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Chapter 4


He awoke at a table in an Inn. He smelled bad, even for a half-elf woodsman. He shuddered. His love was dead by his own hand. He did not know that his druidic lover had shapechanged into the Great Stag that had haunted him though so many lives. His bow had tried to stop him, but to no avail. Now he was where a bright disc burned in the day sky, and a colorful mosaic of tiny lights filled a dark dome in the night.

Strangers came and went around him. He must have been asleep for hours.

" 'Bout time you woke. If I'm any judge of the heat coming through that door, I'd say it's several hours since the light of day."

For a moment Coreolyn thought it might be a barmaid speaking to him. He looked around the bar.

"More strangers. How does one keep up with life in the city?" He thought to himself.

"Like I said, 'bout time you were conscious."

Coreolyn realized it was Firien, his intelligent bow.

The bow was given to him moments before killing the Great Stag that was Ashlyn just two days passed. He was still unaccustomed to the bows mental presence.

"Why didn't you wake me?" Coreolyn thought to Firien.

"Well, to quote yourself," Firien's tone was that of a woman's scorn, "Your life was not imperil and you did not require my services."

Coreolyn left the inn and squinted from the light. Looking up, he could only see the burning disk muffled behind an overcast sky. The light it gave off felt familiar. It comforted him as it was more as the daylight of his home.

"Wherever that is. " He thought to himself.

"I like the light too." Firien responded It was the first kind thing the bow had ever said to him.

Coreolyn pulled out his seeking stone and the map the in keeper had given him. He placed the map on the ground, and pinned the corners of the map down with small stones. He placed his stone on the spot marked, Monfort, where the inn-keeper had said he was. The stone spun in the direction the inkeeper had indicated the forest lay.

He re-oriented the map and held the stone as he studied the terrain about him. None of the roads went in the right direction. He found the mixed smells of smoke, grease, and ale that wafted from his clothing offensive. As he replaced the map and stone, he pictured a bath in a quiet stream. As he walked in the rolling grassy hills that surrounded Monfort, it felt like the first thing he had done right in along time.

"Where are we headed?" Firien asked..

Coreolyn considered the bow given to him by the spirits of an ancient elven tribe.

The elven spirits had bestowed three gifts to Coreolyn upon his acceptance of a great quest. Originally, Firien was a gift to an ancient Elven King. Its Exquisite craftsmanship spoke of day's when the magic of faeri still dominated the land. The second gift was a magic quiver fashioned by a great elven mage. In the quiver, only six magic arrows remained. One arrow appeared as a black shadow. The third gift was the armor of a great elvish warrior from before the Great Retreat. The armors light weight, exceptional construction, and it's ability to blend with shadows was a woodsman's dream.

Coreolyn was uncertain if this was the quest he had accepted, but he understood the importance of Firien's connection to his past. Their shared history.

As he walked the rolling hills, he feared losing that connection. Until now, she only seemed to add to his troubles. Now he thought differently.

"We are headed home." He replied.

They walked on in quiet silence, content beneath the overcast sky. When they came to the road that lead west to Harwellton, Coreolyn again checked the map.

"If we take the roads we will be going around the forest." Coreolyn spoke aloud to Firien, "If we go straight south we should see the forest by late tomorrow." Coreolyn mumbled an arcane phrase and re-oriented the stone's direction to that of the map.

"We don't like roads." Firien replied with mental sarcasm.

"No, we don't." Coreolyn aggreed as he stepped into the waist high golden grasses.

* * * * *

Barun entered the office a little worse for the wear, but greatful that his arms had finally been released.

"Greetings from Fyntarda." Barun faked his role based upon the emmisaries he had seen enter Paliphany's chambers. His knowlege of protocol in such a situation ended as the door closed behind him.

"Queen Paliphany commands that a general report to her immediately."

The General was amused by the request and smiled to the Duke, "Shall we see what's happenning in Fyntarda?"

The Duke shuffled uncomfortably. The relationship between Fyntarda and Shaylont was often strained by Paliphany's lack of respect for the Duke's authority in the region. He wanted no audience around when he spoke with her. He considered just sending the general off to Fyntarda and being done with it, but the unusual messenger and the importance of the message demanded his attention.

"General will you and the messenger wait in the hallway? I will visit Paliphony myself personally."

