The accounts of Jade M'he El'hruen: Adventure and romance...

  • - Spy

    Months had passed since the elf had once again delved into her memories of the Druid. She was finding difficulty submerging the thoughts, sometimes dwelling on them for hours while staring into the distance. The abstraction grew throughout the day and long into the evening, penetrating her slumber and invading menial tasks. She finally arrived at the conclusion she needed to flee the region to different scenery in the desperate hope the unbearable feelings would finally subside.

    Thus she headed north. She came across a Wood Elf tribe and traded furs, mushrooms, and other things she'd gathered in her life among nature for a bit of coin and some supplies she would need as she headed out of the forest. It was the first interaction with other sentient beings in years, and she found herself staying with them for a few days to reacquaint her tongue with the Elven language.

    She continued traveling for weeks, finding caravans or a boat, when needed – ever heading northward. Her refusal to use Common made the travel unnecessarily difficult and brought unwanted attention to herself. An elf maiden among men with emerald eyes and raven hair, dressed in furs and leathers speaking only Elven. A flash of her greatsword thwarted much, though prying eyes rarely let her be.

    Nevertheless, it wasn't until she began seeing snow that she felt she was being watched. At first, she blamed it on nerves, being that she was among humans again for the first time in decades. But the feeling persisted, even once she thrust herself into another forest away from civilization.

    Woodland creatures were adding to the feeling that now bordered on paranoia -- an elk, a bear, a circling hawk, a lone wolf. She sought a presence in shadows, a voyeur among the boughs, a spy lying in wait within the underbrush. Finding nothing brought little comfort.

    Perhaps she was aging and her skills had dulled, or perhaps she had finally broken her sanity. Whichever the case, she continued north in search of a respite from her entrancement.

  • - Reflection

    The doe gently sauntered to the edge of the shallow, meandering stream, cautiously moving into the rays of flittering golden sunlight that filtered through the dense, leafy canopy. Each forest sound stiffened the muscles in her sinewy neck, her dark eyes flicking in the direction of the noise to survey the source. A creaking branch amidst the towering, ancient trees; an unseen rodent skittering along the forest floor – each sound nearly drove her to flee, yet the drive to slake her thirst was willing her movements forward.

    She took one more glance of her surroundings before slowly, deliberately bowing her head to the surface of the cool water that rippled over the smooth stones that shone like polished baubles. She extended her tongue and tasted the refreshing water, first carefully, then deeply.

    A lance of scorching pain shot through her shoulders causing her front legs to buckle, her rear legs doing the same as the pain splintered across her spine and up her neck and rang in her ears like cracking ice upon an undisturbed pond. Her vision shown stars and all she could think to do was flee, but she found it impossible to gain purchase and slid to her belly, her hooves now digging into the muddy sand of the stream's edge.

    The pain dulled the less she struggled, so she instinctively relaxed her attempts to flee while her breathing became labored and slowed. Her heart was racing and she felt the blood pounding in her ears, but that too began to fade until her vision became clouded and blurred. She looked about once more, no longer hearing the sounds of the forest, save the rippling water. Her dark eyes peered into the shadows and saw a figure hunched among the craggy roots of the towering trees. Her vision fading quickly, the last focused sight before she closed her eyes forevermore were two emerald eyes staring back at her – sad, ancient eyes.

    The shot was true, piercing the lungs and nicking the aorta, making the doe's death quick and quiet. The figure lowered her draw hand and flipped the bow around her shoulder in one smooth motion as she darted nimbly and silently from between two mighty trees and their gnarled, massive roots that were tangled across the forest floor. She leapt across the small stream and approached her kill cautiously, drawing a curved knife from a sheath on her thigh. A second strike was unneeded as the doe was down, lying among the short ferns as if she was taking an afternoon rest.

    She brushed back her raven locks, revealing elven ears as she listened carefully for the sounds of other predators. She knew the forest, knowing all too well that while she tracked the doe there may have been other creatures tracking her, biding their time to strike.

    Detecting nothing, she made quick, precise work, field dressing the doe with the razor-like dagger. In just a few minutes, she filled her leather pack with warm meat and hide and then darted back into the protective shadows of the forest, leaving the well-trimmed carcass of the doe in the dimming rays piercing through the leafy boughs.

    The sound of crackling fire and sizzling fat broke through the small clearing where the elf had made camp. She moved often and never back to the same place twice, though she had been in this area for months. Her bedroll was laid and wood for the night was stacked neatly by a makeshift chair of an old stump.

    She ate swiftly yet daintily, with a grace that only the elves seem to possess. The venison was a welcome meal, for she had been finding it difficult to find prey in this region as of late, a hint that she would soon be moving on from the region.

    As she ate, her ageless, viridian eyes wandered to the other side of the well-built spit atop the fire where her sheathed greatsword, Enai, was leaning against a moss covered boulder that sheltered the western side of the camp. The edge of the blade was peeking from the sheath flap, giving the gleaming edge a crimson glow in the light of the flames.

    At that moment, as she watched the flames dance in the reflection, a wave of memories flooded over her from decades passed. Suddenly, she was in another camp much like this one, deep in a remote forest though several more bedrolls were laid out. The human, Reginald, strummed a ukulele while a young woman named Kara swayed and hummed to the tune. A monk was there, deep in meditation. A Knight, Kanen, and his wife Seven curled among each other's arms. The others were blurred, her memories of them distant, though all focus was now fixed upon the Druid across the roaring fire. A wolf lay at his side, ever watchful of the surroundings, and he stroked its coarse fur as he listened to the bard sing a tale of humor.

    The detail in which she recalled the Druid's face was staggering, and she looked longingly upon the hair that fell about his shoulders. She could smell his scent, the lure of leather and nature and fervent passion. He caught her staring at him and he stared back, their unblinking eyes locked as the two spoke without words from across the wavering flames and heat between them.

    The vision vanished.

    She sat motionless for many moments, a tear streaming down her face. A longing ached within her, rising from her belly to her breast in a plume of deep, deep emptiness and regret.

  • What the hell am I doing here?

    The slender elf stood in the cool shadows of the ancient tree and squinted through the tendrils of mist that surrounded the gathering of adventurers. Her greatsword was resting comfortably on her shoulder, the dark runes glistening in the damp air. She shifted it's weight, perhaps more like one would shift a restless child rather than out of discomfort. Nevertheless, she continued her self-commentary.

    It's like watching a ferret wander into the mouth of an Otyugh. Nothing has changed…save the bait's color, shape, and scream.

    She allowed a brief smirk at the bitterness of the thought…or maybe at the imagery the thought evoked. Whatever the case, they were moving again and so she sighed and continued watching from afar, keeping to the shadows.

    The younger elf strode up behind Jade. She had heard her for a while and had hoped she would join the group rather than attempt conversation. Alas, her hopes were shattered by the voice of the woman. Jade allowed herself a conversation as she continued watching the scene unfold.

    As the gnome say, 'tis like spinning one's wheels.' Futile.

    She laughed inwardly at the statement. She could count the gnomes she'd met on her left hand and none had ever said anything like that…even if she'd have wanted to speak to them. But she thought the analogy fit well for the question, which was of Jade's intentions.

