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The Fortress of Fear

Discussion in 'UO Atlantic' started by Morgana LeFay (PoV), Feb 28, 2009.

  1. I have had some request for some new stories. :beer:

    Now, I know that not everyone enjoys my tales...so please, if fiction like this is not your thing, please just scroll on by.

    Thank You.
     
  2. I had just come through the front door of the Guild Tower when Erika ran up to me in tears. It had been an especially hard night, and the weather was not exactly perfect either. The sleet was pelting the tower doors, and my shield was coated with a thin layer of ice from the ride back.

    "Erika, what is the matter?" I asked her.

    "It's Sir Robin. He has been captured by the Shadowlords!" she responded.

    My mind raced for a moment...the forces of Shadowlords had not been seen in our lands in some time, since before that usurper Casca had ascended the throne.

    "Are you certain? That doesn't make any sense." I asked.

    "Yes, I was there! He was fighting a Lich Lord when suddenly these black figures emerged from the shadows. They grabbed him, and disappeared in a strange vortex!" she told me.

    "We must send the word out to the Protectors. Has Anasazi or Sheol been told?" I asked.

    "No. I have told no one besides you mi'lady." she said.

    "Who else is here?" I asked.

    "Just me, and John Henry...he is using the forge." she answered.

    I was exhausted. Clean and I had been killing people in Felucca all evening. It seemed that his hunger was growing everyday. Something seemed to be fueling it, but we didn't understand what it was. It had been a night of fierce battle, and while my mind knew what had to be done, my body was simply not willing.

    "Can you ask John to come down Erika?" I asked.

    "Of course, I will go and fetch him." she responded.

    A few moments later, he came down the stairs into the foyer.

    "Mi'lady, you wished to see me?" he asked respectfully.

    He was covered in sweat. From head to toe. His muscles rippled beneath his tanned skin. It was obvious that he had been working. Working hard. I decided I could not ask him to act as a messenger.

    "Have you seen Sindee this evening?" I asked.

    "No ma'am. I have been smithing all evening...and besides you, and Lady Erika, I have seen no one."

    "Very well. You look very tired. Perhaps you should get some rest." I told him.

    "Mi'Lady...if it is not out of place...might I recommend you do the same?" he said to me.

    "I will. And thank you." I said.

    But I knew that I would know no rest that evening. And I watched him ascend the stairs. And I turned to head out of the front door once again.
     
  3. I recalled upon my rune marked for Luna. I knew I could find a few of the PoV there. I arrived, and sure enough, there was Jade conducting business at the bank.

    She saw me approach, and called to me "Lady Morgana! It is good to see you!"

    "Jade, we have a problem."

    "By the looks of you, I would say the problem is fatigue. Did you know that you are covered in blood?" she said.

    I looked down, and sure enough, from the waist down, I was indeed bloody. I had been too tired to notice before.

    "Sir Robin has been taken by the Shadowlords. We must assemble." I answered.

    "What? Who told you that?" she asked.

    "Erika witnessed it." I answered.

    She paused for a moment.

    "Okay. I will begin the rounds. You go to bed." she said. "But first, seriously...clean yourself up...you look like double whopper with cheese." she said as she turned to ride away.

    Look like? I thought. I wished I felt that good.
     
  4. I recalled back to the Guildtower, and I saw that Clean had arrived. He was looking even more pale than usual. And weak.

    "Clean...you don't look so good." I said to him as I approached the entrance to the stables.

    "I don't know what's wrong with me...it's been a while since I became, like this...and I haven't felt this way since I started feeding." He said, as he released his charger.

    I was putting Rayder away, and I could not help but remember the way Clean looked when I came to him and told him that I would not let him die. He had that same look now...hollow, weak, and somehow vacant. I could sense that he was slipping away.

    "It's like I am killing, but I am not able to absorb the life energies anymore" he said.

    I really had no answers, but I had to tell him about Sir Robin "Have you heard about Robin?"

    "No. What is wrong with Robin?" he asked.

    "He and Erika were out hunting and he was taken by the Shadowlords...or at least that is what Erika says" I replied.

    "What?! What are we doing here?! We have to find him!" he said in an exhausted voice.

    "Jade is gathering the guild. In the meantime, you and I need rest." I told him.

    He agreed and we made our way inside.

    Already Abigail was there.

    Abigail understood why Clean and I had to do what we do, but she did not approve of us killing innocents. The less she was told, the better, for if she knew the extent of the killing, she would likely try to put a stop to it.

    "Morgana! Clean! Jade told me what happened to Robin!" she said as we came into the entrance hall. "Dear gods! You two are soaked in blood! What have you been doing?"

    I just gave her a look. "Jade is gathering the guild. Once we are all together, we are going to decide on a plan of action. Has anyone else arrived?"

    "No, Jade found me first at the Conservatory. I was visiting with Monsieur Piete" she answered.

    "Okay, can you try and find Anasazi and Sheol?" I asked her.

    Then I heard a voice from behind me. It was Sheol.

    "No need Mi'Lady, I am already here" he said as he arrived. "Did you know that you are covered in..."

    "Yes. I do." I interrupted. "I need to clean up and get some rest. Please let me know as soon as the others arrive."

    I went upstairs and grabbed the large kettle from the forge. A hot bath was going to feel incredible. I went up stairs and poured the hot water into the tub, and then turned the spout on the cistern to fill the tub the rest of the way.

    As I began to remove my armor, I noticed that not all of the blood on me was that of our victims. I had been stabbed.

    Terrific I thought as a cast a healing spell on myself. The wound closed nicely. I stepped into the bath. It was nice and warm.

    I allowed my mind to wander. I started to think about Clean's problem...and that was about it.

    The next thing I knew, Abi was waking me.
     
  5. I dried myself, and I was still feeling tired, but not as badly as I had before. My head was clearing, and my mind was starting to focus on Sir Robin.

    I went over to my armoire, and selected some clean under garments. Then I started to put my armor back on. I noticed my tunic was done for. It was an artifact I had gotten from Jade, and unfortunately, it had been repaired one too many times. So I put it in the scrap trunk, and started about finding some new armor.

    I had never used the no reagent armors. Something about that seemed unnatural to me, but I decided today was the day to finally give it a try. So, I went into the storage room, and pulled out the new set of Sorcerer's Armor that I had received as trade for some old items.

    I have got to dye this I thought as I donned the lilac purple armor pieces. But once it was on, I took a look in the mirror...and I actually didn't hate it.

    I heard a knock on my door...and said "Who is there?"

    "It's me Morgana." It was Abigail.

    "Come in Abi." I said.

    "The guild is here, and we are ready for you. Wow! You look good! Finally something other than black!" she said.

    "Yeah, I need to dye this." I said...half jokingly. Abigail rolled her eyes.

    I made my way down the stairs and to the guild room.
     
  6. I got a rather strange look from a couple of the guild council as I entered...but no one said anything.

    I took my seat at the head of the room. It had been some time since the entire guild had convened like this.

    Anasazi called the guild to order, and took his seat.

    "Lady Erika has informed us that Sir Robin has been captured" I began. "We have reason to believe that the Shadowlords are responsible."

    A murmur went through the guild, and I asked everyone to settle down.

    "We have to discover the truth behind this. If the Shadowlords are invading our lands again, we must send emissaries to the Faction Lords...and Casca, the newly crowned usurper."

    I knew that Casca would not receive any of my guild. It was no secret in the land that I was threatening to raise an army against him. And in fact, this was my very plan until Sir Robin was taken.

    "Mi'Lady?" a guild member called out. It was Sindee. She was a new member of the guild, and still not even considered a Protector.

    "Yes? You may speak." I replied.

    "Might I ask, how do we know that this is the work of the Shadowlords?" she asked.

    "Right now, the only information we have is the eyewitness account provided by Lady Erika. She saw Sir Robin abducted by a pair of Shadow Fiends. Unless someone else has learned to control them, then it is most likely the Shadowlords. That is all we have to go on right now." I answered.

    "Mi'Lady?" Sheol spoke.

    "Yes? You may speak." I responded.

    "I am doubtful that this is the work of the Shadowlords. The moons are not aligned properly for them to have access to our world. It is not completely impossible, but it is highly unlikely." he said.

    Sheol is perhaps the most knowledgeable person in Sosaria when it comes to astronomical events, and how they relate to magick, so I would not doubt his word.

    "Indeed. Sheol, we need to know for certain if the Shadowlords could have entered our world at this time. I entrust you to find the answer for us" I told him.

    "I will mi'lady" he said.

    "We also need to know if anyone else has reported seeing any signs of the Shadowlords, or their Shadow Fiends. We need to send scouts to the cities of Sosaria...especially Umbra." I said. "Abigail, you are well known in Britain, would you go and see what you can find out there? And Anasazi, you are are well known in Trinsic, perhaps you could go and ask around there?"

    They both responded affirmatively, and we assigned someone to head into every city. Clean and I would head into Umbra.

    The guild began to mobilize, and soon they were gone.

    "I like the new look. It might make it a little harder to sneak up on our prey, but I like it." Clean said to me.

    "Well, thank you! I am not sure I like it yet." I answered.

    It just seemed a little odd for a Dread Lady to be dressed in such a cheery color.

    Oh well.
     
  7. Clean and I recalled into Umbra.

    I would say it was a ghost town, but the pun would be too bad! :D Needless to say, no one was around besides the usual shopkeepers and such. We started asking around, but to no avail.

    "This is getting us nowhere." Clean said. "We are going to have to go to Yew. To Fel."

    "You're right. I just wanted to see if anyone here had any information before we went there." I replied.

    I am no stranger to Felucca. Clean and I killed there nightly, But Yew in Felucca...that is a place I had not been in a long time.

    After the gods ripped our world in two, Felucca, my home, turned into a nightmarish graveland...filled with the worst murderers and thieves in Sosaria...and to make matters worse, there were no longer virtuous guilds there to keep them in check.

    But even the crazed killers in Felucca knew that the area around Yew was especially dangerous, for it was there that the most bloodthirsty of the murderers sought to test themselves against one another.

