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By the Wings of Dragons

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By the Wings of Dragons Empty By the Wings of Dragons

Post by Ronson on Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:31 pm

By the Wings of Dragons - Part I

From the pen of Eylee Zephyrswell --

The last of all our destinations - save the bastion of the invasion, the first location we failed to save, Innothule Swamp - would be the continent of Kunark. The iksar might have once been powerful, if not entirely trustworthy, allies, but they had been reduced to small villages of savage jungle dwellers. Even so, we tried to approach them, but our efforts were met with spearheads in response. We learned to travel by night, as silently as possible, heading as directly as we could to where we found the rifts. Though we were refused entry to Chardok, an envoy of the sarnak heard our story and said the sarnak would not be letting any invaders into their lands. Any found would be killed. It was made clear we were not much more welcome than the Void invaders, and though we would be able to keep our lives as reward for the warning, we had best be on our way. We found ourselves able to close some of the portals, but others were too much for us, and we ran for our lives desperately.

It was then that we were approached by a representative of the dragons themselves, and led to the highest spires of Veeshan's Peak to stand before the Ring of Scale.

By the Wings of Dragons - Part 1

For too many nights now to count, her dreams had been edged with cascades of peacock feathers, and the face of a woman, both beautiful and terrible, lingered behind everything that she saw. Tonight the woman pursued her down a corridor of darkness. Eylee was aware that if she paused at any moment, she would be swallowed. She knew that she was dreaming. This was certainly not where she had gone to sleep, curled up against Nurgg's back beneath an overhang of shale, and more than that, it made no sense for her to be in this undefinable space, but despite all of that, she couldn't make herself wake up. She beat against consciousness like the walls of a prison, but to no avail, she couldn't leave the dream. All of a sudden, her path ended as she collided with a wall. Turning, she pressed back up against it as a tide of feathers enveloped her. She screamed as they surrounded her, and as she did, feathers flooded into her mouth. She choked for air, clawing against the barrier between sleep and wake. Finally, when she thought she was going to black out, her eyes flew open, early morning sunlight flooding her senses.

Eylee awoke suddenly, gasping for breath but not able to take anything in. She tried to struggle, sliding around on the flakes of shale, realizing she was being held to the ground, a hand held over her mouth. No wonder she had felt as if she had been suffocating. Nurgg stared down at her, expression heavy with concern. The ogre had her locked to the earth, and over one of his shoulders, Kaltuk looked on, eyebrows stitched together. He released his hold over her mouth and she breathed in a long, sharp breath.

"What... I mean..." she struggled to formulate a thought, but her head was splitting with pain. It had been happening this way as long as the woman had been invading her dreams. Every night, they were more intense and, every morning, so was the pain.

"Shhhh," said Nurgg, holding one large finger over his lips. Eylee's eyes darted around her surrounding, noting Kruzz sitting nearby with his fingers in his mouth, looking worried.

He grinned and hissed as she looked at him. "You is awake!" he said. She managed a weak smile for him.

"You were flailing, lass," said Kaltuk, in a hushed voice, "calling out, and tearing at the ground. Illisia found suspicious tracks nearby, so everyone scattered to look about. We couldn't wake you, though, no amount of shaking did a bit of good. The three of us decided to stay til you woke and keep watch, but then you started up with the screaming and well..." Kaltuk shrugged his head to one side. "... here we are." Eylee forced herself to breath in long, slow breaths and gradually she felt herself relax. Nurgg relaxed his grip on her and eased away.

There was a flash of gold as their guide stepped into sight from around a craggy edge of mountain. Eylee's heart leaped into her throat as her eyes locked with the elven man - who she knew to be no elf at all but a dragon - stepped into the clearing.

"She is well, then?" asked Xygoz, in a voice that played like a song that broke the young wood elf's heart to hear it. His eyes were a bottomless blue that slit in the center like a cat's and stood out against his dusky skin. He was garbed in a loose robe of golden silk and wore no armor, nor carried any weapons, only a lute inset with platinum and silver discs and strung with strings the colors of sunrise. She could hear nothing but the pulse of her blood as they locked eyes.

Finally, Kaltuk's voice pushed its way back into her head. "She's awake, not sure if she is well, though," said Kaltuk. She blinked and glanced at the dwarf, who she noted had adopted a touch of a scowl, which overpowered his concern.

Nurgg snorted and said under his breath, "All better now."

Eylee flushed and glared at Nurgg. "I'm fine, Xygoz, thank you," she said, smiling. "Just bad dreams."

"But your dreams are more than dreams," said the elven man, coming in closer, "you shouldn't dismiss the possibility that the pain that comes with them..." He paused and touched her forehead, and the skin of his fingers was hot, burning with his internal fire. "...might not be able to truly hurt you."

"We won't be letting anyone hurt the lass," said Kaltuk, bristling.

"If this woman," said Eylee, swallowing heavily, her mouth having gone dry, "is somehow tied to the invasion... maybe even behind it... and if she has truly gotten into my head, then I doubt you can protect me from her, Kaltuk."

"I doubt that she is truly there," said Xygoz, standing back up. "If she were able to cross to do that, she would have done it already. I simply believe this is your own power giving you insight into your enemy, but such power, especially in the hands of a mortal, often has a price." Eylee rubbed at her temples, wondering if it was worth while.

"You speak with familiarity, dragon," said Kaltuk, eying him. "Do you know something you aren't telling us?" Nurgg stood up and looked down flatly at Xygoz, cracking the bones of his fists. Behind him, Kruzz followed suit, scrambling to his feet as small chunks of rock sprayed out from around him. His hand went to the cleaver at his side that he had adopted as his weapon, and he did his best to look menacing.

The dragon elf was unimpressed. He simply smiled at them and tipped his head down. "Phara'Dar asked me to bring you to her, not to answer your questions," he said. "I imagine that everything you need to know, you will know. And everything you don't, you won't."

Kaltuk grunted and Nurgg leaned back on the balls of his feet. Just then, Bayle and Illisia came up the path, speaking softly. Eylee watched them and her mouth twitched into a smile as she noticed that the fingers of their inside arms, while not fully entwined, scratched softly at one another's.

"Oh good, Eylee, you've woken!" said Bayle. His spoke with gusto and smiled broadly at everyone as he came forward. When he noticed the generally sour expressions, his smile fell and he glanced around. "What's happened?"

"Nothing," said Kaltuk, glancing at Xygoz, "except that our 'friend' here has information he isn't quite willing to share."

Bayle glanced at Xygox, who was smiling and shaking his head. "We've been given the chance to speak with the Ring of Scale," said the plainsman, "an honor not many mortals are privy to. I believe our guide is not bound to do anything more than he has."

