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PostPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:39 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:10 pm
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Location: South Eastern North Carolina
It has been quite a while since I have had anything to post, but here is the newest post to the ongoing story.

Part 19 - The Meeting
As Schaie was led through the halls, of the keep, if she had not her innate trail sense, she would have been lost many times over. As it was, the trip from the gate to their final destination was about 30 minutes. She received many a glare or a scowl with her rugged appearance. The twin Cath Shee probably did not help matters either, though, as they silently padded through the marbled hallways. Finally, they reached an oaken door that seemed fairly ordinary, considering the trappings of everything else that adorned the halls of the keep, thus far. The door was emblazoned with the crest of House Starlight, and depicted the crest of the Hold. Elion, the Castellan of Starlight Hold, edged past her and withdrew a key from his robes, and opened the door revealing an efficient office as would be reasonable for a clerk of his station.
"Please, if you will, " he said as he gestured for Schaie to enter the office. As she moved into the space, he followed her and gestured to an empty corner, " If you want to unload your gear, you may put it there, for the time being."
"Thank you." Schaie said, dropping her pack and various attached pouches into the indicated corner. She then divested herself of her equipment belts and settled into a chaise that sat across from the desk that served as the Castellan's workspace.
"May I offer you refreshments? You look as if you have been on the road for a bit or so." The elderly Castellan asked in a kindly manner. A manner much like a grandfather would to a son or daughter coming back home for a visit.
"Thank you for the offer, but I am fine." she replied.
"So, it is my understanding that you wished to see, and I quote: "The Lands of the Lords of the Skies, and seek the One who rides the winds and the Shining One…”, is that correct?" asked the Castellan, arching his eyebrow in the process.
In a dead pan voice, the ranger answered simply, "I did". Nothing else forthcoming.
"Um, OK. So, what is it that you are really looking for? You know that I hold little less power than the Lord of the Keep, Himself. It is not a good idea to toy with one such as myself. Now, out with it."
"OK, would you believe me that I am a representative of the Everqueen, and that I am looking for two that fulfill a dream prophesy that was sent to me from the Great Mother Isha. I am searching for the "One who rides the winds and the Shining One", and that they can be found here in the Lands of the Lords of the Skies?" This is what I know. For two moons and three fortnights, I have been wandering the wilds from here to my forest home and am still lost as to he who or what the cryptic message meant. Enduring rain, cold, wind, heaven knows what types of creatures between there and there. There must be something that you might know that can help me. If you do, or don't, no worries, and I will be on my way."
The Castellan sat back in his chair, fingers tented in front of him as he pondered this statement from this forester from the wilds. Finally, after a few minutes of thought, he replied, "Ranger, I do believe you. Though fanciful as your story sounds, it is truth. This I know from many years of experience. I will tell you this... I will grant you access to the Lord of Starlight Hold. He will have questions that he will want some answers to. You will be given lodging, while you wait, and..."
"Castellan, you need not worry... I will not need lodging. At your leave, I will be moving on in the morning, and the woods are just fine for me. I have noticed that no one here knows of what I speak of, so I will be moving on. No harm, my Lord."
"Let me interrupt you there, Warden...", the elderly elf said calmly, but forcefully enough for Schaie to stop and listen. "I may know something of what you speak of and are searching for. The only reason that I am discussing this with you, is that like I said earlier, I believe you in what you are saying. had I not believed, you, then nothing of what I am about to say would have been revealed. Not that it is a secret, but, certain parts of the story need not be told to everyone. Now, it is true that this is the Lands of the Lords and Ladies of the skies. Caledor has been known that way for many, many years... Now here comes the tricky part... your part of " One who rides the winds and the Shining One". This part of the passage is cryptic at best, so I can understand why the answer has eluded you. In Caledor, dragon flying around is common... well, not as common as it used to be but still more common than in other places. So, the "one who rides the winds refers to a dragon rider, granted. The tough part is to ask yourself who is the "Shining One?"
