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Journey to the Land of the Horselord

Discussion in 'UO White Stag Inn' started by EowynaRohanna, May 18, 2006.

  1. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 1

    Rochiriel angrily tossed her riding gloves on the table as she entered her home. She couldn't imagine how she had been so unlucky as to be selected for this particular assignment. Her father was the Horselord--didn't that count for anything? And she herself had been a member of the Elven Horse Guard for the city ever since she had reached the age of 200. Her record of service was good, she was certainly in good standing.....so why was she being sent away?

    And not just away, but south to some undistinguished hovel outside Skara Brae that supposedly housed an Embassy of the Exiles of Gondolin. Well, it had to be a pretty poor embassy, she thought, to be housed in a hut on the outskirts of civilization! So they needed a liason with this pitiful embassy, why did it have to be her? Exiles of Gondolin indeed--she felt as though she herself were being exiled.

    And the ambassador, himself? All she knew was his name--Santee. Probably some over-weight, effete, bookish diplomat, deluded as to his own importance and exceedingly dull. She was prepared to dislike him thoroughly. And he appeared not even to have much of a retinue--not important enough in his own world to be properly outfitted and escourted to a foreign realm.

    Rochiriel fumed. How could her father have allowed them to send her away?...away from her family, her friends, the great Elven city, with its elegant buildings, exquisite craftsmanship, well-stocked shops, cultural centers and......and entertainment! Such a humiliatingly unimportant assignment--liason to an embassy from nowhere!

    She packed her saddebags with practical items for the trip, armor, weapons, a few supplies for the road. She opened the carved chest and eyed the lovely gowns and jewels stored within, and promptly slammed the lid shut--she wouldn't be needing those where she was going! Well, they would all be sorry when she was gone. And this ambassador?--Well, he'd be sorry when she arrived!

    Rochiriel threw the saddlebags across the back of the horse, mounted, and rode toward the bank in the center of town. She dismouned, and strode toward the building lost in a black fume of anger. On her way inside the door, she rudely brushed past a young man dressed totally in glaring blaze cloth by the name of JimTheBrave. He stared after her. Turning, she glared back and said, "What are you looking at? Is my hair feather crooked or something??!!?" She stormed into the bank, withdrew enough gold to fund her trip, and rode toward the royal stables to confront the Horselord himself.

    Her father was consulting someone on the purchase of new horses for the Guard, but he looked up and smiled when she banged the door of his office shut. "What do you MEAN....sending me off to....to.....!"

    But he held up his hand, forstalling her tirade. "Rochiriel, my dear, I specifically asked that you be given this assignment."

    "You... you, WHAT......???"

    The Horselord smiled indulgently at his daughter, "My dear one, it will do you a world of good. And before you leave, you should adjust the feather in your hair....it's crooked."

    Rochiriel slammed the door again as she left, remounted her horse and rode south toward Skara Brae.
  2. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 2

    The heavy foot falls of the human guards in plate mail can be heard coming closer down the hall. Each step of the guards getting louder and louder with each passage of time, till they stopped in front of the stained and faded with time solid oak door. The Guards can be heard removing latches and locks. The lone occupant of the cell moved to corner and waited. Thoughts raced through his mind, and all centered on being beaten by the guards. What was their reasoning? The guards didn't need one, they are human or "Edan".

    Thoughts raced backed to when the Humans and Orcs laid siege to the Temple and the Orphanage. The retreat of the elves from The Temple Seldarine to find sanctuary in a hostile land, the valiant defense of the handful of Justicars and the victory at sea by "The Duchess." The Duchess's Pirate's flag flying, displaying its crossbones in the wind, gave me inspiration in its victory against the Orc naval fleet. It was that moment I took my name "CrossBones."

    The memory was shattered as the cell door opened and the guards stepped into the cell. A pent up rage and fury erupted inside CrossBones and he flung himself at the guards. Two of the guards who first entered the cell toppled over from the attack. The remainder of the guards quickly and savagely beat CrossBones with their clubs.

