[Suggested] Journals of Donovan Part 21 - 25

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[Suggested] Journals of Donovan Part 21 - 25

Post  Kiel Reid on Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:21 pm

(As a note I found these journal were given to Garrett Maevers via the forums. Credit should go to the players who created them for all I did was copy and paste.)

Part XXI: The price we pay.

Mere hours after our victory over Florin, we found ourselves poised yet again to confront a powerful enemy. Many of our number still had rents in their armor from the earlier combat, but we stood ready to fight of an army of goblins and ga'vin led by the warlord Gnosh. Some luck had been afforded us, and though we were not fully recovered from our earlier combats, we had time enough to organize a defense. Our arcanes had discovered the spell Florin had used against us earlier, and now prepared to turn it against Gnosh and his men. In addition, the people of the town constructed a massive pit trap in the field outside the Inn. Lastly, the Orcs had agreed to join Gnosh's forces, supposedly wanting to see the town destroyed. They would fight passively, waiting for the chance to turn on Gnosh and weaken either him or his ga'vin forces. Roland equipped them with a war drum so we would know when the attack was on its way, and so we waited for the beat that would bring battle once again to the Haven.

Night came, and over whispered conversations and the sound of craftsmen at their task we heard the steady rhum-rhum... rhum-bum that meant our time had run out. We gathered at the edge of our trap and waited. Steadily they came on, marching in a vast horde that extended beyond the limits of my vision. We all waited anxiously as they neared the trap, and when the first rank of goblins fell into their doom a great joy was felt among Haven defenders. Again we rejoiced as the second and third ranks met a similar fate. Our celebration was short-lived, however, as a stunning realization came over us. The ranks following after simply walked over the traps, stepping on the bodies of their fallen comrades. There would be no bottleneck as we had hoped, they simply had enough warriors to sacrifice huge numbers and make our traps useless. Moreover, none of the ga'vin had fallen into the traps, meaning that our fiercest foes were still unharmed.

Our lines met theirs, and for a moment all direction was lost in the haze of battle. Even in the darkness it was easy to see that we were no match for their numbers. We gave ground steadily, falling back to the Inn and eventually gathering within it. Nuk was there; ready with the spell we hoped would decimate Gnosh's army. She cast it, and we saw the now-familiar bars of light streak up from the earth outside. Our fighters engaged immediately, hoping to take advantage of the pain and confusion among Gnosh's forces and drive them back. They found no pain, no confusion, indeed no apparent effect from the spell at all. Somehow the army had resisted the spell, and another of our advantages had been undone. Our last surprise, the real allegiance of the Orcs, was not something we could use lightly, so Jux and I traded blows to the shield time and again in the back door of the Inn. The enemies outside had no idea that our combat was not sincere, and it allowed many of our people time to rest and heal. Finally, there appeared a lapse in the battle, and I left the doorway to aid Nuk in the transference of life to our strongest warriors.

The battle resumed its former ferocity at a particularly bad moment for Nuk and I. She had all but depleted her own life when the enemies began forcing their way into the Inn. She and I ran out the back door and into the brush nearby, where I began to replenish her life force. One at a time, I saw Haven's defenders run into the wood line in an attempt to escape Gnosh's forces. Before anyone could rally our numbers together, we had all but abandoned the field. For the first time since my arrival in the Haven, we had been forced from our home.

We crept like animals in the woods, trying not to be seen or heard by the patrols Gnosh sent after us. While avoiding capture we came across Kabre, Atrum, Sethreal, Vaus, and Lao. Together we took to the woods, following Atrum to a clearing he believed that Roland and some others might use as a rallying point. Our attempts at stealth failed us only once, when a patrol of goblins and ga'vin stumbled across us in the darkness. The fight was short but ferocious, with my companions and I fighting like cornered animals. We dispatched the patrol, and swiftly made our way away from the site of the battle. As we fled, we could hear other patrols and see lights in the distance.

