Legacy of the Forlorn

Greengold Burns

“The amulets are fakes and people are buying them in hopes of being protected from a demon or devil, this can only end in disasters for us.” came Miri’s stern voice. “We should craft real ones and sell those to the people or better yet just give them out so they can see we care for their well being.

“And bankrupt our county more than we already have dear sister? Oh yes that sounds like a fantastic idea.” Drawled Slyphs from where he sat at the council chamber. The argument had been raging now for hours and it was showing no signs of going anywhere. Various ideas had been raised and countered by each person at the table and Amaras was growing tired of it. He was sick of sitting around debating the fates of so many others, he had enjoyed life much more when it was just his fate he held in his hands. “We can’t afford to make real amulets so we shall craft fake ones and give those out, it will assayed the people’s fears and prevent us from running the nation anymore” stated Lorathron rising from his seat at the table.

“Brother that will only cause more trouble for us what if Treerazer or his minions attack us once more? The amulets fail to work people will blame us for this.” Replied Miri rising to her feet with the look she got when she was ready to preach. Amaras pushed himself back and stood up “Then I shall take some of my forces south to harass his minions that will show the people we are doing what we can to protect them.” He said as he turned away to leave.

“I would not do that brother you could stir him to attack.” The warning fell on deaf ears as he left the chambers. He summoned the leaders of his bands to him and in moments Kalon leader of the Way Watchers, Dilianna of the Eternal Guard and Drexen of the Spell Singers stood with him as he outlined his plans. The three bands would travel south and enter the Tangle Briar and do what damage they could use hit and run attacks, mean while the Conclave would pass word to the common people so they knew that their leaders were fighting on their behalf. Setting off it took little time for them reach their destination thanks to the Elf Gates and hidden paths of the forest, for nearly three weeks they raided the briar sowing havoc and discord among their foes. Their losses were light and Amaras quickly called off the raids, they had done what they needed and they prepared to return home. They would go to Greengold to celebrate their success and they began the trip back.

It was twilight when they started to near the city when they saw a soft glow which many began to speculate on, was it a party? Were they celebrating something? Surely they must for they could smell wood smoke and cooking meat. But something was wrong, Amaras could feel it in his stomach a churning he could not explain and without knowing why he ordered some scouts ahead as the rest walked. They could hear the thunder of the giant stags hooves as they rushed back to them the scout on its back eyes wide with horror “Greengold…it burns!” he shouted and the rest broke into a run rushing the city. As they broke the forests edge they saw the truth the grand houses and massive trees were ablaze with fire some natural others magical in nature for sure as they burned a sickly green. Houses had been smashed apart, cobblestones ripped asunder and bodies…bodies lay everywhere. The very first one he came to had been ripped apart by claws and fangs he vaguely heard the voice of Kalon. He looked around the city and in the burning glow he saw that not all the bodies were those of the people living there, he saw moldering corpses, fungus shrouded animals and the greasy black smugs marking a demon or devils death. “We have to help them….Everyone!” he shouted at the others “Save those you can try and douse the fires with magic or water.” He stood and sprinted for the nearest house which was alight with flames the screams of children ringing out from within.

Many hours had passed since they had arrived; things had become a blur to him as Amaras sat slumped near the shattered remains of the once great central fountain. His eyes stung from the smoke in the hair and his breathing was raspy from inhaling so much of it. His body ached from the strain of hauling people from fires or carrying buckets of water and the burns he had sustained ached and stung him greatly, he had refused any healing demanding it to others. He sat and stared at what was left of the city, so much had been destroyed and from what he had gathered from the survivors it had been Treerazer who attacked, his minions boiling up from the sewers to slaughter and destroy. Had he caused his? Was this done by his own hubris thinking he could attack their foe without reprisal? Navarre, Miri and some of the others had arrived at some point to help battle the blaze and tended the wounded. He shoved himself to his feet and headed to where they stood he was weary to the bone and sick in his soul for all those who had perished. A mob of the survivors was near the others some yelling demanding answers, answers no one had. He could hear them wanting to know why the amulets they had been given failed, others why the army had not been there sooner. He had just reached the edge of the group when he heard it, a accusing voice among the crowd.

“It was him! The Warden caused this, he and his people attacked Treerazer they provoked this!” the cry was taken up by others. His head spun at the angry words that were being hurled at him “He is responsible! My child is dead because of him! He should have left them alone! He is a threat! He should be removed!” the cries went on and someone else threw blame at him for the war earlier in the year and the deaths in that. They were heaping them all upon him and it was all true, he saw Kalon and Dilianna faces smeared with ash and set with angry yelling back at the crowd. It was not helping thinks, he grabbed their arms and pulled them back “Enough both of you.” He snapped at them.

Dilianna looked at him “They are fools Warden! You can’t let them slander your name like this you have given so much for them…” she was angry she was torn with grief and she had no way to let it out save by yelling at his detractors. “Arrest him!” came the cry from the crowd “Who does he think he is? is he above punishment? See how the king protects his little brother. “ that last struck him deeply. He looked for who had said it but he could see only the angry mob then Navarre was in front him hand on his shoulder. “You need to leave little brother and you need to leave now. Someone is trying to turn them into a lynch mob.” His older brother looked back at the crowd and could see the murder in their eyes. “We can’t fight among ourselves and if they try and take you me and my warriors will defend you.” Amaras held up his hands to stall his words. “Kalon, fetch Elensar or one of his captains, have them place me in chains and take me away.”

Dilianna’s mouth dropped open in shock “What!” she shrieked “it is the only way to prevent more death or bloodshed.” snapped the druid as he looked at his friends and family. “If they see me taken away and believe punishment will follow they will be calmed, calmed enough for my family to help them. I can only cause more harm being here now do it.” She turned and stormed away but she would not refuse his command.

Moments later Elenshar pushed his way through the crowd a pair of silvered manacles in his hands many of the crowd jeered and hooted. “Lock him! That is what you do with a wild animal! Savage!” the crowd yelled out as he lifted his wrists up and without comment or word his brother clapped them around him. He could see the sadness and torn feelings in the Marshall’s eyes and he wanted to laugh. It was not so long ago that any of his family would have gladly clapped him into chains and it would have been well warranted his once savage nature out of control but now, now that he was cured and free he was being caged. The irony was not lost to him and when the pair of guards took his arms and turned him around to march him away he felt old, far older than he ever should have been. Words slipped into his mind from somewhere that he heard once but could not place “I am sorry for all that you will have endure young one but hold strong and you will prove worthy of my legacy.”

He heard Elensar telling the crowd he would be taken to the palace to answer to the king and council for his actions the cheers torn his heart even more as he was led away. He saw Miri standing to one side watching him “I told you brother, I told you….”

“Enough sisters I don’t need your scorn or reminders heaped upon me as well. “ he shouldered past her his own people behind him giving glares at the woman. Navarre had been correct someone had been trying to rally the people to turn them into a blood thirsty mob. They had used him to focus that hate and grief and he could only think of one group, one enemy who would do that and do that so well..

The Shadows had returned to Kyonin.

Temple of the Spider

It has taken us days to leave the Lake of Black Blood and the beast that calls it home. It hounded us for days after leaving the edge of the lake, looking for easy prey would be my guess, and eventually it stopped chasing us. My little band, as for all intents and purposes, it is my band as we have found that the society is matriarchal instead of patriarchal. I have to be the leader, the voice of the group and the one the dark elves looked to for guidance and strength. I knew from prior dealings that any sign of weakness would be seen as an opportunity and that I would be killed for that weakness, so I acted accordingly. Every order I gave and result needed to be harsh and unjust if seen in public, and as such I think my siblings and Ari started to see me in a different light. I was only doing what I must to ensure that we all survived this realm, but I think they saw it as what I truly am, without the bonds of civilized culture holding me back.

Along our journey we encounter an outpost of sorts, one that appeared to be little more than a group of huts and farms, with a temple in the center. Seeing this as an opportunity, and having the guild confirm my suspicions, failing to acquire the village would be seen as a sign of weakness and would lead to our ultimate demise, so I did what I needed to do.

Marching into the village, as if it was already mine, I had our guide announce that all those now living in the village were subject to the rule of house Edasseril. The commoners seemed to take this in stride, accepting it as fact, while some trumped up official tried to stop us, no sooner had he said we had no authority then I motioned for him to be slain, which was done with quick efficiency by Navarre. Moving though our newly conquered village, it became apparent that death was a way of life for those here. Moving toward the temple, we were greeted by the priests of some daemon god and offered respite within the walls of the chapel. Seeing no way to avoid tipping our hand, I walked in, fully expecting the others to follow, as befits a person of my rank.

Upon entering the chapel, we were greeted by the leader of this cult, and his acolytes. We were offered drink, and we all accepted but did not drink, since it could have very well been poisoned. We bantered back and forth for a few minutes, with the priest demanding to know on who’s authority we conquered the village, and in an attempt to banter names, I used the only person of authority I knew of in dark elf society, that of Lord Kestral. The blank look that I received when I mentioned the name tipped my hand, as I knew that I had made a grave mistake, the name meant nothing outside his group, and now we had to fight.

