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Book II The Bard Chapter Five

Discussion in 'UO White Stag Inn' started by FaelynRose1, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. FaelynRose1

    FaelynRose1 Journeyman
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    The Bard
    Chapter Five
    By Lady Faelyn Rose

    Shana Rose stumbled to a halt. A gust of arctic air hit her in the back, nearly knocking her down. Her body shuddered from the cold. Her teeth were chattering uncontrollably as she steadied herself against a nearby tree.

    The hem of Shana’s velvet gown was heavy with wet slush and her slippers offered no protection from the ice which had formed over the surface of the snow. She could barely feel her feet.

    In hind sight, Shana thought, she should have looked through the chests in the workshop of Jack’s tower for leather leggings and a tunic. The armor would have been warmer and more importantly it would have enabled her to run. Oh what she wouldn’t give for her soft leather boots right now!

    It seemed like a week since she had set out on her first dungeon adventure with Seamus, Patrick and Bronson. But it had been only yesterday.

    “Stay focused on what lies ahead†Shana repeated Patrick’s words of advice “stay focused on returning home.â€

    But she was tired, freezing cold and lost in this Felucca forest. The frigid north wind seemed to be draining her strength and numbing her mind. Fighting the sudden urge to cry, Shana started to trudge forward through the snow once more. Sooner or later she had to come across a road.

    Shana wondered if she were walking in circles. She could hear the shouts of men in the distance behind her. She looked up at the full moon again. Keeping the moon over her right shoulder as she walked, Shana gathered the heavy wet skirt of her velvet gown in her hand and continued the journey home.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Dominic crouched behind a tree and listened. The sound of two sets of boots crunching through the snow were approaching from the north. Dominic waited until Jack’s men were just past his position before attacking them from the rear. His magic bardiche delivered a deadly blow to the closest murderer. The mortally wounded brigand fell into the snow with an agonized cry. The dead man’s companion attempted to defend himself with a spear. But Dominic’s magic bardiche glistened with blood in the moonlight above the brigand’s head before ending his life, as well.

    Dominic moved silently through the Felucca forest. In the distance he could hear Lord Jack and his men searching for Shana Rose. But Dominic knew exactly where the lady could be found. He was following her footprints in the snow and covering them as he trailed her.

    A movement ahead caught his attention. Dominic stopped beside a gnarled oak tree, his breath misting the winter air. The full moon illuminated the woods. The snow sparkled like diamonds as he surveyed a small clearing to the south.

    There, standing in the light of a snow dusted moonbeam, was Shana Rose. She was dressed in an elegant blue gown. Her hair hung in a long thick braid down her back, the loose tendrils curled around her face. She was carrying a lap harp in one hand. The other hand was braced against the trunk of a tree.

    As if sensing his presence Shana straightened up and looked directly at him. For a moment they stood staring at each other, transfixed. To Dominic it was as if his vision of a fairy queen from some childhood tale had come to life. Her skin was as white as the snow which quietly fell around her. The flame red color of Shana’s hair seemed to glow with magic. But her soft voice broke the spell.

    “Please†Shana said, tears welling in her eyes “let me go.â€

    Dominic saw that she was shivering with cold. He cautiously approached her, removing his thick woolen cape as he drew near. But the young woman backed away, her delicate fingers shook as they plucked upon the strings of her lap harp.

    Dominic realized that Shana was attempting to play a magic bardic spell. Peacemaking, no doubt, in the event that he meant her harm. “That spell does not work on those who wish to help you.†he told her.

    Dominic stopped a few yards from Shana. “Do you remember me, Shana Rose?†he asked.

    Shana moved away several more steps, stumbling on the ruined hem of her gown. Dominic was sure she was going to fall, but Shana recovered her balance and whirled around to face him.

    “Please tell your master that I must return to my family.†She had a look of desperation in her eyes and her body shook uncontrollably.

    “I have no master.†Dominic answered as he slowly advanced. He had seen men die of the harsh winter cold and knew that this woman would soon succumb to the elements.

