[Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Mon May 14, 2012 10:53 pm

Some great stuff to think about, in the background of this part of the tale. Some of the points will be addressed very soon, both here, and in the main Chronicle.

* * * * *

The Beast Man roared, sinking its fangs into her neck. She felt it tearing at her arm, felt bones crack under its grip as if they were no more than matchsticks. She had no breath to scream--

Jasna gulped for air, kicking, only to fling her blanket off. The sudden chill raking across her sweat-drenched tunic did more to awaken her than the terror of the dream.

The tent was very nearly dark, the brazier only a dull reddish glow on the other side of Petra’s cot. Jasna fumbled for her blanket, then froze as the shadow by the camp bed moved, sniffled.

“Bad dreams, too?”

Jasna gave a start, tugging the blanket closer about her shoulders. She'd expected it to be Katarin, sitting next to the camp bed.

"What are you doing on this side of the tent?" she whispered. "Where is your sense of... of propriety?"

“It’s dark,” Justin whispered back. “Not like I could see anything. Not that there’s anything to see.”

“Why aren’t you on the other side of the tent with Halav Red-nose?”

As if cued by the mention of his name, the big man drew in another snorting breath, to release it just as loudly.

"She was coughing,” Justin said. “And Katarin has finally fallen asleep. I... I didn't want to wake her. I was already up."

"Bad dreams." It wasn't a question, but the young man nodded anyway. "Gnolls?" Jasna asked.

"Rats."

"You are such a--"

Petra coughed, again, the sound thick, rattling.

Justin made to turn the girl again, but the fit subsided, her breathing evening out, with only the slightest of whistles. He sniffled.

"It's not that bad," Jasna said, keeping her voice low. "Katarin says another days' healing and she'll be good as new."

"This is all my fault," he said. "If I hadn't insisted we explore that place. Or... followed your instructions. I got us dropped into the pit, and now... this."

"I hope you're not looking for pity," Jasna said. "This is your fault. Just as much as it is mine." She smiled, giving a little laugh.

"How can you laugh at a time like this?"

"I was going to say 'it's no use dwelling on it since we can't change the past.'"

Justin managed a chuckle. "They really are the real thing, aren't they? The Three?"

Jasna nodded. "It would seem so. And look around you. No fogs over the lake. No screaming ghosts roaming the shoreline. No fishing village. No Threshold."

"No Baron to go to to help her."

"We're on our own," Jasna confirmed.

Justin gave another laugh, this one edged in bitterness. "All my fault," he repeated.

"You need to stop saying that," Jasna said.

"But it--"

"Enough!"

"I--"

"You what?"

"I did this. This. It's my fault. She wasn't supposed to change back, to heal it quickly."

Jasna sat up straighter. "Wait... what are you saying?"

"Petra's wound. She must have changed when... whatever happened, happened. And then I woke up, and Halav and his men were there and they were going to kill her! I couldn’t let them do that, could I?"

“So you did the job for them?”

“It was supposed to look like it. You said it yourself, that she can heal twice as quickly as a-- in her other form. I told her to play dead, to stay still while I led the men away.”

“What was your backup plan?” Jasna asked.

“Well, I thought the Baron surely would--”

“The Baron? Rely on the Baron? What if he was busy? Or recalled to the capital? Or two thousand years in the future? Didn’t you even think?” Jasna took a deep breath, as Halav snorted and rolled over. Brynne stirred, too, mumbling something in her sleep.

“We cannot rely on these people,” the girl whispered.

“But they are--” Justin began.

“They are fighting a war. They do not care one whit about us. Red-nose over there is only interested in your sword and armor. What do you think he’ll do with you once he finds out you don’t know how to craft it?”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Gecko » Tue May 15, 2012 12:59 am

Chimpman wrote:
Gecko wrote:
chimpman wrote:...elves disappearing from the Shires, dwarven expansionists...


wait a sec... are you saying that the gentle elves disappearance coincided with dwarven expansion in the hin lands in the timeline? If so I never made that connection (I thought the elves left long before the dwarves came). If so, some Interesting possibilities there - that's what I get for not knowing my Hinstory.

That's not something I considered actually... but you may have a good point. Let me just check the timelines:
BC 1000: Elves disappear. Realm of Othrong formed.
BC 965: Orcs overthrown. Hindon founded
BC 938: Fall of Hindon. Orcs and dwarves fight over the Shires
BC 929: Dwarven rule of the hin.

So what you suggest may be caused by the dwarves... but probably only indirectly. It looks like the disappearance of the elves would coincide with the rise of Othrong circa BC 1000. The dwarves won't rule for another 70 years...


hmm... 60 some years not exactly the long before I thought it was, but still a bit to long to be directly connected.

... but it could very well be the dwarven expansionism that pushes the orcs into hin territory in the first place.


I thought the orcs came from the West? Or am I confusing them with the Traladaran beastmen invasion?

In fact, if you want to be really evil about it, the dwarves might have had some hand in setting up Othrong in the first place. Get the orcs in there to slaughter the elves, and soften up the hin before dwarve rule. In my BC 2300 campaign setting the dwarves blame the elves for causing the GRoF, and if you carry this attitude over, then there could be ample reason for the dwarves to want the elves dead (and for them to use the humanoids to do it).


hmm... if that's the case, then it seem they would also be glad about the beastmen invasion of Traldara.

Wasn't this also the era when Ogres (and perhaps other humanoids) arrived on the Isle of Dawn and in Davania? Seems like these centuries was an era of humanoid expansion all over the place.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:41 am

“Come on,” Jasna said, standing up. She gripped a corner of the cot. “Help me with this.”

Justin frowned. “What are you--”

Jasna prodded Brynne with a toe. “Hey!” she hissed. “Wake up! We’re leaving.”

Brynne groaned, blinking through her mass of hair. “I had the strangest dream that we--” She sat up, looking around. “Oh. Never mind. It wasn’t a dream.”

“Wake up your girlfriend and grab a corner. We’re getting out of here.”

