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A Dark Secret

Discussion in 'UO Atlantic' started by Morgana LeFay (PoV), Aug 11, 2009.

  1. The blade felt strange in her hand, as she examined it, admiring the craftsmanship. The weight of it was different than any other dagger she had ever felt. It was perfectly balanced, and somehow, it felt as though it was an extension of her own body.

    Amazing she thought, as the light reflected off its surfaces.

    It would not be long before her prey was in sight, so she made sure that she was perfectly concealed.

    And she waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    Where is he? she thought, as she crouched in the shadows. Great, my legs have gone to sleep!

    But she dared not move.
     
  2. Nightfall was approaching, and there was still no sign of her prey.

    This is a bust she thought, as she struggled to her feet.

    The sensation began to return to her legs as she paced in small circles. Carefully, she watched her surroundings. No one was in sight.

    She regarded the dagger once more and though I better get you back before you are missed and she pulled her cloak tightly around her.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Guild Hall was a hive of activity. The Protectors of Virtue had grown much in the recent months, and there was a constant flow of members in the Guild Hall. Morgana had called everyone together for an announcement, and the Protectors had gathered in full for the first time in months. She was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of people. Things had been so hectic, that she had barely met several of the new Neophytes.

    "Morgana!" a voice called, as she turned to respond.

    "Anasazi! How are you??" she responded with a smile, as he approached her.

    "I am well mi'lady! I got your message, and got here as soon as I could. Is everyone else here?" he replied.

    "As far as I can tell" she said, glancing around the entry hall and into the dining room "this is everyone."

    "Shall I call them to order?" Anasazi asked.

    "By all means" she answered.
     
  3. Anasazi turned to call the Guild to order, when the sound of the front door opening interrupted him.

    "Sorry I am late everyone" Ravenn said shyly.

    "No...you are just in time" Anasazi said. "Now, if I may have your attention...I would like to call this meeting to order, so if you will proceed upstairs to the Guildroom, we will begin."

    It was really good to have the entire Guild together again, Morgana thought, as she watched them make their way up the stairs.

    I hope they are ready for this she thought, as the last of them made their way up the stairs.

    Remaining in the entry hall were the four ArchProtectors of the Guild. These four members were the Guild Council, and some of the oldest members of the Guild. There was the Lady Jade, the fierce archer/warrior, Sheol, the Guild's Archmage, Anasazi, the Guild's Sergent at Arms, and of course...Clean, the no longer Soulless eater of life.

    These four people had shaped the Protectors of Virtue into what they had become, and were closer to Morgana than almost anyone in the entire world.

    Morgana looked on them, each in his or her ceremonial robes, and she could not help but feel a little sad.

    "Are we ready?" she asked them.

    "We are" Jade replied...and they silently made their way up the stairs.
     
  4. As the council entered, the entire Guild rose to their feet. Each council member took their place in front of their chairs at the head of the Guildroom. Once everyone was in place Anasazi spoke...

    "This meeting is hereby called to order My Lady" he said as he turned to bow to Morgana.

    And with that she responded "Please proceed."

    He turned to face the Guild and said "Protectors of Virtue, please take your seats". And they did. Once they were seated, the Council took their seats.

    "Good evening everyone, I would like to thank you all for coming today. I realize it has been far too long since we met, and for that apologize" Morgana said. "I would like to first call upon the Lady Jade to read the journal of our last meeting."

    With that, Jade rose and briefly went through the events of the last meeting. When she was done, she took her seat.

    "I would like to take this time to address any concerns before we move on to new business. Does anyone have any issues that they wish to voice here?" Morgana asked.

    A hand was raised.

    "Bill Blas, the council recognizes you. Please rise and speak" Morgana said.

    "Thank you mi'lady" he replied. "I would like to address the issue of Guild resources, specifically hides."

    "What is your concern Lord Blas?" Morgana asked.

    "It would seem that we are collecting less than we should be. I would just like to ask the Guild, when they are out hunting, that they not neglect hide replenishment. We are running somewhat low, and if I am to provide leather goods to the Guild, resources are important" he said.

    "Thank you. Lady Jade, please make a note of this. We will measure hide stores over the next two weeks. I urge each Guild member to be considerate when it comes to resources" she said. "Is there anything else Lord Blas?"

    "Not at this time mi'lady" he replied.

    "Very well. Please be seated" she said. "Does anyone else have any concerns?"

    No one raised their hands.

    "Very well, then the time has come to move on to the purpose of this meeting" she said.
     
  5. Morgana had to choke back a wave of tears as she looked out upon the Guild. The years had seen so many come and go, but some had been a constant for many years.

    "It saddens me to inform you all, that soon, we will be electing a new Guild Council" Morgana said, trying to maintain her composure.

    A murmur spread throught the Guild, and she waited for them to come to order.

    As they quieted down, she spoke "Several of our ArchProtectors are stepping down. And while this comes at a great cost to the PoV, it creates new opportunities for each of you, to assume new responsibilities..." but that was all she could manage.

    The tears streamed down her face, and Clean stood by her side.

    "Mi'Lady? Who is stepping down? How could this be?" a young Neophyte asked.

    It was Sheol that stood to address the question.

    "Please, everyone, come to order" he said in a reassuring voice. And soon, the Protectors were quiet.

    "Thank you Sheol" Morgana managed.

    "Perhaps it is better if we take it from here Mi'Lady?" he asked her.

    "No, I think it is better that it comes from me" she said, as she gathered herself.

    "I must ask, that you not look at this like we are losing guildmates" she said, welling up again...but controlling her emotions. "We must look at this as the natural progression of things".

    She stood there, thinking to herself that if she did not say it out loud, that it would not come to pass.

    But she knew better.


    "Lord Sheol, Lady Jade, and Lord Anasazi are leaving us" she said, almost choking on the words as she did so.

    There was a stir, but quickly the Guild came to order.
     
  6. Morgana looked upon the faces of the Protectors and the Neophytes. Some of the newer members seemed confused, others excited, but it was the faces of the older members that she noticed. They appeared as if they had just heard the news of the passing of a dear friend.

    A hand was raised. It was Sir Robin.

    “Yes, Sir Robin, please, speak” Morgana said.

    “Mi’Lady. Why? I mean, how?” was all he could manage.

    But he knew why. Down deep, he understood. It was a decision he himself had not yet made, but an idea that had not escaped him either.

    Morgana was at a loss, and it was Anasazi that rose to address the Guild…

    “My Guildmates. My Family” he began. “Please, try to understand. It is with a heavy heart that we come to this decision. We do not seek to abandon you. But we feel that the time has come for you to take our places. I have fought beside some of you many years, while some of you were even yet unborn. These scars I bear, they are not the result of the battles, but of the long years.”

