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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).]

posted 03-21-00 15:05 ET (US)     51 / 145       
"Maybe I should not have asked." Benson said as he nelt over the body of the dead attacker. He pulled the down and pulled Thoren's knive out of the dead man and wiped in off on the dead man's cloak."I guess he was the person I heard following us early today."

"Why was he after Lysette?" He asked as he handed Thoren back his knive. Wendolin told him of the confrontation in the bar when thay had all first met and the way the dead man had treated the girl and Thoren's intervention in the situation.

When she had finnished Benson looked at Thoren, "Their is much nobility in you my friend. You do credit to your noble clan. It has been may years since I lived among the Norsemen of my father but the did teach me more about honor and nobility than anyone in the five kingdoms."

With that Benson looke up at Jayhawk, "Well, bard, tell us the story of the last time you and Chunky were in these woods."

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 03-21-00 21:45 ET (US)     52 / 145       
I think I'll be a magician (not a very powerful one, don't worry ) don't have one yet, do you? More of an illusionist, though, no actually damaging spells...I'll explain it when my character is introduced

Jayhawk began the story, unaware that they were being watched. The cruel master's bellow attracted more attention than the companions knew.

A frail young man sat a short distance away from them, listening intently. He was not worried about cover - his illusion took care of that.

He was fascinated by the one they called Jayhawk...he was sure that he could detect some faint aura around him...he was drawn towards it, slowly, very slowly, until he was only about a yard away from him. Still, his illusion kept him hidden. But he had to get closer, to see the eyes that seemed so mysterious.

Now he was close...very close. But then...he felt his illusion failing as Jayhawk's aura disspelled the magic. He tried to get away, but it was too late.

"Stranger in the camp!" Chunky yelled, reaching for his sword.

The frail man knew he could easily get away with a few of his magical illusions, but he wanted to know more about Jayhawk...

perhaps the next could tell the story we are all eager to hear, then go through with the spotting of the newcomer?

Civis Romanus
posted 03-21-00 22:40 ET (US)     53 / 145       
"By Odin's Beard! Can't we have any peace in this camp?!" Thoren exclaimed. His throbbing left arm put him in the foulest of moods and he took it out on the poor young man who suddenly appeared out of nowhere near Jayhawk.

Thoren swung his leg out slamming the calf area of his leg against the stranger's ankles and lower legs. The force of the blow knocked the stranger's feet out from under him and he fell face forward into the ground, arms outstretched, nose in the soil. Chunky's sword was at the back of the stranger's neck almost immediately.

"Who are you and what do you want with us?!" said Chunky, the tip of his sword making a part in the young man's shoulder length hair.

"I...I mean you no harm. I seek Jayhawk, that is all," said the young man, his voice quavering.

"And why is that, stranger?" asked Jayhawk.

Eminence Grise
posted 03-22-00 10:34 ET (US)     54 / 145       
Jayhawk looked down on the young man, whose blond hair was wet with mist, pale blue eyes stared out of a pale face. There was a scorch mark on his hands as if he'd been playing with magic and it had escaped him. The musician probed the air around him and could feel the tang of magic.

"I...I...wanted to know about the ghosts...the ghosts you met..." the young man spluttered.
Chunky groaned.
"Not another ghosthunter" he muttered.
Jayhawk threw Chunky a quick look and shook his head. The tall musician then bend over and offered the young man his hand.

"Well, stranger, grab some tea and get closer to the fire."
"Is that safe?" Benson asked.
"I don't think he's going to do us any harm."
Jayhawk looked round,
"Not with half a dozen armed people within a swordslength."
"So why don't you tell us who you are and I'll tell you the story you wanted to hear."

Civis Romanus
posted 03-22-00 11:12 ET (US)     55 / 145       
Thoren returned to his place by the fire, easing his sore arm into a comfortable position. Lysette immediately took a place by his side. This time she had a small container of salve. Gillandra had given this to her from the stash of odds n ends she had carried on the pack horse behind her.

Gently Lysette removed the bandage Chunky earlier had wrapped around Thoren's wound. She took a finger tip of the salve and softly spread it around, across and then in the same direction as the wound. Thoren winced only once or twice. Each time Lysette stopped the motion of her finger looking deeply into Thoren's eyes to see when the pain subsided. Then she took another finger tip quantity of salve and began the process all over again. When finished, she took a fresh strip of material, also given to her by Gillandra, and completed her dressing of Thoren's wound.

The salve had some special pain killing properties because soon afterwards the throbbing in his arm ceased, and Thoren could finally feel some relief. With a clearer head, no distracting pain, the warmth of the fire and a gentle girl by his side, Thoren was much relaxed at last and could listen to the stories of the stranger and Jayhawk in peace.

It was the stranger who spoke first...

posted 03-22-00 14:42 ET (US)     56 / 145       
RSC - have introduced you as Randorian - if you don't like the name, let me know )
Wendolin approached the fire. She and Gillandra had been off gathering some extremely rare herbs they'd seen in a copse not far from the camp.

"Ahh"....she said, immediately recognising the stranger, whom she had met previously at the Magical Gathering held in Aran-Dor last year. He was the youngest apprentice to Master Flahdorean, the greatest magician known in the realm.

"Well met, young Randorian" she said, and asked of him "what brings you so far from your Master?".

Randorian replied "Oh Wendolin, am I pleased to see you!!!". With that he plonked himself down by the fire and began to explain.

"My Master, Flahdorean, has had to go up north on some mysterious business. He wouldn't tell us what it was about, only to explain that it was a matter of life and death, and that he would be gone for many months".

Things were really quiet in Aran-Dor, and I grew restless/ So three days ago I decided to have a little adventure of my own, to test out some of the illusion-spells he has taught me.

