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As night falls on the camp, and as the rest of the family arrives long after Nars arrived the previous evening, you find that it's actually a surprisingly comfortable place. The water is not only not frozen, but even magically warm, perfect for relaxing in [[or, if you have ranks in Knowledge(geology), not-so-magically]]. The heat emanating from the water also has kept the snow clear enough around the bank to make clearing a campsite easy; Nars and Roland create solid lean-tos that promise to shield Margim, and everyone else, from any unfavorable weather that might come.

As Gertie helps to make the campsite a little more homely and organized while Lome continues to consider how best to treat Margim, Lore spends some time exploring the surrounding area. The forest is thinner here - the trees shorter, and with a sparser canopy that lets plenty of light through. There are, for better or for worse, no clear hiding spots in the surrounding area - no caves, no rocks to hide behind. Instead, it is a fairly simple dirt area.

One, two, three, four days pass with little stir from Margim - but both Lome and Nars assure the rest that he is definitely getting better. And then, on the morning of the fifth day, just as the sun rises above the far-off mountains, Margim's eyes open. He looks around for a little while, intently, focusing on his surroundings, before his eyes fix on Lome, who is already bending over to care for him. "Love, you saved me!" he whispers quietly. And Lome smiles, one of the truest smiles her relatives have seen in years.

As the others start congregating about Margim, Margim begins talking more rapidly. "I have much to catch up on, much to find out. But let me explain first. I was kidnapped, essentially, so many years ago. My clan required my skills as a scout even though they despised me; they threatened to kill you… and… and our children…" He pauses, and takes a breath. "While I resented them and wanted a way out, I found that they had actually turned their sights away from the elves in general to a very specific and worthwhile enemy, one that was worth fighting. They were named the Blood Knights, and were a group spread throughout the world intent on exterminating the orcs. I was bound, magically, to promise to help kill their leader, Antiliva, an elf, a sorceress, before I could ever speak to you again.

"She died four weeks ago. I was able to disguise myself and infiltrate a group she was working with, so that ten of our best warriors later prepared an ambush for her since we knew her whereabouts. Six of them died, I hear - I was not there. But as soon as I received word, I struck out to find you, although I knew they wouldn't let me stay with you - at least you would know what I was doing, why I had left you, and they trusted me enough to let me go.

"It was my enemies who found me, though. I am fleet of foot in the forest, and I fled, but they wounded me severely and poisoned me. And so… I arrived." He pauses again, but this time Lome hushes him.

"Dear, rest now. You are still not completely well. "

And so the day continues, with Margim awake for 30 min. to an hour at a time. It will take at most one more full day before Margim is ready to travel slowly, at least, Nars estimates. "Which means it's time to figure out what we're doing, not just sit around here" Roland comments.

Verbes, the Blood Knights were not at all unfamiliar to you. You rack your brain… Blood Names. That was it. You had read about them while studying the names, and lost all track of both given the recent chaos. You collect your thoughts.

The Blood Names are things of legend, according to many. But a few still claim they are real, although there have been no reports of their use in recent times, aside from the Blood Knights. Nonetheless, information about them abounds. Each person possesses a blood name, and the names can be used by others with powerful spells to influence the named person - to control them, hurt them, kill them - from any distance throughout Thrynn. It is rumored that the libraries of Ashkelath even hold multiple spellbooks dedicated solely to these spells. Learning blood names, however, is more than a dark art - it is something you never even saw a suggestion about in your reading, Verbes. If the names exist, no one knows how to find them.

The Blood Knights, in turn, were rumored in your research to have found a method to finding Blood Names, and planning to use them to take over Thrynn. Their cause has gone nowhere for years, and they are universally laughed at by scholars. But Margim is not so sure. "Granted, they certainly don't have everyone's blood names - when the knights fight, we don't just all fall over and die after someone recites our names. But there have been… strange things… commanders dying in their sleep, powerful fighters suddenly turning on their comrades, in our war against the Blood Knights. There's something there that we've been fighting against, something more than just skilled warriors."

And so, as night falls and everyone sits around the campfire, everyone's thoughts our similar: What are these Blood Knights? Why were Blood Names mentioned by Kersey? What do we do now?

Re: More Family Matters by K KelethorK Kelethor, 09 Aug 2007 06:32

Sitting around the campfire one evening, Lore asks, "Mama, can I use poison on my weapons?" It is a quiet question. She waits for the response as the fire crackles and the eyes of the grown-ups look at her, startled.

Re: More Family Matters by lorenalorena, 02 Aug 2007 21:24

Roland, Gertie, and Dog seem to be settling in nicely in their new pond-side campsite.

Gertie has cleaned up the place a bit, so the group has a little clearing that's dry and free of brush, snow, and those uncomfortable acorns and rocks that usually flock to underneath bedrolls. Roland has fashioned a nice picnic-bench-like table, and a little fire-circle with log benches about 50ft from the shore. [Is the pond frozen?] The tents ended up back with the mule, of course, but Roland's set about making some shelters – little lean-to things made of branches and leaves, though they're surprisingly warm and roomy. Margim's stretcher is easily converted into a cot so he doesn't have to lie on the ground. And Dog has demarcated the boundary of our campsite on a few of the outlying trees.

