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Caesar IV Heaven » Forums » Story Archives » Quest for the Cloak of Zal - Part 2
Topic Subject:Quest for the Cloak of Zal - Part 2
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posted 05-09-00 16:45 ET (US)         
Chunky - a weather worn traveller, Chunky has seen much of the known world. Either moving by himself, or in a small group, Chunky likes nothing better than to remove himself from civilisation and surround himself with the wonders of nature. A loyal and honourable man.
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.
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.
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. Travels with trusted friend - the panther.
Thoren of Torvald - Norseman from the Lodge of Torvald. Son of the Lodges' Leader and heir apparent. Chooses adventure over rule. Younger brother murdered by Zordemon The Black. Is single-mindedly pursuing revenge, but can be diverted or distracted by a just cause or a woman in distress. 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.
Marcus Lindicus - shapechanger and sometime cherub. Though only small in stature, has a heart as large as a mountain. Shapechanging ability inherent - natural shape as a cherub, but has been known to turn into an elephant. Unfortunately also eats and drinks copious amounts of food
and wine, and does a fair amount of burping. Happy and jolly by nature, tends towards some practical joking.
Randorian - Youngest apprentice to the great mage Flahdorean, Randorian studies only the magic of illusion. He has a mysterious past...not even he knows who his parents are. However, he is blessed with a magical gift, though he has no power to directly hurt anyone or anything with it.
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.
Lysette - Orphaned daughter of a Frankish family burned out of their home and murdered by renegade soldiers. Now 15, almost 16 years of age. Barely escaped enslavement by the soldiers. Attached herself, foolishly and too trustingly, to a cruel traveler she came to know as her "master." Thoren freed her from that attachment. She is bewitched by an obedience/servitude spell the origin of
which she cannot remember. Has survival skills like any road-wise child, but is relatively innocent at heart. Rides Leeta, her chestnut mare, given to her by Thoren.
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.
Tomas - am still waiting on your background description Titanicus!!!
Incontinentia The Wise - same for you too Incon


Wendolin has been given a Quest from the King of Mordor to retrieve the Cloak of Z'al, which was stolen from his palace in Madrigold, and has somehow fallen into the hands of the evil king, Zordemon the Black, who resides in a palace in Zordark in the Realm of Sataerold (if the quest
fails, the 5Realms will be cloaked in cold and darkness, a world where children may not play, where life will be full of gloom and doom for evermore, where laughter does not exist.


Party to ensure the Staff of Purgatory is still buried deeply below the Glooming Mountains (these two items combined would give Zordemon the Black evil power over all of the 5 Realms). This wuest has been solved.

Party to retrieve the Silver Challice from Zordemon the Black (to be filled with spring water and allow the spirits of the dead Hill people to pass through and be released from their half-state).

Party to remove the "spell of eternal servitude" from Lysette (placed on her by Zordemon the Black)

Wendolin's New Map - FIXED THE LINK

Quest Part 1

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 06-26-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-09-00 16:02 ET (US)     76 / 150       
Travelling again. Back once more.

Emeredser was deep in conversation with Randorian when her eyes suddenly lost their focus and her gaze became distant and uninvolved. "Emeredser? What's the matter?" asked Randorian, who was becomming alarmed at the Elven Queen's sudden disengagement from the conversation.

"Something has happened to Lysette," Emeredser replied. Immediately, heads turned and all activity stopped. Thoren stood up and in long strides arrived at Emeredser's side. "What has happened to her?!" he demanded.

"I cannot be sure, but there has been much magic involving her. One spell is gone, replaced by another. Then person and spell ceased to be in this reality."

"How do you know these things?" Thoren further demanded.

"The necklace with locket she wears has many secret powers. To one who knows how to be receptive, location and physical wellbeing is knowledge it transmits."

Jayhawk had become part of those standing around the Elven Queen. "Emeredser," he addressed her in his most soothing voice, "Can you provide any insight into what happened?" Thoren's anxiety was under moderate control by then, so the Norseman exercised rare patience and waited for the elf-woman to respond.

"Zordemon tried to take control of her by releasing her from the spell of 'eternal servitude' and replacing the spell with one of 'blind allegiance'. In this he succeeded. But before he could use his power over her, Lysette was taken by spell to some other place I cannot see. Either she is separated from the locket or there is some power or condition that shields her. I got only the merest hint of what happened." Unnoticed by all except one, Emeredser glanced briefly yet deliberately at Randorian. Jayhawk noticed the glance and wondered at its meaning.

Thoren had only one thought. "Is she alive?"

"Yes, I think so. But where she is I do not know. There is no more to say."

Thoren and the others did not press the issue with the Elven Queen. There obviously was nothing more to be said or heard.

Emeredser motioned to Randorian to return to her side and continue their conversation. As their conversation progressed, the youth's expression changed from surprise to shock and then to self-satisfaction. He was sworn to secrecy. True to his word, the apprentice said nothing more about his conversation until the time was correct for its content to be revealed.

Meanwhile, Benson, Chunky and Tomas had entered the town of Gardath and were busy getting weapons repaired and supplies filled. Returning to camp, they all hoped the trip back would be uneventful. Those hopes would be dashed all to quickly by a party of Goblins from the Glooming Mountains.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-09-2000).]

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 06-12-00 12:45 ET (US)     77 / 150       
Wow...what a lot of posts! I'll try to catch up with the story, then I'll be posting again
Civis Romanus
posted 06-12-00 16:16 ET (US)     78 / 150       
Thanks for checking in RSC. Looking forward to your return to this story thread.


Benson's panther stopped in midstride, its back stiff and its crown of fur along its back raised in alarm. Noise farther down the path became noticeable soon afterwards. The panther dashed into the shrubbery by the side of the path and flattened itself to the ground. Benson, understanding the panther's movements, placed a finger to his lips to signal silence and then motioned to Chunky and Tomas to take cover in the tall, dense foliage on the other side of the path, away from the panther.

Within a few minutes a party of 10 goblins became visible rounding a bend in the path. They were singing to themselves some goblinish marching song that made no sense to the humans, nor could be appreciated by the wary panther.
Chunky and the others drew in a deep breath quietly as the goblins approached and held it for as long as they could so their breathing could not be detected.

These goblins were intent on a specific mission unknown to the three, and though short with exceedingly stocky, ugly legs, these goblins were making good time as they kept in step with the cadence of their marching song. Soon the goblins passed and the three let out their breath as controllably as possible so as not to attract the attention of the goblin rear ranks.

The panther finally slinked its way out of cover and re-entered the path. It lifted its nose to sniff the air, its tail swishing back and forth in nervous jerks. Clear. The panther glanced towards the foliage providing cover to the three humans and their supplies as if to say 'Come on out.' They did and resumed their journey.

Chunky spoke first, "Goblins... We'll have to tell the others the Goblins of the Glooming Mountains are on the move."

"Yes," replied Benson. "That was only a small party, but you normally do not find them this far north of their mountains. Something has given them the courage to advance this far from their home. What's more, if you find 10, you can expect there are hundreds more not far away. That was an advance party sent out to see if there are any obstructions, inanimate or living, between here and some destination north or northeast."

"Zordemon?" asked Chunky.

"It would not surprise me in the least," confirmed Benson.

"We best hurry and tell Wendolin, shouldn't we?" said Tomas.

The question needed no immediate answer because they all knew what the answer must be. They each layed spur to horse and reached the camp as quickly as possible.

" that's what we know of Lysette, and now you have brought us news of the the Goblins from Glooming Mountain and how far they have travelled. The next thing we shall hear, I'm sure, is that the Lich are upon us," said Wendolin to Benson.

Benson shrugged his shoulders and would have responded except for the sudden appearance overhead of Marcus. The excitable little cherub was pointing in the general direction of south and babbling so fast they could not understand him. "Slow down, Marcus! We can't understand you!" cried Wendolin.

The cherub slowed his speech just enough so that the others could understand his excited chirpings. "Lich! Lich! They're camped two days from here. And Wendolin, its their entire cavalry," rushed out Marcus.