    CrossBones tried with all his might to continue the attack, but his body was no longer responding to his mind. Eventually CrossBones collapsed face forward into the stone floor, but the guards continued to beat on his motionless body. The Sergeant of Guard grumbled “Don’t kill, him. He is worthless dead. Pick the Elf Scum up and bring him to the warden” With that said, the Guards dragged CrossBones’s body through the jail towards the warden’s office.
  3. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 3

    The journey south to Skara Brae was several days ride. She'd found a nice little roadside inn the first day out, but tonight looked to be a night in the open. Nothing except dense forest on either side of the road for miles now. Rochiriel began to watch for good camp sites. She had killed a couple rabbits further back along the road. She would spit and roast them for the evening's meal. She found a small clearing along a stream bank, unloaded her saddlebags and staked out the horse to forage near the stream. A small efficient campfire was soon crackling and the rabbits sizzling away. She began to lay out her bedroll while there was still light to see by.

    A shout and loud laughter from the direction of the road broke the quiet of the forest. Suddenly alert, Rochiriel grabed her leafblade and moved silently through the forest toward the voices. As it happened, she wasn't the only one attracted by the stream as a possible spot for a night's camp. Concealing herself in the low branches of a tree, Rochiriel watched a small band of brigands approach. They were drunken and careless, or they would already have spotted smoke from her fire. But apparently they'd recently come into cause for celebration, for they were besotted to a man. A rough company of poorly dressed edan males...except for one smallish elf. The elf, dressed in hunters garb, was bound with ropes and being prodded along with a knife by one of the men, a dirty rag tied across the eyes. The elf blindly stumbling over an exposed tree root, sat down hard on the ground, and was left there by the man with the knife. He approached the other men and was handed another bottle of ale by one of the company.

    "What you gunna do with that captive, Scrim?" asked another of the men gesturing in the direction of the elf with the bottle in his hand. "Dun't look to be worth much to anyone, so won't get no ransom, probly."

    "Nah, worthless--a beggar elf, n'doubt. Just good for a little fun later, meybe" replied the knife-weilding ruffian.

    Rochiriel, from her perch in the tree, watched the scene unfold below her. She looked closely at the captive, and her eyes widened a little--a bit of play later? Not if she could help it! She dropped out of the tree, and with a quick roll as she hit the ground, confronted the drunken group with her leafblade held in readiness. "I think you should turn your captive over to me," she said calmly.

    Her statement was met with a few hoots of laughter. "Look, Bill, a' nuthern! Twice the fun!"
    Scrim died first, for Rochiriel was quick, his throat slit before he could turn to look at his companions. Then she whirled, and called Holy Light down from the skies. The other 3 men fell, two killed instantly, the third finished with her blade. She looked upon her handiwork with a light smile. Too bad for them--the daughter of the Horselord had been in a foul mood for two days. She knelt and wiped her blade clean upon the grass.

    Then Rochiriel turned toward the captive. "Don't be afraid. I am one of your kind." and she removed the blindfold from the elf. Rochiriel found herself looking into the violet eyes of a young elf female, barely out of girlhood, but the eyes seemed wise with experience. "What is your name?"
  4. Mandolin

    Mandolin Guest

    Keep em coming hon... these are getting better and better everytime you post a new one!
  5. Journey to the land of the Horselord, Part 4

    Santee stood before the prison warden and adjusted his grip on the Titan’s Hammer and casually leaned it against his shoulder with little effort. The Prison Warden noticed the crimson armor and tunic. On the tunic he paid particular attention to Valor Embroidery, and it was displayed more than once.

    Santee knew the warden and the guards were no threat, but it would not be proper for the newly appointed Ambassador to be waging war on this shard. In careful thought, Santee wondered why Maddux would choose him for Ambassador Duty. Honor Frost or Annwfn Gwydden would have been better candidates for this post. Was it a kind way of putting him out to pasture? I hope not, for I have many centuries left in me to chase and kill the Edan and Orcs. The mere thought of hunting Edan and Orcs brought an evil grin to Santee’s face. The Warden and Guards tensed as the grin appeared on Santee’s face and all eyes watched that Titan’s Hammer.