Gertie is a little anxious to get back to Doerstadt, understandably, but also doesn't want to risk moving Margim. "This can be our little family vacation," she remarks with a laugh.

Roland, meanwhile, was probably not the only one a little surprised at Gertie's… proficiency… in zapping zombies. Roland and Gertie spend some time talking in low tones during some down-time on the first evening at the Pond. Roland seems satisfied afterwards… but Gertie is quiet about it. She seems happy about how things went, and proud to have helped, but understandably a little shaken at having had undead things attack her and her relatives. She's strong in spirit and you've seen her be feisty… but you sense that she'd much rather be dealing with relatively-peaceful domestic concerns, and providing for her family, than having to protect her family from menacing monsters.

"We're not going to have to walk back through that place to get Bill and Betty, are we?" Gertie shudders.

Roland, as usual, is pretty calm about it. "We could go the long way 'round on the way back to Doerstadt. But at least we'll get to rest first and not be in so much of a rush. We should sort out all this stuff we picked up from the battlefield. And hopefully, soon Margim will be able to tell us what happened to him. We'll see if our plans change after that."

Gertie says, "Well, dear, you seem to have it all planned out." She sticks out her tongue at him. "I still can't believe we managed to follow Nars on a journey of three days, to a place none of us had been before, managing to find the one live druid in a forest of dead (and undead) things, AND that he was then able to help Margim just as we had hoped. It's pretty incredible. I just hope none of those… things… got our poor animals. I'm glad Margim is getting better, and I'm glad we'll get a break before doing any more traveling – I will sure need it. I have a bad feeling that we'll have to fight off more things before we get home again, though."

Family Vacation by RolandRoland, 01 Aug 2007 00:24

Lore has taken to wearing all black clothing. "All the better for sneaking in," she says. Her skin is still fair, her hair a pale ash-blond, until the sun hits it and it glitters, like golden ice. Her eyes are still green, but they are deeper than they used to be. They are full of pain sometimes, sometimes scared, betrayed, nervous, but always persevering. When she is angry, they go black, with golden flecks swirling, and she has been angry quite a lot lately.
She looks… impressive. Definitely she could appear much lovelier if she wore other colors, tried to be attractive, but she doesn't care. Something is beginning to burn inside her, a purpose is growing, and that is what is most important to her. Being able almost to disappear to others, she has stopped thinking about how she looks to them and to herself, so when people see her, nothing is hidden, no curtains drawn.
Her rapier and daggers and braid-blade are well oiled, a gray-silver color, and somehow they remind her family of her— small and sharp and very dangerous at times, and enduring, flexible, like controlled fire. She has felt betrayed by her family, by her aunt Analia, who has been disowned in Lore's mind, and is angry sometimes at her uncles: Roland for not helping her attack Analia and Verbes for being controlled by her. Not that they could help it particularly, but those were failings, and she keeps track of shortcomings and of excellences.
She looks older, deeper, more hurt and more deadly in some ways. Inside her is beginning to burn a hatred of evil and a love of justice, a deep desire for her family and for other families to live in peace. Her thoughts are shifting from allegiance solely to her family to a reverence for and service to the people of Thrynn, to the lives of her family and of others. Lore will not give up, she will not easily forgive until the danger is vanquished.
In addition to her vow against Analia and Oroh, a quieter promise has been formed alongside, unbeknownst to her. She will not marry, not after the pain she has seen, not if that would mean working for some person who could betray her instead of working for Thrynn and the lives of many. There is no room in her heart for that sort of love right now.
[Kathryn's note: I like to think of Lore as being a bit like the secretary in "The Man who was Thursday." If you recall, he was the first day of creation, light and darkness, and his robe was black with a white stripe on it. Lore is becoming like him. For now she is finding that he hates evil, but she is not yet sufficiently in love with goodness, mercy, life, so rather than a stripe of light, I think she has only the glints of her weapons against her black clothing. She is certainly a philosophical sort of character, but probably tending to move away from neutrality.]

Re: Description time! by lorenalorena, 29 Jul 2007 16:54

Lore returns with her uncle shortly. "It looks like you have another stranded man asking for hospitality tonight," he said with a weak smile.
"I thought it would be nicer for him to stay here for the night than at the shop," said Lore. "Less lonely, and maybe safer, and nicer to be together as a family."

"Nars," she adds, "You said it's three days to get … Papa … to the druids— do you think at least one or a few of them would come and meet us part way? Then he could get help much faster. Can you send Lagim to ask them? And is there anything else we need before we start our trip, mama? I'll go get it."

Re: More Family Matters by lorenalorena, 29 Jul 2007 16:34

Lome leaves Margim for a moment to peer out the front door into the dark, snowy street. The soft white blanket of winter has cast a muffled silence over the place. Little seems to be stirring at this hour. A dog barks in the distance, the blustry, almost bored bark of a dog with nothing to do but yell at passing bluejays. Tilting her good ear towards the barking, Lome could just make out that this was exactly what the dog was barking at. "Fly! Fly! I'll eat you if you land! Ha ha! Fly birdy!" She relaxed slightly, gazing down at the shuffling tracks, occasionally sprinkled with small drops of blood, that led to her door. The snow was already begining to cover them, and she uttered a silent prayer to Lystra that it would fall quickly and heavily, hiding Margim's trail.

