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Everything posted by PhilDaBurn

  1. Invasionmeter

    I read the book, got the ingredients together and made one successfully. Oy was I disappointed when the item turned out to be the book I had just read. Don't know if that's a bug or not, but mixing those ingredients yields the book.
  2. RunTime The Swift

    RunTime, This is a much better version from what I read before. Congrats. To increase the reader's interest, I would not use RunTime's name until Laura recognizes him. "...the local tavern. The tarven was a place from his past..." I would suggest you change this to "...the local tavern, a place from his past..." It avoids the repetitive use of "tavern" and the 2nd one was spelled wrong. When you say, "She let the smile fade off her face ..." it implies that the act was on purpose - controlled - and could lead the reader to assume deception. If you change it to "The smile faded from her face ..." it feels more honest. "she told him in a quite voice" change "quite" to "quiet". "...RunTime threatened rising his fist even with the storage keeper's head." change "rising" to "raising". "...four letters on it 'KOTR' to RunTimes face." change "RunTimes" to "RunTime's". "He knew this was no idle threat, and reached his hand behind him and pulled out a box, and held it before RunTime. RunTime grabbed it with his free hand and let the storage keeper go. He crashed to the floor and RunTime turned and ran out of the storage." There are a lot of "and"s in this. Can you rewrite this with fewer of them? "He ran with all his strength through Emerald Valley's forest towards KOTR's secret guild hall entrance deep in the heart of Emerald Valleys forest." Only use "through Emerald Valley's forest" once. I would take out the first one and add the apostrophe to the second one. "RunTime fell to his knees. "How could I have left and let this happen? If only I had been here. I could have changed how things turned out." " Would he really say this aloud? or would this be what he was thinking? If he was thinking this, I would remove the quotation markes and change the font to make it italics, then add something like this: How could I have left and let this happen? he thought to himself. If only I had been here, I could have changed how things turned out. "We heard you where back," Llynara said. Change "where" to "were". I like the cliff-hanger at the end.
  3. #sto bug

    I have experienced the same thing. While harvesting, if I submit the #sto command, harvesting stops when the storage window is opened.
  4. Signature & Avatar Sets

    Saint, I really like the work I see you doing and the more recent stuff is great - so great, I'm willing to spend 6k gc for a set. Name: PhilDaBurn Picture and Color is up to you, but I favor Blue. Text: if you can put an *R* in there somewhere, that's the tag for the Rangers of the North guild. Capitalization on the name is important to me - it's how I always log in and helps people see the humor in the name I chose. Fyi, some people in my guild call me Dr Phil. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Feel free to pm me in-game if you need anything else. Thanks, Phil...
  5. Dark Blue

    Maryn, I think you've got a very nice beginning to a much longer story. You've raised questions in this reader's mind: what is the pain going to do to her? will she see her father again? will she tell her mother about the encounter at some point? what is her connection to the wolves? what are these unknown words she used to calm them? when will her mother confront her about them? when/how did she learn them? what was her life like growing up? were there ever any questions about where her father might be? was she ever teased by other children about her ears? were other children guarded as closely as she? In Part 2, you have 2 consecutive paragraphs that begin with "As the dust seemed to settle,..." The second version is just a little bit longer and is the one I suggest you keep. Personally, I'd like to read more. Thanks for posting... Phil...
  6. Crashes on Windows Vista

    I originally had problems with programs not running on VISTA as well until I found that just prior to installing an existing program, if I right click on the installation exe file, I can tell VISTA that I want to run the program as if I had XP. (I believe it is in a "Compatability" tab in the pop up window that appears when you right-click on a file.)
  7. The Sea King's Treasure

    Very nice job, Peino. Your story flows as smoothly as The Wolf on gentle seas. Out of curiosity, how long have you been working on it? Phil...
  8. Vlasian

