16-Oriochi Checkers

Elvenaar: Hunting Grounds

Aysel looked out over the cold, near frozen lake on the island of Elvenaar, her thoughts were something she couldn’t entirely voice.

You knew you would have to make a decision at some point.

She looked back to her companion, his eyes shone like a pair of perfectly matched fire opals as he studied her. She nodded slightly.

Yes I did, it’s just… harder, I’ve been on this plane for longer then I’ve been any where since… my brother. I never thought I’d grow so attached, never thought I would care so deeply.

You sound like you’ve already made a decision.

Perhaps I have.

So… what now?

We…

A feeling went through her body, something was going to happen this eve.

We need to go to Oriochi.

He nodded and they made their way through the perilous icy terrain back to the Khurnak vortex..

Oriochi Tao: Bai Tao City

A poorly scrawled letter lay on the ground where Meilikki’s Guardian had dropped it. Avene… was captured again, or so it seemed. Eorindel, Nesalla, Brakern, Trileon, and Calavel were standing near it, speaking of her when Aysel entered the dojo.

Quite a Gathering you have here

Her words were quiet but audible and it made them turn, Calavel and Eorindel smiled and Nesalla nodded slightly in greetings. She looked at them all and then looked to the note on the floor making out the words and then looking to Eorindel. He looked at her with a mix of sorrow and rage in his eyes.

Aysel. It’s happened again… the Mizunos have captured Avene. they know she can’t die and they’ll torture her!

Something felt odd about that statement. and the letter on the ground, Aysel stood silent for a moment and then walked over to the circle of chairs.

Perhaps my friend, but I am beginning to have my doubts.

The rest sat down and discussion erupted. the “what ifs” and the mistrust.

After a few minutes of listening to their conversation and concerns and reviewing everything she knew about Avene she cleared her throat.

I think that a good starting place would be to find out the truth about her first capture.

Eorindel’s eyes and voice raised, his rage was near unbridled.

What do you mean truth? Karl had her and the Mizuno’s have her now!

Aysel looked at him with reserved pity, he was blinded by his love yet… this would hurt.

When I scryed, I saw Pyrus imprisoned but Avene was never with him.

Are you trying to tell me she lied. Avene wouldn’t lie to me!

The Guardian rose from his seat and began to pace. Aysel got up and went to him.

Eorindel. I will scry for her if you wish.

No! No more scrying, no more games! Leave me alone!

The muscular elf pushed her aside and exploded out of the room in anger.

Aysel stood and watched him go. Brakern and Trileon got up to go after him and were about out of the room when Nesalla got up and stopped them.

Stop and sit back down! He needs a few minutes alone and then I will talk with him!

The two looked at her with surprise, she was speaking with an authority she hadn’t had before. They looked at her and to the training room where he had gone.

She’s right, boys. There’s a saying about angry bees.

Aysel headed back to the circle of chairs and Brakern and Trileon followed her lead. The two began to speak again to Calavel as she fell back to her thoughts. She hardly noticed what they spoke of until Protheus came out of the shadows.

You speak as if you are already dead and doomed.

His voice was cold and held as much disdain as it could. The two looked at him and Brakern was about to say something when a chill visibly went up his spine.

Eh? Trileon laddie.. do ya feel that?

The young elf had frozen up for a moment and then nodded.

Someone’s watching us, do you feel it Aysel?

The elven woman shook her head and looked to Calavel who also shook his head. Protheus kept his composure and spoke to the scryer.

Hello old “friend”

He slipped into the shadows and was gone. for the moment any way. he never really “left” an area when he did this. Brakern looked to the planeswalker.

So. what do you think we should be doing about this, lassie?

The planeswalker thought for a moment and answered him carefully.

First we find out the truth… then we rescue her if she’s truly been captured.

And how do you propose doing that?

The planeswalker sighed and answered with a bit of reluctance.

We shall have to ask Karl.

The three looked at her in a bit of shock and then Calavel gave her a critical glance.

Ask Karl? But…

He claimed to be keeping her hostage… if this is the truth we must ask him, if it is not then…

The planeswalker trailed off. The implications of what she was saying were huge.

I be thinking this be something we should be discussing.

Aysel nodded and looked to Trileon and Calavel.

I’ll go get Nesalla…

The moon elf got up and soon returned with both Nesalla and Eorindel.

Calavel and the wild elf sat down, though Eorindel hesitated some.