Closing the door softly, she turned to Nars and Lore. "We need to tell Uncle Verbes and Roland and Auntie Gertie. I know it's late, but there's not much time. Lore, go to Verbes' house. Be careful not to be seen, I know you don't generally have a problem with that," she smiled. "Remember we don't know when… Dad… got these wounds, who gave them to him, or how far away they could be. Nars, can you send Lahim with a message to Roland and Gertie, and help me with Margim? I know we don't seem to be able to heal him, but at least we can keep trying with the bandages."

Under Lome's direction, she and Nars brought bedding and laid Margim on the floor of the pantry under the stairs. "Why here, mother?" Nars asked, putting another blanket over the father he didn't remember.

Lome smiles, "As your sister will tell you, armor isn't the only defense, and swords aren't the only weapon. Information can be just as important, both in protecting, and acting. He asked for our protection, and part of that is hiding him. If they manage to trace him here, I don't want him simply lying in the bed waiting for them." She dabs ineffectively at a wound with a steaming, sweet smelling cloth. "Where are these druids, Nars? What do you know about them?"

Re: More Family Matters by TreecatNTreecatN, 28 Jul 2007 17:52

"Find the druids - they will know how to heal me," Margim gasps as his eyes fall shut, and his body starts to collapse. Lome almost topples over as well as she reaches out and catches Margim - she had almost forgotten how heavy he was.

After gently setting him to the ground, she looked carefully at him. He was a mess, there was no doubt about it. Cuts littered his armor - well-crafted studded leather, but painted in dark greens and browns so that the razor-sharp points of the metal caught one off guard. As she began to remove the armor, she found many of the cuts continued right through into the skin - cuts that have only barely scabbed over, none of them healed. Some looked like slashes from a sword, while others arrow punctures or spear thrusts. It was surprising, in a way, that she could still hear faint breaths coming from him.

Underneath the armor lay a locket; inside a crude wooden carving of a humanoid figure, but Lome knew immediately what it meant to Margim. And her tears redoubled as she did what she could for Margim. She removed the beautiful bow - shorter than Roland's, but no less well-crafted - and sword from his back, and detached the many pouches attached to his belt, the many items from his bandoleer.

It was shortly after that Nars and Lore came down to help - Nars doing what he could to bandage the many wounds and help Margim into a more comfortable position; Lore helping to sort through the items and identify what she could. There was adventuring gear of all sorts, a plethora of items that would help in the forest, or in a fight, or after a fight.

But, all three Carvers quickly realized, aside from the locket, there was nothing personal on Margim's person. No journal or papers, no map, no hint of where he came from. Margim would have to survive, have to reawaken - and his wounds did not budge despite the magical curing both Lome and Nars desparately tried - in order for anyone to know Margim's story. Not, Lome realized, that even a story would help her family if Margim didn't make it.

"Well, at least that witch was wrong about one thing" Nars muttered, not intending to be heard but too angry to keep his voice down. "We do know where Margim is, and we do know how to save him. Three day's journey each way, though… we'll need to start soon."

Re: More Family Matters by K KelethorK Kelethor, 26 Jul 2007 07:30

[[To all in eager anticipation: You'll get a more full account of Margim's arrival tonight, with any luck. As you remember, it will result in trying to find the druids, so try to post enough this week that we're ready to adventure out to the forest come Sunday :)]]

Re: More Family Matters by K KelethorK Kelethor, 25 Jul 2007 20:37

Roland seems confused.
“Was it me, or did Analia mention she already had possession of the throne? What can we possibly do to stop her?”

Gertie shakes her head. “I can’t believe you. Already talking about going out and pursuing Analia and Oroh, who we’ve just learned are not only evil but very powerful? What are you thinking? They’ve left us alone, and all our little secrets are on the table, now. So we should at least catch our breath for a bit. Right now, it’s getting late, and we should be getting home.”

Roland strokes his bearded chin. Finally, he assents, and they start to help clear the table and get things cleaned up. “Tomorrow, we can figure out if there’s anything we should do. Meanwhile, good night, all.”

[…Later… enter Margim, stage left.]

Re: More Family Matters by RolandRoland, 25 Jul 2007 19:43

Gertie gives Roland a little kick under the table, and so he decides he may as well do a little explaining, himself. "Well, Verbes knows this already, but what Analia said was true. I am responsible for the death of another, though admittedly in self-defense. It was back in the alleys of New Perth, when we were looking for Analia, ironically."

"So you were attacked?"

"Yes, dear… They were simple muggers but I was not about to let them rob me of the money I needed to get home. Not amused that I would resist, they set on me, but I beat one back with something heavy I picked up off the ground – the rest fled, and when I knelt and examined the one I'd hit, I found I'd killed him."

