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Fantasy A Tide of Flames: a d20 Dungeons & Dragons adventure

Discussion in 'Role Playing Forum' started by Saintheart, Feb 20, 2008.

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  1. Ramza

    Ramza Administrator Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP

    Jul 13, 2008
    Evelios Ducktan and Poe the Whale
    "Take a walk around the block and be glad that I've got me some time"

    "Poe, this tale you're telling me is the most preposterous fabrication I've ever heard in my entire life. And I once heard a gnoll say he had a crippling case of encephalitis. Encephalitis, Poe." Evelios crossed his arms in frustration.

    "Look, I'm telling you, you were a whale. Not a duck. Much, much too big to be a duck."

    "That's completely ridiculous, everyone knows that whales are seven feet tall with shocks of flaming red hair, who devour the Corynthians whole and shoot fireballs out of their-"

    "Right, right, I get what you're driving at, and those aren't whales."

    "Bovine." The bard pointed his finger in an accusing manner. "Fecal. Matter."

    "Bovine fecal matter?"

    "Yes, don't you see? Clearly the discrepancies in our narratives are too vast to be accommodated by these mere lexicographic nuances. The explanation runs deeper. Much deeper - straight to the heart of all philosophical problems."

    "So bovine fecal matter..."

    "Surely you're familiar with the great bovine fecal matter thesis of 762 DR?"

    "... Not as such..."

    "It's quite elementary," Evelios continued, whipping out one of his books of verse and flipping to the relevant page. "Here we are: 'That which smells of bull**** is bull****.'"


    "Meaning you're wrong, of course. But I think there might be an alternate existence wherein you're right - I'm going to call this the many bulls interpretation."

    "Uh huh. Look, shouldn't you be... rallying troops or something? 'Upon St. Crispin's Day' and all that?"

    "Saint who? No, Poe, Skadi has got that quite under control. She's a better leader than myself anyway, I'm more like a..." He twirled his fingers a bit. "I'm more like a chocolate pastry."

    "... What."

    "You know, cocoa covered and fluffy. Also I'm led to understand that chocolate pastries are the most musically inclined of the dessert foods, save perhaps for the noble roast boar surprise."

    "I don't think that's a-"

    "And another thing - I've been awfully well-behaved as of late, where's my raise?"

    "Your raise?"

    "Yes, I demand an additional 10% to cover hijinks expenses. The working entertainer, my good sir, has a myriad of incidental costs that need covering, and the current rate just isn't cutting it."

    "I don't pay you."

    "Slave labor, then? Why Poe, I had thought you above such moral indiscretions. I'm afraid I cannot continue this partnership knowing what I now know."

    "Look, will you just... play the lute, or something?"

    "The lute? The lute? Sir, I do not play the lute."

    "Yes you do! You're wearing one, right now!"

    "Poe, don't be ridiculous, this is a violin."

    And so it was, as the lute was currently strung to the other shoulder.

    Silence hung heavy in the air, like some kind of very heavy thing.

    "Let's... just... follow the others..." Poe finally managed, utterly exasperated.

    "Quack," replied Evelios.

    TAG: All
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  2. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    The Boy and the Man,
    Sunset, The West Gate, Brindol, Elsir Vale,
    Twentieth of Kythorn,
    Year of the Broken Blade (1393 DR)

    The farmer blinked. His feet stood on a junction of sunburnt cobbles. He raised his head to look at Callam. The boy’s eyes were his mother’s, and quested across the farmer’s face like a search party.
    A shiver shrugged the noon heat from his back. He let his breath go and scratched a thick, wavering line, the stick’s point pulling a grainy shriek from tortured cobbles. “The barricade was here,” he said. “Right across the gate arch, that wall to there. I didn’t think we’d get it all the way across with the time we had.”
    “Da, I’ve heard this--”
    “No. It was the time that got away from us most. Not that we had good stone or much wood anyway.”
    “The most important thing you’ll learn is that time matters most, not stone, not clay, not iron. Even the dwarves, even they couldn’t make blocks from heartbeats.”
    “What did you mean ‘No’?”
    “No you haven’t. No you haven’t heard what happened here.”
    “I know.”
    “—every Harvesttide, they get you to tell—”
    “--You were here, the goblins came charging at the gate, you and a few men held on long enough for the relief to reach you.”
    “That’s children’s stories. If you think thirteen’s old enough to carry a sword -- well then, you’re a child no more.”
    Callam was silent the long stretch that followed.
    “The goblins charged the gate. Have you ever seen a goblin up close?”
    “You remember that boy, last autumn, what’s his name, Willem Crofter’s boy?”
    “Yes. Have you seen his back? He show you how wide that dog tore him open?”
    “Da, I—”
    “See how close I am? Picture a wild dog up this close. Fighting a goblin’s like fighting a wild dog. One that walks on its back legs. And knows how to use a sword. A wild dog that’s got armour over it, so you can’t just chop wild at it and watch it run from the pain. Now, picture six hundred wild dogs, all coming at you at once. Even then I’d have taken them over the hobgoblins.”
    “What hobgoblins?”
    “Not part of the children’s story. You take that same wild dog, make him a man’s size, give him a man’s brain, a man’s strength, and a man’s reach. Take a couple hundred of them and picture them all coming at you at once. Do you know what that’s like? It’s like being naked, in a storm. This great black wave comes rolling at you. You can’t count how many blades they have, even if you can see every last one from the way the steel shines like teeth under moonlight. And they’re all coming, at you, through that arch. Coming at you and the handful of other poor bastards left to hold the barricade. The noise is an earthquake and a thunderclap and screaming, screaming like you’ve never known, screaming like all the Nine Hells have come up with burning babies in their arms. And all you’ve got against that is a half-made spear, a wooden shield and a quick-forged short sword. Do you know what I did first, son? What your Da did when they came charging at him?”
    “I pissed myself. So did a lot of others. My brother Hal--Kelemvor judge him kind--he smelled like his arse had let go.”
    “Uncle Hal?”
    “Yes. Right next to me. In the levy they put brothers from the same homes together. Suppose they thought it’d make them fight harder. But you ride afield enough in the Vale you’ll find not a few standing bits of rotten wood that were hamlets who lost every son they had that night.”
    “Aunt Syrenna said—”
    “Heart attack didn’t kill Hal. No, that’s another children’s story. Or widow’s story, if you want. No. He died here. At this gate, right next to me. Right where you’re standing.”
    “Gods! Da, why—”
    “The goblins and hobgoblins charged at us. Our sergeant shouted to pull blades, and after that you couldn’t hear him over the screaming and the bloodlust. Orders didn’t matter anyway. It wasn’t like anyone wanted anything of us except to hold that pile of planks and pebbles. So you just hacked and you just stabbed and you kept your shield between you and their blades. You did that or you died. The dwarves, they fought good, mercenaries I heard or some such, but the only real difference it made was how slow they went down.”
    “But what about the Three Pillars?”
    “That what that mincing peacock sings them as? Yes, they were there. Rather have had actual pillars instead. For three pillars they were flesh and blood just like the rest of us. The Turmishman, Demetrius, he went down first. He threw himself right at their front. They buried him. I saw his hand reaching up between their backs, like he was trying to crawl out of a cave-in. Then I caught a dull blade here. Luckiest thing that happened, any sharper and I’d have lost half my arm and not just that scratch. I think the dwarf was shouting, I saw him alongside some of the beards, he was knocking arrows out of the air, and I swear he put his fist straight through a goblin’s chest. Sweat got in my eyes, but next thing I saw of him was the gods-damned giant that turned him to pulp.”
    “They, you, never said anything about giants.”
    “Oh, they didn’t tell you? Yes. Hill giants and ogres. And not big dumb brutes like Dal Cordwainer’s boys, but smart. Cunning as they were big. You could see that from the faces, from the eyes. They came through that gate. Barely could fit under the damned archway. I know men that had nightmares for weeks when they saw them. One of them looked over that dwarf hand-fighter for a second and made this swing with his club. It cracked the air. Turned the dwarf to meat underneath it.”
    “But—what about the third one—”
    “Yes. Him. Right in the middle of it all. He held the line together. He never seemed to stop, like some sort of golem out of one your peacock’s stories. Swinging. Cutting. Stabbing. He was red, drenched in blood, head to toe. I saw him take three cuts that would have killed a man. And when the giants came through the gate he was laughing. Laughing. I don’t think he ever saw any of us in the levy. He was too busy in the middle of the fight. I’ve never seen anyone like that. Can’t understand anyone like that. He drew blades to him like vermin to a carcass. But even he stopped laughing.”
    It. It came through the gate. Shaped like a man, but no man. Tall as one of the giants around him, all in a black cloak. Armoured head to toe in steel armour, almost black. Its shield was floating with it. There was a wind that came in with it, and it stank of jackals and meat left rotting. It didn’t have eyes, son. There were two green fires sitting in the sockets. Its face was wasting away. And it looked at me. Looked right at me. I was scared, death scared, for my body, boy, but this thing – that thing that came through the gate – it wanted my soul. But it didn’t. Didn’t take me. No. My brother. Hal. He saw it coming. I didn’t. I was too busy watching that thing. So he got in the way. And a hobgoblin’s club found his head. My face went wet and warm. Your uncle’s blood. Made me blind for a second. Bits of something slid off my face. He was still alive. His blood was in my eyes, but I knew he was still alive, because he grabbed onto me, his fingers curled on the edge of my leathers. He fell into me and then slid off me and I didn’t have time to hold him. I just swung and I cut the bastard, but that thing had come through the west gate, and the line was breaking, and even that third adventurer, the spearman, he was hurt, hurt bad, I was going to die, gods.”
    “Da. Da. It’s all right.”
    “You want to be an adventurer, son?”
    “Barkeep at the Raven sees you there. Listening to the stories those stupid bastards tell you boys.”
    “Da. Please.”
    “No. No. You listen now. This is what adventuring is. It’s not gold and gems and glory, it’s blood and terror and watching friends die in heartbeats. They tell you adventurers can get raised from the dead, I yet ain’t seen one who cared enough to give a commoner enough to raise his father or brothers to live again.”
    “Da. If I train, if I could get money for us to live—”
    “No. Did you listen to all I said? Your aunt, she nearly lost her mind when we came home to tell how Hal died. Day after the battle was over, I was on the wall. I was watching the crows. They came by the hundreds for the dead before the walls. And I swore by all the gods if I had a son he’d live long in peace in the Vale. You might have the right to carry a sword, son. But you’ve not the right that matters. You’ve not the right to make your mother and I love you just for you to walk away and get yourself killed. You think Syrenna finds comfort in my brother dying a hero? You think there’s no cold knife twisting in your chest when you can only think of your child as a legend? You promise me, son. Promise me here, on your dead uncle’s blood. That you’ll never adventure. That you’ll stay.”
    “Da. I. I promise, Da.”

