Elder Players' - Interlude Six
I will be posting the e-mails I receive between the June game and the next D&D game, when they are appropriate for the whole group to read:
BACK TO THE KEEP…A STRANGE MESSAGE ARRIVES
(from Mark – DM) The party took its leave of the huge and extremely happy pine treant, and trudged through the snow back towards the Azure Keep. Several hours later the Keep came into view as they crested a saddle-back ridge. The Keep was huge, and crusted in ice…ice that seemed to take on a blue hue from the rock beneath it. The party had traveled mostly in silence, each party member lost in personal thought. Oren broke the silence, “Won’t Father be proud that we have done this good deed…I certainly hope to see him soon. It seems like so long since I’ve seen him. I barely even remember what he looks like.”
Zeek nudged Kit and whispered to her, “Of course he barely remembers…he’s probably never seen the man.”
Kit had a grim look on her face. “I don’t like this whole business of ‘the Master,’ it reminds me of my slave-days. Even less I like the ‘man with backwards hands.’ You both are carrying around quite a bit of luggage. We need answers.”
Jeremiah had heard their conversation. “Javair may have answers…or perhaps he will know who does.”
After marching up the long thin staircase and entering the upper-gate, the party was brought dry clothes that had been warmed by the fire. After they had dressed, they were taken to Javair’s feasting hall and provided a rich and fatty meal, fresh from the fire. Javair sat in silence and watched them…and a subtle smile played across his face. After they had finished eating, Javair spoke. “Well, my friends…you have done what was asked, and you are freed from the burden of guilt…at least officially. I’m afraid you will find acceptance a bit harder to come by than mercy. Several ork generals left the Keep earlier than expected, grumbling about being ‘sold-out.’ As agreed, I will provide you will documents signed by Galen Green, Lord Dumit, Merrick, and myself…providing proof that you have faced what happened, and taken responsibility for your actions. But understand, that feelings on this matter run deep.”
At that moment a messenger rushed into the hall, his face red with the cold, and spotted white with frostbite. His clothes were wet and shimmered with ice. “Lord Javair, I bring a message from the ork contingent assigned to watch over Widow’s Grove!”
Javair reached out and took a metal tube from the messenger’s hand. “Gnasher!” Within seconds a high goblin stepped from the library into the feasting hall, and stood awaiting instructions. “Please take this man to the kitchens. Get him clothing and food, and then prepare him a soft bed. He has traveled far and suffered much.” The high goblin took the messenger from the room, as Javair opened the tube and began to read the parchment within out-loud. Even his speaking voice seemed to cast a spell on those that listened.
“Lord Javair, an event as disturbing as it is unexplainable has occurred here in the cemetery of Widow’s Grove. City guards on the walls observed dark figures in the cemetery, and called for us to assist them in investigating. By the time we made our way from our camp to the cemetery, the thieves had already struck. Milton Fedge noticed that entry had been made into the tomb of the Mays Protectors. He requested we not enter the tomb with him, and we complied with his wishes. He was down in the tomb for about an hour. When he came out, he informed us that someone had stolen something from the tomb. He seemed to not want to tell us what was stolen, but we insisted he tell us something about what had happened, so that we could make an accurate report back to you. Finally he told us that one of the Protectors interred in the tomb had been wearing a necklace strung with thumbs! He said that nothing else in the tomb had been disturbed…but this necklace of thumbs was gone! How barbaric of this tribe of humans…wearing thumbs around their neck. And what kind of person or thing would break into a tomb and take only this morbid necklace! Hopefully you can make more of this than we were able.” Javair looked up at Oren, Kit, Zeek, and Jeramiah. “The message is signed, Hrrich Norbl, Sergeant, Army of the Red Spear.”
Kit spoke up quickly, hoping to prevent any of her comrades from admitting anything that did not need to be admitted. “How strange. A necklace of thumbs. The men of Widow’s Grove are an interesting bunch, aren’t they?”
Javair appeared troubled by the message. Nothing bothered Javair more than a partially told tale….one without a proper ending.
Things started going wrong in the Tunderoc Tribe about the time Zeek earned his rank in the tribe. To be accepted in the Tojiero family, the "Condiero" must be taken. It is a spiritual and physical test that takes years to prepare. Not everyone survives the Condiero. The Condiero lies deep within the Valley of Mist where the spirit world meets the living. No one speaks of their experience afterwards, the only remnant is what is taken from the Mists. At times it is a scar or a bear claw as a symbol of the tribulation.