"But why didn't you tell me! You untrustworthy piece of… aagg!" Gertie doesn't quite finish her sentence because she yells in frustration and puts a great effort into hurling her still-half-full mug at Roland's head. She misses his head, thankfully, but the cup smashes as it hits the wall behind him.

Gertie sighs. "Don't worry, I'll get that." She snaps her fingers and the cup pieces fly up to the table, and the puddle on the floor disappears. After looking at the pieces of cup for a second, she mutters a "hey presto" and it's all back together as if nothing had happened.

"Where were we? Oh, right, you were being an idiot," she directs at Roland.

"I was in shock, myself, remember," says he. "It sounds sort of clichéd but I didn't want you to be worried."

"Darn right it does. Next time, if somebody tries to kill you they'll have to go through me first." She exasperatedly appeals to Lome and Lore – "Men!"

Re: More Family Matters by RolandRoland, 25 Jul 2007 15:53

Verbes, who up to this point had been very quiet and withdrawn, looked up at Lome as she said this. "… Thank you, sister." He looked around. "And everyone."

He was quiet again for a moment.

"Who Oroh is, you've heard me say - at least the essentials. But you deserve to know the fuller version of it, and there are a few things I have not yet told.

"My father, Orron, was a simple man, devoted to his work, devoted to his family, devoted to Lystra. He did his job well and took pride in it. He was not a man of great brains or great valor but he had his quiet decency and that was enough for him. My mother, Lendra, was much the same. Simple. Common - in the best way. I have no idea how those two gave birth to Oroh and myself, but they did, and greater their sorrow for it.

"Oroh was born small, a scrawny child, but the first son. He was destined to inherit the family business, which had been passed down from father to son and was due to fall on his shoulders. Trouble was he was never all that talented. He could carve some, but flute-making takes a type of very close precision that he never had. His precision was of a different kind. My father carved flutes; my brother carved people. Oroh was weak in just about every way, but he could reach people, convince people… use people. My parents never fought normally, but he could pit them against one another when it would suit his interests. He could disarm bullies with his words, and young girls with his eyes. He was not strong or handsome, and he wasn't book-smart, but he had a cleverness and a force of personality that he could wield like a rapier. He also had a bit of a hand for sword-fighting, though manipulation remained his greatest strength.

"It didn't seem all that sinister. I think that's partly because he was so good at it. He managed always to come across as the innocent, victimized boy, even though he very rarely failed to get his way in the end. I suspected things, occasionally, and I think our parents did too. But he was my brother, their son. And he never did anything wrong, anything really bad, you know.

"In some ways he and I were opposite. I was never good with people the way he was; meanwhile I was budding as a scholar, and later a craftsman, in ways he never could have done. I alienated people, trying to bring out the best in them. He used people, and, in the process, made them love him. I hated my name. He loved his.

"We were alike in one thing, though: neither of us wanted to inherit Father's business. I enjoy carving flutes, and I'm a good deal better at it than Oroh ever was, but I have always wanted to be a scholar. A traveling scholar, a historian, venturing around Thrynn, digging up old clues, piecing together fragments of lost tales… not running a shop. And lucky me, I wouldn't be saddled with it! I was the younger. I had freedom that way. Oroh, meanwhile, was bad at the work and felt horribly limited by the prospect. Those who knew him could tell he wanted bigger things. He had even made a sort of special signature for himself - a pair of spirals and an inverted trident. Two "o"s, a backward "r", and an "h" - Oroh. I'm pretty certain it is tattooed on his right hand now, at least something rather like it.

"The story my family told after it happened, the story I stuck to, ran like this: a gang of petty thieves had broken into Father's shop as Oroh, newly apprenticed, was cleaning up for the night. He tried to fight them; he died.

"Obviously, that's not what actually happened. He was the one who led the thieves to the place. I'm not sure whether he was part of their gang already, or whether he offered the meager sum my father had saved up in exchange for their taking him out of Doerstadt. In any case, that's what happened: they left that night, and none of us saw him since, until today.

"My parents were devastated. Oroh was a frustrating, troublesome child sometimes, but they loved him. My mother died shortly; my father lasted several more years, long enough to train me up in Oroh's place; but the fight was out of him. His betrayal killed them, just not as quick or painless as if he'd used a knife. Killed me too, in a way. I had all my dreams laid out before me. I was going to see the world. I was going to read every book of history, every scrap of ancient document, every worn old inscription I could get my hands on. I was going to be somebody. Instead, I ended up in the shop. A good life, a quiet, peaceful life; not the life I had wanted. But I made my father a promise, and I took my dreams and set them on the shelf and learned how to carve a proper flute.

"Years later I met her. She seemed like a flighty, maddening, foolish, obnoxiously popular sort of girl at first, but she had dreams too - the kind of dreams I had, different in kind, maybe, but not in scope. We realized we could share those. We got past the personality differences, we fell in love, we married.

"But I had promised my father. And as I watched… that is to say, as I thought about it, I realized that settling down, having children, having a life together, might not be so bad. It would mean deferring our dreams, but those could wait. She didn't see it that way. She didn't want a family, she didn't care about the promise I had made, she wanted to go. And Cor came along and gave her the chance. And I know I shouldn't go down this road, but I can't… I can't help but think that if Oroh had stayed and lived the life he was supposed to live, run the shop himself, I could have gone with her. She would not have had to leave, because I would have been right by her side along the way, and instead of seeing Thrynn with him, she would have seen it with me."

