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Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 09-29-01 13:27 ET (US)         
THE MIST OF TIME
An Adventure in Post-Roman Brittania


WRITTEN BY:
CIVIS ROMANUS, DUAN_XUAN, GILL BRITANNICA, JAYHAWK AND ZIGZAC.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS:
ARITHMIAL, CAESAR ALAN, CIAN MCGUIRE, CYBER PALADIN, DARTHBANE, JAGUAR AND THE PHOENIX



PERSONAL CHARACTERS (Author):

ANGUS: Tall, ruddy-haired, unshaven northern Scot. Carries a double-bit (twin-bladed) battle axe.(DarthBane)
ARITHMIAL: Tall, steely grey eyed stranger with short cropped hair. Rides Brandis, a white stallion. (Arithmial)
AURELIUS: Paladin who wears unusual armor. Has dark brown eyes; long, unbound, fine black hair. Elegant face and behaviour. (Cyber Paladin)
AURIGA: AKA-The Phoenix. Ancient but appears 20ish. Slender, slightly taller than avg. Black hair. Wears a black cloak. (The Phoenix)
BEVAN: Young Celt doing Ysbrand's bidding. Real name is Cedric. Actually a Brit not a Celt. (ZigZac)
CIAN OHEAGHRA: 28-year-old male of the OhEaghra Clan. Black hair, bright blue eyes. Carries a falchion. (Cian McGuire)
FEIMAR: Courageous boy (12 years). Orphan. Ebony brown eyes. Dark complexioned. Agile.(Duan Xuan)
JAYHAWK: Tall immortal with green eyes; disguised as a lute-playing wandering minstrel. Unseen ebony wings. (Jayhawk)
KYRIN: 20ish woman with very pale skin and red hair always worn down, hiding her ears. Short. Wears a glimmering green cloak with many pouches. Carries a quarterstaff and a sling. Launches unerring missles. (Jaguar)
LESTRA: 20 year old daughter of Angles Chief. Auburn hair, reddish highlights, grey eyes; intelligent, rebellious, resourceful, comely. (Gill Brittanica)
LIAM: 23 yr old Paladin of Glynden. Tall, broad-shoulders, brown hair, green eyes. Married w/children. Favored weapon is a dbl bladed long sword. (ZigZac)
NYLA: Sister of Lestra. 18 years old. Longish,dark red hair. blue/green/grey eyes. Milkwhite complexion. Exceedingly jealous of older sister. Temptress, prettier than Lestra; trained by Budra in mysticism and related spells. (Civis Romanus)
RUADAN: Of Leinster; 24 yr old priest who wears the Black Robes of Iona. Frail, bookish. Cousin of Cian OhEaghra. (Cian McGuire)
YSBRAND: Saxon warlock; broad shouldered, tall; has shoulder length brown hair; blue/grey eyes. Charismatic. Travels with menagerie. Carries a twisted wood staff and enchanted weapons. (ZigZac)

NON-PERSONAL CHARACTERS (Author):

BUDRA: Old woman who lives in hut in the forest that borders the Angles village. Secret teacher of mysticism and spells. (Civis Romanus)
GLYNDEN: The name of the village protected by "The Mist". (Civis Romanus)
HORSA: Saxon Chief w/Hengist (Jayhawk)
HENGIST: Saxon Chief w/ Horsa (Jayhawk)
GLYNT: Saxon dwarf who travels with Ysbrand; serves Ysbrand and cares for menagerie. Emissary for warlock. (Civis Romanus)
KLAX: Chief of Angles tribe. Grey'd elder of tribe. Beleagered father of Lestra and Nyla. (Civis Romanus)
TALISIEN: Celtic Elder and Mystic. Protector of the Cauldron. Some say he once was called Merlin. (Jayhawk)

LINKS TO RELATED THREADS:

DISCUSSION THREAD and CHARACTER DETAIL THREAD

ALL MEMBERS ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE - PLEASE STATE YOUR INTEREST IN THE DISCUSSION THREAD.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-21-2002 @ 09:13 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Gill Britannica
Inactive
posted 11-27-01 05:44 ET (US)     76 / 109       
Lestra gazed into the distance. “Don’t you see, Nyla? This is just what we need. If we had the cauldron, it would help our people get away from the Saxons. We wouldn’t need their protection any more.“

“You mean we would fight them?” asked Nyla doubtfully.

“No, not fight them – they’re our allies, silly. But it would mean that we didn’t have to do everything they say. We’d be independent.”

Nyla bit back the retort she had nearly uttered. She didn’t like being called silly, especially with Bevan listening, but knew that, for now, she must stay on good terms with her sister. If they ever found this cauldron, then that would be a different thing altogether. Her dream, even as a little girl, had been to be the most powerful person in the land and this cauldron seemed to be a good way to go about achieving her ambition. But until then she needed all the help she could get.

Bevan, too, remained silent. Pangs of guilt kept assailing him. He felt he owed it to these brave girls to explain why it was he who had to have the cauldron but he couldn’t dash all their hopes yet. He knew if one of them asked him outright he would have to tell the truth. Lying was alien to his nature and his sense of honour, but he would deal with that if it ever happened.

Lestra looked at her two companions, both lost in their own thoughts and wondered, briefly, what it was they were thinking about; but it was time for action, not dreaming, so she stood up and went towards her horse.

“Come on daydreamers – we must go. Nyla, you go and thank the Village Chief for sheltering us. We must stay on good terms with these people because you never know when we may need their help. Bevan, you go and charm some of the women of the village to let us have some food and drink for our journey. I will get the horses ready.”

“But where …” Nyla began.

“Onwards and westwards of course,” Lestra replied with a smile. “If this Celtic Sea is as far away as people say, we have a very long journey before us. And you, Nyla, need to keep your strength for we will need all your powers to charm the cauldron away from the Paladins who guard it.”

Nyla knew in her heart of hearts that, however she might portray her powers to her sister,they would not be strong enough for what was to come; but she tossed her head and, as she walked towards the Chief’s house, called back over her shoulder “No problem.” She would worry about it later. Now they had a long ride in front of them and plenty of time to use her ordinary feminine powers on Bevan. “He won’t know what’s hit him” she thought to herself with a secret smile.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 11-28-01 22:06 ET (US)     77 / 109       
Cian O'Heaghra shrugged his shoulders. "Alright, so he'll have a headache when he wakes up. I really didn't hit him that hard... And we needed the boat anyway."

Ruadan and Feimar shook their heads. "Couldn't we have stolen it in the middle of the night or something?" asked Ruadan.

Cian's eyes opened wide in feined shock. "Why cousin, are you saying you approve of the theft of this boat? You being a religious man and all?"

"No, I do not approve of it Cian, but more so I do not approve of a perfectly innocent person being slammed on the head."

"Innocent? Look more closely, Ruadan. See what he is before you protest too much."

Feimar tugged on Ruadan's sleeve and pointed to the markings on the unconscious man's exposed arm. They were the tatoos of a Saxon barbarian. "He's a Saxon, Ruadan," said Feimar. "He's a heathen. Those are the symbols of his gods Wotan and the like."

Ruadan looked a little more closely seeing the symbols for himself. The priest felt blood rushing to his face, changing it from its typical pale complexion to a bright crimson. "As long as he will live..." Ruadan started to say.

"He'll be fine," said Cian. "Just a headache I assure you. Now help me with this craft. We've little time to waste or the Saxons will be on us in great numbers."

The three of them shoved the large boat into the water of the Celtic Sea, rowed it past the surf and raised the single sail to catch the wind that blew from shore to open sea. Soon all three were soaked by cold sea spray, but persisted on their westerly course towards the isle Cian suspected was somewhere not too far away.

ZigZac
Pleb
posted 12-11-01 07:14 ET (US)     78 / 109       
"Liam!? Liam!? Where are you!? Liam!?" Caitlin shouted. She was surrounded by darkness and fear.

"Caitlin!? Caitlin!? I am here!" He replied, but the darkness only seemed to fade his voice into nothing. He wasn't even sure if she could hear him.

"Daddy!? Daddy!?" Sean yelled as hard as his little voice could.

