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The Miracle Stone story


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#1 Shelle

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Posted 01 November 2006 - 10:36 PM

Grey faces of the crowd. From where I stand, by the palace window looking down on them, they are all alike stricken by the untimely disaster the magnitude of which no conscience can apprehend so soon. Some wept openly, others bore their pain proudly in silence. Like the second, I say nothing. No tears can return my uncle and their King who in his prime of life met an untimely accident.

He is the one to end ten year conflict with our bitter rivals. It is his wise council which restored fertile lands after the war. He is the one to build schools, hospitals and libraries. He is the one who expanded our economy and made treaties with former enemy cities. He is the one, after nine years reign, who fell in unbelievable hunting accident and have his life ended at the age of thirty. How many more years of prosperity he could have given to our land?

The muffled footsteps along the stone tiles rustling like serpent crawling through the grass approach me. I do not turn having recognised them. The owner not rebuked by my manner joins me by the window. His thin lips never far from forming into sneer are forced into a sad grimace.

#2 Asorewen

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 02:04 AM

Andru cursed. He hated rain and cold with a passion, and waiting for the guard to change at the outermost portcullis was not helping. Although he knew a lesser invisibility spell, it would be no use against a vigilant observer, such as a lone guard. He would be perceived as a transparent shape at best, but it was the best spell he could learn, without risking turning invisible permanently.

After some more time of cursing and pacing, the relief guard came. While the two were distracted discussing the single most important even of the week, Andru quickly spoke the words of the spell and dashed inside the inner courtyard. Lucky for him, someone managed to break the portcullis mechanism the night before, so now they could not be closed. Reaching the leftmost balcony he quickly incanted a strength boost and renewal spell, and started climbing at once. Besides the fact he had to squeeze in a break in the guard schedule, he was also afraid that maintaining two spells on himself would make one of them fade at the least opportune moment.

Once inside, the comfortable semi-darkness would mean that even with his imperfect invisibility spell, he would not be easily spotted visually. Unfortunately, the king who built the palace in the first place spent a fortune on marble flooring, so he could not move as fast as he wished. He tried learning a sound muffling spell, but that was part of the temporal school, and he had qualms about messing with the time. Not to mention, the last time he played with it, he ended up moving too slow for 2 days until the spell wore off.

Sticking to the shadows and keeping his blindness spell ready in his mind just in case, he proceeded cautiously, dodging guards along the way, and using secret passages to shorten his trip. Although the job was fairly complex, he nonetheless wondered on the relative ease with which he got thus far. It's true, his employer was very well informed, providing him with everything: detailed maps, secret passage positions, guard schedules for that particular day, going as far as indicating when breaks in the guard coverage would occur. That, combined with the fact that he was to leave the sigil hidden away in the castle chapel, spelled to Andru fairly clearly that it was an inside job. High profile inside job too, seeing how the breaks in guard patrols were too comfortably linked for them not to be related.

Reaching the sigil room, he pulled out of his pouch a scroll inscribed with the most powerful unlocking cantrip he could find at the mage's home. The mage was a funny old man, and seeing how he always forgot his keys, he always kept his house well stocked with magic locking and unlocking scrolls. That worked to Andru's advantage, keeping them for jobs when lockpicking was sure to fail.

*CLICK* The door swung aside with a loud groan, and Andru looked around scared, thinking his cover has been blown. His mysterious employer did his job though and no guards were withing earshot. Dashing in, he swiped the sigil off its pedestal, grateful that its magical defenses were all deactivated, courtesy yet again of his employer.

Curiosity got the best of him and he quickly glanced on the sigil before tossing it in his pouch. Perhaps not so surprisingly, he saw the sigil morph its symbol to the symbol of the lynx. Shrugging, he left the sigil room, careful to close the door behind him and lock it with the most powerful lock scroll he had in his pouch. Hearing footsteps in the distance, he grabbed his belongings and started making his way towards the chapel.

#3 Shelle

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 08:46 PM

I cannot watch them much longer. Their outward melancholy resembles too strongly my inward state. Where can I go where no one might find me, where I will see no one and hear no cries? Perhaps in search of a miracle my footsteps lead me to the old chapel. With the narrow, arched windows facing the wilderness it stands abandoned on the west side of the palace, meanwhile everyone gathers by the brand new church on the east side of the town.

