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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 03-29-00 11:25 ET (US)     76 / 145       
The stood there in silence each wandering what danger was this that Rhiannon has warned then about. An icy wind slowly started taunt the party as they stood in silence and the sound of the night faded into the ominous chilling breeze. Dark angular clouds began to fill the sky blotting out the starling that was watching over the party as they traveled. All these changes seemed to go unnoticed by the party. The were to engrossed in their though of the dangers that were waiting for them at Shimmering lake and what why the lake set against them. What secretes did it hide in its shimmering depths.

It was Lysette who first noticed the slowing changing weather as she snuggled closer to Thoren to get away from the cold. This action roused him form his musing and he looked up and saw the changing of the weather.

“I seem even the weather is set against us.” He grunted.

This roused every one out of the thought. They all looked around noticing the changes for the first time. Most every one pulled their cloaks close around them to in a vain attempt to ward off the cold. The cold seemed to penetrate them to the bone leaving the chilled and unsure of themselves.

“Let us move along,” started Windolin as a shiver ran up her spine. “We still have several leagues to cover to get where I hoped to be.”

With that the party mounted their horsed in silence and started to move along. Gone were the feeling of joy and happiness found with the travel minstrels just the previous day being replaced by the long weary look of people who have been on the road to long.

No one spoke as they moved along in deathly silence that had engulfed then and stealing away the normal sound of the night that had kept them company thus far.

Jayhawk noted the subtle change in mood that invaded the party and made up his mind that it was time to do something about it. He pulled his lute from its place and began to play quietly. He played light mood lifting instrumental as they road along. He music did not penetrate or dispel the surrounding silence but it did surround through the party surrounding them and encouraging them. The changes went almost unnoticed by the party but Jayhawk smiled as he saw the changes. The long haggard looks were fading and being replaced by new looks of determination. Even their pace picked up with their newfound resolve.

Before they new it Windolin threw up here had and ordered a stop.

“I thing this is a good place to stop and it is almost dawn.” She said pointing to a grove a trees not to far off the road. “That grove should provide us with good shelter from searching eyes.

The made their way off the path and headed toward the grove of trees. As they were making their way Benson stopped and cocked his head and listened. Every one stopped and looked expectantly at him. After a long silence, he rubbed his chin and bit his lip.

“Well, I hear the rooks again and they seem to be heading in our direction. I thing we need to get to our shelter quickly.” With that he was in motion heading for the grove. Every one quickly followed.

When they reached the grove they made their way into it and then waited. Each wandering if the Rooks had their trail and what other danger did they bring with them..

Civis Romanus
posted 03-29-00 16:14 ET (US)     77 / 145       
As the sun settled deeper below the horizon and the evening greyed considerably, Benson suddenly stood straight up catching everyone's attention. All eyes focussed on him. He placed his fingers to his lips signalling silence. They all obeyed instinctively. Then Benson pointed upwards.

At first they couldn't see anything but easterly moving clouds against grey. Then slowly they began to discern shapes in the sky moving opposite of the clouds, mostly to the north. They were winged shapes. Rooks, they all realized.

It was too late to hide the campfire, but perhaps it wasn't necessary. In the evening there are numerous campfires along this road. It would be impossible for rooks to know which camp was theirs and which camp was not. All that the rooks would see in this light is that indeed there were travellers on this road, not how many and who they were. Benson, Wendolin and the others came to these same conclusions as probably did the rooks. Soon the shapes disappeared and nothing from above further conspired to disturb their evening.

Now there was time to ask Thoren once more about his knife. Chunky and Benson led the conversation with an expression of hope that Thoren wasn't offended by not receiving the elven gifts. Thoren was content with the weapons he had and pleased that Lysette was presented her necklace by the elf lady.

"Your elven knives will serve you well. Rhiannon and Wendolin were wise in ther choice as there is need among you and not with me. My knife was a gift from my father when I came of age 9 years ago. I was 18. The oldest boy in the family of Torvold receives the knife at his coming of age. So it has been for generations, handed down from father to son. My father says it has elven magic, but it's hard to determine what magic it is that the elves embedded.'

'But this I know. It matters not where I hide this knife on my person or whether I truly remember its location. Its presence is undetectable to the eye and my hand is unerring in finding its hiding place. When I need it, the knife is always there and quickly in my hand. And when I use this as a weapon, its aim is always true. These things I believe are the effect of its elven magic."

"Have you a name for your weapon?" asked Chunky.

"In truth the weapon has no traditional name that has been handed down, but I have named it in a way that serves me. I call it "Avenger." The others fell silent. They knew enough now about Thoren that the intent of the name was clear.

Lysette said nothing, but moved closer to Thoren for comfort and warmth. The night became colder and colder.

Eminence Grise
posted 03-30-00 05:59 ET (US)     78 / 145       
The night was so cold it seemed brittle. The stars were bright holes in the sky and the landscaped looked odly muted in the light of a red tinted moon that loomed on the horizon.

The fire flickered lazily as if stiffled by the cold. Marcus sat perched on Jayhawk's knee, sipping whiskey from a thimble. He was softly singing a song with strange lyrics.
Wendolin leaned closer and could hear the piping voice sing about something called "The Barley Mo" Marcus looked up from his cup and tumbled backwards, managing not to spill a single drop of the golden liquid. As he crawled up from one of the folds of Jayhawk's cloak he was greeted by laughter from Lysette and Randorin.
Marcus stuck ou this tongue and settled back into a more comfortable position.

Huddled together, their breath small ghosts of vapour they spend a miserable night. The cold was so deep they never slept more than a fitful doze. Wraiths of mist, from the enarby Shimmering Lake crawled over the forest floor, intertwined with the ferns and brambles, that slowly ripped them apart.

Dawn found them, hoar frost covered and chilled to the bone. Featherdell should only be a days ride, but Rhiannon's warning lay deep in their hearts.

Civis Romanus
posted 03-30-00 11:50 ET (US)     79 / 145       
Shivering hands among the team built a morning fire to melt the hoar frost off their surroundings and themselves. Breakfast and planning followed.

