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Round Robin 1.3: The Saga Continues Again

"He's going to die, they're ALL going to die. Painfully."

Olan did not seem impressed by his guest's outburst. "Is that so, Douleurs?" he asked, disdain dripping from his words. The man was an uncontrolled slave to his vices, what the Necrodiators saw in him, Olan couldn't imagine, save he was willing to dirty his hands in distasteful manners for the right price. As far as he was concerned, Aric Doulers was little more than an animal who could talk.

"Don't start with me Olan," snarled Aric "If Balthus had told me Birchland was a damned spy I would have killed him already! It's not my fault-"

"It never is," the soldier cut him off bluntly. He extended his small pouch to his loathsome guest. "Here you are, as per Balthus' order."

Aric snatched the bag and quickly peeked inside. "That's it?"

Olan nodded.

"Doesn't look like much."

"Just take it and be off."

Aric glared at Olan, threw a quick mock salute and ducked out of the soldier's tent. A few of his men gathered around one of the nearby campfires looked up as he approached.

"We're done here," Aric announced.

"Good," one of the men muttered, "getting tired of being watched." He cocked his head indicating two men on watch who were obviously watching them.

Douleurs looked out over the camp. A faint glow on the horizon hinted at the coming sunrise.

"We're not waiting for dawn, we're leaving now."


"Yes, now. With any luck Birchland, the girl, and that half-breed piece of crap will still be near that damned town. We'll finish the job easy. Besides," he lowered his voice, "being around Olan makes my fists itch."

There was a murmur of agreement among his men.
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She was close now. Closer to her target than she had been in years and she was not to be denied. Her own existence was to destroy this cancer.

Near the base of the hillside was a sporatic collection of bushes and trees. It was almost as if the valley they neared may have been a grove, cleared of tree life leaving only the greenery of the grass before them. Filthy humans. The thought disgusted her as she planted a foot on an old tree root, signs of an axe still showing even all these years.


He whispered quietly, unsure of how close any sentries were. Still, he was certain she heard him. She was ignoring him.


Damn, that boy! He persisted to call out to her, which only enraged her further. Grabbing him by the shirt, she pulled at him. Only by the suddenness of her action made him stumble as she drew him closer.

“This is your kind’s doing!” she hissed. “You would destroy an entire forest for your worthless reasons.” She released her grip and he stumbled back, falling square on his butt. She turned her attention back to the valley “This was home to all life, and it was destroyed.”

Alston reached up to grab a tree branch. Hauling himself back up, he looked out at the valley. It has been this way for years. Even on the old maps, the valley existed.

“Not by us.” he intoned, low and quiet.

“Your kind are the only ones that change and destroy everything around you,” she growled.

“The valley has been like this forever, Nala.” Alston retorted. “Our kingdom isn’t even as old as the valley.”

She ignored him. The boy doesn’t understand. All his kind did was rape and destroy everything around them. His kingdom was young but the land itself was old, and was home to hundreds before they razed it.

She sighed and took a deep breath. She had a more urgent pestilence to destroy. Dawn would soon approach and with the sun at her back, she would soon have her vengeance. Reaching around, she slipped her fingers around the knock of an arrow.

“Nala,” the boy hissed.

With distain, she turned her gaze towards the boy. Any more stupidity and she would loose an arrow into his heart. Instead of him staring at her, she saw his attention directed elsewhere. She followed his gaze to see a small party on the far side of the camp. On horseback, they were heading towards the north.

“No,” she cried out.

Before Alston knew it, Elyssa leaped up and started running through the forest and back the way they came.

As fast as he could, he sped up to catch her. He could hear her curse under her breath as she slipped from tree to tree. “Damn him,” she panted. She was like nothing he ever seen as she sailed through the woods even faster.

“There’s no other place! He’s heading back to your village!”
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Alston followed as quickly as he could, darting over roots, and through low branches. But Nala was far too fast for him. He kept losing her through the brush. He was worried what she might do if she reached the village before he did. She seemed to have little concern for life.

His thoughts kept returning to her standing over Hallah with the dagger in her hand. It's possible that if he hadn't stopped her, Nala would have killed her. His blood had run cold with fear. Hallah couldn't even be considered a friend, but he had to keep her safe. He wouldn't considered himself a man if he couldn't. But Nala had said that Hallah was marked for death. What had she meant?

Something else bothered him too. Nala had said that humans would soon be extinct. She knew something that he did not. If he knew, he might be able to prevent whatever Nala foresaw. He didn't know how, but it was worth a shot. He had to ask her some questions if she ever decided to stop to rest.

How many innocent lives has that woman taken anyway? Alston wasn't sure he wanted to know.
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[apologies on the delay -connection problems ]

What he did want to know was what she was after but already she was too far ahead and the weariness of his hard days bore down heavily.

