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Topic Subject:The Silver Chalice
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Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 07-12-00 05:11 ET (US)         
This is the third part of the story of Wendolin, Thoren and their companions.

Cast of Characters
Benson - Benson has traveled extensively never staying in one place to long but often revisiting many of the places he passes through. He prefers to be in nature and tends to befriend animals wherever he goes. He is tend to be a loner and even in when traveling with groups tries to find way to spend time alone. He does not make friends easily but is very loyal if you gain his friendship.
Eme-Redser - the current alias of Wintersong, the Elven Queen. She is in the guise of a mysterious stranger. She wears trousers, a long shirt, and a long, bulky cloak. All of her clothing is muted green and brown. She carries a large bundle of things, all wrapped in a mysterious fabric that no one has seen before. She rides a beautiful horse, one that is warm cream in color, and whose mane and tail are a rich chocolate color. The horse's name is R'edaine, the meaning of which is undisclosed at present. Eme-Redser is an unknown entity at present, and her guise of The Elven Queen is also unknown at this time. She has the ability to disappear at will, and her other diverse talents will be revealed as the story progresses.
Gillandra - High Priestess of Coranmaire. Mysterious character - fights for good over evil. Known throughout the realm for magical healing and spiritual abilities. Soothing voice. Wear's a deep purple and white gown, and long silver cloak, showing her coat of arms on the back. Rides a silver-grey mare named Misty. Worships at the temples of Eir. Also has a pack-horse, carrying essential supplies.
Jayhawk - Wandering minstrel, troubadour, tall (6'4") slender, dark haired, sea green eyes, that seem to be able to change colour. Plays a 12 stringed lute, with fair competence. Has travelled the realms extensively and has an incredile knowledge of lore and myth. Some of his travels have been with Chunky. There may be more to him than meets the eye. Rides a black stallion by the name of Aran.
Lysette - Daughter of King Damodred, who sold her in to slavery to a cruel traveler she came to know as her "master." Has survival skills like any road-wise child, but is relatively innocent at heart. During the Quest for the Cloak, she spent 5 years in an alternate future and has now set her mind on marrying Thoren.
Rides Leeta, her chestnut mare, given to her by Thoren.
Thoren of Torvald - Norseman from the Lodge of Torvald. Torvald came into his heritage as his father was slain on the Towerfields. When he entered Torvold he found out his throne was usurped by Mordred, who's champion he defeated in single combat, thus regaining his throne.
Gruff and somewhat belligerent exterior hides a thoughtful, sometimes sensitive nature. Skilled in long sword, battle axe, short bow and knife. Unusual ancestry. Some say he is descendant from Roman and Norse stock. Rides Vorth, his Norse-bred stallion.
Wendolin - Clonmaire County Palladin. Somewhat of a mystic, experienced traveller, adventurous by nature. Friend to kings, noblemen and townsfolk of all races and types, but prefers the company of travellers. Fights for Right. Wears a long black dress made out enchanted material,
which may look like a fine gossamer web, but is in fact as hard as steel. Wears a ruby-red cloak, with deep purple & gold trim. Jet black hair - dark eyes, pale face. Also wears a magical ring on her right hand - amethyst in colour, it seems to glow when danger is near. Rides a gold coloured horse named Whispering. Close friend of Gillandra the High Priestess. Has prowess in sword and mace, and carries a golden shield.

The Quest

The Silver Chalice has been liberated from the evil mage Zordemon the Black[/b]. The party is now on it's way to the Candscent Creek in order to find the Sacred Springs with which water, once poured on the Chalice, the Hill People can be restored.

Wendolin's New Map

Quest Part 1

Quest Part 2
Updated character descriptions...

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 07-13-2000).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-12-00 11:27 ET (US)     1 / 147       
While Gillandra attended to the moaning monk found by Benson, Wendolin and the others surveyed the scene for clues as to what happened.

"I just don't understand," said the Paladin. The knives are engraved with runic symbols like those of the Druids. I suspect Norse are involved." Thoren reluctantly nodded his agreement even as Wendolin continued. "And these sword wounds are typical of Lich cavalry weapons and Goblin weapons. Yet these arrows... I've seen their like before. These are elven made. What does this mean?"

The question was asked of no one in particular; and no one was sure enough of their thoughts to even venture an answer. But one thought was common. If only Eme-Redser were here, she might know something that would help clear up the mystery.

