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Michael-TLH

The Darakan Chronicles, Part 2

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--Begin--

 

Eldon's hazel eyes narrow slightly, craning his neck far, far back to see the face of the towering armored Paladin. The warrior's sword is over twice the height of the tiny Hin, but he refuses to back down. "The air might be thin up there, Warrior, but get this straight. If I wanted you fallen, I would not have come to your aid. I am further for your aid in helping the fallen. Now we can go on seeing who's got a bigger pair, or you can turn and help your friend. I know you care about him deeply, but now is not the time for challanges."

 

The enormous housecat turns back to her person, muurping softly before wandering over and snuffling the tiny man's hand. "Not now, Fuzzbucket..." he murmurs out of the corner of his mouth, effectivly ruining the mein of ferocity the tiny wizard just posessed.

 

--End--

 

--LSH

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Jesset takes in the final moments of the battle even as she continues her gesturing and chanting. Her spell wipes away the wards of the fallen dragon-blooden demon. With the power of her spell, she knows how successful she & her companions have been – the creatures arcane aura fades as its life fades. When the body loses all hint of an aura of power, the cunning Lynx knows only one reason why the power would have left it: the soul has too.

 

The sinister elf smiles slyly. With her Lynx-like, predator-sharp teeth showing, she glows with victory as the evil essence of her foe is borne away to its eternal torment. Yet moments later, her pride and smile are stricken from her as a figure from her dreams strides out from the trees.

 

NO! her mind screams. Across the clearing her Empowered sight is frozen on a picture of horror: An elf’s face. Not any elf. Despite the presence of a nose – so different from her mild bump with nasal slits – and the absence of the Lynx’s sharp teeth and fearsome horns, the elfin face has Jesset’s own structure. Chin, forehead, cheekbones all are mirror images of the Abjurer’s face, but transplanted onto an elf’s body. It is Jesset as she might have been – beautiful, without sharpness of tooth or horn, an elfin face without any of the deformities of the Sinister circumstances of Jesset Ferryl’s birth. It is a vision of the Chosen’s lorekeeper through a glass...

 

Don’t Shoot! she thinks, even as her voice is trapped deep in her throat. All the wards! You can’t hurt him with an arrow now... but the arrow is launched regardless, to be deflected aside by the casual power of Master Mage.

 

...For as the figure speaks with cruel familiarity, as it acts by dropping Warrick to the loam, as it departs while leaving fear and confusion behind, it reveals itself as everything Jesset is not: Beautiful, elven, male, confident, and thoroughly, irredeemably evil.

 

KittyKat? When, when? Not realizing she begins to speak aloud, Jesset’s voice cracks through the wall of her surprise: “He never wanted to show his malice before. He never showed it. When did he decide there was no longer any value in ...” she whispers for several moments before her voice trails into nothingness.

 

“But I suppose if he now possesses the power to make the world conform to his wish, why would he not? Oh, Warrick...”

 

With a tear in the corner of her eye, she summons determination and finally speaks with power to carry across the field: “Wait! Let me see Hammer – that poison might be... No, a simple spell to Neutralize Poison will work for her. Stern, Warrick will not be healed by your powers. His disease is bound to him by potent magic. We can attempt to Dispel or Break the Enchantment or use a Removal of Curses to sever the binds. That may be enough to permit your power to succeed. But I don’t believe so. We may need a Miracle or a Granted Wish. This disease is new to me, but it is easily more powerful, and more foul, than any magical disease I have known.”

 

Her legs – frozen still until now – suddenly come free of the earth as glides over towards her lover. Slowing as she closes the distance, she drops to her knees several yards away.

 

“My Greywynd,” she coos, “don’t get up. Love, I know you must feel tortured, but I must...” Here she chuffs breath from her nose before drawing in a sucking breath almost identical to a human sob.

 

“We cannot touch you.” Raising her voice to be heard by the others, she calls to the rest of the party, “He may be contagious, and he cannot be healed. Stern,” she turns to the closest of the companions. “Please, Stern – the Hin is the enemy of our enemy, and his power is as great as Mykayla’s. Do not spend your time opposing him, he is not opposed to us. And do not try to shield him from battle, he has likely seen as many as you. Warrick needs you now. Your Divine Health makes you his only solace. It will be up to you to care for him – none other can do so safely.”

 

Jesset urges Stern to succor her Scout. Watching from scant paces away, she calls to Warrick, “You have not yet been taken from us, Love. They have infected you with Contagion, but we can heal this. I take no joy at your misery, my Greywynd, but I am glad for your life. Please, cling to it. Trust me, stay with me. Warrick!” she almost yells his name at the last for his eyes have closed and his body sags...but the shout awakes him and he looks into her eyes. For several seconds they speak their own, private language before Jesset says softly, “I know, my Rose-Thorn. I know.”