Tarrant and Brarun left the Duke alone in the office. The General looked to Captain Marten who he knew would be waiting outside the door.

"See that the emisary recieves whatever he requires."

"Yes Sir." Ewell marked the General's smugness with disdain. He turned to leave with the flynd in tow when the general's voice stopped him.

"Captain Marten?"

Ewell stopped but continued facing toward the door, "Yes sir?"

"What will you do when your men are outflanked and out numbered?"

Ewell turned, confused by the out of place question. He failed to reply.

"You seem to have forgotten how to salute recently." The general eyed the young officer coldly. "Wouldn't do to have such a fine officer of the Shaylont Arms setting such a bad example now would it?"

"Yes, sir." Ewell saluted, his confusion evident. Was that a reprimand or a concession? Time would soon tell, Ewell could feel it.Lost in thought he was surprised when the flynd messenger spoke.

"I need nothing, just show me to the gate." Barun knew it was now or never, if the man in the office was going to contact the queen at that moment.

"What of the Griffon?"

"Feed him and release him. He knows where to return." Barun had no idea if that was true or not. He didn't care. "I have been given a mission to go on foot from here into the woods." He was in it deep now so he continued the deception, " The message I carried was a just coincidence." Barun feigned an air of indifference. He was starting to like his new role.

* * * * *

Paliphany was back in her study. Going through other tome's of creation. In one she had come accross ancient spiritual accounts of Bereth.

...The thatise marveled at the inhabitants of Bereth, a land that saw death but knew they would be born again after a time ....

The more Paliphony read the more she grew convinced that she could succeed in escaping the confines of Ilfrean through the inhabition of Coreolyns body.

A Gray cloud formed in her room. The Duke in his throne appeard before Paliphany.

"How dare you interupt my work!" Paliphany screemed in rage. She hated the Duke's magical throne. Somehow the magic of the throne was not blocked by her wards that prohibited such intrusions to Fyntarda.

"How dare you request one of my General's without asking me." The Dukes voice was full of anger.

A disarming smile lit Paliphany's face, and her eye's sparkled like the hilt's of jeweled daggers."Oh dear me, did I forget to ask you Dukey?" Her tones became catlike." I need information that you can't give me. Beside's it is the third day of a new moon. You're so predictatble. I knew you'd be making your rounds. " The necromancer rose from her studies, strutted to the front of her desk, and leaned against it for support.

"Then my presence is not an interuption." The duke retorted with bitterness.

" Very clever Dukey! By the way, " Paliphany smiled coyly leaned forward and threw back her hair, "How's your wife?"

The duke tried to ride through the pain. He tired of this game she played with him for the last three years. He had survived the political turmoil that arose from marrying such a strikingly beautiful young maiden so soon after his first wife's demise. In time, the marriage to Tiana helped to strengthen his image. Tiana came from a powerful rival family. Her youthful energy and political savy had turned many potential disaster's into harmless laughter. The duke truely loved her.

Tiana was kidnapped and brought to Fyntarda where Paliphony had Tiana executed by poison and animated her corpse. In her mysterious absence the duke had ordered most of his forces out to search for her. Paliphany had left Tiana's body in pristine condition and set a ring of healing upon its finger to keep it that way. Adding a spell of clairaudience into the corpse's animation allowed Paliphony to listen in to the zombie's surroundings.

Tiana's body was found wandering by the Camillo river and returned to the Duke. Many believed she had been assaulted during her absence and thus was in a state of stupified shock. The duke hid her away in their bedroom. He blamed the thieve's band called. The Band of Joy, for her kidnapping and claimed he had paid a high ransom for her return.

Grief stricken, the duke could not destroy the animated corpse of his beautiful Tiana.

"Isn't it nice to have a woman that does everything you ask?" Paliphany cooed. She loved watching the duke as he squirmmed. Through clairaudience with the zombie she knew Tiana had become a toy to the duke's extravagant hungers.

Though the game had been gowing on for years, it still gave Paliphany control over him. Too often, she had mocked the sounds he made in the heat of passion. The Duke felt impotent to himself and the bitch Queen.

