Penicorn cursed under its breath , ‘blasted mages, why did I fall in with a group with so much magic’ The snow had begin to fall by mid morning, the path they took, was among rocks, and trees, they would not be visible unless someone came within a few feet of them.

The stranger, who had been called Lost , seem tireless , only pausing when being asked , and rarely asked, especially after last nights events. Penicorn was startled that the stranger’s garb, and wounds had already begin to close , and that he seem to be deep in thought but aware of everything around him.

At midday , Lost turn them into the mountains, Penicorn watched the sheer rock cliffs, that seem to go on forever, then suddenly they came on a valley, that was mostly green, fresh water and several dozen wild devil-oxen, huge peaceful beast that tasted great, Penicorn found himself looking at them as dinner.

Lost turn to the group, “I will explain what I can , while we rest up, then we head to join the rebels or king.” Penicorn stares at Lost, “The king!? Are you mad?!” Lost shrugs, “Its an option, I will explain after we eat , and get some sleep.” Penicorn, “What about guard duty? What about…” Lost cuts him off, “Your young charge will handle the guard do , don’t worry about it.”

Penicorn, stares at Lost, “What do you mean? She is a children! What…” Lost shrugs, “Just look beyond the door..” Penicorn walks to the door, grasp the knob in his teeth and turns it, the door swings open.

The boy , named Rastayn by Sara, is saying “Ok .. Ok let me try ..” Rastayn whispers , “Dragon” A tiny dragon pops out of thin air, its cover in feather, and hovers about. Penicorn, growls, “What madness is this?! They are conjuring animals from thin air..” Lost replies, “Your charge is able to summon, even create life , but the boy.. Rastayn is a psionic mageling, very powerful mind within that boy. He can mimic most spells , and creates illusions, that is why we don’t need guards. Your young charge has been summoning rabbits, birds , crickets and other things since she was a baby. She is learning how to control it now. Same with the other spells, her parents only taught her weak spells , because they were afraid of her… ” Penicorn , growls , “How dare you! No parent is..” Lost continues over the Wereanimal, “She has a strong desire to preserve life , she healed me , though I didn’t need it, and she protected her people as much as she could.” Lost turns over “Being a child she had no wish or will to turn against her parent’s desires, so she held back … if she had been able to let go and learn , then nobody would have had to die.” Penicorn growls, “That is a damn lie.”

Lost closes his eyes, “She has chosen her Pedagogue,” Penicorn looks surprised, “The boy?!? Dear Gods , I have failed , she was to be taught by an Elven master.” Lost drifts off , remarking, “She has best teacher for centuries to come with her now, hundred fold better than the eldest Elven master.”

Hours pass , midday fades to midnight, midnight gives way to dawn, just as the sunrises, Sara unpacks the pack, that Lost had with him. She takes the instant stew , cake , bread , and cheese out , and then decides to take out the milk.

Sara sits quietly , it was unnerving to watch the Elven girl, Alisa, summon forth severalCockatrice to stand guard over them. The kettle begins to boil, Lost had some remarkable meals , instant soups and stews , he even had cake and cool milk, she turns to reflect back on the last few days and begins to cry for the first since her adopted father whisked her away.

Penicorn watch the girl cry , Sara he had heard her name was, he felt as if he was spying on her but he badly wanted some of the stew, and cake it had been a year since had seen cake. Sugar was only for the rich , or special events, it was rarely used on common events, but Lost said he had plenty.

Penicorn, sat up slowly , and crossed the room into the kitchen, Sara wipes her eyes, as the Wereanimal whispers, “I am sorry to interrupt you..” he trails off. The girl gets up and fixes a bowl of stew, with bread , cheese and milk , and a huge slice of cake. She offers the bowl and plate to the Wereanimal. She whispers “Its ok , there has been a lot happening lately..” Penicorn understands, and begin to eat , the cake is the first to go.

