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Book Two - A Gathering Storm

Written by - Lucant Dolvan Page 29 Book 2

Leov watched as Kaya wallowed in her self-pity. "Look lady, my drinking is none of your..." Before he could finish, a sharp pain shot through his back. Leov turned quickly to see a tall , raven haired girl leaning down towards the window, preparing to throw another rock. "Your drinking is every bit of my business, Leov," she said in a sing-song voice, smiling from ear to ear. "Mir... I should've known... Well, what took you idiots so long to get here?" He said, dodging the rocks that Miranda was still throwing at him. "We've had problems of our own. The way it looks, we're not going to be able to get you out of here until tomorrow at the earliest," she said happily, clearly delighted with the chance to torture her friend, "Oh yeah, I hear that it gets pretty cold down here at night, too. Just think of me, I'm sure that'll keep you warm." Stepping towards the window, Leov looked up at her, "Still as loose as my morals, I see." Leaning in closer, she returned his insult "Oh come on now, since when did you have any morals? Besides, what would my brother say if he had heard you say that?" "Aloray? He'd just ask what a moral was and if he could eat it." The both laughed at Aloray's expense. "Alright, just sit tight for a bit, and we'll have you out soon." She started to walk away before Leov called her back: "Hey, hey, hey! No stupid stuff! Just give the guard this," he handed her the token that Lithwyn had given him, "and tell 'em that you're here to get me for questioning." Miranda looked disappointed as she took the token: "Alright, if you want to do it the boring way, then we'll do it the boring way." She bounced one last rock off of Leov's forehead before walking away. As she walked off, Leov turned back to Kaya. "Oh well, things like this will happen. Just chalk it up to 'fate', eh?" Smiling to himself, he waited patiently until Gilbert came down the hallway, flanked on either side by the guards.

Once the trio was a good distance away from the prison, Leov spoke up. "You two... I want you to go round up everyone that went into town. Get 'em back to the ship... we've got some big decisions to make." Gilbert picked up the unusual seriousness in Leov's tone and responded with a punch to his shoulder: "You got it, kid. I'll see ya soon." Miranda pounced on him with a surprise hug: "Alright, you drunken bastard. We'll be back soon." After they parted ways, Leov headed back down towards the port. A warm breeze wrapped itself around him again, and he did nothing to resist it.

Written by - Tempyst

"Oh well, things like this will happen. Just chalk it up to 'fate', eh?" Kaya watched as the sailor was let loose. She stayed silent, not wanting to spoil his *good luck*. Well, well my friend, I would bet you will see the inside of a cell again. Kaya sighed, listening to their footsteps echo off into silence. Ahe moved over to the straw mat and laid down, grateful at least, to be able to stretch out for once.

"Fate." She said matter of factly, not caring that there was no one around to listen to her. "Fate is what you make of it Leov Klein. I am sure you are trying to avoid yours." Kaya closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but all she could see in her mind was Ithramir looking at her with disbelief and betrayal.

"Fate is what you make of it." She opened her eyes and looked up through the small cell window into the bright blue sky. "I have never been one to pray much Avandor, but you have always been in the back of my mind. It was you we called for when we rode against the Lith'raug. It was you my men prayed to to help them find vengeance for their friends and family. It was in your name that I rallied many elves to go forth to the human lands and help Ithramir Sil-Galdur find new hope for our people." Kaya sighed, then sat up, back to the bars, still looking up into the little patch of sky she could see.

"You owe me no forgiveness; through me, your avatar lies dying or dead. An Elf I admired and looked up to all my life, downed by my hand." Kaya brought her hands up to her face and sat there quietly for awhile. Then, she looked back up into the sky again. "Avandor, you are the god of war and vengeance, of light and living. I call to you though you have no reason to answer me. I call to you to help me seek vengeance on those that have used me, on those that have harmed your avatar. I ask you to use me to see that they are punished, to see that justice is served. I ask, no, I beg you, please, give me a chance for vengeance. Please."

Kaya layed back down on the mat and this time, fell into a restless sleep.

Written by - Teran

Teran slept for a couple hours to pass the time. He woke up four hours before dawn. Sabbatine was staring at him with a look of annoyance on her face. Teran smiled at her and her whole demeanor changed, a huge smile spreading across her pale face.

