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Chapter 4

Between the twin pines, which remained though the grove behind it had vanished, a now familiar mist began to swirl. He stared in awe until it began to dissipate. He could see the outlines of a bundle form upon the ground at the center point of the trail between the pines. Walking over to inspect the bundle, he found himself swelling acknowledgment and gratitude. Taking off his robe, he put the finely crafted leather pants and jerkin on. While he had only seen elfin leather once before in his life, he recognized the delicate resilience of the craftsmanship. He understood that it did little for his appearance, and he put the robe back on. 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 Drewsus. As he touched the string he felt the compassion of the vine. He closed his eyes and breathed deep of unknown power-within himself.

He 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 and that each contained a different type of arrows.

The first compartment contained 11 brown arrows of average design. All of the compartments contained individual sleeves for each arrow to facilitate quick and accurate retrieval. The second compartment housed 11 bright orange arrows each 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 house one black arrow with a tip of the same color, it's feather's also as dark as the night. It seemed to jump out of his hand, but instead of falling to the ground it replaced itself in it's appointed slot in the quiver. The single slot in the forth and final compartment lay conspicuously empty.

The outside of the quiver held 2 pouches one contained fine straps of leather for attaching arrow tips to there shafts and the other 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 it's 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 minds eyes saw hundreds of noble gold elves looking down upon him. Appearing in front of the grand front, Drewsustossed her golden hair and approved saying,

I thought not. That is good!

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.

* * * * *

Sir Floshin and Darion were already several miles down the trail when the heard what they thought to be thunder.

"Does not look like rain to me." Darion commented. It was the first words anyone had dare speak to Sir Floshin. Since leaving the grove. It had taken Darion a few moments to find the four extremely upset guards that had accompanied them on the mission. Darion did little to explain where they had been when it appeared to the guards that they had vanished between the twin pines.

His lack of explanation was caused by several factors. Partially it was due to the shock of the news of his only nephews fate. Part of him withheld information as he could not imagine how to explain the grove and Norma to anyone in a believable fashion. Though both these factor's gave ample justification for his withholding of information, Darion knew that he said little due to a will stronger than his own that would not allow it.

Sir Floshin listened to the thunder closely. "Maybe it isn't rain, but it is getting late we should make camp shortly."

A few miles further down the road they made out the gentle designs of a treste. Treste's were made at regular intervals along trails throughout the forest as if for the convenience of travelers. Primarily they existed in the hopes that traveler's would minimize the impact of their intrusion to the woods by eliminating the need to build a new campsite. New camps invariably caused a disproportionate amount of tree hacking and plant trampling, Not to overlook the inconvenience to the local animal population, which law protected or not, often was fewer in number after a new camp was made. As with most treste's it was a curving cul-de-sac of shaped earth with a stone floor buried beneath a soft bed of pine needles and leaves.

Sir Floshin and Darion ate together of there packed provisions in silent contemplation of the days events. Darion wanted to trust Sir Floshin's judgment that Coreolyn was dead. Darion shuddered as he remembered his nephew unveiled from the inner depths of the robe.

Sir Floshin broke the silence, "We must tell Grace he is dead. She is too old to see such a waste of her loving care."

Darion responded from his heart, "But she is my sister, and he my Nephew. I do not know if I can be party to such a deception."

"Deception it is not! The boy my wife and I raised, died. You heard it for yourself. If we were to consider all the re-incarnations around us, who knows what relative you would be eating or what pieces of a friend you'd burn in the campfire. If we do not confine this existence to a singular combination of spirit and body we become ungrateful and impotent to utilizing our gift of this life."

It was all above Darion's head. Sir Floshin had been a good husband to his sister and given his family abundant accommodation on his estate. He was obliged to accept Sir Floshin's view. Grace was well into her final decades. Losing your only child before you was tragedy enough. A mother conceiving her child as a goblin before passing on, well, she should not suffer such a fate.

Darion left to discuss the guard rotation for the evening, and Sir Floshin went to the bed roll that had already been laid out for him. His head contained pounding headache. His heart deeply wished that things were as black and white as his opinions. His stomach wretched against the burning thought that Coreolyn was no longer alive.

