Chapter 1

The six months following Tamalains magical explosion turned into a period of great gains for the Greenhoods. She and William had proved to be a pair to draw to and follow when scouting and stopping small Orc patrol incursions while on the move. Her natural power, training and combat recon skills along with his leadership training and experience, they made for a force that had rapidly turned into a total nightmare for the Orcs on the Western side of Zek. Aiding the Greenhoods, they had been able to push the Orcs all the way back to the Spirit Lake pass near the center of the sub continent. This reduced the number of Orcs able to attack the Port Fortress enough that the Greenhoods had been able to push the Orcs out of the immediate areas around them.

About a month after the mine pit had been destroyed, word came out that bounties had been placed on Tamalain and Fildalgo's heads, issued by the idiot barbarian, Stormwrath. He had been able to stay in command of the port using gold and threats to keep the less willing in line. The order was to kill them on sight and bring their heads to him for one hundred platinum's reward. The Emissary for the Greenhoods warned him that they would not be allowed to be taken, and if any of the bounty hunters entered the Jagged Pines to hunt them, now considered all the area they controlled, the hunters would be sent back alive, with several fingers removed as a warning to all others that might follow.

During this time period, several ships had managed to barely survive the dangerous trip across the storm tossed straights, but none were in any condition to make any sort of return trip. The storms had broken the keels on two of them, and shattered the main mast and all the rigging on a third. The crews ended up working for Commander Stormwrath, and they only heard his side of the story about Fildalgo and Arrowmark, that along with the rest of the Greenhoods were traitors to the crown and had to be dealt with harshly. Most believed him and did as he ordered for the gold he offered. A few of the crewmen that had sailed with Tamalain on the Far Journey knew better than to believe him. A few days after making landfall, they fled as a group and allowed themselves to be captured by the Greenhoods. Once they convinced the rangers and the town council that they had run from a madman, they soon were able to join the others on patrol to keep the Orcs at Bay. These conditions held, as I said at the start for six months, then all hell broke loose.

Hmmmm? Oh. Who am I you may be asking? I am the one known simply as The Muse, well at least one of them. None of my race are really sure how many of us their really are as we are spread out across all the infinite universes. We have the duty to record all the events and lives we encounter. Most times our books just record events, other times we have to take a hand and write events to ensure the continuation of the reality we are assigned. Me, I have been assigned a total ball buster of a universe. Somewhere, a person had to have dreamed this place up just to punish me. I mean, so I forgot a comma in a sentence once, just freaking once and I get nightmare assignments.

Take the just recently past events involving that redheaded nightmare, Tamalain Arrowmark. I would just love to kick the Marr Twins in their unreal butts for creating her. She is the first mortal I have encountered I can't directly influence in my Book of Lore at all. She causes things to go crazy if I try to directly affect her life in any way at all. Indirect assaults have proven hit or miss as history has shown. The mortal Jordan nearly pulled off my plan, but others interfered and put a stop to him. And even without access to the reality energy, she is still untouchable, so there are things she is yet destined to do that I and mine are not privy too, I smell the hands of that three faced witch Fate in this.

Now where was I, Hmmm, oh yes, the situation lasted for six months then all hell broke loose.

William and Tamalain made it to within five miles of the perimeter, running and dodging like mad to avoid getting pin cushioned by the flights of dozens of arrows falling all around them. "How many did you say Will?" she asked, panting wildly.

"At least," gasping for breath, "five thousand, all heavy foot in full plate from what I saw before you pulled that idiotic stunt." Two more Orcs rose up in their path and they both slowed as they swept their sword blades at them. The Orcs dodged to the side but were unable to get close enough to counter attack due to the speed the pair was moving.

"Where in the hell did they get that many heavy reinforcements Will? We control all the usable coastal landings, as well as the druid rings." Tamalain resisted the urge to look over her shoulder and concentrated on keeping the song going. She knew that looking back would cause them to slow, allowing the Orc forces to gain on them.

"Has to be portals Tam," William gasped, "The druid ring are showing signs of life, but will not link up. They may have found another way of jumping, now shut up and run woman." He could feel his body tiring, even with the assist from Selos, you could still only run so far before having to stop and rest.

Tamalain just nodded, even with her advance combined skills going full out, she wasn't able to avoid all the patrols and traps they had encountered on the way back out of the Orc filled valley. It was the trackers that nearly got them in the end though. The Orcs knew they were there and had allowed them into the third valley, but were not about to let them escape if they could be stopped. "Will, I need to switch to high Selos, get ready to run full out, sprint it!"

"GO!" he yelled.