Teran went about his work silently, producing a pair of stones that would mimic the auras of himself and Mavigan. He approaches sabbatine after a few moments and he kneels down next to her.

"I need you to take care of these for me." he whispers, doing his best not to disturb the sleeping Mavigan "Do not lose these. I'm counting on you to lead the rest for the next three days."

Teran sounds very fatherly... Sabbatine's mouth hangs open in shock as he speaks, if her heart still beat it would be pounding out of her chest. She blinks, and looks like she would be blushing if she could.

"I promise I'll take good care of these.... stones." she says failing to keep the excitement out of her voice.

Teran smiles and kisses her forehead before returning to Mavigan's side, winking at Jasmine as he passes. Sabbatine appears to be frozen in shock by Teran's brief kiss. He seems to know just what to do to keep her a devoted follower of his cause.

He kneels over Mavigan and begins an incantation, once he has spoken the last word he places his hand on her chest over her heart. The two of them are gone in the blink of an eye.

Mavigan will feel cold to her very core... she is very much alone in a strange world. Darkness and shadows are all around her, some of them look like trees, but most look like horrible monster. Tree or monster, all the shadows shift and move.

Written by - Rikshanthas

Vhar walked down the street in silence, head lowered, hands linked together in the sleeves of his robe. Though his face was a mask of composure, his mind was in turmoil.

For the last day and a half, his self-control had been steadily eroding, washing away in a sea of wild emotion. Is this what humans must deal with every day of their brief lives? he asked himself, thinking with regret on the tavern debacle; he had barely avoided being shackled himself, though he'd been unable to do anything for the sailor who was carted off to a cell ("let him sober up before the commander rips 'im a new one", one of the guards had said sourly). Small wonder they are so volatile, Vhar thought, frowning slightly, still appalled at his own actions though he was beginning to understand them. Perhaps it explains the sailor's behavior, though he seemed one given completely to his passions, lacking any sense of control whatsoever. Or perhaps that was the alcohol ... No matter. I will have to speak to him however, if only to apologize for any damage I may have caused his jaw. He changed direction, headed towards the Citadel itself, and passed by the Grove, noting Lithwyn among the gathering there. She will no doubt wish to question the man later, if that token he waved at me has any merit, but this Ritual I've been hearing of will likely take some time. Noticing the distance he would have to walk to see the sailor, and wishing not to miss the Ritual, Vhar then made a costly but educational decision.

Having examined maps of the Citadel during his stay in the library, it was simple enough to visualize the prison block clearly in his mind; in the next breath, he was there, startling the guards who saw him materialize out of the air itself. Vhar sagged against the wall, his legs suddenly unwilling to hold him up; that one short trip through the aethers had drained him more than a hundred cross-continent journeys in his homeland, he thought with chagrin. I suppose I'll have to prevail on Lithwyn for the use of a horse, he thought, as he managed to explain to the gaoler who he was and that he wished to see the sailor who'd been recently brought in.

"Just missed him," the gaoler replied, "fellow came and got him for questioning a few minutes ago, showed Lithwyn's seal and -- what?" This in response to Vhar's look of sheer dread.

"This man, what did he look like?" Vhar asked in a tight voice, as if praying for one answer but expecting another. The gaoler's description didn't fit with either of the two men Vhar had seen at the tavern, but still, it was too convenient ... Lithwyn would have been too preoccupied ... "Did you get the sailor's name and vessel?" he said suddenly. "Aye, he wasn't terribly cooperative, but we got that much from 'im. Why?" the gaoler asked suspiciously.

"Send a detachment of troops to the port. See that that ship doesn't leave until the Commander personally clears it." And with a rustle of violet robes, he was gone.

****

Shara felt a hand on her shoulder, shaking her almost imperceptibly but enough to wake her from her sleep. She started, momentarily disoriented, before full consciousness returned and she remembered what had happened. She looked up to see Sir Mathell leaning over her, and she smiled weakly at the old knight.

"The Gate is open," he said gravely. "We are now at Lothiel-Gadith. You were both brought through, none the wiser it seems," he added in a lighter tone, smiling when she looked around in confusion. "Though at what cost ..." his gaze fell on the unconscious forms of those who had given so much to the Gate, to the mage who had seemingly given his very life to open the door to the Citadel. "Lienad?" The concern in her voice was plain. "The lad lives, and with the gods' blessing he will continue to do so," Mathell replied, adding privately, and may they get off their holy behinds and provide it.

