A Kingdom of Ashes (Zombies! Pirates! Giant Lizards! Intrigue!) UPDATED 07/01/05!!





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    A Kingdom of Ashes (Zombies! Pirates! Giant Lizards! Intrigue!) UPDATED 07/01/05!!

    Prologue Part I

    Jeranna
    (The Zombie's Tale)


    Jeranna leaned into the salty spray of the sea, feet placed perfectly on the Skyracer’s bowsprit. One long, sinewy arm reached back, holding onto a rope that one of her lieutenants had insisted she take with her out above the vessel’s prow. She smiled, crinkling the midnight skin around her eyes and mouth, feeling simple ecstasy at being able to ride the Placid Sea with such abandon.


    Jeranna’s Talon was rarely given assignments like this, and she intended to make the very best of it while she had the chance. The cargo the Skyracer carried was important, but there were few dangers remaining in the Kingdom of the Falcon, especially on the run between Thanesport and Crisoth. The King’s Navy had sunk the Bluestar’s last pirate flotilla almost a century ago, making the security that the King had insisted surround the Liegeblade on its voyage across the sea no more than a formality.

    Jeranna simply sought to make the best of a simple, ceremonial duty, and enjoy herself before she was once more drawn into the endless, mindless ceremony of the King’s court in Caer Albion.

    A voice cut through the crashing waves, interrupting the young Talon’s thoughts. “Jeranna!”

    She looked over her shoulder then, sighing as she sees Korin, the lieutenant in charge of the mission. Almost dancing along the bowsprit, she quickly returned to the relatively solid deck of the ship, her body going rigid as she stood in front of her superior officer. “Yes Lieutenant Bahn?”

    Korin Bahn stood only a few inches taller than the young woman, but carried almost 2 decades more experience as a member of the Kingshield Talon on his muscular, ebon frame than did the young warrior who apparently fancied herself a sailor. “I think you’ve had enough fun, for the moment. We’re changing shift below decks, and you’re up.”

    “But sir…” she started to plead, trying desperately to win a few more hours of freedom on the dark waters of the great inland ocean.

    “Jeranna! You will report for duty immediately, or you’ll be shielding the king’s hounds when we get back to Caer Albion. Am I understood?”

    Jeranna hung her head, then, a shock of white hair falling over her amber eyes. Dejectedly, she muttered, “Yes sir.”

    Moments later, the young warrior found herself leaning against the narrow stairwell that led from the main deck to the cargo hold, rolling down her pant legs and pulling on the tall black boots that were an inextricable part of her duty uniform. She pulled on the black leather tunic that marked her as a member of the Kingshield Talon, straightening it slightly before stepping back into the small room that held (at the moment) one of the Falcon Kingdom’s greatest treasures. Two of her comrades leaned against the walls of the small room, while another was perched on the chest that carried the last Runeblade left in the known world—the Liegeblade, the sword of kings.

    Jeranna pointed to Teryn, whom she was to replace, guarding the weapon. As the older man passed Jeranna, she turned her head slightly, asking, “Anything new?”

    A half-smile twisted the man’s lip upward, slightly. This was what passed for mirth in Teryn’s case. “There’s a sword in a box, and we’re watching it. What were you expecting? Pirates?”

    Before Jeranna could respond, she heard a muffled thud, followed by a short, high-pitched noise…almost like a scream. Jerking her head back toward the stairs, she started to speak, saying, “Should I…”

    Before she could finish, Teryn held out a hand, cautioning her from speaking more. Whispering, he looked into her eyes, his expression showing uncommon gravity, even for him. “I’ll check it out.” Widening his gaze to include the others, he said, “Stay here, and keep that chest safe!”

    Teryn took a single, hesitant step toward the narrow ladder that led up to the Skyracer’s main deck. Taking a deep breath, he looked back at Jeranna and the others, worry creasing his lined and battle-scarred face. His mouth opened, almost as if to say something, and then he turned back to the ladder, silently climbing into the night as he loosened his antiquated basket-hilted broadsword in it scabbard.

