Balance

Weaveing Fate

Lunar Calendar Date: Unknown, Lunar Bag World, Bag Zone

Please Listen While Reading

Thaden shifted uncomfortably back and forth, meditation eluded him and he was restless. He watched Aury prowl back and forth pacing without knowing why. He watched the Goddess attempt to connect to the mortal lands, watched at the Schooner and Thorbil raised glasses to the lost Maddax. Watched Tardi poke through the broken Atomaton’s as her master cuddled with the Bard Valeria. Flit and Thalion whispered back and forth, first about plans when they emerged and then about plans when they returned to the ship, and Argyle; but quickly the weight of the situation brought them back to murmured yes’s and no’s and killed any real conversation from developing. Thaden wiped his eyes, it pained him to admit it, attachments were frowned upon; but he would miss the loyal goblin. If any in the group reminded him of a Guard Mouse it was Maddex. Such a senseless death, so much of it; if only he had been more vigilant… why had he gone into the bag first? A coward’s path he had taken, one he knew would haunt him and forever sit among his failures. He shook the thought away from his mind, and cleared the damp fur under his eyes… it would not due to distress the others; if they were not aware of their fate they soon would be; best they rest however they could in these moments of peace before reality dawned its ugly maw once more.

Thaden closed his eyes and tried to project his mind out into the bag wastes, tried to feel, to see, anything really. If he could at least find another bag zone, that would be hope, a chance or a direction, as it stood there was very little here. The vampire was late, very late. For something that should have been only a few minutes now more than three hours had passed. Even accounting for some kind of time delay between the two locations, too much time had passed. It was very likely the Vampire was dead, and that this bag was lost in some crevice or maybe thrown down that pit doomed to fall for eternity… either way, every hour that ticked confirmed that they’re was a very low chance of the bag being opened again. Flit and the Goddess required neither food nor water nor rest… that was good, Thaden himself would not need much to be able to carry on forward, but when he looked to the others, the child Tar-Di, the dwarves or Hakari and her lover, his heart broke… would they die of thirst out in the bag wastes? He shook the thoughts away once more… he had to focus, the answer is and always would be in the weave… he merely had to use it to find another bag zone, if they could make it to different zones then magical food and drink could sustain them and perhaps they could find another way out.

SPLASH

The small cask of ale spilled onto the ground, the precious commodity soaked quickly into the dusty sand below and was forever gone to them. His face went to his paw as he shook his head slowly, that could have been useful… but alas. Thaden took a deep calming breath and cleared his thoughts, he pushed out the Dwarf’s attempt to seduce the Goddess, pushed out Tar-Di’s complaints about boredom… pushed out everything and caste his memory back to the teachings of Meagre, their had to be away for him to see a path, for his minds eye to show him what to do next.

“It is not possible noble Thaden” the voice said as a ghostly image of a Guard Mouse appeared before him. Thaden was surprised to say the least, he shifted his weight to kneel before her

“Master… how are you?… I thought… are you not on the Champions Thrust?” Thaden stammered. The Ghost Mouse placed a very real feeling hand on his shoulder and urged him to stand as a peer.

“I was, but now have become one with the weave… Shepard attacked and sank the Ship, I was forced to join the weave or, or meet my end there” she said bowing her head to him

“The Thrust has sunk? What of the crew? Shepard attacked you? What about…”

“Hush now Thaden, Let us not dwell on what we cannot change, you are here now; and must keep your thoughts on the task at hand, it is more vital than ever that you succeed here” she said to him

“It is too late Master…” his head dropped looking down “We have failed here, and I cannot find a way out, I have tried… but I am no Master… you, you were my last hope for our people, for Argyle, and Shepard has taken it… has”

“No… none of that now…” she said soothingly “You are no mere Knight, and this is something that should have been done long ago… I will correct it now” she drew forth her spectral blade and ushered for Thaden of Rootwallow to take a knee, he did, noting that Aury, Thalion and Flit had noticed the spectral ghost and had moved a respectful distance closer to watch what was happening. “Guard Mouse Thaden please recite the code of Ashla and the Mark of a Guard for me” Thaden swallowed but did as he was told

“There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Weave.” He finished the words with a clarity in his voice

“So there is, It is the opinion of the Council of Masters of the Guard that you are a Guard Mouse Brave and True, that your experience has been trial enough and that you have shown yourself to carry with you the Shield of Ashla in all things. The Rank of Master Guard Mouse I now bestow upon you.” She touched the flat of her blade to each of his shoulders slowly “Arise Master Guard Mouse Thaden of Rootwallow, May the Guard Prevail!” she ended

“May the Guard Prevail” he echoed back to her. His head was a flurry, he had not thought it possible toe ver attain the rank of master, not truly, there were no anointed Masters left, and yet he had been anointed.

“My time here grows short Master Thaden, so please heed my warning” She continued “In just under two days the bag will open, and you will all be tested as you never have before; be ready. But do not mistake the quiet of this location as safety, something comes through the mists, and it will be here before the bag is opened… that is all I can offer… there is much to do and I am pulled many ways”

“Master,” Thaden burst in as she began to fade away “Don’t go… I have so many questions? Can A big be trained truly in the ways of the Guard? What of the nature of Bogna and Bendu? Are Clove and Tander ok? Has Arbor Portum Fallen? How can we hope to defeat Shepard? Does he have a Weakness”

“Master Thaden… Questions are the very nature of the weave, unravelling them is your job as a Master, Bogna and Bendu are not evil in themselves, merely a path that can easily lead one there… like all treacherous roads the rewards for those who make it can be great… but most who attempt loose all….” As she said the last word she faded to nothing leaving them alone once more in the Bag Zone.