Written by - Ariana

Mavigan could be accused of many things, and if Mavigan were honest, she would admit that 8 times out of 10, the accusation would be just. However, there was one thing in this world that Mavigan could never be rightly accused of, and that was of being a morning person.

Thus, it was with great confusion and more than a little ire that she discovered Keeryn looming over her speaking in low tones. As Mavigan’s ears were not yet communicating with her brain, she could make little sense of the distraught female’s words. Sounds that should have been loud and clear came to her as breathy whispers, and Mavigan’s confusion merely mounted when Teran came into view, reached out his hand and put it on her...

Mavigan quickly decided that something wasn’t right. Sure he was handsome and all, but that certainly didn’t give him the right to cop a feel in plain sight and without previous permission! She would have to set him straight about the proper protocol for such things.

About this time, Mavigan’s brain caught up to the rest of her and she sat bolt upright trying hard to stifle her shivers. Whereas one moment before she had been surrounded by people, now she was completely alone.

A movement to her right caused her to quickly roll to her feet, blades in hand. Mavigan attempted to swallow the ball of panic that was lodging in her throat as she saw the… thing… move towards her, and then past her as if she was not even there. It had a monstrous shape, yet made no move attack her. As Mavigan turned a full circle to take in her surroundings, she could see many such shapes, wavering and moving and shivering as if alive, yet none made a move towards her.

Mavigan resheathed her blades, but remained cautious as she attempted to gain her bearings. It was apparent as she took in her surroundings that the campsite was gone, the clearing in which she had slept was gone, all of her companions were gone, and so was her horse, her sword, her bow, and most of her supplies! All she had left were her clothes, her shoes, her cloak, her daggers, and her wristguards. She had not slept in her armor because it had proven to be too uncomfortable.

The terrain was flat and nearly colorless, everything appearing as differing shades of grey. The grass, if the ground upon which she stood could be called grass, was blurry and looking at it too long made her slightly dizzy. Mavigan shivered as she gazed at the trees, or rather what she thought were trees, appearing as no more than shapes looming over her, vague and indistinct, dark shades of grey upon a grey canvas.

Above all else, it was cold, and Mavigan shivered again, wrapping her arms around her middle pulling her cloak closer for warmth. This was not the cold of a Port Westgale winter, she decided. This cold seemed to radiate from within her just as much as without, and she half wondered if Teran had killed her and she was now in the realm of the dead.

“No,” she said firmly to herself. “I’m not dead yet.” The sound of her voice reassured her, even if the tone seemed muted and less vibrant than she knew herself to sound. “Think, Mavigan. You have to keep your wits about you.”

Convinced of her words, she quickly ran through recent events in her mind, trying to figure out where she might be and what might be happening. She didn’t have to reach very far into the past to reach a conclusion. “Training,” she breathed, her voice causing wisps of whitish-grey smoke directly before her, “gods damn it!”.

What an idiot she was. She had asked for training, stupidly believing he would give her some notice first. And how rude was he? Not even waiting for her to be fully conscious before zapping her into some no-man’s land? “Jackass,” she said with venom.

Unfortunately, maligning his character, though fun, did not tell her what kind of training this was to be. Her “instructor” had left her with no directions. So Mavigan reviewed what she knew. First, she was in some kind of shadowy, spooky, not-quite-right realm. Second, Teran was nowhere in sight.

Mavigan looked around her once again. She could see no means of exit, no doors clearly labeled “This is the Way Out”, and she could not see any clear shifts in the landscape that might indicate something of interest. She had no idea how to navigate in this realm, nor any idea how to get out of it.

A smirk came to Mavigan’s bluing lips as she contemplated the facts and reached a conclusion. “OK, you b-b-bastard,” she said through chattering teeth, “hide-and-seek it is.”

When it came to tracking, Mavigan’s skill was rather mediocre. Mavigan knew that some people were trained to track people by sensing their heartfires, but in spite of her many attempts, she could not find a way to access the power that would allow her that ability. In truth, Mavigan was barely able to sense her own heartfire and hide it, though she had to admit that ability did seem to come a wee bit easier now than before.

