CHAPTERS 3&4 OF THE RANGERS FESTIVAL BOOK...

131
0
Submitted Date 06/18/2020
Bookmark

Chapter Three: Dandein's Vow.

But Kate had now got into the habit of just laying there. Thinking about her own stupidity and how to tackle the trauma she could not seem to escape. She sniffed and shivered in a horrible full body shaking. Again, fighting back the urge to cry. Still, she could not sleep. Not when the terror of reliving something so dire, was still so easily acquired when she closed her eyes. Her stomach was also cramping again, especially in her lower back. She was in a lot of pain but had refused to say anything about it.

Putting a false smile on and pretending to be happy and gay. It was not something she could keep up over an indefinite time frame. Sooner or later, the bard recognized she would break down. But she could not, would not do it, in front of anyone, or at someone else's pushing. Forlorn she lay thinking about all of it again, replaying the events in her mind.

Remembering the one with the tattoo, and the others. As haunting and horrible as it had been, some good had come of it, because the scrolls that they may find, would not have any, of the information or spellcraft on them, that they needed. If any magic resulted from it, she would have been surprised – because all they may result in was pink bunnies running around.

A subtle sneer of grim smug satisfaction flickered briefly over her gaunt features. Till she closed her orbs slowly, recalling each scroll and placing it in it's actual order, properly, inside her mind. But no, she could not sleep. Too much weighed heavily in her heart and ran rampant in her brain. Whatever it was, it caused her to rise from her bed and stand.

With a large thick blanket, wrapped around herself tightly. Shivering and looking paler, than normal. Her throat dry and mouth parched. Perhaps she could drown out the images to aid her to passing out completely so she would not have to remember?

Where had been that drink, her father had promised her? Quietly she moved as she pulled the blanket tighter about her form with both hands. Tremulously hoping that Robert was still up, and the others had gone...

So then Kate came back into the main central area. Where the dinning had been held, to find only five out of seven of the males from the meal, (none of which were her father,) now sitting around and drinking wine. No, she wanted something a little stronger than that. Needed something stronger and more coarse, harder, than a mere simpletons wine! Ale or beer, would not kick it either, she concluded. Confused for a moment and now shaking terribly with the cold chills, that continued to prevent her heating up, she stuttered, between chattering teeth, "My goodly sirs, where is our Liege? And my father? Did they leave or something?"

Agrivane's head turned instantly. Dandein literally, jumped to his feet and placed a protective arm around her, in disbelief stating, "My precious Lady! You must not be out of bed! You have need of your rest, and you are shivering!" stating inaptly as people are often wanton to do, of the obvious. Even to the large paladin she felt unreasonably cold. Her body was as icy marble, as he could feel that through the small blanket and the shift she wore for sleeping attire. It was not normal, and he feared she was getting sick, of which he would not allow!

"I need a drink. I want my dad at the moment..." her response was clear as it was commanding. Despite her shivering and trembling jaw, "Where is my tachre?" Her gaze was as sharp and entrapping as a steel cage. Catching each of those still sat around, paused in conversation and drinking. Searching for her answers. So deliberate was her piercing gaze, so sharp, it was as though she could see through them all into their minds, and it unsettled some of the elves a fraction.

"Your gracious sire, is with the High Prince Regent. And they are apparently, in private counsel." explained Coleus kindly, as he took a clean cup and poured some wine into it and offered it to her.

"I do not wish of wine, but I thank you kindly, good sir. I want something more, adequate to quell the chill and set a fire." came the swift rebuke. Kate moved away from Dandein and his protective stance and walked towards another area, that was also cordoned off with supplies. "Probably keeps that crap in here..." she stated more to herself, than anyone in particular. Expertly she wove around them and disappeared, through a different thick cloth. A few seconds of stunned silence went by.

Behind the screened area, Kate quietly, reverentially began to search through the various boxes and bags that were stored in the compartmented place. Looking for what she sought. Finally she came across a few bottles, neatly laying in straw and crated. An arched brow raised she leaned down to squint at the labels.

Yes, she thought to herself, this was what she wanted. The label read in high elvish, Medrovee. There was another crate with similar packing, and rummaging through that, (because it was already open,) she discovered three bottles labeled, Alfreon Meade. Carefully she lifted one of the bottles up. Examining it. It was in a bluish glass. "Huh, seems to be the same stuff I drank a few nights ago...might be good. Didn't have bad dreams that night....this might work." came her whispered musing to herself quietly.

* * * * * * *

It was still, in that stunned silence that the bard was up and about at such a late hour. The captains along with Dandein, were still somewhat unnerved by the way she had stared and bored into each of them with her eyes. It was a haunting and severe look of reproach. All had watched her wander into the other area. Vanishing behind to the other compartment in the tented pavilion. Shocked. Disbelievingly. Nursing their own concerns privately.

Until Agrivane managed to snap out of whatever thoughts had been fleeting through his head, and gathered his wits about himself. It was not good that she wanted to drink. He was only too aware of how silly and drunk, she was capable of getting. Not to mention how much trouble she could cause. In some ways she was just, like her father. He stood up and went to head straight to where she had walked into, when Eldarweave pulled on his arm, questioningly.

"I have to stop her, getting into our Lord Trellawny's, liquor stash. Trust me on this! If she starts drinking, there will be no peace! Nor a safe place for any of us, from her father's wrath! I am personally well aware, of how much trouble she can cause and delights in! She is nothing more than a sprite, when it comes to imbibing alcohol, the way she can! Trust to I, Bryn that the Lady can drink more than you or I dare to, on our nights off, at a local tavern house!

She in that sense, is the exact of Trellawny! Just female instead! Well, even though that is questionable, with the way she acts! And it is scary, very scary! As to how much exactly, that woman can do, with a cup of false courage!" He pulled away to march back there after her. "My Lady?" he called as he too then vanished behind that same divider.

"Oh this is so, not going to end the evening well." muttered Dandein as he too, now walked over to the same area. Requesting to the others, "Please, good folk be seated? Whilst I go make sure the bard does not, floor your, Head High Captain? I once saw her take her own brother down – it was not a pretty sight..."

The other three who had remained all exchanged incredulous looks of, 'is-he-serious'? Yet did as they had been bid. Three sets of eyes clamped all their focus now, on the divider curtain in awe, fascination and anticipation. Unable to tear their gaze away, listening intently as they did so, with abated breath.

Oakley whispered quietly for just his two remaining compatriots to hear, "Do you think she might? Be able to floor Agrivane, that is? Is that even possible? I have never seen him lose a fight before!" It was rather childish of him saying as such and there was a little sparkle of excitement in his eyes as he spoke.

"I don't know about him never, losing a fight – but wouldn't it be funny if she does, floor him – as Leihn put it?" snickered Sorrel sadistically as he kept his vigilance.

"You two are horrible people." mumbled Bryn in turn, "Now shut up, am trying to hear what's going on – in there."

"Bet you ten gold taros, that they'll both get into trouble.." came the dark snickered response of Corbin Sorrel to this, to the other two.

"Bet you she don't floor a soul, with those ten gold, and you need to say what kind, of trouble Corbin or am not accepting it." was the childish glee from the ranger by his side.

"Bet they'll both get in trouble with the lady..." he grinned nastily.

"Nah, that's no a bet! That's obvious, mate. How about in trouble with her dad or our Liege?" returned Oakley in a giggle of excitement and hushed voice back to Corbin Sorrel.
"I just told you both to shut your gobs! Am trying to listen here..." admonished Eldarweave a little impatiently, as he shot them both an exasperated look.

"Alright, I bet you that Kate might floor someone, for ten and another ten taros of gold for them getting into trouble with her sire." chuckled Sorrel with some eagerness.

"Done!" agreed Oakley and they shook hands, then turned their attentions back to the screened off area that all three had now disappeared behind. A penetrating silence resumed, that you could have used a knife to cut he heavy air of expectancy with.

For as soon as Dandein had left, the others who remained behind, could soon hear rather heated discourse. Eldarweave was the first to speak confidently, as he refilled his cup from the pitcher of wine, that was being passed around, "Well, I am sure if anyone knows how to deal, with Lady Hope's most temperamental and wayward young sapling – it would be those two! I just hope that for Coleus's sake, he is wrong about her – being likened copy, to her sire! After all, he has been known to take more than two down, without aid." and with that he snickered quietly to himself. Adding after sipping some more, "Besides that, I have to admit, she does have the old healer's, fierce temper. And from what I hear, her mother's fire burns well within her, too... might prove entertaining, and interesting for the evening, if nothing else. I bet you ten gold taros, that she gets to hurting them both, physically."

"Done – I'll take that!" Adrian shook his hand quickly at this, "But if it's just with words, that cash is mine!"

Yet Eldarweave was quickly punched in his free arm by Sorrel who spat the words, "That is not, funny Bryn! We woke her up to begin with! Now she has taken a mind to drinking? And not regarding, that we are males here? It cannot bode well, and I am sure we will all be under reprimand, by our Regent as a result. If anything untoward, should come of this!"

"I am in agreement with you on that Sorrel, and you call us horrible people! Bryn you should be equally ashamed of yourself, for saying such things!" began Oakley then he paused, as all three now heard the voices becoming even more louder, in argument.

Kate's voice at first was shrill and defiant, then the low rumblings of Agrivane's. Followed closely by the calm tones of Dandein as if, trying to smooth whatever the arguing pair were bickering over. All three remaining captains turned their heads towards the curtain. Almost in slow motion, they turned their heads, back to their vigilance, just as a loud clattering of something-or-another breaking could be heard.

Suddenly it was Dandein, who came out from the curtain! Tearing it half down with him. Forcefully hurled backwards. Then the sound of another object being smashed and Agrivane screaming an obscenity or two, into the bargain. The paladin-cleric, Leihn, was struggling, to get to his feet. Moaning as he rolled onto his side, obviously in a lot of pain. The captains were stunned. Staring incredulously at the large paladin on the floor. Then back up to the scene, now unraveling before them.

"Dear Ivura preserve us! What by the stars and trees?!" exclaimed Oakley fearfully as he rushed over to aid the poor struggling paladin-cleric. Who was still disorientated and moaning in pain. Clutching his chest with one hand and his leg, that had crumpled in his fall, with the other.