"You're all right, Eylee?" asked Illisia, examining the girl with her hawk eyes.

The wood elf smiled and nodded, saying, "I'll be fine. The pain is already fading."

Bayle looked at her with concern. "While I won't badger our guide as the rest of you have..." He turned and looked at Xygoz. "I hope that maybe your people can help her."

"I hope so too," said Xygoz, smiling down at Eylee, causing her heart to flutter. "Miss Eylee should not be made to suffer so."

Asharae finally returned a few minutes later, looking around her distastefully. She slipped a little on the shale as she was approaching the camp and glared at the ground venomously, adjusting her cloak, which had become tangled around her arms. "This rock is no doubt the fancy of Fizzlethorp Bristlebane," she said. "No other god would so completely miss the idea that rock is supposed to be solid."

"I am sorry you find our home inhospitable, Mistress Asharae," said Xygoz, bowing slightly. Asharae looked at him with an arched eyebrow, and a smile played on her full lips. Eylee drew in on herself, aware of what a child she looked like beside the Teir'dal.

"It's not that at all, Master Xygoz," she said. "You have been nothing if not the perfect host. It's the earth that's not so compliant."

"Forgive us if we don't notice," said Xygoz. "After all, for a dragon, it doesn't often matter what the ground feels like, only the sky."

"For any spellcaster with enough practice," said another voice, interrupting their banter, "the same is true." Roadyle drifted down from a nearby cliff top. He glanced up at Bayle as he landed, "Nothing. I haven't found any sign of who might have might have left the tracks."

"Nor I," said Asharae, eyes full of spite as they locked on Roadyle.

Bayle nodded and said, "We had no luck either."

Xygoz folded his hands in front of him and said, "I wouldn't worry. We are getting close enough to our territory that the chance of anyone being foolish enough to attack travelers is unlikely. After all, the possibility of there being travelers to raid in and of itself is not particularly high. It was most likely a lone wanderer, more frightened of our party than we should be of him."

"Or four," murmured Illisia, not loudly enough for Xygoz to actually hear it. She had felt that the tracks belonged to at least four individuals, based on subtle variations in their shape, but four individuals who were good at sneaking and leaving the tracks of fewer. Still, their search had yielded nothing, so what else could they do?

Bayle nodded and said, "I will leave it be then." He glanced around the sky, surveying the high, broken peak before them. "I wish the Cloudskipper had been up and running when you found us. This would be so much easier."

"Twiddy and the Professor will have it working by the time we're back," said Illisia, placing a hand on his arm reassuringly. He smiled at her and nodded.

"Master Bayle," said Xygoz, "it's not much further. We will be there by sundown. I hope that's enough assurance for you."

"Of course," said Bayle, nodding to him and smiling.

Eylee reflected, looking at Bayle, that he smiled much more easily than he had when they first met. It made her happy to see it. They'd ridden high on success for some time, though since coming to Kunark, their luck had seemed to run thin. Still, though they had faced defeat, they had never truly been devastated.

Suddenly, Xygoz was standing above her, holding a hand down for her. "Miss Eylee," he said, "let me help you up, so we can be on our way."

She felt light on her feet as she took his hand and rose, brushing dirt and rock from the seat of her pants with her other. "Thank you," she said, shooting a satisfied glance in Asharae's general direction.

"I never thought I'd be accepting an invitation from dragons," said Kaltuk, shaking his head as the group continued up the mountain.

* * *

The music that Eylee coaxed from Xygoz's lute was surprisingly sweet. She couldn't help but wonder if it had been magically imbued to forgive the minor off strumming of the musician, because she had only ever had basic lessons in playing stringed instruments from another traveling bard at the inn where she had stationed herself in the Plains of Karana.

"I told you that you would have very little trouble," said Xygoz with a smile. He reached over and slid one of her fingers over to another string. "Try it again here."

Once again, Eylee attempted to mimic the song he had been playing earlier. It sounded even closer this time. She grinned and laughed happily. "Amazing," she said.

"It's coming from you, young one," said Xygoz, accepting the lute as she passed it over to him. "You have bardic magic, and though you are hardly a master of anything you touch, you'll find it won't take you long to master anything you set out to play."

She smiled and shook her head, saying, "My grandmother must have had it, and never told anyone... She was my only teacher. Those who had power in our community used it to pursue druidic functions and nothing else. This is not true of all Fier'dal, but our village was particularly devoted to keeping the forest alive." She felt her lips tremble and tears spot the corners of her eyes. "Which meant we took it the hardest when we couldn't save the Elddar."

Xygoz was quiet for a moment and then placed a hand on her back. "You couldn't," he said. "You were mortals against the will of a god."

Eylee nodded and smiled. Xygoz hoisted the lute and began to play it expertly. He began to sing with the instrument, and she recognized the song as an old Feir'dal devotion to growth and nature. Loneliness and longing for friends and family welled up inside of her, and she thought she might be overwhelmed. Suddenly, a group of four iksar descended down into the path in front of them, straight on top of Roadyle and Kruzz, who had been in the middle of their marching order.

"As I said, four!" shouted Illisia from in front of them, turning with her swords already drawn. Behind her, she could her Kaltuk beginning to murmur a prayer and Nurgg push his way forward. Bayle was spinning with Illisia at the front and beside them, elemental energy flared between Asharae's fingers, strings of power going from one finger to the next. Eylee herself reached for her rapier, but all of the sudden, there was a roar. She turned, and her expression slackened, as she noticed that Xygoz the elf had vanished and been replaced by Xygoz the dragon, flapping in the air above them. He was still beautiful, but in a terrifying sort of way; having a long, sinuous body covered in golden scales. The catlike appearance of his eyes spread to the whole of his face, which had fanning scales that almost looked like scruff and curled ears. His eyes were still deep and blue beneath a ridged brow of gold and a pair of fangs extended down from his mouth.

"Leave, intruders." His voice still had a sonorous, lyrical quality to it, but it was deeper and more imposing. Everyone was frozen, stopped in their tracks and gazing at him.

But the surprise didn't last long on the iksar, who were each on top of Roadyle and Kruzz, two at each. Though Kruzz had managed to grasp at his cleaver, one knocked it from his hand, and they began to rake at the two Ethernauts savagely. Roadyle shouted and cursed, but they seem to know better than to let him gesture for his spells. They had obviously been on their trail and watching. Eylee looked at them closely, and noted they had the same eerie shadow that they had long since noticed in all who were Void-touched.

