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arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons groups modül savaş serenity The Great Arashkan the plot thickens Whispers; A Cabal

Vivid Visions

Vivid Visions

Timeline:

A long, stinking network of sewers stretches under the ruins of the once glorious city of Arashkan, now smoking in smoldering ruins. Though it is winter with cold, dirty-gray snow on the ground outside, down in these sewers, the temperature is mild. Less water than usual drains from the sewer tunnels now, as there is no populace left in the city. What’s there is mostly melted snow blotched with sticky and sickly reddish-brown color due to the seeping blood from the streets above and the settled soot, carrying away with lazy indifference, burnt and charred bits of wood, and every once in a while, a bloated corpse..

Through these tunnels, young Udoorin Shieldheart, Princess Lorna, and her cousin, Anglenna Sunsear, slink and sneak, and at times, fight their way to the magically cordoned and entombed area where years ago, the younger thief, Darly Dor, had stolen from Lady Felishia Fremeir, the prized gifts allegedly sent by Ri Grandaleren of Bari Na-ammen to the First Lord Kaladin of Arashkan;

 

THE
THREE DOG CURSE..

 

This story is the continuation of the series;
The Malediction of ‘Rellen.. (Part 3/3)
“Three Dog Curse”
.
It takes place on the same night as
We Are Not Your Dogs.
We Are Not Your Servants.
We Are Your Masters!

and shortly after
“Mother, why?”

 

 

The young, burly man pulled the bloated Orken floating face down and slowly down the sewer with one of his long-shafted great axes, using its curving edge as a hook. With a low grunt, he grappled the huge creature ‘ashore’ and poked it to make sure it really was as dead as it seemed. Then, carefully, he turned it over and peered at it.

“A little light, please, Auntie Lenna?”, he rumbled.

“I would very much appreciate it if you would make up your mind, young Udoorin.”, said Anglenna mildly.

“Uhhmm.. I am not quite sure what you mean, ma’am?”, he said.

“Auntie H., Auntie Lenna, Ma’am? Make up your mind. I despair every time you call me something I was never called in all my one hundred and seventy-eight years on this earth! And why am I even your ‘Auntie’, anyway? There is no blood relation between us whatsoever, and although the age disparity between us is mild at best, I certainly am not old enough to be your aunt! And might I add that I am quite young by elf standards.”, she replied.

 

Princess Lorna snorted!

But perhaps because she was a girl of natural grace and ‘polite’ palace training, she had never had the opportunity to ‘snort’ enough to know how it was supposed to be done. Hence, what came out a bit like a.. well.. it came out like something, just not how a snort should be..

..out of her cute, elegant nose.

 

Udoorin, on the other hand, coughed.

“I wouldn’t have called, one hundred and sixty years difference, ‘mild at best’.. Wouldn’t ‘mild at best’ be like three or five years? Ten at most?”, he thought. Then he shrugged. Obviously, the numbers were different where elves were concerned and because his Lady Lorna might also be involved in said elf numbers, he decided not to even bring it up.

For men, age was just a number that marked the time passed between one’s birth and the current date —in terms of linear years. For women, maybe it meant other things.. Something along the lines of; ‘the time left until one died’, perhaps?

Udoorin shut the door to that particular thought and decided to never bring it up!

 

Young as he may be, Udoorin was wise like that.

 

“I.. don’t know the proper.. uhhmm.. protocol?.. To be perfectly honest.. Since you are somewhat elder to Lady Lorna, it seemed like, dunno, the polite way to refer to you was to call you ‘Auntie’..”, he mumbled.

“That’s what you figured, huh? To call a young elf girl, Auntie? And thought that was the polite thing to do, did you?”, asked Anglenna staring at him with one arched eyebrow.

“Can we.. sort of do this some other time, perhaps? Or you could just tell me what you would like me to call you? Please?”, Udoorin asked plainly.

“‘Anglenna’ will do. It is my name, after all, hence, I am bound to recognize it..”, said the elf girl, her tone amused.

“Impossible!”, said Udoorin, shaking his head.

 

The princess inadvertently smiled but hid it behind one of her slender and elegant hands.

 

“What? Why?”, Anglenna asked, a bit perplexed.

“Bad manners to call people who are older than me by their first name.”, the young, burly man said stiffly. “And also just rude!”

 

Lady Anglenna just stared at him.

 

“Young man, you are killing me!”, she said with despair.

“I certainly am not!”, Udoorin said indignantly.

“Did you ‘Auntie’ Lorna, here, too? When you first met? She is older than you as well, after all!”, Anglenna said, having a go at logic.

“I certainly did not!”, the young man said, even more hotly. “It is extremely rude to ask a girl or a lady, her age.. Which is why I never asked!”

“You mean to tell me, you did not even know the age of the girl you had decided to spend your life with?”, Anglenna stared at the young man astounded!

“It is a girl’s prerogative to reveal her age, along with any other things she feels she honestly has to mention. It is not nice to spring surprises on a man who loves you with unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary things, after all. I told Lady Lorna all my bad habits on the get-go and she told me all hers, along with her age before we decided to engage. Didn’t care then, don’t care now. Her beauty, her grace, her elegance, and her wisdom make what she thinks she lacks, very much irrelevant..”, mumbled Udoorin with a scowling face that said, he would argue this to the end of days!

“You have no idea how to talk to girls.. or women, do you?”, Anglenna asked, totally astonished now, but not unkindly, which was a bit, unlike her old self.

“I haven’t had many opportunities.”, admitted the young man. “Only had Laila and Bremorel as friends when it came to girls, but they were more like sisters. I mean, they never looked at me that way, and I knew Laila was interested in someone else and for Bree, it was always Thomas, though she never went and said it out loud.. Not that it mattered, since I just never saw them that way, either. After my mother died, it was just my father and myself, all of which is beside to point at this very moment, isn’t it?”

 

Anglenna sighed.

 

“I am at dire straights with you, young man. Call me Lady Anglenna, if that will make you feel any better. But should you want to make me happy, drop the ‘Lady’, and certainly the ‘ma’am’, and just call me by my name.. Bari Na-ammen is gone and I am a Lady no more. And every time you ‘Lady’ me, you remind me of my blood-relation to my mother. Something I would very much not be afflicted more than I already am.”

“Fair enough, ma’am.. uhhmm.. Auntie.. uhh.. Lady.. Anglenna..”, replied Udoorin a bit flustered. “Though I have never believed being a lady is in any way related to the existence of a certain place, as important to you and my Lady Lorna as it may be.. Now, if we could have some light, perhaps?”

 

Anglenna signed again. The boy was incredibly.. she refrained from saying, ‘dense’, possibly for her cousin’s sake.

She didn’t feel any animosity for him or anything. Quite the contrary, and contrary to her mother’s indoctrinated upbringing.. And he had made her cousin genuinely happy, and safe, and.. content.. and she seemed much more relaxed as opposed to her usual serious aura. But he did need to get over some of his habits if he was going to be a king someday. And the boy was just too.. plainly honest? A something she was sure her cousin, the princess, had found adorable, sure, but that kind of honesty just wouldn’t survive palace politics and she didn’t want him to suffer a ‘rude awakening’. It seemed, not only did she have to look out for the well-being of her future Rise, but she also had to train her future Ri/King from the ground up!

But, she thought, that could all wait for a little while longer.

Hence, with a small wave of her hand, the dark, stinking sewers lit, as a glowing orb of golden light appeared in long, slender fingers.

 

Udoorin squinted at the bright light and mumbled.

“I feel like a blind dwarf that’s just come out of his hole.”

Then paused.

“We don’t have to repeat I said that to Lady Magella, do we?”, he asked carefully. Then bent down and carefully inspected the bloated Orken.

“Hmmm..”, he mused. “Doesn’t seem to be one of our kills. No hack or cleave wounds, nor any burn marks. Only a little gash at the base of its skull, just where the spine ends —probably paralyzed it instantly. Then there is the puncture mark in its kidney. Only one person I know of would have done this kind of precision strikes and he is not here..”

“Who?”, asked Lorna, coming near the dead creature and looking at the wounds.

“Aager Fogstep.”, Udoorin said.

“Master Darly Dor? Perhaps?”, she offered. “Or maybe even Lady Lilly? They both are still here, in the city, after all. And they both have the skills for this kind of precision.”

“Possible, I suppose. Though Darly tends to be a bit too flamboyant and showy for this kind of delicacy. His would be a full thrust, through the ribs and into the heart, and all the way to the hilt, like he had something to prove.”

 

He paused again, though this time as if to gather his recollections.

 

“As for Lady Lilly, I do not know. I haven’t seen her in action enough to make any educated guesses, though I suspect her’s would be less like Dary’s and more like her brother’s, which stands to reason. They were both born and raised in Drashan and under constant threat of death. One tends to abandon theatrics when they know it will get them killed!”, he replied clinically.

“So, what does it all mean?”, asked Anglenna.

“It means, one; we are not alone down here, two; some of the Orken have managed to find alternative ways to enter the sewers, and three; someone down here is making sure the sewers stay off-limits of the Orken army above!”, he said as he slowly rose and took out his other great axe.

He paused for a third time, then added.

“Isn’t that true?”

 

There was a choked silence and for a moment, only the slow, sluggish sound of the draining sewer and the dripping of water was heard.

 

“Surprisingly astute.. for a country oaf..”, came a muffled, gravelly voice from the darkness.

 

“Awesome timing, I’d say..”, said the young, burly man grinning. “Made me look good!”

Princess Lorna also rose, turned in the opposite direction, and with a swift, beckoning gesture, summoned a pitch-black ‘darkness’ before her, and out of the darkness, she drew a nearly three-yard glaive with thirty-inch sharp steel.

Anglenna took a few, short steps back, giving herself and the two, some room to maneuver as she tossed the glowing globe of light into the air and started to draw energy. In a matter of seconds, she was almost glowing with an eerie, red, smoldering, and wroth fire.

 

“Well. Now that the ‘theatrics’ is out of the way.. “, rumbled Udoorin with a gruffness that would have made his father proud. “..show yourself if your intentions are honorable!”

“Odd choice of words, young Master.”, replied the muffled, gravelly voice. “Shall we hide, if our intentions are not honorable? How does that work, exactly? What happens if we are men of questionable honor?”

“I am not here to pass judgment on your honor. That isn’t really my problem. It is yours.. I am here on a specific mission. If you—”, he said.

“There are seven of them.”, whispered Lorna. “The one that’s speaking, two behind him, two to the far left and three to our far right, blocking our way.”

“—and yours have business elsewhere, by all means, we wouldn’t want to keep you waiting.”, continued the young man seamlessly. “It’s either that, or I swing my axes, the lady standing behind me cleaves with her glaive, and seeing as we have plenty of room, she will do so quite freely. And let me tell you, gentlemen, I just hack things and am not very particular as to where I really hit. Should she have a go at you though, you will lose everything you have between your legs, all the way up to your eyebrows. If that won’t be to your satisfaction, the other lady can incinerate what’s left of you down to pretty, sparkling cinders.”

“Your bargaining technics need some refining, but it does seem to save time.” replied the muffled voice. “We are not here for you, or yours. We were hired, as a guild, for a job far to the east of here, quite some months ago. We were, however, betrayed. The Whispers have a reputation to uphold. Hence we have come to this dead city, seeking for the one who betrayed us and caused the death of many of our brethren. He was last sighted near the great Orken pavilion propped at the north end of The Rundown. We have been using these sewers to get a closer glimpse at him. Close enough for a dagger or seven!”

 

Udoorin’s thick brows shot up.

The Whispers?“, he asked tentatively.

“Our guild..”, said the gravelly voice as if that explained everything.

Udoorin tried from another angle.

“This.. job.. you mentioned.. The one you were hired for.. Was it perhaps in a town called Serenity Home?”

 

It seemed like the dark, stinking tunnel ‘stiffened’ for a moment.

 

“And you would know of this, how?”, asked the muffled voice, though it sounded like it had been asked through clenched teeth.

“Quite by chance, really.”, lied the young man glibly, possibly making Aager proud as well, had he been here. “Met a charming young man in an inn who claimed he was from that town. He’d gone too deep into his drink and didn’t know how to shut up! But if what he was telling me was actually true, didn’t that job end with nearly burning half the town and occur like, six months ago? You guys seem a tad lax on your pursuit and quite unprofessional at what you do. Burning half the town? Really, now.. Seems a tad accessive, don’t you think?”

“The burning of the town was not part of the job. We were misinformed about.. quite a number of things.. As for time, it is irrelevant and only gives the prey the false impression of ‘having gotten away’.. But since you seem so.. informed.. perhaps you may also know about the one we seek.”

“I doubt.”, replied Udoorin as he clenched his axes a bit more tightly. “Seeing as I am not really the ‘clandestine’ type. I mean, just look at me.. I have ‘country oaf’, written all over me!”

The man hidden in the dark was silent for another moment and this time, he seemed to juggle his options. For whatever the reasons were, however, he opted to take a risk and spoke, giving young Udoorin the impression that maybe the ‘muffled’ man in the dark was desperate for information.

“He is a man of slightly above average height, lean built, wears a heavy, deep brown robe, and always has his hood up.”

“That’s not much of a description, is it? Slightly above average is pretty much everyone who is not average. Brown robes are quite common, and I am not a historian for fashion, mind you, but I am guessing hoods have been around since Year One! The fact that his hood’s always up, makes him impossible to identify and makes him easier to blend as nobody will know who he is when the hood and robes are off, yes?”, he rumbled, not relaxing his hold on his axes.

“You three are not an ordinary lot, are you?”, the man’s muffled voice came.

“I doubt anyone ordinary is left in this city.”, Udoorin replied with an easy grin.

“Saw a pickney just yesterday. Wouldn’t have placed him more than six, down in these sewers..”

“Bet he was extraordinary, having survived what’s outside for all this time.”, said Udoorin carefully.

“Gave him some food and sent him off..”

“Guess that makes you extraordinary too..”, the young man said blandly.

“Is this verbal duel going to take any longer?”, fumed Lady Anglenna. “We do have a job to do ourselves, after all.”

“That we do, lady.”, agreed, Udoorin without taking his attention from the muffled voice. “This.. large pavilion.. you mentioned. I have seen it. Surrounded by, I suspect, at least two, maybe three thousand of the Orken. What is it? Do you know?”

“Yes. It’s the tent of no other than the Orken Mother, herself, which makes her the very top dog, or bitch, among the Orken, along with her head Orken Blood-Shaman. The infamous rebellion, the seeker of justice, and the backer of the poor, Gar Thalot is there too, though he isn’t seeking any justice, nor backing the poor, now. Guess he’s done with his rebellion.. The lady here can’t nuke that tent from far enough, can she? Would save the kingdom a lot of trouble, and avenge about a million or so people along the way, I think.”

“The nuking is not the problem.”, smiled Anglenna, giving the muffled voice a thousand-yard-stare. “The Orken, however, have rather thick hides. And I do not believe that tent to be unwarded.”

“You are a perceptive lady.”, the muffled, gravelly voice said, returning the smile. “The Blood-Shaman knows his works, I’ll give him that.”

“I did see..”, inserted Udoorin. “..a tall, skinny woman, skulking near the pavilion, though. Had white braids for hair. She was accompanying someone. It was dark and the torchlights of the Orken play games and cast false shadows, but it is possible the man you are looking for was the same man the tall woman was escorting. I couldn’t hazard a guess about the color of his robe, but he did wear a hood. A tall, deep hood. I mean, who wears his hood up at night? It’s not raining, nor snowing outside.. not at that moment, anyway. Perhaps his ears were cold. Or he had a face to hide..”

 

The seven men seemed to prick their ears like some old Basset Hounds at the mention of the tall, deep hood, as that was a detail they hadn’t revealed.

 

“I see.. Perhaps you have some ill feelings for the tall, skinny woman with the white braids and wish to use us against her?”, growled the muffled voice.

 

Udoorin shrugged.

But his reply burned..

 

“I have ill feelings for many who sided with the Orken and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians, brought devastation to a peaceful city, desecrated their lands, and mutilated what remained.. The Orken, I can understand, to a point. They want the land. Just the land, mind you.. Any elf, human, dwarf, or gnome who made it possible for them to attain their bloody slaughter, however, shall never suffer a moment’s peace.”

 

“Now I see.. better..”, said the muffled, gravelly voice and fell in silent contemplation. Then as if waking from a long, droning sleep, he spoke again and there was some, barely discernable heat in his voice as well. “Men such as we are beyond peace. But perhaps we may be of some use to you after all.. We have thus cleared most of the sewers as far as we have come. I suspect you have done the same from your end.”

A careful, metallic tingling echoed in the sewer tunnels and something glittered next to Udoorin’s feet.

“Take this, young Master. It is a token of our.. appreciation, per se.. I gather both of our time is short, but perhaps we can make better acquaintances at a lengthier time and atone for our end of the sins..”

 

That said, Udoorin heard a swift shuffling of silent feet and..

 

“They are gone..”, said Princess Lorna quietly.

“You.. handled that exceptionally well, young Udoorin.”, complimented Anglenna as she stared at the big, burly man with a slightly puzzled expression.

“I did?”, asked Udoorin, with a similarly puzzled face. Then his face lightened. “Yes. I suppose I did.. “

Then he bent down and carefully picked up the curiously glittering object thrown at his feet.

It was a round, coin-like object, though almost palm-sized and quite heavier as if molded by lead. It certainly looked like lead. And its edges were chiseled and while one side of the coin was flat and bare, the other side had a strange, almost symmetrical, rune-like shape on it. Udoorin had never seen a rune like this before, though that didn’t mean much. The young man had never been the scholarly type to begin with. But he got the impression that it wasn’t dwarfish, and certainly not elvish.

“Anyone seen one of these before?”, he asked.

Princess Lorna stared at it for a long time. Then, with her browns slightly frowned, she said, “I may have.. though years ago..”

“I did as well.. Any number of times.. Mother had one of these..”, said Anglenna quietly.

“She did?”, asked both Udoorin and the princess.

“Yes. Carried it with her at all times. I am surprised you saw it too. She was careful never to reveal it to anyone, let alone share a ‘look-at’ with you, of all people, cousin..”, she replied.

“But I didn’t see it from your mother, and neither did she show hers to me.”, said Lorna, frowning even more. “Auntie Angrellen was never.. very sharing with me.. I don’t suppose that has changed over the years.”

“No, dear. It hasn’t.”, replied Anglenna mutely. “Where did you see yours?”

“Inside a jewelry box.. My mother’s jewelry box!”

 

Udoorin stared at the princess with astonishment.

So did Anglenna.

 

“Huh!”, she said. “Seems Auntie Nadina Graciousward had her own share of secrets as well.. What would she be doing with one of these tokens, I wonder?”

“I don’t know, cousin. Nothing is as it seems anymore. Too many secrets. Dark ones too.”, Lorna replied.

“I am sure your mother had a good reason to have one of these. Hey, look, we got one as well, and we have a good reason too, though I have no idea as to what it may be..”, said Udoorin brightly. “Much like we do not know why Lady Nadina had hers, we also don’t know what these tokens are, really. For all we know, it could be a membership to some secret cheese tasting club!”

“Secret cheese tasting club?”, asked Anglenna, staring totally confused at the young, burly man.

“You have no idea about the kind of weird things one can overhear while undercover in various inns and taverns! I have a whole months’ worth of city gossip!”, replied Udoorin cheerily.

“That’s very kind of you to say, Dorin. But if you recall, when the Orken came and we were all running out of Bari Na-ammen, my mother took us through many secret passages. Passages I was never even aware of. How did she know them?”, said Lorna, her eyes filled with doubt and.. tears.

Udoorin looked down at the woman of his life.. and felt despair.. He then looked up at Anglenna, beseeching for her help.

Anglenna came up to her cousin, held her by her slender, narrow shoulders, and turned her around to look directly into her eyes.

“Princess Alor’Nadien ne. You will cease this line of thought, and you will do it now. I suspected the existence of possible secret passages leading in and out of the palace, but I was never told where they were, nor did I find any myself. It is quite possible, only the Ri and the Rise were to know of their existence and their whereabouts. Doesn’t make much sense if just anyone knows about them, does it? Yes, you are a princess, a Riserin, but from a strictly official point of view, that title does not hold any ruling power and is only a name in protocol. Much like many government intelligence and military secrets, only the Ri and the Rise would be made aware of said secrets or may have had access to them. Do not second guess things you do not know. You are the Rise now, as unofficial as that may be. You do not have the luxury to be so chivalrous with the lives and the deeds of others, nor to mope about it. Now gather yourself. I am sure we will have plenty of time to ask Auntie Nadina, just like I am sure she will have a good explanation for having one of these tokens. Then again, she might not. Either way, it might not even be our business to know. People have the right to their own privacy, and to be professionally honest about it, I doubt your mother had anything up her sleeves.”

“But.. how do you know?”, Lorna asked in despair.

“I understand, the events of this past year, particularly those that led to your leaving the palace and your home, and the horrible things you have seen thus far, and the destruction of Arashkan, then your home and your people at such a young age, and with your.. soft.. upbringing, has made you weary and worn out. Hence now you feel hard-pressed in trusting even those around you. I wouldn’t either.. But trust me when I say, had your mother truly did have some sinister plots of her own brewing behind the scenes, my mother would have found out about it and delightfully used it to besmirch her. She spent a considerable amount of her fortune, and her last thirty years seeking damning information about her. And when that failed, about you!”

“She did?”, asked Lorna even more downed.

“Yes, she did.”, said Anglenna. “Seeing as how I helped her get it!”

“I.. knew..”, Lorna whispered quietly. “All along.”

“Yet you chose to put your trust in me. And at first, I thought you were just as foolish as my mother perpetually said you were. But as time went by and you grew, I thought your trust in me would diminish. But it didn’t. Your trust grew with you. You opened up to me. You told me things that you shouldn’t have. And like the fool that I was, I passed all those secrets you divulged upon me in confidence, on to my mother, leading to the events that caused you to abandon your home and your rightful throne, just to avoid a conflict with your father, Ri Grandaleren. I.. am sorry, Lorna.. There is nothing I can possibly say to encapsulate just how sorry I really am for the things I did to you.”, Anglenna said, her beautiful face burning with shame. “And the bitter irony of it all is; I wanted to say all these to you, but in a better setting. Yet here we are, under a burning city, and in some stinking sewers.. Speaks quite loudly just exactly where I belong. But then, here you are as well, trying to fix what my mother did and still trusting me.. Know, though, I shall stay with you and your man for the rest of my life. I shall also be with your line, advising them and protecting them. My only consolidation is, one day, you truly will forgive me for all my transgressions against you, because at the end of the day, it wasn’t my mother who destroyed you, it was me.”

 

Lorna looked up at her very tall, regal cousin..

..and simply hugged her.

 

“It is so much easier to hate, my dear Lenna. I chose not to. Because you were always smart. And you would always play with me even though no one else would because I was a ‘half-breed’. And you always ate the horrible things I cooked. You were ‘blood’ and you were always my elder sister. And.. when you were with me, I noticed your grim face wasn’t grim. You laughed when we were together. I never saw you laugh any other time. The short few weeks we spent together on our way to High Spires and back, years ago, was one of my merrier days. I am happy you are with us, sister cousin, even though I can see you are sad, and how things turned out between you and your mother. I.. truly wished we could have made peace with her. But I am afraid she has her own agenda, and that agenda does not involve me, nor my people. As for you, my sister cousin, only two people in this world I would wish to always be with me, and both already are.”

“Do not fret about my mother, princess. I don’t. Not since I understood the extent of her ‘agenda’, which didn’t include me either. I was merely a backup plan for her. Nothing more. Part of her, ‘grand plan’, per se. And that plan was set before either of us even came to be. Like, by seven or eight hundred years.. It will take years, decades, possibly, for me to get over my mother and what she did to me. And likely centuries before I am not called to task any more because of her machinations and her betrayal.”, said Anglenna and hugged her cousin even tighter.

 

Udoorin coughed a bit uncomfortably.

 

“Uhhmm.. Ladies? Perhaps we should move on? We still have a bit of stinking ground to cover. And I don’t even know what we’ll do when we get there, or how we will get out of this city, once the deed is done. We have already used one of the two days that ARIS guy, Largo, gave us before they abandoned High Spires and the city.”

“Let’s get a move on indeed, then, young Udoorin.”, smiled Anglenna, and she seemed very much..

..relieved.

Such as she had never felt before.

True.

That the once High Lady of Bari Na-ammen, Anglenna, had made her choice and faced her princess with her past sins. Also true that the details of said sins were not covered as yet, but where there had been uncertainty, there was now a steady, beating surety. And where there had been ominous doubt, there was now feather-light and elating trust.

She no longer saw only a dark, smothering future for herself.

She saw a dark future that failed to smother and was worth fighting for..

For she saw the bright existence of her Rise Alor’Nadien ne there.

And she would be sure to guard her and hers, no matter the cost.

✱ ✱ ✱

Still here, my darling?”, came the insinuating voice of the former High Lady Angrellen. “Makes one wonder, just what are you doing here, my little dove?”

Anglenna stumbled.

“What do you want, mother? I would have thought our last conversation had covered pretty much everything I wanted to say to you.”, she finally replied after a fuming moment.

“Want? Nothing, my sweet baby girl. I am merely inquiring about your health, that’s all. This place is, under siege, after all. Well, it was, under siege. But the details of its current condition are a tad moot, don’t you think?”

“You really want to push this as far as it will go, don’t you, mother?”, grinded Anglenna.

“Why, whatever do you mean, daughter?”

“My darling? My little dove? My sweet baby girl? You have never called me any of those in the past one hundred and seventy-eight years, mother. Never once! And suddenly I am your darling? Your little dove? Your sweet baby girl? Your choice of pet names for me are not just believable, they are also grossly fake, crook, and fictitious, and just gross. The only thing you have been sincere thus far is how you truly perceive the world around you; moot!”, she said and did something she never wished to have done, ever since what she had seen in the dream of what had really happened in the Arena and had, conclusively, chosen her side, and chosen to change..

 

Anglenna sneered..

..at her mother.

 

“I am sorry you had to endure some minor hardships, my dear. You must understand, however, everything I did, I did for you..”, said Angrellen’s voice, a bit desperately.

“Minor? You call what you did to me, to Bar Na-ammen and to Arashkan, minor? You, mother, are walking over the corpses of people who were alive merely two weeks ago, and you call that minor? Mother, I am tempted to call you mad, but what truly is moot is me calling you that.. And no, mother, nothing you did was for me. Everything you did, you did for yourself. I was merely a part of your great scheme. A tool, an accessory, and no more. And you know what? No more, indeed. This day forth, you are my mother no more. You are a traitor and no more. You are the greatest unholy calamity this world has seen and no more. You, mother, are a butcher and no more.. This, you will understand in time, during your endless millennia of lonely and miserable immortality!”

“Darling. The road to greatness is always paved with ‘minor’ people. You must understand this. And given enough time, you will —when you have reached the end of your one thousand five hundred years of life.”, Angrellen said with a relaxed tone.

“And what will you accomplish in your immortality, now, mother? What will you do with it that you haven’t been able to do in your last one thousand five hundred years?”, her daughter asked acidly.

“Ow, I’ll think of something. I am totally free now. I can do anything, and whatever I want.”, Angrellen replied merrily.

“You will always be you, mother. And ‘Betrayer’ will follow you wherever you go.”, Anglenna said cooly.

“No, my daughter darling. Come next millennia or two, no one will remember Angrellen as a betrayer, for any and everyone who thinks so, shall long be dead!”, laughed her mother.

“No, mother. That particular aspect of you is there to stay and no amount of centuries or millennia will wash that off you.” Anglenna said quietly.

“Ow?”, her mother asked.

“Yes, mother. Because everyone and everything around you may change, but you are you, and that is also there to stay.”, Anglenna said and felt sad for the truth her words held.

“People do change, daughter mine.”, Angrellen said somewhat diffidently.

“You had a millennium and a half for that. Tell me, mother, how did that go for you?”, Anglenna asked with bitter shame.

 

There was a moment of silence and she felt, for the barest of moments, the tiniest flutter of regret in her mother.

 

“I wasn’t always like this, you know.. I was young too, once, and happy. I was the Riserin of my people. I was going to be their Rise. Then my father, the great and wise Lienierre Moonlight, saw fit to take that away from me. And gave it to my idiot and incompetent brother. What did my brother possess that I didn’t? Look what he did to our Bari Na-ammen? None of this would have happened had I been the Rise..”, she replied bitterly.

 

Anglenna didn’t wait to slap in her reply for she had no wish to reminisce with her mother..

..at all.

 

“Grandaleren held nothing above you, mother. Whether he was an incompetent fool or not was irrelevant for he was never going to be the Ri, either. Selendenien Sindarin, your sister, the youngest of the three.. She was going to be the Rise, had she not been slain in the Themalsar War, leaving my grandfather to make a choice between a mad, psychotic, power-hungry daughter, and an incompetent fool of a son.

 

But you, mother, you wouldn’t have accepted her either, even though we both know, you would never have made a ruler as beloved and great as her. Just like you would never have bowed to Selendenien’s rule, you never had any inclinations to submit to Alor’Nadien ne, who is so much like her youngest aunt..

 

You used her ‘half-breed’ status as an excuse and milked it for all you were worth.. The outcome of your leadership would have been the same no matter how things turned out, for you would have ruled with a nefarious and bloody iron fist, and you would have used fear, terror, and carnage to your cause. In this aspect, you are the linear opposite of both your sister and your niece, which is why High Woods chose your sister, and after a thousand years, She chose your niece as its heart and never you, which is also why you let the Orken burn our forest. You couldn’t even bear the ‘soul-sight’ of an as sacred a being as High Woods.

 

You, mother, let those unholy beasts destroy the very being that defined who we were, out of spite!

 

Had you been in reign, you would have attacked Arashkan and consequently, and conclusively, brought the destruction of Bari Na-ammen, no matter what, because all the other cities; Vodgar, Durkahan, Koruxan, Palantine, Endless Watch, and even armies from as far as Malis, Kronor, and Devien would have banded against us, causing Solace and Tranquil elves to start a war against them in return, bringing the fatal destruction of Demon Wall and Heavens Hand at the hands of the hording demons they are guarding against, all of which would have started the end of our world and we both know this to be true..

 

You, mother, made pacts with the demons for the sake of your pathetic immortality!

 

You, mother, are a blight, and right there is the problem, sitting in plain sight and you never saw it, which is why my grandfather denied you your right to rule and the reason why High Woods never chose you as Her heart; neither High Woods, nor Her people are yours, mother. They are not your property or your possession nor are they your servants. Their existence is not for the benefit of your sufferance. They never were. Yet, you saw them as such even when you were a ‘happy’ little Riserin. You thought they were there for you to do as you pleased and that their lives belonged to you like they owed you their very existence.

 

Well, guess what, mother. They aren’t, and they don’t. Barely fifteen and Alor’Nadien ne saw this, knew this. And when she grew up to the mature, solemn woman that she is, she abandoned her title and her heritage for her people, hence there would never be a rift between them, should she dish out with her father. She knew, should she become the Rise of a divided people, she would be so for a mere century or two and believed her people deserved a better, longer, steadier, and a united reign.

 

But you, mother, you destroyed them all. You let our sacred forest be burned to the ground. You let our holiest place, our Bari Na-ammen be leveled to the ground because you thought you had such a right.

 

You, mother, were despicable then, you are despicable now. You did not change. Your follies, your arrogance, your murderous appetites, and your betrayals are indeed, there to stay, and no amount of millennia are going to wash those off you.

 

You, mother, killed your husband —my father, because you thought he had done his job and provided you with a toy you could mold as you pleased, then discarded him, selling his soul to the highest bidder!

 

You, mother, brainwashed me for one hundred and seventy years and made me help you as you destroyed our homes and our lands.

 

You, mother, have people no longer.. You have no home, you have no lands, you have no family, you have no children and no love.

 

You, mother, are all alone and will stay alone.

 

You, mother, are damned and will stay damned.

 

Back then, at least you were a High Lady, respected and honored, if not loved. Now you have neither, and will have neither. And by the Heavens, I shall make sure you are remembered as the mad, traitorous bitch that you are, always, even if I have write it down on every single bit of parchment, scratch it on every available stone, rock or pebble, or mark it on every tree from Rollins Woods to Tranquil Woods, just like I shall make sure the centuries and the millennia to come also remember you for what you are —and elves, as you very well know, mother, are excellent haters..

 

The only thing I wish for your is to live one thousand desolate years for every single life you caused to perish!”

 

Anglenna pulled just this side of total and hysterical raving.

But it sure felt good!

Exhilarating, really.

To have laid it all out, and without any reservation, nor having to tiptoe around her deranged mother anymore. True, it hurt her, and deeply. So much so that she felt her heart burn. But nothing she had said had missed their mark.

She knew, even as she’d spoken, that her mother, Angrellen, was now her mortal enemy, and one day, and in the not-too-distant-future, she knew she would have to face her..

..if she expected any form of peace for her cousin, Rise Alor’Nadien ne, her burly, young husband-to-be, Udoorin, and their possible line, if not for herself.

 

And just like that, she heard her voice.

Not her mother’s.

But that of someone else..

Someone.. big —at an existential level.

And profound.

 

 

thus I accept your oath
Anglenna Brightleaf
you are the protector of mine heart
and thus are you
the guardian of her line also
 
Thus I accept your Oath,
Anglenna Brightleaf.
You are The Protector of mine Heart.
And thus are you
The Guardian of Her line, also.

 

 

Anglenna Brightleaf heard the voice of Quarlani Ath Tel’Ora, the Spirit of High Woods, accepting her pledge as the protector and the guardian of Her Heart, Alor’Nadien ne, and her line to come..

 

And then, a vision She showed her..

 

Not of the past.

Not of the present.

But that of a fertile and pregnant future..

 

A vision, where Anglenna saw the image of her blushing cousin, looking demurely at her big, grumpy husband, who rampaged with mock wrath after a tiny, giggling boy and three squealing little girls pitter-pattering in the great halls of a new and bright Bari Na-ammen.

And that vision rocked Anglenna to the very foundations of her existence. Because right behind the princess, she saw herself, quite vividly, smiling at the sight of her cousin, blessed and content, her bearish husband, older now, grinning foolishly, with autumn leaves; green, orange, and yellow sweeping freely around them she saw their son, and three daughters —her nieces, as they stared at her, all happy, and all safe..

 


 

 

arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons groups modül savaş serenity The Great Arashkan the plot thickens Whispers; A Cabal

“Mother, why?”

“Mother, why?”

Timeline:

It is the lost hours of the night and three figures slink silently among the devastated remains of the once glorious city of Arashkan, deep in the dirty-gray snow.

Young Udoorin Shieldheart, the beautiful Princess Alor’Nadien ne Feymist, and her regal cousin, High Lady Anglenna Sunsear ghost through the dead streets of the city, heading in a particular location; the old hideout of the Thieves Guild in search of a curse..

There are Orken warriors, scouts, hunters, and raiders everywhere, roaming the streets in platoons, seeking possible survivors. It is possible, there are more dangerous places in the world. From a ‘versus’ point of view, however, it is unlikely this place, at this moment, will fall short of the Citadel of Gullem the Damned!

 

Fate, it would seem, indeed has its own plans..

And an odd, dry sense of humor.

One might even call it ‘backhanded’..

 

For at this very moment, two Sunsear’s roam the carnage of this dead city; Mother and daughter, each working for quite opposite ends.

 

This story takes place on the evening of
The Malediction of ‘Rellen.. (Part 3/3)
“Three Dog Curse..”

and shortly after
We Are Not Your Dogs
We Are Not Your Servants
We Are Your Masters!

 

 

Here..”, said the large man as quietly as he could, though it mattered little. His ‘quiet’ was like a rumble at best, as he handed a not-so-clean, heavy fur cloak to the slim girl ghosting behind him. “..put this on, if you will, please.”

The slim girl, Princess Alor’Nadien ne stared at the filthy fur cloak questioningly.

“To cover your scent.”, Udoorin Shieldheart rumbled again.

Lorna Feymist arched her eyebrows in amusement.

“Do I smell, Sir Udoorin?”, she asked, the signs of mirth playing around her small, cherry-red mouth.

“I..”, stumbled the young man.

“I sense a nostalgic ‘Deja Vu, here.”, she smiled at him.

“You smell beautiful, my lady..”, he said with a flushed face, recalling his first, not conversation, per se, but interaction with the pretty princess, many months ago, in the depths of the ruins of Themalsar. “..which is the problem.”

“Do dig your own grave, young Udoorin.”, smirked High Lady Anglenna from somewhere in the darkness. “I have heard tell of how you destroyed our princess here, with a similar remark.”

“Please, Auntie H. I haven’t gotten over that particular blunder, yet. Princess Lorna smells wonderful. And anyone who gainsays that will do so only once. But the Orken have a keen sense of smell, unlike the dogs they are. Should they pick up her scent, there will be no getting rid of them.”, he tried to explain.

“Ahhh..”, said Anglenna with comprehension. “Though, for future reference, you should work on giving your reasons early on, preferably before telling us what to do —to fend off misunderstandings, yes?”

“Duly noted.”, Udoorin replied honestly. “Look. I am not good at.. interacting with ladies. I can’t claim any knowledge, nor experience in that area. A bit of understanding my way would be greatly appreciated.”

“Not good at interacting with ladies? I couldn’t disagree with a single sentiment more. You have garnered the affection, and the life-long bond of the heart of High Woods, young man. Suffice to say, ‘Not good with ladies’, is quite the understatement.”, she said with her own, stinging amusement.

 

Udoorin blushed.

So did the princess.

 

“So, where is my fur cloak, then? Or do I not smell wonderful, too?”, continued the high lady, causing the young man to squirm.

“I.. wouldn’t know, ma’am. You.. will have to find someone else to confirm that!”, Udoorin said with a cough.

“Cousin.”, said Lorna reprovingly, but with a small, quiet laugh. “Why don’t you take mine. I am sure we can find another from a dead Orken, as uncouth as that sounds.”

“No, no.. Young Udoorin here has selected that one specifically for you. We wouldn’t want to find any personal notes in it somewhere. That would really make us all blush, now, wouldn’t it?”, Anglenna teased in a tone, not at all like her usual self.

“I would not put any such notes that would embarrass Lady Lorna’s nor her reputation”, Udoorin said indignantly.

“Ow?”, asked Lorna a bit.. disappointed?

“I would tell it to her.”, mumbled the young man with a horribly failed straight face.

“Ow..”, Lorna said, with a failed straight face of her own.

 

Anglenna sighed in despair, turned around..

 

..and a sleety, frigid ray of frost stabbed out of her forefinger and something grunted in the dark. The high lady did not wait for a reaction. She sent a second beam..

..followed by a third, and a fourth!

And a large Orken stumbled out of the night and fell, face down, into the dirty-gray, slushy snow, with a burning-cold hole pierced right through its heart, its stomach, its forehead, and in one of its lungs..

 

Lorna dashed past her cousin and in black, swirling smoke, a glaive, nearly three yards long and ending in a thirty-inch blade with burning greenish chemical fire appeared in her hands, just as Udoorin rammed into another Orken and hacked it with his two, great battle-axes with unsuppressed fury.

 

“It would seem, the idea of covering our scents was a good one..”, said Anglenna as she sent a fist-sized bolt of fire flying right over Lorna’s shoulder and struck the Orken trying to come at the princess from her side. “..albeit a tad too late. The dogs are upon us.”

“Sir Udoorin..”, hissed Lorna as she swung her brutal glaive and struck the great Orken facing her, splitting it from groin to hairline, spun around as she ducked under the swing of the Orken that was trying to flank her, and jabbed it, belly first, then pushed the butt end of deadly glaive’s enchanted blade up and through its throat as it stumbled back. “..we had better finish this batch with haste. We lack the time to entertain ourselves with such frivolities.”

“Agreed.”, growled the huge young man, struck one Orken on its shoulder with one of his axes, opening a horrible, diagonal gash, as he head-butted the next, and brought down his other axe when it dropped on the ground. The creature had a bare moment to scream before it fell silent.

By the time they were done, Udoorin was holding Lorna’s hand and rushing down a long, dark alley, followed closely by Anglenna.

 

“I think we lost them.”, said Udoorin as he breathed harshly. It didn’t matter how strong you were. If you were not born in the wild Northern Tundras, running in full armor and through icy snow wore you down. Then he looked down at the slim girl, who was nursing her hand and wrist. “I am sorry if I was a bit abrupt with your person, Lady Lorna. We just had to get out of there and fast, before more of them arrived.”

“It is alright Dorin. It only hurt a little and only because I was taken by surprise when you grabbed my hand and started running.

