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Heroes of a Sundered Sky

Tane

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a part of Heroes of a Sundered Sky, by Everscale.

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Everscale holds sovereignty over Tane, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Tane

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Tane is a part of Heroes of a Sundered Sky.

6 Characters Here

Caelin Skyholme [1] "Who me? I'm nobody special."
Luna Nightswift [1] "As long as I'm paid in money and blood, my sword is yours."
Claenereth Dwin'anea [1] "My duty is a burden I bear with gladness in my heart."
Kevril Loreweaver [1] "I've no business beyond my wood. I'll leave the rest of the world to chance."
Yasryne Everhund [1] "The spider's kiss is my way to die."
Narisaa Feledor [1] "Give me the power to alter the flow of the timestream."

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Kevril Loreweaver


The forest had grown quiet with the passing of the thunderstorms which had raked the countryside overnight. The great black clouds still rose like mountains in the far west, drifting steadily further away, wreaking their havoc on other lands now. The Thenet Wood dripped and glistened with sunlight and water, casting tiny fragments of light into all sorts of forest-born shadows. Kevril, always a lover of storms, and of the world that followed them, padded through the gold-lit moss and ferns as though walking through a fog of wonder. There was nothing more enchanting than an elven woodland in a halo of sunlight.

He walked without snapping twig or rustling leaf, like a predator stalking its prey, though at that time he was not searching for anything in particular. He had learned how to move in the forest without disturbing the wildlife around him, a human with the skills of an elf. They called him a prodigy – at least, the elvish word for prodigy – for it was commonly assumed that all humans were bumbling fools without respect for nature. Perhaps they were. Kevril did not know. He had hardly met more than ten humans over the course of his life, growing up alone in this forest, apart from the occasional company of an elfchild who had wandered a little too far from Elfingrove and sought Kevril out to bring them home. He was a solitary creature, and saw no reason why that should be a bad thing. He, personally, thought humans should spend more time alone. Perhaps then they would spend less time fighting.

Brushing aside a graceful pine frond, one of the rare pines which had migrated down from the drow’s land of Burson to encroach upon the warmer-weather deciduous trees of Thenet, he stepped out into a circle of light. The clearing was small, but bright and carpeted in young green grass. Spring had brought warmth with it, and the chill of the rainstorm which still hung in the air was chased away by the glitter. Kevril reached up and pulled the soft green cloak he wore to keep off the night’s cold off of his shoulders, revealing bronze muscles to the day. Absentmindedly he reached up, fingering his delicate wolf-bone cross as he watched the skies. Every morning, she came here. Shae would surely find him here.

But there was no sign of her. Not even a shrill call to let him know she was coming. Not even a dead mouse waiting for him, to tell him she would be back later. She was a well-trained hawk. She did not simply up and leave without leaving some sort of message for him. Which was apparently exactly what she had done…

Drawing a deep sigh, Kevril straightened his bow and quiver over his back. He was going to have to go looking for her. If she had been flying in the night’s storm, it was possible she had been blown off track. Injured, somehow. He paused for a moment, hesitant. He hated the thought of leaving Thenet, even for a day or two to find his precious companion… but the winds had been blowing west last night, and if Shae had been brushed away by the storm, that was where she would be. Out of Thenet wood.

Closing his eyes, committing himself, he struck out to the west. For Delta.
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Yasryne Everhund


The boulder provided little protection from the blinding sunlight, as its very surface seemed to gather up the warmth and glow and reflect it back on the black-skinned temptress who huddled in its shadow. She had bound a spare strip of black cloth about her eyes to save her vision, but that was all that she could do. The light came from everywhere, overwhelming to a woman who had lived her entire life in the great network of caverns beneath Burson Pines. She had never ventured to the surface with the warrior patrols, never seen the sun before. She was a strong woman, a warrior, a killer, and the heir to the Queen Mother of her clan. That did not mean the sun could not burn her. It had taken all of her strength to just to flee as far as this boulder, when the sun had come up that morning. She had come out at night, as advised. Now she wished she had not. Traveling at night, she was far from the safety of the Burson caves by the time the sun showed its face.

Drawing a shuddering breath, Yasryne curled into a tighter ball, yanking her hood further up over her white hair. She would get used to it. Queen Mother had promised that she would adjust. All drow who came to the surface did. This was simply her first trip, it would be the most painful, she would get over it. She hoped. She prayed, even, to both Misara, her goddess, and Helkara, who ruled over the rest of her people. Night, or the end of her pain, whichever came first, she prayed that it would come quickly.
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Narisaa Feledor


The scents of pine incense, old paper, and melting candle-wax burned in Narisaa’s nose, familiar and comforting and infuriating all in the same instant. He flipped through his spellbook, one page after another, reading and reviewing and memorizing just as he had done every day for every year that he had been here. When he was younger he had dreamed of this life, holed up in the study of a mage twenty, thirty, forty times as powerful as he was, reading the mage’s book, studying the mage’s spells, taught by the mage. He still dreamed of it, still loved this life, under the tutelage of the powerful and unusually peaceable black-robe, Kitherine Damacus. He loved the magic more than he loved anything in the world, and by extension he loved his master, who gave him that magic.

He was, however, growing bored with this theoretical application of magics which were meant to be practiced. He had cast the spells before, of course, occasionally on creatures Kitherine brought back from his travels for use as a teaching tool. He had seen their effects, fought battles in the subterranean parts of the tower, Kitherine’s great Labyrinth of Maegus. He had made it snow indoors, turned beasts inside out, summoned demons. All of it within the comfortable safety of Kitherine’s warding spells. There was no risk to it! What was the point of all this vast and powerful magic if he had to cast it where he could not be hurt? It was not as though he wasn’t grateful to Kitherine for his concern, but Narisaa was ready. He knew he was ready – he wanted to venture out alongside his master, travel the lands he had hardly seen since coming here, gather magics from far off places. Learn something other than what Kitherine could teach him. He wanted to learn more than what Kitherine knew. How else could he become stronger than Kitherine, said to be the strongest mage in Tane?

With a low groan, Narisaa snapped the spellbook shut, banishing the flickering flame of a candle with an irritable wave. He could not read those words any more. Not today. He had read them too many times now, memorized them to the point where they could never be forgotten, and still Kitherine expected him to continue this same work. Memorizing and re-memorizing spells which were of no used to him trapped up here in this veritable prison of a tower.

He was just working himself into a quiet fury when the high, songlike ring of a string of bells announced a strange presence at the door. Narisaa looked up, frowning. They were expecting no visitors…

“Answer it!” Kitherine’s voice called from the next room, quiet and distracted. Clearly, the archmage was absorbed in his work. Clearly, he knew that Nari wasn’t. He could be interrupted. Narisaa twitched slightly, annoyed by the way Kitherine always seemed to know everything that was going on with everyone around him. No doubt he knew exactly what Narisaa had been thinking only moments before. The apprentice berated himself – he really had to get a handle on his thoughts.

Muttering a quiet spell, as though it were an oath, he vanished from his desk and appeared before the great black doors of his dark master’s tower. Built of some wood long since extinct, without handle or lever, only a mage could have opened the great wooden barricades. Even then, most wizards could not have done it. Kitherine, who sat among the senior seats of the Conclave, had the power. He had granted that power to Narisaa. Had he not, when the boy laid his palm across the ice cold surface, the door would have eaten him alive.

As it was, the black wood gave way, swinging open to reveal to their guest the red-haired, black-robed young man they doubtless would not have expected. Few people knew that Kitherine had taken an apprentice. Countless times Nari had been mistaken for Kitherine, always an interesting mistake to correct. Sometimes he wished he could simply impersonate his master. It would allow him to return to his studies more quickly.

“Welcome,” he called in a soft voice to the visitor, who still stood obscured by the door’s shadow. “I am Narisaa. You have come here for my Master?”

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Caelin Skyholme


Caelin sighed to himself, folding his hands behind his head. Presently, he strode along an ill-used deer path without any particular sense of urgency. Maferath mumbled something about humans and a poor sense of direction in the back of his mind, but if the old dragon had really cared for a response, he would have been louder, impossible to ignore.

It wasn’t as though he’d become lost in the forest by accident, after all. One of the best things a person could do was get himself lost in a place as beautiful as this, and Caelin had entered the wood with this precise goal in mind. He loved cities, too, but in truth there was something unanswerable to be said for the wild grace of such places as this one, where water droplets fell from the canopy high above, sounding almost musical in their patter against the earth. The sunlight filtered down through those same verdant shades, dappling the ground beneath his feet in strange and fantastical patterns. Someone of his mindset could do nothing more than contemplate them for days, without difficulty or boredom.

He was aware that these forests belonged to the elvenkin, but… he remembered vaguely something about that, as though his purpose here would protect him. Almost as though he’d been before, only-

The dragon rumbled in his head, the mental noise effectively drowning out any thoughts, and Caelin flinched. Apparently, he’d gone treading too close to things he wasn’t supposed to know again. Sometimes, it frustrated him to no end that his mind was not entirely his own, but for some reason, he also knew that Maferath and the memories he could not recall were linked in some way, and the best way to recover those recollections was to convince the dragon to relinquish them.

Shaking his head, he allowed his thoughts to fade outward, embracing the sensations of the forest. The sounds of waking creatures filled his ears, under it all the faint cadence of his own heartbeat. His steps punctuated the song, until he altered them so he was moving with the natural rhythm of the forest, rather than against it. Rain and green life were the scents most predominant in the air that moved languidly over his skin, still damp and heavy in the early morning. He found that it wasn’t too hard to get a sense for where the trees were, even with his eyes closed, so he left them so for a while, walking through the trees as though he were a blind man.

Opening them again after an indeterminate amount of time had passed, he spotted what he was looking for; a magnificent old tree, standing alone and yet perfectly integrated with the rest of the forest. Grinning broadly, Caelin padded up to it and ran a hand long the roughened bark, feeling the pulse of life-energy in the trunk. Slow, steady, and deep, as aged plants tended to be. So different from the bright flares in things like rabbits, or the overflowing rush that was a healthy person.

Settling himself at the base of the tree, upon a raised root, the monk assumed lotus position, allowing his hands to drape loosely over his knees. His staff, he removed from its fastenings at his back, and placed on the ground beside him. He doubted he’d need it, but it never hurt to have such things close at hand, now did it?



Luna Nightswift


Damn that Fox and his bloody oath-breaking, piss-drinking lackeys, too. Luna’s teeth ground against one another with her frustration. If she’d had her ship, this trip to Delta would have been nothing. What’s more, she probably wouldn’t have needed to make it in the first place!

As it was, however, mutiny was not kind to one’s transportation options, even if one was a notorious mercenary captain. She snorted derisively and shook her head, disheveling her unusual striped locks. Captain Nightswift, a name on many a portsman’s tongue. If you needed a job done right and done cleanly, she was your go-to resource… assuming you had the coin to make it worth her while. Now, all of it was gone, just because her first mate had decided he’d like to try his hand at river-pirating. Bastard.

Without her conscious notice, the Archblade’s hands had gone to her swords, and she forced them away calmly. She hadn’t wanted to kill any of them. It was with that crew that she earned her way up the mercenary ladder, and with them that she thought she would end her days on some enemy blade, the sort of thing bards would sing about for generations.

She should have skewered them all when she had the chance.

Instead, she’d jumped overboard and swum the river until she hit shore. Rumor had it that some new gang of pirates was terrorizing the river up and down, but made their base in Delta. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. Nobody who had the audacity to use her name to steal from the populace was going to live if she had a say about it. Biting back the rising anger that threatened to make her violent to the next poor fool she saw, Luna slowed her furious tread. Delta would be over the horizon soon enough. Working herself up like this wasn’t going to achieve anything, and she was a practical woman if nothing else.

Which was why, when she came upon the traveler huddled behind the stone, apparently in great misery, her first instinct was to keep on walking. The woman could have some kind of disease for all she knew, and though Luna had through conscientious habit been able to avoid scurvy for all her years on-board a ship, she’d never been any kind of healer, and really didn’t want to risk it.

There was just something so… sad about it, though, and Luna was pretty sure she was feeling something akin to sympathy, which was most odd to her. This woman (for she was fairly certain it was a woman, despite the hunched figure covered by a cloak), looked about as out of place here on the road as she felt on land instead of the decks of her precious ship.

Her indifference to other people warred with this unfamiliar sympathy, and in the end, the new feeling won out by just a hair. Approaching the hunched figure, she noted the dark grey skin and reached the conclusion that the woman was drow. Unusual, out here. Most of the drow she’d ever heard of either stuck to their pine forest and caves or else the more urban areas, where they could still be indoors as often as possible. Glancing up, she took note of the cloudless sky and put two and two together fairly quickly.