    He disappeared, black armor and skin blending perfectly into the midnight sky. His boots made no sound on the deck above, leaving Jeranna and the others with no company other than silence. Unable to hear anything happening on the decks above, Jeranna nervously eased her steeldrake from its holster below her ribs, slowly pulling back the flint, and checking the pistol to ensure that, should it be needed, it would be primed and loaded.

    The click of the steeldrake’s flint was agonizingly loud in the tiny chamber. Jeranna winced as she heard it echoing through the room, looking over her shoulder at her companions. Still, no sound drifted downward from the deck above. Whatever was happening above was frighteningly quiet, and there was little Jeranna could do but wait.

    Suddenly, a loud crash split the air, followed by the unmistakable sound of steel on steel. Battle! Jeranna pulled her own saber from the sheath at her hip. Looking over her shoulder to her companions, she checked the flint on her steeldrake once more, and with a weak smile to the remaining guards, she slowly climbed into the darkness where Teryn had disappeared, seconds before.

    Her eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness above as carefully ascended into the night. Her race’s vision allowed her to assess the scene instantly—a strangely silent battle, with Teryn just entering the fray, behind a still-living Lieutenant Bahn. Her amber eyes outlined each of the hulking creatures in the starlight. Great reptilian monstrosities, each stood a head (or more) taller than a man. Nearly a score of the creatures fought against no more than a half dozen sailors, with dozens more of the Skyracer’s crew already laying dead at their feet.

    Jeranna watched as Teryn pulled the trigger on his own steeldrake, and then gasped as the hot, flying lead failed to slow the creature charging toward him, making no sound. Powerful legs drove the creature toward the Alder warrior, great scaly hands grasped a rune-cut spear. The reptilian abomination seemed to roar as Teryn managed to parry away the spear thrust with his sword. Once more, no sound escaped to reach Jeranna’s ears.

    Jeranna carefully aimed her own pistol, and pulled the trigger, sending smoke and lead screaming toward the beast that Teryn was still battling. The trademark boom of drakespowder pierced the silence, and then the beast, thudding through thick, reddish scales, and then outward, splintering the Skyracer’s mast with fragments of the bullet. Snakelike eyes rolled upward into the creature’s elongated face, and Teryn was able to show her a quick smile over his bleeding shoulder, before darting forward to engage another of the invaders. His lips moved, but his words were lost to whatever magic had kept the battle silent for so long.

    Caught in what seemed to be the eye of a storm of steel, Jeranna was finally able to fully appreciate the scene in which she found herself. A thick fog had enveloped the Skyracer in the minutes she had been below decks, the ship boarded in silence while she and Teryn had joked. Someone had come. Someone had come, and they meant to have the Liegeblade.

    Before she could launch herself into the fray, the fog parted, and Jeranna was struck dumb by the sight she beheld. A great vessel no less than 10 times the size of the Skyracer pushed its way through the mist. Great black sails laid limp against their masts, and strange flying creatures swarmed around the vessel, seeming to drift in and out of reality as they disappeared and reappeared from the mist. The ship’s hull was a mix of coal-black and a strange stained ivory, almost as if the vessel was iron, poured into the ribcage of some unknown, terrible beast.

    As she saw it, she gasped, and dropped the spent steeldrake to the bottom of the stairwell, and nearly lost the grip on her sword, as well. Steeling herself against the crushing despair that the vessel seemed to force upon her soul, she tightened her grip on her saber, and finished the climb to the deck. She whispered a short prayer to the Light, the sound suddenly lost to some unknown force, and then moved forward to defend the treasure below with her last breath, as she had sworn to do.

    Before she could bring her sword to Teryn and Korin’s aid, cold metal hit her on the back of the head, summoning dancing stars to her vision. Managing to turn as she stumbled forward, she saw the handle of the steeldrake she had dropped, stained in her own blood. It was in the hands of one of the guards she had left to protect the blade. Treachery!

