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Old 02-09-2009, 05:54 PM   #61
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    Back in Qeynos meanwhile all was not well. Jimbob and Kebia had gotten along for the most part for years, but Jimbob's moodiness had begun to take on a more sinister aspect as of late. He had always been quick to anger but never had he been deliberately cruel or mean. That was starting to change, at least from Kebia's viewpoint.  He had thrown a vase across the room and shattered it against a wall to the Dwarf's great dismay. Her only "offense" had been to argue with him; now a family heirloom was destroyed. When she protested, he snarled that it was her fault.

     Dwarven society does not encourage sharing marital troubles with others, not even close relatives.  So Kebia had tried to figure out what was wrong. His behavior was so erratic at times; Jimbob seemed to not know even himself why he acted the way he did.  Maybe it was something she could help with, she decided. So she tried changing the diet, leaving books around to read that were positive, and avoiding arguments.  But little changed for the better, and soon reverted to the worse.  He began accusing the world at large of being "against" him, and his opinion of all people was extremely low. 

     It would have continued this way without other notice except that his work as a Mystic began to suffer.  Tabaar was concerned and had Jimbob come with him on a short trip ostensibly to test some spells, but really so the Elder Mystic could watch the Human closely.  Tabaar sighed inwardly as he realized that Jimbob was definitely having some personal issues that were interfering with his concentration.  This would not do; as the younger Mystic had more and more trouble his self-confidence would erode, leading to worse performance and a downward spiral. 

     One afternoon Kebia came to see Tabaar. She talked shop for a while until the Barbarian shaman held up a hand.  "Wait a second, young lady. Ye didn't come here to discuss the weather, did ye?" "No, but this is really hard to say...I think there's something wrong with my husband. He's not the same man I married. He's gotten really paranoid, and he throws things." The Elder Mystic nodded. "Ah, I believe he is under great stress as a Mystic. He's been trying too hard and has messed up a few spells lately; that is probably what is eating at him. Just let him relax and try not to be too hard on him." It wasn't what she wanted to hear but Kebia trusted Tabaar. "All right, I'll try that," she answered.

     For a day or two things seemed to improve but Jimbob quickly dropped back into one of his dark moods.  He became frustrated with a shirt he had made; he fumbled trying to remove it and lost his temper, ripping the buttons off.  He stomped and raged through the house, shoving Kebia against a wall when she tried to pacify him.  She felt very alone at that moment, and more than a little betrayed.  Jimbob slammed a fist into a wall and then stormed out the front door.

     The Dwarf made her way back to Tabaar's house, first checking to make sure that her husband hadn't retreated there; it wouldn't do to confront him there.  The Elder Mystic let her in, standing back as she came in with fists clenched. "You have to do something, Tabaar! He's really been a bear lately; I don't want to even be in the same room with him sometimes!" "What happened, Kebia?" She poured out her woes and fears, emphasizing that she wanted to do something to help. The grizzled Barbarian had an idea. "Isn't his birthday coming up? We can hold a surprise party for him; some attention from folks he cares about might just do the trick."

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Old 02-09-2009, 06:58 PM   #62
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     Leeroy and Treissae arrived back in town, proud of the Conjuror's accomplishments. They stopped by Tabaar's place to catch up on events; he suggested they help him with a surprise party for Jimbob's birthday. "It's tomorrow; let's decorate the place while I send the Human on some errand," the Elder Mystic offered. "Great idea," Leeroy replied. Treissae nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, I can help." 

     Jimbob grumbled to himself; why would Tabaar send him off to Windstalker Village today of all days? He would miss most of his day off just getting back to Qeynos.  He made his way though to his destination and got the supplies delivered and some other items picked up. He stayed overnight and headed back early in the morning. 

     When he did arrive back in Qeynos, the sun was setting. He pushed open the door to his house and found it to be dark and apparently empty.  Where was his wife? He muttered to himself as he moved through the front hallway.  As luck would have it, he didn't see that Kebia had left her boots there in the hall on the mud carpet.

     Kebia waited around a corner with the cake as Jimbob's footsteps announced his approach. Tabaar, Leeroy, and Treissae were ready to light candles. Roanna and her two other children, Gwenna and Gareth, stood by ready to call out.  Then came a muffled thump. The Dwarf strode out into the open with the cake.

    How dare she leave her boots where he could trip on them? With a curse boiling onto his lips, Jimbob reached down, grabbed the offending footwear, and launched the boot as hard as he could down the hall.  Just then the Dwarf came around the corner straight into its path. She looked up at Jimbob and started to smile as she held up the cake, "HAP-" just as the flung boot hit her square in the face.

     Cake frosting and blood splattered the wall as shouts of "Surprise!" and "Happy Birthday!" became instead cries of horror and dismay. Jimbob stared in shock at what he had done; Leeroy and Treissae ran to Kebia's side. Tabaar flinched as if he himself had been hit, then knelt by the Dwarf.  "Nothing to be done," he said in the coldest voice anyone there had ever heard. "Her nasal bones have been driven back and destroyed her brain. Nothing I can do for her." He stood up. "I made a solemn vow the day she saved Leeroy that I would do anything for her." Muffled sobs from Treissae, Roanna and Gwenna punctuated his remarks. Leeroy sat rocking back and forth, struggling not to howl in anguish.  

     Tabaar's eyes were red with rage as he grabbed Jimbob by the collar. "HOW COULD YE DO THIS? WHY??" The Elder Mystic completely lost control of his temper then in a tragic mirror of the younger Mystic's. He shook Jimbob with all his might and the sound of a sickening crack echoed through the house.  With dawning shock and horror Tabaar realized what he had done and dropped the Human. Jimbob tried to draw breath, gasping like a landed fish once, twice, as his face darkened. But the paralysis was total and lethal, and he died there beside his wife.

     The older Barbarian screamed and pelted out the door into the night as his wife shrieked her grief over the bodies of her son and daughter-in-law.  Leeroy came out of his shocked state and ran after his uncle.  Tabaar ran into his house and came right out with a book and a rope. "TAKE THIS!" he yelled at Leeroy, throwing him the book. "And don't try to stop me!" With that he ran down the street toward North Qeynos.  The Inquisitor wheeled and ran back to the tragic scene. "He's suicidal; I cannot interfere," he managed to gasp out. "He's going north in the city. I need someone to come with me."

     Leeroy and Roanna rounded a corner to find a large crowd gathering around the Qeynos Claymore. People were pointing and talking. "Let me through, what happened here?" the young Barbarian entreated and demanded. But then he could see and wished he hadn't. From a rope tied to the hilt of the giant sword sculpture dangled the body of the Elder Mystic. Roanna screamed and fainted; Leeroy for the first time in his adult life became physically ill at the sight of death. One thing had cascaded into unspeakable tragedy on that day; he determined to leave and never return.

     The authorities were summoned;  Leeroy explained as best he could what had happened. Treissae, Gwenna, and Gareth backed up his story. Roanna was too distraught to be coherent.  The Inquisitor paced around the room and finally opened the book that Tabaar had given him. In it he found the reason why Tabaar felt responsible.  "If only I had caught his hand when he fell in that well in Stormhold," the shaman had written on the front page, "None of this would have happened."

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Old 02-09-2009, 07:34 PM   #63
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     The Inquisitor sat and read the diary, trying to understand the events that had somehow lead up to this horrible day.  Treissae had tried to comfort him, but he had asked to be left alone for a while.  He leafed through the entries; the scrawled entry page had struck a chord in him exactly what I was dreaming about, he thought.  He read about the training Mystics took, and how Tabaar had struck up a friendship with a young Human Paladin.  They became inseparable and a circle of friends had joined forces to invade Stormhold to beat back the evil there.

     But they were young, impetuous and unskilled yet, and when the Paladin had stepped on a loose board and fallen in a well, the rest of the group had been unable to save him from vicious creatures waiting below.  Tabaar had just missed catching his friend's hand as he slipped, and he blamed himself for the Paladin's death.  Leeroy frowned and wondered what this had to do.... aha... the Paladin had been the brother of Jimbob's father!  He read on and found that Jimbob's father had despised and hated Tabaar from that day out, and kept his family far from Qeynos. But chance had crossed his path with Tabaar's again, resulting in Jimbob leaving home to become a Mystic.

    Leeroy sat and pondered all this.  Jimbob's father had disowned him. He had become crazed and that was why Roanna had come to Qeynos with the other two children.  Tabaar felt guilty over this also.  What else?  He read on and realized that Jimbob had been unable to save Tabaar's son Tyndall during a battle for Qeynos being waged in the sewers.  Maybe Jimbob and his father had just buried guilt feelings until they became mentally unbalanced? None of this was any comfort as he waited for the authorities to release the bodies for burial.  But everything was wrong. That thought echoed in his mind. It's all wrong, everything's wrong...

     It was like a bolt of lightning hit him and illuminated his mind. He got up like a sleepwalker and made his way back to Graystone Yard to the apartment he shared with Treissae. She followed him, anxious, at a distance.  He opened the bag containing his Inquisitor's helmet and drew it forth, turning it to face front to him.  He prised out the stone and dropped it in a small pouch, replacing the helm in its hidden location. He turned to Treissae. "I have to take a trip. I can't have ye follow me.  Just trust me." Without a further word he grabbed his pack and left their home. He heard Treissae call out to him. Leeroy didn't look back; he knew now what he had to do and to look back would break his resolve.

     At Stormhold he searched for the well where the accident had occurred so long before.  He knew he'd found it when he saw a barbarian wraith floating above it, gibbering and wailing.  Tabaar would not know rest, ever, until Norrath itself was gone ages hence... the Inquisitor shuddered with repressed grief.  He knew what he had to do... and the price might be his own life, or that of anyone he cared about.  He drew forth the small pouch and took out the stone, holding it up. It glowed brightly. "Karana, ye gave me this stone and I feel I must use it. Stop me now if I am wrong."  Leeroy closed his eyes upon the world he knew and squeezed the gem. With a crack and a flash it disappeared...

    

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Old 02-09-2009, 11:43 PM   #64
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     The shock of the cold water took his breath away. He came to the surface gasping and sputtering; where was she? He finally saw a bundle of furs floating and struck out toward the object; it was the Wood Elf. She was in deep shock and unresponsive as he frantically pushed her in front of him toward the nearest shore.  A pair of Barbarian men reached out to take hold of her as the ice around him shifted, and one caught his arm just as it started to close up, dragging the half-frozen Inquisitor up onto the sloping beach.

     "Save her, please save her," he entreated through chattering teeth.  "We'll do all we can," replied the older of the two.  They placed Treissae by the fire and bundled her with dry furs.  The younger man threw the Inquisitor a fur robe and indicated the fireside.   The shivering Barbarian sat down and watched the older man... a shaman? as he worked.  It took a while but the young woman came around. "Where am I?" she asked. "Back in camp," replied the older Barbarian.   "One of these pilgrims rescued ye."  "Oh..." she dropped back into sleep.  "And who are ye?" asked the younger of the two men of the Inquisitor. "Well, it's awkward, but I am not sure." "What do ye mean?"  "I think I lost my memory...or maybe regained some. I used to live in Freeport, but.." The younger Barbarian jumped to his feet, drawing his sword. "YE WHAT?" "Sit down, Tyndall. He has shown no hostility and this is neutral ground." "Yes, Father," Tyndall replied and backed off.

     The Inquisitor took another look at the two men. Yes, they definitely were father and son.  Even the same beard, although the elder's was grizzled white and the younger's brown.  Tyndall, was that the younger one's name? Strange, how that seemed familiar.  "I am no threat to anyone here," he said.  "Ye still haven't told us who ye are," the older man retorted. "But I will.  I am the Elder Mystic of Graystone Yard. My charge here, this Wood Elf, traveled with us to memorialize the fallen Northman who saved her from the clutches of Lucan d'Lere.  Ye saved her life today and for that we are grateful. But I must insist on knowing yer name."

     The Inquisitor drew a deep breath. Somewhere along the way he had realized that he had been called Leeroy at some time. Was that true or just some false impulse? He decided to use it and see.  "My name is Leeroy."  The Elder Mystic dropped his spear in the snow and stared. Then he shook his head. "It isn't possible. No. Leeroy, look at me. Do ye know me?"  Leeroy squinted and tilted his head at the man. It was like he was supposed to know...  "I am Tabaar Hammersmite. Could ye be my nephew?" The young Northman felt a mental curtain parted and he KNEW...oh he knew... "Uncle Tabaar?" then the Elder Mystic enveloped him in a bear hug.

     "Twenty years! Twenty years and ye come back from the dead! Tyndall, this is the reason we came here; I never dreamed this day could come."  Tabaar stepped back and regarded his nephew.  "Ye were just a lad when yer parents set off on a trip and never came back."  Leeroy stared down at the ground. "I don't remember a lot but our wagon was attacked, they were killed and I was taken into the Dark Elf slavetrade. They traded me to Freeport in return for whatever it is Freeport provides them. I was mindwiped and made a trainee in the Temple of War. Only recently I got a clockwork that malfunctioned and shocked me in my bath. When I woke up I had dual memories and since that day I have been trying to find out who I am."

    "I rescued Treissae there from Freeport and her portal spell she cast upon me I activated when I was about to be executed for treason. Instead of the hereafter I found myself in Commonlands and I made my way here to meditate and try to understand myself."  "Did ye say ye rescued this Wood Elf? She believes ye dead; this is truly a miracle," Tyndall broke in.  Just then a murmur from by the fire "What? Who rescued me?" "It was Leeroy," replied Tyndall. "Can I talk to him?"  Leeroy knelt down. He felt unworthy and more ashamed than anyone knew. He knew what he would have done before he broke the mental control over him... "Yes, Treissae?" he said softly. She stared up at him, unbelieving. "You look exactly like the Inquisitor who saved me in Freeport except you're missing your beard," she whispered. "I shaved my chin to alter my appearance," he replied. "But they said you were executed!" "Yer portal spell saved me, Treissae. I will be eternally grateful to ye and I owe ye my life also."

     The Wood Elf began to cry tears of happiness.  She had stronger feelings about this Halasian man than she had admitted to herself... why, she didn't know. But all she wanted at this moment was for him to hold her to him.

     Leeroy felt a lump in his throat and the impulse to reach out to Treissae was overwhelming him...so he did, hugging her to him as his own emotions overflowed into deep sobs. Some part of him was terribly embarrassed but another knew that the Men of Halas never hid their feelings from anyone.  Strange, too, that he felt he had been here before, like in another life. But no, that was just not possible.  He looked up to see Tabaar and Tyndall smiling at him. Hammersmite! He was of Clan Hammersmite! Never again would he lack for a place, for folks to call his own clan, his own people.

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Old 02-14-2009, 01:40 PM   #65
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    "What did ye do in Freeport? Didn't ye say ye were a trainee in their Temple?" Tabaar wanted to know. Leeroy nodded. "I'll show ye." He walked down the beach to a cairn of stones at a cliff base, returning carrying a large rucksack.  "I was tested in some way for my aptitude, I suppose," he explained, drawing forth a peaked helmet. 

     "An Inquisitor?" Tyndall broke in. "Aye, that is what I am," Leeroy replied.  "Although now I do not serve Freeport and I follow Karana, not the likes of Innoruuk."  Tabaar stroked his beard, mulling it over.  "Nothing to be done right now, anyhow.  Ye are kin, and family, and clan. No matter what." 

     "Ah, there they are," the Elder Mystic remarked, pointing. Leeroy looked in that direction and saw a Kerra man and a Dwarf woman carrying a deer carcass slung between them.  "Good, there'll be venison tonight. I was starting to get hungry," Tyndall said. "Ye're always hungry!" his father retorted.  "Being a Guardian takes a lot of energy!" "Well, use some of that motivation and help them butcher that deer."

