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 BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn

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Lac'Nal

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PostSubject: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Fri May 22, 2009 9:11 am

Mrs. Forbes looked at Elija and smiled her ganradmotherly smile then siad "Yur Mum is out speakin' ta the Marshall right now lad. You sit yurself down her and have some porage and biscuits, fresh out the oven. I be pourin' ya a nice cold glass of milk. I be bakin some cookies latter this mornin' and fixin hushpuppies an crabcakes fur lunch. Now come on child don't be shy sit yurself down."
Elija sat at the big wooden table in Mrs. Forbes kitchen and watched as the she laddled up some porage andset a pplate of hot biscuits down in fron of him. She then slid a tub of fresh butter, a jar of honey and strawberry jam over. Smiling she said "I am Mrs Forbes and you might be called?"

Elija looked at her as he spead a healthy quanity of butter, strawberry jam and honey on a biscuit "I be Elija Woo..... er Smith ma'am. Thank ya fur takin' me mum and me mates in ma'am. Weeze pays ya soon as weeze gets us some 'ploment, ma'am." Elija then continued to eat quietly and slowly as he seemed to stare into space deep in thought.

++++++++++++++

Meanwhile one of the men on the wall squinted out across the beach at three small shapes approaching "Well I'll be buggerd. Hey Issac! What ya make of that?" he said and pointed across the sand.

Issac came up slowly, muttered "Ya damed fool ya probly be seein' sea gulls. Ain't nobody with their head right be taking a stroll on the beach." Issac said as he looked out across the beach and his mouth dropped open. "Well sells me for a lobster trap, them be youngins'. Now where in blue blazes ya thinks thays comes from? That's what I wonder. Better call the Marshall we had."

Sure enough walking up the beach came Galley , carrying a burlap sack over his shoulder and a strange shaped metal spear head object in his hand

Followed closely by Ferret and Weasle . Each dragging a burlap sack. All three children and thier sacks were streaked in coal dust.


Last edited by Lac'Nal on Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Mon May 25, 2009 12:30 pm

The morning light beamed into the breached wall and filtered through the thick layer of smoke that hung above the town. Many of the buildings and barricades yet smoldered from the night before and mixed in with the blackened debris were the many bodies of Fort Glory's soldiers and citizens. Some of the bodies remained where they had fallen and others had been thrust upon pikes and placed upon the walls to strike fear into the hears of their enemies. The remains of the more robust victims hung from spits, cooked in the wee hours of the night, to satisfy the hunger of the Ta'kun troops that savored the sweet flavor of human flesh.

In a few short days Fort Glory had been transformed from a town of renewed dreams to a scene that would sicken even the most sadistic of souls. The refugees and survivors of the massacre would ponder for a long time to come why the Ta'kun had come. Were they such malevolent and murderous creatures that they could not possibly bear the existence of Human-kind? Did they loathe their kind so? In Hushon, news of the siege of Fort Glory spread fast. People prayed for the survival of the Antorian King and once more began to question his reasoning for dwelling in Fort Glory so far from the protection of his home land.

King Dorian was brought before his own throne and forced to kneel before the new master of Fort Glory by his two Greater Ta'kun escorts. Lounging in the seat of power, Lord Yassun raised a goblet in a toast to his triumph and took a sip of it's contents. He swished the wine about his mouth, savouring it's flavour. "Ah, the taste of victory.", he commented and his face twisted into a gloating smirk.

"The Antorian and Ithcarcan armies will crush your feeble forces and with nearly half of your Ta'kun army wiped out, you've no chance to complete your invasion." King Dorian defied.



Yassun laughed. "Fool. I care nothing of conquering what remains of your kind but I am very interested in what you've been excavating below your castle my good King."

Dorian was quiet. "How could the mermadon have learned of his discovery?" He wondered.

Yassun seemed to delight in King Dorian's surprise as it only seemed to affirm his superiority. Then he waved his hand to the wall at his right and a tall figure in a grey cloak blended out of the stone bricks as if appearing from no where. "As you can see King Dorian, we have been watching you for some time now. Mallethden is a master of invisibility and has long been keeping me apprised of your progress."



Dorian was both distraught and enraged. "Your Dragon masters promised me that if I returned whatever I discovered they would return my daughter to me. Tell them that I have been doing everything in my power to honour that agreement. Why did they order you to attack us?"

Yassun bared his fine pointed teeth angrily. "I am no messenger, ape! I seek the relics for myself and once I have acquired them all, even the mighty Dragons will kneel before their own creation!", he growled. "I am here of my own accord! I need not permission to take what I want!"

The furious lord then waved to Ta'kun warriors to remove the King from his sight. He spoke to them in a strange language, different from the guttural growls and screeches of the dragon-like humanoids. As he turned to them, the throne room was permeated by haunting tones that resembled the whales songs experienced by sailors. Llittle did the humans yet realize that the beautiful sounds were an effect of their own telepathic language that allowed them to communicated with both the Ta'kun and Dragons.

"Take him away!" Sang the Lord and as the warriors easily hauled the writhing man to the dungeon, the Ta'kun Patron entered the chamber, his guards ushering ten men and women bound in chains. Still communicating in Mermadonian, he thanked, Blood-Spear for carrying out his orders. Then he walked before the Humans, scrutinizing them as a one would inspect cattle or horses.

"Well done indeed." Yassun praised the Ta'kun speaking the language of the Humans which the Patron seemed to understand very well, by the way he took a knee and bowed humbly before him and the other guards immediately followed suit.

"You." Said Yassun, to one of the prisoners. "What is your name?"

The man was still watching King Dorian being dragged off when the Mermadon addressed him. "Andreas de Pontu, sir." He replied, knowing all too well that open defiance would not benefit any of them at this point.

"Andreas." Repeated the Lord, letting it roll off his tongue to test it's grandeur. "A bold name. I can sense in you and intelligence that surpasses the others, that is why you shall oversee them. You and these others, will be spared from the gullets of my army for I require servants to perform tasks that Ta'kun are simply not suited for. Serve me well and your pathetic lives will be tolerable, disobey me and life shall end. Is this understood?"

Andreas nodded. His eyes fixed forward on the wall beyond the Mermadon.

Yassun mimicked the nod and signaled the Patron to remove them. "Keep their legs bound, Blood-Spear but free their hands so that they may work. Place them in the servants quarters."

Now that he had dealt with his own personal affairs, Yassun turned his attention to other Mermadon, Mallethden. He returned to his throne and wine and spoke to his comrade in the language of their kind which allowed him to drink as he communicated. "How much have the Humans uncovered?"

Mallethdon removed his hood and glided forward to stand before the throne when he was addressed. He bowed his head formally, then replied "We have yet much work to do my Lord." he informed Yassun, "They have only broken into into a single fore-chamber of the ancient tomb and there is much exploration required."

Yassun nodded, failing to hide his disappointment. "Very well, Mallethden."

The new master of Fort Glory watched him exit the hall and sat ill-content upon his throne. He had hoped that more of the ancient Dragon tomb had been explored prior to his conquest, but he had anticipated as much.

"What of the Dragons, my Lord?" Asked Mallethden.

Yassun was annoyed by the question, but knew that the Mermadon was in his right to fear their wrath. He reached to his belt and unsheathed a black dagger and held it up before his reddish coloured eyes, studying it's smooth edge. He tossed it to Mallethden who demonstrated his dexterity by plucking the spinning knife from the air, his webbed hand folding around the handle.

"The Ebon Steel of the Dragon-kin, given to us by the Dragons." Yassun recited, knowing all too well that all of their kind knew the story. "Stronger than the metal of the Humans, and yet unable to pierce the hide of the youngest Dragon. Does that not strike you as odd, my friend?"

Mallethdon was curious. He had never considered it before and looked to his Lord for the answer.

Yassun then procured another, blade from his belt and stared at his reflection in the gleaming steel. "The Ebon Steel is magicked by the Dragons so that it can never be used against them, but the metal of the Humans can penetrate their scales." He revealed to his fellow Mermadon. "Fortunately, these people know nothing of infusing their metal with the enchantments necessary to make them truly lethal to our Over Lords, except now."

Yassun tossed the shining blade to Mallethden who inspected it carefully. "What do you see in it?" Requested the Lord.

Mallethden held the blade before him and moved his hand across the blade. He closed his eyes and let his mind seek out it's maker. It was difficult, as the properties of the metal began to counter his magic but then he could see her. A woman! "She has long black hair and eyes dark like a storming sea." The Mermadon seer described, "She traveled west away from the fray." He opened his eyes then, thrust from his trance. "I am sorry my Lord. The woman who made this blade possesses the ability to enchant iron. She can create that which can destroy the Dragons!"

Yassun maliciously grinned. "Yes, Mallethden. I want you to find her and bring her to me, unharmed. I shall oversee the exploration of the tomb."