“Didn’t think it’d be quite so bright, did you?” she asked. Her tone, though gruff, was not necessarily unkind. Crouching in front of the drow, elbows on her knees, Luna took note of the traveler’s strange clothing choices beneath the cloak and allowed one eyebrow to ascend her forehead. She’d seen prostitutes with more in the way of coverage, but then maybe it was some cultural thing she didn’t know about. Whatever.



Claenereth Dwin’anea


It was an uncanny feeling, to know you were being watched. The funny thing was, every time she turned to see what was so interesting, the people watching suddenly averted their eyes, leaving Claenereth quite puzzled. Well, a few didn’t, cracking slow smiles at her, and she tried to smile back, though something in their eyes often gave her pause and made her feel uneasy.

She tried to remind herself that she was staring just as much. She’d never been outside of her forest before, and never so much as seen a human until she began this journey (well, one half-human, but to her he was so elven that it didn’t really count). It most certainly wasn’t just the humans though- kinderlings, drow, she’d even spotted a dwarf! It all had her staring around in wide-eyed wonder.

She seemed to have hit a marketplace of some kind, from all the brightly-colored cloth and the smell of exotic spice. People yelled to be heard over one another, and it was starting to give her a headache. She felt a touch of warmth on her clavicle, though, and knew that Misara sent her comfort. Still, Clae wondered why she’d been chosen for all this. Surely, there were better people for a holy mission from the goddess; she was simply a huntress, one among a number of devoted providers for Elfingrove and the surrounding areas. She’d always said her prayers and lifted her voice in song to the heavens when asked, and certainly, always found comfort in knowing that her goddess was there, but she was no priestess, no cleric, and no attendant at the hallowed temple. What was more, she knew little of the languages spoken here, and less of the culture. What if she did something horribly wrong, and this mage did not want to help her?

She swallowed heavily, realizing not for the first time that she had absolutely no idea what to do.

Apparently, she looked that way, too, for she was seized by the hand and dragged towards a market stall. She tried to protest, but she didn’t want to hurt anyone- maybe this was a normal thing? The merchant who’d grasped her was speaking too fast for her to understand, and showing her pretty trinkets. She shook her head emphatically; she had no time, nor currency. This only seemed to increase his insistence, though, and she found that she didn’t quite know what to do. “Please… I have none…” she’d forgotten what humans called their coins, but he seemed to understand, letting go so abruptly that she quite nearly staggered backwards, saved only by reflex.

Hurrying away, she continued to wind her way deeper into the city, guided only by a faint instinct that wasn’t quite hers. It was the same feeling that had gotten her here, though, so she knew it must be Misara’s doing, somehow. Clae had only these feelings and a single name to go with her directive, but she trusted that this would be enough. It had to be.

It seemed that she was guided towards the spire of a tower close to the center of the city, and as she drew ever closer, her chest constricted uncomfortably, something between awe and fear holding her in its sway. She had never seen such a massive structure of stone. Chewing her lip nervously, she forced the fear down and straightened her spine. She was a huntress of her people, a proud citizen of Elfingrove, and she had faced more tangible dangers before. She would not allow herself to be afraid before there was anything to fear.

Not much later, she found herself at the door. Taking a deep breath, Claenereth knocked thrice, then stood back, hugging a nearby shadow out of instinct. It was what she’d been taught to do, to use the environment to its greatest advantage. There were no trees here, but it was not trees alone that cast shade.

The door swung back, and a soft voice spoke, easing some of the tension in her shoulders. It was not haughtily demanding that she show herself, though for some reason she had expected the person that she needed to see would be alone. She wasn’t really certain how to answer the question, because she had no idea who the young man’s master was. Gathering her fortitude, she stepped out of her cloaking shadow, trying to smile. It mostly worked, she thought.

“Please pardon me,” she began, lilting accent rolling her r’s and drawing her vowels into musical trills. “I do not know if he is master, but I come for… Lord Kitherine Damacus…?” she struggled slightly with the sentence, but gave Kitherine the title she thought probably applied. Were all people of sufficient status ‘Lord’ to humans as they were to elves? She was unsure.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril traced his path towards the edge of Thenet with confidence. There were no defined path here – the elves travelled more often in the high branches than the ground, and so needed no roads, and the animals rarely passed the same way often enough to keep the brush from growing along their tracks. The ‘path’ that Kevril followed was one which had been known to the rugged half-elf since he was barely old enough to live on his own, since he had begun to live alone. Not a path, a direction. A simple knowledge of where he needed to go, and generally why. To Delta, because that was where the storm had gone. That was where Shae would be. And Shae could need his help.

He did not particularly care what he passed through on the way – swamp, forest, meadow, all were the same to the ranger. He knew how to survive in most wild situations. He had experienced them all, and survived them all, as a child – fallen down a rabbit hole, gotten stuck in the swamp, toppled from the highest limbs of a tree. It had not been an easy childhood, nor a pleasant one, but he had survived it. He was still here, and now a master of this wood.

As such, it had always been very difficult to surprise the ranger. He did not often stumble across something – or someone – he did not expect. Perhaps because the elves so rarely allowed strangers within their borders. This, in the end, was why he stopped and stared when he stepped out into the space beneath the spreading branches of what was, aside from Elfingrove itself, the forest’s largest tree. There, leaning up against the trunk, legs folded into what seemed to Kevril a remarkably unnatural angle, was a monk. At least, he thought it must be a monk. The elves had spoken of these meditating travellers, and Kevril had certainly never encountered one before, nor had he encountered something looking like this stranger before. His only real clue was that he man appeared to be meditating…

Kevril was not the sort to interrupt important rituals, nor in fact to interrupt someone at all. More often than not if he encountered someone in the forest who was not and elf he would simply fade into the underbrush and wait for them to leave. This man, however, seemed unaware of his surroundings, and that was dangerous in Thenet, if you lacked an invitation from the elves. Even if he was aware… it was difficult to dodge an arrow shot from an elven bow when one was sitting in such a position. Not that Kevril had ever tried it before. He was generally on friendly terms with, and well known to, the elves.

And so with only the best of intentions, he approached the monk at the tree, soft-footed and empty-handed.

“Friend,” he called quietly. “You put yourself at risk here.”
______________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


“Didn’t think it’d be quite so bright, did you?” she asked. Her tone, though gruff, was not necessarily unkind.

Yasryne twitched slightly and looked up too fast, alarmed at the sudden appearance of another being, forgetting that even through the cloth, for her, the sun was bright. She cried out in pain and hastily covered her eyes with her hands, lowering her head once more to stare at the relatively unlit ground.

“No,” she spat bitterly, her words rough with the harsh and yet beautiful accent of her people. “How could I know? It was dark before!”

She felt like a fool, now. Her people told tales of the horrible ball of fire that rose in the sky when the moon was not there. Sky… the sky itself was terrifying to her. Too vast, too open and terrifying, it never ended. Not like cavern ceilings, with their glistening, dripping spires and glowing fungi. Not like her home, back with her family, with the people she loved. Why the hell had she been chosen to come out here? She, with the fear of open spaces, the fear of seeing too much. She, more frightened of the surface even than most of her kind.

She uttered a low oath in the tongue of the Underground, shifting slightly so that her cloak fell from her shoulder, blocking off some of the light which was scalding her gray-black skin. She needed to get out of the sunlight, badly, but how could she if she could not walk through it? She had tried, but the light was too much for a cave-dweller. Too much too soon. She would adjust, they had told her. But when?
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Narisaa Feledor


Narisaa’s quick eyes whisked across the newcomer’s slender form. A young woman, elven in origin, judging by the pointed ears and the lilting accent. Well, that was unusual. Most elves did not venture far from their precious Elfingrove, and especially not to come visit a mage of the dark robes. The girl looked scared. Not surprising. Such light creatures were not generally welcomed by mages of Helkara. Especially not those of Kitherine’s rank.

He drew a long sigh, choosing to ignore the misplaced title. Technically, Kitherine was Maegus Damacus, but among elves ‘lord’ was a common term of respect. Narisaa had been well versed in the ways of other lands, other peoples. Kitherine had taught him not to contest the cultures of others. At least not until they felt comfortable with him.

”Send her in, Nari,” Kitherine’s voice echoed through the vaults of Narisaa’s mind. He twitched slightly at the affectionate nickname. He had enjoyed it when he was a child, but he was older and wiser now. No longer a child to be coddled and comforted by his father-figure. He wanted his independence. Kitherine seemed unwilling to give that.

Narisaa shook the dark thoughts off and turned once more to their timid foreign guest. He bowed slightly to her, flame-toned curls tumbling over his shoulders, black robes rustling.
“Please, come in,” he murmured, speaking in the lilting tones of elvish. He had learned the language to read elven magic, but he might as well put the knowledge to as much use as possible. “My Master waits for you.”

Narisaa straightened up again and stepped aside, beckoning the young elf into the hall. He closed the door behind her, and for one long moment the entire room was swathed in impermeable darkness. Nari was accustomed to the shadows of this tower, he could have found his way through the tower without ever summoning up light, and frequently did. This elf, however, would not be comfortable with the silent shadows. There were eyes in the shadows, magical spirits, constructs of Kitherine’s mind and will. Monsters he had created, and he controlled. Had this elf come here uninvited, entered without being admitted by either Kitherine or Narisaa, those shadowy creations would have stripped her flesh from her bones. Now, they hovered reluctantly a few feet away, brushing plaintively against Narisaa, pleading with him to give her to them. He ignored the pathetic begging. They would be fed soon, Kitherine would see to that.

Whispering yet another word of magic, Narisaa dispelled the momentary darkness and filled the room with sourceless light. Expressionless, eyes dead calm, he held a hand out to the nervous guest.
“I will bring you to Kitherine.”

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Caelin Skyholme


Caelin willingly admitted to himself that no place his own people had ever constructed could match the sheer natural splendor of this forest. It was not merely for the fact that it was aesthetically pleasing, for he was not a shallow man by any means. Rather, the sensations of life and energy that moved about him were the extraordinary element- the raw diversity in the things that dwelled here. To his meditating senses, the forest was a song, composed for full orchestra. The throbbing bass notes of old plants, underscored by the drone and pulse of the tree at his back- like the last faint echoes of the gong in the practice yard of the monastery. The harmonious thrumming of grasses and ivies and mosses, the keening tinkle of insectoid life-force, and the powerfully-melodious strains of birds and rodents.

Listen more closely- do you hear it? Maferath’s voice was its own baritone rumble, and Caelin strained his magical awareness until at last he understood. Something approached, something neither plant nor beast, though it was difficult to tell from where. He was not aware of any burgeoning hostility, though, and so thought that perhaps his fellow wanderer would pass by without notice or care for the humble monk at the base of so great a tree.

He was, as he found himself often to be, quite mistaken. “Friend. You put yourself at risk here.”

Caelin cracked an eyelid, quickly finding the source of the voice. An unarmed man, though he seemed to be just as much of the forest as the elves were said to be. An enviable state of being, the monk was slowly deciding. He bobbed his head amicably, disturbing his disheveled mane of hair somewhat, and grinned. “Truth be told, we put ourselves at risk everywhere these days, don’t we?” The outside world of cities and politics and people was no safer than the forest with possibly-hostile elves; he knew this well enough.

Standing slowly so as not to provoke hostility, he dusted off his knees. “Still, I’ll heed a warning important enough to be given. Though… I was led to believe I’m just as likely to be shot as spoken to…” he finally opened his other eye, taking up his staff in one hand, leaning on it so as to maintain his air of ease. If he could be found here this easily, it probably wasn’t wisest idea to remain. He was confident in his own skills, but also a non-confrontational sort of person.

Looking around, he seemed to remember something, and his grin faltered slightly, becoming sheepish. Scratching the back of his head with a degree of awkwardness, he spoke with a bit more seriousness. “Erm… that is… I don’t suppose you know the way out? I must confess I’ve been wandering around in here for a good week, and may have… gotten lost on purpose, you see.” Things like directions generally tended to come to him when he needed them and not before, and he was only too content to follow the haphazard streams of life as they led him where they may.



Luna Nightswift


“How could I know? It was dark before!”

Well, that confirmed it. This one was a cave-child, no doubt about it. Gods knew how many years under the ground, and then all of a sudden, the sun rises on you for the first time. Luna couldn’t imagine that it was pleasant. Sighing, the once-captain shifted slightly on the balls of her feet so that her crouch placed her directly within the eyeline of the stranger without forcing her to look up all that much from the ground. Why she cared was beyond her, but it would be absolute bollocks to burn your retinas out, she supposed.

Maybe she should consider doing that to Fox, when she caught the greasy fool.

“You know,” she started in an easy drawl, “We’re really not too far from Delta, here. If you’re really that in need of some nice darkness, you could wrap that cloak over your head-” Here, she paused for a moment, considering. “Actually, don’t do that. You’d probably bake, too.” The thought brought a wry twist to the mercenary’s lips. The whole situation was rather funny, if anyone were to ask her, but doubtless her counterpart here would disagree.

