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  #101  
Unread 16th of October, 2005, 23:52
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Surayon looks around at Blaerth, raising en eyebrow, speaking with a distinct tone of mockery in her cool voice.

"Really. Does it occur to you that if that was all they wanted, then they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of enchanting your friend to leave us with the Stone? Does it occur to you that they obviously want the Stone in there without us being there? Does then then occur to you that they won't be ecstatic to see us come back, demanding Shade back? These are wizards, I highly doubt that there is just the one faction in there interested in the Stone. And when several groups of wizards are interested in the same thing....."

Her voice trails off, and she goes back to scraping the whetstone across her sword.
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  #102  
Unread 17th of October, 2005, 03:36
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"Um... Well..." Blarth hesitates, clearly thrown off by the logic of Surayon's reply.

After a moment of confusiont, Blarth seems to simply accept what he can't understand and gets a determined look on his face.

"Okay, then. We need to go in there and get Shade out. Let's not waste any time."
  #103  
Unread 20th of October, 2005, 00:45
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The companions ate a warm, if tense breakfast before entering the Citadel where they were met by Ysene. After enquiring to the location of Shade, the presence of Surayon and the Ruinstone and after it became clear that the explanation would be a long one she led them deep under the Citadel to a room that appeared to not have been used in sometime.

Within were Cadogan and 2 other men that were introduced as her companions and once everyone was settled Ysene repeated her question. Caught off guard by this unexpected turn of events, Nicos launched into a mostly true version of the trip while he frantically tried to work out what their next move should be.
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  #104  
Unread 20th of October, 2005, 01:30
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Made suspicious by Nicos's and Surayon's earlier comments, Blarth is on edge as they are led into the Citadel and down into what can only be described as the catacombs. Looking about the party as they go, Blarth keeps an eye out for some sign of Shade.

No luck, and not a little walking later, Blarth finds himself in a room with not 1 but 4 wizards now, and his other companions of course, with Nicos recounting what had happened over the last few days. Studying each of the wizards in turn, Blarth tries to figure out what's really going on here. A painfully slow process for the half-orc.

Ysene, the woman wizard that had sent them on this trip and had shown Blarth that amazing trick with the stone lizard. He didn't know quite why, but he really like her. Something about that tingly feeling he'd had when she'd shown him the lizard hadn't really felt right.

The man next to him was dressed in a simple black robe. His hood was pulled up so that Blarth could not see his face. Ysene had introduced him as... as... Damn, now Blarth was forgetting his name. He seemed to be paying rapt attention to Nicos's story, whatever his name was, though, so he probably wasn't a threat. At least not yet.

The other man that had just been introduced was dressed like one would expect a wizard to dress. His robe nearly gleamed with gold, silver, and blue embrodiry in designs of lightening bolts and scrolls. He seemed decidedly less interested in Nicos's story, but then, he didn't seem interested in anything at all. He kept gazing up at the ceiling with a far off look in his eyes like he was looking at something on the other side. Looking up at the point in the cieling where the man is looking, Blarth looks for a hole or something that he might be looking through, but sees nothing. Perhaps his angle is wrong to see the hole.

The last wizard in the line is Cadogan, the man that Shade and Cadrius had lead them here to rescue. Well, not rescue necessarily, but at the very least make sure he was okay. He'd been abducted by some wizards back in Krakas. Well, maybe not abducted, they had claimed to be his friends so the might have just been taking care of him. Cadogan had been unconcious at that point, so they might have just been trying to keep him safe. Most men didn't really trust wizards further than they could throw them, and quite a few prefered them close enought to skewer should it become necessary.

As he studies Cadogan, it dawns on Blarth that Cadogan is studying him. Wait? Isn't Cadogan blind? He can't really be studying him, just pointing his face in his direction. But Blarth can't shake the feeling that those eyes are focused on him, trying to judge what kind of a person he really is. Staring back, Blarth and Cadogan's eyes meet, and for a brief moment there is a spark of recognition in Cadogan's eyes as he realizes that Blarth has noticed his stare. Almost immediately he looks away, or rather looks nowhere, trying to resume the veil of being blind.