I was having so much fun, changing from a bird, then into a flower, and I even tried the water illusion and blended into the waterfall in the Meanderall River.

Somehow I wandered too far west, and then, for some strange reason, I felt drawn and compelled to come into these woods, even though my head told me not to venture heart drew me inexplicably to this very spot. I had some narrow escapes with some wolves on the very first night, but changed into an old oak tree just in time before they sniffed me out. I have continue this way since...

But Wendolin, I am now in my third year as apprentice to the Great Master, and until now my Master hasn't let me out of his sight. He is a hard task-master, but fair, and we have been well looked after. But prithee, what are all of YOU doing so far from Coranmaire?"

Wendolin placed a hand on his shoulder,to quiet him down. He was babbling and an excitable young man, but one with a true heart.

The news of Flahdorean's trip up north surprised her, and she wondered if his journey would take him near their destination.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-22-2000).]

posted 03-22-00 22:35 ET (US)     57 / 145       
"Flahdorean, now there is a name I have not heard in a long time." said Benson then returned to his musing. after a few seconds he added, "My grandfather thought a lot of him."

"Who was your grandfather?" asked Windolin.

"You have probable never heard of my grandfather Zartan but he was a mage of some note many years ago by the last 10 years or so of his life he lived in solitude."

Benson sat with one hand resting on the back of the panther who was spralled next to him ejoying the warmth of the fire. Thoren sat watching the new stranger as if tring to evaluate what he could offer the group while Lysette looked up at him wiht here big blue eyes. Chunky nelt next to the fire putting on some more wood while Gillandra work on sorting and preparing the herbs she had gathered earlier. Windolin sat still trying to calm Flahdorean youthful apprentice who sat in watching the motly collection of advitures before him. All eyes turned to Jayhawk.

"Well minstrel it is time for your story now that this youth has told us his." remarkes Thorden.

Then Jayhawk look up as if awoken from a dream then begins to speak...

Eminence Grise
posted 03-23-00 06:58 ET (US)     58 / 145       
The minstrel closed his eyes as his fingers caressed the strings of his lute. It sounded like the tinkling of little bells. When he opened them again, his eyes looked a several shades darker as if the memory wasn't a particular happy one.

"It was on midwinter's eve, several years ago." he began, his voice a bare whisper above the crackling of the fire.
"We'd left Aran-Dor a day or two earlier, snow was piled up on the ground and in the trees covering the landscape like a duvet. The air was so cold and still it seemed like we could here the stars twinkle."

"Why would you cross the Specterwood in winter?" Gillandra asked.
Jayhawk smiled a sad smile.
"A dear friend of mine had taken ill in Madrigold. The news had only just reached me. I had to go, I didn't know whether she'd still be alive when I'd get there so I took the shortest the crow flies.
Chunky was kind enough to come along, though it may have had something to do with a certain lady and her husband as well."

"The forest was white and silent as death itself, " he continued.
"The trees and grass frozen solid, covered with layers of snow. Icicles, like frozen tears, hung from the branches. Cold swords waiting to fall on unexpecting travellers.
We moved, slowly deeper into the forest as it got colder and colder. The moon, the barest of slivers crawled up and together with the starlight it lit our way with icy pall.
Our breath was freezing, eyes almost shut with rime.
We decided to make camp in the ruins of an old watch tower. Together we huddled inside, next to a small fire, barely big enough to thaw our faces, nibbling on some waybread.

Then from one moment to the next we were no longer alone. A host of snow-pale specteres was crowded around the tower and their last lord stepped forward. He asked:
'Jayhawk, minstrel, play us a song to relieve the cold of this night.
Play for us to lighten the cold of death and loneliness.
Play for us the songs of our heart, our homes, our hopes.'

How could I refuse? My fingers stiff from the cold started to pick out one tune after the next, slowly returning to their normal nimbleness. I played song after song, sang for what felt like hours, mmore hours than were left in that night.

When finally daylight broke through the trees, casting bloodred shaddows on the pallid snow the specters drifted away. The king turned around once more before he faded and said:
'I owe you thanks for my people. Your songs have given us hope again, a small reminder of our lost past, our lost lives. The night will seem less lonely for a while.
We will meet again and may the gods watch over you.'
With those words he faded from sight.

We mounted quickly and hurried onwards. We left the forest a day later."

"Were you in time for your friend?" Lysette asked.
"She died within an hour after our arrival..."
The minstrel shook his head and played a slow lament, his voice blending with the clear tones of the lute.

posted 03-23-00 14:54 ET (US)     59 / 145       
Wendolin sat with a tear in her eye at Jayhawk's lament. She was now even more determined to find that challice, bring it back and let those spirits free. She had also known the woman Jayhawk was going to see (she had been her blood-sister), who died tragically, though the cause of her death was another story.

She looked over and many were dozing - Marcus Lindicus snuffled and babbled in his sleep (from eating so much food and drinking so much wine - she'd have to watch him!). Jayhawk placed him in his pocket for the night, for extra warmth.

Thoren was in that half-waking, half-sleep state (always mindful of the responsibility for his charge, Lysette). It seemed Randorian was with them to stay, which she thought would be helpful with his illusion skills. Benson and the panther huddled together - both looking beautiful but dangerous in the moonlight. Gillandra and Lysette slept. She bid Jayhawk a good night's rest and wrapped her scarlet claok around her for protection from the cold. Somehow all felt a lot safer in this haunted place, knowing they were amongst the souls of friends.

And so they settled and slept. Chunky had volunteered to do the 'watch' over them.