    He stood there, looking out at the Guild, and the young, fresh faces reminded him of exactly why he had made this decision.

    “Our day has passed. It is now your time…your day” he said, as Jade put her hand on his shoulder.

    And as she did, he looked at her, and for the first time, he saw her as something other than a cold, steel nerved warrior. She was getting old…and so was he.

    He smiled at her, and turned back to the crowd and said “My fellow Protectors of Virtue, it has been the greatest honor to be counted amongst you.”

    They all stood, and in silence, the Guild Council left the chamber.
     
  7. They had questions, of course, but they would be answered in time.

    Morgana stood outside the Guild chamber, and bid them each a good evening. She did her best to maintain her composure. Inside, she was dying.

    Abigail sensed this, and came to her.

    “It will be okay” she reassured her sister.

    “I know…but it won’t be okay tonight” she said, almost crying.

    It was then that Bill Blas stepped over to her and said “Okay then, when is the party?”

    “Party?” Morgana asked.

    “Um, yes! You cannot let these people leave without a party! What is wrong with you?!” he said, hands on his hips.

    This was exactly what Morgana needed, and a smile broke her gloomy mood.

    “I think that is a good job for you Lord Blas” Morgana said.

    “Oh no! No way!” Abigail said. “The last time we put him in charge of a party we had over a thousand people here, and it cost us a fortune!”

    Morgana and Bill shared a look.

    “Its on” they both said in unison.

    Abigail rolled her eyes and walked away.
     
  8. They lingered on the roof top of the PoV tower that night until the dawn. They drank wine, and relived days gone by.

    They reminisced about the days before Lord Cromwell discovered the lost lands. They reminisced about guildmates long gone. They reminisced about the beach, and Evets, and the old guild tower. They reminisced about CouDrac, and they reminisced about Lord British.

    Morgana, Abigail, Sheol, Jade, Anasazi, Clean, Bill Blas, Erika, Sir Robin, John Henry, and Angel watched the sun rise, and each of them knew that this dawn brought something more than a new day. It brought the end of an era.
     
  9. Morgana awoke in the afternoon with a hangover the size of Vesper.

    She groaned as she made her way over to the mirror.

    And Blas is going to throw a party on top of that? she thought, as she reached for her dressing gown.

    But she never put the gown on; she just stood, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She stood and stared.

    Lines. Scars. Wrinkles.

    For the first time, she truly understood why the others felt that they had to step down.

    She pulled her raven hair to one side, then the other, examining the grey that had invaded the otherwise pitch black sea of hair.

    She stood there for a while, studying each scar, each part of her body, that didn't look quite the same as it did a few years ago, when she heard a knock at the door.

    She put on the dressing gown.
     
  10. "Morgana!" a cheerful voice said from the other side of the door.

    Morgana's head was splitting.

    "Katie?" she said, recognizing the voice.

    "Yes ma'am. Can I come in?" she said.

    "Umm, sure, just give me a sec" Morgana answered, as she thought So they can come up with a spell to heal arrow wounds, but NOTHING for a hangover...useless mages.

    She fixed herself up a bit, and then opened the door.

    Standing there before her was the cute little sprite known as Katie, her blonde hair and fair skin reflecting just enough light to cause Morgana to have to squint.

    "Good morning Katie" Morgana said, averting her gaze.

    "Morning? It's almost dark!!" Katie replied, as she made her way into the room. "Did you just get up?"

    Morgana couldn't even manage a clever retort.

    "Good gods, I need a drink" is all she said.
     
  11. Dinner was served, and the Guild had gathered, but Morgana was not in good spirits. Her head felt like it was in a vice.

    "What kind of wine did Blas give us last night anyway" she asked a staggering and disheveled looking Sir Robin.

    "I am not sure Mi'Lady, but surely it had turned" is all he managed before he was forced to make his way outside for some 'air'.

    But she knew it was not the quality, but the quantity they had drank.

    The night progressed as normal, and all about the Guild Hall, there was activity. But she could not find it within herself to join in the festivities.

    "Morgana, what's wrong?" Katie asked her...but she knew.

    Morgana didn't say anything at first, because she didn't want to admit it...but eventually she told the young sprite "I am just getting old".

    And with that she kissed the young Protector on the forehead, and made her way up the stairs. There she flopped down on her bed, never so glad to feel its cold embrace. Her head was spinning, but this wasn't from the hangover.

    It was over.
     
  12. A brave face she thought to herself. I have to show them all a brave face.

    A week had passed since the Guild meeting, and it was the night of the big party. Morgana was looking especially regal in her long black dress. The entire Guild was on hand, as were hundreds of guests. Emissaries from numerous guilds throughout the land were on hand, artists, musicians, nobles, and even dignitaries from Dawn’s court were in attendance. It was truly a gala affair. Few in the land could pass up a Blas party. As always, Abigail had arranged for the finest minstrels from the Conservatory, and Blas had imported the finest wines from the farthest reaches of the lands. Old friends were there, and allies…even members of rival guilds. There was standing room only in every common area of the Guild Tower…and the party spilled out into the surrounding yards around it.

    Morgana was talking with Lady Rachel when Ahuaeyjnkxs arrived with Lady Aalia Snow and Lady Andrasta.

    “Ahu!” Morgana said, “I am so glad you made it” as she embraced him. “And Aalia, and Andrasta, it is so good of you to come!”

    Morgana was feeling better about things with her closest friends outside the guild with there, but she had to ask “Has anyone seen Draken?”

    “I haven’t recently” Lady Andrasta replied. No one had seen him.

    “I do hope he makes it” Morgana added.

    As they mingled and greeted their guests, the members of the PoV extended their full hospitality to those that had come to celebrate this sad, but momentous, occasion. Morgana was thanking a couple of members of Dawn’s court when she felt a presence behind her.

    She turned and faced the person behind her, and could not believe her eyes.

    “You?” is all she managed.
     
  13. His dark raven hair was flowing as he flashed a devilish smile at Morgana.

    "You are surprised to see me?" he said in a sarcastic manner.

    Morgana grabbed him by the arm and proceeded to pull him aside...only to find herself with a dagger at her throat from 3 sides.

    "You have a lot of nerve showing up here..." she said.

    "Oh? You seek to slay me?" he responded.

    "No, you idiot, but look around you" she spat as she shook off the assassins around her.

    It didn't take long before a scene was developing, and Casca decided to call off his drow.

    "I just thought I would come and ... pay my respects" he said with a smile.

    Morgana pulled in close to him and whispered "You stupid *******, don't you know that someone will have your head here?"

    "I thought that we had laid the past to rest" he said.

    "Not me fool! There are emissaries from the true Royal Court here, you are a dead man!" Morgana said, almost in shock.