    Prologue The port city of Melinis lay still in the dead of night. Thin sheets of rain drizzled down and everything in the city dripped glistening silver droplets. Smoke from a forest fire in Sedicolis smothered the city. As the clouds shifted, the moon Kaifhi came out and hung blood red over the city. The other smaller moon, Macuma, hung not as full near its partner. As the red light fell over the city, the drops of silvery rain were turned to what resembled drops of blood. The few plants that tried to grow in the choked dust welcomed the rare bit of water. Magic supported them when water was scarce, but it was not always enough. Nearly all the lights in the city were out. People viewed the Kaifhial eclipse and the moon’s red tinge as an omen of bloodshed and violence. Curtains were drawn and crying babies were hushed. The murky waters of the port slapped quietly at the docks as the only person who was outside in the city walked across the boardwalk. He was a quiet figure who seemed perfectly at home in the dark night. Slowly he walked along; his damp cloak clung to him as he walked toward the nearest row of houses. He stood outside quietly for a moment then climbed the steps and knocked on the door. The lights inside the house were dark and there was no one else around outside. A small old woman cracked open the door and looked out. She saw no one on the doorstep. Puzzled, she opened the door wider. About to give up and go back to bed, she noticed the edge of a black cloak flutter around the corner at the end of the street. She hesitated for a moment and looked back into her house. Only the sounds of breathing came from her daughter’s bedroom. Curious, the woman wrapped her cloak around her shoulders and hustled down the street. There was no sign of anyone there. Worried now, she turned around quickly in the darkness. There wasn’t a soul on the street. She took a step back toward her house when she heard a muffled groan. The sound came from one of the houses. The woman’s instincts as a healer kicked in and she peered into the window of the house she thought the noise had come from. A lamp flickered in the back room and she could just make out a figure lying in a bed. The woman knocked on the door. No response came so she cautiously opened the door and stepped into the house. A young woman lay on the bed in the back room, her stomach swollen with pregnancy. “Dear me, are you ok child?” the woman asked. The younger woman blinked and looked at the older. “Help me,” she gasped. “I think my child is coming.” “Well it most certainly is.” The old woman then bustled about the house doing everything she could to help the young woman. Outside, the quiet darkly-clothed figure watched. Soon he heard the cry of a newly born child and smiled wickedly. “Name him Vlasian,” the mother gasped, “after his father.” “Calm yourself dear, you will be perfectly fine and we can name the child in due time,” the old healer stated. The figure outside watched stoically as the young woman took one last grueling breath and collapsed onto her bed. The old woman stared shocked as she clutched the newly born babe to her chest. “May the blood red moon curse your birth,” the figure whispered. “I will seek you again, Vlasian, when I am ready.” The dark figure then vanished from the cold wet streets and the old woman was left alone with the babe. Melinis did not stir until hours later when the first rays of the sun broke through the smokey rain. The city would soon learn of what had happened in the night, of the death in the young woman’s house, and of the birth, which the city would come to speak of in whispers. From that year onward and every year since, on the third day of Mortia, the shutters were closed, the curtains were pulled, and the lamps put out. For on the third day of Mortia, the god of vice walked the streets of Melinis. Part 1 Ten years passed and the little boy born on the third day of Mortia grew into a healthy child. He learned to read and write from the old woman who had helped deliver him. To the citizens of Port Melinis who pitied his lack of parents, he was a polite child. But his guardian, the old woman, knew otherwise. Vlasian, for she had indeed named him that, was anything but polite in reality. He was cold hearted and cruel. He hated both the woman and her grown daughter. Vlasian didn’t like to be loved and cared for; he despised the world with a passion for not letting him have his mother and father as he wanted. At first, this hatred was born of a loving desire for real parents. But as he let it fester and listened to the evil voices that whispered in his dreams, all love was forgotten. He yelled and fought with the woman every day demanding that things be done his way; demanding that he get this, or eat that, or that a certain person leave the house. What the woman refused to give him, he stole. The woman had chosen to keep Vlasian however. Her kind healer's heart had led her to pity the boy. Even when she began to discover Vlasian's true ways she still attempted to be kind to him. She thought his actions just those of a lonely child and tried to give him a happy home. Thievery became a talent for Vlasian from the day he took the woman’s purse when he was six. After that he discovered how easy it was to take things from people. His conscience had long since been smothered in a blanket of abhorrence and greed and he took freely whatever he wanted. By the time he turned sixteen, Vlasian was well known in the crime circles of Melinis and even respected, despite his age. He often led a group of boys in lucrative exploits. Sometimes they were successful; sometimes the others were caught while Vlasian mysteriously vanished. The boys were always too terrified to turn Vlasian in. Rumors swept quickly through the circles of crime and many of them were true. These stories terrified many criminals and all were afraid to report Vlasian. The woman’s daughter had died on the third of Mortia, Vlasian’s sixteenth birthday. A mysterious sickness came upon her, in truth it was poison inflicted by Vlasian. Every year from then on, some horrible event would strike the city that night. In Vlasian’s seventeenth year, a building burned down in the southern part of the city. In his eighteenth year, a trade ship at dock in the port was robbed and ransacked. On his nineteenth birthday, the mayor of the city was found dead in his bed. Few knew he had been in an argument with Vlasian a week before. Vlasian’s twentieth birthday marked the drowning of the old woman. He hadn’t lived with her since the incident with her daughter, which she had never reported as she hoped Vlasian would change his ways and because she was afraid. She was afraid of what Vlasian would do and knew that if she reported her daughter's death as Vlasian's fault more deaths would follow. And so it was that by the age of twenty-three, Vlasian was the proverbial ruler of the Melinis criminal underground. As he had aged, he had developed skills beyond those of thievery and murder. He learned to listen for what others never heard: to go unnoticed in open areas, simple tricks of posture and clothing to make himself seem older, or shorter, or anything that suited him. Vlasian fancied he would find himself a special present for his twenty-fifth birthday and in the early morning hours of the fourth day of Mortia, word reached Melinis of a horrible theft. An ancient gemstone, the pride and joy of Sedicolis, was missing. The gem was known as The Tear of Sedicolis for its teardrop shape and blue tinge. Few knew exactly what powers it possessed, but it was said to give the owner strange abilities. No bigger than a small pebble, the teardrop rock could make the owner fade into the shadows unseen. It could make the owner not just appear older or younger than they were, but to actually be younger or older. Deep within the reaches of the cave of merciful tears, the stone had lain guarded by Sedicolis’s best, yet somehow it had disappeared during the night on the third of Mortia. Such wondrous talents Vlasian longed for and such things he received. The same day word reached Melinis of the missing stone, the underworld of the city beheld a blue stone teardrop hanging about their leader’s neck. By this time, there were no illusions as to Vlasian’s true nature, but no cold hard proof could ever be found to bring the man to justice and no thug would ever admit to having dealings with Vlasian. To the people of the city, his name was one to be frowned upon. To the underworld, it was one to be whispered in awe, or more likely not uttered at all. And as Vlasian’s twenty-sixth birthday drew ever nearer, whispered speculations came of what horrible thing might happen on the third of Mortia. For the most part, each year it had been progressively worse. "What," asked the people, "could be worse than what has already befallen us?" Vlasian knew what would happen this year, however. Rumors had reached his ears; rumors of an ancient tome. A book which told of magical things lost to the world; of artifacts so old, only the gods knew their true origins. And contained in this book, it was said, was the secret to the true nature of The Tear of Sedicolis. Vlasian resolved he must have that book and that he would steal it. The ancient book, The Voice of Palon, was kept somewhere in the region of Palon Vertas. A compilation of the works of the region's ancient wizards, it was said to be kept in a secret library, the Library of the Ancients. * * * * * * * * Vlasian seated himself in the darkest corner of the tavern he could find, he was running out of time. Night was falling on the third of Mortia and he had yet to find the location of the book. For two weeks he had been trying to inquire about the location of the Library of the Ancients, but no one knew anything, to his dismay. Now, here he was with only hours until the end of his time window, he would have to pull some other stunt, but he wanted that book! As he stared around and brooded, an odd man walked into the tavern. Vlasian couldn’t put a finger on what was odd about this man and even when he looked back on that day, he didn’t know why he picked him out. Yet this man somehow caught Vlasian’s attention and Vlasian knew this man held the answers to his questions. How he knew this puzzled him for many years until he finally resolved it had been some hint from the gods. With a slight movement, Vlasian turned so he could better watch the man as he seated himself at the bar. In the course of half an hour, the man consumed an unhealthy amount of drinks. Casually, Vlasian walked over to the bar and seated himself next to the man. “Hello there, good sir. May I take a seat here?” Vlasian asked politely. “Sure! Sure, have a seat,” the man smiled. There was a slight pause as Vlasian ordered another drink, the bartender set it before him, but Vlasian didn’t drink. “Fine sir, I couldn’t help but notice an esteemed individual such as yourself from the moment you entered the tavern. I thought perhaps that you might be able to help me.” Vlasian poured every ounce of flattery he knew into this words. The man believed every bit of it and sat up slightly straighter, happy with himself. “Esteemed individual huh? Well, what did you think I could help you with?” the man asked. “It's information I seek, mostly, and you definitely seem the type that knows many things. I’m a stranger to this region, you see, and am curious to see the sights.” “Well, what sort of sights were you seeking?” The man gulped down another drink and ordered more. “I’ve heard rumors of a famous library somewhere here. Oh, what was it called?” Vlasian paused and pretended to think. “Library of old? Or something like that.” “The Library of the Ancients?” the man asked surprised. “Oh yes! That was it! I heard it has volumes with all sorts of wonderful information.” “Well you definitely asked the right man! I work at the library! Most folks deny it exists, but it does. I’m a guard there.” “Oh, of course! Such a man like yourself, definitely a guard!” “That’s no place for you to be going, though. The library is strictly off limits to all except a favored few.” “Oh? Too bad, it’s a pity. I really had hoped I could at least see it.” As Vlasian feigned disappointment he motioned to the bartender and requested another drink for the man. “You know,” the man began. “I could tell you where the library is if you’re that curious. Just to look at the outside, no way I could get you in.” “You could?” Vlasian’s eyes danced with excitement. All he needed was the location and he could find a way in. “Yeah, I’ve got a map of Palon Vertas. I can point it out to you.” The man pulled a wrinkled map from his pocket and smoothed it out on the bar. “I keep it with me mostly for the city map. I don’t leave the library much and tend to lose my way around town.” Vlasian could barely contain his excitement as the man quickly pointed precisely to where the library was located on the map. “Sir, I’m afraid I was never informed of your name,” Vlasian said sadly. “The name’s Trillin,” the man replied with an obnoxious yawn. “Thank you, Trillin, for all your help.” Vlasian excused himself from the bar, telling the man he must retire and would surely investigate the library in the morning. The man nodded groggily and bade Vlasian farewell. To all appearances, Vlasian then went upstairs to a room he was staying in and went to sleep for the evening. No one noticed the dark figure drop from his window and enter the backdoor of the tavern. Rummaging through the owner’s desk, he searched for a list of who was currently staying at the tavern. He listened intently for sounds of any approach, but the bartender and owner did not retreat to his office behind the bar, he was otherwise occupied. Soon Vlasian found what he was looking for, a book containing records of who had stayed at the tavern and when. Flipping to the last page, he quickly read over the contents. It listed himself under an alias, a woman’s name, and a third name, Trillin Retafar, who was listed as staying in the room across from Vlasian. Happy to have had a stroke of luck at last, Vlasian carefully returned the log to its drawer and made sure everything was as it had been when he arrived. Satisfied, Vlasian crept out the office’s back door into the night again. Climbing a tree that grew close to the tavern, he returned back through the window and into his room. The minutes passed slowly as Vlasian waited impatiently in his room. He didn’t have to wait too long, though, for about twenty minutes after he had returned to his lodgings, he heard what he wanted. The bartender was escorting a very drunken Trillin up the stairs. Vlasian pressed his ear against his door to hear what was said in the hall. “No, I’m fine! Fine!” Trillin's speech was slurred and slow. “You just need a little bit of a break sir, then perhaps you can return downstairs,” the bartender said wearily. “Nuhuh, I’m fine, just one more drink.” Vlasian heard the door across the hall squeak open then slam closed a few moments later. The bartender’s footsteps faded away as he returned to the main room of the tavern. Several more minutes ticked by as Vlasian waited to be sure the bartender would not return. When the sounds of loud snores came from across the hall Vlasian finally decided it was safe. He had packed his things while he waited and sat by the door with his pack on his back and his assortment of knives hidden beneath his clothes. Jumping lightly to his feet, he opened his door without a sound. Checking that no one was in the hallway, he tried the knob on the door opposite his. Thankfully it was unlocked. Slowly he pushed the door open and padded in. Trillin snored loudly on his bed. He lay atop the sheets still fully clothed. Vlasian picked through the man’s belongings searching for anything of interest. Finding nothing, he watched the sleeping man. What else might he keep in his pocket with that map, keys to the library perhaps? Vlasian contemplated his options as he stood there. About to come to a decision, Trillin rolled over and fell from his bed. Grunting, the man sat up quickly, blinking stupidly. “Huh? How’d I get here? And what are you doing in my room?” he asked groggily. Before Trillin could even move or say anything else, Vlasian attacked him. There was no fight, only a quick, silent death for Trillin. Stooping over the body, Vlasian fished into the man’s pockets and located the map, and, to his delight, a key. Straightening, Vlasian looked at the map again. If he rode swiftly, he could reach the library before midnight, thus completing his mission in time. Vlasian stared coldly toward the body lying at his feet. “Thank you ever so much. I would never have been able to do it without you,” Vlasian smirked. He held out the knife he had used between his thumb and first finger allowing it to dangle point down for a moment and then dropped it into the wood next to the man’s head. It thudded into the floor and the point embedded itself there. Vlasian left the room through the open window and dropped lightly to the ground. Swiftly he saddled his horse that was stabled near the tavern and set off into the night. In the years to come, the Library of the Ancients would become open to the public, for its secretive nature became unnecessary with the absence of its most prized possession. For on the third of Mortia, at the beginning of Vlasian’s twenty-sixth year, The Voice of Palon vanished from the Library of the Ancients. Its secrets, both dark and righteous, were forever lost to the world. The mission of its guardians had failed. Despite their efforts to keep the book and tear apart, they had failed. Now one man was in possession of one of the most ancient and powerful artifacts on Irilion, and he possessed the means to use it. And not just any man, the last man on Draia you would ever want to gift with such power. Part 2 Vlasian had the Voice of Palon. The book contained many secrets of magic both good and evil. Few of these did he ever truly read, though. He had eyes only for the pages that taught him how to use The Tear of Sedicolis. The powers of The Tear were greater than anyone had guessed. With the proper instructions, Vlasian could change his shape to any race, gender, age, and appearance at will. If an orchan of Redmoon hired him to spy upon another orchan, Vlasian could swiftly become an orchan himself to move freely about the island. If he desired to steal the knowledge of gnomes, he could become an innocent gnomish girl. Vlasian grew in fame rapidly. He was no longer the renowned thief and spy of Melinis, but the famed outlaw of the continent. With the ability to easily change his appearance, it no longer mattered to him what proof was left to make him guilty. No one could catch him; he could disappear into a crowd of people as himself and slip into a tavern as a drunken elf. At first, the changes in form were slow and sometimes even painful, but as time passed, he grew more skilled. Vlasian began to change his shape for the simplest needs, and could do it in seconds, morphing from one form to another to keep the hair out of his eyes. His abilites granted him the one thing so many longed for, eternal life. He could change his age in the blink of an eye; years had no effect on Vlasian. By the age of forty, he had been hired as a thief, spy, and assassin more times than he could count. His greed was endless; traveling the continent constantly, he stole precious artifacts from everywhere imaginable. He robbed the treasuries of kings and emperors. He defiled the tombs of ancient rulers depriving them of their glorious riches. Legends quickly sprang up of a hidden treasure trove of Vlasian’s riches. His services were so expensive that only the richest could ever procure his talents. And every year, on the third of Mortia, some horrid event would strike an unsuspecting community. And so it came to be that in Vlasian’s fortieth year, he found himself on the eastern edges of the region of Trassian. It was in this cold and white land that he came across an old draegoni dwelling there. This draegoni, who went by the name of Cilist, was an angry and vengeful man. He had long held enmity toward the city of Dra Syn and his kin there. Vlasian never cared to delve into why this man so hated his own people, but Cilist was willing to pay Vlasian richly if he would help him destroy the city. Cilist taught Vlasian what he knew of the city, its customs, its people, and its secret passages. Vlasian would need to gain the trust of the draegoni there. With their trust gained, he could open the city’s huge icy gates for Cilist’s army of Yetis and wild men from all across the south. Vlasian entered the city as a lone draegoni from Glacmor and quickly befriended those he would need. In less than a month, Vlasian and Cilist had agreed on a date on which Vlasian would see to it that the gates of the city spilled open in the early morning. The day came and unsuspecting draegoni in Dra Syn were awakened to the war cries of an invading force. The draegoni quickly figured out that Vlasian had betrayed them and forced him to flee deep into the city. * * * * * * * * Vlasian looked to his right and left, he was stuck. Through either cave entrance he knew he would run into mobs of draegoni soldiers, all of them ready to kill him. They all knew only he would be coming through the caves. No matter what he changed into, they would catch him. He had foolishly already changed in front of a group of draegoni and they had immediately identified him as the thief and spy Vlasian. His gaze shifted upwards slowly, Cilist’s words of the city’s secrets echoed in his head. The ancient pass of Dra’sel lay hidden in that sheer rock wall. Vlasian walked slowly toward the entrance to the throne room. Above the rounded cave entrance, he could just make out some irregularities in the stone. He pulled his snow-white hood over his head and scrambled slowly up the rocky rim around the cave’s entrance. Now that he was near it, the stairway carved into the rock was unmistakable. Stairway was not the term Vlasian would have used however. He silently cursed Cilist for not giving him more information. Rather than a stairway, it looked like a ladder carved into the rock. It was a series of indentations spaced roughly like the rungs of a ladder. It looked like it would be a very dangerous climb, but it was Vlasian’s only way out. Sheathing his knife, he laid a warmly gloved hand on an indentation higher up and slowly brought a foot up onto the bottom one. He bounced on his foot for a moment and then pulled on the rock above to make sure it was solid. Satisfied, he pulled up the other foot and began the slow and treacherous climb. With each new indentation his hand reached, he tested the rock to make sure it wouldn’t break and send him plummeting to the ground far below. As he climbed ever higher, the wind grew stronger. It ripped at his cloak and hair sending them flying in the gusts of air. Frustrated he changed his shape to that of a bald man; his hair was now out of his eyes but his cloak still fluttered free. Before he knew it, the rock was sheeted in the glacial ice of the mountains. He was forced to remove his warm gloves in order to be able to grip the ice. At long last he saw a ledge far above him. Thankfully, he wouldn’t be forced to climb all the way in this fashion. Gaining the ledge, he carefully stood. It was a narrow ledge carved into the eternal ice of the mountains. He clutched the rock face on his left as he made his way along. The sheer drop on his right was dizzying, that was a fall he would not survive. Making his way slowly along, he watched his feet and not the path in front of him. And when a draegoni shouted at him to halt, he nearly stumbled off the ledge. Regaining his balance, Vlasian looked ahead. Two draegonis guarded the ledge in front of him. “You are under arrest, Vlasian, for treachery!” shouted one. “We will escort you back to the city for judgment.” “Oh, I don’t think I’ll be coming along,” smirked Vlasian. “Your city is busy fighting a horde of bloodthirsty yetis. I would so hate to interrupt their fun.” With those words Vlasian lashed out, kicking one of the two in the stomach. The draegoni slipped, tried to find purchase on the ice, but failed. He fell from the ledge plummeting to his death far below. The remaining draegoni stared in horror as his friend fell. Vlasian edged closer ready to make a strike against him as well. The draegoni snapped out of his stupor and drew his sword. He lashed angrily at Vlasian, who stumbled back. As Vlasian backed away his foot met the edge of the ledge and he slipped. He cried out as his stomach collided with the icy edge. Frantically his hands dug into the ice as he slipped further down. His heart beat rapidly in terror as one hand slipped. He dug his fingers into the hard ice with the other hand trying to find anything to hold on to. A god must have smiled on him for he found a rock embedded in the ice and latched onto it. He now hung on by one hand to the ledge; the rest of him was dangling over the empty air. Vlasian looked up at the draegoni who glared down at him. “It’s too bad you slipped and fell to your death before you could be given a fair trial,” the draegoni laughed. He raised his foot over Vlasian’s hand. Thinking fast, Vlasian pulled a dagger from his belt and jammed it into the ice near his waist just as the draegoni’s foot fell. His hand on the rock lost its grip, yet he now held tightly to the dagger in the ice. Vlasian gasped in pain as his arm holding onto the dagger caught the full weight of his body. His shoulder muscles screamed as he hung there dangling by one arm. The draegoni above him now smirked with a mocking satisfaction. Vlasian gasped for breath as his knuckles turned white and his shoulder continued to burn. The draegoni above began to draw a crossbow he had slung across his back. Vlasian watched horrified as the draegoni slowly drew back a bolt and pointed it directly at Vlasian’s head. “Farewell, murderous traitor,” the draegoni growled. Seizing one final chance, Vlasian pulled a short throwing knife from his sleeve. In one smooth motion he drew and threw it toward the draegoni. The knife hit the draegoni squarely between the eyes and punctured his skull. His hands dropped the crossbow, which released the bolt. Vlasian felt the bolt whiz past his ear and watched as the draegoni slowly tumbled from the ledge, his already lifeless body plummeted to join his companion far below. Now Vlasian hung there, alone, on the ice. His fingers grew sweaty despite the cold and he began to lose his grip. Using his remaining bit of strength he drew the twin to the dagger already in the ice and heaved his arm upward and dug it into the top of the ledge. He now laid stomach against the ice one hand reached high holding onto the dagger in the ledge and the other again near his waist. Letting go with his left hand he heaved up his legs and put a foot on the knife near his waist. Bringing his other foot up he balanced precariously on his toes. He pushed his legs upward and clawed with his hands bringing himself up onto the ledge. As he pushed off the dagger to get onto the ledge, he felt it fall away from the ice. Crawling to his feet, Vlasian watched his dagger fall gracefully to the ground below. Regretfully he pulled his other out of the ice and returned it to its place in his belt. Feeling his shoulder gingerly, he judged he had probably dislocated it from the jerk as he fell. Slipping from one form to another he tried to see if he could fix it, to no avail. Every time he tried to change it just hurt worse. Finally settling on the shape of a young draegoni girl, he set off across the ledge. He would have to make it over the mountains to Glacmor. Then convince someone to help him. It took Vlasian two days to cross the treacherous pass before he found himself weak and hungry in Glacmor. He hadn’t changed his shape from the young draegoni girl and entered a tavern stumbling with fatigue. The draegoni there could only guess where this girl had come from and helped her. Much to their surprise when she was fully recovered in a little over three days she disappeared. In the end, the warriors of Dra Syn defeated the horde of invading monsters and walled off their huge gates. The entrance to the city became a secret known only to the draegoni and their friends. Vlasian returned to Cilist’s house to collect his pay. The old draegoni refused because he had not succeeded in destroying the city. When the people of Dra Syn discovered who had worked with Vlasian to attack them, they swiftly sent troops to Cilist’s house. The found only wreckage and bloodstained walls. Vlasian disappeared to some other part of Irilion and was not seen in the south for many years. The draegoni do not easily forget and their magical abilities sometimes led them to identify Vlasian despite his changes of form. Irilion was large, however, and spying and thievery could be done everywhere. Vlasian was never without work, for evil always needs an emissary. Part 3 Years flew by and Vlasian worked all across the continent. At the age of sixty, he was as quick witted and skilled as he had been in his youth. He could always resort to a form of himself in his prime. Vlasian had many close calls, however. Some of his escapes seemed too good to be true. He had not yet come to accept it, but an unseen force guided his path, protected him, slowly steered his life. A cold calculating force of evil slowly moved the pieces of its game and as Vlasian found himself in Idaloran in his sixtieth year, everything began to fall into place. Vlasian had received word through a tangled network of informants that the empress of Idaloran was seeking a master spy. Vlasian quickly finished his work in Sedicolis and made his way west to Idaloran city. There he contacted those he needed to and was soon given an audience with the empress’s personal intelligence master. The Idal Empire was in a secret and lethal feud of murder and trickery with the elves in Irsis. Vlasian’s assignment was simple to understand, but far less easy to carry out. The Idal empress wanted information on a certain elvish noble. He was a very paranoid noble and rumor had it he possessed guards who were the most adept in all areas of stealth and spy work. Vlasian gleefully accepted the challenge; positive he could succeed against all odds. That was where his folly lay. He quickly made his way south to Irsis to begin his work, for which he would be paid very richly. Vlasian made his first error on his second day there. He had followed a pretty lady home from a tavern only to discover she was one of Irsis’s spies. And she knew what he had already been up to, spying on the elven noble. To Vlasian’s shock, rather than try and execute him, the elves offered to pay him twice what the Idal Empire had promised in order for him to play the double agent. Blinded by greed, Vlasian accepted without hesitation: his second mistake. And his third was underestimating the skill and knowledge of the Idal empress’s other spies. He was promptly placed under arrest upon his first return to Idaloran with information. Hauled to the city's jail he spent a quiet and lonely night, brooding in anger and frustration, with the constant knowledge of an execution planned the following day. He was not unduly worried however; he was confident he would find a way out. But when the sun rose the next day, he began to doubt. He had really messed up this time, there was no way out. * * * * * * * * Vlasian stared shocked at the walls of his prison as the first rays of an autumn sun began to slip into his cell. The bars in front of him still sat there defiantly. He had tried every form possible, but there was no way any could fit through the thin space between each bar. He had finally failed. Vlasian’s thoughts were not those of regret, of wishing his crimes had not happened, that he hadn’t been so greedy. They were thoughts of blank horror that he, so perfect in his own eyes, was about to be led to his execution. Leather boots thudded on the stone floor as a guard approached his prison. Watching with hollow vacant eyes, Vlasian saw the lock opened and the door swung outward. Jumping up, Vlasian reached for the guard’s throat, but the man was prepared and dodged to the side. Drawing his sword, the guard slashed Vlasian across the back. The blow sent Vlasian to his knees. Vlasian was dimly aware of the world around him as he was picked up and dragged outside. Across the cobbled streets, he was brought to a grim and bloody execution block. Large crowds had gathered to watch. All of them wanted a glimpse of the legendary thief, Vlasian. No jeer or taunt of the guards or crowd ever truly reached his ears. He heard them all, but none did he react to. His eyes clouded with a misty dullness as he was placed upon the execution block. Nothing went through his mind, so deep was his state of utter shock that he had lost all energy to fight back. How was this happening? How had he failed? Only a few days before he had been accepting another common job as a spy, now here he was, about to be executed. He, who possessed the tear of Sedicolis, his key to eternal life, was about to die. Oddly enough, the tear still hung around his neck on its silver chain. It dangled in midair from his bent neck. Vlasian’s eyes locked on it as the crowd yelled. The man to his side was raising his axe slowly and dramatically, drunk with the attention of the crowd. That was when everything went black. At first Vlasian had thought he died, the axe had fallen, and here he was wherever he went next. Then a figure took shape. Vlasian could do nothing but stare, was this hell? He slowly crawled from his kneeling position and peered into the darkness. “Who are you?” croaked Vlasian to the approaching figure. His back ached fiercely as the fresh wound the guard had inflicted continued to bleed. “I am one who has followed you for many years,” hissed the figure. “What do you want?” Vlasian’s pulse quickened as his eyes darted around. Any unseen attacker could leap from the darkness at any moment, not to mention the mysterious figure in front of him. “Your service,” the quiet reply came. “Why should I serve you?” Vlasian countered. “Because you owe me everything.” “Huh?” Vlasian was confused and flustered and was getting dizzy as his wound continued to bleed. “I saw to it you were born, saw to it you won The Tear of Sedicolis, guided you to The Voice of Palon, rescued you so many times when death was near. And now it is time for you to pay your debt.” “I don’t owe you anything!” Vlasian yelled. Only laughter followed, then another reply. “But don’t you understand Vlasian? You serve me, or you die.” The last word slipped into Vlasian’s ears venomously. A chill ran down his spine, this man terrified him. “Not man, Vlasian, god.” “Selain?” whispered Vlasian in horror. “What is your decision?” the god pressed. “Serve me? Or not?” Just as Selain uttered those last two words, a hideous image grew in Vlasian’s mind. It was of him lying dead on the ground. He didn’t want to die. “I’ll serve you,” Vlasian whispered fearfully. “Wise choice.” Vlasian looked around surprised as he heard the horror struck screams of a crowd. They faded, though, and the darkness grew deeper. In the city of Idaloran, the people were as bewildered as Vlasian himself. A dark black shadow had completely obscured the famed thief and his executioner. As it cleared Vlasian was revealed gone and the executioner dead upon the ground. Whispers rippled through the crowd as the screams subsided and they stared in horror and wonder. Where had he gone? How had he done that? “He is a god!” someone shouted. “We have angered a god! Surely now we shall all be punished!” The crowd dispersed quickly and everyone fled to their homes. All across the city word quickly spread of the miraculous escape of the thief. The same questions flew from person to person. Is he a god? If he isn’t, how did he get away? Has anyone ever escaped the empress’s justice before? Vlasian had done the unfathomable; he had been the first being to ever escape the iron fist of the Idal Empire’s punishment. Had he done it himself, Vlasian would be basking in the glory of more fame. He hadn’t done it himself, however, and now he was beginning to realize what he had gotten himself into. From the moment he started listening to the dark thoughts in his mind as a child, he had been losing control. Now, sixty years later, his life was not his own. Vlasian owed everything he had, everything he was, to the cunning god who now swept him far away from Idaloran. Part 4 Vlasian breathed in and out rapidly as the darkness began to fade and the world took shape around him. Selain had vanished and Vlasian now found himself standing in a jungle. Thick brown muck oozed beneath his boots. He could make out distant sounds of animals but nothing was near him. Prying his feet from the mud, he took a few steps in one direction, then stopped. He had absolutely no idea where he was. For all he knew, if he walked that direction he could be going deeper into the forest. After a moment's consideration, he resolved that standing around sure wouldn't help him at all so he might as well walk and see where he ended up. He started off again in the direction he had been headed, yet before he could take more than five steps, he found himself with a spear at his throat. “Who trespasses on the land of the Akuen?” growled the spear’s bearer. Vlasian’s mind worked rapidly trying to place the name "Akuen" to figure out where he was. “Jallis!” Another person walked up, also carrying a spear. Both people were clad in simple leather armor and wore capes fashioned from a variety of skins. “Who is that?” demanded the second man. “I don’t know. He doesn’t look like a Mishisan or I would have killed him already.” “I don’t care what he looks like, no one trespasses on Akuen ground and only Akuen and Mishisan are bold enough to travel alone in Kusamura.” Before the pair could argue more, Vlasian shifted from his own form to that of a young male elf and darted into the trees. “Stop him!” yelled one of the men. Vlasian leapt through the undergrowth and dodged branches; he had no idea where he was going. He was about to pause to catch his breath when he saw an old wall through the trees. He slowed and entered the clearing in which the wall stood. A strand of more men armed with spears leapt over the walls and blocked his path. Those from the forest caught up in moments and blocked his last escape. “Kill him,” growled one of the men who had come from the forest. They all raised their spears, but were cut short. “Stop!” roared a voice. Instantly everyone lowered their spears. A tall man stepped from the forest. He was clad in leather as well and wore a black cloak around his shoulders. He was dark skinned like the others, but unlike the others, he had emerald green eyes. “Master,” the one who had ordered Vlasian’s death dropped to his knees before the figure. “Do you all intend to kill the one I have sent to help you?” questioned the green-eyed man. “No, Selain, never,” murmured the lead man. “Selain?” Vlasian was taken aback. “I have many forms, Vlasian,” hissed Selain. Selain then addressed the man again. “Explain to Vlasian what is going on. He will provide the information you need.” A wave of whispers swept through the forest warriors. “Vlasian? The famed Vlasian? Selain has sent us Vlasian?” “The time is near, prepare all your warriors. Your people will be rewarded for all your service to me.” With those parting words, Selain vanished back into the forest. The lead man stood and faced Vlasian. “Come,” he said simply. “I am the Akuen. I will show you the village.” Keeping a wary eye on the spears and the dark eyes of the warriors, Vlasian followed this man, the Akuen, past the wall. “I thought your people were the Akuen?” Vlasian asked. “You said this was Akuen land.” “We are the Akuen, I am the Akuen, this village is Akuen, this land is Akuen’s,” he responded. “You were sent by the god to help us. I will tell you what you need to know and we will do what Selain asks, for the Akuen are his people.” That was the beginning of Vlasian’s time in the village of Akuen. The man, the Akuen as he was called, guided Vlasian and taught him many things. He taught of the long feud between the Akuen and the Mishisan. He taught how the first villager, Akuen, had chosen this land for his descedents. He taught how Akuen had been Selain’s most loyal follower for years. The village was built into the swamp and without the constant care of the people, it would have long ago sunk into the muddy land. Akuen and his children had built it many years before. In the same years that Akuen had made his village, his brother Mishisan had built one to the east. Akuen’s descendents swelled rapidly and soon burned the Mishisan village to the jungle floor, for Akuen and Mishisan, though both loyal servants of Selain, hated each other. After that, the Mishisan had lived only in tents. Years later, they had turned away from Selain. That made the Akuen hate them all the more, for the Akuen had always followed Selain: they were his people. Vlasian was shocked to discover that Selain seemed to truly care for these people. They were like his children; he guided them, punished them, and provided for them. And the Akuen adored their god. Now, however, the swamp was growing so rapidly that it consumed the Akuens' lands. Selain had promised them they could march on the Mishisan who had betrayed them and claim their lands, but the Mishisan were rapidly disappearing because of the lions that dwelt in their lands. The lions were fierce beasts and they multiplied rapidly with such a ready supply of food. These monsters made the Mishisan lands unfit for the Akuen, so Selain had promised his people a different land, the land of their blood enemies. The Akuen were elves, a reclusive tribe that had broken off from the service of Aluwen, the normal god of elves. Aluwen’s people dwelt in Aeth Aelfan to the south and Selain wanted his people to conquer them. The people of Aeth Aelfan dwelt in villages that were virtually unprotected. The elves there were, however, fierce warriors. And as in any war, you couldn’t win without the proper information from spies. Selain had been planning this attack on Aeth Aelfan for years and the time was drawing near. Vlasian was to create a network of Akuen spies in Aeth Aelfan to feed information to their tribal leader, Akuen. That was precisely what Vlasian did. For sixth months he and his Akuen assistants gathered information on the elves. While the Akuen village, which had nearly four hundred inhabitants, prepared for war. And to war they went. Seven months after Vlasian’s arrival, over one hundred Akuen warriors crept into the nearest village, Lothalith, where they slaughtered many in their sleep before the alarms were raised and the battle was forced to the nearby Wyrmgoth fields. The fields were soaked with the blood of the Akuen and elves, but the Akuen were winning. They were strong warriors and powerful servants of Selain. Most of the battle was fought by the beasts they summoned. The other villages sent warriors as well, but all were beaten back by the Akuen. Victory was at hand and a fertile land would be theirs to rule. Vlasian himself fought in the battle and slew the high priest of Aluwen. The man had sworn his daughter would take up his place and defeat Vlasian. Vlasian had sworn to murder his daughter. As Vlasian killed the priest, the tide of the battle changed. The small war had raged for nearly a week and word had reached Aeth Aelfan’s allies. The elves of Irsis sent ships full of warriors and mages who cut down the ranks of the Akuen, driving them back into the forest. When the Akuen were all but wiped out, an enraged Selain gathered up the less than fifty of his people and swept them away to hide them in other lands. The village of the Akuen disappeared into the swamp, except for a small part that somehow never completely sank into the watery mud. The Akuen themselves vanished for years. They became a wandering people, but they were never completely destroyed. Always did they serve Selain, led by their chief. The city of Lothalith built itself into a fortress with huge gates separating themselves from the jungle. Before all this happened, however, while the Akuen were still being slaughtered on the Wyrmgoth fields, Vlasian tried to complete a personal mission. * * * * * * * * Vlasian walked silently through the darkened streets. Most of this coastal village was in the north fighting the Akuen. Yet in several houses, lamps burned. Vlasian quickly located the one he was looking for and entered. A small humble house, it was not where you would expect the high priest of Aluwen to live. “Hello?” a mother called. “Who is there?” Vlasian appeared in the doorway to a bedroom, sword drawn. Unprepared, the elven woman tried to retrieve a sword from beneath the bed, but Vlasian cut her down. A small child lay on the bed, a little girl that couldn’t have been any more than three. Vlasian stood over the child, an evil smirk upon his face. “You must be Bridden,” he hissed. “Your father spoke so highly of you. Pity you won’t live to learn of his great deeds.” Vlasian brought up his sword, but was stopped mid-swing as a blinding light flashed through the house and a sharp hot blade smote his face. “Away, slave of the serpent!” A glowing elvish woman had appeared in front of Vlasian, between him and the child. “You have wreaked havoc upon my children the elves. You shall not kill this child! You have gained what no mortal should be able to possess and for that I curse you. Forever shall your life be a shadow and forever shall you serve that serpent Selain. Immortality was not meant for mortals. You shall be as the living dead, forever cursed to walk Draia without peace.” As all this was spoken, Vlasian cowered on the floor, his face burned in pain from the blow of the glowing knife Aluwen clutched. “Now leave! Away with you, foul human!” She roared in fury and Vlasian crawled feebly from the house, away from the blinding light. A long scar would cross his face for all his days. It ran from above his left eye to his chin and never truly healed. Hooded and cloaked, the shadow that was Vlasian stalked the lands hiding his wound. No matter what shape he took, it was always there; a sign of his identity, impossible to hide: the mark of a goddess's vengeance. Epilogue Melinis lay quiet and dark on the third of Mortia. All lights were out and shutters closed, save for one house. A young boy, no more than seven years old, crawled out of bed to investigate why his grandfather was awake. “Grandfather?” he questioned as he walked into the lit room. “What are you doing?” “I’m making a painting child,” he answered gesturing to the nearly finished work spread out before him. It was very large, nearly five feet square. The boy looked at the painting. It depicted a black horse rearing on a shadowy grey background. On the horse was a rider swathed in a black cloak, his hood was black as well and only a shadowy hole lay where a face should have been. The painting was nearly finished but for a final corner of the shadowed background. “What is it Grandfather? Who is that?” the boy asked. “It is the thief, Vlasian of Melinis.” “Why are you drawing him? And why tonight when we are supposed to be abed with lamps out?” “Because I don’t believe in superstitions. I met Vlasian once, long ago, when I was less than noble myself. I have since changed my ways, so that doesn’t matter. But he would have to be older than I if he is still alive. He won’t return to perform dreadful deeds on the third of Mortia.” “But there are stories of bad things happening in other places on the third of Mortia! It just hasn’t happened here in a while.” “No doubt other thieves and outlaws got the same idea as Vlasian and try to keep up a horrid tradition. As I said, Vlasian is older than me; he is in no shape to be running around committing crimes. He is history, now, and we do not fear the past. Now go back to bed.” The boy nodded and crept out of the room as his grandfather gently shooed him away. The boy fell quickly into a deep slumber and the grandfather finished the painting. Outside the crisp clear sky twinkled with a blanket of stars as a dark figure crept into Melinis. That morning, the people of southern Melinis awoke to the ear splitting scream of a woman. She stood outside the entrance to the mayor’s house and as people came out to investigate, they saw the source of her shock. Hanging on the wall inside the house was the painting the grandfather had drawn. Dark and sickly even in the light streaming in the door, it was enough to shock anyone. But the faceless black clothed rider and horse were not why the woman had screamed. Below the painting lay the grandfather, splayed in a pool of blood on the floor. Even the painting and wall were splattered by the man’s blood. And so, as the city stared horrified at the dark picture with a blood-splattered corner, a dark clothed figure rode out of Melinis’s gates. The little boy stood on the walls watching in terror as the jet black horse and rider stopped and looked back at the city. The boy let out a scream of his own as the faceless hood peered straight toward him. The horse reared, matching perfectly the pose in the picture, then slammed its feet into the dust and galloped away into the desert. And that is why, on the third day of Mortia, every year, every curtain is drawn, every lamp is doused, and every crying babe hushed. For on the third of Mortia, many years ago, the god of vice walked the streets of Melinis. Now on the third of Mortia, every year, Vlasian, the scourge of Selain, returns to ravage the city that bore him, for Vlasian wished he had never been born. Forever was he doomed to serve Selain and live a half-life because of Aluwen’s curse upon him. He was like a shadow, only half alive, forced to never die and forced to carry the burden of his crimes. A demon of the darkness, afraid of the light, his hatred grew with every passing year. He despised all life, including his own. But forever was he to walk Draia, his eternal punishment for his unthinkable deeds.
  9. Knowledge Titles

