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Caesar IV Heaven » Forums » Story Archives » New Story: 'Quest for the cloak of Z'al'
Topic Subject:New Story: 'Quest for the cloak of Z'al'
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posted 03-11-00 21:09 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.
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.

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 5Realms)

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)

The drizzle continued to fall; the night was sterotypically windswept as a rather large man in a black robe walked humming to himself. It had been a long time since he had conversed with his friends, and he was looking forward to seeing the motley crew again. On a hillside an inn shone like a beacon, and the man headed towards it. using his gnarled staff to keep his footing, Chunky made his way up the twisting path, wondering why all the settings for stories had to be depressing. With a sigh of relief, Chunky knocked open the door to the inn with his staff and stumbled in. The inn-keeper looked up.

"Bloody hell, you're dripping blooming water all over the floor!"

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori
Wendolin's New Map

Wendolin's Map

[This message has been edited by Chunky (edited 04-12-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-17-00 21:18 ET (US)     26 / 145       
"You have forgotten something, I think," observed Thoren. Wendolin puzzled through the question without achieving an answer. "And what might that be?" she finally asked.

"You know my name, but I don't know yours."

"Oh that... My name is Wendolin. I am called The Palladin in my land." Indicating Chunky, she said his name and then introduced Jayhawk The Minstrel. Thoren presented a dignified bow from the waist. "I consider ourselves to be well met." Thoren continued, "And to the minstrel I extend an apology for the harsh exchange. It is my way to be less than trusting of strangers. You were a stranger then, but not now. I must see to Lysette with the innkeeper. I intend for her to have shelter and care rather than risk the odds of the open road."

Wendolin frowned. "Is she not coming with us under your protection?"

For the first time since he appeared in the inn the blond Norseman looked somewhat unsure. "I don't know if that is best for her. I...I am not experienced in providing care for a child, least of all a woman-child. I thought I might ask the innkeeper and his wife to take her on, share their home with her in exchange for her work in the inn and some coin from me, until she is wed or of age. I have known this to be done. They seem kindly people and are experienced in raising daughters. Do you think this is right, or would she be better in our company?" He looked inquiringly directly at Wendolin.

The Palladin was surprised and touched. A warrior with a heart. How refreshing. She framed her answer and prepared to respond. Jayhawk watched the exchange with curiosity. Almost cut from the same pattern, he thought. Unstoppable with a sword, but vulnerable to the flash of a pretty smile on a girl's or woman's face. This will be an interesting quest afterall.

posted 03-17-00 21:59 ET (US)     27 / 145       
"Thoren, My Friend" Replied Benson "I know in the ways of the Norse women tend the farm while the men adventure but here they believe themselves more civilized and allow women to chose there path. That young girl my be a valued additon to our quest. So, Thoren let her choose." As he finnished he caught the eye of the inn keeper who approched.

"Bring the young girl here" He requested. Then the inn keeper moved off to get the girl. Jayhawk sat in quiet contemlplation while Wendolin look on thoughfully and Thoren stood pndering the word of Benson.

In a few minutes the inn keeper returned with the young Girl. She stood before the with an inquisitve look on her face.

"Child" Started Benson but was cut off by the girl.

"Sir, My name is Lysette."

"Well, Lysette" replied Benson with a smile "you have a hard choice before you. We before you," Benson siad as he swept his hand accoss the company of adventures, "are going on a great quest and we want to know if you wish to come with us or stay here at the Inn."

Lysette stood there nervously looking at Thoren to see what he would say..Then asked "My lord what do you wish me to do?" She asked Thoren looking him pleadingly in the eyes.

All eyes were turned to Thoren in anticipation....

Eminence Grise
posted 03-18-00 14:49 ET (US)     28 / 145       
"Err..." the Norseman began.
"Hold" Jayhawk interupted and stood, his tall slender frame rising over his companions.
He stepped closer to the girl who cringed.
Thoren's hand went for the axe at his belt.
Chunky tensed.

"Hush, child, " the musician said softly as he went to one knee in front of Lysette. He reached out and gently touched her face. His eyes seemed to glow in the firelit room.
The girl saw their seagreen colour turn golden, drawing her in until she felt a touch of vertigo.
She shivered and collapsed like a ragdoll in the musician's arms.

"What in the name of the Seven Hells of Midgard do you think you are doing!" Thoren spat as ripped the handaxe free of it's loops.
The tip of Chunky's sword met his throat.
"Easy, Norseman. I don't like it when people threaten my friends."