"Void!" she said, but everyone else had begun acting as well. Asharae had let her spell die and instead slipped the Scryona from its bag. She whispered to it softly, stroking at it and looking at the Void iksar intently. Illisia and Bayle had come at the pair on Roadyle and a bolt of energy crashed down onto another from the sky. Kaltuk howled in triumph behind her just as Nurgg barreled past and knocked into the same one. Eylee herself began to beat against her drum, singing a song to bolster everyone in combat. Nothing they had done, though, had managed to bring the iksar down, or even barely slow them. They lashed with their tails and raked with their claws, barely slowed from the blows they had been dealt.

Then Xygoz descended in a single fluid motion, claws latching around one of the two that Nurgg and Kruzz were battling. The iksar, whose elaborate fanning at either side of its face marked it for a female, screamed and struggled in his grasp, hissing and clawing, but the effort was futile. Xygoz drew her up high and then threw her against a cliff face nearby. Her body crunched as it hit, and whatever bones were left unbroken, or perhaps the already broken ones crunched again as she hit the ground hundreds of feet below.

Eylee's song nearly broke as she was struck with the realization that if they were on the other side of the dragon's anger, the same could happen to them. She reminded herself that the same could be said of any powerful ally, and that the best you could do was trust that a person was who they claimed to be, and Xygoz had done nothing to make her question his intentions.

With the quartet reduced to a trio, the party was able to bring them down easily. Eylee watched Asharae carefully, noting with relief that she didn't seem to disappear completely into the Scryona the way she had every time previously. She'd wanted to believe their intervention would do some good, but part of her had to be concerned it wouldn't. The Teir'dal had withdrawn from the group and been studying it intently, drawing in and releasing power as she could. On more that one occasion, she'd heard her shout out and curse at it. The struggle had been palpable, and from Asharae's bearing, it seemed she had succeeded. Asharae met Eylee's eyes and lifted an eyebrow, winked, and then opened her palm wide at a fallen iksar and drew out the energy from it, turning as she finished and releasing a series of three small fireballs at another.

As the fighting settled down, Xygoz returned to his elven shape and walked back to them.

"No chance at all of being attacked here, hmm?" asked Asharae.

Xygoz's normal smile was gone and replaced with a perturbed look edged in anger. "They are foolish if they try anymore," he said. "The shadowed men may not be of exactly the same make as a mortal, but they are using the bodies of said mortals as shells, and those shells can be crushed very easily."

"It might be best to examine your own ranks," said Bayle. "You never know. Maybe they have a reason for confidence."

"If those creatures have the strength to control one of us," said Xygox, "then Norrath is in more danger than I care to think of. Let's hurry."

The party pressed on, making their way to the top of Veeshan's Peak.

By the Wings of Dragons - Part II

The adventurers stood in the center of a massive cavern of jagged stone. They were surrounded on all sides by members of the Ring of Scale, dragons of many colors and shapes that lounged around the room, sprawled over rock formations that seemed well-worn to their shape, suggesting they had assumed these traditional posts for some time. There was a dark dragon with gray and silver scales and a pair of curled horns, and a blue one with horns running down the length of its head and snout, and in the center was what Eylee took to be Phara-Dar herself, the leader of the Ring of Scale. Her scales shimmered a beautiful azure color, with purple on her wings and chest. Her head was long and elegant and her eyes were frighteningly intelligent.

Xygoz gestured to the group to stand in the center and then reverted to his natural form. The gold dragon joined the others in the circle, watching the party with inquisitive eyes.

"You've come," said Phara-Dar.

Bayle glanced at the rest of the group and then stepped forward uneasily. "Yes," he said, "Master Xygoz said you wished to speak to us."

"Yes," said the dragon, stretching her wings and letting them settle against her back once more. "We know what you're doing here. You have the Staff of Theer."

"You know what this is?" asked Bayle. He unstrapped it from his back and held it up.

Phara-Dar exhaled a deep breath, which blew across them hot and wet. "Yes," she said, "we know very well what it is, where it came from, and what it can do."

Asharae stepped forward and said, "Perhaps you would be so kind as to share, then?"

There was an audible groan from Kaltuk's direction and even Eylee had to shake her head at the Teir'dal, who stood haughtily before the dragon.

"Only a dark elf," muttered Nurgg.

Phara-Dar stared at her intently. "What you have been doing is futile," she said. "You are patching the cracks but not fixing the break. In order to stop this, someone would have to go to the source, and use the staff there."

"Which is...?" asked Asharae.

"The first full invasion happened in Innothule Swamp," said Phara-Dar. "We believe it to be there."

Bayle nodded and then said, "Thank you, this has been very helpful. Why was it that you wanted us to come here? This has all seemed to be to our benefit."

There was something like a chuckling among the dragons, but to say that a dragon ever truly "chuckles" is grossly inaccurate. It was a deep, rumbling noise that echoed throughout the cavern. "You will not be going," said Phara-Dar.

A cold chill passed down Eylee's back. Reactions were similar throughout the group. Everyone began to shift uneasily, Kaltuk cursed under his breath. "What was that?" asked Bayle.

"We are talking about the fate of Norrath," said Phara-Dar. "You have run away bleeding from more than one place here on Kunark, and you think you're ready to enter the Void and take all of that into your hands?"

Eylee had to admit that as she listened to the dragon, she didn't entirely doubt Phara-Dar's words. It stirred up doubt inside of her. Were they ready? Was it foolishness to think that they, of everyone, should be the group to follow this through? Looking amongst her companions, she noted that others were obviously experiencing the same self doubt. Only Roadyle seemed unaffected. His expression was passive, as it had been since they entered the dragons' caves. She landed lastly on Bayle, whose expression was even more of a struggle than anyone else's and her heart sunk. But then, she thought of her visions, and the certainty they had granted her every step of the way. They had all come together for very specific reasons, in very specific ways. That had to mean something.

She gathered together whatever shred of courage she could find inside and stepped forward, saying, "I've had visions of every member of this party, of things that have happened, and things that still need to happen. We were meant to do this." She looked among the dragons, guessing little from their expressions. She glanced back at her companions though and was pleased to find that they looked bolstered.

"It is true," said Xygoz, "that the Feir'dal has visions. She's seen their enemy in her dreams." Eylee's heart leapt a little as she heard Xygoz's voice but quickly sank again. This was Xygoz the dragon, back among his kind, and any tenderness from him she might have imagined was just that, imagination. That he might have had any regard for them was as ridiculous as thinking they might have regard for a spider, or a fly. She felt foolish and childish.

Phara-Dar snorted and said, "Then we keep her too, but we will still be handling it, and they will not."

