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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2002 5:08 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

* * * * * *
Sorotor and the others, accompanied by the Ranger, set out into the forest. They walked down a small path that lead down from the cliffs to the low woodlands. That is, most of them did. Knighthawk tripped and rolled down the path.
"Vhat took you so long?" he demanded as the others came to the bottom.
"We have to walk slowly in these robes, good Lagu," replied Alfred. "You must slow down."
"Very vell. I shall try to remember zat."
The group went on, the Ranger in the lead, Alfred and Knighthawk behind him, and Ferrah behind them. Sorotor stood farthest back; the wolves patrolled their flanks.
Now they were in the woodlands. Sorotor relaxed as he had not done since he first came into Holistrand. He was not truly comfortable in the cities of Men. But, even as he felt welcomed back by the forest, he became more alert. The woodlands, whether in Norcumion or Ardania, were places of danger.
A slight wind picked up. It bore a strange scent on it. He paused, sniffing at it. Phelan and Magnus stopped too, and howled.
"What is it?" Ferrah asked them. They trotted over to the northeastern corner of the party. They stopped, and howled again. They looked off in that direction. Slowly, their ears went flat.
"Vhat is it?" inquired the Lord Captain.
"Something they have never smelled before," answered Sorotor from the rear of the party. They all turned and stared at him.
"And how do you know?" asked Ferrah. Sorotor made no reply. Sighing, she turned to the others.
"I think he's right," she admitted. "It must be something they don't like, too." The wolves had started growling. 'I think we should see what's over there."
"The castle is that way," the Ranger said, pointing. "Dead north."
"Ve should not go out of vay zhust because two volves smell somesing zey don't like," argued the Lagu.
Alfred stood, irresolute. "I fear I agree with Knighthawk," he said, "but I also wish to confront whatever evil is out there. It is evil; I can feel it, and the sense is growing on me."
Sorotor stepped forward. "Let us go on," he said. "I will scout ahead."
"You!" said Ferrah and the Ranger together. The Ranger continued, "You cannot scout in those clothes!"
"Can I not?" Sorotor smiled. Lifting his cloaks and robe away from his feet, he moved swiftly by the two foresters. He made no sound, and soon he disaapeared in the trees ahead. "Guide them, Ranger!" his voice shouted back. "I know where you lead us!"
"How could he?" grumbled the Ranger. He jumped as the wolved streaked by him.
"Phelan!" cried Ferrah, starting after them, "Magnus!" The two turned, and stated at her, urging her to follow them. She did so, running to keep up with her four-legged comrades.
Soon she was out of sight of the others. Ahead she saw Phelan and Magnus stop. "What are you doing?"
"I called them, said the golden voice of Sorotor behind her. She spun, and saw the man in black.
"I heard nothing," she snapped.
"You would not," was his cryptic reply. "Please, allow them to run with me. They are creatures of the wild, and of the night, as am I." He paused, and seemed to study her. "As, perhaps, are you. But still, my need is greater than yours. I can do many things, but I cannot be in all places at once. I need them to help me scout the flanks."
"They did that before," she snapped.
"Ah, but they must scout farther out, beyond your vision."
"They will not leave each other," she answered, trying to pierce the shadow of his hood. "That is why I had to kep them near us."
"They will when I explain to them the reason."
"How can you explain?" she demanded. "You cannot communicate with them any more than I! And I have known them for years."
"You know not of what you speak," said Sorotor gently. "They will do this for me, but only if you give your permission."
"I will stay with you, then," she declared. Sorotor seemed to draw himself up.
"That I will not allow." His voice became lower, its melodic tone taking on a warning sound, like drums or trumpets. "I will go alone." His voice lightened, the menace gone. "But I wish your wolves' aid. They wish to give it. But not without your consent. Will you grant that?"
She opened her mouth, and stopped. She stared into her wolves' golden eyes. There she read that Sorotor's words were true.
"Very well," she said.
"Fear not, Ferrah of the Wolves," said Sorotor. "No harm shall come to them."
"I know that!" she barked. "They can take care of themselves!" She turned, and stormed back to the companions.
Sorotor watched her. He shook his hooded head. "Creature of the night am I," he said softly, "and so, my friend, are you." He turned to the wolves, communing with them. They stared at him, then ran off, patrolling the flanks of the company.
* * * * * *
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2002 3:55 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Sorotor moved through the forest. Away from the others, he had removed his cloak. He needed to have his eyes and ears unimpeded by its deep hood. As it turned out, however, it was neither his hearing nor his vision that alerted him to the fact he was being shadowed, but his sense of smell.
He wrinkled his nose. The odour was not a particularly unpleasant one, but it was strange. And pursuers who move without sound and give off strange scents are nothing to take lightly.
Sorotor smiled to himself. Whatever the creature was, it did not know the power that awaited it should it show itself. And he realized that it would soon do so. He tensed.
Suddenly, appearing from the shadow of the trees, a black-armoured figure stepped into his path. Sorotor stopped. Neither spoke any word of challenge. Sorotor watched, sad smile still on his lips, as the man silently drew out an axe and a sword from his belt. Sorotor whispered a word to himself, the word that would dispell the strong enchantment he had used upon himself.
* * * * * *
Alfred walked with the other three members of their party. No-one talked; even the Lagu could feel a growing sense of unease. The sounds of the forest seemed to fade; the Exorcist knew that this was a sign that all was not right.
"A dreary place," observed Knighthawk.
"These forests are not always this way," said Parker. "Now keep still."
The Ranger's warning was rather too late. A figure, apparently a man though it was impossible to tell, materialized in front of them. His gauntleted right hand grasped a battleaxe; his left, a sword. He was armoured in full plate mail, with a high helmet hiding his head. Armour, sword, axe, and helm were all formed of some dark metal.
For all the weight the armour must have had, the strange warrior moved surprisingly quickly. Parker and Ferrah had just notched arows when he moved forward, sweeping his sword before him. The Ranger's bow fell from his hand, sheared into two pieces. Before the Ranger could recover, his foe's axe sliced through his leather jerkin and into his chest.
Alfred drew his sword. He saw the Lagu dash up one of the trees, and Ferrah release her arrow. The arrow struck their opponent's armour, and snapped, the now-blunt arrowhead falling harmless to the forest floor. Ferrah drew her own blade, and together she and Alfred moved to confront their assailant.
It was all they could do to parry his blows. Ferrah was fending off the axe, taking care that its head did not strike her sword, for she knew that her blade would snap. Alfred, who was not as skiled as she, took several cuts in the first minutes of the fight. The Exorcist soon realized that he provided no more than a minor distraction for their silent opponent.
The Iron Warrior, for such he was though the heroes knew it not, fought on steadily, his strength unflagging. Meanwhile, the Exorcist began to weary, and even Ferrah showed signs of tiring. Then, the man (if man it was) made a move to finish them both. Locking hilts with Alfred, he swung his axe up over his head. This left him vulnerable, enough for Ferrah to slide her sword into his only vulnerable spot - his leather gauntlet. Her blade slashed through the glove, biting his wrist. The Iron Warrior ignored the pain, brought his arm crashing down upon her. Her sword, still buried in his gauntlet, was wrenched from her grasp. The axe fell upon her shoulder, cutting to the bone and breaking that. She fell back.
The Iron Warrior pushed with his left hand, sending Alfred stumbling away. The grim assailant advanced upon this weaker foe, as Ferrah's right arm was incapicitated and he deemed her no further threat. A hideous yell caused the black-armoured to look up.
"Vive l'Empereur!" shouted Knighthawk. The little Lord Captain was sailing through the air, rapier held before him. The thin blade passed through the eyeslits of the Iron Warrior's helmet, entering his eye. The ambusher fell to the ground with a ringing crash, the Lagu perched on his breastplate.
"Please," he said modestly, "zere is no need to thank me, for saving your life."
Alfred sighed, and was about to thank the :agu anyway, when a sound, deep and loud, cut across his words. It sounded like a trumpet of doom, summoned the armies of darkness to attack. It sounded like a gong, sounding the alarm of a city under seige. It was the niegh of a horse, filled with anger and fear.
He lifted his sword, preparing for this new onslaught. It was not long in coming. A tall shape burst into the clearing. It looked like a rearing horse, but it reared on cloven hooves, and its head was crowned by a horn. And, from the tip of that horn to the last fringes of its tail, the creature was the black of winter night. Astride this horse-like creature was another Iron Warrior.
The Exorcist's sword slipped from his numb hand. His face drained of colour. "Demons and demon-horses crashed through the Philosophers' faltering guard," he mumbled to himself.
Ferrah, seeing her friend stumble as if struck, ran to fight this new attack herself. Retrieving her sword, she held it in her left hand. However, as she neared the creature and its rider, she noticed something strange. The mount was trying to throw its rider! The Iron Warrior barely managed to keep his balance on the creature's back. Still, keep it did. Ferrah saw that he was trying to force something over the horned head of the creature.
His attempts to unseat his rider up to this point being of no avail, the creature suddenly threw himself to the ground. The Iron Warrior, surprised by this tactic, found himself crushed under the rolling beast. The horned horse stood again, panting.
The Iron Warrior rose unsteadily, drawing out his sword. The axe was missing from its sheath. He charged the creature, oblivious to the three companions. The creature put its horned head down. The Iron Warrior slashed; the beast parried. The sword swung again; again the horn turned the blow. Then, the horn was thrust inwards, the dark sword rebounding from its darker surface. The black, spiraled horn broke through the black breastplate, and the armour shattered. The Iron Warrior fell, dead, like the other of the pair.
The creature turned and regarded the companions with brown eyes. He seemed to smile, even as his flanks heaved from his exertions.
"Do none of you know me?" said the creature in a familiar golden voice.
"Sorotor?" asked Ferrah in amazement.
"The same." His smile became definite.
"I knew zat," declared the Lagu. He strode over to Sorotor, and looked up. "My intuition vas correct."
"As always, little one." Sorotor dipped his head to the Lagu, and his smile deepened. Sorotor walked over to Ferrah, his hooves touching the mossy ground delicately. The woman had collapsed, and Sorotor bent his head down to her. "You are injured, Ferrah of the Wolves."
"Nothing a healing potion can't fix," she mumbled.
"That will not be necessary," replied Sorotor.
"Hold!" said Alfred. Sorotor looked up, startled. The Exorcist held his sword in a trembling hand. "Do not touch her!"
"Vhat is this?" demanded the Lagu. "Vhy do you say 'hold'?"
The Exorcist glanced over to the Lord captain. "This is one of those beings that attacked us on the Night of Terror. Though it be many generations gone, we still remember in our histories and our tales. Black horses, with horns and cloven hooves, ran with the demon-armies that nearly destroyed our Isle."
"Your Isle?" Sorotor turned fully to face the Exorcist. "Your Isle? It was our Isle before ever the race of Men were conceived! We, too, remember; we remember the days when we could run from the northern cliffs to the southern, and every inch of turf we trod belonged to us. Then came your kind, with your cities and walls."
"Humans came to our homeland," said Knighthawk critically, "and ve did not try to destroy them."
"You are very like them, despite your difference in stature," replied Sorotor. "But we, the Unicorns of Meragny and Norcumion, we cannot live in cities. And when Men came, we were forced to withdraw into the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Isle."
"I am sorry," said Alfred, unexpectedly. He now leaned on his sword. "We did not know what we did."
"No." The unicorn's face grew suddenly sad. "No, you knew not what you did. And we were fools. For all that we could not live together, we could still have lived in peace. But we were jealous, and proud, and greedy for power. So, when the demonlords offered us both power and revenge, we accepted their terms. We aided them in their attempt to destroy. and we might have succeeded." He suddenly lifted his head, and his horn glowed darkly. "For all that our kin helped you, for all that you had Exorcists, we might still have triumphed. But we realized our own folly." His head sunk again, and the light went out. "We left you in peace, forswearing our oaths to the demons - for oaths sworn to evil are not binding. We retreated again. We were left with our colour, and our past, and still more power than others of our kindred. What were we to do? It was apparent that we must help redress the hurt we did you. So that is what brings me to you. I offered you my aid once. I offer it again." He ended then, and looked at the Exorcist.
Alfred shuffled his feet awkwardly under that gaze, but still he spoke. "You did that," he said. "But how can I know if what you say is true? What can you show me as a token of trust?"
"Remember the night in the Inn," said Sorotor. "I healed you then. Does the memory seem evil to you?"
"No," said Alfred, with wonder.
"Vell zen," said the Lagu in his brisk voice, "since zat is settled, perhaps v'one of you could heal zis girl? She is I think, in mush pain."
"Of course I will heal her!" cried Sorotor with a deep golden laugh. "Fear not, little one!" He bent his head to her once again, and pricked her with his horn.
She gave a startled cry, and leaped to her feet. She felt rather weak from loss of blood, but other than that, she was as sound as she was when she arose that morning.
 