Wendolin's last thoughts were that they MUST make greater distance on the morrow - at least to get across the "fields of howling winds" before them, that lay between the Spectrewoods and Vanirvell. If nothing ill befell them, they may even make it to Vanirvell the next day. And with that thought, and a worried brow, she fell into a restless sleep.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-23-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-23-00 16:02 ET (US)     60 / 145       
At the very top of his lungs in the loudest voice possible, Thoren said to the magician's apprentice behind him. "Hold onto the saddle edge to brace yourself. If you cannot, grab my shoulder belts where they cross and lean forward into the wind! Rand, do you hear me well enough!" The young man yelled back, "Barely, Thoren, but I understand!"

Thoren and Randorian had made each other's personal acquaintence in the morning. As is his way, Thoren put aside his initial distrust as the young man continued to prove himself friendly and cooperative. Thoren's warrior nature tended to cause him to confront and test a newcomer before he placed any trust. So it was with Randorian, so it would be with any sudden intervention by any unexpected person. But to Randorian's credit, he understood the warrior's reaction the evening before and held no grudge. He even allowed the general use of the nickname his mage gave him, Rand, without complaint.

Rand's frailty was of concern to the group. His compulsive pursuit of Jayhawk without preparatory provisioning and flight from the wolves left him exhausted and somewhat malnourished. Sharing the camp's supper and breakfast did much to raise his energy and general well-being, but he still suffered from one major lack. He had no horse.

Thoren resolved that concern by offering to share Vorth, his Norse-bred horse, which was capable of carrying two, until they arrived in Vanirvell. Rand accepted. That is how both came to be riding Vorth when they entered the Field of Howling Winds.

Rising mysteriously from nowhere on a cloud free day the winds mercilessly battered the group even as they rode their mounts tightly together for support and strength. At first they rode North. The winds stopped them and drove them back. Much like a sailing vessel tacking in the winds, they turned East. The winds changed as well, blowing from the East to drive them back. A turn to the North and then quickly to the West gave them only a short respite; for the Howling Wind seemed to recognize the direction forward they sought and turned to blow from that direction pushing them back each time.

Rand yelled out to Thoren, "I think there is enchantment here!"

"Maybe so! What can we do about it?!" the Norseman replied.

"Fool the Wind! Advance from behind!"

"What are you talking about, Rand?!"

The apprentice magician answered, "Turn your mount around and walk him backwards!"

Thoren shook his head but decided to try. He turned Vorth about and coaxed him to walk to the North backwards. The others stopped their horses, leaned into the wind and watched in disbelief. What was that lunatic Norseman up to, they wondered.

Even as Thoren began to walk Vorth backwards the Howling Wind seemed to hesitate and blow somewhat weaker. Before long it merely gusted. Thoren advanced backwards with greater and greater ease. "Turn your horses around and follow me!" he called out to the others. This they did.

Enchantment or not, the ploy worked; for the Howling Wind finally gave one last frustrated blow and ceased. The travellers turned their horses about and continued across the valley unmolested the rest of the way. Vanirvell and its twin inns came into view.

Wendolin turned her horse and warned the travellers as they came to the edge of the village. "We must be careful. This village holds two inns. One is managed for the benefit of good. The other is managed for the benefit of evil. Things may not be what they seem. We must choose wisely or harm may befall one or all of us."

Benson asked, "Wendolin, do you know which inn houses good and which houses evil?"

Wendolin shifted uneasily in her saddle. "No, they change from time to time. But there are no other suitable places and we must resupply. An evening in one of these inns is necessary. Be on guard."

With that she turned her horse back towards the village and the travellers made their way forwards.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-23-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-23-00 22:54 ET (US)     61 / 145       
The two inns faced each other across the dirt road a short ways into the village. They looked identical. In front of each sat a man on a carved wooden chair. Wendolin halted her horse in front of the inn on the left. Chunky got down from his horse and approached the man.

"Do you have rooms to let for the night?" asked Chunky.

The man looked him over. "Maybe."

"Either you do or you don't, man. Which is it?" Chunky's faced furrowed into a frown as he waited for the man to answer.

"Depends. Pretty women... and a girl too. They your's? Won't need as many rooms as I thought, huh?" The man snickered.

Chunky could feel the temperature rise along his neck and face. Wrong inn. Absolutely the wrong inn. He felt or sensed someone nearby. He turned. Huh oh! "Easy, Thoren! He's not worth it, man. Calm down!" Chunky held him back as best he could. This time Thoren was restrained. The warrior turned on his heels and immediately strode across the road to the second inn. He said nothing to the man on the chair outside and walked straight in through the double door.

A few moments later Thoren exited, eyes wide open, face white, sweat on his brow. The man sitting outside of the second inn burst out laughing. Thoren wouldn't look back or respond. He walked up to Chunky. "They're both barbaric," he said almost in a whisper.

"But it can't be true, something is wrong here." Chunky turned to the innkeeper of the inn on the left. "My friend says the inn across the way is barbaric. What about your's?"

"Will you prefer to stay there?" the innkeeper asked.

"Of course not, what do you take us for. We are honest travellers looking for an evening of food and rest."

The innkeeper's expression changed from mocking to friendly. He executed a respectful bow. "Please accept my apologies, travellers. It is necessary in this village to test those who would stay here to be sure they are respectable. I welcome you to my inn. There is a stable in the back for your horses. My stable master will see to their care. There are rooms a-plenty for you, a warm fire and good food. Welcome...welcome."

They entered the public area of the inn. It was empty. Benson said, "Innkeeper...have you no guests other than us?"

"No. The men of the Lich King generally prefer the other inn," the innkeeper replied. "I thought at first you were from his realm."

"Oh," said Benson.