Mallethden returned the blades to his Lord and left to do his bidding. Yassun picked up the silver blade and twirled it in his hand as he watched the tall Mermadon exit the hall, his plans were coming to fruition. With weaponry that he could use against the Dragons, it would ensure that he would have the time to search the lands for the other relics. What he may discover in the tomb alone would hardly offer him enough power to keep the Dragons at bay for long, there was much more to discover, he only hoped that their arrogance would continue to blind them. He needed much more time, and though the great beasts slumbered for extended periods, eventually they would awake and question his actions.

Once he possessed the knowledge of the relics he would use it to bring his creators to his feet. He would force them to recognize their importance and regret ever making them in the image of the Hairless Apes giving their own semblance to the lowly Ta'kun! His only foreseeable problem was finding those willing to battle the Dragons. He could not depend on the Ta'kun, he would have to rely on those who had for so long sought there vengeance on their destroyers. The Humans, armed with the proper weaponry could provide him the time he needed to annihilate them once and for all.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed May 27, 2009 2:25 pm



After Colleen and Marshall Kallend discussed Payden, Colleen was even more confused than ever. Payden had taken off with apparently Andreas De Pontu’s younger sister and some strange man without really giving much of a reason as to why. She didn’t know why but for some reason, it felt as though Payden had somehow betrayed her by leaving with another woman when she knew all along he was quite the womanizer. Swallowing her pride for thinking there was anything other than a professional relationship between her and the mysterious Payden Raynsford, she did the best thing she could do for herself and that was dive into work.

The other children had arrived and with them, the weapon Colleen had been working on to somehow kill the dragons. Once they were settled after a long hot bath and a good meal, Colleen took the weapon and placed it in a shed behind the Brackish Bed for safe keeping.

After a quick inspection of the children, Colleen knew she had her work cut out for her trying to keep the children from getting onto any trouble. But what was going to happen to all of them? Meirathal was quite small compared to Fort Glory and Fort Glory was crowded as it was. They would have to look for another place to call home, no doubt. Where exactly they were going to go, she had no idea. Someplace safe, she hoped, but that seemed to be almost impossible. If Fort Glory was attacked, what was to stop any place else from being attacked? Too many questions to be answered right now so in the meantime, she offered what help she could to the Forbes’.

Taking some clean clothes up to the room Lasekura was in; she opened the door slowly and peered in on the Sergeant. He hadn’t moved since she left him a few hours ago so she slowly and quietly moved into the room and set the clothes down on the chair opposite the bed. Seeing some sweat beading up on his forehead, she stepped over to the dry sink and dipped the cloth into the cool, clean water then walked over to the side of the bed and carefully eased her weight down on the side. Reaching forward, she set the cool, damp cloth on his forehead then let her fingers gently touch his cheeks to make sure he wasn’t running a fever.

If this strong soldier was in this condition, what happened to the rest of the soldiers? So far, she had only seen a few stragglers of survivors and none of them looked like soldiers. In fact, they all looked like the hounds of hell were pursuing them. The pale faces beneath the dirt streaks had wide, haunted eyes that looked out and saw nothing but the terrifying sights they left behind. Even Lasekura seemed to have a haunted look in his eyes last she looked at them. Would he be affected by everything he had seen and happened to him and his fellow soldiers?

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Thu May 28, 2009 12:02 pm

As Colleen Smith's mind wandered back to the streets of Fort Glory, her imaginings of what had befallen the soldiers that had fought so bravely by the side of Sergeant Lasekura were not far from the truth. Those that had not been hung from the walls or decapitated had been locked into the deep dungeons of King Dorian's castle, awaiting spit and pot. One could only imagine the horror of awaiting to the main course for the night's feast and those who did not succeed in taking their own lives clung to the hope that Anotorian army would not forsake them.



As Lord Yassun descended in the depths of the castle he sensed that his cousin, Mallethden had at last begun his journey westward, accompanied by ten of the Ruagta'kun, the snake-like species referred to as the Lesser of the two Ta'kun species. The warriors known as the 'Long Spears' drove within two coaches, all refusing to lower themselves by riding upon the back of a Human's beast. The driver of each wore a billowing cloak to disguise their shape at a distance, but up close it would not be difficult for one to see them for what they were.

The deeper Yassun traveled the more comfortable the environment became; damp, dark and musty, pleasant surroundings for a Mermadon. When he arrived at an area that would be roughly beneath the eastern bastion of the castle he found many of the Greater Ta'kun, the Brulgta'kun, were working away to unearth what the Human's had begun. Curiously the remnants of a structure that they had uncovered was a man-sized, ornate, stone building upon which was engraved a writing that Yassun was not familiar with. It was not surprising that he was unaware of Tiannese characters, as they were a culture that yet remained divorced from the rest of the world.

There were not many historians and anthropologists of Dophir that specialized in the study of Tiann, the south eastern empire that seemed to alone have been spared the wrath of the Dragons. Of course such knowledge was here-say, as even during it's height, the people of Corithnal rarely traveled into the distant south and the land was believed by many Westerners to be a myth. Part of this was also perpetuated by the fact that it was extremely rare for the people of Tiann to ever travel so near the Pargomoot Mountain Range and so many Westerners had never seen or met a Tianyin before.

Yassun swore under his breath at the inconvenience of discovering even more riddles, but he was confident that the answers would come to him before long. Unfortunately another problem arose when the Brulgta'kun workers broke through a wall and revealed a most disturbing mural that had been preserved for thousands of years and when the Ta'kun first saw it they all uttered the same word.

Lord Yassun hastily walked toward the massive relief, he had no time for pagan superstitions but when he stood before the great relief he too was was moved by what it depicted. There before him, etched in ebon-dragon-steel and inlaid with tarnished brass and silver was the image of a Dragon, but it was made to appear more as a serpent as it writhed and twisted through a strange and wondrous landscape. Yassun understood that the Dragon was disproportionately elongated to touch upon the significant landmarks of this unknown land but what was most disturbing is that in the center the Dragon stood before and embraced hands with a Human! Yassun too found the word echoing through his mind until it too reached is lips and joined the Ta'kun in uttering the word, "Blasphemy."

*----------------------*----------------------*----------------------*----------------------*



Sergeant Raj Lasekura stirred awake an hour after Colleen had left his room. The dark skinned Korvidian man had been awoken by of all things a scent, but not just any fragrance. The redolence of jasmine drew his mind back to his boyhood days when his father had brought he and his mother to the strange and exotic land to the south. Few merchants traveled the road that wound through the Mountains of the Gold Dragon, that would lead them to fortune should they survive it's perils, but his father seemed to know something that many others did not and inspired his family with confidence every step of the way. They survived and found themselves in the fabled land of Tiann, the culture that Raj Lasekura would eventually embrace as his own as it would be the home for the impressionable boy he was for many years.

Lasekura, rose to his feet though unsteadily. His body was still weary but he could not rest while presently the Ta'kun may be planning to raid the coastal settlements if only to mark the territory. Naked, the strength of the man's powerful frame was evident and across his back one could make out the image of an ornate black dragon and strange swirling characters against his brown skin. He held up the clothes that Colleen had brought him and scrutinized them for a moment before dressing. Despite his many years living the West, Lasekura had still quite often wore the traditional style of dress to Ettuunai, the land of his Father's and Mother's people.

Walking downstairs, Lasekura seemed out of place wearing grey trousers, a white shirt and jacket to match but his breast plate and leather leggings were in need of repair which would be first on his agenda after speaking with Marshall Kallend on the strength of Mierathal's defenses.

"Ah, Mr. Lasekura! I am glad to see you're awake." Greeted a kindly old woman. "I'm Mrs, Forbes. Would you care for anything to eat?"

Lasekura nodded politely. "I was awoken by the scent of jasmine." He told her.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Lasekura, I bought them from a merchant long ago and they grow in the garden beneath your window. Most people find the smell pleasant."

"It is." Raj corrected, "It is a plant from my home land and I have not had the pleasure of its fragrance since I was a boy."

Mrs. Forbes smiled. "Well, if you need anything you just give me a call. Good day to you now, Mr. Lasekura."

The soldier smiled and stepped out of the Brackish Bed to face a new day.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Thu May 28, 2009 2:19 pm



Colleen left Sergeant Lasekura after she was satisfied he wasn’t feverish even though she was still worried about his condition both physically and mentally. War has a way of scarring people in ways that can’t be seen. Even when the physical wounds have healed, and Sergeant Lasekura had plenty of those – both fresh and not so fresh. Finishing up with her chores for Mrs. Forbes, Colleen checked on all of the kids who had made it to Meirathal and while she knew the fall of Fort Glory would forever be with them, she also saw a determination in their eyes. Even little Daisey seemed to slowly be coming out of the shell shock she was suffering from. At least the citizens of Meirathal didn’t cast wary glances at the kids and the kids seemed to be turning over a new leaf. At least, so far, anyway.

She caught sight of Elija with Sam and waved to him. The boy waved back and offered her a bright smile. One Colleen couldn’t help but return. This wasn’t exactly the new life she had planned to give him. Hopefully he would understand and wouldn’t hold her responsible for the tragedy that he suffered yet again because of some bullying lizards.

