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 Capture the Flame (invite only) 
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Things were happening all too fast. It seemed only moments ago that Issilk had stumbled out of the camp looking to put his thoughts in order. Now, now he was back in camp, tending to this beautiful, nay, perfect creature after fighing an intense night battle. She tried to twist and turn to get a look at him. Issilk held her firmly, yet gently, in place.

Shhh. Shhh. Gently now. You have been sorely wounded and will need to rest. No, no. No need to wriggle so. Just lean back and relax. Everything will fine. You are safe now.

His voice was low, barely more than a whisper as he continued to reassure her.

Yes. My name is Issilk. She, who worked wonders with her healing powers, is Nightfall. The gentleman standing next to her is named Previn. After throwing you your horse ran into the night. One of us will look for him in the light of day. As for your sword and pack, I know not. Most likely they will be found where you sustained your injuries. Again, we will look in the light of day.

Seeing that the blanket Nightfall had spread across them had fallen to one side Issilk reached out and straightened it. After gently brushing a stray lock of hair away from her wound he whispered in her ear.

There there. Just relax. Rest will heal all. Now my lady, if you would be so kind, what is your name?


Mon Mar 10, 2003 9:28 pm
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Elise felt unaccountably calm and safe as Issilk whispered into her ear, reassuring her. Then Issilk asked her her name and she blushed slightly as she realized how remiss she had been. Her voice was soft as she replied.

Oh, I am sorry. My name is Elise. By the way, I should have thanked you for saving me as you did...it was most kind of you to help a stranger. I shall have to thank Lady Nightfall as well. So tell me, my Lord, how did the three of you come to be here as you did?

While Elise awaited Issilk's reply, Nightfall returned with the promised cup of tea. As Elise looked at the woman who had healed her, she was struck by the woman's unusual beauty...as well as the melodic sound of her voice. Elise reminded herself that it would be rude to ask the woman what type of creature she was, but perhaps Issilk would be able to tell her later on. Elise accepted the cup of tea which was offered to her as she smiled with what she hoped would be perceived as gratitude. As she did, Nightfall spoke to her, telling her that she would need to place a sling around the injured arm so that it would finish healing properly. The woman's touch was gentle as she fastened a sling around Elise's shoulder, and as she did so, Elise spoke to her.

Lady Nightfall...I...I just wanted to say thank you for all that you have done for me.

Lady Nightfall paused in her work long enough to give Elise the sweetest of smiles, before reminding Elise that it was late and she needed to rest. Then Nightfall returned to the area by the fire where blankets were spread upon the ground and where Previn was waiting for her.

Elise sipped slowly at the warm cup of tea which she had been given. The taste was very unusual, although it was not unpleasant. Elise then settled herself back against Issilk and awaited his answer to her question.


Wed Mar 12, 2003 6:31 pm
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After telling Previn that the woman needed rest, she continued to tell him that she would make a tea which would help in the her healing as well as help her rest. Previn gave her the most loving of smiles before replying that he would be in their bed, awaiting her. After Previn went and layed back down in their makeshift pallet by the fire, Nightfall dug in her pack and found the herbs she was looking for...as well as a cup.

She poured some of the water which had been set by the fire to warm into the cup, as she then measured out sufficient quantities of the tea, chamomile, and echinacea and wrapped them in a piece of linen and set it to steeping in the cup. When the tea was the proper color, Nightfall removed the linen with the herbs and rose gracefully to her feet. She took the cup of tea as well as the large piece of Previn's shirt which she intended to use as a sling, and headed back over to where Issilk and the young woman sat talking softly. The two of them fell silent as she approached and Nightfall spoke gently to the woman.


Here is the tea which I said I would make for you. It will help you to relax so that you can sleep and it will help the healing process as well. Before you drink it though, I need to fasten a sling around your sore shoulder so that it will heal properly.

Nightfall handed the woman the tea, and as she knelt to fasten the sling around the woman's shoulder, she spoke to Nightfall, thanking her. Nightfall smiled warmly at the woman and spoke softly to her.

It's late....and you should rest. I'll check on you again in the morning.

Nightfall then smiled at Issilk and walked back to where Previn lay waiting for her, in their bed by the fire. Nightfall layed down gracefully by him and snuggled close, closing her eyes and waiting for sleep to overtake her still-weary body.


Wed Mar 12, 2003 6:40 pm
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Hush for now. What you need is rest. Morning will come soon enough and with it there will be much time for us to converse and me to answer your questions.

Elise's spirit was restless from the all to recent injuries and turmoil. Her body tossed and turned seeking ever elusive comfort. After what seemed to Issilk to be an eternity she stilled. Her pulse slowed and her body warmed, finally reaching the rest she so deservedly needed.

Issilk did not sleep that night. Despite Elise's restless movements he remained still, his arms gently holding her, providing comfort. While most of his injuries had dulled to a bare throb his broken rib gave pain that bore into his soul with every breath. Complicating matters was that in her sleep Elise's lithe body was resting firmly against the injury. Every time Issilk moved her to a less painful spot she rolled back.

When the tendrils of dawn were just beginning their invasion of the day Issilk heard Previn's voice whispering in his ear.

Come my friend. The day is nearly upon us and with it time to look for the mysterious lady's possessions and investigate the scene of the attack.