Wendolin felt strongly a duo should go ahead of them to scout the areas warned about by the flying fairy. This would not be a job for one because should a discovery be made, one may need to protect the other so at least one could get back to warn the travellers.

Agreement was reached that it should be Benson and Thoren who would scout ahead. Lysette immediately became distraught. Thoren calmed her with reassurances then called Chunky over for a brief conversation. "Lysette, stay with Chunky until I return. Chunky, will you take this charge?"

Chunky smiled. "Of course, she'll be looked after just as you would look after her." Lysette smiled at Chunky, but her eyes followed Thoren as he walked with Chunky to Vorth, Thoren's stallion. Then quietly for Lysette not to hear, Thoren said to Chunky. "You understand what to do if I don't return?"

Chunky frowned. "Yes, don't worry about her, she'll be well cared for." Then he smiled. "Now get out of here and take a good look at the Lake and River. Then get back and tell us about it!" Chunky slapped Thoren on the shoulder. The Norseman grinned uncharacteristically, mounted Vorth and joined Benson and his panther. The three swiftly left the camp for the road as fast as the panther could travel on four feline feet.

Before long they were near the Shimmering Lake. They could see where the Merrybrook River bent and began to run close to the lakeshore. An intervening rise a few leagues long and less than a league wide seemed to be all that kept the river from spilling into the Lake. The road climbed the rise and coursed on its crest. There seemed to be no danger visible, but it was obvious that the travellers would be highly visible and exposed as they traversed the rise. Benson and the panther preceeded Thoren as they made their way to the rise...

Back in the camp...

The travellers packed the camp and mounted their horses. By arrangement they were to follow behind Benson and Thoren by about 3 hours, that is, until the scouts returned and gave them an all clear. But Thoren and Benson didn't return when expected and soon the reflective surface of the Shimmering Lake could be seen in the distance. There's the Lake, they thought, but where are our scouts...?

posted 03-30-00 16:32 ET (US)     80 / 145       
Wendolin halted the party behind a group of trees, turned to Randorian, and said "Now is the time for your illusions Randorian .... you need to do your Mirage Illusion and float alongside the lake, then return and let us know if you can seen Thoren and Benson."

Randorian was immediately filled with courage, and only too pleased he could help the party. He moved away from the group, and began his incantations, and soon was changed completely into a mirage. He wafted away, heading north towards the strip between the lake and the river, completely unseen by anyone.

As he reached the top of the first crest of the hills, he saw....

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 03-30-00 20:58 ET (US)     81 / 145       
perfect timing

He saw Thoren and Bensen, but there were other creatures with him. Scores of long, snake-like creatures with fish tails and fins were slowly surrounding the scouts. Randorian watched in horror as the serpents wrapped their long bodies around the scouts, dragging them towards the water. He watched no more.

Randorian wasted no time. He raced back to their camp, dropping his illusion as he fled towards the waiting travelers. He gasped out what he had seen. Wendolin, Jayhawk, Chunky, Lysette, Gillandra, and Marcus (on Jayhawk's knee) gathere around to discuss how they could help their friends.

They asked Randorian to describe the creatures. Instead, he crafted a model with his magic.

Then Jayhawk told what he knew of the creatures.

Jayhawk said, "I have heard of these creatures. They are the snakefish, and work for the river and sea demons that inhabit some of the waters. I have heard of none in the Shimmering Lake, but who knows what Zordemon has done to it in his attempts to stop us."

They all agreed to go and save Thoren and Bensen. Chunky and Wendolin picked up their bows, and Randorian joined them.

He explained, "Although my magic is mostly illusions, I can weave some simple attack spells. Combined with my illusions, I can make it appear that I am shooting arrows with the two of you, all the way through to the sharp arrowheads."

All prepared for battle in the camp, though no one really knowing what to expect from the snakefish...

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 03-30-00 21:04 ET (US)     82 / 145       
just a note on "my" powers . Randorian can create almost any visual illusion and some noises. However, the "real" attacks he can do are severely limited...Randorian can create a small amount of magical "mass", mold it, move it any way he wants, and it acts as a solid object. Coupled with his illusion skills, he can make it seem as if he is hurling arrows, stones, anything, although it is still the same magical blast disgiused with illusion.

One last note - he is hopeless with any kind of weapon besides his magic

posted 03-31-00 12:11 ET (US)     83 / 145       
As Benson and Thoren were reaching the top of the rise a lone rider approached them. As they came closer Thoren notice that this stranger look very much like Benson. His hair was redder and longer but they had the same nose mouth and facial structure. The one thing that really set them a part though was the look in the stranger’s eyes. They were as cold as ice yet on fire with hate. He stopped a few yards from them.

"I bring greeting from the exalted Zordemon to the fools who seek to defy him, prepare to meet your destiny." he called to them.

Benson stiffed in his saddle and drew his sword. As to answer Thoren's unspoken question he said, "Thoren let me introduce you to my Younger brother, Adolphus, a lieutenants of Zordemon. You see many years ago when Zordemon started down his trail to the darkness leaving behind all what was just and right he sought the vision of a seer. She saw greatness in his future but also gave him a warning. She told him that is downfall would come at the hand of some one in our family. So he sat out to destroy it. He killed my father, just for being our father. At the time we were living among his people and our mother left then to go and live with our grandfather out fear that to get to us Zordemon would wipe out our father entire clan. Although in the Norse tradition they swore to defend us to the last man my mother could not live with all those lives on her conscience."

He paused then concluded, "Over the years those he could not Corrupt and bring under his influence, where they were not a threat to him, he had killed."

When he stopped Adolphus picked up "And I guess you will be joined all the other fool in our family soon. Behold the agents of you doom."

Thoren and Benson became aware of the snake like creature cutting off there line of retreat and surging toward them. The both drew weapon Benson his bow and Thoren his short bow. They started firing at the approaching creature as Adolphus road off laughing "Good bye my brother".

Benson loosed the arrows like a machine he was a burr of motion as loose his furry on the approaching enemy the fell one after the other only to be replaced by two or three more. At the got closer Benson and Thoren abandoned their bow and entered into a desperate had to hand struggle.

