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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).]

Eminence Grise
posted 03-12-00 13:09 ET (US)     1 / 145       
"Innkeeper stop grumbling. Get the lad a glass of mulled wine. Lad, come over and join me at the fire."

Chunky looked up and saw a tall slender man sitting near the fire, dressed for travel, with leathers and linnen. The colours were mainly greens with some red braid work. A lute lay next to him, his hair was dark and there was a peculiar cast to his eyes.

"Somewhere I've seen that face before," Chunky thought.

posted 03-12-00 14:06 ET (US)     2 / 145       
Sitting in the corner, observing the new arrival Chunky with interest, Wend the Paladin was contemplating her next quest. While she had enjoyed the company of her fellow questers on that trip, she hoped the next wouldn't be as fraught with danger as the last, where they had had to to save the king's heir, who had been kidnapped by the dreaded Mordor.

The room seemed to be full of strangers this evening, though the atmosphere was friendly.

She sat contemplating what the future would hold.....

posted 03-12-00 15:24 ET (US)     3 / 145       
Chunky leaned his staff by the door, pulled back his hood and made his way to the table with the slim man. A mug was bought down sharply on the table before him; the innkeeper glared at Chunky and went back to his bar.

"Have you travelled far?" Asked Jayhawk.

A big grin split Chunky's face in two, "How long has it been?"

Wend watched the scene with interest, and contemplated whether she should introduce herself.

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

Eminence Grise
posted 03-13-00 06:34 ET (US)     4 / 145       
"Must have been almost a year, I think?" Jayhawk replied "You're looking well."
Chunky grinned.
"Been busy chasing goblins."

Jayhawk looked up and caught the eyes of a dark haired woman sitting at the opposite side of the inn. Some bright strips of cloth tied around her jair kept it out of her face. Her clothing looked somewhat worn but of better than average quality. The leather showed signs of being used togther with chainmail, more often than not.

"Chunky, we're you expecting anyone?" his friend asked.

Eminence Grise
posted 03-15-00 10:16 ET (US)     5 / 145       
Come on, Wen, we're waiting for you!
I'll introduce you myself then...

Chunky glanced over his shoulder.
"Not really." he replied, "Attractive woman though."
He turned back to his mug of wine and dipped into the steaming content.
"This is so good, " he mumbled.
"So, " he asked, looking up in his companions sea green eyes, "heard any interesting news?"

Jayhawk smiled, took his lute from the bench besides him and started tuning it.
"I heard some new songs"
He smiled again and played a merry tune.
"I meant business wise, " Chunky interrupted him.
"Oh business, but music is my business."
His eyes twinkled and he burst out laughing as Chunky grimaced.
"Oh, Chunky, don't be so serious. I have heard an interesting story. Sit and listen.
I was travelling the Duchy of Coranmaire where I met a one-eyed tavern keeper. He hosts the Crown and Finch, in Aran-Dar. I played a night or two to three or was it four, in his establishement, and one evening I asked him abou thow he lost that eye."

The scrape of a chair on the rough floorboards could be heard behind them. As they looked up they saw the darkhaired woman appraoch them.
"Allow me to introduce myself, " she said.
"I am Wendolin of Coranmaire and I would like to hear your story."

Marcus Lindicus
posted 03-15-00 10:30 ET (US)     6 / 145       
Unbeknownst to the patrons a small shape was peering in from a rain soaked vantage point just outside a window. If the small form could have been seen the observer would have wondered how it hovered there. Bobbing slightly like a bumblebee. Tiny wings furiously flapping to keep an impossible weight in the air. Not much larger than a child's doll it was almost laughable. Yet the small shape was intensely interested in what the green eyed traveller was about to say...
posted 03-15-00 13:33 ET (US)     7 / 145       
A wide grin broke onto Chunky's face; he loved it when the pretty girls came over to say hello.

"Hail Wendolin, I am Chunky." Jayhawk couldn't help himself, and laughed at the words the unfortuate Chunky had chosen.

"And I am Jayhawk. Please be seated."

