Remembrance of the Wood
Copyright© 2014 by Tamalain
The day went on and Willow took Tama home from school, and the rest of the children left with a happy cheer for the unexpected vacation that Elder had just announced. He knew a number of the parents wouldn't be happy, but there was little that he could do about it now. Once he was in the alone building, he closed everything up and gathered his traveling gear. As arduous as he made the trip sound to Willow, it would actually be an easy from this end.
The packing was easy as he always had a travel bag setup and ready to go. He filled his water bottles from the town wellspring as he would not drink the water in Qeynos. The water from other lands made him ill and he did not want to be laid up with dysentery for several weeks after the trip. He then walked out to the edge of the town to the guard station and met with the captain.
"Have your men watch for Basier if he should return. Something about him just is not right. And let folks know not to use any totems they may have purchased from him."
"Very well, I will do as you have asked. Have a safe trip to Qeynos Elder," said the guard captain.
Elder pulled out an silver amulet with a copper and a rose garnet embossment of a stone ring on it. Holding the amulet to his chest, he willed it to function and vanished in a glowing sparkle of firefly lights.
In a few second's he flashed into existence halfway across the Faydark Valley at the Druid teleport ring. The stones stood between six to eight feet in height and formed a circle about 30 feet across with spaces between each, one gap being wide enough a small cart to drive thru. He staggered for a few seconds from the sudden change of location then put away the amulet. He walked to the edge of the circle of stones and awaited the attention of the druid currently setting the spell for each the current destination.
The Controller called out in a very bored sounding voice, "The Antonica ring will be opening in five minutes. Please have all your gear, mounts, children and pets ready to move into the port ring on my next call. Failure to move while the ring is open will result in a three hour wait until we reopen this destination."
The minutes quickly passed and Elder was ready to move on the call. "The Antonica portal is now open. Please quickly move to the ring center." A large green glowing ring about seven feet in diameter appeared in the center of the ring. In the glowing circle he could see the ring on the other side of the portal so he knew it was clear for him to enter.
Elder was already moving as the operator started the call for the rest of the travelers to move to the portal ring. With a quick wave to the druid, he stepped through the magical portal and was instantly elsewhere. He came out in another stone ring, this one was about fifty feet across and the local woods were much lower and thinner than that of the Faydark forest. The breeze contained the smell of the nearby sea as well as the woods natural scents. He quickly moved out of the area so the other travelers could exit the ring.
Once clear of the stones he went to the human druid that was in charge of the ring. "Pardon me good sir, but will there happen to be a port to Qeynos anytime soon?"
"Not a chance Elven. The city is under martial law with the Great Houses fighting for control of the city and the young king."
"Oh that is not good at all, nor will it do. I am in a hurry to see the head of the Rangers guild in the city. What about the stables then, are there any fresh horses up to the run to the city?"
"We have are several, you will need two remounts as well. That will run you fifty silver if you go that route and don't lose the horses and your life to the local bandits. With all the chaos and corruption going on in the city, they are thriving out here. The outer guards are the best that money can buy, and they are well and truly bought."
"No, I don't think so," said Elder starting to look a bit annoyed with the operator.
"The only other option is walking then," said the druid with a nasty smirk.
As the caretaker was saying this, Elder had pulled out another amulet and activated it. His vanishing surprised the man who expected any port spell to the city to bounce back to its point of origin. This did not seem to be the case in reality were this Elven was concerned.
Elder had used an amulet that would take him to the north gate of the city of Qeynos. The amulet worked as expected then turned to ash. It was of the one shot variety, he knew he would have to obtain a replacement from the wizard's guild before returning home. His sudden appearance had caused quite a stir at the gatehouse. One rather large and disreputable looking guard in tarnished loricated armor exited the tower and moved towards Elder while yelling. "Hey you, you can't just go and pop in like that. We could have put several bolts in you before you knew it."
Elder just looked at the man with a rather flat expression. "I have business with the rangers. I will enter the city now if you don't mind."
"Not today you aren't. Riots all over the city and the Kings regent ordered the gates sealed until the matter is settled." the guard sneered in a manner that nobody used on Elder.
"I did not make myself clear enough then. I am entering the city due to urgent matters that must and will be brought to the Ranger Guilds leadership's attention. You have enough problems that you don't need an undeclared war with the Faydark." said Elder with just enough expression to cause fear in a student. The guard however, was not smart enough to be impressed.
"Old Elven, I am going to have to arrest you. Now come with me," he started to say.
He stopped speaking as he could no longer take a breath as a very strong hand was now slowly crushing his throat. "Human, I am a direct representative of the Faydark Council. I will be entering the city now, or they can scrape you off the stones. Decide wisely, my patience with you has ended."
The guard waved franticly to the others as they were now closing in with crossbows drawn and loaded. With his free hand, Elder pulled out yet another amulet and held it up for the approaching guard captain to see. She looked at it and blanched.
"If you would be so kind as to release this oaf, I will escort you to the Guild headquarters myself sir"
Elder looked at her and smiled. "Thank you my good lady for the offer of escort." He released the grip and the slightly blue guard fell to his knees gasping for air. "Just entrance to the city is all I require."
