10th anniversary everquest collector's edition by wuxiangyu


									    10th anniversary everquest
    collector’s edition
    Supplement: player Fiction
    Part i—EvErQuEst Player Fiction
    To Tell a Tale of Treason
    By Innocence-Lost

    Dekita hopped toward the back of her home in the Third Gate of Neriak. Her eyes were blackened by the fires of hatred, her once pure-white skin tainted with the black touch of Innoruuk.
    Her Froglok tongue could taste the hatred in the air; she heard the whispers of the Dark Elves as she passed. Still, she had earned their favor. Once a mighty Paladin of the highest order going
    by the name of Clektika, she had served her city in the great wars of her people. She had even served in the initial taking of Grobb.

    On that day, her pure-white skin had shone, complemented by the golden armor granted to her as a sign of favor for a mighty, top-ranking Paladin in the army of Marr. She fought Troll after
    Troll, felling them, incapacitating them and leading her troops to the heart of Grobb. She received seven honor medals for her service in repelling the Troll threat from the freshly taken city.

    But now, Dekita’s eyes burned intensely as she thought of those memories. Her heart turned black as she thought of the fool she had been, thoughtlessly granting her soul to an intolerant
    god and a foolish people. She told them she thought putting a full detail of guards outside Gukta was not enough, that they should pursue the Trolls and decimate every last one of the fearsome
    and loathful beasts. They told her that slaughter was not the way of Marr.

    “Well, my foolish people, it seems your god knows nothing of tactics,” she said, seething under her breath as she recalled those events.

    Clektika also served in a recent war, still mindlessly serving her god and her people. As the rumblings of advancing armies grew within the city, she began to train once again, donning the
    golden armor of the top-ranking Paladins of Marr. Rumors surfaced that Ykesha himself was coming. Clektika led an advanced strike team to aid the cities who were opposing the Teir’Dal en
    route to Gukta.

    She and her small strike team marched to East Commonlands, and she
    found herself uncomfortably close to the city of Neriak. She set up camp in
    Freeport, basing her operations from there. She led several successful strikes
    against the evil teeming in the neighboring Commonlands.

    Then, fate stepped in, and oh, how cruel fate’s smile can be. Clektika led
    her strike team out to the fields where they spotted a wandering patrol.
    Giving the order to attack, she charged. The Elves and Trolls in the patrol
    turned from her party and fled. This was very unusual, but the Frogloks
    had turned their blades down for mercy once before, and she would not
    allow it to happen again.

    As her team crested a hill close behind the patrol, her eyes filled with
    horror. Before them was the main encampment for the evil armies of the
    Commonlands. The patrol turned back toward her. The Shadowknight who
    led the patrol turned to her and smiled, but it was no friendly smile. His
    visage was one of pure evil. As the armies advanced upon her, she held
    her blade at the ready. Escape was not a possibility. They were without
    a wizard. Theirs had been struck ill and died. In an instant, she became
    convinced that this was an insidious plot by the Dark Ones.

                She held her shield and sword
                firm, and her armor took on a
                holy glow as she slayed enemy
               after enemy. Her wounds were
               beginning to accumulate and take
              a toll on her, but she kept her
              mind on the battle. One by one,
              her allies fell to the blades, and
             with each death, her armor grew
             heaver, her blade harder to swing.
             Finally, she was the last of her
            group still standing, her chances for
            victory nonexistent.
            She did not have the will to go
            on, and she dropped to her knees
           before the lead Shadowknight of the
           Dark Army. As her eyes turned to
           the ground, she awaited her fate.
          The Shadowknight pulled a quick
          release on his gauntlet and tore it
         free, exposing his bare flesh. Reaching
         out, he took her neck in his grasp,
         and an unholy magic flowed through
         him. Harmed to her very core, she fell
        to the evil Shadowknight’s touch, and
        even as she fell, she thought, “He is
        killing me with his Harm Touch.”
         Days later, she awoke in a cave in the
        southern part of the Commonlands,
        stripped of her armor and weapons. As
       her eyes focused, she saw a Dark Elven
       female standing over her.
      “Why have you kept me alive?” she
      asked of the female.
      “Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe it is your
     remarkable talent for keeping yourself
     alive,” the Elf mused.
     “What do you mean, Dark One, and
     what is to become of me?”
     “Well, those are interesting questions. I
    am speaking, of course, of your survival.
    You singlehandedly slew 15 officers of the
    Teir’Dal army. You also survived, although barely, one of the most twisted and horrible spells ever to grace the face of Norrath. As for what is to become of you, only
    you can decide that.”
    “I have seen spells much more horrible than a Harm Touch, though I suppose my survival comes as a surprise to me as well…”
    “Hah, you are a fool to think what hit you was a simple Harm Touch. No, no, it was something far more sinister. The Necromancers of Neriak have no intention of
    letting the Frogloks flee Gukta without a final…parting gift.”
    “What is it you mean, Dark One? Tell me straight!”

“If I told you, would you believe me? I think it is better for
you to see for yourself. You ought to be awake enough to heal
yourself, should you not? Do so, if you can.”
Clektika attempted to channel a healing spell into her being, but
she could not concentrate. She tried to draw upon her god but
could not. She could not so much as conjure a spark. Only then
did she look down at herself and notice her skin was marred
with black spots and streaks. She touched one of the spots
and was horrified at the realization that they were a part of
her complexion.
The Elven woman spoke firmly. “You cannot. And it seems you
have just discovered why. Those are the marks of Innoruuk. The
Shadowknight you met on the field was one of those charged
with testing Innoruuk’s curse. Your soul and body have been
touched by Innoruuk, and Marr has abandoned you.”
Clektika screamed at the Elf, “You! You did this! Your people.
You’re evil; you did this to me!”
“Yes, yes, foster your hate. You have never felt hatred quite
so intense. Focus on that hatred, focus it upon me, focus on
wanting to become whole, and focus on your pain. Now, HEAL
Clektika seethed with rage and let loose a mighty yelp as her
wounds healed, and the Dark Elf before her coiled and fell to
the ground.
The Elf spoke more meekly now. “Yes…your power is
astonishing…truly astonishing.” She drank an elixir, and her
wounds began to heal.
“You see, you are a child of Innoruuk now. You have become
the very thing you hate, a Shadowknight of the Dark Lord. You
have been cast out by your god, and with the mark of Innoruuk
on your skin, you will never find refuge among the Frogloks you
once knew. Your petty rules of civility are not the only laws of
the universe. Teir’Dal believes that change is an absolute, and
those who do not adapt die. So, what will it be? Train under me,
and serve Innoruuk, or perish from the life of a warrior.”
“I hate your god. I hate your people. I hate myself, and I am
beginning to foster a hate for my people and my god.”
“Good, then you have what it takes. You will find a suit of
armor in the chest beside you. Come out wearing it, and be ready
to travel if you accept my offer.”
That was then. Today, Dekita strokes the pure black armor,
the emblem of her new life. She has changed her name. In an
old tongue, Clektika meant “Servant of Life.” In the very same
tongue, Dekita now means “Master of Death.”
Willowroot Bloodline
By Gandome

