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Michael-TLH

The Darakan Chronicles, Part 2

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Turning away, Serrasmin leads the group past and under the graceful spread of trees on the southern edge of the canopy which makes up the Bole.

 

A riot of colors, sounds and smells surround the Companions as they pass beneath the walkways and step past the stairs which lead up and into the leafy giants. It is a short walk to the Companions destination, what is obviously an inn of some kind, though none like many in the group had seen before.

 

"Arrangements have been made for your stay here, tonight. I shall return at dawn." Serrasmin bows and departs as the front door opens. An elven woman opens the door and nods sedately. Her long silver hair is bound in place by bands of gold and amber. Dressed in a homespun green dress with embroidered vines and leaves, she quickly dries her hands on an apron tied around her slender waist.

 

"Welcome, travellers. I am Adelia, Hearthmistress." Groomsmen come out from around the large tree and help to unpack the horses, leading them off around to a stable in back. "You may gather inside, or there are rooms set aside for each."

 

She looks to Warrick and nods. "Tanaar said you would have special needs, and I see it so. Please, come inside and I will have his draught hot and waiting."

 

She grins and looks at Eldon and Stern. "Supper will be available shortly before dinner is served, and of course, you may snack at any time as needed."

 

Her face drains of color for a moment as she looks at Jesset, but quickly resolves itself to it's former cheerful goodwill.

 

<e>"Greetings, Dark Child. Blessings upon thee and thy company."</e> She bows low and formally before straightening up and nervously smoothing her dress down.

 

"Please, one and all, come and be welcome at the Root and Rock."

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Stern walks in silence as the group follows Serrasmin. The mighty Aegis' mind begins drifting once more to the grim and deadly task that surely lies ahead of them, The Chosen of Searaod.

 

Then suddenly a voice, raspy and dead whispers deep in his mind...

 

THEY WILL ALL DIE YOUNG AEGIS... BUT JOIN ME AND THEY WILL LIVE...

 

Stern shakes his head as if to clear his mind of the prevading evil presence. He looks around at the others to see if they too can hear the voice that beckons him, but soon he realizes this is one battle he must fight alone. Well, not completely alone.

 

They canno' hear it... St. Marcus give me strength. Mus'... push... tha... voice... away...

 

After they arrive at the inn, Stern will offer assistance to Cuchulainn in tending to Warrick's condition. After this is done, Stern climbs the narrow stair case leading to his sparse quarters. Once there, he checks and re-checks his equipment, weapons, armor, and supplies. He even gives Karamor, his ancient greatsword, a fresh edge and oiling. And although a blade of such enchanment has little need for this kind of maintenance, the young paladin finds a brief measure of solice in atteding to the rune covered sentient blade that has been his closest friend since his was a boy. It is true, Karamor and Stern are deeply bonded, the blade and wielder having grown stronger, more lethal, with each passing year. They function as one, each knowing the other's needs and sharing a never ending thurst to vanquish all that is evil. The enormous weapon gleams brightly in the flickering candle light, This... Stern thinks to himself ...is tha las' remaining piece I have o' ye father.

 

Stern, fully armed and armored, makes his way back to the common room of the Root and Rock. Hammer barks a crisp greeting upon her master's return. The overwhelming smell of fresh dark bread and mutton fills the air and, for a moment, the Aegis of Rockfist is able to set aside his worries and eat his fill.

 

Tomorrow we go ta war...

 

SK

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Warrick stands practically dumbfounded as he tries to take in the sights of the Elven bole. His eyes well slightly at the feelings he shares with Jesset, knowing how she must feel to finally be at home and at the same time knowing the feelings he will have when they finally return to Searoad.

 

"It's beautiful..." he breathes to her even as he wonders why she has never said more about her fantastic home. Probably too much to bear... It would be hard to be a stranger in your own home and yet belong to a place so wonderful as this...

 

Warrick dutifully follows the rest of the group but does his best to be near Jesset's side in case she needs words of support or encouragement, though he suspects anything he said would be more for his own benefit rather than truly providing any support. In the end he keeps his mouth shut, hoping his presence will be enough.

 

 

She looks to Warrick and nods. "Tanaar said you would have special needs, and I see it so. Please, come inside and I will have his draught hot and waiting."

 

Embarrassed, Warrick does his best to bow courteously, but his cheeks warm and redden and he stares at the ground while gnawing his lower lip behind an oiled goattee.

 

Great. So my illness shines as bright as a beacon in these fair regions. No doubt each Elf that lays eyes on me can see my affliction. Damaged. Wounded. I'm not coming out of my room until it's time to go...

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Eldon slides off Teacup and groans. Clearly not one for mounted travel. Once Teacup is taken care of, he walks into the Inn with Fuzzbucket on his shoulder, the hero returned.