    I've seen this a million times over. The fruitless running to and fro…the charge into battle; the expeditious retreat amidst the screams and, sometimes, body parts of comrades. Heh. Have I become that numb? Am I that bitter?

    She watched as a guardian relentlessly pummeled the crumpled form of some poor soul into the damp sod of the forest floor. The wrist of the dead was upturned, still holding the shattered blade like a fly who'd been smashed upon the bedstand and who's wing still twitched out of thoughts of escape. Years ago, she'd have been horrified. Now she just watched.

    I suppose I am that bitter.

    The group continued forward, then rushing back, then surging, then contracting. Jade was reminded of marsh gnats floating over a gurgling tarpit. Meanwhile, the conversation with the elf continued.

    She really doesn't know. The futility of all this. Only when she is there, lying in a twisted, broken mass will she know. And by that time it's too late. Drawing a spasm-racked dying breath, she'll shudder and cling to thoughts of her youth…and then, she'll know it.

    They entered the portal and vanished from sight. Jade and the younger elf stood in the dull blue light that filled this part of the forest. The elf tried to coax Jade into entering…but Jade didn't budge. She watched the youngling enter and vanish from sight.

    Why do I bother?

    She was standing on the moss-covered steps of the druid circle, bathed in the bluish light. She could see the many footprints that led into the portal. She counted at least twenty distinct prints.

    Morbid curiosity. Or maybe nostalgia, like I told the elf. Probably both.

    She entered and found herself standing in a dimly lit cave. There was much noise, but she stood near the young elf who had yet to venture forth. They continued their conversation as Jade listened to the noises ahead of them.

    More battle. What a waste.

    Then, she heard something. A scream. The voice was as clear as the desert skies of Calim. It struck a cord in Jade's being, something that had been at the surface all these long years but hadn't been dared to be contemplated.

    "Skyla's dead."

    A wave of coolness rushed over Jade's form. She relaxed, turning from her conversation with the elf, her emerald eyes ablaze.

    Justice. I suppose this little trip was worthwhile after all.

    Jade left the cave and disappeared into the woods.

  • - Allusion

    Like a barbed sliver of rusty steel in the arch of one's foot, she once again finds herself standing in the midst of the town she swore she'd never return. She lacked the care to decipher if she was the sliver or the foot, but the analogy seemed fitting. She didn't feel the aching this time…perhaps because she had numbed her mind with a few choice herbs. Still, it seemed surreal as she walked the lumpy grass of the commons.

    She wandered around town, much akin to a lost kit in the thick fog of some gods-forsaken swamp. She sought solace in the belief that she would see familiar faces, but deep within she knew that most had either perished to old age, retired, or moved on to other lands. This made her feel angry...not for some trite reason that they would dare to move on without her, but that she, herself, left in such a way that severed all ties as one cuts the sheaves at Harvestide. She paused a moment to reflect on the irony, leaving a smirk on her face as she shook her head slightly.

    But she was never one for goodbyes anyway.

    At the base of the hill she stood eyeing the lone, leafy maple as she would a well-armed foe. It had grown larger in her absence, but looking upon the twisting branches instantly brought memories that she frantically pushed to the back of her mind. She glanced at the waterfall and the lazy stream that led into the woods as she attempted to compose herself. She took a deep breath and began slowly walking up the rise of the hill...

    ...and then she saw it.

    Her emerald elven eyes and long, slender ears were keen...more keen than most as of these past few years, but the wolf had strode upon her with nary a brush in the tall grass nor a padding of a paw on the soft turf. She instinctively gave her greatsword's pommel a tug, loosening the simple leather binding that kept the protective sheath in place. Had the wolf attacked from it's position, she would have been at a dire disadvantage given the height at which it could have leapt, for it could have tore her throat out long before she could swing her greatsword. So she reached for a curved dagger on her thigh, ready for the attack that never came.

    Instead, the wolf slowly sat upon the hill's edge. So slowly in fact, she was reminded of a leopard moving upon it's heedless prey...and yet she saw no rancor in it's movement, no malice in it's intent. No, it was observing. Perhaps. She took her hand from the dagger's hilt as a mutual show of non-aggression. The wolf simply stared at her, unblinking.

    "Cormamin lindua ele lle. Loth lri'nir freo'ein shor'hri so di'hr vasa ar' yulna en i'mereth?" She spoke softly in elven, her voice mingling with the songbirds and the constant rush of the waterfall. The wolf's ears perked slightly, no more.

    She dared to take her eyes off the wolf for a moment and look to the north into the village. Seeing no figures in earshot, she turned back to the wolf and hesitated....then spoke again, this time in Common. "My heart sings to see thee. What are the intentions of the wolf who spies upon the elf in the wilderness?"

    The words rang sour in her elven ears, so long it had been that she spoke in the Common language. She wondered if she had pronounced the words properly when the wolf gave a nearly inaudible whine. Her ears perked; her emerald eyes widened.

    Swallowing hard, she scratched her flawless neck with a slender finger nervously, and then crept forward smoothly and deftly as only an elven huntress could. She extended her left hand toward the wolf, bending her fingers as one would to a house dog to allow one's scent to be perceived. But this wolf had long known her scent and her motions seemed prosaic, foolish. She paused a moment, fighting a terrible inner demon that seemed ready to burst from her breast. The aching was pounding in her head, but curiosity moved her foot one in front of the other, overpowering the ache in her heart and slaying her pained conscience with pure adrenaline. She was within a handsbreadth from the snout of the wolf, still staring unblinking with intellegent eyes. A tear slid from her cheek, her lip trembled. Yet she continued her battle, biting her lip and drawing blood.

    They touched.

    She felt the cold nose of the wolf on the backside of her hand...felt the push of the wolf as it leaned into the caress. She had closed her eyes, letting the tears burst from their dam within her eyelid. A thousand memories rushed into her mind like the roaring of a mighty river and she turned her hand, her fingertips feeling the fur. A gasp escaped her lips and she fought to control her emotion. In that moment of weakness...the aching returned. She pulled back slightly from the wolf's snout...a shard of doubt, a shunt of ineptitude was thrust upon her heart and it penetrated, wounding her, bleeding her. But she gained control again and felt for the fur just below her fingertips...and found only air.

    She thrust her eyes open and looked about. The wolf was gone. She wanted to scream out, to call to Him, but she knew it was fruitless. She gripped her left hand in a fist, closing her eyes as she longed to remember the touch...instead, feeling something cold in her grasp, she looked into her open palm and saw a silver ring. The inscription had worn, but the elven was still legible.

    She smiled.

    And somewhere, over Norwick, the cry of the nighthawk was heard.

  • - Reminiscent

    I'm crouching on the earthy ledge surrounded by the arms of the old forest. I can feel the cold steel of my greatsword, Enai, against my inner thighs, but it was a feeling that made me think of the bitterly cold winters in this land. My fingers are wrapped around the grip of the blade; entanged like the roots that extend from the ledge that grasped at the air. I push down on the hilt, piercing the tip further into the sod. I can hear the muffled snap of the roots being severed by the blade, but I keep pushing until the hilt is next to my face and I rest my cheek on the leatherwork, taking in that all-too-familiar scent of steel and leather.