A woman with brown hair punctuated and a purple iris walked toward the grand city
of Felwithe. An indigo sky winked through the heavy summer trees in the Greater
Faydark as she ambled through the gates. The city’s air hung thick in the din of daily
activates. While lazily meandering, absorbing the colorful sights, the woman noticed
someone far in the distance—someone who she knew was waiting for her.
“Kelina!” she shouted, waving a greeting.
“Gandome!” Kelina yelled back. “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for ages!”
Laughing, Gandome slipped the iris from her hair and pocketed it. As the two friends
neared, they fell into a warm embrace. As they separated, the two women smiled.
“So, what’s the situation?” Gandome whispered.
Kelina raised an eyebrow and whispered back, “The Orcs have moved in. Our inside
‘Goblin’ has more information for us.” Gandome ran a hand through her hair.
“How the hell did you get those Orcs to think Jeai was a Goblin?” Glancing around,
looking nervous, Kelina added, “We need to be able to talk more openly. Let’s go back to
my room.” At that moment, a nearby hooded stranger turned briefly toward the women,
then suddenly ran away.
Gandome and Kelina walked to the Shady Vine Inn and entered Room 13C.
“So, is it true?” Gandome asked.
Kelina raised an eyebrow in response. “Is what true?”
Laughing, Gandome explained, “That Orcs are some kind of Teir’Dal concoction created
in the elder days?”
Kelina shrugged. “We have no proof that the Teir’Dal created them, although I have a
feeling it was Innoruuk’s doing. Maybe the Orcs are the failed Dark Elves.”
Their conversation was interrupted by someone outside banging at the door and shouting,
“Run! The Orcs are coming!” In the distance, they heard a rumble and the shattering
of glass. Gandome muttered a profanity in Elvish and asked Kelina to open the door.
Kelina complied just as a Teir’Dal stalked out of the shadows.
“Now, now, ladies, you don’t want to leave when the fun is just starting,” he said with
an evil grin. He then snared at the two and locked the door.
“Why would you leave when we have so much to discuss?” he hissed. He made a sign
with his hands and offered another menacing smile. “Tell me now, who is this Jeai?”
Gandome and Kelina remained silent.
Pulling a gleaming dagger from beneath his cloak, the stranger sneered, “I do believe
you’ll answer me.”
Gandome breathed deeply and opened her mouth to speak. Before the words could form,
Kelina shook her head. The man abruptly grabbed Gandome’s hair, and with one mighty
fell swoop, he sliced a lock from her head. Baring his yellowed teeth, the man growled
in a quiet but threatening tone, “Now the Teir’Dal can easily find you wherever you go.”
Then he disappeared into the shadows, and the snare that had bound the women
suddenly dissipated.
“This isn’t good, not good at all,” Gandome said, shaking her head and pacing the room.
Kelina frowned. “I know, but we have to get out of here. Things will get worse very soon…”
Her words were broken by an Orc’s knife breaking through the window. They ran, but just as the two women escaped the room, an Orc’s flaming arrow punctured the wall where they
had been standing. Sparks spit wildly about the room, igniting a worn tapestry. But the women did not look back. They ran until they were safely out of the building.
Between deep gasps, hungrily gulping the fresh air, Kelina panted, “That tapestry was worth 331 platinum!” as she cast a spell upon a second Orc attacking a child, killing the creature instantly.
“Run!” Gandome shouted. “That Legionnaire doesn’t look very happy!” pointing toward a Legionnaire who had just smashed through the wall of a nearby house.
“You think not?” Kelina quipped, still panting heavily.
They continued past the city’s wall, noting that the guards who had previously paTrolled them were gone. Gandome clutched the amulet that hung loosely around her neck and then
carelessly let it slip through her fingers. As the Velium amulet tapped her ring, a blue gate spontaneously appeared before them. Their momentum took them through the gate, and
suddenly, they were standing on a sandy beach. Desert hills rolled in every direction, except to the west, where a vast ocean splayed beyond the horizon. A scroungy man ambled from
inside a hut, screaming wildly about mirages.
Gandome swung at the man with her sword, but Kelina stood frozen, her small mouth agape. Gandome reached down, snatching a flagon of water from the dead man’s side.
“Who was that?” Kelina questioned.
Laughing, Gandome answered, “Madman.”
Overhead, a cloud burst open with a mighty crash of thunder, piercing the silent air with rain. Kelina ran inside the empty hut, Gandome following close behind. “Where are we?”
Kelina asked.
Gandome scratched her cheek and said, “Looks like the oasis, but I don’t understand how we got here.”
There was no time to answer the question as a ragged scrap wood boat, upon which stood three hooded figures, drifted ominously into a makeshift dock. As if on cue, the passengers
lowered their shrouds, revealing the cobalt faces and snowy hair of Dark Elves. A male Elf approached Gandome. “We will not harm you,” he said in a soft voice, smiling. Eyeing the
Tier’Dal closely, Gandome gripped her sword. The stranger chuckled, placing a slender finger on the edge of her blade, pushing it down. “No need to raise the Argent Defender, child.”
Kelina glared at the Elf. “Who are you?” she demanded.
“We are the called the “Tainted Dark Elves,” the name given to us by the overlord. We aren’t pure like the others. We support the downfall of the Teir’Dal.”
Again, they were interrupted, as a hoard of Dervish Cutthroats topped a dune, spotting the raft, on which two female Dark Elves still rode. One of the Dark Elves lifted her hand
toward the clouds, bringing a lightning bolt down on the boorish group, which was temporarily slowed. However, even as the mighty crash of thunder shook the ground, a huge Cyclops
roared over a dune. Amid the confusion, the two Tier’Dal exited the boat, hurrying toward the others. The Dark Elf facing Gandome raised his voice above the din. “Looks like we’ve
stirred up a bit of trouble! We’ll need to get out of here.”
The other female Elf walked quickly over to Gandome. She pulled an amulet identical to Gandome’s from her cloak and touched them together. Their small group instantly teleported
away, reappearing in a new area with rolling, grassy hills near a huge white building.
Immediately, a man dashed from the building toward the group.
“Quartermaster Ylfanx!” the Dark Elf shouted.
Gandome stood a bit dazed from the teleport, her sword sheathed. “Where are we?” she asked.
The man from the building answered, “You’re in the Sunset home! My name is Ylfanx. I should tell you that we’ve got a problem here. There’s a group called the “Masters” wanting to
take over our small utopia!”
The Dark Elf walked up to Ylfanx, a small, weary-looking man, and said, “The Masters? What makes them think they can take over our land?”
Ylfanx responded with a sigh, “They’re powerful, too powerful.” In the distance, a woman lit a sparkler, sending blue sparks wildly about. Behind her, merchants could be heard hawking
their wares. Ylfanx suddenly seemed to recognize where he was. “Where are my manners?” he said. “Who have you brought along with you, Ualn?”
The Dark Elf male, Ualn, answered, “These lovely ladies are Gandome Willowroot and Kelina Radinch.” Gandome and Kelina exchanged glances and then stared at Ualn, wondering
how he knew their names.
(Story ends here…)
Something Haunting This Way Comes…
By Selerra

The air about the Thicket grew dank. Selerra, crouched back within the bushes, took a few test sniffs of the air, her gaze shifting from one side of the expanse to the
other. A thick, sickly scent began to permeate the air, and the Vah Shir frowned.
Shadeweaver’s Thicket no longer held any threat to the girl. It was the hunting ground of her childhood and her beginning season under the watchful guidance of Khati
Sha. She knew the layout of the area like the back of her hand, with no need of a map or compass. Yet today, something was not right, off-kilter, and her eyes narrowed.
She was worried.
“I don’t understand why you have to…” began a younger female, Vah Shir, but the elder Selerra held up a hand to signal silence, and the girl’s voice trailed off in a
whisper. “Why do you have to be so melodramatic?” The younger feline then reached into a small belt pouch and chanted a few short words before releasing a fine
silvery powder into the wind.
Selerra sneered softly; it was not the day to mess with her. However, the two Vah Shirs watched the small particles drift in a small defined pattern. Standing, Selerra
pulled the younger one to her side. “My sister, do not try to give us away so easily. You have much to learn about your art.” The younger kit seemed to take the rebuke
badly, her head lowered, her ears folding back and her eyes closing, but as Selerra continued, the young one perked up again.” Your bold actions, however, just gave us
some clues,” Selerra said. “Thank you, Keilerra.”
Keilerra was grinning now, but the elder Vah Shir was not answering her smile. Still frustrated and worried, Selerra called to her tiger companion with a few swift,
purring vocals. She whispered a few things into the warder’s ear before returning her attention to Kielerra. “You know what you saw, sister,” she said. “Bring your
information to the Dar Khura. My friend will protect you on your journey in case the unhappy spirits do not wish this information revealed.”
“But nothing,” Selerra retorted, narrowing her eyes.
Boldly, again, Keilerra persisted, saying, “We don’t know the details.”
She was right, of course. Selerra knew it. The leaders would want a full report. Waiting any longer was not an option, however, and Keilerra was the only runner they had.
Selerra reached a decision quickly and said, “Kei, they need to be told. I will remain here to keep watch. My friend will bring you back to me. By our family’s honor,
I promise you will be safe, Keilerra Leonchilde.”
The tiger nudged Keilerra’s hand and then gave a few gentle nudges to her knee to start her moving. Feeling she had no other option, knowing that arguing with the great
tiger was not a good idea, she turned and silently padded off toward the eternally dark city of Shar Vahl.
Selerra, the Beast Mistress, sighed softly as the two departed, then returned her attention to the scene before her. She wasn’t particularly close to the safer camps where the
young ones learned to hunt for their meals. Nor was she close to the camps of the Loda Kai, although she was sure even their feeble, greedy minds were starting to feel the
tension in the air as well. She was safe enough here, and so she crouched once again, disappearing back into the Thicket to wait.
     Eleven Fission
     By Remalia