When we allowed ourselves time to heal, we heard a group of ga'vin pass within mere feet of our position. Fear began to creep into the hearts and minds of my companions, especially when we reached Atrum's clearing and found it empty. Together, we then decided to strike back against the forces occupying the Haven. Skirting the main road, we crept back toward the town – ready to kill any opposition we found or die trying. Atrum and Sethreal scouted ahead, and once we set an ambush for some troops we saw on the road between us and the town. We were all too pleased to discover that the troops were our own. They told us that the town had been retaken, and that Gnosh had escaped to his hideout to marshal his remaining forces. I returned to the Inn in good spirits, knowing that the Haven would mobilize and finish Gnosh off that very night, but on my arrival I learned the cost of our victory.

Both Brant and Curufin had fallen in battle, and while a potion had restored Curufin to life, Brant's body had been consumed by the ga'vin. There would be no return for him. A night of firsts claimed another mark, as for the first time one of the Guard had perished in defense of Haven.

I had little time to mourn him, though, as the time had come to avenge his death. We marched on Gnosh's hideout with grim determination. There was no fury in the arc of my sword that night, just an absolute resolve to rip the souls from the creatures that stole Brant's life. We cut down Gnosh and his remaining troops with cold disdain and mounted Gnosh's head on a pike for all to see. I felt no triumph that night, but instead knew emptiness. I recognized the feeling, but it was one I had hoped would never come again. It was the mix of a commander's calculation and a friend's grief, and it robbed me of my will to sleep. I talked with Lao for hours by the fire, and came to know him as a friend. I was glad of his company, and kept watch alone after he retired for the evening. Finally, as morning rose over the Haven, I allowed sleep to claim me.

Part XXII: New friends and a duel in the dark.

My dreams were dark that night, and they continued as such for many nights afterwards. I could feel an imbalance within my spirit, and I knew that only time and duty would correct it. Kabre and Drake went off to find Brikal and bring him safely back to the Haven, and Ethos asked if he could join Valane in working on his project. Since Valane had been his teacher before the cataclysm, I allowed him to rejoin his mentor and aid him in his efforts. More of my men – more of my friends – were leaving my side for one reason of another, and some of them might not return. With Brant's death still fresh in my mind, I wished for nothing more than their safety and happiness.

Arthos and I discussed an alliance of our peoples, and together we laid the groundwork for the Haven's first unified House. The Guilds of Light and Hope and the Phoenix Guard were one in all but name, and this would allow us to cement our ties and make public our commitment to cooperation and peace. We expanded the trade route we had formed earlier, and work on a Tannery for the Guard and the town continued nicely.

Newcomers also came to the Haven, and on one memorable night a woman I did not recognize entered the Inn and began to read the laws Robin had posted on the door. She introduced herself as Kidwynn, and asked if I knew where she might find the owner of the Inn. A cursory glance behind the bar revealed that he was elsewhere at the moment, and in talking with her I learned that she was a crafter of measurable skill. She had heard of the damage to the Inn and had come from the Fishing Village seeking a job. Though Atrum had already repaired the Inn, I knew the Guard had need of a person who was skilled at crafting and offered her work on the spot. She agreed, and though I did not know it at the time, the Guard had gained both a valuable asset and an invaluable friend.

It was while I sat at the fire a few nights later that I received another gift from the Light itself, though the gift came in four packages. There had been some conversation about a stranger in the Inn on the same night that Kidwynn had arrived, and I had believed that those speaking had been referring to her. I later learned that another of my own, Sergeant Rahl, had been in our inn performing reconnaissance for a party of Order members that had arrived from the wastes. Seeing Rahl, a Valkyn'Vi known for his mercenary tactics and ruthless efficiency; Lambic, a dwarf whose talent at alchemy was surpassed only by his tolerance for strong drink; Shale, a man whose inner warmth seemed a contrast to his great power; and Kels, an archer from the legendary Blazing Rain Company marching into Haven side by side was a salve to my injured spirit. We greeted each other and began to talk of many things, including the passing of Brant in the fight against Gnosh's forces. I saw Kels tense, and only then did I remember a connection between the archer and the slain Valkyn'Vi. Kels wished for some form of retribution, some way to avenge Brant's passing, but the deed had already been done. He left to look upon Gnosh's head, and I was not surprised to see it riddled with arrows when I next passed the pike we had placed it upon.

