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 Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:06 pm


It was inevitable. Ky’ly would not put aside his pride for anything. Not even his own life. Pela was in hopes that wouldn’t be the case but as she watched the life slowly drain from the Elf Lords eyes, she was disappointed but not surprised. She looked at Olwa then. What did he wish her to do? Moving forward, she knelt down next to the dying Elf and reached her hands out to touch him and eventually cradle his body to hers. While she was certain Ky’ly saw it as the last insult, Pela saw it as her last gift.

Whispering softly in Ky’ly’s ear, she cast a spell that would lower his body temperature and slow the blood running through his veins hopefully in enough time to slow his death. When her spell had been cast, she laid Ky’ly gently on the ground as she laid one of the rock necklaces she made onto his chest. She then called his men to his side instructing them to stay near their commander, making sure they clasped hands, speaking to them softly, telling them to please explain to Prince Myth’Alis and Princess Rayann what happened.

Getting to her feet, she moved everyone out of the ring that had previously been used for battle and stood off to the side. Closing her eyes, Pela took off one of the last, remaining rock necklace she had and removed the rocks from the string. Holding her hands together she whispered soft, spidery words of magic. The rocks along the perimeter of the ring began to glow blue as well as the rocks on Ky’ly’s chest. With each time she repeated the spidery words, the rocks glowed brighter.

Finally her spell reached its peak and she tossed the rocks from her hand out towards the group in the center of the ring. The glow from the rocks along the perimeter of the ring shot upwards and curved in towards the rocks that she had thrown out over the elves, suspended in mid air. The glow from the rock in the center over the elves then met the glow from the rocks on Ky’ly and when the connection between all rocks was complete, the glow became so bright, those who were nearby had to shield their eyes to keep watching.

When the glow had stopped, the elves were gone and Pela stood for a moment before she teetered slightly before her eyes rolled into her head and she passed out. It was the most powerful spell she had ever done in her life. One Kali had given to her in her spell book to study with a word of caution that if she used it, she would drain herself, almost to the point of no return and she should use it only in cases of emergency. To Pela, there was no more emergency then getting Ky’ly back to his people to see if he could somehow be saved.

And the last thing she thought of before blackness overtook her was she hoped she had kept her word to Olwa in the end.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:26 am



Olwa and Branch stood back as Pela cast her spell on Ky’ly. Olwa watched his dying father with seeming indifference on his face and Branch had a look of resolution on hers. As Pela cooled him and slowed the bleeding Branch turned and walked away, with her back to them neither Olwa or Pela would see the look of disappointment that suddenly crossed her face.

As the Rangers gathered around Ky’ly the clan watched in awe as Pela used simple stones to create brilliant lights and caused the Elves to disappear, they cheered in a roar of triumph, not understanding that the Elves were transported rather than killed, but all the same they celebrated that they now had a Chief strong enough to cast real magic. As Pela collapsed Olwa grabbed her and cradled her in his arms.
--
Morning came as the sun shown through the cool mists of the mountains. Olwa lifted his head and felt the ache in his shoulders and back from sleeping on the chair in Pela’s room. He blinked and looked around, without the sun showing he had no idea what time it was. He stood and walked to the window, looking down the large hillside that lead to the town center. He could see the Seat of the Chieftain clearly from this angle. The seat was intricate and massive and he turned to look at Pela, sleeping peacefully under her snow white coverings. He had no idea where the blankets had come from, it took all he had to get her up the hill and clean himself up enough to collapse into the chair, but someone had brought in snow white coverings. He heard a noise and turned to look, Gore’Rock stopped in the doorway and bowed his head to Olwa and spoke in very broken Common, “How is our Chieftain?”


Olwa was slightly surprised, he had never heard Gore’Rock speak in Common and he smiled slightly as he responded, “She is resting, but the color is back in her face.”

Gore’Rock nodded and spoke again, “Many wondered if she killed herself, but most are convinced she is stronger than ever.”

Olwa turned and looked at her with a smile, “She is stronger than ever, stronger than I ever thought she was, and I already thought she was very strong.”

Gore’Rock leaned on his staff and looked at Pela as she slept, “She is the strongest Chieftain we have ever had, none have ever used magic, Netherman do not use magic, at least not until Bad’Rock did. Our race does not have natural affinity to the magic of this world, as a result they fear it more than brute strength because they don’t understand it. It cannot be seen, therefore it cannot be understood.”

Olwa turned and looked at Gore’Rock, “I have a feeling they are about to learn all about it.”

Without a hint of emotion on his face Gore’Rock nodded and spoke, “I think you are right.”

Branch walked into the room and both turned to look at her. Olwa smiled and Branch gave a faint smile in return, “Istar’Ostring, she is feeling better?”

Olwa turned to look at her and spoke, “The color is returning to her face, I think she just over exerted herself.”

Branch moved with the grace and precision of her heritage and walked over to Pela’s bed, brushing the snow white hair off her forehead and looked at her, “Istar’Ostring does look better, Istar’Ostrings face looks healthy and strong again.” She smoothed the blanket and rubbed her finger on Pela’s cheek before turning to look at Gore’Rock, “Istar’Ostring will need foods when she awakens, may I hunt in yours forests?”

Gore’Rock turned to look at Olwa with curiosity, clearly he was having some trouble understanding. Olwa did his best to translate and Gore’Rock turned to look at Branch, “These forests are not mine, they are the Chieftains.”

Branch smiled and turned to look at Pela again, “Istar’Ostring won’t mind fresh meat then.”

She walked pass both of them and out the door, disappearing quickly into the woods.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:29 pm


It was as though she were outside of herself and listening to the conversations around her. She recognized Olwa’s voice and that of Gore’Rocks and Branch’s when she arrived. She even felt the touch of Branch’s fingers to her skin. It was like she had awakened from a dream only to find she was still dreaming.

Or was she?

She heard Branch excuse herself, more or less, and Pela took in a deep breath before she slowly blinked her eyes open. Light from the outside was streaming into her room and she blinked a few more times to adjust her eyes to the light. Her head ached but nothing she couldn’t stand. It was always the case when she had cast a spell that took much of her energy from her. Of course, this ache was a little more than the ones in the past.

She opened her mouth to say something but all that came out was a strangled croak. She didn’t realize how dry her throat was until now. As Olwa came to her side and she saw Gore’Rock looking at her curiously, she managed to clear her throat softly and speak in a slightly hoarse voice.

”H-How long have I been asleep?”

She was already moving to get out of bed as she sat on the edge of the large, grass filled mattress. Her head spun slightly and she pressed her hand to her temple to try and ease the sensation. Her brows furrowed as she saw the cleanliness of her attire and her body then her blue eyes, strayed to Olwa and Gore’Rock with an unasked question they could both clearly see.

Gore’Rock spoke in the broken common for Olwas sake knowing his Chieftain would prefer that for now.

”It was elderwild. She made sure you cleaned and bed made proper for you. She treats you like child. No let anyone touch you but young elf.”

Pela glanced at Olwa then and gave him a small smile then looked at Gore’Rock as her hands strayed to her hair to see if Branch left at least some of the decorations in her hair. Relief washed over her when she felt the way her hair had been twisted and braided around some of the ornamental decorations but no as many as she had before.

”I want to have a meeting with all the clan elders as soon as possible.”

She attempted to stand but when she wobbled she instantly felt Olwa’s hands steadying her and ease her back onto the bed. Gore’Rock grunted slightly.

”Chieftain need to stand straight first.”

Pela furrowed her brows at Gore’Rock but couldn’t stop the slight grin that tugged at the corners of her mouth.

”I will be certain to sit during the meeting then.”

Gore’Rock hesitated a moment before he bowed respectfully then turned to send out word of the meeting Pela wanted to have.

Pela looked at the pristine white night rail she wore and the white blankets that had been laid over her. Her fingers caressed the softness of the blankets and her brow furrowed yet again as she looked up to Olwa and spoke quietly.