Zeek's trial was not typical. He remembers very little from it…as if it is a blur in his mind The only remnants he brought back from his journey are several tattoos up and down his right and left side; A battle-poised dragon slithers up his right side, crossing over to bite at his heart; tiger-stripes interspersed with mystical runes line his rib-cage, shoulder, neck and head; and a starburst explodes from the small of his back. The only link to these tattoos hearkens to his infancy. At that time the Shaman was a female named Atok Rayu'd. Atok tattooed Zeek with a few mystic runes that appear very similar to the many with which he returned. It was said that the runes were scribed by the spirits, who guided Atok's hand. Zeek's spiritual name, Ah-Rathra, means 'The Marked One.'
The Tunderoc, at first, honored Zeek. No one had ever remained in the Valley for 3 months! It is said that if one does not return, the spirits have claimed him. Usually the Condiero trial lasts a few days to a couple of weeks. It is said that those who accept the challenge, know when to return to the Tunderoc. Mystical things began to occur as soon as Zeek returned. At the celebration of his return, many violent and catastrophic events occurred. The fire erupted and burned several people; The roasted boar got up and began charging children; A small landslide wiped out the chief's dwelling; After the chaos all eyes were on Zeek.
The council elders held an emergency meeting. The next day was the Fall Equinox and Zeek's presence was requested at the Circle of Stone. There, the Shaman began chanting and waving wildly. The rune dice and bones were cast and so was Ezekiel's fate. "You were to remain in the spirit world. Why have you returned? You have angered the spirits. You must go back."
Zeek was not sure that the spirits were actually angry at him. The only thing he really remembers clearly was the man he met in the mists. He must have been 50 or 60 years old, but his body was completely fit…and covered with tattoos that appeared to be modeled after a tiger's stripes. These tattoos were extensive, and covered his body, arms, legs, and face. The old man had spoken very little. He had cooked Zeek a stew filled with meat and herbs, and encouraged him to smoke from a Pipe of Ancestors…something normally reserved for chiefs and council elders. When the visions began…then the old man spoke.
"Ah-Rathra…you did not survive your Condiero. You were not strong enough my little brother. But I have stolen you back from the greedy spirits that took you. I have restored your body…I have fed your soul…and I have enlightened your spirit. You are mine. You are forever mine."
Fear had crept into Zeek's mind…and he began to shake. "I am not dead…what do you mean I am yours!?!"
"Atok marked you in an attempt to protect you from me. The spirits whispered to Atok that I would steal you. Her attempts at protection were weak…and I have marked you with marks of my own!"
Zeek then looked down and saw his new tattoos. He jumped to his feat and ran from the tiger-striped man…he ran and ran through the Mists. In his head he heard the old man's voice. "You are marked, Ah-Rathra…you are forever mine…." The old man's laughter filled Zeek's mind…and then the laughter began to change…becoming deeper and more rumbling…until finally it sounded like a tiger growling and roaring over its kill.
Zeek left his tribe that day. There was no longer a place for him there. The rune-dice and bones cast by the Council Elders had told him that much. Perhaps he could escape the old man's laughter in the cold lands of the Azure Kingdom, far away from the Valley of the Mists.
As soon as Zeek realized that the man before him, sipping wine in the Castle Bar that first night, was the legendary Hooded Mage…he knew that he must question him about his marks. Zeek's test of manhood within his tribe…his Condiero…had gone very strangely. He had traveled into the Mists expecting to return within a few days…or perhaps a few weeks. But he had been gone for months. When he returned he his ribcage, chest, neck, arms and back were covered in tattoos that had not been present before. His only memory of his time in the Mists was of an old man with striped tattoos that made him look like a tiger. The old man had cooked him stew and allowed him to smoke from a mystical pipe…and then told him some disturbing news. Zeek had died…too weak to survive his Condiero. But the old man had snatched him back from the Spirits, and marked him with tattoos meant to bind him. The old man kept saying, "You are mine…you are mine forever!"
Zeek quietly asked the Hooded Mage if he could meet with him briefly. The two of them got up from the table in the Castle Bar and, stepping over the smelly and broken bodies of the dispatched ghouls, they climbed the spiral steps that led to the empty second floor.