I was greeting some of the other new arrivals to the Haven, folks such as the Tsunotaur warrior Ollumm, his companions Eldereth and McEwan, a shadowy woman named Rashon, and a band of colorful gypsies led by a friendly man named Vlad, when word reached us that Sacozu had either gone missing or been kidnapped by a Vampire. We later found her laid upon a stone slab in the cemetery, alive and apparently unharmed. While in the ancient burial grounds, we witnessed a ghost marching down the road. It appeared to engage and enemy, and then fell as if slain, fading from sight moments later. We made a note of the ghost, and then returned to town.

When we returned, we found Robin engaged in a loud argument with the Orcs. Most of the tribe was present, as were several of Robin's crewmen. We stopped for a moment to ascertain the potential for hostility, and found it to be present, but slight. Ollumm made some comment that Jux took as offensive, and Jux responded by intimidating him with a blow to the chest. Fearing that our involvement would just make matters worse, we continued on to the Inn.

Shortly thereafter, a group of Dwarves came into town looking for Arthos. I guessed that they were the group that had sworn some sort of blood oath against him, and so we followed them in their search. Arthos was on his way to the Inn when they found him, and it was clear they were looking for a fight. Arthos spoke to them, but they wanted to hear little of what he had to say. Worse still, the Orcs appeared to be egging on the Dwarves, encouraging them to do violence and lessening the chances that bloodshed might be avoided. Finally Arthos relented and agreed to meet the Dwarf leader in combat. I did not think Arthos would win the battle, but I knew he would survive it. His life was too valuable to the Haven to let him die because of some grudge match, and I made ready to heal his wounds after his defeat and meet any who tried to stop me from doing so with overwhelming force.

Luckily for all of us, Arthos won. He defeated the Dwarf after a duel that left us all wondering who would prevail. He refused to kill the Dwarf leader, and I was left wondering at the wisdom of his decision. The Orcs left silently, and I was again glad that there were no overt hostilities between us. Still, their role in making the fight happen the way it did bothered me greatly, and I knew it would be addressed in some later discussion.

Part XXIII: An errand in the woods.

Later that evening the Phoenix Guard responded to rumors of a “fire giant” in the village, which turned out to be nothing more than a family of villagers who wanted a giant fire. As we helped them build the blaze they needed to cook some pies, we noticed that the father of the family seemed to have a habit of beating his children. We built the fire as swiftly as we could, wishing nothing more than to aid the family in their attempt to feed themselves, but more and more the behavior of the father caused us concern. Both Shale and Lambic confronted the father with the cruelty of his actions, but all of us were reluctant to become involved in a family's disputes. I thought of confronting the father myself, but I feared any intervention on my part would just cause more abuse after we left. We accepted some pies in payment for our efforts and made our way back to the Inn.

Once back at the Inn, we found that the villagers were having a generally bad evening all around. A man named Josiah complained to us that Dark Elves had stolen his wife, and soon the Guard, Corbyn, and a number of others were on the way to retrieve the woman and hunt down the Dark Elves. We followed him through the woods and found ourselves under attack by both wolves and the Wood Wraiths that we hoped were gone from the area. We did attempt to communicate with them on several occasions, even trying to befriend them with offers of peace. Nothing we said had any effect, and we gained nothing from them but poisoned arrows and painful wounds. Sounds of combat came echoing from the town, and several of our number returned to make sure all was well. Depleted but determined, we continued on into the night.

