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Illcara: The First Born War 
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Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:47 pm
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Post Illcara: The First Born War
Im diving back into this story and doing a lot of revisions. I'll post up as Im able, this is what we've got so far. Much more to come.

There comes a time for every warrior when the thought of taking another life is momentarily unbearable. Its at this point that the warrior hangs up his sword, his spear, his bow, and sets to making a new life for himself. Some try to atone for the things they’ve done, others simply die, and some set about making not just a new life but a new world. This was my way.
It had been nearly twelve years since I had taken up a sword or bow or spell. I had a fairly good life. I owned a small tavern with a small shop that sold everything from blades, to books, to minor magical items. Rumors were growing that there might be a war on the horizon. This did not trouble me. There would always be another war. If only I knew then what I know now. I suppose I shall get to that in due time. Im writing this now alone in my journal as I travel. The war has come with such a fury that none can withstand being swept up by it. My life was so peaceful...I guess the old saying is true. Those that live by the sword must die by the sword. So in the end the world spins out of control once more. You must be wondering a bit about your teller of tales. My name is Tarien. I am a Sun Elf of 197. Young in Elven society. I am around what humans would be at 24. I have stopped aging as all First Born do. I suppose I should start my tale from the beginning rather than the middle. My past will come out as it must, but for now let me go to when my involvement in this started...

Chapter 1: A Simple Elf

Tarien sat behind the small counter at the entrance to the tavern, a small black book held loosely in his hand and a glass of mulled red wine on the counter beside him. He was dressed simple enough. The well tailored, close fitting, yet loose, clothing the elves preferred hung off him nicely and the deep green color suited him. Behind him was an array of blades, a few bows, a shield or two, and a glass case that held several daggers, wands, and rings. All of these had at least some small amount of magic. Across from where he sat was an open room that nearly overflowed with books of all sorts. The rest of the small tavern was devoted to tables, a bar, and a small kitchen behind the bar.
It was busy tonight for this tavern had the reputation of having some of the best wine in the city. The food was decent and always hot, and the waitresses didn’t mind a pinch or two if one tipped well enough. Humans mingled with a few Elves and even an Avari who sat close to a window up in the small loft where there was room for only two small tables. There was a room with stairs leading up to it off to the side, but most patrons knew it to be off limits for that was Tarien’s private quarters.
A young elven woman came out of the library and Tarien glanced up only to give her a small smile and a nod. She smiled in return and went back behind the bar. That was Quila, his only elven employee and often bedmate. She had her own small quarters at the edge of town, but everyone expected it to only be a matter of time before she sold those to move in with Tarien. They didn’t understand that in Sun Elven culture it was possible to be nothing more than lovers. Perhaps there would be more, but with life spans as long as the First Born they had nothing but time.
The door opened and a trio of cloaked and hooded men walked through. There was a faint clank that told of heavy armor underneath, and odd bulges that were undoubtably weapon hilts. Tarien looked up slowly from his book and carefully brushed the brown locks of hair out of his eyes. “Greetings gentlemen. Please make yourselves at home and find any table that is open. If you wish to see any of the items back here just ask, I assure you they are all of the highest quality, and if you wish to browse the books in the room off to your right you are more than welcome to do so.” One nodded his thanks, and while the other two walked off to find a table, he stayed and leaned on the counter. Tarien rose to his feet “Is there something you’d like to see?” He shook his head and pushed the cowl back from his cloak.
He was an aged man of about 40, with a heavy mustache and a deep scar across one cheek that told of his experience. “I meant to ask you away from my companions. Have you heard any news? Is this talk of war true? Are the Elves actually talking of an alliance between their kinds?” His voice was tinged with fear and anger and his eyes danced wildly as he studied Tarien. He didn’t like where this was going.
“Come now good sir. I have not seen the Elven lands for many years, and I seriously doubt that my people could put all differences aside with the Dark Elves. Humans may not understand, but our racial aggressions run deep. I hear the same rumors you do friend. Have some wine and do not trouble on this tonight. If war does come, it wont come in winter. No one fights in winter.”
The man relaxed visibly “You’re right. Thank you for your time sir. And I shall have that wine. I hear that this inn has quite the stock of it.”
Tarien nodded and smiled slightly “Speak to Quila at the bar and tell her the first glass is on the house for you and your friends. Might I suggest the T’uan red....I believe you would find it to your liking.” He nodded and moved away letting Tarien breath a sigh of relief. This talk of war was making people jumpy and would end up in trouble one way or another. Sighing softly to himself, Tarien sat back into his chair and took up his book once more.