DarthBane
Pleb
posted 07-12-00 11:36 ET (US)     2 / 147       
post killed Jay

[This message has been edited by DarthBane (edited 07-13-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-12-00 15:46 ET (US)     3 / 147       
Darthbane: Usually, story writers in these threads have Personal Characters (PC) or Nonpersonal Characters (NPC). A PC can be yourself, as Civis Romanus is mine, or another character, as Thoren is a PC I created just for this story. Lysette is my NPC for this story. Gillandra is Wendoolicus' NPC. Some writers have only a PC and no NPC. Jayhawk, for example, has a PC but no NPC. Other characters (ex. Gristle, the Troll) are created to advance the story's plot, but are not PC's or NPC's unless the writer who creates them designates them as one or the other.

Story Thread Courtesy requires each writer to do no irreversible damage (ie. death)to another writer's PC or NPC without express permission. However, things can "happen" to either a PC or NPC as written by someone else provided the "Irreversible Damage" Golden Rule is honored.

Anyway, I give you the above information as you appear to be a newbie to our Story Threads. You are certainly very welcome, as are all interested writers. Now to help you name your character I would like to know if this is a PC or NPC and if your character is human, goblin, elf, Norse, Litch or something else. Lastly, just as I use Civis Romanus in some of my stories set in Ancient Roman times but not in this story, is this the reason why Darthbane shouldn't be your character's name in this story set in the Early Middle Ages?

DarthBane
Pleb
posted 07-12-00 15:48 ET (US)     4 / 147       
post gone Jay

[This message has been edited by DarthBane (edited 07-13-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 07-13-00 05:30 ET (US)     5 / 147       
That was very short, Darth.
Mind if we just ignore it?

Civis? I thought Eme-Redser was still with us? Hmmm, I'll assume she isn't then

Jayhawk slender fingers examined the fletching of one of the arrow. His face clouded, which worried Thoren, then the minstrel mouthed a soft curse.
"What is it?"
"See this fletchings? Look at the twine, it's no ordinary twine, it's spidersilk. Now look here."
The minstrel walked towards the nearest body and pushed an arrow through the man's wound, so it's head protruded. Gingerly he broke of the heand and rinsed it if with some water from his pouch.
"Look at the runes stamped in the arrow head."
Thoren looked at the stark marks on the broadleafed arrowhead.
"Elven?" He hazarded.
"Close. Dark elves, those that drifted from the Path of Light and now run in the Shadow. They are as beautiful to behold as their kin, but their souls are as dark as the Pits of Golath.
They thrive on other's misery."

"Dark elves? I thought they were a myth, " Wendolin said as she too examined the arrow head.
"No myth, Lady of Clonmaire, they are as real as Eme-Redsers kin.
Now the question is...why would they attack the Abbey."
He looked round at the carnage and suddenly froze.
The others followed his gaze, but apart from yet another body they could not see what caught the minstrel's attention.

Jayhawk got up and walked towards the body, his booted foot turned it over on it's back. Long deep wounds covered the monk's chest and face. His habit was ripped to shreds as if something had clawed it's way in. The chest was ripped appart, ribs, bent and broken and a hole was there where a man's heart should be.
The minstrel seemed to taste the air then turned to his friends, his eyes dark and clouded.
"Demonkin."

MRed94
Pleb
posted 07-13-00 10:55 ET (US)     6 / 147       
Eme-Redser, traveling with her band of warriors toward a destination known only to her, stopped suddenly in the path.

"What is it?" Her captain of the guard, R'mayne asked.

"I feel a horrible presence, and it is with the ones that I bonded with," Eme-Redser said.

The group looked at one another, and shook their heads.

"A horrible presence?" R'Mayne asked. He knew that of all the elves, Eme-Redser was the one who was most sensitive to presences other than that of the Elves.

"Yes, and it threatens my friends. I feel the Elven presence, but it is an evil one. I must go to them."

She dismounted from R'daine, and walked over to where R'Mayne was sitting on his horse. R'Mayne dismounted also, and the two Elves walked a bit away from the main group.

The Elven Queen quickly explained her plans for Ragnhild, and after R'Mayne acknowledged that he understood and would carry out her wishes, they hurried back to the group.

Eme-Redser remounted R'daine, and with a quick farewell to her people, they galloped back down the trail. After a few seconds, a small puff of golden smoke covered the trail where she was riding, and they were gone!

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 07-13-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-13-00 11:24 ET (US)     7 / 147       
Well... Hello, goodbye Darthbane; we hardly knew ye.

A bit lost, Jayhawk? Glad you found your way back!

