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Old 12-25-2003, 10:52 PM   #106
mistysakura
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Great chapter! I think that Miranda's a fantastic "villain"; she's the sort that's just got emotional problems and is driven to do such things. Though I'm not too sure now that you've said that Miranda's recruited on the other side. I didn't expcet things to turn out like this, really; I knew that Timper, or some of the others as well, would try to give Miranda a chance, but it didn't really occur to me that Miranda actually had anything to do weith the "other side"; she just seemed so much like an attention-seeker. I guess that was your intent, so great job.
I think that the relationship (and I mean general relationship) between Timper and Erin was handled really well; their personalities still shine thoruugh. Waiting for the next chapter!
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Old 12-27-2003, 05:38 AM   #107
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Thanks! And thanks for the nominations!!
Well, about Miranda... When I was originally making up the story in my mind, she stood out among all the other 'villains' in the story, when the others were just blurry images. You're right about her, she was pushed to do the things she's been doing. The reason why she's among the 'evil 12' is because Haggaus thought she had potential and decided to exploit it. For now, all I can say is that you haven't seen the last of her yet.
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Old 12-30-2003, 01:15 PM   #108
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I've got to agree, I like Miranda. Erin's my favorite, though. She's funny. As for the nominations, I would have made some, but everyone made them already. ^_^;; Just so you know, I'm voting for you, Gabi.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:03 PM   #109
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Well, now that I finished setting up my palm for reading at night without burning my eyes in the process, I will start up reading about the quest of twelve (I hope they're not monkeys... no, no more twelve monkeys please... pretty please with a cherry on top)
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:49 PM   #110
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Congratulations, Leo! You've just posted the most unusual reply this fic has received!
Don't worry, there are no monkeys here.

Thanks, Karin! I love your fic, so it will have some votes too.
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Old 02-03-2004, 01:27 PM   #111
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Sorry about the long delay. I underestimated the time-consuming effect of two multi-writer stories and an eventful family. Here's chapter 20, with a big digression from the constant fighting of the previous chapters, and I hope I won't take so long to post the next one.

Chapter 20: The double fortress

The group moved on. Many comments were made about the recent events, especially by Erin who, after hearing Timper's version of the story, could hardly believe he'd almost got his butt kicked by an actress. He refrained from commenting on the parts where he had been kicked. Things hadn't turned out the way he had expected, but he still wanted to believe there was hope for Miranda. She was troubled and confused, she'd made many bad choices, but he still had the feeling that there was some good in her. He tried not to talk about it too much, though. He didn't want Erin to come to the wrong conclusions. The last thing he wanted was the faerfliye warrior to be mad at him, for more than one reason. It wasn't worth the risk anyway. His thoughts about Miranda were merely speculations; he didn't really know her.

"Why are you so mean to me?" he finally decided to ask Erin.
"What are you talking about?" she questioned.
"I tried to do something good and you made fun of me. And you're always rude to me when we talk."
"I'm not rude to you. I've actually been nicer to you than I've been to anyone else."
"Well, it's true that not everyone has seen you smile, which is quite sad. But not everyone has had your sword pointing to their hearts either."
"What? When did I ever point my sword to your heart?"
"When we first met. Don't you remember? It was the first thing you ever did to me."
"Oh, I didn't point it to your heart. You didn't even have a heart for me to point at!"
"Heart, trunk, whatever. You threatened to kill me when you first saw me."
"You'd earned it, you were stalking us. I wasn't going to kill you anyway. And you didn't seem to find your life threatened either, or else you wouldn't have uttered that ridiculous phrase."
"Ridiculous?"
"Is 'don't kill me with that look' a reasonable thing to say to someone who may slice you in half?"
"Wow!"
"Wow what?"
"You remember the first words I ever said to you! I'm impressed."
"You're crazy."
"Maybe a little," Timper grinned.
"If it makes you feel better, I promise I won't kill you," she said with a smile.
"Seeing you smile does make me feel a lot better. Promise you'll keep smiling and I may let you kill me some time," he winked.

"Hey, isn't it too cold?" Erin changed the subject.
"It's winter," Timper replied.
"I know, but it wasn't this cold yesterday."
"It wouldn't be the first time the weather's changed abruptly around here. But yes, I grant you it's quite cold."
"It's going to snow," Gallead commented. His gaze was lost in the sky.
"We should find shelter before the night comes," Eric suggested. "We can't sleep in the open."
"Everyone's stating the obvious today," Erin retorted.
"You could be less incisive and more helpful," Timper told her. "Unless the cold is getting to you more than you care to show."
"If I couldn't take a winter day, I wouldn't have survived all this time," she replied. "But it's true I'm not enjoying it. How come it snows here, if it never snowed in Shantar, nor in Isthum?"
"Snow isn't that common here either, but we're higher above the sea level than Isthum is, and we're not sheltered by mountains like Shantar was," Timper explained. "Cold winds can blow freely in this region."

It didn't take long before snow began to fall. Fortunately, the wind wasn't strong, so everyone was able to keep moving. It stopped almost as soon as it started, just a warning of the upcoming days, leaving a thin white coat on some parts of the ground, and just water on others.

"Gallead, what's wrong?" asked Mariel, noticing the ferwill was still lost in his thoughts.
"Oh," he said, turning round to face her. "I really don't know. I guess I'm just worried."
"Why? I mean... We do have things to worry about, but why is now different?"
"I've told you I don't know. I have a bad feeling, but I can't explain it. I don't normally have feelings like this."
"What do you feel?"
"I feel something's wrong. And I'm worried, but I can't help it, can I? Not if I don't even know what the problem is."
"Maybe we can figure it out," Mariel suggested.
"I'm not sure. I'm not a sorcerer; the only magic I know how to use is related to physical enhancement and healing, so I have no reason to have a hunch that actually means anything."
"The only magic you can actively use. But you've been open to connection magic before. What if someone is trying to contact you?"
"In that case, wouldn't you feel it?"
"Hmm... I guess I would."
"Don't worry. I guess I'm just getting tired of finding more enemies and not making it to the point. I wish Jamie was here."
"Yes, she and her family could be of great help. But they're already helping us where they are. As for the point, I have good news for you."
"Are we close?"
"We're about to reach it," Mariel announced.

As if on cue, lights came flashing from behind a nearby hill. As they got closer -which they quickly did-, their true nature became evident. It was fire! More precisely, fire arrows. Gallead reacted quickly and pushed Mariel down before the arrows could reach her. A puddle of water put out the fire. The group, taken by surprise, got ready to confront their new attacker. About ten seconds passed before two new arrows came by. Already prepared, the travelers easily dodged them.

"It seems our new opponent isn't brave enough to show its face," Erin stated.

Flaming arrows kept coming at a rather slow rate, until Gallead set up a front of wind to deflect them. The fifth pair of arrows were sent back to their source, but they didn't reach it. Instead, they disappeared into thin air.

"I don't like the look of this," Erin said.
"Fire and vanishing weapons? Either someone's imitating you or we're up against a faerfliye," Eric deduced.
"I don't use arrows," Erin told him. "By the range those arrows reach and the force they come out with, I'd say it's a faerfliye alright. Not a very experienced one, though. Otherwise those arrows would have at least scratched one of us."
"First a merial, then a shifter, now a faerfliye... What's next? Are they trying to summon one of each of our races to fight against us?" Eric questioned.
"Before anyone jumps to more conclusions, I think I'll go and check out what's going on," offered Pura.
"Are you sure?" Eric asked her.
"Those arrows won't touch me," she assured.
"Ok, go."

Pura flashed away, disappearing behind the hill. Oddly enough, the arrows stopped coming. The group waited for a minute, but nothing happened.

"Pura, is everything alright?" Eric called out, ready to go after her.
The violet light emerged from behind the hill.
"Everything's fine!" Pura answered. "Come here, all of you! They're friends!"
"They're... friends?" Eric repeated, puzzled.
"I have no idea what's going on," Erin said. "But I guess we'll find out if we go. There's no getting an explanation from Pura from this distance."

Eric, Mariel, Erin, Timper and Gallead made for the top of the hill in the best way each of them could. It wasn't as steep as it had seemed from the distance. When they reached the top, they found that the path ahead of them was shrouded in mist. While they were still contemplating the whiteness, Pura came to greet them, followed by two young, red-haired faeries who didn't look older than twelve. They were a boy and a girl. They both wore thick yellow clothes, and the girl had her bright orange hair tied in a ponytail. She had freckles on her face, and brown eyes. The boy's eyes were hazel.

"Hi! These are Jim and May," Pura introduced the two. "My friends Mariel, Erin, Timper, Gallead, and my friend and brilliant student Eric."
Eric chuckled at Pura's remark.
"Don't embarrass me," he told her. "But what are you two doing here? And why were you attacking us?"
"I'm sorry," May apologized. "We thought you were invaders. We've been attacked so many times... We were just trying to defend ourselves."
"Who's been attacking you?" asked Eric.
"Who hasn't?" Jim retorted. "Starting with zombies and strange earth creatures back in our old home, then an elf mage, a quirran and two whisterels... They just can't leave us alone."
"It seems you've been the target of as many attacks as we have," Timper noted. "Why?"
"I don't know," Jim said. "We've done nothing to them. All we want is just to live."
"Gavin says they see us as a threat," May explained.
"Who's Gavin?" Erin asked.
"He's our friend. He saved us when our town was attacked," May said. "He took us to our new home and has been protecting us since then. I mean... We all protect each other."
"That must be the place Jamie spoke of!" Gallead cheered.
"It must be. I can feel it from here," Mariel confirmed.
"Who's Jamie? And how can you feel it?" asked Jim.
"Jamie's a friend, and I'm a sorceress," Mariel explained. "We've been told that a source of great good lay in this area, and we've been looking for it. We're trying to stop the attacks too, so maybe we can help each other."
"This is strange..." Jim said. "I feel like I can trust you, but why?"
"Because it's true," Mariel smiled. "And I know we can trust you too. We're on the same side."
"You're strange, but nice," May told her. "I know! Why don't you come home with us? We'll introduce you to Gavin and Galmand and Seren and everyone. You'll love them!"
"Who did you say?" asked Pura.
"Oh, some friends of ours," Jim told her. "Come on, follow us!"