For Blarth, however, the illusion is broken. Having realized that the man calling himself Cadogan is not really blind, it seems obvious that he isn't really Cadogan. Indeed a closer look reveals that his appearence is some how partially transparent. Blarth can see through his skin to see another, very different looking man beneath the outer Cadogan shell.

Instantly on the defensive, Blarth is immediately surrounded by a blue glow that has the appearence of chainmail as his face turns into a snarl focused on the imposter.

"Imposter," he nearly growls at the wizard, "You're not Cadogan. Where is he, and what have you done with Shade?"
  #105  
Unread 21st of October, 2005, 21:40
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A curious sound came to her ears. At first, she thought it was the faint whistle of wind, pushed through some joint in the mortared walls. Yet the more she listened, the less likely that seemed. It waxed and waned with no predictable pattern or location. However, the most vexing issue was the quality of the whistling - the sound was barely audible, yet her straining ears began to pick up some subliminal cues that slowly convinced her it was not merely a sound, but rather that it was some sort of language.

What the language might be or what sort of creature might utter it, she had no idea. But it seemed her captors were not content to simply leave her to her own devices. They must even now be watching. Earlier, she had snuffed out most of the candles, leaving the chambers in heavy shadow. She had been hopeful that someone entering would be unaccustomed to the dim interior, giving her an advantage. Now she retreated to a darkened corner, near where the layout of the room suggested a door should be.

The whispering faded, faded again, and then was gone entirely. The silence hammered in her ears but nothing else immediately occurred. Then, one by one, cold fingers descended onto her spine, freezing her in place. It was a sensation beyond the sharp bite of morning air or even the frosty grip of winter. It was an absolute, numbing cold that turned her blood to ice and sucked the strength from her limbs.

She was dimly aware that she had stopped breathing, that the chill had turned her body rigid as stone. Then he strode from the shadow, a man, half-elven, with golden hair and a sardonic smile. The suddenness of his appearance left her wondering how she hadn't seen him sooner, yet he seemed to have been there all along. And she knew him, remembered catching a glimpse of him in that alley in Karkus, remembered him from her seeming dream the night they had left.

Who are you?

The words were meant to be asked aloud, but she finds she doesn't have the strength to even speak. He moves forward, and as in the dream, his fingertips brush her cheeks, tracing lines like white-hot fire. She feels the cold around her intensify, feels her strength flooding out of her body like water drained from a bath. His smile grew, at odds with the cruel light in his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was musical.

"At last."

The dregs of her strength swirl away and she collapses forward into his arms.

Last edited by Gralhruk; 22nd of October, 2005 at 04:31.
  #106  
Unread 21st of October, 2005, 22:25
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Hearing Blarth's accusation, Nicos breaks from of his tale and glances over at Cadogan in confusion, only to see the man's face melt away revealing a stranger underneath. Not waiting for the mages to react, the bard swings his gaze back to Ysene - who thus far had acted like the leader of the group - and locked eyes with her.

As Nicos chanted in a fast tempo, the woman's eyes first widen in surprise and her lips move in an attempt to speak. The words never became vocalised as her entire body goes tense, then freezes in place.
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Last edited by itches; 22nd of October, 2005 at 06:23.
  #107  
Unread 26th of October, 2005, 06:55
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Surayons lips skin back, baring her teeth in a silent snarl as she realises that they have walked tamely into a trap. Her swords seem almost to leap into her hands with a hiss as she leaps forward, ducking and rolling to avoid potential strikes - she'll give these wizards a few seconds to try and explain themselves, but then she intends to strike as hard as she knows how - and she doesn't take prisoners.
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  #108  
Unread 26th of October, 2005, 15:29
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He’s caught off-guard by the flurry of activity. Blarth’s accusation sends his heart racing. A trap? Had they really fallen for a wizard’s ruse? Surayon prepares to strike, as quick and as quiet as death. The wizards themselves push back from the table, clearly having prepared for something like this.