Aysel… could you… scry her?

The planeswalker nodded slightly and got up.

Let me prepare myself.

She moved to the area behind the changing screens and pulled off her skirts and tunic, stripping down to a lightweight pair of casual slacks and a well supported halter-top, then strapped on her bracers.

Scrying was not an exact science, the less distraction there was, the better the focus: the bracers helped with her concentration, and the lightweight clothing helped the body to relax. Aysel emerged from behind the changing screen and called for her companions to join her as she walked to the fountain that would serve as her “mirror”. She could not be sure what sort of wards were surrounding Avene if she was in fact prisoner, and if she was not prisoner it was likely she would have wards as well… wards had a tendency to either obscure or repel and if they were the type that repelled… it would knock her out quickly. She whispered a short prayer to Celestian and approached the fountain.

She silently weaved a clairvoyance spell and then looked into the depths of the reflective water, thousands of images swirled about and she pushed them around concentrating on the thought of Avene… one floated to the surface and she turned her attention to it; and it pulled her in…

She was on the high sea, the king and a hooded woman dressed in white and gold robes…she held the same presence and aura as Avene.

They were speaking, it was muffled at first but as her concentration grew, so did her ability to hear the conversation that was occurring so far from where she stood a front a fountain in Oriochi Tao…

“Are you sure of this?” The king speaks with a sense of urgency in his voice.

The cloaked woman looks to him through her hood and speaks in a solemn tone. “I am, they have a trap for you.”

“Hmm… and who are these Demonic Stance you speak of ?”

“Scoundrels mostly …” She pauses a moment. “They are organized for a greater evil… they plan on having your life cleaned out” A faint laugh escapes her lips. “If you get my meaning…”

The king walks to a drawer and hands her a parchment. “Here you are… You now have full access to all my libraries… and to my personal headquarters at Golden Delta.”

He pauses and looks at her solemnly.

“I trust you with my life Tania.”

“M’Lord.. did I not tell you i would plot against your enemy back in the Bloody Fang Wars?”

“That you did.. and a great job .. you must be good at seductions…” He grins.

“Let’s just say i’m never bad at anything…” She laughs freely now.

“Ask General Farfas to accompany you to the Flying Mantle.”

She nods and then answers in a mockingly tone…”I have time… My letter bought me enough time for some nice sea sickness.”

…she shook the image from her eyes and took a step back from the fountain.

Well… she is certainly not a prisoner.

She looked to her companions and took a deep breath and told them what she had seen.

Emotions stirred in her gut, but more so in theirs; the pain was evident on Eorindel’s face and Calavel stood to the side with a pensive look on his face. Trileon was the first to speak.

Well, I think it’s become obvious that Tania is in fact Avene…

The others nodded slightly and another discussion fired up. Karl, The Demonic Stance, Avene… the goblins hadn’t even come up but groups surrounded them and they were all interested in one or more of their alliance for different reasons, they had all lied to them… none could be trusted, but they had to get to the core, if only to save themselves… if not the King whom this seemed to revolve around. Aysel was aware of their concerns at the revelation but she was studying Eorindel, hoping this had not crushed him. Nesalla started to head back to the meeting room and Aysel took a step forward finally feeling the effects of the scry. Calavel noticed and helped her back to the table.

The discussion continued… What was to be the next step? Free Pyrus? Wait on the Demonic Stance to approach Nesalla again? Speak to Karl?

The last idea was not well received and caused the argument to swell, finally Nesalla cleared her throat and separated the puzzle pieces. If Aysel had been one to show her emotions on a regular basis she would have been beaming at the younger elf. She was feeling the call of the leadership, and it was well… the others perhaps had begun to depend on the planeswalker too much, it was one of her fears and it seemed to be one that was being relieved.

It was decided that the group would take the Helm of Iskander to Stang in order to progress the rescuing of Pyrus, then Aysel would go to the Pinnacle to gain audience with Karl, Trileon would return to Durain and was not to be any where near Greenrock without escort.

Ossecus: Greenrock

The tall draconian-like humanoid known to men as a “Tainted Blood” is standing in front of a large tome, reading it over when the group arrives at the Fosterion Castle.

Stang!

The Grushnak near jumped, not expecting company.

Ah it’s you! And with a small army no less.

Stang grinned in the odd way of his race.

Small… but willing…

The Guardian grinned as Calavel and Nesalla gaped at the Grushnak and then turned back to him.

