RPG #16 - Barteris


The Amazing
May 17, 2006
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North Carolina
“What we say in here is not for the public. You are to know and you alone. I think its time you knew about your pursuers in black.”

“You mean there is something to this talk about agents?” asked Mason rather unhopefully. He was beginning to wonder how many enemies they would find on this journey.

“I’m afraid that there is. Though what it means I cannot say just yet. Yet as you wanted the identity of these people, I will do my best to explain. Kabora, you were quite correct in what you told your companions about the agents. They have become a bit of a legend in some places.

“People say that they are as stealthy as night, as swift as the wind, cunning as serpents, unstoppable as the tide, and cruel as winter. They say they are spirits or demons or even wicked elves. Yet these are only common legends that spring out from confusion.”

“What are they?” burst Fen who was far too engrossed in what she was hearing to remember that it was rude to interrupt, especially a king.

“They are humans, no different than you, thieves to be exact. Or at least that is what they were before the Drake came…”, he sadly shook his head, “ Oh where do I begin, its all so complicated.”

He paused in thought. For the first time they could see the worry show on his face. They saw that his face was wrinkled with care. At length he began again.

“A short time back, about fifty years as you would recon it, many of my people reported seeing a strange star falling from the sky. It did not dash across the heavens like lightening as most falling stars do, it seemed to be slowing down. That is when they realized that it was not dashing across the sky but heading for the ground.

“Then unlike the falling stars it suddenly went dim again as if its fire was extinguished and other strange lights began to take its place. They said that it was perfectly spherical. Lights of green, red, yellow some were flashing, others we brilliant and steady, and it is said that one was like a green ray of sun coming from the bottom of the object (which was obviously not a star) as it flew to the east. There it was lost to our sight.

“We did not think much of this. As such things were more common to see in those days, though never frequent or as strange as this object, we let the matter rest. The Returners had set up their home on the edge of the west, and we assumed it was something to do with them. But we were wrong and for a long time we did not know the danger that had come down upon us and all knowledge of what happened to the strange nightly object was hidden for many springs.

“Yet now, I can explain to you the connection between your Agents and this seemingly unconnected event. The object that we saw in the sky was indeed no star of the heavens but a craft like to that which ancients once used when they would sail through the stars. Its cargo was one man, who had come to this land with evil purpose. His craft landed outside of the civilized lands where nothing is tamed or and there is no order. As you know, the scattered peoples that live to the east are and have always been thieves, scoundrels, and wild men who at times will band together and raid the lands to the west.

“Upon seeing the craft, those barbarians would have believed that a living god had walked into their midst. Yet we know that there was a particularly ruthless, and fearsome band of thieves, being more greedy than smart, that laid in wait to ambush this new thing to further their feared reputation and perhaps take some items of great value.”

The king looked down at the floor and shook his head. “Poor fools... as the lone figure emerged from the craft, they jumped to kill him. Instead of the easy kill they were expecting the man erupted into a violent red which seemed to them to radiate from his entire body. Then they felt the choking, all consuming fear that was unlike anything they had ever known.

“They began to scream with madness. Some were casting themselves on the ground and crying for mercy like children, others were petrified as statues, some took their own life right then and there. Yet the figure did not kill them. He walked up to where they were, casting his radiance aside like a cloak which shattered like a burst of sparks.”

Fen’s mind jumped to the dark man, who she had seen as a figure of brilliant red in her dreams and remembered how he had cast the light off of him as if it was a sheet that had been wrapped around him. She sank deeper into her chair.

“So what did he do with these thieves who thought they could pillage something that they had no understanding of? He took them and trained them and made them like himself. They would have done anything at his bidding. As a part of the training process they slew each other so that the strongest among them would shine forth. In the end they had be whittled to fifty. Each one of them was trained in the arts of stealth, attack, magic or relic use, espionage, and illusion.

“The fear of him drove them onward to achieve abilities that normal men would never reach. Though, he has given them other abilities as well, in part through his power but mostly with his advanced knowledge of relics. Of course, while the extent of their full training is unknown, he began to use them within a year.

“Though we believe he never let them out of his sight for very long in the beginning. We do know that they played a major role in the massacre of the Returners, who’s facilities were then sold to that despicable mercenary organization, which was able to wreak havoc on countless lives through the technology they have found there.”

Then he looked up and made eye contact with the group, “This is the enemy that follows you. These are the Agents of the Drake, a name given to him for his “services” to North Fort. When he does not go by that title he calls himself Balantine, though if that is his real name or not we do not know. You might have heard of the Drake at some point in your travels.” Turning to Mason and Fugg he said, “I know the two of you have. He is very famous in North Fort as the counselor who guided the kingdom to their great breakthroughs in relic technologies. But he’s not just active in North Fort but in nearly every kingdom and principality of any consequence in the west…

“There is more that you should know, but I have given you quite enough to think about for one night. You will remain in my kingdom until we are certain that the Agents turned back at the border of the woods, for surely they know when and where you came into the forest. It will take many days to be sure they cannot easily track you when you leave so we will have much time to give you counsel. Please enjoy your stay in my realm, may your hearts be refreshed while you are here.”

At that he got up and bade them goodnight and they were led to their rooms. Each of them wondered how the elven king could possible know so many details of events that no elf could have possibly seen.


Feb 22, 2006
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somewhere... and Canada (eh?)
After the feast Kabora took Fen outside, and gave her the most wonderful birthday present anyone had ever given her. Above, the sky was lit with his wonderful living-fire display. Fen couldn’t help but smile and whoop for shear joy at what she was seeing before her. It was so beautiful! And it was a present for her! For her Birthday!! Someone remembered!!!! She must be the luckiest girl in the world!
But, as she thought these things and gazed in joyous awe at the sky above, a few elves came by and quickly put an end to the fun.. This was a hidden place, and it was supposed to stay hidden… and a fire display over this place was not a smart way to keep this Elven paradise hidden. …

Although upset, Fen understood and followed the elves as they led them down to the roots where the rest of the group and the King has gathered. It was serious meeting time, and what the King had to say would stick to Fen for a very long time after……


The dark man.. The Drake.. Balatine.. They were all the same man… A man who came from a fallen star about fifty years ago and turned a group of wild men into the Agents… Agents that have been following the group for awhile… And he was still the same dark being she saw in her dreams…

It was a frightening story the Elven king gave, and Fen knew in her heart, that it was a true one.

But.. there were loopholes in the story though.. Like the time… If the dark man came fifty years ago, shouldn’t he have looked older then what she saw? And how about the agents?? Were they all old people now too? And, as the agents were following them and the agents were the dark man’s men, did the Dark Man know about her? Why was he interested in the group? And, who were the Returners the King was talking about? Why hasn’t she heard of them before? And… The if the dark man helped the king of north fort.. Shouldn’t they turn away from going further??? Maybe try to find some other way to save Mason’s dad? Fen did not want to be anywhere near a place that the dark man was tied to. Not North Fort, or Merc.

And, a part of her still wondered what that conversation that the king was having before? A vessel? Going back? Who? Where? And Who is stopping him? Is it the Dark man again? Why does he seem to be everywhere these days???

Too many questions… So many, in fact, that His Majesty said “You will remain in my kingdom until we are certain that the Agents turned back at the border of the woods, for surely they know when and where you came into the forest. It will take many days to be sure they cannot easily track you when you leave so we will have much time to give you counsel. Please enjoy your stay in my realm, may your hearts be refreshed while you are here.” She did not absorb what he said until he left, so she could not protest….

But when it did sink in….. Wait!! What?!?! Stay here?? For many days?!!? Fen had never associated ‘safe’ with staying put Anywhere!! Never had, never will, nu-uh no way. They had to keep running. That was the only way to be safe… Wasn’t it?? Fen stood there, like a puppy that was just kicked in the face while everyone else started to walk out, most with an expression of deep thought on their face… Wha.. wha… oh… What’s going on???


That night, Fen could not sleep in her room… Too many thoughts.. too many questions… a lot of them scary… none of them would go away and let her rest…. She grabbed Whip from the stalls and with him as a living comforter and decided to go to someone… Fugg was nice.. but tough like a rock… Raven was so sad… And Fens thoughts would probably only make her sadder… Kabora, if he was smart, might comfort Raven.. Fen was unsure what Cambei thought of her right now… That left Mason and Rapture…

“Rapture?” Fen said meekly as she opened the woman’s door. “Can I stay here tonight with you? I’m not feeling so good….” Fen said, and without even knowing it at the time, taking up a residence there at Rapture’s room for the rest of their stay in the Elven city.


The next day and the days to come for Fen were filled with fun, joy, and restless hard work. Never once was she bored as she constantly had something to do. With the elven children, she hunted, played exciting running games, or played with their relics and made wonderful art for all to see.

If she was not playing with the children, she was bugging someone from the group to train her for something, Anything, to help her improve. And more times then not, they would break down and teach her something from their vast knowledge that comes from adulthood: reading… fighting… relics… even arrow shooting and hunting. And strangely enough, although Fen didn’t think they were there for that long. She could see a lot of improvement in just about…. Well.. Everything.

And overall, the elves treated them very nicely as well: one had put Fen’s hair many, many thin braids, so that from a distance, it still looked like her hair was down long, but with the way it was now, she would never have to brush it ever again, and it wouldn’t never knot up! Which was absolutely perfect for Fen’s lifestyle. Even the elven children had got together, stolen Fen’s fire relic and dragon dagger, and with the help with the elders, had made them one so that she had a brand new fire-dagger as beautiful birthday present from the elves. And what a present!!

“Fugg!!!! Kabora!!!! How do you wield a relic weapon!?! Can you teach me? Pleeeeease?????”


The Amazing
May 17, 2006
Reaction score
North Carolina
Under a dark sky, foreboding of storm, the Black Cathedral sat solemnly. Tension was in the air as if all things waited for the final decision of the conflict within. Within his shrouded chambers, the Drake had slept in his comatose state for over a week, ever since the separation of the relic. Though his agents were temporarily away on assignment, his personal guards were stationed about the chamber. In another room the new high priest sat with his archbishops.

“I’ve received word from Calidon. We will advance immediately.” Said the high priest, his hands still bandaged from the separation process.

“Who will do the deed?”

“Come forward Maldret.” At his words a cloaked figure approached. “Are you ready?” The figure nodded. “Very good. Agent 5 will be gone for the day. I want it done before he returns.” The figure nodded and departed.

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“You had something you wished to tell us?” Kabora inquired, being curious why everyone had been called together into the bowls of one of the great trees once again.

The king answered him. “The time has come for the revelation of many things. I have called the wise elder hither.” An elf in a simple cloak of purple stepped forward. He seemed aged and venerable, as old as stone. “He shall reveal much to you that has been hidden from mortals for a thousand years.”

“What is this all about?”, Mason asked, rather impatiently. He enjoyed his time with the elves, but the delay was trying on him.

“The Atem”, spoke the calm voice of the elder. The group simply stared at him in confusion. “The Atem, the breath of the ancients, it is that which flows through us all, giving us life, health, strength, and endurance. It is what gives a relic its power, it is what makes plants grow, it is guides and directs us throughout life.”

Mason looked at him rather dubiously. He was a man who had lived on his own without any help from anyone or anything. He was his own guidance, strength, and endurance, not some hocus pocus. “I don’t mean to sound rude but what has this got to do with my father? I only want to go to North Fort and get him out.”

