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Topic Subject:Quest for the Cloak of Zal - Part 2
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Wendoolicus
Guest
posted 05-09-00 16:45 ET (US)         
ACTIVE CHARACTERS
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

MAIN QUEST

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.

SUB-QUESTS

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).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-17-00 22:14 ET (US)     26 / 150       
MRed: Not a problem. You couldn't have known what I was planning. But you did pick up on my cue and consoled Lysette. Thanks. Let's just see what fun we can have with the new twist.


All of the while she was helping Gillandra one thought kept crossing Lysette's hard working mind: Just how old am I anyway? It was sure to keep her mind occupied and off of the subject of Thoren for hours to come. And so it did.

All that day, Benson forged ahead with his panther scouting out the land they would travel tomorrow. He returned to camp just before sunset. The way was clear. They could leave tomorrow and safely make their way to the Titan Hills and the Plateau of Dispar beyond.

Clenden conversed with Wendolin about the campaign to rid the land of Zordemon The Black. He accepted his charge to raise an army of Brightsparians to lay siege to the castle at Zordark and prepared to leave with his two associates on the morrow. Jayhawk appeared with three horses for the Brightsparians. Where had he found them? "Oh, out there...," said the minstrel with a casual wave of his hand. Wendolin rolled her eyes. I simply won't ask, she thought.

Thoren pledged to honor the pact he made with Clenden. Little Marcus the Cherub was dispatched to Thoren's land of Torvold to advise the Chief of the pact. The winged creature cheerfully took flight carrying Thoren's gold earring as proof of the origin of his message. Convinced of the strength of Eme-Redser's magic, Thoren felt the time and opportunity was right to conjoin the magic possessed by the Elven Queen with the military strength of the House of Torvold. The Norsemens' hesitancy should now be ended.

Eme-Redser kept to herself most of this time doing things only an Elven Queen would know and understand. From time to time she would look up from her work at one or the other of the party. Usually she would do so with a blank expression, but twice as she looked at individuals around her, her expression changed to one of deep sadness. Tragedy would strike these two, she knew; but it would be wrong and not the Elven Way to warn them of it now. Fate must be served, not obstructed or revealed. That is the Elven Way.

Night descended and morning came all too soon...

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-18-00 16:08 ET (US)     27 / 150       
The Brightsparians departed at first light. Marcus was winging his way East towards Torvold. Wendolin's questors mounted their horses and headed North towards the Titan Hills. Jayhawk found a horse for the young lad they rescued from the room that still holds the Staff of Purgatory. He was capable of travelling now, thanks to the healing salves of Gillandra.

Lysette spurred her horse, Leeta, over to and close to Thoren. The Norseman noticed her approach and waited until Leeta was shoulder to shoulder in parallel with his horse, Vorth. He then leaned over in his saddle, grasped Lysette's left hand in his right hand and gave it a welcoming squeeze. The smile on his face was warm and friendly. His blue eyes focussed on her hazel eyes as if to say "I'm glad you're with me."

The girl's heart began to pound uncontrollably. A pink flush began at the base of her neck and unstoppably rose upwards finding its most direct way to her cheeks, her forehead and finally her ears. By the time Thoren released her hand, Lysette was already feeling so light she barely noticed the movement of the horse under her. With her free right hand she unconsciously began to fan her face to bring some coolness to it, while returning Thoren's smile with a very bright smile of her own. She guided Leeta with her legs in the manner of the Angles and Saxons. Together they rode with the questors towards the Titan Hills.

Randorian noticed the exchange in front of him and turned to look at Eme-Redser who rode beside him that day. She returned his gaze noticing the young man's bemused expression. The Elven Queen merely smiled and returned to looking straight ahead at the hills looming before them. Lysette shouldn't worry so much, thought Eme-Redser. She has a far greater hold over Thoren than she thinks.

Her reverie was disturbed by her view of an odd change in the heights above the Titan Hills. Angry clouds were building at an unnatural pace over the hills and begining to spread over the plain on which they traveled. This is not right she thought.

Eme-Redser shouted her warning out loud. "Wendolin, I see a problem ahead! Take care!"

MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-18-00 19:37 ET (US)     28 / 150       
Wendolin knew better than to question the Elven Queen, and shouted over her shoulder, "Which way?"

Eme-Redser shouted back, "To the left and through the pass!"

Wendolin turned her horse and thundered toward the pass, with the others right on her heels.

The entire group slowed just on the other side of the pass, sheltered for the moment under a ledge of rock. They all looked at each other in consternation, and as one, turned to Eme-Redser for an explanation......

"I noticed that the clouds were tinged on the edges with green, and that only means one thing to me. Those clouds were formed by evil magic, and there is no evil within our group.....We must proceed with all caution, and those who are weaker must stay within the center of the group. Otherwise, we will not be able to defend you. Jayhawk and I will go first, and Wendolin and Thoren should bring up the back. The others of the stronger should maintain the edges, and we MUST stay tightly packed together. I will be able to enclose us in a protective shield for a while, with help, but we must stay very close. Whoever goes outside of the shield will surely die....." Eme-Redser spoke with grim determination in her voice.