He paused, swallowed a breath, and continued.

"We went to New Perth - Roland and I - to look for her. This you know. Cor had a wife there - to whom we should probably send a letter; even if her husband was a filthy cheat she still ought to know he's dead. But she couldn't tell us anything. When we were about to leave… well, that's Roland's story to tell. Suffice to say that I saw a man, a tattooed man, and on his face amid marks of the cult of Mor'thos was the signature mark of my brother.

"And so, as Roland was occupied for the next few days, I kept my ear to the ground. And I began to hear tales of a dreaded crime lord, a subtle man, who was rising to power within what had once been a petty smuggling ring and now was coming to have great sway in New Perth. He was called Oroh - Death - which everyone assumed was an ominous nickname, but I knew better. He always was good at manipulating people, and it seemed he had manipulated his way to a great deal of illicit power. The people of New Perth lived in fear of this criminal mastermind, who terminated his rivals and opponents ruthlessly, never getting the blood on his own hands, and who had a few golds in the pocket of every magistrate in the city. He could not be touched.

"Needless to say, I wanted to get Roland and myself out of there. We left soon. I… should have told you all. You at least, Roland. But I suppose I hoped that if I said nothing, it would never come back to haunt us.

"A few months later, I received a message from him. Or rather, Father did, had he still been alive. Oroh mentioned that he had heard I was in New Perth. He sent his regards, along with a reimbursement of all the money he had stolen, as he hated to be in anyone's debt. So he said anyway. I really have no idea why he actually sent the note.

"Whatever his reason, it terrified me. My brother, a crime lord, and he knew I had been in his city. I had no idea how he felt toward me. What if he decided to come after me - or my family? What if his rivals found out he had family and tried to use me - or you! - to get to him?

"I resolved never to go back to New Perth. You may have noticed I was agitated when we learned of Kersey's death; that's chiefly because I feared the funeral would be held there. And for good measure, with Oroh's money, I bought a sword and learned to use it, and made full sure my niece could use one too. The last thing I wanted was for the sins of my brother to come down upon my family. Already, my presence in the family was the reason your daughter, your sister, your aunt left. And my presence connected you to a ruthless and amoral crime lord.

"And now, because of me, you've all become embroiled in this terrible mess; a mess that could lead to unthinkable sorrow for us all, if the fates do not favor us. Even now, I cannot imagine how we could defeat them. Oroh is… so much, so vastly much better with a weapon than he ever was before. And Analia - I knew she was interested in magic, but I had no idea…

"Oroh took everything from me - my parents, my dreams, my wife. And now that I have managed to find something new, a new family, he is threatening you too. I apologize for acting so hastily, and almost getting myself and all of you killed. It was rash, foolhardy. I should never have done it - but I hope you can, at least, understand why I did. In the future, I will try to do better about working with you as a team. I know that I can't single-handedly fight off all comers. I know that I can't take every blow that's intended for any one of you. I know that putting myself in such inordinate risk does nothing, ultimately, to keep the rest of you safe. I'll do better from here on out.

"But know this: with my wife now gone for ever, you all, the lot of you are all of who I am. And though it is not my fault, really, the fact is that my presence in this family has brought a curse down upon your heads. And if, with my life or my death, I can do anything to protect you, to keep you from being destroyed by my curse, I have no higher ambition. If it should come to the worst… if one of us has to end up dead… then it should be me. I want it to be me.

"But I mean to survive this. I mean for us all to survive this, and to bring both of them to justice, and then live the rest of our lives in peace. I hope, and I pray, and I believe, that this is possible."

He realized that he was standing, felt a bit foolish, and sat back down. He glanced over at Roland, prompting with his eyes to tell his own part of the tale.

Re: More Family Matters by stod_muffinstod_muffin, 25 Jul 2007 07:20

That evening a rather somber group gathers around the Kelethor table. Lome sets out a pot of tea – lavender mixed with chamomile and a few other things just beyond recognition. As the calming aromas fill the room, she takes a seat and looks slowly from one downcast face to the next.

“I know it’s been a difficult day,” Lome says slowly, “Our trust has been betrayed. We have lost a sister…an aunt…a daughter… a wife… and we have lost her more completely and tragically than had any natural death taken her from us. However, we cannot be idle in our grief. She is not dead, but most horribly alive, and most horribly still our sister, and our responsibility. For our own sakes and for our duty to the rest of Thrynn we must stop her somehow.” She pauses, letting her words sink in.

She claims to have intimate knowledge of all our deepest, darkest secrets. While that may be an empty boast, we cannot risk her knowing what we do not. We must trust one another more than we have up to this point.” Lome sighs heavily and gazes deep into her mug, gripping in with slender fingers. Her knuckles are white. “She says she knows where Margim is. Then she knows more than I do… but what I know, I will tell you now.