The younger Alisa awakens , dress in a warm clothing , Penicorn growls to himself, the outfit is of an apprentice mageling, a short robe, with cloak, and beautiful fur hat. She curls up in one of the chairs , and sits quietly, Sara serves her, commenting, “Its beautiful outfit, I didn’t see that in Lost’s belonging?” Alisa smiles , “I made it , well I created the outfit from a choice of them that Rastayn showed me.” Penicorn, comments, “It has body armor.” Alisa nods, “It has plates of leather and Mithril, it protects so when next time we fight…” She trails off, Penicorn growls, “Are you planning to fight?! What kind of madness has that boy, been .. ” Alisa rose in her chair , “HIS NAME IS RASTAYN! And he isn’t afraid of me! He doesn’t treat me like a monster…” She sits down, then whispers, “He told me it was ok to be what I am , whatever that is, and he …” She trails off crying.

Rastayn stands in the doorway holding the leads for the Reptilin, Penicorn growls, “What is this a zoo, why did the Reptilin sleep in here?” Rastayn shrugs, “You slept in here and it was cold in the barn.” Penicorn looks shocked, “Are you trying to insult me b.. Rastayn!”

Lost steps out, “Ok enough, Reptilin did save your bacon twice now. So if she wants to sleep inside its not a problem.” Penicorn, looks at Lost , “Please help me , this children wants to fight, shouldn’t we teach peace…” Lost sits down, “There are people in this world that can’t be reasoned with. If she isn’t willing to fight for what she believes in then nobody else well.” Lost looks at Penicorn, “Make no mistake , she isn’t looking for trouble , nor is anyone at this table but when it comes you have to be ready for it. Peace is a beautiful dream, but the reality is, there is a war coming and its heading towards the Elven people.”

Penicorn realizes he can’t win this argument, the Elven sages will know how to fix this mess. The Wereanimal asks, “How about you tell us what you are about? And who you are?” Lost finishes his bite of stew before saying, “I came here for my apprentice..” Penicorn growls, “But the b.. Rastayn took her right? Is ..” Lost glares , “Do you want me to speak? Or not?” Penicorn settles down, “Please continue , I am sorry.” Lost shrugs, “I came here for my apprentice , in doing so , my memory manage to give birth to the one of the greatest sages any time has ever known, Sage Rastayn.” Rastayn, continues, not surprised he heard this before, Lost continues, “The boy is the first psionic mageling , he managed to pick up some knowledge but didn’t learn about the future. He grasp what he had learn was important…”

Rastayn peers up , this part he couldn’t understand, Lost continues, “What he didn’t grasp was that I am a Chronomancer , part of the Epoch faction, and that Sara is to become my apprentice. Because Sara has a better grasp on magic than me , she will be able to learn from Rastayn and Alisa. In doing so, she is going to effect the timeline, each of them will. Sara is the wild card, she can join either side.” Lost watches Sara, “She can join the king or the Princess, its up to her , I will train her no matter what she decides. Rastayn has decided his alliance already , he hates king Isital, for own reasons.” Penicorn watches Sara , “Why would she want to join the king?!?” Lost shrugs, “The king pays well , but there are any number of reasons, she doesn’t have to decide now anyhow.”

Penicorn , watches her then says , “What else are you not telling us?” Lost drinks a bit of milk, “There is a strong mage that wants to gain control of Alisa , she is a Chronomancer, dead even with Alisa in power.. For moment…” Penicorn raises an eyebrow, “For the moment?” Lost nods, then says to Alisa, “I am sorry to say this in front of you but .. Alisa’s parent feared Alisa’s power, even Alisa fear her power, it has been active since birth. If she had learn control at a younger age, she would be stronger now.. Elven are known to live for centuries , her father wanted a boy to pass the crown down to. There are many in the Elven inner court not to be trusted , nor should we even try to comprise with them.” Lost , looks at Penicorn, “Its her choice though in the end , if she wants to…”

Sara whispers, “I don’t want to fight Rastayn or Alisa , I don’t want to fight with anyone for that fact. I am not the Chronomancer who…” Lost smiles, “No, your talents rest in other magic , time magic will be used to heighten spells, help or hinder others. You are able to withstand the effects of sustained use of time magic , that is why I chose you.” Rastayn whispers, “She is a warrior , that is what the Epoch are, limited in magic , able to use time magic , able to time travel if she wishes it, she is far stronger than most in magic…”

Midday , a reddish-black Roc appears among the Elven rebels’ hidden encampment, nestled deep within thick grove of giant pines, and spurs. The Elven soldiers, surround the Roc, as the rebels gather around.

