Thundering Knights: Part One

by Tamalain

Copyright© 2015 by Tamalain

Fantasy Story: Tamalain leaves the Isle of Refuge, only be thrust into a new and deadlier adventure. Will she survive the challenges unchanged that lay ahead? We shall see.

Tags: Paranormal   Violent   Transformation  

After boarding the ship, Tamalain met with the Captain of the good ship The Golden Mane, Captain Marian. Marian was not what Tamalain expected after her previous trip on a human run sea going vessel. Marian was tall, over six feet and heavily muscled from hard labor of working as a sailor. She also had a voice that carried loudly over the wind and noises of a ship under way.

"What can I do for you lady Elf?" asked Captain Marian.

"Will it be alright for me to sleep in the upper crows nest, I had problem with the crew of the Far Journey and that was the only safe place I could find to rest at night."

"I would much rather you slept and stayed below decks, out of the crew's way. Please understand this about my crew; they are not going to bother you in the least. Ask any of the older men why they will stay away from you and you can rest in comfort."

"Just your word is enough for me Captain, and thank you." Tamalain picked up her pack and headed below decks. She asked one of the crew and was directed to the quarters she would have for herself. This ship many times carried passengers, so it had several staterooms set aside if they were not on a pure cargo run. The cabin had a low ceiling, only six feet high with heavy timbers running across the width of the room. It had two short bunks and a night stand with a wash basin on it. She set her pack on the left side bunk, then set down on the right. It was a hard mattress, but not stone hard. She felt she could live with it for the next two weeks at sea.

After sitting and reflecting about her behavior on the Island when she had first arrived, she knew that she had crossed the line that would have gotten her convicted for torture and murder back home. She knew she would have to live with her sins and do better in the future to make up for her bad judgment in several cases. The Necromancer, of whom she had never even learned his name, he had gotten exactly what he deserved as far as she was concerned. She wasn't as sure about the Orc, but he did try to attack her while he was still alive. His being a raised dead the second time didn't count in his case.

A quiet knocking on the door frame snapped her mind back to the present situation. Seeing it was a teenaged boy, she relaxed, "Yes?" she asked.

"Will you be needing anything Ma'am? The Captain sent me to see if you needed anything before we sail," he asked in a quiet but firm voice.

Tamalain thought about this for a few seconds, "Well, you can tell me were I might obtain some drinking water, and what times are the meals served."

"You can find the drinking water in the ships mess, and meals are at sun-up, mid-day and sundown Ma'am."

She looked at him more closely, seeing a hard working young man that had a strong future ahead of him. "Boy, what are your duties on board, if you don't mind my asking."

He seemed startled for a second, as if he had never had a passenger ask that question before. "I am the ships boy, a runner and general helper in most shipboard duties Ma'am. Someday I will be a regular sailor like everybody else on board, except for you of course." He seemed to hesitate for a second then asked, "What is it you do Ma'am, if you don't mind my asking."

Tamalain smiled a faint, sad smile, "I seem to have become a sort of trouble shooter for the gods. Do you have a dragon problem, call Tam's monster killing service, Is the local Necromancer getting you down and disturbing the dead, call for Tamalain, she will explain his errors to him." She frowned then her look turned even sadder. "I guess I do all sorts of things, but never get to do what I always really wanted, to be a Ranger, a guardian of the Fey."

"Well, I guess it could be worse," he said with a silly grin, "you could be shoveling a cesspit instead."

Tamalain smiled at that witty comeback, started giggling brightly, "Your right, that would be a much worse fate, though it still may happen. Thank you young man, I needed the laugh, now which way to the galley?"

"Up one deck and head towards the stern ma'am, you will find it easily enough I think." He then turned and shimmied up the ladder next to the door and vanished.

