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For Queen and Evermeet!

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For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri May 04, 2012 5:50 am

The elves of Faerun have had many defenders through the long years. They have held many names. The most famous of these were the two armies of Cormanthyr. The Akh'Velahrn and the Akh'Faern. The Armies of Arms and the Army of Magic. Many knights, mages and bladesingers have found their way into these noble services and their names have been entered into the Tome of Heroes.

There is another army though. One that does not seek glory. One that promising young warriors did not seek out. The N'vaelahr. The Shadow Soldiers. The one that most elves don't even know exists.


Few now can comprehend a time when Amlaruil Moonflower did not sit on the throne of Evermeet. Few also can picture Zaor Moonflower without her by his side. However, there was such a time. When the King's Blade first revealed itself and ascended Zaor to king, The elven island was in chaos. In an effort to keep civil war from tearing the elven refuge apart, despite carrying his heir . . . Amlaruil stepped aside and Zaor married Lydi’aleera Amarillis.

This union did not have the effect they had hoped for. The Amarillis’ wanted the throne for their own clan, the Gold elves wanted no king of moon elf descent at all to rule them. Zaor, her beloved, wanted only Amlaruil.

Ranger. Warrior. King. Zaor was the most stubborn male that the Grand Mage had ever known. If she could not rule with him, Amlaruil was intent on protecting him . . . and their children.

Some tasks were daunting even for high mages.
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1004 DR : Year of the Oracle’s Carcass

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri May 04, 2012 8:15 pm

Exhaustion.

That was the only word that came to mind as the Grand Mage of the Towers of Evermeet collapsed in her chair. Tears that she’d refused to shed now dampened her perfect cheeks. Tonight had been a close one.

Luck alone had saved the king’s life this night. It was the third such attempt since he’d been crowned king 115 years prior. She feared the next time they wouldn’t be so lucky.

A gentle knock on her door startled the mage as she quickly attempted to compose herself.

“Enter.” She whispered, and the door swung open. Nakiasha, the green elf sorceress who had served as her mentor and confidant for years entered.

“I just heard . . . Is all well?” the older elf asked in concern.

“Zaor lives . . . “ Amlaruil answered the relief evident in her voice. “Though I doubt it will be some time before I consider things to be ‘well.“
”Was the fool male out on his own again?” Nakiasha said in annoyance.

“He is your king.” Amlaruil admonished quickly. Then with a slight smile she answered “Yes, he was.”

“What is the point of his guards and armies if the man doesn’t make use of them?” The elder elf wondered aloud.

“He does when it suits him,” The high mage defended her king quickly. “Just, not often enough.”

“Rangers,” the green elf said with barely disguised respect. “They don’t like being caged by the trappings of society. They aren’t meant for court life.”

“The Seldarine think differently.” Amlaruil reminded. Despite the many opinions otherwise, the moonblades had spoken. Zaor was king. At least for as long as he lived . . .

“If he won’t keep himself safe . . . then you know what you must do.” Nakiasha said with a grin. “You’ll have to do it for him.”

Amlaruil laughed sharply at that. “I try.”

The sorceress’ face took on a hard look. “Try harder.” Few spoke to the Grand Mage in such a direct manner. Even those she considered friends. Nakiasha had long earned the right, but rarely exercised it. “He’s the hope of all of us.”

Amlaruil nodded thoughtfully, “What do you suggest?”

“I know someone you should speak to.” She glanced around to make certain they were alone. She raised her eyebrows in silent question.

Amlaruil’s eyes narrowed. The thought that they were anything but secure in the Grand Mage’s own quarters in her own towers was insulting. Still, caution prevails where pride does not. She closed her eyes and fell into herself. Yes. She could feel the weave and see the wards that had been put in place to ensure privacy. Some ancient, some added by herself.

“Speak your mind freely Nakiasha.”

The green elf sat and looked at her formal pupil intently as if trying to read her soul. They were much alike, each having been touched by the Seldarine, though even Nakiasha could see that they favored Grand Mage above all others.

“There is an elf you should speak with. His name is Strohm. Strohm Nightstar. Formerly of Myth Drannor. I believe he can help . . . ”
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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon May 07, 2012 7:48 pm

*************************************************************************


The next day, the silver-haired moon elf found himself in the fabled Tower of the Moon. The summons had been mysterious and he couldn’t imagine what the high mages wanted with him. His shock was complete when he was greeted not by any random high mage... but the Grand Mage herself.

Quickly he dropped to one knee in respect and sputtered “Lady Amlaruil... How can I be of Service?”

Quickly she waved him to his feet and did not answer him until checking the wards again. Nakiasha’s story last night made her appreciate the need for secrecy.

“Do you know why I have requested your company Lord Nightstar?”

“I confess, I do not . . . ” Strohm responded carefully.

“I’m faced with terrible responsibilities Strohm . . . and I’ve been told you may have the answers . . . ”

His eyes narrowed in suspicion. “I do not know what you mean Lady Amlaruil, but I’m at your service . . . ”

It had been years since Myth Drannor and his retreat to the island refuge. In that time, few had taken serious note of him. Which was fine with him. After the Weeping War, he had grown accustomed to the quiet retirement. What could they possibly want from him that didn’t somehow involve . . .