Wendolin turned a little pale. "Ready or not, light or dark, we'd better get moving everyone!" Nobody thought differently. They packed and headed out of camp as quickly as possible. Their next stop would be Destiny's doorstep.

posted 06-12-00 19:22 ET (US)     79 / 150       
Now, as the group got on its way, Eme-Redser, Randorian, and Gillandra had their heads as close together as is possible, and were talking non-stop. The rest of the group knew by now that they would talk about their plan as soon as they had it finalized.

Eminence Grise
posted 06-13-00 05:38 ET (US)     80 / 150       
In the old tower, with it's shuttered windows, Lysette looked wearily at the old man. There was something hauntingly familiar to him.
Could this be the scrawny youth they'd picked up only days ago?
If so, how did he get this old?
She shivered and wrapped her arms around her, hugging herself close.
"Where's my Lord and Master?" She asked petulantly.
"Grit, get the girl some mulled wine, will you"
Randorian spoke and the short, squat goblin like creature put a hot poker in a mug of wine and handed it to the confused girl.
"Lysette I want you to listen to me and watch closely"

The old man, waved his hands over an ornate mirror while Grit lit some incense-cones. The heavy fumes mingled with the scent of spiced wine. A picture began to appear in the mirror, like the view an eagle would have of the land.

Armies were moving, brightly coloured Brightsparians, fur clad Norsemen infantry, Lisendonairean cataphracts and archers. They met with the Aran Dor army in a plain before a rocky crag, topped with a dark tower.

Horde upon horde of goblins were camped around the crag, with huge wolves runnign through their camps, howling. An army of lich advanced along the River of Darkness, closing the retreat.

Morning broke gloomy and wet, rain turned the fields into a muddy swamp, which caught foot and hoof, turning the cavarly useless. The goblins advanced under cover of the gloom and the rain. Arrows clouded the sky and goblin and men fell as the shafts pierced armour and skin. Vargs snapped at horses legs and bellies, disabling them even further. The lich advanced from behind a wave of dread flowing in front of them, as the lifeless horde moved closer.

Lysette shivered.

Focus shifted as the undead legions fell on the rear of the armies of the Realms, towards the castle. A small group of people were moving upwards along the rocky road. Battling their way through Zordamon's minion. A young pale man on a horse, looking scared, but tossing balls of bright fire towards the enemy, a pair of swordsmen hacking their way up.

"Thoren..." Lysette breathed.

A women wielding a sword that seemed an extension to herself, a priestess, whose mace crunched skulls and spells fed power to her companions, another woman, whose magic tore through enemy ranks. A bow man and a big cat, taking their own toll of the enemy.
And a tall man on a tall horse with a dark shadow behind him, his eyes flashing as arrows failed to find him and swords went astray. Incongruously he seemd to be playing a lute.

They passed a gate, but the priestess fell to a winged demon. In the court the bowman saw a familiar face and charged only to be torn to pieces by the great cat that suddenly turned upon him.

Goblins overwhelmed and pinned down the Paladin, while the younger of the two swordsmen disappeared in a flurry of knives.

The dark mage, a young girl at his side, appeared and unerringly tossed a crystal vial towards the Elven Queen. It broke and to the girl's astonished eyes the mage light went out as she turned to stone.

The younger of the two magicians fell as arrows pierced his chest. The younger Randorian's illusions grew frantic as he tried to protect himself from the renewed attack. The minstrel wore a look of infinite pain on his face as the norseman charged forward and fought his way up to the Dark Mage. The girl at the man's side answered his beckoning call and then slid a long dagger into his belly.

Lysette sobbed as she saw the look of triumph on her own face.

The minstrel cried out and seemed to grow, wings sprung from his shoulders, wide and sable, as his clotihng seemd to flow away until all that was left was a white kilt. Jewels glittered on his arms and chest as he swooped up and picked Randorian from his horse and chased towards the sun. A final flurry of goblin arrows sped up, one hitting the young mage in his hand.

That dark mage laughed and laughed, the sound was the last thing Lysette heard before she fainted.


The old mage wiped the girl's feverish brow, an old scar showing clearly on his hand.
"Fight little one, fight. Follow the voice of your heart."

Still later.

The lights in the tower were dim when the girl awoke to find the old man nodding besides her.
"Hush, child."
Randorian answered and clumsily patted her shoulder. The girl flung herself into his arms and cried herself back to sleep.

And later.
"Now listen to me. The angel saved me to give you this chance. You fought of the spell of Zordamon, now you must learn the secrets of the mages. Only this way we can change the past and give the others a chance of life. Not Death.
It will be a hard task...are you willing?"
Randorian looked at the girl, who nodded.
"Yes, Randorian, I am willing."
Her voice was steel under velvet.

5 years later the young woman looks at her old mentor. Goblins are laying siege to his mages tower. They have been at it for a year now and the defences are weakening.
"I think you've learned all I know, Lysette. It is time to send you back."
Lysette nods and kisses the old man on his cheek.
"You have been wonderful, Randorian, I wish there was a way to stay, but if I will have survived for nothing."
"You won't fail, child."
The old mage prepares the spell and send the girl on her way. The goblins have breached the walls and are swarming over his defences. He sighs.
"It's as good a day to die as any...but I won't die without a fight."

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 06-13-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-13-00 11:22 ET (US)     81 / 150       
Jayhawk: What is a cataphract?
Eminence Grise
posted 06-13-00 11:54 ET (US)     82 / 150       
A cataphract is a seriously armoured horseman. They were 'invented' in Persia and the adopted by the Byzantines. The horse is covered completly in mail and plate, as is the rider. Their main weapon is a 10-12 foot lance named a kontos. After charging the enemy the switched to long swords to chop up the remaining opposition.

Naturally the make bad 'tanks' on soggy or uneven ground.

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 06-13-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-13-00 16:43 ET (US)     83 / 150       
Jayhawk: My complements on an excellent episode. I hope I can do its continuation justice. Thanks for the explanation of a cataphract. Learned something new. Looks like I best brush up on my Persian and Byzantine military knowledge. It could come in handy another time.


Thoren and his father separated at dawn, each to assume his command: Thoren to rejoin Wendolin's Company and the Norse Lodge Master to join and lead the Torvold Host.

Just as Lysette had seen in Randorian's mirror to the past, morning broke gloomy and wet. Rain turned the fields into a muddy swamp, catching foot and hoof, making cavalry useless.
Brightly colored Brightsparians had arrayed themselves among the fur-clad Norse from Torvold. These were infantry units. Lisendonairean cataphracts were arrayed in front of and to the flanks of the infantry. Brightsparian cavalry were arrayed behind the infantry to protect the rear from an attack by the Lich. Both would be equally impaired by the muddy field making it an even contest. The archers were positioned in gaps between the cataphracts and the infantry.

The Army of the Realms looked across the muddy field at the near countless horde of Goblins and Vargs and then to the stone lined ramp leading to the entrance to Zordemon's stronghold. This would be the direction the Company would take as the Army of the Realms cleared the field of Zordemon's minions... at least, that was the plan and the hope of all who faced Zordemon this grayed and overcast morning.

The siege of Randorian's castle took a more serious turn as one of the outer walls suffered a stone crashing breech. Goblins poured in in unstoppable numbers forcing the defenders to flee to the 1st inner wall. Randorian continued to stare at his Mirror to the Past. He gained new hope as something unexpected happened to the field before Zordemon's stronghold. _______________________________________________

Men looked at each other. Goblins stopped their war chant. There were changes... The sun that was covered in clouds suddenly appeared, the sky cloudless. The ground that was soaked in rain dried as if being baked in an oven. Yet no man, goblin or varg could feel the heat that caused the drying. The Goblin commander sensed an advantage lost and immediately ordered his army to advance before losing anything more.