The children flew into the mist, and the group followed, not knowing what to expect. When the mist cleared out, they were surprised at what they saw ahead. It was a construction with a rather unusual shape: one large cylindrical tower made of grey stones, and a smaller, white, castle-shaped structure attached to it.

"Is that Twocastle?," Eric asked, looking at the strange building.
"Yes, it is," May said. "Come on in, you can wait in the big tower and we'll bring Gavin to meet you."
"Wait a second," Erin stopped them. "Before we go in there, I'd like to know something. How do you two know you can trust us? And how do we know this isn't just another trap?"
"Your friend was kind to us," Jim said, pointing at Pura. "Bad people are never nice."
"Actually, they are sometimes," Eric told him. "We've fought two enemies who tried to look like friends before."
"And that was nothing," Erin added. "But if we go on, it will seem we're trying to prevent you from trusting us. We'll just deal with things as they come."

The young faerfliyes gave Erin a puzzled look. Giving up their attempts to understand her, they pushed the large and heavy door of the grey tower, allowing everyone to enter.
"May, you can wait here with them while I bring Gavin, so they know this isn't a trap," Jim told his sister.
May nodded, and her brother went back outside.

The interior of the tower was lit with candles stuck all over the walls. The door led to a wide, round hall, in the center of which was a large wooden table. There were pillows of different shapes, colors and sizes all over the stone floor, and a fireplace warmed up the room. A set of stairs spiraled up from the walls, leading to a first floor.

"What's upstairs?" Timper asked.
"Rooms for large guests," May answered. "You and the faeries can stay in the smaller castle, but the others won't fit inside, so they'll have to use the rooms upstairs if you're going to stay for the night."
"What is this place?" Mariel asked, intrigued.
"They said it was built as a resting spot for travelers, but it has turned into a fortress since the war began," May replied. "Refugees like us are coming from everywhere. Most of us have had to leave our homes to escape the attacks. But together, we're stronger. We can defend ourselves. Twocastle is protected by both an army and strong magic, so we can hold on until the war is over, and still offer shelter for those who need it."
"For now, at least," a female voice came from above.
Everyone looked up, as a slim figure started moving down the stairs. Her steps could not be heard, nor her feet seen; only her long yellow dress could be seen crawling down the steps. Its wearer had brown skin, golden eyes and thick lips. Her ears barely stood out on the sides of her perfectly curved bald head, which was decorated with a yellow ribbon tied around it, crossing the middle of her forehead. The ribbon had a bright red stone in the center.

"Oh, Seren! Hi! I thought you were outside," May greeted the newcomer.
"Hello, May. Greetings to everyone else," Seren replied. "I was outside, indeed, but I came in as soon as I noticed the snow was coming."
"You were smarter than us, then. Have you been listening to us since we arrived?"
"Since you met, actually. Sorry, I was curious. You did a good job as a guide, but you got one detail wrong. This castle wasn't built as a shelter. It was turned into one after it was found; the only building still standing among the ruins of an old city. No one here knows what its original purpose was."
"Are you a refugee too?" Eric asked Seren.
"I can say I am," she replied. "I did come here to escape an attack my people couldn't possibly resist, but I didn't come just to save myself. I came here to find someone who'd be able to strike back, and possibly end the war once and for all. I've been helping around since then, and waiting."
"Waiting for what?" asked Eric.
"For the winter to end," Seren smiled.
"But why did you say we're only holding on for now?" May questioned. "Don't you think we can resist here until the war ends?"
"I really wish I could be that optimistic," Seren said. "My intuition, however, tells me otherwise. And I'm afraid it's never been wrong before. We haven't seen the worst of our enemies yet. All these attacks have been just tests. When they really decide to get rid of us... Oh, sorry. What am I doing? I shouldn't be speaking like this to a girl your age. Forget what I said, you can actually still make a difference; just... not necessarily here."
"I'm not a little girl, you know!" May complained. "I'm twelve already, so don't treat me like a baby. I've seen horrible things happen... I've lost my home and most of my family and I'm still here, fighting. So don't hide things from me just because I'm young."
"I'm not doing that," Seren replied. "I'm not hiding anything; but I must learn not to be so harsh."
"Seren, harsh? Is that even possible?" a strong yet cheerful male voice said.

The door was pushed open again by an adult male faerfliye. He had short, reddish-orange hair and beard and was wearing a white shirt and beige trousers. Behind him came Jim, and by his side floated a male faerie with pointy ears and transparent wings which were quite large in proportion to the rest of his body. He wore the same kind of clothes as the faerfliye, only that his trousers were as white as his shirt. His eyes were green, his hair was bright blue, and an aura of blue light surrounded his body.

"So these are the new visitors," the faerfliye contemplated the guests. "Welcome to Twocastle! Sorry for the unfriendly reception, we've been through many attacks lately and can't help but be cautious. My name is Gavin, and this is my friend and right hand Galmand. You've already met Jim."
"Consider yourselves forgiven!" Pura blurted out. "As long as you show us around and we get the chance to talk."

Galmand's eyes opened widely, but he took his time to reply. Finally, he said he'd show them the small castle, but only the smaller three would be able to see the whole of it.
"Maybe the rest of you would prefer to see this tower now," Gavin concluded.
Mariel said it was ok either way, and Eric agreed. Gallead hesitated for a second, but then decided it would be best to take a look at the large tower while Erin, Timper and Pura saw the other section.
"I'll show you around, then," Seren offered. "Gavin, you can go with the others in case they decide to split up."
Gavin didn't understand Seren's reasons, but he'd learnt to follow her instincts without questioning them. He nodded, and left the tower followed by Galmand, Jim, May and the three smaller travelers.

"This is really strange," Eric commented once his friends had left. "I feel like I'm missing half of what's going on."
"I'm not too sure about it either," Mariel admitted. "Gallead?"
"I don't know, I may be seeing things," the ferwill said. "I just thought I saw Pura's light glow brighter, and with what she said I thought she was up to something. I was curious, but I thought it was best not to follow her this time."
"You thought correctly," Seren told him. "If I'm right about her. Come, I'll show you your rooms."
She moved up as silently as she had descended, and the others followed.
"How does she do that?" Eric wondered.
"She's a grumma. She doesn't have legs, only a strong and very flexible tail," Gallead explained.
"Oh. That too, but I was asking why she seems to know everything."
"About that, I have no clue."
"You can always ask," Seren giggled. "I don't know everything, I just have an uncommon intuition, and I've heard a few stories about your friend Pura."
"Really? How?!"
"I know someone who knows her," she said. "He's only said good things about her. If it really is her. It could be another Pura, but too many things match. Oh, here we are. You can pick the rooms you like the most. No one's occupying this floor aside from me right now. There are two bathrooms down the corridor and a small kitchen for those who want to cook or brew potions. The main kitchen is on the small castle, though, and dinner will be brought to you from there, so you don't have to use this kitchen unless you want to. There's a library on the other side; you can read as much as you want while you're here; or you can take a book, but only if you leave one in return. Everything else is distributed among the rooms. I'd give you a tour, but I think you'll get the most out of exploring by yourselves. You can relax and do whatever you like, but I suggest that you get down by sunset. There will be a show before dinner, and you don't want to miss it."
"A show?" they all asked.
"Lights on the sky, music and some surprises. Everyone's invited to participate or watch. We always have shows on special events."
"And what's the event now?" queried Gallead.
"Your arrival, of course!" Seren smiled.

*************************

The small castle was filled with even more light than the large one. Many creatures were inside, and they all greeted the visitors joyfully.
"They don't look like war refugees," Erin commented.
"We celebrate what we have instead of mourning for what we've lost," Gavin explained. "That makes us stronger."
"Does it?" Timper questioned. "Can't all those hidden feelings explode in the worst possible moment?"
"Oh, we don't hide them," Galmand told him. "But we look at all the good things we still have, and all we've gained. Life has so much to offer! It's worth not missing it. We could all have died, but we didn't, so we try to make the best of our lives."
"You remind me of a young girl I know," Erin laughed.
"In more than one way if it's Mariel you're talking about," Pura added. "What do you do here, Galmand?"
"I mainly protect the fortress with magic, heal those who need it and fight if I have to. I also make light shows when we have a party; I guess I'll be making one tonight, right, Gavin?"
"Yes, it will be a good way to honor our visitors," the faerfliye replied.
"A light show?!" Erin laughed louder than before.
"What is it?" asked Gavin.
"Nothing. It's just... You guys are the opposite of subtlety."
"Our enemies already know we're here," Gavin remarked. "We may as well let them know that all their attempts to bring us down are failing and we still have reasons to celebrate."
"Alright, that explains the light show. What about certain discretion rules?"
"We haven't been breaking any," Galmand stared at Erin, puzzled. "But I assume someone has, or else you wouldn't be asking that question. Maybe we could talk about that in detail later."
"No, it's ok," Erin shrugged it off.

After walking through countless corridors, rooms and halls, the visitors were left to move freely. Gavin and Galmand headed to their rooms to change their clothes for the party.
"I'll take around 5 seconds, so I guess I'll then sit around and wait for the fun to start," Galmand stated.
"5 seconds? You do always get ready before I do, but don't go overboard with the bragging. It doesn't suit you, and someone might put your words to a test," Gavin word them.
"I'll be looking forward to that moment," Galmand replied in a mysterious tone.
"I think I'll take another look around and leave you two guys alone," Pura spoke out to Erin and Timper.
"Do what you like best," said Erin, deliberately ignoring any possible connotations.
Those words had worked wonders. Even Timper was fooled about Pura's intentions.

