The Great Library of Palanthas

An Aesthetic shows you to a small reading room.

Stories of Ansalon from the view of Prentice.

A little gully dwarf runs by and says 'Wordwrap Off 65 80.'
The gully continues 'Eyes hurt? Turn Color OFF!! (regular story dates)

Astinus says 'Enter the main library here to view only the author list.'
Astinus gently places a small leaflet on the table in front of you.
You note the spine bears the word 'Prentice' scribed in brilliant blue ink.


Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Sat Feb  3 19:20:32 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, Part I

From somewhere near the depths of oblivion Prentice became aware of
something odd, at first seemingly alien and then as time fluttered by
familliar.  Sound ?  Yes, a sound of some sort beconing him back to
the harsh and painful world of the living.  As he slowly regained
consciousness he heard the same sounds as always, that of water gently
lapping at the chunk of mast he had been tied to by the slaver. 
Intended to hold him while he was whipped to death it instead proved
his salvation, if you could call this salvation.  While the
grotesquely obese slave master whipped him the vessel had grounded on
a hidden shoal and sent everyone flying across the deck.  The damage
must have been catastrophic for it went down incredibly fast and the
mast had snapped just below the Kender's feet, taking him with it over
the side and into the sea.

Through some stroke of great fortune (or misfortune, depending on
one's point of view) the mast had rolled as he was about to drown and
Prentice was at least able to breath while he bobbed along to the
mercy of the current. Soon however the sun proved as pitiless as the
slaver and it's rays bore down on the small Kender.  He had been
stripped to his waist to receive the cat o nine tails and his pale
albino skin was fully exposed to the burning orb's searing rays.  In a
very short time he was burned to a deep red, and later it began to
flake and blister.  Thankfully the pain from the whip masked most of
the burning agony and Prentice was only vaguely aware that he was
slowly being burnt alive.

But that had been eaons ago.  He knew not how much time had passed
while he had been unconscious but now as he waivered between life and
death he heard the odd sound that had brought him back to this living
hell.  Something striking water softly nearby, and it seemed to be
coming closer.  In his feebleminded state Prentice didn't care what it
was, as long as it heralded the end to his torment one way or another.
 Then a voice, faint and distant yet close by.  A moment or two later
he felt himself moving in a new direction with a jolt as his impromptu
raft was either pulled or pushed.  He felt the light touch of fingers
at his throat, gently pressing to feel any sign of life.  He tried to
say something but was far too weak to even moan softly.  The ropes
which bound him suddenly slipped away and his arms, now free, limply
sagged into the water and he began to roll off the mast into the
water.  Strong hands caught him though and as they touched the
remnants of his burned and blistered back Prentice's brain was flooded
by a cascade of pain unlike anything he had ever imagined possible. 
In an instant he was unconscious again and he fled towards the endless
night, praying that such a thing as life was finaly gone and that he
could enter a world free of pain, suffering and torment.

Time went by for the world and eventually he became again aware of
himself. With a sickening realisation Prentice found that he was not
yet dead, that he was unfortunately alive and apparently doomed to
endure yet more misery. Trying to will himself to die but failing he
decided to open his eyes and see what new horrors life had thrown at
him.  Instead of any number of hellish fears made flesh Prentice
instead saw that he was in a small room laying on his back in what
felt like a real bed, with a soft pillow under his head and a soft
comfortable quilt spread over him.  He moved his head a bit and took
in his surroundings.  A small window, with curtains half drawn,
allowed soft yellow sunlight to filter into the room illuminating
wooden wainscotting and white painted walls.  A small dresser, chair
and a night table furnished the place and on the table rested a small
basin and pitcher. Not a little surprised and curious he tried to sit
up but found himself unable to do so, somehow restrained even though
he could see no ropes or straps holding him down.  A facade, he
thought.  I'm delerious and hallucinating.  I'm really in a torture
chamber but my brain is playing tricks and instead I see this false
reality.

Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Sat Feb  3 19:56:28 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, Part II

As if in response the door opened and a figure entered but instead of
some black masked executioner or torturer the lithe figure of an Elven
woman approached him smiling gently.  Sitting in the chair beside the
bed she looked upon him and reached out her hand towards his head.  He
flinched away instinctively and she paused, frowning slightly.  She
whispered something barely audible but somehow reasuring and reached
for him again.  He knew he could not flee or run away, bound by
invisible restraints, so he did the only thing he could do.  Nothing. 
His eyes went blank and his body limp as he prepared for another round
of agony.  Instead, she simply brushed aside his hair from his crimson
eyes and gently carressed his brow.