 

Eldon inhales the myriad scents of the area, and smiles. While trained in Elven Magic, he does miss their cities and towns.

 

He looks at his Familiar. "Alright, fuzzbucket, let's see what we have for a room."

 

The room is enormous to his diminuitive stature, and he even pulls out a small step-stool so he can reach his bed. "Aaah, this is nice."

 

He closes his eyes for the briefest of moments, then pops them wide open. "Well, that was fun, time to see what we can see..."

 

And with that, he darts out of the room and into the wide world.

 

When he returns, he sits at a table in the Inn, waiting for the Companions to join him or no, and says. "Well, you should know that I am Eldon Goodbarrel, of the Goodbarrels family. I am a Hin who has been trained in the Wizardly Arts and I think now is a good time as any to have our introductions." he grins.

 

"I mean, you only see this tiny man flying in the air, casting down bolts of lightning like a Daraka God, and you take it quite calmly..."

 

--LSH

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The mighty Aegis exchanges introductions again with Eldon, praising the small wizard for aiding the party and, of course, for his fine culinary skills. Stern's appreciation is truly genuine, for he has eaten better in the past 48 hours then he has in his many months on the road. And to have a wizard back amongst the group is equally comforting to the young paladin. Though Shan's absence is still very unsettling to Stern.

 

Stern turns his massive armored frame toward Jesset, "So ma blue champion, what is our battle plan?"

 

After Jesset's answer, Stern checks on Warrick and then consults with Cuchulainn, "How would ye say he's fairin' ma goodly priest?"

 

Following Cuchulainn's response, Stern slowly makes his way back up stairs to Robert and Myka's shared quarters.

 

Gently rapping on the ancient dark wood of the couple's door, Stern's voice rumbles low in throughout the candle lit corridor, "Robert, Myka are ye there?"

 

SK

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Mykayla opens the door, and peers out to see who is there. Seeing Stern she smiles and sasy "Of course we are. Come in." And opens the door to allow him entry. Shutting the door she follows him back into the room, taking a seat on the bed letting Stern have one of the two chairs in the room.

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"I mean, you only see this tiny man flying in the air, casting down bolts of lightning like a Daraka God, and you take it quite calmly..."

 

"Oh, we've seen things your people wouldn't believe, little wizard." Pits of death, slaughtered peasants, Jesset when we found her on the stairs.... I shouldn't have left her - No! She should have come with me... "and if you're very unfortunate one day we'll tell you about them. I'm going up to my room, good night."

 

Robert climbs the stairs, a little wearily. There's a slight ache to him, as always after a long day in the saddle but at least he won't be pulling guard duty tonight! He can sleep... or something else involving bed at least, he thinks as a wicked grin creases his face. He opens the door quietly, slipping into the room where Mykayla is sitting, softly talking to her little dragon. He crosses quickly to her, and kisses her upturned face gently. Her smile is enough to smooth out a lot of the day's creases.

 

Turning back, he spreads himself across the bed, propping himself up on one arm, content just to watch her and listen to her with her pet. He is still lounged like that when the knock on the door threatens to rattle the hinges. With a glance exchanged, they both know only one man can knock on a door like that.

 

"Stern!" they say, almost together. Probably thought he was being gentle! he thinks, as his woman gets up to open the door.

 

Mykayla opens the door, and peers out to see who is there. Seeing Stern she smiles and says "Of course we are. Come in." And opens the door to allow him entry. Shutting the door she follows him back into the room, taking a seat on the bed letting Stern have one of the two chairs in the room.

 

Robert half-rises, so he's sitting up, and smiles at the big warrior. "Remember the days you'd have been down there drinking till you fell asleep? Not so long ago, eh? You ever wish life was that simple again?"

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"Stern!"
comes a muffled response from behind the closed door.

 

Stern's whiskered youthful face breaks into a controlled grin as the beautiful moon elf greets him...

 

"Of course we are. Come in."

 

She seems ta get prettier each time I lay me eyes upon her, n' tha spittin' image o' me great grand mother, St. Marcus be praised.

 

"Aye, sorry ta disturb ye n' Robert, M'lady. Aye, n' ye too ma wee firey one..." rumbles Stern as he acknowledges the tiny dragon familiar along with other two occupants of the inn's room.

 

Stern slowly lumbers into the couple's room, ducking low under the door frame as he eases into the chair before him. He motions for Robert to stay lying on the bed.

 

Robert half-rises, so he's sitting up, and smiles at the big warrior. "Remember the days you'd have been down there drinking till you fell asleep? Not so long ago, eh? You ever wish life was that simple again?"