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Trouble in Caina - Last

7th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:28pm, Throne Room of Darwheaton Castle, Cainia, Argyle

Please Listen While Reading

Harold “Prancer” Forbes, 7th son of the Late Harold Forbes sat on his fathers throne, his rapier laid across his lap as he stared past those assembled soaking in his family home.

“Darwheaton is fully our Sir, the remaining mercinaries have surrendered for fled, with Pardwell, Aravik and Narlington under our power we have control over Cainia once more.” Captain Treasurecoat said, reading the final report “There is like to be a few months of mopping up, but it seems OMARU has lost its taste for Cainia and is retreating into Glandora” he finished

“Your brother sent raven,” his Uncle Alex offered holding up a small note “He wants you to bend the knee to him as the true king of Cainia, else Narlington will be on the march… stuck up little twerp” His uncle spit on the ground “He doesn’t lift a finger to fight for the kingdom then when you have done the job for him he expects you to hand it over? If it comes to blows boy, you know we’re with you”

“You are the one who retained our services, the Slugs stand behind your banner” Commander Keeoto offered as well. Prancer looked down and smiled at them all.

“That is kind of you, of all of you… but the land is not yet free of the enemy and already we talk of waring with our own… I cannot do that…”

“You can’t be thinking of bowing to him boy? He did nothing while your mother and father were murdered… he…” His uncle raged

“He…” Prancer cut him off “… is the rightful heir to the throne of Cainia, and I will not war with my brother, no matter the disagreements we have… Commander,” he turned to the Dwarven Leader of the Fighting Banana Slugs “Please head down to the treasury, collect what is owed to your men, and what will be needed to keep them on defense of Cainia for the next six months… should my brother need more he can hire your services from there” The Commander sighed, he had liked the Prince and hoped the lad would have become the King, but alas he was only a mercenary and at the end of the day, their relationship was one of business

“Aye Lad, thank ye” he said

“I would like to purchase a light unit, as escort as well, I have business in the west, and could use the aid” Prancer continued

“You’re not staying?” His uncle asked, his face turning redder “The people… they need you”

“No, they need a king, and if I am here that will be thrown into doubt… besides… I have urgent business that I have put off for too long”

“Is this about a girl? You would throw away a kingdom for some girl?”

“I WOULD THROW AWAY A THOUSAND KINGDOMS!” He scolded suddenly angry, he leapt from the throne and stared down at his uncle, demanding he attempt to judge him after all he’d done and sacrificed “…for love” he said the last two words in little more than a whisper, walking down and putting his hand on his uncle’s shoulder. The older man pulled him into a tight hug

“I hope she is worth it, find some happiness boy, you deserve it” Prancer looked up form the hug and held his uncle’s eyes for a moment nodding a promise that he would. He then broke off the hug and turned to the throne giving it one final look before sheathing his sword. And straightening his coat.

“Tell my brother, his throne and kingdom awaits him” the disgust was barley kept from his voice, but still Prancer held true as he turned and marched out of the Throne Room of Darwheaton Castle, he expected he would never return.

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Wine Time the Fourth

25th of Reaping 383 ONT, The Underdark below Gibbly Caves, Western Shore, Lyithalus Vinyards, Elven Court, Argyle 1:18am

Please Listen While Reading

Versum looked at his assembled crew. Marscal was working with Barric to fashion more torches, Mordicom and Marald were coiling lengths of rope. As he and Bolgar and Taurcono stared into the caves. They had searched the island for any other caves or openings, to assure this was not a greater attack. They had informed the villagers of what was happening and had them be ready for wounded should they come. Versum had even sent Petra to see if Kreiger was on the island, a wizard would have his uses in this encounter… alas he was not at home, and whatever magics protected his home had spooked Petra worse than the thought of entering the caves after a roper.

“I know not why we are waiting, call the howl, let the hunt commence” Taurcono snarled

“Thesalour requested more time, his mission may require stealth, I do not wish to go rushing in howling and be his undoing” Versum said as his hand patted Rydell who was already in his wolf form, padding back and forth with nervous energy. Versum was no stranger to it, the hunt would be soon, and for all he worried about the situation and knew of its danger, he also craved it, craved to run and be at it. He also knew that this was what his pack needed, a hunt to bond them once more. The primal urge began to swell in his chest, and Versum knew that soon he would need to embrace it or let it take hold fully of him. “Trovel and Hallec, you will stay and watch the cave, assuring nothing comes out…. If the Pack is to Hunt, then we must run first, and their will be little of that in the cave” Versum declared, already pulling his shirt off. A toothy grin came from Taurcono

“AHOOOOOOOO!” He called, shifting as he did into a large wold with light grey fur. Versum quickly shifted as well

AHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The mighty Alpha of the pack let out the long howl, willing or not the other members of the pack shifted the wolves joined his howl

AHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Versum could sense, could smell more clearly the awful stick of the ancient evil…. His ancestors had fought aberrant during the great war… the instincts of purpose swelled in him and the energy forced his paws to action. Like a dart he tore across the beach calling his pack to order… 17 wolves fell into step with him, some taking his flanks others holding the rear, but he was at the point, where he should be. The Alpha wolf turned sharply towards the interior of the island, he would lead his pack on one final sweep of the island, then that was all the time he could buy for the elves, his pack could smell blood and they would have it… roper blood.