“N’Vaelahr. Tell me about them.” The mage said in answer to his silent question.

“They don’t exist. A rumor . . . no more.”

Amlaruil’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know much about the organization . . . but I know better than that. Shadow soldiers. They supposedly saved many lives in Myth Drannor.”

“So some of the stories say . . . Others brand them traitors and meddlers.”

“What do you say?” she said unblinkingly. “What’s the truth?”

“With permission to speak freely . . . I would say it’s a dead issue. The N’Vaelahr do not exist anymore.”

“I’ve heard differently.” She said still staring. Slowly her eyes drifted down toward the green shirt covering his strong chest. Even in retirement, the former bladesinger still held the physique of a warrior. Strohm’s jaw tightened under that gaze. With a sigh, he pulled the shirt open and down far enough to show a dull green gem in the shape of Coronel Eltagrim’s personal sigil embedded in his flesh. Embedded right over his heart. Her eyes lit up at the sight.

“The N’Vaelahr were a secret organization. A small company of soldiers, rangers, and anyone else who could do the job entrusted to us. It was organized by three members of the great council of Myth Drannor when the war was at its worst. Even I do not know who did and did not know about us.” He closed up his shirt and slumped a bit in the memory.

“We specialized in information gathering . . . espionage . . . even the occasional assassination if that’s what’s would keep our people safe. Once we went so far as to broker a treaty with the drow. It . . . did not make us popular with the other elves, but it saved a lot of lives.

“It didn’t last though . . . we were literally infiltrating armies of demons . . . Some through trickery, others through polymorphs . . . We did what we could, but we took heavy losses.”

Amlaruil tried to keep her face impassive as he told his story. She found some of his exploits heroic, others distasteful. Though she had to admit... to keep Zaor alive, her children alive... and the entirety of the elven people in peace and harmony, what wouldn’t she do?

“There were never many of us . . . Just over a score I believe, but to my knowledge, I’m the last of us.” He tapped the gem under his shirt. “This used to let me communicate with the others . . . We’d pass our reports all the way back to our superiors, in my case Lord Aolis Ildacer . . . “

They spoke for hours. He seemed almost relieved to unburden his soul with the secrets he’d held for so long. Amlaruil simply listened, absorbing all the information she could from the former spy. Their methods, their goals. When he finished his tales, She presented her problems.

“Since you’ve shared your secrets with me . . . I’ll share some of my own. While it is no secret that many of the elves still miss the power of a great council. They . . . chafe under King Zaor’s authority.”

“I am not one of them milady . . . “ Strohm quickly interjected. “I knew of Zaor by reputation only from the war . . . Nothing I’ve seen since his crowning has disputed his reputation.”

“It is not his ability as king that I believe they object to . . . so much as the existence of a king. A moon elf king at that.” She was quiet for a moment then finished with the revelation. “There have been numerous attempts to assassinate him.”

Strohm was silent as he listened. His sharp mind was tossing and turning the problem over in his head. “Elves are the ones doing this . . . ” It was not a question.

“You see the problem. Evermeet is quite possibly the safest place on Toril. Between the wards, the guardians, and the blessings of the gods . . . Danger cannot reach our king. Except for what is already here.”

“You need to protect him from those closest to him... to infiltrate the leading families, find out who’s on his side, and who is not... and stop the attempts before they ever come close to him...” Again. The bladesinger merely stated facts. Not questions.

“That would be ideal. However, Zaor would never condone such actions.” Amlaruil responded. Strohm slowly grinned.

“Milady... Then you don’t tell him. Trust me... there was a reason the council never knew about us... A degree of autonomy is necessary, to do what’s right without worrying about whether the council, the king, and any general’s all agree with it.”

A quiet smile spread across the Grand mages face. Few knew that she already did have a few soldiers of her own. ‘Hidden knights’ for the ‘Hidden Queen’ was how Rennyn Aelorothi had dubbed them.

To date they had only been secret bodyguards to protect her hidden children... However... if Strohm was to be believed... they could be so much more. Her N’Vaelahr would be run differently. She wouldn’t be able to duplicate the special kirra stones that Strohm had on his chest. Ulair the Silent had kept those secrets to himself. But she did have her elfrunes to keep in contact with her agents... Slowly the details of how her personal army would be formed in her mind.

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1315 DR: The Year of Spilled Blood

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat May 12, 2012 1:56 am

Many years passed.

In that time Strohm and his hand-chosen agents foiled many an attack against the king. Unfortunately there never seemed to be enough men for the job. Soon the threats were no longer being planned and orchestrated from just the homeland. Various human nations had also taken unhealthy interests in the elven island.

What had started with a few spies in strategic places in the nobles of Evermeet’s homes, soon stretched far and wide across the realms. Unfortunately, if Strohm Nightstar had thought his squad was stretched thin during the war in Myth Drannor . . . He couldn’t believe the state they were in now.

Two of his warriors were lost this year alone. He blamed himself. As their trainer and superior, who else was there? He made mental notes that they needed to be replaced as soon as feasible. There were a few he was watching that may soon be ready for active duty. Not this year though, probably not the next either. Which meant both Thay and Cormyr were unobserved. These dark thoughts crossed his mind as he strode as quickly as he could through the ruby streets of Leuthilspar.

