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Everything posted by Travis

  1. Just a little bump to let some of our newer people know about it. Please respond here so we can keep this going.
  2. Something that has come up (and has always been a struggle with myself) with some new/returning people is that it is very difficult to navigate between main/OOC usernames here, various characters, Discord usernames, and real names. Lord knows I have been here for quite some time and even I have problems with it constantly. So, I am wanting to get together a list of everyone's names and will update this post frequently. Please respond to this topic (with your primary or OOC account to make it easier) with the following (eliminate the parenthesis, please): Primary Account: (ie, the one we would send PM's to) Discord: (what your nickname is in the Jnet chat) Real First Name: (if you are comfortable with that, if not, leave out) Active Characters: (list their site username and IC character name if different) __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Ary the Gray Primary Account: Ary the Grey Discord Username: Aidan Darkfire/Ban Ulfson Real First Name: Charles Active Characters: Aidan Darkfire, Ban Ulfson Commander Cody Primary Account: Commander Cody Discord: Chief2443 Real First Name: Cody Active Characters: none Darth Nyrys Primary Account: Darth Nyrys Discord: Darth Nyrys Real First Name: Chad Active Characters: Darth Nyrys Delta73 Primary Account: Delta73 Discord: Scout#5653 Real First Name: Timothy Active Characters: Delta73, Sandy Sarna, Raven Zinthos, Rose Cariadus, Telperien Ar-Pharazon, Beth Andromina Exodus Primary: Exodus Discord: Exodus Active Characters: Exodus, Berserker Frond Primary Account: Frond Discord Username: Watcher (Frond-Ben) Real First Name: Ben Active Characters: Frond, Rruror’rur’rr Fynn Relmis Primary: Fynn Relmis Discord: Fynn-Kern Name: Baron Kern Active Characters: Baron Kern Genesis Primary Account: Genesis Discord Username: ScorpioArmegedon#3930 Real First Name: Chad M. Active Characters: Mjan Sadow iv-Adas, Genesis Stormhelm, Mythos Von Howlster, Mi'lan Ziza, Shiro Seven, R3-M0, Kari Koi Shadow91062 Primary Account: Shadow91062 Discord Username: Shadow91062 Real first name: Ryan Active Characters: Jax Sheog the Mad Primary: Sheog the Mad Discord: Fieldgrey Active Characters: Fieldgrey, Kyrie Eleison Travis Primary Account: Travis Discord Username: Travis Real First Name: Travis Active Characters: Adenna Alluyen, Qaela, Lendron Neldis Vox Primary Account: Vox Discord: SaucyPilgrim First Name: Joshua Active Character(s): Vox
  3. STATE OF THE GALAXY for the JediRP* Decades of warfare and nearly endless carnage following the destruction of the Second Death Star over Endor cumulated in the fleets of the Galactic Empire and the New Republic along with their respective Sith and Jedi converging on a hidden, partially completed and damaged Death Star long abandoned in deep space. That massive battle was so bloody that, despite ending in a stalemate, all sides were exhausted of fighting and came together to discuss alternatives to the status quo. The result was the formation of the Galactic Alliance: a Galaxy spanning government headquartered on Coruscant but made up of planets and regions from both sides. A blanket amnesty was issued for all who fought in the previous wars and all were allowed to start with a clean slate. The massive navies and armies on both sides that had survived the war were largely disbanded in favor of a small centralized and officially neutral Galactic Alliance peacekeeping force. For several years, the Galaxy was able to maintain an unsteady peace under the eyes of the Galactic Alliance. Despite an attempt to completely end the Force by the Sith Master Faust that saw even the Jedi and Sith fight side by side, there were no major wars or conflicts during that time. Despite the outward peace, there was still strife and conflict brewing beneath the surface. The criminal organization Black Sun was chafing under the rules and regulations of the Galactic Alliance and frequently resorted to overt criminality and terrorism sparking the ire of CoreSec, the law enforcement agency of the Galactic Alliance. Conflicts between those two organizations eventually drew in both Jedi interested in keeping the peace and Sith interested in power and carnage. The constant skirmishes and seeming ease in which Black Sun operated only further revealed the weakness of the Galactic Alliance which caused many member planets to lose faith in the central government. On the edges of the Galaxy, the Sith began to experience a new Dark Age of power and strength as the Dark Lord Exodus rose to power. Slowly and deliberately, he took control of the Sith and purged those who refused to yield to his authority. He managed to reign in the self destructive tendencies that marked the Sith's traditional society and directed those energies to building a powerful war machine: something that went against Galactic Alliance laws. To further boost their number and resources, the Sith allied with Black Sun, creating the Axis and adding criminal organization's monies and manpower to the Sith's. Though there was some alarm at this Sith rise, little action was done due to corruption, ineptitude, and deliberate internal sabotage. Seeing the weakness of the theoretically democratic society of the Galactic Alliance and becoming increasingly alarmed at the rise of the Sith, Imperial Remnant Head of State Raven Zinthos declared independence from the Galactic Alliance taking most of the former Imperial worlds with her. She began preparing for war, but faced an uphill climb to catch up with the Sith. Though they were no longer a part of the Galactic Alliance, the Imperial Remnant maintained a nominal peace with them and the Jedi Order. After the formation of the Galactic Alliance, the Jedi Order saw a chance at peace at long last. Its bloodied and war wary leaders took the opportunity to guide the Jedi away from war and to a more peaceful, introspective route that they believed were closer in line with traditional Jedi values. They felt that Jedi had been fighting a war for so long they had began to lose their way and slide toward the dark side. Despite signs of escalating war, the Jedi attempted to prolong the peace and worked tirelessly to prop up the fragile Galactic Alliance while preventing their number from actively confronting the Sith and provoking them to greater violence. This created discontent within the Jedi Order as some wanted to directly and violently oppose the Sith and other rising evils within the Galaxy. Leadership within the Jedi Order changed hands multiple times creating instability and discord that finally drove hundreds of their number out of the Order and into the newly independent Imperial Remnant. These Jedi and other Force users formed the Imperial Knights under Kyrie Eleison and adopted a set of stringent codes that helped them navigate the more martial side of their Order while preventing themselves from falling to the dark side. Sensing the time was right, Dark Lord Exodus led the Sith on a strike to take Onderon, a traditional Sith friendly planet. Through both manipulation and genuine support, the people of Onderon rose up against the Galactic Alliance and sided with the Sith fleet that appeared above their planet. With fairly little bloodshed or effort, the Sith took Onderon, named it the capital of their new Sith Empire, and began a war of conquest to take over the Galaxy. On Coruscant, the Galactic Alliance Senate was in shock at this move and immediately condemned it, but the response was hampered by corruption within the Senate. Rallying their own forces and a small Jedi fleet, they launched a hasty and poorly coordinated attempt to retake Onderon. The Sith and their Black Sun Axis were waiting and inflicted serious casualties on the attacking force before driving them off. Over the next several months, the Sith began launching small raids and attacks against the ill prepared Galactic Alliance and their Jedi allies, slowly gaining more and more territory. The Imperial Remnant began waging their own war against the Black Sun and other criminal organizations. After taking Nal Hutta and Nar Shaddaa, the Remnant focused on liberating Kashyyyk from the Axis powers. Head of State Zinthos was proclaimed Empress Zinthos as the Remnant struggled to rally as many as they could to prepare for the inevitable confrontation with the Sith. Despite their initial victories, they soon drew the attention of the Sith Empire which began a campaign for Kuat. In a brutal battle the likes of which the Galaxy hadn't seen since the old Imperial/New Republic Wars, most of the Remnant fleet was destroyed by the Axis and the shipyard planet was taken by the Sith and their Empress captured. With the Galactic Alliance's attention focused on the Sith Empire, there was little energy directed at Mandalorian space. From the ashes of a Mandalorian civil war rose a new