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Book II The Bard Chapter Six

Discussion in 'UO White Stag Inn' started by FaelynRose1, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. FaelynRose1

    FaelynRose1 Journeyman
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    The Bard
    Chapter Six
    By Faelyn Rose


    Dominic’s ghost watched in silence as those who had murdered him rummage through his corpse. A dozen of Jack’s men were gathered in the clearing where Dominic had been beaten to death by the brigands after helping Shana to escape.

    The apparent leader of the group, a man with a long black beard, tossed the reagent bag and potion bottles from Dominic’s pack onto the blood covered snow beside his body. Another man, with a green topknot, watched anxiously as his leader searched Dominic’s remains for loot.

    “Those are the only unblessed items he had, Zing†the bearded man said as he stood up “That bardiche didn’t fall under him, I tell you. He handed it off to the lass!â€

    “But where’s the lass then?†his cohort, Zing, asked as he surveyed the trees again “She couldn’t have just disappeared! She didn’t have a runebook, Ben. I snooped her myself.â€

    Before Ben could ponder the question of the vanishing lady, Lord Jack came striding out of the woods. He was dressed in a black hooded robe, black boots and black leather gloves. Jack made is way through the carnage, which Dominic had cause to his henchmen before dying, and stopped near the dead hero’s corpse.

    “Is this the same man who refused to leave the clearing?†Jack asked.

    “Aye, milord†Ben answered “He’s the one alright. It must have been the woman that he was after.â€

    “Where is the lady, Zing?†Jack asked, still staring down at the battered body “Did you search the woods?â€

    “We searched, but her tracks don’t go any further than that tree.†Zing pointed to a large cedar tree to the south. “She just disappeared…â€

    His words were cut short as Jack reach out and grabbed the front of Zing’s robe, yanking him forward until they were nose to nose.

    “She couldn’t just disappear†Jack hissed, twisting Zing’s robe like a noose around his neck, choking him “The lady did not carry a runebook. She could not have escaped without leaving a trail, you fool!â€

    Jack pushed Zing away, causing the brigand to fall back into the snow “Find her!†Jack ordered “And quickly before she dies! I can not keep a ghost locked up in the tower! I want her alive, Zing!!â€

    “Aye, milord†Zing said and scurried into the trees heading south.

    “Ben!†Lord Jack barked “Post some men around this body. Our noble warrior will be back for his things as soon as he finds a healer. Kill him as many times as necessary until his magic weapon and armor have decayed along with his flesh.â€

    “With pleasure, my lord†Ben said, smiling “Consider it done.â€

    From beyond the trees to the north there came a low rumble. Jack turned towards the sound. It was the thunder of a herd of horses running across the frozen earth. A hunting party? This late at night and in a snow storm?

    The pounding hooves were now accompanied by the jingle of many bridles and the shouts of many men. In the next instant two dozen armed riders dressed in red and black swarmed into the clearing like angry hornets. Their weapons flashed as they began to cut down every man they came across.

    Lord Jack slipped a ring of invisibility onto his finger just before the avenging riders passed by him like a tidal wave of death and destruction. Jack pulled out his runebook and instantly recalled away, unnoticed in the confusion of the massacre taking place around him.

    Jack’s henchmen scattered like a flock of crows, not even bothering to put up a fight. But the mounted warriors chased the cowardly brigands into the woods, relentless in their pursuit. Soon the corpses of Jack’s once dangerous gang of murderers were scattered on the ground in every direction.

    The mounted warriors regrouped in the clearing, their black and red tunics, capes and shields contrasting against the pure white of the snow. Half the men formed a defensive circle around the perimeter of the clearing, while the others continued to patrol the trees for Jack’s men.

    Lord Augustus guided his ethereal steed around the dead body of his only son. He carried in his gauntlet cover fist Dominic’s magic bardiche. Augustus stood in his stirrups searching the trees for the spirit of his heir. “Dominic show yourself!†he commanded.

    The ghost in question appeared at his side and the old lord cast the resurrection spell upon it. With a hum of magic energy, Dominic was transformed into mortal form once more.

    “Thank you, father†Dominic said with a smile “You arrived in record time.†he knelt and began to gather leather armor from his decaying corpse.