After a long and difficult trail, we came near the cave that the Dark Elves called home. We took a moment to heal our wounds before continuing on, and the presence of the Light in my being made me realize just how weak I had become. Denied rest by both duty and a troubled soul, my exhaustion was complete. Knowing that the woman's time was limited, I ordered the column on ahead.

Sitting there, alone and in the dark of night, I found the dangers of the forest, the demands of my station, and even the troubles between the peoples of the Haven to be inconsequential. There was only weariness, and the sweet temptation to escape by just laying back and closing my eyes. So much of what we did was right: defending the innocent, aiding the weak, and fighting to keep the Haven safe and free; yet some still found fault in cutting down a score of Dark Elves just to gain freedom for one woman. What were we fighting for? Life? Certainly not, for if life were most precious to us then we would not kill to be free. Freedom? Perhaps, but freedom by whose definition? Was not Pentag free when he murdered the Lady Elus? Righteousness? Again, by whose perception? We had seen the Orcs had a clearly different system of determining right and wrong, but were still good creatures. I began to think we did not fight for anything but survival, and that the presence of something clearly evil was the only thing that kept us together.

My dark musings reminded me of a story my Father had told me just after I had received my first command. He spoke of his days in the Guard, and how his instructors had offered simple advice to young officers whose thoughts turned too bleak. They were told: “Get back to sharpening your sword”. I decided to follow their advice, and over the protest of my aching muscles, I forced myself to my feet and stumbled down the trail.

I arrived at the cave to find our people standing warily around the entrance. Voices could be heard from inside, and all who saw me approach stepped aside at the sight of my face. They had seen my resolve to keep putting one foot in front of the other as some kind of heroic determination, and I let them keep their mistaken perception. I entered the cave with little energy left in me, but I knew it was something that had to be done. I was getting back to sharpening my sword.

The Dark Elves were not what I expected, and their willingness to negotiate only amplified my weariness at first. I approached them slowly, offering my shield to Curufin and using Lightstorm as a walking stick. We bartered and bargained for Josiah's wife, and I realized that I was becoming more and more offended by them as our negotiations continued. I had never planned on giving them anything for the woman, but I had hoped to learn something of them before the bloodshed began. Theirs was a culture where kidnapping and slavery were accepted practices. I thought that they, like the Orcs, had values that were different than my own, so should I not accept and accommodate them as well - especially if it would avoid bloodshed?


No, I would not accommodate them.

As I heard them greedily arguing for goods in exchange for an innocent life, something clicked inside my head. I could accommodate anyone's culture or personal idiosyncrasies, but there were still some things that were inherently wrong. These Dark Elves were inherently wrong, and unrepentant about it. I felt energy begin to creep back through my agonized body, and I looked at Curufin with ice in my eyes. He seemed confused at first, but then seemed to understand as he slipped my shield onto my waiting arm. Our negotiations had made the Dark Elves lower their guard somewhat, and I saw the opportunity to break the nigh-inevitable bottleneck that their cave entrance would create. Their spears were at their sides, and they had not seen Curufin replace my shield. The time was ripe for action, and the fury of the righteous had restored my strength, so I did the sensible thing...

I charged.

Screaming, I sprinted the short distance down the passage and began cutting the first two Dark Elves to ribbons. Seeing that they were raising their weapons, I shouldered between them and slammed my back into the stone wall opposite the entrance. With their hopes for a bottleneck dashed, the Dark Elves had little chance to stop our onslaught. I pursued one down a side passage and fell into a pit trap, gaining a painful injury in the process. Fortunately, my prey also fell victim to the trap, and did not survive the fall. I motioned to Sethreal to lend me a hand, and he pulled me back to the surface while I fended off spear-points with my shield. Once out of the pit, we discovered that there was a small ledge around the pit that would allow for people to skirt the trap unharmed.