In no time he'd lost sight of her.

Alston stood in the snow and tried to catch his breath. At least he knew where she was going. He might be able to catch up there.

Maybe before she did something drastic.


The early morning dawn sent a faint light across the crude campsite.

Marcus nodded to himself. He was the last watch of the night, Robin and Daniel were both asleep, resting for the new day.

The sword lay by Daniel's bedroll, Marcus could almost imagine it watching over the boy, but not in a kind way. The blade drove Daniel with an intense purpose, pushing him to fight, to train, to... something. Was it Daniel's human side that was causing this? Or was it his elven heritage?

The boy was strong, that much Marcus had discovered in the brief time he'd gotten to know the boy, but was he strong enough to master this blade?

"I wonder," the warrior murmured under his breath.

Quietly, he went over and picked up the sword.

It was cold, a little colder to the touch than he expected. He noted it was finally crafted and well balanced, and as far as he could tell, felt like any other sword.

No, there was more here.

He removed one of this gloves.

Aeriel, dear Aeriel... she had taught him a few magics, some even a rough hewn soul like his could learn. Things that healed the body, soothed the mind, and opened the senses to things unseen by human awareness. He used that now, running a bare finger across the flat of the blade...

-Battle, blood, anger, resolve, a blade that will not falter, a blade that will hewn through the enemy, strike them down, no more of elven kind shall fall, protector, champion, warrior, go forth and save us, avenge us, free us from our enemies-

Marcus gasped and nearly dropped the sword.

He blinked a few times, refocusing on the real world. He still held the grip in his gloved hand, the coldness seeping through.

The sword's maker had indeed imbued it with magic as he suspect, but with such flood of focused purpose... Marcus had never seen the like. This was the creation of a master, a master who had tried to create a champion out of steel. No wonder Daniel was being overwhelmed; if he felt it as strong as he did with his simple magic and human blood, Daniel's elven blood must feel it tenfold and no doubt his human side was getting in the way.

Silently, he set the sword back next to Daniel. Something needs to be done soon or-

Marcus snapped alert. There was movement nearby, coming close to the campsite.

Quietly he shook both the boy and Robin awake.

"Whu.." Robin mumbled sleepily.

"Shh... someone's coming."
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Heh. Was working on the new forum.


They were no more than a day’s journey from the sanctuary caves of Javon. To rebuild their homes, it was unlikely anyone would follow. Certainly none of the sentries.

Robin knelt over and slipped her hands around her bow while Marcus drew back and set the heavy cord of his crossbow in place. Daniel hesitated a moment before drawing his elven blade. Marcus glanced at the boy and saw a look of unease over his face.

Good, the old man thought. It’s still him instead of -

The snapping of foliage crushed under foot alerted them all the more. It wasn’t too close, but the fact they were in the Ironwood Forest, miles from any town or village meant they were likely being followed. Or hunted. Whoever found them must have been an expert tracker. Marcus took extra precautions by using fallen and broken branches to conceal the clearing they camped

She held her breath. In the distance, a shadow moved. Robin couldn’t tell what it was, but it was there, moving closer. Robin slowly drew back her bow. Marcus and Daniel took notice just as she hoped and scanned the trees before her.

“Leather armor”, Daniel whispered.

Robin nodded. The figure was coming closer and she could see light reflecting off something he wore. Was it a sword? The snaps or buckles that held the leather in place? She couldn’t tell.

Another crack sounded. Expert tracker he may be, but still fallible. And the figure continued to approach.

Marcus took aim to Robin’s left.

There was another.

Daniel took note and his grip around his sword’s hilt tightened. Robin also noticed and began to tense up. There’s two of them? Oh, no. What if there’s more!

“Fire.” Marcus whispered.

Robin hesitated. She didn’t know if she could hit the figure from this distance. And if she missed...

She pulled back the string ever so taunt with her two fingers and lined up the arrow with her mark. There was nothing else. Just her and the figure ahead. It moved to another tree and she could see the steel blade more clearly. He was still far away.

“Fire, girl,” he muttered again.

She raised her bow ever so slightly. She could see the figure a little more clearly. Less shadow and more substance. She held her breath.

And fired.

Marcus released his crossbow bolt at the same time, the resounding thud of the bolt hitting its mark echoed in the woods. Both Daniel and Robin turned to the sound of strike, the sound of a large weight collapsing in the heavy undergrowth. Then they heard something else. A sharp scream.

Like a blur, Daniel dashed through the forest towards the sound. Robin stood frozen as she saw him glide effortlessly from tree to tree as fast as he did. It surprised her. It worried her.

He stopped at the body, its chest pierced with an arrow.

He was one of them.

One of those bandits he fought off that attacked Taruko.
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