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Book Two - A Gathering Storm

Written by - Wilhelm Page 28 Book 2

Wilhelm was awakened at first light. The group of accomplished outdoorsmen quickly broke down the camp, packed up and saddled the horses, and rode south until Wilhelm's tracking sense again detected Mavigan's party still at their campsite. Wilhelm and the others dismounted and had breakfast whle they waited for Wilhelm to sense Mavigan's party break camp and move out.

Wilhelm took the occasion to instruct the group in the fine points of protecting a royal charge at public functions and other situations. They were an elite group chosen to become members of Mavigan's Honor Guard, as she would have need of such in the future. Wilhelm had not lied when he told Keeryn that this was a training excercise for these members of the Queen's Guard.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Before he knew what was going on, Leov was being dragged behind a pair of guards towards Lothiel-Gadith. A short while later, he was thrown in a cell and left to await questioning. As the door to the cell block creaked shut, Leov sat down on the wooden bench in his cell and looked out the window towards the sun. Again, he reached forward and vainly tried to grasp it.

Yawning, he said to himself as he leaned against the cold stone wall: "Well... this certainly isn't how I wanted to spend the rest of the day... but, things like this will happen. Now it's just a matter of who gets here first..." A strange feeling swept over him and his eyes again wandered to the barred window as he found himself looking towards the temple district. He sighed in boredom, then waited for someone to come.

Written by - Renalis

Renalis continued to fly towards the gate and stopped once he was over top of it and just floated there, suspended inches above the gate. The demons below began to ponder the question of the best way to eat the mage while he began to chant. A translucent white barrier surrounded Renalis as he began his chanting. The demons, now alarmed by this, began to hurl large bolts of demonic energy at him but the barrier absorbed all the energy in a forking bolt of perpetual lighting surrounding the sphere. Clouds began to form and swirl overhead, a mighty wind began to stir all around and the ground beneath began to shake. Then as if the entire area reached some kind of flash point, an enormous amount of energy was released. The sky opened up and a bolt of energy came flying down, the winds themselves turned into energy and rushed – from every direction – toward the sphere and the ground tore open and a final blast came up and hit the sphere. Then, as the waves of energy ceased, they compressed the sphere Renalis was within into the size of a tiny marble. A calm fell over the land and the demons stood there, staring at the tiny ball of energy. Finally, the tiny marble of energy twinkled then destabilized and exploded in a horrific amount of energy, instantly incinerating everything with a kilometer of it. Crystal felt the hold of Renalis's magic give way as the source was destroyed. She fell to here knees and began to weep looking down onto the valley and the now perfect hemisphere-crater within it.

Crystal jerked up suddenly from her sleep, the memory of Renalis's sacrifice resounding through her. She had lost her husband that day, or at least thought she had, and was powerless to prevent it. She would never let that happen again.

Knowing somehow that something was wrong she got up and put away her bedroll, taking out two pieces of paper, she waved her hand over them and felt the magics take effect. Crystal folded both of the papers and walked over to where Jasmine stood, standing guard over the silent camp. Crystal approached and handed one of the papers to her, "Here, please give this to Mavigan with my deepest regrets that I cannot stay here any longer" Seeing Jasmine study the paper Crystal adds, "the message will appear for Mavigan when she reads it tomorrow."Pausing for a second as Jasmine put the paper away, Crystal gets out the second paper and hands it forward, "This one is for you, as with the other, its message shall appear tomorrow, I am sorry I cannot stay longer..." Crystal's voice trails off as she turns and leaves the camp. Crystal walked her horse a sufficient distance to not rouse the sleeping group and then mounted, taking off swiftly towards Wilhelm's camp.

Upon arriving Crystal was first met with drawn swords, "Hold fast men, I mean no trouble, but I must speak with lord Wilhelm." Keeping two men there to guard her, another went off to rouse Wilhelm. Crystal dismounts and with a deep bow, "Lord Wilhelm, I do not mean to intrude, but I require a fresh horse, I need to get back to Citadel." assuming that he would not take this for a good enough answer she continued, "I don't have time to explain, and I don't know if I really could explain it..." Crystal looked down and touched her soulstone, its violet structure giving off a faint glow, holding the symbol of Elune within, "But I have to get back there." After pondering this a moment, he turns to one of the guards, "Take her horse and put it with the other spares, bring her a fresh one," Turning back to Crystal, "I wish you safe travels." With a bow Crystal deeply thanks Wilhelm then swiftly mounts the steed and takes off towards the Citadel.

Magically augmenting the horse to aid her in arriving faster Crystal takes off into the night. After a few hours ride, Crystal can see dawn on the horizon and knows she has to hurry. "I am coming my love..."