”These were the blankets father had made for me.”

She felt her emotions welling up again and she swallowed several times very hard to gain control of herself once more.

”I….thought all of my things…..were destroyed.”

Finally she took a deep breath and looked at Olwa. They were alone for the first time since they had been taken to the village. There were so many things she wanted to say to him but she didn’t know where to start. And she still wasn’t sure if he was angry with her over everything that had happened. When she spoke, her words were as broken as her thoughts in an effort to try and say what she needed to say all at once.

”Olwa…I….things happened so fast…it wasn’t what I expected….and to discover who the Chieftain was…I tried to help…..I didn’t mean for you and Branch….please don’t hate me….”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:02 pm



Olwa smiled softly and took Pela’s hand in his own, “So my sweet Pela, what part of you should I not hate, the part where you are the most amazing woman I have ever known or the part where you showed more bravery in one moment that I have known in a lifetime?”

She smiled and he leaned forward, kissing her on the mouth, letting the moment linger a few seconds before pulling back and looking her in the eyes, “There is nothing to ask forgiveness for, you warned us long before we got here that things were most likely not going to be smooth. As it turns out you have never spoken truer words.”

He brushed his finger on her cheek and the silence of the room was interupted by Branches broken Common, “Istar’Ostring! Yous are awakens!” Branch came quickly and sat beside her on the opposite side of Olwa. She took Pela by the cheeks and closed her eyes as she felt her skin, “Istar’Ostring is cool, hers heart beats strong…,” opening her eyes she looked at Pela and spoke softly, “Istar’Ostring has good color again, this is good thing yes.”



She reached up and brushed Pela’s hair back gently and spoke, “Branch will makes Istar’Ostring decorated again, right after Istar’Ostring eats a breakfast. Branch killed a doe in Istar’Ostrings forest and parts are cooking now. Branch will bring soon with berries yes?”

Pela nodded with a smile and Branch returned the smile. There was something in the Elderwilds eyes, something that showed her reversion back to that of an Elderwild Elf, not cooped up in a building but free to wander the lands and move with nature. To put it bluntly Branch looked like an Elf again, and Pela would see the happiness that was deep in the back of Branches eyes, hidden just out of plain view. As Branch stared into Pela’s eyes there was a clear expression of love and dedication to the Sorceress, Pela would see without words being spoken that Branch intended to stay with her as long as life allowed it.

Branch turned to Olwa and spoke, “Olwa watches Istar’Ostring, Branch will return swiftly with food.”

Olwa smiled and nodded as Branch stood and patted him gently on the shoulder as she passed by and spoke, “Olwas might wants to think about a bath, hims stinks.”

She turned and looked at Pela with a wink as she disappeared out the door. Olwa looked down at himself and laughed as he spoke, “She’s right, I didn’t bath after what happened, I wanted to make sure you were ok. Somehow however, Branch managed to get herself completely clean and see to it that you were fussed over all at the same time.”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:34 pm


Pela felt a huge weight lifted off her as Olwa assured her everything was fine between them. Her cool hand covered his warm one as his fingers caressed her cheek. As Branch flew into the room, Pela couldn’t help but smile brightly at the Elfess. She looked more radiant than Pela had ever seen her and almost immediately Pela saw the change in her dear friend. The transformation was remarkable and Pela couldn’t be happier for Branch

As Branch referred to decorating Pela’s hair, Pela chuckled softly and shook her head.

”It’s fine just the way it is, Branch. Thank you. And breakfast sounds utterly delicious. I hope Glub’Lug didn’t fuss too much when you gave her the meat to prepare. She may not be the friendliest of the Netherwomen but she does know how to cook very well.”

As Branch passed by Olwa and announced his offensive scent, Pela couldn’t help but laugh softly. Her strength was returning with each passing second. Standing, she walked over to stand before Olwa. Reaching up she brushed a lock of his dirty hair from his forehead letting her eyes trace hr fingers movements before her eyes settled on his gaze.

”Go. Wash up. Gore’Rock should have your things ready for you to pick up. We have much to do today and every day for the next few months. Nethermen can be quite stubborn when they want to be and the three of us have much to teach them, Mela en' coiamin”

Leaning in she kissed him softly on the lips letting the kiss linger for a few moments before she slowly leaned back and smiled at him.

”Meet me back here when you are done.”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:53 pm


Branch watched as Olwa left and she turned to look at Pela. She spoke softly as Elves often do, “Glub’Lug make no fuss when I told her was for Chieftain, plus many Netherman look at Branch with some fear now, Branch thinks showing skill with a bow caused many to show respect.”

She walked over to Pela and practically pushed her down into a chair, “Istar’Ostring fuss not abouts what Branch going to do, Istar’Ostring is making big appearance for first day as Chieftain, shes must be looking like Netherman Chief yes.”

She placed on a small table beside Pela a leather bag full of all sorts of things that she clearly picked up from the surrounding area. It would be obvious to Pela that she had been paying attention since they got here about what the Netherwoman chose to put in their hair. The bag was full of all sorts of oddly twisted sticks, shiny and colorful rocks, Sharpgrass, and other superstition thwarting plants, “Istar’Ostring begins choosing, Branch starts weaving.”

As Pela went through the bag and began handing the little trinkets that suited her fancy she could feel Branch weaving and twisting the items into her long white hair. Time passed slowly as the two chatted and Branch worked. After thirty minutes or so Branch produced from her side pack a small mirror she had managed to acquire from the Pilininge residence before she left and held it up for Pela to observe herself. The braids were intricate and delicate, much as one would expect from an elf, but they were also extremely complex, much more complex than the ones even in Branches hair. Beside each was also braids that looked exactly like the ones she had seen the Netherwomen braiding, and side by side the braids were intertwined and connected loosely so they still moved naturally and freely. Pela looked up at her in amazement and Branch spoke with a shy smile, “These are Elven braids of royalty, Branch was taught to put them in Mistress’ hair when she was young and Branches fingers were young and nimble so the knottings could be learned precisely. These are those of Istar’Ostrings peoples, but Istar’Ostring is not just of these peoples, she is a mixture, a blending of two worlds, Branch thinks it’s fitting to represent them boths.”

She smiled and bowed her head in reverence, again, it was the bow one would give their ruler and Queen, not so much one of indentured servitude but one of respect and willingness. Suddenly there was a soft knock on the door and Glub’Lug stood with a tray of food. Branch turned to look at her and spoke in Netherese, “Come.”

Glub’Lug looked at Branch with respect and nodded her head as she walked and placed the food on the table, looking at Pela and speaking with a tone that was now much different than when Pela was working in the kitchen last week, “Will there be anything else my Chieftain?”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:10 pm


Yellow eyes watched fervently as the cloaked figure left the town and the shop burned to the ground in a matter of seconds. His leathery, scaled face twisted into a smile as he observed her from afar. She was perfect in every manner of his expectation, except that she wasn’t Draconian, though for the access to such power he was willing to overlook that ‘flaw’.

Since his break with the Dark Master who served Tahkisis and the belief of his demise at Heartlund, Nid’Hug had wandered the land looking for the Fire Mage he witnessed at the battle of Heartlund. He could see it the instant her power was shown, she was much more powerful than the Dark Master, and he would offer himself to her, humbly, to learn from her and become her apprentice. As was the case with any magic user, he would have to prostrate himself, humble himself and allow himself to be ruled for a time, but in the end he would learn, he would grow and he would become more powerful.