     "While my son makes himself useful, let me introduce ye to the others. Leeroy, this is Redclaw, an old friend of mine, and the lady is Kebia." "Good day," nodded the Kerra.  The Dwarf woman raised her sword. "Marr's blessing on you."  Tabaar indicated Leeroy. "Remember how I was coming here every year, trying to find out what happened to my sister's family?  This man rescued Treissae; she fell in Everstorm Bay. It turns out that he is my nephew."  

     Over roasted venison the party compared notes and took stock of the situation. "We are done here. Unless any of ye need anything, we should head back toward Faydark in the morning," announced the Elder Mystic.  "I will take first watch, Tyndall second, Kebia third, Redclaw fourth.  Leeroy, if anyone is indisposed or needs assistance, ye're next." The Inquisitor nodded.  "Everyone is responsible for their campmate. Ye check on each other regularly," Tabaar instructed.

     Each person bedded down in furs around the campfire except for Tabaar. He sat, weapons ready, with his back to the cliff face.  Leeroy was just drifting off when he heard a small sound from Treissae.  He looked over to see her shivering. "Why don't ye move toward me?" he murmured. "Way too cold for ye, obviously."  She dragged her bedding over to where the Inquisitor reclined on one elbow. "Survival's more important than propriety. I promise I won't take advantage of ye."   Treissae carefully moved back against the Northman and relaxed as she stopped shaking from cold.  He was true to his word and made no advances.  Leeroy was quite distracted but managed to fall asleep after a while. 

     The Wood Elf was shocked to wakefulness by a commotion; there was a fight going on in camp!  Tyndall was turning back an attack by bandits; his father had already taken down one.  Redclaw and Kebia hit the other two from behind while their attention was on the Guardian, cutting them down where they stood. "Good work," Tyndall approved.  "Never could stand thieves." He looked around at the others. Leeroy was over to one side, on his knees, clearly in a lot of distress.

     "Nephew, are ye all right?" Tabaar said in a worried tone.  He took a closer look. "Oh, gods no...get over here, the rest of ye. He's got an arrow in his side!"  As the others ran over, the Inquisitor slowly collapsed. "Is he still alive?" "What can we do?" "Yes he's alive but not for long if we can't get that removed and the bleeding controlled."  The Elder Mystic worked frantically to save his nephew.  He got the shaft of the arrow out and handed it to Redclaw just as Tyndall blanched and shook his head. "I can't find a pulse now," he announced. "Kebia, get on that," ordered the Mystic. The Dwarf complied as Tabaar breathed for him.  "Now while I do this," he said, "get that arrowhead out, Redclaw." The Kerra quickly worked his way down to find it lodged between two ribs and partway in a lung.

      After removing it, Redclaw quickly began to stitch the wound closed as Tabaar stanched the bleeding with healing magic.  "All right, Kebia, stop a few moments."  The Dwarf did and Tyndall felt around. "It's there! Faint, but he's got a pulse."  Tabaar sat up and watched Leeroy's chest rise and fall.  He sighed with relief and checked the wound.  "All right I think we got it. Thank ye so much all of ye." "Ooh..." "He's coming around!"

     Leeroy had felt a fiery pain in his side as the attack commenced. As the highwaymen ran in, intent on their attack, the rest of the party had met them with fierce resistance.  Only when the brigands were thwarted did the others look his way. He had tried to get up but a wave of weakness pulled him down to the ground as his consciousness faded away.  Then what seemed like seconds later the world swam back into focus, with himself lying on the ground surrounded by the others.  They seemed very pleased about something. "I think...maybe I was hit by an arrow..." he croaked.

     Tabaar leaned over him. "Yes, ye were. But we got it out all right and now ye're fine." The Elder Mystic turned quickly away, but not quickly enough, and strode down the beach a ways. "Huh? Why did he walk away?" Leeroy wanted to know.  Kebia very quietly said, "He didn't want you to see him crying." "What would he do that for?" "I don't know how to put this, so I'll say it plain. You very nearly died.  If it weren't for Tabaar's expertise, you would have."  The Inquisitor levered himself up on one elbow, fighting dizziness as he did so. "Tyndall, help me up."

     The Elder Mystic stood looking over Everstorm Bay, trying to regain his composure.  He was physically exhausted and emotionally drained. A crunching of gravel announced he had company. "Let me be alone for a while," the grizzled Northman said without turning. "I just wanted to thank ye for saving me," came an unexpected voice. He spun around. "Leeroy! Ye shouldn't be up and about!"  The Inquisitor swayed on his feet, steadied, and stepped forward to embrace his uncle.  "I don't have the words to express how grateful I am.  I owe a debt to all of ye.  However I can attempt to repay it, I will."

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Old 02-16-2009, 03:05 PM   #66
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     Treissae turned to Kebia. "I don't understand...he was badly injured and now he's walking around like it never happened."  "The Northmen are very hardy people; they cannot abide weakness least of all in themselves. And he is paying a price for pushing himself; watch when he comes back over here," replied the Dwarf woman.

     Despite the cold, sweat dripped from Leeroy's face and hair, and his skin had a gray tinge to it as he gingerly sat back down by the campfire, wincing in pain.  The Wood Elf came over and asked if there was anything she could do to help. "Nay, but thank ye Treissae. Just being alive and able to still see ye in this world is enough." He ducked his head, clearly embarrassed at his own words.

     "No question of getting any more rest; it's getting light already," Tyndall stated.  "The boat will be here soon anyhow and we can head to Butcherblock Bay to take ye back to yer home."  "No need to go out of your way," Treissae remarked. "I was going home because I was only here to pay my respects to a man I thought was dead.  But..." her eyes filled with tears and she wordlessly indicated the young Inquisitor sitting by the fire. Tabaar walked over as he noticed the exchange.  "Ye can go wherever ye want, young lady."  She turned to see the Elder Mystic kneel down by his nephew and look him over. "How do ye feel, Leeroy?" "Like I was in a bar brawl with six Ogres."  Tabaar chuckled and said, "Yer sense of humor is showing. I think ye'll be all right."

     "If no one objects, we will set sail for Qeynos today," the grizzled Northman announced.  He stood back and watched the others board ship, paying particular attention to what his nephew did and how Treissae looked at him.  If his instincts were accurate, something was brewing between them. He smiled to himself; the Elder Mystic had always been a romantic at heart.  And if he read his nephew right, Leeroy had the singular inability to do anything halfway.  He would be totally devoted to whatever woman he gave his heart to.

     Leeroy was very nervous as he eyed the Wood Elf. What if she noticed him watching her? Just then the Dwarf wandered past. "I forgot to thank ye for helping save me.  Tabaar said ye kept me alive..." Kebia nodded. "I am a Paladin and have training in lifesaving techniques. By the way, your determination to survive was a big factor." "I don't remember a thing, though."  "Nevertheless, you fought hard to stay with us. I was surprised you even were alive when we got to you. That arrow was a nasty barbed one made to go through a large animal. It was embedded between two ribs and partway through your left lung. It was less than half an inch from your heart."  Leeroy shuddered, thinking about his close call. "And Redclaw is quick and accurate with wound care," Kebia continued. "He is one of the better druids I know."

     The Inquisitor stood on the center deck and waved for everyone's attention. "I want to repeat my appreciation and undying gratitude to ye all. I would not be here if it weren't for folks who had only just met me doing everything they could." He took a deep breath and plunged on. "I thank ye all from the depths of my being.  If I can do anything for any of ye, I will. That is a solemn vow on my honor. Again, thank ye so much..."  His vision blurred and then he felt a hand in his. "I'm so glad you're all right," said the Wood Elf.

     They arrived in Qeynos Harbor and disembarked to find that Leeroy wasn't exactly welcome there. "I should have known," Tabaar muttered.  "They won't do business with anyone from Freeport and if ye go into the north end of town, near the castle, there are guards who will attack ye if they suspect ye to be from an opposing city." Leeroy shrugged. "I am no harm to anyone here." "They don't know that. We'll see if we can just walk through the gates to Graystone Yard."

     The party arrived in the home village of Northmen and Dwarves to find that basically no one paid Leeroy any mind. There was no guard check and no catcalls or insults from folks on the street. Leeroy looked around and realized that he knew this place. "Uncle? I was born here, wasn't I?" Tabaar nodded. "Aye, ye were, to my sister Leeanora and her husband Roynald." The Inquisitor drank in the sight of the place. "So that's where I got my name. Clever...I just wish that they hadn't traveled that day and..." Leeroy couldn't continue. He gritted his teeth to keep his composure.  "Well, ye're among friends and clan, now," the Elder Mystic remarked. "Hmm... we need to find ye a place to stay for now. And I believe I know just where to go. I have a friend that owes me a big favor."

     Tabaar led Leeroy, Treissae and Kebia to a small house near the bank.  "Here's where Reesling lives. He doesn't get out a lot so he is always interested in stories and traveling tales. I must caution ye, Leeroy and Treissae, to be ready. He has an ... odd... sense of humor about himself; he should have been a rogue, not a bard."  He knocked on the door and stood close as it opened. "Hello, Reesling." "Why, hello there, Tabaar. Come in, come in, and yer friends also."  A Barbarian man, about Tabaar's age, stood in the shadows and gestured them in.  "Please find yerself seats," he said in a melodious baritone.

     "Who do we have here today?" Reesling asked as he took a slow step forward. Leeroy looked up and gaped. Treissae stifled a gasp of dismay.  Reesling was blind.  Very obviously so...he was missing his eyes.  To their mortification, Reesling chuckled. "Aye, ye see I don't, eh? When I was young and stupid this happened.  But enough about me.  Tabaar, would ye do me the favor?" "Of course, of course. Kebia is at your left in the second chair, and to the right is Leeroy, my nephew." "Ye found him? What great news!" "Aye, and to Leeroy's right is Treissae, a Wood Elf who Leeroy met in Freeport."  Reesling walked a few steps forward, reached unerringly for a chair, and sat down.  "Tell me everything.  I love a good story," he remarked.

     "That's an amazing story," the bard said later. "But I am remiss; I haven't offered any of ye refreshments."  He padded into the kitchen and they heard the clink of glassware.  Soon he was back with a tray of glasses containing apple juice. "How do ye do that?" Leeroy wanted to know. "I mean.. balance the tray without seeing what ye are doing."  "A lot of practice with a tray and metal mugs. I have to be as independent as possible, and I am always learning new ways to substitute for sight, even after thirty years. But can I ask ye a favor, young man?" "Yes, certainly." "Come over to me."

     Leeroy felt a bit apprehensive but he did what the blind bard asked.  "Please kneel down right in front of me; I want to find out what ye look like." The Inquisitor was puzzled but did so. Reesling reached out slowly and found Leeroy's shoulders. Then he carefully traced his way up the young Northman's face with his fingers, nodding to himself as he did. "Definitely his mother's son, Tabaar," he stated. "Similar facial structure. Leeroy, is yer hair brown? And yer eyes green?"  "Aye."  "But he has darker skin than me or Tyndall," Tabaar added. "That would be his father's side of the family."

     "Reesling, we came to ask ye a favor. Can ye put my nephew up for a while? At least until we sort things out?"  "Well of course. It gets boring around here with nothing to do, no one to talk to, no one to read to me." "Do you go out and do your own shopping and such?" Treissae wanted to know. Reesling smiled. "Aye, and I think I hear yer unspoken question. No, I don't go distracting folks with my disability." He got up and walked into another room and came back with a small jar. "If they didn't start giving me headaches in a few hours, I might wear them all the time." He tipped the jar onto the table, cupping his hand around it to keep the contents from rolling far. "There they are," he stated. "I had those made for me by a Gnome who made dolls and clockworks. He was good with glass." Reesling held up two glass eyes. "I had Tabaar describe what color they should be; I wanted them to match the original ones."  The bard dipped them in a glass of water and worked them in one by one, blinked a few times, and turned back to the others. "How's this?"

If they hadn't seen him without the glass eyes they would never have guessed.  Reesling wore a roguish grin and he seemed to be looking directly at the Wood Elf. "Wouldn't do to scare the ladies and children," he laughed.  "I used to be pretty down about this, but a certain Mystic made me think. He said I should count my blessings. I could have lost my hearing, or had my hands crippled, or had my tongue cut out, like a bard I met once. Instead I lost the one sense that I don't need to play my music and sing. Speaking of that, let me get my lute."

    Reesling had a beautiful singing voice with a lot of range up and down.  He played very well on stringed instruments; besides a lute he had a guitar and several other instruments of his own invention. "I can sing for my supper," he remarked after one ballad. "I do tend to sing martial music or dirges. Very good for funerals. But I can do upbeat tunes also; it's actually a fun challenge to do a wedding for instance." He stood up and stretched. "But performing gives me an appetite. Let's go see if we can find some lunch."

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Old 02-27-2009, 01:12 PM   #67
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     Reesling swung his walking stick in an arc as he moved at a brisk walk. "Right down the street here is a great little place. I sing there quite often."  He stopped and turned, reaching out to touch the corner of a building. "Here we are," he remarked.  Inside they seated themselves at a trestle table. The server came over with menus, which she handed to everyone but the bard. "Hello Reesling, will you be having the usual?" "Yes, please. And please bring us a round of ale."  After everyone had ordered,  Reesling hoisted his mug. "To old friends and new."

     They sat and talked for hours; there was so much to catch up on.  "How did ye get out of Freeport after ye returned?" asked the bard. "I used the sewers," replied Leeroy. "Didn't they activate the flashbangers?" Reesling wanted to know. "Aye, but how did ye know..." "I will explain, but how did ye avoid their effects? Did ye just get really lucky?" "No," replied the Inquisitor, "I knew they were there and I took precautions.  I blindfolded myself and felt my way through."

     Reesling took a deep breath as he composed a reply.  "I can only wish I had known. But let me start at the beginning. I was a young idealist, bent on helping those under Lucan's thumb to escape their circumstances. I did succeed so well that extra patrols were set up, and I even avoided those. But I had no idea about the security system being installed in the Thieves Way.

     "I was doing one last smuggling operation before my wedding a week hence.  A Human family, plus their Kerra servant, were my charges.  We were to the hatch to freedom, and the Kerra servant climbed out first to help the children and their mother out. Then the father. His body blocked the hatch just as I turned to look back down the passage for signs of pursuit. I  heard a rattling noise from above me and I looked up to see an object drop out of a pipe. It hit the floor of the culvert."  The bard's expression turned grim. "It's the last thing I ever saw.  The flash burned my eyes and I must have been screaming; the Kerra servant risked his life to come back in and grab me to drag me out."

     Treissae shuddered in horror. "But how did you get back here? How did you escape?"  "The Kerra dragged me to the wagon we planned to use and put me in the back.  He knocked me out with some drug he had with him; I was still making a lot of noise. The Humans drove the wagon all night to get us away from Freeport's area.  All I remember is waking up in a lot of pain most of the way back to Qeynos." 

     "Tabaar came out to meet me and had to see me like that," Reesling sighed. "Just newly authorized as a Mystic and he gets the worst case he's ever seen."  Tabaar broke in, "Ye know I would have tried everything again, friend."  "Oh, I know. And ye did. But the damage was so bad, and the pain was so severe, I couldn't take it anymore. I asked for resolution or grace." The Elder Mystic nodded to the others, tears in his eyes. "Aye, he asked me to take away the pain or kill him right there and then.  I could only think of one way to do it. I didn't want him to die and I didn't want to do what had to be done. But he pleaded and begged, and I cannot refuse under the laws of the North."