"I thank you wise sir for this new mark. I sense it is truly a mark of goodness. My concern, and my question for you, is regarding these other marks." Zeek exposed the tattoos up and down his right and left side: a battle-poised dragon slithers up his right side, crossing over to bite at his heart, tiger-stripes interspersed with mystical runes line his rib-cage, shoulder, neck and head and a starburst explodes from the small of his back.
The Hooded Mage appeared startled. He reached his hand out and appeared to be tracing the lines of the tattoos with his eyes…as if he was reading the magical symbols. "Where did you get these hideous symbols tattooed on you?"
Zeek told the Hooded Mage the strange tale of his Condiero, holding back not one single detail.
The Hooded Mage had a look of concern on his face as he began to read the symbols out loud. "She ran her many hands along the softness of her red belly…her sharp eyes bright with light and her mouth dripping with the blood of her lovers. A thousand horrors suckled at her breast, fighting and clawing at each other, while the dead of the world screamed for mercy at her feet. She is the black wine that intoxicates, she is the hideous beauty that tempts, she is the barbed knife upon which all life will end."
The Hooded Mage's eyes were wide open with obvious fear. His reading paused as he walked behind Zeek, so that he could read the symbols tattooed on his back. "At her side is the One-Who-Stalks, the Soul-Eater, the Faceless-Beast…her life-mate and protector. His victims are legion, and his thick fur glistens with droplets of their blood. The tiger's hunger for human flesh is never appeased…."
"ENOUGH!" The Hooded Mage screamed out, turning away from the swirling pattern of stripes and symbols on Zeek's back. Zeek heard the Hooded Mage whisper a few words and make several complex gestures with his hands. "You are marked…I should not have involved myself in this…I should not have…."
Zeek could not take it any longer. "What? By the spirits of my ancestors…what are you talking about? Why didn't you keep reading? WHAT DOES IT MEAN!"
The Hooded Mage gathered his fine cloak tightly about his frame, and stepped very close to Zeek. Their faces were only inches apart, and the Hooded Mage's whispers were so quiet as to almost not be heard. "Never again allow your marks to be read aloud…do you understand me…do you understand?" Zeek nodded in affirmation, and the Hooded Mage continued in an whisper even more quiet. "Beware the man with backwards hands…I will say no more…."
The Hooded Mage descended the spiral stairway, and refused to talk any further with Zeek about any matter for the rest of the night.
Zeek could tell by their snores that the others were asleep. The orange and red light of the fire danced and lit the undersides of the trees around the fire-circle. The old man’s laughter echoed in Zeek’s head. Even in the icy cold of the Azure Kingdom…he had not escaped his memories and visions of the old man. The old man’s body had been fit, and tattooed with tiger stripes from head to toe. He had served Zeek stew and allowed him to smoke the Pipe of Ancestor’s…something normally reserved for Chiefs and Council Elders.
But then the tone had changed. “Ah-Rathra…you did not survive your Condiero. You were not strong enough my little brother. But I have stolen you back from the greedy spirits that took you. I have restored your body…I have fed your soul…and I have enlightened your spirit. You are mine. You are mine forever.”
Zeek ran his hands over the tattoos the old man had marked him with…tiger stripes, an attacking dragon, a starburst, and intertwined with these images…special symbols and words. The Hooded Mage had read some of the symbols. “She ran her many hands along the softness of her red belly…her sharp eyes bright with light and her mouth dripping with the blood of her lovers. A thousand horrors suckled at her breast, fighting and clawing at each other, while the dead of the world screamed for mercy at her feet. She is the black wine that intoxicates, she is the hideous beauty that temps, she is the barbed knife upon which all life will end.” Then from his Zeek’s back the Hooded Mage had read, “At her side is the One-Who-Stalks, the Soul-Eater, the Faceless-Beast…her life-mate and protector. His victims are legion, and his thick fur glistens with droplets of their blood. The tiger’s hunger for human flesh is never appeased….”
Then the Hooded Mage had cast some sort of spell of protection, and admonished Zeek to never allow the marks upon his skin to be read aloud! Then he said something crazy, like “Beware the man with backwards hands….” What did it all mean? What did the old man want from Zeek? Did the spirits really want Zeek back?