None of the group made any sound of disagreement, and they assembled as the Elven Queen had decreed. No-one noticed the small words, "with help" except for Jayhawk, who knew they were directed at him.....They proceeded with caution, all of them with all senses alert, and weapons near to hand. Eme-Redser closed her eyes briefly, and a faint humming noise could be heard all around them. There appeared to be a faint orange band glowing around all of them. They moved slowly forward, and kept together....

All of a sudden, before them appeared.............

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 05-18-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-18-00 21:41 ET (US)     29 / 150       
All of a sudden, before them appeared a shimmering image of a face, the image being tinged in the same green that tinged the boiling clouds over head. The face spoke:

"I am Zordemon, Lord of the Realm of Safaervold. WHO ARE YOU!"

"No one," answered Wendolin. "Travellers."

This did not satisfy or please the evil image floating before them. "WHO ARE YOU!" it repeated.

"I already told you," replied Wendolin cooly, calmly.

"YOU ARE THE PALADIN. YOU AND YOUR PITIFUL 'ARMY' HAVE INVADED MY REALM. BEGONE LEST I DESTROY YOU WHERE YOU STAND!"

"If you knew who we were, why did you bother to ask? By the way, you've tried to destroy us already, Zordemon. We were quite unimpressed with your failures."

Zordemon's disembodied face turned noticeably red as anger welled up to fill it. "YOU THINK TO MOCK ME PALADIN?! YOU PUNY EXCUSE FOR A WARRIOR! YOU WOULD NOT DARE MEET ME ALONE AND FACE TO FACE. YOU HAVEN'T THE COURAGE!"

Wendolin formed a wry smile on her face before answering. "You're right, Zordemon, a face like yours would strike fear into anything that's human. Didn't your mother have any children that lived?"

The others in the party snickered. The floating image of Zordemon's face shimmied, flared brightly even as the redness of his face intensified and his eyes very nearly appeared to be bulging outwards in their sockets. Zordemon was very angry indeed, observed Wendolin. She looked back at the others. "Stay together, now," she said.

"YOU MISCREANT WENCH WITH YOUR RUNNING DOGS... BEHOLD THE POWER OF ZORDEMON..." The face quickly faded out and boiling clouds lowered noticeably. Suddenly, the heavens were split asunder by blinding flashes of lightning that struck all about and onto the protective shield of the huddled group. Ear-splitting thunder followed immediately on the heels of each strike. Hailstones the size of walnuts pounded mercilessly on them, but none passed through the shield.

Eme-Redser was straining to maintain the shield. Veins on her neck stood out as the onslaught continued. Jayhawk too appeared stressed, more so to the others than at anytime since he joined the quest. His eyes were flashing myriad colors of green, gold and red. Randorian, closest to him, saw the deep concentration on his face and the age lines that seemed to become visible with each passing moment. One lightning strike after another hit home. Each time, a line deepened on Jayhawk's face or formed where one had never been before. Randorian was puzzled. Was it pain or fear? He had never known the minstrel to look this way before, or ever be fearful in the face of the many dangers they had faced before.

Then, with nearly equal suddenness, the onslaught of electrical charges and hailstones ended. The image of Zordemon's face appeared once more. But the face was haggard, creased and ancient in appearance. Hair that was black was now streaked in gray. His eyes were dull and colorless. "We shall meet again, Paladin," the face said in a nearly imperceptable whisper. Then the image faded from sight.

Eme-Redser's eyes were closed and she teetered in her saddle, nearly falling out except for the very quick reaction of Randorian who leaned over to steady the Elven Queen.

Jayhawk was slumped in his saddle. Slowly he began to elevate himself to his normal sitting heighth. Randorian could see the lines on his face begin to fade and the normal color of his eyes return. The humming sound around them had ceased when Zordemon's face disappeared for the last time. The others appeared to be unharmed.

Jayhawk breathed deeply to refresh himself. New thoughts crossed his mind. This Zordemon is indeed very powerful. We must not underestimate his power. The closer we get, the more powerful he will be. We have won this day, but there is no guarantee we will win the next. We must be exceedingly careful.

Quietly, they progressed across the plain beyond the Titan Hills and into the area of the Plateaus of Dispar. Camp was made, and for the first time since the journey began, Gillandra provided each traveller a demitasse cup filled with a spirited elixir. "The time is right, methinks, to enjoy this special brew," she said as she poured each a small amount. They all brought their cups up in toast to each other, then brought their cups to their lips. And indeed they each enjoyed their elixir... to their very last drop.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 05-19-00 05:01 ET (US)     30 / 150       
Morning broke, the landscape covered in a light dusting of snow. Breath clouded into small white puff the companions prepared breakfast.
"Snow, " Benson muttered, "at this time of the year?"
"This is a wild area, my friend" Jayhawk replied, craddling a mug of mulled wine in his slender fingers.
"It's not by chance that th eplateua you see ahead of you is named Despair."

They looked at the wall of rock that rose a mile or so away.
"Is there a road where we can take the horses along?" Chunky asked.
"I remember a path, " the minstrel replied. "It should see us up there..."

In silence they packed and rode closer. The cliffs of reddish sandstone rose above them, higher and higher, until they seemed ready to fall on and crush their small party. Jayhawk, with Wendolin beside him rode along the escarpment for half an hour until he stopped at what looked like a tangle of briar-rose and bramble. The white blossoming bramble twined with the pale pink roses.

