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Atop one of many rolling hills, in a chasm of creation apart from our own, sat an elf looking to be about 40 years of age. Well, he was part elf, part man. This, in itself, was not as odd as seeing children at play. With a few rare exceptions, eternal life on Bereth denied most everyone their childhood. They remembered being children, through thoughts that were like remembered dreams that they refer to as dremens, but they had no proof they actually had lived it. Coreolyn, the half-elf upon the hill, and pondered his childhood memories. Earlier, that very day, he had been reborn after having died, nine months earlier. He recalled nothing of his past lives. His father had him read both the Olequetta and the Kalarien Reiteration upon his waking.
Coreolyn smiled at the waters that were the sky. They shimmered a rich turquoise and gave a blue glow to the night. He loved looking upon the farms spread over the rolling hills and the stands of tree's that separated them. Though he saw the heat of night creatures foraging in the dark, he was serene. He felt in tune with the stillness of a Berethian night. He felt more akin to these night creatures, than those of during the day when the waters had glowed a bright golden-green, and Bereth was oppressively 'alive'.
While he enjoyed the serenity of the night he tried to puzzle out the man that felt as a father to him. There was a cold stubbornness about the man. Though Coreolyn had tried to get more information from him he would always simply say, "You won't listen to me, read those, you're going just run off anyway."
The half-elf sighed with frustration into the night.
What Coreolyn didn't know, was that very shortly, the stillness of the night would be broken for him and all of Bereth forever more.
* * * * * *
On the other side of Bereth, over 1000 miles away on a small island, another soul peered into the water-lit night. Generay Kalarien watched as her father, the king, was slain in the field of battle outside their family castle.
How many lives we've wasted in this battle. She thought to herself. She had died in this war many times herself. It had been going on for over 150 years. Only this time, they had suffered too many losses at one time. She had just returned from the last cavalry charge. One of three survivors.
They would not be able to hold onto the fortress long enough for reinforcements to be reborn. The birthspots and the rule of the Kalarien monarchy was falling. With the fall of the family birth spots they would return from death to the torturous whims of the Black Priest.
She turned to the royal mage Barso the ever-old. Barso was one of the only a handful of wizards whose powers came naturally on Bereth. Generay could see in his tired eyes a promise that he would endeavor to recover the family birthspots, and the sadness that the battle had gone beyond his power.
"You need not say anymore. Go now, gather your pupils and make good an escape. Gather the peoples when they return, and free Castle Kalarien with as much haste as is safe."
She turned to look back out the window as a fierce dark armored warrior laughed at the head of her father in his hands.
Barso put a weak hand upon her armored shoulder, "Are you not coming with me?"
Generay returned a grim smile, "You know your magic for this life is used, you will be needed to gather and safely protect the reborn before you can take the nine month journey through Damos and regain your powers. Besides, I will not have that one alive while my family journey's through Damos."
Generay pointed at the dark warrior know to all Berethian's as Malik. Malik shook her father's head by the hair as he held it out toward the remaining soldier's on the castles fortified walls.
"But if you gather the reborn, I can start my journey today." Barso's eye's were full of sadness and lacked conviction.
"Witnesses will survive to tell the tale of my father's fall this day, but they have seen him fall too many times to believe in the power of our rule. I would rather the last the people see of our rule, be my final charge. I must make them remember the true heart of our rule." She walked away from Barso with conviction without looking back.
A few minutes later Barso watched as she was helped upon her tired war-horse. She leaned forward and spoke into the horses ear and the horse raised its head with a new found energy and purpose, and stood proud in the courtyard.
Generay yelled some orders to the remaining soldiery who scattered quickly in the direction of the castle entrance to the caverns that twisted for miles below. Everyone knew the many ways into the maze.
It galled Barso to realize that the denizens of the underdark were favorable to the evil that lay outside the front gate, pounding away with a battering ram.
Quite shortly the courtyard was clear and Generay totted her horse directly across the court yard from the besieged gate. She started galloping forward and yelled, "tele den na men teir ay!"
The magic enchantment that held the door closed was released and the doors opened leaving dozens of men and foul creatures to fall on their face when the battering ram failed to connect with the door.
Saerlon, Generay's proud war-horse beneath the knight leapt over the enemy and trampled several as it charged bravely toward Malik a hundred yards behind the enemy line. Barso could not help but watch. Axes, swords, clubs, maces pelted her and her mount from all sides. Saerlon screamed a horses scream and continued to drive through the press of bodies all about the horse. All the while men, orcs, and goblins tried to claim the glory of the last Kalarien kill.
All the while Generay kept her great sword held high and forward in the direction of Malik. Her armor was twisted and bent and her progress began to slow. Barso knew somewhere, somehow the Black Priest was watching and savoring fait accompli . Barso shuddered at the tortures that would await Generay upon rebirth.