Eylee shrank back and Nurgg stepped between her and Phara-Dar. Bayle said, "Are you threatening us?"

"Only if that's what must happen," said Phara-Dar. "Leave the staff and the prophet and you can go."

Around the room, the dragons began to rise, and at their full heights, they were even more threatening than seated. Eylee heard Roadyle whisper, "Get in close to me." Everyone began to inch in slowly. At first, Asharae seemed to consider resisting, but then she too followed.

"Now, please, the staff," said Phara-Dar.

Roadyle began to chant and with a gesture, circles of light surrounded them. Eylee felt herself slowly dissolving, and in front of her, Phara-Dar began to chuckle again. "Wizard, your magic is not going to --" Then the dragon's voice fell and her head reeled back in surprise. "That one is more powerful than he looks. Who is he?!"

But if any dragon had insight into it, Eylee didn't hear it. She phased completely from the room. As she began to slip away, she felt as if a force reached for her and tried to pull her back, but then she ripped away in her current direction. She felt herself reeling, though, spinning around wildly as she passed through nothingness. When she hit, she landed apart from the others and went headlong into a tree, knocking her into unconsciousness.

* * *

When she woke, she was aware of the acrid smell of burning and that she was bouncing. She opened her eyes groggily and found that she was being carried on Nurgg's back as he barreled through the forest. No one else was nearby except for Kruzz, who ran alongside Nurgg with his cleaver in his hand. They seemed to have landed in the Emerald Jungle, and despite its dampness, it was ablaze. Few things could burn like that, but one of them was dragon fire.

"What's going on?" she murmured. She gazed at a long swaying vine that was completely alight, leaving trails of smoke as it moved.

"Wizard got us close, but not close enough," said Nurgg. "We need to cross the jungle. But they are here, hundreds of them, and dragons above."

"We going to die," said Kruzz. The most terrifying thing about the way he said it was that he didn't sound frightened, just certain.

"Where's everyone else?" she asked.

"Scattered," said Nurgg. "Better to move in pairs."

"Kaltuk isn't with you?" she asked.

"He would not leave you," grunted Nurgg in Kruzz's direction. "Kaltuk is with Asharae. Illisia with Bayle. Roadyle is safe. He cannot be seen. Though not safe from dragon fire."

"They caught up with us? So soon?" she asked.

"You were asleep a long time," said Kruzz.

"But dragons are also fast," said Nurgg. "Too fast. They are fighting with Void creatures, but they will not let us go. They will be back."

The trio moved through the jungle quickly. For a time, they didn't encounter the hundreds of alluded to "them", though Eylee assumed those to be void-touched iksar and void beasts and whatever else they had corrupted. Soon, though, they encountered a group of four iksar. Nurgg dropped Eylee and barreled at them, Kruzz beside him screaming and raising his cleaver. Eylee struggled to get to her feet and began to sing, bolstering her own damaged self, as well as her companions.

Kruzz and Nurgg each faced off against a pair of them. Nurgg danced around the blows while striking in soft spots when he could manage. Kruzz, on the other hand, was fighting madly, ignoring the fact that he took more than one blow, simply focusing on hacking at them. As her strength returned, Eylee advanced on them, stunning them with screams when she could. Finally, their opponents had all fallen, and they moved on. Nurgg offered to carry Eylee once again but she shook her head and said, "No, I'm fine." Before she could get out of the way, however, he'd grabbed her and tossed her up on his shoulders anyway. She struggled only for a moment and then quit as they barreled on.
They fought their way through more groups, and before too long, the airship came into sight. Eylee's heart sunk as she noticed the vast number of iksar and shadow beasts below the airship, throwing spears up at its body. She couldn't see Fiddlewiz or Twiddy, but assumed that they were huddled for safety, overcome with terror. She hoped it was that, anyway, and not that they were already dead.

It didn't take long for them to be spotted. Nurgg slipped Eylee to the ground again and said, "Get to the boat."

"I'm not going to leave you two," she muttered.

"Go!" he said, practically shoving her, but she wouldn't budge.

"We're all going," she said. Nurgg pulled back and glared down at her. Kruzz stared at the pair of them nervously. Then the ogre's expression faded and he nodded. Eylee drew her weapons and they began running in the shortest possible line, ready to fight those around them. Just as they reached their first set of opponents, an arrow buried itself in the head of the iksar advancing on her. Behind her, Illisia and Bayle emerged from the jungle and rushed into the fight with them. Shortly after, spells began to rain down from the boat on the crowd, consuming the attacking force in fire and lightning and dazzling lights. Eylee spied Roadyle flashing in and out of sight, and then Twiddy and Fiddlewiz were there, throwing things down at the aggressors.

Eylee fought desperately for her life, thrusting her rapier at whoever came at her. Her world became a blur of blood and ichor. She knew she had taken wounds herself, and every now and then, she would feel warmth pass through her as presumably one of Kaltuk's spells healed her, but mostly, the wounds persisted. There was probably too much to do to focus on just one person. Finally, though, a path was cut to the ship. Bayle gestured them at it and called for the ladder to be dropped. Twiddy and Fiddlewiz scrambled, and the rope ladder fell. Eylee began running at it. All of the sudden, a void beast stepped in front of her, raising its razor-sharp arm with a roar. She stumbled back, but realized she was too slow. Before it struck her, though, Kruzz was there, shoving her out of the way and swinging his cleaver. He cut into the pincer deeply with his cleaver, slicing through it cleanly, but the other arm stabbed him in the side before he could react. He cried out in pain but then whipped around, chopping off the other arm. Meanwhile, Eylee let out a piercing scream that caused every eye on the void beast's head to bleed, and the thing staggered away.

"Are you all right?" she asked Kruzz. He was hunched over, hand on his side where the pincer hit him. He nodded his head vigorously.

"We go!" he said.

Eylee nodded and the pair of them ran toward the ladder. Asharae had already climbed up to the boat, and Kaltuk was on his way. Nurgg shoved Eylee and Kruzz up as soon as they reached the ladder, he, Illisia, and Bayle standing stalwart until the others could make it into the boat. Illisia followed them, and then there was an argument about who would go next.

"Go on," said Bayle.

Nurgg shoved him. "I am taller. Boat should begin to move. I will make it."

Bayle frowned at him, but the ogre pushed him again, and the plainsman began to climb. "Hurry, though," he said.

Eylee held her breath as Bayle made his way up and Fiddlewiz and Twiddy struggled to get the boat going. She glanced at Bayle and then noticed something that alarmed her.

"What happened to the staff?" she asked, looking at a place where the Staff of Theer seemed to have been scratched, and one of the runes was completely missing.