"It's beautiful..." Lysette remarked and reached for a blossom.
"Ouch!"
She pulled back her hand a fiery scratch running along it. Closer inspection showed the thorns on the roses were inch long and deep black. Small birds and animals were impaled on them and the flower the girl reached seemed to pulse with blood red veins.

"We need to go through."
The minstrel looked at the Elven Queen, who nodded. She closed her eyes and the plantlife started to writhe and twist and a path opened between them. The party crossed, single file and as Eme-Redser, relinquished her concentrations the vines rolled back like the tide.

Up they rode in the gully, snow could still be seen in the shadowy nooks, but quickly the temperature rose.
And rose.
And rose.

Then evening fell and with it the temperature dropped like a stone. They made a small camp, shivering in the bitter cold, the flames of the small campfire seemed frozen. Huddled close, wrapped in cloaks and blankets they fell into a miserable sleep. Somewhere an animal howled, with the voice of the damned.

The next morning the continued upwards and several hours later they arrived at the end of the gully and rode out on to the plateau.
"Behold the Plateau of Despair" Jayhawk said as they took in the desolate landscape. A flat plain stretched as far they could see. The airalready shimmering in the morning heat. White bleached skeletons of trees broke the monotony, but not the desolation.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-19-00 15:59 ET (US)     31 / 150       
They traversed a distance across the barren, desolate elevated flat of the plateau. The sun was positioned high in the sky as the heat of the afternoon began its daily onslaught on all below. Suddenly the light failed, then reappeared, as if something waved its hand across the face of the sun temporarily blocking its bright rays.

A nearly ear deafening screetch slammed into them from somewhere above. A whoooshing sound followed the screetch.

"There!" yelled Chunky. "In the sky!"

Two great claws passing overhead barely missed the swordsman even as he pointed in the general direction of the source of the high pitched sound.

"A Roc," hissed Eme-Redser as she recognized the sound and the look of the giant bird. "This is Zordemon's work!" she called out to the others. "Find shelter, NOW!"

Benson stood his ground fitting arrow to bow. He let one fly straight and true into the side of the bird... The arrow bounced off. "It's no good, Benson, no arrow can penetrate its feathers," warned the Elven Queen.

They scattered, but there was no shelter. Yet the bird seemed to have some specific intent. It pursued Thoren and Lysette even as they fled together away from the others to seek shelter. Once, twice, thrice the bird swooped to grasp at one of the two. On the fourth try, its claws found its target. Lysette was lifted from her horse and pulled rapidly skywards to be carried northwards. Thoren swiftly reined his horse in to turn and thwart the bird. Too late. The Norseman could do nothing but rage at the disappearing Roc and at Zordemon.

__________________________________

Zordemon's Keep...

The Roc slowed its descent onto the wide balcony just outside of Zordemon's personal chambers. The bird gently lowered Lysette to the balcony's floor. She was unhurt, but exceedingly frightened. She looked upwards to see the Roc once again in flight leaving her behind. She looked to her sides and back and to the front... no escape except through the open portal in front. It immediately was filled by a tallish man, nearly as tall as Jayhawk, with a distinctive yet evil expressioned face. She had seen the face once before in a shimmering image on the plain beyond the Titan Hills. It was Zordemon The Black.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-19-2000).]

MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-20-00 09:16 ET (US)     32 / 150       
Lysette stood there trembling, and then suddenly she remembered the words Eme-Redser had spoken just as she was lifted from her horse......"Lysette, in fear, turn your thoughts to me.........." Lysette stood her ground as Zordemon moved ever closer to her.

She shut her eyes, and concentrated on Eme-Redser's face. Soon her mind was a blank, solely connected to the Elven Queen.....


Back at the plateau, Eme-Redser stopped her horse suddenly, and with a mighty shout, she jumped to the ground.

"What? What is it?" Thoren looked at the Elven Queen in consternation.

"Shhhhhhhhh!" Jayhawk cautioned the group. "Let her concentrate. Lysette is communicating with her."

At that, the group fell silent, and all watched as the expression on the Queen's face changed from gladness to hatred.

"SO!! That evil demon Zordemon has her.....and he is walking ever closer to her. Jayhawk, Wendolin, Gillandra, to me......" Those whose names she had spoken drew near to her, and they all clasped hands.

"NOW!!!" Eme-Redser shouted.

All of them closed their eyes and sank to the ground. the rest of the group watched closely as the air around the small group shimmered and changed colors. The magic swirling around their heads was visible to the rest of the group, and in the maelstrom, they saw many frightening creatures flying.

Meanwhile, back at Zordemon's castle, Lysette, too, had sunk to the ground.

She kneeled there quietly, a sweet expression on her face. This expression appeared to have a devastating effect on Zordemon. He raised his arms and shouted,

"............


[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 05-20-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-20-00 15:52 ET (US)     33 / 150       
"ELVEN QUEEN, SHE IS MINE! THIS BATTLE YOU SHALL NOT WIN!"
Zordemon balled his fists above his head and slowly lowered his arms until his fists were knuckle facing knuckle, about 1 foot apart. He then slowly began to bring them together.

Lysette never changed expression or posture but stayed in communication with Eme-Redser the whole time. Closer and closer Zordemon moved his fists until at last they touched.