      "This isn't pleasant, but ye have to hear it.  I drugged him into a heavy sleep and removed his damaged eyes myself. Then I drank myself into a stupor. All we could do was wait and hope it worked." "I woke up and at first didn't know where I was," Reesling remarked.  "I couldn't seem to open my eyes and I was disoriented. But the pain was gone." "I dreaded hearing what he would say when I told him, but he remained calm," Tabaar said.  "It's really strange I know but when Tabaar told me what he had done I didn't really react," Reesling continued.  "Now I know I was in shock but then we thought I was just taking it well."

     "They took me to my home and told my betrothed the news. She came to see me, ran out of the room, and sent a message by courier to Tabaar. It said 'I can't handle this.' I never heard from her again."  "Oh, I'm so sorry," Treissae murmured. "It was for the best, maybe," answered the bard.  "I heard later that she married a carpet salesman and they moved to Maj'Dul.  Rumor was he came back without her, that she found a richer man."

     "It had to have been a very hard time for ye," Leeroy said. "How did ye manage to stay sane?"  "I had a lot of support from friends and my family.  My mother was still alive then and she helped me by coming over and cleaning, cooking and the like. That Kerra servant who rescued me, the Human family he was contracted to released him and he is still a good friend.  So many friends willing to help...I have been very lucky. I did go through some hard times and they helped me endure."

     "All my music was written down, no use to me now.  Tabaar found a clockwork maker and had a recordbot made for me, so I could practice and have the bot repeat back my words and inflection plus the beat.  Everyone encouraged me to sing even when I didn't want to even get out of bed.  It took several years for me to get to where I had been before the accident; I had to relearn a lot.  But I wasn't going to be a burden on anyone.  So I agreed to publicly sing in taverns in Qeynos in exchange for meals.  Extra money I get from doing special events. Not a bad existence actually."

     "But...yes there are days I think about it, what happened.  And yes, I miss seeing the world around me.  Most of all I do miss being taken for granted; that might be a strange thing to hear but having folks treat me as different because I am blind is one of the things that bothers me most.  I am still Reesling the Halasian bard.   Nothing has changed about me except for my life experiences." Then his expression softened. "And I guess I'm older, too, and wiser maybe."

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Old 03-05-2009, 09:59 PM   #68
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      Kebia took Treissae to show her available apartments; meanwhile, Leeroy got settled in at Reesling's place. "This is the guest room, which ye can arrange to yer liking. All I ask is that ye never move anything anywhere else in the house without telling me first." Leeroy readily agreed. He realized that the bard had to have a mental map of his surroundings, and if something was misplaced he could easily trip over it, or break it.  "Ye will need to buy some candles or lamps; I only have the ones in the front room that Tabaar lights when he brings guests." 

       After she picked out a small furnished room, Treissae sat down and wrote a letter to her parents, detailing events and promising to come visit soon. She posted it down at the corner past the bank as the Dwarf paladin came looking for her. "My husband is back from his fishing trip with his father and uncle, and his mother is cooking up a fish dinner now. Everyone's invited."  The Wood Elf was curious. "I never heard of Dwarves being interested in fishing." Kebia smiled. "That's because they're not Dwarves. But come along and meet them."

       Everyone had gathered at a large residence in South Qeynos. Tabaar, Tyndall, Redclaw, Reesling, Leeroy, and several humans who Treissae had not met.  "Folks, this is Treissae," announced Tabaar.  "And in turn,  Archant Stormwalker, his wife Roanna, and his brother Bolwyn.  And by Kebia is Archant and Roanna's oldest son, Jimbob."  "Hello all," the Wood Elf said shyly.  "Dinner is about ready; come on in and sit down," Roanna directed.

      Treissae sat down by Leeroy and took stock of the human family. The men were bearded and the two older ones wore the emblem of Qeynos Paladins.  Jimbob on the other hand had the same crest on his shirt that Tabaar did.  A human Mystic, then.  He was Kebia's husband? Strange.  Her guess was confirmed when Jimbob sat down by the Dwarf and nuzzled her affectionately. 

      Reesling still stood in the doorway, lute in hand.  "Before we eat, I want to play something." "Of course, dear," Roanna remarked. Everyone turned to watch and listen. 

"The passage of time is bittersweet,"

"And I remember the days of yore,"

"The voices of those who I meet,"

"Still can make my heart soar,"

"I wonder sometimes if they know how greatly I value them,"

"Neither the years nor the days can change the ways of good friends, old and new."

"When I hear the knock on the door,"

"As sure as bees' honey is sweet,"

"One friend, two, maybe more,"

"Are here for me to greet,"

"I only can say that I dearly love them one and all,"

"Neither the years nor the days can change the ways of good friends, old and new."

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Old 03-30-2009, 03:19 AM   #69
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     After a couple of days, Tabaar noticed a pattern. Leeroy would leave town for a few hours, coming back in the afternoon looking like he put in a full day of hard work.  Then he'd clean up and visit with Reesling for a bit, then meet Treissae for a date.  The Elder Mystic wondered about the morning's activities but he did respect the younger Northman's privacy. However, the matter was made clear when Leeroy came to see him to ask some advice. 

    "Uncle, I found this today. I've never seen anything like it." Leeroy held out a bluish crystal about the size of his thumbnail. "It was in a cliff face where the river undercut it near the aqueduct," he continued. "Ye see, I've been trying to find something to have made into a pendant for Treissae." "Let's take it to a Dwarf mining expert I know; he's right here in Graystone."

     "Hello and good day to you," a Dwarf greeted them as they neared the excavation. "Leeroy, this is Gruffin Goldtooth. Gruffin, this is my nephew."  "Pleased to meet you. What can I do for the Elder Mystic today?" "Show him, Leeroy." The Inquisitor did so. "Hmm.. that is a strange rock. Where did you say you got it?" "Near the aqueduct in a cliff face."  The Dwarf examined the stone closely and turned it toward the sun, then dipped it in a bucket of water. "Aha. I honestly didn't know these existed so close to Qeynos.  Young man, you have found the biggest blue diamond I have ever seen."

     Blue diamond? Leeroy wondered. "Are those rare or something?"  "Aye, they are, and for one to be this big and good quality is nearly unheard-of.  This is worth a fortune; a person could live like a nobleman on the money this would bring."  The young priest paced back and forth. It was tempting but he had privately pledged he would find a fine stone and make a promise pendant for Treissae. He gave a deep sigh and said, "I'm not selling it. I want to have it cut and made into a pendant." "Aye, lad, if that's what you want, I can do it. I have a century's experience at this sort of thing."

      When they were out of earshot Leeroy said to Tabaar, "A century? How long do Dwarves live anyhow?"  "Oh, about 200 years or so, sometimes a bit more.  I've met one 250 years old. They think we Northmen are like dayflies, here and gone before ye know it. But we do pack a lot of living into our lifespans in my opinion." "What determines lifespan?" the Inquisitor wanted to know. "Well, each race seems to  have strengths and weaknesses built in that partly determine that, and maybe their creators made them that way too.  For instance, elves are weak physically but they do live for centuries, while we are strong but we don't live past 90 years except very rarely."  "Why is that? We don't take ill easily; we are big and strong."  "Aye but there's the rub.  Our size means we have a lot of hard work to do to stay alive.  Mostly it's a question of blood flow. Our hearts just wear out and give out.  Nothing to be helped."

      Leeroy pensively mulled this over in private for many hours; he didn't even sleep that night. He had not even thought about the lifespan difference. How old was Treissae? She looked young but that didn't mean a lot.  She had mentioned her parents were concerned over her life choices so she must be fairly young but again Feir'Dal aging would be at a slower rate.  For all he knew she was older than Gruffin the Dwarf.  But this wasn't his real concern. What bothered him was that if he were to propose to her, and she accept, how long would he be able to remain in this world? Would the mere decades be worth it to her? Would it be fair to her?

       In the end he decided to appeal to a higher power.  Leeroy had long ago learned that body posture influenced soul posture, so  he crouched low as he could in a corner and bowed his head, entreating Karana to give him some sort of guidance in the matter. "I need some sort of sign of what to do.  I love her but her best interests have to come first.  Please help me to see this through and whatever happens, accept and understand." As he stood up again, the young Northman got the distinct impression that he was supposed to stay with and protect the Wood Elf, no matter what. "I love her so much..." his voice trailed off. Then, "I will do what ye command, Stormfather."

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Old 04-05-2009, 01:49 PM   #70
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     Treissae checked the mail and this time she had a letter from home.  After she got back to her apartment she excitedly tore off the seal and began to read. But the content was not what she expected. It was on her parents' stationery but.... all the blood drained from her face and she sat down, whispering "oh, no...."

     The letter read, My dear Treissae, I can only suppose you have forgotten that I expected you back here and married to me by this time.  Well, since you have seen fit to gallivant with some barbarian, I have taken matters into my own hands.  Your parents are my guests until such time as you come to your senses and do the right thing.  I cannot guarantee their continued comfort for very long as I am not a patient man.  So you will agree that it is best that you make haste back here to ensure your father and mother continue to pursue long lives.  I am having  your mother add a message so you believe me. And I know you are intelligent and won't make the mistake of showing anyone this letter or telling its contents.

             Your future husband, Jerath

     Please do as he says, Treissae....

  

     She packed in a frenzy, tears streaming down her face. How could this be? Her parents held hostage so she could be forced into a marriage she didn't want...Treissae wept bitterly and tried to fathom such evil. How could she have so misconstrued the situation? Jerath had never shown a lot of interest; indeed, it was her parents and his trying to arrange a match. What was he after, and how or why had he changed so much?  And what was she to do now about Leeroy?  Treissae realized she had fallen in love with the Northman, and she suspected he felt the same.  Now that dream was only ashes.

      The morning had nearly become afternoon before Leeroy came awake with a start.  He hurriedly dressed, got something to eat, then went to see Gruffin about that pendant.  "Aye, young man, it's ready."  The dwarf opened a box and took out a sparkling gem set in a gold necklace. "Here ye are." The Inquisitor stared at the jewel. "It's beautiful," he murmured. "She'll love it, I hope. Gruffin, what do I owe ye?"  "Don't worry about it; Tabaar took care of the details."

      The Wood Elf had to tell someone she was leaving, so she stopped at Tabaar's door and luckily he was there.  "What is it, child?" he wanted to know.  "Tabaar, I got a letter from home and I have to go back to Kelethin as quickly as I can." Tabaar furrowed his brow in concern. "Is there an emergency?" "I have to go home and.... I have to marry the man they want me to..."  The Elder Mystic did a double take.  "What? And what are ye going to tell my nephew?" Treissae's lip quivered as she struggled to frame a reply. "I... I don't know.." "Child, he is going to be heartbroken. And ye have to tell him. I will get a druid to send ye to yer homeland. Ye have to do the rest."

      Leeroy moved quickly through the streets and tried Treissae's door. No one home? Strange. He headed over to Tabaar's house and to his surprise the Wood Elf was there. "Treissae!  I am so glad to see ye. How..." then he saw the look on her face and stopped abruptly in confusion.  "What is wrong?" he asked.  Treissae began to sob, shaking her head. "Ye have to tell him," Tabaar remarked. "Tell me what?" Leeroy felt the first pricklings of dread. "Oh, Leeroy, they're making me come home and... and... I have to marry Jerath!"

     His face flushed deeply as the full realization set in.  "Do ye know what I came to see ye for? I was going to ask ye to marry me.  Good thing I didn't make a fool of myself. I won't wish ye ill but I will not congratulate ye."   Treissae saw the pain and reproach in Leeroy's eyes and began to cry anew. "Aye, cry all ye want, but ye have made a choice. I have none.  I made a promise to Karana that I would protect ye and I will." 

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Old 04-06-2009, 06:49 AM   #71
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    The druid's spell placed them at the ring of stones in western Greater Faydark.   Treissae looked around and saw Leeroy there behind her, his face like stone as he stared at the eastern horizon. "Don't talk to me," he grated. "Just lead the way."

     It wasn't too far and soon they reached one of the acorn lifts. The Wood Elf walked in and waited for the Barbarian to follow.  He ducked inside and stood against a wall.  The lift rose toward the treetops and the city of Kelethin.  Leeroy's shoulders were knotted with tension and he nearly jumped when the platform docked with a slight thump.  Treissae got her pack and walked out into the city. He followed at a distance, watching for danger as was his habit.  They came up a bridge, then another, into a residential area. 

     Treissae realized that Jerath might see Leeroy. Hopefully he wouldn't equate him with her, and cause any harm to her parents. What could she do?  But the Inquisitor solved that problem with an unexpected question. "Is that yer parents' home?" "Yes." "All right then I will take my leave of ye. Have a good life," he said in a low tone. "What will you do?" "I don't know, but once ye are wed to another man I will not be able to abide the sight of ye." Leeroy turned away and to Treissae's shock began to weep, his shoulders shaking from the effort.  He waved his hand in a peremptory gesture. "Just go."

     She took a few steps toward the door, looked back, then took a few more. The door opened and there was Jerath, hands on hips. "Where have you been? Get in here now!" Treissae hesitated and started to look back. Jerath grabbed her by the front of her blouse and slapped her in the face, hard.  "I said get in here, and you had better obey!" In shock and pain she saw her parents were guarded by Jerath's parents. "Now before witnesses we will become man and wife."

     What was he to do? Jump? Try to live a meaningless life? But before he could stop himself he looked back for one last glimpse of the woman he had fallen deeply in love with. To his utter horror, a Wood Elf man - Jerath? grabbed her by the arm and backhanded her. Leeroy flew into a rage and ran full-tilt into the just-closed door, bursting it off its hinges and half-falling into the house. All at once he saw the man who was mistreating Treissae, and two more men and women. 

    "Get him!" yelled Jerath as he dragged Treissae in front of him.  Leeroy had lost all semblance of a civilized being, and the two who rushed him with daggers drawn didn't have a change. He grabbed the man and woman, slamming them together so hard that blood splashed the walls. He dropped the bodies and pivoted toward Jerath, who now held a knife to Treissae's throat.  Without hesitation the Inquisitor let out a bloodcurdling yell that caused the male Wood Elf to drop his weapon and turn to run.  Leeroy spun him around and punched him in the throat then broke his neck.

     The red rage faded abruptly and Leeroy stared, aghast at what he had done. He spun around and stumbled out the splintered door and ran through Kelethin, stopping in the market square in despair.  Time to wait for the guards and yer punishment.  How could he face anyone now? Tabaar would disown him. All Halasians would shun him.  And what would the Wood Elves do to a murderer? He heard shouts and voices indicating his whereabouts, and soon he was surrounded by menacing, well-armed guards.

      As soon as she was free of the knife, Treissae had run to her parents and cut their bonds with a dropped dagger. Then Leeroy had run out the door. "Oh no!" she cried. "Don't let him get away!"  Just then her mother Fanada let out a gasp, and her father, Melquon, looked to see. "No wonder!" The bodies on the floor had changed a bit... they were not Wood Elves at all but well-disguised Dark Elves, and now the illusion was wearing off. Melquon shouted for guards and snapped out quick instructions as Fanada pointed out the Dark Elven remains.

     They bound his hands behind him and led him back toward the scene. He didn't resist in his shame and despair. Leeroy was certain that he had a hearing with the Tribunal very soon indeed, and he was dreading the guilty verdict.  This had been the worst day of his life, and he honestly just wanted it to be over, forever.  One of the guards gave him a shove and ordered him to drop to his knees; he did so and closed his eyes.  "Is this who you wanted us to find?" one of them addressed someone. "Yes, that's him," came another voice.  "Why are his hands tied?" "Isn't he a dangerous criminal?" "No, he's not.  In fact, he's a hero; he saved us all from a takeover by the Teir'Dal."

