Legacy of the Forlorn

The Gunslinger (Part I)

Gayl Rillas stood in line with the other elves waiting for Lord Edasseril to show. Like the others he had just joined Kyonin’s martial ranks and was immediately summoned to the grounds by special request by Navarre Edasseril. Gayl ran his hands through his dark hair out of nervous habit. They did not know why they had been summoned, but the Edasseril family had become well known through out Kyonin for their exploits and to be specially requested by one of them is a great honor. The sun was reaching it reaching its zenith when Lord Edasseril arrived.

They all snapped to attention as he made his approach. He wore simple clothes and a lose fitting cloak bearing the symbol of house Edasseril on it. Despite his common garb he still gave off an aura of strength and nobility. He was tall and very built for an elf with a few scares marring his features. He walked down the line shaking hands with everyone. Gayl stood a head shorter then the other elves so he had to look up to speak to Navarre when he approached. He shook Gayl’s hand and thanked him for coming. Gayl was surprised to find Navarre was very friendly and had a warm smile.

After greeting everyone Navarre walked forward and addressed them, his booming voice easily heard.

“I’m sure many of you are wondering why I have summoned you here. I have selected you to test out a new weapon developed by myself and my brother Lor’Athron. In time I feel that this new weapon will be crucial in the continued defense of our homeland.”

He motioned to his aides and they brought foreword a wooden cart bearing strange metal tubes. Gayl leaned foreword and squinted to get a better look as Navarre picked up one of the tubes and examined it. Navarre pointed to one of the men in line and asked him to step forward with his bow. The young elf obeyed and Navarre’s aides rolled out a target dummy. It was covered in simple yet sturdy metal armor. Navarre stepped up to the dummy and pointed to a dense and angled section of armor. “Try and pierce this section” Navarre asked. The young elf looked nervous as he notched his bow. Trained archers tried to avoid such areas and aimed for weak sections like joints. He took a second to aim and then fired the arrow. It hit directly where Navarre pointed and ricocheted off the armor leaving deep scratch. Navarre thanked the man and told him to step back in line. He then walked over to the cart and picked up a sturdy metal shield. He walked over to the dummy and tied the shield over its body. After it was secured, he stepped back and stood directly in front of the dummy and pointed the tube at it. Everyone held their breath waiting for Navarre to use the new weapon. There was soft click immediately followed by a thunderous roar.

A few men jumped in surprise and everyone’s hands shot to the sides of their heads, their ears ringing from the blast. Navarre lowered the now smoking metal tube and turned to them with a smile on his face. “Sorry” he yelled “I forgot to warn you these weapons are rather loud when fired”. A few of the elves became aggravated and actually started yelling at Navarre until they gazed at the target dummy. There was a large hole in the shield that seemed to go through armor as well. Navarre walked over to the dummy and turned it around. They all let out gasps as they saw a large bulge in the back of the armor. Not only had the weapon priced the armor and the shield, but it almost completely blew right through it. “We call these weapons guns.” Navarre told them. “When fired at close range, they can pierce even the densest of armors”.

The aides brought the cart around and handed everyone one of the guns. Many of the elves handled them as if they were dangerous animals that would bite them if they handled them to roughly. Gayl was amazed by the weight of the weapon. It was small but weighed nearly as much as a short sword. He examined it closer and discovered that even though it appeared to be nothing more then forged metal and wood, it was beautifully crafted. A great amount of detail and design went into the weapon and he knew that it was truly forged by elven hands. One of the men asked if the guns were enchanted, a question that Gayl had been wondering. Navarre responded that the guns were not magical at all. “Just like any other weapon, anybody can wield a gun with the proper training.” He began to instruct them on how to arm and fire the guns. Many were put off when they saw how long it took to reload a gun. In the time in took to mix the powders and jam the round down the barrel, an elf could let off several arrows.

After everyone had their weapons set Navarre had several practice targets set up in front of them. They all took aim and on Navarre’s command they let lose a volley. Even prepared for the blast Gayl still flinched as he fired the gun. He was unprepared for how the gun actually jumped in his had when it fired. Even though it threw off his aim at the last second he still managed to hit the target. He looked down the line and saw none of the others had such luck. Navarre examined the targets and then ordered to aides to give everyone several reloads of powder and ammo. He walked over to the cart and pulled out a small hourglass. He instructed them to fire as many rounds as they could and flipped the hour glass over.

Everyone was scrambling to load and fire. Gayl’s hands were shaking so hard he almost dropped one of the bullets. He stopped and took a deep breath. These things required more finesse then arming a bow and he needed to be more careful. He armed his gun much more slowly and took a moment to aim before he fired. He adjusted his grip for the kick the gun gave and was much more accurate with his shots. Near the end he actually developed a rhythm and was able to load and fire his gun relativity quickly. When Navarre yelled for them to stop Gayl had hit his target several times, once near the inner ring.

Navarre strolled down and examined the targets. He turned and thanked them all for participating and asked that they return the weapons to the cart on their way off. Gayl turned to follow when Navarre called out for him to stay. Gayl’s palms began to sweat as he walked over to Navarre. Navarre was leaning against the cart cleaning one of the guns, his back turned to Gayl.

“You did very well. You hit your target more times then anyone else”

Gayl scratched his head nervously as he answered “Thank you lord. Just a lucky shot I guess”.

“One shot is lucky. Hitting the target several times requires skill. You have what the humans call a knack”.

“A knack my lord?” Gayl answered confused.

Navarre still had his back turned when he answered ”It means you have a inborn skill when using guns. The same way many elves are naturally capable with bows and long swords.”

“Lord, how can I have a knack with a weapon that has just been developed”?

“Good question. It doesn’t really matter though. What matters is that your good with this weapon and I want to recruit you for special training. In time I think guns will become a staple weapon in Kyonin’s defenses.”

As Navarre continued talking Gayl was becoming more nervous. Navarre was choosing him for some elite unit to defend Kyonin. It didn’t make sense? “Lord. With all due respect do really think that we need to equip Kyonins warriors with these new weapons? We have guarded Kyonin safely for centuries with out the need of such weapons.”
Navarre paused for a moment and Gayl became worried that he had said something wrong. Navarre turned and looked him straight in the eyes and whispered “Trust me son, you have no idea what horrors lay beyond Kyonins boarders”. He then smiled and put his hands on Gayl’s shoulders “That’s why I’m creating a special group of warriors to use these guns against Kyonins enemies and I want you to be a part of it.”

Gayl eyes were wide and he put up his hands up in front of him when he answered. “Lord. With all due respect I have only just joined the guard. If you are creating an elite warrior group you should go with someone more experienced. I don’t even really think I have what it takes to be a warrior. I actually prefer working with leather.”

“I don’t want someone more experienced. Seasoned warriors get stuck in their ways. You saw how some of your comrades handled the weapons. Kyonin needs to adapt if it is to survive, and I need warriors who willing to adapt as well. As for the leather working, you’ll be able to keep your boots in good shape. Trust me Gayl, you’ll be one of the first of something great”.

Navarre turned back to the cart and covered the guns. As him and his aides were leaving he turned back to Gayl told him that he will send for him as soon as he has found some others with the same “luck” that he had.

Gayl stood in the meadow for a moment, absorbing everything that just happened to him. He had joined the guard a week ago and he was already called in to wield an experimental weapon and was chosen by one of Kyonin’s heroes to become part of a new special unit. He sighed and put his head in his hands.

This was not what he signed up for.

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Falcon’s Fall
Mitch

Events have gotten out of control. Finally Falcon has betrayed us and I seem to have been the only one who was aware that it was going to happen. We went to Osarian, following Palanons’ visions of where the next starfall would take place. The trip itself was simple and quick, the gates of our forefathers allowing us to travel across the globe in seconds rather than months. It was once we arrived that I started to feel that Falcon was not living up to his end of the arrangement Navarre had made with him.