“It is a matter that concerns you and your father very closely and indeed the entire world. But first I should start at the beginning, over a thousand years ago when the world was young.”

The room went dark, the voice of the elder could be heard, “In ages past, before ever an elf came to this land, there was balance and peace. A great, wise, and powerful people lived and grew in number and strength. These the people known as the ancients. You might have heard legends about them. But no legend compares with the truth.”

At his words, the image of the world appeared before them. They were looking at the Barteris of the past. “This was our world, a place of life and beauty.” It began to expand, like they were falling into it. The continents were growing, they could see mountains, valleys and plains. And then the cities…

The cities were gigantic. Their buildings were taller than the mountains. Millions and millions of people could live in them. Steady streams of flying ships were moving across the sky in orderly lines. The group rushed past the tops of the mighty towers, through the clouds of the sky, and hurtling toward the ground. Yet they did not crash into the ground, their guide led them up again and they sailed through the skies, seeing many great wonders of old Barteris.

The experience was dizzying to say the least and Fen had covered her eyes more than once. Yet she was starting to feel extremely disoriented and confused. The images around her were beginning to spin, then whirl about like a vortex. She felt herself being pulled away. Gradually her eyes closed and she remained motionless as if in a trance.

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Fen opened her eyes and saw a familiar sight. The gate she had visited a week before in her dreams standing before her. She suddenly remembered the dark man, was he still there? And where was her friend? Suddenly she felt a hand on her should.

“Hello there, I’m so glad you finally came.”

Fen whirled around and saw another little girl. It wasn’t her friend. She had red hair and freckles and was dressed like a kid from the street. Fen relaxed, “Who are you and how do you know my name?”

“My name is Mira. I lost my mommy and daddy and I don’t know what to do.” The girl looked like she had been crying. “I think they went through the gate but I can’t go in there alone. They say I need an escort.”

“What’s an escort?”

“Someone who has permission to enter. Lets see if you do.”

“Uhh I don’t know… I don’t want to get in trouble…”

“Pllleeeeeeaaaassee, if you don’t help me I’ll never see my mommy and daddy again.” The little girl began to tear up.

“Alright, I’ll help you out. What do I have to do?”
The girl pointed. “You see how the gate is open just a little? All we have to do is hold hands and you just squeeze through the opening and if you make it in then we both get to go in. Just remember not to let go of my hand, ok?”

It sounded easy enough. Fen decided to try it. Holding onto the little girl’s hand she approached the two large doors that made up the gate. One of them was opened part of the way. Fen started to work her way in sideways. The opening was small, even for her. Yet she was good at squeezing into tight places and eventually she was able to make it in. It was certainly dark inside. She remembered how it looked like the doors didn’t appear to lead to anything from the outside, but apparently this was a magical gate.

As soon as she was in she felt the weight of her companion come crashing down on her, as if she was dropped on her head. Then suddenly, Fen realized something was terribly wrong. A giant orb of light appeared in front of them, making a low throbing noise as it hovered in the darkness that surrounded them. Electricity seemed to arc around it. It began to vibrate and words came from it.

“You may not pass into the stream. I am the gate keeper. and I will not allow your wickedness will not contaminate the flow of the Atem. Return to your world now!”

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“The world was so wonderful then. We elves we were brought into the world at this time. It has been said that the elves were placed in the world to teach the lesser beings the ways of wisdom, yet for our part were are but children of what the ancients were. They gave us our wisdom and knowledge and love of living things. We did not choose to live in their cities or with many of their wonders. Our hearts have always been given to the forest, the fields, and the stars.

“We lived in harmony for years upon years, and watched the arrival of other new comers such as men, dwarves and others who are now hidden or long gone. Yet just as our hearts were given to nature and things of this world that we found, the ancients always set their sights on things beyond the reach of our world.

“Yet the years of peace and beauty were all an illusion. For beyond the reaches of this world there was pain and suffering. The ancients told us of a great war, lasting years beyond count, that was being raged in the heavens above. A great darkness dwelt out there that consumed peoples, light, and all happiness. For this reason I believe the ancients fled to Barteris many years before our time and built a refuge against it.”

My attempt &^ the oppressive word wrapping of this forum.***
Fen heard a loud burst of laughter from behind her. It was not the laughter that a small girl would make, she looked behind her and saw the girl’s red hair shorten and grow dark, the freckles disappeared and the face grew paler, her body began to grow, and her clothes turned black. Soon she was looking up to the dark man from her dreams, but he was not paying her any attention. “Do not treat me like one of the pathetic natives. The breath of the ancients means little to me, now stand out of my way or be destroyed.”

The globe began to rumble, Fen started to slowly crawl away. She did not want to get caught in any crossfire. A voice boomed from the orb, “Do not boast too loudly, we know all about you, brace yourself sorcerer!”

Smokey wisps of light began to pour off of the orb and engulf the Drake. He fell to his knees in pain. “TAMAN SILUNE KABATHAK!” At his words a great wind rose up and began to drag Fen to him. The glowing smoky substance wavered and then strengthened in intensity. Fen flew off the ground and collided into him and landed in the grass of a sunny field. She wondering how she had gotten there when she noticed a boy was crying, in the grass that rose above his head. Fen could tell from his glowing hair that he was an ancient.

Suddenly an older boy ran up to him. “Tyndell, there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.” Fen felt strong emotions welling up inside her as soon as she saw him, though she did not know why.

“Jacob they left me!” The boy was talking in between sobs. “The other kids said they would play hide and seek and they just left me out here and I got lost and scared and… (it went on for quite a while)”

“Oh Tyndell, you’ve got to learn to stand up for yourself. Come on, Mom’s calling.”


Fen saw many scenes flash in front of her. The entire childhood of these two ancients (who were in fact brothers), particularly the younger Tyndell, was being flashed in front of her. She saw his parents and his friends. She saw how Tyndell adored his older brother, how he acted as a protector against bullies, and how he followed him everywhere. Fen felt a twinge of pain as she saw what a happy family looked like.

Fen saw their parents teach them how to play all kinds of instruments. Some of them Fen had never seen before, some were familiar like the harp and piano. The extended family would get together and they would have a small orchestra. She saw how Tyndell and Jacob would run through their gardens with their mother and grandmother. There the children would be taught how to plant things and make them grow. As the images progressed both Tyndell and Jacob grew into young adults.

Tyndell developed a skill for making things grow and playing music that could make its listener dance with joy or cry in sadness. Jacob, seemed to grow less and less interested in such things and more interested in soldiers, battle cruisers, and military tactics. This was looked down upon in the family but it did not seem to deter him. In the evenings the family would sit together and listen to the news, which was mostly about a war that Fen didn’t understand. Highlighted on the news were the exploits of a famed bounty hunter called The Great Balantine, who could apparently capture anyone, anywhere, and in any condition.

The scenes slowed down and Fen found herself listening to a conversation between the two brothers. “Mom tells me you got accepted to the Academy”, said Tyndell. He looked to be in his late teens.

“Yeah isn’t it great? I’ll be leaving at the first of the year.” Even though they were roughly the same size now, Jacob was easily the stouter of the two.

“Are you really going to be trained as guardian?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Mom’s not too happy with that, she’s certain you will be killed in the war. Why not go to the conservatory and make mom and dad happy? You could at least try it out and see if you like it.”

“Something you’ve got to learn, Tyndell, is that you can’t lead your own life by giving someone else the reigns. I’m needed, I know I can make a difference in this war.” He saw that his brother was reluctant to see their paths split and it touched his heart. “Tyndell, I have to go my way, and take my path. You have a separate path that will be wonderful and exciting. It’s time for you to become your own man, the one that you were meant to be… Here, I want you to have this.” He pulled a gold medallion from his pocket. It was his championship medal that he had won in a tournament (for a game that was totally alien to Fen).

“You’re giving me your medal? I can’t take this… its… its yours, you worked so hard for it.”

“I want you to have it. That way no matter how far away I am, and no matter how alone you may feel, you’ll always know that you’ve always got a big brother who’s looking out for you.” Their eyes were watering, though they tried to hide that. Tyndell took the medal, thought for a moment, and excused himself for a moment. He came back with a golden pocket watch.

“They gave me this after I was chosen for concert master last year. Take it, and we’ll be even. I’ll be rooting for you all the way, guardian.”

The two brothers embraced and suddenly Fen felt like she would erupt with an explosion of feelings: anger, sadness, regret, longing, and even hatred. The scene went dim and she felt the ground shake violently. Suddenly she heard a voice in her head.

“You were very fond of him, no?”

When the light returned she saw that she was in a field much like the one she had been in at the beginning of these memories. A noisy brook was bubbling away beside her, and then saw the tombstone. She could not read the writing on the stone but built into the stone was the golden pocket watch. Fen thought she would be sick as she stumbled to the edge of the brook and as she leaned over the edge she saw not her reflection, but that of the dark man.
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The Amazing
May 17, 2006
Reaction score
North Carolina
[Part II]

Down the dark hallway walked the hooded Maldret. He was flanked on either hand by a line of monks. They made their way to the chambers of the Drake, where they planned to break past his guards and dispatch him. They hurried along as time was of the essence, there were no agents in the cathedral at that time, but they did not want one to show up before the deed had been done.

Four of the Drake’s personal body guards stood in alertness outside of the doors to his chambers. They saw the group of monks, led by the cloaked Maldret, as they approached and instantly were uneasy. A soft knock on the door from the leader was enough to cause five more guards to exit the room and join the contingent as Maldret approached.

“My friend, we have heard that our high priest is not doing so well and that his condition worsens. I and my fellow monks wish to see if there is anything that can be done to improve our lord’s health. May we go in?”

“So sorry, his Excellency has declined all visitors today. We will convey your regards to him, good day.”

At this point the monks behind him began to spread into formation. “Oh, I’m afraid we must insist.” With that Maldret did a back flip over the approaching monks behind him to get out of their way. Three of the guards opened fire on the monks, four others dove for cover behind nearby statues and began to attack using relics. The remaining two began hand to hand combat.

Many of the forward monks dropped to the ground dead from the initial volley. Yet the gunners soon fell with dozens of daggers in their bellies. The fighting grew intense as a few guards who had remained in the locked chamber were casting spells through the door.

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The group found themselves standing on the edge of what appeared to be a valley of crystal. At its center, a great bowl of white light could be seen. A light brighter than the sun was beamed up from this gigantic bowl. At its focal point swirled a great vortex of pure energy that shown in many colors. This whirling body of power seemed to feed rivers of light in which things that looked like schools of glowing fish swimming high above their heads.

“This is the gate that connected this world and the world of the ancients. Out of it flowed a power greater than comprehension. You can see the Atem as it used to run like rushing rivers that spread from here to feed the very planet. Some of those who had joined this great stream could travel back and forth between the two worlds. Here you can see how they were when they ran freely along its heavenly pathways.”

“Are they the ones who look like swarms of fireflies, or shining schools of fish?”, asked Cambei.

“They are. They are the transcended ancients who entered into the world beyond and became one with the Atem. With their power they carved out a new plane of existence, another world, completely apart from the physical one that we inhabit. Those who retreated into it left their bodily form forever.