    Long ago, when I was but a small girl, death was something to be feared...but now, it was more of an inconvenience thanks to some really poor decisions by the gods. It was this lack of consequence that allowed these murderers to behave in this manner. And, I must admit, it was the same lack of consequence that had allowed Clean and I to prey upon the innocents in Felucca. We never wasted our efforts killing those that actually deserved it anymore. There was no point. They did not see it as anything but a minor inconvenience, and we stood nothing to gain by it. Felucca was lost to the murderous rabble that inhabited it...and had been for some time. But regardless, we had to go to the Shadowlords' faction stronghold in Yew.

    When I was young, I would hunt the liches that would haunt those crypts. Now, something far more dangerous, and far less intelligent, than liches occupied those same crypts.

    Clean pulled out a marked rune.

    It was time.
     
  8. We recalled in to Fel just behind a large Yew tree near the crypts. Immediately, the decayed smell of the crypts was apparent. In the old days, this smell was faint, but now, since the world was torn apart, it was almost as pronounced as the gods awful smell of the abyss.

    Something happened to me at that moment.

    I had thought myself over my decades and decades of torture in the Abyss, but this smell caused me to flash back somehow.

    I have not talked about the abyss much since I returned, but I feel I must explain because this is crucial to the tale.

    Suddenly, I was back in the Abyss. My left hand was on fire, and above me stood a demon. In his hand was an axe. He proceeded to relieve me of my right foot, then my left.

    These axes were never sharp mind you, so it took several painful swings to remove a limb.

    Somehow, I had gotten used to it. Not that it didn't hurt, but I was over most of the horror. I would scream of course. Anytime one of your limbs is hacked off with a dull instrument, you scream. But somehow, it was rote...routine. I had been stabbed, burned, sliced, crushed, quartered (that one really sucks by the way), bashed, ripped, ****d, scraped, beaten, mauled, boiled, eaten, mangled, ground up, and of course...hacked to pieces about a million times by then. I knew that the next pain would be no worse than this one, and that the one after that would be about the same as well. Believe it or not, your mind learns to sort of work through it. It is unbearable at first, or so you think. Then you begin to concentrate on the moments in between. There are few. Very few. But in those moments, you learn to quickly forget the pain, and escape into yourself...because that is all you have left.

    I saw something there in the Abyss, as the demon planted his goat-like hoof in a place I would rather not mention here. A memory nearly forgotten by me.

    It was like a dream...a bad dream, but something I am glad I recalled.

    I fell to the ground weeping. Clean grabbed me and threw me behind the Yew tree.

    "Morg!! Snap out of it! What is it??!!" he said, looking around cautiously.

    I was now having what equates to a seizure.

    Let me see you go through hundreds of years of unimaginable torture and not freak out...ok?

    Before I could snap out of it, they were upon us.
     
  9. At first, the servants of the Shadowlords thought that they had found a couple of well equipped victims.

    But even they knew who Clean was.

    By this time, Clean's reputation as the Soulless eater of life had proceeded him.

    These two-bit punks were in awe. They had striven to be like Clean, to walk his path. I do not know why, because none of them were like Clean. They were simply human filth that had lost their way. But they somehow thought themselves to be true monsters. And in someways I guess they were. But Clean was someone that even these half-witted, blood-thirsty, murderers looked up to.

    "Are you, Mmm-Mista Clean?" one of them said, rather nervously.

    Clean stood up to his full 2 meter height, and looked at the young man and said "Cle'ahn."

    "Wut?" was the response.

    "I said, my name is Cle'ahn. Not 'Kleen'." he replied.

    "So, are you Mr. Clean then?" one of the others asked, in a slack jawed manner.

    "Yes. I am." he responded in a seething tone.

    "Huh...you been killin' for a long time, ain'tcha?...Huh?" one of them said.

    Clean was a very imposing figure. His body is like that of a Titan. Ripped, muscular, powerful. His skin, now, pale white. His eyes blood red. And his armor pitch black. Most that encounter him know...he is not to be trifled with. Apparently that was lost on this group of three morons.

    "Indeed" Clean said. "Now, how would you three like to provide me with some information?"

    "Whu-Whassamatter wiff 'er?" one of them drooled.

    "She is fine. Now about that information..." Clean was growing impatient.

    "She got a disease or summfin?" the drooly one said.

    "No. She's fine. Now I am giving you one last chance to answer my questions." Clean said.

    Of course, anyone that would use the term "Summfin" is not smart enough to know what is good for them...and what is not.

    "Heh...Looks like 'ee wants to plays lads!" the leader of the three said.

    "Right! I'll run 'im fruh with my sword!" the drooly one said, and drew is weapon.

    He was dead before he could move. And before the other two could react, their heads lay at Clean's feet.

    "This is getting us nowhere." he said.
     
  10. I was coming out of my flashback, Clean was trying to calm me down.

    "Morg, what was it? What did you see?" he asked.

    "The Great Red Dragon" I answered. "He is chained in the Abyss. A prisoner there."

    "Okay. But what does that have to do with anything?" he asked impatiently.

    "I don't know...but I know that I saw him while I was there."

    "Morg, you have to put it behind you. You are no longer a prisoner there. We have work to do here. Believe me, I have flashbacks too. I know the horrors." Clean said.

    Of course he was right. He had been a prisoner in the Abyss as well. He was not there as long as I was, but as I have mentioned before, time is distorted there.

    I quickly gathered myself, and we began to move closer to the crypts. We were almost to the entrance when we spotted two Shadowlord faction riders approaching.

    These two didn't look quite so inept as the last three.

    Rather than fight them, Clean just stepped out of cover and hailed them.

    "Hail! Followers of the Shadowlords!" he shouted to them.

    They slowly turned and approached. They were riding dread warhorses, and well armored. This was not going to be an easy fight if it came to that. I slipped my hand into my pack. The crystal summoning ball felt smooth and cold.

    "And who might you be?" one of the riders asked Clean.

    "I am Cle'ahn. I have only come here to ask you some questions." Clean answered.

    "Cle'ahn. I am afraid I do not know thee. And you trespass here." the rider said.

    "Wait" the other rider said. "I know him. This is the so-called Soulless one."

    "That is right." Clean answered. "I did not come here to do battle. I am seeking only information."

    "What makes you think we are going to assist you, or that wench you have hiding behind the Yew tree?" the first rider said. "You might as well come out, we have known you were there all along" he directed at me.

    With that, I stepped out.

    The second rider looked as though he had seen a ghost as I stepped out.

    "Morgana? Morgana LeFay?" he asked.

    He was wearing a mempo, so I did not recognize his face...not at first.

    "I am." I responded.

    "Well well. This is a surprise." he said.

    "Do I know you?" I asked.

    He removed the mempo, and there he was...a face I had thought I would never see again.

    "Zodiac. It has been a long time." I said.

    Many years ago, Zodiac was a vicious murderer that stalked the forests near Yew. It looked like not much had changed. We had clashed on several occasions.

    "I had heard you had passed on. Pity you didn't remain in the Abyss. Perhaps I can help to send you back there." he said.

    "Wait!" the first rider said. "What are you two doing here? Speak."
     
  11. "It would seem that your masters, the Shadowlords, have seen fit to apprehend one of my guild." I said.

    They both shared a puzzled look, then the first rider said "You must be mistaken. The Lords have not been among us for many moons."

    "Then perhaps you can explain how Shadow Fiends captured our guildmate?" I replied.

    "I have no explanation for that. And I am running out of patience. If the Shadowlords were operating in Sosaria, we would know it." he said shortly.

    "That is why we came to you." Clean added, playing on their egos.

    "We are done here. Leave this place. Now." the first rider said. But Zodiac did not seem so eager to let us go that easily.

    "Morgana!" he screamed "Corp Por!"

    And with that, he caught me with an energy bolt...and the fight began.

    Clean drew his sword and charged the first rider. But the rider was swift, and threw a bola at Clean, knocking him off of his charger. Meanwhile, I produced the summoning ball. It was time that these two met her...

    ...Tiamat. The perfection of dragonkind and my ally.

    Besides Rayder, I had known no greater bond between myself and a non-human creature. Tiamat appeared at my side, and did not even need to wait for instructions. Immediately, she unleashed her fury upon Zodiac. He was attempting to dismount, so that he could order his Dread Warhorse into the fray, but he was in the land of the dead before he could react.

    Meanwhile, Clean was getting up, and the first rider was upon him. He cast a necromantic spell upon Clean...but he did not count on the fact that Clean was immune to it. Quickly Clean rushed him, swiping him from his mount.

    I took that moment to point out to Tia that the riders mount was unprotected. She proceeded rip it to pieces. Meanwhile, I drew my swords, and rushed to join the battle.

    The rider, caught by surprise, struggled to regain his footing...but it was too late for him. Clean grabbed him by the back of his neck, and raised his sword in the air.

    When someone is beheaded, it is a gruesome sight, but when Clean did it, it was even more so, because you could see the life energies flowing from the corpse into him.

    When Clean was done feeding, he said to me "I don't think we will get any more information here. We should head back."

    I agreed, and we recalled back to the Guildtower.

    I stabled Tia, and we proceeded inside.
     
  12. "Do you think they were lying?" I asked.

    "No, they seemed puzzled. I believe that if it were the Shadowlords, their demeanor would have been different." Clean replied.

    He didn't look good. Even after feeding upon that murderer, he look as if he had not fed in days.

    "You don't look good." I said.

    "Well, thank you..." he said with a smirk.

    "You know what I mean. I am not kidding around. You look bad. Like you haven't been feeding. Seriously. Tell me what is going on, I mean it!" I said, turning to face him.

    He had trouble looking me in the eyes, and said "I am fine."

    I grabbed him, and kissed him hard on the lips. Then as we pulled apart, I told him "Stop lying to me. I can see it. I can feel it. Now what is going on?"

    He put his arms around me, and said nothing. But I knew what that meant.

    Clean was dying.
     