“..and nearly dislocated her shoulder.”, added Anglenna with a clearly disapproving tone. “You are aware that the princess can run faster than you, right? Considering she is wearing lighter armor than you are, and because she is a feymist..”

“Uhhmm.. Yes.. She’s better than me in everything she does.. But I like to hold her hand when we run. We can’t get separated that way and it makes me feel she is safer that way. It’s a guy thing!”, said Udoorin a bit flustered.

“A guy thing? Young man, you can’t do your guy things around a princess. And you really should be a bit more gentle with her. The fact that you and she are now bonded and plan a life together, should not diminish that capacity in you, but enhance it, hmm?”

“It really is alright, cousin.”, Lorna tried to object.

“No, dear. It is not. Our young man here is strong. Neither of us has any doubts about that. But uncontrolled strength is harmful.. to your wrists if not to your dignity. One day this war will end, hopefully in our favor. We will then return to High Woods, replant our trees, and rebuild Bari Na-ammen. And young Udoorin here will be sitting next to you in his own throne as Ri.. or King.. I would hazard a guess, it would be rather disgraceful of him, if not awkward, should he manhandle you in public the way he just did, don’t you think?”

“The war is long from over, Anglenna.”, Lorna said quietly. “And we can think of such tender details when their appointed time arrives.”

“No, dear.”, repeated Anglenna and not unlike a harsh matron, who was dismantling a particularly pigheaded and foolish child. Or perhaps, quite like her own mother had done to her, when she, herself, had been particularly dimwitted. “Somethings must be put to practice as early as possible, hence they take hold and such embarrassing accidents are avoided because they never occur. You know what my mother thinks of humans, dear. You certainly know what your father felt about them despite his wife —your mother, and we both know their view was not all that uncommon among the elves of High Woods. Do not give your people any excuse to let your future husband and king besmirch himself, and you, by proxy.”

 

There was a moment of awkward silence.

 

“Auntie H. is right.”, came Udoorin’s voice from the darkness. “Personally, I do not care what anybody but you would think of me, one way or the other. But since you have your mind all set on making me a Ri.. or a king.. certain protocols must be observed, for your benefit, if nothing else. Like I said. I do not care what anybody thinks of me, other than you, but I will not have you accused of having a stupid Mox for husband, either.”

 

Anglenna stared at the large young man who favored big, brutal axes over longswords and rapiers, and whom she would have kindly described using words like ‘lump’, ‘oaf’, or even ‘boorish’.

Lorna also stared at him, but with elation.

 

“I could handle a bit of rough.”, she said with a small voice.

Udoorin coughed.

“In private, perhaps. And only if you want to. But you shouldn’t have to handle any ‘rough’ in public. You are what you are, love. And you shouldn’t be less than that to make me appear more. I should raise above, and make you more. When your people look at us, they should say, ‘They go well together and complete one another..'”

“Well.”, said Anglenna, with a voice that sounded surprised and a bit perplexed. “Very good, young man. It is decent of you to see what is right and proper for our princess and act accordingly.”

 

Young Udoorin grinned.

 

“But of course, Auntie H.. Henceforth, I shall grab the princess by the waist and carry her off whole! Less chance of wrist injuries that way.”

✱ ✱ ✱

The three stood still and silent as another platoon of heavily armed Orken trampled by. For the past near-six hours, they had made their way from High Spires to what was left of the Lights Temple where they had witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of civilians —men, women, and children— guards, priests, and temple guardians slaughtered and stacked into horrible and ghastly heaps. They had given a wide berth to the shattered and broken First Lord’s Palace where it seemed, some people had remained and were still willing to fight to the inevitable end. Though very much burned down and still smoking, they had traveled through Heaven Park, ran, snuck and cut their way past the totally destroyed Officers District, scathed through the looted Merchants District, and had just dashed past the collapsed Alls Temple where a very large boulder, possibly from an Orken mangonel had landed.

They had ended up backtracking their steps many times to find negotiable paths due to collapsed or still burning walls, homes, and towers, or because there were just too many of the savage Orken troops blocking their way.

The comparison to the many times they had wandered around in this city during their earlier stay as opposed to now was heartbreaking. For Udoorin, the besieging, and consequently, the capturing of a city was understandable and there was bound to be extensive damage to the city walls and some damage to the structures near the city walls due to stray catapult boulders. No one really blamed a catapult operator for being overtly accurate, after all, and when one spoke of mangonels, the word accuracy sort of became moot, as a boulder fired from a house-sized contraption not only crushed its mark but also leveled the block as well, which, by definition, was what ‘collateral damage’ pretty much meant.

This city, however, hadn’t been besieged. Not with the intention of subduing it for political, economical, or even some malignant ideological reasons, nor had there been any punitive intent behind it..

At all..

 

It had been utterly destroyed.

And with her people.

 

There were indeed no political, economical, and/or ideological reasons —or excuses— behind this destruction. The populace here had never discriminated, suppressed, or exploited the Orken, nor had they, in any way, tried to assimilate them —seeing as their whole existence had hardly even been known to the general populace, and those that did know about them were an extremely small and specific percentage of the said populace.

 

The Orken had come.

And the Orken had taken..

..the LAND!

 

Yes.

They had taken the land.

Not Arashkan, not High Woods, nor Bari Na-ammen.

Just the land.

The fact that over a million lives were already living there, and that they had families, homes, and fields had not even been of a moment’s shrug for the Orken.

 

The Orken had merely cleared the weeds..

..to phrase it in the most brutally inhumane and crude way!

 

Udoorin’s face turned black at the comprehension of that sinister attitude. And yes. That is exactly what it was. A purely sinister attitude.

Historically speaking, people with low self-esteem did have a tendency to claim a certain superiority in their existence by arrogantly attaching ideologies that always seemed to involve some form of divine favor on their part that, interestingly, never entailed honest, hard work, and then went ahead and tried to justify the whole debacle by way of buffing it further with some form of convoluted philosophies.

However the whole thing was laid out or phrased in a politically correct manner, and at the end of the day, it was a farce; a matter of not high ideals, but a matter of low self-esteems and attitude disorders.

 

The nuanced difference here was, although the Orken did what they did, and with very bloody and nearly impartial savagery, they hadn’t done it to elevate any such petty existential reasons as ‘low self-esteems’ on their part.

They had done it all with a certain attitude, sure. Just not for low self-esteem.

Udoorin found it quite difficult to correctly describe the difference mainly because it was just too inhuman. Had it been humans who had done this atrocity, he could have easily called it cruel and ‘inhumane’, but that was it, wasn’t it? The Orken was not human in any way to find a common, relatable point.

Which was why, he surmised, they looked upon humans —along with elves, dwarves, gnomes, and other races— as weeds..

 

True, that young Udoorin himself had entertained every encounter he faced with loosely controlled fury. And also true that he did have a tendency to cut down his opponents to quite a number of unnecessary pieces. But he never went as far as mindlessly chopping any and everyone down to indiscernible parts with such indiscriminate savagery.

For Udoorin, the defining line was clear; if anyone, or anything, came at him or his friends with drawn weapons, claws, or started shooting arrows, bolts, spells, and/or any other bodily or non-bodily parts, or they just needed to be stopped from causing harm to others, namely civilians, he butchered them..

..down to indiscernible parts.

And for the young man, that was quite a philosophical distinction; there was, after all, and obviously, a conflict of interest there, as he strongly believed that he was protecting humanity, and not limited to said race, per se, and that he also represented the law, as loosely as that actually was true.

Hence;

“Let said blades, claws, or great axes, in his case, decide!”

 

For the Orken, however, none of such distinctions or definitions existed. They came, they swept the lands of its occupants by way of total and brutal economy and moved on!

Young Udoorin remembered their first true encounter, or rather, their first time being at the recipient end of an ambush by the Orken several months ago somewhere in Two Day Woods. He recalled what the last remaining Orken had said —spat, really— even though he’d been captured, disarmed, and bound by a spell Maser Gnine had cast. He had shown absolutely no fear whatsoever, but rabidly frothed at the mouth as he had cast his spiteful madness at them with pure, unadulterated hatred;

 

I shall rip out your arms, and shall I watch the face of your pain. Whilst I see, you have thus suffered enough, shall I tear off your legs and gnaw upon them even as you watch. And unto the day I have broken your will and your spirit, thus shall I cut the flesh off your bones! When you have witnessed how thoroughly we have risen above you and yours, shall I know, you are now truly broken. Then, and only then, shall I burn what remains of you, alive, and shall I allow you to die!

 

And he also remembered, subsequently, how the otherworldly girl, Merisoul Xyrotwu, had stabbed the creature where it lay on the ground with cold and deliberate precision, right through its heart, and very, very slowly.. as she’d explained, in succinct detail, just how these creatures, the Orken, perceived the world; not in black and white, but ONLY IN BLACK!

 

Their black!

 

Udoorin scowled and tried not to show any of his findings on his face. The ladies were troubled enough as they were. Also, the finer points of it all were sort of moot at the moment anyway and the night was almost over. Either they would need to find a very secluded place to hide come dawn, which seemed unlikely, or they really needed to get to the old Thieves Guild’s entrance before said dawn.

Udoorin had never been much of a tracker, nor a pathfinder as he’d never had any such training. He had, however, visited many of the inns in the past months, while he had gone incognito, a bit on Aager’s ‘polite’ orders, trying to learn the whereabouts of the infamous rebellion, Gar Thalot. In the end, they had found the half-orc insurgent.. and played right into his bloody hands..

Pushing Gar Thalot aside, the young man did recognize the area even though it had been leveled downed and into the ground; they were very close to the inn they had stayed in, at The Rundown!

And the area was crawling with Orken..

..or rather trampling.. or even stampeding!

And in the dark, where he and the two ladies stood, silent and still, he rumbled to himself.

“Perhaps Gar Thalot need not be pushed aside..”

“Hmmm?”, asked Lorna whispered from right behind him.

“Gar Thalot.”, Udoorin whispered back. “Just saw him sulking off into that big tent where there is a lot of Orken.”

Both the princess and Anglenna looked at one another with grim, one-thousand-yard stares.

“Bad idea, love.”, inserted Udoorin hastily, showing unexpected wisdom, quite above his usual self. “I would like to hack at him with an axe or three myself, but I do not think it is practical, nor feasible. Not at the moment anyway.”

“If we can kill that murdering bastard..”, hissed Anglenna with vehement heat. “..we could avenge a whole city of people.”

“I very much agree with my cousin.”, added Lorna, her green eyes burning with an uncanny fire of her own.

“Or we could get butchered and neither avenge anyone nor be able to do what we came here to do.”, said Udoorin carefully.

“I think we should ambush him the moment he comes out of the tent.”, said Anglenna, her long, elegant fingers fidgeting with the urge to set something ablaze

“Sir Udoorin could charge him while I could feymist right behind him and skewer him like a stuck pig and cousin Anglenna can burn him where he stands, quite unmoving!”, hissed Lorna, as she summoned her great hexblade!

“Uhhhmm..”, the young man said somewhat taken aback by the vehemence of the two ladies.

“Yes.”, agreed, Anglenna looking eagerly at Lorna. “If you drop everything you got on him—”

“—I can. I am not one hundred percent at the moment but what I do have should suffice.”, said Lorna eagerly.

“Ladies..”, Udoorin said weakly as he scratched his head.

“Once you do skewer him, I can immolate the pig.”

“Nice.. While he burns, I can also curse him. He will be much more susceptible to attacks then!”

“If he still manages to live through that, I could always banish him. When he returns, we can rinse-repeat!”

“I can’t believe this!”, said Udoorin in a slightly freaked tone. “I, of all people, am calling both the ladies here to see reason! Really, now. There is no way we can catch him unawares and bring him down in time before anyone else notices us or he calls for backup. Girls, please!”

“I am slightly put out with you, young man.”, Anglenna said with pursed lips and frowned at him, slightly disappointed.

“As am I, dear Dorin. I would have thought you would shown a bit more brevity on your part.”, Lorna said, clearly heartbroken.

 

Udoorin’s face went red.

 

“That.. was very much uncalled for, Lorna. When have you ever seen the lack of courage or brevity on my part?”, he fumed angrily. “We are here to make sure this city becomes uninhabitable by the Orken, not to entertain ourselves by getting sidetracked. And you, Lady Anglenna, of all people, are supposed to be the voice of reason. I know you dislike being made a fool of, but Thalot did not deceive just you, he tricked everyone. Now. I am going to go and look for the entrance to the old Thieves Guild. I would much rather have the two of you come with me, and before dawn, which should happen in less than forty minutes by my estimation because I can’t get to, nor release that ‘Three Dog Curse’ without either of you. And we have yet to find the entrance!”

 

There was a moment of shameful silence as the two ladies stared at their own feet.

 

“I apologize, young man.”, Anglenna said after a while. “You are right and admirably task-oriented. We do have a job to do.”

With that, she turned around and silently started towards the alleged entrance to the old Thieves Guild.

“I have shamed myself by shaming you, my Rin. I will make up to you in whatever way I may.”, said Lorna softly and in a barely audible voice.

“Stay focused and stay alive, my Alor’Nadien ne. That is all I wish of you.”, said Udoorin.

Then, with an unexpected show of ‘brevity’, he reached down at the slim girl, and carefully bear-hugged her, and landed a kiss on her surprised, cherry-red mouth.

“And that..”, he said with a flushed face. “..was for questioning my courage!”

✱ ✱ ✱

You are not picking up your calls, daughter. You really shouldn’t ignore your mother..”, came the voice of High Lady Angrellen.

“I am not picking up your calls because you have shamed me, mother. You have shamed us all..”, fumed the high elf girl in silent wrath. “No. You have DAMNED us all, mother!”

“A fine, noblewoman such as yourself, does not get to talk to her mother like that, my daughter. Not after all the trouble, I went through in giving birth to you, raising you, and training you into becoming the strong woman that you are now..”, replied Angrellen with a slightly petulant tone.

“I am shunned and looked upon with spite, and a whole horde of people want me dead wherever I go at the best of times. You think you have given me a life to live for? No, mother. You have ruined everyone against me.”, Anglenna seethed.

“Don’t be naive, my daughter. You are a sorceress by birth because it was I, who chose the correct bloodline for you. You are what you are, because of my blood and because of the father I chose for you. I have made you independent and free of all yokes. You answer to no one, and that is my doing. You have an affinity to fire and that is because of my contacts and my contracts to the Lords of Hell. You blaze like the sun when you bring down your wrath, and that wrath is also my doing. I gave you my own profound knowledge of the arcane arts and made sure you received the best education Bari Na-ammen had to offer, and that too was my doing. You are barely a mature elf girl and look how far you have thus come. Tell me, my daughter, which of those were truly your own doing?”, the voice of Angrellen hissed in her daughter’s mind.

 

A long pause ensued after that, where Anglenna thought about a suitable answer.

Then it all came to her.

This was what her mother had done all her life.

She had made her feel like she owed everything she had done, every accomplishment and achievement she had attained to her. And she had made her feel like she was nothing, and would stay nothing had it not been for her.

 

Anglenna let go of her mother’s hook and line, for she woke up to the fact that she had made up her mind, and her choice and she was done with her mother and her machinations..

 

“Tell me, mother.”, she sent her thought quietly and calmly. “Did you kill my father?”

 

Apparently, this was not something the former high lady of Bari Na-ammen had expected to be confronted with.

 

“Let’s not go there, dear.”, replied Angrellen.

“We are there, mother. Did you kill my father?”, repeated Anglenna.

Angrellen sighed.

“Your father was a decent man, as men seldom are, my daughter. I think we should leave it at that, why don’t we?”

“No, mother. Let’s not leave it at that. Did you kill my father, or did you not?”

“You are not mature enough to face certain facts of life yet, dear girl. Suffice to say, he did his job giving me a progeny. Beyond that, he was quite useless, and would surely have become an obstacle for my plans..”, sniffed Angrellen.

“To which facts of life are you referring to, that I am not mature enough to face, mother? That you spent your last thousand years plotting and scheming against your own father, then against Alor’Nadien ne’s father —your King, and seeing as how you would refuse to answer a simple question and talk about him as an obstacle, I could safely assume you murdered my father as well because everyone knows what High Lady Angrellen does to things that get in her way.. You, mother, caused the ultimate ruination of High Woods and Bari Na-ammen, the sacred lands of the first high elves since Year One. You, mother, caused the destruction of our homes and our lives. You, mother, annihilated everything that which was sacred and holy and that mattered to us. You, mother, have forever damned the elf race with your selfish machinations. And thanks to you, mother, no one shall ever trust an elf ever again. We shall always be looked upon with mistrust and be forced to seclusion.. and die out alone in this world. You, mother, are a disgrace and an unholy traitor.”, Anglenna burned with hate.

“I would rather you did not talk to me in that tone, my daughter. Come far, you have, but you do not want me seeking you out and reminding you your manners.”, said her mother lightly, though she could not hide the ominous tone in her voice.

 

Angrellen was angry.

 

“No, mother. This is the only kind of manners you shall ever receive from me. You have destroyed and murdered everything I valued. From this day forth, my soul purpose shall be making sure the one person you wanted ‘gone’ the most, even more than Grandaleren, is alive, well, and happy. Should the day come and she faces you, I shall be there —between you and her!”

“Should that day come, you too shall die then, my daughter.”, Angrellen’s resigned voice came.

“Then it shall be a good death, for once I am dead, you truly will be alone, and in every sense possible, for whatever promises your demon lords gave, they shall not keep, because you are you and you will make a mistake that will bring their rebuke upon you..”, Anglenna said, trying very hard to stay calm but she couldn’t hide her own smoldering hate either.

 

Another pause ensued and for a moment, she thought her mother had cut the connection.

 

“This can all be fixed, you know?”, said Angrellen unexpectedly. “All you have to do is kill that pretty little creature for me.. You don’t even have to do it yourself. Accidents do happen, after all.”

“You are despicable, mother. That ‘pretty little creature’ saved my life knowing full well that it would end hers. That ‘pretty little creature’ has been the only person that has ever shown me honest and genuine affection, kindness, and friendship. People who would have killed me do not because that ‘pretty little creature’ demeaned herself and begged them not to.. I shall never betray her.”

“You misunderstand your relation with that half-elf mongrel, my daughter.”, Angrellen said. “The sheep serve. That is their sole purpose in life. And the lion does not owe to the sheep.”

“You are not a lion, mother.”, hissed her daughter.

“I beg to differ, my dear..”

“You, mother, are a jackal, and the last of the Sunsears shall die with you, for I have ceased to be a Sunsear. From this day forth, I shall be known as a Brightleaf, like my father before me.. You, and the line of Sunsears shall be abhorred wherever you go, but the line of Brightleaf shall be honored as the guardians of Rise Alor’Nadien ne Feymist and her line for as long as I live, and through me, for as long as my father’s line shall live..”

 

The silence that followed was vicious and Anglenna thought she heard her mother breathing harshly as if seething and couldn’t help but feel a certain, child-like elation. She would have given quite a bit to see her mother’s face just then, preferably from a far and safe distance.

 

“You really want me to come and find you, don’t you, dear?”, said Angrellen finally and it was very clear she was very, very angry now.

“Mother, why?”, asked Anglenna.

“To teach you some manners. Being away from the refined has apparently made you coarse. You really should be a bit pickier about the company you keep.”

“You misunderstand my question, mother.”, Anglenna said, reflecting her mother’s choice in words. “Why? Why have you done, what you have done? What was lacking in your life that you went thus far to destroy everything and everyone around you to achieve? You had a daughter who loved you. You had a husband who adored you. You had wealth and you had status par to Grandaleren.. What was it that was worth more than all of that?”

 

The high lady did not immediately give her answer. It seemed she weighed it against some possible weakness she might inadvertently reveal.

Then, as if giving an uncaring shrug, she spoke with calm and distant deliberation.

 

“Immortality.”

 

“Found it!”, came Udoorin’s rumbling voice from just ahead, and in the shallow, pre-dawn light.

 


 

 

dungeons and dragons groups modül savaş serenity the plot thickens Whispers; A Cabal

We Are Not Your Dogs.
We Are Not Your Servants.
We Are Your Masters!

We Are Not Your Dogs.
We Are Not Your Servants.
We Are Your Masters!

Timeline:

War comes as we speak.

The folk of Serenity Home, along with the refugees of the deceased Arashkan city and burned Bari Na-ammen work day and night, and desperately, through winter to prepare for what’s coming.

Where the enemy is, and what they are doing, however, remains a mystery..

 

..to those who do not know!

 

Rumour has it, a large chunk of it has..

 

..disappeared!

 

This story takes place sometime between
Promise To Be Stupid Together
and
Deep in Silence.

 

 

The man in the deep, dark, hooded robes stared at the smoking ruins around him with mild disinterest. There wasn’t a foot’s length of flat, clear space to be seen anywhere. Mass rubble; broken bricks, shattered tiles, splintered and charred wood, glass shards of thousands of broken windows, bent and deformed metal shafts, and upheaved cobblestones littered the ground —all that once used to be houses and homes or public buildings and temples, inns, schools, restaurants, merchant stalls and artisan workshops, hospitals, and mansions —the things that made a great city, turned it all into something that was now sad and indiscernible, making it impossible for a foot to find any flat and clear landing.

The man in his deep, dark hood, raised the guttering torch in his hand, but not to much effect. Even the torch seems unable to breathe at the ghastly sight that went in every direction.. It would have been, he surmised, quite better had the Orken not done such a mess as they had. The brutes, he thought, did nothing without leaving a bloody carnage behind them. And they were despairingly independent and lacked base discipline.

The hooded man also thought perhaps he should count his blessings that they had all moved in the same general direction and that Arashkan just happened to get in the way of their general direction!..

..And that it was night ..and winter ..where slushy, filthy-gray snow covered everything and the darkness hid what the snow couldn’t, and the air was still filled with choking smoke, hiding the sight of thousands of butchered, mutilated, seared and bloated corpses that lay everywhere, and smothered their scent of rotting meat!

Had this been a regular army, he surmised, the city would have been intact, more or less, and they would have had many, many more live and able prisoners put to work fixing the city walls and made some of the buildings habitable again..

But then, had this been a regular army, in all likeliness, the once-great Arashkan would still be here, standing..

..and defending.

 

The brutality of the Orken was something one just couldn’t dismiss.

When horded together in tens of thousands, it would seem, their brutality was bested only by their savagely..

 

The hooded man held his steps as another platoon of the beasts trampled past him in harsh grunts, holding tall glaring torches of their own in one hand, jagged-edged axes, frightfully curving arakhs or seemingly similar, but hooked khopeshs in the other..

..and without so much as a cursory glance in his direction.. nor anything that resembled any form of a military salute.

 

The man in his deep, dark, hooded robes felt.. casually dismissed..

 

He had no doubt they had recognized him. Those they did not, were all dead, after all..

Not that he cared, but the city, this city had fallen due to his planning, his foresight, his machinations, and his secret, behind-the-scene political maneuvering, hence, being deliberately and so impudently ignored.. not so much bothered, but irritated him.

“Savage brutes..”, he fumed.

“Yes. They are.”, said a cold, imperious feminine voice from somewhere down a dark side-alley. “It would seem your planning has a lot of glaring holes in it.”

The hooded man held his breath for a still second, then breathed.

“High Lady Angrellen Sunsear..”, he said with unveiled disdain..

..and in long, dark blue velvet dress embroidered at its fringes with silver threads of curving and swirling designs, came out the very tall high elf woman, her white-blond hair braided and done up and into an intricate bun, behind and on top of her long, somewhat delicate face. A face that spoke many words varying from hunger that had little to do with nurturing, to lust that had nothing to do with passion.

Perhaps, once, some very, very long time ago, this tall, beautiful, regal woman might have been pretty, in terms of a soul. That soul, however, was long gone. Only said hungers and lusts etched the face of the very beautiful woman now..

 

“..Or should I just call you Angrellen the Betrayer? That is what you are, after all, aren’t you?”

“No more than you are.”, replied High Lady Angrellen as she strode out of the alley. “Or should I call you—?”

“—You are damned as it is, woman. Should you name me, you shall be dead as well!”, cut in the man in the deep hooded robe.

 

High Lady Angrellen paused.

But not for long.

As an evil and infuriating smile stretched across her, otherwise coldly beautiful face.

 

“I do not fear you, mortal.”, she hissed at the man.

“And I care that you do or don’t?”, replied the man with a barely veiled sneer. “Perhaps, by having sold out your own, causing thousands upon thousands of your kin to die and being the architect of the ruination of Bari Na-ammen and High Woods has gained you some small favor in the eyes of my Master, and quite unrestrained airs, apparently.. Should I remind you, however, a betrayer is, and always be just that; a betrayer. Never trusted, never reliable, and always loathed.”

“I have gained my immortality. Hence your petty remarks are just that; petty!”, retorted the high lady viciously.

“No, girl. You have merely gained longevity, not immortality. You can and will still die.. The outcome of your damned soul is sealed.. Do not despair, though. Your long centuries to come will, I am sure, give you much time to contemplate on your long line of betrayals.. I was against the idea of letting you live, and I still believe you should be summarily beheaded and everything about you should be burned with scourging Hell-Fire. I detest harlots!”

“I would have a care to what you say if I were you.”, said High Lady Angrellen ominously. “You are not indispensable.”

“And neither are you. I am ready to face my Master’s wrath. Are you?”, replied the hooded man, and not so diffidently. “Oh wait, you don’t have a master. You, my dear girl, are an ephemeral and glorified tool!

“No, boy, we serve the same master!”, very nearly spat the high lady.

I serve.. and as His High Priest, I might add. You, on the other hand, serve only yourself.”, said the man calmly and in a matter-of-fact voice.

Angrellen tried for a shrug, but it was apparent she was much taken by the man’s disgust.

“I can serve me more, should you test my tolerance any further. The Master has many priests, high or otherwise. He has, but only one of me.”, she fumed.

“With nothing more than the Orken —beasts one could hardly do anything that requires surgical precision, I have managed to orchestrate the downfall of the greatest city in the Kingdom of Isles, and in less than fifty years of effort. It was I, who created the whole Gar Thalot concept, his rebellion, and the civil unrest. It was I, who played the political animals of this city with my machinations to make sure the Arashkan army stayed in their own base instead of defending the city walls even though their ARIS had serious suspicions of the potential of an imminent attack. The destruction of their mangonels, the murdering of the First Lord Kaladin, his son and his daughters, and much more that I care to list here, were all my doing. You, on the other hand, had more than a thousand years to work with and unlimited personal funding at your disposal.. One would think you would have made yourself the Rise of Bari Na-ammen by then. But no.. You couldn’t rid your lands off a human strumpet that your Ri took for a wife. Not only did you fail to rid us of Grandaleren in time to be of any significance, but you also allowed his human whore to escape along with his daughter and her daughter’s companions.. You failed to even take High Spires under your command, resulting in thousands of Arashkan civilians and military assets to take refuge there and consequently escape the city via ships. No, wait, allow me to reiterate that for you; you had High Spires under your command, yet you let it get bested out of your hands by your niece —an eighteen-year-old girl! Dammit, woman, you were given a curse to lay waste this entire city, and you let that get stolen. You were supposed to have come to us with your own daughter, yet rumor has it she was sighted in the city —this city— in the company of a large, brute of a man and a certain Princess of Bari Na-ammen, no less, fighting the Orken! Not to mention, you had the one job here and that was to find the last surviving heir to Arashkan, an eight-year-old boy, Prince Korodin, and you botched that job as well, while he escaped right under your nose. I am trying very hard to come up with a polite way to phrase your consecutive, cumulative, and conclusive incompetence, but it just isn’t coming! So do tell me, high lady, to which unique aspect of yourself are you referring to? Other than being a monumental failure, I mean..”, said the man with his calm voice. Yet the loathe in that calm was so palpable, one could almost reach out and hold it.. Then, under his deep hood, he smiled. “Do not despair, though. Your long centuries to come will, I am sure, give you much time to contemplate on your long line of failures, also..”

 

The face of the once high lady turned dark and ugly. Her slender hands clenched into fists and dark shadows gathered around them.

 

“By all means, girl, try your ‘hands’ on me.. Succeed to slay me, and you shall fail when you face my Master while you try and explain why you slew His High Priest. Fail to slay me and you shall add ‘A Failure’ to your tombstone, right next to ‘The Betrayer Of Her Own Kin’.. And trust me when I say, I shall end up having to explain nothing to my Master should I smite you down and bring your broken corpse to him for display.. or your ashes.. To be honest, I don’t really care, which. Either will do fine. Or perhaps I shall keep you alive and take you to him barely breathing. I know for a fact, He does enjoy mortal wenches screaming bloody in his bed as he rips their legs apart!”, the man said, with barely contained mirth.

 

For a long, wrathful moment, High Lady Angrellen contemplated murder, High Priest or not.

Then, just like that, she calmed down.

 

“Your attempts to rile me shall have its consequences, High Priest. But I shall decide when and where.”, she said with an almost pleasant smile.

The hooded man grunted with open disgust.

“Coward.”, he spat.

“You are confusing planning ahead with cowardice.”, she replied with a shrug.

“No. I am not. You. Are. A. Coward..”, he seethed. “Something I truly wished you weren’t and actually did try your hand on me.. But I guess you are just another stupid elf bitch.”

“You really shouldn’t try so hard. You will strain something.. Now, if you are done, perhaps we can go and talk to the Orken Mother and tell her to stop butchering everything they find in this bloody city. We will need many mortal’s souls to summon some demons should we want to conquer the east coast of the kingdom, come spring, and that tends to work better when they are still alive before being sacrificed for the summoning rituals! It’s fine with me though. I gave the Master what he wished of me; High Woods and Bari Na-ammen, even though it took me a thousand years, as you say. My further contributions here are purely voluntary..”, Angrellen said, not reserving her infuriating smile.

“You never do anything that isn’t self-serving, Angrellen. So you can skip with the ‘voluntary’ nonsense.”, growled the man with the deep hood.

The high lady shrugged.

“Perhaps. But I guess you will never know, seeing as you will die of old age, if not in some stinking ditch, slain by your enemies.”, she sneered at him.

“I disliked elves before. I loath them just by knowing you, wench! But I know what you are truly after.. You want Gullem’s spot..”

“That information, I am afraid, is quite above your pay grade, priest. Now, you will either come with me and explain to the Orken Mother why she had better stop the butchery, or you can explain to your Master why we still haven’t started summoning his Infernal Troops into this world yet.”, she replied disdainfully.

“Why don’t you talk to her?”, asked the high priest, and not without spite. “I am sure that conversation will go perfectly well. I can just about imagine the Greater Orken Mother being extremely cordial with the former high lady of Bari Na-ammen.”

“Don’t be senile. I doubt she knows who I am, and I hardly think she will listen to me. You, on the other hand, she knows, and very much dislikes.”, said Angrellen viscously.

“And I need you why, then?”

“I am here merely as your.. how do you humans say? Wingman? Or was it back up?”, she said with an evil smile.

“You? You are going to back me?”, scoffed the hooded man.

“But, of course.. Not! I am here to watch you humiliate yourself!”, she said with lazy laughter.

✱ ✱ ✱

The human with the long talks, the demands, and the machinations is here, again, Mother.”, growled the huge Orken warrior with the many scars on his hands, arms, shoulders, and face. His one eye glared with an unholy light while his other eye, a milky, slashed, and dried mess, stared ahead, quite unmoving and petrified.

“Has he brought us any gifts?”, came the grating voice of the Greater Orken Mother, from the dim canopy of her tribal pavilion, set amongst the ruins of what was once an inn, and behind the shattered Alls Temple, in the slums of the decimated Arashkan city. The pavilion itself was quite large and wide, with many brazers burning fitfully here and there and thick, rich carpets that probably belonged to some fateless noble once, were rolled out on the cleared debris of the inn, and several divans and many colorful cushions gave the ‘tent’ a somewhat ‘deliberately’ over-done appearance.

“It is possible, Mother..”, replied the scared Orken. “..He does have a skinny elf loshka with him.”

“Huh.. Perhaps he thinks my appetites go that way.”, rumbled the voice of the Orken Mother. “Let him in. I tire of his demands and his machinations. But he has proven his mettle and has helped us conquer this great city.”

“You are hoping he will have outlived his ‘mettle’, Mother..”, grinned the milky-eyed Orken.

“Yes. Yes, I do..”, growled the Orken Mother from the dimness of her pavilion.

The scared Orken grinned again and left.

“Humans..”, snorted the Greater Orken Mother in disgust. “..And their endless demands like we owe them something.”

 

A few moments later, the scared Orken returned, pushing the pavilion’s heavy flaps aside with his large, powerful hands but did not hold them open for the ‘guests’.

The heavy leather flaps swung back and closed..

..right into the the hooded man’s ‘face’ and the former high lady of Bari Na-ammen just stared at the whole thing.

 

“The lack of base courtesy in your beasts is astounding.”, murmured Angrellen with the slightest sign of irritation.

 

The hooded man shrugged and pulled the flaps open..

..and let them drop right into the high lady’s face!

 

“Really? You will go that low?”, fumed Angrellen and pushed the flaps herself and entered the pavilion, seething at the clear disrespect. “This is intolerable.”

“And who gave this runt of an elf loshka, the leave to speak, I wonder?”, said the deep, rumbling voice from the depts of the tent. “I did not. Did you, Kadar’ka?”

“I did not either, Mother. Perhaps, a bit like the human, it too believes we owe it something.”, replied the scared Orken, staring at Angrellen with one glaring and one, milky-white, eye.

“Shall we ask it, then?”, said the Greater Orken Mother..

..and rose from her divan, pushing the lush cushions aside.

 

What came out of the dim end of the pavilion was..

..HUGE!

 

A hugeness not merely in size, nor in the depth and breadth of her massive arms, shoulders, torso, and legs.

Her hugeness was in her eyes and what they telegraphed;

Unrefined brutality and primeval savagery untouched by anything remotely soft, nor civilized.

This was not a creature that took by the strength of her arms and will.

This was a creature that took.

 

Period.

 

And when she looked upon those around her with the uncanny intensity of her eyes, she told them, clearly as if by words, should they stand in her way, they would only contribute to ‘collateral damage’ and nothing bloody less.

Seeing as what she had done to Arashkan, a city that had stood for over a thousand years, and in under a week or two, she was probably right.

 

Angrellen Sunsear arched her brows and cooly gazed at the massive creature..

..and shut up!

 

The man in the deep, hooded robes coughed.

“Orken Mother. I have come to ask you to seize the butchering of civilians. We need them—”, he began.

“—Your needs are not mine, human.”, cut in the Orken Mother, showing little to no emotion on her brutish face. “We killed and we died to conquer this land. The lives of everything in it are now ours to do as we please. Thus we were promised. And thus shall we reap. Until then, you may either watch the slaughter or be part of it.”

“My Master has His orders given, Orken. Do not get above yourself. You conquered these lands because I willed it so. You won this city because I planed it so. Had you not been given the device to hide you and yours, and the city’s defenses downed, I doubt your victory would have been thus great. Must I remind you just who is in charge, here?”, gritted the man from inside his deep hood.

And do you feel in charge? Perhaps you are under the misguided impression that because you did what you did, you own us?“, stared the Orken Mother balefully at him.

Then she rose to her full height and gave him, and the skinny elf loshka, her uncanny gaze.

A gaze that said, your lives shall depend on how well you listen..

“You must understand, human, for these are the words of I, Guntha’Shar, the Orken Mother;

We are not your dogs.

We are not your servants.

We are your Masters, now!

Should you want to test us, by all means, do.

Tell your master, the Orken are here to stay. Not here to be pawns. If he wants sacrifices for his rituals, perhaps he should overrun the Demon Wall and conquer his own lands. The humans here, however, are ours. We shall have them for pleasure, we shall work them for labor, or we shall slay them for food and for entertainment. They are all ours to do as we please. And come spring, we shall have more.. They shall see us coming and they shall not, and they shall despair, for we shall stretch from one horizon to the other, and we shall be around them, above them, behind them and among them, for we are!

I shall go forth and make my own and I shall leave a kingdom to rule for my son, Guntha’Gar..”

 

And a tall, well-built man and orc also stepped out of the dimness of the pavilion.

A man and orc made of harsh, tight, cord muscle, keen, cunning eyes, and a cruel, sinister face..

A man and orc, no other than Gar Thalot himself!

With his cunning gaze, he stared at the hooded man and the high elf noblewoman.

“Indeed.”, he said with his low, gravelly voice. “I believe we should add them to the pile of corpses we have prepared next to the First Lords shattered palace to match in height. I am sure the wench would make excellent tallow!”

“Have a care, Thalot.”, sneered Angrellen. “Should you raise your hand against me, you will find, I am not one of your usual easy marks.”

“It speaks. And it makes threats.”, Gar Thalot observed with mild amusement. And slowly drew a long, ugly-looking dagger from his belt.

“No, son..”, growled his mother quietly. “Its time will come, for it is shunned by all, disdained by all, and loathed by all.. and no matter where it runs, no matter where it hides, death will find it in due time.. It shall never have a tent to its own, it shall never have mates nor cubs, for its heart is dead and its womb is cold and the only thing that can come out of it are squirming, poisonous bastards. Little pity have I felt for any beast as I have felt for it, for it shall not even have a stone to mark its death. Such is the destiny of betrayers!”

Then she turned to the hooded man.

“I have said my piece, human. Should I want your counsel, I shall summon you.. Its counsel, I doubt even your master shall ever seek. Otherwise, should you and your loshka be here come dawn, you and it shall be tallow.”

 

For a long moment, the deep, hooded man in his robes stood silent.

When he finally spoke, it was in hushed tones.

“Very well.. I shall convey your words to my Master, Orken Mother.”

Then, without further due, he turned around and left, followed closely by the skinny elf loshka..

✱ ✱ ✱

You know, I disliked humans before. I loathed them after Nadina came to High Woods. Knowing you, I actually pity them now. Your lives are worth nothing, yet you walk this earth as if you own it. You stare at the horizon like it owes you something. And then you look at the heavens and make demands.. Your idiocy is bested only by your base arrogance.. And of all the humans I have thus met, I pity you the most..”

“..You punned me for my failures, but at least Nadina Graciousward was a power in her own right and had strong ties to many known and unknown, yet equally powerful allies all around the kingdom..”

“..And yes, I might have been bested by her eighteen-year-old daughter, back then, considering she comes from a human mother and an incompetent fool of a father, and hence, against all expectations, is in truth a girl of heightened grace, honest elegance, devote sincerely, an iron will, and, young as she may be, a woman of innate insight and wisdom for people.. When that girl speaks, people listen.. When she beckons, they follow.. She could have been the Rise of her people had she so much as sniffed in her father’s direction. But she chose to leave, rather than to confront, overthrow and disgrace him, and both the people and the nobles loved her for it, and so did my own daughter; tossed one hundred and seventy years of indoctrination aside and joined her.. I lost to that!”, the once high lady of Bari Na-Ammen, Angrellen Sunsear, said, openly admitting her failures.

Then she looked at the man in the deep, hooded robes with genuine pity.

“You? You got owned by an animal!”

 


Loshka: Orcish word for someone that has no home or clan, and hence, is subject to all forms of ridicule and use. It is also a word commonly used among Orcs and the Greater Orken for a whore.

 

 

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a witness or two..

a witness or two..

Timeline:

A long stream of refugees disembark from the damaged Arashkan ships to the shores of Serenity Home town, adding to the already unmercifully overcrowded town and the lands surrounding it. From the last ship, a pair; one handsome but tired-looking blond half-elf, the other, a boldly beautiful young woman walk down the ship’s plank and follow the last remains of what was once The Great and Glorious Arashkan, towards the town that’s offering more than it has.

 

This story takes place a week or so after
The Stab In The Back
and sometime after
Grulganesti Grimtooth Bolgrig;
“A Debt Father to Daughter Passed..”

 

 

Agent Largo: This is a bad idea. My guestimation is one of three outcomes..

Lilly Venom: That so?

Agent Largo: Yes. (a) He will suffer a traumatic shock and runoff, shouting how much he hates me. (b) He will undergo some form of angst, followed by an episode of a not so unexpected breakdown, accuse me of letting his mother get killed, and very likely result in him punching me. (c) He will outright defy me, saying I wasn’t there when he was growing up and when he needed me, and that he’s all grown up now, doesn’t need me at all, and will refuse to see or talk to me..

Lilly Venom: Angst, huh? Never thought you a man for high drama, Agent Largo. But here you are, proving me wrong.

Agent Largo: You pun me.

Lilly Venom: (shrug) I pun a lot of people, Agent Largo, and you still owe me a dinner. I hope this town has a decent inn.

Agent Largo: You came here before, Lady Lilly. You should know.