“Before Margim… went away… I could tell he was getting restless. Something was worrying him, and that worried me. What worried me more was that he would not tell me anything. One evening at the end of our usual walk, he stopped, just as we were nearing the house, and told me to go on without him. He said he had something to do before going home.” Lome continues on, her voice unwavering, eyes staring into her tea as though watching the scene unfold as it has, unseen, countless times in her memory.

“I begged him to tell me what was wrong, where he was going, but he refused. He even became angry. Then, quite suddenly, he reached down and hugged me, turned around, and stormed off. I was stunned, but as he rounded the bend in the road I made up my mind to follow him. He went by a very direct route to the bridge just north of the slums – a bad part of town, as you know. There he waited. After a while, several men appeared out of the surrounding streets and alleys. They walked toward him until they were surrounding him – like some sort of tribunal. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but I could see that they were very similar to Margim. As you may remember,” she nods to Verbes, Roland and Gantt, “he is a rather unusual looking man… you might almost say there was a family resemblance between him and these others. They seemed to be arguing, and were almost shouting, but even so I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. They were talking so fast and I was never quite fluent enough…” She stops, catching herself. “I wasn’t fluent enough in Orcish to tell what they were saying, though I know that’s what language it was.”

“In any case, Margim turned as if to leave, and one of them hit him on the back of the neck. I snapped. I think I rushed at them, I remember feeling several noses crunch under my fists, but stronger blows came down on me from all around… and the next thing I knew I was dangling out over the water with a rough hand around my neck. I think Margim had called out, but I couldn’t see or hear very well… everything seemed so loud in my left ear…” She unconsciously lifts her hand to tap her left temple. Noticing it there, her lip curls in a weakly ironic smile as she snaps her fingers by her long, delicately pointed ear. “And now it is so quiet.” She shakes herself slightly and resumes her story.

“A couple of them walked away with Margim. I saw him look back at me one last time, and could see that it meant “Goodbye”. Then I felt myself being lowered slightly, and something foul breathed in my face. I think my eyes must have been watering, or maybe it was just swelling, but I couldn’t see very well. I heard through the ringing a very gravelly voice. I remember to this day what it said: ‘He values you more than you deserve, half-breed!… I'm afraid we cannot let you go, though. You are a feisty one… Yes, I see the hate in your high-and-mighty eyes! This puppy must be drowned.”

“I felt myself falling. I wasn’t sure if I was actually falling or just numb to it all until I hit the cold wall of water and sank into the dark. I thought I was dying, but I didn’t particularly care… it was almost peaceful.”

“When I opened my eyes the moon was shining down on me. I was surprised that I had opened my eyes, and for an instant wondered if perhaps I wasn’t dead anyway, staring up at the night sky. But I could see the branches of the tall willow behind me and I could feel the river lapping at my legs. It took me a few moments to realize that the river had carried me to the temple of Lystra. I silently thanked the goddess, and lay there a while longer in the sweet starlight. When the moon was gone, I washed off a bit, and came home. Do you remember that night, Lore? I didn’t want to alarm you. I knew it would be hard enough.” She takes a deep breath.

“That is all I know. It is a large part of why I’ve always encouraged Lore and Nars to learn to fight… to defend themselves should anyone realize that I survived or that Margim’s children still lived and take offense at it. That, and I know Margim would have enjoyed teaching them, as he taught me. This is also the reason… I don’t go anywhere unprepared.” At this, she pulls the collar of her simple linen shirt down a bit to reveal the glittering collar of a finely crafted chain shirt. With a fluid movement, her hand continues down to her calf, and with barely a rustling of skirts a dagger is in her hand. Laying it on the table she reaches up as though to scratch her back, but when she lowers her arm again, the short sword taken from the ninja assailant in Kersey’s house is in her hand. It seems she holds it with far more surety and balance than when she first picked it up. She replaces the blades, and falls silent.

She takes a swig of the tea before her, setting it down definitively on the table.

“It has been a difficult day indeed,” she intones softly, unblinking eyes coming to rest on Verbes. Placing a hand gently on his shoulder, in a low and urgent voice she says, “Verbes… Know this – whatever the papers say, you are more a part of this family than she, and more a brother to us than she could be called our sister. Please, Verbes, tell us who this man is, and why he wishes to hurt you so.”

Family Meeting by TreecatNTreecatN, 24 Jul 2007 00:22

Verbes, upon getting up, you first notice the dagger… and the papers attached by string around its handle. You open them with trepidation; but perhaps they help more than hurt. They are divorce and marriage papers - a certificate of divorce for Analia Kelethor Verbes from Ae'Ven Verbes, and a certificate of marriage for Lumiel Revellach and Analia Kelethor Revellach, both signed by the notary and judge of New Perth. Beneath them is a note:

"This, at least, should make you happy if you still love me, right? Because you would want me to be happy? Aren't you glad for me since I've discovered the throne, and found such an excellent husband? Aren't you glad that I'm following what I wanted to in my life?

At least you know what hell I was driven into since I was forced to leave you, and travelled with Cor, that idiot, and then left him, and was alone and miserable and without anything. And at least you know that there's been one good person in my life who has been kind to me - aren't you glad your family has been so helpful, Ae'Ven?