    The Sergeant of the Guard dragged and dropped CrossBones on the stone tile floor in front of the Warden’s desk. Santee could still see that life still held its grip on CrossBones. Santee stared at the Sergeant of Guard, causing the Sergeant to step back. Santee’s eye’s never left their sight on the Sergeant, and with his free hand dropped a pouch of gold on the Warden’s desk. The jingle of the coins caused the Warden and the Guards to stare at the bag of coins on the desk. The Warden jubilantly proclaimed “CrossBones, you are hear by free and released on good behavior. Court Dismissed!” Santee tossed CrossBones over his shoulder and left the jail.

    Santee weaved through the crowds over the bridge and finally reaching the Keg and Anchor. Entering the building, Santee cleared a table off and laid CrossBones upon it. Santee removed his Stormgrip gauntlets and placed his hands upon CrossBone’s chest and uttered “Obusi Vulni” over and over again. The Bruises and cuts on CrossBone’s battered body began to disappear. The Bar patrons watched in silence. CrossBones began to move and get up from the table and take a seat across from Santee.

    Santee looked at CrossBones “CrossBones, would your father and mother approve of such a name?” CrossBones defiantly reply “They are not around to disprove of it, but when the time is right. I will retake my Name and my birth rite.” Santee nods in approval. Santee removes a bedroll from his pack and places it before CrossBones. CrossBone’s open’s it and looks at the leather armor, war fork and assassin’s spike and smiles. Santee says “I see you recognize them, and your father would want you to have them.” Santee picks up the bluish bracelet and sadness comes to his face as he begins to remember.

    Santee looks across the bar, but seeing another time and another place. “I was there when that Shadow Wyrmm Blight and his band of dragons laid siege to Skara Brae and Trinsc. The cities lay burning as the Edan, fled. It was the Elves who stood and held the defenses.” CrossBones nods “I remember, and it was you and a few others who brought my father’s body back from Blight’s lair.” Santee “Your father lived and died honorably, and I would not let him be a trophy, nor allow Blight to reign fear upon the lands of the Elves.”

    Santee allows his words to sink into CrossBone’s mind and continues “Even as we speak, Gondolin is rocked by internal feuding and civil war. Our work here is even more important now than ever before.” CrossBones with sorrow in his faces looks at Santee “I did not know…” Santee continues “Travel to Skara Brae, outside the city near the farmlands you will find the Embassy. Go there and we will look for the rest of your party. Time is of the essence, travel fast and wait for me there.”
  6. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 5

    The younger woman lowered her eyes and murmured, "Essamin naa wanwa, gwaithamin naa wanwa, ent amen......naa wanwa."

    Rochiriel sat back on her heels and cut the heavy ropes which bound the girl, who flinched slightly as the knife approached her. "Yes," she said. "You do look lost. I suppose you'll tell me in your own time though. In the meantime I imagine you are hungry. Come, I have plenty." The girl didn't move, and Rochiriel could see the reluctance in her expression. Patience, never her strongest virtue anyway, abandoned Rochiriel completely. "In the name of the Seldarine, girl, do you want me to leave you here with these??!!" gesturing to the slain humans, "so that the next band of edan scum can take up where these left off?!?" The girl blinked and scrambled to her feet, rubbing her arms to restore circulation. Rochiriel stalked away toward her camp, with the younger elf stumbling after.

    The fire was dying and Rochiriel poked it up a bit, watching her guest – her gear was old and worn, barely serviceable, but her weapon—a bow—though old was of good quality and well-cared for. But the girl was so young, barely old enough to be on her own—no older than Rochiriel had been when she first left home to attend the University at Umbra for a time. The meal had been eaten in silence, but the girl had readily pitched in with camp chores. Rochiriel tossed her poking stick into the fire and leaned back on her elbows, watching the girl curiously. “Well, girl, if you aren’t going to tell me where you are headed, I guess you’ll have to journey along with me.” The violet eyes glanced quickly up to meet her own, but then down again quickly. No response.
    “So…,” Rochiriel continued, “I am traveling south to assume a diplomatic liason post. We should arrive at my destination tomorrow—some small embassy near Skara Brae—the Exiles of Gondolin, or some such.”