"Don't worry little friend, " she said in a voice like a gentle
spring breeze wafting across tall lush grass.  "You are safe now and
are finaly healing well.  We were worried about you, feared that you
might not survive your wounds for they were dreadful and perilous. 
Your people must be made of stern stuff though for you not only live
but you heal at a remarkable pace.  I am glad to see you awake.  Are
you strong enough to speak yet my friend ?  " she asked.

Prentice tried to speak but found his voice unwilling to respond.  She
looked at him and smiled then reach for the basin and poured water
into her hand.  This she held over his mouth and slowly dribbled water
into his mouth which slowly dripped into his parched throat.  It
tasted like ambrosia to Prentice and as it entered him he felt again
that which he had thought he would never feel again, the simple joy of
life.  Again she dribbled water into his mouth and this time it was
enough to whet his vocal chords a bit and he found them loosened
enough to speak, albeit roughly and haltingly.

"Thank you m'lady.  I owe you my life, pathetic and small though
that be.  " he managed.

"No, no you don't.  I heal, it is my life, my love.  It is what I
do, who I am.  And no life is either pathetic or small.  All life is
grand and writ with purpose though at times we do not see what that
may be.  I see in your eyes great pain, far beyond your physical
wounds.  I can heal the body, and maybe help the healing of the mind
somewhat but I think for you the healing must come from within.  You
have lost your race's love of life I feel and that is a great sorrow. 
In time maybe you will find it again and relish life once more but for
now you must rest and regain your strength.  Have no fear, naught may
harm you within these walls.  Here you are safe from all the world's
ills.  Sleep now, sleep the blessed rest of the healer's home and
awake again in the morn refreshed and ready to speak for I would love
to hear your tale if you would be so kind.  I release now the bonds I
laid upon you to restrain and keep you safe while you healed to allow
to relaxe more fully in mind and body.  ".  With a word Prentice
felt something give and found he could now breathe deeply and move his
body at will but instead of fleeing he looked her in the eyes and saw
in them truth, simple and plain. He suddenly felt very drowsy and let
his eyes slip shut.  In a moment he was fast asleep and over the next
half day slept as blissfully as a newborn babe.  

Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Sun Feb  4 14:11:50 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, Part III

As his strength increased over the next few days Prentice began to
find that this place was not some hallucination created by his broken
mind at all but was simply exactly what it seemed, a place of refuge
and healing.  It was the home and headquarters of an Elven woman
called Lareth and her human mate Krelyn.  Krelyn wandered the
countryside surrounding the old seaside keep and occasionaly found
'strays' during his travels whom he would bring back for his lady to
heal, as was her nature.  It had been pure chance Krelyn had been on
the sea fishing the day Prentice had floated by for while both he and
Lareth both enjoyed seafood Krelyn wasn't a very good fisherman and
didn't go out in his rowboat very often.

During their conversations Prentice slowly began to open up to Lareth,
the first person he had met since he and his family had been enslaved,
and as she learned his tale and the depth of his suffering she became
more relieved that Krelyn had found him and brought him here.  It took
a few days for the Kender to speak of his family's death but after he
had Lareth stared at him and wept silently, her sorrow at such a tale
of loss plainly evident to the grief sticken Kender.  It was then he
decided to repay her and Krelyn for their kindness, somehow, even if
it killed him.  There was nothing he would not do for them, and
silently swore it on his family's souls.

The day finaly came when Prentice stood on his own two feet again and,
although a bit unsteady, walked slowly from his room into the main
common room of the old keep.  Lareth stood at a small table, knife in
hand, preparing a small meal for the three of them and when she him
walking she called out to him excitedly and ran over to take his hand
and steady him a bit.  They made their way to the doorway and as he
stood on the threshold Prentice gazed out onto a panoramic view of the
windswept coast and the endless azure sea beyond.  The sun was bright
and warm, the sky a deep and cloudless blue and it seemed to him as he
stood there that he had fallen from the Abyss into Paradise.  For the
first time since his all too brief childhood Prentice knew peace of
heart and was content to just stand and admire the beautiful grandeur
of it all.

They stood there for a minute or two, Elven healer and her Kender
charge, both feeling the rapture at least briefly and then they
descended the staircase which hugged the old stone wall.  Prentice
found himself in a small courtyard contained by a stout masonry wall
which encompassed the keep.  A single gate in the wall stood open and
although it looked to be in decent shape Prentice noticed the hinges
were somewhat rusty from disuse. Obviously, athough Krelyn had done
work here, the gate and wall were more to block out the wind than
intruders.  While they were stout enough for a defensive measure the
remoteness of the place rendered them moot.

They wandered around the courtyard a bit, Lareth showing him her
lovingly tended gardens of medicinal herbs, vegetables and flowers
when they heard the creaking of her mate's wagon approaching the gate.
 They made their over to it slowly, for Prentice was still far too
weak to move with haste, and Krelyn drove in just as they arrived to
greet him.  He looked from his seat to see them and called out in
greeting, waving to Prentice and laughing with joy at seeing the
Kender on his feet again.  For the first time in many a year Prentice
laughed out loud and returned the salutation enthusiasticly.