Brynne looked up from pulling on her boot. “What? But they--”

“I just don’t have a good feeling about this,” Jasna whispered.

The brewer’s daughter gave Katarin a jab with her elbow. When the weaver just mumbled and turned on to her side, Brynne gave her a swat on the rear.

She covered the girl’s mouth as she gave a yelp. “Shhh! Boots. Then make one of those rings of silence around us. Jasna says we’re leaving.”

Katarin gave a nod.

“You could have been nicer about waking me,” she grumbled as she slipped on her boots.

“We don’t have time for that,” Jasna said. “Come on, already!”

Brynne nudged Jasna away from the cot. “The stableboy and I can handle this.”

Jasna glanced over the tent. She piled their bedrolls over Petra, then picked up her spear from where it leaned against one of the benches. She crept up to the opening in the tent, listening. She gave a nod and a gesture, stepping through the entrance.

The others approached, silent. Katarin held open the other side of the tent’s flap, and Jasna’s ears popped as the shell of Katarin’s weaving passed over her.

Two guards slept to either side of the tent, their snores muted by the changes Katarin had made to the air around the group. They squelched through the mud as quickly as they could.

“Wait, wait wait!” Jasna whispered, flapping a hand behind her.

Brynne and Justin slowed, setting down the cot, each of them gulping in the cold night air.

“She’s just a little thing,” Justin huffed. “How can she weigh so much?”

Brynne glowered at the boy, then looked over to Jasna. “Why are we stopping?” she whispered.

“Because--” Jasna whispered back. “Why are we whispering? Nobody can hear us.”

“Nobody is here to hear us,” Katarin said, her voice soft and distant.

“That’s right,” Jasna said.

“But we’re nearly out of this camp town,” Justin said. “What happened to the-- oh….”

Jasna gave an exaggerated nod. “Very good!” she said, her enthusiasm just as exaggerated. "Be careful," she cautioned.

They began forward again, Jasna slowing them even more as they reached the corner of one of the last ramshackle buildings. Another thirty yards clumped with tents and lean-tos stretched here and there around the main bulk of the town.

Jasna waved them forward again, took two steps away from the building, and ran headlong into a brick wall covered in fur.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:54 am

Jasna’s cry was choked off as the beast man’s great paw clamped over her throat. She kicked, to no avail. Even without its arm extended all the way, her feet came nowhere near to connecting.

“Let her go!”

Brynne launched herself at the brute, but it slapped her away with its other arm, sending her splashing through the mud a good yard away.

That snapped Katarin from her daze, and she tugged at the threads she’d already woven, drawing deeper on the currents of Thought, wrapping them round and round the creature’s wrist, pulling them taught with a flick of her fingers.

The gnoll brought its arm up, the weave dissolving around it, and threw Jasna at the weaver, sending them both sprawling. Jasna rolled, using the momentum to regain her feet, and she leapt over Katarin, thrusting the spear out ahead of her.

The gnoll reached for its waist, drawing the sword and bringing it up across the shaft, shearing the tip away. Jasna scrambled back, ducking as the blade whistled over her head.

It brought the blade down again, but the metal rang, raining pale blue sparks as it skipped off the air just in front of Jasna’s nose.

“Behind me!” Katarin gasped. She and Jasna both shuffled backwards, the gnoll hammering at the weaver’s shield of air, its strokes coming faster as it grew more frustrated.

A ring of steel came from behind them, and the gnoll’s next swing rained yellow and orange sparks as its blade skittered down the length of Justin’s sword.

“What are you doing?” Jasna cried.

“Buying you time!” Justin panted, through gritted teeth. He deflected another attack, but nearly lost his footing in the process. “You have to wake the camp!”

The gnoll reared back and howled, wrenching to one side. It brought the broad blade down, and Brynne cried out as she tumbled away, dropping the flint-tipped spear as she clutched at her bleeding arm.

Justin leapt at the opening, but his blade struck more sparks as it grated across the gnoll’s chest.

“Armor?” he gasped, leaping away as the brute struck back.

“Let me see!” Katarin hissed, pulling at Brynne’s fingers.

“It’s fine, just a scratch. Don’t worry about me. Can’t you do something to wake up the village?”

“They can’t hear us,” Jasna said. “You didn’t… unravel the thing you did to the air.” She waved her fingers.

“The weaves are knotted,” Katarin said. “I--”

“Well un-knot them!”

“It’s not that simple!”

“A little help here?” Justin called. He caught the gnoll’s slice right at the crosspiece of his sword, nearly spinning around.

“We need reinforcements!” Brynne said.

“Light! Fire! Do something!” Jasna shouted.

Katarin clutched at her head, and then shoved Jasna away, closing her hand over the red gem hanging at her breast. The stone burst to light, the red even deeper as it shone through the blood, still wet between her fingers.


Far above, lightning rippled through the clouds, first one bolt, and then another, followed by three more, then six, then nine. They bent, curving, twisting one among the other, each chasing the tail of another until they began to turn a circle, drawing in other smaller stray bolts.

The girls stared, as did Justin and the gnoll, each awaiting the crash of thunder.

It never came, but the night rang like a great golden bell, and motes of gold and silver light began to collect, swirling and fusing into bigger and brighter points within the circle of lightning that hissed and spat overhead.

The night rang again, the lightning ring pulsing brighter, and a column of brilliant white light flooded down, some miles off but bright as Matera when she shone full.

Another, and another pillar of light lanced from the brilliant spot in the clouds. Jasna counted nine of them.

Brynne, though, was trying to count the hulking, shadowed forms that the columns of light had illuminated, skulking among the camp’s perimeter. Another rose from a nearby tent, its dull iron blade slick with blood, painted brilliant red in the pure white light.

When it turned to look towards the village, they all saw the bloody crescents shining at the bottom rim of the gray-green flash of its night-adapted eyes.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:55 pm

“That’s more like it!” Jasna shouted, jumping up and down and clapping her hands.

“But… I didn’t….”

