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Lady Tam

The Darakan Chronicles

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The guard may be unfazed, but Jesset is not. Despite her typical grace, the blue archer stumble-steps when reality again coalesces around her. By the time the Guard has descended the platform, the Wizard is herself again. Glancing around the platform as Shan responds to the King's Own, her eyes finally settle on Warricks, and the two share a telepathic communication that only true love or powerful magic can convey.

 

As she leaves the platform, her gaze takes in the fullness of her environment. This is no Bole, she wonders. This is a city such as Searoad dreams it might become after another hundred generations of building and art. I wish that the Servants' had taken me here during my apprenticeship. Surely I was as deserving as Nalthon and Eredel.

 

But deserving was never the issue, I suppose. I was raised to keep to the borders - and beyond. This I have done. Will I be rewarded for it now? Was I born for a fate different from the one I was raised to?

 

This city of glass - it is worthy of a king. It carries a beauty and delicacy deserving of the elves, and like us, its strength is transparent. This is nothing like Searoad. Searoad is a city that fits Janchu - and Janchu is a fitting leader for it.

 

How well will the King fit this land?

 

Her lover interrupts her thoughts: "Nervous, beloved?"

 

"Yes," the sinister-born elf replies. "Should I not be in meeting a king? I have no skills at court, like you.

 

But I think it should pass well, this meeting and the duty which makes it necessary. Could they be inviting me for any reason but a martial need? I may be a scholar among this group of wandering Witches and Warriors, but they have archivists here who forget more than I could dream of learning. They must want me because I have been lucky in war - at least lately. And with you nine coming with me, well... You are my luck.

 

"And it will feel good to play the Servant of the Aspen again. Perhaps they will even promote me? If the King blesses my deeds, I may be a servant of the Rowan before midwinter - whatever contention exists within my own branch of the Order in my Bole."

 

With nothing left to say, Jesset falls quiet again, admiring the bronze, glass, and glades while carefully reminding her hand not to take Warrick's in clasp. The King doubtless knows already, but there is no sense in flaunting our relationship.

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"Wow..." Cuchulainn says as he lands on all fours once they phase back into reality. Panting heavily, he uses his staff to help him stand. Once outside, he turns to Robert.

 

"The Sun. It smells different here. Can you tell Robert?"

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Warrick's light frame feels even lighter, like he is somehow being lifted by unseen hands gently lifting him by his stomach. When the swirling stops he stumbles in the circle as though he dropped from a low height but wasn't expecting it. He is quick to regain his feet but the uneasy feeling persists, though he does his best to cover it.

 

Awe and wonder wrap his features as his eyes try to drink in the Elven city. Never has he seen anything that could be called a city and be so beautiful.

 

How can they keep the walls so white? And what could assault such walls as tall as they are?! A wall of glass?! These things are unheard of! Who can...?

 

A budding voice at the back of his mind where his professionalism has retreated finally gets heard amidst the Scout's marvels and forces him to consciously regain his composure. He forces his wide eyes from a child's awe to the honed, narrowed and suspicious information gatherers that they are.

 

After all, the wiser voice in his mind warns, this is still a city. And all cities have an underbelly, regardless of how stunningly beautiful they might appear. In fact, the most dangerous women I've known have been the most beautiful. So sharpen up, Scout of Searoad! Ever vigilant, ever to serve! Besides, I'm sure I'll be crawling through this city's sewers soon if we hold to form...

 

His attention turns to Jesset, who may be experiencing the sight differently than he. He is concerned for her, especially since these Elves apparently worked hard to seek her out so far away from her home. He remembers a conversation between them that took place on the walls of Rockfist and realizes that this homecoming will be at once joyful and sorrowful. A promise fulfilled, he now stands in her homeland, but the experience must be bittersweet for her.

 

 

Her lover interrupts her thoughts: "Nervous, beloved?"

 

"Yes," the sinister-born elf replies. "Should I not be in meeting a king? I have no skills at court, like you.