    Casca just chuckled. "My dear Morgana, if Dawn had the legal authority to act against me, she would have done so already. None of these people would dare...not even your sister."

    That was the end of the conversation. Suddenly, Draken Korin had Casca by the throat.

    "Trouble Mi'Lady??" he asked, as members of TWT took positions around the scene.

    "Okay, that's enough!" Morgana said, attempting to control the situation. "This is NOT going to turn into a battle...does everyone understand this?"

    Cooler heads prevailed, and a tense moment was averted.

    "You have excellent timing, as always" Morgana said to Draken, handing him a drink.

    "I do what I can" he said with a wry smile.

    Casca vanished in the crowd.
     
  14. The party was coming to a close, and the guests were departing. :stretcher:

    "Oh my gods, the mess" Jade said as she stolled past Morgana and Katie.

    Morgana reached out, and embraced her.

    "I know I might not have told you, but you have been like a sister to me" Morgana said.

    Jade was not a very open person, but she returned Morgana's embrace, and worked hard to hold back the tears..."You too! All of you..." was all she could manage.

    In a few hours, the Guild Tower was quiet. There were drunken bodies strewn everywhere, and a mess the likes of which had not been seen since the world was split.

    "Wow" was all Clean said as passed a pile of drunken party guests.

    "I would not want to be them tomorrow" Morgana said.

    "You got that right!" he replied with a laugh.

    "Have you seen Anasazi? Or Robin?" she asked.

    "Anasazi was on the roof about an hour ago, and Robin took off, he wasn't feeling well" Clean said, as he took a smoldering cigar out of the mouth of a passed out guest.

    "So, you aren't leaving too are you?" Morgana said, jokingly.

    "You won't get rid of me that easily" he said with a smile.
     
  15. Months passed, and winter had come. The Guild was not doing so well without the old council. Protectors had begun to abandon their positions, and the ranks had shrank by almost two thirds.

    "Where is Morgana?" Katie asked, as she laid her shield on the table in the main dinning hall.

    "She said she was going out recruiting" John Henry replied.

    "She's probably in Nu'Jelm" Abigail added.

    "Why would she be in Nu'Jelm?" Katie asked "No one goes there."

    "That's probably why she is there" Abigail added.

    And she was right. Morgana had taken to traveling to the old cities, to the old sites, to Felucca, to places that no one traveled to any longer. She had fallen into a depression of sorts. Maybe it was because the Guild was shrinking, or maybe the guild was shrinking because Morgana had become so withdrawn. It was hard to say, but something had changed since the departure of the Council.
     
  16. The wind was blowing across the sands of the beach in Nu'Jelm as Morgana brought Rayder to a stop. The sun was partially setting, and the light danced across the crystal blue waters of the sea.

    Morgana was lost deep in thought, and didn't hear the voice calling to her at first, but soon she realized, she was not alone...

    "Mi'Lady? Are you okay?" the woman asked her.

    "I am s-sorry, my mind was elsewhere" Morgana replied, suddenly realizing that she was being addressed "What can I do for you?"

    "Nothing madam, but I wanted to thank you" the woman said.

    Morgana regarded her for a moment. She didn't know her. But this woman had obviously been through something, something terrible. Her left eye was missing, and she had a rather large scar running the length of her face. She was probably in her late thirties, or early forties, but the years had not been kind to her, so it was hard to tell. As she moved closer to Morgana, she limped, resting a portion of her weight upon a cane.

    "I..." Morgana started.

    "It is okay mi'lady, I assumed you would not remember me, but I will never forget you" the woman said, managing a painful smile.

    Morgana searched her memory frantically, but could not place this woman.

    "It was years ago. You and your guild saved me and my family from a band of roving murderers" she said, as she shifted her gait upon the cane.

    "We obviously didn't do enough" Morgana replied, holding back tears.

    "No mi'lady, but you did. My husband and I had just settled outside of Vesper, and our two young ones were playing in the woods. I will never forget it, as long as I live" she explained. "We had taken an eye off of them, just long enough for me to help my husband to bring in some wood. Before we knew what was going on, they were on us" the woman said, nearly sobbing.

    And then she remembered.

    "And we arrived just in time to save you and your little ones" Morgana said, climbing down off of Rayder. She moved to embrace the woman, but Morgana could tell, this woman did not fully trust her.

    "It's okay" Morgana said reassuringly..."I don't mean you any harm."

    But the woman was withdrawn, her cloak was gathered tight around her, and Morgana could tell that she did not want to be touched. The tears now streamed down both of their faces.

    Morgana realized that the 'glory days' of protecting the innocent were not for nothing, but that she was not the only one that had been left with deep, unforgettable, scars.
     
  17. It was the middle of the night when Morgana arrived at the Guild Tower. The torches outside had burned almost completely out, and it was almost pitch black.

    Morgana briefly considered casting a night sight spell, but decided against it. She liked the way the woods surrounding the tower looked at night. She hesitated before entering the stable...just pondering the events of the day. The wind had gotten colder as the night had progressed, and she realized that she was without a wrap. She urged Rayder forward into the stable.

    The warmeth of the stable greeted her like an old friend as she hitched Rayder for the night. Morgana was never sure how much of the events that passed that Rayder truly understood, but she was empathetic enough to feel that he was feeling things similar to what she felt. It was always a gift for her, to be able to sort of tune-in to the feelings of the creatures around her. Rayder looked tired...and old.

    She stood there for a moment, just petting his nose, and he returned her affection.

    "We have been through a lot, haven't we?" she said, as Rayder nuzzled the side of her face.

    It seemed like an eternity before she finally made her way into the main hall.

    "Where have you been?" she heard, as she moved into the darkened hall.
     
  18. "Who is that? Angel? Katie?" Morgana said, not quite recognizing the voice.

    "No, guess again" she heard.

    That was it, it was time to shed some light on the situation...

    "In Lor!" Morgana said aloud, as the darkness turned into light. But there was no one there...

    Okay, I know I did not just imagine that she thought as she hastily scanned the room.

    "Whoever is in here, show yourself now!!" she said, drawing her swords. But there was no one.

    She heard a noise from the top of the stairs, and a young woman's voice "Hey!! What's going on down there?"

    It was Katie.

    "Katie!! Someone is in here!" Morgana said, as she moved to cover her back.

    She could tell by the look on Katie's face that she didn't exactly believe her.

    Yawning, Katie managed "Are you ok? Do you know what time it is?"

    "I am serious!!! Take cover!" Morgana said, plotting her route to the base of the stairs.

    Katie yawned agained, and made her way to the bottom of the stairs.

    "There is no one here but us Morgana. The doors are still bolted. Look."