A howl of pain interrupted Katarin. Justin had scored a hit, while the hulking gnoll was distracted. It leaned heavily on one leg, the other darkening with blood. The monster lunged at the young man, but he danced back, angling off to the gnoll’s injured side. It howled again, its own turn slower.

“Stop playing with that thing and get over here, Stableboy!”

Justin risked a glance past the hulking gnoll, where Jasna stomped her foot, spattering mud everywhere and pointing towards Petra’s cot. He ducked as the gnoll took another swipe, backpedalling, forcing it to turn, again, on its wounded leg. Its howl sounded more annoyed than pained, though.

He dodged two more swings of the thing’s great sword before being able to back closer to the girls. He braced to block another overhead chop, but the beast’s blade spat brilliant blue sparks as it smashed into the air above Justin’s head.

“Don’t just stand there, grab a corner and move!” Brynne called, hefting one end of the camp bed. Jasna was there, heaving at another corner, and Justin fumbled his sword into his other hand, lifting the last corner.

“What about—”

“Just get back into the camp!” Katarin hissed, her frown deepening as she twitched her fingers just before another blow sent a fresh shower of blue-white sparks cascading over the shell of air she held in place.

She closed her eyes, slowed her breathing, concentrated on the candle flame in her mind’s eye. It guttered, barely alight. She didn’t have much power left to draw. She heard the jabber of her friends as they hurried Petra away, Jasna and Brynne each giving orders to the poor brave Stableboy. She heard the slosh and slurp of their feet in the mud. She heard the murmur of the villagers, though it must have been shouting, outside the sound warding she’d woven.

She heard the beastly snarl, the whistle as the sword fell in another deadly arc. Would her shield of air hold together? Already, the weaving of it frayed at the edges, the threads barely held in place, and slipping, slipping…
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:36 pm

The clash of iron on air never came. There was a brightening of the darkness before her closed eyes, but it was a warm reddish color, not the cold blue light of metal against sorcery.

And the gnoll howled, this time in genuine pain, rather than annoyance.

Katarin opened her eyes, to see a smoldering furrow in the thing’s shoulder, the metal pauldron steaming, the edges gleaming orange-yellow against the night. It turned, looking up, over its charred shoulder, at the sky, where a pinpoint of brilliant orange gleamed like a new star.

A falling star, Katarin realized, as the point of light grew rapidly bigger, brighter, streaking like one of the stars from the Festival of Lights.

It struck the gnoll in the back, and the thing’s howl bubbled, then choked off as the armor glowed a dull red, the orange lancet bursting through to sear into the ground at Katarin’s feet.

Steaming mud and dark beastman blood spattered off the lower edge of the shield of air she still held in place, and she scrambled backwards, letting the shield fall as another star streaked towards the beastman.

Not just one, she saw, as she looked past the creature. Streaks of orange and yellow fell from the sky, raining down on the tents along the outskirts of the village, and through the weaving of silence, she could hear more howls, each more pained than those of the beastman before her.

A bolt struck its wounded leg, and it collapsed to its knees, its howl a high, brittle thing as it clutched at the smoking hole.

The night sky above rippled, and a figure appeared, descending amidst a blaze of silvery-gold light. It was hard to see just where the flowing gown, streaming hair, and outspread wings left off. A golden crown blazed on the figure’s brow, above molten golden eyes.Aa familiar red-gold gleam from the circlet matched the light emanating from pair of stones bound in an impossibly delicate weaving of golden threads and loops and whirls encasing the figure’s lower arms. A gossamer golden thread shimmered at the fingertips of the figure’s right hand, which was held at her cheek. Her left was extended before her, clutching a heavy war bow of gleaming platinum and gold.

A streamer of fire snaked from the stone adorning the pale angel’s right wrist, coursing from her fingers to align with her left finger, which pointed steadily at the mortally wounded beast man.

The great silvery wings gave a beat, steadying the descending figure, and she loosed the arrow of flame, sending it streaking into the beastman’s sword arm. Most of the limb tumbled away, sword and all, amidst another shrill howl of agony.

The wings flexed once more, gave two beats, and the figure’s silvery boots touched down on the muddy ground, the shimmering gown settling about her ankles. She gave the top limb of the bow a sharp wrench, and it came apart. The shining figure didn’t break stride, but brought the sword in it’s left hand up, blade reversed, cleaving through the beastman’s iron back plate as if it were cheesecloth. The blade spat and steamed, even as the angelic figure planted it in the ground at Katarin’s feet.

The figure knelt, head bowed, golden hair flowing, wings leaving steaming furrows in the mud as she went to one knee behind the sword, before the wide-eyed weaver.
“The Homeguard is arrived, Oh, Chosen of the First Ones.”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:11 pm

Haven't forgotten about the Handmaidens! But recent events in the Comeback Inn play-by-post reminded me of the shrikes' descent.....

-------------------------
The winged warrior spoke with Aurora’s voice, though the language was unfamiliar. It echoed in Katarin’s mind in the same mixture of Traladaran and Thyatian that she normally found herself thinking most of the time.

She had Aurora’s face, and build, though her hair… well, Katarin had never seen Aurora’s hair glow before. Nor had she seen the shrike grow wings and fly. But those aside, the resemblance was precise. Exact.

“Khoronus’ beard, what is going on here?”

Halav’s voice cut through Katarin’s shock, and she blinked. A big hand closed over the girl’s shoulder.

“Here now, girl, you’d best--”

The winged guardian was on her feet, sword drawn and leveled under the big man’s chin.

“No!” Katarin said, laying a hand on the shrike’s golden bracer. “He is an… ally. Please, do not harm him, or any of the people here.”

Golden eyes held the man frozen in place just as surely as the blade at his throat. After a long breath, the shrike returned her sword to its scabbard in one fluid, well-practiced motion. She glanced down at one of the blue gems twined in her vambrace. It winked in a broken cadence, twice, and then went dark.

“The beast men have been dispatched, but more are on the move,” the siren reported. “You cannot stay here, Chosen.”

Katarin swallowed, nodding. “We know.”

