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"But the colors danced about the symbol of safe haven!" Coreolyn overheard Ashlyn arguing with Lindornea before he had even passed through the vaulted entrance to the Archdruid's chamber. He remained just outside the door to listen.
"Really child, I know this has been difficult for you but your tone is quiet out of line. I'm certain Silfyn would have showed me some sign if this were true. I do agree that you need some time away from here. Some time out of the Handela would help you. Inspecting and repairing the damage down by the Seregest River seems most appropriate."
Coreolyn heard what could only be his father's approaching entourage. Down the inner lining of the limb that served as a wide corridor, Coreolyn heard clearly the discord of feet more accustom to the stone floors of the mansion than the gentle wood of the stairs. It was the first time he'd noticed.
He entered the Chamber just ahead of Darion, his father, and Kelson Darktreader. Kelson, Coreolyn's half-nephew would love to gloat. Kelson's Ranger skills were far beyond his own, yet Coreolyn held the family's title and honor to the profession. Kelson had never shown a jealousy to Coreolyn's title. That fact made Coreolyn like him that much less. Coreolyn only liked the traveling. He thought little of the respected title.
As all of them stood at the entrance to the chamber awaiting Lindornea's invitation, from the floor a large table and an exact number of seats shaped to receive the guests. The floor between the table and the guests rolled, forming into paths that lead each guest to their appointed place.
"Well Met Sir Floshin. At last we meet, do come in," Lindornea gestured graciously.
As The guests entered, Darion watched the floor with skepticism. Sir Floshin looked at the floor with studious fascination levitating inches above his appointed path. Kelson walked with reverence. After being seated the tables, the tables and chairs raised level with Lindornea's throne.
"Thank you Norma. I will not mix words as I'm certain you are filled with questions. Several year's ago, Coreolyn agreed to perform a service for me. He was to pursue and report back upon a rumor that the goblin forces were gathering in the foothills south of the Star Mountains. While he was completing this task he came across the Jeweled Staff which belonged to Pajeas. While hiding from the goblins he found himself charmed by a foul servant of Malor. The servant, an ultradaemon..."
Kelson and Darion, sitting on the sides of the far end of the table turned in unison giving puzzled looks to Sir Floshin. Sir Floshin seated at the head of the table, did not return their gaze but focused his eyes and leaned toward Lindornea who sat opposite him.
Lindornea observed the powerful stranger's reactions. When she continued, she talked directly to Sir Floshin, and virtually ignoring Kelson and Darion. Coreolyn, seated several feet away from his family and close to Lindornea, thought only about wringing her old scrawny neck in his hands. When his chair poked him in the back, Lindornea noted his squirm and proceeded.
"Yes Sir Floshin, surely even yourself would have been at a loss surprised by such one."
Sir Floshin nodded in silent assent.
"Coreolyn gathered his wits and survived. He performed a ruse and the Ultradeamon believed his ignorance." Coreolyn knew she didn't consider it a ruse. "He bargained his life for the artifact. Upon his release he returned to me. As Malos had already boasted to Pajeas that the destruction of the Jeweled Staff was at hand, Silfyn showed me away out of a doom that would have imperiled us all.
"Coreolyn was sent back to retrieve Jeweled Staff. He left alone, against my counsel, but I trust you know your own son's judgment." Sir Floshin nodded with a heavy sigh.
Lindornea proceeded, "Coreolyn was again captured. Again, he managed escape, this time from his chains and cell. He even managed to reaquire Jeweled Staff, but not escape from the goblins lair. He lived in the shadows of the hold waiting his opportunity. It was almost six months later that he returned with the Jeweled Staff.
"I remember it as the first time he left without setting a return date." Sir Floshin commented.
"Malos was livid and demanded retribution for Coreolyn's noble theft. Pajeas, still outraged with Malos's intentions protected your son. Silfyn, ever more far sighted than the vain prides of the lawful deities, provided a solution to soothe their vanities.
Coreolyn was handed over to the Ultradeamon and sacrificed to Malos, but S..."
