Survival

Rune War Pt 24

19th of Patchwall 7:30am – Celestial Kingdom of Gabrielle Lord of Light – Cherry Blossom Island

Selwyn sat deep in thought about what to do, should she give it up, her knowledge of her Lords will, who she was, her home here in the choir? She was also conscious of the time ticking away, her people were dying in droves, and she needed the power to save them. At last she stood a decision made, she was startled to turn and see Asarus there.

“You have made your choice?” he asked. She nodded

“How do I do it?” she asked

“Merely say the words ‘I am a Servant No Longer’ and mean it… one final reminder Selwyn, I know your cause is true but you will never be able to come back to the choir, never truly again understand what it means to serve” she nodded respectfully accepting the wisdom but undeterred from her course.

“No time like the present I suppose” she said nervously looking at Asarus, he gave a barely perceptible nod, she wished for a moment that her mother was here, or Gabrielle it would make the whole ordeal easier… she took a deep shaky breath, conjured images of the noble dwarves and dactyls fighting the endless hoards of the abyss, her will galvanised “I AM A SERVANT NO LONGER!” she said in a strong proud voice. The last words she heard were filled with equal parts pity and respect

“Goodbye Selwyn Sudari” her world went dark.


Selwyn awoke in her bed under a small mountain of blankets; her heart was pounding she felt alive, more than ever before. She pushed the pile of blankets off and went to stand, right away she over balanced and tumbled from the bed gracelessly. A pang of pain and remorse hit her as right away she realised that she no longer had wings, thus no catching herself and falling into a heap on the ground. She untangled herself from the mass of blankets and already found that things were different, the room had an odd smell to it, the walls seemed darker and dirtier, the colours of the tapestries were muted and had lost their luster, and even the flowers kept by her sill seemed sicklier. She walked carefully to the tall mirror in her room already realising that it would take some time to get used to this clumsier form. She looked herself over carefully assessing her new situation, starting from the top and going down

Her hair once a beautiful golden blond had lost its natural luster, it now seemed greasy and out of place no longer magically combing and cleaning itself. It was also several shades darker, falling closer to a strawberry or honey blonde in colour, her hands ran through the unkempt greasy mess exploring it, she was shocked and surprised to see several grey hairs running through it as well… how could she have grey hair? Her fingers moved down to her ears and her heart sank, the gentle points were gone and they were now rounded… she was a human. She looked closer into the mirror trying to see every detail, her face was still her own… yet different, she was very comely her face having several pock marks and faded scars that had never before been there, crow’s feet danced at her eyes and signs of laugh lines and a once broken nose was also present. She looked further down taking in the rest of her appearance, it appeared she was a little heavier than before, and slightly shorter, maybe about 5’9 in height. She sniffed again trying to find the source of the odd smell, then lifted her arm and realised to her horror that it was her! Before as an angel and even as a half celestial she had almost never perspired and when she had, it was more like a light glow that accented her determination. Now her shirt was stained with thick musty sweat, she felt a griminess to her skin that she had never known before, and realised as well that she was in sore need of a bath; before dirt had rarely clung to her and she had never had an odor beyond the sweet smell of a summer glade… this was not a sweet aroma. Her hands, they were a workers hands and were thick with callouses of a women who worked as a warrior. her back ached, her knees were sore her shoulders were stiff, her nose was running and for the first time in her entire life she was alone. There was not the presence of Gabrielle anywhere near her, even as a half celestial she realised that she had still felt a glimmer of something, now she was perfectly devoid of his love and meaning, she was shunted from everything. Her eyes welled up and tears came unbidden, the thought of suicide raced to her mind, that this was a horrible existence and it should be terminated at once… it was only the thought of her daughters that pushed those dark plans from her mind, they needed her, her people needed her, Yolo needed her. Yolo. Would he even recognise her? Would he still love her like this? As a blotchy faced human? She sniffled again trying to push the thoughts away, she had to trust that their love was real, she had to have faith in it… faith, she needed to go to the church, to see Eyre she needed to know what she should do. Quickly she searched the room and pulled on her clothes; they didn’t fit well, and they were dirty, the fabric chaffed at her skin and felt heavy. She shrugged them on anyway grabbing her weapons and cloak. She pushed out of her room and headed towards the palace gates and city to Eyre’s home.