The dark elf seemed to be withdrawn, more so then usual, and as we travelled across the vast desert the others attributed it to the heat, while I felt it was more like he was planning something. It took a few days to locate the ancient ruins of old Osarian, large stone blocks covered with sand in the middle of a lifeless expanse. The entrance was worn down, the decorative markings covering the stone blocks destroyed by the abrasive sand and wind. As soon as we arrived my siblings started to call out for me to look for traps, it seems to be all they bring me along for anymore.

With a quick eye I survey the doors and find nothing, but see a slight smile on Falcons’ lips. As a precaution I asked him to help me open the door, stepping back so that he can take the full effect of the trap. With a discharge of dark magic, black lightning streaks down from the warning around the door, draining Falcon of some of his life-force. He looked at me with hate in his eyes and I stared back into the abyss of his hate with my own.

Making our way inside, I kept to the front, looking for additional protections that the ancient people of the desert may have put to deter tomb robbers, I managed to spot some, but missed others, as we made our way deeper into the crypt. At a strange junction large imposing doors blocked our path, seeming to be connected to two additional doors to the left and right of our position in the tunnel. Taking a bit of a precaution, I wedged a dagger into the mechanism of one of the doors, keeping it locked in place, while the rest of my family searched the opposite corridor.

Staying back with Falcon and Ari, mostly since I still thought that Falcon was going to betray us here, I did not notice the creature move through the stone into the corridor we were in. A large black beast, with the torso of a man melded onto the body of a spider. It pushed its way through solid stone and started assaulting us, and about the same time I heard the distinctive roar of a dragon from the other corridor. It looked like we had in fact been lead into a trap, quickly running away from the drider, Ari, Falcon and I pushed into the other corridor, allowing Lor’Athorn to put up a magical wall behind us to prevent the drider from flanking us.

This small side passage opened into a larger room, and the corpse of a black dragon was in the middle of the floor, slain by my family. They mentioned that a staircase collaped behind the dragon and the only way forward was to go back and kill the drider. Seeing that we had no other option, I let them lead the way. Yet when we reached the junction the drider was nowhere to be seen. Taking the opportunity to collect ourselves and press forward, I opened the larger door and moved into the other chamber. In my haste I accidently tripped a gas trap that paralyzed me, and from my immobile state I could tell that Falcon was enjoying my discomfort.

The passage opened up into another room, and on a pool of water stood Lord Kestryal. He started to speak only to be interrupted by Navarre charging in, sword drawn with a battle cry on his lips. The rest of my family also burst into motion following Navarres’ charge, Magic and song filled the air, while Amaras turned into a dreadful creature and flew toward the dark elf lord. I took the time to hide and move around the outside of the room, trying to find an opening. It was while I was moving around the parimiter that I ran into an invisible object, an elf with a dagger. With the trap sprung, the rest of the dark elves dropped their spells and rushed to the attack.

The sounds of death, and the ring of steel was a haunting melody that we danced too that day. Each dead elf seemed to generate an additional two from thin air, but Navarre pressed his advantage on Lord Kestryal, swinging his sword with lethal intent. Injured and bloody, Kestryal tripped his final card in this game, releasing a cloud of gas upon us, paralyzing all of us were we stood, except for Falcon.

The laugh and chuckle that came from Falcon after the gas was released was all I needed to know. He had betrayed us, and Falcon started moving around the room, injecting us with some serum before moving onto the next. He seemed to take a perverse pleasure in jabbing me with the syringe. All the while he was talking to Kestryal, telling him that his plan worked, and that we were now at their mercy. Kestryal was so distracted by the speech that he did not stop Falcon from entering the starfall chamber and calling down the end of us all. It was as the room filled with light and fire that everything suddenly went dark, a darkness that was not just devoid of light, but seemed to consume any heat as well.

Spinning around in the darkness waiting for death to come, a spark was light, and we found ourselves in not the underworld, but rather a shack, stocked with cloths and jars of some black liquid. It was with this that Navarre spoke up and said that Falcon had spared us, sending us to his homeland to lead his people to freedom.

I for one have every intention of breaking his people into a shattered remnant of what they once were. I plan on destroying the very fabric of their being.

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Interrogation and Escape

Why is the River Kingdoms attacking?

What do you know about the resistance?

What has happened in Kyonin?

These along with several other questions were repeated multiple times to Coreena with her beatings. She was stripped down and tied upright to a plank. Her right hand was bound at the wrist and her left was fanned out with screws crushing her knuckles. The fire in the corner was constantly feed, filling the room with intense heat. They hadn’t given her water or food in three days. Her mouth was dry and cracked and her vision was blurred as she gazed at her questioners. Their intricate white masks lost their detail as they became nothing more then colored blobs moving around the room. She was still in the room, right? Another blow cracked her in the face and the questions continued.

It was her fault she was here. She was a fool for underestimating them. How could a hand full of humans be a threat compared to devils and dragons? She was wrong, and now she was paying the price.

She had been sent to scout along the boarder of Razmir. Kyonin’s forces where being spread thin and they could not keep watch like they used to. Coreena was sent alone and was told to report any trespassing and not to engage. Coreena spotted them not too far into Kyonin’s boarders. They didn’t even attempt to disguise or camouflage themselves. The arrogance and stupidity of it almost made Coreena laugh. They must have gotten lost as even Razmiran priests can’t be that stupid. There was only three of them so Coreena stepped out with her bow raised, motioning them to turn back. She startled them for only a second, then the one in the center held up its hands and began chanting. Coreena knew he was casting a spell and quickly launched several bolts at him. They all flew off as if deflecting by some invisible force. The priest said his final words and Coreena’s muscles locked. She gritted her teeth and tried to move as the other two rushed her. She could have dropped them dead in an instant but her arms refused to move. They tackled her to the ground and quickly bound and gagged her. She looked up in paralyzed horror as the priest calmly put his hand on her head and then she fell into blackness.

She awoke a prisoner, locked away in some cabin she thought. It had been a week, or had it been a couple of days? Everything was blending together now. After the last blow, the head priest walked up and bent close to her, whispering in a calming voice into her right ear (they had cut off her left one). “You don’t have to endure this. Tell us what we want and we will let you go. You have human blood in you. Do they deserve this sacrifice from you? Have they earned it?” His honeyed words continued but Coreena was not listening. She actually took the time to blank out and recuperate for a moment. The priest nodded to the others and they untied her right had. He held out a piece of parchment with an inked quill. She remembered it had taken them a couple of days of tortures and beatings before they realized she was not talking because she was unable to. It would have been comedic if it wasn’t so painful.

Coreena took the quill in her shaking hand and began to write. It took all her energy to concentrate on the writing and to keep her hand from shaking long enough to make it legible. After she was finished, a bloody smile spread across her face as the priest read the vulgar insult she had written on the parchment. She had learned it from Kyro. The priest simply sighed and made the motion to the others to rebound her. He turned and causally walked to the corner and removed a red hot poker from the fire. The guards grabbed Coreena’s head and held it in place. The priest walked towards her with the blazing poker held aloft muttering about how she could have avoided this.

If Coreena could scream, she would have.
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They took her back to her cell. It was bare with no windows or even straw on the floor. In the beginning there were three of them in the room with her. She tried to fight back but they overpowered her. Every time she tried to rest they would shake and beat her. She had not slept in days and her body was so weak she could barely move. There was only one guard in the room now as she could not put up much of a fight. She crawled onto her hands and knee’s facing away from the guard, her face throbbing and swelling from the burn. This is what she had been waiting for. She had one chance and it was now or never. She whispered to the spirits, asking for their aid. She knew the guards would recognize it if she were casting a spell, but it only looked like she was praying or simply mumbling. She kept on calling, trying to concentrate on the spirits voices. Her vision kept fading in and out with effort and after a minute she was afraid that she could not reach them. Then she heard what sounded like twigs snapping.

