Monday, June 2, 2014

The Thief, the Warrior and the Princess. 6

Today was one of the worst days in the life of Rowyn Syndra Windstar, princess of Pelordra. It had started easy. Simple as a matter of fact. She woke up, dressed and  greeted her father King Philibar Windstar. They had breakfast on the balcony of his palace in Pelordra. Philibar was the ruler of a elven nation of sky elves. Sky elves were a race of winged elves created in the early days of Keanna when Aramis went by the name of Vitale. They were created as forest elves but were favored by Alee the sun god after he fell in love with a beautiful elven maiden. As a gift, Alee granted her and her descendants with the gift of flight and certain avian attributes.
Sky elves were tall, thin and strong with different colored feathers on each elf. Rowyn had blue feathered wings with black stripes. On her head she had white hair with light blue feathers. Lovely elven features, the long ears, red lips and bright eyes. She wore a pretty blue short dress with lace up sandal.
Sitting at a backless chair, Rowyn ate a lite breakfast of fruit, breads and vegetable while she waited for her father to come down to eat. All around her birds of all types flew in and ate the crumbs she spread out for them.
Hearing a rustle overhead, Rowyn watched as her father sailed down from his tower to join her. Closing his wings on his back, King Philibar smiled, kissed his daughter and sat down pushing his plate away.
"Not hungry?"
"I've been up for hours." He said. "I'm really not hungry."
Rowyn looked at him surprised. Sky elves were always hungry. It took a lot to power the wings on their back. Something must be wrong.
"What is it father? I can tell when something’s bothering you."
Rowyn looked into her father’s brown eyes. He looked exhausted. She wonder if he had gone to bed at all last night. Philibar looked up at the cloud beneath the rim of the city. Pelordra was called the cloud city, but it was actually built into the side of a mountain where they could fly in and out easily. The city had been established here centuries ago after a war with a nation of Dark elves. There were no roads that led to Pelordra. They wanted the city to be someplace walking or marching troops could never reach again and they found the perfect spot.
High in the southern mountains of Fay Shrea on one of the highest extinct volcano peaks, there was a catacomb of caves. Over the years these caves were expanded and molded into a towering city few other than the sky elves who lived there had ever seen. This was Pelordra and the city called Windstar. Its elven people lived in the caves and all around the mountain top with very little use for anyone else. There they worshipped Alee and tended to Lanayh, the little forest valley that sat in the volcanic bowl where they lived in harmony with nature. As all elves drew their magic from nature, trees, lakes and the land, Sky elves drew their power from the birds and other animals that lived in their forest. They shared their life force with the life of the forest.
As Rowyn watched Philibar he stood and went to the balcony and looked out at the mountains around them. The sky was a beautiful shade of blue with cotton clouds hanging all around the mountain. But Rowyn was sure her father hadn't seen any of that. He had a distant look in his eyes; she wondered where his mind really was.
"Father."
He just stared off into the sky not hearing her.
"Father!" She called louder. "Where are you?"
"I'm sorry Blue jay." He turned smiling at her. "I have a lot on my mind today. A king's life is never easy."
"Neither is the life of a princess." Getting up, Rowyn went to stand with her father. "I know something is bothering you, I can help if you share it with me."
King Philibar frowned for a moment looking into his daughters’ eyes. She was very wise for her age and capable of some amazing magic. Maybe she could help.
"We have a problem." Philibar pulled two chairs from the table. He pushed one over to Rowyn and sat down on the other. "Three days ago while flying through Lanayh, Daylor and I found something that disturbed me to my core. We found a dead unicorn. It wasn't just dead, it had been butchered, it's horn removed and not by an animal. Nothing here would dare kill one of the sacred animals. The cuts were to even, to precise. Someone had somehow made their way into our forest to hunt. A few days later, Daylor and I again went out to check the forest and found two dead satyrs with another dead corn. They looked as if someone had chased them down, cornered them and hacked them to death with swords. We searched for hours, all night but found nothing. Then last night Daylor went out by himself to see what he could find. I found his body this morning, dead like the satyrs. Something has invaded our home and I need to find out who it is."
"Daylor?"  Rowyn cried. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.  She had known Daylor all her life. He was the one who taught her to ride unicorns.  They had been promised to each other for marriage since birth. "How can this be? He's dead?"