In the distance he could see the Moonstone Palace. Gleaming like a beacon of hope, it was the most spectacular building in a spectacular city. But Strohm did not head that direction. Truth was, despite working for Queen Amlaruil for years, he had never actually set foot in the palace. It was too dangerous.

Dangerous on many levels. If a connection was ever made between them, it could spell disaster. Knowledge that the Queen had her own private army, small as it may be, and that she’d had it even back amongst her days as Grand Mage . . . That she had assigned missions without consent from either council or king... he didn’t want to think about it. Things had been easier when she was simply the Grand Mage out to protect her people. A queen’s decisions are always second guessed. Naturally, there were rumors. Rumors of an elite guard. Agents. Minstrel tales that meant nothing.

Strohm liked being a rumor.

Soon he was in the home of an old friend and confidant Halimphor Hawksong. They were a cloistered clan, and few outsiders were allowed on the property, fortunately the Nightstars and the Hawksongs went way back. Servants issued him quickly into a fancy sitting room.

“The sun smile upon you friend.” A musical voice came from the arched doorway. Strohm grinned before even he saw his friend. Halimphor Hawksong was a moon elf of some reputation. Some exalted his magical skills as a high mage of the Tower of the Sun, others his cheery attitude that was better suited to a bard. Either way, Strohm counted himself lucky to know him as a friend.

“And to you! How goes things that I couldn’t possibly understand?” The bladesinger grinned at the old joke.

“They go as well as can be expected.” The mage said with a grimace. “I suppose you’re here for the potentials? It’s the only time I see you in Leuthilspar anymore.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“Well... Don’t know what to tell you. Plenty of younglings to choose from. Durothil’s have one, Amarillis’ have one, even the Silverspears have one at the tower right now. Shanyrria thinks any of them might have potential mixing blade and spell.”

Strohm nodded thoughtfully. Shanyrria had been training bladesingers for at least two centuries. If she said there was potential, that was high praise indeed.

“I could use two at most...” he muttered softly.

“You could probably take as many as you wanted if you stuck around a little.” the high mage sighed disapprovingly.

Strohm’s face didn’t show any of the torment he was feeling. Even to his friends he was simply head of a Bladesinger guild. A minor one at that. Halimphor continued to insist that the Griffin guild could be great, if not for it’s master’s continual negligence. Disappearing for days... weeks, sometimes months at a time was no way to train the greatest of the elven warrior-mages.

“I don’t travel as much as I used to...” Strohm said tapping his knee gently. The rapping of the hard wood was unmistakable. He’d lost it for queen and country a few years ago. Against what odds depended entirely on who he was telling the story to.

“I suppose, but somehow, I don’t think that slows you down as much you want me to think it does . . .”

The bladesinger shrugged in a noncommital fashion. He was eager to change the topic of conversation away from his failings at a cover that does its job, and onto his reason for coming here today.

“Tell me about the lads, what do you think of them?”




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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat May 12, 2012 11:02 pm

****************************************************************

The breeze whipped though his long dark hair as he cried out in frustration. He watched as the young gold elf in front of him disappeared around the bend on the stairs. Elastal Silverspear swore softly as victory slowly slipped through his fingers.

He had known that Felaern Durothil was older, faster, and stronger than he was. He had known that long before he made the foolish wager. As his breath came in rasps it became obvious that he’d be doing Felaern’s chores for a month. Stupid bet.

Suddenly inspiration hit him. Cutting hard to the left, he bolted through the unlocked door to the dormitory rooms of the female students. It was the middle of the day, and was mostly deserted. Mostly, but not completely. A shriek of surprise erupted from the pretty young gold elf maid. She was easily a decade younger than Elastal, but showed a natural talent for the arcane arts that put his own hard-earned skills to shame.

“Hiya Arcaena!” He greeted casually, as he quickly glanced around the room.

“What, are you doing in here?” She said, quickly trying to regain her composure. “You’re going to get yourself in trouble.”

“Nah.” The moon elf said dismissively. “Won’t stay long. Just needed a shortcut.” Quickly seeing the window he wanted, a mischievous grin lit his face. Yep... just as he remembered. There was a large blueleaf tree, close enough that Arcaena would watch a family of squirrels last fall. Granted, it was a bit further than he had planned.

“I take it back.” Arcaena said with wide eyes as she realized what he had planned. “Your not getting yourself in trouble, You’re going to get yourself killed!”

He quickly flashed her his winningest smile. “Nah... I don’t think so.” And without another word or thought, flung himself out the second story window.

Time seemed to stretch forever when he was airborne. He loved it. Like the world stood still between the beats of his heart. For just a moment, he thought Arcaena was right. This time he may have gone too far. But as his steady hands grasped the thick tree branches, he instinctively knew everything would be fine.

Arcaena held her breath as she watched the nimble moon elf drop, spin, and flip himself to the ground. She giggled as he finally hit the ground with sure feet and took off sprinting to the west. After turning and giving her a self-satisfied grin and wave for good measure of course. She made a mental note to find out what that was all about at meals today.