The Goblins released an earsplitting, nerve shattering war cry and charged. Goblin arrows and their feathered response from the Army of the Realms passed each other overhead then dove to earth to do their damage. Men and Goblins fell. Vargs leaped over bodies of fallen Goblins and dashed towards legions of the Realms. Flights of arrows continued to darken the sky. Insidious Goblin arrows found their way between massed shields to strike Norse and Brightsparians in the few areas temporarily exposed and vulnerable.

The distance between the two armies closed swiftly. A second wave of Goblins advanced to replace the first. This second wave was as populated as the first. Together with the vargs the combined waves exceeded the Army of the Realms by nearly half... and nothing had yet been seen or heard of the Lich. That is, until now.

Behind them the woods erupted with Lich. Brightsparian cavalry reacted immediately. The Brightsparian Commander was shocked. The Lich were on foot. They must have anticipated the muddy conditions and thought to fight on foot and gain the advantage. Confidently, he ordered his cavalry to advance. The Lich halted in mid attack and began to retreat. The Brightsparians advanced to cut them down in their retreat. Just as they were almost upon the Lich the woods erupted once more. Archers! Flights of metal penetrating arrows darkened the sky and slammed into the elevated riders of Brightsparian horses. The Commander screamed, "A trap... Back... It's a trap!" His words were cut off as an arrow passed through his neck ending his time on this earth.

"No other choice," said Thoren's father to the Brightsparian King. "We must attack to save the day!" They agreed instantaneously and the command was given. Center-positioned cataphracts advanced on the charging horde of Goblins and vargs. Arrows bounced off their armor. Vargs wasted little effort to attack their horses. Goblins fell by the score before their onslaught.

Brightsparian and Norse infantry advanced shoulder to shoulder in a manner reminiscent of ancient times and a great ancient power's nearly unbeatable infantry. The front ranks absorbed the blow as charging Vargs and Goblins met the advancing Army of the Realms for the first time.

Seeing the need, the second and final wave of Goblins and Vargs advanced into the fray. The Lich were cutting through the valiant Brightsparian cavalry, felling man and horse alike with arrows, then striking home with sword or knife. The Realm's retreat was cut-off.

The Company had arrayed itself within the protection of a large troop of cataphracts. These now charged forward, the Company being within the "flying wedge" the heavily armored horsemen had formed. The impact of the cataphract wedge was too great for the Goblins, who fell back and to the side. Those who lived could not chase the cataphracts and Company since they were on horses and Goblins were not. Only Vargs could give chase, but deftly delivered sword strokes and lance thrusts kept them at bay.

Yet casualties mounted even as the cataphracts advanced the Company to the ramp to Zordemon's fortress. The Company now stood on the ramp. Before them was the heavy wooden drawbridge in its raised position. The Company could not be attacked from the side or back, only from the base of the ramp where the remaining cataphracts fought desperately to hold back the relentless Vargs and Goblins.

In Zordemon's fortress a tall dark figure, face aging and hair graying, continued to mumble ancient words in an ancient tongue over a smoking bowl of some hellish liquid. One by one the cataphracts fell as if struck by an unseen hand. As the final soldier fell the Goblins and Vargs paused ever so briefly to assess the situation. Then, without further hesitation, they collectively charged the Company...

In the field the battle was going poorly for the Realms. Lich were carving up their rear ranks and the second wave of Goblins and Vargs had reached the Brightsparian and Norse infantry tearing great gaps in their units. The Army of the Realms had a collective sickening feeling that their demise was near.

The sky suddenly darkened as flock after flock of eagles appeared above and began to dive into the attacking hordes of goblins and vargs. Then, for the first time all of them saw it, the figure in the steel gray cloak with its face hidden, emerge from the trees behind the Lich riding a chestnut horse, leading an army of Elves who were mounted or on foot. But these were Elves... and neither man nor Goblin knew which side they would choose.

Goblins breached the 1st inner wall of Randorian's castle. The 2nd inner wall was all that remained between the Goblins and Randorians abode... and it was the weakest wall of the three.

Civis Romanus
posted 06-13-00 22:22 ET (US)     84 / 150       
Elevated as they were on the ramp to the stronghold, the Company could see the new host appear from within the forest at the far end of the battlefield. The grey-cloaked figure on the chestnut horse paused momentarily. Eme-Redser suddenly sensed an ephemeral presence and communication. In the brief time it lasted, great comfort and encouragement grew within her heart, even as their situation became more beleagered.

Thoren, Chunky and Wendolin took the brunt of the initial assault up the narrow ramp. Taking advantage of the narrow passage permitting no more than three creatures to attack at once, the three sword fighters easily held the Goblins and Vargs at bay. The fallen became a protective wall as more and more Goblins and Vargs met their doom. Meanwhile, Benson calmly put arrow after arrow into the torsos of other unfortunate attackers on the ramp making it impossible for Zordemon's creatures to sustain the attack. Then eagles descended to further harry the Goblins and Vargs.

The grey-cloaked figure wordlessly waved an object in the direction of a troop of mounted Elves. The troop on the nearside flank peeled off, formed a protective grouping and awaited their next order. Then the figure pointed to the waning battle between the Brightsparian cavalry and the dominating Lich, once again wordlessly, and the remaining Elven cavalry charged directly for the Brightsparian lines. Curved swords left their holders on the horses' flanks and were brandished in Elven hands as the charging cavalry slammed into the battlefront. Terror crossed the faces of the few remaining Brightsparians, then relief. Elven swords fell upon the Lich alone and began their slaughter.

The figure saw terrified Lich attempting to retreat towards the Elven infantry and the safety of the woods. Not to be. Once more the figure pointed wordlessly, and rank upon rank of Elven infantry advanced to meet the retreating Lich felling them all by ones and twos. The Elven advance continued into the heart of the battle, fully supporting the Army of the Realms against the Goblins and Vargs. Now it was time for the Goblins to feel terror and new encouragement to sweep through the remaining ranks of Brightsparian and Norse infantry.
A battering ram pounded on the heavy doors of Randorian's 2nd inner wall. Hot oil and stones broke up the attack allowing a brief respite.

The grey-cloaked figure wheeled its horse confident the Elven host, led by its kings and queens, would help the Army of the Realms carry the day. The figure joined the waiting troop of Elven cavalry. The figure said nothing but pointed to the ramp on which stood the Company defending itself from attacking Goblins and Vargs. They rode swiftly to the ramp along the left flank of the battle raging in the field.

Tomas saw them first. "Elves! They are attacking us too. All is lost!" Eme-Redser calmed him immediately. "No Tomas. You cannot see as I can. They are here to help. Have courage, young one. The day is not lost."

The mounted elves charged into the gathered Goblins and Vargs and began mercilessly cutting them down. The grey-cloaked figure refrained from battle. The figure seemed to be searching for someone instead. No expression could be seen as the figure's face was covered by a mask of the same material as the grey cloak. The figure must have found who it sought, for it ceased to look from face to face after a few moments. Then the figure turned its attention to the battle between the Elves and Zordemon's minions at the foot of the ramp, the Elves taking up a position preventing the Goblins and Vargs from attacking the Company.

All this while, the minstrel had continued to strum his lute and sing lyrics in an unknown tongue that warded off arrows and other missles cast at the Company from the sides and above. Gillandra, Tomas and Randorian had joined hands with Eme-Redser in desperate attempts to generate the right magic to encourage the drawbridge to lower. Zordemon's magic had foiled every attempt.

The grey figure looked over its shoulder to see how they fared. Not well, it seemed. It turned its attention to the battle once more, but with a difference. Its right hand clenched and unclenched once. Zordemon staggered back from his bowl of unearthly liquid as if delivered a body blow from out of nowhere. His concentration broken, his control over the drawbridge disrupted, Eme-Redser's magic finally broke through.


The drawbridge fell permitting the Company to enter the grounds that lead to the doorway and its spiral staircase up into the stone-walled lair of Zordemon. They turned and rushed over the bridge, through the gate and into the grounds only to meet...

The Household Guard of Zordemon...

