Ghosts of Illidia

Of Ruins & Lost Knowledge

Restless and not knowing what to do to help Ashleigh, especially with Alanna close by, attending to everything he might need, I decided to venture out into the forested area surrounding Sabwa. I found something very interesting the fourth day in. As I was walking along, I stumbled across some circular ruins made of old, weathered stone. My curiosity piqued by the stones, I made my way back to Sabwa and informed everyone of what I had found. We all made our way back to the ruins, where Alanna cast some sort of spell that allowed her to view magical items. We discovered that inside the ruins, where we had thought the floor was, was in actuality rotting wooden boards, with some sort of room underneath. I found a door that led downward. Jericho went down the ladder first and proclaimed it safe enough, so I followed suit. Alanna followed a little less gracefully, accidentally falling through the ceiling above and landing a little ways away from us. She found a box that still glowed with some sort of magic after all these years. She took it and went back up to the rest of the group. I spied some papers setting on one of the shelves and grabbed them, astonishment growing as I tried to read the things and realized that they were very, very old. The words, while still resembling Common, did not flow or look like the normal Common that we use today. It seemed ancient; archaic. A low whistle escaped my lips as my eyes ran over the odd words.

Everyone made their way back to Sabwa, where Grimm took off the padlock from the small box. Gingerly looking inside, we found an ancient book; in the same sort of old Common as the other papers I had found. I cast a small spell to strengthen the book so it wouldn’t fall apart and Marius cast another spell and began to read us the passages. Over the next few days we made out as much of it as we could. It turned out to be some sort of diary, written by a man named Cedric Graven. The book we dubbed Graven’s Ledger. The things we found out led us to believe that perhaps we could find some sort of cure for Ashleigh by investigating this further. From reading the ledger, we determined that the best place to start searching would be back at the Phoenix Tree. The next morning, Alanna, Jericho, and I set out to find what we could. We would be in time to save Ashleigh. We had to be.

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A Puzzle and a Promise

I take one last look at the island of Sabwa and then face forward, the slow rhythm of the water horse lulling me into my thoughts as we ride.

I’m more confident in leaving now. I know there’s much to do before I return. I’m looking forward to finding the next Ledger that Cedric left behind- hopefully left behind that is. Perhaps we’ll find the answers we seek at the Phoenix Tree. There are so many what-ifs that I can’t wrap my mind around them all. I do know that all of this is tied together… somehow. I just need to keep finding the rest of the pieces, put the puzzle together, and then find a solution.

I glance at Jericho and Kiira riding together and find myself smiling. How in love they are. The world is falling around them and yet there is such joy in their lives. I face forward again, gazing at the horizon.

My heart aches for Ashleigh. Last night was the happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve never known the joy, the pure love, I found in his arms. It was poetic that our souls joined before our bodies did. His words come back to me and I close my eyes for a moment, seeing his face as he tells me, “I never knew love until tonight. Thank you for teaching me.”

A tear falls and I do nothing to stop it. “I’ll find a cure. I promise,” I whisper, clutching my necklace. I had to- or I’d lose the thing I loved most in the world.

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Here Comes Goodbye

I can’t believe that I’m leaving again. It seems too soon. I can feel my heart torn in two. On the one hand, I want to stay here, to be here with Ashleigh. On the other hand, I know I can do more good by going out into the world and finding a cure. I know this is all connected and time is of the essence, if my theory is to be believed.

It’s hard to say goodbye. I hate leaving Sabwa. I love it here. I feel… I feel at home for the first time. I feel safe and loved and among friends. I feel accepted for who and what I am. I’m going to miss Marius. He’s been such a mentor to me. He is a father-figure, the father I never really got to know, the father I no longer have. I would give my life for him in a heart beat. I love him. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to him again, not knowing when next we’ll meet. Too many things can happen along the way, as inevitably they always do.

I like sitting here, in this room that will one day hold the laughter and the cries of Kiira’s baby. I like sitting here by Ashleigh, even if he is silent. His presence is comforting. I love this quiet time, studying, drawing conclusions and theories based on my studies. I love listening to Grimm finish his hammering as I close my eyes to sleep for the night.

I feel sad that this is all coming to an end, like Sabwa was a brief place to rest. But I don’t feel rested, I feel more restless. I feel like I’m leaving home again, but this time I’m not looking forward to the adventure. This time I’m wanting to get it over so I can come home again.

So tonight I lay here, listening to the hammering for the last time, gazing at Ashleigh’s still form, and encourage myself to keep faith. I’ll come back. I have to.

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In Sabwa Again

Grateful that Alanna was back with us and safe, I gave her one last fierce hug as she got up and slowly made her way towards Marius’s house. I took a deep breath and, while the others were busy welcoming Logan back, I slipped back towards our house and laid a carefully written letter letter on top of the bookcase, one of Jericho’s favorite books propped on top of it to draw his attention. That task completed, I slipped towards out of the city, only looking back once as I let out a small sigh, and made myself comfortable in the surrounding woods outside of Sabwa. Life had become overly complicated as of late. I kind of missed the abundant time I had had for introspection while I was wandering on my own. I unrolled my bed roll and sat contemplating everything that had gone on recently. I watched the sun as it set over the ocean, its peaceful beauty overwhelming my senses. I had forgotten how sweet it was to just sit and watch the day go by, to hear the birds as they nestled in for the night, listen as the day-world went to sleep and the creatures of the night slowly began to wake up. My heart peaceful once more, I decided that it didn’t matter what Jericho’s decision was. Either way, I would be content and we would support each other. I was so peaceful out in the forest that I couldn’t bring myself to make my way back to Sabwa. When Jericho joined me later in the day, I was happy to see him and I ate a small meal as he told me that he had decided to go with me should I leave Sabwa to try and find a cure for Ashleigh. Though I told him that I didn’t want him to go because I feared for my safety, deep in my heart I was overjoyed that we wouldn’t have to be apart again. We talked for awhile and then found our way into each others arms once more… A while later, we had discarded our clothing and made our way into the ocean surrounding Sabwa. The air cleared, I was enjoying the swim and Jericho’s company immensely. I heard a loud voice calling my name and that was when I spied Alanna, on one of her summoned mounts, galloping towards me. I quickly swam to shore and hurriedly threw on one of the shirts that was laying on the ground as she ran to me, her face crumpling as she burst into tears. It turns out that, while she was examining Ashleigh she discovered that he had the blood of a Drokthiiri. Apparently he had been infected at some point. My heart ached as I saw how much the news tore at Alanna’s heart. I did the best I could to reassure her. We had been through so much – gotten through so many obstacles. It wouldn’t end like this. Somehow we would find a way to help him. There was always hope, always something to do. We would find a way. Together. Alanna headed back to Sabwa, and after calling to Jericho and getting dressed, we did so as well. When we got back, Alanna was impatiently sitting on the front steps of Jericho and I’s house. She asked if it would be possible to move Ashleigh into our house. Jericho and I threw each other a look and said that it would be fine with us. Jericho and Alanna went to move Ashleigh and I made my way into the house. I cracked open the book I had found for Jericho, Oddities of Celestia and read what I could of it. It had an interesting story about the origins of Celestials and how they had once been mortal beings who had been gathered together, some being chosen as Celestials and others thrown down and labeled as “the damned”. Alanna went upstairs to the room Ashleigh was in. After talking to Alanna, we had decided to stay in Sabwa for now and discover all we could about Ashleigh’s condition before we made our way off the island and tried to find a cure.

