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Re: Toland's Tales


-----
3 days later
-----

“At least your remembered a cloak this time.” Toland remarked, the frigid mountain winds dusting white over every exposed surface.

“Tolz, I will end you. How far out are we?” The Paladin looked to Toland’s scout nature for answers he couldn’t, for lack of a better word, divine.

“It should just be over this pass, here. Do you sense anything?”

“I sense that I’m still tired. Don’t you think we could have stayed for an extra day to sleep?”

“Not at all. If there is a chance for survivors, then we must make haste. You can sleep when you are dead, Cross.”

“I guess that’s something to look forward to, after all.” Cross said has the pair made it over the last path and saw a large black gate covering a cave before them.

“I believe we have found it.”

“Really Tolz? What gave it away? Was it the dark dingy metal grate, the pile of skulls sitting next to it, or the stench of death on the air?”

“The map, actually. Come on now, let’s go inside and kill evil or what have you.” The pair dismounted their horses and threw down some hay for them to eat. The door swung open with easy, a notable contrast to the rigid nature of the lich’s front gate. The ground had footprints in it no more than a few weeks old, preserved by the lack of air movement in the cave. The cave started to wind until it had no longer been nature’s design and moved to a rigid structure, very similar to the design of the lich’s liar.

“Tolz, why do you think all of these evil lichs and necromancers have all this black rigid stuff on the walls? These places are always nearly identical to each other. You think they all get this stuff from the same place?”

“I’ve never really thought about it, I’m usually too into the moment of smiting evil to take away things like that. I imagine that it’s just an issue of ease. Perhaps Maegamarth enjoyed this style and had a lot of it laying around for others to take?”

Toland would have kept rambling on, but has they turned a corner a group of soldiers, now clearly zombies, dressed as New Belegarian soldiers, were standing at the end of the hallway. Toland drew his favorite mace and his mourners shield has Cross unsheathed his sword. Toland and Cross moved forward as a cohesive unit, with a combined purpose and pace that only comes from a shared motive and many months of fighting together. The zombies moved to approach them, but their charge closed the gap too quick for any kind of reaction besides dying. Toland took his mace, spinning it in his hand, the weight of the head carried down to his hand by the blue flames on the side, and landed it straight between the neck and shoulder of the former soldier to his most left, the one closest, and hence posing the most danger, to Cross. Has Toland did this, Cross spun his sword and body around Toland’s back, cleaving the creature to the furthest right. With only one zombie left in between them, both swung to dispatch it before it had any time to react. Using the momentum from his downward motion against his foe, Toland swung his right foot out and put his full weight forward into his shield, knocking the zombie right into the blade of Cross, who had placed it at just the right height to take off the his head as he fell downwards.

“While I doubt there are any survivors, I would hope that we find some.” Toland said, keeping his weapons ready. He walked down the hall, Cross right behind, until the pair came into a large room. A single soldier was standing in the room holding a mirror in his left and his sword in his right. A man in a black cloak lay dead at his feet and covered in dust.

“Soldier, report!” Toland called out to him. The man turned around, the veins in his face pulsing and black. His eyes were held wide open, his pupils extended to cover the size of his iris. His mouth had a grin on it that stretched from one ear to the other.

“Don’t worry Major… the necromancer is dead. They’re. All. Dead.” The words left his mouth had an unsettling pace, his tone almost supernaturally high pitched.

“What happened to you?” Toland asked. The soldier before him grasped the mirror tight.

“I… feel… everything around me. But you. You… are…different.” The soldier pointed at Cross. “Different. Must.” Before he could get the last words out of his mouth Toland had closed the gap between them, spinning his mace has he brought it from his hip to overhead. The head of the mace carried weight to it while it spun and connected with the mirror in the soldier’s hands, shattering it. Glass shards flew everywhere, but Toland ignored the pain. He looked down, mid swing, and saw the Soldier’s face return to normal has his mace came down on his skull. That’s about when the adrenaline stopped and Toland found himself in a larger amount of pain then he had previously considered possible. He collapsed to the ground, and looking down saw a rather large chunk of glass sticking out of the side of his right chest.