Both Sir Floshin and Darion erupted from their seats. Kelson just stared at Lindornea in shocked disbelief. "I can't believe he volunteered this willingly!" Darion raged. Instantly Darion's chair reached up and engulfed him.
"No, but neither did we deliver him. We simply allowed him to be captured. Here me out for Coreolyn still lives!" Coreolyn fought against ripping the robe off and finishing this charade. His chair rubbed his shoulder's to calm him. "For allowing his capture we bargained the Ultradeamon into letting us give Coreolyn's body a fair burial. We accomplished this by allowing him to believe that we wished to be witnesses to his power."
Darion's chair had slowly returned him to a sitting position and released him. He did not move, spellbound by Lindornea's account.
"At the ceremony, with great personal risk, a number of us faithful dared to summon Drewsusto the evil temple and re-incarnate Coreolyn's spirit before Malos received that too. The planes almost collided right there in that foul place, but when Malos's servant Balar saw that we intended him to be re-incarnated into the form of a Goblin. His laughter subsided his anger."
Sir Floshin's eyes went wide as Coreolyn arose and pulled back his robe.
"Hello Father," he croaked.
* * * * *
"My son is dead. How much easier it would have been Lindornea if you had simply sent a message to that effect. I'm sorry for my son's ineptness and apologize for the inconveniences only one such as he could have created. Excuse us now but we must return immediately."
Lindornea obviously surprised replied, "We cannot care for him here forever, he is not of our following and no longer of our concern. We assumed he would return with you! It was our hope that your magic would provide him with some protections, if not another vessel for his spirit."
Darion and Sir Floshin took one last glare and headed out of the chamber, but Kelson stayed seated. Lindornea kept her eye's upon the door, as if expecting them to return. Several long moments passed before she recognized Kelson's presence.
"Seems to me." Kelson spoke when she looked at him, "Seems to me that it is I that should care for him. May we at least give him shelter within the protection of your woods? I would prefer to shelter him in the Misty Forest, but I cannot provide a constant vigil for him. He is as likely to be killed by friend as by foe. I can however provide for his basic needs."
"Protection within the Handela, but he will no longer be able to find his way back to the Grove Normalae." Lindornea looked for acknowledgment from Kelson.
Kelson returned her gaze and shook his head in careful assent.
"Excellent arrangement. Surprised we were by the arrival of the Duke of Daggerford's huntmaster. Now I must confess, pleasantly surprised." Lindornea's relief was overwhelming.
Kelson began to say, "The designs of Drewsususually are that way," when Coreolyn lost control.
Coreolyn grunted loudly, "Who said I wanted care from either of you. You pompous fools! Rather I am killed by one of your arrows than be cared for by your hand! And you Old Hag, better that I..."
Coreolyn was cut off as the floor opened up sending him sliding though hundreds of feet of smooth tunnel, and depositing him on the ground at the end of one of the mammoth roots.
* * * * *
Dawn left the hidden hall of the Archdruid's chamber and sat on a bench that would carry her home. How she wished Archdruid Fabor would return. Ashlyn would accept his kindly guidance at a time like this. She feared that Ashlyn's lack of respect for Lindornea would find Ashlyn in deep disfavor with Sylvanus. She had always considered that Ashlyn's faith in Drewsuswould put her at odds with Lindornea. As yet though, Dawn still hadn't figured out how to best take advantage of the subtle rifts between them.
Dawn wanted Archdruid Fabor to ascend to grand druid. For that, her and Ashlyn would need to ascend to Lindornea's status. Such a power base Silfyn needed and she could here his need's echoed with far greater clarity in the deeds of Archdruid Fabor than in the actions of Lindornea.
What a mess! Using a foolish fighter to atone for hunting by going on a reconisance mission seemed ridiculous. Why did she always run from just dealing with the business at hand and simply command one of us to handle such things.
She conceded that a goblin patrol was a fair atonement. Coreolyn was brazen, for daring not only to enter, but also to hunt, into the Handela.