Jayhawk walked back to the door as the others settled into chairs around tables. He opened it and looked across the road at the structure there. His eyes briefly flared a reddish gold. Men of the Lich King, is it. A change will be made once more in this village, he thought. A permanent change for the better, and before I and the others leave for the area of the Shimmering Lake.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-23-2000).]

posted 03-24-00 02:11 ET (US)     62 / 145       
The inn only had three rooms, so Chunky, Jayhawk, Marcus Lindicus (who was still in Jayhawk's pocket) and Randorian occupied one, Thoren, Benson and the panther occupied the next, and Gillandra, Lysette and Wendolin would also share a room. They were pleased to have hot baths after many days of travelling, and after doing so, came back down to the tavern to enjoy a bowl of hot stew, crusty bread and light wine with the rest of their party.

They sat and discussed the presence of the Lich King's men in the inn across the road. Wendolin watched Thoren closely, as his eyes took on that shaded black look he had when he was thinking about his lost brother. She moved over beside him and spoke quietly ...

"Thoren, do not grieve so badly my friend. It will only harm your spirit. We will avenge your brother - I promise you that.

Between us we have many, many friends throughout the 5Realms, and I am sure we will make it (though I'm not quite sure how at this time) and rid our lands of that evil being.

I know you are thinking of going over there and slaughtering as many of thoe lich men tonight, but I ask you to reconsider. We need all of our strength for the journey ahead, and especially need your skills and abilities when we reach Zordemon's realms. If anything were to happen to you tonight, I don't know what I'd do."

His eyes softened somewhat as he looked at the lady palladin, and was amazed that she read his mind so easily. "Fair comment, Wendolin, you have wisdom beyond your years. I realise I am needed in this quest, so I will heed your request".

However, unnoticed by the rest of the party, Benson and the Panther had slipped outside into the cold night air, and stood in a dark shadow - eyes glowering in the direction of the inn across the road......

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-24-2000).]

posted 03-24-00 12:25 ET (US)     63 / 145       
Benson stood in the cold night air. His hand rested on the head of the panther as they stood thier sitent vigal. The night was black and overcast the air had an uneathly chill to it. the lighs from the building cast long flickering ghostly shaddows over the empty muddy streets. There was a vale of sience over the whole town wiht one exection. The inn where men of the Litch King we staying.

The noices from the inn were loud disjointed and piereced the deathly silence that engulfed the town. There were the sound of loud voice metal on metal the sound of plintering wood meeting dense objects adding periodic accent to the Mangled Menagerie of sound. Every one in a while a few men dressed in black would apprear out of the darkness and inter the inn. Some on foot a few on horses.

Benson sat watching this scene wiht detached indifference. He did not miss a sound or movement as he stood there on his silent vigil. He sat watching and waiting wandering if his hutch would be right.

He stood pondering the envent of the past month that had brought him to this unholy place and the changes in the 5 kingdom since he and been wandering in distant lands. He had know this time would come for many years but hoped it would be his cousin, Altan who would have been swept aong this path while he stayed in the far off lands. But that hope a died a month ago when he recieved word that Altan had died Mysteriouslyin his sleep. When he heard the new he knew he would have to return the the 5 kindoms to fulfill the family destiny, since he was the last of his family alive, well almost the last. It was a burden he avoided all his adult live even when he had a chance to end this years before but his promice to his grandfather prevented him from acting and now he knew he had to put that aside and make sure what has to be done got done.

He was roused from his thought by the sound of singing filter thought the blacked to him. It we slowly getting louder indicating that who ever it was was coming this way and from the sound of it the person was riding a horse. The sound of the voice brought Benson from his state of detached indifference to a state of full alertness. This body went on total alert his sinces were focues his muscles were waiting to spring into action, with his long sword in one had and short sword in the other and his mind was total focues on the approaching voice, a voice he knew very well.

Then moving thought the moving ghostly shaddows in the street appreared a lone rider. He was dressed all in black, armor, boot cloak, belt scabbard helmit. The only hint of color was the red trim around his cloak. As the figure approach the inn Benson got ready for action.

He stood in silent anticipation as the stranger stoped his horse in from of the inn. The man in black sat there listening and wathing the inn with a cruel satifaction as Benson and the pather silently stalked him. He did not hear them until Benson broke the silence.

"Well, Adolphus it has been a long time hasn't it." he said in a flat dead tone.

The man on the horse was momentarlly startled but regained his composure very quicky. He turned his head to look at the man who has snuck up on him as he rested his hand on the hilt of his sword. He made no move to draw it and showed no conscern that is opponent has his weapon at the ready. He peard at the man wiht his dead grey eyes...

"well, Benson, I see you are still alive and have retuned home from your wondering. I guess that means you have heard the new of Altans death." the last came out with a evil gutteral laugh.

"All I want to know if if you had anything to do wiht his death." Said Benson though clenched teeth.

"My, dear brother," Adolphus mocked, "that is an honor I was not affored," he smiled "but would have gladly done if it had been offered to me."

Benson's hands tighted on his weapons and his face harded. "Brother you may be but that will not protect you from the fait that awaites you."

with that he vanished into the night leaving a surpised Abolphus alone in the street.

It was after dawn when Benson and the panther finally returned to the inn to find there friends eating breakfast....

Civis Romanus
posted 03-24-00 16:07 ET (US)     64 / 145       
Edited and with new text added. If read once already, please read again before continuing. Thanks.

Jayhawk was the first to notice the arrival of Benson and his pawed associate. "We missed you last evening. You were supposed to be relieved to get some rest."

"I rested," replied Benson. "There was no need to fear the night. Barbaric they are across the way, but they seemed to be keeping to themselves last night. I determined there was no danger and kept periodic watch. Anyway, I was too restless to sleep. Matters kept me awake."

