Remarl Got Drunk

“Remarl Got Drunk” was a piece started by Remarl that turned into a long story based in the lore of Guild Wars co-written by members of Marked Souls. The following members contributed to the story: Remarl, Raven, Kousei, and Lyne.

Chapter 01: Remarl Got Drunk

by Remarl

So, Remarl’s sittin’ under the pier, over in Sanctum Cay, just sippin’ his grog [ie. guzzling it down like there's no tomorrow]. It’s nice and cool there in the shade of the pier; a great spot to mull things over not to mention get rip-roaring drunk. This shady spot also has the benefit of keeping Remarl out of sight from the watchful eyes of White Mantle patrols who are, walking around in the hot sun, policing the area.

Everything would have been fine except this one lazy White Mantle Savant comes sneeking over to get out of the sun and away from his patrol duty. Spying Remarl, he calls his patrol group over. “You’re gonna get it now” says the Savant. Remarl tilts his head to peer at the fellow “gets me ‘nother bot’le o’ grog an’ I’ll forgive ye fer disturbin’ me” says Remarl. The fellow grabs at the bottle thinking to punish Remarl and reward himself at the same time. About then one of the other patrolmen reaches the scene and starts helping his fellow out by grabbing the bottle as well. Now this is a bit too much for any selfrespecting Mesmer to take sitting down. Remarl yanks back on the bottle which throws the two guards off balance. He then pulls his sword out using the upward motion of the pommel to crush the Savants’ jaw followed by a downward thrust to pierce his heart. Taking advantage of the other fellows’ surprise, Remarl activates Illusionary Weaponry and in a series of slices almost too quick to follow takes the other man down.

The other two guards arrive at a distance to see their comrades laying at the Mesmers feet. An evil purplish glow on Remarls sword accompanied by the glazed gleem from his one eye decides the two to get reenforcements. Remarl rushes the guards who drop gear and beat it over the sand into the narrow channel between the mainland and the island which is being used as a White Mantle Army post.

Remarl looks blearily at the two swimmers and using a grog fogged mind decides to pirate the large skiff tied to the pier to go after the White Mantle guards. It takes a bit of Remarls’ skill to pilot the craft across the channel by himself, but the stash of extra grog found onboard helps.

He arrives on a small beach of the island and catches sight of two sets of footprints leading off to a jungle trail. In a very foul mood, Remarl grabs his sword (his wand being drunkingly forgotten in storage back on the mainland) and heads off to fight the White Mantle Army for disturbing his drinking and ruining a decent buzz!

Fortunately for our crazy Mesmer he is stopped on the beach by some friends from his alliance who ended up on this same beach for reasons of their own.

by Raven

Allorathine Raven is running with supplies to add to her stash of grog onboard the boat docked at Sanctum Cay. She has purchased a large shipment of grog to be transported to her Monument Hall for safe keeping. She is having shipments of alcohol come in from Cantha, Tyria, and Elona all due to arrive in her hall (and ultimately her tummy) at virtually the same time. When Allorathine arrives ahead of schedule, via Ursan speed boost, with her arms full from a large bottle of Juniberry Wine, she is just in time to see her hired transport leave the dock.

“By the finger of Grenth! Where do they think they’re going? I have eight more of these bottles to go and get from Lions Arch. Allorathine waves over one of the henchmen lining the beach; “I’ll pay you fifty gold to watch this for me till I return…I need to catch that boat that’s leaving before it gets too far.” The henchman agrees, and with a nod Allorathine is off running after her transport. She needs to catch that boat not only because it holds her precious alcohol, but also her Destroyer weapons are onboard that ship and she is not about to go through what she had to the first time to get another set! She plows into the water at a dead (undead?) run. Allorathine hopes she can reach the transport skiff before it catches the wind or current in the middle of the channel. It’s then that she notices the boat is moving kind of erratically as if the captain is drunk or has a newbie crew. Perhaps there is some hope after all. She takes a deep breath and starts swimming fiercely towards the skiff whose apparent destination is the opposite shore of the channel. Bouyed by her magical Fissure armor, she reaches the side of the boat just as it runs up onto the small beach. She climbs over the side to get to her weapons so she can deal with any unknown interlopers who might be between her and her alcohol. Grabbing her weapons quickly, she then hops off the boat and sees…”is that! … Remarl?!?!” The Mesmer is swaying from side to side looking into the trees at the beachhead. “By the finger of Grenth! So help you if you’ve touched even one drop of my shipment of alcohol you’ll be So very sorry you did! What are you doing here anyway?”

by Kousei

After a long journey, he finally sees the island spoken of by Livia. Ever since Kousei’s decision to embrace the necrotic arts he has been searching for ways to increase his command of them and according to Livia the ruins here contain the secret to doing so. “It all comes down to this,” he thought to himself as he gazed upon the island and the barely visible ruins deep within it.

It all started during Kousei’s recent adventures in the Asuran territory. He realized that his warrior skills alone would not get him through the battles ahead. After having trained in all of the arts of Tyria, Cantha, and Elona, Kousei decided that the duality of necrotic blood arts would suit his style well. In the weeks following that decision, Kousei trained furiously and every day he increased his understanding of how to empower himself using the blood of his enemies.

His knowledge of the skills of blood necromancy was also increasing daily but after travelling deep into the Shiverpeaks to gain the secrets of Well of Power, he knew there had to be other skills with this sort of power. His journey for these more powerful elite skills took him to all 3 continents and the journey would end here. After visiting these ruins, he would master blood magic.

As the boat reached the shore, Kousei began to see the threatening stone statues and engravings that scattered the area. He knew these were to serve as warnings to those who would attempt to proceed towards the ruins and he unconsciously tightened his grip on his sword. Livia had warned him of the dangers to be faced by those that would seek the power of these ruins. “I better watch my step,” he muttered aloud and silently began to question his decision to make this trip alone.

“The trip which led to the ruins was pleasantly uneventful,” Kousei thought to himself as he could see the ruins only a little ways off. The usual jungle creatures crossed his path but nothing which would match the seriousness of Livia’s warning. “Move it! Confessor Dorian wants the secrets of these ruins yesterday!” said a voice heard in the distance and Kousei quickly froze and crouched down. He approached slowly the rest of the way only to see a battalion of White Mantle scouring the ruins.

Without the others, Kousei would be no match for all of them. “These guys are starting to annoy me…” he thought as he recalled how many times he and his friends had been made to go through White Mantle. Almost without thinking, Kousei began to scout the area as he slowly circled the ruins. The battalion was scattered over the entire complex and it may be possible to separate a few at a time but the possibility was still there of bringing the entirety of them down upon him.

His plans would have to wait though as he knew that if he were to have any chance it would have to be by moonlight and the sun was still high in the sky. “No point in doing anything but resting until then,” he quietly whispered aloud settled on never leaving on another journey alone again. Kousei had seen a section of ruins which was well hidden to the rear of the main entrance and best of all it had gone unnoticed by the Mantle. As he entered his would be camp, he looked around to see find a good place to hide. He entered the next room and was amazed to see murals depicting necromancers using many of the skills that he had travelled world to learn. “Maybe I’ll take a better look around this place.” he thought. He continued deeper into the ruins and realized that he would soon be under the main temple that the White Mantle scoured so feverously. He was enthralled by what he saw more and more every room and was amazed that the builders of these ruins had knowledge of every single one of the skills of necrotic blood magic.