Tue Mar 18, 2003 6:30 pm
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By the time Nightfall came back to bed Previn had slipped into a deep restful sleep. With this sleep came dreams. Though one of the dreams was much more a memory.

It was a winter's afternoon. The sky was clear. The sun warmed his back as his breath steamed in the chill air. He was running. Four legs striding long. Gliding. Hooves cutting into the frosty tundra, bits of earth cascading with every step. The tattoo on his lower back sung with power. It's magic coursed through his veins allowing his transformation into centaur form.

Just like that the dream was gone and Previn lay awake. As he extricated himself from Nightfall's nocturn embrace he whispered to her.

My love. Issilk and I are going to investigate what happened last night. Do not worry, we shall return as soon as possible.

After gathering Issilk and their gear the two friends made their way to the attack site. It was a gory scene. The bodies, or in some cases parts of bodies, that Issilk had left behind were frightening due to the amount of destruction each had received. To make matters worse, and also more disturbing, night time scavengers had already begun to work on the corpses.

Elise's pack and weapon lay right where she had fallen. Her horse however, was no where to be seen. The trail Elise and her pursuers had made through the forest was easy to track in the mornings light. Previn and Issilk hiked for several hours following the trail. When, by midmorning, there was no end in sight they turned and made their way back to camp, arriving tired and hungry.

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Tue Mar 18, 2003 6:44 pm
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Elise smiled softly, knowing that Issilk was right when he said that she needed rest...for the tea had done much to relax her and she felt a weariness throughout her entire body that could not be ignored. However, for all of the weariness, Elise's body ached as if it had been run over by a horde of wild horses....so it was after much squirming and tossing that she finally found the peace of sleep once more.

Elise slept for several hours, quite peacefully, until the nightmares began to plague her. For some reason, they did not arrive until after Issilk had left her lying by herself, having gone off with Previn. Elise's sleep became increasingly restless, until she sat straight up with a start, gasping in terror. She looked around her with eyes widened with fear, until she realized that she was safe and among friends.

Elise's breathing started to slow as the adrenalin left and she looked around wondering where the men had gotten off to, for both Issilk and Previn were nowhere to be seen. She saw that Nightfall still slept soundly near the remnants of the previous night's fire, and smiled as she saw the peaceful expression the beautiful woman wore in her sleep.

Elise looked towards the east, where the sun seemed to have only recently risen above the horizon. It was still early, but she knew that she would be able to sleep no more. Her body ached and her insides reminded her of the need to relieve herself. Moving slowly, Elise stretched in effort to relieve her body of some of the stiffness from sleeping upon the ground. Then, she untangled herself from the blanket and rose unsteadily to her feet. As she did so, her vision blurred momentarily and her surroundings seemed to swim for a moment before she blinked a few times and found that everything was ok once more.

Elise slowly made her way to the far side of the camp and being careful not to travel too far, she found a bush which she could use to shield herself while she took care of her personal needs. When that task was accomplished, she walked slowly back to the camp, carefully picking up pieces of dried twigs and branches with her good arm, and somehow managing to carry them in the sling that Nightfall had made for her. She intended to see if she could restart the fire which had died down to nothing more than some glowing embers....assuming that both men had gone to hunt for their breakfast. If that was indeed the case, then a fire would prove useful. And if that were not the case, it would at least provide a little more warmth for Nightfall.


Wed Mar 19, 2003 7:36 pm
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Nightfall slept soundly even when Previn rose from their bed and whispered into her ear. It was not until some time after Elise had woken and stirred the fire that Nightfall finally drifted up from the depths of sleep. She reached for her beloved, and finding his place in their bed to be empty, her eyes fluttered open. Nightfall looked about, and spying Elise sitting near the fire that was burning warmly, she smiled. Her voice was soft and musical as she spoke.

Good morning to you. I take it that you are feeling somewhat better for having rested? I know that I certainly am! By the way, did you happen to notice where Previn and Issilk went? After we break our fast, I will examine your wounds once more to see how they are healing.

As Nightfall spoke, she rose slowly from her bed and stretched langorously. As she reflected upon the events from the previous night, it occurred to her that perhaps Previn and Issilk had gone off in search for Elise's missing mount and equipment. It was either that or they had gone off in search of food. The more that Nightfall thought about it however, the more certain she was that it was the former that had taken the men away from the camp. As Nightfall awaited Elise's reply, she set about the task of tidying up the camp site. Just as she had finished that task, the men reappeared...both of them looking somewhat fatigued. Noting the lack of food in their hands, Nightfall realized that it would likely fall to her and Elise to provide the sustenance for their breakfast. There would be time enough for that momentarily though, right now, she waited for one of the men to speak and relate the tale of their actions.


Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:59 pm
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Scratched and bramble torn Previn and Issilk made their way into camp. As it was late morn the sun was high upon the sky. That, and the exertion of hiking, had brought beads of sweat to Previn's forehead. As mountain streams meander so did the droplets of persperation. As they fell across his cheeks and slid round his temples they left tracks in the dirt on his face.

Their search had proved fruitless and the two long lost friends were somewhat downtrodden as they had each held hidden desires of grand success. Though as soon as Previn eyes met his lady loves gaze all sour thoughts were forgotten, turned to ash in the flames of love that burned in her perfect azure eyes.