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  3. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo

    CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 1, 2000
    Zanaek Grahorn

    West Gate, Brindol

    He was reluctant to go and although he wanted to stay and help those who were wounded, Ariel was right that he would be needed with the others. It would be irresponsible of him to try and save a few when so many depended on he and the Company and the other defenders. What good would it do anyway if they city fell? His attempts to save just these men would be for naught.​

    "Then let us go," he replied with a quiet determination. Torm was duty and he had a duty to save the city and through that task he would save these men too.​

    Zanaek walked out of the cathedral with Ariel and fell in with the others of their group, his grip on the hilt of his sword tight and his expression grim as he nodded to Skadi. The march of the rallied soldiers, a cadence beat at the back of his mind as the stench of death and fire reached his senses once more.​

    He quickly marched with them all, renewing his prayers on as many of his companions and the city defenders as he possibly could. When they were only a moment away, the cleric paused in his approach. He caught sight of old friends falling and felling the invading Horde that had finally broken through the west gate and it's defenses. He was afraid, but was not gripped by his fear. Before it had seemed like they could hold against the Red Hand but now that they had breached the walls, the task before them became daunting to him.​

    Zanaek squared his shoulders and gripped his staff as the defenders fell, the sound of metal clashing against metal, the cries of the dying and injured and furious roars of battle drifted to his ears. He glanced upward at his arael'sha as she hovered above them and gave a bemused smile, knowing what was to come next she would be amazed and joyed.​

    "In the valley of death do I walk, and though the shadow of evil be veiled, the Light shall protect from thine darkness and thine fears..." his voice rose with each word passing his lips as he spoke the prayer of the Triad, one of the most powerful he knew of and which had come to him in a dream so long ago, given to him by Torm but unused until now. An unearthly glow permeated around him, swirling with a brilliant white light about his body as the prayer came to it's end, almost blindingly, "and all who embraces the goodness and righteousness of the Light shall be blessed!"

    With a downward stroke, he emerged from the brilliant aura even as it faded to holy glow about his person. White wings propelled him skyward, his armor seemingly brighter and more polished and his features more angelical, celestial even. He was still Zanaek Grahorn but more and as he drew his sword with one hand and held his staff in the other, he glanced to Ariel and gestured ahead at the foray, "Shall we?"​

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  4. Ktala

    Ktala Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 7, 2002
    Ariel Elandinai
    West Gate, Brindol

    "Then let us go," he replied quietly. With a nod, Ariel gave his hand a gentle squeeze, and then walked out of the cathedral. As he moved to join the others, she launched herself skyward. As she rose with the wind, she drew her sword. 'As your will...' she whispered softly to the Winged Mother, and others of the circle. However this battled turned, she knew that they would be watching. That was a comforting thought. She did a slow circle, able to see some of what was happening as they company made their way towards the west gate. It did not take them long to reach the area, and from what they could see, it was chaos. The defenders were beginning to fold, and the enemy was making its way inside.

    Ariel looked down towards the company and saw that Zanaek had stopped. She saw him look up, and give a small smile. She replied with a smile of her own. She then saw that he started speaking. Was he spell casting? Praying? She didnt know, but she watched. Suddenly, she was shocked as Zanaek began to glow, the light around him almost blinding compared to the darkness around them. It swirled around him, and it seemed to build, as did his voice and the words he was saying. A sudden flash, as as Ariel strained to look, the light began to fade as Zanaek stepped out from its center.


    Ariel had to look twice at Zanaek as he had now grown wings! Large white wings propelled him skyward, and Ariel noted that everything on him seemed brighter and more polished and his face seemed to have a glow upon it. He drew his sword with one hand and held his staff in the other, he glanced towards Ariel and gestured ahead at the foray, "Shall we?"

    Ariel broke out into a wide smile, as she nodded eagerly. Was this the form he had mentioned awhile back? If it was, well.. it was a most wonderful way to remember her Arel'sha. With a flap of her wings, she moved to join him, looking to see where they could do the most good.

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  5. Livi-Wan

    Livi-Wan Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 29, 2002
    Sa'adi Adim
    West Gate, Brindol

    Blood and fear and metal and the burn-grey scent of torches cutting the cold night air. Heart-rhythm of drumbeat, loud calls of men- Skadi stopped, shook her head. This wasn't right, this wasn't her-

    What was it that they had said at the Abbey? Man-stink, stone-stink, not to worry now, need to hunt to feed to rend- No, this had to be controlled-

    Further introspection was cut short by the sudden, rank odour of rotting flesh and cold stone. Death. Her nostrils flared, fingers flexing as she scented the air, turned her head to her enemy, and howled. It was an eerie sound, raw and ragged and triumphant. This was it. Somewhere, dimly, the part of her that remained human nodded with satisfaction. Yes. Him. There.

    Newly-transfigured muscles bunched and Skadi gathered herself to leap through the air, claws extended, still howling her battle cry, all confusion honed to a single, deadly intent. The Death Knight would die.

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  6. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    The West Gate, Brindol, Elsir Vale
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    This is the Red Hand, in triumph.

    The black heart pumping rivers of corruption up to Brindol’s wall and onto her battlements has taken the field. Hravek Kharn – once his name, though if he has another now he does not speak it, and none dare address him by any title other than Wyrmlord – has gathered his bodyguard to him. He leads a screaming division of hobgoblins, goblins, bugbears, he has led them below the arch of Brindol’s West Gate, his size barely fitting beneath the pale, moon-washed stone. That which stood against him, against the lord who fuels the verdigris fire in his sockets and the queen who brings him here, has fallen. He towers over the pathetic necklace of men, elves, and dwarves and their weak little barricade; he raises himself to the tower above the wall with a thought, surveying the scene as the giants tear through the barricade, through rock and stone, flesh and bone, and the hobgoblins surge into the space beyond the gate.

    He raises his gaze to the hill beyond. There lies a keep there, and a church. Neither are bastions now. He can feel the weakness of his nemesis’s lifebeat, even from here; the Lord of this place lives, but only so long as to watch his city fall and his woman taken and made a prize for the Wyrmlord's troops. Now the gate is gone, they have none to oppose him. The Champion has assured Hravek Kharn – and therefore the Wyrmlord – that this place will be his seat, the centre of a domain to come. He has won.

    Then, a voice. A voice, singing loud over the clash of blades and screaming. A voice of madness, a voice that sings no song the Wyrmlord has ever understood, a voice that has rung across the Vale, a voice that belongs to a Ghost. And from the buildings around the gate, men surge forward, throwing themselves into battle, checking the advance, making the gate a battleground, delaying its conversion to a triumphal arch.

    And the Wyrmlord sees them: shapes, gleaming with light, magic pouring from them like water, soaring through the night air. Monsters – treant, troll, and angels -- all shining. Three of them seem to have shrugged off their human forms. Drow and bard and avariel scream towards him like living shafts. The Eight Ghosts. The band that has thwarted and harried and laid like a millstone round the Red Hand’s arm across the Vale. Finally, they have revealed themselves openly to him; finally, he will be avenged for his first death.

    He stretches out his hand against the treant, sure of what will follow, sure that once he lays the barbarian low that the adventurers will succumb to weak compassion and move to rescue their friend, and when they do he will overwhelm them, and he is so certain he almost does not realise that the bard counters his magic. He stretches his hand again, and this time the treant is brought low; back to human form, in the midst of the battlefield. But then there is the song and thunder of magic, and a ray arcs across the field, blasting one of his bodyguard into oblivion; another of the giants roars with sudden pain as an invisible blade cuts into it. The mage and the thief, he thinks, and curses to have forgotten them. He leaps out, into space, lands next to the figment that stands for him, and howls his defiance at them, his challenge.

    His challenge is answered. A roar cuts the night air, a roar born from a god transformed into a mortal form, and a great, silver, shining mass leaps at him. He raises a great, black war pick, darkness swirling around him to enshroud the silver form, and he screams from the grave, screams for all the lives of hobgoblins spent to bring him back. But it means nothing. Silver arms thunder into him. Silver claws tear into him. Verdigris light sprays from the holes in his form. Silver tears away his form, revealing the rotting flesh below, and even though his spells blast at the troll, wounding it, the silver sinews are blasting light into his lifeforce, and he realises it is done, that he has bargained for nothing, that he will have nothing, and his last perception is a silvery hand reaching for his face.

    The silver troll explodes his skull in a final spray of emerald light, and screams in victory, and the dark armoured form shudders; collapses; breaks into a thousand pieces. And the black heart stills. The last of the Wyrmlords is gone.

    A cry of horror snakes through the horde, out of the gate, up to the battlement. Tiamat has abandoned her people.

    Torm has not.

    A light shines at the West Gate, at the center of the battle. A gate, small as life, endless as love, opens to the Celestial Realms.
    Godfire streams through.
    Godfire bursts forth as though creating the world, and it cleanses everything in its path at the gate in white light. Hobgoblins scream, and burn, and try to run, but the power from the Triad smites them one and all, ends them but touches not a hair on the head of any of Brindol’s defenders. And as Halden Virthyr, blood flowing from four different wounds, begins to stand, there is a great wind, and an angel with shining eyes and wearing the vestments of a cleric, a Divine Oracle of Torm, he who called down his god’s power one more time, lands to stand beside him in the midst of the field. The silver troll turns to the giants that have withstood the blast, but with their Wyrmlord’s death, they disintegrate as if a thousand years of decay happens in a moment; they collapse into evil-scented piles of corruption. And, as the avariel strikes from above and the drow ends lives with his crossbow, ending the stragglers who managed to avoid the godfire, the Red Hand wavers—

    --And breaks.

    The rivers of hobgoblins streaming towards the walls stall; reverse, even as the Company watches. They become a flood of flight: as what is left of the Red Hand turns, broken, and runs, routing, from the walls of Brindol, leaving weapons, bodies, compatriots, banners, behind. In the weeks to come, all that will be found of the army will be the sign of its disordered retreat back across the Vale; a passage that grows steadily weaker and slower as the tribes shatter into groups and flee back to the Wyrmsmokes, carrying a new legend, a new curse: the tale of the Eight Ghosts.