His forked tongue flicked from his lips as she approached, he watched with slit pupils as she crossed from view and into the tree line. He knew the path wound and came out after the very short grove of trees, it was hear he waited, her he prostrated himself and listened with his ears to the ground for her footsteps, and heard them he did, until they stopped. He could feel her eyes on him, and he spoke without looking up in a broken dialect that reflected his Draconian tongue doing its best to speak to her in Common, “Beggings the ladies pardon, but I, Nid’Hug have ssought audiensse with yous, the Fire Wizard of Heartlundss destruction. Pleasse accssept my presensse a moment.”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:32 pm


Pela was grateful for the time alone with Branch. She didn’t feel so foreign in the elfess’ presence. And the time they spent talking was welcomed as well. She was beginning to see a different side of Branch and it was one she loved more and more as each minute passed by.

When Pela saw the intricate briding Branch had done in her hair as well as the way she braided parts of her hair as the Netherwomen then wove them both together, Pela was amazed to say the least. Hugging her friend dearly she thanked her.

”Thank you sooo much Branch. It’s beautiful and I could not agree more with it.”

As Glub’Lug brought in the tray of food, Pela’s stomach growled as a reminder of just how hungry she really was. As the cook set the tray down and humbled herself before Pela, the sorceress smiled slightly at the Netherwoman.

”Whatever is left should be prepared as a snack for the meeting. Other than that, you are free to do your chores until the time comes to cook the next meal.”

As Glub’Lug bowed respectfully and left the room, Olwa came in immediately afterwards. He looked very handsome all cleaned up and wearing nothing more than his ranger clothes. Pela smiled and walked over to greet him. She had dressed just before Branch started working on her hair into an outfit that was much like the traditional Netherwomen ones she had been wearing. The only difference was her shirt was now white and there was intricate, gold threading sewn around the neckline, sleeves and the shortened hem. She was almost positive a certain Elfess had something to do with that as well. Kissing him softly she took him by the hand and led him over to the table where the food sat.

”Come. Eat. And when we’re through, we have a very important meeting to attend. The clan elders will be stubborn and it will be up to us to show them there is always room for improvement and change is not always a bad thing.”

Just as they were settling down to eat, Gore’Rock arrived to announce the clan elders were gathered and waiting for her outside. She told him to make sure they had something to eat and drink, but no alcohol, and she would be with them shortly.

As the breakfast meal was finished, Pela took along drink of water then looked at Olwa and Branch.

”Ready to start our new lives?”

Standing, she hugged both of them then turned and took a deep breath as she headed for her first official meeting with the clan as their Chieftain.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:55 pm




Branch remained relatively quiet as they ate, it was clear that much was on her mind as the meeting approached. It was not fear or hesitation, more curiosity of what was coming. She nibbled just a little and when Pela finally looked at her to inquire she smiled softly and spoke, “Branch snacked as she hunted Istar’Ostring, she is full.”

Olwa ate his fill and could not believe how well the venison had been prepared. As he finished and the trio stood to go Pela offered her question and Branch looked at her with an expression which communicated confidence and belief, “Branch thinks these Netherman will be more open to Istar’Ostring than even she thinks… Thems respecting your power, questioning Istar’Ostring won’t be on their minds afters what theys saw yestermorrow.”

As they walked down into the main receiving room of Pela’s new home, the Elders were gathered around the hearth and talking amongst themselves. As she entered the room Gore’Rock banged his staff on the hardwood floor and the seven clan Elders immediately turned their attention and inclined their heads respectfully. Branch quickly scanned and assessed their faces, some were fully accepting, others had looks of trepidation and would clearly need to be convinced she was the leader she would need to be. Gore’Rock turned to the elders and spoke in Netherese, “As the will of the Chieftain causes, so we have gathered at her request.”

He turned to Pela and handed her the speakers stone, a smooth and polished rock which she would immediately recognize as the same one Bad’Rock used to use. The stone was held by whomever had the floor as a visual symbol of who the attention was to be on, though often the rule was ignored during any sort of heated debate. Olwa and Branch remained on the very outskirts of the room and watched, being respectful and mindful of their position as guests in this village, in fact Branch even had the thought they might be asked to leave as several of the Elders were watching them with looks of anger that they would dare intrude in a meeting of the Elders.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:05 pm

The remnants of the Rangers appeared in a flash of blue in the middle of Silvanost, right beside the portal to Heartlund. They were tattered, and clearly had been beaten in some sort of battle. Six Rangers in total had returned with their commander Ky’ly. One of them spoke sharply, though his voice was clearly reflecting his exhaustion, “Call a healer!”

In moments servants of Mishikal arrived and prayed over Ky’ly, asking their goddess for healing to this fallen one, but none came, he was denied the grace of the goddess and remained ice cold and unaffected. Other members of the Ranger Core had arrived, they had their own healing abilities outside of that which Mishikal granted. They used magic, herbs, and skill to heal in the field, and immediately Ky’ly was moved into the barracks where the wounded were often taken and they went to work on him.

Hours went by for Allawana as she sat and watched the candle ticks melt away. Finally one of the medical corp approached, his face was sad but hopeful, “Mistress Allawana, Ky’ly is alright for now, whatever happened out there was … well let’s just say it looks like he is lucky to be alive.” She nodded her head and looked at him with tear filled eyes as she spoke softly, “Diola lle.”

He nodded and spoke, “You may come see him if you like, he is still unconscious due to the stiffweed we gave him, however you can see him.”

Prince Myth’alas had asked for a report minutes after the group had arrived and as the superior ranked Ranger still remaining Cael was tasked with doing it. He inhaled deeply as he stood at the end of the long hall which lead to the Princes meeting chamber. He watched the door as if the Prince would burst forth at any moment, but of course he did not. Behind that door however was a meeting he wasn’t sure he wanted to have, Ky’ly had broken many rules of protocol and engaged an adversary that Silvanesti Elves were forbade to engage unless absolutely necessary. He was being asked to answer for decisions which had not been his, though in principle he did agree with the retrieval of Ky’lys’ son.

He took the first step and walked the long hall, stopping outside the door. He brought his hand up to knock and heard the strong voice of the Prince break the silence, “Enter Cael.”

Cael swallowed hard and pressed the lever, stepping inside the Princes meeting chamber and stood at attention before him, “Cael Aeradel reporting as requested my Prince.”

Myth’alas looked up at him and Cael could see it in his eyes, he was not about to be asked snowball questions…

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:12 pm



Piramay had been moving through the forest paths away from the small town. She hummed a light tune to herself as she moved with a quiet elegance. For reasons she could not entirely understand she actually smelled the draconian before she actually saw him. It was a unique experience that piqued her interest but it was a matter she would contemplate later. She shortened her step as she approached eying the prostrate form before her. A draconian by definition was a servant to the Dark Queen but it was the beast's words that stayed her magic from lashing out.

There was a soft hiss as she set the end of her staff upon the earth at rest. Her reputation was well known among many and judging by Nid'hug's attire he was a wizard himself. She had little doubt he knew who he was dealing with. "You may have your moment Nid'hug... I suggest that you make the most of it. My patience is as fleeting as your spirits grasp of that mortal coil."

She stood looking down upon Nid'Hug waiting for the draconian to speak. The air around them was growing warmer with each moment that Piramay remained motionless. Whether this was caused by the nature of her being or a show of readiness was anyone's guess. Very little emotion showed as she stared down at the draconian.
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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:39 pm


Nidhug lifted his head only high enough to get his eyes on her, it was the same fashion she had seen Draconians address Tahkisis, and they typically only did this for Tahkisis. His tongue flicked as she looked down at him and he blinked his split pupil, yellow eyes before speaking, “Mistresss of Fire, the great Piramay, the dessstroyer of Heartlund. I am known as Nid’Hug, former servant of Gregor the Dark Master.”

He saw as Piramay’s eyebrow raised ever so slightly as she heard the name. Gregor the Dark was known widely among those who served Tahkisis as a brutal hunter of those who opposed the Queen of Chaos. Piramay most likely had tortured and interrogated many of those whom he had brought back, but he had delved deeper and deeper into dark magics which many say consumed him as he had not been seen for well over a year. Nid’Hug continued knowing that the Lady of Flame was not one who was generous with patience when it came to long winded conversations, “Mistresss, I would assk of you, that I might learn from your teachingss, that I would be made your apprentisse, to sserve only you and you alone. Many are the stories of the Lady of Flamess, perssonally I have been witnesss to your power. Allow Nid’hug thiss humble requesst that he might join you and assist you in your doingss.”

