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Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 09-29-01 13:27 ET (US)         
THE MIST OF TIME
An Adventure in Post-Roman Brittania


WRITTEN BY:
CIVIS ROMANUS, DUAN_XUAN, GILL BRITANNICA, JAYHAWK AND ZIGZAC.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS:
ARITHMIAL, CAESAR ALAN, CIAN MCGUIRE, CYBER PALADIN, DARTHBANE, JAGUAR AND THE PHOENIX



PERSONAL CHARACTERS (Author):

ANGUS: Tall, ruddy-haired, unshaven northern Scot. Carries a double-bit (twin-bladed) battle axe.(DarthBane)
ARITHMIAL: Tall, steely grey eyed stranger with short cropped hair. Rides Brandis, a white stallion. (Arithmial)
AURELIUS: Paladin who wears unusual armor. Has dark brown eyes; long, unbound, fine black hair. Elegant face and behaviour. (Cyber Paladin)
AURIGA: AKA-The Phoenix. Ancient but appears 20ish. Slender, slightly taller than avg. Black hair. Wears a black cloak. (The Phoenix)
BEVAN: Young Celt doing Ysbrand's bidding. Real name is Cedric. Actually a Brit not a Celt. (ZigZac)
CIAN OHEAGHRA: 28-year-old male of the OhEaghra Clan. Black hair, bright blue eyes. Carries a falchion. (Cian McGuire)
FEIMAR: Courageous boy (12 years). Orphan. Ebony brown eyes. Dark complexioned. Agile.(Duan Xuan)
JAYHAWK: Tall immortal with green eyes; disguised as a lute-playing wandering minstrel. Unseen ebony wings. (Jayhawk)
KYRIN: 20ish woman with very pale skin and red hair always worn down, hiding her ears. Short. Wears a glimmering green cloak with many pouches. Carries a quarterstaff and a sling. Launches unerring missles. (Jaguar)
LESTRA: 20 year old daughter of Angles Chief. Auburn hair, reddish highlights, grey eyes; intelligent, rebellious, resourceful, comely. (Gill Brittanica)
LIAM: 23 yr old Paladin of Glynden. Tall, broad-shoulders, brown hair, green eyes. Married w/children. Favored weapon is a dbl bladed long sword. (ZigZac)
NYLA: Sister of Lestra. 18 years old. Longish,dark red hair. blue/green/grey eyes. Milkwhite complexion. Exceedingly jealous of older sister. Temptress, prettier than Lestra; trained by Budra in mysticism and related spells. (Civis Romanus)
RUADAN: Of Leinster; 24 yr old priest who wears the Black Robes of Iona. Frail, bookish. Cousin of Cian OhEaghra. (Cian McGuire)
YSBRAND: Saxon warlock; broad shouldered, tall; has shoulder length brown hair; blue/grey eyes. Charismatic. Travels with menagerie. Carries a twisted wood staff and enchanted weapons. (ZigZac)

NON-PERSONAL CHARACTERS (Author):

BUDRA: Old woman who lives in hut in the forest that borders the Angles village. Secret teacher of mysticism and spells. (Civis Romanus)
GLYNDEN: The name of the village protected by "The Mist". (Civis Romanus)
HORSA: Saxon Chief w/Hengist (Jayhawk)
HENGIST: Saxon Chief w/ Horsa (Jayhawk)
GLYNT: Saxon dwarf who travels with Ysbrand; serves Ysbrand and cares for menagerie. Emissary for warlock. (Civis Romanus)
KLAX: Chief of Angles tribe. Grey'd elder of tribe. Beleagered father of Lestra and Nyla. (Civis Romanus)
TALISIEN: Celtic Elder and Mystic. Protector of the Cauldron. Some say he once was called Merlin. (Jayhawk)

LINKS TO RELATED THREADS:

DISCUSSION THREAD and CHARACTER DETAIL THREAD

ALL MEMBERS ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE - PLEASE STATE YOUR INTEREST IN THE DISCUSSION THREAD.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-21-2002 @ 09:13 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-20-02 13:18 ET (US)     101 / 109       
Jayhawk sat by the fire in the cottage warming his hands. He didn't need the services of the flames as he could muster on his own whatever comfort he desired, be it cooling or heating. Nonetheless, it was one of those human habits he acquired during his many travels that brought him to a crackling fire on a cold morning for warmth. However, even this small comfort could not remove the melancholy expression on his face. He was joined by Talisien, sometimes called Merlin, who also sought the warmth of the flames.