The woman tilted her head to one side, tapping her lower lip with her index finger. She wasn’t in the business of charity, and she really doubted that someone so unprepared for the sun of all things had remembered that surfacers used different currency, so her chances of getting paid for this were slim. A small, exasperated puff of air left her lungs, and she tugged at the fabric around her neck, dislodging the black scarf there. She’d keep her cloak; it was too heavy to serve the right purpose anyway.

“Here, shield your eyes with this, yeah? If you’re headed for Delta, I’ll get you where you need to go. You’ll owe me something, of course, but we can work that out later.” Mayhaps the woman’s destination would be interesting, or she knew somebody important enough to help procure a new ship and a crew for it. It was a thin chance, but it was still a chance, and Luna had always enjoyed playing the odds.

“If you’re not sure you can follow blind, you can hold my cloak or something, suit yourself. What do you say?” The half-blood shrugged to indicate her own lack of concern with whatever decision the woman would make. Maybe she’d just rather wait around until dark and not risk owing a favor to a stranger. Either way, it was no skin off her teeth. Might actually be better that way; what the minstrels would say if they heard that the infamous Captain Nightswift was helping displaced pilgrims find their destinations!



Claenereth Dwin’anea


She was being studied, but Clae was hardly surprised, and at least this kind was not as uncomfortable as some of the others. She decided she might as well do the same, and glanced alternately between the youth who had received her and the shadowy depths of the tower beyond. She suspected that he couldn’t be much older than she was, but something about his bearing suggested knowledge beyond such a tender number. If she had any thoughts about what a dark mage was supposed to look like, it was not this- his coloration was not so different from hers (only vastly paler than her honey-tan), and he had a strangely-open face.

Something in the back of her mind sounded a warning; was it not true that the prettiest, most innocent-looking flowers in the forest often held some of the deadliest poison? A pertinent analogy, maybe, but she couldn’t bring herself to distrust someone before she knew anything about them, and his use of her own native tongue at once put her at ease and made her slightly embarrassed. His command of the elvish language was nearly flawless, and she could scarcely twist her tongue around the words of his.

“Thank you,” she spoke with slightly more assurance, and the door fell closed behind her. The room was instantly blanketed in inky-dark, and the hairs at the back of Clae’s neck stood up. There was something insidious whispering at the edges of her awareness, and she knew enough magic to recognize it for what it was. She had never once needed a light spell in all her years in the forest; her own vision and the illumination of the moon and stars had staved off the terror of nighttime. Here, though, the darkness was an almost palpable presence, pressing in against her nose and mouth as if to suffocate her slowly, and her nervous tension spiked in a rush of adrenaline.

Suddenly, the room was lit, and she could breathe again. A soft sigh of relief whispered its way between her lips, and she shook her head at her own foolishness, a ripple of wine-red hair snaking its way over her shoulder with the movement.

“I will bring you to Kitherine,” her host said, as though nothing whatsoever were amiss, and she supposed that for him, nothing was. She felt almost as though she were walking against her own nature in this place, but if it was one’s life, it would probably seem less frightening. He held his hand outstretched, and she was unsure what this indicated. Was she to take it?

She could discern no other reason for it, and so she did, slipping her long-fingered hand into his. It felt a little better to have something solid to grasp, as though she were once again a child and her mother was taking her on her first hunt. It had been that same heady rush of danger and the unknown, but that had been in her forest, with her family to protect her.

Now, though… now she might as well have been all alone.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril blinked slowly at the monk as he came to his feet, seeming to accept the ranger’s warning. He started to turn away, ignoring some comment about being shot, planning on vanishing back into the forest and, good deed done, hunt further on towards Delta for any sign of Shae. The stranger seemed, however, far more social a creature than Kevril usually was. He spoke again.

“Erm… that is… I don’t suppose you know the way out? I must confess I’ve been wandering around in here for a good week, and may have… gotten lost on purpose, you see.”

The ranger stopped for a moment. He stood suspended between one choice and another – show the monk the way out or leave him for the elves to deal with. It wasn’t really a choice. Kevril did not particularly enjoy the company of non-elves, but he was also a sensitive and relatively compassionate person. He was heading out of the forest, anyways, and he had been on the wrong end of an elf’s arrow before. It was not an experience he would wish on just anyone.

“Come with me,” he murmured, his voice low and gravelly, seeming to merge with the birdsong and sunlight of Thenet Wood. His hand came up across his bare, bronze chest once more to clench around the wolf-bone cross. “I am walking toward Delta. Don’t slow me down.”

His command was not meant to be unfriendly. Kevril simply did not have the time to waste showing a traveler around when his precious hawk might be out on the plains somewhere, lost, unable to fly, vulnerable to attack by anything and everything that might stalk the boulder-strewn grasses of the Icefields. He would not hesitate to leave the monk in the dust, if it meant the survival of Shae. Kevril had his priorities.
_____________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne was of a proud breed – a drow and a temptress, she was loath to accept aid from anyone. Unpleasant tingles ran up her spine at the thought of owing this surface creature anything more than a dagger in the gut. If she had to come back up here into this horrible light to settle a debt… she’d rather slit her own throat and have her corpse thrown to the spiders.

In this moment, though, she had little choice. The Queen Mother of Everhund had sent her here, to the surface, to fulfill some obscure destiny prophesied by the Spider Goddess. If she returned now, unsuccessful, she would be disgraced for life, her family dishonored, her Queen Mother dethroned. She could not afford to fail now. With one trembling, aching hand, she took the strip of black cloth and bound it over the strip already in place. There was only a small sense of relief in the sudden and near complete darkness. She could still feel the sun through her scarlet cloak.

Drawing a deep breath, she reached out with hunting, sightless fingers and found the heavy fabric of the strange woman’s cloak. She was going to have to take this bargain, and perhaps find a way to escape her debt later. Perhaps. That depended upon what the woman wanted in terms of payment.

“Let us go,” she hissed, ears shifting beneath her cloak, pinning back in the manner of a displeased cat. In the depths of her mind, in the guttural tongue of the drow, she was cursing the great ball of fire which brought light to this world.
_____________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


Narisaa closed his fingers – long and thin and strong from spellcasting – around the elfmaiden’s hand. He gave her no opportunity to prepare herself for anything that he might do. Honestly, he did not care if he startled her. At this point he simply wanted to return to his magic. He took a deep breathe, pulling in the magic of the tower itself. Here it took no strength of will to cast a spell, if you knew what you were doing. Kitherine’s very presence imbued the stone walls with magic and allowed for free casting, without threat of exhaustion. He whispered one short word, quick and sharp like a biting snake, and the room around them changed.

It happened in the blink of an eye, as though they were simply once place, and then they were simply in another place. For one brief moment runes of transportation glowed blue in the gray stone of the walls, and then they faded and left behind a smooth surface that, to anyone not skilled in the arts of black magic, looked like no more than stone. They stood in a narrow hallways, undecorated and plain and remarkably cold. There was no need for decoration in the home of a mage, at least not outside the mage’s sleeping quarters. Anything they put up would only be knocked to the floor and broken in the midst of the tremors caused by some of their more impressive castings. Nari knew. He had felt the tower shake, made it shake, before.

“Wait here,” he told the elf, releasing her hand and stepping up to the sleek oaken surface of his master’s door. He had hardly laid his palm across the polished beams when a voice sang out from within.

“I have already invited her in, Narisaa,” Kitherine called. His voice seemed coarse, harsh, as though it had been used either too much or too little. Narisaa was fairly certain it was the former. Kitherine had been casting.

Offering no response to his Master, Narisaa pushed against the flat, handle-less door. It slid open on silent hinges, revealing the study of the Archmaegus Damacus. The room was deceptively small, comfortable for no more than four people at a time, and bare apart for a heavy mahogany table, topped in granite and scattered with seemingly disorganized spell components. The walls, though clearly stone beneath, were hung with enchanted tapestries which kept the magic cast in this room contained within this room. Without those hangings, Narisaa would, by now, be dead. In the far corner, a miniature snowstorm piled mounds of cold white fluff against the uncarpeted stone floor. That was one story the apprentice did not know. Undoubtedly a failed spell Kitherine had not yet found a way to remove.

For one long moment, they seemed to be alone in the great, magically lit study. It was only the soft pad of sued leather against stone which announced the approach of his master. Kitherine seemed to emerge from nothingness, stepping into their view swathed in silver-trimmed black. His robes rippled around him, formed of purest shadow, solid and yet immaterial. His face was invisible beneath the hood.

“Welcome, my Lady Claenereth,” he called in the same sore, whispering voice, like torn velvet. There was nothing comforting about his voice. He did not try to soften what he was – a mage of Helkara, his heart darker, it seemed, than the darkest of nights.

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Caelin Skyholme


Caelin nodded amicably to the suggestion that he follow; it would seem that the universe had seen to his needs once again and provided him with a guide outside of the forest. Of course, the way of his order was to always repay a kindness done, and so he asked the first question that came to his mind.

“Seems to me you’re a son of the forest, true as any elvenkin. May I ask why you feel the need to depart?” He was not so foolish as to believe that the man was going that far out of his way as to guide a single errant traveler out for no reason at all. Chances were, he was already headed that way himself, and had simply done the monk the favor of letting him tag along.

Of course, he could also tell that this man was like many of his fellow monks, in that, while apparently a kind fellow, probably preferred to be alone, so he didn’t press for an answer if one was not immediately forthcoming, instead respecting the silence of the forest. While a social person himself, Caelin was not unable to keep himself quiet, and if he really needed to have a conversation, Maferath was usually willing to oblige.

Instead, he focused on keeping up. Trained for long hours of exertion in chilly mountain climes, it was not beyond his ability to do so, and he considered it a courtesy to his guard. He was careful, though, not to step on living plants when he saw them. The sun had risen further into the sky while he was meditating, it seemed, for he could see it through the canopy and estimated that it was almost noon.



Luna Nightswift


If the woman’s tone was anything to go by, she was anything but pleased to be taking the bargain Luna offered, but seemed to believe that she had little choice. The mercenary stood slowly, allowing her passenger to take hold of her cloak before she moved off, slowly so as not to trip her up.

It was a bit of an ordeal getting back onto the road proper, but once they had made it and set a comfortable walking-pace, she glanced backwards a bit. “So, what do they call you?” she inquired, smiling a little at the predicament of a person she guessed would normally think of herself as quite dignified. Nothing like a little dose of the unfamiliar to strip that away, though. Whether or not her companion answered, she continued: “Captain Luna Nightswift, at your service, though I must admit that being without a ship, I’m not Captain of much, presently.”

So saying, she crested a hill, and Delta became visible in the distance, a descent of about a mile. The towering spore at the middle of the city loomed over most of the rest. From what she understood, the thing was home to a necromancer of some kind; Luna didn’t often brush elbows with magic, though she wasn’t particularly wary of it.

“We’re in sight of Delta… where exactly, did you need to go?”



Claenereth Dwin’anea


The momentary shifting of the magic permeating the air was the only warning Claenereth had that anything was about to happen. As it was, she knew enough to avoid panicking, but that didn’t stop her from going wide-eyed in surprise and gasping when she blinked and opened her eyes again to find that they had teleported. At least, that seemed the best word for it, as she could not recall moving in the slightest.

There was a small exchange between master and student, and Clae smiled at the sheer… normalcy of it. Nothing else about this place was ordinary at all, but it seemed that even when the art was dark magic, that relationship between teacher and pupil was quite similar to a kind she’d shared with her own instructors.

She entered the room with hesitancy, not really knowing what to expect and more than a little intimidated by the aura of the tower and the magic performed within. All the same, now was not the time to be silenced by fear, and so she stepped inside, trying to quell the tremors, tiny but distracting, in her limbs.

The room was much… smaller than she’d expected, and the first thing that she noticed was that there was a little bit of the outdoors inside, in the form of a miniature snowstorm. It was actually kind of cute, but she resisted the urge to step towards the one hint of the familiar, instead facing her host. She might have asked how he knew her name, but then perhaps it was the same way she knew his. Maybe it was magic, or perhaps he was simply reading her mind. The last was an uncomfortable thought, indeed, but she trusted Misara to protect her if it was really necessary. She had, after all, nothing to hide from him.

Swallowing thickly, she curtsied low, which she had gathered on the journey here was a way of showing respect unique to females. “Greetings, milord,” she intoned in the human tongue, though she suspected that if his apprentice could speak hers, he could too. It was still more respectful this way. “I… thank you for receiving me. You know who I am, but may I ask if you know why I come?” she didn’t want to tell him what he already knew and waste his time like a fool. Something told her he would not look too kindly upon that, and if what Misara said was true (and she of course believed that it was), she needed him to show her task at least some favor.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril shrugged slightly, rolling his muscles so that they glistened in the sunlight. His skin had browned to the point where he appeared almost half tree, more part of the forest than something living within it. Perhaps that was what gave him away. No elf, no matter how long they spent standing in the blinding sunlight, would bronze.