Liam ran in every direction he could think of trying to follow the voices of his beloved wife and child. Finally, he heard no more. Only the sound of his breathe, which even seemed to be muffled be the darkness.

He opened his eyes and his wife was leaning over him.

"Liam? What's wrong? You must have been having a nightmare." She said smiling.

"Huh? What? Oh, you're here." he said then hugged his wife. "I had a horrible dream that I couldn't find you and Sean. It was so dark and I couldn't see and you and Sean kept yelling my name."

"Its alright. Sean is in the other room and I am right here. Now come in the other room and eat your breakfast." She said softly running her hands through his hair.

He got up and started to put his clothes on. He caught a glimpse of his sword that Moira gave him. he noticed that a faint glow was coming from it. He shook his head and didn't think anything of it. "Just my eyes still waking up." he thought. He ate his breakfast with Sean and Caitlin then got dressed to return to post.

As he was walking out the door he turned to Caitlin and said, "Something or someone is going to be coming to the town soon and I would like it if you and Sean stayed with your father until everything calms down. I will come to see you as much as possible, but my posts will be longer and I will not get a lot of time to spend with you. Evil is coming and I don't want anyone in the village to get hurt, especially you or Sean. I love you so much and I don't know what I would do if I ever lost you."

Caitlin knew her husband never lied to her or to anyone, no matter the consequence. "I will go with Sean. I love you too and I am sure that Sean does. I will leave here soon after you go."

He kissed her good-bye and held her in his arms for what seemed only a second. He turned mounted his horse, and with his new sword and crossbow rode off over the hill to the village to start his days work.

Caitlin went inside. She found Sean playing in his room. "Honey, we have to leave. We are going to see grandpa, ok?"

"Ok, mommy." Sean said looking at her with his innoscent eyes. They packed and in a few minutes were off towards Glynden.

"Aurelius!" Liam shouted as soon as he could see his friend. Aurelius turned and looked at Liam. His eyes looked Liam up and down. "Is something wrong?" Liam asked noticing Aurelius examinint him.

"No. I just have one question though. Has your sword, the one you got from Moira, seem to be glowing?" he asked.

Liam pulled out his sword. To both of their surprise it was glowing, and brighter now than before. "There's your answer. But why did you ask" Liam replied. Aurelius pulled out his own sword and showed it to Liam. It too was glowing. "Strange are these weapons that we have recieved from Moira. I wounder what there purpose is. I know that they are holy swords, but of what origin are they?" Aurelius said eyeing the runes on the hilt of his sword.

"Moira said that you and I will find out when the Merlin comes back. Whenever that might be. I hope soon, though. I haven't seen him since I was but a child." said Liam looking out over the hills.

[This message has been edited by ZigZac (edited 12-11-2001 @ 07:37 AM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-12-01 15:35 ET (US)     79 / 109       
The journey for Lestra, Nyla and Bevan seemed shorter than they expected. Nyla kept her thoughts to herself on this leg of their adventure. The others suspected, somewhat, that something strange was at work here. Maybe there was a reason Nyla remained quiet. Oh well, they were at the shore and it really didn't matter. They had arrived safely and that was what counted.

Valuable too was the presence of the Celtic village nearby. It's chief was more than happy to order three of the village's best warriors to accompany Bevan and the two Angles women to the legendary isle. He knew as did all other Celts of the power of the Cauldron. Its capture would be a great achievement and its power would help ensure he would become king of all of the Celts. This of course he left unsaid. His orders were straightforward to his three warriors: Assist Bevan and the two women but be sure the Cauldron is brought to him and to him alone. Once in possession of the Cauldron, the three outsiders would be expendable.

Sea spray doused the six in their large high-prowed, high-sterned, curve-hulled Celtic sea vessel. The single sail captured the power of the relentless ocean wind and used it to propel the ship towards the western horizon. No need for oars this day. The gods favored them it seemed with the finest of winds.

Now and then they thought they could see in the distance the very top most point of another ship's single mast; but intervening swells and the great distance between them made it impossible to be sure. Regardless, it seemed nothing else was on the sea that day that could possibly threaten them. So Bevan, Lestra and Nyla maintained their places in the celtic ship and let the three sea warriors from the village guide the vessel to its destination... wherever it might be.

____________________________________________________________

"Steer North!" bellowed Ysbrand to the Saxon manning the tiller. "North, I say! We don't want that other vessel to see us!" The tillerman swung the tiller and the ship headed north by northwest. Soon, even the tip of the mast of the celtic ship could not be seen. It was then that Ysbrand began to breathe more easily.

No. The last thing he wanted was a fight at sea. In these waters no one could be sure of the outcome. His first priority was to find the isle, not sweep the seas clear of Celts. Ysbrand turned to give his full attention to the sea stretching out before him. The isle... Where is the isle...

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 12-12-2001 @ 03:49 PM).]

ZigZac
Pleb
posted 12-26-01 08:52 ET (US)     80 / 109       
Merlin woke Arithmial.

"There is no time. We must make extreme haste towards Glynden."

"What is the matter?" Kyrin asked a little astonished at the concern on Merlin's face.

"Glynden is going to face its worst foe yet. We must return quickly."

With that they packed up their belongings and started quickly towards Glynden. A storm was already brewing and the sky was growing dark.

____________________________________________________________


"It's coming. The 'Evil' is coiming or this storm would not be brewing. The Myst doesn't like letting these people in, but it must for some reason unknown to me." Aurelius said breaking the silence that him and Liam had fallen into.

"Well then we better get ready then shouldn't we?" Liam repied with a little of a smile.

"This isn't a thing to joke about." Aurelius reminded Liam of the seriousness of the situation. "Remember what Moira said."

"I remember." Liam looked down at his saddle and then pulled the sword out that Moira gave him. It was glowing even stronger and seemed to grow brighter every second. "Aurelius? Look at your sword." Aurelius pulled his sword out and it was glowing too.

"I wonder if Merlin will ever make it here in time. I am not sure if we will be able to do this ourselves. After all, there are only about 7 of us here to guard the village."

"We should wake them up and get them ready also." Liam stated. Aurelius nodded and Liam rode off toward the village to wake the others up.

____________________________________________________________

It was dark, not only dark, but pitch black. He could feel his breath on himself every time he breathed out.

"Its so stuffy in here." He whispered.

"Shut up, Feimar. You'll get us all caught." Cian whispered back.

"But these barrels are so small and dark. And I am so cramped." Feimar complained. "I want to get out."

"We will when the ship stops." Cian said strictly and sharply.

____________________________________________________________

"Land! I see land!" yelled Nyla. Pointing a little north.

"Where!? Where!?" Lestra said running to her sister's side.

[This message has been edited by ZigZac (edited 12-27-2001 @ 09:18 AM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 12-31-01 13:36 ET (US)     81 / 109       
Feimar pitched forward in the hold of the small vessel landing hard on top of Ruadan as the boat came to a sudden halt. Under his breath he mumbled something about finding land gently instead of like a stone striking the earth. Both crawled out of the hold to see what the boat had struck.

The beach was mist shrouded and damp, but its appearance was familiar. Cian pointed to a place where a wood structure still stood. "See... That is where we beached and repaired the ship. This is the right island. Let's get off this bucket and see what there is to see."

Impulsively, Cian leaped off the boat and into the shallow beach water even as Ruadan called out that they should be cautious. His words of warning failed to register as he saw his cousin wade to shore and walk directly to the wood structure.

____________________________________________________________

"Hear that, Lestra? Hear the breakers?" said Nyla excitedly. The sound of waves crashing on the shoreline of some distant beach increasingly filled their ears.

"Steer to that south beach, Milady?" said one of the warriors to Lestra.

"Yes, to the beach."

Their vessel pushed its bow into the sand a few hours later and the six of them gathered their weapons and other necessities for the journey inland.

Duan Xuan
Pleb
posted 12-31-01 21:23 ET (US)     82 / 109       
Just as Cian was about to step ashore, Feimar and Ruadan heard shouts behind them. Turning around, they saw the enemy in the distance- Ysbrand.

