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(AQ) War of the Words

 
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7/9/2008 15:27:41   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


What follows was my first ever AQ related Serial Fiction from which all of the others developed. I wish to thank Raine a friend from other locales for encouraging me to find and restore this. I have edited and cleaned up this story for consistency and internal facts. In the original the name of the nation of Deren morphed between Deril Derin and finally Deren among other odd internal quirks. This story is still not as polished as some of the latters but I am fond of it regardless because of its transformations including the started transformation of a main antagonist to a protagonist that by the end of Manifestation is entering the underworld to fight the uncreator himself.






< Message edited by Falerin -- 7/9/2008 15:27:41 >
Post #: 1
3/13/2006 4:56:52   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter One

The Knights of Deren came to the shores of the new land. Delnar the leader of the knights surveyed the shore considerately.

"Lord Delnar?" The speaker was Cerin an eager but somewhat foppish young Knight. Delnar liked him but he wondered how he ever was accepted into the forces of Deren, undoubtedly the fact that his uncle was King Draynor's archwizard had something to do with it. Viziers had a tendency to have influence over their monarchs.

"Yes Cerin?"

"Lord Delnar we are ready to land"

"Very well, spread the word that the Knights are to prepare to disembark immediately."

'It won't be long now' Delnar thought sadly he knew knights would die in this war. War meant death and casualties were unavoidable. When they aspired to knighthood they were aware of the risks involved. Still as the First Knight of the Order Delnar keenly felt the loss of every life, especially those under his command. He comforted himself with the thought that they would be on the next leg of the adventure now, the new life. The forces they faced were veterans and their numerous conquests attested to this fact.

While King Draynor and the Frogzard Knights had brought peace and stability to Deren and the King was beloved by the people this war was unavoidable the advancing army was bent on conquest they had already taken out Deren's allies in Neld. Neld were a warlike conquering people their capture was a bloody affair. Draynor himself had often wondered if the allies would eventually war among themselves but never the less his bond stood the conquerors had attacked and he was bound by honor to act.

Cerin showed some of the traits that led his uncle to be Draynorís Vizier, keen insight and an almost telepathic sense of the thoughts of Delnar.

"People will die. We have lived in quiet safety for a long time, but the time was bound to come. We remained prepared. The knights are fit. We fight along with the best. The king has sent his Frogzard Knights as well and the Society of Thought has sent representatives from all the schools including Trailin I am told"

"Trailin? Are you sure Cerin? Trailin himself comes to the front?"

"Yes my lord, remember my uncle is the chief Vizier, I heard that Tralin has come because he takes this very seriously"

Tralin was something of a wonder in the school of thought, a generalist of the highest caliber, his specialty lay in heretofore unique and fascinating combinations of spheres. Tralin was said to be able to even combine elements that normally opposed in his complex magical rituals.

"I once saw him demonstrate some of his more unusual talents for Draynor's court" Cerin said thoughtfully "It was something he produced a flame that burned bright as the sun consuming all of the timber it was fed completely but the room grew ice cold. The wine in people were normally water mages, having aligned the goblets of those close to the fire froze solid. He was said to be doing research into combination of Dark and Light."

"Really?" The First Knight asked with no small amount of awe how could one combine such different forces.

"Of course his interest was of concern to the temple he was working on it for them. Fanatically devoted and absolutely benevolent temple warriors that would protect the temples sanctity. Skeletal Wizards that served the light through it's reflection"

"Benevolent Undead?"

"Yes my Lord and apparently his argument and his evidence was persuasive enough that not a single priest voiced reservation, as several are very accomplished wizards it must have meant he was capable of doing what he said"

"Indeed" The Knight considered this if Tralin was on the front this meant two things. The first that their chances were far better than without him. The second that the forces they were about to face were evenly matched indeed and they needed all the help they could get. Tralin rarely left the tower at the university. He was an oddity, Tralin's was a Drakel and his particular themselves with the water lord. Not only had Tralin followed turned on his families tradition, he had been a kind and helpful servant of the human king for a very long time. Tralin had been instrumental in implementing some of the reforms that helped most the poor and the downtrodden. He was the first, but through his own efforts not the last nonhuman member of the royal court. Rumor had it that the Drakel was being considered for Dukedom. The Drakel remained a mystery but Tralin was trusted implicitly.

"You know Tralin went against his family to serve the king but in a way he was more consistent with his people. His families service to a water lord is against Drakel tradition" Cerin said this absently, once again uncannily echoing Delnar's thoughts.

"Really?" Delnar resolved himself and after a moment of silence spoke "Well nothing for it Cerin send the command"

"Yes My Lord"

...

Darin looked at the approaching ships in the distance he could not understand why the vote opposed taking the fight to the beach picking them off as they tried to land. It would have been so much less messy then giving them a chance to order themselves on shore.

"They come." Darin said simply

"Of course they do, the fools. They remain loyal to their allies in spite of the fact that the two people have nothing in common. There is little question that if it happened the other way the people here would never have come to their aid"

"Why does the despot come? What does he hope to accomplish?" Darin asked,

"To continue his tyranny and his oppression of the people. He denies them popular rule. He is a dictator and a tyrant. We represent a threat to him. The rule of the people is something he can never face but we must advance. Gone is the time where people can be trodden under the feet of the few. It is our destiny to spread the enlightenment to people everywhere. Remember I am old enough to have been there at the start. I was under the oppressive leadership of a dictator who denied the popular will. There can be no question what we must do... We cannot let men women and children be slain by vindictive leaders any longer.

"Yes lord but you know many support us for other reasons. They see us as being unchecked. They have the power to help make the laws so they will in turn create a social order in their favor through wealth and influence."

"Of course but there are more then one... There will always be checks and those who act unjustly shall return their next life at the lowest end of the society, or even better as the very tyrants we will crush completely. This world will be free... completely."

Darin snorted. He felt for the cause but he knew even after the war was one new wars would start. This was about ideologies. It was never that simple. Men like Feldar here could not see that. Nor could they see the possibilities. Darin on the other hand could see the possibilities and he was not about to be deterred by some remnant of oppression this silly superstition about the next life being torment for those who did harm here.

'I will just have to be sure never to die' He thought coldly. 'The people will rule indeed...."


< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:03:16 >
Post #: 2
3/13/2006 4:57:38   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Two

As the last of the Knights disembarked Delnar subconsciously let his mind drift back to his earlier conversation with Cerin. Was Tralin really coming to the front. Delnar could not make up his mind if this boded good or ill for his own troops. If the enemy was worthy of Tralin's time and skill there could be little doubt Delnar's knights would be hard pressed to deal with them alone. Still Tralin was an asset and the Frogzard knights would be too. Tralin, what a mystery the Drakel was. His family had been water casters for generations or so it was rumored, yet Tralin sided with no element instead working to bring opposing elements together in different ways. Cerin said that Drakel lore forbade elemental affinity. If that was true than Tralin's actions would seem more like the Drakel norm.

Would the Drakel approve of Tralin's service to King Draynor however? They surely must know about it.

"Cerin" Delnar said inquisitively "What do your ears at the palace say about Tralin's links to his own people?"

"Nothing" Cerin said simply "They know something I am sure by the way the hedge around the issue, but even my uncle is tightlipped on the matter. What I can say is whatever the Drakel might have in mind and however Tralin might be involved Draynor and my uncle trust him with their lifes. So do the temple priests. What it was that Tralin revealed and how he proved it is a matter of great speculation in the capitol but no one knows but Tralin and the court and neither are speaking about it."