"His body is below wrapped and ready for the funeral rite." King Philibar told her sadly. "I'm sorry Blue jay, I know how much he meant to you. I'll have his armor brought here so he can be prepared to go into the Life tree for his final rest. But I need someone I trust to investigate the killings. I can't send warriors in; it would be violate all our laws for Elven warriors to fight anything in Lanayh. But you’re not a warrior. You have magic that can help find out who's behind the killings."
"And once I find out who it is." She asked. "What do I do?"
"I don't have to tell you what to do." King Philibar leaned forward to look her in her blue eyes. "You are the royal princess of Pelordra. Our family has lived and ruled here since Alee showed us our new home. You do what you have to to protect your home. Just do not break Alee's law and kill in Lanayh."
"I understand Father." Rowyn stood and kissed her father’s cheek. "I will not disappoint you. I will make Pelordra safe again."
"Rowyn." King Philibar place a hand on her shoulder. "There's one more thing. I found this with Daylor's body."
He reached into his cloak and pulled something out and handed it to her. It was a silver dagger. It looked old and used. In its hilt on one side there was a cracked sapphire and one the other side the stone was missing. It didn't look sharp at all. She touched it and ran her finger along its dull edge. Whoever owned it could only use it for stabbing but it could help her find its owner.
"Thank you father." She smiled. "This will help."
Spreading her wings, Rowyn leaped off the balcony and into the sky. She let the wind fill her wings and flew back up through the towers back to her bed room. There she collected her bow and quiver, a healing potion just in case and a cloak to wrap around her to hide her wings. Sky elves were unique, not seen very often and you can never tell how someone might react to the unknown. With her things collected, Rowyn went to the royal kitchens and gathered some rations. Not knowing how long this might take, she took enough bread, vegetables and wine for four days, then flew off into Lanayh to begin her search.
The forest of Lanayh was beautiful filled with oaks, maples, elms and fruit trees. There was a small pond and a lake with water nymphs that played every day. Being enchanted, almost every flower and plant could be found in all forest lands in Fay Shrea and Pelordra was no exception. Roses, lilies, pansies and snap dragons of all colors filled the fields and glades. There were two different temples in Lanayh. One to Alee and the other to the earth goddess Rhea who helped create this haven for the elves. This was one of the most peaceful elven places in Fay Shrea like the glades of Eventide and Aspara Bough, the home of the fairy queen. Each with its own different magic and enchantment.
As Rowyn set herself before Rhea's temple, she bowed to show her respect, then walked out onto the beautifully tended lawn. She sat down, folded her wings to her back and took out the dagger and looked it over. It was an old weapon made for a much bigger hand then hers. Bigger than a Human or Elf, maybe an Orc or a Goblin. There was writing along the edge of the dull blade. Rowyn looked at it closely. She knew this language.
"Rega ut kil, uruk ut e'ga" Rowyn read. "Love to die, kill to live."
This was the language of the Orcs. Rowyn would know it anywhere. That meant, Orcs had somehow made their way into Pelordra. But how? There were no roads that climbed the mountain and as far as she knew. Orcs couldn't fly. The only way left would be some kind of  transport spell and Pelordra was supposed to have wards to keep such spells from working. Could Pelordra's magic be failing or could the Orcs have found some way to override their wards? Whichever it was there was two ways she could go from here. She could either wait to see if they returned or, she could try a location spell.
Waiting would mean they would be back to hunt again. She didn't want anything else here to be hurt so she would have to try locating the owner of the dagger.
Placing the dagger on the ground in front of her, Rowyn sat back and began to concentrate on the spell she would use. There were two ways to go about this. She could just try and transport herself straight to the Orc who owned the dagger. But that would be dangerous. Besides the fact that the transport might kill her because of the wards, suddenly appearing in the middle of a group of deadly Orcs would not be the smartest thing to do. But what if she cast the spell to lead her to the owner instead. Then she could find out exactly how they were getting in to Pelordra. This seemed the wiser of her choices.

HERE TO THERE, WHAT'S LOST IS FOUND.
THERE TO HERE AND ROUND AND ROUND.
LEAD ME ON TO THE OWNER RIGHT.