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Old 04-06-2009, 08:03 AM   #72
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     Leeroy looked up, startled.  A what? A Wood Elf man was watching him, and he didn't seem angry; in fact he held out his hand in a welcoming gesture.  "Young man, you are under my hospitality and roof," he stated. "My name is Melquon Enothie; I am the headman of Kelethin.   My wife Fanada is recordkeeper."  "But.. what about those people I killed?"  "Cut his bonds," Melquon addressed the guards, then, "come see, Northman."

     Once inside, Melquon drew a sheet aside to reveal the corpses.  Leeroy stared in shock. Dark Elves? Anger burned within him then; the Teir'Dal had been the bane of his existence from the time he was a small child.  If it weren't for them...Melquon saw the look in his eyes and thought he understood.  "You saved us from these.  Either they killed and replaced the Conthanie family, or they were really Dark Elves from generations past, biding their time.  If they had succeeded in forcing my daughter Treissae to become Jerath's wife, they would have had complete control. They had no intention of letting my wife and I go.  We would have had convenient accidents after willing them control over our affairs."

     The Inquisitor's thoughts were muddled. He had stopped Dark Elves? He had had the revenge that he had so desired for so long? Then why did he feel drained and emotionless?  "I am no hero. In fact, I have no right to even be here.  I will be on my way." "Why would you go? I don't think my daughter would want you to leave her behind." Wild hope flared up in Leeroy. Could it be possible? That she would still care about him? He turned as Melquon called out Treissae's name.

     She had been sobbing so loudly that she didn't hear the commotion in the next room. But her father called her name and she bolted off the bed and into the sitting room to find that the Northman was standing there, gaping at her. Could he still care about her, after all she had put him through? Treissae took a couple of steps forward, then rushed into the room and Leeroy's waiting arms.

     "I'm so sorry," she sobbed. "I couldn't tell you why because my parents were in danger. He would have killed them if he thought anyone else knew..." Leeroy held her tightly as the tears rolled down his face. "I would  have done anything to help," he said. "I would give my life for ye."  He drew back then, and reached into a pocket, drawing out a small bag.  "I have to ask ye this," he continued. "With this I pledge my body, soul and life to ye." He drew forth a blue diamond pendant necklace. "Will ye marry me?"

     Treissae had never seen such a beautiful diamond, nor one so large. But the most gorgeous thing in the room was the soulful look in Leeroy's eyes; there was nothing there but the essential self: no guile, no tricks, no false ego.  He had bared his soul to her in total trust; he had nothing left to give.  "Yes. Yes, Leeroy of Clan Hammersmite, I will marry you. Today."

     Joy lit up the young Northman's face; with shaking hands he placed the pendant around Treissae's neck and then hugged her tightly again.  He looked to see her parents standing nearby. "Well I think this might be why we kept that thing," Fanada said to Melquon. "You're right! Ioemir gave it to Heldorm for a wedding gift! That would be so fitting as this young man is as much a hero as the Shaman of Justice was."  Melquon turned back to Leeroy. "Young man, come with me."  The Inquisitor followed the headman into another room. "Wait here."  In a few moments Melquon returned carrying a framelike object. Leeroy really couldn't see it all that well, but it sparkled.

     "All right, Leeroy. I need you to do something you are going to find strange. Just trust me. Remove all your clothes."  Leeroy hesitated, then shrugged and began doing so.  What that object was for, he didn't know.  But he decided to trust Treissae's father.  He piled his clothing neatly on a table and stepped back. "Now hold out your arms and don't move," Melquon instructed.   He touched the object to the young Northman's bare back, and it seemed to become a robe, stretching to cover him all over, then abruptly it disappeared.  "You can get dressed." "What did ye do?" "I will tell you after you are clothed and come back out to the sitting room."

     "Leeroy and Treissae, I expect you will be closely bonded in marriage.  But Elves live a lot longer than the People of the North.  Therefore, as a wedding gift to you, I have taken it upon myself to grant you the Sacred Robe of Longevity."  The Inquisitor blinked in confusion and then comprehension dawned. "Ye mean that... thing.. will make me live longer?" "Yes indeed, young man. Barring accident, you should live about double your normal lifespan."

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Old 04-13-2009, 03:02 AM   #73
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      Tabaar sat in his study, along with Tyndall, Reesling, Kebia, and Jimbob. "Well, that's what happened," the Elder Mystic concluded. "I just don't think we will ever see Leeroy again.  He was devastated when Treissae announced she was marrying another man, but he accompanied her back to Kelethin because he had vowed to." He got up and paced around the confines of the small room. 

     "Why not take a trip to Kelethin and find out what has happened?" Kebia asked.  "At least we can get some sort of update on the situation from the Enothies."  "Aye, it's an idea, Dad," Tyndall echoed. "Maybe he's still there, or at least left some word of his destination."  Tabaar sighed. "I don't hold out much hope.  Ye weren't there to see how crushed Leeroy was.  He might have lost his will to live."

     A sharp knock on the door interrupted their discussion. Jimbob went to answer it and called out, "There's a druid here with orders to send Tabaar to Kelethin, and anyone who wishes to accompany him."  The Elder Mystic rushed to confront the messenger. "What are the details, druid?" he demanded. "The Enothie family said to make all haste to Kelethin, to bring yourself and a few close friends." "All right, make the portal now; we are five for Kelethin."  Tyndall led Reesling to the portal and all stepped through. 

     He felt full of boundless energy.  Leeroy trotted back and forth outside and finally began climbing up into the canopy.  Treissae followed him in amusement; she had no idea that Barbarians could even do so.  Finally he stopped and sat down on a fairly wide branch overlooking the city.  "Come sit by me, Treissae."  She did so and he bent to kiss her.  He felt like fire was running through his veins; this was so good.  Hopefully they could hold the ceremony very soon; waiting was driving him to distraction.

     From the druid rings the party rushed into the city. Guards pointed out the Enothie house and the waiting headman.  "Welcome, welcome.  I am Melquon Enothie."  The Wood Elf bowed to the Elder Mystic. "Tabaar Hammersmite, I presume?"  "Aye, and what news do ye have for us?" "Your nephew saved us from a terrible fate.  We were held hostage to force a marriage for our daughter that would have put disguised Dark Elves in charge of Kelethin.  Luckily, he saw something and ran in here like a maddened bull. He killed all three of them somehow; I never saw anything like it."  Tyndall frowned. "Then where did he go?" "Oh, he's around I am sure." The Wood Elf whistled loudly.  "On our way, Father," came Treissae's voice from somewhere up in the trees.  Then with a shower of leaves and twigs, Leeroy landed on the platform.

     "Hello there," he said as he staggered to his feet.  "Am I glad to see ye, Tabaar." He turned and held out his arms and Treissae jumped down.  "Good day all of ye. This is our wedding day and Uncle I would like for ye to do the honors."  Tabaar stared at his nephew. It was like he was a different man.  Leeroy seemed to exude a strong vitality that wasn't entirely due to his anticipated wedding.  "Let's go inside and discuss matters," Melquon announced. "And you can introduce the others."

     "Melquon, this is my son Tyndall, my protege Jimbob and his wife Kebia, and this is Reesling."  "I welcome you to Kelethin." Fanada walked in and observed the visitors.  What was wrong with that one Barbarian?  Ah, he was blind. To her surprise, the man turned her way and bowed.  "Reesling, bard of Qeynos at yer service."  "How did you know I was here?"  "I heard ye come into the room," he replied. "This is my wife, Fanada," indicated the headman. 

      "Let's get this started," Tabaar announced.   Leeroy knelt down in front of the Elder Mystic.  Treissae stood alongside, with everyone else seated on the floor.   "We have gathered here today to witness the sacred binding rite of marriage between Leeroy of Clan Hammersmite, and Treissae of House Enothie." Tabaar looked around. "Does anyone bring challenge to this union?"  He waited a few seconds; no one spoke. "All right then. As a sacred trust in the ancient tradition of the Halasian people, I have been given authority to perform the rite.  I am honored and happy to do so."

     "Leeroy, do ye promise to enter into sacred marriage with honor and virtue? To protect and cherish Treissae as long as ye shall live?"  Leeroy nodded, choked up, then faintly, "Yes, I do."  "And Treissae, do ye promise to enter into sacred marriage with honor and virtue, to support and cherish Leeroy as long as he shall live?"  "I do."  "By the authority given me, and in front of witnesses,  I declare Leeroy and Treissae husband and wife."

     "Ye may kiss the bride."

    

    

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Old 04-14-2009, 12:28 PM   #74
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   "That's about the fastest wedding I've ever performed," Tabaar remarked as Leeroy and Treissae disappeared into the newlywed house.  "I am just so relieved that everyone is all right, that Kelethin is safe," Melquon answered.  "It's small enough repayment to have no objection to the marriage," added Fanada. "They seem so happy." "Aye, and I think I've never seen Leeroy so... I can't describe it but he seems more alive, somehow," Kebia remarked.  "Exactly," the Elder Mystic mused. "Is there something about this place?" "No, actually it's something I did as a sort of wedding gift," Melquon sheepishly replied. "I suppose I should have told him what I intended but it was an impulsive gesture."  Tabaar took a step forward. "What did ye do?"  "I'll start at the beginning."

    "You know of course the story of the legendary Halasian Shaman of Justice, Heldorm Snowreader?" "Indeed; every shaman learns all the lore and stories of the man who helped save Halas during the Gnoll War a thousand years ago."  "Well, some of us Feir'Dal still remember what he did for us, too. Saved the life of a baby who would grow up to be a pivotal figure in the War of the Fay."  Melquon thought for a moment then continued, "He married a Feir'Dal druid, Aelwyl, who was the child's godmother.  The child's father, my grandfather, gave him a magical robe, the Robe of Longevity, crafted by Koada'Dal in the distant past and entrusted to our people before the loss of the Koada'Dal city of Takish-Hiz.  The robe became a part of Heldorm, and he was strong and vital for the rest of his life, which was very long for a Northman.  I believe they celebrated over 100 years of wedded bliss." "I don't understand though what this has to do with Leeroy," Tabaar remarked.  "Oh, well finally came a day when Heldorm realized his life was coming to an end.  He told Aelwyl to remove the robe, knowing that when she did, he would die immediately.  She kept it in a box until the end of her life, then willed it to my mother, who recently gave it to me. Tabaar, your nephew is a hero to us.  I put the robe on him just before you got here."

     The Elder Mystic's jaw dropped.  "What?" Tyndall broke in. "Ye mean he's going to live longer than normal?"  "Yes, by quite a bit." "Did ye think about his clan?" Tabaar wanted to know. "I don't expect to be around all that long.. but look at my son here. What will it be like to see his cousin seemingly still young when he is old and gray?"  "No, I honestly didn't consider that, but what is done is done. It cannot be removed now.  But consider that if he and Treissae have children, they will inherit the Feir'Dal tendency to longevity.  At least now he will be around to see them grow up and maybe even have children of their own."

    "Of course," Kebia said. "I for one will be glad to see the years unfold, and I will keep a record of this for future generations.  As a Dwarf, I will outlive the non-Elves here.  So I already feel that I understand the situation, and will be a constant frame of reference for Leeroy as the decades pass.  You can count on me to lend any support and help he will require in the future."  "Thank ye, Kebia, that is very much appreciated."  Reesling carefully felt his way to where he had left his guitar. "I'm going to write a song about this day," he remarked.  Then he grinned. "I wonder how the kids are doing?"

     The moment the door had shut, Leeroy had turned to Treissae with a look of deep longing and need.  His eyes glittered and were so dilated they looked almost black in the candlelight.  He dropped to his knees and hugged her tightly, then began kissing her face and neck. She responded in kind, and surprised him by trying to undo his shirt.  Leeroy was all too willing to help, and soon he also had her dress undone.  In a daze they made their way to the bedroom, and it wasn't long before they lost all track of anything but each other.  

     She woke up later, not knowing how many hours had passed.  Leeroy, sated and exhausted, had fallen fast asleep and was still sprawled across the bed, leaving not a lot of room for Treissae. She huddled next to him and pulled a quilt over for warmth.  Strange thing, love.  She had been a bit apprehensive but he had been enthusiastic and yet gentle, and nature had taken its course.  The Wood Elf gazed at the sleeping Northman, cherishing this moment and hoping there would be many more like it.

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Old 04-26-2009, 02:48 AM   #75
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     He awoke in semidarkness, disoriented at first.  Leeroy turned his head to see an Elven form nestled up against his chest.  A slow smile spread across his face as he realized that the worst day of his life had in the space of five minutes turned into the best one.  He had married the woman he thought he had lost forever - my wife, he silently exulted - and the experience was beyond his wildest dreams.  If this is only a dream, Karana, don't ever let me wake up.

     Back at the headman's house, the party had wound down. Everyone had had plenty to drink and eat, and Reesling had provided great music.  Even now the bard clutched a bottle in one hand and his guitar in the other, teetering precariously as he tried to navigate the room.  "Come on now, Reesling," Tabaar remonstrated. "Sit down before ye fall down and wreck that nice instrument... or worse, spill good ale."  "I am fine," the bard retorted. "I'sh just had a.. whoops.." Tyndall grabbed his arm before he could trip over a table and firmly shoved him into a chair.  "Sit down please," the guardian added. "All right all right," Reesling grumbled. Then his head dropped forward and he began snoring softly, to everyone's amusement.

     Leeroy didn't want to get up yet but nature called. He carefully climbed out of the bed and padded into the wash room. While there he decided to use the bath; it was a cleverly designed setup with a rain barrel on the roof for wash water.  He carefully got in the tub; it was a tight fit but he managed.  The water was tepid but he had washed in a lot colder.  After he was finished he toweled off and drained the tub, then walked back into the bedroom.

     Treissae stretched and yawned, then looked up to see Leeroy standing there watching her.  She took a really good look at him and he noticed her interest.  He raised his head a little, his face showing a faint smirk, and shifted his stance slightly so as to flex a bit.  The Wood Elf smiled softly. "I love you, Leeroy," she murmured.  He blinked slowly and walked over to her. "I love ye so much," he replied. "I don't know what I would have done without ye." "Just come back and lie down beside me and love me," she answered.  He didn't need any further encouragement....

     Later on when they got up and got dressed,  Leeroy announced he was hungry. "Let's go over to my parents' house and see if there is any food left," Treissae offered.  They walked hand in hand back over to the Enothie house and knocked on the door.  Fanada answered it and welcomed them in, "Come in, daughter and son-in-law." The others were sitting around talking quietly, except for Reesling who had a blanket thrown over him and was asleep in a chair.  Tabaar climbed to his feet and gave Leeroy a bear hug.  "How's married life?" he asked.  "It's fantastic," the Inquisitor replied.  "I'm still pinching myself to see if I'm dreaming." The Elder Mystic turned then to Treissae. "Young lady, ye have made my nephew a happy man.  In turn I hope he keeps ye happy and safe, and may ye both derive the greatest pleasure from yer union. May it be a long and joyous one!"

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Old 05-07-2009, 12:50 AM   #76
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     "Melquon told us what he did for ye," Tabaar mentioned. "It's likely to cause some difficulties for ye with some of our people years from now when they notice ye not aging at the rate we do."  He sighed. "Not that I'm against it; when I was reminded that any children ye have will be slower to age also because of being half Elven, I realized that ye would see them grow up and start families of their own."  The Elder Mystic leaned forward and gripped Leeroy's shoulders. "Whatever happens, now or in the future, ye are always family and clan."