Thoren was welding his battle-ax and Benson his long sword in one and the eleven bland in the other. They put up a valiant struggle killing many of the Creatures, whose carcasses mounted before them. The mass of creatures slowly began to push them back toward the waters of Shimmering lake where more of there companions waited to drag the under the water to their doom. When it seemed that all hope as lost and Thoren and Benson could feel the creatures in the water eager anticipation of the kill..

It was at that moment that they heard a familiar sound....

[This message has been edited by Benson (edited 03-31-2000).]

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 03-31-00 12:57 ET (US)     84 / 145       
Bensen and Thoren sighed with relief as they heard horses galloping from the hills behind. With a quick look behind, Thoren confirmed that it was indead their friends.

Chunky, Wendolin, and Randorian battled to loosen the grip of the snakefish on the scouts. Chunky and Wendolin slashed and shot at the snakefish, while Randorian hurled his magic missiles. Lysette, Gillandra, and Jayhawk stayed behind, and tended to those that had been hurt. But still, there was no end to the creatures.

Randorian experimented. With his illusions, he created a fake lightning bolt over the snakefish. It seemed to scare them a bit, as they withdrew from spot. Trying some more bolts near Thoren and Bensen, Randorian managed to scare off the snakefish holding them. The scouts rushed back behind Wendolin, Chunky, and Randorian, and Gillandra attended to their wounds.

All that was left was to somehow pass the shimmering lake, now that everyone was back...

Civis Romanus
posted 03-31-00 16:09 ET (US)     85 / 145       
Way to go RSC, Benson and Wendoolicus!

The Shimmering Lake's surface blackened and roiled with an extreme disturbance in its depths. Carcasses of dead or dying snakefish littered its shores. Other dead snakefish one by one sank below the angry surface. Jayhawk stood by to help as needed, but he kept glancing to the bank of the lake nearest to them in concern. I don't think this is over, yet, he was thinking.

Lysette suddenly screamed. They looked at her and then to where she was staring in horror. A great reptilian head was rising from the waters. Fin-like ears were placed behind cateyes. The head had a pronounced snout filled with canine teeth. Fleshy growths, like catfish have, hung from the thing's lower jaw.

The head rose higher and higher as the creature's bottle-like frame rose above the waves. Its first two finned feet were now visible. Then its second pair of finned feet became visible as the creature pulled itself out of the water and onto the lakeshore. Its scaly tail was the last of its body to appear. Twenty-feet tall, it towered over the travellers.

The creature turned to face them and advanced. Still in pain and exhausted from their earlier encounter, nonetheless Benson and Thoren leaped to their feet and grabbed for their weapons. Chunky and Wendolin again pulled out their weapons and prepared for battle. Lysette ran back to where Gillandra stood. This will not be easy, thought Jayhawk.

Marcus Lindicus entered the battle for the first time. The cherub launched himself from Jayhawk's coat and flew straight at the lumbering lake serpent. Unable to inflict physical damage, Marcus' plan was to harrass the serpent until the others could organize a defense or even a plan of attack. He did his job well, worrying the serpent to complete distraction, that is, until the flying cherub got too close to the serpent's tail. One quick snap and Marcus went tumbling top over teakettle onto the grassy rise. Free of the cherub, the serpent advanced once more. But where were his prey? Only four? Where were the others?

Pain in his right rear finned leg, then in his left rear finned leg overpowered any further thinking in the dimwitted serpent's mind. Thoren and Chunky had both sneaked behind the serpent while it was distracted and laid their heavy swords into the creature's rear legs, crippling it. The serpent roared in pain and anger and attempted to swing its body about to challenge the two warriors. It failed.

Arrows now peppered the creature's exposed throat as Benson laid in a barrage of missles launched from his long bow. Not fatal, each arrow merely served to increase the pain the creature felt and further confuse its mind and attack. Wendolin climbed on her horse and compelled the frightened animal forward. It responded and Wendolin charged directly toward the creature, swept her sword across its breast and opened a deep cut that poured forth green blood. She evaded its snapping jaws and retreated back to where Jayhawk stood with Lysette and Gillandra.

Distracted by Wendolin's charge the creature failed to notice Thoren and Chunky approach its exposed sides, nor did it notice the peculiarly large, black cloud forming overhead in what otherwise was a clear sky. Each warrior plunged his long sword deep into the side of the beleagered creature and withdrew it quickly. The serpent's head shot straight up as the severity of the pain from the mortal strokes reached its modest mind. Green fluid ran from each side and began to flow from the creature's mouth. Its angered bellowing changed to loud high pitched screams of agony. Then its struggles were ended quickly, decisively.

A magnificent bolt of lightning originating in the blackened cloud reached down and struck the creature in the center of its head. Its eyes clouded over as it stiffened in response. Thoren and Chunky ran with all of their ability to avoid the creature as it began to roll over on its side. Its body followed by its head crashed to earth and with one final twitch of its scaled tale, the lake serpent ceased to move.

Jayhawk slowly opened his eyes. They returned to their normal color, what is normal for him that is. The black cloud quickly dissipated. This creature did not wish us ill, he thought. It was compelled to do this by Zordemon. It should not be caused to suffer further.

Lysette ran over to where Marcus lay on the ground. The cherub was sitting up with an odd expression on his face. Though dazed, he was relatively unhurt. "Now I'd call that one at least a triple; certainly not an infield hit." Lysette had no idea what the cherub was talking about and attributed it to his mind being addled temporarily by the blow from the creature's tail. The others looked to each other's wounds once more.

The surface of the Shimmering Lake at last returned to its normally placid appearance. The travellers could now safely proceed to the Enchanted Forest.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-31-2000).]

posted 04-01-00 02:55 ET (US)     86 / 145       
That was SO exciting - I actually yelled yeehah when I finished that charge heh heh heh.

After the mighty battle, all were totally exhausted - but there was still the question of Adolphus to deal with.

Wendolin stomped towards him aggressively - furious that he had subjected her party to such extraordinary danger. "You fool" she shouted at him "You absolute fool. Do you think you are God, to enchant those poor lake creatures. They have been part of our lands and laid dormant beneath the lake for centuries until now, and have always respected mortals and other travellers. You have forced us to kill them, and have broken the Earth/Waters Balance. May the wrath of Thor be upon you!!!!"