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Blood of the Goddess Pt 4
  • 6th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 9:19am, Chestnut Grove, Honastica, Argyle*

Hagnon watched as Cenon and Pelious jogged the new Phalanx around the building, they were short on weapons and shields, but each person needed to be ready to take the place of one of his men should they fall in battle. The battle yesterday had been thick, the Battle of the Dusty Gate as he had taken to calling it, more of a skirmish than anything else, twenty men at arms and two knights trying to rush the gate and take the property by surprise. the new recruits had done a reasonable job with their slings and his men had held the line, killing almost fifteen and sending the others into retreat. His scouts had reported though that a mass of almost eighty-five men were camped at a neighboring farm, it would not be long now until that battle was begun in earnest.

POOF!

a puff of red and purple smoke appeared not twelve feet from Hagnon, his gladius was in his hands in seconds, and to his appreciation, Pelious had already begun wheeling the phalanx around. In front of him stood an elf. He had long hair of a golden brown colour that he wore tied back in a tight braid. his robes were scarlet red and around him he had twelve crates laid out in a circle.

“What Sorcery is this?” Hagnon questioned pointing his sword at the elven wizard

“Hagnon? of the Champions Spear? King of Thefia?” The elf asked in a near bored tone.

“Yes,” The King answered warily

“Sign here please” the elf said producing a large wooden bored with a piece of parchment attached to it, the elf produced a quill seemingly from nowhere.

“What am I signing, what is going on” Hagnon demanded as his men approached. The elf rolled his eyes clearly annoyed

“Look, my orders are to port these crates here, deliver them and this letter to Hagnon, and then strafe the surrounding farms with a few fireballs before teleporting out. So, either you are the King of Thefia and you want this stuff, or your not, and I will keep looking… if you want it, hurry up and sign” the elf snarled. Hagnon stared at him for a long moment but took the quill and made his mark at the bottom of the page. the elf looked it over once and nodded, taking the board and quill back, he then reached into his robes and produced a scroll tube and handed it to Hagnon. “Pleasure, now if you will excuse me, I have work to do” with that the elf murmured a spell he form shifted to that of a robed dwarf, he than rubbed a charm that caused him to take flight flying towards the nearby farm to the south. Hagnon shook his head in wonder at the odd serries of events, before popping the cap on the scroll tube and reading the scroll inside

To: Hagnon, King of Thefia, Captain of Champions Spear

From: The desk of the assistant to the scheduling secretary of Erindale, Master of High Sorcery, Highport, Elven Court, Argyle

Hagnon, Captain

Do to promises made to Sir Thalion Alfrin, we have decided to aid you campaign against the humans in Honastica. At this time it suits are needs to be left as a silent partner in your war endeavors. As such please consider the provisions here your property to use how you see best in your efforts (a full list enclosed). As your successes continue you can count on one such delivery each week until such a time that our obligation to the above mentioned parties is considered fulfilled, or you have completed your/our mission, or you and the bulk of your cause have demised. We hope that this intervention helps you with your cause and that whatever fates, entity or gods/goddess that you pray to offer their blessing on your journey.

Respectfully

Apprentice Allanth Deothis, Red Wizard
Apprentice to the Scheduling Secretary of Erindale, Master of Sorcery
Tower of High Sorcery
Highport, Elven Court
Argyle

Hagnon scratched his chin as he flipped to the next page to see what was in the crates before him

40 dwarven blue steel tipped spears
40 dwarven heavy steel shields (round)
40 med kits
12 potions cure serious wounds
24 potions cure moderate wounds
36 potions cure light wounds
4 detailed maps of Southern Honastic marking slave prisons and military barracks
2 schedules of Grey Corsair and Eagle Knight Patrols along Elven Borders
200 days iron rations
2 collapsible stingers with 40 launching spears (enchanted with fire)
20 dwarven made suits of leather armor (human sized)
1 spy glass
300 feet of silk rope
20 combat packed bed rolls
60 dwarven steel daggers
40 dwarven short swords
100 fishing hooks
300ft of fishing line
50 lures common to Honastican River Fish
1 picture book about edible plants common in Honastica
12 dwarven made steel bear traps – with instructions
1 compass
19 whistles
4 signal horns
2 small casks of pitch
1 box (24) candles
100 tindertwigs (with instructions)
40 backpacks
40 waterskins
50 empty sacks
100 smoke pellets (with instructions)
2 books, (empty 100 blank pages each)
12 quills
19 vials of ink
2 siege tower feather tokens (with instructions)
4 catapult feather tokens (with instructions)
2 Ram feather tokens (with instructions)
8 Tree Feather Tokens (with instructions)

Hagnon Scratched his chin again as a large smile came to his face… The Goddess has indeed blessed he and his men, now with these items had had the capacity to wage a proper war… one that would truly cause the enemies of his Goddess to pay for their transgressions against one of hers. HE WOULD NOT SUFFER ANY SLAVERS, he would do AS SHE WANTS

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Wine Time the Third

24th of Reaping 383 ONT, The Underdark below Gibbly Caves, Western Shore, Lyithalus Vinyards, Elven Court, Argyle 10:51pm

Please Listen While Reading

Ser Onus Thesalour forced himself to move forward, using the chalk to steadily mark his path. He focused on his training, his life skills and experience and tried to drive the Should Not’s from his mind, as they threatened to undo him. He had sworn to himself years ago that he would not die in a cave, that he was done hunting the evils that rotted bellow the surface, and would spend his remaining days in peace… now look at him… he forced the thought form his mind, forced himself to recite the marching song from when he worked with the Sons of Treefall