Mandalore by the name of Terra and a new Crusader army that worshiped the old war gods of ancient times. This bloodthirsty band of warriors quickly built a fleet and raised an army to march into the Galaxy to bring their gods glory and death. With little warning, these Crusaders began raiding and pillaging with overwhelming force born of powerful weapons and religious zeal, leaving few survivors in their wake. At this point, Coruscant suffered two major catastrophes. The first was the attempt by Sith Master Faust to once again destroy the planet by pulling down one of its moons. This effort was staved off by the combined effort of the Jedi Order's most powerful members, but not without a heavy cost. The moon grazed the outer atmosphere of the planet causing immeasurable damage to the surface and killing hundreds of billions. To make matters worse, before the planet could even begin recovering, the Mandalorian Crusaders emerged from hyperspace and began a devastating assault on the planet. The Galactic Alliance and the Jedi forces were routed over Coruscant and forced to flee to Borleias. There, they were joined by survivors of the Imperial Remnant's fleet fresh from their crushing defeat over Kuat. The Galactic Alliance Senate was nearly entirely wiped out on Coruscant leaving Admiral Slaughter in de facto command of its forces. In the Jedi Order, leadership was so decimated and shattered that the mantle of Grandmaster fell upon a mere Jedi Knight, Adenna Alluyen. She immediately reversed the direction of the Jedi and directed them towards a more confrontational stance to actively fight the rising evil of the Sith. Together, these three groups formed an Alliance for the sake of survival even while continuing to take losses from the Sith and Mandalorian Crusaders. The first step for the stunned Allies was to free the captured Empress Zinthos. Intelligence led them to Dark Sun Station: a Black Sun controlled bank in the middle of deep space. Scouts reported the majority of the Black Sun's fleet there, stuck without support from their Sith allies. Hoping to strike a blow that would destroy the criminal organization, the Allies brought all of the forces they had amassed at Borleias and launched an attack on the Black Sun fleet. This proved to be a dangerous choice as the delay in rallying additional forces allowed the Sith to spring a counterattack against them. Though the Empress was freed, the ensuing battle saw the devastation of Black Sun's fleet, but also severe losses among the Allies. After fleeing Dark Sun Station, the Allies regrouped at Nar Shaddaa and formally created the Rebel Alliance. The Galactic Alliance and the Imperial Remnant merged entirely into one temporary government while the Jedi Order extended an offer for the Imperial Knights to rejoin the Order as an autonomous entity. During that time, the Sith under Dark Lord Exodus arrived in force over the shattered Coruscant and began crushing the Mandalorian Crusader garrison that remained and working towards establishing a semblance of order on the chaos. Currently, both sides are consolidating their positions and preparing for a new round of warfare. The Rebels are building small bases and launching raids against the Sith who are attempting to quell resistance in their newly conquered territory. *Editor's Note: This summary is designed to bring new or returning members up to a basic understanding of the current state that the RP is in. It is designed to present the most major or important events of this RP in a neutral light with more emphasis on the most recent (and therefore relevant) events. Though there are a number of key names and events listed here, it is not an exhaustive or comprehensive collection of characters, battles, or events. It is not the intent of the author to minimize the contributions of any player and character as everyone has a part to tell. Unfortunately, just as in the history books, only key events are told.
  4. You know, this really appeals to me. When Qaela was training her daughter, I found that I had a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed working around, teaching, and actually letting things flow without necessarily jumping all over the place. She isn't really a fighter, at least not in the way the Sith need now. She is, however, a good support and teacher, ironically, a mother like figure (comes from her Tribal instinct to protect and instruct for the better of the Tribe instead of dominating and crushing threats or rivals). Plus, that I naturally have a teacher/trainer personality in real life made it quite enjoyable. Exodus, I know I have not been the most reliable of RP'ers here, but I would definitely like to have a discussion (Hangouts or whatnot) with you sometime over what your philosophy and thoughts are on this. If we can kinda feel out that Qaela's own philosophy and training could be of value here (I am thinking the Item Enchantment, Poison/Alchemy, and Elemental Manipulation, and possibly Philosophy if Exodus agrees with some of her views), I would be interested in having her as a teacher, if not helping serve as a Headmistress of the Academy so there is a permanent PC there protecting it.
  5. Hmm, not sure what is up. I am on Chrome and it works just fine for me. I presume your Chrome is updated and you restarted your comp?
  6. Indeed, it has been too long. Missed a lot of our rather colorful conversations.
  7. -2 Luke, +1 Finn Finn 10 Poe Dameron 21 Kylo Ren 23 Luke Skywalker 25 Chewbacca 21 Admiral Ackbar 17 Maz Kanata 24 General Hux 19
  8. -2 Maz +1 Finn Finn 8 Poe Dameron 21 Kylo Ren 25 Luke Skywalker 23 Chewbacca 21 Admiral Ackbar 17 Maz Kanata 26 General Hux 25
  9. Love that, Dahar. Thanks for the welcome. Here I was thinking this place was dead and buried. Good to see that things are hopping a bit. Love to see people on and it is bringing up a lot of good old memories.
  10. For better or for worse, I am back. Been a long break, changed a hell of a lot (mellowed out a lot), and hope that RP'ing will get me back into writing.
  11. Well, if it is written for a high school level, then that works fine. It is precisely what I would expect from a high school student to write and would make a good example for the teacher to provide so they could understand what was needed without overwhelming them with Top Seller material. It took me a bit to figure out the Red Riding Hood references, but once Mergatroyd encountered Mentat and started commenting on his appearance discrepancies, I got it. Once I went back, I began to see how the rest of the story fit in, too. I understand there are a lot of outside references, far more than I can list, but I was curious, was Mentat one of them? That is the same as a society/collective of sorts from the Dune universe; a bunch of guys who use logic over everything and shun emotion.
  12. Sorry for the delay on this. As with Brendo, I like the professional academic writing style. It is reminiscent of the political pamphlets of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is an in character writing since the character assumes the readers know what he is talking about already. Such writing styles are not easy to keep on due to the need for balance between staying in character and informing the true audience of things they wouldn't possibly know. I wish it were longer, but as a forward (not a prologue, though, it is written as a forward), it works.
  13. China has killed it. I have three chapters all started but unfinished. Every time I sit down to write, my creativity and will to write is gone in minutes. It is the darnest thing, but there is nothing I can do. Maybe when I return to America, things will be different. I do not plan on abandoning things, but it is definitely on a hiatus.
  14. Jessicacasy is a bot. I deleted a spam post in one of my forums.
  15. I didn't notice any problems, so I guess all is well. That is good because most servers tend to undergo maintenance during the day for me since I am in an opposite time from North America and Western Europe where most users are.
  16. As far as I am aware, every state in the US requires an education certification to teach in a state school. That is almost always achieved through a bachelors in education, though it can be gotten alternatively through taking tons of courses and doing some other work. I tried both, couldn't complete either for various reasons. Anyway, Io Lee, that is a name I haven't heard in some time. Good to see you again.
  17. From what I can tell in the research I have done, those are exactly the tradeoffs. You don't have to deal with publishers taking their cut or demanding edits or rejecting you. However, you also don't have the publisher's reputation and distribution network, either. It is difficult and costly to get your books in bookstores and without a publisher, it is hard to actually make it big. A few have managed to do it, but most of the big names need the might and resources of a big publisher to get off the ground.