Lilly Venom: The key to being a good assassin, Agent Largo, isn’t the kill, no matter how effective or efficient you are at it.. It is knowing your target.. and their habits.. And of course, never being noticed. The Temple Guardian, Demos, never visited the inn, hence neither did I. Thinking back, good thing I never did visit the inn.

Agent Largo: Ow?

Lilly Venom: Inns are a good source for local gossip, news, and information.. and finding out who is who. Had I visited the inn, I definitely would have left this town with at least one corpse.

Agent Largo: You know someone in this town, then? On a personal level?

Lilly Venom: (slight frown) That’s none of your business, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: You really enjoy calling me ‘Agent’, all the time, don’t you, Lady Lilly?

Lilly Venom: More than you like ‘Lady’ing me.

Agent Largo: (side glance) You are in a mood, today.

Lilly Venom: I am in a mood, every day, Agent Largo. Have you decided on what to do? About your Dexter, and about your job? At the moment, you have neither.

Agent Largo: That was a tad harsh, Lady Lilly..

Lilly Venom: I have never fallen head-over-heels for any man, Agent Largo. But I am willing to give you a shot—

Agent Largo: Coming from you, that sounds ominous. I am not sure if I should feel elated, or I should start wearing full body armor.

Lilly Venom: —And I don’t like distractions.

Agent Largo: You are quite a target-oriented person, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: I am a Drashan girl, Agent Largo. Everyone is someone’s target there. And if you are a girl, that number rises exponentially. But I have always believed in celibacy. It removes the option of unwanted distractions and complications.

Agent Largo: That’s a bit.. lonesome..

Lilly Venom: Any self-respecting Drashan marries only once, Agent Largo. That being said, there is no such thing as a ‘self-respecting Drashan’, and the only thing we truly marry is ‘death!’

Agent Largo: You make it sound like it’s a proverb.

Lilly Venom: (shrug) It is.. Have you decided what to do?

Agent Largo: I was hoping to get killed in the upcoming battle and save everyone the hassle.

Lilly Venom: No.

Agent Largo: No?

Lilly Venom: No, Agent Largo. You owe me dinner and I refuse to dine with a coward.

Agent Largo: Now, that really was harsh, Lady Lilly. And totally uncalled for.

Lilly Venom: Then go to the boy, knock on his door, or knock it down and say ‘Hi..’, sit down, and explain all your reasons for having done what you did. He might get angry, he might pout, or he might be happy. I would be happy if my mother rose from her grave and came to visit me.. though I doubt she has a grave.. Unclaimed bodies are usually just dumped into the sea with the rest of the derelict, in Drashan..

Agent Largo: That’s.. sad..

Lilly Venom: You don’t really have to act the ‘understanding type’, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: I am not the ‘acting’ type of spy, Lady Lilly. I am the ‘orchestrating’ kind of agent. Though I see nothing to orchestrate, here. Well, actually there is.. with a lot of potential.. but I just don’t want to..

Lilly Venom: By all means, Agent Largo, do!

Agent Largo: No.

Lilly Venom: Why?

Agent Largo: You are a girl with a very special and specific set of skills, Lady Lilly. But you have honor and, diverse as it may seem, you also have integrity. I am afraid, I just don’t feel like playing with and consequently destroying either. Whatever sins I may have done, I have done for my Arashkan. I never wanted you to be part of that even before we met for the same reasons I mentioned above. The only reason I called upon you was because High Lady Angrellen left me little to no choice and I needed help.. desperately..

Lilly Venom: Do I sense ‘tender care’ in all of that?

Agent Largo: (replies with silence)

Lilly Venom: (after an extended, counter-silence, and a sigh) Neither my honor nor my integrity will save me should I ever be subjected to the law, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: Arashkan is destroyed, Lady Lilly, therefore I am no longer the law.. And hence, I feel no obligation whatsoever to turn you in. Funny how that turned out.

Lilly Venom: (more silence) You will likely end up an outlaw too..

Agent Largo: I have been in and out of said law for longer than I can remember but never for personal gain. If for once, I end up doing that, I don’t mind doing it for you.. At all! I will do whatever job I can find, once this war is over and provided I am still alive. As for my son.. He will accept me, perhaps in time, or he will not. I did what I did, to preserve his life. He will either understand this too or not. But if you are willing to be with a fool like me, I am willing to do what it takes, Lady Lilly..

Lilly Venom: My contract with you was—

Agent Largo: —Your contract with me got voided at least twice.. back in Arashkan.. when you saved my life in the tunnel and then again after High Lady Angrellen trampled over us.. And possibly any number of other times I am not even aware of, when you watched my back on our deadly plight to get the civilians and the remaining guards out to the docks, and aboard the ships, Lady Lilly.. So when I say, you have my gratitude, I mean it at its maximum capacity. Many people who are alive now owe their lives to me. Funny how they fail to see, they actually owe it to you..

Lilly Venom: (stares ahead and does not say anything)

Agent Largo: ..We will have to take Prince Korodin in with us, though. Quite unavoidable, really. I did, after all, give my word of honor to Lady Ferrara, and the boy needs training from the best..

Lilly Venom: (snort) A wanted assassin and a former ARIS Agent..

Agent Largo: Like I said; The best..

Lilly Venom: (back to serious) Someone’s bound to notice me eventually, you know.

Agent Largo: I thought all you assassins were good with disguises.

Lilly Venom: We usually are. It’s part of our basic training program.

Agent Largo: There you have it then.. A good handlebar mustache or a chevron, along with a brett, and no one will ever recognize you.

Lilly Venom: (snort) Yes. I am sure no one will recognize me, but everyone will notice you, constantly arm in arm with a guy!

Agent Largo: So you want it to be ‘arm in arm’ and constantly, then?

Lilly Venom: (slight frown) Depends on the dinner, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: You really have your mindset on that dinner, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Yes. I do.

Agent Largo: Why? I don’t mind a dinner.. many dinners with you, Lady Lilly, but why indeed?

Lilly Venom: Because it will be a first, for me.

Agent Largo: (blink) You mean you have never had dinner with anyone in your life?

Lilly Venom: Agent Largo.. Just who would dine with a wanted fugitive such as myself, let alone an unaffiliated, freelancing assassin?

Agent Largo: Apparently, me..

Lilly Venom: That is yet to be seen.. and I think we are here..

Agent Largo: I suppose we are.

Lilly Venom: There are guards at the town gates and they seem to be questioning everyone before they let them in.

Agent Largo: Let me handle the guards, if you will, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Handle away, Agent Largo. I have no issues with a capable man. I have nothing to prove, and neither do you.

Agent Largo: I must disagree. Every man has something to prove, where a pretty girl is involved. If you can accept that, we can move forward.

Lilly Venom: I suppose I must. Since you think me ‘pretty’.. So, yes, I am willing to take that risk.

Agent Largo: (smile) Forward it is, then..

✱ ✱ ✱

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Good afternoon, sir.

Agent Largo: Good afternoon.

Serenity Home Gate Guard: What can I do for you, sir?

Agent Largo: We are Arashkan refugees, to see Dexter Summersong.

Serenity Home Gate Guard: And what business do you have with the town bard? He has a full schedule, training the platoon assigned to him.

Agent Largo: He.. he has?

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Yes, sir. Anyone with any skill sets is expected to train others for the upcoming battle. Any kind of training is of use. You can fill in this form over here, take a number and you will be assigned somewhere, or be assigned to someone..

Agent Largo: I see. I will fill in the forms, but after I see Sir Dexter..

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Very well, sir?

Agent Largo: Largo.. Largo Summersong.. And this is Lady Ferra and the young boy is my distant relative, Rodin.

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Alright, sir Largo. I shall send a runner and see if our bard, Dexter, is available. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I can not let you in until there is some sort of vouch —security protocols, you understand..

Agent Largo: Of course..

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Perhaps you can take the time to fill in your forms in the meantime, sir? It may take a while for Sir Dexter to get here..

Agent Largo: (sigh) Very well..

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: ARIS Agent? Really? You are actually going to write that?!

Agent Largo: Well, why not? For once in my life, I actually don’t have to lie about my job!

Lilly Venom: Then I guess I will just have to write ‘Assassin For Hire’, in my form, then.

Agent Largo: You.. might not want to do that, Lady Lilly.. For my sake, if not yours..

Lilly Venom: I don’t do lies, Agent Largo. Perhaps you might have noticed that.

Agent Largo: I have.. And it’s made me wonder..

Lilly Venom: A good assassin does not do lies, Agent Largo. Lies constantly require attention to keep track and that clusters the mind. And because I study my contacts very well and plan my exit strategies accordingly so I never have to lie. O.P.G.G.. Observe. Plan. Get in. Get out..

Agent Largo: You really never cease to amaze me, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Also, it is immoral to lie!

Agent Largo: (stares at Lilly)

Lilly Venom: What? Just because I am an assassin, doesn’t mean I lack moral codes, Agent Largo. I kill because it’s my job, not because I enjoy doing it. That is what was available for me to learn to stay afloat at Drashan, so I learned it well. Had I enjoyed it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because you would have been dead and I would have been elsewhere, busy cutting throats.

Agent Largo: Touché.

Lilly Venom: (shrug) It’s the truth.

Agent Largo: Write, ‘Security Advisor’, then. I am guessing you can do that very well.

Lilly Venom: I suppose..

Agent Largo: It won’t be a lie..

Lilly Venom: (sigh) It had better be a very good dinner, Agent Largo..

✱ ✱ ✱

Agent Largo: Here you go, sir. Two forms.. One for me, and one for the lady..

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Thank you, sir Largo. Sir Dexter should be here soon.. Ow.. and here he is.. Sir Dexter. These are the two who wished to see you; Sir Largo and his lady, Ferra..

D.D. Dexter: (stunned) Dad?

Agent Largo: (flustered) Uhhmm.. Hello, son..

D.D. Dexter: (still stunned) You.. You are not dead!

Agent Largo: (still flustered) I.. can explain..

Lilly Venom: (snort)

D.D. Dexter: Who are you?

Lilly Venom: I am the girl your father owes a dinner to!

D.D. Dexter: (stunned and shocked) You have a girlfriend? She is younger than I am, dad!

Agent Largo: (flustered and blushing now) I.. can explain that too..

Lilly Venom: (snort) Your father is alive and well, and you are worried about my age?

D.D. Dexter: (splutter) What the heck, dad?!

Agent Largo: (going down in flames) I…

Lilly Venom: (briskly) Your priorities are mind staggering, boy.

Agent Largo: (dead because of fighting in two fronts now) Uhmm.. Lilly..

Lilly Venom: (mildly agitated) What? After some twenty-odd years, he sees his father, ALIVE, and he is making an issue of my age? Really, now.. I thought bards were a polite bunch, if not smart!

 

(many footsteps approach)

 

Sheriff Standorin: (Udoorin’s father) (stern officious voice) Lilly Venom. You are under arrest and wanted for the murder of Lord Trimdel Kandara of Endless Watch. Please do not resist. Master Aager, please arrest this felon, if you will..

D.D. Dexter: What the..

Agent Largo: Ow crap!

Aager Fogstep: (approaches Lilly with cuffed and hisses at her with an extremely angry, tight voice ) You idiot!

Lilly Venom: (sigh)

Agent Largo: (more than flustered) Sheriff Standorin—

Sheriff Standorin: (with a heavy club in one hand) And you, former Agent Largo.. You are also under arrest for aiding and abetting a known fugitive. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. I suggest you keep to your silence!

Agent Largo: Sheriff Standorin. You know who I am. You know what I do—

*wham*

Sheriff Standorin: —There.. I appreciate it when criminals heed to good advice when it’s given and stay silent. How about you, Venom, how would you like your reception? The same, perhaps, would you rather exercise your right to silence?

Lilly Venom: (shrug) No, I’m good..

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: How are you?

Agent Largo: I hurt. The good sheriff has a heavy hand with that club of his..

Lilly Venom: (heartlessly) I wouldn’t know, Agent Largo. I did not resist.

Agent Largo: (sigh) Well.. That certainly went well!

Lilly Venom: This is sort of embarrassing for me, to be honest. The first time I come to a town with no ill intent, and I am detained and put to jail. Remind me again why we are here?

Agent Largo: The boy.. Where’s he?

Lilly Venom: Which one?

Agent Largo: Both, I guess?

Lilly Venom: Your Dexter was with the Sheriff the time I saw him, though he did come in to check in on you once. You were still out so he just stared at you.. and me as well, I guess, since your head was on my lap.. He was furious and was looking somewhere to lash out. I told him if he tried that in my direction, he would lose everything he thought was dear to him. I might have threatened him with evisceration and death by choking on poisonous darts as well.. We had a small chat after that, though only I spoke. Told him everything you did for him and why.. He didn’t say anything, but he listened, then he left..

Agent Largo: I should have been the one to tell him those.. Not the evisceration and death by poison darts, part.. The other things..

Lilly Venom: Probably. But you were making such a lousy job out of it.. And the boy needed to know.. Hearing it from a third person is sometimes better. Gave him something to think about besides pouting, at least.. He might come around, or he might not. It’s on him now.

Agent Largo: (sighs) Thank you.. Lilly.. What about the prince?

Lilly Venom: They took him elsewhere. I suppose they will question him first for some kind of leverage.

Agent Largo: Korodin won’t tell them anything except that his name is ‘Rodin’ and that I am his distant uncle. And he will keep repeating that.. unless they hurt the boy.. And if they do that, I will get out of here and really murder someone!

Lilly Venom: (a bit surprised) You care for the boy!

Agent Largo: Well, sure.. He is my prince.

Lilly Venom: True. But you personally care for him..

Agent Largo: (sigh) Yes, Lilly.. I personally care for him. He’s young but I suspect he understands what’s going on around him a lot more than he lets on. And we read The Amazing Adventures of Blom Bundlebim Hobim. Anyone who reads that book together, are bro’s for life!

Lilly Venom: (snort) Boys!

Agent Largo: Don’t pun the ‘bros bond’, Lilly. It’s a real thing!

Lilly Venom: (slight frown) I am no longer a Lady, then, Agent Largo? Why am I suddenly not a lady anymore?

Agent Largo: (sigh) We share a cell and that’s as close to any woman I have been since my wife was murdered, and that was more than two decades ago. I believe that calls for a bit of honest sincerity. I don’t think this was the dinner you had in mind but here we are, in a quiet and dim setting.. just like you wanted. We even have candlelight. I am in your hands.. and your lap, quite literally, I might add.

Lilly Venom: (stares down at the face in her lap, studying it, perhaps to finalize a decision)

We have no dinner, Agent Largo..

Agent Largo: Jail food is never really all that good, but it’s always on time. Should arrive soon enough..

Lilly Venom: Very well, Agent Largo.. Will you propose now?

Agent Largo: I was really hoping for better conditions, Lilly.. You deserve better conditions..

Lilly Venom: I think I will be receiving ‘what I deserve’ on the morrow, Agent Largo. I wouldn’t fret about it too much if I were you.

Agent Largo: You could get away, you know.. I am sure these bars can’t keep you..

Lilly Venom: Could say the same thing for you, Agent Largo, but you won’t.. Because of your son and because of the damage it might do to his reputation.. For similar reasons, I won’t either. Just.. not for a son or daughter.. (pauses for a moment, then sighs) And I gave the good sheriff my word that I wouldn’t try to escape, provided he let me stay in the same cell with you.

Agent Largo: Huh! A wasted bargain, if you ask me, though I can’t complain about my current disposition; your lap is surprisingly.. intriguing. Enough to want to know what’s on either end.

Lilly Venom: (amused) A foot on one end, and a hip on the other, Agent Largo, among other things, and you don’t have rights to any of them.. At the moment.. Not unless you want to embarrass yourself more than you already have.

Agent Largo: (snort) Fair enough. I am guessing the other reason you stayed has to do with the person you know in this town?

Lilly Venom: (silence)

Agent Largo: Very well, then.. If I will have more of your breath.. and perhaps get clubbed every once in a while knowing I shall wake up to your lap, then I would very much like to propose. Would you like to spend the rest of your life with me, Ferra Ferrea? To be my wife, my companion, my partner, possibly in crime, and my friend?

Lilly Venom: Yes. I would, Largo Summersong. The rest of my life, short as that maybe, I would like to spend it with you.. Same conditions!

Agent Largo: The name is Lauca, actually.

Lilly Venom: Lauca?

Agent Largo: Means, ‘warm‘, in Elvish, though I have no idea what my mother was thinking when she gave me that name. It is supposed to relate to ‘A Warm Summer Song’.. But I have been using Largo since a bit before I joined ARIS because they sound similar and Largo was easier to pronounce. This, however, is a definitive occasion, so I thought at least you should know.

Lilly Venom: Lauca.. Sounds intriguing.. Means, warm?

Agent Largo: Please don’t make too much pun of it. Half-elves tend to get touchy when it comes to certain things.

Lilly Venom: Lauca.. Am I pronouncing it right?

Agent Largo: Do you want to pronounce it right?

Lilly Venom: I would, yes.

Agent Largo: Why bother?

Lilly Venom: Why bother with Ferra Ferrea?

Agent Largo: Touché.. and point taken, I suppose.

Lilly Venom: I shall call you by this name, from time to time, so we remember a warm summer song!

Agent Largo: That.. actually sounded poetic. Much better than I ever thought it would.

Lilly Venom: I think, I like it..

Agent Largo: Alright. Now we’ll need a witness or two..

Lilly Venom: I believe we have.. a witness or two..

Agent Largo: We do?

Lilly Venom: Yes, we do.. Don’t we, Aager?

Aager Fogstep: (sighs and comes out of the shadows) You really are an idiot, Lilly.. What possessed you to come here? This place is going to burn, and very soon.. and you came here?

Lilly Venom: Hello, Fogstep. Good to see you too.. Less than I wanted to, but here I am..

Aager Fogstep: This isn’t a game, Lilly. I have no authority over the sheriff, and certainly not over the mayor. I thought you were a survivor.

Lilly Venom: I am tired of just surviving, Aager. I have done it all my life. Took a page from your book and I have decided I want to ‘live’ now..

Aager Fogstep: And you came here.. For that.. Just how stupid are you?

Inshala Frostmane: (comes out from behind Aager) That is not nice, my Aager. I do not think Lilly is stupid. I think her to be extremely smart. Certainly smart enough to make all the correct choices, when we were back at Arashkan.

Lilly Venom: And, here is our inseparable second witness..

Inshala Frostmane: Hello, Ferra.

Lilly Venom: Hello, girl.. You have grown some. And you glow more..

Inshala Frostmane: (blush) I.. I do?

Lilly Venom: Yes. You were scared all the time, the last time I saw you. Now you look.. free!

Agent Largo: Don’t mind me. I’ll just lie down here and nurse the bump on my head.

Lilly Venom: (to Aager) Do you want to introduce yourself, or should I?

Aager Fogstep: (shrug)

Agent Largo: I know who he is. He is SIS —Serenity Intelligence Service; pseudo-named, Aager Fogstep. Single. Real name; unknown. Mother; unknown. Father; unknown. Siblings; rumored to have one, though his or her gender is unknown and presumed dead. He is also a former Drashan convict.. His ‘apparent’ job is being the right hand of Sheriff Standorin Shieldheart. He was one among others to have brought down Themalsar. There are any number of murders attributed to him, though none of them have been proven, nor verified.. The girl, I do not know. None of the spies I sent could get any information about her, back when she, sir Aager here, and their diverse other companions first came to Arashkan and started asking questions about Gar Thalot.. We found out who all her friends were.. Just not her and the one other girl who slept on the roof of the inn they were staying. It’s like neither of them ever existed before. We couldn’t even put a name to them. Heck, we couldn’t even scry them! It was like.. they both were off limits!

Lilly Venom: I am inclined to be impressed, Agent Largo, though I don’t think Aager here qualifies as single and his sibling’s name is ‘me’.

Agent Largo: (confused) Me?

Lilly Venom: (silent smile)

Agent Largo: (somewhat horrified expression) YOU?

Lilly Venom: (smile) ‘ME’..

Agent Largo: (stunned silence)

Lilly Venom: Yes, Agent Largo, he is my elder brother.. I am not at liberty to divulge who or what the other one is, but this cute little girl, here, is Inshala Frostmane. Aager’s girl, woman, mate.. I have thus failed to put a name to what they are, to one another. Nothing seems to sufficiently cover their relation.. In all candor, though, it is likely she is the best thing that’s happened to me in my life and I am happy to call her my sister.. Other than that, I am not aware if she has any other title.

Inshala Frostmane: (beam) I am here in my ‘Ritual Guardian’ capacity, dear Ferra..

Lilly Venom: I do not know what that means.

Agent Largo: I do, and it is an immense ‘capacity’.. I thought the good Master Cathber was killed in his sleep. I wasn’t aware he had any students in training.

Inshala Frostmane: (quietly) He had me. And I had him. He was my Father and my Master since I was a month old.

Agent Largo: I am sorry, young lady. I revered Master Cathber. Now.. Master Aager, Ritual Guardian, if you would be kind enough to put in a good word for Lady Lilly here, I would be grateful. I shall suffer my punishment, whatever it may be.

Lilly Venom: How very noble of you, Sir Agent Largo! I wasn’t aware I was getting a knight in shining armor when I asked for that dinner.

Agent Largo: I apologize, Lilly. But it comes as part of the package!

Inshala Frostmane: (beaming) I have no idea what you just said, but it sounded so sweet. And I didn’t know you were a knight, Sir Largo. I will ask them to release both you and my elder sister Ferra and also to kindly return your shiny armor.

Agent Largo: !

Lilly Venom: (snort)

Aager Fogstep: (snort)

✱ ✱ ✱

Sheriff Standorin: You seem to have left out quite a bit of your personal life, Master Aager. I thought you said your sister was dead.

Aager Fogstep: I thought she was dead, too. Her unexpected appearance in Arashkan did take me off guard.

Sheriff Standorin: I see no mention of this in your reports. Are we making private exemptions, then?

Aager Fogstep: (cooly) Yes and no, Sheriff. Some of the things that happened at Arashkan never got mentioned for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. Suffice to say, putting them in writing would have been too damning for the people involved, which includes our esteemed Ranger Lieutenant Laila Wolvesbane, and by proxy, Ranger Master Davien Hart. Master Nimbletyne Tinkerdome’s niece, Master Gnine, and by his proxy, back to his uncle. Princess Alor’Nadien ne Feymist and High Lady Anglenna Sunsear of High Woods and Bari Na-ammen, damning Ri Grandeleren Feymist and Rise Nadine Graciousward, again, by proxy.. Our Senior Temple Guardian Lady Magella, and by her proxy, Master Argail Smitefast, and the deceased Demos Lightshand. Then we have Udoorin Shieldheart, your son, who also happens to be the betrothal of Princess Alor’Nadien ne Feymist, hence damning her again. And since he’s your son, that would be damning you, Sheriff Standorin Shieldheart of Serenity Home town, by a similar proxy. Last but not least, myself, and by my proxy, damning you again! I shall not mention The Ritual Guardian, Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane, nor ‘The Celestial’ Merisoul Xyrotwu here as neither of them are within our kingdoms’ jurisdictions.. The title of ‘Ritual Guardian’ is not bestowed by the king nor his vassals, but by the Ritual Forest itself and I shudder to even contemplate just who has any jurisdiction over Merisoul Xyrotwu, other than ‘The Great Heavens’.. What was put into writing, however, was done so from a distinctly ‘relevance’ point of view.

Sheriff Standorin: (amused) Nicely done, Master Aager. You have threatened damning everyone of note in this town and people of the highest status among our neighbors. Not to mention damning my own son, my future daughter in law and myself —twice, I might add..

Aager Fogstep: (coldly) You didn’t bring me here from Drashan to play ball, Sheriff. You brought me here to be the solution!

Agent Largo: (snicker) I did offer to take him off your hands years ago, Sheriff..

Sheriff Standorin: (ignores Agent Largo and glares at Aager) Just how damning are we talking about, here?

Aager Fogstep: (total silence)

Sheriff Standorin: (sigh and turns to Lilly Venom) Says here, you are a ‘Security Advisor’, Miss Ferra?

Lilly Venom: Ferra is my given name, Sheriff Standorin. And that would be ‘Mrs.’ Not, ‘Miss’..

Sheriff Standorin: (cocked eyebrow) I wasn’t aware the infamous Lilly Venom was married.

Lilly Venom: I would have been surprised if you were. It happened just last night!

Agent Largo: (cough)

Sheriff Standorin: You can’t be serious!

Agent Largo: I have been. For quite some time, now.

Lilly Venom: (smile)

Sheriff Standorin: What the hell do they put into the prison food?!

Agent Largo: I resent that.

Sheriff Standorin: (irritated) What am I expected to do now?

Agent Largo: (shrug) That’s up to you, Sheriff Standorin. This is my home, but it’s your town.

Sheriff Standorin: I suppose you will spill everything should I try to send you to the gallows, Mrs. Lilly?

Lilly Venom: (shrug) I am an Assassin —or a ‘Security Advisor’, if you will, Sheriff. I kill people for a living and I am very good at it. Whether I shall keep doing that is up to consideration at the moment, but I don’t do two things; lies and blackmail.

Agent Largo: I do.. And yes, the irony in that is sort of disturbing, but in this case, I shall uphold Lady Ferra’s wishes.. and honor..

Sheriff Standorin: (scowl) This is a mess, Master Aager. Please tell me the ‘solution’ in all this.

Aager Fogstep: (shrug) Hire Agent Largo as part of the Covert Ops team and let him do what he’s good at doing. Hire Lady Ferra, here, as a Security Advisor, as written in her form, and let her do what she’s good at doing. This town can’t stay a town any longer, Sheriff, even should we win the war. You know this to be true. We have tens of thousands of refugees of all races and The Ritual Guardian is doing everything she can to keep the weather ‘mild’ and the ground warm so they don’t freeze to death and so there’s is still some crops growing and hence, food available for the all those hungry mouths. It is also because of her and the druidic elves that survived High Woods we assigned to her that there haven’t been any breakouts.. All those refugees will, however, and eventually, require a roof over their heads, and said homes will require a much, much larger security team.. I am guessing Yuleman already knows this also. Everyone is working hard now and for a common cause because there are a hundred and fifty thousand Orken coming this way. But that’s all going to change, should we win the day and the threat of imminent death is gone. Especially should we win the day and the threat of imminent death is gone..

 

(silence for a long, smoldering moment)

 

Sheriff Standorin: (sigh) Very well, Master Aager. I shall take this up to Mayor Yuleman. In the meantime, Master Largo and Lady Lilly will stay in your residence, Master Aager. They may get out into your garden, but they shall not leave the premises. Agreed?

Agent Largo: Agreed.

Lilly Venom: I suppose so..

Agent Largo: I need some rest, anyway. Been running back and forth for weeks now.

Lilly Venom: (cooly) Not tonight, you aren’t!

Agent Largo: (stammer)

Sheriff Standorin: (sigh) Go get the Temple Guardian Thomas here to officialize and formalize their wedding, if you will Master Aager.

Aager Fogstep: (quietly) Yes, sir.. And.. Thank you, sir..

 

(after Agent Largo and Lilly Venom are escorted out)

 

Sheriff Standorin: Is she as good as they say she is?

Aager Fogstep: (slight frown) She killed me, once!

Sheriff Standorin:

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: That was one hell of a speech you gave back there. I am impressed. This place has done you good.

Aager Fogstep: The good sheriff might be a harsh man, but he isn’t unreasonable.

Lilly Venom: (after a moment of pause) Will you give me away, Brother? When your Temple Guardian comes to officiate our marriage?

Aager Fogstep: Bit late to be asking me that question, don’t you think?

Lilly Venom: (quietly) I am.. I am trying, Aager.. This is me, taking those steps..

Aager Fogstep: (silent stare)

Lilly Venom: (returning the silent stare)

Aager Fogstep: Where’s your.. Largo?

Lilly Venom: Outside. Behind the house, talking to his son.

Aager Fogstep: You are okay with him having a son? Not that it should matter and Dexter is a decent man. But the fact remains; both are quite older than you. Agent Largo in particular.

Lilly Venom: It isn’t like the age disparity is all that much, you know. Well, it is, but he’s a half-elf. By the time I am old and crooked, should I see those days, he will still be of mild age.. And to be honest, his age never bothered me, considering how much I dislike fools and loath men in general. I think, being forced to work in Madam’s brothel when I came to age, back in Drashan did that to me.. Do you even know, or have any idea what it feels like to be groped or fondled by a total, filthy stranger who is leering at you with unwanted desire when you are barely twelve?

Aager Fogstep: (in pure, silent wrath) No.

Lilly Venom: You are naked. In all kinds of ways. You are shivering. Not because it’s cold, but because you are so scared. You have no idea what you are expected to do and everyone and everything is looming over you and they are all so much bigger than you.. All you know is you are about to be used and it’s going to hurt and you are going to cry because you are just a small, skinny, powerless girl.. You are going to cry and it will not matter because it won’t change the fact that it’s still going to keep on hurting in places that you shouldn’t be hurting.. Not at that age.. All you have is a tiny knife that you are allowed to use if the man likes beating his girls.. I was so scared that I couldn’t even move.. He became angry.. I don’t know at which point I sliced him open! But when I woke up, I had a cracked head and a bloody face, and he was dead. That was my first kill.. Then I decided to do the same for the next half dozen or so men as well. I just stood there, unmoving, and I was scared all the time.. Eventually, though, it would anger the men and they would slam me around and I would slice them open! That is when they sold me off to the Cutters Guild.. (sigh) I don’t think I could have found someone my age that fit my tastes since I really, truly, and quite mindlessly loathed men.. All men.. Still do, really. Largo.. He has.. seen things.. Bad things.. And over the course of years longer than either of us seen put together.. It has made him mature.. And serious.. Yet he still clings to that lame sense of humor of his. It is pathetic, really.. But I find it.. endearing.. if you could believe that. Yes, I freely admit I like those qualities in him. I.. I don’t think he will grope me like those animals. I think he will treat me.. right.. and alright..

Aager Fogstep: So you love—

Lilly Venom: Aaaaaaa! La, La, La, La, La, La, La !!!

Aager Fogstep: (confused) What?

Lilly Venom: I don’t want to talk THAT with you! I don’t like you that much yet! Or rather, I don’t know you that much yet.. Brother..

Aager Fogstep: Fair enough.

Lilly Venom: (sigh) I don’t think we will ever be like you and Inshala are. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want to.. Too much effort, too much work, too much pain.. and too many emotions for my taste. I just want honesty, care, and reliance —both ways.. But I also want a certain amount of privacy reserved for ourselves too..

Aager Fogstep: Also, fair enough. I am happy for you.

Lilly Venom: You.. you are?

Aager Fogstep: (shrug) Yes.

Lilly Venom: This conversation went.. better than I expected!

Aager Fogstep: Just what kind of a beast do you think I am, Lilly, to mess up your happiest day?

Lilly Venom: (carefully suspicious) I am sorry. Hard to change everything, all at once.

Aager Fogstep: (straight face) Besides. You are TOTALLY his problem now!

Lilly Venom: (scowl) I knew it!

Aager Fosgstep: But I would rather you took your man and left. Gone.. Far away..

Lilly Venom: Why don’t you?

Aager Fogstep: I can’t.

Lilly Venom: Why?

Aager Fogstep: (silent moment) This.. is my home now. And my Inshala’s forest.. I won’t give up my home, she won’t give up her forest..

Lilly Venom: Largo will not go. They destroyed his home. He does not show it, probably for my sake, but it’s tearing him apart. I strongly suspect he wants to die in as bloody a way as possible in the coming war.

Aager Fogstep: Why marry him then?

Lilly Venom: Because I.. want him.. per se.. And to give him another reason not to do what he foolishly wants to do.. Besides, we will likely go into the battle together. I’ll just have to watch his back..

Aager Fogstep: You are going into a battle.. because of an idiot?

Lilly Venom: No, brother. I am going to war because I want to preserve what’s mine.. And to earn my own ‘home’..

Aager Fogstep: You are an idiot too, then!

Lilly Venom: Perhaps.. Wonder what that makes you?

Aager Fogstep: The elder brother of an idiot!

Lilly Venom: (scowl)

Aager Fogstep: (snort)

Lilly Venom: Where’s your pretty girl? Where’s Inshala?

Aager Fogstep: She’s up the tree in the garden, trying to convince it to bloom.

Lilly Venom: Do I even want to know why?

Aager Fogstep: The tree is supposed to have very pretty pink flowers. She wants you to share them with your Largo.

Lilly Venom: (stunned) What? I am..

Aager Fogstep: Speechless?

Lilly Venom: Well, yes!

Aager Fogstep: She loves you.

Lilly Venom: I am flattered but how can she love me? Considering how little she knows me, and how horribly I treated her back in Arashkan.

Aager Fogstep: She has a great heart. And it seems she has a distinct affinity to seeing the depths of the souls in people. I can’t imagine what, but it appears she has found something she finds lovable in you.

Lilly Venom: You are not as funny as you think you are.

Aager Fogstep: I am funny?

Lilly Venom: What will you do? We.. seem to have barged into your home.

Aager Fogstep: (shrug) Sisters’ prerogative, I suppose.

Lilly Venom: (scowl)

Aager Fogstep: It’s alright, really. We will take our rest in the temple dormitories or next to some campfire. Too much work until then, though. We still have a lot of things to do before the day ends.. Inshala has to coordinate and make sure there are no frictions between us and the ogres and I have two teams I need to continue training. One in the afternoon, which I should be heading soon, and the other at night and will take all night. ‘Infiltration, Blind Fighting, and Ambush!’

Lilly Venom: Oww.. Ambush! I could help you with that.

Aager Fogstep: No.

Lilly Venom: Why not?

Aager Fogstep: This one is an advanced group of former Bari Na-ammen vets and rangers, hence we will be using live weapons and I don’t want you bleeding back to your.. husband.. Besides, you should make good use of your nights—

Lilly Venom: La, La, La, La, La, La, La —I am not listening to you..

Aager Fogstep: (snort) See you tomorrow morning, then.

Lilly Venom: (quietly) Aager?

Aager Fogstep: Hmm?

Lilly Venom: Thank you.

Aager Fogstep: Thank me when this is over and the ones we love are still alive.

Lilly Venom: (hug)

Aager Fogstep: (strained voice) You.. are not going to try and stab me are you?

Lilly Venom: I just might..

Aager Fogstep: Care for a slice of advice?

Lilly Venom: From you? No.. But say it anyway. I might listen.

Aager Fogstep: Lose some, to win some.

Lilly Venom: What the hell kind of an advice is that?

Aager Fogstep: The kind I gave to myself, though mine was, lose all, to win all! You are a smart girl. I know because my Inshala said so! I am sure it’ll come to you in time. Now, go on to your hubby, baby sister!

Lilly Venom:

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: Are you done?

Agent Largo: Almost.

D.D. Dexter: I still can’t believe this.

Agent Largo: I am sorry Dex. After what happened to your mother, I wasn’t going to trust anyone from ARIS where you were concerned. This town was the safest place I could think of and still give you a happy life. You know what is coming. You know the score.. I was ARIS and I had to do something for Arashkan without a constant threat on your life..

D.D. Dexter: I know the reasons, father. It’s just..

Lilly Venom: (briskly) Give it time. You’ll get used to it.

D.D. Dexter: You are.. intense.. If you don’t mind me saying so, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Just ‘Lilly’ will do.. Considering all the effort I gave to make your father quit calling me that. As for intense.. Guess Agent Largo here will find out soon enough.

Agent Largo: (fluster, flush and blush) Lilly.. Please.. This is my son, for Heaven’s sake!

Lilly Venom: (heartless laugh) And he isn’t nine, Agent Largo. He’s older than I am!

D.D. Dexter: (cough)

Agent Largo: (blush some more)

Lilly Venom: Are you ashamed of me, Largo, that you keep blushing?

Agent Largo: No. Never that. It’s just.. a bit of an uncomfortable topic, that’s all..

Lilly Venom: There you have it, Dexter. He loves you enough to be embarrassed in front of you. Which is the only time I have seen him actually blush like this. You, Dexter, must understand; he did what he did to you, knowingly and deliberately because he had to. And now he has decided to share a life with me, knowingly and deliberately. Your father is a smart man, Dexter. I don’t think he would have been fooled by my approaches, because I am not really a ‘girly’ girl.. He accepted me because he wanted me. Considering just how loyal he has been to your mother’s memory for the past twenty years, I would say he deserves a break, wouldn’t you? Take that into account before you dish out judgments. We just came from Hell itself. There is no name for the blood and carnage we saw in Arashkan. We didn’t watch it from a distance, Dexter.. We were there.. On the ground, fighting, bleeding, and saving lives.. At least your father was.. All I did was to try and stay alive, and watched his back.. Your father needs respite and I hope he finds it with me. Will you not allow him to have that much before we go back into that Hell? Because whether we want it or not, Hell is coming our way as we speak!

D.D. Dexter: (stare with open mouth)

Lilly Venom: Now. If you would please, I would like to have a few, private moments with Agent Largo..

D.D. Dexter: Of course. I will see you later today, or perhaps in the evening when my duties are over.. (pause) On the other hand, tomorrow will be a better time.

Lilly Venom: Tomorrow will be fine. Thank you for being considerate.

D.D. Dexter: (mumble) Not like I was given much of a choice.

Lilly Venom: Best kind of choice offered. Which makes sense, since this really isn’t anything you should be making a choice over, should you think about it with an open mind. The only thing that concerns you is whether you will honor the choices your father had to make to keep you safe and alive and wish him some happiness and that he finds it with me.. or sulk about it.

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: I am sorry if I was a bit abrupt with your boy.

Agent Largo: I won’t complain. Had you not said the things you said, when I was still out, I don’t think we would have made any headway today.

Lilly Venom: I just didn’t give him the time to do or say things you both would have regretted, by making myself the target of his possible ire.

Agent Largo: You didn’t have to do that, Lilly.

Lilly Venom: But I did it anyway. I saw enough sad and stupid in my life, Largo. And I am tired of it. We can either carry that particular baggage into our lives or keep it out. This.. this is something I learned.. or rather, ‘was shown’, really, by my bother, Aager, and his skinny little woman.. But he.. they proved to me it could be done and I want to give it a shot. I will sweat for it, bleed for it, war for it, but want you to be there for it..

Agent Largo: (smile) We are back to ‘shots’? Where is the boy, Prince Korodin, by the way?

Lilly Venom: He is with Inshala.

Agent Largo: I don’t really know Lady Inshala. Can she be trusted?

Lilly Venom: More than either of us. She will ‘care’ for him like no other.. Now, quit dodging. Will you go for it?

Agent Largo: I am here, aren’t I?

 

(pale pink flowers start to fall all around them..)

 

Agent Largo: (surprised) What’s this? Cherry blooms in the middle of winter?

Lilly Venom: (looks up at the thousands of pink, cherry blooms flaking down with a glowing face and shimmering eyes, and whispers)

Inshala, baby girl.. Thank you..

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

It is the first few days of December and evening has settled over a white Serenity Home. It is quiet and kind tonight and a barely discernable warm wind seems to blow from Gull’s Perch as if Mab and Titania have come to a rare understanding. There is a great, awe-inspiring, beautiful cherry tree in bloom in a garden in this town and there is a small ‘home’ next to this tree.

A home where people ‘belong’..

In this home, there is a young woman with a boldly handsome face and she shivers even though there is a cheery fire crackling in the small grate. Carefully, she takes off her long, brown leather trench coat, revealing an exquisitely made dress; a pale green loose blouse, a very dark royal green tight bodice with many laces complimenting her narrow hips, her slim waist, her slightly gaunt belly, and her pleasant-looking breasts, hiding in her blouse. A long skirt of the same color embroidered with delicate, silver threads and slits on either side flow down her hips to her bare feet, carefully displaying parts of her slender, naked legs..

The young woman shivers again, her hands in tight fists by her hips, and has trouble looking up at the maturely handsome blonde man standing a bare foot in front of her. The man has a slight frown on his face as if trying to discern a last-minute vex, for the small, single-room home is thread-bare to be sure, but it is warm.

The young, boldly handsome woman, however, is as if knot, and her lovely dark eyes seem to be staring only at his hands.

 

Lilly Venom: Will you have me now?

Agent Largo: Lilly? What’s wrong—

Lilly Venom: If you are, I would like you to take my daggers, all my knives, my darts, and my shark teeth away from me.

Agent Largo: Why? If you won’t mind me asking—

Lilly Venom: (looks up at her husband’s face, then at his hands again and whispers in trepidation)

I am scared.

And I do not want to kill you..


 
Epilogue

 

The boldly handsome young woman is as if staring down at her own bare feet as she speaks in a low, hoarse, throaty, and barely audible voice, her face burning with defiant rage and with a kind of a lost shame. She fidgets as she speaks but her eyes are in fact affixed on the blond man’s hands as if expecting them to move for an assault at any time.