___________________________________________________________

"Dark elves, Goblin, Litch, Norse and now demonkin. Seems an unholy alliance to me," observed Thoren. "Tell me more about these, these... demonkin. I have not run across their like before. Are they mortal? What do they look like? What is their behavior and their origin?"

Lysette, Wendolin and Benson leaned in as Thoren asked these questions of Jayhawk. None were going to allow a single word to escape their hearing.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 07-13-00 11:58 ET (US)     8 / 147       
The minstrel's eyes flashed and for a moment his face looked cast from marble, cold and distant.

"Come, " he beckoned them back to where Gillandra was tending the sole survivor they had found, a young monk, with wispy blond hair and a dusting of freckles round his nose.

"Will he live?" Wendolin asked her friend.
"Possibly, if he doesn't aggravate the wound. He's suffered several sword cuts, the one in his side having done most damage. He sleeps now."
Benson and Thoren cleaned out the guard and a small fire was lit as the first stars made their appearance in the heavens. They ate a simple meal, waybread, fruit and water. When they finished Thoren asked,
"Now will you tell us what demonkin are?"

The minstrel leaned forward and spoke in a soft voice.
"Some men meddle with things they should not. They meddle with the powers of Darkness, the Lord of Dread."
Gillandra shivered and the shadows seemed to darken at this name.
"The Seven rule in the Underworld and their spawn in manifold and feared. They trade for the souls of mages and others that have power in the world above, for they can not enter without invitation, yet their powers of persuasion are great, though, the rewards they offer are often not what they seem."

He paused
"From the looks of it someone has invited one of the Dread Lords to our lands. The wounds were made by Hounds of Enphalos, part hound, part ape, with fearsome claws and fangs. It takes a mage to hold them to their task, for they are wild in their ways.
If this mage has also bound the Dark Elves and the Lich to his service, your world may be in great danger."

"Your world" Lysette asked.
Jayhawk's eyes narrowed slightly, then answered
"The world you and Thoren share, for it seems these forces are near your border."

"We shall have to keep vigil"

Chunky
Pleb
posted 07-13-00 13:58 ET (US)     9 / 147       
"Seems you are failing at that already, old friend."

A curt smile found its way to the lips of Jayhawk; even in adversity Chunky had that affect on people. Jawhawk rose slowly from his sitting position,

"Hail Chunky, it is good to see you once more."

Chunky glanced down, and then back up. He was different; Jayhawk knew that Chunky did not age like others, but everything about him spoke of hardship, of rejection, of pain.

"Well, I could hardly stay away now my favourite elves have reappeared."

Chunky does have a history with the Dark Elves, a long and painful one, and he is distrustful of all elves (did we talk about this Civis?). Anywho, suffice to say he has been fighting quite a bit during his absence, and is possessed by a wish (and means) to kill the nasties. BTW, Hi y'all!

------------------
Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-13-00 15:40 ET (US)     10 / 147       
Hiya Chunky!
We cleared up Chunky's discord with elves in the first part of the story. You were falsely accused of causing the death of the elf princess. Later, the Elf King found out it was Goblins who did the damage. That is why he joined in to defeat Zordemon at Lysette's request. The Elves in general have absolved you of all blame.

It is still natural for you to be cautious around elves, as all humans are; however, you've been adventuring with them all the while since the final destruction of Zordemon. Consequently, your distrust of most elves is not as severe as before. Regardless, we understand that your character has a tremendous dislike for Dark Elves, as do most other elves and sentient beings in this story. We'll remember Chunky's caution around elves and especially his dislike of the Dark Elves.

Welcome back!

___________________________________________________________


Ragnhild outwardly maintained her sullen appearance before her elven captors; but inwardly she rejoiced. "Good," she said to herself. "Eme-Redser, that misbeggoten spawn of an elve and a snake is gone. No doubt she has sensed the presence of the Evil One who will give me my ultimate triumph: REVENGE! Thoren and his kind will be eliminated and the lands of Torvald emptied of those who denied me and murdered my son! Woe to you Thoren! You have seen to my son's death and may have won a battle; but the ultimate victory will be mine! I have called forth the Evil One to seal you and your peoples' doom!"

The elve leading Ragnhild pull on the cord to make her keep up with them as they escorted her to her place of judgement and consequences, just as Eme-Redser had commanded them. Ragnhild staggered somewhat and then regained her footing. She frowned outwardly; but the smile within spread as her thoughts about revenge and the Evil One warmed the cockles of her foul heart.

