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Chapter 1

Gate to another World

Between the twin pines, which remained though the grove behind it had vanished, a now familiar mist began to swirl. Coreolyn stared in awe until it began to dissipate. In the mist between the pines, he watched as a bundle formed upon the ground.. Walking over to inspect the bundle, he found himself swelling acknowledgment and gratitude. Taking off his robe, he dressed in the finely crafted leather pants and jerkin. While he had only seen elfin leather once before in his life, he recognized the delicate resilience of the craftsmanship.

He bent to pick up the exquisite compound bow. Inches before he grasped it, the pommel of the bow leaped into his hand. Coreolyn would have been startled but for a wave of strength that soared through him upon the bows touch. He sensed the support of Mielikki. As he touched the string, he felt the compassion of the vine that had communicated with him back in the druid's grove. He closed his eyes and breathed deep of previously unknown power - within himself.

Coreolyn held his hand just above the last item that remained upon the ground hoping to find similar power. The quiver remained motionless. Picking up the quiver, he noticed that the arrows were arranged into four unequal compartments. Each compartment contained a different type of arrow.

The first compartment contained 11 brown arrows of average design. Each compartment contained individual sleeves, to facilitate quick and accurate retrieval. The second compartment housed 11 bright orange arrows tipped with the hardest and lightest metal know in the realms-Mithril! Along the shaft, faint gray runes almost appeared to move under his inspecting eye. The third compartment housed one black arrow. The tip seemed as a shadow, and its feather's were as dark as the night. It seemed to jump out of his hand, but instead of falling to the ground it replaced itself in its appointed slot within the quiver. The single slot in the fourth and final compartment lay conspicuously empty. On the outside of the quiver were two pouches. One contained fine straps of leather for attaching arrow tips to shafts, the other contained feathers.

Being son to a powerful mage, he was not unaware or startled by the obvious power of the magic he now carried. Deep within his gold-elf heritage he felt a deepening sense of purpose. The gold-elf civilization may have left the North long ago, but its wisdom was not something to be doubted. Coreolyn raised the bow to the heavens in wordless tribute to the darkening clouds that could be seen through the space between the twin pines. His mind's eyes saw hundreds of noble gold elves looking down upon him.

Coreolyn turned to the Southwest with a new sense of purpose. Before he had even taken his first steps he saw he froze at the sight of the very stag that had dragged him into the forest so long ago. It stood motionless, less than 40 yards down the trail, staring directly at him.

Coreolyn, who preferred dagger and sword, was grateful for his proficiency with a bow. If he correctly understood the magic he now carried, the orange arrows would find their mark and blast the through the stag's skull. A sight he most dearly wished to relish.

As he notched the arrow and drew the string, he felt the presence of the vine within the bowstring. It cried out for him not to go through with this. The bowstring begged him to remember previous consequences of his ignorance. Coreolyn brushed the feelings aside, praying that he would not have to justify every shot he made to the bowstring.

The momentary delay in the release of the bow gave Coreolyn an extra moment to consider the great stag. The stag stared directly into Coreolyn's eye as it aimed along the shaft of the arrow. Coreolyn's eyes returned rage as he focused on a point between The stag's magnificent rack.

Coreolyn released the bowstring, but the bowstring held on to him a moment longer. The momentary distraction forced the arrow to land at the foot of the stag. The fiery explosion ripped the animal to pieces.

The bow screamed in agony,"You fool! Don't you realize what you've done! You've killed your beloved Ashley!"

Coreolyn threw the bow down in disgust,"This is ridiculous I had perfect aim! What!?"

Coreolyn looked at the blasted remains as they shaped changed into pieces of the druid he had loved for his last three lives.

"Oh, by the gods! NO!" Coreolyn screamed at the heavens.

The catastrophic death combined with the accumulation of many past lives could easily trigger Damos for Ashley. Nine months later when Ashley is reborn, at her birth age of 23, she might not remember the love they've shared. The bow leapt into Coreolyn's hand as he ran back down the path between the twin pines. He tried to re-enter ArchDruid's grove even though it was no longer visible on the other side..

Passing between the pines, a brilliant green flash and a strange piercing sound left him completely disoriented.

* * * * *

His felt his feet still running, but the soft earthen trail of the forest now felt hard beneath his feat. He tried to focus but his eyes filled with the intense brightness. He skidded to a stop, his pulse racing.

"Way to go half-breed," his bow telepathically admonished him,"where are we?"

Coreolyn, ignoring the bow, felt nearly blinded by the light. Even through squinting eyes, he could not make out his surroundings, only the cobblestones beneath his feet. He could only surmise that somehow he now stood in a city and that his vision was damaged in the gate.

To his left, he could smell horses and hay. The unmistakable sounds of contented horses comforted him. There appeared to be no immediate threat. Blindly walking in the direction of the sounds, he reached out until he found a wall. Carefully feeling his way along the wall, he came upon a large open door from which the sounds and smells emanated.

Entering the structure provided enough shade and allowed Coreolyn to see that he had entered a stable. He tried looking out the door, but the intensity of the light beyond it rendered his vision useless. Looking up he noticed a hay loft. Quickly Coreolyn climbed the ladder.

The loft looked like safe shelter for the time being. He went to the back and tried to peek through a crack of a door designed for loading hay. Still the bright light blocked his vision. Coreolyn crawled to the darkest corner of the loft and buried himself in hay.

The haunting memories of Ashley's scattered remains made his heart ache, and refused him the comfort of sleep. Over and over, he saw the stag he so much wanted to destroy explode into pieces. The pieces shapeshifting in death back into the form of his beloved Ashley.