 

Lilly Venom: You are the first man I have liked. And been this close to. And that almost includes my brother. I have loathed men all my life and killed many because they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. If this is an issue for you, I will try to understand, even should you want to leave.

Agent Largo: (stares at the girl, silently)

Lilly Venom: It isn’t like I am the only girl around.

Agent Largo: (continues to stares at the girl silently)

Lilly Venom: I can’t claim I am much of a catch, either.

Agent Largo: (still silent)

Lilly Venom: You are a handsome man, after all. I have seen any number of girls looking in your direction on the ship while we were sailing here..

Agent Largo: (persistently silent)

Lilly Venom: And yes, I am aware I should have said something about this before. But in my defense, it isn’t something I wanted myself to remember, let alone admit to someone else. It is not exactly table conversation; hey, I loath men, and I tend to slice them open when they come too near!

Agent Largo: (absolute silence)

Lilly Venom: I would rather you said something.. or left..

Agent Largo: (in a dry, gravelly voice) I don’t really know what I should say and still stay safely unbleeding..

Lilly Venom: (scowls while still looking down)

Agent Largo: That you think so little of yourself, and by doing so, you think so little of me, since choosing one another was consensual and you are basically accusing me of having bad taste! That you would notice the girls staring at me, but not notice the constant scowl I had for all the young men ogling at you on that same ship, and why I never returned the wonts of any of those girls but stayed as close to you as I could, while trying very hard not to crowd you. That you think I would leave because you have some issues, serious as they may be. And last but not least, that you would want me to strip you of your weapons, yet never asked me to remove mine..

Lilly Venom: (stares at the man)

Agent Largo: No one is ‘just right’, Lilly. We all have our issues. I will not belittle yours. But at least it is a relatively tangible problem that has its own solutions. I carry the guilt of Arashkan, dear Lilly. The blood of thousands are on my hands because of my failures and there is neither a cure and nor any redeeming salvation for that.

Lilly Venom: You can’t blame yourself because of what happened there. Everyone was at fault for that failure. Everyone ‘failed’.

Agent Largo: True. But I am the only one left alive to have to live with it. The dead feel no guilt!.. But that’s another, and certainly not a ‘tonight’ matter, for you have worked hard to give me some respite and I shall not let that go to waste.

Lilly Venom: Very well. I shall do more, if I must, to carry that guilt with you, only if I can’t wash it off you. What.. solution do you offer?

 

Agent Largo slowly takes off his coat, folds it neatly, and puts it aside. Then, very slowly, he reaches for the girl and smoothly strips one of her daggers from her.. and cooly tosses it aside and out of reach.

 

Agent Largo: There. Your turn!

 

The boldly handsome girl ogles at the man for a frightened, breath-held moment, then, and inadvertently, she smiles, for suddenly she knows this is a game. A game she is certain to win.. She does a quick, mental inventory: the other pair of the long, close-quarter combat dagger, sixteen short-range throwing knives, half a dozen shark teeth, any number of garrotes, and two dozen poison darts!

 

Lilly Venom: (smirks) You will run out of ‘steel’ before I do!

Agent Largo: (smirks back) And what are you willing to bet on that?

A red glare appears over the Gull’s Perch to the east, and very slowly, the sun starts to rise and Serenity Home stirs with a lazy and reluctant yawn. The night, though, hasn’t all gone to waste;

Lilly Venom loses some and wins some..

dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi modül role play serenity

Promise To Be
Stupid Together

Promise To Be
Stupid Together

Timeline:

It isn’t the life-threatening moments
that makes us realize the value
of those we love..

 

Not always.

 

Sometimes it is the silly things..

..such as coloring pictures
in a children’s book..

..with crayons.

 

This story takes place several days after
The Oathbreaker (Part Four)
and after Aager Fogstep
and Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane
defeat the tyrannic oathbreaker;
Lord Tarakadahan Karkashi
in a very bloody duel to the death.

 

 

Aager Fogstep held Inshala close and tightly to himself for she was in mourning and because her soft warmth was the only thing that kept him from screaming in pain. The little girl held a sad, broken piece of dry twig in her small, delicate hands —the only discernable part left of what was once a giant walking tree; Snare! True, Snare had never been a ‘nice’ tree, but rather a vicious, sour, and one old cuss of a monster. He had, however, kept the little girl safe and company during their stay at Arashkan, before the city’s fall, hiding in plain sight among other trees, deep in Heaven’s Park, and had helped both her and Aager in their numerous encounters.

This last fight, however, had just been once too many for him. The tyrannic lord, Tarakadahan Karkashi, had come down on the grumpy old bark like ten thousand axes and smashed him into the ground. And now, his tiny mistress held the only bit of what was once a grumpy, eighteen-foot tall monster..

“When we.. get out of this stupid.. arena..”, Aager grinded his teeth. “I want you to go with Lady Alisia and Moira..”

Inshala looked up at him through her tear blotched face.

“No. You are hurt. I need to—”, she started.

“Inshala. Don’t argue with me. Not now.”, he cut in harshly. “This is an excellent opportunity for someone to take advantage of and make an attempt on your mother’s life.. Or Moira’s.. Or yours.. You must watch over them as they watch over you.”

“But.. What about you?”, she asked with a pleading voice.

“I hold no power in this city, love. I am a nobody here. I am not of the nobility and I carry no titles. I am not even a squire, let alone a lord. Not that I would want to be one. Ever..”

“..The only person that would have benefited from my death is dead! Anybody else coming at me will gain nothing from my demise. You, on the other hand, hold the city in your hands and it will take but one fool to ruin everything we gained today should he attack you, your mother, or Moira.”, he said through his gritted teeth.

The pain of his dislocated shoulder was getting at him and trying to rationalize why he wanted her to go, rather than to stay and watch him suffer was taking every ounce of his remaining strength.

“Please. Do this for me.”

“I will—”

The great gates leading in and out of the arena parted with a booming echo, smoldering any objections the little girl might have said, and Lady Alisia, followed closely by Lady Moira, Captain Fardashi, and half a dozen guards came running at them.

“Okay. I am going to let go of you now. You mustn’t show them any tears because everyone is watching you. Be strong and go with your mother.”, he hissed quietly.

“Sir Aager..”, Lady Alisia called as she stared at him, and at the little girl holding a piece of twig, with unveiled awe.

“Lady Alisia..”, Aager greeted the First Lady of Durkahan with a barely contained voice behind his leather half-mask. “..Lady Moira. If you would be kind enough to escort Lady Inshala to your quarters whilst she could rest. She has had a trying day.”

Lady Alisia ogled at the bloodied, sinister-looking man in his dark leathers.

“Please..”, added Aager with emphasis and giving a quick glance at the watching crowd.

Lady Alisia’s face lit with comprehension.

“Of course, Sir Aager. Daughter, please come with me. We must get you out of those bloody clothes at once. I believe a nice hot bath, a meal, and sleep will do wonders to you.”, she said as she held the little girl close to her, nodded at Aager.

And with Moira on the girl’s other side, they started back towards the arena gates as the guards fell in formation around the women.

For a moment Aager was left behind and he gave some serious thought to whether he should just surrender to gravity and fall where he stood.

 

“Ahem..”

..said a gravelly voice from behind him.

 

The fact that he hadn’t even heard that someone was actually standing behind him without his notice was definitive proof that the man in dark leathers was about to lose it soon.

“I’d love to give you a hand and carry you out, but that would totally ruin your ‘cool’.. And I am not sure I’d even get the hand back!”, he recognized Fardashi’s amused voice.

“That was one hell of a fight, young man. Hard to be impressed when you get to a cussed old age like mine but, what can I say, I am impressed. Good thing I didn’t tell you to buzz off the night you two came at the city gates. Will you be able to make it until we get out of here? People with nothing better to do love watching the victor drop dead after a good show!”, the old captain said lightly. A bit like the way he spoke right before he had smashed in the castle guard commander’s face in, about a week ago.

“I think so.”, grinded Aager, and took a stubborn step forward.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Stand guard here.”, commanded Fardashi at the guards, pointing at the door. “I must see to the Ladies than make sure the rest of the city is all well and good.”

Just before he left, however, he paused, gave a thoughtful look at the door, frowned a little, and quietly added, “Whatever happens, don’t enter the room!”, he warned.

The guards looked at their captain, then at the door, and hastily nodded.

 

Aager stood in the darkness of his room. The one he had been given shortly after their arrival at the inner castle of Durkahan city. It was barely ten strides in either direction with two, separate, single-beds, a small chest at the feet of each bed, a decent-sized cupboard, a high, rectangular table complete with a large washing pan, two blocks of soap, and several neatly folded rough, gray towels and one, slit of a window that seemed to stare gloomily at the arse end of a rigid, stone tower rather than at the city, but it still seemed cavernous compared to his tiny, one-room house back at Serenity Home. That house at least had had a larger window —two, in fact, now that Aager had a moment to think about it. Not that he preferred large windows —or any window, and he certainly had never fancied homes with scenic views, but that house —his home— had had them anyway; an easy to climb in and out window with a view to one of the town’s mildly busy streets. The other, he’d boarded the day he had moved in, years ago, because it had provided too big a security flaw for his taste, and because it was a window, it also provided a natural security ‘gap’.

He grimaced in pain at the jarring irony there;

Security GapOpen Window!

Apparently, Aager thought, he had a bit too much free time in his hands, since he had the luxury for such delinquent ironies. But there was a point to that irony.. and the boarded window now. It used to open to a rather picturesque view of the back garden. Not so much picturesque since Aager had moved in, as it was full of dead plants and ugly, barbed, and thorny weeds. But should his Inshala come to Serenity Home, he could open that window while she did some things nice with that garden. And perhaps they could share responsibilities at that point as well; he could keep an eye on the street side window like he always had, and she could cover the garden side!

Alright, the man in dark leathers, hood, and mask thought. There was something genuinely wrong with that thought!

He doubted anyone in that town ever ‘covered’ their windows with the metaphorical fanaticism as he did.

Or rather, no one else..

 

He shrugged —his other shoulder.

 

At least with both windows open, his home would be ‘sunny’.. Unlike how this chamber would ever be..

This chamber was dark at noon, pitch at night, and was slightly on the musty side.

More like a lair.. or a den, really. Men like him did not have suits or chambers.. They had lairs!

 

Just how he preferred it..

 

Or rather..

..just how he should have been preferring it, as awkward as that phrasing sounded!

 

But for whatever reason, however, he did not.

Yes, he had come here every night, washed off the day’s dirt here, slept here, and ate here, quite laconically, too —many times. For the same, ‘whatever reason’, however, that just didn’t seem to ‘cut’ it anymore. He felt ‘blank’.. more than empty, here. A blank he had come to recognize very slowly and growing recently.

He stared at the dark walls of the chamber, all the while sweating profusely in pain.

Carefully he chose a specific stone.

Not that it mattered, but focusing on something in particular had always given him a sense of purpose. And that purpose, now, was not going to be fun..

At all..

Slowly, he walked up to the stone he had selected and stared at it with baleful eyes.

“I am sorry, love.”, he growled with pure, unadulterated self-loathing, swung his shoulder once, twice..

..and smashed it into the stone and wall!

 

A horrid, meaty crack was heard by the guards outside followed by a feral roar of pain..

..and something stumbled over and the room fell silent.

 

Somewhere two floors above, Fardashi ran back into Lady Alisia’s quarters, his sword drawn, when he heard the single, shrill scream of a girl in savage pain!

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

And what do we have here?”, asked Aager, entering his chamber/lair/den, late one night, several days later. The proceedings, the meetings, the strategic plannings, and the secretive, impromptu ‘hallway’ chats on how they should mobilize the Durkahan Army, and which route they would take to reach Serenity Home in time were taking their toll on him. He felt like the sore merchant of some vast trading company, bargaining for rights of free passage through man-eating local’s lands.. without getting et!

 

..or possibly the CEO of some bank trying to stay afloat during an economic crisis!

 

“I am coloring this book that Master Cümeyt was kind enough to give me.”, Inshala replied from where she lay on the thick, pale beige carpet. Aager knew it was pale beige because the guard who had brought it had told him so like it held some significance and in all likeliness, it probably did. Just not for Aager..

..in any way that would be significant.

But then, this whole carpet thing was a new addition to his chamber/lair/den and seemed disturbingly out of place.

Feral beasts like him did not do carpets, nor cushions or loveseats..

Alright, there weren’t any loveseats in his chamber now either, and Aager did not really want to know what a loveseat was, but there were any number of colorful cushions, thrown on the said, pale beige carpet.

Aager scowled at the thick, soft, comfy thing and its fluffy little companions, and they scowled back at him..

..with compounded smug smirks because they knew they had won, and there was not a buggery bum he could do about it!

He certainly wouldn’t have asked for them, had it been up to him. But the young girl had taken a habit of bringing things her new brother, Cümeyt, or her new sisters Madine and Maira, and even Moira would give her, to here, and either play with them or draw pictures —on the cold, stone flour.. Hence, Aager had asked one of the guards if he would be kind enough to bring in a carpet, for Lady Inshala’s benefit.

And a cushion or three, while he was at it..

 

Or even if he weren’t kind enough!

 

Aager did not recall having put any such emphasis, but the thick, soft carpet had arrived within ten minutes followed by the half a dozen or so cushions..

And now, said Lady Inshala was here, lying flat on her little tummy, her skinny legs swinging up with lazy contentment and coloring what appeared to be some sort of flower in the book with little, colorful sticks scattered around.

 

“Crayons”, Inshala had told him with knowledgeable accomplishment.

They were called crayons.

 

The sinister-looking man in dark leathers thought that sounded suspiciously like a fancy name for some kind of deathly and dermal poison!

 

Then there was this coloring-book-thing!

 

Aager had never seen a book that could be, or even should be, colored before. Would have been a surprise if he had. He wasn’t sure if anyone back at Drashan had ever seen one, either.

Drashan aside, why would he?

And what was the point of buying a book, and books weren’t cheap, then doing all the work by coloring it yourself, anyway? Apparently, some smart artisan was making a lot of money by openly cheating his customers!

The nerve some people had in this world..

What kind of a demented idiot would even buy—

 

Aager opted to stop making combustive, mental commentary at that point.

Whatever he was about to say about said idiot, one of them was already here, and apparently, he was about to be the other by joining her! 

 

“Would you like to join me for some? Before I am called back to sleep in my room?”, she asked smiling up at him.

It was quite obvious this coloring thingy was something she had liked a lot, Aager noted, because not only did the young girl seem happy, but she also appeared content. And there was a distinct sense of serenity about her, which made her glow in an altogether new kind of beautiful.

“Maybe..”, smiled Aager as he pulled off his dark, leather hood, undid his mask, and tossed them both on his bed. Then unbuckled his leather armor, and his belt, ridding himself of his swords and daggers, and carefully set them aside.

“You want me to pout, don’t you?”, asked the girl honestly.

“Very much.”, replied Aager in kind. “You could win just about any argument with me using only the pout.”

“But.. I do not want to argue with you. Arguing is not nice. It tarnishes some things between people. And I think it becomes a habit in time and people start doing it without noticing anymore.. They argue about everything, and they do not recognize, both love and respect are now gone!”, she said..

..with a pout!

 

Aager was astounded, once again, at the depth of the young girl’s insight. Particularly when taking into account that this girl never had anyone to have argued anything in her past, save one, venerable old man, to have observed, and consequently, gained such insight. 

 

“We are not doing this on the table, why? Seems easier on the knees.”, he asked as he knelt down across the little girl and on his stomach, pulled off his heavy leather gloves, stared at the flower in the book, which he assumed was some kind of a rose, picked up one of the red sticks, and carefully started to fill one of the pedals.

“I am not sure.”, Inshala replied.

Aager cocked an eyebrow.

“How so?”

“When.. when we sit around a table, the table is standing between us. That makes me feel like I am alone.”, she said, frowning slightly.

“We could sit next to one another, perhaps?”, he offered.

 

“We could. I suppose. But.. that feels like we are only friends.. Like Ranger Corporal Laila, or even Master Gnine are my friends.. I like friends and I like that they are my friends. And I like that Alor’Nadien ne and Udoorin are my friends. And how Lady is my friend. And Merisoul and even Anglenna are my friends. I want you to be my friend too, but not like them. I do not know the words. You should not be my friend like they are my friends. When we lie down on the floor like this while doing things or talking, however, it feels like we are actually sharing something.. and more than just these pictures and more than just words..”, she said, struggling to correctly phrase her mind.

Then she went a bit pink. 

“And.. and our faces are much closer when we are lying down and coloring these pictures.. And I can watch you from this close, as well!”, she said with a blush.

And now Aager had both his eyebrows cocked up, for this insight did not belong to a little girl.

At all!

 

They colored the flowers and some other things that Aager was not always sure as to what some of them were. But they did it anyway and in content silence..

..for two hours straight.

 

He asked what color he should use when he wasn’t sure and the girl would look around for the appropriate stick, pick it up, hand it over to him, and say, “This!”, every time, with a happy, accomplished smile.

It was during those two hours Aager had the opportunity to think, or perhaps, contemplate on certain things.

He threw careful glances at the girl as she savagely colored the flowers, the stems, and the leaves, the sun, the clouds, the bees, and the bugs, and the dears, and the houses in the coloring book with child-like fervor.

He looked down at his own workmanship and noted his seemed more like he was dissecting the flowers, the sun, the clouds, the bees, and the bugs, and the dears, and the houses with jugular accuracy, waiting to be labeled and placed into their corresponding jars!

It was just about then, a number of things dawned on him.

 

One

The little girl was deliberately, or maybe the correct word would be, ‘inadvertently’, acting like a little girl because for the first time she had a genuine mother, a grandmother, three sisters, and a little, overtly smart, mischievous brother and hence she could afford to.. let go?

Or perhaps, drop her guard.

A something, Aager thought, was quite encouraging to see, yet altogether sad —in a way.

 

Two

Thanks to young Master Cümeyt and the emo girl Madina, though Aager still did not quite understand what the buggery bum an ’emo’ was, she, Inshala, was catching up to everything she had missed during her own childhood, both because such entertainments had never been available to her, and it wouldn’t have mattered even if they had been, seeing as how solitary and dangerous a life she had lived.

 

Three

He himself was pretty much in the same rickety boat as she was, dammit! When people looked at his Inshala, they saw a traumatized little girl, all the while thinking he, Aager, was the steady one and that at least he was ‘alright’.

Lying face down, coloring silly flowers and dears and bees and bugs, Aager Fogstep realized he was not alright. He realized he had never been alright, but always skirted at the edges of suppressed, angry insanity all his life. Coming to Serenity Home had been a blessing, certainly, but in a way, and unwittingly to be sure, that had merely diluted his very unhealthy mental status. Or camouflaged it, to put in a more astute perspective.

 

Four

This little girl, Inshala, had come to his room, much like every other night, and shared everything she had seen, learned, felt, and experienced that day with him until late hours, in effect, making sure he healed as much as she did. Bit by bit, she was freeing herself from her fears, her desperations and her losses, all the while seeding her desolations with her mom, her grandma, her sisters and brother, while making new friends, and learning and experiencing the things left missing all her life. And by coming here, she was sharing her joys with him, in affect, bringing whole new norms into his life as well, even if only by proxy.

The beauty of it was, there was never been any deliberation in her actions at all. Only instinctual need to make him feel as good as she was feeling, and the irony in all of that was not lost on Aager.

Inshala was giving him surcease, just by being here and being herself!

 

And Five

Aager loved it!

 

Unequivocally.

Irreversibly.

Without any doubt.

All of it.

 

And knew, at that very moment, why he had felt thus ‘blank’ of late.

For he had just recognized, with quiet fervor, that he could no longer tolerate her being just a ‘part’ of his life..

He wanted to be all of hers!

 

“You seem.. odd tonight. Lost in thought and distracted and your hands are drawing without consulting you.”, whispered Inshala, staring into his eyes.

“I am odd every night.. And distracted much of late.”, replied the man in dark clothes, a tad gruffly.

“A gold coin for your thought?”, she smiled. “I have a gold coin. I think.. I could go and get it if you like.”

“I doubt my thoughts are worth a gold, love.”, Aager said quietly. “But I will share them with you. Just as soon as I understand them myself. I promise.”

“I could ‘pout’ them out of you, you know!”, giggled the girl.

“I think you have been with Master Cümeyt for far too long, love..”, mourned Aager.

“He has shown me so many interesting things. Did you know there is more gossip going on here, in this place, than among the fey at Gull’s Perch? You would think a city full of paladins would have a bit more honest people!”, she said a bit disturbed.

“Ow? Is there some theft going on? That kind of behavior should be discouraged.”, said Aager with a frown and felt no guilt or shame, whatsoever, at the fact that being a thief was what he had started his long line of an uncouth carrier in the first place. But thieving had never really been any more than a stepping stone for him. Sort of something he’d had to endure in a ‘just do it’ sense until better options had presented themselves. If anyone he’d known had been an outright thief, it had been that Darly Dor kid —which did also explain why he had disliked him so much..

“No, no.. Nothing like that. It’s just something I learned, that many people are sleeping in someone else’s room and few wake up where they are supposed to!”, mumbled the girl as she slapped her tiny feet together for emphasis as she totally drowned a sunflower in dark purple with vehemence.

“People are strange sometimes. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. And I am not sure that’s the color for that picture, love.”, said Aager, pointing at her page. 

“It isn’t. I am just angry. That is why it is purple. My sunflower is angry too!”, she said unhappily.

“Ow? Why are you angry? Did something happen?”

“I do not know.”, came her frowning voice in his mind. “I am sorry. You are tired and have been keeping me company when you should be sleeping and now I am afflicting you with my silly!”

“True. I am tired. But doesn’t ‘keeping company’ work the other way around as well? And let’s not go to ‘silly’, please. I haven’t even begun my daily ranting yet!”, he replied in an amused tone. “Now tell me, what has gotten you riled up?”

“I do not know.”, she repeated. “I am put out that people don’t wake up where they should, yet I am doing the same thing. I go to sleep in my room, but wake up here all the time.. Is something wrong with me?”

“Uhhmm..”, said Aager, not sure as to what he should say or how he should respond, really, so he tried for a casual sort of tone. “I.. do not think what you and they are doing is quite the same, love.”

“How so?”, she asked glumly.

“Well..”, he began but faltered. “..Possibly because when you come here every night, I call your name, every time, but you don’t hear my voice. You truly are asleep. You come, your stand before my bed, hold out your arms, and just.. stay there. Took me by surprise the first time you did it, and even more, when I finally figured out what it was you demanded.”

“I.. I demanded something from you? I shouldn’t be making demands from you! That is not nice! And in my sleep, too? What did I demand?”, she asked in a depleted voice.

“A hug.”, replied Aager kindly.

 

Inshala’s face turned bright pink.

 

“I..”, she stammered. “I thought I came here and just slept in the other bed, to keep you company, though I honestly do not remember ever getting up, nor walking here..”

“That.. might have been partly my doing. Not the coming here. The waking up in the other bed.. After I’d give you your silent demand, you wouldn’t move but make this funny noise.. like when cats see a bird or a squirrel..”, said Aager honestly and Inshala dropped her coloring sticks and just buried her face in her skinny arms..

“I think, or felt, to be more precise.. you wanted to.. cuddle up and sleep next to me.. But something about your base, honest character wouldn’t let you.. Not without my express permission.. And because you weren’t really awake, I wouldn’t give you that permission because it would be wrong.. Which is why I would pick you up, and tuck you away in the other bed. You’d make a bit of a fuss in there but eventually, go still.”, he said kindly.

 

“This is so embarrassing. I do not remember the last time I was this—”, she mumbled in a muffled and horrified voice.

“There is nothing to be embarrassed about, Inshala. We both want, what we want. Apparently, you decided to actually do something about it, without ever knowing.”, he said thoughtfully.

“But.. what do you want?”, she asked, her face still buried in her arms.

 

And, there it was..

The simple question that was the core of what they had been, what they were, and what they would become for one another.

To simplify that even further; what they had, and what they could have..

So simple..

..a question.

 

What did he want?

What did he want?

And what did he want?

 

The small nuances in the same question made all the difference, to be sure, but the only thing he was certain of was the answer to the question that actually preceded this one;

 

Did he want?

 

To that, he said, yes.

Not because he was mentally sure of anything.

But because the blank in him was telling him exactly that.

Or rather, he had the blank, because he no longer could tolerate the lack of certain things..

..or a certain someone.

 

And something clicked in his mind.

 

Six

Aager decided, then and there, to shut up..

..and do something about the blank in his soul.

 

“Come, love.”, he said with a deliberate, casual tone. “It’s getting late. I’ll escort you to your room. I believe most of our plannings and meetings are done, but a few crucial details are left. They will need me wide awake for them in the morrow.”

 

The young girl accepted his offer to take her to her room gracefully.

Not that it would matter.

She’d be back in a few, anyway..

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager dropped off the strangely beautiful, deeply sincere, shyly honest, and unconventionally his Inshala to Moira’s former room with a gentle kiss, then left..

But not back to his own room.

He decided to have one meeting before going there and for some oddly existential reason, this one would be much more important than all the meetings he had done for the last eight or ten days.

He dashed silently through the torch-lit corridors and long halls of Durkahan’s inner castle and skid to a halt before the one door he would have never expected to have knocked.

 

“Aager Fogstep to see Lady Granma on an important matter —if she is available.”, he said quietly when a young, feminine voice asked who it was, upon knocking on the door.

A moment of surprised silence ensued, but it didn’t last long.

“Come, boy..”, he heard the old, cackling voice of Granma.

Aager slowly opened the door and entered the dimly lit room of the very old woman —the mother of Lady Alisia.

The room was comfortably decorated with many chairs holstered with velvets in subdued colors, a long, comfortable-looking, dark maroon divan, and cushions, several deep, soft rugs, a large, old wardrobe, any number of shelves with books, delicate porcelain cups, vases, and many other delicate curios, and a small table covered with cream-colored laces, all of which gave the distinct impression of ‘been there, done that and I have the aged wisdom to prove it’ feel to them.

The old woman was sitting in a large, rocking armchair, delicately holding a cup with something steaming in it.

“Tea, boy?”, she asked in her wheezing voice but didn’t wait for him to reply. She motioned a hand and Moira’s younger sister, Lady Maira produced another cup from the shelves and poured him his tea, while the Granma watched the sinister-looking man settle down.

“Sugar? Honey? Milk, Sir?”, Lady Maira asked politely, though it was apparent she was not very comfortable with the idea of being just her and her grandmother in the same room with this man.

“None for me, Lady Maira.”, Aager growled with his gravelly voice, inadvertently making the girl flinch.

“Honey. Put honey in his tea, girl. Methinks he will need it.”, snickered the old woman.

“Ma’am..”, said Aager, sort of as an excuse to start from somewhere.

The old woman snickered again.

“You didn’t come here to Ma’am me this late, boy. ‘Granma’ will suffice. I have heard it enough many times to respond to it by now.”

“I came.. to..”, stammered Aager. “I was hoping for a private talk.. on a private matter, Lady Granma.”

 

“Well, now.. Lady and Granma.. You truly must be desperate, boy. But polite. Good qualities to start a conversation. Maira, dear, why don’t you take the night off. You don’t have to sit up late every night for my sake, you know. Do tell Alisia I said that, if you would, please. I am old. Not invalid, nor senile. She can attend to me personally when I am, rather than send her daughters..”, she huffed.

“Are.. are you sure, Granma?”, Maira asked tentatively, giving a sidelong glance in Aager’s direction. “Will you be alright?”

“I am alright, dear. And quite safe with Sir Aager here, seeing as he is the only trustable man left in Durkahan.”, she said steadily.

“I shall not keep Lady Granma up for long, Lady Maira.”, promised Aager quietly so as not to scare the girl any further.

“Then I leave my grandmother in your tender care, Sir Aager.”, she replied politely, bent down, kissed her granny, curtsied Aager, and regally left the room.

“I hope I didn’t scare her too much.”, mumbled Aager.

“My daughter and my grands don’t scare too easily, boy. Managed to give them that much at least. Though they did botch the job when Tarakadahan happened.”, said Granma, staring at him thoughtfully. “Now, what’s on your mind, young man? You truly must be desperate to have come to me for wisdom. People seldom do, anymore.”

“Their loss, I am sure..”, Aager said. “It is true that I am desperate, but I do not believe my choice of wisdom was faulty.”

“Very good, young man. Polite, and honest in his praise. No wonder that poor, skinny girl cares for you so deeply.”, she replied. “I suspect this has to do with her?”

“Uhhmm..”, stammered the sinister-looking man and.. squirmed.

 

Aager.. squirmed!

 

“Speak, boy. Wisdom must be given direction to make sense.”, said the old woman sternly, surprising Aager a bit.

 

The man in the dark clothes took a slow sip from his honeyed tea, sort of to wet his throat, then started talking..

 

“I.. am not sure where to begin.. I.. deeply care.. for Inshala..”, he whispered. “Before I met her, my life was only about work. And the safety of the people who I knew nothing about, and who knew nothing about me. But I did it anyway.. As payment for my past sins. Then I met her.. while tracking the miscreants in the vastness of Ritual Forest, who ran and hid inside the old Themalsar ruins. We spent weeks in the cursed halls and dungeons of that mad man’s temple, fighting and bleeding on a nearly daily basis.. Then we faced Themalsar himself.. I almost died when he cursed me, Inshala got banished and then he dropped his demons on Lady Moira and the others.. We were.. desperate.. Dying, really.. But somehow, possibly by sheer stubbornness and a good dose of dumb luck, we did it.. We slew the mad priest who had plagued those lands for over eight hundred years., though we still couldn’t do anything about his deathly ruins, which would always be a gathering place for evil, as it did on at least four occasions, causing the death of tens of thousands of people.”

Lady Granma did not say anything, nor did she interrupt the whispering narration of the man sitting merely a few feet away. Silently, she listed to his desolate recollection of the historical event that had, perhaps unwittingly, changed the world.

Aager had just remembered what had happened after that.. and the ten days he had spent watching over the girl he’d come to love and honor, constantly making sure she was still breathing and still alive, every moment of those ten days, day and night..

Inadvertently, he shuddered.

 

One day, it was likely he would get over the terrors of those ten days..

But not anytime soon.

 

Slowly, he took another sip and continued.

 

“When we got out, she, Inshala, just stared at us and smiled, and just like that, she took the responsibility of kings and queens, great generals and armies, and buried the sins of men and the ruins of Themalsar, deep into the earth, and brought forth life —a whole forest of it, upon the dead and desolate land that was Themalsar, sacrificing everything that was precious for her. Everything that defined her.. She gave away what she was.. for the sins of men..”, whispered Aager in a desperate voice. “And now, I feel lost.. She comes to my room and together we color these silly pictures with colored sticks —with crayons, and I have never felt anything thus fulfilling in the entirety of my life, Lady Granma. What’s worse, we are going to a desperate war and she will follow me there, right into the bloody field.. I.. I do not know what to do, yet I feel so empty.. so blank.. without her.. I want her to be with me, for the rest of my life, and I want to be there, with her, for the rest of her life.. And yet, she is so young.. Do.. do I even have the right to ask such a selfish wont from her?”

 

The room seemed to hold its breath as Aager fell silent again.

Then Granma took things into her hands and dismantled everything!

 

“You are aware, that you are speaking to a woman who married at the age of fourteen, right, boy?”, she said with a toothy smile.

Aager ogled at her.

“And the same woman whose mother married when she was twelve! My father was barely sixteen himself and could barely hold up a shield.”, she continued with a cackle. “My mother was playing hopscotch with her friends when my grandfather called her inside and they wed her with my father who was nursing a bloody nose because he had just been fighting with some other boys at the time. Then the wedding was done, in under ten minutes, my mother returned to her game and my father went back to return the compliment done to his nose and had his lip split for his efforts!”

Aager snorted!

“Life is not how we define it, boy. That is base arrogance. Yes, they fought and so did I and my beautiful man, who had the soul of a shark, and was a brigand in bed! We did all sorts of silly things and fought over even sillier things and it took us years to understand what being married truly meant. But when we did, we were thick as thieves after that. Children marry at an early age in Durkahan, and for many reasons varying from the need for soldiers to farmers and artisans because we constantly feed our troops who safeguard the vast lands around the Demon Plains just north of here and Heavens Hand to stave off the evil that is constantly trying to overrun the Demon Wall, with logistics, soldiers, masons, and both armor smiths and weapon smiths, knowing should we fail, Heavens Hand will fail, and then the kingdom will fall. Other cities might have the luxury to live otherwise, but we do not. Boys and girls tend to marry quite after their twenties at Koruxan, while it varies greatly in other cities, and our dear little Inshala is not a human girl. Judging her by our standards is a poor way to repay her due respect. Not to mention the fact that she is a bloomer. I could see what she sees when she looks at you. You might see a little girl when you look at her and try to be honorable for all you like, but she sees a ‘mate’, when she looks at you! True, she has not grown in a society, hence, she lacks the things she should know and do, which refrains her from fully blooming. But you should also note; none of that is her fault.

Think of this when you are deciding whether she is too young or not; she sleeps in her room, wakes up in yours!

I am guessing, she does not do this because she needs a father figure. It is possible you filled such a gap, before, and at the beginning. But that is not the case anymore and has not been so for quite some time now, and I believe the delay was only due to her lack of social mingling; she just couldn’t correctly define what you were to her because she never had the appropriate social references. When it came to boys and men, that only meant being chased, caged, and whipped!

It is commendable and quite remarkable that you have managed to be as honorable as you have and never taken advantage of her, seeing as how honest, sincere, earnest, and pretty she is. Just for that, you have my respect. Methinks, however, playing with fire every walking moment of your day, and ‘not walking’ moments of your nights, and not expecting to eventually burn, or burn out, is foolishness, and you don’t look like a fool to me, boy.”

 

Aager stared at the old woman with astonishment. He had expected her to be mildly straightforward, certainly, but what he had gotten was a whole herd of Moxes trampling over him!

 

“You think.. I should ask for her hand?”, he asked carefully.

“And here I thought you were a smart man.”, muttered Lady Granma with exasperation. “We are past hands, boy. Ask her whole, already!”

 

Aager dropped the cup!

 

“Tell me, boy..”, the old woman asked. “When is the correct time to kill? You should know. It’s quite your area of expertise. Right up your alley, as they say..”

 

Aager paused for a moment.

This was something quite off-topic, and not exactly a ‘table conversation’ kind of thing to ask, nor answer, for that matter..

 

“I.. do not understand what you mean, Lady Granma.”, he replied carefully.

“Let me dummy that down for you then, young man.”, she said with a slightly disappointed tone.

“What happens when you stab too late?”

“You have missed your opportunity and are likely bleeding to death now.”, he replied.

“And what makes you think love is any different when it’s too late?”, she asked, staring deep into his eyes.

 

Aager Fogstep picked up the porcelain cup off the thick carpet, slowly rose, and spoke in his gravelly voice.

 

“Thank you, Grandmother. Your wisdom, it would seem, is quite sharp and well earned.”, he said a bit flustered.

“Sit, boy. We are not done yet!”, Granma ordered.

 

Aager sat.

Promptly.

For a moment he wasn’t quite sure what to say. Finally, a low, harsh, and bitter whisper escaped him.

 

“I can not think of a life without my Inshala. I shall ask for her hand from Lady Alisia. I dearly hope she gives her to me, and with her blessing..”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about Alisia, young man. She yearns for a wedding.”, replied Granma with a snicker.

“Thank you for the tea.. and your insight..”, he said honestly.

“Do not wait for a day or three. Ask her hand in the morning, and have the wedding afternoon. The moment you forget to mention that, Alisia will turn the whole thing into a parade. Thrust me, boy, you don’t want that.”, Lady Granma warned with a smile. “Nothing short of an ambush will save you!”

“You have a very interesting way of laying things out, Lady Grana Maarva!”, Aager said, quite intrigued.

“I do, don’t I?”, she replied with another snicker. Then her face turned serious all of a sudden. “You will take care of my granddaughter, yes?”

“As tenderly as I can.”, replied Aager.

 

Granma stared at him and something deep inside her squinting eyes lit up..

 

“Tender is good.. But do not overdo it. Inshala is a flower, but not a wilting one. She will cry easily because she has never had the benefits of social moderations in her life. She also knows pain intimately and does not fear it. She has, methinks, figured early in life that, much like being tired after a long, happy run, being hurt and suffering pain is merely one of the natural outcomes of any venture —as sad as it is that she has come to that conclusion, and at such an early age, really is.

What she fears is not pain, but one of two things that very much matter to her. This, I have seen in her. She listens to everyone around her, and carefully asks the things she does not understand, even things that are trivial or just silly. I am guessing my mischievous grandson Cümeyt and my hair-brained granddaughter Madina are giving your Inshala a crash-course in many things she has missed, and possibly on things it would have been perfectly alright for her to have totally missed.”

“Yes. Buggery bum!”, said Aager with a short snort.

“Heard that, did you? Madina’s favorite for this month. Drives her mother crazy every time she uses it. And now she has learned it to young Inshala, who, willy-nilly, also uses it when her mother is there and is totally innocent of her deed. You can imagine the snickers all around, and there’s nothing much Alisia can do about it. I haven’t had this much fun in the last three decades..”, cackled the old lady.

Aager grinned.

“Her responses are oddly early or late, though. It is like she is miscounting her turn to speak, but eager to blend in..”

“Huh.”, grunted Aager. That had never happened when she was with him.

 

It dawned on him that it hadn’t because she trusted him to see her flaws and correct them appropriately, and for some reason, that made him feel happy.

Funny how it was always the little things!

 

“..For whatever reason, your little Inshala absolutely fears not being comprehended!

This she dreads mindlessly and can not shrug off nor ignore. My guess is, it is because she has been judged, and consequently punished for being something she is not —her whole life, precisely for that reason.

Somehow, she sees the absence of respect not so dissimilar to being misunderstood, hence, she fears this also. It is possible she strongly believes; ‘the misunderstood’ can not have respect.. Ignoring her wonts and desires —and likely her strengths as well— for the sake of your own conformity and providence and for something she can, and is willing to bear and endure will do her injustice on both accounts and give her the impression, quite clearly, I might add, just how little you really understand her, thus, how little respect you have for her! My man had faults. Too many to name here and now. But one thing he was never at fault nor lacking was, he showed me his love the way I wanted it, and I laughed every time he did a funny, even though he was a lump when it came to humor! Give her what she wants, boy. And let her give you the love you need to fill in your blanks.. Life is too short for stupid, and we are all going to war and some of us are not going to come back! Live with the regrets of loss. Not with the regrets of never having had the balls!”

 

Aager stared at his feet.

Wow!

The sinister-looking man in his dark clothes felt singed.

That had been one, classy thrashing he’d just received from Lady Grana Maarva, and she hadn’t even been trying!

Also, she wasn’t done yet..

 

“Being polite and honorable is good and well. I am guessing, is how you have been treating her all along. Polite and honorable are indeed, good qualities, boy, but not at the expense of the people around us. Delia did the honorable thing, and good thing he did too —got himself killed by his own. Don’t get me wrong. I adored and respected that boy. He made my Alisia deliriously happy and I am sure that was a mean trick for him.. My Alisia was quite the petulant girl when she was young. Then my Moira did the honorable thing; landed herself in the dungeons. And then my Alisia decided to be honorable and good, and almost married the animal who killed his own brother and her husband. No one sought the wisdom of this old woman, which would have been; hire cutters, put a bounty on his head, poison his well, hex him, drop a loose flagstone on him, push him down the stairs, or whatever.. just kill him, already!

 

Aager blinked!

 

“My Alisia did disappoint me, back then. Of all the things she could, and should have done, she chose defeat because that animal had threatened her with her children.. You see, boy, when someone threatens you and yours, you do not bargain to bed them. You simply have them killed! “, she finished pleasantly.

 

Damn.

Though, Aager.

Good thing this old lady had been on their side.

 

“What you and your pretty little girl did was more than save our collective sorry hides. You, Sir Aager, and Inshala, in particular, remembered Alisia what it was to be a noblewoman, and the First Lady of Durkahan again. And when I say ‘Inshala in particular’, I do not emphasize it because you were less than her, but because she came here as not as a savior like you, but as the scared little sister, the lost daughter, and the awesome granddaughter!”

 

The old lady fell silent after that as if telling him she was done learning him her wisdom.

Aager stood up, respectfully nodded at the old woman then ghosted to the door.. and paused..

 ..as a moment of unexpected, and quite a retrospect insight dawned upon him.

 

“Would you..”, he asked, looking at Granma over his shoulder. “..know a Lady Daniella, perchance?”

 

Grana Maarva stared at him for a piercing moment.