The last room must have been 9 or 10 rooms in and was much more elaborate than the previous. It contained carvings, statues, and in the center of the back wall was a single, waste high, heavily inscribed pedestal. Kousei approached the pedestal and instant focused on the engravings, no channels, carved into the top. The channels seemed drain into the wall behind. Kousei studied the pedestal and remembered that only one skill was depicted in the previous room: Offering of Blood. “Could this be the altar of the last blood magic elite skill on my quest?” he thought. He was not going to leave this place until he tried and he quickly cast Offering of Blood. His blood seemed to empower the pedestal and as it reached the drain into the wall the altar in the center of the room moved. Kousei could see an opening underneath no but the altar would not budge. He reached into his belt pouch and pulled out his Signet of Strength as he smiled to himself.

The room underneath was simple and plain except for the wall directly across from the staircase that was entirely covered by a mirror. As he gazed into the mirror, his reflection changed and spoke, “you who have come for the power of these ruins must first overcome its power.” When the voice stopped, a Doppelganger stepped out of the mirror as Kousei quickly jumped back and armed himself. Instinctively, Kousei swung his sword only to see it pass directly through the ghostlike Doppelganger. The Doppelganger spoke an incantation and Kousei could feel the life being drained from him as the Doppelganger seemed to feed off of it. He had felt these affects before but never to this extent. No one had a Life Siphon so powerful. He thought aloud, “This must be the final elite skill, Life Transfer.”

His mind whirled. He knew at this rate he wouldn’t last long against the Doppelganger. He quickly cast the only spell that he knew of that would save him: Vampiric Spirit. As the life ran back into him, he knew what he had to do. Life stealing blood magic was the only thing that affected the Doppelganger. Using Life Siphon and Vampiric Spirit to keep himself alive, Kousei cast Soul Leech and concentrated on staying out of touch range to enforce the effects of Soul Leech. Being a warrior, Kousei had to conserve his energy and the battle seemed to last an eternity.

Both participants were beginning to weaken but Kousei knew that if he didn’t finish this battle soon then it very well may be his last. Then he recognized the incantation for Blood Renewal. “This is it!” he though. Kousei quickly ran up and cast Vampiric Bite and Vampiric Touch. The Doppelganger stumbled back a step then crouched. “You have proven your worth,” said the Doppelganger as he stepped back into the mirror and was gone. Kousei could barely stand but his first thought was “how do I capture the skill Life Transfer?” Before he could finish his thought, the room began to give off a dark green glow. “The room itself,” Kousei said to himself as he quickly used his last Signet of Capture.

Awakening the next day, Kousei began to think about how to handle the White Mantle surrounding the ruins. He knew he could not let them find what he had the day before. He was still weak and he decided that the best course of action was to go back for help and return to finish the White Mantle threat.

As he returned to the beach, he overheard a small group of maybe 2 or 3 White Mantle in a hurry to “warn the others of intruders coming.” Upon hearing this, Kousei quickly decided to test his new skill. The Mantle quickly turned to fight as their life began draining from them. As his adrenaline began pumping, Kousei lunged out of the jungle brush to finished the first with a single Sun and Moon Slash and then made quick work of the second with a Barbarous Slice and Gash combo. He hid the two in the jungle brush and continued toward the beach staying parallel to the main path.

Upon reaching the beach, he was extremely surprised to see Remarl and Allorathine arguing about spirits. Kousei entered the conversation with “If he did touch your shipment, he had better share because after the last two days I need a drink!”

by Lyne

The dunes were where she made her life, and had a tough upbringing, wurms devastated her homeland, and she became a hermit. In her travels through the tough territory she met an elder Shaman, who shared some of his secret potions and salves that healed the deepest wounds. She took the counsel of the Wurka tribe in the caves near the desolation and learned the skills of combat. She sat in devotion in the temples of Dwana and was given the gift of protection after fasting for 28 days. She trained on the shores of Tyria with an Alchemist who showed her the ways of the words and made her practice incantations.

When she reached maturity she was still seeking the wisdom of the stars, and realized that had she known everything there is to know about healing, there would still be the human soul that eluded her. So she decided to forfeit her life of loneliness and give of herself to the helpless and needy.

After her years of travel she came to know the Tyrian desert dwellers and they welcomed her in their midst. Her gift of healing made her useful to the tribes so Amani settled with them and provided wisdom and care for the needy. Even in the company of their festivals and fetes, she still craved her sanctuary, her thoughtful meditations. Her sacrifice of love was always made at the oasis of life in the small desert town where she always wonders at human nature, and is always in awe of it’s strength and beauty.

Then came the day where they called upon her and sat in a council. The tribe leader talked to her of the danger of the western shores, and his kin sent him a massage that he needed help to renew the hope of his tribe in the fight against slavery in that realm. She was shocked at the power that the enemy wielded… making minions, and controlling them… killing peasants savagely, and the ones who did not fight were taken into slavery mining for gold and silver in the caves of the Shiverpeaks. This, to her, was devastating, as she did not believe that humans could be so vicious as to kill their own kind. She did not believe that humans can perform genocide and slavery. The tribe leader asked her if she could go and lend her gifts and teach the people how to heal as she healed with the words of wisdom from Dwana. The salves and potions were a good source, but throughout time, she was able to contrive a sanctified way to change even those into words of power and energy that would heal from afar, and she was very adept at it. Even as she spoke to the tribe leader, she was not sure she could go, because she did not believe that Dwana had given her that gift for it to fall into the hands of the enemy. She asked for time. Time to meditate, time to ask, time to seek the wisdom of life and death. She sat for days at her meditation spot where she prayed and sang.

After three days she received Dwana’s blessing. She was to go and help the people in the west, help them learn to heal with the sanctified words, so that they may protect the innocent, and heal the defenders.

She was granted passage on a trade ship going west, and said her good byes with tears of regret and joy. Whilst on board, she contemplated how she could help the tribe in delivering their citizens from the claws of slavery. She felt that she was ill equipped to do so without the help of warriors and combatants. So she devoted the rest of the trip in supplication and exaltation to Dwana in expectation to have the answer when the time is right.

The ship captain did not want to land on the dangerous shores on the western side of the island, so he provided her with a small boat to take her there and she was on her own again. She then arrived at the shores of the island where the beasts of darkness and malicious intents lived. She encountered a few lightning drakes on the beach, but she was able to protect herself, and she eluded them easily.

She walked a short time before encountering two men and a woman on the beach. One of the men wore heavy armor and shocking red hair styled in pony tail of all things, the other looked like a dignified sorcerer, but seemed to be very tipsy and wielded a sword emanating a purple aura. As for the woman, she looked like a powerful dark witch of the time of old. The witch seemed quite upset at the sorcerer and was pointing her finger at him accusingly. Amani was not sure how to perceive them, were they friends, or foes?