Bayle glanced at her, his expression strained. Illisia stepped in for him and said, "It happened on our flight from Veeshan's to the ship. An iksar struck it with a spear and one of the runes fell off."

"Did you recover it?" demanded Roadyle.

Illisia glanced at him and shook her head. "No," she said, "one of them got it first and then ran."

"Was it void corrupted?" asked Asharae, her eyebrows stitched together.

"No," said Illisia, shaking her head so that her long auburn braid bounced, "not that I could tell. We passed too close to a village, that's all, I think."

"We weren't done," said Twiddy, pulling at his hair with a concerned expression. "She's not ready, and now she's sustained even more damage." He worked at it, though, and Fiddlewiz beside him. Even the gnome looked anxious, eyes darting around.

"Come on Nurgg!" she shouted as Bayle was up in the boat. The ogre jumped onto the ladder as the boat began to move and climbed desperately. Just then, Eylee felt herself go completely numb as one of the promised dragons came into view. The dragon with the horns running down the front of his face, one that Eylee had found particularly terrifying, came at them, breathing fire and screaming furiously.

"Go!" shouted Bayle. "Go, go!"

Illisia ran to the side of the boat that the dragon was coming up on, an arrow at the ready. As soon as it came in close, she let loose the arrow, and the dragon reacted to its strike, shrieking in pain. It wasn't enough to make it so much as pause though; it kept coming at them. Nurgg reached the deck, watching everyone. As it drew in close, Eylee gasped as, suddenly, Nurgg barreled across the deck and launched himself into the air over the side, sending himself straight at the dragon.

"No!" shouted Eylee.

Everyone moved to the side of the ship, staring in amazement as Nurgg struck at the dragon. Those who could began to launch what they could at the dragon, Illisia firing arrows and Asharae and Roadyle casting spells. Bayle paced back and forth, looking as if he wanted desperately to help. But he couldn't. All he could do was watch as the dragon whipped Nurgg from side to side and he punched and kicked him, clinging to his neck.

The events that unfolded over the next few minutes seemed slowed. Twiddy and Fiddlewiz went back to the controls, pushing the ship as hard as they could to go faster. It accelerated until it was going faster than any of them had ever seen it go. They had long since left the land mass of Kunark behind and were over the ocean. The dragon kept pace with the ship, which might have been all that kept Nurgg alive: the dragon had to focus both on fighting him and keeping behind the airship.

The deadlock broke finally when Nurgg managed to strike at the dragon's eyes even as Asharae landed a bolt right in a soft spot on the dragon's underside. But then the dragon, done with this tomfoolery, dove down straight toward the sea.

"What is he doing?" asked Kaltuk, his voice harsh and demanding, wracked with grief. "What is that beast doing?"

"He's going to drown him," said Illisia. Her voice was soft and sad. "Or force him to let go. And when he lets go, swallow him whole. If it's anything else, I'll be surprised."

"No," whispered Eylee. "We have to do something."

"What can we do?" asked the barbarian, shaking her head. "We'll have to wait."

"I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and wait!" shouted Kaltuk. His chest was heaving.

"What else are you going to do?" barked Bayle in response. "We wait, and hope." Kaltuk let out a noise of disgust and stalked away.

By the Wings of Dragons - Part III

As the ship pushed forward, Fiddlewiz approached Bayle cautiously. "I can make us go very fast," said Fiddlewiz, "but it risks blowing the engines."

"I don't even know what that means," muttered Bayle, harshly.

"We aren't going to take her much further either way," said Twiddy. His voice was full of defeat. "We can push her to go hard, but it might ruin her. I don't think we have a choice."

Bayle looked out to where the dragon had gone beneath the water sadly and said, "We'll out pace them too, won't we?"

"It might be better," said Twiddy, sadly. Kaltuk had been sitting down but he jumped to his feet, nostrils flared and an indignant expression on his face.

"We aren't leaving him," said Kaltuk. "It might be I can save him..."

"Maybe," said Bayle, "and maybe that means letting the dragon catch up with the rest of us." Kaltuk glared at him furiously, their eyes locked, but then the dwarf broke the gaze and turned away. Eylee thought she saw a shudder to the dwarf's back.

"Fine," muttered the dwarf.

"Do it," said Bayle, nodding.

Twiddy and Fiddlewiz worked quickly, throwing a number of multicolored vials into the furnace. Eylee stood at the side of the ship, keeping a vigil for Nurgg. Just as the gnome and halfling finished, and Twiddy said, "It's coming, hold on," she noticed the dragon break through the water in the distance. As it reached the sky, it noticed how far they had gone and roared, soaring at them.

"Go, go, go!" said Bayle.

"It needs to ignite," said Twiddy. "It will though!"

Not soon enough. The dragon overtook them. Eylee felt a surge of excitement as she noticed Nurgg was still attached to the dragon, but then it vanished as she noticed he was completely still. As the dragon grew closer, it was apparent he had been impaled by one of the horns and stuck there. Behind her, she heard Kaltuk choke.

"You see what it will mean if you keep fighting with me," said the dragon.

Bayle had gone to the head of the airship and held out his claymore, swinging at the dragon's nose as it approached. The dragon was struck and reeled back. It returned, swinging its horns at Bayle, but he struck back.
"Just give me the staff," said the dragon. "Give it to me, and you can go."

"No," shouted Bayle, bringing his claymore in an arc across the dragon's face. It dodged out of the way and the two continued their parley. Eylee glanced to the side just as Kaltuk ran past her, heading straight for the edge of the boat and launching himself at the dragon. The creature didn't notice in time, its attention focused on Bayle, but then blinked as the dwarf landed on him.

"Will you stop that!" growled the dragon.

"Kaltuk!" said Bayle. "The engines! What are you doing?"

But Kaltuk scrambled straight for Nurgg. Eylee watched in amazement as the dwarf wrenched the ogre from the horn and onto his shoulders. Seeing what he was doing, Bayle struck the dragon again, returning its attention to him. As the dragon tried to strike back, sweeping close to the deck, Kaltuk threw himself onto the ship, dragging Nurgg with him.

Just then, Twiddy shouted, "They're going!"

Everyone hit the deck, including Bayle, who dove off the railing and onto the ship, as there was a thundering explosion. Half of the ship went up into multicolored flames as it thrust wildly away from the dragon. It seemed there was a high scream of pain as the same flames hit the dragon. It was hard to tell though, as they went so fast that soon the dragon was out of sight. Everyone reeled about wildly. Eylee had been gripping a line, but on one jerk, lost her grip and tumbled toward the open hatch to below deck. She tried to grab for the side of the hatch but couldn't get a grip, falling down wildly into the cargo hold. Perhaps if she hadn't already experienced one head injury that day, or had not fought her own share of dozens of opponents, she might have kept her consciousness. But none of those things were true, and she once again went into blackness.