LEAD ME ON, SHOW ME THE LIGHT.

As sparks of magic gathered around the dagger, it rose up off the ground and hovered in front of Rowyn. Getting to her feet, Rowyn gave it the final command to start it's search for its owner.
"Go find your master."
Spinning around, the dagger took off and flew out into the forest. Spreading her wings, Rowyn leaped into the air to follow keeping the dagger well in view.
Over Rhea's temple it flew on pass Alee's temple. From there it went out and over the lake and into the fruit trees. Maneuvering through the trees it flew on into a set of hills and the ridges of the extinct volcano that housed the elven city. As Rowyn gazed down, she saw the side of the mountain with its crags and ridges. It was spotted with many dark spots she knew could only be caves. They were not caves dug out to house the populace. If elves lived here, the whole ridge would have been carved in a decorative fashion. No, no one lived here. In fact it didn't look like anyone had ever been here before.
Dropping down into the floor before the cavern wall, Rowyn gazed up at the walls all around her. There were walkways and ledges all along the ridge. And each ridge was dotted with dark areas. Leaping up, Rowyn flew up to a higher level. There she realized the dark areas were caves. Hovering in front of a cave on the second level she saw the dagger spinning while it waited for her to catch up. As she approached the dagger, point first it streaked down into a dark cave. Adjusting her pack on her back, Rowyn looked back at the sun and said a little prayer to Alee and flew on into the cave of darkness.

As Alea made her nightly ride across the dark sky, Niro lay under a huge oak and dreamed haunting dreams of fighting in Sorrowdown’s arena. He tossed and turned as he fought battle after battle in the hot sands. Then after the fighting was done, he would be chained and beaten and raped by a laughing Grimmer. He dreamed of screaming in the night from the pain and the hate he had for the city that was once his home. Then in shining armor his father charged in and ripped him loose from his chains, gave him a weapon and fought with him side by side in the arena against unbeatable odds. Just as they thought the fighting was over, a spear came out of the shadows and pierced Vibius heart and he fell as Niro woke screaming. Jumping up with his axe in his hand, Niro looked all around for an enemy to kill. Finding nothing in the quiet night, Niro sighed and sat down to relax. So much had happened to him in the last year of his life. He lost his home and his family, he had been made a slave and his body had been tortured in unspeakable ways. But he was free now and all that was behind him in horrible memories and an exciting future stood before him.
The first part of the future was to begin here somewhere. He had to find Pelordra, an elven city here in Fay Shrea. But where in all of Fay Shrea was Pelordra? He had never heard of it before. Niro knew it was here somewhere but where? North, east, west or south? Should he head deeper into the forest, up to the mountains, to the coast or underground? Were they dark elves, forest elves or sea elves? Niro had no idea. He had to find someone who could give him a clue as to where Pelordra would be.
Climbing to his feet, Niro tucked Stormfury into his belt and went to get his horse from the field where he had left it grazing. It was a beautiful tan horse with a white mane and socks.
"Aiya my friend." Niro reached up and stroked the horses forehead. "We may have a long journey ahead of us. I think you deserve a name. Something strong with meaning. How about Akhrua. It means warrior."
Akhrua neighed and stomped butting his head into Niro's hand searching for a treat. From his bag, Niro took one of the apples he had picked earlier and fed it to Akhrua. While the horse munched, Niro placed his bag behind the saddle then climbed on and urged Akhrua back out on the road deeper into Fay Shrea.

It was dark as Hodgodde Fearfist quickly picked his way through the forest outside of the entrance to the underground Dark elf city of Katar. He had taken a commission from Midoa, emperor of Sorrowdown to steal certain elven jewels from the royal house and get them to Sorrowdown. Hoddie had made his way in through the dark underground tunnels past many monsters, guardian beast and warriors to the gates of the city. With stealth and skill he slipped into the city pass many guards and city citizens, through the dark cobblestone lanes to the walls of the palace. Looking left then right to be sure he hadn't been seen, Hoddie donned special gloves and a cloak made by dwarven magic to camouflage himself. After stretching, he started climbing the wall to the first balcony. These would be staff quarters. He peeked over the rail to make sure the apartment was empty. It wasn't. In the bed slept a young maid. Quietly Hoddie hopped the railing and made his way to the door, opened it a crack and looked out. The hall outside was dimly lit by glow orbs. From what Hoddie could see, whoever lived here had to be very rich. The hall was very richly furnished with silk and satin drapery. The chairs and tables were made from highly polished oak and mahogany. On the floor there were rugs woven of a golden colored spun wool. He smiled. This was not what most Goblins lived with but he could get to like such surroundings.