 

But I think it should pass well, this meeting and the duty which makes it necessary. Could they be inviting me for any reason but a martial need? I may be a scholar among this group of wandering Witches and Warriors, but they have archivists here who forget more than I could dream of learning. They must want me because I have been lucky in war - at least lately. And with you nine coming with me, well... You are my luck.

 

"And it will feel good to play the Servant of the Aspen again. Perhaps they will even promote me? If the King blesses my deeds, I may be a servant of the Rowan before midwinter - whatever contention exists within my own branch of the Order in my Bole."

 

He nods quietly to himself and leaves her to her own thoughts, satisfied with what she has revealed in what she has said and left unsaid. His thoughts meander to his own first time in his king's court and the memory cannot help but evoke a smile. But that is a story best saved for a time when she needs a laugh, and might come in more handy after she has made her own first appearance at court.

 

Schooling his thoughts, he adjusts his backpack and begins noting the coming and going of the Elves, searching for observation patterns, armament, and movement techniques. His eyes scan the walls for obvious and hidden defenses as well as their guard complement. The Scout does what he was trained to do.

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Hi all. Sorry about the delay.

 

--begin--

 

As the Companions orient themselves to their strange, wondrous surroundings, they slowly gather once again towards the Guard, who begin to take them through this amazing city.

 

Training and instinct let the Companions of Beleah form a loose circle, eyes and ears sharp for any untoward attention from as yet unknown forces. But the amazement of the city holds too tight their attentions, and even the most jaded of the group stares in awe of the smallest things.

 

The city, for its cleanliness is an old city, in the fashion of the ancient Daraka Empire. Great sweeping vistas and towering buildings. An engineering art lost when the great libraries of Daraka, jewel of the Great Southern Sea became naught but ghosts and smoke. Bridges longer than a bow-shot criss-cross the city, so sturdy that buildings, shops and townhouses rest upon them. Walls of smooth stone greet them at every turn, clean to the point of sparkling. This city is truly amazing. Planned aforethought, each street is wide, with room for stalls on the sides as well as room for people to pass with ease. No cramped and packed rabbit warren is this, but a graceful, elegant swan of a city, beautiful and haughty at the same time.

 

The Guard truly shine in this land. Even among the Shining Host the little folk bow to the Guard. For they are the sword and shield of the King, and anything less would be dishonorable. The four Guard command as much respect as a company of Searoad's men-at-arms, those lesser in station making way for the crimson warriors, even horsemen pulling their beasts aside to let the warriors and their charge past.

 

In this land of luxury, there are areas for those with even more than their kin. Great, sweeping mansions rule this area they travel in. People with more important matters reside in these walls. Their destination reached, a pair of silver-wrought gates open of their own accord, the faint touch of Magick can be felt. Past fountains with waterlily, past the immaculate house staff, and into the richly appointed mansion the Companions enter. No sign of warrior or constable can be seen, the Shining Host is a more civilized breed than the grubby Mon'Keigh that reside in their dirty little hovels they would need no armed man to keep a rogue at bay.

 

This mansion is stunning, a crown jewel in a treasure trove. Open and airy, the soft sound of mockingbirds, swallows and robins can be heard in the trees that grow in the atrium. The Chariot is most welcome here, his rays warming but not burning, every flower and blade of grass reaches up in thanks to the Chariot.

 

The Guard bow to the staff, their job has been finished, and the Companions have been delivered. They whisper their spell of transportation, and blur out of exhistance, their destination known only to them.

 

A houseman comes to the group, his gray hairs giving him the look of an old lion. Age touches even the Shining Host, and this one's back has begun to crook from the burden he carries. His clothing is burgundy and black, fitted to his trim frame. Wealth dictates fashion, with broad cuffs folded back almost to the elbows, and almost comic lapels. Gold buttons shine against the deep fabric. He bows with grace that would put Warrick to shame, and his smile is honest and genuine. His name is Aifrik, welcoming you to his master's estate. Should you accompany him, he will bring you to the library. Worry not about your items, they will be taken care of for you. Would you wish a drink? The finest wines and spirits are yours to ask. Aah! A brother of Saint Marcus? Welcome, indeed. Lord Flame? An unexpected pleasure! Do come in. We have your favorite wine, as well. You are all welcome in King Atolin's estate.