As he pulled the wagon to a halt and climbed down he recited to Lareth
the list of supplies she had wanted, confirming that he had remembered
to get all she wanted.  "Oh, and I found a few other things that
might be of interest to you M'Lady, " he said with a smile.

He took them to the rear of the wagon and, dropping the tailgate,
revealed that he had found more 'strays' on his return trek.  Two men
and a dog rested in the back, all with dangerous wounds that Krelyn
had hastily bound for them.


Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Sun Feb  4 14:54:12 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrif, Part IV

Lareth cried out in alarm but Krelyn quickly reassured her that while
they had some serious wounds it was nothing a few days under her protection
wouldn't fix.  Krelyn and Lareth helped the men down and as she guided them
up and into the keep Krelyn carefully removed the dog, which was
unconscious, and carried it after the others.  Prentice followed him slowly
and found them all in one of the other rooms off the common room Lareth had
lain each man in a bed and after inspecting their wounds carefully but
quickly looked upon the dog.  She sighed and shook her head.  

"The men will heal Krelyn, you bound their wounds quickly and well.  They
only need time.  This poor creature though, I'm not so sure.  He looks to be
strong.  Let's hope he is." she said as she knelt beside the canine.  

Prentice knelt beside the supine animal and looked at Lareth.  "You weren't
certain I'd make it either, and here I am.  Maybe the greatest strength is
in the smallest creatures?" he said quietly.  Turning to the men he
asked, "What is his name?"

They shrugged and the older one said "We know not.  He was not part of our
caravan but when we were waylaid he came from nowhere and attacked those who
beset us.  As you can see, he paid for his bravery with a spearthrust to the
belly and a hobnailed boot to the head.  I hope he lives so I can thank him
for that spear was meant for me."

Lareth gently lifted the eyelids of the white furred animal and as he looked
upon them Prentice saw they were of a blue not unlike the sea, azure and
endless.  He reached out and touched the dog's blood crusted fur and gently
petted him for he knew of nothing else to do.  While Krelyn fetched food and
drink for the men Lareth wove spells of healing upon the mortally wounded
animal and administered herb poultices of her own creation.  After a few
minutes she sat back and looked at Prentice.  

"I have done all I can for this one Prentice.  His fate is now sealed, for
better or worse.  There is one other thing though, something which maybe you
might be better suited for than I."

The Kender looked into her eyes and saw that she seemed to be guaging him. 
With resolution in his raspy voice he said, "Name it.  Whatever you ask, I
will do."

"Dog's are very social creatures.  They not only enjoy company, the require
it no less than people.  They live in social groups, not a vaccum.  A dog
left alone will eventually fade, maybe to die, maybe to suffer a fate worse.
Even though this one is not aware of us, still he needs us and for more than
spells and poultices.  Take care of him, be his companion and watch over him
while he heals, if heal he can.  Be warned though, his wounds are very
severe and I do not think he will live.  The spear bit deep and his skull
was broken.  But even if he must pass, let him leave this world with a
friend at his side.  Can you do this?  Do you dare?", she asked.  

Prentice understood what she meant and why she asked this of him.  He needed
to care about something.  His life to date had been nothing but misery and
after the death of his family he had walled himself in, not allowing himself
to care for anyone or anything.  For a slave, to care led to yet more
unwanted grief.  He returned her gaze stoicly and nodded.  

With an effort, for he was still very weak, he picked up the dog and
carefully made his way to his room and laid the creature on his bed.  Laying
down beside it he put his arm over it's massive shoulders and rested his
hand on it's broad chest.  He could feel it's heart beating, shallow and
slow, but beat it did.  Prentice prayed to any gods who might be around that
this noble creature might live, for both their sakes.  A few minutes later
Lareth and Krelyn looked in and saw them asleep, Kender and canine, both
with deep wounds that would never fully heal but with any luck might at
least heal enough for them to enjoy life again.  Turning, they left quietly
to let time heal what it would.  


Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 05:55:05 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, Part V

A day went by, followed by another and still the wounded dog remained
unconscious and inert.  Not a twitch of paw or tail bespoke of any life. 
Only the very slight rising and falling of his massive white furred chest
hinted at the life struggling to survive within.  

Rarely did Prentice leave his side, always sitting with him in the hope that
the animal could somehow sense his presence and take solace from the fact
that he was not alone, that nearby hovered someone to care and protect him
while he was vulnerable.  Although he couldn't be certain, on some level the
Kender felt that this was the case, that the dog did indeed know Prentice
was there by his side keeping watch.  