Knowing Draconians as she did, Piramay would understand that his pledge was one of complete fealty, by pledging himself he would do everything she asked, no matter what the danger, and he would be loyal to her and her alone.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:35 pm



Taking a deep breath Piramay considered Nid'hug's request silently. The fact he had served Gregor was of little consequence to her. The man had ambition and she believed like many that it had overtaken him. Still if Nid'hug had served he may actually have some skill in the craft. Her future plans did require an assistant of a certain nature, and with a little effort Nid'hug could suit that need. She cleared her throat as she released her staff and reached into her robes.

"You have given this a good deal of thought. I can tell by your choice of words and the motions that you take. You have prostrated and humbled yourself in the presence of my volatile nature. I am not sure there are many from the court who could do such a thing as this. I accept your request and agree to take you as an apprentice. However, understand Nid'hug... I require an assistant not a sycophant. You may question decisions and actions but you do so at your own peril if sufficient reason is not levied with your objection, or suggestion."

She drew forth a ruby from the folds of her cloak holding it up staring into the depths of the gem. Her red eyes scanned the object as if it was searching teh depths before she tossed it to Nid'hug's feet. "You are going to need that..."

While she would have preferred to use the pre-arranged site for the trip the addition of Nid'hug made it a useless measure. She waited a moment letting the draconian grasp the item. As she saw the question forming on his lips she grasped her staff hoisting it up and slammed the end of the staff into the earth. Fire roared out from the point of impact engulfing the pair. There was a moment of intense heat before Nid'hug would feel the familiar wrenching feeling of teleportation. One moment they were in the forest and the next they were in a dark study that was inside a mountainous cavern.
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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:38 pm


Pela smiled at Gore’Rock as he handed her the stone. It was considerably large for her hands and heavy for her to hold but she did so all the same. She spoke in Netherese keeping her tone steady and strong letting the Elders know she didn’t see this role as Chieftain as something to be taken lightly. Quite the opposite. Pela knew how important this position was in the clan. She had watched Bad’Rock and knew the responsibility was nothing short of complete.

”I wanted to call a meeting with the Elders to find out exactly what territory this clan now possesses and to learn some other facts I need to know about the clan. I wish not to hear anything but facts and truth. Hearsay without proof will not be taken seriously. But first, I want to introduce you all to my friend and to my love. They are here now, at this meeting to observe and learn the ways of the Nethermen. It is their wish to remain with the clan. It is my wish they remain as well. Branch is, as you can see, an Elderwild Elf. Her prowess in the forest and knowledge of natural herbs will help grow the knowledge of the clan. Olwa Pilininge is battle tested as he fought beside me in Heartlund. He has also trained under the hand of Prince Myth’Alas of the Silvanesti Elves. While it is not Nethermen tradition to take in members outside the clan, I wish to make these two an exception for the benefits far outweigh the liabilities. I know many if not all of you will object to this and I respect your opinions, but I think it is important for us to share the ways of the clan with them but also let them share their ways with the clan. Who will be the first to speak?”

She reached out and placed the stone in the center of the group then took her seat back at the head of the group and waited. The Elders looked at each other skeptically then glanced at her. Once they realized she was actually waiting for one of them to pick it up and speak their mind, it became almost frenzied as to who would be the first to speak out.

The rock ended up in the hands of one of the eldest member of the group. Pela soon realized it was going to be a long day and this meeting would be lucky to be done by the time the sun set. Still, she would sit and listen to all of them until they all had their say. It would have to be this way until she secured herself even further into her position as Chieftain. It wasn’t going to be easy to sit and hear some of the prejudicial things some of the elders would say, but she had to be fair in all things. Even this.

She glanced at Branch and Olwa apologetically then sighed heavily as the debating began among the gathered few. Please, she prayed, just let me make it through this without losing my temper. That is all I ask.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:42 pm

The meeting went on most of the day, the Elders were divided intensely over many issues and Pela could see that the situation regarding the clan was shaky at best. Though they were united as a clan there were many dissentions since Bad’Rock was leader, and even some of the minor “Broken Men”, those minor clans too small to own their owns lands and lived on the lands of one of the seven major clans, had separated their loyalty and attached themselves to other major clans.

She learned that though Rock’Crush had been a low tolerance leader, he had been respected by the clan for his adherence to clan traditions and the writing of The Seven, the original seven Elder Chieftains of the seven clans. That respect however, ended with Pela’s clan. The relations with the other six clans were strained at best across the board, and many of the Elders were claiming that since the iron hand of Rock’Crush had been removed, invasion and intrusion were inevitable.

Bad’Rock had taught Pela during their travels about the way of the Nethermen. The borderlines between the clans ebbed and flowed based on those who were in power, clans rose and fell in power based on who lead them, but mostly that relations between the clans had never been of a single nation since the last of the Seven Elders passed to the next life. Bad’Rock would often talk about his dream of the Netherman being reunited under one banner as the Netherman Nation, of the seven clans unifying once again for the common good of them all and not allowing themselves to be ruled or swayed by the influence of outsiders but to be a people who could forge their own path and destiny. When Pela would say, ‘maybe it will be you Papa,’ he would always shake his head sadly and respond, ‘I am not strong enough my daughter.’

The day wore on as the Elders presented their parchments of claim, their reports of relations and ultimately their state of being. For the most part she was met with indifference regarding her leadership of them. It wasn’t entirely clear to Branch or Olwa if this seeming indifference was the natural non-expression of emotion as the Netherman were known for (with the exception of brutal anger and rage), or if they were truly just waiting for Pela to step down and or be replaced with a new Chieftain who was more… Netherese.

The hours passed and finally night fell over the village, Gore’Rock stepped forward, tapping staff on the hard wooden floors to silence the room and he turned to Pela as the Elders showed at least the respect a Chieftain deserved. He spoke in Netherese as they were want to do, speaking in Common for the sake of the Elves present was never going to happen, in the mind of the Netherman that begrudgingly stayed silent regarding the matter of their being here if they truly wanted to be part of the village the burden of learning the language to communicate was on them, not on the Netherman to speak in a language they would understand, “My Netherman,my clan, my Chieftain. We have labored the whole of the day to nights beginning to inform our Chieftain of the state of the clan.” He turned and looked at Pela, “Now my Chieftain, it is on you to give us your wisdom and council, to tell us of your plan, to tell us of your strategy in dealing with the problems presented to you, to lead.”

Pela would see it in Gore’Rock’s eyes, he was lacing his official words with a very important thread of advice to her, ‘…to lead’. The respect she would need to be Chieftain would not come simply from killing Rock’Crunch, or even for showing the respect to his ancestry by having his heart burned, it would need to be earned through the making of decisions which could be relied upon and trusted. She was the first human in history to lead a Netherman Clan, with that would come either a marked difference in leadership or a failure and revolt by the clan itself. A very fine razors edge was being walked and she would know it. The Elders watched her, their wrinkled faces looking like sun dried, cracked mud with sunken black holes where the eyes, still sharp as hawks, read every detail of her face.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:47 pm


As Nid’hug felt the spell grip him and he felt the soil beneath him change from cool dirt to hot stone he smiled and lifted his head to look around. The study was no less grand than he imagined it would be, truly worthy of the mistress who inhabited it. Without a word he moved slowly, his eyes tracing every detail as his tongue occasionally flicked out to smell the air. It was hot and comfortable in the study, he could see from an opening off to the side that a massive pit of molten lava was only a few dozen meters away. The signature heat of such a thing, plus the intense glow gave it away and he couldn’t wait to be near it, to feel the heat on his scales and to drive out the chill from the cold he had been experiencing for so long while tracking Piramay down.