The night was winding down. Only half or so of the customers remained and even they showed signs of growing weary. Rubbing his eyes Tarien rose from his chair just as the door opened. The second he saw who it was all weariness left his body. “No! I told you and yours once not to come back here and it was not an idle threat. Get your lot gone or you’ll feed Vrakna’s hounds!”
Several customers, including the soldiers whom had entered earlier, looked up to see who the new comers were and why their host had reacted so. Only a few recognized them but they knew exactly why Tarien was on the verge of shouting. The five men that piled in were some of the most notorious trouble makers in Mont’ira. Earlier that month they had caused such a stir that Tarien had been forced to call the city guard and have them thrown out. Since then he had forbidden them to ever step foot in his tavern again.
“Come now elf. We’ve got gold and a mind to spend it. Perhaps that pretty little elf wench wants to make a little extra.” They all shared a laugh, but Tarien’s expression was anything but jovial. “I told you once Jaze. You are not welcome here. Get out.”
Three of the five moved deeper into the bar while the other two stayed by the counter. The soldiers huddled around their table began to share dark looks. They had an idea where this was going and so did Tarien.
His voice rang out in the Sun Elven language “Quila, kela dol am path aire.” There was a sound of glass breaking as she vaulted over the bar and sprinted towards the stairs. One of the three in the room was far quicker and grabbed her around the waist, pinning her arms. “Now where are you going all alone darlin? I think I need to warm ya up tonight!” The others laughed and the customers of the tavern looked around in a stunned silence. “Do her on the bar!” Jaze called out as they all brought some manner of weapon to bear. Jaze drew a long pointed dagger while his friend lifted a light crossbow. The one holding Quila began to struggle as he dragged her towards the bar. The soldiers in the corner of the room began to stand but their chance to interfere never came.
Tarien, hearing Quila’s struggle and shout closed his eyes only for a moment, and when he opened them again there was no anger. Only a cold steady calm. His right hand closed about the hilt of the short sword he kept under the counter, and as the two close to him craned their necks to see what they could of what was about to happen he acted.
Putting his left hand lightly on the counter, Tarien sprang over it with a grace that one would not expect out of a tavern owner. As he cleared the counter his soft boots connected solidly with Jaze, knocking him back against the door. He landed softly behind the crossbow wielder and thrust his short sword forward with all the strength he could muster. The blade erupted from the mans chest in a small geyser of red mist.
As he fell to his knees Tarien’s hands reached out and snatched the crossbow from his grasp. He brought it up and took aim in one smooth motion and, letting out the breath he had been holding, he fired. The bolt punched through the eye of the one that drug Quila, its tip breaking through slightly at the back of his skull. He fell limply to the floor.
Not pausing to admire his handy work, Tarien spun just in time to see Jaze finding his feet. He brought the crossbow around, swinging it like a club, and smashed it into the side of the mans face. There was a wet crunch of bone and a muffled scream as he fell back clutching his face.
Shouts now came from the two others in the tavern. One rushed towards Tarien, the other towards Quila. Tarien spun about again, his thin white hand coming up and forming a gesture that he had not made in over a decade. Words bubbled up from some hidden resource in his mind. The language of magic spilled out. A bolt of blue/white fire hit the one charging him in the face and tossed him onto his back. What was left of his skull smoked slightly as the body twitched in the throes of death.
“Enough elf! Anything else and the wench dies!”
Tariens eyes drifted to the last one who now held Quila tight, a knife against her throat. From somewhere within the flowing garments he wore, Tarien produced a thin wand made of a black wood. It was tipped with a green crystal and half a dozen smaller crystals lined its shaft. He held the wand loosely in his right hand but made no move to raise it. “Let her go and you may leave here alive.”
He laughed and pressed the knife a little closer “Like I trust you. She and I are leaving together. You can pick her up tomorrow at the town square. When Im done.”
Tariens eyes now fell on Quila “Do you trust me?” She nodded slightly, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears. “Close your eyes.”
The man opened his mouth to warn against anything foolish, or to perhaps to simply ask what he meant, but the words never came. As soon as Quila’s eyelids fluttered closed Tarien called upon the ability that all Sun Elves were born with. The ability to create a small source of true light, if only for a moment.
The light flared and by shear instinct the man tried to shield his eyes. The second his grip loosened, Quila dropped to the floor. Not expecting this her captor had no chance to pull the knife tight and mar her flawless skin.
The moment Quila was out of the way Tarien’s hand flashed up and the wand flared to life. A bolt of crackling green energy spat out of its tip and stuck the man dead center. It arched over his body as it blew him back against the wall, where he fell twitching and dying. For a moment there was nothing but silence in the tavern. Tarien’s eyes roamed about the room, but they were not the eyes of a merchant. They were the eyes of a warrior. They eyes of someone who walked with death as a companion. And then there was a creaking sound from behind Tarien as Jaze tried to open the door to escape.
Tarien looked back and pivoted on one foot, his other snapping out to catch the door. It slammed shut before Jaze had opened it no more than a few inches. His face was somewhat lopsided with a good portion of it being broken, but one could still see the pure terror as he fell back onto his bum and tried to scoot back and away. Tarien advanced on him with a cold finality that left little doubt as to what his fate would be. He leveled the wand at his enemy. Jaze began to beg “Please...Gods no....please!!!!”
Tarien held the wand on Jaze for a long moment and then as quickly as it had appeared in his hands, it vanished into the flowing folds once more. Tears began to roll down Jaze’s face as he struggled to rise to his feet again. As he was trying to rise Tarien pulled the short sword free of the one he had killed and wiped it clean on the mans tunic. He moved behind the counter and set it underneath once more. Carefully he selected a finely made long sword and took it from the small rack of weapons. He moved back around once more and gazed upon Jaze as he finally managed to stand.
“Th-th-thank yo-hghhhh!” Jaze was cut off in mid-sentence as there was a flash of steel. The long sword sang free from its sheath and slashed him open from his right hip to his left shoulder. Tarien held the now wet sword with one hand and the sheath with the other. Jaze stared down at his bleeding torso dumbly trying to still form words. Calmly Tarien brought the point down and leveled it at Jaze. With a single thrust he drove it into the mans heart and there it stood quivering for a moment as he pushed the lifeless body onto its back.