It all happens too fast.

The presence of steel ensures a violent response. Nicos doesn’t waste any time, freezing one of them in place with a word of power. There is no going back now. Even if the room is not being scryed by others, they cannot expect to disarm the situation. By steel and spell, they have made their choice.

Cadrius leaps forward, grabbing the elegantly dressed man by the front of his embroidered robe. One heavy mailed fist smashes into the wizard’s face, sullying his delicate features. Cadrius hears the satisfying crunch of the man’s nose breaking; he does not go down.

Blood streaming down his face, the man snarls and barks an arcane word. “Fulgarite!”

The sudden drawing of energy through the air is palpable to Cadrius. He can feel it rushing over his shoulders, down his arms, and into the hands of the wizard. The fallen paladin raises his fist to strike again, but it never lands. The energy condenses and then explodes in burst of lightning. Electricity courses through Cadrius’ body, and hurls him into the stone wall. He slumps to the ground, dazed and twitching.
  #109  
Unread 26th of October, 2005, 23:27
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While Blarth hadn't been quite sure what the response to his accusation would be, the out break of a fight certianly hadn't been his first thought. Perhaps the other wizards would have turned and demanded that Blarth explain himself. Or maybe the would be Cadogan would vehemently deny the accustaion. Or perhaps one of his friends would have asked what was going on. Anything but an immediate brawl.

Reaching for his club, Blarth's hands grasp at empty space and he looks down to find it not there. Looking up in confusion, Blarth sees it in the hands of the not-Cadogan wizard, a small grin on his face. A thought crosses Blarth's mind, how had he taken his club when he was way over there, only to be burned in the fire of rage. That was his brother's club, and the wizard had taken it.

Snarling like a beast, Blarth rushes the man, whose grin fades into a look of suprise and disgust as Blarth's visage reforms to match the beast inside. With little time to think about it, the wizard raises the club he so recently aquired in an attempt to defend himself and swings it at Blarth. Only to be spun around by its momentum when Blarth easily ducks the akward swing, and then scream in pain as Blarth's elongated teeth find his thigh.
  #110  
Unread 27th of October, 2005, 04:48
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Shade stares down the passageway where the man had disappeared, her mind ticking impatiently over the details of what he had said. Anger and resentment churned in her gut, but she could not deny that he'd saved her. Sudden shouts and the unmistakable sound of combat wrench her attention back to the door in front of her. His last words had been that her friends were beyond that portal. She throws the door open, her mind suddenly tuned to the rhythm of combat.

The images blur together - Blarth, Nicos, Ben, Surayon - all scrambling in the heat of battle. The one thing that comes crisply into focus is Cadrius, slumped against the wall, a wizard standing before him. For the moment, both are unaware of her presence.

She crosses the short space in the time it takes her to draw steel, slicing crosswise at the unprotected flesh of the sorcerer's neck. He goes down, spurting blood across the flagstones.
  #111  
Unread 27th of October, 2005, 11:59
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It takes days or weeks to forge an alliance, but only a single action to destroy it.

Those were the words that he'd been told by one of the Mercenaries. Ben couldn't remember who, but now he could see whoever had said that knew what they were talking about. All it had taken was a single accusation, and the whole damn place had become hell in less than 5 seconds.

Not that that stopped Ben. His sword was out, along with his shield, and he was facing the black-hooded man. He couldn't see his face under the cowl, but he really only needed to see his hands. There was a flick, and Ben, expecting the man to cast a spell, was caught off-guard. Still, his shield was in the way enough that the dagger only pinged against it, never hitting Ben.

What the hell? Why didn't he--?

Before Ben could even finish his thought, a sizzling green arrow flew past his shield and splashed into his chest. The arrow burst into small green goblets that spattered against his skin and shirt, and they immediatly started hissing and burning.