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Raistlin, Archmagus



Joined: 08 Jul 2001
Posts: 1805
Location: Krynn, Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas

 PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2002 5:54 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Ferrah flexed her fingers in wonderment, and rotated her shoulder. Only moments before she had not been able to move it; now she felt as if she could climb a thousand trees and never tire. She looked to Sorotor and nodded, gratitude showing in her face. Glancing around, her face fell as she saw Parker. He lay motionless on the ground in a pool of his own blood. Shaking her head sadly, she knelt besides him, feeling for the life beat in his neck. The others watched anxiously. Ferrah stood slowly, and turned to them, shaking her head.
"He's dead." She said sadly. "A pity. He was good; you can tell by the way he held his bow. He would have been great, had fate spared him." Alfred nodded gravely. Knighthawk bowed his head sadly. Sorotor stared at the ground, shaking his head slightly. Ferrah walked a few paces from the ranger's body, and knelt on the ground. Using her bare hands, she started to dig. Turning to the others, she said, "Help me, would you? He deserves a proper burial, at least." All at once, the others came over, Alfred and Knighthawk using their hands, and Sorotor digging with his hooves. It wasn't long before the ranger's final resting place was finished. Ferrah being the only one of Ardania, she said prayers to Dauros, having learned that Parker worshiped the god of order. When it was done, they covered his body, and layed wild flowers on his grave. Alfred said a prayer to ward against evil defiling the grave. When they were done, they stepped away, each mourning in their own way. In silence they stood, not knowing what to do. Finally, the Lagu broke the silence.
"How vill ve find ze castle now?"
Ferrah was silent a moment before answering. "Phelan and Magnus will be able to lead us." Glancing up, her eyes darted around the area. Turning to Sorotor she asked sharply: "Where are they?" There was a tremor in her voice, noticable, though she strived to hide it. Sorotor looked to the woods, and waited a few moments. Soon, to figures emerged from the green. Ferrah gave a sigh of relief, and all but ran to them. They were all right, with not a scratch on them.
Light had started to fade, and Ferrah glanced up at the group.
"Perhaps we should rest for the night; Darkness will fall soon, and it might be safer to wait for the morning." Alfred nodded agreement, and thought Knighthawk spoke of going quickly, and no need to be frightened by the night, he too agreed. Sorotor hesitated a moment before answering; he too agreed. They set up camp, and kept the fire roaring, warding away night-demons. They agreed tot ake turns on watch; Ferrah volunteered for first. When they had all eaten, Ferrah retreated to the fringe of their camp, while the others retired to their bedrolls. Readying herself for a long night, she leaned against a tree, and thought.