 

Then to Stern, she adds: “He can ride – lift him carefully, Aegis. His disease is severe, but after rest he will be able to walk on his own. I do not know how long we have to cure him, but this first wave of misery will pass. If we keep him rested, he may even be able to defend himself when necessary. Keep him with his cloak, but don’t allow it to cover him right now. We’ll need to see how he’s doing – and if he’s slipping from his saddle.” The last is almost meant as humor, tho’ the Blue One cannot muster the mirth to carry the joke.

 

Once confident the Paladin can care for her Scout, she stands and addresses the Hin. “Forgive the Aegis, he has no experience with your people. As have I, forsooth. But I at least know those among the servants that have met with your people. You are of the Hin, are you not? Thank you for your aid. We have those of us trained in healing, and have some magic for the task as well. You need not aid us in healing, tho’ if you are injured we may be able to heal you. I am simply glad for the power and timeliness of your lightning strikes.”

 

“The enemy you faced was quite potent. For whatever whim of the Gods, it was a lucky fate that all of us were here to oppose them.” Taking in a breath, Jesset continues to swivel her head to sweep her Magic-Enhanced vision over any approach further enemies might take.

 

“I am Jesset Ferryl, Servant of the Aspen, of the Order of Servants. The enemy you fought tonight was my own enemy,” her face tightens as she continues, loud enough for the others to hear, “One even my own brother. I am truly sorry you faced danger from them. If you wish, we can offer you aid and food before we break camp in the morning.”

 

"You are Fuzzbucket, I know," she addresses the cat. "We have some fish for you, as well."

 

With that there is a growl at the Lynx's heel. "Not now, Garr! There's meat enough for you both and it won't do to have familiars of friends fighting each other." Turning back to the two before her, she adds, "And this is my companion, Garr, whom I have known for several years now..."

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The mighty Aegis of St. Marcus slowly lowers his greatsword at Jesset's command and listens carefully to her words regarding Warrick's condition... "I shall see ta his care ma blue champion, try no' ta worry..." The giant armored knight nods in recognition and gently lifts the limp form of Warrick from the ground and carries him to a more confortble resting spot near his bed roll.

 

Stern then turns, and in a rumbling low voice, speaks to the diminutive halfling wizard, "Forgive ma mistrust n' aggressions earlier wee wizard, I am Stern Kestrelmann, Son o' Karl Kestrelmann born unto tha 12th House o' tha Kestrelmann Clan o' Searoad, Aegis o' Rockfist n' loyal servant ta tha Hadren crown n' St. Marcus 'imself... He is no child Stern... An' thank ye fer yer aid in battle, may St. Marcus bless you n' keep you in his light. Stern kneels and offers a large open hand to Eldon as he scritches the back of Fuzztbucket's neck at the same time.

 

Finally, the massive paladin moves over next the Mykala and Robert. "Rest easy woodsman, yer in good hands...", says Stern as he pats the shoulder of the acid burned ranger and looks reassuringly at Myka.

 

Keep 'em alive Stern this is yer duty yer solem oath... By St. Marcus we shall survive this...

 

Sliding his ancient horned helm back on to his head, Stern works on securing the campsite, returning periodcally to check on Warrick and Hammer's condition.

 

SK

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--Begin--

 

Eldon lets out a long sigh of relief as the confrontation subsides. His small hand reaching up to his equally small forehead and wiping his brow. "Wow... that was close." he says, a quick smile coming to his wide, thin-lipped mouth.

 

Now that the battle is over, and Eldon's large hat is removed, one can see the features about this child. Truly, he is even smaller than imagined. A sword's length in height, it is easy to see how he would be confused for a child. His hair is light brown, and shaggy in cut, brushed back with a hand. His hazel eyes seem large on his face, and are constantly moving around to look at his enviroment. Long-limbed, his fingers are also almost constantly moving, whether to fiddle with some small trinket or accentuating his conversation with others. His outfit is simple, but well made. A blue overcoat reaches to the ground, under that is a simple linen shirt of medium weight. His pantaloons are dark blue, and tucked into beautifully crafted black riding boots of Elven make. At his waist is a masterfully crafted sword of Elven craftsmanship, in anyone else's hand, it would be a dirk, but the sweeping blade is the right size for Eldon's hand to be a noble sword. Near him, a frumpled up, ancient hat that has been patched dozens of times, and not with the same color fabric. The wobbly brim and crooked peak are almost stereotypical of those who have chosen the path of the Wizard.