Tears filled poor Dandein's orbs, as he glanced up, to the one helping him. A low growl of discontent spat forth, "Agrivane pissed her off – this is not good!" Behind the curtain, or rather the torn elements of what was left of it, Agrivane was lifting his arms up as Kate viciously, threw another bottle at him! Yelling loud and clearly for all she was worth. Her whole body shuddering but now with pure cold rage.

Those words, her words acoustically cutting in their deliverance, "YOU THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING, THERE IS ABOUT ME? WELL YOU ARE BLOODY WELL WRONG! BACK THE FUCK UP AGRIVANE!" Then in an even more vicious growl of fury, between clenched teeth she added, "BECAUSE if you think, for one second that I will not deal with you – you are wrong! If you believe that what I just did to Dandein is all, I am capable of, then THINK AGAIN!! And Dandein is a sweetheart! The only reason he got that, was because you used him, as a freaking shield, to dive behind!" And there it was.

That unrelenting, unforgiving dark raging storms in her eyes. Almost wild and indescribably, feral – and with a terrifying power, imbued by any standard. It wreathed her form in a brilliance, as she balled one fist up and grabbed another bottle, from the long open crate of them and threw that at him, too. With a deadly accuracy it seemed.

Despite his agility and maneuver to avoid that, it strangely curved unbelievably, in the air and smashed right into the side of his shoulder and neck. Another curse escaped his lips. There was a good five maybe six or seven yards between them.

The fellow captains jaws dropped. They had never seen a bottle change it's angle mid-flight before just to hit a mark! Eldarweave and Oakley gulped in unison, as Sorrel stood up, unsure exactly as to what he could do, but feeling he had to do something. He glanced in a panic to his work colleagues.

"You do not need to be in here, drinking this gut rot!" snapped Agrivane. Rashly wiping a smear of blood from his cheek. Where a gash had appeared, to trickle down. He seemed unperturbed by her threats. "NOW calm yourself LADY!" and with those words was a darker power. That thrummed with a crackling of energy. His own pinkish gray light began to fill his veins, he would knock her arse out if he had too. This was madness! He had never, seen her so angry before.

So calculatively vicious, in her attacks upon others. And seeing her throw Leihn, by merely one shove of her hand? That was incredibly ridiculous to the extreme! How had she done that? She was only a simple bard, right? He had never encountered anyone able to do that, kind of magical summons before. Not without some form or aid, incantation or similar! (Well perhaps with the exception of Neithan Elonathesei.)

"I will drink what I please! You are not my husband! Brother, or father, to say otherwise! So back the fuck off! How dare you, dictate to me!" came the nasty little counterattack from Kate, she stared him down fearlessly.

The build up of energy was gathering into her again. The bard could feel it trembling up and growing in strength. Although she really did not want to use an unseen force to hit him with, not so readily. But her rage knew no bounds. The indignation of him, telling her what she could and could not do? Under her own clan banner? Was infuriating!

Oh she would give him a demonstration, like she had with Neithan a while ago, if he kept his shit up! That was for sure. The power of the earth absorbed up through her bare feet easily, just as it soaked in through the air that touched her skin. Her shift wavered and ballooned a little out as the power began to increase more swifter than could be palpable to most. Her eyes flashed with lightening, not stars like most, in the brilliance of their dark stormy ridden discoloration. Furiously she glared at him.

Now both her fists were balled up, and her orbs darted around to survey what else, she could throw within reach. Agrivane went to make a move but she was quicker than he would have given her credit for. This is when the cat literally, came out of the bag. Kate growled and shouted, "Bloud, Ifrinn, Soliel!" as this time she pushed both hands out from her chest so fast.

Coleus Agrivane, had no time, or chance to dodge it. It could not be seen. The energy was clear. Not a single atom, or molecule, of color did it possess, in warning! It was so swift! Unbelievably fast!

Hitting him so hard in the chest, he was sure in that moment (as he was lifted clear off his feet, to go catapulting backwards in a painful blast of it,) that she had made a large hole, through his enchanted chain mail shirt, - but with it, his entire body! Shockingly it had hurt more than anything before had ever managed to do, and Agrivane had been through his fair share of action and mishap!

"Dear Ivura!" declared Eldarweave aghast.

Just as Sorrel exclaimed in ecstatic awe, "Holy shit! She did floor him! Wow" and quietly mumbling under his breath in excitement and enchanted adoration, "She's my hero!"

"My darling princess!" the voice to interject as Coleus sailed past him, was Neithan Elonathesei. The Regent, was completely stunned, as was her father figure who was stood beside him. They had only come through, to see what all the arguing, that had been going on, was about. Neithan flicked a hand, Coleus was halted and gently, landed on some cushions. But he was still terribly, winded, and his chest and back pained him greatly as if he had been placed in a giant vice and the life squeezed out of him.

Yet Kate's unfathomable rage was still in full flow. Abruptly she snipped, at the two elders in a tone that sent icy tendrils down everyone's spine in fear, "What now? Are you to chastise and tell me I cannot do something too? You want to know how? I can do that to your captain? Would you like me to fucking give you, a show too? What? You want a demo? Another one? Forgot about last time, did we?"

"Kate!" hissed Robert in warning. True he had seen his daughter mad before, but not as bad as this. At least he was grateful she did not have a weapon. Like a bow. He still recalled vividly, her shooting the Lord of the DorDinen clan. Any weapon in her hands, for that matter, could make this situation a lot more disastrous. Though to say Trellawny was still highly worried, would have been too poor a description. He didn't quite understand why, she was acting out like this.

"Well? I do actually have a right, to drink what I please. Whilst I am still in my own family's area and that idiot, over there," she pointed fiercely, defiantly with such bitter venom to the Head High Captain, still in a lot of pain as he lay gasping for air, "Tried to tell me otherwise! They, are not my mothers! They are not, anyone who should be even allowed to tell me, what to do – ever! I am tired of everyone treating me, like I am this... fragile child!"

Her arms waved in a motion akin to exaggerated exasperation fueling her anger further. With that Kate grabbed the nearest bottle, that was still whole, and stormed past both, the Regent and her father. Tears brimming in her orbs. Proudly, defiantly and infuriated, in her swift march. In a quick exit.

* * * * * * *

The healer was relieved in some aspects, but in others he felt her pain. Virtually very slowly, her parental unit turned to the other two. With hands on his hips. Cocking his head to the side with exasperation, as he demanded, "You tried to stop Kate, from grabbing a drink? When I had already told her earlier, that she could have one, if she wanted? Really lads? Are you that stupid? My daughter would no take something, out of that side, unless I had given her permission – trust me to that. Sheesh what a ruddy mess! I need to restock my bottles now, and am no even sure, which ones got broken. Dammit all, to the nine levels of Ifrinn!" was his final mournful grumble.

He stared them both down harshly as he added, "Awe am sorry, are you both, hurting? Did she hurt you?" he mocked somewhat more impatiently, "Well good! Maybe teach you both, not to go poking your noses, into other folks business! For goodness sakes lads, get up off the ruddy floor! And help clean up this mess, before you get a real cut! Or something. Or worse, I put a foot up, your arses!" he added testily. With a heaving exhalation of furthered annoyance. Glaring viciously at them both in turn, especially at Coleus.

Neithan nodded to the others as he said firmly, "I want you all, to help clean this disaster, up! And all, your pay will be docked, to replace the items broken, as much as you disturbed the lady's peace and rest time. Make an accurate, inventory of such that needs replacing and it's accurate costage."

"Nah. Don't dock their pay, Neithan." was the reasoning from Trellawny, "As long as they clean it up, and make me an inventory, I'll be happy with that. Besides, I think my dainochre gave them a big enough taster, of her temper! Speaking of such, for now, I had best go see to Kate. And see if I can't get my lassie to calm herself enough, to see some form of sense and apologize? You have to admit, she did react a little o'er the bow mark, with how she treated them so harshly?" was his more frowning contemplative calmness washing over them all.

"Very well, as you wish it Robert, my dearest friend. You heard him, sirs." responded Elonathesei as he sternly viewed his personal guards. Only then turning his face back to the healer saying, "Robert? When you return from dealing with your beloved youngest born, we must continue our discussion from previously. Hopefully, with no more interruptions." in a waspish, yet kind nasal drawl from Neithan, as he began to over see his captains, cleaning up the area.

"Now you lot! Hurry up and get this cleaned up! Agrivane? Do not push my little princess, ever again into perforating that energy of hers!" was his admonishment, as he offered him a strong hand to help him up. "Wind taken out from you, was it?" he mused with a hint of sadistic enjoyment, "Might that serve to remind you. At least she didn't break any of your ribs, or do any worse damage than some nasty cuts and severe bruising..." he added thoughtfully as he watched Agrivane lift his shirt to examine the damage to his chest.

As Coleus twisted he grimaced still. It was still excruciating to move. But doggedly he began to go help his fellow captains in the clean up. All the while mumbling inwardly to himself about the bard. Neithan observantly watched him with a subtle smirking in his features.

Sorrel nudged Bryn and whispered, "I guess Oakley is not so smart, seems he'll be paying out to us both by the end of the week!" and then waltzed off a little too happily to go find a broom to sweep the floor up of shards. Thinking it was well worth having watched that episode.

Oakley whispered to Eldarweave when he was sure, no one else was paying attention saying, "Entertaining says you? Bloody messed up, if you ask me! That Lady is going off her rocker, mate."

"Aye, you maybe right! But you best not be caught, saying that out loud." affirmed Bryn softly as he glanced nervously about to check no one else was listening as he then said, "That was a weird sort of magic she used. Not sure I have ever seen anyone other than our Liege-lord use that, particular kind. Have you? In fact am not even sure, that his Grace has used that kind before. I am just wondering what that would be categorized as, aren't you?"

"Same. And I have no clue, as to what type it might be classified as..." came the disconcerted agreement of Oakley as he then said in even softer, "Do you think that might be, why our Lord is so interested in the bard?"

"Who knows?" he answered as he moved away with an armful of large broken shards of pottery and glass combined. Only too painfully aware that it was one of many reasons.

"Agrivane, when you are done there...and things are settled," Neithan glanced at the bleeding captain. Who still insisted on rolling his sleeves up, to help clean with the rest of them, "Come here a moment if you please? I wish words with you, on a few matters, privately." And it was not a request.

Elonathesei looked aggrieved and somewhat more sterner than usual as he spoke. His tone a mere low rumble of displeasure and unhappiness, despite the calm intonations.

