Balance

Faith of the Heart Pt 2

21st of Floodtime, Parvan Fields of Antioch, 4:09am

“Master Chalum… we can’t stay here… we need to go!” Ozwack called over the sizzling and crackling of the fires. The request was pointless, there was nowhere to go. Both ends of the valley had now been blocked by the flowing magma, fires raced up the valley walls. A skilled climber like Maul-Chalum might be able to pick his way through and escape, but he had about two hundred people with him, and the unconscious Curtis as well, he’d never get them all out.

“Oswack, if you and Soaz want to go, I won’t blame you, take anyone who can fly or you can carry, but there is no escape, this is where the Goddess wanted us, this is where we are” he looked around seeing the haze of heat in the air, the rise they were on would ignite soon, the death’s of the younger more fragile of their group would soon be on his hands.

“I told you Master Chalum, we will not leave you” Ozwack stated, Soaz accenting his point with a little tingle of a bell. Maul looked around for a sign, The Goddess could be subtle, did he miss a turn, a path or a cave?

“We are here! WE ARE HERE!” he cried into the night “WHAT WILL YOU HAVE US DO? THEY NEED YOU GODDESS… I need you” he said the last as a whisper.

Cough cough

“Curtis… are you ok?” Maul was by the little faun’s side, the faun nodded

“water…” he croaked. And quickly the wild elf pulled forth his skin and unstopped it. The water was warm and leathery but the faun did not complain

“Curtis… I’m sorry… I… I led us to…”

“To exactly where the goddess wishes us to be my friend” The burnt faun said

“But… but…” Tears were in Mual-Chalums eyes, he knew that death was upon them, even if his friend was too delirious to see

Please listen while reading

Curtis began to sing softly, a gently hymn to the Goddess about Faith. Maul couldn’t help but smile, he supposed if this were to be the end, then so be it, he would die with faith, as a believer. He joined into the song, grinning wider as he heard Levan and Oswack, even Soaz join up. It wasn’t long before the rescued villagers began to sing as well, even with the tree’s sizzling around them, waiting to explode into flame, still the people on this little island in a sea of magma sang out to the glory of the Goddess of the Night Wind.

It was Levan who pointed up into the night sky first, seeing the giant black wings of the angelic woman. As the beats from her wings brought fresh cool air to those below and cast out the smoke that threatened to choke them.

“I Am ARIUK, First Storm of the Goddess of the Night Wind. Fear Not Mortals! Your Goddess has Heard Your Prayers, and Wishes You Spared on This Night!” her voice swam across the breeze bringing hope and comfort to all who heard it… somehow each knew that Ariuk spoke to them, in their native tongue. The Ordinal landed stretching her wings wide as her eyes caste across those assembled. She reached out grabbing a shaven dwarf huddled among the survivors. “You dare to act as spy or traitor? I see your heart, and you will turn to the Parvan as soon as these people are free” with an easy flick of her wrist the dwarf spun head over foot through the air and landed out in the sea of magma, screaming in wretched pain until he sizzled away into nothingness. With the grim work done she looked at those assembled “Come closer now, Our Goddess loves you all, and will see you safely through this night.” With the people moving in the wings of Aruik stretched and grew as she wrapped them around those assembled, protecting them from the heat and fire and sheltering them from the falling burning debris. It only felt like a few moments but it must have been hours… or perhaps days as when she pulled her wings back, it was day. The magma had hardened to stone and was cool to the touch, the fires had long since burnt out their course leaving husks of tree trunks, the ground was coated in a thin grey ash.

“What now? Where will we go?” a villager asked

“I cannot lead you” Aruik stated, “You must follow your own mortal breeze, but were I mortal, my path would follow that of the Prophet Curtis” she said pointing to the Faun who for the first time was completely speechless. With her work done she looked above, high up a small vortex of clouds began to form, her wings thrust her from the ground and she flew into the eye of the vortex and disappeared. Moments after her departure the vortex calmed and dissipated, leaving them standing in the barren fields of Antioch once more.