“Hold on Major, you’re going to be fine.” Cross said, rushing to his side. “I’m going to try and remove it, this is going to hurt.” Cross lifted the Major’s mace handle into his mouth, hoping it would help with the pain about to hit him. A quick glance at the Toland’s face saw the veins in his face pulsing and black, similar to the soldier before him. Cross was worried, but continued on. Toland bit has hard as he could, and Cross went to remove the glass. However, instead of coming out cleanly, the glass broke in his hands.

“Alright, time for some light energy healing? Fair warning – I’ve never tried anything like this before.”

“Cross, just finish the job.”

“Tolz if you don’t shut up right now I will.” Cross covered the wounds with his hands and began to pour light energy out of them, focusing Toland’s wounds. Instead of going to the wounds, however, the energy flowed straight into the mirror. Not sure at what was going on, Cross poured more energy into it. Eventually the mirror shard starting pouring out the energy, and grabbed the skin around it and pulled it inward, closing the wound off and surrounding itself with Toland’s flesh. Cross was exhausted, but the bleeding had stopped. He looked up, and Toland’s face was returned to normal. He had a new radiance about him, and his dark black hair seemed a little brighter. “You alright Tolz?”

“More than alright, I feel fantastic.” Toland picked up Cross and carried him outside to the horses. “I feel like I could throw a stone from here and reach the capital.” Toland reached into his pocket for a stone, and when he pulled it out, it was glowing brightly. “Well I’ll be.” Toland lashed some rope to the other horse’s reins, and set Cross up on his horse. He looked up at the Major, and before passing out, managed a few words.

“Is that grey hair?”


---
oi.
9/4/2012, 10:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to Toland   Send PM to Toland
 
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Re: Toland's Tales


A Misnamed Interlude

“Damn it Jayne. “

“What’s the matter? I made you the Field Marshall; I figure you would be excited.” Jayne was taken aback by Toland’s response. The Major, along with Cross and whatever fighting forces they could scrounge up after landing in Belefalas, had just made their way to New Belegar to explain what had happened to Lugh Jayne, former captain and current steward.

“The matter is you just named me.” Toland had a surly tone that conveyed an underlying issue that Jayne was oblivious too. “You named me Field Marshall Major Toland Eligiuson.”

“Tolz, what’s the issue?” Cross was surprised at the Major’s reaction as well.

“His word is law. My name isn’t Toland anymore.” The Steward began to grin. Jayne got it.

“What do you mean? He named you Field Marshall Major… oh.” Cross got it. “Just change it back. Rename him again, Jayne.”

“Royal decrees cannot be overturned so easily, Cross. The whole point of my word being law is that it is law. I can’t have the people thinking I flip flop, this is a coronation year!”

“I suppose I’ll have to adjust to it for the time being. “ Major said. “People have been calling me Major for years anyway.”


---
oi.
9/13/2012, 8:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to Toland   Send PM to Toland
 
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Re: Toland's Tales


The Lost Day


The boat swayed back and forth with the waves slowly, a comfort for the sailors in his company, but Toland found the ocean waves made him sick to his stomach. He much preferred the heavy waves, where he was too preoccupied trying to help, which Eldgrim assured him he wasn’t, but that didn’t matter. A few sailors were moving about, keeping the boat on course during the night. Cross, having in the last months run for two days straight and had the light energy completely drained from his body, was a bit more prone to sleeping, even for him. Dantrog was up and about; running the ship at night, but for some reason the Contrary Maiden’s captain stirred in his chambers and came out to the deck.


“I thought you might be awake, Major. Something has been bothering me.” Eldgrim, still groggy, slurred out to his old friend on the deck. Toland, spending a few minutes not keeled over the side of the deck, was still green has the New Belegarian forests that had sprung up since the Lifetree had been planted. “A year ago, on Reclamation Day, where were you?”