She looked up and saw her guard locked in the embrace of a large snake. He struggled meekly to escape or call out but the constrictor had crushed his ribs and lungs. His eyes went wide with fear and then soon passed out. Coreena struggled to her feet and motioned to the serpent to let him go. The magic that brought it here would not last long. The snake was not happy but obeyed her commands. She shambled to the door and quietly opened it. Since she was always under guard they had not bothered to lock it. She saw no one and her and the snake snuck down a dimly lit hallway. She saw a shadow of one of the guards around the corner. She motioned to the snake and it slithered around the corner. She then heard it quickly latch around the guard and saw his shadow jerk. She came around in time to see him pass out in silence like the one in the cell. The snake let go and soon faded out as the magic that brought it here dissipated. Coreena now saw that she was in a some kind of cellar and saw a flight of stairs heading up. She slowly crawled up them on her hands and knees, fearing that if she tried to walk up them she would slip and fall. At the top of the stairs she saw a door in front and to the left of her and a long hall to the right. She heard screams coming from down the hall. She must not be the only one trapped here. Who ever it was they were on their own. She barley had the strength to move let alone save someone else. She put her hand on the wall to help balance her as she got up. She shambled over to the room directly in front of her and put her remaining ear to the door. It didn’t sound like someone was in there. She slowly turned the handle and stepped in.

It was a storage room with a chest and a shelf filled with food. She turned her attention to some piles on the floor and saw her clothes in it. She closed the door behind her and began searching for the rest of her things. All of her supplies were here as well as those of others. It took her a while to get dressed but she felt better being clothed and armed. She slowly ate a little food and some water. She nearly threw it up but it good to have something in her stomach. She fought the urge to gorge on the remaining food and opened the door. She still heard the sound of some one being beaten down the hall but saw no one else. She crept back into the hall and closed the door behind her. She turned to her right towards the door opposite the hall and listened. The door was cooler so this had to be lead out. She didn’t hear anything but was sure there was a guard. She quietly opened it a peeked out. She saw that she was in the woods and night had fallen. This would help her with her escape but as she predicted the door was guarded. The guards back was turned to her and was gazing out into the woods. She knew she didn’t have the strength to pull back her bow and simply shoot the man. She took a deep breath and pulled out one of her arrows. She readied herself to use every once of energy she had left.

She sprung through the door onto the mans back, jabbing the end of the arrow into his throat. She wrapped her legs around him as he began thrashing. He fell to the ground on top of her but she kept the arrow in his neck. Her vision began to blur and she struggled to not pass out from exertion. The man let out a few gurgling breaths but began to stop thrashing and died. She laid there for a few minutes breathing heavily, waiting for the sound of someone coming. Thankfully no one came. She silently thanked whomever was being tortured for being a loud screamer. She took a deep breath and lifted the man off of her. Her arms shook underneath his weight and she nearly passed out again. She laid there breathing heavily for a couple of minutes before she struggled up. She turned and as quickly as she could headed off into the woods.

_______________________________________________ The sun was rising as she continued on. Her feet felt like they were made of lead and every step was a struggle. Despite her skill in traversing the woods she had already slipped and fallen multiple times. She had not seen any signs of pursuit but knew she had to keep moving forward. She was breathing heavy and head pounding. The burn on her face was agonizing. She had drank the water she taken with her but she was still greatly fatigued. She needed to rest and recuperate. Her feet finally gave under her and she rolled down a small hill and found herself lying on a trail. She drew up on her hands and knees trying to find the strength to get up. After a minute she fell back down. She was done. She had nothing left. Blackness finally overtook her as she passed out.

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She was flying. Or was she being carried? She felt her mother hugging her. She lifted Coreena up and put her to bed. Then the darkness. The world around her began to rock and thunder rumbled in the background. They broke from the Earth. Treerazor, the Black Crescent, the Razmiran Priests, all her enemies boiled up from the cracks in the Earth and came upon her. She screamed and awoke.

Where was she? She was lying on hard wooden floor in darkness. She was also moving. She heard the sound of the wheels turning and bouncing close to her. She realized she was lying in a cart being transported. The cart rocked beneath her and she flew up and hit the top of the small space she was crammed into. Was she in a box, or a coffin?

The sound of the wheels droned on and Coreena found herself fading again. She didn’t know what was happening, but she was too tired to care. She fell back to sleep.

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She was being nudged. She fought to open her eyes and saw a little bit of light coming from near her feat. Hands seized her ankles and began to pull her out. She was pulled into the night from the back of a cart hauling supplies. A large human pulled her to his feet and helped steady her. His face and hands were weathered and he wore common clothes. Questions flooded Coreena’s thoughts. Who was he? A farmer or woodsman? Why was he helping me?

Once he got her standing he reached over and closed the secret compartment in the carriage he had transported her in. She wondered if he was part of the resistance the Razmiran priest had asked her about? He put his arm around her and helped her into a small cabin they had stopped in front of. Inside was simple living quarters with a table a fire burning in the hearth. He leaned her against the wall and bent down and pulled up a section of the floor. He helped her down into the space and she laid down on the bare earth under the cabin. He left and came back with some bread and water. After he gave her the food, he pulled the floor back over the space and Coreena once again found herself in darkness.

She was safe for now. She didn’t fell like eating though. She wanted to rest but her head was filled with thoughts and emotions. Everything was catching up to her. The torture and everything else that had happened the past few weeks seemed like a dream. Her body ached. She was cold and tired. She wanted to go home. Except Kyonin wasn’t home anymore. She wanted to talk to her mother. Except her mother was missing. She wanted to hold her daughter be close to her. Except Amika was hidden, or dead. She didn’t know anything anymore. Her life began flashing before her. She fought to be accepted by the Elves. She fought the creatures in the Tanglebriar to grow stronger. She fought alongside her mother and family to prove herself. She fought with Kyro so they could stay together. She fought to help Kyonin and her Grandfather. She fought to stay alive at the hands of her captures. Her entire life was nothing but one large struggle.

Se was tired of fighting. She wanted to go home and be with Amika. Coreena curled up and did something she had not done in a long time.

She cried herself to sleep.

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The Storm

The rain continued to pour. Even with her hood up Coreena still could not keep the water out of her face. Despite the healing prayers of the clerics, her joints still ached after the fight with Spore Wing. A flash of lighting lit up the streets of Kynonin. At this time of night there was no one out, so shadows danced across the empty roads with each flash. Coreena stared straight ahead, focused on her mission.

She was shocked when she heard what had been asked of her. She had killed many in her hunts, but those were in self defense of herself and others. But assassination? She had seen assassins as nothing more then thugs for hire, eager to kill anyone for the right coin. Coreena had never considered herself pure and kindhearted, but killing a person for no reason other then they had crossed someone was too much. The ninja’s who had taken her love Kyro’s life were such killers, and being asked to perform the same services as them disgusted her. More shocking then the task however, was the fact that the request came from her grandfather.

Caladlon had changed greatly since the sundering and the disappearance of his children. Age had taken him and he now was old and withered, with long gray hair falling in front of his haggard form. His usually gentle and wise tone was now filled with frustration, rage, and sorrow. Most of all, he looked tired. So very tired.

When Coreena had been brought into the family, Caladlon had welcomed her with open arms. Her human blood and the fact that she had been kept secret from the family meant nothing to him. He actually tried to make time to get to know her and make her feel at home. The rest of her family worshiped him and looked to him for wisdom and strength. Looking at him now, Coreenna’s heart nearly broke to see what he had become. In a way, she hoped her mother and the others were dead so they would not see him in this state.

“I know I ask a lot of you. I know that you despise this task I have given you and had I any other choice I would not resort to such actions. But Kyonin has changed and if we are to survive, we must all make sacrifices. The queen and her supporters are overwhelmed with the crisis that has fallen upon us. Now with so many gone, those that are left are reaching to fill the void left behind. They may not see or believe the harm they could do, but their actions could shatter Kyonin. To keep this from passing, I beg you to do what must be done.”