The Roc has a big scroll tied to its leg, as the Elven counsel members, approach , the Roc vanishes in a puff of smoke, leaving only the scroll. The eldest of the counsel, a Elven sage named Giroin, turns to a soldier, “Be a good lad and bring me that scroll.” The Elven soldier hesitates, then gulps down his fears, walks slowly to the scroll and picks it up. Giroin, and the other counsel watch , as nothing happens to the soldier , one of the younger counsel members , remarks, “It appears to bear the seal of the royal family.” Giroin shivers , ‘Damned be the Gods, the princess is alive.’

The letter reads ,

‘Regards to the Counsel of Elders ,

The princess is safe, she has decided , against my counsel to become the apprentice of young mageling. She has requested to stay , and learn more from these new friends. Expect us to arrive at your doorstep in four weeks time.

The princess has requested that no communicate with us , until she has made up her mind, on her course of action.

Regards ,

Penicorn

Giroin sits facing the window , that opens into the courtyard of his beautiful stone house. He sighs, as a figure steps from the shadows, wearing greenish gray leather armor, quiver slung over its back, crossbow hanging in its hands. The voice that speaks belongs to a woman, “We arrived too late , the battle was drawing to close…” Giroin , nods, “Yes , I read your report, and your claims… but I find them lacking truth.” The woman stiffens, “I do not lie, Saga Giroin.. It is as I said many times.” Giroin shrugs, “It appears that you did not see what you believe you saw, it only proves that the Princess has become more powerful..” The woman , speaks up , “It was not her , I saw with my own eyes. It was this .. This stranger. He moved faster than my eyes could follow, he killed the Offspring… His .. His”

Giroin , sweeps his hand , “He has corrupted the Princess, clearly he is trying to gain control of the Elven empire , by taking the Princess from her rightful master.” The woman, quietly speaks, “I do not believe he is the one who took her as his apprentice… There was a boy , teaching her magic…” Giroin, growls , “Silence… you and your company were clearly duped by the stranger’s magic… Bah you and your Rangers couldn’t even follow them in broad daylight..” The woman stiffens again, she replies defiantly , “They left no trace of their passing…” Giroin waves the woman away, and that was the last straw for Reti Sera, she did not being here anyway.

Reti Sera is a strong woman, she was one of the first women Rangers in the Elven empire, but she was treated differently, often dismissed or overlooked simply because of her gender. She had secretly created the Pendragon, Rangers , Knights , Wizards , Priest, Monks , and anyone else she felt was noteworthy. She had a lot of pride in the group , because they were good, better than the so called Elite Rangers, who had no spine in her opine.

Reti had taken the name from Elven and Human history , before there was a royal family, before there was a king and queen, the Elven Valley had been ruled by a council representing the different tribes and races in the valley. The valley and government was simply named the Pendragon Estate.

That night , she took a vote , and like she had already known, the Pendragon left with her, to pursue their own goals.

The first week , was simple training , the day was divided up into three hour blocks, the all the training center on the Princess’s ability to focus her will and her magic. Under Rastayn’s direction , Princess skip most of the mantra spells, went directly into mastering low level spells, by the end of the second day Alisa had master most of them.

Sara was having a harder time grasping the basic spells, by the end of the first week , Sara had learn several basic spells , and few advance spells. Her skills excelled at combat, and time magics.

Penicorn was distressed by the way the Princess was handled, she was pitted against illusion and then real monsters, sometimes alone, and without magic. Rastayn pushed her beyond her normal limits, pushed her pass exhaustion , hungry and pain.

The second week was more grueling , three hours of magic study and training, then three hours of morning exercise, which sometimes included fighting Sara, or even Lost, and then break for lunch. The remainder of the day of was spent , learning to control her spells , many times did a spell get miscast or Alisa would attempt to modify the current spell resulting in chaos.

