Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

X: The Empty Camp

Scheaun and KT rode out to Koma. They traveled the majestic fields and magnificent forests, and because it was a beautiful day, had a picnic just outside its wall. 
"Here," said Scheaun. "Help me unpack." He got off of his horse. KT did, also, and began to take bags off of Scheaun's steed. A faint glimmer peeked out from under the blanket on his horse. She pulled the blanket off, revealing his sword, shield, and bow.
"Scheaun," she said. "What is this?"
"What is what?" he asked. "Oh."
"This picnic isn't the only reason we're here, is it?"
"No. But I was going to ask you if you wanted to join me." She looked cross, but then she broke into a smile.
"Of course I do!" She laughed.

Later, when they were eating, KT stopped, looking off into the distance.
"So what are we investigating?" she asked. "Or are we hunting some evil dragon?"
"We are going to Koma," he replied. "Where the Chadde-worshippers live. That giant's eyes were glowing, so Scott, Gizmo, and I think that there's magic behind it."
"Oh cool! Where Badger died!"
"Oh, sorry."
"No, it's cool. Just kinda sad."

The two rode into the ancient city. Whatever trace of life bubbled up last time, had completely evaporated by now. There was absolutely no one among the grey ruins.
"Wow. It's just as creepy as I imagined," said KT. Scheaun and KT stopped atop the steps of the temple where Badger's previous life ended. Its dilapidated state apparently weathered worse storms since That Fateful Day. The two entered the temple, leaving their horses behind. A torn tapestry hung against the back wall. The rows of stone pews were smashed, as if some large rock landed among them. A gaping hole in the ceiling shed light on the pile of rubble below, and that is where Scheaun and KT ended their journey.
"Wow," said Scheaun. "What happened?"
"Whatever it was," KT answered. "I don't like it."

The two searched every crevice in that temple, inside, then out. They had not looked over the front steps yet, but when they returned,
"My Brand! I mean, My horse!" shouted Scheaun.
"What? Where did it go?" asked KT. As it was, her horse sat content, (as content as a horse can be, and as well as a horse can sit) but Scheaun's was nowhere to be found. Searching the empty town, Scheaun could find no trace of the horse, but he found his sword not far from the town's entrance. They began to leave when Scheaun noticed footprints in the muddy ground outside Koma. The two followed the fresh indentions around Koma's outskirts, into woods on the side opposite the way they came.
"There!" whispered Scheaun. "Fire! It's a campsite in the woods!"
"Huh? Oh! There! I see," she replied.
"I'll go get him. You wait here."
Beside the fire stood Scheaun's old white gallant stallion. He snuck through the camp, but looking into one tent, he noticed and unusual lack of... living creatures.
"Where is everyone?" he murmured. He rode back to KT, and the two returned to Bamah.

Meanwhile, at the empty camp, the fire continued to glow. Trees behind it rustled, and out walked a robed warrior. Removing his hood, he revealed a bald head with a tattoo precisely like that of the late sorcerer.
"Dammit Kreg!" he roared. Behind him shuffled a shorter version of himself. In fact, the three were brothers.
"Yes, Jus'tinn?" replied the short one.
"Where is the horse?"
"It escaped."
"I wasn't watching it."
"Lord Chadde will not be pleased. Actually, you can explain it to him now." From the other direction came another rustle. Out strode Chadde. He stopped, realizing what happened, and killed Kreg.
"Find them," growled Chadde's deep voice.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