They still had time to run. However, when they turned back to Cian, he was gone. Alarmed, the two of them jumped right off the little boat and into the water. As they reached the shore, a mist settled in. They couldn't see each other.

Suddenly, somebody grabbed Feimar by his arm and into the bushes. He was knocked unconscious instantly.

_____________________________________________________

"Faster! Faster!" Ysbrand roared to his rowers. They had to cross the waters with hand-made rafts, made from the wood from the trees. The seer didn't see why he should settle for something as poor-quality as a raft. When he had seen Cian and the rest near the island, he was even angrier.

Just as they were about to reach the isle, they couldn't see it anymore. The Mist had settled in, and they couldn't see anything further away than a couple of feet in front.

As quickly as it had come, The Mist faded out. In front of their eyes was a thick forest. With several Paladins unsheathing their swords in front.


D XUAN

[This message has been edited by Duan Xuan (edited 12-31-2001 @ 09:24 PM).]

ZigZac
Pleb
posted 01-10-02 10:05 ET (US)     83 / 109       
"Stop them!" ysbrand yelled pointing to the three men standing on the shore. Just as he said these words six huge men jumped off the life raft and started chasing the two men and the strange boy with them. Cian, Ruadan, and Feimar started running for their lives. They ran and ran until their hearts felt like exploding.

"We have to fight." Cian told Feimar and Ruadan. "We can't out run these men forever." Just then seven men on horses carrying strange armor and weapons stepped out of the trees.

"We will help you. Said one of them to Cian.

"What?" Cian asked confused because last time they were on the island these men were most adamant about them leaving and now they were going to help them.

The six men lept in to sight of Cian, Ruadan, Feimar and the Seven Warriors on their horses. The six men stopped dead in their tracks. They looked at the seven men on horses. The men yelled and started to charge. Ysbrand's men turned and ran away as fast as their legs would run. The paladins chased the six men cutting them down one by one. Cian didn't want these men having all the glory, so he ran after the Ysnrand's men also. Feimar and Ruadan followed Cian imeddiately. Cian caught up to one of the men. The man turned and swung his huge axe for Cian. Cian dodged the axe, in return swung his falchion and the man dropped to the sand. He looked at the man laying on the sand for a breif second then continued his chase.

____________________________________________________________


Merlinm Jayhawk, Kyrin, and Arithmial hurried along trying to get to the beach. They ran and ran. Jayhawk, being the fastest, flew past the rest and headed to the beach where they could see two huge masts. "It has arrived." Merlin said looking at the masts. Then ran faster and faster. A few hundred feet from the beach he stopped. Kyrin stopped also. "What are you doing, Merlin?" She asked. Merlin mummered a couple of words in a strange language. Kyrin heard a rumbling noise behind them. Something huge was walking toward them. She turned and saw a huge block of stone shaped like a man walking in their direction. Her first instinct was to run, but something held her back. She turned toward the beach and saw the paladins of Glynden running on the beach after a few men hewing them down with one swipe of their swords. But she noticed two of them especially. They seemed to be the most valiant of all of them and somthing more...more......she couldn't put her finger on what she felt about them, but she knew they were different from the others. She shook her head after a few seconds and she started to run toward the beach with Merlin, and Arithmial.

____________________________________________________________


The paladins drew closer and closer to their enemy with every step their horses took. They heard a noise from far off. Aurelius looked and he could see a huge figure of a man that seemed to be of stone. "Merlin is not far." he thought to himslelf. He regained his senses and kept riding towards his new found prey. He drew closer to the one man in the front and with one swoop of his sword from Moira he struck down the man. He looked back to see if there were any others, but they had all been killed or captured by the paladins and the three men. He ordered the other paladins to stop. Cian, Feimar, and Ruadan caught up with the paladins a few seconds later. "I know you. We ran you away from the island awhile ago. Why have you returned? And who are these men? You have brought evil upon us and you shall pay dearly, but not after you repay us." Aurelius commanded.

"We did not bring this evil upon you. These men set off from Brittania and we only hid away to follow them." Feimar said bursting forth.

"Who might you be?" Aurelius questioned the young man raising his eyebrow.

"My name is Feimar and I am in thy service if ye are in need of it." He said bowing. A little for mockery, but also trying to be polite. He figured that it would help them to be polite, after all thy were stuck on the island with these men for who knows how long.

____________________________________________________________

Ysbrand watched the events unfold right in front of his eyes. He was watching the paladins and the three men chase his men across the beach. Then he saw "It". A huge figure of a man rose from on the horizon. "What is that?" He thought to himself. He couldn't worry about it now, it was still far away and it would take several minutes to reach the beach. Ysbrand stepped off the life raft and onto the beach. "Glynt! Bring me my spell book...now!!"

[This message has been edited by ZigZac (edited 01-10-2002 @ 10:14 AM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 01-14-02 21:40 ET (US)     84 / 109       
Lestra, Nyla, and Bevan stepped off their vessel onto the fine sand of the misty shore of the heretofore unknown island. Moist misty air coursed around them as if searching for something, then dissipated making the way to the interior of the island visible in the distance between closely located tree trunks.

The Mist considered what it had discovered and permitted the Paladins to confront the other invaders alongside the two strangers and their boyish companion leaving the two women and their four male companions to undertake the Test. Yes, felt the Mist. These new arrivals seemed worthy of the Test. But worthy to receive the approval of the Mist? That is what the Test would prove.

Lestra led them between the two juxtaposed tree trunks and into the darkness beyond.

____________________________________________________________

Glynt handed the book of spells to Ysbrand. Incantation followed incantation as Ysbrand sought the right words to halt the advance of the rock thing. Nothing worked. In frustration, Ysbrand shouted into the air, "WOTAN! Help me find the words!"

The Mist paused. Wotan. This entity is known. He is of high places and mountains as the Mist is of the sea and its islands and shores. A cousin. The Mist considered. I must let these strangers endure the Test as well. It is right and proper.

The rock thing became nothing more than boulders on the beach. The next wave crashed over the erect stones as if they were nothing more than tumbled from the hillside nearby to become an oddity looking like a man but only by suggestion.

Ysbrand stared in surprise. Still staring, he closed the book of spells and handed it to Glynt. Did he truly see what he thought he saw? Was there indeed a thing of stone bearing down on him like a giant man? Or was it only the trickery of a misty shoreline and its stones and fear of a place that is new? Ysbrand shook his head. No matter, he thought. We are safe. He looked for the armored riders, but they were gone as well.

In front lay the entrance into the interior of the island. They would have to pass through a tunnel into the hillside to access the mysteries beyond. Ysbrand motioned to his men to beach the ship and disembark. This they did. Promptly, he led them into the mouth of the cave. They illuminated its darkness with the few torches they carried fabricated from wood, rag cloth and some pitch they found on the ship while at sea.

The Mist noted their entrance and prepared the Test they would have to pass. Ten were in their number. It would not be ten when the test concluded.

____________________________________________________________

Aurelius' eyes suddenly glazed over as if he were communicating silently with someone or something unseen. He elevated his head and looked straight ahead at nothing in particular. Just as suddenly his eyes refocussed and he looked down once again at the three strangers before him. It was to the boy that he spoke first. The Mist wanted it so.

"Your name is Feimar did you say, Boy?"

"Yes, Feimar. That is my name."

"Have you a home or parents."

"No."

"No? Is that how you address a knight who has saved you and spared your life." Aurelius eyes held Feimar's in strict attention.

"Uhh. No. I mean... Uh. No, Sir Knight."

"Aye, that is better. Who are your companions?" Cian resented the boy being chosen as spokesperson and stepped in to protest.

"I say! I am the leader of this crew! I expect you to..."

"SILENCE!" bellowed Aurelius. "You are on the land of my Master and my Master will select who shall be your spokesperson!" The Paladin gripped his long sword as a warning. Cian didn't miss the motion, nor the implication. Now was not the time, he thought.

"As you wish, Sir Knight. We are not without gratitude for what you did for us this day." Cian stepped back, but his eyes never left the Paladins in front of them, nor did his ears miss anything said. Ruadan was relieved that his impulsive cousin didn't make matters any worse than they already were.