“My companion,” he answered in his usual clipped tone. It was not that he did not want to talk, nor even that he did not like to. He was simply a down-to-earth sort of man. He had no time nor inclination for flowery speeches. He said what he had to say, and that was it. “She blew away in the storm.”

He did not care that it might sound… odd. Most companions would not blow away in a heavy wind. Most companions were not light weight birds of prey, either. He saw no reason to explain, unless he was asked.

“Where do you travel?” he asked calmly. He might as well know, so that he could point the traveler in the right direction once they escaped the pleasant, dappled shadow of Tenet Wood.
_________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne limped along behind the woman, cringing in the sunlight and doing her best not to blindly lose her footing while she clung to Luna’s cloak. Back in her caves, the darkness would have been nothing to her. She could see with even the slightest fragment of light. This brilliance, on the other hand…

“Some necromancer’s tower,” Yasryne answered shortly. “Kitherine Damacus… I think.”

The name felt strange on her tongue. She was unaccustomed to speaking outside of the caves, unaccustomed to conversing with any creature but a drow. It was then that she realized she did not know what this companion of hers was. Being blind… well, it was frankly hell. The sooner her eyes adjusted, the better.

“I’m not going to be able to find it on my own,” she admitted begrudgingly.
_________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


Kitherine gave a small, quiet chuckle as the elfmaiden curtsied before him. Even human women did not do such things – they looked upon his dark robes with open scorn, spurned his presence. Clearly, Claenereth had not spent much time on the human side of the world.

“Do not be in such a rush, Lady Claenereth,” Kitherine murmured in the familiar elvish tongue. Compared to the language of magic, elvish had been easy to master. “Please, come in. Sit.”

He gestured to the corner of the room, where, beside the sourceless blizzard, a semi-circle of armchairs had appeared. The blizzard seemed to have no effect on the suddenly cozy aura of his study. Reaching out, he offered one thin hand to Claenereth. The fingers were surprisingly slender, the bones visible beneath the skin, as though his magic had burned away all the flesh beneath. His hands were almost skeletal.

“Narisaa,” he called quietly. “Fetch some wine and food. The lady must be tired.”

“Of course, Master,” Narisaa answered in a tone that clearly stated he was not pleased with being used in the place of a servant. Nevertheless, he turned on one heel and strode back out of the study, leaving in search of suitable sustenance.

“Please,” Kitherine whispered, beckoning Claenereth to take his hand and leading her in a sweeping of shadowy robes to the chairs. He waited for her to take her seat before taking one himself. The whole time, his head never shifted enough to reveal the face beneath the darkness of his hood. For one long moment, he sat in silence, re-ordering his pouches and settling himself back against his chair. Then he turned to face her, nothing but a pair of brilliant silver eyes beneath the velvet of his robes. “I am afraid that your goddess has not shared with me the purpose of your mission,” he told her softly, once he was ready, and had fixed her in his piercing silver gaze. “I can speak only with my own goddess, and Helkara has never been on the friendliest of terms with her siblings.”

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Caelin Skyholme


The man’s answer to his question confused Caelin for a moment, and his step hitched slightly, a contemplative look crossing his face. Turning the phrasing over in his head, he decided that the remark could only refer to an animal of some kind- for what else would be small enough to be carried off by a storm? Well, a particularly short kinderling, perhaps, but then he wasn’t going to wager that it was a kinderling when the man’s bearing practically screamed “ranger.”

Probably a bird, then. He wondered if the fellow could properly talk to animals. He’d heard that some folk could, if they’d listened for long enough, first. Personally, he’d done enough forest meditation that most things weren’t afraid of him anymore, but he’d certainly never spoken to an animal. It seemed like something he might have to ask at some point. Though… perhaps not right at the moment. Whomever this companion was, animal or no, their loss seemed to cause some measure of genuine discomfort, and it wouldn’t do to pester his guide with inane babble at a time like this.

To the question, Caelin simply chuckled. “Who, me? I go nowhere in particular. Wherever the life-stream takes me, I suppose. A week ago, I thought it would be nice to get lost in a forest. Tomorrow, who knows? I certainly don’t.” He shrugged, taking note of a particular vibrant-orange flower vining up a tree trunk as he passed it. He should meditate on that later; it would be a nice focus, with a hue like that.

You should be finding a way to get me my body back. The dragon rumbled in his mind, but the monk simply ignored him. He had absolutely no idea how to do what Maferath was asking, and the answer was just as likely to find him on his errant adventures than anywhere else.

A thought occurred to Caelin, and he spoke. “Forgive me if I offend, but… if you could use some help finding your friend, I happen to know cities a little better than I know forests, and it’s not like I have business to be attending to.” He left his offer of assistance at that, though; it was not his place to interfere if he was not wanted or needed for some reason.



Luna Nightswift


Apparently she wasn’t getting the woman’s name. Well, that was no issue as far as Luna was concerned; it wasn’t as though she expected the lady to just go spewing her life story to a stranger. That was something Luna herself was much more likely to do, if only in jest. She didn’t lie, but telling a tall tale that was obviously a joke was practically a required skill for people who spent large portions of their lives on the water.

Ah, the sea. How she missed it, the shimmering expanse of salt water, stretching as far as the eye could see. There were lands even beyond Tane, she was almost certain of it, but alas, the life of a mercenary did not leave much time for idle adventuring, no matter how much the thought might appeal to her.

Her companion’s answer to the more urgent of her two questions drew her back to reality, and her eyes drifted to the ebon tower visible on the horizon. “Ah, I don’t think that’ll be any trouble… well, not the getting there, anyway. The getting in, on the other hand…” she let the end of the sentence hang with a shrug. As far as she knew, Damacus only accepted visitors rarely, but probably someone who’d come all the way up from the underground probably had a good enough reason to see him.

As they approached the city, the heat only grew more oppressive, the sun climbing towards its apex in the sky as noon approached. It was beginning to make even Luna uncomfortable. She was used to the sun beating down on her, this was true, but usually with the aid of a bracing sea breeze to take the edge off.

“I’ll tell you what; you picked a hell of a first day to come topside. Shouldn’t be much further, though- we’re hitting the outskirts of the city. Whatever you do, don’t let go. There’s all kinds of types in here, and not all of them would be sympathetic to your plight.”

She just really hoped she didn’t run into anyone that knew her. This would be a hell of a situation to try and explain.



Claenereth Dwin’anea


Clae felt a slight blush coloring her cheekbones in pink, and she nodded ruefully. She had a way of being too direct sometimes, and it was easy to forget that others liked to exchange pleasantries before discussing business.

“Oh no, I shouldn’t-” she was about to say that Narisaa need not fetch anything on her account, but he had already disappeared, and she turned back to Kitherine with a soft sigh. Truth be told, she was uncomfortable, here with humans and their magic, but he seemed to be a courteous host, and the least she could do in return was swallow her doubt for a while and see what became of it. Misara would not have directed her here without cause.

She laid her hand delicately in his- which, she noted with a small turn in the pit of her stomach, seemed strangely skeletal. With a grace she had not expected but wasn’t exactly surprised by, he ushered her into the seating area, and she perched upon the end of a comfortable wingback chair. Placing her hands demurely in her lap. She really wanted to examine the tiny blizzard more closely, but was unsure if it was rude (or safe) to do so.

Instead, she watched the mage take his seat, nodding gently when he mentioned Misara. Reaching up with both hands, she toyed lightly with the end of a small braid woven into her dark crimson hair, chewing her lip. How best to explain this?

“I… it is not a tale that would be believed with ease, I think. Please, if you would just hear the whole thing out, I could ask no more.” Of course, Misara might very well ask more, but then she doubted very much this man would feel any obligation to heed such a call.

As long as he reacted in a way that wasn’t immediately scornful, she continued. “You see, I was visited by Misara in my sleep some time ago. The dreams were unclear at first, but with time, I grew to understand them, and they became both more lucid and more dire. It seems… that someone has stolen something from the gods. I can’t say exactly what, but I do know that none are sure of the culprit. Misara fears that they will soon begin to blame each other, if they haven’t already. War threatens… and I’m sure I do not need to tell one such as yourself what would happen to the mortal world if the gods were to declare battle against one another in full.” The answer was both simple and obvious: Tane would burn.

“She sent me to you. I know not why, only that she seemed adamant that someone in this tower would be able to assist me. From what I have already seen here, I suspect that she is right.” Even if it scared her a bit, even if it was so contrary to everything she knew and had been taught, it was clearly powerful, and she could not say that it was as evil as some seemed to believe. Not yet, anyway.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril was silent for a moment, in the wake of the monk’s offer. He walked silently in the forest, snapping no twigs and stirring no leaves. He could have run soundlessly through the avenues of the branches, if he had wished it, but he was not like elfin-kind. Not completely, at least. He liked the feel of the strong earth beneath his feet, the brush of ferns against his thighs, the moss between this toes – though at the present time, he worse boots, and could not feel the moss. He preferred walking on the ground, where his human side belonged, to dancing through the canopy. He was not really the ‘dancing’ kind. He was the more of the quietly thinking kind, which was precisely what he did while he walked. Quietly, he mulled over Caelin’s offer, hesitant. He did not often like to accept aid. Too many times, the person aiding him wanted something in return. Kevril had little to nothing that he could afford to give.

Shae was more important than that. He nodded silently, eyes grave.
“My name is Kevril,” he told the monk in a calm, almost cold tone, one which stated he truly did not care whether the monk accompanied him or not. He would make no changes in his own pattern to accommodate the new companion. “We head for Delta, follow the storm.”

He paused then, recognizing the gnarled root of an old silverwood tree to his left. Carefully he stooped, sliding his arm into a crack in the roots, up to his elbow. He fished around for a moment, searching until his hands caught hold of the familiar, slender curve of his most important possession. Careful not to break it, he drew out a gracefully carved elven bow. Recurved, powerful, he knew its strength. A well-aimed arrow could sweep straight through a man’s chest, when he fired it. Most men his size could not have so much as drawn the string. He had a dozen or so of these bows stashed throughout Thenet – he had found early on in his training that it was inconvenient to have to sneak around with a bow on one’s back.

Close behind the bow, he retrieved a deerskin quiver, packed full with hand-fletched elven arrows. He swung the strap across his bare chest, turning to fix the monk firmly in his gaze.
“Are you ready?”
____________________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne grunted in acknowledgement, clenching her fist tighter in her guide’s cloak. This seafaring woman, she was forced to admit, had saved her life. She could have wandered blindly on the plains for weeks, never to find her way home again. At least this way she could be certain she would reach Delta alive. She could only hope that this grand necromancer would have some magic that would help with her eyes. Her family had sent her up here to fulfill some damned prophecy – she wasn’t going to be much help fulfilling it if she couldn’t see.

There was no use brooding over it, however. What was, was, and she was not the sort of person who enjoyed being unsociable. Part of being a temptress was loving companionship and attention, and she had grown bored now with her own irritation.

“My name is Yasryne,” she told her savior quietly. “From the family Everhund.”
____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


Kitherine listened without saying a word as Claenereth recounted her tale. He hardly seemed to breath, sitting upon his chair as though it were a throne, enveloped in his dark robes and surrounded by an air of demure calm. He seemed completely in control, unconcerned, and though secretive, relaxed. He could have banished her into the darkness of the hall outside, to be devoured by his servant, if he wished it. She was here only because he wished her no harm, and she would be here as long as she crossed no lines. She had come to [/i]him[/i]. He made the rules.

Claenereth was lucky she had been sent to a necromancer who was, for the most part, amiable.

As her stories drew to an end, Kitherine shifted, uncrossing his legs and leaning forwards in his chair. The movement sent a dark curl tumbling out of his hood, a stream of near-black hair which revealed him to be, at the very least, humanoid. He clasped his hands against his knees, silver eyes glittering as they stared at her with something caught between fascination, and malice.

“I am afraid I spoke too soon,” he told her in the same soft, scratchy voice. As though speaking caused him pain, he never raised his voice above a whisper. “Helkara has spoken to me, as well. She came to me in my waking hours, and spoke of a war in the divine realm. She gave me a pro-”

He cut off suddenly, turning his silver gaze to the handle-less door. The movement revealed the curve of his long, thin neck, pale-skinned and delicate. His face remained in shadow.
“Eavesdropping, Nari?” he called in a voice, sore as ever, which should not have carried beyond the little circle of armchairs, and yet Narisaa heard. “I had thought I taught you better.”