    A cruel smile crossed his face, as she tried to regain her balance, and he drew his own steeldrake, as if in answer to her silent accusation. Two of the giant lizardmen walked forward, moving cautiously as if to protect the traitor that had hit her, as he cocked back the weapon’s flint. “Remember me in Hell, Jeranna?” he mouthed, and then the world went dark.



    * * *



    “Darkson, what should we do with this one?” something whispers. This must not be Hell. But it hurts. It hurts a lot. At least the silence is gone. (she thinks, listening)

    A male voice laughs. “She lives, eh? Not for long, I imagine?

    Not without the healer’s touch,” the whisperer answers.

    Then she’ll not last long enough to walk the shadow path. Too bad—this one had spirit,” the laugher says, obviously considering something. “We may yet have a use for her…I have an idea. Summon Mistress Blackadder.”



    * * *



    Conscious again. Still not dead. Still can’t see. Maybe blind, maybe my eyes are just closed? (she thinks again, drifting back into consciousness.)

    Dammit. The laugher is talking again. Why won’t he shut up? Still hurts. “Here she is, Mistress Blackadder. Will she serve our purposes?”

    A feminine voice this time, like razors over silk. “That depends on how much she has seen.

    Just the Dahaka, I think. And the ship. But word has already begun to travel about that.”

    Razors again. Why won’t they stop talking and let her die? “I just want to make sure that an overzealous cleric doesn’t manage to pry too much of the truth from her corpse. The Apectan Order could ruin this if too much happens too quickly.

    Well then open her eyes…let’s make sure she sees what we want her to see. I’ll follow, and make sure that the right story spreads.

    Very well.” Razors starts to chant…her voice lowering, changing…now it’s like razors over razors. She’d shudder if she could. Suddenly, her eyes burst open.



    * * *



    She saw a black flag with the outline of an eye and star, all in blue. She tried to gasp, but could not summon the strength. The Bluestar! In the Placid Sea! Her eyes refocused, almost blinded by the sun, now clearly overhead.

    Two shadows stood over her, slowly resolving into a man and a woman. Razors, the woman, still filled the air with her words. The sounds seemed to hover over her, and then slowly, excruciatingly, they began to slice into her flesh…and settle into her soul. She was almost painfully beautiful, made more so by the ugliness of the words she somehow managed to utter.

    She managed to glance to her left. A body—another Talon. She managed to smile. It was the traitor. I guess we all get out comeuppance in the end, eh?

    Laugher, the man, smirked over her burning black flesh. She was able to register surprise over her pain as she saw that he too wore the uniform of the King’s navy. Cold grey eyes sat deep in a sallow, mustached face. Crouching beside her, he tilted the her chin toward him, and pressed cold, hard lips against hers as Razor’s words bit deeper and deeper into her body. Something was changing. She was dying. He was enjoying it. Bastard.

    Pulling back, he (predictably) started to laugh again. “Remember the flag, girl. You’ve been given the honor of being the first soldier in what will be a truly fantastic war,” he said, unable to contain his mirth. As the laughter subsided, once more allowing Razor’s words to fill her mind, he continued, distracting her from sweet merciful death once more. “Your King thanks you for your service, Jeranna, and he thanks you for the sword. One down, only twelve to go. Happy hunting, girl. You’ll have a feast, tonight!” Laughter again, this time drowned out by the cutting words of the sorceress standing above her.

    More cuts, more razors, more changes. She screamed, an unholy cry, as if her soul were trying to escape the prison her body now represented. Then, the world went dark. This time, for good.
    Last edited by The_Universe; Friday, 1st July, 2005 at 02:21 PM. Reason: a couple of formatting errors, and some capitals, new update
    National Capital Area Gameday, 13 March 2010
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    My Story Hour: A Kingdom of Ashes. Updated 07/01/05! Zombies! Pirates! Giant Lizards! Intrigue! The Universe commands you to check it out!
    Wii #0817 9834 1380 0807

 

  • #2
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    Woohoo! A story hour! The Universe is awesome.