Wend pulled up her seat, and reclined gracefully. "You were speaking of Coranmaire?"

"Ah, yes, Coranmaire..."

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

posted 03-15-00 14:45 ET (US)     8 / 145       
Wendolin sat and listened intently as her fellow travellers recounted their tale of the one-eyed bar keep of the Crown and Finch. A tear reached her eye as the songs and tales finished, remembering her idyllic youth in the place.

Just at that moment though, she caught site of the cherubic form of Marcus Lindicus in the window, and it reminded her of the important business at hand.

She waved one hand imperiously, ordering him to join them. The cherub fluttered his way into the tavern and over to the corner where they sat by candlelight, dripping large puddles from his rain-soaked wings, and puffing frantically from all that hovering. He could bearly catch his breath before she continued ....

"While I have enjoyed your tales and music my friends, we have much more serious business here at hand this evening.

I have just received word from the King of Mordor himself, and he has given me an important quest. It will be fraught with danger and peril.

The quest is to retrieve the magical cloak of Z'al, which has been stolen from the palace.

If we succeed, the world, as we know it, will remain.

If we fail, our world 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.

I am looking for a team of fellow adventurers... we have a long journey in front of us, and time is of the essence.

Will you and your chosen companions join me? I am in need of fighters, clerics, mages, archers and rangers."

Civis Romanus
posted 03-15-00 21:33 ET (US)     9 / 145       
Suddenly the door to the inn swung violently open and a man of medium heighth, face and body covered in a heavy hooded robe, trod into the inn dripping water from the drizzle outside.

The man said nothing. He simply continued his heavy footed walk making his way straight over to the fire in the fireplace. He stood there attempting to dry off as the densely woven material's outer surface shed droplets of rain water that couldn't penetrate the hooded robe.

Warm and reasonably dry again, the man sat down at a table. Under his hood he casually glanced at the tavern guests, Chunky, Jayhawk and Wendolin, without any sign of recognition or interest. They couldn't see his face for the shade cast by the hood over his head.

Finally he spoke, "Innkeeper...Meat and ale...some bread. I have coin to pay." The man tossed a small bag onto the table and the distinctive jingle of coin could be heard by all, as could be heard the hint of a Norseman's accent.

"Yes, of course, in a quick moment, Sir," replied the innkeeper.

Ale, meat and bread was placed before the hooded stranger in short order by the innkeeper, who was promptly paid. Before eating, the stranger shifted in his chair. Ever so slightly Chunky and the others could hear a distinctly metallic sound, as if a metal object suddenly brushed another of the same material. And the man's robe made a subtle change at his side, as if a very long object moved downwards to avoid interference with the chair in which he sat; the kind of movement a sword would make if belted to the man's side. A very large, long sword.

Jayhawk studied him closely, that is, to the extent the robe permitted a view of any kind. He has the right heighth but I can't really be sure, he thought. He decided to find out. "Civis Romanus, have you come in from the rain to surprise us this evening with a disguise on your voice?"

The hooded man raised his head, the hint of a pair of intense blue eyes only barely visible. "If you are addressing that to me musician, I'll answer you once and only this once...I know no such man as this...this Civis Romanus. Now leave me to my supper and attend to your lute."

His hooded head lowered once more as he continued consuming his meat, bread and ale. The others in the inn stared at him in silence then continued their conversation about their quest for the cloak of Z'al.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-15-2000).]

posted 03-16-00 01:23 ET (US)     10 / 145       
heh heh heh - I REALLY like that Civis
Eminence Grise
posted 03-16-00 10:05 ET (US)     11 / 145       
Marcus, I'm picking your description here based on the fairy like image in your signature...
Do correct me if I'm wrong

Jayhawk shrugged and returned to his companions.
"Who did you think that was?" Chunky asked.
"A friend...a friend with whom I shared great adventures, far, far a way and long, long ago. I must have been mistaken."
He played a few soft and melancholy notes then looked up the light of the fire reflecting in his eyes.