Forty hand-picked men from the best fighters among the Zordarkians led by...

Adolphus, the brother of Benson. "I fear for your life, brother," said Adolphus to his brother with a smirk on his face. As he waited for his brother and the others to respond, Adolphus fingered the gold bracelet on his wrist. To Thoren, the bracelet seemed oddly familiar, though at that moment he couldn't quite comprehend why.

Benson chose his words and actions carefully. The Zordarkians tensed for battle, as did the rest of the Company.

posted 06-14-00 00:13 ET (US)     85 / 150       
Eme-Redser turned once again, looking out over the battlefield, and with an expression that was undescribable, looked at the cloaked figure. She nodded her head briefly, and making a gesture with her hand, turned back to the group that faced them.

Gillandra noticed that the ring the Elven Queen wore was now glowing with an unearthly light, brighter than they had ever seen it before.

Eme-Redser motioned to Randorian, Gillandra, and Wendolin, who gathered close to her. "Join hands, and concentrate on his words," she said softly, not wanting to break the small silence that was there as Benson started to speak..........

Eminence Grise
posted 06-14-00 04:17 ET (US)     86 / 150       
Not bad youself, Civis

"You killed our father, prepare to die" Benson hissed between clenched teeth. He dropped his bow and took hold of the long hunting knife, his cloak wrapped around his left arm.

Adolphus barked an order and two of the guards advanced, swords drawn. In a single motion almost to quick to follow, Benson severed the jugular of the first and hamstrung the second.
"Are you afraid, older brother?"

Four more guards were motioned forward, as Adolphus looked on dispassionately. One died, the knife between the cracks of his armour, the second one felt the long knife penetrate his armpit and then no more...
The third managed to score a hit and grazed Benson's knife arm before dying. Moments later Benson had dispatched his fourth assailant, but now too blood was dripping from a cut on his forehead.
"You are a coward, Adolphus. Our father's ghost will spit on your grave. You are not worthy of dying on my knife.
Poor simpering 'brother'."

Benson turned back to his companions. Adolphus paled. Zordamon's henchman droped his cloak and drew his broadsword.
"You!" he hissed, spittle flying at the mouth. He broke into a run and slashed at his brother's back. Benson turned at the last possible moment and managed to evade a blow that would have severed his head. Aldolphus pressed on swinging his sword and a half with well practised skill.

Blows were struck but non drew blood, then a backhanded blow drew blood on Benson's thigh. Then in a flurry of steel and motion Benson's knife cut through Adolphus wrist and the swordman's hand, with bracelet landed at Thoren's feet. The Norseman bent down and picked up the bracelet.
"Anika..." he mumbled.

Adolphus dropped the heavier weapon and grabbed for the dagger at his side, he scored another hit on Benson's knife arm and the wanderer took hi sknife in his left hand. A scuffle ensued and both men fell to the ground.

Benson strugled upwards, his knife burried to the hilt in his brother's abdomen.
"And now you Slowly, like you made our father die.
At last my family is revenged."
"It is not..." Adolphus spit blood.
"Zordamon still lives, our eldest brother still lives..."
Benson turned to the fallen figure.
"Zordamon is your eldest brother..."
"You lie! Geraint was killed by wolves! Geraint was a good man, he gave met Shadow..."
"He was not... " Adolphus coughed more blood.
"He was it that set me on you, our family and our father."
Benson blanched.

Thoren who had held back now could no longer hold his peace.
"Where did you get this bracelet " he asked softly.
"That trinket? I got it when we raided one of your settlements, barbarian." Adolphus tried to spit at the Norsemen towering over him.
"The girl...?"
"Oh...the girl...pretty little thing. She died screaming while my men violated her." Adolphus smiled through the blood on his face.

Thoren drew his sword, but felt a hand on his shoulder. As he looked round he saw the minstrel behind him.
"Don't" the soft voice sounded.
"He killed Anika!" anguish and hate made Thoren's voice tremble.
"Look at him, Thoren, he's dead or as good as. Killing him will only bring death more swiftly. Save your wrath for the one who sent him.
Zordamon sent them in an attempt to kill you, Anika was...unfortunate."
Thoren looked again at Adolphus, his knuckles white on the grip of his sword.
"Is that so..."
"It's...the...truth, barbarian."
"Zordamon!!!" Thoren howled as Aldolphus threw up blood once more and died.

"What you want, barbarian?" Zordoman, flanked by two large winged demons stood on the balcony overlooking the courtyard. Then the black mage looked down at his guard
"What are you waiting for, idiots. Kill them!"
As he spoke the warriors in the courtyard shook off their confusion and attacked. Red fire lanced from Zordamon's hands

posted 06-14-00 10:17 ET (US)     87 / 150       
With a skill born of ages, the small group with enjoined hands renewed their concentration, and suddenly the entire group was encased in a healing, cleansing purple glow. They could feel the healing powers, as their strength began returning, and Benson could feel the trickles of blood fading, and the soreness of the wounds was lessening. He glanced at the circle with a small smile, and turned once again to face the evilness before him.

The red bolts bounced off of the glow, and went richoceting around the room.

One struck Zordemon a glancing blow, and he screamed in fury!

"Oh, for you to think that your paltry magic can possibly stop such as me??? Mwaha ha ha ha!!" He laughed at the ceiling, and then turned. When he faced them again, a slight orange glow seemed to envelop him..............


[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 06-15-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-14-00 16:39 ET (US)     88 / 150       
Ooops. Continuity error. Lysette is not in the tower. She turned 21 and left Randorian's castle and has disappeared (for now)into the aged Randorian's past. However, Incon is in the dungeon and Tusky is getting annoyed he cannot whack something around yet.

Tusky and Incon could hear the battle raging outside of their cell through the barred window 14 feet above their cell floor. She also noticed the guards formerly outside of her cell had left their posts on the run not too long ago. Something was afoot, she surmised. Then a stray arrow, Brightsparian she guessed, passed through the bars of the window falling to the cell floor, barely missing Tusky in its downward flight. This annoyed Tusky and thoroughly infuriated Incon. "Get me out of here, someone," she screamed at the top of her lungs. Tusky followed suit with a trumpet call of his own. Both cries were heard by one nearby.

The goblins had fallen back from their assault on the ramp to regroup and attack the Elves once more. In the long minutes that passed, the figure in the gray cloak seized on the opportunity to do what could be done for the cellmates.

The dungeon walls were below the uppermost level of the ramp and drawbridge. They extended deeper than the grounds preceeding the tower, but the dungeon floor was level with the field on which the battle raged. This stronghold had no moat. The grey-cloaked figure motioned to a few Elves to accompany it. The figure approached the outside wall of Incon's cell. It grasped an object around its neck and quietly whispered some unintelligible words. A huge hole in the wall appeared and a great creature swiftly emerged with a somewhat disheveled woman on its back.

The figure motioned to the creature and woman to follow it back to the safety of the Elves defending the drawbridge. The Goblins appeared to be working themselves up into another frenzied attack. Now on the drawbridge, the disheveled woman known as Incon dismounted from her best friend, Big Tusky, and approached the figure in grey. As was her way she boldly spoke to the figure in grey. "Just who are you anyway?!"

The figure hesitated a moment then wordlessly revealed its face to Incon and Incon alone. Incon gasped, "I know you! You're..." The figure brought its right index finger to its lips to signal a silence that was instantly obeyed by Incon. The figure leaned forward to whisper in the woman's right ear, finished what it had to say, then recovered its face with the grey material of its cloak.

Incon directly returned to Tusky and was gently lifted by the elephant into her customary riding location. The elephant turned and made its way up the ramp and across the drawbridge.


Zordemon retreated from his balcony to a cabinet nearby. He opened the doors and grasped an amulet. To reach it, he pushed aside a silver chalice, something he had acquired many years before thanks to Lich handywork in the South. He placed the amulet around his neck and rushed back to the balcony.