…but I…. will hold on hope
…and I…. won’t let you choke
… On the noose around your neck
… and I’ll… find strength in pain
… and I… will change my ways.
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

It helped… a little, it pushed the fears down a little further and allowed him to slide through another two tunnels. He heard something now, a deep burbling laughter, a rumbling hideous noise that would make a demon quiver in unease, the sound was that of a Roper experiencing joy… he had found his quarry. Carefully the elf climbed a wall that took him high and let him look down upon the scene. The roper stood situated in the centre of the room, and they’re were the two children, Samson and Amber… by his reckoning Amber was maybe seven, and Samson was little better at nine. The children would try and run for one of the four cave tunnels that might lead away, and every time they were almost there, a giant tentacle would smack down on the ground blocking their way while another one would lash at them until the moved closer to the maw of the beast… then the sick creature would laugh and ignore them for a moment to let them try and again. The fear welled up in him again; maybe with one kid he could roll into the room, dazzle or blind the creature and grab the kid and run, equal parts skill and luck would let him out distance the creature and get them away. But their were two kids… two, and the Samson kids was a shade on the portly side, the odds of him being able to carry both for any distance, or to roll or tumble with them in his arms, it was an unlikely outcome… a new plan was to be had.

At starfade a time comes
When you see one brilliant star left behind
When the starry host has departed.
The star fades, the world does not wait.

Why do I linger and sing
Under this fading/mortal light?
There is a daisy among the elanor blossoms
To me it is fair.

There is a birch tree under the mallorn trees
To me it is fair.

There is a butterfly above the swan
To me it is fair
.

A spark/small star follows Sirius
To me it is fair.

The leaves of the mallorn are numberless
One tiny leaf, one fading leaf
Holds my eyes. When will it fall?

The brilliant star is fading
Now it departs the heavens
Now I will depart the world
Holding a leaf in my hand.

Onus projected in his best stage voice as he entered the room, his sword was sheathed and he recited the ancient poem as best he could in it’s original elvish. The beast stopped its laughter and turned its tentacles ready to strike, but instead it paused and heard him out. As Thesalour finished he waved his hands with a flourish and entered a deep bow.

“HURBLE YERBAL YOU SPEAK OF THE POEMS OLD, HERBLE I HAVE NOT HEARD IN TIMES NOT RECALLED, WHAT TRAP IS THIS YERBAL HERBLE?” The roper groaned out the words, its every syllable sounding like granite grinding to dust.

“My intentions are true and honest, I come for the children, they are not much, poor entertainment, poorer nutrition… they will not do, not at all” Thesalour said to the creature

“My mom says I am very…” Samson started before he was cut off

SMACK

The back hand from the knight send the kid flying backwards to fall on the ground, slightly dazed. Thesalour had not held back at all

“HA HA YERBAL HA” The creature gave its grotesque laugh and while it did Thesalour hissed a whisper

“on your life and mine child, not another word, not until sun beats down on your face” Thesalour said nothing else instead turning to the beast as it’s laughter subsided

“HERBAL YERBAL ENTTERTAINED I AM!” It groaned

“As well you should, for whom among us cannot enjoy the tenants of the low brow and slap stick humor that the morons so flock to, but I see wisdom in that eye of red, a yearning for something deeper, something more… and so I bring an offer, something exciting and new” the creatures interest was peaked, the great eye was focused on him…

“YERBAL HERBAL… WHAT OFFER HERBAL YOU HAVE?” it inquired, a large chalky tongue hanging from its toothy maw

“No, before we speak of business, we must first, have another poem…” Thesalour proclaimed, immediately dancing back into his stage voice

In western lands beneath the Sun
In spring, flowers rise,
The trees bud, waters run,
And the merry little birds sing.
There it is cloudless night
And shuddering beeches hold
The starry host, the white jewels,
On their branching hair.
Here at my path’s end I am lingering
In deep darkness buried.
Beyond towers strong and high
Beyond all mountains steep
Above all shadows rides the Sun
And stars always dwell.
I will not say ‘The day is done’
Or to the stars ‘farewell’.

As he spoke Thesalour moved with the words positioning himself between the Ropers maw and the children, and placing it so the great eye would see him first and foremost

“YERBAL HERBAL I LIKE THE WERBAL, HERBAL YERBAL WHAT OFFER DO YOU BRING?” it creaked

“I bring the offer of a game, one that may well peak your interest, one that will surly inspire mine…” he saw the eye widen in excitement and knew that his plan had a shot, a faint one but a shot none the less. “I will remain here, and recite every poem and song of old that I know for you, I have collected a few over the years, but not so many that it will be endless…”

“YERBAL NO HERBAL, I WILL NOT HERBAL LET THEM GO HERBAL HERBAL” The beast snarled, catching on

“Nor should you, that is hardly a game at all” Thesalour forced out a laugh, “No my great stony friend, here is the game… I have marked the tunnels to safety for the children with chalk, as you are aware it is a long journey, they are small, tired and injured… if they had all the time in the world they may not actually make it, but they do not. For as soon as I speak a poem that bores you, or finish the poems that I know, you will devour me and begin the chase. Should they make it to sunlight, they are free. Should you catch them before they reach the surface, they are yours to continue to toy with until you are hungry once more. That, my friend… is a game” the creature closed and opened its eye as it considered the challenge, slowly its excessive stony maw curled into a cruel unforgiving smile.