*************************

Ten seconds later, Galmand heard knocks on his door. He stood up, expectantly, and slowly turned the door open. His eyes met a sight he had been missing for years. It was one of his own kind... A female, with deep blue eyes and light violet locks falling on her chest, wrapped in a green dress that would have been more suitable for the summer. But he didn't think she was feeling cold at that moment: it was quite warm inside. And it had just turned warmer.
"Who's that mysterious lady waiting at my door?" he welcomed her with a wide smile.
Even though he'd spoken in the form of a question, his tone and expression showed that he clearly knew the answer.
"So you remember me! I'm impressed," she told him, letting herself in.
"How could I not? That trip to the south was an experience I'll never forget. I'd never found a lurian who was not afraid to open up like you did."
"I'm sorry to be the herald of bad news, but they have managed to introduce that fear into me. Those history lessons were truly vivid."
"But that was another time. Another era. Neither of us had been born back then. I think we do have a chance, if we try. I believe there's a way to stop history from repeating itself while being and active part of it."
"You haven't changed, have you?" she giggled. "Well, I am an active part of history. I'm a guide... A teacher."
"But wouldn't you like to do more? For yourself as well as for others."
He turned towards a trunk that lay in front of his bed, and opened it.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked him.
"I want you to fulfill the promise you made to me before I left," he replied, searching inside the trunk. Finally, he found what he was looking for. "I'd been keeping this for you in case we crossed paths again."
He stretched out his arms, revealing a long silver dress. The cloth was as soft as it was shiny, and it seemed to be made to fit her size, though Galmand knew it could stretch and shrink as needed.

"This is... beautiful!" she exclaimed. "How did you get it?"
"Shh..." Galmand whispered, gently touching her lips with his fingers. "I'll tell you later. For now, I'd like you to go to the room assigned to you and put it on. Then, if it fits you, you can wear it during tonight's dinner and impress the audience."
"The audience? Are you asking me to sing... in public?"
"Do you have a problem with that?"
"I've never done it before!"
"Trust me. There was a first time for everyone who did it and, if something about you hasn't changed, you have nothing to be afraid of," he assured.
"What if the audience doesn't like it?"
"Nothing bad will happen if they don't, but that's not going to happen anyway. They'll love you; it's impossible not to."
"I wish I had your confidence," she sighed. "For this and every other aspect of my life."
"It will do you good. There's nothing like singing to boost your own confidence," he told her.
"Will you sing too?"
"If that's what it takes to make you feel comfortable, I will."
She thought for a moment, and then came to a decision.
"Ok, I'll do it."

*************************

Everyone had had the time to hold their own investigations by the time the celebration began. Mariel and Gallead had been exploring the library, while Eric filled Seren with questions and was left with even more questions than he previously had. One thing was clear, though. The inhabitants of Twocastle were friendly. Seren's answers were puzzling, but she didn't try to dodge Eric's questions, which represented a positive change for him. That way he found out that her people used to live in underground tunnels until waves of invaders started coming. One time they'd flooded the tunnels, another they'd set them on fire. Few grummar had survived the attacks, and she'd had the feeling it would only get worse. She had volunteered to serve as a sentinel, and spent days on the surface, trying to detect the next wave before it was too late, but this time it had come from below, destroying the very foundations of her city, and causing the land above it to crumble and smash everything to pieces. Then the attackers had left, ignoring her presence, or escaping what was coming next. Only the following day she had met Gavin and the two kids he had just rescued from another slaughtered village. He'd told her the shadows were coming, and urged her to follow him, and that was how she had arrived at Twocastle.

When Eric asked her about the reason of the attacks, Seren said she could only reckon something too powerful had been awakened, and all those with lust for power were now jumping at the opportunity. At first, it had been just random, chaotic attacks; but now it was getting worse. Now a group was prevailing, and getting organized.
"How do you know that?" Eric asked her.
"It's clear. Their actions have a direction now. And time only seems to push them towards their goal. There's something I'm missing, but I'm sure someone has got a hold of the cause of all this. And unless it breaks from the inside, our chances are minimum."
"Break from the inside?"
"I mean something needs to cause that direction to turn. And what about you? What has caused you to come this far?"
Eric told Seren his own story, and for some reason that brought some hope back to her. Especially after he described their last battle.
"Stick together," she advised him. "Maybe not everything's lost."

Erin and Timper, on the other hand, had been inspecting each corner of the small castle again and again, first to make sure they knew where they were standing, and then to try to find Pura. They came across May and Jim several times, but they found no signs of their luminous friend.
"She's been acting too strange today," Erin commented. "Even for her."
"I guess she must know what she's doing," Timper told her. "I haven't managed to understand her yet, but you know her better. Do you think there's anything wrong?"
"I don't see anything wrong, but I don't know if I should be worried about that."
"That kind of reasoning would lead you to be worried all the time. Give yourself a break and relax, you've earned it."
"Relax? How?"
"I don't know. What do you like doing, other than fighting?"
"Hmm... No one's ever asked me that question before."
"Really? I can't believe it!"
"Why not? It's not the first time you go where no one else has gone."
"I know, but that's a common question."
"Then I guess I must not be common myself."
"That's out of the question. You're anything but common," Timper smiled.
"You seem to be more used to that relaxing stuff. What do you suggest we do?"
"Well, when I visit a place and the locals are friendly, I often talk to them to find out about their lifestyles and traditions... Which from your face I can tell is not what you'd like to do. Then I usually find out what games they like to play, learn them and beat them at those games."
"You'd spent too many hours without bragging. I was starting to get scared. You can't possibly beat everyone at their own games."
"Not always, of course, but I often make it. I'm skilful, you should know it by now."
"I'd like to see you back up those words."
"No problem. Just follow me and watch."
He started heading to the main hall to find someone to challenge, but found the whole place decorated, the table served with a wide variety of meals, and everyone converging towards the center of the room. The show was about to start.
"Ok, maybe later," he concluded.

A male neini welcomed everyone, "especially tonight's visitors". The guests from the grey tower arrived just in time to watch the show begin. It opened with the ceiling turning transparent and revealing the clear and starry sky above it. Actually, since there were two floors above, either those floors had become transparent too or magic was being used to replicate the sky. Mariel stared at the stars, trying to figure out which of the two it was. All she could conclude was that it was light magic, and it wasn't a simple illusion. "I need to find the person who cast that spell and learn it," she thought. Few seconds later, the sky became filled with lights of many colors. Some lights stayed together, forming colorful flowers, circles and spirals, while others moved across the sky, sometimes falling, sometimes dancing high above with the stars.

Everybody clapped and cheered, and then, with the colorful lights still up, came the time of the performers. Two kraggletups made acrobatic pirouettes, first with nothing but their bodies, then with a ball, then with two, until they had four balls almost as tall as them piled up on each other, and the two of them on top. From that height, they jumped, letting the balls fall on the stage, and each of them landing on a chair by the table.
"All that exercise has made me hungry!" one of them said, grabbing something grayish from a plate in front of him, and receiving general laughter as a response.

After them came a leenia, a small water creature with silvery blue skin and long teal hair. She hummed a sweet melody, the vibrations never stopping as her body moved smoothly, waving and circling in an almost hypnotic manner. She, too, was applauded when she left the stage, though she did it in a much more discrete way than her predecessors.

And then the third act began: the singers. The announcer got on the stage and immediately looked back. Upon receiving the message, he revealed that a mysterious singer was going to make her debut that night. Erin nearly fell off her chair when she saw "mberliry" ("mysterious lady" in an ancient language), displaying her whole 15.5 centimeters of height on the stage, her silver dress reflecting her bright purple light. Her reaction alone allowed Timper to confirm his earlier conclusions. Behind this singer came Galmand, shining as brightly as his partner, dressed in an elegant white suit with blue arabesques that matched his glow and his hair. The song they sang was in a language no one in the audience could understand, but they were enchanted by the sound of mberliry's voice. When the song finished, dozens of spectators were cheering and asking her to sing one more song. The female singer blushed with shyness, but Galmand caressed her hair, mixing his light with hers, and whispered something to her which convinced her to sing again. This time she sang a popular song which Eric knew well. Many others knew it too, but that didn't make any it less beautiful. Then she left the stage and the hall, not knowing how to react to a crowd that was applauding her. She'd never felt anything like that before... Except that time when a young mage had visited her village. She was still a student then, and he'd managed to opened her eyes to a world she'd been completely unaware of... to possibilities that, against all predictions, were finally becoming real. He'd always tried to get her to open up, to show the world who she really was, and what she was capable of. Even then she'd been too shy, too influenced by the things she had learnt, but she'd made the promise that, should they meet again, she'd let no obstacles interfere between her and her dreams, and he'd get to see the best of her. So, literally, that night had been a dream come true. And it wasn't over yet.

"Do you really have to go?" Galmand asked, finding her hideout.
"I recall myself asking the same question to you ten years ago," she replied. "Sadly, the answer is the same you gave me. I have things to do, but I'll see you again. In my case, I have a young warrior to watch over. I can't leave him until I know he's achieved his goal, and he's in good hands. I have a good idea of whose hands those may be, but it will take time."
"I'll wait for you," he told her. "I've waited all this time, I can wait longer. Just as long as I know I'll find you at the end of the road."
"Preferably before the end," she giggled.
"For now, let's make the best of the moments we can share," suggested Galmand.

In the meantime, everyone at the hall kept wondering where the mysterious lady had come from. Everyone except those who knew her. Erin, particularly, was about to explode. She turned to Gallead and asked him what it was with love that it drove everyone crazy. The ferwill couldn't help but laugh at her comment.

`,,`,, ` ,,`,,`

And now, the previews!

"We're isolated," Gavin summarized. "There may be others out there who are still putting up a fight, but either they can't use connection magic or they're too debilitated to get a message through to us."

"That's the most awful thing I've ever heard," she finally confessed.
"Then consider yourself lucky," Erin told her. "Seeing it is much worse than hearing about it. Especially if you know you're next."

"Only for now," they both promised.

"In a weird logic, that almost makes sense," Timper commented.
"It does!," Jim insisted.