I had anticipated a quick fight if one broke out, seeing as how the acolytes and the priest were all old and looked malnourished. Yet once the fight started, the head priest changed, turning into some bloated monstrosity with what appeared to be brains sitting in abscesses on its body. The fight did not last long, as our attacks quickly overpowered the acolytes and the head priest, now a creature that resembled a giant fly, was all that remained. The magic it wielded was impressive, yet the combined forces of our family managed to dispatch the monster without much problem. It was only after the fight that I realized that we were being watched from the darkness. I had not mentioned it to my siblings at the time, and I am not overly comfortable mentioning it now, but I feel that it may be important. A large black wasp looking creature was watching the conflict from the rafters. I felt no malice from the creature, and the thing came down close to me, I felt a strange sense of comfort from the creature like everything would be ok, then it left vanishing into the darkness.

Seeing as how the village would now be without even the rudimentary protections of this cult, I decided that no person would be allowed to stay in the village once we left, they would all need to follow us on our journey to the city. There were those that refused, those that wanted to stay, and I allowed them to. Only not in the way they intended I would guess, I had each person who refused to follow us killed, and the village burned to the ground to prevent anyone from leaving our group in hopes of backtracking to a familiar place. This seemed to be expected by the dark elves, but the look of horror on the faces of my siblings as I gave the orders to put close to thirty people to death was one I will not soon forget.

Decent into Darkness

We have been tricked or betrayed, either way the end result is that we are now trapped in the darklands. Falcon sacrificed himself, betraying Kestral and us, using his final wish to send us here to die. We awoke to find ourselves in one of Falcons old hideouts I am guessing, as it has a number of journals of his here, as well as clothing and other items that may on to survive in this land.

One of the more interesting things about this hideout is that it is a lone piece of rock out in a lake of the black blood. A foul alchemical mixture that causes those who come in contact with it to change slightly. My siblings have been trying to determine a way to cross the lake, with the most accepted means being that of a boat being fashioned out of stone.

I for one was not comfortable with the idea of crossing the lake on something that normally sinks into water, but it appeared that the black blood was more solid then liquid, as the stone move across it much like a raft would water. Amaras turned into a large bat to pull us across the lake, as there was no means of propelling the stone raft otherwise.

About half way across the lake we heard something, a cross between a scream and a roar, at it appears that we violated the space of some creature that lived in the black blood. Pushing Amaras to continue his track across the lake with all haste, we finally reached the shoreline. I had the idea to use some of the scented soaps that I carry with me when out on these little adventures to lure away whatever was now following us. Coating the raft with a thin layer of the soap, it was pushed away from the shore and spells set it in motion back out into the lake. We headed the other way, moving away from the sounds made by our pursuer. In our trek across the lake, Amaras spotted a domed shaped structure at the edge of the lake, and that was where we headed to both gain our bearings and rest after crossing the lake.

When we finally reached the structure, it was one of many in the area, most covered by a softly glowing mushroom. Avoiding the fungus we made our way into the structure, only to find that it had been used in the past by other groups, maybe a way station of sorts as there was an old fire pit, and some hidden supplies marked with a strange symbol. Against my better judgment we avoided opening the cache of goods, and instead made camp. Now I should mention that before we left the hut, I took a great deal of effort to hide our heritage, using makeup and other effects to change the appearance of myself and my siblings to match the traits that I had seen in the dark elves we had encountered on the surface. This precaution became important much sooner than I had anticipated when a group of dark elves came to the structure seeking shelter in much the same manner that we had.

I took the initiative and spoke with them, as I had spent a good deal of time studying our enemy in the past, learning something of their language and customs. Also lying comes as easily to me as breathing, which is not something I can say for my siblings. It took a short amount of time to convince the other group to stand down and accept our authority, as we had the stronger party. It was during this exchange that we became aware that the creature that was in the lake had attacked and killed a number of their trading caravan, leaving these survivors scrambling to find safety.

Seeing an opportunity, I offered the services of my siblings as protection in exchange for a guide to the city they came from, saying our guide has also perished in the depths for being foolish and not following orders. Striking a bargain, the would be leader of the group accepted our offer and joined his group with ours, submitting to my authority.

It was only a few hours later that we left that location and started moving out toward the city of Zaknikernin. I came to discover through intimidation and coercion that the trip to the city would take weeks, as the cave networks were both treacherous and winding. Moving at a steady pace we made good time, but it was only after a few hours on the road that we encountered our first challenge, as a group of creatures attacked us. It took my siblings little time to make short work of the creatures, a welcome change of pace from the usual, as the speed with which they killed the attackers truly did secure my position with the new dark elves. If we had taken too long to kill the attackers, I do not think that our guide would have been as helpful as he was during our long trip.

Creatures were not the only challenge we faced in our journey, as the caves themselves seemed to be alive, and attempted to kill us on more than one occasion. Both a rockslide and a flood nearly claimed our lives, the flood actually taking some of the dark elves by surprise, one being our guide who was distracted by the sound of a roar as the flood came crashing down the tunnel. It was at this point that the remaining dark elves decided to try their luck and attack us to steal our weapons. This did not work out in their favor. Seeing as now we had no means of locating the city alone, we went downriver to see if our guide was still alive. Locating him took a bit of work, and we were not the only thing tracking him, as the beast from the lake was also moving in to consume the injured dark elf.

Appealing to the need for our own survival, my siblings saw the logic in saving the dark elf and managed to chase away the beast. I really do them too much credit in this respect, the beast was not chased away, rather it found the dead bodies of the other elves and ate them while we ran. Managing to escape the creature we nursed the guide and his sister back to reasonable health, and he swore a blood oath to serve us as a loyal house servant from this point forward. I accepted his oath, and indoctrinated him as a bound servant to the house of Edasseril. While this was a good move for me and my siblings, the ramifications of this act would not become apparent for some time, the consequences of which still tear at my soul.

The Gunslinger (Part V)

Minutes became hours. Hours became days. Khristian’s light spell had faded long ago and now Gayl sat in complete darkness. His body burned from the plague flowing through him and he was so exhausted he could barley lift his arms. He sat on the floor with his back to the wall, fighting to stay alert and conscious. His sense’s strained to notice any threat lurking in the darkness. If it came, he wasn’t sure he could do anything about it. Despite it all, his vigil never wavered. After what seemed like an eternity Gayl heard Khristian rousing next to him.


“I’m still here,” he responded. Their voices sounded thunderous in the quite sewer and Gayl flinched as he pulled himself up. He knew the baby would be crying soon and if anymore of the rat creatures were still lurking they would immediately be drawn to their position. He heard Khristian murmuring and soon his symbol of Sarenrae blazed with light. Gayl was blinded for a moment, but soon his vision returned and the brick walls of the sewer came back into focus. Khristian put his hand on Gayl’s head and looked into his eyes. “You’re still warm,” he said. “How do you feel”?

“Better actually,” Gayl responded. He still felt like hell and was very tired, but he did feel better then when he began his watch. Khristian patted him on the shoulder called him a “tough solider”. Gayl couldn’t help but smile at the complement reflecting on his initial recruitment. Khristian gathered up the still sleeping child and they continued their journey through the sewers.
They hadn’t traveled long when Gayl noticed their surroundings growing brighter. Soon they saw daylight up a head. They both let out a sigh of relief and headed towards the drainage exit. They were almost out when Gayl grabbed Khristian and stopped short. He heard several footsteps approaching from outside. Before they could react they saw shadows cast across the exit from the rising sun. They quickly turned back and ducked around a corner. Gayl pulled out his pistol and peaked his head around. He uttered a silent prayer hoping they would be passed by. He didn’t believe he could survive another fight. His hopes were quashed when he heard the barks and growls.

He just had enough time to utter a warning when hounds were unleashed and began charging towards them. They rounded the corner and one leapt towards Gayl while the other chased down Khristian. Gayl shot the hound while it was still in midair but its body still collided with him and knocked him off his feet. He rolled its carcus off of him and turned to help Khristian. Khristian was on the ground using his body to shield the baby from the hound. He cried out as its claws and teeth tore into him. Gayl pulled out his sword and skewered the dog who let out a loud yelp before dying. Gayl helped Khristian up as the sounds of shouts and footsteps drew close. Khristian was badly hurt but it looked like he could still walk. The baby was unharmed but was crying loudly. “Run,” Gayl yelled.

They began sprinting down the hall, but Gayl knew they could not outrun their pursuers with their injuries. With the child crying and Khristian’s light bobbing as he ran they had no way they could hide. “Keep running and swing round behind them and head towards the exit. I’ll hold them off while you escape.” Gayl said. Khristian turned to him ready to argue, but Gayl gave him a look showing that this was not up for debate. He stopped and turned back towards their pursuers while Khristian continued on. He pulled out his gun with his last bullet and waited. The light was faint here and he hopped that he would get the drop on them before he came into sight. Surprise was the only chance he had.

He saw their lantern floating ahead of him like a Will’O’Wisp with three shadowy figures following in its wake. Three men and one bullet. One of the figures stopped and pointed Gayl out. Gayl could tell from the man’s guttural speech that he had orc blood in him and that Gayl was as visible to him as if he were standing in daylight. His surprise blown, Gayl knew he was dead. His vision was getting blurry with his exertion and his pistol felt heavy in his hands. His mind raced as he tried to figure a way out. With no other options left, he took aim and fired at the best target he had.