Thoren grew red in the face and prepared himself to do violence. Jayhawk who had handed over the limp body of the girl to Gillandra, turned round again.
"Thanks, Chunky, but I don't think that's quite necessary.
Thoren, " he said as his young friend slowly withdrew his sword.

"There's a spell on that girl. I don't know why it was put there, but I know how put it there. His sigil is unmistakable"
He turned to Wendolin
"My lady, I think we have to take the girl with us, for it was none other than Zordemon who bespelled her."

posted 03-18-00 22:59 ET (US)     29 / 145       
Wendolin spoke at last...

"There is no question about it, the girl must travel with us. Thorvin, she shall be your responsibility. And my friend, as an ally you should never fear Jayhawk's powers - he will use them only for good.

And so my bed... we meet at midnight on morrow-eve. I will have the maps with me to study before we set out."

With that the paladin left, her face drawn and pale with the enormity of the task before them. She had much planning to do....

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-19-2000).]

posted 03-19-00 01:14 ET (US)     30 / 145       
Wendolin got no sleep after all. She spent the night poring over the maps of the FiveRealms, worrying which was the best way to go. Difficulties lay in going any but the most direct route - there had been many floods over the past few weaks, due to the unseasonal rain.

At last she plotted out the route, and placed the only copy of the map in her satchel for safekeeping.

The map may be found (and printed by you in landscape format) at .

She set about the next day buying the necessary plants, potions and herbs, and repairing her armour and weaponry as was required.

At 11.45 pm she lit her traveller's lantern, closed her cottage, and walked silently through the streets of Bombaderry in the County of Clonmaire. It will be many months before she returned to her beloved home. The prospect of their destination - to get to Zordark and recover the cloak (and remove the "Eternal Servitude" spell from their young companion, Lysette) was daunting - probably the most dangerous mission of her career.

She arrived at the Meanderall Riverat 11.50 pm, and sat in the shadows, awaiting her companions.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-19-2000).]

Eminence Grise
posted 03-19-00 08:01 ET (US)     31 / 145       
A short while later she heard voices accompanied by a merry little tune. They were followed shortly Chunky and his companion. The younger of the two men rode a spirited, if somewhat small horse. A second look told her the bay wasn't much smaller than her own, but look small when compared to the black stallion the musician was riding.
Jayhawk dismouted lightly and swept her a bow.
"My lady Wendolin, at your service."

Chunky smirked and nodded at the paladin.

Homage to thee, Osiris, Lord of Eternity, King of the Gods, whose names are manifold, whose forms are holy, thou being of hidden form in the temples, whose Ka is holy."
-- Book of the Dead (1240 BC)

posted 03-19-00 15:01 ET (US)     32 / 145       
Wendolin blushed at the overstated bow, then threw Chunky a nod.

"Ahhh....I am so glad you arrived. It is now 11.55pm and I'm still waiting on the others - I hope they haven't had a change of heart in joining us.

Now Jayhawk, have you looked at the map? Have I chosen the best route do you think? Of all people, you have the greatest knowledge of the land.

I believe we may be able to travel 40 leagues a day (if you would be so kind to give Marcus Lindicus a ride with you - his little wings wouldn't be able to make the distance on his own .

So perhaps the first night we will camp in the Spectrewoods (about half way between here and Vanirvell). What say you?"

Just at that moment Gillandra the High Priestess rode up quietly - she exuded such an air of calm about her - you'd hardly believe she was about to undertake the most dangerous journey of her life. She rode a misty grey mare, and with her long white hair and her deep purple & white priestess's flowing gown looked quite spectacular in the moonlight. Behind her followed a donkey, packed to the hilt with an extraordinary supply of potions, herbs and who knows what. She quietly rode up to Wendolin, and reminded her that they would be need to stop at the Temple of Eir (just outside Featherdell), for replenishment and healing.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-20-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-19-00 17:39 ET (US)     33 / 145       
Chunky: Please put Wedoolicus' map reference in your thread header so that we can refer to it more easily as the story progresses. It is now time to edit it to include the character names and other pieces of story information. Use mine as a model if you'd like. You are still with us, I presume.
Civis Romanus
posted 03-19-00 17:57 ET (US)     34 / 145       
"We are certainly with you, Palladin," came a voice from the darkness. "We were slightly delayed. Lysette had no horse." Thoren entered the clearing on his Norse stallion followed by Lysette riding a chestnut mare. Both seemed equipped for the road. The young girl's eyes swept back and forth between the gathered group and her blond escort. She would follow his lead instinctively. Yet on this occasion she remained silent and unresponsive to the greetings from the group. Her mind was deeply troubled by the incident with the tall man with the strange eyes.

