the bill for, as you said, someone "in charge.""

With what can only be called a slight grin, he waits for the woman to respond.

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst looked up to the elf that approached her, her fear subsiding as the wave of metal parted. Taking a few deep breaths, she stood tall and watched him ride closer. As he dismounted, she heard his words, calling himself master of the lands, and being the one in charge, but his words meant little to her at that moment. She moved towards the one who called himself Ithramir and then stepped passed him, moving towards his steed. She placed a hand upon the soft warm muzzle and closed her eyes. Is he good? Is he kind? Her whispers of emotion poured through to the noble beast, asking how this individual truly was. She knew if he treated his companion well, then he could indeed be trusted. The horse whispered back, neighing softly, trusting this small woman. She could see that this Ithramir was in deed a good friend to his steed. The horse was proud to carry such a man into battle, loyal to his master and no one else, and was always pleased when the elf gave him the occasional carrot or other sweet treat. Tempyst smiled and opened her eyes and scratched the large horse under its jaw before turning towards the elf beside her. His slight grin turned into a bit of a puzzled look, as she was sure no one but he could ever get such a calm response from his horse.

“Your steed thinks highly of you.” She stated matter of factly. “But you certainly are not master of the lands you speak of. No one holds that title but those chosen by Nyrondis.” Tempyst took another step closer to the armored elf and looked up into his eyes, her purpose filling her. “I am Whisperling, servant of Nyrondis, child of the Deepshadow Glen, but you will call me Tempyst. And yes, you will do for someone in charge.” Her stance did not waver as she stood in the elf’s shadow. “This thing,” She gave his a dour look, “is A’lanthear and I am it’s guardian. I come here to seek the champion. No man may touch it without its permission, and your servant there, did not have permission.”

Tempyst took a deep breath, doing her best to keep her wits about her and herself brave among these new surroundings. “As I have traveled here, I have discovered damage done to the forest, wounds ripped through its very soul. Are you and your men here responsible for these unnatural openings? Is that how you all arrived here?” A’lanthear, is this the one? Please, tell it is so, so I may return home. But there was no whisper back from the sword at this time. She could feel a warm breeze pick up around her, giving her strength and comfort and reminded her she was not alone.

Written by - Wilhelm

Wilhelm followed the directions he was given and saw Ithramir on horseback, monitoring the elven army's preparation to march. As expected, Ithramir was very busy. Wilhelm gave him a friendly salute and then introduced himself to the dwarven commander Diosr. Then he stood by as the two commanders held a discussion. Wilhem saw Renalis come up and make his offer of service to Ithramir. Just then there was a commotion at the gates and Ithramir rode off to investigate. Wilhelm noticed Renalis was still kneeling on the ground, and said,

"You might as well get up and follow him. Ithramir no doubt heard you, but he is very busy. Follow and stand by and he will reply in time. I expect he will accept your offer. Will your wife be staying behind?"

Written by - Renalis

The loud commotion caught Renalis's attention and he raised his head. He could see many guards swarming an area at the edge of the forest. Ithramir too was enthralled by this sudden bustling of activity at the edge of his camp and rode off to investigate. Somewhat insulted Renalis reminded himself that as a man of command that it was Ithramir's duty to investigate.

"You might as well get up and follow him. Ithramir no doubt heard you, but he is very busy. Follow and stand by and he will reply in time. I expect he will accept your offer. Will your wife be staying behind?"

Renalis immediately recognizes the voice of Wilhelm even with the change of attire and although he had planned to already, follows his advice and rises, sheathing his sword. "Lord Wilhelm, good to see you once more. I hope he does accept my service as I wish to help the people of this land. The subject of my wife on the other hand is... well... touchy to say the least." Renalis takes a deep breath before continueing, "Knowing that I am leaving, you cannot alert her, acts of deception are not to my liking but this one - like the dinner - is necessary. I know what we travel to face and even knowing just how well she can take care of herself I cannot bring myself to have her there." touching the crystal within his chest which was currently not glowing at all, Renalis goes on, "Lord Wilhelm, she will know after we have left that I am gone, I cannot trick her for long, let her know that I did this for her protection and that she is needed here."