She started the faster tune, tapping the tune with her blurring fingers on the small drum she carried now as part of her scouting gear and then did the one thing that had proven dangerous for any bard to try except in the direst emergency, she sang the lyrics to her little ditty she had made up on the run with Silor on the Butcherblock run many years earlier. Once she started, the Orcs only saw a blur and the pair vanished from sight, leaving only a small double dust cloud in their wake.

The two Elven scouts were still five miles out when she started singing. They ran those five miles in just under a minute. She cut Selos, switched to the mana tune to keep from running dry on power before they could slow all the way back down or they would tumble out of control and be seriously injured or killed in the resulting crash. When they flashed by the perimeter guard at Spirit Lake, she pulled them down to a complete stop, gasping and holding her head, she fell to her knees and vomited violently as her body started to spasm in cramped agony. William fell to his knees then rolled down onto his side and started whimpering as his legs pulled up so tight from cramps, he couldn't move at all.

Between the muscle tearing heaves, Tamalain tried to call the captain of the guard on duty. The watchmen summoned him and he arrived quickly to hear the latest report on the Orc movements. On seeing them collapsed on the ground, he yelled for the medics to see to them before anything else. Tamalain gasp, "Not. yet. Sir. Orcs, lots and lots of Orcs coming, Five grand at a rough count, heavy foot all, checker board formation and baggage trains. Need to fall back or get smashed by them. Warn the fort too." She then did the smart thing and passed out.

William was able to speak finally as he worked the cramps out of his legs, "She's not kidding Chief, we barely made it out of the fire basket in one piece. I have never seen so many arrows in flight at one time. They knew we were their and had a massive ambush set up for us. We need to fall back now or get royally corn cobbed by morning."

Captain Greylight looked at William then up at the loitering troops, "Pack it in troops, we fall back to the mine valley entrance now. Move it people, MOVE!" He yelled.

The camp exploded like a kicked over ant hill as everybody made preparations to fall back to the more easily defended location. "Sindrin, you're the best long distance runner at high speed we have at the moment, go ahead to main camp headquarters, spread the word hell is coming and we are going to lose all we have gained in a week if we don't prepare. Tell them to send reinforcements soonest, Go boy, go."

Sindrin went in a patter of drum beats. "Get these two on the wagon to travel, I don't know what she did to end up in this condition, but I intend to find out." He knew that with Arrowmark it would be interesting, and most likely very dangerous.

As two guardsmen helped William up to see if his legs had recovered enough to stand, "She used a special form of Selos sir, I didn't know it even existed, it allowed us to cover five miles in under a minute. I never want to do that again though, it hurts to much afterwards." He doubled over as the cramps finally caught up with his stomach and he lost everything he had eaten in a week it seemed to him.

The Bard Dreamsong, an older member of the support staff asked once William had settled down again, "What did she do Will, I know just about every form of that song except maybe the high mythic form."

"She sang words, just the basic song and she added words. We went so fast, the world was a blur, the wind a solid roar, I couldn't catch my breath even. I never want to do that again." He sighed and doubled over and dry heaved a few more times.

Dreamsong looked at him and frowned even more deeply. "The Bards guilds all over Norrath sent word out that we are never to do that, it proved nearly fatal to the pair that did one day some years back. Don't know who, but they did report it and the warnings went out about it."

It was then they heard a grown of pain along with more gagging behind them on the cart, turning they saw Tamalain had woken up partially. "I heard that singer, it was Silor and I, we were on a run from Upper Glenns to the docks in Butcherblock. It nearly killed us before we could stop. Covered quite a few miles, but slept a full day, even in the rain afterwards." Her head fell back to the cart as she had passed back out.

The lookouts reported they could see a large dust cloud approaching as the last wagons rolled out of the now abandoned camp. The lookouts climbed down from their high vantages and ran for their lives.

~Orc Army Command~

The Orcs leaders had advance parties out and had hoped to take the encampment unawares with a lightning fast strike. But with the two scouts that had survived and escaped the ambushes, that plan was out the proverbial window. Force Leader Irontalon ordered a full ahead march at speed, they had to reach the Spirit Lake region before nightfall and gain control of the Druid Rings. He had the stones that would allow him to connect it directly to the West Commons ring. Then his full army would be able to port in and capture the ports, then wipe out those annoying Greenhoods.

He cursed that short sighted idiot of an emperor for wasting so much of the power metals in weapons. If they had had enough to keep the gate open another week, he could have pulled his entire army through. But no, he wanted imbued weapons, like they do any actual good. The loss of the mine had stopped the transport plan in its tracks. Once he had the druid ring he could bring the rest of his forces in, take this land, then kill the idiot and his family and rule Zek himself.