"You Dukie, seem to forget that you rule by my convenience." Paliphany lay herself upon the table facing the duke. Resting her chin on her dangerous hand she continued with nonchalance. " I need supplies and hate the constant irritants of the rabble. That's what you are for, remember?" Her heels bounced behind her playfully. "I could easily reduce your precious Shaylont to rubble, if it ceases to be a convience."

"Your messenger failed to await permission to land when he arrived at Nogosh, the men were forced to subdue him." The duke seemed more pleased than apologetic.

"Oh?" Paliphany knew something was wrong, she really didn't care if her messenger's followed Nogosh protocol or not, but she could not picture one of her elite messenger's being subdued. She had no desire to expose her confusion to the duke. She made a mental note to look into the matter. "I hope," she said sarcastically "it did not kill to many of your precious soldiers?"

"No." The duke was obviously pleased with his discovery. It was apparent that Paliphany was unaware of the strange messenger's identity. He changed the subject quickly. Sensing that he had an edge, he tried to gain as much information as he could from the encounter. "Why must I send a valuble officer here. Why cannot he answer your questions through a projection, or messages."

Something was definately wrong here. Paliphany was greatful for the change of subject. With a pout and a sigh she said, "No. I need to impress an image into his mind, I cannot do that through my scrying."

"What image?" He inquired further, pleased to learn another limitation to Paliphany's powers.

"A town, not from your domain." Paliphany realised she had better clarify her request, " I cannot place it. I need someone that has travelled many lands. I assume that would be one of your older boys"

Duke Brekege scowled knowing he would learn no more. He considered the ramifications of sending General Springs, and appointing Captian Marten in charge during his absence. The more he thought about it the more he liked the idea.

"I'll have General Springs here late tommorro."

Paliphany giggled and sprang to her feet upon the table. Stretching her lithe body with her hands behind her head, made it clear she was through with this audience, "I knew you'd understand Dukie. Say hi to your wife for me, will you dear?" Paliphany's evil laugh muffled into the smoke of the Duke's exit.

As soon as she was gone she screamed at the door, "Gaurd! Bring me the Aerie caretaker!"

* * * * *

Chapter 6

The wonder of Stars

As the sun dipped under the clouds in the east, it's warming rays filled the sky with all the hues that ranged from magenta to deep blue. Coreolyn paused hearing the cry of loons in the distance.

"I don't recall a lake on the map, Firen." Coreolyn stopped walking. Startled by the sound of his voice as they broke the hours of wordless travel.

"You are a young half-elf ranger. Not a human inn-patron. Have you forgotten?" Firen replied in Coreolyn's mind.

Coreolyn looked about the hills that outlined the grassy glen he stood in. He marveled once again at the colors of the sky between two of the encircling hills. The crickets chirped loudly. An eagle's cry of authority filled with him recognition.

The insanity of recent events seemed to dissapate with the summer breeze.

Coreolyn could not remember if he had eaten at the inn or not, the trauma of recent events blending everything into a blur. It did not matter he wasn't hungry, but he did require rest. He set firen and the quiver down tossing his pouches and belt atop them. He unpinned the broach that held his cape about his neck. With a flip of his wrists the cape unfolded to rest upon the tall yet sturdy grasses. With a smile on his face he dove onto the cape as a child dives into a feather bed. The sturdy grasses gave way gentle and Corelolyn as he rolled onto his back. He stared up from his cradled in the grass and marvelled at the clouds above him, fading and shifting, in dusks quiescent tones. The last he heard was the howl of a wolf as he fell asleep.

* * * * *

Firen was furious, "How dare he throw me to the side, and toss his belt on me like just another piece of equipment!" She felt the distance between her pommel and Coreolyn's hand and new she would not be able to tie the engery together to create motion.

Firen listened to the wolf howl and paid attention as other wolves joined in the song. She surmized it was not a hunting party, in fact they sounded quite well fed. "Call upon a familiar, " Firien tried in vain to communicate. She hated being alone. "It would do us well to understand the nature of this place."

Hours passed and a light rain began to fall. Coreolyn awoke and started to grab for the falchion in his belt. Firien timed the moment his hand came near and leaped into his hand. Coreolyn tried to drop the bow but it stuck to his hand like glue. He stood and shook his hand wildly.

"Firien let go!" Coreolyn raged.

"What is it? What is happenning?" Firien plead with fear in her tone.

Coreolyn realised the bow could feel the rain and quit shaking his hand, "I don't know."