"Hmm" Delnar said uneasily "What about you. Do you trust Tralin and the Drakel"

"I cannot speak to the Drakel. I cannot even be certain that the Drakel as a group have anything to do with the issue. Tralin however I trust. I have reason to."

"Oh?" Delnar asked his curiosity peaked

"Yes Lord. Tralin saved my life"

"Did he?"

"I was about ten at the time and I was playing in the abandoned stone mines when I woke an entire family of stone golems, Tralin heard my cry for help and interspersed himself between the golems and me. He could have been killed but he dealt with it calmly. I believe he talked them down somehow. He told me latter he sold them a secret about water magic, which apparently was valuable to them."

"They do not care for water much as I recall"

"No. Not in general."

"Don't Stone Golem's serve the earth lord?"

"Thatís what the temple teaches sir"

"Interesting so he went against his family even more by helping you"

"I suppose thatís true sir, The men are disembarked sir its time to make camp."

"Very Well Cerin, Give the order" Tralin was a curious fellow. Could he really seek to be that general a mage? Did his religious beliefs recognize the whole spectrum of deities? Like those monks who rather then becoming priests and serving one part of the temple or the other worked as intermediaries among them? What did the Drakel think of this, particularly Tralin's relations. It was almost impossible to speculate but it set Delnar thinking.


< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:02:40 >
Post #: 3
3/13/2006 4:59:21   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Three

Darin entered the inn with a smile, events were falling very much into his plan. Very shortly he would be in a position of great influence among the people and free to persue his own interests without hinderance. He approached the dark table with a smile.

The figure shifted in the darkness his eyes barely visible beneath the hood of his long black robes.

"Good evening Master Darin" The strangers voice was low and very soft. "I am still uncomfortable with your plan. If it fails the people will turn on you and your supporters completely. Are you certain that it is the best course? Many of our people will die."

"Casualties of War" Darin said dismissively "The rewards are sufficient enough to justify the loss, as deeply tramatic as it will be for me. I always hate to see innocent life wasted."

"Yes. Of course you do" The Strangers voice was carefuly modulated to show litte emotion but Darin was sure sarcasm hid beneath the surface.

'So he sees my motives more clearly.' he thought coldly 'All the better I read him very well we know exactly where each other stands in our little game'

"We must act quickly. I am afraid I have some very disconcerting news from our agents in Deren " The Shadowed figure said quickly his voice betraying emotion for the first time and it's tenor chilled Darin involuntarily.

"What is it?"

"Draynor is sending that Drakel to the front"

"Tralin? The king of Deren is entrusting his front line to a subhuman renegade? All the better. You and I both know that a Drakel can not even begin to offer our wizards a challenge."

"But Darin haven't you seen the reports. Tralin is a very powerful mage. He is also greatly respected in Draynor's court and among the people. Draynor is in the process of making him a noble."

"Drakel Nobility" Darin spit pure venom "This is exactly why we must succeed. AImagine a lower life form reigning over us like he.."

"Darin remember most people do not share your ideas on purity and racial division, the races live in peace."

"The worthy races. The Drakel are monsters that accost in the wilderness they are Lesser beings"

"Ah" The stranger shifted uncomfortably he did not believe Darin actually felt that way. The Drakel lived in impenetrable cities. If he had some plan to sow racial discord it had other roots and he was begining to believe Darin's other interests could not be positive.

"Never mind it" Darin smiled sweetly "Let the Drakel come to the front. We do not need racial discord, merely the distrust born of secrets and mystery."

"Hmm?"

"Send word to our servants in Deren near the school of thought, Have them spread rumors that Draynor has plans to make the Mages rule over the people and he intends to put Tralin in charge so the peoples do not realize his plan. In other circles spread the rumor that though Tralin has been kind and helpful he has been secretly trading information to the Drakel for their plans to take over."

"Lord few people will believe such stories"

"Belief is irrelevant. Seeds will be planted and when Draynor makes his announcement some will sprout. When Tralin cannot defend himself because he is on front lines they will take root. Afterward we just suggest every local problem has some root in the Drakel plot or the plot of the School of Thought"

"Most ingenious my lord" Another word came to mind. 'evil'

The stranger, whose name was Jano shivered in spite of the warmth of his robe and the fire. While Darin had once been Jano's close friend he no longer had any illusions about his nature. Darin was clearly ingenious and he was also very clearly the most evil man he had ever known and now Jano was very much tied up in his machinations.

< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:02:20 >
Post #: 4
3/13/2006 5:00:36   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Four

Darin sauntered through the streets toward the central market with a feeling of satisfaction. Things were going more smoothly they he could have ever imagined. Tralin was coming to the front. The Drakel would not need to be coaxed out of hiding afterall.

Elemental neutrality, such heresy had been attempted before. Of course strictly speaking Darin's own nation owed no elemental lord allegiance. Like the monks that served as temple immediaries, like the preists, like Tralin, the nation of Vandar was based on independence, the will of the people, subservience to an elemental lord would be trading a worldly tyrant for a spiritual one.

Darin slipped into the temple remaining in shadows and approaching the alter. He moved past the common area which served all of the elemental lords and into the depths of the temple proper. Sliding behind the altar, into a series of secret passages into the deepest secrets lost to even the most devoted preists of the temple. Into a sanctum some secret that only the most devoted even suspected it might exist no less knew of its presence.

Darin sat in a chair and smiled. A primal voice sinsiter and cold filled the room. "Darin my child you seem most pleased"

"I am Lord. Our plans are coming to fruit. Tralin comes to the front line, his treachery shall;be bepaid in spades..."

"It was not precisely treachery Child, I never held Tralin in thrall as I did his parents...."

"It does not matter he will pay. He MUST pay."

"Such fire... one might mistake you for a servant of the wrong element."

"Never sir. I am faithful to one element alone... The water is the life." Darin laughed 'And the death.... the floods of time shall drown you Tralin and all who preach such blasphemy.'


< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:03:39 >
Post #: 5
3/13/2006 5:01:19   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Five

Tralin looked at King Draynor. Though the king knew he was ill at ease, he betrayed no emotion, he rarely did. The king often wondered if his apparent stoicism was a trait of all Drakel or something specific to his own dear friend. Over the years Draynor had managed to detect the slightest signs that indicated Tralin's moods, but he was no closer to understanding them. He understood Drakel culture more then any living human being but was no more aware of it than average human was of the inner politics of temple life among the deities.

"My opinion of the issue is irrelevant, your majesty. The choice is yours not mine."

"Don't be foolish or stuborn Tralin" The king sighed deeply "Of course your opinion matters. The promotion to nobility affects you directly"

"I do not desire power of that sort your majesty, nor will I refuse it if it is given. My interest is, as always, in knowledge and for the well being of all people."

"That my friend is precisely why you are so fit for the Job. You have openly expressed your disinterest in politics since you came to my court. If you were interested I would be far less inclined to promote you. Yet I sense more then casual disinterest Tralin, you are troubled by the prospect, why?"

"My lord I will do as you wish in this matter"

"Tralin you clearly have reservations, Share them!" Draynor's tone hardened slightly suggesting this was not a request but a royal directive.

"My Lord I remain Loyal to you but I question the wisdom in my appointment"

"Whyever is that?"

"I question that I will be excepted as nobility by the people as much as your will resepcted by them. Are they ready to be governed by someone from a race that remains an enigma to them. The Drakel and Human Kind are not interactive. Many would be justified if they distrusted me."

"Tralin you are well loved in the kingdom..."