"As I said, Feimar. Who are your companions?"

"They are Cian OHeaghra, a chieftan and Ruadan, a priest," said Feimar. Aurelius looked from one man to the other. His eyes settled on Ruadan.

"A priest? Of what Faith?"

"Christian, Sir Knight." Aurelius nodded his head. I know of this faith. It is of interest to my Master."

"Shall we be meeting your Master?" asked Feimar.

"We shall see, but there is much you must do before you shall meet our Master. For now you are safe and may proceed into the island." It suddenly flooded back into the minds of the three castaways that they were being attacked by Saxons. They looked around but saw no sight of the Saxons anywhere... Nor did the arrangement of beach, boulders and trees look at all like anything they remembered. And they could not remember when the change occurred. It simply had.

"Go this way," said Aurelius. He pointed in the direction of a path running between two boulders. "Stray not or you will fail to arrive in the place you seek. My Master commands this. You must obey at your own peril."

As Aurelius said these words, the Paladins, two-by-two, began to leave the sands and disappear into the trees riding on a path visible only to them. Aurelius was the last Paladin to leave. Before he disappeared into the woods, he turned his horse and said to the trio, "The way to virtue, honor and faith is through those stones. You shall see us again when you find all three of these things. It is then that the Master will give what you seek."

Like he was never there, the knight disappeared into the shadows of the forest. The boy and the two men looked at each other and as if of a like mind, they turned and began to walk on the path that passed between the two boulders that seemed to form a portal into the unknown. For them, this was the path to the Test.

____________________________________________________________

"Your stone man is gone!" shouted Kyrin. "How?"

Talisien stared towards where the stone man had walked but which was now nothing more than piled stones. "Because the master of this isle willed it so."

"Why? Who is this master?" persisted Kyrin.

"That will be revealed to you when the time is right. I have learned not to press a question towards the master of this isle until the master so wills it to be asked. Follow me and do not speak of this for now."

Kyrin was about to ask another question, but a glance from Jayhawk silenced her. 'Another time, another place' were the words she read there. Kyrin decided Jayhawk was right.

Gill Britannica
Inactive
posted 02-08-02 14:59 ET (US)     85 / 109       
Lestra, Nyla and Bevan walked between the tree trunks and carefully felt their way along the dark path. The three Celts tried to follow them, but somehow the gap between the trees had vanished before they could pass through it. They looked at each other, shook their heads and returned to the beach to sleep until the others should return.

The three travellers saw light ahead of them and ran towards it. Lestra shut her eyes for a moment, dazzled by the brightness. She opened them and looked around the Angles’ encampment. She saw Saxmund over by his tent, polishing his sword and called out to him.

Nyla, Bevan and the events of the last year had all gone from her memory as she ran over to her betrothed.

“What news is there?” she asked with a smile.

He turned towards her. “Hello, my sweet.” He frowned. “What are you doing here? The news is that there will shortly be a battle and Hengist is expecting us to support him.”

Lestra’s face fell. “Do you really have to go?”

“Of course I do, Lestra. “What would your father say if I turned out to be a coward? It would be the end of our betrothal at the very least.”

Lestra sighed. “Of course, you’re right. I will go back to the women and await your return.”

They kissed each other lightly on the lips and Lestra turned away with a sigh. As she was walking back towards the huts where the women would be sewing and talking she suddenly had a strange feeling. A thought kept entering her mind; a thought so powerful that, although she kept trying to ignore it, it persisted.

She must take some armour and find a sword. She must go to battle with Saxmund. Without her there, he would die and she could never be happy again. She found herself wearing armour and sitting on a horse like a man. A sword was in her hand. She rode her horse over to where her father’s army was standing ready to move off and wondered if the sword fighting lessons that she had had as a child would be sufficient for the forthcoming battle. She shivered slightly, glad that no-one could see her face or her fear.

Suddenly she heard a cry and the horses started to move, slowly at first, but increasing pace until they were galloping. She looked ahead and saw rows and rows of archers in the distance. She took a deep breath and looked for Saxmund. She was there to protect him and would need to be close. She saw his horse and made her way towards him, pushing her way between the other horses and ignoring the oaths that followed her. She positioned herself behind him and looked ahead. The enemy was even closer now.

Suddenly they were in the thick of the fighting. Arrows were whistling over her head. Swords seemed to be flashing all around her. She turned to see Saxmund fall from his horse. Lestra looked around swiftly, unable to see who had felled him. Then she saw her father also on the ground with a huge man standing over him with an axe in his hand.

She had a split second to think – Saxmund, her betrothed, her love, about to be trampled on by the charging horses or Klax, the leader of their people and her father. She knew within herself that she had the power to save one of them. Saxmund, Klax; Klax, Saxmund; love, duty; duty, love. The thoughts whirled around in her head until she suddenly knew what she had to do. She turned her horse towards the man with the axe and raised her sword.

All of a sudden the sound and smell of battle was gone. She was standing with Nyla and Bevan in the sunshine and there was a clear path in front of them towards a small village.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-08-02 15:45 ET (US)     86 / 109       
The opening to the tunnel would permit only two to pass at a time. Ysbrand and Glynt were the first. Ysbrand made sure his dwarf entered first. Ysbrand looked behind himself to see that the Saxons were following in pairs. They were, even as darkness closed in upon them. All that guided them now was a pinpoint of light at the far end of the dank, musky tunnel.

The pinpoint of light grew into a spot, then a disk and finally into a beacon. The sorceror and the dwarf and their ten Saxon companions stepped into the open. Before them lay a vast field. Hundreds, nay thousands of soldiers lay about, all in the throes of death or already passed beyond its portals. Some wore leather jerkins and leather breeches, others wore long woven wool coats. Among the dead and dying Ysbrand also saw fallen soldiers wearing chain mail and cloth bearing a herald he had never seen before.

The killing field was incomprehensibly large for an island so small. Ysbrand knew something was at work that defied logic. Perhaps the answer would be found in the compound field tent he saw in the middle of the slaughter. He bid his men to wait outside and he and the dwarf entered through the loose flap that slapped against the side of the tent as the flap moved about in the breeze.

Men in chain mail rushed by him obviously hurrying to leave. Some carried articles of jewelry, others carried rich clothing, one rushed by with nothing but a ring. This man Ysbrand chose to stop. He grabbed his arm startling the soldier as if Ysbrand had materialized in the soldier's presence from nowhere. The man cowered, never reaching for his sword. Somehow the fleeing soldier instinctively knew not to try.

"What goes here, Soldier? Why do you flee with this ring? Is it booty?"

"No, stranger. Booty is taken from an enemy, not from your own." A groan was heard from the chamber of the tent the soldier had fled from. Ysbrand pulled the soldier back into that section of the tent. There on a cot lay a man of middle years. He wore no clothing, and was inadequately covered by a blanket. A great purple swelling was visible where his groin was exposed. Red lines spread from the swelling down his legs and up towards his chest and neck. His skin was deathly white, but the man was bathed in perspiration. Ysbrand had seen its like before. Death was nearby.

"Soldier, who is this man who lies here unattended, naked and without medic?"

"He is the Conqueror, of course. Our King."

"But he lies here stripped of all things kingly. He has no assistants, no holy men at his side. You and others steal from his body, his bedside, his tent, even while he still lives."

"He cannot be King. He is nearly dead. He shall conquer nothing any longer. We take what we can while it is there to be taken. That is what conquering means. That is why it is done. There will be another king, but for now we must live as we can."

Ysbrand's stomach twisted and turned with each word uttered by the soldier. He struggled to control himself. Finally, he asked, "What is your dying king's name?"

"He is The Conqueror, King of Normandy and England, Ruler of the Angles and the Saxons. His name is William." Surprise bordering on shock struck Ysbrand causing his hand to loosen momentarily from the shirt of the soldier. Alert to the opportunity, the soldier promptly ripped himself from Ysbrand's grasp and rushed from within the tent to the open air outside. Ysbrand decided not to pursue the man and turned his attention to the dying man lying on the cot...

Outside of the tent, one by one, the Saxons in Ysbrand's company faded from sight...