Alisa sat at the table, Penicorn out somewhere , Lost and Rastayn hunting, leaving her alone with Sara. Suddenly Alisa , asks Sara, “Wat cha planning on do’nng?” Sara , watches the girl for a moment, then answers, “I don’t know.. I haven’t really thought about it. My heart isn’t with the king Isital, from my personal experience , I believe the man to be a butcher. And.. And I don’t know much about the Elven plight , Rastayn has told me much on history and stories…” Alisa , looks down into her cup of hot chocolate, she whispers, “I am just a tool to both groups, I can feel it. But my heart belongs with my people , the good and the bad ones. I just want everything to be ok.”

Sara smiles, “It will be , you have grown very strong in two weeks.” Alisa turns her face to Sara, with tears in her eyes she says , “Promise me, that whatever happens we will be friends.” Sara smiles, “Always nothing will change that, I promise you.”

Isital estate, the great king , having been stricken with a spell that traded his vitality for greatness years ago , when he was in his prime , watches the court wizards before him. They make him sick , if he didn’t need them on the battlefield , then he would have them all piked , or beheaded, he smiles suddenly at that thought.

King Isital during his prime was a large barrel chest man, standing nearly seven feet tall, stronger than most men, but that was gone now. He turns as guards allow a tall thin mage into the court room.

Sevenivth appears, briefly kneels before the king , “Evening King Isital,” The king waves a hand, “What have you for me elf?” Sevenivth stiffens , then says, “The last of the Elven stronghold has fallen, all that remains is the capital city, Rtakivev, where the Elven regulators, nobles and knights are making a stand. That is all that remains.” King Isital smiles, “But what about the stranger, and the Princess? Where are they at?” Sevenivth answers, “They will be dealt with in due time, they will be unable to take part in the siege.”

Sevenivth’s Keep , at the end of the Isital estate , a beautiful woman of her early forties, rifles though Sevenivth, she is Sevenivth’s apprentice and lover. The later is the only way , for a woman to gain power in this world. Her name is Ceresti, she has had as many common names as she has lovers, which is too many to count.

She combs over Sevenivth’s notes , she reads to herself ‘I have surmised that the stranger whom fought the Offspring, is known as a Chronomancer, he has a limited ability to control time. The spells he used are called “Haste” “Slow” “Fast” and “Regeneration” , the spell which killed the Offspring called “Distort” puzzles me to no end, it screws with space and time , and makes me sick when I attempt the spell. Though I can use “Haste” and “Slow” the effects are not worth the effort , I get seasick when I use these spells. “Fast” and “Regeneration” cause me to become dizzy, it took me several days to recover from the attempts to cast them. The boy , is a Psionic , while , many will believe him to be the first , he is not, I seen his spells before , it appears that is all he is able to do is simple illusions.’ Ceresti quickly shuts the book, she glimpses, ‘The girl , with the Chronomancer, has innate protection from magic , the child of a wizard or an apprentice mageling. She doesn’t seem capable of anything more than mantra spells ,’

By the fourth week , Penicorn had notice a change in its young charge, she had grown strong, independent, and unafraid of her power. Penicorn watched in amazement , as the children who had only weeks early could only manage small light shows , now created large firestorms, or turn the earth to glass.

Sara approaches Lost , his back is to her, she whispers, “I have made my choice.” Lost doesn’t turn, he only listens, she states softly , “I am going to protect Alisa,” then she adds even softer, “And Rastayn, they don’t need it , but I somehow know that is the right thing to do.” Lost turns to her, only saying, “They need you with them, support and friends. Alisa doesn’t have much in the way of friends. To her people , she is instrument, to be played then cast aside when this concert ends.” Sara , asks, “Did you bring them with us to ensure I would help them?”

Lost watches her face, then says, “No you made that choice awhile back , with Rastayn, you treated him with great care, since I arrived.” Lost adds, “If I had suggested parting company with either you would have protested, you claimed them both , and elected to become their guardian.”

That evening Lost, and his little descend from the mountain retreat, crossing into the wooded valley of the Elven people. Penicorn watched his young charge with a weary eye, she had been practicing to maintain Shield spells, a vary of Protection From, Enchant Sword, Bless Armor and she was concealing her Magical ability.