“Has it been a year already? I remember when we would sit around the fire, the curls in your beard a mere gleam in your eye. Time passes too quickly. ”


“Quicker for you, old man. Where did you get off to? I know that both you and Corvus were not there. I meant to ask you at the first meetings, before Thorgrim arrived with the boats and Belefalas was given to Finn, but things were moving quickly and I had to stage myself and brothers to the proper theatre in the country. Also, I didn’t want anyone to start questioning you about it, should you have been up to something a little more… well, something I would be doing.” They both laughed, though neither of them had the same thing in mind. “I’d like to hear the story, if you don’t mind. The nice thing about the sea is you always have plenty of time for a good pipe and a better story.” Dantrog approached the two veterans talking, and while you would be wary to call him green, he was not present for the events leading up to Reclamation Day.


“Well, I suppose the best place to start the tale is thirteen months ago, with the Siege of Batta.”


“The whirl of catapults is a sound you should hope you never get used to. The high pitched squeal they chortle before unleashing whatever brand of hell you have loaded them with should be unsettling. In this case, they were unleashing a rocky hell on the walls of Batta.” The furthest out point of the Belegaria peninsula, long presumed to be Maegamarth’s stronghold by the crusades. Unable to sustain the hit and run tactics being used against them any longer, the crusades had turned to the offensive, marching out of the Eredhel forest to the south, where they believed the lost artifacts, and who knows what else, was waiting for them. “If you remember, the roads were surprising clean on the way out of the Eredhel; we had fought very hard to get into them, through that Orc army over a river. I remember thinking that between the years of fighting off Orcs on the way to the Crusades, and then fighting Maegamarth’s undead armies while venturing with them, I hadn’t taken a quiet stroll since before he left Hithka.”


“Of course, you’ll recall that this lull was the eye of the storm, the silence framed by death and destruction. The crusade’s shift of stance had been anticipated, and the reason no battles were fought before Batta was they had moved south to reinforce the position. A wise move, given the city is built into a choke point of the Northern and Southern Noram, and is a naturally defensible position.”


“Tell me this ends up being important at some point.” Dantrog said, already bored.


“You won’t know if you don’t listen, Trog. Now let the Major speak, for has fond as he is of his own voice, I will admit that it has been too long since I’ve heard a good story from him.” Eldgrim responded to his apprentice, keeping in mind that this was less about hearing the story and more about keeping Toland’s mind far from the waves and uneasiness filling him on the sea.
“The Orcs had been tainted by the black spell, their skin darker than night, their teeth rotted and their eyes so bloodied you could barely make out their irises. To say they were ferocious is a capital exercise in understatement, they fought with such anger and disregard it is common to see a tainted Orc kill his brethren while fighting their enemies by swinging through. They did this without a qualm, or even noticing in most cases.” Toland looked at Dantrog and saw he was unphased. Eldgrim had told Toland that his most recent apprentice had a habit of killing sharks, so perhaps he was used to ferocious and reckless. “A group of Orcs were trying to take the Crusade’s siege weaponry, which I was charged with defending and operating. In front of me was a contingent of Hithdorian soldiers intermixed with a handful of the Fury. Corvus, although he was known has Reimus at the time, was fighting next to a Hithdorian lieutenant named Darlouthan Corthos, who, since the crusades had begun their retreat into the Eredhel, had acted has a liaison between the Hithdorian leadership and The Fury. The two of them were making quick work of the Orcs that had charged through the main lines and past the archers to the siege line. Only a dozen or so had made it, and most were wounded from their push past the lines. Darlouthan was a fine soldier, a credit to the Hithdorian military.”
“Was a fine soldier? Toland, you already spoiled the damn story.” Dantrog pointed out.