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya felt the cage she was in begin to move. She opened her eyes to see that she was being placed upon a wagon. She didn't even bother looking at the guards who were performing this duty; she knew she would get no sympathy from them. But she did look around and now saw that most of the wounded had been taken through the portal that had been made. It was also now obvious, that she was heading through the portal herself, on this wagon.

As she was hauled through the portal, she could see that they entered some sort of sacred space; the druids and priests there, just the overall feel of the place. Kaya closed her eyes and said a prayer to Avendor, asking his forgiveness. Then, the feeling of peace and serenity was gone and she was being pulled along roadway. It was not too long before her cage door was opened and she was yanked out and in through a doorway. Kaya took the steps downwards carefully, though she was pretty sure none of her four guards would care if she fell or not.

Finally, in the darkness, they stopped and she heard the all too famiar creak of a cell door being opened. Her shackles remained intact as she was shoved through the door and into the barred cell. One of the guards spit on her as he shut and locked the door. After the guards left, Kaya took a deep breath and looked around, seeing one small window in her cell. Well, at least that is an improvement. And the cell is clean. Then she took a deep breath and grimaced. Which is more than I can say for myself. I hope they let me bathe before they execute me.

Kaya sat down upon a straw mat, this time, she could see in the cell next to her, another weary soul. A seaman she chuckled. Drunken brawl I bet. Seems that once they hit shore, that is all they can do, drink and fight.

Kaya let out a weary chuckle, and spoke out loud to the man. "So, when will you sailors ever learn, there is more to life than drinking and fighting? Must be something in the salt air that rusts your brains."

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Leov heard the gate across the hall open and shut, but didn't think anything of it. That is, of course, until he heard a suductive voice dance across the darkness to his ears: "So, when will you sailors ever learn, there is more to life than drinking and fighting? Must be something in the salt air that rusts your brains." He turned his head slowly in the direction of the voice then opened one eye. He saw a girl across the way, sitting on a straw mat. "Well look at you..." Leov said as he stood up from the bench and allowed himself to fall on the bars of the door. His arms hung out into the hallway, resting on the crossbar. Intrigued by the girl's bright violet eyes, he said with a smile. "Well, my little elven beauty... you seem to have seen more than your fair share of fighting, perhaps you can tell me. Talk slow, though. My rusty little human brain can only take so much at a time."

Written by - Renalis

Renalis opened his eyes, but could see nothing. He was surrounded in darkness, and suspended. Looking around he could find no solace in any direction - nothing but darkness. Renalis mused to himself, "So I guess this was to be my fate afterall... oh well, I could have asked for no better way to go, this land will be safe soon, and the darkness will be pushed back once more into the void from which is came..."

*Flash*

Renalis looked around and found himself in a very different place. Looking about him, it was if he was standing upon clear and blue stones. A building before him enveloped in a mist, almost fog-like in it's appearance. Looking to the doors he was standing before, they were huge and wrought of pure copper. The building itself was contructed of golden bricks, a magnificent piece of workmanship. "Yup... Finally here... I did expect somehow that it would end this way..."

Renalis heard the voice of a deity in his head, "You must wait here, there is another coming first that I need to speak with and then you will have your moment with me." Renalis thought back in question, "Another?" "Yes," answered the deity, "my Avatar, Ithramir shall be ariving shortly." The Deity returned. "No!" Renalis called back, "then it was all for naught... I did fail..." The deity returned, "You did not fail, his time here will be short, but I must speak with him," Renalis stared up at the huge doors as they opened to permit him entrance while he waited, "Then I am truely dead..."

As the doors opened Ithramir entered. He took a turn looking at all the proud warriors who defended these halls and made his way slowly down the hall. As he approached the large doorway where Renalis stood he adjusted his armor. "M'lord" Renalis said with a deep bow, "I believe he is waiting for you on the other side." Ithramir looked somewhat puzzled, "Renalis? What are you doing here?" Renalis rose from the bow, "It's not your time yet Ithramir, and there are many who have made that possible, I just helped how I could" Renalis chuckled a bit as he pointed to the door, "Come now, don't keep your God waiting." The doors closed behind Ithramir and Renalis once again waited.

The doors opened again Renalis watched Ithramir leave the deity's chamber, Renalis stops him one more time, "Lord Ithramir," he stops, for a second, collecting his thoughts as the Elf turns to face him, "It was an honour to serve you." Ithramir looks at Renalis, "You fought well, Renalis. I am honored to have fought with you, though I am saddened to see you here as well. We will talk more soon, friend, but I am being led somewhere else for now." With a deep bow, Renalis then turns and heads into the chamber, knowing Avandor awaited him.