He raised his hand, ghostly and frail, and the door swung open with a soft click. Narisaa stood beyond, chin held high, red hair swept back to reveal a face totally unashamed at being discovered. He carried with him a silver tray of bread and cheese and wine. “On the contrary, Master,” Narisaa answered irritably, starting across the study to stand beside Kitherine. “It was you who taught me to eavesdrop.”

A thin sound slipped from Kitherine’s chest, like the whimper of a dying animal. Narisaa remained unconcerned. Laughter would not hurt anyone, no matter how spine-chilling it sounded. He turned instead to Claenereth, holding out the tray.

“Wine?” he asked flatly. He hated being here, and he was not afraid to show it. He simply wanted to return to his studies.

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Caelin Skyholme


One of the virtues of being raised in a monastery was that you were taught patience. Oftentimes, the senior monks were the sort of people who would hear a question and spend days in contemplation over the answer. Nothing was spoken without due consideration, and everything given a weighty gravity because of it. Caelin himself had never been like this- his words were still pretty things, given and exchanged with the sort of charitable easiness that characterized the true idealist.

He had, though, learned the lesson well: waiting was no great difficulty, and waiting for someone to speak was an even smaller one. He had to admire people who thought over their statements just as much as those with quick tongues and razor wits. He was neither, particularly, but rather a conversationalist who was just as good at using his ears as his vocal cords.

Apparently, though, the wait was not to be an overlong one. The brilliant, guileless smile of the eternal optimist spread across his countenance, and he nodded as if to himself. “Of course. I knew I was forgetting something. Caelin Skyholme, itinerant monk and occasionally-lost traveler, at your service.”

There was a it more silence, during which he ran a hand absently through his hair and stifled a yawn, looking about at the scenery with renewed interest. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d properly slept; in the right state of mind he could go days without it and remain unaffected, but sometimes he just forgot. That and eating, really.

Apparently, they were headed for Delta. Not a bad place, overall, though there were a couple odd types around from what he remembered of the place. Then again, it was entirely possible that he was the odd one, and upon a few seconds’ more reflection, he decided this was likely the case.

They made a short stop at an old tree, and Caelin privately wondered how Kevril could possibly keep track of where that bow was. Even if all the trees were a little different, trying to find the one you were looking for had to be like… finding a tree in a forest. The thought almost drew a small chuckle from him, but he decided that might be rude and refrained.

“It’s hard to be otherwise when you have nothing to your name but what you carry on your back,” he pointed out sagely. He had a feeling Kevril would understand. “Delta, huh? You can just follow the storm, but the most direct route actually angles a bit that way,” he pointed to indicate the direction, then shrugged. It didn’t really matter to him and a couple extra hours was probably worth it if they found the forest-man’s friend along the way.



Luna Nightswift


“Well, Yasryne Everhund,” Kuna said, trying out the name. The old syllables of a language she knew in her bones came easily to the tongue, but still rang as somehow foreign to her. Everything that was genuinely drow tended to do that, perhaps because she had not been raised to the culture. “We have arrived in Delta. Stay close, and if you lose grip, don’t hesitate to shout.”

So saying, Luna wound them carefully about the streets, selecting more shadowed alleys and less-travelled roads whenever possible. The archblade held her head high and sent a narrowed gaze at anyone whose eyes lingered too long where they shouldn’t. This way, they would reap the benefits of shade whenever possible, and expose the strange sight of one ash-toned woman leading another to fewer people.

Which wasn’t to say they weren’t being gawked at, because they most certainly were. Luna’s challenging stare and the blades at her hips were enough to turn most eyes away before too long, but the scene was simply too conspicuous not to gain notice. Of course, something told her that this sort of thing happened to Yasryne anyway. Who wouldn’t look twice at someone dressed like that? Whether from confusion, disbelief, or allure was all relative.

She was fairly used to it, herself, though obviously for different reasons. When you made money based on who hired you, you had to cultivate a certain kind of reputation, which oftentimes involved associated images. Good thing she wasn’t really in business at the moment; playing shepherd to a lost groundling was probably not up there on the list of tasks serious mercs undertook. Luna found that she didn’t much mind, though- Yasryne’s grumpiness was actually amusing to her.

“Well, here we are,” she said at last, navigating her charge beneath the shadow of the tower. “I’ve been told you shouldn’t knock, though I suppose that means they’ll know we’re here anyway.”



Claenereth Dwin’anea


Claenereth swallowed as the necromancer began to speak. Tere was something in his voice, like… old parchment and death rattles and the wind through empty corridors. It was disquieting, but nevertheless she clung onto his words with the utmost attention. Was it possible that Helkara, too, knew that the consequences of a war between the gods would be far too devastating to risk?

Before she could find out, Kitherine interrupted himself, apparently scolding Narisaa, who just looked defiant about the whole thing. Clae couldn’t say she blamed him for eavesdropping; she had been known to do so herself, on occasion, and, well, it probably wasn’t every day that someone from so far away as she showed up to talk to a necromancer.

She shivered at the laugh issuing from Kitherine, rubbing at her arms to try and do away with the gooseflesh that had appeared. She felt much like a rabbit, knowing that the hunter’s arrow was trained upon her, but unsure if he would decide to shoot. She was no pushover, but this was not her territory, and this fell magic not within the realm of her previous experience. Knowledge was always half the battle, and it was half that they had unconditionally, should it come to that.

She dearly hoped it wouldn’t, not only for her own sake, but also because there was something about these two that made her genuinely… curious.

Narisaa’s abrupt shift in topic startled her, and she fumbled over her own tongue for a second. “No, thank you. It’s really quite all right.”

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Kevril Loreweaver


“We will follow the storm,” Kevril stated quietly, offering no explanation. Taking the short route to Delta would do him no good when it was the storm, not the road, which had swept Shae away. He stepped silently over the great stumbling-block of a tree’s root. A silverwing lark flew overhead, trilling sweet nonsense as he hunted for a mate. Kevril ignored the bird. He hadn’t time for woodland conversation.

They walked a short distance longer in silence. Kevril watched the forest thrive around them as minutes blurred and became an hour. The sun rose hot and high, burning down across his sculpted shoulders, and as usual he found that wearing no shirt could be an advantage. He could not stand the feel of damp, clinging linen. The heat put a suffocating spell of silence on Thenet. The birds fell silent, the little creatures stopped their running, and the deer settled down to sleep. Even the elves retreated to their cool tree-homes. On a normal day, Kevril would have done much the same thing – today, however, he found himself standing on the border of Thenet Wood and the Icefields for the first time in three years. In the span of his entire life, he had been to Delta only once. He had not enjoyed it. He hoped that this time, he would not have to go that far.

Steeling himself, Kevril stepped out of the dappled shade and onto the boulder-strewn grasses. Out here, the world was vast and empty. Lonely. Kevril was not a proud man – he would be the first to admit that open spaces made him nervous. He turned to the monk, in search of a distraction.
“Where do you come from, monk?” he asked quietly as he struck out across the sun-bleached plains. An odd question, mostly due to mistranslation from elfish. The question referred less to where Caelin had journeyed from, and more to the story of his life. How he had come to be where he was.
____________________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne hesitated, frowning slightly. She could feel the presence of the great black Gates of Ice which barred the only entrance to the grounds of the necromancer’s tower. Cold radiated from the metal, biting and vicious. She would not have dreamed of touching the gates, even if she could see to find them. Which she could not.

“Are you leaving?” she asked, unsure what she would do if the woman was, in fact, leaving here. It was unlikely that anyone she met within the city itself would be brave enough to guide her, blind and helpless as she was, through the courtyard which filled the space between the Gates of Ice and the tower door. Even she, living beneath Burson Pines, had heard legends of the terrible things that haunted Kitherine’s Garden, and the even more horrible things which dwelled in the tower. She felt her courage beginning to fail her. If only she could see…
____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


Narisaa huffed quietly, annoyed. He had gone through all the trouble to make this tea for the elfmaiden, taking time away from his studies, and she had the nerve to refuse it? Kitherine laughed again at his red-headed apprentice, and even Narisaa, who lived with the man, rather wished he would stop.

“She does not have to eat if she is not hungry, Nari,” he told the boy in his parched whisper. “Though I am unsure how she can be so, after such a journey.” His face, entirely invisible beneath the cloak, turned towards Claenereth, and his silver eyes said that he was smiling. Not that anyone would have been able to say for sure.

“And you, Master?” Narisaa asked flatly, almost angrily.

“A drink would be nice. Elven wine is the best wine,” Kitherine answered softly. “My apologies, Lady Claenereth, for the condition you find me in. Spell-casting is a taxing business.” He seemed to have completely forgotten the task at hand, leaning back in his throne-like chair and watching placidly as Narisaa poured him a goblet of rich red wine. He passed the goblet to Kitherine, who picked it up in his wraithlike hands and tipped it to his lips.

Narisaa seemed to flinch, shuddering slightly at the skin-on-skin contact. He turned hastily back to his work, pouring a second glass for Claenereth, obeying some wordless command from Kitherine. He laid the goblet beside Claenereth and left his tray of food, turning to leave. He would have vanished through the knob-less door, had Kitherine’s dead grasp not latched into the sleeve of his black apprentice robes.

“Please, stay, Narisaa,” he whispered. “I believe that our conversation will interest you.”

Narisaa gave Kitherine a long look, then glanced at the extra chair by the errant, miniature blizzard. No wonder there were three chairs. Kitherine was not known to make such silly mistakes. Narisaa had assumed that his Master was simply exhausted by his work. No… he had planned this from the start. Narisaa swept around Claenereth’s chair, cloak fluttering with the silence of death’s wings, and settled into his chair. He crossed his hands carefully in his lap, watching Claenereth intently, sparing Kitherine not even the slightest glance. His eyes, so like his Master’s in all but color, never seemed to blink.

“So,” Kitherine murmured, his voice sounding just slightly more alive as he set his mostly full wine glass aside. “Misara sent you to me to request aid in stopping a war on the divine plane.” He shook his head slowly, never once dislodging the folds of his hood. When he spoke again, his tone was laden with sarcasm. “I can not say that I am surprised. Helkara’s necromancer is, of course, the best choice in stopping people from dying.”

Narisaa snorted quietly at that, rolling his eyes. Kitherine could only benefit from a war between the gods. The angrier Helkara became, the stronger the necromancer’s power grew. The more people died, the more subjects Kitherine could command. War would have been an advantage to Kitherine. Narisaa would have taken it as such.
Kitherine’s mind worked differently, however, and clearly the gods knew it.

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Caelin Skyholme


From the sudden change in landscape, ti was apparent to Caelin that they had entered the Icefields. Something of a misnomer, these days, though he suspected that it had not always been so.

The heat bordered on oppressive, but he had long trained to resist such and worse discomforts. Once, he’d been thrown out onto a snowy mountain in the middle of winter with nothing but the clothes on his back and told to survive for a month. It hadn’t been pleasant at first, but by the end of it, his body was so conditioned so as not to feel cold as painful. Heat was much the same.

Unlike someone who had lived in the forest for a lifetime, he felt no particular discomfort at leaving, though it was of course sad in the poetic sense to be relinquishing such a peaceful rest for the ardors of pressed travel once again. Ever the optimistic idealist, this was not so bad, either, if he looked at it in just the right fashion. Everything was an opportunity to teach and learn, from people, experiences, and even the land itself. This realization, once attained, had brought him a great peace of mind.

A question was then directed to him, and Caelin pondered for a moment. There were many ways to answer it, and he was not sure which Kevril had intended for it to be. Shrugging, he answered as he was naturally inclined. “Everywhere. Nowhere. I suppose that doesn’t make much sense out of context, but… I was raised in a monastery. If my place of birth has a name, I do not know it any more than I know the name of the place I will one day die.” He spoke of his death with a faint note of hope in his voice, subtle but definitely present.

“I have seen the vast majority of the continent, though I suppose nowhere is really home. Which means that, in a certain sense, everywhere is. May I ask how one with such a human appearance walks in the forest like one of its vigilant guardians?”



Luna Nightswift


“Are you leaving?” The question was simple enough, but things in Luna’s life were never really all that simple. She had the distinct feeling that if she said no, she would be sticking around for rather longer than she had intended.

Even so, she could not quite bring her lips to form the word yes, and instead sighed softly, an uncharacteristically feminine sound. “I suppose I can’t just leave you here. You might disappear into that bloody tower and never come out, which means nobody does anything about that debt.” She hadn’t quite forgotten about it, and she did still intend to collect, she just wasn’t exactly certain how she’d do that. Maybe it would pay to stick around and find out.

It might even be an adventure, and she was just about due for one of those.



Claenereth Dwin’anea


“Ah, no, no need to apologize at all,” Claenereth responded quickly. “I know only a little myself, but I understand what you mean all the same.” She had been hesitant to speak of her own magic for several reasons. First, she was not entirely trusting of it herself. When she had discovered that she had the Gift, it wasn’t exactly welcome news to her, especially because nobody in either of her family lines had ever had it, leading to some rather nasty accusations about her mother’s fidelity. Her tutelage had been rather rudimentary as a result, and her attitude towards it was one of grudging acceptance. She doubted the two before her would understand why.