An explosion of light and heated air blew the circle of friends apart from each other on the plateau. None were hurt, but all were lying on their backs stunned. Eme-Redser revived first. "AGAIN!" she cried. They foggily rejoined hands and tried to concentrate once more. After what seemed a lifetime of trying Eme-Redser dropped her hands and broke the circle. "It is no use, my friends. Zordemon's shield is now too strong to recreate the link. Or Lysette can no longer reach us..." She lowered her head sadly. Thoren's heart quaked at the implications.

Lysette, stunned by the concussive effects of Zordemon's magic, had passed out when the connection with the Elven Queen broke. She awoke somewhere else... a chamber unknown to her. She tried to rise. She couldn't move. Her legs, arms, hands, chest and head were belted to the flat elevated surface of a stone slab. All she could do was stare at the wavering images in midair above.

Visions of her journey and her friends appeared, disappeared, changed and reappeared anew. Her ill treatment by the 'master'; meeting Thoren in the Inn; wolves attacking; bees stinging; trussed up by the Goblins; the Roc; seeing Thoren fade into the distance and disappear as the Roc carried her to Zordemon's Keep; Zordemon The Dark. All true to her memory.

Then the scenes took on a sinister new twist. Benson lay dead on the desolate plateau, his body pierced by five arrows. Chunky's body now appeared, but his head was gone. Eme-Redser, Wendolin, Randorian and Gillandra, even Tomas... All were revealed to her in a state of death and dismemberment. Then a living Jayhawk appeared, suspended from a tree by his wrists, fighting for breath, suffering the agony of slow suffocation. "THESE CAN'T BE REAL!" she cried out.

"But my Dear, they are," came a silky smooth voice. "So sorry to have to show you these... images. But I think it best you know the truth. Your friends have lost. You are all that is left." Zordemon ceased to speak to the bound up girl.

"YOU LIE! You have not shown me Thoren!" Tears had already formed in her eyes as the pain of the visions assaulted her emotions. "He lives!"

"Oh, I must have forgot." A new scene formed before her refocussing eyes. The scene expanded and slowly zoomed towards a figure lying prone on a pebbled, dry plain. Something black, pink-headed and ugly moved about on top of the body. The zooming view edged closer and closer and closer. The body of the vulture tearing chunks of flesh from the mangled corpse hid the victim's face. But what Lysette could see looked all so familiar.

Unexpectedly, the vulture shifted position revealing the face. Lysette cried out in grief mingled in anger... "NO! NOT THOREN! NOT THOREN!"

Tears flowed freely from Lysette's eyes, but not down her cheeks. Tied as she was to the stone slab her tears rolled out of the outside corners of her eyes, down her temples... and into small cups affixed to her head before her ears. She hardly noticed as each small cup slowly collected her tears. Lysette cried uncontrollably and continued to do so even after the cups were filled with her tears and then were carefully removed by a smiling Zordemon.

"Take her to her cell," Zordemon said to two of his Zordarks standing near the chamber's entrance. He looked at the two small cups brimming with Lysette's tears of grief. "She has served her purpose for now."

The heavy metal door of the cold, stone walled cell slammed behind the agonized girl, who now found herself alone, friendless, in the dungeon of Zordemon's Keep. Tears flowed anew.

_____________________________________________

Meanwhile, on the Plateau of Despair, the travellors reviewed their plight...

MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-20-00 21:36 ET (US)     34 / 150       
"My friends, I regret to tell you this....I am not quite strong enough to help you all rescue her. I must call on one much stronger than myself to help us. I have put it off long enough, because I thought for sure that I would be able to do it alone.....I am so ashamed....." Eme-Redser hung her head, and turning, she walked slowly away from the group.

"Wait!!" Wendolin shouted. "We must all stay together, no matter what. Call who you will, we will continue to be strong enough with us all together........"

"I do not know. I feel my strength is no longer enough. Hold for a minute, and let me do what I must....." The Elven Queen whistled for R'edaine, who came flying (literally) to her side.

"Your horse can fly???????" Wendolin looked at Eme-Redser with her mouth open in astonishment.

"Yes!!? I thought you all knew that. I have ridden him so many times, and thought you all had seen us....." The Elven Queen looked almost as surprised as the rest of the group. "Now, R'edaine, do your best, and go swiftly for the one we have talked about. Hurry, R'edaine, else Lysette be lost to us forever."

R'edaine nickered softly, and with a small snuffle against the Elven Queen's shoulder, turned, and with a mighty snort, lifted into the air on the most beautiful, soft chocolate colored wings any of them had ever seen. While the group was turning to watch the magnificent sight, Eme-Redser shifted her carrier to the front of her, and reaching in to a pocket, withdrew a small canvas bag. She lifted the bag, and saying a small prayer, dumped its contents into her left hand.

The rest of the group gathered around her, and watched the items fall into her hand, one by one. They were.........

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 05-20-2000).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-21-00 17:48 ET (US)     35 / 150       
While Eme-Redser and the others examined the myriad small objects falling out of the Elven Queen's canvas sack, Redaine winged its way north towards Zordemon's Keep. It flew over the Murky Swamp and the River of Darkness. With deliberate beats of its chocolate brown wings, the horse approached ever closer to Zordemon's stronghold.