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Creation

Time Unknown

Location Unkown

And so it was that the oceans of the ether roiled and churned the great tides receded and bubbled and through the turbulent surface sprang a great oak… rocketing into the sky the mighty oak was over one hundred miles wide, and ever onward is shot towards the sky branches ever snaking out leaves blossoming as it took its place in existence. As the sun set towards the twilight hours the great oak finally began to take its root and shape it solidified into a great structure filled with burrows that led to homes, to markets and theaters, to happiness. Great palaces and homes nestled within the branches of the mighty oak and took shape. In each cardinal direction a great branch shot arrow straight at the end forming a great watch tower. On top of each tower a glisten of magic and substance from the ether pulled together to create a form… to create life.

The Northern Citadel had a light coating of frost over its walls that were built from the great Aurora. He took the form of a man, his hair dancing with the colours of the great aurora his skin a slight tinge of blue; His eyes that of the cold winter wind… and so it was that Tuath, first of her Cardinal Winds had come to be.

To the South at the same moment the Citadel came into being, its walls a shimmer of heat as it met the cool air. She was formed of warmth, of grace, he long flowing hair her silky skin, she would be a bringer of comfort. She was Deas the Southern Cardinal Wind and she had come to be.

Great billowing clouds came in from the east, large and fluffy to form the walls of the Citadel, the clouds began to shape her as well, she would bring in storms, and push forth the rain, she would wash the battle field anew and allow regrowth to begin. She was Eir the Eastern Cardinal Wind had come to be.

As with the East the West brought in silky stratus clouds that made long smooth walls of their Citadel. The formed up large muscles and great billowing beard with long corded hair. He would fill sails and send those out to find adventure, he would push back his sister’s storms and labour to turn the great mills… He was Iar, the Western Cardinal Wind had come to be.

As Each Cardinal Wind came into existence they knew their purpose, it was clear, and each took off flying into their direction with the mind and purpose of their goddess. Their Citadels began to gently way and shutter always guarded by their essence and breeze

At the top of the Great Oak sprawled the Palace of theGoddess of the Night Wind. And at her gates a leaf blossomed and from the blossom formed a women. She was well muscled with dark hair and great wings of black that sprang from her back, spirals of gold twisted and turned as the wrapped around her body in an intricate set of tattoos. As she looked up the Four Cardinal Winds blasted her from each direction and she was filled with the love and desire to serve the Goddess of the Night Wind. She was Ariuk, First Storm of the Goddess of the Night Wind and Ordinal of her paradise. She was knew and young, she would have liked to learn of this new land, to bask in the glory of her Goddess’s creation, but that could not be, not now, her goddess had work for her to do and she was created to serve. She turned and entered the mighty Oaken Palace to find passage to the Land of Argyle, where her Goddess had business.

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Ship Life

23rd of Floodtime 383 ONT, 5:45pm, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

The Hold

Taaj looked at the little area between the stacked grates of leather and sighed. A few blankets and a pillow had been brought out for him, but for the foreseeable future this would be his home. He looked over his shoulder to see Rick leaning in the doorframe looking at nothing in particular.

“Thank you Mr. Turd” Taaj offered allowing the man to leave if he wished.

“Actually, its pronounced Turid… Turid” the guard responded with a hint of annoyance

“My apologies Mr. Turid, I am well settled now, you need not occupy yourself with me if you have other pressing matters”

“Ah, no worries buddy, Captain was crystal clear, you are eyes on until further notice, you pee… I hold it kinda deal” his tone was cordial enough but his eyes implied he couldn’t care less about Taaj, his comfort or his wish for privacy.

“Well of course…” Taaj said with a disarming smile, “I was curious, do you know where Mandy…”

“Master Carpenter Doyle?” Rick interrupted in a warning tone

“Yes, do you know when Master Carpenter Doyle might be available?” he finished his request, starting to get annoyed with the guard

“Nope” he responded

“Do you think…”

“Nope” he said again, cutting off whatever Taaj’s next question was going to be. Taaj let out a breath through his teeth, at this the guard turned to him “Look buddy, I’m not here to be your pal, I was told you might be a risk to the crew; and if I end up having to stick you later, I’d rather not be on close terms when I do. Captain said you could be on the bow deck or here in your quarters, Captain said you were eyes on until he said otherwise… Captain hasn’t said otherwise to me, so stop asking me questions, cause to save time, I either don’t know or don’t care… got it?”

“ya I got it… Mr. Turd” Taaj said eliciting a glower from the guard but little else.

