Last time in Portal to Dereth, Derfel and Snowimp had met up again after being away for many months. Together they planned a trip to help discover all the mysteries of Frore. They left the first standing stone near Bandit Castle, and head out on the road to Neydisa.


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“This is the road to Neydisa,” Derfel said as he led the way. It was a beautiful day and the snowy landscape soothed the soul as we ran along the cobbles.

“Going to be a beautiful run,” I said breathing in deeply of the pine scented air.

“Aye, some of the best scenery in the land,” Derfel shouted back over his shoulder. We could see creatures now and then off in the distance, but they were no worry for us.. Occasionally we would veer off the road to pick up a plant before returning to our path.

We came across the corpse of a dead creature and stopped to look at it. Derfel knelt and examined the Fire Shreth body.

“Seems our old friend Toran has been this way.” We laughed and continued up the road, spotting a group of Monougas blocking the way. Derfel ran headlong into the mass of towering beasts as I began firing from where I stood. He swung madly, reigning blows on the creatures as they kicked and swung at him. My arrows found their marks and soon the group was dead with Derfel standing amongst the bodies. From nowhere a group of undead appeared. Derfel spit as he caught a blow across the head from one of the undead warriors. He gave a war cry and swung his sword ferociously. Blood sprayed into the air as an undead Magus fell to the ground.

After all were lying on the ground and still, I walked to where Derfel stood panting and shook my head with a smile.

“My brave vassal!”

Derfel laughed, wiping the blood from his sword.

“One day you will bite off more than you can handle,” I said giving him a stern look. “But I hope that day is far off,” I added softening my look.

“Can’t take the chance, and they may have been Gelidites themselves. If so, those at Frore would know of our coming. Some fights we cannot pass up,” he said seriously, looking at me.

“True,” I said watching Derfel bend to fix a bootstrap. I looked around. “Not as much snow this year as past years.” Derfel stood and looked about.

“After hearing Sir Joffre’s story from Neydisa, I had to do this… to pay homage to the man.” Derfel turned to look at me again. “Have you heard of Sir Joffre’s story?”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

“He was a Knight, of the Golden Flame I believe, very much in love with the lady of Neydisa. When the terrible winter came to this land a few years back, he and a party of Knights set out to investigate. It was they who left the notes at the standing stones.” Derfel gazed up the road, speaking softly as if to himself.

“They met their end fighting the hordes of Gelidites in Frore, but they died like true Knights. It is they I wish to see in Frore, their final resting place.” Derfel turned to me with a sad smile. “Think of it as a pilgrimage.” We ran through the countryside, the sun passing over us and beginning its descent to afternoon. Derfel stopped ahead of me and put up a fist. I stopped beside him, breathing heavily.

“Ahead, see that tower?” Derfel pointed to the top of a tower ahead of us. A downward slope hid the majority of it from our view. I nodded.

“Think its friendly or an enemy?” He looked at me as I squinted my eyes trying to make out any guards that may be waiting in the top.

“Not sure,” I said noncommittally.

“I know some Tumeroks hold some land here,” Derfel said as he scanned the land for scouts or guards that may be connected to the tower.

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Derfel put his hands on his hips, deep in thought a moment.

“Hmm, we could skirt around it, or we could try and take it. If we did, it is a good place to rest, and it probably means we can eat from their supplies.

“Aye, then let us look. Derfel readied himself for battle, as did I and we crept closer.

To our surprise the tower stood empty of guards, and we saw a small cottage on the other side of the road from the tower. We stopped in to introduce ourselves to the occupant of the cottage before stopping at the tower for a rest. The gentleman residing in this far off place was a bowyer, who it appeared had a pet rat! We shared a bit of conversation and then Derfel and I excused ourselves and crossed to the tower, climbing the stairs and looking out from the top before sitting down to eat a cold meal. We enjoyed the lull, removing helmets and gauntlets, talking of past fights or people remembered as we ate of the bread and cheese. I glanced up at the sky watching the color change and jumped to my feet.

“Goodness, warm tide already!” Derfel squinted up at the sky. “Aye.” He glanced at his map. “Bye the looks of the map, we’re about half way to Neydisa. If we rest here a short while, we could be sleeping in a warm bed in the keep by nightfall.” I smiled placing my hands on the towers ledge.

“Mmm, I love Neydisa, especially in the winter! It will be good to see it again.”

“They have made me feel very welcome there over the past few months,” Derfel said as he crumbled away some of the cookie, nibbling on it absentmindedly.

“They are an extraordinary people,” I said, turning my head to watch him. Derfel leaned against the stonework, easing his back muscles.

“A bastion of what nobility should be about I think. It is just such a shame about Sir Joffre. When he was captured in Frore, he didn’t meet his end straight away.” He seemed to snap out of it and looked at me with a smile.

“So still not regretting leaving your nice warm cottage?”

“Ohhhh no, Fiona is glad to have me out from underfoot,” I exclaimed with a hearty laugh.

We left the tower and the bowyer behind us with a shout of farewell and continued our journey to the Castle, watching the sun set as we ran. We came across an abandoned Mansion, and did battle with some fierce Tumeroks nearby. We rejoiced when Derfel found an Olthoi’s Jewel while looting the bodies. I was greatly surprised, when Derfel did kneel before me on one knee and hold up the jewel, saying “For you”. After a few grateful words between us, we carried on. As the sky grew dark, we could make out a pair of towers ahead on either side of the road. This time Tumeroks occupied them. There was a burning beacon in one tower, and we could see the shadows of Tumeroks passing before it.