With Wilhelm's acknowledgement Renalis bows, "Thank you sir. Until next we meet." then turns and moves to catch up to Ithramir.

Written by - Turin Wallace

Inwardly, Ithramir sighed. Must humans always have some type of attitude when they speak. Chalking it up to racial flaw, Ithramir replies to the young woman,

"Tempyst, is it? Yes, well, I can assure you that I am master of these lands. As were those who were the lords before me. Whose blood do you think was spilled so long ago to protect these lands? Whose blood still pours out onto the ground to give you, and your kind, the ability to nuture and defend her? If it were not for us, and certain others, this land would be barren and charred by the Orcs and other nasty beasts. Nature may be wild and free, but she also requires payment, and so do we. It has been a benifical arrangement so far."

Pausing for a moment, he then adds,

"Now, as for these "rips", I can assure you it is not our doing. As I have said, our people have been here for millenia. As have the humans and the dwarves. I only know of one being who passed through a magical gate and that is an alien being who is now guarded in our library."

Studying the young woman, he says,

"Most of your kind, wild though they may be, knows who their friends are. From your tone, and demeanor, I do not sense this in you. Accusatory and ill-tempered are your words. The druids of these lands have always been welcome here, though their visits have not been often of late. You are more than welcome to stay, even visit the stranger who is in our library, but I would ask that you be at ease. No one wishes to do harm to the lands here."

Just before the woman can reply, Ithramir hears someone calling his name, and after turning around he can see a guard approaching. Pardoning himself a moment, he turns to the guard and asks why he is being disturbed. The guard replies,

"Ahem, yes sir, well...I think you forgot about the young man who pledged to you his service. I don't mean to imply you forgot..*ahem*...but he is still waiting for your reply. In fact, I asked him to follow me here."

Looking back, Ithramir can see the young man approaching. Closing his eyes a moment to hide the look of idiocy that would run over his face, he opens them again and simply motions for the guard to get out of the way. Speaking up, Ithramir says,

"Renalis, yes, you are indeed welcome into our service. We need all that can to fight. If you desire to ride with us, by all means, prepare yourself and your horse. If there is anything you need, do not hesitate to ask a guard."

Turning his attention back to the young woman, Ithramir then says,

"Come Renalis, meet Tempyst, a druid of these lands. We were just getting acquainted a minute ago, as her and her sword seems to have been the cause of such a ruckus."

Letting the two exchange pleasantries, he says,

"What else is it you wish to know, lady druid? Or, perhaps, you have something else in mind? I do not wish to seem completely rude, or rushed, however there seems to be an emergency to these lands and we are riding to meet it."

A serious look flashed across Ithramir's face as he waited for her to speak.

Written by Tempyst

"Greetings Renalis, tis good to meet you." Tempyst gave the man a nod, then turned back to Ithramir, all the while hearing the soft whispers from the sword scolding her. Softening her stance she continued to speak. "Sir, I apologize for my words, I am new, what I mean is, this is my first time away from the conclave and I am still adjusting. Never before had I been around so many men with so much steel." Tempyst then gave a slight bow of respect to the one before her. "I do not mean to make an excuse and I will do my best to be more open as I travel. When I said you were not Master of these lands, I did not mean to imply your kind, only that no one is master of the land, though one can be it's warden and protector. The land does not call anyone master."

Tempyst took a deep breath as the whispers from the sword subsided finally. "Indeed I would like to speak with this stranger and find out what he knows of the openings in the woods. As for anything else, yes, I do have something to ask. Do you perhaps know of a ranger named Corren? He is my uncle."

Tempyst then saw the serious look come across the elf's face, and her tone changed. "An emergency? Is there anything I may do to help this land?"