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Rune War pt 23

19th of Patchwall 6:04am – Celestial Kingdom of Gabrielle Lord of Light (outer gate)

Selwyn stood and shakily entered the gates of heaven. Usually she was met by a shield archon or a helm of light, not today. Today before her stood a full-fledged Solar, six majestic wings folded neatly at his back. Selwyn had never met him, yet instinctively knew his name and rank; this was Asarus second only to Azazial and Chief Commander of Gabrielle’s heavenly legions.

“Great Seraphim,” Selwyn said in holy awe as she took a knee and bowed her head before him. The angel said nothing, merely nodded his head that she should arise and follow. His mighty wings spread, and quickly he took flight, Selwyn swallowed her nerves and followed. It was odd, Her Lord always had an aura of comfort around him, though she felt the need for formality she was always at ease, and her mother was… well her mother and so she never felt a need for formality, but here with Asarus it was as if her body demanded that she kneel of her, every fiber of her angelic being knew that he was the head of her choir and that she existed only to serve, whatever he asked, should it be in the name of her Lord she would do, without question… she was unsure how she felt about this, logically she knew she should fear this, and yet it felt so right. At the slightest of twinges from his wing she knew she wished to speak as they flew and quickly, instinctively quickened her pace to fly just slightly behind him and on the left, no matter how she tried her body would not allow her to fly beside him as an equal, always about a pace behind and to the left.

In very little time (as well as she could reckon) they passed through a cloud and landed on a floating island, the island was maybe thirty feet around dominated by a large tree pink with cherry blossoms, the ground was a perfect layering of these wonderful blossoms making a wonderful collage of pink and white. Soundlessly he landed and walked towards the tree trunk. She followed stopping about five paces behind him and bowing her head in reverence. At last he spoke with beautiful musical importance, his words were beautiful ambrosia, if she were to die, his voice would be her request as a final sound to hear.

“Welcome Selwyn Sudari, she who has been risen, and serves as the voice; I greet you with open arms my sister”

“My Lord, mine is to but serve; name thy action and I shall see it done” the words came to her unbidden. The great angel sighed at her response.

“I had hoped that perhaps you would be immune to my aura, so be it… take ease Selwyn, let us make comfort and speak at ease.” His voice rang in a beautiful baritone as he spoke the words. Having been given the order to be at ease Selwyn found her body more under her control, she shook off the stiffness of her stance and as the great Seraphim sat on the blossom strewn ground so too did she. “Our Lord the I AM has taken his leave of this great realm and renewed our campaign on the fringes of the Ethereal Plane, even as we speak he leads our hosts in battle” Selwyn found herself nodding, it was impossible not to listen to Asarus as he spoke, every fiber of her being gave him perfect attention. “The Nobel Lady Azazial has left on business of a personal nature. And so I am left to deliver the word of he who is I AM to you” Selwyn nodded

“Selwyn, I cannot open the celestial gates of heaven and pour forth onto the realm of men, no matter how much I wish I could. To do so would allow the other gods to do the same at a time of their choosing, and our Lord does not wish either Kelezandri or the Black Hearted One to have such sway over your realm.” Selwyn nodded saddened deep down she had known this, and yet she had still hoped, her people were dying, the Seraphim continued “We wage the war on other fronts to keep yours from being overwhelmed, I have not the legions at my command to fight devils on every single plane, we must be careful Selwyn, our world is but an eddy in the river of the multiverse, and us but minnows amongst great fish, we can make the place uncomfortable for our enemies but we do not want to draw their greater focus” Again she sat silent “It must be hard for you dear Selwyn, to have peaked so young… you stand near the head of our choir and there is little more power that our Lord of Light can grant one of his servants…” he trailed off and Selwyn caught it

“but?” she prompted

“but… an Avatar it not a servant being, it is a vessel for divine power to be channeled through… an Avatar can perform miracles and unleash the Lords will” Selwyn absorbed these words thoughtfully, she had seen evidence of this, seen the powers that Anamachara, Aleau and Hansel could wield in times of great need. A thought caught her…

“I had not thought it possible for an Angel to become an Avatar”

“It’s not” he said definitively. And all the implications slammed into her she would have to fall, have to trust that she would be chosen, have to give up her position in the choir, give up her knowledge of Gabrielle’s will and develop… faith.