 

“Now why would you ask me about Daniella?”, she asked sharply.

“No particular reason. Overheard a conversation between a young man, Udoorin Shieldheart, and Lady Moira once, right after we had come out of the Ruins of Themalsar and before my Inshala permanently sank it into the depths of the earth.”, he said.

“Why would Daniella’s name be mentioned at all?”, Granma asked intently.

“From what I gathered, she is the great-great-something-grandmother of the young man..”

“That so? And never did they figure, he and my Moira were cousins, then?”

 

Aager turned and stared at Lady Grana Maarva.

Granma chuckled.

 

“You see, Daniella was my mother’s younger sister and a fiery, rebellious girl she was. She detested the nobility and married a promising young captain named Samdorin Shieldheart and together they left Durkahan and settled somewhere far off to the east..”

“Serenity Home!”, Aager blurted..

“No one will blame the beautiful Princess of Bari Na-ammen to have taken a simple country oaf for a king!”, said Lady Grana Maarva with a check-mate snicker.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager Fogstep lay in his bed, staring blankly at the stone ceiling, back in his ‘lair’..

..and quietly waiting.

It was past midnight and he was exactly twenty-five years and one month old now. Normally, that wouldn’t have been remarkable for him. People who lived on a daily, ‘today, I have survived again’ basis, cared little about their age.

This particular night seemed special, however.

Or rather, this particular day.

There seemed a sense of freshness, and perhaps that of ‘expectation’, in the air. Much like how children felt when they learned their father was alive and coming home..

..from a long, depleting war.

 

“Huh.”, mumbled Aager. “That was a bit dramatic. Couldn’t have related to something brighter, something happier, could you?”

 

The door to his den opened and in a particularly pretty, pale lavender nightgown with white, frilly fringes that barely covered her slender hips and nothing else, Inshala walked in.

She didn’t wait at the door to look inside, nor pause for her eyes to adjust to the dark chamber.

She entered as she’d opened the door.

And with silent, naked feet, she ghosted around Aager’s bed until she bumped her, somewhat knobby knees, to his bed and just stood there with little to no expression on her face. What was there, however, seemed on the bare edges of distress.

 

Slowly she rose her skinny arms and held them outstretched and with her palms facing one another.

She had been like this ever since Moira had given her room to her, and gladly, but Aager suspected the whole idea had been Lady Alisia’s.

True, she had done it to preserve her new daughter’s dignity and avoid possible, slandering gossip. But she had, perhaps unwittingly turned ‘the girl who hangs around that sinister-looking man all day’, into ‘the girl who sneaks off into that sinister-looking man’s chamber at nights!’

Aager sighed and put the esteemed Lady Alisia aside, sat up, and stared at the girl.

He stared at Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane and quietly called her name.

The girl’s brows crested slightly, then she made a small, distressed noise.

She looked so very pretty, but sad..

..or perhaps ‘unhappy’, was closer to defining her distress.

She seemed like someone yearning to be somewhere, was allowed to come thus near, just not permitted to touch her wont.

It was a cruel way to punish someone, and unwittingly as it may have been, that was exactly what was being done to her.

Silently, he got out of his bed, came around behind her, pulled her to himself, and enfolded her, and her outstretched arms in his.

She seemed so small in his arms like that and Aager wasn’t a large man, to begin with. A stab above average in height, and an edge broader at the shoulders, certainly, but altogether, a lean man, really.. A man, made of tightly woven, cord-like spring-muscles. More so since he had accepted Mab’s offer and taken the Winter Mantle.

Everything seemed more vivid, detailed, and alive since the Mantle, including his deadly attire, and his not-so-dissimilar desires..

In fact, everything was more since the Mantle!

His moments of happiness, and consequently, his moments of wrath. Which was exactly what he had dished out on Karkashi, in the arena..

And Inshala had found her solace in a man like him, of all people.

A good-for-murder, only Mab would have deemed worthy of her Mantle..

Inshala, on the other hand, had found her peace with him and in her beautiful gray eyes, he saw her storms, and her demons back off and scatter.. and he only needed to be near.

Was it, then, too much for him to ask just as much of her?

To stave off and scatter his demons?

And perhaps find solace too?

No.

Not perhaps.

And certainly not for his demons.

For he had already found his solace in her and that had happened before the Mantle.

The scattering of his demons was merely ‘collateral damage’, per se.

Because Aager Fogstep was always honest with himself.

With her, he had been nothing less.

 

Slowly, and with great care so as not to wake her, he picked the little girl, as he always did, and tenderly lay her in the other bed. And with nothing less than honest desire, he looked at her tiny feet, her smooth, bare legs, her slender, naked hips, her small, palm-sized butt, her slim waist, her little tummy, and her appealing, nubile, baby-pink breasts, quite visible under her revealing nightgown, and her diminutive, somewhat angular face, her long eyelashes, her slightly frowning brows, her cute, perky nose, her plush, cherry-red lips, her beautiful, curving horns, and her scattered, long, and silky hair..

And he wondered.

For an inevitable moment.

Whether this little girl knew.

Just what kind of a stirring effect she had on him..

But that was it, wasn’t it?

Other than some vague insight at an instinctual level, the little girl truly had no idea.

Only suppressed hope that the man, Aager, somehow found her appealing.

And that was also his fault.

Both that she didn’t know, and that she would think so little of herself..

Perhaps it was time, he thought, he really ought to tell her.

Then.

With a destitute sigh.

He reached down.

And covered her tiny feet, her smooth, bare legs, her slender, naked hips, her small, palm-sized butt, her slim waist, her little tummy, and her appealing, nubile, baby-pink breasts, still visible, still calling from under her revealing nightgown, all the way up to her skinny, bare arms, slender neck and her diminutive, somewhat angular face, with his own blanket.

He watched as the girl did a sad little whimper and struggled to free herself from under her covers.

Inshala, it would seem, displaced her blankets quite frequently. A something he would look forward to tending in the near future..

..and mayhap, in the far future as well.

He bent down and kissed her forehead, then her beautiful, curving horns, and soothed her long, silky hair until she calmed, and with a depressed sigh, went still.

For a long time, Aager listened to her sated breaths, then gave a similar, depressed sigh of his own, silently ghosted to the large wardrobe, pulled out a spare blanket, and went back to his own bed.

 

Lying in the dark, and staring at the ceiling of his den, he asked.

“Do you want me thus much, Inshala?”

 

No reply came.

Only soft, steady breathing..

..and a barely discernable, sleepy little sigh.

 

It was possible he had a barely discernable smile of his own on his face when he finally drifted off to sleep. He was twenty-five years and one month old now, the girl he loved was barely an arm’s length away, and today seemed to promise a whole new beginning.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

And what do we have here?”, asked Aager, entering his chamber/lair/den, late that night and stared down at the little girl lying on her tummy and on the pale beige carpet with her legs swinging lazily as she furiously colored what he thought was a woodsman’s lodge with a garden full of flowers, bushes, trees, a raccoon, a dear, a bear, and an eagle, or maybe it was a hawk, or likely a crow. A picture, he thought, was a bit on the pretentious side and would likely end with the bear killing the dear and raccoon destroying everything in the lodge and possibly knocking down a candle and setting the whole thing on fire!

“I am coloring this new book that Master Cümeyt was kind enough to give me.”, she said, looking up and smiling at him from where she lay. “He insists I am getting better so he gave me this one and swore on his ancestors that this one was for pros!”

“I could see how this one is indeed for pro’s.”, said Aager with a straight face, as he pulled off his dark, leather hood and mask off and tossed them on the bed.

“I told him he did not have to swear at his ancestors and that I would have believed him anyway because brothers and sisters never lie to one another.”, she said happily. “But he just stared at me with this funny face and he was like, ‘Ow, like never ever?’, and I said, ‘Of course, never ever, because brothers and sisters must trust one another, and he was like, ‘Well, that’s a buggery bum. Where’s the fun in that?'”

“That boy..”, growled Aager, while he undid the buckles to his dark leathers, pulled them off, and put them neatly on the bed as well. “..will either go far or go to jail, someday..”

Inshala giggled.

“Then he tried to explain what pros meant and I asked him why he cut the other half of a perfectly nice word, and he said, ‘Cuz that’s what pros do, sis!'”

Then she sighed.

“The rules of cities and families are confusing and many.”

“That they are.”, he agreed and loosed his heavy belt and removed his swords, daggers, and knives, and carefully set them aside.

“And of course, I am confused now. I wanted to ask you, then and there but decided against it. You were in a meeting with the pigwigs.. or maybe it was the bigwigs, I am not sure which because both Cümeyt and Madina started laughing and giggling when I said pigwigs and neither of them made any sense after that and I was like, ‘This is a buggery bum of a situation only my Aager could untangle’, but you were at the meeting with the pigwigs.. So then I was like, ‘Girl, you must stop, like, now! You are like this clumsy bear cub that just stepped on a wasp’s nest and is now running around in silly circles with all the angry wasps on your tail!’

I did tell him, I would rather he never cut the other end of my name, though. Or anybody else’s. Can you imagine Inshes, Cüms, Mois, Mais, and Mads and Fards running around all day? I mean, we wouldn’t even have to be running, and we would still look funny and silly!”

Aager snorted.

“I would rather you all didn’t run around all day as Moi’s, Mai’s, Mad’s, Fard’s, and Insh’es, either. That would be awkward, indeed. And funny. And silly.”, he said with a smile, settled on the thick, pale beige carpet and on this stomach, pulled off his heavy leather gloves, grabbed a brown coloring stick, and started on all the tree trunks, and the lodge.

Inshala giggled again.

“Master Cümeyt thought it was funny, and silly too. So he laughed. In fact, he laughed so hard, we had to stop playing for a while. But his laugh was also very squeaky and funny, so I laughed too. Then Madina laughed because she thought we were funny and because I make this snorty noise from my nose when I laugh. Then mother came and grounded us because there was an important meeting going on with the pigwigs and we were making so much noise and being irresponsible! That sort of annoyed Granma so she and mom started arguing. Granma told mom the pigwigs wouldn’t even be having their buggery bum meetings if it hadn’t been for us and we could hear them all the way from our room and Cümeyt, Madina, and I thought that was a bit unfair of mom to have grounded us when they were making so much noise themselves.. I did also wonder why we had been grounded. I mean, we were already sitting on the ground. But I decided to let that pass too, as things were confusing, and funny, and silly enough as they were and I thought maybe not asking would make me look more like this ‘pros’, rather than the clumsy bear cub! After all, I thought, I could always ask you.. when you are not in a meeting, and not busy, and not resting..”, she finished with a pout, as she picked three shades of blues and started on the sky!

“You could ask me now.”, he offered.

“No..”, Inshala said with a happy, yet slightly distracted voice. “..You are busy in a ‘resting-meeting’ now, with me.”

 

Aager laughed.

He just couldn’t help himself.

 

Yes, the story Inshala had just told was mildly entertaining, but it was the artlessly innocent, earnest, and seamless ‘commentary’ way she told it, followed by the unexpected conclusions that made it cute, adorable, and funny. What was more, was that Inshala was not telling her stories with the intention to entertain.

She was just telling them.

The way she saw them and comprehended them. It wasn’t all about her stories and how entertaining, or even fascinating they were.

It was how she delivered them..

 

When Aager told a story, he said it like he was giving an intelligence report; short, succinct, to the point, and with professional deliberation. It would start at point A, and end at point B, using the shortest, straightest, two-dimensionally linear path, and A would always keep B in his LoS —Line of Sight because that’s how much his A’s would trust his B’s!

 

Inshala’s recollection of events never went from point A to point B. They certainly never followed a straight nor a linear path because there were C’s, D’s, E’s, F’s, G’s, and a whole flock of other letters both related and sometimes, not so related, to consider, hence, were all brought into her telling, because outright discarding them was obviously not nice, and probably rude as well, as she told the events of her day in her soft, seamless, and ‘slightly confused’ narrative voice where she took point A into her small, delicate hands and bloomed it!

From there, things could only branch or ripple out, seeming to go every which way without any purpose or destination. She would reach point B, but never in an ‘eventually’, sense.

Her point B’s were neither here, nor there, but stressed in her telling and you just had to be deliberately dense or outright lacking any form of sentient perception or insight to have missed it thus thoroughly, or it came from an angle that had little to do with what she was talking about in the first place but ended up being oddly relevant.

The curious part of it all was the fact that things THUS FAR FROM THE POINT and LINEARLY NON-TWO-DIMENSIONAL were the very same things Aager Fogstep had truly, and unequivocally hated..

..until he’d bumped into one, Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane.

The counter-amazement to this was in the dilemma of how Inshala would rather be straightforward, to the point, and succinct like Aager had been all along, only if she could.

 

Aager certainly wished to never see that!

 

“I didn’t want to tell Master Cümeyt, but the real reason why I thought he shouldn’t cut names in half like that was because names have protective power of their own, and cutting them in half removes that protection..”, Inshala said after a while.

“I didn’t know that.”, admitted Aager.

“Not many do. This is why it is unwise to name certain evil beings. It might irk their interest and bring them upon us. Not something anyone would want, and it will give them power over us. This is also the reason why we shy from calling those we love by their name, I think. We already feel helpless against them and we fear we might succumb to them all the way, should we call them by their name, “, she explained quietly.

“Huh.”, said Aager. “Is that why you didn’t use to call me by my name before?”

“Yes.”, she replied honestly.

“But you are saying it now.”, Aager stared.

“Yes.”, she said again, her voice a bit smaller.

“What changed?”, he asked.

“Nothing changed.”, she answered in a tiny, abashed voice. “I have decided to succumb all the way..”

 

In silent contemplation, the two turned the picture around as per need and colored the lodge, the garden, the bushes, and the trees, the raccoon (who, against all expectations, behaved itself), the dear, the bear (which indignantly refused to kill and eat the dear), and the hawk, in unified trans, passing the crayons back and forth for the next two hours.

 

“Inshala?”

“Hmmm?”

“You once asked me when I would see you as a girl and not a baby —like a woman..”

“Yes?”

 

“Would you like to be my woman? My wife?..”

“..And be stupid together for life?”

 

Just like that.

Aager Fogstep proposed.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager Fogstep, the silent, sinister-looking man in his dark leathers, hood, and mask, the Winter Knight of Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, and Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane Bolgrig Hooman, the Lady of Durkahan, the Ritual Guardian, the Mistress of The Grove of Titania, the Queen of Mother Earth and Summer, married the very next day, just a bit after ambushing Lady Alisia and asking her blessing, and for the hand of her new daughter.

The wedding took place in Lord Delia Karakarsh’s own small, private chapel in the inner castle of Durkahan City where Ladies Moira, Maira, and Madina happily attended, while the young Master Cümeyt held the tail end of the pretty bride’s long skirt, merrily skipping and hopping behind her and punching the air with a victorious fist and shouting;

“Yeesh! You go, girl!”

 

Seated at the rear, one Lady Grana Maava smirked while her daughter, Lady Alisia, dabbed her eyes as she watched her Inshala join, in health and in sickness, up in the sky and down in the ground.. and for life, with the silence, spooky man, Aager Fogstep..

 

The ring Aager gave Inshala was handcrafted by the best gold and glass smiths Durkahan had to offer and was made specifically for her; a slim, extraordinarily elegant circular glass, quite indestructible, with a forest of very tiny life-like flowers and vines, and tiny motes of what appeared to be fireflies captured in it and smoothly framed with gold —all intricately molded and flecked with emerald, ruby, and diamond dust, and with both red and green copper.

Inshala’s ring to him was a simple, very dark, quite thick, blue-black thing with two fiery orange bands running around it’s surface. And between the seemingly burning bands, was a poorly scrabbled etchings that must have taken the skinny little girl hours to have carved.

 

To • My • AAGRR • I • Belong

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Far, far away to the east and in the dark, silent depths of the vast Ritual Forest was a rundown and abandoned derelict. Standing right outside that small, sad, and desolate hovel was an ancient oak with less than half her leaves and weighted down with snow.

A warm, happy breeze soothed unseasonably from the west and caressed the brittle branches of the old, nearly-petrified tree and the ancient oak shuddered, felling more of her remaining leaves. A sharp, precipitous crack echoed in the forest and the ancient tree split in two. With a great sigh of relief, Tamara whispered.

“She is safe, she is loved, and she belongs. You may rest in peace now, my love..”

And after some three fulfilling millennia of breathing life into her forest, the ancient oak toppled over and crashed with a resounding boom, adding to the derelict..

Tamara gave another sigh.

“You be good, now, Ritual Guardian..”

She said.

And died.

 

 


Tamara was the beloved wife of Master Cathber Gwet’chen Bolgrig who was Inshala’s surrogate father and master. Tamara was killed some eight hundred years ago, during the first Themalsar War. At least on one occasion, Master Cathber was known to have called or referred to the great old oak tree standing mighty in front of his tiny hut as Tamara.. Whether he was calling the oak, Tamara in reference to the day they met and right in front of the old tree, or he is being literal is unknown, as the only two people involved, Master Cathber and Lady Tamara, are both dead.

 

What Inshala etches on the dark, blue-black carbon-alloy iron ring may, or may not be a misspelling of Aager. She does know the secret runes and glyphs of druidic, and perhaps a spatter of elvish, but does not know how to read nor write common. Cümeyt and Madina are tutoring her some (possibly on Lady Alisia’s orders) and she has come far. Interestingly, the first word she asked to be taught how to write was not her own name.

Whether she does a typo mistake on the ring, or she has etched it so with deliberation is unclear. She does confess, much later (in the story: A ‘Warm’ Warning) how Aager reminds her of her saber-tooth tiger, Katana.

Hence, the possibility of the typo; AAGRR!

 

 

 

dungeons and dragons tarihçe

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part VII)

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part VII)

Timeline:

The Kingdom of Isles, Adalar Krallığı’nın tarihi ve ana kıtayı fethi üzerine kısa bir bakış.

Kesin tarihler, o günkü koşullar dolayısıyla kusurlu olabilir. Bilinen tek şey, krallığın Yıl 1’den sonra kurulan ilk kalıcı medeniyetlerden biri olduğu.

Bu tarihin başlangıcı, Yıl 1‘den sonra yer alır.

l 7569 (-20 yıl)

Sen ne yaptın Fionn, yaa?”, diye inler Komoberi Anthea, mor ve koyu mavi tenli genç adam, Melshieve Akademisi’nin arkasındaki yoğun koruluktaki ‘gizli’ mağaraya geldiğinde.

Fearghas Fionnghal olduğu yerde dona kalır ve fevkalade denebilecek bir hızla, yapmış olabileceği şeylerin zihinsel dökümünü alır, zira o günü oldukça yoğun geçmiştir. Komoberi öğleden sonra, o günkü dersleri biter bitmez, ve rektörlükte geçirdiği iki saatten sonra en eski arkadaşına ‘hesap sormak’ için gizli mağaralarına gelmiş ve up uzun boylu, kömür esmeri, uzun, pembe saçlı, dantelli-fırfırlı pembe mini elbiseli bir Seressa Wraiven’ı çoktan gelmiş olarak bulmuştu. Seressa onu görünce, muhteşem gülümseyişini sergilemiş, yerinden kalkıp anca göğüslerinin altına gelen ruh gibi incecik Komoberi’ye, ‘Sevgili orman perisi Komoberi’, diye sarılmış, sonrada ona pembe çiçeklerle süslü çaydanlığından, aynı sete ait bir fincana papatya çayı dökmüştü. “Ummm.. Sorduğun soruyu biraz daha ayrıntılı sorsan..”, der Fearghas temkinli bir şekilde. “Bugün çok şey yaptım.” Gerçekte Komoberi Anthea huysuz, hesap soran kızlardan değildir. Bu, her şeye boyun eğen, silik yada pasif bir kız oluşundan değil, doğduğu ve ait olduğu orman gibi oluşundandır; Dream WoodsRüya Ormanı çoğunlukla ‘ilk baharı’ yaşayan bir ormandır. Çiçeklerin yeni açtığı, ağaçlardaki yaprakların en yeşil ve en canlı olduğu, hayvanların yeni doğum yaptığı, toprağın mis gibi koktuğu ve gece gündüz börtü böceğin kendi şarkılarını söyledikleri ‘ilk bahar’ gibi.. “G.K.A.H— her ne ise.. Ne yaptın onlara?”, diye küçük yumruklarını fiske etmiş, fevkalade şirin bir şekilde önünde dona kalmış ürkütücü adama hışmeder. “Ummm.. Hiç bi şey?”, diye tedirgin bir şekilde cevap verir Fearghas. “Bana doğruyu söyle, Fionn..”, diye koyu yeşil, kahve karışımı kaşları çatılmış öylece bakar kız, Fearghas’a. “Bugüne kadar sana daha farklısını söylemedim.”, diye çok hafif iğneli bir üslupla konuşur Fearghas. “O bu saate kadar turnuva finalindeydi, sevgili Komoberi. Ve kazandılar.. duyduğum kadarıyla. Seyretmeyi çok istiyordum. Nevarki pembe floksalarımın bir tanesi hastalandığı için, onunla ilgilenmek zorunda kaldım.”. diye serin bir sesle araya girer Seressa. Sonra derin, esef dolu bir nefes verir. “Hide ‘n Seeker‘lar yeni üyeleri için benim bahçemdeki çiçeklerden başka ‘çalınacak hedef’ belirlemelerini pek isterdim. En sonuncusu kapımı kırmakla kalmadı, üç saksı dolusu floksamı da düşürüp parçaladı. Korkarım çocuk revirden çıktığında, onu yemeye çalıştığımla ilgili, hakkımda nahoş dedikodular yayacak. Benim standartlarım var. Neden pis insan eti alayım ki ağzıma. İğrenç!” ..ve kendi rosemint çayından zarif bir şekilde bir yudum ‘hüp’letir. Komoberi’nin kaşları daha da çatılır. “Kim yaptı peki?”, diye bir anda dolan gözlerle tıslar. “Umm.. Kim ne yaptı, Beri. Neler oluyor?”, diye sorar Fearghas. Komoberi gözlerini siler, burnunu çeker, derin bir nefes alıp kendisine çeki düzen vermeye çalışır. “Birileri, Sparducks’ın arka bahçesindeki ‘özel toplantılar’ için kapalı duran yere fena, kapkara, içinde ne olduğu görülemeyen, ancak canlı bir şeylerin saldırdığı ve içi buz gibi soğuk bir büyü yapmış ve o esnada içeride kalabalık bir grup varmış. Grubun neredeyse tamamı revirde. Üçünden ise hiç haber yok!” “Ve bunu benim yaptığımı mı düşündün?”, diye ciddi bir şekilde alınmış bir sesle sorar Fearghas. Seressa rosemint çayından bir yudum daha hüpletir. “Yapılan büyü, senin üzerinde çalıştığın o yeni büyüye çok benziyordu, Fionn.” “Öncelikle, yapılan büyünün, benim üzerine çalıştığım büyü ile aynısı olup olmadığını kesin olarak bilmiyorsun, Beri. Ayrıca kullanılan büyü, benim çalıştığım büyü idiyse bile, o büyü tamamen warlocklara özel bir büyü değil—” “Aslında o büyü tamamen warlocklara özel bir büyü..”, der Seressa yan taraftan ve sakin bir şekilde tekrar çayını hüpletir. “—VE ben akademideki tek warlock değilim. Dahası, bahsettiğin saatlerde ben turnuva bekleme odasındaydım, grubumla beraber!”, diye kızmış bir şekilde saydırır Fearghas. “Daha daha dahası, neden rastgele birilerine akademi sınırlarında ‘oldukça yasak’ olan bir büyü yapayım ki? Atılmak için rektöre gerçek sebep vermiş olmak için mi?”, diye de hışımla hicveder. “Onlar şu G.K.A.— şeysinin üyeleriymiş, Fionn.. Olay yerinde bulunan ‘erimemiş’ papirüslerde benim karakter kağıtlarım, stat’larım ve çizilmiş resimlerim varmış..”, der kızcağız yine dolu gözlerle ve ağlamaklı bir şekilde. “Buraya gelmeden önce, rektörün odasında iki saat sorguya çekildim, Fionn! Beni kurtaran tek şey, benim onların varlığından bile haberdar olmadığıma dair, revirdeki topluluk üyelerinden bir tanesinin verdiği ifadeydi..” Fearghas öylece kalakalır.. Mağarada küçük bir ‘çın’lama sesi duyulur; Seressa elindeki fincanı, tabağı ile masaya bırakır ve yavaşça ayağa kalkıp yeşil, tüleri saçlı Komoberi’ye sarılır. “Ağlama güzel bebeğim. Eminim o şapşalların başına bir şey gelmişse, bu tamamen hakettiklerinden dolayıdır. Buna adım gibi eminim. Tıpkı Fearghas Fionnghal’da sizin güveninizi sarsacak bir davranışta bulunmayacağından emin olduğum gibi.”, diye onu teskin etmeye çalışır Seressa. “Belki aralarında bir ‘paylaşamamazlık’ davası olmuştur.. Halbuki bilmiyorlar mı; sen tekilsin, Anthea.. ve paylaşılamazsın!” Uzun bir süre, miss gibi floksa, gül ve kiraz çiçeği kokan sıcacık Seressa’nın kollarında kaybeder kendisini Komoberi. Neden sonra up uzun boylu, kömür karası kız kollarını açar ve ona gülümseyerek fısıldar. “O senin en eski dostun, güzel peri kızı, Komoberi Anthea. Ondan asla kuşku duymamalısın.” Komoberi burnunu çeker ve Fearghas’a döner. “Ö.. özür dilerim, Fionn. Seni öylece suçlamamalıydım. Halbuki bana sözünü vermiştin.”, der sessizce. “Sorun değil.”, der Fearghas, hafif kasılmış bir sesle. “Benim için de stresli bir gündü. Karşı takım son üç yılın şampiyonuydu ve bizi fena zorladılar. Dolion, Jackson ve Dido revirdeler.” “İyi olacaklar mı?”, diye sorar Komoberi. “Jackson ve Dido olacak. Birinin kolu, diğerinin kaburgaları ve kalçası kırıldı.. ‘Ekşi katır’ sesiyle arenada şarkı söylemeye karar veren Sanya için aynı şeyi söyleyemeyeceğim. Kızı susturmak için kafasına sert bir cisimle vurmuşlar. En son, benden üç tane gördüğünü söylüyordu ve üçüme de ayrı ayrı söyleyecekleri varmış. Beni hiç görmese çok daha memnun olurdum..”, der Fearghas, suratını buruşturmuş bir şekilde. Seressa ‘fırk’lar. “Haydi gelin kutlayalım; sayın Fearghas Fionnghal’ın şampiyonluğunu, barışmanızı, ve arkadaşlarımı tehdit eden ahmakların mutlu bir tesadüfle bertaraf edilmelerini..!” ..der uzun, pembe saçlı, fırfırlı-dantelli mini etekli, up uzun boylu, kömür karası Seressa Wraiven, ve beraberinde getirdiği, daha açılmamış, taze Sparducks Özel Muzlu-Kremalı Pastayı yer sehpasının ortasına yerleştirir..

✱ ✱ ✱

Komoberi Anthea o geceyi ormanda geçirmeye karar verir. Her ne kadar Seressa’nın getirdiği fevkalade lezzetli muzlu pasta ve içtiği sıcak papatya çayları kendisini iyi hissettirmiş olsa da, rektörün odasında geçirdiği iki saatin stresini atmaya yeterli gelmemiştir. Ve Fionnghal ile kafa kafaya gelmiş olması bir ilk olmamakla beraber, bugüne kadar hiçbir zaman onun niyetlerinden yada sözünden kuşku duymamışken, bugün her ikisini de sorgulamış olması kızcağızın ince ve hassas ruhunun derinliklerindeki bir şeylere dokunmuştu.

Nihai olarak, Komoberi bir daha Fearghas’ı böylesi bir konuda sorgulamayacağına karar verir ve onun da bunu kati bir şekilde bilmesini sağlamanın güzel, içten ve incelikli bir yolunu düşünecekti. En eski arkadaşı Fionn’u onure edecek bir şey.. Komoberi bunu düşünürken, tepesinde bulunduğu ağacın, dallardan örülmüş çanak şeklindeki ve içi battaniyelerle yumuşatılıp ve sıcacık bir hale getirilmiş, daha çok büyük bir kuş yuvasını andıran ‘sepetin’ içinde havanın beklenmedik bir hızla soğumasını biraz geç fark eder. Olaya ayıldığında gök yüzünde olması gereken son dördün ve yıldızlar çoktan kaybolmuştur. Ruh gibi kız istemsizce kendisine bir eliyle ‘kaçma’ büyüsü yaparken, diğeri birden buz gibi çırağı ile kaplanır.

“Korkmana gerek yok, genç Komoberi. Bu gece benden sana bir zarar gelmeyecek..”, der tiz, titrek, ve yaşlı bir ses.

“Korkmam gereken şeyler yapma o zaman ki!”, deyi verir Komoberi.

“Kendine olan inancın daha fazla olmalı, genç Komoberi. Seni bekleyen geleceğe titreyerek yürüyemezsin.”, der yaşlı ses.

“Hırka alırım!”, der Komoberi ve verdiği abuk cevaplara kendisi bile şaşırır. Yaşlı ses, uzun, kulak gıcırdatan, hırıltılı bir kahkaha atar.

“Sanıyorum, kim olduğumu merak ediyorsun..”, der yaşlı ses.

“Aslında uyumaya çalışıyordum..”, diye yine alakasız bir cevap daha verir Komoberi. ‘Nooluyo bana yaaa..’, diye inler içinden. ‘Ben kimseyle böyle konuşmam ki ama!’

“Ben, Raven Queen, Kuzgun Kraliçesi..”, diye kendisini tanıtır yaşlı ses ve Komoberi neden garip, abuk cevaplar verdiğini anlayı verir;

Korku. Gece ‘karardığında’ farkında olmadan korkmaya başlamıştır ruh gibi kız ve Kuzgun Kraliçesi daha yaklaşırken, aynı farkındasız katiyetke onun varlığını ‘hissetmiştir’. “Ben.. ben sizin vaktinize ve emeğinizi değecek kadar önemli biri değilim, Efendim.”, der Komoberi korku içerisinde.

“Aaaaa.. bilakis, genç Komoberi. Çoktan yapmış olduğun bir şeyden dolayı buradayım.”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi.

“Ben yapmadım!”, deyi verir kontrolsüz bir şekilde. Belli ki Fearghas yüzünden yediği disiplin cezaları genç Komoberi’de biraz yer etmiştir.

“Sen Komoberi değil misin? Komoberi Anthea? Kayıtlı adresi Dream Woods, Yaşlı Meşe Mahallesi, Yeşil Yaprak Sokak, No. 16 — Adalar Krallığı, Komoberi Anthea?”, diye sorar Kuzgun Kraliçesi.

“E.. evet..”, der kız tamamen korkmuş bir şekilde ve Kuzgun Kraliçesi gibi muazzam bir varlığın, kendisi gibi küçük, ‘üflesen uçacak’ bir kızın adresini nasıl oluyor da bildiğini merak etmekten de kendisini alamaz.

“O zaman doğru yerdeyim..”, der yaşlı ses.

..ve gerçek varlığı ile Komoberi’nin bir şekilde ‘önünde’ belirir! Küçük Anthea çığlık atıp aşağı atlamamak için kendisini zor tutar. “Siz de mi beni cezalandıracaksınız?”, diye soruverir birden.

“Korkarım, seni cezalandırmaya değil, sana borçlanmaya geldim, genç Komoberi.”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi.

Komoberi Anthea olduğu yerde dona kalır. “B.. bana borçanmanıza hiç gerek yok, Efendim. Sizin isteyebileceğiniz ama bende var olan ne olabilir ki?”, diye kekeler.

“Aaaaa… Ama var, genç Komoberi. Sizde bana ait, sevgi dolu bir kalp var..”, der Kurzgun Kraliçesi’nin yaşlı sesi.

Komoberi’nin gözleri irileşir. “Ama benim kalbim bana lazım ki!”, diye burnunu çeker.

“Senin kalbini isteyemem, genç ve güzel Anthea, her ne kadar lezzetli olsa da..”, diye gözleri kısılmış bir şekilde gülümser ve bu haliyle daha çok yırtıcı bir kuşa.. bir kuzguna benzemektedir. “Korkarım benden aldığın kalbi geri istemek zorundayım!”

Komberi olduğu yerde kalakalır.. Kuzgun Kraliçesi’nin neden bahsettiğini anlar.. ..ve gözleri dolar. “Ama o benim arkadaşım..”, diye bir fısıltı kaçar küçük, kiraz kırmızısı ağzından.

“Benim de minnetli kızlarımdan..”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi, tiz, yaşlı sesiyle. “Ve sen, genç Anthea, onun arkadaşı olduğunda farkında olmadan kalbini de çelmiş oldun. Seressa Wraiven’ın arkadaşı olmamalı..”

“Ama neden? Neden onun arkadaşı olmamalı ki? Zaten kimsesi yok. Kimse onunla arkadaş olmuyor. Kimse onunla konuşmuyor. Kimse ona bir kerecik olsun, ‘Sen nasılsın?’, ‘Bugün keyfin nasıl?’, ‘Neden ağlıyorsun?’, diye sormuyor.. ‘Hadi gel evcilik oynayalım, birbirimizin saçlarını örelim, beraber saçma sapan şeyler yapalım’, demiyor kimse ona.. sırf boyu, rengi, boynuzları, saçları ve kuyruğu yüzünden.. Kimse öyle bir yalnızlığı yaşamamalı..”, diye inler Komoberi. “Halbuki o kadar iyi niyetli, sevgi dolu, anlayışlı ve.. arkadaşlarına sadık bir kız ki..” Kuzgun Kraliçesi, gecenin karanlığında peyda olduğundan beri ilk defa olduğu yerde durur.. ..ve keskin yüz hatları, sesiyle beraber yumuşar.

“Çünkü, genç Komoberi..”, der ipek gibi seril, ürkütücü bir şekilde de dolgun bir sesle. “..Seressa Wraiven’ın gelecekte yapması gereken çok önemli şeylerler var. O.. o benim sesim olacak.. O bu ölümlü dünya’nın kurtuluşu için gerekli olacak bir mücadelede, Kehanetlerimi seslendirecek. Ve Seressa Wraiven birisine bağlanırsa, bu işini yapmasını imkansız kılar, zira her bağlandığını geride bırakması gerekecek bir görev onunkisi. Sence onun kadar içli, sevgi dolu ve arkadaşlarına sağdık bir kız, söz konusu arkadaşlarını bir daha görmeyecek şekilde geride bırakması gerektiğinde ne yaşayacak?”

“Ama.. bunun bir başka çözümü olmalı.. belki bizde ona eşlik edebiliriz..”, diye ağlamaklı bir şekilde ısrar eder Anthea.

“Pek cesursun, sevgili Komoberi. Nevarki senin geleceğin bir başka yönde. O size bağlanırsa, bir daha kopamaz. Şimdiden bağlandı, ve içinde sevgi ve siz olan anılar oluşturmaya başladı. Ve korkarım Seressa Wraiven, bağlandıklarından kopabilecek bir kız değil..”

“Peki hep yalnız mı olacak? Seressa hep yalnız, hep tek başına mı geçirecek hayatını?”, diye hıçkırmaya başlar Komoberi.

“Ona bir ‘per’ ayarladım bile. Onunla mezun olduğunda tanışacak. Arkadaş olunması imkasız, fevkalade huysuz, bir o kadar da geçimsiz bir per.. Onunla beraber, bu dünyanın tekrar Yıl Bir’i yaşamaması için, ölümcül bir yolculuğa çıkacaklar. Sevgili Seressa o yolculukta hiç beklenmedik kişilerle kaşılaşacak. Kendisi gibi yalnız ve acı çeken kişilerle..”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi, gözlerini görünmeyen karanlık ufka dikmiş bir şekilde.

“Beni.. ve Fionn’u unutacak ve bir daha onunla konuşamayacak mıyız?”, diye inler Komoberi.

“Evet.. Nedimem Seressa seni de, arkadaşını da unutacak.. Ancak zamanı geldiğinde, onunla bir daha konuşacaksın, genç Komoberi.”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi hüzünlü bir şekilde gülümseyerek.

“Ne.. ne zaman?”, diye sorar Komoberi.

“Uzun ve uzak bir zaman sonra.. O yapması gerekenleri yaptıktan sonra, genç Komoberi! Ve bir arkadaşa en çok ihtiyacı olduğunda.”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi ve gözlerini ufuktan, önünde durak ruh gibi kıza geri döndürür.

“Bu.. bu kötü bir rüya gibi..”, diye sızlanır Anthea.

“Bu zaten bir rüya, genç Komoberi. Sen Rüya Halkası’nın bir üyesi değil misin? Uyandığında bu rüyayı arkadaşınla paylaşmalı, ve onu ikna etmelisin.. Kuş yuvana iki sapı olan, bir asa bıraktım. Asanın bir sapını sen, diğerini arkadaşın tutacak ve bu şekilde Seressa’ya işaret edip, ‘Unut Beni’, diyeceksiniz.. Üç defa.. Üçüncüsünde sizi görecek ama sizinle yaşadıklarını hatırlamayacak. Sizinle olan anıları onun için asla yaşanmamış olacak. Sizinle asla gülmemiş, oturup konuşmamış, yiyip içmemiş, size asla sarılmamış olacak.. Size gülümeseyecek, ancak bu sadece sizinle ‘arkadaş olabilir miyim’, diye sessizce umut ettiği için olacak, sevgili Komoberi..”, der Kuzgun Kraliçesi ve gitmek için döner.

“Ne zaman.. onunla ne zaman bir daha konuşabileceğim?”, diye dolu gözlerle sorar Komoberi. The Raven Queen, Kuzgun Kraliçesi yerinde durur ve uzun bir süre konuşmaz. Neden sonra başını hafifçe arkasındaki kıza çevirir.

“Bunu senden istemek zorunda kaldığım için tahmin edemeyeceğin kadar üzgünüm, güzel peri Komoberi Anthea. Ancak bana bağlanan minnetli nedimelerime çok ağır sorumluluklar yükler, ve daha da ağır fiyatlar biçerim.. Çünkü daha azı bu dünya için yetersiz kalıyor..” “Ve korkarım Seressa Wraiven, nedimelerim arasında bu faturayı en ağır ödeyecek olanı..” “Onunla bir daha konuşabileceksin, Komoberi Anthea..”

“İki yüz yıl sonra..”

✱ ✱ ✱

Yıl 168 (-7523 yıl)

Bu süre biraz fazla uzun değil mi?”, diye hayretle sorar Kral Barakan, Kronor kalesinin, bitmiş sayılı kulelerinden birisindeki asma balkonda. Yanında duran, ve gözlerini bir türlü kendisinden alamadığı Arael Ashanelath Fae Erunanne Tel’Lóna, ufukta kaybolmaya başlayan kalyona bakar ve sessizce içinden ağlar zira kalyonla beraber annesi Terandel Solace, amcası Sinderel Tranquil ve teyzesi Elorellen Feymist’de ufukta kaybolmak üzeredir..