He turned to look at Piramay who was studying him and he spoke softly as he bowed his head, “What would the misstresss have of me?”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:59 am


Pela knew it would be a long day but she didn’t think it would be THIS long. Still, she remained at the head of the council for as long as it took. The only breaks that were taken were when food was delivered for the meals and it gave all of them a chance to stretch their legs, eat and get some fresh air.

When the group came back to the council, it was right back to business. Pela was at least appreciative they didn’t waste time posturing over silly things and cut to the meat of the issues now facing her. And she had quite a bit to face.

The delicacy of handling the other clans was something she had to take care of right away. She knew the Elder Seven were right when they told her it wouldn’t be long before the first invaders crossed the borders thinking the clan would be an easy target.

As she glanced at Gore’Rock she studied his black eyes for a moment before she let her eyes drift to the others gathered at the council. Where others would see no emotion Pela saw intense scrutiny as they watched everything about her. Finally she stood. Even standing she was still dwarfed by all of them as they remained seated.

”Those of the Snow have never bowed down from a challenge to our lands in the past. And we shall not do so now. The lands we claim have been ours for centuries. Should someone try to take our lands from us, they will find themselves on the wrong end of our hospitality.”

She heard the grumbles of her choice of words and she held her small hand up to shush the rumblings. She began to walk slowly around the room as she talked to the group.

”We are Nethermen. Netherwomen. And as such, we should not treat our fellow Nethermen on the other side of our borders as anything less than we are. I am not saying we will not fight them. I am saying, sometimes it is far easier to gain respect with kindness than it is to use brute strength to force our will upon others.”

”Do not mistake kindness for weakness, Elders. Kindness is simply a way for us to show we are more than brutal. But….should others try and use our kindness against us….they will be in for a very hard lesson. I will not tolerate such actions against my people. And those who do will be eliminated. But as of right now, should others cross into our lands, we will welcome them into our village, offer them food and a place to sleep then we will escort them back to their lands with the message to bring to their people. Those of the Snow are a merciful clan when respect is given. But they will return with the hearts of their brethren as well when they raise a hand to harm us. Place patrols at our borders to prevent the other clans from invading but do not kill them if they surrender. And be sure to tell the patrols we will welcome them if they wish to share a meal with us. If they chose otherwise, then they will suffer the consequences of their disrespect.”

She stood back at the head of the group and let her gaze settle on each Elder as she spoke this time.

”Take this message I have given you back to your clans. And let your members know Those of the Snow may have a human female as Chieftain but she has a Nethermen heart.”

She glanced at Gore’Rock then and nodded. This first meeting with The Seven Elders was now done.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:17 pm


Gore’Rock dismissed the Seven and approached Pela, he bowed his head and then looked up into her face. He could see she was exhausted and without a hint of emotion he spoke in Netherese, “Not an easy job… my brother hated these meetings, I can see that same look in your eyes as I used to see in his.”

He turned and watched out the window as the Elders went to their accommodations within the village, they would leave in the morning and move to their respective places of governance within the clans borders and deliver the message of their new Chieftain. Finally after a long while he turned to Pela and spoke, “In the tradition of the Netherman you can no longer be called Pela. It is against the tradition to not be renamed after ascending to the Seat of the Chieftain, you are not above the tradition.”

His statement sounded pointed and direct, however he was not meaning it that way, he was simply communicating the law of the Netherman. He could see the look on Pela’s face as the words hit her ears. The writing of The Seven said that any Netherman who ascended to the Seat of the Chieftain had to be renamed so as they could begin the new destiny of their clan.

He reached into the leather satchel that always hung from his shoulder and without a segway into the new subject handed Pela a few sheets of parchments, “These are the reports from the seven patrols we sent out yesterday, their runners returned with this news.”


Branch approached, even though she could not understand the writing she could tell by the look on Pela’s face that something was not good. The reports were indicative of intrusions along all borders, several skirmishes as the patrols beat the invaders back, and news that Those of the Swamp were gathering what appeared to be an Invasion force, most likely in a land grab to push their holdings up into the more mountainous regions along their border with Those of the Snow.

Bad’Rock didn’t much like that Branch had approached but was beginning more and more to respect the Elderwild as her abilities around the village had already proven invaluable to the clan, the other one however, he was not too find of. As he watched Branch he then turned to Pela and spoke, “If I might give Council my Chieftain, use the abilities of the Elderwild, she is capable of assisting the clan.”

Pela looked up at this vague sentence with curiosity, Gore’Rocks intentions not completely clear.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:32 am


Pela sighed heavily and nodded to Gore’Rock.

I understand now why he was so exhausted after these meetings. As I am beginning to understand a great deal more with each passing moment of what being Cheiftain really means.”

Rubbing her temples, Pela warded off the worst of the exhaustion as she stood. Looking over at Olwa, she smiled tiredly but it was still a genuine smile all the same. She was getting ready to walk over to him when she heard Gore’Rock speak to her again. Glancing over at him she nodded.

”I know, U’mesh (uncle)….It is only right I take on the name that best suits me. I have been giving it some consideration and I wanted to discuss it with you. I think Ice’Rock would be appropriate but I did not want to anger you by taking your sir name.”

As Pela unrolled the reports from the patrols, her brows dipped further and further. She fully expected something like this but to hear the force was so large meant she was going to have to enter into battle sooner than she thought. When Gore’Rock spoke, she glanced up at him and quirked a brow then glanced at Branch who was now looking at her curiously. Pela glanced back at Gore’Rock and gave the slightest of nods.

”Your council is much appreciated, Gore’Rock, and does not fall upon deaf ears. I will ask her. Send out a group of seven to go with her and show her the border we share with them.”

Pela turned to face Branch fully.

”Branch….we need your help. It appears Those of the Swamp are possibly building an invasion force to take our lands. This report tells me they are looking for the weakest point in our defenses by attacking along the entire border we share with them. If they are still like they were before we left, they will send a large group pushing forward in one area as a distraction for the larger force that will use the fighting as a way to break through our defenses. I’d like to know what their movements are and what it seems they are planning so we can plan accordingly. Are you up for that after sitting all day and half the night?”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:26 pm




Branch looked at Pela as she spoke and her eyes drifted to Gore’Rock and lingered a moment on his face before turning back to Pela, “Istar’ostring, Branch will assist you, but only if Branch am permitted to go alone.”

She turned and looked at Gore’Rock, her eyes lingering on his once again before turning back to Pela, “Istar’ostring, Branch does not mean disrespect in the condition, but Branch will move faster and more efficiently by herself.”

Though Branch was speaking in Common it was obvious that she understood some of what they were discussing in Netherese. In truth she was gaining a grip on the language and though she might never be able to speak in the grunting type language she was beginning to pick out phrases and meanings so she could understand what was being said. She could see Pela struggling with the final decision, and she understood why, these were foreign lands to Branch and surly Pela was uncertain that Branch would be able to survive the mission on her own. She touched Pela gently on the shoulder and Pela’s eye lifted to look at her own, “Istar’ostring, forests is forests, though this has conifers and ours has leaves, the trees still speak the same language. Branch can find our borders, there is markings, Branch saw them as Branch entered the territories of Those of the Snow… Branch knows these markings.”

She turned and looked at Gore’Rock who seemed to have the slightest of smiles on his brutish face and Branch gave him a soft smile, “Branch learns quickly Mr. Gore’Rocks… Branches life has been about adapting to shes circumstances.”

Branch patted Pela softly on the shoulder and turned to get her things ready for her trip, right before she left the room she turned and looked at Pela, “Istar’ostring, Branch will be back in three sunsets,” She disappeared from the room and Olwa turned his eyes from where she left to Pela as he walked over to them.