  13. Sheol entered the Guildtower. He looked angry.

    "Those fools!" he said, throwing his arcane shield down on the floor.

    "What is wrong?" I asked.

    "Those utter fools!!! They have ignored everything that they have learned!" he said angrily.

    "Who Sheol, what are you talking about?" I asked.

    "The Council of Mages! They have turned their backs on the Virtues, and on Lord British!" he said.

    "I am afraid that everyone has turned their backs on Lord British...and Abigail for that matter. They seem smitten with this Elf...Casca." I replied.

    "But they don't understand!! Casca cannot be king! He is one of the them!!" He said.

    "One of who?" I asked.

    "Morgana...what do you know of Mondain?" he asked me.

    "I know that he trapped Sosaria in the gem of immortality." I said.

    "But what do you know of him before that?" he asked.

    "Well, not much really. Why?" I asked.

    "When Sosaria was one, Mondain was a wizard. A powerful wizard. But he was not born that way. He had a mentor. A being from another world. Some have believed that it was one of the Shadowlords. But even the Shadowlords came from somewhere." he said. "Casca, is much, much older than the people of Sosaria know. He is not what he seems to be. He is...false." Sheol said.

    "Sheol. I understand that this is a matter of utmost importance, but I have to ask...what does this have to do with Sir Robin?" I asked.

    "I don't know. But I do know that the Shadowlords did not capture Sir Robin...and that whoever did, is working for Casca!" he said.

    I stood silent for a moment. I knew he was right.
     
  14. About that time, Abigail came into the Guildtower. She was spattered with blood.

    "Morgana!" she managed...as she fell to the floor.

    "Oh gods! What happed Abi?!" I said, as I raced to her. I could already hear Sheol uttering the words 'In Vas Mani'.

    Abigail had been stabbed, several times...it was a miracle she was even alive.

    "They jumped me, right outside of Britain..."she said, just as Sheol's spell took effect.

    "You were in Felucca?" I asked.

    "No...it was in Trammel" she said, as her wounds closed.

    In Trammel? I thought.

    "Abi, who did this?" I asked.

    "It was elves. Lots of them." she answered.

    "Elves?!" Clean asked.

    "Yes...there were probably ten or twelve of them. They looked...different than the elves we have seen. They looked...wild...somehow." she responded.

    "It couldn't be!" Sheol said.

    "Couldn't be what?!" I demanded "Will someone please explain this to me!"

    "Drow. Dark Elves." Sheol said. "And this makes perfect sense!"

    None of it made sense to me.
     
  15. Sheol explained that despite what many thought, the elves were not children of Mondain. Quite the opposite in fact. Mondain was an indirect descendant of the elves. And his father...was an outcast of Elvendom.

    Just like the race of men, Elves were both good and evil. And the Drow, were what the evil, or dark, Elves called themselves. But, they had been separated from the Elves for so long, that their very evolution had followed a slightly different path.

    The Drow had grown powerful, in both magick, and the art of war.

    And now they were finding their way into Sosaria. Or perhaps they have been among us from the beginning? Either way, they were now acting openly...and this was a threat to the peace in Sosaria.
     
  16. "Do you think that the Drow are responsible for Sir Robin's capture?" I asked.

    "I am not sure Mi'lady, but the timing does seem rather odd." Sheol answered.

    "But why would they want to do that?" I asked.

    "Umm...do you really have to ask that?" Clean chimed in. "You have been rather vocal in the taverns lately about your disapproval of Casca. In fact, I seem to recall you threatening an armed uprising."

    Clean was right. I had made been making some noise lately about Casca usurping Lord British's throne...a throne that should have passed to Abigail.

    "So you think that Casca is behind this? But why go after Robin? He has done nothing to Casca, why not come after me?" I asked.

    "You are not so easy to catch Mi'lady..." I heard from a woman behind me.

    It was Jade. She had just entered the Guild tower through the stable entrance.

    "Jade! Thank the gods you are safe" I said, and I embraced her.

    "I have not had much luck in finding Anasazi or Angel. But I did ask around, no one reports seeing them recently either" she responded.

    About that time, someone else entered the hall. It was Bill Blas.

    He came running over to me with his arms spread wide..."Oh honey!!! This is awful!" he said as he hugged me in his rather...overt...manner. "We have just got to find him!"

    "Hi Bill. It would seem that we have others missing as well" I replied.

    The PoV had once been a very large guild, with more than a hundred in her ranks, but now, we had grown small.

    There was myself, of course, and Clean. And Abigail, and Sir Robin, and Anasazi, Sheol, Jade, John Henry, Sindee, Angel (also known as Forge Angel), and Bill Blas.

    And with Robin, Anasazi, and Angel missing, we were dwindling even more.
     
  17. "Trinsic is under attack." Jade said...almost casually.

    "Attack?" Sheol asked "By whom?"

    "I saw Orcs, and humans in armor. The townspeople had begun to panic and were fleeing. I was going to stay and help to fight off the attackers, but I knew that I needed to report this" Jade said.

    "So we have Drow assassins operating in Britain, a mixed army of Orc and men attacking Trinisic, and Shadow Fiends grabbing people. Something about all of this does not add up" Clean said.

    It was puzzling. We had heard reports of various armies attacking Trammel cities, but we were under the impression that had something to do with the Faction War being fought in Felucca. This was all becoming very strange.

    "I am certain that Casca is involved in this." I said. "Let us gather our strength. Tomorrow, we shall travel to Britain, and see if we can discover the truth."
     
  18. That night, I could not sleep. I tossed and turned in my bed. I was used to being awakened by nightmares, usually of my time in the Abyss, but that night was different. It was like something hung in the air, something unseen, something...disturbing.

    I grabbed my kimono from my dressing table, and wrapped it around myself. I made my way out on to my bedroom balcony, and stared out into the night. On the horizon, I could see an occasional dull flash of light.

    A storm must be approaching I thought. But then I realized, there were no clouds in the sky...and this time of season did not favor thunderstorms. So I moved up to the roof of the Guildtower. From there, I could see a little further, so I grabbed my spyglass. There were more flashes, but I could not make anything out.

    It has to be a far off storm. I thought, and I made my way down stairs to the kitchen. There were no lamps burning, so it was very dark. Suddenly, a chill ran up my spine. I could not move. I was paralyzed!

    Then, I heard the words "In Lor" from behind me, and suddenly I could see. Behind me was Sheol...and in front of us both, were two hideous black Shadow Fiends!!

    Sheol was smart, instead of simply attacking the fiends, he summoned a large Demon. (I say this was smart now, but while that Demon and those Shadow Fiends proceeded to break every single piece of furniture on the bottom floor of my tower, it didn't seem like such a great idea!)

    I let out a loud scream, but the first of the guild were on their way downstairs having been wakened by the clamor.

    Quickly, the Shadow Fiends were dispatched...and Sheol's big helper dispelled back to the Abyss.

    "Morgana! Are you alright?" Clean asked.

    "Yes, I am fine. But if it hadn't been for Sheol, I wouldn't have been." I said. "How did you know?"

    "I didn't!!" he laughed. "I had been up late reading in the library, when I heard a sound. I slipped on my ring, which provides me with night sight, and saw those two things almost on top of you! It was lucky I am a night owl."

    "Very." I said, as I pulled my kimono tightly around me. It was freezing in there.
     
  19. "It appears that whoever is behind this knows where we are, and has managed to gain access to the Guildtower." Jade said. "Perhaps it is best if we relocated until we can get to the bottom of this?"

    "Perhaps she is right" Sheol said. "My tower is large enough to house the entire guild...and it is well protected."

    I hated to move the guild. Not really because it mattered where we were, but because the Guildtower was set up with our guild in mind. Every room was either designed for group meetings or meals, or individual study. From the music room, to the alchemy lab, to the sewing room, to the forge, to the dining hall, to the Guild Room, everything was designed so that we would have access to whatever we needed. But Jade was right. And Sheol's tower was large enough to house us all, even if it meant we had to make some adjustments.

    I suddenly had another eerie flashback. As I gathered my things to move to Sheol's, thoughts raced through my head of the night the Protectors of Virtue fled Felucca. I could still smell MoonlightMyst's hair, as we held one another waiting for the Army of Darkness to kill us. And I could still hear the guild screaming at me through the gate as it closed.
     
  20. I am not sure how long I had been standing there, lost in thought...but suddenly I heard Abigail say "Morgana!!! Let's go!!!"

    That snapped me out of it. I was standing there, not even finished with my packing. Come on Morg, get it together! Don't be a flake! I thought to myself as I gathered the rest of what I needed.

    Before long, we were all assembled on the roof.

    "Morgana and I will open gates to the tower" Sheol said "and you all just head on through."

    "That's strange." Clean said, not paying attention to Sheol. "What is that?"

    "I don't know..." Jade replied, moving over to where Clean was standing.

    I turned to join them on the edge of the roof, and there were strange shapes moving through the night.

    Abigail let out a groan, and it was obvious that she was in pain. This made no sense, her wounds had been healed completely.

    "The spawns of hell!" she managed. "Clean...I am sorry...but...Augus Luminos!!!" she yelled.

    Clean went down in a heap.

    A wave of brilliant energy swept forth from her, and she was right, below us was an army of creatures straight out of the Abyss. Devourers, Wanders of the Void, Demons, Abysmal Horrors...and worse than that...the Collector of Souls himself.

    "Noooo!!!!" I screamed, I was nearly paralyzed with fear. I couldn't go back to the Abyss.

    "Morgana!!" Jade yelled out, as she rushed to me. "Snap out of it!! We need your help!"

    "We need to get out of here!" I heard Sheol say.

    Abigail was firing on them from the top of the tower with righteous indignation. But without Sir Robin, Aasazi, and myself, we would stand no chance of repelling this horde, and I was in no shape to fight.

    Sheol opened the gate, and he moved to help Clean in "Jade, grab Morgana!"

    I could see the Demons landing on the roof of the tower as they dragged me screaming through the gate. And with that, we were at Sheol's.