For a long silent moment the world was lost to Previn. All that existed for that time was Nightfall and his love for her. The moment was abruptly sundered by the loud involuntary growl of his stomach. With a sheepish look he broke his gaze with Nightfall and looked to their wounded guest. She met his look with a smile.

In the light of day Previn could see that she was an attractive young woman, thoroughly outshined by Nightfall, but pretty nonetheless. Her face was somewhat battererd and bruised around the edges, but full of honest goodness and integrity.

All of a sudden her eyes grew wide and she gasped, drawing herself back, her hands scrabbling to where a sword should have hung at her waist. Following her frantic gaze Previn whirled about, dropping low and drawing his sword.

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Fri May 02, 2003 11:03 pm
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Despite their search being fruitless Issilk felt his step growing lighter with every stride. The morning had been enjoyable. Of course after being trapped underground as a statue any time spent out of doors in the sunshine should be regarded as heavenly. What had made it even nicer was getting to spend time with his true friend Previn. The sweetest part though was the knowledge that each step closer to camp brought him closer to Elise.

Although he had barely met the lady the night before Issilk was rapidly becoming smitten. He didn't really even know her, but the every thought of her brought a smile to his lips and a sparkle to his blue eyes. As he and Previn neared camp Issilk's heart was singing so loudly that the song of the birds overhead went unheard in his ears.

He saw lady Nightfall first. Her eyes were bright with promise and love for Previn. One stride further his eyes lit upon Elise. Despite her somewhat bedraggled appearance she looked angelic to Issilk. She was gazing upon Previn with an impish grin, as is she knew something that no one else did. Then her head turned slightly and her eyes threw wide, a gasp escaping her rose lips.

Previn reacted first, he had always been the quicker of the two of them. Whirling, his sword in hand he was ready to face the threat. For an instant, only an instant, Issilk began to turn, to see what was threatening them. Then he realized where Elise's gaze lay. When she had looked at him she saw the stony faced monster that he had been forced to become.

Issilk's head lowered as a huge lump formed in his throat. His bright blue eyes fell to grey.


Fri May 02, 2003 11:27 pm
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Nightfall gazed upon her beloved as he walked back into their camp with eyes bright and full of love. Each time he was away from her side and then returned to her, it was as if she were experiencing their reunion all over again. She would never grow weary of seeing his handsome visage, nor his tender smiles as he sought her out immediately upon each return to her. It was with great reluctance that she held herself back from running to him and throwing herself into his arms. She knew that such a display would be more than unseemly.

As Previn finally tore his gaze from her, her eyes followed his as they drifted towards their injured friend, Elise. Elise greeted his return with a warm, friendly smile...abeit a somewhat shy one. Nightfall was at a momentary loss to understand the somewhat frightened gasp that Elise uttered, and she quickly followed to turn her gaze towards the direction the young woman was looking. Nightfall's eyes lit upon Issilk, and her heart ached to think that the young woman was making so much of their dear friend's appearance....and it ached even more at the realization that it was her fault. Had she been capable of totally reversing the spell, she would have been able to return his full humanity to him. But she had not. She had failed. And now the pain that Issilk was suffering was because of her. In her pain, or perhaps because of her sense of failure, a sharp retort formed upon her lips before she was fully aware of what she was saying.

Elise, how could you?! That person is the one who saved your life, and this is how you repay him?! I would have thought you would show your gratitude in a far more exemplary way than this! Issilk risked his life to save you, brought you to me so that you could be healed, and now you embarrass him in such a manner!

As Nightfall spoke, blue sparks began to flash within her eyes even as they began to dance around the tips of her fingers....so great was her ire. It wasn't until Previn regained his wits from Nightfall's attack upon Elise that he placed a hand gently upon her shoulder and whispered into her ear that Nightfall ceased her tirade and fell silent gazing miserably at the ground which lay at her feet.


Sat May 03, 2003 11:27 pm
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Elise heard footsteps in the trees near the campsite a moment or two before her eyes lit upon Previn. As could be expected, Previn's first thought was to search out Nightfall, loving smile upon his face. He then turned his gaze towards her and she smiled what she hoped was a winsome smile at him. She had not known any of this trio very long, but she quickly found that she could not help but like them. It had been a very long time since she had met people who were so truly generous and giving as the three of them were.

It was mere moments before her eyes fell upon the form of the one who had to have been responsible for saving her life....Issilk. Despite something unusual about his appearance, Elise thought that she had never seen such a handsome man in all of her life. Then, movement behind Issilk, in the forest caught her attention and the sight that she thought she had seen caused her to gasp and reach towards the area where her sword should have been. Previn, moving faster than many men she had seen, was the first to react, spinning and drawing his sword in one smooth motion, he searched for the threat which had caused her to gasp. He must have failed to see what she had seen though, because he then turned questioning eyes towards her.

Nightfall turned as well, and apparently didn't see anything out of the ordinary either, because the next thing that Elise knew, she was yelling at her about embarrassing Issilk. Elise looked at her with eyes full of confusion before a snuffling sound from the woods behind Issilk caught her attention. That was all she needed to move into action. She quickly picked up a brand from the fire and ran past Issilk towards the forest, directly in the path of a very large black bear that was running towards his back. So, she'd been right after all! She thought she'd caught a glimpse of a bear as they returned, and here he was....looking incredibly large and hungry on top of it!