    This image shows the lowest titles overlap the columns and below that, the title overlaps the progress meter. Things are still working, but thought someone might want to know who can make the display more aesthetically appealing.
  10. Testers needed on the test server

    I set up PhilDaTEST to try out the Past and Wraith quests. Thanks to Enly, btw, for the rose quartz. :-) Everything worked fine for me as well. When I gave the rose quartz to Atakel, however, I noticed "[quest completed]" (minus the quote marks) above some of her text before tell me about my past. Was that supposed to happen? Phil...
  11. Port Anitora and the Dragon ship

    Chapter 10 The Stuff of Legends Sarma surveyed his companions as the distant landmass grew ever nearer. They would reach Whitestone in a matter of only minutes and would land on the beach. Annaeh and Assain stood silently, their dragon blades gripped casually in their hands. Bridden and Narran chatted quietly in the back of the boat, both were outfitted in steel armor. Bridden had a titanium sword slipped through her belt. Narran had a saber clasped in his hand. Taur was by far the most ominous of the group, he wore no armor, only a blood red cape. He leaned on his staff which was topped with a blue stone and watched the boat around him. Sarma knew Taur’s sharp eyes saw everything and processed every detail. Nothing escaped him. Henau sat quietly peering out the window toward the landmass, which was now very close. “How many will there be?” Henau asked. “Many,” Assain replied shortly. “And they will all summon giants and other monsters to aid them.” “You just stay on the boat Henau. Yuwon and Hani will never forgive me if you get killed,” Bridden said. “What if you’re all killed and they burn the ship like they plan?” Henau pressed. No one spoke for a moment, then Sarma quietly murmured. “That won’t happen.” There was no response to his words and the ship was silent as Sarma guided it into the cave and let the orb slowly fall. Still no sound came from anyone as Sarma pulled open the door and clambered out into the cave. He expected to be attacked immediately, but the cave was empty. The others followed him, except for Henau who was waved back into the vessel when he tried to follow. Henau glared and settled himself down inside the ship again. Quietly the small war party exited the cave and walked across the water to the shore of Whitestone. Sarma rubbed his hand against his sword's hilt nervously. He wasn’t ready for this. As Sarma started toward the tunnel under the ridge of rocky hills he heard a voice. “Stop!” Sarma froze and looked behind at his friends; his heart skipped a beat as he saw nothing. Then he recalled that Taur had promised to make all but Sarma invisible until an attack was launched, so that they could surprise the enemy. “And so Sarma returns,” Sarma whipped around toward the tunnel as Groden emerged from behind some rocks, flanked by nearly fifty quiet humans and elves. “I do, but I expected a better welcoming committee than you,” Sarma growled. Groden laughed coldly. “Haven’t you heard though Sarma? There’s a bounty on your head for robbing the palace treasury. They want you alive or dead,” Groden’s eyes flickered dangerously as Sarma stared. “I did nothing of the sort! I went to Irilion!” Sarma clamped his mouth shut as he realized Groden knew all this. “Oh yes, we know that. We just didn’t feel it was terribly important to inform Lord Luxin of it. After all, you are only a gnome. No one will be missing you,” Groden smirked at Sarma waiting for a reply. Suddenly one of the humans next to Groden collapsed to the ground, a bloody gash had sliced across his chest. Groden and the others stared shocked, then all took a step back as Assain and Annaeh advanced on either side of Sarma, now perfectly visible. Bridden and Narran spread out to the right and left, and Taur stood quietly next to Sarma his staff pointed at the now dead man. What happened after was a flurry of action. Groden and his small army recovered quickly. Lights flashed as giants appeared and lumbered toward the draegoni. Two more of Groden’s company was down in seconds from Bridden’s sword and another followed quickly, smote down by Narran. Those were short-lived victories, yetis and chimeran wolves cut off their access to the summoners and they were all forced to fight the monsters. Assain jabbed at a giant, Annaeh behind him. They moved together back-to-back covering the other's weaknesses. Annaeh twisted and slashed at a giant, then skipped backwards as Assain struck down a yeti. Their blades swept in arcs and spun between their fingers as they turned, ducked, stabbed, and sliced. Faster than the eye could follow, the blade would switch from one hand to another and slip past the arms of the monsters. Bridden danced gracefully between the chimeran’s trying to reach the summoners. She had little luck and was forced to take down the ever-increasing monsters rather than destroy their source. She brought down her sword on one monster’s head, only to be slashed by another on her side. Using her titanium shield as a weapon she waded through the ranks of monsters, getting dangerously close to Groden. Narran was locked in combat with a particularly adept warrior. The elf had summoned no creatures, but was keeping Narran occupied and preventing him from joining the fight. Narran sliced and parried without as much grace as an elf or draegoni, but with an unfailing strength that forced the elf back against the rocks. Meanwhile, Taur threw spells at every monster within his range. Chimerans fell in clusters as he cast spells faster than anyone Sarma had ever seen. A stocky human behind Groden attempted to heal some of the monsters, but Taur finished him with a spell. Sarma himself was busy keeping monsters away from Taur so that he could focus on his magic. None of it mattered, though. No matter how many giants Assain and Annaeh took down, more and more kept appearing. Bridden slew chimerans right and left, but there was an endless flow of them. And Narran was now struggling not only against the elf but two yetis as well. Sarma continued to slash at the monsters around him and Taur, but his will was fading. All his hard work was coming to an end. The days he had spent slaving away with Clark to make that boat, the empty time of hunger thinking he would die, the joyous weeks on Arius learning all he could about the people of Irilion, it was all wasted. Here they were on a lonely beach in southern Whitestone; no one would ever know what happened. Irilion wouldn’t send any ships after Sarma for fear of what happened to him, Seridia would never know Irilion existed. Selain was finally going to win and Aluwen wasn’t intervening to stop him. Suddenly Sarma realized he was drifting away from Taur. He tried to move back toward him but a sea of chimerans blocked his way. Sarma began to panic as he realized he was isolated from the rest of the group. “Not so bold on your own are you Sarma?” Groden taunted as he walked up behind Sarma, flanked by two yetis. Sarma stumbled as he turned to face Groden, who laughed mockingly. “Your friends were not expected, but they will be taken care of.” Groden drew out a shimmering serpent sword wreathed in purple fire. Sarma took several hurried steps backwards only to trip over a rock and fall unceremoniously to the ground. Groden laughed again and advanced as Sarma crawled to his feet. Groden lunged bringing his sword down on Sarma, who ducked behind the shield Narran had given him. Groden growled and brought his sword around to Sarma’s right only to be stopped there by his sword. Sarma silently thanked Aluwen that Groden was neither a swift nor talented swordsman. His movements were slow and easily predicted. Sarma barely had time to counter though. He continued to try and move away from Groden but the monsters had formed a rigid circle around the pair, he was trapped. He switched off blocking Groden’s blows between his shield and sword and tried to move toward a narrow gap between the ranks of monsters. Sarma was nervous and terrified and paid no attention where he stepped as he walked backwards. To his humiliation, he stumbled again and fell to the sandy beach. “You’re pathetic really, can’t even take on a fighter like me. Those two draegoni can at least put up a good fight,” Groden ridiculed. Sarma stared in horror as he watched Groden’s sword follow a slow arc toward his head. He was going to die, the thought finally sunk in to Sarma. He was never going to see Clark again or his newly made friends from Irilion. He was about to die. Sarma clenched his eyes closed but the stroke never fell. Had he been watching, Sarma would have seen a heavy arrow thud into Groden’s shoulder. Sarma jerked his eyes open as he heard Groden cry out and watched the sword fall from his hand. Standing behind the ranks of monsters, only a little ways down the beach, were five archers raining arrows down on the monsters. Sarma stood and looked around to see that a group of soldiers had poured over the rocky hills and were now cutting down the ranks of Groden’s party. Groden himself whimpered on the ground behind Sarma. Something more than the arrow through his shoulder afflicted him. “No, I did it. I had him, I was about to kill him! It’s not my fault!” Groden continued to mutter excuses to some invisible enemy, and Sarma realized he was talking to Selain. Sarma took a hesitant step toward Groden actually feeling pity for the poor human. Groden jumped suddenly to his feet though and ran madly down the beach. Confused, the monsters he summoned tried to follow him, but soon lost track of where he was. Sarma watched fascinated as Groden scrambled into the hills and disappeared behind the rocks. That was the last time Sarma saw Groden. He heard rumors at times of a deranged summoner wandering Seridia, but never saw him again, or heard any real proof. Sarma turned his attention back to the battle to find his friends. But there was little battle left. The uniformed soldiers of Whitestone had either killed or captured all of Groden’s small army. And the few remaining monsters were quickly slain. Sarma took several steps toward his friends, who thankfully all stood together with no more than scratches and bruises. He was stopped as two gruff soldiers grabbed his arms. “You are under arrest for thievery from the Lord of Whitestone,” said one of the soldiers. Sarma was dragged over to the other soldiers and his friends. Annaeh stepped forward in front of the humans who held Sarma. He towered above them and glared menacingly down. “On what charges do you arrest this gnome?” Annaeh growled. The two soldiers who gripped Sarma could do nothing but sputter and stare at the draegoni. Then another soldier walked up, his uniform was slightly nicer than the others and indicated that he was a captain. “He is arrested for thievery of Lord Luxin’s treasury,” the captain stated. “And when did this thievery occur?” questioned Assain who stood beside his brother. “Three nights ago,” the captain replied. “I can personally assure you that three nights ago this gnome was further away from Whitestone than you can even imagine,” Narran had now taken Sarma’s side as well and stood with the two draegoni. The captain began to reply but another soldier walked up, even more finely dressed than the captain. “I am General Reddar of Lord Luxin’s army,” he nodded his head silently to Sarma’s friends. “I have cleared Sarma of all charges of theft and placed the blame upon the true culprit, Groden Terailidis.” “What proof do you have of this?” the captain question. “Who are we to argue with the word of the gods?” the General glared at the captain. “Captain, why don’t you escort these messengers of Irilion to Lakeside.” “Yes, sir.” The captain unhappily guided Annaeh, Assain, and Narran toward the path through the hills with most of the soldiers. Bridden remained standing with Sarma and the General however. “May I help you mistress elf?” the general questioned politely. “You were sent to this beach by Aluwen I presume?” Bridden questioned. “I was. She appeared to me early this morning while I slept and told me what I needed to do. I am the leader of Aluwen’s followers in Whitestone.” Bridden bowed respectfully at the general’s words. “I am Captain Bridden, Aluwen’s priestess on the continent of Irilion.” The general was taken aback and stared in wonder. “It’s true then, as Aluwen said, that you came from Irilion, that this gnome built a ship that can travel between continents?” “The goddess does not lie, General Reddar.” The General quietly accepted her words and turned to Sarma. “You, then, are the gnome that has reconnected our two continents?” he asked. Sarma nodded quietly. “Whitestone owes you much, then. I shall send messages to Lord Luxin immediately. You and your friends will be taken to Whitestone city and given the best lodgings we can offer,” the General said happily. “We would be much obliged,” Bridden replied politely. “I am afraid that those of us who belong on the continent of Irilion will not stay very long though. Our place is with our people and others will be sent as ambassadors to your Lord.” Sarma’s attention wavered as Bridden and the general continued to talk. He had done it, he had reached the continent of Irillion and returned to tell the tale. Selain and his minion Groden had been defeated and now Sarma would be treated as a hero. That night Henau and Sarma sat in the Lakeside tavern, their friends around them. Sarma resolved that he did not want to remain in Whitestone long either. He would prefer to ferry people between the two continents. Over the years, the dragon ship and Sarma became living legends. The ship’s insides were changed to make travel more comfortable and Anitora grew into a thriving market. Assain and Annaeh disappeared to their homeland, though Sarma did see them occasionally as he made journeys across Irilion with his gnomish kin. Bridden and Narran returned to their ship and crew and continued their voyages through Irilion’s seas. Henau returned to his home, but eventually took up residence on Anitora, managing the records of Seridians that came to Irilion. He and Sarma became close friends and worked together for many years. Sarma was always welcomed as a hero on Seridia and feasts were held in his honor. But he preferred Irilion where he was always welcomed as a friend among the gnomes and indeed many other races. The draegoni were kind to him but never gave him undue attention. The elves of Bridden’s homeland were always cordial and offered lodging, but never showered him with gifts. Sarma even met the empress of the Idal Empire and stayed in her palace. But home for Sarma was always Anitora or among the gnomes of Arius. For in those places, he was merely Sarma, a simple gnome. To the rest of Draia, though, he was a hero blessed by the gods.
  12. Port Anitora and the Dragon ship