As arrows and blades sliced at both warrior and mount across the battlefield, a rage unknown to the ever-old mage grew. Barso's reach out with his hands and shot out green rays of energy through his fingertips to a spot a few long yards in front of Saerlon. The horse, blinded with pain did not move to avoid it. Both Saerlon and Generay disappeared into the magical green field as it faded quickly to a swirling mist.
Barso's tired eye's rolled, and a faint smile was seen upon his face as his body deteriorated to dust and blew away.
* * * * * *
Coreolyn's eyes followed an owl as it swooped down to grab a mouse. Just as the deadly talons of the owl extended, a brilliant green light exploded soundlessly right where the mouse would have been most vulnerable.
The silence broke like glass, cutting through the still of the Berethian night.
To Coreolyn's dismay, a large war-horse headed in his direction. Only a stones throw away, Coreolyn made out the embattled shapes of men and orcs flailing away at the horse's heavily armored rider. Coreolyn only needed to see the orc's to be motivated to action. But in the few seconds it took him to string his bow and bring it to the ready, the horse went down. The rider rolled over the horses head and sprawled onto the ground.
Coreolyn put his bow down and pulled out his bastard sword. This will have been a short life, he thought to himself as he headed down the hill to engage in battle. As he approached, he watched in awe as the armored knight arose with bodies draped about it. The knight twisted with sword in still hand. Many of the bodies moved back to encircle the lone victim. Oblivious to Coreolyn's approach, they remained intent upon the kill.
The knight fought on impossibly, helm dented to the point that the knight most surely must have been blinded. The armor plates so dented and twisted so that each hacking thrust must surely have been painful. Yet still, the knight pressed on, killing with each heavy swing.
Coreolyn surprised one Orc from behind so quickly that it never had time to sound an alert. Coreolyn looked up from his kill to see that all of the knights enemies had been dispatched, and it was now headed in his direction.
A muffled yet undeniably feminine voice behind the bloody dented helm said, "Now you die!"
With blinding speed the perilous sword cut into Coreolyn's unprotected shoulder. He fell back holding his shoulder, helpless as a mouse, as the sword raised again. This time for a killing blow.
Whether it was the fate of the gods or Generay's fatigue, is a question that would haunt Coreolyn for lifetimes, but the knight simply fell over backwards, and failed to show any signs of life.
Once again, the Berethian night was still, and somewhere on a battlefield in front of the far away Castle Kalarien, a mouse scampered away in confusion and terror.
Like a small child in shock Coreolyn wandered about the battlefield holding his wounded shoulder. Images of the battle flew past him. He remembered as he aimed and fired the bow as he walked past the orc warrior he had killed. How did he know how to use the bow? He dropped to his knees crying. His mind raced through childhood dremans. He saw his father and brother teaching him to hunt. He remembered his first kill. Yet he knew it had never happened.
This happened. The arrow protruding up through the victims chest was evidence he could not deny. Coreolyn's hearing began to returned and he realized the horse had been screaming in pain the whole time. His tear-filled eyes looked into the horses and he saw agony. The horse seemed to be staring off at the fallen knight. Turning to look at the knight he noticed a blue glow from the sword in the knights hand. The sword levitated and drifted smoothly across the battlefield to stand upright before a confused and bewildered Coreolyn. The war horse shriek out. Looking back into the war-horses eyes he felt the realization that the horse had caused the magic. The horse seemed to know Coreolyn himself!. He also knew what Saerlon wanted him to do.
He once again faced the blade and it deftly moved. The blade pirouetted and pointed to the ground as if it was being held by an unseen king and imploring him to kneel. Coreolyn knelt and bowed his head down, the blade then knighted his shoulders. Standing resolutely he took the blades pommel and ended Saleron's agony. As the last light of life went out of Saerlon, Coreolyn felt a wave of contentment and a sudden bolt of fear race through him.
Coreolyn went directly to the fallen knight with a sense of panic. He couldn't comprehend his own sense of urgency to help the knight that had just tried to kill him. The badly damaged armor and the sheer wait of the knight made removing the armor difficult. It wasn't until he removed the codpiece he realized the knight was a woman. He knew the blade and the horse knew him. His logic told him he should know her as well, but he felt no familiarity. He gathered cloth from the dead on the battlefield to bind her wounds. He knew she would need more attention.
He went to the nearest stand of tree's and hacked down some branches to make a suitable litter. Progress was slow. His own pain had him at the point of exhaustion as he dragged the litter toward his birthspot at his father's estate. Coreolyn saw through blurry eyes as the waters of the sky began to turn into its daylight golden-green. He thought he heard shouts in the distance as he fell down to the dirt exhausted and drained. Just before he lost consciousness he recalled The Reiteration. It is dawn. He thought with a smile to himself.