The lantern exploded in the man’s hands, covering him and his companions in flames. As they screamed and struggled to put out the flames, Gayl rushed forward with his sword. He closed in and stabbed the orc repeatedly but then he was cracked on the head with a club from one of the other men. A bright flash of light consumed his vision and he felt himself falling. As soon as he hit the ground he was kicked in the stomach several times. He reached out and caught the man’s foot and shoved him forward sending him tumbling backwards. Gayl stuggled to his feet trying hard not to pass out or vomit. His ears were ringing and blood from his wound was running into his eyes. The man got back to his feet and came at Gayl. Gayl dodged the first couple of swings but the effort caused his head to spin and he stumbled and fell. The man stood over and raised his club over his head ready to crush Gayl’s skull. Gayl kicked out and swept the man off of his feet. Gayl held his sword erect and the man implaed himself on the blade as he fell foreward.

Gayl rolled the dead man off and got to his feet. Up ahead the last man had finally put out the flames, but his arm and face were badly burned and his swagger suggested he was in just as bad of shape as Gayl. Gayl advanced cautiously trying to keep his balance. Every couple of steps his vision would become blurry and he saw himself facing three men instead of one. He saw the man reach into his coat with his good hand and pull out an ax. Before Gayl could react the man flung the ax at him, impaling him in the shoulder. Despite the blow Gayl kept his feet and ground his teeth as he reached up with his left hand and began to pull the ax out. The man drew a sword and rushed Gayl. Gayl screamed as he ripped the ax out of his shoulder and swung it at the rushing opponent. The man stumbled backwards and avoided the blow. He then lunged foreward with his blade, just as Gayl was lunging with his sword in his right hand. The two skewerd eachother and fell to the ground. Gayl’s sword had gone through the mans chest while his blade had pierced Gayl’s stomach. His armor had taken some of the momentume away, but Gayl knew the wound was still fatal.

He lied there for a couple of minutes staring into the darkness. He grew colder as he fealt his blood flowing from his wounds. He let his eyes close as he waited to die. Then a voice shouted out in his head. “I don’t want to die here. Not is this disgusting dark place”. The thought spurred him into action and he pulled himself. His hand on his stomach he staggered towards the exit. He hopped that he Khristian and the child had gotten out during the fight and were now safe. Khristian was badly wounded by the hound though and he had no idea how far the man would get in the wilds. He couldn’t do anything more for them.

He found the way out and grinned at walking from a dark place towards a bright light to his death. He walked out and stood for a couple moments waiting for his eyes to adjust. Up ahead he saw a blurry green line that he asumed must be the surrounding woodlands. “There” he thought. “I’m an Elf, I will die in the woods”. He walked as far as he could into the woods, which wasn’t far considering his condition. The sewer entrance was still insight but it was as far as he could go. He let himself drop and felt contenet. He took a deep, painful breath and was glad to smell clean air before he died. He closed his eyes and waited. He felt so cold and tired. Then he saw a light forming and his pain slowly subsided as the light grew. He fealt warmth coming from the light as he floated towards it. This was it, the doorway to the afterlife. He didn’t venerate any particluar god when he was alive. Where would his soul go?

The light took on a humionid form and Gayl wondered if this was a diety or some celestial coming to claim his soul. The form became more detailed and Gayl was confused to see that it was a young human man. He was holding up what looked like the symbol for Cayden Cailean and there were other figures around him. The human took a sweet treat out of his mouth and spoke. “Don’t worry mate. You’re still with us,” and then winked at Gayl. Gayl saw the others around him were clothed in bright garish colors identifying them as Varisians. One of them was holding Gayl up and the others around him stared down in concern. Did he end up in a Varisian afterlife? He then saw Khristian standing amongst them and a young woman next to him nursing the child they had fought so hard to protect. “No, “he thought. “After all that and they didn’t make it”. The one holding him held a waterskin to his lips and he drank deep. It was the best thing he ever tasted. He put the skin down and continued to look around. He locked eyes with Khristian who was smiling with relief. Then it finally set in.

He was alive.

“Who…, where…, how?” he mumbed to Khristian failing to form his question.

“I ran into them on the trail near here,” Khristian explained. “Apparently they had been hiding in the city and had just now been able to sneak out”.

“How did you find me?” Gayl asked.

The priest of Cayden Cailean spoke up. “The trail of blood from the sewer’s kind of gave you away. I thought you elvest were suppose to be good at covering your tracks”.

An older man steped foreward and introduced hiself as Ali. He was the head of the troupe and his brother was the priest who had healed Khristian and Gayl. Gayl leaned back and took a moment to savor the sereinity. They were safe. The moment was short however as Gayl’s training reminded him that he had to report the attack to his supperiors in Kyonin. The attack happened last night, but it already fealt so long ago. Gayl got to his feet and addressed Ali. “We need to travel to Kyonin. If you head south and then…”

Ali held up his hands and shook his head. “Don’t worry. We know the way”.

The War for Kyonin Part 2

Three days had passed since the invasion began and for the most part their tricks had worked to draw the foes apart but now the humans were banding together in larger groups ignoring the small attacks. Word had reached Amaras via hawk that Navarre had smashed the army he faced and was making all haste to reach them but he feared they would not make it time. Already he had been forced to sacrifice three villages to the advancing army. “If they are busy looting and burning they are too busy to kill and hunt us.” He had snapped at his commanders when they questioned his choice. It had been a hard decision to make for it appear real some people had to remain behind and be slaughtered, but now the humans were bypassing the villages and were instead pushing on for the capital. With that knowledge Amaras had gathered all the remained of his forces, many among them were wounded to some degree or another. He looked out the faces that stood before him, elven, animal and even some fey who had jointed the fight, treants, fairies and pixies sat in the clearing watching him. Upon their faces were bleak looks, their losses had been high of the mages sent by his brother only two were still alive one badly wounded. He felt a heavy burden for the death of the young boy Alycot who had said would be safe, but when their band was trapped and overrun they had died to a man. The Blackwolfs sat nearby watching him, those few animals left standing and willing to fight with them. He stood before them now having to ask them to fight more to likely give up their lives, he was no commander, he was no leader but these people looked to him now for that guidance.

“It is said that it is darkest just before the dawn, and it is in that twilight we now find ourselves standing. We have all fought hard, we have all given everything we have to slow our foes but it is not enough. They are pushing on for the capital and if they make it they will slaughter everyone they find there. I know you are all tired and wounded but we must stand here, we must hold the line, every moment that we can delay them, ever second we can buy allows our King and his army to get that much closer to the capital to defend it. Let our faith sustain us In this hour when reason tells us that we cannot continue, that the whole of our whole lives is without meaning. “ he had once heard Miri say those words at a sermon she was holding. He had no idea what they meant but it seemed to give fire to those before him. “It is said that the future is always born in pain and suffering, That the history of war is the history of that pain and that suffering. If that is truth then let our deaths help guide our brothers and sisters to be wiser and let what is born from our pain and suffering to mature into the promise of a better world, of a better life for our people! Let them learn what we can no longer afford the mistakes of our past and let them forge a greater nation!” he threw one fist into the air and all the soilders followed suit letting out a cheer! The wolves threw back their heads and howled, while the great cats let loose roars or approval. “Each of you know your tasks, see them done and see them done well!” he yelled over the shouting and pointed to a large stone that thrust up from the earth in the clearing that they stood in. “Upon this rock we shall place the names of all who fought here, all who struggled so our nation could live that way none shall be forgotten, none shall be left behind ever again!” With that the warriors began to file by the druid who manned that rock using her magic to place each name upon it before vanishing into the forest to take their places.

Amaras and his warriors moved through the forest the sounds of battle ringing around them as his elves fought for their very lives against a superior foe. He bled from numerous sounds and of those who started the day beside him he had seen over half killed. Nil’sha limped along beside him wounded by a spear thrust in the last battle, the wielder of that spear had paid the final cost for his action. He had spent most of his spells already and things were looking bleak for his forces, so much so that he dispatched word that any who had family or chose should break and flee they would not be judged they would be not marked and his heart and both swelled and chilled when not a person had moved from their battle line. They had drawn their foes into a area of the forest where it formed several natural gullies and would keep them from brining their superior numbers against them. It was a war of attrition now and one they were fast loosing, they had been given a slight respite as the humans fell back to regroup and they were all taking what rest they could. A horn sounded from his scouts letting them their foes were advancing once more, pushing himself to his feet he readied the men near him. In but moments he heard the metal glad warriors then saw the swarming towards his line like ants. When they cloided it was the sound of thunder and in moments the fighting broke into mass chaotic melee of flashing weapons, screaming warriors and spraying blood. He was already coated in so much dried blood his clothes has stiffened and his arms felt like lead, he had lost count of how many he had slain and his mind was going numb. The humans could rotate out for fresher troops then the elves and that weariness was telling now as their line was being pushed back. It blamed that same weariness for failing to see the danger before hand, had it not been for a small sleek wolf who threw herself in the path of the blade he would likely have died. He saw her form as it dashed by him then the spray of blood and her death cry, he whirled around to face a man who was nearly a head taller than and broader across the chest then any dwarf he had ever met. The man was clad in heavy overlapping plates of metal and wielded a massive great sword with crackling runes of power on it. The man jerked the blade free and smiled a wicked smile at Amaras “I have been looking for you Beast Lord.” He said his voice bearing a strange accent. “I knew you were here and I prayed to the Living Gods I would get a chance to face you.” The melee spread around them like a living bubble as if the others were to fearful to get near the coming fight. Amaras took the moments respite to roll his neck and flex his arms “So you have found me Druchii” used the elven word for filth “No what will you do about it.”