      Part 1—Who I Was, Who I Became,
      Who I Became Again
       Janzia was a middle sister. She had three older sisters, Asianya, Lanene and Marcie, and
        three younger sisters, Lucie, Kendiara and Durten.
         The family was, to put it mildly, diverse. Lanene and Lucie were High Elves, Kendiara
          was a Half Elf, Marcie was an Erudite, and Durten was a Dwarf. Of course, they were
           not born to the same parents but were orphans who were brought together into a new
            family by the people of Kelethin who treated them kindly like their own.
             But this is not a story of family ties. This story is about growth, abandonment,
              rebirth and divine intervention. We who remain here offer to tell it now.
                Alas, poor Janzia…we knew her well…as you will soon see…
                 While her siblings knew exactly what they wanted to be from the get-go, Janzia
                 took her time, mostly unable to decide on her profession. She wanted to be
                  different from her siblings. To her, there was no fun doing what they did all
                   the time, but still, she wanted to fit in. Undecided, she began to hear the call
                    of the goddess, Tunare—the call of the Druid.
                      Lanene found her calling very early in life, as did Asianya. The others
                       followed suit, but not Janzia. For a while, she resisted.
                         Our family stayed together, at first. We sisters traveled and shared
                         many adventures. We saw many lands and met many people. Our
                          journeys were not without loss, though. On a visit to Erudin, we lost
                           Marcie to the temptation of constant meditative study in their great
                            library. We can’t be sure, but we may have been moving too slowly
                             for Lucie who set off on her own not long afterward. We still don’t
                               know what happened to Durten. Perhaps the authorities caught
                                up to our happy-go-lucky rogue. Perhaps a bandit group caught
                                 her attention.
                                  Oh, but we’re getting off the subject. Let’s get back to the story.
                                   As time passed, Janzia grew deeper in the druidic ways
                                   of Tunare and was rewarded with ever-increasing power
                                    and prestige—new magics of destruction and reparation, of
                                     preservation and deterioration of life. It seemed that she
                                      had found her calling, but just as Janzia began to believe
                                       that she had mastered all of her talents and was ready
                                        to move on to more powerful magics and abilities, the
                                         calling stopped. She could no longer hear Tunare’s
                                          voice in the wind. Animals no longer came at her
                                           behest. Her power dwindled. She felt that she had
                                             been forsaken by Tunare herself. She was, of course,
                                              unaware of the greater battles occurring among the
                                               great and powerful—the battle between Tunare and
                                                Firiona Vie, and her forces against Cazic-Thule
                                                 in the Lesser Faydark. In her isolated world, she
                                                  had become deaf, dumb and blind suddenly, and
                                                   without reason.
Janzia returned to Kelethin to visit with her family, feeling abandoned and increasingly hopeless. She spent time trying to regain her gifts, but to no avail. Her screams of frustration were so
filled with despair and anger that they caused injury to those unlucky enough to be nearby.
Finally, she turned a corner. If Tunare would abandon her, then she would, in turn, forsake Tunare.
It was not long after she came to this decision that the “virtuoso” of Kelethin suddenly appeared before her. Needless to say, she was surprised by his manifestation in a room that she had
locked tight. But the virtuoso did not wait for her to accustom herself to his presence. He said, “I hear that you may have a feel for song.”
Having turned away from Tunare, she was ready to be swayed toward another path, to leave behind her history as a Druid and seek a new identity and a new name. She called herself Remalia
and started her life anew as a Bard, beholden to no god or goddess, serving her own purposes, and that of her friends and what was left of her family.
With her new calling, she set off alone to learn more about her newfound gifts, with powers that emanated from her own being, not from the grace of any deity.
Time passed. To some, it might have seemed a long time, but it was but the blink of an eye on the world’s stage, and in that time, Remalia became a great and renowned Minstrel. But irony
was to follow Remalia through her personal journeys as larger events began to unfold.
With the battle of Tunare and Firiona Vie against Cazic-Thule finally over, Tunare’s attention once again reached out to her disciples, the former Janzia among them. Of course, Tunare sought
to reinfuse the Druidic gifts into Remalia, and her attempt nearly killed the Minstrel. Realizing her error, Tunare used her immense power to pluck Remalia from the ground and surround
her with the goddess’ light. Within the goddess’ protection, the core of Janzia/Remalia’s soul split apart and then reformed, leaving two complete entities. One remained Remalia while the other,
the newer being, became the goddess dubbed Janzia, Wanderer of Tunare.
As the goddess light receded, the two-who-had-been-one stood agape. There was Janzia, and there was Remalia. It was awkward at first. Then Remalia remembered herself—her past—and angrily
cursed the new being, Janzia, Wanderer of Tunare. But even as Remalia vowed to have no part of her new self, Janzia stood basking in the light of the power that she now felt, ready to do the
goddess’ work. She was the new Janzia, and yet, in some ways, she had kept the essence of the previous one.

Part 2—The Last Straw
Tunare looked down upon the corpses of Janzia and Remalia, scowling with displeasure. “After all I have done for them, this is what they do to each other…”
It was much more than a coincidence, more than chance. The world of Norrath, the moon of Luclin, all the various planes—an area so vast—and yet these two once again had come face to face.
The circumstances are of no importance. Chance. Pure chance. But the meeting was not welcomed and did not end well.
Remalia’s hatred of her former self never abated, and upon meeting her soul twin, she struck out. Janzia, who had no memory of hate or animosity, hesitated a moment too long and suffered
from the painfully discordant notes of the Bard’s song, searing in her mind even as the sword and dagger bit at her magical shields and into her leather armor.
In response, she called upon the swarms, called upon the fires of Ro, and called upon the elements of fire and ice. Her enemy paid no heed, thrusting and hacking with her weapons and
chanting ominously. She was fueled by hatred and rage, and her eyes blazed darkly. It wasn’t long before the hierophant was on the ground, mortally wounded…drawing her last breath.
“To think that was once me,” Remalia spat out. She paid no heed to the swarms still upon her, the anger and adrenaline keeping the pain at bay. Her triumph was short-lived. The cumulative
damage began to dim her vision, and within moments, her knees buckled. She fell to the ground by the side of her vanquished opponent. All went black.
This is the tragic scene that appeared before Tunare. Two fallen Elves. Curiosity turned to worry, worry to dread, dread to angry resignation.
Being the goddess of all life, she resurrected them both, and the two Elves got to their feet, staring stupefied and disoriented. Janzia, first to recover her wits, immediately fell to her knees and
began weeping. Remalia stood defiantly. “What now?” she said, with as much malice and disrespect as she could. “Not finished with your meddling in my life, are you?”
Tunare’s response was terrible yet beautiful. “What you do with your life is of no concern to me. You made your decision. However, what you do with her life,” she said, pointing at Janzia, “is,
indeed, my concern. I will not have my own children killing each other, no matter the reason.” At this point, Remalia turned angrily and began to walk away. “Remain where you are,” Tunare
ordered in a voice that thundered. “I am not finished dealing with you.”
Remalia froze. It was not voluntary, but she was helpless in the grasp of the goddess who now turned her attention to the other Elf, Janzia. “You returned the hatred equally toward your other
self during your defence. In doing so, you have denied me a second time, and that I will not tolerate. There are no excuses; you may not speak on your own behalf. Your sentence begins now.”
She held them in her gaze and spoke to Remalia first.
“For your hate and rage against my creation and representative in this world, you will be forever bound to Janzia. You will cease to function if she is not near you. Your music will not sound;
your listeners will find you offensive. You will be paralyzed, detached and unable to interact with your surroundings. It will be as if you were never there.”
Janzia, still on her knees, felt the goddess’ attention turn to her, and she braced herself for what was to come. But she had not long to wait. “I do not accept disappointment twice, my daughter,
and so I mete out this punishment. You are hereafter cut off from my power. Your only power will come from the world around you.” She then pointed toward Remalia. “Furthermore, if she
is not with you, your magic will be as dead as her songs, and your paralysis and detachment from the world will be as hers.”