I heard Derfel growl low in his throat beside me as he withdrew his sword and kissed the blade.

“Not on my watch they don’t!” Before a word passed between us, he was off. As I grew close enough, I fired off arrow after arrow, killing two Tumeroks that jumped from the one tower to attack Derfel. Derfel swung his sword with a fury, ducking the blows from the enemy. I saw him crouch and pierce a Tumerok through. Suddenly the magic of an enemy swirled around him. I looked up and saw the one who threw it. He stood high in the tower, and I ran to climb the stairs, knowing I could not hit him from the ground.

I could hear the yells of Derfel as he fought on, and knew that some of the blows were striking him through the magic weakened armor. At the top of one flight of stairs, I stepped out on the ledge and drew my healer’s heart, sending a streak of healing energy down to Derfel. I could still see him, as he swung his sword, striking the Tumerok and sending him backwards. Another spell lit Derfel in the dim light and he grimaced as the Tumerok stepped forward and pierced him in the shoulder. I cast more healing energy to Derfel and then grabbed my bow again. I needed to dispatch that mage! I jumped up through the floor opening at the top of the stairs and fired off a quick shot at the Tumerok that stood in the top of the tower before he threw a spell at me.

My arm shook as I drew back my string again, my strength diminished from his magic. I gritted my teeth, knowing I would have my revenge. I fired twice more and he lay at my feet. I stood panting and heard yelling from below. Quickly I leaned over the side of the lookout and saw Derfel, hammering on the door of the other tower.

“Damn, it’s locked!” Derfel turned and looked up at me. “Must be a release or a key in that tower Snowy, can you trigger it?” I searched frantically and finally found it. I through the switch and yelled down at him.

“Try it now!” Derfel threw himself against the door and I could hear his armor clang against the armor of another. I listened as he fought his way to the top of the tower and watched him slaughter the Tumerok that stood watch across from me. As Derfel stood panting over the body that lay at his feet, I watched as he looked up and saw me. His face changed into a smile and the last of the sun’s rays glinted off his sword as he waved it high in the air.

“All clear!”

We ran on, quickly now, while some light still lit our path. As we approached, we could make out the glow from the lighted torches. We stopped for a moment and just looked at it, lovely in its forest setting. I heard Derfel draw in a deep breath, as if the sight of it as sucked his very breath from him.

There it is,” he said reverently, and I knew what he was feeling. Neydisa had been my home too for a long time, and seeing it again, my heart filled with joy and tears pricked my eyes.

“Aye, the jewel that it is.” A Panumbris Shadow knocked us from our reverie as it attacked with great vigor. I drew out my orb and began trying to weaken it, and heal Derfel. He swung like a mad man, seeing the beast so close to his home giving him a new strength, even after our long journey.

The last of the light drained away as Derfel buried his sword deep into the shadow, and then pulled it free, twisting it savagely. I smiled watching the shadow crumble to smoldering dust. We did not speak, but walked to the gateway into the Castle, Derfel wiping his sword clean before sheathing it. We passed through the gates and Derfel nodded to the man just inside.

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“We are welcome here,” he said to me and I nodded to Gormling too, saying good evening as we passed him. The courtyard opened around us and I smiled as a million memories flooded over me. I gazed around me, taking in every detail in the soft torch light.

“Ahh, I missed this courtyard,” Derfel said with a sigh.

“Yes, it is lovely, especially in the spring!” I laughed as I spotted the overgrown well.

“Still haven’t cut back the weeds I see,” I said striding over to it and drawing forth a cool drink. Derfel laughed and joined me, removing his helmet and splashing the cool water on his face.

“Mmm, delicious! Pure and cold as always,” I said smiling and offering a freshly filled flask to Derfel. He took it, drinking deeply from it.

“Hello Nelvaine!” I turned seeing the brewer of fine stouts and part time farmer, and quickly walked towards him, feeling suddenly hungry. Derfel walked with me and it sounded as if his fatigue left him as he said, “Ah the Olde Ispar Stout!” His eyes lit up as he approached the brewer. We purchased a couple of mugs of Ispar Stout and stood near the fire drinking it and warming our hands.

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Derfel got up and began taking off his armor, taking out an old thin robe to put on after it was off. I began laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Derfel raised his eyebrow as he looked at me. I looked back with a smile and finished my drink.

“Hmmm, well perhaps my gift is not needed after all.” Derfel looked at me a bit confused. I stood up and walked over to him, digging in my pack. I drew a blue Sturdy Reedshark Robe from my pack and put it in his hands. It was heavy, thick, and warm. I looked into his startled face and smiled.

“Well you said you didn’t have a robe, so I thought this might be a good time to give it to you.” Derfel smiled and threw his arms around me.

“It’s much better! This is a lot better, warmer. Thank you snowy!”

“You are quite welcome, I have a red one, so we will almost match.” I laughed and we started to look for a place to settle for the night.

We decided to stay in the loft above the weapons Master, with a window above us, allowing the cold wind to blow in. We spread out the bedrolls and stretched out, warm in our robes. I gazed up at the open window, watching the snowflakes fall in the torch light. I smiled, every muscle in my body hurting, but still feeling happy. Winter in Neydisa… on a quest… with a good friend… what could be better? I heard Derfel moving about as I drifted off to sleep.


Join us next time as the story unfolds!

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