"Are we in Quintanyr?" Firien asked with awe. She was pictured the place on Bereth where water fell from above. Within Quintanyr's magesty, the presence of Gold Elves in a perpetual state of Damos were rumored to live.

" I don't think so. The water's do not glow." Coreolyn calmed, beginning to absorb the sensation of water falling from the sky.

It was definately not like Quintanyr. He remembered awaking from Damos three lives ago, and journeying to the fabled place. He tried to walk through the luminesent waters of Quintanyr and was crushed to death. Coreyolyn did not mind at the time. It was an easier way to return to his birthplace anyway. Only the mystery bothered him. The only recollection he had of the sensation of Damos was a wonderful joy and peace. Quintanyr was definately related to the sensation, but it seemed it would remain a mystery to all but the gold elves.

The rain started to fall heavy upon him forcing him to blink quickly. He started to laugh loudly.

"What!? What are you laughing at?" Firien questioned.

"This water it's funny!"

Coreolyn continued laughing as he danced with the bow in the falling waters. Firien enjoyed the dance.

The dance stopped abrubtly when more than a dozen figures sprang up from the surrounding grasses to encircle him. Coreolyn's surprise left him completely defensless, He was baffled that he could have been surrounded without him being aware. His sensitive elfin ears, unaccustomed to the sound of the falling rain, appeared to have failed him.

"Have no fear, Coreolyn Elginor." Spoke one of diminuative shadows. "We've been sent to bring you before Fayryn and Belathil, the Spirit King and his chosen Queen."

Coreolyn shifted to a more defensive posture saying nothing. He studied the shadows. They appeared elfin, but yet they could not be seen clearly. He began to find the rain less and less enjoyable.

"We are to see to your comfort on the journey, that few are seldom allowed to travel. It is a great honor." The shadow, from which the soft feminine voice came, moved slowly. It seemed to take great care to move in a non-threatening fashion, yet, it seemed to be drawing a weapon.

"Fay Nigh" Came the voice in the form of a command.

Coreolyn went into a crouch and drew his falchion in one swift flowing gesture, as the light of the shadows sword cut through the rain and darkness with brilliant clarity. Yet the shadows remained shadows. They had a more defined elfin figure, yet still, they were insubstantial.

"We are spirits of Quintanyr a place with which you are familiar?"

"Quintanyr!" Coreolyn felt stunned. " Then I am on Bereth, but where on Bereth?" Many held the spirits of Quintanyr to be a myth, and within the last few days he had recieved a gift from them and now a visitation!

"All will be answered by the King. Will you come with a peacably?" The soft voice hinted of sarcasm, and exposed no fear.

Coreolyn, slowly sheathed his weapon, poised in case it was a ploy. "Quintanyr!" Coreolyn thought to himself. Nothing but Firien had even resembled Bereth in this world until now.

"I would be honored, though I confess I do not know this King or Queen. Is it far?"

"We are here."

Suddenly Coreolyn found himself in a daylit forest. Everywhere he looked was life, Pixes & Driads, Sprites, leprechauns, and many more that no one will ever know the names for. All danced about in an enjoyable scene of chaos, seemingly oblivious to his presence.

A dog-like creature, with a turtles head snapped a butterfly that giggled as it flew out of reach. The butterfly came to rest upon Coreolyns shoulder and the dog like creature poised to leap upon it.

"Whoa! wait! I didn't do anything!" Coreolyn said trying not to appear too brusque. Nothing about the place seemed threatening. Everything he saw was a separate amusement.

"Coreolyn?" The creature squited it's reptilian eyes, swiveling it's head side to side as if to make sure of his eyesight. "Where have you been?"

A dragon fly flew straight for the turtle-dogs head and gave a little sneeze as it collided into the turtle's snout. The creature then bounded off chasing the dragon fly.

"Silly Amos, he can't catch anyone." , the butterfly spoke from Coreolyn's shoulder. "What shall we play today Coreolyn?"

Wide astonished eye's filled Coreolyn's face. "How?.."

"Shh, there coming..." the butterfly said.


"Who else the King and Queen! Now shh."

All the creatures made a clearing in the center of some great oaks and sat as quietly as creatures of that type can, in a circle. about a great round stone. Light began to grow upon the pedestal with in the light were revealed

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