At the farthest perimeter of its sight, the horse saw something that caught its attention - a smallish figure stumbling across the plain a few kilometers beyond the Keep. The gates of the Keep were opening and riders were exiting in obvious pursuit.

The flying horse swooped downwards to get a closer look at the fleeing figure. It was Lysette. The horse permitted itself to gather more speed and accelerate its descent. The figure of the running, stumbling girl loomed ever larger.

Softly, the horse landed before the startled girl. "Redaine!" she exclaimed. "But how?" In that moment she heard the hoofsteps of the pursuing riders. She quickly made up her mind and mounted the waiting horse.

Lysette's breath nearly left her as the horse leaped into the air and began to fly. The pursuing riders arrived just as the horse became airborne. They let arrows fly, but none found their target. Lysette was free.

Zordemon, observing the pursuit from his vantage point in his Keep, smiled in satisfaction.

Benson
Pleb
posted 05-22-00 13:42 ET (US)     36 / 150       
Zondermon turned to and walked away from the window. Things were falling into place and all was working according to his plan. The intervention Jayhawk and Eme-Redser though unanticipated and unwelcome were just another inconvenience to his plan but the reappearance of Benson was troubling. He was sure Benson had left the 5 kingdoms to never return, or return too late to be able to interfere in his plans. Yet there he was ever much the enigma he was as a child.

He turned to his lieutenant Adolphus and said. "Your brother has worn out his welcome. Please see that he does not interfere with our plans. If you fail me.." he paused as the works of the old seer came out of the past to haunt him. She had told he would become great in power and might but to watch out or his plans would fall short. be wary Zondermon or you evil plans will be you death. Fate had see fit to grant you a chance to rule all but be wary for you death come from far way yet closer than you think. Your destruction I see comes from your own blood. These word had haunted his for many years. He knew when he heard them what they meant. His death you come from someone in his family. From that moment in time he had set out to make all his family his slave or dead. Now it was time to have the job finished. "Kill you brother and his companions and return Lysette to me unharmed." he finished then turned withdrew into his private study. “Remember that she will one day be your queen, Adolphus, so treat her accordingly.”
"Yes, Uncle." replied Adolphus as he turned to leave.

Zonderman smiled as he closed to door. Yes Lysette the vision I showed you will come true with your help and you will see your friend death then you will forever be mine.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-22-00 15:57 ET (US)     37 / 150       
NEW MATERIAL ADDED TO THIS POST. PLEASE RE-READ THIS INSTALLMENT BEFORE PROCEEDING.

Benson! So glad you're back. You've got a nifty character there and we missed the subtle characterization you brought to the story. Regarding Adolphus - Thoren doesn't know it yet but Adolphus is the leader of the gang who murdered Annika and her family. The gold bracelet Adolphus carries with "A" engraved on it will betray him eventually. However, Adolphus is Benson's to deal with. Thoren will assist at Benson's request. One other note: Lysette is not what she seems. Beware...

__________________________________________________

Redaine alighted smoothly in the evening's light near the traveller's camp. Lysette dismounted Eme-Redser's horse. The animal immediately whinnied to announce its presence. The camp promptly erupted into motion. Some drew swords defensively, others rushed forward to locate the sound.

Eme-Redser greeted the girl warmly as the others sheathed their swords or put down other myriad weapons. "Lysette, you're back and safe once more! Sorry child, we tried everything we could to stop Zordemon, but it did no good." The Elven Queen looked towards Redaine and nodded. The horse nickered and walked away to graze in the evening's moonlight.

Lysette said little to any of them. She took some notice of Thoren's and Benson's presence, noting where they stood, but remained aloof and alone. Thoren was puzzled. This is not typical of the girl.

Wendolin said, "Don't be concerned Thoren, she has experienced quite a shock today and needs time to collect herself. She seems alright otherwise."

It was Chunky who decided to open a dialogue with the girl about her experience. He sat down next to her and received a blank stare in return. "Are you hungry?" he asked.

"No."

"They weren't too cruel to you were they?"

"No."

"How did the horse find you?"

"I escaped."

"Through the gate? Didn't they see you?"

"Yes."

"They chased you, didn't they?"

"Some."

"Were you running from them when Redaine found you?"

"Yes."

"Well, I'm glad you're okay."

Lysette said nothing. Chunky got up and walked away. The swordsman walked by Thoren and Wendolin, glanced at them briefly and shook his head. A puzzlement, he thought. Just what did they do to her? He refused to speculate on the possibilites.

The girl watched Chunky leave from the corner of her eye. She continued to sit quietly in her chosen place staring straight ahead. Only her left hand moved. In it she held a sealed glass vial filled with a clear liquid. In the moonlight of the evening, no one could see her hand or what she held. Her mind permitted one thought only, "For the Elven Queen... A gift from Zordemon for the Elven Queen."

The night sky darkened as the moon began its descent. The banked fire had become mostly hot embers. The others slept. At last Lysette moved. She turned her head to stare at the sleeping Eme-Redser. "A gift from Zordemon for the Elven Queen". Her eyes darkened from their customary hazel to the black of a starless sky. She rose and began to walk with deliberateness to the prone figure of the sleeping Elven Queen. It was the panther alone who saw the moving figure that was Lysette approach the sleeping Queen. The fur on its back began to rise in alarm.