    “I am Dominic. We met in Britain a few short hours ago†he smiled and held out his cape to her “You were a ghost walking in circles and talking to yourself when we met. Do you remember?â€

    Dominic watched the changing emotions on Shana’s face as his words penetrated her fear. A smile of recognition spread upon her trembling lips for a moment before panic widened her eyes.

    “You are one of Jack’s men!†she cried out and turned to run.

    Dominic moved quickly, tossing his cape out like a fisherman casts his net, catching Shana in the thick folds of the garment. He hauled her towards him, wrapping her in his black cape. “Nay, Shana, I am here to help you.†Dominic said as he easily pulled her to stand before him. “I swear to you that what I say is true.â€

    Shana seemed too tired to struggle as he secured the cape around her shoulders. Dominic studied her upturned face and felt his breath catch in his chest. She was even more lovely than he remembered. The fear and confusion in her eyes flooded his heart with a fierce need to protect her. He silently vowed to kill Lord Jack the next time their paths crossed.


    Shana searched Dominic’s face for the truth. Was he really going to help her? Or was this another of Jack’s tricks? If this man was not one of Jack's henchman, how did he come to be here? Shana's ordeal had left her exhausted and dazed. Perhaps she was hallucinating from the extreme cold. Perhaps this was all a dream.

    A wave of dizziness washed over her. Without realizing it Shana let the harp drop from her numb fingers into the snow.

    The woolen cape still retained Dominic's warmth and scent. Enveloped in the rich thick wool, Shana began to feel the heat returning to her body.

    “Are you real or am I dreaming?†she asked.

    Dominic put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze “I am very real, my lady.â€

    Shana reached towards Dominic’s chest and clutched the front of his armor in a death grip. “Please do not leave me here.â€

    His hand moved to gently capture her chin. He tilted her face upward so that he could look directly into her eyes “I promise to see you safely away from this place, Shana Rose. You have my word of honor.â€

    She leaned into him, laid her head against his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Dominic, how did you find me?†Shana asked, her voice was muffled in the leather of his armor. "What magic has brought you here?"

    Dominic suddenly felt awkward and uncertain of what to do. His life had been spent on the battle field. Killing his enemy was something he understood well. The women he knew were either seasoned female warriors, capable of fighting toe to toe with any man, or sultry barmaids, wise in the ways of world.

    But comforting an innocent young lady in distress was new to him. Dominic let his arms encircle the beautiful woman wrapped in his cape. Her sweet softness startled his senses. His mind felt drugged by the scent of her hair. He gathered Shana tightly in his arms as her violent trembling began to subside.

    “I returned to the healer and saw you entering the moongate accompanied by two criminals†Dominic told her as he felt the silky texture of her cheek brush against his rough unshaven jaw “I followed you thinking that perhaps you were in need of my assistance.â€

    “They tricked me into thinking that my family had sent them.†Shana replied, lifting her head from his shoulder.

    She sighed and looked up at him “I was a fool to go with them.â€

    “You are learning, lady†he smiled down at her. The color was returning to her face.

    “I did not heed your warning about entering Felucca moongates†she confessed with a shy smile.

    Dominic chuckled “You managed well enough to escape without my aid. I am impressed by your resourcefulness. That spear jammed through the door handles was a nice touch.â€

    Shana laughed softly. “It was a feeble attempt to contain my kidnappers.â€

    Dominic laughed “You did well, Shana Rose. Indeed, you show great promise as a warrior.â€

    They smiled at each other, their faces inches apart, sharing the heat that radiated between them. The snow continued to dust them in white.

    Their smiles faded as Dominic lowered his lips to Shana’s and pressed a slow, warm kiss upon them. Shana’s lips responded and her arms found their way around his neck of their own accord. Everything else in the world seemed to fade away, leaving nothing but the warmth of that kiss.