    The PoV had been forced from their home again, but this time by a different kind of Army of Darkness.
     
  21. I was a mess. The rest of the guild, other than Clean, seemed to not really understand. I was crying uncontrollably, and shaking. Abigail came to me, and put her arm around me, but I was somewhere else mentally.

    "Morgana? Are you okay?" Abi asked me, but I didn't answer.

    "We better get her inside, and to bed" Jade said.

    Meanwhile, Sheol was taking care of trying to heal Clean...but he was not responding.

    "Great! Just great!" he said "Two of our strongest Protectors down, and three more missing!"
     
  22. I woke later, in a bed at Sheol's. It was about mid day. I was calm again, so I got out of bed, and gathered my armor and belongings. I was about to head downstairs, when I heard someone approaching.

    It was Abigail. "Morgana, we have to talk" she said, as she entered the room.

    I could tell this was serious, so I sat down on the bed with her.

    "What is it Abi?" I asked.

    "They...the guild that is...well, they..." she stammered.

    "Abi, what is it!" I asked.

    "They don't think you should lead us anymore" she said.

    I was stunned. I never expected that. I guess, I should have, given all that had happened to me, and how prone I was to having flashbacks and loosing control of myself...but I really wasn't ready to hear that.

    "What?! But why?" I asked.

    "They just feel that until you are ... better ... that you should allow one of the ArchProtectors to lead." she said, sort of looking away.

    "Who?!" I demanded.

    "Well, they wanted me to do it...but I refused. Morgana, I would never want to ..." she said, but I cut her off mid sentence.

    "Abi! Who?!" I asked forcefully.

    "Jade."

    "What?!!! Why Jade?!" I was furious. "She can't lead us! She cannot take my guild from me!"

    "Morg, she doesn't want to do it" Abi said.

    "So you agree with them?!!! Abi you are my sister!!" I yelled.

    Abigail stood up, and got right in my face "Listen! Don't start this rubbish with me! For years I have stood by and watched you make an absolute mess of your life! It was you and your affair with that woman that led you, and this guild, into all of this ... sh*t!"

    I didn't know what to say. Almost immediately, Abigail started to apologize. But once something like this was said...it couldn't be taken back.

    "What does Clean think about all this?" I asked.

    "He is still unconscious. Sheol is worried." she said.

    "So, you are backing them in taking over my guild...and you killed Clean...great job!" I spit back.

    "F**k you Morgana" she said...as she pushed past me out of the room.
     
  23. My mind was reeling. I couldn't believe this was happening...and I was angry, really angry.

    I stormed out of the room, and raced down the stairs. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, the only one there was Bill Blas.

    "You feeling better sweetie?" he asked.

    "Where is Jade?!" I asked harshly!

    He regarded me with a concerned look for a second, then he stood up and grabbed me by the arm and said "Look missy. You sit your boney ass down and listen to me. Now, I am not like a lot of these people, you know I will tell you exactly what I think! And you need to get it together!"

    Again I was stunned...but unlike Abigail, when Blas got in your face, you listened...our he might pull your hair out.

    "Bill, let go..." I said.

    "No, now I am not about to let you go off half-cocked and start some cat-fight with Jade over this. You want a cat-fight sweetheart, you got one right here!" he said with a snap.

    I was somewhere between flabbergasted and pissing myself laughing.

    Suddenly I broke out laughing.

    "What?" he asked...and started laughing a little himself.

    "Oh Bill..." I said, as I put my arms around him "...what have I done?"

    "There we go, that's better..." he said, as he stroked the back of head. "Morgana, we all love you so much."

    "But why are you trying to take my guild?" I asked.

    "No, sweetie, its not about that. You are sick. Everybody sees it. We just want you to get better" he said.

    I couldn't help but cry. And he just held me there while I did.
     
  24. After I calmed myself, I went up to check on Clean.

    Just like Abi had said, he was still unconscious. And he really didn't look good. Clean was a big guy, about 6 and a half feet tall, and muscular, the body of a warrior. But that night, he looked frail, and his skin was not the usual bloodless pale that it had become since his sacrifice, but ashy and dry. His breathing was very slow.

    I spoke to him "Clean? Can you hear me?". But he didn't answer.

    I covered him with a blanket, and I left the room. I wanted to break down and cry, but I knew that it was that kind of emotional outbursts that had gotten me to this point. I collected myself and headed up to the roof of the tower.

    As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw Abigail standing there, staring off into the distance...her white armor shining in the sunlight.

    I walked up behind her and put my arm around her and said "I am sorry."

    She looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and was about to say something, when I noticed something.

    "Abigail...are you...smoking?" I asked in disbelief.

    She looked rather embarrassed and said "I...yes. Okay yes I am. I started it back at the conservatory, and sometimes when my nerves are bad I just ... it helps."

    She gave me a hug, and threw the cigarette over the side of the tower.

    "I need a drink" I said to her and she smiled.
     
  25. We headed back down stairs to the dining room. Blas was still there, and he already had 3 shots poured.

    "I figured you would be back" he said with a smile.

    We sat there for a good while, talking about the old days in Britain and had a few drinks.

    I was feeling a little better about everything, and I was beginning to think that perhaps this was for the best. Since the day I snapped out of my ... condition ... after I was rescued from the Abyss, I had taken back the reigns of the Guild, and had continued to help Clean to feed...and somewhere in there, I forgotten to deal with the things that I had left behind. And I was an emotional and nervous mess. Little things would send me back into that almost delirious state I was in after the Abyss. I would collapse, I would cry, I would shake...and during those moments, I was useless to anyone. Sometimes the flashbacks would last moments, other times hours.

    Later that night, we would have a guild meeting...and for the first time since its inception, the Protectors of Virtue guild meeting was headed by someone else.

    Later, after the meeting...Jade came to me.

    "Morgana, I want you to understand. This is just temporary. When we get through this crisis and find our missing members...I want you to take the guild back" Jade told me.

    "We will see Jade. Everyone was right. I am in no shape to lead this guild right now...and I cannot promise that I ever will be again. But there are more important things to consider right now." I said.

    "How is Clean?" she asked.

    "Not good." I answered.

    "Sheol is going to Umbra to try and find some answers. I think we have to make Clean our first priority right now." she said.

    "You know what? Why don't I do that? I need some time away...and who knows, maybe I can find some answers for myself. The rest of you should concentrate on finding the others." I said.

    She thought about it for a moment, and agreed.

    A plan was made. I would take Clean to some place safe. And I would try and find a way to help him...and the rest of the guild would try to find the missing Protectors.

    But I had no idea where to take Clean. I didn't know who I could trust, but it had to be someone that was not in the PoV. We could not have whoever was behind all this finding Clean in this condition...he would be easy prey...and Sheol and I were not sure that he had enough life energy left in him to resurrect if he was killed.

    I had to come up with something, and fast.
     
  26. I gathered Clean's things, and placed them in a saddle bag. I strapped that onto Rayder, and then cast strength upon myself. This gave me enough strength to get Clean on Rayders back, prone.

    I was all set, and I said my goodbyes to the guild. Clean and I had to get lost, literally. I cast incognito on myself, and my body and my face began to change. I took a look at myself in the mirror.

    Not bad! I thought.

    I was about two inches taller, and about twenty pounds heavier...all of it in the chest!

    The gods must have a sense of humor! I thought. If Clean sees me like this, he may not want to me change back! I thought with a little smile.

    Shortly, we were underway. I had wrapped Clean in a shroud, and we gated into Umbra. I was going to rent a room at the inn, but I remembered something. Abi had a friend that lived near there. Her old schoolmate...Ashely.

    We arrived at the small shop...and Ashley was there alone, tuning a standing harp.

    "Greetings!" She said warmly "How go your travels today?"

    "Not so well actually" I said. "Ashley, I need your help."

    "Do I know you?" she said, standing up from her work.

    "Of course, I am Abigail LeFay's older sister...Morgana."

    She looked at me for a moment and then said "Um...no, I remember Morgana, she had blue eyes and black hair...your eyes are green. Now what is this all about?"

    Then it hit me...I was still incognito.

    "Ashley, its me! I just cast an incognito spell on myself!" I said.

    "I think you should leave miss" she said, backing up slowly. Then she suddenly produced a crossbow.

    "Whoa! Whoa! Hold on!" I said "Just hear me out..."

    "I said LEAVE!" she said, raising the crossbow to the firing position.

    "An Ex Por!" I said. And with that, she was paralyzed. This was a knee jerk reaction on my part, and unfortunately, it was the wrong place to do so...for before I even knew what had happened, one of the Royal Guards teleported in and relieved me of my life.

    There in the ethers, I could see my body slowly changing back to its original form. I stood there for a moment, not wanting to leave Clean...but I knew I had to find a healer.

    Come on Morg! I thought You really don't have it together these days!
     
  27. Once I was back in the land of the living, I quickly made my way back to the music shop.

    As I entered, I saw Ashley standing there looking at my corpse.

    "Ashley...don't shoot! It's me, Morgana!" I said, as I entered.

    "Oh, Morgana, I am so sorry!!" she said.

    "It's okay, you didn't do it! It was my fault..." I said.

    She came over and hugged me.

    "How have you been?" she asked.

    "Not good." I said, as I gathered my belongings.

    She offered me a cup of tea, and after we got Clean upstairs and settled, I explained everything to her. How MoonlightMyst had betrayed me, how I had taken my own life, how Clean had saved me from the Abyss by sacrificing his own soul, and how we had come to find ourselves on her doorstep.

    She cried during the part of the story where Clean rescued me from the Abyss and said "That is the most romantic thing I have ever heard!"

    (I get that a lot when I tell the story)

    And I explained to her that I owed Clean my life, my soul actually...and that I could not let him die.

    She offered to hide Clean at her house for as long as I needed to do so.

    I thanked her, and I rode into Umbra. I needed to talk to the Necromancer that had told Clean about what he was.
     