Tunare was not yet finished, and she added one more curse upon the hapless pair.
“Neither of you will ever be welcome in my home again. I will instruct my Denizens
of Growth to be as welcoming to you two as they have been for Cazic-Thule’s minions.
You have each dishonored the gifts I have offered, and this is your punishment.”
Both Remalia and Janzia opened their mouths to protest, but before they could utter
a syllable, Tunare had vanished in a flash of light, which lingered a moment, then
became a strand of radiance that fell upon the two Elves, joining them together. They
felt a strange pull through the strand, which gradually faded and disappeared. But it
remained, invisible, bonding them together.
Remalia, rebellious and angry as always, could not accept this interference by the
goddess, even if she had resurrected her. She got up to leave. After only a few steps,
however, she stopped but not of her own accord. She could not move any further. Try
as she might, her body became paralyzed as she moved away from her enemy self, and
the only path open was back to where she had been. She tried spells and chants but to
no avail. Janzia, for her part, stood like a statue, weeping.
In time, Remalia calmed down and realized that her fate was no longer in her own
hands. It was always, thus, when offending the gods, and so she came to understand
that, as bad as it seemed, it could have been worse.
“I will accept my fate,” she said to her counterpart, “but don’t think this makes us
friends now. Got it?”
Tears still streaming down her face, Janzia could only nod.

Part 3—The Understanding,
the Agreement, the Way
On the way to the Lesser Faydark, having just received a mission from one of the task
masters at the Wayfarer’s Camp in Butcherblock Mountains, Remalia and Janzia sped
past trees and minor unimportant Goblins and Scarabs. The time of adjustment had
passed, even the adjustment to running at Bard’s speed, which Janzia at first had found
disconcerting. She had abhorred its use, thinking it unnatural to be able to run faster
than the wolf or even a cheetah, but eventually, she had grown to enjoy it, especially
the way the wind blew through her hair at such remarkable speeds—and the fact that
unfriendly wolves and cheetahs could be left safely in the dust.
As they approached a natural hallway that granted access to the Greater Faydark from
the Butcherblock Mountains, dread began to creep into Janzia’s mind. “Oh, curse it.
She’s going to do it again!” she said quietly to herself, knowing full well that the Bard
wouldn’t have heard her even if she had spoken aloud.
Remalia quickly rounded the corner and sped off before the Druid could make note
of her direction. The now all-too-familiar shock of paralysis took hold, and Janzia was
suddenly stuck to one spot, totally motionless, even unable to speak. She was starting
to believe that Remalia had found a way around the punishment since she always
returned looking as though nothing happened (when actually, nothing had happened).
Still, it infuriated Janzia that Remalia seemed to enjoy this prank.
They had come to a sort-of agreement, a kind of civility and camaraderie that stopped
just short of genuine friendship. Yet there were still those moments when it wasn’t
clear to Janzia if the Bard was playing fair.
The sound of a twig snapping broke Janzia’s reverie. Not able to move or speak, she wondered who or what could be sneaking up on her.
There wasn’t much on the continent of Faydwer that could pose a serious threat to her, but she worried nonetheless.
“Enjoying the scenery, are we? It’s not that interesting, though. Not really much to see, “ said Remalia, coming up from behind. Sure enough,
Janzia felt her body unfreeze as she jumped in alarm.
“How did you DO that?” Janzia demanded.
“Do what?”
Remalia flashed mischievous grin, and Janzia had the sudden intuition that, with a little work, she might learn Remalia’s secret at last.
“You know very well what I’m talking about. How is it that you can simply run around without being comatose from Tunare’s Punishment?”
“Tunare’s Punishment? Is that what you’re calling that filthy curse these days?” the Bard said, seemingly holding back laughter.
“Don’t change the subject,” said Janzia petulantly. “How is it you can leave me while I stand here stupified?”
“It’s all in your head, you know. At least, it is now.”
“What are you talking about?” asked the Druid, a dreadful thrill moving up her spine.
Remalia sat down and made herself comfortable. She didn’t seem to care that they were in the middle of a well-worn path. “Remember when
we snuck into the Plane of Growth to forage for something—I forget what it was—for that Ranger?”
Janzia, impatiently answered, “Yes, yes, Branch of Planar Oak for Gaddor, I remember.”
“Well, while you were busy rooting through some dead branches, I ran over to Tunare’s tree where I found many Ogres, Trolls, Iksars and
Humans preparing to…bid her hello, you know?” Remalia explained.
Janzia’s eyes narrowed, “Bid her hello, you say. Why don’t I believe you?”
Remalia waved her hands in the air noncommittally. “Bid her hello, vanquish her and her aides, however you want to describe it. Suffice it to
say, once she hit the dirt, the curse was broken, and we were free to wander as we wished.”
Janzia’s jaw practically hit the ground. “You mean we…”
“That’s right.”
“All this time we…”
“So why do you…”
“We had a deal, remember?”
Janzia sighed. “Oh.” She stood a moment, thinking it through. Should she be angry or relieved? Grateful or upset? In the end, she said simply,
“Thank you.”
“Thank me? For what? Your freedom?” Remalia was utterly confounded.
“No, for everything. For sticking with me when you could have left me to rot.” She regarded the Bard seriously.
“For everything,” she repeated quietly.
Janzia cast a spell and disappeared.
“My, oh my, she does learn quickly, even though I had to show her the way,” she said to the empty air. Then she pulled her favorite drum
from her pack. She would catch up with Janzia at their spawn point. There was a lot of adventuring still to do, and a lot of taunting as well.
And that’s our story. We were once one, and then we were two, and now we are one again. Look for us on the trail to adventure.
     Part ii—everquest II
     Player Fiction

                                                                                                                           The Blackburrow Papers
                                                                                                                          By Loligo

                                                                                                                       Anolis stepped out of the gates of Northern Qeynos. He heard the
                                                                                                                      guards yell, “Good luck,” as they slammed the gates shut behind him.
                                                                                                                     Anolis checked himself over, a ritual he’d gotten into before every battle
                                                                                                                    to ensure his armor was in good condition. As he glanced down, he
                                                                                                                   noticed a Gnoll ear had become caught in his chest plate.
                                                                                                                  “Argh, that’s just nasty,” he muttered as he tore the ear from his armor and
                                                                                                                flung it over his shoulder.
                                                                                                              “Hey,” cried a young voice from behind him, “watch what your doing, fathead.”
                                                                                                            Anolis quickly spun around, ready to apologize. “Oh, Boday. It’s only you. Quit
                                                                                                           your moaning. A Gnoll ear being flung at you is the least of your worries today.”
                                                                                                         “Why, what kind of death wish do you have tonight?” inquired Boday, to which
                                                                                                        Anolis returned an evil grin.