    Dominic lifted his head, a shadow of concern past over his face “I am sorry to have been so bold, Lady Shana, please forgive me.â€

    Shana opened her eyes and whispered “Are you truly sorry?â€

    Dominic hesitated for a second and then gave her a lopsided grinned “In truth, I am not sorry at all.â€

    She smiled and lay her cheek upon his shoulder again with a contented sigh.


    A shout in the woods nearby brought Dominic’s thoughts back to reality. He swore as he realized that he had let himself be distracted by the woman in his care. Even the smallest distraction in battle could cause a warrior to be killed. Dominic had let his guard down for only a few minutes. But it was enough time for Jack’s men to catch up with them. Dominic would have to act quickly to make up for such a blunder.


    Taking Shana’s hand in his, Dominic hastily led her further to the south. After they had traveled a short distance into the woods he stopped behind a large tree.

    “I will open a gate to my home†Dominic told her as he slung his weapon across his back and reached into his pack. He pulled forth a worn runebook and opened it.

    Dominic chanted the magic words to conjure a moongate. But as soon as the spell left his lips he was struck in the shoulder and chest by two crossbow bolts. An instant later a flame strike brought Dominic to his knees.

    Shana Rose stifled a scream as Jack’s men began to emerge from the trees. She felt the weight of Dominic’s leather runebook being pressed into her hands.

    “Go!†Dominic commanded her in a strained voice as he struggled to stand between Shana and Lord Jack’s men. “Recall to my home. My family will protect you.â€

    “I will not leave you...†Shana began, but was interrupted as Dominic took his heavy bardiche and hung it across her shoulder.

    “Take this magic weapon to my father.†Dominic said as he gently pushed her away towards the south “do as I say, Shana.†he ordered firmly.

    Before she could respond, more deadly crossbow bolts stuck Dominic in the back. He grunted with pain and turned towards the attacking brigands. With a mighty war cry, Dominic tackled the two closest murderers. The three men crashed into the ground so hard that the earth shook beneath Shana’s feet.

    “GO NOW SHANA!!†Dominic shouted as he pummeled the face of one attacker with his fists.

    Shana flipped open the runebook, put her finger on the magic blue jewel next to the word “HOME†and pressed down. In the split second before she recalled away, Shana saw that Dominic had killed one of the men before being beaten into the snow by half a dozen heavily armed murderers.



    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


    Shana appeared near the steps of a stone fortress. The towering structure rose up three stories against a backdrop of tall rugged mountains. The leaves upon the surrounding trees proclaimed this to be the lands of either Trammel or Malas. The air was cold and a gentle breeze blew down from the mountains tugging at the red and black banners which adorned the fortress. In the misty half light, Shana could not tell if it were morning or evening.

    “Dominic’s home†Shana whispered, gazing up at the finely built keep. The customized grey stone fortress had wide stairs leading up to iron double doors. Draped in Dominic’s thick black cape and carrying his bardiche and runebook, Shana hurried up the stairs. She tapped franticly upon the iron door with the metal tip of the weapon. After a few moments the door was pulled open and an older man appeared.

    The man had short grey hair and a trimmed beard. “May I help you, my lady?†he asked as his dark eyes traveled over Shana from head to toe.

    Immediately a look of surprise crossed his face “How did you come by that bardiche?†he thundered.

    Shana fell back a step at the anger she saw in his eyes. She held the magic bardiche out with a shaking hand. “Dominic, my lord…†she managed to croak.

    “My son!†the man exclaimed “Where is my son?!â€

    “Felucca, my lord†her voice trembled with emotion “Dead in Felucca. He bade me bring this weapon to you. His last wish was to save it from his murderer.â€

    The man blinked at Shana in disbelief “What trickery is this?!! He would never give up his weapon!†He advanced towards her “You lie! No single man could kill my son!â€

    “There were many men.†Shana told him as she saw, in her mind, the image of Dominic being beaten to the ground, his life’s blood spreading red across the white snow “too many for him to fight.†Tears began to roll down her cheeks, wetting the dark wool of Dominic’s cape.