We encountered more of the Dark Elves at the next corner, and for a moment we traded blows cautiously, trying to feel each other out. Ravinal was having great success using his feral force against them, and they retreated from his roaring Realizing that time was a concern, I threw tactics out the window and we attacked the Dark Elves without mercy. Ravinal, Sethreal, Kels, and I all hammered blows upon them, and together we mowed over their numbers, advancing until we reached a small room in the deepest part of the cave. There we found two more Dark Elves preparing to enter a portal with Josiah's wife in tow. The possibility of them escaping fueled my righteous fires even more, and I cleaved the elf carrying the woman in two. Lightstorm was arcing through the air towards the other when he stepped through the portal. I sliced at him anyway, but withdrew Lightstorm before the portal snapped closed. Josiah's wife was shaken but unharmed, and we began the trek back to the Inn.

Part XXIV: Questions of judgment.

On arriving back at the Inn, we found many of our friends joyously carousing and reducing Atrum's inventory. Lambic greeted us, and told us that the sounds we had heard were due to a metal golem of some sort attacking the town. It had been under the control of a villager who it seemed to be taking orders from, and had accidentally caused quite the disturbance. Finally they had convinced the villager to order his golem away, and they had left the matter at that.

Robin, Roland, Nuk, and a number of others were laughing and drinking the night away, and their merriment made several of the Guard eager to join in the celebration. I gave them leave to do so, grabbed a bottle for myself, and went to sit by the fire for a while. Kidwynn and Kels were there, proclaiming the merits of rum and good company, and for once I had to agree. I finished my bottle and was going for another when I realized I could barely stand. My body was failing me, and things seemed well enough in hand, so I decided to retire for the evening.

As I entered my room, I heard a loud voice addressing those at the bar with harsh words. The voice belonged to Robert, and he was demanding a trial be conducted on a small boy who had killed his father with a rock. I recognized the boy as the one we had seen earlier that very evening being beaten by his father as we built the fire. Much to Robert's dismay, Robin was in no shape to conduct a proper trial and she informed him a court would convene in the morning. He left angrily, upset that his magistrate had postponed the trial. I said nothing on the matter, and stumbled into bed.

The next morning, the child and his mother stood before the court, and the first trial to be held under Final Haven's new system of laws had begun. Evidence was presented, and Robin ruled that the boy had indeed killed his father, but that the circumstances leading up to the act mitigated a lesser sentence than death. Both Robert and I had advised her to rule as such, and though the decision was entirely hers, I was happy to see what I thought to be justice being served.

Just prior to the beginning of the trial, a man claiming to be an emissary from King Rodrick had approached us and requested that we aid him in the clearing of a group of mutated Beastmen from a keep several miles from the Haven. He proposed that a small, stealthy group make the trek to approach the keep and then cast a receiving circle, thus allowing the bulk of Haven's warriors to approach undetected. Seeing the chance to remove a potential threat and make a valuable ally, I agreed to send some of the Phoenix Guard along for the journey and pledged the rest of us to the siege. Curufin, Kels, and Sethreal joined Atrum, Lao, Rashon, Corbyn, Dallid, and Ug for the trek, and I wished them all swiftness and success as they set out for the keep.

Almost as soon as they left, we were set upon by giant ants. The Orcs had come into town on an errand of some sort, and for a moment the tensions between us were forgotten. We faced off against what seemed to be and endless stream of ants, fighting them and allowing our healers to tend to our wounded. Two unlikely sorts, Ming and Lambic, fought fiercely against the insects and showed many of the warriors a thing or two about combat. I saw one of the Orcs fall, and my first instinct was to rush in and heal him, but I instead called to Grok and let her tend to her tribesman. I did not know how she would react seeing me standing over one of her Orcs, and I didn't want to take the chance that her response would be violent. Of all things, a villager with an anteater stemmed the ant assault, and we all were happy for the timely, if curious, intervention.