    To learn more about our rag tag team, visit our website:

    The Kingdom of Ashes: Saga of the Army of the Phoenix

    It is unfinished, but we're still working on it.

  • #3
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    Ahhh, the good old days when men were men, women were women and incompetence was something that happened to other people...
    "If brute force isn't working, you're not using enough."

    Geek the Mage!

    A goal is not a plan.

    Because some who wander are, in fact, lost:
    A Kingdom of Ashes

  • #4
    The prologue looks great! I can't wait to read more!

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    A yound halfling with blonde braids jumps up and down singing "tell me more, tell me more!"

    Awesome intro!... and now I will get to see how much of L'aurel's memory is off
    Last edited by Laurel; Tuesday, 25th May, 2004 at 05:08 PM.

  • #6
    The prologue was a very interesting perspective for me (a player in the campaign) because it's stuff that none of the players experienced first hand...

    A whole new perspective for us, The_Universe! Thanks!

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    The prologue certainly makes me want to read more.

    More, you hear me? More! <pounds mug on his table>

    er...ahem. Sorry 'bout that. Naval stories do that to me.
    Glad to see some local talent on the boards.

    J

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    There's more comin'. Had to head back to South Dakota for a wedding, but the next part is nearing completion. Happy reading!
    National Capital Area Gameday, 13 March 2010
    www.dcgameday.com

    My Story Hour: A Kingdom of Ashes. Updated 07/01/05! Zombies! Pirates! Giant Lizards! Intrigue! The Universe commands you to check it out!
    Wii #0817 9834 1380 0807

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    Prologue part II

    Justice
    (The Paladin's Tale)

    It had been a long, hard, unpleasant ride across the plains of Maelwysrin, made longer by the fact that she hadn’t been allowed to return to the barracks before starting west. She hadn’t been forced to draw her sword to fell anything other than brambles, so far. Grand quest indeed.

    Justice squirmed in the saddle, raising her gauntleted hand to shelter her vision against the setting sun. The days were shortening. Autumn was coming, and winter would follow soon after. But, the trees hadn’t started to turn, even on this side of the mountains. She had soaked through the jerkin beneath her armor with sweat. If winter was coming, it was taking its Light-damned time getting here.

    How long had she been on the road? Was it only weeks? It felt like years. She had passed the Academy’s tests with flying colors, and yet her success had been answered with exile. Damn Donovon. Damn the Oracle. The Academy, just like her parents, had little desire to keep Justice around. Lost in thought, she remembered…

    * * *

    It was a two week trip into the mountains from the Jade Forest, and everyone in the unit was complaining, except for Justice. Out here, the solitude of having so many admirers but so few friends easily faded into the background as survival became paramount. As always, she had stayed closest to the march leaders, avoiding her fellow students whenever possible.

    She was the only member of the Apectan Order on this march, a fact made painfully clear by the Sun and Crosspiece emblazoned across the breast of her armor. She was accompanied by warriors, but none of them had heard the Call. Even in this auspicious company, she was alone.

    It had been a graduation march for the best and brightest of this year’s cohort. Even as peace had marginalized the Academy’s offerings over the past century, the quality of its warriors had grown. As she was often reminded, she was among the greatest warriors in the history of Aeres. Too bad they were all such arrogant fools.

    Something shook her from her thoughts. A sound. A voice. Damn—Colonel Donovan was at her again. Trying so hard to learn; lost in daydreams again. She’d pray about it, tonight. Her voice, soft and melodic (but with a vein of steel running through it), answered the half-heard query. “Yes, Mistress! Everyone looks fine, Mistress! No need to slow, Mistress!”

    Circling back on the dusty trail, Colonel Donovon’s charger bore down on the line of exhausted graduates, slowing just soon enough to keep from running Justice down. The corporal looked down from her horse, her nearly pristine state a sharp contrast to the dirt and grime that had become the small company’s only true companion. Donovon had never liked her, and she looked vaguely disappointed to see that the young paladin had not even flinched at her aborted charge.