Chapter 02: A Meeting of Friends

by Remarl

Now, as you know, a Mesmer is quick on his feet. They HAVE to be fast at everything, because EVERYONE is out to get them during combat. Remarl is no slouch Mesmer and prides himself on doing his part better than anyone could ask. Kousei, his Guild Leader, is here. “I can’t have him seeing me like this,” thinks Remarl. Plus, there are two beautiful women on this beach. “And there be wenches to impress here too; time to stand tall mate. Women are always impressed by a well dressed man, and ye, ye sly fox, ye have on yer Monument armor. AAARRR ye be well dressed AND dangerous lookin’. They’ll most likely fall all over themselves fer ye!” Remarl smiles to himself. Remarl twists the handle of his shield in a certain way and the dazed drunken feeling slips away fast. If thar be any spirits to be had on yon vessel I had but the briefest of sips, ter determine vintage of course” says Remarl as he salutes his leader.

“Allorathine, I must tell ye, my sweet, ye must be more careful who ye hire fer yer transport; as I saw two or three bottles of yer fine grog missing from the case. Probably, if ye find the captain of yon vessel ye’ll find yer spirits.” Remarl says. “She be better lookin’ everytime you see her, don’t she mate. Maybe she be plannin’ it like that” Remarl lets an aristocratic smile show for the attractive Necromancer. “Actually, the more likely occurance was the White Mantle arrested yer transport captain and were helpin’ themselves to the booty as I saw no one aboard when I pirated…er…absconded with…er…appropriated! YARR! As I was sayin’, I took yon boat ter fetch after them ones what got away from me and only ‘ad the tiiiiiiiiiiniest o’ drops from yer stash as afformentioned.” “Why she alookin’ at me like I upended the boat and gulpped down contents entire?”

“M’lady, forgive me fer not introducing m’self to ye” Remarl says as he bows to the Monk. “I am Remarl, Mesmer extrordinare. If I am not known to ye, then ye must come from very deep in the desert as yer skin-tone suggests.” “This here,” indicating the Warrior, “be our illustrious Leader of the Marked Souls Guild, Kousei.” “And, this wickedly beautiful lady is Allorathine.” “If Allorathine ever drop off yer charts, maybe ye’ll ‘ave a chance wi’ this’n. Ah, desert flowers…” “By yer dress I take ye as a Monk” says Remarl, “A Monk! Hey, alright! Ye never done that!” “and not being with the White Mantle makes ye an ally with us, if only by circumstance.” “An ally for good if Kousei has anything to say about it and, hopefully, a fine addition to yer Hall of Monuments, ‘ey mate.”

“Kousei, I was here on personal business doin’ a wee bit o’ tearin’ after. Legitimate it were too. The White Mantle were tryin’ ter do a bit o’ snatchin’ the bottle from yers truly. I showed five or six o’ ‘em the fastest way to meet Grenth and the rest made hasty get thee gone to this place ‘ere. However, I shall differ to ye, my stalwart leader, on what ‘appens next. Although, I der consider the White Mantle to be a nuisance of the most dastardly sort and should they all meet Grenth, and ‘ave to lick the fungus from under ‘is toenails today, the world would be a brighter place.” “Me wonders what ‘personal reasons’ brings Kousei to this island. last we talked he were going on and on about the newest of Necromancer magicks, Blood Magic.”

by Raven

“Remarl, I know you and your tiiiiiniest sip has the tiiiiiiniest bit of truth to your whole story. You were swaying like a wisp a second ago, you drunken pirate. Although, apparently you’re fine now!” “How did he do that? He pulled some slick Mesmer trick there and you know it. One of these days I’m going to catch that handsome pirate in the act and make him pay. Yes, a little Life Siphon to the ‘little pirate’ on that Mesmer will teach him, hee hee.” thinks Allorathine.

“Kousei, fancy meeting you here.” says Allorathine, saluting. “I see you have some dust, from the ruins here, on your armor. You know know you can’t hide anything to do with dead or undead things from me. And, is that blood I smell? Have you been up to no good again?” she smiles wickedly. “I know he just captured a Blood Magic elite spell, I can smell it on him, he reeks pleasantly of it, but which one I wonder?”

Allorathine prefers the new Blood Magic to the old Curses or even the oldest of Necromancer magics, Death Magic. Blood Magic just seems so much more practical than the old magic; having the advantage of taking the life force directly out of your enemy and infusing it into yourself. And, oh, the power and energy released from the enemies’ soul when he dies! What a pleasure it is to reap that energy out of a death.

Allorathine bows to the Monk at Remarl’s introduction. “Who do we have here? Hmmm? Can she keep this party alive while we slaughter our foes?”

“Kousei, I hope you will convince this new Monk to join our guild.” “I hope she does better than the last Monk we had; I still can’t believe he went running off after we all came back to life at the Resurrection Shrine. The little chicken-shit. If I ever see THAT Monk again I’ll show him a REAL death…HIS!” “You know we need a Monk to replace the last one that left us.”

“If she doesn’t work out, I can always use her bones to make a couple of minions. She looks desert born though, so she’ll probably be tough Monk..I hope so. Just stay on my good side miss desert Monk girl. You don’t want to see my bad side. There’s no one left alive who’s seen my bad side. Unless you call being a Bone Fiend equal to having a life.”

by Kousei

[turns to the monk] As Remarl said, I am the leader of our motley band of soldiers. I would like to request your aid on our upcoming endeavor. Please give this request thought while I explain the situation to all of you.

[turns to Allorathine] I can’t hide anything from you can I? Life Transfer made quick work of the two that got away from Remarl. [turns to Remarl] They were headed back to warn a full battalion of your presence my friend. My guess is they were out to gather alcohol for the rest of their friends when you interrupted their raid. I almost wish you would have let them. Our task would have a bit easier to handle them if they were all impaired.

[speaking to the group]
From the looks of it, the Mantle are looking for the same ruins that I found Life Transfer within. They must have seen the Mursaat using the spell and wanted the power for themselves. I think you’ll agree when I say we cannot let them find any aid in their fight.

The bad news is that we’re up against a full battalion. The good news is that we have a lot of factors working for us. I scouted the area and the battalion is spread across the entire ruin which should make it easy to take out a few at a time if we can keep them separated. Also, the forest is extremely dense thick and almost totally engulfs the ruins so we should be able to move unseen. And last but not least, they still do not know of our presence.

I do not know what kind of scouting the battalion is doing. It seemed that they were solely focused on finding the secrets of the ruins. I’d like to act quickly on this in case they have scouts. If we are found out, we lose more than the element of surprise. I want them fighting on our terms not us on theirs. If we act quickly, we can thin them out so that if we are found out the momentum shift won’t be so harsh on us.

Oh and one last thing. Dorian is alive. While I was scouting the ruins, a Mantle soldier said he was the one who wanted the secrets of the ruins. I should have put my sword through his heart when I had the chance at Thunderhead….
[turns to the monk] So are you in?

by Lyne

“This mesmer has wit on top of charisma and intelligence. How does he go through life like that?” thought Amani as she looked at him.

“Absconded? Appropriated?” She laughed internally as he was swaying still lightly from side to side and, thinking very fast on how to bury his…. connivance, stealth of words and spirit snatching (hummm that could be an interesting skill to try and find an incantation for), whilst looking very dutiful and honorable. “I like this combination of confidence, and trust he has in himself.” She had a hard time hiding her smile, only a slight quirk on the corner of her lips formed, but she had to lower her eyelids, lest her amusement showed in her eyes.