Coreena looked into his eye’s and heard the sorrow and weariness in his voice. She believed him when he said he had no other choice. She knew that Caladlon Edasseril would not call for political assassination unless forced to by those greater then him. Her mother and the rest of her family had sacrificed much for him and he for them. There were few she was truly loyal to. One was dead, one was missing, one was hiding, and one stood before her asking her to kill in cold blood. She saw the burden he now bore and knew she could not deny him. It was time she sacrificed for Caladlon Edasseril. She nodded her head.

He acknowledged her decisions and turned to leave. Before he left the room, without looking at her, he simply said “I’m sorry”, and then left.

The rain was still coming down when Coreena arrived at the estate of her target. She hopped the small fence and scurried past the few guards. She climbed a tree and sat on a branch looking into the second story of the estate. She carefully pulled out an arrow from her quiver and notched it in her bow. This arrow was designed to be a bane to elven kind and could hurt her just as much as her target. That was another reason why she had been chosen for the assassination. She fought alongside her mother many times against the dark skinned elves, and she had become just as apt at killing them as the best’s of the Tanglebriar. She pulled her bow taunt and waited…and waited.

She did not now how long she sat in that tree with her aim locked in. Her muscles were screaming for her to let go, but she held on until he stepped by the window. A flash of lightning struck nearby, illuminating the entire courtyard with white light. For a split second Coreena hesitated. This man had done nothing but rattle a cage. He was a rebel speaking out for what he believed in. Coreena had a vision of someone like her waiting outside her own family’s window. They were rebels too. How long before someone decided that they too needed to be killed for the sake of Kyonin? She turned her head and let the arrow fly. She hopped down from the tree and dashed out of sight. The scream that escaped the estate told her that the arrow hit home and that her target was now dead.

She was walking home now, lost in her thoughts. She looked up into the rain and wondered if the storm would ever end?

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Ruined Revelation
Mitch

Palanon has had an increasingly difficult time locating the dark elves before the launch their next attack. But he says that there was a group of scholars that tracked the movements of the stars for eons before the starfall, and that using some of their data he may be able to finally get ahead of the dark elves.

Seeing that this may be our best chance to finally catch them unawares we all agreed that it was worth the risk. The risk involved was that we would have to enter the Magwani Expanse, a vast jungle that spans the interior of the southern continent. Sylvaris had been there once before and has told us of the vast ape kingdom, the terrifying beasts that have been long thought dead by modern scholars, and the magical forces that keep intruders from entering too far into the expanse.

Taking his warning with a grain of salt, we planned and plotted a course to a city that was lost hundreds of years ago, swallowed by the jungle following the starfall, but is supposedly still home a number of human species who worship the apes as gods. Once again the system of elf gates proved to be a godsend, saving us months of travel to the expanse. Once there the heat of the place was the first thing I noticed. It was truly stifling and it seemed to pull the water right out of the air, so within seconds we were all drenched without a single rain drop falling from the sky.

Moving throught the jungle I did not realize how much more pleasant the heat would be over a true rainstorm. When it did start to rain, it did not stop. It felt like days that we were under a constant barrage of water falling upon our heads, and it was not a gentle rain that helped to cool or ease tension, but a pounding that thundered through the jungle, as the rain struck the leave and trees with a thunderous sound. Amaras seemed to be at home, but the rest of us were miserable the entire time.

As we got closer to the location that Palanon found in the library as being a potential location for the city of lost scholars, we encountered an old “friend”. The gorilla we had freed from the keep in the Mana Wastes had found us. I guess it recognized Amaras’ scent (how he still managed to smell so bad that an ape could find him after days of rain I will never know) and tracked us to this point, following us to see what our destination was.

Seeing no reason to lie we told it where we were going and why, and the ape proved very valuable in the knowledge that it had about the area. It suggested two means of travel, one by river, which would be safer but ultimately leave us exposed to the guardians of the city, or the other to travel overland but be subject to a beast called a Hunter that prowled the outskirts of the city. Seeing that we would rather sneak then be exposed (no jokes about my profession were very welcome at this point, but they were made anyway) we plotted a course in the jungle to come around behind the city and enter from the unguarded flank.

As we made our way through the jungle, it started to rain yet again, downing out the sounds around us and leaving us all feeling a little vulnerable to attack, since we were not familiar with the indigenous life in the area. Moving ahead I did my best to stay hidden in the rain and jungle, with Amaras doing the same at the opposite flank when we heard the breaking of branches and a deafening roar from the path ahead. Charging toward us was the largest cat any of us had ever seen, it came out of the rain like a lightning bolt, bounding toward the group with a purpose, eyes wide and filled with rage.

Navarre and Ari took up position to keep the cat from the less armored members of our party, and we quickly forced it to alter course after a few moments of fighting. It was only after it changed course and was quickly snatched into the air that we realized that the cat was not charging toward us, but running away from something even bigger then itself. The monstrous lizard looked almost like a dragon but had no wings and the front two legs were stunted and almost useless. The massive head, that looked to be all teeth and mouth, bit the cat in half and swallowed the chunk it had torn off.

Navarre ever ready to throw himself into danger lept at the dragon thing, as did Amaras and Ari, while Mirri sang to inspire them toward greatness, and Magical energy sprung from the twins in the back. In a flurry of blows and fire, the beast was slain, but not before serious injury was sustained by Amaras yet again. He was bit by the monster and thrown to the side. Even I managed to land a few blows upon the creature before it was slain by my siblings.

Making haste toward the city, since we feared that the sounds of our battle may have ranged further ahead than we had anticipated, we were surprised to find no resistance to our entry. Making our way through the cityscape, seeing just how far the city had fallen as trees and vines were slowly pulling the city back into the jungle, we found a bound and chained group of people in a small hut. Also here was a small gorilla, and it became extremely excited once it saw its mother with us.

The Gorilla thanked us for our help in rescuing her son, and made her way out of the city the way we entered. The rest of the prisoners were equally grateful to us but seemed to be angry at one of their compatriots. Speaking with them we found that he had told the invaders to this place everything they wanted to know, and as such was now outcast. Seeing an opportunity to gain a little extra information I went to the outcast and started asking probing question about the invaders and the fall of the city.

We came to find out that the invaders were using a special gate in the city to pull an army through from another place, White apes that were just as powerful as the gorillas that currently lived in this realm. But the prisoner had a special amulet that could cause a catastrophe if use properly, something that would cause an eruption of magma and fire to spew from the gate, destroying the connection between this world and the other.

Seeing this as the best option I took the amulet and did what I could to hide it from my siblings. The prisoner took us to the temple that was being used for the ritual to connect the two worlds, and I skulked away to do what I do best. Finding the pillar with the lock for my amulet I stared to initiate the Armageddon event. One of the ape things near the gate must have heard the grinding of the amulet in the lock for it started moving toward the pillar. Thinking I would not be able to finish before I was spotted I stayed my course, since this would be the only way to eliminate the threat completely.

I was very lucky and the ape did not see me before the key locked into place, and with a low boom the gate was engulfed in magma, along with all the guards and the leader that was standing near the gate opening.

It took only seconds for the gate to be buried under the wave of lave, and the cooling process began almost instantly, hardening the outer shell of the magma into a stable shape. Being very pleased with myself I left the comfort of my hiding spot and made my way back to my siblings, who were all very upset that I and done this without their consent. But I stopped the threat so I could handle the ire of them for a short time. Unfortunately, my victory was short lived, as the leader burst from under the magma flow and started howling with a rage that only we seem to be able to inspire in our enemies.

It seems that someone was able to find and reincarnate Swallowtale, and that the Ape lord before us was that same druid we had killed ages ago. He summoned up an elemental to attack us and started fighting with Amaras and Navarre. I stayed back for the most part, since I was not about to stand on a newly made lava flow. But my skills were not needed, as my siblings were able to quickly and efficiently eliminate Swallowtale yet again. This time they tossed the body back into the lava to be destroyed beyond reclamation.

