The flames roared towards the poor angel as they stood with swords locked together. Galain felt nothing for the first few seconds before he offered a haunting and heart wrenching scream as he fell to his knee’s as the flames began to burn through his body and soul. Each passing moment was pure agony for the unfortunate angel as he began to writhe in pain while his skin began to crack and split exposing pure white light that filtered through the slowly growing cracks as they spread across his skin in a slow spreading fashion.
The dwarf prince listened with a slightly raised shaggy brow, as the rat lady spoke of the Ranger in terms that were not to be over heard if it could be helped. So she was broken? She didn’t look broken to him, seemed perfectly normal. She had two arms, two legs and a head. Normal. But it can often be that what we can’t see that is at fault. He reached for his bearded chin and stroked it thoughtfully. Bramt was not a complete asshole. I mean, he could be, but he saw the truth in the rat lady’s eyes and then finally gave a nod to the older woman.
“There be room in the back of my cart, beside the bundles of cloth. Try not to stain it though, I have to make back my money.” Bramt said gruffly, picking up the reigns again, and then looking up at the Ranger. “Well, come on then, I haven’t got all day. Hop aboard and we away for the Vaas capital.”
The pony gave a little winnie, as the cart moved and shuddered under the weight of the barrels, as the pair would climb aboard. Bramt cracked his small whip, and they set off for the Vaas. What would be waiting for them when they arrived, and would Sir Wayne be at the training camps with his men?
Prince Derek, who looked more like the Pirate he had become; sat forlorn. Turning around his mug of ale slowly whilst deep in thought. To hear of the death of his parents as drunken gossip, and to top it off of how his Father had gone in to save his Mother from the King of Brax with no back up had his heart sink. Last of his memories of his Father, were how he was so dismissive of his Mother. What had happened? Did his parents find their love again prior to their deaths? What of his sisters; Selene and Clarice? His whole family had more or less disintegrated while he was at sea. The Prince raised his mug, and took a sip of the ale, but the taste in his mouth was a bitter one. It was hard to swallow, with a ball that was rising up in his throat.
Pirates don’t cry. Men, don’t cry. Royals, don’t cry.
He set down the mug of ale again, his heart heavy as he had to weigh up his choices. Should he do the right thing, and return to the Vaas lands, and make his claim for the throne? Or should he simply walk out the doors of this inn, return to his ship, and sail away, never to return to the Vaas again?
What difference would it make to the people? Surely they were already grief stricken enough, without having to accept a wayward son as their new King. His father was loved by the people and died a martyr. All Derek was..was a thief, a scoundrel and a Pirate.
Listening to the raucous calls coming from one of the other tables, he looked up silently, and heard the laughter of many a drunken man. Life goes on it seems. While one weeps, the other sings. As a barmaid came around to take his empty mug and bring him another, a young lass approached his booth to sit down, and he looked at her oddly.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He asked, wondering if one of his crew had sent a wench to make him more…comfortable.
On the outskirts of the major city that hosts the Castle Haven, is the proud lands of the Order of the Cross. Knights of the Realm of Vaas. It is here that the angel and fae army returned after the Great war between the Brax and Casterly Houses. The angels and fae put up a strong fight against astounding odds, but of course, the dawn raid by the King had led to the slaughter and disembodiment of many a Knight and foot soldier. One of the legacies of the battle was those that lost limbs, fighting the demon and orc hordes. Many had to be carried back to the Vaas on carts and stretches, by their wounded comrades. The sight that the peasant folk and squires saw on their return was one of horror and dismay. It took a great deal of courage and perseverance, to help the sick and wounded to recover from terrible injuries and illnesses born from the battle field, where infections were rife, due to the poor drinking water and conditions.
One such lass, that tended to the amputees, was Estelle, the good. An angel servant of the Flag of Arhold. She had been keeping Sir Wayne’s home fires burning, but came back to the training grounds, where she knew she would be of better use. Many weeks of the tortured sound of men screaming out in pain and begging for the nightmares to end, left Estelle mentally scarred, and often she could be found sitting outside an infirmary tent, covered in the blood of young men. This was the aftermath of the war.
News had finally reached the people, of the Deaths of the King and Queen of Casterly. The entire nation was in mourning, as the King’s brother Ira was in care taker mode, till the true heir did return from his travels. Many had a bad feeling about the wayward Prince, who had gone off on some crazed adventure, rather than fighting under his father’s banner. Sir Wayne knew of the young Prince, and from memory he was a head strong lad, who had much growing up to do. It was with some hope that he believed that while the Prince was on his journey of self discovery, he would in fact, find himself and his true calling. Whether that meant returning to take his rightful place, remained to be seen.