* * * * * * *

"Kate lass, what has got into you, the night? Your emotions, have been all o'er the place." came the soft worried observation from Robert, as he sat down on the side of her cot. Studying her open the bottle and swigging straight from it, for she had no cup to pour it into.

"I am tired tachre. Tired of being told what I can and can't do – that's all. And it annoys me that I can be seen as such a burden. Or viewed as a stupid child! I know Agrivane hates me, and I cannot even begin to fathom or imagine how Dandein, must see me as now. Probably just some stupid woman who acts like a five year old, having a damn temper tantrum, issues. Shit! Even my issues, have freaking issues!" she mumbled miserably. She was not angry with him. Only the rest of the world it seemed. Gulping back a big swig of the liquid and pulling a face with it. Before wiping the top and offering it over to the old healer.

Robert took the bottle staring into it, his brow knotted together like two big furry caterpillars, fighting for space. He was deep in thought about how to tackle this whole situation with his daughter, and it struck him that perhaps, he could just get her to open up. If he cracked a few more bottles with her, maybe. Knowing full well that he could probably hold his liquor, far better than she could. He took a long draught of it, not because he liked it in particular but more, because he wanted. No – he needed her to trust him.

"Lass I know you are miserable, but what you did out there? In the main sectional? It just was not right. You probably need, to apologize to them both. On top of that, I completely understand about the whole, not being bossed about and doing as others, demand of you. But I can assure you that the pair did it, out of concern for your well being, not because they were trying to be mean..."

"I know, but I don't think I can face them, not right now." she mumbled discordantly, unhappily back.

"You need to." he firmly said as he then further added, "Listen, I want you to prove to them, that you are better person than they believe. You told me that you think Agrivane hates you? But I can positively tell you, that he does not. As for poor Leihn Dandein, he wants to be there for you. By your side, as a friend as much as anything else. I have told you before Kate, you have to let people in, once in a while." He took another swig, and passed the bottle back.

Kate gulped some down, twice as much as previously and Trellawny carefully continued to guard his thoughts. About how pleased he was, that she was doing so. Truthfully he also felt a small ounce of pride, at what she had done to the males in the other room, despite it not being conducive to their health.

"Lass, you want my support? You have it! You want me to condone your actions the night? I can do that too, but it doesn't make it right, or fix the damage done. Now I hate to say this, but I was in the middle of an important meeting with Neithan, when all the crap started. So that said, can I get you to do a little something for me? Then I promise you, as soon as discussions are finished, you and I will sit with a few good bottles of stuff, and talk till our hearts are content. What say you?"

"Alright. What do you need, me to do?" came her query a little more stronger and less miserable, as she faced him head on. Using her sleeve to wipe away the tears he had not even seen falling. She had hidden them well whilst keeping her head down.

"Apologize to the two prats, I mean the two, you hurt." he quickly corrected himself. "And help Dandein, getting to feel better – nurse him a bit. Make sure he knows, that what you did was not all personal, on his arse. Show him you are sorry and regret your actions. Understand?" he replied matching her gaze.

Watching her take another swig, then pass the bottle back to him. He took a small swallow but made it look like, it was more. He was an expert at this game, tempted to smirk as he handed it back. "I guess I can do that. But what if I cannot heal him?" the tremor and fear was back in her voice. All her confidence from previously had suddenly been swept up in that insecure thought.

"Then you help him get comfy, till I can get to see, to him." replied the healer kindly. "Nothing more, nothing less. Oh, and you might want to apologize, for your unseemly behavior to the others. Who watched what you did, and have been left as though shot. Which by the way, we need to talk about too. What you did, that is..." came his stern warning kindly, he stood up as she nodded.

Patting her thigh the old healer then said with a smile, "I think we will need something, a little better than this stuff though. The bottles about empty, already." He glanced about and spotted a house robe on the end of her bed and picked it up saying, "Come on Kate my lass. Time to do the right thing, then you can come back here and wallow all you like, till I bring us some good stuff."

Kate got back up on her feet somewhat reluctantly. Her features were down turned and lined with how she was not feeling up to it. Of how much she did not want, to do this, right at that moment. Guilt and shame wrapped her features in a depressing mantle. Trellawny put his arm around her shoulders as he helped her slip her house robe on, over the top of the shift, she had been wearing.

"You can do it. I have faith in you lass. Even if you have none in yourself. I believe in you." he said fondly and kissed her brow before pressing it to his own. "It will all work out sweetie, I promise you."

"Besides, I have to get my music player back – I was thinking maybe listening to some more. Whilst I wait till you had finished your scheming, with Elonathesei." was the softly joking words back at him.

Robert smiled as he said in a low whisper, for her ears only, "Aye well, that be one way of looking at our intimate discussions!" and with this he cackled quietly, "Regardless though, I do need to finish up this business with him. Alone and in person, before you and I can relax properly Kate. So please, behave and no more tossing out the garbage males...." he added more seriously with a hint of sarcasm.

"Hey tachre? What are you both discussing, anyway?" inquired the bard as she paused at the entry way.

"It's a surprise. But am sure, you will love it." he answered honestly.

"Dear me," Kate rolled her eyes with exasperation, "Please don't tell me it is some stupid gift, or more books! Or ruddy stupid scrolls! Because I will be really, happy if I never see of the latter types of parchments, ever again!" was the sardonic sarcasm with further exaggeration as she added coldly, "And please, tell me, it is not a trip to a silly old library, that makes my allergies mess up?"

He began to cackle yet again, his watery eyes filled with a mirthful twinkling of light, "No lass, nothing like that at all! Trust me, it's in no way related to any of that scholarly stuff, you do. So stop asking, because I am sworn, to not tell you!" came his answer as he smirked and put a hand to his heart in mocking delight, whilst he redirected his eyes, to the ceiling of the canopy above.

They both walked back through to the main area once more. With Robert very close by her side in support. Kate bowed low to all present and said clearly and extremely, sincerely, "Gentle-folks, I would like to express, how there are not enough words to apologize, for my most ill actions, of this evening. Please I beg you, accept my apology? And know that I am, truly sorry. Forgive me, please?" and she stooped low in that bow and held that position.

"Apology accepted. Though you need not, have done so." came the suave low drawl of Neithan Elonathesei as he moved forward. Darting looks at each of the others gathered there, "I am sure I speak for all of us present here? When I say how we, are the ones who should apologize? We riled you up needlessly and alas caused you not only loss of sleep, but your temper to be fired."

Kate did not budge as from her bowed position. She merely glanced with this darkened gaze of severity, personally towards Neithan. Eyes piercing through her long strands of hair that was partially, covering her face in that stooped position.

Then the bard stated calmly, "I was apologizing directly, to your captains, my Lord, not yourself. However, if you feel that I have in some way affronted your personage, in some respect over this? Then of course, naturally, I would be more than willing, to make amends and beg, of your forgiveness, also. I am very sorry Sire, if this is the case – it was not mine intentions."

"I see." was Elonathesei's waspishness. His dark liquid amber colored orbs, glittered pensively for a moment before the smile began to return to his features. Actually it was more, in a slight sneer as he retorted with, "Not to mine self, personally. But these good fellows, are mine own, personal guard. To offend them, is, to offend me, my dearest Lady Kate..."

"Then I do apologize unto you too, your Majesty. I had no intentions, as aforementioned, to offend anyone. I realize that mine actions, were both spiteful and unwarranted. I am very sorry Sire." was her come back, and still she kept her position, of head down and bent in half at the waist.

She would not budge, from that humbling stance, not she felt until the captains had accepted the apology for themselves. They did not, always need the High Prince Regent, to speak for them. The bard was well aware of how much she had shockingly hurt them all with her outburst.

"Agrivane? Eldarweave? Sorrel? Oakley? Are you well, with our precious, young Lady's apology?" came the strangely distinctive words. Uncannily they sounded as if, he was daring them to say otherwise. As sternly all those present received an unusually forceful glance, from the High Prince Regent. He gave them each a very unnerving, discerning look as if reading all, their minds at once. As he viewed them briefly in turn. His lips pursed and eyes sparkling with an unusual energy.

Agrivane looked to the other three, who all nodded to him. He was their spokesperson, and none of the others dared to allow it to be otherwise, especially in the mood he seemed to be adopting of late. Therefore it was that he stood tall and stoically replied, "I believe we are all of the united consensus, that her apology, has been accepted by us all."

"Then with that said, I shall ask Oakley and Sorrel to go head out. And gather the evening's reports. Eldarweave I wish that you will aid Agrivane here, in getting Dandein to his cot, he did not land so nicely, as Coleus was allowed... I do believe he has some bad ribs, possibly some torn tendons and muscles to his back, as a result. But then, when you are done, I expect you both on patrol at my pavilion. Until the other two return. Do not forget to collect the ranger's watch rosters, as well as any reports, they may have need, for mine self, to over see." he forewarned darkly. All four captains nodded swiftly, in agreement to their duties and instructions of assignment.

Elonathesei's dark orbs then went back to graze Kate. Stifling in a smoldering of heat, that could not be disguised but was questionable, as in what way it was meant. For indeed it was a look that could have been interpreted, in a whole prolific plethora of mannerisms and different ways. Before he settled into more serene tones of eloquence, as he glanced to Robert and said rather politely, "My dear Robert, shall we go back? Finish the business, we were in the middle of, before the rude interruptions?" But again he turned and took the few steps over towards the woman.

The bard had not moved as yet. Below the mass of hair, her eyes were scrunched tight. The pain of holding her position was unbearable but she was gritting her teeth against it. Fighting back the tears that threatened to spill their silvery course, as the bow continued to agonize her physical frame. She was still in nightgown and house-coat, when Neithan Elonathesei walked up to her. Placing a kind genteel hand to her shoulder, he said tenderly, "My dearest little princess, please rise up? There is no need for you, to bow so low, to any of us here."

"Aye, oh and Kate? When they get Leihn back there? Would you do me a wee favor lass? Can you take care of him, till I am done?" Robert hurriedly reminded her firmly. Casting the bard a quick wink, as she straightened herself back up.

Neithan was still in very close proximity and it made her feel a little nervous, but not enough to show it to any. Her body made a horrible crunching and crackling sound as she pulled herself up to her short height. She fretfully glanced at the elder elf by her side, before looking at her father.

"Yes, tachre." came her slowed deliberate tones. Obediently, unquestioningly. She glanced sadly, mournfully at Agrivane and Eldarweave as they lifted up the paladin-cleric between them, with a little difficulty. Carefully lifting a small hooded lantern that was already lit, Kate motioned to them saying, "Sir Dandein's cot, is this way." Whilst the other two captains left. Dragging her feet a little she went through to the private sleeping area and said politely, "Please, just put him down there? I can sort out the rest."

