Continuing the story of the mysterious Kale'Joka.... There are going to be some gaps this time, I'm afraid. My memory isn't what it used to be, and I recently found out to my disgust that I no longer seem to have my library of old unique and rare books. There were two volumes among the collection that would help to tell this story. If anyone has "Knowledge Words" by Parnell and/or "Calith Umbra", please post thier contents in this thread. _______________________ For a few weeks following the destruction of the Mage Tower, no sign was seen of the mysterious pasty green fellow we believed responsible, nor of any other like him. When one did show up, he was not the same shade of green, and he was not well received. Parnell, he named himself, and he didn't speak the common tongue very well. His halting and broken use of the language lent him an air of simplicity, but many suspected there was more to him than met the eye. At that point, we didn't know the half of it. I'm not sure where he first appeared, but I remember him being at some event and some of my friends encouraging me to come and have a look. Parnell spoke as a child, but we could tell he was struggling with the language. His words were simple and basic, but they conveyed a message of friendship. Parnell explained that he was a member of a race called the Kale'Joka, and he was from somewhere else entirely (that is to say, not from our world). He told us that the Kale'Joka once lived in our world, long before any humans populated Britannia, but they had eventually been all but driven out by us humans, who feared the Kale'Joka and hated what we feared. The first couple of contacts with Parnell, who would show up at about just any event that drew a handful of people or more, left a lot of people with a lot of questions. Some folks believed everything he said, for his air of simplicity was disarming in a way that only such direct, unfiltered communication can be. Others believed his friendly demeanor and basic language skills might be an act. There was great deal of discussion held in forums just like this one (and in this forum too, I imagine, though I was not here at that time), and the community was well and truly engaged in the issue of whether or not to trust Parnell the pale-faced Kale'Joka. Meanwhile, more of his story came out. He told us that he had been afraid to tell us everything we needed to know at first, for we might fear him if we knew the truth. He didn't know how we would take it. Parnell explained that among his race there were two main factions. I don't know if he ever gave a name to the faction he was representing, but the *other* faction was known as the Umbra. Parnell was visibly shaken by discussion of the Umbra, and didn't like to talk about them very much. At some point he likened them to what we would call lords among us, but that didn't explain why he was so afraid of them. As his mastery of our language improved, we gleaned still more information from tales he volunteered and questions he answered. The Umbra, he told us, were not a friendly group of beings. The Umbra hated humanity for the cruelty with which we had displaced all Kale'Joka those eons ago, and they wanted to make their return to their old homes by first eradicating every last human being in Britannia. Parnell's faction, on the other hand, favored a more friendly approach to dealing with humans. They believed humanity had advanced to the point that a peaceful co-existence could be achieved, and there was no need for enmity between our peoples. Now whenever Parnell would get to talking about his people in general, or about the Umbra specifically, he would get extremely nervous. As I mentioned before, his furtive glances in all directions and hesitance to speak of the Umbra made it plain to everyone that he was afraid of them. Although I am sure that the subject of the Mage Tower's destruction was put to him repeatedly, I cannot say I remember him ever attributing that to the work of the Umbra. Perhaps he did, and I just don't recall it. Many of the citizens of the land still had memories of that disaster and our lost loved ones fresh in our minds, and it was hard for us to hear Parnell's words with warmth or understanding. We felt that something was wrong with his tales, and we couldn't take him at his word. We felt we didn't have all the information. Just as Parnell had said our ancestors before us had done, we feared what we could not understand. Some folks started talking about wanting to meet the Umbra and decide for themselves the truth of the matter. Others, like myself, favored a more... direct approach. It is, I am sure, a little-known or perhaps unknown fact that a secret society was formed in reaction to Parnell's arrival and his friendly overtures. The Britannian Security Initiative, or BSI, was a small cell of individuals who felt strongly about Parnell and his mission--specifically that he was not to be trusted. I have to believe there were probably other such pacts and groups lurking in the shadows, for the popular attitude was one of acceptance and friendship towards Parnell and his message. Several weeks after Parnell had introduced himself, he began to clam up whenever he saw a raven. This was a mystery to us, for even the most simple neophyte warrior knows that ravens are neither dangerous nor intelligent. Parnell, however, thought otherwise. If ravens appeared, he would sometimes refuse to say any more, often interrupting a conversation in midstream. He usually beat a hasty retreat at this point. Eventually, he explained that he couldn't be sure that the ravens were really only birds. He seemed to believe the Umbra were spying on him... a belief that clearly