  18. I haven't heard of it, but it is something I may need to get looking into soon.
  19. It is a deal because now you can say you are a published author. I am glad for you, I really am. It is a step that I hope to be able to take in a couple of years.
  20. Chapter 7 Blood and Tears War was never meant to be desirable. War is terror, pain, chaos, blood, and death. Any notion of glory is something painted with brushes dipped in blood and splattered on a canvas of lives forever cut short and dreams eternally darkened. Only fools and the dementedly evil look to war with eyes made bright by eagerness and longing. — Why We Fight, by Sage Wu, 2E 846 31 Miles East of Sua Opeganeat Angvardi Occupied Sua November 4 They rode for as long as they could, but in the end, they had to stop to tend to the wounded. By the dimming sun, Syler figured they had ridden for an hour before Sergeant Naedel brought his hasuan to a halt and signaled for the others to do the same. Syler wasn't sure that they weren't being followed, but if the sergeant thought it was safe, he wasn't going to argue. But then, he wasn't in any position to argue. He had been in command and lead them all into an ambush that they warned about. He had failed as a leader and deserved nothing. With barely enough thought to let Bronwyn down from behind him, Syler slid to the ground. The world seemed to be a haze. He heard voices, but didn't bother to make out the words. These people were following him, and he had led them into an ambush for no good reason. Several of them had died for that decision, including Growald. He had never liked the man, but that didn't mean he wanted him to die. He felt someone shake his calf and looked down to see Bronwyn gazing up at him with concern on her face. There was no condemnation there, only a knowing concern. "Syler, your men need you," was all she said. As she did, her other hand pointed around them to where the others were already off of their hasuan. Some of them were lying on the ground while others were pressing bloody rags to various parts of their bodies. Forcing his feelings aside, Syler slid off of Ment'fa'haehl and rushed over to where Baelkar was slumping in his saddle. The man had barely been able to stay awake and would certainly have fallen had Jutimaen not been behind him holding him up. Naedal had already arrived and helped him get the wounded man to the ground where a sallow looking Zago could perform his magic on the man. While he had known at Baelkar had been hit with an arrow, Syler had not realized the true extent of the man's injuries. He had been hit by no fewer than four arrows, two of them in his chest. It seemed that the shafts of three of them had been pulled out leaving red painted holes in his armor, but one was still sticking out of the back of his shoulder. Curiously, there wasn't much blood for such wounds. "How are you still alive?" he mumbled to himself as Zago worked on him. "Blood Amulet," the mage replied without stopping his work. "It stops the blood from flowing meaning he would not bleed to death. With one of those, the only way to kill a man is to directly pierce a vital organ or behead him. They are not very common, but I had not known he possessed one until the fight." "Sounds handy," replied Syler. He doubted that any magical amulet would work on him, but it would probably be a good idea to get one for Bronwyn. "Syler!" called Lamastus from a few yards away. Leaving Baelkar to be healed, Syler dashed over to where Lamastus, Jaquiil, and Bronwyn were hovering over an unconscious Vekla. Her armor was dirty and scratched, but he didn't see any blood or obvious wounds. When he first saw the sorceress on the ground, he had assumed that she was merely stunned unconscious. During the retreat, his wife had told him what happened, but he wasn't sure what the Pillars had done. "Can she be revived?" he asked. Jaquiil looked hesitantly at Bronwyn for a translation. When he heard it, he shook his head and shrugged helplessly. "He tried some potions," offered Lamastus. "They didn't seem to do anything. Whatever power hit her must have knocked her out for good." "It was something to do with magic, right?" asked Syler. It wasn't a very large stretch considering the entire place seemed to be full of it. "You think you can help against it like you were with me," Bronwyn speculated. Syler took the gauntlet off his left hand and knelt down to touch Vekla's forehead. When there was no immediate reaction, he heard Bronwyn let out a disappointed breath. "Be patient," he told her as he tried to remember what to do. What he did with Bronwyn was mostly a blur, something done out of a need to save her. He had some vague notion of what to do, but it was still just a blur. There was a name that came to mind. He remembered someone helping him, guiding him, and giving him the strength. He closed his eyes and thought back to those hazy images of his home and the stunningly beautiful woman who came to him there. "Suella," he whispered, "can you help me now? I do not know what to do." He listened carefully to every sound that came to his ears, hoping that he could discern a whisper that would guide him. It was said that prayer was for the Easterners and that it was used to talk to their gods. The Sei had never employed prayer before, instead believing that the Elements were impersonal, uncaring entities that only took notice of mortals when it suited them. Ever since his visions back in Thwrud where he saw Suella and Crusos, he knew that belief was not true, at least, not in his case. For whatever reason, the Elements thought him important so their eyes were likely on him at all times. "Suella, I need you now," he said quietly, "you helped me once before, do it again. Please." He waited again, but there was nothing. The only sound that came to his ears was that of the cold wind and the shuffling of hasuan and man around him. His shoulders sagged in defeat. He was on his own now, and that was a thought that terrified him more than it should have. He would have to do this all by himself. What was it that he had been doing when he used his abilities? Just touching Bronwyn had put the curse at bay, but he had needed Suella's help to fully remove it. That had been a deep, soul searing experience that he didn't think he could ever replicate again. But that wasn't the only time he had been using his skills. He hadn't even needed to do anything to prevent Vekla's fireball or Lord Saekoris' attacks from harming him. That had just happened without his needing to do anything. He was touching Vekla now, and nothing was happening. Obviously, something more was needed just as it had been needed to cure Bronwyn. He just didn't know what it was he needed to do. The only other time he had used his abilities was to redirect Lord Saekoris' magic back at him, but that was… Syler's eyes flew open. He might not be able to summon a fireball with his hands, but he had the ability to absorb someone else's fireball and send it back at them. With that realization came more memories of what he had been doing with Bronwyn while healing her. He had seen the curse afflicting his wife and had known how to unravel it. He didn't know how, but who truly knew how magic worked? With his hand still pressed against the sorceress' forehead, Slyer renewed his effort, now with a sense of purpose. He cast aside all other distractions, sensations, and thoughts to focus only on himself, Vekla, and any traces of magic. His hand began to tingle and, in his mind's eye, he could see the glowing effects of the Stone's magic shrouding her body like a spider's web. Without hesitation, he began to draw that magic into himself. His arm began to deaden, but he could see the web around Vekla begin to fall apart. Bit by bit, the glow faded around her until it disappeared entirely leaving a cold feeling in the center of his soul. His job wasn't finished, though. He could feel the magic freezing within him, threatening to overwhelm him under a sea of death. For a split second, he began to panic, but he knew that if he did, he would die. Clenching his teeth against the cold spreading throughout his chest, he recalled cherished memories of Bronwyn lying peacefully against his chest, her face illuminated by the firelight and framed by hair of the lightest shade of brown. It was the memories of their last night in Thwrud after she had watched him practicing in the armor he found in Lord Saekoris' armory. It was a time when they were in complete harmony; all of the problems and worries both bore had vanished. In this vision, Bronwyn was sleeping, oblivious to the rest of the world and utterly confident in the safety that her husband gave her. It was the happiest he had been in his life, even more than the first time they made love after he healed her. Her absolute trust in his ability to protect her filled a part of him that he never knew was empty. There was none of the hesitation and uncertainty that characterized their life in Kubei or their first weeks in Thwrud where he was moody and burdened with stress and worry over the fate of his sister. That night, he knew what he had to do and had the unconditional support of the woman whom he loved and who loved him. The cold that had earlier been threatening to overwhelm him began to subside from the inside outward. In its place, a warm glow filled him. As the cold left his body, his limbs grew numb and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. Despite the warmth spreading from within his chest, Syler could not stop from shivering until the last of the cold had left his fingertips. Feeling Vekla stirring beneath his hand, Syler stood up. Without a word and without lifting his eyes from the ground, he walked away from the others. Dimly, he heard somebody call out his name, but he ignored it. They didn't need him now and it was best that they stop seeing him as their leader. He had done what he could to remedy the mistake he had