"This is where I admit that I was having trouble... I don't know of any dragon that shines.", admitted the ranger, reluctantly. In the Castellan's presence, she had no compunctions about speaking candidly. "My wilderness lore does not have anything about dragons, other than Forest Dragons, and that information is sketchy at best."
"Well, there are "shiny" dragons. The only thing is that they are extremely rare, always have been. The myths and legends of Caledor tell of a time when after a certain bull and a certain cow mate, their offspring will result in a golden dragon hatchling."
"A GOLDEN dragon... You are joking!! There is no such thing!" exclaimed an incredulous Schaie.
"Actually, there are reports of golden dragons in the past. They were always female, and like I stated earlier, extremely rare indeed. I would say maybe one in one million pairings." Turning around, Elion perused the scroll shelf behind him and then stood and selected a tattered scroll. He turned back to face the ranger and continued, "This scroll has belonged to my father's, father's, father. He was a historian and like to research a great many things, one of which was dragon lore."
At this, he unrolled the scroll, turned it so that Schaie could read the elegantly written script. Elion then pointed to a certain passage indicating he wanted her to read the passage. Reading the passage, Schaie saw that indeed, "...when the correct genetic material was present from both parents, the resulting hatchling would be a metallic hued dragonet. Some pairings would result in silver, or brass, a dull bronze, and even in some rare instances, a golden hued dragonet is produced. Legend has it that golden dragons herald special portents and thusly golden dragons are venerated beyond that which may seem healthy."
Looking from the scroll to Elion, Schaie noticed the intent on the elderly Castellan's face. " So, you see", he intoned, " there is a precedent for it miss. "Now for the twist..." he said with a wry grin appearing on his thin lips as he leaned closer, putting both hands on his littered desk," there is a golden dragon about the area. " At this revelation, Schaie looked at him with a confused expression. He, seemed to have a wild gleam in his eye. " We have a gold dragon," he calmly said, " and a rider to ride her", he added.
Schaie was dumbstruck, "Wha..." was all she managed to get out.
Elion looked at her, his mirth barely contained, " Lord Starlight's sister, Gla'mereth, is the dragon rider that you are looking for, the "One who rides the winds and the Shining One" "! She and her mighty steed, Hakklasharra!"
Excitement, elation and relief welled up in her and spilled out!! she jumped up, tossed the scroll onto the desk, and capered about the room in a very undignified manner. "WAHOO!! I don't believe it! It actually worked! WAHOO!"
Mustering himself, Elion the Castellan, rose his voice enough to be heard over the jubilant ranger, "Calm yourself Ranger!", he bellowed. At this sudden intrusion in her celebration, the ranger collected herself, and sat back down into the chair across from him.
"Sorry about that. Please forgive me." she said in a small contrite voice.
"Not necessary, Ranger, I would probably do about the same should I have been in your position. However, there is a rather large problem that is presented to us..."
"What problem? You said that she was here, in the keep!" She exclaimed.
"Well, not actually. I did say that she was the sister to Lord Alithor, ahem, but she is not here at the moment."
"WHAT!!!" Schaie burst out. "Oh, by the gods, I thought that this was almost finished!! So, where is she? How long until she returns? Is she close by? Can I go and find her?"
"Well, ah, no. We have no idea where they went. The two of them took off not but a week ago and flew off to who knows where."
"AHH, a week! I MISSED THEM BY A WEEK!!" Schaie wailed. With that, this time she flounced back into the chair, and rested her aching head in her hand. "A week." she kept muttering to herself, "I missed them, by one flipping week." sinking into a deepening sense of despair.
"Now, now, Ranger." said a clam elderly elf. As he spoke, Schaie could sense that he had moved from around the desk, and placed his frail hand on her shoulder. " It will be ok, don't fret. Gla'mereth did say that they would be back... we just don't know when."
"Well, that doesn't really help me out any, now does it?", she asked sarcastically.
"Well, not really," he confessed. "But then, I did say that we can discuss this with Lord Alithor and see what he advises. I think that he will be free for a touch of time in a couple of days. So, you have time to think about how to handle this story of yours... You can either tell him your story yourself, or I can, ah, assist you with your predicament. Help smooth things over , if you like? He is more apt to trust me, his trusted Castellan, as opposed to a stranger who walked in from who knows where with a made up story, that a bard would tell. So, what have you?"