    The storm passes.

    Brindol stands.

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  7. Ramza

    Ramza Administrator Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP

    Jul 13, 2008
    Evelios D'Rtan, Bard Extraordinaire, and Poe the Raven
    There's a David Glen Eisley joke in this somewhere, so... here it is.

    Dust and grime clung to his skin. His breathing, still managing to maintain his mystical tunes, grew heavier with each passing moment. He wasn't sure how much longer any of them could hold out.

    And then, it happened.

    Evelios' eyes widened as he saw the goblins double back at full speed. He knew there was only one possible conclusion to draw from the scene before him. His song came to an abrupt halt.

    "My god... they're regrouping for a final assault. This is it, Poe; you've got to save yourself, you need to go te-"

    "Mr. Evelios, sir!" came a shout from the ramparts.

    "There's no time, Poe, this is the heroic last stand. The whole enchilada. Everything has come down to this final, bittersw-"

    "Mr. Evelios!"

    "Poe, stop calling me 'Mr. Evelios,' you know how much I hate th-"


    The bard's glance turned in the direction of the shouts. His eyes widened even more than they had previously, which probably isn't actually possible, but we choose to ignore that. Tears began to form. "Pail? Pail, is that you?! But they... they said you were... they said the pointéd stick had..."

    "Sir, you were there for that, you know full well I only got a splinter."

    "Pail, I'm glad to see you, but you've got to get out of here. Even now you can hear the cheers of fear, they're going to-"

    "That's just it, Harping Scum, sir, they're not regrouping!"

    Evelios stopped for a moment, and scratched his beard. "Wait, Pail, if that's true, then that means... ... they're... reringing?"

    "No, sir, they're in full retreat!"

    "Bovine fecal matter!"

    "No, he's right," Poe said. "They're heading for the hills. The day is won."

    "But, but Poe, I've never won anything in my life. Well, except for that spelling bee trophy back in third grade, but that was a fluke."

    "It's true, sir!"

    Evelios, deciding he had had quite enough of this ambiguity, decided to turn around. This time he really did shed a tear.

    "Something... the matter?" Poe asked.

    The bard let out a chuckle. And then another. And another. Soon, he was positively overcome with hearty laughter, and he rocked back and forth on his heels in time. "No, Poe, nothing's the matter at all. Life is beautiful."

    He cocked an eyebrow. "But, y'know, beauty can always be improved upon..."

    Poe produced whatever the avian approximation of a smirk was. "Victory bagpipes?"

    "Oh no..." groaned Pail.

    "OH YES!" replied Evelios with a triumphant shout. And victory bagpipes there were.

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  8. Rilwen_Shadowflame

    Rilwen_Shadowflame Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Mar 27, 2005
    IC: Mazarun Zothyrr

    It was... over?

    Mazarun blinked, seeing the targets melt away, the field abandoned by the enemy. It was over. They'd won. And the Wyrmlord had fallen. The drow felt almost weak-kneed with relief. Fate had been merciful; the error he had wrought, leaving Kharn's gory form amidst the camp of the Red Hand, had been expunged without costing the lives of Brindol's people. Even he himself had not paid for that mistake, he who was used to paying in blood and sorrow for every deed, right or wrong.

    They had won, they had survived, and even this battleground seemed wondrous with the knowledge that it was over.

    Mazarun looked around at his companions, lowering his crossbow at last. They had all done so much, and the bow of his head to Sa'adi was one of profound respect. As he straightened, however, it was William's gaze he caught, William to whom his exultant smile was directed, as Mazarun raised one fist into the air with a cry of triumph, the cry of a drow warrior uplifted by victory.

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  9. Ktala

    Ktala Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 7, 2002
    Ariel Elandinai
    West Gate, Brindol

    It was all a blur. Ariel had heard her father mention such a thing, but she herself had never felt such a thing until now. It was surreal. An eternity frozen within a breath. Even for an elf, it was forever a moment to be remembered. She had moved with Zanaek, after his transformation. Her Arael'sha had transformed into - what? A symbol of his Deity's wrath perhaps. Winged Vengeance, definitely. A blinding symbol of light, on wings that moved swiftly towards Halden, who was surrounded by many of the cursed creatures.

    Ariel felt the power of the the Goddess, and more, as she began to swing Sulsalka. The great sword moved as if it had a mind of its own, and Ariel let it, letting her guide her towards the targets that needed to be taken care of. She was screaming, though she was not aware of it. She sang her Goddess's name as she attacked. She was aware of Zanaek somewhere nearby, and the song of the bard's insane singing, but other than that, Ariel was in the blood lust of battle. Her sword continued to carve its deadly path, and Ariel swung, holding on as she felt her own song within escalate. The song of Tel' Seldarine. of the Duskblade. Sulsalka moved, felling another when Ariel became aware that it was growing lighter. But the sun was not quite rising, not just yet. This light was born of another, and as if a door had suddenly opened upon the field.

    Then Ariel could feel something. Something powerful, as the light began to grow around them. It bathed those within the West Gate. To Ariel, it was a comforting, warming light. A light of peacefulness and clarity. But it was a different thing to the army they faced. The hobgoblins began to scream, and run away from the light, as it burned them. The wrath of a God, they sought to escape it. But there was no escape for those still within the city's walls. The light consumed them, as they learned the full extent of their folly. So much screaming, and yelling, and the sounds and smells of death filled the air.

    Then suddenly, there was a silence, that pulled Ariel out of her battle-lust. It felt as if the field had suddenly gone cold, it was such a shock, that Ariel quickly landed on a nearby roof, to see what had happened. At first, her mind could not process what she was seeing, as the massing hordes of hobgoblins began to move.


    They were moving out from the city. Did that mean...?

    Suddenly, the silence was interrupted by the ear splitting sounds of Evelios and his thrice-cursed bagpipes. BAGPIPES?!?! She knew that song he was playing. Ariel dropped her arm, and smiled as she looked out across the land. Yes, it was true, the goblins were leaving. Ariel grabbed her playing horn and leaped high into the air. With her powerful wings She began to circle the skies above her, playing a song that sprang to mind. It seemed appropriate for the moment. She woudlnt even complain about Evelios's bagpipes. They had a reason to celebrate.

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  10. cassie5squared

    cassie5squared Jedi Knight star 2

    Dec 8, 2010
    IC: William Marshall and Maeghen

    Even in his wildest dreams, William could never have imagined the results of his magic entwined with holy strength could lead to such a dramatic victory in the face of doom. Skadi's attack had destroyed Kharn completely, and now, as he hovered above the battlefield and watched the shattered remnants of the Red Hand turn and flee in terror, he was too overwhelmed with the magnitude of what he and his companions and the armies of Brindol had done to speak.

    Mazarun seemed to have no such issues; he gave full voice to his delight as their gazes met, and William gave the drow warrior, his unlikely friend, a warm smile and a bow of the head in acknowledgement of what they had achieved.

    Above the square, the scream of a triumphant falcon rang out, and Maeghen swooped around them all in joy and relief.

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  11. Ktala

    Ktala Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 7, 2002
    Ariel Elandinai

    As Ariel completed her song, she gently landed on a nearby rooftop. After everyone else had realized that they had indeed won, and that the goblins were in full retreat, many of the others began the task of cleaning up the main city, and doing necessary repairs to the gates and city. As Ariel breathed deeply and looked around, she saw Zanaek had landed on a nearby rooftop as well.

    "Arael'sha." she called gently. Zanaek was still transformed, but she noticed the look on his face. Ecstatic. Terrified. Lost in thought. Awed. And a few other looks she could not even put a name too. Well, perhaps that was the look she had on her own face, when she had been in the temple of the Tiri Kitor. And that had been quite an experience for Ariel. Her Arael'sha had done more than that. From the light and wings, she guessed that Torm had touch him that more profoundly. He looked...


    That was the word. His contact must have been profound indeed. Ariel rose upwards with a powerful flap of her wings. She then gently landed next to Zanaek. "Areal'sha?" Ariel called to Zanaek as she walked over to him. The light still came from him, and shone against the powerful wings that had sprouted from his back. His face seemed to shine. He looked as if he was listening to something that only he could hear, his face looking skyward.

    Ariel walked over to him, and gently buffed him with her wings, as she offered him a smile. She stayed silent, letting him slowly exhale and recover from the experience. No words were necessary. At least not at the moment. She just hoped that she had not lost him to the experience.

    TAG: CmdrMitthrawnuruodo
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  12. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo

    CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 1, 2000
    Zanaek Grahorn

    West Gate, Brindol


    He had felt His power like he had never before. When he had chosen to transform himself into one of the Triad's servants, he had expected a power greater than what he already possessed as a mere mortal. Something like strength and a greater understanding of healing as well as the cosmetics and flight. But this he had not expected when he had cast his prayer and smote the entire battlefield, harming the enemies of Brindol and leaving its defenders unscathed.​

    He had felt his deity on that battlefield, felt his power coursing through him like a celestial fount and it exhilarated him. It also scared the living dickens out of him too. He was overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of it all and a part of him wanted to experience it forever. He had heard tales of clerics and paladins devoting their entire lives seeking their deities presence and the exhilaration of holy power and he wondered if that is what he should do.​

    “Arael'sha?” Zanaek blinked and drew his gaze away from the smoke covered stars to the familiar voice. The word pulled at him and it took him a moment to remember that was an affectionate name the angel before him called him. When had he landed and how long had she been calling out to him? Ariel looked concerned and he wondered what he looked like to her and everyone else.​

    With a gentle flap of the wings he had been granted, he folded them down and cloaked his shining armor and vestments in them. “I'm here,” he replied quietly, his thoughts still lingering around what had happened to him while his attention was on her. “I'm sorry, I did not mean to have you worry.”​

    He gave her an affectionate smile to reassure her even though he wasn't quite reassured himself. The transformed cleric turned his gaze outward to the battlefield and watched as the remaining forces of the Red Hand were routed while the defenders of the city cheered the victory that had been one. He could hear Evelios' bagpipes but this time didn't mind them too much. They all deserved to celebrate this victory in any fashion that they could.​

    “I feel the need to stretch and relax somewhere.” He quirked a brow at her and stretched his wings to indicate what he had in mind. “I only have a few more minutes before I lose these. Shall we test them on the way to the cathedral?”​

    He wanted to spend time with her before he returned to the cathedral to help out with the wounded. He knew he could think best if he was busy healing and with her at his side, he was certain he could cope with what he had experienced and make sense of it.​

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  13. Ktala

    Ktala Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 7, 2002
    Ariel Elandinai
    West Gate, Brindol

    Ariel was glad when Zanaek responded to her call of Arael'sha. She gave him a warm smile, watching his face as he worked to deal with the powerful emotions he was now feeling. She stood next to him, patient as the city around them broke out into celebrations. She watched as Zanaek blinked and drew his gaze away from the smoke covered stars to look towards her. With a gentle flap of the wings he had been granted, he folded them down and cloaked his shining armor and vestments in them. “I'm here,” he replied quietly. She watched his face, his thoughts still written across his face. “I'm sorry, I did not mean to have you worry.” Ariel offered him another smile. What could she say at the moment? He had just had the power of Torm run through him. Up close and personal. That was a heady thing to recover from.