“You see, when someone leaves the physical plane for the world of the ancients, they are no longer individuals as we are. Their power, their bodies, their knowledge, their very essence is melded into that world. With their spirits freed they melded to form a great current of consciousness. This is called the breath of the ancients, which flows along a pathway. That pathway is the Atem, which flows through each of us and all things sustaining us and giving us life. Here you see it as it once streamed out of the gate that bound the two worlds together in harmony. But the gate was broken long ago…”, he ended with a sad tone.

A great blanket of fog rolled over them and the gate was hidden from view. “Ever the threat of the outer darkness ate at their minds, and more of them sought to enter this place of final retreat, a place they deemed safe from the reach of the darkness. As more of high ones transcended, the power of the Atem grew until all other powers were subdued on this planet. Those ancients who remained behind found that their native abilities were suppressed and grew to rely on its power alone. They created objects to channel its power in for many purposes, wonderful objects called relics.

"But for all of their great triumph, they continued to look into the heavens and grew more worried about events beyond pur sky. Soon there were more of them fleeing into the Atem than were being born and they began to grow less in number. For the first time the ancients realized that they had made themselves vulnerable. So they fashioned the great defenders of Barteris, the legendary relics. They were unlike any relics that had ever come before and none like them will come after. In those days they could walk about outside of their relic housings in many forms and shapes. Some were great knights, others were dragons, one was a great tree, and a few others had various forms. While other relics require someone to use them, these relics are their own masters. If one of them were to be found today it would change the balance of power in the world.”

My attempt &^ the oppressive word wrapping of this forum.***

Fen was startled to see the face of the dark man in the water and remained bewildered for quite a while. She was trapped in the thoughts of the dark man. His feelings became her feelings and, though she did not know it, he felt her feelings as well. She could not tell exactly who was controlling the body at any given point.

“You cared deeply for this one did you not?”, said a voice in Fen’s ear. She found herself answering but not with her voice.

“Life is hard Gate Keeper, it gives nothing that it will not take away. If he wished to survive he should have been stronger. I care nothing for the weak.” It was the voice of the dark man, cold as ice.

“And yet you did care much for others who were considered weak I think. A certain woman…”

Fen saw the scene waver around her and it melted away into darkness. Then out of the darkness she heard a beautiful piano melody. It was very faint at first and then began to grow louder. The music’s beauty pierced her heart, and yet she felt a deep welling of rage grow in her. Yet the rage was not hers, but that of the Drake. For years beyond count he had hated that sound, despising even the memory of it. He longed to find the source of this music and tear it to bits.

The scene became brighter again until a woman could be seen, a very beautiful woman, playing a song on the piano that Fen had never heard before but at the same time it sounded familiar, as if it was a theme of her life put to music..

“No… not her… I cannot…” He was backing away from her. Fen could feel a panic, great anger, and fear inside of him at the sight of this new woman. Just then another person approached her. Fen recognized it as Tyndell, he had grown since she had last seen him. The piano player stopped as he approached.

“That was his favorite song… I remember he would always stop whatever he was doing when I would play that. I haven’t so much as looked at the score since he died. Funny isn’t it? It’s the anniversary of his…”

The lady stood up and put an arm around him. “It IS lovely piece.”

“Yes… though not quite so beautiful as when you play it. Out of all things lovely and fair, you shine out like a priceless gem. Where you go, you make things bright and full of joy.” He paused. “Rachel, I can’t hide the fact that… I love you. And I think we could be happy together. And I know I am not worthy to ask this question, but I… could you… I mean do you think we could… Oh I’m making such a mess of this!”

“Making a mess? That’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. Oh Tyndell!” And she began to embrace him but he held her at arms length, looking into her eyes.

“Please… I’d better ask this now or I may never have the courage to ask it again. Rachel, will you marry me?”

Fen felt like she was going to get torn to pieces from the inside out. Such a mixture of longing, bitterness, anger, and hatred was beyond anything she had ever experienced. She suddenly realized that she could feel a tear sliding down the cheek. And as it feel to the ground the eruption occurred.


An explosion of light and sound tore the surroundings apart as if they were made of paper. They were in the darkness again facing the orb.


The words were the Drakes but his voice was utterly different. It was now deep and inhuman and seemed to be the substance of wrath incarnate. The sound of the incantation made the very soul shake. His eyes were beaming lanterns of yellow and green. Black cracks appeared on the white sphere, it began to vibrate uncontrollably.

“You will not escape the curse of your past no matter how powerful you become, oh sorcerer.”

“SILENCE!!!” And with that piercing command the gate keeper exploded into millions of glowing shards which seemed to fly to eternity in every direction.

My attempt &^ the oppressive word wrapping of this forum.***

There was silence in the halls outside the chambers of the Drake. The floor lay strewn with the bodies of the slain guards and monks. The final guard had just collapsed on the ground to join his comrades. Maldret strode forward heedless of the fallen bodies. The guards had put up more of a fight than he had expected. He had a remainder of monks that could be counted on one hand, and even these were injured. However, they had done their job, and he was not displeased. How the fight would have turned had there been an agent present he did not care to think.

Extending his hands into attack position, he let loose a volley of dark energy into the locked doors that barred his way. They burst asunder and splinters went everywhere. He was confident and secure in his knowledge of the powers of the Great Darkness while he was inside the cathedral. Within its black walls the Atem could do little to neutralize its power. He walked inside the first room of the chamber, taking no notice of the small group of bodies (leftovers from the fight) that were inside, impaled with the large splinters of the doors.

He came to a second door, this one was unlocked. He opened it silently, and shut it behind him. The room was dark for the windows were heavily curtained and there was no other source of light. In the center of the large, high vaulted bedroom chamber was a great bed. The four bed posts held up a canopy and black bed curtains that were only open halfway at the foot of the bed. Maldret could not see the Drake, for the curtains left his bed in pitch darkness, but he could feel him there. His breathing was heavily, Maldret walked forward to his bedside, jerked the side curtains from the rod.

He jumped back and saw to his surprise that the Drake was staring up at him, though he had not moved from his pillow. They had told him that he was in a coma, had the noise wakened him? Was this some kind of set up by the priests? He decided he would test his prey. He took out a dagger that looked like it was made of luminous ice. His victim stirred and weakly struggled to get to push himself away. So it was as they had told him, the Drake was helpless.

Emboldened by the weakness of his target, he extended his hands and uttered the words of a deadly curse with slow relish. This kill would make him infamous. “Kargresh duruil semolid turgil dul.” A black vapor formed around his fingers. “Timinal dunim gragnid sonm.” The room became utterly black and his hands began to glow. He was channeling as much power as he could. There would be nothing left of his target but a few scraps with which to confirm his death. The Drake continued to push away but was failing to make any significant distance. “VIGAT!!!”

The archbishops and the high priest smiled as the floor rumbled gently beneath them as they waited for the news of his death in a separate room.

My attempt &^ the oppressive word wrapping of this forum.***

“The legendary relics… I have heard many tales about them but I assumed they were no more than fairy tales”, said Cambei.

“You would not be the first”, the elder replied. “Many a year has passed since one has been recovered. At least it has been many years since the Atem has revealed one to us as being active. They sleep now, but maybe soon they will awaken again. For it is not the legendary relics that we are concerned at the moment, but a much older class of relics, the very first relics ever made.”

“The omicri…” Everyone turned and gazed at Cambei. “My order was learned in the lore of the ancient relics. We know that the very first group of relics ever made by the ancients were called omicri. An omicron has no power of its own and their function remained a mystery to us, but we knew that there were only 47 of these ever made and it has been considered ill luck to possess one. One resided in the keeping of my order, though I don’t know where it is now, we held it as a priceless heirloom. I assume the rival monks took it along with our other valuables when my order was destroyed.”

“You know much, wise one. I see that not all races of men are wholly ignorant of the ancient past.” The elder turned to the rest of the group. “The monk speaks truly. Yet there is more than none save a handful of people of any race know. The omicron is the foundation of the world of the ancients. No single omicron appears to have any significant power because they were not designed to affect this world. Upon their creation, the ancients used the 47 omicri to fashion their world to their liking and instilled within them the power to sustain it. Then, when all was ready they built the Gate, and set the omicri into alignment in it.

“Once fused with the platform of the Gate, the Atem was created and flowed through it as you saw a moment ago. You see, that is the second function of an omicron, to act as a conduit connecting the two worlds. However they must be gathered together before they can function in that way. Once they are all gathered together the flood gates of the Atem will re-open and bathe the world in the breath of the ancients once again. You see, the Atem was never meant to work without the Gate. The omicri are actually extremely powerful, but as I have said, all of that power is focused on the other world.

“That causes them to draw the breath of the ancients out of this world like a straw. While in the Gate, that energy is doubly radiated back into this world and cycled in other ways. Yet when the Gate was broken, a part of the Great Darkness was trapped in the Atem, and it sits and festers like a sore, blocking the free flow of the Atem. With the darkness sitting on the other side of the gate, and the gate mostly closed, the Atem was forced to choose other means of flowing.

“Every time a relic is used, the breath of the ancients cycles through the relic back into this world, where it maintains and sustains us. But the process is not adequate for the needs of this world. Most of the ancient relics were buried or hidden after the great calamity that brought down the Gate and few relics operate on their own. In many ways, the life of the planet has been dependent upon the activity of relic users for the past 1000 years.

“This is why Barteris has gotten worse instead of better as time has progressed. As autonomous relics (relics that do not need a person present to be active) were generally not needed in the far south of the planet with the Gate so near, too few are left to sustain much life there. This is why deserts have spread until they cover nearly all of the south. Reality there is a dead shell of the world that used to be.

“In many parts of the east there are more of these special relics but they are fed by rivers of the Atem that have been contaminated by the Darkness. While things live and grow there, they are untamed and oftentimes dangerous and all men from those regions are wild and uncouth. A few places exist further east that act as oases of untainted Atem. Many of the monks from the east were located in such places.

“Only here in the West is there an abundant supply of autonomous relics, such as the growing relics used by farmers. They have been buried deep in the earth by the great cataclysm but they allow the breath of the ancients to flow more freely here. This is why great towns and city-states have been able to form.

“But it is not enough, the cycle is becoming more and more unbalanced. Soon all of these places will dry up and become barren. Their peoples will become wild, or worse. An unexpected benefit of the interference of Balantine has been the increased relic usage in North Fort, it is also the reason behind its increasing power. Yet behind all of this, a greater threat looms…

“The omicri, needing each other to function correctly, have sought each other out these 1000 years. They have used their subtle influences in this world to arise again from the earth and be found. Why else would people of all tribes, cultures, and races have a natural affinity for them. They have been collected, revered, and even worshipped by some people even though they are seemingly without power. The first attempts the collect them came about over 200 years ago. People from all over the world began to try to gather them.

“Though these collectors did not know why they did it, they were setting the foundation for the great reunion that could unite the omicri and reopen the gate. Yet there was a danger in this…”

“Wait just a minute!” Mason had had enough. “You’re talking about these things as if they were people, thinking and feeling. I’ve seen plenty of relics, they’re useful tools for those who care to use them but nothing more. But beyond that, I want to know what all of this has to do with me and my goal! I’m sorry to hear about your great calamity that happened 1000 years ago, or the end of the world that will happen hundreds of years from now. But I can’t do anything about any of that. I’m just on my way to North Fort to get my father.” He was a practical man and he had a feeling as to where all of this was going. The group was going to be asked to go on some assignment for the elves that had something to do with these matters that were of no concern to him. He didn’t have time for that.