Jayhawk looked at the cherub, who's fine wings were slowly returning to their natural gossamer selves. The little creature still looked cold, though.
From one of his pocket's the musician produced a silver thimble, into which he poured a small measure of mulled wine and handed it to the cherub.
"Thank you" Marcus piped up, took a deep draught from it's tiny cup and handed it back to Jayhawk.
"More, please?"

"So, " Chunky asked
"What, except for the pleasure of having your lovely self for company, are the benefits for joining you in this little escapade?"
The paladin looked at the young man to see if he was trying to be funny...then she answered
"The king has offered 10,000 royal sovereigns for the return of the mantle."
Chunky spread his hand and did some quick calculation on his fingers.
"I'm game" he replied.
"I'm a fair swordsman, and have managed to get out of some sticky situations, by wit and smart fingers. Where do I sign?"
"Can I come too?" Marcus asked.
"I'd better come along then too, " Jayhawk said.
"You? " Wendolin aksed, "why would I want a minstrel?"
"Well, " he smiled, "who else to write a ballad of this epic journey?"
"Jayhawk's a fount of arcane knowledge, " Chunky chucked in.
"...and who else could keep an eye on you all, " the angel thought under his breath.

[This message has been edited by Jayhawk (edited 03-16-2000).]

Marcus Lindicus
posted 03-16-00 11:17 ET (US)     12 / 145       
The small wispy wings of the tiny cherub beat with emphatic abandon. It took a major amount of calories to supply the energy needed for him to make a quick ascent. It took even more for him to do a full loop at the top of the appex. But he did it for emphasis as a cherub can't raise his voice by any noticeable volume.

"Jayhawk, I think you would be well advised to let these mortals go on there own!" Marcus hissed to the Angel.

"Now Marcus, what are you so concerned about?" Jayhawk said nonplussed.

"There is something, I can not tell you what, but there is something," the small cherub demonstratively stated.

"Your warnings are duly noted Marcus. While I appreciate your caution I believe I can handle anything that might come up. After all, when have you ever seen anyone get the best of me?" the angel said plaintively.

"Oh...alright! But I still don't like this!" And with that the tiny cherub did a nosedive into the bard's pocket in a fit of pique. The others tried to stiffle their laughter and managed to keep the amusement to smiles. But in the back of Jayhawk's mind he could not help but wonder what Marcus could be so stirred up about.

Civis Romanus
posted 03-16-00 11:59 ET (US)     13 / 145       
Once more the door to the inn opened into the drizzle of the evening and this time two figures entered, the smaller propelled forward by a push from the two large hands of the much taller figure. The moderate hint of a woman's figure was visible around and about the loose fitting clothes she wore. The smaller person sobbed quietly as she waited for the man to decide his next step.

The man looked around the inn and selected a table near the fireplace and next to the hooded stranger. Tersely, he commanded the girl...for girl she was, 15 years at most, somewhat shortly cut brown hair wetly cupped to her head and framing hazel eyes. Dirt on her face was streaked with the marks of rolling tears. Her eyes were red and her cheeks were pink from the effects of the cold, damp night air. Underneath the marks of misery hid a not unattractive heart-shaped face.

"Get me food, girl, and drink. What's left you can have, if any." He laughed at some inwardly directed joke. The girl immediately walked over to the innkeeper to make good on the man's orders. The innkeeper frowned. He did not approve of such treatment. He had daughters of his own, now grown and married. Not the way a father should treat his daughter.

The hooded stranger never lifted his head. "Your daughter is cold and should receive the warmth of the fire before she is made ill," he said.

The gruff master of the young girl snarled in response. "Your business is on your table, knave. Daughter? Hah, she is but a wench from the road. I keep her for amusement and labor. Daughter indeed! Hah!"

The girl heard the exchange and lowered her head in obvious shame. She took the food and drink from the innkeeper but avoided his probing eyes. Her head turned away from the three strangers at the other table, especially the sharp eyes of the tallest of the three, the one who played the lute.