made him panic and disquieted those who had come to trust Parnell. After we in BSI (not a guild--it was all very hush-hush and cloak and dagger) had been shadowing Parnell's movements and actions for some time, Parnell announced something to the effect that he was ready to return to his people and tell them of his successful first contact with humanity. He would then return, he said, with a larger delegation of his cohorts to talk about making arrangements with us for a peaceful Kale'Jokan re-integration into our society. And we in BSI had heard enough. In the dark of night and the mire of shadows, we conceived a plot to assasinate Parnell. We hated to do it without having more information, but we felt we could not believe him or trust his words, and we certainly couldn't let him go back to his people with whatever intelligence he may have gained on us, if he were acting as a spy. There were too many questions he refused to answer, or was unable to answer to our satisfaction. A public meeting was scheduled to occur at the Race Track that evening, and we planned in advance how at the appointed time we would launch our assault. We did not know what might come of it--if there was more to Parnell than met the eye, we might be unable to harm him. And if we were successful in destroying him, what would the consequences be? What of our peers, so many of them we believed had been deceived by him? With memories of the Mage Tower fresh in our minds, we felt we had no choice but to suffer the slings and arrows of our comrades, in order to protect them from the potential threat posed by the Kale'Joka. I remember how, at the appointed time, many people came together as was becoming common whenever it was believed that Parnell would make an appearance. My associates in BSI and I stood off to one side as the proceedings went forward, and whispered our final preparations to kill Parnell. How little did we know, that objective was to be accomplished for us before we could lift a blade in defense of our homeland. I don't remember what the discussion was about, for as I said I was out of the main thrust of it for part of the time, plotting with my cohorts. At some point, however, Parnell again became highly agitated, and this time worse than we had ever seen before. He said he felt sure that he had told us too much, and that the Umbra were going to "punish" him for this. We had no idea what he was talking about, nor even any idea what an "Umbra" actually looked like. Suddenly, two or three ravens moving at an incredible speed converged on the crowd, and specifically on the place where Parnell was standing. He gave a cry of fright, and there was a brief struggle. Confusion and chaos reigned for a moment, for someone was attacking Parnell! And then, he was dead. The ravens who had appeared flew off at an alarming speed--much faster than any bird on the face of Sosaria had ever flown before--but did not leave the scene entirely. My BSI bretheren and I were in shock, as were many others in the crowd. This effect was temporary, however, and moments later cries of "Get them!" and "Don't let the ravens escape!" were ringing across the farmlands west of Britannia, where the race track and the meeting were located. And the battle was joined. But "battle" isn't quite the right word, for humans versus those tiny ravens hardly seems a fair matching. The humans died by the dozen. The ravens moved at speeds previously unimaginable for a bird, and absorbed all blades and arrows--and even spells--directed at them. Their counter attacks were absolutley stunning in their ferocity. People couldn't believe they were being ripped to shreds by a couple of small birds. Minutes later, when the ground was already soaking in human blood and littered with human bodies, the ravens were clearly starting to show signs of damage from the fight. But it is HARD to track a raven in a crowd of men and women! And the confusion and the bloodshed made it harder still. Now imagine how much harder YET it was because of the incredible speed of the "ravens". As I recall, not one raven fell that night. When they eventually had sated their thirst for human blood, they departed at a heretofore unseen speed. Mounted humans could not even give chase, much less keep up. Just like that, the Umbra were gone. ____________________ Epilogue On Parnell's body were found a few items of interest. He did not appear for ressurrection and we postulated that it may not be possible for his race, as it is for humans, to be brought back from beyond the grave. Most notable of his possesions was his journal, titled Knowledge Words. In it, he had recorded in his broken Common, and also to some extent in what could only be his native tongue, the tales of his journeys among the humans. He told how he had met us and found us to be friendly as his people had hoped, and how we was happy that there was no need for bloodshed between us. He described in excited terms how he planned to finally tell us everything we needed to know about the Kale'Joka, and finally answer our more probing questions, that very night--he had come to trust us and believe we would take his news in good faith. I really wish I could post a transcript of the book here, for to see his simple, childlike trust and innocence in his own simple terms was enough to break the hearts of those of us who had plotted against him. ... For weeks after that, whenever any raven would appear anywhere within six screens of any gathering or event, the ravens were slaughtered wholesale. To this day, I still notice them if I see them at an event. They're natural ravens, of course, but how would anyone who experienced the attack ever be able to know for sure?