“Should I? Does he want me to?” Selwyn asked a little overwhelmed; it was a lot to think about. Asarus shook his head ruefully

“No one can advise you on this it is a decision you must make on your own… but I will warn you, to fall is permanent, you will NEVER again be a member of the choir… how you proceed is your own choice… this island is here for you, when you decide I will return and it will be made so.

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Rune War part 22
Waiting is the hardest part

19th of Patchwall – 6:00am – Tukin

Selwyn knelt before the alter in the chapel. Her nightgown clung to her skin, sticking to the sheen of sweat that covered her body. She clasped her hands together, and rested her weary head against the cool marble edge. She was exhausted.

An hour after falling into bed she had awoken to a cascade of spells that seemed to only build in ferocity. At first her bed had been filled with snakes, their scales caressing and constricting. The next moment they were gone, replaced by a monitor lizard, then dire wolves crowded around her. Bats and bears, apes and hounds, more creatures than she could count. Every spell sucked more and more of her energy, each time leaving her with the fear that she could take no more. At one point a dire shark crushed her body against the stone walls almost to the point of unconsciousness before disappearing and leaving a Babau in it’s wake. The demon immediately wrapped it’s hands around the depleted angel’s neck as she realized in horror that she could not control the creatures anymore. Panicked, she raked her nails across the Babau’s face leaving gaping tracks through it’s flesh. It screamed in fury and blinked out of existence. On the other side of the room, large leathery wings unfolded. Selwyn gasped and tried to stand, she wanted to run towards this unexpected visitor, but her legs failed her and she came crashing down on her knees. When she raised her head she found two black pools staring back at her.
“Go home” Eddie whispered, his voice heavy with regret.
Reaching out, she managed to croak “Ed-” But he was already gone.

Now she knelt on battered knees, praying for strength, for a miracle, for a connection.
The spells had stopped as abruptly as they had begun, and now she was left feeling empty.
She opened her heart and began, “Gabriel, please hear my plea. You have given so much already, and I have always done my best to provide aid to the world on your behalf. But the current battle seems to be an ambush. Thousands of our people are crying out for you. Let me lead your celestial army to their aid. Let us bring relief and bolster their morale. We will secure Calista’s tower and free a powerful ally, assuring our victory at the dwarven stronghold. Please use your infinite wisdom to show me the way.”

Upon laying her forehead against the marble alter once more, she felt her heart fill.
Pulling herself up to stand shakily, she turned toward the pews, and raised her hands pulling them apart slowly.
In front of her a portal opened, she could see the golden gates of the celestial kingdom beyond. Shakily, she took a few shuffling steps forward and fell through the portal into the clouds beyond.

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RUNE WAR Pt 21

19th of Patchwall – 2:14am –Southern Swamp front

The battle had already been raging for the better part of an hour. Even with the dryads help and her fey reinforcements, little was being won.

“General Sir” Sir Keaton approached… Moredakka finished ripping a tentacle from some swamp aberrant, he turned letting a long streak of lightening fry several approaching creatures before turning to the Knight and nodding that he was now listening. “They keep coming, the pattern isn’t changing Sir. This wave will probably last another five minutes, then we will be hit with another surge of fresh troops.”

“He’s right Moredakka” Sir Venus offered as he cut down a demon, “we will have to split our forces” Moredakka didn’t like the idea, it left too much at risk, but he and Sir Venus had discussed it at length on the way in, there was a fair amount of logic to it, now slightly more with the aid of fey and dryads. Sir Venus would take his Knights with the all the aid the fey could muster and push forwards heading north but also west, ideally drawing the demons after them. Moredakka and Sir Keaton would then carry the wounded back overland heading for the evac zone… once they had evacuated, the Honalians would focus their energies with the aid of some Thay wizards on the other side to port out from where they were. If this was timed with the Thay group breaking the barrier and coming in close to central command the whole thing SHOULD be weakened enough for them to slip out. Of course if that didn’t work than a large percentage of the Honalian Knights would die horribly in a swamp. Moredakka shook his head

“I should be leading the distraction, not you” he said, Sir Venus shook his head

“We’ve talked about this, The Honalians have the best chance of breaching the barrier, and you specifically will be needed to coordinate the jump to central, the thing that gives us the shot to get out. Moredakka, you covered us while our King was wounded and falsely accused, let us cover you” the two spent a long moment before Moredakka nodded and shook Sir Venus’s hand, there were very few humans he respected or understood, odd that this knight was becoming one of them.