"Move it you sluggards, we have to get there before they can escape! Move it or I will have you all gutted, Move I say!" The Orc army sped up to a fast trot, trying to stay ahead of the General Irontalon's wrath. He watched them move, yet he had the feeling things were about to get ugly, for his troops in particular. Zek was an unknown to him and he was very unhappy about the lack of real maps and intelligence the local Emperor Deathfist had supplied him with. He knew ruling this land would be tough, but he would at least have his troops draw descent maps, with proper notations.

~Druid Ring~

William wondered why Captain Greylight had ordered the company stopped and managed to make his legs work enough to hobble over to the edge of the ring and see what was going on. "Just covering a critical base on a hunch William," said Greylight. "I am pulling the linking gems to render the gate completely dead again. If the Orcs have a targeted linking stone, they could use the ring to bring in more forces, and that is something we do not want him doing." He dug down at the base of one of the standing stones until he found the small cavity where the green gems resided. The multi-colored glow from the stones bespoke of great power. As he removed three of the six stones, breaking the link to the core of the portal network on Luclin, the faint hum of power and the glow of the markings on the stones stopped. They were now just inert rock until the stones could be replaced.

"Now they will be stuck with only what they have, unless they can port in more forces in some other manner." Greylight placed each gem in a separate bag and marked them as to which slot it had been removed from and their orientation in the slots. "Now get back in the wagon Scout, we need to be well away from here before the Orcs arrive."

William hobbled back to the wagon and Tamalain gave him a hand in pulling him back up and in. He smiled at her, thanked her, then chewed her ass out for doing this to them. "What the hell were you thinking, your pulling that stunt nearly got us killed. And while we were down in that valley, we were NOT, and I stress the word NOT to engage the enemy at any time. Is this how you honor your instructors by being so damned brain dead you nearly get everybody here killed?"

Tamalain blanched at the chewing out her husband was giving her for her actions, she tried to put on a brave face and justify her actions, but to little effect. "I recognized the type of tracker Will, they would have seen us and taken us before we would have been able to flee. I had to kill them to give us the seconds we would need to break cover and run."

"Are you sure Tam, are you absolutely sure? If you're right, maybe they could have caught us, but more likely not in my opinion. Your actions guaranteed that they saw us. I don't care how fast you can make us run, or how fast you shoot, the orders stated to avoid all direct contact, period. You will be brought up for disciplinary actions for failure to follow orders my wife. There isn't a damned thing I can do to prevent that as you should know all too well by now. You also know what the punishment is for your failure to follow orders."

Tamalain looked at the dry wood slats of the wagons bed, tears flowing freely. She knew she would be disciplined for her actions, but she knew she was right in what she did, or now as second thoughts crept in, she hoped she had been right. "Will, I haven't told you what all that monster did to me that night, and I may never want too, but understand this husband, I will never allow myself or those with me to be captured by those monsters. If I could have done so that night, I would have erased their kind from all of Norrath in one swipe."

She was shaking now in rage and her eyes had taken on their trademark emerald glow. This was the first time William had seen this happen outside of battle and he felt a stab of fear as her natural powers manifested in her rage. He felt the wave of the fear spell washing over him and those around them. The horses started to panic so he acted as quickly as he could to calm her even though he wanted to run away as fast as he could. He reached out and took her chin in hand to pull her face up to look at him. The hellish glow made his heart and mind gibber in fear, but he pushed it down and pulled her go him. "Tama love, stop it, stop it now," he whispered in her ear. "No Orcs will ever be able to take you while we both live, so calm yourself and stop scaring the living hell out of the horses or you'll get us killed for sure."

She shuddered and took several deep breaths. Her eyes and hair faded back to their normal appearance and the fear faded. The riders and drivers were quickly able to regain control over their spooked animals. "I'm sorry Will, I'm so sorry, I lost control of the rage again. I thought it was buried forever, but even without the full power to back it, it is still dangerous." She wiped her eyes of tears and managed to sit herself upright. Her body felt as if it had once again been pounded and slashed by the Orcs whips. She just hoped she hadn't done any permanent damage to the two of them as she sang them to relative safety.

"Tama my love, the rage is part of who you are. You just have to learn to control it when it rears up, not allow it to control you."

The group leader soon signaled a stop as they had reached the first fallback point. Captain Greylight walked back to check on them, " You two feel up to some trap laying?"

Will smiled at this and sat up. He slid off the cart to his feet and did a few deep knee bends and stretches, then pronounced himself ready to return to duty. Tamalain managed to get to her feet and was able to walk around without screaming in pain. She admitted she couldn't run much yet, but she could move around enough to help set up the ambush traps along the expected path of advance. Greylight assigned them to set up the sling traps along the back trail to the top of the pass leading to the druid rings.