The killer disappeared as quickly as it had come, and Tarien rushed over to Quila “Are you alright? Did he hurt you?” She mutely shook her head and her gaze kept wandering back to the five bodies that littered the floor. In less than a minute all five of them had been dealt with, though the last had been drawn out in a cruel, yet short, game of cat and mouse.
“Well,” a deep voice rumbled as the leader of the three soldiers rose to his feet “I think we have seen enough. As Paladins of the Dawn Lord Solaris, and personal guards of the King it is our duty to inform you that you will be placed under arrest for murder.” Tarien looked up with disbelief in his eyes “You must be joking. Surly you cannot believe that they would have just left if I had asked again!”
The leader shook his head “The slaying of the four was justified. However after the threat had passed you coldly murdered the man by the door instead of letting the authorities deal with him. The courts will decide if it was murder, and if so what the punishment should be.”
Tarien shook his head in disgust. “Paladins. Everything is black or white to you.” The leader merely nodded an odd smile forming on his lips when a voice rang out. “I saw the guy by the door reaching for a knife.” Another voice lifted up “Yeah...He had a knife. If Tarien had let him live he would have been killed.” “Absolutely!” called out a third. It went on this way for some time until everyone in the tavern had raised their voice to Tarien’s defense. The elf smiled at the Paladins “Even the word of three Paladins of Solaris cannot shout louder than twenty good citizens. You gentlemen must have been mistaken and never saw the knife in his hand.”
The three Paladins looked around the room as they made their way to the door. As they exited their leader turned back to look at Tarien “This is not over. I know you now elf. I know what you were and what you are. I’ll see to it that you pay for your crimes, and those of Raven.” With that he was gone and Tarien was left with his mind swimming. Raven. It had been a very long time since he had heard that. Sighing softly he looked about the tavern. “I thank you friends. The tavern will stay open tonight all night. Please drink your share, but do try to not drink everything I own. I will be retiring for the evening.” The crowd nodded, smiled and promised they would only drink enough to keep things going. The Avari, who was a regular but hardly spoke, moved behind the bar to manage things while Tarien took care of his matters. A couple of others began to clean up the bodies as a new round of drinks flowed. It was to this scene that Tarien and Quila moved upstairs to discuss what had just taken place.

Chapter 2: Questions & Answers

Tarien quietly moved up the stairs to his private rooms, his hands shaking slightly as he opened the door for Quila to enter. As she passed by Tarien glanced at her and could tell by her stiff posture that this was going to be a long night. She knew something was up and would not easily let it go without answers. He closed and latched the door behind her.
“Would you care for something from the homeland? I have many fine things that I’ve been saving.” She nodded mutely and took a seat in one of his chairs by the small fireplace. Her legs curled up to her chest as she hugged herself slightly. Tarien shook his head slightly as he went to the locked cabinet. The poor girl, he thought to himself she’s never seen violence or had it done to her. It must be quite a shock.
After a moments consideration he pulled a small bottle of a rare red wine that was grown and made, not in the Sun Elf lands, but those of the Dark Elves. Tonight would be a night of dark talk and should be treated as such.
He returned a moment later with two glasses of the mulled red wine. She sipped it slightly just as he did, and for a moment he closed his eyes and let the flavor dance upon his tongue. It was dull yet, warm, and had a slight hint of an almost blood like flavor to it. Knowing the Dark Elven reputation he would not doubt it that was indeed what it was.