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-08-2002 @ 08:50 PM).]

ZigZac
Pleb
posted 02-13-02 10:01 ET (US)     87 / 109       
The Paladins continued riding for a few leagues then Aurelius raised his hand stopped his horse. The others followed his movement and stopped as well.

"Why do you stop, Aurelius?" Liam asked leading his horse next to Arithmial's.

"What do you think will happen to the others?" He replied looking at the ground to the side of his horse.

"Who? The other paladins, or the strangers?"

"The strangers." He said taking his eyes off the ground and looking at Liam.

"I don't really know." Liam started, "There is one thing I know; I don't like that man, the one with the little dwarf. He gives me the chills." Liam shuddered.

"I think he'll make it" said Aurelius, "but he will be different when he comes out, maybe."

"What about Merlin? When is he coming back?" Liam said looking back towards the beach.

"He's already here. We just have to get back to the village to meet him." With that Aurelius' horse lept away and the other paladins following him.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-15-02 21:53 ET (US)     88 / 109       
The man on the cot groaned as Ysbrand approached. His prone body was as wasted above as it was bloated with putrification below. There were but minutes it seemed left in the man's life. The dying man's eyes opened as Ysbrand leaned over to see what life actually might still be there. He spoke to Ysbrand in a hoarse voice carried on breath that stank.

"Do not let me pass, Stranger! They shall condemn me! Don't let me pass!"

"Condemn you for what?" asked Ysbrand, pulling his head back from the stench on the dying man's breath.

"I die, Stranger. Not any weapon; not an arrow; not a sword or a spear. A pommel, by all that's unholy! That's what ends my life: a horse's saddle. I, William the Great, Conqueror of Angles and Saxons alike, King of England and Normandy! They say of me... killed by his saddle!"

"I cannot prevent your passing, King William."

"True words, Stranger. I expect you cannot. Then the regrets will die with me and I shall be condemned."

"What do you regret, Your Majesty?"

"I dealt with them cruelly, Stranger, the Angles and the Saxons. I took their land by force of arms and gave it to my kind. Then I made laws that dealt fairly with my Normans, but unfairly with those I conquered. Many died as a result... too many by my hand as my laws were its weapon.
Then I conducted a great census and survey... And I used this information to increase the wealth I possessed, giving some to my Norman nobles, taking all from the people I came to govern. They hate me... And with good reason; for I am nothing but a great thief. They know me for what I am."

"Your men fight for you still, it seems. They are victorious in this battle."

The dying man's hoarse laugh followed immediately. "For me? They fight for themselves. I have taught them that path. Now they fight to steal what is mine from me. Thieves stealing from the greatest thief of them all. Irony, Stranger, irony. No one left who cares, no one left who helps, no one left who loves..." The dying king drew in a great breath, a rattling sound began in his chest. "Stranger... do... not... follow...me... or my... ways... Where I go... are demons... demons... damnation... forever..." William's eyes rolled back into his head and he ceased to speak.

Ysbrand found Glynt outside of the tent. His Saxons were gone. So too were the dead and dying soldiers, the field of battle, the rolling hillside. He turned and found the tent he had exited was also gone. In its place was a narrow path leading into the interior of the isle. And on this path were two women and a young man. He recognized all three.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-19-2002 @ 03:26 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-19-02 15:58 ET (US)     89 / 109       
Cian, Ruadan and Feimar passed between the two boulders that formed the portal to the interior of the island. On the other side they saw a village. All three began to make their way to the village. Out of nowhere ten men in kilts stepped into their path. Cian's hand went to his sword immediately. To their swords as well went the hands of the kilted warriors.

The tallest among them stepped to the front. He spoke in the brogue of tribes of the Scots. "Who be ye, beggars? We dinna recognize ye."

"Cian OhEaghra, Chief of the OhEaghra Clan," answered Cian. "These are Ruadan, my cousin and Feimar, our companion. We are not beggars."

"We dinna know of the OhEaghra. It is not a clan in these parts. If not beggars, then what be ye?"

Cian thought quickly. "Castaways." True enough, if not exactly correct, thought Cian.

"All three of the same clan?"

"No. Two of the clan. One is from a land far from here."

"You... Clan Chief, say you. When were you elected?"

"Elected?" Cian didn't understand the word.

"I said 'elected'," repeated the Scot. "Has the sea made you harrrrd of hearing? Elected means 'chosen', picked by the clansmen and clanswomen."

Cian was puzzled. "I don't know what 'elected' means. I am clan chief by birth, as are all of the other clan chiefs."

The ten men facing Cian and the others laughed out loud in derision. "By birth? There is nothing earned in being born. It is what you do with the life given to you that matters. And on this basis is the choosing made by the people with whom you live. Birth indeed!"

"The blood line certifies the right to be clan leader!" shouted Cian. Ruadan began to fidget. This was suddenly not going well.

"Your worth, castaway, to those whom you shall lead will determine your right. That is so in this land."

Cian's anger was rising measurably. Ruadan feared the worst and thought as quickly as he could of a way to calm the situation and his cousin.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 02-25-02 15:31 ET (US)     90 / 109       
"My cousin's mind is addled somewhat by lack of food and sleep. I beg your pardon for the misunderstanding," said Ruadan, placing a well aimed elbow into the ribs of Cian. "I am a man of the cloth, a priest. I beg a boon from your clan and the village I see. Though we have not been beggars until now, circumstances are different and our unfamiliarity with your land and customs has made us so. We apologize for the upset and ask for the custom of hospice for a visiting clan chief and his party." Ruadan bowed deeply to demonstrate respect and humility. Another elbow into Cian's ribs convinced the warrior to follow suit. Ever the opportunist, Feimar bowed as well.

The tall clansman blinked and considered. "Will ye perrrrmit us to carry the weapons now at your sides?"

Cian was about to protest, but he finally understood the magnitude of the odds arrayed against him and remained silent. It was Ruadan who answered. "We shall, to show our good intentions."

The clansman bowed slightly from the shoulders. "I am Gloflin, we pledge our good intentions as well. You may enter the village at your convenience to retrieve your weapons. You are free to accompany us walking where you will. We extend "clansmen courtesy" to you. Welcome to the village of Campbell."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 02-25-2002 @ 03:31 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 03-16-02 12:42 ET (US)     91 / 109       
The villagers of Campbell stared curiously at the strangers escorted into their midst by their clansman, Gloflin. Cian looked all around to see if he could find any trace of the mounted knights who confronted him twice in the past. Narry a one, he thought.

"Ruadan, do you see any of the... uh... Paladins, I think they called themselves?"

Gloflin heard the exchange and slowed his pace to allow Cian to catch up but not pass the tall Scotsman. "Nay, Cian. There are no paladins, nor knights in this village. We have no need of such."

"But we were twice halted by them. Are you sure?"

"You think me daft, laddie? I say there are no paladins because there are no paladins. Let that be an end to it."
Cian, confused, looked at Ruadan. The priest, his cousin, simply shrugged his shoulders. Time would provide the answer.

Cian, Ruadan and Feimar sat before the Chieftan soon afterwards. A small fire, venting through a hole in the roof of the hovel, kept them warm in the breezily cool evening. Glenich, a shorter, less imposing man than Gloflin, seemed meak on the exterior; but Ruadan detected in his speech an intelligence and sensitivity far greater than his exterior suggested. Perhaps that is why Glenich is the Chieftan and Gloflin is the warrior. This village seems to know its needs. Cian should make note of this, thought Ruadan.

"Yes, I am of the bloodline of Chieftans," answered Cian when asked by Glenich.

"That is commendable, but incidental," commented Glenich. "We put stock in achievement and other qualities rather than the source of breeding. I am in my first set of moons as Chieftan. Gloflin there was Chieftan before me. He or I may be Chieftan once more, or another may be selected, who is suitable for the times and circumstances. We trust in the judgement of the village."

"I find that hard to understand," said a puzzled Cian.