"That may be so your highness, but nonetheless I am Drakel"

"Such concern is unmerited" Draynor waved his hand dismissively "Not one noble I asked had the slightest reservation in recommending you as the perfect choice for this appointment. Word has long since leaked from my court that you were the strongest contender for the Job. Van Nyes the closest contender told me point blank he would refuse any such appointment if it circumvented you. The people have already declared you nobility. This is merely a formality..."

"As you wish it your Majesty it will be done. Only remain alert I pray you"

"I tell you the concern is unmerited but I will remain vigilant for unease and disease in my kingdom as you will as well I am sure. This must be done. Since you have decided you wish to go to the
front I want you in a position of military control that only your title or
rising through the ranks directly will give. I do not see you as
a Drakel Warrior so the later is not an option."

"Yes my Lord"

"Very well so be it then. Tommorow evening I will knight you and bring you into the family of nobility" Draynor smiled for he planned to do something which went beyond this. Having no children of his own he planned to adopt tralin as Prince Regent but he did had not voiced this to any but a select few... He did not want it leaking that
Tralin was the heir apparent before the coronation.

< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:04:09 >
Post #: 6
3/13/2006 5:06:41   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Six

Jano moved through the alleyways of the capitol with quiet stealth. What he had learned from the upper echelons of Draynors court ringing in his mind.

Jano murmured under his breath "My God what a mess this will be... Darin's plot will lead to civil war if it succeeds in light of this new information. What am I going to do? I know what Darin will say, let them tear each other apart all the easier to clean up the peices."

What a bloody mess, Jano joined Darin because he believed in peace and self-government over oppression, goals of benevolence, but Darin had lost all sense of benevolence. His one sided obsession with power was well hidden from the people but those who had become close to him learned his true character and came to fear him completely.

Some dread power filled Darin something malevolent and living. It was almost as if the power itself had a sentience born of malevolence.

"I have to stop this. Many innocent men women and children will die for his ambition, this is not what I signed up for not at all. Who can I tell? What can I do? If I reveal myself as a spy I will be surely killed. If I go to Darin's superirors I am as likely to be treated as a traitor as a hero."

Jano abruptly dived into shadows as a courier appeared at the entrance of the alleyway and headed in the direction of the Castle. Jano panted heavily he had been speaking aloud he was not only nearly seen he nearly gave an incrminating confession to a total stranger. Then it came to him enlightening him like a bolt of lightning enlightening the heavens. "I need to go to someone who can protect me from Darin and Draynor. "

With that Jano quickly turned and back in the direction of the School of Thought. While in the depths of the shadows a figure watched and let out a low dark chuckle that had Jano heard it would have turned his blood to ice, possibly quite literally.
Post #: 7
3/13/2006 5:07:11   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Sevem

Jano fled through the streets like a man pursued, which in fact he was, though he was unaware of the fact. Moving with purpose past the central market and giving wide berth to the Temple square, he continued without looking where he was going, nor paying attention to the area behind him from whence he came.

With a sense of deliberate purpose he continued quickly to the city gates. Glancing about breifly he moved delberately into the farm land outside of the city proper. With renewed determination he followed the fork in the road that lead to the School of Thought where he planned to seek out Tralin himself, and reveal Darin's evil machinations.

He came to the grounds of the school and paused to catch his breath. It was this pause that would prove his undoing. For in the breif moments it took him to recover himself the skulking figure following dilligently in the shadows was able to overtake him silently. In range the figure gathered energy to himself and muttered some qords of power and gestured with meaning. With that the force of his ancient incantation was unleashed. The power of the incantation would leave the caster weakened for days.

Jano's first awareness that anything was amiss was the coldness in his extremities. He rubbed his hands together to attempt to warm them, but the coldness spread in spite of the warmth of the night. Then Jano felt a cold unlike any he had ever known.

Jano had heard scholars describe things in terms of absences. Evil was the absence of good. Cold was an absence of heat. For any cold Jano had before experienced such an explanation was sufficient but this cold was different. Far from being a relative lack of heat his being was suffused with antiheat. Far from numbing this cold produced experiences and sensations for which human experience had no words. A cold so real and complete that he emenated chill that dropped the temperature in his surrounding environment by nearly twenty degrees within a minute. Hypothermia shut down his proceses as the cold froze Jano from the inside out.

The figure in the shadows smiled. "Our arrangement remains upheld." Voices could be heard within the schools garden and with a gesture the figure vanished to regain the energy used in trailing and trapping the treacherous spy.


< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:08:19 >
Post #: 8
3/13/2006 5:07:53   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Seven

Delnar walked to the command tent with grim purpose the battle
was not going well at all.

"Casualty Report" he barked a bit harshly, the senseless ness of the battle was gettig to him. He was a warrior by trade, First knight of Deren but the slaughter was wearing his resolve. Worse no resolution was anywhere in cite"

"Losses today are about equal on both sides commander" It was Cerin that spoke even his energy and spirits seemed to be waning " 1200 Derenians and 1930 of the enemy fallen"

It was always "the enemy" now never spoke of by name. Early on their name had seemed powerful, given them a sinister air, moreso then just the word enemy. The name had lost it's magic. Now a name identified them as people and thinking of them as persons with lives and familiies, ambitions and desires, only made it harder. Knowing that most of the enemy soldiers were young idealists following orders and not fanatical zealots bent on destruction made it worse. So they were dehumanized, not named., not people. just the enemy, without even the emphasis that capitalization would give them.

The war itself becoming near impossible to bear. There was no reason in it only death. Delnar had tried only once to parley with the enemy. What resulted was asmashing disaster that nearly cost him his life.

The young soldier who had shown him in was a pleasant sort. He seemed generally kind and even concerned about the knights welfare. This made what happened worse, though Delnar knew in time this knight would only have died for his cause or become as fanatical as his commander.

"Well Tyrant!? Have you come to surrender?" The man barked coldly

"What?" Delnar was taken aback "Of course not. I came to parley in hopes of truce"

"NEVER!" The man roared angrilly "There can be no resolution save your total surrender or total anihilation. If you surrender of course the tyrants and the knights who serve as their insturments of opression shall be tried and imprisoned or kiled for their crimes against civility"

"You hypocritical bastard" Delnar stormed his anger overriding both his reason and his code of ethics. "You prattle on about the peoples right to rule themselves yet you deny them that very right. To choose their own form of governance."

"No unoppresed person would choose tyranny and no individual chooses to be opressed!"

"Indeed NOT! None! Including myself" Delnar was beside himself " You simpleton, the people of Deren love Draynor he is a wise and benevolent leader who brought peace to . . ."

"DO NOT MENTION his name! He is a petty tyrant who is loved in word due to his reign of opression and fear. He brought this battle to our shores..."

"These shores, belong to the people of Neld our allies!"

"There are no people of Neld. There is no longer any nation of Neld. There is only the Vandarian province of Neld and its people are citizens of Vandar! This tyranny has been overcome as yours too shall be, and as the people of neld called for the death of their tyrants when their freedom was at hand, so shall the Derenians call for your death. Well not yours, you alas shall not live to that day. Guards arrest this this subversive he shall be put to death at dawn as a symbol to his people to take heart, tyranny will not go unavenged!"

"But sir?" The young man who showed him in protested "He came under a flag of truce..."

"The flag is a deception, a trick, the man is a spy and he will die."

The man looked dejected as he arrested Delnar, but later arranged for Delnar's escape. An act of kindness and of honor. The man died for his courage, several days later his head arrived by courier as a token of the commanders esteem. The note read: Your spy has died in your stead tyrant. May you bear the guilt!

