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Lady Tam

The Darakan Chronicles

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Warrick exhales and sits behind Jesset again, giving her an encouraging pat and hoping she is not too upset by whatever it is he or the king has done. He tenses as Mykayla offers dangerous words to their host and is again taken off-guard by the paradox that is the young Elf woman. Caring enough to risk her life healing her companions and yet cutting to others that seem to bear her no ill will.

 

Nonetheless, the proceedings offer little involvement to the Scout so he remains quiet, content to discover how long they might have to wait for these 'Aspects.'

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<e>"Your majesty. If we are going to be some time, may I spend part of it with your company of archers? I would like to practice with the best."<e> Robert asks the question in Elven, to show that he knows exactly what Mon'keigh means.

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Lord Atolin, how many o' these undead do ye expect we shall face in this quest before us?

 

-Stern

 

Lightning-sudden making decisions in combat, the blue skinned warrior has a deserved reputation for instinctual ferocity. And yet, outside such environments, she is still capable of deep and thorough thought. Today is a day for such thought. Thus she does not address Stern's question right away. Instead she is carried away, north of the Bole, in her own thoughts. But when the King - not Lord! Has ever an Aegis been so uncouth? - does not answer Stern's question, Jesset's thought turn slowly toward it, like a galleon tacking in a light breeze...

 

When she begins to speak, her eyes are still far away, yet they seem to return to the present as she answers:

 

"One thousand four hundred eighty four elves rested in the Barrows when last I guarded the borders of the Bole. Nine hundred gnolls lived once on the inland borders. Perhaps as many orcs lived on the coastal boarders as there were elves in the Barrows.

 

Perhaps one in four of the gnolls and orcs were killed. The rest were scattered and driven away. This renders five or six hundred animated horrors. In my own battles, I destroyed perhaps a hundred. Leaving less than five hundreds behind - but only if my estimates are correct, and this is not certain.

 

Our sacred Dead cannot run, cannot escape the foul necromancy. If the magic is turned to them, any or all of them could be forced to act against us. Gnolls and orcs will have real weapons. The Resting Elves were mostly buried with wooden weapons, wooden armor - built of the spirit-wood of the Sequoiya to protect them from spirit-dangers in the next life. But some of the wealthiest took real arms, even enchanted arms, with them into their barrows.

 

It will be hard to arm all the elves they force to answer their call, but if it can be done, they have near two thousand troops. If they killed more orcs or gnolls than I am away, perhaps more.

 

And this is without the forest-animals they animated even before I left the borders of the Bole. Never as many of those as of orc-corpse or gnoll-skeleton. Still, they are themselves of significant number.

 

At most, there are perhaps Twenty-five hundreds of various enemies, excluding the elven ranks recently sent against them that the King has described.

 

If they cannot find the weapons to arm many of the Resting Elves, perhaps we face less than a thousand.

 

There is also the possibility that my order still protects a large number of the Barrows. This too, could keep the numbers below one thousand.

 

Our best hope, then, is that despite being surrounded by the dead, allies still await us at the Bole.

 

But there is also a further nightmare: In the worst case, the elves of the Bole have themselves been slain, adding a FURTHER two thousands of Resting Elves our enemies can use against us.

 

I doubt anyone knows the exact number of dead we face among the Red Woods to the north, Stern. We can at best learn whether or not the Bole has fallen, and if not, how much of the Barrows they still protect.

 

The rest is the work of guesses, for which I am as well informed as any of the King's scouts.

 

Is that true, Your Majesty?" she concludes.

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Hi all! Enjoy!

 

--begin--

 

The Lynx truly gives gravity to an already desperate situation. Should those unknown forces who bind the fallen to their nefarious purposes truly have the ability to raise every fallen spear and sword to fight against the Woodland Realm, then the Companions are just as doomed as the rest.

 

Atolin nods to Jesset, he will not shy away from facts. His leadership needs this information. Even as he speaks with the Companions, in the streets below activity begins to bring forth the warriors of the Elves, to strike back at the creatures that stir to the north. But to muster an army will take time, time the Companions can spend marching north.

 

Atolin thinks a moment longer, then speaks. “It would seem, from what limited knowledge I have of such dark arts, that the best route would be to seek out that which commands the fallen. To find the general of that unholy legion, and strike them down. Once that is done, then the fallen will rest once more.”

 

“You must go to the Bole, Voyager. You must return to the land that trained and honed you. They had their reasons to mark you to travel, but it is time for you to return to them once more.” But he is no fool, to send them into the North as they are equipped would be a fool's errand, they must be prepared. Atolin looks to the door as Aifrik enters. The pair of them must share some bond, for no summons was made of the servant. “Aifrik, see to it that these good Companions may travel through the town, should they wish some trinket or item, see to it they may receive it. Should items need to be crafted, mention my name.” Such graciousness the Elf King shows, but what must be done would be more than enough repayment.