As Colleen walked around the quaint town, she noticed Sergeant Lasekura’s breast plate and bracers resting against the bath house wall and a sword she was very familiar with. Furrowing her brows, she walked over to where they rested and knelt down to examine them. Blood smeared the ornate design of the breast plate and bracers and she could see the many dents and scrapes the breast plate had taken. The sword had been well used and even now it still had chunks and strings of flesh and sinew tarnishing the once gleaming metal. Still, they had remained true and protected the body of the man who wore and used them as well as dealt death to a merciless enemy. Fine pieces of metal indeed that were in dire need of repair and cleaning. Looking around, she noticed there wasn’t a real smithy in the town but the shed behind the Brackish Bed could certainly be used for one. At least a small one. It even had an anvil in the far corner.

After a short conversation with Mr. Forbes, convincing him she knew what she was talking about, and gathering up some tools from the old shed, Colleen didn’t have the exact tools she needed, but she did have tools she could make work. Propping the door of the old shed open, Colleen tied her hair into the familiar knot she always did when she was working and began to mend Lasekura’s breast plate, bracers and sword.

Using a thick cloth, Colleen placed the cloth over the metal of the breast plate to protect it from the blows of the hammer she was using. The anvil was perfect for the curvature of the metal and she was able to let it drape easily over the sides as she banged the dents out of it. The scrapes couldn’t be removed, but they could be cleaned to remove the dirt from them so they weren’t as noticeable.

As she worked, Colleen concentrated deeply on her task, almost as though she were in another world and in a sense she was. Working with metal was a passion of Colleen’s and she put her entire being into her work and she would accept nothing but perfection from her work. Even on something like this as she repaired the breast plate of the man who had helped save her and the children’s lives. In fact, she seemed to work more diligently at this task, wanting to some how repay him for the sacrifice he and his fellow soldiers made for her and the others who were able to escape the horrors of Fort Glory.

Sweat beaded up on her forehead and several times Colleen wiped the annoying moisture away placing dark streaks across her usually ivory skin. Holding the breast plate aloft so she could see if the dents needed more work or not before lowering it once more and using the borrowed hammer, there was no doubt Colleen was once again in her element as she worked with the metal.

When the dents were removed from the breast plate, Colleen picked up the blade and cleaned off the Ta’kun residue. As the blood and gore was removed form the blade, it began to take on it’s former beauty and she was able to see that, while there were nicks in the blade, they weren’t that bad and wouldn’t take much work to remove them. Sitting on an old stool, Colleen picked up the hand file and began easing the rigid tool down the length of the blade. As before, Colleen’s concentration was deep and focused solely on the blade she was repairing. This blade she had forged from a thick piece of metal had brought an end to many a Ta’kun and she was determined to make sure it would be able to do that once again when it was restored to it’s former, formidable self.

The sound of banging and metal scraping metal in a slow, methodic pattern filled the air behind the Brackish Bed and many a curious passer by peered into the old shed to see what the noise was. As the men saw a woman working the metal they shook their heads and made comments about how she didn’t know what she was doing. As the women saw Colleen working at a mans job they clucked their tongues and commented about how it was no wonder she wasn’t married. No doubt before the day was over with rumors would fly about how she was a single mother and the fact she had no man would lead people to making their own conclusions on Elija’s conception. But Colleen didn’t care. She was too busy working with the one thing she knew to be everlasting: metal.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Thu May 28, 2009 3:09 pm











Elija, Sam , Galley , Ferret and Weasle were all huddled together talking, glancing at Colleen from time to time. Elija suddenly shoved Galley and Weasle forward. The two boys walked over to where Collen was working, each dragging a burlap sack behind them.

Galley tipped his hat and said "Pardon ma'am me an' Weasle here had a mind ya might be a needin' these here trappin's of yurs. Weeze di'it pilfer em, I swears it." Galley and Weasle then emptied the burlap sacks on the ground. Colleen's smithing tools fell clanking out of the sacks. Weasle just grinned as Galley said "Me an' Weasle an Ferret weeze tries ta carry that thing ya beats the swords on but it were way to 'eavy fur us." He then looked down at his feet.

Ferret came running up and held out Colleen's leather apron and gloves with a big grin on her face.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Thu May 28, 2009 4:15 pm



Colleen didn’t snap out of her concentration right away and when she heard the clang of the tools as they were dumped form the burlap bag onto the ground, she finally blinked her eyes and stopped what she was doing. Slowly turning her head to look at the tools as they lay scattered on the floor of the shed, she moved her gaze to the faces of the kids standing before her. As Ferret came forward with her beloved apron and worn gloves, she felt a lump form in her throat.

Colleen’s eyes began to tear up as she looked at the eager faces and heard what they said. Slowly laying the blade she was working on the ground, she stood up and wiped her hands on the cotton apron she was wearing over the skirt she’d been given. Swallowing several times to make the lump go away, she reached out with a trembling hand to accept the apron and gloves from Ferrett. Her eyes seemed to caress the apron and gloves before she blinked back the tears and turned her gaze to the faces of the kids.

“I….I don’t know what to say. I….thought these were lost….forever. Angus….my husband, made all of these especially for me. It was the only thing I had left of him after….”

She couldn’t finish the rest of the sentence. Slipping the apron over her head and tying it behind her, Colleen let her hands slide over the warn, stained leather and a sad smile slipped over her features and she looked at the kids once more.

“How did you manage to get all of this without getting killed? Wait…don’t’ answer that. It doesn’t matter…really. Thank you….thank you all so very much. I don’t know what to say.”

Knowing the danger the kids put themselves in, she hugged each one and thanked them all individually before turning her attention to Elija, who still stood outside and watching everything. Slowly walking over to where he stood, she knelt down before him and let her gaze settle on his own.

“I’m so sorry this isn’t the life I promised you, Elija, but I swear to you I will do all I can to make it much better than it was before you met me.”

Reaching out, she drew the boy into a warm embrace and held onto him for a few moments longer than she had the others. Her emotions were quite raw right now and it was all she could do to get them under control once more. Closing her eyes, she sniffled softly a couple of times then slowly released Elija and blinked a few times before she stood up and looked at all the children again.

“That goes for all of you as well. I don’t know how yet, but I promise all of you I will do my best to make sure you don’t need to go hungry or be cold and go without clothes again. I know what you all did back at Fort Glory. Bravery such as that doesn’t go unrewarded. I’ll make sure of that.”

As her composure began to return, she gave them all another hug then thumbed towards the door.

“Go on now….kids are suppose to play or something like that not stand around and mope all day. Just try not to get into any trouble. Please?”

The kids seemed to laugh light heartedly at what she said and didn’t need any more encouragement to be on their way. They didn’t need all this heavy adult emotional stuff weighing them down and Colleen knew that all too well. As she watched them slip off she heard them talking to each other.

“See…I told ya she wouldn’t be mad.”

“Nu uh. You said she wouldn’t be THAT mad at us.”

“I’s just glad not ta have ta carry them sacks around no more. Them buggers is heavy.”

“Oh like you carried them a long ways, goof.”

“OK…so I drug ‘em a long ways. What difference does it make?”

“Why’d she have to get all mushy and stuff….thank you woulda been jus fine with me…..yucky girl stuff sucks.”

“Hey….at least she didn’t insist on kissing our cheeks. That’s the worst of all….”

“Yeah…tell me about it.”

Colleen chuckled softly then sighed. Turning, she looked back down at the blade. She would pick the tools up later, when she was done. Right now, she had a task to complete. Sitting down once more, she pulled the folds of her skirt and petty coat between her legs then cradled the sword once more between her legs before using her legs as a make shift vice to hold the blade in place as she picked up her own file that had been brought to her and began sliding the tool down the length of the blade once again. She wanted to make sure her task was completed before Sergeant Lasekura awakened.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Fri May 29, 2009 3:10 am



Lasekura had awoken far sooner than Colleen or any other person that saw him ride into to town that morning would have anticipated. Many would have thought him to sleep until dawn the next day after his collapse from sheer exhaustion and admittedly Raj felt as though he could have very well remained in bed until supper time but that just wouldn't do.

The Brackish Bed Inn had been built on the edge of the cliff that over looked the docks and the fish market below. Raj, walked round the building and gazed upon the scene that he had been able to see through the window of his room, but is was far grander in the open air. He could feel the sea spray on the winds brushing against his face and before him the pale stones of the wharf stretched far out into the bay ending at a stark white beacon that appeared to float on the water. Nestled between the cliff's edge and the inn was Mrs. Forbes' garden. Most of her perennials were still a ways from blooming but her poppies and tulips were radiant in the Spring sun light and Lasekura could see that she had planted a small garden as well, most likely herbs he figured.

Beyond the garden, round the other side of the inn, Lasekura could hear the sounds of a metal worker practicing their trade and down below accompanied by the crashing of waves were the haggling calls of fish mongers. Everything reminded him of the Tiann village he grew up in, a magical town built on the sea side cliffs just like Mierathal. He had thought he would never see a village of it's like again and yet there he stood in the middle of one, breathing it all in.