     “Blackburrow…We’re going in there tonight,” he announced. “I need to recover some stolen papers.”
     “Great,” his friend answered. “I need to visit Blackburrow, too.” And with that, he was off, running in the general direction of Blackburrow.
     “Wait!” yelled Anolis. “We’ll catch a Griffin. This way, Boday!”
     Boday, meanwhile, had decided to take a few practice shots at passing Gnolls, chuckling to himself as the first Gnoll went down. He never failed to be amused by the power he wielded, nor
     had he yet developed the respect it deserved. Lightening struck the second Gnoll just as Anolis stepped up beside him.
     “Boday, please stay focused,” he said. “Blackburrow is where we are heading.”
     “I know, I know. I was just bored,” muttered the young mage.
     Anolis sighed. “Mages, you’re all the same.”
     “Let’s go,” Anolis said sternly as he ran off to catch the Griffon.
     “Anolis, you’re going the wrong way,” shouted Boday. “Anolis, watch out for that…”
“Ahhh, Rune Casters!” Anolis screamed as a bolt of lighting pounded into his head, nearly knocking him to the ground. He stumbled, and ran back to where Boday was watching and just
getting ready to cast a spell.
“This way Boday,” called Anolis, urgently. “Come on…Don’t linger…I’ve picked up a few followers.” Anolis ran past Boday, and soon they were both sprinting toward the Griffon Station,
shaking off the pursuing Gnolls along the way.
Anolis said, “Steppes Station, Boday. I’ll see you there.”
From Steppes Station, the pair made their way to Blackburrow, managing to avoid any further encounters. Now, they stood near the entrance, assessing the situation.
“I have to find some tacticians in there,” said Anolis. “I’ve been told they should have what I’m looking for.”
With that, they headed in, Anolis in the lead. Most of the creatures down here looked at Anolis and Boday rather timidly and backed away. They recognized superior firepower when they
saw it. But as they descended, they began to spot stronger Gnolls, some protecting areas and others working on whatever Gnolls worked on.
They were about to start an attack when they were interrupted by another warrior. “Hey, there. Are fighting things down here?”
Anolis almost said, “Damn, fight them? Was planning on asking for the papers,” but he held his tongue, saying instead, “Yes, fellow warrior. We are here to destroy the Gnolls.”
“You’re more than welcome to join our group,” said the stranger. “We are also down here hunting Gnolls. My friends are around the corner.”
Anolis and Boday happily joined the group, which ended up being four fighters, two mages and a priest. After a brief discussion, they asked Anolis to lead the group, which he accepted
enthusiastically. “They must have heard of my great skills as an accomplished warrior,” he thought privately, but said, “Great, guys. I’ll do my best to keep the Gnolls at bay. Just hit them
with whatever you can.”
After a bit of preparation, Anolis led them into their first battle against a pack of 10 Gnolls, destroying them all with relative ease. As always, the group began to salvage items from the
Gnome corpses, but then a scuffle broke out.
“I need that!”
“Me, too!”
“I had it first!”
Two members of the group were holding onto either end of some kind of statue, tugging and shouting at each other.
“STOP!” yelled one of the warriors, pulling the statue from the pair’s grasp. “There is more than enough stuff down here for us all. Be civilized. We can SHARE.” Then he passed the
statue to another member of the group. “OK. This guy has one now. But we won’t stop until everyone has one, understood?”
Everyone agreed, the moment passed and the group made their way to the next cave.
They spent several hours slaying Gnolls and sharing the loot. During a lull in the action when everyone was examining their statues, Anolis saw out of the corner of his eye that a very
advanced group of Gnolls was about to attack one of the mages. Anolis dropped his statue to the ground as he ran toward the mage, managing to taunt the attacking Gnolls, waving
his morning star in a few of their faces and then quickly shattering the head of one. Of course, the Gnolls turned on Anolis, worked up and angry at the brutal attack on one of their
members. Not that Gnolls need much to get them angry, but these Gnolls were really angry.
It’s too much, thought Anolis. I can’t take much more. Seeing that the rest were running in to help, he knew that it would be to no avail. They would be overwhelmed.
“Run!” yelled Anolis, even as he took a blow that sent him to the ground in a limp heap. The rest of the group scattered, some of them running from the caves while others, who tried to
defend Anolis, only joined him among the fallen.
Only one member of the group managed to survive the attack and escape Blackburrow. Fortunately, the priest was able to resurrect herself first and then the rest of the party. Death need
not be permanent when there’s a priest around.
“The gods are shining down upon us today,” said one of the warriors as the group reformed. Close calls often signal a good stopping point, and in this case, it was true for most of the
party’s members. It was enough action for one night, and so they began their goodbyes. Anolis left Blackburrow, disappointed and slightly annoyed. He never got the papers he originally
sought in Blackburrow.
What did he come away with? Settling to the ground, he opened his bags and began assessing the loot. There! What was that? He was just about to cast it aside when, upon closer
inspection, he saw a sheaf of papers hiding among the other items. “This is it. This is what I need!” exclaimed Anolis. Jumping to his feet, he said to his friend Boday, “Let’s go. It was a
good mission. Let’s cash in.”

The Wastelands of Zek
By P. Lipscombe

The “Salty Halfling” dropped anchor just before dawn at the dark and quiet Zek port. Her crew had prepared the docking ships, and a small landing party made its way inland.
As the last of the cargo was unloaded for the waiting soldiers, an armor-clad figure slipped from the shadows and made its way across the wooden floor of the mariner. The mist was still heavy
in the air, and the morning was quiet for once, in a land more used to the screams of the waring clans.
The mysterious figure made its way inland, past the merchants setting up for the day, until it came upon a small Dwarf huddled near a tent.
“Are you Bogstrutter?” a gentle voice asked.
“Aye, that I be,” the Dwarf replied. “And who’s doing the askin’?”
The figure pulled off its great helmet, revealing the dark hair and pointed ears of a Half Elf.
“Hail, Mr. Bogstrutter.” The Half Elf raised its hand in a quick salute. “I am Paleion, high-level Templar just in from Qeynos.”
Bogstrutter eyed the Half Elf up and down.
“Hail, indeed. ’Tis a long way to come just to see me!”
Paleion laughed. “Indeed, it is! I was instructed to seek you out. I am told you are the Dwarf to see if one needs a guide to these lands.”
“Ahhh,” said the Dwarf, realization dawning. “You seek to learn of this land! Well, of course I can help you.” His hand dove into a box and produced a tattered book. “This is the famous
Bogstrutter Guide to Old Grove, but I’m afraid it is only half complete,” he said.
Paleion looked momentarily distressed but then raised his head and smiled. “I don’t suppose you need someone to finish it, do you?”
Bogstrutter grinned and held the book out with a calloused, stubby hand. “Now, that would be grand! And, of course, I will pay handsomely.”
“Of course,” repeated the Templar Paleion, taking the book and tucking it safely into his tunic. “I will return shortly.”
Paleion stood back and bowed slightly to the Dwarf who stood and returned the bow solemnly but with a mischievous grin.
As Paleion walked off toward the battlements, he caught a whisper of the Dwarf’s last comment as it floated on the breeze. “…If you return at all…”
The sun was beginning to peek over the distant mountains by the time Paleion donned his helmet and waved to the guard at the gate to let him pass. The guard, seeing the armor of the
Templar, opened the door wide and wished him well. It paid to be polite to the servants of the gods.
Paleion made his way past the battlements and further from the relative safety of the walls, but the signs of a recent struggle were still evident around him. Corpses of Orcs had been left to rot
where they fell as a sign to the clans to keep back, lest they, too, wished to join their brethren.
He looked up at the new land before him. Orange clay ground, baked dry by the relentless heat, towering mountains in the near distance—these were to be his company for the next few days.
Here and there he encountered burnt stubs of trees, occasional fauna and movements just out of his field of vision, felt if not seen, which reminded him to be on his guard.
He stopped and leaned against the bole of a surviving tree—a giant maple, he thought—and pulled out the book, studying by the new light of the morning.
Ten locations were listed, mostly military sights, which were generally only spoken of in rumors. The garrison here would likely pay Bogstutter well for confirming their existence. A hand-
drawn map pointed to their presumed locations.
Paleion pulled out a small vial of sepia ink and a willow pen, and plotted a rough course that would take him past all 10 sites and back to the dock. The way ahead looked fairly clear this early,
so he pulled on his feyiron gloves and set off toward the distant mountains.
He had barely gone, it seemed, within spitting distance of the battlements when the sound of a drawn sword put him on instant alert. From the distant outcrop of rock, a blackened figure was
rushing toward him, followed by many others in the distance. He pulled his mighty staff from his back and began to speak the words of the gods in a clear, loud voice that all could hear.
Suddenly, the clouds parted, and a mighty crack of lightning illuminated the surrounding land, even in the dawn of light. A brilliant beam of orange and red fire hit the figure as it approached,
and a flash of light blinded Paleion for a second.
When his sight cleared, the charred body of a mighty Orc lay near his feet, wisps of smoke gently washing away with the early morning breeze.
The land fell silent as though the mountains themselves were holding their breath. Paleion held his staff high and slowly looked around. Figures were scurrying into holes and disappearing from
sight. He thanked the gods and proceeded on his way…
“Don’t mess with the Templar,” he muttered. “Time to complete the Dwarf’s book.”