"Admit it, you're the one who's always against any changes, and especially against letting others join us."
"No, I'm not. I'm just the most rational and the least impulsive. I'm not against changes, just against taking rash decisions."

Eric noted that the blizzard seemed almost unnatural, and Mariel added that it probably was.

As painful as it was, he was glad to be able to feel cold again.


All this (and a coulpe of gross descriptions, sorry) in chapter 21: "Fire and Ice".

Poll for chapter 20: the group went to Twocastle for help. What kind of help do you think they'll get?
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Old 02-05-2004, 06:32 AM   #112
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Well, there's obviously moral support, but that really doesn't count. They could help spread news about... stuff, I guess, and powerful magic (or at least stuff that looks powerful) can always come in handy. Sorry, but I'm a pretty vague person.

Anyway, your description was cool. While it let us picture what was going on, it didn't slow down the action with unneccessary detail. The characters were cool too; it's so hard to believe that the singer's Pura. Ther4e's always some part of a soul that is hidden; love how Galmand can bring out the best in her. Pura was a bit flat before, in comparison the the other characters; now it's better.

Congratulations on your award!
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Old 02-05-2004, 09:24 AM   #113
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Thanks!! And congratulations to you too! You're a truly dedicated reader who makes writing even more enjoyable.

I'm glad you liked the latest twist. Yes, it takes a lot for Pura to open up, but the right help at the right time can work miracles.
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Old 02-11-2004, 09:30 PM   #114
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Wow! That chapter was great, Gabi! I really enjoyed it.
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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
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Old 02-28-2004, 04:03 PM   #115
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Well I finally managed to catch up. Sorry it took so long, but i'm impressed. Erin and the others are full of surprises. I can't wait to see what happens next, and as for as the poll maybe they'll get somoe help as in another member to the group.
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Old 03-19-2005, 11:24 AM   #116
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This chapter is dedicated to Karin, who sad she would read it. Sorry for the extremely long delay. A busy schedule, the obligatory inclusion of action scenes in chapter 22 and the difficulty to overcome destructive criticism made the next chapter take ages to get done, but now that it is, I can finally post chapter 21 here. I'm also posting this fic weekly at Tsuyoi's Lair, for those who may feel intimidated by the length of this topic or just want to catch up more easily. I think I'll stop posting polls, at least for now. Unless it makes replying easier. If so, just tell me and I'll post them. Now, this is chapter 21, which I wrote over a year ago. x_x I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 21: Fire and Ice

For the first time since he had left his home, Eric got up to meet the sun shining high above in the sky. Also for the first time in that period, his companions weren't near him. It took him a few seconds to remember where he was, and recall the celebration of the previous night. It all felt like a dream. He got out of his room and began to walk around the tower, paying attention to everything he could find. He found out there wasn't much aside from what Seren had shown him. Finally, he reached the library and realized he wasn't the only one up. Gallead was inside, with his eyes fixed on an open book.

"What is it?" Eric inquired.
"Oh, hi," Gallead replied. "I don't know, I guess I'm just a bit anxious this morning. We hadn't spent so much time in one place since we got together."
"Yes, it's strange for me too. But I was asking about the book."
"Oh! Sorry. It's a listing of magical objects. I was trying to find something on the crystal I broke, but I've found nothing so far."
"What's that page about? What's that collar with a rock as a pendant?"
"That's the Amulet of Stone. A dangerous object. It not only allows the wearer to manipulate minerals, but also, if enough magic is channeled through it, it can turn anything into stone. Even living beings!"
"Argh, that's awful! Tell me, what language is that book written in? Why can you read it?"
"It's ancient Lumienne. It used to be spoken by some of the immigrants who came from Linya during the Great War. It's not commonly used anymore, but you can still hear some names in that language. I learned it because I was interested in the origins of names, and it's proving to be more useful than I thought. I wonder how this book got here. Maybe Galmand brought it."
"Galmand? Why?"
"Well, he's a mage, and he speaks the language too, so he's the only one I can think of."
"How do you know he speaks it?"
"Do you remember when he and the other faerie sang last night? He called her mberliry. That's not a real name; it means 'mysterious lady' in Lumienne."
"I wish I knew as much as you do."
"I wish I could fight as well as you do."
"I guess we're even," Eric laughed. "I can help you practise with your sword and you can teach me some of the things you know, what do you say?"
"I say it's a deal, my friend," Gallead smiled, as he shook Eric's hand.

"Have you seen any of the others?" Gallead finally asked.
"Mariel's downstairs finishing her breakfast, and Seren's with her. I haven't seen the others, they must be still in the small castle."
"Finishing breakfast?! Don't tell me I've missed it. That's impossible!"
"Hey, relax! It's been a long night after many long days. I would have missed it too, except I didn't manage to get much sleep at all."
"Why not?"
"Too many things on my mind, I guess."
"Do you want to talk about it? Maybe I can help you."
"I don't know... This place and everyone here... They're all great, but they've been through so much... And Seren seems to think everything's about to get worse. It sounds like she's almost certain. It's a wonder they can still hold a celebration like they did last night. Few peoples are like that, the more pressure they put on them, the closer and stronger they become, and the more they celebrate what they still have. But to know that - even being as they are - they're losing hope worries me. Also, now that we've reached Twocastle, we need to set our next goal. I'm not too comfortable not knowing what lies ahead. And for some reason I can't stop thinking of Jamie; during the party her image in my mind was stronger than ever. I'm worried about her and her family."
"You're right. Those are too many things to worry about," Eric confirmed. "Why not deal with them one by one? The Wilmslows are holding their own battle to protect their region and there's nothing we can do for them other than go on with our quest. Same goes for the Twocastle folks. We should focus on our part and trust others to do their own. So what we should do is get back together and decide on our next objective."
"Those are wise words! It seems I have more to learn from you than I thought."
"Hey, I'm learning too. So, we'll discuss that right after breakfast. Excuse me, but I'm hungry right now."
"It's alright," Gallead laughed, as his friend left for the dining room.

About an hour later, the whole group met again at the big tower's common room. Seren, Gavin and Galmand joined them to offer advice, even though the three of them had decided to stay when the others left, and defend Twocastle for as long as they could hold on; if possible, until the war was over. Seren was particularly pessimistic about this point, but Gavin and Galmand still had hope. The three also provided useful information; they told the travelers that the attacks they had been under had also come from the north, so the direction to take was clear.
"Do you know of any other place where we might find help?" Mariel asked them.
"I'm afraid you're more likely to find enemies than anything else," Seren told her.
"I'm afraid so," Galmand sadly agreed. "The only contact we've had in the last few months came from the south, and even they are out of reach now. We've been unable to get in touch with them or even sense them in the last two days."
"We're isolated," Gavin summarized. "There may be others out there who are still putting up a fight, but either they can't use connection magic or they're too debilitated to get a message through to us."
"Does that mean..." Gallead began, worried. "It doesn't mean they're dead, right?"
"Many of them are," Seren sighed.
"No, I mean the ones from the south. There can be other reasons why you haven't felt them for recently, isn't it true?"
He looked almost desperate now. It only took Galmand a glimpse at his eyes to read his emotions.
"There can be many reasons," the mage comforted him. "Something may be blocking our communication, or they can be putting all their energy into something more pressing. Or they may be hiding from a magical enemy, in which case sending signals would reveal their position. There's no reason to assume the worst if there's no evidence of it. Besides, we haven't felt a crossing, so at least we know the shadows didn't take him."
"What's a crossing?" asked Eric.
"When the shadows open a wound on their enemies' flesh, they can enter their bodies' bloodstream and expel their opponents' spirits, achieving a complete possession. We believe that those spirits are somehow collected at some point in the north, though we still don't know the means or the purpose. But we have felt their presence crossing the space from places where the shadows had recently attacked. That's what we call a crossing."
Mariel had been frowning in disgust from the first sentence.
"That's the most awful thing I've ever heard," she finally stated.
"Then consider yourself lucky," Erin told her. "Seeing it is much worse than hearing about it. Especially if you know you're next."
"I think I've felt a crossing," Pura returned to the subject. "Back at the temple after we faced Kharchek. One of our enemies," she explained to Galmand and his friends. "But there were no shadows around. Is that possible?"
"There's too much we don't know," Galmand replied. "For now, I'd say anything is possible." Then he looked at her and smiled. "So... you can feel presences?"
"Oh... I started feeling them a while ago. That was the first time, actually."
If her friends had been able to see her face, they'd have noticed a blush. Galmand's smile became wider, but he forced himself to look away from her. The last thing he wanted was to get her in trouble by exposing her.

"I believe it's time to go," Erin decided. "There's nothing else we can do here; each minute we spend here from now on will be wasted."
"Actually, there's still something you can do. You can take some food for your journey. I'm sure it will be useful," Seren replied.
"And you can take anything for which you can find a good use," Gavin added. "You'll be exposed out there. Any help we can offer won't be too much."
"You can take some magic books from the library," Galmand offered. "You don't have to leave others in exchange, it's for a good reason. Besides, I'm the only mage here right now and most of them are books I brought here myself."
"Don't you need them anymore?" Mariel asked.
"I've already read them and have a good chance of remembering what I need when the time comes. They'll be of more use to you."
"Thank you so much!" Mariel told him. "We'll do our best to make it up to you."
"You've already brought me more than I could ever expect," Galmand replied.
"You're dangerously unusual," Erin warned him.
"I have my own ways and respect those of others," Galmand answered.
"Make sure you do. Now I'll go and help those who haven't packed their things yet. Who's with me?"

Everyone stood up, putting an end to the meeting. Seren headed for the kitchen to pack some supplies for the travelers and Gavin returned to the small castle, while the others went either to their rooms or to the library. Only Galmand and Pura stayed in the common room to kiss goodbye... "Only for now," they both promised.