Merlin studied his longtime friend's expression. "You seem very troubled these last two days, ever since the Paladin brought us to this village. What troubles you, my friend?"

"If I could speak of these things, I would," replied Jayhawk. "But I cannot. These things I think will be revealed to you, to Kyrin and to Arithmial when the time is right; and by someone other than me."

"I would rather hear them from you," said Talisien, mild protestation embedded in his voice.

"I understand, Talisien; but it will be as I have said." The melancholy expression returned to Jayhawk's face and Talisien understood immediately that the subject was closed to further talk. He rose to leave just as Kyrin, her red hair as always carefully placed to cover her ears, entered the room from her sleeping chamber. Arithmial entered as well from his. "Something disturbed me. I felt compelled to rise, though the sun is barely above the horizon."

Jayhawk looked over his shoulder, neither smiling nor frowning. "You are compelled, Arithmial, because today is the day they shall arrive; and you are beckoned to be part of what occurs."

"What will occur, Jayhawk? What is going to happen?" asked Kyrin. Jayhawk looked at Talisien. It was Talisien who answered.

"The reasons we came here will be addressed by the Master of this land. We will be once again in the presence of the Mist." All three looked at Jayhawk for confirmation. The tall minstrel merely returned his attention to the fire in the galley. For the three of them, that was confirmation enough.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-21-02 19:31 ET (US)     102 / 109       
Ysbrand and the others were guided to the cottage in which they now rested waiting for the food promised to them for their supper. It was pointless to ask these villagers questions. While they were friendly enough, every question asked of the villagers was deflected or courteously answered with words that had the same effect. Even as they gave pointless answers, the villagers smiled and laughed as if each question was pleasant in nature and not the probing inquiries intended.

Now, as Lestra and Bevan rested alone in their individual sleeping chambers, the restless Nyla finally gave up on sleep and quietly tip-toed to the door of her chamber, opened the door just a crack and looked to see who was in the center of the cottage by the galley. It was Ysbrand and he was alone, apparently lost in thought. Nyla, very much the opportunist, thought the moment right and so she acted.

She looked at how she was clothed and found herself to be presentable, even though somewhat drab. She pinched her cheeks to bring some color to them and stepped into the room making distinct but unalarming noises with the hammered iron door lock. It worked, Ysbrand immediately looked up, his expression changing upon seeing who it was.

"Cannot sleep, Nyla?" observed Ysbrand.

"No, and you?" said Nyla, here voice low so as not to awaken or permit others to hear what she said.

"No." Ysbrand turned his eyes away from Nyla to stare into the flames of the fire in the galley. Nyla thought she saw a tinge of melancholy in his piercing eyes, something she had never noticed before. She took advantage of the lull in conversation to sit in a chair a few paces from Ysbrand. There was an empty chair near Ysbrand, but Nyla did not feel bold enough to sit that close.

"I have something to ask you, Sorceror." Nyla made her way to her objective as quickly as she dared.

"Ysbrand," he answered. "My name is Ysbrand, not Sorceror. I am not a Sorceror."

"But that is not what..." objected Nyla before she was interrupted by Ysbrand.

"These things that have happened prove that I am not a Sorceror. The sorceror is the one who made appear and disappear armies and kings; who made me a boy and then join me with my long dead mother, father... and my sister. That one is the sorceror, whoever it is. Not me."

"You must have loved your family very much. You speak differently about them than any others."

"I did." Ysbrand fell silent again. Nyla studied his face intently, every curve and every crease. She noted the position of lips as he spoke, the combination of words that accompanied a frown. The brief smile that followed his last admission.