"Surely you are no thinking, to strip him yourself? He is not a lightweight, fair Lady. And it would not be right, for a Lady of your station, to be doing as such, as striping a male of his garments!" stated Eldarweave in disbelief. "Allow of one of us, at least, to aid you?"

Already Agrivane had grabbed a large bowl and began to go fetch some water and a couple of wash cloths. He was bringing this back in, when Kate replied candidly to the other captain, "No thanks. Besides my tachre, will have something to say about that. I made him a promise. Thank you both so much. But I really can, manage the rest. Again, I am sorry, I hurt anyone."

"As you insist." Eldarweave sighed unhappily. Though he was not going to start to argue with her! He had already seen first hand what her temper could do when her mind was set. He did not want to hear it from his Lord nor Robert Trellawny either! So with that said, the paladin bowed low saying, "Rest well Leihn, I will come call in the morn and see how you are doing." and left to go perform his other duties.

But as Coleus was about to pursue the red haired elf, Kate caught him lightly by the arm. Gently but still strong, she held him. Peering up to him with fearful concern and her brogue softly, lilting in her heartfelt words she said, "I really am very, sorry that, I hurt you sir. You should let me at least tend to your cuts, afore you go. They may still have some glass shards and splinters in them, and could get infected. Allow me to disinfect them, and treat them accordingly, for you."

"I am fine! Do not touch me!" snapped Agrivane, as he knocked her hand aside. His eyes blazing with fury as he added, "I can take care of myself! You should tend Dandein! I am sure out of all of us, you hurt and harmed him, more than any! Do the task that your father allotted you, and leave it be! And do not, speak to me again! Lest it be something of real, importance! Lady you may be by title, but it is undeserving! Your behavior reflects your poor upbringing and true nature of standing, woman!" before storming out.

The bard was speechless. People had called her worse before, and a lot of mean things had been given to her as labels. But for some reason, that knight had cleaved what little left she had of her heart. Her lip went back to quivering, her breath almost tremulous gasps. But he had already gone, and nothing she could say, would alleviate that pain deep down inside, nor the insult and havoc it had wrought to his tough persona.

Agrivane had left her stunned and tears brimming in her eyes once more. He had once told her, he would watch over her and protect her. But Kate knew that was just because Neithan had ordered of it. Concluded that Agrivane ruefully had spoken those brash words in his spiteful disgust, had not been fair.

Especially after he had just accepted her apology for the captains and himself. Which made the bard hold the knowing revelation of the reality. He really did not like her. He too saw her as nothing more than a pain in the neck, a burden. A child, and lower than a serf.

Again her hands balled, as she grabbed fistfuls of her gown material and scrunched it up. There was of course nothing she could do to change his mindset. So, she turned to focus her attentions on Leihn Dandein as she whispered softly to him whilst easing him delicately, carefully out of his vestment first, "You really are a sweetheart – in comparison to that jerk that just left! And Dandein, sir, I am so sorry I hurt you. I was aiming for that captain, not you! Honest! Never you! Because you've always been so kind to me." as the first of several tears splashed down her pale cheeks and hit the paladin-cleric's skin.

He reached up a hand and with an understanding smile, touched the side of her face gently returning, "My dearest beautiful Lady, do not cry! You must not be, so hard on yourself. We are all our own worst, when it comes to judging our achievements and failures or mistakes. But I can assure you now, Lady Kate, I have forgiven you. And yes, I knew it was not meant that your wrath hit me... you are a good kind lady, and I am proud to be in service to you..."

"Thank you," and without a single thought of how inappropriate it might have been, she placed her arms around Dandein unexpectedly, hugging him gently, softly with grave care and tenderness.

He opened his mouth to say something-or-another in protest. The shocking action catching him in surprise. Yet at the same time it comforted him, and made his own secret vow all the more stronger. With the one arm that was not clutching at his bad leg, he held her in turn, then pushed her back with genteel strength stating, "My Lady, you honor and embarrass me."

"Oh, right!" came the frightened declaration from her lips. "Then I guess, I should help you take off that long sleeved shirt you are wearing, so I can see to your chest, and get you cleaned up a little? Right?" there was a weak wan smile with those words. She began to tug at where his belt was, that had his shirt tucked in. Pulling it upwards with a swift strength, he did not see her wince with her own discomfort, but perceived it to be her natural expression from effort.

Quickly he garbled out, "No! No, my lady! I beg of you!" in a hush of fear. But it was too late, she had already removed his shirt. Now staring at his chest, where there was a large pique of red. Resembling sun burn perhaps, only it was the beginnings of deep bruising coming out.

Kate gasped in horror to her own handiwork presented before her. The evidence plain to see. Once more tears filled her lower lids and spilled as she gently pushed Dandein back into the cot with the strangled remorseful utterance of, "I am so sorry, trust me to this....but promise me, you will say of nothing to anyone. I think I can heal you of this. Though you may have to play at being the invalid for a couple of days, so as not to arouse suspicion... Because I can heal, as much as I can destroy – just please don't say anything!"

Again, before the paladin-cleric could stop her she had closed her eyes and placed both her hands to be, a couple of inches above the area. Despite him being well aware that her hands were cold, a deep relinquished warmth trickled and flowed effervescently over his skin. Sensitizing it. Making his body react in a very, unprofessional mannerism, as it moved over his chest. This went on for a few more minutes. Till it stopped. But as he had watched, he had seen a pale light glow glittering oddly, coming from her hands as she had swept slowly, meticulously over the area injured. Had felt the healing and serenity that the energy possessed. A far cry from her angry wrath he had experienced before.

Then she sat back instructing him, "Do you think you can turn over? I need to make sure your back is healed properly too..." Leihn Dandein did not question her directions. But merely turned, just a little so his back was facing her. The energy started up more intense and he wondered why that was? Was she concentrating harder perhaps? Was it because she deemed the injury sustained to his mid-thoracic was more severe? He could not tell, but the power and sincerity of her actions of healing seemed to ease him.

A part of his body was still tingling when she stopped, but at least there was no pain to that area any more. He could even breathe better. Deeper without shortage. However, as Kate laid him onto his back, and pulled off the rest of his arms out of the sleeves, he remembered too late, to stop her seeing the tattooed house-band he had designed and had specially inscribed onto his person. The bards face scrunched up as she peered at it. Squinting studiously and asking, "What is that?"

Dandein's face flushed a little as with a stutter he answered rather lamely, "A tattoo, of course."

"Of what? I have never seen one with a weird inscription like that before...."

"It is a house-band. My Lady Kate, I beg you say of nothing about it to any, and I will never speak of your healing mine person...." was his admission of guilt. As well as attempted blackmailing a bargain.

"Who would do such a horrible thing to you?" was her further anger and horror combined, "That is as bad as slavery!" was the fierce declaration, as she gently, but firmly held his arm, examining the wrist where the tattoo was present. Then she gave another gasp as she stuttered out, "This crest....this crest is of the Trellawny-Snowfell household! Oh my god! Who did this to you? Was it Kennet? My maichre? My tachre?" now she seemed fit to burst. Her face scrunched up with livid fury.

"Nay my gracious Lady, it was none of your family who placed this, upon mine arm." he responded calmly, quietly and with guilt. He felt terrible that he had made her think something so bad, against her own family. He drew in a deep breath as he explained politely, barely audible, "I did this, to mine-self."

"Why? Why would you do such a thing? Why did you house-band yourself, to my clan?" came her high pitched whisper incredulously and filled with disappointing disbelief.

"To always be, with your family. Closer to the one, I have personally vowed to be with, till the day I die. I want to serve you, unwavering. This is my own reasoning and doing." he responded just as hushed as her own voice.

"Who, have you vowed to die for? What a horrible, terrible thing to do and say! What about having a family or your own? Falling in love, or...or..." but Kate was at a loss for words as the reality to Dandein's serious nature and calm tranquility washed over her.

"I shall be honest with you, but I fear it will not go down well, if you should speak of the tattoo." was that serene answer. His expression mutable. The bard nodded, still not fully comprehending how anyone could seal themselves to a person like that. "Promise me, you will say of naught, to anyone else, inclusive of your family members?" he perused sternly.

He received another nod. And deep down he knew, that despite the fact she had only nodded, Kate would not break her word or the agreement of the secret he was about to impart. So then Leihn bravely said, "I am already in love, and I understand, it will never be returned by that object of my heart's happiness." The bard opened her mouth to say something daring in retort, but he gave her a look that silenced her into listening till he finished with, "I do not see that as a bad thing, fair Lady Kate. Nay, I still have the privilege, no, the honor of being able to serve and protect that of my soul and hearts peace. I made a very serious vow unto your wondrous Lady Hope Snowfell, as such.

But, the Lady does not know, of the house-band I placed on myself some months previously. You see, I house-band myself to you, Lady Kate. I am yours, till the day I die. I did this so I could watch you grow and find happiness. To knock the strife and grief from your door. To quench the loneliness and pain that you alone endure without utterance to another. I did this, to prove to you, that there is, someone here, who really cares... I really care, and can think of nothing more beautiful than to see you smile. Nothing more enjoyable, than to hear you laugh. Nothing more sweeter, than be close to you as I can, and be there, when you need it."

Her jaw dropped open in a round. Her eyes blazed brightly, with darkness entwined. Glittering fiercely at this heart felt plead of confession. For a brief moment there was an awkward pause between them. As she just sat there, staring at him. Paralyzed with this declaration of passion of feelings thrown at her.

For a brief instant, even Leihn doubted his own gut about revealing this all to Kate. But he had no need to do so. She snapped her mouth firmly shut and nodded with resolve. Sounding strong with, "Alright. I do not know quite, how to respond to all that reasoning. But I am more astounded than you could even imagine. I never in all my days, believed someone might house-band themselves, to someone like myself. But, you asked me to promise not to say a word. To that I will still stay faithful! I am the one who should be honored gracious sir! I am the one, who should be bowing before you, and serving you, not the other way around. For I am nothing more, than a mere lowly human mortal woman."

* * * * * * *

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Chapter Four: Secrets Out.