*********************

“CHEAT!!”

The accusation rang through the trees as the young Durothil stepped into the clearing to see Elastal leaning comfortably against the ancient totem pole. The moon elf just shrugged with an exaggerated look of shocked confusion.

“What do you mean?” He asked innocently.

“No magic! That was the rule.” Felaern sputtered angrily. “You cheated, you lose!”

Elastal shook his head. “No magic.”

“I had you... I took the quickest route. You never passed me.” The analytical minded elf insisted. “There’s no feasible way that you beat me without magic.”

“And yet, that’s exactly what happened.” Elastal insisted smugly. All the while trying not show hard he was breathing. It had been close, even with his unorthodox shortcut. The look on Felaern’s face was worth the jump though.

“I give my word as a future bladesinger, that I did not breach the rules of our engagement.” He said with a hand over his heart solemnly. “If you still don’t believe me, ask Arcaena. She’ll vouch for me.”

The mention of the elf maid stole some of the thunder from Felaern’s face. Doubt came over him. He couldn’t understand how the moon elf had beaten him fairly. It was possible that he’d convinced Arcaena to lie for him. Possibly even help him... but that was a dangerous line of thought. Any further accusations would border on a slight against the moon elf’s honor. Which was bad enough. Even if it didn’t now involve another gold elf’s word of honor he wouldn’t push the issue.

Many gold elves wouldn’t have hesitated. There was a natural animosity between Gold and Silver elves. Felaern steadfastly refused to be drawn into that old rivalry. Durothil’s were an ancient family. Proud, noble, and very obsessed with ‘image’. Bringing to light that he’d ‘lost’ to a moon elf would be disgrace enough... getting into a duel over some stupid race would unthinkable. Dragging the daughter of the Haladar clan into it wasn’t even an option.

Watching the grin on Elastal’s face, he knew his own submission was written over his face. Truth was, he did believe the other elf. He’d known the other elf for a couple of years now, and while perhaps not the best of friends, he was perhaps the best he had in the tower. He knew that Elastal was an honorable elf, and would never have made that oath if it hadn’t been the truth. He may not know HOW it was the truth, but he knew it was.

“Fine.” he said with a sulk. “At least tell me how you did it.”

Elastal laughed and slapped his friend on the back as they started the walk back to their next class. “Went out Arcaena’s window,” he replied nonchalantly. Felaern stopped and stared at the silver elf in disbelief.

“You’re going to kill yourself...” he said shaking his head.

“Yeah . . . Everyone keeps saying that.”
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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon May 14, 2012 11:19 am

*******************************************************************


Elastal Silverspear. The name had quickly started to grate on many of the senior instructors’ nerves. The elfling had turned 90 this year, and many had advocated against even letting him start attendance at the towers. Unfortunately for them the lad showed great promise. Promise that Master Halimphor was fairly certain would never be achieved.

Yes, he had a sharp mind. At his age the boy could well be on the path for a high mage. He had no trouble grasping the finest intricacies of the concepts of magic. Precepts that he was still explaining to students who had been there for a decade.

Wizardry was about discipline. Rules. Tradition. All things that young elf seemed to have little use for. Impulsive was kindest word he’d use for Elastal. His mind was often caught in tales of adventures or daydreams that often marked the downfall of youth. Pity was the general consensus. If he’d waited just a few more years, he would have made a fine mage. As it was, the best he could hope for was a Bladesinger.

Which suited Shanyrria Alenuath just fine. The copper haired bladesinger had already made her intentions known that she was claiming the boy. Elastal had literally done a back flip when he’d heard the news. Despite the personal opinions of some of the more stoic members of the towers, bladesinging was not thought poorly of.

The act of blending sword and sorcery into one deadly warrior was in many’s opinion the pinnacle of elven society. The high mages thought differently. Their powers were such that could create (or destroy) entire continents. Though not alone. Theirs was a power that required circles of mages all working in tangent, and were known to be bitter when a prospective member slipped through their fingers.

Strohm knew better. No stranger to bladesinging himself, he knew the value of an individual over that of even the most organized group. When choosing members for his little group, he almost always preferred bladesingers. He was certain the debate would continue for centuries to come.

On a crisp clear morning Strohm found himself with many of the other elders of the towers and their guests in an open glade. Glancing around he saw many familiar faces. Bladesingers all of them, and each of them the head of their respective guild. Obviously he wasn’t the only one looking out for new talent.

Stiff competition too. Samhir Echorn from the Tigers, Ellsimmar Riverbend from the Lion guild, Mirrian Mistrivvin from the vipers.... Each of them were a well respected guild and most younglings dreamed about being accepted into their ranks. Mistrivvin wasn’t much of a threat. She was remarkably selective rarely taking any but the gold elves under tutelage. Echorn made a few exceptions, but generally followed suit. Ellsimmar welcomed a more eclectic student body. He may be trouble. The others weren’t much larger than his own school.

As he contemplated his competition, chairs that seemed to form from nothing slowly began to rise up into the air. From here he could see a greater portion of the glade; the games were about to begin.