"When I spoke to my 'father' in the cottage, he never seemed kinder to me," said Nyla. "He said many gentle things to me unlike anytime I can remember. I found his affection for me in everything he said and did during that one all too short day and night. I just couldn't be cross with him as I have been so many times in the past. In fact, I found I loved him despite everything that has happened. I felt so... so guilty."

"My sister was never cross with me," said Ysbrand. "She was the one who would comfort me when my father gave me a chiding or a punishment for something I did or didn't do. No matter how much I deserved it, I always hurt from his words, that is, until my sister found a way to make them seem less harsh. She was younger than me, but in so many ways I believe her to have been the wiser between us."

"What happened to your family, Ysbrand?" said Nyla, curiousity overpowering caution with this man.

"Murdered by a conquering tribe from the Northeast somewhere. I vowed I would be the conqueror from that day forward so as never to have happen again what I saw happen to them. My sister was murdered in front of my eyes even as I hid in the place she found for me. Fearing discovery she ran out into the open to draw them away from where I was hidden. I cried all the day long with sorrow and shame..." Ysbrand's voice trailed off to nothing but a whisper. Nyla felt something role down her cheek. A tear? She touched it and felt its wetness. Yes, a tear.

Nyla again noted the empty chair near Ysbrand. She arose from her own chair and sat next to him. Ysbrand said nothing, seemingly not noticing. Nyla lowered her eyes and gently said, "The sorceror, whoever it is, seems to have made us speak to each other under unexpected guises-my father being gentle with me as you were being with your sister. I saw my father in the cottage, but I was really seeing you.

Ysbrand looked at her once again, focussing his piercing eyes on the green of her's. "And I saw my sister in you, it seems."

"So it seems," Nyla echoed. Then, untypically of the young red-haired maiden who never acted without purpose, Nyla unconsciously placed her left hand in the open right hand of Ysbrand. She gently closed her hand around his. Ysbrand smiled and never flinched. Her hand remained in his as both stared, lost in personal thought, into the crackling flames of the galley.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-21-2002 @ 07:41 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-22-02 16:15 ET (US)     103 / 109       
The morning's fire had died down and Lestra idly was stirring coals with a piece of hammered iron rod. She withdrew its heated point and watched the red of the rod's tip gradually change from heat-radiating red into the black coloring of cold blacksmith's metal. The door to Bevan's chamber opened and the man entered the central room. Lestra hurriedly put the iron rod upright into its holder even as she smiled and spoke a greeting to him.

"A good morning to you as well, Lestra," replied Bevan. "And where is Ysbrand and Nyla?"

"Out walking I surmise, or so they said when I entered the room and startled them from some kind of mutual reverie by the fireplace here."

"Hmmm, mutual reverie. You don't suppose..." speculated Bevan.

"I don't suppose anything when it comes to my sister," interrupted Lestra. "No one knows her better than I and even I know better than to suppose anything. Whatever she's up to will be revealed in her own good time."

"Yes, but is it possible?" persisted Bevan. "Could she be in love with the Sorceror?" Bevan snorted in derision. "How could that ever be? They are two very different people."

"And what makes you so sure Bevan of Britain that it can't possibly..." The look on Bevan's face made Lestra pause and then gasp. She was not supposed to say anything about that, and now she had blurted it out unthinkingly. "I'm so sorry, Bevan. I... I..."

In a few quick steps Bevan was at Lestra's side holding her in his arms. He said something Lestra found comforting. "If I were a thinking man, Lestra, I would know the answer; especially if it were in front of my very eyes. Like it is now..." Then Bevan pulled her closer to him and he placed his lips on hers in a gentle kiss that said more to Lestra than any of his words thus far.

A flush rose from her very toes and raced pell mell for her breast, throat and cheeks. My the room is warm, she thought, from a fire that is only embers. How strange... How remarkable... How nice.

"Care to take a walk with a Celt who isn't?" asked Bevan.

A breathless, disembodied voice that sounded remarkably like her own gave Lestra's bold answer for her, "Only if it ends the same way it began."

"It shall be a pleasure," replied Bevan and he held his open hand out to her as an invitation.