**************************************************

In her mountain fortress Rosalina sat, gazing into the waters contained in a golden wrought basin. There the water rippled, and an image appeared. A young woman was leaning against a tree, and two sturdily built, furry figures were curled at her feet. Rosalina's lip curled.
"So, my dear little sister, what is it you are doing this time? Little traitor," she muttered. "There's more human in you than there is demon. Couldn't even get a simple fire spell right. By the gods, you couldn't even cast. It seems you inherited our dear father's abilities. Why you wished to learn them, I will never know." She waved a hand over the tub of water, and a different image appeared, an older one. Rosalina watched as Ferrah battled shadowbeasts in the inn she had stayed at the day before.
"I will admit though," she murmered softly to no one. "You are graceful with that blade. Use it wisely." Waving her hand over the water once again, she sighed as the images disapeared. Rubbing her temple, Rosalina thought.
Name of the gods, what am I to do? I don't want to kill her, but if that's what it takes...Damnit, if only she had been more like Mother. If only she had been more...demonic. She would be here now, helping me plan to conquer. But, of course, she had to listen to dear Father...The fool. Ardania would be mine by now if it hadn't been for him. Shaking her head to clear it, she called to Jasper. He came forward instantly.
"Yes, my lady?"
"Asign the guards and tell the troops to get some sleep. We march within the month."
"Yes my lady!" Jasper D'Valon bowed low, and retreated from the room. Rosalina smiled wryly, and retreated to her own chambers. Sleep was not long in coming. She fell into oblivion with a smile; Ardania would be hers.
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2002 7:15 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Ferrah stood and thought. Her mind turned on many things. The death of Parker; she had known him such a short time, but still she mourned for him. The nature of the black-armoured things which had attacked them: that was a truly disturbing thing. Before setting camp, both the Exorcist and the Unicorn had examined the two bodies. All Alfred could say is that they seemed to be no kind of undead. Sorotor had said somewhat less, that is, he said only that they were human in origin. Lastly, of course, was Sorotor himself. The revelation that the man in black was actually a type of being which she had never heard of before and which the Exorcist obviously held in a certain amount of fear, was by far the most astounding thing that had happened. She thought back over all the things he had said to her. Well, some of the riddles were explained. But Sorotor still wore a cloak of mystery, even if he had shed the one of black fabric.
Her three hours passed. Nothing bothered their camp. Judging by the position of the Moon, her watch was up. She went over to the campfire, by which Knighthawk and Alfred lay. Sorotr stood further back, apparently drowsing where he stood.
Ferrah rekindled the embers of the fire, and shook Alfred. The Exorcist woke.
"How goes the night?" he whispered.
"Nothing so far. My watch is ended, and you volunteered for the next."
"Yes." He gestured to where her roll was laid out. "May Goodness guard your rest."
"May the Gods keep us all," she replied, before drifting off to sleep. Her wolves appeared out of the night; they had been patrolling. They curled up next to her, showing no fear of the fire. Alfred assumed they had become acclimatized to it.
His mind, too, was preoccupied, though not with the same things as Ferrah's. Parker's loss did not overmuch disturb him; such things happened on journeys like this, and he felt assured the Ranger was receiving a reward for his valour wherever he was now. He did not worry about finding the castle; he had faith in Phelan and Magnus' abilities to scout. Also, he did not think too much on the nature of the men which had attacked them. Though they presented the Exorcist with an enigma, he was in a strange new land, and felt such things were to be expected. His mind was preoccupied with another enigma.
He thought over all the lore that had been gathered on his Isle about this race, the "Unicorns" as Sorotor had dubbed them. Nothing had been seen of them until the armies of some faceless demonlord had attempted to destroy their colony, many generations ago. There had been Unicorns - black Unicorns - who had fought for the evil armies, and fought powerfully. Only the strongest devils and demons were recorded to have outmatched them. These creatures of darkness had captured the Blessed Citadel, destroying much of the original city. The survivors had fled to Holistrand, hoping if worst came to worst to escape the terror by their ships. That was the Night of Terror, but it ended with a dawn of hope.
For
white Unicorns had come with the morning. With their aid, they held off the first wave of demonic atackers. The second, however, had contained some of the "hellsteeds", and it became apparent that the black Unicorns were far stronger than the white. Barely did we beat them off. Then, a prayer many centuries old had been answered. The Philosophers had long sought for some assurance that the universe was ultimately ruled by Good; that the was some authority above the feuding Gods. In the early of that day, the powers of Good were manifested. An inspired Philosopher had announced that he was the first of a new Order - the Order of Exorcists. Eleven other men had joined him, and together they banished the demons back to their abyss. Then the Philosophers' armies struggled back up the broken road to the mountain top, where the black Unicorns still held the Citadel. The black and white Unicorns clashed; the Exorcists helping with their swords. Slowly they fought their way into the city. But then the tide turned against them. The black Unicorns were prevailing, for they were not demons and therefore could not be Exorcised; they did not hesitate to use their power in combat.
Even as victory seemed imminent, it was being lost. Finally, the first - and, at that point, seeming the last - Exorcist was trapped inside the city. What he did then was not recorded, but the black Unicorns abandoned the Citadel, and the Exorcist came out unscathed.
The black Unicorns disappeared; so also did the white. Their leader declared that, though they would aid us, they could not live amongst us. We should see them only in time of need.