"It's beautiful isn't it." Commented Marshall Kallend who strolled up aside Lasekura.

Lasekura did not reply, he didn't need to as the Marshall could no doubt see the pleasure in his face. They stood there together watching the sea for several minutes before Lasekura broke the calm silence. "They will come."

"I know." Replied Kallend with a hint of remorse in his voice.

Raj looked to the man whose eyes were still fixed on the horizon. "What will you do?", he asked.

The Marshall's eyes darted toward Lasekura. "What would you do?"

Lasekura had already knew how the man would respond but he had to ask. "I will fight with you.", he said.

Kallend nodded. "Do you know when?"

"A day, perhaps two. They will come at night."

The Marshall, a sturdy bull of a man, became somewhat diminished by the thought of his home being torches and his friends murdered and Raj could tell that he believed the entire Ta'kun army would descend upon them. "No my friend, do not despair. The Ruagta'kun will come and we will be ready for them.", the Sergeant confidently informed the Marshall. "I promise you this."

Lasekura's green eyes burned with defiance and vengeance and the very force of his presence bolstered Kallend's will and renewed his strength. The big man smiled, reached over and placed his hand reassuringly on the shoulder of the tall Korvidian. No more words were spoken and they returned their eyes to the sea.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Fri May 29, 2009 11:22 am



It took some time, but eventually Colleen finished her task. The thing that took the most time was the polishing, of course. Getting into the grooves of the elaborate design on the breast plate and bracers is what took the longest but she wouldn’t stop until the metal shone as though it were brand new. Even the sword was returned to it’s former gleam. Holding the breast plate up, she could see a blurred vision of herself in the metal and knew she had done all she could for the protective piece of armor.

Colleen didn’t realize how long she had been sitting in the shed performing the work on Lasekura’s equipment but when she stood up her back was rather stiff and her hands were achy and dirty. Still, she was quite proud of her work and she set the items near the door to the old shed and leaned them against the wall. Looking at her tools still scattered on the dusty floor, she took to cleaning them and placing them in an orderly fashion on the small bench the shed had.

By the time Colleen emerged from the shed it was later in the afternoon and she realized she hadn’t eaten anything all day. Typical for her when she was busy working. Untying the leather apron and hanging it on the door of the shed, she brushed her skirt and cotton apron off, picked up Lasekura’s equipment and headed around the front of the Brackish Bed Inn.

Glancing around the town she saw the kids dotted around the place. Daisey and Ferret were playing tag. Sam seemed to be talking to Galley about something. Elija was working with Weasel trying to teach the younger child how to properly hold a stick bat so they could all play stick ball. Frankie, Lil, Jack and Shiner were waiting for Weasel to get the hang of it all so they could start their game. Smiling to herself, she hoped that was she was seeing was the beginning of a new life for all of them.

Walking into the Inn, Mrs. Forbes met her at the door.



“My goodness, dear. You look like you’ve been hard at work.”

The elderly woman’s eyes drifted to the things Colleen was carrying then looked up into Colleen’s face with a puzzling look then brought her left hand to the top of her chest.

“Heaven’s sake. Was that you out there working on those things?”

Colleen was used to this sort of reaction from others but it still didn’t make it easier to take. Nodding, she brushed by the woman.

“Yes. It was. Someone had to do it. The Sergeant’s equipment would be of no use to him if it were left in the shape it arrived here in and unclean. Not to mention the blade needed a good sharpening. Ta’kun hide is rather tough to slice through with a dull, rusty blade.”

Mrs. Forbes was nothing less than flabbergasted and she followed Colleen into the Inn.

“But….dear….that’s the sort of work a man should be doing. Your hands will take a beating at such work, not to mention the rest of your body.”

Colleen shot the woman a look that spoke volumes of how much she didn’t appreciate the way the conversation had turned.

“Well I didn’t see a man around capable of doing such work so I did it myself. What was I supposed to do? Make the Sergeant wear equipment that wouldn’t protect him? I don’t think so. It’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve done this for quite some time now.”

Mrs. Forbes didn’t know what to say. Her mouth gapped open slightly as she listened to Colleen explain she’d done this before. What sort of woman made a living at a mans job? Colleen started heading up the stairs and Mrs. Forbes quickly spoke up when she realized where Colleen was headed.

“He’s up and gone, dear.”

Colleen stopped a few steps up the stairs and turned to give the elderly woman a concerned look. Her gaze drifted to the door then back to Mrs. Forbes as she came back down the stairs.

“Already? He drank the whole cup of tea I prepared for him. That should have had him sleeping at least until later this evening.”

Mrs. Forbes nodded.

“That’s what I was thinking. Apparently the good Sergeant is stronger than we realized. Last I saw him he as headed towards the docks. Mr. Forbes said he saw him talking to Marshall Kallend earlier but no one has seen him for a few hours now. I hope nothing has happened to him.”

Colleen glanced towards the door once more and nodded as well.

“Me either but Sergeant Lasekura is a man who isn’t easily defeated. He survived Fort Glory.”

Mrs. Forbes turned to look at Colleen again and nodded slowly. The stories she was hearing about Fort Glory were nothing less than horrific. Anyone who survived that slaughter surely wasn’t the sort of person who gave up.

Colleen turned and headed back up the stairs. The equipment she had for Lasekura was getting quite heavy to hold and the sooner she put it down, the better off her arms would be. When she reached the room he was using, the door was closed. Knocking softly, she called out to see if he was inside.

“Sergeant Lasekura? It’s Colleen Smith. May I come in?”

Waiting a few seconds to make sure he wasn’t in, Colleen opened the door and peered inside. Her dark blue gaze eased around the room and she saw the bed had been straightened but not made and the clothes she had set in the chair for him were missing. Slowly stepping into the room, she felt as though she were invading his privacy. Walking over to the chair, she set the breast plate down and leaned it against the back then set the bracers in front of the breast plate, crossed. Lastly she set the point of the blade on the floor and leaned it back against the wall using the chair back to help support it and prevent it from falling over. Stepping back she gave her work one last look before she turned to leave the room.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Sat May 30, 2009 12:17 am



As Colleen turned and closed the door behind her she was startled by a tall figure standing before her and instinctively raised her hands to push herself off and away. She bounced off the solid chest of the man and found herself leaning against the door and looking up at the smiling face of Sergeant Lasekura.

"I am sorry if I startled you, Mrs Smith." The man said sincerely as he thrust his hands behind his back and bowed in formal apology, displaying an etiquette one did not often expect from a soldier. Indeed, Colleen did think that Sergeant Lasekura did look rather gentlemanly in his plain grey suit, with his collar buttoned up to his adams apple.

Colleen tried not to make much over the matter so that she could get past the man and away before he inquired what she was doing in his room and discovered his newly repaired armaments. He, however, did not let her pass and did not seem at all concerned with her entering his room instead he let it be known that he had been looking for her.

"Marshall Kallend has asked us to join him for dinner." He told her, "You, myself and your son have been invited to his home at six o'clock." Lasekura added as he moved round Colleen and opened the door to his room while awaiting her response.

Before Colleen could reply the soldiers face beamed when he saw his breast plate gleaming as if new. He picked it up and carefully inspected it and shot the woman a curious glance, then he reached down and procured his sword. Drawing the blade from the scabbard, Lasekura held the blade up to the light and he waved back and forth before his eyes something became apparent to him, but what ever it was he kept it to himself. "Thank you, Mrs Smith, words cannot begin to express my gratitude.", he said with a gracious bow.

As Colleen humbly accepted is praise, the man sheathed the sword and donned his weapons belt, then shut the door to his room. "I hope to see you at the Marshall's abode this evening Mrs Smith, and once more I thank you." Lasekura told her as he quickly left her and ran down the stairs and out of the inn with purpose in his strides.

Lasekura made his way quickly down the winding road that lead to the fish market and the warf, then through the narrow gateway within the low wall that defended the lower section of Meirathal from any invasion that came by way of the beach. After removing his boots and rolling up his pants he walked along the beach until he was satisfied that he had found a remote area away from prying eyes. On a few occasions, he was alerted by a sudden noise and had paused to scan the rocky cliffs before continuing.

Discarding his jacket and shirt the Korvidian man took up his sword and took a fighting stance on the wet sand. Slowly then he began move, his body moving fluidly through many forms that at times resembled animals and as his speed began to increase the movements of his sword became more complex. He moved faster and faster, until the sword seemed detached from the hand that wielded it, as if it were moving under it's own power, until all stopped and Lasekura stood frozen in a pose, with hardly a breath. The sword gleamed strangely as if it were struck by light coming from all directions and Lasekura knew then that his blade had changed. There was a power about it, that allowed him to perform a sword movement not achievable in the natural world. It was all so clear now and Lasekura turned and gazed out into the brilliant blue of the ocean with a renewed faith.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:44 am



Needless to say, Colleen felt like she was between a rock and a hard place when she literally ran into Lasekura. The imposing figure of the man before her made her both nervous and very self conscious. She couldn’t shrink away enough and when he reached to open the door to his room, she was all too happy to side step away and put some distance between herself and Lasekura.