"To what you have said, and done, I am at a loss to comprehend at present. But I am also truly relieved and grateful as well. Nothing could make me more happier, than knowing I have friend, who I can really trust!" responded the bard tearfully in joy. Kate's arms instinctively flung around him again and she hugged him, whispering repeatedly, "Thank you, sir. You are so kind and sweet to me! Thank you Dandein, this means the world to me, though I hardly think...you needed to...do that..." between sobs of confused joy and elation.

Even that mere utterance filled his heart with pride and joyous engulfment. After that, Kate helped him get washed and bathed, and handed him a fresh shirt. But when it came to touching and checking his leg he shook his head. Requesting politely for her to leave that, for her father to tend. He did not feel comfortable nor right in expecting her to strip his trousers and greis off.

Of course the bard had protested and told him he was being silly about it all. Yet, on this he would not concede to. Relenting, rather reluctantly, she had agreed though somewhat, disgruntled. Before getting up and making some warmed pads of grain filled socks and placing them around the areas that still had bruising and pained him a bit. Trying to attempt to make him as comfortable as possible. And bringing him a small tea tincture that she made herself, to ease the pain in his leg.

* * * * * * *

When the Head High Captain of Neithan Elonathesei's personal guard had left, he had been well aware that the bard was fixing to cry. It had not taken a genius to work that out. But Agrivane did not care. Horrible person that she was!

They had approached her with reason, and she repaid their thoughtful services like that? Thinking a few mere words, could resolve the injuries she had inflicted! Disgraceful little she-witch! How dare she! The nerve of the woman to think it would make everything all better, by a few tender words, a half felt apology and to wash the gashes and cuts!

Damn her to the nine levels of Ifrinn and back! Unruly, uncouth and certainly not, a lady in his opinion. Coleus had never been this maddened by some person being so oblivious, to others feelings before, not as he was now! Did the so called prestigious bard, not understand how worried, she had made everyone?

How abjectly unreasonable, she had been? How much people were concerned over her well being? Ungrateful and spiteful, disrespectful, willful child, is what, Agrivane labeled her in his mind. Along with a few other insulting adjectives. As he made it outside he was not surprised, to find Eldarweave awaiting him.

Despite the dark countenance he wore, Coleus spoke not a word and nodded at his comrade. They both left. But in his brain he was still, mentally cussing her out. As much as he was trying to calculate out what his Liege-lord was playing at? Wanting him, to protect someone who obviously didn't want him around. And what was with the offer his Grace had given him earlier, that evening?

On top of which, he had been pulled aside by the Regent, and reminded he was still expected to give an answer, and had to be a little more easier going on Kate! He was so tired of all the games. The knight was abruptly broken from his train of thought as Eldarweave said for the second time, only a little louder, "Hey Coleus! Agrivane!"

"Sorry, I was thinking about some stuff." came the guarded tones of the Head High Captain.

"What is going on with you?" was the rebuke from Bryn. "You're acting darker, than normal."

"Why did you want my, attention?" came his powerful stern rebuff. Ignoring the latter comment easily.

"Can we stop at that stall, over there? The Enerihtacs have sugar honey coated walnuts, almonds and hazel nuts. A couple of bags of those are good on the road, and nice snacking. Will not be able to get them till we reach Nairn." explained Bryn nonchalantly.

"You and your, damnable sweet tooth!" came his bitter admonishment, then the Head High Captain, rolled his eyes with exasperation. Stating icily, in a snipping bark of annoyance, "Well go on then! Hurry up! We have work to do. Remember? Just make it quick, Bryn!"

"You want any?" offered Eldarweave congenially, as he rummaged inside his jacket. Single handedly pulling out a small drawstring, fawn colored coin purse, opening it to see what he had available.

Agrivane drew a deep breath in submission, as he nodded saying, more reasonably, "Sure, why not? Grab me some, roasted sweetened hazel nuts, and walnuts. None of those stupid almonds – they always tear me up." He pulled free some coins, from his own trouser pockets and passed them without looking, into his counterpart's awaiting hand. "Just, don't take too long, Bryn. Alright?"

"Aye, will no be long. I'll catch up with you, if you go on ahead?" smiled the other paladin in agreement and he raced over to the stall, he had been talking about to place the orders.

Leaving Coleus Agrivane to march once again. Fiercely fast as he could, to carry out his orders of checking all the patrols, making sure all was safe. He was quite a ways from the Trellawny-Snowfell pavilioned tent, when Bryn Eldarweave reached him once more.

This time handing him a large paper like bag. He gave it over, it was still warm, and some change too, from the purchase. The redhead, himself was carrying three more. "Nothing like these, on a cold night." grinned his stocky counterpart. With a twinkle of mirth. Tucking two of the packets under one arm, and tearing the other open a bit.

"Good grief! How can you eat, so soon after that meal, Bryn? Sometimes I think there is more ranger to you, than there is to, Adrian!" admonished his superior officer as he glanced at him. Watching the fellow companion, stuff a handful of the sweetened nuts into his mouth. "I am beginning to see why Adrian likes to have the same nights off, as you do. You probably go to gorge yourselves, stupid! You'll get a belly to slow you down, you know – if you are not careful, Eldarweave." came his further warning sincerely as he eyed him up with malcontent.

"Awe you are just jealous! Probably because I do not need a trim waste, to do my thing. Heh. I will have you know, you might be a little more happier if, you ate something else, other than a couple of meals a day." he retorted with a subtle laugh. Happily he grabbed another fistful of his purchase and popped half of them, into his mouth yet again. Chewing with vigor. He was already down, by a third of the bag and barely looked like he was even swallowing, the damn things.

"Perhaps I would? It is however not your business, and it is hardly the point! We have patrol to do and patrols, to sadly organize. Best head over to Trebor Khelndi's first, and speak with his folks. See if any sentry has been implemented." Pointed out Agrivane, who had not slowed his relentless pace. As for the small bag of sweet roasted nuts of his own? He had tucked that, in to some unseen pocket inside his jerkin. He would eat them later, when he could relax and enjoy them.

The reason he only was seen eating one or perhaps two times a day, is because he was always so busy. He was the Head High Captain, and that job in itself, held a lot of responsibilities. He certainly had not obtained his position or status because he was lazy! But he much preferred to eat in private. If it was known that he had on several occasions, ate more than five times in a day, (whenever he could because he burned off energy quickly,) he would be the one compared to rangers...

* * * * * * *

The wind began to gust on and off, making the pathway bitterly cold. Whilst they marched onwards to the far south end, by the trees. Here the trodden down path grew wider, and opened out to view the contest fields far below, as they reach the crest of the hill.

On the other crest just by the eve of shadowy trees on the furthest side, was a bright twinkling of fires burning. At least a dozen or so to be precise, surrounded by tents pitched in a haphazard, unruly way. There was no actual organized view to how they were set up. Just clusters of small tents, in varying sizes. Grouped together with the odd fire burning between them.

From where the two captains stood, they could see the rangers in the area milling about – seemingly aimlessly. Performing a variety of duties as well as carousing around some of the campfires or similar. By the time the captains had crossed the darkness of the first field, the sounds of merry making were loud and a stark contrast, to the wind's howling, cold lament.

Following a subtly smaller wound pathway, which had been well trodden, the pair entered into the tiny hollow. There was at least a good fifty if not more, rangers here. Collectively under the Khelndi banner that was flying high on a central skinny tree limb. Precariously wavering in the air.

Several of the rangers stopped and paused to see who had entered in. Then upon noting the sigil armbands the two wore, nodded or waved in friendly recognition. One small ranger in particular, (probably a trainee,) ran towards the largest tent, which was surrounded by lesser sized ones. He ducked and disappeared under the low awning. Only to re-appear a few seconds later, with a half dressed Trebor Khelndi. He was pulling his trouser ties together, with a shirt over his arm.

His naked chest sported a large tattoo that covered his left breast. And both his upper biceps had Celtic knot-work bands tattooed in a bluish green encircling them, like cuffs. He paused to finish what he was doing, having given them both a notary glance. Then began pulling his cream colored baggy sleeved shirt on, disguising the tattoo he had on the left breast of his chest, which was a sigil of his family, in dark blue. Various other symbols were entwined in a mandala like pattern around it tastefully. He kept yawning, his piercing bright blue eyes regarded them looking rather sleepy.

Trebor Khelndi yawned and stretched to crackling of bones, again. Just as Agrivane reached him with the stoic greeting of, "Evening Sir Khelndi. I came to find out, if you would volunteer some of yours? For watch and if so, which quarters would you like them to take?"

Another wide yawn escaped the elder elf, as he rubbed his eyes a little and peered at both the paladins stood before him. In a sleepy haze he said, "Ah, you need the watches done, yes? I left Ebon in charge of sorting that out, afore I retired. It has been a long couple of days for me. And it seems tomorrow is going to be, an even longer day – again." he explained with a subtle smile of weariness.

He squinted and stifled another yawn from escaping. "Forgive me, rest has been in short supply this week."

"And Ebon would be where, exactly?" inquired Eldarweave politely.

"You know, am not exactly sure? One moment." stated Trebor candidly as he turned his head and yelled out to a small group of rangers, who were cooking by a near fireside, "Oi, any of you know where Ebon is?"

"Aye uncle!" replied a large Shadoin who rose up from his crouched position, "He is over by the horses. That mare is about to birth, said he would see to her personally."

"There you go. He is apparently, by our horses." smiled Khelndi as he once more faced the captains tilting his head slightly as he spoke with a subtle smile. "Which is in... that direction." and he pointed to somewhere just off, from the main cluster of tents. "Now if you'll please forgive me gracious sirs, I wish to retire for my second attempt, at some rest..." and with that he gave off a light chuckle.

"Thank you, and I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you, Sir Khelndi." came the brief words of Coleus as he nodded and strode off in the direction indicated by Trebor. Leaving Eldarweave behind. Sure enough as he rounded the collection of tents and even more groups of rangers he heard a voice. It was a deep rumble of vibration yet it sounded, above the whinnying of the horses. It was soothing and kind, genteel as it spoke in low murmurs.

* * * * * * *

Having finished their business with setting up patrols and such that was requested of themselves, the two captains trudged wearily back, to Neithan Elonathesei's pavilioned tented arena. Then posted themselves, to either side of the main entry way. Relieving the four knights concurrently awaiting.

Having placed the reports needed already inside, of the main construct for such things. Sighing Agrivane wondered how much longer, Robert Trellawny and his Liege-lord, would be conducting their business? – whatever that was. Unaware of what was now transpiring within the Trellawny-Snowfell campsite.

