The Ocean of Tears was calm and the winds steady for the journey across the large expanse of deep water. The ships Captain knew he was lucky on this trip as normally they would have had to ride out at least one heavy storm. He looked at the passenger that stayed on the deck, under the sun as much as she could. He knew it was unusual for one of the wood elven race to prefer the open rather than the cover of the wood. He did not object to her presence so long as she stayed out of the way of the crew. He was relieved knowing that he only had a few more days before they would arrive at Butcherblock Bay.
Young Tamalain Arrowmark of the Arrowmark Clan stood quietly in the bowsprit of the Far Sea’s Trader Ship The Golden Lion, looking out over the open and seemingly endless expanse of water of the Ocean of Tears. She wanted so badly to see land again, but had been told she still had at least two more days before the Butcherblock Bay would be in sight. She still could not understand why her Grandmother, over her mothers objections had insisted on her not using any of the magical means of travel. She was twelve, yes, she had been accepted in the Trueshot Academy for the Ranger school, true, but she didn’t understand why she had to go the slow way.
First Grandam Tamalain had escorted her to Coldwind Point personally and put her on the ship to make sure she didn’t cheat, and also to give her a few more pointers on her travels ahead. She would have to travel the long road, a little over three hundred miles from the docks to the new Upper Pass road into the Greater Feydark. Then walking all the way, she would arrive after a one hundred mile journey to the capital of the Woodelven people. Her Grandmother Tamalain had explained that she needed to see the world around her, learn about the people, the land, the life in order to understand what she was to do sometime in her future. Tamalain knew she had a destiny ahead that was long planned and foretold, but what it was to be, nobody could say with any certainty.
She had been working out and was well muscled, she could shoot almost as close as her Mother, Willow and Grandmother Tamalain, track, sense and understand the animals around her. She just didn’t see the need to travel this slow and long road.
She thought back to a talk her Grandmother had had with her several months earlier, “Tama, you are special, long foretold in fact. I almost died because there were, and still are those that oppose what you are destined to do. No Little one, I don’t know what it is you are to do, but it will save Norrath from a fate that was foretold many ages ago.” Tamalain sat back, easing her sore back and knees, “Tama, you look just as I did at your age. The fire red waving hair, the flashing emerald green eyes, the tight an trim body, and the temper to match when aroused.”
Little Tama frowned but was stopped from speaking by a raised finger. “You have several advantages though. You didn’t have Mistemoore and the Thornbreaks messing with your life when a small child. You have only just begun to gain your abilities so you are old enough and strong enough to handle them.” She went on to explain about the events starting with the death of her own Grandmother Tamalain and stopped at the killing of Thadius Thornbreak. “I did not have an easy life thanks to what happened after that child. Mistemoore managed to screw me up in a way that even he did not see until much later, and he paid the price in pain several times for interfering in my life as he did.”
“Grandmother, if he interfered so much, how did you survive,” asked the girl.
With a smile that tended to send most folks running for their lives, Tamalain explained about the intruder that had gotten stuck in her mind, how it had enhanced her powers, and the evil creature from another plane of existence that was also embedded deep in her soul and what it had tried to do to her in the end and what she had done to end the threat it represented. “I will have to pay for that sometime I am sure, maybe in another lifetime once I am done here.” She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and waited for the pain to pass. “Since William died almost a century ago, I have been waiting for death to take me as well little one. But I am destined to see you off to your new life before I pass on.” She sighed and winced as her back sent another warning jolt of pain up her spine. “I am old girl, so old, even by our races standards. I know I will not last much longer, but I will see you off to school and then return here to the Archer Wood to wait and join my beloved William in the next realm. You will travel the lands and sea’s, meet and learn about the people and life around you before you enter school and get turned into the good little Ranger I never was.”
“You where a great Ranger Grandma, I am sure of it from the tales I have heard about what you did.”