“YERBAL HERBAL AGREE I DERBAL!” it proclaimed

“so be it, I will tell them where to look for the chalk, then begin my first recitation” Thesalour announced, and without awaiting an answer he turned back to the kids, pulling Samson to his feet and Amber in close. He whispered the words trying to keep what he could from the roper who loomed behind. “head me well,” he began popping a lip from a potion and feeding half to each… “this will quicken your pace for, and give you more energy to keep going, you know the glyphs of heroes of old? The ones in Gibbly Caves?” he asked, Amber nodded, Samson did to, though a little more slowly “Good, those same glyphs are in the hall, and they make a trail all the way to surface, do not tarry and follow the glyphs, no breaks, no food, just keep walking until you are back in the sun… do you understand?” he looked at them both, and undid the vial on his coat, the one that caused the room to shine like starlight. “This is Tinu-Gilgalad” he said, putting the vial in Ambers hand, “It will bring the star’s of the elven lands to even the darkest of places, hold it tight and let it light your way” Amber took the vial but rushed forward hugging him, tears began with her and Samson followed “None of that, none of that now, I need you both to be brave…” he said softly “… this is not your fault, people may try to lay blame, but I know of these things, and I am telling you truly,this is not your fault. Follow the glyphs, look after one another and…”

“HERBAL YERBAL TIRED A GROW”

“Of course,” Thesalour said loudly, offering the children one last hug before turning them towards the correct hallway and giving them a little push to get them started “… be brave… be brave for me” he whispered to them as they began to job away, he then turned back to the beast “Are you prepared?”

“YERBAL I AM HERBAL” it cracked and hissed

“Then, so to am I” He lied, the darkness took the room as the two children made their way into the cavern halls and hurried to the surface… once again Thesalour was underground, alone and in the dark…. The fear came back, stronger than ever before. “Let us begin, with the Last Stand of Dalathan, A sonnet of 127 stanza’s” he cleared his throat and fought back the lump

There was a time when men were kind
And their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time that love was blind
And the song was so exciting…
There was a time… Then… it… all… went… wrong…

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Wine Time Continued

24th of Reaping 383 ONT, Gibbly Caves, Western Shore, Lyithalus Vinyards, Elven Court, Argyle 6:25pm

Onus Thesalour and Versum approached the cave system and looked in. The cave was a large natural formation that had a mouth about fifteen feet high. Onus laid his walking stick against the mouth of the cave and drew his blade. He then reached into his satchel and pulled out a small vile that gave off a gentle glow like star light, carefully he looped it into a handy thong in his coat and grabbed his stick once more.

“Thought you said the caves were safe?” Versum asked, questioning the bared weapon

“Like is that they are, every fifteen years or so I have to go in and remove an infestation of gremlins or nixies or the odd kobold, I am pretty sure we are fine, but never hurts to be prepared” he gave Versum a winning grin.

“Should I shift, just encase?” Versum asked eyeing the cave mouth

“You want to scare those kids to death?” Onus asked, and his tone implied he was actually asking “Might teach them to stay out for a few years”

“I’ll pass, hard enough befriending the locals without scaring their kids” Versum responded

“Fair” Onus chuckled and stepped forward entering the mouth of the cave. As they entered he turned to the left and looked up at the inside wall at a large outcropping, their, etched into the wall were a series of glyphs. Onus noted Versum’s questioning look “the third time I had to come through here I decided to write markers so I could find my way through more easily, the damn kids think they’re ancient writings from long dead hero’s, probably why they keep building forts in here” Versum chuckled marveling at the long-life spans of the elves as Onus read the directions and led the way through a couple of quick turns towards the back end. “You can see how they can get lost, especially if they lose their light, this turn here hides the tunnel and can be tricky…” He explained as they squeezed through the opening in the back end of the cave that lead to a juncture of three halls, the first two on the left would zig zag for about twenty feet and come to a stop, but the last one would open to a fare sized room, maybe fifteen feet around with a four-foot ceiling, that was probably where the kids were holed up, trying to remember their way out. The two walked the final hall and entered the room, but it was not as Onus recalled it. The back of the room had a crack in it, one that opened to be about two feet wide from floor to ceiling, and from it came a smell that shook the elven knight to his very core.

“What’s wrong?” Versum asked, the hairs on his neck standing up as some sixth sense told him of danger

“That crack, that’s a roper crack” Onus said, taking another sniff of the noxious air that exhaled from the crack in the wall. Onus sheathed his sword, he quickly pulled several vials from his satchel and secured them to different thongs on his coat, he did up all the loose tassels and ties on his coat and re-strapped his boots. He pulled chalk from his satchel and moved it to a pocket, then a long dagger from the bag and tucked it into his belt, a slender knife was tucked into his boot. At long last he took a thick unguent and applied it to his face, wrists, hands and any other skin that was showing. He looked to Versum has he rubbed the grey stuff into his skin. “They see by detecting heat, this will mask some of mine, make it easier to blend with air currents and vents”

“You don’t seem to have enough for two in there” Versum noted as the small tin was nearly emptied

“No, but that is fine, because you are not coming with me… ah ah ah” he cut off the werewolf before he could speak “I am only going to get the kids and come back… I am in no shape to kill a roper on my own, collect two thirds of your pack, get torches, glowsticks, potions and rope… set a guard outside the cave to assure nothing sneaks out while you prepare. I will either rescue the kids and be back to lead you down and kill the roper, or if I am not back in twenty-four hours, I am dead, your pack can either elect to take on the roper or, as I suggest collapse all the tunnels in the cave then the cave itself… they wont burrow all the way to the surface… understand?” Onus could tell that Versum didn’t like it, but the Lycan nodded all the same, with a quick hand shake the two parted ways, Versum back to the entrance leaving Onus Thesalour alone before the crack.