"I am not surprised. Selection by bloodline fails to take ability into consideration. There is great responsibility in this role in the Village. Heritage, appearance... these do not indicate skill. Indeed the bearers of such often failed the village in the past. That is why we choose now according to need rather than a mindless selection based on birth. To remove the incompetent selected by bloodline resulted in too much of the Village's blood being shed. Now, time inevitably corrects the error, should an error be made." Glenich lapsed into silence as he studied the expressions on his visitors' faces.

Ruadan asked a question closer to his own world. "Is there a man of the cloth in this village?"

"Alas, no. We lost our only such person to illness five seasons ago. We have no one to give comfort in times of need." Ruadan became lost in thoughts of his own.

"Do you have enemies?" asked Cian.

"The red-caped invaders periodically harrass us. They call themselves Romans."

"But Glenich, the Romans are long gone. Centuries ago."

Glenich frowned. "Your land must be different than ours."

Ruadan muttered under his breath. Cian turned to him. "What did you say, cousin?"

"I said, or the times are different," replied Ruadan.

"I don't understand."

"Neither do I, Cian. It's something I sense rather than know. Romans? Here? Impossible. Yet here we are among a people who know them well as if they lived next door... or in the same time. I wonder..."

Glenich said nothing. He simply stared at his visitors as if dissecting them with his penetrating eyes. Then, with a sigh, he bid them good evening and directed that they be given the use of the visitor's hovel for the evening.

Within the hovel, Cian and Ruadan talked well into the night. Feimar slept, his belly full and his mind bored by the endless conversation about skill, a new home, needs, faith, bloodlines and succession. In the morning, Feimar awakened refreshed and ready for breakfast. Ruadan awakened with his mind set upon a mission, and Cian awakened, a new realization beginning to take root.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 03-18-02 21:12 ET (US)     92 / 109       
By the community cooking fire, where charcoal is manufactured for the village, Cian met Glenich once more as they passed each other on their walks. They greeted each other, but Cian had a question he felt needed answering before the day progressed and asked it then and there. "A question, please, Chieftan Glenich." Glenich paused nodding his willingness to talk. Encouraged, Cian continued. "If you change leaders, Glenich, as often as you say, how do you accumulate wisdom for decisions the Chieftan must make?"

"A perceptive question, Cian. I see you are capable of seeing things as would a Chieftan. Follow me, please." Glenich led Cian to a circle of hovels fronting a smaller community fire. Sitting about the fire were men and women older than most in the village. Some seemed to be by themselves, others seemed to be joined couples, husbands and wives.

"Cian, these are our former Chieftans. They form the Council of Advisors. In situations where guidance is needed, the current chieftan turns to the Council and asks for advice."

"I suppose these men, as past Chieftans, could give counsel on matters that would be beneficial..." began Cian. He was interrupted by Glenich almost immediately.

"The women give counsel as well," said Glenich pointedly.

"The women? But only Chieftans..."

"Yes, Cian, women can be Chieftans in this village." Cian was briefly lost for words, then recovered.

"I see. But in wartime..."

"We match the need at the time to the skills of the Chieftan. If war looms, we select a warrior. When peace prevails, we select a Chieftan who can guide the village in its daily labors, and who is a fair judge of men and women."

"Which of these are you, Chieftan Glenich?" asked Cian.

"If war should come, I shall yield my place to Gloflin. He is a warrior, I am not. And you, Cian? Which are you?"

Cian lowered his eyes as realization took hold that he had pursued the rank of Chieftan with only that thought in mind. He had never thought about its purpose, only its attainment. "I... I never considered this, Glenich. I don't know the answer."

"Time and circumstances will answer it for you, that is, if you will listen to their lessons." Cian looked from the faces of the former Chieftans, to the present Chieftan standing at his side. Cian was about to say, "I shall listen," when his words were interrupted by a trumpet call in the distance.

Gloflin and other warriors boiled out of their hovels, grabbing long swords and shields. Glenich spun on is heels and ran towards his own dwelling. Cian ran at his side, keeping pace. "What's happening?!" shouted Cian.

"Romans!" shouted back Glenich. "Defend yourself and your friends. Join us if you can!"

Cian surprised himself with his response. "I shall, Glenich!" he shouted as he ran towards the visitors' hovel. Cian had never in his life made a decision where his own wellbeing wasn't at its core. This was the first.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 03-19-02 21:36 ET (US)     93 / 109       
"Take care of Feimar," shouted Cian as he ran from the hovel towards the sound of trumpet calls in the distance.

"Take care of yourself, cousin," came a return shout from Ruadan. He made the sign of the cross and said a short prayer before turning his attention to Feimar.

Cian saw a few remaining villagers, armed with farm implements, running towards a rise behind the village. He reached the top with them to find massed just below the ridge the men... and women... of the village. They all stood silently, weapons in hand, looking out upon the flatlands below. Arrayed before them in crimson, bronze and stiff brown leather armor were cohorts of Roman soldiers in numbers equal in size to half of a legion. One Roman in particular stood out among them. He rode a white horse and wore gleaming gold colored armor.

He must be their commander, Cian concluded. Despite the fact these were enemy arrayed against them, nonetheless, Cian was thoroughly impressed with what he saw. The legends were true, he concluded. They could indeed strike fear and awe by just their very presence in battle formation.

Later it dawned on Cian how odd to have this Roman commander speak in the same language as the villagers. "We propose a battle," said the Commander. "Send us your champion and we shall have ours meet him. Your champion wins, we leave never to return. Your champion looses and we shall count your village among Caesar's holdings. Taxes shall be due and payable. We shall forego the usual treatment if payment is made promptly."

Gloflin separated himself from the crowd and approached Glenich. "I shall be the Champion, with your permission Chieftan." Glenich was about to speak when Cian heard a familiar voice bellow forth, "No, Gloflin. I am in this village's debt. I shall be the Champion. Glenich! I will not see one of your good men fight for me. I am not of the village. There is no loss in my death!" Cian was amazed to discover the voice was his own.

Villagers' eyes turned towards him as Cian made his way to Glenich's side. "Are you sure, Cian, that this is what you want to do?" asked Glenich.

"I am sure."

"Then you are the Champion of Campbell. Our hopes and prayers go with you." Glenich turned to call forth to the Roman Commander. "Roman! We send our Champion! Send yours forward." Cian began to walk down the hill towards the Romans. The closer he approached the more imposing the arrayed cohorts appeared. He pulled his long Scottish broadsword from its belt clasp and prepared to meet the Roman champion.

The front line of the massed Romans parted and a mountain of a soldier emerged as if from a cave. He stood better than 5 inches taller than Cian and a hand wider to either side of Cian's shoulders. The Roman carried a pila and the famous short Roman sword. Cian picked a section of ground he particularly liked and waited for the Roman to approach.

The Roman Commander put his cupped hands to his mouth to ensure that Cian heard his words. "I have failed to tell you something, Champion. There are no rules." The Commander started to laugh as did others in the ranks. "Silence!" bellowed the Roman Commander. "There will be time for laughter later... and pleasure."

The burly Roman Champion came to a halt at his own place of choosing and shifted the pila from his shoulder to his hands, its wicked point aimed directly at Cian.

"Begin!" cried out the Commander. Combat ensued.

ZigZac
Pleb
posted 03-20-02 02:57 ET (US)     94 / 109       
Ysbrand started to walk to the three people in the distance. He wasn't quit sure who the three people were, they were too far away still. As he was walking he noticed that Glynt had dissappeared. Thinking that there was no time to go looking for him, Ysbrand decided to keep walking toward the three. As he was walking the trees and shrubs around him seemed to be getting taller. "This is very strange indeed." he thought to himself. He was close enough now to see who the three people really were. On man, a woman, and a little girl. He didn't know what to think. He just stared at them in disbelief. The woman took notice of his presence and pointed him out to the others. The three started to run towards him yelling his name.

Ysbrand's eyes filled with tears. "Mom!? Dad!? Alanna!?" With that he ran towards them as fast as he could streching his arms forward. His arms were not the same. They were the arms of a child. He was a child again, but he could remember everthing that he had done in his life or will do.