    The girl’s head jerked upward so quickly she might have been a puppet whose strings had just been given a yank. “Gondolin,” she whispered. “ the exiles…..???” Then her voice animated with excitement. “They are here? Here in this world??” Rochiriel nodded her head a little, puzzled, and the girl continued in a rush. “I think… maybe these are my people! I am… we were sent here from there…but there were orcs… and we got separated, and I don’t know if my companions are alive…or, or gone………….and I was lost, and then these edan………” The voice trailed away, then resumed more slowly. “I am AnnaMaria, and I have traveled for many months searching for others of our people. I have been alone for a long time now—since I was separated from my friends by the fight with orcs. We had a map to follow, but it is…or was with my companions…and it was not a very clear map, cryptic. At any rate, we didn’t know how to return home…they were to contact us when they could. Do you think……??” And her voice trailed off again.

    Rochiriel shrugged slightly. “I have no idea, but I guess we will find out. Your name, AnnaMaria…it certainly isn’t very elven.”

    The girl smiled a little wistfully. “No, it is a human name. My mother named me for her best friend, who was edan. Those were better times…before the betrayal and the fall of our Temple.”

    Rochiriel tossed a blanket from her bedroll toward the girl. “Well, AnnaMaria, tomorrow on the road you may tell me the tale of your land. But it grows late by the stars. Sleep, and tomorrow we will see if perhaps these Exiles are your people.”

    Evening of the next day found them approaching a small white building on the outskirts of the Sosarian city of Skara Brae. As they rode forward, Rochiriel noticed a very large, powerfully built man standing outside the building. He was dressed in scarlet armor with a scarlet tunic overtop, the tunic emblazoned with with many crests of valor. He was no longer young, but appeared to be still at the top of his game, his stance confident as he watched them approach. Well, then, thought Rochiriel to herself, perhaps this ambassador had a larger party than she had been led to believe. This man was obviously the military attachee. Hmm…perhaps this would not be such a demeaning assignment after all, there was at least a staff.

    She dismounted in front of the building and tossed her reins to the man in red, and addressed him as she brushed the trail dust from her clothing. “You, do something with our mounts. They are tired as it’s been a long ride. Then perhaps you will tell me where I can find this fat, old ambassador from Gondolin—or perhaps he’s fallen asleep over his poetry? Santee, I was told was his name. That is correct?” She laughed a little, tilted up her chin, and looked down her small nose at the large man in red.
  7. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 6

    An older human enters The Exiles of Gondolin Embassy and removes his cloak. His dress was dusty and sweaty, indicates a much more refined and educated background. Santee looks up from the bowl of venison stew, and invites the man to have a seat and share in the meal. Rochiriel gave Santee a look of disapproval, but refrained from stating it. AnnaMaria watched with stranger with suspicion and never released her grasped off the knife. Snrub continued to heartily spoon his mea into his mouth. The human took an empty seat in front of a bowl, and Santee began to ladle a healthy portion of the stew into the bowl. Santee wondered when CrossBones would show up, and noted how much of an influence Panzerfaust had been on him. Between CrossBones and Rochiriel, I will need alot of patience.

    CrossBones, sat outside the entrance to The Blighted Grove. It was a large Crowd gathered there. Larst, Devlin, Obsidian and a host of others all waiting to do battle with Melisande for untold riches and artifacts, formed the parties and boasted of their prowess in battle. CrossBones admired his new treasure, the Crystaline Ring. CrossBones muttered to himself “Obligations can wait one more round” And teleported to do battle with Melisande one more time.