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A Thread of Hope, The Joy of Accomplishment

Hope is a fragile thing. You hold on so tightly and it breaks so easily. The trick is to hold on gently and never let go.

The first night after we left the beach we slept on an island. I still felt upset at Kiira and didn’t wish to talk to her. I also felt a new hope in my chest that maybe Ashleigh would be alive. I handed the tent to Kiira that first night and told her to use it with Jericho, but just keep it down. They didn’t use it. I didn’t expect they would, but I needed to lash out somewhere.

The next night Kiira came to talk to me. She wanted to know why I was upset and I explained it to her and tried to make her see it from my point of view. I explained that if I did to her what she did to me, she would be upset as well. She didn’t agree but tried to make things better. She explained her motivations and Jig’s and why it wasn’t told. As she spoke, I felt my anger melt away. She was sorry and never meant to hurt me. I knew that. And then she mentioned the cuts on his back that wouldn’t heal. And it dawned on me- he had healed Grimm as I suspected! He took it upon himself. I couldn’t explain the joy I felt and the sadness. I asked Kiira if I could use some of her soap. Jericho and Kiira went into the tent as I bathed myself. I went to get dress afterwards and almost put on the old robe I had, nervous to have Ashleigh see me like I was now. As I went to put on the robe I felt something fill me- confidence. I was who I was. Ashleigh being alive didn’t change that. This was who I was and who I had become. I was Alanna Silverkin, sorceress and druid. I would remain as I was.

I held the altar in my hand that night and prayed for an hour before bed for the first time since I had heard the news that he was alive. Hope stirred my heart.

We arrived at the island Sabwa was on. Kiira led us on a road up to the top of mountain on the island, where Sabwa was. I followed behind. I knew that there would be joyful hellos for Jericho. I didn’t want to intrude on that. As we climbed, I felt myself growing more and more nervous. My stomach felt queasy as I thought of seeing Ashleigh again. I couldn’t sort out my feelings- I just knew I was nervous but I didn’t know exactly why. Perhaps it was to let him see how I had changed. Perhaps it was to see him changed. Perhaps it was to face Marius again. Or maybe it was facing Micah again. I wasn’t sure, but for some reason I stopped before I could see the houses and listened. I heard joyful exclamations and Jericho’s name being yelled.

I waited for a time and then decided it was time to enter Sabwa. I sent Meu ahead to Marius and then I walked to Marius. I hugged Marius tightly and for some time. I told him I was sorry and he asked me whatever for. I introduced him to Meu and he seemed pleased. I was joyful at seeing him again. I kissed him on the cheek and then went over to Grimm and gave him a huge hug. I was happy to see him again and he looked well.

Marius then became quite serious and told me there was something he wanted to show me. I steeled myself and followed him. He led me to one of the houses. As we entered there was Ashleigh laying on the table unconscious. My head started spinning and I felt dizzy as my world tilted. I thought I would be okay but I wasn’t. I stood there for a moment in shock and disbelief. My heart ached as I looked at him. He was wearing only pants, the ends tattered. He was quite still. I asked Marius where Micah was and he told me that he was no longer here. I felt a new sadness wash over me. I had desperately hoped to see him again. There was nothing I could do about Micah, but there was something I could do about Ashleigh. I walked into the room and removed my cloak, ready to start what needed to be done. I asked Marius if he could please get Grimm for me and he obliged. I got into my bag and grabbed the altar. Grimm came in and I asked him to lift Ashleigh for me. He did so and I lay the altar out on the table, having Grimm lay Ashleigh on top of it. I took some water and purified it then spread it over the altar and him. “I know you said it was overkill, but better safe than sorry,” I told him. Then I sat on the ground and worshiped. I forced myself to clear my mind and worship as I always had. I didn’t allow myself to think of his body on the table. I glanced up once in awhile, but I couldn’t do it too often or I’d lose my concentration.

I worshiped all day, neither eating nor drinking. I stayed that way until I could barely keep my eyes open. Then I went to the table and lay beside him, adjusting his arms so they were under his head, as he used to sleep. I couldn’t help but admire his body as he lay out. I wanted to touch it, to kiss it, to explore it, to feel it. Instead, I lay beside him and covered both of us with my cloak. I put my arm across his chest so I could feel his breathing and felt his skin against mine, knowing that was enough. I continued to talk to him until I fell asleep.

The next morning I awoke and sat back down on the floor. This time I held his hand. I couldn’t bear to not touch him after lying by him that night. I had felt him and now I couldn’t let go. I continued to worship as I had yesterday, neither eating nor drinking once again. Kiira came in after a time and I asked her if she would sit with me. She seemed pleased and I asked her that if she was to worship, to believe he would live, to believe this would work. She said she believed and she sat beside me. I let his hand going, wanting to do this right. I asked her that we do it as we had that night he had walked on the shadow plane with Collin and she agreed. For the day, we worshiped. I handed Kiira food and drink, knowing that she needed the nourishment, even if I was fasting.

At some point, there was talking outside the door, but I wouldn’t allow myself to concentrate on what was being said. Instead I concentrated on the worship. At one point, Grimm came in and sat down and I squeezed his hand. He sat for a time and then left, not participating but supporting. Some time later, Marius came in. I squeezed his hand and gave him a look that said thank you. He worshiped with us and talked quite a bit about how paths are not clear. I didn’t understand what he was talking about, but whatever came out during worship needed to be said, so I didn’t focus too much on it. He went to leave and touched my shoulder for a moment. I looked up at him. His look was one of empathy and I felt a surge of love for him. He was so dear to me, like a father figure now. I wanted to hug him and cry in his arms and talk with him. But I knew I needed to continue to worship and that I needed to be here with Ashleigh. He left and Kiira left soon after. It was growing late and I was growing tired.

I stood up and walked to Ashleigh. I leaned by him and told him, softly, “I know what you did for Grimm. I believe in you. I’ve always believed in you. I’ll always believe in you. I believe you’ll get better, but you have to believe in yourself.” Then I couldn’t help myself. I leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. Then I put his arms behind his head once more and climbed up on the table, lying as I had the previous night. I talked to him for some time before I fell asleep.

That night I had a dream. It was fragments from the past, snippets of things that had been said and done, all involving Ashleigh. When I woke up, it was all clear to me. I looked at him and I knew. He had taken on the poisons from Grimm and Grimm was unconscious for some time before Ashleigh healed him. It needed to work itself out of Ashleigh’s body. I knew that he would be okay. He had reminded me that he walked a solitary path which was his way of saying he would be fine, go worry about other things.