His next move was to get out of the staff quarters and to somehow get to the royal treasure chamber. He knew there was no way a Goblin could make it that far. Somewhere between here and the chamber, there would be guards and if he was spotted they would be on him in seconds. He would need a disguise and that was what the cloak was for.
Moving back into the bedroom, Hoddie went to the sleeping girl. He took off his cloak and carefully laid it over the sleeping slave. Triggered by the warmth of the sleeping girl’s body, the cloak began to glow. Satisfied that the magic was working, Hoddie carefully took it off her and slipped the hood over his head and wrapped it around himself. As he gazed down, he saw that he now had the appearance of the girl. With dark hair and pretty brown eyes, she had a very sensual figure and a sweet smile, Hoddie hoped this human female could get him where he had to go.
Opening the door, Hoddie stared out. He passed a few girls who looked at him strangely. As they moved on he watched the way they moved, the swaying of their hips. That must be what attracted their stares. He walked like a Goblin. But Hoddie had been using the cloak for years. He was use to imitating others and mimicking there ways.
Like the maiden he now resembled, Hoddie made his way down the hall swaying his hips in a seductive way. From the slave quarters he went down the hall and up the stairs to the floor to where the offices and throne room was. As he looked in on the master of this house, Aeson Revsen sat surrounded by elves in noble attire and argued over some piece of land somewhere in the underground city. Nothing to concern Hoddie. His objective was on the next floor where the valuables would be found.
Moving on, Hoddie made his way down the hall to the next set of stairs passing by two elven guards talking in the hall. One stopped and turned to look at him. For a second Hoddie was afraid he was going to reach out and grab him. That would mean trouble. While the cloak could make him look exactly like the person who last wore it, it could do nothing for his voice if he had to speak. That was why the girls form was so dangerous.
With a smack on his back, the guard turned his attention back to his conversation and Hoddie quickly moved on. Finding the staircase, Hoddie looked to make sure there was no one behind him then he started up the stairs. Quietly step by step, he slowly made his way up. There were no voices coming from above which meant no more guards which he thought to be strange. He knew this floor would hold the treasure vault so there should be guards up here somewhere. But if there were no more guards, then Lord Revsen must have some other kind of security up there.
As Hoddie reached the top of the stairs, he looked around. There were two glow orbs set for light on each side of a circular room with two doors. There was only one way up or down, that meant if somehow his presence was detected, he would have to get out the way he came in, and he would have to pass the guards coming to find him. His cloak would be no protection for even a maid would be stopped.
The entryway to the treasure room had no furniture. No tables or chairs, no tapestry or wall hangings. Just two great steel doors. All Hoddie had to do was get across the room and somehow get the doors open. But that wouldn't be as simple as it sound. Between him and the door, there had to be at least twenty feet. The floor was covered from the stairs to the door with a pattern of lines like a maze. As He stood there thinking, Hoddie realized the pattern was more than just decoration. He reached down and touched the floor and felt heat radiating up from the pattern. It must be elven magic. Elven magic is a lot stronger than most Goblin magic but some Goblins were still very sensitive. Closing his eyes, Hoddie switched to a more sensitive mode of vision. As he opened his eyes he gazed down and looked at the pattern. Nothing had changed, no magic showed in the lines but he had a feeling that one touch and his raid would be discovered.
Stepping lithely on the first line, he felt the magic run up his legs. They tingled like a thousand pin pricks stabbing into him. Carefully he went on moving down the line  through each turn and twist. As he moved, each step became harder and harder until the sweat ran down his back. He knew he couldn't stop, if he did the magic would over take him and he would be caught.