      Fanada served a meal fit for royalty. "This is great," Leeroy offered between bites. "It's just something I threw together," she replied.  The young Northman had been famished, and he tore through serving after serving until even Tabaar raised an eyebrow.  "Sorry, I was just so hungry," Leeroy murmured when he saw his uncle's reaction.  "Boy, yer wife is going to be worn to a frazzle feeding ye," the shaman laughed.  "Mmm... do I smell food?" came a voice from across the room. "Aye, Reesling, come on over and get yerself some."  "Don't mind if I do," the bard replied and made his way over. "Can someone direct me to the facilities first?" Tyndall led him to the washroom while Fanada made up a plate of food.

     When he was seated, Reesling tapped his fork on his plate for attention. "I have something I need to say.  First, I apologize for getting drunk and passing out. Not my usual habit." "We weren't offended," Jimbob said. "Amused, maybe," snickered Tyndall. Tabaar silenced his son with a glare. "Anyhow," continued the bard, "I had a dream. No, maybe more of a vision.  It didn't fade when I awoke, so I am impressed with it.  First of all, I don't care to dream, because in dreams I can see, and when I wake it's so disappointing.  But I paid attention to this one."

      "I was held in place while possibilities were paraded before me.  In one, Leeroy stayed true to his Inquisitor training.  In another, he was retrained as a Templar.  Then each timeline was laid out before me, and I was told to choose one to follow. I naturally chose the Templar one.  To my surprise, that line had a tragic occurrence that caused great repercussions." He held up a hand to forestall comments. "I cannot tell ye what happened; I was forbidden to do so. Then I was shown the reality in which he retains his present skills.  For some reason, that one was missing the tragedy."  Reesling sat back and took a deep breath. "I think it was Karana who showed me this; I cannot be sure.  He warned me to tell ye only what I have."

      The Elder Mystic stared at his friend.  Reesling, roguish though he might be, was not in the habit of fabricating stories for effect.  If he said something was so, it was.  "If ye were told this, there was a reason," Tabaar said.  "Nephew, what do ye think?"  Leeroy was staring off into space, obviously affected by the bard's words.  "Huh? Oh, it fits somehow.  I have been somehow discouraged from approaching the Temple in Qeynos several times. Every time I planned to, something happened to distract me.  And yes I got used to being a cleric in the Freeport style. I don't really want to lose that."

      Tabaar replied, "One thing ye will have to remember, though. Ye will never be accepted fully in Qeynos.  Clan wise, ye are judged on yer own merits, as the Tribunal demands.  Family wise, ye are accepted unconditionally.  The only person who can change that is yerself.  So when we go back to Qeynos, Clan Hammersmite will offer some protection... and I will offer all I have.  Like I said, ye are family.  We stand up for each other, protect each other, and support each other." The Inquisitor nodded, eyes bright. "I in return pledge my support for family and clan, and to never let my skills cause any harm to Qeynos' best interests."

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Old 06-29-2009, 02:17 PM   #77
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There was more to it than that, to be honest. He'd only told part of the truth about his approaches to the Temple. Leeroy had asked around discreetly about the subject of citizenship and retraining, and what he'd learned had shocked him. It seemed that they used a technique very similar to what he had suffered at the hands of the Dark Elves. Voluntary, sure, but still a so-called "selective" wiping of memories. What would one lose? The abilities, learned and practiced, yes, but what else? Would he lose some essential traits? Not be the same person? He just couldn't bring himself to take that final irreconciliable step to prove himself loyal to Qeynos.

"I need to speak to Treissae alone," the Inquisitor announced. They got up and walked outside, away from the building. "Let's climb up," he added. "Less ears to hear." She was still surprised how agile he was for such a big man; she followed him well up into the canopy until his weight started to bend a branch. "All right. I need to tell ye this. I have thought about what Reesling said, and what I found out when I was in Qeynos. It would distress me greatly if I was forced to go through the process, but it is all up to ye." "I don't understand why it would be so bad," she replied. "Ah, but they would erase my abilities as an Inquisitor. I could lose memories. And to go through what the Tier'Dal already did to me once..." Leeroy shuddered. "And ye heard Reesling. Something tragic will happen if I do become a Templar." "I couldn't force you to do something like that," the Wood Elf answered, eyes brimming. "I will love you no matter what."

Tabaar looked up as the young couple returned. "What say ye, nephew?" Leeroy sat down and stretched his legs. "I say that I cannot in good conscience endanger someone by going against Karana's warning to Reesling." The bard nodded and murmured his agreement. "So because of this I will always be on the fringe, never accepted. But I will do everything else I can save that final step, to assure those of Qeynos... and Kelethin.... that I am not a threat." "Indeed ye aren't. But getting others to agree isn't so easy." The Elder Mystic came to a decision. "In fact, give me some time to smooth things and make some arrangements." "I have an idea," Kebia offered. She turned to Jimbob and they discussed something in low tones. Then the Dwarf announced, "Treissae, Leeroy, this wedding was unexpected and Jimbob and I didn't have a gift for you. We have a beach house in Sinking Sands and this week it's empty. We'd be happy to have you use it."

It was a short boat ride to the Desert of Ro, but what a different climate it had from what Treissae was used to. "Where do we need to go?" she asked as they disembarked. "Kebia gave me directions; it should be that way past the bluff about 2 miles," Leeroy replied as he pointed north. "That's quite a ways," she answered. Leeroy smiled. "Don't worry, I'll carry our packs." He set off with a ground-eating stride until Treissae started to fall behind. "Oh, sorry," the Halasian said and waited for her to catch up. "Here, let me help ye." To her surprise, he simply hoisted her to his shoulder and set off again at a rapid pace.

The cabin was set near the water but on high ground, overlooking a cove. Leeroy set Treissae down and she unlocked the door. "So nice of Kebia and Jimbob to lend us the place," she remarked, and walked in. The Northman followed, ducking to enter the low doorway. He set down the packs as the Wood Elf looked around. A movement caught her eye and she glanced back at Leeroy. His eyes glittered with excitement as he rapidly divested himself of most of his clothing. Then, clad only in a pair of shorts, he ran out the front door. Treissae followed to see what he was up to. It wasn't what she expected; he was down the path and into the water already and swimming about, back and forth. To her vast amusement, Treissae realized that the huge Northman was playing. He cavorted and shouted with delight as the water buoyed him up; obviously he was in his element. When she swam over to him, he hugged her, causing them both to go under the surface. She popped back up like a cork while he did a slow somersault a few feet down, then he broke the surface with a grin. "I didn't know you liked swimming so much," Treissae said. "If I could live in water I would," Leeroy replied.

After a while they waded out onto the beach and climbed back up the slope to the cabin. "I hope they have some fresh water to wash off this salt," Treissae remarked. "Aye, yer dress is sopping wet and sandy too," Leeroy observed. He searched around the cabin and found what he was after. "Come back here, love," he called out. The Wood Elf rounded the building to find the Northman pumping a handle on a curved pipe. Water poured out onto him and ran down the slope. She came over and got under the flow. "Much better," she said as she rinsed her hair. "Where is this fresh water coming from though?" Leeroy ducked down and traced the pipe. "Hmm. I wonder...." he followed the trace of the buried plumbing to the cliff face. "Aha. It's a wellspring. Water comes down from the mountains and goes in the ground, and comes out down here in small streams. Someone piped this one, and a clever job it was." He returned to the spigot and finished rinsing. "I'd like to put on some dry clothes," Treissae said. Once inside the cabin, she took her bag in the bedroom and unpacked a spare dress. Leeroy stood in the doorway as she peeled off the wet garments. "I dont think ye need the dry ones just yet," he murmured. She turned around. "Ye know I never get tired of seeing ye, and I never will," he continued in a low but intense voice. "There is nothing, no one in this world that I care for more than yerself. And I intend to prove it now and every day I can."

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Old 07-18-2009, 05:21 AM   #78
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     "Are ye absolutely sure?" Tabaar asked his son. "This is a major change, and ye are affected the most."  "Aye, Dad, but it is a really good idea, and I think I'd like it a lot." "All right then, I will set things in motion. If ye would be so kind as to go let everyone know..." "Of course," Tyndall agreed. After giving it some thought, the guardian decided to have everyone meet at Reesling's home. Save him the trouble, he thought, and set out to let them all know.

     Later at the bard's house, a small crowd had gathered. "What's this all about?" Jimbob wanted to know. "I'll explain as soon as everyone's settled," Tyndall answered.   Reesling brought out a tray of drinks and everyone got a glass and sat down.  Tyndall shook his head in bemusement.  I'll never understand how he does that... I would spill something and I can see what I am doing.  He waved his hand for attention then cleared his throat for Reesling's benefit.  "Thank ye, Reesling for yer hospitality. I asked ye all here today as a favor to my father.  He made a proposal and I thought it would be a great idea. Here's what he said..."

     "Really? What an honor that would be!" exclaimed Kebia a few minutes later. "It's perfect," Reesling concurred.  Tyndall glanced around the room. "So do we have agreement on this? Halasian or not, this affects all of ye, and ye should know it will have the potential to complicate things."  "It's the least we can do," Redclaw put in.  "All right, let me put it another way.  Is there anyone here who has reservations about going ahead with the proposal? Once it is done, there is no going back." The Northman waited a few seconds. No one said a word.  "Then we are in agreement.  My father will begin the process."

     Leeroy and Treissae reluctantly gathered their belongings up, locked the cottage, and headed back to the docks to buy passage back to Qeynos. "I had such a good time," the Wood Elf said softly. "I want to do that again sometime." Her husband leaned down and kissed her. "Anytime ye want, love." He was still astounded that she loved and accepted him after all she had been through...Leeroy shuddered anew at the thought of how he had been Lucan D'Lere's tool.  It had taken him some time to understand that he wasn't to blame for his situation.  She loves me, that's all that matters now.

     Once on the boat, Treissae looked over at Leeroy as he found a good spot to set down their bags and relax. He was bronzed from the intense sun and she even had gotten a light tan.  She didn't know how to put it in words, so she never had, but being with him made her feel loved and protected....and something more she couldn't quite bring herself to say - he had totally given himself to her in such a way that she found fascinating. She knew he would literally do anything for her, and it was a sense of power that was almost intoxicating.  This went with the total trust she was able to give him, for she knew he would never hurt her in any way.

     The boat docked at the harbor that evening, and they disembarked to find a welcoming committee. "Welcome back," Tabaar exclaimed as he embraced his nephew.  "And young lady ye look enchanting," the older Northman remarked as he knelt and gave her a much gentler hug. "It's good to see ye both again.  Let's go over to Graystone Yard. There's something to discuss," the Elder Mystic added.     

      They were all assembled in the Hall of Law, waiting.  Tabaar led in the young couple and had them sit down at the very front. Leeroy was puzzled and a bit anxious; Treissae was totally mystified as to what was going on.  Everyone in Qeynos that knew them was there.  The Inquisitor turned to his uncle with a questioning look.  Tabaar held up a hand as if to say, just wait and see.  Then he walked to the back, swung the doors closed and bolted them. 

      "All right, this meeting will come to order. Many of ye know the circumstances behind my reunion with my long-lost nephew.  For those of ye who do not, here is a brief synopsis.  His parents made a pilgrimage when he was a small child, but were waylaid by bandits and killed. He was taken into slavery and sold to Freeport, where he grew up and was trained and certified as a clerical priest.  Somehow he escaped Freeport and traveled to Everfrost, which is where I met him by a most amazing coincidence.   Suffice it to say he is under my protection and that of Clan Hammersmite at all times.  But I realized the other day that merely being my relative isn't enough as far as that goes. And something else. It isn't enough as far as many of us have grown to care about, even love him.  My son Tyndall made a suggestion to me that has culminated in this most confidential of meetings."

       Leeroy knitted his brow. What was being said here?  He looked over at Treissae, who seemed as confused as he was.  "Young man, come up here," Tabaar was saying.  Leeroy jumped up abruptly and stood beside the Elder Mystic.  "One thing I always regretted was that I only had the one son. Tyndall, come up here too."  The guardian did so. "Do ye, Tyndall, have any objections going forward?" "None."  "Then we shall begin. Leeroy, turn to me."  The Inquisitor faced the Elder Mystic.  "Excellent. Leeroy, this ceremony is a formal and sacred one, binding as a most-binding oath.  Today, I am announcing a formal adoption.  Will ye agree to legally become my son?"

       He could only gape at the shaman for a long moment; he couldn't believe his ears.  Leeroy started to nod his head, unable to trust his voice, when the room turned a weird brownish color and the walls closed in.  Tabaar lunged forward and caught the slumping Inquisitor and lowered him to the floor as consternation broke out in the assembly. "It's all right, he just passed out," the Elder Mystic said as Treissae gasped and ran forward. "He'll be back with us in a few seconds."   Sure enough, already the young Northman was moving around and trying to sit up.  "Oh, how embarrassing," Leeroy muttered.  "I look like a fool." "Not at all," Tabaar replied. "It was obviously a shock." He helped the Inquisitor to his feet and waited for the commotion to die down.   "So what say ye?"  "I would be honored." "So scribe it today in the annals of Clan Hammersmite. Tabaar Hammersmite has a second son."

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      "I don't know what to say," Leeroy said after they had been seated in the tavern. "A round of ale for all, please," Tabaar ordered from the server.  "Ye might say, thanks Dad," he replied with an impish grin.   "Um...all right... thanks, Dad," the Inquisitor answered as he flushed with embarrassment.  "Hmmph!" Everyone looked to the bard, who had his hands out toward Leeroy. "I believe I have something for this young man also."  Reesling got up, picked up his guitar, and carefully felt his way to the small stage.  "Ye have turned all our lives upside-down, Leeroy, and I for one haven't enjoyed myself so much in a very long time. This is for ye, and Treissae."  The Wood Elf leaned against her Halasian husband as Reesling began to play.  

       "Tonight it's so very clear

        As ye both are sitting here

        There's so many things ye want to say

        The love ye both have for each other

        Never ever to be alone........

        Sometimes ye might forget

        But ye should never regret

        All the trouble and danger ye went through

        Ye don't want to lose that

        Ye never have to be alone......

        He's the one who fought for yer honor

        She's the one who put meaning in life

        Together ye can live knowing forever

        Ye did it all for the sake of love.

        Both keep each other standing tall

        Through sun and rain, through it all,

        Always strong when ye're side by side,

        Ye do it all for the sake of love.

        As the years go by, growing older,

       By leaps and bounds love grows stronger,

       Until neither knows where one ends

       And the other begins.......

       Still ye did it all for the sake of love,

       Ye both found light and glory in love,

       Ye did it all for love.

      Leeroy had not even realized how the song affected him until he tried to say, "Thank ye," and choked up.  He hugged Treissae tightly as the bard walked over to the table.  Reesling reached out a hand and touched the younger Northman's wet cheek, then smiled.  "I thought so.  Young man, yer thanks are greatly appreciated, but even more so is yer heart's response.  I will treasure this always."  He turned to Treissae, who was valiantly trying to suppress a sniffle.  "The same goes for ye, young lady.   Ye both need to know this: we all love ye."

     The celebration went on for hours, and everyone did have plenty to drink.  Treissae had never had much alcohol, so she was very tipsy indeed.  Kebia kept an eye on her in case she needed assistance.  Leeroy had been plied with way more ale than he could hold, and he was so far gone that he couldn't walk without help.   Tabaar and Tyndall assisted him in getting back to Tabaar's place; Jimbob was too drunk himself to be much help. He tagged along grinning and singing off-key to himself as his wife helped the Wood Elf make her way back to the Elder Mystic's house.  Tabaar set blankets out on the floor and bade the others lie down and get some rest, while Reesling got some water in a pitcher and urged everyone to have a glassful.  "It'll make hangover less severe," he intoned.  Leeroy got about half a glass of water down before he set it aside and simply lay down and was out in moments. Treissae tottered over to him and had a look. "He's asleep. What a good idea," she giggled.  Everyone agreed and bedded down for what remained of the night.