I lay the cloak beside him and went outside. Everyone was still sleeping. I looked for a fire, like the one we had when we walked to the ethereal plane before. Logan was supposed to meet us here. I had promised to get him and I kept my promises. I found a fire by Grimm’s forge and sat down by it, leaning against a post. I took out the herb that Jig had given me before we left and placed it in my mouth. After a moment, I was looking down at my body and realized I was in the ethereal plane.

I searched for a bit and then realized the Logan wasn’t here. I summoned a horse and rode around the island. It was then I realized that Logan wouldn’t be here yet and set out to find him. I had brought extra herbs with me so that Logan could return to the material plane once more. After 2 days, I reached the shoreline of the beach with no sign of him. I turned around to go back and on the 4th day, ran into Logan who was climbing the road to Sabwa. Together we walked the road and I explained to him what I was doing there and about how he had to take the herb. I felt an uncontrollable tugging of my soul to return to my body. I ran to my body and realized I couldn’t return. I saw Kiira sitting by me. I sent her a message telling her that I was here but unable to return to my body and that Logan was here too. She told me that I should take some of the herb to return. Then it dawned on me…

I sprinted to the house where Ashleigh’s body was. I would put the herb in his mouth and maybe that would return him. What I saw was not at all what I expected- Ashleigh was sitting on the altar swinging his legs. He looked at me surprised. I felt my body trying to pull my soul back and fought it, struggling against the pain. I told him to take the herbs. He told me that they were for me. I told him that he wasn’t the only one who could sacrifice. He took them and nothing happened. I felt my heart sink. I asked him how I could bring him back. He said he had no idea. He was anchored to his body and he didn’t know how he could return. He was so like himself that I couldn’t help but banter back and forth with him. Oh, how I’d missed him! But I wouldn’t allow myself to be a silly school girl about it. I looked out to Logan to see if he was still here. He was flickering back and forth between the planes and finally, he was on the material plane once again, his soul in his body. I felt such joy! Finally, it was time for me to go. I left and returned to my body. Kiira tackled me with a hug. I could practically skip with joy! Logan was back and Ashleigh was alive and I had seen him! I felt so proud that I had kept my promise to bring Jericho and Logan back. I ran to Marius’s house and started looking for books on poisons. I would find a cure. I knew I would. I was Alanna Silverkin, sorceress and druid. I would spend this day trying to bring him back once again. I promised.

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Goodbye, Jig (Backtrack Post 2)

Just how much my world was changing, I was about to find out. The world was starting to tip sideways and I wasn’t quite ready for what transpired next.

You’ll recall I had mentioned that Jig was going to be leaving us. This is where I’ll continue my tale, the night before we arrived at the Phoenix Tree. I went in search of Jig and found him at the fire. I sat beside him for a couple minutes in silence, allowing us to simply sit in each other’s company. He asked me if I understood why he was leaving. I told him I understood, but I didn’t like it. I told him that Grimm would be proud of him and what he was doing. I told him I was proud of him. He gave me the amulet after he had killed Arklet and I knew that I would treasure it. I had been trying to figure out since then what I wanted to give him. Earlier that day I had finally figured it out. I asked him if he had any ink and he didn’t. So I went in search of Kiira, knowing she would have some. She let me use it and I returned to the fire. I asked him if he would let me put a tattoo on him to remember me by. He seemed very pleased. After some talk he decided what he wanted. On one shoulder he wanted a lute to symbolize Kiira, but he wanted it to be black on the outside so that it was inverse colors. Then he wanted the symbol of Ashleigh on his lower spine with an infinite symbol beneath that. Finally, he wanted my face on his chest since it had given him good luck in the tournament. I agreed and started to heat the ink and needle. Jig went in search of Kiira to talk to her since she was not alright about Jig leaving our party.

Jig and Kiira returned to the fire and I started to tattoo his arm with the symbol of Kiira. Kiira healed it and it turned out quite nicely. I then did the symbol of Ashleigh. I asked him to do the symbol of the Clan of Dragons on my shoulder. He seemed unsure, but I wanted him to do it. I wanted this to remember him by. He did it and I felt a joy at having that there. I agreed to do his chest the next day while he was walking in the ethereal plane under the influence of the herbs. He would seem asleep on this plane but his soul would be in the ethereal plane.

The next day, Jig traveled to the ethereal plane under the herbs. I did the tattoo and did a good job at it. I wanted to because I felt that it meant a lot to do a good job. I made it so that it faced upside down so that when he looked down he would see me, silly as that was. I felt my heart hurt as I made the tattoo, knowing our time together was all too short before we had to say goodbye. I forced myself not to cry and to focus. Finally, the tattoo was finished but he was still asleep. When he awoke, he returned to this plane alone without Jericho or Logan.

After discussion and thought, it was decided that Jericho and Logan should try to take the herb on the ethereal plane to bring them to the material plane. This part of the story is a long one. It involves lots of trial and error, lots of time, and an upset Kiira. She was worried about Jericho and I understand that. I can’t imagine being that close to your lover and not being able to touch them, to hold them, just watching them flicker in and out back and forth between the planes. I could almost feel Kiira’s agony as she waited and hoped and prayed, helpless to do anything but wait.

When Jig returned and told us that Logan and Micah were injured after taking the herb, I decided to go to the plane with Jig so I could administer the flask that Micah had given me. It had helped Kiira, why wouldn’t it help them? But something went horribly wrong. Everything was blurred. Kiira started coming onto me, telling me she wanted to be with me and she wanted us to be together, that she didn’t care about Jericho. I kept telling her to give me some more herbs; I wasn’t able to see Jericho. She refused. She tried to kiss me and I kissed her. She wanted it; I wanted to help her, to make her feel better. Then she changed into a drow and I started. She didn’t know she was changing. The change happened again and she changed into a monster. I screamed and started running, screaming, trying to escape. But everyone was monsters. They were talking about eating me and devouring my flesh. I tried to escape, to run away, but it did no good. I was caught by a large monster who wanted to eat me. I struggled and screamed. He put me in a hold I had seen Jig do on his enemies and I cried out for Ashleigh to save me. I wanted him, I needed him. As I screamed for him, I fell into darkness.

When I awoke, all was right with the world- or so I thought. I looked over and saw Kiira asleep on Jericho’s body. It was evident she had been crying. I moved her and examined Jericho. He was still alive and breathing, albeit shallowly. I emptied the flask from Micah into his mouth and cast a heal spell on him. Kiira awoke and started sobbing hysterically and told me that he was dead. I tried to convince her otherwise but she was irrational. I finally told her that he was not dead and that she needed to cast some healing spells on Jericho or he would die. Finally, she started casting and he came to. She was beside herself with relief and joy. He was fading in and out, not quite here. I gave him some of the herb, although he had nothing to put it in. He had the books that Kiira wanted to give him as well. I swallowed around the lump in my throat as I started to take out the items in Ashleigh’s bag and transferred them to my own. I handed him the bag and told him to use it, in case he didn’t stay on this plane so he could have the herb and books. Kiira gave him the music box as well. He said that he recognized the bag. I told him it was the one that Marius gave to Ashleigh. And when he asked the inevitable question, I explained that we thought him dead, lost while saving Grimm and Micah. After that, I left them alone, not wanting to intrude on the time they had.