Below, the battle raged on without conclusion. A standoff had ensued. Zordarkians could not reach the Company and the Company could not effectively confront the Zordarkians. Adolphus lay where he and the Zordarkians battling Benson had fallen. The winged demons at Zordemon's side knew their time would come to end this invasion, but they knew Zordemon would dictate the time and place. Now was not the time and the grounds was not the place.

Zordemon grasped the amulet with his left hand, then caused the index finger and thumb of his right hand to touch each other. So arranged, he turned his right hand palm up and pointed the three remaining flattened fingers directly at the hand-joined members of the Company. The amulet glowed and the tips of the fingers of his right hand followed suit. A bolt of pure energy ribboned in gold, yellow, red and orange flew from his hand and struck the Company dead on.

Gillandra, Tomas, Randorian and Eme-Redser were dashed about, stunned by the force of the bolt's energy. The circle broken, the protective shield failed, the Zordarkian Guards saw their opportunity and rushed in for the kill. Thoren, Chunky, Benson and Wendolin knew they were in for the fight of their lives... and so it was.

The Zordarkians were good, but not invincible. They fell two at a time under the swords of the Company, but there were so many, so many. Wendolin limped now from a gash in her thigh. Benson was clubbed twice on the side, at least one rib broken and another seriously bruised. Chunky detoured the sword one Zordarkian attempted to drive into Benson's back. The panther tore, slashed and bit whatever it could reach. And Thoren, sliced on his arm and shoulder, fought on as best he could.

The minstrel maintained his aloof almost unnoticeable presence, but never stopped strumming his lute. Zordemon prepared another blast, then stopped, unsure. Something was wrong underfoot. The balcony, did it really move? It did! Zordemon leaped back into the chamber just as the stone balcony fractured and fell to the grounds below. The demons flapped their wings, became airborne and so escaped the fall. Not so the three Zordarkians battling Chunky below.

"Chunky, look out!" bellowed Thoren. The swordsman instinctively leaped backwards avoiding the stones falling from above. The three Zordarkians were slower and unsuccesful. Stones buried them, all three.

An animal's call sounded behind them. Tusky entered the fray using his trunk to bat and bash Zordarkians. The minions of Zordemon saw the futility of battling the men and the massive bellowing animal and so attempted to retreat by escaping out of the gate, over the drawbridge and down the ramp... Elves and the grey-cloaked figure ended this ploy.

Seeing the grounds were safe, Incon yelled at the Company from atop Tusky. "Go! I'll hold the grounds with the Elves. I can't help you any better than this. Go, I say!" Then Incon spied the minstrel. Recognition was instantaneous. She smiled, blew him a kiss and then went about her business. He smiled back and joined the Company.

The Company rushed the open tower door as fast as they could and entered. Only Chunky stayed behind, noting that Elves were beginning to appear in the grounds and hearing the battle cry of the Goblins and Vargs nearby. He felt his place should be to protect Incon and the Company's back. He also wasn't sure of these Elves, nor of the grey-cloaked figure that now walked with the Elves confidently into the

The Company surged up the spiral staircase and burst through the door into the tower chamber in which resided Zordemon the Dark. Flanked by his two winged demons the evil mage calmly looked the panting companions over and laughed.

"At last we meet. Welcome! Now prepare to meet your doom!"

It was Benson who stepped forward first to confront his brother. Unknown to them all, the grey-cloaked figure was climbing the spiral staircase on its way to Zordemon's chamber.

Civis Romanus
posted 06-14-00 23:00 ET (US)     89 / 150       
Benson struggled to contain the anger welling up within. Fueled by anger and the persistent pain in his side, he wasn't as rational at that moment as when he confronted Adolphus. Zordemon, Master Mage, sensed this immediately.

"So Brother," said the mage, "I see you know our little secret. What, pray tell, do you intend to do about it? I would like to know... Our dead father would like to know."

Wendolin saw the red flush rising from the base of Benson's neck. "No Benson!" Too late. But the panther intervened first. It rushed the mage. One of the winged demons stepped in front of the mage intercepting the panther. The leaping cat was grasped by the throat in mid-flight by a red claw. The demon threw the captured cat over his shoulder and out the opening where the balcony had been before. They all heard the sickening thud as the body of the panther struck the ground below.

Benson bellowed a cry of pure hate and anger, pulled out his sword and rushed his brother. Zordemon grasped his amulet and in the blink of an eye froze his brother in place and conjured a wall between his brother, himself, the demons and the Company. Gillandra, Eme-Redser, Tomas and Randorian linked hands once more as Thoren and Wendolin held their swords at the ready.

The minstrel made the first move. "Halt Minstrel!" cried Zordemon. "I know you!" The minstrel disregarded Zordemon's admonition and moved closer. "Halt I say!" cried Zordemon. "I know your identity! Pretend-minstrel, I invoke the Law of The Heavens. You may not harm me. You may do nothing to me. The Law forbids it. Isn't that right Minstrel?"

The Minstrel nodded. "That is right Evil One. You have spoken accurately. The Law of the Heavens says I may not alter what for you will be."

"Then cast aside your lute, Minstrel. You have no further use for it." The Minstrel dropped his lute to the floor and made no further move. "Evil One indeed, Minstrel," continued Zordemon in his moment of triumph. "What is 'evil' minstrel. How am I different from the others that war upon me below? For 'evil' to be so named there must be 'good' to contrast it with. I see no 'good'. I see hatred, intolerance, theft, greed, ambition and murder!

"Your view is jaded, Zordemon. The good fight to prevent their own murder; they try to recover what you have stolen; they try to prevent what you greedily seek; they try to survive while you seek to enslave and take the fruit of their labor. You are indeed the antithesis of good and are deserving of all that evil will bring to you."

"ENOUGH!" screamed Zordemon. "I will show you what 'evil' will bring, Minstrel; and you are powerless to prevent it!"
Zordemon nodded his head and Benson immediately resumed his attempt to assault Zordemon as if nothing had stopped him previously. But the two demons intercepted him as well. One grasped him by his neck and right sword arm. The other laid a powerful closed fist into the already brutalized rib cage on Benson's left side. Bone fractured with a cracking sound heard across the room. Benson gasped and a rivulet of blood began to flow from his mouth. The two demons jammed claws into the body of the unconscious man and threw him into the far corner of the room. Benson crashed into the wall and slumped to the floor. Death began its watch over the prostrate form of the Wanderer.

Zordemon could see the glow of Eme-Redser's ring brighten as the chanting among the four hand-holding members of the Company continued. He saw the grey-cloaked figure standing passively by the entrance to the chamber. A short transmitted thought entered his consciousness. Zordemon smiled with recognition. The advantage is now surely mine, he thought to himself. I cannot be stopped.

He grasped the amulet once more. Suddenly, the conjured wall shattered under the assault of the Company. Thoren charged through. The grey-cloaked figure uncharacteristically drew in a sharp breath tinged with dread. Zordemon saw Thoren's advance, muttered a single indecipherable word and Thoren was cast backwards into the remaining Company breaking their ring. A sudden colorful bolt of energy shot once more from the evil mage's right hand, striking each of the Company except Thoren. Wendolin, Gillandra, Eme-Redser, Tomas and Randorian lay stunned and frozen on the ground. Only Thoren and the grey-cloaked figure could move.

Thoren saw the grey-cloaked figure for the first time as it left its place by the entrance and slowly walked towards Zordemon. The demons stood aside to let it pass. The figure took its place by Zordemon's left side, turned and presented its masked face to the Company. Only Eme-Redser and the Minstrel among them knew the figure's identity. Eme-Redser's body and tongue were frozen by spells and the Minstrel would not speak.

"Do you fear me, Norseman?" taunted Zordemon. "You are free to move. There is no spell on you. By the way, you are the only one left in your family to avenge your father, aren't you?" Thoren looked at Zordemon somewhat puzzled. "Oh, maybe you didn't know? Vargs feed on your father's body below. So sorry, Norseman." Rage boiled inside Thoren, but for once he contained it (barely).