____________________________________________________________

Cian, Ruadan and Feimar found the morning to be the perfect opportunity to get the lay of the land, so to speak. All three surveyed the village of Glynden to learn all that they could before something happened to intervene. As they approached the far edge of the village, from out of nowhere, a mounted man wearing exotic armor in black appeared, sword drawn. His horse was covered in colorful pieces of cloth tied here and there to its saddle. Cian remembered the cloth as being something called silk. He had never seen its like before.

"Halt! The Master gives you free use of the village, but forbids you to leave its proximity."

"Why not?"

"It is the Master's choice. I do not ask these questions. I do what the Master requests."

Startling beyond anything he had ever heard before from his cousin, Ruadan heard Cian say, "I shall respect the Master's wishes. We did not intend to trespass or break a rule."

"The Master understands this and thanks you. Go in peace back into the village. The time in coming soon when the Master shall appear before you."

Cian bowed and led the others back into the village to observe the villagers at work with their individual skills and resulting craft. Ruadan couldn't resist. "How unlike you, cousin, to not take the Paladin's warning as a challenge and pursue a conflict with him."

"How unlike what I was before is more correct, Ruadan. There is much more to be learned here and I want nothing to interfere with that. I feel something here."

"What is it you feel, Cian."

"Purpose, Ruadan. I feel there is purpose here."

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-23-02 15:47 ET (US)     104 / 109       
Glynden's cottages lay scattered informally on elevated, yet generally flat earth on the westside of the island. A low ridge of shallow hills separated the village from the sea. Along the foot of the seabordering hillsides a narrow, water-filled creek carried off the rainwater that fell at odd intervals throughout the year regardless of season. The visitors thought it odd that the village had never been sighted or mentioned by seamen, but then again, there was a lot that was odd about Glynden and about this island in particular.

Two days passed without event until all of the visitors were informed that they were to join the village in welcoming the master that evening following a community supper. Ruadan couldn't wait. What little he had learned about the master had driven his curiousity to the maximum. He was a man of the cloth, but this was something inexplicable it seemed beyond anything he had been taught thus far.

The sun found its way to the horizon and the grey of evening heralded the beginning of supper and the pending arrival of the master. The villagers were there, some the visitors knew, many they did not. Here and there mingled the Paladins. They seemed to have no particular duties in mind except to be present. Aurelius seemed the friendliest among the Paladins, but Ysbrand and Cian both suspected it was for a purpose.

Roasted fowl, garden greens, potatoes and ale made up supper. It was an unexpectedly hearty meal for a supper. Nonetheless, as one young lady villager said to Cian with a wink, it was needed by all when the master visited. The master's visits demanded the vigor that good food provided... and was Cian feeling particularly vigorous now since he had finished his supper already? Cian nearly choked on the swig of ale he took when she said this to him, her innocent expression conveying nothing while Cian's mind ran on and on. Then she giggled and went on upon her errand of food serving she had interrupted to say these things to Cian.

Though the village was loosely organized, nonetheless there was a specific area that seemed to be the town center. Their repast had been taken in one part of the center. Unlit torches in two rows occupied another part of the center. The rows of torches seemed to run in parallel lines from the direction of the ocean beyond the low hills to the bonfire burning in the middle of the towncenter. As the visitors observed these things, a darkened sky began to supplant the grey of dusk. The feasting continued... Then, as if an unknown signal was sent, all feasting stopped and the villagers began to make their way to the bonfire in the towncenter and the torches were lit one by one.

Aurelius appeared among the visitors and invited them to follow the villagers. "The time has come," he said. "The master shall be among us soon."

The villagers knew the master by the many visits of the past; but the visitors took no particular notice of the increasing fuzziness of their surroundings, and only minimally noticed the cooling, moistness of the air. It started in no particular place, but seemed to be increasingly there... until it was everywhere and unavoidably visible.

The bonfire diminished as the misty fog thickened even more. The villagers fell silent in anticipation. Then what seemed to be thunder emanated from somewhere nearby. No, not thunder... A deeply resonant voice that seemed to come from everywhere at once and yet nowhere in particular.