“D-dinner? Tonight? Oh…dear…..I….couldn’t”

Realizing she was stammering, Colleen quickly collected her composure and swallowed hard standing a little taller and squaring her shoulders. She was a grown woman, dammit, not some young girl. Besides, it would be very rude if she were to turn down the invitation from the Marshall and she certainly didn’t want to do that.

“Very well. Six o’clock it is then. Elija and I will meet you downstairs.”

Colleen didn’t want to be present when he discovered his things but now that he had, she felt the heat in her cheeks and knew her face had taken on a slight pinkish color. In fact, even as he appraised the items, she was still taking a couple of steps away when he thanked her.

“No need to thank me, Sergeant. Really. It’s no big deal.”

Noticing the look that crossed his face, Colleen was sure it was a thought she’d best not want to know. She was all too aware of the sort of thoughts people had about her when they realized what trade she was quite good at. Especially when he quickly left. Where ever it was he was in a hurry to get to, no doubt he was going to make sure the blade was indeed good enough to use and not just polished up to look pretty. No matter. Colleen knew in her heart of hearts she had done the right thing and for that, she could still hold her head high.

Leaving the hallway and making her way back down to the bottom floor where Mrs. Forbes was preparing for the evening meal at the Inn, Colleen quickly washed her hands and face and started helping the elderly lady with the task.

“Mrs. Forbes, Elija and I won’t be dining here this evening. It seems we’ve been invited to Ma….”

“Marshall Kallend’s. Yes dear. The Marshall told Mr. Forbes who told me. He also invited Mr. Lasekura as well.”

“But….I can’t just leave the other children.”

“It’s not like you’re abandoning them, dear. Mr. Forbes and I aren’t completely ignorant to the needs of children. We’ll be glad to keep an eye on the others so you can enjoy the dinner at the Marshall’s.”

“Are you sure, Mrs. Forbes. We won’t be long. I’ll come back as soon as I can.”

“Nonsense, dear. Stay and enjoy the break from everything. You’ve been through quite a bit, dear. You need a night to let yourself be…well…you. Besides, the children are self sufficient. All I have to do is give them a nice warm meal and they will take care of themselves for the rest. I was able to find a lovely dress for you to use and a nice shirt and trousers for your son to use. I’ve put them in your rooms. I also gave you your own room next to the children’s. The bath house should be all ready for you as well. Go…tend to yourself and leave this task to me. You have to get ready for this evening dear.”

“I….I don’t know what to say, but it’s just dinner with the Marshall. It’s not like it’s some important gathering or anything.”

“I know, dear, but you get to spend some time for yourself. You don’t have to worry about what to do next. You just go, have a good meal and enjoy some company. I’m sure you and Mr. Lasekura have much to talk to the Marshall about. It will do you some good to go, Colleen.”

“Very well then. I’ll get Elija and let him know about dinner.”

Mrs. Forbes smiled as she watched Colleen slip out of the kitchen. It didn’t take Colleen long to find Elija or the other kids. They were still playing stick ball and she was very glad they had found some sense of normalcy considering everything that happened.

“Kids…can I talk to you for a moment, please?”

The kids reluctantly paused their game to gather around Colleen. Relaying to them what the plans were for the evening, they seemed to accept what she said without any question.

“Mrs. Forbes said she and Mr. Forbes will make sure you get your dinner and are taken care of, although you don’t really need taking care of. But, I think it would be a good gesture if you offered to wash the dishes. The Forbes’ aren’t as young as you all and it would be a big help to them.”

This brought forth a chorus of groans but they grudgingly agreed to do the dishes. Even Sam seemed to not be too bothered by the idea. Finally they got back to their game and Colleen pulled Elija to the side

“Elija….the men’s bath house is ready for you to use. Mrs. Forbes has everything ready for you in your room as well. Don’t spend too much more time playing ball. Dinner’s at six and we both need to get ready.”

Knowing Elija wasn’t all that thrilled to leave his ‘mates’, as he called them, she smiled then turned and left him to finish the stick ball game.

It was a couple of hours later when Colleen made her way down the steps of the Inn with Elija by her side. The dress Mrs. Forbes had found for her was short sleeved and dark blue in color with white lace along the edge of the V neck and the same white lace around the bottom of the sleeves and hem of the skirt. The V neck was modest but Colleen still felt as though it could have been just a little higher. Leaving her hair down in the back, she wore it pulled back from her face and a small bun at the crown of her head wrapped in the same white lace.

Elija was dressed in a light blue, button down shirt and gray trousers that seemed to be tailor made just for him. He was quite handsome for his young age cleaned up and dressed in his Sunday best as he called it.

Raj waited for them at the bottom of the steps and Colleen noted the smile on the handsome face of the seasoned soldier. It was quite sincere and Colleen found herself wondering why that struck her as so odd, but it did. Mr. & Mrs. Forbes along with all the other children waited just down the hall as well. Colleen gave a nervous glance at all of them before she looked back to Raj.

“Good evening, Sergeant Lasekura. We’re ready to go if you are.”

Glancing over at the Forbes’ and the children, she offered them some last words.

“Good evening, everyone. We’ll be back before too long. And remember what I said, children.”

Looking down at Elija then back at Raj, she gave a small nod.

“Let’s go, shall we?”

____________________________________________________________________________________
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.


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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:38 pm

As Elija slowly followed Colleen out the door he glanced back at the Shoddy End Gang. Behind evey ones back Sam, Frankie and Shinner were walking around pushing their noses in the air with their arm outstretched. Ferret and Daisy were batting their eyes at Elija and pretending to swoon. Elja gave them a hard exassperated look and the rest of the kids stifled a laugh. Sam looked at Elija and held out his wrist prentending to put hand cuffs on them as Shinner pretented to drag Sam off.
Elija just hung his head, pulled at his collar and slowly walked behind Colleen like a man going to the gallows.
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PostSubject: Supper with Marshall Kallend   Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:25 pm



It seemed that Sergeant Lasekura had been to the tailor that afternoon. He was looking rather dapper in a charcoal grey three quarter length jacket over a burgundy waistcoat that matched his loose fitting trousers tucked into his polished mid-calf laced boots. His long dark hair, reminiscent of Payden's raven locks had been drawn back into a neat ponytail. Only the gentlemanly illusion was broken by the sword that hung at his hip, reminding Colleen of the ever present danger of the Ta'kun.

Raj smiled warmly as Colleen walked down the stairs seeing that she was as transformed as he. He raised his arms in a self conscious gesture at his attire, "I simply went to the tailor for a jacket, and afraid I became overwhelmed by the man's exuberance." He explained, "You are radiant, Mrs Smith, if I may say.", he complimented as he offered an arm to the woman and escorted her and Elija across town to the home of Marshall Kallend.

It was a fine evening and a golden sun cast long shadows across the ancient cobblestone paths that wound their way through the medieval village. It took only a quarter of an hour to cross the town and arrive Kallend's home that resided at the edge of the second inner wall that ringed the small town. It was a beautiful house obviously decorated by the hand of a woman. Bright tulips ringed the perimeter and the shrubs had been recently pruned to perfection. As they walked the front path and through the open gate the scent of cooked meat hung heavy in the air.



Standing on the front porch stood Marshall Kallend. He smiled and opened his arms wide as he swaggered down the stairs to greet his guests. He first gave Lasekura a firm handshake and a pat on the shoulder "Raj.", then he bent down slightly and in a grandfatherly fashion shook Elija's hand. "I am very pleased to meet you lad." Then he took Colleen's hands and spread them out before her to draw out her beauty. "A prettier blacksmith, there has never been.", he commented. Then retaining one of her hands, lead them all into his home.

Marshall Kallend guided them into a small parlor where there was very old, but very comfortable furniture centered around a warm fire. Through the open glass doors just off to the side of the hearth, an immaculately set table could be seen in the dining room. He already had set out on the coffee table a tray of tea and biscuits for Colleen and Elija and for Raj he offered a snifter of brandy.

Raj graciously accepted the drink, even though he did not drink alcohol. He had learned, however, that it was the custom of the Westerners to make such offerings and much of their socializing involved its consumption, so he had acquired a taste for the drink for such occasions.

The delicious smells of roasted meat and fresh baked bread wafted though the house. "Smells good doesn't it." Mentioned the Marshall. "I hope all of you like stew, I am afraid it's really all I know how to make.", he apologized as he walked up to the mantle and gestured in a toasting motion to the picture of a rather stately looking woman. "My wife, rest her soul, took care of everything around here, including me. She loved this town, she was born here, we both were." He paused briefly staring into the picture, his mind trailing off to fonder days. "She would have never imagined things to have turned out like this. That we would be living on the brink of our very own existence and from what? Dragons! And their spawn! A pox on them all!", he grumbled. Kallend took a sip of his brandy, strode over to his chair and sat. "You know, I built this house and I do my best to keep the way she would have liked it." Marshall Kallend looked toward, Colleen expecting her to offer a feminine accolade to his meticulous gardening but she remained silent as woman and children do when men talk in the parlor, but Raj commented on this upkeep of the house. For a few moments he went on praising the garden that his wife had made naming every early blooming plant and then continuing with the descriptions of what he could discern from the perennials that were just beginning to emerge. It was nice to talk about something that really interested him for a change and to also steer to the subject of the conversation to something more cheerful. He wished that Colleen could have participated in the conversation but the Western customs were so different from his own and he had learned to respect them.