The big red-bearded man cleared his throat, crossing his arms. “You knew the beast men were this close?”

Katarin shook her head. “No, I didn’t mean —”

“You thought to creep away while they attacked? Maybe they offered to spare you in return for the location of this camp?”

The weaver shook her head, again. “No! We—”

“I knew it! I told that woman not to trust you— any of you. And now you bring down these… these… white witches on us!”

“These ‘white witches’ just saved most of your people!” Katarin shouted back.

“Shall I cut this one down, Chosen?”

“No! I told you, he… he is an ally.”

The shrike bowed. “Apologies, Chosen.”

“Why don’t we go back to your tent, Master Red-Hair, and we can talk this over?” Katarin asked.

“‘Talk this over?’ While you two speak to each other in the devil’s tongue, no doubt plotting where to strike next? No,” he said, crossing his arms.

“You five were so intent to creep from this place in the dark of night, to spit and trample on our hospitality, and bring down enemies on our heads. Be off with you! I don’t care what that Queen of Krakatos says. I’ve half a mind to toss her out on her ear along with you lot. Go on!” Halav waved his hands in a dismissive gesture. “Be gone with you. And take your angels of death with you. I do not want to see a single golden hair by the time the sun rises!”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:08 pm

“Great job, getting us kicked out of Halav’s camp,” Jasna grumbled, kicking at the rock.

“You— We were leaving there, anyway!” Katarin said. “And precisely where was it you had in mind that we go?”

Jasna slowed, turned, walking backward. “Well, it’s your problem now,” she said.

“It’s all of our problem,” Petra said. She was back on her feet, keeping apace with the rest of the group, her breath coming short, but without any signs of discomfort. The shrike, who followed behind, casting a glance back towards the camp every dozen paces or so, had laid hands on the girl, the two clear, gold-veined stones on her bracers gleaming for several minutes.

That had not gone over well with Halav, either.

“You’re the expert on the Song,” Jasna said, shifting her glance to Brynne. “Where do you think we should go?”

“The Song isn’t a travel guide,” the other girl growled. “Besides, where could we go? Lavv? We may as well just go back into Halav Red-Nose’s camp. Krakatos? If their queen is any indication of what her people are like, I think I’ll just as soon take my chances in these werewolf-infested woods. And it’d take us at least a month to reach Achelos,” she added.

“Nonsense. It’s only a week and a half from Specularum!” Jasna stumbled as her heel caught a rock, and she spun, kicking the rock away as she regained her balance.

“By road,” Brynne said, nodding her head. “Maybe this would be a good time to remind you that there is no ’Specularum.’ There may not even be a ‘Marilenev’ yet.”

Jasna stopped, and the other girls came to a halt around her. A bit ahead of them, the lantern’s light bobbed, paused, and then grew steadily brighter, accented by the heavy jangling of chain armor as Justin hurried back.

“What is it?” he gasped, holding his lantern up. “Were we going too fast?” He looked over at Petra. “Jasna can carry the lantern, and I could carry you, if—”

“I’m fine,” the girl sighed. “Katarin? Please tell him I’m fine.”

“Well, you’re a bit pale,” the weaver said, “and—”

Justin set down the lantern, the skillet slipping free of one of the loops on the side of his pack, swinging down to ring against the hilt of his sword. He quickly straightened — too quickly, for he staggered backwards, another pot coming free of its bindings. It clanged against the skillet, and kept going as the young man struggled to work the straps from his shoulders.

“What are you doing?” Jasna shouted, above the clamor.

Brynne pressed her hands to her ears. “You’re making enough racket to raise the dead!”

“But she—”

“Vatu!” the shrike barked, the command accented by the ratcheting clatter of her sword coming free of its scabbard.

Justin went still, and Jasna snatched the pot and the skillet before they could make any further noise.

A howl, followed by several more, took the place of the sudden silence.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:45 pm

Justin closed a hand over his sword hilt, but the shrike’s hand closed over his wrist. The blue stone entwined in the bracer flickered, briefly, and she shook her head.

“Nieah,” she said, adding something else in a stern tone.

“You sent all the others back,” Justin said, struggling to draw his sword. The delicate fingers clenched harder about his wrist, and the young man hissed as the chain link began to bite.

“You need — ”

“She says your sword will be of no use,” Petra said. “She called it ‘dead metal.’ I guess that means it doesn’t have any magic in it.”

The chorus of long howls sounded again.

Justin hissed as the shrike’s hand again tightened on his wrist as he tried to draw his sword.
“They’re just wolves—“

“Think about where — and when — we are,” Petra snapped. “The Alphatians are not here yet. There is no druid in these woods. There have been no Silver Purges. Those are not ‘just wolves.’”

Justin looked down at his sword. “But it worked when I —” He stopped, color rising in his cheeks.

Petra’s lips settled into a line. “Those are not werewolf pups. That is a hunting pack.”

The howl’s rose again, louder.  Petra cocked her head, scowled. “Several hunting packs. Only the strongest of their kind get to go on the hunt. That,” she said, pointing at the scabbard, “may as well be a wooden practice sword.”

“It sounds like they’re getting closer,” Katarin said. “Maybe Halav will take us back, if we — ”

“Maybe Red Nose will accuse us of bringing those things down on the village,” Brynne said.

“Maybe… if I can pull in enough Power, I can work a  warding around us,” Katarin said. She drew a long, shaking breath, closing her eyes, her fingers spreading slightly, palms towards the ground. Her hands trembled.

Brynne pinched the weaver’s behind, causing her to give a yelp, hopping away.

“It’s too much. You’re past your limit,” the taller girl warned.

“What if you only needed to ward a doorway?” Petra asked. She spread her hands, fingers wiggling at the width of a set of double doors.

Katarin nodded, slowly. “That would not tax me anywhere near as much. It might even hold until dawn if I tied it off.”

It was Petra’s turn to nod. “All right, come on.”

She turned, and started off the trail, into the woods, away from the river.

The shrike released Justin’s wrist, catching up to the younger girl in a few strides.

The others stood, staring at each other.