    But there's something else on the wind. A smell of burning birch and cedar. I look across the village, trying to track the scent to it's origin. Ah, the small home on the edge of town has a thin, wispy column of smoke coming from it's hearty chimney of fieldstones. I remember that home…I remember walking inside many times and seeing not what should be or what an ordinary person would, but a world suspended between planes.

    At least that's what I was told.

    But who really cares? I was there as a spy. We were so very suspicious back then, and not 'just' of evil, but also of those who were powerful. So I kept up appearances and even helped out once and a while...

    I feel my eyes shifting to another part of town. The Inn. That damned Inn. I scarcely remember it's name anymore, but the things that went on in there were incredulous...and things that make my eyes well with tears. My eyes wander to the third window on the upper story. I made love in that room, had dreadful nightmares in that room...cried in that room. The aching comes to me again but I push it away and let the euphoria drift into my thoughts like a morning fog across a sleepy valley. Oh, to be there again.

    I see the merchant in the middle commons, working at a pile of shoddy equipment gleaned from the goblins that still wander the forests to the south. I find myself laughing a bit, something uncharacteristic as of late.

    The benchs, the well...all of them bring a flood of memories spilling over me, threatening to drown me in the aching. Still I resist and let my eyes rest on the scene a few moments more. The grassy knoll around the well. I can still feel the cool grass on my hands, sitting there next to Him...I remember bards sharing tales, songs, poems...I remember singing there once.

    I'm standing now. I resist the temptation to stroll into the town, but I find myself looking for a way down from the cliff. My gaze finds it's mark and locks there, to the south. There it is, a lone tree on a hill by the waterfall. I can still see the butterflies flittering in the shade of the tree...

    The aching returns to my heart. I'm overcome with emotion. I see us sitting there beneath the tree, speaking on things, looking into each other's eyes. He comments on my eyes and their emerald hue, even speaks a poem to me. I see him on the riverbank watching me as I bathe in the waterfall. I then see myself sitting on the upper bank, tossing a ring into the stream...

    Enough for me.

    I'm striding back from whence I came. I place Enai back in it's holster across my back and trudge through the forest...why did I come back here? The scent of cedar and birch smoke is no longer on the breeze. The aching subsides slightly and I wipe a tear from my eye.

    Perhaps another time. Perhaps.

  • - Return to light

    The dawn sunlight filtered through the dense canopy of the old-growth forest, striking dew on the rich foliage and scattered the warm amber rays into a million prisms that flickered and pulsed in the cool breeze. A clearing amidst the swaying trees revealed a small spring-fed stream that wound its way through the masses of twisted roots and smooth, mossy stones that bathed in its cool waters. It was there, upon a misshapen stone she sat.

    Her doeskin boots removed, she dipped her sore feet into the stream, letting a quiet sigh escape her smooth lips as the chill of the water sent a tingle up her spine. She tilted her head back and peered into the canopy that stretched dozens of meters above her head, causing the sunlight in the clearing to strike her emerald eyes and shimmer brilliantly. She closed her eyes slowly and pulled the silver rings from her raven-colored locks, spilling her hair like a silken waterfall over her slim shoulders.

    Aside lay her greatsword, leaning against a large, knotty root that protruded from the soft sod. Refracted light struck the well-polished, gleaming edge giving the blade a look of fiery life…an ever-seeing sentinel keeping watch over it's master. Her hand never strayed far from it's hilt and in this, it seemed part of her being. An extension of her soul; striking vengeance and fury. But this morning, it just lay against the old root, waiting. This morning it too, like it's master, felt the calmness.

    Her elven ears perked at the sound of movement. Her eyes opened with a slight start, looking left and right, half-expecting a fight. She smiled a crooked grin and sighed, seeing a raccoon come to the water's edge further downstream and wash a piece of fruit. It scampered off soon after devouring it's breakfast, leaving the elf to wonder where it headed...if it had family...a mate.

    Shaking her head as if to exude the thought from her mind, she noticed another friend of the forest had joined her. Directly across from her, a wolf. Gray with dark patches, it strode to the stream's edge and sat, staring at the elf with it's light-blue, piercing eyes. She stared back, even giving a slight smile as if to extend a greeting to the strong creature. It did nothing, save blink. It was then that she felt the itching in her brain. Her eyes narrowed, as if to pierce the flesh of the wolf and look beneath...look into the soul.

    Her mind's eye flashed scenes before her. Deep in the wood...somewhere...she led a wolf down a path. She fought along side it...spoke with it...


    She sat up quickly, pulling her feet from the stream, causing a mild splash. The wolf started, rose, turned and sprinted from whence it came...into the deep foliage and brush of the dense forest. The elf stood and spoke to halt, but her voice cracked from lack of use and she cursed the actions that betrayed her and startled the animal. Gathering her blade and boots, she jumped across the small stream and attempted to follow the trail of the wolf. Alas, the animal did not want to be found, for she could find no trace of the wolf...not a print, nor disturbed bush. She continued looking for several minutes before she found herself once again at the stream's edge. Looking into the waters rushing over the stones and root, she spoke softly...

    "A'Laena Sar...Wilhelm."

    After a few moments, she smiled widely, letting go a small giggle and pressed two fingers to her lips as she shook her head slightly.

    "Until we meet again, Wilhelm..." she repeated in Common.

  • - Alone

    What is it to walk alone? To lose the feeling of the wind against your face or the sun on your skin. That unexplainable aching…the hatred of those who are happy or joyous. That flash of anger when you hear the sound of laughter or even the merry sounds of a chirping bird among the branches.

    Walking amidst the lands of Toril like an aimless wraith, this ghost of an elf traveled hundreds of miles always looking but never finding. Strangely, ironically...she knew deep in her mind where she would find what she was looking for. She knew what would satiate the hunger in her soul...suture the gaping wound in her heart.

    Even though she knew it was a fruitless to search, she continued to wander. Her only companion was her sword, found in the ruins of an old elven keep, given to her by ancestorial ghosts in the depths of her despair...fighting against the demons of her past. The black, elvish runes in the blade were burned into her mind, so many times she had laid her hands across them and pondered the maker's thoughts as they engraved them into the hot metal. Strange that she find so much comfort in a blade. Not in it's security of protecting her against the evils of the world...but the likeness it portrays about her own life. A self-portrait of steel. Emblazoned upon her soul was his mark...and even as the maker had long cast her upon the world to survive a lonely existance, those fiery runes still ran deep...though she covered herself with a sheath of self-denial, those runes still glowed like crimson embers.

    Her elven ways coming to the forefront, she no longer spoke the common tongue. She despised it. No longer did she drink from a flask, but of the river itself like a fawn. She cast aside the gleaming aquamarine armor and took up simple leathers. Strange that her outward appearance would change so, but her mind still reflected on the past. On him. It was difficult to separate her thoughts of him. She simply existed, but with his face always in her mind. When she closed her eyes, she saw only him. When she looked into the waters, she saw his reflection standing behind her, always reaching out and touching the soft locks of her black hair. She heard his songs and poems in her ear, whispering like the leaves of the autumn falling in the bitter winds of the west.

    She wanted to end it. She wanted the pain to stop. Was it lack of courage? Was it fear of death? Or was it hope?