Pushing on, Hoddie made the last turn and stepped off the pattern right between the two doors. Dropping down, he sat for a minute to rest. He listened for any sign that he had been discovered. There was nothing, no bells or alarms, no sound of armed elves rushing to the vault. After taking a rest, Hoddie stood and examined the two doors in front of him. They were large steel doors. Hoddie knew they had been built by Dwarven hands. That meant a completely different magic if any. As he examined the lock, he realized they weren't magical. With the lock picks from his kits, Hoddie carefully worked on the door until he heard the sound of the lock clicking open. With a sigh of relief, he pulled the door open and stepped into the vault.
All around him in the vault, there were piles of gold, diamonds, rubies and almost every kind of gem ever mined. There was armor fashioned from silver and gold, rings, bracelets and tiaras. There were cups and dishes made of precious materials and all kinds of riches spread all over the room. Hoddie smiles and rubbed his hands together. He had done it! He had broken into the vault of one of riches elves in Fay Shrea. Now all he had to do was find what he had come for and get out of there.
Emperor Midoa had hired Hoddie to steal for him three jewels called the Stars of Fortis. The Stars of Fortis were three gems. A diamond, a ruby and an emerald the size of a fist. It was said that the man that could control these gems could even control the gods of Fortis. Only the superstitious would believe that tale but he didn't care what Midoa believed as long as he paid him the price they agreed on.
Digging through mounds of gold and chest after chest of jewelry, he finally found a silver box the size of a loaf of bread. He sat down on the floor and took his picks and started working on the lock. In his expert hands, he had it open in less then a minute. As he opened it, light shined out putting a glow on his smiling face. One by one he took out the three gems and held them to examine them. Just as he thought, they were flawless. Placing them carefully back in the silver box, he put them in his pack and turned to leave. As he took his first step out of the vault, his foot made connect with the pattern and he started his way through the maze and freedom.
Covered with sweat and exhausted, Hoddie took the last step and started down the steps back through house Revsen. As he walked, he thanked the gods for his luck. All he had to do was make it down one more floor and back in to the slave quarters where the ropes for his escape still hung.
As he passed the throne room, Hoddie heard great laughter. With no one watching, he stopped to listen at the door to see if there was any more secrets he could learn. After all, gossip was a thief's best source of information. They just might be talking about something that interest Hoddie.
"So the city burns you say." There was almost joy in Lord Revsen's voice. "What of Emperor Midoa? Did he escape?"
"Midoa is dead." Someone said. "I saw him die by the hands of Vibius Herkulas, one of his old generals. He was stabbed in the heart and his body was thrown into the pit to be trampled in the escape of slaves."
Lord Revsen burst out in laughter and ordered wine.
"Bring wine!" He shouted to one of his maids. "This is a cause to celebrate! Midoa and his land of degradation is no more. All the Elves, werewolves, vampires and humans that died as slaves in his barbaric games can now rest in their graves. Let's pray no one like Midoa ever gets to turn another Keannian city into a center of slavery. Here's to freedom!"
"Damn" Hoddie started away from the throne room. This was bad news. With Midoa dead, he would have to either put the Stars back, or find himself another buyer for the gems.
Sneaking down through the house, he made it easily to the room of the sleeping maid. He took a gold coin from his pocket and pressed it into the girls hand and he was gone out of the window. With Midoa dead, he would have to find another very rich patron to buy the Star. In all of Fay Shrea, he could think of only one place to check. The one human city in Fay Shrea, Black Hallow. The city of thieves.

As the silver dagger sailed through the dark cave, Rowyn stayed close behind following every twist and turn the dagger made. She dodged between stalactites that hung down from thew ceiling and passed pillars the reached high. She saw underground waterfalls with pure clear sparkling water that ran into deep rivers and crystals that glowed brightly the caves darkness.
It wasn't long before Rowyn saw some kind of soft light coming from ahead of her. Slowing down she reached out with her magic and grabbed the dagger before it could get to far away from her. With gentle fluttering of her wings she turned a corner and found herself in a great domed chamber. Looking around she saw a huge light in the center of the chamber. Such beauty shined all around her from the crystals that looked like stars in the night sky. But what was the light? Where was it coming from? Flying in closer, Rowyn hovered over the glowing orb to examine it.
Whatever it was, it had to be some kind of magic because it wasn't fire. She didn't feel any heat coming from it. She knew it couldn't be a star. Though it did look like one, she knew this wasn't what she saw shining down at night. It must be some magic she had never seen before. As she looked at it, she felt the dagger in her hand trying to pull away. It wanted to go to the light. Could this be some sort of magic door? Could this be how the Orcs were getting into Lanayh? There was only one way to find out.