    Lord Augustus cast greater heal three times on Dominic, bringing him to full health. “I came as soon as I received your message!†Augustus chuckled “Lady Shana delivered your weapon to me, as well. Have you not enough coin in your bank to insure this priceless bardiche?!â€

    Dominic laughed as he pulled his torn and bloodied leather tunic over his head “Of course the weapon is insured, I was using one of your favorite tactics to protect the woman from harm.â€

    “Hah! And what tactic is that, pray tell?†Augustus asked.

    “To remove an inexperienced warrior from the field by sending him on an urgent mission, of course.†Dominic answered as he fitted his leather gorget around his neck “You have used that ploy on many novice fighters over the years. Myself included, Sire.â€

    Lord Augustus’ clansmen, who had surrounded Dominic, laughed and hooted in agreement.
    “A clever tactic, indeed.†Augustus grinned.

    When Dominic was finished dressing, his father tossed the magic bardiche to him “Here is your most prized possession, my son. I return it to you, cleaned and ready to use again.â€

    Dominic caught the weapon in one hand, testing the balance of it and checking the blade for damage. “And the Lady Shana?†Dominic asked, meeting his father’s gaze as he slung the weapon onto his back.

    Augustus gave him a sly smile “Safe, my son.â€

    “How safe, father?†Dominic’s look was one of concern.

    “Four armed guards and my faithful servant Roscoe will escort your Shana back to her family.†Lord Augustus reassured him as he handed Dominic his runebook.

    Dominic tucked the runebook away in his pack “Good†he said, ignoring his father’s teasing smile. Lady Shana was too distracting to even think about right now.

    “Lord Jack is too quick for you, I fear†Dominic said, changing the subject “He escaped like a serpent under a rock.â€

    “He may have escaped†Augustus winked at Dominic “Unless, of course, he decided to slither back to his tower. In that case Jack will be in for a little surpriseâ€

    A smile slowly spread across Dominic’s face. His eyes narrowed with a dangerous glint. “He is mine, father.†Dominic growled as he mounted his ethereal steed “I have a score to settle with his lordship, Jack.â€

    Lord Augustus laughed out loud before ordering his clansmen to head north towards The Grove of Love and the lair of the Dread Lord Jack. The silence of the night was once again broken by the thunder of hooves pounding over the frozen earth.


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

    Jack appeared near the entrance of his Felucca tower. For an instant he smiled, secure in the thought that he had escaped the fate of his men. But he blinked his eyes in disbelief as he gazed at the front door of his home. Eight mounted warriors dressed in red and black were lined up, shoulder to shoulder, across the wide steps leading into the tower. They sat silently atop their steeds, capes and banners waving in the frigid wind, blocking Jack from his fortress.

    “What is the meaning of this?!†Jack demanded, as he backed away from the steps. He opened his runebook as he inched towards the trees “What business have you here, gentlemen?â€

    Two sets of strong hands grabbed Jack from behind and his runebook fell into the snow at his feet. Jack swiveled his head around to find another ten mounted warriors between himself and the woods. Two more men on foot were holding him prisoner.

    One of the warriors who were lined up on the steps before him dismounted. The fighter removed his helmet revealing a long silken mane of black hair and the face of a beautiful dark eyed woman. As the enchanting woman walked towards Jack, her long black cape parted to expose red female armor and red boots. She stopped within inches of Jack and gave him a smile that did not reach her eyes “My business is with you, Lord Jack†she told him “I am Regina, daughter of Lord Augustus, protector of the innocent.â€

    Regina drew her weapon, a golden katana, from her belt and lifted the sharp point of the blade until it touched the tip of Jack’s nose “I understand that you are in the habit of abusing young women, my lord.†Regina’s eyes narrowed as she looked Jack over with obvious distain “I am told that you hold them against their will in your run down excuse of a tower†she sneered and jerked her head in the direction of Jack’s home. “What say you? How do you answer these charges.â€

    “This is a family matter…!!â€Jack exploded with rage, but was cut off as Regina’s blade nicked the flesh on the end of his nose, drawing blood.

    “Family matter?!†Regina laughed “You would have me believe that a member of your own family was forced to seek refuge in the house of Lord Augustus!†She slid the blade across his cheek, opening the flesh. Jack cried out in pain. “I will have the truth, my lord!!â€

    “You have no right to keep her, you harpy’s spawn!!†Jack ranted “Shana is my sister in law!! You will return her to me at once!!â€

    In the next moment Lord Augustus and his clansmen came thundering into the clearing around Lord Jack’s tower, distracting Regina from her interrogation. Jack seized the opportunity to use his wrestling skills upon those who tried to hold him, freeing his arms and tumbling away from the warriors around him.