The Mess Hall

“Can I just say, that this might be the best ship I have ever been on?” Nathan said, taking another large forkful of steamed whitefish with kale and figs. “I don’t think I ever ate so well, and a double rum ration on the way out?” he raised his cup taking a deep pull with a grin that stretched ear to ear

“The Captain is generous with his rum” Oslow offered with slightly less cheer as he dug into his meal

“or at least the first officer is generous with the Captain’s Rum” Arlan offered eliciting a chuckle from Nathan

“To Generous First Mate’s!” Nathan toasted, Arlan was quick to clink his cup

“Actually… I am pretty sure the Captain was ok with it, he and Mr. Fargazer are SUPER close, they fought together in Amberdale, and in Harbinger…” Jesse enthused

“Yes yes, I am sure if the First Mate or Captain need a bed warmer they’ll call you” Hugh said snickering at his own joke.

“I am pretty sure that Grippli don’t take concubines Mr. Herwy” said the dour voice of Guiome from his place at the end of the table. The Hugh glared at the large sailor.

“well… who knows what the First Mate needs, he did hire a legless sailor… lot of help you were up there.”

“Easy Hugh” Nathan jumped in “Guiome’s legs got broke, during the fight, not much he could do”

“That’s just my point Nate…” Hugh said taking a large bite of food while he talked “In every fight were going to have to be worried about the cripple and the kind of trouble that brings upon us, instead of defending ourselves or the ship… he splinters the twig and he is useless”

“I was ask you came over here and said that?” Guiome said in a warning tone… those assembled ooooohed at the threat

“I don’t know about this, Mr. Fargazer is not really tolerant of brawling on his ships” Jesse piped in, but Hugh had already stood up and was walking towards the cripple at the end of the table. A murmur of coins exchanging hands quickly rippled through the room as Hugh approached, leering over the cripple and grabbing his cup of water.

“what are you gonna do about it crutchy?” Hugh leered as he poured the water over Guiomes head, as the first drops hit the large black-haired man, his hands grabbed his plate and flung it out smashing it into Hugh’s groin, as the sailor doubled over Guoime grabbed him and flung them both onto the floor quickly offering a series of well placed punches.

Maddax had just come down the stairs and quickly registered the chaos in the Mess Hall, he readjusted his spear and was about to dive in when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he turned to see Flitt

“give them another minute, it’s good to let them establish their own pecking order… when things get serious then break it up”

“Aye Aye sir… the goblin said, a little uneasy”

Cannon Deck

Willhym pulled his hand out of the fifth cannon and pulled a lumped hunk of black sludge out.

“EWWWW” Deborah said as he dropped it into the bucket. “are they all like that?”

“Fair amount of water splashed in on the starboard side, I suspect the other two will have the same troubles… we’re gonna have to get them all cleaned up and dried”

“But didn’t the wizard say she could just dry it for us? Why do we have to do it?” she asked. Willhym rolled his eyes before responding

“Please put your left hand on the cannon Deborah” she looked confused but did as he bade… he slammed his fist down on her hand eliciting a yelp of pain

“Your on a ship now Deborah, and you report to me… The Captain will judge me based on your behaviour and attidude, and I only like being judged well… so if you have a question, we are gonna answer it right, else your gonna get a thump… the question you wanted to ask was ‘Didn’t MASTER ANAKAMOTO say she could dry the powder for us SIR?’” there was a long pause while Willhym stared at her, at last in a long mumbled garble game the new question

“Didn’t Master Anakamoto say she could dry the powder for us sir?” Willhym nodded and turned back to the cannon, pulling another handful of sludge out

“That she did, but we may not always have the good wizard with us, and you will need to know how to do this on your own and quickly… usually in a battle the Wizard has better things to do then be drying powder… now pass me that rag” he said reaching out. She grabbed the rag beside her and passed it, he stopped and looked up, she caught on quickly giving a slightly sarcastic but still acceptable

“Aye Sir”

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A Promise Kept Pt 1

23rd of Floodtime 383 ONT, 10:15am, Pardwell Crossing Fields, Cainia

Sir Horace let loose a series of four tight fireballs and then dropped to a crouch allowing Rand to step off his back and jump high enough to fire two arrows into the Gnoll Commander. The agile Ranger hit the ground in a roll coming back up with an arrow knocked but he held it, Sir Horace’s men had the enemy in a full route. The Ranger turned back to Horace with a grin on his face