On the bright side, Palanon was able to find the information we needed to get a step ahead of the dark elves and we will be going to Osarion to keep them from activating a gate from the time of the initial starfall.

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Broken Boarders
Mitch

We are off to the Mana Wastes, such a place makes my skin crawl, so I have no idea what I does to my more magically inclined siblings. Amon sent us a urgent message saying he found something vital to the life of everything on the planet. Seeing as how this gnome is overly excitable, I felt that it likely was a hoax, to get me down there again, as he has something of an infatuation with me.

Once we arrived at the boarder of the Mana Wastes, Amon was working near a large tree, pouring over a notebook and making sketches. When we arrived he immediately came toward me, with arms outstretched looking for a hug (so he could no doubt grope me) but Ari being the diligent protector he is prevented the gnome from getting close to his goal. Seeing that he would be unable to touch me, he went about telling us of the reason he was here. He wanted to see how the people of the wastes managed to farm without the aid of magical support, since Amon was having issues coming up with ways to support the land near Sevenarches without druidic magic.

Amon was especially pleased with what he had found, and terrified at what he accidently discovered, the mana wastes were expanding. By his estimation it would only be one hundred billion years before magic on Galorion was no more due to the slow creep of the Wastes. The rate of expansion looked to be about half an inch a year, so as he hoped we could see we didn’t have an eternity to come up with a solution to this problem.

It was during this discourse that a number of riders crested the hill just inside the wastes and we could hear the telltale cracks of firearms, the devices that only Daggermark, The Five Kings dwarfs, and the Elves of Kyonin should have had access too. The most disturbing thing about the crack, was that it appears that the guns were pointed at us. Navarre sprang into action as he always does, pulling his own weapon from across his back , and fired some quick shots toward the horsemen. Palanon and Lor’Athorn both flug magical spells across the border of the wastes, unleashing fire upon the charging enemy. I took the time to steal some of Amon’s more interesting research.

Within a few seconds the fighting was over, the smell of horse flesh hanging heavy in the air, and Navarre boldly striding across the field of battle to the fallen leader of the raiding group. We found a letter from someone that wanted Amon dead, but no details were given as to why, and a side note to find an injured dwarf at a keep located inside the Wastes. Something that I should note, is that once I crossed the border of the wastes I actually felt my age, the eternal youth I have been so accustomed to was stolen away, and the years of life suddenly sprang upon me. The only one who seemed less pleased at this them me was Navarre, who actually aged before our very eyes, something I had never seen before in my life, a truly aged elf.

Sure father was old, as had been many of my suitors and clients over the years, but they had never looked old, in the way that the lesser races do. The lines of age upon an elves face have less to do with actual time but with loss, something that shows that they really lived and had reason to be mournful. But this was different, there was no ageless quality to Navarre while in the wastes, he was old in much the same way as a human or dwarf.

We made our way to the keep, while Navarre and I where suffering from the effects of our sudden age, Amaras, Mirri, Palanon, and Lor’Arthorn where crawling out of their skin without access to magical energy. I guess I cannot put into words what it must have been like for them, but being a mother I can only guess that it was like the emptiness I felt after giving birth to my sweet daughter. Like a part of me was just gone, a part that I had grown so accustomed to, a part that gave me both comfort and joy.

But I digress, at the keep we were engaged by one of the sentries, a woman with a rank on her shirt, as we progressed down walkway to the entrance of the keep we had seen many such sentries and each had a rank predominantly displayed. This woman was a high rank, but I do not know how high it was in relation to the others, she did have more stripes than any of the guards thus far. She told us that we needed a reason for being within their lands, and that entrance to the keep was tightly controlled, since there were many other factions in the wastes that would like nothing more than to gain entrance into this stronghold. I did what I could to ease her fears, and gain us entry, telling her only what would benefit us and reveal little of our plans. One of the things I was forced to do was disclose that we did wish to see this dwarf prisoner, and since my sister is a talented healer, maybe she could do something that the physicians at the keep could not.

On the way into the dungeon we discussed many things, were the dwarf was found, the state of relations in the waste, and the guns that were being carried by the bandits and the sentries we passed on the way to the gate of the keep. This person was not quick to disclose the means by which they gained access to the information about firearms, but it appears that they had quickly mastered the fundamentals. I was so distracted by the conversation that I did not notice the giant gorilla that was in one of the prison cells until I was right on top of it.

Such a huge beast was impressive to say the least, it was watching us as we entered the cells, and kept an eye while we moved about the dungeon. Amaras being the person he is was instantly taken with the Gorilla, and wanted to know why it was imprisoned. According to the guards, the gorillas are part of a race of intelligent primates that live in the jungle to the west. And they periodically raid the wastes in search of victims or supplies.

Amaras decided that he wanted to talk with the thing, and I followed along, since if it was intelligent I would be the better diplomat. Amaras was almost killed by the gorilla when he approached the cage, as it charged the bars and reached for my brother when he got close enough, it was only a matter of luck that he jerked away at the sudden movement. We started to ask the gorilla some questions about the guards and surrounding area, but it was not really forthcoming until I suggested that I may be able to see it returned to the jungle.

This offer peaked its interest and promised to assist us with information if I was able to secure such a deal. So I went off alone to talk with the guard we have had contact with thus far, and suggested a trade, information on the refining process of gunpowder, for the release of the gorilla and guides to take us to the location where the dwarf was found. It was a hard bargain, but after explaining the desire of Amaras to see no animal locked in a cage, and providing some information (made up information since I never really paid any attention to Lor’Athorn when he talked about the powder) about how to refine the gunpowder the guard agreed to my terms. I had to promise to deliver complete plans regarding the gunpowder to her people as soon as possible, and I was more than willing to promise anything as I swore to myself that I would not be returning to this land in my lifetime.

We left the keep with a contingent of guards, heading out into the wastes, and quickly found the location that the dwarf woman was found. Thankfully Correna was with us and able to determine the direction the dwarf was running from when she fell into the coma. We made our way following Correna to a pit in the ground, I said I would scout out ahead and see what I could find in the way of traps or pitfalls in the new location. So I quickly scaled down the walls of the pit, and found that the cave was very well worked, almost as comfortable as the holes the dwarves in the mountains live in.

Making my way down a short passage, it opened into a large chamber that was lined with alchemical workbenches, much the same manner that Lor’Arthorn has his workspace set up. I made my way past the alchemy lab and move into another chamber that was smaller and less refined, with what looked like quartz crystals littering the floor and dotting the walls. At the far end of the room sat alone dark elf. Seeing that this was my element I snuck up behind her and struck for the killing blow. I had failed to account for the lack of my magical enhancements when making the strike, and was equally surprised to see that she had a number of magical enhancements protecting her.

The fight was quickly engaged, and I could tell that I was outmatched without the magical support of my items. Thankfully the rest of my siblings had followed me down without needing to be told to do so. When the woman saw how many of us were assaulting her hideout, she picked up a pickax and smashed it into the wall. I think we were all surprised when the cavern began to fall apart and rock tumbled upon us. I was pinned as the wall I was standing next to fell upon me. Palanon was also being buried alive under rock. It was a grim moment in my life, for I was sure that the end had finally arrived for me.

Thankfully my siblings were able to vanquish the elf before she brought the entire cavern down upon us all. We found some notes that detailed her mission here in the Wastes and Lor’Athorn was instantly drawn to the alchemy lab that was set up outside. While we were leaving I noticed that Falcon had climbed down into the pit, but he had not bothered to come help us with the fight.

Once we finished clearing out the hideout, both by taking what we could use and destroying the rest, we made our way back to the keep to alert them to the plans of the dark elves. I think we saved a good many of the people in the keep that day, but I would not for one be returning to see how they fair in the future. I know that Navarre would like nothing more than to destroy them for stealing the information on manufacturing firearms. Maybe he will have his chance in the future, maybe the information I provided them will prove to be catastrophic and end their dabbling with something they should not have access to in the first place.