Secondly, it was of a very different kind from theirs, and she had heard that magi of different schools sometimes disdained the arts of others. She was subject to quite enough of that as it was, though admittedly more from apprentice than master, which surprised her. She did not begrudge Narisaa this; she was after all an intruder and an inconvenience, though she wished to be neither. Still, something in her balked at it, and she lifted her chin just a little higher. Accomplished mage or not, she was still skilled at what she did, and the hours upon days upon years of practice it had taken to hone her skills should not, if she were to volunteer an opinion, be taken lightly.

Kitherine’s sarcastic tone bristled her slightly, though she tried very hard not to show it, maintaining a neutral expression but for a brief flash of irritation. “I’ll admit, I thought much the same, milord, but I do not presume to know what the goddess- either of them- does not.” Here she paused, and lowered her gaze. Truth be told, she was somewhat hungry, but it would be most impolite to take anything being offered her, and possibly also dangerous. After all, when the message was delivered, what more use did the messenger have? She was not a great and powerful mage, and though she was among the best hunters of her people, this alone did not make her irreplaceable in the slightest.

“The discretion is, of course, solely yours, and if you’ve no wish to aid in this, I’ll not trouble you further than I have already.” Having said this, she did not stand. It really was his choice, and she was going to do her utmost not to presume anything, not even his refusal.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril listened to Caelin silently, taking in the information without really caring what it implied. A wanderer with no specific past, at least that he would give. There were so many things that could be suspicious about that, and in fact were suspicious about it, but Kevril didn’t much care. He had no intentions of spending extra time with the monk. He would find Shae and send the man packing to Delta. Where Caelin went and what he did after that was none of the half-elf’s concern.

The question which followed, however, was cause for concern. He felt his pointed elven ears twitch back, flattening in irritation. Then again, it was only fair – Caelin had shared his past. Kevril must now share his.

“I am one of it’s vigilant guardians,” Kevril answered, using Caelin’s own poetic words. Kevril had never been one for poetry. He was a solid, down to earth man. He got to the point and then he left it behind. No point in saying more than was necessary. In fact, no point in saying anything at all, if it could be helped. He raised one hand, brushed away a strand of brown hair to reveal his cursed half-heritage in the form of knife-eared genetics.
____________________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne blinked beneath the cloth, then grinned. She was making progress on her path to Delta, in spite of her blindness, and that put Yasryne in a more typical good humor. She was rarely as grumpy as she had been all day. And she had to admit… she rather liked this woman.

“Good,” she answered firmly, turning to gaze in what she assumed was the direction of the tower. In fact, she was staring at the bakery next door. “Then shall we open these damned Gates and get it over with?”

She shifted slightly, putting a hand on her hip and subsequently throwing her cloak off of it. Her ashen gray skin, bared to the world, caught many eyes. Most of them appreciative. A man could overlook the underground breeding in favor of her luscious figure and outwardly flaunted availability.
____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


What seemed an eternity of silence passed between Kitherine and the elfmaiden. He stared at her, still no more than a pair of glittering silver eyes beneath his hood, and folded his hands as he watched her. Whether he was considering her offer or not, no one could have said. When one’s face was of shadow, there was little emotion to be displayed. Watching, Narisaa shifted uncomfortably. He had spent so long here, and had to admit, however begrudgingly, that he looked to Kitherine as a somewhat frightening and still beloved father. That did not meant the necromancer did not scare his apprentice to death.

Finally, Kitherine shifted, drawing a breath that scraped through his spell-torn throat. He leaned back in his chair once more, relaxing, away from Claenereth.
“Helkara has already made her commands,” he told the girl quietly. “I can not travel with you to recover this item.”

Narisaa frowned, as hope flared in his chest. His master’s tone was familiar – the tone Kitherine took when he found a loophole that pleased him greatly.

“The Goddess failed to speak of my apprentice,” Kitherine continued in his agonized voice. “The others will arrive within a few days. When the time comes, I will send Narisaa along with you. He has more than enough magic to be of use to you.”

Narisaa’s heartbeat quickened suddenly. He sat up a little straighter, eyes bright. For once he actually looked his age.

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Caelin Skyholme


His comment had been intended as a compliment of Kevril’s obvious skill in the ways of forest life, but apparently it had not been interpreted in that way, and Caelin flinched openly at the edge his new traveling companion’s tone had taken on. He supposed it must seem awfully inconsiderate of him, to offer so little of his background, but the truth of the matter was that he knew no more than he had told. Entire swaths of his life were completely blank to him, and what precious tidbits he did have were fought for and won in arduous, soul-searching meditation, often conducted for days at a time without food or sleep.

The hunter pulled back a strand of hair, and Caelin blinked with almost comical surprise. “Huh. Well, what do you know? Could have fooled me, though that really isn’t saying much.” He tried to defuse the situation with a gently self-deprecating remark upon his own social graces. Frankly, he wasn’t exactly sure what the problem was. He supposed that the combination of physical traits made Kevril a half-blood, but he didn’t really think it was a problem.

Perhaps it was something other elves had given him a hard time for at some stage? He didn’t seem to live with the rest, though he spoke as if they were at least aware of each other. There was obviously much more to the story, but though he was more than passingly curious about it, Caelin decided to exercise his better judgment and avoid more prying questions. Since he wasn’t really sure which questions counted as ‘prying,’ it might make more sense to stay away from any but the most innocuous.

Finally. I knew there was good sense in there somewhere. Maferath seemed to be more amused by his slightly-awkward social predicament than anything, and as always, the dragon was of little assistance. For some reason, it was always this way with people: Caelin would do or say something incredibly foolish, usually by accident, and then people stopped talking to him. A shame, considering how much he liked it.

Sometimes, he wondered why he didn’t quite seem to fit into the social dynamics of the world, whether human or otherwise. He sensed, somehow, that it had not always been so, but he didn’t really understand how he knew it.



Luna Nightswift


Luna followed the trajectory of Yasryne’s gaze and grinned. She was slightly off, but not too bad, perhaps. What was more, she seemed to be gaining (or regaining, as the case may be) some vigor, and there was a hint of something sardonic or at least sassy in her tone that the mercenary woman immediately picked up on.

The robe came off a moment later, and the former seawoman snickered at first, then threw back her head in a full-throated laugh.

“You’ve got quite a flair for the dramatic, don’t you?” she asked, her tone suffused with humor. An adventure, indeed. She could already tell this was going to be more fun than she’d initially thought, perhaps even a tale for the tavern-floor one day.

The archblade crossed her arms, tilting her head to the side and regarding the gate with mock solemnity. Granted, she really wasn’t taking it lightly, it was just largely impossible for her to maintain gravitas about much of anything for long. Her spirit was one of dark humor and sly smiles, a cutting wit matched only by a honed sword or two. Much better to go through life laughing than weeping, her father had always said, and indeed he was laughing when they cut him down aboard his own vessel, a final act of defiance for a world that was never kind.

“So… how do we go in?” She wasn’t all that knowledgeable about magic, really only knowing enough to avoid falling into bespelled traps and the like.



Claenereth Dwin’anea


Claenereth again felt the pinpricks working their way down her spine. It was difficult, getting used to being watched, and yet it seemed like she had never been otherwise since the moment she departed her verdant forest home. Were elves truly so unusual? Or was it merely the strange tidings she carried? Perhaps it was a bit of both.

She was not the kind to flatter herself and assume she was interesting. But… a message from a goddess, on the other hand, could be very intriguing, perhaps to just about anyone. It didn’t really explain the people on the way in, so she left that alone in contriving her explanation, silently staring back at the glittering grey irises beneath the shadowed cowl. Subconsciously, she straightened out her spine, forcing her hands to remain still, though they itched to be doing something- anything, really- to relieve her discomfort.

At last, Kitherine spoke, and she listened without interruption, sensing that there was some qualification coming. She wondered if Helkara was really so bent on seeing the destruction come to fruition that she would force him to not interfere with it, or if the darker goddess’s intention had always been to let Narisaa go.

At the mention of his name, her dark green eyes shifted to him, an unconscious smile appearing with a small twitch of her lips when she observed the change in his demeanor. She had never been as sullen as he had behaved before, but that same sort of odd excitement had filled her to her bones, rippling over her skin in waves, when she had first been tasked with this.

Of course, the foreboding and fear of failure had followed quickly, but he did not seem one for such doubt.

Turning back to Kitherine, she replied. “If he would be willing to go, then I thank you both.” So saying, she dipped her head low, holding it there for a few seconds before straightening again. “You mentioned others… I was unaware that there would be any.” Just that: an implied question, rather than a doubt of his accuracy. If he claimed its truth, she had little reason to think him dishonest, as he had been remarkably frank thus far.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril huffed quietly and let the tense subject drop. He had never been accepted by his people, at least not completely, and he had never spent much time trying to change that. Nevertheless, their disgust at his half-human appearance hurt him somewhere deep inside. A place he rarely went, and never let anyone else go. There were many reasons for his choice of seclusion…

Brushing the complicated subject off, he let his soft brown hair drop back over his pointed ear and continued out across the stone-specked plains. He had half a mind to simply walk in silence, but the universe did not seem inclined to permit it. The soft brush of paws I grass caught his attention first, and he had an arrow knocked before he could think straight enough to wonder what it was which had moved. His reflexes, at least this time, proved to be useful.

The great snarl as the grass-cat sprang out of its hunting crouch was the only warning the ranger received before he aimed and released the string. He was practiced at battle-time shooting. He knew how to aim in the space of a split second. The arrow struck the cat hard in the chest, brought it easily out of the air.

The only problem with grass-cats was… they never hunted alone.
____________________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne smirked slightly. She certainly had a flare for the dramatic – she was almost certain that it was impossible to live underground and not have a flare for the dramatic. Life could get a little boring when all one had to look at was a bunch of tunnels and stone walls. Even she, a lover of darkness and rock and night-time, had to admit that much. She loved to show off, to perform, in her way. She liked to make people stare at her. Make them wonder. Make them lust. It didn’t matter who, as long as they were watching her, as long as she was having fun.

“I’m not sure,” she answered Luna’s next question, still staring at what she assumed – wrongly – was the expanse of the Gates of Ice. “You said we’re not supposed to knock, but how on earth else are we supposed to—”

She cut off as, with a great rumbling creak, the gates swung open. Her sharp silver brows crunched together.
“Did… they just…?”
____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


Narisaa could hardly containe his excitement, all studies forgotten. He was going to do it… he had to… surely Kitherine would not suggest it and then simply revoke the right? His mentor was right in saying that Helkara would not mind if he went. Kitherine had to be. Nari could not take another year locked up in this great tower, hardly even allowed to leave it and explore the home-streets of Delta. He had barely seen the face of another humanoid for the last several years. Kitherine did not count – he showed his face so infrequently that, though he had seen it, Nari was not sure that he would recognize his Master by his features without already having known that he was who he was.

Kitherine seemed oblivious to Narisaa’s pent up excitement, though in truth Narisaa knew that Kitherine could feel his every tremor. The archmage watched Claenereth without faltering, eyes bright like a pair of stars. He did not fidget, did not even move. Simply watched.
“There are others,” he agreed quietly. “Several others. Your coming was prophesized, my Lady. Helkara suggested that I should like to kill you upon your arrival.”

Narisaa’s breath caught with panic. If Kitherine did that, he would never escape the necromancer’s tower.

Kitherine was silent for another instant, considering Claenereth, as though she were a rather juicy piece of venison. Then he shook his head. “I would not like to kill you,” he told her softly. “Helkara gave me no direct command, and so I must do nothing. I will follow the path set down for me in the prophecy.”

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Caelin Skyholme


There was a bit of silence after that, which Caelin chose to believe was not awkward, and so for a while, he simply walked along, lapsing into peaceful silence. Part of the reason he enjoyed talking so much was because he rarely had anyone to converse with besides Maferath.

Do I bore you? The dragon’s voice was dripping with sarcastic amusement, and Caelin grimaced.

I didn’t say that, he replied internally, slightly miffed. The dragon was generally fond of making himself into a nuisance, but there was always an edge of apprehension in their conversations. The louder Maferath was inside their collective headspace, the stronger he was feeling at the moment, and the more likely he was to force control over Caelin’s body.

Hm. Well, I suppose it might be worth warning you: you’re about to be under attack. Caelin’s honey-gold eyes went wide, and he cast his glance about him furtively, though it was a few moments before he remembered himself and tuned into his more broad awareness. Sure enough, he could feel several creatures approaching, though Kevril reacted more quickly than he did, drawing his bow and shooting one of them down.