Meanwhile, the Evil One slowly, deliberately, calculatingly considered its next move as it planned the spread of its influence in Torvald through its army of Goblins, miscreant humans and Dark Elves.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 07-13-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 07-14-00 03:55 ET (US)     11 / 147       
Ye gods, Civis, the Evil One. You think we can have a slightly less archetypical name?
Lets see, one of the Lords of Dread... How's about Ashkane, the Soulburner, Lord of the Seventh Plane? Also known as the Dreamreaper.
Ashkane is one the lesser Lords of Dread, but also one of the more active, while most of his brethern prefer to direct their affairs through their human minions, Ashkane is know to get personally involved. Needless to say, this has earned him the wrath of his brethern as often as not, as the see this as an attack on their power.

Hi CHunky, glad you could join us

Dawn broke and the elven sentry fell, without a sound struck by half a dozen poisoned arrows, then the dark elf warparty descended upon the camp. With them were half a dozen hulking monsters, mishappen lumps of wartled hide, arms hanging to the ground and handlong fangs. With uncanny speed, these rushed the camp, while the dark elf archers fired into the elven camp.

Within second three more elves had died ripped apart by the demonkin. Those that survived the first onslaught grabbed swords and started a scattered defence. More elves fell either to the grasping claws, ripping through their armour or through arrows finding uncovered patches of flesh.

Ragnhild looked on with satisfaction as her captors fell one by one. Then as the last of the elves was dispatched, a great clawed hand lifted her from where she lay and tossed her over a bony shoulder.

Little later all that could be heard was the soft drip of blood and the groans of the wounded.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-14-00 11:31 ET (US)     12 / 147       
Now Jayhawk, be kind. I used the term "Evil One" as a euphemism 'cause I don't know what to name the creep. I did what we American football fans call a "punt" and you European futbol fans call a "kick-off." I left the character to be named later by whoever takes control of the ball. Besides, plot-weaver that I might be, I have (I'm being honest here) zero knowledge of character groups like the Lords of Dread. That's why Thoren is asking so many questions and relying on the Minstrel, nice guy that he is, to educate the poor Norseman. Who best to educate a mere muddling mortal on what lies within the Gates of Hell than its counterpart expert on what resides within the Gates of Heaven. BTW, Ashkane sounds perfectly suited for discovery as the true identity of the Evil One. Cheers.

___________________________________________________________

"Lords of Dread?" puzzled Thoren. "I don't know these creatures. Zordemon I knew. He was possessed of magical ability and mortal armies; and he, himself, was mortal. But I don't know the nature of these 'Lords' nor what powers they possess, or what weaknesses they have." Thoren's distress was growing. "And too, I don't know what weapons to use or how to fight them. Most of all, Minstrel, none of us know which Lord or Lords afflict us. Is there a way to learn?"

Jayhawk thought hard on Thoren's request, but as he thought, Thoren volunteered what was on all of the companions' minds. "Jayhawk, I believe our survival and the survival of my people may rest firmly in your hands and the knowledge you possess. For the sake of all, share with us all that you can."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 07-14-2000).]

MRed94
Pleb
posted 07-15-00 00:49 ET (US)     13 / 147       
Meanwhile.......

Ragnhild, believing that her victory over the Elves was complete, was quietly gloating to herself........

Suddenly, she felt herself being lifted from the shoulder she had been riding upon for a while. Higher and higher she was lifted, and she became very frightened.

Turning her head, she stared with horror into a face that she didn't recognize. The hands holding her were bony, and draped with something that resembled Spanish moss....

She was unable to really think, being so frightened. The creature that was holding her continued to lift her high into the air....

An evil cackle came from the creature, as it raised Ragnhild to the highest point it could reach. Then it drew her back over its head, and with another evil laugh, threw her out of its hands.

With a blood-curdling scream, Ragnhild could only pray for a second that she wouldn't be killed. But her prayer was not to be answered, as she fell farther than she could ever have believed it was possible to fall.

The creature that had thrown her, gathered with other creatures of its kind, stared over the deep crevass where Ragnhild was falling. The group stared at one another as her scream suddenly ended.

They, the forest spirits, sighed in unison as they accomplished the mission that Eme-Redser had assigned them.

A small bird flew from a branch of one of the creature's heads, headed to where it knew the Elven Queen to be...............to tell her of the events of the past few hours, and to prepare her for the mourning that would follow for the fallen Elves...........

It never pays to irritate the Elven Queen.......

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 07-15-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-16-00 15:24 ET (US)     14 / 147       
The Dark Elves who had abducted Ragnhild knew better than to challenge the Leshy, the tree spirits who catapulted the old witch to her doom. "What do we tell... Him?" they all wondered aloud. He will not be happy to hear about Ragnhild.