      In the morning a knock on the door woke some of them. "Ouch, not so loud," Leeroy muttered. He staggered to the door to find a messenger there. "Delivery of message for Tabaar Hammersmite." "He's here; I can take the scroll if ye like." "No, it's marked for his acceptance only." The Inquisitor went to get Tabaar, returning in a few moments with a bleary-eyed Elder Mystic. "I am Tabaar, there is a message for me?" The messenger had him sign a tablet, then handed him a scroll. "Thank you sir for using Qeynos Express Messenger Service."

     At the table the shaman unrolled the scroll.  "Good! I had lost contact years ago but...... Leeroy, yer father's side of the family doesn't live in the Qeynos area anymore. Most of them are either out in villages or trying to colonize Everfrost.  They are Clan MacQuarrie and have a proud history of independent folks; rogues and the like.  Yer father's sister had a son too. Do ye remember the name Raldyr?"  Leeroy frowned and thought.  "I'm not sure. How old was he when....when I was abducted?"  "Oh, he's about the same age as Tyndall, a couple years older than yerself."  Tabaar looked up.  "He's coming to visit in a couple of days; he lives out in the Windstalker Village area."  

       

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Old 09-15-2009, 04:06 AM   #80
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      By chance Treissae found a nice house for rent in South Qeynos near the Concordium Mage Tower, well away from the castle area with its all-too-vigilant mounted guards.  Leeroy looked around the neighborhood, then carefully inspected the home's interior.  "It looks good; what do they want for it?"  Treissae told him.   "Expensive....but it's what we're after.  Let's rent it for now."  Leeroy handed the Wood Elf a large stack of coins.  "Ye need to do all the buying, of course.  All I ask is that ye make sure any furnishings will be big enough for me." 

     Within a day the Wood Elf, with help from both her husband and Kebia, had transformed the place into an attractive home.  The showpiece was the attic conservatory, with shrubs and small trees, that truly gave the place a Faydark-like atmosphere.  There was a truly huge Halasian bed in the master bedroom and a trestle table by the kitchen.  Sturdy chairs lined one side of it, and ornate rugs added color and style.  "Very nice," the Inquisitor approved as he walked through each room in turn.  When he reached the bed, Leeroy hopped onto it.  It bounced slightly but otherwise held firm.  He grinned and hopped back off.  "I think it'll do," he smirked. 

     Raldyr looked back at his traveling companion.  "I still am not sure why ye wanted to come along," he remarked.  "I told ye, I haven't visited Qeynos in over twenty years and I wanted to see what changed."  The ranger stopped short and turned to face the druid.  "It's got to be more than that. Warlaa, I've known ye since I was a child and ye wouldn't just change yer mind like that." Warlaa sighed. "All right, but promise to tell no one." "I promise."  "I had a strange dream three nights ago.  I was trying to catch sight of a man who kept disappearing around corners.  Then I heard someone say, 'The unseeing voice will pursue and capture yer heart.'  Raldyr, I can't get that out of my mind."

     The ranger thought about it as they journeyed towards the city.  It wasn't any secret that Warlaa had lived in Windstalker village since the day her love had turned his face from Qeynos and had left for Freeport.  Rory had been a ranger also, and a skilled one.  He and Warlaa had been engaged to be married. But one day only a month or so before the nuptials, he had come to Warlaa with the proposal that they leave Qeynos and join the Overlord's forces. She had been aghast, and had remonstrated with Rory. But he was adamant that he was going, with or without her.  "There's no room in Freeport for the weak, and no room in my life for the weak either," was what he had said before disappearing forever.  Ever since, the druid had lived in self-imposed exile in the Antonican countryside.

     As they approached the gates, Raldyr stole a glance at the druid. Her face showed tension, and a bit of her forty-something age as she visibly made up her mind to continue.  He knew this had to be hard for her; he hoped never to be forced to choose between love and honor. "Approach the guard!" called out the Halasian manning the gate.  Raldyr and Warlaa did so. "Yer business in Qeynos?" "I am visiting; I received a message from the Elder Mystic that a long-lost relative has been found."  The guard's eyes lit up. "Ye don't say? Tabaar is my father. Ye must be Raldyr."  The ranger bowed. "Aye, that is me. And this is Warlaa, a druid of Windstalker Village who is making a trip here with me."  The guard smiled and tugged his braided beard. "I am Tyndall. I will escort ye to see the Elder Mystic," he declared.

     At Tabaar's house everyone was gathered, listening to Reesling. He sang several ballads then started in on a love song, one that he was about halfway through when there came a knock at the door.  "Keep going," Tabaar said as he went to answer it.   "Tyndall! And ye must be Raldyr! I am Tabaar Hammersmite; welcome to my abode. And young lady..." "Warlaa of Clan MacTavish," she offered.  "Warlaa... that name is familiar... wait here and I will go get the others."

     Warlaa was only half listening; the singer in the other room had totally captivated her. His baritone voice had thawed the heart she believed frozen for good.  She had to meet this man!  Into the room stepped a strikingly good-looking young man, probably at least fifteen years her junior.  Was this the singer? "Hello there," the young man greeted them as a Wood Elf woman joined him. No, this man had a pleasant bass voice; he wasn't the singer.  "Raldyr, this is yer cousin Leeroy," Tabaar was saying.  "Ye mean....oh, my mother will be so glad to hear this," Raldyr said as he embraced his cousin.  "What's this I hear? A family reunion in progress?" came a voice from the doorway.

     Startled, the druid glanced into the doorway. It was the voice she had heard! A dashing middle-aged man was leaning there against the doorframe, smiling.  "By all means, bring Raldyr over so I can find out what he looks like."  "Of course, Reesling," Tabaar replied.   The ranger walked to the doorway and stopped short, staring.  "This is Reesling, bard of Qeynos and my best friend," Tabaar added.  "Hello, Raldyr and Warlaa," the bard greeted them. "Ye might notice I am blind.  I'd like yer permission to touch ye each on the face so I can form a mental picture of what ye look like."  Warlaa's mind was racing.  This honey-voiced man could not see? What had happened to the poor creature?  "Come closer please, Warlaa," he was saying.  She did so and Reesling carefully traced her face with sensitive fingertips.  She shivered slightly.  "I'm sorry," he murmured, "But it's the only way I know to do this."  He was mistaken, though, if he thought she was uneasy or put off. On the contrary, Warlaa admitted to herself, she actually enjoyed the attention.  Could it be she was finally able to dare to live again?

    

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Old 09-26-2009, 12:32 PM   #81
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     Raldyr hung back, abruptly ashamed of himself.  Sure, he'd just been a boy back then but it didn't excuse what he had done.... "Raldyr, come closer, please," Reesling was saying.   "Um...I have something I need to say first," the ranger mumbled.  The bard heard the tone in his voice and nodded. "Go ahead." "When I was a boy we still lived here in Qeynos.  Like so many children I had a group of friends...we ran around together and did things. Some of those things were thoughtless and cruel. Reesling, we were the ones who liked to put things in yer way while ye were trying to walk down the street, jumped out of alleys screaming to startle ye, and the like." Raldyr's voice tightened with an effort at control. "I...want to ask yer forgiveness for the things I did.  If ye are angry at me I understand."  "Of course not, young man," Reesling replied, and stepped forward to grip the ranger's shoulder.  "I forgive ye; it's all in the past, as if it had never been."  He traced the younger man's profile and embraced him.  "Ye are family too.  Now let's all go have a few ales and some good food down at the tavern."

     The bard cut a jaunty figure as he moved at a surprisingly fast pace down the cobblestoned street, swinging his cane as he went.  The others followed or were alongside; Tyndall kept very close in case Reesling did trip on something.  Warlaa noted that they were ready to assist but didn't intrude on the blind man's dignity and independence.  It was obvious that Reesling was well-respected and loved, and that he returned the sentiment.   How had she forgotten things like this? Warlaa took a hard look at her self-exile and isolation.   Had it really done anyone any good?  She didn't think so now; there was so much she'd missed punishing herself for the actions of a foolish and evil man.  She needed to look forward and learn to trust again.

     After everyone was seated at a long table, Tabaar turned to the guard. "Are they on the way?" "Yes, Dad. Should be here soon."  The Elder Mystic then motioned to the Ranger.  "We have a lot to catch ye up on.  When Jimbob's family arrives we'll start." "Who's he?" "He's my protege, since this big lunk here didn't want to become a shaman," Tabaar replied with an affectionate slap to Tyndall's shoulder.  A few moments later the door opened to reveal a tall, slim Human accompanied by a Dwarf woman.  Following were some more Humans, some older, some around the first one's age. "Over here," Leeroy called out.  "I would like ye to meet our newest friends," Tabaar addressed the Human entourage. "This is Raldyr, Leeroy's out-clan cousin, and Warlaa, a friend from Windstalker Village.  Raldyr and Warlaa, these are the Stormwalker family. Jimbob, his wife Kebia, his father Archant and mother Roanna, his uncle Bolwyn," here Tabaar gave Bolwyn a pat on the shoulder, "and Jimbob's sister Gwenna and brother Gareth."

     "I met Bolwyn here back when I was sent to train at the Queen's Colony site.  We hit it off right away.  When we came back to the mainland I offered to help whenever he needed, Reesling also.  We had quite the effective force for exploration and protection.  Stormhold held no terrors for us!  It was funny when he stepped right on a loose board and nearly fell down an abandoned well; I grabbed his arm and we all had a good laugh."  The Elder Mystic had a faraway look in his eye. "Then his younger brother went for training.  While he did that, I courted and won my wife Aernatha, and Reesling started smuggling folks out of Freeport.  Life was good. But I had been warned when I chose my profession that it would come with a price."

     "Reesling was flashblinded by one of those vicious devices Lucan d'Lere had put in the sewers of Freeport. The smuggled family brought him to me; his face was burned and as for his eyes...there was no saving them. With a lot of  work, he managed to adjust.  My wife and I helped out as much as we could.  Then she became pregnant...I was so thrilled.  But oh I wish I had known what would happen.  Aernatha died in childbirth." Warlaa was immediately sympathetic. "Oh, no...did the baby live?" "Indeed; Tyndall was the only reason I was able to go on. I had a son to love and raise. But I barely functioned for a long time." Tabaar shook his head and rubbed his eyes. "I still miss her so very much."

     "Then my sister had a boy and the two spent a lot of time together; she was very motherly toward Tyndall.  One day about twenty years ago, she and her husband made a pilgrimage with their son and newborn daughter, and they disappeared.  No one knew what had become of them until one day recently I made a trip to Everfrost and met a man who rescued one of my traveling companions from drowning in Everstorm Bay. He turned out to be my long-lost nephew," Tabaar indicated Leeroy, "who had seen his parents brutally murdered and himself was sold as a slave to Freeport." 

     "But before that about five years my son Tyndall and his friend Jimbob helped thwart a one-necromancer army of undead in Qeynos' sewers.  Both were very nearly killed in the fight but managed to alert the guards to the danger, and both were rewarded for their valor." Tabaar took a deep breath. "I owe so much to friends and family." "Indeed," agreed Reesling. "But if Leeroy had been raised in Freeport, what did he do there?" Warlaa wanted to know. "Can I trust ye to keep this confidential?" asked Leeroy. Warlaa nodded. "All right. I am a priest. A cleric. I was trained in the Temple of War in Freeport."  The druid narrowed her eyes. "Ye mean ye're an Inquisitor?" "Aye, that is what I am."  "How does Qeynos tolerate ye?" "I stay away from their notice." "Also," Tabaar broke in, "not only is he my nephew, but I adopted Leeroy as my son recently. He's a Hammersmite, and now more than ever he's under my protection."

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Old 10-19-2009, 12:30 AM   #82
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It was a lot for both Warlaa and Raldyr to take in; they each had a lot of unanswered questions. The Ranger began to compare notes with Tyndall and Leeroy concerning their respective childhoods; Warlaa excused herself for a few minutes to get her bearings. "How can you be sure she won't try turning you in to the guard?" a worried Treissae quietly asked Leeroy. "Well, unless she wants to end up shunned or outlawed, she won't," he replied. "Tabaar made it clear that I am Clan Hammersmite, living by the rule of law." "So if you were outlawed, she would be within rights to report you." "Aye, that is right." The Inquisitor sat back and drained his ale.  "But since I don't plan to break any laws of clan or Northmen as a whole, I am about as safe as I can be." 

     Treissae wandered outside to find Warlaa still standing there, deep in thought.  "Oh, hello Treissae," the Druid greeted her. "Just been thinking. By the way, I am guessing ye're married to Leeroy." "Yes, we were married recently."  "That is one handsome man ye snagged for yerself there," Warlaa announced.  The Wood Elf looked at her in confusion. "What? I didn't know that." Warlaa gave vent to a hearty laugh. "That is so funny. Ye must think he looks like a gorilla or something. But I understand; I wouldn't find Wood Elf men attractive." "Do you have a husband?" Treissae asked. "Nay, I was in love once but I was jilted." "The same happened to Reesling when he had his accident. The woman broke their engagement."  "Really? He never married?"  "No, he's been a bachelor since from what I've been told."

      "I'll have to leave in the morning and head back home to Windstalker Village; my family needs me," Raldyr mentioned. "Aye, but do keep in touch, and always feel free to stop by if ye're in the area," Tabaar replied.  "Is Warlaa traveling with ye?" "I don't know yet. Ye'll have to ask her."

      "How did ye two meet? Was it love at first sight?" Warlaa asked Treissae. The Wood Elf shook her head ruefully. "No, I was terrified of him." "Why would that be?" "Well, I was a prisoner in a stinking dungeon in Freeport, and he was the Inquisitor in charge." "WHAT? I've got to hear this." The Druid listened with amazement as Treissae recounted the dramatic events. "He was so different from what I had expected of Barb-- sorry, Northmen," the Wood Elf continued. "I had heard all the stories of them being dirty brutes who loved war for its own sake. Not," she hastened to add, "from my parents though.  They never said anything ill against your people. But of course I half-believed the wild stories I heard; it's easier than actually getting to know someone. And then this Northman comes along and doesn't act like a brute.  Then he did something that really surprised me...."

      Reesling sat and half-listened to the others. His mind kept wandering, and he realized why.  A few minutes later Warlaa and Treissae  came back in and sat down.  Raldyr passed a slip of paper to the Druid, who looked at it with curiosity.  Remember your dream? Unseeing voice?  it read.  She looked up at the Ranger, then over at the Bard.  Warlaa shook her head in negation but then stopped and looked again. Was it possible? First, though, definitely he'd have to show her some sign of interest.

     The Bard to all appearances was casually sitting there nursing a stein of ale.  But his mind was in disarray; she had come back and sat down nearby.  Why was he reacting like an adolescent?  Certainly those days were long past.  And for sure she wouldn't want anything to do with a blind man.  To cover up his nervousness, Reesling announced he wanted to sing.  He picked out a tune on his guitar and everyone turned to listen. 

     When ye don't know what to do

      Run to me, run to me

      When ye don't know what to say

      Run to me....

      Ye know I'm not that far

      Wherever and whoever ye are

      Run to me, oh run

      When ye've cried all yer tears

      Run to me, run to me

      When ye've wearied with the years

      Run to me....

      I'm here to lend a hand

      When dreams turn to sand

       Run to me, oh run

      Run to me, run to me

      Oh run....

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Old 11-16-2009, 02:12 AM   #83
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     He covered for his nervousness by ordering another ale and engaging the group in a spirited conversation about their past adventures. Reesling didn't know what else to do. Tabaar eyed his friend with something approaching suspicion; the bard was certainly acting strangely. But why? The Elder Mystic looked around the room and sat back to think.