The light was blinding, his eyes finding it hard to make out anything in the room. A voice rings out, "Renalis Dalamar, you know why you are here" Renalis says in return as he bows, "because I have died M'lord, but I am confused as to why here and not Arvandor on Olympus, while I was not Elven, Corellon has always been and will always be my God, for it was he who saved me from the monster that slew my family." Avandor's voice once more boomed through the halls, "You are here because your soul has indeed passed from your body, that much you know. What you do not know however, is that this will not be your resting place, indeed your soul cannot pass beyond because of that" Renalis knew what Avandor pointed at, despite the bright light. "The damage to your so called "soulstone" has drawn in the last of your essence, and it will remain trapped there. Renalis was confused now, "then why am I here m'lord?" Avandor replies, "Because Corellon indeed does watch over you, as does Elune and they have asked that I speak to you as you are a guest in my realm. Your soul may be freed but it will require the assistance of another, and your love for her must be unconquerable." Renalis thought to himself, "Crystal..." Avandor continued, "Yes, Crystal. Her love for you may be able to free you with my help." Renalis once again bowed deeply, "I thank you for your efforts M'lord, I would like to know that I can rest without being damned to that prison." Avandor chuckled, "It is a prison of your own construct!" Renalis was silent for a second, "touché, Avandor, touché..." Renalis's voice trailed off and Avandor continued, "You must wait there however, when the time comes you will know what to do..." The doors behind Renalis opened once more and he bowed deeply before taking his leave of the Deity. Leaving the hall, and reentering the darkness, Renalis could only lay there and wait, suspended and helpless.

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya stood and moved over to the small window in her cell and looked up into the daylight. She reached up, her hands still shackled, and touched one of the sun warmed bars. Then she turned to the sailor and smiled saddly. "Don't get me wrong, fighting is indeed a fine pasttime, but it is what you fight for that makes the difference. Fighting just to fight, makes no sense. But fighting for a cause, that is the difference. Fight for love, for honor, for the smile of a child..." Kaya's voice choked some, and she paused. "But it makes no difference I suppose now does it? If I am not executed, then I will surely be shut away for eternity, with nothing left to fight for." Kaya sat back down and watched the man in the cell across from her.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

"Love and honor!? The smile of a child!?" His laughter echoed down the hallway. "You're just as bad as that last guy! There's only one reason why any of us fight, lady, and that's failure. The gods failed our forefathers with their pride, their lust, and their weakness; and our forefathers failed us by continuing the gods' petty squabbles!" Leov paused for a moment to calm himself down.

With an angry sigh, he continued: "If you wanna give up so easily and accept death, be my guest. I've got other things to do, though."

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya heard the man's scoffing. She just chuckled. "What better things do you have to do? You are stuck here in a cell, just like I am. As for giving up, There is a difference between giving up and accepting fate." Kaya stood and moved to the side of the cell so she was closer to the man opposite her. "It seems you speak of experience of failure my friend. Yes, we all fail, but to blame our failure on others, The Gods, our forefathers, that is arrogance. The only one that fails, is one's self. And yes, I failed this day and because I failed, I accept my fate, whatever it may be. Should I be given the chance to fight again, I will. If not, I did my best." Kaya sat down on the bench she stood by. "Seems like you are feeling sorry for yourself. So tell me, what has the world done to you? What does the world owe you my friend?"

Written by - Wilhelm

The last of the badly wounded had been carried through the Gate, stabilized and laid gently on the soft ground within the Great Circle. Those initated folllowers among the army whose duties allowed it also passed through and joined their fellows in each group, with a senior member of each deity's clergy in front facing the Elder Druid assigned to that group. Ceredan gazed at each group and then walked over to the one for whom he most feared, lying in front of the followers of Avandar. Ithramir lay upon a cloak looking near to death, the bleeding stopped but the terrible wound still present. Looking deep within, Ceredan could see that the demonic taint was slowly winning, slowly devouring Ithramir's life force. Ceredan knew that this was beyond his power or ay mortal's power to cure. He sought within for guidance and was answered by Nyrandis.

My Demonhunter Team has one more task before them before their well deserved rest. I shall need to work through them and with my Mother to restore my Father's access to His Avatar. Only together can the three of Us save Ithramir. Have Tempyst and Lucant take their place in front of Ithramir, and ask Lithwyn to come stand by them. The time has come for her to accept her destiny and bring my Mother to Ithramir's aid.

Ceredan nodded and called out to Lucant, Tempyst and Lithwyn for them to approach and kneel by Ithramir to provide their aide. Lucant took his place readily, while Tempyst and Lithwyn look shaken by the extent of the damage they could both perceive within Ithramir. Lithwyn wept softly as she joined the others in layng hands upon Ithramir. Ceredan spoke once more.