Stang… we found something in the depths of Kor’Amura…

Eorindel took the helmet from his pack and handed it to Stang. The tainted blood rotated it in his hands and examined it carefully before looking to the Guardian with a look of amazement on his face.

Could this be… this is the Helm of Iskander?

The elf nodded and smiled.

We will be able to get to the prison pocket plane with this but… we still need a personal item of Pyrus’s…

Aysel stepped forward, two objects in hand; a claw that Avene had given her in the Enchanted Woods after she had “escaped” from Karl’s prison, and a copy of a document that Karl had gotten her to translate as a false “ransom” for Avene.

Stang… I do not know if either of these objects are what they were said to be but… perhaps they can be some help…

He took the claw and parchment from her and examined the claw carefully and a frown crossed his face.

Do you know what this is?

Apparently not part of Pyrus…

It is a demon claw… if we had used the Helm on this, we would have been sitting in the Abyss.

Avene lied to us…

Again.

Nesalla finished Aysel’s sentence and she and Aysel looked to Eorindel, his face had gone pale again and he had walked to the door, Nesalla sighed and went to him. Aysel turned back to Stang, he was reading over the scroll.

This may be helpful… but not without something of Pyrus’s… do we have nothing?

Aysel looked to her companions and began to shake her head, when Protheus emerged from the shadows behind a bookcase.

Actually… we have this.

It was a hilt and it looked like… Aysel wasn’t really sure she wanted to know if it was what it looked like. Stang turned it over in his hands and looked to the Dark Elf with surprise…

Wha.. is this… how did…

It is just a souvenir…

The Dark Elf backed away and leaned against the book case watching as amazement passed over the faces of the others. Nesalla stepped away from the door where she had been comforting Eorindel.

I feel as if I am watching something amazing and momentous unfold…

If Stang could have been glowing, he would have been.

This is… outstanding… I shall go work on getting him out immediately…

How long are we looking at Stang?

Eorindel had stepped back in the room behind Nesalla. The Grushnak thought for a moment.

Two days at the least, come back then.

Eorindel nodded and looked to his companions with a large grin on his face and turned to his friends as Pyrus walked to the corner of the room and disappeared back into the Laboratory.

Aysel watched with a quiet smile as the others thanked and praised Protheus, and took enjoyment in the momentary relief of the good news. They bid their good byes and well wishes and Aysel stepped towards the door. She was feeling revitalized, it was time to confront Karl about Avene’s “imprisonment”.

Brakern, Calavel… accompany me to the Pinnacle?


They nodded and pulled robes over their armour after she snapped her fingers unleashing the small spell that changed her clothes. They walked to the pinnacle and entered, and Aysel spoke in low tones to Captain requesting audience. A few minutes later they were let into the Senate Chamber.

Aaah…The Lady Elf and her slaves

His tone was mockfull and he purred as he spoke.

Lord Fallen.

Calavel and Brakern stood, one on each side and after she curtsied, they both bowed.

Who is this Lady you want to speak of? I have no woman arrested at the moment… Unless…If you are mentioning that draconic piece of crap…

No, not the card dealer… Lady Avene… also known as Lady Tania… you claimed her as a guest when you brought a certain document for me to look at…
Well.. I have never heard of those names… oohhh… THE document… the translation one?

Aysel nods slightly as he tilts his head trying to think. An evil smirk integrates into his face.

Ahh…A woman named Zaira came to me offering your secrets…

He laughs cruelly.

Her only request was that make you believe that That Pitiful Guardian’s love was my prisoner… I hardly saw the harm… he is such a fun ratsy to play with…

Aysel eyed him and was about to speak again when he erupted in laughter and she realized there would be no more information from this source. Avene had never been a prisoner… but who was Zaira? Aysel thanked Karl and the three left the senate chambers and remained silent until they left the building and then Brakern spoke as if he was keeping it all in…

Lady Aysel… Avene, well she had been introducing ‘erself to me as Zaira…


The planeswalker looked to the dwarf and then gave him a nod and a thankful smile. It fit… of course… she had been playing with all of them since the beginning… Calavel looked to her and broke into her thoughts.

Are you ok Aysel?

Aysel looked at both of them one last time and then smiled as a thought crossed her mind.

Yes, I’m fine… it just dawned on me that we aren’t playing chess any more… Its Oriochi Checkers.

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