“Should I eat this friend of yours…he looks rather tasty?” The words startled Zeek back to reality. The old man was standing across the fire from Zeek…standing over Kerbach with a hungry look in his eyes. Zeek tried to stand, but could not. Was he frozen with fear, or did some foul magicks hold him in place? The old man walked slowly towards where Kit slept. “Perhaps I should eat this dark one…I bet her meat would be sweet as honey. Would you like me to cook you another of my stews, Ah-Rathra?”
“No….nooo! I would never eat human meat. Leave them alone. You have history with me…not these people.”
“You have already eaten human meat, little brother…and if I recall…you loved it. You were fairly hungry that night at the end of you Condiero!” The old man made motions with his hands as though he was eating stew from a bowl. Zeek shuddered when he realized the old man’s hands were backwards. How had he not noticed before?
“You’re a liar…that stew was not made from human meat!”
“I’m a liar, eh? Keep telling yourself that, Ah-Rathra. Each time you hear me say some unpleasant truth…tell yourself I’m a liar. You say it enough, you may just believe it!” The old man tossed his head back and laughed that horrible laugh of his. For just a second, Zeek thought the old man’s head had transformed into a tiger’s head…but then it was human again. Was Zeek seeing things?
Zeek gathered his courage. “What do you want old man? Why have you come here?”
“Zeek…I am not really here at all. This is merely a shade of my true self. As for why I am here…well, the time is coming when I must open the doorway between worlds. I must let Her, the End-of-All-Things, spill forth her foul brood upon the world…so that her dark children may feed upon the light of this world…growing fat on the souls of the innocent. Finally, I shall be deserving of the love of my lover. You are the key, my little brother…you are the key.”
“Ah-Rathra, you are mine to command. You are mine to manipulate. You don’t know it yet…but you will come to me of your own will, and I will read the marks I have placed upon your flesh. Then the DOOR WILL OPEN…AND DEATH HERSELF WILL TREAD THE EARTH! I am the One-Who-Stalks, the Soul-Eater, the Faceless-Beast…my victims are legion….”
The old man disappeared as quickly as he appeared. Zeek jumped to his feet and ran to check his friends. They still slept and snored. Where the old man had walked, there were no footprints in the fresh fallen snow. “He was simply a shade….”
Zeek climbed back under his blankets, pulling them up close around his neck. “Will I never escape this old man…this old tiger?” Again, Zeek heard the old man’s laughter, as if in answer to his question.
“…I’ll never become your pawn…NEVER!” You hear your voice screaming out, but it sound’s like a stranger’s voice. The pain in your hands is incredible…and when you look at your right hand you see a cold iron spike protruding from you palm, and a quick glance at your left reveals the same. “Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!” You scream as you struggle, but the iron spikes hold your hands and arms straight out from your sides…and your toes barely touch the ground. “WHO HAS DONE THIS TO ME!!!”
A cold voice oozes from out of the darkness. “It is your Master. Do you not remember me, Orendagar? It is almost time for you to return to me…for you to bring your friends before me. How can you do this task for me if you don’t even remember your Master’s name…or your Master’s face.” The cold voice is followed by grim snickering coming from the darkness. There is a second figure barely visible in the darkness…its silhouette appears to be that of a human male, but with almost a feline grace about it.
“I am Oren Green…son of a nobleman. I am a proud human defender of all that is natural and good! Why do you corrupt my name so? I am not Orendagar…I am Oren Green!”
“Your own memories are still so deeply hidden from you…I’m quite proud of my work on you. And Vax has served you well, I trust?”
The pain in your hands is unbearable. “Aaaarggggh!” You just can’t seem to understand how all of this came to be. “Why have you nailed me to this wall…what have you done with my friends?”
You hear snickering coming from the darkness. “Your friends sleep by your side, Orendagar. I have come to you in a dream, my servant. I chose this imagery…because this is how I originally broke you. This sweet torture is how I caught your soul in the first place. You will remember it all soon enough, my servant.”
You feel a deep sense of helplessness. But the son of Galen Green will not be treated this way without maintaining some dignity. You spit into the darkness, hoping to hit your persecutor…or perhaps his quiet silhouetted friend.
A cloud of mist drifts from the darkness…and for just a second it seems to have the vague shape of a human body. The mist curls and moves as if blown by a wind that you do not feel. When the mist contacts you…envelopes you…it is cold and musty. “That act of resistance reminds me of the fun I had breaking you, my young dwarf.” The Master’s voice seems to come from the cloud of mist itself.