Two steps from the master's table the toe of the girl's travel worn right sandle caught in the uneven edge of a floor board. The unfortunate tripped, dumping the tray of goods into the lap of her master. He leaped up in shock and anger and without hesitation aimed the back of his hand across her face. The girl staggered under the blow and fell behind the chair of the hooded stranger. The master advanced on her intent on administering a second blow. She brought up her arm to protect her face, but his hand never reached it. The master's arm was locked in the quickly raised right hand of the hooded stranger.

"I can't abide a beater of women. Leave this place and lick your dinner off your shirt like the animal you are."

The master howled in angered fury and attempted to reach for some hidden weapon. The hooded stranger reacted faster. The blade of a hunter's knife suddenly appeared in his left hand with its point at the master's throat. Knowing his opportunity was lost, the master allowed himself to be pushed out of the inn and into the drizzle outside by the hooded stranger. The stranger closed the door behind the master and returned to his table. He said to the innkeeper. "See that she is warmed, cleaned, properly clothed and fed. I will pay."

The innkeeper, his daughters in mind, declined. "Payment will not be necessary, Sir. My wife will take care of her..." He walked towards the back room to fetch his wife, then hesitated and turn around. "I...I have daughters, Sir." The hooded stranger understood and nodded. The innkeeper turned to find his wife.

The young girl stared at the hooded stranger with gratitude and curiousity, mingled with the hint of new fear. Who and what is this man, this new master, she wondered. The hooded stranger returned to his supper. The innkeeper's wife appeared and collected the girl, bringing her into the comforting warmth of the innkeeper's quarters.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-16-2000).]

posted 03-16-00 13:25 ET (US)     14 / 145       
Chunky shrugged, and turned to finish his drink. While the robed man moved quickly, there was something not right about his appearence, and so Chunky decided to let Jayhawk handle him. After all, these two probably had some kind of history. Leaning back in his chair, Chunky chose this moment to reveal what he knew about the cloak that the party were to begin searching for.

"From what I have heard, the cloak was woven and tailored by none other than the holy Uldi-arix herself."

"Fanciful nonsense," offered Wend, "everyone knows the cloak was crafted by Leart, tailor to the fifth king of Mordor."

"Hmmmmm, ok, but lets just ignore the history for a while. What we do know is that the cloak is magical, and shouldn't fall into the wrong hands."

Wend snorted, "Which is why we should return it to the king of Mordor!"

Chunky chose this moment to grin. "We could do that, but don't you think that it would be more fun to see if, after we have the cloak, we could return it to Uldi-arix?"

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori

[This message has been edited by Chunky (edited 03-16-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-16-00 15:15 ET (US)     15 / 145       
Chunky: Please humor me by deleting the last sentence of your reply below. The man is still a stranger so don't misjudge him yet. Besides, the girl is supposed to be in the back room with the innkeeper's wife. I understand it's not obvious as I had to terminate my reply before I could establish that fact. I've edited my reply to show this now. Lastly, please do proceed with the discussion of the cloak. It also isn't obvious but the hooded stranger is listening intently. There's a signal in the story I'm looking for. Guys and gals, I'm revealing my e-mail address in my profile once more if you need background communication. Good story, Chunky. Glad you started it.
Wendoolicus: Thank you You're a great confidence builder -Civis Romanus

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-16-2000).]

Eminence Grise
posted 03-16-00 16:59 ET (US)     16 / 145       
Jayhawk was watching the stranger intently, while at the same time trying to remain focussed on the discussion around him.
He refilled Marcus'cup. The cherub accepted and stuck out his tongue.
"Jayhawk, " Chunky turned to his friend, "what do you know about the history of the cloak?"
"Hmmm...the cloak?" the angel replied thoughtfully.
"I remember having heard the goddess made that cloak for a human she fell in love with. Now what was his name...Galain, he was called, Galain of the Northern Woods."
"Who was Galain?" Wendolin asked
"Galain was a hunter. He lived with his wife on the edge of the Norhtern Forest. One day, while he was out hunting, the goblins came and burned his cottage, killed his wife and their unborn child.
Galain went mad, he vowed revenge and went out killing goblins.