We rested for a time, but soon we received word that a cockatrice had turned several travelers to stone in the woods nearby. Our sages suggested that we could restore them by retrieving part of a fish and by stopping the bird itself, so the remaining adventurers split into two groups: one to confront the cockatrice and another to find the fish. I remained at the Inn with Ming in case the portal from the keep opened and they were in need of healing.

When everyone returned, they brought the needed components along with several statues along with them. Two of the statues were Rahl and Kidwynn, who had been turned to stone by the cockatrice as they fought. Luckily, we were able to restore them and the other statues to life with the potion made from the components. We then learned that the travelers had been robbed just prior to being turned to stone. A man named John claimed that a ring of significant value was taken, and that a spirit might not know rest if it was allowed to remain in the wrong hands. He told us the ring had belonged to a woman from the Rosenblood family, which was a branch of the Silverthorn line. Though I knew little of either ghosts or the former ruling family of these lands, I had a feeling both would be a concern of mine in the coming days.

Arthos, Robin, and I stepped aside as many of our people prepared for our evening meal. For some time, Arthos and I had been planning on founding a House between our two peoples, and now it appeared Robin was interested in joining us. After her disagreements with the Orcs she no longer believed that she would be an effective mediator, and as such planned to form her crewmates into a guild. She stated that the Guild of the Griffin would join Arthos and I in supporting this house, and it was decided among us that I should be the House Lord since the Lady Katherine was planning on a journey away from the Haven. When we walked away, the foundations had been laid for a house that would unite fully two-thirds of the population of the Haven under one banner.

As I walked towards the Inn a short time after dinner, Curufin drew motioned me to one side and gave me a report that I desperately did not want to hear. People had overheard the Orcs plotting not only my demise, but that of Robin and Arthos as well. Coupled with that, the Orcs were apparently building some sort of golem, perhaps inspired by the one that attacked the Inn the night before. I thanked him for his report and sent him away so that I could ponder the new information.

I had only a few moments to think before Arthos and Robin approached me. They claimed they had spoken with much of the rest of the town, and that they all were about to take arms against the Orcs. They told me that the time had come for necessity, not honor, to guide our actions, and that the Orcs would either leave, or die. They asked my to set aside all I held dear and do what had to be done to insure the safety of the Haven.

I asked them if they understood what they were asking me to do, if they understood what they were asking me to become, and they said they did. I asked them if they thought they thought that this was the only way, and they said it was. I asked them one last time if they really wanted me to do this, and two of my strongest allies, two of the Haven's greatest defenders, two of my dear friends answered that they did. I then answered them.

So be it.

Part XXV: What must be done.

I took off the amulet and ring that I inherited from my father, as they were the possessions of an honorable man. Perhaps someday I would wear them again, but not until I was worthy of them. I was numb as I returned to the Inn and donned my armor, placing the amulet and ring inside a small wooden box. I was numb as I heard the call for people to assemble at the sending circle. The keep had to be taken. It was necessary.

The tunnel through time and space was grand, but I was unimpressed by it. I did find some satisfaction in seeing our people unharmed and learning of their success at killing the Beastmen's chieftain. Them being alive and the death of the enemy leader would increase our chances for success.

We had hoped to approach from a passage under the keep, but the security of our approach was compromised, leaving a frontal assault the only other option. We began taking heavy fire from arrows and magic as soon as we took the field, but our warriors were able to destroy the gate and expose the entrance to the keep. Despite our numbers, we soon proved to be too weak to make a frontal assault and were forced to retreat from the opening. Our healers were under fire from those within the keep, and nearly all of our warriors were injured or severely outmatched.

The enemy sensed our weakness and sent their fighters out among us, causing death and havoc as they ran among our healers and the injured. Many of our number heroically fought to protect the injured, but no one was making any attempt at taking the keep.

Taking the keep was necessary. Winning the battle was necessary. Protecting my friends was necessary. To do what must be done – no matter the cost – was necessary.