    He gave her an affectionate smile, and she replied by leaning her head gently on his shoulder, even as he looked out to gaze across the battlefield, to watch everyone celebrations. He then spoke to Ariel once more. “I feel the need to stretch and relax somewhere.” He quirked a brow at her and stretched his wings to indicate what he had in mind. “I only have a few more minutes before I lose these. Shall we test them on the way to the cathedral?”

    Ariel's face beamed in excitement and joy. It might only be for a few moments, but they would be moments that Ariel could cherish. To have her Arael'sha fly next to her, in the joy of flight, within the Winged Mothers embrace- Ariel could not think of anything better! Ariel quickly extended her own wings outwards, as she took a step forward, happiness written across her face. "I could not thing of anything more I could wish to do at this moment." she replied, as she then gave a mighty flap of her wings, to gently propel her skywards. She waited for her Arael'sha to join her, so that they could use what time they had to fly within the blessings of the Winged mother and Torm, before his spell was gone. She also knew that he would most likely head back to the cathedral to do what he had wished to do earlier, to heal those whom he could help. But right now, this was their moment. It was something that they could share, and always remember, even if it only lasted for a few moments. A few moments to share in something truly wonderful. Together. 'Thank you.' she whispered. To Aerdrie Faenya, to the Tel'Seldarine, and even a grateful thank you to Torm, for this moment, no mater how small and fleeting.

    Ariel extended her hand, waiting for Zanaek to join her, and together they would fly for as long as he was able to join her. Whatever else came after, would wait.

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  14. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    Part Four: A Hand of Doom
    Sunrise, Brindol
    After the Storm
    Midsummer (First of Flamerule)
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    Mazarun’s eyes began to sting. He lifted his goggles from the black, flaccid thong where they had hung all night, and put them over his face. It would be another hour before sunlight crested Brindol Hill, setting the rose window of the Cathedral aflame, but scarlet eyes were as wary of sunlight as the drow were of the surface at large. Although he might just be tired. He was, after all, keeping watch over the dark plain before the West Gate. And he, Mazarun Zothyrr, fighter and wizard, adventurer and fool, had volunteered for this watch, begun when the stand down was called, ending—hopefully--soon. Many had stood here at moonrise. Now only he stood here, watching over few, slumped at their posts in dreamless sleep.

    Sand scraped behind him. Even dulled by a long night, his reflexes were enough. His rapier was out and the hand crossbow tracking—
    “Hi. Coffee?”
    Corrath held an earthenware jug and two crude clay cups in her hands. She was close enough to him--and far enough from the stairway down--to tell him he needed sleep. He had been around the half-elf long enough to know that sand under her boots didn’t move laterally unless she deliberately required it to do so. Which suggested she knew he needed sleep and would have perhaps killed her had she not announced herself first.
    “Coffee.” Corrath raised the jug and lowered it. “Do. You. Want. Some.”
    Out of habit he sniffed at the jug’s rim. The air there was hot and dusky, an improvement on that around him. He turned back to the plain, shoulders loosening, waving his crossbow at the flat top of the nearest crenellation, sheathing his rapier with the other hand.
    “Have you not slept?” he said.
    “No,” she said, finishing the pour on one cup and handing it across to him. “I couldn’t anyway, tell you the truth. Decided to humour Ulverth after all.”
    “Did you end up finding any?”
    “Only two. One made it all the way up to the alley behind Kaal Manor. The other one was trying to get clear through the South Gate. Caught him on a drainpipe in Tanner’s Row. Sergeant told me they cornered a burned-out caster over by the river, too. Said Ulverth’d put together proper clearing teams in the morning.”
    “Foolish. One committed straggler inside these walls could do a hundred swords’ damage right now if he chose wisely.”
    “I don’t see they’ve got much other choice. They lost a lot of people tonight. Everyone left’s shot their bolts pushing the Hand off the wall. Anyway, a straggler’d be insane to go looking for a fight in here. Skadi’s due back with the hussaryn soon, but Ulverth’s got the Keep buttoned up like a banker’s purse and William’s in there too. Jarmaath’s recuperating. Zanaek’s at the Cathedral, and Ariel’s perched up in the rafters over him like a mother hen. And Ragnar’s still prowling around here somewhere. Gods know where Evelios is going to turn up.”
    “And what of the West Gate?” Mazarun nodded at the ten or so leaning, nodding men imitating being on guard in the broken barbican below and behind.
    “They’ve got you.”
    He snorted.

    She murmured something. He turned towards her, saw her expression in the false dawn, and followed her gaze back down through a gap between battlements to the field below. He looked at what was there and then raised his head back to the horizon, wondering whether this time he would see Skadi and the few hussaryn with her trotting back to the wall at the end of their pursuit patrol. He heard sand scatter under Corrath’s heels as she moved back from the battlement.
    “I thought you had seen such before,” he said.
    He heard her raise her cup, drain it. “Cadeford was different.”
    “Not to hear some of you tell it so.”
    “There were thirty of them,” she said. “Enough archers to fill Radok full of holes, enough bandits to kill everyone in the trading post. Not like this. Nothing like this. Why, you telling me you’ve seen worse?”
    “No,” he said, softly. He failed at fixing his eyes on the horizon and sipped from his cup. The hot, dusky liquid immolated both his tongue and the air’s clamouring, competing smell which would turn worse in daylight. “I have seen tidier.”

    He decided the soft wash of wingbeats was the most unsettling sound. The chief motif below the battlement was a moan: dissonant glissandos from dozens of Red Hand wounded, some mortally, some not; here, a death rattle’s staccato in counterpoint; there, the knife of a grey-clad Brindolese mercyman, cutting a groan short with a conductor’s flick of the wrist. Menzoberranzan had played all of these melodies to Mazarun. Particularly the last, though no drow called it mercy. But the soft wash of raven wings en masse was new to him. In the predawn darkness, the flocks were dim fractal clouds expanding over the field, wings sending up small waterfalls of noise, then settling and fading as whatever had disturbed the ravens moved on.

    One of the birds roosted on the thin black branch of a spearhandle. It made a bobbing, tugging movement with its head. A small red ball was freed from the red thread it was connected to. A staccato, jerking motion and the red ball disappeared. Another bobbing, tugging movement and another red ball. The bird was a black particle against the battleground. Below the titanic gravestone of the wall, a quarter mile of earth was spread thick with entropy: countless spent shafts, banners bent sinister, ladders leant acute. The field had germinated a crop of stiffening, clawed hands, limbs raised as though in rictus praise. Corpses gripped shadow and dawnlight like dress on an overploughed field. On the battlement, sad white chrysalides lay in rows. Within the wall piles of enemy dead pocked the cobbles like disease.
    This is what victory looks like, he thought.

    “Nine Hells with victory,” she said. He turned from the nightscape to her. His mouth had betrayed his mind. “Call this winning?”
    He said, “I call it a passed test. One that anyone still breathing passed as well. So should you.”
    She looked out again through the place between the battlements. There was something in her face that made his insides compress and when he heard noise from below the battlement he turned to it. The leaning, nodding men were not moving. A handful of silent, swaying, cloaked shapes were setting forth from the gate. Two of them held black chain censers, the burners suspended from silver orbs: coupled pendula, softly reasoning their way through time and space.
    “What is that?” he asked.
    Her steps to stand beside him were silent, but he saw her shoulders loosen after she looked, and her voice was nonchalant. “Oh. Kelemvorites.”
    The God of Death, he remembered. He was tired. He had seen them before in the city. “What are they doing?”
    “I think it’s called Lament for the Fallen. After big battles they go out, chant, pray over the battlefield, try and clean things up. They don’t have clerics of the Death God in Menzoberranzan?”
    “It is – monotheist.”
    “Huh. Surprises me.”
    “Well, with how you’ve said the place operates, I wouldn’t have thought Ll—”
    “In Menzoberranzan there are no battlefields,” he said. “Because no battle takes place. Consequently there are no casualties, either. There is no need for clerics of death to tend the dying, because none are found dying. The victor ensures that, or the victor is subject to – justice.”
    “You prefer that over this?” He turned to her. His feet snarled the sand beneath them. Her face was clenched. “I don’t get it. I might not go along with all the stuff that Zanaek and Skadi talk about, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with clerics going out to speed the dead on their way.”
    “I did not say that. I never said that.”
    “Then what’re you saying?”
    Life.” The word came out like his breath. He turned to face the space between the battlements and he thought of Sellyria and the Keepwood and the birds that had flocked to him when he had reached out with his spirit. “I have learned that from all of you.”

    Are you there?
    The voice came from the Rings of Communication. As always, it whispered into Corrath and Mazarun’s ears alike. But the voice that came through had not been there for a long season; indeed Mazarun had never heard it from this angle before.
    Anyone? Any of you?
    Alessandro?” said Corrath, raising the ring to her mouth, turning from north to south in rapid succession.
    Corrath? Thank the Gods. Where are you guys?

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  15. Ktala

    Ktala Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 7, 2002
    Ariel Elandinai - Sunrise over Brindol
    After the Storm

    Airel's heart soared even higher than Zanaek and she, as they joined together in flight, twisting and twirling as they lifted high, above the cathedral. She kept her flight tame, as she knew he was not used to any fancy type of flying, but he did well for a 'grounder'. She twirled around him as he flew, gently laughing. She shared with him a brief kiss. It was wonderful, coupled with the promise of what looked like to be a beautiful sunrise on the horizon, for the few moments, that they had together, the flew in tandem. Her Arael'sha and her, enjoying this brief moment of peace, that they both shared as one. It was wonderful. It was a blessing. And all to soon, Zanaek signaled her that the end of his spell was coming to an end very shortly. So they enjoyed the end of his spell in a special way. Together, they both descended down from the tops of the Cathedral. Both of them winged, with Zanaek still having a slight glow about them as they gently came down, and landed on the main floor.