“Just because an object does not communicate its thought or emotion in the ways of man does not mean it does not have them.” The elven king spoke up, indignant at the lack of respect given to the elder. “All of the relics are very much alive, even the ones created in recent years by the meddling of men. As for your father, why do you think he is in jail? In fact, why do you think your companion here was allowed to escape and tell you about it?”

Fugg grunted to show what he thought of the notion of someone “letting” him break out of jail.

“I realize your prowess at arms is great, my friend. But North Fort has grown too great, and you too infamous, for them to put you in a holding cell with an escape tunnel already dug in it. Do you not think it odd that you were placed in the only cell with a window into the neighboring cell? Or do you not think it odd that they allowed Roman and yourself to talk? They put up just enough of a front so that you would not realize it was a setup. Of course it was challenging to break out of there, they meant it to be. Otherwise you would have realized the trap.” Turning to Mason he said, “Mason, they want you to try to break him out. And we know why he is there, and we know who gave the order to have him arrested.”

“I’m listening...”, said Mason rather tursely, he was glad to finally hear something that would be of practical use to him.
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Aug 24, 2003
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the Other Place
As the group separated on their way to their respective quarters, Mason caught sight of Rapture with a particularly thoughtful expression on her usually distant face. Walking alongside her, he smiled and asked in a slightly teasing manner, “Spooked by the mention of the Agents?”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe you should be,” Mason said, only half jokingly. “They’re dangerous, and the king certainly was doing his best to scare us with his story.”

“I’m not ‘spooked’ by the Agents, Mason,” Rapture replied tersely. Giving him a once-over, she added, “You’re drunk.”

“Not quite there yet,” said Mason lightly, ignoring her tone. “It’s a night of celebration, isn’t it? So lighten up Rapture! And what kind of a name is that anyway? ‘Rapture’?” Rapture ignored the question completely, but sensed something was on his mind. She gently probed at the edges of his thoughts, trying to discern the truth. She blinked suddenly, her only outward reaction, when she sensed his strong desire to be gone from here…or a strong desire to be away from the group (or her?)…and something else.
Mason was muttering something else, but Rapture wasn’t paying attention anymore. He wasn’t the only one who wanted to leave the city, and Rapture was beginning to consider new options. After a moment she noticed he was observing her again and told him in no uncertain terms what she thought of it.

“If you remember by tomorrow,” she then said to him, “come and find me – we need to talk. And for your sake, I hope you’ll be sober by then.” She left, returning to her room. She reflected on what the king had said. They knew there were Agents tracking the group, and were confident they wouldn’t be able to find the city – that is, if they couldn’t see that fiery display in the sky earlier in the night. She wondered if the elves suspected anything, and resolved to make the most of the time they would spend at the city by finding that companion of hers during the meal and get a little friendly with him in hope of obtaining information.

She almost ripped the dress several times in her haste to remove it once inside her room, returning herself to “normal” and instantly feeling safer. Checking her surroundings for security, she settled into a restorative sleep-like trance and let a portion of her consciousness swim the astral rivers quietly to “listen” for news and information. Not long afterwards, her astral self saw a shiny, chaotic figure heading towards her room and she instantly awakened, glancing at the door expectantly. A moment later it opened a little, and a small head peeked in.

“Rapture?” Fen said meekly. “Can I stay here tonight with you? I’m not feeling so good….”

In one brief moment Rapture felt a blur of irritation, curiosity, amusement and sympathy, not that Fen would have noticed especially in the darkened corner where she sat. One thing stood out – the girl had not inappropriately called her “Raz.” Rapture smiled to herself.

“What’s wrong?” asked Rapture, already knowing the answer. She let the girl sit on the bed and speak freely for a while. Towards the end, Rapture prompted her saying, “But that’s not your greatest concern right now is it? You don’t want to stay here longer than necessary, right?” Fen hesitated a moment then nodded.

“I know I should feel safe, I mean what could possibly happen to us here, right?” asked Fen. “We’re in a secret elven city surrounded by elves who’d spot danger miles away. Right?” Rapture nodded halfheartedly, knowing the questions were mostly rhetorical. Fen sighed quietly and there was a momentary silence. Fen then looked up at Rapture and said, “You looked pretty tonight. That dress really suited you.” Rapture nodded in acknowledgement, not really sure what to say. Fen recalled the time when Rapture had done a fantastic job selling the glass ornaments and added, “I think you should wear dresses more often, Raz, you look good in them."

“Uh, thanks Fen…but I don’t think so,” Rapture said. “Dresses are for…elves. And they’re impractical.”

Fen laughed at the unsurprising answer then said, “But you ALWAYS wear, well, just that cat suit thing and that trenchcoat of yours. Don’t get me wrong, you sure wear that suit thingy well, but doesn’t it get boring wearing that all the time? I know you said it’s sorta fused? But how did it get like that? Doesn’t it get uncomfortable or dirty? What’s it for? Does it do anything?”

Rapture sighed theatrically and said dryly, “This kind of talk is not exactly bed-time story material, you know.”

Fen replied with a grin, “Didn’t ask for one. So can you tell me?” Rapture said nothing, so she quickly added, “Please? I won’t tell anyone, I promise!” Rapture considered and opted to take a risk, swearing Fen to secrecy. Satisfied that the girl would not betray her, Rapture took a moment to compose her thoughts.

“Have you ever seen material like this?” Rapture asked, and Fen touched her arm, feeling the material, and shook her head. “Most people wouldn’t have. I got it from a very…special place. A place that was once my home and family and work. A place where they like creating and experimenting. A lot of people there were powerful, or dangerous, ruthless, and…mercenary.” Fen had a sinking feeling about what was coming next and involuntarily shivered.

“I was from Merc too.”

Fen’s eyes were wide with disbelief and amazement as she sat there, stunned. She’s from Merc! No! After all this time – wait! “Was” from Merc?! Does that mean she doesn’t work for them anymore? Of course! That makes sense! No wonder she’s been so nice to me all along! Could it be?! I’ve found another sister! Fen’s emotions swept across her face as the thoughts bounced around her mind.


“So…you’re…are you…?” began Fen hesitantly.

“I don’t work for Merc anymore, if that’s what you mean,” said Rapture and Fen sighed with relief. She impulsively hugged Rapture, laughing with delight. Fen began rapidly asking questions again, and Rapture answered, partially to get her to shut up.

“I was one of their elite covert operatives, mostly working in the field. Sometimes I worked alone, sometimes with a partner. I was assigned an elite team to lead, which I did from time to time. I did all kind of missions: scouting and reconnaissance, infiltration and sabotage, surveillance, protection, assassination…”

“Assassination?” interrupted Fen.

“Don’t be naïve, Fen,” said Rapture dryly. “Of course some of my jobs would have been to kill others. This is Merc we’re talking about, remember?”

“I know, but...” Fen trailed off, clearly upset that Rapture seemed so indifferent about the killing. Then she said, “Raven said she used to be with Merc too. Did you know her from there?”

“Not really. They didn’t like operatives mingling too much, especially across divisions, between our kind and the other kinds.” Fen wasn’t sure who she meant by “our kind,” but hoped Rapture would explain. She certainly thought Raven and Rapture were very different in many ways, though similar in many ways too. “If she was a solo assassin, she probably would never have met anyone from the black ops division.”

“Like you?” asked Fen. Rapture nodded once. “So you did lots of things for Merc.” Rapture nodded again. “But why? Why did you work for Merc?” Fen's curiosity far outweighed any sense that she could be in potential danger, sitting with a woman she honestly stillknew very little about.

“Merc was the only thing I knew for a long time,” was all Rapture said, and it was clear she didn’t want to say anymore about it, at least for the time being.

After Fen noticed, she hesitated and cautiously tried another question. “What was it like, working for Merc? I mean, how did you feel about…”

“The killing?” asked Rapture, apparently not surprised that Fen was wanting to know about this. Fen nodded, her nervousness highlighting to Rapture that this was important to the girl. “It was a matter of necessity. I didn’t get to where I was with Merc by being soft or by lacking initiative, and on those missions it was kill or be killed. Go figure.” She looked Fen in the eye and said with a wry smile, “You can relax Fen – I may be a killer, but I’m not a murderer.” At least, not so you’d notice…

“What’s the difference?” muttered Fen.

“You know the difference,” said Rapture, pointedly ignoring Fen’s tone and expression. “So stop pretending you don’t. I’ll let my actions speak for myself if you need any more convincing.”

Fen pouted a little, but then smiled. “So, that means you don’t really like killing then?” she asked hopefully. Rapture sighed but told Fen what she wanted to hear, then resumed her narrative.

“Later we had a…misunderstanding. It led me to question a lot of things, and my Merc-influenced perspective of the world at large. The end effect was that I quit, covered my tracks, got in touch with the people in the network I had established over the years working as a Merc operative, and formed my own unit of sorts. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy, but recent new developments have left two of my boys at the mercy of some ‘acquaintances’ of ours who are not exactly friends.”

“Your boys?”

Rapture nodded. “Members of my unit. Not my boys in the literal sense, and that’s all you need to know about them for now,” she added to stave off further questioning in that direction.

“So you were good at your job, huh?” Fen asked. Rapture candidly replied in the affirmative, neither showing modesty or bravado. “Is it because they…did something to you too?” asked Fen hesitantly, as if speaking about it brought back the painful and horrible memories of the Labs. Rapture fell silent, but her grim expression told Fen that she certainly must have had some bad experiences of her own like her and Raven. What were the chances that the three of them would meet!

“I’m very good at what I do,” repeated Rapture, “and I have a little talent of my own too.” Well, several, but she doesn’t need to know...

“Really?!” said Fen excitedly. “What is it?”

“Nothing as exciting as being able to melt sand, or vapourise walls,” Rapture said with a wry smile. “What I can do is sense where my friends are. That, and if people are in trouble.”

“But that’s really handy!” said Fen, grinning.

“It is,” Rapture agreed, smiling for the first time in the conversation. “Beats having to rely on technology and devices to keep track of party members on a mission.”

“So you can tell where we all are?” Fen asked, impressed.

“No, not everyone in the group,” lied Rapture. “I don’t know everyone well enough yet. It takes time to get used to people. It’s like if you’ve lived in one place for long, then move somewhere else; it takes a bit to get used to the new place, especially if you’re not actively trying to – or can’t - get to know them.”

Fen nodded, as if to say that made sense. “And you can sense when someone’s in trouble as well. What about other times, like if someone is happy? Or angry? Can you read minds?!”

Rapture shook her head. “No, I can only sense if someone’s panicking, and I can’t read minds,” she lied again. Fen asked why not. “When people panic they send out specific signals which are different from the kind they send out when they are happy, for example. I’m only attuned to panic vibes. I guess Merc thought they’d rather know when people panic than when people are happy.”

“Couldn’t you teach yourself to sense different vibes though?” asked Fen.

Rapture shrugged noncommittally. “It’s possible, I suppose. It’d require a lot of quality practise time and calm for me to be exposed to a lot of different happy people and develop a sensitivity for it from scratch.” She smiled a little in a self-deprecating manner and added, “Aside from the lack of prolonged periods of peace and quiet in my life, I’m far too old to be trying to learn something like that.” Fen laughed along before voicing her disagreement, but Rapture merely shrugged lightly as if to say, “Ok, so maybe I’m not so old, but I still can’t,” and let it drop.