IX: The Captive

Two large ugly ogres, with pale skin and glowing green eyes, led the young man down the corridor. IT was dark and cramped; drops of polluted, dirty water fell to the damp ground and splashed. Rows of mangy cells lined the walls, and just before the ogres led the young man into one, a witch who had been waiting there to meet them removed his blindfold. 
"Heh. That was easy. Too much curiosity for one cat," she said. It was Gizmo.
Suddenly, he leaped over his own cuffs, grabbed one of the ogres' axes, and ran into the cell; the other ogre, axe drawn, followed him in. Gizmo turned, knocked away the ogre's attack, and lopped off his head. Gizmo shoved the body through the cell door. It knocked over the other two, and Gizmo grabbed their hands. He used the key to unlock his cuffs, put their hands through the bars, and locked the cuffs. He dropped the key between the semi-conscious two.
Gizmo looked down the hall. As he traveled back the way he came, he checked every cell for prisoners. Every one between him and the door was dead, but when he got to the last cell before the door, he found the old lady. However, it was not the same person the giant was chasing.
"Who ARE you?" he whispered, and he cut the lock off the door. Looking up, he found his eyes met with hers.
"No," he said. It was the Lady of the River.
"No! Don't come in here!" she replied. Her eyes were red, as if at one time, she wept tears like a mighty river, but the source had since dried up.
"I've got to get you out!"
"No! You don't understand! This cell is encased in some sort of enchanted... amber... bubble thing. She really doesn't want me to escape."
"Why do you look so different?"
"It ages me, very quickly. I shall probably die soon."
"Then I will get you out!"
"But it'll kill you!"
"Then I'll meet you on the other side," Gizmo replied. The source was renewed, as she realized there was no stopping him. He stepped through the amber. Nothing happened. Gizmo fished the talisman out of his pocket. It glowed; he smiled. Gizmo cut the Lady down and led her out of the cell. On the other side, she lamented.
"I'm sorry. I don't know... I didn't know--" Gizmo grabbed and kissed her. When he opened his eyes, nothing had happened.
"It was worth a shot," he said. Holding out the talisman to her, he said, "Your turn." She smiled and grabbed it. She glowed bright green, but as the light faded, her younger self emerged. The two embraced.
"So why did the witch make the giant chase you?" he asked.
"What do you mean? What giant?" she replied.
"She didn't make the giant chase you through Robert's Dale."
"No. What--what giant?"
"It WAS her! Aww! She wanted us to investigate so that she could get her talisman back?"
"But why would she kidnap me?"
"She disguised herself, but she needed a template. Someone to resemble, so she could hide herself. You came along, the perfect subject, but she had to change you so that WE wouldn't recognize her."
"But why does she want us dead so badly? We need to find the others. We're all in danger!" The two ran into the throne room, where they found the Bards.
"Gizmo!" yelled Scheaun.
"What is she doing here?" asked Badger, referring to the Lady. Before Gizmo could answer, the witch entered the throne room.
"That was... skillful. I have to admit that your escape was brilliant," she said.
"I have your talisman," replied Gizmo. "In return for its safe return, I demand you release my friends. We shall not bother you any longer."
"Ha! you think that all I want is the talisman!? Thieves, murderers! You killed my daughter, Le'heigh-"
"She was kidnapping innocent people and torturing them!" Gizmo interrupted.
"YOU WILL PAY!" yelled the witch, and she pointed at Gizmo. As she did, he drew his sword; lightning shot from her fingertips, and Gizmo used his sword as a conductor, absorbing the sword energy.
"She meant to end our lives," he yelled. "It was the only way we could survive."
"Burn!" she screamed back, and with her other hand, she used the fire from the torches along the walls as missiles. The fire flew towards the Bards, but the Lady knelt to the ground. She stood and waved her hands in an arc, as the moisture from underneath them froze and shielded the Bards.
"Give me your coat!" The Lady told Gizmo, and he did. Gizmo slipped around the ice shield and disappeared. The Lady turned her back to the witch, who easily broke the ice.
"Now I shall finish you," she raged, as she turned the Lady around.
"Get your stinkin' paws off her!" cried Gizmo from the throne. He stood with his sword in one hand and the talisman in the other.
"I don't think I will. She'll make a nice pet-"
"Over your dead body," Gizmo said, and with that, he smashed the talisman. The witch began to glow a bright white light, and she dropped to her knees.
"No! No! NOOO!!!" she howled. The white light consumed her and faded. She was gone in a wisp of smoke. The shackles around the Bards' hands and feet vanished. Gizmo got up, and walked over to them. As he did, he tossed his sword aside. The Lady ran to meet him, hugged him tightly, and whispered, "I love you."
He smiled.
"I know." They kissed.

The Bards returned, and Schaff threw a grand party, with food, music, and a wonderful time for all. At the end of the night, Scheaun and Gizmo left together.
"So what DID you find at Koma?" asked Gizmo.
"Like I said," Scheaun replied. "Nothing. Like, no one, just a bunch of ashes and rubble. But something odd did happen."
"You should tell me about it," Gizmo smiled.
"I will." For a while, they walked in silence. However, Scheaun broke it with the question that bugged him most.
"So where was the Lady all this time?"
"I thought she was in Kali, but apparently she got back earlier than I suspected."
"You didn't know?"
"No. I--we had some issues a little while ago, but now we're past them." Gizmo bit his lip.
"Oh. Wait... ohhh. So Kali, huh?"
"With the nice beaches?"
"Sure could use a vacation."
"Not until you tell me about Koma."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