"You lie, Zordemon!" retorted Thoren.

"Do I?" Zordemon waved his hand. A smokey mist formed in mid air. The image of the battlefield manifested in the smoke. A body lay among feeding Varg. The body had his father's face. The image faded away.

Hatred supplanted rage. Deadly intent took the place of caution. Thoren advanced. The demons leaped, not waiting. The grey-cloaked figure shivered then regained control. Thoren's sword slashed into the first demon and stuck in its body. A knife from nowhere appeared in Thoren's other hand and was driven hilt deep into the second demon's chest. Thoren quickly withdrew the knife, but the sword was ripped from his hand by the falling first demon. Then the first demon vanished along with Thoren's sword and the second demon vanished as well.

"Marvelously executed, Norseman," said Zordemon calmly, confidently. "Here I am. What are you waiting for? Oh...I almost forgot. I want you to meet someone first before you end my days." Zordemon turned to the masked figure by his side and with his left hand (right hand on the amulet) removed the mask from the figure's face. "I believe you know the lady."

Thoren stared in shock and recognition. "Lysette!"

No words of recognition escaped Lysette's lips. She turned her head towards Zordemon, devotion beaming from her eyes. "Come, take her Norseman. If you want what I've left for you."

Thoren could not be stopped. Wendolin tried to cry out a warning, but couldn't speak or move. Thoren slowly walked closer, his knife ready. Oddly, Zordemon never moved or offered a defense. Now the Norseman stood closely to the seemingly conquered mage. He saw close up Lysette's face for the first time in days and weeks. Shock again locked his mind and froze his instincts. This was no girl, but a woman. What has he done, Lysette?

So engaged in Lysette's changed appearance was Thoren that he failed to notice Zordemon's right hand tightening on the amulet and its increasing glow. He failed to notice Lysette's hand moving within her gray cloak then withdrawing from it a long etched knife. He failed to notice the beads of sweat forming on Zordemon's brow as the evil mage with eyes closed mentally conjured the spell that would cause Thoren's body to explode from within and its pieces be scattered about the room.

The point of the knife in Lysette's hand turned purposefully towards Thoren, pointing at his belly. Then in one swift, unexpected move she twisted her body to the right and slammed the full eight inches of the blade up and into the belly of Zordemon.

The mage screamed and released the amulet, his eyes fully wide, agony registering on his face. He glanced down at Lysette with shocked surprise, then staggered backwards and fell to the ground, the knife in his belly prominently upright and deeply embedded. All spells in the room ceased the moment the mage's body struck the floor.

Lysette turned to the Norseman, tears streaming from her eyes, and collapsed into Thoren's waiting arms. Wendolin and the others rose from the floor and with the minstrel walked to the fallen master mage.

Weakly, Zordemon spoke to the minstrel. "Minstrel, you and your friends have won. I yield the day. Minstrel, I am contrite. Save me, Minstrel. Please save me... Angel, I beg of you... I know your power, Seraph. You are the Angel Jayhawk. You can save me."

The others in the Company looked at the minstrel. He lowered his head and a transformation began. In place of the minstrel of days passed, stood a tall, brilliantly shining, white garbed figure unfolding ebony wings. Some among the company who had no understanding stepped back in awe and some amount of fear. Thoren saw the ancient tales of his family become real before him. Lysette revived in Thoren's arms and flashed the emerging Seraph her beaming smile from before.

Jayhawk approached the dying mage. Zordemon pleaded once more. "You have the power Seraph to save me. Use it, please." Jayhawk looked down upon Zordemon. "As you commanded, I honor the Law of the Heavens, evil one. You have directed me to do nothing to you this day. I accept and obey your command."

A foul curse laced with epithets passed across Zordemon's lips even as his final breath left his body. Jayhawk offered a fitting observation. "You have gained your fondest dream, Mage. You are among none but the evil now, for all eternity..."

Jayhawk turned to the others. "There is much work to be done." He glanced at Benson who was alive but breathing erratically. "And I have much to make right once more."

Thoren looked into Lysette's eyes. "And you have year's of explaining to do." She smiled and kissed him full on the lips.

Wendolin, as did Jayhawk, knew the quest was not over. The Silver Chalice of the Hill People was their next objective. Zordemon's curse might still obstruct them along the way.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-14-2000).]

posted 06-15-00 01:19 ET (US)     90 / 150       
Oooopsie fixed...duh! MRed
Eminence Grise
posted 06-15-00 04:44 ET (US)     91 / 150       
In the days that followed the vision they had seen began to fade from the Companions memory. All that was left a memory of the mage cursing the minstrel, or at least with most of them. The Elven Queen had known all along there was more to Jayhawk then met the eye and Thoren had this nagging feeling in the back of his head that there had been more. However, when he asked, Lysette just smiled and silenced him with a kiss.
Thoren didn't mind being silenced like that.

In the early days after their victory Wendolin had overseen the destriction of Zordamon's keep. Prisoner's were released, some of whom had been locked up for more than 20 years.

It turned out that Thoren's father had indeed perished on the battlefield and the young Norseman was now embroiled in talking to his chiefs and settling his kingdom. Lysette was never far from him.

Jayhawk had been seen often with the strange young woman that rode the even stranger animal. Then one day she and her animal were gone. When asked, the minstrel replied that she had arrived from a far away country and that he'd contacted a mage friend of theirs that had called her back.
He did seem strangely melancholic for a few days after she'd left and most of the airs he played were sad songs of loves lost.

Benson, still numbed by the loss of his cat companion had left with the remains of the Brightsparrian army. Chunky had been conviced by a few of the younger Elves that adventures were to be found in the nearby forests and had take his leave. Randorian had elected to stay and supervise the building of a wizard's tower where the keep used to be and was busy digging through the spell books and magical treasures left by the Black Mage.

Then one fine morning, when wounds were healed and minds were set to rest, a small group rode South from the destroyed. Wendolin, Gillandra and Eme Redser rode in the lead, followed by Jayhawk, carrying the Chalice in his packs, and Lysette, with Thoren bringing up their rear.
The Norseman had eveaded his councellors to be able to see the spirits of the Hill People laid to rest.

Civis Romanus
posted 06-15-00 12:06 ET (US)     92 / 150       
Benson: If you are still with us. It was not my intention for the panther to be deceased. If I have offended by leading the plot in that direction this is my apology. Do not blame Jayhawk. I was the setup guy.

TO OTHERS: This post has been revised and new content added.


Randorian settled back in an easy chair in his castle, built on the same grounds as Zordemon's decades before. His castle
stood undamaged, without even a hint of the siege besetting it only a few weeks before. The Goblins had disappeared as if they had never been. So had the damage to the castle's three walls.

As the aged mage's eyes began to close for an afternoon's nap, his thoughts wandered towards Lysette and how the past was changed to affect the present. His mind wandered further down the path of time travel and event alteration. The complex conundrums he conceived were relieved by the noisy snores marking the beginning of his afternoon's respite. Soon Randorian thought of nothing at all, instead he drew strength from sleep in the peace of his stone home.


In the quiet calm of the journey south, Thoren took the opportunity to speak with Lysette about the events of the past few weeks.

Thoren maneuvered Vorth closer to Lysette's chestnut mount so he could be heard. Lysette looked up at him, smiling. "Lysette, the Chroniclers of the Lodge are asking me questions I cannot answer clearly without your help. May I ask you these questions."

"Of course, Thoren."

"How were you able to enlist the aid of the Elves? These beings have not been especially friendly towards humans in the past."

"Eme-Redser, through Randorian, revealed to me my mixed heritage of elf and human bloodlines. Zordemon's behavior already had sparked distrust and fear in the Elven lands. Incidents with Goblins were increasing and Vargs were preying on Elves regularly. The Elven King's daughter, saved by Chunky, was mistakenly thought to have been killed by Chunky. After Chunky fled for his life, the Elven King discovered it was the work of Goblins. Chunky feared Elves needlessly throughout the Quest. I used my Elven blood ties and their restored goodwill to convince the Elves to join the battle."