“You want us to go into those woods?” Jasna asked after the girl. She turned to Katarin. “Are you sure the fever didn’t make porridge of her brains?”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Havard » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:57 pm

No...not the woods! :o

:)

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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:04 pm

Havard wrote:No...not the woods! :o

:)

-Havard

Druid-less, lycanthrope-infested woods to the east of Threshold/Lugsid. What could possibly go wrong? :P
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Chimpman » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:51 pm

:mrgreen: I've missed these! Nice to get another installment. And I'm with Havard on this one. I wouldn't go into the woods ;)
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Angel Tarragon » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:14 am

RobJN wrote:
Havard wrote:No...not the woods! :o

:)

-Havard

Druid-less, lycanthrope-infested woods to the east of Threshold/Lugsid. What could possibly go wrong? :P

Everything.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:08 pm

“What was that?” Jasna asked. She slowed, then stopped, head cocked to the side as she listened.

“If we’re going to stop every time you hear something, why, I’ll…” Brynne said, shaking her quarterstaff at the other girl.

“Quiet!” Jasna and Petra hissed at the same time.

The sound came again, a dry rustling, a groan.

“It’s the wind.” Petra took a step, but Jasna grabbed the other girl’s cloak, tugging.

“That was footsteps!” Jasna whispered.

“If they’re werewolves, wouldn’t they be paw-steps?” Justin asked. He moved the lantern back and forth, but the feeble light did not press very far beyond the trees to either side of the game path.

“There! There it is again!” Jasna said, as a quiet, furtive rustle sounded, followed by another creaking groan.

“That’s the wind,” Katarin said. She stared at a point slightly above her hand, which she held slightly cupped, the fingers spread.

“You’re just trying to keep us from panicking,” Jasna grumbled.

“Who’s panicking?” Brynne asked. Though she held her quarterstaff at her side, she did not put much weight on it, and she — like Jasna — kept her balance shifted slightly forward. “Katarin has her mother’s knack for reading the wind.”

“Wouldn’t it be listening to the—” Justin started, but the sharp pop of a snapping twig caused the group to suck in a short, collective breath.

“That was not the wind,” the shrike said, her grip tightening on the hilt of her sword. She turned a slow circle. “Lead on, Sixth.”

They resumed as quick a pace as the uneven ground along the trail permitted, only slowing when they came to a split in the path.

Petra frowned, lifting her nose, sniffing. Her frown only deepened, and she tested the air along both paths again.

“I thought you said you knew where we were going,” Jasna said.

“I do,” Petra said, a bit of a pout in her voice. “In my own time. The woods are different than they, um… will be,” she finished. “This isn’t really the same path. There are quite a few trees here, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“It’s a forest,” Jasna said with a shrug. “Aren’t they usually full of trees?”

More trees,” the younger girl said, followed by a sigh. She sniffed again at the air, and then pointed to the righthand path. “That way.”

“If you’re just going to guess, we can always call words or wolf,” Jasna said, coins clanking as she fished through the pouch at her belt.

As if on cue, a high, ululating howl rose from somewhere within the woods. It was picked up by another and then another voice.

“They have our scent,” Petra whispered. “Come on, it shouldn’t be much further.”

The others had to jog to keep up with her.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Gecko » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:41 pm

RobJN wrote:“If you’re just going to guess, we can always call words or wolf,” Jasna said, coins clanking as she fished through the pouch at her belt.


nice detail :mrgreen:
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:49 pm

Gecko wrote:
RobJN wrote:“If you’re just going to guess, we can always call words or wolf,” Jasna said, coins clanking as she fished through the pouch at her belt.


nice detail :mrgreen:


Gaz 1, p.14 wrote:The copper piece is called the kopec. On the obverse is the great wolf of the inland forests; on the reverse are the (expected) inscriptions, “Grand Duchy of Karameikos” and “One Kopec.”
:mrgreen:
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat May 18, 2013 11:57 am

Image

The trees didn’t so much thin as simply… stop. Clouds swept from across Matera’s face, high in the sky, on it’s second days’ fullness, silvery light revealing a squat stone hut, the roof half fallen in. The doorway was not so dark, the moonlight only slightly dimmed by the few remaining bundles of thatch.

“It’s really here,” Petra breathed. She rubbed at her nose, taking a half step back, into the blue-tinged moonshadow of the trees.

“You mean you weren’t even sure?” Jasna asked.

The younger girl shrugged. She rummaged through her belt pouch, producing a small square of folded cloth. Shaking fingers plucked at the corners, revealing a small supply of pale white petals that seemed to glow with the faintest of light. Petra pinched four of them from the pile, but Katarin’s hand on her wrist stopped her hand halfway to her mouth.

“You don’t have many moonflower petals left,” Katarin said.

Petra’s lip curled, her teeth flashing for an instant. “Don’t you think I know that?” she snapped, wrenching her arm from the weaver’s grip.

It was caught by another hand, Brynne’s, and her hold did not break as Petra tried to wriggle out of it.

“Two,” the older girl said.

“But it’s full!” Petra whined. “It’s starting to itch again. I have enough for the next two nights, even if I use a little more.”

“And what happens when you run out?” Katarin asked.

“I’ll find more! I know where it grows, Druid Misha showed me the spots.”

Brynne’s grip tightened as Petta squirmed. “The forest has changed, you said so yourself. What if the flowers aren’t there?”

Katarin folded her arms. “Didn’t you say the Glantrians brought the moonflower to this part of the Known World?”

Petra swallowed.

“The Flaems don’t make their landfall until seven hundred years after the Alphatians,” Katarin said. She leaned closer to Petra, nearly nose-to-nose with the girl. “The Alphatians aren’t even here yet.” She held out her hand, beneath the one Brynne held in a firm grip.

The younger girl’s eyes narrowed, pupils dilating. She closed her eyes, slowing her breathing, and the tension faded from her fingers. Two of the petals fluttered into the palm of Katarin’s hand. The weaver tipped them back into the spider-silk handkerchief.