 

To the armored man, he nods and says. "You are perfectly, welcome. I am Eldon Goodbarrel, second son to Alton Goodbarrel. I am here at the behest of The Oracle of Yondalla. She instructed me to ride here as fast as I could, that was three days ago." He reaches up to clasp Stern's armored fist with both of his hands, showing even more clearly how small this creature is. "I'm sorry about speaking tersely, but sometimes people don't think just after battle. See to your friend, Ser Stern."

 

Releasing that anvil of a hand, Eldon turns and beams a bright smile to the cyan-hued warrior-scholar. He gives her a salute in the manner of Man, flat palm to his forehead. "And a pleasure to meet you, M'Lady. I continue to be Eldon Goodbarrel. My enormous companion is Fuzzbucket, ne'er-do-well and layabout. Patron of fishmongers and innkeeps." the last said as a joke. He reaches down, scratching the cat's head lightly with affection.

 

"If you do not need me immediatly, I then I shall stay clear and out of the way, and eventually I'll be able to go get Teacup. She's a pony."

 

With little else to do, aside from introducing himself to the other Companions this Elven-trained Wizard does what he considers the worst thing; he stands around with litle to do.

 

--End--

 

--LSH

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Cuchulainn forces Hammer into a sitting position. breaking the parafin sealing the vial, he straddles the dog and forces its jows open. Pouring the liquid into hammer's mouth, Cuchulainn pats the dogs throat: forcing her to swallow.

 

Standing, he dusts stray furs off his pajamas before turning to the wizard. "I've never met a child of the Harvest Queen. It is good to meet you, sir."

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With tension difused, Jesset bids a welcome to Eldon and Fuzzbucket, then hurries over to see to Robert's healing.

 

With that done, she returns to a few paces from Warrick's side and maintains that short distance, breaking silence as necessary to play her part in coordinating the camp.

 

"If only Shan were here...." she whispers to herself. "Mykayla!" she calls softly when there is time and calm. "I should tell you what I've seen..."

 

When Mykayla and Eldon gather near her, she informs them of what she has seen - the specific spells her brother cast, of course, including an errorless teleportation spell and a number of wards from basic Mage Armor and Shield to the Stoneskin Transformation. But most importantly, she must tell them of the power of his most potent spells: Legendary - beyond even the Greater Wish and other spells of the 9th circle of power.

 

Such magic has existed in times past, of course. It is said that the legendary ShadowStaff and Staves of the Magi were born out of such magics. But spells beyond the Greater Wish have so long been assumed to be lost. Not since the time of Daraka.

 

Perhaps the battle to come will be as momentous as even the end of the Darakan age...

 

 

But if so, that would mean that the great host of skeletons and zombies that she tracked and hunted several years ago...that host could only be a small part of the legions that could be forged and commanded with enchantments of truly Epic power.

 

How could my brother...?she muses as she sits with Eldon and Mykayla. When I saw him last, the 5th circle of Wizardly Power was the most he could muster. He bragged of it then to our parents. It has been several years, and I have grown much. I even cast spells of the 3rd Circle now. But progress slows at the greater circles. I could expect him to cast magics of the 6th circle, or even the 7th - he has had as many years to improve as have I.

 

But 10th Circle Majiks arrayed against us? By my brother...the apprentice?

 

How can we ever hope to face the Master?

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Hammer whines as she drinks the antidote, but those whines are replaced by a bark of joy as she stands. Licking the face of the young Islander, she bounds off to her master's side, tail wagging. In the manner of dogs, it seems the battle of a few moments ago are forgotten as she is reunited with her master. Sensing his mood, she tilts her head at the still form of Warrick and drops her head. Ears and nose twitching she turns and sees Eldon and his familiar. With a happy bark, she races toward the enormous cat.

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Eldon listens in quietly as he is informed of the titanic magicks they will be facing. At the end of the discussion, he whistles low and softly. "That... would be impressive, to say the least." his voice a curious mixture of accents, sounding almost like Nine Finger Nick, almost Elven, and some strange lilt to his voice. Something the Hin would most likely have of their own region.

 

Eldon is about to speak further when he turns his head around quickly at some un-heard noise, and watches as Fuzzbucket hunches down, then scampers for her hat, the cat completly disappearing into the chappeau before the romping dog arrives to bid his welcome. "Well, hello there! I like you, too!" He gives his hand over for sniffing and inspection, then scratches as the beast's ears and skull. For once, a member of the COmpanions that Eldon doesn't crane his neck up to look at. To the hound before him, Eldon says 'You'll have to forgive Fuzzbucket, she's a little aloof at first, but she'll warm to you."

 

He looks back up at the bi-peds he was speaking with earlier. "I know of you, Companions of Searoad. I would not presume to count myself as one of you, but for a short while, would I offend terribly if I travel alongside such greatness?"