    In the night she would cry out. Whether of anguish or bitter sorrow, it was always the same. Blade in hand and emerald eyes staring into the darkness that embraced her like the cruel arms of a brutal rapist, she would whisper the words of her lonely song. Where was her Wilhelm? Where was her love? She knew where he was and yet, like the butterfly beyond the grasp of one's hand, she knew it was futile to reach out to him. Thus, she sings her song. Thus, she continues wandering. Alone.

    Please, please forgive me
    But I won't be home again
    Maybe someday you'll look up
    And barely conscious you'll say to no one
    Isn't something missing?

    You won't cry for my absence, I know
    You forgot me long ago
    Am I that unimportant?
    Am I so insignificant?
    Isn't something missing?
    Isn't someone missing me?

    Even though I'm the sacrifice
    You won't try for me, not now
    Though I'd die to know you loved me
    I'm all alone
    Isn't someone missing me?

    Please, please forgive me
    But I won't be home again
    I know what you do to yourself
    I breathe deep and cry out
    Isn't something missing

    Even though I'm the sacrifice
    You won't try for me, not now
    Though I'd die to know you loved me
    I'm all alone
    Isn't someone missing me?

    {Lyrics: Evanescence - Missing}

  • - A'maelamin…melamin

    A group of four travelers set camp atop the mountain shrouded in cool mist and tall, ancient pines that towered over their small clearing like watchful guardians. Three looked at the fourth, watching her intently as she moved with the deliberate grace that all elfkind display. She was slight, wearing forest colors of green and brown. The elegant armor of layered leather and chain was both simple and functional, yet was designed to enhance and reveal her shapely form. As she set her pack against a giant, moss-covered trunk and began eating of a small crust of bread, the three gathered to prepare their own meal and began talking in whispers.

    One mentioned how her beauty stunned his breathing. Her hair seemed that of smooth, glistening obsidian and yet soft as silk. The locks were pulled together with three silver rings and so long they nearly brushed her ankles. Her sculpted features were smooth and perfect, like an ivory statue of great worth…but it was the eyes that caused such pain for another man. They were deep pools of emerald fire that pierced the very soul, but betrayed a tragic, shadowed sadness in their depths. They spoke words that no bard dare portray in lyric. He spoke how they caused the heart to ache and moved his emotions so that he desired greatly to take her in his arms gently and press her cheek to his and let her weep her troubles upon his shoulder.

    The third man watched as she sat upon a stone and, in great care and delicate precision, took up a massive greatsword, unsheathing it and working dark oil into the exquisite blade inlaid with runic etchings of elven origin. He marveled at the dauntless strength of the woman...the purity, yet perplexing contrast of beauty and steel; softness and obdurate impermeability. He was awed by visions of fighting back-to-back with her against hopeless odds. Just to watch the fluidity and skill combined with the ferocious might and terrible, wicked power of such a blade in the hands of the alluring, lithe elf maiden caused adreneline to course through his veins.

    And yet, it was not until nightfall did their souls tremble most with the conflicting surges of aching desire and sorrow. Upon their bedrolls tucked among the thick bed of pine needles, the men watched; their breaths held. The wispy mists curled among the silent trees and the thin smoke of their dying fire's embers rose to meet the cloudless night as the lone angel strode to a stone outcropping, peering into the darkness. Her sillouette infused with the silver light of the quarter moon...she sang a song that haunted the valley and silenced the creatures that scurried and chattered among the branches. A poem put to was filled with such sorrow and longing, the men thanked the gods they did not know elvish, for fear it would be too much to bear. It ended in a broken that told the men a deep sorrow mercilessly clenched her heart, causing tears to fall unheededly from her flawless face upon the stone like blood from a fresh wound.

    One man tried to rise, gathering enough bravery to have thoughts of approaching her, but the remaining two held him at bay with only a look. He returned to his bedroll, sighing heavily as they watched her standing like a weeping, lonely statue...the chill darkness of the night enclosed around her like a cruel blanket that saturated her essence and left the men in ruin.

    Two words were spoken after the sad song...two words still lingered in the minds of the men, even though they knew not the meaning in the common tongue.

    "My love."

  • - Talaenar

    Jade sat at the edge of the stream atop the hill where they had spent so many hours together. She had been weeping continually since she left him standing there in the narrow streets in Peltarch and the emotions did not cease their flooding, just as a shoreline is beat upon relentlessly by the surf.

    First, of terrible sorrow…of none she had felt before. She had been wounded horrifically...both by his words and the dagger she had slit her wrist with. The wound was nothing but a pink scar now, after Wilhelm had healed her, but the wound on her soul was still spurting her life upon the ground in great torrents. So she cried…not knowing what else to do…not knowing what salve could heal the ragged gash.

    Then anger. Anger of the coldest degree; anger that made her appendages numb and her heart skip beats. She was angry at his words...the chill wind that bit her when he spoke them with unemotional purity and agonizingly obvious indifference. She knew that he thought she wanted to kill him...she felt it when she looked upon him in those final moments together. This, however, was the furthest from the truth. She wanted to kill herself...and she knew not the reason why.

    Then hatred. Hatred for ever sharing herself with another man after the death of her husband, Caleb. Hatred for ever pouring her love into such a hopeless relationship. Hatred for caring. Hatred for loving. Pure, unadulterated hatred...pointed not at him, but at herself for the immense failings of her iron will and statuesque determination.

    She looked down at her armored feet. She watched the water rush over them as the stream carried itself further...toward the waterfall. She looked to her lap and saw the tears glistening in the cold, uncaring light of the silver moon. Then, she looked to her hands. In one, she held the letter written to her. In the other, the dagger...already bloodied from the wound she had given herself as she stood before Wilhelm in the street. She read over the words once again...again determining that she would not cry as she read the words on the roughened parchment...

    _My dearest Jade,

    In the seasons of your absence, I have wandered alone. I have seen much to move the heart of a man, but little to match the fierceness of your beauty. Nonetheless, the heart of a man must know change if it is to survive the absence of beauty, and I have reluctantly moved on, with ever an eye to the past.

    However, I am now reconciled that our paths have irrevocably diverged.

    Know that you taught me much of love, and much that I had yet to discover. You opened new chambers within my labyrinth soul, and some of these will remain forever a secret to any but you and I.

    If I see you again, I shall not be the same. I will remember you with love. I hope that you think on me fondly.


    Tears streaked her beautiful, unblemished face, her elven features twisting in the agony of the emotion that coursed through her body in terrible, intense waves. Memories flooded into her mind…memories that tore at the wound in her soul.

    She recalled the first day she met Wilhelm in the Rawlinswood, nearly ten years ago. She remembered blushing at his words of how beautiful she looked in the moonlight...

    She remembered how terrible she felt when he fell to Atol. She remembered helping rescue his body and resurrecting him...

    She looked back at the time at the waterfall, their first kiss...

    The visions of their adventures together flashed in front of her eyes in rapid succession. She tried to shut them out, but they continued to bombard her. She cried out as if they were fists pounding into her face and stomach...