Combating a Threat!
By Giraku—

The sea breeze blew up over the shores of Gorowyn Beach. Its salty smell tingled in Giraku’s nose as he climbed the stairs to the Green Overlook. His recent battles against the Blackshield
Pirates on the beach had had been successful, so now he had been asked to report to Standard Ku’Uul. His green armor glistened in the sunlight as he found his way up the small slope,
which had created a small, windy valley for the sea wind. He loved the smell of the sea and the feel of the wet, salty breeze that accompanied the soft sound of crashing waves. When he
arrived, Standard Ku’Uul was waiting.
“Good. You’ve arrived,” Sarnak said in a gruff, gravely voice. “I was sent here to combat the invasion of the Blackshields although I don’t know why I’m needed. Their attack was so
disjointed that it was almost laughable.” He seemed to wave off the opposition with a gesture, then continued, “Still, we have our jobs to do, don’t we?”
He walked to the edge of the camp and gestured into the distance. “Here’s what has been going on. You see, to the far west, the Pirates have set up a strong encampment within a small
cove, and above that cove lies yet another encampment. The commanding officer of these encampments is Captain Redspit. He is your target.”
Sarnak pointed to the west over the hill. “You see, these fools may not know how to plan an invasion, but they do know how to keep there higher-ups safe. Redspit uses a Griffin known as
Blackfeather to fly between their ship and his cave. What we need is Blackfeather’s reins.”
Giraku blinked, listening. “…so that we can fly to the ship?”
“All right. Does Redspit keep the reins on his person?” asked Giraku.
“Not as far as we know,” said Standard Ku’Uul. “Our current intelligence tells us that the good captain keeps the reins in a lockbox in his cave; however, the key to the box…that, he does
keep with him at all times.”
“I understand,” stated Giraku. “First the key, then the reins.”
“Good,” Standard Ku’Uul said, then chuckled, adding, “I wonder if they will become more aggressive when the Pirates choose a new leader. No time to speculate now, though. Time to get
moving, soldier.”
“Yes, sir!”
With a quick salute, Giraku turned to the west and started up the overlook. Giraku was a holy knight who fought in Karana’s name; however, he also used dark magic taught by the
Sarnak. He kept this a secret from the rest of the standard, who were simply warriors and not knights, neither holy nor unholy.
As he crossed the green, sprawling hillside, he spied many Chokidai wandering around. He did his best to avoid the scaled beasts. He figured that he’d need all of his strength to take down
this Pirate captain. There was none to waste on fighting along the way.
As he crested the top of the hill, a large camp came into view to his right. All around it Trolls, Ogres, Ratonga, Humans and several other races stood around drinking, sharpening their
blades, playing cards and generally at ease. They didn’t seem the slightest bit worried; however, Giraku noted there were sentries in various posts while a few others paTrolled the area. Just
above him was the cave he sought. He had just turned to seek a path up to it when he heard a commotion in the camp. Whirling around, he saw that three of the paTrolling guards were
charging at him.
He leapt back quickly, drawing the blade from his back scabbard. He stood waiting for the three Pirates, holding his ground. The three attackers all seemed to wear similar armor—a black
leather tunic with blue etchings. Each wore a patch on their shoulders, a symbol of rank, he thought. Two of the Pirates, one with a long sword, the other with a spear, darted to either side,
as an Ogre who bore a massive claymore rushed at him directly.
“Clever,” Giraku muttered. As he concentrated on the approaching Ogre, he felt something sharp graze his flank. His head turned to see the spearman swinging from the spear’s range. The
spear came at him again, and Giraku jumped backward. He saw behind him the gleam of steel and realized that was doing just what the Pirates had planned. Thinking quickly, he ducked
into a tight roll to the side, causing the striking Pirate with the long sword to miss him completely. The Ogre, meanwhile, was upon him, raising his claymore high above his head, ready to
bring it down upon his head. Giraku quickly swung his blade, severing the Ogre’s foot. With a bellow of pain, the monstrous Pirate fell back, hopping on his one foot. Giraku sprang from
his crouch, arching his blade from below his right leg to cleave the Ogre in two. The mighty slash of his weapon was the last thing the Ogre ever saw.
As what was left of the Ogre slumped to the ground, the remaining two looked momentarily stunned. Then, coming to their senses, they renewed their assault. The spearman feinted to the
left and struck. Giraku swung his blade like a pendulum and smashed the shaft of the spear. The Pirate gazed at the remains of his ruined weapon and shouted something that Giraku did
not understand. He assumed it was a curse of some sort.