___________________________________________

In a dungeon cell in Zordemon's Keep a young girl of 16 human years tossed and turned on her bed of musky straw. Nightmare followed nightmare... Arrows, swords, knives appeared before her eyes and then chased her across featureless land. Two giant disembodied claws grasped her, but her feet stayed fixed to the soil even as her body was stretched limitlessly by the claws elevating her into the sky.

She awakes in her cell bathed in perspiration... Before her stands Eme-Redser, benevolently smiling on her. But the ceiling of her cell cracks wide open and water pours down on the Queen's body. Flesh sloughs off and begins to collect at the elve's feet. Bone appears, then begins to separate at the joints, piece from piece, continuing until what had been Eme-Redser is a garish pile of indiscernable carnage...

It is then Lysette truly awakens within her dry, empty cell and screams in pained grief. "EME-REDSER!"

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 05-22-2000).]

MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-22-00 23:00 ET (US)     38 / 150       
The panther's ears pricked up, and in a flash, he was straddling the Elven Queen, even as the vial was tilted over her and dumped out.....The liquid in the vial struck the shoulder of the panther, and splashed off the side, well away from Eme-Redser. At that moment, the Elven Queen opened her eyes and saw the panther standing over her.

She let out a small sound, and was quickly surrounded by Jayhawk, Wendolin, and Thoren. Benson was just behind them, and grabbed "Lysette" by the arms and dragged her back a few feet.

The panther moved out of the way, and running swiftly, dove soundlessly into the nearby pond. Climbing out and shaking himself off, he moved back into the light of the fire.

Benson looked at "Lysette" and, shaking her, cried, "What are you doing?? And what is that liquid?"

"It is a gift for the Elven Queen from Zordemon......." "Lysette" repeated the phrase in a soft monotone, and looked only at the sky......

"Zordemon!! That is NOT Lysette, and I don't know who it is. She is dangerous to us all, and must be gotten rid of. But how? Zordemon's magic is much stronger than mine, and I am not sure how to remove the spell." Eme-Redser spoke these words with shock...

From the back of the group came a soft whisphering movement, and Gillandra came to stand before Eme-Redser. She said, "It is not too strong for a combination.....Randorian, Jayhawk, Wendolin, you, the panther, and I can do something.....with a little help. Will you come forward, please?" She motioned to the trees, and a shadowy figure moved into the firelight.

When the group saw who was standing there, they, as one, fell to their knees in awe, as none of them had ever laid eyes on the one who stood there, the one of legend that they had all only heard stories of.........


"No, it is not time yet...." The stranger whisphered as she stepped back into the mist surrounding the camp......

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 05-22-2000).]

[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 05-24-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 05-23-00 03:45 ET (US)     39 / 150       
Jayhawk stepped closer to the girl.
"Benson, hold her tightly" the minstrel spoke.
The ranger nodded abd tightened his grip on the girl's arms.
'Lysette' snarled as the tall man put his hands on either side of her head. Her eyes were like a starless void, no iris, no white, just gaping black holes.
Thoren shuddered.

The girl started to shiver and whine softly. A piteous mewling sound broke from her throat. Thoren's hand went to his sword, but allowed Chunky to restrain him. 'Lysette' opened her mouth displaying needle like fangs, her skin tightened, becoming more scaly as her hair started to writhe.

Wendolin blanched and drew her sword.
"Careful, Benson" the minstrel adminished
The hair turned to asps trying to strike the man behind her. Biting the minstrels hands. The struggle of the creature intensified, the eyes burned, then it collapsed. The hair went limp. The form, still dressed in Lysette's clothes, was vaguely feminine, but the skin and teh face were far from human.

"What in the name of the nine hells was that?" Chunky asked.
"A gorgon, " the minstrel replied.
"Did one of the asps bite you?" He asked Benson.
"No, my hands were to far down."
"Good."

Jayhawk turned to the others.
"Burn it. Cut of the head first and burn it seperately from the body. The things are vile."
He walked back to his lute, tuned it and softly started to play, the music flowing like water over rocks. His hair fell forward, hiding the glowing, golden eyes.

Chunky and Thoren were stacking wood somewhat away from the rest of the group and the horses. The headless corpse was lying close by. Thoren looked at it in disgust, then he looked at Chunky.
"Did you notice, the asps bit him in the hands, yet he still walks."
"I noticed, " Chunky answered.
"Stranger still, the gaze of these monsters is supposed to petrify men and best alike, yet he held it for several minutes, without...without any harm...
What is he?"
Chunky shrugged.
"A friend, " he replied softly and knelt down with his flint.
"Let's get this thing burned, shall we?"

Benson
Pleb
posted 05-23-00 16:03 ET (US)     40 / 150       
Chunky, Thoren and Benson took the carcass of the gorgon a little way from the camp. While Chunky and Thoren gathered some wood Benson drew out his long sword and chopped the head off the gorgon with a swing backed by all the anger pent of inside himself. The three of them burned the body and them quietly returned to the camp. Every one was in a quiet mood. There was no talking. Each was wandering the location of the real Lysette and wandering haw she was doing. The silence was broken by the sound Benson clearing his through.