made; now it was time to reconsider his plans about how to get Karusa back without getting anyone else killed. Finding a suitable stone, Syler sat down upon it and gazed out over the wilderness. Karusa was out there somewhere and he needed to find her. The Angvardi had forced her into a forced marriage with a Sua just as they had forced him into a marriage with a Kutii. It was possible that she had been given a kind husband. He dearly hoped that was the case, at least. If she had a loving husband, then he would invite him to come away with him. If Karusa loved this man, who was he to separate the two of them? Just because he was a Sua didn't necessarily mean that he would be a bad man. After all, Bronwyn was a Kutii and she was the most wonderful person he had ever met. Deep down inside, though, he feared that Karusa was not with a good man. He had seen many Sei men treat their Kutii wives poorly when he had been in Kubei. The Angvardi, to their credit, tried to protect the women, but it was hard to be everywhere all the time. He needed to know that Karusa was safe and he had to fulfill his promise to return to her. He had broken his oath once before; he would not do it again. But how was he going to get her back without more people dying? He had never asked the Krue to come, but they had done so. He was their leader and they were his responsibility. Due to his foolishness and insistence on tradition, he had led them into a trap. Several of the Krue had died before he had even truly gotten to know them. Growald was dead, too, and that shook him far more than he thought it would have. He had hated the disagreeable man at times, but that didn't mean that he wanted Growald to die. Now the man's blood was on his hands, especially since he died so that he and his wife could escape. Syler kicked a loose stone and watched it fall and roll down the side of the hill. A few other pebbles were knocked free and joined the first stone in its descent. By the time they came to a stop, there was a dozen or more pebbles sitting there in a small cloud of dust. Each of them had been perfectly content where they had been sitting for years before he kicked the first stone. Each of them now had their entire worlds changed forever because of that one simple action. It reminded him all too much at how something simple like leaving Kubei and getting his sister could quickly become something far larger. All he had wanted was to leave and find Karusa, but that had not happened. He fell in love with Bronwyn and then she was gone. He had to free her and dozens of men died. He had fled Kubei and was discovered by a unit of Angvardi. The Angvardi had chased them until encountering the Krue and dozens of men died. He had been taken to Lord Saekoris and he died by Syler's own hand the next day. Lord Yaegran had challenged his rule and also died. Others conspired against him so Vekla murdered them. Finally, just when his leg had healed and he was able to start after his sister, he led his men into an ambush and dozens of men died. How many lives was finding Karusa worth? Already, due to his drive to find her, perhaps hundreds of men had died and tens of thousands of lives had been altered forever. Who was he to cause so much death and suffering all for one woman? His hands clenched so tightly that he thought his nails would draw blood. Even if they did, he didn't care. He was tired of people dying for him and would put an end to it. From now on, it would be just him and Bronwyn. He would send the others home and protect them from the wave of destruction that seemed to follow him everywhere he went. Syler's head snapped up at the sound of someone approaching. In a flash, his hand went to the hilt of his sword, but quickly relaxed when he saw that it was just his wife. She approached without a word, but the expression on her faced was anything but silent. With a sigh, he moved over a few inches to give her the room to sit next to him on the rock. For a time, they sat together in silence, but he knew that would not last forever. Sure enough, Bronwyn said, "Vekla is recovering, and the rest of the men will survive." "That is good," replied Syler noncommittally. It was good that they would live and that there would be less blood on his hands, but that did not truly concern him anymore. She noticed the lack of interest and asked, "What is wrong? And don't say 'nothing' because I know you well enough to see you are troubled." After a few moments to form the right words, Syler said, "Too many people are dying because of me. It has to stop. I cannot keep having all of these people suffering because of what I am doing or because I want to find my sister. I was the one who made an oath to protect her, not them. I should be the only one who suffers for it." Bronwyn's voice rose in indignation, "And what of me?" "You most of all," he replied. "You have suffered enough because of me." He lifted a hand to stop her protest. "I am not saying we should leave each other. We are bound together for the rest of our lives and I would have it no other way. However, I can minimize the number of people who suffer because of my actions. I can start by sending those Krue and Lamastus home. Enough of them have fallen already, no more need to join them." His words faded away into the darkening evening. It took nearly a minute before Bronwyn responded. When she spoke, her words were calm and carefully selected. "I will never leave you, Syler. Everything I have suffered has been worth it to be with you and I would suffer it all again if I had to." "I know," murmured Syler. He had known she felt this way, but that had only made things worse. Her suffering was because of him and that broke his heart. He could not block the image of her broken and abused body after rescuing her from the Temple tower. He did not understand why the Elements, the Spirits, or whatever Immortals watched over them would allow someone so kind and gentle to suffer so much for no fault of her own. Bronwyn continued in her calm, low voice, this time with a little more urgency. "Those men back there follow you because they want to, not because they had to. They fought to earn the right to join you. They knew the dangers and rode out anyway." "It doesn't matter." Syler's voice was quivering as all of the pent up feelings of helplessness, guilt, and remorse threatened to overcome him. "I will not let them die for me even if they want to. I am going to go back and tell them to go home. They have families of their own. How can I ever look at Karusa knowing that others lost someone from their family so that I could save her?" "Because you have to," replied Bronwyn quietly. "You have to make the hard decisions and fight the battles. You are the Master of Magic, the world needs you." "No," he snapped. "The world doesn't need me. All I do is get people killed. Hundreds have died because of me, how can I ever accept that?" He felt a hand on his shoulder and would have shrugged it off if he had the energy at this moment. He was tired, worn down by the blood he had shed and seen spilled. "How can I go on?" he asked. "I am a blacksmith. That is all I ever wanted to be, not a soldier and certainly not a leader. All I ever wanted was to find a woman to love and to live in peace." His vision blurred and he felt a cold tear trail down his cheek. "I never wanted to go to war, Bronwyn. I never wanted to be part of a battle or to become a leader and send men to their deaths. I never wanted to have a man's warm blood dripping though my fingers, or to hack a man's head off. The only thing I wanted to strike was hot steel or maybe, one day, some silver or gold." He flung his arms out emphatically and vigorously proclaimed, "I didn't want some damned Immortal to decide that I was some magical savior of mankind. I didn't want a demented clan of Krue to decide that I was their new leader. I didn't want to see my country destroyed and my friends and family torn apart. I didn't want to lead attacks on priests or charge into battle against Angvardi. I never wanted you or anyone else to get hurt. I didn't want any of this." His arms fell to his side and he let out a long, weary sigh as whatever energy his last outcry gave him faded into the cold night air. "I am tired, Bronwyn. I am so very tired of the fighting and the worry and the blood and the pain. Ever since I marched away from home to fight the Easterners, I have had little but suffering, grief, worry, and death haunting me at every step. I want it to go away. I want to go away with you and Karusa and just disappear into the mountains. I can build us a house and we can live there in peace. Nobody else needs to die." Bronwyn nodded to herself, stood up, and glared down at him. "Are you finished yet?" she said in a cold voice that made him blink in surprise as he lifted his head to meet her gaze. "What?" "I said, 'are you finished yet?'" she repeated with equal harshness in her voice. "Are you finished feeling sorry for yourself? Are you finished wishing that what is wasn't? Are you ready to return to being a man instead of a crying boy?" Syler's mouth dropped. "Why are you—?" "Because the Syler I fell in love with was a man, not a boy," she interrupted harshly. "Because the Syler I saw break through my cell door was a man, and so was the Syler I saw face his Elements and save me from that curse. The Syler I saw stand up in the Inthadaeka against people who wanted him dead was not weak or hesitant, but a leader. The Syler I knew did what he had to in order to survive and to protect me. Are you ready to become that Syler?" "But why—" "Because it is your destiny, Syler," she answered. "You have no choice in the matter, not unless you want to curl up into a ball and die." "I led those men into a trap and some of them died for it," said Syler morosely. "Yes, you did," she retorted. "You made a mistake and men died. It is tragic, but it is what happens in war." "I don't want to be in a war," protested