Even the guards are absent from their daily patrol routes. This is why I am surprised to see someone coming out of the adjacent corridor ahead of me. I blink not having noticed earlier the gathered tears in my eyes. I flick them away clearing the eyesight. The figure is gone. Uncertain whether it was a trick of the vision I quickly reach the end of the corridor and peek around the corner. He is there. I cannot explain what makes me suspicious. The man dressed in a neutral cloak proceeds down the hall non-charlatanry like he has every right to be here however drawn hood obscures his features and the soundless manner of him not walking but gliding along the floor fascinates me. Unconsciously I adopt the same stealthy manner.

It seems his destination is the same as my own. My curiosity is peeked when I recall that the corridor he appears from leads to the castle treasury. I cannot follow the man as he enters the chapel. The space between the entrance and the altar is bare open and I will be too visible, thus I lurk by the door as a silent observer. A hand holding a black bag about a fist size appears from the folds of the cloak. I cannot see what this man does however a soft click which nevertheless sounds almost as loud as thunder in heavy silence tells me this man knows about a hidden compartment inside the altar where a holy book and who knows what else is usually kept. The man looks around swiftly startled by this sound and just as fast I step back into the corridor hiding behind the wall before he can see me. When I dare to peek into the chapel again he is gone. I am nearly ready to believe that the stress of my uncles passing causes me to see a ghost. But No. My uncle advised me to trust intuition and it is telling me this is not as simple as a ghost. I count up to one hundred and cautiously creep into the chapel. Even my breath seems too loud for this place. The gloomy corridor is bright in comparison to this room. The cold of the altar chills not just my hand but my heart. It takes me a minute to remember the opening secret. When the door snaps open I jump startled. The bag is inside. It is heavy for a small object. I roll the content into my hand and barely contain a gasp at the site of a golden seal. I recognise it. My uncle showed it to me and explained what it is when I was little. A picture of lynx, his very real almond shaped eyes looking directly at me, slowly fades away. I do not see what the picture changes to. The footsteps I had the misfortune to hear earlier today approach the chapel. I dart behind the altar having no moment to find a better hiding place. I feel like a thief in my own home.

#4 Asorewen

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 02:09 AM

Andru let his invisibility spell fall. His magical reserves sapped, he started to have nagging headaches. He would need every bit of magic for what he inteneded to do. Remembering his young days as a thief, he proceeded nonchalantly, yet soundless, towards the chapel. An old thief's trick stated that when in unfamiliar teritory, moving like you belong there saved many a thief's life. Memorizing the map was not easy, but he pressed on, aware that a break might lead him to a very unpleasant meeting with the dungeon.

Reaching the chapel, he went directly to the altar, then using the knowledge imparted to him by his mysterius employer, he opened the secret door. The sound that it made was almost unbearable and scared Andu witless. Cursing at the adress of shoddy craftsmanship, and promising himself he'd hit the Temporal school books as soon as he was out of the palace, he quickly placed the sigil in the now-visible secret drawer. Clicking it closed, he darted to the nearest shadow then incanted the most powerful invisibility spell he could muster without his head bursting open.

"Now let me wait." Andru thought. "Who would have the interest of halting the coronation ceremony?" Andru did not really care, but information was often more valuable in the right hands than platinum bars. "It can, after all, save a person's life, while most quantities of gold cannot". Andru's musings were cut short as a second person entered the room. An young black haired maiden entered the chapel her beautiful green eyes speaking of an unsufferable burden. "The late king's niece, probably here to pray." Andru shook his head and resumed waiting. He could only hope that the paryer would be short, and his mysterious employer would come soon, for otherwise his spell would fade and he would have the unprecedented opportunity to explain why he was lurking in the chapel.

His concerns were cut short as he saw that the young lady slowly clicked the hidden compartiment open. Obviously she wasn't ready for the loud sound either because she looked around cautiouly before retrieving the seal. Andru was puzzled. It would appear that the young lady was his employer, yet he couldn't piece toghether why she would risk exile or even death for treason. She had no logical reason to steal the sigil. Of course, next in line would be the last king's brother and there were some rumors about him, but nothing as serious to warrant stealing the royal sigil to halt the crowning ceremony.