He decided, after some time, that if he did not start the conversation tonight then it would not happen. And she deserved answers to her questions. “So,” he began softly “are you sure you are all right? I know that you’ve never been in such situations before and the first time can be more than unnerving.” She only nodded. He pressed on “Very well. Then I suppose you are wondering a great many things. I’ve never lied to you Quila, so if you have questions to ask then ask them.”
Tarien let his words hang in the air, his breath slow and calm, hers trying to mirror it but failing admirably. She opened and closed her mouth once, twice, then trice, each time pausing to take a sip of wine as if to build her courage.

“I…it…it wasn’t like when my parents died.”

Those words had Tarien closing his eyes and cursing himself silently for a moment. She had seen violence before, or rather heard it, as her parents had been butchered. “I know dear,” his words drew out in a bare whisper surprising even himself “I had hoped you would see your first century without another bloodshed. I am sorry it came to this.” He sipped his wine unwilling to meet her gaze as she sat in a silence. In shock. “When I kill Quila it is clean. I do not torture.” The scene she witnessed of his toying with Jaze flashed to his mind and he was forced to add “Usually.”

She looked up at him then, here eyes still brimming with unshed tears, “When you kill? What….” She paused again taking a deep drink of the glass in her hand “When have you killed?”

Tarien swallowed hard his own eyes feeling the burn that would bring tears soon. He had wanted to forget this life, to let it all fall away. Tonight he had fallen back on old instincts and the price was to be paid now. “For a very long time Quila. Many times. I have done what I must.”
She took the last of her wine and held the glass out for more. Tarien obliged by filling it and motioning for her to drink. She did as a tear slid down her right cheek. “What are you? Are you Raven? I’ve heard the stories…”
Tarien let himself go for a moment, tears held for uncounted years flowed for but a moment. “Mikalya…” he whispered. Quila sat up right a hint of her temper showing on her face, but Tarien held up a hand in an attempt to stall the barrage of accusations that would no doubt head his way. “You don’t understand any of it Quila. Do not fight me on this. You don’t know.”
He forced the tears down and away, “I am an assassin Quila. Rather I was. I am also a Mage trained in the High Towers. What you have heard of Raven, what you think you know…it is all true and yet all lies. There is so much more to it than you know and more than I can tell.” He took a deep breath and drained his own glass, refilling it and motioning for her to drink, which she did. “There is little I can tell you Quila. I left it all behind, ran from it all to start a new life. I want to tell you dear, but I cant. Im sorry but I am sworn and bound.”
Her anger flared and she thrust herself to her feet. However the wine was quite strong and she collapsed back into the chair lest she fall at his feet. Tarien knew it was the wrong thing to do but he couldn’t help but chuckle at the mishap. She shot him a gaze that could have lit a stove from across the room. “Im sorry dear, but you will not be leaving tonight.” He set his own glass down and offered her a hand as he rose from his own seat. Still seething fury she clenched it and he helped her towards the bed. “We can speak more in the morning, but I’ll not permit you to walk the streets tonight.” He guided her into the bed and paused a moment to caress her face, “Will you permit me to send you to an untroubled sleep?” His delicate, nimble, fingers played at her ear and though she still glared with an anger to be reckoned with, she nodded. Smiling to himself Tarien whispered the words of a minor spell from his training and brushed his lips to her temple. Her eyes fluttered and she slept in the magical slumber.

He rose from the bed, pulling the covers up to her waist, and turned slowly in the room. The wine effected him little as this was all far too familiar.

*tap tap tap*

He turned at the sound on the window to see a large owl staring at him. His gaze moved to Quila, but she was so far deep in the spell of sleep she’d not wake for many hours unless he broke it. Sighing softly he moved to the window and opened it. The bird was one of many species augmented in centuries past by a well meaning Mage. They were intelligent far beyond normal birds, and would live half as long again. He nodded his thanks and held up a finger to wait to the bird. From a small pouch he drew a dried hunk of rabbit meat and handed it to the bird who gobbled it greedily. As he feasted, Tarien untied the case from around the birds chest. As it finished, the owl gave an approving ‘hoot’ and tapped its head to Tariens hand before launching itself back off into the night.
He had to chuckle slightly at the bird. It was always amusing when he had such a visitor as he always offered treats and they were far too willing to take them. The gluttonous hooligans. He untied the cord wound around a strip of vellum and allowed the scroll to unfurl. As it did so his breath caught in his throat. A single black feather fell. It took a moment, two, before Tarien could reach with a trembling hand to retrieve the dark omen. He spun it between his nimble fingers, a feather as black as night, a ravens feather.
At once his mind spun into the possibilities. Could it be the Paladins? Could it be a real signal? Could it be another hoping to draw me out? Why now? Its too convenient.

Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:52 am
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