Stuffing the dagger into her sash, Rowyn said a prayer to Alee then opened her wings and dived straight into the light. As soon as she entered the light, sun shields dropped down over her eyes to keep her from being blinded. A warm feeling spread through her entire body making her feel stronger than usual. In just a few seconds she felt the coolness of the night around her. She had made it through the orb and come out, somewhere else. As Rowyn looked back, she noticed the orb she had passed through was much smaller now. Instead of being the size of a door, it was now less then half a foot in length. To small for her to pass through. She wondered how the Orcs could possibly make it through to get in to the cave. And where was she?
Looking around, Rowyn knew this wasn't Ardia, land of the Orcs. She saw tall oaks and elms. There were huge mushrooms and beautiful gossamer willows that could only be found in on place. She was somewhere in Fay Shrea. That was the only place gossamer willows grew.
Spreading her wings, Rowyn took off into the night sky with the dagger at her side to lead her on her search.

In a camp to the east of the gossamer grove where the orb of light sat, Bruego D’aruk fitted the last horn he had collected the night before from Lanayh onto the ornate handle he was crafting. It had taken him a few visits and many dead unicorns to find the exact right unicorn old enough and strong enough for what he wanted. And what was it he wanted? After years of trying to take control of Ardia, Bruego was now convinced he had been wasting his time. Even if he could do battle with Yagar E'mrak and win, he would have other enemies lined out and waiting their turn at him and sooner or later, one of the would defeat him. It would be much better to seek out somewhere else he could rule with little or no competition at all and he had just the perfect place to start. Goblins. They were not as strong or as smart as an Orc. Their lands held riches far beyond that of the Orcs, and it wouldn't matter to anyone if he used them in his battles to take as much of Fay Shrea as he could get. All he would need is a weapon powerful enough to bring the Goblins to their knees in front of him.
Bruego knew no physical weapon would do. There were magical swords and other weapons that could be of use, but getting them would be near impossible. None of the Salvation weapons would be useful to him. By their nature, they couldn't be used for conquest. And like all the Dragon talismans, they were in the hands of the Dragons and their allies and out of his reach. So what other magical item could he get? Queen Nuala's wand would be perfect, but the army that protected her home, again was more then he could hope to handle. Lord Larins cane? He wonder what had happened to that after his defeat. Its magic of coercion was just what he needed. If he had it, a simple spell might turn the Goblins will right over to him. Unfortunately, Bruego had no idea what had become of the cane.  The Dragons might have it or King Valkar or the Werewolf king Tof might have it. Wherever it was, it was lost to him. His only other choice was to make his own magical weapon, and to do that, he would need something powerful to start with like the ashes of a phoenix or a unicorn horn.
Bruego, having spent years being taught by Gorak Ra 'Enar and he knew that a unicorn’s horn like a dragon tooth or bone held great amounts of magic and could be used to fashion a very powerful weapon. Deadly spears and daggers had been made in the past with the tip of a dragon’s fang or talon and wands of enormous power from unicorn horn. With the right horn, he knew he could make such a weapon again. It had taken him a number of trips into the last sanctuary of the unicorns, Pelordra to kill the right unicorn. A male older than one hundred years of age with a horn that looked as if it were made of pure moon light. Legend had it that such a horn if taken at night under the right moon could be made into a devastating weapon for good or evil. It had taken him weeks. He went in under a new moon, a half moon and a crescent moon and killed. His first was a young unicorn with a pearly horn. His second was older and male but the moon must have been wrong because as soon as he took the horn, it crumbled in his hand. His third trip he ran into trouble. That was the night he met the Sky elf and surprise him with a bolt to the back. Anger at being discovered, Bruego slashed and cut the elf to pieces, just like he had done to the satyrs that tried to protect the corn on his second trip.
On his later trip, Bruego had a feeling that night would be different. The moon was full and shined down on Lanayh almost giving it a glow. Wisps of the will floated around giving everything a ghostly appearance. Bruego stalked into the night staying quiet to keep from giving away his presence. He saw nymphs dancing at lake side and satyrs chasing after them in their nightly games. Bruego wanted to raise his bow and send shaft after shaft into them, then howl at the moon but they were not his target tonight.