Stepping outside the tent, I felt the pang of jealousy and anguish in my chest and my eyes blurred with tears which I quickly wiped away. He had returned and I was overjoyed for them both. I was jealous of their happiness, of the joy they found in each other’s arms. I missed Ashleigh so much it hurt. I longed to hear his voice again, to see him smile at me one more time. I held his necklace in my hands and reminded myself of my path, of what I had to do. Things were not finished. There was no time for weeping, no time for tears. I smiled as I thought about the love on their faces, the way that Jericho held Kiira like he never wanted to let her go, like he was afraid he’d lose her. It was beautiful. Maybe I’d find that someday, maybe I’d be able to move on and love again, open my heart to someone again, be held and cherished and loved. Maybe…

Jericho continued to fade in and out of this world. But when he faded, he didn’t see the ethereal plane or Logan. Logan was unable to try again yet, but the ethereal talker of the tribe was able to send a message to Logan and tell him to meet everyone in Sabwa, telling him where that was.

Jericho continued to flicker and an idea occurred to me. If I killed him on this plane and then resurrected him, perhaps he would stay on this plane. I suggested this to Kiira who adamantly said no. But I told her that we had to ask Jericho as well. He wanted to do it and they agreed to try it, although Kiira was grudging about me doing it. I understood that, but if she wanted to be with Jericho, she had to let this happen. I took a few minutes to go pray to Ashleigh and then returned. After arguing for a moment with Jig about doing it and Kiira about being there, I finally did. I slowly, ever so slowly, took my time and said a quick prayer over the dagger. I plunged it under the ribs and into the heart. I watched as his eyes went wide and Kiira looked at him as if her whole world were falling apart. I forced myself to remain calm. I watched as he slumped back and died. I forced myself to wait a moment then told Kiira that she needed to move back a bit, as we had agreed on. I waited a few more minutes, making sure he had been dead for a bit. Then I used the staff and watched as he sat up and opened his eyes. I watched the joy on Kiira’s face and felt pride through me that it had worked. I watched his body, waiting to see if it continued to flicker. It did not and a smile crept to my face. They could be together at last. The world was as it should be. I cast detect magic on my staff and saw that the charges to resurrect were gone. I had used the last of it on Jericho. I felt an extreme sadness fill my heart as I realized that even if I found Ashleigh’s body, I could not bring him back. I forced myself to start moving and think about how we could save Logan. Now was not the time to weep. I had done enough of that.

After the resurrection, we started our journey to the beach where we would part ways; Jig establishing his tribe on the beach to protect Sabwa, and us continuing on to Sabwa. I summoned the horses. Jericho and Kiira rode together and Jig told me that I had to ride one. Not wanting to argue I did, with a child in front of me. I imagined the child was mine and we were out for a ride, enjoying our day together. It reminded me of the rides I had shared with Annabelle.

After 6 days of travel, riding through a battle which was not our own, we arrived at our destination. It was then that Kiira told me something that tipped the world. When they went to Sabwa before, they had found Ashleigh’s body. He was still alive, but unconscious. Micah had tried to heal him, but he was not conscious before they left for Jigston. I felt such a range of emotions, it took me a moment. I felt my head spin as the words sunk in. I couldn’t respond and walked away. I felt my insides raging. Why hadn’t anyone told me? A sense of betrayal filled me as I thought of all the people who told me, of the golden opportunities that were there to share with me. And yet, no one cared to share this with me. I swallowed my anger and betrayal. I was numb. I didn’t dare hope he would be alive. I couldn’t allow myself that. It had hurt too much losing him before. I couldn’t allow myself to lose him again. I refused to hurt that much again. Besides, it was time to say goodbye. I decided to deal with this news later.

I said my goodbyes to Jig, hugging him tightly and kissing him deeply. He joked that it was too late to have him now, but I could come back to tribe and stay later. I smiled at him. Oh, how I’d miss my friend.

I summoned turtles for us to ride on instead of buying a boat. We set sail and I watched as Jig faded out of sight. I felt tears fall as I waved goodbye. Goodbye, Jig. Goodbye.

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My World was Changing (Backtrack Post)

So much had happened since the last time I seen my friends. It felt like we’d been apart longer than a month. It was the most terrifying thing to me as I saw Jigston in the distance. I was scared that my friends wouldn’t be pleased to see me, worse that they wouldn’t be there and didn’t want to be. I know I had hurt Kiira and Jig, but I didn’t know the depth of that hurt or if I could make it right once again.

I entered the town. Kiira and I spied each other at the same moment, or so it felt. I ran to her and embraced her. I didn’t care if she didn’t want a hug; I just knew that I was desperately glad to see her again. I apologized and she graciously forgave me. I was relieved. I started to tell her about Brian and Mhairie and their shop. She brought me to the inn where Jig was waiting. He embraced me fiercely and I felt such relief and joy in that embrace (mixed with a little pain). I had missed him. I looked at both of their faces and realized that I missed them both. I asked if he was upset at me still and if he could forgive me. He said that he forgave me and that we were still friends, of course. I felt like a small child as I beamed with joy. My fear was for naught. The pain I had inflicted on them seemed to be forgiven and we were right again.

We sat at a table and I shared what had happened to me since I left. I shared about Illidia and the people I had resurrected and buried. I told them about what I had found out about Thadeus. I told them about Aemon and his help. I told them about the things I had found out in Allister about the ethereal plane. I told them about Lux and Covington. I talked and told them all about what happened. Then they told me about establishing Sabwa. They talked of Dahlia Malloy and Diego Mastiff, friends of theirs.

I retired to bed early, making sure that I was fully rested since I had traveled so hard. I lay out the altar as I always did, spent my time with Ashleigh, then went to bed. The next morning we set out to find the Phoenix Tree, Jericho and Logan. Jig had heard that his clan was traveling in The Grasslands. He knew of a man in the tribe who could talk with the spirits on the ethereal plane. So we were off.

We arrived at the Central Outpost where we met a woman named Autumn. She was in charge of the place. She answered our questions and told us about The Grasslands and the different tribes that lived there. That evening I played strip poker with the men in the barracks. I flirted and enjoyed myself. I started out winning, but quickly lost my handle on the game. It came down to my shirt or my skirt. Jig, however, stepped in and, much to my shame, won a toss of the dice so that I didn’t have to strip down. Part of me wanted to, just to push myself to do it, to see if I could. The other part of me didn’t want to. I don’t know why I did it. But it was exhilarating.