Fen looked at Rapture. She considered the times when Rapture had been awake when she had bad dreams and woke up in a panic. She thought of the other times Rapture had been conveniently nearby when she had needed her and smiled in newfound understanding. She recalled the snatches of information Rapture had told her previously and combined it with all that she knew about her now. “So your…boys…are in a jail or something somewhere?” Fen asked. “And you’re trying to rescue them. But you said you had to do some things before you can get to them! Have you had a chance to do any of the things you’ve had to do? We’ve been so busy trying to stay alive since…since…oh since we had to save Kabora from prison! Do you know where they are?”

“I have a few leads,” she answered vaguely.

“Then we should tell the others! They’ll help you rescue them!” said Fen excitedly.

“No,” said Rapture firmly.

“’No’?” echoed Fen, looking confused. “Why not? And why didn’t you tell us about your special abilities before?”

“It’s a matter of trust and security. I didn’t mention them before because it wasn’t necessary or having a significant effect, and I don’t want to ask the others for help because it’s not their problem. But mainly, it’s a matter of trust,” she repeated pointedly.

Fen pouted and said, “You know I won’t mention any of this to anyone like I promised, but I still think you should get the others to help – we’ve made everyones problems the group’s problems so far, so why not yours too? You can at least tell Raven! The three of us are like sisters, y’see? Isn’t that great! And maybe,” she added, grinning mischievously, “you could even tell Mason, I’m sure he’d love to help you.”

Rapture looked at the grinning girl with a sour expression, but it soon turned into a small grin. “What is that supposed to mean, hmmm?” Fen only chuckled. Rapture waved aside the girl’s mirth in exaggerated dismissal. “Anyway, the less they know about who I used to be the better. We should focus on getting out of here, and why there are Agents following. Plus, I don’t want to blow my cover – I am fairly sure everyone including Merc and the Agents still don’t know exactly who or where I am and I’d like to keep it that way. If the Agents overhear about me being the operative that Merc has been after even before Raven, they could sell that information to Merc, and we’ll have yet another reason why some group or another is after this group of ours.”

Fen considered. Merc already knew Raven was in the group and were after her. They probably knew she hiding with these adults, but possibly not. Ummm, who else was being hunted? She gave a puzzled look to Rapture, who must have guessed what she was thinking and filled her in with what she knew – Cambei was also wanted, Fugg had his enemies and Mason was heading for North Fort for some personal reason but no doubt it would lead to conflict as well.

Fen sighed exaggeratedly and said, “Oh fine, I see what you mean. So we won’t tell the others who and what you are. But I still think you should talk to the others about helping you get your friends out. What are their names, anyway?”

“One is known as Kite, the other Condor.”

“Kite and Condor?” asked Fen, finding the names amusing.

Rapture shook her head in mock disgust. “Named after the ancient birds of prey from the Old World…but nevermind that for now. You should get some sleep.” Fen found herself quite tired and decided to do as Rapture suggested, jumping to sleep on the floor before Rapture could say anything.

“By the way, Raz,” Fen said with a grin, “I’ll stick with you and help get Kite and Condor out – whether you like it or not!” Without waiting for a reply, she closed her eyes and was asleep within moments. It was to be the first of many, many more nights that they spent chatting until Fen fell asleep.
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The Amazing
May 17, 2006
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North Carolina
Part III
“As the leader of the Trade Federation your father was able to obtain many interesting items. As you know, he is a shrewd business man and a negotiator unlike any other. What you might not know about was his private fascination with relics. While the trade federation has a division for the exchange of relics and other “magical” artifacts, your father wanted a collection of his own. Since that was a violation of Trade Federation regulations, he secretly went into business with a Baron in the South, Ernst Vardell.”

There were several looks of surprise when the name of the water baron ( who had wrongly accused and sentenced Kabora to death for assaulting him) was mentioned as being a business partner with Mason’s father.

“I knew the water baron and my father were business partners”, Mason said with ambivalence. “Vardell was a key member of the Trade Federation because he is or was the only supplier of fresh water in the South as well as the strongest power in the region.”

“But the relationship went beyond that”, replied the king. “Vardell had a very large and very old collection of relics that had been passed down to the oldest male child of the Vardell family for many years. Roman Coal privately expressed an interest in obtaining a collection of his own. They struck a deal… Roman could gather the relics he wanted through various channels that he had available to him as president of the federation and Vardell would (on paper at least) buy them and store them with his own relics. In return Roman would use his influence to secure favorable deals for the wealthy baron for his financial empire. That way the relics belonged to Vardell on paper, and Roman could buy as many as he wanted without raising suspicion.

“These covert efforts did not escape the notice one man in particular… The Drake has many eyes and many ways of hearing. He came to Vardell in secret and with his powers of persuasion learned who was behind this massive collection effort. He came to your father as a representative of North Fort. His official business was to secure North Fort’s dominant position in the Trade Federation. His real business was far more serious.

“Through the course of many private discussions with your father, the subject of the omicri were “casually” introduced. Balantine wet his appetite for these relics, relics that have shown a natural propensity to incite lust in the hearts of men ever since they were made so many years ago. So without even realizing it, Roman began a quest that was laid out for him by the Drake. Roman would eventually be given an omicron in the guise of a trade deal, but its real purpose was to further ignite a burning hunger for the omicri in your father’s heart.

“Though he did not know it, the agents of the Drake had been searching for these relics for quite some time, dispatching agents to seek them out. We noticed that these relics were beginning to appear on relic trade markets all over the world. Owners who were not prepared to sell, often found unexpected visitors in the dark. In this way Balantine bribed and bullied the owners of the omicri all over the world to part with these treasures. Once the owner was prepared to let go of his precious relic, your father would be there to buy it having no idea that someone else was working to make these acquisitions possible.”

“How could such a large operation like this have been going on without my knowing about it?” Mason was finding this hard to believe.

“Your father was clever to hide his tracks. Had the trade federation discovered that he was using their infrastructure to embezzle these relics he could have been killed. Indeed we had no idea anyone but a greedy water baron was behind the gathering, and we did not think it necessarily bad. After all, the omicri needed to come together again.

“There is a great prophecy, made by the legendary relic of vision that the omicri would continually call to one another across the vastness of the world and seek to come together. The prophecy says that one day the reunion will occur and one will come to restore the omicri to their rightful places and the Great Gate that binds this world to the world of the ancients will be opened once again.

“We believed that this reunion was finally taking place. Therefore we simply resolved to watch the situation closely. We thought there would be plenty of time in which we could disrupt the process if necessary without any major disturbance to the Atem. After all, one can do nothing with an omicron or even a large group of them.

“As Roman began to build a considerable collection of them, his knowledge of relics and the omicri in particular grew as well. He had begun to seek out ancient texts regarding relics and their origins, which came through the hands of the federation from time to time. These he carefully bought through Vardell, and people were sought who could translate these documents. Many of the wandering elves (elves very much similar to Kabora) came to Daitly during that time to pour through the precious documents.

“We believe that not only did Roman learn of the exact number of these relics, he learned what their purpose was, and he was even able to gather a piece of the puzzle which had long eluded us. We assumed that Balantine wished to open the Gate and release the Darkness that is trapped inside the Atem. That would be the inevitable result of opening the Gate, but since the opening of the Gate is itself inevitable for the survival of the planet… the risk did not seem so great. We never had any notion of his real goal until recently.

“Our sources suggest that Roman received a strange relic directly from a small mercenary group. It was what we call an oracle, a relic with the soul purpose of relaying information, such as the legendary relic of vision that I told you about before. It was probably created by one of the last surviving ancients after the calamity. How the mercenary group got it, we cannot be sure. It contained details of the attack of the Great Darkness coming from the heavens not to destroy, but to meld with the Atem.”

“Meld with it?”, someone asked.

“As you saw from the Elder’s vision, the breath of the ancients flows from the gate to a point called the vortex. From there it flows to all parts of the world. By implanting itself in the vortex, the darkness could contaminate the entire Atem and become one with the stream. The ancients must have known that this was its purpose but as they were quickly massacred with the onset of the calamity, when all remaining peoples were scattered, we had never learned of this.”

“But you said the Darkness is now trapped in the Atem… is that not the same thing? And how could Balantine do anything about it?”, Kabora asked with rising interest.

“The Gate was broken during the attack”, the elder answered. “The omicri were misaligned and the Gate closed on the Darkness and trapped it inside the world of the ancients. The resulting shockwave virtually wiped out or buried all signs of civilization for most of the world.

“Yet you should know that there are forces active in the Atem that are designed to protect it from “infection” and the Darkness has been isolated and “walled off” from the majority of the Atem. Certainly it has corrupted a great deal. It acts now like a festering wound that cannot be healed as long as it remains where it is. We cannot open the Gate to release it, and it cannot break free on its own.”

The king nodded, “But what the Lord of Blackness could do with its strength alone, a lesser power might do if they were present around the omicri as they reformed their bonds and reopened the Gate. Balantine is not of Barteris. We sense the Darkness permeating his soul like a cancer.

“Because his native powers are derived from the Darkness, instead of the Atem, the Atem has greatly neutralized his abilities while he remains on Barteris. His strength increases in the domains of the contaminated portion of the Atem, but that is not enough for him. The oracle made it clear that the one who manages to gather the omicri together will benefit from the power that would flow from the reunion. And he has come to gather all of the omicri together and gain strength 100 times of what he has now. Then with that power he would break through the barrier of mist which was set to guard the foundations of the Gate.

“He wants to realign the omicri and reopen the Gate himself. He plans to be at the focal point as the vortex reforms. Then he would meld with the Atem. If this happened all power and knowledge that have ever existed on Barteris would be his entirely. He would control all of the relics, even the great legendary relics. He would see all things and know all things in this world. Those who have used relics heavily or have been infused with them would be his virtual puppets.”

“But he can’t have come close to collecting them all can he?”, asked Rapture.

“The eclipse that you witnessed as you entered the woods signaled he has merely nine more to go.”

“If he is this close then why didn’t you do anything before? According to what you told us before, he’s been here for fifty years or more. If this has been his plan for all that time, he must have given some indication to what he was doing!” Kabora seemed indignant as such inaction.

“I said we have known these things until recently. It took time to track down and decipher the oracle. He has been very clever, rarely has he ever had more than two of these relics in his possession until a few weeks ago. Everything he has done: establishing a base to operate from , slaying the returners who were likely to discover what he was doing, building up North Fort so they would be extremely powerful by the time he needed them to gather all of the relics together, working with so many collectors to ensure that too many relics wouldn’t be gathered together before it was time; all of these things have had other motives painted all over them.

“As the omicri gather, the Atem grows more powerful, as do relics and relic users. The Atem recognized Balantine as a contaminant and rejected his presence here from the moment he arrived. We have waged war at him through the Atem, spurring it on in its unrelenting, invisible attack on him. Kalai, which are sentient beings given life in the Atem, have constantly attacked and weakened him. He has had to gather the relics from afar and allow many collectors to have them until there were enough to begin the collection process. Once the process begins, he is committed for the attacks on him will increase steadily. The power of the Atem has more than doubled from what it was 50 years ago when he first came and he has to collect at least five more of the omicri before he will powerful enough to repel these attacks.