After a moment, she carefully followed him up the narrow ladder to the second deck. The passages below decks were barely wide enough for a medium sized human man to walk in without having to turn a little to clear his shoulders. She came upon a situation she was not sure of the protocols for. She was face to face with a crewman coming from the other direction. Before she had a chance to worry, he turned and backed to the wall and motioned for her to go by. As she squeezed passed, her rather large breast pressed and rubbed across his chest. His face turned red and he started to apologize.

"Not a problem sailor, I am used to the problems these cause now." She continued towards the stern without further crew encounters and soon found the cabin that served as the galley. She also decided to wrap her breast to keep them under better control for the rest of the voyage. The rubbing across his shirt had felt a little too good.

The cook saw her as she entered the galley and waved her over, "Mid-day meal in about an hour miss," he called out. "Come back a little early and you get the food it at its best and hottest." His eyes roamed up and down her body, never quite reaching the level of her face.

"What are you serving today?" She asked, while attempting to look over the counter to see what might be in the pots, but he blocked her view with a pleasant smile that did not reach his eyes.

"That lady, you will have to wait like everybody else to find out." The smile had vanished.

"Alright then, not a problem, I will fill my water bags and wait in my quarters." She left the galley in a hurry, he was giving her the creeps. She had smelled the meat cooking and it did not smell like something she wanted to risk eating, that and the way he looked at her made her doubt the captain's word on crew behavior. She returned to her cabin and took stock of the supplies she had brought along from Refuge. Just over a weeks worth of rations, two if I go light and stay inactive she thought.

Tamalain knew what her best course of action would be, periods of deep meditation. It had been several years since she had last taken a chance to go deep into her mind and review her skills and spell's. This sailing trip presented the perfect opportunity to do just that. She also needed to look in the deepest recess and make sure a door was still secured. She laid out a small, soft travel blanket on the floor and sat in its center. As she slowed and steadied her breathing as her father had taught her all those years ago, she found her center and allowed herself to sink into that place of peace within ones soul. Next, she slowly and carefully called up the old work bench in her mind where her center of power resided.

On seeing it, she almost lost her mental focus, the workbench was a total disaster of tangled strings and broken hooks. She approached it slowly and studied each piece of the damaged image. She found a number of her abilities had come detached from the mana pool and others were floating around in the pot, not attached to the wall hooks as they belonged. Here she had a task of days, if not weeks to repair and clean up. 'You have gotten worse than sloppy girl, ' she thought. 'This is just plain and simple neglect. Mama and the others would be very disappointed in me for this.'

She felt the first chore would be to repair the image in her mind and memory then install new hooks on the wall for the new abilities. This alone she knew would take many hours to accomplish. Slowly and carefully, she started removing all the strings from the pool and sorted them by type, then set them aside until she had the rest of the repairs completed. She felt her power levels drop as she disconnected them from the pool and her center, but she didn't worry about it, she knew that this would happen before she started.

It took almost half the day by her perspective to fix the wall, removing all the old and damaged hooks, rebuilding the image with the new hooks in place. She spread them out further than they had been and sorted them by ability type this time. The original setup had been rough just to save her life and had not been very orderly in its creation. When she had this done, she pulled out her mana, strength, and speed abilities and reset them. These basic buffs could keep her alive in a fight, once she had those set up, she tied off the rest until later. Before opening eyes, she looked deeper and saw that the door was still secured, keeping the uncontrollable god killing powers locked away.

Slowly, she increased her breathing and started returning to the outside world. She was surprised to find out it was well passed midnight now. She ate a little of her travel rations, drank half a skin of water, then found the nearest head and took care of her bodies needs. On returning to her quarters, she secured the door with the simple wooden latching lock. She then added a few of her own touch's, a nasty blade trap should somebody try to sneak in as she slept.

She awoke many hours later to a sharp knocking on her door. It took her a few seconds to orient herself as to where she was now. "What is it?" she yelled.

She heard the ships boy answer, "It will be noon soon Ma'am, when you didn't show up for last meal and first meal, the captain asked me to check on you."

'Noon' She thought, I must have been more tired than I realized. "I will come out shortly." She answered back, slowly sitting up, stretching her body, cat like to get the circulation moving again.