The gathered crowd watched as an unusual-looking silver elf came out onto the field. A touch shorter than most elves, her reddish hair and golden brown eyes spoke of a human somewhere in her distant ancestry. Shanyrria denied it, and none could prove it, but the rumors persisted.

Shanyrria Alenuath was the Bladesinger instructor at the Tower of the Sun currently. She had the wanderlust associated with her subrace, but the last two centuries had seen her here more than not. She had an excellent eye for talent, and many of the best bladesingers Strohm knew had learned their basics from her. He was truly looking forward to this.

As Shanyrria went over the rules for the contest, he took stock of the students. The youngest of them were the Silverspear boy and the Durothil lad. The oldest was a 250 year old Sylvan elf with wild tattoos over her body. That thought raised an eyebrow on Strohm. If Halimphor thought moon elves had attention issues, how had this happened? He’d never seen a green elf bladesinger before. Twenty students in all wished to try their luck and see who would win the tournament.

The rules were simple. Win.

Last one standing gained the trophy, and undoubtably earned his place in a respectable guild. Despite the seeming barbarism, the students never suffered and lasting harm. Their weapons were wooden. Priests hovered all around ready to aid anyone who was hit too hard. In all the years of the tournament, there had never been a casualty. Though many, many students woke up very sore the following morning.

Quietly the observers began to cast spells that would aid in their evaluation. Most looked toward the older and more skilled students. The ones ready to join their lodges this fall. Strohm looked to the future. With eyes glowing of strong divination magic, he looked towards the younglings.

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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat May 19, 2012 5:29 am

****************************************************************

Nervous hands gripped the handle of his sword. Sweat beaded on his smooth forehead. This was the moment he’d been waiting for. The chance to show his worth.

Elastal had not slept the night before, much to the chagrin of the other students. He’d practiced his steps and heard the song in his mind. Felaern had been quite frustrated and he’d had to dodge more than one pillow before the gold elf had finally slipped into a fitful reverie.

Elastal was rarely interested in reverie, the past was already too fresh. He was more interested in the future. The Bladesinger’s Ball was the highlight of his year. Perhaps his entire life!

He was the youngest student to enter the tournament this year, but he refused to let that dampen his spirit. He was going to be perfect. His mind kept drifting to the shining sword always on his great aunt’s hip. Thoerl. The moonblade of House Silverspear. Tyllaetha Silverspear had worn it for centuries, but every elf knew the stories. Someday she would name a blade heir. Someone of her house that was everything an elf should be. She was already over 500 years old. He only prayed that she’d live long enough for him to be ready!

El’Tael. Bladesingers. The epitome of Elven warriors and defenders of ‘The People.’ If anyone was worthy of being a blade-heir, it was one of the El’tael. Even if she lived forever, being named ‘Bladesinger’ was honor enough to fuel his dreams.

That was last night.

As the trumpet blew, he dropped into a defensive crouch and eagerly sprang forward. Nervousness dissipated into excitement as he found his first target. Eliania Nimesin. He dissected her pro’s and con’s in his mind as he moved into the first few steps of the bladesong.

She was pretty, which was unimportant at the moment. Had half a decade training on him, a little important. Arrogant and condescending as so many of her family. That he may be able to use. She was notorious for underestimating her opponents. That was the weakness he was looking for. She underestimated him.

He could see it in her eyes. This was a tournament. A game. A chance to show off for the crowd. Elastal saw things different. This was no game to him. It was training. In his mind he was already forming scenario’s where he could potentially face off against an opponent with little more than a training sword. Picking a good one he narrowed his focus and imagined the battle before it even took place.

He was ready.

Elastal leaped to the right, and immediately reversed direction. His sword spun in a perfect arc to her side. And was immediately blocked. Her soft leather boot didn’t feel very soft as it slammed into his chest and knocked the wind out of him. He felt his grip on the sword loosen and knew his weapon was spinning through the air.

Underestimating an opponent only counted as a liability if there was more to the opponent than what meet the eye. Elastal was just as green as he appeared to be. His skill with the blade may be impressive for his skill level, but Eliania had passed that level years ago.

Still seeing double, Elastal barely registered the downward sweep of the blade as she danced passed him towards a new target. Barely was enough. Rolling hard to the right and back up to his feet in one deft move, he watched the practice blade dig deep into the soft glade.

Growling Eliania closed the distance to the opponent she’d thought defeated. Elastal had a sinking feeling in his stomach. The roll had put a solid twenty feet between his weapon and him. She struck fast, and she struck hard. To her surprise her blade bit nothing but air. Elastal wasn’t the strongest, he wasn’t the oldest... but he was fast.

The dextrous elfling dodged and rolled past the deadly gold elf. He felt the air of the slices cut past him as he barely avoided getting hit. Finally with a hint of glee he felt his hand grasp his sword.

The din of combat flowed all around the glade as clank of wood and the groans of pain filled the air. Spells flowed freely, under the watchful eye of the high mages of course. More than one student felt the sting of magic, while his blade defended against physical attacks. This was expected of course. Bladesinging was about the blending of sword and magic after all. It wouldn’t be a true test to outlaw half the style.

Confidence returned as the young moon elf swung towards his opponent. Only to find that she wasn’t there anymore. Stars filled his eyes as a blow to his skull dropped him to the ground. He could barely hear her footfalls as she raced off to find a new opponent.

