Jarod T.
Jan 31, 2018

Evermoore - December 2017 - Prologue

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MATHIAS OF HOLT IN THE EASTERN RANGE OF THE FORLORN MOUNTAINS

 

SUMMARY: King Aiden Skalgi tells Princess Arianna of the Dale and Mathias of Holt that Kell and Shoria have agreed to land soldiers on Asgarn to protect the Asgarn civilians.

 

DRAMATIZATION: Mathias raised his sword in desperation as the giant Asgarn warrior’s axe slashed down toward his face. Steel met steel, sparks danced and metal rasped on metal, but Mathias turned the blow away. The force of the impact knocked him to the ground.

 

The Asgarn closed in. Mathias tried to slash upward with his sword, but the whirling axe knocked the hilt from his hand and his blade spun away. The Asgarn stepped on his chest pinning his back to the earth. Mathias felt the cold steel of the axe blade against his throat.

 

“Little Holt. You’re dead again.” The Asgarn’s laugh was friendly enough, but it still rankled Mathias, who was not used to being knocked around. Among the Iron Cross nobles, he was considered a good swordsman, but this hulking brute of an Asgarn made him feel like a bumbling recruit.

 

Most of the commoners in the crowd who had been watching the fight joined the big Asgarn in his laughter, but most of the Guildsmen looked at him sympathetically. That annoyed him more. Though this was only a training match, he knew it was so much more important. He needed to make a good showing when he trained with these people. He was the son of a powerful Holt noble, and these Asgarns would judge his people by how well he fought.

 

“Let me up, Torkel.” Mathias said, perhaps more sharply then he should have.

The pressure on his chest did not release, and Mathias knew he’d made a mistake. These people came from a cold rocky island with inhospitable living conditions. While they loved to laugh and joke, beneath the surface they were always stone, cold, hard, and unyielding, just like their island home.

 

The giant man leaned forward, his weight crushing down through his boot. Mathias could not breath. “You might be able to give your princess orders from your back, but you don’t them give to me. Ask nicely, little man.”

 

Mathias swung a fist at Torkel’s face. It caught him in the chin, turning his face to the side. Torkel rubbed his filthy beard, smiling. “That was nice enough,” he said as he stepped away.

 

Mathias was on his feet in a blink. “Princess Arianna and I have always acted with honor.”

 

Torkel laughed good naturedly, “More’s the pity, lad.”

 

Mathias moved to retrieve his sword, angry and embarrassed. Macar, the cleric, picked his sword up. Mathias knew Macar fairly well. They’d played a few games of stones and gotten drunk together one night.

 

The cleric had spiritquested Aiden last spring after Arianna had driven a dagger through his heart. He surprised them all by having a heroic spirit. The Asgarns believed that one who can walk the world as a spirit is blessed by the gods. The Guildsmen here in the camp had been behind Aiden’s rise to power.

 

Aiden was willing to stand up to Gunther, and last spring, the Guildsmen supported him in order to weaken Gunther’s march on Guildhall. Of course, not all Asgarn Guildsmen had supported Aiden. Some believed in sea raiding enough to embrace the destruction of Guildhall as a means to an end, but most of those died with Gunther’s mad dream in the East Pass. Now from what he had seen, the Asgarn people were served by Guildsmen loyal to Guildhall and a King willing to consider peace.

 

Mathias reached for his sword, but the Cleric pulled it back out of his reach. “Best let it go lad,” Macar said. “You’ll never make one like that understand your ways of chivalry.” Mathias opened his mouth to object, but the old Cleric waved him quiet. “We Asgarns have our own ways. On Asgarn, when a man loves a woman, they do not wait. They act. Our lives are too hard, and sometimes too brief, to worry about silly rules.”

 

“I’m not going to discuss this with you,” Mathias told him. “Now, give me my sword.”

 

The old Cleric chuckled. “Talking with me will leave you with a lot less bruises.”

 

Mathias sighed. The moment had passed. Torkel was already walking away with a group of raiders. Mathias watched him go. He would never understand these people. They were so quick to fight, but also so quick to forget about the fight. He had watched two Asgarns beat each other bloody at their midday meal and then drink together around the fire that night, as if best friends again.

 

“Give him his sword old man,” Gretta said as she swaggered up to them. “He does not have time to get himself a beating anyway. King Aiden wants to see him right now.”