Even as they set up the various traps on and around the gravel road, they kept their ears open for any sign that the Orcs had advance parties checking the roads. The orders though this time where to kill any small party sighted this far ahead of the main force. Fortunately no Orcs showed, only an idiot of a force leader from the port. Being a human warrior type, he had all the awareness of a charging rhino to things around him.

Tamalain kept an eye on him, hoping he would turn around and return to the camp, he didn't though. He just stood watching them as they tied in the trip cords on the off path traps. The brush and trees across the entire pass were now a death trap of assorted methods of destruction. It was hoped they would kill as many Orcs as was possible and slow their advance before they reached the battle line. He didn't leave, instead he started walking up the path to the top of the pass.

In a panic, Tamalain started to move to stop him before it was too late to prevent a bloody death. William yelled for him to stop, not to move a muscle. He did freeze, then looked down and saw what was pressing on his leather covered leg. It was a hair thin trip wire. "If you move at all, your head is gone," whispered Tamalain from behind him. "Do exactly as I say, and we both will get out of this alive." He nodded and otherwise remained frozen in place.

"Now, very slowly, slowly, slide your right foot as I pull on your leg to clear it of the line. Don't try to push or it could release the arms." Again he nodded his head and did as instructed. Carefully, so not to add stress to the wire, she pulled his leg away while holding the wire were it was. William had worked his way around the wall of traps and was able to trace which trap this wire tripped. He pulled a steal pin from a pocket in his tunic and carefully locked the arm down.

"Trap secured Tam, get him out of here please. I'll reset it and get out after you are both gone." With a silent nod, she took the trooper by the arm and slowly guided him out of the death zone. Once they had cleared the trapped area she asked, "Why in the hell did you come up here, there should have been a warning order to not go out of the fall back line."

He looked sheepish and contrite when he answered. "I wanted to see if I could spot the Orc Army miss. I've never seen battle Orcs before."

"I have kid, and given the choice, I would love to avoid that experience again. They can run fast and long, have bad breath and a worse temper. Now return to your post before you're missed kid."

"Yes Ma'am, I'm sorry I nearly wrecked the traps."

"Kid, traps can be reset, heads can't be sewn back on, now scat."

~Interlude~

Now readers, I suspect the words Husband and Wife were a bit of a shock. Yes those two young Elven married. They waited three months while helping secure the expanded borders, then they tied the knot in a lovely late summer ceremony. Han'Mere gave away the bride and Fildalgo acted as best man. They used a human style ceremony since no Elven High priest was present. That really didn't matter to them though, they were fully in love and had gotten tired of waiting, or I should say, Tamalain got over her fear of sex and couldn't wait any longer. Twice that night the guard patrols had to ask that she tone it down a little, other folks were trying to sleep.

But enough of that don't you think. I guess I should bring you up to date on what happened after the really awful council meeting in Kelethin. Once things settled down, it became apparent that nobody was being allowed to leave Feydwer if they wanted to set course for Zek. Veeshan had decided not to let the idiot mortals get in the way of the future for once and ordered Prexus to close the sea lanes to Zek entirely, thus the wrecked ships that limped into port.

Mayong Mistemoore is still out cold. He was not hurt as bad this time around, but magic fire can cripple even a Vampire. Here is the report I liked, Sir Lucan De'Lere, Litch King of Freeport. His magic took a hit and totally wrecked the spell holding him in his old body. He is still stuck in his soul jar, but I give him another six or seven months and he will be back to making the mortals in his city miserable.

What? The mystery man in Loping Plains you say? Oh yes, him. Nope, not saying, not yet at least.

Back to the story.

~Druid Ring~

Irontalon looked at the hole at the base of the main standing stone and fumed. Without those gems, he couldn't open the gate back to the Commonlands. He didn't yell, didn't kill anybody or strike out, he just stood there and fumed. In mid grumble about what should happen to what ever God was messing with his plans, a Troop leader rushed up with more bad news. "Go ahead, spit it out," he said with a slight snarl.

"Sir, several companies pulled too far away east from the path and triggered the undead in the burned woods area. We lost two companies of Infantry and a complete supply train. Another Company upset the Fey in one of the side glades, we still can't locate the bodies. The worst though is just back at the Spirit glade and Spiral lake. Orders had been sent not to disturb the waters, well sir, a small group was sent to get water for cooking, they went to Spiral lake instead of the stream a mile back."

"How many did we lose to the Lake guardians," asked the strangely calm Irontalon.

Ummm, sir, we lost the entire Mess Section and two engineering companies that had set up camp at the glades edge. Their just ... well ... gone sir, no bodies or camps left either for that matter."