Deep in the bowels of the earth beneath the South Glooming Mountains, where the chain splits northwest of Lisendonaire, the Dark Elves told their story to their Lord and Master. Ashkane snorted derisively. "So simple a task and so expertly bungled. You, Gildenbare. You were the leader of this expedition, were you not?"

"Y,y, yes, My Lord."

"Step forward."

"Yes, My Lord." The Dark Elf named Gildenbare stepped forward. Ashkane raised his left eyebrow ever so slightly and immediately the expression on Gildenbare's face became nothing more than a cold, lifeless stare.

"Take him to the surface and let him wander about. He shall wander until he is eaten by any creature that fancies Dark Elf for supper. Let Gildenbare be a lesson to any of you who fail me. If you cannot think clearly when in command and fail your mission, then you shall not think at all! Now begone, all of you, until I have further need for you." The remaining Dark Elves collected Gildenbare and did as they were bid.

Ragnhild, thought Ashkane, no real loss there. She served her purpose by enabling me to return to this world. I would have eliminated her sooner or later; but I would have preferred it under my terms, not that insidious Elven Queen's. Oh well, a minor inconvenience. Then Ashkane returned to his plan for gaining control of the Five Kingdoms and using them for his ultimate goal: Dominance by the Lords of Dread over all living things.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 07-17-00 06:42 ET (US)     15 / 147       
"Then again, " thought Ashkane, "I might still have use for her..."

The Dreambreaker stood his dead black skin absorbing what little light the vast hall held. Smoky wings stretched out behind him and he flexed his hand, flicking the foot long nails that cut glowing threads in the darkness.

The creature seemed to concentrate and then vanished.

Moments later he appeared next to Ragnhild's broken body. The talloned hand moved in arcane symbols and Ashkane's voice sounded, crackling like a slow burning fire.

"Nefershthrel"

"Aaziekiel"

The words of power seemed to hang in the air as if cut from glass.

"Spirit. Return!"

The hand snapped close and with a crystalline tinkle the words broke apart.

The body on the ground twitched. Then screamed as the spirit felt every broken bone, every rib pierced organ, every shattered vein in her body.
Ashane looked on unperturbed as the sreaming rose to an unbearable pitch. Again he spoke a word and flames and black light seemed to erupt from the woman's broken body.

"You..." the demon spoke as the screaming broke off.
"I am not finished with you. Do not think to escape my power so easily."

Ranghild turned her face towards the demon and looked at Ashkane's inhumanly, beautiful face with eyes that were changed in black orbs.
"Your wish, master?"

Meanwhile at the Monastery.
The travellers had spend most of the day at the Monastery burrying the dead monks and looking for clues.
They had found little.

As the sat by the evening fire a bloodcurdling scream suddenly ripped the night apart. Gillandra and the others rushed to the sole surviver they had found. The monk sat upright, struggling to get up, screaming his throat raw. Gillandra tried to push him back down and with help of the minstrel and Chunky succeeded.

"The night..." he muttered.
"The night! It came alive, they killed them, they killed them, " he sobbed and hit feebly at the hands holding him down.
"Ripping them apart...killing...maiming. The elves so fair...so utterly cold and killing, the killing wouldn't stop.

Then He came...blacker than the darkness..so...so beautiful...an he looked towards me...and...and...they were fire! and saw right through me!

The eyes...the eyes! They're here, here!"
Chunky and Thoren whipped out their swords and turned.
"He's here! No...no...NOOOOOO!"

The monk shuddered and collpased. Gillandra reached out for his pulse and shook her head.
"He's dead, " she said as she looked up at Jayhawk.
"Look..." Lysette whispered, "his hair...his hair has turned white..."

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-17-00 15:40 ET (US)     16 / 147       
Jayhawk: You must have something in mind for Ragnhild, though that something is unclear to me. To all: I will be away for awhile on business. Will post again to this story when I return.

___________________________________________________________

"He is with his brothers now," commented Jayhawk. "It was his time."

Thoren, Chunky and Benson saw to the monk's burial. All the while, Lysette could not get out of her mind the sudden change of the monk's hair from dark brown to white as snow.
Finally her curiosity got the better of her and she asked Jayhawk her question.

"What could cause a man's hair to change color like that? He went from the color a young man would have to hair so white one would think he was one of the ancients."