    Looking over the exhausted group, she settled her gaze on Justice. “The cohort looks tired, Fairweather. We can rest now, and finish our ascent in the morning. I knew you wouldn’t be able to make it this far without at least one more rest. You push too hard, Fairweather. There’s no one here to impress, not even dear old Mum.” The last words were cruel, a deliberate slight against her. Donovon’s lip twisted into a self-satisfied smile. Bitch.

    Returning her attention to the mountain trail twisting back down toward the comfort of home, Donovon shouted to the cohort, “We’re setting up camp here, for the night. We can push on to the Oracle’s cave in the morning. Nothing to see there now that we won’t see in the morning. Swordswoman Fairweather has been pushing you too hard.”

    As Donovon swung off of the horse, the rest of the cohort began to drop their packs, silent as they started to prepare for a night in the wild. Fools. Donovon was just goading her, trying make her look like a fool, and a weakling. Bitch, bitch, bitch! Justice stood, staring at Donovon, an angry flush reddening her already sun-blasted face. If looks could kill, the Colonel would have been halfway to Hell.

    Slowly, Justice too turned back to face the busy cohort, trying desperately to unload their heavy packs on the steep incline of the mountain trail. Slowly, deliberately, she began shouting orders, her melodic stream of her voice now running over steel. “Belay that order, ladies and gentlemen! We’ll make the climb tonight.”

    The cohort stood dumbly, some with bedrolls half spread over the rocky ground. No one moved; no one made a sound. She thought she heard someone cough.

    Donovon wheeled to face her, then, furious at the junior officer’s attempt to override her authority. “Did I hear you correctly, Swordswoman Fairweather?” she emphasized the rank, beating her over the head with the club of propriety.

    Justice ignored the older woman. This was her unit, at the moment, and it was her responsibility to decide when and where they made camp. Donovon had no right to stop them here, not when they were so close. “Pack it up, and gird yourselves for a bit more climbing. We can make it to the cave by nightfall, and by the Light we will make it there, understood?”

    She stared down at the cohort, and a half-hearted affirmative drifted up toward her. She snorted, her anger transferring from Donovon to the warriors gathers below her on the trail. “I said we’re making the climb! Understood!?

    This time, a better response, “Aye!” they shouted, with only a few conspicuous silences. Donovon’s babies. Let her have them. She was leading warriors, and warriors didn’t quit just because they were tired.

    She turned away from them, half afraid to see how many would actually follow her all the way to the cave of the Stone Oracle. Setting herself against the slant of the trail, she pushed ahead, one foot ahead of the next. Her own breath deafened her, and the sweat of her brow blinded her. Still, she pressed on. Take that, Donovon. Take that, Mother.

    After nearly an hour of pushing herself, she dared look back to the cohort she hoped she would find following behind her. Her breath caught in her chest, but she sighed in relief as she saw what seemed to be almost the entire group trudging up the path. Through the clouds of dust, she thought she even managed to see Donovon trailing behind the group. She’d never hear the end of it. Oh well—it had been worth it to see the look on Donovon’s face.

    She allowed herself a small smile. She had been elected to lead this march by the class of young warriors, below. Although most of them were over-inflated idiots, it felt good to know that they’d follow when she asked.

    Turning back to the trail ahead, she pressed on toward the small plateau upon which the cavern of the Stone Oracle huddled against the sun, wind, and rain. It seemed only moments between her triumphal inspection to reaching the mountain’s windy top, but by the time she reached the flattened stone, the sun had already begun to dip below the horizon. It would be dark by the time they set up camp. Yet, they had made it in record time—something for this graduating class to be proud of. Something for her to be proud of, though she had few to share it with.

    She dropped her own pack onto the smooth stone outside of the cave’s mouth, nodding to some of the Academy’s march leaders that had arrived here early, just in case anything had gone wrong with the march. She had been the first to reach the cavern, and she would be the first to see the ancient, long-dead oracle.