"There is something I need to tell you." He started. not looking up at the party but looking down into hi clenched fist. He sat quietly breathing as every one sat looking and wandering what he was going to say.

When he looked up they could see a look of anguish on his face. "I have not told you the whole truth of my being here. I am here because Zondermon is my uncle." with that he got up and left the group followed by the panther. Every one watched his go lost in their own thoughts.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 05-23-00 23:09 ET (US)     41 / 150       
MRed: We seem to have left behind "the one of legend that they only heard stories of" introduced in your last post. I don't know which way to go with this mystery character or who it is. May I suggest you edit your post to conform it to the story flow, or help out by reintroducing the character another way. This may also require an edit. Sorry I couldn't intercept the story in time to be of any help - Civis.

The Norseman watched Benson leave with his panther following close behind. One part of his mind struggled with this new revelation while the other agonized over Lysette's unknown fate.

Thoren leaned over to speak quietly with Wendolin. "Do you think he will return?"

Wendolin considered. "I think so, Thoren. But in his own good time. He is very much alone, even in the company of others. He will be loyal to our cause, even if our success destroys part of his family and heritage, but he must be allowed to follow his own path. It is his way."

"I believe I understand. Benson and I are alike in many ways, but yet, unalike. He carries his burdon painfully and silently. I translate my most painful memories into distrust and confrontation. Which of us is the worst for it I don't know."

"Both of you would be better off with less pain," replied Wendolin. Thoren nodded and once again lost himself in thought about Benson and Lysette.

____________________________________________

In Zordemon's Keep the evil mage for whom the Keep was named slammed his fist down on the carved oak table before him. "A perfect plan! Ruined by that ill begotton panther of his! Would I have drowned it as a cub instead of infusing it with a little magic and giving it to that nephew of mine when he was a boy. Now they both are trying to destroy me! Yes me, Uncle to Benson; nurturer to that panther. Well, I have lost one vial of tears; but I still have the other. A moment will present itself when its power can be unleashed on the Elven Queen, even if I have to do it myself! You, by the door... BRING ME THAT GIRL! NOW!

MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-24-00 09:30 ET (US)     42 / 150       
Edit completed, will attempt reintroduction at a later time....

MRed

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 05-25-00 06:48 ET (US)     43 / 150       
Oops...and here I was wondering what you guys were on about and now I see I missed the last two paragraphs in MRed's previous post. Sorry, MRed, I just continued from
"Zordemon!! That is NOT Lysette, and I don't know who it is. She is dangerous to us all, and must be gotten rid of. But how? Zordemon's magic is much stronger than mine, and I am not sure how to remove the spell." Eme-Redser spoke these words with shock...
Again, my apologies.
MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-25-00 09:21 ET (US)     44 / 150       
30 lashes with a wet noodle for Jayhawk....

MRed

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 05-25-00 16:46 ET (US)     45 / 150       
Ouch
Is someone going to continue the story?

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 05-25-00 20:48 ET (US)     46 / 150       
Meanwhile, in Zordemon's keep...

Keep in the bowels of the sub-levels of the keep there was a dungeon with a long corridor of cells. In the largest, at the end of the hall, a young woman in a purple governor's cloak looked out of the barred window on the heavy oak door. She took in a big lungful of air, and began to shout.

"DUNGEON-KEEPER BRUTALITY! DUNGEON-KEEPER BRUTALITY!! I demand the right to counsel!! I demand the right to one scroll-call!! I demand to speak with the Keeper of this...er...KEEP!!!"

Her voice echoed off the stone walls of the corridor. From the distance came a few half-hearted replies of other cell occupants: "Shaddap!" and "Piff off!!", and the like.

Incontinentia sighed and looked over at her cellmate - a huge, splendidly-tusked Carthaginian elephant. "I don't think anyone's coming, big fella," she sighed.

Big Tusky looked at her mournfully. Then he burped.

"Of all the STUPID places to stop late at night and petition for donations to the RSPCE," Incon chided herself. Tusky patted her on the shoulder with his trunk.

"And the worst thing is, nobody knows we're back from the Southern Lands! What are we going to do?"

Tusky tried the bars on the tiny window on the door again, to no avail. Trust Zordemon's dungeon architects to design elephant-proof cells.

Incon sighed again, leaned against her best friend's foreleg, fed him a piece of sugar cane, and lit up a herbal for herself.

Meanwhile, somewhere else...

MRed94
Pleb
posted 05-25-00 22:53 ET (US)     47 / 150       
Welcome home, dear friend....you have been sorely missed.......You are just in time to help us rescue the damsel in distress..... P.S. Gang, I honestly didn't know that she was going to show up. Shows you what wishful thinking can get you. I was thinking about Incon a lot this past week, and wondering if she had faded into the woodwork......YIPPEE!!!


Eme-Redser sat up suddenly from a deep sleep. She shook her head, and mumbling to herself, said, "Now, what in the world woke me up? I could swear I heard a familiar voice, one that I haven't heard in over a thousand years......"

She looked around at the rest (she thought) of the group, all of them sleeping peacefully. She did notice that there was a glint of firelight in the midst of the circle, and looking closer, she saw that Jayhawk was also awake. She motioned toward the clump of trees not far away, and nodded to him. He nodded back, and they both got up quietly and headed for the trees.