Although for the most part, his face and features were solemn and stoic. Coleus found it difficult to contain the thoughts that were rampantly, niggling and searing, through his brain about the days events to come. Along with a myriad of those, which had already passed. He blew out a long stream of air. He was on the listings tomorrow, his family team had put him in charge.

They were going to be working with the Trellawny household in the games for agility. He gave off a heavy exhalation. At this rate he would be too exhausted to play. And despite everything, this was one part of entertainment that he really did enjoy. He put his hand inside his jerkin to pull out a small vial tincture, only finding there was something more softer stuffed in there. Instantly his hackles went up. His skin prickled with energy and his eyes flared wider a fraction. The favor. The favor that Kate Haggis had given him during the first lot of main games! Had he really been carrying that around this long? Gritting his teeth he wondered whether he should burn it?

Especially after the evenings horrible incident with her showing him she could floor him and make a laughing stock out of him! He glanced to his fellow companion, as he pushed it back down and fiddled to pull out the vial from it's entanglement. Catching Bryn briefly turning glancing at him with concern, before quickly facing the front.

"I wonder how Dandein is doing? She hit him pretty hard, to make him fly out like that." commented Eldarweave casually, in the silence of the night air to his counterpart.

"No telling." was the swift rebuking answer from Coleus. He did not want to discuss this. Not here, not now – not ever! And certainly not, with another captain! He had been highly embarrassed at the mere factor that he had been thrown, let alone that Neithan Elonathesei had prevented him from being catapulted into the hard floor and furnishings.

Oh how he wanted to smack Kate hard across the face for that humiliation! He felt his anger rising and bubbling like a simmering cauldron again. Outwardly he kept his expression as neutral as possible only his eyes darkened slightly, to show he was not impressed. He fumbled to pull out the stopper of the vial, glancing at it briefly, as if it was responsible for his humiliation.

"It is almost daylight already, and we've been on duty since early evening. I think Trebor was right, it is going to be another, long day." remarked Eldarweave airily. "Our Liege-lord certainly has a lot of reports, piling up on his table. They will have to be sorted, afore he attends, any games. Some days you know, I do not see how he copes with all the running of things, like he does."

"Only the important ones, that have urgent need, for his attentions. I do believe Sorrel and Oakley prepare them. Sorrel is particularly good at sorting out a vast majority. And Oakley is good enough to make sure, that the necessary are prioritized, accordingly. And our Regent manages, because he has those in positions he trusts, such as ourselves." was the bland return of conversation. Agrivane was glad the subject had been changed from Kate to something more, mundane to be honest.

His temper was slowly abating. Though his mood remained remarkably, soured by the incident. Having now undone the stopper, he swigged back the ounce of liquid without a second thought. A quick tonic to revitalize his own sagging energy levels was all he needed. Then he shoved the cork tightly back in, and thrust it into his pocket. Sighing heavily again. Heaving another deep breath as silence then engulfed the pair on duty. Staring straight ahead with only the odd peripheral observance of his fellow captain.

In the distance a subtle rumbling could be heard. The ground felt as though it was trembling, and building up with the same. Slowly it appeared that the rumbling was growing louder, or closer.

Yet, that was nothing compared, to what was about to break the cool atmosphere of contemplation and peaceful amicable standing, between Agrivane and his fellow captain.

It was to be short lived. Very short lived to be precise.

For as Coleus's dark eyes scanned the area, he saw Oakley bolting towards him.

The ranger was ahead of a mass of other rangers. Who in turn, were also running in panic it seemed. Adrian Oakley's cheeks were bright red with running so hard, as he yelled, "RUN!! RUN!! Get out of the way! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"

Now the noise of people running and screaming, as well as the thundering sound. Which was so loud it rang in an unwelcome cacophony, to their ears. So that they had to literally strain just to hear, what Oakley was shouting at them. Agrivane stepped away from his post and grabbed Oakley harshly, pulling him to the side of the oncoming crowd of rangers, who were also fleeing as fast as they could, obviously terrified. Demanding, "What the Ifrinn is going on?"

"I am not sure, but the mountain started rumbling!" gasped his fellow ranger captain, "Then there was this huge plume to the north east! Then a huge mass, started heading towards this valley! We have to get out of here! It is too big for any of us to stop it's course!" yelled Adrian back.

As he yanked his arm away and began once more, to run down the thoroughfare shouting for everyone to wake up, and get out of the trail of devastation, being wrought in havoc, further up the valley floor. Heading in their general direction.

"Eldarweave! Go! Now! Get our magus together! I will grab our Liege-lord and warn him! HURRY!" barked Agrivane as he shouted to his passing back, "We'll meet at old Trellawny's! His tented area is up on the hillside. High ground will be safer!"

"RIGHT!" agreed Eldarweave loudly, as he sped away and disappeared into the onslaught, of those who were joining in the mass exodus, out of the main bottom of the valley floor.

Now the Head High Captain had to push his way and dodge the crowds of rangers and visitors, who were rushing past. With what they could carry and racing to get out of the way, of the approaching disaster. He himself pushing hard mostly uphill, in the opposing direction, of those masses coming down.

As he pressed forward, being shoved and literally having to fight his way through, to get where he was going. Sure enough, the crowds up here, as he suspected, dwindled to almost non-existent. He was now yelling again. In between catching his breath in the cool air, "DANDEIN! MY LORDS!"

No stopping, Agrivane continued to move forward, on the steeper incline upwards. As he reached the pavilioned area of the small provincial clan of Trellawny-Snowfell, several of the knights posted were looking at him, with grave concern. He ignored them as he stormed into the tent, which was still well lit. To find both Neithan and Robert sipping tea, in front of the fire. With a small map laid out between them with tiny stones, laid in various placements.

At this interruption, Elonathesei stood up. Halting Agrivane from any further progress, as the old healer quickly rolled the map up, with stones and all, shoving it hurriedly into a scroll tube of birch and leather. His face grim and unrelenting. His watery grey pensive eyes, darting a rather malicious look towards the captain, for the unannounced, interruption.

"My dear Coleus, what is all this noise making? I thought I placed you on duty elsewhere, till mine return?" came the calm dulcet drone, of the High Prince Regent kindly enough, in placation.

"My Liege! There has been an incident! The mountain to the top of the valley, apparently has erupted! A large flow is on its way here, even as we speak!" he managed to gasp out in a rush of explanation.

Instantly Neithan's face straightened with shock, as he nodded stating, "Go fetch Dandein, and get a couple of the knights or paladins, to come aid him being carried to safety. Robert?" he spun swiftly on his heel in an elegant twirl of purple and black robes, "See if Kate is still awake? Wrap her well, grab what you can. We must leave – immediately!"

But the man in greens was already ahead of him on this. For he had left the chambered off main receiving room. Picking up his sword with the elfstone as he passed by. Only to disappear behind one of the many tapestry curtains, that operated to separate the sleeping and private quarters. Agrivane grabbed two paladins and instructed them to go pick up Dandein as of immediately. The others were told to grab supplies and what could be easily carried.

Now, up until this point, the multitude running for their lives, could still be heard. Distinctively enough to know, that something terribly serious was going on, further down the slope in the main context of the valley floor. From the front view point, of that porch styled awning, now came another sight. A horrifying and deadly sight, to greet the onlookers eyes! At first it was hard to make out in the darkness before the dawn, for it was still quite a distance from the main area. But as it grew closer at a speed which was unbelievable, it left the onlooker paralyzed with fear.

For it surely traveled at a rate, that could not be outrun by beast or other. There was a mass of dark flow already heading into the high tops of the trees and climbing, even the steeper opposing side, of the valley. Several clumps of rangers were attempting, to get the animals up to where, the hills cut out, the side of the area.

But the sound was deep and it vibrated and rumbled louder than any thunder in its course, further up and gaining ground to where those by rangers helping the animals were. Even now, those watching from the Trellawny-Snowfell area, heard nothing, it had not quite reached them as yet. At which point, Eldarweave, exhausted came up the hill with five others, declaring, "These are all the magi I could find! The others have fled already...." puffing and panting with the mere exertion as he bent over and tried to recapture his breath.

Yet Agrivane's sight was trained off in the distance, he did not respond as he stood there his eyes squinting to the furthest hills. Finally Coleus said in a quiet ominous voice, "I think, we are too late...."

Now a silence descended. A deadly silence. Normally the sound of frogs singing, or some kind of nocturnal creature would have been heard. Now there was nothing. Not a bird in the sky. Nor a chirp. Even the air felt heavy and still. Smothering in its embrace, of the large encampment.

A couple of stray horses, a few scattered deer, broke that momentary stillness, as they ran confused out and away from the majority, of the complex tents. Then a new rumbling could be heard. On the farthest horizon, to the south-west of the fields.

There a large voluminous object filled the air, almost to the clouds itself. It was flecked with bright sparks of red and golden orange, as it moved in a wide expanse. Rolling down the narrow area with such speed, it was unbelievably fast! The velocity of it's travel had almost covered a third of the long stretch of valley already and was higher than the pavilioned tent was up on the side of hill.

* * * * * * *

Kate emerged out with her father and glanced to that pyroclastic flow of mud, lava, water, boulders and toxic fumes headed down towards them and in a very unusually calm accepting soft brogue filled voice she said with a sigh, "Well, seems I was saved from all fates, just to become some twisted version of Pompeii. Doesn't that just beat it all? Necromancers could not finish me off, so a volcano is going to do it instead – nice... At least I have my friends, and more importantly, I have you dad, when I go this time." In one hand she limply held her dagger still in its sheath. "Ah well, should have known this kind of thing would happen to me sooner or later. Been dancing with death for a whiles now..."

"How can you be so calm?!" was the hoarse whisper of Dandein as he glanced at her disbelievingly. But all he got in turn was a genteel smile and a soft shrug of her shoulders. She reached over to him, and took his hand. Holding it gently, softly, warmly in comfort.

Robert hugged her closer, wrapping her in his arms and closing his eyes tight. Knowing there was no way they could out run that! Not even someone on horse back, would have had a chance, he summarized. He too feared the end was nigh, and just clutched at his daughter for all he was worth. A shuddering breath slipped his lips and he kissed the top of her head with the whispered tender words of, "And I can think of no one I would rather be with my wee precious lassie, when our time is up..."