The man laughed “Good to see you still have some fight left you boy, it will make this fun. Try to entertain me longer than a few moments.” With that he rushed in swinging the blade impossibly fast for something so large, Amaras didn’t have time to even dodge and the weapon slammed into him. Agony tore though his shoulder as the wicked blade tore deep into him, his magical protection hardly even slowing it. So strong was his foe he was thrown the ground, gritting his teeth he rolled at that man and swiped his claws out racking them over the solid metal protecting his shins. A power kick to side sent him spinning away and broke more than a few ribs, trying to catch his breath he noticed blood dripping from his mouth. He was spent, he could not fight this man, here he would die and he knew it. The man planted his sword and spat a globbet of spittle onto the injured druid “Hmpf. I had hoped for more from you but I guess that is why they call them legends huh? I hope your other family members pose more sport for me then you did…I can’t wait to see if the tales of your sisters prowess in the bed are true!”

Those words so easily said caused a flame to burst in his chest and he surged to his feet going for the man’s throat “I will see you dead before you touch my family!” he had taken his foe off guard and his claws store a deep bloody line across on cheek and scored his armor in several places. But the fury could not last and his foe was to canny to let it go on, hopping back the man slapped both of Amaras arms wide then struck fast plunging the massive blade into his stomach, he could feel the cold steel enter his body and all became a roaring white pain, jerking the weapon back his foe let him crumple to the ground like a wilted flower. The man was laughing and lifting his blade for the killing stroke and the world seemed to slow down for Amaras, he was dying he was sure of it. He felt great sadness at that thought, not so much for his death for all things die, they are dieing the day they are born his mother once told him. It was more that he had failed Navarre, his brother had always been there protecting him always shielding him when needed. This had been his once chance to shield Navarre for once, to protect his backside from the enemy and he had failed. He had failed Lorathron as well both had trusted him to hold the line to buy them time and now the enemy would win through. He didn’t even have a chance to say farewell to them and that stung him most of all. He watched the massive blade descend towards him and tears filled his eyes. Through the roaring of his heart he heard a sound a sound he heard before, the bang of a gun and then the man before him was thrown backwards in a spray of blood. Then there were streamers of magic flying through the air exploding in the enemy ranks, and booted feet, elven feet stampeding around him and he felt strong arms grab him and drag him back behind the line.

“Amaras! Brother!” he could hear the shouting of a voice and his eyes focused briefly upon the bloody face of Dekash and Navarre the later holding a smoking gun. “He is dying Navarre! I can barely feel his pulse as is!” the normally calm monk was nearly shouting in his fear for his sibling’s life. Navarre clamped one hand onto Amaras shoulder and gave him a grim smile “You held brother, you held and we are here now it is time to rest. Time to let me protect you and Kyonin again.” With that he was gone and darkness washed over him dragging him down in a place of oblivion.

He woke four days later in the palace his wounds had been treated as best they could but the magical blade that nearly took his life had vile magic that rebuffed healing magic. Nil’sha had been by his side the entire time never leaving and never allowing her vigil to slack, his found that his niece Miri’s daughter had also stayed by his side. When he woke she was there with him smiling and blotting his forehead clear, she had run quickly to fetch her mother who along with the rest of the family came to see him when give the chance. It was later in the day when the commander of the Way Watcher had come to him with the report of the battle they had fought; it was them who had been responsible for bringing Navarre’s forces as quickly as they could. Of the nearly three thousand elves who had followed him into battle only a few hundred had survived each of them selling their lives dearly.

“They are going to turn the Stone into a memorial for them Warden.” Said the young elf as he sat near his master. “All my life…I have been responsible only for myself Kalon. When I risk, I risked alone to avoid make any others pay for my mistakes or my choices. They followed me, they chose to have me guide them and I failed them.”

The young Way Watcher shook his head “You didn’t fail anyone Warden, you did only what had to be done. The universe spoke to you and you answered that call. “

Amaras looked at the man “I don’t understand Kalon, I heard no voice, I heard nothing speak to me or guide me onto this path I chose. All I heard was the death of our people, the wailing of mothers who lost their sons and daughters, the weeping of the forest for the lost souls.”

“Then you did not listen well enough Warden, The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Elven, or human or dwarven or goblin or aquan. It speaks in the language of hope. It speaks in the language of trust. It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, always it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us and the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small voice that says ‘We are one. No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the time. We are one. No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear….We are one’ Each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light our way to a better future. A future that we will find because of men like you Warden, men who are willing to give everything to see that future born, to see that future arrive full of life and of hope. “ he placed his hang gently on Amaras shoulder and squeezed gently. “Without you or your family we would be lost in the darkness stumbling around hoping to find the light. Each of you has acted as that light and though it make seem so dark and so bleak now you will one day help guide us into that light. Rest now my Warden, rest and let others take up the tasks for now.”

The war for Kyonin Part 1

Amaras stood just inside tree line staring across the open land just south of Xer, the area was full of troops from Razmir mustering for their attack upon his home. Their General was no full and even Navarre had grudgingly admitted as much when their plan of attack became apparent. They split their forces each half moving east and west of Xer where they would attack the forest from, it forced Kynoin to split their forces as well. This was bad for they were outnumbered nearly three to one by the humans but then they would be fighting in the forest on their own terms. Many of the council had cried against this action of allowing them to enter, but it was Amaras’s arguments that swayed his brothers to agree. In open battle they would be slaughtered but in the forest they could force the humans to break apart their troops in to smaller groups easier to handle by the depleted and inexperience warriors Navarre commanded. The larger force of humans would attack to the west and would push south to Greengold so Navarre and most the family was there helping him anchor that front it would be the most hard fought area so only a small amount to troops were sent to defend the eastern half of the forest. That is where Amaras was with Drekoth and both of his sisters daughters along with close to two thousand elven troops and another thousand volunteers and militia. It was also where the Conclave of the Green had been placed; Navarre had cautioned him from being reckless. “You don’t need to hold the line Brother simply delay them as long as you can, once we have broken them in the west we will come as quickly as we can.” Were his words upon their parting.

Amaras new his brother feared his anger of old but that was a thing of the past and now he thought more clearly than ever, he had arrived a day before his foes and quickly began building defenses in the area. They had convinced many of the trees along the boards to allow them to change them much like those in the Tangled Woods. Their branches were now twisted and razor sharp they would scythe through armor and make the going slow. They had also convinced a great many of the forests predators to assist in the battle as well, great lumbering bears, sleek forest cats and majestic wolves prowled the forest waiting on their commands. Near him stood his brother and his nieces along with Alycot a younger apprentice mage Palanon had lent him along with four of his breather. The boy was nervous and wringing his hands staring out the armored force they faced, forming up into large blocks they could see a host of crossbow armed warriors, pike and spear men along with blocks of armored warriors wielding great weapons. There were no cavalry here as they would be useless in the forest, they had moved west to use the plains. They would attack soon which mean they had to put their plans into action how he reached out a hand to steady the young boy “Do not fear Alycot the warriors will not allow harm to befall you, just make you and yours stick to the plan we outlined.” The boy tried to speak but his voice cracked so he settled for a nod. “Many will die this day.” Came the calm words from Drekoth, it was well known he disagree with his younger brothers plan but Amaras would not take his bait. He simply watched the forces arrayed against him, he could see priests moving among the soldiers casting spells of protections and blessing upon them. “They will have died defending their homes and they can rest easy in that knowledge.” Came his replay.

“I will never understand these things” said the elder elf watching as the others prepared for the fight. “All life, every single life is born from the same place. We do not understand politics, policies and differences, given time we all grow foolish and we forget where we all came from. We give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend our light is better than everyone else’s. We need something to remind us that life is precious, and each of us is unique. When our light goes out it’s gone forever and never will there be another quite like it again.” He sighed as he looked out at the gathering army before them “So many candles will go out this day that I wonder if we will ever be able to see anything again.”

Amaras paused his brothers deep words striking some core inside of him, he started to move away to take up his position when he paused and looked back. “When mother vanished I hated you for not being there, for not looking for her with me. I always thought that you didn’t care that you didn’t love her as I did. I see now that I wrong brother, I see now that in some ways you loved her more than me and you understood her in more ways than I ever could.” With that he started off into the forest to find his place in the coming battle. “She would have been proud of your Amaras. You have grown as a man and you walked your own path to get there.” The words were said but not loud enough for his little brother to hear them.

Amaras found the other druids he had assembled and they began to encant their own spells, unlike others a Druids power often effected only themselves or a single person but it was potent magic to that end he had ordered them prepare only a few spells of protection and these were given to those warriors taking the greatest risk. The rest of their magic would be used to call down the wrath of nature upon their foes, when done he lifted a horn to lips and blew a single clarion note. Those Razmirrans not in formation scrabbled at the sound sure a attack was coming and they would not disappoint them. From the western edge of the forest burst forth some of the Glade Guard mounted on their great elk steeds, they churned the ground up as they rushed along the front of the opposing army their short recurve bows singing as they fired arrow after arrow at their foes. Only a few found their marks and where they did a human would fall screaming in pain, but their goal was not mean to kill it was mean to anger. Startled by the small attack force the Razmiirans quickly tried to respond by firing a volley of return shots which mostly fell short of the swift running stags who veered off towards the forest edge where they halted and two of their riders spread out a massive banner. Upon it were scrawled several sentences discussing the Razmiirans living gods and their preference of goats to young buxom maids.