"Well, ok. I'll let you do the talking. So how do we do this?"
" I will have to think about that... Until then, I think that I can work you into being here in the keep, easily enough. With the influx of new personnel, a new and experienced Ranger would be a perfect addition to the garrison. Since we have few scouts, I could pen you in as a senior scout, thus your services can still be of use, and you can wait here until Gla'mereth and Hakklasharra return, or we know where they went and you can then go seek them!"
With this thought pattern going, Elion skirted the desk, sat down and began writing on a sheet of parchment. As he furiously scribbled away, he continued", OK, so with this script, I have started several things in motion for you: Firstly, I have secured you quarters in the barracks with the Quartermaster. Give this first note to the Quartermaster, and he will see that you get everything that you need. Now, mind you," Elion looked up at her at this point," Accommodations are not plush, by any stretch of the imagination. The rooms are small, stone, with a small bed, a wardrobe and a washstand and basin, and a small hearth as well. I will see if I can get you a small field desk or something of that sort. The up side is that it is warm and dry."
"Right now warm and dry works for me. I'd like to dry out for a bit." Schaie stated looking at her damp packs and equipment sitting in the corner. "What about my companions?" she asked.
"Oh, the Cath Shee. I had completely forgotten about them. Oh dear, I'm sorry."
"No worries, If I was given a room facing the forest, with a window, they could come and go as they pleased, that would be fine."
"I will see what I can do, no promises though, but I can make a standing statement to the guards that they allow entrance to the two of them. The Cath Shee, might need identification of some kind though. I'm not sure."
" I will speak to them, and let them know what is going on." Schaie said.
"Secondly," Elion continued," I am penning a note to the garrison commander, one Field Marshall Synwell Goldenshaft, a fine upstanding young commander in his own right. I am writing this letter of introduction in order to get you an audience with him. Naturally, he is extremely busy what with all of the influx of new personnel and troops that he is working on training. Here you go," he said handing her the two scrolls, "Get your self settled and I will let you know when we can have another meeting. Let me be the first to say to you, Schaiekessellendrell, welcome to Starlight Keep. May your time here be, eventful. Good afternoon, miss."
"Thank you for your generosity, Castellan..."
"No, please in a setting like this, please call me, Elion."
"Very well, Elion. Thank you for everything thus far. I appreciate it."
Schaie stood up, went to the corner of the office, and picked up her gear. Then turned back around to face the elderly Castellan again. "Thank you, once again, Elion. So which way to the Quartermasters office?"
"Ah, yes. One minute and I will have a page show you to the office." With that, he opened the office door, leaned out, and summoned a passing page. "You there, lass. Come here a moment, please." As the liveried page approached, The Castellan continued, "I need for you to complete a task for me. See this here Ranger?" The youngling looked at Schaie, and then looked back at the Castellan and nodded her understanding. " Good, This is Schaiekessellendrell of the North, and she is going to be staying with us for a while. Please take her to Quartermaster Elric and see that she is settled with a room, bedding and all of the necessary requirements. When she is settled, come back here, and I will see that you are rewarded properly, ok?"
"Yes, Castellan Elion. I will see that it is done." Turning to face Schaie, the page spoke directly to her. "If you will follow mw, please, Ma'am."
"Lead the way, miss." stated Schaie. "Let's go find Quartermaster, Elric. As they walked along the corridors, Schaie spoke to the page, "Perhaps when we have finished with this, I can introduce you to my Cath Shee: Elandra and Ellirra. They would like to meet you." Schaie said to the little she-elf.
"Really? You have a faerie cat?" the little she-elf asked with wide eyed enthusiasm.
"No, I have two. What do you think?" Schaie asked. "Would it be OK or would you gt into trouble?"
"If I reported back to Castellan Elion, It would be ok, because, after this, I am finished for the day."