Neithan shouted out in sudden alarm. As he too came out and took stock of the situation, for they had not even made it off the platform. Surely, no one would be able to, make out from the devastating pathway it was cleaving? Not even those who had already made the mass exodus out of the valley. The cost of lives would be exponential! And Elonathesei reallydid, care about his people and those in his charge. Each and every single one of them! He would not lose a soul, if he could help it! "Gather to me! NOW!"

Everyone who heard him. hurried to his voice, including Robert ushering along his daughter. Everyone which included Agrivane and the two guards carrying Dandein, between them. The ominous bilious formation that resembled a coal black ground cloud, with heat, was flattening and destroying everything in it's path. There was no time, to contemplate what had to be done, as Neithan lifted his arms up in the air with his eyes scrunched tightly, in concentration. There was a whooshing sound of air. But his spell of transportation was not done, as yet.

All those with him appeared by his side on top of another hill. Before he closed his orbs once more and as a white streak formed from the roots to the tip, of a small inch wide patch of his locks near the front. Then the whole of the rangers festival occupants, of all types and races vanished from sight. Transported in less than the time it counts to two seconds. As the hill shook violently to the onslaught of havoc headed towards them.

Just in time too, as the pyroclastic flow continued on to tear and burn it's path, now through the edge of the trees. Only barely slowing down as it hit the sides of more hills, and larger mountains. Finally coming to a complete stand still, by Nesis Falls culvert.

Phallach forest had however been set alight, in it's passing. Around the edges it simmered and steamed with mighty flames. Carousing the heavens with long plumes of smoke, sizzling into the pools that surrounded a lot of the larger, wild sentinel trees in the area. Yet fortunately it did not penetrate much past a quarter mile into the edge, of that vast ancient woodland.

Meanwhile, Neithan Elonathesei had flickered in and out of existence several times, in a hazy representation of static, till finally he had fully, physically re-appeared. With all of those who had been in attendance, at the games. Crumpling to the ground, he collapsed. Completely spent and exhausted. The white streak in his hair grew thicker. Almost tripling in width as it made its course, and large white lengths of his locks. Down the sides of his head it also began to appear. His face pale and ashen over the endeavor. Turning a light grayish hue to his skin.

Robert released Kate who had been clinging to him, and gave out a cry as he rushed to his aid. Kneeling down and instantly beginning to loosen the High Regent's shirt with the words, "Someone get me, some ruddy water! Hurry!"

Surprisingly it was Kate, who despite being pushed back twice, forced her way to the front, and knelt down on the opposite side of the Regent. She knew it was bad. Knew that for Neithan to collapse it must have been an unfathomable, amount of energy expenditure. Kate understood that he had saved everyone's life, at possibly the cost of his own. This saddened and angered her all it the same time.

But still, she remained remarkably in control of herself. For the bard understood, he had gone beyond even his prowess of allowance, with such a magnitude of casting magic. The woman seemed calmer than anyone else around her, as she checked his neck for a pulse. Almost detached in her emotions bravely, before putting her ear to his chest and sighing with relief stating, "Tachre, his heart is still going. So why, is he not breathing?"

"I don't know lassie. I don't know!" snipped the healer as exasperatedly, he called out demanding for water yet again. Panicking that he was going to lose Elonathesei at this conjecture.

But Robert's daughter pushed his hands off of Neithan saying, "Water is not, going to do it dad! But I know of something, that might. Do you trust me?" And her eyes pierced him with a seriousness and conviction that he could not deny her. Her mind had already gone into autopilot. There was several skills she instinctively knew she could do. Skills she had practiced for years in secret, since her childhood. Secretive abilities, that even perhaps the elder elves were not fully aware that she was in control of and still used latently on and off.

"Aye, course I do." his words staggered back still filled with panic. He implored her with his grief filled watery orbs. Not exactly sure what it was Kate was going to do, but trusting to the fact that she had never said she could do something, if she did not feel a hundred percent sure that she could. Well, at least not in such a matter of severity as this was. He was shaking and desperate.

"Good, then stand back!" she returned and taking a deep breath, she started to give the Regent mouth to mouth. Breathing for him, much to many onlookers shock and protest.

He had no choice, Robert held them back with their outcries of protesting and threats. Rather heatedly saying, "If anyone can bring him back, I would bet my daughter can! Let her do, what she knows how to! I beg you all! Give her a chance!"

Having given him mouth to mouth no more than five breaths, Neithan spluttered and inhaled on his own, but he still did not appear, to be regaining conscious any time soon. The bard frowned then heaved another deep breath as if, coming to a firm conclusion. Mentally Kate was considering using a working, she had once performed on a small pet red squirrel in her youth. It was a small chant, that the fair folk, as she called them, had taught her. It was either that, or channel some healing into Neithan like she had done before for her elder brother, Kennet Snowfell.

She heaved another deep breath to steady her nervousness about doing such a thing. Had she not been periodically warned not to ever do that with witnesses? Had she not just expressed to Dandein, that she did not want others to know? Perhaps, she quietly reasoned within herself, she had no choice? True she was a bard, and perchance her other skills were denied at even existing as a result. Yet, that did nothing to perturb her mindset. Kate knew what she had to do. She had to do what was right. And if it meant being punished later, she would take that risk for Neithan. For she did love him dearly and owed him much more than anyone could even possibly realize.

Glancing worriedly at her father, as Kate then said, "Sorry, this can't be hid forever – someone was bound to find out, sooner or later!" Clapped both her hands together hard, just the once, rubbing them vigorously fast together. Then placed one over his head, the other over his heart. Just as a pale blue light began to channel from her left hand down into his head, with a strange misty gray, light being drawn into her right.

Robert Trellawny had looked terrified and gasped, "No Kate! No! Don't do it! Lassie! No!"

A little too late. For she was already getting prepared to do so. He could feel the subtle seep of energy coming up and gathering softly, genteel and serene around her form. He could do nothing to stop the wheels of her ability turning in motion. Nor would he be able to tackle those who were clustered, in a tightly pressed throng around them, from murdering her.

The bard continued with her eyes lightly, closed in concentration, between that effort she whispered softly, "I know I can do this... Let me do this – for him. Neithan always has done, so much for me. It is the least I can do to repay his kindness..." and she scrunched her face tighter. Channeling as hard as she could with as much energy as she could transfer into him as well as healing. Kate wanted this to work. Maybe it was her sheer force of will, as she pushed her spiritual energy into him that had brightened the flaring aura, to a brilliance in pale silvery blue that caused, those gathered to vehemently protest with outcries of indignance.

But she loved, the Regent. More than she was ever caring to admit, at this stage. It was not just a lusting, not just a gratitude. It went further than that, but perhaps that is a story, best left for another time...

"WHAT the Ifrinn, does she think she is doing!" screamed Eldarweave lividly at Robert, and the paladin drew his sword in his protest. Heading straight as if to cut her in half! "She'll kill him! How dare she touch his Grace, with her witchery!"

"NO, no she will not! It is nothing evil! I so swear it!" came his defense to her aid, "I have seen her do this before!" affirmed the man in greens as he stood and barred Bryn fearlessly, from getting any closer.

Even other paladins, knights and rangers were looking mortified, at her actions. In fact many were drawing arms and for a brief second or two, Trellawny was afraid not just for Kate's life, but his own. He surely could not fight them all off. An arrow from some crossbow flew past, thankfully missing it's mark of either Kate, and himself. To land hard into the packed earth by her side.

"He is right." croaked Dandein loudly, from close by, "My dearest brother-in-arms, listen to me! Our Liege-lord is in very good hands. I so swear that, by the sacred living flame of Ivura! Lady Kate is a bard, and even bards have a magic of their own, which they can use in times, of grave need or peril! I have had a great deal of experience in this matter. Trust me, no harm will come of this. I tell you no lie. When I say in honesty, I have seen her heal, her brother, Lord Kennet. With this, very same, essence. Think about this carefully. Lady Kate would never harm of our High Regent! She is honest and loyal...she loves him to a fault!" was his fearsome remark. He sat himself up, despite the pain in his leg, and grasped for a sword, as though he would stand and fight back the hordes.

As soon as Bryn Eldarweave heard those words, in particular the reference to essence, he halted and gaped. Staring in disbelief. For as far as he was aware, the Regent had not awoken her yet, had he? His sword arm lowered limply, for he was paralyzed in his stunned mindset. He stood still unable to move as he watched her in that dawning, realization. Trying to figure it out, of how she had awoken herself. Too lost for any further speech. Dumbfounded and unable to do anything other than gawp at the bard who was working so hard, even now, to save the High Prince Regent. The gravity to her words, of wanting someone to trust her suddenly, striking a hard chord in his heart and soul. Filling him with shame.

Yet obviously not everyone was convinced to this. Another arrow, this time cutting a shred of her nightgown coverage, thudded hard into the ground, narrowly missing pinning her leg. Scratching and nicking the skin to draw a thin line that welled red with blood.

Surprisingly it was the Head High Captain, who came to the rescue over this potentially volatile situation. "He is right. I hate to say that, but Lord Trellawny, and Sir Dandein are right." growled Agrivane as he drew his own long-sword with the words, "Everyone, put your weapons away! Or you will deal with me – personally! I mean that – it is not just a threat, it is, a promise!" And in his free hand a large ball of energy appeared.

His own magical energy glimmering faintly in the lines of veins and arteries in his free hand as he took his stance protectively. Ready for anything. He hated to admit it, but during that long 'debriefing' Neithan had held with him, he had explained about Kate's innate abilities and about the fact that the bard would never harm him.

That her intentions towards another were never meant to harm, but to protect, nurture and heal in all areas. As much Coleus did not like her, he knew that she was honestly doing this with love. It was a very strong emotion that was deep and what was pushing forth her force of will in order to save the elder elf. Even he recognized that much, not just as an accomplished knight, but of someone who was quite capable of spirit sight and able to read another's intentions easily, long before they were aware of themselves. He was also under a vow to protect her, regardless of the circumstances. He may not have readily agreed with doing it, but a vow was something he was way too honorable to ignore and not fulfill.

Coleus took a rather large gamble standing with his back to the bard on one side, sword and magic in hands facing off the masses. The Head High Captain was not unnerved, he was reservedly concerned however at how long this process of reviving his Regent might take. Again, as he stood there, prepared for anything. Alertly watching those surrounding them on that bleak hillside, he felt angry. But this time it was towards his own blatant stupidity of not realizing before what a really, caring person the bard actually was.

How special she was and valuable she could be, with such uniqueness.

