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April 21st, 2004, 01:35 PM
There was something intricate about the mind of a wyvern. Gilli had attempted to just possess it, but it hadn't worked. She still had a lot to learn about her powers. When she had looked into her mind she was surprised to find her looking back. It did not take long to establish a communication. There was a picture she transmitted, she found hilarious: Reed in a huge nest with an empty egg-shell, and a dark elf carrying away a human child. The wyvern had, then, cocked her head, to look at Reed. Gilli had then broadcast a picture of Reed on the wyverns back; and finally a picture of the Wyvern feasting on a drow body. The Wyvern had let out a piercing scream and ducked low. Reed had approached, pretending not to be nervous, and hopped onto her back.

A wyvern was the only thing native to these parts fast enough to allow for a search mission. Somewhere down there, and probably not out in the open, there was a party of drows carrying little Quinot into Derudin. How fast would they be going?

"Feel anything?" Reed asked.

"No, my range isn't that good, yet, I'm sorry."

"I'm glad you've got the gift at all. I'm cursing myself for not staying in the Crystal City. I should have known."

Circling in the night sky, the only one to see a thing was the wyvern. Reed hoped this wasn't a trap. Somebody had contacted Gilli, and told her what had happened. Who knew about her?

A bat almost crashed into Reed's head but veered of just in time. Something dropped into his lap. Moving his arm slowly he reached down and picked it up. It was a small stone, with lots of sharp edges. Reed slowly held it up to his eyes and squinted. Not a stone. A milky white crystal, crude, uncut.

"I can feel him." Gilli cried. "He's scared. Crying... Hold on." And the Wyvern took a sharp turn, diving into the night.


Dear Gravin,

I was afraid this would happen. The elves have taken Quinot.

You have no idea how hard it is to write this, but...

I SWEAR you will have him back alive.

Don't look for me, I will find you.


April 21st, 2004, 02:03 PM
One moment Alice was in the centre of the melee, fighting for her life and for those she loved, the it was over. Gone. The battle had rushed away like a rip tide. The remains of the enemy hounded from the air by a huge dragon, dark of scales and red of eye.

The beast skimmed over the ground, spouting gouts of flame, flicking a talon here and there, toying with the fleeing foe, like a cat with a mouse. Alice reined in her sweating and shaking mount and just sat there. Her shoulders slumped. The carnage round her brought the bile to her mouth. "How did I think, really think I missed this." She said softly.

"It was a matter of doing what needed to be done no more." Albert said as he came along side. and placed a hand on hers. He then reached back and pulled a cloth from his saddle bag wiping his blade clean of gore and handing the rag to Alice.

Alice took the rag and looked hard at Albert, he looked tired, his eyes were now completely hooded, he seemed to be mentally battling something. Her eyes travelled off his to his arm, blood was soaking through the old fashioned mail shirt he was hearing.
"You are hurt?" She said as she sheathed her sword and swung down off the mare

"A lot here are hurt. "Albert snapped and watched Kahn walk, limping towards him.

"You can help them?" Alice half asked, half demanded as she pulled at her own packs looking to see what was in them. Something that could help.

"Oh yes, I could walk through this field, healing, even rasing the dead. I am what I am, but I am not allowed too, don't want too. Never again will I play God, you don't know anything Alice about me, nothing not really." Albert's words were slurred, angry. His face had changed, it was if the very bone stucture was trying to take the shape of another man.

"I know you are a good man." Alice said softly as she laid out a pile of linen and started ripping it into lengths.

"No, I am insane, a fool." Albert retorted, adding "Where is that fool of a drake I need him..." Alice did not answer again, just watched Albert swing down from the black and pull open his own saddle bags, producing what seemed a never ending supply of bottles, lotions, potions, silver mixing bowls and measuring spoons. All the equipement of a healing mage. But Alice knew Albert didn't need this, he had been allowed to heal her in his own way. Allowed once and once only, she wondered if he would be allowed to again.


"You asked for me..." Daniel said as he waddled fromm behind a pile of dead.

"You out of flame?" Albert asked, taking a bottle in each hand and pouring the contents from a height into a large silver bowl.