Adolphus merely sniggered at this outburst, but was secretly overwhelmed by the strength and might displayed by the party, who he had taken for a paltry group of weaklings. He thought - I must get back to Zordemon and bring him these tidings.

"I care not for your rantings, Wendolin... but give you one more warning before I go - turn back now if you wish to live.". He then turned abruptly and facing his brother, said: "And as for you, Benson...we will meet again, let me assure you". With that, he swung his horse around, and galloped northwards, leaving an infuriated group of travellers in his wake.

The party moved over to a clearing under one of the hills, protected by a group of rocks and boulders. Gillandra was already tending the wounded, for not one of them had come out of the battle unscathed. She was quite concerned by the nasty looking gash on Chunky's arm, but said nothing to alarm him.

Lysette made the fire, and began cooking the healing broths required, while Thoren and the rest began repairing their armour and weapons. Wendolin had decided that here was indeed the best stop to lay camp. Marcus Lindicus was already tucking into his food and wine, despite his bump to the head.

Jayhawk and Gillandra moved among them, tending wounds here, and lightening spirits there. The group was deeply shaken by the attack, and doubly unhappy that they had been forced to kill such beautiful lake creatures (though they hadn't appeared too beautiful in battle).

Meanwhile Wendolin sat alone, brooding deeply about the imbalance they had caused by the slaughter. She pulled out her spell books and tomes of knowledge that she carried with her, and immediately started poring over them, searching for a way to reinstate the Earth/Waters balance and atone the Gods. While the others continued to sleep, she kept scouring her books through to the early hours of the morning.

At last she found what she was searching for - an incantation she had learned more than 20 years earlier. Without waking the group, she crept in the dark over to the lake's shore and stood there, alone in the dark, beginning the incantation - "Arg Vire Mahattya Hir" "Arg Vire Mahattya Hir" "Arg Vire Mahattya Hir" "Arg Vire Mahattya Hir".

Not long after beginning, the lake, which seemed to be seething and boiling still, began to settle, though the wind picked up and made the surface choppy. "Arg Vire Mahattya Hir" she continued, louder and stronger each time. She was calling to the spirit of the lake. "Arg Vire Mahattya Hir".

All of a sudden, from out of the tumultuous lake came the spirit, spray and wash lashing aroubnd her - "How dare you disturb me from my mourning - you, Wendolin, who are the destroyer of the deep creatures". The creature appeared angry and like a shapeless vapour, its colour a deep magenta purple, drifting and wafting on the shoreline, with salt spray flying around them.

Wend was scared but resolute "Naranya, Naranya, great spirit of the Earth/Waters, I come to appease thy soul". The spirit looked upon her, and allowed her to continue, though she could easily have smote the mortal with one wave.

"Naranya, I come to swear an oath to avenge the death of your deep creatures. They were enchanted by Zordemon the Black, and I promise thee we will make amends before I pass this way again".

Naranya's vapours turned from purple to black, then to a menacing red at hearing the sound of Zordemon's name. She gathered together and spoke: "Wendolin, let me reassure you - you certainly will not pass this way again if you have not avenged my deep creatures. Go, and do not return until you have this news." With that, the spirit ebbed back into the lake, leaving Wendolin alone and forlorn on the sides of the shore.

She crept back to the campsite, rolled back her bedroll and slept soundly for 2 hours, before it was time to wake up and check on each of the party members. She had not been aware that Randorian had slept closely behind her, and that he had also seen the amazing exchange between the Spirit and the Pallidin the previous evening.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 04-01-2000).]

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 04-01-00 14:06 ET (US)     87 / 145       
here comes a new sub-quest

The next day, as the travelers closed in on the Enchanted Forest, Randorian spoke to Wendolin.

"Paladin, we must restore balance to the land...the earth/water balance, and the sky/fire balance. I know you know about the balances...I saw you last night."

Wendolin was silent. Randorian continued.

"Not only has Zordemon worked his magic on the water balance, but he has also tampered with the earth, sky, and fire balances...we will have great dangers as we travel through the land, as we must vanquish the demons that Zordemon has released. Then we must seek out the spirits to restore balance.

Our next destination is the Enchanted Forest. The Earth Demon awaits us there, and we must defeat it and find the Earth Spirit. From there, we must travel to the Lich Territory to battle the Demon of Fire and restore power to the Fire Spirit. Then, we must climb to the very top of the Maze Hills, where the Sky Demon will attack us. Also on Maze Hills is the Spirit of the Sky. Do you understand, Wendolin?"

"Yes. To summerize:

The Water Demon has been vanquished, and we have restored power to the Water Spirit at the Shimmering Lake.

The Earth Demon and Spirit await us deep in the Enchanted Forest.

The Fire Demon and Spirit await us in the Lich Territory.

The Sky Demon and Spirit await us atop the Maze Hills."

"Very good, Wendolin. One more thing. The Water Balance represents comradship. We have shown this quality to defeat the demon. The Earth Balance represents trickery, which we must somehow use in our fight against the demon. The Fire Balance represents power, which will be needed in the fight against the Fire Demon. Finally, the Sky Balance represents infinity. I know not how we will defeat the Demon. However, my master Flahdorean has taught me of the Enchanted Forest. In the forest, we must fight the Demon in all terrains...if we succeed, we will be able to enter the depths of the forest, where the Earth Spirit awaits. Tonight at camp I will look with you through your scrolls. We should find the right enchantment to restore balance to the Earth Spirit."

And so the travelers continued their journey, with a new task ahead of them...

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 04-02-00 21:56 ET (US)     88 / 145       
well then...if no one's going to continue I'll post again

They reached the Enchanted Forreste the next day, after a good night's sleep by the Merrybrook River. Randorian and Wendolin had spent the first part of the night looking through Wendolin's scrolls, finding any relevent to the Enchanted Forreste. They found a charm, like the one for the Shimmering Lake, to draw out the Earth Spirit, but that was all. Before setting out, they had asked Jayhawk what he knew of the Enchanted Forreste, but he only could say "It always changes".