Lost had dressed the same as he had been when they first encountered, Sara is dressed in a jacket, with leather and Mithril, with a gather made with Mithril plates. Sara wears the symbol and colors, of the royal court , since the outfit was created by Alisa. Sara weapon choice is a long spear, and Mithril shield. Her long now deep red hair , hangs around her face. Alisa is dressed in robes , and cloaks, with leather and Mithril plates, while Rastayn is dressed nearly the same as Alisa , but carries a Mithril buckler. Both magelings , wear Elven short swords, that have been enchanted with protective spells , and elemental effect magics.

For hours they weave between the huge pines, and boulders, heading east, circling around where the Elven encampment should be. Penicorn was beyond annoyed , wondering ‘What can that child be thinking, not trusting her own people.’

At the base of a large hill , Lost takes them slowly south, he whispers something, that causes Sara to vanish. Penicorn, growls in his throat, “These are friends, there is no need to treat them like they are going to harm the Princess or any of her allies.” Sara , speaks up before Lost, “Just being careful, Peni.”

In short order , Elven Rangers begin to shadow the small band , appearing from time to time to inspect them, noting the apprentice garb of the princess, and attempting detection spells on Lost, which of course fail. Reptilin, tosses her head about , watching the forest with the shadow vanishing and being replaced by Elves.

A group of Elven greet the small band , Giroin stands at the head of the group , Penicorn whispers, “Some of the counsel members are missing.” The group of Elven are quietly joined by Elven Rangers, with long bows, Elven bows and crossbows.

Alisa smiles, “Greeting Giroin, where is everyone? I had assumed that more Elven than just the Rangers survived King Isital’s rampage…” Giroin, produces a scrolls , “Get down from the mount, little girl.” A counsel member whispers, “We are sorry for this..” Penicorn growls, “What is the meaning of this, address her with some respect!” Giroin , reads from the scroll, “For treacherous action against your own people , the Counsel of Elder hear by strip you of title and responsibilities of said title. You are to be arrested and …” Penicorn growls, “Damn you Giroin how can she have betrayed the Elven people! What actions do you speak of?” Giroin , calmly answers, “The first point is that the Princess has taken a non Elven master to train her in magic , which only means that she is being controlled by an outside source. Second she has broken pivotal rules regarding the spells, and way those spells are used, you were at the battle with the Offspring , and clearly saw her use her magic to kill creatures and her own people.”

Penicorn watches him, “She was protecting herself…” Then Penicorn asks, “What do you mean her own people?” Giroin waves his hand, “Clearly a massive magic was used on her father and his company we have proof she attempt that cause those deaths.” Alisa , watches Giroin, “I did not use any magic then, I was too scared. A fear you put into me , yourself..” Giroin, eyes glaze over then quickly he recovers , “You will have your chance to speak at…”

Sevenivth suddenly appears, “Let’s end this reverie,” Giroin turns to the wizard, “I told you to stay in my house we would have gotten her to surrender, now..” Penicorn growls, “What madness is this, that wizard tried to kill us.” Sevenivth watches them, then states softly , “It was all business, the deal is simple princess, you come with me without a fight, and your people within Rtakivev will be spared.” Alisa watches the wizard, Sevenivth, then quietly, “And what condemn them to slave labor? Maybe exile? Do you really believe that I would trust your words…” Giroin , grunts, “They are your people , you must…” Alisa , snaps at him, “I AM NOT A BARGAINING CHIP, to be tossed about or used to gain you a favorable status…” She looks at Sevenivth , “My answer is no , I know you will not break the siege soon, it’s a stalemate right now.”

Sevenivth , cast causing him to split into varies images, as the Elven Ranger begin to take aim, Alisa and Rastayn begin to work spells on the archers , some of the archer go instantly blind , others are polymorphed into rabbits , crickets and other harmless creatures.

Skeleton and zombie soldiers , appear from the woods , surrounding them. More Elven archers arrive, Giroin cast several protection spells on himself as he flees behind a tree. While Sevenivth lets missiles of magic , and glowing elemental spheres into the children on top of the Reptilin, only to find them well protected from the magics he has decided to use.