    Suddenly, there was nothing. She opened her eyes and watched the letter get borne away by the rapid water, passing over the waterfall's edge unceremoniously. She looked down and opened her hand. Through the blood, she saw the silver ring, its etchings faded from wear, but still visible even in the dim moonlight. She tossed the ring over the waterfall, speaking in low, bitterly cold words that were nothing more than a whisper in her shaking, cracked voice: "No one is worthy of it..."

    She turned her gaze then to the dagger, still held tightly in her small, elven hand. She turned the blade so that the moonlight reflected off the glistening blade still stained with her own blood and smiled bitterly. "Sh'mai, Wilhelm...Sh'ai, ave talaenar..."

    Far down the stream, a young elf was walking along the shoreline. He stopped a moment to wash his face in the cool water, squatting in the smooth stones that tumbled in the swift current as his boots sunk to the ankle. He ceased his cleansing as he watched a piece of soaked parchment pass him by. He tried to make a grab for it, but it fell apart in his lithe hands. He shrugged and finished his washing, took his gear, and headed back on the path toward the elven encampment. He noticed not the crimson streak that followed behind the dissolving parchment.

    Somewhere in the night, a beautiful voice was heard echoing among the ancient trees of the Rawlinswood. Somewhere, a few elves bowed their heads as they felt the despair in the achingly sorrowful melody...

    _My dearest love,
    How my heart cries out for thee,
    My dearest love,
    I desire you next to me.

    My Ehiela,
    I call your name in haste,
    My Ehiela,
    Oh, let not my soul waste.

    This I sing for you,
    This I pray for us._

  • - Returned, but still unanswered

    Jade reached the waterfall south of Norwick and tossed her pack to the damp shoreline uncaringly. She plopped down on the soft grass and sighed, stretching her legs in the unseasonable warmth of the afternoon sun. Her new, gleaming armor caught some light and temporarily blinded her, for which she whispered a quick elven curse.

    Reaching into her pack, she took out a crust of bread and began eating it to compliment the sour berries she picked in the Rawlinswood. Throwing a few small bluish berries in her mouth, she began humming an elven tune. She gazed up the cliff, watching the perpetual motion of the water rushing over the glistening, jagged stones that cut through the river’s surface at the top of the cliff, as if straining for breath from beneath the punishing flow.

    That was me once, she thought, a bitter smile playing on her lips.

    She reminisced about her time here, namely the countless hours spent sitting with Wilhelm beneath the tree that peeked over the cliff edge. Shaking her head, she wrapped the remaining crust of bread in a piece of cloth, gathered her things and began her journey through town, toward home.

    She kneeled on the worn mat in the darkened corner of the room and stared at the wall with her emerald eyes, trying hard not to cry out from the pain. She had been kneeling on the mat for several hours, hands clutched together…waiting. Her eyes closed once again and she began chanting the elven words over and over again, hoping that the Nameless god would heed her call.

    The answer never came.

    Frustrated, she stood and picked up the mat, whipping it across the room where it landed in a misshapen heap. She lay down on the bed, rubbing the sore spots on her knees where the mat had left deep gouges in her tanned skin.

    She began to cry softly, thrusting her head into the feather pillow in frustration. It had been months since the encounter, and still the god had not answered her plea for direction. She had done all that the god had asked, but she has heard nothing but silence.

    Patience. Patience is what I want…

    She held her breath as she heard the voice, gentle as a soft breeze upon the grass. She sat for long moments waiting for more words, and then began to breathe again, wiping the tears from her face. It was all she needed.

    She rolled over and stared across the empty bed to the darkened corner of her bedroom, absently running her hands over the place where Wilhelm would have been. Quietly, she began to whisper a song in a sorrowful elven melody, wishing for Wilhelm to be by her side…

    _My dearest love,
    How my heart cries out for thee,
    My dearest love,
    I desire you next to me.

    My Ehiela,
    I call your name in haste,
    My Ehiela,
    Oh, let not my soul waste.

    This I sing for you,
    This I pray for us._

  • –edited by Phaedrus --

  • - Wanderer, part 2

    Oren sat across from Jade patiently as the elf caught her breath from the battle, watching as she cooled herself with the water from the waterskin by pouring it on her face. She threw him the waterskin and he drank from it, nodding in appreciation.

    He eyed her closely. This, being his first, close-up experience with an elf, he was amazed at the fluidity of even the most simply movements, as she reached into her pack, or stroked back her hair. He was awed by her grace, but his eyes shifted constantly to the massive greatsword that lay next to her, always within an arms reach.

    Jade didn't know what to make of Oren. So many times she had witnessed the curiosity of strangers back in Norwick, Jiydd, and even the Gypsy Camp. But Oren was different. He was innocent – not filled with the preconceived notions and ignorant racism or misunderstandings. She enjoyed watching him eye her hand movements, and more than once she caught herself smiling as his jaw went slack when she turned a certain way or moved her body in her trademarked coy fashion.

    After satisfying her hunger on a bit of bread from the tavern, she began to speak.

    "I've been traveling for some time now. I've heard rumors of an elf in these parts, in the mountains to the south. Have you heard such rumors?" She asked with interest.

    Oren seemed to ponder a moment, then spoke. "The elders speak of an elf witch that lives in the foothills, if that's what you mean. They say that there are monsters too...big rock-like creatures called golems."

    Jade's eyes widened. "Aye! That's the you know where this place is?"

    Oren smiled and then chuckled. "No, no, no," he said, waving his hands, "that's an old story that's been told to the children in these parts to make sure they stay near their homes. There's no elf south of here. Trust me," he said, thumping his chest with a smile.

    Jade frowned. Oren, his interest now piqued, leaned in and dared to ask. "So...what is really going on? What's the reason you're looking for an old elf in the hills?"

    "I'm haunted," she said plainly, with no emotion. Oren nodded, quickly calling to mind the image of the man with the scythe.

    He waited for her to continue. When she didn't, he bobbed his head and urged her to finish. She seemed reluctant, but after a few moments, continued.

    "I have memories, you see. Something happened to a few friends and I many months ago..." she looked distant as she continued, as if remembering some great tragedy. She paused, shook her head. "Its too much to explain...lets just say something happened that caused my friends and I to remember things...horrible things that happened to other people.

    "Recently, these...memories...have begun manifesting themselves in horrible ways. The battle you witnessed was one of the worse of the more challenging ones," she said, absently fondling the grip of her greatsword that lay at her side.

    Oren was having a hard time understanding. Such things she was speaking about are written in books and read in the darkness of a cold winters' night to scare the children. But he had witnessed it! It must have some truth to it. He listened closer.

    "After this started, I set out to find answers...a balm for the disease, I suppose. After much traveling, I find myself chasing after this elf of which you say has no existence," she said, looking defeated.

    Oren began thinking. He had heard the stories of the elf in the hills. He knew the place. He had gone there as a child, just as all children did in defiance of their parents' wishes. He had stood on the outcropping near the lake and peered into the cave the lay across the waves. He remembered the fear of that day, constantly looking out for the golems of the elf witch.

    Oren suddenly stood up. "Let's go, then," she said, offering her his hand.

    Jade smiled, grasped his hand, and let him pull her to her feet. She gathered her things and followed Oren to the road that led south, toward the foothills of the mountains that stretched their peaks upward in the distance.