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Wine Time

24th of Reaping 383 ONT, Lyithalus Vinyards, Elven Court Argyle 6:13pm

Ser Onus Thesalour leaned back on two legs of his chair, striking a match off the window sill as he precariously balanced his pipe in his mouth. He smiled through gritted teeth across the table at Versum who had taken to enjoying an evening smoke with the Elven Knight in charge of security. Onus could see in the wolf’s eyes that he was also happy for the reprieve, his people had been worked and run as hard as anyone feasibly could over the past few years, and a break at a not so sleepy little vineyard, well that was just what the doctor ordered. The leaves took the spark at last and he shook out the match flicking it towards the fire pit as he puffed on the pipe a few times quickly to assure the spark would building into a happy little ember. That task completed he leaned forward putting the front two legs of his chair down while so he could reach for the hardy pinot noir that sat in the middle of the table, quickly he pulled the cork and filled a healthy goblet for himself and one just a strong for Versum.

“ ’Ow goeth tha patrols” he said with his pipe still in his mouth

“Fine, Marscall and Petra should be finishing the evening patrol, they will do another one in about two hours” Versum responded as he lifted his glass to his host and sipped the wine

“Good, more than enough” Onus commented, reminding Versum that he had said two patrols a day was double the standard, eight was a bit overkill. By the Lycans felt like they needed to earn their keep, and so regular patrols were happening. Onus took a long deep swig from his wine and took a moment to contemplate the complicated bouquet of truffle, rose petal and oak. He sighed with a dream laden smile coming to his lips and took another deep breath from his pipe.

“SER THESALOUR!” the door burst open, Paige Furfoot blasted into the room eyes wide in panic. Versum was on his seat in seconds. Thesalour placed his goblet on the table and gently laid down his pipe

“What is it Paige” Onus asked, his tone all business

“ Samson, Amber and Berno were all playing in the caves, Berno came back saying that a hole opened up and swallowed the other two.

“WHAT CAVES? WHERE?” Versum roared, his heart beginning to race

“Easy Friend…” Onus said raising his hands to calm them both, “There are only one set of caves on the island, over on the western beach… right Paige” he said turning to the halfling. He nodded a scared look in her eyes “Be calm friends, this same thing happened to your grandfather Paige, about 56 years ago, the back of the caves have some sharp turns and a few rooms, it is very easy to get lost back there, but no where for them to go… Paige, go back to the village, grab a few blankets and some snacks, the kids will be shaken when they come out… Versum, why don’t you come with me and I’ll show you the caves”. Onus rose slowly and shrugged on his leather coat, grabbed his walking satchel and put it over his shoulder, he strapped his sword belt on and as an after thought tapped out his pipe and stuffed it into his satchel. With that done he scooped his walking stick smiled at Paige once more and nodded for Versum to follow.

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Growing Pains Pt 3

23rd of Reaping 383 ONT, Highport, Argyle 6:15pm

Sir Thalion Ilvanya Alfrin, Knight of Quenya

Born in Novarthia, Son of Ser Ashryn and Delsaran Alfirin, youngest of three. Owner of Lyithalus Vinyards. Rank of Warden in Eagle Nights, Rank of Navasta in Grey Corsairs. Drafted by Admiral of Grey Corsairs and placed under the Command of Erindale.

- Captain and partial owner of Champions Fist and Champion Mercantile Company.

- Known to have active aggression with Sons of Treefall.

- Known to keep a small force of 35 soldiers including at least one gilded knight on Vineyard

- Believed to be highly aggressive

- Favours the Long Sword and Shield

- Trained Eagle Rider

- Fluent in at least four languages

Hikari Anakamoto

- Half Elf, Ships Wizard of Champions Fist, Known to bare the seal of Erindale.

- Confirmed to have paid off all debts of Haldir Numanor to the Red Tower

Casitan looked up from the page

“Not much here” he said to the chubby gnome who sat across from him. The gnome scowled

“You only gave me an hour, that’s a heck of a lot more than anyone else would give ya” The gnome barked back defensively

“Nothing more on this Hikari?” the Elf asked persistently

“Not sure what you want, a half elven sailor and Ship Wizard, no one’s heard of her, Can’t get a line on parents or siblings or even a home port. The Ship is new, and the entire crew registered in Lockland, but that’s just registration, my guess is they had the ship before then” the Gnome replied. Casitan nodded, none of this made him feel particularly good. He had asked around a bit about this Sir Alfirn and nothing came back positive. Involved in a trade war in the penny kingdoms, financing mercenary companies, sparing with the Sons of Treefall, he sounded like a fearsome fellow, and not someone one wanted to tangle with. His sailors were all heavily armed and had brawling reputations of their own.

“This does not appear to be a crowd I want to aggravate” Casitan sighed.