Slowly his hand groped the ground near him until he found the familiar hilt and he carefully picked himself up off the ground. Everything hurt. He saw a priest entirely too near to him for his liking and waved the elf off. He wasn’t done yet.

Glancing around the battlefield, he couldn’t help being a little pleased. Young elves dotted the field and he was still standing. Kind of. A few wobbly steps and he nearly staggered to the ground again.

Shaking his head, he saw a familiar face in the distance. Felaern was still up too. Apparently the more prudent elf had chosen his opponents with a bit more care. Though he seemed to be in trouble now. A second year student had come to the aid of the first year that Felaern had beleaguered, and now his friend was stumbling backwards.

Quick as he could. Elastal closed the gap. Divinge between his friend’s opponents, his blade slapping their swords off target, stopped their momentum and broke their tempo. Their dance halted, they were sitting ducks as Elastal and Felaern synched up and slammed their blades in concert against the advancing elves.

One went down fast. The other saw an opening and slammed the already hurting moon elf hard in the face with a wooden pommel. As Elastal hit the ground, he saw Felaern avenge him. Hard. Soon there were three elves in a cluster on the ground. Only one dragged himself back to his feet.

“Don’t stop...” he muttered to himself. “Keep going...”

Felaern’s luck had run out. As had the number of elves he was able to defeat. Ironically the one that had claimed him was Elastal’s first opponent. The Nimesin’s were in fact cousin’s of the older Durothil line, but any familiar attachment didn’t stop her from disarming Felaern with a flick of her wrist and a slam of her sword.

As the gold elfling looked up at his cousin’s sinister grin and raised sword, he knew what was coming next. No sword, Spells spent, his hand immediately formed the sign for surrender. She glanced towards the judges and saw them acknowledge her win and with a quick wave turned and saw Elastal standing there.

“Not done... Not done yet!” Elastal said through a split lip. Eliania shook her head in amazement and moved into an offensive spin, slashing high and following through low. Somehow Elastal flipped backwards and avoided both cuts.

Muttering a quick incantation he took some satisfaction seeing the look of shock and awe on her face. Spinning toward her, battered and bruised, was a moon elf. Who had just grown two more sets of swords and arms to hold them. Each set of arms were working independently. Each moving through the rote routines of the bladesinger’s dance.

Her eyes darted back and forth as she tried to adjust her footwork and parry any attack that came. She knew it was an illusion... but she couldn’t know which part was an illusion. Once, twice, the younger elf’s sword slammed home. Twice more she parried absolutely nothing and felt the sting of the opening she’d provided.

Soon she went back to Offense. There may be multiple arms, but only one body and only one set of weapons real enough to parry with. As she felt wood smack wood, she knew she’d seen through him. The youngling was out of tricks. A fast double tap, knocked his blade out wide and a stinging slap of her sword sent him spinning to the ground. Again.

Elastal barely could register where he was anymore. Stubbornness alone drove him on. Pride, Determination, just a touch of anger. Slowly he found his way back up to his knees, and felt a solid kick to the ribs. Apparently Eliania wasn’t turning her back on him again. More the pity.

“Stay DOWN!” She roared in frustration. Somehow through the haze he registered that this must not make her look to good.

The kick rolled him a few feet and once again he staggered to a crawling position. Unable to see from one eye he barely sensed the next kick coming, but still found a way to block it with his sword. Eliana cursed out loud as she hopped backward. It would have been a solid kick and she could already feel the bruise forming on her ankle.

Elastal was beyond taking satisfaction from that. He only knew there was an enemy still near and he swung blindly towards her. He had to keep going... Bladesingers don’t give up....

They do however get beaten. He sensed movement to his left as the more advanced student dodged his clumsy strike. Then, He felt a solid blow to his head and stars danced in his impaired vision. As the glade faded into blackness, he felt nothing else.

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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu May 24, 2012 8:15 pm

************************************************************

“That was painful to watch,” Ellsimmar stated with a touch of anger under his breath. “One day this thing will go too far.”

“I don’t know...” Strohm answered distractedly. “I kind of liked it.”

“Hmmph,” The lion guild master said disapprovingly. “Got your eye on the Nimesin girl?”

“Who?” Strohm said giving his full attention to the conversation. “Gods no! She’s as blunt an instrument as I’ve ever seen. If she can’t even take down a first year without beating him to a bloody pulp, I’ve no use for her...” He shook his head as he thought about the other one. The one who didn’t stay down.

Honor... Dedication... Stubbornness... Surprisingly little anger for the beating he had just taken. All this and more his divination spell had revealed as he’d watched the contest. Some masters focused entirely on form and style, some only cared about who won... Strohm was more interested in the mental aspect of his warriors. What was going through their minds... and the Silverspear boy intrigued him.


*************************************************************************

“Gooooood MORNING!”

Elastal cringed as the shrill call pierced his brain. Everything on him hurt. Various shades of bruises seemed to criss-cross the pale skin he could see and he imagined the rest didn’t look too different.

“Where?!?”