Mavigan did not doubt, however, that Teran would be impossible to find via that means. He had hidden his heartfire to confuse Wilhelm, and she doubted he would suddenly allow it to blaze now, especially since this was supposed to be some sort of test. With most direct magical means of tracking closed to her, Mavigan decided that the basic method would best.

She began a very detailed and exacting search of her immediate area, creating larger and larger concentric circles as her eyes observed every detail. “Which o-o-one thing is not l-l-like the others?” she hummed quietly to herself, absorbed in her task. The task was by no means easy – the terrain was unfamiliar and seemed to shift without reason. Staring too long at one particular area would cause dizziness, and Mavigan found herself having to stop every so often to regain her bearings and wait for the dizziness to pass.

As time seemed to drag with no visible results, Mavigan’s song changed to a series of irritated grumbles as she alternately cursed Beridane, the cold, Teran and his heritage, and then randomly switched to what seemed almost like a prayer as she fervently hoped that Teran had left some physical evidence for her to find. If he hadn’t, she was stuck.

Eventually, however, her efforts paid off. There, before her in the not-quite-dirt, was a smudge that did not seem to fit with anything else. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. “Take t-t-that!” she yelled, more to give herself the comfort of noise than to declare her victory.

Mavigan plopped down on the ground next to her find and began to frantically shove trembling fingers into each of her pockets searching for an object. If the length of time it had taken for her to find this small sign was any indication, she was in for a very long journey. Mavigan didn’t want this to take forever. She was cold, she was pissed, and she had no idea where exactly she was. No, Mavigan was ready for this to be over, so she was going to do what came natural.

She was going to cheat.

Her fingers finally closed over the object she sought, and Mavigan gave a happy smile. She slowly drew the object from her pocket and held it in the palm of her hand. It was a rock. Smooth like a river stone, its colors were drab and ugly in the dim light, but to Mavigan, it was the most beautiful rock in the world.

She remembered how she had acquired this particular item and smiled again at the memory. Jonan had lifted it off some mage one day while they were in the market. He had been caught and tossed in jail, of course, but not before he had passed the prize to Mavigan and she had disappeared undetected into the crowd. Mavigan didn’t know what the item was, nor did she care. She treasured it as a reminder of her first true escapade with her partner-in-crime, Jonan.

Jonan eventually got out of jail, as he always did, and they were soon off to find more mischief. The rock was forgotten, though Mavigan carried it with her always, until the day one less than intelligent sailor went into hiding instead of paying Brell the money he owed. It was then that Jonan asked her about the stone and revealed its true purpose. Needless to say, Brell got her money.

“Thanks J-J-Jonan,” Mavigan said lightly. “If I ever g-g-get back home, I will c-c-come see you.” Mavigan gave a little laugh. She knew how she would find him when she made it back to Port Westgale. She’d go visit the jail.

Mavigan secured the stone in her palm, closing her fingers tightly around it, and stood up. Reaching down with her other hand, she scooped up a handful of dirt from the same area as the track. Closing her eyes, she concentrated, visualizing what she wanted. When she felt the stone warm in her hand, she knew her spell was cast. Opening her eyes, she tossed the handful of dirt into the air and said, “Reveal!”

Mavigan held her breath for a moment as she watched the dust hover in the air. If this failed, she was back to tracking him via physical means, and that would just be unpleasant. As the dust coalesced and slowly began to glow pink, Mavigan began to breathe again. The dust then exploded outward and settled on the ground, the track she had found glowing an iridescent pink.

Giving a happy yelp, Mavigan shoved the stone back into her pocket and began searching for the other smudges of pink. She soon had a trail, each trace being clearly illuminated, and she broke out into a run. She did not know how long the path would remain visible or how many charges her little stone had left.

She stumbled often, the frequent dizziness causing her to lose her balance and sometimes even her feet, but it seemed that this time fate was going to be kind to her. The trail stayed illuminated, and eventually she found her prize. She did not know how long she had been running or how much distance she had crossed, but there before her sat Teran, looking serene as if he hadn’t a care in the world and did not feel the cold.

She stomped over to him, ensuring he heard every angry step. Her first instinct was to throttle him, but self-preservation held her back. She needed him to get out of this hellhole, and she didn’t want to give him a reason to leave her here.

“How the f-f-f…” she started, her chattering teeth keeping her from completing the sentence. Frustrated, she tried again, “You b-b-b…”. It appeared that wouldn’t work either.