“VAX! VAX! HELP ME, VAX!!!”
“Vax is not here to answer your calls, Orendagar. Vax is my friend too, remember? Oh, that’s right…you remember so little of your time with me. Do you not remember the salty taste of blood on your tongue while you served me? Do you not remember the delicious leftovers I would toss in your cell after I was done feeding? Do you really not remember your Master?”
It comes to you then…rivers of warm blood, running a winding course until they spill into an entire ocean of blood. Thick scabs form on the surface, only to break up under their own weight and sink into the thick crimson tide. “Blood….blood…blood…BLLLOOOOOOOOD!”
When you awake Kerbach, Collin, Zeek, Doomnoodle, Gremage, and Kit are all staring at you. You run a hand up your face and into your hair, and realize you are soaked with sweat. You must have screamed the word “blood” out-loud in your sleep. “Where’s Vax? I need to talk to him.” The others look at you with a mixture of pity and disgust. The others each roll over and appear to try to go back to sleep. “I must find Vax.”
You get up from your bedroll and walk away from the fire circle. About thirty feet into the frosty woods you hear Vax’s voice, and it comforts you. “I am here, Oren. He came to you didn’t he? I knew he would, eventually. There is only one way to rid yourself of the Master, Oren. Only one way.”
Thank the Lords of the Forest for Vax. He is such a wise and loyal servant. “Please, Vax, what is it? How do I rid myself of this…this…Master.”
“It is easy Oren. You must go to him. You must travel to his castle with your friends and face him. Only then will you be free. Only then….” Vax turns away from you and a few quite moments pass. “You must go to him.”
(Below is the e-mail that went out to the rest of the players, regarding the dream described above:)
It is the middle of the night, and the entire party is startled from their sleep by the sound of Oren’s voice screaming, “Blood….blood…blood…BLLLOOOOOOOOD!”
You all turn towards Oren in time to see him sit up with his eyes wide open, a look of stark terror on his face! Oren runs a hand up his face and into his hair. He is soaked with sweat, and his wet hair hangs down on his ruddy moist forehead.
Everyone just sits there staring at Oren for a moment, looks of pity and disgust on you faces. Then Oren speaks, “Where’s Vax? I need to talk to him.”
All the members of the party ignore Oren’s question, and roll back over to go to sleep again. Oren says, “I must find Vax,” and gets up from his bedroll. His feet make crunching noises as he makes his way away from the fire ring and into the frosty woods.
In the morning, the party awakes, and Oren is asleep beneath his blankets…a peaceful knowing look upon his face.
(Questions from Scott, Answers in caps from Mark)
1: Can this work, The Storm Tower had been tapping into the Stom Gates Energy the last 2 months which is why it has been a mild stretch of weather in the Azure Kingdom but a huge blizzard follows the marked ones into Azure Keep that will last for 4+ days ( your call on time) Which more what the month of Iron brings. THE STORMY MOUNTAIN HAS NOT BEEN ABSORBING ENERGY, BUT INSTEAD ADDING TO THE BAD WEATHER. THERE HAS NOT BEEN A MILD STRETCH OF WEATHER IN THE AZURE KINGDOM. FEEL FREE TO HAVE A BIG BLIZZARD THOUGH...THAT WOULD BE DRAMATIC AND FUN. I DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE LAST PART ABOUT THE MONTH OF IRON?
2: Is Merrick still at Azure Keep waiting to find out our outcome. MERRICK HAS MOVED ON, AND IS NOT PRESENT FOR YOUR RETURN. JAVAIR INFORMS YOU THAT SHE IS QUELLING UNREST AMONG CERTAIN ORKISH GENERALS RESULTING FROM HER GIVING YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS MERCY, DESPITE YOUR RELUCTANCE TO ADMIT ANY RESPONSIBILITY WHATSOEVER FOR THE KOBOLDS.
3:Can I work up a hear to the Kobold throne for Gnoll story line. Dakkot Yusdraylson?(She probably had a few offspring). THIS IS A COOL IDEA. I LIKE IT A LOT. JUST FOR YOUR INFORMATION, YUSDRAYL WAS AT ONE TIME TRULY A KOBOLD QUEEN, AND LED THOUSANDS OF KOBOLDS. BUT AS SHE DECLINED AND AGED, HER TITLE AS QUEEN WAS FAIRLY HONORARY, AND SHE TOWARDS THE END, SHE ONLY LED THAT SHABBY TRIBE OF KOBOLDS THAT WAS WIPED OUT. USE SOME LATITUDE WITH DAKKOT, AND SURPRISE ME.