Jayhawk began his explanation. "Lysette, the effect of evil manifests itself different ways in different people. This monk, sequestered and insulated as he was with all of his brothers, had little knowledge of and no exposure to pure evil... before now. It impacted him so hard it literally aged his mind and body way beyond his actual years. The monk did not die from his wounds, Lysette. There would have been "ways" to heal his wounds; ways Gillandra, I and possibly Eme-Redser might know."

"Yes," responded Lysette. "I saw you attend to Thoren and how quickly he recovered. I am sure it wasn't my caregiving alone that brought him to health so quickly."

"You have a keen eye, young lady." There the incognito seraph stopped. Enough said about Thoren, he felt. "But as I was saying about the monk," continued Jayhawk after a brief nervous pause. "He died not of his wounds. The monk died of old age, brought on by whatever evil overwhelmed him. Not one of us has a powder, salve or elixir that can
reverse aging. The white hair was the outward proof of what within killed him."

"Horrible," said Lysette. "In the prime of life and suddenly all of the years ahead stripped from you leaving nothing left to live. Horrible. What or who do you think is responsible for this, Jayhawk?"

"I'm not entirely sure, but I believe these events are beginning to point to something that is indeed horrible, if I may borrow your very apt word, Lysette. If what I believe is true, the danger is not just to Torvald, but to everyone and everything. Torvald is just the beginning... This, this massacre, is just one scene in a diabolical play of many, many acts."

____________________________________________________________

Take care, everyone. Back again soon!

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 07-17-2000).]

Benson
Pleb
posted 07-17-00 22:25 ET (US)     17 / 147       

As they all stood around and looked at the poor monk Benson started to look around at his fellow
companions. He looked at the every minstreal Minstrel and the sorrow and compassion he showed.
He then looked at the every serious Thoren holding a shocked and saddened Lysette. They there
were the ever determined warriors, Wendolin and Chunky there sorrow masked behind the mask of
people who have seen more death than any one should have to see. Then there was the quiet
Gillandra on here knees cradling the dead monks head in her lap. In here eyes where the pain of
loosing a like under her care. Benson was the first to speak.

"It appears that he was left for us to find alive" He pondered aloud, "He is a warning of what is to
come." With that he took up his shovel and went to start one more grave for the last of the monks.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 07-18-00 10:02 ET (US)     18 / 147       
Wonderful conclusion, Benson.
Happy trails, Civis

The next morning Chunky walked back to their camp and said to Jayhawk.
"I think you should come and have a look."
The minstrel followed by Benson and Wendolin followed the young warrior into the monasetry grounds. Parts of it still smoldered and the site looked very depressive.

"Where are we going?" Wendolin asked as they entered the decrepit building.
"The library, " Chunky replied, "or better, what's left of it."

A little later they entered a great hall. All was a shambles, wooden bookcases were hacked to pieces, books were ripped from their covers, defaced, pages torn and soiled. The minstrel gasped audibly.
"What is it?" Benson asked.
"Such a waste. This was one of the most extensive libraries in the Realms, more than 5000 books, some more than hundreds of years old.
Their section on prophecies alone was unequalled."
"Prophecies?" Wendolin asked.
The minstrel looked at her then was off towards a small room to the side of the main hall. The others followed him and behald a room whose content was even more damaged than the main one.

Jayhawk knelt down and started to rifle through the scrolls and books scattered over the ground.
"What are you looking for?" Chunky asked.
"I...I remember there was one book that says something about the Lords of Dread. Now what was it called...?"
The minstrel quickly sorted through the debris putting together bits and pieces that seemingly had no connection.

Then he looked up towards his companions. His face looked pained.
"It's missing. The Tome of Zalander the Architect is missing. Not even a shred of a single page is here..."
"Do you remember what is in it?"
"No...not enough...there might be another copy though."
"Where?"
"In the Great Library of Sar Dalaam, across the Lone and Level Sands in far off Sana."

Chunky gulped, he and Jayhawk had travelled there before and it was a journey he'd spent 15 years trying to forget. Jayhawk looked grave
"I think I may need to go there, but first we have to fulfill our obligation to the Hill People."

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-21-00 15:39 ET (US)     19 / 147       
Thoren tugged on the straps holding his saddle and travel items in place on the back of Vorth. Then he checked Lysette's chestnut mare, Leeta, for the same thing. All was secure.

He placed his interlocked hands at the level of his knees to give Lysette a step to use to easily mount Leeta. Once she was settled in her saddle, Thoren mounted Vorth. All of these things were done without a word exchanged between them. Meanwhile, the other companions were making their own final preparations and were each in turn mounting their horses. Gillandra took the longest of all, but then again she as always took charge of the pack animals and so had at times more tasks to do than the others.