 

“Go forth, Companions of Searoad,” the King says. “Spend your day exploring the city and its wonders. You will be safe here for now.” The King looks to Shan. “Should you wish, I give you leave to rest here, and once one of the Aspects comes forth, they will be brought to you.”

 

--End--

 

--LSH

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“Should you wish, I give you leave to rest here, and once one of the Aspects comes forth, they will be brought to you.”

Shan turns and smiles at the elf-king.

 

"Thank you, your majesty. That would be for the best, I think."

 

Walking to where it lies next to his staff, he reaches into his pack and pulls out a small pouch before turning to Jesset.

 

"Lady Skoli, if you'd pick us up some scrolls, I would be most appreciative." He winks at her and heads back to the window, staring out across the city once more.

 

Best that I am alone should one of them come to call... who can guess what their reaction will be...

 

A short squeak from his shoulder has Shan grinning as he reaches up to scratch behind Nutkin's ear.

 

You're right little one... not completely alone.

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"Thank you, your Majesty. Your generosity will be most useful very soon. For this expedition, I will need some specialized supplies. Mykayla, Robert - you both use the bow! Why not come with me? We can find some Skeleton Arrows in this city, I am sure. It has been some time since I needed any, but where we go, we may fire quivers full."

 

Jesset now wears her own, famous feral smile - one typically saved for times of combat. But perhaps now she is already fighting the dead which still ring her home... Certainly her mind has already turned to strategy and tactics. "Warrick," she adds with a bland face, "I will need you to fetch and carry some things. You should come too."

 

She waits a few moments for others to make their plans - just in case these affect her own - and, of course, for an official dismissal from the King. To have a private Audience with Atolin is quite an honor - and though she may not have courtly manners, she will at least wait for a military dismissal from the general so as not to make a complete fool of herself!

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".....Mykayla, Robert - you both use the bow! Why not come with me? We can find some Skeleton Arrows in this city, I am sure. It has been some time since I needed any, but where we go, we may fire quivers full."

 

"I hear and obey, Oh Jesset"

 

Robert bows his head stiffly at the king, although he is unsurprised when his gesture, like his question, is unheeded. Myk is unhappy around these, her suppossed kin, and I am glad - I would not want her to feel at home with such arrogance and rudeness. I thought the stories an exaggeration, and evenings spent at the camps of the Elven rangers were pleasant enough, but if their King has such disregard for me, why should I help him? So they can put 'Here lies a Mon'Keigh' on my funeral stone? To heck with him... and Robert walks out, pacing to and fro in the ante-room until Jess and Myk, and any others coming, appear.

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Stern's brow pinches in concern as he too thinks about the quest before them and the estimated numbers of enemy.

 

Thousands o' undead... Mother o' St. Marcus! This may be our greatest challenge ever. Hopefully not our last... Guide us father, fer we shall need it...

 

"Aye, then yer Highness it looks like we've some preparin' ta do a'for we depart, I shall fetch tha hounds n' make ma list o' provisions..."

 

Stern nods to the elven King and silently excuses himself from the royal library.

 

The large paladin files out accordingly with the rest of the Companions. Again his mind drifts as the call of the elven undead beckon his inner thoughts, but he forces himself to focus on the issue of attaining supplies and specialized weaponry he and the group will need. After all, as a non-elf, touring the splendor of the city will be a true marvel to behold for the young Aegis and his friends.

 

Before he leaves the room Stern turns to the fire wizard addressing him sincerely, "Master Shan shall I remain here with ye whilst ye wait fer these Aspects o' yers ta arrive?"

 

If he was asked by Shan to stay, Stern will pass along his list of needed weaponry and supplies to Jesset making a special effort to mention his desire to wield a mighty composite bow in ranged combat.

 

(If he's not staying behind to wait with Shan) The young Rockfist Knight moves into the ante-chamber and pulls the woodsman and the moon elf aside.

 

"Robert, what'll ye be needin' from town ma friend?, N' what about ye Myka? What have ye got in mind ta aid in tha cause against tha undead hordes?"

 

Then Stern nods reassuringly to Cuchulainn and Warrick before turning to azure enigma known as Jesset.

 

"Jess, ma blue friend, yer command on this quest (places a big armored hand on her shoulder) is at tha heart o' our success... Thus yer safety is o' tha utmost importance. (kneels at Jess' feet)) As the Aegis, I herby pledge ma life n' honor in keeping yerself n' Master Shan alive n' well during tha battles in tha days ta come. By tha power vested in me by St. Marcus himself... let it be heard, let it be so!"