His mother caught up with Ysbrand first. "Oh Ysbrand, where have you been? We have been looking all over for you. The hide and go seek game ended almost 5 hours ago. What were you doing?" Ysbrand remembered that on this day he was playing hide and go seek with his friends and his sister. He wondered off until he met up with the river that ran through the village. He walked up the side of the river following it until the bridge passed over it. There he crosed and was making he way back to the village before nightfall.

"I got lost" Ysbrand said is his childhood voice.

"Well, all that matters is you're alright. Now come over here and give your mother a hug" She said squatting down to reach her son better. Ysbrand ran into her arms. "I don't want this moment to ever end." he thought drawing in all the smells of his mom and the feelings of confort and safety that he had longed for for countless years.

"We better start heading back if we want to eat supper soon." Ysbrand's father said putting his arm on Ysbrand's shoulder.

"Yes, we better." Ysbrand said looking up into his father's loving face.

With that they all started to walk back to the village, to their house. Ysbrand couldn't wait to see his house again. He held his mother's and father's hands the whole way to the village. Walking down the path he remembered so much of what he did here and all the games he played with his friends.

They reached the village just before sunset. Ysbrand couldn't believe his eyes. The village was the same as he had always remembered it.

They reached the house and went inside. Ysbrand and his sister went off together to get washed up for dinner while Ysbrand's mom made the food and his dad went about doing his chores before it got too dark.

Dinner was the same as usual. No one really talked just ate in peace. That is untill Ysbrand asked, "Mom? Do you think that the gods would forgive someone if they did horrible even unspeakable things? I mean if they had done these things for a long time, but wanted to change now." Ysbrand's mother was shocked that her young sone would ask such an "adult" question.

"Well, dear, I am sure that the gods will forgive anyone for what they have done, but only if they want to and they try to make amends for all the bad things that they did." his mother said looking at her son then to her husband. She looked at her husband witht the look like he should try to add a little more to the answer.

"Uh, yeah. Your mother's right, Ysbrand." he said with a roll in his mouth.

"Oh, ok. I think I am finishd eating now." Ysbrand said geting up from the table.

After dinner was all cleaned up his family sat beside the fire place listening to his dad talk about the news that he had heard earlier that day. "They say some of the red-caped men are in the area. A lot more than last time. these men are strange. I don't like them one bit. I fear that something aweful is going to happen." Ysbrand's father said. Ysbrand's heart nearly jumped out his thoat. "I'm not sure if I can take watching my family get killed infront of me. I just don't know."

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 03-20-02 16:05 ET (US)     95 / 109       
The Roman tensed and began to thrust the pila at Cian. Correspondingly, Cian held his round shield in front of himself to ward off a possible strike by the pila's sharp point. Thrust, side-step, thrust, thrust, side-step. The Roman maneuvered in a circle around Cian, the circle's radius getting shorter and shorter. The point of the pila getting closer yet.

Then the Roman lunged. Cian saw the changed look in Roman's eyes and knew the attack would come. He parried the pila with his shield and swung his sword at the Roman. Cian's sword struck the Roman's shield sending painted wood splinters in all directions. The Roman staggered back, cursing the weight and power of the Scottish sword. He thrust again. This time Cian's sword struck the shield so hard that it shifted in the Roman's hands and collided with his other hand, the one holding the pila.

The Roman cried out in pain and dropped the pila. Cian swiftly stepped towards the weapon and kicked it away from the Roman's reach. The Roman reached for his scabbord and withdrew his short sword. In the blink of an eye, the Roman was inside the striking range of Cian's sword. The Scottish sword's advantage was its reach and weight. Its disadvantage was the same. With his short sword, the Roman had the advantage when under the range of the Scottish sword's swing.

Cian slammed his shield against the Roman, pushing him back as best he could while avoiding the Roman's attempt to slash and cut him with his sword. The Roman tripped and fell to the ground. Cian saw his own advantage but didn't take its full measure. The Roman gained his feet as quickly as he could, then stood in place a puzzled look on his face.

"Why did you not finish the battle then?" asked the Roman.

"You fell from misfortune and poor footing, not by my sword. If my sword had caused your fall, I would have done what you say."

"Honorable," said the Roman.

"Is there honor among Romans?" asked Cian.

"We shall see, villager," said the Roman.

The Roman Commander's angry voice rose above their exchange. "Get on with the combat, or by the gods both of you will be put to the sword by as many as I have at my side. No rules!"

The combatants, swords in hand, circled each other once more. The pila lay on the ground out of the immediate reach of both champions.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-21-2002 @ 08:15 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 03-21-02 20:53 ET (US)     96 / 109       
This time Cian advanced on the Roman. The Scotsman swung his sword in repetitive arcs, forcing the Roman backwards as the Roman tried to avoid Cian's swing. The Roman's quick, battle-trained mind calculated the right position in the long sword's arc when he should advance on Cian with his short sword. Patiently, the Roman waited. The opportunity finally presented itself.

As quickly as a man could, the Roman ducked and rushed Cian in the middle of one of the Scotsman's swings. Their shields collided. The Roman's shield shattered and Cian's shield was ripped from his hand. The Roman's short sword managed to knick Cian's side, causing pain to radiate and blood to flow. Cian reacted instinctively drawing up his knee and jamming it at full strength into the Roman's solar plexus.

Cian's knee collided with the lower edge of the Roman's chest armor, but the impact had the desired effect. Air rushed out of the Roman and he staggered backwards. Cian painfully swung his sword one more time. The point of Cian's sword drew a creased indentation across the chest armor of the Roman. Both men staggered, the Roman from the blow and Cian because so little of the sword found its mark after his powerful swing. It was Cian who lost his balance and fell to the ground.

The Roman stood there while Cian gained his feet somewhat slowly. "So I see there is honor among Romans," said Cian.
"Some of us," the Roman replied.

Both men were breathing heavily from exertion. Again the Commander's voice rang out. "No rules! No rules! What are you waiting for?! Finish the peasant!" The Roman Champion grunted. "You pig's rear," he said under his breath. Somehow, Cian knew the epithet wasn't aimed at him.

Cian made a decision at that moment, one he hoped he could carry out. Then his thoughts were interrupted as the Roman yelled out a battle cry and charged. Cian was startled by the suddenness of the cry and the charge; but he had the presence of mind to execute his decision. As the Roman charged, Cian raised his great sword well over his own head and changed the position of the blade to flat side down. Timing had to be perfect. It was.

As the Roman entered the striking range of the sword, Cian brought the flat side of the blade down with all of his might. The blade struck the Roman's helmet a great blow, causing the blade to ring out and jarring pain to ride up Cian's arms. The Roman's reaction was instantaneous. His helmet caved in, his eyes glazed over and the man fell face forwards to the ground, alive but senseless. Cian ignored the pain and with two hands holding the hilt placed the point of the sword on the back of the fallen Roman behind the place the man's heart should be. His sword so situated, Cian looked up to where the Commander sat on his white horse. "I have won. His death will be meaningless. Leave as you promised."

The Commander snorted in derision. "Win or lose, this combat was meaningless, for I intended to take your village regardless of who won! I said 'No rules' didn't I?" The Roman Commander started to laugh. As he laughed he noticed the massed villagers above beginning to shift their weapons. They heard, he surmised. So what? His expression changed again when he saw why the villagers were shifting their weapons.

A Scottish battle cry rang out and at full speed every able man and woman of the village of Campbell ran down the hill formed perfectly into what time would come to call the famous Scottish Charge. At the same time, anger welled up from the pit of Cian's being. He threw his sword to the side, disregarding the fallen Roman at his feet, and ran to the pila still lying on the ground. He grasped it, quickly checked its balance, and ran towards the Roman Commander.

The Commander turned in his saddle at the same time and shouted a command to the ranked cohorts. As he turned back, he saw Cian running towards him and the pila in flight. There wasn't time to move. The pila struck the Roman Commander in the middle of his chest with such force that it pierced him all of the way through, the point protruding from his back. He fell from his horse just as the villagers slammed into the front array of Roman soldiers. "No rules," bellowed Cian. "Just like you said!"