As Remarl introduced the rest of the party, she bowed her head in way of acknowledgement of the introduction. She waited patiently as they were introducing themselves and waited to be addressed again while observing the group’s interactions.

“Allorathine is perceptive, though she cannot see the remnants of Remarl’s inebriation, she knows him well enough to see through his tricks, I wonder if I would be able to sleep in a camp with these two around, they seem like a fun loving duet. Their leader Kousei seems quite straightforward. He already scouted the area, he seems to have plans that are not in tandem with mine but…” as she was listening to Kousei and gently touching each one’s aura with her spirit, she felt a blast of energy and adrenaline, as well as a grasp of old blood that reached into her heart and almost stopped it. In that moment a vision was set upon her and it excised an event from the future. She succumbed to the power of that revelation, and lost all power in her legs, and fell in a heap at Kousei’s feet. He had just asked her if she would like to join them.

It took a moment for Kousei to react “she had not said a word yet.” thought he. He immediately knelt down and he put his hand helping to support her back. Remarl quickly used his magical senses to ascertain that it was not an attack from hiding enemies. Allorathine looked down at the almost fainting monk and thought “She fainted when he asked her to come along, is she really a monk?” her eyebrows raised and her face showed skepticism.

Amani was needless to say, aghast. “What type of impression am I making to those people, I must learn to not prod until a few days after I have traveled with people like that. Although there is no doubt that people of that caliber might be involved in events that might shift the powers of this existence. This universe as it stands seems to be moving in many directions. I am glad I suffered this strong sight. Is what has been prophesied in our tribe going to be manifest? Oh, by the power of Dwana, am I to be part of it…? let it not be. I cannot ignore this, I shall have to travel with them and find out which one of them carries the burden, even though it might carry me away from my goals. The hand of life takes precedence”

Amani helped by Kousei and Remal to her feet, brushed the sand off her skirt, and legs. She then gave the greeting of the halcyon, by putting her palm against her heart and then extending her arm with the palm of her hand toward Kousei, Remarl and Allorathine, as if giving her heart, a gift for their souls. With that she said, “May the light of Dwana shines upon you, my name is Amani, named hope of our tribe of old Argajin in the deserts of the Wurms.” With that, she then bowed hear head slightly.

Kousei, Remarl and even Allorathine were astounded by her speech and voice, they were almost struck by its texture and fluency. They stood there trying to catch their breath from the power of her words, yet, they were only words. The group just could not understand why they were affected that way. It was as if they were getting drunk on her words.

She stood there, and for them it was as if time stood still, then it moved in very slow motion, her smile came, and her eyes shone with a light and it filled their souls with gladness, power and confidence. She said more words. “I will join you in your mission, but I would hope for your help to find the kin of the tribes in the east desert, their people need my help. You will get used to my voice, I am a healer, and I shall protect you, but you have to also defend me, my healing powers are not as effective on myself as they are on you. You shall also get used to the sensations you are getting now from my voice. I shall follow you, and I shall answer questions later”. She inclined her head again to Kousei, and when she lifted her brow, he had just gotten out of his feeling of being watered by a cool spring rain that removed any doubts that he may have had about her.

Chapter 03: Astra’s Experience

by Remarl

Just down the way from Figo’s pier in Lions Arch you’ll find a tidy little spot tunnled into the hillside. The only remarkable thing about this place is the small red lamp hanging, hidden from plain view from the walkway, in what one would speculate to be the smallest window in all of Tyria. While, at first glance, this place appears to be a small beachshack for private use; it is, in fact, a thriving business. The headboard over the doorway boasts four words written in Old Krytan, whice almost everyone doesn’t use anymore, “Den of the Lioness”.

The front room of “Den of the Lioness”, or just ‘Lioness’ for regulars, is a small bar where you can find your pleasure with almost any alcoholic beverage you could wish for. The Lioness’ real business takes place in the backrooms, which are so well secluded as to be unknown to any who haven’t actually been in them.

Astra knows about these rooms in back. He’s been to the ‘Lioness’ many times and often brings gifts to the ladies who work back here. He is well liked among the ladies not only for his gifts and extra large tios that he leaves, but also for his, shall we say, endowment.

Astra has been here for most of this past week without seeing the light of day. He entered here on his birthday and has been semi-imprisoned here since. The ladies have refused his gold and all of his gifts, that is to say except the one gift which they prize most highly. He is currently in Honey’s room, smiling as he’s awakened by her tongue and lips.’Her mouth could resurrect the dead. In truth it has done so, already, a couple of times this week on something I thought was dead.’ A light pressure around his glans widens his smile farthur as he enjoys a wet friction on his meatus. ‘How can she do that’ he wonders. ‘It’s like she has two tongues instead of one!’ Opening his eyes he sees that Amber is also here. “Finally awake again are you?” says Amber. He likes Amber the most; of course he likes anyone the most who’s taking care of him that way.

Diamond stops outside the door. She wished it wasn’t her job to break up the party for Astra. She scratches at the door which is opened by Honey. Diamonds eyes twinkle when she spys Astra’s erect member. ‘By Lyssa’s tits!’ she thinks ‘it’s unfair not to have another go at that!’ “You have an hour.” she says “Madam Celest wishes your presense, Astra, before the hour is up.” ‘The Lioness herself…this must be important’ thought Astra. “Please tell the Celestial Lioness that I will be before her soon, Diamond” he says. Astra uses all his prowess to satisfy the two nymphs in the room before leaving them to dream about his return visits.

“I come at your bidding, Madam Celest” says Astra. “Of course you do” says the Lioness, smiling. “There is a ‘package’ to be delivered to Dorian of the White Mantle on the isle they’re currently using for their outpost. This package is special and alive and She must not come into the hands of Dorian who only means to use her as a sacrifice for his own greater power.” “She?” questions Astra. “Yes, She” the Lioness says “I received information reguarding her transport on the ship called Mantle’s Fury from a Mesmer named Remarl whom I believe you know. He was unable to give me a date and time, only that it would be soon. The Mantle’s Fury has anchored in our harbor and is due to set sail in twenty minutes; which gives you just enough time to swim over and hise yourself onboard to protect her. Once you reach the isle you must come up with a plan to set her free. Remarl left this sealed note for you.” ‘Remarl, that crazy Mesmer, what kind of trouble is he getting me into now?’ Astra opens the note, reading {“Astra, no time to explain. Yer will understand when yer meet ‘er. She must survive! Yers, Remarl” “ps. She is the future!”} “Well, don’t just stand there, get going!” says the Lioness.

‘The things I do for that crazy Mesmer: a midnight swim with no moon through choppy waves and climb aboard a Mantle ship’ thinks Astra. ‘At least the “cargo” isn’t hard to find (big cage on the forecastle covered with a tarp).’ A whisper like a woodland breeze enters his mind “Help me please!” Working his way quietly over to the cage, he secrets himself on the forward side of it, away from prying eyes. “You are the one of whom Remarl spoke, he said you could be trusted to heal me and keep me safe. Do you know the spell ‘Healing Seed’?” “Um, yeah, of course I know it…” says Astra. “It is the only way I can survive the trip. Remarl said you are one with Divine Favor a most powerful Monk. Use the spell continually till we reach land or I will perish” She says, interrupting him. ‘Perish? Plants perish…people die…why would She use that word?’ “Does ‘She’ have a name?” he asks. “I am Sylvar…you may call me Sylvia. I am the first of my kind, though there will be more of us in the future if you are true to your friend and me” She says. “Hush now, someone comes, just keep me healed till we get to the isle.”