 

Such pampering to the Companions receive. They are on edge, to be sure. One does not casually arrive and break bread with a King. But this time, the Companions do. Aifrik uses his decades of training to put the Companions at ease. The fruits and cheeses the finest in the land, the wines and even beers are excellent. No harm or drop of poison comes to the Companions. The library where they rest and take their meal is beautiful as everything else. Scrolls and tomes line three of the walls, floor to ceiling. Dwarven craftsmanship is seen in the ingenious rolling ladder that goes around the room, giving access to any collection of wisdom this room offers. The fourth wall is glass, showing the lands to the north of this city of magic. Far off dark clouds form on the horizon, over the stone halls of the Dwarves. Something stirs in the foothills of the north. Nothing is known to the Companions, but the feeling is that they will be traveling there soon.

 

To Shan, a prize memory lurks just under the dark waters of his mind. Never has he been in this place, but it is as familiar as a favorite tunic. He knows this place, long has he spent the days here. This is a place of knowledge, of his personal memories and insight. This room speaks to him softly.

 

In time, a one-eyed Elf of advanced age enters the room. His clothing inky black, a fortune to create, and fitting him perfectly. Despite his age and missing orb, he moves with jungle predator grace. Full of life and busy as anyone could be. No cloak or crown of office nor signet ring does this Elf posess, but no Elf could mistake King Atolin One-Eye, Liege of the Woodland Realms.

 

In deference to those not of Elf Blood in the room, he speaks in the Common Tongue of Man. “So, you are the Chosen of Lady Beleah, are you?”

 

--End--

 

--LSH

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Upon reaching the Library, Aifrik puts Jesset at ease not merely by food, but by generous assent to her request to touch, even open, the books collected here. Tho' she eats a small bit with her Companions, she exchanges many looks of wonder with both her lover, Sir Greywynd, and her shadowed friend here called Lord Flame. Perhaps those two can best appreciate the horned-one's enthusiasm for the tomes. Yet Shanhaevar is clearly distracted by thoughts not bound by the present, and Warrick understands the magical power of words only by observation, not experience.

 

As soon as her nervous stomach is as filled as is comfortable, she rises to wander. Staying clear of the sets of books Aifrik has asked her not to touch, she eagerly absorbs the title of the others. Murmuring over and over to herself, she commits great numbers of the titles to memory, and even opens a few, reverentially, reading tables of contents in those that sport them.

 

She also reads passages from several aloud - in at least FOUR different languages - and comments gleefully on not only the incredible information contained, but also the beauty of the scribes calligraphy and the poetics of the writing. Even the etymology revealed by the language of the books is not beyond her comment, even if it might be beyond the interest of some of her companions still more interested in delicately spiced food than finely pounded paper.

 

Perhaps she is overwhelmed, or perhaps she is merely nervous at being found holding the King's books should anyone enter, but several minutes before the King enters, she ends her search through the stacks of a library that dwarfs the combined book-holdings of all the members of the Raven's Roost in Searoad where she found her master. Done with her wanderings, she sits again in a comfortable arm-chair by her beloved Scout.

 

"I must have more time to spend here when the troubles that brought us have ended," she whispers to her only companion to hold a court title. "I have already learned of the existence of 3 spells I had never before heard tell of. I wonder if the formulas still exist... O, Love. It will be hard to suffer under the gaze of those who think you beneath them, but I would give much to spend a month in this library. "

 

Gazing about herself quietly for the next several minutes, she takes in the wonder of a room with more books than she has seen coins in her sesquicentenarian life AND a wall of glass letting in not just light, but a view of beauty unlike any she has ever seen. For reasons kept within herself, she quietly begins to cry. Warrick reaches out a hand to touch the back of hers. Meant to be a gesture of comfort, instead her tears stream all the more. To prevent any audible sobs, she closes her mouth and swallows while opening her nostril-flaps wide to breathe as much as possible through her nose.