"Visitors... Each of you is found worthy to enter the village by passing the tests I set for you. All of you are welcomed to the Village of Glynden. Speak your minds, your purpose or your question."

Ysbrand spoke first. "Who are you?"

"I am the master... some call me The Mist of Time. It is no matter what I am called... I am that I am." As the reverberating voice fell silent, Ruadan's eyes opened wide. He knew these words. How can they be spoken thus, in this place, in this time?!

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-23-02 16:25 ET (US)     105 / 109       
Ysbrand caught little of the meaning of the last words spoken by The Mist. He persisted with his own words instead. "I... We are here to receive and carry the Cauldron from this island." Talisien bristled at these words. That was not what he was there to do. A calming hand placed on his shoulder by Jayhawk steadied the old wizard as they all awaited the master's response.

A place in the towncenter seemed to become denser with fog than any other place, and then it dissipated leaving a small figure standing in its place. Ysbrand knew the identity of the person at once. "Glynt! NO! You cannot be the master! It's impossible!

Glynt's expression did not change. There was no recognition in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, and his words were conveyed in the same resonant voice that seemed everywhere at once. "The weak shall be strong... The meek shall be bold... The lowly shall be uplifted." Ruadan's knees began to shake. Glynt continued, "I am the speaker, nothing more, nothing less. The one you call Glynt is serving me as he has chosen to serve me. He has passed the tests too. I show you the Cauldron..."

The bonfire suddenly flared and died down to embers almost immediately. In the middle of the bonfire, unreachable by anyone's hands sat a rounded, black metal object of a proportion large enough to hold two fully grown men. The Cauldron was empty, it appeared. Good, thought Ysbrand. That will make it easier to move once the bonfire completely dies out.

As if Ysbrand's mind were an open book, something affected the bonfire and its flames suddenly came alive with hot ferocity and were propelled ever higher until the flames reached skyward well above the uppermost rim of the Cauldron. Certainly, the Cauldron was unreachable by any one so long as the flames burned strong and high. Ysbrand, frustrated but puzzled, looked to Glynt for an answer.

"Are we not to receive the Cauldron?" asked Ysbrand. Glynt's response turned the tables on Ysbrand's question. "Am I to hear the truth?" said Glynt. Ysbrand hesitated, then decided.

"I seek the Cauldron to save the life of Horsa, brother of King Hengist." Ysbrand hesitated once more, then added, "And to aid in the conquest of lands called Brittania in times past." Ysbrand lowered his eyes. He felt guilty about the second purpose. It began with his meeting with William the Conqueror and continued to grow in the days since.

"And you, woman called Lestra. Why do you seek the Cauldron?"

"To thwart Ysbrand and the Saxons," answered Lestra.

"And you, Bevan, Brit and Celt masquerading as one person?"

Bevan gulped. It knew. How? "To gain supremacy for the Brits in their own lands."

"Interesting," said The Mist, speaking through Glynt. "Are you so sure the lands are yours to claim. Didn't the Brits take them from others who were already there?"

"Why, no... I mean, well there are legends..."

"They are true, young Bevan of the Brits," affirmed Glynt.

"And you, Nyla?" The redhaired girl had worked hard at developing a purpose. Finally, she admitted to the truth.
"To prove my worth to my father and save his life... And to find a man to admire and to be his companion forever."

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-23-02 22:32 ET (US)     106 / 109       
Lestra saw clearly now what she only suspected, for as Nyla responded to The Mist of Time, she moved somewhat closer to Ysbrand. More confirmation. Ysbrand never flinched or tried to move away.

Glynt paused a moment. His eyes never straying from the distant point they seemed to be seeking. Then the resonant voice returned. "Cian O'Heaghra, what do you seek?"

Cian lowered his head. "A village that will find me worthy of their trust."

Glynt answered, "Then leave this island and go back to your home. The man you are today is needed. You have learned well the lessons of the test." Tears nearly came to Cian's eyes, but at the very last minute he drew them back so that no one noticed. He felt a tugging at his shirt. It was Feimar. "Will you take me there with you?"