Sir Reginald, the White Elf had decided to stay on, rather than return to the Willow, with many other of his name sake. He had always been Sir Wayne’s right hand, and he wasn’t about to leave him now, when morale was at an all time low, and they needed to train new men to bolster the army once again. There was no telling what the King of Brax had planned now, but it was safe to say that his army also copped a beating, and that he would not be raising arms again anytime soon.
Seated on a tree log stump, the angel Knight was polishing his blade, when Sir Reginald sat down beside him. Both men had seen untold horrors together, and were thankful to not have lost the other during the war. Seeing Estelle come out of the tent, where another soldier was being treated, they gestured her to join them, as they stopped for a moment.
“How many have you treated today, Estelle?” Sir Reginald asked, curious from the sounds of a man wailing within the tent.“About ten…twelve, maybe, Sir.” So many. Sir Wayne leaned forward, and took up the ladle and poured Estelle a mug of water. She took it eagerly and sat down by them. “So many sons…never come home. I hope this is the last war for sometime. Many are never going to forget this one.” Estelle said with a sigh. Both men nodded in agreement.
Calypso and the crone had been quiet, respectful passengers, occasionally muttering things to each other in Elvish and snickering even less often. As they came to the more populated areas, the woman’s hood fell back a bit to reveal the bottom half of her face. Calypso could now visually tell that she smiled. A small smile appeared on the ranger’s face as well, though she remained otherwise cold and a bit distant. Finally, the cart stopped.
“Are we here already, friend? Your pay is in order then.” The woman drew from her bag a small but heavy pouch and rested it where she had sat a few moments ago, then turned to Calypso, who had leaped daintily from the cart just as she did. The ranger simply nodded at her current employer, then looked to Bramt to ensure that he had nothing else to say while the woman walked over to greet a maiden selling bread. She did the same to the other surrounding merchants and children, with kind smiles and laughter, even as Calypso spoke.
“It was kind of you to assist us, sir. If your pay is not sufficient, I can always be found in the mountains.” She bowed her head in the usual way of the elves (despite the fact that she was not truly one), and the wind for the thousandth time since she’d taken this form picked up her hair and blew it like autumn leaves.
The Donkey’s Dick
It was a funny thing. She could see what was happening at the edge of the Earth, but she had missed the man – no, the fucking prince – sitting in the booth. She jumped when he spoke, her hand flitting to her heart. Her yellow eyes met his and she smiled slightly. She knew he wouldn’t want to be revealed to the men just a table away, so she simply bowed her head in respect, but not in praise. “My apologies, Captain, I had believed this booth to be empty. I shall leave if you wish?” She brought her eyes up to meet his once again just as a commotion bloomed near the door.
Her polite smile fell when she saw why, though her eyes never left his. “Giselle.”
Moments later, a small female voice was heard. “Mithril! Mithril! MITHRIL! SHE’S HERE! THE FIRE HAIRED ELF CAME WITH A DWARF! I SAW HER! MITHRIL!”
The Watcher’s eyes bore into Derek’s. “I’m terribly sorry, but would you excuse me, Captain?”
The barrel laden cart finally came to a stop, with the dwarf calling the pony to slow by pulling back up on the reigns. He locked in the brake handle of the side, and then he rose up on the foot step and climbed down from the front of his cart, landing with a thud on the dirt road. They had reach the edge of Whirling forest and the training camps of the Knights of the Order of the Cross, or the Casterly Knights. The dwarf ambled round the back of the cart to where his passengers had been seated.
“Are we here already, friend? Your pay is in order then.””
“Aye.” The dwarf answered, watching closely to see if the woman would come good with her end of the bargain; payment for their trip. Sure enough, the woman took out a coin purse that appeared to be heavy and set it down where she had been seated. As soon as she stepped away, the dwarf reached for the bag, and untied the leather strap, checking the contents to make sure that it was not full of pebbles and not silver. Pleased with what the bag contained, he made a mock salute, before waddling back to the front of his cart, where he would climb back up aboard, and take off the brake, so the cart could move onward.
His voice raised in song, as the cart trundled away to the nearby inn, where he could claim the rest of his payment, for all the goods he had brought with him from the coast.