“That is why in the course of seven years Roman was used as the final tool to gather all of the relics that Balantine had managed to bring out into the open. Yet just when he learned of the full potential of the relics and guessed the dark designs of Balantine he disappeared suddenly. When he appeared nine months ago he was immediately arrested by North Fort on embezzlement charges. If you count the omicri that we know that he gathered, the total comes to 37. If you count the number of omicri that were traded in that huge relic deal that North Fort made with Vardell just over a month ago, the total comes to 36.”

“He hid one of them?”, asked the gun runner.

“Exactly Mason! Balantine had Roman arrested on trumped up charges in order to force the information of that hidden relic from him. We know that since then Balantine has recovered an heirloom of the Vardell family that we have confirmed to be an Omicron, but that was not the one that Roman hid. While his agents have been trying to track down its location, he is confident that Roman will tell you. If you try to remove him from prison they will capture you and use your life as bargaining material. If you manage to escape they will follow you to the relic.

“I believe Roman sent you the letter because he doubts that it will be safe for much longer. So you have a choice to make, one that affects not only you but the entire world. You may stay here and hope that Balantine will perish in his endeavor. You may go out and simply try to rescue your father, which would almost certainly end in catastrophe without a clearer idea of what is going on. Or you can try to sneak in unnoticed, learn where this relic is, and bring it here or some other place that is safer. We elves have waited too long to make our presence known with great force in the outside world. North Fort has grown strong with their new war machines that can harness the power of relics and the added legions of soldier they have conscripted from conquered territories.

“If you choose the latter, know that it will be perilous and you would still be forced to enter into North Fort a second time to then rescue your father. Only this time there will be no risk of letting the relic fall into the enemy’s hands. Also if he perceives that you no longer hold the key to obtaining the relic, he would leave your disposal up to the king, as the agents would be forced to go to where the relic is. All paths are fraught with danger, already his agents may have found where this relic lies…”

There was a silence in which Mason pondered over the options in his mind. It seemed to last for eternity. He had never imagined things could get this complicated.

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Fen opened her eyes and saw that there was nothing left of the Gate Keeper. She was sad because he seemed like he was only doing his job. She could still feel the burning rage of the dark man throbbing inside of her, though he seemed to have expended himself a great deal in that attack.

The blackness melted away around them until Fen could see the glorious sight of the Atem all around her. It was not like the stream in her dreams, this truly was the Atem in the world of the agents… indescribable.

Yet the scene was quick because, quick as lightening, the black man seemed to jet along a twisting and turning path so fast that Fen could barely see where they were going. Soon everything began to grow darker and she saw a growing blackness in front of her. Like a falling star they plunged into it.

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Fen opened her eyes. It was completely dark all around her but for straight ahead. She was in a giant bed, with curtains drawn all about but with an opening at the foot of the bed. She could see a small door opposite from the bed. She felt tired and weak and seemed to be hurting everywhere.

Suddenly there was a great explosion in the next room. The door shook violently and then everything was still. Then she heard foot steps outside of the room. She felt herself breathing deeply, but not the frantic breathing of panic. It was almost the way one would breath if they were asleep or wished someone to think that they were. The small door opened silently, a man in a dark cloak walked in and stared into the opening of the bed curtains where she was. What was going on? She did not like this place at all. Slowly and quietly the figured walked to side. She could not see what he was doing. Maybe he would leave her alone.

She turned her head to the side with her eyes wide open in anticipation. Still no sound form the intruder. Suddenly the curtains were ripped open. She wanted to try to get away but something was restraining her. “Not yet, not yet” she heard in her head. The man took out a knife. “Ok now”, the voice said but she didn’t need a voice in her head to tell her that. She started scampering as best as she could away from the assailant. But she found every movement to be extremely painful and her strength was sapped.

The man put away the knife and started muttering some threatening words. “Heart of darkness give me power.” She struggled some more. “Silence heart, rend flesh, dispatch the spirit to the pit.” Fen was getting frantic. The voice in her head said, “That’s it! He’s going to do it!” The room went completely dark.

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“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” Fen jumped up from her chair. The others were startled out of their thought. Following that first outburst she opened her eyes and her companions saw that they were green, just as they had been that in the wilderness so long ago. “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA”, laughed a voice that was not hers.

The elder grabbed his chest and sank to his knees. The king rushed to his side. “He’s… entered the stream… the keeper is… no more…” the elder collapsed. “Get a physician!” the king ordered. Several elves dashed out.

“Did you honestly think that you, with your dark arts could slay one who was trained bye the Heart of Darkness himself?” Fen continued in the man’s voice. “Just as you were used by the priests to do this, you have all proven to be most useful puppets.”

Fen stopped as if she was listening to someone, a smirk was on her face. “Forgive? Thanks to you I am free of the infirmity of the Atem for a while longer. While you sought to slay your true lord at the bidding of imposters, I have benefited. Come, received your masters reward!” At that moment Fen stuck out her hands and her gloves flashed with a brilliance that lit the entire room. Then she relaxed, smoke was wafting up from them. They had just absorbed an attack that would have vaporized that entire wall.

Then she did a most unusual thing, she got on all fours and started walking around like an animal.

“What on earth is she doing?”, cried Kabora.

“It’s another dream. She must have fallen into one while we were talking. Do not touch her until we can be sure what all of this means.” At that moment the physician came in and began attending to the elder. Sedril was behind him.

“He’ll be ok, he was just put under a tremendous amount of stress. We’ll take him… now…”, he had just seen Fen walking around like an animal, sometimes sitting to scratch her head with her feet or to lick herself.

Sedril saw her two and rushed over to her and laid his hands on her head. Instantly an image flashed with tremendous violence into his mind, knocking him down on the floor. “This is the Drake we’re dealing with here. We should wait to see what he is doing before trying anything.”

“She’s a little girl, not some radio for you to listen through. Make it stop before he hurts her”, demanded Raven.

“Pulling her out may hurt her just a badly or worse. Be silent and wait.”

Eventually Fen seemed to turn a final corner in whatever path she was taking and sat silently, like any cat would.

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“Oh its just the cat. You know I haven’t seen her around in a while. Not since the day of the separation.”

“She’s just getting over the death of the Archbishop”

“Ha! Then she now has five new Archbishops to spy for and a new High Priest on top of that”, one of them laughed.

“Yes, she always was spying for him, and he was always spying for the Drake. Or at least ready to do his will like a trained dog. See where it got him.”

“Where is Maldret? The attack happened fifteen minutes ago… I need to know when I should take a look around in that room. I’ll need to decide on the statement to give to the agents.”

“Why not your last will and testament?”, said a scratchy voice.

“Whose idea of a joke was that?”, the high priest demanded.


They turned their heads to the cat and knew the full measure of their blunder.

My attempt &^ the oppressive word wrapping of this forum.***

Fen slowly went into a crouched position and then stood erect. “Come now, where have the bold conspirators gone that I saw just a minute ago? Now stand still… all of you… and I’ll make this quick enough…”

Fen drew the dagger that was in her belt. Walked a few paces, “You know I thought I told you to STAND” as she said the word stand she drove the dagger down at the air around her knees. She pulled it back up and slowly walked to another spot. “Who is the trained dog now?” and she grabbed at the air with one hand and ran her dagger just bellow where here left hand was extended, holding nothing. She turned to the side, “You always boasted that pain could not touch you.” She thrusted her dagger away from her waist and pulled up slowly, “Now now, don’t scream so much, it is unbecoming.” Fen was smiling. “And you!” she spun around in another direction. “The eyes of the conspiracy! HAHAHAHA Incapable of seeing a perfectly obvious trap.” Fen jabbed the dagger twice at eye level. “I’m hesitant to cut out your tongue as well… I don’t think I’d like to have you cough up your degenerate blood all over me.” Fen jabbed the knife again and twisted and then struck down with her left hand. “There, you can cough it up on the floor.”

Finally she started to pace with her hands behind her back around a single point on the floor. “And now… High Priest...”, she said in a mocking tone. “I think you have given enough orders in your uneventful life….” She held out the dagger. “Take the dagger and then hold it.” The dagger dropped to the floor. Fen put her hands behind her back and paced away a few steps. “Why whimper slave? Have you so suddenly lost your taste for blood? Lets find out… clean the dagger. That’s right, with your” Fen suddenly started going through convulsions. The king had has palms extended out to her from a distance.

“What are you doing?” Sedril was incensed. He could give us more information.

“She’s just a child, she doesn’t need to see this. I wont have it.” The king continued and Fen started to shout in her normal voice.

“No! No! Stop it you monster! What are you doing? No don’t put it in your mouth! Run away from him! Oh my gosh don…..” then relapsing in the other voice once again. “Now shove. And try to fall backwards when you die, as you have killed most of my bodyguards I suppose one of the agents is going to have clean this mess up. Its best if you didn’t bleed all over the floor”, Fen said as she strolled away. She then broke into convulsions again.

“Sedril! Help me damn it!”

Sedril laid hands on her again. But this time he held on, suddenly his hair lit up in a bright glow, his body shown as if a bright light was shining on it. Fen look up at him then at the king and then at Mason she seemed like she was wavering between curiosity and panic.

Fen burst into full wakefulness, with the words ringing in her ear, “We will meet again little one…”

Sedril faded to his normal state. They all looked at him in surprise… he was an ancient.

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My attempt the oppressive word wrapping of this forum.(Later that day)

“My lord, what has happened here?”

“Just a small mess I need you to clean up number five.”

“As you wish my lord.”

“And then after you are done you can tell me about that breakthrough with the sylvan relic. I’m very interested to hear what you have to say.”
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Wolf star *

I walk alone.
Apr 1, 2006
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Standing on the edge of the universe
After the long day Mason had finely found himself alone after Rapture had departed.

Anger was not quite what Mason felt after leaving the Elvin kings gathering. Blood red furry was more like the expression he would have used to describe his nature at the time. Only Fuggs hand on his shoulder stopped him from leaping across the large Elvin carved table and strangling the ruling tree hugger. He was angry about the crazy nut job from the north, which was some how singeing the group out for execution. He felt even more anger about the idea that he was supposes to stay in hiding as some child, wile forces moved in to surround them.

He didn’t know if the tall tail about destroyers and falling stars had any merit but he felt deep down inside that there was some thing that he wasn’t seeing as if the Elvin king was holding something back from them as if they couldn’t handle all the information at once.

“Thinks we are children,” Mason cursed under his breath.

Mason made his way back towards his hut when Cambie had stopped in for a time but with a lack of conversation on Masons part he opted to find something more cheerful to do then watch the man rumble curses under his breath every time Mason felt his rage rising. Mason sat at the small table by a crackling fire, going over his maps. Being a stagiest he felt that he had finely figured out a reasonable way past the fortifications at north fort.

With a much needed sigh, he leaned back looking at the small candle flame flickering in the center of his scattered papers and untouched plates of food. Memorized by the soft flickers his eyes closed.



Mason lifted his head and rubbed his eyes trying to focus on a soft voice calling his name. He wiped away a small line of drool from his lips and looked for the source of the voice. After finding he was alone in his hut and the sun was still hours from rising he decided he must have imagined it and tried to fall back to sleep.

As soon as his eyes closed once again the voice sounded. Soft and sweet beaconing him,


Mason stood and reached for the door. Just before he touched the door it quietly swung open with out a sound. Out side there was no Elvin child’s playing and no torches lighting up the night. It was as if time had stopped completely. Thinking that he was still sleeping, Mason made his way around the village. Every hut and tree home was empty as if abandoned for thousands of years. Every thing was as if the people who lived there had just walked away with no sign of struggle.