 

Closing her eyes, she consciously slows her breathing and eventually stops her tears. The moment the King enters, her cheeks are still shining from the watery tears her hands have swept away.

 

It could not have been unexpected, after all the Companions were escorted by the Phoenix Guard at the request of the king. Still, for Jesset Ferryl to see the legendary One-Eyed King is to be overwhelmed. Quickly she stands and quickly she executes the stylized bow expected of an elf before her monarch. Despite her natural grace, this is certainly among the least courtly of bows the King must have seen in many a year. The whole of the event weighs upon the elf, and takes its toll. Tho' the original summons came for her by name, when the King's question comes, she finds herself unable to answer...or even to raise herself from her bowed position. As she waits for someone to answer, for anything to break the tension, she keeps her eyes studiously on the floor.

 

The floor is beautiful too. What is it made of? The work that has been invested even in the surfaces destined to be scraped by boots and discolored by shed dirt... It puts to shame the loving construction of the tree-homes of my bole. Amazing I did not notice it before.

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The young Aegis of Rockfist too allows himself to relax a bit under the soothing and charismatic skills of houseman Aifrik. Stern continues to soak in all the elegant surroundings of the elven city, however once the Companions are left in the King's Library the paladin's mind begins to wander...

 

St. Marcus yer presence is known even here in tha land o' elves, truly blessed is tha power o' St. Marcus... Aifrik seems a good man, 'er I mean elf... This place, me grandmother's stories, I always thought them a fairy tale, but she spoke nothin' but tha truth, no wonder she missed this place so and longed to return...

 

Not being much of a scholar or one for reading too many books, the Aegis of Rockfist adjusts his short sword and then feels for Karamor's sheath upon his back. Then the giant Corpus warrior moves over to the glass wall overlooking the lands to the north. The young knight peers out through the transparent wall, watching closely the dark clouds and feint flashes of lightning in the distance.

 

Something is wrong n' tha answer ta why we've been brought here lies out there some where. I can feel it in me bones. Keep 'em safe Stern, tha' is yer duty above all else...

 

 

As the elven king enters the room, Stern, pulled from his deep thoughts, turns his back to the glass wall and follows Jesset's lead. The mighty Aegis slowly takes a knee and bows his head in supplication to the elven leader.

 

In deference to those not of Elf Blood in the room, he speaks in the Common Tongue of Man. “So, you are the Chosen of Lady Beleah, are you?”

 

Stern still kneeling looks up and speaks low and direct, "Aye, yer highness, tha' we are... I am Brother Stern, Aegis of Rockfist, loyal disciple o' St. Marcus... I am at yer service m'lord.

 

SK

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Throughout the trip to the King’s place, Mykayla keeps her face carefully neutral, falling back on the schooling of her youth. Having lived for some time away from her own, she finds the never changing city of the elves to be stagnant. Once they reach their destination, she takes a chair and quietly waits. She remains polite to Aifrik, but doesn’t let him lull her into a false security. Too many bitter memories will allow for that. Adia for her part looks about with great interest, taking in everything with her bright eyes.

 

When the King arrives, she rises and offers a curtsies herself, but let’s others answer the King’s question, having no great desire to attract too much attention to herself.

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When the King arrives, she rises and offers a curtsies herself, but let’s others answer the King’s question, having no great desire to attract too much attention to herself.

 

Cuchulainn takes a page from Myk's book and keeps himself nutral in all manner of things.

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Robert recognizes the Elven king from the fireside tales of travellers in the forests of his home. Though no courtier, he has been brought up to show respect, if not deference, to those of authority until they show themselves unworthy. His bow is perfunctory, more of an inclination of the head and in the silence that follows Stern, he finds the courage to answer.