Syler. "That is unfortunate, my love, because we are in a war. It doesn't matter if you want to be in it or not. You cannot control what comes against you, only how you handle it. It is not fair, it is not right, but it is what is. You can either stand up against it like a man or cower and hide like a boy." Her voice softened slightly. "Do you think I wanted to be a caetos kvastal? Do you think I wanted to have horrible visions of terrible things I could not change? Do you think it was easy to have nightmares that none of my friends or family could understand? Do you think I wanted to be cut off from my tribe, left alone even in a crowd? I did not choose that to happen to me, but at least I know that I cannot run from it." She gently grasped his head in both of her hands and held his chin up. "These things that were done to us were cruel, I know. Our fate is not an easy one and we will suffer for it. I do not know what the future has in store for you, Syler, but I doubt that it will be enjoyable. No matter what, though, you must not turn against it. People have died around you and many more will die in the future and it will be because of you. I know that if you do not fight and if those people do not die, then all of us will die. You cannot change prophecy, Syler. Prophecy has stated that you are the one who will fight against the Coming Darkness and that without you, all of us will be consumed by it." A slight moan escaped Syler's lips. Before he could open his mouth to answer, Bronwyn shook his head. "Listen to me, Syler. Do you want me to die?" "What? Of course I don't!" he exclaimed. She released his head and took two steps back. "Then why do you want to give up? Is it because the road is hard, or because you are a coward?" "I am not a coward," protested Syler. "Then stop sitting here in the dark while crying your eyes out and feeling sorry for yourself. You are a strong man, Syler, I have seen it. You are having a hard time, I understand that. Unfortunately for you, neither of us can survive you breaking down. "Don't you start talking, let me finish. People know who you are now, Syler. There is no going back. No matter how far you run, people will find you. Do you think it is a coincidence that we met? Do you think that it is happenstance that you met Growald, Vekla, and Lord Saekoris? Those three were prophesied to meet you and help you. They did not need to seek you out: you found them even without meaning to. You could run to the ends of Teladia and they would still find you. Why? Because it is prophesied and you can't break prophecy." "You may be right," Syler begrudgingly admitted. "I have seen things that should not be possible for one of my position. I have a gift, but like all who can touch magic, they must learn and develop it. I have spoken to Vekla a little about this and she confirmed that my visions are far beyond where they should be. She doesn't know enough to tell me more, but that was enough to terrify me." Syler hadn't known that the two of them had talked about Bronwyn's seer abilities. He wondered what else the two of them had spoken of. Despite her seeming willingness to help him, he still didn't completely trust Vekla. At the least, she was willing to do things he didn't agree with as she showed by brutally murdering people who just might have been a threat to him. "I don't know anything about your visions." It wasn't very helpful, but that was all he could muster. "That isn't the point," she chastised. "The point is that things are happening that you cannot escape. It is not just anyone who can enter the Spirit's realm alone, yet you did it. You are special and, even though it is a cruel fate, you must face it. Be the man that I know you are and not a cowardly boy crying that life is unfair." "And what of the others? Their friends died for my mistake. What makes you think they will even want to follow me?" he asked, hoping that she didn't have an answer. Bronwyn let out a brief laugh and pointed behind him. "Look at them. Do they look angry?" Syler couldn't help himself but to turn around. When he did, he saw the glow of a small campfire with figures roaming about the clearing. Now that he was paying attention, he could hear the faint sounds of laughter. The wind shifted and his nose detected the scent of cooking meat. This surprised him because he had been expecting they would be quietly nursing their wounds or, at the least, cursing him and preparing to leave. "I don't understand," he whispered. "Of course you don't, and that is the problem." He turned and gave her a look of confusion. "What do you mean?" She crouched down in front of him and her voice softened. "They are Krue, Syler. They live to serve and fight. More importantly, they believe in you. They know the important part you will play in the future. They don't expect you to be perfect because you don't have to be. Nobody is perfect, nobody. They know you will make mistakes, but they believe you will be made stronger for it. They are willing to sacrifice themselves to your mistakes so that you can learn from them and keep their families and friends alive." She put her hand over his heart and whispered softly, "Syler, I believe in you. You are suffering now, I understand, but you must get through this. I cannot say that I know what you are feeling, but I do know that if you don't put it aside and accept your fate, all of us will die. I can't make the choice for you, but know that I stand with you whatever you decide, no matter how long or short that journey is." She kissed his cheek and added, "When you are ready, come back to the camp. Your men are strong, but they need to see you being strong with them." She left him there in the dark to wrestle with his choice. Syler sat there for a long time. He was tired of the fighting and he had no desire to lead anyone. He wanted only peace and safety for those he loved. He had no love of bloodshed and had no desire for power. Those things only caused problems and consumed people. They were a burden that he would rather do without. That could not change because that was who he was. But he also knew that sometimes, people had to do things they did not want to do. As much as he hated it, he knew deep down that he had no choice at all. No matter what he wanted, his fate was sealed and to violate it would bring about consequences that were too terrible to bear. His oaths to Crusos could not be broken. He wasn't sure what the Element would do, but he had no doubt that the Immortal could make life very miserable for him should he go back on his word. The vision of Bronwyn's battered body having her soul ripped out by Crusos still haunted him at night. His life was not his own. He had to do things that he did not want to do, and it only angered him. What had he done to deserve this curse? Whom had he offended among the Elements that warranted such ill fate? It was said that the Elements sought a balance between the deeds of Mortals and meted out punishment or blessings as it suited them. Where there was good, there also had to be evil. The rewards might present themselves instantly or generations in the future. Syler wondered what good and pure things his ancestors had done to warrant such horrible fate upon him. The truth was, if he could be honest with himself, that he was afraid of what the future may hold for him. A little less than six months ago, he was living peacefully in Master Fitno's house. He worked in the forge and knew everything about his life. There were no mysteries about the future, just iron and steel that needed working. All he had to do was what he was told to do and that mostly entailed working hard. It was the same thing every day and every week. He didn't need to worry about the future, only the present. Then war came, and all of that was destroyed. He had seen and done things that he could not ever have imagined seeing or doing six months ago. He had faced men who wanted to kill him. He had faced men whom he wanted to kill. He had seen brutality. He had committed brutality. He had done terrible things already, things that he could not undo. Worse than all that was the fact that he didn't know what else he would have to do. He didn't know what prophecy preordained for him. He didn't know how many more men he would have to see killed or how many more he would have to kill himself. He didn't know what sort of suffering he and those he loved would experience. He didn't know what was going to happen and that terrified him more than anything. Why should he hide here, alone and afraid? He had never shied away from his fear before. His father had always told him to face his fear and overcome it. He needed to accept the misfortunes fate had heaped upon him and make do with what he had. He needed to confront his fear and do what need to be done to ensure that his sister and wife were safe. Too many had died already for him to do anything else. Perhaps it was time to make sure those people didn't die for nothing. Sitting here pining about things that could not be was not going to help him. He needed to accept the misfortunes fate had heaped upon him and make do with what he had. Too many had died already for him not to do just that. Perhaps it was time to make sure those people didn't die for nothing. He stood up and shook the dirt off of his pants. The Elements be damned, the Angvardi be damned, and the Krue be damned; he wanted to be left alone! If they wanted to tangle with him, he would find some way to make sure that each suffered for destroying his life. When he got close to the camp, he made sure his head was held high and his gait steady. As Bronwyn said, they needed to see him being strong, not sulking. He had already done enough of that and it was time to get the job done. When he caught his wife's eyes, she gave him a small smile. The others reacted to him exactly as they had the previous nights as though nothing had happened. For that, he was grateful beyond words.
