Archive, 2004

Last night I walked among the ranks of those who have trained under me these many months. I nodded and shook hands and said uplifting words, for our time is coming soon. Some of the gates have fallen or been broken asunder, and our time comes soon to defend. We will do our duty for our families and our world, even for those who still do not believe, for such is our work, and we put all our heart and soul into it.

Needless to say, with such things coming, my mind has been full of thoughts lately; thoughts I have not had, well, since the last time we were called upon. It is strange to me sometimes, how such thoughts fade away for a time, only to return full force when needed. I suppose such activity helps to protect me; if I had to think about such things always, I would not be as healthy mentally as I am.

To ease my thoughts, SC and I flew together a while, as dragon and rider. It was snowing quite heavily, but was not too cold. It was beautiful.

It is a time of testing and trials. The dragons have decided our defenses need to be tested, and thus that is being done. The siege of a couple of weeks ago was one test. The current test involves more indirect attacks, based around stealth and subterfuge, using shapeshifters to mimic races who we know to be friendly, and then launching an attack from within when enough are assembled there. Some of the most recent additions to our ranks have difficulty recognizing shapeshifters as what they really are (easiest to do it by their auras), and these most recent attacks are exploiting that weakness. I can take a hint, but I still believe these men and women have potential; I have to believe in them, even if some of the higher-ups do not seem to. They stay in our ranks for now, and I continue their training. Hopefully their abilities will improve soon; otherwise, they will have to be let go.

One of the grey castles came under siege last night. I'm not sure which one exactly, but a threat to one is a threat to all. When I arrived, the defenses were holding strong, but there was a huge horde advancing on the field. I flew in to the sounds of trebuchets *thwump*ing from the walls and men dying on the fields. I had SC drop me off on the wall, and I went on foot from there to the battlefield, joining my troops in the melee. Our adversaries were demonic creatures, with oversized, muscular man-shaped bodies, and mule-like heads. Sort of like minotaurs, but donkey-faced and -furred, and without the imposing horns. They were wielding large scythe-like weapons. I walked through the friendly ranks, starting to focus my energies before I reached the front lines. As I came to that point, I released a burst, pushing the enemy ranks back a few yards, giving me space to step up beside my allies, and allowing us to advance a short distance. Then the unicorn sword was out, and demons began to fall again. We suffered our losses, but it is always more difficult to attack than defend, and our assailants took the worst casualties by far.

Things are happening in the realms again. I don't have details yet. When I do, they'll be posted. Probably soon.

Received some weapons training of my own back on 4/27. Strange to be the trainee again instead of the trainer, which is my usual role. I trained first with a two-handed sword, which I'm not very good with. My usual weapon is a hand-and-a- half sword; an extra foot of steel changes the fighting style immensely. I trained next with a dagger, which went better, being a weapon more dependent on speed and finesse than physical strength. The third and final weapon I focussed on that night was the quarterstaff. I have always liked using the weapon, and was happy to have a chance to train in its use.

Some more dire events came about a few nights past. I don't recall the exact date. I sat down to a dinner of roast chicken, at the castle, with one of our newer trainees. The man had pale skin, with black hair and dark eyes. His features were angular, with a sharp chin and nose. We shared idle talk while we dined on the chicken, which was very juicy and tasty. At the conclusion of the meal, the man rose and turned, as if to leave; but then he turned back quickly, a short bladed sword in hand, and stabbed at me. I was able to react quickly, pushing back from the table and drawing my own shortsword to block the thrust. I kicked the man in the stomach and then brought him down, tying his hands behind him with a strip of leather. He was later taken in chains to the dark dungeons beneath the castle. As of yet, we do not have many answers to our questions: who sent him, are there others, was I the primary target, or just the only one available? We hope answers will be forthcoming soon.

There's been a lot going on lately, and I haven't posted on hardly any of it. I'll do a little summary here, and maybe expand on some of it later.

The Lady in Red's training continues, and she's making good progress. Only one slip thus far, and it wasn't her fault. Frank made an example of himself, and reminded everyone: don't piss off someone you don't know, especially in the Realms. I comforted the Lady while others buried the ashes with a shovel.

Heather's son has started his training, and he's a quick study, as we all knew he would be. Despite his calm demeanor, he possesses a savage underside, combined with a strong drive to succeed, which makes him a powerful opponent even now. I am a little anxious to see what kind of man and warrior he becomes.