On the third day, as Prentice lay beside the dog slipping in and out of
sleep, he felt the wounded animal's paw twitch and instantly he woke and
looked upon it carefully.  A moment went by and then the paw twitched again.
Gently he pet the dog's neck and it moved it's head slightly and sniffed the
air, it's nose twitching and moving slightly from side to side to catch a
vague scent.  Then it's eyes opened a crack and it moved it's head to get a
look at the anxious Kender who had for days watched over him.  Prentice
stared into those depthless azure orbs and could almost hear the animal say
thank you before they again closed and it fell again asleep.  This time
though the animal's breathing became stronger, it's chest moving more
robustly and prentice knew it was now simply sleeping very deeply and not in
the comatose state it had been in earlier.  A wave of relief and excitement
washed over Prentice and he lay down again with his arm around it's
shoulder.  Hugging it reassuringly he fell asleep himself and in his dreams
discovered the name he would give the animal, a name he felt it would
accept.  

When he awoke the dog was sleeping peacefully and after a minute Prentice
rose and made a trip to the latrine outside in the courtyard.  On his way
back inside he saw Lareth in her garden harvesting some herbs and updated
her on the dog's condition.  She was genuinely surprised and returned to
Prentice's room to inspect it.  

Gently she laid a hand on it's chest and petted the animals neck.  In
response it opened it's eyes and gazed at her for a moment then over at
Prentice.  Lareth spoke to it softly and it seemed to understand.  In a
moment it lay it's head down again and fell once more asleep.  

"This is amazing Prentice, " she said as she stood, gazing at the dog
thoughtfully.  "He should not be alive, and yet he is.  Not only alive, but
very strong as well.  His wounds should have slain him almost instantly but
not only did he hang onto life he has managed to almost completely heal.  It
has exhausted him, as you can tell by the amount he sleeps, but that will
pass very soon.  At this rate he might be walking as early as tomorrow.  You
healed very quickly too but this ...  This is unheard of.  And in his eyes I
saw no damage to his mind.  His head injury should have left him a
vegetable, at the least, but apart from his exhaustion he looks to be
completely healed.  It seems he is destined to live, as do you.  Death is
not your fates, at least not yet.  It could be your were meant to meet and
each become the other's companion.  How do you feel about him ?  I could
sense in his eyes as he looked at you that he has become attached to you. 
"

"And I have become attached to him.  Thank you Lareth for allowing me to sit
with him.  I understood why you asked me to, and I agree.  I needed to form
an emotional bond to something.  Wounds deeper than any spear had pierced me
long ago and had festered.  They have finaly begun to heal now, thanks to
your wisdom.  If he wishes we will become friends and protect each other
from the dangers of this world.  I think he will.  While I slept last night
I had a dream and it seemed he spoke to me and I to him.  I discovered a
name for him, one he will accept.  When he is ready, I'll tell him his new
name.  Until then I'll let him rest as long as he needs.  "


Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 06:36:17 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, VI

The healer nodded and as she turned to leave they heard Krelyn call from
the courtyard for her to come quickly.  She raised her eyebrow questioningly
and glanced at Prentice, then hurried out the door of the keep and down the
winding stair to see what made the normaly quiet man to call out.  Prentice
followed and as they entered the yard found Krelyn helping an Elf stagger
towards them.  He was badly injured and blood flowed freely from a nasty
shoulder wound where a long black fletched arrow was imbedded.  Lareth ran
to him and probed the wound gently.  Even this made him wince in pain but
she didn't hesitate.  Immediately she muttered a few words and as if drawn
by unseen hands the lethal shaft extracted itself from the Elf's shoulder. 
Lareth immediately reached into a belt pouch and pulled out a poultice which
she placed over the wound.  In a moment the pain etched in his face
lightened and he nodded and thanked her in a soft melodic voice.  

"'Ware those who follow me M'Lady, for follow they surely do.  I am sorry to
bring them to your door but I didn't think any live here.  Last I was here
this place was empty save for t he memories of those who once valliantly
held these walls.  "

Krelyn muttered.  "You are pursued ?  By who ?  How far behind do they think
they are ?  I see none nearby.  " 

The Elf thought a moment.  "Maybe half a day behind, at most.  Even wounded
my people can move faster than most, and these are laden with the gear of
war while I have only my wits and lyre.  But they have an excellent tracker
in the company and he will have little trouble following the crimson trail I
left behind.  Allow me a quick drink and I will depart.  I do not think they
will bother you for it is I they seek.  "

Krelyn looked to Lareth and Prentice saw her jaw set.  "No.  ", she said
with a firmness to her voice that he had not felt she had.  "You are in our
house and here you shall stay.  I cannot, will not, allow you to flee
knowing that they will mos Krelyn looked to Lareth and Prentice saw her jaw
set.  "No.  ", she said with a firmness to her voice that he had not felt
she had.  "You are in our house and here you shall stay.  I cannot, will
not, allow you to flee knowing that they will most certainly come upon you
very shortly for your wound is grave indeed.  We shall bar the gate and
refuse them their game.  It is sturdy and stout and will hold them at bay. 
I have sworn an oath to heal and protect, as has Krelyn.  No harm shall come
to you in this place while we live.  You are in the House of the Healer, and
here you shall heal.  "

"M'Lady, they are many, a score at least and they have amage who can deal
with this gate I would suspect.  Please, for you own safety, let me go.  I
cannot fight and you are but three, and one a small Kender at that.  It is
suicide to keep me here.  ".  