Gore’Rock watched as she left and then turned his head to look at Pela, he spoke with confidence in his voice, “Only have I heard of these Elderwild, but after meeting one they are worthy of the rumors. She is as strong as a Netherwoman, though not nearly as attractive.”

He turned his head to Pela, practically ignoring Olwa and spoke again in Netherese, “My Chieftain, your name does not offend me, you are a Rock, if not by blood by strength, resolve and parentage. I would be honored to have you share the surname of your family.” It was the first time that Gore’Rock had ever referred to his family being hers, as she looked up at him she would see it in those eyes that were so familiar to Bad’Rocks, he was sincere in his words to her.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:06 pm


Pela reached her cold hand out and gently touched Gore’Rock’s forearm in a gesture of affection as she looked up into his dark eyes and smiled softly.

”Then it is my honor and privilege to share the sir name with you.”

She slowly removed her hand and sighed heavily again.

”Branch is unlike any female from any race I have ever met. Her resilience and ability to adapt is amazing. I only hope I am able to be something like her one day.”

She looked over at Olwa then and took his hand, curling her cool fingers around his then looked at Gore'Rock.

"It's been an exhausting day. Go. Get some rest. If I need you, I will send for you."

She knew Gore'Rock would stay with her if she didn't dismiss him and the last thing she wanted to do was keep him from tending to his own home and getting the much needed rest she mentioned. She saw the way he regarded Olwa and knew there was no love loss there. Perhaps in time he would learn to respect Olwa as he did Branch. Until then, she knew he would pay little attention to the Elf Lord.

As Gore'Rock bowed his head respectfully, he slipped out and left Pela and Olwa alone for the first time since she had taken the Chieftain position. As the silence of the room engulfed them, Pela finally looked over at Olwa and practically forced herself into his arms. Her hug was so tight she was certain she was making it difficult for him to breathe. Finally she relaxed her hold and leaned back to look into his eyes. There was doubt and uncertainty in her gaze and her voice was whisper soft, like a child who was afraid their parent would hear her.

"I'm not sure I can do this, Olwa. I knew my father sometimes struggled with being Chieftain but I never knew how difficult t really was. And I've only had one day of it so far.I will need Gore'Rock more than he knows. And with the threat of war already...."

She sighed heavily and walked into what was considered her private rooms, still holding his hand. Once they were inside, she closed the doors and then leaned her back against it, closing her eyes for a moment. When she opened them again, she saw his clear gaze settled onto hers.

"I suppose first thing is to let you know everything that happened today...."

Walking over to the large, pillow like setting, she flopped down and patted a large cushion beside her for him to do the same. Glub'Lug had been considerate enough to bring in a tray of some food and even a bottle of wine with a carafe of water. As Pela nibbled on the food, she relayed everything that took place today, including the fact her name was going to change and ending with what Branch was doing. When she spoke to him this time, there was a hint of sarcasm to her voice.

"So there you have it....my first official day as Chieftain of Those of the Snow. Lovely life I have set up for you now, is it not?"

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:45 pm


Olwa followed Pela and listened once they were in her chambers. He didn’t say much, he simply took in all she was saying knowing that she needed to say it as much as he needed to hear it. As she finished and gave him her sarcastic comment he smiled and leaned over, touching her gently on the cheek, “There is no life I would rather live than a life with you. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing, as long as we are together. I am used to being an outsider in my own home, at least for the first time I am an outsider in a place where I am actually an outsider.”

He winked and loved the way she giggled at his comment. He leaned in and kissed her quickly before standing up and walking across the room. He could feel her eyes on his back, filled with curiosity as to why exactly he was moving away from her, but he did not turn back around until he had reached the table and picked up the leather binder he had been carrying all day. It was roughly 20inches by 14 inches in size, folded tightly at one end and bound with a leather strap on the other. He brought it over to her and set it down at her feet and before opening it he looked up at her, “I felt that it would be appropriate to commemorate your new position with something. All kings, chieftains, governors and leaders alike commission portraits of themselves when they are in power. It is a grasp at immortality, a way to be remembered as the ruler. Some call it narcissism, I call it awareness of ones own mortality. Regardless of all that, I decided to commission myself to capture your rule over Those of the Snow.”

He opened the leather binder and spun it around so she could see. In vivid detail he had captured her, speaking to the Seven of the Snow, her face gentle, but also strong. The Seven of the Snow sat on their seats and looked on at her in admiration and fear, but also with respect. The scene was nothing short of amazing and the best work Pela had seen of his yet. He looked at her and smiled as he handed it to her, “For you… my Chieftan.”





Branch gathered her things and was heading out of the quarters she had been given just down the road from Pela’s. They were of average size for the village and though everything was oversized she was happy to be in them and not the pig stalls. As she was coming out, wrapped in furs to keep warm as the wind swept off the four peaks that made up the valley Gore’Rock looked up from where he had been waiting for her. She didn’t flinch, nor did she reach for her weapons, she could see in his face that he meant her no harm. He looked at her a moment, scanning her from head to toe as she had noticed most Netherman seemed to do before speaking. He spoke in broken common so she could understand, “You little Branch, you have a strength to you that I have never seen in an Elf.”

Branch looked at him and matched his stone cold face with an emotionless one of her own, understanding this was their manner, “Branch is Elderwild Mr. Gore’Rock, Branch is not like any other Elf you have ever seen.”

Gore’Rock huffed and seemed to move his shoulders in a manner that would have been associated with a laugh of agreement, if Netherman ever laughed. He nodded his head and spoke again, “Those of the Snow are a strong clan, but we are not a match for Those of the Swamp. Since my brother left Those of the Swamp have prepared to invade, it has been a day to day building of momentum. They feared Rock’Crunch and it kept them at bay, but now with Ice’Rock as Chieftain, they will certainly be probing for war. Her strength in magic is known amongst Those of the Snow, but outside these borders, she is merely a rumor, the pet of a former Chieftain. They will not hesitate to attack now, they have nothing to fear.”

Branch looked up at him and her voice darkened, “Those of the Swamp have no fear because theys has no knowledge.”

Gore’Rock nodded his head softly and responded, “You are correct Elderwild, and that is my fear. Ice’Rock froze six Netherman to death when she was only five sun cycles old, one can only imagine what magic she possesses now,” he turned and looked back at her home as if it would be revealed to him in the blowing wind.

Branch spoke softly but firmly, “Istar’ostring is most powerful sorceress Branch has ever seen, you should consider yourself fortunate Istar’ostring did not accepts yous challenge.”

He turned back and the very faint smile appeared as his lip curled up a half an inch as he nodded, “I know.”

Branch smiled as he spoke those words, it comforted her to know that he was capable of learning from the things that occurred around him. He looked her deeply in the eyes and spoke, “Be careful when you travel, if any of the other six clans see you they will kill you on sight, you may have the favor of Those of the Snow but to the other six you are nothing more than an invader on Netherman lands.”

Branch looked at him softly and nodded her head as she reached forward and touched his rippling forearm, “Branch will return in three sun settings Mr. Gore’Rock.”

She lifted her head to the winds and pulled her cloak over her head as she withdrew her hand from his forearm, turned and disappeared into the dark. Gore’Rock reached down and rubbed his finger gently where he could still feel her touch on his skin. He looked back up into the darkness and whispered, “Good luck to you Elderwild.”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:22 am


Pela looked at the scene Olwa had drawn and her mouth gaped open slightly. Never had she seen such detail in all her life. She knew he had an eye for such things and while she had seen him capture such details in things before, never had she seen it so clearly done for facial expressions and the feel of the room in general. It was as if he had captured a moment in history in such clear, precise strokes, it left her speechless. Her eyes scanned every inch of the scene and with each area she looked, she found something astounding. Her fingers lovingly traced the drawings details as though she could actually reach out and touch those in it. Finally her eyes lifted to his and she let her eyes settle on his gaze for a long moment.