The damned wizard had thrown the knife to get him to move his shield so the arrow could hit! Ben cried in agony as he felt the liquid, most likely acid, burn his skin and melt his chain armor. The pain, though not immediatly life-threatening, was quite intense.

Letting loose an inchoherent growl, Ben ran up to the man in black, slashing at where he had been. Emphasis on been. The man in black was fast, damn fast. Almost too fast.
  #112  
Unread 29th of October, 2005, 07:16
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The chaos of combat swirled around Nicos and the man struggled to make sense of it all. To one side Blarth had transformed into ... into the thing as he had done a few previous times in the past and was now biting. Turning the bard was in time to see Shade standing just inside the doorway.

Shade, the woman they had chased desperately across the wasteland, the woman enchanted to bring the ruinstone back to the wizards, and enchanted still? Before Nicos can open his mouth to speak the woman stepped forwards, drew her blades and Nicos got his answer in a crimson pattern upon the floor. Shade was no longer on the wizard’s side, and she seemed annoyed.

Turning to aid Ben in his struggle, Nicos stopped again. Standing in the doorway that Shade had just stepped through was a new figure, that of a large man. They both see each other at the same time and the large man begins to chant. Dragging his dagger Nicos threw the blade causing the large man to dodge aside and break his spellcasting.
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  #113  
Unread 3rd of November, 2005, 06:18
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The dying wizard slumps away, revealing Cadrius wounded on the ground before her. Would it always be so, that she stared at him over bloodied steel?

Not for much longer.

Behind her, the room is alive with the chaos of battle, the pulse of magic a tangible pressure. She remembers when they came and took Cadogan, how powerless she had been to help him. Either these were mere apprentices or they simply hadn't had time yet to bring out their strongest spells.

She guessed the latter, letting her eyes scan the room, looking for some way to guess the more powerful opponents. If they could strike quickly, cut the head off of the serpent, then they might stand a chance. Almost too late, she dodges and somersaults as her peripheral vision detects a glowing missle arcing her way. It veers unerringly after her, numbing her side as it strikes home.

Nearby, she sees Nicos cast his dagger at a menacing figure just entering the room. Could he be the one in charge?

She starts toward him, bringing her blades in line and then delivering a well timed attack. The man moves like a cat, dodging one blade while the other rings harmlessly off his unprotected tricep.
  #114  
Unread 9th of November, 2005, 08:14
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Fully commited to the fight now, Blarth pulls back just enough to draw the wizard into a false sense of security so that he tries to cast a spell, and then strikes again, biting at the wizard's hands and forcing him to let go of the club. Stooping to retrieve the club, Blarth feels a familiar tingle in his scalp. No, it was deeper than that. Shaking his head clear, Blarth let's his anger flow as was natural for his race and swings hard at the wizard infront of him, knocking him back off his feet and against the wall. Clearly dazed, the wizard that claimed to be Cadogan merely slumps down to the floor.

Turning to face the room, Blarth sees each of his companions fully engaged in the fight. A new foe seems to have entered the room, but so too has Shade, and she battles the with the big man, though he seems far more adept at combat than the not-Cadogan that Blarth had just eliminated.

Out of the corner of his eye, Blarth catches sight of a section of wall near Cadrius which seems out of place. Looking at it for a moment, it takes Blarth a second to realize what is wrong: the wall has no blood on it. On the wall next to Cadrius where he had been flung against the wall there is a small splash of blood that he had probalby spit up when the air had been forced from his lungs. The splash, however, has a very sharp and unatural termination about 12 inches from where Cadrius lies.

Moving in that direction, Blarth pushes his club at the wall only to find it going through without any resistance. Not really knowing or caring where this passage might lead, so long as it lead away from that battle with the wizards, Blarth grabs Cadrius by the back of his armor and hauls him behind the fake wall. Immediately they are plunged into darkeness like Blarth as experienced only once before. Unable to see, he feels the air in front of him with his club and pushes forward.