 

Gretta was a ranger about his own age, and she’d made it clear weeks ago that she was willing to break a few rules with him. They had been sparring and when he’d pinned her against the wall. She’d stolen a kiss, punched him in the gut, and then disarmed him. That was another day in the training yard that he’d made a poor showing for Holt. When she handed his sword back to him, she offered to meet him that night. Of course, he didn’t go and the next day, she’d acted like nothing had happened.

 

Mathias put his sword back into the scabbard. “Did Aiden say why he wanted to meet?”

Gretta shrugged, “The King does not share his counsel with me. He told old Subar to find Arianna and sent me to collect you. So let’s go.”

 

Mathais needed no more urging. He rushed across the camp and the guards at Aiden’s tent admitted him right away. Aiden was sitting at his table and Arianna stood with her arms crossed. She smiled at him, crossed the space to meet him, clasped his hands, and said, “Kell and Shoria have contacted Aiden.”

 

“It’s all set,” said Aiden from his chair. “I just finished speaking with representatives from Shoria and Kell. They’re going to help my people.” He laid his mana mirror on the table. “The Guildmasters of Evermoore authorized their Mayor, Murkon Whitetail, to write the leaders of Shoria and Kell explaining the double dealings of Holt and the possibility of an attack on Asgarn civilians by the Ancient Path.”

 

“They were written by other leaders as well, including Sir Adhemar Macrinus Baele, Tryggr Lokahresti, and Marik of the Black Lotus. Do you know them?” Aiden leaned back.

Mathias shook his head. “I’ve never been to Evermoore.”

 

“You should go there. I met Adhemar and Marik when I visited Evermoore,” Aiden mused. “They both wanted to try and kill me, but others talked them down. What a different world it would have been if I had killed them, or they me? Sven might not have sent me as the messenger. I would have never met the two of you. What a strange convergence of events?”

 

“You were talking about Shoria and Kell?” Mathias interrupted. “Will they send troops?”

Aiden gave Mathias a lop-sided grin. Mathias hated that look. Sometimes he thought that Aiden didn’t take anything seriously, but he knew that wasn’t true. Mathias had heard about Aiden’s hard life back in Asgarn. Beneath all the joking was a man who buried too many of his children.

 

“Cut’s right to the chase, doesn’t he,” Aiden said to Arianna.

 

“We would like to know the results of your conversation,” Arianna said diplomatically.

“Shoria and Kell have agreed to send troops to protect the Asgarn civilians.” Aiden stood up. Mathias could see the Asgarn was truly relieved. “We have also laid the groundwork for the renewal of the Northern Confederation. The new treaty will not bind the member nations blindly, but will allow for mutual defense and support and withdrawal if any nation acts aggressively without provocation.”

 

“That is good news.” Mathias said.

 

“It’s great news.” Aiden took a drink from a mug. “But there is still some concern.” He put the mug down. “It will take a week for troops from Shoria and Kell to arrive on Asgarn, and then more time to protect the inland towns.”

 

“You could not have gotten home any quicker,” Mathias told him. “Fighting through the Dale could have taken a week or more. Then you’d have to load your ships while engaged in combat.”

 

“I know that, Mathias,” Aiden said. “That’s why I’m still here. If not for the intercessions of the Guildmasters of Evermoore, I would have been forced to leave a trail of bodies all the way to the sea. Among the dead would be Asgarns I’ll need to defend our homeland.”

 

“You owe a debt to the Guildmasters of Evermoore.” Arianna sat down at the table.

 

“I guess I do,” said Aiden. “But only if it all works out. The Guildmasters of Evermoore still need to prove Holt’s double-dealing and show Justin’s ulterior motives to the other leaders of the Five Kingdoms. They still need to get this army out of my way.”

 

“They’ll do that,” Arianna patted Aiden’s hand. “Once all the evidence comes to light, the Five Kingdoms will let you pass without fighting. Holt will have to back down or look totally unreasonable. You’ll see, all will be well.”

 

“You grew up in the Dale where things are always pretty. You live in a land of flowers, of sweet smelling soil, of warm rain and pretty snow.” Aiden pulled his hand away. “I live in a harsh world where things are never pretty. My world is rock and cold and freezing rain. I don’t see all things being well. I worry about what will happen if the evidence does not come to light. What if the deeds are lost, or the orders destroyed?”