In the end, Mavigan settled for a one word response that she could squeeze from her vocal cords that would communicate her wishes succinctly.

“Out,” she said, her voice coming out in a shivering wail of frustration.

Written by - Ardwen

The portal was open. The gateway stood like a tear in a wall of solid air, a disembodied rip in reality itself. And through the gateway, Ardwen could make out the Sacred Grove of the Citadel – or so he assumed it was. Already the wounded were being ushered through the gate; those too injured were being carried through. Ardwen kept tossing glanced from Sycon to Renalis, but neither of the mages moved though at least Sycon was breathing.

Ardwen knelt down and looped one of Sycon’s arms around his shoulder, he stood, taking care to balance the warlock’s weight against his body and bolstering him with his arms. Unfortunately, Sycon was no help, as he did not appear to even have the strength of will to stand. Ardwen grunted in frustration and began a hobbling walk toward the gate. He did not want to lose Sycon; he was far too valuable to what he had in mind. Furthermore, the sooner Sycon was back on his feet, both literally and figuratively, the sooner Ardwen could enact a plan that was even now brewing in his mind.

As he passed through the portal with his burden, he was surprised at the lack of sensation. There was no tingling feeling, it was as simple as walking from outside a room to the inside. He looked at the so-called “Sacred grove” and couldn’t help but letting a smug smirk cross his face. So many dependants on the gods, what fools. Couldn’t they see that if it weren’t for the gods they wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place? But no, the “mere mortals” got the shaft while the gods got to sit up on cushioned thrones of gold dicing and sipping ambrosia and wine. And this “sacred” grove was supposed to be payment for countless lives lost in their service? “So they come down for a minute, heal people who were hurt because of them, then run off? Oh yeah, remind me to thank them . . . asses.” Ardwen intoned sardonically.

Still, if Sycon could somehow benefit from this little ritual, he’d play along. He began to lay the warlock somewhere in the circle that (he thought) matched the other wounded when a human stepped in to help. “The Commander of the Citadel will be first ye see sir. Being as he’s the most wounded an’ all. You don’t look so good yourself, if you’ll pardon sir. If I understand all these priests they’ll be plenty of healing and such for everyone – perhaps you’d like to get your wounds tended? A small wound can bring a great man down, that’s a saying to head.”

Ardwen snorted and merely replied, “Make sure this man receives the benefits of the healing. I am not made out of glass, I’ll be fine. I’ll bear my wounds and scars as honor rather than bury them in the filth the gods offer.”

The humans eyebrows rose with every word, he knuckled his forehead in sort of a half bow before muttering, “As you will sir, as you will. But I wouldn’t speak ill of the gods. Like ‘em or no a man wouldn’t want to attract their anger.”

Ardwen rolled his eyes in response and took one last look at Sycon, still seemingly completely comatose. Ardwen stood and sighed before speaking to the unconscious mage, “Hurry back Sycon, I need you friend. For old time’s sack, for what we once both believed in. I hate the gods now, though I was once their servant, but if they can heal you then I’ll don a mask of concession.”

Ardwen began to walk away, without realizing he was trying to massage his right arm through his armor. Carrying Sycon had cost him more than he had first imagined, his wounds did not seem to be completely mended. The warrior sucked in a breath of air through clenched teeth as the muscles in the arm began twitching, each small shock sending a wave of pain through him. He shook the ache away as he continued to walk away from the ritual area. Every step was like a wearying mile, and he was still worried over Sycon, but then a solution presented itself. A servant in the Citadel, a human man with a bald head and a rotund belly, walked out of a nearby hallway.

The man did not seem intent on Ardwen, did not even seem to notice him until the Elf called out, “You! Man! Bring me a map, if you would be so . . . kind. I want a map of this area that extends to the Westgale region, and include as detailed a map of the city and its environs as possible as well.”

The man finally seemed to catch note of him, and as he looked upon the Elf warrior his face paled and he began washing his hands in a nervous tic. “Y-y-yes, as your lordship wishes.” He stammered before dropping a hasty bow and dashing down a nearby corridor.