His thoughts were cut short yet again when he heard the footsteps of yet another person echoing from the hallway. The young woman, startled as well, hid behind the altar. Suddenly, it occured to Andru that he might have been followed, and that the young lady was only a witness in this whole sharade. The real buyer would walk through that door, head to the altar, notice that the secret door was open, then proceed to look around, and notice the young lady in hiding. He would proceed to call the guards then begin a thorough searching of the chapel, at which point his hiding place, spell or no spell, would likely be compromised. Having no time to think for a better alternative, he used his last remaining magic power to improvise a targeted chameleon spell on the young girl. While not as potent as invisibility, it would work assuming his target would stand still while the buyer was in the room.

"Strange times require strange bedfellows." He thought. "If only she'd sit still" Andru thought seeing, or rather, sensing, that the space behind the altar began to warp because of the target's restlessness, a common reason for why chameleon spells often failed. "Hmm, three people. This chapel is getting way too crowded." He sarcastiaclly remarked as the late king's brother entered the room.

#5 Shelle

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 10:36 AM

The door! I jerk to remove the evidence of my transgression but the good judgement roots me to the floor. It

#6 Asorewen

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 11:35 AM

Andru's head pounded. He was not used to such magical usage in such short amount of time. Still, he was unwilling to let the spells drop. He made that mistake once, and he would not repeat it so soon. Still, he had no choice. After a few long minutes that seemed like centuries, the magical field began to unravel and fizzle. Resigning, knowing that forcing spells was dangerous, he ended both enchantments, then collapsed to the floor in a heap, barely conscious. Turning his his gaze towards the still frightened girl he asked, breathing hevily:

"Who... are you? Why... did you follow me? Why... have you done this?"

#7 Shelle

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 12:16 PM

Finally having gathered composure more or less my first thought is to leave. I move around the altar when the air few steps ahead of me wavers and already familiar figure falls on the floor. Barely conscious that this is a thief I kneel beside him moved by an impulse to help the injured. I know about illusionary magic. He must have cast invisibility on me as well as on himself; otherwise I have no explanation why Ortherion never noticed me.

[i]

#8 Asorewen

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 01:17 PM

Andru stood up. The energy lended was enough to clear his head, but he was still weak physically. He stood up, shaking, and he would need quite some time to recover. Only once or twice he was subjected to magical exhaustion before, but most were because of his carelessness, and not intentional. Still, there was nothing he could do for now, and he allowed himself to be led by the young girl through the dark passageways. There would be plenty of time to think once he was safe, athough, given the blunder with his recent job, he would never be safe again.
"Great, now two kingdoms want my head for treason. Should I die, they would probably start a whole brand new war just to decide who would get my head." Although that thought was somehow flattering, it was of little comfort, for Andru valued his head too much to let it go that easily.

#9 Shelle

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 07:36 PM

Once in her room Faelwen motioned the unexpected visitor to sit in the armchair. She locked the door tight considering the unfortunate situation she was in earlier.

#10 Asorewen

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Posted 04 November 2006 - 11:51 PM

Anger flared in Andrus eyes. "I'm a thief. It's what I do. I owe nothing to most people, and certainly nothing to this kingdom. When I was young and starving, guards beat me up wherever I went. I wasn't welcome in schools. I wasn't welcome in hospitals. I wasn't welcome in churches. Only one person has my gratitude, and that person is long dead. So don't you dare lecture me on what I can and cannot do. Now, hand over the sigil please? There is still time to save both our heads."

Andru stood up. He tried to look as fearsome as he could, though his muscles were still weak, and he presently had no weapon. He always considering murdering for amateurs, so he never bothered with a dagger or sword. His arsenal was limited to his fists, a bunch of flash devices he always kept handy, and a few magic spells. Since he would never hit someone who just saved him a few minutes prior, and he was in no position to do magic, his threats were about as hollow as a log.

#11 Shelle

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Posted 05 November 2006 - 09:48 AM

She learned long ago to handle any anger outbursts with composure but this time the pain was so fundamental and reflecting her own that Faelwen flushed with anger.