VIII: The Woman

Early in the world of Bamah, the world was filled with magical creatures. There were those who worshipped Chadde, there were the Elves, there were the river people, there were animals who could talk, and there were witches. Eventually, the numbers of all three parties dwindled. The witches and Chadde-worshippers warred for a time, but most of the blame can be traced to the birth of man. As the species of man grew, he conquered everything and spread across the planet. All species are wont to do so, but none have suite matched man's might.
When the actual kingdom of Bamah arose, the witches resisted. The King offered to integrate them into society, but they refused. They fled deep into the woods and never again returned. Establishing their own culture, the Most High Witch, a founder of the original tribe, named herself the High Witch, total ruler of all witches. She decreed that she would pass it down to the witch of her choice: (not much else is known about witches, such as how they reproduce, but it is the ancient witch term "D'aughtre Roiale," or, successor or heir that became the English term "daughter.")
The High Witch chose the youngest witch, a mere baby to be her "D'aughtre Roiale," and raised her as her own.
The years passed, and the D'aughtre grew into a powerful witch, worthy of the throne. The High Witch's last words before passing on the crown was "grow a worthy one," referring to the raising of her successor. (Of course, it could also refer to their reproduction, which is definitively associated with the talismans, as witches "grow" with their talismans.)
The New High Witch immediately obeyed and chose a child successor. Her name was Le'heigh.

The young D'aughtre grew as her mother did, but she seemed more passionate about witch history. She adored the witches who would tell the stories of how the ancient witches were fantastic warriors, and for obvious reasons, hated man. However, the High Witch cared less about man; they had yet to interfere with the witches' society.
"Mother! We have the power! We should retake our lands!" Le'heigh said one day.
"What?" The High Witch replied.
"I'm tired of your pacifism! We need to reclaim Bamah for magical creatures!"
"Umm... because man is greedy and evil! They stole it from us; it's rightfully ours!"
"You do know that they offered to let us join them. They didn't exactly run us off; our pride forced us to leave."
"So? Uggh! You don't get it!" (It was obvious she was the equivalent of a teenager.) She stormed off.

Le'heigh ran away, to a new home in another set of woods. The High Witch was enraged for a time, but settled. As the time went on, Le'heigh never returned. Her mother began to fear for her demise. The High Witch gathered a group and left to search for her D'aughtre.
They covered miles quickly, traveling from the eastern edge of Bamah to the southern tip in one day. Stopping in Robert's Dale, the small band of witches stopped at an inn for the night. There, they met a giant. He had come from a different way, and had stopped at a cave on his way, and he saw the girl they described.
"Will you take us there?" asked the desperate witch.
"Of course." The giant, however, was seedy. He knew a tribe of Chadde-worshippers who violently hated witches and would pay him handily. That night, he notified them of where they would be.
The next morning went well. The giant led the witches to Le'heigh cave. There, they were by the angry warriors.
"You infidels! Your actions shall be punished!" yelled their leader.
"What? Witches and those of Chadde made peace!" replied the High Witch.
"Not with us!" they charged, and the battle was intense.
"Stop him!" He sold us out!" said the High Witch, pointing to the fleeing giant. She leaped from her horse and handily defeated many warriors. One Chadde-worshipper, a sorcerer, knocked her down, but she sent him flying. The other witches stood their ground well, and there were no worshippers of Chadde left. A few witches captured the giant, and brought him back to the High Witch.
"You! Traitor! You gave us away!" she yelled, angrily striking the treacherous prisoner.
"I serve no one but myself. I have no master," he calmly replied.
"Then I shall give you one," and with that, the High Witch cast a spell upon him, that she had complete control of his consciousness. The giant became her slave.

The witches had been gone some time, but at that same spot, on of the surviving warriors, the sorcerer, came to. Looking around, all he saw was vegetation and dead bodies. However, a green stone caught his eye. It was like no jewel he had ever seen. Placing it in his pocket, the sorcerer slipped away.
This occurred a few hours after the battle, but at almost the same time, the witches came upon a grotto. Opposite them was a large pile of rocks.
"This is it. This is her dwelling," said the High Witch.
"How do you know?" rightfully asked a witch.
"These markings," she answered, walking over to examine the left side of the rocks. "These runes are from the ancient witch language. It is an ancient spell, for defense." She scratched it out, and a shriek filled the air. The grotto felt like a nicer place. Just then, Le'heigh leapt from a high tree and took out the    High Witch. 
"Mom!" she cried, climbing off of her. "I'm so sorry."
"No matter. You're returning with us."
"No, I won't."
"What about the throne?"
"You're not dead yet," she snapped.
"How dare you!"
"You chose ME! I didn't want that life anymore. Come get me when you... need me."
"As you wish. I will always stand by for you." Hurt, the High Witch returned to her horse. She reached for her talisman for comfort, but it was gone. She turned to Le'heigh.
"Where is my talisman?" she roared.
"That's what I was wondering. It was always about your neck," came the reply. "Did you drop it?"
"It's gone. Wait! It was that evil magician from the woods! I spared him, but he stole my precious talisman!" She leapt onto her steed and flow off. The other witches followed her, but Le'heigh returned to her cave home.
"That'll never happen to me. I keep mine locked up," she said.