  28. The big problem was that I could not remember the man's name. Clean had told me the story, but remember...I was dead and burning in hell when all of that happened, so my memory of it is a little less than perfect. :D

    I cast incognito again, and again my body changed. Once again, the gods saw fit to cast me as the buxom tall red head with green eyes. I made my way around Umbra, asking where I could find a Necromancer...but there were Necromancers everywhere.

    I didn't want to go around asking about soulless ones. That seemed as though it would be too obvious. Instead, I decided to follow the same path that Clean had when he was trying to save me from the Abyss. I started asking about how to resurrect someone from permanent death.

    This led me to a lot of crackpots, and a couple of people that claimed to be able to do it for certain "favors".

    I had almost given up on my search, when someone I talked to mentioned the name of an old man that jogged my memory.

    Alhalzred.

    I asked around about this man...this Alhalzred. At first, most of the people I asked either didn't know of him, or pretended not to.

    Finally, a wrinkled old woman told me where to find him. At his temple.

    I asked her how I would know where it was...and she responded...

    "Seek out the Fortress of Fear".
     
  29. The Fortress of Fear? I thought Why is never the Fortress of Happy Flowers or something?

    I asked her where to find it...but she just laughed and recalled away.

    Okay Morg, that's got setup written all over it! I thought.

    But I knew I would have to find it, because so far, it was my only link to saving Clean's life.

    I began to ask some of the Necromancers in Umbra. Some seemed to not have any idea what I was talking about, or at least pretended they didn't...and a few just wouldn't talk to me at all when I asked about this place. I was stuck.

    Then it hit me!

    Why not check a rune library?!

    I knew the proprietor of a really nice rune library, and she knows the world of Sosaria perhaps better than anyone else alive. So I pulled out my light blue runebook, and off I went to her establishment.

    When I arrived, no one was there. So I began searching through the countless runes.

    Can you imagine how long it took to mark all these? I thought to myself...and then I heard someone enter.

    I looked up, and I saw her coming through the front door...Lady Aalia Winter, I knew that she could help me.

    Without thinking, I just rode up to her straight away and said "Excuse me Mi'Lady, but I am looking for the Fortress of Fear, can you help me?"

    I got a rather puzzled look for a moment, then she said "Do I know you?"

    Oh gods! Not again! I thought.

    "Lady Aalia, it is I, Morgana LeFay of the Protectors of Virtue. I am incognito." I said...waiting for a weapon to be drawn.

    "Why didn't you say so sooner?! Now where is it that want to go?" she responded.

    "The Fortress of Fear...it is the house, I guess it's a house, of a powerful Necromancer!" I said, excitedly.

    "Is it in Trammel, Fel, Malas, Tokuno?" she said looking through stacks of runebooks.

    "Ummm...I don't know" I said and thought Everyone must think I am the ultimate flake.

    She searched a while, and then asked "Who is the owner?"

    "Alhalzred, I think" I responded.

    "Hmmm...I don't seem to have it" she said "But, that name sounds familiar. Let me check something."

    She went upstairs for a few moments, and them came back down with a rune and said "Here you go! Someone I know has a shop near there. It is in Malas."

    Really? Can this be that easy? I thought to myself.

    "Goodluck on your adventures Lady Morgana!" she said with a smile.

    "Thank you Mi'Lady!" I said, as I recalled on the rune.

    That part was easy.

    The next part...not so much.
     
  30. The Fortress of Fear was a dark, and forbidding structure. It's spires stretched high into the sky, and its iron gates looked impassable. It was indeed a fortress, with only one visible way in, through the main gates.

    I approached cautiously, I was concerned that I was walking into an ambush...but there was no sign of anyone around. I pulled my swords, and slowly made way to the gates. They were locked. I stared up at the large guard tower to my right. There seemed to be no one in there. Through the gates, I could see the remains of a courtyard garden. The trees were barren, the plants dead. Near the center of this garden of decay were two stone statues. They had a familiar look about them, but they were so worn that I could not make out what they were. I was considering attempting to find another way in, when a heard a voice...

    "Welcome. How may I be of assistance" a crackling, deep voice said. The accent was notable, something like the dialect in the tropical regions. It too sounded vaguely familiar.

    "I am looking for someone. A man named Alhalzred" I said.

    "Found 'im you have" the man said back, as he stepped out of the shadow of the large L shaped structure.

    "You are Alhalzred?" I asked.

    "Indeed. You can put dem weapons away. I will not be hurtin' ya!" he said, as he approached the gate.

    I did not want to let my guard down, but I did not want to antagonize the man either...so I did sheath my swords.

    "Much bettah'!" he said, as he opened the gates "Now, what tis it dat I might be doin' for you? Lady LeFay."

    Has my incognito spell worn off?! I thought, as I looked down at my chest No, still got these!

    He could sense my panic, and said with a laugh "Do not worry, I can see much dat is hidden."

    Great. I thought and then said "Then you probably know why I am here?"

    "I have some idea. You come callin' 'bout dat wreckless boy dat done gave away he soul" he said, with a little smile.

    "Yes. He is dying." I responded.

    "Well...we can't have dat, now can we?" he said, his smile growing wide.
     
  31. Something grabbed me from behind. I was knocked to the ground from Rayder. I rolled over, and behind me was a Shadow Fiend. Rayder was taken by surprise, but he was fighting back. I quickly turned to face Alhalzred, and a spike of pure pain raced through my body. Then he was standing over me...and he paralyzed me.

    Laughing he said "You make it all too easy for me."

    "Not that easy" I said, as I managed to rub my pet summoning ball.

    With a swirl of mist, and flash of light, there appeared the dreaded Pazuzu, the Lord of Fevers and Plagues...my prized Rune Beetle. Without even a command from me, he leaped toward Alhalzred. Alhalzred was ready though, he dodged the first attack, and cast invisibility on himself. This confused Pazuzu for a moment. Not having a target, Pazuzu turned to help Rayder with the Shadow Fiend...

    "No! Pazuzu! The Necromancer!!" I shouted. Stupid bug! I thought to myself, as I began to feel the paralysis wearing off.

    But before I could get to my feet, Alhalzred summoned a Revenant.

    I knew when I was in trouble, this was one of those times...

    ..."Kal Ort Por!" was all I could say, and with that Rayder, Pazuzu, and I were back at Sheol's tower.

    I instructed Rayder and Pazuzu, after treating their wounds, to stand watch outside. I entered Sheol's tower. No one was there. There were signs of a struggle! Broken furniture, blood on the walls, and the most alarming thing, Jade's prized bow, broken on the floor.

    I knew that something awful had happened. I ran outside, and hopped back on Rayder. Okay...we travel heavy from here! I thought to myself.

    Pazuzu, Rayder, and I recalled to the Guildtower. It too was empty. I surveyed the damage done by the Abysmal army that had assault us. The place was pretty wrecked up, but nothing that could not be fixed.

    Damnit! No one here either I thought to myself. Well, there is only one place I am going to get some answers!

    I recalled to the stable in Trinsic. I stabled Pazuzu and Rayder, and made sure that they were fed...then I asked the stablemaster to bring forth Tiamat.

    Tiamat, as I mentioned before, is perhaps the most powerful dragon in all of Sosaria. I have seen many other magnificent dragons, but Tiamat is something special. But I will explain that more a little later...

    We arrived at the Fortress of Fear. This time, the guard tower was not empty, and the gates were not barred...


    ...but a legion of the undead awaited us.

    This was going to be fun.
     
  32. Arrows began to rain down on us from the large guard tower and skeletal mages began casting on us.

    Quickly, I cast invisibility on myself, and then teleported to the base of the guard tower. I had 2 arrows in me...one in the shoulder, and the other in one of my ... well, slightly enhanced breasts.

    How do women with breasts this big survive? I thought. I quickly pulled the arrows out and cast heal on my self. The next thing I did was get rid of the incognito spell!

    "Tiamat!!" I yelled out, but she was already cutting a swath through the liches and skeletal knights. She could not hear me.

    Okay...let's kick some ass! I thought, as I drew my swords and slung my shield over my shoulder.

    There was a skeleton archer in one of the windows of the guard tower...and stepped back and shouted "Kal Vas Flam!" and he was engulfed in magical fire.

    With the archer down, I move around the side of it toward the main gate. I got another arrow to the back of my leg...that one hurt. I took that archer out with an energy bolt. The arrow was pulled out, and I healed again.

    I moved up to the gate, energy bolting another archer. From here I could see that Tia had more or less taken out the liches...but was now having some trouble with a dozen or so skeletal knights.

    "Tia!! Come!" I yelled to her and she teleported back to me.

    "Vas Ort Grav!" I yelled, as the fury of the heavens opened upon them. With a breath attack from Tia, they were done for.

    "Great job girl!!" I said to her, casting heal upon her. She was barely hurt, but I decided to take a moment and bandage her wounds as well.

    With the undead army out of the way, we proceeded through the gates.
     
  33. The doors to the main building of the Fortress were locked, of course. I opened them using magic, but they were barred from the inside. It didn't take much for Tia to bash them in. I entered the Fortress, it was pitch black.

    "In Lor" I said, quietly...and things became clear. Around the entry hall, there was very little furniture, and what was there looked very dusty, and old. I instructed Tia to guard the entrance. It is a little hard to sneak around with a huge fire breathing dragon following you around.

    I made my way down a narrow hallway...and here I found a set of stairs going up. I ascended them slowly. As I reached the top of the stares, I heard a voice mutter something I could not make out. Suddenly, I was gasping of air!

    "Call to your dragon now girl!" Alhalzred said, as he approached me with a drawn sword.

    He was right, I was pretty much screwed as far as getting Tia to help me...but he underestimated me. His strangle spell wore off just as he took his swing at me, but I parried his blow with my long sword, and stabbed him the belly with my short sword.

    "Arrhhhg" he grunted, as blood sprayed from his mouth. He gargled something, and suddenly, he was gone.

    I healed myself, and took stock of my surroundings. The room was more or less empty. A couple of broken, old, dusty pieces of furniture were all that was there. This entire place looked pretty abandoned.