    Ariel gently folded her wings down, as the spell soon ended, and turned her Arael'sha changed as well. She followed him then, as he got busy, doing what it was he had wished to do for so long. To heal those injured. She watched, helping when she could. Otherwise she stayed out of the way, until Zanaek finally could go no further, and fell asleep, after finishing treating a patient. After she noticed that he had not moved in a while, she gently flew down, and checked on him. A slight smile came to her face, when she realized that he had fallen asleep. She gently laid him down on a cot, in the area where he had been treating so many patients, covering him with a blanket.

    She made sure that he was comfortable, and that he would be looked after, before she decided to leave. She wanted to check on the Tiri Kitor, and see how they had fared during the battle. With a last kiss to her sleeping 'sha, she left to go find the elves. She first went to the woods, to see if they were still there.

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  16. cassie5squared

    cassie5squared Jedi Knight star 2

    Dec 8, 2010
    IC: William Marshall and Maeghen

    Once the initial rush of victory was over, William had not argued with being sent back to the castle. While one or two of his spells were still surging through him, he knew that once they ended - particularly the one that had allowed him to strengthen so many of his other spells far beyond their normal capacity - he would be utterly exhausted. He had reshaped the Weave over and over this night, often with the spells he had only recently come to any mastery of, and he would pay the price for his efforts later. But there were still many spells left at his disposal, though of slightly lesser strength, and should an emergency arise he was in the best place to hear about it at once and come running.

    Unable to sleep, he wandered through the halls of the Keep offering assistance as he went; while he was no great healer, the application of healing salves and tying of bandages was something he was used to, and it seemed to reassure the soldiers that the Company of the Crescent Flame was still alert, still watching over them.

    Perched on his shoulder was Maeghen. Having stayed so far away from him during the battle, she had taken the opportunity to scold him thoroughly for getting hurt once she rejoined him, and then settled comfortably into her accustomed place and dared him to try sending her off again without a good reason. She was more than willing to share what she'd seen with any of the soldiers who asked for news - the fall of Kharn for the second time, the Red Hand turning and fleeing once Skadi destroyed their leader, the triumph at the West Gate - and that, too, seemed to bolster their spirits.

    Then, as he finished tying a clean rag around one soldier's arm, a voice came from his silver ring that almost made him yelp in shock. The speaker was wholly unfamiliar to him. The first thought that came to mind was Who are you and why do you have the ring of one of my friends, but when Corrath's reply echoed over the same link, he relaxed. Whoever this Alessandro was, she seemed to know him. Still, it could never be a bad thing to be careful.

    "What's going on?" he said into his own Ring. "Corrath? Is there trouble?"

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  17. cassie5squared

    cassie5squared Jedi Knight star 2

    Dec 8, 2010
    ((Ignore this, accidental doublepost.)
  18. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo

    CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 1, 2000
    Long post ahead!

    Zanaek Grahorn

    Brindol, Elsir Vale

    The wind whistled mildly past his ear and through his short, brown hair as he flew beside his Arael'sha. She made a dance out of the feat, maneuvers he didn't dare try for lack of experience. It was one thing to walk on air, but an entirely different thing to actually do so under one owns power and strength. He saw the world differently from up there though and wondered if this is how the Gods viewed them.​

    Looking to Ariel he could certainly understand her perspective of grounders a little better. The freedom to go anywhere and see the world from on high and not have to worry about the troubles of those below was... enlightening. She could flitter away from everything with such ease and not look back and the fact that she had not was testament to her loyalty to not only him but the others too, as well as her sense of honor.​

    "How high are you able to fly?" He had asked her as they circled above the carrion feeders that were now flocking to the ruined battlefield and city. They were the only blemish to their celebration of victory and survival but he paid no heed to their noise.​

    "High," was her reply and with a wink of challenge she flew upward and he followed. The air was thinner and colder the higher he went and it baffled him. He had always thought it would be warmer the closer one got to the sun but then he supposed it was night and the air had simply cooled by then. He reached a limit as to how far he could follow her into the sky before he became too exhausted from the effort and she suggested they glide back down.​

    "I am not use to this," he pointed out shamefully but she smiled at him in understanding, never judging him. She glided just above him as they spiraled back down to the city. He looked up at her and gave her a gentle smile, "But I could someday." It was wishful thinking, he knew, to be able to join her in her element on a regular basis. Unless Torm granted him permanent wings, he would forever be bound to the earth save for when he used the prayer that gave him flight now.​

    It saddened him to know that this would soon come to an end and he would be stranded on two legs once more. "It's a real shame only your people were granted this gift. But I suppose it is for the best. Mankind and the other races would probably pollute the sky if given the chance." It was the first time he was cynical about the hearts of others, the war apparently having made it's mark on him at last.​

    They flew around the city one more time before the familiar sixth sense of knowing when a spell would soon end prodded at the back of his mind. He called to her and gestured at the still standing cathedral, “I need to land soon. How about we head for the cathedral?” He could see the disappointment in her eyes even if she didn't express it openly. “I know, love. I wish I could stay up here with you too. But there is always next time.” He gave her a promising smile before banking in the direction of the cathedral.​

    He made a pass around the ancient building and nodded once to his Arael'sha before lightly landing on his two feet once more at the entrance. There was no one to greet them outside, anyone able to lend a sword in the last stand against the onslaught had been sent away to give their lives for the city and the vale. Remembering that final battle at the West Gate conjured up the memories of what had happened through him. The power he had felt and the exhilaration and fear brought on by being touched by his deity still left him unsettled, confused and in awe.​

    “Will you stay?” he asked of her. Ariel's presence was an anchor in the storm of emotions and confusion that was raging within him. The peaceful and joyous flight had momentarily distracted him from what had happened, but now that it was over and the reminder of what had happened brought it all back.​

    “Of course, Arael'sha,” she answered and placed a hand on his shoulder, her wings fluttering lightly in reassurance. She followed him inside, the glow from his ethereal appearance drawing attention to them. Even as the prayer slowly began to fade away and return him to his normal appearance of a mortal man, those that were awake and able to sit up looked upon them with awe. He paid no heed to what he might have looked like to the wounded and dying and only hoped that it gave them the strength to live.​

    He spoke to the matron in charge of tending to the wounded, his gaze wandering in search of Lord Jarmaath and Lady Goldenbrow. He did not see them up by the altar and suspected that the Lord had been moved to somewhere more comfortable and out of sight for morale purposes. The matron told him who was in most critical condition and who wasn't, who needed amputations and who didn't as they walked along the rows of the wounded.​

    “I will begin with those who are most grievously wounded. Clean water and rags that you can spare and any herbs that remain that are not in use.” The woman bowed lightly and hurried off to get what he requested, giving orders to a few other servants of Lathander. He turned to Ariel and started unbuckling his armor. He needn't ask her for aid and with her help, the pieces of his plate were stashed out of the way. “This will take all night.”​

    “And all night I will remain.” He appreciated her determination to stay with him. He knew she was no healer despite having grown up with a cleric for a mother. But it warmed him to know she understood his purpose in life even if he didn't quite understand himself right now. He knelt down to his backpack and taking his healer's kit and supply of potions that had not been made by Tiamat's clerics, he heard his Arael'sha take flight. Glancing upward, he watched as she settled on one of the rafters. It brought a smile to his face despite the grim news he had been given and the cries of the pained and dying.​

    The matron and a priestess in training returned with what he requested and the older woman left her younger companion with him to attend to the other wounded. He was led to where the most wounded were and he approached a boy that was no older than thirteen. The lad had lost an arm and had received a blow to the side that left a gash as long as his hand. He was awake and lucid and the cleric could see the boy had been given a numbing agent to ease his pain somewhat.​

    “What's your name, son?” he asked as he knelt beside him to check his temperature. His skin was cool to the touch and made the fever he felt all the more hotter.​

    “C...Cason, sir,” the boy answered through gritted teeth and it pained him to see someone so young having to fight. He had sworn so long ago to put a stop to childrens' lives being ruined by war like his had been. He could not remember much of those earlier years, only that his mother had a kind smile and the priest that had adopted him had been compassionate if a little strict. There was, of course, the fear and the smell of burning crops but he had pushed those memories to the back of his mind and rarely thought about them.​

    But now, seeing this child maimed by battle he could not help but contemplate his memories.​

    “My name is Zanaek,” he said while his eyes and fingers examined the wounds the boy suffered. He peeled back blood-soaked rags from the gash and the amputation site. Both injuries were done by a sword or an axe and the boy had yet to be tended to by the clerics. They probably had written him off as a lost casualty and thought it best to save those that they could. But he was a healer and he had taken a vow to save lives no matter how vain it may be. “I will do everything I can to save you,” he promised.​

    He soon became lost in thoughts and the work, chatting away with Cason as he did so. He contemplated mostly about his purpose in life and what it meant to be a cleric of Torm. The memories of his past reminding him why he had chosen this life but the experience of the battle held promises of something greater if only he could find the courage to seek it. He knew Torm had been watching over him since he was a child but never really understood why, even in the few times he had felt the god's presence in his dreams.​

    The power that had coursed through him had been extraordinary and he had never known what it felt like to be a god or close to one. In that moment he had life and death in his hands and had chosen to deal justice to the enemies of Torm. He wanted to feel that experience again but was afraid of where it would lead him if he tried to seek it out. Where would he be led to and what would become of his life? Would he still heal and adventure? What about Ariel and his friends, could they follow him on such a journey?​

    He stitched Cason's wounds closed and covered the end of his arm with a poultice to prevent infection while the skin sealed and regrew over the elbow. His mind was not on the work but his hands were guided from years of experience. He considered the questions he was asking himself and knew the answers to them. The life he was leading now would come to an end if he decided to pursue one where he became closer to Torm. It would become a life of solitude and there would be no room for his companions or his love for Ariel. He would most likely not save lives or heal again, his greatest passion and talent.​

    The loss of his angel would hurt the most though and he now understood why some faiths forbid relationships. A relationship with another mortal being would get in the way of a cleric's devotion to their god and cause him to stray from the true path of enlightenment. That is what was before him, a chance of finding true enlightenment by becoming closer to Torm. But was it worth sacrificing his way of life and his friends? Was it worth leaving Ariel?​