“Benim yanım artık Kralımın yanı.”, der yumuşak sesiyle ve Barakan kızın bu vakur haline ayrıca hayran kalır; önünde duran kız, deyim yerindeyse, ‘bir gün içerisinde’ hiç bilmediği bir yere getirilmiş, bir kraliçe olarak da olsa, nihayetinde hiç tanımadığı bir adama verilmiş, ailesi olarak bildiği herkes gitmiş ve kız buna rağmen dimdik durmuş ve yeni kocasını, sorumluklarını, ve her ikisiyle gelen yükü sessiz bir ağıtla omuzlamıştır. Barakan, ‘vakur’ dışında bunu tasfir edebilecek başka bir kelime düşünemez. “Hanımefendi—”, diye başlar Barakan.. “—Arael, Kralım. Lóna da olur. Her defasında kendinizi bu kadar zorlamanıza gerek yok.”, der Areal Tel’Lóna gülümseyerek. “Hayır.”, der Barakan. “Korkarım siz benim için her zaman, ve daim olarak Hanımefendi olacak, ve öyle de kalacaksınız. Kendi halkınızdan ve bildiklerinizden yeterince fedakarlık ettiniz. Lütfen size en azından gerekli saygıyı göstermeme müsaade ediniz.” “Ben daha genç bir elfim, Kralım. O kadar saygıyı hak etmiyorum.”, diye cevap verir Arael. “İsterseniz ben size Arael Hanımefendi diye hitap edeyim, siz de ilgili kısmı duymazlıktan gelin.”, diye ciddi bir şekilde önerir Barakan. Arsel Tel’Lóna küçük, çınlayan bir kahkaha atar. “Korkarım sizin zarafetinize uygun bir odamız daha yok. Halk arasından size eşlik edecek nedimeler de ayarlamamız lazım. Umm.. düğüne kadar..”, diye yüzü kızarmış bir şekilde konuşur Barakan. “Nedimeleri hemen ayarlayalım, Kralım. Düğün için yarını, yada ileriki bir tarihi beklemekte fayda görmüyorum. Buraya kraliçeniz olmak için getirildim ve bu ada, halkınız ve krallığınız için yapılacak ve yapılması gerekecek çok işimiz olacak.”, der Lóna. “Ben.. belki biraz beklemek istersiniz, diye düşünmüştüm. Hem buraya.. umm.. hem de bana alışabilmeniz için.”, diye afallar Barakan. “Siz iyi birisi misiniz, Kralım?”, diye aniden ve beklenmedik bir sadelikle sorar elf kızı. “Uhh.. Bilmem. Sanırım. Bu soruyu adamlarıma sorarsanız daha sağlıklı bir cevap almış olursunuz, Hanımefendi.”, diye daha da afallar Barakan. “Ama denizde kaybolduğumuz on üç yıl içerisinde adamlarım asla ayaklanmadılar..” “Bu, adamlarınızın güvenilir ve sadık olduğunu gösterir zira güvenilmez adamlar sadakat nedir bilmezler. Ve sadece iyi bir insanın etrafında güvenilir ve sadık adamlar olur, Kralım ve bu da sizi tanımam için yeterli bir başlangıç benim için. Buraya gelirken sadece bir şeyi umarak geldim, o da verileceğim erkeğin iyi bir insan olmasıydı..”, der Arael. Sonra da yüzü hafif pembeleşmiş bir şekilde ekler; “Ve yakışıklı olması.. Sizde ikisi de var. Arada kalan boşluğu ise zaman, çaba, samimiyet, saygı ve en nihayetinde sevgiyle örüp kapatacağız.” Kral Barakan yanında durmuş ufku seyreden kıza ve sergilediği ona olan inanç ve güvene.. ve onurlu teslimiyete hayret ve hayranlıkla bakakalır. “Siz.. muhteşemsiniz, Hanımefendi!”, diye ünler. Balkona çıkan merdivenlerden abartılı ayak sesleri gelir ve birisinin boğuk sesle öksürdüğü duyulur. “Gel, Malis.”, der Barakan ve merdivenlerin başında Malis el’Vezier belirir. “Kralım, Hanımefendi için de uygun ise, daha inşaatı tam olarak bitmemiş olsa da düğün için gelecek olan halkı kabul edebilecek tek uygun yer ana salon. Kendilerine eşlik edecek nedimeler ise hanımefendinin eşyalarıyla birlikte, kendilerine ayırdığımız, makul denebilecek tek odada bekliyorlar, Efendim.”, der Malis. Barakan bir kaşı kalkmış, baş danışmanına bakar. Malis omuzlarını silkerek cevap verir. “Ödevimi yaptım ve olası ihtimallere göre bazı ön hazırlıklarda bulundum o kadar, Efendim. Hanımefendi için baş nedime olarak yaşını biraz almış ciddi, tuttuğunu koparan, dokuz çocuk doğurmuş haşin bir teyze, diğerleri de birbirinin akrabası olmayan, ağızları sıkı, çalışkan, el işi, dikiş, nakış, ve başka.. bayanlara özel şeylerden anladıklarını söyleyen dört adet genç kız. Bunun dışında tek görevleri Hanımefendiyi korumak olan vardiyalı on altı adam. Bir kaç gün içerisinde her ikisi içinde sorumluluk ve güvenlik protokolleri hazırlamış olurum.” “Biraz abartmadın mı, el’Vi?”, diye sorar Barakan. “Elimde ayırabileceğim daha fazla adam olsaydı, onları da bu işe verirdim, Efendim. Güvenliğin asla şakası olmaz.”, diye cevap verir el’Vi, ve kralına manalı bir şekilde bakar. Barakan pes etmiş bir şekilde burnundan solur. “Herkese haber verilsin o zaman. Altıncı saatte düğün var!” Malis başıyla onaylar ve geldiği merdivenlerden tekrar iner. Barakan, Malis ile arasındaki konuşmayı, derin, masmavi gözlerinde ‘gülümseyen’ bir ifadeyle seyreden kıza geri döner. “Baş Danışmanımın kusuruna kalmayın, Hanımefendi. Kendisi biraz..”, der Barakan. “..geçmişi olan birisi?”, diye bitirir elf kız. Barakan bu sefer de kızın gözlem kapasitesine hayret eder. “Ve geçmiş günahlarını telafi etmek için çabayan bir adam..”, diye ekler Arael. “Böyle birinin size sadakat göstermiş olması bile sizin hakkınızda önemli ipuçları veriyor, Kralım.” “Umuyorum ki bunlar olumlu ipuçlarıdır.”, diye cevap verir Barakan. Ufukta aradığı her ne idiyse belli ki artık gitmiş, ve geri de gelmeyecektir. Arael Tel’Lóna kralına, ve kralının en başta kendisine yönelttiği soruya döner. “İki yüz yıl sonra benim çocuklarım da ya gri sahillere göçmüş, yada birbirimizin ortak kanıyla hala yaşıyor ve büyümüş olacaklar. O zaman annemi, dayımı ve teyzemi ziyaret edebileceğim ve bu şekilde, kurdukları medeniyetleri ve size verdikleri bağlılık sözlerini sınaya bileceğim..”, der, yumuşak ve solgun bir sesle. Kral Barakan öylece, hiç tanımadı bu fevkalade güzel, zarif ve alımlı kıza bakar. Birkaç defa bir şeyler söylemek için yeltenir, ancak kızın, çağrıştırdığı derin denizlerin mavisi gözlerinde kaybolur, ve ağzından hiç bir ses çıkmaz. Arael Tel’Lóna ise onun aklından geçenlere tercüman olur gibi yavaşça kralına uzanır. İnce, uzun parmaklarını, anca dokunur bir şekilde onun yüzünde, saçlarında.. ve bıyıklarında gezdirir.. ..ona doğru ağır, tedirgin, utangaç ve ürkek bir adım atar.. ..ve sarılır. Kalenin bir yerlerinden cırtlak, kulak gıcırdatan bir boru sesi yankılanır.. Ardından, “DUYDUK DUYMADIK DEMEYİN!”, diye bağıran çığırtkanın gür sesi duyulur. “KRALIMIZ BARAKAN HEAVENSWİLL VE MUHTEREM VE SAYGIDEĞER PRENSES ARAEL TELONA’NIN MUTLU BERABERLİĞİ İÇİN BÜTÜN HALKI DÜĞÜNE ŞAHİTLİK ETMEK İÇİN KRONOR KALESİNE DAVETLİDİR. DUYDUK DUYMADIK DEMEYİN..“Herkes kendi yemeğini kendisi mi getirecek?”, diye birisinin bağırdığı duyulur. “Evet. Kale mutfağı daha tamamlanmadı! Gider borularında sorun çıktı. Ortak masa kurulacak. Gelirken kendi bardak, tabak ve taburelerinizi de getirin!” Cırtlak, kulak acıtan boru tekrar çığlık atar.. “Şu boruyu gerçekten değiştirmemiz lazım!”, diye mırıldanır Kral Barakan Heavenswill. Sonra.. Ağır hareketlerle.. Başını çenesine dayamış, koyu kırmızı-kestane saçlı, derin denizlere ait masmavi gözlü, bilmediği, ancak yağmur sonrası ormanların taze, hayat dolu ve serin bir şeylerin kokusunu çağrıştıran kızı kollarına alır.. ..ve bu şekilde Adalar Krallığı Tarihi, binlerce yıl sürecek yeni bir geleceğe doğru ilk adımlarını atmaya başlar.

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l 7569 (-20 yıl)

Hazır mısın?”, diye boğuk bir sesle sorar Fearghas Fionnghal, yanında sessizce ağlayan, ruh gibi kıza. Komoberi Anthea’dan hıçkırıklar dışında bir şey duyulmaz.

Melshieve Akademisi’nin arkasındaki yoğun korulukta, çalıların arasına sinmiş ikili, kendi kendine mutlu bir şarkı mırıldanarak yaklaşan sesin sahibini beklemektedirler. “Hadi, Beri. Geliyor..”, diye nazikçe yanındaki kızın sırtını sıvazlar, mor ve koyu mavi tenli genç adam. “Ta.. tamam.. hazırım..”, der, en sonunda burnunu çekerek, yeşil, tüleri saçlı ince kız. Seressa Wraiven, up uzun boyu, kömür karası vücudu, bugün özellikle imtina gösterilerek örülmüş uzun, pembe saçları ve yeni bir fırfılı-dantelli-kurdelalı mini elbisesi ve aynı renkte bir omuz çantasıyla ağaçların arasında belirir. “Üç deyince.”, der Fearghas, sımsıkı bir şekilde tuttuğu iki saplı sihirli asayı. Asanın diğer sapını tutan Komoberi ise sadece başını sallayabilir.. “Bir..”, der Fearghas ve pembeler içindeki kız biraz daha yaklaşır. “İki..”, diye mırıldanır sessizce ve uzun, pembe saçları peşinden kovalayan kız, daha da yaklaşır. “O bunu hak etmiyor.”, diye inler Komoberi. “Üç!”, der Fearghas.. Ve.. “Unut beni.“, diye fısıldar. “Unut beni..“, diye inler Komoberi..Unut beni.“, diye boğuk bir sesle tekrarlar Fearghas.Unut beni..“, diye yine hıçkırmaya başlar Komoberi..Unut beni.“, diye tıslar Fearghas ve ardından “Lanet olsun sana Kuzgun!”, diye vahşice küfreder. “Unut beni..“, diye olduğu yerde yığılıp kalır Komoberi.. Seressa Wraiven, mutlu şarkısını mırıldanarak, ikilinin az ilerisinden geçer.. ..ve gözden kaybolur. “Nereye gidiyor? Mağaraya mı gidiyor yoksa?”, diye ağlayarak sorar Komoberi. “Emin değilim. Sanırım.. Neden mağaraya gitsin ki?”, diye hayretle merak eder Fearghas. İkisi de kalkar ve sessizce kızı takip ederler. Ve kız onları gerçekten gizli mağaraya götürür ve bunu defalarca yapmış gibi yoğun çalılıkların arasında kaybolmuş oyuktan içeri girer. “Sen git bak.”, der Fearghas. “Benim fark edilmeden içeri girmem olası değil.” Komoberi başıyla onaylar ve bir anda kaybolur.. ..ve ince, ruh gibi kızın yerinde, üstünde krem renkli çizgileri olan, uzun, pofuduk kuyruklu, koyu kahve bir fare sincabı belirir! Sincap, Fearghas’a doğru bir-iki cızırık, çırpı sesi çıkartır, sonra oyuktan içeri girer. “Bir gün şu kıza sincapça söylediği o çırçır sesleri anlamadığımı söylemeliyim..”, diye mırıldanır genç adam. Aradan birkaç dakika geçer ve Komoberi tekrar belirir. “Öylece oturmuş!”, der dolu gözlerle. “Öylece kendi başına oturmuş, bizimle beraberken yaptığı gibi ağır, abartılı hareketlerle rosemint çayını içiyor..” Fearghas çarpılmış gibi kalakalır yerinde. Kendisini bildi bileli görünürde duyguları olan biri olmamıştır. Ancak aşağıda, tek başına çayını hüpleten kızın davranışları onda bir şeylerin kırılmasına sebep olur. “Ben.. ben bir daha gelmek istemiyorum bu mağaraya..”, der zorlukla yutkunarak. “Bende..”, diye hıçkırıklara boğulur hemen yanında Komoberi.

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Seressa Wraiven bir saat daha durur gizli mağarada.

Güneş batmaya meylettiğinde mutlu şarkısını mırıldana söyleye çıkar mağaradan ve Pembe Bahçesi’ne doğru, hasta floksasını kontrol etmek ve güllerini sulamak için yollanır. Ancak olduğu sakar kız gibi ayağı birden ağaç köklerinden birine takılır ve yüzü koyun yere kapaklanır. Kız, uzun bir süre fırfırlı-dantelli eteği gökyüzüne bakacak şekilde olduğu yerde durur. Neden sonra, sessiz, mekanik hareketlerle doğrulur, üstüne başına bulaşmış toz-toprak ve kuru yaprakları temizler. Yere saçılmış çantasını alır ve dağılmış kitaplarını toplamaya başlar. Ortadan neredeyse ikiye ayrılmış kitaplarından sonuncusunu da alıp çantasına yerleştirirken, kitabın sayfaları arasından bir şey salınarak düşer yere. Seressa yavaşça eğilir, düşen şeyi uzun, ince, zarif, kömür karası parmaklarıyla alır ve uzun bir süre öylece bakar ona.. Yüzünde garip, hüzünlü, kayıp, aklı karışmış bir ifade belirir ve nedense gözleri dolar. “Kimsin sen acaba, güzel kız?”, diye mırıldanır, elindeki resme bakarak..

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Kuzgun Kraliçesinin minnetli nedimesi Seressa Wraiven, Melshieve Akademi’sinden mezun oluncaya kadar her gün o mağaraya, elinde pembe çiçek desenli çaydanlığı ile gelir, sakil bir sessizlik içerisinde saatlerce tek başına rosemint çayını hüpletir..

Kayıp üç G.K.A.H.T. üyesinden ikisi günler sonra, pis, çamur ve korku içinde akademi koruluğundan, saklandıkları yerden çıkıp gelirler. Kayıp son üye bulunamaz ve kimse ondan haber alamaz. Komoberi Anthea o günden sonra bir daha disipline gitmez.. ..ve kaldığı odada, akademiye ilk geldiğinde The Hide ‘n Seekers’a katılmak için ‘çaldığı’ pembe gülü imtina ile büyütür. Yıllar sonra, Dreamwoods’a geri döndüğünde, içinde yüzlerce floksa olan, kendi Pembe Bahçesini kurar. Fearghas Fionnghal ise iki yıl daha Last Man Standing Society‘de kendi grubunu başarıya götürür ve birisinden gördüğü taktikleri değerlendirerek ‘Mübah’ turnuvalarında şampiyon olur ancak aynı turnuvaya bir daha katılmaz. Aynı yıl atılmadan 96. disiplin cezasını tamamlar ve akademi tarihinde bir rekor kırar. Bu rekoru iki yıl sonra sadece bir kişi ve ezici bir farkla geçecektir. 208 disiplin cezası ile Arcantonic Palecog adında bir cüce, atılmadan en çok disiplin cezası gören kişi olarak Melshieve Akademesi tarihine geçecektir.. Ancak akademide, açık yada gizli ne kadar grup, klüp, dernek ve topluluk üyesi varsa, hepsinin imzalı kartlarını da toplamış olacaktır.. Seressa Wraiven ise akademide geçirdiği mühlet zarfında sadece bir defa disipline gönderilecektir; mezuniyet töreni esnasında, rektörün kendisi, toplanmış profesörler, öğrenmenler, akademist ve pratisyenler, ve tüm öğrenci ve çalışanların gözü önünde bir çocuğu mezuniyet törneninin gerçekleştiği meydanın bir ucundan diğerine kadar tokatlayarak harcayacaktır. Çocuğa neden saldırdığı hiçbir zaman tam olarak anlaşılmaz, ancak ve teknik olarak çoktan mezun olduğu için, disiplin cezası da tutmaz..


dungeons and dragons tarihçe

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part VI)

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part VI)

Timeline:

The Kingdom of Isles, Adalar Krallığı’nın tarihi ve ana kıtayı fethi üzerine kısa bir bakış.

Kesin tarihler, o günkü koşullar dolayısıyla kusurlu olabilir. Bilinen tek şey, krallığın Yıl 1’den sonra kurulan ilk kalıcı medeniyetlerden biri olduğu.

Bu tarihin başlangıcı, Yıl 1‘den sonra yer alır.

 

l 7569 (-20 yıl)

Fearghas Fionnghal önünde durmuş son on beş dakikadır non-stop cırcır eden, omuz hizası kısa esmer ve kıvırcık saçlı kıza kayık gözlerle bakmaktadır. Gerçekte Fearghas, en eski arkadaşı olan Komoberi Anthea dışında kimseyle oturup konuşan biri değildir ve olağan, mor ile koyu mavi teni, kızıla çalan gözleri ve boynuzlu oluşu yeterli değilmiş gibi bunları bir de mütemadi çatık kaşlarla destekler hali etrafındakilere gerekli mesajı verirken, nedense bu kızın üzerindeki etkisi kuru bezelyenin duvardan sekmesinden pek de farklı değildir.

Önünde ısrarla, yada inatla konuşan, Fearghas hangisi olduğundan pek emin değildir, çünkü her ne kadar kıvırcık esmer saçları, çok hafif ‘güneşlenmiş’ teni, ışığa göre ela ile kahve arası değişen gözleri ve Fearghas’ın göğsüne ancak uzanırsa yetişebilecek boyuyla bu kız ‘şirin’ yada ‘güzel’ olsa da, tam bir kaçıktır! Ve belli ki biraz da aptaldır.   Yani.. Fearghas’ın, mevcut surat ifadesiyle verdiği mesaj oldukça açık ve nettir;    

“SUS.”

ve

“GİT.”

 

“LÜTFEN!”

    Ama ya kızın derisi kalındır, yada kafası..   L.M.S.S. —Last Man Standing Society turnuvalarının finali yaklaşmaktadır. Jackson Ramdirk, Fearghas’ın da dahil olduğu beş kişilik turnuva grubunun lideri, kollarını göğsüne bağlamış, son derece ciddi bir ifadeyle Krimsanya ‘Mandolion’ Klara’nın söylediği her kelimeyi, tekil bir şekilde dinliyor gibidir. Onun arkasında, uzun boylu, sırtını duvara vermiş genç Graig ‘Shot’ Harper, akademide yeni çıkmaya başlayan ‘Resimli Roman’lardan birisini okumaktadır. ‘Yuvarlanmak’ için sessizce bahane bekleyen grubun son üyesi ise, Dido Bam’dir ve bugüne kadar onun homurtu yada ‘huh’lamaları dışında bir şey söylediği pek duyulmamıştır ve şu anki hali ile turnuvadaki hali gerçekte tamamen aynıdır; olduğu yerde bir kaya gibi durmak ve kendisine doğru gelen şeyleri durdurmak. Ve ortamda yanlışlıkla bir eğim varsa, söz konusu eğim istikametinde yuvarlanıp, önüne çıkan her şeyi ezmek!   “.. Sen beni dinliyor musun, Ghas? Hayır, sen beni dinlemiyorsun bile, Ghas! Ben burada önemli bir şeyler anlatıyorum ve sen oralı bile değilsin, Ghas. Alınmamak için kendimi çok zorluyorum ama senin de biraz çaba göstermen gerekiyor, Ghas. Turnuva finaline dört gün kaldı ve bu yetmiyormuş gibi ders finalleriyle çakışıyor, Ghas. Sen ve o küçük arkadaşın Komono Antea ise disiplin odasındasınız devamlı, Ghas. Derslerden atılmalarınız bir efsane oldu, Ghas. Dersleri finallerde veremezsen, turnuvadan da eleneceğini hatırlatmama gerek var mı, Ghas? Kendini düşünmüyorsan bizi, takım arkadaşlarını düşün, Ghas! Bizi de düşünmüyorsan Komono Antea’yi düşün, Ghas. ..”   Burada iki hususa değinilmesi gerektiği düşünülebilir; Birincisi, Krimsanya ‘Mandolion’ Klara’nın söylediği hiçbir şey, kendisinin bir tekrarı olmadığı.. Diğeri ise Fearghas Fionngal’ın gerçekte duyduğu:   BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLA BLABLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas? BLABLA BLA BLABLABLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLA BLABLABLA Ghas.. BLABLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLA BLABLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas? BLABLA BLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLA Ghas!.. BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLA BLABL Ghas. BLABLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas? BLABLA  BLABLABLABLABLA BLA Ghas. BLABLA BLABLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas. BLABLA BLA BLABLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas!! BLABLA BLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLA Ghas.. BLABLA BLABLABLABLABLA BLABLA BLABLABLA Ghas.”   Fearghas, nedense midesinde bir gaz sancısının oluştuğunu hisseder.   En sonunda duruma Jackson müdahale eder. “Eminim, Ghal söylediklerini imtina ile dikkate alacaktır, Dolion. Öyle değil mi, Ghal?”, der genç adam karizmatik sesiyle ve Fearghas’a ‘sus ve hiçbir şey söyleme’, der gibi başını sallar. “Gel, güzelim. Boğazın kurumuştur. Sana Sparducks’dan zencefil çayı ısmarlayayım.”, der ve kaşları çatılı kaçık kızı nazikçe kolundan tutar ve götürür. Graig başını resimli romandan kaldırır ve Fearghas’a sırıtır. “Bu sefer ucuz atlattın, Ghal. Bence kız senden hoşlanıyor.”, diye kıkırdar. “Bence sus, ve git, Graig..”, der Fearghas, yüzünde fırtına gibi bir ifadeyle. Graig hiçbir şekilde Fearghas’ın söylediklerinden alınmaz. Sadece daha da sırıtır, başıyla Dido’ya ‘gel’ yapar ve ikisi de Jackson ve Klara’nın peşinden giderler..   Neden sonra Fearghas, kendi kendine homurdanır. “Komono Antea, nedir kızım yaa! Vodgar çay markası mı?”      

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Fearghas Fionnghal burnundan soluyarak ve kendi kişisel yağmur bulutuyla dalar akademinin erkek öğrenci yurdundaki odasına.

Fearghas yalnız olmayı seven biridir ve başta odasını kimseyle paylaşmak niyetinde değilken, akademinin kendisine böyle bir lüksü tanıması için ne gerekli, nede geçerli bir sebep görmemiş ve odasını Fransis Timids adında ufak tefek, fare gibi bir çocukla paylaşmak durumunda bırakmıştır. Neyse ki Fransis, benzediği fare gibi sessiz ve tam anlamıyla (1) bir kitap kurdudur, (2) bir inektir, (3) bir ‘yer altı’ oyun hastasıdır —ki bu da, kendisi gibi ineklerin, ‘gizli’ olduğunu ve kimsenin haberdar olmadığını sandıkları, yemekhane ile çamaşırhane arasında, uğranılmayan kuytu bir odaya, sinsi ve dramatik hareketlerle gidip, saatlerce fantazi-rol oyunları oynadığı anlamına gelmesiydi. Fearghas’ın bundan haberdar olmasının tek sebebi de, pek uyuz olduğu ve amcası dolayısıyla meşhur olan Arcantonic Palecog adındaki cüce kızdan dolayıdır. Kız, kendisinden imza kopardığı o günden sonra, hiç işi yokmuş gibi arada bir ve olur olmaz yerlerde kendisini bulup tek yönlü muhabbet edip gitmek gibi yapışkan bir huy edinmiştir. O muhabbetler esnasında, kendisinin iri kaslı, iri göğüslü, iri kalçalı sarışın bir ‘bomba’ barbar kızı oynattığını ve karşısına çıkan canavarları nasıl iri kılıcıyla doğradığını, attığı istatistiksel olarak imkansız 20’li zarlar da dahil olmak üzere, hiçbir ayrıntıdan fedakarlık etmeksizin anlatmıştı!   Evet. Fearghas Fionnghal, havasından mıdır, suyundan mı bilinmez ama, Melshieve Akademisine geldiği andan itibaren ne kadar cins ve rahatsız tip varsa, kendisine çekmeye başlamıştır!   “Merhaba Bay Fionnghal”, diye cızıl, fısıltı gibi bir ses gelir odanın bir köşesinden.   “Merhaba Fransis.”, diye cevap verir Fearghal ve elindeki kitapları rastgele ve ‘neresi uygunsa’ya göre sağa sola bırakır. “46”, der Fransis aynı fısıltılı sesiyle. “46 ne?”, diye sorar Fearghas. “Okula geldiğinden beri bugün 46. defa disipline gönderildin.”   Fearghas kaşlarını çatar. ’46 mı? Yuh!’, diye geçirirken, bir yandan da Fransis’in söylediği şeyi sanki gülerek söylüyormuş gibi bir izlenime kapılır.. ..ve kaşlarını biraz daha çatar.   “Sen nereden biliyorsun kaç defa disipline gönderildiğimi? Bazı derslerimiz ortak bile değil.”, diye haşin bir şekilde sorar Fearghas. “Adına açık bir bahis var; akademiden atılmadan 50’yi tamamlayacak ve 50’yi tamamlayamadan atılacak, diye. Bir de kapalı bahis var; Toplam 62 defa disipline gideceğin üzerine oynanıyor genel olarak ama ben 96’ya tamamlayacağın üzerine paramı yatırdım. Atılmadan bunu başarabilirsen, buradan yüklü bir parayla mezun olmuş olacağım!”, der Timids ve bu, Fearghas’ın ondan duyduğu en uzun konuşmadır. “Benim bundan bir şey kazanma ihtimalim var mı?”, diye sorar Fearghas ekşi bir ifadeyle. “Tabii.. Ancak kendi adına bahse giremezsin. Bununla beraber, ben senin adına girebilirim.. Sen atılmadan 96’ya tamamla, ben de senin yüklü bir parayla mezun olmanı sağlayayım.”, der fare gibi fısıldayarak konuşur, genç Fransis.   ‘Oha! Nasıl bir sahtekarlıktır bu?’, diye geçirir içinden Fearghas.   Buna rağmen, “Kabul.”, der Fransis’e ve daha geç olmadan ‘gerçek gizli’ mağarasına gitmek için hazırlanırken, Fransis tekrar fısldar. “Birileri sana bir paket bıraktı Fearghas. Sanıyorum niyetleri görünmeden bunu yapmaktı. Varlığımı farketmediler bile. Niyetlerinin pek de iyi olduğunu sanmıyorum ama. Odayı dağıtmakla ilgili aralarında tartıştılar. Ancak en son turnuvada yaptıklarından sonra sanırım tırstılar. Paketi bırakıp tüydüler.” Fearghas kaşlarını tekrar çatar. “Paket nerede?”, diye sorar. “Dramatik bir şekilde yastığının altına sokuşturdular. Sanıyorum senin onu yattıktan sonra fark etmeni ve ne olduğunu anlamak için kalkmanı ve bu şekilde uykunu kaçırtıp korkutmayı umdular.” Fearghas ‘fırk’lar. Sonra da yatağına yönelir ve yastığı kaldırıp altında duran uzun, sarı zarfı temkinli bir şekilde alır ve benzer bir temkinle açar..      

✱ ✱ ✱

     

Fearghas gizli mağaraya geldiğinde güneş çoktan batma eğilimindedir ve genç adam her nasılsa o günü tamamen harcanmış hisseder. Bu harcanmışlık onda mağarasında ‘geceleme’ kararı almasına kadar götürür.. nevarki aşağı indiğinde Komoberi’yi, Seressa Wraiven ile, zemin sehpasının başında oturmuş, fevkalade süslü bir çaydanlık, ve aynı setin parçası olan tabaklar, fincanlar, çatal ve bıçaklarla bulur. İkisi de tabaklarındaki enfes görünümlü, çikolatalı ve kremalı pasta dilimlerini yerken, fincanlarından da muhtemelen içinde çay olduğunu tahmin ettiği o pis kokulu kurutulmuş yapraktan içmektedirler..

Genç adamın dikkatini gerçekte çeken şey, her iki kızında fincan ve çatallarını, serçe parmakları ayrık duracak şekilde ve abartılı hareketlerle kullanmalarıdır. Fearghas, ‘iki dakikalığına içeri gidip gelmiş’ gibi hiçbir şey söylemeden kendisi de sehpanın yanına kurulur.   Komoberi’nin yüzü biraz pembedir. Kız ya utanmıştır, yada utanmasına rağmen yinede istediği için yaptığı bir şeyi yapmaktadır.. Seressa, Fearghas’ı muhteşem bir gülümsemeyle karşılar.   “Merhaba Fearghas Fionnghal. Çay? Zencefil? Nane? Pasta?”, der mutlu bir ifadeyle. “Hayır. Evet. Kesinlikle hayır. Tabii ki..”, diye cevap verir Fearghas   Seressa abartılı hareketlerle kremalı çikolatalı pastadan bir dilim keser, süslü tabaklardan birine, büyük bir zarafetle ve dilimin devrilmeyeceği bir şekilde yerleştirir ve onu Fearghas’ın önüne koyar. Sonra çaydanlıktan, içi boş, temiz, süslü fincanlardan birine sıcak su döker, içine fevkalade ince kıyılmış zencefil halkalarından iki tane atar, fincanın kenarına yarım bir dilim limon yerleştirir ve onu da genç adama sunar.   Bu şekilde üçü de bir süre sessizce.. ve biraz da garip şekilde keklerini yerken sıcak içeceklerinden yudumlarlar.   “Ummm.. Kek harika. Zencefilli çayda.”, der Fearghas en sonunda. “Teşekkür ederim.”, diye nezaketle cevap verir Seressa. “Uhh.. Ne yapıyoruz tam olarak böyle?”, diye sorar en sonunda Fearghas. “Komoberi ile muhabbet ediyorduk buraya gelirken. Laf lafı açtı ve kendisinin bu güne kadar hiç evcilik oynamadığını öğrendim. Bakın şu işe ki bende hiç oynamışım. Sanıyorum bu oyun bizim yaşımıza pek uygun bir oyun değil. Ancak gerekli yaş aralığını tamamen kaçırmadan ikimizde denemeye karar verdik.”, der fevkalade uzun, bir o kadarda kara kız, mutlu bir şekilde.   Fearghas’ın, içmekte olduğu zencefilli çay bir anda burnundan fışkırır!   “Pardon.. Boğazıma kaçtı sanırım..”, der sakince ve elini, yüzünü ve üstünü, sehpanın üzerinde duran desenli mendillerden biriyle siler.   Ve bir süre daha sessizlik içerisinde çaylarını yudumlarlar.   Neden sonra Fearghas cebinden sarı bir zarf çıkartır ve onu Komoberi’nin önüne bırakır. “Nedir bu?”, diye sorar Komoberi, zarfa bakarak. “Bende aynısını size soracaktım, genç bayan..”, der Fearghas. Komoberi, eski arkadaşını, ince, koyu yeşil-kahve karışımı kaşlarından bir tanesi kalkmış bir şekilde süzer, sonra zarfı alıp açar ve içindekileri çıkartır.. ..ve öylece kalakalır.   “Açıklamak ister misiniz, Komoberi hanım?”, der Fearghas, ancak ağzı gülmemek için hafif büzüşmüş gibidir. “Ne var? Nedir onlar güzel kız?”, diye merakla sorar Seressa. Komoberi ise küçük dilini yutmuş, kıpkırmızı olmuş bir suratla hala zarfın içinden çıkardığı kağıtlara bakmaktadır.  
Zarfın İçindekiler (görmek için tıklayın)
   
  “A aaaa..!”, diye ünler en sonunda Komoberi. “Nerden buldun bunları?” “Ayyy.. çok şirinler, kız. Bakabilir miyim?”, diye erimiş bir şekilde ellerini çırpar Seressa. “Birileri nezaket gösterip, ben yokken odama girmiş ve bunları yastığımın altına bırakmışlar.. bir notla.”, der Fearghas. “Not mu? Ne yazmışlar?”, diye omuzları çökmüş bir şekilde sorar ruh gibi kız. “Eveeeet..”, der Fearghas ve kırış kırış olmuş bir papirüs daha çıkartır cebinden. Papirüs, birinci hamurdan yapılmadır ve üstünde, blok harflerle tehditkar ifadeler, kurukafa eşliğinde yazılmıştır;  

BAY FEARGHAS FIONNGHAL.

SINIFLARDA VE GENEL OLARAK OKULDA GÖSTERMİŞ OLDUĞUNUZ DAVRANIŞ BOZUKLUĞUNUZ DOLAYISIYLA MÜTEMADİYEN DİSİPLİN CEZASI GÖRÜYOR OLMANIZ, UMUYORUZ Kİ SİZİN İVEDİLİKLE  BU MUHTEŞEM AKADEMİDEN ATILMANIZA SEBEP OLUR.

NEVARKİ KENDİNİZLE BERABER, SAYGIDEĞER KOMOBERİ ANTHEA HANIMEFENDİ’NİN DE YANMASINA SEBEP OLUYORSUNUZ. BU SİZE VERECEĞİMİZ TEK UYARIDIR.

BUNDAN SONRA SAYGIDEĞER KOMOBERİ HANIMEFENDİ’NİN BAŞINA AÇACAĞINIZ SIKINTILARDAN DOLAYI SİZİN BAŞINIZA GELEBİLECEKLERDEN SİZ SORUMLU OLACAKSINIZ.

SENDEN KORKMUYORUZ!

 

UYARILDINIZ!

G.K.A.H.T. GİZLİ KOMOBERİ ANTHEA HAYRANLARI TOPLULUĞU ÜYELERİ

  Komoberi tamamen dilini yutar. Notu, ruhu çekilmiş bir şekilde kalakalmış kızın omzunun üstünden okuyan Seressa ise “A aaaa..!”, diye hayretle ünler.   “Ben.. ben ne diyeceğimi bilmiyorum, Fionn.. Bana hayranlarım olduğunu söylediğinde takıldığını sanıyordum. Şuna bak yaa.. Bu birinci hamur kağıt. Bir de kurukafa ile watermark’lamışlar! Burada ciddi bir emek var!”, diye inler kızcağız. “Beri.. bugüne kadar ne zaman seninle dalga geçip sana takıldım? Bununla beraber, sanıyorum ki bunların birkaçının ortadan ‘kaybolma’ zamanı geldi!”, der Fearghas burnundan soluyarak. “A aaaa..!”, diye yine ünler Seressa.HAYIR, FIONN, LÜTFEN.. Sakın kimseye bir şey yapma. Bir grup aptal yüzünden okuldan atılmaya değmez. Lütfen bir şey yapma..”, diye ağlamaklı bir şekilde yalvarır ruh gibi kız. Fionnghal uzun bir süre sessizce Komoberi’yi süzer. Neden sonra, “Peki.”, der. “Ama sadece bu konuda her hangi birisinin söyleyecek herhangi bir sözü olacaksa, bunun sen olmandan dolayı sesimi çıkarmıyorum. Bununla beraber, daha önce bu konuda söylediklerim hala geçerli; uzaktan hayran oldukları sürece sorun çıkarmam.” “A aaaa..!”, diye üçüncü kere ünler Seressa. “Şapşal çocuklar!”, diye ağlamaklı bir şekilde hışmeder Komoberi, resimleri aldığı gibi topak haline getirir ve mağaranın uzak bir köşesine fırlatır. Sonra da soğumuş çayını diker kafasına ve eşyalarını toplayıp, “Ben gidiyorum. Canım sıkıldı.”, der ve mağarının tüneline doğru yönelir, kısa bir süre sonra da tamamen gitmiştir. “Hmmm.. niyetim onu böyle üzmek değildi.”, der Fearghas, kendi canı da sıkılmış bir şekilde. “Bu günüm öldü zaten. Ben kütüphaneye de gideceğim sanırım. Yazmaya başladığım ‘FARKLI TARİHLER; ADALAR KRALLIĞI TARİHİ‘ kitabım için bazı yer, isim ve tarihleri tekrar gözden geçirmem gerekiyor.” “İstersen bende gelebilirim.”, diye önerir Seressa. “Kütüphanedeki kategorileme sistemini çok iyi bildiğim gibi, fevkalade hızlı, 1024wpm okumam var!” “Sen bilirsin.”, der Fearghas ve ortalığı toplamaya başlar. Seressa’da ona yardım eder. Ancak topladıkları arasında, Komoberi’nin kırıştırıp bir kenara attığı kuru ve sulu boya ile yapılmış resimler de vardır. “Bunları almamda bir sakınca var mı? Çok şirinler!”, diye merakla sorar kız. Fearghas omuzlarını silker. “Beri attığına göre alabilirsin, sanırım.”, diye cevap verir. Seressa topak halindeki resimleri alır, itina ile onları açar ve düzeltir, kendi çantasından çıkardığı kalın bir kitabın orta sayfaları arasına yerleştirir ve kitabı tekrar çantasına koyar. Sonra bir süre sessizce Fearghas’a bakar. “Bunların hepsi birer anı. Bunu biliyorsunuz değil mi, Fearghas Fiongal?”, der sessizce. Fearghas işinden başını kaldırıp up uzun boylu, kapkara tenli kıza bakar. “Ne gibi?”, diye sorar.   “Bu akademide yaşadıklarımız.. Doğrusuyla, yanlışıyla, ne kadar anlamsız, yada saçma sapan gibi gelse de, nihayetinde bunların hepsi, bizleri biz yapacak olan anıları oluşturacaklar. Bunlar olmadığında, kimliğimizin içi boş kalacak ve benliğimizden olmuş olacağız.”, der kız aynı kısık sesle. Fearghas’ın bir kaşı kalkar. “Biliyorum, beni burada, aranızda gerçekte çok da istememiştiniz ve bende olduğum sakar kız gibi lambır lumbur daldım aranıza ve kendimi sizlere zorla kabul ettirdim.”, der kız. “Buradasın çünkü seni biz davet ettik, Seressa.”, der Fearghas, ama kızın nereye varmaya çalıştığını pek anlayamaz. “Lütfen. İkimizde sizin bana nezaket gösterdiğinizi biliyoruz. Nihayetinde o gün bana, ‘git’ demiş olsaydınız, bu beni üzerdi, ama gitmiş de olurdum. Beni aranıza aldınız, benimle muhabbet ettiniz, beraber Mübah oynadık, pasta yeyip çay içtik, tarih okuyup ders çalıştık.. Bana.. bana bir insanın, diğer bir insana davranması gerektiği gibi davrandınız. Bana.. arkadaşınızmışım gibi tahammül ettiniz. Bütün bunlardan ötürü sana ve sevigili Komoberi’ye müteşekkirim ve bunların hepsi, beni ben yapan birer anım olarak kalacaklar.”, der kız gülümseyerek.. ..ve dolu gözlerle.   Fearghas hayretle kıza bakar.   “Bu söylediklerine verebileceğim o kadar çok cevap var ki.. Ama hepsi de bir şekilde itiraz babında olacak, bu yüzden sadece, ‘bi şey değil’, demeyi tercih ediyorum. Ben kimseyi seven biri değilim. Huysuz adamın tekiyim çünkü. Ama burada bizimle olmandan dolayı da müteşekkirim, Seressa. Komoberi’ye gelirsek, seni gerçekten çok seviyor.. Kuyruğunun ise hastası.. Hadi gidelim. Bu günü yeterince ‘hiçbir şey’ yapmayarak geçirdim zaten.”, der Fearghas ve kızla beraber mağaradan ayrılır.        

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      Yıl 168 (-7523 yıl)

Ayrılınca nereye gitmeyi düşünüyorsunuz, Hanımım?”, diye sorar Kral Barakan. “Dahası, bu gerçekten gerekli mi? Evet, burası hali hazırda inşaat halinde ve ‘oturulabilir’ duruma gelmesi için daha yapılacak çok işi var, ancak Arael Hanımefendi sizleri özlemeyecek mi?”