On a hill just beyond the lake where the nymphs danced, he settled himself down to wait. He knew the unicorn would be attracted by the innocence of young nymphs, and he would get his chance at his prize. His wait wasn't long. As the mist slipped in to cover the grounds around the lake, a beautiful nymph danced across the surface of the silver lake. Her frail dress was almost transparent made from the spray of the splashing waves. As she danced back and forth weaving her hypnotic spell on the satyrs that watched from the shoreline, a proud buck of a unicorn came walking through the glade to the lake. He stopped for a second as he caught the scent of young innocence in the air. He turned toward the lake and got his first glimpse of the natural beauty of nature. Stepping out towards the lake, the unicorn started humming a mesmerizing tune to go with the movement of the nymphs dance. With his eyes and his mind focused on the nymphs's dance, the unicorn trotted out to the edge of the lake where he continued his song. Everything in the forest sat still as Bruego watched and listened to the scene at the lake. It was like some hypnotic wonderful sight out of fantasy right there for the world to see. Then suddenly a strange sound cut into the song of the unicorn. A whisper, a whistle as the bolt from a Orc crossbow streaked through the air and ripped into the chest of the unicorn. It reared up on its hind legs and screamed out its pain and last dying breath, then fell dead at the edge of the lake.
As Bruego leaped out of the forest to the dead carcass of the unicorn, the nymph dived down into the water. The satyrs watching on the shore all scattered back into the forest and the only sound left was the sound of laughter as the Orc slit open the unicorns head and ripped out its horn. Seeing the glow of the magical horn in his hand, Bruego kicked the dead unicorn out of his way then went back to the orb and the safety of his camp.
Now with the horn ready, and the mystical carvings all set, Bruego was ready for the last step in his preparations. He stepped out and placed the horn down in the center of the intricate diagram he had drawn in the clearing. Backing away he waved to Nurm Greyrot his Goblin aide to come to him.
"Yes Master?" He said. "Is all ready? What should I do?"
"All is ready." Bruego sneered. "All I have left to do is cast the spells to make the wand my own then Kranko Fearfist nor any other will be able to stop me from ruling over all the Neither’s in Fay Shrea. I will be master of Fay Shrea!"
"Yes Master!!" Nurm hopped around in glee. "And you won't forget your faithful Nurm when you kill that nasty Kranko. You will make me the leader of my own clan."
"You just make sure I am not disturbed." Bruego kicked at Nurm. "If anything breaks my concentration, I won't be able to cast this spell again until the next cycle of the moon."
"Yes Master." Nurm moved away to let his master work his magic.

It had been three days Hoddie had been on the road to the Thieves city of Black Hallow to find a buyer for the Stars of Fortis. He was tired and hungry, he needed rest and something to eat. After stopping and setting up camp, he went off in the forest to hunt. With three fat rabbits in the bag on his back, he headed back to his camp to eat. Hoddie knew he was deep in the forest far from any roads, there shouldn't be anyone else out here but him. He pushed his way through to the edge of a clearing where he could get some sleep. Suddenly off in the distance he heard something. Someone was there. Sneaking  out to peer through the bushes, he found an Orc and a Goblin he know to be a sniveling weasel talking by a fire. Being a thief and a trader of information, Hoddie listened in on what was being said. That's when he heard a name spoken that he was very familiar with and found himself interested in what the two were talking about. The Orc spoke of Kranko Fearfist, the overlord of all the Goblins in Gaymere, the land of Goblins and Hoddie's own father. Kill Kranko? Hoddie was pretty mad with his father over his objections to his profession, but he damn sure wasn't about to stand by and let and Orc and Nurm Greyrot murder him.
Taking the bag off his back, Hoddie reached to his side and slid his sword from its scabbard. He watched as Nurm walked around to the other side of the clearing, then pulled his cloak over his head for camouflage. Nurm was a sly untrusting rat of a Goblin who had fought with Kranko many times, but he was also a very dangerous fighter. Hoddie knew Nurm would use any dirty trick he could to fight him. If he wanted to live through this fight, he would have to be very careful.