    Dominic’s father grabbed Shana by the shoulders and gave her a slight shake “Where is he, child? Where in Felucca?â€

    “The forest near Lord Jack’s tower.†Shana cried as she hung her head in sorrow. “In a clearing. I know not where, my lord. I became lost in the woods. Dominic was trying to rescue me from Jack when he was overwhelmed by murderers.†her tears flowed freely “I am so sorry that I can not tell you more.â€

    The old man slowly released her. All the anger seemed to drain from his body. “Aye, that would be Dominic’s way. To give his life saving you from murderers.†A strange half smile appeared on his lips and pride shown in his eyes “My son was born to be a hero. A true hero.â€

    “Aye, a hero†Shana sniffed “Dominic thought only of my welfare when he sent me here in his stead†she held up Dominic’s runebook for his father to see. “I am sorry to bring you such unhappy news.â€

    “Dominic placed this weapon in your care?†the old man stared thoughtfully at the bardiche tightly gripped in her small hand “He told you to save it for him?â€

    “Aye, my lord. He asked that I see it safely into your hands†she wiped her eyes on Dominic’s cape. “I am so sorry that I could do nothing to help him.â€

    “Tis I who should apologize,†he told Shana “Forgive me for my harsh words. You have honored my son’s wishes.†He held out his hand to Shana “Please come into my home and warm yourself by the fire.†he took Shana’s arm and escorted her through the iron doors. “I will gather my warriors and go to Dominic’s aid. Fear not, child, for I know of the place where that Dread Lord Jack makes his lair.â€

    Dominic’s father led Shana Rose into a great hall with a roaring fire in the hearth. The old lord bellowed “ROSCOE!!†as he guided the young woman to the dining table in the center of the hall. He held a chair out for her to sit upon.

    A male servant came rushing towards them. The servant stopped when he saw Shana. His mouth dropped open in shock as he noticed the magic bardiche of his master’s son in her possession.

    “Rest here, young lady.†Dominic’s father told her gently “My man will see that you are fed and returned safely to your home.†he took the runebook and bardiche from Shana and slung the weapon across his back.

    “Thank you my lord†she gave him a tired smile.

    “You may call me Augustus†he smiled back, a curious twinkle in his eyes “May I know your name, child?â€

    “I am Shana Rose†she answered.

    “It is a pleasure to meet you, Shana Rose.†Augustus took Shana’s hand “A pleasure indeed.â€

    Lord Augustus held Shana’s hand for a moment longer, smiling down at her with a look on his face that Shana could not comprehend. Then he turned and hurried towards an arched doorway “I will take my leave now, Lady Shana.†he called back to her as he disappeared into the hallway. “I must find Dominic.â€

    Shana sat staring after Lord Augustus. She pulled the black cape closer around her shoulders. Her thoughts were focused on Dominic’s fate.

    Images of Dominic flashed before her mind’s eye. She recalled the moment she had seen him in the clearing, looming up out of the snow like a dark daemon from hell… the way his eyes had smiled into hers, stealing her will to run away.

    Shana Rose unconsciously lifted the corner of the black cape to her lips as she relived the moment when Dominic had placed himself between her and Jack’s murderous horde of men.

    Shana blushed as she remembered Dominic’s kiss. A strange new emotion filled her heart. It was a mixture of joy and sorrow. Sweet longing and pain.

    What had become of the man who had given his life to save her? What had become of her hero?
     
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    hey, you finally got the next part done! btw you spelled arctic wrong in the first line /php-bin/shared/images/icons/tongue.gif
     
  3. FaelynRose1

    FaelynRose1 Journeyman
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    Sorry about that :p I could use a good proof reader! It took me longer to get around to posting this one...the holidays, r/l stuff...the usual. Hope you enjoy this chapter. I will try to get the next one done a little quicker.
     
  4. I enjoyed it as well.

    Perhaps my old bones will have to start visiting more often as I do not recognize any of the faces here...