Thoren stepped down from his horse to present himself to Wendolin. As he passed by Chunky he said almost in a whisper. "You're quicker with a sword than I thought. Your speed belies your name." He almost smiled, but suppressed it at the last minute. Chunky stood there not knowing if he had been insulted or complemented. He finally chose complemented.

Now before Wendolin Thoren said, "At your service, Palladin. Is it time to depart? But wait, where is Benson The Wanderer?"

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-19-2000).]

posted 03-19-00 19:31 ET (US)     35 / 145       
Right at midnight a form drtached itself from the shadows of a grove of tree near the river and silently approached the group.

"I see the group is all here." came the familar voice of Benson. as he approach you could tell he was ready to travel. He was now waring a well worn forst green cloak and leather armor and in place of the stalf he was carring a long bow that look a lot like his stalf.

AS he joined the group every on looked at him expectly wondering if he planed to walk the whole way. He stopped and studyed the group for a few second. He looked at each person individuly pausing on each person look as if he were tring to read their thought. After he was done he turned ans stood quietly with his head bowed. He mubled something under his breath no one could understand expect Jayhawk who thought he heard benson say "sorry Grandfather".

He then turned to the group and for an instant every one though they saw a look of sorry and pain but a quick as it was there it was gone replace by his normal impasive look.

"If we are ready I will call my horse" he siad.

He waited, then let out a wistle. A few ,minutes later a brown a white horse appeared out of the dark with a large black panther walking by its side.

"My old friend" exclaimed Benson with a laugh as everyone else started to reach for weapons. "it is alright. There no need to fear from this panther." continued Benson as if reading everyone's thoughts.

they two approached Benson and the horse stoped and rested its head on Benson's shoulder while the Panther sat look up at him.

Sensing the panthers gaze Benson turned his attention on the pantehr "I have not seen you for many weeks old friend. I thought some hunter may have got you by now." this bought a indigant glare from the panther.

Benson looked at the panther for a second then asked him, "I suppose you want to join this little adventure."

The pathter looked at Benson and cocked his head. "I thought as much." Benson said then turned and swiftly mounted his horse in one fluid motion. "I am ready now. Shall we depart."

[This message has been edited by Benson (edited 03-19-2000).]

Eminence Grise
posted 03-20-00 05:33 ET (US)     36 / 145       
"Now all we are waiting for is Marcus, " Wendolin said.
"No waiting, " Marcus tumbled from the tree, giggled, flew a quick circle round Wendolin and found himself a perch on Jayhawk's shoulder.
"Behave" the latter adminished.
Marcus stuck out his tongue.

"Shall we go?"
Wendolin spurred on her horse and rode towards the river. The ferryman was already waiting for he and gladly accepted the small pouch of coins in exchange for his off-hours duty.
"We need to be careful, " she explained.
"Zardamon has spies anywhere. He seems to be particularly fond of using rooks as spies, so watch out for them. The first stretch will take us into the Spectrewoods."
"Why are the called Spectrewoods?" Lysette asked softly.
"There's two reasons actually, " Jayhawk answered.
"One is because the place is dotted with the barrows of the Hill People. Some of their dead are very unquiet.
The second of the reasons is that the Hill People were nearly exterminated during the Lichwars, the Lich King Daurn, sent in his goblins and undead minions. He was vying with the Princes of Lisendonaire for the Great Plains. The Hill People had allied themselves with Lisenedonaire and Daurn wanted rid himself of this threat at his back.
His creatures killed them relentlessly, men, women and children.
Rumour has it one of Daurns wights is still holding on to a fortress in these woods."

Lysette shivered, as much from the story as the cold breeze that crossed the Meanderall.
"We should be safe as long as we stick to the tracks and trails." Chunky remarked.
"Jayhawk and I've crossed the place once before."

The ferry bumped against the far shore and the companions rode off towards the gloomy looking Spectrewoods

posted 03-20-00 05:54 ET (US)     37 / 145       
They rode the first part of their journey in silence, not knowing what lay ahead. The only thing slowing them down was Gillandra's pack horse, but they need the supplies she carried, and had to be content with the slower pace.

After about 3 hours they'd covered almost 10 leagues, and were still pleased with their progress.