    As they began their journey together, Jade asked Oren about his sudden decision, wondering what his motives were. Oren replied, "There are times for fear from old men's stories and a time to stand up and help someone who needs it."

    Jade simply smiled as they strode down the dusty road.

    A full day came and went with no incident. Jade was not used to walking such a distance with no encounters of bandits, goblins, or orcs that she seemed a little bored. Oren tried to keep her spirits high by recounting the stories the elders used to scare the children from the elf witch.

    It worked for a while, but soon she found herself humming an old elven tune she had learned long ago. Oren tried joining in more than once during what he presumed was the chorus, but his vocal cords were not meant for such music as the elves' voices were.

    It was nearing nightfall of the second day before they reached the small cliff overlooking the calm waters of an oval lake of dark water. He pointed out the cave to Jade, who quickly scanned the terrain as the sun set and darkness fell upon the foothills.

    They sat together, sitting by a small fire Oren had made from the dried birch bark from a grove of trees to the west. Oren kept his eye on Jade, noticing that she had become edgy and restless. He could only assume this was due to the closeness of the answer she was seeking.

    Soon, Jade was on her back, staring up at the half-moon from her bedroll. Oren, his back to a large boulder near the fire, continued to watch her with interest. He soon noticed that she was mouthing words, so he asked what she was doing.

    "Oh..." she said, surprised that he noticed, "...just thinking of someone."

    Oren smiled. "Who would this someone be?" he asked quizzically.

    "You are a nosey one..." Jade giggled. "My love..." she said after a few moments of silence.

    Oren was indeed surprised. She said nothing of this during their entire trip. "Where is this one? Where is your love?"

    "I've left him back where I met him...away from all of this...this nightmare," she replied nearly in a whisper.

    "Do you worry about him?" He said, knowing the answer.

    "Every moment of the day. He must think horrible things...not to see me after all these months," she replied, her voice cracking slightly.

    Oren thought carefully, choosing his words wisely. "You'll see him again soon. You'll be all better and he'll be so happy. Trust me," he said with a wink as he thumped his chest.

    Jade turned her head to look into Oren's eyes and smiled.

    Oren awoke as the ground around him shuttered momentarily, but fiercely. He leapt from his bedroll and scrambled to gather his weapon and shield. Spinning around, he saw nothing but the rising sun on the horizon.

    He then realized that Jade was gone. He looked around, peering over the cliff and toward the cave, but she was nowhere to be seen. He even dared to call to her, but no reply was heard.

    As he walked back to camp, he noticed something out of place. The boulder he has been resting on last evening was now sitting across the camp near a pile of other oddly shaped boulders. He strode slowly toward the smoldering campfire, looking to his left and right, sensing something was very, very wrong.

    He felt it again, but this time, the rumbling was deeper and less violent. He stopped his forward movement and tried to keep his balance. There was a thundering crash behind him and he whirled just in time to dodge a potentially fatal swing of a massive stone fist. The golem lumbered toward Oren, who was on his back, scooting backward across the rough grass of the outcropping, his feet pushing as hard as he could to stay out of the reach of the creature.

    The golem stopped moving forward and tilted his head at Oren, almost in amusement of the pitiful human that was obviously terrified. This gave Oren enough time to get back on his feet and get in a shaky, yet defiant fighting stance.

    The golem strode forward suddenly and slammed its fists downward, toward Oren's head. Oren parried the attack by jumping out of the way and then struck at the arm of the golem, which shattered Oren's shortsword into thousands of glittering shards of steel.

    Shocked and disappointed by the performance of his blade, Oren ran behind the golem, toward the cliff. Realizing his error, Oren spun around and screamed in horror as the fist of the golem struck Oren in the ribcage, crushing bones and sending him tumbling end-over-end down the cliff face to the rocky beach below, where he instantly became unconscious from the massive wounds he had received.

    Oren came in and out of consciousness several times. At one point, he thought he saw Jade. But it couldn't have been her, because the armor she wore was not the same he remembered during their travels. Could it have been?

    Oren woke to the sound of water being sloshed within a bowl. He opened his eyes and saw nothing but pure, white light. Blinking a few times, some dark shapes came into focus. Then a voice.

    "He's coming to."

    It was male, older. He recognized it as one of the elders. Blinking rapidly, he saw the old man's pale, wrinkled face peering at him from above.

    "By the gods, Oren! What happened to you?" the old man asked, his voice rising to an unnaturally high pitch.

    Oren winced at the elder's voice, but was soothed as a woman came into view and laid a damp cloth across his forehead.

    "Shh, Elder Mortan. He's got to have such a headache, after what that woman said," the woman said quietly but harshly to the elder.

    Oren licked his cracked lips and tried to speak. "W...what woman? W...was it her? Was it...was it Jade?"

    "Shhh..." she said, " took quite a fall. What were you doing playing around in the eastern quarry? You should know better, Oren. You broke your sword, you know."

    "Quarry...? Wha..." he was cut off as the woman pressed her fingers to his lips.

    "Rest, child," she said quietly. She pulled the elder back from standing above Oren and left the room, closing the door as quietly as possible.

    Oren turned his head and stared out the window of the room, his gaze going over the sharp edges of the southern mountains that slashed a white-capped edge against the blue sky.

    "...good bye, Jade...and good luck..." he said before closing his eyes in slumber.

    • Wanderer

    The quaint town sat comfortably between two mountain ridges, where lazy clouds encircled their snow covered peaks and where the waters from their highlands flowed into the valley making for fertile soil and bountiful hunting lands.

    Oren left his tiny house on the hill above the village, sword in sheath and shield slung over his back. He was young, perhaps 25 years of age, with clean cut brown hair and boyish good looks and dark eyes.

    He was a member of the local guard, a small volunteer group of men and women that patrolled the quiet town and fended off the occasional straggler goblin that wandered in to look through the village's garbage pile for anything useful.

    Unfortunately for Oren, a goblin coming into town was exceedingly rare, so most of his days were spent chasing around the local vandal teenagers and the town drunk that made a ruckus in the tavern from time to time. The most adventure he had seen was just two months ago when a few traveling halflings came through town, who he was ordered to follow around by the local elders. They ended up being a group of sleight-handed thieves that stole three apples from old man Nader's fruit stand, two copper coins from the tavern's barmaid, and a twine-bound package of stout weed from the general store. To this day it is still the talk of the town in the local gossip circles.

    Most people that lived in the small village had never seen any other race of Faerun…elves, dwarves, and half-orcs were rarer than goblins. While considered outsiders and foreigners by the villagers, most of the races that breezed through the mountain pass that the village sat in was given no trouble save if they steal from poor old man Nader, of course.

    This is why Oren's curiosity was piqued when he spotted a figure coming his way as he toured the northern road that came directly through the center of town. The figure sat on a nice looking, healthy and well trained horse, but was hardly able to be seen because of the thick fur cloak that shrouded the figure's seemingly small frame and helm that covered the head. The figure approached in no rush and Oren kindly stepped aside to let the horse pass, nodding to the helmeted figure who did nothing but trod on as if they had seen no one.

    Oren was a bit put off by this, but he knew that most travelers simply wanted to pass through, perhaps get a bite to eat at the tavern or a good night's rest at the inn, so he shrugged and continued his route.