Ardwen let a puzzled look creep into his face, “Now what in the hell was his problem?” Ardwen had already forgotten he was still caked in blood and dirt, and his right hand had contracted into a closed fist of black plate.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Before heading towards the harbor, Leov headed back towards the citadel to retrieve his commissions from the blacksmith. He was, after all a day late, and the blacksmith didn't seem like one to hold an order. "Well, Young Master, I was beginning to think you weren't coming," the blacksmith said with a weasely grin. "Yeah, I've been a bit tied up lately. Now where's my stuff at," he said said dryly. "Here you are Young Master - the finest wares I have to offer. This blade, in particular, is quite a piece a work. It was a pleasure to work on it," the blacksmith said as he laid the commissions on the counter. Leov picked up Sulrista: "Is that so? I suppose I should take better care of it then." Collecting his purchases, Leov set out into the street, only to see Miranda sprinting towards him with Gilbert walking leisurely behind her. "Leov! Leov! We heard some... some soldiers talking... and appearantly there's an order out to lock us down... they're trying to confirm it right now," Miranda said between breaths. Incensed, Leov yelled out "Damn that woman! I knew she was up to something... we should never have come to this place... get back to the ship as fast you can, we're getting out of here while we still can."

Running as fast as they could, the wind at their backs the entire way, the trio arrived the docks ahead of the troops. "Dom, Al! Cut the mooring, unfurl the sails and kick the gangplank! We're gettin' the hell outta here," Leov yelled as he came aboard behind Miranda and Gilbert. "And you yell at us about gettin' in trouble," he let out another deep belly-laugh and then turned to the crew and yelled: "You morons heard the Captain! Get ready to set sail!" A few short minutes later, sails were unfurled and the ship was underway just in time for the approaching soldiers to see them set out. Despite all his cursing of Tiertiala, She graced her beloved son with a full gale that carried him quickly towards his fate upon the sea. As the wind swept over him, Leov again looked skyward and reached for the sun.

Written by - Teran

Teran smiled at Mavigan as she approached, genuinely happy that she had made it, though he knew she had cheated.

"If you cheat on your next test I'll strip you of all your toys." he threatens as he pulls her in close under his cloak.

It is suddenly warmer being so near to each other, the cold seems to pierce them a little less. Teran's embrace is firm but not overpowering. She can hear him whispering words and suddenly the world seems to turn upside down... Teran is still embracing the disoriented Princess on the other side, gently sitting her down and then sitting down next to her.

Trickling water can be heard nearby and the faint smell of wild flowers lingers in the air.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

Leov thought he and his people were safe, that they could finally live in peace in Shrikefield. His dreams were shattered after only two hours when the cry came down from the lookout: "Captain! Ship comin' up on the starboard! Elven! Looks to be pirate hunters!" Leov gritted his teath and again cursed Tiertiala, who seemed to be helping these hunters more than him at the moment. As the the elven ship pulled up quickly along side, its captain - a stunningly beautiful elven girl whose platinum blonde hair danced in Tiertiala's gale - stepped forward and offered terms: "Pirates! In the name of Lady Lithwyn Deltheron, I offer you a chance to make amends for your actions. Surrender and return to Lothiel-Gadith with me and you shall not be harmed." Leov then stepped forward and gave his short reply: "Piss off lady!" She smiled, then cheerfully said "You must be Leov. Well... I suppose I should introduce myself before offering you terms... so...I am Lafiel Valthanor. You can call me Lafiel!" Leov's stomach turned at how upbeat this woman was "Well excuse me... Piss off, Lafiel," he said sarcastically.

She smiled at Leov, then continued her speech: "Look Leov, you can either come back with me, or I can send you to the bottom of the sea, it doesn't make any difference to me. Leov considered her offer: "She's bluffing... but then again, look what happened the last time I thought someone was bluffing... I can't take another chance, especially when I'm so close." He finally spoke up: "I'll go with you Lafiel, but on my terms: you go back with me and me alone, my people are free to go to Shrikefield unharrassed." A cry of disapproval came from Leov's crew. After a moment of careful consideration, Lafiel responded with a smile: "Agreed."

Leov turned to his dumbfounded, angry crew to explain himself: "I'm not going to damn all of you for something I did. Go... go and don't look back. Dom...Glen... take care of everyone for me." He stepped aboad the elven ship in an uneasy silence. "Thank you," Lafiel whispered to him. He merely stood there on the deck and watched his people sail away. "They're safe now... that's all that really matters," he thought to himself.

A few hours later, Leov was escorted back to his old cell. After the guards had left, Leov looked across the way and said with a grin: "Well, things like this will happen."