 

--LSH

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Warrick tries to take confidence from his friends but his disappointment is evident when Stern refuses to promise to kill him if Warrick begins to turn undead. Silently, a paralyzing fear is welling that his soul will be forced to live its days in a death without rest, and a continued hate and hunger for blood.

 

He dutifully lies still on his bedroll, extremely grateful that Stern can continue to care for him and interact with him. Taking his lover's word as law, he tries to patiently wait for the initial pain of his sickness to subside, but it is not fast enough in its arrival. His fear awakens old demons and shaking hands reach for his liquor-filled boda secreted in his saddlebags.

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As Mykayla uses a couple of charges off of her wand to ease Robert’s pain, waiting for those with greater ability to finish what she has started. But when no one with greater ability comes to finish the healing her eyes narrow dangerously, She watches as Stern offers mere words of ‘comfort’ but make no attempt to use his own healing ability on Robert and moves off to ‘wander’ about the camp. And when the young priest finishes with the dog and then stands to greet the strange Hin and doesn’t move to come to Robert’s aid her thoughts take a dark and dangerous turn. So be it. She thinks. And finishes Robert’s healing on her own, using the precious charges of the wand she bought as a back up in case of emergencies. “There” she murmurs to Robert. “I will see to your healing for the others seem to have more ‘weighty’ concerns on their minds than the severity of your wounds”. Though spoken quietly for Robert’s ears there is a simmering anger behind her words, and though in pain her love knows that anger is not directed at him, but at those who have ‘failed’ in Mykyala’s eyes to offer the help they should have.

then hurries over to see to Robert's healing.

 

Mykayla gives Jesset a curt nod when she comes over and a short reply of “He’ll live, Thanks to me.” And she finishes up with the healing.

 

"Mykayla!" she calls softly when there is time and calm. "I should tell you what I've seen..."

When Jesset calls her over, she gives the Hin a polite nod and then listens politely and impassively. “Well, we will just have to deal with that when the time comes. But for now I think we should no more about you brother.’ And she gives Jesset a pointed look “For it is obvious from your reaction that you knew what he was like, and no doubt you suspected he was behind this. I think we deserve to know more about this ‘enemy’ before we go much further.”

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Eldon smiles up to the beautiful Shining Host, his hands still happily scratching at the beast in greeting. "Hello there." he says to her, only half-expecting an answer from her. Such is the way of the Shining Host.

 

--LSH

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Jesset moves to speak to Mykayla quietly - privately - for a moment...

 

"Mykayla, what bothers you? Robert was wounded, I know, but not in danger of dying as you suggested. And if you think it important, I can speak to you of my brother, but the story is no different than before: A powerful wizard took up residence in my home bole. He took apprentices. A few decades later dead armies began to spring up. This is all as I've told you. That my brother was one of the apprentices is something I have held back, true. But you know as much of magic as any. How could I know if I trailed my true brother or a Seeming? Even minor magics can make one look as another. I was but a Servant of the Aspen then...with no competence in piercing majikkal deceptions. Did you expect me to name names knowing I could not be certain the persons sewing this evil?"

 

"Come, tell me - why are you so bitter and angry this night? We are all still your Companions, and none would let Robert perish any more than you two would allow this Curse of Disease to kill Warrick.

 

"So what lies between us, who in the past have been as close as sisters?"

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Eldon gives a little sigh, enough questions and inquiries have been addressed to him for now.

 

He steps away from the battlesite, and steps up the small hillock to the walnut tree where Teacup is teathered. Giving the pony a friendly pat on the muzzle, he leads the animal back to the rest of the group, but keeping his distance as this beast of burden is not trained for the sounds and smells of a recient battle.

 

He holds the reigns, and patiently awaits the others.

 

--LSH

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Mykayla started to smile and give greeting to the small mage, when Jesset pulls her aside.

"Mykayla, what bothers you? Robert was wounded, I know, but not in danger of dying as you suggested. And if you think it important, I can speak to you of my brother, but the story is no different than before: A powerful wizard took up residence in my home bole. He took apprentices. A few decades later dead armies began to spring up. This is all as I've told you. That my brother was one of the apprentices is something I have held back, true. But you know as much of magic as any. How could I know if I trailed my true brother or a Seeming? Even minor magics can make one look as another. I was but a Servant of the Aspen then...with no competence in piercing majikkal deceptions. Did you expect me to name names knowing I could not be certain the persons sewing this evil?"

 

"Nothing is the matter." Mylayla says lightly. "As for you brother from your reactions when you saw him and your words afterwords, I assumed you had already figured he was behind this. If my conclusion is wrong I apologize. But I still want to know about your brother, the person he is, not his power or the power you think he has. Knowing his personality will tell us much about what he may or may not be capable of."

 

LT

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