"Is there some way we can help with these matters?" asked Wendolin.

"No, they are just matters. I will deal with them in time."
Then his mood brightened somewhat. "But breakfast is one matter I can deal with right now. Innkeeper! Two more for breakfast, if you please!"

"Certainly, Sir," answered the innkeeper from the back of the room. He brought a pewter plate setting and utensils over to Benson. "I heard your comment about the danger, Sir, and you are right at least about last night. But, if you don't mind my saying so, this village would be a lot healthier for wives and children if those across the street, especially the men of the Lich King, were gone. That's all I have to say about that, Sir. Enjoy your breakfast."

Thoren, sitting across from Wendolin and next to Lysette, heard the innkeeper's words to Benson and raised his head. Again, Wendolin saw the signs of anger and imminent confrontation in the Norseman's eyes that were brewing in his soul. Somehow she managed to break his stare and catch his eyes with her own. Thoren saw the look and understood. He lowered his eyes and forced himself to think other thoughts. Lysette rose to gather a few things in the women's room and prepare for their departure.

Wendolin finally asked the question she had wondered about ever since their first meeting. "Thoren..." He looked up. "Why is it you become so quickly enraged at even the hint of bad treatment of girls or women?"

Thoren frowned, as if debating whether to answer or not. He decided to answer. "When I was Lysette's age, there was a girl. Her name was Annika. She was part of our Lodge, a farming family. Just one among many; but her father was a great friend of my father. Her mother was like a second mother to me. And Annika...well, I knew she would be mine when we became of age. Aside from my learning, training and chores, I spent my remaining hours each week with her. We were inseparable. The others in the Lodge laughed and winked and talked about us."

He smiled momentarily, remembering. "I hadn't a care in the world. Then came the riders." His hand tightened into a fist. "I do not know who they were. It was night and we were unprepared. They pillaged a cottage for food and anything else they could find. It was Annika's. Her father was made to hear what they said and see what they did to his home, wife and child; he was the last of the three to die. My father and I removed him from the wall to which he had been attached by ropes; but could do nothing about the arrow protruding from his chest. Before he died he told us what happened. We found them nearby, his wife and my Annika..."

Thoren leaned back in his chair, expression melancholy, eyes downcast. "We gave them the traditional ceremony for the journey to the second life. She is there, I expect, patiently waiting for me... We promised each other we would, if it should happen to one or the other of us...death that is. But I never imagined for her it would be so soon, or so painful and cruel...I just never imagined..." Thoren's voice trailed off with his thoughts.

Wendolin said nothing but continued to gaze into the eyes and soul of the troubled Norseman. Jayhawk's seraph powers, though reined in, did not miss the exchange between Wendolin and Thoren. As if through a window into Thoren's mind, Jayhawk clearly saw and understood. He turned his head and eyes in the direction of the inn across the way. The day is not over yet, he thought; and we are not yet departed. His eyes closed as if he were resting them.

In a back room of the inn across the street, a lit oil lamp suddenly shook as if invisible hands were toying with it on its peg. Again the lamp shook and bounced on the peg, then it fell off the peg and onto the plank floor, shattered and spread flaming oil over the planks. Fire spread to barrels of oil nearby. These ignited. The conflagration spread. Screams of "FIRE" filled the air. Townsfolk rushed to the scene, saw the flames leap up the walls of the hated inn and engulf the structure. Once they saw what was burning they smiled and did nothing more. Oddly, doors and shutters to the inn never opened. No one left the building, but screams could be heard to the last as the structure finally fell in on itself and burnt to nothing.

Jayhawk seemed distant during this time, his friends noticed. Regardless, no one said anything to him as they watched the scene across the street unfold. Thoren glanced at Jayhawk, curiously. What was it the spectre called him and the flying imp repeated? Angel? Hmmmm...

Jayhawk finally roused from his reverie. "It's a new day everyone. Time to go don't you think, Wendolin?" She agreed and so did the others. Thoren walked outside to the place where a burnt piece of wood still smoked. He looked at it for a moment. A smile spread across his face. He looked back over his shoulder towards Wendolin who watched him intently. His smile widened. He turned around and returned his attention to the smoking wood. He pulled back his booted right foot and kicked into the large pile of smoking embers that had been the inn. Satisfied, he turned and walked humming to himself all of the way to the stable.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-24-2000).]

posted 03-25-00 17:29 ET (US)     65 / 145       
Chunky - could you please replace the link to the map in the opening post? The new map is at THIS LINK.Could you also put in Gillandra's & my character descriptions and the synopsis in(emailed)??

The previous evening, when all (except for Benson) were asleep, Wendolin had sat with one candle flickering in the dark, and read her runes. She had used these for many years to give her guidance and warning. Her training had come from Master Flahdorean himself, but as with everything in life, she still had a lot more to learn. Last night she had asked a question about Jayhawk the Minstrel, wanting to know his real purpose in joining the party.

Jayhawk's runes she drew in reply were:

THURISAZ (TH: Thor, The Gateway) - which indicates there is work to be done inside and outside of the oneself. A rune of non-action, and of contemplation. Now is not the time for decisions. A sign of possible, and likely positive change. A cleansing flame.
PERTH (P: Initiation, something hidden) - Uncertainty of meaning, a secret matter, a mystery, hidden things and occult abilities. Initiation, the gaining knowledge of one's destiny, to become knowledge of future matters, determining the future of your own path. Pertains to things that are feminine.
ALGIZ (Z or -R: Elk, protection.) - a rune of protection, and a shield against harm. New opportunities and challenges are characteristic of this rune. A rune of warding against evil. A connection with the gods, bringing an awakening to a higher self. A reminder to follow your instincts, to keep hold or maintain a position won or earned.