    Night fell and Oren clomped into the tavern, weary from his endlessly boring patrol. He waved to a few patrons who instantly recognized Oren's characteristic and over-exaggerated act of exhaustion as he stumbled to the bar and sat roughly on one of the well worn stools, dropping his sword, shield, and pack in a heap next to his feet.

    "An ale, Taren," he said in a cracked voice.

    Taren turned with a smile and fetched a pint of ale from one of the barrels that sat on a warped table behind the bar. "So," Taren said, "how was the patrol today? See any halflings?"

    A few patrons chuckled, Oren smiled widely. "'Fraid not, gramps," he replied jokingly, "although there was a rider that passed me up north of Dadurn creek."

    "Aye!" Said a half-drunk older gentleman at the end of the bar, "Did see 'em too. Strange one, that rider was. Yessir."

    Oren turned to the man, "What was strange about him?" Oren asked, taking a deep swig from his ale.

    "Well, first off..." the man paused to take another shot of some acrid whiskey, "he's a she."

    Oren raised an eyebrow as the man continued in a harsh whisper after a dramatic pause, "And an elfess at that!"

    One of the patrons sitting at a table in the corner of the tavern spat a few curses. "Bah! Whatcha know old man! There's been no elves in these parts."

    "Say whatcha will, Doyle, I knowa elfess when I sees me one," the drunk man shot back.

    The man named Doyle seemed about to speak when someone entered. Everyone turned in their creaky chairs and stools and stared at the elf that stood before them. She walked without hesitation to one of the empty stools at the other end of the bar, swung a massive greatsword over her shoulder and leaned it against the wall of the tavern and plopped down with a sigh.

    Oren's eyes never left her. He had never seen such a beautiful creature in his whole life. Her hair was let down and fell to the middle of her back, raven black and shimmering in the light of the oil lamps of the tavern. Her features delicate and curved, her eyes brilliantly emerald, he felt himself holding his breath as he looked upon her.

    She waved Taren over and whispered a few words to the bartender, who went to work on a large loaf of bread on a cutting block behind the bar. The elf maiden stared down at her hands, absently picking at one of the calluses that Oren guessed she acquired by wielding the blade that's highly polished surface gleamed as it sat inches away from her.

    Oren suddenly became the most daring person in the entire village. He stood slowly after taking down the rest of his ale, pausing once to brush off the worried hand of the drunken man and strode over to the elf.

    "May I sit here?" he asked awkwardly, putting his hand on the stool that sat next to the elf.

    The elf looked up at Oren, nearly causing him to pass out as her wide, emerald eyes stared directly into his. She started to speak no less than three times before she simply nodded, turned, and continued picking at her hand. Oren sat down carefully and waved a finger at Taren, indicating he wanted to order another ale.

    "So..." Oren started slowly, leaning heavily on the lacquered bar, "...what brings you to these parts?"


    Oren tried again, this time leaning in a bit in case she didn't hear him. "My name's Oren. Pleased to meet you., uh...heading somewhere south of here?"

    Again, nothing.

    Oren tapped his fingers on the bar, again put off by her obviously stuck up attitude. He looked back to Taren as he brought the ale for Oren and a hunk of bread for the elf. Taren shrugged and widened his eyes, telling Oren to back down. Oren was persistent, however.

    "You know, it's the polite thing to do when someone introduces themselves that you reply in kind." More than one patron shifted in their chair as they were shocked by Oren's brash comment, including Oren himself.

    The elf turned her eyes toward Oren once again. She pursed her lips thoughtfully a moment, then spoke.

    "My name is Jade M'he El'hruen. Know this: Where I head is of my choosing and certainly none of your business. Furthermore, if any part of my silence, an indication of not wanting to be disturbed, was not understood by you, I humbly apologize and kindly ask you to continue to drink your ale back at the other end of the bar."

    The silence in the tavern was deafening. Jade threw three gold coins onto the bar, wrapped her bread in a cloth sack, gathered her sword and strode out of the tavern, leaving everyone slack jawed and staring as she disappeared into the darkness of the night.

    Oren woke as the morning sun cast a sliver of light across his face from the shuttered window of his room. He groaned and rolled out of bed, once again starting his boring routine.

    He walked out onto his porch and headed toward the village, trying desperately to forget the previous night's events. He stopped a moment to sit on a large boulder that marked a turn in the sloping road that led into town to fix a lace in his padded leather armor that he had forgot to tie. He sat a few moments after that, shaking his head and laughing to himself.

    "What a fool I was," he said through his angry laughter. He leaned back against the boulder and stretched – but stopped suddenly as he heard the clanging of metal on metal.

    He sat up, turning his head left and then right, trying to determine the location of the noise. Hearing it coming from the south, he ran into the forest that bordered the road, stopping occasionally to listen for more of the noise and head in its direction.

    He came upon a clearing. Ducking behind a bush, he peered in awe at the two figures that stood in the midst of the clearing, watching as they fought with fierce determination.

    The first figure was the elf maiden named Jade, wielding the massive greatsword that was taller than she with mind-bending ease and amazing fluidity. The second figure was a frightening sight to behold: It looked like a man, but a man who was entirely transparent. Dressed in black robes, he fought with a ghostly weapon that was a massive, terrible scythe. His cowl had fallen back, revealing a handsome human male with pitch black hair and cobalt blue eyes that glowed with an intense fury.

    Oren watched as Jade continued to attack again and again, but was repelled with inhuman skill and agility. She jumped back a few feet, far out of reach of the scythe.

    "Why do you torment me so?!" Jade screamed, brandishing her greatsword threateningly.

    The man in black stood silent, staring ahead but not seeing. Jade suddenly yelled and lunged forward again, slashing and stabbing with tremendous force, each time being repelled by the perfect parries of the man.

    At one point she swung and missed, lodging the blade deep into an oak at the edge of the clearing. She turned and ran as she left the blade hopelessly lodged in the tree, ducked a near-fatal swing from the scythe, and retrieved a katana from the pile of her things she left on a stump in the middle of the clearing. She continued her attacks, not missing a beat. Finally, after several amazing moments, the katana finally came in contact with the man and he vanished with not a sound or mark that showed he had been there.

    Jade collapsed where she stood, crying and weeping like a child. She was shouting brokenly several words in another language that Oren could only assume was elven and beating her fists into the soft turf of the clearing.

    Oren stood and strode slowly, yet deliberately and with determination into the clearing, hand on the hilt of his shortsword. As he came near to her, she stopped crying immediately, hearing the padding of his feet upon the grass. She turned her head and stared up at him, her eyes red rimmed and her cheeks tear streaked.

    They stared at each other for long moments. Finally, Oren spoke. "Are you...okay?" He said, not knowing what else to say.

    Jade stood up, pulling a few clumps of sod from her shin plates and retrieved her katana. "I'm fine," she said, walking to the oak with her greatsword still protruding from its rough bark.

    She yanked with a grunt and pulled the blade free, flicking the bits of wood from its edge with her delicate and gloved fingers. She turned and walked past Oren to her things, sheathing the katana and gathering several bags and a large shield.