Elise yelled and waved her arms with the burning brand for all she was worth, hoping to distract the bear from Issilk, and draw him towards her until someone could do something about the beast. She hoped that the burning wood in her hand would keep him far enough from her that she would not be injured, while capturing it's attention. The bear looked at her and roared as it rose up onto it's haunches and prepared to do battle with her.

Elise, suffering a momentary lack in judgement, due to her feelings for Issilk after the tender night they had shared, dared a look back to make sure that he would be safe. Unfortunately, the bear chose that moment to strike out with one very large, dangerous paw. It hit a glancing blow to the side of her head, but it was enough to stun her and set the world around her to spinning. By the time her vision began to clear, she saw nothing but a set of very sharp teeth coming directly towards her. She wasted little time in using the burning piece of wood to defend herself, hitting the bear squarely on the side of the head with the burning end. The animal roared in pain and dropped down to all fours as he began to head back into the woods at a run.

Elise managed to turn around and immediately her gaze sought out Issilk. She smiled with evident relief to find him unharmed and then a weakness overtook her. Her knees grew weak and her surroundings grew dim as she slowly fell to the ground, unconscious. The combination of the emotional and physical strain had been too much for her already weakened stamina to be able to contend with.

Elise had only run from a fight a very few times in her life, and the timing of her faint could not have been more fortuitious for she had little desire to view the hurt in Issilk's eyes, or to face the wrath of Nightfall again. Had she been able to have any say in the matter, she would have chosen to pass out. The choice was not given to her...however, the fates did smile upon her as they granted her a blissful reprieve.


Sat May 03, 2003 11:30 pm
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Elise was quick. Very quick. Nearly a blur as she passed him Previn could feel the heat from the fire brand she wielded. By the time he managed to turn his head to follow her path she was already in front of bear, going toe to toe. Two strides towards her and the battle was over. Elise crumpled to ground from a heavy blow to the head. The bear fleeing, its singed fur giving off an awful odor.

Sheathing his unused sword Previn motioned for Issilk to help him carry Elise back to the bed roll. After gently placing her back on the rough blankets he looked to see Nightfall slowed by chagrin. Her wits were quickly regained however and she once again began working on the wounded young woman.

Issilk loomed over both the ladies, his mind seemingly slowed by the events of the past few minutes. Gently taking his arm by the elbow Previn guided the stone warrior away from Nightfall and Elise.

Come my friend. Drop Elise's sword and pack there by the fire and let us go forage for some food. Tis something we should have already done during our morning jaunt.

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Wed May 07, 2003 6:39 pm
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Guided by his friends strong hand Issilk left camp to help forage. He was exhausted by the emotional highs and lows that he had experienced over the past ten minutes or so. From expectant joy at seeing Elise once again to devastated hope at her reaction back to radiant warmth at her protecting him. Never before had he had his emotions so twisted so quickly. Mercifully for Issilk when all was said and done the feelings that were left were of a positive nature.

Not paying attention to his environ Issilk was a rather noisy hunting companion and several times he spooked their prey just before Previn was to make the kill. Finally, standing in a sun dappled grove of young oaks Previn made his displeasure known.

Listen my friend, you are normally a fair to good hunter, but today you are worse than useless. Three times now I have just about caught our breakfast only to have your bumbling about scare the creature. Now, if you were able to scare it to death that would be one thing. As it is though, all you are doing is making my meal run faster and further away. Look, either you will need to work with me or I shall have to try to feed us on my own.

Issilk stood silently for an uncomfortable period of time. When he finally did speak his response caught Previn totally by suprise.

No.

What do you mean no? We have to eat. My stomach is grumbling already as I am sure is Nightfall's. And Elise needs to eat to gain her strength. How can you say no?

No.

Well, fine. No it is. Though instead of just saying no do you have another solution to the problem of our hunger?

It was with a twinkle of clear blue eye that Issilk replied to his friends last question.

Yes.

I have a solution that is. Today we willl eat bear.


Holding up a heavy hand Issilk stopped Previn's protest before it began.

Tis simple really. The bear caused me to doubt Elise. For that it must die. It wounded the young lady and for that it must provid sustenance for her to recover from her wounds. See. Simple.


Wed May 07, 2003 6:59 pm
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All Previn could do was shake his head. Issilk's logic was somewhat sound, but hunting bear was never an easy proposition. Knowing his friend though meant that hunting bear was what they were going to do. For when Issilk made a decision that is what was going to occur.

The bear was suprisingly easy to track. Despite his somewhat limited wood craft skills even Issilk was able to follow its trail. Previn laughed to himself as he mused that having the bear often rub it's burnt head on tree trunks did tend to make things significantly easier than they normally would have been.

They finally managed to overtake the beast near a small stream in which it was catching a meal. With no regard to overtaking the creature with silence Issilk drew forth his weapon and set its massive spiked balls to whirling. As he did so birds overhead stopped their warbling. The bear stood tall on it's hind legs and roared a challenge to the human that was opposing it. Near six feet tall at the shoulder it was truly an impressive specimen.