Delnar did bear the guilt, it still sickened him, but it also strengthened his resolve slightly when all other forces served only to tear it down. The man was not a spy of course, he had never seen Deren in peace or in war, and now of course he never would.

"Press on then" Delnar said to Cerin at long last "Press on..."

< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:10:14 >
Post #: 9
3/13/2006 5:11:12   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Eight

"Young Randall found him Your Highness, he is Sir Derrik's squire. Right near the gate to the school of thought. We thought to inform Lord Tralin but the Magi said he was here sir so we came to you, begging your pardon."

The king looked at the Captain of the city guard with kindness mixed with severity. "That man was no citizen of Deren? You are certain?"

"Postive sir. He was dressed right to be sure but his eyes sir. His eyes were that odd shade of violet not found nowhere arround Deren or even in Neld"

"An enemy agent in the capitol?"

"Thats what I'm afearing sir" The captain said "A spy most likely"

"So this war has reached Deren itself. If they have spys..." Draynor did not voice the obvious. If spys where here assassins could readily be smuggled in, many spys dealt in both trades.

"Who killed him though" Draynor added " What Killed him?"

"Begging your pardon your majesty but the man is not dead."

"What? I saw the body it was cyanotic"

"My lord a spell nearly killed him. Froze him from the inside out but the mages and healers tell me he still has some life in him. He might die still. Which was all the more reason for me to take this to you directly My lord wha should we be doing about him?"

"Have the Mages and Healers treat him and attempt to revive him at once! Keep me informed"

The captain nodded and reatreated "As you command my lord"

Draynor turned to his scribe, I fear we must get Tralin from his preperation. I know he is readying to go to Neld but this can change everything. He may be needed."

"Your will my king"

Draynor was aflutter who was this man and what did his presence fortell.
Post #: 10
3/13/2006 5:13:20   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Nine

"Dead?" Darin asked his ill humor barely controlled. "How could this be?"

"We are certain?" The shadowed figured whispered with authority "As to the how. We killed him ourself"

"You killed Jano? You Fool! Why?"

"We found him going to the guild of mages and overheard him planning to reveal your identify and the nature of your plans for Deren. We could not allow him to be seen or heard. He would have ruined everything"

"You insolent fool! Why was I uninformed of his treachery? This decision should have been mine and mine alone. He was my agent!"

"Had we taken the time to dispatch message to you he would have succeeded in his devices. Besides the order for his destruction comes from a higher authority"

"There is NO higher authority. I am in charge of this mission!"

"Oh but there is a higher authority" The shadowed figure stated with grim finality "As you well know. The order was recieved and we acted with faith"

"Faith?" Darin grew cold "You mean...?"

"I do." The figure said "If you have issue with the edict I suggest you take it up with him. I understand he is MOST understanding about people questioning his decisions and commands."

"I..." Darin stammered "If it is the Water Lords will that Jano die then Jano should die."

"We thought you might see it that way" The shadowed figure stood and slinked out of the inn. Darin was completely unnerved. He was a chief agent of the water lord. Why should he be left in the dark if one of his own were being marked for death? Suddenly Deren seemed sweltering and Darin longed to return to Neld and the battle ensuing there. The plans here were layed, no reason to remain.
Post #: 11
3/13/2006 5:14:14   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Ten

"Your highness" Tralin said plainly "If this man is an indication that the enemy has a presence in Deren I cannot afford to go now to the front lines, it would be leaving us open to attack from within. We know from their dealings with Neld that the enemy has an uncanny ability to strike where it is unexpected."

"I cannot make your decision for you Tralin but Delnar and the knights need your help. What's more the Frogzard knights wont answer to him as he is not nobility"

"Let me see the stranger. Perhaps I can awaken him and learn what he has to say. From there we can decide. Neither path feels entirely comfortable."

"They rarely do I fear" Draynor sighed.

"Well then..."

< Message edited by falerin -- 3/13/2006 5:15:30 >
Post #: 12
3/13/2006 5:15:15   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Eleven

The sound began in the dead of night a keening wail that filled the watch with dread. Seeming to come from all directions at once the guards sought to pinpoint it with speed. They searched for 30 minutes before waking Delnar. The noise continued but no source could be found.

...

When the sound came Darin was fast asleep but the unearthly aspect of the howl brought him awake instantly. His ship was still a quarter of a day from shore at least and though Darin peered out into the night he could find no discernable source for the sound, no origin whatsoever.

In Darin's service to the Lord of the Waters he had heard and seen many things. Some great and some terrible, but he could not place this sound at all. He could not imagine what magic, device, or creature could be creating such a soul wrenching cacophony.

Darin was used to being in the know, his quest for knowledge and power had come about in large part because his fear of not knowing and of not being in control. It had been years since he felt as helpless as he did on that ship.

...

Delnar listened to the keening howl with a mixure of dread and fascination. There was something simulaneously fascinating and blood curdling about the noise, something that spoke to forbidden recesses of his mind about forbidden thoughts and pleasures.

"Such Music" said one of the Day watch who had been awakened by the search "Such lovely music."

"Music?" Delnar asked with doubt "Is that what you think it is..."

"Yes sir can't you feel it. Can't you hear it..."

As Delnar listened closely to the noise that seemed to emenate from eveywhere he began to detect a discernable pattern in the sounds. Some otherworldy score being played by instruments that had never seen the light of day. Music...

...

Darin noted the sailors were not reacting to the sound at all but hurriedly going about his buisness this comforted and scared him.

"What is that Noise" he asked a midshipman who rushed past him on his way to fulfil some unknown errand.

"Its the Siren's call sir... you best not be listening to it either. The siren leads the unwary to their death..."

"The Siren..?" Darin was dumbfounded he did not believe for a second that the noise he heard came from some merwoman out of the Sailor's legend. He knew more of the deeps denizens then nearly any living sould and he had never found Merfolk that would waste their valuable time leading ships to their doom for no apparent reason.

Though as Darin listened he had to admit that the haunting noise did resemble a melody, nay a full song with harmony as well. A song like none he had ever heard but a song none the less. It certainly did not sound like the singing voice of a beautiful woman though. It did not involve singing at all so far as Darin could discern. No Darin decided the music was instrumental, though he could hardly imagine what instrument might produce such chilling and haunting strains. The sound seemed to come from the sky, from the water, from the boat itself. It was all encompassing and at length Darin too learned to drown out the noise. It was music, loud music, frightening to those unexpecting it, but just music...

...

The Music did not cease untill the suns first rays flooded through the mess camp. Though no source could be found Delnar had doubled the watch and had parties continuing to seek the source of the uneartly sounds. In the end Delnar had searched himself, but like his men he could find nothing so he remained awake. pensive and on edge.

It was a full hour after sunset that the first sign of anything being amissed was brought to Delnar's attention a line scout had advanced to the front and what he had seen had frozen his blood. Death everywhere. During the dark of night it appeared as if the Vandarian army had planned a suprise raid but something powerful had met them and decimated them though the scout searched for signs of life not one living soul was found at the front line. Just corpses horribly mangled and mutilated by some unknown evil darkness. Even with the massive carnage it could not begin to account for the totality of the Vandarian army but no signs of them could be detected just the dead.

It was a second scout that brought the most disturbing news of all , news that could not be placed. The carnage that remained consisted of many body pieces but not one corpse was a remotely full body. Not one corpse was intact or could even be peiced together from the body parts that lay arround it.