So now they sat eating their breakfast before heading into the depths of the forest. As soon as the band was gathered together, Randorian and Wendolin explained of the Earth Demon and Spirit. Then they were ready to enter.

It seemed normal. The party reached a huge, dead oak after a couple hours of travel. They stopped by it to catch their breath and take a light lunch. As the last crumb of lunch was eaten by the travelers, a threataning voice rang out to them. "You wish to challenge me? Very well, then..."

Suddenly, there was a flash of light and a hideous creature stood before them. The travellers looked around and noticed that everything was different...

Civis Romanus
posted 04-03-00 12:34 ET (US)     89 / 145       
Why did it seem so different? Lysette was the first to notice. "The river's moved!" she said so all could hear. And so it had. In their travel around the lake as they headed north, the Merrybrook River had been to the West, between them and the Enchanted Forest. Now the river was to the East and they were positioned in a copse of trees belonging to the Enchanted Forest.

The beast before them was the embodiment of all that was ugly and ferocious. It had the head of a lion, legs and claws of a bear. It had armor plating surrounding its body like that of an armadillo and its tail ended in a bony club. It walked upright as would a human, but quickly demonstrated its ability to walk on all fours as if it were the most natural thing for it to do. This was indeed the manifestation of a demon with powers and strength unknown to the travellers.

They promptly rushed for their weapons. Benson's panther tensed, hair raised all along its back.


Adolphus continued his rapid ride back to the castle of Zordemon the Black. All of the demons were alerted and ready, he thought. There is much strength and diversity of talents in that group. I must warn Zordemon not to underestimate them. However, there are many obstacles in place before them. They have much to conquer before they meet the ultimate challenge, the combined power of Zordemon and Adolphus in the castle.

He reached across his saddle to the hand holding the reins to his horse and touched the gold bracelet on his wrist. It was crudely wrought, large enough for a man's wrist but strangely enough found on a woman, a girl actually.

Adolphus often touched the bracelet, an unconscious habit of his. Once in awhile the memory of its capture rushed into his mind, stayed for a time and fled once again. The cottage was there and he and his companions had a need. He had not intended the girl to die. Somehow she had found his knife. As they struggled the knife turned around in her hand, found its way just under the girl's ribs. A sudden crush of their bodies forced the metal in up to the hilt. She screamed. Before she died she said, breath failing, "You cannot hide forever. He will find you. He will find you." Then she said no more. He noticed the bracelet then, took it for himself. He looked around. There was no one else but himself and his four companions. They are all dead now. Whoever 'he' was couldn't possibly know of Adolphus now that these many years had passed.

He continued to idly play with the bracelet. What was the girl's name anyway? I can't even remember that at the moment. He looked down at the bracelet and at the etched letters on its one flattened surface. An "A" and a "T". I have no idea what the "T" stands for he thought. But the "A"... Ann something. Oh well. Too long ago.

Adolphus put his knees into the horse's side to speed him up as Zordemon's castle was now in sight.

posted 04-03-00 13:36 ET (US)     90 / 145       
Before anyone could react to the Earth Demon, the embodiment of power and endurance, Chunky lept forward.

"ULRIC!" Chunky charged, and as he did so it seemed as though his hair grew, as if his proud robe turned to rags, and as if his eyes became obsidian. Battle was joined. His sword licked out and bounced from the demon's back, forcing Chunky to duck as the demon plunged towards him.

Thoren turned to Jayhawk and raised an eyebrow.

"Don't worry. His quite mad." said Jayhawk as he too began to play his part. With the demon distracted by the frantic Chunky, the group had time to prepare to expell the beast from this plain of existence...

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

posted 04-03-00 16:37 ET (US)     91 / 145       
As Chunky maniacally attached the beast Benson pulled out his long bow. He knew they needed all the help they could get to defeat this demon before them. He took a deep breath and let it our slowly. He took careful am. If his shot hit its mark he knew that it would enrage the beast as well has hurt him but he hoped it would do the trick.

Around him every one was preparing for a fight but Benson was so focused on his target that every thing else faded into nothingness. He waited for the beast to turn the right way as he tried to fend of the manic attacks of Chunky.

Then there it was, just a split second opening and Benson let loose with the arrow. It flew strait at true finding it mark. The beast let out a scream that shook the ground as the arrow pierced its eye right though the center of its pupil.

Benson let smiled to him self as he watched the beast pain.
Let’s hope this helps even the odds a little he thought.

Then he joined the others as they prepared to attach...

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 04-03-00 17:40 ET (US)     92 / 145       
Now the whole party was in the battle, slashing, shooting, or tending to other's wounds. There was never a dull moment. The beast never tired, though by now the whole party was exhausted.

Bensen and Chunky loosed arrows, while Thoren and Wendolin waited for a chance to charge the beast. Randorian shot his magical darts. Suddenly, Marcus Lindicus tumbled out of Jayhawk's cloak and flew right at the beast. Distracted by Marcus, the beast turned around and swatted at the quick cherub. It was the chance Thoren and Wendolin needed. They charged at the beast, accompanied by Bensen's pather. They drove a mighty charge, but soon they had to withdraw as the creature swiped out with his deadly claws.

The creature had taken plenty of blows of the enchanted blades and seemed to weaken. The party was unrelenting, and arrows still flew fast. Just as the party thought that the beast would collapse, there was a blast of light and the forest changed into disgusting marsh. Jayhawk called to them.

"The forest is magical; it is always changing!"

The ground was damp and unstable, and the party noticed a nasty looking pool of bubbling green liquid a short ways off. But then the beast was after them.

The beast seemed to have a new reserve of energy. It rushed the group, but Randorian stopped it in its tracks with a fake (but incredibly realistic looking) lightning bolt. The hesitation gave Wendolin and Thoren a chance to rush the beast once more. Inflicting blow after blow, the beast was forced to retreat. Not wanting to be isolated from the group, the paladin and the swordsman withdrew back to the others. With a roar, the beast was back, charging them again. Another blast of light followed, and the party was in a vast desert.

