But He's Only a Boy!
Drawn from meditation by the solid rapping of thick dwarven knuckles on their chamber door, Shalon's eyes slipped open. He sat kneeling to the hinge side of the portal's barrier. The sun was risen, and Quilencce lie still and sleeping soundly. Or at least it looked to be so. Shalon had often seen his master practicing such a charade against many an unsuspecting assailant, and even against himself as a lesson or two. Hard learned lessons about preparation and the relaxing of one's guard. Don't ever do it. Don't ever let down those walls which keep you safe. Those were lessons this shadow knew well and had practiced even better. But, now, he wasn't so sure of himself. Shalon wrestled with his newfound chinks and holes. His armor was not all-concealing, and he supposed it had something to do with the fact that Quilencce's guard was down in truth. He lay in healing, mortal and fallible as every enemy they'd ever slain together. But the Everoot had done its work. He wou
Pheinixfall -15- Part 2 of 2
Victory Ale (contd.)
"What are you?" Shalon finally asked, wary as he sheathed his swords in smoothed silence. His voice was mingled with misunderstanding. Yet, it was calm and composed, whereas Borkus knelt, bloodied, panting and sweating, winded from his exertion and voice hoarse from his howling screams of a madman's fury. The Dwarf looked back up at him in awe, leaning on his hammer, nearly bent double with exhaustion. He'd never seen anyone move like the symphonier before. Some of what Shalon had performed didn't even seem physically possible, not even after his previous display. Could it be possible he wasn't even real? Was he even alive? Or was he some sort of ghost from the nether realms beyond the umbral reaches of death?
'Who was he really?' The Dwarf wondered as Shalon's question registered in his hazy mind.
"I I " Borkus panted, trying to find his voice between his rasping breaths. Shalon looked on him, a tourtured soul, body broken despite its size and str
Pheinixfall -15- Part 1 of 2
Dawn drew Shalon awake. The land was cold and misted. The sky, as equally dismal and gray. The sunlight was to be short-lived, for a storm was in the brew, building up and back flushing down into the Western Hold. This was a fairly common occurrence. The Dragluln was renowned for its ability to drag the sky clear of weather for the east. In fact, it was even named as thus. And beyond lay the plains of the Abluln, aptly named, Weatherless. The mountains had a certain knack for rejecting weather, and pushing it back down the Western Hold, which was why the land Shalon knew as home was always so rainy and moist. But to Shalon, the only thing this meant was that he would have to focus on keeping his master warm and dry, for this storm would be nothing like that which they were accustomed to, far to the west within the shelter of the Varanessan trees.
This storm would be blistering cold, with biting winds and frigid rains, if not snow. Autumn was creeping into the land swiftly t
Bound Hand and Foot
The wagon jostled loudly over the crumbling stone. Its wooden wheels had slowly but steadily begun to lose the ability to gain sure purchase as the climb wore on and the roadway grew uneven, strewn with greater stones and boulders as the trees began to give way to the elevation. Its cargo rolled in place, wobbling back and forth to the jerky undulations despite the straps and ropes that held everything in its place, huddled together as a frightened bunch of abused, worn children just waiting for the ride to bring them home at last. But their driver did not relent, leaving them to rocking themselves back to fitful slumber. He was putting entirely too much stress on the horses, whoever he was. But the grizzly little man did so, because he knew the stallions would see their journey through to its end, even if it killed them.
Of course, they weren't the weak horses of the lowlands that belonged to the many other peoples of Arillus. No. These were the great clydes of the
Pheinixfall -13- Part 2 of 2
Scourge of the West (contd.)
There was no way to know how long he'd been out, but when he woke, it was early morning. The sky was clouded over once again, and the forestry felt the patter of soft precipitation. He was thoroughly soiled by blood and rain and sweat. He'd begun to shiver sometime during his sprawl, and had he been in a more proper mindset, he would have known he was going to be sick and feverish if he didn't do something soon. But the fact that he was wounded didn't even register until he came to grips with his surroundings and tried to rise up.