  21. I wonder if it has something to do with China trying to get revenge on me for using a VPN and accessing an evil Western site like this.
  22. After a greatly long absence from writing, my muses visited me once more and I was able to work through another chapter. It is a short one, but it is finished at long last. This is actually an earlier chapter than what I posted before. In looking at things, I realized that I needed to get Alltis' storyline going and much of it takes place before Syler returns to Kruish territory. I had to give those things time to mature, so I needed to go back and move things around again. This was an interesting chapter because it was the first time I wrote from Alltis' perspective. Originally, she was going to be a minor character that just kinda was along for the ride. As I continued to write and thought about it more, I realized it would be great to have another leading female character. I have a few (Bronwyn, Vekla, and Raella) but I wanted more to offset the overwhelming number of men here. Alltis is going to have her own important and unique story to tell later on, but I needed to start it now. Unlike her husband, she is a strong woman and I wanted to give her a chance to shine. The next chapter (new Chapter 4) is going to show that more. I do hope that my muses stay with me long enough to get more chapters out and running, but I cannot promise that. China has a way of sapping away time and energy. ______________________________________ Chapter 3 A Storyteller, a Wife, and a Lord Why haven't the Krue ever marched on their neighbors? Few would question their ability to crush any army the Sei or Kutii could raise against them, but yet they do not invade. It is not known exactly why the Krue have not expanded their control over others. We can only be grateful that they have not. — Wars of the West, by Magister Tind Keldin Thwrud Subeleth November 1 Life in a Kruish city was rarely a dull affair. The Krue, despite being stoic and solemn on the battlefield, were actually a boisterous and good natured people. They had major celebrations almost every week that usually involved friendly contests, hasuan riding, and great volumes of alcohol drank in front of massive bonfires. Each week's celebrations honored something in Kruish culture that they revered or cherished. This week was storytelling, and if there was anything that Havert Jakaras loved more than avoiding work, it was avoiding work while listening to or telling stories. He had been so excited at the news that this week's celebration was focused on his favorite pass time that he had immediately demanded to be part of it. Alltis had known it was a bad idea to let her husband get so distracted and had tried to persuade him to focus more on his duties. Unfortunately for his wife, Havert was the Gaelkadrada of Thwrud and what the Gaelkadrada wanted, the Gaelkadrada got. Alltis didn't know what had possessed Syler Penion to name her husband as his regent, but she didn't count it among the man's best choices. She had a great deal of respect for Syler and how he was willing to sacrifice everything for his wife, but she didn't always agree with his approach to handling a situation. The man tended to let his emotions get the better of him. In anger, he made rash decisions that led to unnecessary conflict. Out of a sense of loyalty and friendship, he put his best friend into a position of leadership. As much as she loved Havert, she knew he was no ruler. He didn't take much seriously and abhorred actual work. "Politics," he had admitted one night, "is ta worst, most horrid sorta torture a man could suffer." That had been his belief even before he had been put in charge of an entire clan consisting of hundreds of thousands of people. Despite his failings as a leader and misgivings about politics, Havert was a loyal friend. When Syler had asked him to rule in his stead as Gaelkadrada, he had jumped at the chance to help his friend. The problem was that he really had no idea what he was getting himself into. If she had one thing going in her favor, it was that the Thwrudil hadn't had any idea, either. Alltis, having been of what amounted to a lesser noble’s house among the Kutii, had been taught how to behave among that class of people. She hadn’t been taught to lead or make the hard decisions, but she was an observant woman and had seen enough to at least have a basic idea of what was going on. Therefore, it fell upon her to try to control whatever damage her husband was doing and to make sure things didn’t fall apart while Syler was gone. At their first court, the nobles and schemers of Thwrud had been baffled at the seemingly naïve and good natured redhead who was their new ruler. After the frequently moody and sometimes harsh rule Syler had given them over the last month, they had expected Havert to be of like temperament. While Alltis had been panicking at his side as he committed blunder after blunder, the Krue had been left so confused and taken aback that the idea of taking advantage of the situation didn't even dawn upon them. Despite that, she knew that there was only so much that they would take before someone took action. So when he had inadvertently insulted Lord Kuloth, lord of the village of Thyond, Alltis had assumed the worst. The day before, Lord Kuloth had approached Havert at the end of the day requesting to present an urgent matter before Havert. Havert, wanting to eat rather than continue on, begged off and promised to attend to the matter the next session. When Lord Kuloth returned early on the next day, Havert had already become distracted from his duties by the thoughts of riding a hasuan through the surrounding woods with a small cadre of young warriors. Instead of keeping his word and listening to what Lord Kuloth had to say, he dismissed the hall early and went out to ride. It might not have been deliberate on his part, but Alltis knew that to promise to hold an audience then to back down on it was a grave insult. The night before, she had asked about Lord Kuloth and discovered that he was a man of not insignificant power in the eastern territories of the clan. She could hardly contain her shock when, instead of calling out Havert, Lord Kuloth simply smiled and bowed in acknowledgment of Havert's decision. It left her befuddled, as did how everyone else in the hall simply acquiesced to his immature decision without complaint. At that moment, Alltis realized that the Krue feared her husband because they simply didn't understand him. The Krue had never been adventurous, nor did they particularly like that which they weren't familiar with. They preferred tradition and things they knew over the unknown. When they had Syler ruling over them, it quickly became clear what type of man he was. Syler was almost always in a bad mood due to the pain from his leg and his fear for his sister. The Krue had learned to walk lightly around him after he slew Lord Yaegran in a direct challenge on his first day as Inthaley, the Clan Lord. Those that didn't fear Syler feared his most staunch and dangerous supporter: Vekla Saekoris. Alltis suspected that the sorceress had done something behind the scenes to instill even more terror in any who might challenge Syler. What had prevented her from coming to this conclusion earlier was that her husband was nothing like Syler. While Syler was reluctant to take on his role as the leader of Thwrud, he had done so seriously. He was firm, decisive, and efficient. Havert took this role excitedly, but didn't truly understand what went into ruling and treated it all as one big excuse not to have to work. He saw being the leader as something fun, not something that was dangerous and could get both of them killed. With her husband content to eat, drink, and have a good time, it fell upon her to navigate the steps of the Dance of Intrigue and make sure everything ran smoothly. Her parents might have been minor nobles in her own village back in Kutiim, but this was a matter far beyond her and she knew it. She had only a small amount of experience in how to handle politics, but it was more than her husband had. She tried to reinterpret her husband's words and orders as much as possible to minimize any insults or ignorance they bestowed, but it was difficult since some of those in the room understood a little of the Common Tongue and could discern that she was not accurately translating what Havert said. The Spirits had smiled upon her when they sent Lord Fedas Horadin to her. Lord Horadin had been one of the first to embrace Syler as Inthaley and since then been a staunch ally of his. Syler had quickly come to trust the man, but more importantly, so had Vekla. As a man in his mid-thirties, Lord Horadin was considered somewhat young to be in his station, but that didn't make him a fool. In fact, having this position at this age bespoke an insight and cunning that rarely visited young men. He had realized what it took two days for Alltis to see almost before Syler had left the city. The first night of Havert's regency, Lord Horadin had approached them after dinner and offered his services as advisor. She saw in him an ally and a chance to survive. It took only a few words from her for Havert to agree. Early the next morning, while Havert was eating breakfast, Lord Horadin had returned and sought her out. For the next hour, they strategized about the