His passion was noticed by Uldi-arix. Galain, was a handsome man and with the fire for revenge making him glow, the goddess fell for him. She tried to make him fall in love with her and took on the guise of a young woman. Galain found her in the forest, wrapped in tattered clothes and the cloak. She told him she had escaped from the goblins using this cloak.

Alas for her, Galain, brought her to the nearest village and left her there to go hunt the goblins. She managed to give him the cloak, with which he managed to enter the goblin lair of Radach Ost. He slew hundreds of them, but in the end the filthy creatures managed to defeat him.
A foul human mage working for them, created an illusion of Ilenya, his dead wife and as he walked towards her glowing figure they killed him.

Uldi-arix was unconsolable and sent some of her guardian spirits to clean out the goblin warrens. The mage, Z'Al, escaped, and took the cloak with him.

Since then it has changed hands several times, until Branholm the Bright defeated the lich Cowlstar and presented it to the Lord of Mordor.

And that is all I know..." the bard concluded.

Civis Romanus
posted 03-16-00 21:45 ET (US)     17 / 145       
Conversation continued among them until Chunky asked the question on everyone's mind. "Wendolyn, you've told us the cloak was stolen from the Lord of Mordor. But you haven't told us the most important least I think you haven't. Who does Mordor believe stole the cloak?" All three leaned forward to hear the answer...

At that moment, the door to the innkeeper's quarters opened and a much transformed young girl walked out accompanied by the innkeeper's wife. Her short brown hair was dry and all traces of grime removed from her face. Her cheeks were still rosy pink, but now with the flush of a fresh washing and the glow of youth. She was dressed in a townsgirl's shirt, laced top and ankle length skirt in mixed colors of brown green and black. She wore the same sandels as before but they were dry and mud free.

The innkeeper's wife prodded the young girl to move forward. Finally, she took the girl's hand and brought her over to stand before the hooded stranger. "I found some clothes my oldest daughter used to wear. They seemed the right size," said the woman.

The stranger raised his head so that his intense blue eyes and one small curl of hair from his head were visible. The hair of the curl was golden blond. "She has been well cared for, Madam. I thank you," said the stranger.

The young girl reached deeply within herself and finally found a small well of courage. Placing her hands on the edges of her skirt she curtsied smoothly and said, "I thank you Sir for your kindness to me." She quickly looked down not wanting to see the stranger's eyes as they peered at her.

"What is your name?" he asked.

"I am called Lysette, Sir."

"Lysette, are you hungry?"

She looked up quickly, hopefully. "Why, yes Sir, very much so." The stranger looked at the innkeeper's wife but was spared the asking. "I will see to a meal for her, Sir. Shall I bring it here?" said the wife.

"Yes, Lysette will have her dinner here at my table. Please sit here." He pointed to a chair and she sat down an expression of wonder filling her face.

"Sir, is it really permitted? My previous master made me sit in a corner of the room with what food he spared me."

"Yes, Lysette, it is permitted. First, I am not your master. Nobody is your master anymore. Second, you sit at a table. You are a girl, not a dog. And one thing more, you shall have the food and drink you want, not what will be spared.

A meal, but with fresh milk not ale to drink, was brought to the girl by the innkeeper's wife. Lysette looked once at the stranger, who nodded, and then the girl swiftly attacked the plate of stew before her. "Easy, young lady. The food will not escape I assure you," said the stranger with the first hint of some good humor behind the voice.

Very soon she finished her stew and the last of her milk. A smile of contentment formed on her face which she flashed prettily towards the stranger. He addressed the innkeeper who had returned to the serving room. "Do you have a room for the night?" The innkeeper's face fell immediately, as did the girl's. "We are full, Sir, as you can see," he replied coldly with an accusing look in his eye.

The stranger didn't fail to notice the innkeeper's changed demeanor. "For the girl, innkeeper... Are you sure you have nothing for the girl?" The innkeeper's expression changed once more. "Well, I am sorry Sir but... Oh! I think I do, I shall be right back."