A feeling an unholy ness and depression feeling into Mason’s very soul as he walked around the deserted Elvin village.

“Mason, the voice sounded again with no more urgency but rather with a childish laughter. A chill crawled over Mason’s skin making him shiver.

Mason followed the voice across the village and found a small hidden path that lead into the dark wood.

After he had entered the path he felt almost immediately the presence of others watching. The survival instants Mason had forged out over his life time had bells ringing in his head in warning. With out looking back over his shoulder he began to back up slowly only to find his path had disappeared completely. Mason felt that if he was sleeping then why was it that he could feel the cold wind on his skin.

His head snapped around at a sound coming from his left. Shadows played in and out of trees with surprising speed, he instinctively reached for his side arms only to be disappointed at finding them missing. He cursed at his mistake witch could mean life or death but kept his eyes scanning the dark woods.

A deep throated grow sounded from behind him. Mason didn’t spin around fast. He knew that such a move could be taken for an attack if moving to quickly. He turned ever so slowly and met with two yellow eyes watching him from the darkness. Mason slowly moved down the path away from the creature and found himself moving once again in the direction of the soft voice.

The creature moved into the soft moon light revealing a mouth full of razor sharp flesh rendering teeth. It large black fur covered body rippled with corded muscles beneath and with shoulders wider then most men. The savage looking wolf watched his every move but made no movement towards him.

Mason felt that there was more wolfs in the darkness and if they decided to attack there wasn’t much of a chance for his survival. But he felt that if he didn’t wander from the path they wouldn’t attack. That thought along allowed Mason to move one foot after another but he never turned his back or both eyes from the bear size wolf that slowly followed.

For another twenty minutes the wolf had not gotten any closer as long as Mason kept moving. Stumbling and crawling along in the dark mason managed to find him self in a small clearing.

Sweet burned Mason’s eyes as he watched the wolf brake from the path and volt into the dark woods leaving him alone once again. Mason didn’t know if he felt safe or if he should try for the path back once again. He had the feeling that the path was still guarded and what ever it was that had pushed him along was now behind him and what ever it was was more of a threat then the wolfs.

“Mason,” the voice called again softly from behind.

Wolf star *

I walk alone.
Apr 1, 2006
Reaction score
Standing on the edge of the universe
“Do not be afraid, I do not mean to hurt you. Come towards me.”

Mason could feel his hart beating wildly in his chest, stood looking at a slender robbed figure before him.

The fairy like voice sounded again as if all around him, coming from every direction at once, “Please don’t be afraid.”

The voice was soft and reassuring, and Mason found himself moving towards the figure. He knew he should be finding the fastest way of escaping but something told him he was in no danger.

“Please sit with me,” the shadowed figure indicated a spot and proceeded to make its self comfortable as well. “We are safe for now, time I am afraid is some thing we don’t have in quantity. Please there are thing you must know.”

Mason stood defiant, looking down at the place he was asked to sit.

“So much like your father,” laughed the voice light heartedly.

Mason some how found his voice again, he spoke with no anger, “what is this place and what is it you want of me? How is it you know of my father?”

“I know many things and your father is but one of the things I know of, please sit.” A thin white hand escaped the confines of the robe and patted the ground indicating him to sit.

Mason decided to sit, “what do you want to talk about?”

“You. You don’t remember me do you Arias,” the voice spoke sadly.

“Should I and the name is Mason.”

“I told your father I hated that name.”

“Who exactly are you?”

The figure reached up and pulled back the hood revealing the face of a beautiful woman in her middle years. Golden yellow curls fell about her shoulders accented with a forced perfect smile. She was a woman of remarkable beauty and Mason felt that he couldn’t look at her for to long before he was forced to look away. Her eyes were what Mason noticed the most, they were filled with hidden pain and tragedy.

“I am your mother, Arias!”

Mason was about to jump up at that moment and shout at her calling her a liar. Some thing stopped him. He looked into her eyes coldly, “my mothers dead.”

A tear filled the women’s eye, “So I would have you and every one else believe, including your own father. How do you think he found you, if I hadn’t given him clues through different sources? If I could go back and change things I would have never given you up. You don’t know how much it pained me to give you up.” She clutched her robes about her knees in frustration.

“Then why did you? If you say if you are who you say you are. Why would you and my own father leave me to rot?” Masons anger was gaining his better senses.

“If I didn’t you would be dead now along with your father and my self. I had no choice.” Just then she Broke into tears and fell into Mason lap sobbing. “The years I missed, I don’t blame you if you could never forgive me,” She cried and pulled on mason’s shirt.

Mason couldn’t help it; he felt pain for the women even if she might not be his mother. He quietly stroked her hair and waited until she recovered her self.

She quickly wiped away tears to regain some composure, “Enough of this time grows short!” pulling away from Mason. “ I have come for a reason.”

“And that would be?” Mason looked at her waiting coldly.

“You must wake my son, to claim your heritage. If not you and all of us are ended. You don’t know what I am, do you? Know of course you don’t, how could you know.” She looked away into the surrounding woods as if expecting demons to be hiding in shadows. She slowly stood and walked to the clearings edge.

Mason watched as she stood facing away from him, staring into the shadows her golden hair hid her soft features. With out looking back at him she began to talk once again. “I have come to give you what your father would never approve of my son. Something that belongs to you and your sister.”

Mason was struck senseless at the word sister. Could it be, did he have a sister who he had never known?

“This will not be easy for you to except my son but you must trust me.” She turned around and looked towards Mason. Her eyes turned to two liquid pools of gold, glowing with a sudden radiance of power. She raised her hand and small bolts of blue lightning danced and crackled from fingertip too finger tip.

Mason suddenly felt heavy and unable to move from the ground. His eyes filled with a sudden panic.

“This must be done, my son. You are in no danger.” She walked over to him once again and sat before him with eyes still flowing in a golden fluid pools. “give me your hand,” she begged.

Mason felt his hand was suddenly able to move.

“You must trust me my son, you are in no danger. It has been far too long as it is.” She gave him a smile that was supposed to be comforting.

“I want nothing to do with your filthy magic,” spoke Mason.

“It is not magic, my son. It is only a natural ability that you have and if not released soon, it could kill you and your sister.” She then reached for his hand. At her touch, Mason felt a suddenly peaceful.

“Now close your eyes,” She spoke softy.

Mason having no other option decided to follow her instructions. He relaxed him self and waited for her lead.

She began to chant softly and then Mason found himself starting to repeat her words as if he knew then his whole life, until they spoke as one.

“From the river of life we walk.
In life we travel the paths of Atem.
At deaths door we find are self, only to be born once more.
Guardian I am.
My guardian I seek.
Attend to me.
Attend to me.
We are the sentinels.”

“Mason feel its hart. It comes to you now. Feel the air with in its lungs.” Masons mother spoke but Mason continued to repeat the chant, entranced.

“From the river of life we walk.
In life we travel the paths of Atem.
At deaths door we find are self, only to be born once more.
Guardian I am.
My guardian I seek.
Attend to me.
Attend to me.
We are the sentinels.”

Mason felt a Hart beating with power. He could feel something coming closer to him seeking him out with great need. He felt it in his very soul. He felt as if a door had been opened. He then opened his eyes that now glowed with a radiant power of liquid gold as his mothers.

Around them dozens of wolfs had appeared out of the wood and surrounded them. The one that had chased Mason earlier now stood before him. Mason could feel his hart beating with the great wolf as one.

The wolf raised yellow eyes with a deep touted growl and howled towards the stars as Mason felt the need to shout.

“The sentinel has awoken” shouted Mason at the top of his lungs.

The wolfs body then shuttered and became transparent. It glowed with a blue inner light and leaped for Mason. Mason flung his arms out wide and felt the impact of the wolf on his chest. The animal pushed Mason over and disappeared with in Mason’s body, absorbed like the darkness absorbing the light.

Mason lay on his back and watched the stars above dancing and his eyes started slowly turning again too normal. He felt a loving hand on his cheek, “It is done my son. You are now one. Master and guardian you are sentinel. One sentinel is now awoken but we still need another”

“What is your name mother,” was all Mason was able to say. From the corner of his eye he could see her smile. “Dena”
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Feb 22, 2006
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somewhere... and Canada (eh?)
After being shot back into her body and the more-normal world, she collapsed back into unconsciousness from the shock of it all.

It was like being in that black ocean again… But there was no ice or friend coming to stop the incasing black coldness…. So hopeless… So alone… No up… No down… Not sure if alive… or Dead… Not even sure…. Who…

Who am I?

Then…. Somehow…. Like a light… Like a calling… there was an up… and was rising once more… back to the surface once more…. back to waking life once more…. Who am I?..... I am Fen…. I am scared…. So scared…. But I’m not done yet…..

Not yet…

Fen came to the surface, and was finally awake but she didn’t want to open her eyes… A part of her was afraid that she would wake up as the Dark Man… As Balatine.

“Fen?” said a familiar but worried voice… It was all she needed.. she was back.. She was Fen….. But what she saw.. what she felt and herd. Only now did her memories register in all its full, dark horror.

Fen’s eyes snapped open, but it was obvious she didn’t see through them. They were filled with terror… the stark terror of her mind reliving everything again and again until it would make sense to the now-eleven-year-old. Fen reached out blindly, until her hand clutched onto someone’s arm in a death-grip.. She didn’t want to be alone…. Please… she said without words… Don’t leave me alone… Whoever it was seemed to jump at first at Fen’s hand, but calmed down soon after as tears started to roll down Fen’s blind-but-but-seeing face.. Then.. Fen felt an embrace and… At least for now…. She knew she was safe.

“They aren’t really dreams… are they?” Fen said after a bit.. she was a bit more calm but her head was still reeling as those memories.. slowly but surely… started to sense.

“Probably not….” Said someone she knew she could trust… even after this time her normal eyesight was still being blotted out by the memory…

“Balatine… he tricked me… He knows me for sure now… and he tricked me…” She said, more to herself then anyone in particular. “I… didn’t know it was him… I let him come past the gate with me…. A… A gate keeper of some kind came… tried to stop Balatine with Tyndell’s memories… I don’t get it… Why was I thrown into Balatine’s head? How do I get in there? I don’t mean to…. I get pulled in… I was him.. I was the dark man…” Fen started to talk more quickly with another wave of panic at her own revelations. “I.. He... got angry. Killed the keeper… I think he woke up. The dark man woke up… Someone was trying to kill him. Balatine….” Fen raised her shaking hand and stared blankly as she remembered what the hands of the dark man did…. “He killed the murderer… The way I could… With MY powers… The guy.. the guy turned to nothing in front of our hand.” The tears rolled on… she was still clutching that friend as the rest of the memories came… “Others came. Balatine had a weapon. We killed them all.. They would do what he told him to do and then he killed them… and…. The last……” Fen let out a panicked sob as seeing the man shove his own dagger into his mouth. “Then pain… then light…”

Fen blinked as she looked up for the first time at everyone.. This whole time it was Raven who Fen had latched onto.. but it was the newest traveler who Fen set her eyes on…. “Sedril?” she said… “You… can glow? Just like those ancients.. like I did once…” Fen said giving way to a small, weak smile…“You stopped the nightmare… Thank You.” Fen said weakly.