The group was out of the fortress by noon. Aside from the books and food supplies, they'd ended up taking some extra clothes. The weather had become unusually cold, and the land was already white when they got out. The travelers waved goodbye to the Twocastle crew, and got back on the move. All they had to do was climb up yet another hill shrouded by mist, and then the path would be clear. However, the path was not all they found when they reached the top. Two red heads stood out among the snowy terrain.
"Don't take offense, but I think someone else should be guarding the accesses," Erin said to the children. "Judging by your performance yesterday, you wouldn't give your enemies a hard time getting past you. You two should be training instead."
"We're not here as guards this time," Jim explained. "We're going with you."
"What?! You don't know what you're saying. Do you have any idea what we're going up against? This is not a children's tour."
"There's a warrior in your team who doesn't look much older than us," May pointed out.
"Eric's a special case. He wields a sword like an expert. Even so, this journey may still be too much for him. You two would either die or be scarred for life, and I wouldn't want either in my conscience."
"Give us some credit!" complained Jim. "We may not be the best at shooting arrows across a hill in the mist, but that doesn't make us hopeless fighters. We've trained. And we can use a sword too. Besides, we're not helpless children. We've been living in a war for years, you know."
"And I'm not a child anymore, I'm twelve," May stated.
"I'm just a year younger than her, but I act older," Jim added.
"Let others judge that," Timper laughed. "Do your people know about this?"
"Seren told us to come," Jim assured. "She said we'd be safer with you than in the fortress."
"How come?"
"Well, with you, we'll be moving all the time. The fortress is fixed and our enemies already know where it is. Besides, they don't know we're with you, so we have the surprise factor on our side."
"In a weird logic, that almost makes sense," Timper commented.
"It does!" Jim insisted. "We'll help you, I promise. The moment we become a load, you leave us behind."
"You know we'd never do that!" yelled Mariel.
"Of course we wouldn't," Erin confirmed. "Which adds to the reason why we can't bring you along."
"At least you should understand us! You're like us!" complained May.
Erin thought for a moment, then let out a chuckle.
"I'm starting to think I may have more in common with one of our enemies, but your determination should be rewarded."
"If even Erin accepts you, that means you're in," Eric joked. "Welcome to the group!"
"What do you mean?" Erin stared at the young elf.
"Admit it, you're the one who's always against any changes, and especially against letting others join us."
"No, I'm not. I'm just the most rational and the least impulsive. I'm not against changes, just against making rash decisions that may hurt us in the end."
"You know, I was thinking..." Timper changed the subject.
"Yes?"
"What you said earlier... You don't resemble any of our enemies. You just underestimate your own strength. And I don't mean your physical strength."
"Oh, don't start with that now, please. Ok, you two: if you want to come with us, you'll have to work as hard as the rest of us. Each of you will take a turn to keep guard in the nights, you'll help us set camp and prepare lunch and dinner, and you'll train as hard as everyone else. This isn't a game. We will be attacked, and you'll have to fight like the rest of us."
"We know," Jim assured. "That's what we've been preparing for all this time."

So, six became eight. The group moved as fast as possible, trying to make up for the lost time, and only stopped for lunch when the weather conditions discouraged them from advancing. They could see a storm brewing not far ahead, and it got worse while they were eating. Eric noted that the blizzard seemed almost unnatural, and Mariel added that it probably was.
"In that case, shouldn't we go there?" suggested Gallead. "Someone may be in trouble."
"We will be if we get caught in that storm," Erin told him. "If it doesn't stop soon, we'll have to think of something. We can't just burst in without a plan and with our stomachs full. That's the quickest form of suicide."
"Do you see anything else?" Gallead asked Eric.
"No," came the reply. "The storm's too thick. All I see is ice and snow moving as in a whirlwind."
"It may be the whisterels," May said. "We were attacked by them before. They sent a storm to our fortress. They nearly blew the walls off with their wind, and made the air so cold I thought I would die. We were lucky Galmand managed to set up a protection bubble so that we could move, then Jim and I helped Gavin form a wall of fire. Our fire was stronger than their cold, so they left with a threat."
"Negative polarities are at a loss against their original forms," recited Mariel.
"They threatened you while they ran away?" Erin asked.
"Yes, they said they'd keep coming and many more would join them," Jim explained. "They said our days were counted."
"Look! The storm is stopping!" Eric announced.

Slowly, the blizzard ceased. Whatever had caused it, it had ended as unexpectedly as it had started, revealing to the keenest eyes the roofs of what had apparently been a village.
"Who could do something like this?!" cried Mariel.
"The ones we're about to stop," Eric assured, placing his arm around her waist.
That was the cue for everyone to head towards the scene of the disaster. However, once they got there, they couldn't find anything that wasn't covered by a layer of snow as thick as the height of a small house, and neither Mariel nor Pura could detect any signs of life below. Not in the village, at least.

"I've felt something," Pura announced after spiraling around the area for the 5th time. "It's faint, but I think that someone's still alive."
"Where?" Eric asked.
"Follow me," was Pura's answer before blasting off in the direction of the presence. It took Eric about two minutes to reach her, and the others even longer. "Here," she said when her charge arrived.

She illuminated the snow below her, and Eric started digging immediately. When a piece of white skin became visible, he rushed to uncover the rest of the body. Gallead, Mariel and Timper helped him.
"It's a human," Timper noted once the task was finished. In front of them lay a young male human with a large backpack and a thick brown jacket, shoulder-length brown hair and skin that looked too white to be healthy.
"He's barely alive," Mariel remarked.
"We need to save him," said Gallead.
"You know I'm all for helping the helpless and I hate being the one to say no this time," Timper replied, "but even if we can save him, that's bound to get us in trouble. We were extremely lucky with the humans we found earlier. They were exceptional beings. But that's not the rule. Humans are among the least friendly species you can find. If you're seen by one of them, chances are they'll hunt you down and either kill you or make the rest of your life miserable."
"He doesn't look like someone who would do that," Gallead insisted.
"You can't judge someone's intentions by the way they look," Erin shook her head, unbelieving of what she'd just heard. "I thought you were smart enough to know that."
"That's not what I'm saying."
"Then what are you saying?"
"I'm saying we can't let him die just because of the species he belongs to. We don't have the right to judge him without knowing him. Following your logic, you would have killed the Wilmslows if you had found them buried in the snow instead of setting you free! Besides, I can't think of many who wouldn't think twice before intentionally hurting someone who saved their lives."
"I'm not saying we should kill him," Erin told him.
"No, you're saying we should let him die. That's the same."
"I'm saying it's dangerous, that's all. And Timper said it first. You don't know me if you think I'd kill someone who might be an innocent just because he may not be one. But let's think, shall we? What will we do with him if and when he wakes up? Where will he go? If this was his village, he has nowhere to go and no one to be with. We can't let him see us, let alone take him with us."
"Where to go is his choice," reflected Timper. "As well as what to do with his life. All we can do is ensure that he still has that choice."
"Then let's do it while we still can!" May rushed the group.

As the fire faerie spoke, a sword that looked way too big for her appeared between her hands. She pressed it against the human's chest, and steam started coming out of the now red metallic blade.
"Not as resistant as this one, but not bad either," judged Erin, materializing her own sword and sending heat through it at the patient's back.
"I'll make a potion," announced Mariel. "I'll need some fire."
"I'm on it," Jim offered.

For the next 20 minutes, everyone did the best to keep the young human warm and restore his vital signs. Then, when the potion was ready, Mariel poured it inside the patient's mouth and held his head up so that he would swallow it.
"Now all we can do is wait," she said.
"In that case, it's better to wait at a safe distance," Timper suggested. "And behind the nearest large object."
"I don't see any large objects around," Eric told him.
"Now you will."
In Timper's place now stood a white rock, big enough to hide the whole group.
"Couldn't you think of anything less notorious? Someone here needs a lesson in subtlety," Erin commented.
"Don't worry, I'll teach you whenever the opportunity sprouts," the rock retorted.
Erin didn't even try to think of a comeback, as now the human was beginning to move and any sound would reveal their location.

*************************

Not far from there, two slender figures walked across the snowy landscape. They were a male and a female, both tall and with very light skin. The cold didn't seem to affect them, as the clothes they were wearing offered hardly any protection from the weather. He wore a golden chest plate that looked nearly white in the sunlight and matched the color of his hair. His legs were covered in white cloth and golden boots, and two golden wrist plates finished his attire. She had totally distinct features, aside from the color of her skin. Her hair was jet black, as were her irises. Her crimson lips and pearly teeth made her face look beautiful as long as one wouldn't stare into the abysses that were her eyes. She wore a black top, black, round-pointed shoes and a long skirt composed by shiny black diamond-shaped stones. She also wore a thin black bracelet on each wrist. They both looked tired.

"Now that was a discharge!" the male broke the silence.
"Yeah... Still not quite what I expected," his companion sighed without looking at him. "No warm bodies to draw heat from, no breaths to take away... Sure, it was a strong blizzard and we made it stronger, but it still lacked direction."
"True. We seem to be stepping on each other's toes these days. We need to get organized."
She nodded and looked at him.
"Not everyone can handle cooperation like we do. They're too full of themselves. I bet it will get worse when the group grows larger."
"Well, someone will have to bring order," he decided. "I think I can handle that role."
"Oh, I'm sure you can," she said with a hint of irony. "Can you imagine Haggaus taking orders? Or any of the others, except for the shifter girl, and even she might be a wild card. No, we'll have to figure out how things work and find the way to use them to our advantage. This group won't be easy to handle."
"Yes, especially the new ones. I don't trust embreals; they look like deformed red snakes."
"You're too quick to judge others by their looks. I don't think those embreals are smart enough to betray us. I'm worried about Haggaus and his girl."
"We'll keep an eye on Haggaus. I wouldn't worry about the emotional cripple, if I were you. She's not up to your level."
"I guess you're right. She'd better not make a wrong move, though, or else she won't live long enough to regret it."
"I've always liked your enthusiasm, but save it for our real targets. As far as I know, we're screwed if we reduce our number."
"We're also screwed if we act rashly and add morons to our lines. Next time I'll choose who gets to join us."
"No problem here."