    Chapter 9 Never Alone Nerala spent the next half hour examining the ship. Soon she had a crew of humans repairing some minor damage to the hull. Ian was at the head of the human team and took every opportunity to taunt the draegonis and ask them why they had yet to help with anything. The twins simply ignored him and chatted in low tones with each other. Bridden had disappeared with several of her crew to some other part of the island. That evening Sarma shared a tent with Yuwon and Henau. The humans had quickly mended the boat and Nerala planned to re-cast the spell on it the next day. Sarma tossed and turned throughout the night, nervous, but excited by the prospect of his journey home. He could finally show all those humans he was good for something, that he had done something right! He lay there thinking of all the ways he could march into Whitestone with draegonis and orchans by his side. To his regret, no one would be accompanying him home. Yuwon had insisted that Sarma return on his own and explain what had happened to his own people. Yuwon believed that would be easier to do without curious people following in his wake. Sarma, on the other hand, was concerned the people of Whitestone wouldn’t believe him if he had no proof, after all why should they? Sarma rolled onto his side again, then was jolted fully awake by a noise outside. He peered at the shadowy silhouettes outside his tent. He thought he had heard a cry. Was someone fighting, right outside his tent? Yuwon and Henau continued to sleep soundly and Sarma nearly got out of his cot when someone entered his tent. It was Narran staring down at Sarma. “Narran? What happened? What was that noise?” Sarma questioned worried. “Nothing, not anything that would concern you Sarma. Go back to sleep,” Sarma stared shocked at Narran. The orchan had responded with perfect speech, and no sailor’s accent. “Narran? What happened to your voice?” Sarma was very confused now. “It matters not. Rest now, for you will need your strength tomorrow,” Narran smiled down at Sarma. No longer was Narran the odd sailor Sarma had thought he was, but an imposing regal figure, with fine speech. “No, I’m not just going back to bed! I want to know what’s going on!” Sarma started to scramble to his feet when the human mage Nerala had brought appeared beside Narran. Without a word, the young mage, Taur, walked over to Sarma. “Sleep,” Taur whispered and he laid a hand on Sarma’s shoulder. Sarma felt his vision blur, as he was suddenly extremely tired. “You, don’t…. you…” Sarma’s protests halted as he collapsed onto his cot, the magical sleep engulfing his mind. ° ° ° ° ° ° Sarma awoke incredibly late the next morning. In fact, it was afternoon by the time he was up and about. His memory of the previous night was blurry and he decided it was just a dream. Narran and Taur acted as if nothing had happened. Sarma couldn’t piece together exactly what had occurred and gave up trying. “Just a dream, that’s all,” he muttered to himself as he climbed into his boat. “What was that, Sarma?” Nerala asked. She was already in the boat preparing to cast her spell. “Did you say something to me?” “Oh? No, sorry, just thinking aloud.” “Fitful night's sleep? You sure slept in awhile.” “Yes, I suppose. Thanks for waiting for me to wake up. I’m curious to watch how you make this vessel fly. How exactly does the spell work?” Sarma deftly changed the subject not wanting to dwell on what ever had ensued during the night. Nerala glanced curiously at him and then turned around to whatever she was working on. “Once I had a chance to extensively examine the ship, I think I’ve figured out what Clark did wrong,” Nerala began. “The spell of flight is a simple one. We use it often in Irillion for small things for short times. The nature of the spell is not to last for very long, only to be a temporary way to levitate things. Another reason it doesn’t last long is that it needs a source of power and a mage can’t hold something up forever with magic, no more than you could hold a heavy rock for hours on end.” “That’s as long as the spell will hold?” “Oh no, that’s just a comparison. A powerful version of the spell could last a few days, maybe longer if it didn’t encounter any resistance, or some other form of damage.” “How do you plan on making a permanent spell for the ship then?” “That’s where the dragon bones come in. There’s a certain kind of magic embedded in dragons, in their bones. The first Sarma knew this and realized the potential of using the power in the dragon bones to create a permanent spell of flight. From what I can see in the bones, he tried to tamper with it some, yet never succeeded. Your friend Clark probably did not fully understand what Sarma meant for the bones. All he could manage was a normal spell of flight. Obviously, that didn’t work; the spell fell apart when the storm battered your ship. I can cast the spell again, but cast it to draw the power from the dragon bones. Which should make it work for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years.” Nerala paused for a moment, “did that make sense?” “Yes, I think it did.” Sarma sorted out what Nerala had said in his head. “Good,” Nerala smiled. “The actual casting of the spell shouldn’t take long. I already did all the necessary preparation work before you awoke.” “You’re going to cast it now then?” “Yes, and please try not to move around too much if you stay in the ship. I don’t want you to break my concentration.” Nerala turned away from Sarma and walked to the bow of the ship. She carried a small crystal-like stone similar to the one Clark had used to allow Sarma to steer. Quietly Sarma sat down to watch what Nerala would do. Nerala stood over where the orb had previously been and held the new one in the air. She began to quietly whisper something. Slowly a silvery cloud appeared around the orb. After a few moments, she let go of the crystal orb and it hovered in the cloud. Perfectly circular, it expanded gradually until it filled the indentation in the wood below it. Once that was completed, Nerala’s chant changed slightly. Sarma watched in wonder as a light began to grow deep within the dragon bones around him in the ship. Blues, oranges, reds, purples, greens; they all danced in the depths of the bones and began to grow more prominent. Thin veins of blue shot across the bones; connecting and spreading out, weaving between thicker threads of green. Purple tips sprouted on the ends of every blue vein while orange and red ropes spiraled among everything. It was a beautiful sight to behold as the colors laced themselves together on the bones. Soon, every dragon bone was no longer a pale creamy white, but blazing with solid colors. Once the bones were glowing brightly, the color began to leak from them onto the wood. Waterfalls of crimson ran down the insides of the ship and pooled in turquoise pools around Sarma. Emerald branches strained to cover the top of the ship around him. Sarma stared in awe at the jade and azure spun wood above him. Abruptly even as he stared at the glorious colors around him, they began to fade. Nerala’s voice was now fading as well. The colors, bright and vibrant only a moment before, turned pale and seeped into the wood and bones again. Sarma looked toward Nerala as she let out a sigh and sat slowly down. “Are you all right?” Sarma asked worried. “Yes, I’m fine. It just took a little more strength than I expected it would,” she replied as she turned to grin at him. “That was amazing! Beautiful!” Nerala laughed and scrambled to her feet again. Sarma followed her out of the ship, still glancing around in hopes of seeing more stunning colors. None remained though, the magic had sunk into the ship and Nerala was positive it would hold this time. That evening, Sarma ate dinner with Nerala, Yuwon, and Henau. The two draegonis, as well as Bridden and her crew, were strangely absent. When Sarma woke the next day, he went in search of Bridden and Narran to bid them farewell, but they were not to be found. Disappointed, he returned to the cave where his vessel sat waiting. The human, Taur, had already loaded a surplus of supplies onto Sarma’s ship. “Ready to leave, Sarma?” Yuwon questioned. “I suppose. I really would have liked to tell Bridden and Narran goodbye, yet they seem to have vanished,” Sarma sighed. “So I heard, I sent Henau to look for them, but he has yet to return.” Yuwon looked to Nerala for advice. “Sarma could wait awhile longer if he liked, but he should leave today if at all possible. Taur says he senses a storm coming up from the west. It would be better to fly in fair weather,” Nerala stated. Sarma settled down on a rock and chatted with Nerala and Yuwon as they waited for some sign of Henau and the others. After two hours, Yuwon was pacing and worried. “Where did that boy get off to? Hani will be devastated if he loses Henau.” Yuwon continued to mutter to himself while Nerala and Sarma waited quietly. After another long hour passed, Taur walked into the cave. “Sarma, you really should leave now. If not now, then you’ll need to wait until this storm passes, which could take weeks,” Taur advised. “I believe Taur is right,” Nerala spoke. “As much as I know you want the chance to say goodbye to everyone, you should go now while you still can.” Yuwon frowned and looked sadly at Sarma. “Must he? Henau will be devastated if he finds he missed his goodbye,” Yuwon informed them. “Henau should have returned by now, Yuwon. Let us get Sarma on his way and Taur and I will scour the island for the boy,” Nerala assured Yuwon. Yuwon nodded solemnly and embraced Sarma in a farewell hug. “I hope to see you return soon my friend,” Yuwon murmured. “I hope the same,” Sarma smiled. He bid Nerala thanks and farewell and nodded a farewell to the mage Taur. With his words complete, he said goodbye one final time and boarded his ship. Alone again, he steered the boat from the cave and headed away, back across the sea to his home. Nerala’s improvements worked fine and he expected to reach Seridia by the next day. As the sun set below the horizon, Sarma curled up for the night. Content and with confidence in his heart, he lay down, trying to push from his mind the trouble he might encounter when he reached home. ° ° ° ° ° ° Sarma found himself in a dark cave. Nervous, he spun around. Thankfully he was alone, but where was he? Surely not a dream, this was far too real to be any dream. Yet only a moment ago, he had been falling asleep on his boat. Only a dream could have landed him in this dark room. “No dream Sarma, a vision of what is,” whispered a voice. Sarma frantically looked around, his pulse throbbing. “Who’s there?” he called, his voice came out quiet and croaking. “Do not be afraid, Sarma. No one will be able to see you. You are only here to learn, so that you may be prepared.” “Who are you?” demanded Sarma. “I am Aluwen, the goddess of life and protection. Be patient, Sarma, and finish your task. The gods of grace still walk with you.” Sarma gulped and looked around yet again, his eyes wide. He had tried to push the thought of gods from his mind when he was on Irilion, yet here he was swept up in some divine happenings. Strangely, knowledge that Aluwen had spoken to him eased his fear. He took the time to examine the room he was in. It was at the end of a tunnel, a large cushy chair sat behind a small desk. Littered around it were books and chests. Behind the chair a pool of lava bubbled eerily. Several bookshelves lined the walls as well. He was about to investigate some of the books when he heard footsteps in the tunnel. Sarma backed against the wall into the shadows despite Aluwen’s words that he would not be seen. As he stood hidden there, a quivering, skinny man walked down the tunnel. As he neared the desk, Sarma recognized him. It was Groden, but a much thinner, paler and sickly looking Groden than the one that Sarma had known only weeks before. Groden nervously flicked through some of the scrolls on the desk and then began to head toward the shelves. He froze in his tracks as a spine-chilling voice sounded in the room. “Groden!” it hissed. Groden immediately backed against the bookshelves terrified. Sitting on the chair was a dark figure glaring at the wan man. “Master Selain,” panted Groden. “I did as you asked. I gathered many of your followers from all around Whitestone, mages and fighters alike. All worshipers of you, though, they agreed to help. They’re honored to serve their god and would…” “Silence!” growled Selain. “I know what you’ve been up to. I’ve just come to remind you that you won’t be messing up this time!” “Of course not, Master, never would I mess up,” Groden quivered and watched Selain nervously. “NEVER?” roared Selain. “You already messed up! I gave you directions years ago to get rid of that gnome! But you being a weak mortal couldn’t even bring yourself to kill him! So you harassed him instead! Driving him to do the one thing I wanted prevented at all costs! Then, when I told you to stop him, you failed twice more!” “I’m sorry! I failed, I know! It won’t happen again! Not this time! No one will ever know Sarma even came back. We’ll kill him and burn his ship!” “Don’t underestimate him or his friends. That rotten elf Bridden already spoiled my plans enough times. Curse the servants of Aluwen.” Selain now seemed to be talking to himself. “Three different assassins I sent, one on her ship! She threw that one into the ocean. One in Arius! She had that one locked up! And then that orchan Narran killed the third right outside Sarma’s tent on Anitora! Curse that orchan; he’s the one that told Bridden about the first one. I should have known that his stupid appearance was just a show. Who would have thought that scum was a finely bred Lord and servant of Aluwen?” Selain was pacing now, his dark cloak fluttering about his heels. “Aluwen has hidden so much from me so easily! Curse her!” “Bridden sir? Narran? Whatever do you mean?” Groden had the stupidity to interrupt the god at his reminiscing and paid for it by getting thrown back against the bookshelves from which he had slowly been easing away. “Nothing that concerns you, mortal! All you have to do is kill Sarma when he gets back! Nothing more!” “Why do you want him dead so bad?” blurted Groden. “WHY?” Selain was outraged now, his plans had been going wrong for months, years, and this stupid mortal was interrogating him! The god of vice could not help but brag of his intentions some though, even to a hated mortal. “The people of Draia are better left separated,” Selain snarled. “Once they band together, they more easily thwart any horrible things I or my fellow gods might bring to them. Those accursed deities like Aluwen keep helping them, teaching them new things, better ways to survive against the hardships of the world! Mortals are better left dumb, more easily can we toy with their pitiful lives that way. If Seridia and Irilion link, knowledge will spread like wildfire! More ways to kill Mortos’s monsters, or the ones my devoted followers summon. More ways to heal the sick and injured I curse to die. No, you mortals are better left separated.” Selain would not elaborate anymore. Groden seemed to regret asking questions and shivered silently. “You had better not fail me this time, Groden. I gave you powers beyond your imagination! Abilities to summon creatures greater than you even knew existed! And yet you can’t kill one gnome. No more mistakes, Groden, no more!” With that, Selain vanished. Groden collapsed into a relieved pile on the ground and sighed. Sarma’s eyes were still locked open in wonder as he found himself sitting on his boat again. Sarma couldn’t believe it, all that he had just heard. But he needed to be prepared, he was going to have to fight off followers of Selain on his own, who knew how many. What was the point of being prepared for an attack if he had to face it alone the moment he reached Whitestone? “Don’t worry, Sarma, you’re not alone.” Sarma jumped to his feet and spun around. There, standing in the back of the ship, was Bridden. And not only Bridden, but also Narran, Annaeh, Assain, Taur, and Henau. “Mind if we join the fun?” grinned Annaeh. He and his brother were outfitted in shinning red dragon scale armor, dragon blades grasped in their hands. The others were outfitted for battle as well, except for Henau who seemed to have just tagged along for the adventure. “We not may be much, but we’re something,” Narran smiled at Sarma. “Sorry for tricking you about who I was, but the ruse was necessary. Selain didn’t look close enough and forgot to worry about a dumb fumbling orchan.” "But? how..." Sarma sputtered. "Taur you were even standing on Anitora as I left! How did you get on the ship?! How did any of you get here?" "Me? all it took was a teleport spell and Nerala's help distracting Yuwon for a few seconds. For the rest, they were invisible on the ship all that time you waited," Taur explained. "Why?" Sarma pressed. "Why hidden?" "Yuwon would never have let us leave with you. And Selain's spies were watching as well. It was a bit of a risk, but we knew you'd need our help," Bridden said. “Aluwen be with us,” Assain whispered. “This is going to be one tough fight.”
  13. Port Anitora and the Dragon ship