With a sad chuckle, “I never finished school girl, I never had the chance to finish. Between what had been done, the destruction of Luclin, the betrayal of Jor’dan, I never had a chance. No girl, I was never a true Ranger.”
“Then I will do it for you Grandmother, I will be the Ranger you never had a chance to be.”
“You do that girl, you do that. Now leave me, I need to sleep a bit.”
Young Tamalain continued to look out over the sea and allowed her senses to roam, to feel the water below, the air around, the sky above. She could feel the fish and the Mer folk swimming nearby, the sea birds that foretold land fall soon, and the heat of the sun beating down, and the faint tingle she always felt when the ruined pile of rock of Luclin was directly above her in the sky. This last she did not tell her teachers or her family, she felt that it would lead to greater trouble if others knew she could reach out to the power of that world. She couldn’t use it, at least not yet, but she felt that it would one day be important and she would need it to do a job that was hers alone.
She was snapped out of her revere by a sudden shout from above by the over watch, “Sail Ho, four points off the port bow,” the sailor called.
The mate yelled back, “Markings?”
“To far yet, just on the horizon still.”
“Watch it and call out if it is coming at us.”
“Aye sir, watch and report.”
Another sailor came to the bow and confronted the girl, “Miss, you will need to clear the deck soon in case of trouble.” Rather than argue, Tamalain nodded and waited for the sails to clear the horizon at deck level. After an hour, she was able to make out a faint marking on the horizon line. The sun was behind her so there wasn’t the normal glare to blind her sight. She reached out to one of the gulls that had been pacing the ship for several hours and asked it what the other ship was. It squawked once and flew off towards the vessel ahead of them. Fifteen minutes later it returned and started making a racket. She understood an thanked it by tossing part of a ships bisque to it. She left the bow and made her way to the helm deck and asked the first mate for a moment to speak, “Be quick girl, we are almost in range to see what it is.”
“The gull told me it is from Freeport and has been taking merchant ships in recent weeks. That is why the gulls are out here, to pick over the bodies from the pirates kills.” She finished and turned to leave the deck, to collect her gear and ready herself for the fight to come. But before she had taken two steps, a large hand grabbed her by the arm, stopping her. The mate spun her around, “Are you sure of that girl, are the birds to be trusted?”
“These gulls are sure, they hope for a big fight so that they have a big feed afterwards.” He let her go and called to the captain who had just come back on deck for an update. He was briefed on what the girl had learned and the captain stood still and waited. After a moment of looking at the approaching vessel, he called, “All hands to battle stations, prepare to repel borders There was a mad scramble on deck as the crew was quickly armed with pikes, spikes and short swords from the weapons locker on the after deck. One of the other passengers was called up to the deck and told what was happening. He nodded and quickly returned below decks. A few minutes later when he returned to the top deck, he was in a dark brown robe, holding a long heavy wooden staff with a large red gemstone in the end cap.
“They are still out of range Captain, but give it fifteen more minutes at this closing rate and I will be able to go to work on them.”
“Maybe longer, Wizard, we have to come about on the tack and it will give us a little more time once we do.” The Wizard reached out with his mind t feel the other ship, he felt the other ship and cursed loudly, “They have at least four high casters aboard sir, one is a Necromancer by the feel of it.”
Without even blinking at that news, “All hands, be ready to repel undead!” The crew quickly returned to the weapons locker and was given each several vials of fluid. These would break the spell keeping the undead moving if splashed on them. They hoped this measure would not be needed, but better to be prepared and not need it, than need it and not be prepared.