Alfred shook his head. So, one of our companions is one of the same creatures who attempted to destroy us all those years ago? he thought. Why should he come with us? I cannot trust him. Or can I? He has done much to aid us. He has shown himself to be on the side of Good. There is nothing to say he has not repented, and has joined us in our expedition, aiding me his foe, as an act of penance. OFor himself or for his race; I do not know how long these "Unicorns" live. He loked at Sorotor. The Unicorn stood still, head down, and apparently asleep. Alfred nodded. He knew, whatever the obvious conclusion might be, that Sorotor was sincere in his wish to help them.
Still, the revelation was a shock, and Alfred thought on it all through his three hours. Fortunately, the camp was not attacked; iut being doubtful the pondering Exorcist would have reacted in time. Indeed, he almost seemed asleep when the sound of hooves trodding the forest floor brought his attention to the present.
He looked up at Sorotor.
"I have come to relieve you of your watch," said the Unicorn softly. "Go, and take your rest."
Alfred studied the dark equine face. Suspicion stirred faintly, but he thrust it away. "Very well," he said, moving over to the campfire. The exorcist noted that it had again died, and knelt to relight it, but Sorotor stopped him.
"Nay," said the voice of the Unicorn, "I prefer the darkness." Alfred looked up sharply.
"Darkness is the sign of the power of evil," he murmured.
"Perhaps," said the Unicorn sadly, "but night was also once as innocent as any other time. While I am with you, it shall be so again. Rest." The exorcist obeyed.
The Unicorn trotted into the woods and turned to face the camp. His back was to the night winds. what thoughts crossed his mind that night, he kept to himself. Once, he smelt something in the air, and left his post to go deeper into the forest. He returned after a while, and at the appointed time awoke the Lagu.
* * * * * *
Rosalina was not the only wicked personage to take an interest in the party's activities. Deep within an ancient castle, Terone the Summoner sat hunched over his scrying pool. He had watched with nervous fascination as the group dealt with the first Iron Warrior, and had been stunned at the appearance of the black horned horse, who had dealt with the second alone.
The dark Wizard got up and paced. Having never been much good at combat magic, Terone had put all his energy into the art of summoning, calling up monsters to do his work for him. When the Conclave had found out just what it was that he was summoning, they banished him and put a bounty on his head.
So now he was building up a little kingdom of his own, inhabited by the creatures he conjured away from their own parts of the world. All had gone well, until the merchant-turned-ruler had shown up and founded his kingdom.
Terone had immediately acted to quell the rising state. His first attempts failing, he had delved into still more powrful summonings. Eventually he discovered the Iron Warriors.
These beings had responded to one of his random spells. He tried questioning them, but found they would not - or could not- speak. Examining them, he saw their plate mail was wrought of some unknown black metal similar to mithril and that it appeared soldered onto them. Their visors were sealed shut, hiding their faces.
His first attempts at learning about his new minions being unproduction, Terone hauled out a dusty volume on the fine science of telepathy. After a month of casting, he finally endowed himself with a rudimentary ability in reading thoughts. He then tried it on the Iron Warriors, who had stood immobile for the duration of his spell. He met with no success.
Giving up on communicating, the Wizard simply tried ordering them. It worked. So he established the things as his personal bodyguard, and spent most of his time after that trying to summon more of the mysterious beings. He met with limited success, summoning another three pairs; he had noted they always came in pairs. Another pair he kept with him in his lair; one he sent to guard his outpost in the abandoned castle near Montsalis, and the last pair he set to patrolling his domains. It was this last that had come to grief.
He was greatly perturbed at this turn of events. Not only had the most powerful creatures he had ever summoned (save for that lone Rock Golem) been destroyed with seeming ease, but he had two new and perplexing creatures to study. The little one with the moustache he dismissed as unimportant. But the black horse with the glowing horn? That was another matter. Even through the waters of the scrying pool, he could feel the power emanating from it. And he could have sworn that the creature had seen him somehow. He remembered those brown eyes seeming to study him.
However, he could not spend further time as his speculations. Alarming as a powerful creature accompanied by three skilled fighters on his way to his second major operating point was, he had a still more alarming figure in his great hall. He hurried out of his tower, rushing to meet the messenger of this Rosalina. He knew when he was outclassed, and even her errand-runner seemed more powerful then he was. Still, he knew something this fellow didn't. The Iron Warriors served him, Terone, and no one else knew how to summon them.
Still, a herald from a prospective ruler of the world was not one to be taken lightly, nor one to be delayed. He puffed into his sitting room, excuses on his tongue, and prepared to give practically anything away to keep on the good side of this Rosalina.
 
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Raistlin, Archmagus



Joined: 08 Jul 2001
Posts: 1805
Location: Krynn, Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas

 PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 6:24 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

The messenger was cloaked, cutting off all sight of himself. He smirked as Terone came totering in.
"Late, I see. My Lady would not be pleased." Terone opened his mouth in indignation. He had arrived barely seven minutes later then the messenger had arrived. He decided against speaking out - wisely - and asked instead why the messenger was there.
"I come on behalf of my mistress, the Lady Rosalina. She wishes to bear an alliance with you." The messenger pulled his hood away, revealing a nearly bald head, except for a green-blue stripe of spiky hair across the top of his head. His skin was a light green, and his eyes were strangley shaped; the pupils were moving, always, almost like the sea itself. They were colored so darkly it seemed to actually by the waters of an ocean during a storm. Terone gasped; the messenger smirked. It was his greatest pleasure to disturb people.
"What by all the gods are you?"
"A Siren," the messenger said simply. He said no more, leaving Terone in an uncomfortable silence, despite his curiosity.
"As I said, I am here on behalf of Her-Soon-To-Be Majesty, Rosalina. She feels that your powers would come in handy."
Terone opened his mouth again to speak, but was interupted.
"She wishes to use the creatures you summon for her own purposes. She searched far and wide for someone of you abilities; tested and re-tested those who served her. Finally, she came across...you." He said the word contemptuously; Sirens were a very proud race. Terone brought himself up, his nostrils flaring. One icy glare from the messenger put him "in his place."
"Do you give your consent?"
Terone thought for a moment. It would be good, to serve the possible future Queen of Ardania.
"I do."
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 10:04 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

It was dawn. Knighthawk stood over a bubbling pot, stirring with a ladle he had rummaged out of Ferrah's packs. Sorotor came, and bent his head over the Lagu.
"And what is this you are brewing?" asked the Unicorn.
"A healthful stew, made to my own recipe," answered the Lord Captain proudly. He turned to look up at his early-risen companion, still stirring with his left hand. "It is a surprise for ze osers. Vould you care to have ze taste?"
"I think I would rather not," said Sorotor. The healthful stew looked curiously like a festering swamp. The Unicorn moved away. "It has been long since I tasted grass. If you will excuse me, I shall find some."
"Funny fellow," murmured the Lagu. Ferrah stirred, as did her wolves. Magnus sat up and sniffed. He then laid his ears back and growled.
"What is it - what is that?"
Ferrah said, wrinkling her nose. Knighthawk beamed.
"Doubtless you smell ze appetizing aromas of my healthful stew. It shall be finished shortly."
"Ugh-ahem." She narrowed her eyes. "Is that my ladle?"
"Yes, it is," said the Lord Captain, looking at the ladle, which he had pulled forth from the pot. A glob of the healthful stew fell loose with a sucking sound, and plopped back into the caldera.
"And my pot?" she rose threateningly from her bedroll. Knighthawk, in order to stir the pot, and set it down amidst the flames, rather than suspending it. The bttom was becoming quite back.
"Yes. I vas actually admiring ze craftsmanship, you know, vhen you fixed dinner last night. So I sought, nashurally, being a master chef myself, I vould show you how it vas done-"
Alfred sat up with a groan. "What is that smell?" he asked.
"It is a healthful stew - ah! It is finished!" Knighthawk dropped the ladle into the pot. The ladle slowly began sinking into the healthful stew like a log into quicksand. Knighthawk grabbed three plates from Alfred's pack. The exorcist watched in mounting consternation as the Lord Captain rescued the ladle, and shook loose blobs of the healthful stew onto the pewter plates. He then sat the plates on the ground.
"Enzhoy!" he said happily. He produced a set of silverware from somewhere about his person, and stuck a fork into his portion of the healthful stew.
Alfred looked around wildly. His eyes fell upon the wolves, who were sniffing at a goblin corpse. He sprang up.
"Knighthawk!" he said. "What is this? Were we attacked? And where is Sorotor?"
"I am here." Sorotor stepped back into the grove. "Did tthe Lord Captain fail to tell you of his exploits?"
"I did not vish to ruin zere appetities, talking before breakfast," said the Lagu. He set his plate aside with a sigh, leaving the fork to be slowly absorbed. "However, if you vish, I shall recount ze night's activities."
Ferrah set her plate aside as well. "Do so."
"Vell, it vas shortly after I came on vatch," Knighthawk. "Several dozen goblins set upon our camp. Since I could deal vith sush a minor problem myself, I saw no need to vake you."
"You should have," said the Exorcist, standing. Discreetly he began to gather up the plates.
"I am afraid the Lagu was not the only one to deal with goblins unaided," said the Unicorn. "I, too, fended off a scouting party, though not one so large as that described by our Lord Captain."
"Vell, ve cannot all have ze good luck." Knighthawk stood, eager to continue. He was quite oblivious to the fact that Alfred was scraping the healthful stew into the fire, where it burned merrily. "Let us conitnue! Onvards anbd upvards to ze top!"
 