What Kit is trying to find out:
1:How many Charges in wand of entaglement ( have used 2) THERE WERE 10...THERE ARE NOW 8.
2:Abilities of Shatterspike. WEILDER’S WITHOUT THE SUNDER FEAT USE SHATTERSPIKE AS A +1 LONGSWORD ONLY. IF YOU HAVE SUNDER, YOU CAN ATTACK YOUR OPPONENT'S WEAPON WITHOUT DRAWING AN ATTACK OF OPPORTUNITY. YOU ALSO GET A +4 BONUS TO THE OPPOSED ATTACK ROLL WHEN TRYING TO STRIKE THE FOE'S WEAPON. iF SUCCESSFUL, SHATTERSPIKE DEALS 1d8+4 POINTS OF DAMAGE (PLUS STRENGTH MODIFIER) TO THE TARGET WEAPON. SHATTERSPIKE CAN DAMAGE MAGICAL WEAPONS UP TO +4 ENCHANTMENT....
3:New Wand from Storm Tower.What is it and How many charges. DETECT MAGIC, AND IT HAS 20 CHARGES LEFT AS OF RIGHT NOW.
4:Signet Ring ( Karakas,Henchite) Find out about family and return with news of death. THE HUCRULE'S RINGS? MY MEMORY MUST BE BAD...GIVE ME MORE DETAILS ON THIS, AND I WILL RESPOND TO IT.
That's a start. HOPE I WAS HELPFUL...I TRIED TO ANSWER WHAT I COULD! TALK TO YOU LATER!!!! ....MARK
STORM OF STORMS
(by Scott) Javair sat at the edge of his bed working on a song about the adventure to the Storm Mountain that the Marked Ones had just returned from. They road in at the head of a Powerful Blizzard that might have been caused by the opening of the gate to the Air Elemental Realm. It had raged on for 5 days now and though in the beginning the break from business as usual had been a welcome relief with it shutting down pretty much all dealings in the Azure Kingdom, Javair was starting to getting cabin fever and hoped for it to end soon. Zeek had told of the success of their mission while Oren and Jeramiah had filled in the facts he seemed to over look…such as his being on the verge of taking a long fall off the mountain top with the aid of an Air Elemental he had irritated. Javair could more than understand how Zeek might have irritated the trapped Air Elemental…after all Zeek was…well, Zeek! Kit had said very little and seemed withdrawn, almost avoiding contact with him even to the point of spending some time out in the storm on the Upper Gate. He had taken refuge this evening from Oren's constant request to play songs of Galen Green's exploits over and over. He pushed this from his mind and returned to the song trying as he had for some time to come up with a proper rhyme. Damn Treants, they had to have such difficult names to put to verse.
There was a Knock on the door and Javair inquired to who was there, to which he heard the high muffled response, "Your brandy my Lord.” It was Sedonna the Fourteen year old Daughter of Whelton Derge…one of the human workmen and his wife Tamera, who worked in the Kitchen. It was hard to find people to come up to this remote sight to work and with limited living space the family was a good addition to his staff. Sedonna entered at his request and carried the tray over to the desk against the wall . The overly sweet smell of her favorite perfume wafted across the room and he noticed she was wearing one of her low cut dresses which showed off her newly developing assets. Javair smiled, being used to young girl's flaunting themselves at him and in Sedonna's case fully supported by her Mother. He noticed she had brought a bottle of Burly Downs Brandy instead of his usual stock but instead of admonishing her, he thought the change would inspire him past his current writer's block. He went back to his song until from across the room the comment came, "If his highness would just try to rhyme the word Treant instead of proving his superior ability on it's name he would be finished with the bloody song." Javair's reflexes kicked in as he rolled backwards over the bed drawing his sword and landing in a defensive stance staring at the speaker. Sedonna had never called him "your highness" and her voice was off just a touch. She was standing there with two glasses of brandy smiling watching him with her ...Violet Eyes!!!
"Kit , Damnit what have you done with Sedonna !?"