"Of course, young one. If you truly want it," said Cian. The scotsman saw Feimar's head nod enthusiastically. "Then it will be so," said Cian.

Glynt shifted position though still looking beyond the village. "Kyrin, those you seek are few in number and live in a remote place between the world of man and the ancient world of your kind. Look for it in the dark forests of the land beyond the Eastern Channel. You will find it where all roads lead equally distant in all directions. It is called the middle of all places. They are there. Glynt shall show you the way, for he is one of them too, though not of your kind." Kyrin was surprised by the sudden breeze that came up. It caught her hair and in a strong updraft raised her red tresses well over her ears to reveal...

All were suprised by the lovely contour of her ears that began rounded as all ears do at the base, but curved in an elegant way that culminated at their zenith in a sculpted point. They realized then what Jayhawk knew all along, Kyrin was of the legendary race called Elfin, perhaps one of the few left of her kind. Then Glynt must be a dwarf they concluded, for he knew where to guide the elfin maiden. But what of Arithmial?

The Mist answered their unspoken question. "Will you accompany Kyrin and Glynt, Arithmial? Do you know the reason I ask?"

"Yes, I do know. I am of both worlds. My father of the Elfin and my mother like the others here. One world is dying while the other is growing without restraint. There must be a conjoining in order for the old world to live on in some fashion."

Glynt responded, "That is correct." Arithmial looked directly at Kyrin. "I shall be happy to be at her side, that is, if she will permit me to accompany her to her world." Kyrin, in the Elfin way, neither smiled nor frowned. She communicated acceptance by not protesting. It was an indicator of growing closeness that Arithmial understood what was left unsaid. He was content.

A voice, tinged with urgency and immediacy, interrupted the quiet. "But what of the Cauldron, Master! We must have the Cauldron to save ourselves!" cried out a frustrated Talisien.

Glynt turned himself in the old wizard's direction. "Does he not know, Jayhawk, about what is to be?" The Mist seemed to know Jayhawk and to speak to him with a degree of familiarity never observed before.

"I did not think it right for me to tell him in your place," said Jayhawk, briefly bowing his head in recognition.

"I see. Then he doesn't perceive what the Cauldron truly represents," said Glynt.

"No, I think not."

"Talisien, the Cauldron is the source of conflict, not a protector. You see how you battle over the object and how it brought all of you here to compete for it, fight for it... maybe even kill for it? Your world is changing. You must cooperate to survive. The Cauldron gives hope only to those who wish to combat change. There is a true Conqueror who will come. The Conqueror's name will not be Saxon or Angle, not Pict, Scot or Celt, nor Brit. Ysbrand knows who it shall be and knows why change must come; and he has learned the dangers of conquest and its final reward."

Ysbrand looked across towards Talisien, a man heretofore he saw as an enemy. "His name is William of Normandy. I learned this during my test. We have no chance to defeat him if we fight among ourselves. There must be unity. I shall say this to Hengist and to Horsa." Here Ysbrand hesitated. For all he knew Horsa may be dead. He felt sorrow for Hengist, but still, he decided then and there, the Cauldron must stay hidden.

The Mist of Time spoke through Glynt. "Talisien, you must find a boy, one who is worthy. It is no matter whether he be Angle, Saxon or any other tribe. Find him and nurture him. Give him the knowledge he shall need. There will come a test I will set for him in his own land, not in this island. You will know it is the test when you hear of it. The times are changing, Talisien, and so must you. Henceforth you are Merlin, and I set this challenge upon Merlin: Find the boy who will unify the land and guide him to his destiny."

The voice became more resonant, louder, more pervasive as the mist thickened considerably. "The Cauldron shall not be hidden again; it shall be no more!" Flames leapt high into the air from all sides of the bonfire. Surprised and slightly frightened, those nearest to the bonfire stepped back to avoid the effects of the heat. The flames continued to rise upwards totally engulfing the Cauldron in their firey grasp.