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Raistlin, Archmagus



Joined: 08 Jul 2001
Posts: 1805
Location: Krynn, Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas

 PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2002 4:38 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

"Ugh."
The companions were waiting at the campsite as Ferrah found a stream to clean off her things in. She had also taken Alfred's plates with her; no point in making two trips, she had said. Now she proceeded to scrape the healthful stew out of the half-burned pot, muttering half-heartedly about all the 'fun' things she could do to annoying Lagi. She had left her wolves in Sorotor's care for the menial task; there was no point in having them come.
Sighing, she put the pot to the side, and picked up the ladle. Looking at it, her lip twisted. There was almost no point in trying to wash it, but it would be needed again in their journey. Sighing, she dipped it into the water.

The air turned cold. Ferrah froze, barely daring to breathe. She knew who stood behind her without turning. Drawing herself up, she said, "Sister. What brings you here? Have you conquered the world without my noticing?"
"I come to warn you," Rosalina said, her tone icy. Ferrah turned.
"Warn me? Of what?" Ferrah's voice was likewise menacing.
"Ardania shall be mine. Do not get in my way. Do not make me harm you, Little Sister."
"Don't call me that. And if I am forced to get in your way in order to stop you, then that I shall. I made a promise to Father. I will not let you win."
"I thought that pact died with him." Ferrah glared daggers at her sister.
"He would not have died if it weren't for you-"
"And Mother would be here as well if not for you. So it seems we are both guilty in this matter." Ferrah lowered her head.
"And not a day goes by that I don't regret my actions. I have repented a thousand times over, and still I am not forgiven, nor will I be. And neither are you, Rosalina."
"But I will have no need of repentance when I am ruler of Ardania. And I will not be stopped."
"Why are you here?" Ferrah asked exasperatedly, tiredly. Her eyes were sad and pain filled, remembering a time long past.
"You are attacking a castle close to here; I warn you not to. The man controlling it-"
"The man? You mean there's a human controlling those monsters?"
"The man controlling it is my servant," Rosalina continued, as if her sister hadn't interrupted. "It would not do for you and your companions," she paused, thinking back on what she had seen of her younger sister's companions. They had seemed quite formidable opponents. "To attack his castle. He controls powerful monsters, some of which I hear you have met already. Be careful." the last she said gently, almost sounding sisterly. Ferrah looked up, and took a step closer. Suddenly, Rosalina's lip curled in a smirk. She vanished. Ferrah sighed slightly, brokenly. She knelt down again to scrub the ladle, and dashed a tear from her eye.
Every time, She thought. Every time.
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2002 2:26 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Some minutes later, the Exorcist came down to the stream.
"What happened here?" he demanded, panting.Ferrah looked up.
"Why - nothing," she said quickly. "What should have happened here?"
"I felt a great evil," said the Exorcist. He came down beside her. "Sorotor felt a strong magic. He stayed behind, with Knighthawk, and I came to see if you were in danger."
"No, no danger," she said. She blinked. Alfred looked at her face.
"You are crying!" he exclaimed. she did not respond. Rather, she bent down to finish cleaning the ladle. The Exorcist drew her up again.
"You need not tell me what occurred here," he said, gently. "But we must go. Forget the ladle." He looked at the plates and pot, which Ferrah had cleaned as best she could. He smiled. "Ah me! Our little Lagu made quite a mess, did he not? Come." He gathered his plates, turned and walked back up the bank.
Ferrah sighed, and picked up the pot. she dropped her ladle into it, and followed the Exorcist.
* * * * * *
Terone brooded over his scrying pool. The crystal water was held in a graceful marble basin, and could reveal anything. Supposedly it could even pick up sounds, but Terone had never learned how to control that. It was one of the artifacts he had stolen from the Conclave.
At the present moment, the Summoner had it focused on the companions' campsite. The exorcist and woodswoman had returned, and now they were packing. He moved the image around their camp. He drew back in shock as he saw a charred blob on the remains of the campfire, and sighed when he came to the corpses of his fallen Iron Warriors. Those, he now realized, had not been his only casualties. A score of goblins had been patrolling the area, but they had all met their end, either at the wolves' teeth, or the Lagu's rapier, or the Unicorn's horn. (Not that Terone had any idea what the horned horse the moustached midget were.)
Terone shuddered as the companions left the clearing. Before noon, they would be at his outpost. If they continued for another day after that, they would be at his castle.
* * * * * *
The companions had been walking at a good pace. Sorotor strode smoothly ahead of them; the plants in the forest seemed to clear a path for him, allowing the Exorcist, Ferrah and Knighthawk an easy trail. Magnus and Phelan were aheaad, scouting. Sorotor seemed to know where they were; he guided the others without hesitation.
Shortly before noon, the Lagu stopped. Although the Lord Captain had managed to keep up, his shorter legs made it a tiring task.
"Vhat do you say ve stop here," he drew in a deep breath, "and rest for a bit?"
"Very well," said Alfred. He smiled at Ferrah. "Would you mind fixing us lunch? We seem to have not broken our fast, and I am very hungry."
"I am sorry to disappoint you," said Sorotor, pacing over, "but I fear I cannot allow fires to be set." He turned his head to Ferrah. "Your wolves have found the castle, and we are very close. It would not be wise to alert them."
"All right," she said, as she took food from her packs.
Some fifteen minutes later, they went on their way again. The ground started to rise. There was a crash in the brush ahead of them - the trees were thinner here, and there was more undergrowth - and the two wolves came in among the party.
"Phelan! Magnus!" Ferrah knelt down as they came running up to her.
"That is a sign the castle is close." Sorotor smiled gently down at the trio.
"Ah yes," said the Lagu, "I knew zat somesing vas drawing nigh. My instincts told me all along."
"I'm sure they did," muttered Ferrah as she rose to her feet. She unslung her bow and fitted an arrow to it. "Well? What are we waiting for?"
"Softly," said Sorotor. The light-stepping Unicorn led them out of the forest. Before them loomed the tower and walls of the castle. The place had an empty, abandoned atmosphere, but something told the travellers it was not unoccupied.
 