Engaged the priests ordered their forces forward and they began to march their bowmen began to fire volleys of arrows into the forest. They would hit nothing but they didn’t know that and in made them feel secure. The elves fell back deeper into the forest behind the tangled trees and prepared to fire their own bows in return, they waited till the enemy was just meters from the forest edge and they let loose a hail of black fletched arrows. Unlike humans they did not fire into the air hoping to drop someone they picked their targets carefully each arrow had to count. The first rank of warriors were cut down by the deadly shafts and those that took their places returned the shots a elf to Amaras’s left screamed and fell from his perch looking like some obscene porcupine, a few others fell as well and Amaras called the retreat, he fell back leaving less than a dozen dead elves and over five times that of humans. With the elven fire ceasing the humans rushed the forest hoping to catch them in retreating the elves made sure they could be seen to lure their foes in deeper. When the first humans hit the tangled trees they let out scream of agony as their flesh was torn and ripped. At that point the elves put into action their plan, it was a simple one they were to harry the human forces and draw them apart scattering across the forest and using speed to attack. The druids used their magic to great effect slowing down the advance or blasting apart armored knights with balls of lighting or flows of molten rock. The Black Wolf pack led lighting strikes upon stragglers while Amaras led his own troops in similar actions. Each battle saw more of their foes fall but so to did elves, they drug the humans across the forest separating them and fighting not as a whole but as smaller groups. It could not last he knew it they all did, but they had to keep going try to keep their foes off balance.

Towards the Dawn

The demon let out as shriek of pain as its body melted away into a foul black gas, its tortured and twisted soul sent back to the hell it came from. Black ichor dripped from Amaras’ long claws and he took a moment to survey the clearing for any more threats. The area was littered with the smashed and torn bodies of some undead and the black blood of the devils he had ambushed here. A shriek tore through the forest to his left and a moment later the massive form of Nil’sha appeared in the shadows her deep rumbling growl letting him know the prey she hunted was dead. He smiled and pointed ahead and took off running through the forest once more, it felt good to be among the living green again after so long trapped in the darkness. The air was sweet and fresh, the trees sang his name and praised him for the slaying he was doing. The ground was soft under his feet as he bounded across it hunting for more devils or undead to put down. Despite the massive magic his father had called upon to smash the invading army many had still escaped after the battle with the Death Knight and had fled into the forest, many were heading back to Tree Razers domain but some had scattered to other parts of the forest and so he took it upon himself to put them down. It was the least he could to repent for some of the evil he had done so far in his life, he paused near a small clearing sniffing the air for any hints of a foe nearby.

“You will not find them here” came a slight musical voice that sounded loudly near his ear, without moving too fast he glanced to his right and saw a tiny winged humanoid figure hovering not far from his head. The small fairy was nude save for her long flowing brown hair her face bore a wide smile upon it as she pointed downstream. “They went that way not long ago and they were nasty brutes.” She said with a pout on her lips. Amaras smiled at the tiny figure “And you are offering this to me for nothing in return small one?” the fairy crossed her arms and gave him a stern look “They destroyed my stuff while I was bathing…..besides I know you will hunt them down and make them pay. It is what you have been doing for the past several days.” She said as if that were clearly obvious to any around. “You are Amaras the forest walker right?” she said. He nodded having never heard that title added to his name before. He had encountered fey before but none ever seemed to wish to talk or be helpful without getting something in return. He reached into a pouch and pulled out the small cloth he had used to wrap some waybread in, using his claws he cut some away and sliced a small hole in the middle. Next he pulled small bit of fishing line from another pouch and cut it as well and handed both to the fairy. “You are correct in guessing who I am and for your help I offer you something to protect your modesty with.” She snatched the offered gift and struggled into it quickly and tied if off. “I guess this will do” she said with a sniff at the cloth before looking at him once more “Well shouldn’t you be off?” with a nod and a smile he set off down the stream, it was not hard to pick up the devil’s trail as they left a thing coating of slime along the ground. He could feel Nil’sha in the woods near him creeping along, after nearly a hour of tracking them he picked up their scent a mix of burned wood and rotting fruit, he moved more slowly this time as he neared another small clearing and could hear guttural voices. Moving forward he parted a pair of fronds and took in the scene before him. The clearing was not large, maybe twenty or thirty paces across at the widest, in its center squatted a pair of devils. They were hunched over the bloody remains of something arguing, the one he could clearly see had a wide mouth filled with wicked teeth and its mouth surrounded by a long writhing beard. Both were glad in bronze breast, leg and arm plates while a pair of wicked saw tooth glaives rested near them. He sniffed the air once more to ensure what he saw was the only thing there and he picked up another scent, something very faint that hung in the air over the clearing, something cloaked in magic no doubt to hide from sight. He slid back from the clearing and began to chant a simple spell of protection, rubbing a oak leaf over his body saw his flesh turn as hard as bark, not far away Nil’sha’s flesh did the same their mystical bond allowing them to share in his magic. A few more spells followed that would enhance the pair for combating these fiends, using that same connection he spoke mind to mind with the great cat. There is another above the clearing hiding, wait for it to appear and attack it. when Nil’sha responded to him her message was laced with concern but he knew she would do as he asked. With that he stood up and walked boldly into the clearing, the devils leaped up and snatched up their weapons glaring at him. Both were wary and glanced around the clearing, surely no single elf would challenge them in such a way. “I am Amaras Edassarial prince of Kyonin Forest and protector of its woods. You are not welcome here and I give you once chance to leave before I send you screaming back to hell.” Realizing he was alone the two devils smiled and laughed moving to circle him. “Your flesh will taste sweet to us!” cackled one “I will relish cracking your bones and sucking forth your marrow!” growled the other as the prepared to close in. With magically enhanced reflexes he threw himself at the one on the left getting under its guard and raking his claws along its exposed belly. Hot blood sprayed out and the creature yelped in pain bring its heavy weapon down in an attempt to stave in his skull with the handle but it’s target was gone before it even realized it was there. “Fool!” snapped the other in anger “can’t you kill a single elf!” then its words turned to a shriek of pain as Amaras dashed past it slashing its leg. Not bothering to slow he ran a few more paces and bounced off a tree throwing himself back at the devil. It had whirled around and brought its weapon in at him, he didn’t even try to avoid the blow as it slammed him the wicked teeth trying to tear though his magically hardened skin. With a snarl the creature jerked the weapon towards itself and blood splashed down Amaras side and pain skipped through him, the wound was not bad but he howled as it were mortal and fell the ground in a heap. Chortling with evil glee the devil rushed forward and reached out with one long arm to clamp its hand on his shoulder and jerked him upright and licked its lips preparing to sink its teeth into him. It was therefore terribly surprised when it was Amaras who lunged forward and sank his teeth into its shoulder, his long panther like fangs sinking nearly to the creatures bones. Letting go of him and stumbling back the bearded devil roared as it tried to claw him free, its wicked beard also tearing at him trying to dislodge him. That is when it realized is greatest mistake, letting him get a hold as Amaras slashed his long wicked claws down the creatures chest in frenzy spraying hot stinking blood everywhere. Falling onto the ground the pair began to roll around the devil desperate to dislodge the savage elf, screaming for aid from its companion who could only stand and stare as its ally’s guts were ripped from its body. In moments it was over and the devil was melting into a puddle of black sludge, while a blood covered Amaras stood up smiling at the other. That is when the third attacked, a long white rope appeared from nowhere wrapping itself around the elf several times entangling him and sending him to the ground. The attack forced the feathered winged female devil to appear in the area holding the other end of that magical rope she smiled cruelly down at him. “Finish him Grez and do it slowly.” She said and that is when from the trees exploded a patch of utter darkness split by a pair of shining emerald eyes. The Erinyes had a moment to scream before nearly three hundred pounds of muscle and fury took her out of the clearing and into the trees beyond, her screams filling the air. The bearded devil Grez watched it all with awe then as most devils do he figured whatever had taken her would be distracted long enough to slay the entangled elf surely. Looking back where that elf had been there was nothing but a loose rope and some small terran creature with a twitching nose. “Whaa….where did he go” he asked looking around, he looked back at the small creature and was shocked when its body suddenly blurred and began to rapidly grow into a large feline shape with a strangely elvish face on it with a long tail that ended in a bulb of spikes lashed behind it. Then its world was nothing but flashing claws, blood and tawny fur.