Looming before them was the outline of the beginning of the Spectrewoods.

As they rode closer, a strange atmosphere overcame them.

The wind picked up and had become quite gusty. Clouds covered the moon, and darkness shrouded them. They could feel the rain wasn't far off.

On they rode, until finally they reached the beginning of the woods. Gwendolin called a halt to rest the horses, before they entered that unwelcoming prospect. Just as they'd all come to a stop, a wolf howled, and Benson was sure he heard the sound of a rook's eerie screech.

posted 03-20-00 10:11 ET (US)     38 / 145       
Benson sat up in his saddle and cocked his head to one side. He sat there statue like for several seconds then he let out his breath and absently rubbed his chin with the finger of his left hand. He turned to Wendolin and said, "It would apprear that we got our of Bombaderry just in time." he pointed to the southwest the continued "It would appeare that Zardamon already has his menions out looking for us. Off over there several leagues is a rook heading in the direction of Bombaderry. There is another one off to the east of here heading in a similar direction. I do on think either one will be a problem yet."

He paused for a moment and sniffed the air and shook his head. Before he continued he rubbed the head of his horse "It is ok friendable" he murmered to the horse and drew his cloak close around his form. "It we be sure that one the Rooks reack Bambaderry Zardamon will know we are heading his way but there is nothing to stop that now but of a more imediate conscern is this storm that heading our way and the wolfs ahead of us." He shook his head once more a his eyes narrowed as his lips became a fine line. He sat there a few second with all eyes on him. The wind began to blow harder and colder and a feeling of fear began to crawl up the parties spines. Agian a wold howled but it was closer this time and followed by the howl of anther wolf.

"So, it begain." Benson finaly said. "The wolves have got our scent and are heading our way. As you may have guessed the weather is not natural it has been sent to hinder us on our journy and the wolves have been excited into a frenzy of blood lust. They are waiting for us in the woods ahead."

As if to answer his the wolves started to howl. Their earrly sounds floated to the party carries on the unnatural wind that piered into the parties souls.

"We have two choices." Benson said wiht a half smile. "We can take their chalange and follow the road or we can head north west and cirlce around the edge of the woods but of coure this will add may days to our jouney." At that he stopped and looked off into the woods and waited. He hand rested on his long bow and the other absently played with the arrowed in the quiver stapped to the horse.

The wind blew and an icy rain began to pelt the party...

Civis Romanus
posted 03-20-00 12:05 ET (US)     39 / 145       
"The wolves will track us relentlessly, especially if they are encouraged by Zardemon," said Thoren. "Our best chance to defeat them is to take their assault in the open, instead of in the trees where the wolves have the advantage... We need a place of strength... like that pile of boulders over there. Hurry!"

All spurred their horses. Though slow, the pack horses knew enough fear to follow at their best speed. Gillandra guided them straight and true to the pile of boulders near and to the North.

The boulders were piled forming a high 'U' with the entrance
to the South. Wolves could climb these boulders but the tumbled nature of the pile made the going slow for any four-footed creature. This gave advantage to the humans as the wolves could not strike with speed from above and the narrow entrance afforded limited access from the ground.

The travellers dismounted and moved the horses to the rear of the 'U'. Jayhawk, Gillandra and Lysette stayed near the horses. The rest arrayed themselves around and about the U.
Thoren laid out his short bow and quiver, long sword and battle axe. Benson followed suit with his knife and longbow. Chunky unsheathed his sword. He was the last man between the wolves and the horses or the women and Jayhawk. Wendolin stood at his side, her short sword at the ready.

Almost immediately, growling, sniffing and shuffling noises could be heard around the perimeter of the boulders. Through the pelting rain, they could see dark shadows moving around and about the edge of the boulders... about 7 in all.
Then there were 6, then 5, then 4.

It began with a rush of wolfen fury. Immediately, two of the pack of four were felled by arrows. The other two wolves rushed in through the narrow gap too fast for the bowmen to reset their weapons. Benson reached for his hunting knife, Thoren for his sword.

A third wolf fell under the blow of Thoren's long bladed sword. The fourth wolf met Benson and his hunting knife on a full leap, and fell dead, sprawled across Benson's knocked over body. The Wanderer rose to his feet slightly dazed but otherwise unharmed.