     Leeroy drained his glass of ale and grinned down at Treissae. "What do ye say to heading home about now?" The Wood Elf looked back at him with a small smile. "All right, but first you might want to wipe the foam out of your mustache." He did so, shaking his head in amusement as he stood up. "Leaving so soon?" Tyndall asked. "Aye, Treissae's a bit tired and I don't want to drink too much tonight. Let them know we said good night."

     Even as Tabaar watched his adopted son and daughter-in-law disappear through the door, he was still deep in thought and didn't move. A few moments later he sat up straight and took another look at Reesling, then he turned to observe Warlaa. Could it be they were attracted to each other? That would be sublime; the Elder Mystic had long given up hope that his friend would find a woman who would accept him for who he was.

     The Northwoman set down her drink and sighed. All the signs were there, and she felt that getting to know Reesling better was a good idea. She already liked his personality and how he had adapted to and overcome his disability as well as he could. Why couldn't she have met this man years ago? But Warlaa knew the answer was in choices made long ago. Could she take the initiative now? If I don't take a chance, nothing will ever change. The druid got up and walked over to the other side of the table. "Is this spot taken?" she asked. "No, have a seat," Tabaar gestured to the empty chair between him and the bard.

     She'd come over and sat down by him! Reesling had heard her walk over to sit by him; now she was talking with Tabaar and Archant about some place out in Antonica. "How about yerself, Reesling?" he heard her ask. "Were ye with them when they defeated the Scion of Darkness?" "Well, yes I was. We had come into the room but unbeknownst to us we had been noticed...."

     Warlaa had edged closer to Reesling as he recounted the tale. He was a natural storyteller and even though she was sure the story was an oft-retold one, everyone there listened intently. When he finished his account of the battle, everyone cheered as if it were last week's triumph, not decades ago. What struck her as appealing was his story had no hint of self-aggrandizement to it; in fact, he tended to make fun of his own role.  She wondered if he had always been like that, or whether Reesling had mellowed as he got older.  Whatever the case, she was finding herself fascinated. 

     Tabaar inclined his head in a gesture to the others at the table then discreetly indicated the druid and bard's increasing interest in each other.  Archant nodded, and he and Bolwyn walked away, followed by Jimbob and Kebia, then Roanna, Gwenna and Gareth.  Tyndall, Raldyr and Tabaar brought up the rear as they all stepped outside.  "Ye see all that?" the Elder Mystic asked. "Raldyr, since ye know Warlaa well, what is yer opinion on this?"  The ranger pursed his lips and thought about it a minute. "Well, I know she spent a lot of years mourning for the man who jilted her, but on the way back she recounted a dream to me that might just be prophetic." "In what way?" Tabaar prompted him.  "She mentioned the words 'The unseeing voice will capture yer heart', but until we heard and saw Reesling we didn't know what it meant," Raldyr answered.  "This has to be a sign, Dad," Tyndall added.  "We all love and wish the best for Reesling at all times," Tabaar replied. "Let's hope this is more than wishful thinking."

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     He rolled over and looked down at the Wood Elf; she gave him a sleepy smile. Leeroy silently thanked Karana once again for the gift of this woman's love. "We need to be up and seeing to the day," he said softly. "I want to talk to Raldyr again before he leaves." Treissae kissed him on the cheek and got up. "Of course," she replied. "I'll take a quick bath then make us something to eat."

     A little later they arrived at Tabaar's house to find both the Elder Mystic and the Ranger already outside sitting on the steps. "Ah, hello there Leeroy and Treissae," Tabaar greeted them. "I trust ye slept well?" he continued with a wink. Treissae blushed and giggled. Leeroy just shook his head in amusement. "Raldyr, I heard ye say ye're going back to Windstalker Village today?" "Aye, I have my family to support. Pancora and I have 2 little ones to feed and another on the way."  They walked to the outer gate and the Ranger turned to the others. "I'll take my leave now," he said. "Thank ye, Tabaar, for getting in contact with me, and I was so glad to find out about ye Leeroy. Take care and ye are welcome to come visit anytime."

     "Let's head over to Reesling's place and see how he's doing," Tabaar suggested.  "Tyndall is on guard duty this morning; he said that the bard made it home all right."  The three of them walked along, enjoying the morning sunlight, and were almost to the destination when Treissae let out a squeak of surprise. "Huh?" Leeroy answered. The Wood Elf pointed.  Reesling's door had opened and the druid, Warlaa, was quietly slipping out into the street.  "Hey, now," Tabaar rumbled. Warlaa looked up, startled, then blushed.  "Sneaking off, are we?"  She recovered and made a frantic gesture of negation. "No, not at all. He doesn't have any food in the house and I was going to make breakfast."  The Elder Mystic tilted his head and gave her a strange look. "Were ye there....with him......all night?" Warlaa nodded and set off toward the marketplace with the others following. 

     Reesling slowly woke up in a daze.  What had happened last night? Oh....was it possible? Had he dreamt it all?  He felt around but he was alone in the room.  "Warlaa?" No answer.  He  unsteadily got up and stumbled to the washing room.  Well, it seemed he had been left here after a memorable night. It had been so very very long since he had been with a woman.  He sighed and proceeded with his personal ablutions.  He felt unsteady on his feet and found he was leaning against a wall for support.  What was wrong with him?  And would she come back?

     The others watched while Warlaa quickly bought eggs, ham, and various vegetables.  She loaded them in a string bag and started back toward the bard's house. "I hope he didn't wake up yet; I wanted to surprise him. I'm a fairly accomplished cook and I am willing to bet he doesn't get home-cooked meals often."  "Aye, this is true," Tabaar replied.  "It's dangerous for him to have a lit stove or lamps."  "Well I plan to change that."  They arrived back at Reesling's house and Tabaar tapped on the door in an accustomed pattern. After about a minute it opened. "Hello, Tabaar," the bard greeted him. "Come in."   "I've got a couple of folks with me," the Elder Mystic replied. "Leeroy, Treissae, and a nice Druid ye might know."   "Warlaa? Ye're back? I thought ye had gone..."  "No, I was just out buying some food."  Reesling took a step forward toward the sound of her voice and held out a hand. Warlaa moved over to him and he pulled her close. "I thought ye'd disappeared," he murmured into her hair. 

     She found basic cooking implements in the kitchen.  It was not anything very deluxe, but she had worked with less.  Soon, delicious smells filled the room and drifted out to where the others sat talking.  Reesling took a deep breath and got up. "I'm going to find out how long it'll be. I'm starved."  Treissae watched the bard closely. "I think he's in love with her," she quietly remarked.  "Let's hope she returns the sentiment," was Leeroy's rejoinder. "He's been alone way too long," Tabaar added. "I could say that about yerself," the younger Northman noted. "Aye, but no woman could ever hope to be what Aernatha was to me.  Any woman would just find herself competing with a memory for my affection. And I hope to be with her again in the Ethernere." 

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Old 12-10-2009, 05:49 AM   #85
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     After the meal the five of them headed into South Qeynos. "Where'd ye learn to cook like that?" Tabaar asked Warlaa. "My mother taught me a few tricks but mostly I just experimented.  I paid attention to any dish I came across that I liked, and tried to duplicate it."  "Well, ye have a way with food; that was a delicious meal." They walked on until they reached the archway.  "There's our home," Leeroy pointed to a house across the street diagonally to their left.  "Reesling, it's the third house on the left once you go through the archway," Tabaar added. 

    "I like what ye've done with the decor here," Warlaa commented.  "Aye, we combined Halasian furnishings with some elements of the Faydark," the Inquisitor replied. "You should see the loft," Treissae added.  Reesling carefully touched each object within reach as he slowly made his way to the stairs and up with the rest. "Hmm... I think i smell greenery," the bard commented. The others beheld a miniature forest planted in the bright space under the skylight.  "Now that is really a work of art. How did these trees get up here?" the Elder Mystic wanted to know. "I carried them up here and it wasn't easy," Leeroy chuckled. "They were heavy! But Treissae loves this place, and so do I."  Tabaar examined the plantings and the decorative rocks while Reesling felt the bark and leaves of the trees. "Very nice, a very soothing arrangement. I'd like to come up here sometime with my instruments and compose music here."

     "That's something I'd like to talk to ye about, Reesling," Leeroy mentioned when they were back downstairs. "What's that?" "I want to know how to play music and sing," the younger man replied.  "It all depends on yer abilities and skills, plus how much ye want to devote to learning. Some can't carry a tune, others don't have the coordination necessary to play. But if ye'd like, I can figure out at least if ye can do either of those."  "All right, that sounds fair."  "First of all, I am a baritone while ye are bass. This means yer voice register is lower, but I can reach most if not all of the range ye probably have, and ye may be able to reach most that I can.  Let's try this.  I am going to sing a phrase from the Frostfell carol 'Snow Time'.  Oh, it's snow time it's snow time it's snow time again..... now ye try."

      Leeroy took a deep breath. The others watched him and he felt very self-conscious. "Oh, it's snow time, it's snow time, it's snow time again."  The bard held up a hand. "All right, ye do seem to hear the notes, and ye tried to replicate them. But ye were slow on the beat; there are no pauses between the repeats.  It's like this," - here Reesling repeated the line of the song. Leeroy tried again and felt a little more confident. "That's right, ye're using yer chest muscles to power yer voice now. And yer timing is improved. But I don't think the others want to spend the day listening to lessons," the bard admonished.   "We'll pick this up at a later time."

      Out in town again they were passing the mage tower when Treissae stopped and looked at the door. "I'd like to go in and ask a few questions," she said.  "Of course," Leeroy murmured.   "Excuse me but what do you need here?" came a voice. The Halasians looked down and there was a gnome. "Yes, I was talking to you.  How can I help you?" "Actually, I am the one who has some questions," the Wood Elf said. "Ah, hello there young lady. I am Pupil Adept Wazzelfop. Are you here to learn more of magery?" "Yes, I'd like to know more of conjuration, how it's done and how to become a conjuror."  Leeroy did a double take. His wife had not mentioned anything to him!  "Certainly," the gnome was saying. "Just take this portal up and see the conjuror trainer for more information.

      "Good day. I am Tilliana Steamsieve, conjuror trainer. What can I do for you?" a gnome woman in a blue robe looked up through round spectacles.  "Hello, I am Treissae Enothie. I would like to learn to be a conjuror."  "All right. Fill out this release form and you will need to pay a small materials and processing fee.  Then you will be assigned to a trainer for a couple of days until you have the basic knowledge."  Treissae shrugged and filled out the paperwork. Gnomes! Either they had their noses in building contraptions, or they were all business.  "When does class start?" she asked as the gnome reviewed her forms.  "Tomorrow morning bright and early right here on Tower grounds," was the reply.  "Now, twenty gold if you please for fees."   In exchange, Treissae received a metal disk with a design stamped in it.  "Bring that with you and be ready to start right away. Class lasts four hours."

     Leeroy had a lot of questions himself as they departed the tower.  "Did ye just decide to do that? And what is it about conjuration that ye want to try?" "My grandmother was a mage, and my mother just recently retired from being a conjuror.  I want to be able to help in case there is trouble or danger, and I don't want to be a burden."  The tall Halasian knelt down to her level. "I would never consider ye a burden, love," he earnestly replied.  "Whatever ye want and need, if it's in my power to provide, it's yers. This is a vow I make upon my honor...and with all the love I can express."

    

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Old 12-31-2009, 06:07 AM   #86
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      A set routine was swiftly established; at dawn Treissae would go to the mage tower training grounds for classes, and Leeroy would watch for a while.   After a couple of hours he would walk over to Reesling's place and tap on the door.  The bard was as good as his word; Leeroy learned simple chords on guitar, and he learned to sing.  Not by any means with a bard's skill, but he was pleased with his own progress.  Warlaa would pack a lunch for him and Treissae, and about the time that her class was over he'd be back at the mage tower. 

     After a few days Treissae announced that she'd like to go out into Antonica and practice her skills.  "Our instructor said it would give us some real-world experience," she noted.  "Good idea," Leeroy replied.  Once out the gates, the Wood Elf asked a guard where she could try out her conjuring skills. "Oh, definitely get some of the vermin removed, and if you see any approaching gnolls, they are Qeynos' enemies and need to be pushed back.  Over that way," - here the guard pointed east - "are lots of vermin attracted by farming activity." Treissae thanked the guard and she and Leeroy made their way across the fields.

     "This looks like a good spot."  Treissae cast a spell and a rock elemental took shape. She cast spells  upon it to make it stronger and give it fiery arcane shielding.  "All right. Pet, attack that beetle!"  The pet ran to an orange crawling scarab and swung a crushing blow down on it. It feebly flipped over and tried to attack, but the pet hit it again and it stopped moving for good.  "Excellent," she addressed the construct, and sent it out again and again.  Leeroy sat under a tree and enjoyed the show.  "I'm not sure what's over that hill; I'm going to 'see through' the pet for a few seconds," the conjuror stated.  She stood still and cast, then the pet turned this way and that, moving around the hillside with purpose.  Treissae canceled the spell and called the pet to her. "Nothing until the next hill. Let's move over there."

     Not a lot of beetles were there but there were a few rats.  Treissae did the same as before, using the pet to clear out the vermin, then she started to cast her 'see through' spell on the pet. But for some reason that perhaps we'll never know, she somehow had Leeroy the recipient of the spell.  "Gaaah!" he shouted in shock, falling backward onto his posterior, and scrabbling in the dirt. "I can't......what is wrong with me?"  Treissae frantically turned the pet to face the stunned Inquisitor.  "Oh, I'm so sorry, I got the spell on you..." "What the....oh gods oh gods oh gods...." he said in a very agitated voice, rising surprisingly in pitch.  Treissae finally got the spell canceled and Leeroy abruptly slumped in the grass and gasped for breath. "Are you all right?" the Wood Elf entreated him.  Between gulps of air he managed to nod and said "aye" as he slowly gained his feet. "How did ye....I mean, do ye even realize what this might mean?"

     The priest had the mage sit under a tree, and he sat down beside her.  "I saw through the pet's eyes; I didn't know what was going on so I guess i panicked.  But Treissae. I have prayed for a sign that I might have been heard. I had taken a personal vow to somehow help out Reesling if I could find a way."  He gripped her arms. "What if this works on him?" Her eyes grew wide. "Is it possible?" "It could be. After all, he says he can see in dreams...I want to take the chance. But we'll have to speak to Tabaar and I'm sure he'll want a demonstration."

     Back in Qeynos, Tabaar listened with increasing incredulity to the story. "But why are ye telling me?"  "We want to try it out on Reesling...." "What? Could it work?  I don't know... try it on me first I have to know what to expect."  Treissae obliged. "Oh...." Tabaar murmured as the pet turned this way and that, giving him a strange view of the others.....and himself sitting in his chair staring at nothing.  It only lasted a short time as Treissae canceled the spell as soon as Tabaar held up a hand.  "Amazing. I've never heard of a conjuror doing this...and ye say ye did it by mistake? If this works on a blind man it will be a dream come true."  "But I cannot make the spell last very long, maybe about two or three minutes before it would dissipate," the young Conjuror answered.  "That's long enough to make an old friend's wish come true.  Leave it to me; I need to get some folks together in a secluded location."

     The next day, the Elder Mystic sent word for everyone who could attend to come to Elddar Grove and meet not far from the archery range in the midafternoon, except for the bard. "I called ye here to tell ye something possibly momentous. There may be a way, at least very temporarily, to allow Reesling to regain his sight."  Gasps of astonishment greeted his words. Tabaar held up a hand. "I know, it's incredible but both I and Leeroy have experienced the condition we believe will cause this."  He explained carefully what needed to be done.  "There's always the chance it won't work," Jimbob pointed out.  "Aye, this is true, and it's why he doesn't know yet. If it doesn't work, then he won't even know (I hope) that we tried it.  I can always cover up with a convincing story."  Tabaar drew himself to his full height. "But if it does...I want to see his reaction, and I feel I have owed him this for so long.  I felt I failed him when I couldn't save his sight and I hope this would be a small repayment of my debt." 