*************************

When the young man opened his eyes and saw the clear sky, he thought for a moment that he was in heaven. A gust of cold wind gave him the news that he was still alive. As painful as it was, he was glad to be able to feel cold again. He mentally searched for his hands. They felt as hard as stone, but at least he could feel them. His legs, sheltered by his boots and two thick layers of clothes, felt better. He was almost positive he could move them. "I can't stay here," was his first thought once he'd finished inspecting his body. He made an effort to turn on his side, and suddenly felt the weight of his backpack. That's when he remembered the events that had led him there, and he wondered how he'd managed to survive. He lifted his head up. His strength was slowly returning to him. He thought he was hallucinating when he saw what seemed like a mountain in front of him, but once he managed to sit up he realized it was just a large rock. Still, it was almost as strange. As strong as the wind had been, it couldn't have carried something that big and heavy. He was suddenly overcome by an urge to uncover the many mysteries into which he'd been immersed that day. He managed to get on his knees and crawled towards the rock to take a closer look at it. Wasn't he surprised when he saw a small bundle of orange hair emerge from behind the stone. He held the white stone to help himself up, but before he could see what was behind it, a bright flash of light blinded him.

"Ow!" a child's voice cried out.
A string of whispers followed.
"Who's there?" he asked, trying to reopen his eyes.
"See what you've done?" the same voice uttered.
"Hold on," now a soft female voice whispered.

He suddenly felt warmer inside. He couldn't be more puzzled about everything that was going on, but somehow he was starting to feel better. He could now stand on his feet with ease. There was also something strange in him. It somehow felt like someone was helping him, and at the same time exploring him just like he had done minutes earlier, only deeper. It was the most unusual feeling, yet for some reason he had the feeling that whoever was doing this meant no harm, and knew that neither did he. Then the sensation left as smoothly as it had come.

"Sorry about the light. You scared us," a young lady stood up from behind the stone and walked to his side.
Now he was almost sure he was dreaming. She didn't look quite human, and still there was something familiar about her.
"Who are you? Are you the one who saved me?" he asked.
"Yes. My friends and I did," she replied. "My name is Mariel. What's yours?"
"Ralph."
"I'm sorry you got mixed into all of this, Ralph," Mariel said.
"What's 'all of this', exactly?"
"The war."
Ralph paused to reflect on that word. Some things didn't make sense yet, but the word 'war' seemed to fit what he had seen earlier that day.
"Do you know who attacked this village?" he asked.
"No, but we'll try to find out. What do you remember?"
It hurt to look back at the scene he had witnessed, but Ralph did his best to retell it. It was the only thing he could do now.
"I came here to get some medicine," he said. "But when I arrived there seemed to be no one in town. Then a strong wind began to blow, so I decided to enter a shop until it stopped. Then I saw..."
It was horrible just to think of it. Mariel stepped forward and held Ralph's hand. That somehow helped him clear his thoughts.
"I saw the shopkeeper's body," he continued. "It was ripped apart, and there was dry blood all over the floor. I got scared and tried to get away from the village, but the storm was too strong, and there came a point when I couldn't move anymore. Then the snow covered me. I thought I would die there and then."

Mariel wept. She was sharing Ralph's emotions to help him bear them.
"I'll never get used to the horrors others are willing to cause," she said. "And for that I will never stop fighting against them."
"I don't know what you are nor where you came from, but I must thank you for saving me."
"It was the least I could do," Mariel replied. "I'll do more if I can. What kind of medicine do you need?"
"All sorts, actually. It's for my village; we don't have a pharmacist, so I used to come here to buy whatever was needed. Our doctor's too busy to leave the town in the winter, especially one as cold as this one."
"Are you his assistant?"
"Not exactly. I help everyone, actually. I travel to get all the things my people need and can't get in our village, and help with different kinds of tasks."
"Are you a ranger?"
"I'd never been called a ranger before..." Ralph let out a short chuckle.
"I can give you some healing herbs. Is your village far from here?"
"Four days on foot to the northwest under these conditions. It's the nearest village in that direction. It would be faster on a horse, but mine ran away as soon as the blizzard began. I don't understand it, he'd never done anything like that before."
"Do you think there was something unnatural about this storm?"
"Yeah, I guess so. It was storming in my village as well, but it was nothing like here. I think the weather's going crazy."
"The balance of nature is breaking."
"What do you mean? What's happening?"
"Too much is happening," Erin suddenly came out from behind the stone.
Mariel looked at her, stunned.
"Well, with peeping May, screaming Jim and you out in the open, there's no reason to stay hidden anymore," Erin explained.
Soon, the whole company followed her. Ralph was most surprised when the stone itself took the form of a little man.
"What are you all? Is this a dream?" he asked, more puzzled than he's ever been.
"I wish!" Jim exclaimed. "We're three faerfliyes, a lurian, a shifter, a ferwill and two elves."
Ralph shook his head in confusion. He didn't understand half the words he had just heard. He only recognized Mariel and Eric as the two elves.
"You look like a fairy," he said to Jim.
"He is," May told him. "Faerfliyes are a kind of fire faeries. The strongest kind. I'm one too. My name is May."
"Nice to meet you, May, I'm Ralph," the human smiled.
He was still stunned, but he was beginning to feel better. For the first time since he had left his home, he found himself among friends - as strange as those friends might be.
Eric introduced himself and the rest of his friends before turning to Mariel for advice.
"What shall we do now?"
"I think we should escort Ralph to his village. He won't be safe on his own," Mariel opined.
"He'll be less safe with us if you ask me," this time Pura differed. "He may come across a random attack if he's on his own, but don't forget our enemies have their eyes on us. Sooner or later, we will be attacked. I'm surprised we haven't been for the last two days."
"But he'll also have a better chance at defending himself if he's with us," Eric pointed out. "It's only 4 days anyway, and we wouldn't deviate much from our course. It's on the northwest and we're going to the north."
"I can fight if I have to," Ralph said.
"Do you have a sword?" Erin asked.
"No, but..."
"Any kind of weapons?"
"I have a knife."
Erin thought for a second.
"Can you use magic?" she finally asked.
"I'm good at concentrating. I'm sure I can learn," Ralph replied.
Erin shook her head and sighed.
"How old are you?"
"Sixteen."
"At least you're older than half of us. Ok, come with us. We'll make sure you don't die on your way home."
"Err... Thanks."
"Wow, I'm shocked! I didn't expect you to tell someone to join us!" Eric exclaimed.
"He's not joining us, he'll just be with us for 4 days," Erin reminded him. "We can't leave him to die here. Besides, he's caught up in this war. He needs some combat lessons badly."
"You're greater than I thought."
"Of course she is! She's greater than she thinks too!" Timper grinned.
"Ok, ok, enough with the flattery. Let's get moving."
"Yes, ma'am!" Timper saluted, tearing the fake seriousness away from Erin's face.

And so, the group parted towards their new destination.

`,,`,, ` ,,`,,`

Preview time:

"Just look at us. We were already an odd crew before we left Twocastle. Now we also have two children and a human to take care of. The harder I try to make us stronger and help us all survive this war, the harder it becomes. I've learnt to expect that, but this... this I could have never imagined. All I can assume is that we've been put into some kind of joke played by the Gods or something."

"The only reason why we're doing this is because we know we can change something. So Seren doesn't have much hope? Well, Gavin and Galmand do, and they'll defend the fortress fiercely. And so do we, and believe me: we'll make that count."

For a moment, nothing seemed to happen. Then they heard laughter. The laughter of an adult male. They couldn't see him, but the direction the sound came from was clear, so Jim hastily shot a fireball in that direction... only to have it blown away by a gust of wind. Then, the attacker revealed himself.

The two air elementals got engaged in a fight again. Eric couldn't pay attention to what was going on between them. Not when it was so hard to fill his lungs.


And to keep up with the oposite streak (don't worry, this will be the last title featuring opposites, at least for now) the next chapter will be Day and Night.
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And how did this forum get into my sig?

Last edited by Lady Vulpix : 03-19-2005 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 03-19-2005, 01:21 PM   #117
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I wanted to post to let you know I'm reading this, Gabi! I love it so far, and I think that it's so sweet that you dedicated it to me. ^_^ I can't read all of it in one go, though I'd love to - I need to get stuff ready, since we're busy with dinners and such this weekend. I'll sneak on every once in a while to get more of this, though; I have only one thing to say, Gabi: you're such a talented writer! I love all the stuff you write.
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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
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Old 03-21-2005, 11:32 AM   #118
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What a treat! Gabi, you're simply amazing. ^_^ As soon as I found the time to read without interruptions, I couldn't stop until I reached the end of the chapter... and was still hoping for more. Hehe. What can I say? I'm addicted to your writing.
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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
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Old 05-13-2005, 02:16 PM   #119
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I've already told you this Karin, but thanks a lot. You don't know how much your support means to me.

Well, I've managed to finish chapter 23, which according to my algorithm means I'm ready to post chapter 22. Here it is!


Chapter 22: Day and Night

As the group set off again with an increase in their numbers, Erin couldn't help but let out a chuckle.
"What is it?," queried Timper, caught off-guard by this unusual gesture.
"Just the irony of life. That's it," she replies.
"What do you mean?"
"Just look at us. We were already an odd crew before we left Twocastle. Now we also have two children and a human to take care of. The harder I try to make us stronger and help us all survive this war, the harder it becomes. I've learnt to expect that, but this... this I could have never imagined. All I can assume is that we've been put into some kind of joke played by the Gods or something."
"So you try to laugh in order to hide how worried you are?"
Erin looked into Timper's eyes thoughtfully.
"Don't do that again," she told him.
"Do what?"
"Reveal my feelings before I can identify them myself. How do you do that, anyway? Do you have any secret powers hidden inside you?"
"I have nothing to hide, I've told you that countless times. I'm just observant, especially of the things I find important. And you, Erin... Well, I don't really know how to say it so that you'll finally understand, but you've been on top of that list for a long time now."
"I'm important to you..." she reflected. She could now tell he did really mean it.
"Why do you have so much trouble believing that?"
"I guess I'm just not used to it, that's all."
There were countless words Timper could have said. But he'd been there and done that too many times. Words wouldn't wash away the feeling of loneliness he knew Erin had been carrying for all those years. His life had been nothing like hers, but he knew the feeling too. He knew what it felt like to have no one to talk to for more than a few days, no one to appreciate who he truly was, no one he could really open up to because no one would ever listen... or care. But that had changed now, hadn't it? He seriously hoped it had. He wrapped his arm around Erin's shoulders and, to his surprise, she let him stay and actually seemed to enjoy his touch.