    The human introduces himself as Professor Burk Hammat of Umbra University and shows his golden signet ring to everyone seated at the table. The Professor states with pride “I am a member of Dharuuc-Bal. Dharuuc-Bal is a group of ten academics who spend their free time adventuring and thrill-seeking.” Everyone continued to eat their meal and listen. The Professor continues “Dharuuc-Bal is goblin for Playthings of Fortune. Our adventures are usually of uncertain legality, we would all lose our tenure if the University found out about our escapades.” Rochiriel looked at Santee, and hoped that he would get rid of the Edan. The Professor makes eye contact with everyone seated at the table “A Balron and its minions have captured three members of our group. And I need help rescuing them.” Rochiriel began to voice her opposition to this request right away. AnnaMaria quietly watched and Snrub continued to eat. Santee looked at the Professor, “Who are the three you want us to rescue?” The Professor replied “Nillaean, Brae, and Aluniol, all from HeartWood” and reached into his tunic and removed a tattered map. As the Professor laid the map out, AnnaMaria moved closer to get a better a view of it. Santee began to notice that her eyes became wider as she recognized this map.
  8. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 7

    Rochiriel surveyed the people sitting at the table. She raised her fork and waved it emphatically in the air as a means of making her point, "Now wait just a minute! You mean you want us to go harring off to find a few professors whose ill-advised exploits have landed them in a bit of hot water?!? Whatever were you after with this map, Goblin gold? You know... I have far better things to do. Why there's a ball at home next week and I have this great pair of dancing shoes..." She glaced at Santee who had just made some indelicate noise that sounded as though he had just choked on his decidedly sub-standard stew. She resented being the source of his amusement and cast him what she supposed was her most withering glare. She hadn't yet decided what she thought of him. She'd inadventently offered him something of an insult upon her arrival, and he'd only seemed amused. A warrior he might be, but she doubted he could hold his own on the dance floor.....

    AnnaMaria's voice brought her attention back to the matter at hand. "Professor," began AnnaMaria timidly, "This is my--err.. our map. Or it looks the same. Where did you get it and where is it a map to? We never really knew..we didn't have time to find the place... Maddux gave us a map like this. We thought maybe it was to a place where people of Gondolin might live or maybe to ancient Elven artifacts. Crossbones thought maybe there was treasure...." she stopped and her face colored pink as she realized they were all watching her. "Oh, I didn't mean......... I don't really know..that is..the map is the same... but....." she stammered in embarrassent. "Snrub! what do you think?" And she looked down at her meal.

    Snrub looked up at the sound of his name, but immediately resumed eating. Rochiriel thought he must be starving to be eating this food. She pushed her bowl away with distaste. "Anyway, one of my professors at the University--Shiwanna, she taught magic..I wasn't very good at magic. My better subjects were ancient Elven art, diplomacy, and......" A snort from Santee brought her up short. "Excuse me?!?" She turned her attention to the man in crimson armor.

    "Rochiriel, is there a point to what you are saying?" Santee asked, containing his exasperation. "Maybe you should let the Professor speak."

    "Well...I was meerly going to point out that my professor, Shiwanna, was a good friend of this Aluniol. And, maybe Shiwanna might know something. But if you don't care to listen to what I have to say... then I will just excuse myself and get a little air!" She pushed away from the table and strode furiously toward the door where she collided violently with a young man in light blue robes who was just entering. AnnaMaria jumped to her feet with a cry of joy, overturning her her chair and knocking over her mug of ale. Professor Hammat snatched at the map to save it from harm, sending his bowl of stew crashing to the floor, creating a mess of shattered crockery and spilt food.

    Santee surveyed the chaos of his dining hall.

    Snrub continued to eat.
  9. Journey to the Land of the Horselord, Part 8

    Interesting, I never did get a look at that map when they arrived. I wonder if it is the one Maddux handed to them. I'll just have to keep my tongue still and listen to what this professor has to say.

    *takes another bite of stew*

    I really need to remember to pack some sustenance next time I go out for a prolonged time.

    *notices Rochiriel nudge her bowl away from her, reaches for it and pours the rest of hers into his bowl. Continues to eat and gets deep in thought.*

    The Embassy has been alive with activity as soon as we showed up, and the Horselord's own daughter, here of all places. What had Maddux and Eowyna known that they weren't sharing with the rest of us? Sent here only with a map, nothing else. What was going on, the events before the travel are a little blurry, but that artifact was brought back to the Enclave from that rat, Eowyna was on the run from who knows what...