    “You are troubled,” the priestess next to him interrupted his thoughts and he looked up from applying the last bandage to the boy. He gave her a questioning look. “Something occupies your thoughts. You had to reapply the bandage a second time, Ser Grahorn.”​

    “Am I that obvious?” he asked and she nodded. He noticed Cason had fallen asleep or unconscious and was glad for it. It made tending to him easier. “Yes, I suppose I am a bit distracted.”​

    “About the battle?” she pressed. They both stood once he was done and gathered their healing supplies before moving on to the next person down the row.​

    “No.” He shook his head before taking the warrior's pulse. It was extremely weak and he knew the man was on the brink of death. “It is personal, but I suppose somewhat related to the battle.” He forced open the warrior's mouth and poured some of a potion down his throat to stabilize him before working on his injuries.​

    “Did you lose someone?”​

    “Thank the Gods no,” he shook his head. “In a way I lost myself, if you must know. I felt Torm out there, of the likes I have never felt before. It was like he was there, channeling through me. As if I had become his avatar for a brief moment. Do you understand?” He paused to look at her and await her answer. He doubted she understood what he meant or would be able to fully grasp the idea.​

    “A little,” was her reply and she handed him a clean, soaked rag to wash away the blood. “We all feel the calling of our Gods at one point else wise we would not enter this way of life.”​

    “True,” he said. “But what I felt was more than a simple calling. It was a thousand times more powerful and a part of me wants to experience it again.”​

    “Why don't you?”​

    “Because, child, it would change me.” His hands lowered to his lap and he looked upward to where his Arael'sha was perched. “I would also lose her.”​

    “But is not being with your god more important?” she asked of him, confused at the way he was acting for a cleric.​

    “It is, yes, but not at the cost of secluding myself to a monastery for the rest of my days trying to be with him again.” He gestured at the dying warrior before them. “This man and others like him would not benefit from me meditating day in and day out, trying to relive that moment I felt on the battlefield. That life of a contemplative priest is not for me and if I am truly meant to be with Torm on a higher level of existence, than Torm will present such a path that doesn't take me away from the one I am already on.”​

    He leaned forward and went back to his work but not before adding, “Besides Torm would not approve of such selfish faith. His clerics are to be selfless and to forgo everything to simply share in his power again violates ever tenant we swore to. I also would not hurt Ariel like that.”​

    “Then do not trouble yourself. Your faith in Torm and strength of heart is resolute,” she gestured around them as she continued. “What you do here brings you closer to him more than any spell or feat you do in battle ever could.”​

    He smiled softly and nodded lightly. “Indeed. It is why I heal to begin with. For every life that I save, I am content in the knowledge that I have helped and upheld Torm's teachings. This I could do for the rest of my life instead of adventuring, but I will settle for a bit of adventure to broaden my reach as a healer.”​

    “It must be exciting to travel.”​

    “Some days it is,” he chuckled a little. “Other days it is mostly dull and tedious, unless, of course, you travel with Evelios. Then you never know what the day may bring.”​

    “The Harper?”​

    “The what?” he wore a confused look. “Oh! Yes... I'm not sure if he really is a Harper. He did once claim to be the Earl of Saradush and had the Queen's Court convinced. Queen Zaranda was not amused when she found out. Turns out the real Earl was her second cousin. That was quite the mess to sort out which led us to exorcising a tomb plagued by the undead in Darromar as recompense or spend the rest of our days on pikes.”​

    “That's terrible!” the priestess exclaimed. “But since you're here, I take it you succeeded?”​

    “Or escaped,” he teased but nodded. “No, we prevailed over our task and left Tethyr a little wiser. Though being found out and threatened with a beheading didn't stop Evelios from trying again elsewhere whenever it benefited him or us.”​

    “You let him impersonate people?”​

    “How can I stop him? As long as no one is harmed by his shenanigans, I see no problem with it. It can be rather amusing sometimes and very helpful in a situation. Though heaven forbid him should it involve his taste in music.” He winced at the memory of some of Evelios' raunchier choices. “A person could get an aneurism from listening to it.”​

    “I've heard it. It doesn't sound that bad, loud but not that bad.” He gave her a strange look before shrugging his shoulders.​

    “Each to their own, I suppose. Though please, do not tell him that you like it. He'll wake the dead just to show off.”​

    They soon fell into a pleasant conversation about his adventures beyond the Vale and an easy routine of easing the pain of the dying and healing the others that would live. By the time exhaustion finally caught up to him, he had a better understanding of who he was and which path he should take. He would remain where he was, healing the sick and wounded and felling the enemies of Torm.​

    Looking up at the rafter where Ariel was, he knew he would stay for her. She was his angel and guiding light and no tempting power would ever get between him and his Arael'sha again. So when he found himself being pulled away from his work, half ready to keel over from exhaustion, he was grateful when she procured a cot for him to sleep on.​

    A tender kiss was the last thing he would remember that night and he would not awaken until well after sunrise, not even Alessandro's call over the ring could rouse him from his slumber and welcomed dreams. Though he did dream about the con man for some odd reason, involving one of his schemes and Corrath dressing up in a pink, frilly dress for it.​

    TAG: @Saintheart Ktala and others
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  19. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    Sa'adi Adim, the Company
    Brindol, Elsir Vale
    Eight Bells (Morning) Midsummer (First of Flamerule)
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    The wall lay ahead. Even close as half a mile and closing, she could still only see it when she squinted against the morning sun. Skadi’s horse, borrowed from a Lion of Brindol, seemed to know the way. She could hear the sorrel’s weariness in the spaces between the falls of its hooves, weariness leaching into her, bleeding into her. The fight and the faces and the names and the deaths rolled through her canter like a suffocating lullaby. Immerstal, Killiar, Menechem, Soranna, other men, many men, faces she’d trained, faces she’d blessed, faces she’d sparred, faces upbraided, faces who’d laughed, faces, all now covered in white rags.

    Her thighs and sacrum seemed to have red sticks embedded; pain prodded her sensible. She glanced back to reassure herself the hussaryn had not fallen behind. They had baffled their wings; rose and fell with all the relaxed ease of men born on horseback, their loosed hair streaming like black pennons. Not for the first time she wished for more of their stamina than their saddlecraft. At least three of the faces riding easily and impassively behind her had fought to hold the West Gate the previous night; to see their faces they might have just set out for the day. Like mounted wolves, the hussaryn remnant had driven the fleeing Hand west as the hobgoblin army’s coherence dissolved in the predawn hours.

    And Skadi had been with them, riding as healer and warrior, and now Skadi, if Torm, Tyr, Ilmater and all the other gods of the Realms had any notion of kindness or justice, was heading back to Brindol to get some sleep. Hoping her own heartbeat, audible in her future pillow and her present imagination, did not bring the names and faces back to her. Hoping the stretched ropes that connected her arms to her torso would uncoil her into oblivion.

    The wall overshadowed them and she could see the wide arc of the West Gate at last. The smell of the charnel house before the gate billowed up. As she slowed, hoarse, insulted ravens took to the safety of the skies to berate her. There were more men out from the city, slowly dragging bodies towards rising hills of dead. A ripple of censer smoke fluttered at her face and was gone; there was a Kelemvorite circumnavigating one of the bodypiles, thin ivory wrists visible as the priest raised the silver orb to draw more incense from its sphere. She suspected there’d be a great burning here soon enough. Rather a different burning than the Hand had imagined when this gate fell, she reminded herself. Perhaps the first mercy of the slaughter was that a light wind was blowing from the east. Perhaps she would not have to seek Tyr’s blessings at the East Gate to avoid the cleansing stink that was coming.

    “Who goes there?”
    A sharp challenge rapped out from the wall’s top. Lion of Brindol, she guessed, and probably a sergeant by the way the voice projected. Despite her surprise she was also pleased. Winning the battle had not dulled their wits, it seemed.
    “Sa’adi Adim, of Tyr,” she called, slowing her horse to a walk. It was unsettling to hear how the words rasped in her throat. “And hussaryn company.”
    Again, surprise: two levies broke from their posts at the gate and jogged out to meet her, reaching carefully for her horse’s reins. It whuffled at the smell of the smoke and corpses, but held: the Lions’ horses had been trained for blood.
    “Welcome, m’lady,” said one of the levies. He could not have been more than nineteen. His eyes had become as old as they looked overnight. “We’ve a fresh horse if you wish it. The lord Jarmaath begs your presence in Brindol Keep, as soon as you may come. ‘Tis urgent, he says.”
    “I see.” She began to raise her Ring, but decided against it. Either the rest of the Company had already been summoned, or they were catching up on the sleep that apparently was to be denied her for a time longer. In William’s case, that was essential; mages needed to sleep. So…

    The ride up Brindol Hill was quiet, even considering she went alone in a city emptied of its women and children. She supposed the latter at least now could return; she imagined it would be strange when they did. She had become used to stillness and undisturbed shadows lying down cross-streets like gaps in the world. As the sun crept higher it seemed the stillness was growing. Spreading. Silence, widening to embrace the spaces where fifteen hundred had lived one night ago. There were no people anywhere in her sight. No manned guardposts along her path. Too few men left alert at sunrise, or too few men outright.

    The men at the Keep were edgy. None of the six on the drawbridge were leaning on their spears, and their hands were at the right level to draw blades quickly. They paid her the courtesy of a short bow, but did not speak as she rode in and dismounted. The servant who met her was a spindly rustle of etiquette whose creased robes crackled as he led her up through the cool stone corridors, past the Great Hall, ascending the donjon itself and a narrow flight of steps to the Lord’s chambers. Servants fled and hurried around her but none stopped to speak with her.