"Drained and I am soooooo hungry." Daniel moaned and eyed the remains of a horse, licking his lips.

"Cough and spit first, then you can pig yourself silly." Albert glared at the drake. Daniel opened his mouth to comment, but the look on Albert's face made him think better of it. Daniel shook from muzzle to the tip of his feathered tail, coughing, hacking one strange cat coughing up even a stranger fur ball, or rather soot ball. It was chalky white and flew out of Daniel's mouth landing with a splat into the bowl. A plume of yellow shoke rose and a sweet smell of roses wafted round the small group.

"Yuck... " Kahn said as he reached them, "You don't drink that do you?" he asked as he watched the mixture bubble and froth.

"Oh no, doesn't work very well being put in that end." Albert said and bent down taking the bowl in his hands and adding the contents to other bowls and throwing in handfuls of this herb, that spice.

"You aren't sticking that up my... "Kahn glared as Albert picked up a very small bowl with an off green content and handed it to Kahn. The man sniffed and added. "It smells of..."

"Sweeten you up." Albert remarked. "Rub it over your body, it will trickle in and heal what needs to be healed. Then use a bit to clean your teeth."

"What will that do?" Kahn said then swore, then laughed and began to slather the stuff over him in great handfuls.

"Who is that?" Alice asked, as she watched a dark elf leading a horse, with a swaying figure on board, pick their way through the debris of battle.

"Myst." Albert said and picked up the smallest bowl which only contained a very small amount of the original mixture.

April 21st, 2004, 02:31 PM
"You can help him?" Myst said flatly as she came to stop. Albert looked at her, then at the wounded man.

"How much do you want him to be well?" Albert asked just as flatly.

Myst's eyes widened and she glanced from the bowl to Albert's hooded eyes, to Red, then back to the bowl. "You have studied with the mages of my kind?"

"I have studied with all sorts. I ask you again true daughter of your mother, how much do you want this man healed?"

"He is a good man?" Myst said softly. Albert nodded and signed for her to help Red down onto the ground. Alice came up and placed a folded cloak under the man's head, trying not to let her features show that she believed him to be dead ,or as good as. Red was pale, his lips thinned, breath short and the blood now flowed sluggish from his wounds.

"Daniel!" Albert shouted.

"I am busy" Came the answer through a mouthful of horse.

"A man is dying and Myst said he is a good man"

A huge sigh followed and Daniel flapped his way to the side of Albert and Myst. Albert signalled for Myst to kneel, roll back her shirt sleeve and hold out her arm.He knelt before her, holding the small bowl under her wrist.

"Well...?" Albert asked.

Daniel looked Myst in the eye and said softly, "You don't see this, it hasn't happened. Understand?" As he spoke Daniel extended his right forefoot over Myst's wrist. A fine golden talon appeared where none should be, nestled between the other three. It sliced into Myst's wrist. Her blood flowed, but as it touched the talon embedded in her flesh, it turned to a steam of gold and splashed down into the the bowl.

"So it is true... white feathered firedrakes do come from heaven" Myst whispered.

"Nonsense." Albert and Daniel said together as the talon vanished and Myst's wrist was unmarked. Albert lifted the bowl and turned to Red.

"It's too late,"Alice said as her hand hovered over Red's eyes.

Myst sobbed and covered her own face, unable to bare this. It was another blow she did not need.

"Not over till the fat lady sings" Albert said and began to tip the contents of the bowl over Red, dribbling the liquid from the man's head to his toes. Red convulsed, screamed, half sat up, eyes wide and staring. Then he fell back, drawing in large gulps of air.

Myst dropped her hands and gave a sad smile then looked at Albert. "He is part of me, yes..."

"Part and not part.. your paths will run together till this is finished then you will part, never more to see each other in this life."

"You mean death for one of us?"

"Don't ask me, I am not a God" Albert snapped.

April 21st, 2004, 03:51 PM
'Funny," said Danika from behind them, "when you completed the same procedure with me and Fluerre, you told me you were a God."