Energy spent, satisfied to see the Commander fall, Cian slowed down his gait as the villagers passed him. He saw the villagers wade into the midst of the Romans with a vengeance, their weapons exacting a terrible toll. Then he watched in shock as both the Romans and the villagers began to fade from view as if a vision was concluding. In a short time there was no one left on the battlefield: no one living, no one injured and no one dead. Nobody. Except one.

The Roman he defeated was sitting up, rubbing his skull. Odd, the Roman wasn't dressed like a Roman anymore. No, not a Roman at all. In fact...

The man sitting on the ground rubbing the throbing knob on the top of his head was one of the Paladins who Cian had met before.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 03-21-2002 @ 09:11 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-17-02 16:22 ET (US)     97 / 109       
"That was a wicked stroke you administered, Scotsman," said the Paladin. "Why did you use the flat side and not the sharpened edge?"

"It didn't seem to be necessary. You did not appear interested in striking me down," replied Cian.

"No, it was not my instruction. Only to test you."

"Did I pass the test?"

"You are standing there and I am sitting on this cold ground. What do you think?" The Paladin began to rise to his feet. He made no effort to pick up the sword lying on the ground. Cian felt the man was no threat. "Pick up your sword if you choose," he said to the man.

The Paladin reached down and picked up the sword by the blade to signal no ill intent, then he sheathed it in the scabbard hanging from his belt.

"You are Cian, the Scottsman," said the Paladin. "The Master invites you and your comrades to enter the village."

"The Village of Campbell?" asked Cian.

"No, Cian. The Village of Glynden. It lies in that direction along the path you see beginning there." The Paladin pointed towards the roughed up earth where a path seemed visible in the dirt and gravel.

Cian looked at the Paladin. "Who shall I say told us to go there?"

"Tell them you are there by direction of Aurelius, Paladin of the Master."

"Who is the Master?"

"Go to Glynden and your question shall be answered." When Cian glanced towards the direction pointed to by the Paladin and then glanced back, the Paladin was gone. The voices of Feimar and Ruadan were echoing off the nearby bluffs as they called out to Cian while running down the path from the hill overlooking what had been until the disappearance of the Romans and villagers, a bloody battleground.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-18-02 15:50 ET (US)     98 / 109       
It was an introspective Cian who followed Ruadan and Feimar along the path to Glynden. So many lessons were learned. Almost too much for one man to absorb all at once. There are things in a man's life that define his being from that point forward: death of a parent; finding true love; the birth of one's first child. Cian knew he had just passed through a moment unlike any he had ever experienced before.

As the thatched huts of the village of Glynden became visible in the distance, Cian realized he was no longer the same man who had been left on the shore of this island so many months ago. Now he must learn just who he really was. Maybe the answers lay in Glynden just as the Paladin said.

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-19-02 16:13 ET (US)     99 / 109       
Ysbrand could not believe what he saw. An entire village up in arms attacking the massed troops in the brown helmets wearing the red capes...

Ysbrand wrestled with his thoughts all of the night following the dinner with his family. In the morning he set out to find what help he could muster to see to the protection of his family from the threat of the red caped soldiers. His travels brought him to a path leading in two directions. One direction led deeper into the interior of what he thought was the island, the other led down into a valley. He chose the valley path.

At the crest of the hill he stopped dead in his tracks and then ran for cover to a group of trees near an exposed boulder. There were red-caped soldiers in the valley. Opposite of him on a hill were people carrying everything from weapons to farming tools. On the valley floor, two men were in combat. One man seemed to be a villager, the other was a red-caped soldier. The battle ebbed and flowed, first the soldier then the villager gaining the upper hand. At the end, Ysbrand saw the soldier charge the villager only to be met by the impact of the villager's long sword on the crown of his head. Well, the villager has won, thought Ysbrand. Surprising.

Even more surprising, there was an exchange of words and the villagers on the hill rushed down the hill directly at the soldiers. The single combatant, too, engaged the red-caped soldiers aiming a lance at the leader and striking him from his horse. Then, there was a change, just like the change outside of the Conqueror's tent. This time, two figures were left in the valley, the victorious combatant and his victim, who was sitting on the ground rubbing his head. All of the others had faded from view.

Ysbrand ran back to the cottage to talk about what he had seen. The cottage was still there, but when he ran inside the three people with whom he shared dinner were no longer present. Yes, there were three persons in the cottage, but they weren't who he expected. As he stared at them he saw each person manifest from someone Ysbrand knew intimately to someone Ysbrand never expected to find on the island.

His mother became the person he knew as Lestra, daughter of the Angles Chieftan. His father became Bevan, the spy. And Alanna, his beloved sister, had grown up and become Nyla, the Angle temptress and younger daughter of Klax.

Ysbrand was no longer a boy. He was the full grown man who had travelled across the sea to the shores of Brittania. His mind screamed. "What is going on here?!" But all that he said to the three, standing in the cottage with surprised expressions on their faces to match the one on Ysbrand's was this, "What have you done with my family?"

Irrepressive Nyla answered him directly, "What have you done with our father!? Answer that first, Ysbrand!"

Her green eyes aflame, cheeks flushed, lips tight in anger. all accented by the red of her hair, Nyla had an immediate effect on a man, and Ysbrand was no exception. Before he could answer he had to swallow hard, especially because he had no idea what to say...

Civis Romanus
Angel
posted 04-19-02 20:10 ET (US)     100 / 109       
"I...uh... uh... your father, uh..." Ysbrand stammered.

"Yes, my father." Nyla's green eyes narrowed further.

"Klax is well and safe with Hengist. I gave instructions he was not to be harmed in any way." Ysbrand saw Nyla's face soften ever so slightly.

"So who was it then that took him from the cottage this morning?"

"Which cottage?" asked Ysbrand.

It was Lestra who spoke now. "This cottage, sorceror. If it wasn't you, who was it? We were in this very room speaking with him last night."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Ysbrand. "I was in this same room speaking with my parents and my sister almost the entire night!" The argument continued between the women and Ysbrand until the heretofore quiet Bevan interceded. It was with no small effort that he finally got them all to listen.

"Ysbrand, how many did you say you spoke to, and how many were men or women."

Ysbrand's brows knitted. "My father, my mother and my younger sister."

"Uh,huh," said Bevan. "One man, and two women, one a girl. And we three were speaking with a sole person, a man, Klax. Do you notice anything slightly uniform, but also very odd?"

Said Lestra, "Yes, I see what you mean Bevan. We are two women and one man who might have appeared to Ysbrand to be his parents and young sister. One of us appearing to be a girl to match Ysbrand's return to boyhood again. And Ysbrand is the man we thought was our father. Hmmm. Someone or something is playing shadow games with us I think."

Even Nyla was beginning to see that something was at work beyond their understanding. She looked suspiciously at Ysbrand. The perceptive sorceror read her thoughts clearly. "I assure all of you," he said. "I have no more of an idea how this happened than do you." This time, Nyla believed him. Her face softened considerably and she began to study Ysbrand as he spoke with her sister and with Bevan.

A new, unfamiliar voice interrupted their discussion. A strongly built, heavily armored man was standing in the doorway to the cottage. Ysbrand recognized him as one of the Paladins. "You will find your answers in the village at the end of the path leading away from here."

"The path into the valley?" asked Ysbrand, who had already seen part of the path the Paladin spoke of.

"No, Ysbrand. The path in the opposite direction. The one that leads to Glynden. You are invited there by my master."

"Who is your master?" said Bevan.

"You will learn more about my master in Glynden. Go now. Tell the villagers you meet that you are there on the invitation of the Paladin named Aurelius."

"Are you Aurelius?" asked Lestra.

"I am. Now, please go. There are others I must speak to as well and others who are already on their way. You must join them soon. The Master desires it." Saying nothing more, Aurelius turned and walked quickly to his horse. He was gone from the area of the cottage in an impossibly short time... almost as if he disappeared the minute after he put spur to horse. Ysbrand and the others knew they had to comply with the request... and so they did.

The walk to Glynden was shorter than expected. The thatched roofs of the village loomed into view very soon after their walk on the path began. Strange... they should have seen it from some vantage point near their lone cottage, but they did not. It seems a foggy mist of some kind had hidden everything from them, except for the cottage and the valley below.

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