“Arael Tel’Lóna, artık sizin sorumluğunuzda, Kral Barakan. Tıpkı sizin de onun sorumluluğunuzda olacağınız gibi.”, diye cevap verir Terandel Solace. “Gidişimiz ise bir zorunluluk. Kızımın, ve ikinizden olacak nesillerin geleceği için.. Krallığınız için bir zorunluluk. Gideceğimiz yerlerde kuracağımız medeniyetlerle, sizlerin gelişinizi bekliyor olacağız. Bu, muhtemelen sizin hayatınız da göreceğiniz bir şey olmayacak ve bize yetişmeniz belkide yüzlerce yıl sürecek. Ancak torunlarınızın torunları geldiğinde, onları krallığınızın birer tebaası olarak karşılıyor olacağız. Zamanı gelince kızım, Arael Tel’Lóna size her şeyi anlatacak. Tıpkı sizlerin, imkansız bir zamandan buraya gelmiş olmanızın bir tesadüf olmadığı gibi, ona verilmiş görevlerden birisi de bu; nesiller boyu gelecek olan çocuklarına, onların çocuklarına ve onların torunlarına bu bilgileri aktarmak. Çocuklarınız ve torunlarınız tarihi yüz yıllarca birinci elden duyacak ve öğrenecekler.” “Bu.. bu çok büyük, hüzünlü.. ve yalnız bir sorumluluk, Hanımım.”, der Barakan kahrolmuş bir sesle.   “Size kızımı verirken, gerçekte ne verdiğimi, zamanla çok daha iyi anlayacaksınız ve bu sizi daha iyi bir kral, ama bundan çok daha büyük bir sevgili yapacak. Ona da ‘hayatın’ ve bir ‘sevgilinin’ kıymetini öğretecek.”, der Terandel, solgun bir ifadeyle.   Kral Barakan ve Terandel Solace, uzun bir süre sessizce kalenin göreceli olarak tamamlanmış, yüksek balkonlarından birinden daha yeni yeni kurulmaya başlayan Kronor şehrinin ilk binalarını, onların ilerisindeki sahili ve dahasındaki denizi seyrederler.   “Ummm.. Kızınız, Arael Hanım, kendisi nasıl biridir acaba? Sorularım sizlere biraz fazla dolaysız ve sabırsız gelirse lütfen beni bağışlayın. En nihayetinde ve gerçekte ben bir denizciyim.”, der Barakan, biraz sıkılgan bir sesle. “Kızım.. bambaşkadır, Barakan..”, der Terandel, uzun bir sessizlikten sonra, ve karşılaştıklarından beri krala ile defa adıyla hitap eder. “Bizler yer altında doğduk. Yüz yıllarca da yer altında yaşadık. Sonra bir gün yer sarsıntıları, depremler ve göçükler durdu ve yaşadığımız uçsuz mağaramızın duvarlarından biri yıkıldı. O, hayatımda ilk defa güneşi gördüğüm andı ve o kadar parlak, o kadar güzeldi ki, bunu size anlatamam. Heyecan ve korku içerisinde çıktık dışarıya ve kendimizi bu adada bulduk. Bizden öncekilerin dünyası nasıldı bilmiyorum, ama biz mağaramızdan çıkıp ilk defa kumsala ayak bastığımızda bir şeyi kati olarak biliyorduk; bizden önce kimse bu kumsallara ayak basmamıştı..” Barakan, yanında duran bu muhteşem kadının, dolgun ve içli sesiyle anlattıklarını, büyülenmiş gibi dinler. “Gece olduğunda da ilk defa ayı görmüş olduk.. Ayı ve yıldızları.. O kadar parlak ve o kadar güzellerdi ki.. Ve o gece kocaman, gümüş bir tepsi gibi dolunay vardı ve benim doğum sancılarım başladı..”, der Terandel ve bir an dolmuş, silik gri gözlerle ufka dalar. “Yeryüzüne çıktığımız o ilk günün gecesinde, o muhteşem dolunayın aydınlattığı gecede doğdu Arael Ashanelath Fae Erunanne Tel’Lóna, benim kızım. Onun için ‘bambaşkadır’, derken kastettiğim buydu, sevgili Barakan. O hiçbirimiz gibi değil. O bir ilk. Bu dünyanın ilk gecesindeki ilk doğan hayat o, sevgili Barakan. Sana verdiğim, sana emanet ettiğim, hayatımdan daha kıymetli olan tek şey o, sevgili Barakan. O ‘bambaşkadır’, derken kast ettiğim buydu, sevgili Barakan..”, der elf kadın. Barakan yutkunur.   “Ben..”, der sessizce. “Ben bir ‘edebiyat’ adamı değilim, Hanımefendi.. Bir denizciyim ve denizcilerin bu tür şeylere ayıracak vakitleri olmaz, zira deniz talepkar bir iş verendir ve ona gelenleri günün yirmi dört saati, haftanın yedi günü çalıştırır çünkü deniz zalim bir hanımefendidir.. Ama ona gelenler, her zaman aşkla gelirler, çünkü deniz aynı zamanda en güzel hanımefendidir. Kızınız.. onu ilk gördüğümde.. gözlerinde denizi gördüm. Bana bu krallık sorumluluğu yüklendiğinde, denizi ne kadar özleyeceğimden dolayı gizliden gizliye hayıflanıyordum ve bencilce bir şekilde, bir yerlerde yeterince büyük bir hata yapsam da, beni bu krallık işinden kovsalar, diye umuyordum.. taki kızınızı görünceye kadar.”   Birden Barakan kimden bahsettiğine.. ..dahası, bundan kime bahsettiğine ayılır, ve yüzü kızarır.   “Ben.. sizden özür dilerim Hanımefendi. Sanıyorum ki, haddimi aştım.” Terandel Solace, o muhteşem, fırtına sonrası grisi gözleriye ve dolgun dudaklarında oluşan hafif bir gülümsemeyle süzer kralını. “Samimi ve dürüstçe söylediklerinizden dolayı asla özür dilemeyin Kralım.”, der neden sonra. “Edebiyat adamı olmadığınızı söyledikten sonra dile getirdiklerinizi, keşke bana değil, kızıma söylemiş olsaydınız. Eminim pek hoşuna giderdi.” “Uhh.. Sanırım bıyık konusundan sonra, kendilerinden çekinmiyor değilim. Sanıyorum ki gerçekten hoşlanmıyor bıyıklardan, ancak bırakması biz insanlarda genel bir alışkanlıktır.”, diye açıklamaya çalışır Barakan. “Kralım, kızımın insanlarla daha önce hiç münasebeti olmadı, ve şimdi onların kraliçesi olacak. Bu da onun halkını yakinen tanıması, ve onların gelenek ve göreneklerini öğrenip saygı duyması gerektiği anlamına geliyor. Bunu sizin bıyıklarınızdan başlayarak yapabilir diye düşünüyorum.”, der Terandel gülümseyerek. “Birbirinizi üzebilir, birbirinize darılabilirsiniz. Ama asla küsmeyin ve konuşmamazlık etmeyin. Asla güler yüzü birbirinizden esirgemeyin ve her zaman birbirinize dürüst olun. İster yerde ve toprakta, isterse yüksek, tüylü yataklarda olsun, her zaman aynı yorganı paylaşın, zira birbirinin sıcaklığı, diğerinin merhametini besleyecektir.. Bunlar, annesi olarak ona telkin ettiklerimdir ve sanıyorum kendileri de geliyorlar. Eminim sizinle konuşmak istedikleri çok şey vardır. Bizim de Kaptan Hammerson gelmeden yapmamız gereken hazırlıklar olacak.” Terandel Solace, balkondan ayrılmak için yönelir, ancak bir anlığına durur ve geri dönüp kızını bıraktığı adama bakar. “Ama kızıma söylemediğim bir şeyi size söyleyeceğim, Kralım; Sizden isteyip de verebileceklerinizi ondan esirgemeyin. Veremeyeceklerinizi ise istetmeyin..”, der ve iner.        
  WPM : Word per minute / Bir dakikada okunan kelime sayısı   Küçük high elf grubu, Terandel Solace, Sinderel Tranquil ve Elorellen Feymist önderliğinde yeni kral, Barakan’ın misafiri olarak kaleye gelirler ancak bir temsilci dışında kaleye yerleşmezler. Kral Barakan’dan, uzun bir yolculuk ve yeni krallığın geleceği için kendilerini ana kıtaya bırakmalarını rica ederler. Barakan, bu garip, mistik high elflerin ricasını geri çevirmez. Onları, aileleri ve bolca erzakla beraber, Kaptan Hammerson vasıtasıyla ana karaya çıkartır. Arkada temsilci olarak bırakılan kişi, Arael Ashanelath Fae Erunanne Tel’Lóna, gerçekte Terandel Solace’in kendi öz kızıdır ve Terandel onu Kral Barakan’a bir kraliçe olarak teslim eder.   Aradan yüz yıllar geçer ve kardeşlerden en büyüğü olan Terandel, Durkahan şehrinin daha kurulmadığı, Kahan Dağlarının güneyinde, üç yanı yüksek dağlarla çevrili yoğun ormanların olduğu bir yerde, Solace adında bir high elf şehri kurar. Daha doğuda, High Woods adındaki büyük çam ormanlığında ise, kardeşlerden en küçüğü, Elorellen Feymist, Bari Na-ammen adında bir başka high elf şehri kurar. Aradan binlerce yıl geçecek ve Elorellen’in soyundan, Ri Grandaleren ve Prenses Alor’Nadien ne (Lorna) Feymist, Angrellen ve Anglenna Sunsear gelecektir. Ortanca kardeş, Sinderel ise çok daha kuzeye gider ve Büyük Kuzey Tundralarında, Kutsal Celestial Dağının neredeyse eteklerinde, Tranquil adında bir high elf şehri kurar. Ve bu şekilde, yüz yıllar önce Kral Barakan’a verdikleri sözü ve vaadi yerine getirirler. Üç kardeş ve onların torunları binlerce yıl Adalar Krallığının ana kıtadaki omurgasını oluşturacaklardır.   Büyük Yıkım Sonrası, elflerin ilk yer yüzüne çıktıkları gece dünyaya gelen, ve bu sebepten dolayı kendisine uğurlu bir isim olarak Yıl Bir’in Kalbi, Arael Ashanelath Fae, ve Adaların Zarafeti, Eruanna Tel’Lóna anlamlarını taşıyan güzel high elf kraliçe sayesinde kraliyet ailesinin nesilleri insanlardan çok daha uzun ve sağlıklı yaşayan krallardan oluşacaktır.  
 
dungeons and dragons tarihçe

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part V)

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part V)

Timeline:

The Kingdom of Isles, Adalar Krallığı’nın tarihi ve ana kıtayı fethi üzerine kısa bir bakış.

Kesin tarihler, o günkü koşullar dolayısıyla kusurlu olabilir. Bilinen tek şey, krallığın Yıl 1’den sonra kurulan ilk kalıcı medeniyetlerden biri olduğu.

Bu tarihin başlangıcı, Yıl 1‘den sonra yer alır.

 

  l 7569 (-20 yıl)

Seressa’dan şirin kız, Komoberi’ye. Seressa’dan şirin kız, Komoberi’ye. Bir, ki.. Bir, kii.. Beni duyuyor musun, şirin kız Komoberi..?”, diye dolgun, feminen bir ses yankılanır Komoberi Anthea’nın zihninde.

“Seressa?”, diye hayretle küçük bir çığlık atar Komoberi.

“Sessiz..!”, diye tıslar Seressa’nın sesi ruh gibi salınan peri kızın zihninde. “Cevap vermek için beni düşünüp aklından konuşman yeterli.”

“Nasıl? Nasıl yapıyorsun bunu?”, diye hayretle düşüncesi geri gönderir Komoberi.

“Yeni bir büyü sayesinde. Daha doğrusu, seçeneklerim arasında daha önceden de bu büyü vardı ama hiç arkadaşım olmadığı için almamıştım. Bağlı olduğum Hanımım ile oturup pazarlık yaptım. Bir başka büyü ile bunu takas ettim.”

“Ama.. bu biraz tehlikeli değil mi? Ve bu senin, Hanımına daha da borçlanmana sebep olmaz mı?”, diye üzülmüş bir şekilde sorar orman perisi.

“Hanımım beni çok sever ki! Bu küçük takas ile gelecekte onunla beraber çok büyük ve önemli şeyler yapacağımı söyledi, ben de bunun, tek arkadaşımla muhabbete değeceğini düşündüğüm için kabul ettim.”, diye Seressa’nın mutlu sesini yankılanır Komoberi’nin zihninde.

“Ama Fearghas’da senin arkadaşın ki..”, diye hatırlatır Komoberi.

“Çok naziksin, şekerim, ama ikimizde çok iyi biliyoruz ki, Bay Fionnghal’ın sadece bir tane arkadaşı var, ve o da sırık gibi boyu olan, kömür karası tenli, pembe saçlı sakar bir kız değil.. Bu sırada, cevap verirken yüzümü hayal etmen yeterli, kuyruğumu değil.”, diye kıkırdar Seressa.

 

Komoberi’nin yüzü kıpkırmızı olu verir ve, “Ö.. özür dilerim..”, diye kekeler.

 

“Sorun değil, sorun değil.. Elimde olsa sana verirdim onu.”, der Seressa samimi bir şekilde.

HAYIR YAA!”, diye ünler Komoberi.

“Neden ki? Bunun senin hoşuna gideceğini düşünmüştüm”, der Seressa, hafif alınmış bir sesle.

“Sahibi yokken ben o kuyruğu ne yapacağım ki?”, diye itiraf eder, Komoberi.

 

Bir anlığına bağlantı kopar ve ortam sessizleşir.

 

Komoberi tedirgin olur zira bu garip, içten, samimi, iyi niyetli, yalnız kızı üzmek istememiştir.

“Sen.. Bu.. bu güne kadar bana söylenmiş en güzel şeydi!”, diye ünler Seressa ve her nasılsa Komoberi kızın ağladığı izlenimine kapılır.

 

Komoberi’nin gözleri dolar.

 

Bir kızın bu kadarcık bir samimiyete, ilgiye, yakınlığa ve her ne kadar dürüstçe söylenmiş olsada, yine de öylesine söylemiş bir şeye bu kadar ihtiyaç duyacak kadar yalnız olması onu yıkar.

 

“Benim adıma ağlama güzel Anthea.”, der Seressa, kızın zihninde. “Yalnızlık, hayatım boyunca beni peşimden takip etmiş en yakın dostum!”

“Bu.. bugün gelecek misin?”, diye sorarar Komoberi, burunu çekerek.

SIR OLAN MAĞARANIZDAKİ GİZLİ TOPLANTINIZA MI?, diye büyük bir iştahla sorar Seressa.

“Gelmek ister misin?”, diye önerir Komoberi.

“LÜTFEN.”, der kız ve sanki bütün kalbini o bir kelimenin içine sıkıştırmış gibidir. “Ama önce pembe floksalarımı sulamam lazım. Ve.. umm.. Bay Fionnghal’a geleceğimi sen söylersen sevinirim. Beni her gördüğünde yaptığı gibi yine dişlerini ısırması istemiyorum.”

“Fionn sana saygı duyar ki.”, der Komoberi samimi bir sesle.

“Korkarım Bay Fionnghal’ın saygısı bana değil, ‘bilgiye’. An itibariyle istediği ‘bilgi’ bende. Aynı bilgiye kendisi de sahip olunca, sanıyorum ki bana gösterdiği sessizliği ve zorunlu tahammülü de tükenecek..”, der Seressa esefle.

“Fionn, daha genç biri ve sabırsız bir ruhu var. Davranışları sana özel değil, Seressa. Onun tahammül edemediği şeyler; ‘yalan’, ‘ahmaklık’, ve ‘saçmalık’..”, diye açıklar Komoberi.

“Hmmm..”, diye Seressan’nın düşünceli sesini duyar zihninde Komoberi. “Bu da üçte iki olarak beni içeriyor. Onunla ortak tek yanımız, ikimizin de yalandan hoşlanmayışımız. Ahmaklık, istemeyerek de olsa, mütemadiyen yaptığım bir şey.”

 

Seressa bir an susar.

Sonra kızın sesi mutlu bir şekilde duyulur.

 

“Saçmalığa gelirsek, onu istekli ve olabildiğince sıklıkla yapıyorum!”

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Fearghas Fionnghal burnundan soluyarak ve kendi kişisel yağmur bulutuyla iner ‘gizli’ mağaraya, ve Komoberi ile Seressa’yı yerdeki zemin sehpasında karşılıklı oturmuş, ellerindeki renkli kartlardan bir oyun oynadıklarını görünce, mor ve koyu mavi renkli yüzü, olduğundan daha da kararır.

 

Burası onun gizli öğrenme yeridir ve aralarına zorla kendisini dahil eden bu pembe saçlı, dantelli-fırfırlı saçma sapan kıyafetler giymiş kız, onun bu mahremiyetini ihlal etmektedir.

Fearghas dişlerini gıcırdatır.

Ama iki kız da onun varlığını fark etmezler bile.

 

Komoberi, elinde kalmış üç kart, yüzünde ağlamaklı bir ifadeyle kıvranırken, Seressa ise uzun, zarif, simsiyah parmaklarında tuttuğu iki düzine kartı, sadece gözleri görünür ve tüm dikkati sehpanın öbür tarafındaki mahvetmek üzere olduğu kıza vermiş bir şekilde tutmaktadır.

 

“Burası.. Burada..”, diye başlar haşin bir şekilde Fearghas.

Ancak “Ne oynuyorsunuz?!”, diye bitirir, yanlışlıkla!

 

“FIONN!”, diye inler Komoberi!

“Kurtar beni Fionn, ölüyorum!”

 

“‘Mübah’, oynuyoruz, Bay Fionnghal. Sevgili Komoberi sizi beklerken bu oyunu oynayabileceğimizi söyledi. Ne var ki hiç arkadaşım olmadığı için daha önce hiç oynamamıştım. Sevgili Komoberi nezaket gösterip anlattı bana oyunun kurallarını.”, der pembeler içindeki kız, ve bunu söylerken kuyruğu heyecanlı, heceli hareketlerle bir o yana, bir bu yana kamçılanır.

“Bana ‘bay’ diye hitap etmemen konusunu daha önce konuşmuştuk, sanırım.”, der Fearghas, ve zemin sehpasına yanaşır.

Seressa, Fearghas geldiğinden beri ilk defa başını elindeki kartlardan kaldırır ve ona hayretle bakar.

“Ben.. ben bu kuralın, üzerinde çalıştığımız konunun önemi dolayısıyla sadece geçen oturum ile sınırlı olduğunu sanmıştım.”, der. “Bunu genel olarak isteyebileceğinizi hiç düşünmemiştim. Size adınızla, bir.. arkadaş gibi hitap edebileceğimi kastettiğinizi söylememiştiniz.”

“Neden olmasın?”, der ve mağaraya girdiği ve bu kızı gördüğü anda hissettiklerinden dolayı biraz utanır. Evet, Fearghas’ın da Komoberi’si dışında pek arkadaşı yoktur, ancak bu, kendisi istemediği için böyledir. Bu sırık gibi uzun, kömür karası, pembe hastası, skandal denebilecek mini elbiseli kız ise bir tane —her hangi bir tane— arkadaş için can atmaktadır.

“Bakıyorum, bu oyunu çabuk kapmışsın. Bir pro ile şansını denemek ister misin?”, der Fearghas, gizleyemediği bir sırıtışla.

“Sizde mi biliyorsunuz bu oyunu?”, diye şaşırmış bir şekilde sorar Seressa.

“Tabii ki. Bu oyunun turnuvaları bile var ve ben çeyrek finaldeyim.”

“Haberim bile yoktu.”, der kız, kaşları kalkmış bir şekilde. “Üçümüz de beraber mi oynayacağız? Öyle olursa nasıl olacak, peki?”

“Bu oyun sadece iki kişiliktir.”, der Fearghas.

“O zaman siz ikiniz oynayın. Ben aranıza girmiş gibi olmayayım.”, der Seressa biraz çekingen bir sesle.

“Hayır!”, der Komoberi kati bir ifadeyle. “Ben Fionn ile oynamıyorum bu oyunu artık. Çok acımasızca oynuyor ve hep yeniyor!”

“Yapma ama, Beri.”, der Fearghas, pek de ikna edici olmayan, alınmış bir sesle..

“Ye onu, Seressa. Lüffeen!”, diye haşin bir sesle tıslar Komoberi.

Fearghas acımasızca ‘fırk’lar ve “Unutma. Bu oyunda her şey ‘Mübah'”, diye pis bir şekilde sırıtır.

 

Aradan saatler geçer ve mağaranın dışarısında hava kararmıştır.

 

Seressa ve Fearghas, sehpanın yanında, yerdeki küçük bir gaz lambasıyla aydınlanmış mağarada hala ‘Mübah’ oynamaktadırlar.

Zavallı Komoberi ise yere atılmış tiril halının bir köşesine sinmiş ve uyuya kalmıştır.

 

Fearghas, yüzünde fevkalade ciddi bir ifadeyle elindeki kartları değerlendirirken, Seressa ise, yine sadece gözleri görünecek şekilde kartlarıyla yüzünün gerisini gizlemektedir.

Fearghas, seri hareketlerle elindeki kartları belirli, stratejik bir kombinasyona göre açar ve onları sehpanın üstüne dizer.

Seressa’nın kaşları, hafif şaşırmış gibi yükselir.

Sonra da, yüzünde esef dolu bir ifadeyle, o da kendi elindeki kartları, kendi ayarladığı kombinasyona göre açar.. .

.ve Fearghas’ın kartlarını teker teker öldürecek şekilde yerleştirmeye başlar.

 

Kız kartlarını açtıkça Fearghas’ın yüzü git gide kararır. Kız, onun en son kartını devirdiğinde, kendi elinde hala bir düzine kart kalmıştır..

 

BU.. BU İMKANSIZ!”

“38 maçın hepsini kazanman, istatiksel bir imkansızlık!”, diye, fena halde bozulmuş, şahsına yapılmış muazzam bir hakarete maruz bırakılmış gibi tıslar Fearghas.

 

Seressa gülümser.

 

“Anladığım kadarıyla, bu oyun bir taktik ve strateji oyunu. Agresif taktikleriniz var Fearghas Fionnghal, ne var ki kendinize asla bir ‘exit’ stratejisi belirlemeyişiniz, mütemadiyen elinizde kart kalmamasına sebep oluyor.”, der mutlu bir şekilde.

Bİ DAHA!“, diye vahşice hırslanır Fearghas.

“Hayır yaaa!”, diye Komoberi’nin uyku sersemi sesi duyulur. “Çok geç oldu. Gidin artık ikiniz de yurtlarınıza.”

Komoberi’nin bunu söylemesiyle tekrar uykuya dalması bir olur..

“Sen gelmeyecek misin?”, diye sorar Seressa.

“Hayır, o kalacak.”, diye onun yerine cevap verir Fearghas. “Beri’nin bir orman perisi olması dolayısıyla rektörlükten özel, ormanda gece kalma izni var. Bunu arada bir yapmayınca olduğu çiçek gibi, solmaya başlıyor.”

“Bu.. çok.. duygusal bir ifadeydi..”, der Serassa ve hayretle önündeki oyun kartlarını, ve genel olarak mağarayı toparlayan haşin görünümlü genç adama bakar.

“Onu.. gerçekten seviyorsunuz!”, deyi verir birden.

“Dış görünüşlerden senin kadar yanmış birisinin, neden bunu hayret verici bulduğunu anlamakta zorlanıyorum, Seressa Wraiven.”, diye cevap verir Fearghas ve bunu söylerken sesindeki olağan, her zamanki hırçın ton yoktur.

“Sizden özür dilerim Fearghas Fionnghal. Niyetim sizi üzmek değildi.”, der kız sessizce. “Ancak sizi dış görünüşünüze göre değil, sergilediğiniz davranışlarınıza göre yargılamıştım. Bundan dolayı özür dilerim.”

“Genel, huysuz davranışlarım açısından beni aslında doğru değerlendirdiniz.”, diye itiraf eder Fearghas. “Nevarki Beri bir istisna; kendisi benim arkadaşım, ablam ve küçük kız kardeşim. Onun için normal kurallarım geçerli değil.”

Fearghas sessizce ortalığı toparlamaya devam eder ve bu işi bitirdiğinde, maağaranın bir köşesinde topak halinde duran battaniyeleri alır ve çoktan derin uykusuna dalmış kızın üstünü örter.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Gecenin karanlığında, Melshieve Akademisinin arkasındaki yoğun ağaçlı korulukta, Fearghas ve Seressa sessizce öğrenci yurtlarına doğru yürümektedir, ancak genç adamın arada bir burnundan kaçan sert solumalarından, bir şeylere fena halde takıldığını anlamak çok da zor değildir.

 

“Nasıl yaptığımı sormaya can attığınızı hissedebiliyorum. Benden çekinmenize gerek yok.”, der Seresss neşeli bir sesle.

“Evet. Merak ediyorum çünkü yeni bir oyuncunun, birbirini takip eden 38 maçı da kazanabilmesi gerçekten istatistiksel bir imkansızlık. Bu oyunu daha önce hiç oynamadığınızı söylüyorsun ve ben de sana inanmak istiyorum.”, der haşin sesiyle.

 

Seressa’nın bir kaşı kalkar, ancak karanlıkta, kaşı bir yana, kendisinin tamamı bile görünmemektedir.

Sadece ürkütücü bir şekilde havada süzülen pembe bir kurdele —kızın saçı, ve pembe, tül bi şey —kızın fırfırlı mini elbisesi!

 

“Aslında istatiksel bir imkansızlık değil, pratik bir imkansızlık. Ancak siz benim yalan söyleyip söylemediğimi merak ediyorsunuz.”, der Seressa sakince.

Buna Fearghas’dan herhangi bir cevap yada itiraz gelmez.

“Beni tanımıyorsunuz. Dolayısıyla da kuşkularınız var, ki bu da anlaşılır bir durum, sanırım. Bununla beraber, kişinin yalan söylemesi için, onu söyleyecek etrafında birileri olması lazım. Benim yok. Sizler ilksiniz. Bu da sizlere yalan söylemem için kötü bir zamanlama olurdu benim için..”, der kız, camdan bir neşeyle!

“Bu oyunu, yada oynadığınız herhangi bir oyunu kazanmak sizin için önemli. Last Man Standing Society turnuvalarında gösterdiğiniz aktif rolü göz önünde bulundurursak..”

“Gelip seyrettin demek!”, diye ünler Fearghas, ister istemez, zira bu kız her nasılsa onun kafasında biraz fazla uçarıdır ve kızsal bazı davranışları ve.. yanları.. fazla belirgindir. Dolayısıyla onu söz konusu turnuvada ‘neredeyse’ ölümüne mücadele eden iki grubu, avazı çıkacak şekilde bağıran ve kan isteyen bir kalabalığın içinde düşünemez bir türlü..

Fearghas bu kızı sadece, Pembe Bahçesinde, pembe çiçeklerini sularken, veya PQ’da —The Perfect Quill Society’de, elinde renkli uzun bir tüy ile harika bir şekilde aşk mektupları yazdığını hayal eder!

 

Seressa omuzlarını silker ama bu da karanlıkta kaybolur.

“Hiçbir şekilde yadırganmadığım tek yer orası.. Ne kadar ironik öyle değil mi? Yadırganmadığım tek yerin, insanların birbirlerinin canını yakmaya çalıştığı bir yer olması..”

 

Fearghas kızın bu ifadesini birçok açıdan rahatsız edici bulur.

Fazlasıyla rahatsız edici.

Ancak kendisi herhangi bir şey söyleyemeden kız konuşmaya devam eder.

 

“Bu kadar üzerinize alınabileceğinizi hiç düşünmemiştim, açıkçası. Bununla beraber, Hanımıma 38 defa yenilmiş olmanız, kendinizi kötü hissetmenizi gerektirecek bir durum değil, Fearghas Fionnghal. Kendisi strateji ve taktik konularında fevkalade üstün bir yeteneğe sahiptir.. Adı konulmamış binlerce yıl boyunca iblisleri kendi malikânesinden uzak tutabildiğini düşünürsek!”

 

Fearghas olduğu yerde kalakalır.

 

“Ben.. Ben senin Hanımına.. Shadowfell’in Hükümdarı, The Raven Queen – Kuzgun Kraliçesi olan Hanımına karşı mı oynadım?”, diye, yüzünde mutlak bir şok olmuşluk ifadesiyle tökezler Fearghas!

..Ve Unutulmuş Bilgeliğin, Kayıp Ruhların ve Terkedilmiş Nesnelerin Bakıcısı ve Koruyucusu, Hex Lord’ların Sahibesi olan Hanımıma karşı.. Liste biraz uzun..”, der Seressa ve karalığa rağmen yine de sırıtmama nezaketini gösterir.

“Bu.. BU HİLE!“, diye aynı şok ifadeyle yamulur, Fearghas.

“Hayır, sevgili Fearghas, bu ‘Mübah’.. Yarın da görüşecek miyiz? Üçümüz arasındaki bu arkadaşlık olayımız süreli mi, yoksa..?”, diye sorar karanlığın içinden kız.

 

Fearghas, kızın, Hanımı ile ilgili söylediği şeyler ve beklenmedik konu sektirmesi arasındaki geçişe yetişmekte zorlanır.

 

“Kalıcıdır, herhalde..”, der kafası karışmış bir şekilde.

“Harika!”, diye mutlu bir şekilde küçük bir çığlık atar Seressa. “Size bunun için sarılmak isterim ama önce sevgili Komoberi’den izin alsam daha akıllıca olur. Yanlış anlamasını istemem.”

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Yıl 168 (-7523 yıl)

Yanlış anlaşılacak bir şey yok, efendim.”, der Baş Danışman Malis el’Vezier, sabırlı bir şekilde. “High Elfleri temsil eden hürmetli şahıslar, yanlarında bir dördüncüyü getiriyorlar. Edindiğim bilgilere göre, bu kişi, Terandel Solace hanımefendinin öz kızı ve onu size getiriyor.”

Yeni Kral Barakan yutkunur.

Kendisi gibi denizciler genelde evlenip yerleşmeyi, sadece denizden bıkacak kadar hayatlarını gemilerde geçirdikten sonra düşünürler ki bu da genelde yaşları 55-60’dan sonra olan bir şeydir. Şimdi ise hiç tanımadığı bir takım elfler yanına gelmektedir ve birisi kızını ona kraliçesi olarak vermek istediği haberini ulaştırmıştır.

“Ya beni beğenmezse? Ya geçinemezsek?”, deyi verir Barakan, on altı yaşındaki bir çocuk gibi.

 

Malis, kralını gülen gözlere süzer.

 

“Kralım, bu durumun beğeni veya kişisel olarak geçinmeyle hiçbir ilgisi yok. Siz kralsınız ve bir kraliçeye ihtiyacınız var —tercihen tanınmış, sevilen, ve saygı duyulan birisine. Ve çocuklara, tabii.. Veliaht babında!”, der sevecen bir üslupla.

“Bakıyorum bu konu seni pek de eğlendiriyor gibi. Belki yanlarında sana da uygun bir elf kızı vardır!”, diye tehdit eder Barakan.

“Dilinizi ısırın, efendim!”, der Malis ekşi bir suratla. “Hiçbir kadın, eski bir komiserle lanetlenmemeli..”

“Hiçbir elf kızı da, benim gibi yaşlı bir adamla lanetlenmemeli..”, diye yapıştırır Barakan.

“Siz yaşlı değilsiniz ki. Kırk sekiz, insan standartlarına göre bile yaşlı değil.”, der el’Vi.

“Ne yapacağım ki ben küçük bir kız çocuğu ile?”, diye hayıflanır Barakan.

“Öhöm.. Müstakbel kraliçenizle ne yapacağınızı bana sormadığınızı umuyorum, efendim. Benim danışmanlığım o hususlara değinmiyor.”, der Malis sırıtarak.

Kral Barakan’ın yüzü kararır.

“Bununla beraber, gelen genç hanımefendi yüz altmış sekiz yaşındaymış. Bu elf standartlarına göre fevkalade genç olmakla beraber, sizden neredeyse dört kat daha yaşlı!

“Lütfen devam ediniz, Baş Danışman Malis. Müstakbel eşimin ne kadar yaşlı olduğu hakkındaki yorumlarınız fevkalade aydınlatıcı buluyorum!”, diye gözleri kısılmış bir şekilde el’Vi’ye bakar Barakan.

Malis avucunun içine doğru öksürürken sanki gömleği boğazını sıkıyormuş gibi yakasını çekiştirir.

“Bu kadar korkmanıza gerek yok kaptan. Bana gelen tariflere göre kız fevkalade güzel, zarif ve zeki bir hanımefendiymiş.”, der Malis samimi bir şekilde.

 

Dışarıdan acı, kulak gıcıklatan bir boru sesi duyulur.

Ardından çığırtkan, gür bir sesle bağırır;

“Muhterem ve Saygıdeğer Terandel Solace Hanımefendi ve kızı Areal Telona Hanımefendi, Muhterem ve Saygıdeğer Sinderel Tranquil Beyefendi ve Muhterem ve Saygıdeğer Elorellen Feymist Hanımefendi!”

“Şu rezil, boru olayını ivedilikle düzeltmemiz lazım. Kim bir güverte savaş borusunu, takdim borusu olarak kullanabileceğimiz fikrini önerdi?”, diye sorar Barakan.

“Kötü bir boru, hiç bir borudan daha iyidir. Kraliçenizin sorumlulukları arasında kalenizi, ve zamanla da büyüyecek olan şehrinizi, ve genel olarak krallığınızı güzelleştirmek olduğu gibi, takdim borunuzu değerlendirmek de görevleri arasında olacak.”, diye sırıtır Malis.

“Kızın adını bile yanlış söyledi çığırtkan. Hem yanlış, hem de eksik..”, diye hışmeder Barakan.

“Kızı daha görmediniz ama bakıyorum korumanız altına almışsınız bile, efendim. Bunu hayra alamet olarak düşünebilir miyiz?.”

 

Kral Barakan, Malis’e fena pis bir bakış atar ancak tam o esnada büyük bir gümbürtüyle taht odasının kapısı açılır ve kralın adamları eşliğinde üçü kadın, biri erkek olmak üzere dört high elf girer içeriye.

 

En önde gelen elf, Barakan’ın hayatında gördüğü en çarpıcı kadınlardan biridir. Çok hafif kumrala çalan sarı saçları, keskin hatları, düz ince burnu, kemerli kaşları, yüksek elmacık kemikleri, ışıl eflatun gözleri, uzun zarif kulakları, silik vişne dudakları ve neredeyse Kaptan Hammerson kadar uzun boyu, sırım gibi vücudu ile yeni kralına muhteşem bir zarafetle yaklaşan kadın, Elorellen Feymist’dir.

Elorellen, üzerindeki uzun, silik yeşil, tüleri elbisesi içerisinde dizlerini çok hafif bir şekilde kırarak nazik bir reverans yapar.

“Selam olsun size Kralım Barakan. Bizleri otuz yıldan uzun bir süredir cinayetleriyle sindiren bir lanetten özgür kıldınız. Müteşekkiriz.”, der, kulağa sıcak bir meltem gibi gelen sesiyle.

“Varlığınız, bilgeliğiniz ve güzelliğinizle bizleri onurlandırdınız, Hürmetkar Lady Elorellen Feymist Hanımefendi.”, diye başıyla onaylar Barakan.

 

Onun arkasından, ağır adımlarla kardeşler arasında tek erkek olan Sinderel Tranquil yaklaşır.

 

Sinderel Tranquil, uzun boylu, neredeyse platin renkli saçlı, yeşil gözlü, kız kardeşi gibi belirgin dudaklı, keskin hatlı, yüksek elmacık kemikli, hafif çatık kaşlı bir elftir ve kendisini tanımayan bir insan için, yirmi yaşlarında gibi genç görünümlüdür.

Tranquil, Barakan’a yaklaşır, iki elide çaprazlamasına göğsünde olacak şekilde hafif eğilir.

“Selam olsun size Kralım Barakan. Adalar halklarına gelişinizle umut da getirmiş oldunuz. Sizi ve adamlarınızı saygıyla selamlıyorum.”, der sıcak, karizmatik bir sesle.

“Varlığınızla bizi şereflendirdiniz, Lordum Sinderel Tranquil. Umuyorumki bizleri engin bilgeliğinizle çok uzun yıllar onurlandırırsınız.”, der Barakan.

 

“İnsan ve dwarflardaki gibi bıyıkları var anne! Çok lazım mı ona o bıyıklar?”, diye cılız bir ses duyulur arkadan. “Ve daha kırk sekiz yaşındaymış. Beni buraya bir çocukla evlenmem için mi getirdin anne?”

“Kırk sekiz, insanlar için en güzel yaşlardan biri, Lalem. Ne tüysüz bir çocuk, ne de bükülmüş bir yaşlı. Bu adayı adamlarıyla kurtarabilecek güce ve bilgeliğe sahip olduğunu düşünürsek, kendisine çocuk muamelesi yapmamanı sağlık veririm. Bu şekilde onunla çok daha mutlu bir hayatın olabilir.”, diye dolgun bir kadın sesi cevap verir sessizce.

 

Barakan’dan garip, sanki boğazına bir şey takılmış gibi bir ‘hırk’ sesi çıkar!

Malis ise bir eliyle ağzını gizler ve temkinli bir şekilde öksürür.

Elorellen Feymist olduğu yerde, hiç istifini bozmadan durur, ancak kadının eflatun gözleri ışıl ışıl parlamaya başlar.

Sinderel Tranquil’in dudaklarının bir kenarı oynar ve “Muhteşem bir başlangıçları olacak.”, diye mırıldanır, gülmemeye çalışırken.

“Sus, ağabey!”, diye bezmiş bir sesle fısıldar Elorellen.

Elflere eşlik eden ‘denizciler’ ise krallarına bakarak sırıtırlar ve Barakan bu duyduklarının, yıllarca asker kovuşlarından anlatılıp güldürüye kaynak olacağından kati bir şekilde emin oluverir.

 

Arkada duran ve kardeşlerin en büyüğü olan Teranden Solace yaklaşır..

 

Terandel Solace.. tarifi zor bir kadındır.

Geleneksel anlamda güzel olmaktan ziyade, elf kadının zarif ve olgun, zaman ötesi bir cazibesi vardır. Kız kardeşi gibi, onunda çok açık kahve ile sarı arası uzun saçları vardır. Ancak kız kardeşininkisinden farklı olarak Terandel’in saçları kalın örgülerden oluşmaktadır ve bir omzunun üzerinden dolgun vücudu boyunca aşağı salınmıştır. Kadının fevkalade silik gri gözleri, zarif bir burnu, dolgun açık kırmızı dudakları ve uzun ince bir boynu vardır ve bu haliyle tekil bir güzelliği temsil etmektedir.

Elf kadın, ağır, ölçülü adımlarla Barakan’a yaklaşır, küçük, zarif bir reveransda bulunur ve dolgun bir sesle konuşur.

“Selam size Kralım Barakan. Dağınık adalarımıza, başkalarının yaptığı gibi savaş ve yağma değil, dostluk, barış ve huzur getirdiniz. Sizleri ve askerlerinizi selamlıyorum. Uzun ve mutlu bir ömrünüz olsun.

“Hanımefendi.. Sadece burada oluşunuzun, mutlu ve uzun bir ömür için kafi olacağını düşünüyorum. Davetimi kabul etmenizden dolayı fevkalade mutmainim. Gökler eksikliğinizi hissettirmesin bizlere.”, diye yanıtlar Barakan içten bir şekilde.

Terandel buna biraz şaşırır ve ister istemez gülümser.

“Kralım, pek lütufkarsınız. Ancak bir kralın, bir kraliçeye ihtiyacı var —ki krallığı geleceğe yürüyebilsin. Size, benim için hayatımdan daha kıymetli olan tek varlığımı, rahmetli eşim ve benim en mutlu andımızı takdim etmek isterim; Yıl Bir’in Kalbi ve Adaların Zarafeti, Arael Ashanelath Fae Eruanna Tel’Lóna.”, der Terandel ve gözleri dolmuş bir şekilde hayatı olan kızını nazikçe elinden tutar ve onu kralına takdim eder..

 

Arael Tel’Lóna, annesine, dayısına ve teyzesine sadece zarafeti ve dolgun dudaklarıyla benzerlik gösterir. Kızın başından aşağı, koyu kızıl-kestane saçları, bir şelale gibi dökülmektedir. İnce, kalemle çizilmiş gibi kaşları, derin, çok hafif çekik, içinde kaybolunacak masmavi gözleri, teyzesinde olduğu gibi zarif, ince bir burnu, yeni olgunlaşmış çilek renkli dudakları ve yumuşak, açık krem tenli feminen bir yüzü vardır.

Kızın, boyu neredeyse Barakan kadardır. Yumuşak kıvrımları, ince beli, ve olağan duruşuyla bu kız her haliyle ‘hayat’ın ta kendisi gibidir.

 

Ve kız öylece Barakan’a bakar.

Barakan’da bir anda kral olduğunu unutur ve o da kıza takılır kalır!

 

Ne kadar bir birlerine bakakalırlar belli değildir.

Ancak bu süre, Baş Danışman Malis’in tekrar avucuna öksürmesine sebep olacak kadar uzun olduğu kesindir.

 

“Lalem..”, diye sesiyle kızını dürter Terandel.

“Efendim, anne?”, der Arael muallak bir şekilde ve Barakan’a alık alık bakmaya devam eder.

“Bir şeyler demen gerekmiyor muydu kralına?”, der annesi, pes etmiş bir sesle.

“Unuttum. Hepsini unuttum!”, der kız pat diye!

Elorellen Feymist gözlerini havaya kaldırırken, Sinderel Tranquil’den ise bir ‘fırk’lama sesi duyulur.

“Neye gülüyorsun, ağabey. Kız rezil etti bizi.”, der Elorellen.

“Bence çok şirinler. Yeğenimizin bir kraliçe olması umuduyla gelmiştik buraya. Bence kız kendi başına fazlasıyla başardı bu işi.”, diye kıkırdar Sinderel.