"Ok Ma'am, sorry I woke you. The captain was worried about you when you didn't show is all."

She heard him run up the ladder and was gone. Pulling out a fresh set of cotton robes and soft shoes, she un-trapped the door, secured the items in her pack, then worked her way up to the top deck. She was greeted by a stiff damp, cold wind hitting her face that sent chills up and down her body. The sky had grown overcast with dense, dark clouds that looked ready to open up any second. She saw the Captain at the helm on the poop deck and waved her to before leaving the top deck for those that belonged their.

She returned to her stateroom long enough to gather her water skins. Then she made her way to the galley, she saw the mid-day meal was being served and the crew seemed to be enjoying the meal. She decided to take a chance on any fruits, vegetables and breads she saw being served, but stayed away from the boiled meat being served. Gathering oranges and carrots, along with several hard rolls, then refilling her water skins from the fresh water barrels. She took one last look around, but didn't see anything that appealed to her, so she returned to her quarters with what she had gathered.

She ate just enough of each item and drank enough to fill her for the day, then relocked and trapped the door. Having reset her minor security measures, she settled down to begin another long period of meditation. She was able to find her center much more quickly this time and returned to the center of her abilities. After a careful examination to be sure nothing had come loose from the previous days work, she started the process of re-linking her magical abilities to the mana pool and herself.

~Gods Debate against the Muse and Fate~

On a distant, neutral plane of meeting, several of the Gods of Norrath met in a quiet met to discuss a coming event that seemed to have dire consequences if not handled carefully.

Tunare: What are you planning on doing Prexus? You know the Arrowmark is off limits to our interference now. Veeshan and that meddler, The Muse made it clear enough don't you think?

Prexus: She may be off limits to us, but the ship she currently rides upon and its crew are not. The Captain of that vessel has not been overly worshipful of me of late, the God of the Sea. Therefore she must pay the mortals penalty. That the Arrowmark is on board is of no consequence as far as I am concerned.

Tunare: How wrong you are on that last part Prexus, but as you say, the Captain there has failed you, so must pay the mortals penalty. Make sure the Arrowmark survives unharmed, do you understand me?

Prexus: Oh yes, very much so, but she is not to reach Qeynos as yet. I and others feel she needs a bit more training out and honing to be an effective tool. She may not be the final tool in this sequence, but she can be useful to us if handled carefully.

Erolise Marr: What are you planning to do Sea God?

Prexus: My faction is in agreement that some time in the Land of Zek will do her some good. Even the Muse will not argue this, it will make for an epic story as far is it is concerned. The Humans and others are slowly losing ground there, so she may be able to shift the tide of battle by weeding out the Senior Orc Commanders.

The rest of the Gods present stared at him in disbelief for a moment, then the shouting started. He allowed it to go on for only a minute then called for order.

Prexus: We have full approval from Veeshan for this, she knows the risk and agrees this needs to happen if the Arrowmark is ever to reach its full potential. This is a long and carefully planned action, set in motion long before she sailed from Butcherblock. She is the only one in the Mortal realm that might have a chance to complete this mission and live, so it is a settled matter. It has been brought to my attention that she needs to be stressed enough for many other aspects of her heritage to begin to manifest.

Tunare: So be it then, just be sure she arrives alive and in one piece at Zek.

Prexus: Oh she will, she will, that you can be sure of. Her challenge will be to work without her tools in the bank. No bank access where she's going, nor is there a working transport bell at present. Zek saw to that at my request.

Prexus snickered at the last and faded from view. The rest of the Gods looked at the empty place in shock, then most of them started laughing.

Tunare: This is a very well planned action, it will force her to grow and adapt even more. I just hope it doesn't force her to grow too much in another way.

Tunare faded away and the rest followed suit, leaving the neutral meeting plane empty once more.