    Sure enough, the doors were still bolted from the inside.

    Great, now I am losing my godsdamned mind she thought, as she sheathed her swords.

    Katie looked at her, and could tell that she was visibly upset, but more so, it was the very first time that Katie really noticed the toll that the years had taken on her Guildmistress.

    "I think you should get some sleep" Katie said, as she put her arms around Morgana.
     
  19. Sleepless nights, and restless days...


    ...Morgana had known no peace since she had met that woman in Nu'Jelm.

    What in Sosaria is wrong with me? she thought as she found herself drifting off during a Guild Meeting.

    "Morgana...??" Katie asked. "MORGANA!!"

    She snapped out of it.

    "Yes, Katie. The council recognizes you" she replied automatically.

    "Um...Morg, the meeting has been over for about ten minutes" she said, concerned. "What is going on?"

    She really didn't know. And that was the part that scared her. She looked into the eyes of the young woman; those brilliant eyes were like mirrors. She could easily see that Katie was scared as well.

    "I don't know. I can't sleep. I can't concentrate" Morgana confided.

    "That night you came home late from recruiting, you said that someone was in the Tower...but no one was there. Who did you think was here?" Katie asked.

    Now, Morgana had all but decided that was just her imagination playing tricks on her, and so she had nearly forgotten it...and she wasn't sure she should really say anything.

    "Uh, that was just my imagination...I am sure of it" Morgana offered.

    Katie sat down on the table in front of Morgana, and reached out with her hand, caressing Morgana's cheek. "Hey. Look at me. I don't think you are crazy. If you say someone was there, then someone was there."

    In the past year or so, a kinship had developed between Morgana and Katie. In some ways, it was wonderful. Katie reminded Morgana of a young version of herself. In some other ways, it was disturbing, because Morgana didn't really understand what Katie's interest in her was. Either way, the two had become quite close. Maybe too close in some ways.

    "I know" Morgana said. "I am just not sure."

    "It's okay if you are not sure...because I am sure" Katie said.


    This had to be an awkward scene to walk in on. The Guildmistress sitting in her chair, a young ArchProtector sitting on the table in front of her, with her hand on the Guildmistresses' face, gazing into one another's eyes.

    But that was the scene that Erika walked in on.

    "Umm...my...uh...mi'ladies" she managed with a shocked expression. "I ... um..."

    "Yes, Erika?" Katie asked.

    "It's okay...I think, um...I think Clean has some, and ... well, I..." the young woman stammered.

    "Erika. Nothing is going on here. We were just talking about something ..." Morgana explained.

    "Excuse me, won't you?" Erika said, as she hurried off.

    The two women shared a laugh, at first...but both of them knew...
     
  20. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The rain pelted her cloak, and each drop sounded like thunder. She just knew that her position was compromised. She checked her feet, but they were still in position. She had not moved. She had to convince herself that the deafening din of the rain was just that, and not the approach of horses...or soldiers. A quick check of her surroundings, and she relaxed.

    By the numbers she thought, as she repositioned her left leg slightly to prevent it from falling asleep. This should be over quickly.

    The shadows were playing tricks on her. The sun was going down, and the time was at hand. Soon her prey would be beneath her.

    The dagger was growing on her, it was strange, yet comfortable. It's weight in her gloved hand felt natural, yet somehow...unnatural.

    The first horse approached. She waited, as it went by underneath her perch.

    The second horse went by, then the third...

    ...and then, it was time.
     
  21. She leaped from the branches of the tree, landing squarely behind her prey on his horse. Before he even knew what was happening, the dagger was raised to strike.

    But she paused.

    This isn't him she thought, noticing that the man she had just attacked was too fat, and too short.

    She quickly rolled off of the back of the horse, throwing her cloak over her face.

    "What the??" she heard the second horseman cry out.

    "We are under attack!!!" the target screamed out, as he drew his sword.

    She knew she was done for.

    Then she heard the laugh...

    "Muwahahah...!!!"

    Oh s**t, a lich lord!!! she thought as she rolled to a defensive position.

    But this proved to be exactly what she needed. The party she had just attacked assumed it was the lich lord, or at least, they considered it the most immediate threat.

    A smile spread across her face, as she disappeared quickly into the woods.

    Next time she thought, as she made her way through the undergrowth.
     
  22. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "This thing won't fit!!"

    "Yes it will" Abigail said with an annoyed tone, as she pulled at the corset strings.

    "No...*grunt*...it won't!!" Morgana replied.

    "Just stop complaining" Abigail replied. "If you don't hold still, this thing will break your ribs."

    "Okay...enough...stop" Morgana begged.

    She could hear the chuckling from Katie, Angel, and Abigail behind her. She was not happy...

    "I'd like to see any of you get into this thing!!" she said, but she knew that every one of them could do so, easily.

    "Morgana, it's okay, just admit it..." Abigail said.

    "Hey!!" she said, turning to face her sister. "I am not fat!!"

    "Well, I didn't say fat..." Abigail replied, regarding her sister.

    The truth was, Morgana was not fat. She was beginning to look frail in fact. But her weight had shifted. She was not as fit as she once was.

    "F**K this" Morgana exclaimed, throwing the corset to the ground.

    "Morg! Come on" Angel said, picking it up off the ground.

    "Hell no! You get that princess of a tailor up here and have him make me a new one before I have Tiamat rip his prissy head off!!!"

    There was a moment of awkward silence as they considered her command.

    Then there was an outburst of laughter.

    Morgana realized she was over reacting, and joined them in their laughter.

    "You have to get into this, if you ever expect to get into that wedding dress" Abigail told her, snorting with laughter.

    Wedding dress Morgana thought. A chill ran down her spine.
     
  23. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Score one for Clean!!!"

    "That was a good shot my friend!!" Sir Robin said. "But next time, remember, you are shooting at the LEFT target..."

    "Left target you say?" Clean marveled. There's more than one?

    "Um, Clean, when was the last time you had your eyes checked?" Robin asked.

    "I don't know...why?"

    "Seriously?" he asked.

    "What are you saying? That I cannot see?" Clean was getting angry.

    "Hey, I am not saying anything of the sort..." Robin said, holding back a laugh.

    But Clean knew Robin was right. He had missed that attacker the other day...and had played it off as if it was the lich lord.

    "I saw that lich lord the other day" he said, hoping to find out of Robin and noticed.

    "Yeah...you did" Robin replied. "But, did you happen to notice that you had company on your horse?"

    Clean's fears were realized. "So I didn't imagine it then!"

    Robin could tell that his friend was angry.

    "It happens to all of us now and then...it was getting dark and..."

    But he could tell that Clean was having none of it.