The innkeeper left and returned almost immediately. "If it will be permitted, the girl may stay in our daughters' room. They are both married and live in their own cottages. She will be very comfortable there, I believe."

"That will do excellently," replied the stranger. "Good night, Lysette."

The girl realized she had been dismissed and began to walk away towards the door to the innkeeper's quarters. Impulsively, she whirled about and dashed to the side of the surprised stranger, pulled back a corner of his hood, exposing his cheek and an ear with a gold ring in its lobe. Then she placed a warm kiss on his cheek, whispered "Thank you, Sir", ran towards the living quarter's door and disappeared through its portal.

"You're welcome," the stranger said bemusedly after she had run from the room. Then he returned to his tankard of ale, freshly refilled by the innkeeper's wife as the young girl had been eating her supper. To all present it seemed the hooded stranger had returned to his own thoughts, but in reality he was listening attentively to the conversation among the three travellers at the nearby table.

posted 03-17-00 08:41 ET (US)     18 / 145       
Wendolin had sat quietly, watching the activities of the "stranger" while listening to her companion's speculations and tales. All of the inn's other patrons had left, as the hour was now very late, with the exception of "the stranger" who sat, still hooded and alone at his table in the flickering candlelight.

She decided it was time to speak:

"According to the Lord of Mordor, the cloak has changed hands many many times. It is well known in history that he who holds the cloak, holds the possibility of having absolute good and evil power over the whole realm. However, to exercise that power, the holder of the cloak must also obtain the Staff of Purgatory, which we know was buried deep below our own Glooming Mountains in the north of the realm after the last war.

For the past several decades, the cloak had been kept safe against evil forces, and held under a special spell summoned by the king's own 5 mages. The spell they had cast was the strongest in this and all kingdoms, and could only be broken by one who was stronger in evil magic than all the king's own mages.

It is clear now to all in the court that the only person who may have stolen it is the cursed mage-king of Varnathnagor himself, Zordemon the Black. He rules all evil forces throughout the lands, including the Radach Ost goblins amongst others, and it is his aim to take over all realms for his own evil purposes.

His kingdom lies many, many leagues to the north of our own, separated by much wild terrain, several rivers, and the Glooming Mountains themselves.

It is our Lord Mordor's fear that Zordemon may find out where the Staff of Purgatory is buried. We have had traitors amongst us who have been bannished, and it is rumoured that one in particular, who knows much of our history, has joined forces with Zordemon.

So my friends... our task is twofold... to retrieve the Cloak of Z'al and make sure that Zordemon the Black does not get the Staff of Purgatory.

The journey will be perilous - not only because the long winter is about to set in, but because all the evil zorcs and goblins, already under the power of Zordemon, inhabit much of the lands between here and the mountains."

Her companions sat in gloomy silence for a while, imagining the horrors should Zordemon take over the land, and also imagining the horrors of the proposed journey itself.

While they considered these prospects, Wendolin turned to "the stranger" and said.... and now, my friend, it is time to reveal your true identity. We are amongst friends..... will you be joining us?

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-17-2000).]

posted 03-17-00 11:10 ET (US)     19 / 145       
About that time the door of the inn opened and a figure entered. He was of medium hight and build under his dark brown cloak. He carried a slinder stalf taller than himself. He made his way silently to an enpty table and sat down without making a noise. He sat there quitely as if lost in this thoughts. he removed the hood of his cloak to reveal a round face youthfull looking man with short sandy brown hair that had hints of red in the low light of the inn.

He face revield nothing as he scaned the room and looking at the motly gathering before him. He paused on the man with the loot and gave him a slight nod befor looking at the other people in the room. The one thing that stood out about this stranger was his eyed. They were grey/blue/green noone was ever quit positive which collor they were. They also spoke of someone who has seen more than his youthful apprearance whould indicate or he as older than he looked. You could just never be sure whick it was.

When he got the eye of the inn keeper he motioned for him to come over. Whent he inn keeper arrived In a quit yet commanding voice he requested a meal of meat bread with a tankard of ale. Then he sat quitly and waited.