~Storms and Wrecks~

By the time Tamalain had all the different strings sorted and in place how she wanted them, she could feel herself tiring. Slowly rousing herself back to the outer world, she saw that it had grown dark again. She also felt the ship swaying and pitching violently as high waves battered the wooden ship, the groaning of overstressed timbers almost rivaling the howling wind outside. A bright flash outside the porthole, quickly followed by a massive roaring blast of thunder startled her to full wakefulness. Another sound was just barely audible over the wind, it was a banging on her door.

Rapidly climbing to her feet, she moved to the door, yelling to be heard over the noises around her, "What is it?"

A mans voice that she didn't recognize yelled back, "Get the float vest on now lady, and open the door, you may have to get to the life boats in a hurry. This storm is wrecking us fast!"

Dressing in her heavy woolen travel cloths, she shoved all her belongings in her travel pack, then made her way topside, getting battered against the walls are the way there. She hoped to see the captain to find out what she could do to help. Just as she exited the companionway a massive bolt of lightning slammed down and smashing the helm, severing the control lines and killing the captain and the helmsman together as they fought to keep the ship upright. The loss of control caused the ship to turn with the wind as the last sail, the topmost moonraker drove the ship wildly with the wind.

The wind was now moving the ship in a northwesterly direction, away from Antonica now. Tamalain saw most of the crew had loaded in the life boats and were dropping over the side into the surging sea. Before she could join the crew in the nearest boat, a massive wave slammed the port side, tossing the lifeboat and snapping its lines, sinking it in seconds along with the crew. Tamalain knew there was nothing she could do to help the drowning men.

Looking to her own limited safety and a sickening sense of dejavu, she grabbed several small barrels, some loose rope and hoped for the best. She held on as the ship was driving wildly with the storm blown wind, the waves topping the now ruined deck. She quickly went back down the gangway to her cabin and held onto a pillar to keep from being pounded to death by the wildly rocking ship. One wave tipped the ship nearly on its starboard side. She heard a dreadful sound as the wind ripped main mast, snapping it with the sound of an exploding fire ball, making the ship slam upright as the center of gravity suddenly changed. The sudden motion caused Tamalain to lose her grip on the stanchion, flinging her across the cabin to hit her head on the wall. Her last thought before darkness overtook her was, 'Oh no, not again.'

~New Lands~

Tamalain could not be sure how long she had been unconscious, but the wind had stopped and the ship was no longer rocking. In fact, it was not moving at all. The deck was tilted almost half way over on to the port side now, so getting up to the top deck was not as easy as it should have been. The rigging had covered the deck when the mast had snapped, blocking the ways topside. After several tries she was able to force a partially shattered hatch open enough for her to squeeze through onto the deck.

Once on what was left of the wooden deck, she was able to survey the surrounding vista. Climbing out as far as the shattered deck would allow; she saw open sea in one direction, and a shattered, mountainous desert like land in the other. She also saw a rowboat with several people onboard approaching the wreck. Picking up a sodden piece of torn sail cloth she started waving it, hoping to be spotted by these people.

The long boat pulled up to the wreck, the officer in charge yelling to her, "It's a good thing you came up when you did lady, the tide is coming in and the wreck will wash back out and shatter on the reefs." The sailor waved for her to board before things started coming apart under her feet.

Tamalain counted her blessing then asked the question that needed answering. "Would you mind telling me where I am now?" She climbed down a broken spar that was hanging by a few ropes to the longboat as she asked.

"Lady, who ever you are, Welcome to the land of Zek, The Orcish Waste."

~History reborn~

Tamalain looked at the Mariner Guard, a tall, trim woman in disbelief, "Zek? How in the hell did the ship get here from a day out of Refuge?" She turned and looked back at the wrecked ship, wondering how it had held together as long as it had. She thought for another second and felt a faint tickle in the back of her mind. It was a feeling she only had if a Deity was involved and watching over her closely. She turned back to the guard, "Never mind, I know how. Which ever god you are, back off or I open the door and flash you." The feeling quickly faded away as the deity fled to safer planes.