As all this was happening, Tamalain had returned to her cabin and opened her travel pack. First she pulled out a battle harness that would allow her to carry her combat gear. Next, she pulled out her personal bow and checked it over, strung it and set it on hooks on her belt harness. She added a small quiver at her left side waist, then a pair of large daggers, one on each side. These had belonged to her Grandmother and had enchantments that made them very deadly when properly handled. She considered what else to add for a moment, then pulled out a small sealed box from the bottom of the bag. Her Grandmother hated this thing and would not touch it. Her mother told her about B’rill and why she was to have it. This thing scared her almost to a panic eery time she handled the box. It had not been happy that B’rill had found a way to pass it along before he had died. But he had and had bound it to the infant girl the day she was born. “Willow, your mother may kill me for this, but this girl will need it to help her someday. It will be hers and hers alone once she is old enough and the need great enough for her to call upon the power to wield it.
“Tama, I have to give you this now. B’rill bound it to you then sealed it away to keep you and it safe from each other. Only bring it out in a time of great need and be ready to master it.” The box had the engraved image of a rampant dragon on it, and was sealed with a line of poured lead.
“Only you can break the seal Tama, I suggest you do it now so not to be in trouble when the time comes that you truly need it. I pray that you never will need it.” Tama touched the strip of lead and it fell away from the box. She opened the lid and the object within seemed to call to her. Rather than take it then, she closed the lid and without another word, placed it in the bottom of her travel pack.
Tamalain set the box on the bunk and opened the lid. Inside was the dreaded and feared Dragon Spine whip. It was made from parts of the Dracota Lord her Grandmother had defeated in battle but kept secret from her. The story of the rest of the armor was a thing that made nightmares seem peaceful. She reached down and grasped the handle, ready for a mental battle, instead she got this. “It is about time girl, do you know how lonely it is sealed away in that box. B’rill and that paranoid bitch kept me sealed away, for your supposed safety. I tell you girl, I would have been your best friend and ultimate guardian. But no, they had to keep me locked away, alone and empty for twelve damned years!”
Tamalain smiled, “Hush, We need to get to know each other better, but their is trouble coming soon, pirates it seems.” She carefully placed the whip on the left hip strap and secured it so it would not come loose. “Now stay silent and no fear effects while on ship.” It remained so as she returned to the deck. The crew was ready and the caster was warming up for the battle of his life. She spotted the captain and asked if she could move up to the upper crows nest for shooting. “No girl, I would rather you not be on deck at all. Try back up front and stay out of the way once the fighting begins.” She nodded and moved through the crew that had gathered on the deck to take her place for the fight.
Once she had returned to the bow of the ship and looked at the range, still to far to cast, but not to far for her longbow. She had not been taught any of the battle skills yet so she was limited to just normal mortal shooting. Setting herself so she would be as stable as possible on the rocking vessel, she looked out at the other ship as it approached front along and across the wind, she could see its crew lined up and ready to storm and board once in range. Setting her first arrow, she carefully aimed and timed the shot for the motion of both ships. The arrow flew out across the water and took the helmsman in the left arm, causing him to lose control of the wheel which quickly spun over, causing the ship to turn away, falling off from the wind. She lined up another shot, this time aiming for a man in black robes. A slight swell lifted the other ship and the arrow slammed into the rail right in front of the man. He jumped back in fear and she let another arrow fly, this time catching the robed figure in the chest, dropping him to the deck.
Her next arrow hit the wheel, causing another crewman to jump back, letting the wheel spin freely. She knew that this would not be effective for long, so she looked around and smiled at what she spotted tied to the rail nearby. A bucket of pitch, secured to the rail to her right that was used to waterproof the ropes, lines and decking. She also saw strips of cloth used to spread the heated tar along the ropes and had an idea on how to stop the other ship completely. She grabbed up the cloth, tore several smaller strips from it and started wrapping four arrow heads in the pitch saturated material. Not seeing any way to light her arrows, she yelled to the Wizard to help her with the fire portion of her plan.