 

"Aye, tha' I do Ranger. I remember those days well... Things 'ave changed, but I do long fer those simpler times ma friend. An' I know ye n' Myka would 'ave rather stayed on in Searoad... I canno' blame ye, fer I too sometimes long ta be back on me father's farm in Northberry, working tha land n' tended ta tha needs o' me clan. (Stern pauses) But ma family is na' more, n' I've got a geater duty now, n' fer me this comittment I've made does no' include Tha Drink or ma clan's farm land. I am a servant ta St. Marcus now... Me duities as Aegis o' Rockfist take priority over all else in ma world... Ye n' tha others are ma family now, n' I am compelled ta follow tha Guiding Light o' St. Marcus n' make dam bloody sure tha' we all stay alive..."

 

Stern pauses again, this time his emotions swell within him, and he moves his massive hands to his face in an attempt to mask his concerns. Then looking at Robert, then Myka, he whipsers softly...

 

"We are all in grave danger here, a great evil beckons me, it promises our deaths. Unless..."

 

SK

Edited by Stern Kestrelmann

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"We are all in grave danger here, a great evil beckons me, it promises our deaths. Unless..."

 

Robert sits up suddenly, looking around him. "Sorry, I was waiting for the clap of thunder that should go with a statement like that." His face immediatly turns serious, the smile droping quickly "But I know you would not joke. Tell us, what great evil? And unless what? I feel we are wasting our time here, you know and Myk feels the same way, at least in part, but I've not sensed anything other than homesickness and neglect."

 

"Do you know something we don't?"

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"Do you know something we don't?"

 

Robert's words draw him out and Stern looks up from his hands, shakes his head, and speaks in a low rumbling whisper, "I do not know fer sure Ranger, but I have heard it's call since we set foot in these lands... So vile, so black, pure evil... It whispers ta me, it promises me yer lives fer me alligence. Sometimes, it promises great power 'er vengence, 'er unimaginable wealth, but always asking fer me pledge ta it's dark ways...

 

Again, Stern pauses, the weight of the world seeming to reside on the paldrons of his ageless golden splint mail.

 

"I should no' have told ye any o' this, tis probably all in me mind. Maybe, it is ma divine powers playing tricks with me head, 'er perhaps St. Marcus is testing me faith. I simply canno' know Robert, but I could not keep it ta meself any longer. I've tried ta speak with Jesset on tha matter, but she seems so distracted of late with her homecoming n' o' course Warrick's illness... Please forgive me Robert, I should no' have come."

 

Stern stands suddenly, nods to Mykayla, and begins moving toward the door, embarassed by the tears that have welled in his ice blue eyes...

 

 

SK

Edited by Stern Kestrelmann

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"Don't leave, you great lummox! If there's things on your mind then perhaps we can help. At least you'll feel better for sharing."

 

Robert springs lithely from the bed and takes 2 steps toward Stern's back, reaching out a hand to his shoulder to try gently to restrain him.

 

"Jess is, as you say, distracted. Warrick's worried he's turning into a zombie. The Hin seems a likeable enough chap, if you're talking about cooking. Cuchulain, well, he's a sword brother and a good man but me and Myk have been with you the longest. If you need to talk, who else but us would put up with you, eh?"

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"Of course...stay and talk..you must feel the need else you wouldn't have come to us." Says Mykayla smiling at the big man to sooth his nerves. "Sit and tell us your concerns...for your are not the only one to be plagued with such vision I think."

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"Don't leave, you great lummox! If there's things on your mind then perhaps we can help. At least you'll feel better for sharing."

 

Stern spins and looks down at Robert, a pained look still rippled across his youthful features

 

"Aye, ye've a point there ma tree-huggin' friend. An' would ye look at me, cryin' like a snot-nosed welp, blast these emotions!"

 

"Jess is, as you say, distracted. Warrick's worried he's turning into a zombie. The Hin seems a likeable enough chap, if you're talking about cooking. Cuchulain, well, he's a sword brother and a good man but me and Myk have been with you the longest. If you need to talk, who else but us would put up with you, eh?"

 

Stern chuckles at the last part of the Ranger's statement.

 

"Tis true Robert, yer like a brother ta me..."

 

Sit and tell us your concerns...for you are not the only one to be plagued with such vision I think."

 

Stern turns to meet the moon elf's gaze and whispers, "Ye have heard these voices too Myka?"

 

After the moon elf's answer, Stern sits and shares more of his thoughts and concerns with the couple.

 

"No matter wha' happens ma friends, I shall be there fer ye... Togther there is nothin' we canno overcome fer we are The Chosen, we are The Companions, Wards of Darakan...

 

The young Aegis, with spirits lifted somewhat by his cathartic release, reaches out and tightly hugs both Myka and Robert , sweeping the two up into his massive arms.

 

 

 

SK

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"No I hear no voices...but I dream..." And she smiles to herself.."Sometimes I find them horrible...but other times they draw me in like a moth to a flame..... But I think it is more to my dissatisfaction of being here than anything else."

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