With a groan, the party prepared to defend themselves again.

posted 04-03-00 17:58 ET (US)     93 / 145       
Taking Randorian's lead, Wendolin decided now was the time to use her magical resources.

She called the others to stand back, then threw her spell - the ensnare spell. This quickly surrounded and entangled the beast in thick vines, as tough as steel. He stood confused, madly trying to break the vines.

Wendolin then threw her "Death Lightening" spell - it struck him right on the tail and he roared and screamed in pain.

Right at this time, the rest of the party charged once more and hacked and slashed away. Finally, Thoren dealt an almighty blow with his mace, and the creature dropped to the ground. It lay in the midst of its death throws, and managed one last roar before it died "Zooooooooooooooordemon".

The party, totally exhausted stood by and watched, totally bewildered by the events. The forest changed back to being a forest, and a relative calm surrounded them.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 04-03-2000).]

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 04-03-00 18:32 ET (US)     94 / 145       
WOW! Go Wendolin !

After wounds were tended to, the party decided it was time to sleep. Bensen and Thoren took first watch, Jayhawk and Chunky second, and Wendolin and Randorian last.


"My lord, the travelers have defeated the Earth Demon."

Zordemon laughed. "They have no idea what they are in for next!" Zordemon waved his hand and muttered a few words.

Bensen and Thoren were being relieved by Jayhawk and Chunky when Bensen heard a rustle in the leaves. He went over to investigate, but nothing was there.

During their watch, Wendolin and Randorian poured over the one scroll they had of the forest. The next day, they planned to find that big dead oak they had found before the battle and try the scroll's chant there.

Soon day was upon the travelers, and they were beginning to set off once more. Bensen tensed....he heard something. The travellers stopped what they were doing to watch him. Suddenly, Bensen muttered one quiet word.


Then they were back in the swamp environment. Over at the green pool thousands of black bees were massing, each dipping their stingers into the green liquid that the party hoped was not poison.

Although the bees were small, Chunky and Bensen loosed their arrows, knowing that they must hit something in the black and green clowd that was rapidly approaching them. Randorian fired tiny darts 10 at a time with deadly accuracy, but there were too many for the part to fend off. Even Wendolin's lighning bolts could not thin the masses of bees. Thoren yelled, "RUN!!!"

With no other sensible suggestions, the party took to thier horses and retreated. But the bees were quick. They were catching up, and the horses were being worked too hard. Then Randorian had an idea.

"Hide...let me handle this! Just trust's an illusion!"

He held up one hand and there was a great flash of light. When the party could see again, Randorian was in the midst of the bees! Thousands of bees were stinging at him.

Wendolin gasped, "Let me help him!", but Thoren silenced her and told her to trust Randorian.

The party watched as tons of dead bees started piling up below Randorian's feet. Soon, only a couple scores of bees were left. The bees left Randorian and started flying at the others. Randorian suddenly appeared by the others, and shouted, "Wendolin, now, your lightening bolts! Arrows, come on, there arn't many of them!"

Though belwildered, they obeyed. With Wendolin taking out great masses with her bolts, Chunky and Bensen skillfully sniping at them, and Randorian taking then out ten at a time with tiny darts, the remaining bees didn't last long. Soon the travelers were safe, and they appeared back in the forest.

"So, how did you do it?" asked Wendolin.

Randorian explained. "I hid myself with my magic, then made an illusion of myself among the bees. Really, there was no one there and I was near you all the time."

Wendolin began to understand. "I get it! Then the thousands of bees were all stinging and poisoning each other!"

Randorian nodded, and the travelers continued on their way.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-03-00 22:27 ET (US)     95 / 145       
"Well done, Randorian," called out Thoren as he and the others heard the story of his illusion and the self-stinging bees. Lysette was strangely quiet throughout. She had a distant look in her eyes and the pink of her cheeks was fading. Even as she rode her horse next to Thoren she said not a word, but became paler and paler.

Then, without a word of warning, she tilted in her saddle and fell forward onto the neck of her horse. Before she could role to her side and fall to the road, Thoren was beside her and swept her up into his arms. She painfully opened her eyes and whispered these few words. "Bee, my neck...The oak, Thoren, milk of the bee." Then she closed her eyes and began to breathe shallowly.

They placed her on a blanket on soft ground. As Thoren did so he noticed a swelling on her neck. As he moved her head to see it better a dark object fell from the girl's hood. A dead bee. She had been stung. The tiny stinger had not remained embedded, nor had the abdomen of the dead bee. Less of the poison than usual had found its way into Lysette's body. But it was enough to take the girl's life slowly rather than quickly.

Randorian knelt down beside them. "Did she say anything to you?" Yes, she said "The oak...milk of the bees."

"She's quite right you know." The sudden unexpected voice startled all of them. "It is a cure for her infection. Such a pity. She's a very pretty girl. So very young too. And she never did harm the Earth Demon at all. Such a shame she should pay for your excesses."

"Who are you?" Wendolin said to the old woman in a shawl who had appeared before her.

"You don't know me? Think Palladin! Of course you know me. You trod my desmenes all of your lives, all of you! Some till it for food. Others mine it for wealth. None of you do it good." She sighed. "But that is why it is there, so I must give it my care to see that it serves living things well. From trees that never move to creatures like you who do."

"Earth Spirit, we mean you no harm." Wendolin finally had understood who the woman really was.

"You have brought harm to this girl, not to me," the old woman retorted. "Soon she will become part of my desmene. That is, unless you heed her words."

Thoren reacted immediately. "Tell us of the Oak, woman, and be quick about it!"

"THOREN!" exclaimed Wendolin. "Please, Spirit, we do not want her to die."

The old woman frowned at Thoren then turned to look at Wendolin, "Well... She could be referring to the tree over there, or the tree there...or maybe that old hollowed out oak over there. Actually, bees are very picky about the trees they select. You have destroyed the Earth Demon and his allies, the bees. Their "milk" is yours, but then you must leave." So saying the woman began to fade away and disappear.

"But Spirit, we don't know what the milk of the bees can be."