 

Arianna opened her mouth to speak, but could not seem to find the words.

 

“You don’t think Justin is going to sit idle do you,” Aiden continued. “If he’s the monster you think he is, then he’s making plans. He’s learning from his mistakes. He’s getting ready to let his hammer fall.”

 

Mathias realized Aiden was right. This story was not winding down; this story was just beginning. Everything would be decided in Evermoore, and that realization was a sobering thought.

Jarod T.
Jan 31, 2018

PLAYER PROLOGUE

Sam and Renoa, played by Rachel Sneed and Kristin Wilhelmy

 

AT THE ELVEN PROTECTORATE

 

Sam’s wagon pulled up to the front of the main protectorate building, with Renoa on horseback traveling next to the wagon. The sight of the Elven Protectorate still made them sad. The once glorious central building of the Protectorate was now partially destroyed. It was hastily repaired in some places, and in others, it still held the wreckage of the Asgarn battle.

 

Individual homes and businesses were in various states of ruin. Some were patched as well as possible with limited supplies and labor, some were glorified lean-tos, cloths in place of full walls or roofs. It was clear that those with homes had taken in those without. Elven children ran around giggling, in dirty, ill-fitting clothing patched and re-sewn.

 

The defense bastions were all but destroyed, a few were nothing more than crumbling stone, others were barely taller than the average elf. None were the grand towers that they used to be. The entrances to the under realm were sturdy, but no longer beautiful. The intricately carved supports were cracked and lashed together with rope. The steps downward were stained with blood and dirt.

 

Deep under the protectorate, the residents knew that in some of the collapsed tunnels and households, there was the possibility that whole families of Deep Elves would never see the realm again. The stead below had a few major collapses. There were efforts every day to dig them out, and place strong supports, but it was a long, and tiring process, especially for those who did not know how to properly excavate the tunnels. The elves hoped their brothers and sisters had collapsed the tunnels themselves, in an effort to protect the Stead. If they did, then it was certain they would be reunited again. The entire community was sad and exhausted, but refused to give up hope.

 

Children and adults alike came out to meet the few wagons they had brought with them. Sam brought what she could from the estate and Lavinia’s Bed and Breakfast once a month, but it wasn’t really enough. Still, it was something, and the elves at the protectorate were always appreciative.

 

Sam and Renoa began to unload the wagons, handing the items off to those who would distribute them fairly. Two elderly ladies, a high elf and a low elf, pulled an empty cart towards the wagons. They looked hopefully up to Sam, whose face brightened when she noticed them.

 

“Arlayna! Riniya! It took me a bit, but I’ve got a surprise for you!” She pulled out two full sacks, stuffed to the brim with wool, and a pouch. Inside the pouch, Sam revealed 3 drop spindles and 3 sets of knitting needles. The elderly elves’ hands clapped together, as they loaded their cart with the wool and knitting supplies.

 

“Just in time for the winter! Thank you!” Renoa passed a large stack of warm blankets to a Sea Elven man, he thanked her for helping, and asked her name. When she answered, he responded that his family would not soon forget her generosity. His eyes were tired, but kind. His eyes wandered to the patched Underrealm entrance, and he took his hand in hers. “We’re working hard to reopen the Underrealm. Once we do, the Stead will be able to rejoin us again.”

 

The Warlocks moved on to the last wagon, and when they opened it, the children gasped. It was brimming with brightly colored boxes and bags, gifts from the members of the Warlock’s guild, as well as other friends from Evermoore.

 

For the first time in quite a while, the residents of the protectorate looked happy. They were finally feeling the love and concern of Evermoore and the rest of the Realm.

Jarod T.
Jan 31, 2018

PLAYER PROLOGUE Roulette, Played by Nick Gish, Melissa Buccine, Gabriella Kenny, Matthew Miller, Kathleen Burns, James Thompson

 

LOCATION: At a hidden comedy pawn compound in the North Forlorn Mountains...

 

Screams echoed across the camp as one by one masked pawns collapse in a heap of blood and intestines. The buildings of the small comedy pawn compound burned all around them and added to their terrified yells. Secretly, torches had been positioned earlier to set fire to the structures with scraps of cloth dipped with highly flammable alchemical compounds wrapped around them. The first building that had caught on fire alerted the pawns that something was wrong, but by then, it was too late.