Astra spends the next two days healing ‘Sylvia’ through the tarp on her cage and dodging the White Mantle aboard ship. ‘What did she mean she’s the first of her kind? Her kind of what?’ As they near the isle, he spots a smaller boat on shore and a few people stand on the beach. A couple have their backs turned, but he’d recognize his guild leader at any distance. “Kousei, what’s he doing here?” says Astra. Seeing a chance for escape, he unties the knots of the tarp on the cage and pulls it aside. “Can you swim?” he asks. ‘Dwayna’s Kiss! She’s covered with leaves!’ “I am not covered with leaves, they are part of me at this stage of my evolution” she says. “I can swim very well, but the saltwater will hurt me dreadfully to do so. You must keep me healed while I cross the water.” “Not to worry, lady, I can do that.” Astra uses a lockpick to open the cage. “Hurry now, there’s no time to lagg.” he says. The nymph, for certainly she must be, dressed in nothing but leaves, moves to the ships railing and is overboard before Astra can say another word. He casts Healing Seed on here till she is almost out of distance from the ship then leaps into the water himself. He casts and swims and casts and swims till they reach the shore.

“Hey, Kousei” says Astra, saluting. “This is Sylvia; I hope she or Remarl will tell us more about her. Apparently Remarl is already aquainted with her.” Astra looks toward Remarl questioningly.

by Lyne

In the dark recesses of the cargo hold, two hooded forms were crouching. One of them tried to hide a very long bow under the folds of a long cloak. Urgent whispers going back and forth from one hunched figure to the other. When Astra came on board the White Mantle ship, one of the forms crept closer to the cage where their ward was being kept, and then retreated back to their hiding place. They waited until Astra and Sylvia made their escape, one figure stealthily crawled to the deck and made sure they had a safe getaway.

As the crouched form was sneaking back to the cargo bay, it was followed by a sailor, and as the form joined the other in their hiding place, the second seeing the first was being followed, said a few quick words, and turned the sailor to ash in his place before he could utter a cry, it was one of the most powerful spells of fire one could invoke without a lot of noise.

Shocked, Wil removed his hood and gaped at the dust left behind him then joined the figure sitting behind the crate and said “Why did you have to do that?” “Because we cannot have him cry and warn the others.” croaked a voice. Wil knew that this was not her normal voice, he kneeled beside her and lifted her chin, her face was hollow and pale, here eyes did not have the sparkle that usually was there, and her mouth was crooked and filled with remorse. “Dearest Gaile, it surprises me that you feel compassion for your greatest enemies” said Wil, “ That took a lot of energy didn’t it?” “Yes,” she answered trying to tame her voice, “but it was necessary even if he was only a sailor. What about Astra? Did he make it out with Sylvia?” “Yes, do you think she will be safe with him?” he asked with a worried look. “Yes, she will be fine, as long as he does not proposition her that is….” She answered with a lopsided smile. “You know, you singed my cloak?” “Yes, I know, but we will now be able to continue our mission. Now that Astra has Sylvia out of the way, we can try to assassinate Dorian.

After a pause for breath she said “I hope these disguises you stole are going to work.” “Well, yes, but the plan we had must be altered, they are bound to find out that the cage is empty, and when that happens they may search the ship and find us. So we may have to bail out early, and find a way to mingle with the White Mantle priests and then get close enough to Dorian.”

“We will have to see, I need a few hours of rest, let’s hope they don’t find out that she is gone before that. Do you have some water?”

He gave her the last of it, he can do without, and he felt she needed some element to recover faster. After she took a few sips from his wooden canteen she laid down her head and stretched out. He sat cross legged watching her sleep, keeping sentry. How many years have they worked together? She had come to his clan for help in fine tuning her Earth powers, and stayed with them for a time. From then on, the trust between them went both ways. He constructed his trap around them both, and it sprang water all around them, the sound of which was cool to the soul and a murmur of satisfaction came out of her lips as she relaxed more under the covers of his and her cloak. What was it she said when they were in council a few days ago? “Kousei is not here, he went foraging for some blood ritual of some sort”, she said it with an inexplicable frown. She was the one who said we should just go without, that time is of the essence, I wish she was not with me, this is dangerous for her. “She is not the type that could handle a lot of melee attacks, even the lightest slice triggers grunts of pain out of her and she hides behind me” he thought with fondness in his eyes. He took his kit out and started fletching; this process has become a ritual that made him settle and revived all his senses. “If we are going into the lion’s den, then I should have as many of these as possible” he thought. “Why did she insist on coming with me? She knows it could be a one way trip.” He was still thinking of the reason why she insisted on wielding mostly the powers of Ice or Fire, they had so many arguments about that, and yet he knew that she was empowered by those elements, and that the earth element was not her first choice, yet he regretted it. “Things would have been different…” his thought was interrupted by the sound of the anchor being cast.

She opened her eyes suddenly, and stood up quickly, her veins seemed to pump ice blood throughout her body and her long limbs looked like they were carved out of marble. “Let’s use quickness in the commotion”. She quickly leapt out of the cargo hold as if she had wings on her heels. More angry voices were coming from the deck but not near where they were going to bolt out, everyone was busy with the discovery of the escape.

As they got to the deck, it looked like dusk, but Wil knew it was not dusk. “By the power of Melandru, the gods are helping us maybe we will get more aid.” Gaile paused one more time to cast a wind spell, and Wil paused with her. They made their escape without alarm, but now, they had to find a way to get close enough to Dorian and finish the job. They reached another hiding place to get their disguises on, and then mingled with the white mantle awaiting their next opportunity.

Chapter 04: Confessor Dorian

by Remarl

Confessor Dorian enters his comand tentafter his morning spiritual. A little disgruntled because there were only three villagers available to sacrifice; he goes to his table where a scetch of the island is laid out. “Felstaf, come in now” he says, summoning his general. “Are those reports about interlopers on the island true?” “Yes SIR! they come from the ship that bore the Creature and two trusted guardsman from Sanctum Cay confirm it” Felstaf replies. “I want the island swept. All troops spreading from this northeast corner of our basecamp to the opposite side of the island. Use squads consisting of nine Warriors, two Mesmers, two Elementalists, one Ranger, three Monks, two Necromancers, two Assassins, two Dervish, and two Ritualists. The Assassins are to be your advance search party, tell them to use all possible stealth and not to directly confront the interlopers but teleport back to the squad and report. I don’t want anyone breaking ranks on this; we lose too many battles getting all strung out.”

“Deploy the Warriors with axes and Triple Chop builds. The Mesmers are to run Shared Burden and Conjure Nightmare so no one can escape. Use running builds on the Elementalists; they should use Flame Djinns Haste along with Meteor and Mind Blast. The Elementalists do not advance with the squad immediatly, but will run to each of the two nearest squads to enlist their aid. The Rangers are to bring their pet wolves to aid the squad in sniffing out the foe. They will not be doing any fighting. Upon sighting the enemy, they will report directly back here at full speed. Tell them to employ Quicksand before leaving the squad and Dodge and Natural Stride to get here as fast as possible. They may bring Poison Tipped Signet as a last means of defense.”