The next day we left for the Western Outpost. Along the way we encountered an old “friend” of Jig’s by the name of Arklet Horhagen. Supposedly Jig had killed him once. I desperately didn’t want trouble, especially with a pregnant Kiira who had already lost her breakfast due to the baby. We were to see the council. However, we found ourselves tied to stakes for three days. Kiira passed out and I feared for her and the baby’s life. Luckily, on the third day, Serc, Jig’s father, and the Clan of Dragons came to our rescue. We made safety and Jig went back to fight the enemy. I gave Kiira the flask that Micah had given us. It healed her and saved her and the baby’s life. Kiira and I tried to help heal the injured at the camp of the Clan of Dragons.

Some time later, Jig returned in his father’s arms. They thought him dead, but he wasn’t. Kiira healed him. He had killed Arklet Horhagen, which made him the leader of the Clan of Dragons. He accepted and this meant that we would have to say goodbye. But as I listened to his speech, I was moved and knew that he would be a good leader. I understand why he did what he did, but it didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. This man I had learned to love, to hold dear to my heart, to call friend, was going to leave. My world was changing.

View
Complications

The clan of the Dragon, our party in tow, made its way southeast and we eventually found the Phoenix Tree. It was huge! We could see it from a day’s walk away. I was nervous and excited at the same time. My necklace had stopped glowing as brightly and I can’t for the life of me figure out what that means. I hope Jericho and Logan are both alright. I finally talked to Jig about his leaving and I feel a lot better now…I even promised to see him at least once a year to put on a musical show for him and his tribe. I’m glad that, even if he’s not in Sabwa, at least he won’t be too far away.

After a little more traveling, we finally arrived at the Phoenix Tree. I looked hopefully around, only to realize that if Jericho and Logan were here on the Ethereal Plane, that I could not see them. Jig’s tribe has a ritualistic herb that lets them contact the “Spirit World”. Though we didn’t know if it would work, we decided to see if the herb would let us get to the Ethereal Plane. Jig bravely decided to try the herbs out first. Since he knew his tribal rituals better than I ever could, I let him do it. Alanna and I sat by his side as he passed out from the herb. All we could do was wait and hope that the idea worked.

A long while later, Jig emerged from his sleep. He didn’t seem hurt, which was good, and he had managed to find Jericho and Logan! Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to bring them back. I bit back a cry of sorrow just in time to hear him say that he thought he might be able to if he tried the herb again. We decided that if the herb on the Material Plane could propel one into the Ethereal Plane, perhaps the plant used in the Ethereal Plane could have the opposite effect, sending one from the Ethereal Plane onto the Material Plane. We decided that we should send Jig back with some of the herb to try the idea out. Still hopeful of success, we went through several more attempts before we saw any results. When Jericho did come through partially, all I could see were flickers, sporadically placed and randomly blinking. We saw Logan a little bit later doing the same thing. When Jig finally awoke, he told us that Jericho had taken quite a beating in the attempt to return and that Logan hadn’t woken up at all yet. Frightened and afraid for them, we sent Jig and Alanna back to the Ethereal Plane using the herb…Jig to drop off a ready supply of the herb and Alanna to, hopefully, heal the wounds.

...Apparently the herb does not have the same effect on all people. Jig passed out, as he had been normally doing but Alanna got up quite quickly, before she was supposed to. I tried to guide her back down to make sure she was alright and to possibly cast a healing spell, but she kept making odd sexual references towards me and tried to kiss me. After that she screamed at me and ran. Afraid that the powerful herb had somehow damaged her brain, I yelled for Jig’s father to grab her and hold her. He did so and after a few moments she passed out as well. We laid her back onto the ground gingerly. I hope that she will be alright. Maybe she just needs a little rest and a heal spell. With all of my close friends fallen around me, I felt a gnawing sense of dread begin to take over. I wish that there was some way I could make sure that everyone else was alright! It was so frustrating to only be able to wait, watch and hope for all of their safe return! I pull out my lute to try and play a song to calm my nerves but it is no use. My fingers bungle the chords I have known since childhood and the churning in my stomach only grows more intense. I put the lute back and morosely stare at the fire, waiting and hoping.

Then I hear a strangled voice call “Kiira” from behind me. I whirl around just in time to see Jericho fall to his knees. My whole body tenses tighter than a bowstring and I see myself run so slowly, so slow! over to his body, face-down and prone on the packed earth. I see hands checking for a pulse and it seems someone else who screams out a heartwrenching, wordless sound of denial as she finds nothing at all. Tears start streaming – unbidden; unnoticed down ivory skin as the woman throws herself over the body of her loved one, screaming “Jericho! No! No! My love!”. The elven woman buries her tears in his back, no more words forthcoming- only an eerily haunting, ululating howl of grief that turns into sobbing, then silence as she collapses into the utter exhaustion of spent grief.

When she awakes, her sky-blue eyes have hardened into glacial ice. With a look of cold resolve, she lifts her head from the one thing that was beyond her ability to control. This was one thing in her life that could not be changed – could not be removed with a spell or made better with words. There was nothing if he was not there…if this was his time to travel to whatever lay beyond the realm of death, he was not going alone. They had made a family together and whatever adventure or hardship lay beyond the impenetrable veil of death’s grim visage, she would accompany him. She would make it her time. Gritting her teeth, she drew her shortsword, the one that he had given her lifetimes ago. Fiery resolve written on her face, she took one last long look at what could have been and thrust the sword towards her heart…

Only to have her wrist snatched by a treacherous fiend, the grip strong enough to knock the startled woman’s sword from her white-clenched hand. Molten anger blazing, she looks up at the other woman. The other one’s lips are moving but through the overwhelming deluge of grief and despairing resolve, all the kneeling woman on the floor can hear his the rush of the ocean drowning her senses. The other woman moves closer, shakes the shoulder of the kneeling woman….

Kiira! Heal him!! He’s still alive!!” Alanna urgently orders me. The name and the the implications give me enough of a sliver of hope to do as she orders, though my head shakes in denial even as I cast the spell. “It will not work…Jericho...he’s…he’s already passed beyond” I manage in a choked voice. I go to retrieve my fallen shortsword and catch a sudden glimpse of Jericho’s chest moving up and down rhythmically. Gasping in disbelief, I go over to him and hug him as fiercely as I can, shortsword forgotten in the dust. Wild joy erupts just as intensely as the crippling grief of earlier on, tears of gladness stream once again down my eyes.

It feels so good to be in his arms once more. I am horrified at what I almost threw away. Jericho and I talk for awhile and I am happy, happier than I have been in many days. I missed him so much. It is only after we’ve been talking awhile that I notice random pieces of his body flickering; almost as if they’re gone. One second there and solid and the next missing from existence. I gasp and tell him, but he doesn’t even know when he disappears. A sudden realization strikes my heart and I realize with a sinking feeling that, just as the herb Jig used to get to the Ethereal Plane wore off after a certain amount of time, so too would this herb. My heart breaks at the thought of losing him again after so short a time but I try to choke back the sob, letting him have the books I bought for him in case he goes back and giving him the music box that plays our song for him to listen to. It’s not fair; losing him so soon.