“Sir Keaton, as soon as this wave is pushed off, we are going, get your wounded ready to move! HornSlapper, your with me on rear guard, nothing gets past us! Sir Venus… I will see you back in Pelagius in a couple days. Good Luck”

The Knight hefted his sword and strode towards his men to assure they knew what was to come.

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Rune Wat Pt 20

18th of Patchwall 4:42am – Southern Swamp Front

“Moredakka, these conditions are worse than we thought, It is heavily taxing our magic to keep this pace, we will be much slower on the withdraw, and if we are fighting while pulling back?” the words came from Sir Venus, King Francis’s personal knight and commander of the Honalian contingent/ King Francis had offered five hundred knights to aid Moredakka in the withdraw. He had also scrounged up another twelve hundred infantry, which the King and nobility were personally commanding at the extraction site. If they had to return to the extraction point being chased by demons and devils, there would be fresh well dug in troops waiting to meet them and allow them to conduct an organised withdrawal. Moredakka nodded, it had been almost 32 miles back from where they thought the camp was that they had managed to port in… even their the mages said was a barrier but it was weak enough for them to breach consistently. Moredakka was pushing a forced march, through the terrain he expected it would take some twenty or so hours to reach the besotted camp, and then they would have to fight off whatever the camp was up against, collect them into a travel group, carry or mercy kill the wounded and get out… all with these creatures chasing them. Moredakka only nodded the knight’s words were astute but there was nothing to be said about it. Sometimes you had to go into a shitty situation and just deal with it, and that was what today was… to top it all off if they were successful they would have to turn around and do the whole thing again twice more. Likely even faster, Moredakka had no doubts that as soon as the southern front had truly escaped a large number of the enemy troops was turn and run towards the central and northern fronts making the situation there even worse, his people would have to get there first and evacuate them as before the demons could travel the distance.

“Have some men do what they can for the nastier sections, draining the water, knocking trees for bridges, anything that will speed us up a little on the retreat, remember most of the Dactyls don’t make more than three feet in height, we don’t want the drowning just cause we wadded across a pool to get here… flag the trail and leave no more than fifty men trailing us to get this underway.” The words came to Moredakka and he spoke them as he thought knowing the tactics to be right. Sir Venus didn’t argue he merely nodded and dropped behind to select a mixed group of trolls and knights to get the job done. Moredakka swatted a gnat and sighed, it was going to be a long day

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Rune War Pt 19

17th of Patchwall 10pm – Mountains of Dwarf Gate- West of Tukin – Village of the Five

Selwyn surveyed the scene, what a mess, she had hundreds of unconscious dwarves and dactyls here, no real sign of what happened or why. It wasn’t a large scale attack, there would be more blood, tracks and bodies, but who or what had done this, and why… that still remained a mystery. She looked over as Yolonda jogged up.

“General” Yolonda offered a stiff salute, this was stills mothing they were working on, few in her army called her general, they usually referred to her as Her Majesty or My Queen, but it felt odd for both of them to have her daughter say that, yet Mom was also not acceptable in formal or battlefield situations, it would take some getting used to, and she knew how important to Yolonda it was that she not be shown favoritism.

“Go ahead Lieutenant,” Selwyn offered

“We have brought in most of my and your shields to bolster the area, as well as a few medics and three units from the Squashin Humpbacks, they were just hanging around Tukin so we thought we’d put them to work. There is a civic building across town that we have moved the unconscious into and secured for the evening, tomorrow the Saxons and Sasquatches should be able to start porting them back to Tukin for better security and medical attention. We will however need at least a battalion, if not two sent up here if we want to keep this region secured and the mine open.

Selwyn nodded at the news, it was what was expected

“I will send out orders to the 23rd Dact Hammers when I get back, they can start working their way up here and relieve the shields within the week.”