Lysette was concerned. Thoren seemed to have returned to the more dour behaviour that characterized the warrior in the days after the companions first met him in the inn. Something was bothering him. Lysette took a chance that maybe the Norseman would be willing at least to talk to her if not to the others. As they progressed down the river seeking shallows to cross (the monastery ferry was destroyed) she slowly approached his side with her mare and asked the question. "What is troubling you, Thoren. Can I help in some way?"

Thoren looked at her with a furrowed brow. "I am not sure I am doing the right thing, Lysette. If the danger will strike Torvald as we've been warned then I must be there to protect my family and my people. Yet I know first I must fullfil our promise to the Hill People since honor dictates it. But soon afterwards I must decide to go on with the others or return home to Torvgold. I wrestle with these thoughts even now and still I do not see the answer clearly or know what I should do."

"Whatever your decision is, Thoren. It will be the right one. Just remember, I shall go where you go, whatever you decide."

Thoren looked at her and smiled briefly then turned his head away to look to the path ahead. All too soon the frown returned as Thoren withdrew into himself to continue the nearly endless debate raging in his troubled mind.

Lysette repeated her final words to herself silently as she watched the Norseman's expression change from modest smile to grim frown. Yes, Thoren, I shall go where you go... forever.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 07-21-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-25-00 16:23 ET (US)     20 / 147       
ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz... Huh? What? Oh, okay. Back to the story.

___________________________________________________________

It was with no small relief that the companions encountered no further delays or problems locating the Sacred Spring in the south of Torvald. Now they were camped in the Spectrewoods. Tonight they would fulfill their pledge to the Hill People.

The moment came soon enough. Wendolin placed five thick, twelve inch tall candles she brought for the purpose in a circle around the small four foot high boulder. She lit each candle in turn. Then she placed the silver chalice at the highest point on the boulder. She filled it with spring water from her sheepskin. Finally, they all sat down about six feet away to watch and wait.

Curiously, even as the evening breeze picked up and leaves rustled in the trees' branching canopy, the flames of the candles never flickered, that is until...

Lysette was the first to feel their presence. The whisperings began and she felt the light fleeting touches here and there on her face, shoulders and arms. She motioned to the others that the Hill People had arrived. Now the other companions too began to hear and feel their presence.

Something began to shimmer then coalesce between the seated companions and the candle-ringed boulder. The shade of the Hill People's last king, the shade they met for the first time on the road in Spectrewoods, now formed before their eyes. The King bowed when he saw Jayhawk. In a voice sounding like a cross between a breeze and its disturbance of pine needles on the ground the King spoke to the Minstrel.

"Great One, have you at last returned to fulfill your promise to us, the Hill People?"

Jayhawk answered simply. "We have."

The King sighed. "At last... At long last. We had nearly given up hope. We heard of the great battle in the North and the death of the evil sorceror; but we thought you had all perished or forgotten about us. We waited so long... so long. Is the water in the chalice indeed from the Sacred Spring?"

"We believe it to be the spring water you asked us to find and bring to you."

"Then we must try the water to see if it is indeed from the Sacred Spring. But there is a risk."

"What risk?" asked Jayhawk.

"If it is not the water from the Sacred Spring then the spirit who attempts to drink it shall be condemned to wander the earth forever without the power of a spirit. There is only one chance given or received. You are sure, Great One, this is the water?"

"As sure as I can reasonably be without trying it myself. But you know that would prove nothing. I am not a shade."

"That is true," agreed the King. "Then it is my duty to test the water before any of my people. If it is right, I will cease to be a shade. If it is not right, the others will have full knowledge of its being false. Either way, farewell, Great One. I will pass beyond, knowing you and your companions at least have tried."

"Farewell," replied Jayhawk. The King floated over to the boulder and bent his head. The chalice never moved although the candles flickered. The shade put its whispy lips to the water and drew a sip. The water's surface rippled ever so slightly at the shade's fleeting touch. Then the King turned to face the companions. Change was instantaneous. The greyish cast to the shade's image changed to an ever brightening white. The look in its ghostly eyes became focussed increasingly on something distant. Barely discernable lips eased back into a smile. The water was indeed drawn from the correct spring.

Just before fading away the King spoke to his people and his companions. To his people he said, "They have brought us the water of the Sacred Spring. Drink of it and follow me. We are free at last." And to the minstrel,"We are forever grateful to you, Great One, and to your companions. May your days be many and fulfilling, and your reward be as great or greater than ours." Then he was gone.