“I want all our Monks running with Healers Boon with full tilt healing bars. The Necromancers will be augmenting our melee with Order of the Vampire and Order of Pain in addition to their Life Siphon. Use the Dervish to kill any healers first. Have them use Avatar of Lyssa, Heart of Fury, Crippling Sweep, Zealous Sweep, and Pious Haste. The Ritualists will use Wanderlust spirits and ressurect our fallen with Flesh of my Flesh.”

“Fill out the rest of their bars with appropriate skills, Felstaf” Dorian commands. “I want reports back from the Rangers for only three reasons: the ruins are found, the creature is found, or the interlopers are found. Take nine hundred of the troops to this end. Leave one hundred here at base. You have eight hours to get to the other side of the island…if you don’t find them, do a return sweep. Are we clear General Felstaf?” “Yes SIR.” Felstaf replies.

“Go now, I want good news by the end of this day.” General Felstaf starts to leave. “Oh, and Felstaf, . . . . . . . kill them all.”

By Lyne

Gaile and Wil disguised as spiritual priests held their peace at the sacrifice during Dorian’s prayer. Gaile was twitching most of the time, and after the end of it, Wil asked her why she was in that state. “It itches, how did you find disguises that itch in Lyssa’s name?” Gaile responded.

Gaile’s eyes widened with wonder. “That, is what we are looking for, let us hope they lose their way, and have no sense of direction.” Wil had a mischievous look in his eye, “Well, I could help them along if you want”. “No, we really have to consider the risk, we have to assassinate Dorian. I wish we had more with us”. Will calmly replied, “Gaile, if we had more, we could not have infiltrated this camp, we will complete our mission, unto death.” “Unto death” she responded grimly, her face cold and impassable.

They waited until most of the contingent was far into the forest. Wil saw that the direction of the wind is cooperating with them so that noises do not carry to the scattered squadrons. They moved quietly and swiftly out of the large sacrificial area and approached the now lightly guarded command tent. Wil, with a disgusted look flashed a sharp dagger out of his long coat. With it he incised the tent in one quick move and pulled it long all the way down to the ground making an opening for them to enter unseen into Dorian’s tent.

Dorian, kneeling at a low table with his back to the opening did not hear them. His broad back seemed to quiver and tense while a chant like voice continued on. The noise of glass was heard in a sudden quietness, like chimes in a hallowed place. As Will was silently approaching from the back with his daggers at ready to strike, Gaile was trying to see what Dorian was doing. She had an uncomfortable feeling about what was happening. As Dorian was moving to one side reaching out to open what looked like a spice box, she stole a view of what was on the table, and could not muffle a gasp.

At that moment it was as if time stood still. Dorian turned around, and yelled “to me, my people”. Gaile immediately cast a spell that froze him in time, and swiftly pocketed what was in front of him. Wil, with a grunt of dissatisfaction, raised his dagger to strike Dorian, but, his vision was blinded by an enemy elemental entering at the call for help. As troops were spilling into the tent, Gaile, slowed the horde down as the enemy elemental cast an orb to damage Wil, which he dodged at the last second.

Gaile and Wil moved to the opening they had made just a few minutes ago. As they exited, Wil saw a hooded figure running away from the tent and audibly said, “run the other way, we will get together at the point.” He and Gaile ran quickly the other way, Gaile in front, Wil running and stringing his bow. Warriors and bowmen flowed after them through the now gaping opening in the tent some of them pursued the other running figure. Dorian, recovered, boomed with incomprehensible instructions. Gaile was going up an incline saw what looked like bushes beyond the light fog of the morning, she turned around and cast another slowing spell as Wil positioned himself at the peak and started barraging the enemy troops. As the fog cleared, she looked down.

Casting furiously to keep the enemies at bay, she breathlessly said “I have good news, and I have bad news.” Wil, his eyes on the enemy troops in disarray going up the hill and continuously barraging them responded “Tell me the bad news first”

Puzzled Wil turned around and started to look down at a possible way to get to the bottom of the cliff quickly and with the least injury possible. Gaile looking down the hill at the enemy troops saw that Dorian was coming with pomp up the hill. She could not contain her pleasure of seeing him sweaty and tired of the steep walk he had to take. Dorian spoke. “I am aware of what you took from me. But I am willing to forget your impertinence and not kill you and your…. bodyguard. But my patience will be short. I know what you are, I saw your ring, but I could not understand why a descendant of Jabo would introduce herself so crudely to me. Is that what you diminished to? Being a thief, and hiring a body guard, when you are supposed to be lavishly adorned, properly attended to and served with all respect and submission? I will give you all you have lacked, I know you orphaned long ago, but I will reinstate your due power and position in a world that will be created at your feet, my gift to you. Just come down and let’s be friends daughter of Leebah.”

Wil came back with questioning eyes to Gaile “Leebah?” Gaile her eyes closed as if to forget that name changed the subject, “Well what of the cliff?”

Wil did the same with his disguise, and crouching in front of her, seeing that she was visibly getting closed to his suggestions he said “Gaile, we practiced trust, you told me that one day I will need to use this word, and how to use it.” He shook her again and leaned over her, then whispered to her “Hubamoor”. Her eyes widened with comprehension, she took the prism out, took his knife and cut a piece of fabric, then swaddled the artifact with it speaking an incantation. She then tucked it again in her corset, and her situation improved visibly. Wil set traps around their perimeter, including his healing trap for Gaile, and while they both recovered from the effects of the prism he was talking quickly laying out a plan. She listened quietly but looked sullen and almost unresponsive. Then he went to the edge of the cliff not looking back. Gaile rose up and cast a spell towards him, then instead of following him turned around to facing the enemy, she saw that some mesmers were on their way to Dorian. Dorian was smiling with an air of victory, and she had a haughty look, she removed her hood uncovering her face and hair and started talking distinctly but slowly like an automaton.

“You are right master Dorian, I shall succumb to your rule, I will again be mistress of the world with you. I sent my body guard to his death and he had set traps in this area so be aware of it.” As she said that, she pointed to the ground so they could now see where the traps were. But as their attention was occupied with the positioning of the traps, she swiftly with her other hand sent two water spells that blinded them and slowed them down. The mesmers were not close enough to stop her casts, and she was able to cast another spell on herself as she ran to the edge of the cliff and floated into the space separating herself from the closest tree. She could see that she would not be able to cross the gap, but as she realized that, Wil jumped towards a branch, caught it with one hand, and with the other he grasped her midair and closed the gap. She then was dangling almost being strangled by her disguise, she was breathing with difficulty and feeling the panic rising. Wil, struggling to keep his hands steady on both the branch and the tuft of fabric he had in his other hand was feeling the stretch of his muscles. She then recalled his words, and quickly tugged on her garment, which then tore all the way down her front and released her to fall down to the ground 5 feet below. Wil grasped the branch he was clinging to with his other hand free of Gaile, and he swung to a lower branch and landed near her. At the foot of the tree her hooded cape was waiting for her, and while she was putting it on Wil set more traps around the base of the tree, and they decamped and started walking quietly among the trees.