 

As the last of the comedy pawns died from various wounds, the glow from the figure cast dark shadows across the silent camp. The being moved forward and the ground remained undisturbed by the boots which hovered over the surface.

 

A wind picked up causing the flames from the fires to rise higher in the sky, and a familiar feeling washed over Roulette. They couldn’t contain their laughter any longer. The destruction was invigorating! The justice they brought down upon these miserable pawns brought a gleeful grin to their face. And with the obliteration of Damn the Comedy Avatar, there wasn't anyone willing to protect these weak fools.

 

“There is a mana flow here. It’s time to cast a new circle.” Roulette stopped laughing and looked to the right and the feminine spirit at their side echoed him.

 

The spirit of Rayleigha looked resigned to this wanton display of destruction. When the god spoke, it was as if the two of them were speaking as one being. “I need to survey the bodies and find the.. Perfect specimens.”

 

The other spirits that comprised Roulette drifted about to check the bodies and discarding the ones that were too undesirable to become one of their undead. Behind them, Roulette continued invoking along with Rayleigha to create the circle. Soon the spirits of Victor, Vorruna, Kaidan, and Shannon returned to speak to the avatar of which comedy pawns deserved to be raised. Roulette nodded after each spirit spoke to them.

 

The voice of the avatar boomed over the burning compound. “Using the chaos within I cast - Call corpses! All corpses come to me. Come to me and serve your new god.” The bodies rose from the ground and shuffled towards the avatar. Within a few minutes, the chosen pawns were transformed into their new undead soldiers and stood to attention, awaiting for their orders.

The undead had the remnants of comedy dressings on and several still had hats on their heads. The blood splatters on the clothes showcasing how they died were disconcerting but the god ignored it as they surveyed the new additions to their army.

 

The spirit of Shannon grinned and tapped the avatar for attention. Roulette turned his attention to her spirit. To an outside observer, the being had turned to look at nothing. “Same deal as before, yeah?” The spirit’s voice was laced with mischief. The avatar nodded and turned their attention back to the undead lined up.

 

"You have heard of Roulette and know my reputation over the last few months when dealing with Comedy like you. But now you are mine. Mine to do with what I please. And I will treat you better than your former masters. When your subservience ends, remember this." Roulette said. The god took a sip from a flask and began to hover over the ground once more.

 

The spirit of Kaidan put his hand on Roulette’s shoulder and they both spoke as one. “The next time that you are before your god, I will bare a different face. You will know it is one of my Aspects when I speak this phrase to you. Listen to my orders as you do now.”

 

The spirit of Victor put his hand on the avatar’s other shoulder. Roulette raised a hand to his temple. All of the undead heard this secret phrase etched into their minds.

 

The spirit of Vorruna shoved Kaidan off Roulette and took her place at Roulette's side. “You are burdened with a glorious purpose. Your duties will include eliminating all pawns you come across and any cultists that you find in your travelling to the nearby town. Spread the word of Roulette and inspire them to raise temples of us and all of our Aspects. You are to build our following.”

The spirit of Shannon replaced Victor's spot. "Follow us and you will be spared destruction as long as you serve Roulette and no other.”

 

As Roulette left the undead to fulfill their orders, the avatar hovered past the burning compound and headed towards the shadows of the forest edging the property. The spirits drifted beside him.

“Now then, I have a birthday to celebrate. I need to gather a few supplies to make this one to remember…” Roulette’s gleeful voice fading as they enter the darkness of the forest once more and the glow of their godly presence lighting the way.