    "Bah!!!" Clean said, slipping back into his tropical accent. He did that now and then when he was really upset. "You know dat I could of seen dat mon!! I jus' did'n have enough light!"

    Robin just stood there, regarding his friend. He had known this man since he was but a boy. He had gone through hell and back with him...even if he actually didn't.

    "Cle'ahn" Robin said, doing his best to correctly pronounce his friend's given name, "we all have to face it sometime."

    Clean could feel himself calming down.

    "You are probably right my old friend" he said.

    "Old?" Robin replied. "Who are you calling old?!"

    The two shared a laugh, and decided that they had had enough archery practice for day.
     
  24. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Winter had come, and the lands were covered in snow. The white glistening of the moonlight reminded Morgana of a time long ago. Images of a cabin deep in the Skara woods danced through her mind, like some forgotten song on the edge of one's tongue.

    Frozen, she stood just staring out into the woods from the top of the Guild Tower. Not noticing the pelting sleet that was raining down, she peered deeper into the darkness.

    "Look daddy! Look at Patches! She has the Crystal of Power!"

    "Aye! But can she wield it?"

    "Of course she can, she can do anything!"

    "Perhaps, but if she is to rule this land, is it power alone that gives her the right?"

    "I don't know father. Does it?"

    "Of course not. There is more to ruling than the power one holds my dear little one."

    "Like what?"

    "There is honesty, compassion, valor, justice, sacrifice, honor, spirituality, and humility."

    Those were big words, for such a small girl, yet she remembered every single syllable as she stared into the darkness.
     
  25. "I saw that hart today!" she told her father.

    "He is an impressive creature, isn't he?" he asked her.

    "Indeed he is" she replied, studying her bow.

    "Now, my little huntress, you would not consider robbing the forest of such a magnificent creature...would you?"

    It took some time before she answered. To fell a creature such as that, that would have indeed have been an accomplishment, especially at her age.

    "I...I might, father" she replied, sheepishly.

    "You might? Well, let us consider the 'might' you would use against such foe...shall we?" her father asked, looking out of the window into the snowy woods outside. "You would hunt him, yes?"

    "Perhaps" she replied.

    "You would track him, yes?"

    "Perhaps" she replied.

    "And, when you found him, you would kill him?"

    "Perhaps" she replied.

    "Perhaps?" he asked.

    "I do not know father" she answered.

    He just turned, and looked her in the eye, and then turned his gaze away, and hung his head.

    "I have to go to deal with some poachers" is all that he said.
     
  26. "Morgana..." she heard. "Morgana."

    "I am sorry" she answered, as she tried to wipe the frozen tears from her face.

    "It's okay, I just wanted to see if you were okay. It is cold out here" he said.

    "Oh, Bill" she managed, as she fell into his arms, weeping.

    "It's okay sweetie. Come on, you need to get inside, it is too cold out here" he said, as he wrapped her in his cloak, and took her downstairs.
     
  27. Morning.

    Not Morgana's favorite time of day, but she did enjoy awakening in the arms of the man she loved.

    Only that day, she awoke alone.

    "Clean?" she yawned...looking around the room.

    She was alone. The fire had gone out, and it was extremely cold in the room. She pulled the fir blankets up around her neck, and settled back into bed.

    He'll be back she thought, as she snuggled herself back into the covers.

    The sound of sleet and wind pelting the tower was the perfect catalyst to send her back into the land of sleep.
     
  28. It was not the sound of the voice that woke her, but the shaking.

    "Morgana! Come on now, wake up!" a sweet voice called to her from the land of the awakened.

    Her eyes opened slowly, and did not adjust to the daylight very quickly.

    "K...Katie?" she asked, as the person waking her came into focus.

    "Morgana...are you okay? Can you hear me?" Katie asked her.

    Not fully awake, Morgana regarded her at first, and then replied "Of course I am...what's going on?"

    But Katie did not respond. She just hung her head and looked away.

    Morgana realized, slowly, that the room was full of PoV members.

    Fixing her gaze upon her sister, she asked..."Abi, what the hell is going on?"

    Abigail moved to the side of the bed, and sat down. It was obvious to Morgana that Abigail had been crying...

    "Morgana, I don't know how to tell you this" she started...as Katie began to sob uncontrollably, and left the side of the bed.

    A wave of fear swept over Morgana.

    She couldn't speak, her voice was gone...she was trying to tell Abigail to just tell her what was wrong, but something in her would not let her speak. She was paralyzed with fear.

    An eternity passed ...

    ...and finally, she heard the words from Abi...

    "Clean is dead."
     
  29. At first, she just sat there. She was numb for a moment, and then she realized that her fears were unfounded.

    "Dead?" she asked. "So...we can resurrect him. What is wrong with all of you?"

    But even as she uttered the last words, in dawned on her. No one would be reacting like this if he could be resurrected through magic, or healing.

    Abigail just looked into her eyes, and said softly "I...we...tried."

    No...no, this can't be happening she thought, as she threw the covers off of her, and began to climb out of bed "Well, you are doing something wrong! Where is he, I'll..." is all she managed before falling to the floor on her knees.

    A sudden realization brought on agonizing emotional pain. Abigail knelt down, and put her arms around her sister, as she shook and cried out in pain.

    "Why? How?" she said, through her sobs.

    "We don't know sis, but we are trying to find out" Abigail answered...her voice breaking as she broke into tears herself.
     
  30. The mood was somber in the dinning room, as Blas poured a glass of ale for Sir Robin.

    "I just don't understand it" Robin said hoarsely. "He and I were practicing the bow just yesterday...he never could hit a godsdamned thing...I..." he couldn't go on.

    "It's okay..."Blas said, putting his hand on his friend's back.

    Someone came into the room.

    "It is true then?"

    Blas looked up and saw John Henry standing there "Yeah, I am afraid so."

    "Who did this?" John asked.

    Bill could see the fire in John's eyes. John Henry was a man of few words. A hard man, that worked very hard, and kept to himself for the most part. He had been with the Protectors of Virtue almost as long as Blas himself had, and during that time, he had become a good friend to everyone, but he shared a certain bond with Clean that most of the guild never understood.