    Chapter 4 To Fly “Sarma, Sarma!” Clark’s voice broke through the darkness and Sarma’s eyes cracked open. “What on earth happened?!” Clark yelled as soon as he saw Sarma was conscious. “Clark! Oh dear, you’re back? I’ve been out that long?” Sarma was shocked. “How long? When did this happen? What happened?” Clark was horribly concerned, Sarma tried to explain what happened as Clark listened intently. “Aluwen have mercy! A ghost?” Clark exclaimed as Sarma finished. “I guess that was what it was; by all appearances, it was the ghost of The Slayer.” “Amazing, but he didn’t harm you at all? Just scared away Groden?” “No, never touched me, and he sure scared off Groden. Then he blessed me in the name of the gods!” “Oh what I would have given to be here! The spirit of The Slayer himself, how lucky you are my friend!” “I would have gladly traded places with you. It was frightening!” “Here, drink this.” Clark handed Sarma a vial. “It may taste foul, but it will help you feel better.” Obediently Sarma downed the bottle's contents. It had a bitter taste, yet he began to feel his strength return right away. “There, better?” smiled Clark. “Yes, thank you.” Sarma nodded and hauled his body to its feet. He stretched his limbs out; lying in the dust for over a day had been quite uncomfortable. He wondered why he had not awakened sooner. Clark watched, concern evident on his face, as Sarma looked over the ship. Sarma seemed well enough, however, and Clark joined him next to the ship. “Are you ready, then, to make this thing fly?” asked Sarma. “I suppose. I really am not all too sure what I’m doing and I have no idea how long it will take,” admitted Clark. Clark walked silently over to the boat; he stooped to the ground and grabbed a book that sat near the ship’s hull. Flipping through the pages, he looked for something. At last he stopped and started reading to himself. Sarma let him be and took a stroll around the cave. He gave the wall with The Slayer’s coffin a wide berth. Helpful or not, ghosts were creepy. Sarma glanced back at Clark who was still reading and exited the cave. Sitting down on the sandy shore he looked toward the mainland. Am I ready for this? He thought to himself. Am I really going to leave behind everything I know in search of a land that is likely a myth? Picking up a small stick, he scratched the sand with it as he thought about the prospects of his trip. He wasn’t leaving behind much. But this was all too much for him, an appearance of a ghost, the blessing of the gods, the knowledge that whatever he did would have lasting effects on the world. He had just wanted to get away from the persecution of his home. At first the idea of leaving was not really with a goal for getting anywhere, it was more of a suicidal mission in order to make himself feel like he would die doing something noble. Now, Clark was casting spells to make a ship fly, perhaps he would actually make it through this. Do I want to make it through this? Sarma stood and looked at the mainland again, then turned and walked into the cave. There was no backing out now, he would go, and what would come would come. “Ready yet Clark?” shouted Sarma to his friend who was in the boat. Clark’s head peered out of the vessel. “Nearly, I’m trying to set up the proper equipment so you can steer this dragon.” Sarma sat against the cave wall and watched the boat quietly as he listened to Clark rummaging around inside. There was a flash of green light and Clark yelped. Sarma jumped up worried. “Clark?” Sarma yelled. “I’m alright, rudimentary mistake, not to worry,” Clark replied quickly. Sarma was concerned, yet there was really nothing he could do. It was all up to Clark now. A few more minutes passed and Clark continued to scramble throughout the boat. Finally he went to the front and sat down. Sarma could just make him out through the one glass window they had put into the ship. Clark laid his hands on the boat on either side of him then began to murmur something under his breath.The book he had been looking at earlier was now in front of him as he read whatever ancient spells the pages revealed. This continued for several minutes before suddenly the entire vessel flared red for several seconds, the light then faded to orange and eventually the glow was gone all together. The boat sat looking just as it had before. Clark jumped out of the boat as his spell was completed. “I think I did it!” he said with glee. “You think?” Sarma questioned a little unsure. “I did it,” Clark said with more confidence. “This boat will now fly. For how long or how far, I do not know I’m afraid. Nor do I know how fast. This was an ancient spell not used for centuries. I can only hope it will work well enough to get you to Irillion.” “So how do I fly it?” asked Sarma confused. “Come here, its quite simple,” Clark scrambled back into the boat and Sarma followed. “I have connected the entire spell to this orb here,” Clark pointed to a small round glowing ball that lay in a hollowed out circle on the floor. The orb was only a little bigger than a fist. “Place your hand on the orb,” instructed Clark. Sarma hesitated and then reluctantly placed his hand on the orb. His fingers tingled and he yanked away. “It is alright, it won’t hurt you,” laughed Clark. Sarma smiled nervously and put his hand down again. “Perfect, now all you have to do is move the orb. There is an invisible circle of magic enclosing the orb that it can’t leave. Just image that orb as the boat, you move it up, the boat goes up, you move it forward the boat goes forward. Understand?” “Yes, I suppose. How in the world did you do this?” Clark only winked, then backed out of the vessel. Sarma followed and they stood looking at it. “When do you leave Sarma?” asked Clark. Sarma noticed a hint of sadness in his friend’s voice. “Can’t you come with me?” Sarma questioned quietly. “I’d love to, but I just can’t. Unlike you I have responsibilities here on Seridia. You did not answer my question, when do you leave?” Sarma looked around for several moments thinking about it. He knew Clark would appriciate Sarma staying another night or two allowing the two of them time to talk and say goodbye. That's not what Sarma wanted though, he wanted to leave and explore as soon as possible. Finally, Sarma answered. "Tomorrow morning," he said. "I want a chance to rest before I rush away." Clark smiled relieved; he had thought Sarma would leave right away without spending time on proper farewells. “I loaded your supplies onto the ship while you were out,” spoke Clark. “I see you have enough for only a week,” “Yes, I don’t want to be floating around in the middle of nowhere for any more than that. If I don't make it by then, I doubt I will have any desire to go on, and likely let my journey end.” Clark frowned but said nothing. He and Sarma spent the rest of the day talking, reminiscing on the time they had spent together. The two had met long ago; Clark had been staying with his friend who owned the magic shop in Whitestone City. Sarma had run into him at a tavern and the two had struck up a conversation. They were instant friends and sent letters back and forth when Clark was at home in Portland. Sarma had traveled to Clark’s home in Portland once and learned Clark’s daily life at his magic shop. Sarma had been with Clark as he tried many different new spells and stood by his friend when Clark tried to teach them to residents of Portland. By far one of the most memorable times for both of them was when they had traveled to the city of Corren. The two had spent the night in the tavern and always remembered getting kicked out after they had gotten drunk and started singing. It was sad to relive so many memories and know that they would soon be parting, perhaps forever. When morning finally came and Clark was ready to bid Sarma goodbye, he had very little to say. “Goodbye my friend, I pray that you will return to tell me of the wonderful lands you have discovered,” he said sadly. “I hope the same, Clark. Goodbye. I can’t begin to thank you for all you have done,” Sarma smiled. “Oh, there is one more thing you can’t forget!” Clark gestured to the coffin. “Ah, yes, of course. Help me get it into the ship will you?” Clark and Sarma carried the coffin into the boat and set it down. “More than likely the old Slayer will have his final resting place at the bottom of the sea.” “Don’t be so pessimistic Sarma! You have the blessing of the gods!” “I suppose I do.” Sarma embraced his old friend in a final farewell. “Goodbye, Sarma,” whispered Clark as he left the ship. He walked around to the front of it and pushed open the huge wooden doors that seperated the cavern from the sea. They were bewitched to be light enough for one man, or gnome, to open. Sarma placed his hand on the small orb and lifted it up, then pushed it forward. He held his breath in amazement as the boat rose slightly into the air and then moved slowly forward. He steered it cautiously from the cave. Clark stood in the cave still a hand up in farewell. Sarma returned the gesture then pushed the orb higher. The boat rose into the air further. Sarma nudged the orb farther forward this time and it went faster, heading away from the island, away from Seridia! Sarma began to laugh as the amazing structure glided above the water. A sudden elation came over him as he realized that he was actually flying. “I’m flying,” he said to himself with joy. He yelled it aloud to the air, a huge smile on his face. “I’m flying!” Chapter 5 Anitora Sarma sat in the boat for a while, staring out the one small window, fascinated and hypnotized by the water below him. After some time though, the excitement began to wear off. He paced the insides of the ship impatiently. The boat had been made huge in order to incorporate the entire dragon skeleton, many people could have come with Sarma, there was plenty of room. As the hours passed, he grew hot and uncomfortable. The boat continued to glide forward. He didn’t really know where he was going, yet he had pushed the orb as far forward as it would go and the ship seemed to be flying as fast as it could. He began to become more and more aware of The Slayer's coffin, in the boat. He had shoved it to the rear of the vessel, yet still its presence was ominous. Slowly the sun slipped below the horizon and night fell. Sarma wrapped himself in a blanket and tried to sleep. He did not succeed, though. The motion of the ship drove him mad and he kept waking in fear that the boat would suddenly fall from the sky. The darkness made the coffin all the more frightening as it lay there, silent in the back of the ship. Sarma tossed and turned throughout the long night, then rose as soon as the first glimmer of sun reached the ship. He paced back and forth; occasionally adjusting the small orb, making sure it was as far forward as it would go. As another day passed and night fell again Sarma grew even more impatient. How long would this pointless mission last until it was finally all over? Absolute depression seemed to have finally taken over him. He stopped eating, he wasn’t hungry anymore, he gave up trying to sleep the next night and just stared, hollow-eyed, at the wall. Soon, he became so exhausted that he fell asleep at last. ° ° ° ° ° ° Sarma heard a crash and jolted awake. Jumping to his feet he started to look around, only to be knocked to the deck again. Peering out of the one small glass window, he saw darkness and rain beating in heavy sheets against the roaring ocean. A flash of lightning provided light to the boat for a moment, in which Sarma saw that the coffin had rolled to the other side of the ship. He scrambled to the window again and looked down. The water was far closer than it had been before and waves were leaping up toward the vessel’s hull. He watched as lightning struck nearby, discharging its energy into the water. Panicked and terrified he crawled to the front of the ship. He reached his hand out toward the orb to pull it up, but jerked back in surprise as his fingers slid across it. The orb was too hot to touch. Frantically Sarma ripped off his shirt and wrapped it around his hand, he reached out again to grab the orb, yet before he could touch it a wave smashed into the side of the ship. He rolled backwards to the rear of the ship, which was now lower than the front. The wave had broken the window and washed water in. He tried to crawl back up to the orb again and slipped. Another wave crashed against the side of the vessel allowing more water to pour in. Sarma sputtered as the icy cold salt water poured over his head. He looked to the front of the ship toward the orb. As he watched the orb glowed red and then fell to the floor of the ship. Sarma lurched forward as the vessel took a nosedive into the water. The coffin rolled past him and smashed into the area where the orb had been. Sarma winced as he saw small glass pieces fly out from under it. Water was now flowing freely through the window, and Sarma cursed himself for allowing Clark to add it. Seized by one final desperate idea, Sarma stood and held the wall as he made his way to the coffin. Upon reaching it, he used his last reserves of energy to haul it up, and lay it on its side so it blocked the window. Sarma collapsed against it putting all his weight toward keeping it pressed hard against the small round hole. Water sloshed about his feet as the ship, now floating in the ocean, was tossed this way and that. Several times Sarma was thrown forward or to the side, and he was forced to reposition the coffin as more water flowed in. All thoughts of just dying on this journey had vanished. There was no way he was going to give up, not after all the work he had done. Sarma had no idea how long he sat there, fighting the pressure of the waves beating against the coffin. The storm raged on outside, lightning flashed and he could just barely make out the thunder over the roar of the waves and the constant pounding of the rain. He was soaked; his hair fell in his eyes dripping salt water onto his nose. He couldn’t recall ever being as uncomfortable as he was then in his whole life. In the end, the storm began to calm. Sarma shivered from cold as the waves slowly calmed and the rain stopped. He thanked the gods that the storm had been short and had passed over him swiftly. As light came and he was able to pull the coffin away from the window, he looked outside again. The water, when it was calm, sloshed several feet below the window. He rumaged around his ship, hungry at last, only to discover all his food had been saturated with water. He deeply regretted the fact he had not eaten the day before the storm. He sat there on the gently rocking boat for the entire morning and most of the afternoon. His stomach grumbled and ached; yet Sarma was not going to even attempt eating any of his soggy food. He drank greedily from the barrel of fresh water he had brought and that assuaged his hunger somewhat. Unfortunately, it was only liquid; not food. Afternoon dragged on; abruptly Sarma felt a jolt, as if the boat had hit something. Surprised he searched outside the window. All he saw was water. He sat still for awhile, the boat did not move at all. He began to realize what had happened. He must have hit land! Excited, he clambered up the ladder he and Clark had carved into the side of the ship. Unlatching the door on the top, he crawled out. Outside, on the opposite side of the ship from the window, was land. Whooping with joy, he scrambled down the ladder carved into the ship's exterior and looked around. Upon looking around he decided his situation had not improved. The island that he had landed on was small, two others lay nearby. Quickly he walked around and reasoned that the largest was the one his ship had run aground on. Then there was another to the west, which was smaller, and a third to the south of the second. The last one was mostly just a huge lump of rock from what he could tell. The other two were naught but sandy ground with a few trees and some grassy bushes. Disappointed, he searched the trees hoping for some sort of fruit. To his dismay, he located nothing. When he searched more thoroughly across the island, a rock toward the east side of the island caught his attention. Engraved on it was the word ‘Anitora’. The evidence that someone had set foot on the island before only raised his spirits for a short while. As night fell, he settled down in his still-damp blankets near the rock. The small sign of intelligence, of a presence, of something not a beast, having been there at some point, gave him hope. He lay there in the darkness reasoning that Anitora was likely the name of the islands. He thought about the word in his head searching for some meaning, but he continually came back to it being the island’s name. Tired and still hungry, he let it fade from his mind and slowly he fell asleep on the islands of Anitora. Chapter 6 Rescue The night he spent on the island was the first good night’s sleep he’d had since leaving. He awoke at sunrise feeling well rested despite his still grumbling stomach. This was now his third day without food and his stomach was not the only thing affected. Sleep notwithstanding, he was weary and exhausted. Sarma's body had run out of energy to fuel itself and he spent most of the day huddled near the rock. The sun slowly crept above the horizon as he stared blankly out to sea, hoping against hope that some ship would come for him. Morning slipped into afternoon, and he chewed on grass roots praying they would bring some sort of nutrition. Night began to fall and his vision blurred. He had never been so long without food. Staring blankly at the fuzzy horizon, he thought back to his hasty departure. What if he had spent another day with Clark? Would he never have run into the storm? What if he had made his original boat, would he have sailed happily by this island without a care, ready to reach Irillion? His eye’s drooped as he sat there. Jerking fully awake, he stared out to sea. Blinking furiously he tried to clear the blur from his vision. At last he could see well enough to determine it had not been a dream. There, out on the ocean, was a light. Light could only be coming from a passing boat. Stumbling wearily to his feet, he watched its movement. It was coming from the northeast and seemed to be altering its heading to the southeast. Sarma hoped its arch would bring it close to the island. Quickly he looked around and discovered a small bunch of dry grass. Plucking it from the ground, he quickly threw it in a pile, then ran and pulled down palm fronds from some of the shorter trees. He peeled off strips of bark as well and threw it all in a pile with the grass. Then he grabbed a flint and steel from his pack and struck it together furiously. He had never lit a fire that way before, but that sure wasn’t going to stop him now; there was a first for everything. Eventually, a spark flew into the grass and caught fire. Delighted with his success, Sarma darted around gathering anything he thought would burn and threw it on the pile. He had half a mind to pry some boards from the ship, except he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Following the creation of his fire, he proceeded to use what energy he had to jump up and down and yell. Subsequently, the ship seemed to shift course slightly. He watched with glee as he realized it was indeed coming toward Anitora now. Soon a rowboat was headed for shore. Sarma couldn’t make out the figure aboard the boat in the darkness, yet despite the lack of light the figure created him warmly like an old friend. “Well, didn’t expect to find a poor shipwrecked soul out here. And a gnome no less! Lucky for ye we’re heading straight to Arius from this here little island!” said the figure that greeted him. Sarma nodded and smiled with no idea what he was talking about. As he rowed them back toward the boat, the person continued to chatter. “We’re making the long run from Melinis around the coast to Arius see? It’s not commonly used, but ol’ captain Bridden likes the route, so we takes it. Ye should always do what Bridden says if yur on her ship, right you should,” Sarma ignored most of the meaningless words, only stared ahead at the boat. Food, people, warmth, that was all he could think of. Soon enough he was climbing a rope ladder up the side of the boat. A tall female elf walked up to him as he staggered onto the deck of the ship. “Whoa there little fellow, are you alright?” “Not really,” croaked Sarma, at last finding his voice. “What do you need? Food? Water? Or maybe just rest? Name it sir and it’s yours,” Smiled the elf. “Food, if you please,” murmured Sarma. “Oi!” shouted the person that had helped him to the boat. “You heard the gnome! He be needing food! Get it for him!” Sarma registered vaguely that several crewmembers scrambled around, then they brought something to the figure who had rowed him to the ship. “Here ye go little gnome, eat up,” Sarma turned to accept a loaf of bread and an apple from the man, yet the food dropped from his hands as he realized it was not a human. Smiling down at him was a tall green skinned figure; it had no hair, and a black beard. The most shocking thing was the two fangs on its lower jaw. “Alright there?” questioned the female elf again. “What, what are you?” stammered Sarma to the figure. “Well I’m an Orchan, obviously! Ain’t you ever saw one?” laughed the figure. “No, no I haven’t. I don’t even know what that is,” spoke Sarma. “Don’t know what that is? Well that be mighty strange, how could ye not know what an Orchan is? I confess I’m not yer average one, what with my strange speech and talkative manner, I be an Orchan though I assure ya,” he responded, with more laughter. Shivering from the cold breeze, Sarma retrieved the bread from the deck and ate the entire loaf in under a minute. “Hang on there sir, that’s no good for you!” the female elf grabbed his arm as he started in on the apple. “The poor guy’s starving to death Bridden! Do you think there is more on the island?” asked the Orchan. “I don’t know,” replied the elf, which was apparently captain Bridden. She turned and shouted to her crew. “Drop anchor folks and send a search party to the island. We’ll spend the night here and make sure there isn’t anybody else out there.” The crew nodded and hurried to obey their captain’s orders. “Come here, sir, what’s your name?” questioned Bridden. “Sarma,” he replied as his teeth chattered. Bridden raised her eyebrows, apparently surprised at the name, but said nothing. “Well then, come on. We have a few nice passenger quarters below deck." She guided Sarma down to a small cabin. Despite its size, it worked for Sarma. It had a warm bed and Bridden promised that there would be more food waiting for him when he awoke. She left and proceeded to the deck where she shouted several more orders to her crew. Sarma didn’t hear; he was already falling asleep. It barely registered that he had likely discovered residents of Irilion, or at least some other continent. Had he been well fed and rested he would have been overjoyed and asked the people a thousand questions. He was neither well fed nor rested though and he was going to fix those things first. He fell asleep, oblivious to the fact he was the first Seridian to make contact with people of Irilion in centuries. ° ° ° ° ° ° He awoke sometime later to find food next to his bed as promised. Eating quickly, he filled his empty stomach. As he finished, he heard yells above him. He set down his plate and made his way above deck. “’Morning Sarma,” smiled the Orchan as he past him. “Me name's Narran by the way,” he smiled. Sarma nodded and looked around for Bridden, the captain. He spotted her coming over the side of the ship from the shore. “Sarma,” she smiled as she saw him. “Feeling alright?” “Yes, thank you,” responded Sarma. He was about to ask her several questions but she interrupted. “We looked around the island there, didn’t find anybody else. Were you alone on your voyage?” She asked. “Yes, yes I was,” “That’s a curious ship you have there, looks to be very beat up sadly. I suppose you probably had a run in with a storm?” “Yes.” “Well, we are about to weigh anchor and continue toward Arius now. If there is anything you want on that island, speak now.” “The coffin; I need the coffin! Is it still there?” “Yeah, it is. Why do you care about that coffin?” “I-” “Never mind, we’ll hear your story later. I want to get away from the island while the wind is still good. Narran, Heitu, get the coffin quickly please!” Narran and a young human nodded and clambered down into the little boat. Sarma watched as they slowly rowed back toward shore. “Please wait in my cabin, Sarma. Once we are off, I’ll hear your tale,” requested Bridden. Sarma made his way across the deck and entered the cabin she had pointed toward. It was small, like everything on boats was; yet it was cozy. He sat down at a table in the center of the room and looked around. The maps that decorated the walls were completely unfamiliar to him. He stood and examined them. Upon closer investigation, he found one that depicted an entire continent. Written in the ocean at the edges in bold print and capital letters, was IRILION. “By the gods, I actually made it. I’m here,” he breathed. “What?” Bridden had just entered the cabin and had heard him murmuring to himself. “So, this is Irilion?” asked Sarma excitedly. “Er, yes, what else would it be?” Bridden was puzzled. “Who are you?” she asked puzzled. “And where are you from?” “I am Sarma the gnome, from Seridia!” “Seridia?” shouted Narran who he had just entered the cabin. “Ye mean to say you sailed here all the way from Seridia!” “I didn’t sail, I flew,” stated Sarma. Bridden stood shocked and looked to Narran. “Aluwen help us, you don’t think?” she started. “No, no he couldn’t be!” said Narran. “But the name!” “That was years ago.” “And he flew!” “Yes, but...” Sarma interrupted the two before they could continue. “What is it? What are you two talking about?” he yelled. “How old are you Sarma?” questioned Bridden. “Not much past 30. Why do you ask?” he answered, still very confused. “There you have it Bridden! It can’t be him, he’d have to be hundreds of years old!” spoke Narran. “Tell us the whole story, will you Sarma?” asked Bridden kindly. “The whole story?” sighed Sarma. “Yes, where you came from and how you got here.” “Alright, it’s a bit of a tale, but I’ll go through what is important.” Sarma, Bridden, and Narran all sat down at the table. Sarma began to explain to them what had happened, and how he had gotten to Anitora. Chapter 7 Arius Bridden and Narran had been shocked by Sarma’s tale. They asked a thousand questions during the trip to Arius. Why did he leave? Were there gnomes and orchans on Seridia? How about draegoni? elves? What did people eat? What did they wear? How did they live? Sarma tried to answer all their inquiries as best he could. Before he knew it, he heard the look out shouting that he had spotted Arius. Sarma was nervous. He was about to step off the boat into a city of gnomes: an entire city of them! What were they like? He was also nervous how the people of Irilion would treat him. Bridden and Narran seemed nice, yet as he observed Bridden’s ship, he realized they were practically pirates. When he had asked Bridden about whether her ship ever took part in illegal activities, Bridden had laughed and asked what Sarma considered illegal. After a moment of confused silence Bridden said that she indeed had bent laws before, but never attacked people or ships. All that brought him back to the question, would he be welcomed? Perhaps they would treat him as an honored guest; an ambassador from a far off land. Or maybe they would shun him; be appalled at some difference in his ways or speech. Sarma wasn’t sure which would be worse. Sarma ran out of time to consider what would happen; the boat was now at the docks. He stared in wonder at the city as Bridden’s crew jumped from the boat and began tying the ship to the docks. The city before him was stunning. As he looked around, he couldn't help but note how right everything seemed. Rather than the large doorways and houses of humans in Whitestone, everything was sized perfectly for gnomes. The structures were all round and friendly looking with sturdy brick walls. Rising from the center of the city, very near to the shore, was a large palatial building. “Is that the castle?” Sarma asked Narran. “Castle?” Narran let out a laugh. “No, that be the magic school, one of the finest on Irilion. Are there magic schools on Seridia?” “Yes, the one in Tarsengaard is the largest.” “Tarsengaard? There is really a Tarsengaard magic school? Well, I’ll be. Mayhap this here world isn’t so full of myths after all, maybe they all be true!” “So who is in charge of the gnomes? Have they got a king? or an Emperor?” “The gnomes elect a governor for life, who is supported by a small group of advisors. Most areas have groups of elders that are in charge as well. Gnomish government is very loose; there is little crime and only minor disagreements. The governor or the elders handle whatever problems do pop up,” Bridden replied to Sarma's question as she walked up. “Now are you two slackers prepared to disembark?” “Yes ma’am,” Narran replied with a grin. “Good, I sent a runner ahead to announce the presence of our dear guest Sarma, so be warned sir, you may have a welcoming party,” Bridden winked at Sarma. “Welcoming party?” croaked Sarma. Bridden and Narran laughed. “Captain!” a shout came from across the deck. “What do you want us to do with the coffin?” “Leave it in the hold,” responded Bridden. The man across the deck nodded. Sarma watched as he darted below deck then returned with a bag and left the ship. As Sarma looked around he realized most of the crew had now disembarked onto the bustling docks. “Well Sarma? Are you ready to step into a whole new world?” laughed Bridden. “No, but I’ll have to soon enough, might as well do it now,” Sarma drew in a breath and stepped off of the boat onto the gangplank. He was immediately immersed into a chaotic crowd. Bridden slipped around him and led him up a ladder off the docks and into the main city. He passed a small marketplace to his left then, before he knew it, was standing on the steps of the magic school. Rather than leading him inside, Bridden turned and motioned him to follow down a flight of stairs into the heart of the city. A beautiful fountain splashed in the center of the square. Houses and shops dotted the borders and trees grew in grassy areas. Sarma watched as people sat on benches, sold things, bought things, laughed with friends. And they were all gnomes! Nobody was discriminated against, since they were all short gnomes. He got the feeling these people wouldn’t have cared if he were twenty feet tall though. As he stepped into the square, a fine looking gnome walked toward him followed by a group of attendants and curious people. “Is this our amazing visitor?” shouted the gnome over the crowd. “It is Governor Yuwon,” said Bridden with a bow. The gnome, Governor Yuwon, strode forward and grabbed Sarma’s hand. As he shook it he smiled. “I am the Governor of our humble city of Arius. An incredible pleasure to meet you sir, I cannot wait to hear your story. I’m sure you are curious about us as well though. Oh, this is wonderful; there haven’t been ties between our two continents for a very long time. Do you think it is possible for you to get back? And bring more people here?” Yuwon was obviously thrilled by his visit and didn’t know what to say first. Sarma smiled and responded. “It is an honor to be here, sir, I cannot wait to share with you about my own continent and learn more about yours. I would much appreciate it though, if such sharing of information was done in a quieter place. Rather than yelling over the noise in the heart of your fine city.” “Oh please call me Yuwon. And of course, of course; we can find some place better to talk. I’d like you to stay with me at my own house here in the city, would you enjoy that?” “I suppose I would, sir, but where will captain Bridden and her crew be lodging? I have come to know them and enjoy their company.” Bridden smiled widely at Yuwon from Sarma’s side and Yuwon looked slightly flustered. Either he disliked Bridden, or he wanted the gnomes to be the sole race to welcome Sarma to this continent. “They, they are their own people. I know not where they stay,” said Yuwon. “Well, sir, why don’t they lodge with you as well? I’m sure you have a wonderfully large home. Let us share it with the people who helped me get here to Arius. Perhaps it could be a 'thank-you' that they brought me here rather than to perhaps the Idal empire.” Sarma had no idea what the Idal empire was; he had only seen it on Bridden’s map, but apparently him being a guest of the Idal empire would have been a very bad thing, for Yuwon suddenly smiled. “You are right, little gnome. They did bring you here. Perhaps Bridden does harbor some loyalty to our little Gnomish land after all,” Yuwon said. “I do, Yuwon, I always have. Perhaps now you will believe me,” Bridden smirked. “Let us stop this senseless chatter in the streets. Come, we will go to my house. Indeed there is room for many there, invite your crew Bridden, invite your friends,” Yuwon smiled widely and led Sarma away into the crowds. ° ° ° ° ° ° At long last Yuwon, Sarma, another gnome who was one of Yuwon's advisors, and Bridden sat at a low round table in Yuwon’s house. Sarma had insisted on Bridden’s presence. As they were served mugs of hot tea Yuwon spoke. “Now, my friend, I have yet to learn your name.” Sarma hesitated. His name had earned a strange reaction from Narran and Bridden. They had never told him what they had been talking about. “Sarma,” he replied finally. Yuwon and the other gnome, Hani, gasped. “Sarma?” sputtered Hani. “Does that mean you… that you’re?” Hani seemed to think Sarma would know what he was talking about. “I don’t understand what you mean. Bridden and Narran had the same reaction to my name. Would you kindly explain what you mean?” Sarma questioned. Yuwon cleared his throat. “Well, long ago, there was an incredible engineer in this city known as LaForge. He built many things, including most of this city. One day, long ago, he set out from our shores in search of a new land. He was accompanied by his brother, Sarma.” Sarma gaped at Yuwon for a moment. Several things fell into place in his head and he turned swiftly to Bridden. “Bridden, I need the coffin in here as soon as you can get it,” Sarma whispered. Bridden nodded and darted out the door, then came back a minute later. “Narran is on his way to fetch it. Why do you need it?” she questioned. Sarma shook his head, and then turned to the gnomes. “Forgive me, sirs, I need to check something. While we wait, though, I can assure you that that was not I. My mother washed up on the shores of Seridia pregnant and alone. I was named Sarma because of a necklace she wore bearing that name. I still have that necklace with me.” Slowly Sarma reached into his pocket and pulled out the necklace; he had always kept it with him. Bridden, Yuwon and Hani all stared at the necklace. “That belonged to Bella of Kyriban. She fell overboard in a boat that sailed past Anitora in an attempt to find Seridia. The boat returned bearing news of her death. She had been the wife of one of the men on the ship. She had also been the last living descendent of Sarma,” whispered Hani. “You knew her well?” asked Sarma. “Her husband was my brother,” Hani croaked. “Was?” Sarma asked. “He threw himself into the sea after he returned from the voyage,” Hani explained sadly. There was a moment of silence then the door opened. Narran walked in bearing the coffin with the help of another crewmember. They dropped it onto the floor then left. “What is that?” yelled Yuwon. Sarma did not respond but bent down and felt the edges of the coffin. Feeling the rusted latch, he pried it slowly open. He stared in amazement at the coffin’s contents; an ancient skeleton, its flesh and clothes long gone. But there were some metal and old jewelry sitting in the coffin along with a sword. The sheath seemed to have fallen apart, but the sword, though old, was still intact. Sarma picked up the sword, and brushed years of dust from the hilt. Some odd runes were engraved on it. He held up the sword to the light and then handed it to Hani. “Do those runes mean anything to you?” Hani’s eyes opened wide in wonder. “Yes, yes they do. They spell 'Sarma'.” Chapter 8 Times are Changing “Wow, this is an amazing sword,” Henau, Hani’s son, whispered in awe to Sarma. It was the day after Sarma’s arrival on the island and he had shown the weapon to the curious young gnome. “Yuwon and your father seemed very appalled by it,” Sarma said. “Well, obviously. Wherever you were raised, you ended up rather different from us gnomes of Arius, no offense meant,” Henau replied. “We are a peace-loving folk. We don’t have warriors or weapons and the only things we ever use to defend ourselves are things we have engineered. And since we hardly ever need to defend ourselves, we live in peace with the other races and animals.” “Why was Sarma a warrior, then? He slew a dragon, he definitely wasn’t an inexperienced fighter.” “According to the legends, Sarma was always a little different. He had an unnatural interest in weapons and fighting. He was also a talented mage, yet rather than study the peaceful magic most gnomes practiced, he studied dangerous magic; magic for fighting, and defense in battle, magic to kill.” “I’m guessing your people didn’t take well to his interests?” “No, he was not liked by the general populace. His only friends were his brother and the gnome Seray, who became his wife.” “That’s why he left with his brother? To get away?” Sarma was amazed at how similar he seemed to be to his ancestor and namesake. “Yes. He thought he would leave with his wife and brother and go on some grand and noble venture to mysterious and dangerous lands. Things did not go as planned. Seray disagreed with him on his desire to leave and refused to accompany him. In anger, Sarma left quickly with his brother. I have always wondered if he regretted abandoning his wife.” Sarma spent long hours with Henau. His cousin was very intriguing. Henau was only 18, but very smart and fascinated with the idea of Sarma’s flying dragon ship. The young gnome was also slightly different from the rest of his people. He was genuinely a peaceful young man, yet he loved to learn and explore. There were maps drawn by Henau that decorated the walls of his room; maps of Arius as well as maps of other regions on Irilion. ° ° ° ° ° ° Henau looked up suddenly from a book he was reading in his house’s library. Because Sarma was a relative of Hani, he had stayed with his family. Sarma sat nearby in the library reading a book called Irilion: Its Legends and History. Henau walked over to Sarma. “Sarma, I think I know how to fix your ship.” “What? Are you serious? It can be fixed?” Sarma was ecstatic, he wanted so badly to return to Seridia and prove to the people there the great accomplishment he had made. “I’m not positive it will work.” Henau continued. “I’ve been considering what you explained as far as what you know that Clark did and what happened that caused the spell to fail.” “You know what spell he used?” “I believe so. It was a rudimentary form of a spell we have advanced much further now. He doubtless found it in some book of Sarma’s. The spell is very similar to what it was in Sarma's time. Our mages have perfected it; I believe someone from the magic school would be able to cast it. Perhaps Grandmaster Nerala would even agree to help you. Not only will it fix it, it will make it faster and the spell will be much stronger; likely permanent unless removed by another mage.” “How does one request the assistance of the grandmaster?” “Oh, don’t worry. We don’t have to, Yuwon will for us,” Henau smiled broadly. More excited than Sarma could even describe, he and Henau left the house to find Yuwon. They located him in his own house on the other side of Arius City. “You sure about this Henau? I don’t want to disturb the Grandmaster over nothing,” Yuwon questioned. “I’m sure, this is the only spell that would do anything like what Sarma’s friend Clark did. It has to be this spell. And even if it wasn’t this spell originally, Grandmaster Nerala could cast this on the boat and it wouldn’t matter what the first spell was.” Henau shifted from foot to foot while Yuwon considered his words. “Very well. I will speak to Nerala on this matter and find out if she is willing to help. If she is, then you will sail to Anitora with Bridden and her crew. Bridden is restless; she has remained here in order to keep an eye on you, Sarma. I’m sure she would be delighted to take you back to Anitora and I would like to accompany you as well. Doubtless Bridden has already sent out messages to her contacts among the races to notify them of your presence. I want to meet with the diplomats they have already sent to Anitora,” Yuwon told them. Sarma was disappointed to hear that he would not be included in Yuwon’s meeting with Nerala. He sulked in Hani’s luxurious house for the next day, bored and anxious. At long last, a runner arrived at the house with a message for Sarma. It was a note from Yuwon. Nerala has agreed to help you and will sail with us to Anitora along with a young human mage from the school. I have already spoken with Bridden and she said her crew could be ready to sail by morning. Unfortunately, her eagerness to leave is not matched by Nerala, who has matters to attend to. Nerala has promised she will be ready to sail for Anitora in six days. -Yuwon “Six days?” Henau cried, as he finished reading the note. “I know. I don’t know if I can stand to wait that long.” Sarma accepted the note back from Henau as Hani walked into the room. “Did Nerala agree to help?” Hani asked. “Yes. She won’t be ready to leave for six whole days, though. What can she possibly have to do that will take six days?” Henau pouted. “Oh stop it, Henau. You must learn patience. Besides, your mother is returning from her cousin’s in Hurquin in two days. That will give you plenty of time to explain what’s happened,” Hani pointed out. “And convince her to let me go to Seridia with Sarma?” Henau smiled hopefully at his father. Sarma quietly slipped out of the room as Hani began to list the many reasons he would never allow his only child to travel to Seridia. Once Sarma was in the library he found his book and began reading again. It was going to be a long six days. ° ° ° ° ° ° During the journey back to Anitora, Sarma considered what Yuwon had said about other races sending emissaries to Anitora. He had nearly forgotten how much effect this event would have on the entire continent of Irilion. They might be able to conduct trade with Seridia after years of separation. All the races would want to meet him, to hear his tale as Yuwon and Hani had. Sarma wasn’t sure how many retellings he was up to and he had no idea what the other races' reaction to him would be. What if some of them saw a connection to Seridia as a threat? The Grandmaster, Nerala, was given thought on the voyage as well. She was not a gnome, as Sarma had expected, but an orchan. He was very curious as to why an orchan was living in the magic school on a gnomish island. Too embarrassed to ask what he thought would be a stupid question, he was left to dwell on it. Once he set foot on Anitora again, all those matters vanished from his mind. An entire village of tents seemed to have sprung up in his absence. While the small party found their way through the confusion, Sarma spotted many races. Elves, dwarves, humans, orchans, gnomes, and a tall and imposing dragon-like race flitted about between the temporary houses. “Draegoni,” Henau murmured in Sarma’s ear as they followed Yuwon through the maze of tents. “What?” Sarma asked. “The tall folk you were staring at. They are draegoni, said to be descendants of the dragon god. There are a variety of different colored scales and horns they possess,” Sarma stared at one as Henau began to explain more. The draegoni he watched had blue hair and a beard. Small white horns protruded near his large, almost bat-like, ears. Several white scales glittered on his hands and face as well. “They live in the south,” Henau was explaining as they walked on. “In the cold island areas, they are a proud race with several grand cities.” Henau’s explanation was cut short as the small group reached the gap between the two main isles. A bridge had been constructed between them and there were short pillars in the water on either side. “What makes you think you have the right to construct statues of your heroes here?” demanded a draegoni. Sarma realized it was the one he had noticed only a few minutes before, an identical one stood beside him. “This will likely be a thriving market soon, belonging to all the countries and races of Irilion. I only wanted to leave the mark of my people,” responded a human. He had short-cropped white hair and dark skin. “We told you that bridges between the island would be fine Ian, we did not...” The human interrupted the draegoni that had spoken. “Since when are you in charge draegoni? You have no authority over me!” Ian growled. “Enough!” Bridden stepped between the pair of draegoni and Ian. “Bridden!” one of the draegoni exclaimed. “Did you bring the gnome?” “Yes she brought ‘the gnome’,” Sarma stepped forward facing the tall draegoni. Startled for a moment they said nothing, then recovered quickly. “Sir, it is our pleasure to meet you. Do forgive our seemingly uncaring terminology,” said one of the two draegoni with a bow. “Please do remind us of your name,” the other requested politely. “I’m Sarma, of Seridia,” he replied. “I am Annaeh, of the city of Dra Syn, and this is my twin brother, Assain,” he motioned to his companion as he spoke. “I am Ian of Idaloran city,” Ian said as he stepped forward elbowing the two draegonis out of his way. “The empress of the Idal Empire welcomes you to Irilion and sends her regards.” “Her regards? She sends her greetings from a lowly peasant like you?” Assain glared at Ian. “Lowly peasant? I’m no peasant! You are stupid outcasts your Queen wanted to get rid of, I’m sure, so she sent you here to spy on other races,” Ian shot back. “Cease your arguing!” Nerala proclaimed as she stepped forward. “We have come to repair Sarma’s boat. I have already discovered it is not on the beach where it landed. Do tell where you put it.” “Those two draegoni insisted we move it out of the weather,” smirked Ian. “Yes we did, little human! Storms spring up quickly here and we didn’t want it getting swept out to sea again,” Annaeh growled. “We moved it to the cave on the third island,” Assain explained. “And my brother and I magically enlarged the cave as well as made a roomy entrance facing the second isle, work that would have taken these humans weeks to complete, I'm sure,” Annaeh smirked beside his brother. “Weeks? hardly! we could have done it in half the time you did. But of course it would have hurt your pride to watch humans do your work, and you wouldn't let us near the cave,” Ian retorted. "Since when were you so gifted in the arts of magic, Ian? I have known you for years, come across you far too many times on the seas, and still you are as incompetent as ever!" Annaeh laughed. Ian opened his mouth to reply, yet was cut off by Nerala. "We all have our own talents and gifts and can make use of them all in our own ways. I thank you, Ian, for the bridges you built connecting the Islands. And I thank you, Annaeh and Assain, for your efforts in keeping Sarma's vessel safe. Now, if you will excuse us, we go to see what can be done to fix it." Nerala turned and walked across the bridge with Yuwon. Sarma mumbled a hurried thanks to the group and followed. “Thank you,” Sarma nodded to Ian and the draegonis. Sarma walked next to Nerala and Yuwon while the others followed behind. Even the two draegoni fell into step behind Bridden. As they walked into the cave, Sarma looked at his ship. It sat proudly on the small beach inside the cave. He looked past it to the opening in the rock face; this was a perfect dock for his boat. If he were able to return to Seridia, he would surely try to land here on Anitora for any journey back to Irilion. This small, unclaimed island was a far better place to stop than the coast of Arius or the nearby Idaloran docks. “A fine vessel,” remarked Nerala as she examined it. “Henau was correct on the spell as well.” Sarma didn’t bother to question how Nerala knew that right away, only watched as she climbed into the ship to investigate further. “Will you be able to fix it?” Sarma called to her. “Certainly. I will be able to fix it quickly as well. You will find yourself headed home in no time, Sarma.” Nerala stuck her head out of the boat as she responded, and smiled at Sarma. “No time at all.” Sarma watched, delighted, as Nerala began to go about mending his ship. He didn’t notice the whispered conversations between the draegoni twins and Bridden, no more than he had noticed several other things he should have the past several weeks.
  14. Port Anitora and the Dragon ship