Far, a mile into the forest, two squads were approaching Kousei’s group which was on a hill. Sylvia behind the monks was crouching on the ground, and holding on to branches of a bush right next to her. The approaching squads suddenly doubled back and went back towards the camp. Kousei was thinking, and said in a whisper “A change of heart? Or a diversion?” Sylvia seemed to go into a trance, and said “the forest speaks that two people, one ranger with a grim and decided jaw, flowing hair, and a long coat, running through the forest a mile away, holding the hand of a long limbed, jade faced woman.” Kousei, turning to Sylvia asked her “Can you give me more description about the woman?” – “Yes, she has ice eyes, and fire hair”. Kousei hissed between his teeth “Gaile”. – “Sylvia, can you tell me where they are located?” She pointed to the direction that the squads were taking. Kousei rose from the hiding place he occupied. Remarl, Astra, Allorathine, Sylvia and Amani rose with him awaiting his reaction.

Chapter 05: The Escape and the Battle

by Lyne

The Escape

As they paused, a blaring horn was heard coming from the camp and the sound echoed throughout the island as others answered the first. “That is the Jatakas sound, calling for the troops to converge.” said Kousei. He started running down the hill at break neck speed, the others followed behind him. As they approached the squads from behind, they were just climbing another hill. Kousei made short work of the squads, since their monks were trailing and were left unprotected. As he slayed the last of them at the top, he realized that this was not a hill but on the other side there was a cliff, and at the base of the cliff, he saw Gaile and Wil trapped with troops slowly making their way through the forest below. Kousei called Gaile, she glanced up at him, and talked to Wil. Quickly Wil produced a rope, attached it to an arrow and started to knock his arrow aiming high. Kousei turned around and yelled, “get out of the way, down the hill and spread out, FAST”. The arrow whizzed through going high, and then landed on the top of the hill with its tip firmly secured to the edge of the cliff. Kousei was amazed at the precision of the hit, especially with a rope attached. He grabbed the rope, made a loop, and wore it like a harness around his torso and over one shoulder. In the meantime, Remarl, got his hands on the rope as well, and as soon as they did, they felt a tug, and the weight of a man was dragging them down. Kousei turned to Amani and said “go see what is happening at the other end. Astra, come help with pressure here”. As Amani was walking to the edge of the cliff, Wil just arrived at the top, and Astra had to go help her to get Wil over the edge. Kousei, glaring at Wil said “where is Gaile? You left her down there?” Wil responded with an even tone “We have to pull her up, she can’t climb, I made her a secure harness”. – “Ok let’s get closer to the edge and heave, Remarl, switch with me I will pull, Astra, you need to be on the line, and Wil also.”

As they were heaving Gaile up, it was just in the nick of time, as the troops were getting almost into spell casting range, Wil barraged them continually to keep them at a safe distance from Gaile, while Amani cast protection spells on her. Gaile clambered with Kousei’s help onto the hill, and was breathless for a few moments.

While all of that was happening, a few other things were taking place. Allorathine had started to make minions from anyone that was slain, and Sylvia was making sure that Wil’s quiver was never empty. The troops that were at the foot of the cliff had to double back and go a few miles to get to the edge of that hill and climb it, but some troops were already here, and there was no time for respite.

The Battle

Kousei went into his battle rage immediately, as Wil was using his arrows to keep the enemies at bay, the minions were also attacking, and what looked like a last stand began.

The din of the battle was what he heard. It was the only thing he heard. The shouts, the agony, every swing he made slashed through flesh like it was thick mud, specks of blood on his face, and the woad now has rivulets of sweat flowing down one side. His face was ugly, and his eyes were on fire. He almost saw the face of every enemy, their snarling faces as they approached him, and then the bulging eyes the opened mouth revealing their teeth, a cry of pain as he thrusts his sword through every one of them. It’s the same thing. He feels almost no pain in his wielding arm, he has no time for pain. He feels no mercy or sympathy for any of them, all he sees is his hope to get to Dorian. The picture of his fleshy face with the high eyebrows mocking people, the supposedly distinctive beard and the haughty look flashed in front of his eyes. He cannot wait to see him die for his inequities. With that thought, his swings doubled in strength and speed. Minions getting up from more bodies than he had seen for many years, “just like the battle of the line, years ago” he thought to himself. Then just as suddenly as they began, everything stopped. A loud voice came from the slope of the hill. “Ahahahahahhhhhh, you are trapped. I would not want to kill you all, but I see that you are all here, you have things that are mine, give them to me and you shall go free” said Dorian. Kousei responded “and what might those be?”; “The creature, and the artifact, I give you … ummmmm five minutes to decide, and then it will be the end for you all, should you not comply”

Kousei turned back to his friends, and seeing their state, all he said was “It is a fight to the death this time”.

He then turned to Dorian and yelled “No deal”.

Dorian turned back and with two squads headed back to his camp. Before he left, he instructed his general to kill everyone but the nymph and bring all their bodies to him.

Kousei had only a few seconds to take a breather and the assault resumed, droves of warriors attacked and they started to overwhelm their defenses. At a certain point, Kousei was attacked so harshly by a pickaxe warrior that his armor pierced his wielding arm and was fused to his wound. As he swung his sword with his right arm, it flew uncontrollably back and lodged itself in the ground. After this injury his armor severed the muscle with every move he made, he had to pull his katana from its sheath strapped to his back and use his left arm to continue the fight. After 5 minutes of battle, it seemed impossible to thwart the continuous assault, and they started losing ground and hope.

Chapter 06: Nature’s Force

by Lyne

Gaile retreated to the middle and took out the prism from her corset, and both Sylvia’s and Amani’s eyes widened. Sylvia said “This looks like the morphing prism, this comes at propitious time, we could use it.”