“That’s none of my business,” The Gnome said getting to his feet, “Are you wanting me to dig further or are you happy with this?” he asked rubbing his fingers together to hint towards payment. Casitan sighed and tossed him a small pouch

“This will do for now, inform me should the Good Ship Champions Fist arrive back in port please”

“You got it” the gnome said tossing the pouch in the air and catching it before showing himself out of the room. Leaving Casitan to think

“We will have to let him see Tanithil, I am sorry Salihn” Casitan said in a louder tone. A female elf stepped from behind a curtained portion of the room and came to sit at the table with the Wood Warden. her brown hair was short and shorn at shoulder length, she was short and slim and held the grace accustomed to most High Elves.

“we can’t Casitan, it will just cause him more grief, more trouble for everyone” she pleaded. the Wood Warden nodded in agreement but is words gave her little hope

“I know, it is not my will for it to be so, but I cannot afford a feud with a Knight of Quenya and the Master of Sorcery, until I know more of these benefactors we will have to make some concessions. Now… go and ready the boy to see his father, but make it known that the visit will be supervised, I will be along with Haldir shortly” Salihn wiped the tears from her eyes and dried her face as she prepared to go see her son, it would not due for him to think her as upset about this as she was. Once she mastered herself she left the room and headed up the stairs, leaving Caistan to get up and prepare Haldir for his visit.

To Be Continued

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A Dwarven Moment

Lunar Calendar Date: Unknown, Lunar Bag World, Bag Zone ??

Thorbil looked on in amusement from the opposite side of their makeshift camp in Lunar Bagworld, as his mistress called it, and cleaned his pipe. Smoking his pipe was relaxing for Thorbil but his mistress did not like the smoke so he had to choose moments when he could be sure the smoke would not reach her like now to enjoy it. It had been difficult to not give it up immediately when she’d shown her dislike. But Mistress Hikari was adamant that he be allowed to choose for himself and the concept of being a free and independent dwarf was paramount to her. So he kept it.

Free and independent yet created by magic from nothing to be Mistress Hikari’s devoted guardian. It was no wonder that when told that he had a choice that he chose to stay with her. He understood that it was the magic of his creation binding him to her but he really did not have any other purpose and felt that being without purpose would be worse. And the work was easy with good people and a good crew meant that he really had nothing to complain about.

He’d found an unlikely friend in Maddax, well unlikely based on what others said about dwarves and goblins, but the not-knight was a hard worker and willing to talk about anything honestly. His loss earlier was still hard to comprehend for Thorbil and he grieved silently for the loss of his friend. He’d raise a glass to Maddax once they finished their mission. But for now the best thing he and the others could do is kill these illithid-things and shut down this evil place permanently. That would serve as a suitable legacy and make Maddax’s sacrifice worthwhile.

Thinking of things he would like to have was a fun pastime given how little they could or had to do while waiting for Cassidy to let them out. High on his list was a proper dwarven pipe, the design mattered not but the size and craftsmanship he felt would better connect him to his people. It was difficult to be from a clan and know nothing about that clan or the people within it. One day, if Mistress Hikari agreed, he wanted to visit the dwarven lands. Metal beard rings would be nice. Maybe in cobalt or even some stone ones made of jade. Something other than wine or rum to drink would be a welcome change. Neither really matched his tastes and it had taken a while to come to that realization. Finally on his list of wants was more guards for his mistress. She was a mage and that made it difficult to keep up with her at the best of times when she decided to suddenly go off and do something. But more to the point was that he was but one dwarf and though strong and fit could not protect her and those she loved completely by himself. She spoke often of her dream of creating a new type of mercenary fighting force and he wished that it would start to become true sooner rather than later given the number of people he tried to protect and the situations Mistress Hikari was getting into.

Thorbil shook his head at how short his list was and wondered what others would say. Not that he was about to interrupt any of them right now. The goddess was doing her thing and the Schooner was doing his best to ‘improve the relations between churches.’ He turned and looked out to the darkness and sighed. The dark mist was called the bag wastes and was supposed to be the areas between bag-zones. Not a place to be lost in darkvision or not. But it was decidedly too quiet out there. It wasn’t the sound-amplifying creepy evil too quiet of their approach to the tower, but still did not let him really relax.

A look down to his war hammer and a fond touch to the well-made dwarven weapon was enough to keep his confidence high, not ‘I’m going to retire in two days and nothing can go wrong’ level of confidence. Just a confidence that whatever they face he will be able to help and they will find a way to win. Thorbil went back to lighting his pipe…

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Growing Pains Pt 2

23rd of Reaping 383 ONT, Highport, Argyle 4:38pm

Haldir Numanor seethed as he left work for the day, the Steward was a dick, he didn’t understand anything. Haldir had coaxed and sung many of the plants in the garden into flourish, he was a professional, an artist just trying to scratch out a living, but no, now their were overseers and managers getting on his case all the time about a few sick days and late notices… it was crap. He forced himself to take a few deep breaths, he had saved his job, had coin in his pocket. He was going to turn things around, and then he wouldn’t be bothered by the Steward. He flagged down a carriage and had it take him to the southern beaches of the Island. As he traveled they passed through the market and on a whim he had the carriage stop, he rushed into a tailors shop and quickly purchased a new suit, unwilling to wait for it to be altered it was a little baggy on his, but overall a market improvement. he went across the road and saw a small stuffed rabbit, the kind his son Tanithil would just love, he purchased it gladly and wondered down the block looking for a florist. Something that would wow Salihn was hard to find, he was a Gardener and knew at a glance that most of the flowers here were pedestrian at best, but still, it would be the thought that counted. He bought a large bouquet and flagged another carriage,