 

After his holy oath to serve as vanguard for the Blue Horned Elf and the Flame Lord, the giant paladin returns to his feet. The clanking and scraping of his armor echo his movements as he turns to face the Companions once more... "I intend ta return before sunset with our war hounds n' any weaponary n' supplies I can arrange... Any o' ye care ta join me?"

 

SK

 

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Jesset is only mildly embarrassed by Stern's pledge, where in the past she might have turned pure purple. As soon as she receives the signal that she is dismissed, she steps from the Library into the ante-chamber - without asking for a single thing from the King or his Castellan.

 

 

While Stern, Robert & Mykayla are joined to gether, Jesset speaks to them all: "Stern - Soon I'll have that bow I promised to you. But I want to get you some unique arrows to go with it, and I have no time to make enough by myself. I was hoping that you three could come with me. I want to show you something..."

 

Looking over at Jesset, Mykayla smiles wanly, “I have no need of a bow. It has been months since I held one and I find I do not miss it. Besides with my staff and sword I would be hard pressed to juggle another weapon.”

 

"Good day, then," the skoli replies just before the fair elf withdraws to her quarters.

 

 

Jesset still has several hundred gold to her name that she did not spend in Searoad - that will change soon. Leading her friends out, she asks for directions and is soon in a section of the city where the finest armaments are for sale. It is there that she shows her companions some very interesting arrows: Flat-headed weapons they are, with broad but thin bronze rings under the fletching just aft of where the feathers are attached to the shaft. She buys several for practice right away, but then leaves a request for 80 more to be made, all of MasterWork quality with silver forming the striking head. Over one hundred gold she spends to reimburse the fletchers for the 80 arrows which, truth be told, will be near priceless where they are headed.

 

Taking the two Warriors to a practice range, she begins to speak: "These were my best companions for several months." Here she holds up the unusual arrows. "I fired hundreds, I am sure. And Mykayla may have been familiar with these, but I don't know if either of you has ever used them. And I wanted all three of us to practice with them for none of us have used them recently."

 

"They are meant for crushing and cracking the bones of Skeletons. The heavy weight will cut your range in Half - don't forget that, halving your range can have a bigger effect than you think if you aren't used to it.

 

"Additionally, they do less damage to most any target than a good war-point such as the leaf-bladed points on most elven war arrows. Sounds like a poor deal, doesn't it?"

 

"But those war arrows are meant to cut flesh and arteries, which skeletons don't have. Against Skeletons with no flesh to rend, war arrows must cut bones -and this they do but with horrible efficiency compared to how they cut flesh.

 

"Yet the arrows you hold now, Stern," she addresses the big man as they four Chosen and two dogs turn into a practice archery range, "are meant not to cut, but to crush. They bend and snap bones - sometimes in a chain reaction. Against Skeletons - dry bones that they are - these arrows will do better than any warpoint designed by Human, Elf, or even the cunning Dwarves. So try these, and become accustomed to them. But on the trail, shoot them only against Skeletons - they are even called Skeleton Arrows - or you will hurt your other enemies less and waste an arrow that could be better spent on the target for which it was created."

 

With that, Jesset encourages them to shoot the arrows that she herself learned to shoot so long ago. Her thoughts now go back to Karrock - the strange vegetarian orc. A druid he was, and thought his people ate too much of the game and not enough of the plant foods and used his own life to tip the balance back toward some center that only he could perceive. But he was also cunning and wise, and could fletch just as Jesset could. They spent many a day making their best imitations of these uniquely Elven arrow heads.

 

And truth be known, they came so close to death so many times together, it could likely be said truthfully that using these arrows saved their lives.

 

Of course, in their two-person crusade MANY things could be said to have saved their lives....Luck not being the least.

 

She watches as her friends learn to feel the different range and flight of the new arrows. Then she herself tries her hand: Hmm. I think I'm better at this than I used to be. All the practice I've had at archery has paid off, I suppose, even tho' I haven't used these arrows in many a year.

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Mykayla listens with slight interest to what the king has to say. All well and good, send us to do his work and when it’s all done we will get a polite pat on the head, there’s the door don’t let it hit you on the way out. She sighs mentally to herself.

"Thank you, your Majesty. Your generosity will be most useful very soon. For this expedition, I will need some specialized supplies. Mykayla, Robert - you both use the bow! Why not come with me? We can find some Skeleton Arrows in this city, I am sure. It has been some time since I needed any, but where we go, we may fire quivers full."

She is about to reply saying she doesn’t need a bow when Robert speaks up.