“Where do you think?” A familiar voice said from the left. He twisted his head to see the speaker. Apparently his left eye was swollen shut. Sure enough Arcaena stood nearby Felaern, as the priests continued to bandage new arrivals to the makeshift healers tent.

“What were you thinking?” the sweet voice said with an anger he wasn’t used to hearing from her.

“I.. .oww.. I don’t know what you mean?” He said glibly as he rested his head back down. “I went out there to win... How’d I do?”

“Not too bad...” Felaern spoke up before Arcaena could respond. “Fourteen still fought when you decided to pass out.”

“Blast... I was hoping for thirteen.”

“You’re an idiot,” the young elf lass said with an exasperated sigh. She tried to hide it, but Elastal could practically hear the relief in that sigh. She had been quite worried.

“The young lady is right,” came an unfamiliar voice. Turning he saw an elven female who quickly went about examining his wounds.

“You took entirely too much of a beating for a silly tournament.” She sighed as she felt the body twitch angrily underneath her touch. “Entirely too much,” she repeated.

“It’s not that bad...” the moon elf tried to dismiss the concern that had built up in the room.

“Yes. Yes it was.” the priest insisted. “I had to perform some minimal healing on you just to get you off the field. After that I was afraid to do anymore till you woke up.” She waved her hand back and forth examining his pupils for any sign of serious damage. Soon she smiled brightly and began the casting of moderate healing spell. As the divine power answered, the wounds closed, the bruises faded, and his left eye slowly flickered open.

“Your friend is lucky he has such a hard head.” She sighed and shook her head. “Your going to feel a lot of pain for the next couple of days, but it won’t kill you. May even serve as a lesson.”

“Wouldn’t count on that.” Felaern muttered loudly. The priestess turned and muttered something that the others didn’t hear as she went about her work. There were many injuries. Mostly bruises, and a few cracked ribs. None that had her worried.

“So...” Elastal said as he slowly sat up on the cot. “What’d I miss?”

“Well, if I were you... I’d stay far away from Eliania for sometime...” Felaern said. “She left just after you did... Apparently beating you like a war drum can be quite distracting. She never even saw the blow that dropped her.”

“So she’s blaming you!” Arcaena said with a grimace. “I think your little performance out there made you an enemy.” Her mood had lightened greatly since the priestess had declared him healthy. Healthy enough anyway... Though she knew the Nimesin’s could hold a grudge, and she suspected her friend may be in for more trouble in the near future.

“Ahhh... that figures.” the young elf swung his legs over the side and hopped to his feet. “Oh well... It’ll be good for me! Always better to train against someone... enthusiastic!”

“Unless she kills you.” Felaern added with a grin.

“Unless she kills me!” Elastal agreed with a bright grin of his own.

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1318 DR: The Year of the Tired Treant

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu May 31, 2012 9:36 pm

*******************************************************************

As the next few years passed by, Strohm’s theory proved correct. The Silverspear boy had as natural a talent with the blade as Halimphor had claimed he had with magic. Each year that passed, he lasted longer and longer in the tournaments... 14th, 11th, 7th... He still made poor choices on occasion, but Strohm could overlook that, since the majority of his gambles were very... creative.

The Shadow-soldier also appreciated creativity.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one to notice the boy.

So, Strohm found himself staring across from a familiar green eyed elf, matching his intense gaze with a smirk of his own.

“So... You’re essentially bribing me, is that right?” Riverbend asked incredulously. “You want him that bad, huh?”

“That’s right.” Strohm said with feigned annoyance. “I’ll withdraw any claim to both Durothil and Amarillis. Both notable families, and even withdraw any interest in the other three we’ve talked about.”

“Your offer is weak Nightstar....” Ellsimmar chuckled. “Amarillis is good, but Durothil still needs a few years before his worth is judged... and seriously, Nimesin? I know you never had an interest in her at all.”

Strohm shrugged noncommittally. “True... but I think Mistriven does. Rumor has it that Echorn of the Eagles is looking at a few of them too.”

“Ahh... I see....” Ellsimmar said as the situation dawned. “Lion guild may be a bit more prestigious that the Griffons, and I may still be able to win out over the others too... but it’ll be harder with you actively opposing me. "

“Even if I have no interest in the recruit in question. That’s quite correct.”

“Playing dirty Griffon... Playing dirty.” Ellsimmar said with his mouth twisted in thought. Truth of the matter he wasn’t sure what effect Strohm would have if he threw his hat into the ring for some of his favored choices... Not Nimesin of course, he’d already come to the same conclusion that his colleague had three years ago. But if push came to shove, he’d rather be One of Two guilds, then he would One of Three.

“Very well. You win this round.” He conceded after little thought. “I’ll withdraw any interest in Silverspear, and you won’t actively try to be thorn in my side... and you’ll refill our glasses once more!”

Strohm quickly ordered two more wines, and they toasted their agreement.

Ellsimmar found himself chuckling as he added, “Truth of the matter, I see potential in him, but I think you’ll have your work cut out polishing it. A bit too roguishly headstrong for what I’m looking for.

“Corellon knows, I have a hard enough time weeding THAT out of children...”
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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:13 pm

***************************************************



Elastal took the news of his acceptance with barely contained glee. His friend Felaern had not been accepted anywhere, and would continue his training here. Whether in the bladesong path, or perhaps more traditional sorcery he was still trying to decide.