Civis Romanus
posted 03-17-00 11:52 ET (US)     20 / 145       
The hooded stranger lifted his tankard and drained the last drop of ale. Slowly, hands shifting unseen items into new positions under his cloak, the stranger pushed his chair back and rose to his feet. With deliberate steps he approached the table surrounded by the three travellers. He directed his piercing blue eyes at Wendolin. Jayhawk closely watched the stranger's every move. Chunky made a mental inventory of his own weapons and where he carried them. Wendolin returned the stranger's stare with equal aplomb.

"You are remarkably brave for a woman. I doubt it's the company that you keep that makes you so bold," said the hooded stranger. "A musician and an aspiring swordsman," he continued, head motioning to Jayhawk and Chunky in turn.
But I have heard you, woman; and I have interest in your quest. Say again the name of the man who holds the cloak you seek."

Wendolin held his stare and answered immediately, "Zordemon The Black." She noticed the stranger's involuntary forming of a fist with his right hand, so tightly clenched it trembled with unbridled emotion. Then the hand relaxed.

The stranger pulled back the hood of his cloak revealling a young man's face of about 27 years of age, clear, without battle scars. His blue eyes continued their relentless piercing look at Wendolin. She noticed the golden ring in his right ear. Symbolic of something? Or just an adornment?
His golden blond hair curled in long lengths from the top of his head to the base of his neck, above his shoulders.

The rest of the hooded cloak fell off his shoulders and torso as he collected it in his arms. At his right hip the falling cloak revealed a heavy sword with its tip ending below the strangers knee. On his left hip rode a battle axe. The travellers couldn't see where the stranger hid the hunting knife he drew out earlier. His chest was protected by heavy layered cloth and leather, two belts crossing at his chest. The belts were clasped with large rounded metal clasps, looking like miniature shields. Trousers completed his dress. Leather boots protected his feet. His presence belied his moderate heighth.

Wendolin involuntarily blinked, drew a breath in and self-consciously allowed it to leave as secretly as possible. Her heart raced along at a somewhat unusual pace.
New feelings for her, she struggled inwardly with these odd responses and emotions. But order came at last to her mind and soul. "You are well-armed stranger. Expecting to fight a war?" she said in a bold manner.

"Just a powerful man, bold lady," he replied. "My name is Thoren, of the Lodge of Torvald. I seek the one you call Zordemon The Black. He is the man who murdered my brother. I care not for your cloak. But I will see him and any with him dead before my quest is finished. I am skilled in sword, axe, knife and archery. It suits me to join your quest. Or you may join mine. Otherwise, I am content to travel alone. It is your choice, bold lady."

"Should you join us, what of the girl?" asked Wendolin.

"The girl... Yes, young Lysette. I believe there is a way. She has become my responsibility. I will see to a solution. I say again, woman, what is your choice?"

Jayhawk continued studying the man Thoren. The curling hair (unusual in the Norse)facial expressions, heighth, surly demeanor, kindness to women (well, Lysette at least).
So similar, but so different. Yet...Is there a connection?

Meanwhile...Wendolin considered Thoren's proposal, briefly hesitated, then answered...

posted 03-17-00 12:44 ET (US)     21 / 145       
Before Wendolin could answer the stranger in the brown cloak spoke up.

"Do I uderstand that you are planning a quest to retrive somthing that Zordemon The Black has taken from its rightful owner." He sain getting up and swiftly approaching the little group. The venom in his voice and the cold glare in his eyes.

"I do not care what he has taken." he continued as he survey the group. "But I would consider it an Honor the be alowed to help such a noble endevor."

"As for your brother Thoren, of the Lodge of Torvald, I am deeply sorry to hear that M...Zordemon The Black killed him but know you this that you are not the only person to loose a loved on to this madman and unless we stop him..many more will suffer your brother's fate."