Petra yanked her arm free as Brynne’s grip slackened, and she stuffed the two flower petals in her mouth. After a few moments, the shaking in her hands stopped, and she folded the corners of the handkerchief slowly and carefully over the remaining petals.

She made to slip the bundle back into her belt pouch, but Brynne cleared her throat.

Petra sighed. “Maybe… you should hold onto these for me,” she mumbled, and handed the kerchief to Katarin, without meeting the girl’s eyes.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:26 pm

Jasna looked up, as the glow from the lantern wavered, dimmed.

“Hey! Where do you think you’re going, Stableboy?”

Justin was halfway across the small clearing, lantern held high, his sword drawn.

A hand on Jasna’s arm stopped her from following the young man. Moonlight glinted oddly off curves and swirls of golden metal. Jasna glanced back, saw the same discolored reflection from eyes nearly the same color.

She caught her breath. The shrike’s pupils were no longer round, but elongated, like those of a cat.

“Something is in there.” The voice was no more than a breath in Jasna’s ear. The tiny thief felt a pang of envy as the shrike danced away with hardly a rustle of cloth or a crackle of leaves under foot. The sound of her sword clearing its scabbard the thinnest whisper of a silvery tone. Jasna did not even see the shrike’s shadow as she dashed through the flickering circle of yellowish light shed by Justin’s lantern.

She pressed her back against the uneven stone wall by the doorway, fingers flexing to check her grip on the strange sword’s hilt. She motioned — twice, before the young man responded to her gesture — and Justin circled around to the other side of the doorway.

A gust of wind sent trees creaking, leaves dancing through the lantern’s light just as the clouds did the same with the moonlight.

Beside Jasna, Petra sniffed, then sniffed again, leaning into the wind.

The shrike tensed, and Justin set his lantern down, bringing his sword up, both hands on the hilt.

“Wait!” Petra cried.

Were the shrike’s gaze daggers, Jasna thought, they would surely have dropped the younger thief where she stood.

Petra simply ignored the furious glance, and dashed from the treeline, pulling the hood of her cloak further down as the clouds raced away from Matera’s shining face.

The shrike extended her sword arm, the flat of the blade slapping against the far side of the doorway, nearly catching Justin’s arm.

“Sixth, there could be danger here, I cannot allow you to—“

Petra slowed, but only to duck beneath the shrike’s arm.

“I know that scent,” she said. “Morana, come out before one or the other of these two try to spit you.”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:03 am

Justin lifted his lantern. The flickering yellow light showed an uneven dirt floor peeking from beneath an age’s worth of wind-blown leaves and tumbled stone from one of the walls.

“There’s nobody here,” he said. The young warrior stepped past Petra, pushing the lantern’s illumination into the far corners of the cabin. “See? Noth—”

Justin stumbled backwards as the shadow from the darkest corner of the room rose up, skirting the circle of lantern light. Justin fumbled for his sword, but the shrike slapped the back of his hand with the flat of her own blade.

She turned, reaching out, and caught the dark gray cloak, giving it a sharp yank.

The figure gave a very un-shadow-like choked-off squawk, and then plunked very un-shadow-like into a pile of drifted leaves.

Large blue eyes blinked up from a tangle of shoulder-length golden locks. The girl scrambled back, but the shrike followed her move, bringing the sword up to the other girl’s throat.

“You will show me your hands,” the shrike said.

The girl’s eyes flicked from the shrike, to Justin, but the tension did not ease from her shoulders until she saw Petra and the rest of the Handmaidens. But rather than smile, she frowned.

“Petra? Jasna? What are you doing here?”

The younger thief blinked in surprise. “What are we—?”

“What are you doing here?” Jasna said, stepping past Petra and crossing her arms.

The other girl gathered her feet, skirts billowing as she made to rise.

“I did not bid you rise,” the shrike said, and gave the sword a flick of her wrist, the tip dangerously close to the clasp of the girl’s cloak.

“Morana, maybe you should—” Petra did not get to finish her warning.

The girl — Morana — narrowed her eyes, her lips meeting in a firm line that turned up at one corner as she smirked at the shrike. She swept an armful of leaves up into the shrike’s face.

The shrike barely batted an eye, the sword flashing in the lantern light as it cut through the swirl of leaves.

The leaves were all the sword cut through.

The Handmaidens cried out in shock, and they were met with a giggle behind them.

The shrike turned, bringing her sword around in an upwards sweep.

There was a flash of green-tinged gold, and the weapon flew from the shrike’s hands, clattering against what was left of one of the cabin’s low stone walls.

Clattering, like wood, rather than a ringing of metal on stone. In place of the shrike’s sword a hefty, crooked branch of about the same size settled amidst the leaves and stones.

“Don’t!” Morana warned, as the shrike reached for the sheathed dagger at her waist.

The girl stood slightly crouched, one hand outstretched, the other held close to her breast. A thick gold chain wound about that hand and part of her wrist. A multifaceted gem filled her palm, her fingers curled loosely around the stone. A green-gold glow seeped, scintillating, from between her fingers, bringing out the bronze in her complexion, painting her eyes the dazzling blue-green of the waters of the Sea of Dread.

The hair caught in the stone’s light gleamed the deep and glossy black of a raven’s wing.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:47 pm

“I said ‘Don’t!’” Morana hissed, when the shrike’s fingers twitched, close to the hilt of the dagger. “Unless you want your arm to join the sword over there.”

“Maybe you’d best do as she says,” Katarin said, edging closer to the shrike.

A trio of howls rang through the woods.

“They’re getting closer,” Brynne said, turning away from the group to keep her eyes on the doorway.

“This is stupid,” Jasna huffed. “You—“ she jabbed a finger at the shrike. “Sit down over there.” She pointed to the corner farthest away from the sword-turned-branch. “And you—“ she rounded on Morana, “Just…. got taller,” the girl finished, the heat leaving her voice as she frowned. “Didn’t she?”

“Everyone is taller than you,” Petra said, but her smirk didn’t stay in place as she leaned slightly closer to Morana. “I’m more interested in how she turned her hair black like that.”