You know, originally I found the throne so that I would live long enough that I wouldn't mind living a life with you, and then exploring after that. So that I could finally have that child I almost had years ago with you. But I'm glad that once I found the throne, I realized that wasn't what I really wanted. No, even given an eternity, I could never stand the thought of spending a lifetime with you. And while I've hated myself for it, at least I know it was the right choice.

Goodbye, Verbes. May your soul be tormented for what you've been responsible for me becoming."

Verbes, thoughts flood through your mind after reading through this. But at some point during the day, you do bring yourself to go back through Kersey's books. One passage stands out to you clearly, even though it seemed myth at the time…
"The throne is powerful, almost intelligent in what it can do, but without its own desires. It brings your desires, whether prominent or lingering in the back of your mind, and feeds on them. It will make one spark of anger grow into a lust for violence; one injustice seem to be the crux of the world. And most importantly, the throne fits the desires of a ruler very well. There is no compromising on a lust for power; no end to someone's quest for authority after they start drawing power from the throne (or the throne starts drawing power from you), as long as you bring it a little seed of desire for control."

Re: More Family Matters by K KelethorK Kelethor, 23 Jul 2007 03:47

Lore is an emotional dervish. That evening (after the duel, before the pounding on the door), she is heartbroken for her Uncle Verbes, and so once he is conscious and inside again, she hugs him, sits by him, holds his hand and strokes his hair in the evening while the family talks. She hints once or twice that she would like to know about her uncles' adventures looking for Analia, and the reference to Roland's having killed somone. [Insert discussion this evening as the rest of you wish.] When everyone is walking home, she heads out with her uncles and ends up at a new grave at the cemetery by herself.

"I'm sorry, Cor. I really was beginning to believe you, and I tried. I tried to be able to talk to you apart from Analia. I tried to stop her from harming you. I tried to stop her from controlling Uncle Verbes. I didn't want you to die. And now, I don't think I can want her to die, either, because that would be just like what she did to you, and I don't want to be like her. I don't even want to be related to her. I thought she might still be that joyous being Uncle described, but she wasn't. And Analia was wrong about me— she doesn't know any dark secrets about my life. She couldn't, because she was never there and never cared, never knew me, and because my life is my own. My past is my own, and what I am content to have done is not so dark."
"I'm very sorry. And I just don't know what to do— how can I fight two people who are so much better at fighting than me— they could hurt me more than I could ever hurt them. How can I try to stop them when they can just disappear from the middle of a battle and come back later, looking fresh and well? What can I do? I want Thrynn to be happy; I don't want there to be so much suffering, and I don't know how to stop them without becoming more like them. I am like Elena from long ago, but not so good and brave and beautiful as her, because she stopped fighting, and I want so much to stop them and stop the suffering that I am willing to fight for it."
"I may even die; I won't throw my life away, but I promise I will try to help you. I will find out the truth about your life and theirs. And if Analia is as she showed herself today, I will cut off her hands till she can cast no more spells, cut out her tongue so she cannot beguile, shear her hair until she is as ugly and pitiful outside as inside. Do you hear me, gods of Thrynn, or stars if there are no gods!? This is my vow— not to their death, unless it be unavoidable, but to their pain! May they wallow in freakish misery forever if that is the shape of their souls, and if not by my hand, by
any, so long as they may be seen truly and Thrynn flourish."

Later that night, there is a loud knock at the door. Lore hears a voice from her childhood outside, checks her brother's room and together they run down the stairs to see their long-lost father.

[My thanks to Princess Bride for a few ideas.]

Lore again by lorenalorena, 23 Jul 2007 01:14

Lore feels a bit reassured by her brother and uncle. She begins to wonder more about her Aunt Analia; she is certainly open to being suspicious, like her mother. "Why don't you trust her yet, Mama? What isn't right?"

In fact, all-in-all, she considers that this might be a good night for a bit of sneaking. She hasn't been over her old haunts in quite a while. And then, perhaps if she tries very hard, she can find Aunt Analia alone in the morning before Uncle Verbes is up and talk to her then.

[N.B. Peter, we should try to figure out if Lore can see/find anything interesting during the night and how she finds Analia in the morning]

Re: More Family Matters by lorenalorena, 21 Jul 2007 00:02

As Roland, Gertie, and Dog are leaving for the night, Roland gives Lore a hug and says, "I overheard a little of your conversation with Nars, and thought I'd add my encouragement. You may not have noticed, but I've also been observing you for a while to try to learn what it is you do that makes you so good at hiding and moving quietly. I admire it, and I think that even what little I've learned so far will help me if we have to fight anything again."

He smiles.

Gertie adds, "It is quite a thing if you've managed to teach this 'old dog' Uncle Roland a new trick or two. You definitely are very special. And even if you couldn't hide well, you'd still be very much worth seeing, and as it is, people see you less than they'd like, I'm sure.

"Have a good night, all!"