Finally, the elven king stood up. “I think this child has seen enough for today. Would any of you care to take her to the infirmary?” he asked the others.

“I will.” Said everyone… all at once and at the same time… Fen had to smile to see that they worried about her…

The king nodded with a slight smile himself at the group’s concern. “Whoever takes her.. would you mind staying with her while the healers fully check her over as well?”

Fen, though her head was still aching, knew what ‘fully check over’ meant… and she definitely knew that she didn’t want the men to be there for that. “Umm… Raven.. Raaa.. Rapture…” Fen said, almost slipping Raz’s nickname again. “Can you two come with?” Fen said…. The men seemed to understand Fen’s decision and it was Rapture that scooped Fen from where she lay.


The healer left, saying the best thing for Fen right now was rest, and left Fen alone with her now-sisters… Even though they didn’t know it themselves… Fen may have been tired.. confused.. and sore from the top of her head to the tip of each of her burning fingers… but she still remembered what her and Raz had talked about not-so long ago… this would be a great time to talk about it even more.. but Fen .. Although afraid of the answers.. Had some questions she was dying to ask…

“Raven.. Rapture…” Fen said…. Reluctantly… “What.. did I do when I fell asleep? Did the dark man talk through me again?” She finally asked…

“Yes.” Said Raz.. upset, but deciding not to sugarcoat the truth…

“And…. What did you feel Raz?” Fen said.. wanting so badly to know… “Was it him? as it me? Do you know if were still separate in my head or the same? Did you see the dreams?” Fen said.. wishing.. that maybe.. Raz could have felt.. maybe more.. because.. Then Fen wouldn’t be quite so alone in all of this... Even though she wouldn’t wish what she had been through on her worst enemy all at the same time…

Wolf star *

I walk alone.
Apr 1, 2006
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Standing on the edge of the universe
“Dena,’ the name played across Masons lips quietly. He looked into her eyes then began to laugh.

“What is so humorous?” Dena tilted her head wandering what he had found so funny.

“This, all of it, it’s just so insane,” replied Mason. Mason now sat on his knees searching his chest for scratches and abrasions. What happen to the wolf he didn’t know and he didn’t know if he wanted to find out.

“Arias!” her voice filled with a sudden power.

Mason snapped his head towards her. The look of a death collector played across his face. Cold and unforgiving. Even with his Mother sitting there he still couldn’t forget years of training. He was walking death it’s self, mother or not Mason was a trained killer. The look from Mason’s narrow eyes stopped Dena stone still, as like facing any wild unpredictable animal. She could see the wolf in his eyes, the hunter jugging his pray.

“Mason,” she spoke again, “tonight you will change and hunt as have all others before you.”

“So what are you saying? That I am some kind of ware wolf. Next you will be telling me that Big Foot and Fankinstines monster are on there way to have tea. Perhaps we should invite the monster from the black lagoon or how about Dracula him self.” Mason crossed his arms over his chest and looked away thinking of other old monster vid’s he had watch in his youth from old earth that had some how survived long forgotten years.

“Ari…Mason,” she touched his arm lightly, trying to get his attention. “You will not change into a ware wolf or such silly creature. But I can not lie to you. it will be painful. It always is when it’s your first time. I can see it in your eye now, you must accept Mason! It could tare you apart if you deny it. You have not had years to prepare for this as have other as it was done years past.


The Amazing
May 17, 2006
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North Carolina
The great hall was a scene of much feasting and mirth. All of the king’s counselors, generals, lords, ambassadors were assembled. Not to mention the fact that there were other barons, princes, and foreign royals present with their grand entourages. War heroes, prominent businessmen, noble families, and many other noble guests were gathered. Calidon had called a great feast to celebrate his victory over North Fort’s mightiest foe of old. Hargon had surrendered without a struggle, its king was now his vassal, and his own consultants were at the helm of the once mighty nation.

Now the ancient stronghold of Trond was in his power. The foundries, the mines, the riches of the once mighty nation were his toys. The Drake had been correct about the nephew of Boris. Of course the official announcement made to the dwarfish people was that of a new allegiance, while the people of North Fort were told of a mighty conquest. Neither was true.

Draco had been sent back weeks ago and had agreed to rule as a puppet king, as opposed to dying a traitor. So when the armies of North Fort had arrived, there had been no battle. They were let through the great gates and had been put to restoring calm to the city as “keepers of the peace”. In reality they were nothing short of occupiers, and even that only required less than a tithe of might that Calidon had sent against his foe. The rest of the army was marching back, disappointed and robbed of the satisfaction of battle.

But the people of North Fort knew nothing about that, all they heard were tales of a legendary battle and a swift and crushing victory. Those few elite that new the truth, Calidon’s dinner guests, were content to hold the secret to themselves. For this would mean good fortune for them. Yes, the rumor of the might and wrath of North Fort would certainly keep the provinces in check and lead to an increase in their own prestige. As North Fort faired, they faired in like manner.

Yet secretly Calidon was disappointed, his new armies had gone untested. He had dreamed of the glory of the relic driver, mechanized warriors… the atrons. He had built the worlds most powerful navy based on this technology, boasted the world’s most powerful armies with this technology, and had even begun constructing air ships (an unheard of concept) that would expand his capabilities in interesting new ways. That was his fantasy, his lust, his mistress. Planning by day and dreaming by night for the grand conquest of the world.

But now he would have to wait again. He had no other foe to attack and his other plans were not yet ripe. But they would be soon. Very soon…


The Amazing
May 17, 2006
Reaction score
North Carolina
It was getting late and the guests had finished eating for the most part. They were enjoying the wine and the music and the mirth. A few of them noted that accompanying the usual strings and winds was a different instrument that had not been played in the palace for time beyond remembering. It was a piano and very few of them picked up the significance of this.

It was time for the king to make his speech, as was his custom for feasts. Trumpets sounded and the room was silenced. Only the piano continued to play, as according to plan. The king stood but did not say anything for a moment, rather he listened to the instrument. The guests noted that it sounded very lovely indeed as the pianist played a sweet, somber melody.

“My lords and ladies, most honored guests, it has been a day of great joy for us and for all our people. Our great enemy has been beaten down and collared like a cur to serve at our pleasure. WE ARE VICTORIOUS! Glory to North Fort now and forever, may the sun always shine on its greatness!” Cheers erupted.

“Yet in the midst of our jubilation”, the music was becoming more mournful, “a great tragedy has befallen us. I have just received word that our beloved friend and counselor, the most honored Drake of North Fort, has departed from this world.” The people were shocked at this unexpected news, several made audible gasps.

None present had been in the royal court longer than he. Only the oldest of them remembered the time of trial when the man Balantine first appeared after the sudden death of Calidon I and his son. The fighting had nearly led to civil war before he was able to restore peace and proclaim the nephew of the former king as the true heir to the throne, who chose to take on the name Calidon II. For that Balantine was given the title of Drake.

“His spirit will be forever with us, and his name shall never die. Great were his deeds in life and great will his name be in death. Preserver of the royal line, ever faithful advisor, and bringer of hope we will miss you.”

The wisest among them had no fantasies about that reign. Many knew that Calidon II was an inept ruler who did all but bow before the feet of this man that he called his advisor. Yet it was the beginning of a time of prosperity for North Fort. Under his leadership North Fort became the most powerful city state in the West.

“We will take the wisdom that you gave us and put it to the work that you have begun, unity will reign. The world will be whole again. Your dreams will not die.”

Still the young Calidon III was proving to be as shrewd as a serpent and had relied less and less on this advisor. It was becoming evident to some that there might have been some tension between them. Yet, it seemed that Balantine was no longer needed. Those who had known him felt now great sorrow hearing of his death. But he was legend to most and, due to his unusually long life, he was seen as almost a constant image of strength to the people.

Calidon went on with his eulogy and an unusual thing seemed to happen. A great feeling of sadness and loss began to steal over everyone gathered. Many started to weep, not knowing why they did. Calidon, who had little affection for anyone in his heart of stone, felt a tear role down his cheek. His voice cracked and he paused. What was happening? Then his ears fell upon the piano. The Drake had always hated the instrument and had been known to fly into violent rages upon hearing it. A piano had not been played within miles of the palace for as long as he could remember, or even in public places in the city. For this reason he had demanded that it be played as a subtle sign that the king was law in North Fort.

Yet the music now seemed to penetrate him to the core and pull out emotions of grief and sorrow that he thought he had killed long ago. Oh how he hated the detestable feelings and the music that seemed to carry them through the air. The affect was unanimous, people began to weep bitterly for no reason, until suddenly the music stopped. And everything felt normal once again. Everyone looked up as the pianist was seated casually on his bench, his legs now crossed, clapping loudly.

“A moving speech, I must say. I told your father often that you had a gift with words.” As the performer talked his voice seemed to change, his hair became grayer, and his features began to shift. “But there is no need to mourn thus. For your counselor is not dead.” The man unbuttoned his dress coat and loosened his color as his seemed to fill in. “Weep no more my friends, I am with you still.” And so it was that the Drake of North Fort “returned from the dead.”


Sanzo's girl
May 18, 2006
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Traveling West
Raven worried so much about Fen, But She didn't know just what to do or say that would make it any easier on her. Walking over to her bed side Raven took a seat upon the edge of the bed "I dont know how to explaine what had happened to you.. But someone or something had taken controle of you and... Well no one was hurt thats the main thing. Oh My dear sister... You need to rest now and I must go and speak with my father. I promess that wonce you are well I will give you you gift that I have been working hard on.. I think that it just may come in handy." Raven explained with a soft but still sad smile. Standing up, She bent down and kised fen on her forheasd and walked out of the room.

Once she was back in the gardens that she had spent so much time in when she first lived in these woods. Raven began to think about everything they had been told. There was just so much that she couldn't begin to comprehend and it was starting to take its toll upon her.

"Did you know that they wont let you shoot off a few fireworks off in these woods?" a fimlure voice asked.

Looking around the gaurdens She could not find any sine of where he was, "Alright Kabora.. You know how much I hate it when you sneek up on me like that!" she called out into the open.

The sounds of footsteps could be head\rd comming closer to her as he slowy revealed himself with a very amused look upon his face "Finaly she decides to talk to me! I was begining to think that your brother had finaly talked you out of what you said back on our jurney here" he replied in a serious tone. "No.. I just..well I ah.." Raven was flustered over kaboras remark wich made him chuckle " Hey, dont worry. im flattered really. I just really wasn't expecting such a thing ...considering that we hardly know each other" he began to say but stoped when he saw her lowering her head in despair "But i really would like to get to know you ...if you would only open up and talk to me!" he replied softly as he lifted her chin with two of his fingers.

"Realy?" she asked softly but Kabora only smiled as the space between them began to close in. They were mire inches appart when a deep throated cough took them by supprise. Before Raven could even say a word she saw kaboras eyes begain to grow dark with hate over Ravens brother who he knew was standing there looking at them. Thinking quickly Raven blared at her brother and before she could even say a word she brought her hand up and snatched the tiera off her head and walked directly over to him "Your NO brother Of MINE! And there for you have NO controle over anything I do, say or even whom I wish to be with!" she informed him in a ferce and very intemidating tone before tossing the tira at the Elven princes feet before walking back over to Kabora and glanced at him in such away that it ment for him to fallow her.

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