When they were on the road, she would tell him about these runes, and see his reaction. Then she had drawn the runes for her own immediate future -

MANNAZ (M: The Self) - The starting point of the Self; the individual, or the human race. Expect to receive some sort of aid or cooperation now. Intelligence, and forethought, the skill and ability to create. Represents a time of major growth and change.
EHWAZ REVERSED (E: Horse, progress, movement) - A blockage in movement or a denial of desires. This not necessarily negative. What is truly yours will come to you.
HAGALAZH (H: Hail, disruption) - Elemental destruction, uncontrolled forces and events. A great awakening is at hand, either gradual, or the ripping away the very fabric of ones reality.

These last two disturbed her greatly, and she had decided to confer with Randorian once they were back on the road. He would also have had some training from Master Flahdorean in these matters.

But before they set off, they spent most of the day purchasing a horse for Randorian, getting extra food and wine supplies, and once again more herbs and potions for Gillandra, which were loaded onto the packhorse.

They also listened to the talk of the townsfolk about the mysterious fire that had taken place early that morning. News prevailed that unfortunately some of the Lich Men had in fact survived the fire, and had headed North that morning. She hoped they would be far ahead of them by the time they set off at dusk that evening. They also noticed the stranger in town, who went by the name of Adolphus, and couldn't help but noticing something familiar about his appearance.

And so by dusk, they were ready to head north once more (still travelling by night to reduce their chances of being seen).

Wendolin hoped they would at least make it as far as the copse just north of the Elven Woods before they set camp at dawn.

She also hoped the following evening's journey may get them as far as the Shimmering Lake (though legend had it that many unknown things lurked in these waters, they would have no choice but to camp by its shores).

But first, onward to the Elven Woods

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-25-2000).]

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 03-25-00 23:58 ET (US)     66 / 145       
Randorian puzzled over the mysterious runes. Although he did not know as much as Lady Wendolin, he new much of the EHWAZ (reversed) and MANNAZ - he had drawn them for himself on his search for Jayhawk. He had also drawn ALGIZ, which is what had driven on his search in the first place.

He now drew his own runes once again...

\ | /

GRANAZ (G: Ripening) - a rune of growth and ripening, growth of the body and soul. You are at the peak of your life and powers, but something threatens to cut you down. A rune of coming down to earth.

ALGIZ (Z or -R: Elk, protection.) - a rune of protection, and a shield against harm. New opportunities and challenges are characteristic of this rune. A rune of warding against evil. A connection with the gods, bringing an awakening to a higher self. A reminder to follow your instincts, to keep hold or maintain a position won or earned.

The last fell from his hand and shattered on the ground. Randorian looked at the remaining runes. He was missing

[This message has been edited by RSC (edited 03-26-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-26-00 00:54 ET (US)     67 / 145       
Okay - Let's lighten this up for awhile. What do you say, huh!

More runes would be drawn later, but Wendolin knew they needed to make the Elven Woods this day and Shimmering Lake the next. Now fully supplied they departed the village and made their way north.

The ride was uneventful, much to the relief of all. Really, too much adventure is hard even on the most adventurous of travellers. So a pleasant ride in the warm sun of a cloudless sky did much to raise their spirits, even Thoren's.

As the sun sank to the horizon they entered the copse that was named the Elven Woods. It was time to camp, but where? A nearby sound caught their attention. Music! Here? But who? They travelled a short ways further. Minstrels! Or so they seemed to be, camped by a glowing fire and playing their instruments.

"Ho the camp!" called Wendolin in the traditional friendly greeting used to alert campers of the arrival of visitors with peaceful intent. The music immediately stopped. "May we enter?!"

"Who are you, strangers?!" came the cautious reply.

"Wendolin the Paladin, Jayhawk the Minstrel and companions!"

"We know your name, Wendolin...and a minstrel, you say? Enter and be welcome!"

They rode into the camp careful to show no aggressive behavior so as not to alarm anyone. There were already six in the camp, musicians all; or so the travellers gathered because of the instruments all about the area.

Supplies were exchanged as a token of goodwill and supper was enjoyed along with the good fellowship that accompanied the meals. The twin campfires were stoked and then the music began...

And what remarkable instruments, observed the group. Soldar, the apparent leader of the troup, was only too happy to display his instruments, the like of which had never been seen before. He and his musicians were not only players and singers, but inventors of new and wonderful instruments. He pointed to each in turn and named them. Recorder, Viole, Viole da Gamba, Regal and various small drums he called Kettle-drums. "We travel the countryside," he explained, "and learn new country tunes for popular country dances. Then we arrange them for these new instruments. Wish to hear some?" Of course they did.

The musicians picked up and played their instruments in various combinations for the particular tune they were playing. The parade of delightful tunes began with an Entree - Courante arrangement; a Gavotte followed; then a Bouree and a vigorous Volte temporarily tempered with an elegant slower passage in the middle. Those not playing instruments were swept up in the elegance and liveliness of these wonderful melodies. The Volte had all of the travelers clapping their hands and rocking back and forth in their places. Even dour Thoren couldn't help himself and joined in with the rest.

Flickering campfire flames were reflected in the lights of the ladies' eyes. Lysette repeatedly glanced towards Thoren, a generous smile brightening her face and a look in her eyes that said something more. The tune ended and hands clapped now for the excellence of the performance and the enjoyment it brought. But wait, they weren't finished.

"Minstrel, join us for this next song," Soldar cheerfully called to Jayhawk. "We have a dance with a vocal duet. We will need you to play the lute while two of my musicians sing. Jayhawk never hesitated. The musicians began to play the song to show Jayhawk the phrases and melody. Jayhawk, a quick study, was ready in no time. Excitement grew among the ladies in anticipation of the lovely little song they expected to hear.