Krelyn spoke now, his voice stern and full of iron.  "No, it shall be as my
Lady says.  Though our numbers are few we are more than we seem.  You will
stay and live to see another day my friend.  We will deal with your foes,
whether they number two, twenty or a hundred it matters not.  None may make
war in our House or slay our wards, period.  "

The Elf tried to protest further but Lareth and Krelyn refused to allow him
to flee.  They instead took him inside and upon entering the common room
found the two Humans sitting by the fire.  They looked up as they entered
and upon seeing the Elf jumped up and ran over to help.  They lay him down
on the long couch by the fire and Lareth immediately began to minister his
wounds, weaving spells of healing and applying a few more poultices.  

Krelyn quickly left the chamber and made his way up the spiral stair inside
the keep to stand atop the roof and gaze out across the windswept plain.  He
returned shortly to inform them that indeed he could scrye at a distance a
band heading in their direction.  If they kept their pace they would arrive
by nightfall.  

Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 08:09:44 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, VII

Nightfall arrived all too soon and as Krelyn had thought the Elf's
purusers arrived at the keep's gate as the sun set over the sea, turning the
sky and water blood red with it's autumnal light.  

Prentice stood atop the wall with Krelyn and gazed between the parapets at
the group gathered on the other side, about 50 feet off.  They were afoot,
with only a few pack animals, and were mostly human although he could make
out a couple of Dwarves in their midst.  All were clad in some sort of
armour and bore a wide assortment of well worn weaponry indicating that this
group actively engaged in combat and frequently.  

One of their group strode forward and Prentice could see that this one bore
armour different from his comrades in that it wasn't composed of various
pieces cobbled together but was instead a finely crafted and somewhat ornate
suit of half-plate.  He approached to within 10 feet of the gate and called
forth in a strong voice, "Hail the keep!  We seek a quarry who we know is
within your walls.  Allow us to take him and we will trouble you not.  Our
dispute is with him alone.  He has wronged us and our wrath with him him is
great and justified.  "

Krelyn snorted derisively and called back, "Get thee hence Martel, I know
thee all too well and never was anything you did justified, save that your
lack of morals was your justification for everything !  Go !  Or feel my
wrath !  "

The figure visibly paused a moment then called back, "Krelyn ?  Can it be
you ?  After all these years, this is where you have hidden your sorry ass ?
".  He laughed with great mirth.  "Very well, I can see parley to be useless
with one so thick headed.  We will wait until dawn then.  If you do not
caugh up that stupid Elf we will assail this pathetic gate, slay you and
rape that annoying Elf bitch.  You still have her I guess ?  I hope so, it's
been a while since my men have had a wench.  Don't worry too much, I'll only
let them have her for a few days, then I will ensure she is slain quickly
once she is of no further use.  " He laughed scornfully and returned to his
men.  They began to set camp and Prentice looked from them to Krelyn,
finding that his face had become a mask of death.  Krelyn nodded to himself
then turned and left the wall.  

When they again entered the keep Krelyn told Lareth of the situation and at
the mention of Martel's name she grew visibly angry.  With an effort she
controlled her rage and nodded.  "The day we feared has arrived my love.  Go
then, don thy armour, gird thy blades again.  On the morrow we fight our
past and teach the lesson which should h Martel's name she grew visibly
angry.  With an effort she controlled her rage and nodded.  "The day we
feared has arrived my love.  Go then, don thy armour, gird thy blades again.
On the morrow we fight our past and teach the lesson which should have been
taught years ago.  I hate war, but I will not tolerate anyone, and
especially that one, to defile this House we have made.  " Krelyn voiced his
agreement and departed to their chamber above.  