Very well then. It is done. See me to Quartermaster Elric, report to Castellan Elion, and then come find me out by the main gate, and I will introduce you to the Cath Shee, deal?"
"Yes, Ma'am!" the excited She-elf ass responded.
"Good. Now, one problem left to solve," said Schaie, matter-of-factly, " What should I call you?"
"My name is Iliria, but my friend call me 'Lill!"
"Very well, 'Lill."
"Here was are Ranger." the little she-elf stated. She then knocked on the door twice and proceeded to enter the office space. "Quartermaster Elric. Are you here, sir?"
"Yes, just a minute, I'm in the back." responded a distant voice.
After a few minutes, a middle aged elf came forward from the back of the office, patting dust from the apron and clothes he was wearing. " Yes, what can I do for you." he said looking up for the first time. "Oh, yes. I'm sorry"
'Lill spoke up again, using a tone of voice that seemed almost diplomatic, "Quartermaster Elric, this is Schaiekessellendrell of the North and she is going to be staying awhile, says Castellan Elion. She is to be given lodging in the barracks, bedding, and anything else that she may need."
"Very well then, Ranger. We will get you set up." Turning to the page, he continued. "'Lill, I will take over from here. Thank you for showing Miss Schaiekessellendrell this way. I'm sure that Castellan Elion will be waiting for your return report."
"Yes, Quartermaster Elric." With that she turned on her heel and started to bolt out of the office.
Schaie called after her, "'Lill, Don't forget, out by the main gate in an hour, OK?"
Turning around, 'Lill faced Schaie, gave a quick curtsey and responded with a very childlike, "Yes, Ma'am!" Then turned around and this time she did bolt out of the office, evidenced by the maelstrom of shouts of people getting out of her way as she carried out her instructions.
Laughing together, the two elves in the office started to conduct the business of getting her a room.
At the appointed hour, as Schaie was walking to the main keep gate, there waited 'Lill. Bouncing up and down, she was so excited to see her new Ranger friend that she came running up and plowed into the Ranger giving her a huge hug. "I thought that you weren't going to be here!" she cried.
"'Lill, why is that? I said to meet me here in an hour, yes? Then why did you think that I would not show up?" asked Schaie, still dressed in her foresters leathers, kneeling down to look the little elf girl in the eyes. Unexpectedly, the little elf-girl threw her arms around the Ranger's neck, giving her a huge hug. Hesitantly, Schaie wrapped her arms around the child and gently squeezed her back. Then, the youngling started to cry.
"Hey, hey. What is this all about? I haven't even called the girls. What is wrong?"
<sniff, sniff> "I'm sorry, Ma'am." 'Lill said in a small voice quavering with tears. "Things have been hard for me lately, and you were so nice earlier. I don't have many friends."
"Well why not? A nice little girl like you. I'm sure you have more friends than you think. Feeling awkward about still being tightly embraced by the little elf-child, Schaie pushed the little one at arms length, took a small handkerchief out of a belt pouch, and dried the child's tears. Changing the topic, but knowing that it was going to come back around like a tribal boomerang, she said "Here, walk with me for a moment." As Schaie moved to head toward the woodline, 'Lill grabbed her hand and followed. To the casual observer, it would have seemed that an older sister was taking a walk with her younger sibling...
When they got just to the outreaches of the woods, Schaie turned and kneeled down to the little elf-girl, "Now, I'm going to call the girls in. You have to stand very still and be very quiet, ok?" 'Lill, could do nothing but nod her little flaxen haired head, mouth wide open.
"OK." Schaie then cupped her hands, and emitted a strange howl, a low growling at first that rose in tone and pitch into something more like a wail. When it ended, Schaie stood there expectantly, waiting. She glanced down to 'Lill and saw her standing wide eyed and full of wonder, excitement, and maybe even a bit of fear mixed in. After about five minutes of anticipation, two shadows started to creep from the woodline. As the shadows grew larger, they started to take the form of two very large cats. Silently the shadow cats padded forward, until the cleared the woodline, and the last failing light of day fully revealed them.