New Posts
  • Jarod T.
    Feb 21, 2018

    PHILOSOPHER PO QUAY, EVERMOORE SUMMARY: Po sends a group of angry Shorians home and reaches out to the guildsmen of Evermoore to patrol the roads around the Ring Fort to try and deter the Stick-Killer from striking again. DRAMATIZATION: The mob of angry Shorians surged forward. Their leader was a big man, dressed in a fur-rimmed conical hat, a fur vest, and deer hide breeches held up by a belt of flat metal disks. He was from the steppes of Shoria and carried a large heavy curved sword with jingling rings set into the back edge. The others in the mob were Shorians from the northern coast wearing cloth jackets held closed with little knotted ties and Shorians from the southern coast wearing their jackets held closed by sashes around the waist. All were armed with make-shift weapons, mostly farming implements. Po Quay stood in their path and raised both hands. For a long moment he thought the mob of angry Shorians would try and push past him, perhaps even trample him in their frustration, but at the last moment they yielded, stopping an arms distance from him. “We are hunting the Stick-Killer!” shouted the man in front. “The murderers of our people must be found!” Other voices cried out in support. ‘What good will your anger do?” Po raised his hands to try and quiet them. “You are a mob who will do violence to anyone you find in these woods.” “We must do something,” shouted a woman from back. “Your anger is righteous,” Po told them, “but it is not productive.” The murders had started a month ago, Shorians and Asgarns killed on the road, by a maniac who left sticks at the scene of the crime. The bodies were beaten to death and horribly mutilated. Investigations revealed little. The killer or killers had wiped away any forensic evidence of their identity with swishing branches. The only clues were the sticks and the violence of the scene. “You will not find anything wandering these woods as you are.” “The land around the ring fort belongs to the Northern Confederation,” the big man looked down at Po. “We are going to question travelers.” “You do not need clubs, pitch forks, and axe handles to speak.” Po met their eyes, one by one. “We do if we meet the Stick-Killer,” boasted the big man. “You’ll never meet the Stick-Killer,” countered Po. “We have a right to patrol.” A small man stepped to the front of the group and addressed the big man. “Peng, Philosopher Po is right. We are doing no good out here, blundering down these trails. The killers will see or hear us coming and move into the shadows.” “Shut your coward mouth, Xing,” Peng raised a meaty fist. Xing was not intimidated. “Your anger is more than justified. Peng, your brother was among the slain. We all feel his loss, but truly, the only people we will find out here will be innocent travelers. We will accost innocent people to no purpose. While we are out here, our families are in danger.” “Xing has the right of it. Go home to your families,” said Po. “The guildsmen of Evermoore will be patrolling your roads. While you are out here uselessly wandering, your families are undefended. Protect them and leave the hunting of the Stick-Killers to the guildsmen of Evermoore.” “Let us all go home,” Xing implored them. “We can protect those who we love and let the guildsmen handle the roads.” Peng looked around him. Already his support was fading away. “Philosopher.” He spoke the word like a curse. “You talk overly much. Those of us who want action have sent for the Oathbound. There have not been Oathbound in Evermoore in many years so others think us easy prey. That will change when the Oathbound arrive.” Peng and the others left. Xing remained behind to confide in Po. “Peng is a sore man, but he speaks the truth. The Oathbound will not allow our people to be killed without an answer. They will demand blood for blood. Whoever did this will pay dearly when the Oathbound arrive with their retinues of honor and glory.” Po knew Xing spoke the truth. Though the Oathbound were honorable men and women, they took honor very serious. Their whole lives revolved around their oaths of service to a person or sometimes a cause. There were not as many Oathbound in Shoria today as their once were, but there are enough to make them a force in their society. Those who remained carried on a heritage established in the Age of Life. Their lore is steeped in mysticism and the people of Shoria idolize them. They wear colorful armor of cloth, cord, and laminate and carry two special swords pushed through a belt tied at their waist. The Oathbound would be hard to handle, but they could be managed so long as their honor was not offended. The real problem would be the Oathbroken. These are men and women with broken oaths coming for a chance to atone for their dishonor. They will come to Evermoore as well, following on the heels of the Oathbound, seeking to end their disgrace by doing some act of glory. Many Oathbroken are drunkards and criminals who have fallen far from the honor they once held. They are an uncontrolled, desperate element of Shorian society. “Perhaps we will be able to have the situation in hand by the time they arrive,” Po said. “That would be best.” Xing agreed. “You had best go home.” Po bowed to Xing who returned honor and withdrew, rushing home to his family. Po pulled his mana mirror from the pocket of his pants and began typing out a message, “Guildsmen of Evermoore. I spoke with many of you last market day and you promised to help patrol around the ring fort to protect the Shorian and Asgarn who live in the area. I would like to coordinate our efforts. If you will be spending the time between this market patrolling, please send me a message on this thread.” “I know many of you are already busy. Groups are researching the sticks to try and find out as much as possible about the Stick-Killer from academic sources. Others are dealing with the Karthydian problem, examining the maps discovered during the Sunday morning raid into the Tar Field in order to determine the locations of the nodes the Karthdyians will be trying to convert to Chaos. These task are very important and will likely require your full effort, but there were over 100 guildsmen at the last market and at least a dozen of you promised to help me.” “Guildmasters not researching the sticks or examining the map, gather your guilds and bring them to patrol. Those of you who have military orders, please assemble them. We may not stop every attack, but we can try. Guildsmen assemble!” [Out-of-Play Note: If you want your character to participate in the guarding of the roads around the Ring Fort send Philosopher Po a real-time, in-play message on this thread and your character can then roleplay at the event that you spent the intervening time protecting Shorians and Asgarns. The number of Guildsmen "patrolling" will affect the number of attacks that occur between the events so your between event activity will have a direct relation to your world.]
  • Jarod T.
    Feb 21, 2018