“Trog, if you don’t let the Major finish, we’ll find a new name for you. We’ll call you Scrubber; because that’s all you will do all day.” Eldgrim shot back


“It’s a better name than Caboose.” Dantrog replied, quipping back to his mentor


“Trog, I thought you would have learned by now that a name is only what you make it. Major, if you would be so kind as to continue.”
“Thank you, Admiral. Has I was saying, Darlouthan and Corvus, excuse me, Reimus, were dispatching the enemy in front of them, protecting me and siege weapon crews so that we could continue striking at the walls surrounding Batta. Darlouthan fought with a medium kite shield and a rather long sword, and Reimus was fighting with a medium round shield and a club. Darlouthan was a very flashy fighter, constantly dashing and spinning about. It served him well against the mindless hordes of Orcs and Undead he had grown used to fighting. He was swinging about, dancing around Reimus and throwing thrusts into the Orcs moving forward while Reimus was focused more on pushing them back, to stop them from getting to their destination. Finally there was only a single Orc left, and Reimus took his mace and swung to dispatch him, shouting some inane nonsense, which was common for him before he regained his memory. As he did this, Darlouthan came in from the side, and the Orc juked hard to the right. Reimus’s mace came down and killed the Orc, who then fell on top of Darlouthan. I ran to them, mace in hand, and helped Reimus pull the immensely heavy weight from the top of Darlouthan, who was lying with his belly on the ground.”


“Then he died the end.” Dantrog said, clearly having attention issues.


“I’m sorry Scrubber, what was that?” Eldgrim said, finally making the young man look sheepish.


“We finally got the Orc off of the top of him and then we saw that a piece of the Orc’s armor had jutted into Darlouthan’s back, right into his spine. He was unable to move, even after we picked up and started to carry him off to the medics. Reimus and I moved him to the back, and left him with a Seigh, a medic with the Fury. We were assured that he would not need us if he was going to survive, and she began to suture him back up. Reimus grabbed a few more of the soldiers from the Hithdorian reserves to help defend the siege weapons, and we went back to our task.”


“I know the story from this point. The crusades successfully sieged Batta, and started marching towards Belegar, only to find the elves from Edheliu on the other side of the city when they got there.” Dantrog said, pointing out his knowledge of his mentor’s military history.



---
oi.
9/18/2012, 12:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to Toland   Send PM to Toland
 
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Re: Toland's Tales



“Correct, Sailor. It’s the things leading up to Reclamation Day that explain my absence, though. Darlouthan was the worst kind of lucky – he lived, but couldn’t walk. There is no fate worse for a soldier than to be so grossly injured and not to die doing your chosen profession’s work. Even worse was the chance he had at recovery, the hope that he was given when we should have known better. The Hithdorians would have just sent him home, perhaps that would have been best, but Darlouthan didn’t want to leave. So, instead of sending him back, Seigh took care of him. We dressed him up in some spare clothing of mine and kept him amongst the Fury while she searched for the herbs she needed to try and help him. Belegaria was a wasteland before the Lifetree was planted, and the landscape was twisted.”


“I remember you asking for a traveling partner a few times when you wandered off. It was standard practice at the time, Trog, we were never sure when we would find some company and we were far too deep an enemy territory to travel alone.” Eldgrim explained the situation to Dantrog, who had spent most of his life hunting sharks alone and wasn’t quite sure why anyone who was considered a competent fighter would require an escort.


“Yes, I was looking for things for Seigh. We were in Belegar for about four months before Reclamation Day, and four months is a long time to take to die. Seigh was getting desperate to find something, anything. Eventually the stiffness began to spread, nearly closing his jaw permanently. His food had to be mashed before he could be fed since he could no longer chew. His muscles began to atrophy. This only further steeled my resolve to find something, and I began to ask the other medics for anything they might have. Even Athron made a stop in to try and heal him, but it was no use. Only the slow supply of herbs I had been gathering to help ease his pain made being in the same room has him bearable. We continued our slow march, purging the land of evil and fighting small skirmishes, knowing the main force waited for us in Belegar. His feet turned black. Corvus regained his memory. His hands turned black. Seigh has the best bedside manner of any medic you will ever meet, and I will swear to my dying day it is only the hope that she gave him that kept him going as long as he did. Eventually, it was very clear there was not going to a chance for him to survive. I considered killing him in his sleep, ending his suffering, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Two days outside of Belegar, we found a small oasis of lush growth. I found the herbs that Seigh had been asking for the entire time.”