"What evil is this?" Delnar asked no one in particular. He did not recieve an answer. There were none to give.

...

Darin knew that something was horribly wrong even before his ship docked at port. The bustle of the port had ceased there was no evidence of any traffick among the fishermen and the escort he had been promised was not present. As the ship dropped anchor Darin became even more aware of the village's horrid stillness. There were no signs of life, no people, none of the cats and dogs that ordinarily frequented the wharf, indeed none of the sea birds that were ones constant companions on the quay. The city was silent and empty. As Darin disembarked he became quickly aware that this was not an illusion. No signs of life could be detected up and down the wharf. The buisnesses that dotted the water front remained shut. No signs of smoke poured from household chimneys to suggest the preparation of morning meal. Not a single soul wandered the streets. Darin could see along the central way that the Market Square too was completely devoid of life. The booths that were long since open and a few less reputable ones that never closed, were all silent.

Darin sped down the road past the market onto temple way. Temple square too was empty he came to the door to the great temple of the powers and to his dismay found that the temple itself was devoid of any sign of life. It was then that Darin became aware of the smell of blood and decay that filled his nostrils, Darin entered the cenral narthex and looked into the Naves to each of the pantheons powers.

A great violence had happned on these grounds an unholy desecration. The remains of severed body parts littered several of the temples and their artifacts and worship spaces were torn asunder.

The temple to the Water god was no exception to the slaughter and the death. Indeed as Darin searched the temple he found just two untouched by the hand of destruction, though having never attended a service in the stark spaces he could not swear that their desolation was not the result of someone stealing the temple treasures. The temple to the Dark Lord was free of body parts and other signs of destruction though the smell of decay lay heavy in the air. At the very opposite end the temple to the Power of light lay sealed and untouched. Darin tried the door to the Nave but it would not budge. Something sinister had happened here and it chilled him. With widening alarm Darin picked his way through the mess in the worship space for the Water lord, the most popular and most lavishly decorated temple in the port town, and pastt the alter began his descent into the holy of holies within. He was brought up short. Not only was the door to this secret sanctuary ajar but Darin could hear whispers of voices within...
Post #: 13
3/13/2006 5:17:11   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter 12

Jano opened his eyes blearily. The daylight streaming through his window was harsh and the glare cause him to blink. He ached terribly to the very core of his being and he found himself extraordinarily confused. Where was he? How had he come to be here? What had happened to him?

Jano angled his head and caught the attention of a man in robes he took to be a physician.

"Sir?" The man called out into the hall "He is moving"

Jano was struck by the fact that the language used was that of the temples. Further he could place his elemental inflection as that of the Lord of Light.

'A priest' Jano reasured himself

"Where am I?" Jano asked but the figure did not respond.

Jano was alarmed by the figure that entered his room. A tall fellow, even for a Drakel, which, Jano recognized dimly, he was.

"You have awoken" The Drakel said, Jano was starled by the fact that the language was not that of Vandar but of Deren.

"Pardon?" he replied in the same tounge. This response caused no reaction that Jano could discern.

"Do you know where you are?" The Drakel asked, his language had shifted to that of the temple, Jano noted with surprise. He spoke it as fluently and fluidly as the preist had before him, but surely the man was no priest. Was he a devotee? An aligned servant prehaps?

'No' Jano decided his language bore no specific inflection but instead consisted of the unaccented sylables used by the monks and clerics that served no specific lord but rather the temple alone. Still the man was no cleric. His robes were entirely wrong, a casters robes. Clearly the man was a Drakel caster, yet he spoke the temple tounge, what could he possibly be doing in a patients room?

Jano feigned confusion briefly, an effort aided by his genuine bafflement over his circumstances.

"Delbek X'tchai" Jano said. It was a Drakel greeting that roughly translated meant my life is in your hands. Jano always found it to be a peculiar greeting, a strange way to express admiration for ones host. At the moment however the irony of its aptness appealed to him.

The Drakel showed suprise, which given his absolute stoicism a moment earlier was somewhat frightening. Jano had seen similar looks on the Drakel warriors he had had the misfortune to encoutner in the wilderness.

"X'tal rebek X'kali?" The Drakel Demanded and jano tried to peice it together, his friend Darin had taught him some of the Drakel tounge. Jano had never thought to wonder where Darin would have learned it or what purpose it would serve he merely went along with his friend. Still Jano's grasp was still rudimentary at best, conversational phrases to help one in everyday situations with the Drakel, not that Jano could concieve of an everyday situation involving them.

"I am sorry" Jano said in the language of Deren "I don't understand"

"I asked if you were a servant of the Water Lord" The Drakel stated his expression guarded.

"What?" Jano asked surprised "No of course not, I am just a spice trader from Delkirk"

The Drakel considered this "We do not see many from Vandar's capitol in the capitol of Deren"

"Aye but I have several trade contracts standing. What am I in the capitol then"

"Yes" the Drakel responded. Jano was relieved to find his voice had once again adopted a neutral tone "Indeed you are in the Castle of King Draynor to be precise"

"What? Why?" Jano asked and became even more confused. Why would they take a sick man or an injured man to the castle?

"Perhps because you are a Vandarian and were found near dead at the school of thought"

"I still do not understand? Why should my kingdom affect this? Are Vandarians denied trade in Deren? I have not had any troubles since Draynor signed the Accord of Linter with Neld three years ago."

The Drakels eyes widened very slightly suggesting suprise. "Sir the accord to which you refer was signed not 3 years ago but 7"

"What?" Jano searched for an explanation of this but could find none How had he gotten here? What was going on? Jano looked at the Drakel with renewd confusion. "Since when do Drakel serve Draynor"

"Do you not know who I am? " The Drakel returned, a question of his own?

"No? Should I?" Jano responded hesitantly.

"I am Tralin, Prince of Deren" The Drakel said emotionlessly

"What? Draynor made a Drakel his prince?"

"Yes" was the Drakel's response and then he left.
Post #: 14
3/13/2006 5:17:46   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Thirteen

"Your majesty. He he seems to have suffered considerable short and long term memory loss due to the shock his system recieced. The long term losses are likely reversible and in fact may unravel themselves given time, but the short term memory is less fixed and and may never return. He does not know there is a war with Vandar no less how it came to be he was injured outisde the School. I have spoken with him about half a dozen times since he awoke and though his presence here of late suggests he is either a spy or trying to hide as a refugee. It seems that he has known Deren for a long time. He is a spice trader, through inquiries i have been able to tack several of his contracts and with pressue was able to reveal that he managed to keep the flow of the precisious commodities open even with the harbor closed. Some reported that he often met with another man, on those occasions he was rarely seen to have goods. This suggests reason for concern. Yet his presence remains a mystery. At the moment to Jano as much as to us."

"We must do what ever is in our power to restore his memories Tralin." The king said "What he knows has to..."

Draynor stopped as he noticed a page waving frantically in the doorway. He was both slighly annoyed and considerably concerned that his request for private council with the prince was being violated.

"I beg your pardon my lord. Have me imprisoned if you disagree with my motives, but first hear me out."

"Go on"

"I bring an urgent message from Lord Delnar and the front line at Neld. Something terrible has happened..."
Post #: 15
3/13/2006 5:19:23   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Fourteen

Darin retreated quickly into an alcove and listened carefully to the voices within the chamber.

"He is not here " said a voice its tone low and raspy.

"Clearly. It appears that the commander of the guard spoke the truth before he met his end. Darin has gone to Deren"

"No matter he is inconsequential. Without access to this chamber he cannot communicate with the Water Lord. His plans have been disrupted..."