Please let this be a way out.
  #115  
Unread 11th of November, 2005, 05:29
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Surayon glances quickly to left and right - Blaerth obviously needs no help, and Nocos and Ben are at least holding their own. A ring of steel against steel catches her ears and she twists to she Shade's blade bouncing away from the large man's skin, leaving no mark. A hiss of vexation escapes her lips as she twists behind the mage, ramming the side of her foot into the back of his knee, buckling his leg and forcing him to stagger in order to catch himself.
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  #116  
Unread 14th of November, 2005, 17:46
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Blarth catches hold of the Cadrius’ armor and pulls. Cadrius grits his teeth and forces his legs to weakly propel him through the illusion and into the passageway. Blood trickles down the side of the fallen paladin’s mouth, leaving a trail of smeared crimson droplets in his wake.

The curtain of darkness falls instantly across his eyes. The sound of battle carries from the room, but it does not echo like he expected it might. Instead, the sound of metal scraping on stone, and the tap of the club Blarth’s club as he fumbles his way down the corridor.

The temperature is precipitously cooler in here than in the room, and particularly so when one is still flush from combat. Running a gauntleted hand along the wall, Cadrius notes that the stone feels pitted. Wasn’t there some sort of stone utilized by wizards? He can’t recall, having little aptitude for arcane geology.

“The others,” he rasps. “We mustn’t leave them.”
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Unread 15th of November, 2005, 02:11
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"Wasn't planning on it," Blarth replies, "but first I'm going to get you out of this darkness.

Tumbling forward, Blarth falls out of the darkness and into the cavern by which the group had originally entered the citadel. After taking a moment to get his bearings, Blarth props Cadrius up against the wall and heads back into the secret passage, but only after bumping into solid wall once as he misses the concealed passage on the first attempt.

Arriving back in the midst of the combat, Blarth is just in time to see several more wizards pour in through the open door.

"Come on!" he shouts at the others, "lets get out of here!"
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  #118  
Unread 16th of November, 2005, 07:08
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Shade keeps her eyes focused on her enemy even as she hears Blarth shout. Getting out of here sounded good to her, but first this bastard needed something to remember them by, something that would make him think twice about giving chase. Nicos moves toward her and the wizard, looking capable despite his lack of a weapon. Shade tumbles past her foe, forcing him to divide his attention between two fronts. The ploy works as her attack slips past his guard and drives beneath his shoulder blade.
  #119  
Unread 17th of November, 2005, 22:32
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The fight quickly became a one-sided affair when the new arrivals rushed in. Seeing the reinforcements, Ysene's companions struggled for a few moments more and then dropped their weapons in a clear sign of surrender. As the confusion of battle suddenly became a post-fight lull, Nicos a moment to recognise one of the new comers as Gemoud.

Stepping towards the redhead, the bard was stopped short by her wide-eyed gaze directed at something over his shoulder. Turning he was shocked to discover Ysene once more animated and holding a cube in one hand, the ruinstone in the other. In the shock of the fight Nicos had forgotten about her and she must have broken out of the spell unnoticed.

"You can’t!" Gemoud stuttered at the woman, but made no move to approach her. "You don't know for sure what will-"

"I do know!" Ysene exclaimed. "Here, let me show you." Before anyone could react she inserted the stone into the depression on the cube, and for a long moment nothing happened. Then a low grinding noise began inside the cube, a vibration that shock the cube violently. Grinning in a triumphant manner Ysene held the cube above her head when-

-when the grinding stopped. One of the sides opened in the sudden silence and a half dozen coloured stones fell out to scatter randomly on the floor.
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  #120  
Unread 30th of November, 2005, 15:15
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"So the cube was a fake?"

Nicos sat in a well furnished and comfortable room that was doubling as a makeshift prison for he and his companions. They had been rushed into the room when everyone had been apprehended after Ysene had activated the fake cube, and were to stay while the citadel's leadership considered the situation. The fact that they hadn't attempted to relive them of their weapons gave the bard some indication of hope, but the corpses they left behind was causing a lot of doubt.