    February 2018 | Epilogue (4 Febris 1018 Sunday) “You WILL help and get them,” Shannon [ Kathleen Burns ] looked defiantly into Sabine’s eyes. The merriment of the Dance of Colors whirled around them. Sabine’s stomach turned. “Yes… I will,” she replied. Xanatos [ Alex Pertgen ] laid a kind hand on Sabine’s arm. “I’ll come with you.” He was instrumental in her freedom from Ionnes’s possession and was one of her biggest advocates. This consoled her. “And you have my help, as well, if you want it,” said a familiar voice from behind her. It was Rex [ Mark Ion ], another generous Guildsmen responsible for her return. “Hey! What are we doing?!” Piped up the cheery, musical voice of Tristan [ Robert Park ]. “Dance of Colors after-party? ...Xanadite style?” The tension roiling between Sabine and Shannon subsided for a moment as they both smiled at his suggestion. Shannon cleared her throat and regained her serious tone, “We’re freeing the remaining Tradesmen of the fight pits who are still imprisoned. Sabine has agreed to guide us there. We leave tomorrow afternoon.” Tristan nodded, “I’m in.” And so the plans were set. And their mission was clear. But that night Sabine didn’t sleep. Was it the silence? Ionnes’s furious voice was no longer filling up her mind for the first time in 6 months. He knew everything about her since he had been pretending to be her for so long. He had access to every memory, every fear, every dark corner of her, and even the food she liked and her favorite song. Was it wrong to say she… missed being so known? “No! No! No!” Guilt, shame, remorse; wash, rinse, repeat. The morning came and she rose out of duty, ready to begin her first day of atonement. Sabine stood in front of the Roasted Dragon Inn, waiting for Shannon, Xanatos, Rex, and Tristan as they said goodbye to their comrades gathering into their caravans to leave the Market Day. She absent-mindedly kicked the gravel to distract herself from her nerves. Knowing she’d soon look into the faces of those she had hurt… she kicked and kicked and kicked the stones. “Um… what are you doing?” A gentle, inquisitive voice asked. Sabine looked up and saw Lydia [ Valerie Fairchild ]… but it was Wisteria who looked back at her with a puzzled look on her face. “I’m, I…the rocks…” Sabine stammered lamely, caught off guard. Not a moment too soon, her party arrived. The three gentlemen greeted her with a smile, while Shannon frowned, all business. “Lead the way,” she said. “I’d like Lydi--Wisteria to come,” Sabine said. “Of course, we could always use more Guildsmen to free the imprisoned,” replied Shannon, “You alright to join us, Wisteria?” Wisteria nodded, still giving Sabine a curious, searching look. The party of 6 started on their journey into the Forlornes. Along the way to pass the time, the group started a discussion about what it means to be a Xanadite. “Well, of course Xanadites have more fun--” laughed Tristan. Xanatos shared his experiences when it came to worship, and even had Sabine blushing. Shannon recalled one version of Xanadu’s creation story, “As the story goes, Noctis sacrificed himself for the creation of Xanadu so that brother would not turn against brother, and that the Age of Order would last for eternity.” Rex, though not a Xanadite like his other 5 companions, showed a lively interest in the lore. Lydia--Wisteria--remained in silent rumination. For the most part their journey was undeterred, though they did encounter the occasional hungry Cold beast. Finally, after weaving through miles of densely grown trees, Sabine stopped at a cave. They were standing in a deeply forested area, so canvased with tall, old evergreens that it made their midday journey appear like a shadowy twilight. “Here we are,” said Sabine, beginning to unlatch a ring of keys from her belt. Her hands shook. The unusually night-like afternoon and the chill in the air sent a eerie tingle down everyone’s spine. Rex lit a lantern, and the party entered the dark cave. Something was wrong. Whenever Ionnes had possessed Sabine to come here, the pleading, tired voices of the prisoners was the first thing she heard. She waited for those voices, their curses, their prayers. In a panic, she stole the lantern from Rex’s hand and ran ahead with it to the captured Tradesmen’s cells. The warm light of the lantern cast down onto empty cells, doors swung open. Sabine’s eyes widened and she fell to her knees on the earthen floor. The rest of the party caught up to her and examined the dozen empty cells. “Where are they?” Asked Shannon. “I don’t know…” Sabine replied softly. Shannon saw the devastated look on Sabine’s face and asked gently, “Are they somewhere else? Do you have more holding cells? Who else knew about them?” Sabine replied, “No more cells, I’m sorry, I don’t know…” she stared with unfocused eyes at the cell before her. “Could this help?” Lydia/Wisteria’s gentle voice chimed in from the dark. She walked over to Sabine and held out a note. “It was tied to a cell.” Illuminated under the lantern light, Xanatos crouched down next to Sabine and read the note aloud: [Attached as Image] Shannon was the first to speak, “Freya [ Kat A Lindia ]… I helped to dispel her subservience last night. She inspired me to come here with you, to save these Tradesmen.” Sabine still seemed to be in a daze. Xanatos spoke up in the dark cave, his words almost haunting, “She wasn’t looking for reconciliation when you dispelled her, Shannon. She was looking for revenge.” Shannon’s matter-of-fact response rang in Sabine’s ears: “Yeah, pretty obvious. She said she wanted to kill Sabine…”
  • Jarod T.
    Feb 2, 2018

