The mist rolled in over the wild coast from the vast ocean, in the hours before the sun had risen to burn it away. Wrapped in a royal purple cloak, Aquila was perched on a roadside boulder. His eyes were closed, and his hands stretched out. A pale, surreal glow radiated from the eye tattoo on his chest, visible only where the folds of the cloak did not cover his physical form. His peaceful Mulani features did not relfect the violent thoughts swirling in his mind. Still, he had attained focus. Not all rituals of the Order required tranquility.
His light brown eyes opened and the glow faded as footsteps were heard on the road ahead, the perilous track from the south coast through the Moribund bog. She appeared as expected, blonde strands of hair perfectly arranged to complement her curvaceous figure. If hidden guardians or stalkers followed her, their were silent as death's shadow. No, she was alone. Aquila left his boulder and took position on the road. She noticed him immediatly, and recognition was appearent in her eyes. Their location and his allegiance made her cautious. "Going to Davenshire?" he asked. She confirmed this, with a hand discretely seeking a pouch decorated with an arcane rune. He spoke again, already weary of the theatrics, and eager to perfom his duty. "You are under arrest for crimes against the Zulkirate and the people of Thay. I am Equestrian Aquila, you will come with me willingly-..." She opened her mouth to voice an enchantment. The first two syllables rolled of her tounge and her fingers dipped into the pouch, which when opened reeked of some alien substances. His right fist hit her clean on the jaw as she was about to throw the contents at him. She lost her footing from the punch and fell, losing consciousness in the process. "... or by force," he grunted. Picking her up efforlessly and quickly moving into the Thayan Enclave, his muscles fueled by the magic of the Order. The two had dissapeared quickly from the southbound road. All was still again, and the fog of the morning eventually dissipiated to make way for another day.
The small cell was clean but severely utalitarian, as was the grey tunic that had replaced all the finery and jewels. Her blue eyes stared defiantly into Aquila's as he took his seat. He set a clay cup full of water down on the roughly carpented table between them and slid it over to her side. She ignored the gesture. He proceeded to place a few documents down, and sorted through them idly. "This is your version of what transpired?" he asked, not entirely without compassion. When she confirmed it, he let out a quiet sigh and began feeding the documents, page by page, into the open flame of the candle that lit the cell. He looked into her eyes as he did, and noticed the subtle change of attitude. She had not believed she would be released at first, but as the days passed, some hope had started to grow. Now it was consumed by fire. "If you tell the truth and demonstrate a will to repent for your crime, you will live. If not, the punishment is death." Aquila twitched in suprise as her spit landed on his face followed by an insult, one of many he had heard since the capture. He rose up from the chair and dried his face with the back of his hand, contemplating a while before he faced her again. "I regret to say that from this point on, our conversation will take a violent turn."
Hours later Aquila spoke to the wizard in attendance. "Unfortunatly most of her mind is impenetrable using Order magic. I can only confirm what she told me in the end." "What is that then?" the wizard asked impatiently. "She is a Harper." "Nothing else?" the wizard enquired. "She knows more, however... it lays buried deep within her mind. Torture only goes so far. More would drive her insane, and I do not think needless pain is justified," Aquila explained. The wizard gazed into the cell for a while, considering the words carefully. His neutral features told Aquila nothing, but his stance and the tension in his voice revealed a certian disgust. Finally, the wizard agreed with his assessment. "I will have some soldiers prepare a cross," Aquila said. The wizard did not reply, still watching the woman in the cell.
The cross had been finished, a sturdy wooden construction. At the moment it was lying on the ground, nothing more than a piece of hastily assembled wood. Soon it would be a means of execution. Aquila marched up to the nearby platform followed by a strange collection of people. Two Thayan soldiers with white cloths wrapped around their left upper arms, temporarily serving the justice of the Order, came first. The prisoner walked behind them. Her hands were chained together by heavy iron rings. Despite this she did not seem broken. She had been allowed to wash herself, to prepare to meet death with dignity. The blonde hair glistened in the afternoon sun, and her naturally ample curves were still appearent despite being dressed in a simple prisoner's tunic. The eyes of the crowd below the platform followed her. Many from the Enclave had gathered to witness the ceremony. She walked with a certain pride, although her radience had certainly diminished since the capture. The guild of the enemy, Aquila believed. Four more soldiers adorned with the white cloth followed behind her, the last two holding banners. The first was theeight circles of magic, the red-and-gold symbol of Thay. The second was a piece of cloth with a white symbol of an eye centered on a purple field. The group assembled on the platform and Aquila began his speech.
"Brothers and sisters! Citizens of Thay! With the blessings of the Red Wizards, I have brought before you one Tanna Nightsong. She is an enemy of Thay. Even worse, she has used deception and lies against us. You all remember the Trading Post, the bulwark against savagery to the north. I was stationed there as an officer, and so were many of you. She brought it down in an inferno! Foul alchemy crafted in the barrows of the goblins and among the bands of orcs was used to stab us in the back. Arcane divination and interrogation has seen through the lies! She used our good nature, our trust, against us..." Aquila continued for some time, describing the nature of the crime to the crowd. The fire in his eyes and his soulful voice captured the crowd. Aquila's words even suprised himself as carried on to bring a promise to the Thayans who were in attendance. "... and I will purge the land of our hidden enemies! I will not rest until we can pursue our way of life without fear of assassins..." Another voice cut through his. "That's a big job for someone who suckled on his mother's teets not too long ago, darling." Silence fell immediatly. The rage pulsed through Aquila's veins, distorted his vision. The crowd watched in silence. Without conscious thought, he had wrapped his hand around the hilt of his sword. His muscles quivered with strength and the call of vengeance, heard within, threatened to overwhelm him. Why wait? She would die either way.