    Enly and I have been busy collaborating on her Port Anitora and the Dragon Ship story. What follows is a repost of the entire edited story. Chapter 1 An Outcast Quietly, Sarma walked outside the tavern and took a stroll through the darkened city. It was late at night and he should have been getting home, yet the cool night air felt good after a few too many drinks. Reaching the outskirts of the city, he sat down on a rock and leaned back. Above him a stunning blanket of stars twinkled while the two moons hung silently in the darkness casting their ghostly light upon the city. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. This was beautiful, this was peace. Yet, as he sat there, his happiness was marred by the thought of the next day: more ropes to make, work to be done, money to be made. Without money he wouldn't be able to pay the rent on his house and would be left with no place to live. With a sigh, he picked himself up and headed back toward his house. The few other people on the streets barely looked at him. Sarma was a gnome and short enough to be easily forgotten, but that suited him: better to be forgotten than persecuted. ° ° ° ° ° ° “That is unacceptable! I ordered twice this! And the quality is horrible as well!” The tall human angrily threw the rope at Sarma. “Out! I shall never do business with a stupid gnome like you again!” With a scowl, Sarma gathered up his merchandise and stalked out of the building. His business was failing fast and he was running out of options. Making a living in Whitestone City was far more difficult than it seemed. He walked down the streets, now crowded with people in the middle of the day. Passing through the market, he reached his small home. He cursed as he reached his doorstep: the door was smeared with mud and white paint that read ‘stupid gnome’. Gnomes were uncommon in Whitestone. It did get many races and numerous travelers, yet gnomes were not among the most common residents. Therefore, being in the minority, Sarma was persecuted. He stored the rope in his room and went to find something to clean the door. As he walked back toward his door he heard rocks landing on it, as well as yells and jeers from outside. Angrily he threw down the wet rag he was holding and yanked open the door. Outside was not a bunch of kids as he had suspected, rather a small mob of humans. At the head of the group throwing rocks toward his house was a slender and pale human. He had simple brown hair and common blue eyes: an average man, unrecognizable to most. Yet Sarma knew his face all too well. “Hello Groden,” grumbled Sarma. Groden was a young human who delighted in making Sarma’s life as miserable as he could. “Gnome! How dare you show your face in this city. You sell things at outrageous prices, thereby stealing money from our humble people. You act poor when truly you hide your riches. You are a thief and an abomination.” Groden would have continued for quite some time had Sarma not cut him off. “Enough, you lousy weasel. You hate me, obviously, now can’t you just be content with your hatred and let me go about my life?” Sarma yelled. Groden smiled wickedly and raised his fist, which held a rock. Sarma paled and jerked behind the door before the rock could hit him. He closed and bolted the door as more rocks pounded the outside of his house. Sarma walked back to his bedroom and looked around at his few possessions. “I’m done,” he yelled to the wall. “I’m leaving this sad city never to return.” Angrily he gathered his things and threw them in a bag. Walking to the back of his bedroom he located the metal grate next to his dresser. The smell rising was horrendous, yet he had learned to deal with it. He pulled it up, slipped inside, and climbed down the ladder into the sewers. He silently thanked the gods he had found this little escape route several years previously. It had likely been installed by the previous owner, whom Sarma knew to have been a thief. That sewer connection was also the one reason Sarma was able to afford a decent house in town. If someone took the trouble to close off that sewer entrance, perhaps the landlord could actually rent the building for the price it deserved. Eventually Sarma found another ladder and climbed back up to the city, he was now on its outskirts. Brushing himself off, he shouldered his pack and headed toward the gate. He halted as he exited the city wondering where was he going. He contemplated this for a moment and then looked south. Far away, beyond where he could see, was the bay where his life had first begun. Setting out, he thought about what he knew of his origins. He had been born in the small village of Lakeside; it would be 30 years ago in several weeks. His pregnant mother had washed up on the shores of the Riven sea. She had been found by the villagers of Lakeside and taken to the Inn where she had given birth to Sarma, and then died. The villagers had named him Sarma because of a necklace she had worn that had the name engraved on it. Reluctantly they had raised him, yet to them he was strange and unnatural. As soon as he was able to fend for himself, they turned him out of their homes. Eventually Sarma had made his way to Whitesone, and made what life he could there. Sarma had often wondered if the people in Whitestone had considered him a thief because of the nature of his house's former owner. It seemed unlikely to him, seeing as he had been persecuted even when he had rented a room in the tavern for nearly a year. In the end, Sarma was forced to conclude that he was only ever persecuted because of his race, and no one looked at him beyond that. Lot of good they were, thought Sarma to himself. As afternoon crept into evening, he reached lakeside village. He spent nearly all of that evening finding some place to stay. At last he located an old abandoned cabin on the village outskirts that he was told he could have. It was only one room lacking any furniture whatsoever. He was content in spite of this though: it was a roof over his head and walls to keep out any animals. Settling down on the dusty floor, he rolled out his blankets and let sleep take him away from his troubled life. ° ° ° ° ° ° The next morning, he awoke to sunlight streaming in through the wall’s cracks. He lay there for a while, enjoying the peaceful silence and looking around the room. After a few moments, some boards in the corner caught his eye. Groaning, he rolled out of bed to investigate. His muscles ached after a night on a wooden floor. No doubt he would be sore all day, but for now all he could do was loosen up a bit. He stretched out his arms and rolled his neck as he walked over to examine the odd patch of flooring. The floorboards in a square patch at the corner were new and fresh wood, while those around it were old and rotten like the rest of the house. Curious, Sarma slid his fingers into a crack between the new wood and the old. The fresh patch lifted easily from the floor, it hadn’t even been nailed down. Underneath it was not the dirt he had expected, instead there was a hole with a ladder leading down into the darkness. Sarma was very intrigued now. Throwing caution to the winds, he grabbed his lantern and slid himself through the hole and onto the ladder. He climbed down slowly; the passage was tight, even for a small gnome like Sarma. He couldn’t think of how anyone but a child could have gotten through the tunnel. He thought perhaps a dwarf, but why would a dwarf be digging tunnels in Whitestone? They had their own lands and mines, and though they came to Whitestone for trade, it was unlikely they would make it a residence long enough to be digging tunnels around the coast. At long last, the shaft opened up into a tunnel running south and slightly west. He stretched his legs for a moment, then stooped to make his way through the tunnel. The ceiling was low and his back ached as he bent over for so long. Small spiders and rats darted in front of him, then back into the shadows. He began to notice the tunnel was starting to slope up slightly. Suddenly, at the edge of his lantern's faint circle of light, he noticed a ladder in front of him. The tunnel ended and turned straight into another shaft, far overhead Sarma could see light. Eager to see what the purpose of this mysterious tunnel was, he climbed up as fast as he could. Despite his lantern, the tunnel had been dark compared to the bright morning light he now found himself in. Blinking a couple times to adjust his vision, he examined his surroundings. He was on the beach! Stunned, he turned to glance behind. The rocky hills that normally posed an obstacle for anyone trying to reach the beach lay directly to his back. Satisfied with his discovery, he stood and looked around. The beach was small and had coarse white sand. He strolled for a bit trying to imagine where his mother had washed up. He had never actually seen the beach before. Few people ever came to it; his mother had been lucky enough to wash up when the villagers had held a celebration on the shore. Settling himself at the waters edge, he stared out to sea. A small island lay in the water not far off shore, beyond that though it was water as far as the eye could see. He silently wondered what lands lay out there, perhaps one full of gnomes? No, gnomes are odd creatures, uncommon remnants of some old race, he thought to himself. But what if they aren’t? questioned a different part of him. What if there are other lands out there with gnomes everywhere? He looked behind him at the rocky hills, at the ladder which led down to the tunnel and then back to his pitiful cabin. What do I have here? What do I have to lose? And somewhere deep inside, a voice whispered, nothing. I will build a boat and sail across the oceans until I die or find some land out of legend. Irillion, the fabled continent of Irillion! Myths start somewhere don’t they? He tossed this thought around in his head. Every myth contains a grain of truth. Perhaps there are lands out there, and if they are, I will find them! Chapter 2 Dragon Bones Sarma grabbed another nail and pounded it into a board. It was over a week now since he had discovered the beach. The villagers seemed perfectly happy that he kept to himself and stayed out of town. He spent a couple days in the forest gathering wood to build a boat. After that, he discovered he would need to spend two days excavating the tunnel and widening it into a large shaft, which would allow him to get the wood through to the beach. The floor of his small cabin was now covered in dirt from his excavation, yet he didn’t mind. It was summer and the days were hot and long, while the nights were comfortably cool. He slept on the beach nearly every night. The change in activity was difficult for him at first, but his muscles soon adjusted to the new workload. His boat was coming along quickly, Sarma had nothing else to do and he spent all his days hard at work. Very soon a hull had begun to take shape. It was a small boat, yet he built it strong and sturdy so that it might hold up to the sea. He had been taught to build with wood when he was very young. Only one man in the village had been kind to Sarma. He was an older man who made wooden shields and staves. Sarma learned much about carving and building anything with wood from that man. However, Sarma knew very little of sailing . The only time he had actually been on the sea was a journey from Lakeside to Corren village when he had been a boy. He resolved he would teach himself to sail while at sea and put no more thought to that matter. ° ° ° ° ° ° Three weeks after he had arrived at the coast, Sarma decided to take the day off and walked to Grahm’s village. Few people there knew him and though they stared and gave him scowls, they acted polite enough. He spent the day enjoying the village, then headed toward his home in the evening. He reached his small cabin late at night and decided to sleep inside that night. Drawing his blankets over him he slept soundly unaware of the person that had followed him home from the village. He awoke the next morning to another fine summer day. It was the month of Viasia, the last of summer. He got out of bed stumbling and with a slight headache, likely due to the wine from the day before. He crawled into the tunnel and soon found himself on the beach. Blinking sleep from his eyes, he yawned loudly and stretched, then stopped as his eyes settled on his boat. He ran toward his boat then swore loudly. The boat was a mess: the wood was shattered and strewn about, then coated with mud and dung. A piece of parchment lay in the sand at the center of the wreckage. Sarma angrily picked it up and read: Little gnomes shouldn’t build boats. -Groden Sarma swore again and punched his fist against a piece of wood. He hit it so hard that the skin on his knuckles cracked and his fingers bled. “Sarma, calm down old friend,” spoke a voice from behind him. Sarma whirled around in surprise. “Clark?” asked Sarma shocked. A tall black human stood behind him. “Who else Sarma? I came to greet you for your birthday and found that worm ruining your boat. I sent him scurrying away before he did more damage,” said Clark. “It's too late. He ruined my boat; all that hard work! Now I have to start completely over!” Clark laughed, “You didn’t know how to sail anyway, dear friend. Besides, I have brought you a birthday present which I believe will lift your spirits.” Sarma sat dejectedly in the sand, the wreckage of his work around him. “What could possible lift my spirits from this solemn depression?” he muttered. Clark was silent for a moment and then sat down beside Sarma in the sand. Clark was an old friend of Sarma’s - one of his few. He was a mage from Portland who visited Whitestone often, as he was friends with the owner of the city’s magic shop. After only one meeting, the two had fast become friends. “I have another way for you to complete your goal,” said Clark at last. Sarma turned puzzled to Clark. “Besides building a boat?” “Well, it would be a boat, of sorts,” spoke Clark in reply. “What do you mean?” “Well, here, let me start at the beginning. It’s a bit of a tale so listen well,” “Alright,” Sarma looked at Clark expectantly, curious to know what he was talking about. “Well, long, long ago, before many things happened, there were dragons all across these lands. In the changing of the world, many died, some fled to other lands, some turned from wing to fin and became creatures of the sea, yet several lingered. One of these that lingered dwelt in the land surrounding Portland. At that time the city was only a village, struggling to survive in the hard times of the world. The dragon roamed their lands unchecked and the people could do little about it. At long last a rescuer came to their aid, his name has long been lost in time, but he is now known as the The Slayer. The Slayer was a powerful mage from a mysterious land across the sea. He defeated the dragon with ancient magic forgotten by us now. The scales he gifted to the villagers of Portland in the hopes it would help them rebuild their lands plagued by the beast. The scales were worth so much that they helped Portland become not only what it had once been but also more; a thriving port city, rich and grand. The mage took the bones for himself though and hid them away, then he settled down in Portland and took an apprentice. Eventually the mage died and he passed on his position and belongings to his apprentice. Right before his death, the mage told his apprentice that bones had the magic of dragons woven into them, and that they still held the power of flight. He prophesied that one day, someone like him would use the bones to return his body to the land from whence he had come. Time passed and the world grew and changed. The mages of Portland came and went, passing on their position to an apprentice. Eventually the bones came to me and I was told what The Slayer had told his first apprentice. Now, here I sit on this beach, I believe you are the one that is to return The Slayer to his ancient home.” “What? Now this is magic Clark! I can’t do magic!” Sarma had listened politely but this was beginning to seem strange. He wasn’t part of any ancient prophecy. “I know. It is my job to awaken the spells that came from the time of dragons. It is your job to build the bones into a vessel and, with them, venture to The Slayer’s home. I have studied many myths and legends of old, and I believe The Slayer came from Irillion.” “You think its real then? Irilion?” “Yes, I do. There is a huge amount of evidence to its existence, people just tend to deny things that are different or strange,” Clark stood and beckoned to Sarma. “Come, I want to show you what I have brought. I hid it across the water.” Sarma pulled himself up and followed Clark to the very edge of the beach. “I created a hidden path under the water as well,” Clark waded into the water and Sarma watched fascinated, as the water never went above his boots. Cautiously Sarma followed, sticking close behind Clark so as not to lose the hidden underwater path. Before he knew it Sarma was standing on the island he had seen, a small cave entrance before him. Clark ducked his head and went in. Sarma followed. He looked around as his eyes adjusted to the light. He gasped and walked forward, lying on the floor of the cave was the huge skeleton of a dragon. It was laid out flat, yet it was obviously a dragon. That was the only beast Sarma thought could grow that huge. “These are the bones of the dragon killed by The Slayer,” said Clark. “You want to give them to me?” questioned Sarma completely shocked. “Yes,” Clark replied simply. “How does one build a flying ship then? Since you seem to know all about this,” Sarma asked, still not in acceptance of the idea, but curious nonetheless. Clark smiled. “I’m about to teach you little friend.” Chapter 3 The Blessing of the Gods “A little higher and more to the left,” shouted Sarma as he and Clark positioned another board on the boat’s frame. “There, perfect!” Sarma nailed in the board as Clark held it up for him. They had been working hard for nearly a month now. The magnificent ship was near completion. Sarma and Clark had built the boat and the dragon bones into one huge structure. Clark had yet to explain exactly how the ship would fly, but Sarma was patient. This boat was much harder to build: it was far bigger and Clark insisted that everything be a certain way. After putting in a few more boards, the two of them sat down for a moment of rest. “Coming along very nicely, don’t you think Clark?” asked Sarma. “Yes, not much left to do,” responded Clark with a grin. “How about telling me how it’s going to fly?” “Patience, I’ll explain in time.” Sarma scowled but let the subject drop, there was work to be done. ° ° ° ° ° ° A little over a week later, Sarma and Clark stepped back to admire their work. “We’re done, aren’t we?” questioned Sarma amazed. Clark smiled widely. “I believe so, little friend. All that remains now is the magic.” Sarma sat down amazed and looked around. They had knocked out one wall of the cave that had consisted of crumbling stone that was nearly completely eroded by seawater anyway. They had then built a huge wooden door over the gap, which would allow them a way to easily get the boat out of the cavern. Clark had brought something with the dragon bones as well. A long ornate coffin lay tucked away at the side of the cavern. According to Clark, it held the body of The Slayer, or what was left of it. Apparently The Slayer had come from a race which, at the time, was very superstitious about death. The Slayer had wanted his final resting place to be in his homeland, so that his soul could carry on. Sarma wasn’t too sure about that stuff, but he was willing to deal with the eerie coffin if it meant that much to Clark. The boat itself was the real wonder. A huge ship of wood with an entire dragon skeleton built into it was a sight to behold. Sarma was at a loss for how it would ever fly, but he trusted Clark. “Well, my friend, there are things I need before I can perform the spells necessary. I must return to Portland for a short while to gather them. Do you wish to accompany me? or remain here with your boat?” Clark looked at Sarma, awaiting his reply. “As much as I would love to see your fine house again, I would prefer to stay here with my boat. I still fear sabotage and I need to gather supplies from the village anyway. Who knows how long this journey will be. More than likely it will be my last,” Sarma looked regretfully at the dragon ship, he knew what he was getting into and he didn’t expect to get far. A flying ship was a dangerous thing, and a journey to a continent that may not even exist was as well. Clark nodded to Sarma and slipped out quietly not wanting to disturb his friend’s thoughts. Sarma guessed that his friend would probably be gone until the next day, or later, so Sarma headed into town to gather some supplies; for the most part only food and drink; the basic necessities. Perhaps he could buy some fresh clothes from someone off the street as well. Lakeside village was crowded and bustling with afternoon activity. Boats left the small dock heading toward Corren Village while beggars sat hunched on street corners. And the general store was crowded and busy. Sarma gathered what he needed from the general store and managed to find someone selling clothes in the streets. Then he headed over to the tavern to get some food for the journey and to rest and have a drink as well. At long last he got his drink and settled at a table in the corner. He sighed and closed his eyes after he took a sip from his mug. The usual sounds of a tavern met his ears: laughing, music, talking. It was evening now and more people came to the tavern. Relaxed and content he opened his eyes. By chance, or perhaps the will of the gods, he opened them to look right at Groden who was staring at him from the bar. As soon as Groden and Sarma made eye contact, Groden jumped up and ran for the door. Sarma sat up so quickly he spilled his drink across the table. Cursing he grabbed his things and rushed after Groden. Groden had exited the tavern and was already running full sprint toward Sarma’s cabin. Sarma had the short legs of a gnome, though, so he wasn’t going anywhere fast. He chased after Groden as quickly as he could. What is it with him! Sarma thought as he ran. He spends his life trying to ruin mine; it’s beyond just bullying. What purpose does it serve for him! Far ahead of him, Sarma watched Groden dart into his cabin closing the door behind him. Sarma stumbled toward his house and fell against the door, he turned the old handle and pushed but something was blocking him on the other side. He could hear Groden scrambling into the tunnel. Enraged, Sarma drove his whole body against the door as hard as he could. It wouldn’t budge at all. Standing back from the door, panting heavily, Sarma tried to think straight. The back! There was a large crack in the back he could probably widen and get into. He ran around the house and started prying away the boards. Finally, a gnome-sized hole was in front of him. He dove through it. Scrambling to his feet, he started toward the tunnel, then froze as he glanced toward the entrance. A cyclops was seated against the door. It slowly turned its lazy eye toward Sarma, who darted into the tunnel before it could even think of attacking him. As he scrambled through the darkness, things began to fall into place. Groden was probably a servant of Selain, the god of summoning. That’s how the cyclops had gotten into the cabin. Perhaps the priest had given Groden some mission against Sarma and that was why he wouldn’t stop harassing him. That didn’t really matter to Sarma; all that mattered was that Groden was already at his boat, tearing it apart. Sarma reached the end of the tunnel and ran toward the shore. Rushing through the water, he looked for Groden since he wasn’t anywhere outside. Sarma felt the water splash up onto him as he stumbled as fast as he could toward the island. He staggered into the cave with no idea how he would stop Groden if the accursed human was strong enough to summon a cyclops. Luckily for Sarma, it turned out he didn’t have to do anything. Groden was several feet away from the thankfully still whole boat, but he was standing petrified looking at something in front of him. Sarma slipped to the side so he could see around Groden, and stared as well. Standing before Groden, hovering slightly off the floor was a translucent gnome. “Selain help me,” whispered Groden terrified. “Away with you! Scum of Selain! You have no business here!” roared the figure. His voice was deep and haunting as it reverberated throughout the cavern. Groden shook in terror then turned and bolted out of the cave. Sarma was as terrified as Groden and had no idea what to do. As Groden left, the figure turned to Sarma and smiled. “Return me to my home so that my soul can rest in peace.” The figure whispered this time, yet Sarma could hear him clearly. A slight breeze came in through the cave entrance and suddenly the apparition was gone. As Sarma still stood there staring in wonder, the voice of the figure whispered again. “The gods are watching you Sarma. Your decisions will affect the fate of the world. Go with the blessing of the righteous ones.” Shocked and exhausted Sarma’s knees buckled and he collapsed into the dirt.
  15. Astrology stones testing