    She began walking toward the road that led to the village, when Oren shouted with a commanding voice, "Stop! Now!"

    Jade stopped and turned toward Oren, staring at him without care or emotion.

    "What in the name of the fourth hell just happened here?!" he shouted in frustration. "What was that thing?"

    "My husband," she said plainly.

    Oren stood shaking his head in confusion.

    "It cannot be explained," she said with little patience. "You witnessed something that should never have been seen, so just go about your business and forget I was ever here. I'm getting to my horse and leaving right now."

    "Like hell you are," he threatened, stepping forward and drawing his shortsword. "These are calm parts. Nothing like this ever happens around here, and since I am the authority in these parts, you best start explaining what just happened or I'll take you to the elders and have you explain yourself to them."

    Jade shook her head. "You're serious? You think you can take me on?" She sighed loudly and continued, "I don't have time for this."

    "Why? Where are you headed in such a rush? Why are you so mean to me? What have I ever done to you?" he said, shaking his shortsword.

    She stood for long moments, thinking. Finally, she dropped her pack, placed her blade on the ground, and sat upon the grass.

    "Fine. I suppose I don't need to go right now...maybe it would be good to talk to someone," she said as she took a drink from a waterskin.

    To be continued…

  • –-----------XP AWARDED–------------------

  • Reviewed. XP Pending.

  • ::A letter is delivered to a red dragon on the outskirts of the Rawlinswood. It is delivered to Devon, the Red Wizard of Thay with the following message written in dragonspeak::

    Your bidding is complete. Jubei has fallen, but not by my own mighty blade, I regret to say. He tried to flee but perished due to those fool bandits who were attempting to invade Norwick once again. Regardless, his life has ended and his secret shall remain forever hidden.

    I have included a piece of cloth from his armor in this letter, just as you had requested. I have most of his other personal items, including an undelivered letter written by him to Seven. Inform me if you require any further objects.

    I shall remain here until you beckon me again. This has all come to pass just as you have forseen, Mighty One. Praise be to you, upon the altar of blood.

    • Ar'ha'ris' shak dir'h ma

  • Narfell PG

    ((OOC - Okay, now we can officially be afraid. ph34r Devon ))

  • - Foresight

    They met in the grove of old growth trees just as the voice had told them. The three travelers stood in the midst of the towering, moss-covered trunks, staring with sightless eyes into the seething darkness beyond the grove's boundaries. They stood for long moments, silent and motionless, until a figure stepped out of the shadows.

    The man was dresses in thick, crimson robes, with a deep cowl that hung over his head that could not be seen within its depths. He walked among the three, eyeing each one as he passed in front of them, as a general would his soldiers.

    "Simply marvelous," he said with a quick, cold laugh, "Everything is as I have foreseen."

    He reached out and brushed the back of his black, doeskin-gloved hand against Seven's pale cheek. She continued staring into the darkness.

    "You, my love, will be commanding my Minotaurs. Yes, indeed. You have battle prowess and a steel, militaristic will," he hissed with great pleasure.

    She turned her cold, sightless eyes to meet his beneath the cowl and nodded slowly.

    "Come now," he said, "give my that lovely smile you have."

    She smiled as brightly as she had done to so many others on her travels. Devon laughed loudly, enjoying the strings he pulled on his newest marionette.

    "You will be most pleased that I have decided to rid this world of your newest pet, the failed assassin Jubei. He knows too much and is worth too little."

    He turned to Jade, looking into her now-gray eyes, nudging her head upward with his index finger beneath her chin to meet his stare.

    "Yes. Jade will extract my revenge. Ironic, is it not?" he said to himself, knowing that they could not respond in their catatonic state. "Indeed, it is far too ironic."

    He laughed again, and then continued speaking to Jade, "You will be my personal guard. No one will survive the pain you will deliver to my enemies."

    He walked on, coming to the last figure. He stared into the eyes of Steele as he stood resolute and motionless before Devon.

    "Your father will be quite displeased when he finds out that the commander of my undead army is led by his son, the soulless puppet Paladin of my design. I wonder what he must be thinking now?" Devon cackled wildly, picturing Steele's father falling dead before his feet…with Steele's greatsword impaled in his gut.

    "Seven and Steele can come with me. You, Jade, have unfinished business to attend to. Go to it." He waved his hand uncaringly toward Jade, who turned and stalked out of the grove, heading back toward Norwick.

    Seven and Steele strode forward, past Devon and out of the grove where they met a massive, red dragon who would take them back to Devon's keep. Devon stood for long moments in the grove, watching as the dragon flew out of the forest and headed south.

    " is all as I have forseen."

  • Reviewed. XP Pending.

  • - All in vain

    The man sat on the edge of the cliff, staring out across the infinitely deep chasm that stretched beyond his vision, obscured by the thick, crimson fog that bathed the landscape like a blanket of blood.

    There were many unseen creatures howling and bellowing in the night air, as well as the ever-present and undecipherable whispering voices of The Many…but this bothered him not. He had heard their cries and whispers for far too long for it to concern him now. No, they were even comforting at times, because it let him know he was home.

    Today, however, he was not comforted. He was angered. The master who held his soul in check and controlled him like a marionette upon the stages of so many others' lives had once again wreaked havoc upon the lives of people he cared about.

    True, he had only known them for a few hours, but they were the only people he really knew outside of the prison he now wandered...the only people he trusted and had hope in. He closed his cobalt-blue eyes, squeezing a tear that slid down his cheek, clung to his chin for a moment, and then dropped to oblivion down the side of the cliff.

    He concentrated, trying to clear his thoughts of hatred and anger that filled his mind. As he calmed himself, the myriad of swirling emotions began solidifying, changing shape and color in his vision, even though his eyes remained closed. As they began morphing and transforming, he heart rate slowed, the throbbing of his temples began to wane, and a peace came over him like a fresh, stark white sheet that caressed his skin and cooled his temper.

    The shapes without form or purpose began coalescing, conforming into the one thing he has clung onto ever since he came to this realm so many years ago. Jade. Her beautiful face was clear in his vision now, the clarity so true and detail so exquisite that he reached out as if he could touch her cheek.

    Her elven ears, her long and flowing raven hair, her stunning emerald eyes, fine cheekbones and well defined, tempting lips hovered before him. He began to weep, knowing that if he opened his eyes, she would once again fade from his vision and he would be left alone in the crimson hell.

    " love..." he cried brokenly, his throat rough and dry.

    He wept loudly now; his breath came in uncontrollable rasps of sorrow. He cried out her name over and over, screaming it across the chasm. He heard the echoes call back hollow and emotionless, frustrating him further. He tore at his robes and clawed at his hair, crying violently...he wanted her so badly, to once again hold her in his arms, to caress her, to lavish the love upon her he has been holding all the years they have been parted.

    "All in vain..." he murmured, barely above a strained whisper.

    He finally collapsed from exhaustion, falling back against the cold, uncaring stone that he sat upon. He curled up in the fetal position, whimpering as a small child would, clawing at a tuft of grass that protruded from a crack in the surface of the stone. He repeated the lonely words that have become his anthem, over and over and over again, until he fell asleep from the pitiful, intolerable weeping.

    "...all in vain...all in vain..."