But the alternate plan that Alanna devises I like even less. She wants to kill him. Kill him!! and then use her staff to bring him back from the dead. It sounds fine in theory but I don’t know if I can bear to watch him die again. And if anything goes wrong, the slightest misstep, and he is gone for good. Tired of arguing with Alanna over the matter, I tell her to go ask Jericho what he thinks. AND HE AGREES TO IT!! It is a decision that I never thought he would agree to. I have such a bad feeling about this. We clear the area and I go to give him one last hug. The cold resolve born of grief that I thought gone when Jericho was healed begins to well up inside me again. My eyes glint dangerously and I inwardly vow that, if the spell goes awry; if he dies, I will go with him. Our souls will go beyond, together – as a family. I clutch his hand and lean in as close as I dare as I watch in horrified anticipation as Alanna carefully and deliberately steps in front of Jericho. I feel his body tense and see his eyes shut for just a moment. His heart is hammering so hard! My breathing starts getting faster and already I feel a terrifying hole begin to fill the pit of my stomach. Try as I might, though, I am mesmerized and cannot look away. The surreal slowness I felt when I saw him die the first time comes back to me. Every image burned into my disbelieving brain. The slow progress of the knife as his body tenses even more and his heart starts beating faster than I thought possible. The glint of steel as I watch the knife puncture a layer of skin and then go deeper and deeper as his eyes widen in a startled look of intense pain. And the blood! So much blood. The tears come once more to my eyes as I feel his heartbeat speed up and then slow down …slowing until it is only a faint drumming and then fading into nothingness as the blood spurts from the open wound and he slumps over; lifeless. I feel whatever beast had taken control of me before begin its animalistic clawing to the surface of my consciousness as I clutch him as tight as I can; so tight that my fingers turn white and I lose sight of what we’re doing. This is worse! So much worse than before!! I cannot think straight – feel only rage and cold, shocked grief so intense that it burns away any coherent thought. The others around me disappear and it is only him and I; nothing else matters!

It is Alanna who calls me back, reminds me of what we’re doing; why we’re here. I step back a few paces and wait, hand on the hilt of my sword, as she waits…and waits what seems an eternity before she finally takes her staff and stretches it out towards Jericho’s lifeless body. I take a deep breath, watching expectantly. A millenium passes in that moment and only as he sits up do I release the held breath. It worked! He’s alive!! I speed towards him and wrap him in a fierce tackle-hug, sobbing in a combination of pent-up relief and joy. Together, we all make our way to the beaches that will take us to Sabwa.

Before we leave the beach, I tell Alanna that we need to talk to her. I know it’s painful and I want to make it quick & get the needed words out of the way. Trying not to raise her hopes overly much, I tell her that Jig and I found Ashleigh’s body floating in the water on our first trip to the newly founded Sabwa. I tell her that he’s alive, though not conscious when we left. I was going to let the others in Sabwa handle the discussion but Jig insisted on telling her that he was still alive before we parted ways. I look up at her, a smile partly forming on my lips as I anticipate her excitement at the good news that one who we thought lost forever had returned and was, at the least, alive. The response I got, however, was not at all what I expected. Alanna regarded me placidly for a few moments, uttered a small “hmm” and then turned away, without any discernible expression crossing her face. Confused, but knowing that Alanna very much valued her alone time to come to terms with things, I let her go as I bid Jig a final farewell and climbed onto the sea turtle that Alanna had summoned for us to travel on with Jericho.

What I took to be a simple mulling of thoughts on Alanna’s part, however, quickly become something else. It was the way she acted. She had been a little distant since she had returned from her journey but this, this was downright cold. She spoke only when I said something to her, and then only a curt, short reply. And, while the journey before we had made it to the Phoenix Tree had seen us laughing and talking as old comrades, I noticed that now she seemed to make it a point to avoid me. After about the third night and with no Alanna making an overture to talk, I went to her and asked what was the matter. She was hurt that I hadn’t told her earlier! I couldn’t see it. If our situations had been reversed, I would have wanted to be told Jericho was alive as we were rushing off to the exact place he was at – not a month or two earlier, with worries and doubts about him pulling through and far away from where he was at. I had thought I was being kind by waiting to tell her. She did not see it that way though. I did the best I could to apologize and then awkwardly tried to let her have her space as we made the final leg of the journey to Sabwa.

When we arrived, Jericho was nervous at first. It was sweet and made me chuckle a little inwardly. He was welcomed, of course, with hearty smiles and hugs. I felt like part of the family as Marius welcomed me back as well. Ashleigh’s condition, sadly, remains unchanged but at least he is still alive. Micah left once more, no doubt to forge his own unique path. At least he stayed to help build the houses and to help Ashleigh as much as he could. Marius showed me the house that had been built for Jericho and I, an almost exact replica of Jericho’s old house, with the addition of another floor containing another bedroom and a small room for the baby. I smile at the love that had gone into the crafting as my thoughts turned, surprisingly, to the family I had left behind in Corindan. I wondered briefly how my parents were doing, if they were okay. It would be so odd to have a permanent house that wasn’t in the treetops; was on the ground. Shaking the thoughts, I gave Marius a hug and thanked him as he left and Jericho and I officially made the house our own. Whatever had happened before, I felt peaceful – at home.

The next morning I awoke to Jericho just sitting by me, watching me with a sweet smile on his face. I smile as I wake up and think of how lucky I am to have him here with me. I couldn’t have found a better man if I scoured the world for five hundred years I think to myself as I sit up and give him a kiss. “Breakfast?” he asks and I nod an enthusiastic yes. He only moves to the bed however and I give him a confused look as his eyes glint mischievously at me. I shake my head and say “Fine, I’ll go get it” and start to make my way downstairs. He grabs my wrist before I can make it far from the bed, though, and a ray of dawning realization lights my countenance as I fall back into the bed, chuckling at myself…

When the afternoon rolls around, I make my way to finally see the others in the village. Everyone is doing fine, except for Ashleigh, who is still not moving. I move cautiously towards Alanna, who is sitting by his side. I see the pain and determination written on her face and I sit next to her. She asks me to help her and I breathe a sigh of relief that she at least made an attempt to talk to me again and I nod that I will do whatever I can. The rest of the night we spend talking to Ashleigh, as we did that first night that he walked in the Shadow Plane with Collin. He will make it. He will. My thoughts turn inward, as they tend to do when I’m talking this way. The rest of the afternoon and part of the evening I spend with Alanna, only returning to the house when I must.

The next day, I awake to find Alanna slumped against a post in Grimm’s forge. I thought that she was just tired but it turns out that she had taken the herbs that would take you to the Ethereal Plane!! I could only assume that she had gone to find Logan’s spirit and felt worried but confident that she would succeed. It was only after the second day that I realized something was wrong. Every time Jig had gone, he had been back way before this. Frantic, I cast as many healing spells as I could. They seemed to have little effect, though, and I simply watched and waited for signs of a change, either good or bad.