The emerging cats were very large standing about four feet at their shoulders, with a body that extended about 8 feet long, 12 feet in total length, if one counted the length of tail. They had long, greenish grey fur, mottled with black patches and striping, making them naturally camouflaged in the dense forest, or jungle environments in which they might be found. Slowly they padded on silent paws, the size of an elf's hand, searching the area because of all of the new and unfamiliar smells. Their large wide golden eyes surveyed the entire area, searching for predators, or prey. Large, tufted ears, twitching constantly straining for the slightest sound, and slowly they continued to pad forth.
"Now, don't make any sudden moves, 'Lill." the Ranger warned. Companions to me, they may be, but to them you would make lunch."
Suddenly, they stopped, then stared right at Schaie and 'Lill. Then they moved with lightning speed to where the two she-elfs stood, and nuzzled and purred and bumped their heads against Schaie. So happy to see their elf, and so enthusiastic were they that they knocked her down to the ground. On the ground, the mass of greenish-grey fur completely covered the Ranger, and no one could tell where she was, all that was seen was a roiling mass of fur, paws, and tails. The Rangers laughs and the love from the Cath Shee mixed together and sound like a muffled death.
In fact, unseen to the little Elf child and the Ranger, the watch up along the walls of the keep, had clustered near the main gate, archers lined the walls with bows drawn, and spear-elfs were starting to form inside the mouth of the gate, preparing to storm the cats and protect the child, avenging the Ranger. Stealth was their ally, and would be needed to destroy the two demon animals now mauling the newly arrived Ranger.
Finally, Schaie managed to get to her knees, after batting the huge playful kittens away from her. When on her knees, she spoke to them, calming them down and ruffling their chins, ears and scratching their heads. "Now, now, lasses. Shhhh, Shhhhh. Ah musha, musha. I know I'm fine. I love you two too. Now off of me." As she pried herself away from their alternated lunging and tumbling. She managed to catch sight of the impending advance of troops from the keep. Waving them off, Schaie managed aloud, "It's alright, it's alright. These are my overly exuberant companions happy to see me. No harm, no foul!"
With this, the troops warily began to disband, with the exception of one who stood at the gate bow in hand, arrow still nocked. That soldier had a sense of command about him.
After calming the troops and the cats, now Schaie turned to face the cats again, who were now laying on the ground, encircling her and 'Lill. licking their paws and coats. She started peaking to them in a soft voice, and this got both of their attention. To "Lill she said," now 'Lill, I want you to hold out your hands, palms up, and stand still. Elandra and Ellirra will sniff them and see that you are no threat and a friend of mine. Once the accept you, you can lightly scratch their head, in between their ears, OK? Then you should be fine. Just remember to always be careful around them... they are still wild animals and will react as such, but to me they are companions, not pets."
'Lill did as she was instructed, and the two huge cats stood up and towered over the poor child. Showing no fear whatsoever, she held out her hands as instructed, palms up, and her arms out to the sides so that each would be able to get a fair measure of the wee child. The Cath Shee, intently, moved around her, circling, and sniffing at her hands, first one and then the other. Once they decided that 'Lill was acceptable, they actually pushed their large heads into her hands, long dagger length whiskers tickling her arms in doing so. 'Lill laughed, a sound like small crystal shards being dropped onto a porcelain platter. She then continued to do as was told to her, and slowly, deliberately moved her hands to their head, in between their ears and lightly scratched. This produced a loud, rumbling purr from each of them, melting them in her tiny little hands.
"Well, well. I see the makings of a Ranger out of you." Schaie said. "Never have I seen the girls react like that to one so young. Ah, they probably think of you as a kit to them, you big silly girls." This last directed to the Cath Shee instead of to 'Lill.
Finally, standing up to her full height, she gave each one of them a good ruffling on the heads and chins and bid them to go off into the woods for now. The two Cath Shee turned on their heels and vanished, only to reappear at the edge of the woodline, some 100 yards away. 'Lill gasped in exclamation. Never had she seen anything of that sort before. After a quick look back, the two Cath Shee bounded into the woods and disappeared from view.