There has been quite a bit of battle lately, on several fronts. I don't possess the information I need to make a proper post about it right now, but I can confirm battle has been joined.

I had an unpleasant experience about a month ago with a man called the Flesh King. He is a wasted man, looking more like a zombie than a human at this point. He captured me while I was in the Realms. I have no memory of the capture, and I'm still not quite sure how it happened. I was being tortured for information, knowing help was on the way, and knowing I just had to wait until they got there, which was hopefully soon. The bastard bit off the end of my right pinky finger, at the knuckle. He prefers the taste of human flesh over all others, hence the name. Not a very pleasant night at all.

Two nights ago, I was vanquishing demons, wielding a sword I'd never seen before that night. It was once an evil sword, and had been converted to our cause, but it still maintained a shred of evil residue. It's name was Soul-something. I cannot remember the full name. The sword had some power over those we were fighting, and it was therefore a better weapon to use against them than my usual sword would have been.

Thus concludes my summary. Hopefully I'll have more to post soon, and it might even be more coherent.

I was tapped into last night, with urgency. It was more like someone trying to bury into my head than just say, "hello". I tried a trace, and found myself in an unknown place. Apparently, this is what it feels like to be summoned. New experience for me. My summoner was a short (4" 10" at most), stocky man with thinning gray hair. His eyes were dark, and there was a shadowy fire burning within. We were in a dark ravine, surrounded by a dark pine forest. The forest is always cloaked in shadow; I know this instinctively, though I never remember being there before. I asked the man who he was, what he wanted. He didn't speak to me, but instead backed up, and became enveloped in shadow. I asked again, but still he was silent, and then he disappeared. SC was with me then, and neither of us knew where we were. This is not as surprising for me, but he almost always knows where he is. I guess this was one of the "almost" times. We didn't know what plane we were on or what it attached to, so we blinked out, instead of flying out, and returned to the castle. Strangeness.

A gathering was called last night. Many powerful figures of the realms were present. There have been probes, touching each of our minds, over the past few days. We have tried to trace these probes individually, but have been unable to find what the source is. For me, the touches have passed between my temples, settling on my 3rd eye steadily over the past couple of days. A few speculations were given: perhaps these were cries for help, or someone trying to "spy" (and doing so quite ineffectually). If spies, the reason for concealing the source is clear; if a cry for help, perhaps the source is hidden by another party. Heather herself was not present, but I consulted her today on what we talked about last night, and she offered some suggestions. We will look into these, and hopefully have some answers soon.

The Woman in Red has begun her training. No one is to enter the training area while she, I, and any other teachers are there. Scott has since made an example of himself by entering without permission, and catching a stream of fire, which engulfed his body and left him black and crispy. I suppose it was bound to happen, with so many coming and going at the castle lately, but please, people, read the sign on the door before you come rushing in. If it is that important, there are other ways to get in touch with us. Thank you for your attention to this. And thank you, Scott, for understanding, and returning to us in such a timely manner.

In years past, a woman walked the dreamworld. "Woman in Red" she was sometimes called, as she always wore something of the color, and it always fit her well. Borne of fire, she is, with a personality to match. Light skin, dark hair, flames in her deep eyes. Her power was chaotic, as she knew not how to control it, and this caused us some grief while she was feeling her way out in the realms. A guardian went to her, to help her, and eventually contained the power, so she was not allowed to have it, until she grew older.

She is now of age, and has been given access to these energies once again. She has accepted my hand in helping her train to use her power in a controlled manner, and so it shall be done. I am not in this alone; the one who trained me in ages past has agreed to watch over her as well, and with our combined efforts, she will become a force to be reckoned with, as the rest of us guardians are. Her training began two nights past, with a formal introduction to the realms, so she may feel in a comfortable environment. It is very important that she be comfortable in this. Unease and confusion can lead to chaos, which is what we are trying to avoid. She also asked my protection, in not so many words, against those who would seek to use her for what she holds, and thus it has been granted. None shall touch her in this. I will remain vigilant until she can confidently take care of her own.