The rest of the party were having small conversations of their own. Mariel and Eric were mostly worried about what they could find ahead. Gallead couldn't stop thinking about what they had left behind, and did his best to maintain the children's optimism even though he couldn't help but be worried himself. Jim and May didn't seem to notice that. They were too entertained asking the human questions about his village, his family and his race in general. They also got to hear some stories of his journeys which, according to Jim, were rather boring, and according to May, really exciting. As for Pura, she kept hovering around Eric, trying her best to focus on the path ahead while every heartbeat tried to pull her back. She tried to confort herself with the thought that she'd see Galmand again once this was all over, but she couldn't really be sure. Anything could happen in a war and Seren's words had been scarily ominous. "Give him some credit!," she finally told herself. "He can handle whatever comes to him. It's you who needs to worry about making it back to his side safely."

Eric slowed down when he noticed everyone else was staying behind.
"Is anything wrong?," he asked.
"It's cold," Jim replied from the back of the group. "But don't worry, we'll catch up."
"Alright, I'll wait for you," Eric decided.

As the rest of the group advanced, Eric noticed that Gallead was looking back more often than ahead, so he walked up to him and asked him what the problem was.
"Problem? Ah, no, no problem," the ferwill replied. "Nothing new anyway. I'm just worried, that's all."
"About what we may find ahead? Or about the guys at Twocastle?"
"All of it, actually. And more. You know... Seren's words left me worried. She seemed to have lost all hope."
"Don't let that happen to you too," Eric grabbed Gallead's arm as he said this. "Anything else you can afford to lose, but not hope. If you lose hope, you'll have nothing to fight for. And that will mean you've already lost."
"Wise words," Gallead recognized.
"Thanks. I keep reminding myself of that. The only reason why we're doing this is because we know we can change something. So Seren doesn't have much hope? Well, Gavin and Galmand do, and they'll defend the fortress fiercely. And so do we, and believe me: we'll make that count."
"Thank you, my friend," Gallead replied with a slight smile on his face.
"Hey. That's what a friend's for, isn't it? Just remember... oh, no. Another storm?!"
"Where?"
"Right ahead of us. We may have to camp until it stops. It looks bad."
"Let me take a look," offered Pura, who was still circling above Eric.
The lurian zoomed away, to return five seconds later.
"It's bad indeed," she announced. "A heavy snowstorm. I couldn't see through it."
"Since we're forced to stop, I think it's a good time for another training session," Erin suggested. "We could all use one, and I have a feeling that the children need one badly."
"But it's too cold!," Jim complained.
"All the more reason to train," Erin told him. "We need to be ready to fight under disfavorable conditions. That's bound to happen sooner rather than later. Besides, the excercise will warm you up."
"Please don't be so harsh, he's just a kid," Ralph told her.
"I'm not harsh, just realistic. I didn't ask for te war to start, but since it has we must do what we can to survive. Besides, you're only being escorted to the nearest human village, so I don't think you should have a say in the group's decisions."
"He was only trying to help," May defended him. "I think he should train with us, just in case we're attacked before we reach his village."
Erin took a deep breath, and then sighed.
"Alright. Let's see what you've got. All of you," she finally accepted. "You two train together. Jim... you can train with Pura; she can give you a lesson or two. Eric with Gallead, and Mariel with Timper."
"And you?," asked Jim.
"I'll watch this time. I want to see what you guys can do. I'll assist anyone who needs it."

Nobody question Erin's decision, and they soon got down to testing their skills. For Eric and Gallead, it started out as a clearly lopsided swordfight, but once Gallead cast his agility spell he seemed to gain some terrain. Mariel began to shoot weak lightballs without much focus, until Timper asked her if she needed a fixed target and turned into a wall. She had to admit she wasn't putting much effort into it because she didn't want to hurt him, and he promised that he wouldn't get hurt.Things went a bit better from then on. Jim tried to shoot Fireballs at Pura, but she was too small and moved too fast, making an extremely difficult target, while each of her lightballs seemed to connect. Of course, they were weak and only slightly annoying, but Jim got frustrated and started to shoot randomly. When Mariel had to set up a shield to stop one of the fireballs, Jim realized he had gone too far and Pura reminded him never to lose focus. As for May and Ralph, the human turned out to be more skillful than the group had expected. May took out a sword similar to Erin's, but Ralph had no trouble avoiding her attack. When that happened, he whispered something that no one but May heard, and she stopped moving for a second... which was enough time for him to get ahold of her sword.
"You tricked me!," May cried out.
"If you're in a fight, your opponent may do that," Ralph said. "Never let anyone make you lose your concentration. But I did mean what I said."
"Hold on over there," Erin interrupted the two. "Less talk and more action. Ralph, you've earned the right to May's sword until she gets it back or this session is over, whatever comes first. May, you'll have to do better than that. Now move."

This time May resorted to fire, and she was clearly able to wield it better than her sword. While Ralph managed to deflect most of her attacks with the sword he'd acquired, the weapon soon accumulated too much heat, and he was forced to release it. Just then, the sound of a fast gust of wind and a loud thump caught everyone's attention, interrupting the training.
"Mariel!," Eric cried out, seeing that the elvin was lying on the ground.
"Are you alright?," Timper asked her, transforming into one of her kind and helping her up.
"I think so," she replied. "Something hit me from behind. It was strong and cold."
"Everyone, be on guard," Eric called out to the group. Most of them were already watching out for the source of the attack.

For a moment, nothing seemed to happen. Then they heard laughter. The laughter of an adult male. They couldn't see him, but the direction the sound came from was clear, so Jim hastily shot a fireball in that direction... only to have it blown away by a gust of wind. Then, the attacker revealed himself. He was tall, with wavy, platinum blond hair covering his neck almost downto his shoulders. His skin was as white as if he had never been under the sun, and his shiny golden chest plate was hard to look at without blinking.
"Well, well... it seems there will be some fun today after all," he said. "One, two... eight? No, wait, nine. That little thing is sentient too, isn't it? But most of you're just children. That's too bad... well, you'll have to do for now."
"Who are you?," Eric demanded to know. "Why are you attacking us?"
"My real name is not for you to know. When you go wherever it is you elves go when you die, you can tell the others you were killed by Day. They'll know who I am. As for why I'm attacking you, let's just say I need a discharge. But enough with the talking."
At the moment he stopped speaking, a whirlwind rose from the ground and made its way towards the group. They instinctively split up. All except Gallead, who tried to stop the attack with wind of his own, but it turned out to be too strong for him. It finally lifted him up, and he was forced to turn into wind himself and spin in the opposite direction to stop the whirlwind.
"Ah... air elemental. This could be better than I thought," Day said to himself.
"You don't really know much, do you, whisterel?," Gallead noted, assuming his normal form again.
"Whisterel?," Mariel asked. "I haven't heard about them before."
"Air elementals, with great control over the air and gases in general. They can turn invisible, but remain solid at all times," Gallead explained.
"Ah, so you're well informed, but you forgot something," Day said walking towards Gallead. "We can put up a good fight."
As he said this, a triangular dagger materialized in his hand. He nearly cut Gallead with it, but fortunately for the ferwill, his agility spell was still in effect and he managed to evade it. He swung his sword at him, but a powerful wind repelled him. Pura tried to shoot lightballs at the whisterel, but they seemed to disappear into thin air. Day was still raising the power of the wind. It was then that Pura realized they were not alone.
"Someone's helping Day," she told the group.

Pura shot a few more lightballs, not at Day, but slightly to his right. Everyone but Gallead -who was still engaged in a fight against the whisterel- turned their attention to the spot in which the projectiles disappeared. Eric acted quickly, and sunk his sword into the frozen ground, creating a crack that extended itself towards that spot. Two seconds later, a female figure appeared, floating a few centimeters above the crack. She was as slim as Day, and her skin was the same color as his, but her lips were ruby red, and her hair and eyes were the same shiny black as the stones which adorned her legs, forming a skirt of sorts, except that each column of stones was separate from the others. As for her small, black breast plate, it was hard to picture it providing much protection. It looked more like a black top, leaving most of her torso uncovered.
"I guess there's no point in hiding anymore," the female whisterel spoke out, letting her feet touch the ground. "Nice spotting. Killing you will be more fun than I thought."
"I doubt you can defeat us if you have to resort to tricks like that one," Eric said.
"Well, you should have known there's no Day without a Night," she countered. "But don't be so quick to judge us, the trick was just for fun. We don't get much entertainment lately. Now, if you want a fair fight, I'm all for it. You and your ferwill friend against the two of us. How does that sound?"
"Sounds fair," Eric decided, picking up his sword.
Day and Gallead ceased their fighting for a moment to look at their partners.
"Be careful, Eric," Erin warned the elf. "They're tricky."
As she spoke, she did her best to remain firm, but she was visibly shaking. Probably from the cold, Eric deduced. Jim and may were holding onto each other and shaking even more than she was. The temperature had indeed fallen quite abruptly. Timper and Mariel also seemed uncomfortable, and Eric himself was starting to feel it as well.
"And I will add... She seems to be smarter than him," Timper said, before turning to Erin. "Are you alright?"
"Ask me again once this is over," she told him.
"Two on two?," Day shrugged. "Seems a bit too easy, but we can always get the others once we're done with the first ones."
"We'll see how it unfolds," Night said. "Things aren't always the way they look. Remember that."
"Are we going to fight or what?," Eric asked.
"Ask and you shall receive," Day said, shooting a beam of light in Eric's direction.