She looked up at the sky, seeing the burning husk of Luclin tracing its flaming, rock strewn path across the sky. Raising her voice as loud as she could, "I have warned you in the past not to interfere with my life anymore. You supposed Gods are slow learners it seems. Once I find out which one of you did this to me, I will make you think what I did to Mistemoore was a lover's tap!" Taking a deep breath, she turned back to the guard and the rower, "Ok, now that that is out of the way, what is the situation here."

The rowers all looked at her in fear. She had just threatened the gods of Norrath with pain and suffering. What was she they were both thinking? The leader, Mariner Jennifer spoke, "We are the dock guard Ma'am. The situation is not good, nor is it secure at present. The Orcs are close over-running us any day now. We are expecting a relief ship any day now, but that storm that wrecked you may have wrecked them as well."

"Well, when we get to shore, I will need to access my bank vault. With the gear I have there, I can help out a bit."

"That is a bit of a problem ma'am, we have never had bank access set up here. The only way was to use the transit bell back to the mainland. Unfortunately, the Deathfist Clan disabled our bell a few months ago in a sneak attack on the bay."

Tamalain looked at her in shock. From her experience, it should be impossible to disable the transit bells once they are set up and bound to the magic. "What did they do, how did they disable your bell? I didn't think it was possible without a major act of magic from an Enchanter."

It was about three months ago, the Orcs hit the fortress on all sides of the fortifications. While everybody was manning the defenses on the walls, they slipped a few swimmers around the cliffs into the harbor. They cut out the clapper and removed two of the location gems. We can't reactivate it without the attuned parts. So far as we can figure, the parts are being held by the emperor in their main keep on the far side of the island."

While the guard was talking, the rowers quickly had them back at the docks and tied off. Tamalain went ashore from the small boat and looked around at her new surroundings. The harbor was fairly small as harbors go, no more than 300 feet across and 200 deep from the break waters to the shore. The docks themselves went from the beach she was near, all the way around to the other side. Along the dock edges were a number of tents and small buildings. Several of the building had signs hanging from them, the nearest being a provisioner.

Off to the side was a cooking area, and she was a bit startled when she saw that the head cook was a tall, skinny troll. Its skin was a dark, mottled green and seemed a tad slimy to her view. It was standing next to a large, smoking cook pot, yelling at a Gnome that had brought in a case of supplies to be used.

She heard this as the cook raised its screeching voice. "This is Black Drake meat you little idiot. You know damned well it is toxic to the rest of us. I need those Steamfont spices if it is to be safe for the rest of us to eat."

"Well I don't have any now as you well know you smelly slime pole. You dumped them in the pot without actually measuring them in. Just five pinches were all that were needed to make it safe, but no, you went dumped in the entire jar!"

"Well you didn't tell me that you little snot, I should drop kick you across the harbor, now take this garbage and leave," screamed the Troll.

Tamalain decided to avoid any of the food that might have come from this source while trapped on Zek. Mariner Jennifer touched her arm and singled for her to follow. As they followed the wooden deck around the small harbor, Tamalain found she could see into each tent and building and hear what was being said by the occupants. One she saw was a Fletcher, which made her feel at least she could re-arm to some extent. She just hoped the proprietor had descent bows and arrows in stock.

Further along she saw a shop with leather armor. She could work with that as well. It was what was going on next to the command tent that made her pause a moment. A Halfling, Dark Elf and an Ogre were standing around and arguing with one of the shop keepers. What was being said she could not make out clearly. Something about the owner owing the Ogre money from a lost bet. Best not get involved there she thought, though the presence of the Dark Elf worried her a bit.

Jennifer waved her into the command building a moment later and the battle docks commander stood the greet her. "Welcome to "The Land of Zek" Miss Arrowmark. I am Captain Fildalgo of the Mariner Guard. Your method of arrival was a bit unusual to say the least. I will have to question you about the crew and what wrecked a deep water vessel so completely."