 

<E>"I am Robert of Loderan, your highness. Woodsman and hunter."<E>

 

He is a little surprised at Mykayla's awkwardness but thinks better of introducing her when he sees her stay at the group's rear.

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Warrick makes himself comfortable as he enters the castle and offers Aifrik courtesy due his station. A castle and its inner workings he can understand and his confidence waxes despite being in an unfamiliar land.

 

O, Love. It will be hard to suffer under the gaze of those who think you beneath them, but I would give much to spend a month in this library.

 

"My dear, you needn't worry about that. I can always find ways to entertain myself and despite what they may think of me, they have no way of knowing what I am thinking of them. So let us stay for as long as your heart desires. I am perfectly capable of making bold amounts of trouble wherever I go..." he adds cheekily.

 

When her tears come, Warrick touches Jesset's hand but says nothing. Great. Now what did I say? I suppose I've disrespected her people and she can't even discuss it with the king due in any moment. Why can't I keep things straight? Fie! Where's that Aifrik? My glass is alarmingly close to empty and I need more right about now...

 

Sighing quietly and trying to work out how to apologize the Scout remains silent even as he tries to will more Elven wine into his cup. When the king arrives he rises and offers his best bow, though he is now aware that the best he can hope to do is not insult anyone else for the rest of the day. When the king asks his question, he remains silent after Stern takes the lead. Warrick deems his own presence in the company well nigh irrelevant so he remains quiet unless he is addressed directly.

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Shan sighs upon entering the library and allows Aifrik to do his duty with a smile and a nod. Comfortably ensconced in a chair near the glass wall, Shan looks out over the lands at the approaching storm.

 

It is good to be back...

 

Unbidden the thought rises to his head. He looks around and frowns as if deep in concentration. Seeing Jesset rise, he gets up and idly runs a hand along some of the books, walking back and forth... letting his mind wander where it will. He smiles as he steps around Mykayla sitting stiff in her chair.

 

She looks as uncomfortable as I imagine dear Ametrine would.

 

He nods to Stern before stopping cold and whipping his head around.

 

Ametrine. Dwarves. Earth. Earthlyte. Of course...

 

He runs to a section of the wall and begins scanning book titles intently, picking out a few and flipping through them rapidly, before either discarding them or pushing them back in place. He paces back and forth searching more rapidly before stopping and turning to a faded scroll, high up and tucked back into a shelf. Casting a minor spell, a disembodied hand of flame reaches up and brings the scroll into his hands.

 

He carefully unrolls the old scroll, the lambskin yellowed with age. He reads it intently a few times, his faces pales and he reaches out an unsteady hand to support himself. He is about to say something, but turns as the king walks into the room

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Hi all. Yes, this is the Monday Posting. I keep this up you all might expect it of me... :)

 

--begin--

 

The King accepts all manner of courtesy with a nod. While skilled in statescraft, pressing matters keep his attention on the here and now.

 

He crosses the room, standing near Stern and looks out to the north, to the gathering clouds darkening the horizon there. The mountains that guard the east have their white mantels of snow already tight around them. It will be a chill winter, indeed.

 

Atolin takes a moment, the working side of his features grim as he presses his lips into a tight line. He finally turns, looking to the assembled Companions of Beleah.

 

“Firstly, I will have you all know your names are not unknown to even myself. Your deeds of heroism in confronting the mad Regent have come to my ears. On a personal note, I wish to thank you for uncovering that rancid mess before it became far too late. I have wept for my cousin, for he was one of the first to fall to those sickening animals, the Sorrowful Men. His death was the reason we sent you, Lord Flame, to Searoad to discover what happened to him. When you yourself disappeared, we feared the worst. It is good to see that you still have a card up your sleeve.”