Eric, who had been expecting an attack from Night, had to react quickly but couldn't completely avoid the blow. The beam passed through his left shoulder, leaving a persistent stinging sensation. Eric charged against Day, who immediately set up a wall of wind around himself. The strong air currents deviated both Eric's and Gallead's attacks. Eric eventually managed to counter them and scratch Day's side, but at that moment all the wind was focused on him and blew him off, causing him to fall on his back. Day threw his dagger at Eric while he was getting up, managing to deal a similar wound to the one he now had. Eric tried to grab the dagger, but it disappeared. In the meantime, Gallead and Night seemed to be doing nothing but stare at each other.
"What are you doing?," Eric asked Gallead as soon as he noticed this.
The ferwill didn't reply. Instead, he clasped his sword tightly.
"Something's wrong," Mariel said. "It's Night."
She closed her eyes and held her head with her hands.
"The air," she finally said.
"What part of two on two don't you get?," Night said to the Elvin, shooting a shard of ice at her chest.

Mariel tried to block the attack, but couldn't set up a shield. All she could do was take her hands to her chest so that the ice didn't hit her lungs. But after this, she fell on her knees. Her strength was failing her. Still, she kept her eyes fixed on Night.
"You... broke the rules... first," she said. "You've been... attacking us... from the..."
She began to choke before she could finish the sentence. Alarmed, Eric left his opponent and attacked Night instead.
"Leave her alone!," he yelled, swinging his sword at the female whisterel. She could only block the attack with her arm, receiving a serious cut. She took her other hand to her wound immediately. She winced for a moment, but then glared at Eric.
"Alright," she decided. "I'll kill you first."
At that moment, Eric began to feel dizzy. Mariel was right, something was wrong with the air. It was becoming thinner by the second. Day attacked Gallead while Eric was still strying to breathe in. The two air elementals got engaged in a fight again. Eric couldn't pay attention to what was going on between them. Not when it was so hard to fill his lungs. "That must be the negative polarity magic Mariel used to talk about," he thought. "There has to be a way to counter it. But I'm no sorcerer. All I can do is try to get her before he gets me."

Eric launched himself forward, but this time Night managed to create a shield of ice before he could hit her. The lack of air was making him slow. His sword easily shattered the shield, but couldn't reach the whisterel. The vacuum magic was becoming stronger. Night was now focusing all her power into incapacitating Eric. He kept trying to attack, but her moves either didn't connect or only dealt minor scratches. He was about to pass out, when suddenly something happened.

The scenes didn't make sense at first. All Eric saw was a light sword sinking into Night's torso, right below her breast plate. Swift passed through her at an incredible speed. He saw blood come out as Night collapsed on the ground, and he could suddenly breathe again. The temperature became warmer at the same time. Now it was just a typical early winter day. He then heard Day cry out Night's war name and run to her side, while Gallead materialized next to her and took the sword from her. Day didn't even look at him. Instead, he lifted Night's unconscious body in his arms and kept calling her. "Don't die, sis. Please don't die," he said to her. He then looked up, as if listening to a voice only he could hear, and then looked at his enemies.
"I'll get you all later," he promised, holding his sister against his chest and turning around. He walked a few steps and then disappeared.

"We should follow him," Timper suggested.
"No," Mariel replied, still panting. "They left through a portal which closed right away. We won't find them."
Eric walked over to Mariel and helped her up. "Are you ok?," he asked.
"I've been better, but now that we're alone I'll be able to heal myself. What about you? You got me scared for a moment."
"I don't think I'm going to take air for granted ever again," he replied. "Night used negative magic, didn't she?"
"To a scary degree. We need to be ready if we face her again. Counter it with as much positive magic as we can gather."
"Positive magic?"
"Light, fire, air, everything we have. We'll need to give her more than she can take."
"Do you think we'll see her again?"
"I don't know, but if it's not her, it may be someone like her. We'll need to be ready for a similar attack."
"I wouldn't rule out seeing her again," Erin stated. "Sure, she sucked at defending herself, but her magic was powerful. At one point she managed to immobilize 5 of us with her cold and her vacuum. Besides, they have connections. They escaped through a portal and Day used a faerfliye dagger. I bet they're a part of the same group that's been targetting us."
"In that case we shouldn't underestimate Day either," Pura reckoned. "By the way he was acting, it looked like he was playing around until his sister fell. Next time we meet him, he'll be serious."
"Good point," Gallead agreed. "He may not be as tricky as Night is, but he puts up a good fight. I've just healed myself a little, but I'm still hurting from his attacks. And it was hard to keep up with his moves even with increased agility."
"I'd say that's because you're not a fighter," Erin began, "but after what you've just done I'd be willing to question that. Nice save!"
"Thanks," Gallead smiled. "Though that was quick thinking rather than being a good fighter. I doubt my sword would have even touched Night had she not been absorbing all the air around herself and Eric."
"Turning your enemies' strengths against them is a sign of a good fighter. And so is quick thinking. Keep training and we may get something good out of you."
"Wow, thanks!," Gallead blushed. "Coming from you, that's the biggest compliment I've ever received!"
"I don't commend anyone unless they've earned it," Erin noted.
"Did you know the color of your face looks almost normal when you're blushing?," Pura laughed.
"Hey, my face is normal!," Gallead told her. "It's not my fault most beings have more color in their skins than ferwills do."
"Alright, the mood's light again," Timper noted. "I think we can consider our training session over. We've got more than we bargained for."
"Yes, I think it's enough for today," Erin chuckled. "You guys get done with the healing. Then we'll get going. We need to get to Ralph's village fast before we're attacked again."
"Yes, and in the meantime, we can work on fixing that coat of yours so that it's more suitable for a faerfliye rather than who I think it was made for. It looks like you're gonna need it," Timper whispered so that only Erin could hear him.
"You never give up, do you?"
"Trying to figure out the big secret? I think I've already got it. It wasn't hard to put all the pieces together, and our stay at Twocastle confirm my theory. Don't worry, though. You don't have to feel guilty because you didn't say anything. And nor shall I. But please do tell Pura to lift that ban on me, because it's useless now and I'm sure I could use the speed boost at some point."
"You do go out of your way to prove you're trustworthy. Don't mind doing that to me anymore, you've earned my trust. And I don't think Pura will mind. She was on the brink of revealing it herself more times than I could count. I'll talk to her and everything will be fine."
"Thank you, milady," Timper made a ridiculous bow, which made Erin laugh. "Ah, I should do this more often. I can't get enough of your laughter."
"Get on with you! You've got more of it than anyone else has. Ever."
"I must be really fortunate, then. Now, about your coat..."
"Can you knit?"
"I can do just about anything."
"Really? What about magic?"
"Ok, anything but magic. No one can do everything, right? It was either magic or everything else."
"Your modesty doesn't cease to amaze me."
"Nor do you. Anyway, I don't think much knitting will be required. We can cut a few parts from the borders and sew them to the space around your wings. It may not look as pretty, but it would keep your back warm."
"I knew it. You're not good at knitting. Don't worry about the looks, I don't wear a coat to look pretty."
"Of course not! You look beautiful regardless of what you wear."
"Give me a break!," Erin burst into laughter.
"Oh, no, I won't. Not as long as I can make you laugh."

*************************

Meanwhile, in a chamber few had entered, Day was starting to lose his patience. Haggaus had been examining Night for nearly an hour, and she showed no signs of recovery.
"Do something, dammit! At least say something!," Day yelled.
"You can't rush things, whisterel. Her condition is too delicate."
"Rush things? I've been standing here for an eternity."
"Don't pronounce words whose meaning you can't even grasp," Haggaus told him. "An hour can hardly be compared to an eternity."
"Try to say that when your sister's life is at stake."
"I would... if I had a sister. Now, if you can't handle the wait, leave me to work alone. You're distracting me and making things worse for her."
"I won't leave her alone with you."
"I don't think you have a choice," Haggaus said. "See, your sister has a strong soul. It clings to life as we speak, fed by a burning desire to keep fighting. But her wounds are too serious. I'm afraid her body won't make it."
"What do you mean?! Are you gonna let her die?!"
"Shh. No, that's not what I said. Whether she lives or dies is up to her. Or, rather, up to her willpower. Leave her in my hands. There's one thing which could save her. But it could also destroy her soul. It all depends on how strong she really is. I don't want to give you false hope, she may not make it."
"Do it," Day decided. "Do whatever it takes to save her. She's strong, whatever she has to face she'll deal with it."
"I will. Just remember it's not my fault if it doesn't work. And don't expect her to come out of it unphased. Now please leave us alone."

`,,`,, ` ,,`,,`

And now the previews:

"I guess it's time to say goodbye, then," Eric said. "It's been nice to have you with us, even for such a short while."

"He can't open his mouth without getting everyone's attention."
"Maybe, but he knows when to keep it closed," Pura pointed out, having already had a talk with Erin about his discovery.

"They looked human in shape and build, but their skin was pale and their eyes were red. They didn't say a word and seemed to attack mindlessly."
Erin's own face went pale for a moment, her pupils shrinking to their limit. It was just a second. Then her eyes went back to normal and she started issuing commands.

Eric's sword and Mariel's lightballs could barely contain them, as pain didn't seem to slow them down.


Oh! And the title of the next chapter is Unexpected welcome.
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And how did this forum get into my sig?

Last edited by Lady Vulpix : 05-13-2005 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 05-23-2005, 05:23 PM   #120
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Ooh! Awesome chapter, Gabi! I can't wait for the next one. ^_^ It's getting really interesting now that you've developed so many characters. I'm not sure how you can handle such a bunch, but you're doing great! I wish I could concentrate on developing lots of characters like that, while still making the plot really exciting.
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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
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