As he finnish he released the cloak that had shrouded his appearance. The cloak parted to reveal a man clad is a well worn leather breakplate. Tucked in ih belt was a long hunting dager and the hilt of a sword peaked out from behind his right shoulder. He wore leather breehced and leather boot protected his legs and feet. Tucked into one of the boots was another hunting knife.

"I am know as Benson the Wanderer and I offer my huble talents and ablities to your quest if you will have me.

Wendolin looked at him thoughtfully the Besson Spoke as if to answer the question in every one mind. "Yes, I have been wronged by the vile Zordemon The Black and I have my reasons for wanting to see him destroyed but now is not the time for that tail. So will you let me Join you Quest?" He asked.

Wendolin studdied the two men you have come foward to join her quest then answered....

Gill Britannica
posted 03-17-00 13:33 ET (US)     22 / 145       
Just a small question from an avid reader - what's a mage?
Civis Romanus
posted 03-17-00 15:33 ET (US)     23 / 145       
Gill Brittanica: You aren't the first to ask, so don't feel like the Lone Inquirer. A magician is someone who practices sleight of hand, visual trickery or illusion, but cannot weave or cast spells. A sorceror is a magician who has learned the art of weaving or casting spells. A mage is a highly experienced sorceror who practices his art with great perception and wisdom and is qualified to undertake the task of teaching others. Hope this helps.

Thanks for reading our stories. Care to join in?

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-17-2000).]

Civis Romanus
posted 03-17-00 15:49 ET (US)     24 / 145       
Thoren turned as the newcomer, Benson The Wanderer, made his request. He noted his kind expression of sorrow for Thoren's loss of his brother. Thoren wondered if this self-proclaimed wanderer was Norse. Much about him reminded him of others from his homeland. He would inquire more later, that is, if he should be in the man's company after this evening.

He turned once more to the woman named Wendolin. "Now two of us await your answer. I, for one, am growing impatient with your delay. Answer if you would, or I will take care of my business here and be on my way." He looked at Wendolin anew to see if she would answer.

posted 03-17-00 18:28 ET (US)     25 / 145       
Wendolin considered the tidings from both Thoren of Torvold and Benson the Wanderer.

She had heard tales of Thoren's might as a warrior and could see from Benson he would have skills as a ranger, should they traverse the harsh lands together.

She took stock of their number -

  • Chunky the Archer, who's ability with the cross-bow were known throughout the realm
  • Jayhawk the Minstrel, who would be useful because of his vast arcane knowledge, and history of the land
  • Marcus Lindicus the Shapechanger, who would help with his shape-changing abilities be able to fly, unseen, into enemy territory
  • Thoren of Torvold, the warrior knight
  • Lysette (whom she suspected may have some thieving skills, considering her harsh background, but who could help their quest in other ways)
  • Benson the Wanderer - whose Ranger and Archer skills would conme in handy
  • and herself, Wendolin the Paladin, with fighting and some magical capabilities.

She answered them all -

"Thoren of Torvold, I also understand your cause. It will be wise for us to join forces, as our goal is common. And you, Benson .... your skills are sorely needed for our quest. I only wish ....."

As if answering Wendolin's thoughts, at that very moment Gillandra the High Priestess of Coranmaire stepped out into the light. Wendolin had thought she'd seen something move in the shadows, and breathed a sigh of relief when she recognised her friend. Their party would surely be in need of a cleric's skills, for healing and protection spells would be required on the dangerous journey that lay before them.

Wendolin asked eagerly... "Gillandra, will you join in our quest?" Not a word was spoken by the priestess, but after a moment she nodded in agreement.

Relieved, Wendolin continued...

"I would propose we set off tomorrow eve. That will give us plenty of time to gather our supplies, and organise our maps for the journey. We must travel in darkness to avoid being seen by Zordemon's black allies throughout the land. You will all be required to gather your armour and weapons, and we will meet down by Meanderall River, on the outskirts of town, at the stroke of midnight. Are there any questions? If not, I suggest we get some rest to gather our strength for the long journey before us."

[This message has been edited by Wendoolicus (edited 03-17-2000).]

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