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Victory of the Void
Mitch

We are on the way to Nimuria, a land of strange magic and altered beasts. Palanon has determined that the next region that will be influenced by a starfall event will be this realm, but he is not certain, he said it feels different. So we had taken some time to talk with Phos about the area, since in his youth he spent a good deal of time searching for unique alchemical creations, and one of the places he stopped was Nimuira.

Phos was more than willing to assist us, in fact he wanted to join us on this mission, and starting packing as soon as we mentioned the area. We couldn’t get more the two coherent words out of him while he was packing, but we did catch man and Q’lick. So we went to the owl to determine what we were about to encounter. I for one never really like associating with Phos, he is to chaotic for my tastes, the others find him charming and harmless, I know, but in actuality he may be the most dangerous of all our advisors. He is not someone that should be trusted implicitly, as we have seen with his addiction to his cognogen, for without it he reverts to a physically fit idiot.

Q’lick told us of the excursion they took in the past to Nimuria, and the strange metal man they found in the barrens around the silver mountain, a strange rock that crashed from the sky ages ago. Q’lick told a harrowing tale of kidnapping, danger, and terror, all occurring because of Phos. Q’lick stalked off and accosted Phos in his lab, taking a map that was created long ago, showing the location of this metal man. So we made our way to Nimuria, following this map, in the hopes that it would lead us to the location of the man, and maybe it could help us find the location of the next starfall.

It took a relatively short time to go Kyonin to Nimuria, the elfgates providing speedy travel from one location to another. Falcon was once again with us, under the care of Navarre this time, since the bird is his pet. The map that Phos and Q’lick had made was surprisingly accurate for its age, and we had almost no problem in finding the steel man, the age of the map showed a clear gorge but time had allowed it to become overgrown with brambles and thorns. This obstacle was quickly handled by Palanon, I could almost hear the heartbreak in Amaras as Palanon eradicated the plants with a burst of plant killing energy. It is a good thing that my brothers memory is not as coherent as it used to be.

Upon entering the gorge proper, it was easy to locate the man, it was half buried in the dirt, with four pillars of metal surrounding it. I moved forward to examine the pillars, but found no markings that I could recognize or identify as dangerous, and waved the rest of the family forward. Navarre took to dismantling the man immediate, thinking it was no more than a suite of armor, but when he removed the arm, the thing made a terrible sound, much like the noise that is made by a restrained prisoner being tortured for information.

The noise had two immediate effects, one was that we were all stunned to realize this thing had some form of intelligence, and second the pillars around the thing started to open up and change into something else. Faster than we could react, the group of us were set upon by some type of golem, all spinning wheels, and glass jars, with liquid leaking from joints and pipes. The danger they posed was not lost on us and we quickly did what we could to eliminate them. The things used strange magic that was like nothing any of us have ever seen, and once they were slain, we took everything we could salvage and made our way to the city at the base of the Silver Mountain. The strange metal man was with us, and it only took Navarre a few minutes to replace the arm and assist with repairing some of the damage to its “body”. It told us a name that seemed to just be random letters put together, I can’t even recall what It was now that I think about it, R2D2, C3PO, or ITPM4 something like that was its name.

The metal man proved to be very useful however as it started to lead us to the gate when normal magic was unable to accomplish the same goal. We moved away from the city and into the grasslands. It was at this point that i noticed we were being followed, so I dropped back to show our tail just what it means to be sneaking up on our family. Using one of the things we pulled from the bodies of the golems, I placed it in the road and watched as the rider came toward us. The item from the golems worked amazingly well, almost like a fireball in point of fact, and the poor horse was blown apart by the device, the rider however was spared the majority of the blast.

The thing stood up and started to advance on my family, and my brave Ari strode forward to meet it. After a brief exchange I recognized the entity as Risa, the half that was taken by the inevitable. Calling out to her, she stopped, holding a wicked looking barbed whip in one hand, waiting for us to explain ourselves. Once again, Mirri took the initiative to speak with her, at least this time did not end the same way as it has in the past. Risa seemed to accept Mirri’s reason for being and the attack on her person, since she was sneaking up on us, and we agreed to work in concert to stop the damage that was being done to a gate in the area, since we assumed that such a thing was the reason for the next starfall.

So we progressed further into the grasslands, and they started to give way to forest, a sick and sprase bunch of trees more than a forest. Amaras was particularly distraught by the state of the trees, as something had to be occurring that would cause trees to be so thin and sickly looking. But we saw no sign of the fungus or mold that we have nearly always seen with such decay in wood. Pressing on toward the center of the forest we all started to feel sick, Correna more so than any of the rest of us.

Upon reaching the center of the standing of trees, we found what we were looking for, but unlike any other gates we had passed through in the past this one was made of a strange metal and floated a foot above the ground. Risa found that she was unable to enter the floating disk, and asked that we proceed with caution and find the cause of the disturbance on the other side.

Taking some precautions we entered the ring, and once we passed through found ourselves in a wholly alien environment. It looked a lot like a dungeon, but only if the blocks of stone were made of flesh, bodies of dead dark elves were around the entrance, and we realized that being here may be more dangerous than we had anticipated. Quickly moving through the corridors searching for anything that would point to the reason the gate was active, we eventually found a dark elf melded with the flesh of whatever we were in. We quickly killed the elf and ran back to the entrance as the thing we were in shook and vibrated, causing passages to open or close at random.

Sprinting for the exit, the force of gravity was lost, and we floated toward the open gate. Being the most nimble of my siblings, with the possible exception of Drakar, I did a little flip by pushing myself off a wall and soared through the center of the ring. I stood outside anxiously awaiting the return of all my other siblings, and was glad to see that each of them was able to escape before the gate winked out of existence.

Risa was pleased for our assistance, but did not offer any sort of help returning home, but the steel man did follow us back to Kyonin, and is now serving as an assistant to Phos.

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The Kronquist Killings
Mitch

Well Navarre has left us along on this next trek of our journey, but he insisted that we bring along Falcon. I do not understand how Navarre is able to live with that man, he should have been killed long ago, and nothing good will come of our involvement with him. But everyone else seems to be willing to give Navarre the freedom to do what he wants with his prisoner, or should I say guest, since a prisoner does not have the freedoms that Falcon enjoys.

So we have taken the effort to bring Falcon along with us to Ustalav, a dismal corner of the world that seems to have a perpetual cloud hanging over the country, so no sunlight is seen, just drab grays and browns. Falcon seemed to be more withdrawn than, I guess he knew that if I had the chance I would see him fall to his death in an accident during the long climbs over the peaks of Ustalav. When we finally reached the destination seen by Palanon in his visions, it looked to be little more than a run-down town, with a broken keep overlooking the valley.

Upon entering the hamlet we were avoided like the plague, maybe it was because we came at dusk and none of the population were about at this hour, or because of something more sinister. Making our way to the inn, when we entered we were greeted with a resounding silence. We could hear the cacophony coming from inside but once we entered everyone stopped everything they were doing, looking at us with fear in their eyes. Something had the people of this village on edge, not that I really cared, we were here for a specific reason, and I thanked Calistria that Navarre was not here, for he would have wanted to help these people, without knowing what was wrong.

Once everyone was inside, Falcon kept his hood up so that no one could see his face, we made our way to the back of the inn, and the noise level started to rise again, since we did not descend on them with a bloody vengeance. It was at this point were a familiar face popped out of the crowd, the human Maritanis was here, visiting friends and family I assume, since it seems that he has family everywhere in this world. He talked with my sibling for a while, and they seemed to be fascinated with some of his tails, I on the other hand was using most of my energy watching Falcon, and it is a good thing I did, for he left the inn while everyone else was occupied.