Turning to Previn before beginning the battle Issilk cautioned his friend.

Strike only for the beast's head. He has a fine pelt and I intend to take it undamaged.

The fight was suprisingly easy. The bear charged and managed to make only one swipe before a twenty pound ball of steel collided with it's head, staving in it's skull and causing instant death. Truly a lucky blow, but then again, luck does have it's place.

Working together the two friends dragged the dead animal a short distance from the stream. Drawing a sharp long knife Issilk began the careful process of skinning the beast as Previn carved hunks of meat from it's carcass.

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Wed May 07, 2003 7:20 pm
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Nightfall felt several emotions at once as she watched Elise fight the bear...among the foremost were awe of the woman's courage as well as embarrassment at having berated Elise for a mistaken assumption on Nightfall's own part. It wasn't until the men had placed Elise back onto the bedroll for her to tend to the girl that Nightfall began to be herself again. It didn't take long for her to assess the young woman and determine that she simply needed to rest and regain her strength. When the girl awakened again later, there would be plenty of time for her to apologize to her for the tongue-lashing she'd given to her. Nightfall hoped that the girl would be able to understand the misunderstanding and to forgive her for it.

As Nightfall tended to the fallen young woman, she noted that Previn and Issilk were once again leaving the camp. She assumed that they were going off to forage for food....food that would come in very handy for helping Elise to regain some of her strength. In the meanwhile, Nightfall decided that she would boil some herbs and make a tea for Elise. The girl was running a low temperature, and the tea would help to keep it from getting any higher. Until the water was ready however, Nightfall contented herself with mopping the girl's brow with a cloth which had been moistened from the nearby lake. The water was cool and would assist in bringing the temperature down as well. Occasionally, as the cloth grew warm, Nightfall would trek to the lake again, to re-wet the cloth with more of the cooling water. Until the men returned and Elise woke up, there was nothing more that she could do. The girl's own natural healing ability would have to take over for right now....and rest would serve to quicken the process.

After what must have been an hour or two, Nightfall heard sounds coming from the forest again. Her heart started pounding for fear that the bear had decided to return and finish what it had started that morning. However, as Nightfall watched the forest carefully, she soon caught sight of Previn and Issilk returning, their arms laden. Nightfall rose silently from where she had been tending the girl and walked towards the men, her eyes full of questions. As she looked from one to the other, she could swear that was a bear's pelt in Issilk's arms. But that would have meant....no....surely they weren't foolish enough to track down a wounded bear...were they??


Tue May 13, 2003 11:24 pm
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Elise slept until the sun had dropped considerably in the sky and until long after the tantalizing scent of roasting bear meat had begun to permeate the area. If she had to pinpoint the one thing that had awakened her, she would have sworn that it was the smell of the food cooking. Her stomach rumbled at the scent and her lips fairly watered at the thought of eating. She rose slowly from where she had been placed on the bedroll and looked around her slowly. Some distance away from the fire, probably so their talk wouldn't disturb her, sat her three new comrades. They were chatting quietly together and briefly Elise wondered if they were discussing her?

As if he felt the weight of her eyes upon him, Issilk suddenly looked towards where she had been sleeping. Seeing her sitting up, he immediately rose from his place upon the ground and approached her. This caused the other two, Previn and Nightfall to gaze at her as well, although they remained seated upon the ground. Elise felt suddenly nervous as Issilk approached her and she found herself suddenly wondering if her hair was a mess? Another sidelong glance told her that he was smiling gently at her and as she struggled to rise to her feet, he was suddenly beside her, placing a gently restraining hand upon her good shoulder and warning her to stay seated. She acquiesced without a second thought, still feeling very weak....and still very nervous. Seeking to say something to break the silence between them, Elise found her voice and managed to speak.


Have.....have I been sleeping long? I...I think that I fainted....I'm sorry if I worried everyone. Is Nightfall still upset with me?


Tue May 13, 2003 11:27 pm
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Have no worry. You have been unconscious for a while, but everything is fine. You are safe and appear to be recovering nicely. Lady Nightfall has no cause to be angry with you. Earlier was just a simple misunderstanding. Please forgive her.

With a gentle strong hand Issilk brushed a stray lock of hair from her face. Tired as she was her eyes were clear and lit by a wonderful brightness. Using his other hand he lowered himself to the ground beside her. As he did his broken rib twinged, but it didn't hurt nearly so much as it should have.

Seeing that she did not recoil from his brushing back her hair Issilk touched her jaw, his fingers trailing forward in gentle caress coming to rest just shy of her chin. His vibrant blue orbs gazing directly into her eyes.

My lady, I must confess that I am most impressed by your presence. You have the radiant beauty of a rose of full bloom. One must only gaze upon your gentle soul to realize that. And yet you manage to retain the rose's thorns and imbue them with grace, elegance and fire. Proof of this can be see by the valour in which you routed that fierce opponent, the ferocious bear.

Taking his hand from her chin the grey warrior rose to one knee. With head bowed he spoke with a low strong voice.

Lady Elise, I have now been twice honored by you. The first time in your allowing me to defeat those brigands who had given you chase. The second, when you fended off that horrible terror that had decided to make me his dinner. My lady, I am in your debt.