"I hear and obey, Oh Jesset"

At Robert’s terse words she looks up sharply at her lover. From his posture she can tell he is less than pleased, no doubt because the Kings deems those of the group with out title or name to be beneath his notice. Ah, my love if I had known we would be here now I would have prepared you for the lofty attitudes of my people. Though you and Cuchuliann are getting but a mere taste of what I put up with after my powers manifested themselves. She watches as Robert leaves the room, and thinks dismally I hope after seeing how my people really are doesn’t make him reconsider our relationship. Seeing they are being dismissed, Mykayla rises, Curtsies and leaves the room.

"Robert, what'll ye be needin' from town ma friend?, N' what about ye Myka? What have ye got in mind ta aid in tha cause against tha undead hordes?"

 

“I meant what I said in there Stern, if it were up to me I would leave them all to their fate. But if we don’t deal with it now, we will deal with it later when the undead advance on Searoad. Better to put a stop to it now than to endanger those who live in have given us acceptance and succor these past many months. I have no need to go to shopping. I wish to retire to what ever ‘quarters’ will be assigned to us. I have some books and papers to study, new herb craft that I haven’t been able to look through, but Meg said would be useful to me. I need time to study them.” Looking over at Jesset she smiles wanly, “I have no need of a bow. It has been months since I held one and I find I do not miss it. Besides with my staff and sword I would be hard pressed to juggle another weapon.” She turns to Aifrik and asks “I assume quarters have been set aside for us, I wish to go there and relax and do my research.” Before leaving she reaches up and puts her hand on Robert’s shoulder, standing on tip toes she whispers something to him before smiling and touching the back of her hand to his cheek, then she waits for someone to show her to the rooms set aside for them.

LT

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Stern Kestrelmann smiles wide and nods approvingly as Jesset, the blue horned elf, accepts his pledge to guard her life during the undead campaign. However, this vanguard pledge certainly does not lessen the Aegis' on going duty to protect and serve all the Companions even if it means sacrificing his own life on the field of battle. And although this self-imposed duty and deep sense of responsibility weigh heavily on the young knight's heart, he would not trade it for all the platinum in Darakan.

 

Jesset's silky predatory voice pulls Aegis warrior from his thoughts...

 

"Stern - Soon I'll have that bow I promised to you. But I want to get you some unique arrows to go with it, and I have no time to make enough by myself. I was hoping that you three could come with me. I want to show you something..."

 

"As ye wish ma blue champion,... I look forward ta tha' day when I might draw a bead on tha enemy lookin' down tha' sights o' tha new bow... "Ye say it's made from ironwood? Impossible I'd say, fer tha' wood is hard as nails n' no' easy ta bend at all! Those arrows sound like jus' tha thing too, but if ye don't mind I'll be packing several quarrels o' piercing arrows as well..."

 

Stern speaks to the woodsman next, "Robert, cheer up now! We're in this tagether ranger! Jus' as always ma friend... Besides, I hoped I'd might be continuin' ma training with ye as well, fer yer skills with tha' bow are becoming stuff' o' legend... It has been an honor ta learn from tha best over tha past few weeks. Soon, I hope I canna put yer teachins' ta some use... (gently squeezes the base of the ranger's neck and smiles)... n' rain feathery death upon those who might oppose us."

 

“I meant what I said in there Stern, if it were up to me I would leave them all to their fate. But if we don’t deal with it now, we will deal with it later when the undead advance on Searoad. Better to put a stop to it now than to endanger those who live in have given us acceptance and succor these past many months.

 

Stern turns to the moon elf her eyes a blaze with emotion. The paladin responds with a gentle tone and kind eyes, "Aye, I know ye did lassie n' I repect yer position, but I am grateful ta know tha' ye'll be at ma side in the battles ta come..."

 

I have no need to go to shopping. I wish to retire to what ever ‘quarters’ will be assigned to us. I have some books and papers to study, new herb craft that I haven’t been able to look through, but Meg said would be useful to me. I need time to study them.”

 

"Very well until our return sorceress (bows)... Myka, would ye like me ta take Nighthawk n' see if I might get an enchantment er' two placed on her blade?"

 

Stern looks to Jesset and the others, "Well, les' collect those hounds o' ours n' get a movin'... I'd like ta see if I canna get one o' them elven mages ta place an Undead Bane upon Karamor... A helm, I'd like ta find nice quality helm n' a blunt killin' weapon as well... Shall we then?"

 

The giant paladin ducks his head as he passes slowly under the low archway of the door inevitably leading out into the streets of the elven city below.

 

SK

 

 

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"Very well until our return sorceress (bows)... Myka, would ye like me ta take Nighthawk n' see if I might get an enchantment er' two placed on her blade?"

 

Mykayla pauses a moment, her thoughts waring between her desire to not indebt herself to the elf king and the desire to make her friend happy. Finally she decides. Handing Nighthawk over to Stern she says, "Here, do what you think is best." And she turns to go to thier quarters.

 

LT

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