* * *

Eylee was aware of a burning in her lungs and a sensation of extreme heat. She dragged her eyes open despite lids heavy with swelling. Though the boxes she had landed against when the jerking motions of the ship sent everything tumbling toward its front were smashed on impact and her limbs had seemed tangled in loosed plants and bent metal banding, she didn't feel as though anything in her had broken terribly. The impact had left her swollen and cut, her skin a rash of gashes that hadn't had time to crust over and still bled freely, but she was in one piece, it seemed.

The pain of breathing was due to the smoke that filled the remains of the hold, let loose from the flames that licked against the wood greedily no more than a dozen feet from where she lay. Her heart began beating furiously and panic threatened to set in. She scanned her surroundings, looking for the ladder to above deck. When she finally found it, though, not only was it across a wall of flame, but it was also broken half way up. Her lips began to tremble as thoughts of escape were beaten down by the reality of what surrounded her.

"At least I was the only one down here," she thought. It then occurred to her that there was no reason to assume being on deck meant any better of a fate. Perhaps they wouldn't burn, but they could have been thrown from heights too high for any of them to survive, or crushed on impact. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she forced to shake them off. She was still alive, and there might be something yet she could do. She began chanting to herself a song of courage and the fear that edged into her mind began to ebb. Glancing around, it occurred to her that there were many areas where the wood had been crushed and even slits where light from outside peeked through; perhaps she could break her way out.

Groping through her surroundings, she managed to find a pile of tools that had spilled from a barrel. The first she reached for was all metal and burned red hot when she gripped it. Crying out, she recoiled and tore a piece off of her tunic, wrapping her hand in it. She reached out for a mallet, this time made of wood and stone, and managed to hold onto it. She crawled over to a spot where the ship was splitting and swung as hard as she could; happily, she was awarded with a cracking noise. The flames were getting closer, though, and the smoke thicker. She swung wildly, knowing well enough that it would never break in time.

Then, her heart soared as she heard voices on the other side.

"Eylee!" A muffled male voice came through that she believed belonged to Bayle. "Are you here?"

She felt a surge of hope rush through her and she pounded her fists against the wood. "Yes!" she shouted, but her lungs were so full of smoke that it didn't come out nearly as loud as she'd hoped.

"She's there," continued the voice. "Hurry, try to break through!"

Eylee leaned back to get out of the way, but all of the sudden, Roadyle materialized beside her. He shook his head and said, with his signature half smile, "I teleport all of us for miles, and they don't assume I can teleport into here?"
She felt her mouth caught in an O of surprise as she tried to respond but he reached out and put an arm around her. She had never touched him before, and was surprise to find that his skin was cold, colder than anyone she could ever imaging touching. Before she could think on it too much longer, though, he had gestured and the pair of them were outside of the ship and on a dusty patch of ground.

* * *

"They're gone. Nurgg was dead when Kaltuk had him, but Kruzz died in the crash."

Eylee knelt on the ground beside Kruzz's body and lifted up one of his hands so that it lay atop the other. His face was surprisingly peaceful, which was not an expression he was seen wearing often in life. It was as if every fear he'd had in life had been working to twist and turn at him every moment, but in death, it all melted away and finally left him be. "You're not afraid anymore," whispered Eylee, "at least there's that."

Kaltuk stood behind her with his hand on her shoulder and said, "He'd been wounded already. He didn't tell me. The poor wretch might've died even if we hadn't crashed, but once it happened, he was done." Kaltuk let out a long sigh and said, "I am sorry I didn't get to him in time, if only for your sake. When we crashed, it was all panic and to and fro. We didn't find him until too much time had gone by."

Tears ran down Eylee's face. She couldn't stop them, and she didn't try. "He was wounded helping me, Kaltuk," she murmured. "I didn't realize... I should have." The dwarf inhaled deeply as if he might say something, but then he just let it out. Nearby, they had laid out Nurgg's body as well, which they had managed to pull from the wreckage. The ship had broken in half and the flames remained contained to one end. The other, in which Nurgg's body had been placed, had remained well enough intact. Though none had made it through the fall unharmed, no one else had sustained any serious injuries, and Kaltuk managed to heal any wounds that might actually have slowed anyone down while preserving some strength in case their fighting was not done.

Kaltuk plodded away toward Nurgg. Eylee watched him go through strings of tangled hair, feeling nothing but a great emptiness in her chest. The dwarf stopped before the ogre and shook his head saying, "I wasn't there for you friend. I'm sorry."

The Feir'dal looked around her forlornly. The rest of their group was digging at the half of the ship that hadn't burned, salvaging whatever supplies and personal possessions they could. Even Asharae worked diligently and without complaint. Though Twiddy had at first wandered around as if in a daze, he returned and worked beside Fiddlewiz. His expression, though, was still that of a halfling with a broken heart. Eylee knew from where they had landed that this was the Elddar Forest, but even in the time since she had been gone, it had become unrecognizable. Leaves had long since blown away, bark curled off of the trunks like layers of dead skin, leaving them pale and vulnerable, eventually drying up and bleaching in the sunlight. The ground was dry, brittle, and cracking. In parts the loam had broken down to all but dust. Wind howled through the skeletons of the wood, kicking up clouds of dust, but other than the whooshing and whistling of the air streams, everything was silent. That was maybe the worst of any of it, the overbearing silence of a land that had once been so full of life. Eylee looked down at Kruzz's body again and brushed aside dirt that had settled on his jerkin.

She swallowed heavily and looked at Kaltuk, saying, "Maybe you could still help him."

Kaltuk glanced back at her with a raised eyebrow and said, "Oh, and how's that?"

"Resurrection... it's not uncommon," she continued.

Kaltuk's chin dropped to his chest and he crossed his large, barrel arms across his front. "That requires the help of a god, lass," he said. "Brell never took my power away, but I doubt he'd find it to do this much, and I've hardly given enough devotions to any other god to expect so much as a blink from any request I make."

Eylee looked down at Kruzz, and then at Nurgg. "It's worth trying," she said. "Don't you think so? We've seen a lot of things happen with your powers since we've been on this journey. Maybe Brell has been trying to make up for things."

Kaltuk stared at her, one eye squinting and his hand closing around the chain of his censer. "You realize you're asking me to do what I turned away all of Kaladim for asking me to do?"