“I recall the oasis; didn’t someone die from eating a piece of fruit from one of the trees?” Eldgrim said to the collected party


“That is exactly what happened. It was a trap, created by one of Maegamarth’s followers in Belegar. We didn’t know that until it was too late, though. Seigh treated Darlouthan with the herbs, and he began to recover. He was almost able to walk when he got to Belegar. I went to his cart to check on him before the battle began, and he was gone. Seigh had gone to get him water, saying that he was looking better than ever, and when she turned her back, he ran. Corvus was nearby, and he came with me to track him down.”


“So why did he run away? He was better; he could have gone to fight?” Dantrog said, discarding his normal haste and now actually listening to Toland’s story.


“I’ll be there in a minute, Trog. After a few minutes, it was clear he was heading north, possibly to the Noram. There wasn’t much else he could be going to. He was fast, but I am a good tracker and we were faster. We caught up with him about three hours later. By this point, the Battle of Belegar had already begun, and we were far north. Darlouthan stopped and turned, staring right at us, and he began to shout.


“You both did this to me! I would have been fine! I could have healed!”


“You did heal, you are running just fine.” Corvus said to him, knowing madness too well to not recognize it.


“I am not the one running. I feel him pulsing through me. So close.” Darlouthan said, his eyes beginning to water while his face turned into a wicked smile. He lacked a weapon, but charged at us anyway. I took a step to the side and pulled back the string of my bow. I released the shot and watched it fly right into his heart, breaking mine. It was the herbs from the oasis; of course, they had put his body under the control of something in the area. We never did find out where was headed, or what he would have done when he got there, but had Darlouthan overheard anything about tactical plan for Belegar, all could have been lost. Luckily, that never happened, and the battle was over by the time we got back. So Eldgrim, to answer your question, what was I doing on Reclamation Day? I was tying up a loose end, one of many in my life.” The sunrise was hitting the edge of the seas, the one thing Toland truly enjoyed. The skies this morning, however, were blood red.


“That’s not a good sign.” Eldgrim said, pulling out his spyglass and checking the seas. “I see a boat off in the distance. Small, human design. If I didn’t know better I would think Thorgrim built it. Take us closer, Dantrog.”


“What if Thorgrim did build it, Eldgrim?” Toland said to his old friend “What happens then?”

“Then whoever is on that boat better have a damn good explanation of how they came into possession of it.”

---
oi.
9/18/2012, 12:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to Toland   Send PM to Toland
 
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Re: Toland's Tales


Passage Through the Grey

The greying was the first sign. Cross caught it immediately; it stood rather strong against Toland’s stark black hair. Of course, Cross also said something and then passed out from the draining of light energy from his body, and that’s the story everyone heard from Toland. The mirror had dug into him, the mirror which had made all those soldiers lose their minds and wrapped them in a darkness that shrouded their souls.

Cross had made an attempt to heal him, which is something he had never done before, at least not on a mortal wound like that. Then again, Cross was stronger with the light than ever before, the Belegarian Lifetree pouring energy into him. Cross had saved Toland’s life, but that mirror was still inside of him, and now Toland had light energy inside of him. For first time that Cross had heard about, someone who wasn’t a paladin had gained the ability to become one. If there was ever a time where the continent needed more paladins, this was it.

“Tolz, you know I have to train you, right?”

“Train me in what, Cross?”

“To be a Paladin, you have light energy in you now, and the order is a little shorthanded, we need every weapon we can get against Maegamarth.”

“One, we don’t know what happened to me. It could be temporary. Maybe I expend the energy and it’s gone forever.”

“Well, then you should learn to expend the energy and find out.”

“I’m not sure I want to expend the energy, Cross. I’ll be honest, I feel like I’m 20 again.”