Written by - Tempyst

Trinni kept by Isuiln as she watched Renalis call forth the portal. Then she gasped when she saw him fall to the ground motionless. She ran over to the mage and rolled him over. "I don't think so mister! You are not getting out of this that easily!" Trinni slapped Renalis's face a few times, trying to get a response from him, but to no avail. She grumbled under her breath, herself determined to do her best to not let any more die this day as well. She tried to lift Renalis up on her own, to carry him through the portal, but found the human seemed to weigh a ton. Calling fomr some help, two guards came over and carried him through, laying him down where Trinni asked them to. Then she had the guards go back and bring Isuiln through as well; having them lay him down beside Renalis. As she sat down between them, her right hand on Isiuln's forehead and her left on Renalis's, she prayed that the gods would be able to do something for her friends, then mumbling to herself, "That way, when you both wake up, I can kick both your behind's for being so careless!"

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya awoke from her restless sleep to the sound of a cell door being slammed shut. She sat up and look and much to her expectation, Leov Klein was back. He grinned at her and said, "Well, things like this will happen."

"I see my charm has brought you back to these wonderful guest quarters." Kaya joked back.

"Just keep it down you two." The guard snipped.

"Hey, sir, excuse me." Kaya went to the door of her cell. "I'm not going anywhere; could I please have these shackles taken off?"

The guard paused, then turned to her. "I can remove your shackles; you will just have to wait a moment while I get a second guard here to help." He then started walking back up the hall.

"Wait! Sir! Please, two other things!"

The guard stopped and gave her an annoyed look. "What?"

Kaya took a deep breath and tried to look as pitiful as she could, which she figured would not be hard given her current condition. "Please sir, would it be possible for me to get some water and a clean tunic? What I am wearing is old and covered with blood and gore and frankly, it stinks!" Kaya wrinkled her nose. "I also think it would be more respectful for me to appear before those in charge clean instead of layered in filth. And if you would, what season is it?"

The guard stepped closer and sniffed, then pulled back abruptly. "Very well miss, I'll see some water and a change of clothes is brought down. And it is harvest time, but why you would not know that is beyond me."

"Oh thank you sir, thank you for your kindness." Kaya sat down on the bench and waited, but did not have to wait long. Within moments, two guards and several errand boys came to her cell. As her shackles were being removed, several buckets of water, two of them even steaming some, were placed by the door, along with a bundle of clothing and soap.

"There you go, pour the dirty water in the sewage hole. Put your old clothes in the buckets and they will be retrieved later when dinner is brought." Then the errand boys and the guards moved out and left the area.

Kaya rubbed her wrists then smiled as she walked over to the buckets. "Do you know how prescious clean water can be Leov?" She dipped her hand into the steaming bucket and almost squealed. "Oh by the gods, clean, HOT water." Kaya stood and began to quickly remove her old soiled clothing. She didnt care if Leov or the whole city guard was watching her, all she knew was that finally she could get this filth, this blood off of her. As she peeled off the last of her clothes, she sat on the bench grabbed the soap and hot water and began to scrub. "So Leov? what took you so long to get back here? I missed you." She looked up, seeing that Leov's eyes were appreciating her naked body, but smiled. I have been naked plenty of times in front of strange men my friend, when you are on teh battlefield, you don't often get the benefit of a changing room. She chuckled at her thought and enjoyed giving Leov a little show. It had been so long since she had felt so carefree and she was going to make the best of it.

Finally, when she felt clean, she stood and rinsed off, feeling for the first time in months, like her old self. The guard said it was harvest time. That means it has been almost five months since I was captured and sent away. It seems like so much longer than that. She picked up the one remaining bucket of water and poured it over her hair, making sure all the soap was gone. With a sly smile on her face, she left a little water in the bucket and walked closer to Leov and tossed the water at him, getting him slightly moist. "I thought I would share my wealth friend; besides, you looked a little thirsty." Kaya laughed, set the bucket down and put on the long frock that had been left for her.