    She ducked her head as she stepped down into the cool, damp cave. Moving forward, she tried her best to prevent one of the low-hanging stalactites from catching her long, blond hair. The cave mouth descended for what had to have been a few hundred feet, a cramped stone pathway cut out of the ancient stone. This passage had been cut, carved out of the mountain itself for some long-forgotten purpose by something (or someone?) older than even the Alder.

    As she moved further and further into the darkness, the age of the place seemed to press in on her. It was a strange forbidding notion, slowly building in the pit of her stomach. Even if the Oracle was dead, this place remembered what it was to have power. Still, she pressed forward into the darkness, slowly approaching a remnant of time gone by.

    Like thousands of students from the Jade Forest Academy before her, she would challenge the Stone Oracle to reveal her future. It would stare out of the stone, in silence. It was supposed to be a sign that her future was what she made of it. Justice knew it was nothing more symbolic than the fact that it’s magic was long spent.

    Still descending after what seemed like miles, the cavern seemed to brighten ahead of her. Something was producing light, ahead. Probably one of the march leaders. Maybe Tonnyn?

    Muttering to herself as the passageway began to widen, she chose her steps carefully. The last few hundred feet down into the cavern were notoriously treacherous, and more than one of her predecessors had turned an ankle here. The light continued to brighten. Tonnyn (or whoever it was) must have been on his way back up. Still stepping with exaggerated care, she slid down a broken ledge of shale, using her long arms to steady herself.

    She stopped suddenly, once more on flat ground. This must be the end of the descent. In the bowels of the Oracle’s mountain, she had finally reached the place where she would demand her future. She stepped around an outcropping of granite, a wall carved out of the stone to separate the Oracle’s chamber from the narrow pathway its petitioners were forced to tread.

    She was surprised to find herself alone in the chamber. The light seemed to come from the walls of the chamber itself. Some sort of moss or lichen, perhaps? Maybe even an old magic still left over from whatever the Oracle’s makers intended. Whatever it was, it was bright enough to allow her to see the Oracle. No reason to question good luck.

    The Oracle was carved out of the back wall of the chamber, a crude noseless face with no visible neck. A ring of stone seemed to surround the face, no more than three feet in diameter—almost as if its makers had intended to suggest a strange sort of halo around what she supposed was supposed to be a head. Was it once a Man’s face? An Alder’s? A Dwarf’s? Was this once a beautiful work of art, now ravaged by time? Whatever it was, it was fascinating, and ageless.

    In the present, two narrow slits in the stone made its eyes, and a third slash nearer the bottom, a mouth. Now in its presence, she no longer thought the ceremony trivial. Even to hear nothing from this ancient granite soothsayer seemed to speak volumes for the successes her future would hold. She steeled herself, and asked the question she had been told to ask, the question that thousands before (and even more after) her would ask of the inert stone face. “Oracle, I beg thee, reveal what Time has in store for this humble servant of the Light?”

    She smirked a little. No answer. The future was wide open, and she could choose her own path. Mother, wherever you are, take that! Tomorrow belonged to Justice.

    Happily, she turned back toward the passage, ready to begin her journey up into the fading daylight. She saw a silhouette in the passage—the next petitioner. She took a step forward, and then she felt the ground shake. An earthquake, and she beneath uncountable tons of rock. Time to start her devotions, she didn’t have long, now.

    Falling to her knees, she began, “I am the Hand of the Light…” but before she could finish the first sentence of her devotion, another voice cut in, far louder than her own. A foul wind seemed to rush from the depths of the cavern, and it carried her voice away with it. Turning toward the wind’s source, she nearly fainted. It may have been a trick of the light, but she thought she saw the Oracle’s features shift. Blinking, she tried to stand, bracing herself against the sourceless gust.

    Then, it spoke. With every word, her world changed.

    Darkness falls on Traveler’s children,
    Once and again as the line of Kings falters:
    The fallen shall rise to consume their heirs,
    As falcons are hounded from their roosts.

    Your Fathers’ victories shall become as ashes!

    The fallen return on serpent’s wings,
    While the unquiet dead stir from their Prison Tombs.
    Man’s folly will shadow the world in flame,
    Evil will rise to reclaim birth’s right.