Written by Renalis

Finally catching up to Ithramir, Renalis can see him motion his guard out of the before speaking, "Renalis, yes, you are indeed welcome into our service. We need all that can to fight. If you desire to ride with us, by all means, prepare yourself and your horse. If there is anything you need, do not hesitate to ask a guard."

Bowing deeply Renalis says with great respect in his voice, "Thank you Sir, I will serve you well. As for supplies, there is little I require and am fit to travel when your forces are ready."

Turning his attention back to the young woman, Ithramir then says, "Come Renalis, meet Tempyst, a druid of these lands. We were just getting acquainted a minute ago, as her and her sword seems to have been the cause of such a ruckus."

"Greetings M'lady," Renalis bows, "A pleasure to meet you."

"Greetings Renalis, tis good to meet you." Tempyst says with a nod. Turning back toward Ithramir, "Sir, I apologize for my words, I am new, what I mean is, this is my first time away from the conclave and I am still adjusting. Never before had I been around so many men with so much steel."

Chuckling just a bit Renalis says, "Reminds me of my brother, Kel'Thalas when he first started interacting with people not of the land."

"I do not wish to seem completely rude, or rushed, however there seems to be an emergency to these lands and we are riding to meet it." Seeing Ithramir's look and posture change to serious and Tempyst's response, Renalis stands by, patiently waiting.

Written by Ardwen

His mood was dour, as black as the armor he wore. Ardwen felt a tug at his shoulder, he turned around, and saw an Elven women standing before him. She took his hands and cupped them and began to speak:

"You do not know me sir, but I know what lies in your heart. I know the hatred, the sorrow, the anger, the loss. I know the feeling that the whole world, nay, the whole universe has plotted against you to take everything. I have felt your loss, and I too became a hollow vessel for death and destruction. I became what you too are on the path to becoming. You cannot let the darkness consume you, you must find yourself again, for no amount of killing will bring back your lost. You cannot let the presence or lack thereof of this "All-Father" govern you," Sighing, and looking downward at the faintly glowing violet crystal within her chest Crystal continues, "I thought I lost Renalis a long time ago and I lost everything that made me me. I went on a rampage and killed every demon remaining on my world and all those corrupted by them and serving them. I entered the Nether Realm in hopes of finding the source of demons but what I found was much better. I found my husband there, in the realm between worlds and everything changed. I realized that all I really wanted was to die and be with him. I took every risk and went after the stongest of evils in hope that I could lose. Live lord Ardwen. Live. Keep on going and defending the friends you have here, pledge yourself to this place and go on, despite all you have lost. It's what they would have wanted."

Throughout it all Ardwen kept his face a steely calm, he did not betray a whit of what he was thinking of feeling. But he thought, he took in every word, measured and weighed it and commented mentally, “Does she think me a fool who does not know the path I am walking? I know what waits for me at the end of my life, I’ll have no friends to mourn my passing, my corpse will be but one of many bloated with death on some unremembered battlefield. The only ones who will note my passing will be the gods, and then just long enough to damn my soul to whatever torture they find pleasurable. But this one is blood, she deserves an answer more than just stomping off.”

Gently Ardwen removed his hands and spoke, his tone was one of patience and explication, “You are blood. By that right alone you could ask of me almost anything, but you cannot ask me to forsake my vows. There are things stronger than blood, stronger than love, and more ancient than time itself. But you insult me my lady, I know no amount of killing will bring my betrayed friends back to me. Even the All-Father refused to hear my prayers when I was faithful. No, I do not kill for their sake, I kill for mine. I kill because that is the way of Avari and the way of the sword.”

Ardwen titled his head to one side and fumbled for words a bit, “Would you have me forsake my vows? I pledged myself to the cause, if I were certain I still had a soul I would have pledged that as well. I am no lord, I gave up any claim of lineage. You confuse me, why do you care? Let me save you the ache and trouble, I am nothing more,” Ardwen took a step back and in a flash he had the longer of the two swords at his side unsheathed, “than this.” Just as quickly he sheathed the blade, spun around, and began to walk briskly away.