"Fully half our forces and a third of the supplies gone before we even have battle one with the Hoods. I should have followed my instincts and ignored the call to battle on this cursed island. Troop leader, assemble the camps away from those danger spots. Leave me be for now."

"There is one other thing sire, advanced scout got hammered at the pass by a massive number of traps on and around the paths. The one survivor says it will take days to clear the valley ahead to make it safe for passage of our forces."

The terrified Troop leader then fled to do as ordered. This was a state he had seen his commander in only one other time. Where five human villages once stood, now only chard timbers and burned skeleton remained in the West Commonlands.

~Greenhoods Main Camp~

Tamalain and William returned to the main encampment after they finished laying in the last of the traps along the expected route of the marching Orcs. A meeting of he senior staff was still in progress so they reported in and went to set up their personal tent for the night. The Chow tent had been set up well to the rear and they took their time making their way to the food. The stops included a few minutes in the brush for a little mutual making out. Tamalain had decided that what had happened to her was not rape, just a brutal and sick way to stab her to death. Now she couldn't seem to get enough time with William thanks to the damned Orcs.

When they returned to the main camp, a runner was coming out to find them. "You are both to report to the Officers command tent, in dress uniform, both of you." He turned and marched off without waiting for an answer. They looked at each other, shrugged and returned to their tent and stripped out of their hunting gear, then donning their heavy dress combat leather and chain suits of matching brown and green. William had adapted his wife's family crest over his own, his was a merchants crest.

When they arrived at the command tent, the guard motioned for them to stand by the side wall and not to move and remain silent. Tamalain knew this wasn't going to be good, William did know what was coming and if he allowed the most likely events to go forward, the war would be lost, every Greenhood dead at her hands, and she with a death warrant on her head for the rest of her life. He prayed to Marr that the command leadership showed restraint with her.

After five minutes of waiting, the back flap was pushed aside and the four battle leaders entered the room, all with scowls on their normally dower faces. Han'Mere followed them out, looking extremely worried and pensive about what was about to happen. He was slowly moving his hands in spell preparation and whispering the words to ready a fast cast should it be needed.

The Human leader of the Rangers, Joshua Lambert glared at her for a moment. He was in his mid fifties and had short, steel grey hair. His uniform was starched to the point of being solid, "Tamalain Arrowmark, Captain in the Feydark Guardians, front and center." She marched across the room and made proper turns to the center of the chamber and stood at attention. She did not know Lambert well as she had not interacted often with the town leadership during her time in the village. The few times she had met with the man, she had felt uncomfortable around him. He felt, the best way she could put it, slimy.

"Now Captain, I have a copy of your orders for the scouting mission here in front of me. The pertinent section concerning to avoid contact with the enemies is quite prominent, in fact it is in capitals about DO NOT come in contact. Did you read that part of your mission plans Captain?"

"Yes sir, but..."

"A simple yes or no will do Captain," he said with a sigh.

"Yes."

When the expected sir did not follow, he glanced up from his notes, only to see two emerald lights staring back at him. A twist of fear stabbed at his guts at the sight of those eyes. "Just like a gorgons eyes," he thought. "Captain, you will cease and desist this instant or it will go harder on you than you can imagine."

Tamalain shook her head and the lights went out of her eyes, as did the fear that she was projecting. The look on her face told him she had not even realized she had done anything. "Now, Miss Arrowmark, shall we try that response once more?"

Everybody else in the tent noted the lack of rank this time and knew it was a sign of his displeasure with her for her failure to show proper respect of rank. She seemed at a loss for a moment then answered, "Yes ... sir," in a strained voice that William and Han'Mere recognized as her fighting to hold her temper in check.

"Very good, now in as few words and leave out the emotional aspects, why did you disobey that order?"

"Sir, we were in dire danger of capture as they were the tracker breed of Orc. I have dealt with them before, if you don't kill them first, they will be able to see you, track you, and catch you."

"On grounds that you think you saw trackers you violated your orders?"

"With all due respect sir, I know that type all to well, I have had..."

"Enough, you disobeyed direct orders of this command, therefore you shall face the standard ten lashes and reduction in rank, and thirty days in the stockade ... ulp."

He suddenly lost the ability to speak as his throat was rapidly being crushed in her fist, "NOBODY LAYS A WHIP ON ME YOU SON OF A BITCH! I WILL KILL YOU FOR THAT!" she screamed.

"Tam! STOP!" William yelled and charged at her to keep her from killing the human ranger."