”I….I do not know what to say, Olwa….except I have never seen anything so beautiful in all of my life.”

Her eyes once more scanned the scene and she slowly shook her head.

”I knew your talent was strong, but I had no idea just HOW strong until now.”

She looked back up at him.

”You honor me with such a thing, kallo’amin (my hero)”

Pela gently set the drawing aside then reached over with both of her hands and cupped Olwa’s face before she leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips. Her hands were cool as were her lips and the heat she felt from Olwa’s own lips seemed like such a contrast yet one she loved and now looked forward to.
Slowly leaning back, she looked into his eyes and smiled softly. Her fingers slipped up to his hair and she lovingly pushed an errant strand from his brow.

”The hour grows, late, a’maelamin. We need to get some rest. And truth be told, I am exhausted. Tomorrow will prove to be just as trying as this day was, if not more so, I am sure.”

She stood, with his help, and stretched her tired muscles. Taking his hand in hers, she began to walk towards the other rooms towards the back of the residence.

”I had a room set up for you here. I hope you do not mind. But it does not mean you must stay there….If you do not wish.”

Exactly what she meant by that she didn’t explain but she had a good idea he understood completely.

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:36 am


Olwa looked at Pela and he smiled softly as he heard her words, but then the words from Branch and Myth’alas echoed though his mind. She could see his eyes scan her beautiful face and he smiled softly as he leaned forward and kissed her on the lips again, tasting the sweetness that he wished to drink his fill of, but then he withdrew and spoke softly, “Pela, I mean, Ice’Rock…,” he blushed softly, “I desire to spend a night with you more than I could express in words or picture, however I would not want to dishonor you by doing something out of the context of what we both know is right.”

He could see her eyes drop slightly in disappointment but also in understand, and most likely remembrance of what Branch had told both of them just a couple weeks prior when they were still on the road to this place. He touched his finger gently under her chin and lifted her face back up to his and he spoke, “So with that in mind I only see one real solution…,” He slowly got down on one knee and looked up at her. Reaching into his chest pocket he withdrew a small circle of silver, braided intricately with a small gemstone wrapped through the middle. He smiled and spoke softly, “Ice’Rock, a’maelamin, Pela… will you marry me?”


Branch traveled into the night for six hours moving swiftly and with deliberate steps through the cold of the night. The air in these mountains was colder than anything she had ever experienced this time of year. Even in the third month of summer this place had a chill to it that foretold the bitter bite of winter which would be on them in only 4 more of Solinari’s cycles. She gazed up at the white moon and studied it a moment before turning her eyes back to the hillside that lead to the swamps below. She knew that it was two days journey or better to the swamps, but yet she felt like they were right in front of her.

Her eyes settled and she watched the darkness of the under canopy and then suddenly she saw it… seven pink silhouettes in the distance moving as stealthy as mountain cats, and with such ease despite the thick forest. She could make out by their size that they were Netherman but they were still too far to determine what clan they were with. She stayed perched in the tree and her breathing slowed, her hunting instincts took over and she became as subtle as any leaf in the forest would be so as to not be noticed. The group came closer as they moved and stalked, their motions were in no way different than she had seen from the Elves. The more she was around these Netherman the more she was coming to respect their ability to become part of their environment, it was so contrary to their make-up and their heritage, and yet here they were, approaching without snapping a single twig under their massive feet.

Finally she could see them when they hit roughly the hundred and fifty meter range. The crests on their shoulders were certainly Those of the Swamps, a snake twisted around a tree trunk just as Gore’Rock had described to her. The leader was slightly smaller than the rest but his arms were noticeably larger and he was sporting a scar on his right check that was shaped like a lightning bolt and went down across his neck, ending just under the jaw bone. Except for their faces all seven were covered in the roughly stitched together skins of crocodiles and elephants. Though the coverings might have looked crude to others Branch admired the beauty to which they had been fashioned, and she could tell they were worn in multiple layers to give extra protection. The leader would give subtle hand signals that caused his patrol to respond silently, and respond they did in such a precise manner it almost seemed as if they had formal military training. Clearly Those of the Swamp thrived on war, she could see that they were better coordinated than Those of the Snow, and the expression on their faces showed they wanted nothing more than to fight.
The leader suddenly stopped the party and his eyes scanned the forest as his men crouched low and waited. Branch turned her head slowly and looked up the hillside, she saw seven more silhouettes just beginning to crest the hill about 400 meters above them. She was certain that these were Those of the Snow, coming around in their large sweeping patrols that Istar’ostring had sent out the day before to keep a presence on their lands. She turned then and watched as the leader of Those of the Swamp gestured and his men spread out in a formation perfect for setting an ambush, she had seen this before when fighting goblins many, many years ago. Those of the Snow were walking right into a funnel and would be instantly surrounded. The leader of Those of the Swamp was set so he would be directly behind them when the trap was sprung, half of them would be cut down before any of them could respond and they were walking right into the snare.

She felt a pull in her heart, these were her people now as much as they were Istar’Ostrings, for wherever Istar’Ostring went Branch swore to follow, whatever cause she took up so would Branch… she could not allow her clan to be taken so easily. Those of the Snow were two hundred meters now from the ambush point, still completely unaware, even though they were moving in a tactical pattern she watched as Those of the Swamp adjusted their positions ever so slightly.

One hundred meters and still the group was unaware, seventy-five… fifty… they were not seeing or detecting. Branch closed her eyes and felt the flow of magic all around her, she rubbed her hand gently on the trunk of the limb she was crouched down upon and listened to the wind that pressed against her. Opening her eyes she stared at a point just in front of the leader of Those of the Snow and the sound of a twig snapping broke the silence. All the members of the party froze in their tracks and were instantly on high alert, stopped only thirty meters from Those of the Swamp. They stood still as statues and scanned the forest, the face of the leader of Those of the Swamp twisted in rage, the element of surprise was lost and Branch watched as his hand twitched ever so slightly and his group suddenly broke from under their cover and charged.

Those of the Snow heard the war party erupt from the foliage and responded by rushing forward as well. The air was filled with the ferocious roars of the Netherman and the crashing sound of metal on metal as their weapons smashed into one another. A howl of pain as an edged weapon bit through the tough leather and into skin was followed by the foul smell of black blood as one of Those of the Snow crumpled over under the blow of the leader from Those of the Swamp. Branch slid an arrow out of her quiver and drew back, tracking as best she could but the density of this forest wasn’t allowing for a clean shot… she was not ready to give up her position yet, but a second, then a third from Those of the Snow fell under the blow of a weapon. Her clan was now suddenly outnumbered seven to four. She leapt down to the forest floor and drew back as the shooting lane appeared before her. She let out a whistling type chirp, sounding like a chipmunks call. One of the Netherman from the swamps turned as he heard the noise just in time to catch an arrow in the pupil that penetrated easily and exited the base of his skull. He slumped over and hit the ground dead. Two of the others from the swamp turned and saw nothing to indicate who or what shot the arrow. Fearing that they themselves might be surrounded the other six now were distracted and two more were cut down instantly as their attention was pulled from the battle.

The five on four advantage was lost instantly as two of the Those of the Snow lunged in and were both decapitated in one brutal stroke by the leader of the war party from the swamps. The three remaining went shoulder to shoulder and fought hard, reducing the war party to three as one tried to flank prematurely and was hacked down by an axe to the skull. Two of the swamp raiders came in simultaneously as the leader took a half step back and then to the side, clearly an attempt to distract with a move of force while the third tried to move to the side and hit the weaker end of the line. Blades clashed as the two were met with defensive strikes and the third of Those of the Snow was cut down by the leader. The Netherman of the swamp on the side closest to Branch suddenly slumped over and as he hit the ground the fletching’s of an arrow pointed to a shaft that was buried in the first vertebrae under the skull. The other, distracted by the fall of his comrade was cut down and now it was two on one, the Leader of Those of the Swamp seemingly unafraid of being outnumbered.