    Hi. I was testing Urania's features. I'm able to buy all the stones, but I'm only able to sell the indicator stones. It looks like Urania won't buy back any of the predictor stones and I was wondering if that was the intent of the programming. (added info from chatlog) Indicator Stones: [06:49:14] The higher, the better, negative is penalty: Att: -2, Def: -2 [06:50:06] The higher, the better, negative is penalty: To hit: -3, To damage: -4 [06:50:15] The higher, the better, negative is penalty: Acc: -5, Magic: -4 [06:50:22] Harvest Events Increase: -90 (the higher, the more events) Degrade: -520 (the higher, the less chance to break) [06:50:41] Make rare: 592 (the lower, the better; positive is penalty) Failure: 5 (the lower, the better) To me, it appears there are 2 styles of writing with the above results. Perhaps for a more consistent look, the first three stones could be changed? e.g. Att: -2, Def: -2 (The higher, the better, negative is penalty) Predictor Stones [06:50:50] Attack bonus, the higher, the better, negative is penalty: 20 Minutes: -2 40 Minutes: -2 60 Minutes: -2 [06:50:55] Defense bonus, the higher, the better, negative is penalty: 20 Minutes: -2 40 Minutes: -2 60 Minutes: -2 [06:50:58] To hit bonus, the higher, the better, negative is penalty: 20 Minutes: -3 40 Minutes: -3 60 Minutes: -4 [06:51:01] To damage bonus, the higher, the better, negative is penalty: 20 Minutes: -4 40 Minutes: -5 60 Minutes: -5 [06:51:04] Accuracy bonus, the higher, the better, negative is penalty: 20 Minutes: -4 40 Minutes: -4 60 Minutes: -4 [06:51:06] Magic bonus, the higher, the better, negative is penalty: 20 Minutes: -4 40 Minutes: -3 60 Minutes: -3 [06:51:08] Harvest events increase, the higher, the more events: 20 Minutes: -85 40 Minutes: -81 60 Minutes: -76 [06:51:15] Items Degrade, the higher, the lower the chance for items to degrade: 20 Minutes: -560 40 Minutes: -600 60 Minutes: -640 [06:51:27] Make rare, the lower, the better; positive is penalty 20 Minutes: 568 40 Minutes: 552 60 Minutes: 544 [06:51:38] Failure, the lower, the better, positive is penalty 20 Minutes: 6 40 Minutes: 6 60 Minutes: 6 For these stones, I would use a colon ( : ) after the name (e.g. Failure: the lower, the better, positive is penalty). I also noticed that for the last 2 stones, the first lines did not end with a colon like all the others. Also, on the "Make rare" predictor stone, there's a semi-colon after "better" rather than a comma.
  16. Selling Physique Removal Stone