     The spearman charged headlong at him, attempting to use the remains of his spear as a club. With a quick twist of his tail, he tripped the Pirate, and as he fell, Giraku’s blade came down
     in a perfect strike. Giraku rapidly lifted his blade, throwing the corpse off to the side. The swordsman looked over Giraku and sized up his chances. With a loud bellow, he called to his
     companions in the camp. Giraku gasped as he saw a small army of Pirates and Cutthroats running in his direction. They encircled him, giving Giraku no option but to fight them all.
     “Look at the lil’ Lizard!” one of them taunted.
     “Aye, we can turn him into a few fine pairs of boots!” added another.
     Giraku charged at the original swordsman who had brought this horde into the fray, swinging his blade in a downward cut meant to cleave the man’s skull. A Claymore swung up and
     countered the blow, holding it off.
     “What the…!” Giraku exclaimed. It was an Ogre who had intervened.
     At that moment, one of the Pirates yelled, “Attack!” He ran toward Giraku, his blade swinging wildly. Too wildly, it turned out, because Giraku took a step backward and thrust his blade in
     an upward arc, disemboweling the fool. But there were still nearly two dozen Pirates—men and women—surrounding him with weapons at the ready.
     “He can’t take us all!!!” shouted the Ogre, who had foiled his attack before, echoing his own assessment of the situation. There was no time for reflection, however, as the Ogre was met by three
     other Pirates all coming at him at once. They swung their blades at him in simultaneous fury. Giraku crouched and felt his innate instincts take hold. His powerful leg muscles tightened, and he
     sprang into the air, warding against the attack and striking quickly as he cleared the ring of enemies, landing on the open grass. As he landed, four Pirates fell, their heads spurting blood.
     When he landed, he fell into a low crouch. His enemies turned to face him.
     “That Lizard is a monster!” one of them screamed, and he did his best to live up to his description. He remained crouched, his powerful legs ready to spring, his blade in a defensive position but
     ready to strike. His yellow eyes gleamed at his would-be killers, the blood and gore of those he’d slain dripping from his blade. His sharp draconic teeth seemed to flash in the afternoon light.
     The Pirates hesitated momentarily, and that’s when he attacked. He surged forward, slashing relentlessly, wildly and with deadly effect. The Pirates also sprang into action, attacking with
     screams and curses, wildly and desperately. It was one against 20, and it seemed a brave but foolish attempt, destined to fail. Still, Giraku ducked and weaved, barely dodging a sea of swinging
     blades. He received a few cuts, but his armor and natural scales deflected many of the poorly aimed blows.
     Meanwhile, he slashed and dodged and struck and thrust, and one by one, the Pirates fell, but not quickly. The battle raged on for close to an hour, and yet, with each passing minute, the
     odds changed. Tired beyond imagining, nevertheless, Giraku’s blade bit deeply into his enemies one after another, and the odds changed with each incremental victory. Finally, one remained.
     It was the Ogre who had first thwarted him, and the two enemies faced off, each panting from the effort. It was kill or be killed, and they each recognized this moment of truth. They
     lunged simultaneously, but Giraku did not go straight for his opponent who he knew would take the most direct path. He shifted his footing slightly to change the angle of attack and, with a
     whirling cut, beheaded the last-standing enemy.
     He stood alone now but for the corpses, and surveyed the carnage of a battle that he knew he should not have won. His moment of triumph was not to be savored at leisure, however. His eyes
     turned to the cave, and he sprang into motion as fast as his body would allow. He was tired, battered and bruised, but it was time to finish his mission. He peered into the cave and saw no
     more Pirates within. On a ledge high above the cave floor stood the captain.
     “Ahhh, so this is the mighty knight who has slain a better part of my forces!” called Redspit from his perch. “You have caused me a lot of trouble,” he added, pointing a bony, gloved
     finger at Giraku.
     The Pirate leader shook his head slowly, smiling faintly. “You know, you would make a fine Blackshield, maybe even one of the best. Why not join me and together…This entire island…All
     the islands…could be all ours!” His red-leather-clad hand clenched into a tight fist, which he raised above his head in a dramatic gesture.
     “What do you say my friend? Will you take up my offer? Will you rule with the power of the Blackshields?”
     Giraku took a slow, deep breath, watching the captain pace upon his perch. He waited until the Pirate seemed to have finished his little speech and then asked, “Are you finished
     talking, Human?”
     “I have offered you a generous opportunity, warrior, and yet you refuse? Fool. You’ve just sealed your fate!”
     Redspit leapt from his perch and ducked into a deep crouch, simultaneously drawing his blade. Then, in a rush, he charged forward. Giraku brought his blade down to meet the captain’s rising
     slash, driving it to the ground where it hit a rock with a clanging sound.
     Redspit turned and ran backward into the cave, dragging his blade and leaving a trail of bright sparks, which temporarily blinded Giraku. Still, Giraku followed his enemy into the cave where
     he was at an even greater disadvantage. The wily Redspit then threw his dagger at the far wall, causing Giraku to turn toward the sound and leave his back open to Redspit’s blade. Giraku
     gasped as he felt the impact of the blade and stumbled forward.
     The Pirate’s blow was damaging but not fatal and, immediately, Giraku whirled his blade around, but the Pirate captain was ready for the blow, and the two blades clashed again. By this time,
     Giraku’s sight was returning, and he was able to feint to the right and slash to the left.

Redspit was ready, however, and countered the strike. This is just what Giraku had
counted on. Pivoting away from the captain’s block, he spun effortlessly around his enemy
and positioned himself to deliver a mortal blow from behind. The high attack hit home;
Redspit uttered one last cry of surprise and fell to the stone. He was dead.
Giraku quickly found the key that Redspit carried, and a brief search revealed the lockbox.
Soon, he was on the way, back to deliver the Griffin’s reins to Standard Ku’Uul, as
promised. There were no more formidable challenges. All the Pirates were dead.
“All right. Now it is time to finish them off,” said Standard Ku’Uul. “Ride Blackfeather
over to Captain Boil’s ship and…you know what to do.” He showed no emotion but simply
relayed the task as if it were nothing more than a walk in the park.
Giraku assented and, now recovered from his battles, felt ready to end the Blackshields for good.
With his sword safely scabbarded, he hurried to Blackfeather’s hitching post near Redspit’s cave. Once
the Griffin was set loose, it took flight and headed offshore toward a large wooden vessel.
The ride to the ship would have been quite magnificent, but Giraku’s focus was on killing, not sightseeing.
His landing was no picnic, either, as the Griffin hit the deck hard and knocked him from his perch. He landed
with a smacking thud, which brought a crewman running.
The man saw Giraku and pulled his blade, lifting it high above his head in an awkward attack. Giraku slashed with his
talons, badly scratching the man’s face. The crewman cried out, his hands to his face, blood gushing between his fingers, and in
apparent agony, he stumbled and fell over the side, splashing into the water below.
Giraku whirled, ready for another threat. He quickly spotted Captain Boil in a heated conversation with the helmsman. Seeing that he had been
spotted, Boil stepped away from the helm and stared down at Giraku as one might look at a mangy animal.
Boil, a large and powerfully built man, was possessed of a palpable air of superiority and confidence. “What have we here?” He inquired to nobody in particular. “Is it
one of the filthy slimes from the island?”
His laughter was laced with derision.
“No,” answered Giraku. “I am the deliverer of your death.” He took a step toward the looming captain. “You’ve done far too much to this island. This will come to an end. I will end it,”
Giraku told him.
Boil sneered cruelly, his lip curled in disdain. “And just what will you do to stop me?” he inquired with absolutely no curiosity. “You mean to come up here and kill me? I think not. Do you
not realize that the decks below us are crawling with my men?”
“Boil,” Giraku said, closing his eyes as if showing the utmost forbearance toward this foolish Human. “Did you know that my kind are part Dragon?”
“Oh? And just why should I be carin’ about your sorry heritage, Lizard?”
Giraku took another step forward. “Because if you were a smart man,” he said, “you would have run long ago. You see, it’s never a good idea to tempt a Dragon!”
“You are no Dragon,” said Boil, defiantly. “You’re just an overgrown Lizard.”
“In that, you are wrong, captain. For the blood of Dragons even now awakens within me.”
Indeed, Giraku’s eyes began to glow with a dark, blood-red light. His features went rigid. It was as he had said. The Dragon blood was awakening in his veins. “Now!” he cried. “Feel the wrath
of the Sarnak!”
The holy knight, now transformed, opened his mouth, and a stream of flame spewed forth, enveloping the deck.
Boil stepped back to avoid the flames, crying out, “What in the…? Crew! Everyone on deck! Now! Kill the thing.”
Giraku turned and shot flame at the hatches that led to the lower decks, burning everything in sight and turning the ship into an inferno. He stopped to assess. The ship was burning. The
crew were trapped below. The helmsman jumped overboard, saving his own hide. And Boil cowered against the bulkhead, the flames licking at his boots.
“You see, Boil…” said Giraku cooly. “A pathetic Human, such as you, should never underestimate a Dragon or a Sarnak.
Boil watched, helpless, as Giraku leapt to the back of the great Griffon, Blackfeather, and flew up above the stricken ship. The last thing Boil remembered before he met his fate, falling through
the burning deck into a maelstrom below, was the sight of Giraku the Dragon hovering above him, astride Blackfeature, brandishing his sword as he called, “Never underestimate a Dragon!”