Eylee breathed in deeply and returned the stare. "But not for the same reasons," she said. "I'm not asking you to follow blindly. I'm just asking you to try and cooperate."

Kaltuk made a scoffing noise and turned away. After a moment or two, he looked back and said, "Maybe... it is time." He frowned briefly. "Could you leave me to it, Eylee?"

She nodded and drifted away, leaving him by the bodies. As she went, she couldn't help but glance back. He had knelt beside Nurgg's body and, though his shoulders slouched heavily as if under a great burden, his head was bowed in prayer. She wrapped her arms around herself tightly and hoped it would be enough.

By the Wings of Dragons - Part IV

"He didn't raise."

Eylee glanced up and over at Kaltuk. The dwarf's eyes were dark and saggy. The whole of the group stood around, watching him. The Feir'dal had explained what was going on when she reached the rest of the group, and though there had been some semblance of trying to keep at their work, most had been glancing at him so often that they finally just stopped. Most didn't react to the news. There had been too much, too fast today and everyone was so drained that one more should-be-crushing revelation couldn't affect them. Asharae, however, cursed audibly, and Illisia actually turned and embraced Bayle, burying her head against his chest. He stroked at her head dully and rested his chin against her head, staring forward.

"So you tried to raise Nurgg?" asked Eylee. Kaltuk nodded. "Did you try Kruzz?"

Kaltuk looked startled, then his eyes narrowed, and he regarded the wood elf with guarded curiosity. "What do you mean by that?" he asked.

"Did you only try to raise Nurgg, or did you ask for Kruzz as well?" repeated Bayle. He looked at Eylee significantly, and she guessed he had some idea of her reasoning.

Kaltuk scoffed and said, "If you're meaning did it fail to work for my good friend, and so instead of continuing to try to bring him back, I instead put all my energy toward resurrecting a troll, then no."

"Maybe you should," pressed Eylee, "maybe it's a test on Brell's part."

Kaltuk stared at her, and in his eyes, there was certainly a more than significant ration of anger. That anger slowly faded though, and he nodded. They all watched as he crossed to where the bodies were and instead of continuing on to Nurgg's, stopped at Kruzz. He bent over the troll and faintly, Eylee could hear chanting. He began tracing a bright white outline of the cook's body and then stood at his head. The wood elf's breath caught in her throat as she watched him, daring to hope her intuition had been correct.

Kaltuk thrust his arms to the sky and this time his words were clear and ringing. "Brell! I ask you to bring back Kruzz, born to the wretched Clan Grobb and the worst cook I've ever met, but a hero despite all of that. Do it and you've a devoted follower in Kaltuk Ironstein once more."

Eylee winced slightly, wishing he hadn't added the last bit, but hoping it would not offend Brell too deeply. But then, any god who would have created the dwarves might well appreciate their less yielding nature, and the rest of the gesture could still be enough.

A pillar of light came down from the sky, enveloping Kruzz and lifting his body up from the ground. Everyone watched in amazement as there was a flash and then he was down on the ground, curled up and coughing. For a moment, everyone just watched, and then there were cheers and sounds of amazement. Eylee herself sprang down from where she had been perched on the wreckage and ran to Kruzz, wrapping him as tightly as she could in a hug. Kaltuk had yet to react. He looked on amazedly at the troll, who seemed fairly confused himself.

"I's not dead?" asked Kruzz, blinking and looking around.

"You're not dead," said Eylee, smiling as fresh tears ran down her face. "Kaltuk brought you back."

"Dwarf brought troll back?" asked Kruzz, staring at Kaltuk, blinking.

Kaltuk scoffed and said, "Yes, but only by the very minimum of choice."

"Thank you, Kaltuk," said the troll. Kaltuk stammered and then nodded to him, smiling slightly, moving over to where Nurgg's body lay.

"Where is we?" asked Kruzz, head swinging from side to side.

Eylee felt the happiness that had filled her lessen slightly. "This is the Elddar Forest, or it was..." she said.

"Hmph," said Kruzz, after a few moments of looking at it again, "not so much a forest."

She shook her head and said, "No, no it isn't."

Just then, Eylee was swept up off the ground and found herself pressed against Kaltuk as the pair of them were mashed against Nurgg's great ogre chest. Dark thoughts vanished and happiness and relief once again filled the Feir'dal as it seemed that once again, their group had managed to sidestep complete devastation.

* * *

The company moved forward the next day, bangs and bruises - and in a few cases, death itself - healed as well as could be managed. Bayle walked at their head, saying, "We know where we need to go now to stop this at its head, but we need to touch base with our allies. We don't know what will happen when we enter the Void, and they need to be ready for the possibility that we won't come back. We'll travel as far into the Plains as we need to in order to find a contact and then veer back down toward Innothule."

There were murmurs of agreement. Twiddy kept glancing over his shoulder, keeping watch on the remains of the Cloudskipper until they were far beyond his sight. When they had finally gone, he let out a long sigh and hugged a small box to his chest. Fiddlewiz patted him on the back and said through his scarf, "Keep your chin up, Twiddy."

Twiddy nodded blankly and said, "Maybe so. My destiny was to reach the skies, though, Fiddlewiz. Now that it's over, well, I don't know what's left for me."

"Never had much use for destiny," said Fiddlewiz. "I'd rather do with my life as I see it. We'll build another. Maybe a better one." Twiddy seemed to nod and consider what he had said, then straightened up a little.

Asharae pulled the hood of her cloak up and over her head, pulling out her long hair so that it hung to one side. She squinted up into the sky and said, "It's much hotter here than it should be."

Illisia glanced back at the Teir'dal and then stopped to put one hand against one of the dying trees, bark flaking off beneath her hand. "I imagine the trees are thinking the same thing."

"Well, it's clearly too late for them," said Asharae. "While we are still here, does anyone have a plan for finding water? We only have so much."

"I am sure Illisia will find it if it is to be found," said Bayle.

Illisia nodded and seemed to examine the ground. "I am sure we will find a pocket of it soon enough."

"And if we don't?" asked Asharae, lifting an eyebrow inquisitively.

"We will," repeated Illisia. "There is still some life here, and that means water.

"Hmm, I see," said Asharae, but she looked dubious.

"Eylee," said Bayle, "maybe a song would help us?"

She smiled and hoisted her drum, which had fortunately made it through the crash in one piece, up to her side. Beating on it softly, she began to chant a song to help them walk briskly and without tire.

By late afternoon, they had come to a part of the forest where life seemed to be struggling to hold on, and there was a little more in the way of foliage and fauna to be found. Just before nightfall, Illisia stopped them all.
"There's a party of humanoids in the area," she said. "From the shape and size of the feet, I think elven, but I'm not certain. We should lie low until we know."