    Strange I thought to myself If this is his fortress, where does he live?

    I continued to explore. The main building was basically empty. Much like the first few rooms, there were random pieces of broken furniture, and a think layer of dust on everything. There was nothing there.

    I made my way back to the front entrance. Tia was still there standing watch.

    "Well Tia, it looks like there is nothing else here" I said, as I pulled out my runebook. I took a last look around. The architecture was impressive...like something from another age. The spires, the stone stairway, the guard tower.

    The guard tower!! I didn't check the guard tower! I thought to myself.

    "Tia, wait here" I said as I made my way back inside. The entrance to the guard tower was via a drawbridge on the second floor. I made my way to the doors, and drew my swords. They were locked, of course...so I opened them with magic.

    The drawbridge was down, and I made my way to the doors of the guard tower. The doors were kind of a grate, so I could see into the room. There was nothing in there but skeletons...inanimate skeletons. I was turning to leave, when I heard a slight banging from the floor.
     
  34. It took some time before I located the teleporter that led to the bottom floor of the guard tower. Before finding it, I did also find one that led to the very top of the guard tower...and of course, it didn't lead back! So I was lucky that I had a rune marked for just outside.

    As I approached the teleporter, a thought occurred to me, What if this one goes in, doesn't come out, and there is something really dangerous down there? I decided I had to risk it...so I stepped into the teleporter.

    I found myself in a small room, with no windows and no doors, and all along its perimeter, were chained the various members of my guild: Jade, Sheol, Anasazi, Sir Robin, Angel, Erika, Bill Blas, Sindee, Abigail, and John Henry. They were all bound and gagged...but seemed to be in otherwise good condition.

    I set about freeing them.

    "Morgana, thank the gods you are alright!!" Abigail said as I released her.

    "Abi, help me get the others freed, we are not safe here, Alhalzred still lives!" I said.

    We quickly freed the other Protectors, and then we collected Tia and gated back to Sheol's tower.
     
  35. When we arrived at Sheol's, he asked me how I knew where they were.

    "I didn't. I went there to try and find help for Clean, and Alhalzred tried to capture me too" I said.

    "This makes no sense!" Sheol said. "Why was he trying to capture the PoV? What do the Shadow Lords need with us?"

    "I don't know, but it is obvious that he was behind the attacks from the beginning" I said.

    "Yes, it would seem so" Sheol said. "What about Clean? Is he any better? Where is he?"

    "I hid him some place that he would be safe" I said. "But the last time I saw him, he looked as though he was only a few steps from death."

    "We need to go and retrieve him" Jade said.

    "But Alhalzred is still alive, and we do not know where he is" I said. "We cannot risk having Clean here in case of another attack."

    "I think Morgana is right, but someone needs to go and check on him" Sheol said. "Where did you hide him?"

    "With Abigail's friend, Ashley" I responded.

    "Morgana!! How could you involve her in this? She is not a warrior, she cannot defend herself! We must go to them both!" Abigail said.

    "I think Erika should go" Jade said.

    I disagreed, but since I was no longer in command, I remained silent.

    Erika was sent to check on Clean and Ashley, and we were beginning to discuss what we would do to track down Alhalzred, when a knock came at the door.

    Anasazi went to answer...and then he called out to me "Morgana!! I think you need to come here!"

    I got up from the table, and went to the door...and I saw someone that I thought that I would never see again...
     
  36. "It can't be!" I said...as I stared into the face of a ghost.

    "Hello Morgana"

    MoonlightMyst. The one person in all of Sosaria that I thought I would never see again.

    "What the f*ck do you want!" I heard from over my shoulder. It was Jade, and she had her bow drawn.

    "Jade!! Hold!" I said...as I looked into those cold, deep, eyes.

    "Oh my gods...it can't be" I heard, this time it was Abigail. "Morgana...you have got to be kidding me!!"

    "Hey!! Quiet!" I shouted back, as Anasazi just rolled his eyes, sighed, and moved away from the door.

    "Morgana, I am sorry...b.." she never finished the next word.

    "Sorry?!" I said, pushing her outside, and slamming the door shut behind me.

    "Morgana...please, listen..." she said, as I shoved her down the stairs.

    "I guess I deserved that" she said as she got to her feet.

    "Oh, you think that is all you deserve? Corp..." is all I got out.

    "I know how to save Clean!!!" she shouted.

    This gave me pause. I stood there, in the fading light of the sun, gazing into those eyes, and gazing upon a face I had not seen, at least for me, in a thousand or more years. I wanted to break her head open on the steps of Sheol's tower...but something stirred inside of me, and it wasn't anger.

    I think it may have been curiosity...or even perhaps pity.

    "Moon, how can you come here? Where have you...what happened..." I managed before the tears came. A part of me was so glad to see her alive, that I could not hate her, as it dawned on me that she had not been damned to the Abyss.

    She slowly ascended the stairs...with a small cut above her left temple bleeding. She approached me and simply said "I still love you."

    I collected her in my arms and we both held each other there, tightly...both of us weeping. We pulled apart, and looked deeply into one another's eyes...and then, it happened...

    ...one of the most passionate kisses I have ever felt.

    Get a hold of yourself you crazy b!tch! I thought Don't you know where this is going?!

    My mind was reeling...and suddenly I pulled away from her.

    "I know what you are trying to do Moon" I said.

    "Morgana...I am not doing anything. I am only here to help you!" she said.

    I released her, and myself, from the embrace "Help me to what? Betray my friends? Kill myself? Burn for a thousand years??!!" I said with fury.

    She took a step to the side, away from the one story staircase and said "I never meant for any of that to happen. You have to believe me."

    "Believe you?!!" I laughed "I will never believe anything you say ever again!!! You blood-thirsty b!tch!"

    "Please...let me explain" she pleaded.

    But I was having none of it "Moon. I cannot do this. Please, I want you to leave!"

    "I will, but I need to explain about Clean" she said...and there was something genuine in her voice, or so I thought.
     
  37. "I am listening, but make this quick or so help me..." I said.

    "The Shadowlords are trying to kill the Lord of the Abyss. Clean is the key, because he is the Soulless one" she explained "and the Shadowlords need him. So they have been using that Necromancer to capture your friends, so that they could force Clean to attack the Lord of the Abyss."

    I listened, and it made some sense...but still, I was very skeptical..."How do you know all of this?"

    "Because...the Lord of the Abyss sent me here" she replied, and I noticed that look in her eye. "He sent me here for you Morgana. I hope you will understand, but I would do anything to escape the horrors of the abyss..."

    And with that, she uttered some words that I did not quite understand, and black gate opened behind her, and an army of the Abyss began to issue forth.

    "Save us the trouble Morg dear..." she said with a wicked smile " ...and just come along quietly."

    "You stupid b!tch! Capturing me is not going to help you! Clean is dead!" I said...but I could tell she wasn't buying it. I could not let her know that Clean was almost dead...because that would make the Lord of the Abyss's job that much easier.

    I reached for my summoning ball, but before I could, a multitude of demonic forces were upon me...

    ...but from behind me I heard the words..."Augus Luminos!!!"

    And with that, the horde was driven back, and I looked over my shoulder to see Abigail, standing high atop Sheol's tower, with her bow drawn...and Sir Robin...with his drawn as well.

    "It won't be so easy this time Moon!" I said, and I produced my summoning ball.

    The PoV rushed forth from the tower, and in a swirl of mist, Tiamat appeared.

    The battle raged, and eventually, all of the demonic forces were driven back...but Moon was nowhere to be found.
     
  38. "Great. Now we have her to deal with as well??" Jade said as we met in the hall in Sheol's tower.

    "It would seem so..." I said, still in utter disbelief.

    "Morgana, what did she say? How could she have come back from the dead?" Abigail asked.

    "Well...Abi, you are not going to like this...but she was sent here by the Lord of the Abyss" I said.

    I knew that Abigail was not going to take that news well...and she looked down and began to cry. I moved to her and put my arm around her and said "It's not your fault Abi" but we both knew that it was.

    "If I hadn't murdered her...she would not be...a..." and then she began to sob.

    "Morgana, what is going on?" Sheol asked bluntly.

    I explained to him what Moon had told me, that the Lord of the Abyss had dispatched her to capture me in order to lead Clean into a trap. The Lord of the Abyss wanted Clean dead, because the Shadowlords were trying to use him to kill the Lord of the Abyss.

    "But why would the Shadowlords care about the Lord of the Abyss...unless..." Sheol said "...OF COURSE! They have been sending their forces into our world, but they cannot enter it themselves, not unless the moons are aligned properly. But they can enter it through the underworld, or the Abyss!!"

    "Why don't they just slay the Lord of the Abyss themselves?" Jade asked.

    "They can't...at least, not in the Abyss they can't" Sheol answered. "As Morgana and Clean, and likely MoonlightMyst, can attest to...in the Abyss, he is nigh all powerful."

    "That is true" I said, fighting back the memories of my time spent there.

    "So, let me make sure I understand all of this" Anasazi said. "Both the Shadowlords, and the Lord of the Abyss, are trying to capture or kill Clean...right?"

    "That it is how it would appear" Sheol said.

    "And so, the first time they assaulted the Guild tower, that was the Lord of the Abyss?" Anasazi asked.

    "I am not certain, but I think so." Sheol said "But what I am certain of is this, we are dealing with forces that are beyond us. Eventually, one side or the other will get what they want. They have the power to do so."

    "Not as long as I draw breath they won't" I said.

    "What should we do about Clean?" Sir Robin asked "We cannot leave him defenseless."

    "No, we can't. Now that we know he is the target of all of this, it is extremely important that we place him under direct guard." Jade said.

    "Jade, what do you think about moving him into one of the cities, under the protection of the Royal Guards?" Sir Robin asked.

    "I don't know...that might not be a bad idea" she said, considering it.

    Robin was right, it would be rather difficult for Moon, or Alhalzred, or the Drow assassins to move against us with any degree of force right under the noses of the Royal Guards.