    Aiden Skalgi Isle of Asgarn 1 Febris 1018 A.Order The long ship with the red dragon prow was still sliding along the dock when Aiden Skalgi leapt over the rail. He landed on the wooden planks and pushed through the crowd, hurrying toward the shore. His guardsmen followed him, one falling, the others cursing as they tried to keep up with him. Aiden laughed. It was good to be home. He passed a group of soldiers from Shorian and Kell. He paused to thank them for coming to protect his people. A Shorian officer saluted him. Instead of returning the salute, he clapped the man on his shoulder and told him to come by the great hall. “There will be celebration tonight.” Aiden knew where he would find his family. They would be far from the docks, likely outside of the city, gathered in a camp with others from their town. Poor folk from the outlying communities didn’t have money to purchase rooms in town, so he headed out of the city with his guardsmen trotting behind him. His old friend, Gistav, had picked the guards, all young axmen from noble families wanting to become great through association with him. He did not know them well, but there would be time to win them over and ensure their loyalty. If not, Gistav intended to use them as hostages against their fathers should any raise their axes against Aiden’s claim. None of that was important right now. The only thing that mattered to him was finding his family. He asked directions at the first ramshackle camp he found and was told where to find the people from his village. He could no longer jog. The pace was not fast enough. He broke into a run. He crested a hill and saw a familiar tent. He recognized faces, people from his village. He hollered down to them and his run became a sprint. A few people looked in his direction. His guardsmen hurried to keep pace, some of them falling back. He didn’t care. Thora, his wife, stepped from the tent. She brushed a strand of hair out of her face, looking around to see what the commotion was. Then, her eyes met his. She started to run. They met on the road. Embracing. Kissing. She held his cheeks. “Don’t ever leave again!” she told him. “I won’t,” he promised. His son, Arvid, reached them and wrapped his arms around them both. “Father,” he cried. There were tears on the boys face, but Aiden did not chastise him for being weak, as he generally did. The boy would never be a fighter and that was all right. He had decided that if Arvid wanted to be a scholar, then he would send the boy to Guildhall. Aiden looked toward the tent. His daughter Disa was limping toward them on her twisted leg, carrying a practice shield and wooden sword. After a short distance, she dropped them in the road in order to hurry. Disa wanted to be a shield maiden, so she would never cry in front of him. He could see the emotion in her face as he embraced her. She was his favorite. His tough little girl, crippled at birth by the gods so cruel, but never giving up on her dream. His family stood together, holding each other for a long time. The fighting men and women of their village started to trickle in. Other families joined in happy reunions, knots of laughter along the road. A few would not be returning and he heard the grief stricken wails. Their sorrow cut him deeply, but he pushed it away. It was not his fault. He had forced no man or woman to accompany him on the raid to the Dale. They had come on Gunther’s promise of riches and died for that mad fool’s greed. Aiden had picked up the pieces and brought them all home. If not for him and the Guildsmen of Evermoore, they’d still be killing and dying their way across the Dale. “Let’s go home,” Thora said to him, she looked longingly toward the high mountains, far inland from the coast. Towards the village he had once ruled. It