As Bruego started his spell, something in the shade of blue fluttered down to land litely on a tree branch. With the dagger tugging in her hand, Rowyn dismissed the spell she had put on it and stuck it in her sash. As she watched the Orc, his hands moved in arcane circles over something laying on the ground in front of him. As Rowyn looked down, she was shocked to see what it was. It was the severed horn of a unicorn. She saw red as anger filled her heart. She had found the one who had killed Daylor and the unicorns of Lanayh. From what she saw, he was a mage. Good she thought. He better be a damned good one. As she listened to the Orc and his Goblin talk, she learned of some strange plan he had to take over the Neither races of Fay Shrea and make himself some kind of king. She knew if he was able to finish the spells he was working on the horn, he would have a weapon that might just be powerful enough to make his dreams come true. There was only one way to stop him. She needed to stop his spell and get the horn away from him.

Like a thief in the night, Hoddie stepped out with his sword in hand. His hope was to sneak up on Nurm from behind and strike him down then put his dagger in the Orcs back. It wasn't a very honorable plan, but for now it was his best hope.
Slowly and carefully, Hoddie crept out towards his opponent. He was just about there, three more steps and Nurm would be taking his last gasp of breath. As Hoddie raised his sword, something dropped out of the trees and made Nurm turn.
"Master!" He screamed. "We are under attack!"
Throwing off his cloak, Hoddie dived in to jab at Nurm's chest. With his rusted sword, Nurm deflect the blow and sent his own series of thrust and jabs at him.
"Hodgodde Fearfist!" Nurm snarled as they circled.  "You cursed son of a jackal! How fortunate I should meet you here."
"And a good thing to Nurm Greyrot." Hoddie snarled. "I heard your plan. My father should have killed you when he had the chance,"
"Yes he should have." Nurm laughed. "But worry not. I will thank him when I stab this very blade through his chest when I take his life from him."
"I think not!"
As Hoddie rushed in, his sword weaved and spun at Nurm pushing him back into Bruego as they fought.

With her hand raised, Rowyn sent a blast of magic at Bruego interrupting his spell casting. He looked up just as she flew down sending another blast at him.
"Murderer!!" She screamed as her feet touched the ground facing Bruego. "You invaded my home, killed the sacred unicorns and killed my fiancée! You will pay for your crimes!"
"Damn you fucking elf!" Bruego grabbed Nurm and pushed him at Rowyn then grabbed the horn. "You interrupted my casting. Now I must wait and start again!"
"Not if I can help it." Rowyn stood next to Hoddie with her hands raised ready to send a bolt at the Orc. "Give me the horn."
"You want this?" Bruego held it out for them to see. Quickly he stuffed it in his belt and made a gesture over the head of Nurm as he tried to get to his feet. "How about I give you this instead."
"MASTER, NO!"
Raising his hands, Bruego grabbed the Goblin in his power then thrust him out flying at them. As Hoddie and Rowyn ducked, Bruego slammed his hands together forcing his magic all through Nurm's body causing him to scream as he body began to expand then explode sending his blood and body parts flying all over them. 
"We will meet again." He said cackling with laughter. "This is just the beginning."
With that, the Orc disappeared in a flash of lightning.
"Damn!!" Hoddie wiped the gore from his face and looked around for the Orc. "Where did he go?"
"Who are you Goblin?" Rowyn backed away from him. "Are you with them?"
"Of course not." Hoddie re sheathed his sword. "I was trying to kill them before you so boldly interrupted. The Orc has plans to kill my father. Now he's gone and I'll have to go after him damn it!"
"I have a debt I owe the Orc." Rowyn held out her hand. "I'm Princess Rowyn Windstar and I'm coming with you."
"This will not be an easy road Princess." Hoddie looked at her with doubt. "Are you sure you wish to do this? There will be killing involved. That is not something a princess should dirty her hands with."
"I can manage." Rowyn looked at him with mistrust. "I may be a princess, but I'm tougher then I look."
"I'm Hodgodde Fearfist." Hoddie reached out and shook her delicate hand. "Son of Kranko Fearfist of Gaymere. We should get some rest. We have a long way to go and not much time. We have to get the horn back before he completes his spell. And if that means killing him, then that is what I will do."