 

The King steps to the plate, picking a small piece of fine cheese. He thinks as he chews, a well known habit of this fair and just King. Not one for indecision, he knows what must be done, and it is only a matter to tell the Companions how they may best be of service.

 

“Now, this next part those of you of Elf blood will know, but the rest of you are woefully ignorant, so I shall slowly and carefully explain...” even when pleading for help, the Elves are insufferably arrogant about their worth in the lands. “Now, understand something. When Daraka fell, five-hundred and eighty-seven years before your time, the war was far from over by then. The mad emperor who reigned in those final, dark days used terrible magicks to fell many of our troops. Not only did they use magicks to throw mountains and make a warrior's blood boil to steam, but they also used foul magicks that withered the toughest soldier to a husk. On our travels to this land, many of our families passed to their ancestors. Unlike the lesser races, we do not burn their bodies, but keep them whole, to honor the flesh that made so many triumphs and sacrifices to us.”

 

At this point, the old Elf's remaining eye hardens to flint, his lip curling back in contained wrath. “And now, those very honored dead are rising forth to attack my people... my people! I have sent a company of my Guard to the north, to fight this menace, and to stop that which does this to our sacred dead. Three sevensdays ago, I received word of what had happened to that company of Guard. They are all dead, and now they have joined the ranks of Hel, attacking and slaughtering those who would oppose them.”

 

The King reigns in his temper once again. In a calmer voice, he says. “Do you have any knowledge of what an enemy would be like? To know that should your shield brother fall this day, you may see him at your spear tip the next? Do you have any possible idea what terror that would instill in your troops?”

 

Atolin pauses, letting that particular horror sink into the Companions minds. “No father would wish to be in a position that he must ask others to help his child. But I am the father of this Kingdom! Everyone who swears their life to me, even the lowest servant is my child. I have fought, clawed, battled, swore, and killed to make this our home. Every stone placed upon another I helped make. Every letter on every parchment in every building is there because *I* made it happen. Every single soldier who died stopping the madness of Daraka, of releasing us from that yoke I swore would rest in peace!”

 

He stabs a finger to the window, to the north where dark clouds gather. “There! There is your enemy, find the creature that *dares* to disturb the slumber of my people, and crush them!” he calms down, his legendary fury becoming like a sharpened, honed blade. “Crush them, and there will be no limit to my own, and this Kingdom's thanks...”

 

--End--

 

--LSH

Edited by lstormhammer

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"The Earth Mother demands that such a sacralidge of the sanctity of life be paid back ten fold!" Cuchulainn says as he pounds his fist on the table near him.

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Passing by Jesset, Shan lays a hand on her shoulder and moves in front of her, trying to pass the scroll behind him into either her or Warrick's hands.

 

"Yes, your majesty. Thank you for explaining so carefully and slowly that even I could understand it." His eyes reflect once again the glow of the morning sun, a tell tale sign that he is upset about something. "Cuchallain, here, is correct. The walking dead are a blight upon the soil. Their mere existence fouls the water and taints the air. Where are the other aspects that the four of us may meet on this?"

 

Burning sky... what if I'm wrong?

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Blasted undead. Scores of undead. Elven undead. St. Marcus shall see us through, now n' ferever jus' as before...

 

Stern looks to Cuchulainn, then to Shan nodding to both before turning to face the Elven Lord once more. The young paladin's face tightens, the deep scar on the left side of his square jaw pulling taught as he speaks...

 

[E]"M'lordship, in tha name o' St. Marcus we shall crush this undead army n' put yer people's spirits ta rest once n 'fer all! Ye have ma word, as tha Aegis of Rockfist n' one o' tha Chosen o' Beleah."[/E]

 

The mighty Aegis then turns his gaze back to the glass wall and the ominous northern view. As the dark clouds in the distantance pulse with lightning, the tormented whispers of a thousand undead spirits probe the young paladin's mind.

 

Evil awaits the Companions once more.

 

I am the Aegis, I am the Protector, the Defender, I am the Guiding Light...

 

SK

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