Tue May 20, 2003 10:19 pm
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Elise seemed almost mesmerized as Issilk tenderly brushed a stray strand of hair from her face, and proceeded to caress her cheek as his vivid blue eyes held hers captive. Her heart pounded violently within her chest until she was sure that he must be able to hear its furor. This knowledge as well as the sweet words he spoke caused a crimson blush to infuse her cheeks with color....and yet, she was unable to tear her gaze from his own.

Her mind was reeling as she listened to him speak so gallantly to her. A single glance would never have told her that such a fierce warrior possessed such a tender heart. As Issilk moved to kneel before her and spoke of how she had done him honor and of how he was now in her debt, Elise felt the need to protest...for surely she had been in his debt and had tried to do nothing more than settle the debt she'd owed him. Her voice was soft but full of conviction as she spoke.


Please do not kneel before me. I am but a simple warrior, no different than you. You placed me into your debt when you saved me from those brigands...and a fate worse than death, surely. Furthermore you did so with no thought to your own safety. How could I do any less upon seeing that your life was in danger? I....I would have been sorely grieved had any harm befallen you my lord. I owe you and your companions my life and much more. I know not where you travel, however I would be honored if you would allow me to accompany you upon your journey. I vow that you will not regret such a decision, I can assure you. As long as I draw breath, I vow to protect you and your companions to the best of my ability. Should I fail in my duties, I pray the gods strike me down where I stand. This I vow by all that is sacred and seal with mine own blood.

That said, Elise deftly removed a small dirk that Issilk wore in his belt, and before he could stop her, she made a small cut in the palm of her hand and allowed a few drops of her precious life's blood to fall into the fire which burned next to her. She then wiped the dirk clean upon the linen of her pants and returned it to him, haft first. She then gazed at him with her bright blue eyes, waiting for the words of censure which she felt sure would be forthcoming at having made such a vow and sealing it with her blood. In truth though, Elise had feared that they would leave her behind when she was fully recovered, and that thought made her heart ache curiously. She did not know what it was between her and Issilk, all she knew was that she could not bear to be parted from his side. The blood oath was the only way that she could try to ensure that he would allow her to accompany him and the others when they resumed their journey.

Elise thought back to the words of the soothsayer she'd encountered several days ago. The old woman had told her that if she headed towards the forest which lay several miles outside of town, that she would find her destiny. As Elise sat there, she realized that the old woman's words had been true, for she felt in her heart that her destiny lie with Issilk. She felt an immeasurable sense of pride at knowing that her destiny had been irrevocably entwined with such an honorable warrior....one who was so fierce and yet so tender at the same time. Such a man was truly a rare find in these troubled times, and Elise gave silent thanks to the gods that they'd seen fit to bring such a man into her life. She did not care about his looks, nor did she care where he was headed. All that mattered to her was that she be at his side. She had seen the tenderness within his heart, and it had swept her off of her feet. She cared not that his skin bore a peculiar look to it. He could have been horribly disfigured and she would have felt the same about him. The fates had smiled upon her the day that they had brought him into her life, and she would do nothing to change that. Elise felt surprised by the realization of the depth of her feelings for him, and prayed that he could come to care for her as well. And if he never returned her emotions, that would change nothing. She would still keep her vow...and would continue to care for him.

As Elise sat there, her stomach growled hungrily, a ready reminder that she'd not eaten anything at all that day. She blushed crimson again, as the aroma of the cooking meat fairly made her mouth water and as she realized that he'd must have heard her stomach. Gazily at the ground, rife with embarrassment, she stumbled as she spoke.


I....I don't suppose that supper is ready is it?


Thu May 22, 2003 2:26 pm
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Previn couldn't supress a smile. Looking at the was Issilk and Elise were gazing at each other brought back memories of the way he and Nightfall had looked at each other. Shy glances full of fear and longing. Giddy uncertainty filled with boundless optimism. The joy and thrill of fresh love. Things were different between he and Nightfall now. By no means was their love less. Actually it had grown daily ever since their first meeting. Even given their long separation they felt more strongly about each other then they had ever before. No, their love was not weaker, just different.

Gone was the uncertainty that new lovers feel. It was replaced by the comfort and fulfillment in that each of them knew that the other would always be there for them. That is not to say that they didn't still feel giddyness when looking into each others eyes. Nay. They most certainly did feel the flames of passion burning hot for each other. It was just that through their years together they each knew exactly how to stoke those flames.

To an outsider Previn's and Nightfall's relationship would appear to be odd. Most noticibly was their age difference. Nightfall looked to be in her early twenties and Previn in his early forties. When they first met they had been the same age, give or take a few months. But, after a politically inspired kidnapping attempt and a freakishly bizarre exile, in which Previn met Issilk, they now were of vastly different ages. It didn't bother them. For each of them knew that the other was their soulmate.

Nightfall got up to stir the food. Previn couldn't help himself and didn't even try to keep from staring at her. She moved with a lithe elegance that should have seemed out of place here in the wilderness, but instead was perfectly normal. The sway when she walked, her curves, everything about her was mesmerizing. After stirring their dinner Nightfall looked back to say something. But before she did she caught him staring and smiled, a mischevious glint in her eye.