The Earth Spirit suddenly reappeared. "My you are slow-witted for being such a brave lady. It's honey...the bee's honey is its milk. Now find it and begone!" The old woman disappeared for good.

Lysette looked as pale as ever and her breathing had become more labored. Gillandra stayed with the girl while the others searched the nearby woods. The hollowed out oak was Randorian's target. And he ran there as fast as his legs would carry him.

Pharaolympics 2000 Competitor
posted 04-03-00 22:59 ET (US)     96 / 145       
Hi Civis!

Randorian stood before the massive oak sniffed the air. He had always had a keen sense of smell, and had noticed a sweet scent near it when they past it earlier. There was definatly a bee's nest here, though he knew he did not have to fear the bees.

Randorian knew that he should be the one to climb the tree. He knew that the others had too much of a burden with their armor, and in case of danger, they would need it. Randorian, however, was perfect for the task, as he could just as well use his magic up a tree than on the ground.

Before Randorian began his climb, he chanted the words he had memorized on Wendolin's scroll.

"Terr Vior Mahattya Hir"

After repeating the chant a few times, there was one, final flash of light. When the travellers could see again, they saw the old spirit of the Earth retreating into the depths of the old oak. Randorian heard her whisper to him "I will do your climbing for you, young one!"

The bee's nest fell through the air, landing softly on a pild of leaves. As he looked over into it, Randorian noticed a shiny piece of metal. Picking it up, he looked at it.

He flipped it over and looked at it.

Thoren came over to get the "milk" while Randorian took the medallion for inspection.

[This message has been edited by RSC (edited 04-03-2000).]

[This message has been edited by RSC (edited 04-03-2000).]

Eminence Grise
posted 04-04-00 11:04 ET (US)     97 / 145       
As Randorian was looking at the medalion Jayhawk picked up the broken hive and sat down next to the oak tree.

He started breaking the papery object in smaller and smaller pieces, covering his hands in wax and honey. The air seemed to grow thicker around him as he mixed them in to a sticky paste.

"It's not working. She's not reacting." Thoren said his face grey with worry.
The minstrel looked up.
"Could you get me some of those herbs growing on the oak tree, as well as some leaves and a bit of that mushroom?"
"Will it help Lysette?" the proud Norseman asked.
"I don't know, I honestly don't know."

Thoren returned with two handful of vegetable matter and dropped them in Jayhawk's lap. Then he sat down on his haunches. The minstrel broke up the offering and mixed them into the paste.

"What is he doing?" Benson asked.
"I don't know, " Wendolin answered him, her hand on Lysette's pale brow.
"Yet, there's a shimmer in the air a noise in the ground. It's as if the forest is holding it's breath."

Jayhawk stood and walked to the tree. As he approached he started to sing, softly a song with strange liquid vowels and odd trills.
"It's the old language" Randorian, who had walked back to Wendolin, said.

The minstrel started to smear the paste into the holes and gashes on the tree's mighty trunk. His hands moved up slowly closing the lightning damage. The paste cover the holes, merged with the rough bark. Up his hands moved as the leaves took on a more verdant shade.

Acorns appeared and fell to the ground. Immediatly takin root and sending out small green shoots. The light in the grove turned golden, as the tree was restored to it's original glory.

A shape appeared between the branches and descended.
Chunky gasped.
"That's impossible, " Benson muttered.

The clothes were the same as before, but no longer torn and dirty, the shape ws still tall, but no longer barren and old as a rich vitality seemd to flow of the woman that stepped down from the tree. Her hair was the rich copper of leaves in autumn and blossoms nestled in it. Her eyes wer e green as grass. Her face, almost painfully beautiful.

Jayhawk went down to one knee.

The Spirit took a step towards him and placed her hands on his shoulders. She kissed his brow and spoke, her voice rich and vibrant.
"Rise, Childe of the Aeir."
She turned toward Wendolin and knelt beside the still body of Lysette. She stroked the girl's hair and kissed her on the lips. Lysette coughed and shivered.
Thoren rushed to her side.
"My thanks, my lady, what ever you wish I'll do" the Norseman said.
"You have done enough, my friends, you have restored me and my power. My blessing on you and your travels."

With those words the spirit faded.

Civis Romanus
posted 04-04-00 21:34 ET (US)     98 / 145       
Ave RSC! Beware! Trouble is brewing for Randorian and it begins with a capital "L"

"I was a little hard on that old woman, wasn't I, Wendolin," said Thoren as they continued their passage to Featherdell.

"Understandably, Thoren, you were worried sick over Lysette," replied the Palladin.

"That's true, but nonetheless I was still too hard."

Jayhawk spurred his horse up to Wendolin and Thoren. "You need not overly chastise yourself, Thoren. You actually did exactly what she wanted you to do. You also, Wendolin.

"Huh? How's that, Jayhawk?" they said almost in unison.

"First of all, she was forced by Zordemon into her "old hag" state. Secondly, she was prevented from helping us directly by the spell put upon her. She truly wanted to help, but she could only help one forcing us to seek out the bee's honey on our own and return her to her normal state. If you remember, she ordered us out of her forest; then she pointed to all of her trees when we asked the location of the bee's oak tree, because they were all oaks and this way she would not single out the tree where honey could be found. She told us what the bee's "milk" was, but not where it was. The spell prevented her from telling us the location of anything. She challenged us to stay and find a cure by making us feel unwelcome.'

'You, Thoren, responded just the way she hoped, angered and determined to find the cure. And you, Wendolin, asked the most important question of all when you asked about the bee's milk. Randorian held the key to the solution with his curiosity about the old hollow oak tree. His sense of smell helped too."

Randorian heard the conversation, especially the part that included use of his name. He looked shyly away not wanting to appear too pleased with himself. As he did so, his eyes locked with Lysette's who was riding not too far from his side. She flashed a brilliant smile intended only for him. Randorian's cheeks flushed red, he stared for a moment quite flustered then looked away. Lysette giggled.

"Methinks one young girl's spell of attachment may be weakening somewhat," said Thoren in a low voice to the others, who also noticed the exchange between Lysette and Randorian.

"Hmmmm," said Jayhawk, rubbing his chin. "I wonder..."