“That was kinda fun” Rand said lazily firing his arrow and dropping a fleeing gnoll on the fringe of the battlefield. The knight regained his feet and stretched unable to suppress his own grin

“I would agree”

“You know you’re going to hear about it from the Queen right?” Rand said. Horace raised an eyebrow putting a mock innocent look on his face

“Her Majesty ordered me to escort these men to Don-Ton for the rebuilding of our embassy… I was told to get it done in under five teleport jumps… can I help that three of them just happened to be in Cainia? And that we just happened to land in a group of hostiles?”

“Very unlucky” Rand said in an attempt to look solemn

“I know right? What are the odds?” The knight said

“Enough that you are going to be in trouble when we get home” Rand said, a note of seriousness in his tone, but the knight would have none of it

“I believe a certain Ranger once told me that it’s fun to be in trouble” both of them broke into chuckles

“it is isn’t it” Rand said once again taking an appraising looked… they were eighty feet from the walls of Pardwell… there were clear signs of the Mercenaries there freaking out and trying to figure out what to do about this hostile force. “I guess we should get ready for the next jump?” Rand offered

“No…” The Knight said “I think we will take a four hour break here… let the men rest and regain their magical energies”

“Right here… 80 feet from the wall of the keep?” Rand asked incredulous

“Seems like a nice spot… with a good view” Horace said turned and dramatically scoping the little field

“You’re such an asshole… I love it” Rand said as they both laughed

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Faith of the Heart Pt 1

21st of Floodtime, Parvan Fields of Antioch, 3:04am

Please Listen While Reading

Maul walked up the hill, Curtis’s arm over his shoulder as he half dragged half carried the faun. Levan was scouting ahead as Ossawk and Soaz rallied the townspeople to follow them. The magma continued to pour out of the Parvan prison and flow in every direction. The Parvan army was scattered and burnt; Maul had been sure he could have carried Curtis to safety… but the Faun had insisted that they lead the townsfolk as well, that they find a way for everyone to escape. The wild elf couldn’t argue with the poor burnt faun. He and the team had rallied the townsfolk and brought them to the top of the hill… but what next? He didn’t know

.

“Curtis… Curtis wake up” he said lightly smacking the Faun on each of his cheeks… the Faun’s head rolled as he looked about trying to figure out what was going on. “Curtis… it’s Maul… which way do we go? How do we escape? Come on Curtis… we need you”. The Faun swivelled his head back and forth his eyes only slightly glazed

.

“We need… we need…” he whispered causing Maul to lean in closely “we need… to go into the wind… walk in the night wind… and the goddess will protect us…” The faun’s head slumped again as Maul straightened licking a finger and holding it up… he felt a warm breeze and shuttered looking to his left down the hill.

.

“Curtis… Cutis are you sure…” the wild elf asked “that leads us right into a valley where the lava is flowing… are you sure Curtis?” he so wanted to have faith… but instinct told him that the valley was a death trap. Staying here however was certainly not an option

.

“One is never wrong in walking the goddesses path” the faun said in a faraway dazed voice… the burns were bad, the wounds worse… perhaps the faun was not himself, maybe he wasn’t seeing what Maul was seeing. Making a run for the west towards the higher grounds seemed like what Maul would have done if he were on his own. The Wild Elf took a deep breath as Ossawk Levan and Soaz caught up.

.

“What is the plan master Chalum?” Ossawk asked. Maul took a deep breath

.

“I think the best plan is to go west, to try and stay ahead of this thing, and hopefully make the high ground before it catches us” Maul began pointing to the western hill range that was about twelve kilometers away “Curtis has said we should head to the east into the valley, as that is the path of the goddess” the ground looked at the path skeptically. “I am tired of living without faith, I am going to walk the path of my Goddess… I am going east” he said in what he realised what more than a declaration of action, but truly an act of blind faith, of trust. He locked eyes with his companions each one in turn

.