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

"Harvest time, huh," Leov thought to himself about how joyous the harvest had been back on Kassal. Roused from his reverie by an unwelcome bath, Leov yawned and said sleepily, "Oh come on, I don't smell that bad, now do ?. And yeah... sorry about taking so long... I had about a hundred other things to take care of." He sat down on the stone floor with a dense thud, then leaned back against the cool stone wall. "So... why's water so important you? Back on Kassal... where I'm from..., we've been living off the sea for generations... in fact, I've been on the water more than I've been on solid ground." Leov started to piece together the puzzle before him: "I don't think I've ever seen an elf like you before, either. Just where are you from?"

Written by - Tempyst

Kaya straightened out her oversized frock then tore a piece from the bottom to turn into a makeshift belt. She sat on the floor next to the bars closetst to Leov and began combing her fingers through her hair.

"I don't think I've ever seen an elf like you before, either. Just where are you from?"

Kaya looked up and smiled softly. "I am born of the Eru'Erain in Alyatol. My home was the port of Nen A'Naur." Kaya then realized this human probably did not know of her homeland. "It is a port city on the edge of a harsh, unforgiving desert, the Naur'Lith, which means fire sands. I am daughter of..." Kaya felt her throat tighten and the harsh coughing begin. She wondered if Leov could see how angry these attacks were making her. But after a moment, the coughing subsided; she took a deep breath and looked back to Leov. "I would watch the ships come and go from the port. I spent a lot of time on the docks, which of course, I was not allowed to go." She smiled, remembering the fun her and Vaun had had back when they were young. "I only got to go on the ships on two occasions; we were heading to another port on Alyatol, or.." She smiled mischeviously, "I snuck on." Kaya laughed. "The captains were none to happy to see me, for most of the time, it meant they had to turn around and bring me back to port. But it became such an exciting game though, to see how long it would be before I was found." She leaned her head back, her wet hair dripping all over her. "I still miss the desert though." She looked at Leov. "So, where are you from and why have you failed your people? That is what you said earlier isn't it?"

Written by - Lucant Dolvan

She leaned her head back, her wet hair dripping all over her. "I still miss the desert though." She looked at Leov. "So, where are you from and why have you failed your people? That is what you said earlier isn't it?"

Reminising, Leov told his tale: "I was born in Lohenheim on Kassal, which is... oh, about four hundred nautical miles from Westgale, and let me tell you now, Kassal is the most wonderful place in world. Lohenheim - back in the day - was the jewel of Kassal. Temples, markets, mansions... glory as far the eye could see... they called it the City of Stars. If you'd take the Vandheim Road out of the city towards the south, you'd come to Dachwald. I may be pretty good at the helm, but I'm nothing compared to someone from Dachwald. Heh, everytime I'd go there when I was little... I'd always hang around the taverns listening to the sailors and pirates tell their stories." It then dawned upon Leov that he was doing that now. He smiled, then continued: "Go back out onto the Vandheim Road and turn west, and you'd come to Banwall out on the middle of the Medaruus Plains. Golden fields of wheat as far as you could see... We'd all used to gather at Banwall during the harvest and have the biggest festival you'd ever seen. It was something else, I tell ya." He stretched out then kept on with his reminising: "And then, if you go further west over the Nibel Mountains, you'd come to Austgard - don't go saying that the Dwarves are the best blacksmiths in the world until you've seen what the fellows at Austgard can make. South from Austgard, you'll come to Contiga... There used to be a saying that 'The men of Contiga built the ships that built Kassal.'"

He yawned again: "As for my people... I think its for the best if stay away from them for a good long while. Until I become a better man, at least..." He looked Kaya directly in hauntingly beautiful eyes and said with his usual smile, "So... there ya go. Everything you ever wanted to know about me. I, however, am much more interested in you."

Written by - Tempyst

"Me. I wish I could tell you more about me." In fact, I wish I could tell you everything! Why? I don't know. Kaya sighed, "You are the first intelligent person I have spoken to since spring. But you see..." Kaya felt her throat begin to close and choked back a cough. She gritted her teeth and took another deep breath. "I would love to tell you more about myself, but it seems I am not allowed..." Kaya broke out in horrible choking fit, her whol body convulsing with the force of it. After a few minutes, it subsided, she sat back up and looked wearily at Leov, a deep sudden sadness filled her eyes. "So, your home sounds amazing. This is my first time away from the island." She looked at him and suddenly found herself wishing she could touch him, feelsome sort of contact. Without being able to talk completely, Kays still felt isolated from the world around her. "So, you have told me where you are from, how about what brought you to this place this time?"

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