But before he could investigate further, the quiet village of Featherdell appeared before them on the north side of the Shimmering Lake. They had little to fear from this village unlike the village with two inns they had left behind days earlier. The real problem would come at the crossing of the river north and west of Featherdell. There was a bridge, but this bridge was said to be held by a troll. They doubted as things were going that it would be a friendly troll. They seldom were anyway.

The travellers decided to spend the night in Featherdell, replenish their supplies and take their chances with the bridge on the morrow. Little did they know or anticipate that it would be Lysette who would be the key to passage across the Merrybrook River Bridge.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 04-04-2000).]

posted 04-05-00 16:19 ET (US)     99 / 145       
The weary travelers rode into Featherdell. It was a quiet little community with people moving about their day to day business. Most people paid little or no attention to the traveler as they made their way into the city. The party began to relax as they made their way to the one inn in the town. On the placard was the image of a woman that could have been any bodies aunt holding a tankard upside down with the last drops of beer dripping out. The words under the image read “the inn of the addled aunt”.

“This looks promising” remarked Benson as they prepared to enter the inn.

Then they entered the inn to find…..

posted 04-06-00 15:37 ET (US)     100 / 145       
Featherdell was a peaceful and friendly little village, which was quite amazing considering it was the "last frontier" town, and in the midst of hostile territory.

Before entering the inn, the group had walked the horses down to the stables, and tended them laborioiusly to ensure they were rested well for the next two nights (Wendolin had intended that they stay that long, to enable Gillandra to pay due worship at her Temple of Eir, which was just outside of town).

Like all the travellers, Wendolin had groomed and brushed Whispering and reapplied the unguent (provided by Gillandra) to the scar on the horse's flank. The wound had healed miraculously, and was now only a faint reminder of the battle at Shimmering Lake where she had sustained the wound. As she applied the ointment, the horse nuzzled her neck, in gratitude and love for her mistress the Paladin. Wendolin had kept her committment received from Wintersong to care for the animal.

After they were satisfied that the horses had plenty of oats and water, they walked wearily up the streets to the Inn. As they passed, many of the houses were warmly lit, and the tinkling sounds of lutes and flutes could be heard coming from behind their doors. Rumour had it that in fact this town was under an elven enchantment of protection, placed their by Wintersong herself. The people clearly benefited by this, and lived a life of friendship and peace.

Marcus Lindicus, who still rode in Jayhawk's pocket, popped his head out every now and then, and was delighted by what he saw of the village. It was just his "cup of tea" he thought, and beamed and chuckled occasionally.

They opened the door of the inn, and a warm and friendly crowd greeted them. There was the smell of tasty food and freshly baked bread wafting into their senses, much laughter could be heard from one corner, and in another, some of the local youths were folk dancing.

Before they could step much further into the inn, a huge woman came bounding over to them, laughing somewhat hysterically, and greeted each one of them - "Welcome, welcome, welcome - I am Aunt Merrychatter, and you are all welcome in my Inn. Dear Wendolin the Paladin, I've heard much about you, and there you are Thoren of Torvold, you look much braver and more handsome than I heard. And let me see... ah you must be Master Jayhawk the Minstrel, it is indeed an honour to have you here - I hope you will share some of your music and poetry with us during your stay. And ah yes, I can see you peeping out there Marcus Lindicus - you are a jolly looking fellow - and I'm sure you'll enjoy our food and wine. And there you are young Lysette, my dear, let me take your cloak - it is damp with the night air. Ah Master Chunky - you are a fine strong-looking hunter, and I see a brave heart within you. And this must be Benson (and your faithful panther companion), I am indeed delighted to have you here, I've been told of your closeness to the earth and have prepared a nice warm pallet on the floor of one of the rooms upstairs just for you, because I know you don't like sleeping in beds" she winked. "And High Priestess Gillandra" she continued, "it is indeed a pleasure you have graced us with your presence. Ah and this must be Randorian - you are so young to be travelling these roads - but stay and enjoy your respite here my friend."

The group was overwhelmed with this bonhomie, as none had ever met the innkeep. Wendolin had to ask "...but, er... do you know our names? We are just a group of weary travellers, and none of us have had the pleasure of meeting you before."

The innkeeper gave out a great belly laugh, and replied "Ah Wendolin, you are far too modest.... the land both far and wide has heard of your travels and adventures. We have been expecting you, and let me reassure you, you are welcome by all in our village."

With that, she swept them over to a large oak table right beside the fire, and within minutes had served steaming hot food, enormous amounts of crispy bread and mulled wine. Her friendliness and good spirits washed over them all, and they soon felt the reviving food healing and mending their wounds and weariness.

Marcus Lindicus was overjoyed - he flitted from one bowl of food to the next. Before too long he had eaten so much, he just flopped down right in the middle of the table, lay back and said "Bliss", then before you knew it, he was sound asleep, and even chortling in his sleep! The group all laughed at their friend, for such a look of contentment was indeed infectious.

After a while, Aunt Merrychatter returned to their table, and said "And now my friends, we have rooms for each and every one of you, and my dears...." and she burst into a fit of giggles at this, "some nice hot baths which you sorely need". And so she led them upstairs, and even Chunky and Benson were pleased to be spending the next two nights in such a warm and hospitable place.

After their baths, the group retired to their rooms, and not long after, each and every one of them slept the sleep of the innocent. By morning all were more refreshed than they had been since the start of their journey.

Amazingly when they woke, each had a fire lit in their rooms, though none had heard anyone entering during the night before. All their clothes had been washed and hung dry in front of the fire.

After a hearty breakfast, and before long Gillandra, Randorian, Chunky and Wendolin headed off for the Temple of Eir. Chunky had been asked to accompany them, as his wound to the arm was still nasty looking, despite the daily care and application of healing ointments applied by Gillandra.

Meanwhile, the others decided to explore the village in the daylight. They needed to find an armoury to repair some of their armour, and a weapons shop, to fix some of their weapons.

The streets were cobbled, there was a creek forded by a little bridge that ran right through the centre of town, and also there were flowers abundant gracing the boxes in front of every house.

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 04-06-2000).]

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