    *faintly hears his name, then notices a few in the room have looked his way, takes another spoonful of stew.*

    Hope that wasn't important. Better pay more attention to what's going on in here.
  10. Journey to the Land of the Horselord Part 9

    The fertile green pastures were littered with blood stains and carcasses. Skeletal Steeds roamed the pastures were two hundred of the finest horses once roamed. The Horse Lord upon his Silver Steed tightened his grip upon the reins, as the anger began to build in him. The Captain looked at Heruroquen “Lord, your commands?” The Horse Lord without removing his gaze upon the pastures “Destroy the abominations and send word to my daughter Rochiriel,” takes a deep breath “Bring all the animals and everyone into the compound.”

    The miners watched in curiosity as the black smoke was rising above the forest south of Minoc. They began to gather in a large group and began to work their way towards the smoke. As they got closer they could make out three burning wagons and everything had been slain. Cautiously they moved forward, investigating the grizzly scene of death before them. Sam glanced at pile of liquidly flesh squishing beneath his feet and began to vomit. Timmons yelled “Watch where you step!!!” Suddenly the corpses of the horses began to glow, and the skeletal flesh began to rise up from their corpse. Timmons screamed “Run for your lives!!” dropped his shovel and began to run in fear.

    The Balron reached down and dug its claws into Nillaean’s shoulder and began to lift the frightened elf off the ground. Tears began to flow from Nillaean’s eyes and he screamed in pain and fight against his binding as the Balron held him above its head and continued to fight against his bindings. The pain became too much to bear and Nillaean became to scream in agony, and the Balron only started laugh menacingly As Nillaean was on the verge of losing conscientiousness, the Balron muttered a spell and began to heal and continue his torture. Brae began to cry hysterically “What do you want? We are only Academics… please lets us go…” The Balron fully extended his arm in the arm and quickly slammed Nillaean into the ground. Nillaean’s bones can be heard breaking from the impact, and The Balron began to heal Nillaean. “I am Ndurmmat, Guardian of the Abyss” with an evil stare “Tell me of Dharuuc-Bal, and what brings you here?”

    CrossBones continued to follow the road from Skara Brae to the Embassy. Thinking to himself how today has been a very successful day at Blighted Grove and glancing at the saddle bags full of gold. I know I am a little late at getting to the Embassy, but I can appear sorry and just nod my head as Santee lectures me.
  11. Journey to the Land of the Horselord Part 10

    Crossbones stepped back as he entered the Embassy; one woman ran into him, and the girl attempted to throw her arms around him. "Aaye, AnnaMaria, I figured you were orc bait," he said, attempting to keep the woman from falling, attempting to fend off the embrace of the girl, and attempting to avoid Santee altogether. He glanced toward Snrub for help, but failed to receive any assistance from that quarter. "There's someone with me. I met him just down the road and he has a message for you, Rochiriel. He's from your father, I think." As he'd hoped, that announcement diverted the attention of Rochiriel and Santee from himself, and he looked about the room as the older pair rushed outside to meet the messenger. "Who's that?", pointing at the older Edan clutching a piece of parchment and dabbing at spilled ale with the tail of his cloak.

    "Oh, that's Professor Hammat, from the University at Umbra, and he has a map just like ours!" exclaimed AnnaMaria. "Snrub said he doesn't have our map, Crossbones. Do you?" She went on without waiting for an answer as Crossbones again glanced toward Snrub who shrugged and made a face she couldn't see. " Professor Hammat was just telling us about the Dharuuc-Bal, and his adventures, and about some balron who captured some of his friends...." her eyes shone with excitement. "Tell Crossbones what you told us, Professor" And the professor repeated the details to Crossbones.

    Santee reentered looking troubled. "There seem to be reports from all around the countryside, Professor Hammat, about demons, and a great deal of necromantic activity. The region of Rochiriel's home has seen some of the worst of it...Do you think there could be any connection with your activities and the capture of your associates?" The two men began to converse between themselves, comparing bits of information. And the young elves were left on their own.