"Very well sir. Please come this way if you would." She took him past the towers at the end of the bridge and onto the massive stone bridge itself.
The Bridge was a double arch support of stone and wood. Twenty men on horseback could ride side by side across it and not step on one another. At the center on each side of the bridge there were stone pillars that held up a massive set of chains that extended to the guard towers and are attached to the roadbed to give additional support to hold the stone roadbed up over the ocean moat.
Elder looked over the defense towers and said "I see somebody finally figured out the bridges needed a front line of defense. By the way, that guard is a disgrace. His armor is a tarnished and shows signs of rust and his blade unsharpened. If his appearance is a reflection of the state of the kingdom, you are in serious trouble."
"The towers were completed about five years ago sir. We are having gnoll issues you would not believe, and yes, the state of that guard is a reflection of the trouble we are having here. The men are reluctant to follow orders, most are lazy and nobody is fully in command of the city guard at this time."
"You have gnolls; we have Orcs and kobolds to deal with in the Fay. Nasty combination when they are not fighting each other for territory. Now what is happening in the city if you don't mind explaining to this old Elven as we have time while we walk to the cities entrance together?"
"I am sure you have been informed of the unrest. In the last few days it has broken into complete civil war between the Regent families inside the city walls. The regents are fighting for control of the last son of the Bayle line. The child is only five and is not very bright. He is also a bleeder and not very strong, so many of the families feel a new blood line needs to take the throne to save Antonica from the Overlord, the Lich King Sir Lucan D'Lere of Freeport. If the Overlord ever decides to get his act together we will be in trouble. Fortunately our spy's have informed us his palace intrigues make ours look like a picnic squabbles."
Elder nodded at this information. "Have the Scouts, Caster's or Clerics taken up arms for any one group other than the rightful King?" asked Elder. "And what of the circle of five, should they not be in control of the kingdom during a crisis of the Crown?"
Keeping her face set as neutral as possible so as not to reveal her personal feelings on the matter she replied, "The Five are not allowed to act so long as the King lives. The guilds have a strict policy of neutrality, but individuals, mainly family members of the factions have joined sides. Fortunately for us it is the younger and less powerful members of the guilds that are involved in the revolt. Privately, the guilds support the Boy King. Only the charters prevent them from openly coming out in support."
Elder gave a mild snort of derision, "Never underestimate even a novice in the magical arts. They can be even more troublesome and do more damage than a master of the same. They take chances no experienced person would take in order to reach their goals. That seems to be part of the reason I am here today."
"Well, we are at the gate. Now allow me to escort you inside so there will be fewer interruptions or problems for you."
"If you would be so kind only if it will not be a problem for you good lady," replied Elder with a pleasant smile. "Must keep up appearances of friendship and all you know."
That evening, Willow and Axemen both agreed that Eaglesclaw needed to be called for quickly. At dinner, Tama sat quietly and concentrated for a minute on not being seen then managed to completely fade from view for a few seconds. When she attempted to move, the effect dropped leaving her visible and very tired.
"Tama Arrowmark that was a incredibly rude thing to do at the dinner table. Don't do it again during the meals daughter," said Axemen.
"Yes Papa. I was just trying to see if I could still do it now that the bad totems are gone. I guess I still can, except I feel totally drained from trying it."
"Well you finish your dinner, do your evening chores then get ready for bed," said Willow.
"Yes mama." Tama managed to not fall asleep while eating her dinner, but afterwards the exhaustion proved to be too much for her already over stressed body and mind to handle. She fell asleep while moving her chair back to the table. Axemen saw her starting to fall and quickly caught her.
"I will put her in her bed for now Willow. Today's events were too much for her and just put her out."
"You do that, afterwards you are coming back out here and helping me clean up for the night."
"Yes dear." Axemen knew he was not going to escape helping, so he put Tama to bed and returned to the main room to start the evening cleaning that Tama normally handled. He finished quickly then checked with Willow for anything else that might need taking care of.
Willow looked at him then realizing that they were effectively alone and had the house to themselves with Tama so completely out, for the first time in several years. Willow gave Axemen a smile and crooked her finger in the classic come here motion. She grabbed his hand and dragged him off to their room.
And that dear reader is all you need to know about that evening in the Arrowmark Home.
Once inside the gates, Elder quickly made his way to the Tunarian Scouts of Antonica Guild hall while avoiding several altercations between guards and rioters. Elder could see that the oldest part of the city had been reduced to ashes and ruins. When he arrived at his destination the door keeper recognized Elder from membership amulet and escorted him to the council chambers.
The guard knocked, he was quickly admitted to the chamber so he could explain the reason for the interruption. A moment later he stuck his head out and waved for Elder to enter as well. The Guild leader was a short thin man of about sixty human years with short graying hair. His eyes though where clear shown with light of great intelligence and life.
"So Elder of the Greater Faydark, what has happened that we have been graced with your presence this day, you normally never leave that massive wood of yours without serious cause and need."