day's events and how to handle things. That second day went far better than the first with him there to cover for Havert's blunders. It helped that most of the Krue didn't understand the Common Tongue, much less Havert's eccentric way of speaking. The two of them were able to head most of the problems off by simply rewording what Havert said. They had been able to mitigate most of the problems together through his ties and influence. Lord Horadin had a good share of allies and loyal supporters among the Kruish leyiingant, or nobility. Together, the two of them had managed to prevent any major problem from arising, but she wasn't completely sure that it was working entirely. There were more and more veiled looks between some of the nobles that she didn't like. Now, after what happened with Lord Kuloth, they needed to discuss what to do about their current situation. They were sitting around the feast table in the main hall of Syler’s new estate with a few refreshments the servants insisted on bringing to them. Havert was already in bed after having exhausted himself riding hasuan with the warriors. Alltis finally asked outright about something that had been disturbing her from the start. "I don't understand why they just stand there and do nothing. I don't claim to know much about politics or Kruish honor, but I find it hard to believe that nobody there has seen the weakness Havert has and isn't taking action." Lord Horadin smiled and clasped his hands in front of his chest. "You sees, bwet leya," he explained with a crafty smile, "the leyiinga think that Ley Jakaras is testing them. They believe that he does be like Ley Penion, but is conceals this to see who is against his. If we does play on this thing and continue, they will be too unwilling to act for fearing that Ley Jakaras will change to Ley Penion and kill them all." He might not have a complete grasp on the Common Tongue, but it was a better grasp than hers of Kruish and it was of value to her. Between the two of them, they were able to bridge the language barrier that her husband represented. Syler had been able to fare better with Bronwyn at his side since her Kruish was far better. "So you want me to hint that Havert is holding his true nature back?" she asked. "This is true. You serve well to make them believe he is prepared a list of people he plan to behead so they will not dare speak poor of him." The first reaction she had to the idea of her amicable and fun loving husband ordering executions was to frown. Havert would never order someone executed, at least not for something like gossiping or plotting. He didn’t quite understand how dangerous such whispers were to a man in his position. After a few seconds, she began to consider what Lord Horadin had said in the larger scheme of things. "We need to bluff, but Havert doesn't know about it," she stated. Lord Horadin smiled as he nodded, "Yes, you sees the problem. Ley Jakaras is not a hard man, but he must be to surviving among the People. If they see between his personality and see that he is not a hard man like Ley Penion, then they will turn on him." It was a dangerous dance to dance, one that could end with all three of them dead. If the Krue found out that Havert really was the simple, bumbling man that they saw, they would act without hesitation and one or the other of them would take over. "How do we dance this dance?" she asked. The man smiled, "So you haves heard of the Kavero Denfelen." She nodded, "I have indeed heard of the Dance of Intrigue. It is one of the few things that binds all people of all nations." "Then we may not being as hopeless as I thought," Lord Horadin said with a grim smile. "What are we to do about Havert? I fear that, while he is a good man, he is simply not able to survive the Dance." The Kruish noble hesitated with an answer. After glancing both ways, he stepped closer and said quietly, "We must keep him distracted. I believes that, with you to helping me, I can take rule until Ley Penion returns." Alltis was instantly on guard after hearing those words. "You want to take over?" Lord Horadin shook his head emphatically. His voice rose drastically to his feed and terror brought a sheen of sweat to his brow. "Fao! No! I do not wish to taked power. Ley Penion is ka Majiyae Oretezu, I could never lift a hand against his. I am sweared to serve him as long as I do live. Before him, I bow; behind him, I stand." "Okay, I believe you," Alltis hissed, trying to calm him down before someone came running to check on them. "I do not like this notion of undermining my husband. It is dishonest and treacherous." "It might be the only way," warned Lord Horadin. "If he make more blunders and if the leyiinga find out that he is not cunning or testing them, they will take action and all of us will die. The Krue only following strength, that is our way. If Ley Jakaras shows no strength, they will not follow him." She knew this, but wasn't going to betray her husband like this. He might not be the best for the job, but Syler had trusted the regency to his closest friend, not to Lord Horadin. Syler clearly trusted Havert to rule as he would have wanted or he wouldn't have put him in charge. Even if it was a poor decision, it was his to make, not hers and certainly not Lord Horadin's. She shook her head and said firmly, "No, Syler put Havert in this position, we must respect that. I will not betray my husband nor my friend. If you claim to support Syler, you will take no actions to gain power for yourself." The other man gently tugged on his beard in frustration. "I does not like what you say, but I wills not take action withouts you. I wish you to thinks on what I have said. We cannot trust that we can keeping things under control with Ley Jakaras in the seat. All work we do will be undone by a bad word from him." "Then we must work extra hard to insulate him and shield him from problems. He is easily distracted and that can give us the benefit of handling things on our own." His eyes narrowed. "How is that any difference from making me gaelkadrada? If we is doing all that the work, we are taking his power." "No, he will have the full authority of regent," Alltis explained. "We cannot issue orders against him, but we can deal with matters without him being bothered with them. If there are issues that require his direct authority, then we can guide him." "I am fail to seeing the difference." It was a thin line to be sure, but it was the only one she could make with a clean conscious. She couldn't betray her husband completely and take the power that was given to him and bestow it upon another. She might be able to bend things a little and work around her husband, but she couldn't outright strip him of his authority. As much as Havert liked to play and have fun, he was genuinely thrilled with the trust that Syler gave him and was trying to do his best. With a sad sigh, she said, "He is the gaelkadrada, always remember that. His is the ultimate authority until Syler returns. If we can guide him, then that is good. If we can take care of matters without his needing to be involved, that is better. No matter what, though, he must not know that we are working like this. He genuinely wants to do right by Syler in this matter. To let him know of the disaster he can bring upon us will devastate him and crush his spirit." She lifted her chin defiantly, "I will not allow his spirit to be broken. Is that understood?" Lord Horadin's face was grave and his frown spoke to his feelings on the matter, but he did not argue. "There will be a time when you will wishes that you had taken my offering. You are his friend and he trusting you, so I will do the same. I fear that this will brings about us much hardship, but I will not openly rebel against Inthaley Penion by opposing you." With an accepting nod, Alltis shifted in her chair. Her pregnancy was now showing to the discerning eye and it was beginning to get more and more difficult to find a comfortable position as she adapted to the changes in her belly. "Now, what should we do about Lord Kuloth? Do you know what he wants?" Lord Horadin sighed and took a sip of wine. "I fears that he will not be easy to address. His lands is being raided by thieves and raiding men and he believes that they be the work of Ley Maveris of ka Larossi inthal." Sensing his doubt, Alltis asked, "And what do you think?" With a shrug, he replied, "I be not sure. Ley Kuloth has much hate for the Larossi. We have war with them many times and Thyond has been harmed much in those battles. It mays be the Larossi, it mays be nothing more than cowardly men taking from others." "Either way, what can we do about this?" "Ley Jakaras must sees him and maybe we give a sukithat to find these mens and kill them." She didn’t quite understand what he said, but recognized the second part of the word as being related to the military. "How many is that?" "Dalmabwes, bwet leya, that is one hundred warriors on hasuan." "Can we afford to send those troops from Thwrud?" She wasn't skilled in the ways of the army and wasn't sure if sending troops away was a good thing or even if they had the men to spare. "We have much warriors in Thwrud, more than any other place. A sukithat would not be missed for a week or two. It should not take more than those times to deal with problems." "And if they turn out to be Larossi?" That would not be a good thing at