"So, what do you think of that?" Schaie asked of 'Lill.
Rightly, no sound uttered out of the child's mouth.
"Come on then, lass, let's go back into the keep. You to your parents, and me to my room, OK?"
"Ugh huh." was all that 'Lill could have managed. Her eyes still wide, and a sense of awe still plastered over her little face.
As they walked on towards the gate, the soldier with the bow in hand was still there, arrow still nocked. He had a stern look upon his face, and when the two passed near to him, he spoke." Hold there Ranger, a word." The soldier's voice was full of one who commanded and expected to be followed with out question.
To 'Lill, Schaie said, "Run along, I will send word when we can spend time together again, aye? You know where to find me, and if needs be I'll have another of the Foot the find ye." Schaie then quickly hugged 'Lill. " Now, off with ye." With that 'Lill turned, bolted off in the direction of the gate. She turned , waved to the Ranger, who heartily waved back, and then the child was gone... into the Keep.
After taking a moment to ensure that 'Lill was indeed gone into the safety of the Keep, Schaie finally turned to address the soldier. "Yes, you wanted a word with me?" she inquired.
"Yes." He said in a clipped irritated tone. "he continued, "I know not who you are, but the next time those wild animals are seen anywhere near this Keep, I'll have them shot full of arrows and skewered on spears. You endangered countless civilians with that stunt of yours, and I will have order. There is more than enough Chaos for me around here and I'll not have another instance of this. Do you understand me, Ranger!"
Stepping back away from the soldier, Schaie calmed the instant fury rising from her toes. In her own clipped tones, she replied instead, "I will have you know, that no one was in any danger. Those two Cath Shee are companions of mine and were happy to see me. I would never have endangered the child. You should know that a Ranger knows what he/or she is doing around animals. Had YOU not been so scared of them , you would have seen how they interacted with me, and with the child!"
That statement infuriated the soldier standing before her. "Do you know with whom you are speaking Ranger? I am the Commander of this garrison, and can have you thrown out of here in an instance, do you understand me now, Ranger?"
"I will not be intimidated by you, Field Marshal Synwell Goldenshaft, and I have a letter for you penned by the Castellan of the Keep." Schaie stated evenly, and without looking away from the Filed Marshal, she reached into a pouch on her belt and produced a scroll, which she then handed over to the Field Marshal.
An expression of astonishment glimpsed his face, but then quickly was banished back to that of intimidating commander. Finally, breaking eye contact, he took the scroll, and opened it and started to read:
"Honorable Field Marshal Goldenshaft,
I hastily pen this missive to you as a letter of introduction to the one who bears it. The bearer of this letter is an extremely capable Ranger and is to be given a posting in the garrison as Commander of Scouts. She comes with recommendations above even those that would come from Tor Caled. She may yet have little understanding of our ways here in the Keep, things being as they are, but give her time and I believe that she will be an asset to Starlight Hold in ways we have yet to imagine.
Highest regards,
Elion, Dawnstrider
Castellan of Starlight Keep
"So, you are the Ranger, that I was told about, then. Humph. Just so that you know I stand by what I said about those demon cats. They will be shot on sight."
"I suggest that you rescind that order, Field Marshal. For you have no idea that a Cath Shee is, do you? Obviously, you have either never been exposed to the legends of the Cath Shee, or you have chosen to ignore them, or maybe even have dared to forgotten them. Legends and story hold that the Cath Shee are were created by Asuryan himself as hunting companions when we elves lived not in cities, but in the wilds itself. They are also said to be reincarnated heroes sent to continue to defend the elven nations, or even those who are to atone for misdeeds committed eons ago. They are wild wily creatures who could have torn that little group of spear troops to shreds in mere moments, and would have avoided your archers as well. Who are you to dictate what the should be destroyed when the gods decree otherwise, hmm?"
With that she then added, albeit a bit more politely, " Now, if you will excuse me, Field Marshal, I'll be off to settle in my room." and she turned on her heel and left, without looking back.

"Adapt, Overcome, Persevere - No Sacrifice, No Victory!"

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