Despite his protests, Elastal believed Felaern would continue his studies with Shanyrria and be more than prepared next year.

Felaern and Arcaena wouldn’t let such bad news damper the good cheer they felt for their friend. Griffon Guild was not the one he had hoped for, but compared to the vast majority of Singers (Felaern included) who still waited for the right to be called ‘Bladesinger.’ Griffin was an honor beyond compare.

The Silverspears held a feast in his honor at the ancestral home in Leuthilspar, but the true party began at the Green Sword Tavern hours later. Songs, Dances, and drinks flowed freely as three friends celebrated the achievement of a dream.

Not long before the sun finally rose, the three sat somberly staring at the delicately drawn acceptance scroll. Arcaena shook her head sadly.

“Your really going aren’t you?”

“Looks like I am...” he answered with twinge of regret. The island of Evermeet was not as massive or far reaching as many a nation, but the Griffon guild was based out of Taltempla, a city far to the north of both Leuthilspar and the nearby Towers of the Sun and Moon. For as close as the inititates had become, any separation was painful.

Even if the distance was only a hundred miles or so, his new Grandmaster had tactfully informed Elastal during his interview that his ‘training’ had only just begun. There was simply no telling when he would see his friends again.

Solemnly he filled the glasses one more time, finishing the expensive wine. “Someday, we’ll meet back here, all three of us and finish off another of these. Heroes, all of us, Two bladesingers and the other a high mage. Agreed?”

Arcaena giggled as she raised her glass. “Hopefully, It’ll be before THAT... I won’t be a High Mage for at least two more centuies.”

“Agreed.” Felaern said with a chuckle. “As soon and as frequent as possible...”
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Re: For Queen and Evermeet!

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:17 am

*************************************************

The next few years were a vast shock to Elastal. Like he had feared, it was years before he would even try to fulfill that vow. Soon his friends were tucked away in a corner of his mind, but his present was shoved to the front.

Words can not express the excitement he felt as he first entered the lodge that would be his home for the next few decades. Like many of Evermeet’s buildings, the Griffin Lodge was made of interweaving oaks that formed a walled enclosure. Mighty leaves laced together to keep the wind and rain from the inside.

Once inside, the lodge was relatively spartan. Simple rooms dotted the sides, where the few students slept and ate, and a large field where the combat training would be held. There was little else.

Elastal was greeted by two others on his arrival. Syntha Eroth, a striking female with soft black hair that framed her sharp elven features. She wore her bladesinger tattoo proudly. A screeching griffin covering the left side of her face and down her neck and shoulders. Also, Dromothin Le’Quella, a silver elf with his blonde hair trimmed close. His own tattoo raced down his sword arm.. Elastal couldn’t help but imagine that when he clutched his sword it would appear that his blade was clutched in a great beast’s talons.

“Welcome to the Griffin lodge. Get comfortable Silverspear.” A gruff voice said preceding Grandmaster Strohm. “Today you unpack. Tomorrow these two will show you what it truly means be to be a bladesinger.”

“When do I get one of those?” The young elf whispered to his new mentor after the introductions were made. “I think I want wings over my whole back...”

“When you’ve earned one,” came the simple reply. “My mark is a mark of honor, and the size of your tattoo will be based on you skill, not your desire. Those two will be your instructors.”

“Not you?”

“I’ll be around... I have many responsibilities, but worry not... I have great hopes for your training.”
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1323: The Year of Dreamwebs

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:01 am

***********************************************************

Soon.

The boy will be ready by the end of this year, I’m sure of it. Dromothin will never admit it, but I think Elastal actually had him on the ropes a few times... I saw with my own eyes the lad disarm Le’Quella. Only superior spell ability saved him from defeat that day.

While he excels at the blade, Syntha says that he’s taken to his other training just as well. Spellcraft, History, and tumbling... by Correllon he’s a nimble one.

His attitude is a bit off... Not sure how to fix that, or if I should! He questions orders, and looks for loopholes in nearly everything. Still, from the discussions I’ve had with him I know his heart is in the right place, and the determination I saw nearly twenty years ago is still there.

I have no doubt he’ll do what he thinks is right and sacrifice life and limb for his cause... I only worry about what ramifications his methods could bring.

Still... Results are the most important thing...


The aged bladesinger put down his quill as he watched the letters slowly fade to nothingness in the enchanted journal. He had already made up his mind. Traditionally, he would wait longer... but that was before.

Now he needed soldiers, and he needed them working. The failure of two years ago still hurt deeper then when he’d lost his leg decades before. It was more epic a failure then even his worst nightmares.

King Zaor.

Dead.

Murdered in his own garden, the murderer still unknown. The crime had rocked the Elven nations all across Faerun. It showed a vulnerability that the rest of world wouldn’t have believed a decade earlier. The queen never blamed him, but he blamed himself enough for the both of them. While the N'vaelahr had taken greater and greater responibilites in the years since the queen had reinstated the society, at it's heart Strohm still remembered why she had done so...

And they had failed.

He swore it would never happen again.
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