Chunky heard growling nearby and above. He looked up in time to see two wolves poised to leap onto his and Wendolin's shoulders. The leap came almost immediately. He swung his sword up defensively and caught the underside of one wolf full in the belly. Impaled, the wolf fell to the ground taking Chunky's sword with it. He was weaponless as the other wolf took aim to leap on him. "Down" yelled Wendolin as the sixth wolf leaped. Chunky dropped to the ground as Wendolin swung her sword and struck the wolf in midair delivering a severe, yet not quite mortal blow. The wolf landed on its side whimpering, returned to its feet and turned to attack once more. An arrow in its exposed side ended its attack at once. Thoren lowered his bow seeing that the arrow had struck its target.

Lysette screamed. Above her, snarling, was the seventh wolf. Jayhawk turned immediately, eyes flashing red then white then red. The wolf suddenly looked unsure, then frightened as it lost its footing on top of the rocking boulder. The stone under its feet suddenly rolled forward. The wolf fell into the opening left behind by the rolling boulder. Other boulders fell from above striking the wolf and burying it in a stony grave. All of the tumbling boulders stopped their fall short of bringing harm to the travellers or their horses.

All listened intently for signs of more wolves. There were none. Wendolin looked about her at the still tense faces of the members of her small army. The next move was obvious.
"Lets build some shelter from the rain and rest. This place will be as good as any. Tomorrow we will enter the forest." There was no argument from her companions, not even from Thoren.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-20-2000).]

posted 03-20-00 14:42 ET (US)     40 / 145       
Gillandra moved amongst the group, quietly tending their wounds with her herbs and potions. Whilst they only appeared as minor scratches and abrasions, she knew from experience they could become venomous and turn nasty if left untended.

Wendolin agreed they should rest, but had hoped at least to get half way through the woods that night. They would have to catch up time the next evening - starting at dusk - if they were to fulfil their mission.

She helped Lysette with preparing some nice hot food and gave everyone a drink of the elven wine she'd brought with her, though Marcus Lindicus seemed to gobble it all down as if it was his last meal. Thoren tended to the horses, while Benson gave his panther his rations.

Chunky had built a small campfire, and they soon settled down after their harrowing experience. Jayhawk softly played them some merry tunes to lighten their spirits, and told some tales to keep their minds off their fear for the future. And so they settled into the campsite for the evening. The wind had dropped, and fortunately the rain had also ceased, though a fine still mist pervaded the air.

(Gosh guys - that first battle was really exciting!!!! - but hey - WE SURVIVED )

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-20-2000).]

posted 03-20-00 15:19 ET (US)     41 / 145       
As the music filled the air a restless spirit came over Benson. He got up from where he as sitting and made his way to his horse. Once there he removed a long sword from his saddle and straped it to his back with the hilt sticking up over his right shoulder then he took a short shord from it place on his saddle and straped it on resting on his right hip. He then took his longbow and quiver and headed toward the edge of the camp.

"Where are you off to?" questioned Jayhawk stopping Benson in his tracks.

He stood there a second lost in his thoughts then replied, "I thought I would go out and do a little scouting ahead to see if there are any surpises waiting for us. I will not be long." Then he turned and left. As he was leaving the panther followed and they silently disapeared into the night.

Civis Romanus
posted 03-20-00 15:44 ET (US)     42 / 145       
Thoren was sitting by the fire looking in the direction of Jayhawk. The tall, slender man had just finished a short tune on his lute and was checking the tension of the strings for his next song.

For some unknown reason Jayhawk thought to look towards Thoren and couldn't help but notice the Norseman's eyes opening wider and wider and his hand beginning to reach for some hidden weapon. Jayhawk followed Thoren's line of sight to Jayhawk's long coat lying on the ground. The coat was in motion. Near the pocket an invisible something was trying to elevate the coat off the ground. It suddenly occurred to Jayhawk what was causing the movement. "Hold, Thoren! It's okay. There is no danger."

Something small, chubby with little wings suddenly erupted from the coat's inner pocket and began flying around the camp and its small campfire. "Well, is it over... It's quiet enough. Gee, it rained. I hadn't noticed. Oh great! A fire. I'm cold. Hungry too. What's for dinner?!" The cherub continued a staccato one way conversation until he realised Thoren was staring at him with an incredulous expression. "What's the matter with him. Hasn't he seen the likes of me before. He'd better close his mouth before he swallows a bug! Heh, heh, heh!"

"What by Odin's beard is that?!" exclaimed Thoren, who had no knowledge of Marcus's presence because the cherub had remained hidden in Jayhawk's coat all through their time in the inn and afterwards, until now.