After a lot of thinking on my part as I waited for Alanna to recover, I decided that I couldn’t yet settle. While I could find my peace here, I wouldn’t be able to truly be happy until I knew that the friends that had come with me on my journey were happy and safe as well. I decided to try and find a cure for Ashleigh and make sure that Alanna was as taken care of and happy before I settled down permanently. Maybe I would even find a way to send a message to my family, let them know that I was okay and happy. When I told him I was going to leave he sent me on my way, simply saying that I had his blessings. I gave him a look that spoke volumes as I walked out of the room we had been in and left to go pack up my things. A couple of days and misunderstandings later, Jericho agreed to come with me on our journey, to return when we were finished and settle permanently in Sabwa. Just as we were finishing up our discussion of that Logan popped back into existence. I rushed to give him a welcoming hug, grateful that he had made it back alive and unharmed. Alanna was soon to follow. I heard a sound from me and I whirled around, giving her a full-on tackle-hug; relieved that she too had been unharmed and had returned to us and grateful that our paths had not split in this way.

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Change

Life holds so many more twists and turns than I ever dreamed of. Just when I was beginning to despair of ever finding a friendly face again, Jig appeared, followed shortly thereafter by Alanna and Ashleigh. Fifty years of wandering with nothing but a sense of futile despair to show for it and after only a few short months of traveling with this extraordinary group I find myself rid of my horrendous curse, pregnant with a child who is partly drow, and loving my fellow travelers with disturbing intensity—we have become a close-knit family in my eyes. Then the hardships. We are forced to leave the Wood Elf area without Ashleigh and then Alanna is gone for over a month. Now Jig too is leaving and I feel as if part of my heart is being torn from my chest; ripped and torn with nothing that I can do to make it better; the things I love whisked from my grasp like so many autumn leaves.

To make a long story short, we did not catch either Dahlia or Diego on our way out of Shelby. Marius, Micah, Grimm, Jig and I left to find the new Sabwa. Beyond getting swindled at the harbor city, we encountered relatively little trouble and eventually found our way to the island that Marius had designated the new Sabwa to be built. It was beautiful! And we found Mu, Marius’ familiar, there with a chest of books and some of Grimm’s things. We spent the next couple of weeks helping to build the foundations of the city, even getting most of one of the houses built, minus the roof. We left in time to get to Jigston and arrived only a day shy of when we were to meet Alanna there. We also found Dahlia there, though Diego seemed to be in some sort of trouble that we couldn’t quite figure out. We helped Dahlia to try and find him as best we could, but we had very little luck. Though they were supposed to accompany us to the Grasslands, we left Jigston without Dahlia or Diego. Apparently Diego had gotten in over his head in debt and Dahlia was forced to attempt a repayment with her dancing skills. Sometimes I just want to take a swing at Diego’s stubborn, arrogant head to see if I can try and knock some sense into the slab of rock that seems to have replaced his brains. Grrrrr! Not wanting to alienate Dahlia further than I already had with my questioning when we had first arrived in Jigston, I thought it better to acquiesce to her demands and forge ahead without either of them. It saddens me to leave for once we have Jericho and Logan in tow, I have a sinking suspicion that we will not be entering many cities. From there we journey to the new Sabwa for who knows how long. The city is well-hidden and there is little chance that I can see of them finding us. I fear that this is the last I will see of my esteemed acquaintance and I am saddened that the parting had to come on these terms.

From Jigston, Alanna, Jig and I made our way to the Central Outpost before we got into the main part of the Grasslands. They knew nothing about the phoenix tree; only that a new band of barbarians had entered the grasslands—which we later figured out to be the tribe that Jig was from, the Clan of the Dragon. Hoping to meet up with them and from there, to make our way further into the grasslands to find the phoenix tree, we headed west towards the Western Outpost. We found more than we bargained for. One of the other barbarian tribes surrounded us one morning. Seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, we made our way under guard to seek audience with their council. When we got there, however, we were each tied to a large stake dug into the ground. There we waited….

and waited….

and waited again…

Finally, after almost three days of no food, water, or rest, I succumbed to the inevitable…my sight…fading…to blackness…...

I awoke to Alanna leaning over me, a look of pure concern on her face. Shaking my head to try and clear my thoughts, my gaze widened to take in the tent that we seemed to be in. I looked towards Alanna, who held the wooden flask that I had been given in Sabwa in her hand. In my heart I know that it was that and the caring of my friends that brought me back over the brink, back to the land of the living. I sat up, feeling more refreshed than I had in many days and Alanna and I left to see if we could help the other wounded of Jig’s clan. None of the injuries were too serious, however, so I ended up just sitting in the corner and playing a little bit of music to myself.

The next day we saw Serc Sawyer, Jig’s father, come walking into the camp with a body that we assumed to be Arklet’s (the man who had imprisoned us). It turned out to be Jig, however, wearing his former foe’s armor and bloodied from the battle that he had just fought so valiantly. Alanna and I rushed to his side, worried that yet another comrade had fallen in battle. Breathing a sigh of intense relief, however, we discovered that he was not dead, only very heavily wounded and fatigued. I cast a healing spell and did my best to make Jig feel better. I smiled as he opened his eyes and stood before us again, my brother-in-spirit revived and very much alive.

My joyfulness in his return and our apparently narrow escape into safety, however, was stillborn. As Jig stood up once more and I went to wrap him in a relieved and happy hug, Serc pulled him to the side. They were having an intense discussion, which I couldn’t quite follow with the rudimentary Orcish that I had learned. Alanna, being the kind soul she is, saw my trouble and translated for me. What she told me made my heart plummet to the ground. Jig was being told that he had earned the right to lead his tribe and that his father wanted to know if he was going to do so. My eyes going back and forth from Serc to Jig, I waited with bated breath as [[:Serc Sawyer | Serc]] stepped aside so that Jig could talk to us. I had a terrible, gnawing knot in the pit of my stomach that wouldn’t go away as Jig turned towards us both. Through my mind flashed images of the Jig I had grown to love. His manner of speaking, his thoughts, so surprisingly deep in the few serious conversations I had had with him. I saw how much he had grown in the half a year that we had journeyed together. I eyed him and waited for him to speak, each word pounding like a hammer and settling like a heavy weight into the pit of my stomach. He would not be going with us after the Phoenix Tree. He had decided to stay with his tribe, felt it his duty and place to lead them. Tears began welling in my eyes, dangerously close to spilling over as I told him to do as he must. Thoughts spinning in my head, I took a few steps backwards. Jig stretched his arms out for a hug and I went forward, hugging him fiercely, as if he would disappear in my arms if I let up for even a second. It was too much—the tears finally spilled over and I shielded my eyes with my hands so that Jig couldn’t see them as I rushed headlong back into the tent we had set up and collapsed into the middle of it, sobbing inconsolably.