"What do you suppose the fool was planning..."

"Treachery. There can be no doubt. He brought this distruction on the armies. You were wise to have us watch him"

"Little good it has done... half the army lies in peices on the battle field and most of those who remain have joined the wandering hordes."

"Most unfortunate if Darin is discovered he will feel the pain of having brought us to this."

'Just what have I become their scapegoat for?' Darin wondered recalling the state of the city as a whole.

"Indeed if Darin is discovered he shall wish the undead had gotten to him..."

Darin turned rapidly and fled from the temple. 'Undead? What in the names of the gods had occured here? Could what was said about the front lines be true. How was he to blame for this?'

Darin's mind reeled. Something dark and sinister was at play and Darin was not in control of it. He was filled with dread, his own people had targeted him as the cause of this new plague for reasons entirely unclear his sacred space had been violated.

"Oh well." Darin reflected sadly "all things come to an end I planned on ending my alliance with Feldar sooner or later anyway"

Darin moved as fast as he could back to the docks. "The Entire city is dead. I found multiple signs of struggle but not one living being. Some great evil came here captain we must flee at once for it is likely to return."

"But sir? The men need rest we need to restock we cannot...""

Darin smelled sulfurous smoke in the distance and looked out toward the horizon and saw a deep black cloud billowing from the nearby mountain.

"Captain If the advancing undead armies do not kill you? Then I most certainly will. All aboard NOW. "

"Where do we sail for? Delkirk?"

"No Captain" Darin said matter of factly "on the contrary, we return to Deren"

< Message edited by Falerin -- 2/11/2010 4:12:32 >
Post #: 16
3/13/2006 5:19:58   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Fifteen

"We must withdraw from that front quickly. If some great meance slayed the Vandarian army logic suggests they might return and do the same to our own armies sire"

"Tralin lines of communication with the front are delayed by at least 3 days. We have no way of knowing if the same fate has already befallen our troops? What do you make of the eerie music Delnar reported?"

"It bodes ill. I have heard of such a thing but once it as then was a herald of death and worse."

"Speak on Tralin. You know something more?"

"Your highness you are aware that I study all of the spheres. It was in my research for the Temple that I encountered this tale"

"And.." Draynor was begining to become impatient with Tralin's reserved method of conveying information. "What was it?"

"My lord my work for the temple involved benevolent Undead. However one cannot study undead, with out learning something of the more prevalent variety of undeath."

"Tralin please just spit it out..."

"The legend spoke of a spell, a powerful one that took more then a month to cast. When completed it opened a gateway to another world. From this world armies of death poured in the likes of which the world had never seen and has not seen since. Harbringers of death those who fell at their hand joined the marauding army slaying all who opposed them. Fortunately for all concerned among the first to die at their hands was the abjurer who experimented with Travel to other realities and the portal slammed shut. The battle which ensued was terrible but in the end the people put the menace to rest. However if a servant of the Lord of Darkness who was bent on evil were to come to knowledge of this world of death he might be very tempted to use the abjuration in service to his master, to open a portal and bring the undead under his masters control. Vandar is known to posess those who..."

"Lord Draynor. There is someone who wishes to see you."

Draynor turned to his page in irritation "I have no time for this! My army is besieged by who knows what danger and my kingdom is potentially overrun with spys and assassins. Can I get no privacy while I consult with my councilors."

"Sir. I believe you shall wish to see this man..."

"What? Who in the outer worlds is it?"

"He would not say sir but he wears the colors of Vandar"

"Vandar? What in the worlds comes now... Show him..." Draynor was brought short by the fact that the man quite audaciously had pushed past his outer chamber and shown himself in.

"No need your Majesty" his voice dripped with sarcasm rather then respect "I showed myself in..."

"Who are you?" Draynor demanded impatiently "Speak now before I have you imprisoned as an agent of the enemy..."

"As well you might your Majesty" The man responded "As In fact I most assuredly am an agent of your enemy, were you to do so however you would not know what I have learned of the front line nor a way that you might get your men from there in saftey"

Tralin considered the man coldly "There are ways to gain the confessions of the detained"

The man turned to Tralin with a sneer of cold contempt "I am a member of the highest ranks of the Vandarian force. Don't believe for a moment that we have not been trained to resist even the most cruel and tyranical forms of torture" The man emphasised tyranical with apparent relish "Of course if you wish to prove our assertions right Drakel by all means attempt away..."

Tralin withdrew slightly and raised a hand but Draynor placed an hand on his arm.

"We wiil here you. Speak."

"First I require reassurance that regardless of your reaction to my news you will not do me harm. At the very least you will let me leave."

"You are in no position to make demands of our throne Vandarian"

"I beg to differ your highness..."

Draynor drew a short breath and turned to face the man. "Very well you have my word I shall do nothing to harm you. Now speak. Who are you and what news do you bare"

"My name" The man began "Is Darin..."
Post #: 17
3/13/2006 5:21:27   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Sixteen

"Darin?" Tralin said and looked to Draynor "A word your majesty."

"Excuse me" Draynor said, in spite of himself, and turned to face Tralin who gestured to take him aside. Tralin drew Draynor to the opposite end of the chamber before speaking quietly.

"Your majesty. Jano has mentioned a man named Darin on numerous occasions. I can not conceive of this being a coincidence. This must be the same man."

"Do you think he came to enquire after his spy?"

"Unlikely your majesty. Only the highest levels of palace society know that Jano survived his ordeal, no less that he is staying at the palace. He is generally believed to be dead. I made quite certain it remained that way, as you requested."

"Curious" Draynor said "Can we use this to our advantage?"

"I believe we can through him off guard at least" Tralin said "We may get more truthful information from him if we draw it out of him a bit."

"Very well Tralin. Do as you wish"

"Vandarian!" Tralin exclaimed "The kings surety of protection extends solely to those things of which you make us aware. Should we find you mislead or misdirect us. Or that you are involved in some treachery against our crown you shall find no safe harbor on any side of the ocean. Of course you are not a spy. You did not come to steal secrets or mislead us."

"I am suprised at you Drakel. Of course I AM a spy. How else would I get to and from Deren so easily? That has no bearing on my current buisiness. I have made myself known by doing so, and consequently made myself useless in that line of work forever."

"You are wise to choose candor vandarian" Tralin said.

"If you are spy with in my kingdom. Do you have agents within Deren still. If you wish our trust you will confide the truth..."

"What sell out my men for my own protection? What do you take me for? As it is I have no issue speaking of it because I have no one. The Crew that brought me here alone but they are just sailors and know nothing of espionage save maybe how to smuggle goods into a closed port."

"You've noone else?" Tralin demanded.

'What is he getting at' Darin wondered 'could someone else be spying in Deren from vandar?'

"I have noone..." Darin responded coldly "I have already told you this"

Tralin gestured casually to a page. "You made a critical mistake in lying to us Vandarian we already have flushed out your network of spies. Fetch room three for me page."

"Lord Prince" the page nodded and left.

"I tell you!" Darin stated with anger "I have NO other living agents in Deren or in Vandar. All who served me in that capacity have met their end"

"You are a liar" Draynor said simply and sadly

"I am not..."

"Darin!" A familliar voice called from the entry way. Its presence filled Darin with wonder and joy which quicklly gave way to a deep dread as he connected it to the Drakel's warning.