They hid themselves as best as they could in the limited environment. Eylee found herself beside Roadyle. Thinking of the way she had felt before, she found herself considering his presence beside her. Unlike Nurgg, who radiated heat like a furnace, Roadyle gave off nothing. She wondered if he was always so cold, or if it was something to do with his powers.

"I hope you know how grateful I am," she whispered to him. "I know I said thank you, but there is no way that can really express it."

He smiled at her thinly and nodded, saying under his breath, "We've all done what we must for each other."

"Still," she said, "that was dangerous. You didn't have to take the risk. Thank you."

"Do not mention it," he responded. "Very literally, at the moment. We need to be stealthy."

She nodded to him and smiled, peering into the forest beyond. Without warning, she was thrust headlong into a vision. She found herself groping for purchase, her hand locking onto Roadyle's upper arm. In her mind, she saw a great blue-green dragon stretched out in a cavern. A beautiful elven woman wearing a dress of white embroidered with gold threading stepped before him and presented him with a satchel. He lifted it with a single claw and nodded to her.

"When the time is right," she said to him.

"Very well."

As the vision faded, she loosened her grip on Roadyle's arm and drew back. As the details put themselves together in her head, she knew two things for certain about the dream. The elven woman was Queen Elizerain, and the satchel was Eylee's very own, the container in which she kept her writings. She was almost certain of the identity of the dragon. He matched the descriptions she had heard of Trakanon, and the sense of power around him really didn't suit anyone else.

"What was that?" asked Roadyle, staring at her.

"I don't know yet, exactly," said Eylee, frowning. "But I believe we have no reason to hide."

Not long later, a party came into view. Eylee squinted, and even from a distance, she made out a figure with the distinct quality of Elizerain. As they drew closer, the young wood elf was sure it was her. She was dressed more simply than Eylee's vision, primarily wearing traveling leathers, but the armor was made of a doeskin of the softest white. She wore a long white cloak and carried herself with a regal bearing. Nearby, she heard Bayle and Illisia discuss what they were seeing.

"Probably trustworthy, but we can't be certain," said Illisia. "Best to stay where we are."

"Agreed," said Bayle. He gestured for all of them to lay low.

Eylee, though, knew she had to speak with the queen. Even if she hadn't had her vision, there was no one she would trust more, but she couldn't expect anyone but Roadyle to understand why.

She looked over at him and said, "What are they saying? Of course we can trust her!"

Roadyle blinked and looked at her as if he had no idea what she was talking about. Quickly, though, his expression shifted and he nodded to her, "Oh yes, definitely."

Eylee stood up. Bayle and Illisia looked at her, startled and gestured at her, but she walked past them and toward Elizerain, falling to a knee when she was finally there.

The party of elves around the queen tensed slightly but did not look aggressive. No doubt her sudden appearance startled them. The queen did not react except to smile at her.

"Hello young Feir'dal," said the queen. "Were you left behind? Would you like to join us? The last of our boats is leaving for the Faydark. After that, you are free to make your own way, but there will be no more ships going back and forth. Stand, you don't need to stay down here."

"No, Queen Elizerain," she said, shaking her head as she stood. "I'm not lost and I was not left behind. My name is Eylee Zephyrswell, and I've been traveling with a group..." Eylee glanced behind her and gestured toward the spots where her party was hiding. The rest of them eased out of their hiding spots. The elven guards grew a little more uneasy at the sight of the assorted races but there was no further response from them. "... of adventurers, doing our best to stave off the invasion from the Void."

"Ah," said Elizerain, her expression clouding, "yes, we have been hearing word of that, but not encountered any of the invaders ourselves."

Eylee nodded to her and said, "Look, I had a... vision... with you in it."

"A vision?" asked Elizerain, raising an eyebrow with a bit of an amused smile. "I know something about those."

"Well then you'll believe me when I say that I need to give something to you," she said, removing her satchel from her shoulder and tapping it, "and that you need to give it to the dragon Trakanon."

Elizerain started visibly. "Trakanon?" she asked. "You need me to take this to Trakanon?"

Eylee nodded to her and said, "The writings inside here describe what we have faced, and what we have learned. We are going to enter the Void, because it's the only way to stop the invasion completely. Hopefully we succeed, and Norrath never faces threat from the Void again, but in case we don't, these need to be kept safe until they are needed again."

The others came forward and mingled behind Eylee. Bayle came to stand just about beside her, nodding respectfully to Queen Elizerain. Elizerain swept her eyes across the members of the party and said, "So diverse a group would not come together lightly. I believe your story."

"You're welcome to read them," blurted Eylee, feeling foolish the moment the words were out. Blushing, she continued, "They're just modest scribblings, but it would be an honor."

Elizerain nodded distantly, assumably lost in thought. "I most likely will," she said, "I need to return these people to Faydark..." Her hand moved in a sweeping gesture, encompassing the group of elves behind her. Eylee now noted, looking more closely, that the group was full of both Koada'dal and Feir'dal, and that not all of them were guards. There was an assortment of men, women, and children who all seemed to be wearing civilian clothing. "... as this is the final sweep we are doing of the area, collecting any who have held out here but are now willing to go. Once that is done, I will turn my ship straight away and visit Trakanon. All of that, though, will afford me ample time to read it. Though I must say, this is impressively heavy."

Eylee smiled bashfully and said, "It's been a long journey."

"Well," said the queen, "do you wish to pass them over now?"

Eylee shook her head and said, "I would like to record some final notes. I will do it quickly, though. I'm sure you need to move on."

The queen nodded and said, "We will dine together. Finish what you need to, young Eylee, and give them to me when you are done."

Eylee glanced back at all of her companions, examining them each in turn, and thinking of how she might possibly be writing the end to all of their stories now.

She settled below a tree, leaning up against the peeling trunk, and caught up to the exact point at which she sat. For the longest time after, she considered how to end it, but anything too final unsettled her, as if it spelled this too clearly as their end. Instead, she left it at that, a silent image of herself beneath a tree dotting the final sentence and shuffling away the papers. What ever followed would not be written and would be left only to the annals of time.

* * *

And this is where I leave you, whomever this may be, in whatever time you might live. If you are reading this, then it's likely we succeeded at least in keeping Norrath from being swallowed completely by the Void. Of course, if you are reading this because you face the same peril, then what we did must not have been enough. I can only hope, then, you are able to learn from what we did, and move forward from where we left you.
-- Eylee Zephyrswell


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Join date : 2010-07-24


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