He didn’t know the name for them, but he had seen the felines before, though only at a distance. They were larger up close than he had guessed. Detaching his staff from his back, Caelin swung it around in a smooth motion, catching another one of the beasts as it jumped from its hiding place amidst the long grasses. With a yowl and a bleeding nose, the cat was thrown backwards into the ground.

The monk backed up slowly as more emerged from the thickets and stones. Apparently, these were pack animals, unusual for cats as far as he knew, but then his companion hardly seemed surprised. Caelin sank low, into a crouch as the creatures formed a rough circle around the two of them. He detested killing anything, and preferred to incapacitate whenever possible, which he sincerely hoped was an option in this case.



Luna Nightswift


“Hm…” Luna was about to speculate as to what, exactly, they should do to get in when the doors conveniently swung open.

“…Yeah, because that’s not a trap or anything,” she drawled dryly. In response to Yasryne’s actual question, she was a bit more gentle. “Looks that way, but…” she took hold of the other woman’s shoulders from behind and turned her so that she was actually facing the gates. “You’ll want to be walking that way.”

Placing a callused index finger on her full lower lip, she contemplated for a second. There was no way there wasn’t something more to this. She’d heard a lot of rumors about this tower, and the man who lived within. Most of them were of the traditional “unsavory necromancer” variety, and so she ignored them on principle. Others, though… maybe she should have expected something like this.

“My guess is, someone knew you were coming.” Hell, maybe someone had known they were coming, but she preferred not to think about that. It was much better to assume that she was either too free or too inconsequential for anyone who bothered looking after such things to concern themselves with.



Claenereth Dwin’anea


Others… why did you not tell me this? Clae’s tapered fingers found the amulet at her throat almost without thought, and though the question was directed to Misara, it was devoid of any accusation or hurt. It certainly wasn’t her place to decide what the goddess should have done, but innocent questions rarely went awry, or so she was told. Though the elfmaiden was as a rule rather staid in her belief, she was by no means any sort of expert on the gods or cosmology.

Her eyes snapped sharply back into focus when Kitherine mentioned that Helkara had suggested she be killed. Not for the first time, she took a deep, calming breath. If he had intended to do that, why would he have brought her in here to speak at all? Surely, he would not have wasted his time if he was only going to kill her.

Logical as it was, the thought was of precious little comfort. Out here, in this world of men and their magic, she was as lost as a sparrow blown out to sea. No safe place to land, and only a vague sense of the direction in which safety lay. The problem was, that safety was in exactly the opposite way from that jet-stream that seemed to be dictating her course from beyond at the moment.

All she could do was drive herself ever further forward and hope for the best. If she were to die, she would face it with nobility and dignity.

Fortunately, it did not seem to be that she would need that resolve today, and as he continued, she remembered to release the breath, not having moved a hair in the entire silence between. She could hear her heart pounding furiously in her ears, and as was so often the case for her, she realized only after the danger had passed (for the moment) how deeply afraid she had been.

“I see.” This was all she said for a long moment, as she was not in the habit of saying things without first giving them due consideration- and having a good reason. “For what little it may be worth, you have my gratitude, then.” She wanted to ask what, exactly, this prophesy of his had said, but felt it would be rude to ask. That was his business to tell if he wished, just as hers was hers.

Of course, it left her without much else to say, and without much skill in making small talk, she wasn’t exactly sure what she should do at this point.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril grasped the bone cross tightly, felt its rounded edges mold into his powerful, calloused skin. Watching the tawny felines stalk through the grass, he pulled another arrow from his quiver, knocked it, and shot. The terrible thump of the arrow's strike was accompanied by a spray of blood. He had no problem killing for his own survival. He had learned that from the animals themselves. Stepping carefully backwards, Kevril moved until he was back to back with Caelin, and drew his bowstring tight. He glanced over his shoulder, keeping one eye on his next target.

"Stay alert," he spoke calmly, his tone normal. "They strike from behind."

Another feline sprang, and with his bow already aimed, Kevril did not have the chance to defend himself. The great beast hit him hard from the left, knocked him away from Caelin. He rolled quickly to his feet, leaving behind a trail of fallen arrows and a bow with a broken string. Blood oozed from four deep cuts on his shoulder. He ignored the pain, drawing a qicked hunting knife and facing the great cat, still on his knees. The creature crouched, yellow eyes boring into him. A deer would have frozen in terror.

Kevril was no deer.

The creature burst into the air in a flurry of fangs and claws. Kevril slashed. IN one shot moment, then plains-cat lay in a pool of its own blood. Kevril stayed perfectly still, breathing hard, knife still drawn. The beasts, however, were not fools. With several of their pridemates dead, the grass-cats did what they must to survive. They fled.
Slowly, Kevril rocked back onto his feet, covering his bleeding shoulder with one rough hand. He turned to Caelin, hoping that his new companion had survived the encounter. It would be a long and lonely walk to Delta without him.
_____________________________________________________

Yasryne Everhund


“No kidding,” the drow answered sardonically, shaking back her silver-white hair. She stared in the direction where Luna had pointed her, wishing she could see those great Gates of Ice. “Well, I guess that’s an invitation.”

Sucking in a deep breath, Yasryne started towards the Gates. She knew the moment she passed beneath them. The metal itself sent chills shooting up her spine, the sort of cold caused by venom. Cold that burned. Blind, she paced across an expanse of dead grass, feeling it crunch beneath her boots, and knew there were eyes on her. Things watching them, inhuman and hungry. Dead, or perhaps never alive. Yasryne’s breath quickened in her chest. All around her, she could hear their whispered voices. They echoed in her thoughts, ravenous.

Welcome…

Spurred on by their presence, Yasryne hurried towards the open tower door.
_____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Kitherine Damacus


Kitherine laughed again, shivering the skin of all those who heard him. He turned slowly to Narisaa, who watched him with eager apprehension. Kitherine leaned back into the carven wood of his throne. A distinct air of exhaustion had emerged around the archmage. Concern flickered through Narisaa’s eyes, but he held his tongue, waiting for his Master’s command.

“Go downstairs, Nari,” he commanded, his voice like ancient paper whispering. “Our guest requires your eyes.”

In an instant, Narisaa was on his feet, and gone, leaving Kitherine alone with Claenereth. The archmage turned to stare at Claenereth. He moved his hand slowly from his lap, swiping it across his obscured face. That hand almost seemed to shake.

“Again, I must apologize for my condition, Lady Claenereth,” he whispered. “Helkara has not been kind, of late, and her attentions tire me.” He stirred slightly, almost a shift of discomfort as his hand found its way beneath his hood, to rub at his temple. His head throbbed painfully, warning against the onset of the visions. These attacks came without warning, whenever Helkara had something to share with him. He gritted his teeth as the pulses intensified. The Goddess was knocking.

A particularly sharp spear of pain had him doubled over in his chair. A cry of pain escaped him, and for an instant he saw noting but white. When his vision cleared, he had fallen into Helkara’s arms, and left his body – unconscious, unresponsive – behind.
_____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor


Unaware of his master’s troubles back in the tower, Narisaa stepped out of the tower’s great front doors to gaze across the open expanse of dead grass and cobblestones which covered the distance between the Necromancer’s door and the Gates of Ice. Through scornful blue eyes he watched the drow maiden cross the grasses, blind and stumbling, accompanied by the warrior woman who appeared at least half the same blood as the first woman. Narisaa had never had much time for women. They distracted from studying.

No matter.

“Welcome,” he called out in a voice nearly as quiet and menacing as the whispers of their infernal servants, echoing from ever corner of the empty garden. “My Master expects you.”

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Caelin Skyholme


“Do they?” Caelin quipped flippantly, grinning despite himself. “I guess it’s good that you’re there, then.”

Of course, they did not remain that way for long, as Kevril had to move to take down the next one. From the oddly-wet sound of flesh being torn, the monk suspected he’d be occupied for at least a few minutes after this was all over, tending wounds.

Now isn’t the time to be thinking past the end, boy. Survive first, then heal. Maferath’s tone was customarily irritated, but underneath the gruffness ran a current of visceral excitement. Dragons were made for battle, and he was always loudest when there was violence to be had.

Two more of the plains-beasts sprang at him, and though his movements were smooth and swift as water, Caelin still wound up with a gouge in his leg for his trouble. Scoffing at his own carelessness, the monk spun his staff, using the extra momentum to bring the tempered wood and steel down upon the back of one’s head. The other, now too close for such mid-range weaponry, sprang upon him, sending them both to the ground.

Angling his body so that nothing would be broken in the fall was an old instinct, and he no longer needed to think to do it properly. For a moment, he and the cat were a tangle of limbs, but he managed to wrench the both of them around so that he was back upright, a foot pressed into the animal’s back. A swift stab with his first two fingers at a particular nerve bundle had the cat going limp, falling unconscious even as he stepped back and away, dusting off his hands.

“Well, that was interesting,” he said brightly, flashing a smile. He glanced briefly down at his wound, which was already beginning to heal with the aid of his magic. Gesturing to where Kevril was holding his shoulder, he spoke more soberly. “I can take care of that, if you’d like.” Once upon a time, he’d assumed that nobody in their right mind would refuse healing magic, but he’d since learned his lesson on that one. Some people really didn’t like it, so he always made a point of offering first, unless it was an emergency of some kind.



Luna Nightswift


Just because Luna didn’t know magic didn’t mean she was oblivious to it, and all this infernal whispering business was beginning to get on her nerves. Honest to the gods, if whatever was slithering along these walls and in this garden was going to eat them, it might as well go ahead and drop the pretenses to try. If not, it had no business being so bothersome.

Nevertheless, she kept right on going, ignoring the noises as well as that creepy slithering feeling at the base of her spine. That was her fighter’s instinct, telling her she was being watched. Since she already damn well knew that, she just rolled her eyes and walked, one foot after the other, behind the blind drow.

A brief hint of movement caught her eye, and her hand was halfway to her sword before she realized it was a person rather than a shadow. Not that his voice was all that different.

When he said that they were expected, she snorted. “Why am I not surprised?”



Claenereth Dwin’anea


“Is there anything I can do?” The words, though probably unhelpful, were in her nature. She was supposed to be something of a protector, a defender, and though there clearly was nothing she could manage that would provide relief, it felt right to ask.

His response, it seemed, was to fall unconscious, slumping in his chair, and Clae’s eyes went wide, even as she leaped off her own and to his side. Hesitant to touch the necromancer without his permission, she nevertheless placed two delicate, though callused, fingers to his exposed wrist. The pulse she could feel beneath was of some small comfort. Though she was not certain that death always stopped Helkara’s chosen, at the very least she would not have to find out today.

“Narisaa!” She doubted he could hear her, of course, but just in case he could, or perhaps in the instance that those other creatures would convey the message, she felt obliged to try. Kneeling beside the unconscious man, she looked about the room for anything that might at least make him more comfortable. She was, unfortunately, familiar with this kind of trance-state, though Misara was usually kind enough to come for her in her sleep rather than her waking hours.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril gave Caelin a long, cautious look. He was not one to turn down healing magic. Growing up around elves, he was more comfortable with clerics than magic users, and he recognized the need to prevent infection. Plains-cat cuts were more prone to infection than almost any wound. Did he trust this Caelin, however? The monk was no elf, and he had heard of even elven clerics doing more harm than good with their magics. Healers were known to turn, to kill…

Why would Caelin do any of this? He gave his had a sharp shake and stepped towards Caelin.

“Please,” he whispered, angling his shoulder towards Caelin. He glanced at his bow and arrowed. He would have to pause and collect them later… and with this arm, even with healing magics, he would not be able to draw the string until he had rested. “Let us pray that we do not meet any more.
_____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Yasryne Everhund


“Perhaps because you came here knowing that you dealt with magic users?” Narisaa suggested quietly. He glanced again at Yasryne, gave her a closer inspection, and understanding seemed to come into his eyes. In a sweeping of black robes he moved down the stairs to stand before them, pausing several feet away from the temptress. He did not particularly care if he startled her. Or would not, except that drow temptresses – according to his master – were known to be quick with their knives. He was mage, not fighter. He did not relish the thought of having his belly slit open by a jagged drow dagger. “Please come inside. It is darker there.”

Yasryne perked up slightly at the thought of a darker place to stand.
“Gladly,” she gasped, stepping towards his quiet voice. Narisaa did not wait for Luna to agree, or for Yasryne to catch up. He turned on his heel, robes flaring, and climbed back up the three short steps which lead to the great front doors of the necromancer’s tower. He paused in the doorway, beckoning for them to follow, and vanished into the shadows.

Only once encased in the magic of the tower did Narisaa pause. He had spent little time beyond the tower in recent years, and was unaccustomed to the light, scentless air of the outdoors. At least, scentless compared to the air within the tower. Of course, the city had its odor, but when one was accustomed to the thick herbs and smoke of Kitherine’s dwelling, even the city smelled clean. Unused. Foreign. He much preferred the magic-laden breathing within the tower, but he was going to have to learn to adjust. Kitherine had, after all, finally presented him with a mission.