The two from the Snow went in together and the leader of Those of the Swamp parried and twisted his blade to spin the sharp edge of his adversary on the lefts blade right back at him. He reached forward and grabbed his opponent by the chest armor and pulled him right into his own blade, etching an oozing black gash across his face. He then pushed him back with his foot and spun as he slung the two blades off his own and caught the second Netherman of the Snow just under the rib cage and shoved his blade up and out his back just below the shoulder blade. His adversary slumped forward and then backward as the leader shoved him off his blade.

The last Netherman of the Snow, blinded his own blood running across his face began to back up slowly as he reached for any weapon he could find. The Leader turned to look at him and Branch could see the smile of satisfaction on his face as he stepped forward and lifted his sword to deliver the death blow. Her arrow entered his wrist and exited the other side before entering his leather armor and sinking past the barb, pinning his arm in an upright and bent position to his own armor. He roared in rage and dropped his blade as he spun and faced a tiny elf standing thirty meters away and sighting down an arrow pointed right at his head. Her eyes were fixed on his and he glared at her. She spoke in common as she did not yet know enough Netherese to communicate with him in that manner, “Goes back to yous swamp and leaves the land of the snow!”

He looked at her, narrowing his eyebrows, “So it’s true… Bad’Rock’s pet brought an Elf with her.”

The gentle creak of the bow limbs broke the silence between them and she saw his face change as the string tightened to full draw length as was done just before firing, “Do nots speak of Snows Chieftain so disrespectfully troll!”

His eyes filled with anger. One thing Branch had picked up was that referring to a Netherman as a “troll” was a fairly significant insult, and it was not lost on this warrior as he glared at her, “Now goes before Branch decides it is better for yous to die!”

He looked at her and then turned, his arm still pinned to his armor as he moved swiftly down the hill in the direction of the swamps. Branch took the tension off the bow and unclasped the arrow, returning it to her quiver. She walked over to the Netherman who lay on the ground, still breathing heavy and bleeding. She recognized him from the village as Mud’Bone and spoke softly in common, “Yous will be ok, may I?”

He nodded softly and she pulled a piece of cloth from her pack and dabbed the wound, applying some herbs that she pressed into the gash to congeal the blood. He sat up and looked at his fallen comrades, “You should have killed him.”

Branch looked in the direction of the leaders path of exit and turned back to him, “No, hims now carry a message that we are a fighting clan, that we wonts bow to their intrusions.” The Netherman looked at her and she could see he understood. He began to stand and she touched him on the shoulder, “No, you stays… I will retrieve your clansmans hearts for the Chieftain.”

She could see the look of thanks on his face and she smiled softly, “Branch nots one of you, but Branch understands yous ways.”

Fifteen minutes later Branch handed Mud’Bone a leather bag that contained the six hearts of his fallen clansmen and she spoke, “Takes these to Chieftain Ice’Rock, she wills see their souls to the other side.”

She patted him gently on the shoulder and spoke again, “Tell ours Chieftain that Branch is going all the ways to the border and will be back in three moonsets.”

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PostSubject: Re: Book 2 - Ch 6: Brinkmanship    Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:11 pm


Pela felt her cheek blush at Olwa’s words. She was about to explain to him that her intentions were honorable, but when he knelt before her and presented her with a ring of such beauty, she was once more left speechless a second time. It felt as though her heart dropped to her knees then bounced back to her chest where it began beating wildly.

Her blue eyes widened and she gasped softly. Her hands clutched each other as they instantly came to rest at her chest. She dared a glance into Olwa’s eyes before she looked back at the ring once more. She knew what this ring meant. Understood exactly what his question was. Was well aware of everything it represented between them. And now, as it rested in his fingers, between them, Pela reached out her trembling hand to let her finger gently touch the delicate silver and feel the cool gem.

Finally she licked her parched lips, swallowed hard and nodded slightly at first but that nodding quickly grew. Smiling through tears, she felt her legs give way and she dropped to her knees before Olwa.

”Yes….YES! I will marry you, Olwa Pilininge.”

Reaching out, she grabbed him in a hug that once again was so strong she would have cut his breathing off if she didn’t release him soon. When she pulled back, he gently took her hand in his and slowly eased the ring onto the third finger of her left hand. Pela felt the coolness of the ring and saw how it seemed made to fit her delicate, slim finger.

Lifting her eyes from admiring the ring to look back into Olwa’s eyes again, she leaned in and kissed him fully on the lips, wrapping her arms around his neck. Never in her life had she been more happy than she was right now.

But her happiness was short lived. Gore’Rock knocked gently on her door then softly announced himself to her. Pela blinked and pulled back looking at Olwa with a look of sheer dread.

”He would not disturb me unless it was of utter importance.”

With Olwa’s help, Pela got to her feet and rushed to the door. When she opened it she could already see the look on his face was nothing short of grim. Her eyes focused in on movement behind him and she saw many clansmen and women already starting to gather. It was late, so this could only mean one thing. With a sinking heart, Pela pulled her eyes to Gore’Rock’s and nodded slightly.

”How many and where?”

Gore’Rock studied his Chieftain to see what her reaction was going to be. He was not disappointed when he saw the remorse appear in her light blue eyes. Still, he kept to his duties.

”My Chieftain, six from the south land borders have returned for the Honor Crossing.”

Pela rushed past Gore’Rock as soon as the word six left her uncle’s lips and she wasted no time in coming to the center of the village where the eternal fire always burned. It was eerily quiet as she focused in on the lone survivor that had arrived carrying a leather sack that Pela knew what it contained. She took the last few steps towards Mud’Bone slowly and reached for the sack. As Mud’Bone handed it to her, she glanced up at him and saw the wound and that it had been tended to.

To say she felt sad was an understatement. She felt responsible. It was by her order the patrols had been increased and now, six out of seven of one of her patrols, of her people, were now dead. Reaching her hand up, she touched Mud’Bone’s wounded cheek. Swallowing hard, she spoke softly to her clansman.

”You fought bravely, Mud’Bone. Your courage will not be forgotten. Ever.”

Turning, she walked to the fire that was constantly burning and one by one, she pulled the hearts out of the bag and lifted them high into the air before she placed them in the fire. Tears streamed from her eyes as she did this, allowing herself a moment of emotion. She stood there for a moment after the last one was placed in the fire to gather her composure once more. Finally Pela turned back around to face her clan. They wanted revenge and Pela couldn’t blame them. But now was not the time to let them go off with such haste. Now was the time for planning. She would have to convince them of this. And it wasn’t going to be easy. She glanced at Gore’Rock then and spoke to him.

”Have the healer come to my home then send a runner to the patrols to be on high alert. I wish not to repeat this ceremony any more this night. Have any survivors from the raiding parties captured and brought to me. When this is done, return to me quickly.”

Gore’Rock bowed his head respectfully and turned to relay the message of his Chieftain. As she watched him walk away, she glanced at Olwa then looked at Mud’Bone and walked towards him.

”Come with me.”

As any dutiful subject, Mud’Bone followed his Chieftain to her home and inside. Once inside, Pela gestured for him to sit. When he hesitated, she lifted an eyebrow at him.

”I believe you are to do as your Chieftain says or it is considered disrespectful.”

Mud’Bone finally sat down. Almost the same time, the clan’s healer stopped in to examine him and place a fresh, if not crude, bandage on his wound. As his wound was dressed, Pela took the time to wash her hands of the black blood from when she had the hearts burned in the fire. When the healer turned to bow to Pela, she informed her Chieftain the wound was relatively clean and just needed some bandages to help it heal.

”Thank you, Cure’Stone. If you are needed again, I shall call for you.”

Pela waited another few moments before she poured a tankard of water and handed it to the wounded Mud’Bone.

”What happened. And please, leave nothing out.”

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