“Driver, please take me to Oridithas Manor, on the Southern Beaches” he said polity, and smiled as the driver gave the reins a gentle pull and his carriage began to move. It took the better part of an hour to get there, he waved the driver off to leave and approached the large sung wood gates of the great sprawling lands or Oridithas. He let out a long low sigh, he did not get on well with Casitan Oridithas, Senchal of Oridothas Manor and Wood Warden of the Eagle Knights. He was his wives cousin and had been a constant problem throughout his marriage. Haldir walked boldly to the gate, and was not surprised when a halfling clad in chain armor and carrying a spear stepped out of the shallow little guards cove in the wall. The Halfling rolled her eyes upon seeing Haldir approached, but Haldir did not let that slow him

“I am here to see my wife and son, please open the gate and announce me Alpedia” Haldir said to the small guard as he stood before the gate, not looking at her, but instead looking through the wooden spokes at the sprawling manor within.

“What are you doing here Haldir?” The Guard, Alpedia, asked in a tired tone “You know if you cause trouble I’m gonna have to rough you up again, no one wants that” she continued, trying to appeal to the elves sense of saftey and logic.

“Things have changed Alpedia, I have changed, and I have a new benefactor… A man has the right to see his wife and child, announce to them that I have come” he said, still not looking to the guard but staring forward.

“They don’t want to see you Haldir; please go, if you make me get the Senchal involved he will demand to bind your banishment with law this time; then you won’t ever have the chance to come back” She implored, Haldir ignored her staring ahead, his hand rose reaching for the latch to open the gate. fast as a snake the spear reversed and the but end wrapped him on his knuckles causing his hand to relinquish from its course to the latch “Don’t” she said all empathy gone from her tone. He turned with a look of rage and anger on his face stopped himself before he responded in violence; he had learnt long ago that he was no match for the Guard of Oridithas Manor.

“Well,” he said sulkingly, “I won’t leave until I have seen my wife and my son, you cannot keep them from me any longer” Alpedia looked at him for a long time before letting out a long sigh…

“Have it your way, I will inform the Senchal you are here… don’t say I didn’t warn you” she said the later under her breath as she stepped back into her guard alcove and disappeared from sight. Hildar waited as the minutes ticked by, usually he was then invited into the manor he could then slip his escort and find his wife and son. All he needed was chance to talk to them, to explain how everything was different now and that their lives were getting back on track.

At long last the gates opened before him, but instead of Alpedia waving him forward to enter, instead their stood Wood Warden Casitan Oridithas. He stood wearing the uniform of an Eagle Knight, his golden hued chain shirt, long bow and quiver over the shoulder and long sword at his belt. His left hand rested easy on the grip of the sheathed sword with his other hand on his hip. his head was cocked to the side and his expression was that of someone who had little patience left.

“We have discussed this before Haldir, you cannot just come by here, go no and I will forget this matter” The Wood Warden ordered, his voice was soft and melodic, but their was a tone of warning there, a tone that showed decades of command experience and indicated that this was a person whose advise was usually heeded.

“Things have changed Casitan, She is still my wife, I deserve to see her, I WANT TO SEE MY WIFE AND MY SON!” he yelled past the Eagle Knight hoping his tone might be heard

“They cannot hear you Haldir, and this display is not convincing me you should be allowed a visit” The elf said, his voice dripping with disappointment, he turned to Alpedia “If he does not leave on his on accord within the next five minutes, please…. Convince him of errors, and see that a carriage takes him back to his section of Highport” The elf turned to walk away as Alpedia began walking towards him, her spear but held out in front of her,

“Come on Haldir, let me waive you a carriage, no one wants this to get messy”

YOU CAN’T DO THIS! YOU BASTARD! YOU CAN’T STEAL MY FAMILY!” Haldir roared as he ran past Alpedia. The Halfling dropped into a crouch and swung her spear wide tripping Haldir and causing him to land at the feet of the Wood Warden.

“Sorry Wood Warden” she apologized as she moved towards Haldir, this time the point of her spear pointed squarely at him

“Think nothing of Alpedia, I…”

“I HAVE A NEW PATRON! THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW, THEY WILL SET IT RIGHT!” Haldir yelled as he tried to rise from the ground, a swift thwack across the back with the spear kept him from rising any higher than his knees. The Wood Warden paused for a moment, likely debating if it was worth engaging with Haldir at all, he shook his head begrudgingly

“Who is this new patron of yours? and what does it have to do with us?” He asked pointedly

“I… I ’m.. uh” He stammered trying to put the words together “Hikari Anakamodo is my patron, she is a wizard working for the Great Erindale himself! She sails with Sir Thalion, Knight of Quenya on the Champions Fist of the Grey Corsairs… she wants me to be with my family… you cannot keep them from me!” he choked out. Casitan looked at him long and hard before saying anything. It was not uncommon for people to yell out names of famous people, but Quenyian Knights and Ships of the Grey Corasirs, few paid attention to such details in common conversation

“Get him up!” Casitan said tersely. Alpedia grabbed Haldir by the arm and quickly pulled him from the ground and dragged him up onto his feet. “Take him to my lower study, and keep a guard on him at all times, he does not leave that room until I can confirm what he has said and who this Knight of Quenya is” Alpedia nodded and ushered Haldir to move forward. Haldir dusted off his new suit and shook his head as he began to wlak forward

“Ms. Anakamoto and Sir Thalion will hear of my treatment Casitan, you can count on that”

To be Continued

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