* * * * * *
In Castle Kalerian the celebration was still on-going as the dawn grew upon the waters of the sky. Malik seated himself upon the throne and laughed as his officers shouted in admiration of him.
"Enough!" Malik shouted with a smile. The hall silenced immediately but for the labored breathing of the victors. "
"We have castle Kalarien!" Shouts and rhythmic pounding filled the hall. Malik lifted his hand and again immediate silence followed.
"Now we can begin!" The officers grumbled in consternation. Malik laughed, "Yes begin, for I see a future with us able to conquer all the birthspots of any that would stop us from living life as we see fit. Enjoying the bloodlust's and pain that life should never end without!"
Once again shouts and pounding filled the hall. The officers parted as Malik walk through them and out the front entrance to the hall. An armed escort and General Gnatz , goblin of considerable girth, wadded through to talk to Malik.
"I see no scalp general. Did you get the girl?"
"No scalp." Gnatz averted his eyes.
"You idiots." Malik snorted while smiling at the soldiery as he toured the castle.
"Seers say that Barso and Saerlon dead."
"I felt they're passing too.. All magic on Bereth is diminished... Have you anything else to report General or do I need to endure you telling me the obvious forever!"
"General is confused." Gnatz scratched his head with a huge claw.
Malik stopped and looked threateningly at Gnatz.
The General looked back at Malik with venom, "If hold all birthspots, what left to kill?"
Malik laughed loudly and slapped the General, "Have no worries General, you have the word of Drelagath. That you will still have all that you seek once his bidding is done."
Gnatz shivered at the mention of the Black Priests name. He had seen the dragon itself during a religious ceremony he was asked to attend. That was the night Drelagath revealed the new magic. A magic where the priest could duplicate anything that was alive. By the ability to populate, the followers of Azaleas would control Bereth forever. Even Gnatz knew who was the most powerful on Bereth.
The goblin mumbled and slobbered as he turned and walked away.
* * * * * *
[Still incomplete transition to journey to The tower Ballais]
Generay controlled the canoe from the stern as they navigated through the muted green glowing waters of the large inland lake. She sighted on the large tower and noticed for the first time the subtle broadness of Coreolyn's shoulders. With each powerful stroke Coreolyn pulled, Generay could see better the human attributes of his muscular shoulders. Generay put aside her predisposition for human companionship, and remembered an elfish youth from her past as she rejoined Coreolyn's strokes. It had been so many lives back, she could not even remember the scoundrel's name. While part of her mind remained fixed on navigating the canoe, the other drifted back to recall that happy memory.
Her elfish lover had been a wandering minstrel that had shown himself worthy of entertaining at a Gala Banquet at the Kalerian Court. It was several years after the Battle of Tal, where both the Fire Paladin and the Black Priest, had been vanquished. The peace after that battle had been long. It was now clear to Generay that during the long peace, the Black Priest had been making arduous and diabolical preparations for the recent fall of Castle Kalerian. A smiling memory of those days tugged at her lips, and were succumbed by reliving the pain of the brutal memory.
Coreolyn grew puzzled as the tower on the far shore seemed to be getting more starboard without any corrective strokes from the stern of the canoe.
He rested his paddle across his lap and struggled to gasp, "Are we changing course?"
Generay had not realized how taxing the paddling must have been on Coreolyn. Coreolyn turned to look at her. In his exhaustion, his pale skin flushed with a bright red. She winced at the pathetic nature of Coreolyn's apparent fragility. Then felt guilt for dragging him into her mess.
Coreolyn regained enough of his wind to interject, "What are you doing back there?"
Generay's face scowled, "I am resting as are you!"
Coreolyn's eye's narrowed, "Next time tell me when you're going to rest. We could have been drifting in the direction of the tower this whole time."
"Oh really?" Generay mocked with sarcasm.
Coreolyn turned back in disgust, and continued paddling.
Generay corrected course using her paddle as a rudder, slowing their progress greatly. She gave a bitter smile when Coreolyn turned and glared at her. His face, previously red from exhaustion, now reddened with frustration. He returned to his work. His pace was more than double it's previously exhaustive pace.
Joining in the furious pace for many long hard strokes, Generay came to the realization that they would land on the shore very shortly - exhausted and out of breath.
Coreolyn spun on his seat shaking the boat precariously and faced her.
"We have not time for such foolishness. While you may not have care for when you will die next, I have not that luxury."
Coreolyn panted as he considered her words and appeared to calm as he considered her situation.
"Have we a need to fear Tower Ballais?" He asked.
In the awkward silence that ensued they both heard the faint sounds of a balliset and the haunting overtones of of a beautifully feminine voice emanating from the far shore. Generay shook her head.