The Donkey’s Dick
Our Prince or Captain as he appears to be currently, looked up at the girl as she explained that she thought the booth was empty, and that if he wished her to leave, then she would do so. As he was about to reply however, the girl’s attention was taken by another feminine voice. One that cried out about a flame haired elf and a dwarf. This piqued the Captain’s interest for a second. But as the woman stared at him and apologized as she wanted to be excused, and she hadn’t even sat down yet, he raised both hands in defeat. Maybe he wasn’t ready to talk just yet. He wasn’t really a chatty man by nature. The sea does have a way of making them quiet on land. The longer he sat there, the more the sea was calling to him to return.
Just as Bramt settled off on his cart, the old woman returned to the Ranger’s side, and looked about before speaking to her. “Now, I suppose we should get to finding my friends.” Green eyes snapped to the woman’s form, but they were calm in an even more so face. “I agreed to bring you to Haven. I need to return to the mountains.” The crone didn’t frown this time. This time, a glare so fierce was fixed on the disguised angel, she would have sworn on her late husband’s grave that she could see the woman’s eyes glowing from beneath her hood. “Heed me, you, Calypso, Ranger of Gravida – yes, I know your name! Do not look so surprised! There are greater reasons for meetings in these times than you care to remember. You will receive your pay and be free to return to the mountain once you have been exposed to tests. Tests concerning whether or not you actually want to return to the mountain.” The Ranger, even after what seemed ages of bravery in this life and the one she’d led prior to it, shrank back from the woman’s harsh and dark tone. From an onlooker knowing neither, it might look like a grandmother scolding her grown granddaughter for refusing to marry, or some trivial thing. But the true topic was darker, and Calypso knew only too much of it.
“Now. I suppose it’s time to go find our friends.”
That was when it all clicked into place in the angel’s mind. Our friends. She knew this woman, and this woman knew him. That was what she meant by tests. As the woman began to walk further towards the military’s encampment, Calypso’s breathing became heavier, despite her supernatural endurance (and the tenfold which she had to display now that she was an Elf at first glance). Could she face this and return like she had promised herself? Did a promise need to be kept when made in nothing but words in ones own head? Words that didn’t even fit together at the time?
“Ah. I think…” The woman reached over to grab the Ranger’s arm, stopping her before she continued on. The little hooded female was on her tip-toes, a feat for someone who claimed to be dying not long ago. She would no doubt be asked about that. “I think that’s them over there, but I’ll have to be sure. Can you whistle?”
“Can I what?”
“Can you whistle? It’s such a simple question, lass.”
“Of course I can whistle. But why would I need-”
“Is it loud?”
“I’m sure I could make it loud, but I don’t see what that has to-”
“Do you know the Casterly hunting call?”
“I doubt the damned center of the military’s training grounds would be a good place to start-”
“Oh, by my aching chest, you have no room for taking orders as soon as you know where you’re going. That’s just bloody lovely, pinig, bloody lovely.”
Calypso drew up her chin. “Is there another way to get your friend’s attention?” The Ranger was still glancing around, wondering where the crone had seen them, hoping that they were gone by now. “Yes, call out their names. My voice is too small.” “Bullshit.” “Excuse me, missy?!” “Nothing, never mind, I will do it for you, m’lady.” “That’s what I thought you said.”
Then, as if she hadn’t had enough sudden discoveries that day, she saw them. The woman must have known it was them. There was no way to mistake the way they looked together. In a matter of minutes, the crone had gone from being a somewhat annoying employer, to an extremely agitating, frightening, and conniving possible friend (or fiend) of the past. The Ranger took a deep breath and steadied her voice before calling out, fearing what might come of being revealed in this place, in this form.
“Sir Ahorld of Casterly! Hail, friend, and mae govannen!”
[Hail, friend, and well met!]
“Sir Ahorld of Casterly! Hail, friend, and mae govannen!”
The voice rang out across the field and reached the ears of Sir Wayne, as he took a sip of water from a earthen mug. Glancing up, he could see the statuesque ranger and her companion who were both looking squarely at them through the crowd of people and soldiers. At first he couldn’t quite place the face, or the voice, but set down his mug on the tree log and pushed himself to standing. Estelle, who was also in the Knights company; heard the sound of the ranger’s voice and quirked a brow wondering who it was.
The war had been fought and lost, and many who they known before the war did not return. It would seem that this was one from the past. Estelle wiped her hands upon her smocked apron and also rose up from her tree stump, looking at Sir Reginald, who was also clueless as to who it was.
On walking over to get a closer look, it was only when Sir Wayne got in range that he recognized the woman with the flowing red hair. It was Calypso. The woman of white who had been changed miraculously before the war, for reasons that escaped him at this time. The shorter woman who seemed to be agitated was staring at him, and he gave her a simple nod in greeting, before turning his attention back to the Ranger.