The walls of the Cauldron began to glow as red as the skin of the brightest cherries of summer. Searing heat emanated from the bonfire. Now the Cauldron's walls glowed nearly white with heat... and collapsed into the depths of the flames of the bonfire. The flames rapidly fell back into mere embers. The Cauldron was a melted mass oozing its metals from the ashes, spreading in rivulets in all directions and solidifying as it ran. The Cauldron had ceased to be.

In that moment on the mainland, Horsa breathed one last tortured breath just before life left his limbs. His brother Hengist spoke a vow of vengeance on those who had caused the death of his brother. Ysbrand's name was prominent in that vow, and not pleasantly.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-25-02 15:33 ET (US)     107 / 109       
The molten metal of the Cauldron was now a splattered, randomly scattered cold pattern on the ground. Once more the resonant voice sounded from Glynt. "It is done. Tomorrow you shall leave the island. The Paladins shall guide you away from this place."

Cian called out, "Master, how shall we leave. We are bordered by seas and have no craft."

The Mist of Time answered one last time. "Follow the Paladins..." The voice became less loud and its resonance began to diminish. "Follow the Paladins..." Even so, the foggy, moist mist that engulfed the village center increased in density as the voice of the Mist diminshed. Soon the fog was so thick each person could see only the one person standing nearest. Glynt became as impossible to see as he was to hear, as the Mist withdrew from the village of Glynden.

Then, all at once and everywhere at the same time, the fog was gone, as was the Mist of Time. They saw Glynt lying flat on his back on the ground. He didn't seem hurt, but he didn't seem conscious either. But then he stirred and on his own sat up as Ysbrand and the visitors, as well as some of the villagers rushed to his aid. "My, what a dream," said Glynt, a dazed look on his face.

"Not really a dream at all, Glynt," said Ysbrand, helping the dwarf to his feet. It was then the real Glynt saw Kyrin for the first time. "Elfin! At long last!" Glynt ran on his short, stumpy legs awkwardly towards Kyrin, but stopped short to offer a courteous bow. Then he lifted his head and a wide smile formed there. "My dream was indeed true! I shall bring the Elfin back to their land! And Lady Elfin, I truly know the way!"

Ysbrand had never seen Glynt so excited or animated. It was joyous as well as amusing. Glynt remembered his master in that instant. "Master Ysbrand, forgive me. I meant no discourtesy."

"None noticed, Glynt," said Ysbrand, smiling.

"I beg leave, master, to return to my homeland and to guide these Elfin to theirs. I... I probably shall not return."

"Granted, faithful Glynt. We each have our destiny. Today I have learned mine as you have learned yours. It is not for me to prevent what you are setting out to do. Go and fare well." Glynt bowed to Ysbrand and turned to converse with Kyrin and Arithmial about their forthcoming journey.

Ruadan edged closer to his cousin. "Cian, do you indeed plan to do as the Mist suggested and return to the Highlands?"

"Yes, Ruadan. I do."

"Will it be uncomfortable for you if I go as well?"

"Not at all. I shall give you the unenviable task of keeping me in line with the lessons learned in the Village of Campbell."

"Accepted," replied Ruadan. "There were lessons learned here by me as well... Like what the Mist might really be. I find comfort in these lessons, like a blessing received. His will be done." Cian looked at his cousin curiously. Now just what could the lessons be that he learned. He told himself to take a moment somewhere to find out what it was that inspired Ruadan this way.

A strongly confident voice spoke from behind the visitors. It was the paladin named Aurelius. "Come, tomorrow shall be here soon and I shall guide you to the shore.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-25-02 15:49 ET (US)     108 / 109       
As the visitors departed the village of Glynden, it seemed that the cottages one by one became shrouded in a fog very much like the misty fog that accompanied the appearance of the Mist of Time. Each step they took taking them farther from the village saw more and more of the village disappear from direct view. Eventually, they were far enough away that what geography could not hide, the misty fog hid instead. The village was totally lost from their view well before they reached the shore of the island.

Strangely, in every direction forward, visibility was sharply clear. There was no mist to impede their sight. Every nuance of the terrain ahead was easily discernable and even as the silence grew behind them, the roar of the surf increased in volume in front of them. In short order, Aurelius had guided them to a beach.