    Death will not bar midnight’s Imperator!

    True blood stirs, hidden by betrayal,
    A single chance for Forest King’s last daughter:
    Win the throne or face Covenant fulfilled,
    A deal in blood, rising with Darkness’ Mistress.

    The Hand of Death grasps the dying light!

    Daughter of Sun and Shadow, awake!
    Salvation lives within your blade,
    And in the heroes found in westward lands,
    Who fight the dead and damned, drowning the spark of War.

    Redemption begins in the city of sacrifice!

    Look beyond peace’s waters, and face your shadows,
    Gathering to conquer and kill.
    Darkness reigns as liege once, and again
    Should the sword of Kings fall to Goddess’ son!

    Ready, Children, for now is your truest test!

    Meanwhile,
    Silently, the ancient awake from timeless dreams,
    To watch, to listen, to plan.
    They return for vengeance, and bring with them the end of all you know.

    Stunned, she stood. Mouth open, half expecting to hear greater pronouncements of doom from the Stone Oracle’s now-unmoving mouth, she blinked into the rising darkness, as the strange light she had noted before began to fade. She felt a hand fall upon her shoulder, and she nearly drew her blade before turning to see it was a friend. Tonnyn.

    Slowly, he turned her toward his own ashen, quivering face. “Did…did you…did you hear that? By the Light, Justice—I think it was talking to you!”

    Regaining some small part of her composure, she batted his trembling hand away. “I heard it. But it couldn’t have been talking to me…” she said, all certainty leeched from her voice. “…it must have been a message for someone else. My future is my own.”

    “Justice,” he said, trying to draw her attention away from a sudden, almost frantic search of the chamber for another person. “There was no one else here. I was still in the passage, coming to make sure you hadn’t hurt yourself on the descent…it was a message for you!”

    “No…” she started to say, before his voice could overpower her own.

    “It had to be! By the Light, Justice! It spoke to you! It has not spoken in uncounted generations! It has given you your future! You must go!”

    She had lost the strength to protest. She was sure he went on for hours about the meaning of the prophecy, quickly copying it down from memory. She just sat, silently staring into the now blindingly dark cavern.

    Yet, less than three hours later, she was on one of the march leader’s horses, with Tonnyn’s copy of the prophecy in one of her saddlebags. Even Donovon had come to see her off (although she had doggedly insisted that Justice and Tonnyn had fabricated the entire event from whole cloth). She had lost the battle in deciding the truth of the events of the Oracle’s cave, but she won the war. If the prophecy was true, than young Fairweather had no business returning to the Academy. Heroes of westward lands, it had said. So west she went—chasing the sun. Chasing destiny.

    * * *
    A smile creased her dirty, yet still-beautiful face as her blue eyes focused against the light. Thanesport. The old city thrust itself out of the horizon, and into the sun. Red towers and ancient walls jutted out of the surrounding plains like a splinter wound in the earth, itself. Nothing further west from here without crossing the Placid Sea.

    She’d get a room with the gold the cohort had managed to pool for her journey, and hopefully a long bath. It shad been too long since she had last seen enough water to submerge herself in. After Thanesport, the Light only knew how long before she would see it again.

    Settling back down into her saddle, she patted her new horse’s neck, and whispered, “Not much longer now, Dew.”

    With the sun reflecting off of the studs on the tall, slender woman’s jade-green leather armor, the horse plodded forward, into the setting sun. Thanesport beckoned--and for now, Justice Fairweather was willing to heed its call.
    Last edited by The_Universe; Friday, 4th June, 2004 at 04:21 PM. Reason: Typo, title formatting
    National Capital Area Gameday, 13 March 2010
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    My Story Hour: A Kingdom of Ashes. Updated 07/01/05! Zombies! Pirates! Giant Lizards! Intrigue! The Universe commands you to check it out!
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    Woohoo! A new post! There are a few typos though.

    Muttering to herself as the passageway began to widen, chose her steps carefully.
    There was another one too, but I can't find it now.

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