    As quickly as Jack spun away, Regina was upon him. Her katana hissed through the air, hacking Jack’s leg and leaving him unable to run. With a cry of agony Jack retreated, limping only a few steps before turning back towards Regina. He conjured an energy bolt which knocked Regina into the snow.

    A war cry sounded nearby and Jack turned to see Dominic galloping towards him with a look of fury contorting his face. The warrior’s magic weapon gleamed in the moonlight as Dominic vaulted from his steed and ran the last few feet to where Jack was standing.

    Jack retrieved his ring of invisibility from his pack with lightning speed. The ring was within a hair’s breadth of his finger when Dominic’s bardiche severed Jack’s head cleanly from his shoulders. The dread lord’s body stood upright for several seconds before it crumbled into the snow.

    Dominic stood over Jack’s body holding his bloody bardiche “That is for Shana†he said as the ghost of Lord Jack vanished into the night “But this is not finished, Jack†he shouted after the retreating spirit “I shall take great pleasure in killing you each time we meet.â€

    Dominic walked over to where his sister still sat in the snow and offered her his hand “I am sorry to spoil your fun, ‘Gina.†He told her as he helped her up “But I could not take the chance of that one escaping again.â€

    Regina returned her katana to its resting place against her hip “A quick death was too good for the likes of Lord Jack, brother, it is better than he deserved†she told Dominic as she mounted her ethereal steed.

    Lord Augustus cast a moongate and called to his men “Our work is done here. Let’s us leave this foul place for hearth and home, lads.â€

    His clansman cheered a resounding “HUZZAH!!†before following their lord through the gate.

    Regina caught her brother’s arm before he could enter the gate “The scoundrel told me that your lady is his sister in law, Dominic. Is this true?†she watched the look of surprise her words brought to Dominic’s face.

    “I could not say, Gina†Dominic told her, a frown creasing his brow “I only know that Shana Rose was in need of rescue from this place and that man†he nodded his head towards the corpse in the snow “I sent her home, as was her wish.†Dominic said and urged his mount through the gate.

    Regina cast one last look at the decapitated body of Lord Jack before following her brother.


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

    The sun was beginning to rise as Shana and her guardians approached The Journey’s End Inn. Still wrapped in Dominic’s black cape and riding upon Lord Augustus’ ethereal steed, Shana was finally returning home.

    As the group drew near the wide front porch of the Inn, Shana saw five year old Angus peering at them through a spyglass. As soon as Angus spotted Shana he began calling for his mother, Jeanne Rose, and waving his arms wildly. The child then bounded down the steps and ran across the lawn towards Shana.

    Jeanne Rose came hurrying through the double front doors of the Inn, followed by Kayla and Katie Rose. The women shaded their eyes with their hands and searched the horizon to the south of the building. Upon recognizing her missing sister, Katie Rose ran towards the approaching party, while the other two women waited on the steps.

    Young Angus was the first to reach Shana, wrapping his arms around her leg as she sat astride atop her mount. “Shana I found you! Papa told me to watch for you with my spy glass and I found you!!â€

    Shana reached down, pulled Angus into her lap and hugged him as she neared her home “Indeed, my brave warrior, you found me.â€

    “Shana!! Shana!!†cried Katie Rose as she reached her sister’s side “Where have you been?!!†she took Shana’s hand and walked along beside the ethereal steed “You gave us such a fright!!â€

    “I am sorry, Katie†Shana told her as she placed a kiss upon the top of Angus’ head “I did not mean to cause you worry. I was taken on an unexpected detour.†Shana gave Katie’s hand a squeeze “But I am home now, safe and sound, thanks to these noble knights and their most generous Lord.â€

    Katie studied the five heavily armed warriors, dressed in black and red, who were riding in formation around her sister “I don’t understand, Shana,†Katie Rose said lowering her voice “How did you come to be with these men?â€

    Shana drew her mount to a halt beside the stable gates and let Angus slide gently to the ground “It is a long tale, sister. And one which I will gladly share. But first tell me, where is Amanda?†Shana asked as she dismounted. She was immediately surrounded by Kayla and Jeanne Rose.

    Kayla threw her arms around Shana “Everyone is out searching for you, young lady! Amanda is beside herself with worry!†Kayla said as she hugged Shana tightly and then drew back to allow Jeanne Rose to take her place.