Tamalain stood for a moment then he singled for her to sit in the chair across from his desk. Once seated, she related the events as she knew them. "We were about a day and a half out from Refuge Island on course for Qeynos when a storm blew up on us. All hands where making for the lifeboats as the ship was foundering badly in the extremely high waves. I had just managed to arrive on the top deck when a massive lightning bolt took out the poop deck, killing the Captain and Helmsman. I returned below decks so as to not be washed overboard, hitting my head hard when a wave nearly tipped the ship on its side. I had just regained consciousness as your crew was ready to board and search for survivors. I don't know how long I was out."

Captain Fildalgo looked hard at her. "Ma'am, you may have been out as long as eight days. The storm blew through about twelve hours before the wreck hit the reefs. It is a twelve day sail from Refuge in fair weather. The storm would have pushed you along faster. I am sorry to hear about the crew though." He looked at Jennifer, "No other survivors?"

"No sir, no bodies either. It looks like they all abandoned ship or were washed overboard."

"That is very odd to say the least. There are usually a few bodies of those trapped below decks to be found." Looking back at Tamalain, "One of the rowers reported that you made a threat against one or more of the Gods for interfering in your life again, is this true?"

Tamalain decided to be a bit more cautious in answering this question, as the wrong answer could cause her even more problems than she already had. "Sir, the Gods have directly and indirectly interfered in my life since before I was born. I am fed up with them moving me around like a chess piece..." She paused, a thought occurring at what she had just voiced. "I see now, oh you foolish girl," slapping her forehead with the palm of her hand.

She looked at the Captain and smiled a very grim and angry smile. "It finally makes sense as to why things are happening as they have been and still are."

"Would you care to explain what you mean by that?"

"I'll try Captain, though it will take some time. I will have to give you some background about my family first."

Captain Fildalgo looked over at Guard Jennifer, "Please fetch some bread and wine please. This debrief seems it could take awhile."

Jennifer snapped to attention and quickly did as ordered. Once the food and drink arrived, Tamalain took a small bite of the bread, then quickly washed it down with a sip of the wine. The bread had an odd, spicy taste that she did not recognize, and the wine was of a very inferior, watery quality.

"It seems I am the current end result of a long planned breeding project by several of the gods. From what I can figure out is they have tried to produce a mortal being capable of controlling, or even destroying the gods if need be. My paternal Grandmother, Tamalain Arrowmark by the way, was the first in the long line to exhibit the first signs of the power. My father was not able to advance the skill due to events that rendered him unable to access his mana without it killing him."

"Wait, he was blocked from his mana," asked Captain Fildalgo. "How is that even possible."

Tamalain stared at the Captain for a moment without really seeing him. Her mind went back to that painful day, when she learned what had been done to Axeman, her father as a child. Shaking her mind back to the present, "There are ways of preventing a person from accessing there inborn powers. Unfortunately, the method used on my father when he was a child damaged the paths in the mind and body that the mana flows on. If he attempted to use his power, he would burn himself. As he aged, his power increased to the point he was nearly killing himself." She stopped again and seemed to become sadder with each passing second.

"How did he control, it then, surely he didn't burn himself alive did he?"

"A friend from my Grandmothers travels had heard about what had been done to him and came to teach him how to control his mana by suppressing it through force will. It is a skill commonly used by monks to focus and build their power for a striking attack. What he was learned able to learn was to tune it all the way down so that he wouldn't have to worry about it from one moment to the next. It eventually became so much of a part of him, it became a sort of anti-buff that stayed on full time."

"Ah, I can sort of seeing that working in a way, but we are wandering far a field here. You were at the point as being a weapon against the gods. Why they would create something that would eventually be used against them is beyond me though."

"Well, I've had a lot of time to think about it. It seems I am not the end point of this breeding program, it is supposed to be my granddaughter that will be the final player, the penultimate if you will, in the blood line. As it stands, I can use the power, but only at a terrible cost to myself and those around me. The one time I used it openly, it almost killed me. I was only a child, but I managed to put Mayong Mistemoore out of the game for almost seven years when he tried to use me as a trap to kill a person. In a way though, he did me a favor really. I had to learn mana control on a scale few others have ever had to learn at a very early age."