    Early on, Clean had befriended John Henry while practicing mining to build strength. John was always mining for ore, and using it to hone his skills as a blacksmith. Clean had no use of the ore, so he would give it to John. Many hours were spent in this way, the two of them working an ore seam, talking, and laughing. It was Clean that had brought John Henry into the guild...and in many ways, it was Clean's friendship that made John feel that he was a part of a family. During their talks, the two had discovered that they were both from the same island in the tropical region. Clean was a little more educated than John, and had seen more of the world, so John was very interested in what Clean had to say. John Henry had not had an easy life. As a young boy, he was sold by his father to slave traders. He had spent most of his childhood mining, and performing manual labor under conditions that would have killed a pack horse. The slaver's mining camp was raided by Lord Cromwell's expedition, and John had been freed, but he had no education, no family, and no where to go. Eventually, he found himself begging on the streets in Britain, but few people were very generous, and even fewer were generous to a 6 foot 9 inch tall muscular black man the size of ettin. So John did what he knew...he mined. He mined for others at first, until he met a young woman that was practicing to be a smith. She was a beautiful young woman, but she was slight, and weak. Mining did not suit her, so she would purchase the ore that miners would dig up using gold that she made from selling her wares. She took John under her wing, and would teach him both smithing, and reading and writing for 2 hours everyday. She had an exotic name that John could not pronounce...so he simply called her his Angel. The name sort of stuck.
     
  31. John just stood there for a moment, looking down at the floor. Blas could see every muscle in John's neck bulging for a moment or two, as the huge blacksmith swallowed an immeasurable amount of pain.

    The John looked up, at the ceiling and asked "How is Lady Morgana taking it?"

    "Not well" Blas replied. "I mean, they were going to married in less than a month."

    Robin's back heaved a couple of times, but he never made a sound.

    A single tear made it's way down John's face, and with that he turned and walked out of the room.

    This is going to be very bad Blas thought to himself, as he watched John leave the room.
     
  32. "Abigail" Bill said, as he saw an exhausted, frayed young lady enter the room.

    The two held one another in an embrace for a moment, and then Abigail said "I need something strong."

    "Wine?" Blas asked.

    "Whiskey" she answered.

    "Make it two" Robin said.

    After that, there was silence in the room, as they all sat, looking at the floor, and drinking their whiskey.

    Eventually, it was Robin that broke the silence.

    "So...we, I mean...who...is going to...you know...a funeral" he asked.

    A long, long silence followed.

    "I don't know" Abigail said "but I guess we need to start thinking about these sorts of things" she added, finishing her drink in one swallow.

    "Funeral..." is all Blas could get out before he burst in to tears.

    "I want to see the body" the three heard from behind them.

    "Morg, no" Abigail said "Not tonight, its..."

    "Abigail! I want to see the body now! Where is he?" Morgana spat, bearly maintaining her balance.

    "We had him taken to Fort Fear" she replied. "But you should not be going..."

    And that was it. With the words "Kal Ort Por" she was gone.
     
  33. She stood there, in the darkness, looking upon those iron gates. Even from a distance, the Fortress of Fear was an imposing sight. She could not help but remember her first visit to that accursed place. None of the rest of the Guild really understood her aversion to the place since it was left to Clean by his deceased father, Al'halzred, but none of them had ever had to assault this fortress either.

    A cold wind cut through Morgana's dressing gown, as she made her way up to the main gate. It was ajar, and clattering in the wind with a rusty sigh. The cold iron was a shock to her system as she opened the gate to go into the courtyard. As she passed through it, a feeling of dread even greater than the first time she had passed through it overcame her. If it had not been for the bone chilling cold, she would have probably collapsed right there, but instead, she pushed forward. As she passed the Al'halzred flower that was the center piece of the courtyard, she noticed in the moonlight, that it was drooping, as if it were dying. In fact, as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, every living plant in the courtyard appeared to be dying.

    A wave of dread ran through her as she opened the front door to the keep. It was no warmer inside than it was outside, in fact, it was possibly colder.

    "In Lor" she said, as her eyes magically adjusted to the darkness, allowing her to see fully.

    Everything looked in place. Everything looked normal...except...the indoor plants. They were all drooping, and yellowing. It was then that she noticed the smell. A hint of decay filled the air. Not as strong as this smell was in the Abyss...but she knew that smell. It was the smell of death.
     
  34. She found him, downstairs, in a plain wooden casket. She took several deep breaths, preparing herself for what was inside. Would he be mangled? Dismembered? Burned?

    And then another thought occurred to her. This could all be some kind of joke. Sure, it could have been. The members of PoV were not above such cruelty at times. She played out the scenario in her head. Everyone was in on it. All of them. Clean set the whole thing up. Knowing that she was depressed about the council leaving, he set the whole thing up to teach her a lesson. For a moment, she smiled a little.

    If this is a joke, I will have Tiamat not only fry each and every one of them, but I will have her rip them all limb from limb she thought.

    Somewhat convinced of her new thought, she threw open the casket, expecting Clean to pop up and yell 'surprise'...
     
  35. ...but he didn't pop up. He didn't even move. And the moment she saw his eyes, which were still open...his face frozen in a terrible grimace...she knew, he was gone.

    A new wave of anguish overcame her, and she fell to the floor crying.

    It's hard to say how long she was on that floor, but she eventually had to pull herself up. It was freezing. She was freezing. And she had questions.

    There was very little wrong with the body. He was not dismembered, not beheaded, not burned, or mangled...there was but a small stab wound to the back, near the base of the spine. Upon investigation, that wound was black...with a few lines coming off of it. A very unnatural wound indeed.

    "Enlil'Nishar" she managed out loud.

    She had seen this kind of wound before. It was from the daggers that Casca's drow used. A dark, and ancient weapon, a terrible abomination of a dagger that could kill not only the body, but the soul.

    Casca she thought.

    "CASCA!!!!" she screamed out.
     
  36. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "My lord."

    "Yes, you may speak" he answered.

    "We have a small issue."

    "An issue, Lik'al?"

    "Um, yes Lord. It seems that we are missing one of the daggers."

    "You don't say?" he replied in an almost sarcastic tone.

    "Yes Lord, one is missing."

    "Very well then. Make a note in the inventory" was the response.

    "But, my lord...can we not...should we perhaps?" the young lieutenant stammered.

    "Perhaps we should what Lieutenant?" he replied, returning the young warrior's gaze.


    "...as you wish mi'lord..." he said, bowing as he left the room.

    Now isn't this interesting? Casca mused to himself.
     
  37. Seething in anger, Morgana turned to leave the room...but she found Abigail, Katie, Blas, and Robin standing in front of her.

    "Get out of my way!" she spat, her voice quivering with anger.

    "Morgana...just wait a second" Robin attempted.

    Morgana drew her swords.

    The look on Katie's face was that of utter disbelief...but the others didn't seem to flinch.

    "Put those away and listen to reason...NOW!" Abigail commanded.

    "You..." is all Morgana got out before she dropped her swords, fell to her knees and began weeping uncontrollably.

    "Somebody gate us out of here please" Abigail ordered.

    The pale blue glow of the moongate illuminated the room.

    "Come on Morg, let's go home, we can sort this out there" Abigail said in a reassuring tone.

    Morgana gathered her swords, and her dignity, and walked through the gate.
     