I walked away from the battle along a brush line that led into a small valley on the left side of the keep. Because of the elevation of the keep and the steepness of the hill, I reasoned that an approach from the valley might go unnoticed if only one person was to make the attempt. Failure would mean death. Success would mean gaining surprise and possibly turning the tide of the battle in favor of the town – and death. The town could survive without me.

I scaled the side of the hill slowly and silently, my eyes never leaving the back of the beastman guarding the entranceway. He was throwing rocks at my friends on the battlefield, and each time he let fly he opened more of his back to me. When I plunged Lightstorm between his ribs, he had no idea what was happening to him. I cut him savagely, and turned into the tunnel he was guarding. Other twisted beastmen were there, with their weapons at their sides and their shields at their feet. They saw the body of their companion slide off my blade as I ran at them down the tunnel. A smile crept over my face as I saw something new in their animal eyes… fear.

A bolt of magic sizzled through the air across my face, but it was small and missed my head by mere inches. I engaged them just as they were raising their shields, Lightstorm flashing around their defenses and opening deep wounds in their hairy hides. They recovered quickly, but I had already accomplished my objective. I had been able to position myself within the tunnel, and as their spears jabbed at my flesh I fell to the ground behind their lines.

Already the warriors of Haven had followed my lead and were killing the beastmen I had weakened on my way in. I had expected that a few of those guarding the passageway would stay on and make sure I was dead, which they did my stabbing their spears into me again and again. The beastmen that were stabbing me were not fighting my friends, and as the life spilled from my body I knew that Curufin and the others would not ignore such a tactical opportunity. The stabbing stopped, and I laid unmoving for a moment or two. When I chanced a look around, I saw exactly what I wanted to see: the backs of several beastmen who were losing ground to Haven’s warriors. I could feel myself dying, but I was determined not to lose this opportunity to aid my companions. I forced my hand into my pouch and withdrew the healing potions that Corbyn had given me earlier. I drank two, and the fountain of blood erupting from my armor ceased. I was weak, but I mustered the strength to stand. The backs of my opponents were expecting me, and I didn’t want to keep them waiting…

After the last of the beastmen had been slain or driven away, I walked out of the keep down the same tunnel I had used to enter it. Going in, I had been met with spears and attacks, whereas going out I was met with hearty smiles and handshakes. The people of Haven were carting the goods we had found within the keep out in large sacks, and the whole field had an atmosphere of relief and victory about it. Atrum smiled at me as I emerged from the keep, and I made my way back to the members of the Guard. Their expressions carried a mix of concern and awe, and guilt briefly flashed in my consciousness. The emotion left as quickly as it came. Rahl joked about tying me to a stump the next time we were called on to fight in defense of the Haven, but I saw no reason to refrain from taking risks. We had lost nothing, save a few shields and some potions, and had hopefully gained the friendship of a neighboring monarch. What to be done was done, for the moment.

We returned to the Haven through another portal, and Robin, Arthos and I soon met to discuss the business of the House. They wanted to name our venture “The House of the Crescent Moon” to which I had no objection. We resolved to gather our respective guilds and inform them of our plan. We decided to give the Orcs an ultimatum: either be exiled from the Haven, or die. They both assured me that they could control the people in their respective organizations, and that everyone would be briefed on the plan when we gathered in force an hour later.

I should have known better.

By the time we gathered later that evening, all of the Phoenix Guard had been informed of the entire story and were ready to do what must be done. As I gathered the House of the Crescent Moon around me, I could clearly see the others were not as prepared as my men were. Before I even finished speaking, people were wandering off and talking amongst themselves.

It was weakness. It made me sick. These were the people who supposedly had griped and whined about the Orcs. They were the people who had supposedly prompted Arthos and Robin to come to me and ask me to do what was “necessary”. I had done as they had asked, set into motion the plan they had desired, and now that it was to be made manifest, they stared at the ground, shuffled their feet, and asked for more options.