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Mon May 26, 2003 10:43 pm
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Nightfall's gaze followed her beloved's as he watched Elise and Issilk converse near the fire. It was plain to her that the two were falling in love and that thought gladdened her. Though she knew little about Elise, she knew enough to realize that the young woman bore a good heart and that she would make a good match for their friend Issilk who had suffered more than his share of hardship over the years. Nightfall also realized that she owed Elise an apology for the way that she had lashed out at the young woman over a misunderstanding upon her part. She was ashamed that she had jumped to conclusions the way that she had however, she had not fully realized the extent of goodness which Elise possessed at the time. That mistake would not happen again, Nightfall silently vowed.

The aroma of the cooking food, drifted to Nightfall, and she realized she ought to tend to it. It was obvious that Issilk and Elise were far too caught up with each other to pay the food any mind even though they sat closest to it. A glance at Previn also told her that he was lost within the realm of his own thoughts. Therefore, if their dinner was not to burn, it was up to her to tend to it. She rose gracefully from her place upon the ground and moved to the opposite side of the fire from where Elise and Issilk sat, in effort to preserve their privacy. She carefully kept her attention focused upon the savory bear stew that was simmering and away from the two love birds. Seeing that the stew was now ready, Nightfall turned to signal to Previn. She stopped though, as she caught Previn's gaze and the heat of his impassioned stare fairly took her breath away. She smiled promisingly at him, a mischievious glint to her own eyes. In that single glance between them, volumes were spoken. An invitation had been issued and accepted without hesitation...for later that evening, they knew that they would go off and seek some privacy and in the doing, provide a bit of much needed privacy for Elise and Issilk. Such was the benefit of having been together so long...Previn and she needed no words to convey their thoughts to each other. Nightfall was still somewhat amazed at the way that a single look from Previn could set her heart to racing and the blood pounding heatedly through her veins.

Finally remembering that the stew was now ready, Nightfall turned back to the fire and began dishing it out into one of their bowls. She then rose and walked slowly towards Previn, allowing her hips to sway seductively as she did so....knowing full well how such a simple movement could fire her beloved's own blood. She presented the bowl to Previn with a mischievious wink and a langorous smile before walking slowly back towards the fire once more, fully aware that his eyes continued to follow her every movement.

Nightfall began dishing the thick stew into another bowl but was hesitant to interrupt Issilk and Elise, until she happened to hear Elise speak of food. Nightfall smiled softly as she considered briefly whom to give this second bowl to. However, she thought she knew enough of Issilk's ways to know that he would not accept any food until Elise had been served, and so that was to whom she silently gave the second bowl. Nightfall smiled tenderly at Elise as she did so, so that the young woman would realize that there were no hard feelings on Nightfall's part. The young woman accepted the bowl gracefully with her good arm and smiled shyly at Nightfall as she did so.

That done, Nightfall skillfully dished up another bowl which she presented to Issilk, before finally dishing out her own portion of the succulent bear stew which she took over by Previn to sit down and eat. As she ate silently, Nightfall's mind continued to think upon things which concerned both of the couples. An instinctive match-maker, Nightfall found herself wishing that they could find a town in possession of a comfortable inn so that they might spend at least one evening in relative comfort and privacy. The more she thought of it, the more intense the desire became to find a town soon. Nightfall said nothing to Previn of her desires for she knew that he was as ignorant of the area as was she, herself. Nightfall continued to ponder the problem of figuring out the direction in which the nearest town might lie, and as she did so, a now-familiar voice spoke in her mind...and as it did so, she unsconsciously stiffened and fell into a trance.


Nightfall, I have assisted you time and again when you needed me most. Now the time has come for you to serve me. You and your companions must travel to the town of Shiroth which lies but half a day's walk east of where you now camp. During your stay there, all will be made known to you. Do not fail me in the task which I am setting before you.

Nightfall felt the presence of the god Foret leave her as abruptly as it had entered. She came out of the trance, shaking her head slowly and blinking her eyes for the presence of the god always left her feeling slightly drugged.


Fri May 30, 2003 3:19 pm
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Almost as if by magic Nightfall appeared with dinner. Steaming bowls of bear stew. They ate in near silence, Issilk and Elise, small murmurs of enjoyment the only exception. After finishing their meal they lay back, Elise held in Issilk's strong grey arms, enjoying the soft breeze.

Leaning close the stone warrior kissed her temple and whispered in her ear.

I know this is going to sound odd and I would prefer not to reveal why I ask. Just trust me for a short while and all will be revealed. Now, milady, would you happen to have a single coin that could spare until tommorrow? The denomination is irrelevant and it will be returned to you.


Wed Jun 04, 2003 10:30 pm
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By some quirk of fate, it was almost as if Nightfall had heard her speak of supper....for as soon as Elise made her inquiry, there appeared Nightfall, bowl in hand.....sweet smile upon her face. Elise smiled most gratefully as she accepted the bowl of savory-smelling stew from Nightfall and murmured her thanks to the lovely healer. Moments later, Nightfall returned, with a bowl which she now presented to Issilk.

The two of them ate their stew in relative silence...enjoying the wonderful stew almost as much as each other's company. When they had finished eating, Issilk insisted upon taking their bowls and putting them in a pile to be cleaned later....refusing to allow her to see to the chore now.