    “Poor Seamus seems to have aged ten years in the last day†Katie said as she wiped tears of joy from her eyes with the corner of her apron “No one has slept since you disappeared. I don’t understand, Shana. Why didn’t you return to the dungeon? Where have you been?â€

    Shana wiped sudden tears from her own eyes with the back of her hand. She was so tired and shaken from all that had happen, she just wanted to go to her room and climb into bed. “I will tell you everything after I thank these kind men…†Shana turned and stopped mid sentence. Lord Augustus’ warriors were gone. They had quietly departed, leaving Shana safely with her family.

    Shana looked down at the black woolen cape which she still wore. Dominic had fulfilled his promise. He had rescued Shana from the frightening Felucca forest and returned her safely to her family. A weary smile curved her lips and in her heart Shana silently thanked Dominic for all that he had done.


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

    When Amanda and Seamus received word that Shana Rose had returned home, they immediately made their way to The Journey’s End Inn. It was late afternoon and the couple found the rest of their family already gathered on the second floor of the Inn around the hearth in the common room.

    Bronson and Patrick were teaching young Angus to play checkers at a table by the window, while Kayla, Jeanne Rose, Katie Rose and the infant Molly Rose enjoyed the warmth of the fire. The women were sewing as Molly played upon a bear skin rug at their feet.

    “Where is Shana?†Amanda asked anxiously, crossing the room to her sister.

    Katie Rose placed her index finger against her lips “Shush, Amanda. Shana has retired to her room.†she whispered “When last I looked in she was asleep.â€

    Amanda and Seamus joined the ladies, each pulling up a chair by the hearth. “What was her explanation?†Amanda whispered “Where has she been?â€

    “Twas that black hearted Jack that had the lass.†Patrick said, rising up out of his chair. “I SWEAR THAT I SHALL HUNT HIM DOWN….â€

    His booming voice stopped abruptly as everyone else in the room said “SSSSHHHHH!†in unison.

    “Jack?†Amanda repeated, bewildered “Jack was to blame for Shana’s disappearance?â€

    “Aye, he was in the dungeon and saw her die.†Bronson informed Amanda “He sent a couple of his men to find her at the healer and bring her to his home.â€

    “I will never understand my brother†Seamus said with a scowl “His need to cause trouble at every turn has always baffled me.â€

    “Jack told Shana that he was protecting her from OUR stupidity†Bronson grinned “by keeping her locked up in a tower in Felucca.â€

    Seamus’ face turned a deep shade of red as he roared in outrage. “PROTECTING HER FROM OUR STUPIDITY???!!â€

    “SSSSSSHHHHHHHH!!!†the others reminded him to lower his voice.

    There was complete silence for a moment while Amanda and Seamus digested the explanation of Shana’s disappearance.

    Finally Amanda sprang up from her chair “I must see her.†she reached out her hand to her sister Katie “Come, Katie, show me where she sleeps.â€

    Katie took Amanda’s hand and together they climbed the narrow stairs which led up to the third floor. There was a long corridor lined with doors on either side, each door leading into a bedroom. Katie guided Amanda half way down the corridor and quietly opened one of the doors.

    Once again Katie placed her finger against her lips and cautioned Amanda to silence. The two women peeked into the quiet room and saw Shana Rose curled on her side in the center of a large bed. Amanda felt tears of joy fill her eyes at the sight of her youngest sister.

    “Thank the gods that she is home again†Amanda Rose said softly. “But what in the world is she wearing?†she asked Katie, wiping her eyes with a lace handkerchief.

    “Come down stairs†Katie whispered “and I will tell you all I know about our dear little sister’s adventure.â€

    Amanda carefully closed the door, leaving Shana to sleep in peace. Shana Rose remained as her sisters had found her; fast asleep with her bright hair spread across the white pillow, her hand curled against her cheek and her entire body cocooned within the warmth of a large black cape.


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

    The hour was late when Lord Augustus and his family finished their dinner in the private rooms of his fortress. He and his lady wife, Loria, along with their grown children, Dominic and Regina were gathered around a table by the fire.

    Lady Loria, directed the servant, Roscoe, to remove the dinner plates from the table. The wife of Lord Augustus was dressed in a scarlet robe, her silver hair carefully woven into two buns on either side of her head. It was a style befitting a lady of advanced age. A style from a time long ago. Her daughter, Regina, was also clad in scarlet, while the men wore robes of black.