Thoren considered Lysette's explanation then asked his next question. "Why did Zordemon consider you an ally?"

"I placed a thought in his mind that I had returned to help him. He did not realize that his spell of 'blind obediance' had been removed. He also did not realize that I had spent 5 years away from his world and that I had been taught spell casting by Randorian. He assumed I had been gone only days and his power over me was as complete as before. Zordemon's fatal weakness was his lack of mystical power to see the future. In the present he was a powerful force to reckon with."

"Lysette, could we have won by force of arms?"

"Never, Thoren. It was the power of magic and something else that held Zordemon at bay and finally defeated him. Not the soldiers, not the knife."

Thoren's expression became puzzled. "What 'something else' are you referring to?"

"Love, my dear," replied Lysette with a knowing look on her face.

Thoren continued to gaze at the woman riding by his side. He remembered the girl he rescued and considered the woman she had become. Five years lost, but a woman gained. Magic is something to be respected he concluded, and in her case, to be forever appreciated.

"One last thing, Lysette. There was a being, an entity. Someone else in the chamber. I can hardly remember. Human, but not really human. Am I imagining these things?"

Lysette looked at him with warm hazel eyes shining in the morning sun. "Hush, my love. It was only the product of your wounds and the fever. It was only a dream."

Thoren looked down at the exposed area of his arm and the place where he had been wounded in the battle with the Zordarkians on the grounds. It had healed quickly, almost unnoticeably. He had no fever he could recall; but then, maybe it was the work of the fever that made him forget the pain of the swords' impact that cut his arm and shoulder and the resulting fever he may have had." Thoren shook his head deciding to bury the confusion once and finally.

The minstrel smiled to himself. He was aware of the dialogue between the two, as he was aware of virtually all that had passed and would pass. It was better they didn't remember the angel, he thought. Let it be the lowly minstrel instead. It is for the best. But watching the two brought back fleeting memories of the strange lady on the strange beast and the times they shared. The minstrel sadly drew forth his lute and strummed a melancholy tune to ease his lonliness.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-15-2000).]

posted 06-15-00 15:44 ET (US)     93 / 150       
(Nice exit for me, thanks Jayhawk. I've tried to keep up with story, but have been way too busy. Maybe in the next leg of the adventure. Hope no one minds if I make a final contribution...)

The band of weary travellers sat round a large campfire, discussing the next day's travel. There was some consternation as to whether they should continue due South, or veer Southwest in their quest.

The minstrel was idly strumming his lute and thinking of gentle long-trunked animals...herds of them, as he'd seen in his past.

Just then, the air directly in front of him started to shimmer. Everyone was immediately on their guard. "What's happening?" Lysette asked. Thoren put his arm protectively around her.

"Whatever it is, it's definitely magic," Wendolin replied.

A ball of golden light began to glow, then took the shape of a thick scroll. Its transformation complete, it dropped at Jayhawk's feet.

"Be careful," Eme-Redser cautioned as he picked it up.

Jayhawk untied the scroll's silken ribbon, broke its wax seal, unfurled it and began to read. His face lit up. "It's from Incontinentia!" he cried.

Everyone gathered round him to look at the odd piece of mail. "What's that strange writing?" Thoren asked.

"That's Latin," Jayhawk replied. "Incon's a Brittanian, but she was educated in Rome. Here, I'll read it for you:

'Dear gang,

Sorry I couldn't stay as long as I'd've liked. Those time travel spells only last so long, Titanicus tells me. Good to have met you all, glad Tusky and I were able to help in some small way, and ruddy relieved to be out of that blinking dungeon.

Place was a complete mess when I got back - paperwork like you wouldn't believe. Anyhoo, in my absence some workers sinking a new well in one of the Northern Provinces broke through to an underground cave, and found the enclosed. Looks like something that could help you with your quest. Mars alone knows how it ended up in a northern cave in our time. Titanicus is completely stumped.

He's whipped up this little "delivery" spell to ensure it gets to you. Hope this helps. Take good care of yourselves, and watch out for those nasty goblin-thingies.

All my love. With kind regards,

Incontinentia of Rome.'"

Jayhawk squinted at the bottom of the page. "'PS: Please give those nice elven chappies my warmest greetings, and tell them Yes, elephants are completely tameable and quite friendly toward all woodland folk. And thank them for the kind donations to the RSPCE. Ta - Incon.'"

"The 'RSPCE'?" Lysette queried.

"It's a...a long story," Jayhawk replied as he unwrapped the small parcel attached to the scroll. Unfolding a large, tinted and colour-stained piece of parchment, he spread it on the ground so they could all see.

"It looks like a map," Eme-Redser commented.

"It is," Wendolin's voice gathered excitement, "- it's the very countryside we're in, and the surrounding Lands!"

"What's that piece of metal it was wrapping?" Thoren asked.

"I've seen these before," Gillandra said, picking up the large round brass disk with a clear jewelled centre. "It's a compass. A particularly rare type. It's been imbued with a form of spellcasting that enables it to work with specially prepared maps."

"How do you figure out your direction?" Thoren gazed at the mysterious symbols etched into the amulet.

"You don't use it for that," Gillandra informed them. "It's for finding objects, not direction. If memory serves, you've got to glide it over the map until...something happens, I suppose."

"This could be the map," Lysette said hopefully, pointing to the parchment.

"Hm. But - what would something this magical be doing in Ancient Brittania?" Wendolin wondered.

"Brittania is a strange place itself, at times," Jayhawk said. "And, this wouldn't be the first instance of time travel we've seen so far. I say we try it, and see what happens."

Everyone nodded in agreement. Taking the amulet, Jayhawk slid it slowly across the map, working outward from the location Wendolin estimated them to be resting in. At one green-tinted section, a faint blue glow began to emanate from the compass's crystal centre...

[This message has been edited by Incontinentia (edited 06-15-2000).]

posted 06-15-00 19:03 ET (US)     94 / 150       
'Ahhh....'cried Wendolin 'See how it glows around the great city of Lisnovar in the Realm of Lisendonaire!!'

The group sat fascinated for quite a while, before she spoke again. 'Jayhawk, I believe this is a sign that we must travel to that beautiful realm. I have heard rumours in the past that along the Candescent Creek there lies a beautiful waterfall, with glistening pools supposed to have magical powers'. Perhaps this is the pure springwater we need to place in the challice before we can free the Hill People?

'We have but one day's travel before we reach Gardath - Tomas, who said he had some important business in the town, has ridden ahead and is expecting to meet us there. I suggest we head east to Gardath, then due southeast, along the Trickledown River (through the Realm of Torvold) to get to Lisnovar. What say you all?'

Civis Romanus
posted 06-15-00 21:58 ET (US)     95 / 150       
Incon: How could any of us mind! Thanks for the continuation.

Thoren scratched his head. "Well I, for one, was sure the spring water we seek was in the Spectre Woods where we first came upon the spirits of the Hill People. I seem to recall a small spring-fed pond and a trickling creek. But maybe that was too simple a solution." Thoren laughed (something new to Thoren was the newly developed nearly ready laugh - Lysette again, no doubt). "Oh well, I should have known this like our other quests would be anything but simple. Anyway, if it's what we must do to fulfill our promise to the Hill People... You say we will pass through Torvold? I'd like nothing better. I'm in!"

Wendolin glanced at Lysette knowing the answer in advance. Nonetheless, Lysette answered promptly, "I go where Thoren goes." And that was that.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-15-2000).]

posted 06-16-00 01:48 ET (US)     96 / 150       
Eme-Redser, having passed around a bunch of herbals (those that were left after Incon had taken her share), was contemplating whatever was in the pocket she was looking at, looked up and said, "I am in, too. I guess that last battle has me looking forward to some peace and quiet...."

Little did she know........

Civis Romanus
posted 06-16-00 11:18 ET (US)     97 / 150       
On the road again, this time east towards Torvold, Thoren asked Lysette one last question nagging at him about the battle before Zordemon's Keep.