"No! No! You won't sit for this song," chided Soldar goodnaturedly. "Ladies, select your partner. This is a dance, not a concert. More men than women? No matter, change your partners as you dance. Ready, Now!" cried Soldar and the musicians began the introduction to a splendid Spagnoletta.

The women leaped up and selected quickly their starting partners. Lysette hurried to Thoren, curtsied and held both of her hands out to the warrior, who protested but rose anyway. Wendolin chose Chunky and Benson and brought them both to the dance line. Gillandra pulled a weakly protesting Randorian to the line. The music played on, capturing their souls, even the most reluctant. They began the simple and quaint country dance that perfectly matched the rythym and beat of the tune. Lysette beamed up at Thoren as her left hand was joined by his right hand for the steps that followed.

Author's Note: Visualize village dancing in the Middle Ages set to music from Praetorius' "Terpsichore".

A "Cantiones Profanae", the words of the duet were joined by the singers to the melody:

Come you Lads...come you Ladies,
Join me now...the time is nigh.
Instruments play...voices singing,
The sun is down...the moon is high.

Dance! Dance! Hear the Music!
Dance! Dance! Lift spirits high!
Dance! Dance! Soon cares 'n worries,
Dance! Dance! Will pass you by!

Heed my call...find a lover,
Place your hand...with one you choose.
Let the music...speak your messsage,
Have no cannot lose.

Dance! Dance! Hear the Music!
Dance! Dance! Lift spirits high!
Dance! Dance! Soon cares 'n worries,
Dance! Dance! Will pass you by!

Life is short...just a moment,
Waste no time...when mood is right.
Music's playing...all around us,
Spreading its bright moonlight.

Dance! Dance! Hear the Music!
Dance! Dance! Lift spirits high!
Dance! Dance! Soon cares 'n worries,
Dance! Dance! Will pass you by!

(Now they all joined in and sang, dancers too, as the music reached its crescendo, and the chorus was repeated, through and through).

Dance! Dance! Hear the Music!
Dance! Dance! Lift spirits high!
Dance! Dance! Soon cares 'n worries,
Dance! Dance! Will pass you by!

Then it ended... Lysette, beside herself with the joy of youth and giddy with excitement, stepped quickly to Thoren, placed her arms around him, hugged him closely and kissed him solidly on his cheek. Then she stepped back, face flushed, curtsied once more as a village girl should, and ran over to where the other women were standing to talk of the music, the dance and the bright moonlight.

The need for sleep and the chores of morning both came all too soon. The musicians and the travellers parted ways... The musicians to the south and the travellers once more to the north.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-26-2000).]

posted 03-26-00 05:57 ET (US)     68 / 145       
To hear the music in question GO HERE
Eminence Grise
posted 03-26-00 09:34 ET (US)     69 / 145       
They had travelled only for an hour or so, when a small group of people stood besides the road.

They were tall and slender, their hair dark as a raven's wings with pale faces and large dark eyes. They're clothing seemed to blend with the forest around them, even the chainmail two of them wore ofver the silks and leathers.
Rapiers were girded around their waists and long bows completed their armement. Their leader, a tall woman of an unearthly beauty stepped forward.

"Hail Jayhawk" she smiled.
"Hail travellers."
Before the others could somuch as react the tall minstrel had jumped from his horse and wrapped the woman in a bearhug, lifting her of her feet as he kissed here soundly.
"Rhiannon, you have come!"
"I have come my friend and I've brought you and your friends some gifts. No please put me down?"
Jayhawk blushed as the lady's companions laughed at them.

"Elves" Lysette murmered.

posted 03-26-00 14:45 ET (US)     70 / 145       
As he surveyed the scene, Chunky could not stop his hand from drifting towards the hilt of his sword which was hidden beneath his robe. Several of the sharp eyed elves noticed, and started to respond likewise.

"What are you doing?" Lysette had been torn from her meloncholy contemplation by the hostile action.

"You must excuse him," said Jayhawk as he stepped in to save his friend, "he has met others of your kind who were... less honourable."

Chunky, still obviously uncomfortable, bowed stiffly and apologised. Rhiannon accepted the apology and walked over to Lysette, touching the young girl beneath the chin...

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

Eminence Grise
posted 03-27-00 15:59 ET (US)     71 / 145       
"There's a spell on this one, Jayhawk" she turned back to the minstrel, her dark eyes clouded.
Lysette shivered.
"I know, Rhiannon, I noticed it myself the other day. I'm still not sure what kind of spell."
"Be careful, old friend."
"I will, but you're frightning the girl."

Rhiannon turned again to Lysette.
"Girlchild, don't be afraid."
Her hands moved to her neck as she unclasped the chain. She raised them holding a delicate silver chain with a leaf pendant.
"Please accept this gift." the elf spoke.
Lysette looked at Jayhawk, her eyes wide. The minstrel nodded and the girl leaned forward. Rhiannon clasped the chain shut again and the girl fingered the leaf.
"Is it magic" she whispered.
Rhiannon laughed a sound like the tinkling of a brook in spring.
"Only a little, girlchild, it will help you keep up your spirits when you are feeling low."

She turned to one of her companions. The other elf handed her a sack, from which she drew two blades covered in finely chased scabbards.
"These are for your warrior friends, their steel was tempered in moonlight and the blades are chased with silver. A charm is locked inside them and they will do you good when faced with the undead."
She drew out a belt with vials attached to it.
"These vials contain a powerful healing draught, together with this salve they should protect you from some of the dangers of the road."
Lastly she drew a shorter blade from the bag and presented it to Wendolin.
"This is Moontongue. She was wielded against the Lich Kings in the last war. She yearns to be used again."