Wendolin answered. "Thoren, meet Marcus. He's a member of our group. He's a shapechanger. He travels best in his present shape, but he can assume almost any form he chooses." With that, Marcus' image suddenly shimmied and in place of the small flying cherub a full grown man about the same heighth as Thoren appeared.

"A pleasure to meet you all, Thoren of Torvald and you, Lysette. The young girl giggled. "Why do you laugh, young lady?" asked Marcus good naturedly.

"You're cute," she said. "Especially flying around. You look like a large, pink bumblebee." The others twittered, snickered and then guffawed as the image of a large, pink bumblebee entered their minds almost simultaneously. Jayhawk chuckled with all of the rest. He thought they would enjoy the instant imagery he placed there. Marcus frowned at first, then he himself began to laugh as hard as the rest.

...and so the evening passed. The next morning saw them packed and ready to enter the forest. It was then that Benson returned.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-20-2000).]

Eminence Grise
posted 03-20-00 16:23 ET (US)     43 / 145       
"Well?" Wendolin asked the ranger.
"All looks quiet. "Benson replied
"I've seen traces only of some deer and some smaller game. There's a few cairns along th epath, but they too seem deserted."
He shivered.
"As they should be..."

Jayhawk covered the fire and mounted. Marcus was perched upon the saddle nob, clinging to the black stallion's mane.
"Easy, Aran, easy" the musician admonished the horse as it threw its head.
"It's Marcus, you remember him, don't you?"
Aran snorted and pulled towards the forest.

His rider looked up and saw the sky was still a deathly grey, with a promise of rain.
"Just great, " Chunky muttered as he followed Jayhawk's look.
"We'll be soaked, won't we? I hate wet mail, it smells!"
"Och, at least the trees should give us some shelter against the rain..."

The small group entered the forest and the light seem to grow even less. A dank smell came from the forest, a smell of dead leaves and...other dead things. No bird song broke the silence and sometimes, out of the corner of an eye, little lights seemed to be bobbing closer.
A look and they'd be gone, though.
"I hate this place," Marcus piped up.
"There's no sun, no song, it's boring!"
"I don't think boring is the correct word," Jayhawk replied.

Slowly the went deeper into the forest. The trees looked old and twisted. Vines and creepers clung to their boughs, while brambles and nettles crowded the space between them.

"This place is not a friend to the living" Thoren muttered under his breath.
Lysette inched her horse closer to the dour warrior looking around her everytime she heard as much as a branch snap underneath the horse's feet.

As it began to rain, drops of water trickled through the canopy falling down leaves and branches, to end up spilling on the companions. Jayhawk wrapped his cloak closer around him, while Marcus had sought the relative comfort of it's hood. The warriors had also brought out their cloaks to keep the rain of their armor and Benson quietly removed his bowstring from the bow stave.

Mist began to appear between the trees, swirls of haze, clinging to the limbs of the ancient trees. It flowed, pooled in hollows, the wet smell got damper and thicker, with an undercurrent of something different.

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 03-20-00 21:37 ET (US)     44 / 145       
Hi all! I have just finished reading through everything...I'm hoping to join in if I have more time to think of what I want my character to be like. Until then, I'll anxiously await the next chapter of the journey !
Civis Romanus
posted 03-20-00 23:32 ET (US)     45 / 145       
Greetings RSC: Its been a long time since we teamed up to deal with crazy Caesar in the Eastern Empire and met Titanicus for the first time. I'm sure the others will be as glad to have you aboard as I will be.

I'm not using my personal character this time. Wanted to try something new. Looking forward to your choice. You wouldn't consider being Zordemon The Black would you? Just asking. - Civis

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-20-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-20-00 23:56 ET (US)     46 / 145       
Lysette guided her horse to Thoren's side as close as the two animals could be. Then she placed her hand on his wrist and whispered to the warrior sitting higher on his taller Norse steed. "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what, Lysette?

"The whisperings."

Thoren shook his head. "No, I heard nothing."

"You didn't feel that?"

"I feel nothing but the horse and the cold, girl. What is it you're speaking of."

"The hands, Thoren, the soft hands. They touch and go away... there, again... You still don't feel them?"

"No, Lysette. I feel noth..." He hesitated in midsentence. "I hear them now. The whisperings." The others heard it too. Then the caressing of cool hands, lightly touching then fleeing, touching then fleeing. The whisperings became clearer, the words more distinct.