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Raistlin, Archmagus



Joined: 08 Jul 2001
Posts: 1805
Location: Krynn, Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas

 PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2002 6:01 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Aiming at a high up cracked stone, Ferrah let loose the arrow. The stone crumpled, pulling a few other blocks down with it. The companions backed up a bit to avoid the crumbling architecture. Knighthawk drew his rapier.
"Vell? Let us get on vith it!" He slashed at the crumbling stone. Alfred drew his own sword, and Sorotor attacked with his horn, while Phelan and Magnus went at it with claws and teeth. Suddenly, Ferrah cried out.
"It's another one of those things!" she yelled. She trained an arrow on one of the Iron Warriors, aiming for the eye slits; she remembered her last encounter with the unknown foe. Drawing back the string, she let loose the bolt. Its flight was true; but the Iron Warrior turned at the last moment, and the arrow sailed straight by, embedding itself in a tree. Strapping her bow to her back, Ferrah drew her sword, and readied herself for the hard battle that was sure to come.

Rosalina watched in the basin at her side as the companions readied themselves for battle. Her lip curled. They had defeated the Iron Warriors once; they would not be so lucky again. Even as she thought so, Rosalina's face saddened, and she knew that if Ferrah died now, even as Queen she would grieve. Sighing, she banished the image. She had no time to think on this now; the time to march was coming soon, and she needed to train her newest groups; the creatures Terone had summoned, and the Sirens and Dryads she had recruited. Her army was large and still growing.
Ardania will be mine. She thought It will.
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2002 12:28 am    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

* * * * * *
The Iron Warrior leaped down the steps, axe and sword held ready. The steps crumbled beneath his metal-shod boots, but strangely they struck no sound from them. It landed on the ground, and swung to face the companions, who were arrayed against the wall.
Alfred stood between it and Ferrah; grimacing, he drew out his sword. The iron Warrior rushed silently at him, swinging its weapons. It was all the Exorcist could do to keep from being disarmed; in a minute he had four cuts already. Then Ferrah was at his side; Magnus and Phelan were behind the Warrior, trying to find purchase on his armoured back.
The Iron Warrior gave no heed to the two wolves. With two opponents, it used much the same tactics as had the previous one, although this time the axe was trained on Alfred; the sword flickered before Ferrah. The black blade, indeed, almost struck her, but a two-handed rapier swing thrust it aside.
"A Lagu to save ze day!" cried Knighthawk philosophically.
Sorotor was the furthest back from the original assualt. Having learned something from the ambush, he moved back from the wall. And just in time; another Iron Warrior had leapt from the walltop and now landed on the ground. In spite of the fourteen-foot drop, the thing seemed unfazed, rising to its feet. The black-headed axe and the dark sword glittered as they were drawn out.
Neither the black Unicorn nor the black-armoured man wasted any time on formalities. The Iron Warrior charged forward. Sorotor reared; the Warrior feinted to the left. Sorotor pivoted, and brought his hooves down on the thing's helmet.
* * * * * *
Terone flinched. He was using his scrying pool to watch the combat, and he imagined those hard-looking hooves descending on him. He shuddered.
He noticed, though, that his Warrior was apparently undamaged, save for a dent in his helmet. The two began moving too fast for him to follow then; he could not seperate hves from axe, or sword from horn.
He turned his attention back to the other Warrior, and he gasped. The three were holding their ground, if barely. The man in blue robes was badly cut up, but the skill of the woman and the midget were allowing him some time to recover.
Terone shook his head. It was amazing that the midget's rapier could even survive contact with the Warrior's sword (which Terone's tests had shown to be as strong as mithril), much less draw blood. But it had; the little creature had pricked the Iron Warrior's hand through the glove.
In return, the black-armoured man swung his axe in a complicated manner. The end result was that the midget went flying through the air, his rapier embedding itself in the keystone of the arch of that tower's doorway. At the same time, however, the Iron Warrior swayed. Terone saw in alarm that the white wolf had bitten through the leather boot, and into the tendon of the fighter.
Hamstrung, the Warrior began to fall. The woman managed to slip her sword through his visor. The Iron Warrior slumed to a sitting position, but still he fought on. With a cry, the blue-robed man also plunged his sword through the visor. The Iron Warrior fell, limp as possible in his unyielding mail.
* * * * * *
Sorotor, too, had finished his Warrior. The Unicorn breathed heavily. There was a gash along his flank, and blood dripped from under his mane. Stil, he was better off than his foe. The helmet had been crushed by repeated blows from the Unicorn's cloven hooves.
"Welcome to the castle," he gasped, coming to stand by the Exorcist and Ferrah. Alfred face hardened momentarily, but his face quickly softened. He knelt, unmindful of his robe, and examined the Unicorn's wound. He laid his hand upon it.
"What do you do?" asked Sorotor, pride bringing the faintest bit of disharmony into his melodic voice. He swung his head to look at the Exorcist. Alfred looked up, compassion in his face.
"You healed me once, as I recall," he said. "Allow me to return the favour."
Sorotor loked at the man consideringly. "Very well," he said softly.
Alfred murmured a prayer, and gentle white light spread from his hands. The Unicorn sighed in surprised pleasure as his wounds closed.
"Thank you," he murmured. Alfred smiled.
"Vhat about me?" demanded Knighthawk shrilly. The Lord Captain hung from his sword, which was still thrust into the keystone of the arch.
"What about you?" asked ferrah, with something of amusement.
"Get me down!"
Alfred sighed. He walked up the stairs to the arch, and grabbed the Lagu's dangling legs.
"Hold tight," he said. Knighthawk grasped his sword. Alfred pulled. Down came the Lagu, down came the rapier, down came the keystone, and, with a faint crack, down came the tower.
The Lord Captain and the Exorcist barely threw themselves out of the way as the ancient masonry crashed about them. Fortunately, none hit them. Or was it fortune alone? Sorotor smiled, and a faint light glowed in his horn.
"Good work, Knighthawk," said Ferrah. "She stared at the gaping hole.
"My pleasure, mademoiselle," he flourished her a bow. "Vould you care to enter?"
"'Oo said you could enter?" demanded a crude voice. Several dozen goblins appeared in the dusty gap.
 