Han'mere quickly incanted a spell he had ready to cast, he had already started it and only had to say the trigger command. The sleep spell hit Tamalain and her hair flashed into full flame and her eyes exploded into green hellfire. The spell was absorbed and the power was used to increase her fear effects strength. William seeing the failure of the sleeper spell did what he had warned her he would do should she lose control like this.

"Your Parents and Grandmother are not pleased with you young lady, now stop acting like a spoiled brat Tama Arrowmark," William said in a calm and disdainful, no, scornful voice.

She froze, her hair going dark, her eyes fading back to a dull green, and she released the Human, who fell to his knees, gasping for breath. He looked up at her with a look of absolute terror that had nothing to do with her fear cast and scooted himself across the dirt floor to get away from her. When she finally turned and faced her husband, she had tears running down her cheeks.

"I told you Will, never again." She fled the command tent leaving a very disturbed senior command and one very upset Husband.

"Go after her William," said Fildalgo. We warned that idiot this might happen. I'm glad you stepped in though. If she had killed him, she would have been hanged, well at least the court would have tried."

"I have to go, I don't know what she may try to do now," said William. He left the tent and asked one of the guards which way she went.

"She headed back towards the camp tents from the looks of it. She was also accelerating like a tornado," said the guard.

"Thank you," said William and he headed off to hopefully catch her before she did something supremely stupid. A few minutes later at their tent, he found she had already come and gone. Her bedroll and combat pack were missing. That did not bode well he thought. He quickly ran to the armory and found he had just missed her by a few minutes. She had collected her heavy weapons load-out and an extra full quiver of arrows.

"Damn, I think I know what she is planning and she is going to get herself killed, prophesy or no. Did she say anything to you about where she planned to go or what she was doing," he asked the weapons master.

"Umm, just something about a crown and then dealing with that traitor. Nothing else stands out or comes to mind sir."

"Thanks, I need all my travel and battle gear it seems. I have a rampaging runaway wife to deal with." He collected his gear and returned to his tent in time to find the tribunal there waiting for him.

Lambert was with them, "Where did you send her you traitor, where is that murderous bitch, I will have her head for what she tried to do to me." He was in a red faced rage that showed no sign of letting up.

William ignored the insanely mad human and faced his old teacher, Han'Mere. "I think she plans to break into Deathfist citadel and kill the emperor for his crown. Then old Stormy at the port had better be on guard, he's next. Now if you will excuse me, I have to pack and stop her myself."

"You are under arrest Elven," screamed Lambert. "Guards, take him in chains him to the command tent, I will deal with this arrogant prick myself, and send a tracking team to find that insane bitch, kill her and bring me her head. GO!"

The guards looked at Fildalgo who nodded his head in the negative and they remained in place. "What is this, mutiny from my own guards? I will have all of you swinging from ropes for this!" His face had obtained a shade of puce purple none of them had ever seen a living being produce before.

Fildalgo and Han'Mere quickly moved around behind him and proceeded to stun and bind the enraged human. Han'Mere began to speak in a solid yet quiet voice, "Now listen and listen well you arrogant prick, she may be our only hope in stopping this war before it goes too far. I know her and her abilities, I was one of her teachers you stupid human." He grabbed the now cowering man by the face and pulled him over and down to look him in the eyes. "Point number one, they will not be able to track her, she has been trained by the best and sneakiest bastards the school ever had, on top of her recent gain of the thieves skill sets, she will be un-locatable."

"Release me you pointy eared animal," He shouted at Han'mere.

Han'Mere ignored the raging human's continuing outburst of rage. "Point number two, should any of your troops get lucky and come upon her, they will die before the first can even draw a sword. She has natural speed and agility not seen in generations, and she has gotten even faster since she was my student. She also has a control of her Mana and abilities that puts me to shame, and I am considered one of the best in my race." He released Lambert and looked at William, "Go with the god's son, take care of her, you must keep her alive, our future world depends on it."

William had finished suiting up and packing his heavy pack with some of the personal items Tamalain had left behind. He exited the large tent and told the guards to forget trying to track either of them. He engaged his fastest Sow form as a wolf and took off, following his wife's still lingering scent in the dust.

East of the Greenhoods village the hills turn into high, jagged peaks and sharp defiles. Tamalain was staying to the low points as much as she could to avoid being seen, but as night began to fall, she knew she had to move to the high ground to set up camp. She chose a ridge that gave a clear view of her back trail so she would know if anybody was following her yet.

She had found a number of small rivulets along the way, so she had plenty of water to do what she needed to do if she was to avoid being tracked by her scent by the Orcs. Stripping down, she carefully washed herself completely and rinsed off from the stream below her campsite. As she dried herself off, she stopped and looked at her reflection in a small calm pool. What she saw still made her feel like she was not up to her old standards. She knew this was not really the case, she just couldn't go flat out now like she did as a flat chest child. Her breast where just to damned big to run, duck, dodge and spin as she could as a child. Even when she wrapped and bound them, they were still in the way as they would swing and bounce about.