He followed the flow of servants and soldiers to the mustering outside the Citadel. By the time Ardwen had located Ithramir his mood had not improved. The lady Elf had confounded him, why did she care? He was startled to see Dwarves in the muster, but past caring – let Ithramir use the lessers if he wanted, it might mean fewer did Elves in the end. “Speaking of Ithramir.” Ardwen muttered as he noted the commander speaking to a strange woman with a blade at her side. Ardwen’s eyes slide into slits as he drew closer, his keen ears starting to pick up the word being spoken between the two.

He heard the women speak first:

“Your steed thinks highly of you. But you certainly are not master of the lands you speak of. No one holds that title but those chosen by Nyrondis. I am Whisperling, servant of Nyrondis, child of the Deepshadow Glen, but you will call me Tempyst. And yes, you will do for someone in charge. This thing,” The female glanced down at the blade Ardwen had noted earlier, “is A’lanthear and I am it’s guardian. I come here to seek the champion. No man may touch it without its permission, and your servant there, did not have permission.”

Ardwen froze, he clenched and relaxed his hands again and again, afraid that if he did not keep them bust he’d put a blade up to this woman’s throat. He muttered darkly speaking to himself, “How dare this girl speak so to a pureblood! Were this my kinsmen’s court her head would be on a pike!” Ardwen stood there, he did not trust her, even if Ithramir seemed as calm as the moon’s reflection on still water. He could not allow his time here to diminish his oath. If the woman made any threats, or if Ithramir ordered it, she would have to be removed. And in his present mood Ardwen would be more than willing to oblige.

Ithramir and the women, Tempyst she had called herself, continued to speak. Ardwen noticed Renalis pledging himself into service, but still he did not stir. He would have ears only for orders right now . . . this war could not begin soon enough.

Written by Renalis

Gently Ardwen removed his hands from Crystals and spoke, his tone was one of patience and explication, “You are blood. By that right alone you could ask of me almost anything, but you cannot ask me to forsake my vows. There are things stronger than blood, stronger than love, and more ancient than time itself. But you insult me my lady, I know no amount of killing will bring my betrayed friends back to me. Even the All-Father refused to hear my prayers when I was faithful. No, I do not kill for their sake, I kill for mine. I kill because that is the way of Avari and the way of the sword.”

Ardwen titled his head to one side and fumbled for words a bit, “Would you have me forsake my vows? I pledged myself to the cause, if I were certain I still had a soul I would have pledged that as well. I am no lord, I gave up any claim of lineage. You confuse me, why do you care? Let me save you the ache and trouble, I am nothing more,” Ardwen took a step back and in a flash he had the longer of the two swords at his side unsheathed, “than this.” Just as quickly he sheathed the blade, spun around, and began to walk briskly away.

"Ardwen!" Crystal called, stopping his quick exit, "I would never ask you to forsake your pledge. I would never ask you to forget a promiss made time immemorial..."

Crystal's thoughts are disrupted as she can feel a wavering in Renalis's energies, She senses the false energy placed on an object in his old room but can still feel his presence leaving the Citidal, "He is going with them... and he doesn't want me there..." Crystal thinks to herself but quickly regains her train of thought,

"You say as "blood" I can ask of you anything? Than I ask of you this; remember why you are fighting, not just as a construct with destruction as your sole purpose, but as the honourable 'Avari' that you are - fight to protect these people and these lands, uphold your oath but do it for something, for someone." Crystal sighed but continued, "You asked why I cared? I care because if you do not, than your passing could mean more pain and suffering for those you leave behind. You are something Ardwen, and you have friends here, whether you see it or not..."

With that Crystal too turned looking up, her hands together as if in prayer, "Be safe my husband, I know you do what is right." Crystal thinks to herself as she steps off down the corridor.

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