He saw what she had in mind and quickly pointed a finger at the first arrow she had set and ready to fire. In seconds the cloth ignited and was at once fully engulfed, she let it fly while aiming high into the other ships sails and rigging. The arrow punched into the main square sail on the main mast igniting the sail in seconds. The fire quickly spread, burning the pitched cloth in seconds, the fire spreading, racing up and down the lines, spreading the fire to the other sails and the mast itself. The crew, in a sudden panic turned as one and went to work to put out the fire to save the rigging holding mast in place. If they failed, the mast could tip and spill the ship, sinking it. They failed as the fire raced up and down the pitch soaked ropes, making the ship seem to be composed of flames. When the lines parted and snapped on the port side, the mast was pulled over by the tension of the remaining ropes on the other side. It ripped a large section of deck with it when it went over, quickly falling over the side. This made the ship heel over sharply for several seconds, then as the long mast tore away, the ship snapped back to the upright position, staying afloat.
Tamalain fired a second and third fire arrow at the helm area and the fire quickly spread along the deck. The pitch saturated ropes, lines, stays and decking burned, unstoppable by any normal means. The casters quickly started working to put out the fire, but could only slow it, not stop it. The Captain of the Lion ordered the helm to come about and get clear of the blazing ship so as to not be set afire as well. Once well clear of the other ship, he had the helmsman set course for Butcherblock and had every sail put on the ship could stand while tacking. The Gulls, as expected ate well that evening, as did the sharks when the fire burned the ship to the waterline.
Tamalain quickly returned to her cabin to put away all the combat gear after cleaning it, including the whip. It grumbled about not having a chance to kill any pirates. “Oh hush, you will have your chance someday to do what you were made to do, but not now.” “I know mistress, I just don’t want to be locked away in that box again. Just put me in your pack and I will be able to stay in touch with your mind.” Tamalain thought about that, then rejected it as an option. The whip, even when not active caused unease in those around it. “No, It will be better for all if you can’t cause mischief while not in use. So in the box you go for now.” She set the handle back in the slots made just for it, then carefully coiled the rest of the whip on top of it.
Before she closed the lid it spoke again, “Had you asked, I would have charged your arrows with flame strike. You could have blown a hole in the side of the ship and sunk it with one shot.”
This revelation stopped her, “Really now. Maybe you could, but it is better I learn the skills for myself. My Grandmother told me to wait until I am taught to use my abilities for my own safety.” She didn’t add that she was constantly having to push the power down to keep it from overwhelming her. The lessons her mother and grandmother had given her on control had proven to be a lifesaver. At least she thought to herself, “Nobody has handed me a cursed totem.”
Once the lid was closed, she heaved a sigh of relief. That weapon was deadly and it scared her. She was young yet, not trained in how to handle power yet. She couldn’t even access her own mana pool yet in a controllable manner. She returned to the top deck and the Captain called her to the helm deck.
“That girl was fantastic work. I didn’t learn your name when you came on board, what is it so I can write up the log entry and give credit where credit is due.” Tamalain blushed at the praise and told him. “ I am Tamalain Arrowmark, Daughter of Willow and Algren. Granddaughter of The Arrowmark, Tamalian Arrowmark.” The Captain looked at her, mouth open, no sound coming out. She reached up and snapped his chin up, closing his mouth.
“The Arrowmark? Her, the terror?”
Tamalain smiled at that, “Yes, her, the one and only. Me, I am on my way to school to become a Ranger.” He snapped out of his terror and asked her how she was traveling once they arrived in Butcherblock Bay. “I am to take the road to the Feydark, the long road to be exact.”
“Well girl, if you take after her, you’ll be safe no matter what happens along the way.”
Tamalain remain silent and waited to be released to return to her cabin to rest. The excitement took a lot out of her and she just wanted to sleep a little before the evening meal. “Sir, if you would, I need to clean my gear again and rest a little.”
“By all means child, by all means.” She returned below decks and ran into the Wizard on the way to her cabin. He was a Woodelven as she was, but a little taller and much older, well into his second century. “Girl that was a well planned action out there, I’m glad I was able to help.”
“I should be thanking you sir, I didn’t have clue as to what to do until I saw the pitch bucket. Once I had that in my head, I didn’t have any way to light the damned arrow.”