    She stepped into the wide solar as the servant bowed himself away. Wide shafts of morning light were augmented by low-burning torches. There was no smoke, for which she was thankful; the solar would have been drafty in winter, but in the midsummer heat the early wind was a bringer of clarity and relief. Jarmaath, at least, seemed no worse; Tredora Goldenbrow sat on a stool next to him, eyes haggard, but the lord of Brindol had regained some colour even if he was still bedridden. It was his eyes that took her aback. They were not the eyes of a man who had just saved his people from slaughter, or held a wall. And she could see fair imitations of that look in those around him: the Company. Most of them. Ariel’s silver wingspan was the most notable absence, but – or perhaps because of that -- neither was Zanaek present. Corrath and Mazarun were grim. She was a step or two from the nearest window, he near her; at no other moment had she ever been more forced to picture them as shadow and moonlight, two sides of the same coin. Ragnar towered into the roof’s shadows, which cast his frowning face into the features of a displeased god. Evelios had a singularly unsettling look of sanity about him. William looked thoughtful but inward. She had a sudden, fleeting intuition, turning her stomach, that he was not liking what he saw there. And the last member—

    --the last member? Even as her mind recalculated, it was hit by realisation: the man sitting with head bowed on a stool to Jarmaath’s left was someone she knew. Had been someone she knew: he raised his bearded face, and the look under the tanned complexion said he was not the man she knew. And even more disturbingly, even for all the apparent randomness of their positions, he somehow seemed to sit at the centre of all the others; at the centre of a wheel around whom they were all bound. Including her.
    Then drew herself straight, touched her forehead in respect, bowing from the waist. “My lord Jarmaath. Forgive me.”
    Jarmaath waved it away. “Please. Come in.”
    The shock was still on her. “What is – Alessandro, how did you come here? I had thought you—”
    “He came in with Warklegnaw and Jorr Natherson,” said Corrath. Her voice was flat. Deadly calm. “Last night, while you were out with the hussaryn. They were north of the city, circling around the battle.”
    “They got away from Drellin’s Ferry through the Witchwood,” said Corrath.
    “What, all the way across the Vale? But Alessandro wasn’t--”
    “Warklegnaw found him a couple of miles from the eastern end of the Witchwood. They’ve been avoiding hobgoblins for days, trying to get here. Made it to the Elsir River last night, after the Hand broke.”
    “How did they find him?”
    “Oh, he found us. His Ring of Communication is still attuned to ours. Once we were out looking for him it brought us right to him.”
    “Why did he not go to the—” And she stopped herself, realising, but Corrath finished the thought.
    “Warklegnaw. In the dark they didn’t think the guards would know him any different from the Red Hand, so instead Alessandro called us when they got to within a mile or so of--”
    “You waste time,” said Mazarun, turning into the light, shadow falling from him, face stern. The drow looked over at the young man sitting on the chair. That movement was frightening because it brought with it an answering series of movements: Ragnar unfolded and folded his arms again; Jarmaath shifted in his bed; William turning to look at Skadi directly for the first time. And again she had that mad idea that their movements were, in truth, consequent and not coincidental with the movement of the young man on the chair.

    Alessandro Itrayem raised his head to look at her. And yet he still would not speak. And yet nobody else would speak, either, as if each waited for the other to open their mouths first.
    “What is it?” she asked, into the silence.
    His lips moved. Silently, at first. Then a thin whisper came out of his throat to give the movement of his lips more than speech’s artifice. A voice that could not – surely, could not -- have been that of a man who had projected performances to the rear of the noisiest tavern houses in Amn.

    This is what that voice said.

    You have been deceived.

    The battle you fought was never about taking this city.

    It was about the blood spilled in the battle. Its purpose was the lives lost in the battle, whether those lives were taken in defence of the city, or in earnest of it.

    Not all the gods give their blessings without price.
    Some demand a tribute. Some: great sacrifice.
    And some blessings are so dear they require a sacrifice greater than the life of one mortal.
    Some blessings require a holocaust.
    Thousands died on Brindol’s wall. As divisions of screaming hobgoblins surged up the ladders and died on silver blades and spears, their blood rained as currency into a great coffer, a sacrifice for a great Work. The work of the one Wyrmlord you have not seen: the High Wyrmlord, Azarr Kul, Champion of the People of the Dragon, the leader of the Red Hand. He whose devotion to Tiamat was so perfect, so pure, that he sent his entire people forth to war without care whether they lived or died, for whether they did or not they advanced his true cause:

    The opening of a permanent gate to Infernus, the Realm of the Fivefold Flame: the home plane and seat of She Who Breathes, the Dragonqueen. The Goddess of Chromatic Dragons. Tiamat.

    Through summer’s waxing you disputed the desires of the Red Hand, slaying dragons, bringing hope; meanwhile, Azarr Kul has weaved dweomers, drawing strength from the Hand’s progress across the Vale, tearing ever-so-slowly and surely at the Weave and the walls between planes. Now, with the culmination of the battle, the spell too approaches its climax. And – perhaps only days from now, perhaps only hours from now, who can know – when the spell is ended, the gate will open, and Azarr Kul will march at the head of a new army. The true Red Hand of Doom. An army whose ranks will not be filled by hobgoblins or bugbears, but filled by a multitude of Tiamat’s own servants: demons and spawn from the infernal realms, spirits of dragons long sent screaming from the realms.

    Worse still, Azarr Kul is unique in all his people’s long history. It makes him dangerous beyond all measure. For he dares with this ritual, with this gate, that which no great mage or priest of Faerun ever has dared: to open a gate potent enough to withstand the passage of a god into the mortal realms.
    Tiamat herself comes.
    Her passage alone is the end of all things in your world as you know it. She may be opposed by the hosts of the Triad, or the powers of Arvandor, or all the celestial realms as one. Or the pantheon may stand by and turn its face from the cries of their people. Faerun burns at the end of either twisted path through Time’s wood: whether in fires blasted by hell-bred dragons, or in the firmament riven as heaven makes earth its battlefield. No Time of Troubles will it be; no pilgrimage of sickly, weak avatars learning to suffer on the journey back to their godly homes; this will be the War of the End.

    There is a place, high in the Wyrmsmoke Mountains, somewhere north and west of the crumbled and scorched ruin of Vraath Keep, wreathed in the suffocation of the Five Smoking Peaks. A cave; a cavern; a temple; a lair. A fane to She Who Breathes, carved long ago when dragons still ruled the mountains that bear their name; long forgotten, except to Azarr Kul and his most mad and fervent followers. A fane carved from the living rock of the mountain, into a mountainside.

    It was to this place that Alessandro and the one called Mal Windrider came after long quest and long questioning, seeking – and finding, to their cost -- intelligence of the Red Hand. It was here that Alessandro learned too much, learned that which he has now told, learned and saw that which now will not leave his eyes or his dreams. It was here Mal Windrider sacrificed his life to allow Alessandro to escape. And Alessandro has fled, across forest, battlefield, and nightmare, to find his way here.

    For Alessandro knows: with the sand now left in the glass, with the powers left in the Vale, there is only one band able -- to try -- to turn Time’s remorseless procession from the bonfire upon which it would cast Faerun’s corpse. For this Mal Windrider gave his life. For this, and this alone, Alessandro cradles the pieces of his fragmenting mind.
    For the Realms.
    For life.
    For the Company.

    TAG: All
  20. Livi-Wan

    Livi-Wan Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 29, 2002
    Skadi drew back at Alessandro's pronouncement as if physically pushed. The words were powerful enough. All that battle- all that blood. For nothing? Or worse than nothing- for the end of all that they had fought for? A sick feeling churned in the bottom of her stomach, and though Skadi was unable to feel fear, it was close enough to what she remembered from her pirate days (and what was this but the spiteful crash of a broken mast, the sudden, upending terror of a ship in a storm) to unsettle her.

    That moment when the storm stills. The charge in the air. And she had thought them saved!

    This is simply the eye.

    "Tyr-" Her hand went to her holy symbol on instinct, caressed the hammer that hung there. Skadi's own path was clear as it had ever been, she knew that- this sick feeling was not for herself. It was for the people of the Vale. For the memory of Immerstal, Killiar, Menechem, Soranna, and all other who had fallen in the nights before, stretching back even to that first house so long ago, the first woman who had sobbed in her arms.

    "You know the way?"

    A useless question, thrown out to slow the tracks of her thoughts, the too-hasty trip of her tongue. Alessandro nodded, as she knew he would.

    "Then I am going."
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  21. cassie5squared

    cassie5squared Jedi Knight star 2

    Dec 8, 2010
    IC: William Marshall and Maeghen

    The wizard turned away from the others, closing his eyes; he trembled as though silent sobs wracked his body, though his eyes remained dry. This shock had come too swift and hard for such anguish. All the pain, the suffering, the death - they had played into this Azarr Kul's hands. And now the Weave was being torn apart to bring eternal nightmare to the Realms.

    I am a wizard of Blackstaff Tower! It is my duty to stop these things!

    {Then stop them.}

    William looked up, startled - was that really his overprotective, gentle familiar? She met his gaze steadily with her own fierce golden eyes, and an understanding passed between them that needed no words.

    "We go with you, Sa'adi," he said, turning back to the group with a calm demeanour, as though he was offering to accompany her on a stroll. "At least Maeghen and myself. I will not presume to speak for the others - but I place my trust in all of you. We have fought and overcome many terrors together since I joined you. We have helped lead the charge to break an army and save a city. And I think we have all found ourselves go from strength to strength. I believe somebody - perhaps several somebodies - set us on this course, whether we knew it or not, or even whether we wished it." He gave Mazarun in particular a look of sympathy; he knew the drow wanted to go home, but this news... He only hoped the warrior would understand.

    "With all our talents and skills combined, I do believe we can overcome this final threat to the Vale." His eyes hardened as he glanced out to the west, to where Azarr Kul lurked still in his mountains. "You are the leader of this Company, Sa'adi, and have not yet led us astray in our purpose. I will follow you."

    TAG: All
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  22. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    Ariel Elandinai

    The Keepwood, Elsir Vale
    Early morning, Midsummer (First of Flamerule)
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    Wind from the west caressed leaves on the wanderwoods. Sellyria Starsinger raised her head. There had been a time, not so long ago, when the air sliding through branches from the sun's destination would have filled her with disquiet, would have aged her a summer. But no wind had blown last night, and she could sense a breeze lifting in the east, from over the crest of Brindol's hill, falling downhill like a stream. This wind came neither from elesir'a channariya nor from the broken land and the desolation where Urikel Zarl had once been. It was a wind generated by one that commanded the air, and not of the giant owls who had fought with such courage last night. Knowing all these things, the Speaker of the Tiri Kitor stood from her seat in the bivouac at the centre of her people's encampment, and moved unerringly out, past the tabernacle to the Seldarine which stood quiescent and firm, past the Tiri Kitor guardsmen dotting the wood, in trance, and out, towards the edge of the wood.