The option of fealty was suggested, and I decided to cater to their insecurity and add it to the list of options. It would never be accepted, but those who wanted it might think that offering another option was somehow more compassionate than just saying “leave or die”.

Again, more weakness.

They had abandoned compassion when honor was sacrificed for necessity. They abandoned compassion when they griped to each other and thought about how they could fight the Orcs and win. The Orcs were a bunch of bullies who covered their aggression with their culture. Many of the townspeople were just as guilty of being arrogant and thinking their ways to be better. All, on both sides, were guilty of plotting and deception. My own men had begged me to deal with the Orcs, but the memory of their friendship had spurred my honor to hold them back. My honor had allowed me to bear their insults and their slander and still pursue peace, but my honor had been cast aside at the request of the very people who now backpedaled from the line they had asked me to draw.

Dallid and Gideon warned the Orcs that our intent was exile or war. Their betrayal did not surprise me at all, as I had counted on something tipping our hand. I received word that Roland had supported the Orcs, and I heard an argument between Nuk and Kels about what would happen if Roland sided with the Orcs in a fight against the House. Her answers did not surprise me either, just as I expected Curufin to tell me he would not raise a hand against her if she fought against us.

It was all weakness. Not just a physical weakness, but also a weakness of spirit. At least Dallid held fast to his beliefs and stood to them in the face of confrontation. Roland came, and requested a meeting of the guild heads. Grok arrived to speak for the Orcs, and she wept as she told the story of a brave and friendly tribe that had been persecuted by a cruel Constable bent on power and a town unwilling to accept their simple and honorable ways.

I knew the same story, but from the other side. I knew the story of a man who tried to bring peace and law to a land without either of those things. A man who was grateful for the friendship and support of a tribe of Orcs, and later overjoyed at the arrival of friends from his former life. A man who made decisions based off of the values he held dear, and not based on favoritism. Not just any man, but me. I heard Grok say that she hated me, and that she thought I hater her in return.

In that moment, I wondered at the reason that Haven had been spared the ravages of the wastelands. I had thought it odd upon my arrival, but had thought little of it until that moment. Something or someone in this land wrought malice and mistrust among the people here. Perhaps Haven was not spared the ravages of the cataclysm, but was just too evil to feel its effect. I had bled for these people and this land, and now it seemed that this land would not be satisfied until the people whom I bled for put me into it. All of us that led in the Haven: Roland, Atrum, Arthos, Grok, Jux, Robin, and I were marked – either by the land or by each other. If we could not move past shadows, secrets, and rage, then there was no hope for law or peace in the Haven.

After a suitable amount of meaningless blabber from the assembled leaders, it was decided that nothing should be done…yet. We were no closer to peace, no further from war, but Roland had been able to flex his muscles, Robin and Arthos got to appear compassionate, and Grok and Iza once again proclaimed their innocence. It was nothing new, and we all were encouraged to think on laws that we would like to live under. We had no government, no punishments, and no means for enforcement of the laws, but we were talking again, and so those who sought peace left feeling hopeful and fulfilled.

I knew the dangers of such feelings, and left them to those who could afford disappointment.

After the meeting, Rahl, Ming, Lao, Atrum, and I talked into the night, looking for a solution. There was some levity in our conversation, but we had gained nothing but a brief respite when we were done. We had a few new ideas, and I was willing to see what fruit they might bear.

I sat in bed that night, starting at the door and waiting for either sleep or an attack. Neither came, and after I resigned myself to that fact, I sat on the edge of my bed and retrieved a few items from my pack. Taking Lightstorm from its sheath, I began to sharpen my sword.

Donovan Thynedar.
Lord of the Crescent Moon
Preceptor of the Order of the Phoenix

Kiel Reid

Posts : 47
Join date : 2011-02-01
Age : 32
Location : Naperville IL

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