“Well you did the right thing calling me over to help with that. By the way, what is your name child. We both seem to have hidden in our respective cabins the entire trip.”
“I’m Tamalain, and you are?”
“Fire Oak. My Mother called me that as I was a pyromaniac as a child. My father was less than happy I didn’t follow in his trade as a bard. Tamalain, that name sounds like a Ranger my parents used tell me stories about as a child.”
“Well, my Grandmother was rather infamous in her day.” She smiled and her eyes seemed to flash and glow a little. “I fact she was a nightmare for many folks.”
“Well my parents, Silor and Winter may have known her then. My father just wanted to avoid her at all cost. I remember meeting her once in Willow Wood at the market. She had a boy and two girls with her, The oldest was about twenty years older than me then.” As they talked, they arrived at Tamalain cabin.
“Really? You did meet them then. My mother was her fifth daughter, so she may not have been born yet then.
“This does make for an interesting meeting then child. How is it you are so young though.”
“My mother married late in life, at almost a century and a half. I am her only child as she couldn’t bear any more children after I was born.”
“That is a shame. I had half a dozen siblings and all of them drove me nuts as I was the eldest of the bunch. Mother was ready to kill father after number seven was born. She cast some sort of spell and she couldn’t get with child after that.” He frowned at the memory of the aftermath of that event. “Silor was very upset with her about that. She on the other hand wanted to never have to carry another child for as long as she lived.”
“I can imagine, after seven, that would be more than I would ever want. Now I need to return some items to their place and then get some dinner.”
The remainder of the trip went without incident and she soon was looking at Butcherblock Bay. The harbor was busy with dozens of massive cargo ships being towed in and out of the port areas. As she stepped on shore, she felt a sudden stab of pain in her head a heard what sounded like the crying of many voices. It was a sad keening sound that sent chills of fear up and down her spine. After a moment it stopped and she was her normal self once more. She looked around to see if there was something in sight that could have caused the event, but she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Large cranes moved cargo to and from ships non-stop, all day and night, every day of the week without pause. The ship was pulled into her slip and the passengers all disembarked before the cargo had started to be unloaded. She decided that she was not in a hurry so walked around the massive busy port city, watching the men, dwarves, elven, and gnomes as they went about their business.
It was when she neared the edge of town that she noticed a large crowd had gathered on the beach. The city guard had moved in and cordoned off a large area. In the water, Mer folk were yelling at the guards about something but she couldn’t make it out over the noise of the crowd. Once she managed to work her way to the front of the crowd, she saw a large grey block sitting at the edge of the water and the guard captain was telling the Mer to take it back and bury it as deep as they could.
“NO. It poisoned us, it is deadly, we return it to whence it came. The one that dropped it on us will pay for the crime,” the leader of the Mer tribe yelled back. Tamalain slowly approached the block, looking it over, the feeling of wrongness growing stronger with each step. She could see the markings on one side, the Crescent Moon of Luclin. This stopped her as she remembered the story about the Dracota Scale Armor and its long ago fate.
She reached out to a guard for his attention, “Sir, when did this get here?”
The guard regarded her for second and decided to answer rather than send her away. “The Mer dragged it into the harbor about six months ago. They just got it on shore a few days ago though. Thing weighs several tones from the looks of it.” He turned back to the shouting Mer folk for a second then went on. “Several of the older Dwarves say it looks like the block that was dumped in the OOT to get rid of a artifact of some sort.”
“No,” she whispered, “no, it can’t be. The nightmare is beginning again.” Without a word she turned and ran away from the beach back into the heart of the city to try and escape the feeling she was now being plagued with. A faint voice calling to her to rescue it, begging for the forgiveness of its mistress. She found a small park and settled on a bench that was hidden mostly from sight by trees and bushes. Reaching into her pack, she opened the seal on the whip case and heard the whip screaming at her to get away from their as fast as she could run. “Girl, the armor is back, the Mer folk damaged the seals on the block. It will try to summon me and your grandmother to it. It is insane and will do whatever it can for vengeance.”