Danika was supported by Juzzza and the Rogue looked self consciously at Myst then his eyes snapped open wide upon seeing his mother.

"What the f..." he was about to say when Kahn's boot thudded into Sharn's ribs, who squeeled and wept at the barbarian's feet.

"Alright, I am just about ready to explode," said Juzzza. "Where in the blue hell do I begin? Albert, how and when did you meet Dani before and what is all this about you doing a procedure on her and the dragon? Talking of procedures, what the hell did you just do to my... Uh... To Myst? Kahn, why the hell is that piece of **** still alive and will someone please tell me what the f*** my mother is doing here?"

For a moment no one answered then Kahn coughed and raised a hand.

"Um, I think the question directed at me is probably the easiest to answer Mr Loveable, and trust me, I never thought that would be the case," grinned the barbarian. Juzzza tilted his head and raised his eyebrows in a gesture for the barbarian to continue. Kahn cleared his throat again.

"This... Piece of ****, as you so aptly called him... Is a berserker. Which means, you kill him now, he comes back stronger in another body, you solve today's problem but make a bigger one for tomorrow. The only way to kill him, is with that dagger you see stuck between his ribs. Only problem is, I need to stick it there upon a special altar, with the right wicca... And I don't have an altar or the right wicca.

"The other problem we have, is that his men... And beasts, or ulfhednar, as they are known in Pagan, know this. So holding him prisoner or killing him will not make them scatter away defeated. The army waiting over the ridge for us... All however many thousand there are of the f***ers, couldn't give two shits if we cut his head off and placed it on a spike in the middle of Crystal City... That army, is going to war, with or without this piece of manure." Another kick to Sharn's ribs highlighted the point.

"So what do you suggest?" asked the Rogue, taking a deep breath.

"We keep him with us, with that dagger stuck in his ribs so he can't warp into anything dangerous, and when I find an altar and a medicine man or crone who knows the right wicca, we get rid of him once and for all."

"Albert?" said Juzzza. The Hat Man patted Red on the head, took a deep breath and with smile beaming, he turned to face the Rogue.

"Can I go?" asked Daniel.

"Best you do," replied Albert between his teeth, smile in place.

"Now ma boy, where do you want me to start hmmm? Your mother, Danika or Myst?"

"Dani first," said the Rogue. Dani laughed and moved away from his support, she stumbled and Myst leaped forward, taking her by the arm and helping her to sit down. Dani smiled gratefully and it was Myst who looked away.

"Very well lad," began Albert, sweeping his hat from his head and wiping his brow. "I stumbled upon Danika some time ago, she was badly injured... Fatally in fact. And much like what we just did for young Red, we needed life force, and the only life at hand... Was Fluerre's. And so there you have it, to save her young life, we had to join her life force with that of another."

"And what about the tale of the Kult'ar merging their life force?" asked Red from the floor.

"Poppy cock," replied Albert. "A necessary tale weaved to hide my involvement, I could get barred from the country club you know, and here I am doing the bloody thing for a second time."

Juzzza stared down at Red, a pang of jealousy coursing through his blood but he smiled down at the warrior.

"You did not deserve to die, Red. You fought like a man possessed twice today, I am proud to have fought along side you." Red blushed, revealing the origins of the nickname.

"Thank you," he said smiling at the Rogue, then he turned to Mystiqe, "and thank you... My dark angel."

Juzzza chewed his lip but again, forced the jealousy aside.

"And my mother?" he pleaded to the Hat Man.

Before Albert could answer, Dani screamed and her chest burst through her white dress, streaming blood over Myst, Alice and Red who remained motionless in stunned silence.

Juzzza rushed to her side, almost knocking Myst to the floor.

"Dani," he yelled.

She clutched at her wound then howled in pain again as one of her eyes burst into a spray from its socket.

Albert swore and ran to one of the saddle bags on his black, but it was too late.

Dani grabbed the Rogue by his jerkin and pulled him forward, his ear touched her lips.

"My... Brothers... See them... Safe," she rasped then screamed as the other eye burst and sprayed across the Rogue's face. Tears flowing down his cheeks through the gore, Juzzza allowed himself to be pulled forward again to hear the Lady Longress' last words.