He tried to get to sleep but he felt the gnawing that the consequences of Coreolyn's misguided life were far from over. He rolled over uncomfortably as he tried to deny responsibility. His mind vividly recalled the thunderous sound they had heard before settling down for the night. In his mind he heard a command of silence that would keep him from revealing Norma to anyone. He did not deny that the power of the command was far greater than any he had ever performed.

Drewsusaccepted an invitation to the clockwork planes of Nirvana. It seemed Mystra was curious to be informed of the inordinate interest the prime material plane had received of late.

* * * * *

Soaring as an eagle from the heights of Norma's protective limbs was one of Ashlyn's greatest pleasures. Starting from such a powerful height always left her with the feeling of descending to the earth from the heaven's. The sun was already below the horizon of the clouds below her. Tucking her wings she went into a dive loving the speed and the gentle wash of the clouds she dove through. She straightened out just under the clouds and made a slow descent toward the forest that was already shrouded in the growing darkness. The sun made dark silhouettes at the furthest edge of her vision, and bathed the bottom of the clouds in a deepening lavender. She new she could get to the Sergest River blindfold. Though it was little more than a creek, it was one of Ashlyn's cherished spots in the woods.

Though hundreds of years of nature lay abundant in the area, she could feel the influence that the gold elves of long ago placed in the land. Even if Gyfus had exaggerated the damage to the area, any destruction was too much in Ashlyn's opinion. It would also appear as an omen of ill portent. Though her and Lindornea often disagreed of late, she knew Lindornea would see it as an omen too.

She marveled at the workings of Drewsuswho, more so that Lindornea, had sent her on this mission. Mastering the winds, Ashlyn thought of nothing else but the pleasures of flying, relishing the winds elusive touch for several hours.

Her majestic tranquillity broken by movement on the forest floor. It was already well into nightfall and the moon only beginning it's fated journey. The gray light enough to betray the motions of a number of humanoids through a clearing. Ashlyn could not make out the exact number or type, but she new the tactics of a goblin raiding party well enough.

The thought of it reminded her of Coreolyn. She search up ahead to the small clearing by the Sergest she was fast approaching to try to avoid the reminiscence. She looked to where it should have been and noticed but a dark shadow. Her heart began to race as she decided to go into a circling pattern around the area. Anger coursed through her as she examined the burnt remains of the clearing.

Creatures from many miles around cringed for cover upon hearing the angry cry of the great eagle. Even farther away, just east of Hanadela, A brown bear stopped swatting the rainbow trout in the Unicorn river. She looked to the sky and took off running. Barabeleg ran due east.

* * * * *

Kelson stared at Lindornea for an explanation of Coreolyn's unceremonious dismissal.

"It must be this way." Lindornea quietly spoke in litany.

"Where has he gone?" Kelson ask respectfully.

"Norma knows, but it is for him to decide where he is going. You may stay the night Kelson Darktreader but I ask that you be gone before the midday sun tomorrow. If I may I suggest you visit the shrine before Norma shows you to your quarters for the evening."

Kelson understood that Lindornea could not provide the answer's which he sought. "Very Well then 'till next we meet Reverend Mother."

"I doubt it shall ever be here again. Seldom are those who come to Handela that are aloud to leave. Fewer still those who are aloud to return again after having left. Be assured that none escape Handela's influence."

Kelson couldn't escape the threatening undertones as he quietly turned to leave the chamber. He still felt a deep significance to the remaining path in the floor that led him to the doorway.

As he exited and walked down the sloping corridor, he marvelled in appreciation for the exquisite designs in the dark rich wood. He felt as if in a living museum of the power of nature. The designs along this wall were displayed with an random accuracy that filled him assurance. When he sat upon the bench and felt the gentle undulation of the wall carry him away, he didn't know how, but he knew he was heading to the shrine.

* * * * *

Coreolyn, who preferred dagger and sword, was grateful for his average proficiency with a bow. If he understood the magic he now brandished 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 to his face he felt the presence of the vine crying for him not to go through with this, begging him to remember previous consequences of his ignorance. Coreolyn brushed the feelings aside hoping that this didn't mean he'd 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 buck stared directly into Coreolyn's eye that aimed along the shaft of the arrow to a point between it's magnificent rack.

Strange emotions within Coreolyn released the pressure from the taught bowstring slowly. He placed the arrow back into the quarrel without taking his investigating eyes off the stag. The buck raised it's head as if it heard something, it took one last look at Coreolyn and bolted to the north.

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