He was beginning to understand the comments he had heard from others and his Liege-lord moreso now, than before. Why had he not noticed it previous to this? He had no clue, but blamed his own prideful arrogance. For that alone had blinded him to the truth with it's ignorant stature wrapping a hard thickened wall around his view points.

Yes, he would defend her. For Neithan Elonathesei's sakes. After that though, he was not sure, in which direction to feel for her exactly. Perhaps he was only really doing this, so if her methodology worked he could still maintain his good standing as the faithful knight who always kept his promises. Or maybe there was another reason, that as yet he was not fully aware of.

Whichever it was, he could not afford to think upon it as of the moment. So he kept his stance of preparedness. Eyes darkened and alert. Magical working in one hand, and his sword defensively in the other. For unlike most mages who could cast, he was not limited to just having to concentrate on it. He could multitask. Able to fight and swing a sword just as viciously whilst he cast. Usually it was either one or the other, not both at the same time. It was something he was proud about, because it had taken him a couple of ages to master. His magic was battle magic, mostly. He had of course learned some courteous spells too. Like enlarging items, cleaning things, basics in those areas, but for the most part, his magic was particularly offensive as much as it was defensive. Possibly more of the former. Quickly he darted a fleeting look to the bard, still working on the High Prince Regent. Still he observed the bard.

Kate was still channeling the bright color. Which was moving and flowing with tiny sparkling golden coppery and silvery, glittering particles, threaded through it. What was being drawn back up into her own right hand however, was murky and seemed, muddied and dirty.

Every now and then she would fling her right hand out, and shake it. As if it ached and hurt, beyond measure. Or she was trying to throw the dirt, off her own self. Whilst this was going on, and several crowded round to watch, in an awe inspired huddled mob. There was still several mummers of discontent rumbling around too.

"Shut your noise! All of you, unless you want a sampler of my wrath, for your palate!" threatened Coleus Agrivane even more angrily. His scowling countenance was more than enough to silence several. His ball of energy flared and enlarged with his words of stern warning.

Again the bard, shook off the dark grunge from her right hand, and went back to scrunching up her face tightly with concentration. Causing her energy to brighten in washing waves. This is when the old healer timidly groaned, "I am more concerned with where, Neithan placed us all. Have you any idea, how hard that is to do, safely without losses? To just cast people to somewhere, without any prior, thought to it? We have no idea as to where, we are exactly. We need to find out."

Robert slowly turned and faced Sorrel commanding firmly, "Grab some rangers and a couple of our gallant paladin lads there, and go scout out the turf for us?"

"Of course my Lord Trellawny. As you say." muttered Sorrel and he barked out the orders.

Next Oakley pushed forward stating, "I will have a watch set up and sort out food supplies, and see that any one else who may have been injured, is tended too."

"Aye, you do that – thanks Adrian." came the grim smile from Robert as he then glanced at Kate then up to Eldarweave, "You should go help with that Bryn, please? Agrivane and I can take care of Neithan if he should awaken." offered up Robert kindly but sternly nonetheless. Giving him no room to argue. Eldarweave was not happy with this request but nodded reluctantly as he left to follow Oakley.

Agrivane sighed heavily, "How long, will she be doing that?" he whispered from the corner of his mouth somewhat impatiently to Robert. There was still quite a crowd watching. And still a lot of discontented or angered murmuring going on which his ears were picking up. His orbs darted about, trying to see who was being the mongers of hatred.

"Have no clue. When she healed Kennet a whiles back, it didn't take long. But then his injuries were only physical and not that severe. This is magically self induced. Perhaps it takes longer with the type of wound inflicted or where it is at?" he replied honestly. Robert Trellawny's eyes were also trained on those who were still close around them. It was quite a cohort that Neithan, had teleported out of the disaster area. There had been, from what Trellawny knew, nearly five thousand rangers at the games, with about almost a thousand guests from various areas too. To say he was worried, was an understatement.

* * * * * * *

Portals were different from mass teleportations, as the wily old healer knew. The latter took a lot more energy and usually, a lot more organization. It was a highly risky undertaking, what had just been performed. Still it had miraculously, worked. Almost six thousand people had been blinked onto the mountain side. Swarmed and collected like ants, Trellawny thought.

Although he was grateful all were safe, he had to wonder at what cost to Neithan this had taken? It was beginning to feel like Kate, was taking forever. Either that or whatever she was doing, was not working. As both Robert and Coleus eagerly watched, in awaiting anticipation to her stopping at some point, the crowd begin to drift.

As some of the other Captains started barking out orders, several left their vigilance. Ebbing slowly away with boredom or due to being called, perchance maybe even at the fact that nothing seemed to be happening, perhaps? Leaving only a couple of dozen or so behind, to continue watching with morbid fascination.

Suddenly, unexpectedly there was a more noticeable, loud inhalation, from the bard. Her eyes opened and she looked solemnly down, at the prone form of the High Prince Regent. She crunched her face as she scowled pensively at the prone elf before her. Almost huffing a little in annoyance at first.

Kate Haggis of Trellawny-Snowfell, withdrew her hands back to herself and rubbed them together. As if to ward off pain or coldness. Intuitively she knew it had worked, but perhaps she needed to recite the words she had found and memorized over the years, to awaken him? Words that only a clerically trained person who was capable of resurrections, should know? Words that were ancient and old beyond the years of count here in this pocketful of existence.

However, she had not learned those words from any book, scroll or watching and listening to others. Had not acquired them through her study of other people and their profession. She had been gifted them, by the fair folk as she had called them.

Though she had never met them personally during her youth running rampant in the hills and glens of Scotland. Just very aware of their presence. Every now and then she would visit the standing stones hidden on her family's property and leave them gifts. Only to find strange inscribed paper written with instructions and words she could naturally speak fluently…

Having had her swear to secrecy what they would let her be taught. Sacred knowledge that their race had given to her. Nor had she realized how important those tidbits of knowledge would become in her own sphere bubble of reality. They had left the glens at some point, but still the lessons they had imbued upon her as a child, she held and cherished. It had not been till in her latter years she had fully understood the magnitude to how blessed she been to be imparted with such teachings.

Having made up her mind as she sat for a few seconds frowning she sighed. She had no choice. It was not like her past meant anything here anyway, she felt. So then she leaned forward towards Neithan, smoothing back the singular lock of white, on the top at the front of his hair, and whispered something-or-another in his ear, that no one heard, save for the Regent himself.

Elonathesei opened his orbs a little, it was barely detectable, but he glanced at Kate. A soft smile flickered briefly, across his features. Taking a very deep breath, his eyes opened further and were filled, with a bright glittering of stars as he reached up a hand endearingly, tenderly to the side of her face. A face that was pale but now evidently relieved, at his awakening. For the words had worked and this had been only her second attempt to use them. With both her own hands, she held his there and closed her own with relieved gratitude. A solitary tear wandering down her cheek.

"Stay still Neithan, you stupid bugger!" admonished Robert rather harshly. Towards his friend, the High Prince Regent who had tried to sit up, yet seemed pained in doing so. Trellawny roughly pushed him back down, using his satchel to place under his head. "You just did the ruddy impossible! Are you really that quick, to shorten your tree rings? You daft aphid! What the Ifrinn am I, going to do with you? You ruddy twit!"

A subtle chuckle escaped Neithan as he glanced over to Robert and stated quietly, as if mocking him, "Oh the stars and trees forbid, that I be, that selfless! Besides, your most beautiful daichroi, has seen well to tend me. I only have a small ache, in my head and neck, left. Probably from when I hit the ground. I note, you didn't catch me...my beloved brother-in-arms...."

"Good grief! You're a moron! A real ruddy prat at times, I so swear! I have a remedy for that, in my bag!" snapped the man in greens back. "Get your fat noggin, off my satchel and I'll fish it out for you. You are already back to your old ruddy self, by the sounds of it! Didn't knock any extra sense into you then? Damn shame that is..." was his hot retort almost playfully. "Seriously though, am just glad your breathing and revived a bit."

Obediently, Elonathesei began to rise up a little, Kate swiftly sat behind him in a supportive role. Which Neithan did not seem to mind one bit. Despite it obviously ticking old Trellawny off. For Kate was still only garbed, in her white nightdress and a simple shawl, wrapped about her form. She was shivering with the cold. Her dagger, was still lying by her side, where she had placed it, before attempting to heal the Regent. Yet Neithan Elonathesei was hiding his smirk, that rose up into his sparkling eyes. Eyes full of mischief. Slightly goading even, as he laid his head back into her chest, briefly casting Robert a sidewards glance. Feigning to swoon on her a little.

Kate gave out a little gasp of panic, "Oh no! My Lord!" she peered down at him closer, as he faked his faint. Fear filled her heart, maybe the words had not worked properly? Was he going to go unconscious again? Kate was terrified that she had failed in her under taking. Leaning down to peer at him more intensely. Doing so pressed her chest further into him. Neithan pretended to revive with that.

Robert had clearly saw that, knowing it was Elonathesei being a git, as he really did know the elder elf better than most. He growled as he searched his bag. Only to produce a small vial of yellow, corn colored, liquid and stating, "Here drink this, you old bugger! This should help." He gave the elder elf no more than three drops, with the cup of water. (Which Agrivane had handed over to him. Eyes watching very intensely all that was being done.) Elonathesei pulled quite a face as he drank it down, again with Kate's tender aid. Then closed his eyes, content to just lay against, the woman. Her arms tentatively wrapped about him and face full of severe concern. Robert half suspected that his elder counterpart, was acting like an invalid, just for Kate's attentions. He was playing her – even if she could not see it.

Somehow that bothered the parental infused elf, rather greatly. Trellawny's face twisted up awfully with the building up annoyance, that this was causing him. Almost causing him to growl out loud, this time. His watery grey eyes narrowed intensely with murderous darkening, towards the other elder. Who was even now, currently leaning up against his youngest child. As if he couldn't support his own weight at all! What a charlatan! Thought the man in greens angrily to himself. Finally after a few more seconds of just crouching in front of the pair, Robert Trellawny could hold his impatient fury back, no further.

For he grabbed Neithan rather roughly by the arm and grumbled with disgust, "Oh for the love of the trees man! Get the Ifrinn, off my, lassie! The stars and trees all know, you've a penchant for playing her, with your dramatics and antics! Thought you were wanting to be king no a queen!"

Β 

* * * * * * *

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Β 

Related Stories

Comments

Please login to post comments on this story