"We need not fear," she said looking into the shadows of the distant tower. " However, it would be ill mannered of us to arrive exhausted."
The sad expression upon Generay's face puzzled Coreolyn, as he turned carefully about and continued paddling once again.
The sound of the music mesmerized both shipmates. It seemed to feed strength into thier muscles and resolve. They did not feel renewed vigor, rather the song seemed to magnify their inherant abilities.
Coreolyn jumped out of the canoe with delicate agility. The music stopped as his boots landed upon the smooth stones beneath the water. Generay shooed him in the direction of the trees along the shore when he turned and looked at her questioningly. The canoe was pulled onto shore and Generay jumped out.
Coreolyn froze and whispered excitedly, "Wait! Look!"
Following his pointed finger Generay made out two distintive blue glowing spheres deep in the shadows of the the surrounding trees.
"Follow them." Generay said as she pulled her pack from the bottom of the canoe. She was already fading into the shadows of the trees by the time Coreolyn had finished beaching the canoe and shouldering his accoutterments, but the mysterious glows remained easy to track.
Coreolyn nearly stumbled over Generay as he exited thick brush and entered a clearing. The smooth uniformity of the grass in the clearing was a stark contrast to the wildness of the brush and surrounding forest. Although surrounded by apparently chaotic low stone walls, the clearing seemed to speak of a sense of order. The glow that Coreolyn had been following disappeared when it went over the wall.
"I thought we had become separated, " Coreolyn said still staring at the surrounding clearing.
Generay appeared deep in thought and did not respond.
"Well? Do we go over?"
Without any answering gesture she stepped up and over the stone wall, disapearring just as the glow had.
Coreolyn shrugged to no one just before crawling over the wall himself.
His feet reached out to find the ground he could not see. One of the glowing blue globes came out of the sheer darkness and hovered about him, urging him to follow. Even in the blue light, Coreolyn still could not see upon what he stepped. Each step upon firm purchase made him trust the globe a little more. In the distance he began to see the other globe as it stood still above Generays head. A look of utter calm was upon her calm face as if bathing in the light. Coreolyn in turn became entranced with Generay's face, and before new it he was sitting across from her legs crossed beneath him mezmerized by the apparent peace within her person.
Generay openned her eyes. They flashed with knowlege and insight. Coreolyn began to sense the presence of magic as the globes began to dance around them. At an ever increasing pace the globes played about them, until the light of the globes blurred to trails about each other. Coreolyn began to feel a panic as he sensed the teleporting power of the magic, but looking into the light of Generays eyes, he grew intrigued. He calmed and awaited the magics outcome.
Slowly the blue colored trails began to remain, and cease to chase after the spheres. Other colors began to fill the streaks. Within moments a the day appeared bright about them, yet it hurt not their eyes. Birds and butterfly's dances about the carefully sculpted garden. Rising above the garden was the tower Ballais. Aproaching them came a young woman dressed in white. Her youthfull innoccence gave her an angelic look as the her light gown fluttered in a gentle breeze, but as she approach one could see a smile that tried to drive away pain, and eye's that held only the beauty of sadness.
Generay jumped up with excited glee, "Tel!".
The woman held out her arms to Generay and recieved her with a warm embrace, "Gen. It's so good to see you again."
Coreolyn stood, eye's darting, not trusting the apparent peacefullness of the garden.
Tel kissed Generay and looked toward Coreolyn and then back to Generay,"He has the look of damos."
Generay nodded her assent and released her embrace. Tel approached Coreoyln, his eyes still darting about the garden but fully aware of her approach.
"Coreolyn Elginor, though you know me not, I know you well enough to not bother to tell you that you are safe in Ballias, I also know that you would trust me enough to prove that it is so. It always was your weakness."
Coreolyn eyed Tel more closely and knew that she was right, he did trust her enough to let her prove his safety.
"Who are you?" He said with deliberate defensiveness.
Generay giggled as Tel looked back at her and rolled her eyes.
" I have been called many names, of late I have been called The Eliminal Telisandryal. Few are they that I allow to meet me, fewer are they that see me more than once before they find damos. You, my dear Coreolyn are an exception and have been a frequent visitor to tower Ballias. It gives me great joy that you shall have to learn me once again. You can call me Tel, for with you and Generay I have never let formalities get between us."
Generay broke out laughing quickly put her hand to her mouth to stiffle the outburst. Coreolyn tried to read the quick comunication that darted between Generay's and Tel's eyes as the both lost control of their laughter. He became angry in his confusion and demanded and answer to his apparent need for embarrasment.
Tel calmed herself and faced Coreolyn, "Tis not embarrasement you should feel, just possibly a little frustration, but come let us eat together and tell me what goes on within Bereth. It has been long since I have had a visitor."
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