Re: More Family Matters by RolandRoland, 20 Jul 2007 14:56

Verbes and Analia walked back in silence, oblivious to the watching figures. The snow crunched and the wind dusted them lightly with flakes. Not quite sure what to say to his wife, he said nothing. He even managed to stop himself stealing sidelong glances at her, though that took a serious amount of willpower. He knew her cheeks would be flushed against the cold, her eyes bright with misty light, and her hair just disheveled enough to look candid and charming. He kept his eyes firmly on the road. Finally they arrived back at the house. He opened the door and ushered her in.

"It hasn't changed a day."

"Life is slow around here."

"I remember. Oh, this flute is new! It's very pretty. You're getting quite good. I mean, you were quite good before, but this is the nicest of your work I think I've ever seen."

He laughed. "Don't speak too soon. It can't carry a tune at all. That's why I have it on my wall; if it actually played worth anything I would have sold it."

An awkward silence followed. Verbes began to straighten up the room ineffectually.

"Well, you'll be wanting to get some sleep."

"Yes, I'll… yes, I'll need to sleep. Somehow."

"Well, I put clean sheets on the bed before I left. So make yourself comfortable and let me know if you need anything." He began to walk off, but heard her shift slightly and clear her throat. He turned back. She had brought her long hair around over her shoulder and was brushing it idly with her hands. She had a slight smile on her lips, and she was not facing him quite head on. It was almost… shy. A very odd look for Analia, but not unpleasant. To the contrary. She was, at the moment, rather too pretty to be allowed.

"Where… are you…" she began, her eyes more questioning than her voice.

"I still have the old cot in the shed. I'll bring it in the main room here."

"If one of us has to sleep on an old cot, I suppose it should be me."

"Not under my roof, it won't."

With that he walked out the door. His heart was thumping lopsidedly but his stride was calm and he thought he was doing a good job of being collected and matter-of-fact about the whole thing. It was the first night back in Doerstadt, after all; and here they were, both back under the same roof. Not the same bed or even the same room - but even so. A part of him rather wished that she had stayed at the Kelethor house, for that night at least.

A part of him was very glad she had not.

He returned with the cot and began to set it up. She was still up and peeked out, now combing her beautiful hair, smiling a bit more normally.

"Yes?" he said quietly.

"It's good to see everyone again. It's… good to see you again, Ae'Ven."

"Good night, Analia."

"Good night." She smiled again and went back into his room, closing the door. He shuffled off his new chain shirt, unbuckled various bits and pieces of equipment, and settled down in the old cot, still in his adventuring clothes. As he closed his eyes, he became very dizzy and felt he was about to fall. His head and heart continued to spin on; but he was tired enough that he managed to calm himself before long. Verbes pulled his winter cloak over himself and fell quickly asleep.

Re: More Family Matters by stod_muffinstod_muffin, 20 Jul 2007 06:28

Nars walks up to Lome. "I'm not sure I trust Aunt Analia either, mother… she's very strange, and why would anyone want to leave our family like that…
"No, I'm sorry, you probably miss Father very much right now. I miss him too. But I bet that he wants to come back here more than Aunt Analia did, and I bet he has a better reason for being gone. Father wouldn't do anything less for us."

Nars thinks for a second, saddened, and realizing the complex situation he walked into. "Well, I trust you and Uncle will figure out what to do about all of this. Maybe I'll go find my sister… I haven't seen her, but I doubt she's far."

Finally, when Lore spots him, he attempts to make conversation once more. "I'm sure Uncle Verbes will still care about you, sister. We all care about you - you're the best person at hiding ever! I wish I could sneak around like you could!"

Re: More Family Matters by GeserilesGeseriles, 20 Jul 2007 05:13

"Verbes, it's getting late and I'm still overly tired… shall we head back to our…your house?" Analia speaks up from the other room. Although the snow is coming down outside, it is still quite passable to get home. Hard to say what it might look like in the morning, however. And so, Verbes nods to the others, gets up, and escorts Analia off. The Kelethors watch, from one direction or another, this strange addition - return? - to the family.

Outside, two people finally reached the house. Two people unaware of each other, while Verbes, Analia, and all those inside remained unaware of them as well. One of them looked at the back of Analia, the beautiful woman who had left him. Looked, and hated. Looked, hated, thought, and promptly turned and walked back to his room for the night. There was more thinking to be done, perhaps. Something to do before the all-too-necessary action.

Re: More Family Matters by K KelethorK Kelethor, 20 Jul 2007 05:08

Scene: The Kelethor Kitchen, Doerstadt.

Lome, Verbes, and Roland conversing softly around a table…

Roland starts, indeed, when Lome voices her suspicion of Analia's silence. He shifts a little in his seat and, holding his mug with both hands, stares into the bottom, as if finding something very interesting about it.

Roland and Analia didn't always get along, growing up, but Roland is still very attached to his little sister. Her disappearance always confused him and weighed on him heavily, but you get the sense that, now that's she's returned, much of that has been forgotten, and impugning Analia's story had not really occurred to him.

He sighs resignedly, but otherwise doesn't break the silence around the table. Roland rolls his mug back and forth in his hands, and absentmindedly sips from it despite having polished it off a few minutes ago.

Re: More Family Matters by RolandRoland, 20 Jul 2007 00:11
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