The moment passed, and he took a deep breath. "Gag the prisoner", he instructed. He believed he heard a dissapointed sigh, but turned his attention to the crowd once more, and the speech continued for a few minutes. "... and may Thay's banner rise proudly for all time! I am Equestrian Aquila of the All-Seeing Eye. I will fight for our dream until the last drop of strength has fled my body! Are you with me?" The last part was a shout, and he raised his armored fist to the sky. The Thayans roared in response as Aquila remained still, enjoying the strength and purpose the crowd gave him. Eventually he turned to Tanna and gestured for the gag to me removed. "The law states that in the face of death, the accused has the right to speak. You may say your words now", Aquila told her. He expected another insult, something to tarnish the ceremony. He was suprised when she spoke. "Peace is freedom in tranquility, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted by war... even unto death", she said. The scribe, who had written down the words spoken, cast a questioning glance at Aquila. With a slight nod he approved, and Tanna's words were added to the document.
Aquila watched as she was brought to the cross, and the nails were driven through without hesitation. Blood stained the wooden frame, but she was silent. With a gesture from him, the soldiers begun to raise the cross. Soon it stood upright, and finally, a scream was let out. Rage and defiance were still heard, but pain was dominant. Soon there was nothing but pain. Crucifixion was a harsh punishment, usually reserved for deserters from the Legions. What would happen to her had been debated. The cross was harsh, but the law demanded more for someone like her. Still, this was for the best. No grand designs or intricacies, quick and simple. Aquila gazed up at her pained visage, then turned to his fellow Thayans. "Justice be done!" he shouted. "Justice be done!" they echoed. Soon the silence settled over the Enclave again.
Registered Member #1033
Joined: 12:18:42 am GMT 04/25/07
(( The Final Act in the Tale of Tanna Nightsong, written by AtanatarAlcarin. ))
A dire bear wanders into the Feywood, sniffing about, as if he were looking for something...or someone. Eventually, he finds himself next to a campfire, a short distance from the main gate of the elven fortress, a place he seems to remember. The bear lays himself upon the ground and does not move. Days go by, and the elves of Feywood are confused and a few alarmed, for the bear has not stirred, not even to eat. He refuses all food offered, and growls at those who come close, but does not otherwise threaten them.
The bear seems to be waiting. But for whom, none can tell.
Those who are familiar with this giant beast know him as "Teddy", a companion of the bard Tanna Nightsong. He seems to be holdng a lonely vigil over the campfire, a sight both peculiar and heartbreaking.
Word of this strange bear and his behavior reaches the ears of Krin and Jalla Desat, heroes known well in the Feywood. This news both upsets and excites them, and they rush back to the Feywood with both anticipation and foreboding.
The bear recognizes them both, and in its weakened state clumsily greets them both with a sniff. They try to communicate with the bear, but it does not respond, except to use the last of its strength to lead them deeper into the woods. Puzzled, they follow.
The bear leads them to a secluded spot, to a fallen tree trunk. He sniffs the ground a bit more, and begins to dig furiously at the side of the trunk. Eventually, he exposes a small burlap bag, which encloses another, smaller silken bag, much like a lady might use to store her keepsakes. The treasure thus exposed, the bear lets out one last mighty roar, and dies on the spot.
Opening the silk bag, the Desats find the answers to many questions. Within, they find a small silver pin representing a silver harp, enclosed in the horns of a crescent moon, surrounded by seven stars. It is pinned to a piece of parchment inscribed with golden ink.
The letter reads:
My Dearest Friends,
I knew this day would come. We all do; it is a consequence of our actions, and as the Sage once said "The End is entailed in the beginning." Many years ago, I had the distinct honor and privlege of being accepted into the company of the finest men and women in all the Realms. My old Patron Dugal told me that the price of such fine company would be a sacrifice, perhaps the ultimate sacrifice, and I fear he was more correct than he knew. I truly wish it had not come so soon, but we cannot avoid our fates; instead, we can choose to meet fate with a song on our lips, a smile on our hearts, and the knowledge that true friendship can bring down the walls of the mightiest fortress.
I do not know what will happen to me. I only know that our old enemies have finally gotten wise to what I have done. Yes, it was me who burned down the trading post in Raven's Watch. They follow me, they hunt me. Though the hunt will cost me my life, I would do it all again, gladly and with a mighty song that would steal the nerve from even the most implaccable foes.
In the battle against evil, there will be casualties. It has not been my ill fortune to have been one, but rather my greatest honor! For I have died in the defense of freedom, the natural state of all beings, and the greatest treasure!
I love you all, My Darlings. When I finally reach the afterlife I will know that there were many great and decent folk who preceeded me, and I shall not feel ashamed in their company for I have at least struck a blow. That is far more than many others do. Do not weep for me, but rather sing with great joy -- for me, there will be no more pain, no more toil, and no more conflict.
Look for me at twilight, when you hear the sweet sound of the Harp in the dark places of the world, and be comforted, for you will not be alone.
I leave you these few tokens in rememberance, and as a reminder of what is at stake.