  38. Katie helped Morgana up the stairs, and made sure that she was safely in bed.

    They had discussed the murder at length, and everyone was completely exhausted. The one thing that they all agreed upon was that Clean was assassinated. Who was responsible was still a matter of contention. Morgana and Katie were convinced that Casca was responsible. Abigail, Robin and Blas did not share their opinion.

    As Katie came back down the stairs, she saw Abigail bidding Sir Robin good night.

    Turning to Katie, Abigail asked "Is she okay?"

    "She is sleeping" is all Katie said.

    "Katie, listen, I am sorry, but I don't see Casca doing all this...why would he?" Abigail asked.

    Katie was not hiding her anger any longer. Morgana was not there, and she was tired of being made to feel like an inferior ArchProtector.

    "Look. You have gone around here claiming to be some godsdamned queen, but I can tell you right now, you have your priorities out of order! That woman up there just lost the man she loves, and we know who did it!! But you want to play politics, and ..." she said, as her nostrils flared.

    But Abigail rose to the challenge "We don't know anything! We just know how he died! We have no way to know who is responsible! And now, you and Morgana want to go off and do what? Start a war against Casca?? With what army? Do you really think this little guild can defeat him and his followers? Get real!"

    It took Katie a couple of moments, but she replied "Then I guess we cannot count on your bow to support us."

    "Us?" Abigail asked, with a tone that reeked of innuendo.

    Katie didn't respond, she just turned and ascended the stairs.

    If I didn't know better, I would swear that she was MoonlightMyst! Abigail thought as she watched Katie disappear up the stairs.
     
  39. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "The scouts have reported in on the left flank"

    "Thank you captain. Please see that the rear battalion is ready"

    "Yes Mi'Lady" the young captain replied.

    "Dismissed" she responded.

    The captain saluted her, and then rode to the rear.

    Ten thousand, nine hundred, and twenty seven soldiers they had amassed...in eight weeks. During that time, they had seen four engagements. Casca's forces seemed limitless.

    "Lady Morgana, the left flank is secure" Katie reported.

    "Excellent. And the rear?" Morgana replied.

    "It is being taken care of as we speak" she replied.

    "Very well. Have the third regiment move forward. If we press our advantage, we can cut off their supply lines from the east" Morgana said with a vacant stare.

    "Of course Mi'Lady" Katie responded. "Permission to speak freely?"

    Morgana hesitated for a moment, and then said "What is it?"

    "Are you still upset at Abigail?" Katie asked, knowing the answer.

    Morgana replied diplomatically "Abigail made a choice. She did not believe in our course of action."

    "I believe in it. And I believe in you" Katie said.

    Morgana met her gaze, and said "I know...and I love you for it."

    A scout rode up and began to report.

    The battles thus far had been extremely bloody. Casca's forces were mostly made up of loyal followers, Elves mostly, and their fighting spirit was much greater than Morgana had anticipated. Meanwhile, Morgana's forces were on the verge of desertion. Supplies were scarce, conditions were harsh, and thus far, only a handful of guilds had thrown their support Morgana's way...and Dawn's court was remaining neutral. The losses had been severe, but at last they had discovered the secret of the Enlil'Nishar for themselves. Deaths were permanent, and this war was seeing many depart the world of Sosaria...forever.
     
  40. After receiving the scout's report, Morgana gave Katie the go ahead to order the advance. They had been pinned down for a couple of days with Casca's forces running raids into their rear lines. This battle was likely to be the bloodiest yet.

    "Mi'Lady, permission to speak with you" she heard from behind.

    "General Korin, of course" she replied. "And General Robin as well I see. Is there a reason you have left your positions?"

    "In private, please Mi'Lady" Robin requested.

    "Katie, halt that advance order!" she yelled out. "This better be important. My tent."

    In the commander's tent, the three were able to speak freely.

    "Morgana...I mean...Lady LeFay..." Draken began.

    "You can dispense with the formalities" she said. "Just tell me what is on your minds."

    "Morgana, we don't have enough manpower to mount this offensive...it's suicide" Draken said.

    Morgana regarded him for a moment, and then asked "and you share this opinion Sir Robin?"

    "Yes ma'am, I am afraid I do" he said somberly. "Even with the tamers we have recently added, we are lacking."

    "I disagree. The flanks are weak, but we are strong in the front and the back. We will spearhead through their lines, dividing their forces" she explained.

    "We'll never make it through the line" Robin said.

    "And, I am afraid morale is at an all time low. I am worried we are going to see our own lines break" Draken added.

    This struck a nerve with Morgana. "Are you saying that you wish to end the alliance between TWT and POV General?"

    "No I would never do that" he responded. "Robin, I will be outside."

    "Draken..." Morgana said "...wait."
     
  41. He paused at the exit to the tent, but did not turn around.

    "I..." she started "I am sorry."

    "Is that all Mi'lady?" he asked.

    "What would you have me do? Surrender?" she asked.

    Turning back to face her, he said "no, I didn't join this army to just give up on the cause. But we must consider falling back...to gather our forces."

    But before Morgana could respond, someone else came into the tent...

    "Withdrawal is no longer an option" she said.

    "Erika? What has happened?" Robin asked.

    "Casca has reinforced and is attacking us from the rear" she informed them.

    "Reinforced? With what?" Morgana asked.

    "A large Ophedian force. At least three battalions" she reported.

    This is it, it's over Morgana thought.
     
  42. "It looks like it's out of our hands" Draken said with a resigned tone.

    "We all need to get back to our troops. This is going to be ugly" Robin said, picking up his crossbow.

    "Erika, Robin, go ahead, I will catch up" Draken said.

    Once Erika and Robin were gone, Draken turned to Morgana and said "I lied to you."

    This took Morgana off guard, "I'm sorry? What do you mean?"

    "When I signed on for this, and committed TWT to it, I said it was because I wanted to avenge Clean's death, and that I wanted to remove Casca from power" he explained.

    "And that was a lie?" she asked.

    "I am afraid it was. I did this because of you. You have been a great influence on me, and I would join you in any battle. It has been my great pleasure to have served in this army, and under you, Morgana. But more than that, I can't imagine having not known you all these years" he answered.
     
  43. "Draken, I...don't know what to say" Morgana said, as she tried to understand the impact of his words.

    "Don't say anything. It's better that way. Let's just things as they are...shall we?" he said with a half smile.

    "If we survive this, you and I will need to talk" she said.

    "Perhaps. Now let's get out there and see if we can rally our forces" he replied.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Lord Casca, the Ophedians are in position, and they have begun their advance".

    "Excellent. Order the forward brigades to begin assaulting their front lines. We should be able to end this peasant uprising by nightfall" he said with smug arrogance.

    "As you wish Mi'Lord" the general replied.