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Raistlin, Archmagus



Joined: 08 Jul 2001
Posts: 1805
Location: Krynn, Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas

 PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2002 2:42 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Ferrah sighed.
"Goblins," she said, sheathing her sword and dropping back as she pulled out her bow and notched an arrow. "I hate goblins." Accompanied by her statement was vicious growls from Magnus and Phelan. Alfred drew back as well; he had not yet been able to recover from the previous battle. Knighthawk and Sorotor stood in front, ready for the attack.
"Leave now," the goblin leader said crudely. "Or die."
"I sink not." The Lagu darted forward brandashing his rapier, and felled a goblin before he darted back. Ferrah let loose bolt after bolt, and Alfred was able to attack an unobservant goblin. Sorotor was attacking with hoof and horn, and the wolves bit and tore. Soon all but one was dead. Looking over his shoulder, he called out in his gutteral language. When he looked back at the companions, he was smiling a gruesome smile.
"You'll die here!" he cackled.
Notching an arrow, Ferrah looked at him grimly.
"I think not." she let loose the bolt as Alfred ran it through with his sword. When it was over, Alfred grinned.
"That was easy," he said. Ferrah frowned. "Too easy," she said ominously.
A sweeping sound came from inside the castle.
"A good guess," came a strange voice. "Ve vill fight now, yes?" A vampire jumped from the shadows, fangs and claws bared. Knighthawk leaped back, narrowly missing the vampire's claws. Ferrah fired at it, but when the arrows came within striking distance, they stopped midair and dropped to the ground.
"There's a sheild around it," She muttered. Drawing her sword, she moved up with Alfred. They circled the vampire until it lashed out at Alfred. he parried and jumped back, then came in, ready to strike. As the vampire turned to Ferrah, the Exorcist struck it's side. Hissing, the undead whirled. Alfred prepared to banish it, stepping away lightly. Ferrah sliced at the vampire, drawing it's attention away from Alfred. It was enough.
"Be gone, demon!" White light exploded from his hand, striking the vampire. It hissed, and then was gone. There was silence for a moment, and then the sounds of nature returned to the forest. Sighing in relief, Ferrah sheathed her weapon, and looked at the others. She had fared well enough against the Iron Warrior, and was good to go on; Alfred, however, didn't look to good. Concerned, Ferrah pulled out a healing tonic and tossed it to him. Surprised, he caught it, and looked at her quizzickly.
"No use in having Sorotor heal everything," she smiled and winked. "Go ahead, I have plenty more." peering inside the wreckage, she pulled an arrow from her quivour. "And now, perhaps, we should see if there is any treasure to be had. Smiling, she entered the ruined castle, followed closely by the others.
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2002 4:41 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

* * * * * *
The companions poked and prodded around the castle's rubble-strewn courtyard, finding nothing of interest. Alfred went off to investigate the southeast tower (they had entered through the southwest; the castle had one at each corner, being built on a square plan), claiming that he could feel the evil of undead coming from it. The others all went to the northwest tower.
* * * * * *
Zaracas was Captain of the Minotaurs at Castle Karl. He and his nine fellow guards had been disturbed by the sounds of fighting and falling stone coming from above. However, they could not abandon their post, which was to guard the castle's treasure vault.
The minotaurs shifted their ears as they heard footsteps on the stairs leading down to their cellar.
"Maybe it's Karl," muttered Zaracas in his own tongue.
"If so, the old pointy-tooth has found some new footwear," grunted his lieutenant. "His sandals could hardly make such a racket.
"Open zis door!" said a voice from beyond their post, "at v'once!"
"It sounds rather look him," admitted the lieutenant. He gestured the minotaur nearest to open the oak door. The ten guards stared at the small shape revealed by their torches. The leiutenant snorted. "It certainly doesn't look like him, though."
"Vhat vas zat?" said Knighthawk suspiciously. Although he knew several languages, the speech of the bullmen was not one of them.
"Get out, midget," growled Zaracas in Ardanian. "Tell that moron of a vampire we're tired of the cold down here! We want some air!"
"Your vampiric friend is dead." Ferrah appeared behind the Lagu. "Again, I should say." Together, the two charged the minotaurs, who readied themselves for defense. Three of them met Ferrah; the lieutenant included. The others tried to intercept Knighthawk; but the Lagu was both small and fast, and eluded them, inflicting minor wounds which did little to hurt them and much to infuriate them. The Captain was the only unoccupied minotaur, so he it was that received the shock of his life. A horse with hooves cloven like his own and a horn, flanked by a white wolf and a black. The wolves darted for Ferrah, where they aided her in pulling down her opponents. Sorotor looked straight to Zaracas.
"Are you the leader?" asked the Unicorn.
"I am, if Karl is dead," replied the minotaur. He hefted his over-sized twohanded sword. "Whatever manner of beast you be, I shall slay you for your intrusion!"
"I am a Unicorn." Saying this, Sorotor put his head down and charged the minotaur. He reared up as Zaracas swung, though; the sword missed and the horn plunged down.
Soon the room was cleared. Ferrah and her wolves were unharmed, amazingly; Sorotor, however, was not. After defeating Captain Zaracas, two other minotaurs had came out him, one from either side. He won handily, but not before one had buried an axe in him. As for Knighthawk, he seemed well enough, being busily engaged in picking the lock to the treasure vault with his rapier.
Ferrah came over to the Unicorn. "Need some help?" she asked.
"Indeed, yes," gasped Sorotor. The axe-wound had been nasty, and Sorotor's golden voice was coked by the blood in his throat. Hurriedly Ferrah brought out a healing potion, but the Unicorn shook his head. Even considering the pain he was in, his eyes still sparkled with laughter.
"I cannot - drink - out of a flask," he said. Ferrah looked about, and, as luck would have it, found a clean bowl. Sorotor guzzled the potion, and his wound healed. After coughing up the blood in his throat, he trotted over to the Lagu.
"Allow me," said the Unicorn, and smashed the door down with a kick.
"Zat vas unnecesary," remarked the Lagu. "I almost had it anyvay."
* * * * * *
Alfred, meanwhile, had had a much easier time. The tower did have undead in it: two skeletons, one of which Alfred exorcised, the other he chopped in half. He had entered the room they were guarding, and it was the vampire Karl's resting place.
Most of the evil aura, it seemed, came from a talisman left there, probably by the vampire. After secreting the unholy artifact away to be destroyed later, Alfred searched the tower. He found several things of interest, particularly a map, showing the whereabouts of other monster lairs under the domination of someone called "Terone".
The Exorcist descended to the courtyard, where he met the others, coming treausre-laden up from the cellar beneath the noprthwest tower.
"A profitable venture," observed the Lagu, "especially considering the five-hundred gold revard ze King vill give us. A mershant should alvays know where to invest his time and money."
* * * * * *
Terone stared in horror at his scrying pool. Castle Karl, which he thought so securely guarded, had collapsed, its garrison defeated. Even know, the final tower fell as the strange heroes destroyed the buttresses supporting it.
He fled from the unwelcome vision. He came to the guest hall, and pounded on the messenger's door.
"Do something!" shrieked the Summoner.
The Siren opened the door. "What do you want?" he demanded irritably.
"My castle! Gone!"
"It doesn't look gone to me," he said sarcastically. Terone shook his head.
"Not this one! The other one!"
 