She turned to the Human men she had tended and spoke to them, "I am so sorry
my friends, but it seems our past and this Elf's pursuers are one and the
same.  There will be a fight, and not a pleasant one I fear.  No quarter
will be asked, and none given by either side.  I am afraid you will have to
fight your way to freedom as best you can.  It could very well be that
Krelyn and I will not live beyond tomorrow and this House will no longer be
a haven.  This man, Martel, is well known to us and very dangerous.  And he
has a band of cutthroats at his side.  We will slay him and many of his
friends, but the price will be high indeed.  As best you can, fight your way
out and flee.  Do not fear for us, this is our fate.  You are not beholden
to us.  I want you to live long and be healthy, not to die in a battle not
of your own making and whose conclusion is forgone.  "


Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 09:23:32 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, VIII

The men looked at each only for a moment, nodded then looked back to
Lareth.  "Nay Lady, " said one.  "You gave us succor and safety, asking
nothing in return.  We will not abandon you to the jackals now that things
grow dark.  We are soldiers, Horth and I, and we will stand by your side as
you stood by ours.  " Lareth bowed low to them then turned and made her way
upstairs to prepare herself for the conflict ahead.  

Prentice returned to his room and slep little that night.  He lay beside the
still sleeping dog wondering and fearing what the morn would bring.  He had
found peace and a companion for the first time since he was a tiny child and
to lose either so soon gnawed his soul.  Eventually he gave up trying to
sleep and rose from his bed to enter the chamber where the men had prepared
themselves for war.  

They had done some hasty minor repairs to their armour and sharpened their
swords and while the equipment was worn and old it was still good quality
and serviceable.  The two men and elf greeted him as he entered and as he
sat by the fire they heard footsteps descending the stairs.  As Krelyn and
Lareth entered the chamber all four of their wards gasped in amazement.  

Gone were the friendly Healer and her mate.  Instead, standing before them,
were merchants of death.  Krelyn had donned an ancient suit of half-plate,
similar to Martel's but far older and heavily emobossed and etched with
noble regalia.  It gleamed like the dawn as if forged only yesterday and
upon it's surface could be seen a Kingfisher under which were two swords,
crossed.  Upon his back he bore two long and slender blades and in his eyes
there was naught but death.  It was Lareth however who took their breath
away for the gentle healer was no more.  Her gaze held the same look as
Krelyn's and while she wore no armour she in her hand she bore a warmace
with viciously serrated flanges which glowed and pulsed with a terrible
light.  She was herself surrounded by a dark aura which exuded doom and even
though they were her allies the men and Kender were all afraid should her
wrath be turned their way.  

One of the men looked upon them and bowed deeply.  "I had not recognised
your name at first Sir, but now that I see you clad thusly I know you.  You
are Marshal Krelyn, Commander of the Black Watch which once strode the
fields of war and into legend.  We have never met, but my father once served
with you.  Haron was his name, and he spoke highly of your nobility and
spirit.  It will be an honour to die this day with you Sir, if die we must. 
"

Krelyn's eyes never lost their hardness but his voice was quiet and
respectful when he replied, "I remember Haron, Maerscalci and my Lieutenant.
A noble man and a good warrior.  He died in my arms on the field, and a good
death it was.  A soldier's death, with his weapon in his hand.  I am
honoured to have met his heir, here at the end of things.  "

Looking upon Prentice Krelyn spoke to him.  "My friend, you had no weapons
upon you when I pulled you from the sea.  I know not what skills you have,
and I have little spare weaponry having long ago abandoned war, but I do
have these to give.  May they serve thee well, as they once served me.  ". 
He offered Prentice a linen bundle he carried and unraveling it the Kender
found two long and slender rapiers, heavily etched with sigils and runes. 
"Those are wards of power and protection my friend, a boon to you and a bane
to your foes.  Wield them well and they will see to it that you live to
fight another day.  ".  Prentice fastened the belted weapons about his waist
and bowed low in gratitude.  

Lareth turned to the Elf, who stood apart nearby.  "Come my friend, " she
said.  "Be not concerned.  You did not bring this doom to us, it has been
searching us out for years.  Fight by our side and we shall fight by yours,
to the last.  The promise I made to you yesterday, to you all, still stands.
While Krelyn and I live, so too does the sanctity of this House.  Let us
take ourselves outside to confront this fate and conquer it with bravery.  "

Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 10:16:14 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, IX

The Elf nodded and bowed to her and as one the six moved into the
courtyard, each resigned to their inevitable doom but grimly determined to
make Chemosh pay dearly to collect them.  

Martel's voice called out to them as the first rays of the sun crested the
battlements.  "Give us the Elf old man, or you die a hard death and your
bitch a harder one !  " Krelyn remained impassive as did Lareth.  She closed
her eyes a moment and seemed to be searching for something.  Opening them
again she said, "Their mage has summoned allies, minor demons it feels like.
Maybe five or six.  ".  