    Or so we thought.
     
  39. We arrived at Ashley's shop. Erika was standing outside.

    "Erika...how is Clean?" I asked as we approached.

    "No better I am afraid" she replied.

    "Abigail!!" I heard from inside the shop, as Ashley came hurrying out to meet her old friend. "How are you?"

    The two hugged for a moment, and Abigail answered "Not so well Ashley, we have to take Clean to someplace safe...and you should come too."

    "What? Why? I can't just leave my shop, I have to..." she said, visibly frightenened.

    "Ashley, I am so sorry...but it seems that I have involved you in something more dangerous than I knew" I said to her.

    Ashley said "Where will we go? Can I at least gather some things?"

    "Of course you can" Abigail said...and Ashley went back inside.

    "Wait a second. Aren't we under the jurisdiction of the guards here?" Jade asked.

    "No Jade. We cannot risk Ashley's shop." I said.

    "Morgana, I disagree. They didn't find him here yet, what makes you think they will now? And if they do..." she said, surveying the area "...this looks pretty defensible."

    Abigail stepped in "I agree with Morgana. We cannot ask Ashley to risk her shop. Besides, if we move him, it will keep them all guessing as to his whereabouts."

    Sir Robin interjected "We do not know the extent of the reach of these forces that move against us. And the guards in most of the major cities are occupied fighting the Shadowlords armies. This seems as good a place as any...and Lady Jade is correct, this position is very defensible."

    Ashley returned, and said "Okay, I guess I am ready."

    "We have changed our minds. We think we should all stay here" Jade said.

    "What?" Ashley asked "You can't be serious. I don't have room for all of you here. This is not an inn."

    "It would only be for a short time. And it would be for your protection as well as ours" Jade said back.

    "Jade, can we talk about this, please?" I said to her.

    "As the Guildmistress, I have made my decision" she said to me flatly.

    So there it was. Jade had made up her mind, and what could I say? I had been demoted...and she was the head of the guild.

    "I do wish you would reconsider," I said "but if this is your decision, I will stand by it."

    "It is. Sir Robin, Abigail, and myself will set up archery posts here, here, and here. Erika, we will need explosion potions, heals, and cures. Anasazi and Sheol, if you will position yourself there, and there..." she continued, making tactical plans.

    As I looked around, I thought to myself We are so screwed here.
     
  40. Night was falling, and many of us had gotten very little sleep, so Jade ordered us to sleep in shifts. I slept on the first shift, and I was glad to do it. I was exhausted.

    One thing, many people in Sosaria that never enter combat believe that being healed by magic makes everything all better. Not really. There is still a great deal of pain. I am not a medicinal expert, I never have been. Abigail could probably explain it much better than I can, but I can tell you this...when you take an arrow to the back of the leg, or the breast, or the shoulder...even after they are out, and you are healed, the spots and limbs still ache for a couple of days.

    I had drifted off into a deep sleep when I heard noise in the room. This woke me with a start, but it was too late. There was someone in the room, and he (or she) had placed something over my head, and was chocking me to death with a rope around my neck. I couldn't do much...but kick and flail...but that didn't last long. And I drifted off into blackness.


    I awoke to find myself locked in cell...it was dark, and could hear water dripping. By instinct I said "In Lor!" but nothing happened. I looked down, and I was naked.

    Oh, great. I thought.

    "Hey!! Who is out there!" I yelled out through the bars at the top of the door to my cell. I could hear it echo, so I knew that I was in a large room. No answer came.

    I started feeling around the cell...but there was nothing there. Just a bucket with some water that didn't smell very fresh.

    Gods damnit! What happened to our watch? I thought, as I flopped down on the cold, dirty, stone floor. And where am I??
     
  41. Some time passed, and I had actually drifted off to sleep, but I woke quickly when I heard the sound of a large door being opened in the distance.

    "Who is there?!" I shouted...but no one answered. I heard footsteps approaching. I did the only thing I could do...I grabbed the bucket and readied myself.

    What are you going to do Morg, bathe them to death? I thought.


    The footsteps reached the door to my cell, and I heard a key inserted into a lock. The door opened, and I threw the bucket as hard as I could at who or whatever was there. Of course, this did nothing but spill water everywhere.

    Before me stood a large, and rather handsome elf. His white hair stood in sharp contrast to his dark skin. I knew immediately, this had to be one of the Drow that Sheol had mentioned.

    "What do you want with me?" I said, as I tried to cover my self with my arms.

    "Me? Nothing. It is not what I want...but what he wants" the dark elf said. "I was instructed to give this to you". He handed me something made of cloth. I snatched it, and used it to cover myself.

    "Do you mind?!" I said.

    The elf grunted and turned his back.

    I unfolded the item, it was a robe. But I didn't put it on.

    "Are you finished ye..." was all he got out before the robe was tight around his neck.

    He struggled...but I held tightly...and soon, he was on the floor, I climbed on top of him, and pulled even tighter on the robe-turned-noose.

    "Die you elven *******!" I screamed. He grunted, kicking and flailing. I reached down, and grabbed him where male elves are generally the most vulnerable, this sent a wave of pain through him, and he was able to throw me off.

    He rolled over, and was struggling to get the free of the robe, and moaning in pain, so he never saw me coming with the dagger that I had pulled off of him during the tussle.

    And like that, his blood was spilled...and he past into the land of the dead. I knew that it would not be long before he was resurrected, and would return to alert someone to my escape. I had to act fast.
     
  42. I quickly took anything off the body that I could use. He was wearing a studded leather tunic, which I took, but it fit me like a dress. I grabbed all of the keys he had, and small pouch he was carrying.

    Gods I hope there are regs in here I thought, as I looked in the pouch.

    "My underwear??" I said out loud...giving the fallen elf a disgusted look. "You sick little..." then I realized that I needed to move! I quickly slid my panties on, while trying not to slip on the water and blood on the floor, and started to run toward the door at the end of the hallway.

    I heard someone coming, so I ducked in beside the door, on the side that it would open. It opened, and another elf stepped through. Once he was passed me, I put the dagger in the base of his skull. He went down fast and hard. I quickly searched the body.

    Jackpot! I thought as I opened that one's pouch. Reagents, and lots of them. That should even the playing field a little.

    I made my way through the door way, and found my self at the base of a set of stairs. I was tempted to summon a demon to assist me, but I had a better idea.

    "Vas Ylem Rel" I said...and transformed myself into a small black cat.

    This should make it a little easier to get around unseen I thought.

    I made my way up the stairs, and at the top, I reached a locked door. That was a bit of a problem. I was about to polymorph back, but I heard footsteps coming, so hid on the first stair, just out of sight. As the elf came through, I slip past him, and through the door.

    As the door was closing, I heard him say something in elvish...the only word I made out was "Casca".

    I took stock of my surroundings. I knew where I was...it was Castle Blackthorn!!

    What in the name of the gods is going on? I thought, as I heard someone else approaching. I knew that I needed to get outside, and quickly! I followed my way around the perimeter of the room, staying in the shadows, and avoiding being seen.

    The last elf to go down the stairs came back up, shouting something in elvish that I didn't understand. He ran out of the room quickly...and I followed him, ducking under furniture. Before long, I reached a side entrance. There were elves and Royal Guards everywhere. And I overheard one of the elves say to a guard ...

    "She could not have gotten far! She killed two already...using a Enl'nishar(?)"

    A what? I thought as I moved behind a bookcase.

    "Lord Casca is going to be most displeased if she escapes! Get out there and find her!!" the elf said. And with that, the guard, and the other guards there snapped to, and headed out the side entrance. As the last of them made his way outside, I just slipped out.

    Once I was outside, they would have no reason to suspect me as anything other than a stray cat. So I just calmly made my way to the main gate, and crawled through the bars. I had to get to the bank.

    I ducked inside the tanners shop, and was preparing to polymorph back, when I heard "Hey!! You git outta here!!" and a large slab of fat was thrown at me.

    When I am no longer a cat, I am coming back and kicking that guy's ass I thought, and I ran over to the Wayfarer's Inn, and ducked into hallway.

    "Vas Ylem Rel" I said...and changed back into Morgana LeFay. Then, I threw off the elf's tunic and high tailed it to the bank.

    Now, I am normally not happy about parading around in public in my underwear, but anyone that has done combat in Sosaria has had to do it numerous times.

    I came running up the bank, there were several people milling around...I didn't see anyone that I knew, so I ran inside and asked to see my bank box.

    Empty.

    "Casca!!" I said out loud. Then I ran back outside to see if anyone had a rune to another town.
     
  43. I ran back outside, and no one seemed to be paying me any mind. I started asking everyone if anyone had a rune...no one seemed to care. I was starting to get frustrated, when I noticed a couple of Drow moving in on me through the crowd. I turned to run the other direction, but there were three Royal Guards that had noticed me. I was stuck...

    Great. Now what? I thought.

    Then it hit me!

    There was a man riding by on a horse and shouted "An Ex Por", and he was paralyzed...and just like at Ashley's shop, a Royal Guard teleported to me, and WHAM! I was a ghost.

    It really hurt, but I was free to move about unseen, and there wasn't anything they could do to stop me. I saw the Drow stop in their tracks. They knew I was gone.

    Later fellas! I said to myself, and waved to them from the ethers.

    I started off toward Trinsic.
     
  44. I arrived in Trinsic after an uneventful walk. As I walked toward the healer, my mind started to remember doing this so many times back before the world was split. I remembered watching the grizzly scenes in front of Trinsic bank, where thieves would meet the same fate I had just brought upon myself, and I remembered fighting the Trinsic Borrowers and making this same walk many times.

    I almost missed those times.

    With some magic words, and surge of energy, I was back amongst the living...and in my underwear again.

    I need to get some new underwear if I am going to be running around all over the towns in them I thought, and I made my way to the bank. Surely Casca had not seized all of my assets.

    Empty.

    Nice...very nice. I thought. Okay...but does he know about my stash?