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Raistlin, Archmagus



Joined: 08 Jul 2001
Posts: 1805
Location: Krynn, Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas

 PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2002 2:23 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

"Calm down, Summoner!" The Siren said irritably. "Just give me a moment." Reaching into a pocket, he pulled out a small device.
"My Lord? My Lord, can you hear me?" He spoke into the santaar. There was a moment of silence, and then a flat voice came; the device could not transmit emotion.
"Krass? What is it? Has the Summoner agreed?"
"He has, Lord Jasper, but, at the moment, he requires help. I request a small squadron of my Sirens to be sent here. The castle is under attack."
"I see. I'll have a wizard send them over." he paused a moment. "Is the Lady Rosalina's sister there?"
"Hold on," Krass -for that was his name - said. Turning to Terone, he asked if he had seen those attacking the castle, and if he could describe them. When the Summoner had said there was a woman and two wolves, Krass gave him a description of Ferrah, asking if that was the woman. When Terone had finished stuttering about the power of the group, he confirmed. Turning to the santaar again, Krass spoke.
"She's there, my Lord. Why?"
"Lady Rosalina wants her alive; have the others killed."
"Yes my Lord, but...The Summoner says the others of the group are ones to be reckoned with. They destroyed some of his elite creatures."
"Then I'll send double the amount of Sirens. Just do away with them."
"Yes my Lord." Ending the transmition, Krass put the device back in his pocket. Then he walked outside the castle. Terone went to his scrying pool rather than follow the Siren outside. After a few moments, ten other Sirens appeared out of thin air, men and women alike. The males looked mostly like Krass did, varying in the shade of their skin and hair. The woman were elegant, yet rough, a strange combination. They all bared some type of dagger or sword; one, he noticed, carried two curved knives that looked deadly. Krass was speaking with them; within moments they were running towards the companions. Despite the fact that they lived in water, Sirens were fast on land; they would rech the party soon.
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2002 7:46 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

* * * * * *
The companions removed themselves from the remains of the abandoned castle. Alfred and Ferrah were staggering under the wait of the treasure. What she and the Lagu had brought up had not been the whole cache; there was still more, and she and the Exorcist had had to make several trips to bring it all out.
Now, at a comfortable distance from the vampire's lair, they spread out all the treasure on the grassy floor of a clearing in the forest.
"Now, I suppose we will share it out," said Alfred. He stared in wonder at the wealth. There were a half-dozen chests, all filled with gold coins of varying sizes. In addition, there will many bags of jewels and gems, cut and uncut, as well as four miscellneous objects.
"Ve vill all be rich," observed Knighthawk. He rubbed his hands. "Vhen I sailed for Norcumion, I did not dream of taking sush profits."
"You will take all the more," said Sorotor. "I have no need for the wealth of Men."
"So, you do not want to have your share of the treasure?" asked Ferrah.
"Precisely," answered the Unicorn.
"Myself, I do not know what to do with all of it," said Alfred. He frowned. "I am sworn to poverty. However," he brightened, "I could use my share for the betterment of my Isle. All right, now we can begin."
"High time," muttered Knighthawk. The others laughed. Actually, there was not much to choose from, at first. The three each took two chests, and five bags of jewels. The other, more unique items presented more of a problem. Not only was it not plain how to divide it, but Sorotor informed them that the items were magical - a circlet made of silver, two rings, and a particularly powerful chalice - so powerful, in fact, that Sorotor hinted it might be of divine origin.
"We'll have to draw straws," said Ferrah, "for the items."
"I suppose I could use a... magical item," said alfred.
"Ah," said Sorotor, looking at him shrewdly, "but perhaps you already have a magical item."
"What? Oh!" The Exorcist pulled a pendant from his tunic. He held it up, and looked at it with distaste. "This was in the vampire's apartments. It is an evil artifact; I only took it to destroy it. However, I have not the proper things-"
"Lay it on the ground," instructed Sorotor. Alfred obeyed. Sorotor backed up, and bent his head so that his black horn was on a line with a red jewel on the pendant. The horn glowed, mistily at first, like sunlight shining through drapes in a house of mourning. Then it brightened, and brightened, until the darknes of the horn was lost in the white splendour of the magic.
An answering glow sprang up within the pendant. It shone evilly, a red light that cast unnatural shadows even in the sunlight. The magical light shot out from Sorotor's horn; it met the red glow, and the two struggled. Then the unicorn's magic engulfed the pendant completely. There was a small explosion, then silence.
Sorotor shuddered and swayed.
"Are you all right?" asked Alfred in alarm.
"Yes," gasped Sorotor. He swallowed. "That thing was powerful. I believe we were lucky that the vampire underestimated us, and did not wear it at the confrontation."
"Vhat vas it?" inquired Knighthawk. Sorotor shook his head.
"I will not say." As if to clear his mind from these things, he turned his attention to the other items. He smiled. "I will say what these things are. The rings have an enchantment of protection laid on them; a simple spell, but effective in combat. The coronet grants immunity from necromantic spells to the wearer. As for the chalice; that is a powerful artifact of healing. I believe I will also choose one of these items."
They did not actually draw straws; Knighthawk produced dice, and the rolled for them. Alfred rolled twice; once for himself, and once for Sorotor. The Exorcist got the highest, then Ferrah, then Sorotor, with the Lagu last.
"There is justice after all," murmured Ferrah. Alfred picked up a Ring of Protection.
"I do not need the coronet," he said, smiling.
"Nor I," said Ferrah. She took the other ring.
Sorotor smiled in his turn. "There was more to choose from than rings and crowns." The chalice levitated until it was level with the Unicorn's head. It was close to his face; his breath misted on its side. The light from his horn - for it was gleaming softly - glinted off the surfaces where his breath had polished it. It rotated slowly, then it vanished.
"Where did it go?" cried Alfred. Sorotor stared impassively at him, and made no reply.
"Very inzhenious," said Knighthawk as he retrieved the crown. He stared forlornly at the treausre. "Vhat do ve do vith this? I almost vish it vould disappear."
"As you wish," said Sorotor. The treasure vanished in its turn.
"Where-?" began Ferrah.
"Peace," said Sorotor. "ou will have it back. Now, let us go. It is a day's journey, and half a day after that, back to Montsalis, and we have spent enough time here." He trotted off into the forest. Ferrah shrugged, and she and the wolves followed. Alfred and Knighthawk followed in their turn.
* * * * * *
 
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Falotar



Joined: 22 Jan 2001
Posts: 2579
Location: Yaro'on the Fair

 PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2002 11:27 pm    Post subject: Strange Companions Reply with quote Back to top

Night fell across the forestland north of Montsalis. The companions made camp in the same area as they had before, though not in the same clearing, for they knew their stomachs could not stand the sight of the remains of the healthful stew. Ferrah insisted that Knighthawk take first watch, and he accepted, expressing disappointment that he got the easiest watch. Ferrah took the morning watch.
* * * * * *
Some thirty-five miles south of Terone's lair, the Sirens halted their jogging march.
"We shall camp here," declared their leader. "Tomorrow, we reach the area they were last seen in."
"Suppose they are not there?" asked another.
"We continue south."
"There is a village - Montsalis - that they are doubtless making towards."
"So?" asked their leader contemptuously. "What can a village of humans offer against us?"
* * * * * *
Moonlight shown down on the ruins of Karl's Castle. Already the forest was begining to sweep over the castle, as if ashamed of its former occupants. But, perhaps, the castle was not yet entirely deserted.
The rubble shifted where the northwest tower lay broken. There was a grunt, and a bovine snout poked into the night air. The debris was heaved aside, and the bloody form of Captain Zaracas emerged into the moonlight.
The battered minotaur leaned heavily on the shatteed haft of a poleaxe.
"Curse that horse-thing," he growled to himself in his own tongue. "And curse Karl for a fool! Krypta take them both!" He smiled. At least his curse had already fallen on the luckless undead.
The Captain of the Minotaurs moved out of the castle, his hooves thudding on the cracked paving stones. As he trod over the broken masonry of the southwest tower, he saw something glimmering in the moonlight. He kicked at the white dust, and watched in satisfaction as a light breeze scattered them.
"Have fun, vampire," he grunted.
He then set off towards Terone's fortress, not knowing that his way would be crossed by ten Sirens.
 
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