There on the beach was a large watercraft fully capable of carrying all of the visitors to a place on the western shore of the lands of the Celts, Angles and Saxons. "Where are the sailors of this craft?" asked Ysbrand.

Aurelius, The Paladin, responded with an odd expression on his face. "They failed their test," was all that he said. Those who were about to depart the island thought better than to ask anything further. "Hurry now," said Aurelius. "The winds favor your departure."

Along with the others they pushed the craft into the light surf until it floated, then the visitors boarded the craft and raised its single, red and white striped sail. The figure of Aurelius standing on island's beach rapidly fell behind as the wind captured the sail and moved the sturdy, sleek, swift craft out into the open sea. Soon the island itself was invisible to sight as the mist of the sea covered it completely.

Ysbrand marveled at the beauty of the craft and its swiftness. He studied intently the beast's head carved on the craft's bow. He said to Jayhawk, "What manner of beast is this?"

Jayhawk answered, "It is called a dragon, Ysbrand. A mythical beast favored by the people who built this vessel."

"Who are these people?"

"You will learn of them soon enough," replied Jayhawk. All too soon, the tall green-eyed minstrel said to himself silently.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-25-02 16:13 ET (US)     109 / 109       
Ysbrand continued to study the bow of the craft until distracted by a feeling of warmth coming from something near his side. It turned out to be someone, not something. It was Nyla. He smiled at her and she returned the smile in kind. Ysbrand felt something melt just a little more within. His mind was decided then and there on two counts. He would try to be the catalyst of union among the embattled tribes of Angles, Saxons and the others; and he would do his very best to convince this beautiful young girl to be joined with him forever. Close now to Nyla in presence as well as thought, it was a simple matter for them to share what they each were thinking. And they both were of a like mind.

"It will be difficult for us, Nyla, to unite the tribes. Hengist is most likely of a different mind set since his brother is now most surely dead."

"And my father will not be easy either. But I think we shall succeed, if we try together." Nyla stepped ever so much closer to Ysbrand, so that her hip pressed close upon his thigh, his heighth being greater than hers.

"We shall try to do so together." This was the voice of Lestra, who with Bevan now stood with Ysbrand and Nyla in the bow of the ship. The pact had now been fully joined.

Glynt described to Kyrin and Arithmial the length and detail of their journey. Nearby, Cian, Ruadan and Feimar were talking about their journey to the Highlands. In the stern stood Talisien, now Merlin, and Jayhawk who steered the vessel.

"A young boy of any tribe, the Mist said. Where shall I find such a boy? Where to begin?" Merlin pulled at his longish beard as he considered.

"It seems to me, my friend," said Jayhawk, "that you begin when you place your feet on the soil of the beach where we are bound. Then see where your feet shall take you. I suspect what you seek will eventually be right before your very eyes."

"The test... What could the boy's test be?"

"It's not for me to say," said Jayhawk, who knew perfectly well about the test of the sword in the stone. He knew he could not interfere in the matters of humans, although... well... Stop it Jayhawk, he thought, you know better. These are complex matters and complex times. Yes? So when weren't they, he argued back at himself. Then he lost interest in the argument as his attention was drawn to the bow of the ship.

Jayhawk saw Ysbrand and Nyla in each others arms sharing a mark of affection... a kiss. This was echoed by Lestra and Bevan, who were sharing a kiss of their own. Jayhawk smiled.

Ahhhh yes, humans. No matter the circumstance, no matter the challenge or the improbability of success, there always seemed to be room for love. That is good; it's the way it should be, Jayhawk observed silently to himself. He began to hum a little song he remembered from long ago in a time now past. It was a favorite of one of his human friends. He did not try to remember the Roman's name. Trying to remember the names of any of his mortal friends always resulted in a following wave of melancholy. Instead, he simply hummed the remembered song as he continued to steer the vessel to a landing on the western shore of what once was the Roman Province of Brittania.


THE END



[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-25-2002 @ 09:27 PM).]

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