He stood just inside the tower, feeling the magic of it weave through his body, feeling the shadow-spirits his master commanded weave around him almost like invisible, affectionate cats. He did not bother to cast a light. Yasryne would be more comfortable without. Luna, the unexpected guest, would just have to live with what she had. He turned to gaze at the entrance, waiting for the drow and the half-drow to follow. Before they could, however, the air in the tower changed. Something shivered, a wind passing through the dark servants he had come to love.

A whisper. An echo of Claenereth’s voice, breathed through the shapeless mouths of servants who bore no physical form.

Narisaa! Claenereth cried through the voices of those who had never lived. Narisaa straightened, gazing up through the ceiling, towards the top of the tower where he had left the elfmaiden and his master.

What is it? he asked sharply, never one for gentle conversation. Never one for patience.

_____________________________________________________

Kitherine Damacus


Kitherine stood in the brilliant, dimensionless white of Helkara’s realm. He wore nothing, for clothes were not necessary before the Goddess. She saw all, everything in the deepest recesses of his soul. He had tried once to hide something from her. He did not relish the thought of the pain. He would never try it again. Perhaps that was why being summoned here now made his heart thunder with painful anxiety. What would she demand of him now?

He did not see her, for she – like many creatures divine and magical – required no form to exist. She came to him as a crushing awareness, a voice which echoed in his mind, which caused him physical pain every time he heard it. There were few positions as miserable as that of the chosen prophet of Helkara. He sacrificed his health and his wholeness for a position he had never asked for. The Gift of the Goddess, Helkara called it. He called it a curse.

This thought made his Goddess laugh. The laughter pounded through his head like the hooves of a billion infernal steeds, but he kept his face free of pain. Pain was weakness in Helkara’s eyes, and weakness was unforgiveable.

Luckily, cleverness was largely rewarded.

“You found a hole in my command, little mage,” Helkara boomed through his mind. He could feel her sinister smile watching him. “Congratulations.”

Kitherine bowed his head in respect. He dared not speak. She was not finished.

“Very well,” she whispered. “You will send these people to retrieve the item. I will permit Narisaa to take this journey, and he will go with my blessing.”

Kitherine breathed a soft sigh of relief, but too early.

“The price will be death.”

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Caelin Skyholme


Oblivious to the internal dilemma of his companion, Caelin waited patiently, then stepped forward at Kevril’s acquiescence. “I certainly hope we don’t,” he said by way of reply, then focused his attention on the wound. It was shallow, but rather nasty all the same, and he’d have to be sure to destroy anything that could cause infection as well. Not that he was complaining, of course; this sort of thing was his job, after a manner of speaking. Not being the kind who could simply settle in a town and take up a trade, he often healed in exchange for supplies or a night’s lodging, so of all his skills, this was the most practiced.

Exhaling softly, the monk reached inside himself for the natural flow of life-energy, his chi, and grasped hold of it, redirecting the flow until it manifested as a soft blue-white glow over his hands. These, he passed over the torn flesh without touching it, channeling from himself to Kevril as easily as if it were the simple act of breathing. Once he sensed that enough had been done, he cut of the flow, manipulating the rest so that flesh and the muscle beneath knit back together seamlessly, purging the body of any infections in the process.

All told, it took perhaps thirty seconds, and then he stepped back, his trademark smile back on his face, replacing the look of distant focus that had previously overtaken it. “There we go. Good as new! Well, almost. I’d give it a few hours yet before you try anything too strenuous, if I were you.”

There was a short pause, and then Caelin made a great show of dusting his hands off and setting his eyes back on the path before them. “Well, I reckon we should keep going. Don’t want to still be here when those buggers wake up, and I’d rather find a more secure place before nightfall and all that.”



Luna Nightswift


Ah, darkness. She did not seek it with the same fervor as the woman in front of her did, but that was not to say that Luna minded it in the slightest. Quite the contrary- she was almost as at home in it as a full-blooded drow would have been, though most of the rest of her habits were her father’s. He’d told her once, that she’d been born on the night of a blue moon, and hence been named in a way that was hardly in keeping with either lineage’s traditions. Over time, perhaps it had simply come to suit her, or she it.

Whatever the case, Yasryne looked more comfortable, and while this was not something she concerned herself with overmuch, she had to admit that she’d hate to be blind herself, so this was probably a good situation to be in. At least as far as “ominous mage towers where you’re not exactly on the guest list” went, anyway. The kid seemed to have something of a sense of humor, though it wasn’t exactly the sharpest she’d encountered. It was still a tick in the “more likely to survive this” column. Most people who wanted to kill you didn’t bother to say much to you, in her experience, which was really just a shame. She liked to exchange witty repartee in between the kind that happened between blades.

Something was whispering in the walls, and she could make out a musical woman’s voice, heavily-accented elvish, if she wasn’t mistaken, which sounded highly out of sync with the rest.

Well, well. I wonder what the story is here?



Claenereth Dwin’anea


He still wasn’t moving, and it was beginning to alarm her. She wasn’t sure what the differences were between his trances and hers, but she was willing to wager that his involved a great deal more intentional suffering. Misara couldn’t help it; being in the divine presence was painful for imperfect creatures, but it was likely that Helkara enjoyed making people squirm. Clae had nothing against the goddess, but some of the tales she had been told as a child… well, it was best to be wary when the Dark One was involved.

A whisper murmured into her ear, causing the hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. Narisaa’s voice came soon afterward, and she nearly choked on her relief, hastening to reply. “It’s Lord Damacus. He’s in a trance and… it doesn’t look well for him.” She stood abruptly, pacing back and forth and looking for something, anything to do to make it easier for him. In the end, she was able to do nothing more useful than prop a cushion behind his head. It seemed such a feeble gesture, but perhaps it was better than nothing.

“Please… tell me what I should do…” she whispered into the stillness, but if Misara heard her, she made no reply, and so the elfmaiden rose again into a standing position and stood, a silent sentry, beside the unconscious necromancer, dread pooling in her stomach and rising into her throat like bile. She was just getting a feeling, a visceral instinct that she could not name, that something was going to go terribly wrong before anything went right.

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Kevril Loreweaver


Kevril looked down, ran a hand across his bare, freshly knit side. There was still a faint red line there, a scar which would probably never heal completely. That was fine with him. He had scars all over his body from his various battles and mistakes. That was part of being a Ranger. Frankly, somewhere in the back of his mind, he thought it made him look more attractive. Stronger. He’d fought these battles, and survived. That was where he got his rugged air.

Inside, however, he could feel the wound still healing. Caelin was right. He wouldn’t be safe to fight again for a while.

He nodded slightly, gathered up his bow and arrows, and struck out once more across the grass, ignoring the very small twinge in his side. If there was one thing he was good at ignoring, it was pain.
“Keep an ear out,” Kevril told the monk calmly. “You’re more likely to hear their footsteps than to see them. The grass breaks up their image, makes them damned near impossible to spot.”

He glanced up at the sun. They had an hour, maybe two before the sun descended… not enough to reach Delta.
“We’re going to have to build a fire tonight. A large one. They fear the flames, won’t come near is as long as we keep it burning.”
_____________________________________________________

Narisaa Feledor and Yasryne Everhund


Yasryne shuddered at the ethereal whispers that wove around them in the darkness. Each voice had a semi-physical presence to it. She had felt dark magic before – it was popular in her world, beneath the surface – and she knew what a formless servant felt like. Most magi could control one, maybe two of these dark presences. She could not imagine Kitherine’s power, if he held so very many. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of those voices filled this tower, covered every inch of shadow available. Not even the strongest warriors could have survived if they had intruded upon this place. No wonder Kitherine made no secret of what he did up in this tower. Even if the people knew his art, he was in no danger.

Carefully, she removed her blindfold, still wary of light. There was little here – just little enough that the stinging was bearable. She sighed, blinking rapidly, her eyes unaccustomed to vision, and stared around. Stone. That was comforting. She had missed stone. This was not cave-stone, however… this stone was infused with darkened runes, filled with dark magic. She gathered her limbs in close to her. She doubted a spider could have climbed these walls without meeting an instant and painful end.

Nearby, Narisaa sighed quietly and shook his head. He answered Claenereth again, in elvish, his words soothing, if a bit annoyed.
“Let him be, my Lady,” he answered quietly. “Master will come about in his own time. Our mistress enjoys causing us pain. It is the price we pay for our power.”

He turned to face the pair of drow – well, one half-drow, but that mattered little to him.
“Follow me,” he ordered. “My Master may be indisposed for quite some time, but there is another guest for you to meet.”

Without another word, in a wave of dark robes and brilliant crimson hair, he turned and headed away up the hall. This was the trouble with bringing guests through the tower. They could not travel at will from one room to the next.
They had to use the stairs.
_____________________________________________________

Kitherine Damacus


Kitherine’s spine went rigid. Death. A necromancer should not fear death, and yet when his Goddess spoke of it he knew there would be no escape. She, the only creature in the universe who could deny a necromancer his eternity…
“Which of us?” he asked quietly. He had to whisper, to keep his voice from shaking, to maintain the calm sound which revealed no weaknesses. He could not afford to be punished. Not now.

“That will be determined in time,” Helkara answered, and she was still laughing. “Do not let it concern you, Kitherine Damacus. No man should spend his thoughts upon a thing which he can not escape.”

“With respect, Dark Queen,” Kitherine murmured, “I am not divine. Worrying is something a human does.”

“Then humans are a waste of flesh,” she told him, her tone unchanged, still velvety an amused, still burning in his brain. “Be not concerned. You and your Narisaa shall both reach great heights before your fall.”

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Caelin Skyholme


Caelin nodded without protest to the comments, well-aware that he knew much less about the area than Kevril did. He was not so prideful that he had trouble deferring to expertise; indeed, he preferred to do so whenever possible. It was almost as though he didn’t trust himself for any but the most basic considerations, though he really wasn’t sure why that was, only that the faintest sensation of unease pervaded him in the company of others, exacerbated a thousandfold when he was forced to make a decision for anyone but himself.

Not that it stopped him from enjoying company, of course.

“Would you prefer to do that now, or later?” he asked cautiously. He wasn’t about to say that he thought they should press on until it got dark, because he wasn’t sure if there would be enough material for a fire in that direction. Since he’d never been to this place before, he’d simply make himself useful, like by gathering debris or something else to burn.

Of course, he supposed that all depended on how much Kevril would stake immediate rest against the desire to find his friend.



Luna Nightswift


Luna blinked a few times as her eyes adjusted to the dark, but she was well-equipped for it and would not complain. Rather, she waited semi-patiently as Yasryne oriented herself in the space, noting that there seemed to be traces of unease about her demeanor. She wasn’t going to say anything about it, though, especially because she had the feeling that she should be experiencing that herself. She very well might be, if she remembered how to fear.

She heard a sting of rolling words that could only be elvish, but was able to make out but two or three of them from her limited vocabulary. She was better with both Drow and Dwarvish, since she had not in her history had much dealing with the forest-dwelling type. His tone sounded mildly put-off, and she wondered exactly who was at the other end of that conversation.

Apparently, it was another “guest” of this man Damacus. Shrugging with a distinct lack of concern, she followed after the apprentice with measured, gliding steps.

“This ought to be interesting.”



Claenereth Dwin’anea


Narisaa’s voice answered from far away, and his tone- she could detect the annoyance- forced her to take a deep breath. She pushed back her concern and straightened, attempting to remember her dignity. Still, she wouldn’t retake her chair, and continued to stand a vigil, moving over to stop, straight-backed and proud, near one of the walls of the room.

Her eyes did not leave the unmoving form of the necromancer, scanning his posture for any signs of a change. If this was a normal occurrence, then all she had to do was be patient. That much, she had been taught. Still, it was not the first time she wished she were of a more clerical disposition, for it did discomfit her to see pain and suffering and be unable to act.

Calenereth regulated her breathing, so that by the time Narisaa and the two women trailing behind him entered the room, she was back to the cordial-but-stoic expression she had assumed upon her visit to this place. She glanced between all three, waiting for some for of explanation of greeting. She knew not who the other two were, so she thought that perhaps it would be best to allow them the ability to speak if they would before she said anything.

Not, of course, that she would really know what to say. Basic greeting in the language were not beyond her, but social custom was, at least a bit. Furthermore, the two women intimidated her in very different ways. One was clearly quite aware of how beautiful she was, and that kind of confidence was something that Claenereth didn’t really understand. The other just looked like the kind of woman who meant business, bored and indifferent at first glance, but sharp as the blades at her sides underneath it all. Her posture bespoke much experience in battle, something which did not apply to the elfmaiden at all.