Following Falcon out of the inn, I confronted him in the darkness of an ally. I was very clear about my desire to see him dead for the things that he and his people had done to my family, and that the only reason I had not yet acted was the prospect of seeing Navarre succeed in turning him into one of us before I killed him. I actually think that Falcon was relieved to see that at least one of the Edassaial family was willing to slay him, and not just pretend to be his friend.

When I returned to the interior of the inn, it seems like my family had managed to coax an old fortune teller to read the stars and give us some advice about our current mission. I have seen many things like this before, in fact I have a person who does something similar at Xhanadu, giving vague prophecy and riddle, while charging an outrageous fee for such “information”. The old man was no different, none of the information was specific, and in our line of work we would always be in danger, or darkness, or on the verge of death. I was not impressed by his antics.

In the morning we headed up to the keep, as my family had managed to gain some information from both the locals and Falcon about the previous owner of the castle. It appears that he was a vampire lord, and he made a deal with the dark elves to help them with their longevity issues if they would help him with his disease. Thinking that a ruler would not allow his keep to fall into such decay, we assumed he was long dead and made our way up the mountain to the keep. Foolish I know, but the others were convinced that it would be safe.

Upon reaching the summit and entering the courtyard we found that the keep was not as empty as we had hoped, the vampire lord came out of the darkness and into the light. I had always been told that such an act was impossible, but I am now much wiser as to the extent of what a vampire lord can do. Surprisingly he only wanted us to leave, he had things he was doing. We quickly confronted him about the events that were transpiring, and the reason for our incursion into his realm.

He told us that he had stolen some of the information about the starfall’s from the dark elves during their stay at his castle, and that he was going to call down a star to help save the life of his one true love, a villager from the town that had been turned into a vampire years ago. It was about this time that Palanon realized what the effect of having this starfall would mean to the world of magic, a simple thing but one that would have hindered our enemies greatly. Teleportation magic would only work in areas that had been touched by the light of day or some such nonsense. I do not pretend to understand the theories of magic, but it sounded like the best method of limiting the dark elf moments.

I suggested that we let the star fall on this place, and we could be rid of two evils for the price of a small magical price. But my siblings were not willing to make that sacrifice, especially my magically inclined brothers. The mere thought of altering the fabric of magical law was sacrilegious to them, and they refused to allow such an event to transpire.

So against my better judgment we made a deal with the undead lord. We would help restore his love to her natural state, if he agreed not to use the starfall magic. He gave us one year to find a way to bring her back or he would start his process over again. So we left, safe in the knowledge that he would not be able to attempt this again for at least a year, yet, at this time we have not made any headway toward saving the young woman.

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Air Battle

The roar of the wind was so loud Coreena could barley think. She had flown on a giant owl once before, but that was just being carried from one location to another. Staying on ones back during a fight was a whole different experience. Especially when the battle is against a giant blighted dragon.

Coreena and several other boarder guards and rangers had just learned about Spore Wings existence before it attacked. A nasty surprise Treerazor had been waiting to unleash at just the right time. Thankfully the group of them was near one of the owls keeps when the attack happened. Kynonin’s boarders provided no resistance to the air born monster so they quickly enlisted aid of the owls and took to the skies. They were only in the air for a couple minutes before they spotted Spore Wing. Coreena had fought a dragon before with her mother and the rest of her family. She remembered the power of the creature and its horrendous appearance having been infused with the black blood of the dark elves.

It was nothing compared to Spore Wing.

It blotted out the sun as it flew by. With every beat of it’s wings it created tremendous gusts of wind filled with great clouds of green and yellow spores for which it takes its name. Its scales were covered with disgusting fungal growths, tumors, and other creeping plant life. They flew around it like gnats picking at a giant, desperately trying to avoid its slashing talons and frothing maw.

Coreena summoned the spirit of her bow and the two sent dozens of arrows into Spore Wing. She had no experience fighting while on the back of an air born creature. It took all her energy and concentration just to stay on her mount, gripping the creature tightly with her legs. Thankfully her target was so large she was sure she never missed it. Despite her effort and that of her allies, they were doing nothing to Spore Wing except annoying it. The attack was desperate and their only hope was that they would buy enough time distracting Spore Wing for Kyonin to gather its forces. It was a suicide attack and they all knew it.

Coreena stopped firing and grabbed a hold of her mount as it dove through the air twisting to avoid one of Spore Wings swipes. The owls thankfully were much more graceful in the sky then the dragon and were able to dodge its clumsy attacks with ease. Still they could only do so much, and as Coreena and her mount swooped back around for another attack, they saw Spore Wing snap one of the owls and its rider up. Even far away they could hear the screams and the crunching of bones and the dragon chewed its prey. Coreena and her owl swooped in and renewed their attack, as futile as it was.

Thyras had fought while mounted on an owl before and was much precise with his shots. Him and his mount flew in front of Spore Wing targeting its eyes and inside its mouth. Even these precise attacks did little to Spore Wing and a backhand from the beast smacked Thyras out of the sky. Coreena watched in horror as he plummeted to his death.

Just then, a large volley of arrows shot up from the woods below. Coreena also heard a large thunder crack as number of Nevar’s and Lor-Athorn’s guns were fired off. The assault was enough to wound Spore Wing and the dragon let out a grunt of frustration. It turned away from Correna and the remaining owls and dove towards the ground where the attack had come from. As it passed, it let lose a gust of its horrible breath. Spore Wing’s breath looked like a alien combination of fire and acid and the tree’s that it engulfed did not burn. Instead they immediately rotted away as if diseased and were rapidly covered with fungus. Coreena did not know what the breath did to the defenders below, but no more volleys came from that area.

Spore Wing rose up and continued south towards the capitol. Coreena and the others flew forward as fast as their mounts could to intercept. As they gained they continued their attack, but Spore Wing did nothing but fly on, content to ignore them. Just when she thought that their was nothing more to be done, she heard a tremendous roar come from the clouds above them. She looked up and saw another dragon come diving out of the clouds above Spore Wing. The sun glistened off its bronze scales as flew at Spore Wing spewing forth a bolt of lightning. The bolt struck Spore Wing before it could turn to face the new foe, burning a large section of its back. Spore Wing screamed and rolled over just as the bronze dragon smashed into it at full speed driving Spore Wing into the ground with a tremendous crash. Coreena heard the others around her cheering, but she was still on edge. The bronze dragon was brave, but it was still smaller then Spore Wing. The cheering faded as they watched the battle on the ground the below. The bronze was trying its best but was soon overpowered by the larger dragon. It took to the sky with several bad wounds covering its body. Spore Wing followed unleashing its blighted breath at the other dragon. The bronze rolled out of the way and Coreena let out a gasp as the blast was coming right at her. Her owl barley rolled out of the way but got its wing clipped by the breath. Coreena clung on as her mount screamed and feel. The owl was flapping its one good wing as the other dissolved away trying to right itself. The world was spinning and Coreena felt as if she was about to pass out. She saw a large mountain closing on her fast and she closed eyes waiting for the crash.

At the very last moment the owl reared up and had its body take the full brunt of the impact. As it hit the ground Coreena flew off into the rocks. She tired her best to roll with the fall but she still rolled several feet when she hit the ground. She gritted her teeth and knew that she had several broken bones. She took a couple of deep painful breaths and slowly stood up. She limped over to shattered remains of the owl. She put her hand on its body and said a silent prayer to Erastil for the soul of the brave creature. She hadn’t known its name, but it gave its life to save hers. After finishing the prayer she walked to the edge and gazed up at the sky. She couldn’t do any more from her position so she was forced to look on for the rest of the battle.