“Are you sure about that? Listen to it for a minute, it’s sad ... afraid ... hurt ... alone.”
The whip went silent and after a minute spoke again. “It’s sane once more, as it was before she first donned the suit, what has changed mistress?”
“I don’t know whip, but it needs a new owner, but I’m not ready and I suspect she would come personally to deal with it. In fact she needs to be informed of this event.”
“That would be for the best mistress.”
Leaving the box braced open by a bit of cloth, she went to the center of town where the bell was located. She asked if anybody would be heading to Coldwind Point and be willing to see to a message being delivered. “Kid, ask the bards, they do mail service and get touchy if anybody horns in on their job,” said one guard. “Oh, sorry, where can I find them then.” “Just across the street kid, now beat it.” She did.
She crossed over the busy road and saw the place she needed to go. As she entered, she saw a lines at all the counters, all moving very slowly. She sagged, shrugged and approached one of the lower counters made for her race. Using the quill and paper supplied, she wrote a note and addressed it to her Grandmother in the Archer Wood village. Once she was in line, she saw that it would be some time before she reached the counter, but knew patience was in order if this situation was to be settled with the city still standing. The line seemed to move a little quicker once several folks were finished and soon she was at a teller.
“What do you need kid,” asked the human woman in bored tone.
“This letter must reach my Grandmother at Archer Wood as soon as is possible. A situation is developing here that she must be made aware of.”
The woman said, “That will be two silver and the next runner heading that way will be in three days.”
“Three Days? It could be to late by then, she has to have word of this before this day is over.”
“Listen kid, I don’t set the rules, I just enforce them.”
“But the Dracota Armor is back, my Grandmother has to be told so she can stop it from destroying all of us.”
From the back of the counter and gruff voice sounded off, “The Armor? The Dracota Armor that Arrowmark dumped off in the OOT is back?” A Elderly Dwarve came around the counter and faced her. “You’re right kid, she has to be told now.” He turned and shouted in dwarven to a runner that was sitting on stool behind the counter. “Grinder, emergency delivery, Code Lyric. Go the Archer Wood, see that she has it before sundown here.”
The runner looked startled at the order given. The Lyric code amounted to a world ending situation. He was to sing the Silor running words to boost his speed, and maybe kill himself in the process. Without a word, he took the letter, placed it in his pouch and saluted the old Dwarve, then took off at a full sprint across the street to the bell. They hear the clang as he wrenched the cord harder than most and was gone.
“The old Dwarf turned back to Tamalain and looked her over. “Kid, I hope this is for real, I just gave him a possible death sentence.”
Tamalain looked him in the eyes and frowned, “You knew her back then?”
“Aye lass, that I did. I was on one of the teams that helped move the block from the village out there to the port. She was a lively wench back then, full of fire and joy.”
“She is my Grandmother.”
“Is that so girl,” He looked her over closely. “You have her hair and eyes, and most of her looks too. The only thing lacking is the touch of madness in the back of your eyes.”
“I am her in most ways really, I just haven’t been cursed like she was.”
“Good girl, stay that way. Now, where are you headed, if you don’t mind my asking that is.”
“Kelethin, to go to school and learn to be a Ranger.”
He nodded then grinned. “She sent you on the long road, didn’t she.”
“She did it to her eldest son as well. Oh was he a cranky kid when he got off the boat. He was demanding and arrogant as hell. We made him walk alone rather than as an escort for a caravan.”
“Well I am trying to not be like my uncle. He never was a very good Ranger, can’t sneak to save his own life.”
The old Dwarf laughed a deep belly laugh and smacked her on the shoulder, knocking her into the counter. “Oops, sorry kid.” He helped her back upright then sent her towards the door. “You need to be there when she arrives I think.” Tamalain smiled and nodded her agreement and left the messenger service building to return to the bell.