"I can imagine how hard that must have been, now the question should be, is there any way you could help us while you are here? We are just as trapped as you are right now. I know you haven't any battle gear, but we can get you outfitted you to a fairly good level with what we have on stock. What is your profession by the way, the brief report the rower gave me didn't say."

Tamalain smiled, her eyes suddenly taking on a green glow and her hair gained its trademark flowing fire red. With a distant, yet powerful voice, "I trained to be a Ranger, Captain. I have powers of types not seen on Feydwer in generations. Speed, strength, agility, and others that will become apparent over time." She backed down the power, feeling it start to build to combat levels, then turned the effects off entirely.

Captain Fildalgo had slid back in his chair to the back of the shack as far as he could go on seeing the eyes and hair, and the sound of her voice. Raw, absolute terror had gripped him at the very core of his soul as she spoke. He realized that fear was one off her hidden powers. "Please madam, don't do that again inside the compound. We have enough problems as is without the troops running in terror from within the walls."

Tamalain looked at him, lost for a second then seemed to grasp what he had said. "I was projecting fear this time? That hasn't happened before. This is new, I could do it a little before, but not with my voice. You mentioned battle gear, I will need a full mixed leather and chain mail suit. The weapon of choice is the rapier and parrying sia combination. I have a special affinity with the longbow and full clothyard shafts. If I shoot, I tend to not miss what I am aiming at."

"I will have the armorer and smiths get to working sizing you today. Um, you will help us survive and escape, won't you?"

"I seem to have little choice in the matter. I was sent here for a reason, what I don't know yet, but I will in time. Yes, I'll help you and the rest of the folks trapped here. What about the post commander, will agree to my helping?"

"Count on it. He is more frightened and tired than I am being trapped out here. He will be more than happy to accept your help."

~Cast Out~

"Are you out of your mind Fildalgo?" said The Post commander in disbelief. "One over boobed woodsy will be of little or no use in our fight, and you damn well know it."

"With all do respect sir, you are very much wrong. She is of a line and power that will make a difference. She will be able to enlist the Greenhoods to help us for once, rather than them coming here and demanding we send troops to them."

"Power you say, yeah, she will knock them out with her looks. Fildalgo, you have finally lost your mind." Commander Stormwrath, a massive Barbarian, tried to look thoughtful, but failed as his face just couldn't pull it off. "Maybe I should order you too personally to take her to the hoods. Those useless Rangers are a drain on us and need to be overrun, along with the rest of the woods."

"Sir, are you out of you mind? They are our scouting force, and intel section. They have the possible locations worked out, but no way to get to them. They just don't have the numbers or fire power needed to reach the locations."

"Fat lot of good they are then. Heavy armor and bigger swords are the answer as I see it, not fancy bows and light movements of forces. You will take her to the last of the Jagged Pines and dump her on them. You are then ordered to return here and keep my docks safe you idiot," he snarled. "If your troops had been on station, the bell would still be working."

"Now wait one damned minute you hirsute beast, we were on the walls at your orders sir. It was your decision that left the docks open to attack from the sea," Fildalgo yelled back. "I will not let you blame my people for your incompetence!"

The massive man face turned a deep, enraged red and Fildalgo could almost see steam starting rise from the barbarians head. "GET OUT YOU PUNY LITTLE HUMAN! Rather than coming back, go throw yourself in the mine hole why don't you!"

Fildalgo quickly fled the office and grabbed Tamalain by the arm pulling her away from the assumed danger. Shaking herself loose, she asked, "What was that all about?"

"I am sorry to say he has a low opinion of women as a whole. He sees them useful in one way only. But now I'm cast out as you are, so I'll take you to the Greenhood Emissary. He'll be able to sneak us through the Orc lines to the forest remnants."