“General, The mine is about two hours out of town, I have been told that often they will do three days in the mine and three days back in town rotation, depending on when this occurred there could be survivors holed up there… With your permission we would like to send two units to explore and secure the mine, checking for survivors and assuring no tampering or problems arise”

Selwyn was already nodding it made sense “Granted”

“General, I would also further like to point out that weather system moving in, if those clouds hold snow or rain, we could lose that blood trail” Selwyn sighed, she had been thinking similar thoughts and hoping the wind would change, no such luck, and she still couldn’t count on how long she would be without spells, the blood trail might be the only way to find the five and get her people back. Yolonda continued “With your permission I would like to take two units and follow the trail on a recon mission” there was a long pause

“Make it three units…” she held up her hand to stave of argument “…whatever came through here took on a battalion and five hundred more shields, asking you to bring thirty men is not excessive. I want this to be recon only, if possible do not engage, find out who or what did this, how many they are and if our people are alive, then get back quick and let me know. I won’t risk the five on an under manned rescue mission, and I will want to speak to whoever is behind this… is that understood?”

“Yes General” Yolonda said giving a brisk salute

“Dismissed” Selwyn said watching as Yolonda turned and hurried back to her unit. She shook her head, too much happening too quickly. She turned to one of her Captains “Take me back to Tukin please, there is nothing more I can do here today, and we still have the Rune War to prepare for”

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Rune War Pt 18

17th of Patchwall – Somewhere between the Northern Hill Front and Central Command – 9:59pm

Anamachara walked slowly singing her hymn as she descended the hill towards the devil legion. Normally the Avatar of Ice held a cool confidence, today wasn’t like that however. She wasn’t sure of her course, was off keel as Aleau had been fond of saying. She tried to force the doubts from her mind. If she could save her people, and the wild elves and dactyls, it would be worth it. She sensed more than saw the presence of the imps, felt them detecting her magic’s and identifying her. In very little time they were racing back to their Lord to tell him what approached. She pushed her shoulders back and inhaled the icy air around her. ‘Fake it till you make it’ she thought as she let her spear point drag, creating a chilling noise as it cut and bounced along the rocks and ice below. She struck a stride that bespoke of uncaring confidence and she “casually” made her way towards the enemy line. Only one devil assailed her before she reached her destination, she supposed he had not received the memo; she killed him with her bare left hand, unwilling to lift her spear for such a worthless creature. She shouldn’t have been surprised, and yet was to see the devil line open for her, creating a twenty five foot wide aisle for her to walk. She continued her saunter down the devil made path pacing herself, maintaining her aura of cool as she approached Nefruitus’s personal entourage. He was an impressive specimen; standing almost sixteen feet tall, his leathery skin started as a coal black at his back and wings and turned to a ruddy volcanic red as it reached his middle. He wore a great breastplate emblazoned with his sigil and crafted from the fires of hell. He held aloft a twenty foot obsidian trident in one hand and a great round dragon hide shield in the other, he wielded it in such a way as a gladiator might wield a buckler. He had a great helm that was fitted around his horns, and armored spiked plates on his wings and tail. He had an arrogance forged from victory, he was a creature that had seen millennia of battle and torture and had rose to the top because of it, this was not one to be trifled with.

“Nefruitus, I am here to kill you, you pigged face coward!” Anamachara shouted at him, it was best to start negotiations from a neutral stand point, so she had toned things down significantly. The devil looked at her and offered what she could only assume was a smile, instead it was more akin to a sneer, the kind a grin a pedophile might make when buying candy to later seduce small children with, it immediately made her skin crawl.

“Anamachara of Train Lair, Formally Fionavar of the sub elfin clan of Silverfish, was raised in most by Higher Elven creatures in the pisshole Equestiran pile of excrement of Oaken Glen, a town she later abandoned allowing most of its inhabitants to die horribly at my hands; thank you for that by the way… Shadowslayer wanted me to tell you ‘Oh god, oh gods… please make it stop’… Now this cowardly little kitten of distress suckles the flaccid cock of he who impotently pretends at godliness, the ‘Lord’ of water. He that is so desperate that he would make you and a useless fey his ‘avatars’… but of course not without a man to supervise and direct you two… yes I know of you little Annie, and your threats only demean you… speak your business while you prostrate yourself for my taking, perhaps then this won’t be a total waste of my time”

Anamachara barely heard the final words, were it possible, she was sure her rage would have melted her, yet still she knew if she attacked before she had a deal she would be slain by his hoards… nearly vibrating at the extreme effort she managed to suppress her anger for the moment and speak.

“You dare blaspheme in the presence of an AVATAR! I AM ICE! I AM THE WEAPON OF HE WHO IS WATER! THE BRACKISH EMPORER WILL NOT SUFFER YOUR PRESECNE ON THIS PLANE ANY LONGER! I CHALLENGE YOU NEFRUTIOUS!” she felt power in her words, she knew them to be truths, her Lord was angry and once again a small level of confidence crept back, when he was with her truly there was nothing she could not achieve.