The Rogue cried out as Dani's head tumbled from her neck, blood spraying.

He looked up at the Hat Man through tears and gore and Albert himself was crying. The mage suddenly turned and looked up into the sky.

"Incoming," he shouted and Kahn managed to dive out of the way as a trebouchet-fired object crashed into the mud, disintegrating Sharn with the impact.

Kahn stared open-mouthed at the black scaled head of Fluerre, which had been fired at the camp by Sharn's hordes. Drums sounded in the near distance.

"F*** me," said Kahn.

Albert kneeled by Juzzza's side, who was still in shock and clutching the body of Danika.

"What did she say?" he asked gently.

Juzzza stared forward, Albert's hand was placed gently on his shoulder and he snapped back and looked into the mage's face.

"She told me where the Kult'ar is hidden," he said.

April 21st, 2004, 03:51 PM
"Wyvern!" the dark elf managed, before a spray of venomous saliva paralyzed him in an instant. The Wyvern landed ducking. Reed jumped off, but landed harshly. A jolt of pain tore through his ankle.

"Ouch." ****!

The Wyvern pushed off the ground, made a circle, bore down on the paralyzed elf, dug her claws into the still warm body, and made off with her prey, disappearing in the night.

"A master of stealth, it seems," said an elven voice. "We were expecting a more competent rescue commando." Laughter, not loud, very measured. "Are there, perhaps, more people in the shadows? Are you a decoy?"

"I take it, you are not impressed by the Wyvern then." Reed took a step forward.

The elf took a look at him. "That was quite a feat, to tame a wyvern. But it's gone, now, isn't it?"

Reed shrugged, hoping the gesture wasn't lost in the darkness. Somewhere in the shadows he heard a child's sobs. "I don't have much time. I think, it would be wise to hand over the child right now. Don't you?"

The elf chuckled. "You amuse me, sir. You are alone and you are limping. I doubt you even have basic combat training. And, yet, here you are, demanding the boy. I tell you what. If leave right away we will not cut off the boy's hand."

Reed smiled. "You will not cut off the boy's hand," he said flatly.

"And now you're going to tell me that there are people in the shadows, waiting for your command. And I get scared, and hand over the boy."

"There are, indeed, people in the shadows," said a voice.

The elf shifted his head slightly, in the direction of the voice. A figure stepped forward. Reed didn't know what was going on, but he started walking right into the party of elves, until he could see Quinot.

"Stop," the leader of the abduction party shouted. But then he saw the figure stepping from the shadows. "You are an elf," he said.

The newcomer smiled. "Belaris is playing a dangerous game."

Quinot, bound up and held fast by guard, whimpered. In a sudden stupor, the guard let go of him, and started to remove the rope.

"I thought the Master Assassin had rooted out the dissenting forces within his ranks? Are you working for humans, now? " the elf said, oblivious of Quinot's guard.

The mysterious elf's smile didn't waver. "With humans. But the likes of you will not understand the difference." His smile deepened. "You're hoping to attain the cooperation of the Lady Danika by taking her little brother? That sounds like a foolish plan to me."

The elf scoffed, "She will not be able to find him. We have seen to that. We're not as foolish as you think."

"Perhaps not."

The guard, who had restrained Quinot with a firm grasp on the shoulder, suddenly pushed him forward. Elfish heads turned. "Run for the shadows," Reed screamed as he pushed forward, his ankle burning. The elfish leader turned to look back, and gave a surprised gasp. Reed leapt pushing Quinot to the ground, covering him with his body, and coat. A projectile hit the earth just beside his cheek; another one bounced off just above his back, and then the screams began.

When the noise had settled down, Reed slowly got up, all the while clutching Quinot to his chest. The boy struggled.

"Don't look," said Reed. His hand gently pushed the boy's head into his skirt, as he slowly walked away from the carnage. "Don't look, Quinot. We're going to meet your brother. You're safe now."


Quinot clung to Reed's arm, as their unexpacted aide stepped from the shadows. "You've been a great help. Thank you," Reed said. And then he ruffled Quinots head, "It's okay, he's a friend." But the boy still clung to his arm.