Tamalain had heard the entire argument from the start, and knew she was going to have problems with the Barb. To her, he was no better than the crew of the Far Journey or the Freeporters on Refuge. "He is of no concern to me. If he doesn't see me as useful, then I can work unhindered out in the field. Let's get some gear and move out Captain."

~Re-arming With History~

She kept a close eye on the dark elf as they went from building to building, acquiring a suit of good leather with several steel bands covering critical areas of the body from harm. He was watching her closely as well, observing and memorizing everything he could learn about her before she vanished inland. She found, much to her surprise, a Feysteel Rapier and Sia. These worked as a good weapons pair and she could bring them up to full attack power in less than a second.

For her pack, she decided it would be best that she add a few survival tools to help her survive. They would allow her to make other items should need should she be caught out in the wilds. She had never considered them as important before, but now that she was trapped without access to her normal supplies, she felt it best to be prepared. The five tools she choose were the Hook knife, A sharp belt knife and sheath, a crooked Awl, a small cutting axe, and a folding bow saw. With these, she could whip together a bow should she need one in a hurry. Her carpentry training would be put to the test with these tools

She had also discovered during her internal remodeling of her abilities that she was actually not accessing even a quarter of her power during an attack. Now she could drop a fire or lightning blast a hundred times more powerful than those she used on the sharks.

Her biggest surprise on the shopping trip though came from the Fletchers shop. The bow that one craftsman had in stock drew her eyes and held her attention. It had a makers mark on it that she knew all to well, the crossed arrows over sword and shield. It was a Bow she herself had made many years earlier when she was still learning her craft. The shop owner said he had picked it up several months earlier when the owner, a male Woodelven named William Arrowline had been killed by an Orc ambush in the upper hills.

"Sir, I wish to purchase this bow if I may. I knew the man I made it for when I was eleven years old."

"You say you made this bow?" in disbelief. "Girl, I know this sign and it belongs to a Grandmaster Bowyer from the Greater Feydark. There is no way you can convince me that you as a mere child made this weapon. It is a piece of art if you want the truth. Arrowline bought arrows here often and said the young woman was the best Bowyer he had even encounter after the Greens. He even had a short bow from them."

"I know it is hard to believe, but the crossed arrows over sword and shield is my family sigil." She pulled out a small medallion from her pouch that had made the trip with her and showed it to the man. He studied a closely, then asked her to hold out her hand palm up. He placed the medallion, sign up in the center of her palm, uttered a few words and the medallion glowed. He looked at the Bow and saw the sign on it had a matching glow. With a word, the glow vanished. He didn't say another word after that. He took the bow down from the hook on the wall and handed it to her. He turned and pulled out a large battle quiver with one hundred arrows in it.

Tamalain looked at the fletching and gasped. They were most of the arrows she had supplied Arrowline with all those years ago. They had been part of her final grading and were some of the finest arrows she had ever made and sold. The quiver came from the leather shop from the Upperpass as well. It had the poison ports she had asked the leather worker to install for her. This would have been the second one he made after he had made hers. She looked for a mark in the leather, inside a tool pouch on the left side. She found it and saw that her guess had been correct. It had an Elven rune for two scribed inside it.

Fildalgo had stood mute when he finally realized whom he was really dealing with. The woman was no warrior or normal Ranger. She was a force of Nature even the gods feared. The shop keeper turned and returned with a dagger and a small club that had also been made in her village. Master Arrowline had been totally replacing all his gear on that visit, and he had paid handsomely for all of it.

She seated the weapons were they belonged, placed the quiver on her back, adjusting the straps a few times to get a good fit. She carefully studied the bow for wear and damage. She found none as the shop keeper had kept the wood oiled and the strings sealed in their wax lined box. Setting a string, she made the bow ready to fire. She then walked back to the end of dock to stare at the wreck that had brought her to this sad and strangely wonderful land.

Not looking at him, she asked, "Is there anybody out there Fildalgo?"

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