In the depths of the twisted tree forest fleeting shapes formed and dissipated, formed then moved sideways, upwards and dissipated, then formed and moved again.

"What are they?" asked Benson to no one in particular.

It was Jayhawk who answered. "The spirits of the dead Hill People."

It was Lysette who asked the question on everyone's mind. "Are they dangerous?"

Eminence Grise
posted 03-21-00 09:35 ET (US)     47 / 145       
"Depends, " Jayhawk shrugged.
The fog solidified into many human shapes, tall, slender men and women, big eyed children, all deathly pale. Hair fluttered in an unfelt breeze.

"Depends on what..?" Wendolin asked quietly.
"Well..." the musician started.
"'sblood, " Thoren cursed.
The road in front of them was blocked, by what seemed a host of shades. Their dark eyes bottomless, the ghost were crowding the trail.

A tall spectral figure, powerfull, wide shoulders, dressed in tattered finery stepped forward. A sigh, like the wind rattling through dry reeds.
"Hail, Wendolin of Conamaire" the ghost intoned.
"Hail, Jayhawk" it continued in a softer voice.
The paladin looked to her companion in amazement.
"I bid thee welcome in what was once the Forest of Glenaran. I am Glindorn and I ask a boon of you, travellers."
"A..ask," Wendolin stuttered.

"Thou who travelst North into the Realms of the Lich Kings. The request I have is this. When the Lich Kings minions came down on us and slaughtered my people, they took from my realm a chalice. Said chalice has been used in the burial rites for my people since time began. Without it our dead can not find rest. I beg of you, return this chalice to us so my people will no longer be forced to walk these hills that once were our home."

Wendolin looked at the dead king. A lump had formed in her throat.
"I ... We will do our best, Lord Glindorn. What...what does this chalice look like."
The ghosts had started to fade as their king had finished his speech. The shade of the king whispered to her as it fell apart.
"Ask the angel...Jayhawk knows...."

Wendolin turned round to Jayhawk.
"Angel?" she wondered.
"It's..." the musician looked akward. "It's an old title..."
Marcus chittered with laughter and fell over backwards. Before he hit the ground the gossamer wings spread and the little cherub flew up and circled around Jayhawk's head.
"Angel, angel, Angel Jayhawk, angel" he sang.
Then he flew a short way off and entangled himself in Glirinda's hair.

posted 03-21-00 11:07 ET (US)     48 / 145       
"Jayhawk, may not be the only one here with knollege of the chalice." Benson said through clenched teeth. "This is a noble endevor and one we should take up since we are heading in that direction."

"what do you know of thie benson?" asked Jayhawk looking at Benson attemting to read the swerling emotions behind his impasive expression. In his eyes so many emotions flitter across it was almost impossible to Catalog them all.

"If we keep sitting here we will never get though the god forsalke wooks." grunted Thoren.

"Yes, you are right." said Benson with a hint of a smile. "Shall we keep moving." at that he nudges his horse into motion.

Slowly every one else started to follow. As they moved the mist thinned a little and the rain stopped. Jawhawk wathed and wander what Secretes Benson was hiding and desided he need to investegate futher as the opportunities presented them selves.

"So, Benson, what do you know of this chalice?" asked Windolin.

"All I know is that Zordemon has it or know of its current location." replied Benson as he pulled the hood of his cloak down to hide his face.

Then they rode on in silence each lost in his thought.

Windolin wondering why the spector had called Jayhawk an angel.

Thoren wandering if the vengence he so craved would ever be satified.

Jayhawk watching and wandering what was the burden that weighed heavy on Benson soul.

They road on in the silence of the wood surrowned by the Swirling mist that echoed of sorrow and death.

Benson slowly restrung his bow and looke up from his silent pondering. "we have company approaching from the Northwest and I don't think it is friendly." He emphasized his last statement by takeing on arrow and placing it on his bow.

Then they all heard a sound.....

[This message has been edited by Benson (edited 03-21-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-21-00 12:16 ET (US)     49 / 145       
But the sounds they heard manifested into no immediate threat, for whatever were those sounds soon faded away into the dusk of the evening's setting sun

They progressed further into the woods. It became obvious that while they would make up some lost time they would not be able to pass entirely through the woods in a single day.

In camp for the night Jayhawk described the chalice. It was a simple thing, forged of silver and etched with illustrations of the Hill People's past held dear to them. The chalice was used to hold water drawn from a particular spring that is the source of a small creek. Upon the death of any of the Hill People, water from the spring is poured from the cup onto the body of the dead person. The Hill People believe this releases the spirit of the dead person to ascend to the next world. Without the water, the spirit is forever trapped in this world and becomes merely a shade in the forest.