“Then we will walk with you Master Chalum” Oszwak said. Putting a hand on the wild elf’s shoulder. Levan reached up touching Maul’s knee as Soaz landed on his shoulder “wherever we go… we go together” with the action decided. Maul hefted the now unconscious faun over his shoulder, whispered a prayer to his mighty Goddess of the Night Wind and began to lead the goodly people of Antioch into the valley below.
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Shiver Me Timbers

Please Listen While Reading

“Repairs are done Captain, sails are cleared to be raised” Mandy said, with a smile of pride as she saluted Captain Alfirin.

“Very good Ms Doyle” The Captain said, turning to Flitt “Any sign on pursuit Mr. Fargazer?”

“All clear to the west Sir, and smooth skies to the south” Flitt responded smartly

“Very well Mr. Fargazer; Ms. Ouellette, you have the first watch, Ms. Beese, get us underway”

“Aye Aye Captain” the two women echoed. Aurellia heading up to the crow’s nest to her favourite perch. Teagan stepping forward and clearing her throat as the Captain disbanding the monkey crew.

“Bousn! Set the Main Sails!”

“AYE AYE MAM!” The undine called as he turned to the crew members nearest him “well gents, this is what we live for, let’s make this lovely lady fly” with that Callewn and Hugh took to the rigging to unfurrow the sails while Oslow and Jonathan took to the ropes. It was a clean transition as Ku-Aya walked the new crew through trimming the sails. They white sheets swelled as the ship began to pick up speed and race across the clear seas.

The Master Carpenter couldn’t help but stall on putting away her final tools as she caught the eye of Taaj, he was looking out over the ocean, his guard Rick and Douglas were not far behind him but gave him a respectful distance. She could see Ms. Hikuri and Tar-Di had emerged from below decks and were leaning out over the starboard, feeling the invigorating wind in their faces.

As the ship gained full speed the crew could feel a sense of satisfaction pass over them, a knowing that for now at least, they were free, they were sailing, and their problems, at least for a time, could not catch them.

The Captain turned to her First Mate. “You have the bridge Mr. Fargazer” he said as he moved to the stairs to leave, he paused for a moment, breathing in deeply and letting the last of the weight of Lockland drift away into the clear skies.

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Ship Aftermath Pt 1

23rd of Floodtime 383 ONT, 10:25am, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

THE BRIDGE

Teagan Beese took one more appraising look at the hobbled OMARU ship before turning the Champions Fist towards open-ocean. The fist was far larger and more seaworthy, it would fare much better away from land than their enemy and would have a better chance at loosing them. With the new course set she looked across the decking to see what needed to be done.

.

“BOSUN!” she hollered down seeing the undine working his way towards the mid cabin. He acknowledged her, gave an order to a crew member standing near him and hurried up.

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“You beckoned Ms. Beese?” Ku-Aya said with an air of calm

.

“Yes, what is our situation?”

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“Damage to the bowdeck is minor, the acid on the mid deck however will leave scaring and may cause problems, we also have minor sail damage but significant rigging damage, I have asked for the Master Carpenter to do a better assessment. I have crew members currently running a head count to am setting up mess hall as a temporary triage area for the injured, I will report on injuries once I know more, then should be able to give you a count on AB sailors and riggers” Teagan was surprised, the Bosun had struck her as a little flakey or airy in her initial conversations, but he appeared to be on top of things adequately

.

“Good,” She replied all business “we have the Monkey aid for another eleven or so hours, so see to the safety and health of our people first, then to repairs right after. The Monkeys won’t tire, but our crew will, I would like to have the sails up and running before that is up”

.

“Aye-Aye Ms. Beese” he said not offering a salute but nodding respectfully before he turned

.

“Oh and Bousn” she called seeing something past him on the mid deck

.

“Yes?”

.

“Why is our swab trying to mop with one hand while holding a parasol with the other?” she asked her eyes narrowing and locking onto Cassidy who was attempting to scrub a deck one handed while staying under a yellow frilly parasol

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“Ah… yes, apparently he has a strong allergy to the sun, and has the First Mates permission” the Undine Bosun replied “I see… dismissed” Teagan said, keeping her hand on the tiller and allowing the Bosun to go about his duties

THE MID DECK

. “Flit… Flit… are you ok, ya look like a wish gonna awry after midnight” Cassidy offered with a snicker seeing his tiny friend working his way across the mid deck.