Another chorus of howls was joined by several other voices.

“Explanations later,” Brynne said. “Kat, if you’re going to magic us up a barrier, now would be a good time.”

The weaver looked over from where she’d been talking quietly with the shrike, clearing her throat. The other girls tried to hide their smiles, and Petra dug an elbow into Jasna’s ribs.

“Don’t,” she whispered.

“It’s not like I was going to whistle,” the other thief muttered through her pout.

“You remember what happened last time Katarin was distracted when she…” Petra wiggled her fingers in an imitation of the other girl’s weaving.

“The fire wasn’t that big.”

Petra pointed to the piles of leaves.

Jasna blew out a breath, puffing her bangs from her eyes. She rounded on Morana.

“Turn it back,” she said. “If those things break through Katarin’s shield, we’re going to need Goldy’s sword.”

“'Goldy?'”

The others voiced the question at nearly the same instant.

“What?” Jasna asked. “I can’t keep calling her ‘shrike of the Homeguard.’ It takes too long to think, let alone speak.”

“Jasna thinking. Never a scribe to take note when we need one,” Brynne snorted.

“Almost as rare as you doing it, I know, Brynne,” the other girl spat.

Another chorus of howls cut off Brynne’s reply, and she turned her attention back to the moon-lit tree line, shifting her feet, bringing her quarterstaff to the ready. “The sword would really help us, Morana.”

“Hey, what am I? Chopped liver?” Justin asked.

“Not yet,” Jasna said. “Where did you learn how to swing that thing?”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:26 am

Howls filled the night.

“We’re out of time!” Brynne called. She stepped to one side of Katarin. Justin drew a deep breath, and took up position on the other side of the girl, sword held in a low guard.

Katarin reached out, her hand held flat, resting it against the door that no longer filled the doorway. The hand shook. The weaver drew several deep breaths.

“I don’t know if I have the strength left,” she whispered.

Three shadows blackened, darkening from the bluish-purple of moonshadow, six greenish-white points of light burned higher up in each mass, and then the space below each pair split, daggerlike teeth shining brightly in the night.

The jaws opened in a trio of howls, and then the heads lowered, the forms hunching, shadows rippling as the creatures dropped to all fours and charged the tumbled-down hut.

“Back!” Brynne shouted, hauling on Katarin’s cloak, spinning the smaller girl behind her as she stepped over to block the doorway.

Justin shouldered her aside.

“They’ll chew right through your leathers,” he hissed. “They won’t have such an easy time with Halgrin’s chain.”

Brynne scowled, but before she could reply, Justin brought his shield up, bracing his feet, and then leaned forward with a sharp cry as a mass of fur and claws slammed into the metal. The young lord slid nearly a full stride with the impact.

“By the sword, sea, and the land!” Justin shouted, bringing his sword up and over the top of the shield, stabbing downward.

The creature’s howl rose in pitch, climbing to a whine, as the young man pressed his way back into the doorway.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:40 pm

He may as well have slammed into the stone wall of the tumbled-down hovel. One moment he was wheezing for breath as he slammed into the rim of his shield, and the next Justin tumbled backwards, through the air, the little breath he had left leaving in a rattle as he hit the ground flat on his back. He saw the furred bulk of the werewolf step through the doorway, massive arm raised, blotting out the few stars winking through the trees overhead.

“You get away from him!”

Its arm’s downward swipe wavered, as it gave another pained howl. Jasna came out of her roll, deep red droplets of blood spattering away as she raised her knife.

The werewolf thought better of swinging at her as it turned, favoring the leg the girl had slashed.

“That’s right,” Jasna said. “Me and my knife might be little, but we can both bite!” She feinted, and the hulking wolf-man dodged a half-step back, claws raised to ward off the strike.

“Behind you!”

Jasna dropped, as Brynne’s staff whistled through the air where the girl had been readying to spring at the werewolf.

Another clambered through the doorway, and the taller girl’s staff caught it on the tip of it’s gaping jaws, snapping its head back.

“That won’t stop it for long!” Katarin called.

“Well it’s all we’ve got!” The words came through clenched teeth, as Brynne brought her staff around, within a finger’s breadth of the beast’s nose.

Katarin closed her hand around the red stone pendant. She reached a trembling hand towards Brynne, hooking and twisting her fingers. Red light welled up between the weaver’s fingers, and the tips of Brynne’s staff burst into fitful golden flame.

Those flames leapt, spattering as she connected again with the werewolf’s snout. This time, the creature yelped, rather than snarled, and stumbled backwards, beating at the singed fur.

The other wolf shied away as well, stepping away from the staff’s backswing. Its bloodshot eyes glanced at the arcs of fire cut through the air by Brynne’s staff, and at the gleaming knife in Jasna’s hand.

Which allowed Petra to leap on its back, barely able to clasp her hands together as her arms circled the thing’s great neck.

It howled again, wrenching its shoulders this way and that, but Petra only tightened her grip. She sank her teeth into the thing’s ear for good measure.

"That's right," Jasna said, as if remembering something. "Biting is Petra's thing."
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:47 pm

Holy carp! Doing a little bit of math, it seems that this thing is getting upwards of 100+ views a month. That can't be right...... :oops:


of course, if it is... then where is all my fan mail, darnit? :lol:
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:52 pm

“Are all of your kind so stubborn?” the shrike asked. She gestured again with her open palm. “If you do not wish them to die, give me the stone!”

Morana glanced from the still-gleaming stone, to where the three other girls fought desperately to keep the hulking werewolves away from their friends.

“Fine,” she said, thrusting the green stone into the shrike’s waiting hand. “I’m only lending it to you. You will give it back.”

“Once we are safe. You have my word, Last.” The siren wound the golden chain about her wrist, letting the rest of the length dangle loose. She dashed with barely a musical rustle of her gown to where Justin was pulling himself to his feet. The tip of his sword was in the dirt, and he leaned heavily on it, hands clasped about the pommel.