As per Tempest, sentries were posted at the hole we found. Yesterday, around 5 pm EST, it was found that the sentries were missing (we had 2 men there). A hat was found, belonging to one of the men, but nothing else. Tempest posted SC at the hole, and entered to investigate. The men were found shortly thereafter, wandering around, on the other side of the hole, and were fetched back to where SC was set to watch. The men remembered nothing of any ordeal, and neither was harmed. They were sent to the castle to verify all is ok with them. Now three dragons guard the hole, while Tempest and the others decide what to do with it. Any looking to come to our border from that route would do well to be wary...

Patrolled last night. We have found 2 of our objectives, but still have many more to go. Trick wasn't around, but there were 3 new recruits at the castle, from my last training group, who were looking to get out, so I took them with me. Bobby rode alone, Bren and Bryn together. We didn't find any objectives, but near one of our borders, we did find a hole to another location on the same plane. We placed wards in the area, so we'll know if anything comes through, but didn't patch it yet. SC thought Tempest would like to know about the hole, both in location and where it leads, and I think he is right. We'll let the Elder decide what to do with it. If he wants it patched, it will be done. Other than that, nothing else of note to report.

Something broke through a gate between this world and the realms last night. Thankfully we were able to stop it and patch the hole. The worst thing about about the whole ordeal was how quickly it happened. Thankfully we were mobilized and able to stop the possible threat without any injuries or mishaps. Other than this, no news to report.

Son of a bitch. Was forced into combat last night. Trick was on patrol, while I was still awake in this world. The wearers of the broken white leaf brought him down, and swarmed. Plus they had help; some 7' tall or so beings, who wear spiked plate armor and wield heavy maces and flails. He wasn't even in their territory, but on neutral ground. Reinforcements were assembled and sent to help. I was notified immediately, and joined the battle as soon as I could. Once we arrived, the battle didn't last too long, as we had some unexpected help, as well. There were several injuries, and even a few deaths, more on their side than ours. Some of the deaths were new recruits, and I fear this means they will not be returning to the realms for awhile, if at all. It is not a pleasant experience, death, even when it is not permanent. Thankfully, Trick came away bruised, but alive, as well as did his mount.

This has bothered me throughout the day. We did not provoke them into this. Heather was looking into their previous attack, as of a few days ago. I haven't spoken to her since last night. There will be further probing, and from now on no one patrols alone. More when I know more.

Traveled to the castle last night, expecting to meeet a friend there. There were in fact several friends there, much to my surprise. Lately, the gathering hall has been quite empty, as everyone is out doing their jobs from the time they come to the realms until the time they return to whence they came. Trick, who was with me during the ambush a few nights past, was there, soaking up some heat from the fire and enjoying some spiced wine. It was near the end of his night there, so he was kicking back and relaxing before he had to go. Joyce was also there. She works at the castle, mostly, usually helping with the cooking. She's a nice enough lady, but newcomers are sometimes scared of her; she just has a mean look about her.

The friend I was waiting for did arrive, and in time to meet the other two there before they had to go their separate ways. Unfortunately, he did not remember the trip, but that is sometimes the case, especially when one first starts consciously traveling to specific places within the realms. We will try again this coming night. When he becomes more comfortable with the travel, I am certain the memories will be easier to come by.

We searched for our objective this night, but found nothing. As we neared the end of our search time, something was seen on the ground, and we went to investigate. The something turned out to be a decoy, and we were ambushed by enemies in black steel armor. We fended them off (it was just SC, myself, and another dragon and rider), but there were too many to defeat without risking our lives, so their identity remains unknown. There will be more investigation into this. I get a headache trying to remember any symbols or standards worn or carried by our attackers. I may just not remember, but I feel the knowledge is being hidden from me through other means.

And as I wrote that above just now, I get an image of a white leaf, split vertically down the middle and separated into two halves. A broken white leaf on a black background. Nothing else, yet.

And on a side note, I found out the equipment I was wearing a few nights past (see previous post) was the new uniform that Heather dug up for us. Thank you :) Nice to have some sort of common standard to ride under, as we seem to be getting into the thick of it now.

Ground skirmish 2 nights ago, while SC and I were on patrol. The foes were defeated, without much harm to us. SC received a long gash along his right flank, but the healers saw to it quickly. The strangest thing I noticed was my armor: I was dressed in black, including boiled black leather, instead of my usual chainmail over grey tones. The only explaination I've found is that the leather is certainly more comfortable to fight in than chain, though I usually choose protection over comfort...