Sadly she knew that was part of the price she paid as part of her father's family line. From what she could learn, every female going back twenty generations at least were as big, and some bigger than her in the boob department. Then again, William wasn't complaining, in fact he rather liked them. She dreaded though what would happen to them once she was with child. When she finished drying off, she returned to her campsite only to find a very large grey wolf sitting by her tent, panting and sort of giving her a wolfish grin.

She gave an exasperated sigh, and addressed the wolf, "William, cut that out right now." The wolf stood on its hind legs and rapidly transformed back into her husband with the cancellation of the Sow spell. Even before the transformation was complete, she had thrown herself into his arms, crying harder than at any other time in her life.

"Will, I screwed up, bad, I know I did, but the mere thought of having a whip used on me sets me into a complete and uncontrollable rage," she sobbed into his shoulder.

He stroked her hair and held her, gently rocking her as her tears ran their course. Once her sobbing had subsided he spoke, "We both have death marks on us Tama my love, that human, Lambert has gone insane. You have knack for doing that to folks, you need to stop doing that."

"Both of us, what did you do to earn it Will?"

"I refused to follow his orders and Han'Mere almost broke his neck to get the point across that it is unwise to attack you. The guard has also refused to come after us. Now my dear and insane huntress, what are you planning." He moved to the tent and sat by the small fire pit she had prepared earlier and lit the tender and sticks.

'Insane is right, I am going to kill my way into Deathfist Citadel and take that bastards crown with the stones we need to escape this hell hole of a land. Then I will return to the Port, kill that traitor, get the bell fixed and get the hell out of here."

William gave a grim yet happy smile, "Sounds like a plan, I like it, lets make it happen my dear."

"But first my dear lady, we will not be setting off in the morning." She looked at him askance at this statement. "Fear not, I will be giving you a little bit more advanced skill training you are lacking in. You need the wolf form of Sow if we are to sneak into the heart of the Orcs domain."

"Will, I have tried to learn that spell, but I haven't been able to get it to work at all. Han'Mere says it has to do with the way I think."

"Ok then, when you cast your best Sow, how do you envision the spell."

"I just imagine what it is what I want to happen, and it does. That may be an effect of the reality energy I had in me before. Now I need to learn the abilities the hard way."

William rummaged around in his pack for a minute and pulled out a small book. The dark leather bindings were a faded light green and it had the symbol of the Trueshot on it. He went to a page towards the back of the book and showed her the spell in symbolic form as he had written it while learning it himself. "We will need to find you a book fairly soon I think, You need to relearn all your abilities, even the off class ones." He looked at her and smiled, "Can you read music at all." She frowned with a negative head shake. "To learn Bard songs, you will need that as well. You may end up back in school to learn everything they failed to teach you before." He laughed at her crestfallen expression. " My dear, you will do fine. In fact, you will be able to learn much faster than those kids, you already know how to learn, they don't."

Tamalain looked at this written form and suddenly realized exactly how strange she must have truly seemed to her fellow classmates. They had had to study the books and lessons repeatedly to learn even the simplest magical skills. She had merely to imagine the results of what she had wanted to happen and it did, sadly that was no longer the case. She had to learn how to cast a spell, even those she was good at took greater effort in imagining what she wanted.

Each spell grouping had a basic set of symbols. Spirit of Wolf started with a pair of running legs over the symbol for wind. True it was a simple stick figuring, but it gave the caster a point to start learning from. The next part was a series of slash marks on one leg, each mark representing a level of power for the spell, ie: four slash's meant the fastest version she had mastered. The level she needed had five slashes and additional parts to learn. Now she needed to add the glyph showing how much mana it would take to cast. Then a glyph of the outline of a wolfs head, then a transformation glyph. This one was simple to learn, but complex in execution. A circle with an arrow pointing of to the side meeting a square.

What came next was the most important part of the spell for the caster. An eye in a box, this made sure the caster maintained their intellect while in the transformed state. Next came a strange twisted pair of glyphs. These created a phase shift that shifted clothing and gear out of reality, yet kept them linked to the caster. The phase shift would cancel with the rest of the spell, returning all the items to the caster, in place and intact. The last glyph set a time limit on the spell, so it would expire, returning the caster to their natural state, it also tied in several assumed safeties to keep the caster from being killed by an out of control run, as had happened with the cursed wolf totems.