     While Tabaar carefully arranged the situation, Tyndall headed over to Reesling's house and escorted him to the meeting place. "What's this all about?" the bard wanted to know when he arrived. "We have some ideas and plans to discuss," the Elder Mystic replied. "Please have a seat."  Reesling wondered to himself what was going on. The focus seemed to be on himself and he didn't much like it.  Had he gotten in some sort of trouble? "All right Treissae, go ahead," Tabaar was saying.  Reesling could hear the others fidgeting directly across from him, and a weird scraping sound like rocks on rocks.  "It's ready," he heard the Wood Elf say.  Ready for what? Was this some sort of surprise party.....or a prank?  Then it happened.....and Reesling would never again be the same.

     For the first time in thirty long years, the bard's world was flooded with light.

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Old 01-04-2010, 01:47 PM   #87
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His mouth hung open for a long moment. The blurred brightness resolved itself into what seemed to be a group of people standing in front of him. "Have I died? Is this the Ethernere?" Reesling finally managed to gasp out. "Indeed not, friend Reesling," said a white-bearded Halasian man. "Tabaar???" the bard cried out. "But... what is happening? How, HOW am I able to see ye?" He lifted his hands in front of his face but the view was not obscured. "It's Treissae's elemental construct. She has a spell going that is allowing ye to use its eyes to see with," the Elder Mystic replied. "We don't know how long she can keep the spell running, so everyone will speak so ye can recognize them." "Hello, Reesling," said Tyndall. "Hello," Leeroy echoed. So it went as at last the bard could place faces to voices. At the end of the line was a red-haired woman..."Warlaa," he breathed. "Aye, it's me." "Ye're more beautiful than I imagined."

This had to be a dream or something, Reesling had decided. It was beyond his wildest imagination that something like this could happen to him. "Treissae's going to turn the pet now to face ye," Tabaar remarked. His borrowed vision shifted and into his field of view appeared a seated Northman of middle age, with windblown gray hair and drooping mustache. "That's me? How'd I get so old?" The others chuckled in amusement. "The same way we all do," Tabaar remarked. "Time."

"It's starting to fade," the Wood Elf cautioned. Sure enough, the bard's vision darkened and blurred, then the light was gone. Reesling was breathing hard, trying to fathom what had just happened to him. "I don't have words....that was a miracle...'thank ye so much' doesn't even begin to convey my appreciation..." he choked back a sob and continued, "it's something I would never have dared dream about coming true while I am still alive." The others crowded around to pat him on the back while he embraced Warlaa. Then he knelt down and hugged the Wood Elf. "Thank ye so much, young lady for what ye've done today."

Back at the Elder Mystic's home they all discussed the import of the success of the experiment. "Ye do know that this has to stay under wraps," cautioned Tabaar. "All we need is attention brought to the situation by the authorities." There was general agreement on this. "And it's not something that can just be done anytime and anyplace," Kebia added. "Tongues do wag, and rumors fly." Treissae nodded. "Not only that, but it's exhausting to maintain that spell. I'm worn out and the day's only half gone," she remarked. "We need to reach a consensus here," Tabaar noted. "As Reesling's friend I want to have him able to make use of Treissae's talent as much as possible...but I also want the young lady to be comfortable and not inconvenienced....and certainly never placed in any danger nor any attention brought to Leeroy's status." "I hadn't thought of that," mused the Inquisitor. "Reesling, yer thoughts on this?"

The bard took a deep breath. "I want what is best for the whole situation. From a purely selfish viewpoint, I'd like to use that vision over and over as soon as the spell can be recast. But of course that wouldn't be workable. It is a precious gift and as such I will treat it with the care and respect that is due. In the end, Treissae, it's yer call whether or how often ye grant me the vision. I already owe ye all more than I can ever repay, and I will spend the rest of my life trying." Tabaar was curious. "In what way?" "I gave up my training as a bard when I had my accident, but now is the time to resume it." "That would be great!" Tyndall broke in. The Elder Mystic smiled and said, "Aye, now ye can become the Dirge ye always were meant to be."

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Old 01-26-2010, 05:59 AM   #88
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     "I've gone out and watched a few other conjurors at work besides yerself," Leeroy told Treissae a few days later. "None of them show any sign of trouble with that spell.  I even asked one about it, and he basically brushed me off, saying the spell only worked between him and the construct, period."  He put his hands on her shoulders and knelt down in front of the Wood Elf.  "It has to be some sort of miracle is all I can say."  She nodded, eyes wide.  "Warlaa and I have been discussing a few things, that included," Treissae replied.  "What sort of things?" Leeroy wanted to know. "Well, she wants to surprise Reesling, and needs my help for it. Here's what we thought up...."

     Tabaar laughed uproariously when told of the idea. "That would be just fantastic - if he doesn't panic and run for it! Leave it to me to get everyone together again.  This'll be fun!"  Indeed, the Elder Mystic had been much more upbeat since that miraculous afternoon.  Leeroy had asked Tyndall about this the previous day.  "Aye, Dad has been through so much over the years.  This means so much to him," the guard looked the Inquisitor in the eyes intently. "And did ye know having yerself restored to the family did also? My father spent years searching for answers.  Now his prayers have been heeded."  Leeroy nodded. "Mine also."

     "Did ye get it put up?" "Yes, it's in place," Warlaa informed the shaman.  "That's the perfect cover, having us all over for lunch," Tabaar smirked.   They walked back inside to find Reesling setting the table.  "I can't cook but I can sure put a fork to the left of the plate," he joked.   The Druid gave him a kiss on the cheek and continued into the kitchen.  Guests had begun filing in; the Elder Mystic had informed them all of the plan and sworn them to silence.  Most couldn't help eyeing the banner on the wall and stifling a snicker.  A couple of them found that the only solution was to take seats at the table facing away from it.  

     Warlaa served a delicious meal as always. There was plenty to go around, and everyone had seconds.  Afterwards she opened a bottle of very good wine.  "A toast to the hostess," Jimbob proclaimed, waving his glass. "To Warlaa, for the great food!"  "Hear, hear," echoed around the room as glasses clinked.  Reesling smiled and agreed; he was having a very good time indeed.   Tabaar raised his hand slightly and inclined his head toward Treissae. She nodded and quietly conjured up a construct against the wall facing the banner. 

     "I have the pet ready," the Wood Elf announced.  Reesling raised his eyebrows. "I'd love to see this," he murmured. "I'll bet you would," Tabaar said under his breath as he tried valiantly to chew down a grin.  "Ye ready, Warlaa?" "Aye, as ready as I'll ever be," she replied.  The bard was confused.  What did she have up her sleeve?  Then the darkness parted again for the few precious minutes he would have to see for that day.  What he expected to see was the room full of guests, the table, and of course Warlaa.  Then the blurriness cleared and he saw the banner on the wall.  It read, "Reesling, will ye marry me?"

      He gasped and stood up, knocking his chair over in the process.  "I...what..." the words would not come; for once the bard was speechless.  Warlaa stood there under the banner, smiling with tears in her eyes.  "Yes!" Reesling said at last.  "Yes, and I should have asked ye first!"  He covered the distance between them in three strides and put his arms around the druid, pulling her close for a kiss.  The room erupted in cheers and well-wishes as they embraced.  "Now I have a surprise for ye," the bard laughed as he turned toward Tabaar. "Ye're here, and I know ye had something to do with this," he pointed at the shaman.  "Now ye get to make it official."  "Now?" Tabaar repeated. "Now?" Warlaa echoed. "Yes, now I'm putting ye on the spot!" Reesling boomed.   The cheering started anew as the Elder Mystic took up his position in front of the couple.

    Tabaar tapped the floor with his staff for attention. "We are here to witness sacred marriage between Reesling Icereaver and Warlaa MacTavish.  If anyone has reason to challenge this union, they must speak now or never."  The Elder Mystic glanced about the room.  No one spoke.  "Then we shall proceed.  Reesling, will ye agree to love and cherish this woman, until the day ye die?" "Aye!"  "Warlaa, will ye agree to love and cherish this man, until the day ye die?" "Yes, indeed."  "Both of ye: do ye agree to protect each other and any offspring, and care for each other through health and ill, until death's final parting?"  "Aye!" "Yes, yes!"  They turned to each other and Tabaar proclaimed, "Then I do declare ye husband and wife!" 

   

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     The celebration had moved to the local tavern, leaving the newlyweds their privacy.  "Can we go home too?" Treissae asked Leeroy. "I'm feeling kind of tired." "Of course we can; are ye all right?" he responded with concern. "Must be holding that see spell for the whole ceremony; I'm drained," the Conjuror continued.  Leeroy smiled. "That was something that Reesling and Warlaa - and all of us -  will always remember, love."  

     Once inside their South Qeynos home, Treissae began getting ready for bed. "So soon?" Leeroy wanted to know. "Yes, I can't stay awake."  The Halasian shrugged and decided that he should try getting some sleep himself.  No doubt she'd feel better in the morning.  And he'd be better off with a full night's rest. 

     Sunshine streaming in woke Leeroy mid-morning.  He was surprised to find that Treissae was still fast asleep.  That's strange, he thought.  She needed less sleep than he did normally; often times the Northman had woken up to find the Wood Elf watching him, or making breakfast.  Well, there was an idea!  He was hungry and breakfast needed to be made; he'd do that himself. 

     He figured the clatter of pans and dishes in the kitchen would wake Treissae, so when the food was ready he waited a couple minutes. When no Wood Elf was forthcoming, Leeroy padded into the bedroom to investigate.  He blinked; she was still asleep!  Ah, a perfect opportunity... he went back into the kitchen and got her plate ready, then placed it on a tray. He carried the tray back in the bedroom and softly called her name.

    Treissae awoke to the sound of her husband's voice; had she overslept? He needed to be fed! She looked and to her surprise he had in his hands a tray of food.  "Good morning love," he said with a grin. "Time to eat."  She sat up and felt a wave of dizziness.  Then Leeroy set the tray down on the bed by her and she looked down.  Eggs, ham, steamed carrots, a glass of milk.  Steam curled up from the food and brought its smell to her nose.

     She had looked at him in surprise and then back down at the food.  To his utter shock she turned pale then half-fell, half-stumbled out of the bed and ran toward the washing room. The sounds coming from there were definitely not what he was expecting! She served this food all the time and Leeroy could cook all right too; he was confused and concerned, so he went to see what was the matter.  She was very pale and had obviously been sick.  "What's wrong? Why are ye sick?"  Treissae rinsed her mouth several times before she answered. "I...I don't know. The food looked so good then the smell hit me and I barely made it in here..."  Leeroy didn't know what to do but try to diagnose.  "Do ye have a fever?" "I don't think so."  "Maybe ye ate something bad yesterday." "It's possible but I woke up hungry and only when I sat up I got dizzy then the smell of the food got to me." 

     The Wood Elf wondered herself why she felt like she did.  She'd never gotten sick like this and from what?  Smelling food?  Very strange.  She would have to ask her mother about....oh.  A memory intruded upon her thoughts of Fanada saying how sick she'd been while pregnant with Treissae.  That would explain everything, including her missed cycle...

     "We need to get ye over to see Tabaar; he's better with illnesses than I am," Leeroy was saying.  "Um, all right, good idea, but I'm not sick I don't think," Treissae replied. Leeroy frowned "What do ye mean? Ye looked pretty ill to me a minute ago. It could be serious!"  Treissae allowed herself a small smile.  "Yes, it's serious, but I still say I don't think I'm ill," she repeated.  The Halasian replied with a rather agitated,  "I don't understand!"   Treissae realized she was causing the Northman to become frantic, and that wasn't a good idea.   "Leeroy, I think I'm pregnant." 

    

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     He stared at her for so long that Treissae started to wonder if he was somehow displeased. "Pregnant? A baby?" Leeroy finally managed to say. She nodded and he broke into a grin, then dropped to his knees to embrace her. "We've got to tell everyone," he murmured, then, "A baby...mine...I'm going to be a father!" The Halasian laughed with delight and relief. "I'm glad ye're not ill, but this was a big surprise. Let's tell the others!"

     It seemed way too early when there came an insistent knock at Tabaar's door. Dawn roustings usually meant someone was ill, had been all night, and now really needed medical attention. He groaned and drew on a robe as his joints protested the sudden exercise. "On my way, be right there," he called out as the tapping continued. He padded to the door and flung it open. "What can I...Leeroy! Treissae! What are ye two here so early for? Are ye all right?" The younger man nodded and tried to suppress a grin, but failed. "Yes! I need to tell ye that...um...well, Treissae's...tell him, Treissae!" Leeroy blushed. The Wood Elf gave him a tolerant look and spoke up. "Tabaar, it seems that I am pregnant." The Elder Mystic's eyes widened. "Really? What great news! Congratulations! Come in, we need to talk about this and how it's going to affect ye both."

     Good advice is always valuable, and luckily both of them recognized Tabaar's advice as excellent. "I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of yerself," he admonished Treissae. "If ye will agree, I'll monitor yer pregnancy and watch for any signs of problems." Treissae and Leeroy looked at each other, then she agreed. They both knew how thoroughly careful, even obsessive, Tabaar was about the subject. He would be picky but nothing would get by him. In a very private moment, the older man had told them how he had sworn a vow to never see another woman die in childbirth, and he had kept that vow.

      "First of all, disparate sizes. Young lady, any child ye carry by him is going to be larger than what would be normal for yerself. This will put a strain on yer body, and ye may find that ye end up having to lie down most of the time. We'll need to get ye lotions to keep yer belly skin supple; it's going to stretch. Diet's another thing. Eat what ye find good to eat, but don't drink any alcohol. Definitely let me know if ye go a whole day unable to keep food down." The Elder Mystic turned to Leeroy. "I've counseled many young couples on the subject, and always the men have a question: they want to know how long into the pregnancy they can continue intimate relations." Tabaar snorted. "I tell them if the wife isn't comfortable, they have to abstain. And that they both need to anyhow in the last few weeks. Not," Tabaar waved a hand in dismissal, "that ye would be so crass. Just part of the lecture."

     The Elder Mystic opened his front door and looked around. Sure enough, there were a few children playing in the street. He called out, "Who wants to earn a shiny silver coin?" "Me! ME! Me!" they all shouted. "All right, I need ye to bring a message runner to my door!" It wasn't long before one arrived followed by the now-breathless children. "Here's yer coins," Tabaar told the young boys, "and I need yer services, messenger. I need ye to go to the following addresses and ask the residents to come here for an announcement."

     "So what's the big occasion?" Jimbob wanted to know as he leaned against a bookshelf. The others found spots to stand in the increasingly crowded room. Reesling moved forward, carefully touching objects and setting his mental map of the place. "Aye, the suspense is getting to me!" he opined. "Well, that's for our happy young couple to say," Tabaar replied. Leeroy took a deep breath. "I'm thrilled to announce that Treissae and I are expecting a baby!"

     Shouts of congratulations filled the air as Treissae received hugs and well-wishes, and in the case of the bard, a very gallant kiss on the hand. Leeroy was staggering around a bit as he was backslapped and arm-punched. Jokes and innuendoes were voiced, until a rather raunchy one made Tabaar narrow his eyes and shake his head emphatically at the offending party. "I for one am looking forward to being a grandfather," the Elder Mystic remarked. "Let's go celebrate!"

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