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“I’m fine Cassidy” Flit said in a tone that did not imply being amused

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“Aight Aight, nuttin to get scundered about, just a bit o’ bolloxology twas all” the little frog gave Cassidy a long look of confusion. This happened a lot, Cassidy was getting more and more surprised about how few people actually understood perfectly good common. “If ya have a tic, I wanted to ask you about the Pounce and the Rumbly Muppet who met their unfortunate demise when they got langered by the acid wash… ya see, I’m knowing that your gonna want to wrap ‘em and drop ‘em aside all proper like, as behooves the poor rawny blokes. But before yer doin that I had clean on idea, the type that usually only drops in when yer full on the funny flour… so here it is, afor we be giving them the frop n’ fall I was thinking that perhaps we could drop a tap on the two o’ dem, put aside the sweet wash for a time when I might be having a powerful thirst… I can do it on the sly if that’s what is needed, heck the Rumbly Muppet already has a head like a bag of spuds thanks be to the acid, what do ya say?” it took a full minute for the little frog to respond, likely trying to translate the common into actual common

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“You’re asking if you can drain the blood of our two dead crew members”

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“Thar ya go, sayin it better than if I wrote a whole bloody poem!” Cassidy said snapping his fingers in excitement

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“No… No you can’t drain the blood from our allies, dead or not… they’ll be buried at sea as honorable members of our crew” The little frog declared somewhat indignantly.

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“Beggin yer pardon yer holiness, as I wasn’t aware that folk trying to be conserving finer things was a crime on this ship… ya say yer gonna go and toss them blokes into the deep blue… so what? That yer friend the giant killing machine can have himself a snack… I was offerin to share with toothy down there, but yer saying it all goes to him, how that for fair?” Flit stopped being forced to weigh the consequences of what he just said… he hadn’t really considered that Bitey would eat anyone ‘burried at sea’ and with biteys new found intelligence it certainly propelled this whole thing into an uncomfortable grey area.

.

“Well…” Flitt said floundering a little “I guess if you were to get permission from the command team, then I would be ok with it”

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“You want me to be pesterin the command team like a priest of Hithilum looking to get a an acolyte on his knees? Especially when the ship is gone all bunduggery and upside down?… I have a notion that their a bit tight minded for the next few hours… long at least after the sweet wash’s been spoiled” Cassidy said adjusting his parasol as the ship turned and the shadows moved. Flitt let out a long low sigh

.

“Ok… get that Captain’s permission, if ze says yes… take them below deck to ‘prepare them for burial’ I’ll talk to the crew about what this means for the long term when we have time”

.

“See I knew you were on the up!… When we get to port I’ll get ya locked out of your tree like a monkey who forgot his keys!” Cassidy said slapping the tiny frog on the shoulder, with that he turned around in a hurry to go about finding the Captain. Flitt ran his hands through his slimy little head… these were difficult times they were living in… weird wonderful difficult times
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Embracing the Flame
At the alter of Prometheus in Lockland

At one time I truly believed I was made for peace.. Serenely floating down life’s river, happily greeting peoples in all the ports of the mighty Promethian…

I thought that I could my joy among the clouds of sails that dotted the ports. That once i was among the proud sailors who hoist the clouds and race the winds that I would know true happiness..

I even found myself more and more drawn to the wisdom of the great titan and sought to find within my soul what I could not find in the water nor on the winds.. but surrounded by magnificent friends and allies, I felt I could not do enough for them, that without truly feeling whole I could never be enough for them…

When I was faced with the otherworldly gates of water and fire, I fled to the waters I have believed i knew, without ever truly pondering on the real reason the other gate was open to me. I had listened, but did not learn as i began wading down a path I thought was the one meant for me.

I had taken into myself only half the titan’s lesson, As so many others had in the past, I had chosen the easy path in following his footsteps, the flowing meandering trail through life kept within the banks, but no more. Though flow i may as the world lets me, i need be ready to ignite the very banks of the river and leap ahead past the slow and pondering course of life to strike out at the dangers ahead.

I know what i must become…

{Flitt pulls out the muffled bell taken from the necromancer in the river of life, and places it over the altar}

Now i see the path i must take, to face the challenges ahead, to defend my allies, to protect and bring glory to my lord and his followers.

{Pulling out a bottle of whisky, blesses it and begins to pour it over the bell and its wool covering}

I will wash the lands of the taint of Talib wherever i shall find it.