#12 Asorewen

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 12:51 AM

Andru stopped. He didn't like to admit it, but the girl was right. He did not believe he would be pardoned for failing at his task, and bringing the sigil to the girl's cousin could only spell his doom. He didn't look like the person who would forget to tie loose ends. Still, even so, he had no ideea what to do. If he simply left, he would be chased. If he stayed, he would be dead. While a life on the run was not so appealing, he always thought of moving somewhere more to the south.

Shrugging, Andru sat down.
"What will you do with the sigil then? Your cousin probably knows nothing of your involvement, so now what? I must leave the kingdom now, for by morning, my picture will be handed to every bounty hunter on the street. Even I can't stay invisible for a lifetime."

Andru peered at her. "But I'm curious. What will you do with the sigil? Come, tell me."

#13 Shelle

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 09:25 AM

I don

#14 Asorewen

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 11:40 AM

"This is getting tiresome" Andru thought while leaning against the farthest wall from the door. "I think I have spent more time invisible than visible today." he quietly remarked while conjuring a chameleon spell that would hide him while he would sit still. Hoping that his magical exhaustion would not be too troublesome, he settled in to wait and listen. After all, he had no other choice. Jumping out of the window was out of the question, and hiding under the bed was a bit too childish. "Oh well, if I get through this, I really need to spend some time reading power management techniques." he thought.

#15 Shelle

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 05:38 PM

I refuse to sit across Ortherion silently underlining he was not invited although tactful remarks are often lost on him. With my hands folded across the chest I

#16 Asorewen

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 04:09 PM

Once or twice while the unwelcome guest was in the room, the magical field surrounding Andru wavered. However, the guest was too infatuated with the young woman, that Andru thought that his spell could fail altoghether, and he still wouldn't have noticed. he was at least partially relieved to observe that he made at least some progress in magical usage, since, although becoming physically exhausted again, the nagging headache didn't return with full force as early that day. Collapsing in the chair, he gasped for air. After a few moments of awkard silence he remarked:

"Pleasant company isn't he? No wonder you don't like to see him as the king, much less your husband." Andru remarked with a sarcastic sneer. "Now, to the business at hand. I can't go to your family cottage, at least not with you. Aside from the fact that's unbecoming for a lady of your upbringing to associate with a thief and one soon-to-be-accused of high treason, no less, we haven't even been proprely introduced. Secondly, I can't risk you being followed, and leading your cousin of yours right bach to me. And thirdly" Andru continued with a wide grin, "There's something that's nagging me about that sigil stone. I can't pinpoint exactly what though.."

He paused for a few seconds, then he asked: "Listen, do you have anyone who you trust beyond a doubt in the castle? A personal maid, a bodyguard assigned to you by your late king, anyone? There's a couple of things I'd like to retrieve from my residence. I can't leave the castle, not in my state anyway, and it's imperious that I get the items as soon as possible, before that house would be locked down tight by the royal guard. I need `Daras' treatise on magical items`, `Symbols` by Mengeru, the staff of Lightning, and all the Lock and Unlock scrolls that can be found about the house."

With a smile, he added. "Oh, in case you were wondering, I'm Andru, thief and practitioner of Illusion and Alteration magic, and soon ordered to be aprehended and beheaded by royal decree on grounds of high treason."

#17 Asorewen

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 12:33 PM

"I live in a red brick building right next to the cathedral. My room is on the top story, which cives me good access to the highway. Here, the key.." Andru reached in his pocket, and withdrew a small bag. Within, it contained a sole key. Seeing Faelwen's puzzled look, he shrugged and added. "I tie my stuff in different pouches. The downside of metal is that it makes a racket when put together with other metallic objects. I tried asking a keymaker to make me keys and lockpicks out of wood once, but he just looked at me like I was whacked." Andru remarked mirthfully."Hah, old fool... but I can't blame him, the supply of magical ironwood being as it is...Oh, but I digress... You said you had someone who you can trust? Come, bring him or her here. We can't afford wasting any more time."

#18 Drebar

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 11:00 PM

as Breth came back from the service he saw someone at his door, instinctivly he put his hand upon his hilt before recognising faelwen. "m'lady, is there something you want? i apologise for being late but i was given the description of a thief the royal guard want, dead or alive. and theres a very large reward" he said after the usual bows and ceremony.