“Oh you challenge me do you… I should just leave my thousands of troops here, and fight you one on one like some kind of demon prince moron? You will have to do better than that little Annie, your act begins to wane on me, make this worthwhile or I shall entertain myself gambling at how long you last against my legion.”

“You would risk an entire legion against me? that would leave you with no men for the fight ahead, and I have two Avatars who will be more than eager to seek you out without your creatures to hide behind… they would quickly seek to avenge me” at this the devil paused and sized up Anamachara, as his eyes danced up and down her body he licked his black lips in a horrific fashion.

“And all you wish is a battle, you against I… no help from either side?”

She nodded

“Should the Everlast appear and aid, whether you wish him to or not, it will void our deal in all forms”

She nodded

“If I should defeat you, your soul must answer three questions about this war to me, honest and true” she paused for only a half second before responding

“But If I should win… and UNTIL I win or lose, your army cannot advance on or attack any of the A of A armies”

“In the Rune War” he added quickly. She was disappointed he’d caught that but it was too much to hope otherwise… she needed time for Scouts to warn central command, time for the elves and her men to extract themselves. She looked at the cruel beast, and nodded. He smiled his disgusting, vile smile once more… “then we have a deal… prepare yourself for battle elfling, your end is neigh”

Anamchara whirled her spear into the ready position and took up an offensive crouch, Nefruitous laughed a chuckle that would make angels cry, and the battle was begun.

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Little Breathign Room Pt 2

“Cat, Wake Up!” the calm voice was as a dam holding back a raging torrent of emotion, it came in a sharp whisper. Catalina’s eye slowly opened as she acclimatised to her surroundings

“What time is it?” she said as she began to yawn, there was an early pre-dawn glow, but it was still far earlier than Catalina normally rose “What are you…” her voice was cut off as Brook clamped a hand over the sleeping girls mouth. Catalina looked into Brooks ice blue eyes and saw her intensity, saw her urgency and that this was not joke. She nodded to her step sister indicating that she was now fully awake and realised that silence was of the essence. Brook removed her hand leaning forward to offer the faintest of whispers into her ear.

“The Temple is under attack…” Brook stopped Catalina from interrupting knowing her questions before she could answer them “I don’t yet know by who. I don’t know where Lucile is, she was not in her bed. You and I need to get out of here, once we are safe we can observe them and know what they are up to and where Lucile is, if she hasn’t escaped already… quickly put on some warm clothes, your boots and anything you need for your magic, understood” again Catalina nodded, Brook gracefully hopped off the bed and moved back to peak out the cracked door. The temple was silent; the only noise was the faint howl of the wind from outside. Within moments the two were ready, Catalina moved to the window expecting to climb out, Brook shook her head “They are too good not to have someone watching from outside, maybe a sniper, and there is too much open ground on this side of the temple, let us cross to the western end of the temple, slip out the window in the training hall and disappear into the garden and down the cliff” Catalina nodded liking Brooks cool logical thinking. Again the agile elven monk looked to the door for what seemed like an eternity, finally she gave the smallest of hand gestures and the two slipped into the hall. Catalina was no monk, nor had she trained with any real severity with Xillian, but one does not travel with Xillian or the Everlast without at least learning the basics of stealth. Across the upper landing they worked dancing from shadow to shadow, hiding behind tapestries, bookshelves and busts. Carefully they approached the old laundry shoot; Brook daintily held it open as Catalina crawled in, with a whisper of a spell Catalina became an expert climber and silently descended the old shoot dropping nimbly into the wash room. She looked up and nodded telling Brook is was clear and the monk dropped silently beside her. The two crawled from the room, keeping below the counter sightline for cover until they crossed the kitchen and dining room and approached the western training hall. Brook glanced into the room. “Do you have a spell that will make us invisible?”