{with a force of will the Bells wrapping ignite, the heat of the blessed whisky burning rapidly heating the bell to a glow}

I will embrace the flame within me and bring its light to bear on those who would harm friend and ally.

{The wool padding on the glowing bell burns away as a glowing spectral scimitar coalesces in Flitts hand with a pommel like water and a blade like flame}

I shall become the flame dancing on the water.

{The now burning bell floats off the altar as if rising with a wave, three quick strokes, as fast as a flickering candle and the pieces drop onto the alter, smoldering}

Oh mighty Prometheus, Great Titan, Mighty Lord, accept my sacrifice, sanctify my flame, let me wash away those who harsh this world. Allow me to know the wisdom of both the Water and the Flame.

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Ghosts of the Past

21st of Floodtime 383 ONT, 2:55pm, the village of Glenrummy, Glenrummy Gorge, 27k south of Lockland Keep

Please listen while reading

Thaden walked along the perimeter of the small hamlet, taking in the lay of the land, and searching for an area where he could perhaps lay a false trail. He found a small path that led him into a small green clearing. The clearing was in full Floodtime bloom, with tall spring flowers, thick green grass and a beautiful set of standing stones. In a moment he was transported years into the past.

THEN

Walking down the steps in Rootwallow, towards the holy glade of the elders. Meagre and Willkin at his side as many of the Clava and small folk were gathered about the glade. He was so nervous, and excited. He a veteran Guard Mouse who had faced scores of Wyzels in battle was nervous; there was nothing on Argyle that would make him turn away.

“You will be down in the circle with me” Meagre said to him, “Dalla will escort the lovely Moria down through the people and join us there, do you know yet what you will say?” the Master Guard Mouse asked. Thaden ran his paw through his fur

“I have an idea, I have the emotion… but the words have not yet come…” he said nervously

“That’s fine…” Meagre said putting a paw on his shoulder, “trust in the weave, it will guide you”. Dalla broke the sombre moment by taking Thaden’s shoulders

“I can’t believe you are at last being wed!” she said with a giddy glee that was unbecoming a Guard Mouse, she pulled the tartan wrap from her purse to show them once more. The colours of Rootwallow the blues and purple of the wrap were intricately woven of love. Dalla had spent weeks learning the spells of the weave to recreate the Tartan perfectly.

NOW

Thaden was on his knees, tears pouring from his eyes as he stared down at what was left of the blue and purple cloth. It was dirty and frayed, much of it had been burnt away by the globs of acid and chlorine that the mighty dragon had spewed. Thaden let out a shuddering sob, the episodes of the past rarely haunted him, but when they came there was little he could do to stop the progression. He shuddered and dropped his paws to the grass as he was again taken away from the present

THEN

He leapt across the glade screaming at the Hedgie’s to run

“GO GO, BY THE WEAVE GO!”

“I got’em Chap, you cover our tails on our out” Basil had cried to him, taking the lead on escorting the people of Rootwallow to the underground tunnels that might lead them to safety. Thaden nodded to him and called upon the weave again to spring the rest of the way across the glade to the circle of stones. Halfway across his arc he felt the clutches of Shepard’s mystic powers he was thrown against the wall of the far side as the green dragon let disgorge its acidic cloud. Moria and Dalla were in the centre of the fire… choked screams emerged from them as the smell of burning fur filled the air. He had been vaguely aware of Meagre and Wilkin diving onto the branches above and distracting the enemy. He knew he should join them but he couldn’t he raced across clearing. Pushing the stones and chairs out of the way. He found Moria gurgling and sputtering. He raced around looking for anything to bind her many wounds… the Tarten, his sash that would have hand-fasted them, he tugged in clear and quickly tried to stop the oozing bubbling bleeding from his beloved.

“Moria…” he sobbed, his voice thick and heavy

“…” she tried to speak, but it was a gasp of pain and a shuddering cough that spewed and green gas form her lungs

“I’m sorry Moria, I’m so sorry” he wailed holding her as best he could, he felt the weave leave her, felt her move to the beyond… felt his heart go with her

NOW

He fell to his side shuddering, his body covered in a cold sweat, the old scars of the acid burns alive and on fire once more, the fear that immobilized him taking hold firmly. He gasped but he could only smell the chlorine and acid in his lungs and began to choke. He shuddered on the ground a seizure taking over as his memories haunted him with every detail of the past.