"Well you certainly know a lot about gardening, Raj." Remarked the Marshall.

"My mother loved plants my fondest memories with her were always in the garden." Explained Lasekura. "You seem to have the knack yourself, Marshall."

"William, please. My home is no place for titles, they get hung up with the coats and the hats. I just do what I remember my wife doing, that's all." The Marshall then raised his glass to Raj and to Colleen, "To memories." he toasted, "May they keep us true."

William then pulled himself out his chair with a little groan and looked at Elija. "You hungry? I sure hope you are because I'm starving. Let's get to that stew shall we."

The dining room was very ornate. The walls were decorated with burgundy and gold striped wall paper and wainscoting, then adorned with several family pictures and a few amateur painting of the town and sea-side. All the wood in the room was dark and the oval shaped table had burgundy coloured table cloth draped over it. William Kallend had prepared a heaping pot of stew, which in a fishing community was a highly sought after meal. He had baked the bread himself and made a pitcher of iced tea to go with the meal. Before they ate, Marshall Kallend requested that they all join hands and he said a few words in honour of the Everlasting and gave thanks for the food they were about to receive. He then slapped his big hands together and excitedly said, "Let's eat."

During the meal the real conversation began. Marshall Kallend was very curious about what specifically had occurred in Fort Glory and had waited to hear Raj's version so that he could compare it to what Mrs. Smith and her boy had to say. He was actually particularly interested in Elija's voice on the matter since children lacked the guile of adults.

"When I was boy, we always talked at the dinner table. It's where we recounted everything that happened during the day and caught up with the lives of old friends." Started Marshall Kallend. "I am very curious of those small details that people often leave out in their stories, so let's hear about Fort Glory."

Raj thought the Marshall might be expecting him to begin but the hefty man's sparking blue eyes were fixed on the woman sitting at his right. "I am very curious to hear the tale of the blacksmith who travels with orphans." Kallend said before taking a sip of his drink, his eyes twinkling with an intimidating wisdom.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:45 am



Colleen didn’t think it was possible for Raj to get any more handsome, but she was very wrong. All she remembered of the man, before today, was a fierce warrior covered in blood. Both his and his enemies. To say the least, it was refreshing for her to see he could be a man of refinement. The suite the tailor had created for him accented his broad shoulders and tanned skin but not so much he looked fierce. Intimidating, yes, but not completely unapproachable.

As they walked to the Marshall’s home, they exchanged light conversation about the weather and the different things they noticed about the town they had escaped to. Anything but the obvious reason as to why the three of them ended up in the place.

When they reached the Marshall’s home and he greeted them, Colleen once more felt her cheeks grow warm with the compliments that had been given to her appearance. With a nervous smile she thanked the Marshall for his kindness and glance at Elija and Raj.

When they entered the Marshall’s home and stepped into the parlor, Colleen understood the protocol and politely moved across the room and fixed herself a small cup of tea. Choosing to sit down in one of the opulent chairs and encouraging Elija to do the same, she listened to the conversation between the two men.

Colleen was as surprised as the Marshall was about Raj’s knowledge of plants and flowers. There was no doubt he was a man from another culture and she was certain it was just scratching the surface of the man before her. And the Marshall seemed to be as diverse as Raj with h is cooking and gardening skills. Of course when she glanced up at the woman’s image over the fire place, she could see why he would want to honor her memory like he did. She was a comely woman who held herself with dignity but there was a look in her eyes that Colleen related to. It was one of sheer determination and will power. And while the woman was no longer present, Colleen found herself admiring her.

Glancing at Elija from time to time as the men talked, Colleen could see he was very nervous and practically sat on the edge of the chair the entire time. She also saw the way his eyes darted to the door more times then she could count on her fingers and toes. Finally she leaned over to whisper in his ear.

“It’s OK, Elija. No one is going to hurt you here. This is just a friendly social call.”

With a reassuring smile she sat back up just as the Marshall stood up and asked the young boy if he was hungry. Colleen saw the way Elija glanced at her before looking back at the Marshall and nodding. Standing as well, Colleen let the Marshall escort her into the dining room and once again she was awestruck by his domestic abilities. Her eyes took in the whole scene before her and she couldn’t help but think to herself that Mrs. Kallend had done a fine job of instilling her principals on her husband.

As she was seated, Colleen thanked the Marshall. When he requested they all join hands and bless the meal while thanking the Everlasting, she looked at Elija with that ‘just do as I do look’ on her face. As Raj took her hand, she glanced up at him and shared the smile he gave her. Needless to say, as nervous as she was, the wonderful smell of the food reminded her of just how hungry she really was.

The first few bites were absolutely delicious and Colleen knew she hadn’t tasted anything quite so good in a long time. But when she saw the Marshall’s eyes pinning her to the chair she occupied, she suddenly felt very exposed. Why didn’t he start with Raj’s story? Why was he asking her about her account of things with the children? Glancing at Elija then at Raj with a surprised look on her face, she slowly put her spoon down next to her bowl then dabbed her lips with her linen napkin and placed her hands in her lap. There was a look that crossed her face that both men would understand instantly as she seemed to stare into her stew for the right words to say. Finally she let her gaze settle on the Marshall’s as she told him what he wanted to know.

“Fate has a funny way of bringing people together, Mr. Kallend. In the case of me and the children, it happened to be a strange twist of fate. We ended up in the sewers of Fort Glory thinking it was the only safe place to hide from the Ta’kun. Turns out we were wrong.”

Once again Colleen looked to Elija and studied his youthful face for a moment before she looked back at the Marshall.

“My son and his friends knew the sewers like the back of their hands. Apparently the orphanage they were suppose to be in was nothing more than a place for corrupt adults to force the children into doing acts of crime for fear of their lives and to avoid being arrested by the authorities, they took to moving through the sewer tunnels. They had several places where one could hide for a few days without being discovered and we took refuge in one of those places. Unfortunately, the Ta’kun somehow discovered the sewer tunnels as well. The soldiers somehow found their ways into the tunnels and with the aid of the children tried to stop the Ta’kun from overtaking Fort Glory entirely.”

Swallowing hard, Colleen paused a moment before she continued.

“Unfortunately, the Ta’kun that made their way into the sewer were not the Ta’kun that had been fighting on the surface. These were larger, much more fierce Ta’kun and they carried spears. The soldiers and children, along with myself, joined up and broke into separate teams. The soldiers ran into the Ta’kun and engaged in a battle with them. The Ta’kun forced the soldiers back to a point where the children and I met them and the Ta’kun surrounded us.”

Colleen’s gaze settled on Raj then and her voice grew very quiet.

“It was because of brave men like Sergeant Lasekura the children and I were able to escape. They sacrificed their own lives to help us. Even as I saw their Captain go down, I knew they would still do all they could to save us.”

Closing her eyes for a moment, she swallowed hard again then turned her eyes to the Marshall again.

“But the Ta’kun were not as gullible as we thought. While the soldiers drew them away from the children and myself, some of the Ta’kun stayed behind to make sure they killed us. It was only through sheer determination we were able to escape to the sea. But not without suffering a loss of our own. One of the children, Cricket, suffered a mortal wound. We buried him on the beach outside Fort Glory.”

Casting her gaze downward once more, Colleen closed her eyes and fought hard to regain her composure. Clearing her throat softly, she found her voice again and blinked back the tears that stung her eyes.

“I couldn’t leave the children behind. They fought bravely for ones so young. Even after all they’ve been through, they are still just children. And they needed someone to look after them. It only seemed right that since my son used to be an orphan that it should be me. I’m not sure how I will continue to be there for them and make sure they have a place to sleep, food in their bellies and clothes to wear, but I’ve made myself a promise to them to do just that.”

As she spoke, Colleen had wadded up her napkin in her hands and now, as she was done, she set to smoothing it out in her lap once more with trembling hands.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:38 am



Elija sat nervously, eating slowly as he watched the sheriff for any sign of sudden movement. His eyes darted around the room looking for a quick escape or the sudden appearance of a deputy. When Colleen told him everything was alright and no one was going to hurt him, Elija looked up at her and faintly smiled. Being in the presence of the sheriff was not his favorite place to be. Too many times in his past had sheriffs and policemen seemed friendly just to grab him and hall him off before the magistrate.

Elija studied his surrounding and the stew closely. He had not eaten stew that had not been watered down and filled with spoiled meat and gristle, except for what Colleen had made for him, since before he ended up in Fort Glory. And that was only rarely.