     On Being a Guardian
     By Spratt

     In the most basic sense, I suppose my job is to die.
     Let me clarify.
     My job is to die in the defense of others who have placed their trust in me. In a lighter sense, my job is to have my bones broken, be skewered by blades thrust at my comrades,
     take the slashes and piercing meant for my companions, and make sure everybody but me is in perfect health at the end of a fight.
     I am a Guardian. This is what I do.
     My name is Feralla. I am a Kerra in the service of Qeynos, the shining light of Norrath in the tumultuous time after The Shattering. I am writing this down because I need to
     illuminate the trials that we, the Guardians, go through. Is this meant to impugn the contributions of other heroes? Absolutely not. But in my own selfish way, I believe us (along
     with the other professions capable of standing toe to toe with a Dragon and not be burned to ashes) to be the lynchpins of the standard group. This is important to me, to us, and
     for others to understand what it is we do. And I’m not only referring to us serving the beacon of Qeynos; I’m also including those who are under the thrall of the Overlord. Call
     them evil, call them misguided, call them whatever you wish—they do the same thing as us. We are a brotherhood, a band of warriors whose purpose is not to kill…but to protect.
     I want to begin by explaining my own origins and how I came about to this way of life. Of course, it is a bit egotistical, but this treatise is as much for my benefit as it is for
     the readers:
     When I was young, I was reared on the tales of great heroes—the knights in gleaming silver armor who faced down the undead, giants and even dragons. These quintessential
     champions always fought alone, battling the enemy with nothing but their sword and their armor. And I wanted to be one. It was my dream to one day stand head to paw in
     bright, gloriously plated armor, look at my enemies face to face and win the day with the strength of my courage and my sword arm.
     Unfortunately, reality is not so kind. Stories are just that. Stories. The seeds were true, but the plant they grew into was nothing more than fancy. And thus I learned as I
     continued to grow. I learned swordsmanship. I studied the correct uses and forms of armor, the martial skills necessary to move and fight in them, and the more I learned, the
     more I understood the fundamental truth behind my true role in life.
     Let me digress for a moment. I wonder how many who read this can truly understand the pain we warriors feel. Not the momentary pain of the broken bone before a cleric
     calls upon his or her divine powers of healing nor the pain of having a sword rammed into your stomach. I’m talking about the constant, agonizing, repeated pain we go through.
     As a Guardian, it is my job to take the hits that would fell the lesser members of my party. I accept this and, in fact, embrace it. Without me, or one like me, a group of heroes
     would not get very far. We play vital roles, and it is gratifying. But the pain—that is when I am forced to second guess my decisions. I’m sure all heroes have had that moment
     of tremendous agony before a servant of the gods heals them. But as Guardians, we go through that all the time. I am constantly being broken, stabbed, bled and cut. And I am
     continually healed by the extraordinary divine providence of a companion. But it continues without rest. Over and over, my arm snaps in half, only to be healed a moment later. I
     cannot take heart nor relief in this moment of painlessness; I know for a fact that my arm will be broken again very soon. Now, imagine that jarring pain happening all over your
     body…again…and again…and again.
     Yes, I think it is a testament to the warrior’s strength of will that not more of us have gone insane. This sensation of pain is a way of life for us. We continually feel our bodies
     snap, we see our blood on the dank floor of a long-forgotten dungeon and we hear our own last breaths whistling away, only to be brought back to life—all physical discomfort gone.
     Yet the emotional and spiritual scars remain. I know for a fact that my leg is in perfect health. Yet late at night, I feel the phantom break, and I am certain if I reach down, my
     fingers will caress the sticky, bloody bone jutting out of my knee. It is a cross I must bear, and I bear it willingly.
     I hold no illusions about the value we bring to a group of heroes. I know how admired and loved we are. I don’t want this essay to be seen as some sort of desperate cry for
     attention, a treatise on how nobody appreciates us. You do appreciate us. And we are so grateful. It’s why we do what we do. The reason I write this down is more of an
     advisement to young ones who read those stories of heroes, so they can understand what they will get into. So they aren’t stuck to the fantasies of the past. So they won’t be rudely
     awakened to reality like I was.
     I have never regretted for a moment my decision to become a Guardian. Giving my body, giving my life so that my comrades may live is the noblest calling there can be. So, if you
     are reading this, be aware of the true realities of life. Don’t march into the future blindly.
     Remember that you are a Guardian. Your job is to die. Accept that death with all your heart, and you will never be sorry.
     Feralla of Castle Lightwolf

Gutu da Trooby Door
By Mikaelous

Dis is da stoory of how Gutu, dat’s me, became a trooby door.
(Clears throat.)
One day wen yuung Gutu was out playin his fav’rite game of “Bash da shortie” sumfing happened. Gutu noticed dat da shorties each made a dif’rent sound wen he
bashes dem. Dis one sqeeked, dat one growned and de fird one wimpered. Dis suprised Gutu so much dat he got to bash dem a few times more. Den it happend! Gutu
get ideea. Gutu not like ideeas, dey hurts head but dis was a good ideea. Gutu takes da shorties home, dis always dangey russ as Bookoo, dat’s Gutu’s ma, likes to cooks
da shorties. But Gutu stops his ma from eeting da shorties long enuff for him to play a toon on dem. Da big show went well til de fird hour den Bookoo, dat’s Gutu’s
ma, gets angry wid all da noise and smaks Gutu, dat’s me, over da heed wivva pan. An it was a big pan too, hurt almost as much as ideea dids.
Aneway, dat was wen Gutu knoo dat it was his density to be a trooby door. It wood have been eesier if Bookoo hadent eeten my instryments.
De end.
Gutu da Trooby Door.
     The Falconer                                                     Norrathian Nursery Rhymes
     By Ivanara                                                       By Silverclaw II

     Resting here, the Falconer has slept his final day.              Pounce! Goes the Kerra! (A Norrath Version of Pop! Goes the Weasel!)
     Leave it to the gentle ones to go a gentle way.
                                                                      All around the Lavastorm ground
     Autumn has its colors true, and he had his as well.
                                                                      The Goblin chased the Kerra.
     Silver sheen of aged hair around his shoulders fell.
     Evening blue his eyes had shone, blue with blindness touch.      The Goblin stopped to pick his nose,
     Scarlet red his working coat with sleeves worn over much.        POUNCE! Goes the Kerra!
     His work took its toll on him until his final day.
                                                                      (Where’d this little ditty come from? When I was doing writs in Lavastorm, I found that I
     Leave it to the Falconer to find this place to lay!              did a lot of running from the heroic Goblin patrols. I quickly learned the safe spots to run to
     Here upon an empty stage within a city square,                   without picking up any aggro and eventually made a hot key to say this in Goblin when one
     On order of the Overlord, no music happens there,                started chasing me.…seriously!)
     No silver notes of requiem to grace his deafened ears,           The Citadel Is Falling Down! (A Norrath version of London Bridge)
     No gathering of mourners come to shed their final tears.
     Yet still within this quiet place The Falconer has friends,      The Cit-a-del is falling down!
     Perched amongst the rafters here from dawn till daytime ends.    Falling down! Falling down!
     No falcon flies to hunt today within the Commonland.             The Cit-a-del is falling down!
     Each bird comes to mourn here, and upon the stage they stand.    My queen, my lady!
     They say outside of Freeport that the city’s filled with hate.   Lucan’s guards do flee away!
     And though it may be true today, I need to plainly state         Flee away! Flee away!
                                                                      Lucan’s guards do flee away!
     That yesterday the Falconer had stood alive and strong.
                                                                      My queen, my lady!
     Yesterday those words of Freeport others speak were wrong.
     Let it be of light and dark, and let it be so clear!             Qeynos ha-as won the day!
                                                                      Won the day! Won the day!
     Let the ones who don’t believe my song close their ears.         Qeynos ha-as won the day!
     Let the ones who claim the just and hate us for our choice       My queen, my lady!
     Say another’s died today, oh, let them all rejoice!
                                                                      (This was inspired by a piece of Mystic Trunks01’s story, “Tales of Norrath.” The first verse
     They will say their war is won but one man at a time.            came out as soon as I started whistling the tune, then I couldn’t stop putting in the rest. I can
     And this man was from Freeport so, for him, a hole and lime.     easily imagine seeing his future children singing this in a forest clearing.)
     No blessing from a gentle god for this man, not today!
     Let them play at angels while the falcons mourn and pray.
     Resting here, the Falconer has slept his final day.
     Leave it to the gentle ones to go a gentle way.
     Autumn has its colors true, and he had his as well.
     Silver sheen of aged hair around his shoulders fell.
     Evening blue his eyes had shone, blue with blindness touch,
     Scarlet red his working coat with sleeves worn over much.
     His work took its toll on him until his final day.
     Blessings to the Falconer to find this place to lay.


To top