THEN

“THADEN! THADEN WE HAVE TO GO! WE HAVE TO GO NOW!” Meagre was screaming at him as the Master Guard Mouse reached out with the weave and forced the cloud of acid and chlorine to divert around their position. Thaden laid beside his love and best friend in a puddle of the acid, accepting the burn as his punishment for not saving them. Meagre grabbed him pulling him away from the circle. Thaden’s hands were in a death grip on the tarten, some of his loves fur ripped as he and the tarten were pulled away. He was being thrown over Meagres shoulder and watched looking back as Meagre ran across the glade dodging acid and attacks, as he made for the tunnel. “COME ON THADEN! I NEED YOU THADEN! COME BACK TO ME THADEN!”

NOW

“COME BACK TO ME THADEN, COME BACK!” Aury said as she pulled the Guard Mouse out of the little glade. She had not known what had happened, but had suddenly felt the deepest sadness and remorse in her life. It was as if she were being forced to watch Serenity die over and over. The sadness had nearly caused her to fall over, but then she felt it’s source, and felt real physical pain from it. She had raced back to the find Thaden unconscious and choking. She thought perhaps the glade was haunted or cursed and pulled him from the area, then tried her best to flood their link with love and happiness… thankfully her link to others gave her a touchstone to call upon, she doubted on her own she’d of been able to imagine what happiness felt like with the pain and anguish that Thaden was filling her with. The Smith was her source, nothing there but bubbling springing happiness she clung to that like a life line and dragged herself and Thaden from the cold oblivion of anguish and pain. She looked at her friend, her best friend who slowly opened his eyes

“Goodbye Moria, goodbye” he said in an exhausted whisper… at last the far away look fled his eyes and they locked with Aury… “Thank you my friend… thank you”

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Little Trouble Pt 2

21st of Floodtime 383 ONT, 2:43pm, the village of Glenrummy, Glenrummy Gorge, 27k south of Lockland Keep

Thaden of Rootwallow walked into the Smithy and stood before Theodore Reedrunner. The Hedgie Smith was calling to his son Morgan to leave the coal and only bring a barrel of the enriched dust that he used.

“How fares Master Reedrunner?” Thaden said making his presence known. The man stiffened a little and bowed his head in respect

“Guard Mouse” he said formally, before breaking into his worries “I don’t know that we can go… this forge has been in our family for eight generations, each generation making new tools for new needs… There isn’t room to take all my tools, or even my anvil… how will I be able to rebuild? How can I leave all this to be destroyed or stolen?” the Hedgie was too proud to weep, but Thaden could see he was not far from the prospect.

“Take the ten tools you use most often… and I will make room for the anvil… somehow, have your son bury the rest, if fate or chance bring me back this way I will endeavour to retrieve the heirlooms for you when I can” the Hedige’s eyes lifted as he looked at the Guard Mouse

“You would do that for us?” he asked

“There is no greater honour than to serve, I cannot promise it will be done, but I can promise that if it is within my means, I will make every effort to do so” Thaden replied solemnly.

“Thank you Guard Mouse, you are a testament to your people” the Smith said, and Thaden offered a slight humble nod

“Hurry Master Reedrunner, our time grows short, and now you have much digging to do as well… Aury and I will come move your anvil into the wagon when you are ready, please prepare the rest of your things. And remember, I know not how long this journey will be, or how far, bring food and supplies for the road, and clothing for the winter months, do not only pack your livelihood, you also pack for the lives of your family”

“Yes Guard Mouse” the Smith said bowing once more as Thaden left and headed for the next home, to aid them in their packing.

He walked over to the Millers home, and watched the industrious Ms. Elmtail packing bags for her family, he nodded to her and passed through the apartments to the Mill, where the Chipious was standing looking at the great mill stone and scratching his head.

“We cannot take it, I’m sorry” Thaden said

“Guard Mouse” the Chipious bowed with a start, he had not heard Thaden approach. “It took us three generations to get this built…”

“You will rebuild in much less time, I have companions who are better able to accomplish these tasks… go to your family… help them pack your things, bring only the tools you need and can carry, leave the rest” the Chipious bowed his head mournfully but nodded

“yes Guard Mouse”

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