Bard runner Grinder slammed into the gate at Archer Wood and fell back to lie flat on the ground, gasping in agony as every muscle in his body cramped and hurt. The lookout had heard the noise and looked over the wall and saw the prone figure. The uniform told him it was a runner, the red sash said an emergency message runner. He called for the watch commander and the gate was thrown open. They quickly assisted the runner inside and asked him what was going on. “I have to hand deliver this to The Arrowmark, Code Lyric.” The watch commander asked him to repeat that last to be sure he had the code right. “Private, emergency, go see if she is still up, if not, wake her, tell her Code Lyric if she gives you any guff.” “Aye sir,” and he took off as fast as he could run.
The runner quickly found the Arrowmark compound and the torches were still lit within. He pulled had on the bell rope to get the attention of anybody inside. After a minute, a small panel slid aside and a young woman asked what he wanted. “Ma’am, sorry to disturb you so late, but we have a bard runner collapsed at the gate. I have to bring the Elder Arrowmark to him for the message.”
Willow looked at the boy hard, “She is asleep, I am sure what ever it is can wait until morning.”
“No Ma’am, Code Lyric.”
Willow jerked back as she was about to close the portal, “I will get her right away.” She opened the door allowing the boy to enter the compound. “Wait here, I will be back with her as quickly as I can.” She never made it to the door of the main house as the old woman was hobbling as fast as she could towards them. “He said Code Lyric?” “Yes Mother” “Pack my travel gear, we will be on the road within the hour. Pack yours as well, and tell your husband to keep things going while we are away.”
“Yes mother.” Willow ran off to do as ordered. “Now boy, what is the message, or did they just send you to retrieve me.”
“Just that Ma’am.” He had never met the Arrowmark in person before. Even at her great age, she still radiated power and a sense of danger if made angry. “The runner is at the main gate, recovering from the run. He is hurt from slamming into the gate at very high speed.”
She sighed, “It is worse then if he used the Silor song. Come on boy, lets go.” He led her towards the gate and she grabbed his arm, binding him to her. She hummed a tune and took off at a run. They reached the gate in a few seconds and she released him. She approached the watch commander and asked, “Where is he.”
“We moved him inside to recover Ma’am, he is hurt pretty bad from using that song.”
“Good, lets go.” He led her inside and as soon as Grinder saw her he asked, “You are The Arrowmark of the Upperpass Village?”
“That I am boy, what have you got for me that was so important to nearly kill you.”
He pulled out the letter from his pouch and handed it to her. She saw the signature and quickly read it. As she finished, her eyes had taken on a green glow and her grey hair was flaming a wild red color. “As soon as my slow arsed daughter gets here with our gear, we port to the docks bell. At least I hope to, Anybody bound there today.”
“We have a pair bound so they can shuttle back and forth as needed.”
“Get them, we leave soonest.”
“Ma’am, what is so urgent that these measures have been taken.” She handed him the letter. He went pale and issued orders to get the shuttle team on deck now, not at their convenience.” Another runner took off to get the pair. “Is she sure, could they be wrong about it maybe?”
“Not a chance boy, not a chance. I have taught my granddaughter my history, shown her the drawings, the markings. She also has the old whip with her. That will tell her for certain.”
In a few minutes time, Willow arrived with the gear her mother had called for and quickly suited up. The old leather was stiff with age as it had not been worn in over a century, but it would loosen up soon enough. As she placed each piece of her gear, she felt the years fall away from her. She turned and looked at the men and women that had watched her don the old suit. “Well, how do I look?”
All the eyes had a lost look, like they couldn’t quite believe what they had just seen. “Mother, you just lost over a hundred years in your looks, what is happening to you.”