"Jano..." He said before he even turned to confirm the presence of his supposedly dead friend.
Post #: 18
3/13/2006 5:22:01   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Seventeen

"Darin what happened to you? You look old and weathered" Jano demanded after Darin had spent the better part of an hour revealing not only the events in Neld but his own plans for Deren. The plans for Neld were met with concern but Darin was disconcerted to see his own plot dismissed summarily.

"Your plan was foolish. While Tralin was concerned about his reception and kept up his guard. We
recieved nary a rumble." Draynor had responded "Too many people love and respect me and have come to care for Tralin as well. Race has nothing to do with the peoples respect Darin only equity."

"While I was thinking that for a dead man you looked remarkably fresh" Darin quipped returning his attention to the present. "So will I be tortured?"

"Tortured?" Jano asked "I don't think so, I don't remember being tortured though they assure me I most probably was your spy."

"Were my spy?" Darin asked "They assure you? Have you taken leave of yourself?"

"In a matter of speaking old friend" Jano replied and rapped his skull "The spell that froze me apparently knocked out some connections up here."

"I see" Darin replied "What will they do to me then?"

"I dunno"

"Whereas I can answer that question fully." Tralin said stepping into the chamber "You will travel with the Frogzard Knights and myself to Neld where we will learn the whereabouts of and extricate any surviving Knights of Deren and any unfortunate refugees of Neld which may have survived the onslaght. You have promised to show us a way into Neld safely then you shall do so! Prepare we leave at the first light?"

"So Soon?" Darin responded with dismay

"Of course" Tralin answered "Before you came here I was planning on going to the front anyway. Surely your spies were astute enough to know what was common knowledge on the front line."

"Yes only..." Darin began but the Drakel interupted his objection.

"Enough Vandarian Just be ready."

"Very well Drakel, Does Jano come with us?"

"No. Jano remains here. He is not fit to be fighting rampaging undead and his presence here may help to sway your cooperation. Of course were you intent on selling him out it would not do you any good. At the first sign of treason I personally will forfeit your protection." Tralin turned and left

"I have never seen Tralin show as much emotion as he does with you."

"That was emotion? How can you tell? I just read it as cold menace."

"It was to be sure but.."

"Nevermind I can care less about the Drakel's demeanor."

"Tell me all that has happened since you awakened? You remember nothing of what befell you?"
Post #: 19
3/13/2006 5:23:23   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Eighteen

The Darkness was filled with a sense of palpable evil. The unusual music had returned at sunset and it had every one on edge. The very shadows seemed to jump alive.

Delnar tripled guard just to ease nerves, in some vague hope of facing off whatever menace stalked the night. The men he had sent to explore the vandarian camp brought back disturbing news. The camp was utterly abandoned, yet equipment, clothing, even personal affects still remained. The enemy had apparently fled entirely suddenly and en masse. That was two days ago. In the time since 3 of Delnar's scouting parties had vanished without a trace. Yesterday Cerin had vanished when he went to explore the nearest village.

"Commander!" a knight said with alarm "Someone wishes to see you"

"Who is it?" Delnar asked impatiently

"I do not know sir. His face is masked in darkness and he speaks very quietly. He says only that he knows something of the disappearances."

"Very well" Delnar said on guard "Show him in"

"As you wish sir"

A short while later the mysterious figure entered. He wore a dark robe the cowl of which completely shadowed his face and seemed to look at the floor consistently.

"Connabder Delar" the figure said in a low hiss "Good evening sir"

"Very little can be said to be good about this evening traveller. Three of my scouting envoys have disappeared as as a friend who happens to be the nephew of the royal vizier. Evil forces are abroad. If you know of them please speak, your information would be most appreciated."

"An army of Darkness gathers to wreak havoc on the world. Ostensibly on the side of the Dark Lord the army wishes to bring life and with it the fabric of all the world to an end. Even now the people fight them, but the menace continues to grow by the day, no by the hour. I think you should see something commander, come with me to the front, I suggest you bring an armed escort. You may have need of it's skills"

"Very well" Delnar sighed not quite trusting this shadowy figure but having no way to express that without risking his alienation.

Five minutes later Delnar stood looking over the front line.

"Well what am I supposed to see?"

"Look toward the burial site" he figure said gesturing at the area where graves were being prepared for the dead.

Delnar looked and his blood froze nearly at once. All about the gather remains of the fallen Vandarians clawed their way out of their earth. Disembodied limbs writed and crawled seeking to be reuinited with their lost bodies. Very incomplete semblances of undead wounded crawled arround and a few began to stand.

"Had you not seen this by the morning you would be dead before you even considered the source."

"What are they? What can we do?"

"Behold" The figure said simply "The great evil befalls us. Of all the things you can do the most vital would be to pray"
Post #: 20
3/14/2006 19:07:53   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Nineteen

Tralin was a good as his word the ship for Neld left within minutes of dawn the next morning. Darin was exhausted he had barely slept the night before. He looked arround his quarters with dread, he was used to comfort when travelling and would find precious little here. Not only was he in cramped quarters but he was sharing it with the Drakel so he would have nearly no time to himself whatsoever.

"Well" Tralin said cooly "We have raised anchor. Would you prefer we circled harbor all day or do you plan on giving our captain instrucrtions?"

"Me?" Darin asked astonished

"Of course you. You are the only one who knows where this hidden port is."

"Right" Darin said with some dismay, they were placing this fully on his head, should they not get there in a safe manner and directly Darin would be considered to be acting in bad faith. So while ordinarly he would revel in having a crew under his command, this circumstance only served to underscore that he had no real control over the situation. "Why can't you just magic yourself there Drakel"

"What good would that do? I would have no forknowledge of where I was going and would be weakened by the considerable magic required for the teleportation. Even should I arrive safely I could not take the Frogzard Knights with me, nor could I take the army from Neld besides Vandarian you are in my care I would not want to leave your side."

"Of course" Darin groaned and went above board to seek the captain of the vessel.
Post #: 21
3/14/2006 19:08:34   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Twenty

Delnar called the guard together with a command and stood in the center of them his face looking drawn and haggard in the fire light

"Gentleman this night a great malice has awakened that even now plans our destruction. An army of the living dead fills the wilderness somewhere and on our flank our own front has be come a haven for the fallen dead who come to life. No one is to wander alone, no one is to sleep by night. Any one entering the camp is to be stopped and examined fully before they are allowed to proceed. If any questions exist about their nature they are to be denied admitance. If the press the issue then they shall be put to death. In the morning we pull camp and seek a more defensible situation. For lack of a better option we will press for the nearest city, which we must make before night falls again. Any questions?"

Delnar waited but no one spoke "Very well fall out"

That evening five soldiers were killed by the undead in spite of their best precautions. It took two of them rising before the dead before Delnar gave the order that should any suffer even a remotely life threatening wound from the undead they be destroyed before the foul necromancy could work its way into their system. When the day broke Darin and the men rapidly went about breaking down the encampment and gathering together essentials. Any non vital items would remain and be retrieved later should time, and saftey, permit.

The march for the port city of Sentar was a morbid and quiet affair. The knights were already exhausted and a forced march did little to lift their depressed spirits. During the march two more knights disappeared. Delnar had heard that not all undead shunned the daylight as fiercely as others and was forced to conclude that the men had fallen under their malice. By the time the army arrived at Sentar darkness already began to color the night sky. There was little time to secure an encampment or search the city so Delnar took the largest building he could find and had it searched for life or unlife signs and finding none had the entire army holed within and set in a perimeter outside it.

The music did not return that evening and Delnar had his army spend the next day fortifying and strengthening their postion. It was at mid day that the carnage at the temple was discovered.