She turned to Jayhawk and kissed him on lightly the lips.
"Be careful my friend."

Then she called her companions and vanished in to the forest.

Civis Romanus
posted 03-27-00 16:06 ET (US)     72 / 145       

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-27-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-27-00 20:49 ET (US)     73 / 145       
"Elfen gifts are much valued in this world," said Jayhawk to Lysette.

"And why is that, Jayhawk?" asked Lysette. "I see they are very pretty. Is that why?"

"No, not really; though I agree they can be the most beautiful objects in the world this side of dwarf-chipped precious stones." Jayhawk thought for a moment. "The reasons, Lysette, are these. Firstly, every elfen gift has a little touch of magic associated with it. The elves will not tell you how it works, but they will tell you how it will help. Like your necklace. They told you it would lift your spirits, but they didn't tell you how, did they?"

"No, that's true. They didn't"

"Right. Secondly, elves are very sparing with their gifts. They give gifts only in the most special of circumstances and for very special reasons which they often will not reveal. And lastly, elves are a difficult people. It is not easy to befriend an elf. They have a reputation for aggressive behavior and acting at cross-purposes, then changing purposes with little warning. Friend today, enemy tomorrow, friend the day after that. Chunky knows something about this characteristic of elves. We are very fortunate to have the support of Rhiannon. Not all of her people are as friendly to humans as she is. There are elves who would sooner see us gone than be our friends."

"Thank you for explaining this to me Jayhawk. May I ride back and show my necklace to Thoren?"

"By all means. Oh...and have him ride up here with Gillandra, Benson and the rest. I must distribute these gifts to them."

The gifts were distributed. To Gillandra... the belt of vials and the healing salve. Wendolin already had Moontongue and Lysette her necklace. Now the two blades. There is Benson, Chunky and Thoren. Jayhawk pondered his decision. Then he said...

posted 03-28-00 07:05 ET (US)     74 / 145       
"Thoren, I see you already carry a magical blade with you. Perhaps you can tell us about its history?"

"Chunky and Benson, you shall have these" Jayhawk said, "though I know you prefer your bows. These will come in handy should we have to face the Lich Kings, who are highly adept at stealth and may be too close for the effectiveness of your archery". The group looked at their gifts, then with a nod from Wendolin, continued on the road northwards.

Wendolin had been awestruck by the generosity of Rhiannon. She had only met one elf in the past, in her travels in Lisendonaire, just after the last war. The memory of that extraordinary occasion surfaced.

The elf she had met was Wintersong, who she later learnt was the queen of the elven folk. Wendolin had found her on the side of the road one night, dying from serious wounds by poison arrows, apparently from the orcs (who all knew were sworn enemies of elves).

Though she was no cleric, she had some knowledge of healing practices, and was fortunate enough to be carrying with her the green leaves of felspar (mild poison cure), which she rapidly applied. She also administered to the elf-queen the purple anti-poison potions, which she carried for such emergencies, and used every "healing" spell she had learned from Master Flahdorean.

However, the poison had progressed rapidly through her blood, and for many days the elf queen lay close to death's door, lapsing in and out of consciousness. Her brow burned with fever, and when she was conscious, she rambled incoherently in elven tongue for most of the time. Wendolin tended and cared for her for close to a week, bathing her in spring water, applying the herbs and potions, and providing some sustenance with a light vegetable broth she made, still not knowing the identity of her patient.

On the eighth day, the elven queen began to improve, and after another few days was almost fully recovered from the poison, though still badly wounded from the arrow punctures in her flesh. In Wendolin's opinion, she would still not be able to travel for a month.

At this time the elven queen said very little to Wendolin, except that her name was Wintersong, that she was eternally grateful and that she bestowed on Wendolin something called "Elven Protection".

Then, quite strangely, Wintersong just disappeared during the night, without even saying goodbye. Wendolin had been saddened this.

About a month later, back at home, in the middle of the night she heard a knock on her door. On opening it, oddly there was no-one there, but before her stood a magnificent golden mare, with a small package and a note attached to its bridle. In the package was the amethyst ring she wore to this day, which somehow seemed to glow whenever danger was near. The note simply said "My sister, take care of Whispering, and she will take care of you.......Wintersong". Though she had never met the elf queen again, she somehow had the feeling they were "connected".

Wendolin was brought out of her reverie by Randorian, who had ridden up beside her. They still had another 20 leagues to go before they would come to the copse and lay camp.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-28-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-28-00 11:20 ET (US)     75 / 145       
From nowhere a strange little creature the size of a warrior's hand suddenly flew down, flitting back and forth among the travellers in a highly agitated manner. Going from person to person, the girl-like creature with wings would stop, briefly look, then fly on to the next. She finally stopped before Wendolin and there she paused the longest. There was a message.

The creature spoke to Wendolin in a high pitched voice as small as the creature itself. "Are you Wendolin The Palladin?"

"Yes, and who are you?"

"Airee, messenger of Rhiannon. I have a message for you. The elf says "Beware the passage between the waters, where portage is narrowest. You will find danger there. Be on guard. The Shimmering Lake is set against you. Beware..."
Then the messenger flew quickly away and vanished.

"What was that?" asked Randorian.

"One of the small folk. A winged fairy. Now what is she referring to by where the portage is narrowest? Let's stop and look at the map..."

Some moments later... "Yes, I see it," said Wendolin. She points for the others to see. "There...where the Shimmering Lake and the river are close together. Somewhere in that area is where danger waits for us...and Airee said the Shimmering Lake is set against us."

"But what does all this mean? What danger?" asked Thoren. No one knew, of course.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-28-2000).]

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