Krelyn nodded.  "You deal with them Lareth, I'll take care of Martel.  He
might be the best swordsman of his generation but I'm the one who taught
him, and I didn't teach him everything.  The rest of you, deal with that
flotsam that follows him.   Mistril, " he said to the Elf.  "Bring forth
your lyre and sing us a song worthy of dieing to.  If you know it, damn the
laws and recant the 'Dirge of the Dead'.  ".  He raised an eyebrow at the
request but wielded his lyre and in the lilting, melodic voice of his kind
sang forth the Dirge of the Black Watch, forbidden to all except the Bard of
the Watch and even then only on the eve of battle.  It's haunting and
sorrowful sound filled the courtyard and the six felt their spirits rise,
then fall, then rise again as the semi magical lyrics rallied in each a
hidden strength which lay buried in all but only rarely was brought to the
fore.  It was said that the Dirge was in part responsible for the fierce,
unrelenting nature of the Black Watch and that it enabled them to contiue
battle long after sustaining injuries which would have slain others
outright.  

Just as the final notes were uttered by the bard the stout gates shuddered
under an impact and a huge ball of fire lept high over the battlements above
it.  Lareth began to chant softly and the gate glowed slightly.  As the next
fireball hit part of the energy was deflected back at the mage.  Beyond the
wall they heard men scream in surprise and pain but the damage was done, the
gate splintered.  

A moment later the blackened wood of the gate fell under another impact as
the summoned allies of the mage slammed into it and they burst into the
courtyard like a dark wave.  They quickly surveyed their foes and, finding
Lareth their greatest threat due to her magic they descended upon her. 
Prentice looked on in horror, fearing they would slay her instantly, but as
they struck at her with lightning speed the air about her crackled with
energy and the demons howled in agony as her power wreaked havoc on those
who would dare attack her.  Then the next attack wave passed the charred
gate and he had to look away to fend for himself.  The followers of Martel
came next, Humans and some Dwarves, and they beset the men and Elven bard. 
Prentice had hidden himself in a shadowed nook and when one of their foes
ran past the Kender lept out and slid both of his rapiers home, each
piercing a kidney from behind.  The huge human gasped in pain and crumpled
to the ground to lay silent in the dirt.  

As he was about to turn he heard a vicious growl from behind and wheeled
about quickly, dropping to his knees to avoid an attack.  To his surprise he
saw the dog, who he had thought still slept on his bed, attacking the
swordarm of a man who had tried to attack him from behind.  The man screamed
in pain and anger as the huge half-wolf shook it's head back and forth and
tried to strike it with his free hand but with one quick jerk the dog ripped
his hand off at the wrist.  Instantly, as he howled in pain and blood
sprayed from the severed limb, the still bandaged animal lept and clamped
onto the man's throat.  Another jerking tug and arteries were severed
sending a crimson guysers outward.  As the man fell, clutching at his rent
throat with his one good hand, the wolf looked at Prentice with his
bottomless azure eyes and the Kender nodded to him.  

Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 11:20:00 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift, X

Together they lept upon another foe and vanquished him quickly,
descending upon another before the last even pitched forward to sprawl in
the dirt.  The other defenders too made their foes pay a heavy price for
every inch but eventualy they began to take damage.  A heavy sabre grazed
Prentice's brow before the dog slew it's wielder and while the Kender
franticly wiped his blood from his eyes one of the Human defenders took a
vicious smash from a mace to his breastplate, crushing the steel and
hammering it into his chest and breaking many ribs.  He coughed up some
blood but managed to thrust his sword into his attackers intestines, sending
him to the ground.  

In the center of it all stood Krelyn and Martel, each wielding two blades
with a skill few (if any) on Krynn could match.  They circled each other
warily, then lept at each other, their shimmering swords slicing through the
air in a flurry of blows too fast for the eye to follow.  Each was covered
with blood and though none of the injuries looked serious each had many. 
Martel's face was alive with joy at the prospect of finaly killing the only
man who was his equal but Krelyn's countenance was still grim, the look of
one who knows he will die but also knows he will take his foe with him.  

Prentice watched them for a moment, spellbound by the skill displayed by
each, but then became aware of a Dwarf raising an axe to strike a blow upon
the dog from behind as it ripped out the hamstring of an attacker.  With a
cry of fury the diminutive Kender raced forward and lept forward with rapier
stretched out before him.  Prentice stayed in motion, as did the axe, and it
was upon the Kender the axe struck and not his still injured canine
companion.  The battleaxe sliced deep into Prentice's pelvis and bit into
bone, sending him sprawling into the dirt to writhe in agony as he fought to
stave off oblivion.  Not long ago he would have welcomed death with open
arms but now he had something, someone, to live for.  He swore curses at
Death and denied it, the Dirge of the Dead still inspiring and drawing forth
from somewhere the ability to stay alive when nature decreed him dead.  

The dog whirled about and, seeing Prentice sorely wounded on the ground,
went berserk.  It became a force of nature unto itself and it fell first
upon the dieing Dwarf who had struck the blow, ripping off his face.  It
turned on another who had just impaled the Elven Bard with a spear and in a
moment sent his soul to Chemosh, then another.  