The suit child, as long as I wear it, I will be at a younger age, but once I take it off, all those years will come back in a rush, and I will not survive the reset this time.” She seemed to lose herself in thought for a moment before going on. “Now, we need to hurry, if the suit is calling out for me, there will be one hell of a major battle for me to fight in my head ... If it wins Willow, you will know it and I ask you to do what you must to stop me. If I lose control, kill me daughter. Don’t hesitate, I will kill you if you do. Do you understand that girl?”
The look of shock and pain on Willow’s face said it all, but when she answered, “I will do it mother, I just wish there was some other way to do this.”
As do I daughter, As do I. Now, where is that porter, we need to get moving.”
Young Tamalain sat by the bell waiting for the arrival of the others. When her stomach growled at her, she decided it would be several hours yet before they would make it. She saw several vendors in the square and bought a meat pie for her dinner. It was a soft meat of a type she didn’t recognize, but it was tasty. The bread from another stand had a flavor she had never tasted before as well. Curious she approached the bread vendor and asked about the bread. “It come from a wheat grown in the Feydark kid. Easy to get, easier to make and is some of the best food around. You being a woodsy should know that.”
“I’m sorry, I just arrived here, this is my first time to this land. I was born and raised on Antonica near Qeynos.”
“Oh, sorry kid. Did you like it?”
“Yes I did, it has a flavor that seems to fill me in a way that no bread ever has before.”
“Not surprising, this wheat is made for your race. It calls you home if you let it. Headed to the schools I bet, right?”
“Yes sir, the Ranger academy. I have a long journey ahead of me once things are settled here.” She looked at the bell as a sudden stilling of the crowd caught her attention. “I have to go, thanks for telling me about the bread.”
“Any time kid and good luck.”
Young Tamalain returned to the bell stand as the people around it waiting suddenly started backing away, those nearest pushing to run away as fast as could be managed. She felt the surge of power that she knew belonged to her grandmother, and a second lesser surge of her mother. The Elder Tamalain stood rigid, hair a mass of flaming tendrils, her eyes a blinding green glow. This was something she had heard tales of but had never seen in her life. This was the power that made her family so dangerous even to the gods.
All across Norrath, elder Casters and clerics looked up at the sudden energy wave that raced around the world. The High Elven knew it for what it was. Most only knew it from the old records of the past. One being felt the wave and looked up. He cursed once and ran for his private chamber, diving into the shielded coffin, slamming the lid down as fast as he could. Mayong Mistemoore didn’t want to face her in the rage again.
On the lower planes, the Gods felt the sudden burst and fled to the higher planes, hoping to escape what they feared most in all of reality. Something had pissed the Arrowmark off and she had opened the rift once again.
In another reality, a being sat quietly reviewing events and enjoying the quiet time as the reality he was the recorder of moved along on their pre-ordained course. A sudden ripple in the fabric of space and time caused his book to suddenly begin flipping pages to a point he would rather have avoided. He looked at what was happening and quietly sighed, “Here we go again.”
Willow watched and waited as the expected battle started then came to a sudden halt. All the glows, the ripples of energy and death came to a sudden halt. The Elder Tamalain looked up smiling. “Willow, the Armor is sane once more. Once I expelled the beast back to it’s own reality, the mind of the suit was freed as well. I must go to it and have a chat with it. I have one last duty to perform before I die daughter.” She looked at the younger version of herself and smiled a grim smile.
“Granddaughter take me to the suit, I must free it and bind it to you.”
Willow almost fell down at the sudden shocking pronouncement. “You can’t be serious mother, she is only twelve, she hasn’t the strength yet to command that suit.”
Without stopping to answer, Young Tamalain led her elders to the beach where the block sat. The older looked at it and frowned. “The seals have been scraped off. That would explain the reason for hearing it. The Mer were less than gentle with it.”
When she walked out to it, several heads rose up out of the water to see who was approaching the artifact of death. One of the older members of the tribe saw that it was the one they sought. “You,” he burbled as he worked to clear his lungs enough to speak in the air. “You are the one that dropped the poison on us. We demand your life for sickening our folk in the deep rift.”