Before she started to talk, her hands, of their own volition, reached into her carrier and pulled out a couple of small bags. The scent of the herbs she used to soothe her mind and soul wafted on the air. She reached into a pocket and pulled out a small roll of very thin paper, and her hands became very busy putting a small bit of herbs into the papers and rolling it up. She wasn't really aware that she was doing this, just in the back of her mind, the action was very familiar.....

The Elven Queen looked at Jayhawk, and said, "You heard it, too, didn't you? I know you did, you have always and ever been alert for her voice. You are the one person who is the most closely in tune with her. What does she need?"

Jayhawk was smiling, one of the largest smiles Eme-Redser had ever seen on his face, and was also looking slightly sheepish. He said, "...........


[This message has been edited by MRed94 (edited 05-25-2000).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 05-26-00 04:54 ET (US)     48 / 150       
Hiya, Incon
Welcome home!
There's a small problem with your current incarnation, though. We're sort of medieval, sort of mid European...Rome is long gone. It's a memory. The current setting is more Dark Ages. There's a few options though.
- the two of you fell through a hole in time somewhere...
- or we'll quietly morph you into a new incarnation, like Civis' character Thoren (related to Civis, but generations hence...I'd prefer the latter
Feel free to make changes to these suggestions, or tell me to 'stuff it where the monkey hides...'
I'll leave it open...
Glad to have you on board again.

"I feel a soul out there I haven't been near to in a long time. Last I saw of her was in Egypt.
Methinks Zordamon will be in for a nasty surprise..."

Wendoolicus
Guest
posted 05-26-00 04:59 ET (US)     49 / 150       
Just at that moment, Wendolin also awoke. She saw Em-redser and Jayhawk standing away from the camp, and moved over to join them.

"What keeps you awake at this time of the night, O Elven Queen?" she asked.

Em-redser knew she couldn't lie to her old friend the paladin. "Jayhawk and I have just become aware of a presence in the area of Zordemon's Keep - we are sure she astrally travelled over to us before. It is Incontinentia the Wise. And I fear she is also a captive in Zordemon's Keep".

Wendolin gasped in surprise. She had heard that the great one had been travelling in foreign lands with her trusted companion, Tusky, and had thought she was well away from all the miseries that had befallen their once-safe Realms.

"Well" she replied "in some ways that may be an advantage to us to have her on the inside. At least she knows the lay of the land in there, and she has the ability to relay messages to us. Now I suggest you two go back and get some more sleep, for tomorrow we are off (and going as well ) and we have the rest of the Plains of Despair to traverse before skirting the Murky Swamp if we can. We will need all the energy we can muster".

With that the three returned to the campfire, and lay down on their pallets - though their minds raced with unanswered questions for a while, they all soon drifted off to sleep.

Just before first light, Thoren roused the group. They had a quick repast of oats and water, then set off in trepidation...their long day's journey in front of them ...moving ever closer to their final destination.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 05-26-2000).]

Incontinentia
Pleb
posted 05-26-00 12:15 ET (US)     50 / 150       
(Glad to be back everyone, ta. Jayhawk, I'll try some damage control here. And, by the way...just *where* do you think monkeys hide...? First time I've heard that expression...)

Incontinentia sat on the hard wooden bench that passed for a bunk in her cell, exhaling herbal smoke and staring forlornly into space. Tusky stood nearby, sleepily chewing on his sugar cane.

"It's all my fault," she muttered. "I *never* should have talked Titanicus into creating that time-travel spell for us. I just thought...you know, what with interest rates on the rise, and Rome doing so well in the Celtic lands, that we'd just pop 1,000 or so years into the future, clean up in fat donations, and make it back home in time for tea."

Tusky snorted. But he tried to sound comforting.

Incon shrugged. "First thing after we get out of here, Tusky, we're heading straight for Londinium. That is, if we're anywhere near there..."

Just then, there was a noise in the corridor. A guard approached the cell and roughly shoved a tray of food through the gap under the door. Incon leaped up to the barred window.

"Any chance you could tell me where exactly I am?" she asked politely.

The guard sniggered. "Only in the strongest keep in the Dread Lands."

"Dread Lands..." Incon racked her brains. "D'you mean Milton Keynes?"

The guard glared at her. "I *mean* the Lands ruled by Zordemon the Great, Zordemon the Wicked, Zordemon the--"

"Yeah, okay pal, don't labour the point," she cut him off. "So, this Dork-a-mon--"

"ZORDEMON!!" the guard boomed angrily, making her jump slightly.

"Sorry," Incon's eyes widened. "Anyway, your boss...any chance, seeing as I'm being kept at his pleasure, he'd like to make some small remuneration to the Roman Society for the Protection of Carthaginian Elephants?"

"When Zordemon's ready to see you," the guard grinned wickedly, "I've no doubt he'll be giving you something...painful, perhaps..." He uttered a dark laugh.

Incon narrowed her eyes at him. "I bet you've got a teeny weiner," she smirked.

Tusky sniggered as the guard stormed off up the corridor in a huff. Sharing the contents of the tray with her friend, she wondered if she would ever see the rolling green hills of Londinium, and her friends, again.

Meanwhile, elsewhere...

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