had been a poor place and he had no wish to return there. “To our drafty house?” he asked her with a grin. “To our farm of rocks?” She would not meet his eyes. “Let’s just go home and make do,” she said at last. “Arvin?” asked Aiden. “What about you wanting to be a scholar.” The young man shook his head. “I’ll help on the farm. You and mother can’t do it alone.” “Let’s go home father,” said Disa. “I can practice sword and shield anywhere. I’m ready for you to teach me some more of your tricks.” “I am sure you are.” He tussled her hair. She dodged away, stumbling slightly on her leg. A stumble like that in a real fight would mean her death. “I practice every day,” she insisted. “She does,” affirmed Thora, but there was a sadness in her voice because she knew that a crippled girl would never be a shield maiden. She would never pass the tests, and if she did, death would find her quickly. “Then let’s go home,” he told them, smiling large to hide his concern. They gathered their things. Aiden helped them, stuffing threadbare blankets, an old pot, five chipped plates, and mis-matched flatware into one sack. Some worn clothes went into the other. The bedding was tied into bundles and soon they stood in front of their tent. Arvin and Disa moved to take it down. “Leave it,” Aiden told them. “Let’s go home.” He started walking back toward the city. His family did not follow. “Come along,” he motioned. “Father,” said Disa, laughing. “Our house is that way.” “No,” Aiden said firmly. “In that direction was the place where four of my children starved, sickened, and died. Our home is this way.” Thora sighed, shook her head. “Aiden,” she said in the voice she used when he carried a joke too far. “We are done with raiding. You were right. Let’s just go home. Children take down the tent.” Arvin and Disa pulled out the stakes and the cloth fell in on itself. Aiden crossed his arms and waited as the children worked. Gistav walked up with another group of raiders returning to their loved ones. Gistav had never married. He always said, ‘why have one woman when you can have many.’ He was Aiden’s oldest friend. His house was down the street from theirs. He was a carpenter by trade, but fancied himself a bard. He’d spend so much time with Aiden and his family that Thora often remarked he was like another child for her to care for. “Thanks for waiting on the docks,” grumbled Gistav. The large man was out of breath. “I bet you ran the whole way.” “I did,” Aiden replied. “I guess I would have run too if I had Thora to come back to.” Gistav laughed loudly at his joke. “Hello Thora.” “I’m glad you’re not dead.” Thora told him. “What are they doing?” asked Gistav, pointing to the children. “Packing our tent,” Aiden shrugged. “I see that,” Gistav shook his head. “But why?” “My wife told them too. They always listen to her more than they listen me.” The people in the village were beginning to gather around them. Strange looks of awe on their faces. Some were talking to Aiden’s guardsmen. Others were gesturing toward Aiden and looking back to the town. “Children,” said Gistav. “Come over here.” “We are working,” Disa said, indignantly folding the tent. They never listened to Gistav. Gistav walked over and stepped on the cloth. “You don’t need this old tent.” Disa stood up. “You’re in the way.” Her voice was cross, but she was not angry. Gistav always teased her. “We need that tent to get home.” She pushed his ample belly, but he did not move. “You are home child,” Gistav told her. “Look there.” He pointed to the high house on the hill overlooking the town, dead king Harjen’s Hall with its beautiful woodwork and magnificent views. “That is where you live now. Your father is our King.”

2017 by Mystic Realms, LTD.

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