Sylvia approached Gaile and started talking to her quickly, Gaile nodding, talked to Amani. Sylvia started making healing traps and set them all around Remarl, Astra, Wil and Allorathine and then asked Allorathine to stop bombarding her minions and create shambling horrors. Kousei at this point is continually bleeding and losing strength with each blow he made, yet bodies were still falling at his feet, and shambling horrors were milling about everywhere. Astra started feeling like he was being overwhelmed, so he turned to look at what Amani was doing, to his horror, he saw her sitting down cross legged across from Gaile, AND Sylvia. They were moving their lips soundlessly at first, but then their prayers were suddenly audible but not in a language he knew. He felt that something was about to happen, so he turned to Remarl and yelled “Grab Kousei when things change.” Remarl looked at him questioningly and suddenly there was a mist that started to get heavier and started to have a shape that choked each enemy and killed them with the power of cold. Remarl grabbed Kousei and tried to get him out of his frenzy. Allorathine turned around to see where the source of the mist was, and saw that the prism was shaking with power, as was Gaile. Sylvia got up and addressed them. “Gaile and Amani are going to hold the enemy for a little time, but they cannot do this for long. There is no time to explain why, nor how. We have to act quickly.” She pointed at Kousei who collapsed in a puddle of his own blood, we have to take care of him first, but I need a bowl of spring water, so Wil make me a trap where I was sitting and someone else move Kousei close.” Allorathine was rummaging into her backpack and produced a bowl as Remarl, and Astra moved Kousei who regained consciousness. Remarl said to Allorathine “Yer can be ser domestic”. “I also need a knife” said Sylvia, and Wil handed her his knife. Sylvia took the bowl, filled it with water from the spring and cut muscle from Kousei’s arm as he howled with pain, with everyone looking at her in shock except for Gaile and Amani who seemed to be in their own world of pain. She looked at them, and said “It needs to be done, otherwise you will not be protected, flesh and blood is powerful.” She put the muscle in the bowl and approached Wil with the knife and said “From you, blood” and handed his knife back. Wil punctured and slashed his left hand, and blood trickled from the wound into the bowl. Sylvia approached Gaile and kneeling next to her she took a tear from her eyes and then Amani breathed on the water of the bowl. At that time, the mist started to dissipate as Gaile became visibly weaker. Syalvia turned to Wil, Remarl and Astra and said “you will have to help them up and hold them so they would not fall.” Remarl asked “Up WHERE?” She answered him “Up on me”, went to him and plucked a hair from his head, and put it in the bowl. At that point, Amani began to chant, and instead of mist, a melody with a bright light emanated from the top of the prism, and they seemed to be enclosed in a protection dome. The enemies were outside the dome and hitting it with all they could. Sylvia started to work quickly and from Astra, she asked for sweat, mopped his brow with her slender hand, and washed it in the bowl. In his mind, he thought he would give her something else. From Allorathine, she paused for a moment thinking what she could have, and Allorathine without being asked spat in the bowl, and Sylvia smiled. Sylvia knelt for a moment and put the bowl near the prism, and recited an incantation, while she saw that amani was growing weaker, and the dome was getting more translucent. She then stood near Kousei, and asked them all to come closer, while Wil renewed his healing trap at her feet. She looked at Astra and Allorathine and said “Come closer and hang on to my shoulders, remember to hang tight and then climb on my shoulders when you can” They both looked puzzled but complied. She gave the bowl to Wil and said, water me from the top, and don’t forget to wrap the prism and save it. When Gaile and Amani are through, they will be exhausted.” Wil took the bowl from her, and recognized the ancient magic involved he kissed her on the lips and with ceremony, emptied the bowl over her head.

Astra, holding on, enjoying the soft feel of the shoulder and arm of a woman, “and she asked for it too” he thought, as he was fantasizing about what he could do if they were alone, he felt his feet get off the ground, and his weight had to be supported by his strong arms and shoulders (thank Lyssa for pushups). He looked down, and instead of Sylvia’s feet that were there just a few seconds ago, roots of a tree started growing, and the soft flesh that was there a moment ago became rough and abrasive, the arm that was supple became un-pliable and turned into a strong branch, the neck that he wanted to nuzzle into and the face he wanted to kiss disappeared into the crown of a very fast growing tree, he looked down again, and her legs, hips, and torso had already turned into the trunk. At this point, the dome was dissipating, and Remarl was climbing next to Allorathine, and nudging her to go up one more branch. Wil was carrying Gaile who had no power to walk but mumbled something that Allorathine heard as Wil was handing her to Remarl. Allorathine said “She is talking about the prism, don’t forget the prism”. The tree was budding with thousands of spring buds, and flowers came forth with silver petals and gold stamen and pistils. As Wil was handing Amani over to Astra, the enemies were able to break through the dissipating dome of protection and came charging at them. Wil pocketed the prism and readied his bow, Kousei struggled to get up with his katana, and the flower petals started to fall as the enemies came closer to strike Kousei and Wil, but could not. The petals were creating a layer of protection against them. The closest warriors were snarling and raging. One giant warrior was at the front just one yard away from Kousei and Wil with a deadly long sword in his hands. He was smiling as he said “you cannot escape, there are almost no petals left, and then you are mine”. A gold dart punctured his eye, and he dropped dead, all around the enemies closest to the tree just dropped dead, punctured, in the neck, nose, eyes, head and even in the mouth as they yelled in fear and retreated. Kousei, sat back down and watched, Wil had collapsed on one knee and turned his head away from the carnage. Then Allorathine said “look” as she pointed to the forest. All of them who could see watched as the forest trees swayed and hit every one in their proximity. The ground underneath rumbled and roots started racing towards were our heroes were, they caught any living thing that was on the ground except for Kousei and Wil, and started toppling them, dragging them, breaking their bones, and strangling the ones that were not dead. The deaths were without pity, and none escaped. From afar, you could hear the retreat being called and the only safe place to be was at sea. The tree they were on, started growing leaves, and swayed in the breeze, making a soft noise that became louder and overtook the screams of agony that they had heard. The only scene in front of them left was that of the hundreds of corpses that were left by the fury of the forest. The tree bared fruit, and it ripened, and it fell on the ground near Wil and Kousei. Our heroes were gaping aghast at the event they just witnessed, and waited until they felt the ground had stopped rumbling and the trees had visibly stopped moving. The corpses that were closest to them were being dragged away from them down the hill they saw them being handed from root to root, branch to branch like marionettes without strings attached to them. The earth seemed to have turned into a sponge that imbibed all the blood that was there, and all that was left was them, on the tree, on top of the hill. Amani gasped for air, Astra suddenly realized that he was holding her too tight, and slacked his hold on her. Everyone was tense. Allorathine was the first to react “well, it would be a hell of a cleanup tomorrow”. She started to climb down, and Wil getting over the shock, asked for Amani to be handed down to him, then Astra, and Remarl got Gaile down and they all stayed close to the tree that was once Sylvia.

Kousei having suffered extreme blood loss was the first to be taken care of by the men. Allorathine made herself useful by collecting their backpacks and starting to make a camp. Wil, and Remarl struggled to get the armor off Kousei so he could stop bleeding and Astra could do his work and serious healing. Wil had to go hunting before dusk set in, and came with lots of fowl as a result of the hunt. Remarl had finished setting up camp, and helped Allorathine with getting Gaile and Amani all settled in. They dined on roasted fowl, and fruit that night. That night, except for Kousei, neither of the men nor Allorathine slept. All they could do was replay the atrocity of the carnage they witnessed.

Chapter 07: Camp

by Lyne

The next day, Kousei got up and staggered trying to collect his gothic sword. Astra went to him and promised he would kill him if he continued to be unreasonable like that. Kousei looked at him and said he wanted to see Dorian’s head severed from his body, and if he had to go through Astra then he would. Then after he completed that sentence he fell to his knees, still weak from the fight of the day before. Remarl had to convince Kousei, that there is nothing to gain from going now. They were still wounded, and Gaile as well as Amani had not been able to recuperate yet. Wil had gone to hunt again, and this time he came with two deer that he skinned and prepared for a meal. Wil was bewildered, as he said to them that he saw no bodies anywhere. He said that he had the feeling there was no one on the island but them now.

More fruit was ripe and fell off the tree they were sheltered under. When Kousei had succumbed to reason, he ate his fill and rested. Amani and Gaile were conscious by noon when they both ate and were satisfied. Wil had scouted a spring that ended in a small pool on the west side of the hill, and the women went there and refreshed themselves with a bath. Amani came back with berries and herbs and started working on a potion that she immediately drank. All of these things were done quietly, and robotically. As if they were all listless and unconscious.

As the afternoon turned into dusk, Amani made stew from the remnants of deer and roots that she had collected from the forest, she also added the rest of the potion to it. That evening, she asked everyone to eat their stew, even if they were not hungry. They sat around the fire that Wil had built and ate it without appetite. That night, they did not need a sentry. That night, they slept in peace.