    Casca turned to his second in command and said "Send word to Dawn. Her puppet army has been defeated."

    "At once Lord"
     
  44. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A large fireball crashed near their position, bodies were strewn all about.

    "Close that gap over there! We have archers on that ridge! And get someone over here that can resurrect!!" Sir Robin shouted as he turned to survey the situation.

    There were more Ophedians than they had realized. They were cut off from retreat, and were being enclosed on three sides. Meanwhile, Casca's forces were inflicting heavy casualties on their front lines.

    If I get out of this, I swear, I am retiring he thought.

    But that was his last thought. He only felt the blade pierce his back for a moment, and then everything faded to black.

    Sir Robin was dead.

    "Robin!" he cried as he saw the assassin standing above his body, as he drew his sword. "Hold on, I am coming!!"

    His war mace destroyed the skull of the assassin in one hit, but unlike the assassin, this was not a drowish blade...so he knew that his victim would fight another day.

    "Robin! Robin!" he said, as he flipped his fallen friend over. But he knew it was too late. The hilt of the blade was all he needed to see. His friend had been slain, and would not be resurrected.

    As Blas held Robin in his arms, he realized, this was likely the end for him and his extended family, the POV.
     
  45. Ophedians swarmed the area. The lines were broken. Casca's drow were slipping in and out, slaying as many officers as they could.

    "Mi'Lady, the reports from the rear flank are not good" Katie said, as she approached Morgana.

    Morgana was waist deep in bodies, she and Tiamat had launched a small counter offensive of their own, and had successfully slain hundreds of Casca's troops. Morgana was having Tiamat fell them, and then she was stabbing them through their hearts with her Enlil'Nishar.

    "Morg!!" Katie yelled over the din of the battle. "Sir Robin is gone!"

    Morgana heard her, but instead of responding, she just threw herself deeper into the battle.

    For every one of my brothers and sisters that fall, a hundred of you shall taste death she thought as she thrust her blade into another foe.

    "Morgana!! Look out!" Katie yelled.

    Morgana looked up to see a large black dragon moving towards her, fast.

    "Tia!!!" she screamed.
     
  46. But it was not Tiamat that stopped the Ancient Wyrm. It was a song.

    Morgana stood there, wondering why the beast had not ripped her to shreds, but instead, it stood there, entranced. Morgana gazed around her, and out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of pure white, gleaming in the sun.

    Katie came riding up to Morgana's side and said "I sent word to her before the battle started. I knew she wouldn't turn her back on us."

    The Ancient Wyrm then began attacking Casca's forces.

    "Tiamat!! Attack!" Morgana yelled, directing Tia to help the Ancient Wyrm.

    Katie and Morgana fought their way through the hordes, until they reached Abigail.

    "Abi..." Morgana said.

    "Don't say it sis. I wouldn't miss this for the world!" she responded, as she drew her bow. "And you will be happy to know, I brought some friends of mine...from band camp!" she said with a grin.
     
  47. Bards. Dozens of them! Abigail had gotten several students and teachers from the Conservatory to join her. The Opehdians were turning against Casca's troops.

    "Great work Abi! This will help to even the tide a bit!" Morgana yell to her sister.

    "We need to withdraw! We can use the Ophedians to cover our retreat!" Abigail replied.

    Morgana pondered it for a moment. Part of her wanted to press this advantage, but she knew deep down that it was momentary.

    "Sound the order to fall back!!" Morgana yelled out. "Company commanders! Fall back!"

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "They are retreating Lord!"

    "Into the Ophedians?" Casca laughed. "That's suicide!"

    A scout recalled in beside Casca and reported "We have problems on the second front Mi'Lord!"

    Casca regarded him for a moment, then looked out at the distant battle and said "Don't tell me. They have provoked the Ophedians into attacking our lines?"

    "Y-Yes Lord. But how did you know..." the scout asked.

    Casca didn't answer, he just turned his horse and rode away slowly, leaving the command "Do not pursue them. Engage the Ophedians, then restore the line" with a sigh.

    "Yes Lord"
     
  48. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "782. 783. 784"

    She could hear them counting up the numbers lost or wounded in the battle. It was horrific.

    "Katie, how many of the commanders have reported in?" Morgana asked.

    "All of them, except for Draken Korin and Blas" she answered.

    "Thank you" Morgana replied.

    This could not have gone worse she though, as she cast a healing spell on herself. The wound in her side sealed itself, painfully.

    "You okay sis?" Abigail asked her.

    "I am fine" she answered, "but we need help treating the wounded."

    "Say no more. I am on it" Abigail answered. "But after, we need to talk."
     
  49. They had over fifteen hundred wounded or dead, and almost five hundred had been slain with drow blades...no resurrections.

    "Mi'Lady. We managed to recover Robin's body" Blas reported as he approached.

    Morgana noticed that Blas was bleeding, and cast a healing spell on him.

    "Don't bother. It won't close. I was cut by one of those damned blades" he said.

    "Bill, how bad is it?" Morgana asked.

    "Not bad. It's just a flesh wound, but I have found out that you can't heal these wounds with magic. I am going to have to do it the old fashioned way" he said.

    "Medic!!" Morgana yelled. "Bill...thank you for getting Robin's body."

    Blas was silent for a moment, and then tried to speak "I watched..." he managed, holding back tears. "...I watched him die. I couldn't get to him in time."

    There had been so much death, but this was different. Morgana had known Sir Robin longer than anyone else in the Guild. She had known Robin even longer than she had known her own sister.

    "What have I done Bill?" she asked with tears streaming down her cheeks.
     
  50. Morgana had been threatening Casca since he first usurped the throne. She had threatened to raise an army, and dispose him. Her sister, Abigail, was a legitimate successor to the throne, but since Dawn had returned, Abigail was no longer the next in line. It was suddenly becoming clear to Morgana that any attempt to dispose Casca would have failed...and that her attempt to avenge Clean was going no better.

    At that point, it was doubtful that they could even stave off the offensive that was sure to come, much less mount any more offensives of their own. Reports were coming in of mass desertions, broken supply lines, abandoned positions, and extremely heavy casualties.

    "I'd put us at about half strength Mi'Lady" Katie reported. "I have the company commanders digging in for a defensive battle, but we have rough terrain to our backs. A fighting retreat would be impossible."

    "...We cannot win here. In fact, I doubt we will survive. I can't ask anyone to go on" Morgana said.

    "Are you saying you want to retreat?" Katie asked.

    "No" Morgana replied. "I am offering those that wish to desert, a chance to do so with honor."

    "As you wish Mi'Lady" Katie said. "I will alert the commanders."

    "No. This is something I need to do myself. Gather the troops. I will address them" Morgana said.