“Yes, but it will only last about 30 seconds” Catalina said feeling disappointed that her magic was not of greater use

“Fair…” said Brook “…save it until we are ready to go outside… there are two hiding in the room, silence the door so none will hear us, let’s take them out quick and quiet, than we go out the window… ok?” Catalina nodded and quickly cast the spell, it would not block all the noise as its radius was only around the door way, but the stone walls would muffle anything originating from inside the room. Brook sprang into action, and with some work the two girls came out on top, though their battle had been louder and longer than they’d wished. Brook sprang to the window ledge pausing just long enough for Catalina to cast her spell, than she jumped down, Catalina quickly cast again and followed, seconds later they were in the gardens and hiding behind a bench. Catalina was ready to push onwards to the cliff but Brook stopped her gesturing for her to look and listen.

From their vantage they could see around to the front of the building, and as they crouched four men dragged an unconscious Lucile out of the main doors, another two carried bundles of scrolls, Master Xillians scrolls.

“Very good my friends, very good indeed” a short bald man who’d been waiting outside said to the newcomers.

“She put of a heck of a fight, taking her alive was not easy” said one of the newcomers, the bald man strode forward and held up Lucile’s unconscious head to better study it. the newcomer continued to speak “We found the scrolls and books you spoke of, we also found two cats and an old dog, they have been taken care of, the other two girls however…” he let the words hang out there as the bald man continued to turn Lucile’s face from left to right

“Pretty little thing isn’t she? It’s a damn shame…” the words were spoken more to himself than to anyone else, but then the bald man looked up and made eye contact with the newcomers. “Fair enough, they are apprentices of the Everlast and Xillan, that likely makes them relatively good at evading capture…” he turned looking towards the gardens casting his eyes back and forth, it took every ounce of control within Catalina to stay calm, but she could remember the Everlasts advise

“Don’t move, even when you know they’ve seen you. People see movement before they see and often will bluff, if they know where you are let them come and get you, don’t make it easy by walking out to them… besides the shadows has always been friends on mine, better to fight amongst friends no?” Catalina took a breath and held stark still, she was sure that the bald man could see them, he was looking right at them, but at long last his eyes drifted past them and back to his own people speaking in a louder tone than before

“Take the women and scalp her, leave the hair here on the main path for the Everlast to find. She and the scrolls are prize enough” with that the bald man turned to one of his companions, whispered some words and began to walk down the path away from the temple. Catalina was shocked as she several more men approach, they held sledge hammers and crowbars and began smashing doors, windows, lattices and art. She almost cried out… the decades that Xillian has spent restoring it, and in the short time she’d lived here it had become her home. Brook leaned in and whispered to her

“Go to the cliffs, use your magic if need be, but get down to the sea as fast as you can, find a White Raven, put up signs on message boards, ask in inns… if there are none in the village try to find a worshiper of Kelezandri, they should be able to get either you or a message to Rehume… we need Raven Everlast” Catalina nodded but caught the obvious

“Please Brook, come with me, you have to know it’s a trap…” Brook interrupted her quoting Raven

“Step One… identify the trap… Step two…”

“Spring the Trap” they whispered in unison, there was a momentary smile between them but Catalina was not ready to let the matter drop

“There are too many of them, you have nothing to prove here… come with me, we will get help and come back together” Brook looked at her sister with a stern look

“I can’t… those are Master Xillains private scrolls and books, not even I have read them yet… somewhere in there lies the secret to immortality and there is no way I am going to let that bastard become an immortal… I will follow them and sneak in and steal or burn the books at the first opportunity, if I can help Lucile I will, but if not I am counting on you to bring help. You can scry me when you have Raven and that is how we will find Lucile and bring these worthless vagrants to an end.” The two shared a long sisterly hug before splitting up and heading their separate ways.

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Little Breathing Room PT 1

A light dusty of snow danced in the winds as Master Zaheer came over the last rise, he turned to his closest compatriot,

“Hrusha be praised, what beauty we offer on this day” the women beside him smiled and nodded, they continued their trek. It was not long before they turned the final bend and it came into view

“Behold my friends,” Zaheer proclaimed waving his hands ahead of him “the Temple of Si Feng, home of the teachings of the Four Winds” the temple was aged and though there was evidence of recent repair. It had a natural flow to it, sitting comfortably sheltered by the final peak of the mountain and yet offering an expansive view. The women who’d be walking with Zaheer turned to him

“Are you sure of this Zaheer? If we do this there is no turning back” she looked imploringly to the monk, he shook his head at her seeming somewhat remorseful

“Alas my love our course is set. A lesson must be taught to those who pontificate the tenants of neutrality only to than firmly take side.” As Zaheer finished he waved his men forward and the group began to spread out and slowly surround the temple. Zaheer continued his causal approach with his lover