The sun had long set and Amaras was reclining near a small fire he had built to cook his dinner upon, the day had been a fruitful one and he hunted down many enemies of his home and sent them back to where they belonged. He was not fooling himself into thinking he was making much of a difference in anyway, the war with Tree Razer was far from over. Nil’sha who laid not far from him let out a soft growl which instantly put him on guard, he sniffed the air and detected the scent of someone and they were heading towards his camp. The scent was soft and was that of a female and some part of his brain teased him with the knowledge he should know who it belonged to. He didn’t shift his position in any way that would let on his was ready to spring at a moment’s notice to the casual observer. A bit later a slender elf women glad in a sturdy leather armor, with a brown weather cloak wrapped around herself stepped out of the woods. Her long honey blond hair was held back in a pony tail and she was leaning heavily on a wooden staff, her clothes were torn and bloody in spots and the coppery scent tickled his nose. He could also pick up that two others were just off to his right as well; both of them were trying to creep closer. “Hail and well met is what I believe you are supposed to call out before you approach the camp.” He said with a smile, the girl was watching him and she quiet clearly knew who he was “and you should introduce yourself as well since it is impolite to hold such an advantage over me by knowing who I am and me not knowing you. Also it is polite and I would say much safer for your friends to simply walk into camp. Nil’sha does not like surprises they put her in a awful mood.” The other two halted their creeping and instead pushed forward from the forest they; were in about as good as shape as the lady was. They both carried naked blades which they quickly sheathed when they saw Nil’sha gaze lazily up at them and yawn exposing a mouth full of teeth that could crush their heads in single bite.

The women moved towards the fire and took a seat across from him and never once did she break eye contact and she wore a puzzled expression. “You were far more hansom the last time I saw you and not so old looking.” She replied causing both of her companions to gasp in shock. Amaras simply laughed at the comment and laughed even harder when she followed it up with “You could have told me you were so old the last time we met.” She was not amused by his laughing and made that apparent when she reached across the fire with her staff and smacked him hard on the shoulder. “Again milday you hold me at a disadvantage for I can’t recall when we last met nor your name or that of your friends if I too met them.”

“Well you never met them that one there is Elinder Shastas” she pointed to the man on the left who could have been no more than ninety winters and had a shock of flaming red hair. “The other is Hircul Landover” the other boy looked to be a bit older and his brown hair was plated in the style of the dwarfs Amaras had knew. “And I am Milendai Celindiar she announced with a grand flourish “We meet during the Battle at Golden Oak, you saved my life from the creatures that attacked. You don’t recall me at all?” He could only vaguely recall her as the Beast though gone had taken a great many of his memories with it. He shook his head and offered her apologizes “I remember very little of the past years I fear…old age you could say.” He laughed as did the others “So now that you have introduced yourselves I shall do the same. I am Amaras Edassarial son of-“ his word were cut off by gasps from the other two elves who quickly fell into babbling. “You’re a hero!” one shouted “A Legend! They said you fought the Green Hag.” Shot Hircul, “You also brokered peace with the dwarfs!” shot the other. It was Milendai who cut them both off “Leave him be both of you, can’t you see he is tired.” Amaras smiled and bid the trio to eat from his catch as he used his healing magic to sooth the worst of their injuries. They quickly caught him up on all that had occurred while he was gone. The tail was long and winding and filled with great sadness and misery and well as great heroics and sacrifices.

“So they call it the Sundering” he stated later that night as the three sat around the fire, he could tell they were fearful of the forest and who could blame them. “They also said that you betrayed the Conclave.,..you were not there when they needed you.” Replied Milendai “They suffered so much in the fight with the Blight Druids and then the invasion.” Amaras looked away his heart was heavy with the guilt, he had been needed and he was not there, but what was worst was the knowledge that this whole mess was his families doing. That was a secret they could never let out now, it would destroy any attempt they had to pulled the nation together. “So your brother will be king now?” asked Hircul. “We need a warrior to be king not another wizard, we need someone who knows war and warfare, who knows pain and hardships.”

A deep growl rumbled from Nil’sha’s throat and Amaras’s as well “Do not think to presume you know even a small taste of the misery and pain my brothers and sisters have suffered. We all have given so much of ourselves, sacrificed so much for this nation and its people, and we are willing to give even more! My brother will be a fine king, for he has all of us backing him up as he always had. Together we are strong and unbreakable it will be our foes who find themselves rushing for their dark holes and crying and weeping for their lost!” he threw himself back to the ground when he realized he had stood up at some point, he rained his anger in far easier than he ever had in the past years. He let out a sigh and looked at the others around his camp “Our eldest are gone true, our allies have abandoned us in our time of need but that does not mean we are beaten. We are young and strong in spirit and we will recover from his, you said that there are others like you who want to fight who want to make a difference.” The group nodded “Then coming morning I will guide you back to the safer areas of the forest. You will gather these people together and bring them all to the Tree of Memories and there we will forge ourselves a new. We will become not only our homes Blade but her Shield and we will take this war back to our foes!” All three let out a cheer and even Nil’sha coughed in her agreement, not far from the firelight sitting on a branch nearby sat the small fairy he had helped. She was watching intently the conversation going on in the clearing. The elves were not the only ones who had suffered in the sundering, the invasion by Tree Razer had seen so many of her friends twisted to evil. So many fairy and mushroom rings were lost their magic taken over. Her own queen was furious but could do so little to fight their aggressors but this one; this one might be able to help. He reminded her so much of the old elf druid Aerandir Telrunya who had lived once in the forest so long ago. She stared intently at the man and swore she could see some shared features there, that would help in a way for the Queen had loved the old druid once and still had a soft spot for him. Had she not been the one see his wishes held true…to claim and hold his ancient weapons for when they were needed once more? Surely this was what the old druid had meant. “When the darkest hour comes for Kyonin and its entire people you must find one whose light shines in that darkness. To that one you shall gift my treasures to so they can fight as I once did. And just as happened to me, when that one falls you shall claim them and my gifts and return them to the forest once more.”

She nodded once to herself, yes this was the one, the one to take up the mantle of old and fight again in the name of the forest. Now she just had to convince the queen of that same conviction and get her to release her wards to him.

The Gunslinger (Part IV)

The darkness enveloped them as they descended into sewers under the city. Even Gayl’s elven eyes could not pierce the blackness. He had never been in a cave before, but he imagined that this is what it must be like. Despite the darkness, he knew that there were miles of small tunnels filled with hundreds of creatures skittering about. How could dwarve’s live like this? A shudder ran through him as he imagined living his entire life in such an environment. The smell was overbearing. Due to the drought there was very little water running through the sewers. The filth of the city flowed in small condensed streams that were nearly gelatinous. Gayl gagged and fought hard not to throw up as the scent assaulted him. Behind him he heard Khristian retching up and the baby crying as the smell hit them. After a few moments of fumbling around in the dark Gayl cursed in frustration. This was a stupid idea. They had no idea where they were going and couldn’t see. He supposed he could climb back up top and retrieve a piece of burning wreckage while hoping not to be seen. He began to make his way back to the ladder when he was blinded by a burst of bright light. His eyes adjusted and he saw Khristian’s sigil of Sarenrae radiating with holy light. “I didn’t know you were a priest” Gayl asked?

“Before I found Sarenrae’s light I walked a dark path. Her teachings saved me and I now wish to serve her in return. To devote yourself fully to your gods service is the greatest commitment one can make. “ A smile grew on Khristians face as if recalling a fond memory. “ Mirrianna Edasseril told me that”.

“You knew Mirrianna Edasseril?” Gayl asked somewhat shocked.

“Yes. She’s the one that recommended me for my position in Seven Arches. After she disappeared, her daughter, Coreena, approached me with very important mission.”

“What was the mission?”

Khristian lifted the baby into the light. “To protect her daughter”.

Gayl’s gaze fell to the child as Khristian’s words settled in. This baby was the great grand daughter of Lord Cadalon Edasseril. He became somewhat light headed as he considered the sequence of events and coincidences that lead him to this situation. Chosen and trained by Nevarre Edasseril he now found himself helping guard the child of Nevarre’s niece Coreena. Gayl shook his head and brought his thoughts back to the present. “Why did she leave her daughter with you?”

“Apparently the child is being hunted by a dangerous enemy. Also with all the recent disasters in Kyonin, Coreena felt the child would be safer hidden with someone trustworthy.” Khristian’s gaze dropped and he suddenly looked very forlorn. He held the screaming child close to him. “Turns out she made a poor choice”.

Gayl put his hand on Khristian’s shoulder. “Hey. We made this far and were safe for now. Do you know a way out of town through these sewers?” Khristian shook his head. Gayl took a deep breath and then immediately regretted it as he gagged on the stench. “Lets carry on then”. He turned and they began to head deeper into the sewers.

They hadn’t gone far but already it seemed like they had been wandering the sewer for hours. Every corridor looked the same and every turn seemed to be leading them in circles. Despite Khristian’s attempts to soothe her, the baby hadn’t stopped crying since they had descended into the sewer. Her screams echoed off the walls and was grinding Gayl’s nerves. Finally he spun around and yelled at Khristian “Is there anything you can do to shut her up”!

“What do you want me to do? Smother her?”

Gayl wrung his hands through his hair and growled in frustration. The rush he felt during the attack was wearing off and he was tired and sore. Khristian seemed to notice and recommend they sit and rest for a moment. Gayl agreed and lied back against the wall. They had been moving non stop since the attack and he now noticed how much his feet ached. After resting for a moment the baby’s screams subsided into low hoarse grumblings. Gayl took a moment to enjoy the silence when heard it. He jumped up and drew his pistol and began scanning their surroundings. Khristian asked what was wrong, but Gayl shushed him. He was sure he heard something. Didn’t he? His elven eyes could see much better then Khristian’s in the darkness, but all he saw was empty corridors. He had seen tons of rats and other small vermin down here but nothing dangerous. That’s when he noticed the absence of these creatures all of a sudden. From his life in the woods he knew that this was a sure sign of a predator near by. He cocked the hammer on his pistol, the click echoing down into the darkness. Several minutes went by and nothing. “I think it’s safe,” Khristian offered. “We should get moving”.