"Why is their death and decay here but no where else in the city" Delnar wandered aloud. "Where are all the people if they died shouldn't they be here?"

"If I were to guess my lord" a knight responded "I would say that their are signs of undead here because this is where they came from"

Delnar shuddered "Get a squad together to clear this temple. All of the body parts must be either cast into the fire or thrown into the sea before night fall and then the temple must be sealed tight and guarded heavily untill I can search it in the morning."
Post #: 22
3/14/2006 19:09:02   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Twenty-One

Darin was direct in his directions but the journey still was taking longer than he would like. They had been at sea for nearly ten days and the best that Darin could discern they were less then quarter of the way between Deren and Sentar. At this rate they would still not reach the city by the end of the month. It was not that Darin's directions were bad or that the crew was inefficent, but Darin was NOT a sailor and the crew was unfamiliar with these waters.

"How much longer will we be at sea" Tralin asked

"How the hell should I know. We are moving at a snails pace" Darin snapped his patience with the Drakel at its limit

"I see" Tralin responded "I will speak with the captain"

"Theres probably nothing you..." Darin began but Tralin had already left the cabin. Why had all of this happned? Two months ago he had been on top of the world, a cheif agent of the water lord enacting his plans to bring victory in the elemental war. Today he shared a cabin with one he had considered among his cheif adversaries going to rescue the enemy army. and likely wandering into a horde of blood thirsty undead instead. Twice Darin had heard that odd music since the trek began and it was not untill the second time that Tralin informed him of what it probably meant. By this time the entire continent was probably a wasteland of death and destruction why were they running this foolhardy mission.

Tralin reentered the cabin quietly "The captain has promised to speed things along. He, and I, only hope that your directions are very precise, should we run aground on a hidden reef or meet some water hazard we shall not have to worry about the wandering undead"

"Great" Darin moaned 'more responsibility heaped on his head'
Post #: 23
3/14/2006 19:09:32   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Twenty-Two

Delnar wandered through a series of catacombs beneath the Temple
in astonishment. Were all temples constructed in this bizzare fashion,
with hidden depths and equally hidden secrets? To his relief, beyond the
first level he did not discover any more evidence of undead presence.
Still the catacombs wound deep beneath the streets.

'Water must be pressing in all sides of me.' Delnar thought.
'Being so close to the ocean one cannot dig far without hitting water.'

"A most apt and accurate observation." A voice spoke from the darkness.
It took Delnar a moment to both recognize the man who warned him of the
undead menace and realize that the figure had perceived his
thoughts without them ever being vocalized.

"A side affect of being where you are." The figure said his face still buried
in his robes.

"And where exactly am I other then about twenty levels beneath the surface?"

"Closer to thirty, and in the inner sanctum of my patron, the Water Lord"

"This is some sort of specialized temple to the God of the Sea"

"One might say that. It is where 'communicants' come to speak to the water
lord and discern his will"

"Communicants?"

"Those few that possess the innate ability to communicate with the deities can
become communicants. That I can communicate with you via thought means
you possess the gift. Have you considered service to the temple?"

"No" Delnar responded "I am and always will be a knight."

"So become a templar." The man said "You need not align with any deity. Serve
the temple itself. You could go very far."

"Further than First Knight of the Order? I doubt it. I am too old for such
career moves, plus I never had a taste for divine politics."

"Oh well." The man said

"How come no one knows of these places?" Delnar asked

"Ordinarily these areas are sacrosanct. Only the highest in the individual faiths
and in the temples as a whole know where one might exist and to what deity
it is consecrated. Ordinarily your presence here would be cause for either
your death or at least taking substantial pieces of your mind to keep your
silence."

"Ordinarily?" Delnar asked.

"Yes."

"Why not now?"

"Two reasons. Firstly the water lord wished me to save you and your men because
the world needs all the able warriors it can to fight the approaching menace
and secondly because this space is being inactivated and you knowing it existed is
without consequence. It was found already by the undead and desecrated by them.
It was also subsequently raided by numerous Vandarians who sought to escape by
fleeing the swarm. Not that they found solace here. With no place to go but through
the sluice into the sea or back into the arms of the undead armies they died.
The wise ones fortunately chose the sea,"

"What of the rest of this temple? Why is the Temple to Light sealed?"

"The Temple to the Light was sealed by the clerics before they apported
I imagine. They would have had the clearest warning the undead were coming,
even more so then the Temple of Darkness. As to that temple, it was never
active in this city where the water lord reigned and was likely
empty when the undead came. Though it is, of course, possible that
the necromancer that brought this upon us worked from that space. I really
do not know the local hierarchy. I am not from Neld or Vandar."

"You are not? So what nation do you call home."

"Not that it is relevant Sir Knight but like you I was born in Deren"
Post #: 24
3/14/2006 19:10:09   
Falerin
Legendary Loremaster


Chapter Twenty-Three

Travel to Sentar remained slower then Darin would have preferred but true
to the captains word their pace did pick up a bit. Darin was not confident
they would reach the small port town before dark. It was what to do when
they arrived that left him cold. He had been debating it for some time. He
could lead Tralin back to the front, to be sure, but he was fairly certain
it would be abandoned. At least it would if Delnar was as skilled a person
as Darin believed he was. Finding Delnar became the issue, he could have fled
in any direction other than into the sea and be in a more defensible place.
Delnar likely originally stayed at the sea in case retreat was ordered but
as that had become impossible...

"Would Delnar not leave if he believed retreat was neccesary for survival?"

"Ordinarily" Tralin responded "Except for our naval vessels, We were recalled to
bring the frogzard knights and my company of mages to the front."

"Company of Mages? Frogzard knights? You really meant to turn the battles tide
at the expense of leaving your home flank undefended."

"This was before we found Jano." Tralin responded "We believed we fought a battle
on enemy soil and enemy soil not even that familiar to the enemy."

"Does Draynor have no spies?" Darin asked

"Certainly" Tralin quipped "He has you. Hasn't he?"

"Very funny Drakel. I meant does he employ no espionage"

"Do you honestly think any answer you got to that question would be true
Darin. You are a foreign dignatary and a potentially hostile one as well.
If we had none and I told you, you would set about furthering your own
hold. Were I to say the king had the best in the world carefully trained
as part of an intricate network you would seek to uncover its secrets."

Darin sighed deeply "Ordinarily perhaps, but I was upfront. My network is dead.
This disaster is being placed on my head. I cannot even return to Delkirk"

"Interesting" Tralin responded without emotion.


"Are all Drakel as cold as you?" Darin asked boldly

Tralin suprised Darin with a relatively candid answer consiDereng his general
secretivness. "Are all humans as skilled at espionage as you? Are all humans
as good at fishing as the master fishermen at Quoru? No? Then why would you
presume I were anything like 'all' Drakel you seek a generalization where
one is invalid, we are not insectoids with a hive mind. That should be apparent
or else there would not be outcasts and renegades like the Water Casters"

"And you?" Darin asked "What is your position in Drakel culture."

"You could not possibly understand nor am I inclined to share such information
with you."

"Legendary Drakel secretiveness returns"

Tralin merely gestured aquiescence to this charge.

"Land Ho!" A voice shouted above board

"What? We must be making better speed then I thought" Darin exclaimed and went
above deck with Tralin trailing. "How shall we find Delnar when we get there?"

Tralin looked across the night sea at Sentar "I suspect we shall not need to look
far" Tralin said over the odd cacophony of music that was their constant
night companion and he gestured at the city

Darin looked and noticed that the port city of Sentar was ablaze.
Post #: 25
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