Elija remained silent as the adults spoke, too many times in the orphanage and around Scrounger and Splevey he had had his ears boxed for speaking while eating or adults were speaking. When his bowl was empty he took a slice of bread and wiped it clean not wanting to waste any of the stew. He then looked around for the kitchen, picked up his bowl and spoon, slid off his chair and walked slowly towards a passage door that he assumed led to the kitchen.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:54 am



As Colleen recounted her last days in Fort Glory, Marshall Kallend continued to eat and patiently listened to her story. From time to time he would glance over at Elija and upon eye contact give him a warm encouraging smile. He seemed to recognize what was going though the boys mind, although one wouldn't imagine a man growing up in such perfect little town having any understanding of a place like Shoddy End. It was only when Colleen had forced herself to relive the death of one of the children did the Marshall place his cutlery down on his plate and shake his head sorrowfully.

"Thank you for sharing your story with me my dear." Consoled the Marshall, "These are hard times and it seems death is around every corner you turn these days. I promise you that your children will be safe in Mierathal and you are more than welcome to stay in my guest house.", he offered. He seemed to anticipate her response and as soon as Colleen opened her mouth he held up his hand and interjected, "I'm not going to take any form of 'no' as an answer, its not much, two bedrooms and a leaky bathroom faucet. No offense to the Forbes', they're good people, but a crowded inn is no place for your kids. The house is yours for as long as you wish to stay, I have work for you as well, if you wish. Our local blacksmith is a farrier by trade, the man can twist a shoe but he doesn't know a damn about mending shield and sword. I even have an old forge that you can use." Marshall Kallend paused, awaiting an answer but when Colleen remained silent in thought over the matter he made sure to tell her that, "There's no need for answer at this moment, take your time and get back to me in a few days if you wish."

Seeing Elija carry is plate away from the table, the Marshall reached out with his large arm to block the boy from entering the kitchen. "Where do you think you're going?" He said sternly and the tone of his voice startled the boy.

Kallend's features immediately softened and broke into a wide smile. "My, you're a skittish thing." He commented, "Get you're rear end back in that chair. No one leaves the table without seconds in this house." He then playful poked the boys chest with his thick finger, "Especially growing boys." He then sat straight and to everyone said, "Please, there's plenty of stew, help yourselves." He reached over and slapped Lasekura on the shoulder, "I know you haven't eaten your share yet young man."

Raj smiled and helped himself to more stew, "I indeed have not. Thank you."

The Marshall looked to Elija. "After you finish up your dinner, I have a little surprise for you. You smell that?" The man said with an exaggerated sniff of the air.

The over powering smell of the stew had now been replaced by the sweet scent of pie. "Blackberry pie." Announced Kallend leaning back. "I arranged for my friend, Mrs. Lachlan, to come in through the back and leave a fresh backed pie and something else." Kallend explained with a smart wink, then he turned to Elija once more, "You ever had iced cream?" he asked the boy, "Soon as you finish up your second bowl or as much as you can stomach, we'll have dessert."

It was quite evident that the Marshall was thoroughly enjoying himself, and both Colleen and Raj were beginning to sense something rather cosmopolitan about the small town Mashall. The way he carried himself, the possessions in his home and now the introduction of ice cream described an urban rather than a rural man. There was something else though. Despite the fact that they could be attacked by Ta'kun that very night, Kallend was calm and relaxed, hardly worried about the tragedy that may befall his beloved town and more concerned with the affairs of the world around them.

"I am still interested in your story Raj, very interested, but first I'd like to hear what the boy has to say." Said the Marshall, "Go on lad, you can speak freely here, whatever was said and done in Fort Glory is of no concern to me, I only enforce the laws in Mierithal and as far as I am concerned you've got a clean slate now. Tell me about you and your mates, I promise you're safe here."

Even Sergeant Lasekura had slowed his eating to listen to Elija's story. There was so much he did not know about Mrs. Smith and her son, but he was beginning to get a better picture thanks to the inquisitive patriarch.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:24 am

Elija jumped, froze and his eyes darted around looking for an escape route, when Marshall Kallend's arm blocked Elija's way and he said "Where do you think you're going?"
When the Marashall's finger poked Elija's chest, he backed away, his mind flashed back to the times in the orphanage when gentlemen would come and poke him, smile and then escort him to a private room, to be alone, while the overseer's of the orphanage counted the money they had been handed.

Elija walked back to his seat and sat quietly as Colleen laddeled him up another bowl of stew. "Eyezz head 'bout ice cream sir." Elija said softly "But ain't never had any of it. That stuff is fur well ta do folk not fittin for buggers of my sort, sir." Elija then became silent and concentrated on eating and thinking of what to tell the Marshall. He looked quickly at Colleen, with a questioning look on his face.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:22 am



As Elija recoiled from his friendly gesture, William Kallend realized that the boy had been through much, and not all of it was the doing of the Dragons. In his experience, people could be far crueler to to their own kind that these creatures that so many referred to as 'invaders'. He observed Colleen's expression and mannerisms and knew she could not be the cause of the boy's behaviour and when Elija used the word, 'bugger' to describe himself the old Marshall gave a low rumbling chuckle at the outburst.

The large man eased back into his chair and studied the boy as he returned to his seat. He realized he would be best left to the console of his mother and while she was tending to the boy and Raj was filling his belly with a third helping of stew he excused himself from the table. His footsteps trailed off down the hall, there was the sound of a door opening and then Kallend could be heard walking down a stairway into the cellar.

Kallend returned an old bottle of wine that he was dusting off with a cloth as he entered the dining room. He placed the bottle on the table and turned the label to Colleen then to Raj. The label that specified the wine as an Alondynn grape was ten years old, and the vineyard was called , 'Ocean Winds'.

"My own label." Explained Kallend as he retrieved three red wine glasses from the cabinet beside the table. He placed the glasses on the table and procured a cork screw from his pocket. "We'll enjoy this after dessert." He told them as he uncorked the bottle to breath, "It is best enjoyed with a clean palette." He then reached over the table, grabbed the ladle and added some more stew to the boys bowl. "You better eat up, before the ice cream melts."

Marshall Kallend gave Colleen a curious look then set his attention back to Elija. "So, lad tell me of your days in Fort Glory? How did you spend them before the attack?" He probed.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:06 am



Colleen watched the interaction between Elija and Marshall Kallend and saw the way her son shrank away from the man, especially when he pointed at Elija and let his finger touch the boy’s chest. There was still so much she didn’t know about Elija or the life he had been subjected to while in the care of the orphanage and while she knew she may never know the full extent of it, she was determined to make sure he didn’t need to worry about anything like that ever again.

To help ease the tension in Elija, Colleen smiled softly at the boy and dipped him some more of the delicious stew the Marshall had so graciously created for them all. As she sat the bowl back down at Elija’s place at the table, she leaned closer and whispered in his ear once more.

“I’m here, Elija. I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.”

When Elija glanced nervously at her, Colleen made sure her eyes were able to catch his and somehow convey through her look she meant every word and somehow comfort him at the same time. Now that the attention had been removed from her, Colleen helped herself to another small helping of the stew as well and was just beginning to enjoy it when the Marshall excused himself from the table only to return with a dusty, dark bottle.

When the Marshall explained it was his own brand when he revealed the label to herself and Raj, both of Colleen’s dark brows rose and she glanced across the table at the handsome warrior who had escorted her and Elija to the dinner. By the look in his green eyes she could see he was just as surprised as she was, even though it shouldn’t have been so. It was clear the man had quite a talent for many things so why not making fine wine?

“Your talents seem to have no bounds, Mr. Kallend.”

There was a smile on Colleen’s face that was rare to see. It was one full of mirth and sincerity and it was still there when she glanced at Raj and Elija. Of course when the Marshall turned his attention back to Elija and asked him of his life in Fort Glory, Colleen slowly eased her spoon back to the bowl and let it rest there as she reached over and took Elija’s hand in hers as it rested in his lap. The boy seemed like a deer caught in bright lights and Colleen wasn’t sure if he was going to take off running right then and there or tell the Marshall the terrible truth of his life prior to Colleen’s adoption.

Elija glanced at Colleen once more and she gave the slightest nods to encourage him and let him know she was beside him all the way.

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:19 am



William clicked his teeth together and slightly narrowed his eyes while watching the boy wolf down the last of his stew. When Elija was finished, he smiled warmly and held up a staying hand. "Leave the bowl on the table please." then he looked over to Raj with a wry smile, "The men will deal with the dishes later." and laughed a bit at Lasekura's questioning expression to which Marshall did not offer any further explanation.

The Marshall leaned into the table and stared at the boy with softened eyes. "Elija, could you do something for me? With your mother's permission of course." He asked and the boy seemed eager if only to get away from the table and the Marshall's questions. "In the kitchen, there's a bowl of meat on the counter top, it's supper for my Taerjen. Do you know what that is?"