    "Let's go hunt scorpions!" said Snrub. Crossbones' eyes lit up at the thought of loot, and he nodded while grabbing a chunk of bread to replace his own missed dinner. AnnaMaria grabbed her bow and followed the two young males quickly out the door. While hunting the large scorpion, Miasma, AnnaMaria returned to the question of the map. "So, do you have our map, Crossbones?", and another arrow hit the scorpion. Snrub and Crossbones were tossing about advanced spells with ease, and AnnaMaria had a few second thoughts about her avoidance of magical training.

    "I don't have the map. Snrub had it"

    "I did NOT, you did."

    "You two have lost the map??!!??" Snrub and Crossbones looked at each other, shrugged and avoided looking at AnnaMaria. Another miasma succumbed to magic and was thoroughly searched for valuable loot. "First you left me with the orcs, then you lost our map? And you," looking at Crossbones, "you got thrown in JAIL?"

    "Only Edan jail," said Crossbones. "Doesn't count. And I didn't loose the map-- I DIDN'T. Snrub did it."

    "Did NOT !"

    AnnaMaria: "We need to find the map."

    "What about Balron's? I'll bet we can find the Professor's friends. And maybe they have the map," said Snrub. "Wanna go hunt balrons?"

    Crossbones: "Oh, yeah. We can easily handle a few balrons. No problem. And I know just the place to find them. The old professor's friend are as good as rescued already. Come on."

    Crossbones cast the traveling spell and the boys eagerly stepped through the gate. AnnaMaria tagged along behind. The first thing they saw upon emerging from the gate at Chaos shrine was the golden skin of The Collector of Souls. "It's gold!" whispered AnnaMaria, "should we do this?" But the boys didn't hesitate and began to summon up energy vortices. The balron, however, flicked them off with swipe of his mighty fist, and it began to look bad for the group of young elves. AnnaMaria's arrows just seemed to bounce right off the golden balron, doing little to no damage. "We should go home. They will miss us soon." She might as well have been speaking to the wind, for the boys continued to battle the great monster.

    It was then that a stranger came upon the part of young elves--an Edan stranger with bright green hair who introduced himself as Lord Crazy Eddie, a bard. "Hey, I'll help you get the big boy! I can peace him!" and he demonstrated his skill with his instrument. The group attacked the paragon beast with renewed enthusiasm. "I'm sure we will find the map that you two lost" said AnnaMaria.

    Crossbones: "Snrub lost it"

    AnnaMaria: "Snrub ate it"

    Snrub: "Did NOT. I never even had the stupid map. Crossbones had it. He lost it!"

    Lord Crazy Eddie looked at the three young elves in puzzlement and laughed. "You people are funny," and shook his head. AnnaMaria thought he meant a bit strange rather than really funny, but he seemed ok for an edan. It took some time of serious fighting before the balron was vanquished, and search carefully though they did, there was no map to be found. It was discouraging, and Snrub said with a shrug, "I'm tired--and HUNGRY. I'm going to find something to eat." Crazy Eddie gathered his share of the loot and departed, leaving AnnaMaria and Crossbones alone.

    AnnaMaria stammered a bit nervously, "Crossbones, we didn't find the map...and we didn't rescue the professor's friends either. I... I don't think we ought to go home. They're gonna be really mad."

    "Yeah," he said "I know.....we should hide."

    AnnaMaria brightened up right away. "Yes, let's hide!"

    "I know just the place. Follow me." They raced through the mountain passes and down into the desert, dodging hostile creatures along the way. Presently Crossbones stopped in front of the gates of a small settlement. "Here! a gypsy camp! We can stay here. The gypsies won't tell on us. I hide here sometimes. There's a little inn with a few beds and even food. Snrub should have stayed."

    "ohhhhhh.........this is perfect!" AnnaMaria surveyed the tiny building. "We can stay here and look for the map again. No one will find us here."