"I hoped you knew what you were doing."

Reed stared to the ground. "I intended to reveal myself to them. I wanted them to know who, or rather what, they were up against. But things happened so fast..."

"You feel sorrow for their deaths?" The elf took a step forward. Quinot squeezed Reed's arm and pressed against his side.

"Sorrow? No. I would have preferred a different outcome. Did you know any of them. Did they have family?" Reed took his eyes off the ground and faced the elf. "I will take him to his brother," he said, tilting his head towards Quinot. His arm was beginning to grow numb.

The elf nodded. "We are hoping for gratitude. Will you tell Lord Gravin that I have been instrumental in his brothers escape? He needs to know that not all elves are his enemies."

"And perhaps his sister will regard you favourably, when it comes to dealing with the Kult'ar?"

A smile, and the elf faded back into the shadows.

Reed turned to Quinot. "Are you afraid of ghosts?"

Quinot let go of Reed's arm, but didn't say anything.

"I've got a friend I'd like you to meet. She helped you escape."

"Is she a ghost?" Quinot asked, sounding more curious than scared.

"Yes I am," said Gilli. "My name is Gilli. Are we going to be friends? Please say yes."


"That's the Chrysalis," the spirit exclaimed.

"A bat dropped it into my lap. Albert?" Barney shrugged.

A bat indeed. But they were right about Albert. If Jinx hadn't followed the spirit into the museum, he wouldn't have met the hatman again. But instructions were instructions. And you didn't turn him down. And with a soft pop, the faerie dragon was gone.


[Had to edit out Xhao. Created inconsistencies, later on. Allegiance remains, though.]

April 21st, 2004, 04:13 PM
"Oh f***!" said Kahn, standing.

He pointed to the horizon, which was now lined for as far as the eye could see with torch bearing barbarians and ulfhednar.

The group, except for Juzzza, stood and walked forward to look at the oncoming hordes.

The sun set and from behind them someone was running.

Jared sprinted into the group and bounced off Kahn's chest and fell backwards onto the mud.

"Slow down boy," said the Barbarian, "You'll die soon enough, no need to run towards them although I like your spirit."

Jared was wheezing and he shook his head but was too scared or out of breath to speak.

"The... No... They are... Coming, that way," he pointed back to the direction he had just come from.

The earth began to rumble. Horses.

Within minutes, to the rear of the remaining LRI, appeared thousands of cavalry and foot-soldiers. At their head, rode Tularis Yassassin.

"Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Kahn.

The assassin slipped from his horse and strode forward towards the group. Daggers lined his jerkin, over one shoulder lay a compound bow and over the other, the hilt of a slightly curved blade that crackled with red electricity.

"Hello daughter," said Tularis.

April 21st, 2004, 11:10 PM
The next morning dawned cold, ice crystals coating the loose clumps of grass in the valley.

Boldar had been awoken early by Cromwell, who along with Mik and Clash and a huge ogre of Nedrak's clan named Dig were eager to scout about the valley. Dig was to show them all the small caves and crawl holes he was aware of.

Boldar streched and looked over at the sleeping form of Mya, dressed for a change... He felt wonderful, and well rested. He belted on his sword and went outside into the valley. He could see the ogre regiment moving through the valley, many having already taken up position in on the ramparts of Castle Cleft. About twenty, along with about a dozen of Nedrak's had moved to the end of the valley and stood ready near the large entrance to the underdark.

Dig walked along the south wall first, pointing out several tiny crevises, the largest of which was several hundred feet up, and was the point of origination for one of the small creeks that ran through the valley. None seemed likely to be a point of entry for the drow, but Clash called over several ogres to patrol, just in case.

On the north wall, there were more caves, including one about 4' high and 2' wide in which, Dig explained, Kobold were known to live. The ogres, due to their size, had never been able to pursue the bothersome creatures, so they had flourished like rats. Clash put two ogres on this cave.

By the end of their search, they felt confident that no real threat would come from the small caves, and that the small guards they put in place would serve. They then then walked over to Castle Cleft.