Cadogan had been found in a nearby cell, bound and dehydrated from his imprisonment but otherwise unharmed. He had gave his side of the story, then insisted on being given access to the companions, which lead to where they were now.

"Yes," The blind man replied. "I knew that it would be dangerous to actually carry the true cube around with me, so I had a replica made. It was similar enough to help u study the thing, without being dangerous."

"Makes sense," Nicos said. "But when she 'activated' the fake cube, what were the things that fell out?"

"There's nothing really secretive about that," Cadogan said grinning and searching through a pocket in his robe. Pulling out several more of the coloured obviously, the mage popped one into his mouth and began to chew it. "Candy."

"Why were you keeping Candy in the cube?" Nicos' asked perplexed.

"Why not?" came Cadogan's reply with a completely straight face.

Cadogan went on to explain something more about the nature of the brotherhood, and of how several factions had developed within their numbers.

"There are some who propose that we totally cut ourselves from the outside world, those who want to take a more aggressive approach to forcing magic upon what they call the 'common people'. Those who propose a more diplomatic and peaceful approach and several others.

"Ysene and her friends were after power, no matter the risk or the cost. Gemoud, I and several others banded together when we learnt of their plans to try and counteract it. We didn't know much so we couldn't openly oppose her, working in secret and without knowing anyone what was happening."

Running a hand over a face still clearly showing signs of his stay in captivity, Cadogan manages to look regretful and pained at the same time.

"They must have realised we were on to them and started preparing against us, and it almost worked. Looking back at everything, it might have just been easier if we openly confronted them without evidence. Maybe it would have scared them away from the whole affair and we wouldn't have this mess."


It was maybe fifteen minutes later when Gemoud finally returned dressed in a sleeveless robe, flanked by two heavily muscled and armed men.

"They came to a decision." The woman said with an ominous tone of voice.

"That was quick," Cadogan remarked, seemingly still of high spirits despite all that had happened. "What have they decided?"

"It's an understatement to say that they're not pleased about this whole affair. At first some wanted to just punish everyone cart-blanch, but wiser heads prevailed. They wouldn't tell me what they were going to do with Ysene and her crew, which seems to indicate something rather ominous."

"What about us?" Nicos asked as his eyes rested upon the woman's arm.

"It took a lot of argument, but in the end they decided to just ask you all to leave. Permanently."

"Well that's not so bad," Nicos said in a cheerful tone. "We would have left on our own if they hadn't been keeping us here."

"The two gentlemen here are to see you out immediately, and I'm to inform you to never attempt to return." The threat went unspoken but understood. "They won't even let you take some supplies."

"What about us?" Cadogan spoke up.

"It also could have been worse," Gemoud replied. "I'll tell you about it later."
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Last edited by itches; 30th of November, 2005 at 17:17.
  #121  
Unread 30th of November, 2005, 17:21
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On their way out Nicos found himself walking next to the red haired Gemoud.

"Don't you think it's amazing," the bard said suddenly. "How what you see at first, often isn't the way things really are."

Gemoud looked at Nicos, her face convoying a silent question at his statement. In response the man traced a finger down the woman's arm to her wrist, where just a few days ago a scar of a crescent moon had rested.

"Oh," Gemoud said as realisation broke across her face. "Oops."

"Oops," Nicos echoed. "So much for a secret society. It's been games and manipulation from the start, hasn't it?"

"No," the redhead said softly, sadly. "Never a game. The stakes were so high that I, that we…"

"The end and risks justified the means," Nicos completed her unfinished sentence.

They fell silent again as the group reached the exit of the wizard’s Citadel. His back held straight, the bard walked out with even, steady steps.

"Nicos, wait!" Gemoud called after he was several steps outside. The man stopped and half turned, looking back. "That night, only some of it was a lie."

"More then you know Gemoud," Nicos said flashing his standard bright, happy, shallow smile. "More then you know."
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Last edited by itches; 9th of December, 2005 at 22:24.
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