    I've found a Physique Removal Stone and am willing to part with it - for a price. Reply with your offers here or contact me in-game.
  17. Selling Physique Removal Stone

    Chosen, thanks for your prompt reply. I do, however, have an in-game offer of 21k for the stone.
  18. A Guild Meet

    A very nice beginning indeed. Very good imagery - congrats. Btw, it's spelled Tarsengaard (with 2 A's toward the end) and I only saw a few minor grammatical errors. Looking forward to reading more from you. Keep up the good work. Phil...
  19. Vitality Removal Stone

    I'm auctioning off 1 Vitality Removal Stone. Buy now - 75 k gc Auction starts at 20 k gc Min bid increment is 2 k gc more than the previous offer. Auction ends in 48 hours. Private bids accepted via in-game pm or /gossip tell messages.
  20. Tarsengaard Crypt & Cave

    Beorn, see if this reads a bit easier. Phil... The Fall of Kassius Luxin In the dark depths of Tarsengaard Cave lies an oft forgotten tomb that holds a horrific story of a poor soul. The one contained in the tomb is said to be an ancestor of the great Lord Luxin. Some say he was an eccentric man whose actions and beliefs made very little sense. Others perceived him as being a great and noble member of the royal family. The truth about him has remained buried until now. This is the story of the fall of Kassius Luxin. On a damp and sultry night, when it seemed as though nothing were alive, young Kassius, who sometimes imagined he was a philosopher, was tired from writing poetry and pondering the mysteries of life. He'd had a full day and needed to venture home from the Island of Roanof. He walked back to the shore, got into the small row boat he always took out to the island and made his way back to Tarsengaard. Once he was ashore, he tied his small boat to the usual rock and began making his way back toward White Stone City. As he walked through the thick air, he suddenly felt a strange presence. It was as though someone, or something, was watching him. The young man felt the intent gaze of another being, a penetrating stare of discontent and malice that made the small hairs on the back of his neck rise. He began walking at a more hurried pace. Kassius felt his heart beating louder. When he began to hear footsteps, he broke into a run. He was running faster and faster, until the intense pain in his side made him unable to run any longer. He collapsed, gasping for air, only to look back and see a pair of glowing red eyes and the intense breath of a goblin. The creature drew closer until he could smell the foul stench of rotting flesh upon its sword. Kassius began to think his life was over and no one would come to his aid. As the red-eyed monster raised its dull sword high above its head to make a killing blow, Kassius saw a large gargoyle appear out of the darkness and begin attacking it. The beast-like, stony-looking creature looked valiant in his eyes, saving him from his fate. Still fighting each other, the gargoyle and the goblin disappeared into the darkness. Ever since that encounter, Kassius believed gargoyles would be his protectors. He thought they would not allow anything bad to happen to him and he believed this with his entire soul. Most frowned upon his new-found belief. They said he was turning his back on Aluwen and for this he would be greatly punished. Kassius paid no attention to those who criticized his actions. The young man felt a need to pay respect to the gargoyles who were his protectors, though he was unsure of how to do this. After much thought on the idea, he began to search for a place to build a temple devoted to the gargoyles. He found the ideal location for his temple in the abandoned mine in Tarsengaard. The mine had been nearly stripped of all its resources at this point which, to him, made it seem like the perfect place to begin construction on the temple. Kassius began to order statues of significant proportion and expensive jewels. To move these massive statues, he hired the strongest men in his town. Soon everything was coming together and all of the pieces were falling into place. It all seemed too good to be true for him. After his magnificent temple was fully constructed, he became a recluse refusing to leave unless it was absolutely necessary. His physical appearance had changed from that of a handsome man to a pale, sickly-looking creature. Nothing about him seemed to be the same as his former self. From his appearance to his personality, everything was different. Kassius's eyes were sunken into his head with large dark circles around them; his once tan, bright complexion became pasty and dull; even the elegant clothes and robes he wore were degraded to rags even a peasant would refuse to wear. On his rare trips into the wonderful hustle and bustle of White Stone City, he attracted stares of all who noticed him. They would all stop their activity or abandon their conversations to stare at the man who was paler than the stones which lined the roads. All the people of the town felt sorrow for what had happened to this sad excuse for a man. One pleasant morning, Kassius was in his prayer room where he spent most of his time in private meditation. It was a small hidden section of the cave with smaller statues, books he had written and collected on gargoyles and his living supplies. He had been sitting and writing more about the elegant gargoyles of his dreams, as he usually did, when he heard someone’s voice calling. Kassius was startled, since he hadn't heard the voice of another person in his temple for so long. Without thinking, he hurried to his feet and scurried out of his small obscured room only to find a man with a look of sheer terror on his face. Kassius recognized him from somewhere, but he was unsure where. After a moment of thought, however, he recovered the memory of the man's identity; it was his parents' servant, Borris Thalinburg. "M'lord," he said as he gasped for air, he seemed exhausted. "Y- your parents have sent me to deliver an urgent message." Borris put one hand on the cave wall and leaned forward huffing and puffing. "Yes, yes, w-what it is, Borris?" Kassius said growing nervous by the look of the man's face. "Out with it." "Monsters! Monsters are invading White Stone, sir!" he shouted. "Your parents have sent for you and it is only a matter of time before they reach the castle, you must come with.." "Nothing more needs to be said, I am on my way." Kassius and Borris made their way out of the cave and into the morning fog of Tarsengaard. They ran as fast as they could possibly go. All Kassius could think about was his parents and the danger they were facing. With a renewed sense of determination, he would not let anything stop him from reaching them. His mind was racing and he could not concentrate on anything except the thudding of his feet on the ground and the crunching of autumn leaves as he ran. The two men approached the pass in the mountains and without stopping they continued right through, unaware of the possible dangers which lay ahead. Kassius continued as strong and as fast as he could while Borris struggled to keep up with him. The difference was Kassius's determination to help his family which is what Borris lacked. Once they reached the end of the mountains and fallen leaves they were happy to see green grass again which meant they were almost there. A short while later Kassius reached the city wall and took a couple of deep breaths before continuing. Upon entering the city, Kassius immediately wished he had not. He was too late and the massacre had already taken place. The pearly white stones of the road were slippery and stained with the blood of its people and he could hear the cries of the frightened and injured survivors. Kassius made his way through the town leaving Borris where he had collapsed after seeing the devastation left behind by the monsters. The looks all the survivors cast upon him made him feel as though it were his fault this had happened. Their stares pierced his soul and made him feel nothing but sorrow for everything that had occurred there. He approached the castle where his family resided and walked through the large door that was hanging open. The sight of all that blood in the castle took away every last ounce of will he had and he fell to the floor letting out a piercing scream you would have thought could be heard for miles. Kassius had lost all control of his emotions when he saw what had happened to his family. He thought, or perhaps he knew, it was somehow his fault they had died. Deep down he felt he should have been there to defend them or he should have never turned his back on Aluwen so she would have protected them. What saddened him the most was that the gargoyles he had honored by building them a temple had betrayed him by failing to protect him and his family. Some time later, Borris discovered Kassius lying on the floor. When he turned him over and shook him thinking he had fainted, Kassius's body was cold and lifeless. Some say he poisoned himself after seeing what had happened to his family while others think he gave up the will to live. No one truly knows what happened. After his death, they searched the temple. When they found his prayer room, they also discovered his last will and testament. His only request was for he and his family to be buried in the temple he had sacrificed so much of his life to make. Everyone gathered at his temple to pay their respects to the royal family at their funeral. A few kind words were said about everyone who was buried by the remaining friends and family. Once all was said and done, all the people filed out of the temple and continued on with their usual lives. A short while later, people noticed gargoyles entering the temple and remaining. It seemed they wanted to protect the family in death since they were unable to do so in life.
  21. The Lay of the Grandmasters way

    I am really enjoying your chapters. Please keep them coming. :-)
  22. 1.4.0 Map Bugs

    Aeth Aelfin main map, 236, 96 (coords for a statue). I can walk through it, stand where it is, rather than walking around it. Aeth Aelfin main map, 323,151 (coords for a wooden wagon carrying bales of hay). I can walk through it, stand where it is, rather than walking around it or climbing atop it. Aeth Aelfin main map, 225, 222 (coords for a rock). I can walk through it, stand where it is, rather than walking around it. [FIXED...except i saw no rock at the last coord. set]
  23. Oldknight of PKG is a bag stealer

    do NOT trust your items while he's around. Fair warning to all EL honorable players: if Oldknight is nearby, be very careful - he'll steal your stuff fast.
  24. Oldknight of PKG is a bag stealer

  25. EL Bumper Stickers

    Your "I'D RATHER BE IN KILAREN FIELDS" bumper sticker: besides needing the other A in KILARAN, also drop the S from "FIELDS". The map's name is "KILARAN FIELD". Your "IRILLION OR BUST" bumper sticker: The continent name should only have 1 L (IRILION). The text beneath the "I (heart) MY ARCTIC CHIMMY" bumpersticker has "Artic" instead of Arctic. Very attractive site. Kudos!