Taerjen (Ter-zhin) were uncommon creatures that looked like a cross between a lion and a wolf. Powerful animals adapted for the cold, they were only sighted on the tallest mountains of the Pargomoot Range. Their sure footed paws enabled them to cling to the sheerest rock face and their broad muzzled canine head could take a man's arm with a single bite making them desired by hunters not only for the challenge but for their magnificent skin. The Taerjen, were a rich dark brown, grey or black with pale brown to white coloured stripes decorating the length of their body right down to the end of their long bushy tail. Surrounding the heads of the males was a dark mane of soft luxurious fur highly sought by hat makers and their tails were commonly used as ladies stoles. Most people were aware of these beasts, but few had every seen one in the flesh and even fewer knew the truth of them as most believed the creatures to be the stuff of nightmares. Vicious and malevolent monsters stalking the night and stealing defenseless babes from the cradles, but the people of Meirathal knew better.

"His name is Koldothaur and he's expecting you." William earnestly told the boy and when doubting eyes fell on him from both sides of the table, Kallend seemed quite prepared for the skepticism. "What you may have heard about these creatures is all wrong, in fact they are highly intelligent and can understand much more of our language than one might believe. I told Koldothaur, that someone new would bring his dinner and he will be expecting a person he has never met before." He then turned to Colleen sensing her apprehension, "Please, Mrs. Smith, you needn't worry, I would trust Koldothaur before many men in this village, but to put your mind at rest, Elija, please return straight away after you feed him."

Kallend looked back at Elija and smiled. "There's a lot of tree's between the back of the house and the wall, but he's in there. It's where he lives, you are more than welcome to bring your friends to see him and you can bring them back for some ice cream too if you want to share." offered the Marshall.

After Elija excused himself from the table to fetch Koldothaur's meal, Raj who been holding his tongue piped up. "You don't really have Taerjen do you?" Partially smiling at the Marshall's ruse, but when Kallend responded with a serious expression the warrior's face turned quickly sober and he nearly ran after Elija.

"Calm down, Raj", Kallend told him and assured Raj once more that all the tales he had heard of the creatures were not true. They were only stories made up by unscrupulous men who could not abide being out smarted by a four legged animal. Men who killed for sport and profit who were too ignorant to see the intelligence and beauty of the creatures.

Kallend stood up, walked into the kitchen and retrieved one of the pies. As he cut into it and dished out the pieces to his guests he one last time told them that, "Elija will be fine. The boy was beginning to react to my questions as if this were some kind of inquisition. He needs some adventure, this old man often forgets that fire that once raged in his own boyhood heart so long ago. Now, who wants some ice cream."
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:50 am



As Elija finished his stew, Marshal Kallend asked him to feed the Taerjen, Koldothaur. "Y-y-y-yes sir he said as he slid his chair out and walked into the kitchen, picked up the large bowl of meat, turned and balancing it on one arm opened the back door. Standing in the doorway for a moment, Elija stepped out into the night air. Walking slowly forward he said softly.

"Hey there Koldothaur.......it be me Elija......Marshal Kallend he done telled me ta bring these here cant for ya. Now don't ya go chompin on me arse or I be doin' the do-down on ya I swears." Slowly Elija drew closer to the woods as his foot stepped on something laying on the ground. Looking down he stepped back quickly drawing in his breath. There on the ground illumitaned by the moonlight was the skull of a Ta'Kun. Elija stepped over it quickly and looked around. It was then that a large creature that looked like a cross between a lion and a wolf stepped out of the woods, sniffed the air and drew closer to Elija.

Elija froze as the creature came up to him and sniffed, first Elija then the bowl. It stepped back and sat down on its hind quarters. Elija set the bowl down and stepped back. The Taerjen stood and leaned over the bowl and began to eat slowly, watching Elija closely.


After several minutes Elija stepped closer, reached out his hand and rested it on the Taerjen's head, patted it and slowly began to pet the creature, feeling it's soft supple fur slide through his fingers. After several more minutes, Elija said. "Koldothaur yous an mees be mates."
Elija then turned and returned to the house, shutting the door and returned to the table.
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:19 am



Needless to say, Colleen was beside herself when Elija left the house to go feed a…. Taerjen. Several times her eyes glanced to Raj for some sort of help in the matter. The handsome warrior did seem just as concerned as she was but the Marshall seemed rather insistent on letting Elija handle the situation himself. That still didn’t stop Colleen from worrying like a mother duck frantically looking for her duckling.

As the Marshall seemed unconcerned for Elija’s safety, Colleen tried to not show quite so much of her anxiety as well. It was damn near impossible, of course. Her eyes kept glancing towards the doorway she saw Elija leave the room from. Her ears strained to hear any sounds of distress from Eljia or any sort of wicked snarls from the large creature the boy was facing.

With the pie sat before her, Colleen looked down at the succulent dessert and knew she would have enjoyed every last bite of it, if she hadn’t been so worried about Elija. Not wishing to seem rude, though, Colleen took a few small bites and seemed to nibble on them. What flavor the pie was, she couldn’t tell you for she didn’t taste any of it, yet.

Finally her nerves got the better of her and she had just pushed her chair back and stood up to go check on Elija when the boy walked back into the room rather calmly. The relief that flooded Colleen when she saw Elija, unharmed, return to the dining room and sit down couldn’t be measured. Blinking, she looked at Elija then looked at Raj then Marshall Kallend before quickly sitting back down.

The Marshall had a triumphant ‘told you so’ smile on his face and Raj seemed to be as relieved as Colleen was, offering a small smile as well. Colleen glanced back over at Elija then.

“I take it Koldothaur is as the Marshall stated?”

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:18 pm



Before Elija could respond to his mother's question, the Marshall broke in with an all knowing, "Of course he is." He then placed a piece of pie in front of the boy, "Blackberry pie." he said then plopped a couple of scoops of ice cream beside it from the cool churn he had placed on the table. "And some ice cream."

Distracted by the dessert, Elija had forgotten his mum's question and dug in. While he ate, the Marshall at last began to fill the wine glasses with the deep red elixir from old dark bottle. He sat back in his chair swirling the wine his glass to check the legs, drew the bouquet into his nostrils and let out a satisfied sigh before he took a drink. Placing his glass before him the Marshall once more began to speak.

"Koldothaur means, 'protector' in the ancient northern tongue. I found him half starved while on an expedition in the western Pargomoot Mountains before the Dragons came." The Marshall made a toasting gesture to lost friends when he made mention of that cursed time, "He was half starved, unable to eat because some hunter had put an arrow in his jaw." Kallend's disdain for trophy hunter's became very apparent in the tone of his voice. "I have no use for a man who defines themselves by murdering such a noble creature, but Koldothaur was fortunate that we crossed paths. I took care of him and he had stayed by my side ever since. But he's young, I figure he's not much older than you are Elija and Taerjen live as long as we do, if not longer. He deserves better company than a lollygagging old man, he needs someone with the same energy to show him some adventure. So are you up for that Elija?"

Elija who had been half listening while enjoying his dessert looked up considering just what Mr. Kallend was getting at.

"Koldothaur needs a friend that can keep up with him. Are you up for the task? If your Mother decides to move into my guest house, you'll be neighbours and I think you two would make fine friends."
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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:05 am



Suddenly there was a knock on the door and Kallend hefted himself from the table and swaggered over to see who it was, turning in mid-stride as he just remembered to say, "Excuse me."

The man at the door seemed frantic but Kallend calmed him down quite quickly and from what his guests could over here the man needed the Marshall to come down to the docks straight away. The Marshall tried to explain to the man that he had guests and that he should handle the problem himself, but the man was quite adamant and so he told him that he would be out in a few minutes.

Kallend returned to the dining room with a look of disappointment across his face. "I am afraid our dinner party is going to have suffer a brief interruption." He sadly informed them.

"What is wrong? Do you need my assistance?" Asked Raj as he motioned to rise from his seat.

Kallend raised a staying hand and smiled. "No, no, everything is fine. It's just a little mishap down at the 'Nest'." He explained then remembering that they were yet unfamiliar with the town clarified further, "It's the 'Crows Nest', a pub on the wharf frequented by sailors and fishermen. There's no need to worry, it's a common occurrence and one that requires some subtlety. If you get my meaning." He said to Lasekura with a toothy smile.

Raj nodded. Understanding that his presence may provoke a fight rather than a peaceful resolution. He sat back down and awaited for Kallend to finish his dialog.

"Please make yourselves at home, feel free to explore." He told them as he gathered his pistol, musket, powder and shot. "These are just precautionary. If I am not back within the hour then please accept my humble apologies and don't worry about locking up."

Kallend left the house and met up with the other man who had been waiting on his front porch. They spoke briefly and headed down to the wharf, their lantern trailing off into the distance.

Lasekura, looked to Colleen and Elija. "Well it seems that we have an hour before we learn whether or not our host shall return." He then leaned into table with a mischievous smile forming on his dark face, "Shall we do a little bit of exploring then?"

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PostSubject: Re: BOOK 3 - CHAP 2 - A New Dawn   Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:23 am



Elija's eyes lit with a mischievious sparkle. "Let's have a eye on tha guest house, Mum can have an eye on our new digs." Elija said excitedly.
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