His face was splattered with muck and dirt, wet and bloodied, but he didn't care for himself so much as Quilencce and oddly enough, the Dwarf. It took some effort, but with a growl, he managed to drag himself to his feet. He took a step, but fell to his knees. He was too weak to walk, so he crawled to Quilencce, who lie sprawled out on his back, all but motionless. His master was on the brink of death, but he was still alive. His
Pheinixfall -13- Part 1 of 2
Scourge of the West
The gruff little dwarf reined his massive horse into the trees a bit early, a bit further north than he might have under normal circumstances. The mighty Dragluln loomed, near at his eastern hand, but the forestry of the foothills came first. They were neither a welcome gate, nor a pleasant gatekeeper to him, but Rang knew there would be a brief lull from his fears before starting the climb. It was a rest he'd be very willing to accept. Not because he was particularly exhausted, nor because the Symphoniers were setting a particularly difficult pace. He just had an uneasy feeling. It had tailed him every step of his horse's way, back through the Varanessan trees and all the way across the Baradoran plain as they cut a clean southeasterly line. They rested little and lightly, and all the while, the two Symphoniers were mostly quiet, and when they did talk, it was almost never in his direction. They just rode along, drinking and smoking to such excess that Rang was alm
Pheinixfall -12- Part 2 of 2
The Challenge of Proposition (contd.)
Rang was caught a moment of study as he tried to catch on to what was obviously the middle of a very long, detailed story, and this study pulled him in. The shadow of the elf-lad, still young but not entirely a child, couldn't seem to keep up as he moved about the fire, telling his story to the tune of the musicians about the place. His movement caught Rang staring, for he was like silk blown on a breeze, erratic but purposeful smooth. Then, all at once the young lad came to a halt, poised like a stalking cat with a shorter Elvine thin-blade in hand. It was pointed right at the Dwarf, a razor-edged needle, and in his smoky state, Rang twitched. He was thoroughly entranced by the story, but he had no idea what was happening within it. Was he at the climax or the resolution? Or was it all just the end of the first act? With his trance broken by his twitch as the boy froze there, Rang glanced around.
Everyone was watching intently, waiting quietly. Al
Pheinixfall -12- Part 1 of 2
The Challenge of Proposition
Rang Elmarang rode out of the rocks, and down into the dry thicket of the dwarfed pines that stood twisted and stunted at the western tree line of the mighty Dragluln like a gnarled gate. His round featured face scrunched beneath an equally gnarled mane of wiry tough red hair and thickly puffed beard as he sniffed at the wind, smelling the early onset of autumn. The chirps and song of birdlife had begun dwindling off this face of the Dragluln, and he could taste the moisture of the Western Hold's far-off winter. Gone was the crisp dry air of the peaks. Left behind was their beautiful silence cast in everlasting gray slates and striations and snow. The stone still descended beneath him, burrowing into the foothill trees as a roadway to the lush grasses of the Baradoran, or Vihbin as the Varan Elves called it, but it just wasn't the same. The road was more of soft earth strewn with rocks and boulders than actual mountain stone, and it was littered always with
Wings to Dulgnar
When the embrace was broken, the matter had been settled and preparations made for departure the following morning. Ealne traveled west, in the company of four hunters and Anderan's two best psionic students, along with the captain and crew of the Toolian Katyana, Atyalara. The hunters, he knew well. Two were Thiese Aedil and Naedi Rhial, his guardians since birth. And two were Enraeli Bincce and Brinstle Lerifen, the guardians of his passed sister, the beloved late Emiele Ariem. Ealne begrudged the two whom had failed his sister, but did not distrust them. They were very skilled, and after his firsthand meeting of the assassin suspected responsible for both Diriwin and Emiele's deaths, he knew there was not much they could have done to prevent the princess' demise. They had tried and nearly died for it, and that was enough for Ealne to trust in their hearts and skills. After all, they were among the very best hunters the Toolian had to offer. Thiese, the male of his o