That same sorcerer made his way to a nearby kingdom. The king's hunting party found him attempting to enter.
"You there! How dare you trespass into my domain!" the monarch roared.
"My liege, I request solace. There are those who wish me dead. In return, I offer you this precious gem," replied the tactful sorcerer.
"Very well then, indeed. Tis a marvelous stone to behold. As your new ruler, I demand you enter for protection's sake. Squire, see that he finds a job to stand upon." The two left.
"My, this is a wondrous stone. My daughter will love it."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

VII: The Witch

"What does the witch want with the woman?" asked Scott.
"And why does she want US dead?" said Badger. "I mean, she's not after just anyone. She wants the Bards. US."
"The sorcerer who kidnapped the princess. He was a worshipper of Chadde," said Gizmo.
"Wait... what?" asked Dumon.
"Yeah, he did. I knew I had seen those marks before," said Paddy.
"It doesn't answer any of those questions, though," remarked Scott.
"Paddy, let me see that stone," said Gizmo. Paddy gave it to him. "Scheaun, look!"
"It's a talisman! Like the one we used to kill Le'heigh!" Scheaun gasped. "Maybe it's the witch's?"
"Maybe she just wants it back," said Schaff. "She thinks we stole it from her."
"But what does this have to do with the woman?" demanded Badger.
"We'll just trade the stone for the woman," said Holden. "Easy enough, right?" The group assented, and began to follow the was the witch left. To himself, Gizmo said, "But it's never easy enough."

The trail led them through the woods. Scheaun, at the front of the group, found himself at the edge of the forest. To either side a road ran, and it was between them and a large field. Across that field lay another forest.
"It's... the highway," remarked Holden.
"Yeah, I know," replied Scheaun.
"So which way did she go?"
"Not left... nor right... there! C'mon!"
A shadow on the horizon dove into the trees across from them. The group rode like they never had before; the horses' legs were like strong tides of the ocean, waves churning to and fro. They flew across the plain, into the trees. Among the woods, the Bards continued to glide. No tree got in their way; no branch hindered them. They dashed into a clearing, and found themselves at the mouth of a cave.
"She's in there," said Scheaun.
"And... are we waiting for a signal?" laughed Holden. Scheaun shrugged. Badger, bringing up the rear on Scott's horse, flew through screaming.
"YAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" (It's a scream. What did you expect?)
The Bards all followed her lead. The cave led them down, into the darkness. They stopped when a single torch glowed at the end of the hall. Gizmo dismounted and approached the wall on which it hung. He pulled the torch; it did not come down, but out. The wall swung open so that they could pass.
"That was easy," joked Scheaun.
"Yeah, never saw that coming," said Holden.
"How did you do that?" asked Schaff.
"We've seen it before," said Gizmo with a smile.
The group entered through the make-shift door, into a throne room. In one corner sat an empty cage, whose door swung wide open. It creaked with the sudden draft, but never closed. The Bards looked inside, but there was only a blanket and pillow there.
"I guess this is where she kept the old lady," said Badger. "But where are they now?"
"What does the old lady have to do with this anyway?" asked Dumon.
"Maybe they're the SAME PERSON, you guys," said Scott.
"Why would she have the giant chase her around?"
"I dunno--he got loose?"
"But he couldn't, until he was in the ring of fire," said Badger.
"I--maybe, I don't know," replied Scott.
"Did anyone actually KNOW the woman?" asked Paddy.
"No one. Like at all." replied Schaff.
"Guys, where's Gizmo?" noticed Scheaun. He was gone. Paddy looked at the cage. On its door was a new note that read:


And on the back:


"I suggest obeying whatever advice he gave you," bellowed a deep female voice. The witch appeared among them. "Now."
Schaff swung at the witch, but she stopped his blade with her bare hand; with her other hand she sent him flying across the room. Badger and Dumon pulled out their bows and launched several arrows at her. The arrows all stopped a foot from the witch. She looked at Dumon and Badger as the now-harmless arrows fell to the ground. At the same time, Scott and Scheaun drew their swords and ran at her. Holden followed suit but the witch defended every blow and knocked them all over. She looked around at the startled Bards and snapped her fingers dramatically. Glowing green chains appeared around their wrists and ankles, and the witch smiled. She held up her forefingers, then brought them together. The Bards flew into a row, suspended in the air. The witch pointed down, and the Bards dropped to their knees.
"Where is it?" she roared.
"Where is what?" returned Scott.
"Don't patronize me. I sent my giant to kill you, while I have my sorcerer searching for it. Turns out you somehow double-cross me and end up alive and in possession of my talisman! Where is it?"
"I don't have it," said Paddy.
"That doesn't answer the question."
"Gizmo has it."
"Oh. Then I DO have it. Never mind," she said as she began to walk away.
"Wait," said Badger. "Who was the woman?"
"I was," said the witch, and she closed the door behind her.