“You are the last person I expected to see returning here.” He said in all honesty. “I remember you here…before the war, before everything changed. What brought you back to the land of Angels, Calypso?” Sir Wayne inquired, genuinely curious with what she had to say for herself. Estelle came up and stood beside the Knight. Wisps of grey hair melded with her brown curls. Clearly the war had had a marked effect upon her.
Calypso bowed her head to avoid his gaze as he spoke. She dared not look at anything but her own feet, for fear of her true emotiona bubbling at the forefront of her eyes. “My employer required my aid from the mountains.” She turned her ead slightly toward the woman, who was just drawing back her hood. Calypso could not see, but if she had, the sight would have struck her faint where she stood.
She had taken the form of Winona in the elven hero’s honor. She’d believed her dead, along with Lucius and Celandiam’d beliefs. But had she looked up at that moment, the new life she had fashioned for herself would have shattered. Beside her stood the woman, white hair cropped short. Her form was riddled with wrinkles, but hazel eyes held ferocity in the weathered face. Hazel eyes that matched the Ranger’s beside her. “Her friend has brought her home, mellon nin.” Because she could not see the truth of the real Winona’s words, she spat angrily her response. “I have had enough of your conniving trickery. I agreed to bring you to Haven to find your friends. You have found them. The only payment I ask now is that I be allowed to return to my post. My apologies, Sir Ahorld, I owe you too great a debt, but just as this is the last place you expected to find me, it is the last place I want to be.”
Winona smiled slightly. “Calypso. No one asked you to stay.” It was a test, and from the way the once beautiful elf’s limbs shook, it was an important one. One that could mean peace or its foil.
“Then with all the apologies I can possibly muster, I will lea-” She looked up as she spoke, and her breath caught in her throat as her eyes met her second savior’s. And then Winona collapsed.
As the seemingly elder’s knees gave way, the Ranger dove to catch her, lowering her to the ground gently in her arms. Her attention was completely taken away from Sir Wayne, but her subconcious was still painfully aware of his presence. She simply stared at Winona with shaky breaths, questions lost on her tongue.
Winona remained smiling at her, a small laugh on her lips. Her voice was weak when she spoke. “She will have need of you. You and the ones you love. I nabbed the mirror. Concealed it in the bag.” Calypso’s eyes brimmed with tears. Her voice was small and choked, not unlike Winona’s. “The rats.” Winona laughed outright, but the gesture faded into coughing. “Stay in Haven this time, Calypso. Gaze upon the mirror. But know this – some of what you see may come to pass, or none of it. That is the nature of the item. Do not accept the visions as your future or the mirror will destroy you.”
Calypso’s nodded, a few tears gliding down her cheek. Winona reaches to brush them away, but her hand fell limp before she could. Lady Winona of the Undying Lands, Niece of the Queen… was dead. The Ranger was silent, but if one looked closely, her shoulder’s shook as more tears poured down her porcelain cheeks. Should someone try to take the body or hold her, she would let them. All she could manage at the moment was to cry and cling the bag that stank of rats.
Out of respect, it was Sir Reginald that went to take the limp body of Winona from Calypso as she wept openly for the death of the Lady. Lady Winona had brought her back tot he place she needed to be and in doing so it brought about her own end. Rising up, holding the body, he whispered to Estelle to help him take the body to the medic tent, to prepare it for the funeral pyre, so that her spirit may be sent home. Estelle didn’t argue or falter, but led Sir Reginald away, leaving just Sir Wayne alone with the sobbing Ranger.
Wayne had stood and listened to all that had been said between the two. Calypso had been greatly conflicted, but he noticed her intent to not look at him. He was unsure of course as to why, for he had himself saved her from herself a couple of times in the past. Now, more than ever she needed him again, whether she could openly admit it or not. He reached for her, both hands and drew her up into his arms, and placed his hand behind her head. Slowly letting her nestle her head to his chest, as he strummed her back slowly with open hands.
It was no shame to cry. The best way to release all that pent up aggression and sorrow came from letting the tears flow. He knew this from when he overcame his own depression from the loss of Ambrosia all those years before. Now, perhaps it was time to let another into his heart.
“She was right you know, Calypso.”
He placed a finger under her chin, and tried to tip her head upward, so she could not avoid his gaze any further.
“Your future is here, should you accept it.” His blue eyes stared into hers. Would she see for herself that he spoke the truth?