The figure before him slowly morphed as white skin took on an ebony tone and brown hair turned white. Kit responded, "Why, my lord, you told her you had changed your mind on your choice of Brandy, and decided to come and get it yourself. She seemed a little disappointed, till you complimented her on her fragrance of choice and with a smile and a blush went on to tell her mommy, I suppose."
Javair rolled his eyes thinking of what that might lead to and loudly stated, "Why do people find it necessary to sneak up on me in my room? Damn it, must I post guard and set up alarms?"
Kit swayed across the room handing one of the goblets to Javair. "Well, My lord , You might want to take a lesson from the Goblin Queen that with higher Office comes greater danger, there are always those who wish to take that power for their own, and you may wish to take some action to protect yourself. I would hate to see anything happen to you, and since I never got to properly thank you for what you did, I felt I needed to come here and show you my appreciation." Javair's eyes dropped down from Kit's as he now saw that her ample bosoms were now putting a great test on the quality of the seamstress who had made the dress she wore. Kit followed his eyes down and laughed. "Sedonna may be close to my size but it seems we are not of the same proportions." Javair started to mumble an apology but Kit put her hand up to his lips. "No need to feel guilty for what I see as a compliment. I have seen in you an honesty and compassion for others that I have not encountered in my 94 years and in gratitude I would like to tell you of my past. I have yet to find anyone else I felt should know this story." Kit rose and walked a few steps away. "You said you could not understand why I did what I did at the hearing. Humans have a saying that to know a man you must walk a mile in his boots, well to know me you would need to walk a hundred miles."
Kit turned and and had a very serious look on her face. "It was about two years ago that I stood looking down on the motionless body of the Murkarik Xeraz. They called him Murkarik the Magnificent , Murkarik the Mixer, or of late, Murkarik the Mad. I just called him Master or in private Father. His hand clutched a bottle of poison and his face was frozen…eyes wide open, mouth in mid gasp, lying across his bed. He had been Murdered…." But I am getting ahead of myself.
Murkarik Xeraz was born to a lesser house some 900 years ago. In his youth he found a single-minded interest in the combining of Magic, Herbs, and minerals and what they produced. He soon became a renowned Alchemist among the Drow. But, while his talents in these Arts was great, his true fame came from the potion's and creams he created that seemed to almost reverse the signs of aging from the long-lived and vain race of dark elves. This brought him money and fame but could not deliver him one thing…an Heir. He had entered into 3 marriages, all of which ended in death during child birth of both wife and baby. After the last, he chose not to try again…feeling his own seed was cursed. He chose to take up an Elvan slave as a concubine.
Ferndew was captured at the young age of 40 years on a night raid that claimed all her family but her. She was sold to Murkarik Xeraz who had her trained to serve his second wife and later his third. Ferndew served in this manner for 120 years till the death of her second mistress. She was surprised to find her otherwise emotionless master Murkarik greatly distraught over this. In consoling him she found herself swept up into a relationship that lasted for 90 years. It had to be kept hidden for in the Drow society any relationship other than sexual outside of the race was deemed a weakness and could cause her love’s downfall. Then Murkarik gave into his family’s insistence and entered into a marriage with Bzanjara. She was the first daughter to another moderately powerful family and a priestess of Loathe. She was over 500 years old and had 2 daughters…the oldest 168 and the youngest was just a year. Her husband had been a high ranking military leader who died in battle, whether at the hands of the enemy or some lower ranking Officer, it was never determined. This Union would give him an heir and raise the level of prominence to both houses. Not more than 12 months after this, Ferndew gave birth to an half-Drow child, 12 months being the full term of an elvan pregnancy. She named her new daughter, Kitzarnycz.
For many years Murkarik was still Master of his house even to the point that Ferndew was Nanny to Bzanjara's young Daughter and Kitzarnycz was like a sister to her, but over the next 20 years Bzanjaran slowly inserted and turned servants and guards to her side…while Murkarik was engrossed in his work. Ferndew was moved to more menial work in the kitchen and laundry. Murkarik refrained from showing any displeasure to keep his feelings hidden, so as not to enrage his Wife. And so it went on for another 21 years untill one day Bzanjaran found one of her bracelet's missing and blamed Ferndew in front of most of the household - including a mortified Kitzarnycz. Murkarik showed only a slight sadness…but he had promised Ferndew that if something like this ever befell her he would make sure the same did not happen to their daughter. Any show on his part of anger would only seal her fate as well. And so Kitzarnycz took on her new job as helper in her father's work in the gathering and preparing of alchemy components.