    Luckily, he didn't. I made my way past the Training Hall, and down the street, between the bush and the barracks...my little hiding spot. I moved the loose brick in the wall, and there it was. A small pouch containing some reagents, and a rune to the Guild Tower.

    "Kal Ort Por" I said, and I was off.

    I arrived behind a tree outside the tower. No one was there...so I proceeded inside. It was just as it had been the last time I was here. I ran up stairs to my bedroom, and quickly gathered some things.

    Freshly outfitted, I recalled into Delucia...I went to the stablemaster.

    "Hello sir, I need to claim my horse" I said.

    "Name?" he said gruffly.

    "LeFay, Morgana LeFay. His name is Rayder" I said.

    I waited a while, and he came back and said "Nope. We don't have 'im."

    Casca! I thought.

    "Thank you!" I said, as I made my way toward the bank.

    Let me guess...empty I thought.

    Sure enough.

    I pulled out my summoning ball that I had picked up from the tower...

    I hope this works I thought. And with a swirl of mist, Rayder appeared before me...as a ghost.

    "What did they do to you Rayder?" I said as I resurrected him.

    I laughed to myself and thought I wonder if he had as much luck with Tia?
     
  45. I recalled into Umbra, and made my way to Ashley's shop. The only thing that remained was smoldering wreckage. Suddenly, I heard the sound of someone recalling in behind me. I turned and drew my sword...

    ...it was Anasazi!

    "There you are!" he said "We have been searching all over for you!"

    "What happened here?" I said.

    "We were attacked by MoonlightMyst and her army of the Abyss. They destroyed the shop, and killed many of us. But some help you were, where did you go?"

    I told Anasazi what had happened...how I was abducted.

    "What? How did they get in right under our noses like that?" he said. "I came to get you to relieve me on my watch, and you were just gone. Jade figured you had flaked out and went off by yourself or something."

    "Come on, I would never do that! Where are Clean and the others" I asked.

    "Sheol managed to get Clean out right after they attacked. But..." he said.

    "But what?" I asked.

    "They got Abigail" he said.

    "Casca!!" I said out loud.

    "Casca? What does he have to do with this?" he asked.

    "He is the one that kidnapped me. It was his Drow assassins. The only thing I can figure is that he wants to silence me" I told Anasazi.

    "Or...he wanted to use you as bait for Abigail" he said.

    "Great! So who has Abigail, Casca, Moon, or Alhalzred?" I said frustrated.

    "That's what we need to find out" he said.

    "Anasazi...why does everybody hate us?" I asked.
     
  46. We recalled into a swamp near Trinsic, where the guild had set up a temporary camp.

    "Oh, I see you found her" Jade said as Anasazi and I approached. "Where was she, moping around the ruins of the old guild tower in Fel or something?" she added sarcastically.

    I really didn't care for her tone "I see you managed to get Ashley's shop destroyed...and great job on your so-called defensible position, they slipped in under your nose and kidnapped me!"

    "What? Bullsh!t, you ran off" she said.

    "Really Jade? That's really what you think?" I said, stepping up to her.

    "Okay...okay...that's enough!" Sheol said. "We cannot afford to act like children here!"

    "No, I want her to tell us where she was while we were trying to protect her undead boyfried!!" Jade spat.

    That was it. I punched her in the face as hard as I could. She staggered back a bit...but I quickly learned I had made a mistake! Before I could even react, she had pounced on me, and had me in a submission hold...

    "You think you are so tough Morgana? I could break your neck, right here, right now!" she said.

    "Do it!" I managed through the spit coming out of my mouth.

    Holy double whopper with cheese! I thought. She was really going to do it!!

    Suddenly she was pulled off of me. It took Sir Robin and Anasazi to pull her off!! Erika stepped between Jade and I just said "That is enough!!!"

    Things calmed down, and everyone collected themselves.

    Then I explained to the guild what had happened.

    Sheol was shocked "I cannot believe it! Those Drow just slipped right in and took you, and we never even noticed?"

    "So it would seem" I said, glaring at Jade.

    "Where did they take you?" Sheol asked.

    "Castle Blackthorn" I replied, rubbing a very sore spot on my neck. It suddenly occurred to me, there were only two spots on my body that didn't hurt...my left butt cheek, and the top of my head. Everywhere else was in some sort of pain.

    "So, Casca is involved!" Sheol said.

    "I think Casca has a different agenda" Anasazi said.

    "What?" Sheol asked "Why?"

    "Think about it..." Anasazi explained. "Sir Robin was captured by Alhalzred. So was I, and Angel...so were all of us eventually besides Morgana and Clean. We were locked in the guard tower at his Fortress. We know that he was working for the Shadowlords...and we know why. We also know that MoonlightMyst is working for the Lord the Abyss, and we know why. The two relate...they are after the same thing, Clean. What would Casca stand to gain from being a part of any of that?"

    "It is possible that he is in league with the Shadowlords" Sheol said.

    "I don't think so" Anasazi said. "I think he is trying to kill Abigail, because he knows that she is a threat to his throne."

    "But he has never taken that claim seriously before" Sheol said "Why should he suddenly start now?"

    "Perhaps he knows something we don't?" Anasazi said.
     
  47. "We will figure all of this out in time" I said "but right now, we have to find Abigail!"

    "Agreed" Jade said, spitting a little blood from her mouth.

    "What happened when they took her?" I asked.

    Sheol explained that just before dawn, an army of the Abyss attacked, the same way they had at the Guild Tower...only this time, they were led by MoonlightMyst. The battle was over very quickly, as they discovered that the position they were in could not withstand that kind of assault.

    "Let me guess, the guards did not assist you at all, right?" I asked, knowing the answer.

    "That's right...how did you know?" Sheol asked me.

    "Because the Royal Guards are under Casca's command" I said.

    As soon as the attack had started, Sheol realized that they were hopelessly outnumbered, so he ordered a retreat. He grabbed Clean, and opened a gate to the swamp. The others followed, but Abigail remained behind to keep them from following through the gate. When Sheol returned for Abigail, she was gone, and Ashley's shop had been destroyed.

    "So she could be anywhere" Sheol said.

    "No. I have a pretty good idea of where she went. And it is not going to be easy to get there" I said.
     
  48. But before we could go after Moon, and Abigail, we needed to take care of some things.

    "For what I have in mind, we are going to need to find Tiamat" I told the others.

    "So go to the stable and retrieve her" Erika said.

    "Oh...you guys have not been in town in recently, have you?" I asked with a laugh.

    "No, why?" Anasazi asked.

    "When you go, expect your bank boxes to be empty, and your stables the same" I said.

    "What??!" Jade said.

    "Yep. We have our new 'king' to thank for that. He has seized our assets. I would be surprised if any of our houses are left standing as well" I said.

    In a panic, the various guild members began to recall to their homes...and one by one, they returned...all with the same report. Destroyed.

    "What are we going to do now? We have nothing..." Jade said. A few of the guild echoed her sentiment.

    I climbed up on an old stump...and gave them a pep talk...they needed it.

    "Protectors of Virture! Hear me!" I said, as they all turned to look at me "We have suffered a great loss here today...but we have suffered losses in the past, and we have always been victorious! When the gods ripped our world apart, we survived! When the Army of Darkness destroyed our tower...we survived! When we lost many of our ranks...we survived!"

    "And this, perhaps our greatest challenge, shall be no different! I hear some of you saying that we have nothing, but in truth, we have everything! Look around you...these are the same people that have fought, bled, and died with you! And we are still together! This is more than just a guild...guilds come and go...this is a family!" I said.

    "Now, I hear some of you asking what we are going to do...I can tell you exactly what we are not going to do! We are not going to give up. We are not going to abandon Abigail, or Clean...or one another!!" I added.

    "Even though you have seen fit to choose someone else to lead you, I am still a member of this family, and as such I will not stand by and watch it be torn apart!!" I said.

    This seemed to rally them together, and they began hugging one another, and then Jade came up to me and said...

    "Okay...you are ready...Guildmistress" and hugged me.
     
  49. As she said that, they all dropped to one knee before me. I know that my lack of control over my emotions is what led me to that dark place, but there, in the face of this act, I could not help by cry, even though I fought it back.

    "What are your orders Mi'Lady?" I heard...it was John Henry.

    "Rise my friends!" I said...and the Protectors rose to their feet.

    "Abigail has most likely been taken to the Abyss" I said. "This is a trap, set for me. The Lord of Abyss is using MoonlightMyst to get to me. He wants me as a prisoner, so as to lure Clean to him...so that he may kill him...permanently. He does not know of Clean's condition."

    "And what of the Shadowlords?" Erika asked.

    "They seek to capture us all, in order to force Clean to kill the Lord of the Abyss" I told her. "But there is one thing that they did not count on."

    "What is that?" Sheol asked.

    "Clean is not going to kill the Lord of the Abyss" I answered. "I am."
     
  50. "How do you intent to do that?" Sheol asked.

    "I am going to have to become Soulless, like Clean did. He once gave his soul to rescue me from the Abyss, and I will do the same for my sister!" I replied.

    "I cannot let you do that." Sheol said "Besides, we do not even have the spell anymore! No, it can't be done!"

    "Where did Clean get the scroll? Doom right?" I asked.

    "Yes, he did. But we have no way to know if we could retrieve another. And, from what Clean told me, the Lord of the Abyss still has power over the soulless. It is very doubtful that you could defeat him!" Sheol said.

    "Sheol is right. This is not a good idea Morgana" Anasazi said "but if you are intent on doing this, you will not do it alone. I will go with you."

    "As will I" said Jade.

    "No. Absolutely not! This is something that I must do alone!" I told them "I cannot allow you to give up your souls."

    "What about everything you told us about being a family?" Sir Robin said. "She is our sister too."

    I could not let them do it...but it was obvious that they would not back down.

    "What if we could find another way into the Abyss?" I asked them.

    "There are only two ways into the Abyss. Dead, as a prisoner. Or as a soulless invader" Sheol said "this is folly!"

    "Not necessarily. There may be someone that can help us" I told them.