A few hours passed and I finally found the strength to dry my reddened, bloodshot eyes. The grief was still there but I had found the strength to cover it and hold it back, as I had many times before. Jig had found his place and was happy. What more could I ask for?? It had been selfish to assume that he would travel with us always. I had envisioned him in Sabwa, settling down with a house next to Grimm’s. I had never even dreamed that he was heir to an entire tribe! That his father was the leader and had expected Jig to one day take up that mantle as well. There were worse things that could have happened. At least Jig would be happy and that was what truly mattered. I heaved one final, heartwrenching sigh and pulled out my lute, staring mutely at it for a few moments before a heroic-sounding ballad tune came unbidden into my thoughts. Smiling, I plucked a few chords and began the process of writing another song to remember Jig and all he had done for the world. It would be alright; we would be alright.

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The end of a short era

I have seen so much in my travels. I start off adventuring looking for my path. I find a drow elf who says she is cursed and not a real drow. I belive her and from there on we meet new and interesting people. Drow elf is Kirra and she my good friend. Then I meet Alanna, woman with big heart, but she doesn’t quite know where to put some of the love she has. Most of the time she places it on wrong people, but she overall a great person. Alanna my good friend. Then I meet man who says he will be a god one day. We laugh at him, but his eyes seemed determined to do just that. His name Ashleigh. We all travel together and se many wonderous and frightening sights. We traveled the world together and helped each other and our other friends in Sabwa find there ways. Sadly after so much time with everyone I have seen the ways of the world in the good and the bad ways. It is sad because I now know why my people choose to be nomads. The world is so complicated with the weird laws that races place on people who live with them. I have seen men die by my hands who really were justmisunderstanding our point of view, or we misunderstood theirs. In the end I have seen so many people die and so much bloodshed that was not needed. I have seen a woman fall down and cry becuase she believed her lover was gone, I have seen a deity fall only to come back to life, I have seen beings I could not belive were real without have seeing them with my own eyes, I have seen a hated rival come back from the dead only to kill him again, I have seen hate, I have seen greed, I have seen death. Our life’s as the tribe of the dragon are simple. We do what we must to have a good life. We trust each other because we know we can be trusted. I have few people I trust with my life, but the few I know I can trust are people of heart and strength beyond anything muscles can bring.

I started this wandering of the world with 3 friends who I only partially trusted. I saw them fight beside me and I saw them take the scars of battle along side me. To me that makes them my brother and sisters in blood. Our blood has been spilled together for the same cause. We are related in my eyes and as such I will protect them as I would protect my tribe, with all my heart and strength. In fact it is becuase of them I am who I now am. I was treated poorly on there part when I first met my friends. I could not speak well and was treated as a dunce. I liked this because if an enemy would leave his guard down, it was that much easier to grab them and choke the life from them. As I learned to trust my allies I started to push them into treating me like and equal. Alanna was the first to see who I really was, a smart man who just couldn’t speak the language well. I really was thankful that she understood me, although we still get into fights about simple things. However, now I can argue in orcish and she can speak basic orc back, so the tables have turned in a way. With all the fights I have endured, nothing compares to a good lashing of the tongue by Alanna. I would gladly loose one eye and the use of my right arm to stop Alanna from ever attacking me with her words again. She is a beautiful woman whom I assumed I would bed, when in fact she was the one that got away. I even offered to pay her good money, but she refused. I blame Ashleigh for that. Then there was Kirra. The woman who was a drow, but became overly radiant after her curse left her. She and I had many words about simple things and indepth passions, yet her soul and eyes were ever toward the future. She knew what she wanted and she always pushed herself to reach that goal. Her music was the only thing I knew that could surpass her beauty. Many a nights people would speak aloud and not listen to the melodies of her music, but I listened and I knew one day I would no longer have her music to soothe my aching muscles. I enjoyed anything I could with my friends, for I knew that the world outside of my tribe was cruel and people had to leave. Alanna left on more than one occasion for one reason or another but I really never understood why. Kirra, though, was always there and for that I thank her in my heart daily. Kirra’s one passion has been Jericho and her child. It is a little silly to fall so in love, is my feelings, but from what I hear love can be very powerful. Maybe one day I will feel this, until then I can stop by any brothel and feel the love I need. i warn Jericho now, however. If he ever does anything to harm Kirra, it will not just be me and Alanna coming for him, a tribe of barbarians who live across the sea from him will be coming as well. Lastly we have AShleigh. A man who no one really knew but everyone did as well. He was what everyone wanted to be, free to be themselves. He wanted to be his own deity and as such he would follow only his code of conduct. He worshiped no one and felt others should do the same. He felt a man should be answerable only to himself. He helped me to understand so many people while I was learning to speak and understand the “easy” language as people call it. He had a mean hammer that could crack skulls with an easy wave of his hand, the only problem was that usually his hand didn’t wave the right way and he missed most of the time, but practice makes perfect and even gods make mistakes…he just usually made them in the battle field… with his hammer. But he is a great man. He saved us from Draktheori and he saved us from certain doom from some lycantheori creature. I knew at once he wasn’t dead, but everyone was mourning his death. i silently laughed as I knew soon he would walk through the door and wonder why he was being mourned while he was still living. To this day I still laugh. I know the truth and soon everyone else will know as well.

My friends have shown me what it means to live and now it is time to say goodbye to our group. My other friends Grimm, Micah, Logan, Jericho, Marius, as well as Collin and a few others have all taought me a lot about life. I cannot go around waiting for things to happen to me. I forsook the spirits becuase they would not help me in life, I felt. When I stopped looking for them, they pushed me in a direction without me even knowing about it. THey are sneaky little things and now I understand why some journeys take a long time. I must not listen for spirits, I must follow my heart, as my heart is the only thing that can truly hear the spirits. My heart was thrown for a loop when I saw Arklet alive and well in the grasslands, my arch nemesis, the man who overthrew my father and after words I overthrew him…over a cliff. He survived the fall and dared to speak ill of my clan and father. I saw the clan then, in my mind. I saw them and everything they had taught me. Strength is important, but sometimes you need to think before you can fight back. Instead of attacking him where I was, I waited and watched. We were tied up for 3 days until my father and the clan of the dragons came to attack the village of the barbarians. He released us and I brought the girls back to the base of my clan. I went back into battle, looking for blood. I found it. Arklet was waiting for me and he pulled out an axe meaner looking than his old one. I wrestled him a bit, but he had gotten wise to y old ways. He was able to take a few chunks of flesh from my body, but soon I had him on the ground and snoring away. That was the end of him. his skull was mine the moment he passed out. I used his own weapon to behead him. I ripped away his armor and used it myself to aid in combat against the rest of the people attacking us. We won, although I had to be carried back. My friends healed me and allowed me to live. My father than told me it was time for him to retire. It was time for me to take my rightful place as leader. I felt numb. I knew that one day I would have a choice, but a choice of leadership of the people I loved? I talked it over with my Alanna, and Kirra. They were sad, but understood my choice. I took the lead as the Clan of the Dragons chief. I will lead my people south to help Alanna and Kirra find Jericho and Logan. I will then lead them north where we will setup a beach settlement outside of Sabwa, where we can protect them if needed. I have so much to thank them for, it is the least I can do for them. The spirits work in wondrous ways…but I still don’t believe that Kord told them to do it.

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