As the years passed Murkarik tried to keep his daughter out of harm’s way as he had promised his beloved Ferndew. But his age and the years of exposure to his experiments started taking it's toll on his health as well as his mind. When Kitzarnycz was into her 70's, to elves this was equivalent to a teenager, Murkarik had started talking to himself and started having episodes were he was bed-ridden for a time. Kitzarnycz would be forced into housework exposing her to Bzanjara's cruel hand and also her guard’s molestations. She kept this from her father for fear that he would stand up to Bzanjara and force her hand. His skill made him too valuable to eliminate and he kept secret his creations for that reason. But the failure rate of his potions was increasing and this worried her. As she entered her 80's his dementia worsened and he began calling her by her mother's name and even entering her bed. He mostly would speak words of love directed toward her mother and for the most part just caressed her in a way that she put up no resistance. This was the closest thing to love she had been exposed to since her mother's murder. This was how her life was for the last 10 years till the day she found herself standing over her father's lifeless body.
(Next Installment: “The Escape to Death”)
(This is Kit’s response to the INTRODUCTION to “He Who Guards the Key.” Scott will be finishing up Kit’s History as soon as possible!)
As Kit finished her story Javair could tell she was now silently crying. The quiver in her voice, the faint sniff and clearing of her throat. He always felt awkward in these situations and was considering his next action, but Kit's hands moved across her face and she turned taking a stoic stance and continued. "You see I have lived a long life of being accused of things that I did not do, punished for the actions of others, and told what I should think, say, and do. I have been looked down upon and discriminated against for my Elvan heritage, my Drow heritage, and my Gender. I know exactly what my thoughts and actions were and no one else will ever tell me otherwise."
Javiar smiled. “Kit, that’s fine. I understand your feelings. Considering your party as a whole was responsible for the death of a friend to the Goblin Queen, the mercy I negotiated for you was more than generous. I just wish you had been wise enough, or clever enough, to understand the politics involved the other day. Your defiance in the face of mercy has caused both me and the Goblin Queen problems. Considering that I am trying to save an entire Kingdom, I really don’t have the time to throw it all away based on your feelings. I’ve done my best to understand you…I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about the fact that your defiance may very well cost me my most important ally, and any chance of bringing summer to the Azure Kingdom.”
Kit nodded, and then her expression suddenly changed to one of concern as she looked down at Javair's hands and asked, "Do you feel sick or dizzy?"
Javair glanced down at his half empty glass of Brandy then quickly at Kit's untouched Glass "I don't think so," he mumbled as his thoughts raced trying to remember where he had put the neutralize poison potion in his room.
"Good, you can never be too careful," she stated before raising her glass and draining it. Her eyes closed and she breathed in deeply putting an even greater strain on the string's holding her ample globes. A softer smile formed across her face as her large violet eyes opened and she slowly moved toward Javair.
"I hope you can see why I acted as I did the other day. It is very important to me that you understand. I can see why the Goblin Queen likes you. You care about what others have to say and are a good listener." She said as she stopped just inches from him as he sat on his bed. Her small stature actually made it so they were almost eye to eye . Her warm breath laced with the sweet smell of Burly Downs Brandy drifted across his face. She continued in a low and softer voice, "As I said, I want to show you my appreciation for all you have done." Her hand softly grasped the nape of his neck and she pressed her soft slender lip's against his. She stepped back afterwards and raised her hand to the string at top of her dress. "I guess I should be getting out of this dress," she said with a smile as she loosened the knot. "I should be getting it back before it's true owner finds its missing." She turned and swayed across the room to the door, turning she smiled and said, "Good night my lord and good luck on finishing your song, I hope we can have many more of these up close and personal meeting's in the future." Kit slipped from the room.
Javair just stared at the door for some time thinking about what had just happened and then about what might have happened. He shook his head and wondered why he had put up with Kit’s defiance. Warriors, mages, dragons, creatures of the night…he would be willing to destroy any of them were they to stand in his way regarding the restoration of the Kingdom. But he had let Kit off-the-hook. He looked down at his instrument and thought out loud. "O.K., what rhymes with Treant?"
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