Dawn was convinced of Coreolyn's ignorance of the true way's. She was however, beginning to see that belligerence might better apply, and that inferred much more intelligence than she had ever credited him with. His new body exposed more of his true nature than did his old. If he fights this body the way he fought his last he could become quite, special indeed.
Did that imply that Dawn knew what she did when she brought an outsider to see Norma. The tree that utilized the majority of it's power to project itself only to those with the knowledge, would never have brought the likes of Coreolyn Elginor to the woods. If only she knew just which stag had dragged him in? She had a unsettling feeling it was Valrukar, the Ultradeomon. If so maybe Dawn's correct about Coreolyn.
Gliding through the last corridor before her quarters, Dawn wished Archdruid Fabor would return so she could hear his wise counsel a time like this. When she came to a stop she noticed a motion in the north wall of the corridor, and the fact that her door wasn't opening, that her neighbor was home. She had no idea what to say to Ashlyn, but it was obvious that Norma was telling her what to do. No one argued with Norma-No one.
* * * * *
Coreolyn had only one person left to turn to. He began to realize how isolated he had been in life. Defeated Coreolyn began his long trek home. He would attempt to see his mother one last time. She alone deserved his effort. She was human and well into her sixties. Sir Floshin had almost outlived another one. Home was almost 200 miles south east from here. Just west of the coast of the Trackless Sea, midway between the City of Waterdeep and the town of Daggarford, was where it all began. Coreolyn hoped it would end before he got there. He had no supplies, no mount, but it didn't matter to him. Coreolyn Elginor, Ranger lord of the House of Long Silences was going home. If he wasn't allowed to die in the attempt, he would trust in Grace Elginor's heart to show him a direction.
He grew angry when the animals did not even run from his presence as he moved walked to the an exit from the grove. He walked between the twin pines that marked a portal through an invisible barrier between the world of the forest and that of the grove. He had always felt a tingle as left the sphere of power that emanated from the Grove. This time, instead of a tingle, a concussive boom shook the earth and knocked him to the ground. It was as if divine doors slammed shut behind him.
Coreolyn turned to look from where he had come and a wild forest loomed before him. The Grove was gone.
* * * * * *
Ashlyn's door opened to the size of a window at Dawn's approach.
Ashlyn looked up from her packing, "Oh sure thanks Norma, thanks for the privacy!"
Dawn, surprised by the remark grew more startled by the fact that the window began to close. Ashlyn spoke a Duridic word of power and the window stopped. "I'm sorry Dawn, believe me that was all about Norma and had nothing to do with you. Come in! Come in!"
"Oh I believe you.", replied Dawn as she entered the accomodating room and watched Ashlyn pack. "She has been quiet a handful of late.", Dawn said in thoughtful agreement. Ashlyn looked back into Dawn's eye's as they understood each other perfectly.
"I'll be leaving tonight. I figure it'll take a couple of weeks from what Gyfus says."
Dawn shook her head incredulously at the mention of the owl's name, "You know that owl exaggerates everything. It's probably just a scorch from natural lightning. It can happen even there. Besides if you leave now you'll be flying into the setting sun. Why not wait till morning?"
"I know. I figure that I could need a couple of weeks away from here though, and there's never any time like the present."
"That's the Ashley I know. I wish she would find more time for us to work on the Archdruid rites though."
Ashlyn rolled her eyes as she finished packing. "Well time to go. Norma!"
A skylight began to open in the upper lining of the room. Ashley went into a trance and folded down into the body of an eagle. The bag she had packed appeared as a miniature coin purse tied to her leg. As she flew away she plucked a single strand of hair from Dawn's head with a gentle sweep of a claw.
"Hey you! May the morning sun always find you well rested, and If you see Archdruid Fabor tell him he is needed!" Dawn cried out through the skylight.
Ashlyn thought "If that were so he would be here!". Ashlyn felt the energy wall as she rose above Handela, and in the distance she thought she heard thunder.
* * * * *
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