"Not excactly... grand, is it?" Boldar commented.

Dig grunted. "It work. Ogre use it to watch for drow when on duty. Keep intruders out, collect tarrif from traders."

They entered through the large gate.

Inside was even more austere than outside. They entered into a large courtyard with 4 towers and large ladders leading up to the top of the fifteen foot wall. The courtyard was filled with the orderly tents of the ogre regiment, or at least much of it.

Mik looked at Clash. "You can't possibly think we are sleeping here?"

Clash frowned. "No, you sleep in that tower." He pointed to the southeast tower.

Mik and Boldar went where the ogre indicated, Crom chose to stay out with the ogres.

They found the tower to be a simple round stone room, about thirty feet across. A large fireplace and a massive scarred table with two huge benches. The rest of the party was sitting near the fire.

Mya stood up. "Find anything?"

Boldar grinned. "Nothing bigger than an ogre's bunghole!"

Mik smirked. "Though I'd not put it past the drow to sneak out of even one of those."

The two sat down. Gina passed over a huge flask. "Ursal Firewater boys!"

Boldar grinned. "Now that's what I call a drink! Hell of a way to pass a few days, drinking, resting, and letting the brutes do all the work!"

April 22nd, 2004, 06:22 AM
Mystiqe took one look at her father and slumped to the ground, blacking out.

Red rushed to her side, carefully resting her head on his lap.

"What's that rogue done to her?", Tularis asked, glaring at the assembled group.

"Umm, he... Danika...", Jared stuttered.

"She's just exhausted", Red cut in, taking hold of her slender hand. "We all are".

Tularis looked at the fighter and his daughter, confusion flickering in his eyes. "Your not...", he started, then thought better of it.

The dark elf turned to address the group, black leather trenchcoat swirling. "Some of you won't know me. I'm Tularis Yassassin, former Master Assassin of Derudin. Mystiqe is my daughter. You're in no danger from my troops, i promise. We are not loyal to the Emperor. We're here to help. We're on the same side."

Jared and Kahn stared at the dark elf troops with a mixture of awe and horror.

"We have to act fast...", Tularis continued, without waiting for introductions. "The ulfednar are massed to the West, numbering in the thousands...".

"We already know that", Albert said crossly. "But Danika's dead and the Kul'Tar isn't here."

"Dead?", Tularis queried, eyebrow arched. He glanced down at Mystiqe then back at Albert.

"No, no, nothing quite so simple", Albert replied, shaking his head with a smile.

"And the Kul'Tar?".

Kahn shifted uneasily, looking from Tularis to Albert.

"Its safely hidden. Juzzza knows where to find it."

The assassin nodded, but didn't say anything.

"How did you know where to find us?", Kahn asked bluntly, hoisting his axe onto his shoulder. He glared hard at the dark elf.

"My apprentice Xhao keeps watch over Mystiqe. He has done ever since she left Derudin. When i received word that the berserkers had reached the Longfin River, i headed here with what troops i could muster."

"You're really going to help us defend the Crystal City?", Jared stammered in disbelief. "Against your own kind?"

"...and against those... animals?", Kahn's deep voice rumbled, spitting out the word with distaste. He stepped towards Yassassin, eyes narrowing with suspicion.

"Yes, we're here to protect the Great Northen Kingdom", Tularis said solemnly, stepping around the barbarian. "It's time for dark elves and humans to put aside their differences and find a lasting peace. We have to fight together as allies if we're to save both our realms."

The assassin surveyed the party carefully, meeting each members eyes in turn. "I'm afraid we face a far greater threat than you realised. A dark power has claimed the West."

April 22nd, 2004, 09:03 AM
"Unfortunately, you've played right into our enemy's hands", Tularis announced, pacing back and forth in front of the group. "For years now, the Western Empire of Cybarak has been subject to a malign influence. A man known only as the 'Advisor' has gradually usurped power, taking over the realm. He wanted Saerka Shahn out of the way. You've inadvertently aided him in that respect."

Alice looked down at the shaking form of Sharn.