The theft of the chalice by the Lich King ensured those Hill People killed by his minions would wander the forest forever. Their bodies are long gone. Yet, it is said that the shades need only pass through the chalice filled with spring water to achieve the freedom they seek. "We are being asked to retrieve the chalice, fill it with spring water and enable the shades of the Hill People to pass through the chalice and ascend," concluded Jayhawk.

They sat in silence considering Jayhawk's words. Lysette was the first to move. She rose and left saying something about checking on her horse. Thoren, lost in thought, noticed her leaving but was distracted by Jayhawk's words about the plight of the Hill People.

Lysette saw to her horse, patting its flanks and rubbing the blaze on its head. She really liked this pretty chestnut mare and had given her the pet name, Leeta. This was the name of her best friend from her earliest years, before tragedy struck her parents and her home.

Thoren looked around. No Lysette. She shouldn't be on the edge of the camp alone he thought. He rose to check...

From out of the darkness a hand closed around Lysette's mouth. A familiar odor filled her nostrils and for the first time since the inn pure terror filled her mind. Roughly, she was being dragged away, her screams muffled by the hand on her mouth. There, a bit of flesh she could put her teeth into. The man bellowed in pain. Her former master loosened his grip just enough for her to pull herself free.

Suddenly there were two men. She was grabbed and shoved away by the shorter of the two, his blond hair brightly visible in the evening light. Knifes glinted in the modest moonlight as the two men circled, tense and alert. The taller man reached in with his knife. The shorter man parried and stepped back. Lysette felt others behind her. The camp had arrived after hearing the master's painfilled bellow. Thoren continued to dodge the bigger man's feints.

Then the master quickly closed the gap, rushing Thoren with his knife. Thoren deflected the master's arm, but the blade of the master's knife found the side of his arm and made its mark. Blood began to course down Thoren's arm even as the taller man tackled Thoren and drove him to the ground. Hands on each other's arms to stop knife thrusts, only Thoren's knee was free for defense. He brought this up with all of his strength into the master's gut. The taller man's breath whooosed out and he rolled over onto his back then staggered to his feet still gasping for breath. Thoren pulled himself up to his own feet as well.

The master rushed him again, but with less vigor than before. Thoren changed hands holding his knife, balled his fist and drove it into the charging man's stomach. The master fell to his knees once again gasping for air. Thoren aimed one last blow at the side of the master's face making full contact. The master toppled sideways and lay there, barely conscious.

Lysette ran to Thoren and put her slight arms around him crying into the cloth of his shirt. Thoren's injured left arm holding his hunting knife hung loosely at his side, but he placed his right hand on her head to comfort the crying girl. He was going to say something soothing to her, but an alarmed cry from Wendolin caught his ear.

The master had regained his consciousness and his knife. He had risen to his knees and had his knife by the point ready to be thrown into Lysette's back.

Thoren reacted immediately. He threw the girl to the side raised his injured left arm and let fly his knife straight into the chest of the master. The mortally wounded man made one last feeble effort to launch his own knife, but it fell harmlessly between the two men. The master toppled over, fell forward on the protruding knife and rolled over onto his back.

Lysette fainted away on the spot where she had fallen to her knees after being thrust there by Thoren. The blond Norseman simply sat down on the ground where he formerly stood as Wendolin and her friend rushed over to see to the pale, unconscious girl.

"Anybody have some spirits," asked Thoren. "The liquid kind, if you please." And he put his head down between his knees as his rush of adrenalin ebbed and now flowed back to its source.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-21-2000).]

posted 03-21-00 13:32 ET (US)     50 / 145       
Chunky reached deep within the many recesses of his robe, removing a green bottle with a simple cork. Wordlessly he passed the bottle over to Thoren.

"Psssssst," Thoren barely managed to check a sharpe intake of air as he tried to sterilise the flesh wound on his arm. Chunky walked over to him, bandaging the arm.

"Next time, at least let me draw my sword. It seems like an age since I got to battle a human opponant." Chunky's words had the correct response, and the Norseman appreciated Chunky's attempt to tear his attention from the pain.

"Remember the last time we were here Jayhawk?" Chunky asked.

"What happened?" responded Benson.

Jayhawk took his time before answering, "Well, we met the ghosts that time as well..."

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

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