    No pain in her elbows or knees. That experience had been a long, long season returning. Even if it was midsummer, a time of dryness and endurance of full sun, she could feel her people's lifeforce growing. Could see it growing, in so many small ways that even the sharpest observers among her people would miss, like seedlings bending back to the sun after a burst of great rain. To her amazement, all the old stories her ancient, wizened masters had taught her back in the Westdeep so many ages gone were coming true. A Speaker was more than the voice of her people; she was also their spirit. And only now, in the aftermath of the storm and the aftermath of Urikel Zarl's final passage, as she felt the Wood's sinews stretch not only to endurance but to new growth, did she realise that the masters had not played with their words. That she, in a real way, stood for her people. Her shame was gone; expunged. She could sense Kasovilar's heart calling to her from Arvandor, calling her not to justice but to joy. Her husband had gone into the south. Now she stood with him again; not in pursuit of his mission of vengeance, but in defence of elesir'a channariya, and that which was her god - Corellon, and Silvanus, and all the powers of the wood - was pleased.

    So she walked forth to the wood's edge, and stood looking to the source of the wind from the west as the aehilasa faeriya glided through the morning air to land beside her. Truthfully, she was hoping just as much to see the young illythiiri, Mazarun; Ariel Elandinai had brought the wisdom of the avariel to stand with the Tiri Kitor, but it had been Mazarun who had done orthomis chaanaa, the bearing of the dead home.

    Sellyria smiled as the avariel landed. Reached out to embrace her with old arms delicate as spiderweb, to kiss her cheek, as the elves in greatest joy did.

    TAG: Ktala
  23. Ramza

    Ramza Administrator Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP

    Jul 13, 2008
    Evelios D'Rtan, Poe the Raven, and Guest
    One More Red Nightmare

    Unsettling news from an unsettled mind. In particular, an unsettled mind that was not his own. There were some queer things one learned to take comfort in with a mind as chaotic as the bard's, not the least of which was the healthy assumption that you were probably the most perturbed mental state in the room.

    Now, he wasn't too sure. This news was… poor. Worse than poor. Downright depressing. Poe glanced at Evelios from his perch on the bard's chair.

    It was the lack of reaction that was truly unsettling. The man sat, hands folded, staring at a crack in the wall directly opposite him. His eyes were focused. Too focused. The bird shivered.

    The bard's thoughts were elsewhere. There had been… a dream last night. He kept returning to it now.

    "Hello," came a voice from behind the self-styled entertainer. Evelios sat up on the grassy hill he had been laying on. He recognized that voice. He turned to regard its owners.

    Spectacles, bad facial hair, desperately in need of a haircut, horrendous taste in clothing. He knew the man.

    He'd thrown a bottle of fortified wine at him once.

    "So, uh, how're things?" Ramza asked.

    "Just fine until you showed up. Do you ever leave me alone?"

    "Not really possible. I write you, you know. You're fictional."

    "And yet I only ever seem to see you in dreams. That's a knock against your verisimilitude in my book."

    "Fair enough, I guess. I'm not in a position where I do a lot of judging these days."

    Ramza sat down on the hill beside the bard. He held out a bottle. "Beer?"

    "I prefer the grape," Evelios replied, pulling out a glass of wine.

    … Dream logic had its benefits.

    "Suit yourself," the author replied, taking a drink. "Anyway, I'm here to talk to you about what's coming up."

    "We saved Brindol. You're a bit late."

    "No, no, I mean… the other thing that's coming up. The, uh… the end."

    Evelios cocked an eyebrow. "The… end… ?"

    "You know, like in a book. The last chapter. The finale. The climax. Act Five. It's all beginning to draw towards… well, something. I doubt we can keep these shenanigans up much longer."

    "Good," the bard replied, gruffly. "I don't think I could take much more of your interruptions. It'll just be me, me, myself, some more mes, Poe, my friends, and Lia, and we'll all be perfectly happy without you."

    "Ouch," Ramza winced. "Point taken. Just… y'know, don't blame me if everything goes to hell before it's all over. There's no going back after the finale. You're a bard, you know that."

    "My life," Evelios shot back, "is not a prose saga."

    Ramza chuckled. "I suppose it isn't. Just, uh, don't be too shocked when you get bad news tomorrow. You'll probably know what to do." He stood up, and patted the bard on the back. "You know, I've always thought of you as a son, after a bizarre fashion."

    "My father was Leviat D'Rtan. My biological father was some Harper I never met. You… are neither. Get out. Stay out."

    No command was truly necessary; Ramza was already walking away. "I'll see you again just before this is all over," he added, before vanishing into the mists.

    Evelios had awoken following that. And now…

    Don't be too shocked when you get bad news tomorrow. You'll probably know what to do.

    He supposed that son of a bitch had managed to get that much right, at least.

    "Count Poe and myself in as well," he finally spoke, after William had finished. "I wouldn't be much of my father's son if I didn't see this through to the end. I swore I would protect these people, and I shall."

    "As for Poe, well, he has to go where I go."

    "Gee, thanks," Poe added.

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  24. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    Corrath Marktos

    You don't have to do this. It had come like a dash of water to the face. Barsillus's voice had been quiet before, had spoken to her in whispers before, but he'd never spoken to her in that tone before. There had been a weariness there, mixed with fear, mixed with something like expectation. It had been three months after she had first entered the garottella, the sparring circle; a year in which she had learned to snap her heels to pull her body around a half-second faster than her opponent would, in which she had learned to loosen the wrist in the final half-second before her blade struck home (a hard grip could shift the rapier's point a half-inch up or down, sending the killing strike awry), in which she had learned that style didn't matter, that technique didn't matter, that all that mattered was how fast you could make a man's blood spill onto the floor. One night, without any real ceremony, he'd tossed a rapier to her, and they'd left the training circle. Barsillus had never taken her back to that cool, shadowed cave; and in truth she hadn't thought about it. Occasionally, while she'd been there, she had thought about the heavy, grinding ache that had been in her cheek when she'd first gone to Barsillus with her request; but she wasn't thinking of that at all now.

    And they had gone into the streets of Silverymoon.

    He had taken her along a punishing route, jumping from building to building with limbs at full extension; twice she'd had to flex the muscles of her fingers to give herself enough purchase on wallcracks he expected her to follow him through. And finally, after half an hour of that nonsense, he'd stopped, atop a roof, him not even out of breath, her determined to demonstrate the same even if her lungs were screaming red. There's two guards in the courtyard below, he had murmured to her, leaning close to her; his hood's material whispered of the oregano-and-mint potpourri he used to keep his clothes bearable at close range if not clean. And there's no guards between them and the package that's in the room they're guarding. Unfortunately, they're standing right outside the door; and I can't handle two of them by myself from an inversion entry.

    She got it, of course, and began silently gathering up the thin but spidersilk-strong rope they'd use to drop into the square. And then he had said it.

    She had looked at him, but there had been nothing of his tone in his face. Just his dark eyes regarding her steadily. Blinkless (did he have blue eyes? Green eyes? Corrath couldn't remember. It bothered her that she couldn't remember).

    And she had looked back at those dark eyes, and she remembered her father's face.

    She had fully let out the line ten seconds later, and they had gone.

    She remembered Barsillus stepping over a body, remembered the bright, glittery thing he had taken from the storeroom beyond, remembered the price they'd gotten -- 5,632 gold, and 25 silver pieces -- but nothing else.

    And here was that statement again, echoing back at her. True enough, too. William, Zanaek and Skadi could tear reality apart. Ragnar, even without William's magic to augment him, was in the business of epitaphs, and Ariel was starting to behave like the avenging angel she resembled. Evelios was mad, and talented, and Mazarun had his reputation as well as the stamp of strangeness that he'd picked up from the Tiri Kitor growing on him like a rash. What exactly was she going to do among this lot? Rational sense said to get a horse and start riding. Hard. For the east, preferably Kara-Tur if not the bottom of the nearest ocean if available.

    But she looked at Alessandro's eyes, then, saw the way they flickered from point to point in the room, the way they were still back in whatever-the-hellhole-was that he'd crawled out of to get back here. And she looked at all of them again, and she thought of the people come and gone: Celbrandir Silverwind, falling like a great oak severed at its base; Najos Halcyon, falling, endlessly falling, into Skull Gorge; Durin Shieldbreaker, body barely recognisable; Demetrius Kemali, dead from more wounds than Radok Keghammer had arrows in him, and more in Demetrius's front than his back; thought of Mal Windrider, dying in ...

    And she sighed. "Well ... guess without me you're only going to get yourselves killed."

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  25. Ktala

    Ktala Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 7, 2002
    Ariel Elandinai - Early Morning
    The Keepwood, Elsir Vale

    Ariel drifted on the cool air, moving down the hill, till she came once more close to the woods that she So she walked forth to the wood's edge, and gently landed. The flight had been short, but welcomed. She was back to where the Tiri Kitor had taken refuge. Where Ariel had been drawn to earlier. Ariel looked out, and saw someone standing just outside the edge of the woods. With a smile, Ariel landed gently next to the woman standing there.

    Sellyria smiled as the Ariel landed. Ariel smiled, as Sellyria reached out to embrace her, kissing her cheek as she did. Ariel returned the gesture and stepped back. "It brightens my heart to see you once again." Ariel spoke with a smile, as she gave the speaker a slight nod. She looked back, towards the woods in front of them. "How have your people fared?" she asked her, as she folded her wings gently behind her back. Ariel felt so many emotions since the battle, but for reasons so deep, she was not even sure herself, as to why she felt it necessary to ask the question. But being with the Tiri Kitor seemed to have stirred emotions long buried. She was not sure if it was simple homesickness, or the need to be among others of her ilk, Ariel simply felt that she needed to know.

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  26. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    Ariel Elandinai

    The Keepwood, Elsir Vale
    Early morning, Midsummer (First of Flamerule)
    Year of Scattered Lanterns (1368 DR)

    Sellyria breathed out, closing her eyes for a moment. "We live. The axe was laid to our bole. Two hundred and fifty of my people came here. Seven score will return to the Blackfens. The Red Hand targeted us where they saw us on the wall and in the sky. The ranks of our wingleaders are riven -- Killiar, Taliessar; and so many of their seconds, gone to the Blessed Realm. It is a grievous loss. But it is a price paid well, and in full knowledge, and we will grieve, in time, but we will not grieve in bitterness." Sellyria looked at Ariel; any regret she had was melting away, replaced by a penetrating look and keen interest to sharpen it. "And you, aehilasa faeriya? What brings Aerdrie's Arrow here, for you to come gliding to a wood rather than an eyrie?"

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