One after the other, grey colored shades sipped of the water and changed to bright white then faded away. Many times the companions heard whispered 'thank you's' from the individual Hill People as the shades were transported from this world into the next. It was with complete satisfaction that they observed the last shade partake of the water, smile and pass from the Spectrewoods into blissful eternity.

Fulfilled and relieved, the companions slept where they were sitting: Wendolin, Benson, Chunky, Gillandra, Thoren and Lysette. Jayhawk only pretended sleep. Seraphs have no such need. He lay where he was, deep in thought. Tomorrow will bring a new beginning, but also an end. 'Time' will be the link, he thought. Its sands will determine the duration and these mortals, my companions, will determine the rate at which the sands will fall.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-26-00 11:56 ET (US)     21 / 147       
"So there it is, my friends," said Thoren. "I have completed with you every promise made long ago in the Inn and on the road. Wendolin has the Cloak of Z'al; Zardemon is destroyed; the Staff of Purgatory is safe; the Silver Chalice is returned; and the Hill People are free.'

'Now there is a new threat to my people and I believe my place is with them. The immortal Lords of Dread will always be a threat, now and tomorrow. We can thwart their plans, defeat their minions, but we cannot end their plotting against us. It is best I return to Torvald."

"Besides, I have one other important thing to do," continued Thoren turning and speaking to Lysette in particular. "There is a young woman who has consented to be my wife and my people and I have certain traditions to observe. They are supposed to be observed in Torvald, not on the road from one town to another."

Wendolin smiled and nodded in understanding. "Go in peace Thoren and Lysette, and thank you. Be aware should you ever need help you have friends here (Wendolin indicated herself and all of the other companions) who will respond when called upon."

As Thoren and Lysette packed up their belongings and made ready to leave, Jayhawk walked over to the Norseman's side. "You should know, Thoren, that the others too have all decided to go their individual ways. Wendolin still must return the cloak to its rightful owner and I will accompany her on this task. Then we too will go our own separate ways." Jayhawk turned to leave, then hesitated as if he had something more to say. He did.

"Thoren, when we first met in the Inn, I thought you were someone else. Perhaps it was the result of many travels and some degree of lonliness. I recognize you are your own person, but there were times when it felt like an old friend was back again, one whose company I sought many times over the years but who inevitably left this world years ago. I appreciate our times together, Norseman. Farewell."

Thoren looked into the seagreen eyes of the tall minstrel and smiled. "Farewell Minstrel. When next you see him in the Heavens, say to him, 'Your bloodline lives on, Civis Romanus. Have no fear. Will you do that, Seraph?'"

Jayhawk struggled to hold back his surprise. "I will, Thoren of Torvald. I will." Lysette glided over to Jayhawk's side even as Thoren mounted Vorth. "Say the same for me," she said to the minstrel. "And tell him I will do my best to see to the next generation in the line." Then she winked, giggled and placed a farewell kiss on Jayhawk's cheek before running to her chestnut mare and mounting her.

They waved to the minstrel as they rode off. "Now what did you say to him to make his cheeks turn pink?" asked curiosity driven Thoren.

"You'll find out someday," replied Lysette conspiratorially. "But remember what you said. First there are some traditions to uphold. We'll take care of the traditions and then you'll learn the rest."

Thoren shook his head, spurred his horse and both began their journey back to Torvald and the much longer journey through life to follow.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 07-28-2000).]

MRed94
Pleb
posted 07-26-00 12:56 ET (US)     22 / 147       
And poor Eme-Redser is lost somewhere out in the nether regions.....
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 07-26-00 15:24 ET (US)     23 / 147       
R'edaine seemed a little slow of foot in the third part of the story. I couldn't wait any longer for the wandering Elven Queen to show up. But not to worry, at some time in the future there'll be a desperate need for the great lady of the Elves. Meanwhile, she and R'edaine can rest for the while and build up a new reserve of elven power.
MRed94
Pleb
posted 07-27-00 00:40 ET (US)     24 / 147       
Eme-Redser's creator couldn't figure out where the story was going...... so Eme-Redser was lost in the void....

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 07-27-2000).]

Chunky
Pleb
posted 07-27-00 13:41 ET (US)     25 / 147       
Now what people? If we do another story, should we wait a while and give it a diferent time frame so as to start a fresh? Or would others favour waiting a while and then continuing on in this little world we have here?

------------------
Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

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