"Sharn may be a great warrior", the dark elf continued, "but he couldn't create or control those." Yassassin span on his heels, waving a gloved hand towards the dark figures on the horizon.

"The ulfhednar?", Jared whispered. "They're not Sharn's men?".

"No", Tularis replied sharply, "They belong to the Advisor. They're foul, unnatural beasts 'created' in Cybarak."

"If this man's such a threat, why didn't Juz know about him?", Red asked.

The assassin shrugged. "Those in power knew about him, but failed to recognise the threat he represented... or rather chose to ignore it. I doubt Juzzza would have heard about the Advisor, unless... ", he hesitated slightly, "unless my daughter mentioned him."

"The rulers of the North would have recognised the threat", Kahn argued, "The dark elves probably chose to ignore it."

Tularis stopped pacing and glared at the proud barbarian. "For centuries, humans and dark elves preferred to wage war on each other and indulge in petty prejudices, turning a blind eye to the West. Both sides did more than turn a blind eye, damn it, they actively traded with the Advisor. The diplomats thought they were so clever and astute with their peace treaties and gentlemen's agreements. They sat drinking cups of tea with the Advisor, declaring him a 'delightful' man. All the while, Cybarak grew in power."

The dark elf slammed a gloved fist into his thigh, struggling to control his anger. "The realm was allowed to live on the edge of morality, gradually descending into darkness and chaos. It looks pure and innocent on the surface covered in a thick layer of ice, dominated by spectacular mountains guarded with forts and towers. But underground...". He broke away, staring into the distance through the dark sky.

"No-one returns from Cybarak", Red muttered, voice hoarse.

Tularis nodded, silvery eyes glinting. When he continued, his voice was chilling, "Underground there's a labyrinth of tunnels and caverns, running across the whole realm. The entrances are few and far between, guarded with traps and ferocious beasts, unlike anything you've seen. At the heart of the labyrinth, there's a vast castle. The whole place is warped by a twisted, convoluted magic, an ancient form, dark and deadly. There are laboratories deep inside the castle where the Advisor experiments with life, creating those beasts. Given time, he can create far worse than the ulfheddin."

"We won't let him take the Crystal City", Jared declared shakily.

Tularis laughed bitterly, looking out across the wreckage strewn battlefield. "I wish his plans were limited to the Crystal City, it would be easier to have a single point of defence, but i fear their talons reach far wider. The Advisor focused upon taking the Crystal City because of Lady Danika and the Kul-Tar. When he learns that she is dead and the weapon unaccounted for... he'll turn his attentions elsewhere."

The assassin turned back to face the party. His eyes were pained. He smoothed down the leather on his coat, seemingly lost in thought, before speaking further.

"A terrible darkness is spreading across the world, more land falls into the Advisor's grasp with each passing day... Laketower, Eldtower and Fieldstone have already fallen to his armies in the north... Orctooth or Linset may be next...".

April 22nd, 2004, 09:12 AM
"S***", Red swore.

Jared fell to his knees. "My family..."

"Where is the b******?", Kahn growled, meeting the dark elf's eyes. "I'll kill him".

Tularis looked at the noble barbarian uneasily. "The Advisor's apparition can appear in many places, but his real form always lies within Tarrakdoun, the castle beneath Cybarak's icy wastes."

The dark elf glanced down at his daughter, a faint smile curling the ends of his lips. "Myst knows the way to Tarrakdoun, she can lead a small party there using stealth. However... ". He ground to a halt and seemed unwilling to continue.

Red looked up at him, nervously stroking Mystiqe's neck. "What is it?".

"Well, get on with it", Albert muttered. "What's the problem?".

Tularis started to speak, then stopped. He drew out his cane, unfolding it and slamming it against the ground.

"What?", Kahn asked bluntly.

"To kill the Advisor... they'll need the Kul'Tar."

A look of horror crossed Albert's face. "The Kul'Tar?", he repeated inanely. "That weapon has to be destroyed. It cannot be used in this world under any circumstances. No. Absolutely not."

"I'm afraid it's the only thing that can stop this 'man'. The Advisor is the very incarnation of magic run riot, twisted and turned in upon itself."