“Yeah, I think your rig….

It shot out of the darkness like lightning.

Gayl fired off a wild shot and hit the creature in the shoulder before it was on top of him. It wrapped its arms around him and bit down into his shoulder. He screamed in agony as his bones cracked and the creatures teeth tore through his skin. He could feel its saliva flowing into his wound and mixing with his blood as he fought not to pass out.

Khristian jumped on the creatures back and stabbed it several times with a small dagger from his belt. The creature screamed and threw Gayl to the floor as it turned towards Khristian. Gayl hit the ground and a jolt of pain shot throughout his body. Khristian was trying desperately to hold the creature at bay but Gayl knew he had to act fast before it tore Khristian to shreds. He gritted his teeth and drew his sword while pulling himself up. He wasn’t finished yet.

He jumped onto the creature while driving his sword deep into its back. The creature screamed and began to thrash, but Gayl held onto the blade. The creature began slamming its back against the wall trying to dislodge Gayl. Each slam sent a jolt of pain though Gayl so intense he would see a flash of light in his vision. He knew he couldn’t keep this up. He tried to think, but all he could focus on was holding on. The creature slammed him again and he heard his powder horn crack against the wall. He reached down and grabbed the horn and dumped the remainder of its contents on the creatures face. It thrashed wildly as the powder got into its nose and burned its eyes. Gayl dropped the horn and pulled out the gun he fired. He cocked the hammer and jammed the gun into the creatures fur and pulled the trigger. The spark ignited the powder and Gayl jumped off as the creature roared in agony. Gayl hit the ground hard but quickly began to roll around putting out the flames on him. The creature screamed more as the rest of the hair on its body caught fire and soon it was fully engulfed. It shot down the hall and ran for several yards before it tripped and fell. It didn’t get up.

Gayl laid on the ground for a moment. His vision was blurring and he felt very cold and tired. Then he felt Khristian’s hands on him and heard him chanting a prayer. Suddenly warmth coursed through Gayl’s body and he could actually feel his bones and flesh mending. His vision returned and the agony of his wounds were gone, though he still felt sore as hell. Khristian helped him up and dusted him off. Gayl thanked him and began to collect his things as Khristian picked up the baby where he set her down. Gayl collected as much powder as he could off the ground but most of it was burned up in the fire. He was only able to get enough for one more shot. That along with the loaded gun from his friend Serrus left him with only two shots and no reload. Things were not looking up.

They slowly walked over to the corpse of the burning creature. It’s flaming body stood out like a miniature sun in the dark hallway and the smell of its burning flesh was actually worst the scent of the sewer. Gayl slowly bent down to examine it closer. It had a long tail and had an animal like snout that ended with two giant incisors. “What is this? Some kind of king dire rat?” Gayl asked. Khrisitian was silent for a moment. The baby thankfully was passed out (probably due to shock). “We had heard rumors about them,” he finally said. Gayl rose and turned to him questioningly.

“When the Edasseril’s activated one of the arches, it imbued the local forest and animals with a powerful primal energy. That’s why sections of the woods were off limits. We had been hearing reports of these animals coming closer and closer to the city. We didn’t believe the power was strong enough to reach all the way down here.”

Gayl had heard about the woods, but the fact that more of these creatures might be running around down here made him want to take his chances with the army up top. He turned to continue on when he suddenly became very dizzy. Khristian caught him and asked what was wrong.

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel that well”. He put his hand to his head and realized he was sweating.

Khristian put his hand on Gayl’s head and looked very concerned. “You have a fever?!” His gaze dropped to the rat creature and back to Gayl and he now looked very frightened. “I think you’ve been afflicted”.

“I thought you healed me?” Gayl responded.

“My prayers knitted your wounds, but to remove a contagion requires much more powerful spells. Here sit down.”

Khristian helped Gayl down and began to treat his wound. He pulled some ointment from his bag and rubbed it on Gayl’s scar. He then sprinkled some holy water on the area while saying some prayers. “I’m sorry, but that’s all I can do”.

Gayl was feeling horrible now. He was hot and sweating profusely. He looked up and saw the frightened look on Khristian’s face and smiled. “It’s okay. I’m actually feeling a little better now. You must be more blessed then you thought”.

Khristian still looked concerned. “I think we should rest here. You shouldn’t move in your condition and the baby could use some rest”. Gayl wasn’t about to argue, especially considering how tired Khristian was looking. “You rest while I take watch,” Khristian suggested.

Gayl smiled and responded, “I’m an elf. We do not sleep, remember. I’ll take first watch”. Khristian was about to argue but Gayl raised his hand to quite him. Khristian rubbed his eyes, sighed and settled down next to the child. He was fast asleep in moments.

Galy shifted to make himself more comfortable and turned his attention to his surroundings. He felt like hell and wanted nothing more then to curl up and die. He turned and gazed at Khristian and baby, sleeping contently despite everything that had happened. He sighed and turned back to the sewers. He cocked his gun and settled in for what was to be a long and uncomfortable watch.

The Gunslinger (Part III)

Gayl looked out the window at the burning city. They had tried to retreat after the initial attack but found that the city had been surrounded. Sevenarches was under siege and there was no was to escape. Sevenarches lay within the River Kingdoms and was no stranger to attack, however the disasters that had struck after the Sundering had weakened them and they were caught unaware. Once they learned they could not leave the city, Darius ordered everyone to the center of town to try and build up their defenses. He ordered Gayl to stand guard at the town hall and watch over the city officials. This is where he was now, staring out the window at the top level of the hall. The town Treasurer, Magistrate and Seneschal were all under his care. The town’s leader, Lady Dekash, refused to stay and marched off to fight at the front lines. Her assistant, Khristian Montian, stayed however and was caring for a baby that Gayl did not recognize.

Gayl turned away from the window and looked at the men in the room. With the exception of Khristian, who was busy trying to keep the child calm, they all looked scared and tired. Gayl realized that he was as well. Now that he had some time to calm down, the weight of the situation was sinking in. What were they going to do? He had seen a fraction of the forces that moved against them and he knew they were doomed. He turned back to the window and gazed out. He didn’t want to be here babysitting the officials. He wanted to be out there fighting with the others. He realized that this bothered him more then his eventually death. That and the waiting. What was going on out there? He began to pace around the room running his hands through his hair.

A moment later he heard the doors to the hall fly open and the sound of running footsteps. The men in the room jumped up and Gayl and another guard named Borin drew their weapons and moved to the stairway. They recognized the man running up as one of the guards and they let him pass. The boy was young, a mere youth. He stopped at the top and was breathing heavily, his face covered in sweat. Gayl helped him over to the chair by the window to help him catch his breath. After a moment he turned to them and announced that the attacking forces had broken through their barricades and that Lady Dekash had fallen in battle. The news hit them hard and no one in the room spoke for several minutes. Finally Gayl spoke up and asked the messenger what they were ordered to do. The messenger told them that Darius was retreating back to the center of town and that they should remain put and….

He was cut short as his head was struck by a bolt and exploded. Gayl was splattered with gore and stood frozen. There was a startled cries from everyone in the room and the baby began to cry. Gayl gazed down at the fallen corpse of the boy at his feet. He gritted his teeth as rage began to replace shock. He let out a roar and rushed to the window. He pointed his gun down at the street and fired and then picked up a basin from the table next to the window and threw down at the street as well. He knew he didn’t hit anyone but didn’t know what else to do. The sounds of fighting below brought him to his senses. He wiped the blood from his face and began to reload his gun as he and Borin walked to the stairway. He gazed down and saw two men charging up the stairs. He turned away from the stairway and put his back to the corner. Gayl took a deep breath and raised his gun. He spun back around firing and then lept down the stairway.

The first man running up the stairs was struck dead by Gayls shot and the other stood frozen in surprise as Gayl flew down at him. Gayl struck the man hard and they both rolled down the stairs. Gayl ended up on top of the man when they reached the bottom. He punched him hard in the jaw and knocked him out. Before Gaylcould get up another attacker jumped on top of him, driving a blade into Gayl’s side. Gayl’s armor deflected the blow but the man grabbed Galy’s throat and began to strangle him. Gayl tried pushing the man away while he also grabbed the mans other arm that carried the blade. The attacker was much stronger then he was however, and Gayl felt himself blacking out. The attacker cried out as an arrow bolt struck him in the back. Gayl rolled his dead body off of him. He looked up and saw Borin coming down the stairs while re-notching. They looked outside and saw the remaining guards fighting outside the door. Borin let out a cry and ran forward into the fray. Gayl began to follow when a hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned and saw Khristian Montain holding him back while still carrying the crying baby.

“We need to get out of here” he said.

“We were ordered to stay,” Gayl responded and turned to head out the door, but Khristian held on to him.

“You know that if you head out there you’ll be killed and we’ll soon follow”.

“We were ordered to remain here,” Gayl snapped back and pulled his arm away from Khristian.

Khristian’s eyes narrowed with determination. “You were also ordered to defend us. I was Lady Dekash’s assistant which puts me in charge now that she has fallen. I’m leaving, and if you want to protect me you’ll have to follow”. He turned around and marched down the hall towards the back door. Gayl looked back towards the front door and then grunted in frustration and turned to follow Khristian. Gayl gazed cautiously around as he opened the door, but no attackers were in sight. Khristian was already half way down the ally, apparently unconcerned about being attacked. Gayl caught up to him and grabbed his arm and spun him around. “What about the others?” he asked.