    “So once again my brother is a hero†Regina said, as she poured wine into her father’s cup “gallantly coming to the rescue of a damsel in distress.†she moved around the table filling Dominic’s cup as well “I am sure that she will be eternally grateful to you for aiding in her escape†Regina slanted a sly smile in her brother’s direction.

    Dominic frowned at his sister. Regina had always taken delight in baiting her older brother and knew the best ways in which to do it. He felt annoyance at Regina for giving their father a reason to turn the conversation to the topic of Dominic finding a suitable wife. The old lord made no secret of the fact that he longed for grandchildren.

    “You showed great trust in Lady Shana†Lord Augustus told Dominic “by giving her your bardiche.â€

    “The question of trust never entered my mind†Dominic replied.

    “Trust is important between a man and a woman†Augustus told him.

    “Aye. An honorable woman makes a good wife.†Regina added smiling at her brother’s discomfort.

    Dominic said nothing

    “I am sorry that I was not able to meet the young woman who returned your bardiche, Dominic.†Loria said as she sipped her wine “Your father tells me that she was quite lovely.â€

    “A flame haired beauty, I believe were his exact words†Regina corrected sweetly “Would that be a fair assessment of the lady’s charms, brother?â€

    Dominic sat back in his chair, rested his elbows on the arm rests and steepled his fingers below his nose. His dark eyes narrowed intently as he stared at his sister “A very fair assessment, Gina.â€

    “Perhaps we shall meet your lady sometime in the near future†Regina continued with an impish grin “you must invite her to tea this week.â€

    “Excellent idea!†Lord Augustus chimed in, his face lit with anticipation “The lady was fair of face and quick of wit. Your mother and I would be most happy to entertain your young friend…â€

    Dominic stood up abruptly “Father please!†he said, a scowl darkening his face “I scarcely know Shana and she is barely out of the classroom. No doubt, you would have me engaged to her within the week.†he cast his sister a look of warning as she giggled “When will you cease to meddle in my affairs?â€

    “Dominic is right, Augustus†Loria told her husband as she rose from her chair “you can not choose a wife for your son. Try to find some other way to amuse yourself, my love.†she kissed Augustus’ cheek as she passed him on her way towards the door. “Come, Regina. You have taunted your poor brother enough for one evening.â€

    Regina sighed as she pushed back her chair “Aye, mother†she said rolling her eyes. “Good night, Father†she brush a kiss on Augustus’ forehead “Good night, hero.†Regina saluted Dominic as she disappeared through the door.

    Dominic leaned his arm against the wooden mantle of the fireplace and stared into the flames. Again the image of Shana’s face just before she recalled away rose up in his mind. The sorrow in her eyes as she watched him die seemed to haunt Dominic.

    He would not admit to anyone that he wto see Shana Rose. For Dominic knew that she was far too young for him to pursue. It was best for both he and the lady that they should not meet again.

    “I had Roscoe make this for you†Augustus’s voice interrupted Dominic’s thoughts “do with it as you please, my son.â€

    “What is it?†Dominic asked, still staring into the flames.

    “I will leave it here upon the table†Augustus answered in a tired voice “Good night, Dominic†his father said and quietly left the room.

    “Good night, Father†Dominic mumbled, keeping his back to the empty room.
    Dominic turned his head and surveyed the dinning room table. There upon the shining wood was a recall rune, its color had been turned to a dull blue with the magic of being mark in Malas.

    Dominic picked it up and let his thumb slide across the smooth surface of the stone. The ancient runic symbol, which marks all runes, appeared on the top. Turning the marked rune slowly in his palm, Dominic read the inscription on the bottom, naming the destination of the stone. It read: The Home of Shana Rose.
     
  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    As usual, the story couldn't be better. It is a fine example of the quality of stories we have come to expect of you.

    hehe, I can never keep a straight face while trying to speak seriously. I will eagerly await the next installment!
     
  3. FaelynRose1

    FaelynRose1 Journeyman
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    Thank you, milord, for the kind words of encouragement. It is never easy for the one who writes to know if their words are telling the story in a way that is understandable. This tale seems to be writing itself. I can't wait to see what will happen next!! /php-bin/shared/images/icons/smile.gif

    Lady Faelyn Rose
     
  4. neroallkill

    neroallkill Guest

    a good writer is able to paint a picture in the readers mind. you did that quite nicely. awesome story telling....
    maybe you should apply to that writers opening that strats has...