"Through Lucant, my lord Nyrandis will guide you in this ritual. For the life and soul of Ithramir, pay heed to His will and do all that you can. My blessing upon you all."

Ceredan stood back and watched Lucant, waiting for the Exorcism Ritual to begin, one he had heard of but never seen. A hush fell over the assembled multitude as all watched and waited.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Lucant stood before the wounded body of Ithramir unsure of what to do. He knew that the elf's life was litterally in his hands and he felt the full weight of the importance of what he had to do. Again, he sought for strengh and his seeking was answered by Nyrondis. Once more, the strength of the world flowed freely through him and he knelt down next to Ithramir, unafraid. Placing his hand on Ithramir's brow, Lucant spoke: "Ithramir, Chosen Son of Avandor, this is not your time. Let the strength of your soul shine through beyond all shadow of evil." To all present both Ithramir's and Lucant's divine aura seemed to surge with power as the taint began to lose its hold.

****

The girl's words infuriated Leov, but the also held the sting of truth. "Fate!? Fate is an exuse the weak use for the weakness. In the end, the only one responsible for what happens is you and you alone." He took a few deep breaths and finally calmed down after an uneasy silence. "I know... I am weak. I have failed those who depended on me. I alone have to bear the responsibility for my failures, no matter how far I try to run..." His voice trailed off. "Because of me... an entire city and its people were damned to the flames of wrath. I owe them everything for my failure to protect them. I can't... I won't die until I atone for my sins against my people." Shifting his weight he said quietly, "So... now you know my failures... what about you?"

Written by - Tempyst

Tempyst knelt beside Ithramir, just as she had done not long before. She could see his wound taht she had repaired, beginning to open up again. She felt the power of Nyrondis fill her husband once again; this time, she was able to bask some in his presence. She whispered under her breath as she put her hands upon Ithramir once again. "Please my god, please, give me the strength to heal his body. Let not my our child's life have been in vain." I know you are weary child. My strength is pouring through my avatar to help contain the taint within him. Do what you must to heal his body. And remember, you are not alone.

As Tempyst's skin touched Ithramir's, she could feel the pain his body was going through. She choked back a sob, knowing it was her child's life that was also in pain. Tempyst then took a deep breath reaching once more into the earth feeling the life there within the sacred grove. Then she felt her connection to Ithramir solidify and began to draw forth his pain, his wounds into herself. Then, without thinking, or even without realizing it, Tempyst began to give her own life energies to Ithramir, exchanging life for pain. She felt his wound begin to close, while one on her own chest began to open up.

Again she whispered softly, "No more pain little one, no more pain. Let me help you, please, let me help you."

Written by - Tempyst

"So... now you know my failures... what about you?"

Kaya listened to the man's words. It was apparent that he did have a lot troubling him. She could feel his pain, in fact, she shared it. "You are not the only one who has failed many who have depended upon you. You are not the only one to feel weak and helpless. Have you ever been trapped in your own body, being made to do such horrors you know you will never be able to wash the blood from your hands?" Kaya felt her throat tighten. Oh no, don't tell me, I am still... Kaya took a deep breath then spoke, with the intent of telling this stranger about Beridane and what he had done. But as soon as she started to speak, that horrible, horrible choking cough came upon her again and she was unable to get the words she wanted to say out. A look of anger came over her face and after a few moments, the coughing ceased. "DAMN YOU!" She screamed at the ceiling. "DAMN YOU TO HELL FOR DOING THIS TO ME!"

Kaye then looked over the man with a resigned sigh. "My name is Kaya'Talas. What is yours sailor?"

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Leov looked at the girl with concern as she entered a violent coughing fit. His His concern turn to confusion as she screamed at the ceiling. "Yeah, I know how how you feel. That ceiling's been givin' me all kinds of crap, too," he said, trying to lighten the mood. There was an awkward silence as she looked him over before saying: "My name is Kaya'Talas. What is yours sailor?" Stretching his hand forth from the bars, he said, grinning: "Leov. Leov Klein."

Written by - Tempyst

As Leov reached to shake her hand, Kaya held up her bound hands to show him such greetings would have to wait. "Well Leov Klein, at least tell me that your drinking had to do with good luck and not bad. I am in sore need of good humor." She looked him over carefully, then sat down. "By the way, I don't suppose you can tell me what month this is could you? I've been..." She felt her throat tighten again as she thought carefully about her words. "I've been in the dark for awhile." She tossed a smug look to the air, then leaned back against the bars. She suddenly realized that she was waiting for the demon to say something, anything. I will never be free will I? She thought to herself, her smug look suddenly gone. I am far to tired to fight this now, please Avandor, let me out of this prison. One way or the other.

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