“They wanted to stay and arrange a surrender but you and I both know that they would just be killed”.

“How do you know?” Gayl responded. “The town is surrounded! There’s no way out! The only way were going to live through this is if we try and…”

The top of the town hall erupted in flames and drowned out the rest of Gayl’s response.

The baby was crying louder and Khristian looked up in shock. Gayl rushed down the ally and peaked around the corner. The rest of the guard, including Darius, laid dead on the street. A man stood chanting in the center of the street surrounded by several of the attackers. Gayl watched as the man pointed his finger and shot a red bead into a building. The building erupted in flames just like the hall. Gayl turned and rushed back to Khristian knowing there was nothing more he could do.

“Where can we go?” Gayl asked.

Khristian thought for a moment and then responded “The sewers under the town. Some of them lead far downstream and they might not have them guarded”. They both knew it was a long shot, but it was their only chance. They turned to leave but stopped dead as they faced two attackers coming down the end of the ally. One was a dwarven woman with a crossbow and the other was human man armed with a long sword. The dwarf let out a scream and fired her crossbow at Khristian while the human rushed towards Gayl. Khristian turned around to shield the baby and cried out as he took the bolt in the shoulder. Gayl shot the dwarf in the head and drew his sword as the human slashed at him. Gayl parried the slash and then kicked the man in the groin. He flipped his gun around and cracked the man on the back of the head as he was bending over. He fell unconscious at Gayl’s feet. Gayl rushed over and to Khristian. Khristian was breathing heavily and was trying to staunch to flow of blood from his shoulder. He handed the child to Gayl who held her awkwardly with his weapons still in his hands. Khristian gritted his teeth to keep from screaming as he removed the bolt. Gayl watched as Khristian put his hands on his bleeding shoulder and began to pray. A faint white light emanated from from Khristian’s hands and the blood stopped flowing. He took the baby back from Gayl and they both turned and headed off.

They crept as silently as they could. Thankfully the baby fallen to sleep, too overwhelmed and tired of crying out. They weren’t discovered when they reached one of the portals that lead down into the sewers. They climbed down and covered to portal after them, leaving the burning city for the unknown darkness below.

The Gunslinger (Part II)

Gayl was enjoying the warm night in Seven Arches. He had been transferred here a couple of months ago after completing the gunman training under Navarre Edasseril. Lord Edasseril had wanted them transferred to different positions throughout Kyonin and its territories to help integrate his new weapon throughout the kingdom. Gayl and another student named Serrus had been assigned to town guard duty and transferred to Seven Arches. Gayl was glad he wasn’t serving on the boarder of the Tanglebriar. After training with Lord Edasseril he had become comfortable with his gun but still didn’t want to get into life or death combat with one.

When he and Serrus arrived they were taken aside by the head of the guard Darius Carpenter. Unlike the other guards who treated them and their weapons as curiosities, Darius treated them with respect and taught them the ropes of being a guard. Most importantly he taught them that a town guards job was to make sure nothing bad happened to the people, not to look for trouble and crack skulls. Gayl took this to heart and drew his weapon only once during his first month. A drunk had started a brawl at one of the taverns and when Gayl tried to restore order he was rushed by several men. He yelled a warning and drew his pistol and shot at one of the signs above the bar. After seeing the sign blown to pieces the men quickly backed off. Gayl was thankful they didn’t know he could only shoot once. After that night, word spread about the guns him and Serrus wore and all they had to do was reach for them and people backed off. Even the other guards were warming up to them and even asked to try out the guns during target practice. Everything was going easy and Gayl was starting to enjoy his placement.

That all changed with the Sundering.

Gayl will never forget that day. He was eating lunch with Serrus when it hit them. At first he thought he was having a heart attack and was about to die. Then he realized he wasn’t in pain, but he was cold and felt as if some part of him was being drained away. Serrus tried to stand but his legs gave way and he fell to his knees. As suddenly as it came it departed, but Gayl was still shivering. He felt a kind of indescribable sorrow and thought that he had become Forlorn. They learned that only the elves had been affected and people were worried that it might be a kind of plague. It wasn’t until the next day that it was learned that the elder elves had been raptured back to Sovyrian. Gayl learned later that his father was one of the ones taken and that his mother had aged overnight. Since Seven Arches was mostly inhabited by humans the Sundering did not cause the chaos that it did in Kyonin. They also had learned that Navarre and the rest of his siblings had disappeared and their father had also greatly aged. Gayl was still worried and he and the other elves felt the need to go home. That’s when the earthquake hit and the storms started.

Several buildings fell during the quake and several died. Over the next week the weather was in chaos. One day blazing heat and the next a blizzard. People were frightened and were getting dangerous. For the first time Gayl felt a sense of duty to the people and he and Serrus stayed despite feeling the pain of the Sundering. During one horrible day a crowd of people gathered in the square listening to the mad sermon of a crazed priest. The people were getting riled up started rioting. Gayl had to shoot a man in the leg and was cracked in the head with a rock. Thankfully the weather calmed but Seven Arches was still having earthquakes and was in the middle of a bad drought.

That was the darkest time Gayl experienced here. After the Sundering he and the other elves still felt a strange emptiness and longing inside of them. He’s torn between wanting to stay in Seven Arches or return home. They have heard that things in Kyonin are still bad and that there have been several attacks. Gayl and Serrus were wondering about the others they trained with that were stationed at Kyonins boarders. Were they still alive? Seven Arches was calming down however and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to deal with the chaos back home. He had heard from his brother that his mother was doing better and he was taking care of her so Gayl wasn’t as concerned about her now.

He sat near the well at the center of town and looked up into the night sky pondering. Night patrols were peaceful but very boring. It was then that he noticed a strange orange glow rising in the distance at the far end of town. It hit him suddenly that it must be a fire. With the drought as bad as it was it was only a matter of time. He quickly grabbed a bucket near the well and filled it. He grabbed it by its handle and began rushing towards the end of town yelling “Fire, Fire”. As he approached the glow was getting larger and he was fearing that it would soon grow out of control and threaten the whole town. Then he heard it. Not the crackling of burning flames (though that was there too), but shouting. Was someone arguing over what to do with the fire? Then he heard the screams of pain and sounds of battle. He stopped dead wondering if it was his imagination. Then he heard a gunshot.

He dropped the bucket and drew his own gun and approached more cautiously. If Serrus was firing something was seriously wrong. He saw that several buildings had been lit on fire now and saw several figures fighting in the street, the flames causing their silhouettes to dance like some sinister puppet show. He recognized some of the people as fellow townsman but the others he did not know. The townsman were wearing only their night clothes and trying to defend themselves with kitchen knives and other crude weapons. The others were clad in armor and wielding martial weapons. He screamed for them to halt when a figure rushed at him from the side wielding a battle ax. He turned and shot without thinking. The man fell dead at his feat with a smoking bullet wound through him. Gayl stood frozen for a second looking at the body. That was the first time he ever killed someone. The screams snapped him out trance and he looked up and saw that the towns people had been slain and the armored attackers were coming after him. He quickly began to back up and reload hoping he could drop one more before he had to draw his sword when several arrows whizzed past him. Several of the attackers dropped and the others turned and ran. Gayl glanced back while still reloading his gun and saw some of the town guard with Darius and a group of others townsman. They were carrying buckets of water preparing to douse the fire but they all stopped when they saw the slain bodies. Gayl looked down and his heart stopped. There among the dead was Serrus.

Gayl rushed over and rolled his body over and jumped as Serrus let out a gurgle. He was dead though, his body going through the last motions of death. Gayl ran his hands through his hair and began to breath heavily. What was going on? He felt a hand on his shoulder and he spun around pointing his gun at Darius. Darius let go and put his hands up cautiously “Easy son”. Gayl lowered his arm and stared back down at Serrus. Darius continued talking to him in a calming voice “You couldn’t have done anything about it. He’s gone now and you need to focus on…” Darius was cut off by peoples screams. They pointed to the sky and Gayl looked up to see a storm of fiery bolts raining down from the night sky. Their were so many it looked like dawn had come. He dove behind a barrel as arrows rained down. He heard several people scream and fall. After the volley he stood up and saw only a few of the others had lived. He looked down and saw that one of the arrows had pierced Darius’s shoulder. He was kneeling on the ground dousing his flaming clothes. Gayl ran over and helped him put out the flames, but he was badly burned. Darius gritted his teeth and snapped the arrow shaft in his shoulder. Gayl was helping him up when they saw the army advancing. There were hundreds off them, a sea of shadows advancing behind the flames, their foots steps sounding like a wave of thunder. Darius turned and yelled for them to retreat back to the center of town. Gayl turned to follow them when he remembered Serrus’s body. He rushed back and pulled Serrus’s gun and belt off of his body. When they were training Lord Eddaseril had told them that these weapons must remain a secret at all costs and they must do everything in their power not to let them fall into others hands. Gayl turned and ran to catch up with the others as several bolts whizzed past him. His heart was pounding in his chest and his lungs burned from the smoke. Covered in sweat and his eyes watering he ran on, focusing on his duty.

Seven Arches was under attack and he had to defend it.


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