“I can’t believe I’M about to tell YOU this, but you have a responsibility to me, the Mourners, and to Belegaria to become a paladin. If you truly want to see this world rid of the undead menace and free of Maegamarth’s will, you will use every tool available to you to see that goal through to its end.”

“You make a convincing argument, friend. I’ve sacrificed my youth once to the cause, why not do it again. Tell me, how do i waste this glorious feeling from my bones?”

“The process is twofold – first you must identify the light in you, and then you kind of push it out.”

“Cross, you realize you sound insane, right?”

“Tolz, you realize I’ve been doing this for years and you’re going to have to take my word for it, right?”

“It is not my day, apparently. How do I identify it, what does the light feel like?”

“The pep you feel. That light is the bubbly feeling that is kind of floating around in you. Do you feel it move around on the inside of you?”

“I wasn’t really paying attention before, but yes, I do feel it moving.”

“That’s it. You need to recognize it as part of you, but at the same time something that is not you.”

“Care to elaborate a bit more?” Toland was starting to feel a bit aggravated at Cross’s way of speaking, hoping for something more direct.

“Recognize it has an energy that is helping you move. Where ever you feel it, try to focus it somewhere else.”

Toland imagined pushing the light around in his body. Placing a hand on his left arm, where he felt the light, he tried to physically move it down his arm. This had no effect except to make Cross giggle at the sight.

“Alright, earth DIDN’T WORK, maybe water will.” Toland instead imagined waves of water inside of him, slowly pushing from his left arm, washing down over and through him. The energy began to respond, moving down to his right leg, which had given Toland issue still from an injury sustained during the Orc Wars all those years ago. The look of relief on Toland’s face told Cross everything he needed to know.

“There you go. Like I said, it is part of you, but it’s not of you. The process is different for everyone, and it usually takes much longer than this to identify the light inside you. I suppose you have an advantage of knowing what it feels like to not have the energy in you. Now, hold the stone, and try to push the energy into it.”

Toland reached into his pocket and grabbed the stone that had been reacting to light energy. It held a glow in his hand, and he imagined water flowing through him, from his leg to the stone. He slowly moved the energy to his hand holding the stone, but the light barely changed.

“This part is hard, Tolz. The energy doesn’t want to leave your body. Remember, it is not of you. It has found a place to live, and it doesn’t want to leave. You have to convince it to leave.”

“You speak as though it has a mind of its own.”

“You’ll understand after you get in a fight, after some practice. The more you move it, the more it can move you. It will place your shield in front of arrows you never knew were coming, it will move your sword to more cleanly dispatch your enemies. Just wait until you make the armor.”

“So, do I have to sit down and have a conversation with it? Do I force it out?”

“It’s not quite so well… defined. All it needs to know is your purpose is true. Think about why you want it to leave, and if it agrees, it will.”

“If it agrees, what if the light doesn’t feel my purpose is within its goals?”

“I know this stuff is hard to put in words, and that I sound crazy. There is a reason I don’t talk about this stuff unless I’m training someone, you can’t really understand it unless you feel it. At least, I can’t describe it vividly enough to make someone who can’t feel it understand it. Think about your goals, think about beating Maegamarth. That should work for you.”

Toland concentrated on defeating the unseen menace of Maegamarth, removing his dark shadow from the land. He imagined a world where the peoples need not worry about their towns being raised by undead armies, where children could grow up without being sent to war before they were fully grown. He thought of Jovian at his side, learning to smith. Suddenly, the stone started to glow bright.

“You are thinking of Jovian, right?” Toland smiled, realizing just how close of friends he and Cross had become. “I figured that would be it, but you had to find it on your own, Major. “

Toland was feeling tired, and the stone stopped glowing brightly. A faint glimmer remained, and when Cross took a step towards Toland, the stone grew back to its normal strength. Cross blinked has he felt a bit sheepish, not has drained as before, but definitely weaker than the previous moment.

“Tolz, I think there is something more going on here than we are realizing.”


---
oi.
9/26/2012, 8:09 pm Link to this post Send Email to Toland   Send PM to Toland
 


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