#19 Asorewen

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 10:43 AM

"Now's my chance. She's out of the room and the sigil is here. I can take the sigil back and hope to be forgiven."
"No, that wouldn't work. As soon as i present the would be king with this prize, he'll chop my head off. He doesn't want any witnesses."
"I could leave it in his quarters..."
"No, that wouldn't work either. For the same reason."
"Hmm, I should have looked before I leaped"
"Yes you should have."
"OOOkay, this is weird. Having a conversation inside my head with myself."
"Yes it is, I agree."

Andru jumped from the chair. If it's one thing he hated was having his consciousness having an argument with itself. "Oh well, can't be helped" he thought while looking at the sigil. "I guess I'll wait for her to come back, then." he decided. Looking at the sigil, he saw a bird on it. He didn't know too much about birds, and according to him the bird depicted could have been a chicken. Or a hawk. Or a crow. Or a penguin. Nope, scratch that, definetly not a penguin. Still there was something that bothered him, even from the first time he saw it. He saw this symbol somewhere before, and he knew just where. Fortunately, he already asked Faelwen to send someone for the treatise on symbolism from his house. "If there were any answers, they would be in there." He thought, absent-mindedly grabbing the sigil and toying with it. The shape of the bird morphed yet again into the vaguely familiar shape of a lynx. Of course, to him it looked like any other cat.

#20 Drebar

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 01:39 PM

Breth was very confused about his orders but they were orders so they must be followed through. "of course m'lady" he said, then bowed our of her presence. on his way to the house he saw many guards looking, presumably, for the man he had just recently been told about. there was even the bright red of the royal guard, and elite core of warriors hand picked by the king for the protection of the king. in Breth's younger years he had been one of them but he grew older and was assigned to Faelwyn. when he reached the house he was assured that this was not some thievery by how smoothly and silently the key worked. once inside he found the things with his usual efficiency and diligence. however he found several things that troubled him, including a book called "the ways of the thief" but orders were orders. leaving the house he saw a squad of royal guards and 3 squads of troops marching towards him but thought nothing of it, and he was away before they could storm the house that they had recieved a tip about.

#21 Asorewen

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 01:16 AM

"Hide under the bed it is" Andru sighed, reaching for some food. It became painfully obvious to him that he hadn't eaten since morning and that he was hungry as a wolf.
"Well, what news. Has the news that the sigil has been stolen spread yet? I still have to think of a safe place to sleep tonight, and my safe house has likely been compromised. Pity." He said with a sad look on his face, before resuming eating.

#22 Shelle

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:37 PM

"I'm not surprised how fast Ortherion moves. He masks his tyrannical nature well with eloquence and persuasion. The people will do his bidding gladly until they find themselves deeply entangled in lies. I noticed great deal of commotion and guards around the halls, not to mention heard of a huge reward placed on your head dead or alive. Oh, I'm sorry." She apologized, seeing Andru choke a little. It was obvious to him but didn't make it less pleasing to hear. "We cannot help this but if you want you can sleep on the couch in the next room." She gestured to another half opened door. "One night should be fine but you cannot stay here long continously hiding under the bed when visitors come in."

#23 Asorewen

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:07 AM

"One night will be fine. I need time to rest and gather my magical power. Besides" he said, looking at Faelwen with a strange smile "We have to wait until your courier arrives. There's something of great importance in those books, something that would save my head, oh and probably save your beloved kingdom too, I suppose." He then turned his attention to eating once again.

#24 Drebar

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 11:13 AM

breth was sure he heard voices in faelwyn's room but that was her business and not his, he knocked on the door and waited for a reply

#25 Shelle

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 05:58 PM

"I hope so." Faelwen replies. Apparently he doesn't want to say more. She settles in to observe Andru in silence while he eats. A quiet knock raises her.

Faelwen opens the door not too widely and stands at the entrance. She doesn't want Breth to discover the visitor because she guesses fairly well her guardian's reaction, which likely will destroy half of the room. "You brought the items. Thank you." She smiled. Although Breth cannot enter the room, blocking his view is farily useless. He is a tall man. Years past his prime as a warrior his strength is still considerable. "There is one more thing I must ask for." Faelwen Sighs reluctantly. "I need you to mount Woodraven." She refers to her stallion. "I am leaving the palace tomorrow morning, by myself." Faelwen recognises this time the argument cannot be avoided. Breth is not likely to let her go alone.