Soon after the last of Martel's band lay dead in the dirt and as the wolf
loped over to lay beside Prentice the Kender looked upon a mortally wounded
Lareth as she struck a last fatal blow to the final demon.  It vanished with
a wail, back to whatever hellpit it had been summoned from, and the healer
dropped to her knees as she struggled to keep her internal organs from
spilling out from the gash across her stomach caused by one of the vile
creature's talons.  Prentice began to crawl to her when he heard Martel cry
out in triumph.  

Glancing over at the two warriors he saw that Martel had finaly managed to
land a fatal blow and as his blade sank into Krelyn's stomach he twisted it
heaved up on the hilt.  Krelyn grimaced but uttered no sound.  Instead he
reached out and grabbed hold of his foe's shoulders.  A startled look
crossed crossed Martel's eyes a moment before a long slender blade sprang
out of Krelyn's grieve and the older man kneed his younger opponent in the
stomach, driving the blade deep and under the ribcage and into his heart. 
While Krelyn's wound was fatal it was Martel who died first, his hand going
limp and letting go of his blade as he slumped to his knees.  Krelyn sank to
the ground with him and watched the light leave his eyes and then thrust him
back to lay gazing at the blue sky with vacant eyes as his soul raced to the
embrace of Chemosh.  



Author:    Prentice       
Date:      Wed Feb 14 11:55:47 2007
Subject     A Drift Adrift No More

The old warrior turned and slowly, painfully, crawled the few feet to
Lareth.  Prentice met him at her side and she looked at them, the deathmask
gone from her face and one of serenity in it's place.  

She tried to speak but at first only coughed and small flecks of blood
covered her now blue lips.  Swallowing with difficulty she manage to speak
softy, barely a whisper.  "It is done my friends, with your help we have
taken a great ill from this world and Krynn is better for it.  Now it is
time for Krelyn and I to pass, but not from memory.  Remember us Prentice,
remember the price that was paid here this day, and continue to live so that
we may live on even if only in your thoughts.  Your wound is grevious, as
are those of the others, but in the keep you will find many poultices and
herbs of healing.  Use them and when you are well leave this place.  All I
ask is that you lay us to rest, side by side, in my garden so that we may
watch over this place forevermore.  "

To this Krelyn added, "Let it be as my Lady asks.  One boon I would ask of
you Prentice, if you would.  Take my swords and give them to my younger
brother that he may know I am dead.  Tell him I died well, and that I
corrected the greatest wrong of my life and took back from this world the
misbegotten son I inflicted upon it.  He is a soldier of reknown and makes
his living hiring out his blade with a group called the Silver Sword
Company.  Seek them out in Tarsis.  Will you do this for me ?  "

Prentice nodded.  "Of course Sir, that I will.  Nothing shall prevent me
from finding your kin, this I swear to you upon my soul.  ", he said. 
Krelyn nodded and leaned forward to embrace Lareth.  She returned the
embrace and thus they died, in each other's arms until the end.  

Prentice struggled to his feet and looked upon his comapnion.  "Come Bytor,
let's away to the keep and heal.  We'll leave them be for a while in peace
before we lay them to rest together.  For now we must tend the living.  ",
he said and Bytor nodded in ascent.  They made their way slowly to the two
men who had somehow also managed to live and the final four defenders made
their to the keep.  They passed by the corpse of the Elven bard whose music
had inspired in them the will to survive and silently thanked him, wishing
his departed soul godspeed and peace.  Entering the keep they made haste to
apply Lareth's poultices and found they indeed worked very well.  

Over the next few days they tended to burying their fallen comrades and took
the remains of their foes out of the courtyard and threw them into the sea
where their vile remains would not desecrate Lareth and Krelyn's House. 
After they had healed sufficiently to travel they went to the garden and
said their final goodbyes to the benefactors.  Packing as many supplies as
they could upon the two mules left behind by their dead foes the small band
left the keep behind and neither looked back nor ever returned.  Prentice
looked upon the bundle in which Krelyn's blades were wrapped and, as Bytor
slept lightly at his side, he thought again of the noble soldier and his
Lady who had saved him and given him a new lease on life.  "Well Bytor, it's
off to Tarsis then.  A promise made must be kept.  Maybe once we get there
this group Krelyn's brother serves, this Silver Sword Company, will have
work for a Kender and his friend.  It might not be the kind of work my
father had hoped for but then I guess life is like that sometimes.  "

He ruffled the dog's fur slightly and lay back to gaze in wonder at the
stars and to thank whatever god had been watching over him that his prayer
for death had gone unheeded.  

The Storytellers of Ansalon, The DragonLance MUD

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