"I tried to stop you," the bow murmured sadly into his mind.

"Just be quiet, please?" Coreolyn begged the bow as he contemplated suicide. "I'm not certain where we are but if I just ended my life I should find myself back in my birthspace."

"You ingrate!" The bow screamed contemptuously into his mind. "You receive gifts from the spirits of the gold elves, the blessing of Mielikki, and now you want to start over? Don't you think it's possible that you're supposed to be here no matter how strange it all seems?"

Coreolyn considered the implications and felt a ring of truth to the bow's thoughts. He carefully removed the hay from his body. He placed it so that he could quickly hide himself if necessary. Looking out the door he could see that night was approaching. He looked to the sky for the familiar blue luminescence of the waters that encased his home world of Bereth, and was astonished.

Innumerable tiny dots of light pierced the darkness. Even as he looked, more lights began to appear as the light of the day dissipated.

With the darkness, Coreolyn's vision began to improve. Not to far off in the distance Coreolyn could see an Inn. Listening carefully, he could here the sounds of merriment. A distinctive clanging sound could be heard coming from the building to the right of the Inn. Looking at the structure with his heat-vision, Coreolyn could easily make out the tell-tale heat colors of a blacksmith's hearth.

"After some sleep we will check out the Inn." Coreolyn thought. He Buried himself back in the hay and tried to sleep but his mind race with fear the entire night.

* * * * *

Coreolyn had no idea how long he had tossed and turned beneath the hay, when . A noise below made him freeze.

A feminine voice drift up from the stable area below him, "Morning!"

Coreolyn feared whom she might be speaking to, but was pleased that he understood the language. A horse neighed and snorted, and Coreolyn heard steps approach the excited horse.

"There, There, Shesandra. What's gotten into you this morning girl?"

The horse puffed and snorted, Coreolyn could sense that it was telling the unknown voice of his presence. Quietly he crept toward the edge of the loft and beheld a young elfish woman.

"Susan!" came a shout from the adjoining building, "I shall need the supplies from Stonehand's right away this morn."

"Right away Gliglen." the woman looked to the horse and then turned to the door, "I think you should see to Shesandra. Something's bothering her."

"I'll see to her shortly. Now off you go." the voice replied.

Coreolyn watched as the girl saddled another horse and left on her errands. He beheld the light in the doorway and squinted.

"Gliglen, whatever he is, "Coreolyn's bow telepathically spoke to him," is going to be suspicious if he sees to that horse. We best get out of here."

Coreolyn crawled down from the loft and exited the stables. The light from the strange burning disc low in the sky made him uncomfortable. It was so alien to hims. It was with some difficulty that he began to make his way toward the inn he had seen the night before.

He stared at the inn from across the street. Coreolyn hated cities. His thoughts wandered back to his forest back on his home-world of Bereth. He felt helpless in seeing to the needs of his forest.

"Leave something behind? "The bow chastised him.

Coreolyn looked at the bow in disgust. "I did fine thinking for myself before you came along! What in the nine hell's is your name anyway?"

"Firien!" the bow replied in anger, "If your so good at thinking, how did you end up killing Ashley and end up here?"

Coreolyn sat in a long silence in the morning shadows outside of the stable.

"I'd like to set a ground rule, Firien." Coreolyn looked to the bow and spoke aloud, "You'll stay out of my hand and out of my mind when other's are around."

"But!" The bow tried to object but was cut off.

"Except when my life is imperil or I feel need for your services, and that's final!" Coreolyn's voice carried a bit louder than he wished and he looked about. He still felt unobserved as he set the bow on his shoulder. Firien stayed in place quietly.

He looked back to the inn across the street. It was time.

* * * * *

Coreolyn pulled up his green cape and pinned it at his neck to form a hood about his head. Twisting his belt a half turn positioned his sword, a rare falchion, to the his rear. The twist also positioned his pouches of herbs and darts to the ready. Coreolyn released a traveling knot on the rarely used purse tied to his belt, and began to truly appreciate the elfin leather vest and breeches. The armor's light weight made them extremely comfortable. He made a last check on the daggers sheathed in his boots, repositioned his bow and quiver, and headed into the inn.

Opening the door was almost as disorienting to him as the gate he had traveled through the day before. Being more attuned to the life of forests on another planet, Coreolyn struggled to keep his bearings. He avoided surveying the room, and hastened to find a safe place to sit. He found what he was looking for in a front corner of the bar. The light from the fire place shadowed the corner table. Trying not to run, Coreolyn made for the table. His exquisite compound bow, Firien, began to object as the half-elf began to remove it from his shoulder so he could sit.

"I must remain in contact with your body!", Firien protested telepathically.

"My rules!" Coreolyn thought to the bow as he placed it over the back of his chair.

The bow jumped back into Coreolyn's hand as he released it. "I never agreed..."

"Shut up and be still!", Coreolyn shouted aloud, still unpracticed at communicating with the bow. If anyone was looking, it appeared as if he yelled at the chair before he seated himself.

Coreolyn surveyed the room. On the floor a huge orc-like creature lay passed out. At a table, near the door, a golden red-haired beauty conversed with what appeared to be the barkeep. In the far corner, three suspicious figures gathered at a table. At the bar, stood a several warrior's all intent upon their Ale. Two musicians sat at the bar, if Coreolyn guessed correctly at the contents of the cases next to them. Near the fire, a young woman studied her staff. He tried to discern if she was preparing a spell as she was seemingly in a trance, but decided she was not. Coreolyn was startled by a noise on the bench against the wall near him. A patron that apparently had over indulged snored soundly there.

He felt as safe as he ever would in a city. His head spun with questions, his stomach turned with grief.

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