This is what she had never had to learn as a child thanks to the curse laid upon her that horrible day at school. As she studied the glyphs and symbols, they rapidly began to build a working image in her mind, she quickly looked in her mind at the workbench and saw the new string on the table. This one was of the same color as the other lesser forms of Sow, but it had several other colors woven in its fabric. It was also thicker and heavier, more finely woven than the others. She gathered it in, placed it on a hook on the wall, then with Will standing by to help her recover herself should the spell happen to misfire, she cast the Wolf Transformation SOW.

She felt a weird twisting sensation as her body underwent a radical change in form. Her legs and arms shortened and the way they flexed began to change. As this happened, she bent forwards and her hands changed into clawed paws. She felt it as her nose grew in length and her teeth became fangs in a much longer and wider mouth. Her ears moved up and forwards on her head and her balance suddenly no longer seemed to work. She fell to her belly for the remainder of the transformation. She felt her clothing disappear into phase space all the while feeling the fur rapidly form across her body. Her sight changed from its normal brightly colored view taking on a much more muted and nearly colorless appearance. Her point of view changed as well as she had lost two thirds of her height in the change. Her hearing became sharper and she could make out individual types of animal sounds in the now loud breeze.

It was her sudden sense of smell though that shocked her the most. The world was alive with scents she never dreamed could have existed before. She felt the urges of the wolf telling her to go off and chase down what she could smell, but her elven mind and self held on and stayed at the camp. She did stand, but found that four legs had to be handled differently than two.

William could tell by the trouble the medium sized reddish brown furred wolf was having standing that his wife had control and was learning to deal with this new body. He had had the same problems at first as well, but after a few hours practice, he had the form mastered and was able to use it to good effect. He had even gotten pretty good at tracking by scent as well. He stroked her head and back, "Your doing fine Tam, just take it slowly and you will be able to walk and run in no time at all."

The female wolf turned her head and whined a little, then seemed startled, "Nope, can't talk either, just hang in there a few more minutes love. Practice walking around a bit more then transform back, Though I must say you are one lovely bitch now." He heard her give off a low rumbling growl that told him he was looking to get something bitten if he called her that again, so dropped the matter.

Tamalain had always been able to learn new skills very quickly throughout her life. Yet in all her thirty eight year this was a new situation. She felt like an infant learning how to stand and walk all over again. She managed to get all four feet in place then started trying to walk around Williams legs. She rubbed her fur against his legs and she had a sudden surge in her body that a caused her to back away from him. She sniffed at him and a whimper escaped her canine mouth. "No, not now she thought, please Tunare, not now. If we are both in wolf form we will not be able to resist my being in season. Thinking about the timing, she realized that it had been six months since her body had been rebuilt after being destroyed by the Orcs.

She loped back to her husband, lifted her fore legs and body, putting her paws on his shoulders, she then canceled the spell. She felt the wrenching, twisting feeling as her body returned to its true form. The shock though of losing the wolf senses made her feel deaf and unable to smell anything for a few seconds. The feeling quickly passed and she looked her smiling husband in the eyes, "I need you right now husband, get those clothes off right now. A bitch huh? I'll show a real bitch, strip."

He had never seen her like this before and started to wonder if she had fully remained herself while a wolf. She was acting like a wolf in heat ... Oh bear crap he thought, she has entered her breeding cycle, and the wolf form set her off. He suddenly smiled as he realized what sort of night he was in for, and being away from town and camp meant, oh boy, "I hope I live till morning," he thought. He pulled his top off as he entered their small tent seeing she was waiting.

That night a strange howling call was heard across the mountains. Most folks closed their shutters and drew curtains thinking animals must be prowling about the towns and villages of Zek. In the distant military camp, a human and a High Elven looked up and chuckled, she should be feeling better in the morning they both thought and returned to the command post to stand their turn at watch.

The next several days opened new worlds for Tamalain to explore. She and William traveled across the mountains and valleys of northern Zek, exploring and learning together as they traveled. He was able to teach her how to survive as a wolf and that was a new life that she quickly fell in love with. The world was a place of wonders that she had never dreamed possible. Each night a time of bliss that she knew she would have to deal with in eighteen months. She hadn't told William yet, but she knew for sure she was now with child. She was now motivated as she had never been before to get out of this land of hell.

She did have one thing that had her wondering about herself happen, she had started dreaming strange dreams. Dreams of places and times, people, things and objects that defied her imagination. Ships that moved below the sea, in the sky, even between worlds. Battles fought with metal and light, swords and magic. Boxes that moved on roads but without horses to draw them. All these flashed and flowed in her mind, only to fade into mist when she woke. At least that was the case until one night...

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Story tagged with:
High Fantasy / Fan Fiction /