all. She didn't want to be in a war, but she definitely didn't want to be in a war with Havert leading the men. Her idealistic husband was more likely as not to ride out in a glorious but pointless charge thinking that it was one of his beloved stories. "Then we kills them and wait for Ley Penion to come and destroy Laross." He said that as though it were no big thing, but something told Alltis that it was no easy thing he said. "Let us hope that it does not come to that," she said. "It is late and I believe that Havert will begin to wonder where I am shortly. It is time for me to retire for the evening. Thank you, Lord Horadin, for your wisdom and insight." As she stood up, her hands caressed the small but growing bulge of her stomach without thinking. Lord Horadin gave her a brief but formal bow and said, "Of course, I wishing you a pleasant night and will see you in the morning for the celebrations." It was not going to be that easy, she knew. Things were going to get very, very nasty if the Larossi were taking advantage of Lord Saekoris' death to raid Thwrudil territory, it could very easily lead to war. She had no true notion of what war was like between Krue, but her own experience with war against the Angvardi had left her with no desire to ever see it again. Teladia had never been a peaceful place, but now it was looking darker and darker every day. War was everywhere and there were rumors that the Coming Darkness was rapidly approaching. It was hardly the time to be bringing a baby into the world, but the Spirits had made that decision. She could do nothing but accept that and pray that she could do her part to hold off the fighting for as long as possible. She walked up the stairs and down the hall into the room that had been given to the two of them. It was quite luxurious, far better than anything she had experienced in Kutiim. Not even their village leader had such a nice place to live. She didn't care much about that, though. She had been content back in Kubei in the small place that had been assigned to her by the Haresu conquerors. It had been so nice and simple without any of the unnecessary frivolousness that preoccupied the minds of so many vain women. After shooing away a maidservant, she entered the room silently and found Havert sound asleep in their bed. It took only a few minutes to splash some warm water on her face, change into her sleeping gown, and to make sure the fire had wood. It was unnecessary with the servants here, but old habits died hard and it was getting cold enough to need the warmth. With one last stretch to try to relieve the tension in her lower back, she slid into bed next to her husband. Her eyes had adjusted enough to the dim firelight so that she could see the details of Havert's face. When he slept, he seemed so much at peace that she envied him. Her husband, for all of his good natured eagerness, was innocent to many of the hard ways of life. He did not accept burdens and enjoyed relaxing and drinking. He wasn't a drunkard, but he liked ale a little too much for her taste. She reached out and gently stroked his cheek. His beard was only now filling in and becoming respectable which was quite important. Beards among the Kutii were a sign of maturity and manhood. Men shaved their beards after suffering great loss or shame. Among the Krue, all men wore beards unless they had achieved some great deed which then warranted them showing their face. To show one's face without permission was a grave insult that could lead to bloodshed. When he first came to her door in Kubei, she hadn't quite known what to make of him. He had been so kind and, in his own awkward way, noble that she had thought it was nothing more than an act. He did have the respect not to lay with her for a week until she had had enough time to realize that he really wasn't acting. She had not loved him at first, but did her duty as required by the occupiers. It didn't take too long for him to win her over with his silly smile and warm laugh. She wasn't sure how it was with the others who had been forcibly matched with Sei men, but she had come to love Havert with all of her heart. He wasn't the sort of man her parents would have chosen, but he was a good man who cared about her back. She remembered the look on his face when she told him that he was going to be a father. At first, she thought he would be afraid or worse, angry, but he had surprised her. His eyes had widened and his mouth dropped in shock, but that shock quickly turned into the most genuine laugh of sheer joy she had ever heard. He grabbed her in a giant hug and, with strength she didn't know he possessed, he twirled her around the room as though she were a child. Then, as was so very like him, his cheeks reddened and he put her down with an apology on his lips and concern in his eyes. He had been afraid that he had hurt their baby and looked as though he would break into tears until, with a laugh of her own, she assured him that she was fine. He had been so happy that day that he soon raced out the door all but shouting the news to any who would listen. Fortunately, she had managed to get to her parent's house and tell them before he burst in breathless and exhausted. Despite him being a Sei, her parents knew he was good to her and, in thanks, offered a great feast in their honor. It was that feast that nearly turned to disaster with Growald and Syler brawling in their yard. That event had led to an entirely new series of happenings that changed them all forever. It was growing late and she needed to be at her best tomorrow to deal with Lord Kuloth. As much as she would have loved to bask in pleasant memories, sleep was calling. She kissed Havert gently on his forehead before closing her eyes and allowing sleep to overtake her.
  23. Oh, make no mistake, I am quite active and reading posts. I have paused working on the actual novel for a while because I moved from America to China and had internet problems, adjustment issues, and a great deal of work to do setting up for the school year (I am teaching). Now, things are mostly in place, I have a more stable internet connection, and things are beginning to run smoothly. I have more time to respond, but not yet enough to start writing (which usually takes a few uninterrupted hours which are hard to do now). This is NOT the most updated version, not by a long shot. In fact, if you have only read this, I suggest you stop now and go on over to a different topic. I went through a rewrite that drastically altered or expanded certain parts of the story, so much that the material at the end here is pushed back into Book 3. I suggest that, if you are serious about reading it, you check out this topic: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=46770 Even that is a bit outdated as the early chapters were edited a deal after feedback. The most up to date version is likely found on DeviantArt. I submitted things here first and then updated them for DA after problems or typos were pointed out. That is the link to the Prologue which also has all the chapter links for the rest of the book. Each of the later chapters has the links to the two before and two after, so you don't always need that page. I changed a significant deal of things and added new chapters while taking away from others. At this point, I had a far better idea where I was taking things and knew what else to include. Things that didn't work were removed, things that people suggested were implemented. I tried to balance things a little better for the secondary major characters while explaining a little more about the world and added descriptions of the environment. It is still only a second draft, but it is far more rounded. After I finish the second book's first draft, I will go back and polish the first one even further, but that is in the future and I don't foresee major changes like I did in the second draft. To answer your questions: Lamastus is 25, Syler is 22 (in second draft). Lamastus is actually quite a good looking guy with a sort of Spanish (not Latino) look of tall, dark, and handsome. The difference between the two is not one of age, but of experience. Lamastus has been a soldier since he was 15, Syler has never had to live that sort of life. Syler stayed almost all of his life around Sandrin, Lamastus has traveled all over Angvard and been in multiple combat situations. Perhaps I will revisit that scene and see if it needs some adjustment (originally, Syler was only like 19). Most importantly, after reviewing the second draft, I discovered that that line isn't even in there (it was one of those many things that got changed up). The Vision: The arm that was cut off was the arm that was cutting into her and it was a pretty powerful and clean cut (Syler is not weak, he is a freaking blacksmith). There may have been a little more pressure added, but the knife would fall out once the pressure from the man's muscles vanished. Sure, there would be some damage, but it wouldn't have jammed through the bone or anything.
  24. It is possible that your e-mail provider marked Jnet as being spam. Sometimes, they renew or update their auto spam lists or criteria (like sending many near identical messages) and block them.
  25. I have no problems with some ads, but like Ian, I don't want it to be the main feature of every page.
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