“Bir şeyler söylesene, Tel’Lóna!”, diye mırıldanır Elorellen Feymist.

 

“Bıyıkların. Onlar yüzüne yapışık mı?”, diye sorar bir anda Arael.

 

 


Küçük high elf grubu, Terandel Solace, Sinderel Tranquil ve Elorellen Feymist önderliğinde yeni kral, Barakan’ın misafiri olarak kaleye gelirler ancak bir temsilci dışında kaleye yerleşmezler.

Kral Barakan’dan, uzun bir yolculuk ve yeni krallığın geleceği için kendilerini ana kıtaya bırakmalarını rica ederler.

Barakan, bu garip, mistik high elflerin ricasını geri çevirmez. Onları, aileleri ve bolca erzakla beraber, Kaptan Hammerson vasıtasıyla ana karaya çıkartır.

Arkada temsilci olarak bırakılan kişi, Arael Ashanelath Fae Erunanne Tel’Lóna, gerçekte Terandel Solace’in kendi öz kızıdır ve Terandel onu Kral Barakan’a bir kraliçe olarak teslim eder.

Aradan yüz yıllar geçer ve kardeşlerden en büyüğü olan Terandel, Durkahan şehrinin daha kurulmadığı, Kahan Dağlarının güneyinde, üç yanı yüksek dağlarla çevrili yoğun ormanların olduğu bir yerde, Solace adında bir high elf şehri kurar.

Daha doğuda, High Woods adındaki büyük çam ormanlığında ise, kardeşlerden en küçüğü, Elorellen Feymist, Bari Na-ammen adında bir başka high elf şehri kurar. Aradan binlerce yıl geçecek ve Elorellen’in soyundan, Ri Grandaleren ve Prenses Alor’Nadien ne (Lorna) Feymist, Angrellen ve Anglenna Sunsear gelecektir.

Ortanca kardeş, Sinderel ise çok daha kuzeye gider ve Büyük Kuzey Tundralarında, Kutsal Celestial Dağının neredeyse eteklerinde, Tranquil adında bir high elf şehri kurar.

Ve bu şekilde, yüz yıllar önce Kral Barakan’a verdikleri sözü ve vaadi yerine getirirler. Üç kardeş ve onların torunları binlerce yıl Adalar Krallığının ana kıtadaki omurgasını oluşturacaklardır.  

Büyük Yıkım Sonrası, elflerin ilk yer yüzüne çıktıkları gece dünyaya gelen, ve bu sebepten dolayı kendisine uğurlu bir isim olarak Yıl Bir’in Kalbi, Arael Ashanelath Fae, ve Adaların Zarafeti, Eruanna Tel’Lóna anlamlarını taşıyan güzel high elf kraliçe sayesinde kraliyet ailesinin nesilleri insanlardan çok daha uzun ve sağlıklı yaşayan krallardan oluşacaktır.

 

 

dungeons and dragons tarihçe

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part IV)

Adalar Krallığı Tarihi
(Part IV)

Timeline:

The Kingdom of Isles, Adalar Krallığı’nın tarihi ve ana kıtayı fethi üzerine kısa bir bakış.

Kesin tarihler, o günkü koşullar dolayısıyla kusurlu olabilir. Bilinen tek şey, krallığın Yıl 1’den sonra kurulan ilk kalıcı medeniyetlerden biri olduğu.

Bu tarihin başlangıcı, Yıl 1‘den sonra yer alır.

 

 

l 7569 (-20 yıl)

Muhteşem Melshieve Akademisinin arkasındaki büyük koruluğun derinliklerinde, ağaçların ve çalıların sıklaştığı bir noktada gizli bir oyuk vardır. Bu oyuk, uzun ve ince bir tünelin ağızıdır. Tünelin kendisi yerin altındaki, pek de büyük olmayan boş bir mağaraya iner. Nevarki mağara şu anda boş değildir. Mağaranın zemininde orta büyüklükte, eski, tiril bir halı, halının üstüne atılmış üç-beş iri minder, küçük bir zemin sehpası, sehpanın üstünde ise, bir gaz lambası, içinde vişne suyu olan el yapımı kil bir maşrapa, iki ahşap oyma bardak, küçük bir mürekkep hokkası ve uzun, siyah bir tüy kalem ve bir kaç adet tarih, coğrafya ve büyü üzerine kitap mevcuttur. Yer sehpasının üzerinde ve yere saçılmış, içinde bazı not, tarih ve doodle’ların karalandığı papirüsler ve bir tane de oldukça eski bir kitap durmaktadır.

Mağara, beceriksizce bir şekilde ‘yaşanılabilir’ hale getirilmiştir ve bunun için çaba sarf eden iki kişide sessizce bir birlerine bakmaktadır.

“Beri..”, diye tıslar mor ile koyu mavi tenli, alnından geriye doğru bir çift boynuzu olan genç adam, derin, esef dolu bir nefes vererek. “İzlendin mi yoksa buraya gelirken..?”

“Hayır ama yaa..”, diye inler orman perisi Komoberi Anthea yarı ağlamaklı bir sesle. “Sincap olarak, daldan dala sıçrayarak ve süzülerek geldim.”

“Ben de süzülerek geldim!”, der dışardan gelen, dolgun nefesli feminen ses, mutlu bir şekilde. “Ama daldan dala atlamadım. Bu biraz garip olurdu.. Düşünebiliyor musunuz, benim kadar uzun boylu bir kızın daldan dala atlaması halinde çıkaracağı gürültüyü? Ve sanırım pembeler içindeki halimle teşhircilikten dolayı da disiplin cezası yerdim..”

 

Mor-koyu mavi tenli Fearghas Fionnghal bir elini yüzüne götürür ve gözleri kapalı bir şekilde öylece durur.

 

“Onun daldan dala atlarken ki halini hayal etmiyorsun değil mi, Fionn?”, diye kaşları çatılı bir şekilde mor gence bakar, Komoberi.

Fearghas elini yüzünden indirir ve önünde duran ruh gibi kızı dik bakışlarla süzer.

“Sorun değil, sorun değil..”, der dışarıdaki ses, neşeli bir şekilde. “Siz karar verinceye kadar ben burada beklerim.”

“Naapacağız şimdi? Kız buldu gizli inimizi..”, diye mızmızlanır Komoberi.

“Aslında sadece burada, çalıların arasındaki bir oyuğu buldum. Teknik olarak içeri girmediğim için, aşağıdaki mağaranıza inen bir tünel olduğunu düşünmem sadece bir varsayım, dolayısıyla da daha gizli yerinizi bulmuş değilim. Soran olursa ‘hiç görmedim’ diyebilirim, dert etmeyin!”, der dışardan gelen ses, şen bir şekilde.

“Hay shit!”, der Fearghas. “Tam bir kaçık bu!”

FEARGHAS YAA.. LÜTFEN AMA!“, diye söylenir Komoberi.

“Çok ayıp, ama isabetli.”, diye seslenir dışardaki ses.

“Aslında durumumuzu çok iyi bir şekilde özetlediğimi düşünüyorum, Beri.”, der Fearghas, bezmiş bir şekilde.

“İnan ben söylemedim. Kimseye söylemedim..”, der Komoberi, dokunsan ağlayacakmış gibi.

“İnan ona, Bay Fionn, bana o söylemedi. Kimseye söylemedi.. Ben yukardan takip ettim onu ki bu da onun suçu değildi.”, der dışarıdaki ses makul bir şekilde!

Komoberi, dışarıdan gelen sesin açıklamalarını dinledikçe gözleri daha da dolar.

“Yapacak bir şey yok. Ya canı sıkılıp gidinceye kadar olduğu yerde öylece duracak, ya da..”, der Fearghas.

“Benim canım sıkılmaz, siz beni dert etmeyin. Süper sabırlıyımdır ki!”, der dışardaki ses.

“Gökler adına, ne getirdin buraya, Beri!”, diye inler Fearghas!

“Ama ben yapmadım ki, Fionn yaa.. İnan ben getirmedim!”, diye cevap verir gözleri dolu bir şekilde peri kızı.

“Biraz yargıcılık mı var sizde, Bay Fionn? O getirmedi ki beni buraya. Ben geldim. Pembe Bahçem ile burası arasındaki mesafenin kuş uçuşu ne denli yakın olduğunu düşünürseniz, eminim sizde bunu anlayacaksınızdır!”, der dışarıdaki ses.

“Kuş uçuşu mu?”, diye ünler Fearghas, tek kaşı kalkmış bir şekilde.

“Gizli marifetlerimizi ve sırlarınızı paylaşmadan önce, tanışmayı tercih ederim, Bay Fionn. Ben size nezaket gösterdim ve sizin ‘gizli’ mağaranıza girmeyerek, daha onu ‘bulmuş değilim’ —teknik olarak.. Dolayısıyla, bana işkence bile etseler, onu kimseye teşhir edemem. En kötüsü, ‘ormanda bir yerlerde saklanıyorlardı’, diyebilirim ki bu da ders kıran tüm öğrenciler için geçerli bir durum zaten!”, der dolgun, feminen ses.

Fearshas, pes etmiş bir ifadeyle mağaranın tavanına bakar, derin bir iç çeker ve Komoberi’ye, “Ey.. Yapacak bir şey yok. Çağır gelsin.”, der.

“Korkarım beni biriniz gelip şahsen davet etmeniz gerekecek.”, der dışardaki ses.

“Kız, kendisini vampir sanıyor sanırım..”, diye fısıldar Komoberi.

“Hayır, güzel orman perisi. Sadece nezaket gösteriyorum.”, diye neşeli bir şekilde açıklar dışardaki ses. “İyi birisi beni davet ederse, bu iyi bir niyetle yaptığını gösterir ki bu da güvenin var olduğuna işaret eder. Genelde cüceler cücelerle, elfler elflerle, dwarflar dwarflarla takılırlar. Nevarki Bay Fionn’un akademiye geldiğinden beri benimle, sanki özellikle sakınıyormuşçasına hiç konuşmadığını göz önünde bulundurursak, tieflinglerle hoş olmayan bir geçmişi olduğu sonucuna varmak pek de zor değil. Yada beni şahsen itici buluyor da olabilir. Ben ilkini düşünmek isterim çünkü o durumu düzeltme ihtimalim var. Diğerini tamir etmem ise korkarım pek mümkün değil!”

Fearghas dişlerini gıcırdatır.

Komoberi kıkırdar ve tünele doğru yönelir. Güzel, orman perisi mağaranın tünelinden yukarı doğru tırmanır ve oyuktan dışarı çıktığında gün ışığı ile karşılaşınca ister istemez hapşırır.

“Çok yaşa, güzelim!”, der çalıların arasından bir ses ve kızın hemen önünce, neredeyse iki yarda boyunda, simsiyah tenli, uzun, pembe saçlı, uzun, bir sağa, bir sola salınan kuyruklu, koyu bordo iki de uzun boynuzu olan, dantelli-fırfırlı pembe mini etekli bir bluz içerisinde, çöp gibi sıska ama bir kaç yıl içerisinde muhtemelen can alıcı bir güzelliğe ulaşacak olan Seressa Wraiven adındaki kızla karşılaşır.

“Merhaba Beri.”, der Seressa. “Senin tam adının bu olmadığını biliyorum ama kendini senin tanıştırmanı tercih ederim.”

“Komoberi..”, der orman perisi biraz çekingen bir sesle. “Komoberi Anthea.”

“Sahibi kadar güzel bir isim..”, der çok uzun, çok esmer kız, sanki duyduğu ismin tadına bakıyormuş gibi.

“L.. Lütfen içeri gelmez misiniz?”, diye çekinerek davet eder Komoberi.

“Benden çekinmene gerek yok ki, sevgili Komoberi. Biz zaten iki defa karşılaşmıştık daha önce. Sizin ve Bay Fionn’un, özellikle tarih derslerinden gönderilmelerinizi ilgiyle izledim.”, der Seressa sırıtarak.

“Yaaa..”, der Komoberi utanmış bir şekilde.

“Bence harikaydınız. Profesör Tumblebum, alternatiflere ve hayal gücüne kapalı bir adamdır. Seninle daha yakinen tanıştığımız o mutlu günde, söz, kendisinin tam bir ahmak olduğunu söyleyeceğim size..”, der neşeli bir sesle.

Komoberi ister istemez kıkırdar.

“Lütfen. Bizimle aşağı inmez misiniz?”, diye nazik bir şekilde davet eder bu up uzun boylu, simsiyah tenli, saçma sapan, fırfırlı-dantelli pembe mini elbiseli kızı.

“Ayyy.. çok heyecanlandım!”, der kız, Komoberi’ye. “Kimse beni bir yere davet etmemişti daha önce..”

“Çok yazık.”, der Komoberi. “Ben istemediğim halde çağırılıyorum. Mümkün olsa da yer değiştirsek.”

“Sen çok güzelsin ve çok şirinsin ama ki!.”, der Seressa samimi bir içtenlikle. “Benim şu halime bak. Kim pembeler içindeki kapkara, kazık gibi boyu olan, sakar bir kızı muhabbet etmek için çağırır ki odasına?”

Komoberi buna söyleyecek akıllı bir şey düşünemez ama birden çok kızar, zira kendisini tünelden aşağı, komik bir şekilde iki büklüm takip eden kız, samimi, dürüst ve içten bir kızdır ve aklından geçeni, olduğu gibi, yağlandırıp ballandırmaksızın söylemektedir.

Anca ikisi de mağaraya geldiklerinde kız doğrulabilir. Komoberi, Fearghas’ın yanına gelir ve onu Seressa ile tanıştırır.

“Bu en eski arkadaşım, Fearghas Fionnghal. Kendisi ile Dream Woods’dan beri tanışıyoruz. Fionn. Bu da Seressa Wraiven. Bana ‘The Hide ‘n Seekers’a katılmamda yardımcı olmuştu..”

“Merhaba, Bay—”, diye başlar Seressa ama Fearghas araya girer.

“Lütfen bana her hitap ettiğinizde, ‘bay’ diye başlamazsanız, sevinirim. Fearghas yada Fionghal.. ikisi de olur..”, der biraz sert bir üslupla.

Komoberi kaşlarını çatarak bakar Fearghas’a.

“Sorun değil, sorun değil.. Bana kızgınsınız. Burası sizin özel yerinizdi ve ben kendimi biraz zorbaca dahil ettim. Ancak gün aşırı sizin, benim çiçek evimin önünden sinsice geçişinizi seyredince ister istemez merakımı cezbettiniz. Ve merak söz konusu olunca, ben biraz kedi gibiyimdir.”, der Seressa ve kuyruğu bir sağa, bir sola acite olmuş bir kedininkisi gibi kamçılanır.

 

Komoberi o kuyruğu büyülenmiş gibi seyreder.

‘Dokunsam mı acaba?’, diye geçirir içinden.

Sonra utanır.

‘Ama çok ayıp olmaz mı?’

Sonra da ve eriyerek söylenir..

‘Yaaa dokunmam lazım o kuyruğa.. Ay şuna bak, tam bi nyan kedisi gibi!’

 

Bunu, çatık kaşlarıyla ciddi bir hava vermeye çalışan Fearghas fark eder..

Komoberi’nin yüzündeki ifadeyi görür..

..ve istemsizce ‘fırk’lar.

Sonra da dayanamaz ve kahkahayı basar!

 

Komoberi kıpkırmızı olmuş bir suratla öylece kalakalır yerinde.

“Ne? Ne oldu?”, diye hayretle sorar Seressa ve bir anda üstüne basılmış gibi kuruğu dimdik havada durur!

Fearghas biraz daha güler..

 

“Ben.. ben çok özür dilerim!”, der Komoberi rezil olmuş bir ifadeyle. “Kuyruğunuz.. ÇOK ŞİRİN!”

“Sahi mi? Hoşuna gitti mi gerçekten?”, diye hayretle sorar Seressa.

“Evet yaaa..”, diye erir neredeyse peri kızı.

“Dokunmak ister misin?”, diye önerir Seressa.

“LÜFFEEEEN!”, diye neredeyse yalvarır Komoberi.

“Ama ben de senin yeşil saçlarına dokunmam lazım. Çok güzeller!”, diye birden puslanmış gözlerle bakar peri kızının saçlarına.

“KABUL!”, diye çığlık atar Komoberi ve up uzun, simsiyah kızın kuyruğuna atlar!

Nevarki kuyruk, yakalanmak niyetinde değildir.

Bir sağa, bir sola kaçar!

“İnan ben yapmıyorum. Kendi kendisine yapıyor bunu!”, diye kıkırdar Seressa.

“Süpeeeeer!”, diye koşturur kuyruğun peşinden Komoberi çarpılmış gibi.

 

Fearghas öylece bakakalır iki kızın saçmalığına.

“Gerçekten, Beri.. Ne getirdin buraya?!”, diye mırıldanır içinden, ama bir yandan da en yakın arkadaşı olan Komoberi’yi en son ne zaman bu kadar sevindirik olmuş bir şekilde gördüğünü de pek hatırlayamaz.

 

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

 

Ne düşünüyorsunuz, Wraiven Hanım?”, der Fearghas ciddi bir şekilde. Genç adam, oturduğu yerden, sehpanın öbür yanınında oturan simsiyah kıza bakar ve kızın bazı ilginç marifetlerini takdir etmekten de kendisini alamaz. Kız, yarım saati sadece biraz aşacak şekilde eski, tarihi sefer defterini baştan sona okumuş, sonra rica ettiği bir papirüse, aşk mektubu yazar gibi harika bir el yazısıyla not almış, sonra tekrar bazı sayfaları gözden geçirmiş ve tekrar not almış, en sonunda da notlarını değerlendirmişti düşünceli bir ifadeyle.

Kızın bu hali, dışarıdan göründüğü o saçma sapan halinden oldukça farklıdır. Evet, kız hala pembe saçlı, skandal denilebilecek pembe, fırfırlı-dantelli mini bluzuyla abuk görünse de, şu anki düşünceli ifadesiyle dış görünüşü pek uyuşmamaktadır.

Bu esnada Komoberi ise kızın yanına oturmuş, tamamen büyülenmiş gibi kızın kuyruğu ile oynamaktadır.

“Hmmm?”, der kız dalgın bir ifadeyle ve başını hafif kaldırıp Fearghas’a bakar.

“Ne düşünüyorsun, Wraiven Hanım?”, diye kendini tekrarlar Fearghas.

“Wraiven Hanım?”, der bir anda ve kızın kapkara yüzü aralanır, bembeyaz dişleri görünür.

Komoberi kıkırdar.

“Bana ‘hanım’ diye ilk defa hitap ediliyor. Kulağa o kadar hoş geliyor ki, anlatamam.”, der kız ve gözleri parlar. “Bununla beraber, size ‘bay’ dememi istemiyorsanız, sanırım sizin de bana sadece Seressa demeniz gerekecek.”

“Peki.. Seressa, ne düşünüyorsunuz?”, der mor, genç adam sabırlı bir şekilde.

“Öncelikle, bunu gizli arşivlerden çaldığınıza inanamıyorum. Süper etkilendim!”, der kız hayran bir şekilde ikisine de bakar.

“Yaa.. aslında çalmadık.. yanlışlıkla oldu..”, der Komoberi kızarmış bir şekilde yandan.

Seressa muhteşem, içli ve dolgun bir kahkaha atar.

“Bu daha da harika. Bununla beraber, sefer defterinin sahibi, ayrıntılar konusunda çok dikkatli birisi. Bunu söyleyebilirim. Ve çok çalışkan. Ben olsam can sıkıntısından defterin kenarlarına doodle’lar çizerdim. Ama defter, zaman kaynaklı çok eski olması dışında, tertemiz. Kaptan Barakan’ın yazıları da, düşünceleri gibi; derli toplu ve fevkalade organize bir şekilde ifade edilmiş. İçimden, bir kaptan olarak harcanmış, demek istiyorum ama, Adalar Krallığını kurmuş olduğunu düşünürsek, pek de harcanmış diyemeyeceğim.. Dahası, adamın kendisi fevkalade özgecil birisi.”, der kız analitik bir şekilde.

“Bu sonuca nereden vardın?”, diye sorar Fearghas merakla.

Seressa omuzlarını silker.

“Adaya çıkar çıkmaz, bütün mürettebatını teker teker gözden geçirmiş ve kime nerede ihtiyaç varsa oraya yerleştirmiş.. Buna, kaptanlıktan ayrılıp, yerine ikinci kaptanını getirmiş olması da dahil. On üç yıl denizde kaybolup mürettebatının saygısını hala koruyabilmiş olması da bunu gösteriyor. Ve anladığım kadarıyla, kendisi bir kral olmak gibi bir isteği de, niyeti de yokmuş. Koşullar ve çevresindekiler onu buna zorlamışlar gibi bir izlenim elde ettim.”, diye açıklar.

Fearghas etkilenmiş bir şekilde önce bu simsiyah kıza bakar, sonra da Komoberi’ye.

Komoberi’de etkilendiğini sessizce başını sallayarak onaylar.

“Peki geldikleri yer ve başta kullandıkları tarihler?”

“Bu konuda bazı fikirlerim var. Ama bunlar sadece spekülatif teoriler.. Yada tamamen hayal gücü de olabilir.”, diye uyarır Seressa.

“Elimizde hiçbir açıklama olmadığını düşünürsek, her ikisi de uyar bize..”, der Fearghas.

Seressa, düşünceli bir şekilde uzun, pembe saçıyla oynar biraz. Sonra Komoberi’ye döner.

“Gel güzel peri. Sen de önüme otur..”, diye onu elinden tutar ve yavaşça kaldırıp Fearghas’ın yanına oturtur. Kendisi de eski yerine, ikisinin karşısına oturur.

“Bunu.. Bunları duymak istiyor musunuz gerçekten? Öğrenebileceğiniz bazı şeyler, unutmak isteyebileceğiniz, ancak unutmanız pek de mümkün olmayan şeyler olacak. Bunlar, kitaplarda bulabileceğiniz şeyler değil çünkü ‘kayıp’ bilgi bunlar.”, der kız tedirgin bir sesle.

 

Fearghas’ın bir kaşı kalkar.

Komoberi de birden tedirgin olur.

 

“Ben bir Seeker’ım.”, der Fearghas. “Gerçeği bulmam ve öğrenmem lazım.”

“Ben.. ben emin değilim.”, der Komoberi. “Ama Fionn’u yalnız bırakmayacağım.”

 

Seressa Wraiven, ikisini de uzun bir an sessizce süzer.

Neden sonra alçak bir sesle konuşur.

“Bir Seeker olman saygı duyulacak bir şey olmakla beraber, gerçeği bulmak ile öğrenmek, iki, ap ayrı şeyler, Fearghas Fionnghal.”, der Fearghas’a ve ardından Komoberi’ye döner.

“Senin de arkadaşına olan sadakatin takdire şayan bir vasıf, ama öğreneceğin şey için yeterli bir nitelik olup olmadığını hiç düşündün mü, sevgili Komoberi Anthea?”

 

Bulundukları küçük mağara derin, boğucu bir sessizliğe bürünür.

Fearghas, tereddütsüz bir şekilde ‘Evet, söyle. Duymak istiyorum!’, deme eğilimdedir. Ancak yanındaki kızı düşünür ve bu yüzden susmayı tercih eder. Çünkü gerçekte bu onun değil, Komoberi’nin yapacağı bir tercihtir.

Genç adam yavaşça yanında oturan kıza döner ve sessizce ona bakar.

Komoberi ise belirgin bir duygu git-geli içerisindedir. Merak ve korku, bu git-gelin iki en uç noktasını temsil etmektedir.

“Sen karar ver Fionn..”, der en sonunda.

“Hayır, Beri. Ben kendi adıma karar verdim zaten. Ama senin adına veremem bu kararı. Kendi aptallığımdan dolayı çekeceklerime katlanabilirim. Senin de çekmene ise katlanamam. Bunca yıl beraberdik. Böyle devam etmesini de çok isterim. Nevarki, bu bana bir dönüm noktası gibi geliyor.. Bu karar senin olmalı, ve sadece senin..”, der Fearghas sessizce.

Komoberi alt dudağını ısırır ve yanındaki genç adama bakar.

“Onu dinle, sevgili Komoberi..”, diye fısıldar Seressa. “Duyacaklarını duyduktan sonra, bütün bakış açın değişecek çünkü duydukların bütün bildiklerini, bildiğini sandığın şeyleri ve ‘kati’lerini ezip yıkacak.. Ve bir daha mutlu günlerine dönemeyeceksin..”

 

Mağara tekrar boğucu bir sessizliğe bürünür.

Fearghas yanında oturan kızdan gözünü ayırmaz.

Seressa ise, göründüğü oltu taşından pürüzsüz bir şekilde yontulmuş heykel gibi kıpırdamadan öylece durur oturduğu yerde. Hayatta olduğuna dair tek belirti, tembel bir şekilde salınan kuyruğudur..

Komoberi Anthea’nın güzel, sevimli, ruh gibi yüz hatları değişir.

“Mutlu günlerim, arkadaşımla geçen günlerimdi..”

 

 

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

 

Yıl 168 (-7523 yıl)

Verdin mi kararını?”, diye sorar Kaptan Barakan sessizce.

“Kararımı yıllar önce, sizinle ayrıldığımdad vermiştim zaten.. sanırım!”, diye pes etmiş bir şekilde mırıldanır Malis el’Vezier. “Bu günün gelmemesi için çok uğraştım, ama kişi ne kadar akıllı olduğunu sanıyorsa, o kadar fena bir şekilde yanıldığını anlıyor sonunda. Ve her zaman daha akıllı biri çıkıp bu gerçeği vuruyor yüzüne..”

Kaptan Barakan sırıtır.

“Bu kadar karamsar olmayın Baş Danışman el’Vezier.. Yapmış olduğunuz tercihten ötürü, en az emek isteyen pozisyona sahip olmuş oldunuz. Sanırım bu sebepten dolayı gemime bir harita mühendisi olarak sızdınız.”

“Alternatiflerim pek de inandırıcı olmazdı zaten, efendim. Gemiler ve denizcilik hakkında ne denli az bilgim olduğunu düşünürsek.”, diye cevap verir Malis.

“Sorun nedir o zaman? Ben sizin bu sonuçtan dolayı mutlu olacağınız düşünmüştüm.”

“Sorun.. Bu gemiye bindiğiden beri kendimi rolümde gizlemek zorunda kaldım. On üç yıl, kişi girdiği rolle özdeşleşir sanırsınız. Nevarki, saklandığı rolden olmasada, saklanmak zorunda kalmış olmamdan dolayı kendime karşı hissettiğim tiksintiden dolayı bu sadece on üç yıl süren bir hapisten farksızdı benim için ve kendimi bitmiş, ruhumun ise emilmiş olduğunu hissediyorum.”, der Malis bezgin bir sesle. “Bunca yıl sergilediğim tembelliğim, yapmacık olmayan tek yanım.”

“Karaya ayak basınca kendinize gelirsiniz.”, der Barakan. “Burada kalacak isek, öncelikle kendimize savunulabilir bir kale inşaa etmemiz lazım. Bir yandan da üç ada hakkında ayrıntılı bilgi edinmemiz gerek. Dahası, yerli halkın söylediği kadarıyla, hemen kuzeyimizde, iki günlük bir mesafede, ana kıta varmış.”

“Karaya ayak bastığımız bu nokta, ana kale için ideal bir koy, efendim. Yerli halkın söyledikleri doğruysa, kalemizin, ana kıtadan gelebilecek tehditleri görebilecek ve karaşılayabilecek gücü ve konumu olmalı. Adanın başka neresine yaparsak yapalım kalemizi, düşmana bize sadece denizden değil, karadan da saldırma şansını vermiş oluruz o kadar.”, diye düşünceli bir şekilde konuşur Malis.

“Bu doğru. Mühendislere bu koy için plan çıkarmalarını isteyeceğim. Bu sırada Kaptan Hammerson gemiyle üç adanın da çevresini dolaşıp, oradaki halklarla iletişime geçecek. Senin işin ise, buradaki adamlarımızı ve bize katılmak isteyen yerel halkı organize etmek olacak.”, der Barakan.

Malis başıyla onaylar ve yeni görevinin ilk gününe başlar.

 

Tayfa ile adada yaşayan insan, dwarf ve orman eflerinden  oluşan yerli halkın kaynaşması çok uzun sürmez ve bir kaç kısa ay içerisinde üç adada da organize güvenlik ağı oluşturulur.

Bunu takip eden aylarda ise, adına Kronor denilen ve Adalar Krallığının başkenti olacak olan kale yükselmeye başlar.

Üç adada da yollar yapılır ve bütün halk, beklenmedik bir refah seviyesine ulaşır..

 

“Herkes burada.. Güzel.”, der Malis, inşaası hala devam eden kalenin ‘Kraliyet Toplantı Odasında’.

“Bu önemli olsa iyi olur, Malis!”, diye homurdanır, The Attest’in yeni kaptanı Hammerson. “Şu anda denizde, devriyede olmam gerekiyordu. Ana kıtada iki şehir var Asyrmeriad Krallığına bağlı ve bizim bu üç adamız onların iştahını kabartıyor. Buraya gelmemelerinin tek sebebi gemi diye bindikleri o küçük kayıklar. Ardarda sekiz tanesinin üstünden The Attest ile geçince yenilerini göndermediler daha ama bu da sadece an meselesi. The Attest dışında yeni kalyonlara ve denizcilere ihtiyacımız olacak.”

“Bakıyorum kendine uygun bir eğlence bulmuşsun, Hammerson.”, der Barakan gülerek.

Hammerson omuzlarını silker.

“Alternatifi buraya gelip yağmalama yapmalarıydı.”, der iri cüsseli kaptan.

“Kalenin şu anki kritik inşaası biter bitmez bir tersane kurulumuna başlayacağız.

Şimdi, seni dinliyoruz, Malis.. Yapılacak onca iş varken beni ve kaptanı neden buraya, bu gizli toplantı için çağırdın?”, diye sorar Barakan.

 

Malis hemen konuşmaz.

Bir süre düşüncelerini toparlamaya çalışıyormuş gibi sessizce olduğu yerde durur ve önünde duran iki adamı da süzer, ondan sonra konuşmaya başlar.

 

“Bu duyacaklarınız aramızda kalmalı. Özellikle bizim çocuklar bunu öğrenirlerse moralleri fena halde bozulabilir.. geri dönüşü olmayacak şekilde.”, diye uyarır Malis.

Barakan ve Hammerson hayretle Baş Danışmana bakar.

“Arsanos..”, der Malis. “Artık yok!”

“Ne?”, der Kaptan Hammerson. “Öldü mü?”

“Evet.”, der Malis sessizce.

“Bunu nereden öğrendin, el’Vi?”, diye kaşları çatılı bir şekilde sorar Barakan. “Adada Tarael’den birileri mi var?”

“Hayır, efendim, Tarael’de yok artık!”, der Malis aynı kısık sesle.

“Nasıl?”, diye ünler Hammerson. “Saldırıya mı uğramışlar?”

“Bunu nasıl açıklayacağımı bilmiyorum, efendim.”, der Malis ve Barakan’a bakar. “Bu adaya ilk geldiğimizden beri yerli halk ile iletişim içerisindeyim, biliyorsunuz. Onlardan bir çok ilginç şey öğrendim ve bazılarını, bu geçtiğimiz aylar içerisinde bir araya getirdim.”

“Açıkla.”, der Barakan.

“İlk geldiğimizde, buradaki tarih ile bizimkisi arasındaki anormal yıl fakını merak etmiştik, hatırlarsınız. Kafa karışıklığı olmaması ve yerli halk ile daha uyumlu olmamız açısından ve bizim için de yazması çok daha kolay olduğu için, onların takvimi kullanmaya başladık.”

“Evet.”, der Hammerson. “Üç rakam yazması, beş rakam yazmasından çok daha kolay.”

“Peki, iki takvimin de B.Y.S. —Büyük Yıkım Sonrasından itibaren başladığına da hiç dikkat ettiniz mi?”, diye sorar Malis el’Vizier.

 

Barakan da, Hammerson da öylece baka kalırlar, Malis’e.

 

“İşin ilginci, iki ‘Büyük Yıkım’ öncesinde de muazzam, dev ejderhalar hakimmiş dünyaya ve sonra, iki takvimde de, birden ortadan kaybolmuşlar. Hayatta kalanlar, o mutlu günü, ‘Büyük Yıkım Sonrası’ olarak ve Yıl 1 diye geçmişler. Bizim ‘Büyük Yıkım’ımız, 18,998 yıl önce gerçekleşti.. Yada o terihlerde.. ‘Yeni Yıkım’ ise bu adadakiler ve dünyanın gerisi için ise sadece 168 yıl önce gerçekleşti..”, der Malis ve bunları söylerken yüzü kerpiç gibi olmuştur.

“Ne demek oluyor peki bu şimdi?”, diye hayretle ve hafif tırsmış bir ifadeyle sorar Hammerson.

“Bunun anlamı, Kaptan, bizim bildiğimiz yada bildiğimizi sandığımız hiçbir ülke, dağ, dere, deniz, orman —özetle ‘coğrafya’, artık yok! Dahası, biz on üç yıl kayıp olmadık denizde. Biz, 168 yıl ve Kadim Ejderlerin dünyaya tekrar çıkmaları, sonra da yine ortadan kalkmaları sonrasına ne kadar yüz, yada bin yıl geçtiyse, o kadar zamandır kayıp idik denizde.. Nasıllığını sormayın çünkü bilmiyorum. İşin o kısmı beni fazlasıyla aşıyor..”, der Malis, omuzları çökmüş bir şekilde.

 

Kraliyet Toplantı Odasına ağır bir sessizlik çöker.

Hammerson, gözleri fal taşı gibi açılmış, bir Malis’e, bir de Barakan’a bakar.

Barakan’ın da yüzü çekilmiştir.

 

“Bu sonuca nasıl vardın?”, der Barakan en sonunda.

“Bulgularım, üç çuval dolusu edindiğim bilgilerin bir araya getirilmiş hali, efendim. Yerli halktan, özellikle dwarf ve elflerden edindiğim bilgiler bunlar. Üç adadaki, bir birleriyle daha önce kavgalı olan kabile ve ailelerin hem fikir oldukları yegane şey de bu. Yer atında doğupta, yer sarsıntılarının bitmesi sonucunda yer üstüne ve gün ışığına çıkmış olanlar var aralarında ve sayıları hiç de azımsanmayacak kadar çok bunların. Aralarında ‘şanslı’ olan sadece insanlar, sanırım. Bizim muhatap olduklarımız en az yedi-sekiz jenerasyondan beridir yer üstünde doğmuşlar.”

“Bu.. hayret verici bir bulgu, Malis. Ve bunları başkalarıyla paylaşmamış olmanız yapılabilecek en akıllıca şeydi.”, der Barakan ve düşünceli bir şekilde kaşlarını çatar. “Peki Kadim Ejderlerin neden dünyayı yakıp yıktıklarını biliyor muyuz? Yada neden bir anda kaybolup gittiklerini?”

Malis buna omuzlarını silkerek cevap verir.

“Yıkımın gerçekleşmesi ile sona ermesi arasında geçen zamanın bile ne kadar sürdüğünü bilmiyoruz, efendim. Ancak bunu araştıracağım. Yıkım öncesine ait bilgiler, kırıntı seviyesinde bile değil ve yer altında doğmuş olup 168 yıldır da yer yüzünde yaşayan en eski elf grubundan en kıdemli olan üç elf de kardeşmişler sanırım. İkisi kız, biri erkek..

Diğer elflerden farklı olarak, bu küçük elf grubu orman elfi değil, high elflerden oluşuyorlar. Üç high elf kardeş, adalardaki bütün elflerin ve dwarfların saygı duyduğu şahıslar. Üçünün de yaşları, altıyüz küsür ile yedi yüz arasında. Ki bu da söz konusu yıkım sürecinin en az dört ile beş yüz yıl olmuş olduğunu söylüyor bize. Bu da, söz konusu üç elf kardeşin de yer altında doğmuş oldukları gerçeğini gözardı ettiğimizde..”

“Kim bu elfler?”, diye sorar Barakan.

“İsimleri; Terandel Solace, Sinderel Tranquil ve Elorellen Feymist. Elfler ve bazen de dwarflar, soy isimlerini kişisel özelliklerine göre alıyorlar. Bir nevi kişisel sıfat gibi. Kardeşlerin soy isim farklılıkları bundan kaynaklanıyor.”, der ve susar.

“Üçünü de buraya, aileleriyle beraber hürmetle davet et. Onlar sadece halkımız değiller. Bu, ‘Yeni’ Yıkım Sonrası açısından da tarihî birer şahitler ve onların bilgeliğine ihtiyacımız olacak. Gerekiyorsa kaleye onlar için ayrı bir kanat ekleriz, mahremiyetlerine saygı gösterilmesi için.”, der Barakan ve düşünceli bir şekilde ikisini de süzer. “Bu bilgiler aramızda kalacak. Medeniyetler, bir gün yıkılacakları kati bilgisi üzerine ilerleyemezler.. Herkes panik yaşar ve sosyal düzen namına bir şey kalmaz..”

 

Daha kendisine ‘kral’ denmesine alışamamış olan The Attest’in eski kaptanı Barakan uzun bir süre Hammerson ve Malis’e bakar. Neden sonra sessizce, ancak kati bir sesle konuşur.

 

“Bu bilgileri asla umuma açıklayamayız. Bunu anlıyorsunuz değil mi?”

“Keşke hiç öğrenmemiş olsaydım.”, der Hammerson ekşi bir suratla. “Daha bu sabaha kadar mutlu bir adamdım!”

 

Malis ise sessizliğini korur.

Zira işinin gerektirdiği sorumluluklardan birisi de budur.

Gerçekte halktan bir şeyleri gizlemek, zaten bir komiser olduğu zamanlardan alışkın olduğu bir şeydir.

Aradaki fark, Arsanos ve Tarael’den oldukça farklı olarak bu sır, tepedekilerin değil, umumun hayrı için alınmış bir karardır.

Malis el’Vizier, ister istemez bu nüansın eski ile yeni tarih karşısındaki ‘ederini’ düşünür.

 

 

 

 


 

Küçük high elf grubu, Terandel Solace, Sinderel Tranquil ve Elorellen Feymist önderliğinde yeni kral, Barakan’ın misafiri olarak kaleye gelirler ancak bir temsilci dışında kaleye yerleşmezler.

Kral Barakan’dan, uzun bir yolculuk ve yeni krallığın geleceği için kendilerini ana kıtaya bırakmalarını rica ederler.

Barakan, bu garip, mistik high elflerin ricasını geri çevirmez. Onları, aileleri ve bolca erzakla beraber, Kaptan Hammerson vasıtasıyla ana karaya çıkartır.

Arkada temsilci olarak bırakılan kişi, Arael Ashanelath Fae Erunanne Tel’Lóna, gerçekte Terandel Solace’in kendi öz kızıdır ve Terandel onu Kral Barakan’a bir kraliçe olarak teslim eder.

 

Aradan yüz yıllar geçer ve kardeşlerden en büyüğü olan Terandel, Durkahan şehrinin daha kurulmadığı, Kahan Dağlarının güneyinde, üç yanı yüksek dağlarla çevrili yoğun ormanların olduğu bir yerde, Solace adında bir high elf şehri kurar.

Daha doğuda, High Woods adındaki büyük çam ormanlığında ise, kardeşlerden en küçüğü, Elorellen Feymist, Bari Na-ammen adında bir başka high elf şehri kurar. Aradan binlerce yıl geçecek ve Elorellen’in soyundan, Ri Grandaleren ve Prenses Alor’Nadien ne (Lorna) Feymist, Angrellen ve Anglenna Sunsear gelecektir.

Ortanca kardeş, Sinderel ise çok daha kuzeye gider ve Büyük Kuzey Tundralarında, Kutsal Celestial Dağının neredeyse eteklerinde, Tranquil adında bir high elf şehri kurar.

Ve bu şekilde, yüz yıllar önce Kral Barakan’a verdikleri sözü ve vaadi yerine getirirler. Üç kardeş ve onların torunları binlerce yıl Adalar Krallığının ana kıtadaki omurgasını oluşturacaklardır.

 

Büyük Yıkım Sonrası, elflerin ilk yer yüzüne çıktıkları gece dünyaya gelen, ve bu sebepten dolayı kendisine uğurlu bir isim olarak Yıl Bir’in Kalbi, Arael Ashanelath Fae, ve Adaların Zarafeti, Eruanna Tel’Lóna anlamlarını taşıyan güzel high elf kraliçe sayesinde kraliyet ailesinin nesilleri insanlardan çok daha uzun ve sağlıklı yaşayan krallardan oluşacaktır.