Instead, he cradled her close and she loved the feeling of being held close in his arms. As the two of them layed together, a soft breeze moved over their skin....caressing them and stars began to appear overhead. Elise was somewhat surprised when Issilk suddenly moved closer to her and tenderly pressed his lips to her temple just before whispering softly into her ear. For a moment, Elise was far too taken aback with the kiss to focus properly on what he was saying. As a crimson blush crept hotly up her cheeks, she finally remembered to pay attention to what he was saying...and when the words sunk in, she was surprised again. What on earth would he require coin for, in wilderness such as they were in? Of course, Elise trusted Issilk implicitly, and she cared little if the coin was returned or not. She blinked at him in apparent confusion....but reached into the pocket of her trousers to produce a single copper coin. As she gave him the coin, she spoke.


I'm afraid that all I have are a few coppers. I spent the rest of it in the town where I bought supplies....which are now lost. I hope that it will do. Are you sure that all you need is one? And don't worry about repaying me....it's the least I could do for you....you and your friends have done so much for me already.

Elise turned a bit and smiled shyly at Issilk as she handed him the single copper coin. As the flames from the fire flickered over his face, she was stricken again by how handsome he was. And then she remembered the feel of his lips as they had touched her temple and her body began to tingle all over again.


Wed Jun 04, 2003 11:28 pm
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Previn was snuggled up next to Nightfall, his body curved close, enjoying her warmth and scent. Dinner had been wonderful and sitting here in the open air was incredibly relaxing. His eyes were closed when he heard Issilk discreetly clearing his throat. Not wanting his rather enjoyable moment to disappear Previn opened one just a slit.

With a whisper and a motion Issilk called him away from the ladies. Once they were out of whispered earshot Issilk asked him

Do you have still have the bag that I gave you in the tomb?

Well, umm yes. I do. Do you need it?

No. I have no need of it. But here, take this coin and put it in the bag. In morning please return the coin to me.

Previn's look was most certainly quizzical, but he did as his friend asked.

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Mon Jun 09, 2003 10:59 pm
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After supper, the dishes seen to by Nightfall, she and Previn relaxed by the fire. Their stomachs were full, and the warmth from the fire left them feeling almost drugged as it embraced them. Nightfall had almost fallen asleep, when she felt Previn stir beside her. He was gone only a few moments, before he returned to her side. Too content to care what had taken him briefly from her side, Nightfall did not question him. Instead though, she did turn towards him and she spoke quietly of what had happened to her during supper.

Previn, something happened during supper. I...I was visited by Foret again. He has laid a task before me....us....though I know not exactly what it is. He said only that come dawn, we must break camp and travel east to the town of Shiroth. He said that it's only about a half a day's walk from where we are now camped....and that we would know what needs to be done when we arrive there. He gave no further indication of what it was or how long it would take. You know that we must do this....though I leave it to your discretion whether you tell the others tonight or in the morning.

As she had spoken, Nightfall watched Previn's face for any hint of his reaction to this news. As she watched, she saw a thoughtful look come over him. He was silent for several long moments, before he finally spoke.


Wed Jun 11, 2003 5:16 pm
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Leaving Previn with a perplexed look on his face Issilk made his way back to where Elise was sitting and watching him intently. Dropping to one knee he took her cut hand in his and gently folded her fingers inward, covering the slice in her palm. His head bowed before her as he finished composing his thoughts.

Milady, First let me apologize for not addressing your vow immediately. Time was needed to compose my thoughts. I would not want you for a moment to think that I did not take you seriously nor that I was not moved by your words or gesture. I am sorry though, that you felt the need to injure yourself as proof of the validity of your feelings. Please have no doubt that your word would have been far sufficient.

You ask that I not kneel before you. Milady that is a request that I feel unable to fulfill. When in the presence of grace such as yourself I feel compelled to show my honor for you with at least but this simple gesture. For me not to show you this respect would be as if asking the birds not to sing or the sun not to rise. It simply cannot be.

I am honored by your vow to stand by us and protect us with the very life that I now hold so dear, but please, please milady do what you can to keep yourself safe. I cannot, nor will not, ask you to stand aside peaceably when it comes to battle, for I know it is not your nature and I respect your strength too much. But please do not take unnecessary chances. Your safety and well being is of my utmost importance.


Staring deep into her eyes Issilk held his tounge for a long moment before bowing his head and kisssing the back of her hand.

Do you believe in the generosity of Fate?

Without waiting for her response he continued.

I know that until yesterday I did not. I believed that Fate was a farce. Something to be defied and ignored. I thumbed my nose at those who believed in what I considered to be utter rubbish. Fate was nothing. It did not exist. Each person made their own way in life and fell or grew stronger based on the decisions they made.

Yesterday I was proved wrong. Yesterday I realized that not only does Fate exist, for some strange reason it favored me. For surely it was through no great action of mine own that brought me to that pathway in these woods on this world at exactly the right instant to provide succor for you. No. It only could have been fate and none other. For that I must now give thanks to something that I never believed existed. Because of you my world has now been granted a beauty and vibrance that was not there before. Thank you milady and thank you Fate for the bounty that has been granted this poor soldier.


Sun Jun 15, 2003 8:15 pm
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