The shrike closed her hand around the hilt, then drove her elbow back into the young man’s chest, sending him to the ground with a wheezing gasp.

“Stay down!” she ordered. A flick of her wrist spun the blade in a tight circle as she tested its heft. The golden chain twined about the crosspiece, and she caught up the chain again with her fingers, trapping the large green against the back of her hand.

She drew the free fingers of her other hand down the length of the blade, the clear stones wound in her golden gauntlet flaring to light as her fingers reddened and blistered. Green light blended with the white-gold as the shrike kindled Morana’s gem to light.

“Ris!” she hissed. Frost crackled down the blade, following the lines her fingers had traced, spreading to sheathe the steel in a rime of ice.

Cold vapor trailed in the sword’s wake as the shrike brought the blade around, slapping a wild swipe of the werewolf’s great paw up, away from where it would have connected with Jasna’s head.

The creature howled, the blood from the cold-blackened wound falling away as deep red shards of ice.

Petra’s whoop of excitement cut short as the thing’s other hand found purchase on her cloak. Her face went red, her grip around the werewolf’s throat dissolving as she reached for her own.

The monster sent the young thief over its shoulder, slamming her into Jasna, and they both tumbled head over heels.

The shrike barely gave the two girls a glance, stepping into the cleared space and taking full advantage of the extra room to bring Justin’s sword into a vicious arc, the tip of the blade gauging a black and steaming furrow along the beast’s forearm.

It stumbled back, snarling, wrenching its head away from a blazing strike of Brynne’s staff. It barked something to the other wolves crowding at the doorway.

Their replies to its order came as a series of yips and whines. The voice of one rose mid-yelp, into something between a snarl and a scream.

A long, dark shaft of wood shattered against the doorway, causing Brynne to stumble back, her attack interrupted as she brought an arm up to shield her face from the splinters.

“Be careful, you fool!” The woman’s voice came from the edge of the clearing, followed by two more hissing black shafts. The wolves yelped again, and broke away from the doorway, racing into the night.

They were joined a moment later as the pack leader retreated through the doorway, its form roiling and shifting as it went from a two- to a four-legged dash.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:50 am

The shrike did not lower the sword, but shifted to a wide-legged stance, blocking as much of the doorway as she could as the two figures approached from the trees at the clearing’s edge.

She barked a word, and extended the frost-coated tip of the sword.

“She says you’d best stop there,” Katarin called.

“No she didn’t,” Petra said. “She said she’d kill them if they— Ow!”

“Oops,” the weaver said, loosening the knot on the bandage she’d wound around Petra’s side.

Jasna peered from beneath the shrike’s arm.

“What do you want?”

“We thought we were going to rescue you,” the taller of the figures — a man’s voice — said.

The shrike muttered something, and Jasna nodded.

“Goldie says you need to show your faces. Nice and slow.”

The shrike tensed as gloved hands came up from beneath roughspun cloaks.

“Stableboy, make yourself useful and bring your light over here.”

“I am not your servant!” the young man spat. Just the same, he lifted the battered lantern, the golden light falling on the familiar faces of the queen of Krakatos and the huntsman from Achelos.

“Shouldn’t we invite them in?” Justin asked.

“What for? They kicked us out,” Jasna said.

Zirchev cleared his throat. “Actually, that was Red-Hair’s doing.”

“They drove off those beasts,” Justin said.

“We were doing just fine without them. We outnumbered them, after all.”

“There were four more behind them,” Zirchev said. “The queen and I drove them off as well.”

“We will leave our weapons here,” Petra said, slowly lowering her bow, and untying the cord that held the quiver at her hip.

The shrike did not lower Justin’s sword until Zirchev did the same with his bow and arrows. Only begrudgingly did she step aside to allow the two Traladarans to pass.

“You’ll have to pardon us if we don’t offer you tea,” Brynne said.

Jasna looked up at the two visitors, arms crossed. “Well? What do you want?” she asked again.

Zirchev looked over to the queen. “Well, go on. Tell them.”

Petra sighed, gave the huntsman a sidelong glance, and then stood a bit straighter.

“We would like to apologize, on behalf of Halav Red-Hair.”

A sharp gasp interrupted the queen, and she and Zirchev both peered past Jasna, where Morana stood, eyes wide, a shaking hand at her mouth.

“You’re—” The older girl started to drop into a curtsey, thought better of it, and dropped the corners of her skirt to fall to the ground on her knees, her long hair tumbling amidst the leaves and brambles.

The queen shared a wide-eyed look with Zirchev. The man’s shock melted into a smirk.

“Stop that,” Jasna hissed at the girl, tugging at her cloak. “They aren’t—” She caught herself, clearing her throat. “Just…. Get up already.”

Morana sat up, pushing her hair from her eyes. She ran her fingers hurriedly through the tangles at the bottom, picking at the leaves.“But— Blessed Zirchev, that is… Zirchev! And Petra!”

“Trust me,” Brynne said, “they’re not shaping up to be anything like the stories. Wait till you meet Halav.”

Morana lowered her eyes, making the Sign of the Three, pressing a closed fist to forehead, lips, and breast.

Jasna swatted her hand. “Stop that! You can’t pray to them if they’re not…. You know.”

Zirchev cleared his throat.

“Another friend of yours?” he asked. “I do not think I have seen this many of the fair-haired folk in all my years.”

Jasna set a hand on the Darine girl’s shoulder.

“Your Majesty, I present to you Morana Vornov, another of the Handm— our friends.” Jasna bit her lip.

“Vornov….” Zirchev said. He stepped forward, and then went to one knee before the girls, peering closely at Morana. “That is a very old name among some of my tribesmen. And yet, I do not know of any of them with these spun-gold locks.”

He reached over, catching a curl in the crook of his finger. The Darine girl gasped, and gave a start, as her golden hair flickered, though the lantern’s light held steady, and in the space of a blink, went black as a raven’s wing.

Zirvchev did not appear surprised, and another smirk turned up one corner of his mouth.

“So it would seem that yet another of you is not entirely what you seem,” he said.
Rob
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