"Just as the battle began," asked Thoren, "the ground dried up and the sky cleared. How did you do that?"

Lysette laughed. "Actually, I didn't do that. Remember the forest and the old woman who became the Earth Spirit?" Thoren nodded. "She helped us."

"And the clear skies?" pressed Thoren.

"Her friend the Sky Spirit, of course."

Thoren's brow wrinkled. "Why? We never met or became involved with him."

"The Sky Spirit and the Earth Spirit are very good friends. They've been together for a long time. I'm sure she found a way to convince him to help." Then Lysette winked at Thoren, laughed and gave her horse a gentle urging, leaving the Norseman alone for the moment with his confused thoughts.

Lysette caught up with Wendolin to ask a question that had been troubling her. "Paladin, in all of the confusion around Zordemon's Keep, I've lost track of something."

Wendolin responded, "And what is that, Lysette."

"We undertook our quest to retrieve the Cloak of Z'al and afterwards, the Silver Chalice. The minstrel carries the Silver Chalice."

"Yes, that is correct."

Lysette frowned and asked the question most on her mind. "Where is the Cloak?"

posted 06-16-00 12:33 ET (US)     98 / 150       
As the party sat there looking at each other with the look of I thought you had it they heard the sound of a horse coming toward them.. They turned and looked and saw a familiar figure approaching them. He waved as he approached. He sat taller in the saddle that they remembered and the haggard look was gone from his eyes. He was smiling and humming to himself as he approached as he got closer the noticed that he was stroking the fur of a panther cup that was riding on the horse with him.

"Hail, My fellow traveling companions. I am glad I caught up with you so soon. I was afraid I would have to chase you across the 4 land but I see fortune and smiled on me and here you are." He said spreading his hand out.

The all look at him wander was this the same person who has silently slipped out only of few days before. Wendolin was the first to break the silence.

"It is good to see you again so soon Benson. What brings our in search of us anyway?"

To answer her question he turned around and took a bundle wrapped in a blanket and tossed it to the Paladin. "I thought you might be looking for this." he said.

Wendolin opened the package and found the Cloak they were just wondering about. She looked at him and he seemed to know her question as he spoke before she could.

"When I left I took the bodies of my brothers to be buried as I had promise my Grandfather many years ago on his death bed. I realized that I had taken the cloak with me by accident. So after I buried them where they will never be disturbed. I came in search of you." He paused for a second. "I never knew Zonderman was my brother, I was told he as an uncle by my grandfather and now I can see the wisdom of why he did that. I want to thank you for all you help in bringing this sad chapter in our family history to a completion. I have been walking with this burden so long that is strange not having it any more. I have dreaded this for so long that is a real relief to have it over." He stopped and was silent for a minute before he continued. He looked at Jayhawk and smiled. "I knew when I walked into that Inn many months ago that it was time. I know because y'all were there just as it was revealed to me. Again thank you.."

"Shall we go on then" with that he nudged his horse on and the party started on their way. Benson moved his horse along side of Jayhawk. "Thank you for all you did Minstrel. My grandfather told me to say thank you from him also, when this was over...some of us have a better memory than you might think.." He gave the minstrel a smile and moved to ride at the front of the party.

[This message has been edited by Benson (edited 06-16-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-19-00 01:07 ET (US)     99 / 150       
"It is good to have Benson back with us again," said Thoren to Lysette. "Do you see he has a new panther with him?"

"Yes," she said. "Cute little thing. I wonder if it has the same special abilities the first panther had. So tragic for Benson. By the time the conflict ended, his panther was beyond help from natural healers or magic. A brave animal that deserved the hero's treatment we gave it afterwards."

"Yes..." said Thoren, his voice trailing off into silence. It seemed to Lysette that Thoren's thoughts had wandered to somewhere else once more. "Thoren? Are you listening?"

"Hm... What? Oh, yes. Sad about his panther."

"That's not what you're thinking about right now is it," she said matter-of-factly.

"No. Not really."

"What is it then?"

Thoren looked at her, his blue eyes radiating melancholy, his general facial expression one of sadness.

"In my land this is the day we honor our fathers... I miss him, Lysette. I truly miss him." Lysette noticed a moistness about his eyes, this man of courage and action. With the maturity of 5 added years, she saw the little boy that once was Thoren, and who now missed a father killed in battle against Zordemon. She yearned to comfort him by holding him in her arms, but now was not the time or place. Instead she found words she hoped would soothe him.

"He's always with you Thoren. In your mind and your soul. Would that I could say the same for myself, but I was taken from my father at a very young age and hardly knew him." A thought occurred to her. "May I make your father mine too?"

Thoren's smile returned at last. "I know he would have been proud to call you daughter."

"And I am proud to call him father," replied Lysette. "And to call his son my husband."

"But I haven't asked you yet," Thoren protested.

"You will," said Lysette with a twinkle in her eye. "You will."

Thoren stared at her for a moment; then melancholy departed and he joined her in a hearty laugh.

"What's so funny back there?" Benson asked the minstrel. The Minstrel smiled a knowing smile. "Benson, you won't always be a wanderer. It is then you will remember back to this day and understand what they were laughing about."

Benson shook his head. "Minstrel, must you always be so cryptic and mysterious?"

The minstrel smiled and replied, "As a matter of fact, yes..." Eme-Redser quietly laughed, as did Wendolin and Gillandra.

The panther cub purred contentedly bathed in the warmth it collected nestled in Benson's arm.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-19-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 06-19-00 15:45 ET (US)     100 / 150       
Gillandra, usually the quiet one, broke the silence among the three women travelling as a trio in the center of the Company. "Wendolin or Eme-Redser, can someone please tell me where we are?"

Eme-Redser was the one who responded first. "We are just this side west of the Northeastern Glooming Mountains according to Wendolin's map. We've skirted the north side of the Murky Swamp and are following the course of the Trickledown River, sort of. Gardath is south and behind us and we're at the farside of the last grove of trees between ourselves and the mountains. Those are the Glooming Mountains you see before you."

"I'd say that covers it pretty well," commented Wendolin. "That mountain range forms the border with Torvold. Past the peak of that range and we'll be in Thoren's land."

Gillandra gazed eastward. "Anything we should be wary of in those mountains?"

"No, not really," replied Wendolin. "The Goblins are in the South and are not a factor now that their numbers are greatly diminished and Zordemon isn't around to stir them up. But I have heard tales of the Glooming Gnomes."


"Yes, smallish chaps," said Eme-Redser. "We elves have had some contact with them, but they generally are secretive. Keep to themselves. They tend to flee if noticed and usually keep to the mountains except to draw water from the Trickledown River. Nothing to fear, I think."

"Good," said Gillandra.


Thoren sensed rather than heard the arrows flight and its collision with the tree near his head. He ducked his head as quickly as he could. Nonetheless, he felt the distinct disturbance of the air near where his neck would have been if he hadn't ducked.

"The others immediately reined in their horses and looked about trying to find the arrow's origin. No luck. No obvious source. The countryside was quiet once more. Nothing stirred anywhere. Thoren reached up and pulled the arrow out of the tree. There was a piece of paper tied around the arrow's somewhat short shaft. Thoren handed the arrow to Eme-Redser who looked it over very carefully.

Thoren could barely read the scrawl on the note, but with some effort he made out these words and read them out loud to his companions: "Thoren of Torvold - Do not enter your former Realm. I and the others claim it now. Enter it and you and your companions shall die. This is your only warning."

Thoren looked at Lysette. "Something has happened, Lysette. And I don't know what."

Eme-Redser looked up from her inspection with a frown. "This arrow is not elf-made nor human-made. I would say no Goblin's hands touched this thing." She paused again. "By its size and design, I would say this is the handiwork of a gnome." Her expression changed from concern to puzzlement. "But why? Why gnomes? Why now?" No one, including Eme-Redser, could answer these questions then and there.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 06-19-2000).]

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