“It is said that Master Quan Shi was given rich powers over the elemental forces of Argyle, and that he alone was offered the elemental gift of immortality, but then he foolishly shunned the Great Primordials who had given him such a gift. In their great mercy the Elemental Lords offered his one last chance to renounce his heresy and admit that the power he’d gained was theirs and not derived from himself, or nowhere. The old master in his arrogance refused, and so was taught a lesson and quickly he and his order were wiped from this plane of existence, leaving only this old building to attest to who truly was mightier… now it appears that this Xillian has not read his histories, and so is doomed to repeat it…” he looked to his men now in positon and spoke in a louder tone so that they may hear him “Bring me the Elven women, the two girls and the scrolls and books from within… kill anyone else you find… once this is done, I want the Temple destroyed”

The followers of Hrusha nodded and quickly set about their tasks as they descended on the Temple of Si Feng.

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RUNE WAR PT 17

17th of Patchwall – Northern Hill Front – 11:52pm

Cee-Teera looked at his scout who just shook his head, sorry to disappoint the noble Pathfinder and yet having no other choice.

“There is no way we can march though the gap Cee-Teera, perhaps some and I state that SOME of our people may be able to slip through, but there is barely two hundred yards between the lines of the demons and Oni. We would be spotted for sure, and quickly flanked on both sides… we must go back” Cee-Teera made a sharp cutting motion with his hand as he hissed through gritted teeth

“There is no going back, devils behind us, demons to the north and south, every other pass is blocked… we either thread the needle or we fight, and we are in no shape for a real fight” he looked at his scouts and braves, they did not argue his point, but still their appeared no other solution. Cee-Teera gritted his teeth to hold in his anger; if they had to die in a useless fight he would have preferred the death against Nefruitous than here against some unknown rank and file creatures. He sighed a long low breath and shook away the doubts. “Gather my chiefs… find two hundred of our best warriors, everyone else with strength of body and fleetness of foot is to be carrying a wounded or fatigued solider. I will lead the attack against the demon line, Chief Feevaro you will lead the attack against the Oni, we will show them the ferocity of the wild elves, we will push them back and old them whilst our companions thread the needle.” The gathered elves nodded and quickly went about their work, it was a noble thing to die in battle with the Pathfinder, Fendibar at Hrock, Mocteera on the river bank of Pelegious and now Cee-Teera on the Northern Ridge of the Rune War, history would be forged this night.

Within twenty minutes the column was aligned with the needle and the two strike forces were prepared to go. Cee-Teera was just finished giving final instructions to the Oni force as he hefted his axe. The mighty axe of the Pathfinder, he debated sending it with those fleeing so that his people might not loose such a powerful artifact. He shook his head, the next Pathfinder would have to come find it; that was there way, he or she who found the horn and the axe would take up the mantel of Pathfinder. He looked down on the ram’s horn that sat on his hip. Could this be it? Was this his time of great need? He did not wish to betray the trust of the Grandfather Ram, but strangely he felt drawn to the horn as if this truly were a cause worthy to call the ancestral creature forth to give guidance and aid. He pulled the horn and brought it to his lips, he was charging the line anyway, and if nothing else it would bolster his people to hear the notes of their people on his lips. Cee-Teera inhaled deeply, check to assure all was ready and then let forth a might blast of air into the horn

No sound emanated

Instead a deep cold frost fell mist erupted from the horn, and kept coming forth, filling the area and trickling throughout the woods and hills. Above great heavy snow clouds rolled in blotting the moon and stars. The fog was so thick that one could barely see his hand in front of his face.

“What is this?” the pathfinder whispered, but again was shocked as the thickness of the fog seemed to muffle the noise. Then he saw it, ahead of him, coming from the mist was the Grandfather Ram. The tall majestic creature stood at least 6 feet tall at the shoulders with thick white wool and large spiral horns. It snorted as it nodded to Cee-Teera urging him to follow. Cee-Teera quickly turned and found an elf behind him

grandfather_ram_1.jpg

“New Plan” he said just loud enough to be heard by the elf “The entire line will hold hands and follow me, I know which path to take” the elf did not argue, and soon the line was slowly moving through the dense fog and snow following the Pathfinder, who swore he could see the Grandfather Ram

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