Spore Wing was continuing to try and grapple the bronze dragon as the rest of the owl riders continued to ping it with arrows. Coreena squinted as what appeared to be several other creatures appeared in the air. Large birds, celestial warriors, elementals and other various creatures appeared from nowhere and descended on Spore Wing. Coreena knew that this meant that Kyonin’s mage’s had finally arrived and were summoning numerous creatures to even the odds against Spore Wing. As to confirm her prediction, several rays of fire and bolts of lightning shot from the ground into Spore Wing. The creature let out scream of pain as it was assaulted by the new onslaught. It turned from its pursuit of the bronze and turned towards the ground where the magical attacks where coming, ready to unleash its deadly breath. Knowing what was coming, the bronze quickly swooped around and smashed into Spore Wings back. The impact knocked off Spore Wings aim and its breath scorched off target, hitting only a small part of the forest where the attacks where coming. Several more bolts answered back, though less then before. Spore Wing again screamed as more of the attacks found their mark and scorched its body. Seeing it was now out matched, it turned and flew back towards the Tanglebriar at great speed.

The bronze turned to pursue along with several other of the summoned creatures sky creatures. They assaulted Spore Wing every step of the way with numbers of attacks. Finally their was a crack of thunder as the bronze let lose its lightning breath, striking Spore Wing squarely in the back. Spore Wing let out one final scream and fell from the sky, its body crashing down near the boarder of the Tanglebriar.

Coreena jumped for joy as the terrible beast was brought down. The summoned creatures disappeared and the bronze flew back up and disappeared into the sky. Coreena closed her eyes and breathed deep, savoring the victory. Then it dawned on her. She looked around at the mass of rocks where she landed and up at the sky near her. No one was close to her and would not hear her cry even if she could speak. She let out a sigh and began to crawl over the edge.

It was going to be a long climb down.

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Father's Legacy

She pulled her arrows out of her latest kill. It had been a long day and the sun was going down. It was crazy enough hunting in the Tanglebriar, but to do so at night was nearly suicidal. Tyras gave the signal for them to move out and hopefully make it back to their camp before nightfall. Coreena took a moment to watch the sun set and feel the cool breeze on her skin. She wondered where her mother was. Was she watching the same sunset? She lingered in her thoughts for a moment and then moved out.

Night had descended and they were still marching through the swamps. They had gone too far to kill their last target and now were many miles away form the safe camp site they had scouted earlier. Coreena sighed at the prospect of another long march. She was tired and unlike her elven companions she needed to sleep eventually. They were just crossing a small stream filled with brackish muck when they heard it. It was a sound they had all heard many times, but they never expected to hear it out here. Singing in the Tanglebriar?

Tyras held up his had and they all stopped alert. Coreena recognized the tune. Syreal, one of her party, was singing it just this morning. It was a song about weary guard watching the night sky, anxious to return to his love back home. It was often sung by elves who where on watch to help pass time. The voice singing was very beautiful and sounded like it belonged to a young elven man. Coreena had a hard time picking out the lyrics. Some of the words were different and the dialect the singer was using was one she had never heard. Her companions seemed more disturbed then her and scanned their surroundings cautiously. Thyras looked deep in thought as the party awaited his orders. This obviously had to be a trap, but what was singing the song? He eventually gave the signal for them to move on, but every one was still on guard as they continued . They hadn’t gone far when they encountered the singer.

He was sitting on a tree branch staring up at the sky, his bow lying casually across his lap. He was young elf with a forlorn look on his face as he continued the song. Even though he appeared to be singing softly to himself, his voice was carrying far. He was also completely transparent. Their bows were raised towards the spirit when he turned and looked directly at them, even though they had made no sound. When his gaze feel upon them his features twisted with rage and he let out an unearthly scream. They let lose their arrows but soon found themselves surrounded as several more elven spirits appeared around them. Thyras screamed for retreat as several ghostly black arrows flew at them. Many found their mark and three of their party lay dead as they began to run. Coreena let one arrow fly and was turning to follow when a vine from the ground wrapped itself around her ankle. Before she could react she was hoisted up into the air and found herself dangling before a Shambling Mound. The creature flung her and she flew several feet and smashed into a tree. She feel and the wind was knocked out of her. She rolled onto her hands and knee’s cursing herself for not seeing the creature. They were common in the Tanglbriar and she became quite skilled at spotting them during her hunts. She should have noticed it had she not be so entranced with the ghostly elf. She stood up ready to run when she realized that she had dropped her bow. It was several feet from her lying in the roots of a neighboring tree. She reached for it but several black arrows zipped past her and she knew she could not retrieve it without being killed. Knowing she could do nothing else, she turned and ran.

She soon caught up to the others but their pursuers were right behind them, passing through the terrain unhindered. She saw several more of her party members had fallen and the few remaining were injured. Thyras along with a few others stopped and let lose a volley hoping to slow the spirits. Unfortunately the arrows had little effect and most passed through the spirits harmlessly. Coreena grabbed her fathers bow and joined in the attack. They all knew it was futile now, but they wouldn’t just sit there without putting up a fight. She had never used her father’s bow in combat before, keeping it only as a backup. It was a different style then her own, and she was afraid to damage it as it was one of the few things left of her father. When she readied it however, she felt something she never had before. A warmth coursed through the bow and she heard a distant voice calling from it. She called back to the voice and white vapor flowed out of the bow and formed around her. A figure appeared from the mist hovering above her. It carried a bow similar fathers and looked as if shared the same heritage. Coreena remembered her grandmother Nameko telling her that the bow was a family heirloom but remembered nothing about it being magical. Was this spirit always part of the bow, or recent blessing to the weapon?

The spirit reached in to Coreena’s quiver and began letting lose arrows. She joined in and together they let lose steam of arrows at the angered spirits. Unlike the arrows her companions were using, these arrows hit their marks perfectly and each hit caused the spirits to scream in pain. Soon several of the spirit’s dissipated and the others turned to retreat. The Shambling Mound stepped forward out of the foliage intent on finishing Coreena and her companions off. She turned her attention to it and struck it in several vital spots. Her companions and the guardian spirit joined in and the slow moving plant soon found itself shredded by a storm of arrows. It stopped and turned to retreat knowing it would not be fast enough to close on them without being destroyed. The spirit above Coreena disappeared and she was embraced by the remainder of her party. She wanted to go back and retrieve her other bow but knew it was too dangerous. She joined the others as they hurried to their campsite.

Only Coreena, Thyras, Syreal, and a young elf name Tyrion survived the attack. They settled into their camp and set up watches. The site was secluded and would be hard to notice, but they were still in the Tanglebriar. Coreena was given final watch for which she was thankful. She knew she would only get a few hours of rest before they headed out in the morning. With so few of them left they could not continue their hunts. Coreena was settling in when she overheard Syreal talking to Thyras.

“You know what those were?” Syreal was whispering to Thyras.

“Just more of Treerazor’s minions,” Thyras responded casually, “who knows how many horrors he has lurking in here”.

Syreal was frightened however and there was a hint of panic in her voice They were left behind”.

“What do you mean?” Thyras asked.

“When we retreated to Sovyrian, there were a few who stayed behind to guard the woods. They fell when Treerazor conquered Kyonin. That had to be them!”

Thyras was silent for a moment before he responded shaking his head “No. Just because they looked like us doesn’t mean they were ghosts of ancient watchmen.”

“But the song he was singing. Their clothes, their eyes, even the way they fought. They have to be Elven spirits”.

“We have lost many scouts in these lands. Maybe it was their spirits.” Thyras’s however, didn’t sound too sure of his own response.

The conversation died down and Coreena turned away. She remember her mother telling her about an ancient tomb she and her aunt and uncles had come across filled with the spirits of ancient elves who stayed behind when the rest ran to Sovyrian. Coreena held her fathers bow tightly, thankful for its protection. She had heard many stories of strange spirits that existed in her fathers homeland of Tian Xia. A shiver ran through her as she remember her own encounter with the nine tailed fox. Her fathers bow was obviously a weapon blessed to fight such horrors. With Treerazor’s forces constantly attacking Kyonin’s boarders, they would need such weapons.

Weary, Coreena slowly let her thoughts fade as she fell to sleep. She was actually eager to return home and maybe even see her daughter. She had no idea of the horror that was soon to be unleashed upon Kyonin.

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