Lost crush a skeleton warrior , then shatters another , as Penicorn takes down the zombies, tackling them into trees or the ground then crushing their skulls. More things to begin to appear , giant spiders, kobolds , Giant Insect s, shadowy monsters, Lizardman, half Elven knights, and giant animals.

A fireball erupts from the hands of Alisa , turning the monsters into a mass of flaming bodies. Alisa summon huge blocks of ice to crush the other monsters, as Rastayn uses psionic magics to turn the monsters on themselves.

.Sevenivth and Giroin only a matter yards from each other , watch Penicorn begins to make his way towards them. Sevenivth creates a Flaming Sphere, and launches towards the Wereanimal. The ball hits the Wereanimal, a knocks him back , ablaze , but Penicorn keeps coming. Giroin summons up group of Faerie knights, which quickly rush towards the Wereanimal , their tiny spears and shield at the ready.

Then Sevenivth notices for the first time, ‘The Gods damn me they are missing one, I doubt she died but its..’ Suddenly Sevenivth turns to his left , “Servant! Servant!” The Naga servant suddenly , “Sire?” Sevenivth , grabs her tunic , “Use the scroll that I gave you , quickly tell Ceresti she is ridding into an ambush! Go now…” Sevenivth turns back to the battle, if he could leave he would, for he loves Ceresti more than anything in the world.

Penicorn is more annoyed by the Faerie knights , then he notices Sevenivth weaving a spell , then in a matter of seconds , a massive black gate way opens up , six demons commonly known as Death Armor, huge knights dressed in black armor , black enclosed helms, wielding a variety of weapons , great swords, and great axes.

Suddenly one of the Death Armors, turns on Giroin , the elder screams, as he turns a Ice spell on the Demon, but it has little effect, the great sword comes down, cutting and crushing Giroin’s left arm and shoulder. The elderly elf , looks in disbelief, the pain engraved on his name, he begins to cast Icelance , the spell launches a massive beam of solid ice through the demon, impaling it. But the demon merely breaks the ice lance. The big sword is drawn high and back , Giroin panic prevents him from teleporting , or healing or anything useful.

Alisa voice breaks the battlefield , “Sunburst !” A beam punches through the cloudy sky, and engulfs the Death Armor , the beam burns the Death Armor, melting it , producing a massive hole in earth. Giroin watches dumbly , murmuring something about wetting himself.

Suddenly the Death Armors are moving faster than Penicorn can follow , but the Wereanimal knows this spell’s name , ‘Haste’ Lost is just two steps faster , his two handed Katana , shattering one Death Armor , then slicing another in half , a third loses both an arm and leg.

A blast of Psionic energy eradicates another Death Armor, all of this before Penicorn can blink. Sevenivth stares amazed , ‘Those Death Armors aren’t very strong but they have amazing speed, but that stranger is much faster. Wait there is one more’ Just as Sevenivth thinks that, the sixth Death Armor , appears in front of Alisa , its great axe coming down, the child seem unaware of the attack.

Just as the axe is about to split Alisa , she lifts both hands and stops the blade from carve her into twins. She watches the Demon eyes turns from deep reds to a sickening pinkish white , she remembers what Lost had told when her training begin , ‘Everything demon to the mightiest king fears something,’ and she remembers him saying ‘everything in this world can be bested by another, never settle into thinking you are the best , strive to make your stronger , push pass your limits.’ The Demon , feels nothing as its body is shatter, and its life force is snuffed out like a candle.

Sevenivth turns , and runs , his mind scrambled , his thoughts goto his lover and apprentice, he trips several times, his magic begin to fade , the woods become a blur. Then he suddenly slumps over, tired, lost , and confused. He looks around himself , and closes his eyes, trying to focus on a spell to take him home.

Suddenly a noise startles him, he turns , and watches an adorable bunny rabbit come out of the forest, he sighs, then angrily and bravely , screams at the rabbit , “Be gone , or I will turn you to stew.” The rabbit stops and looks at Sevenivth, a voice whispers, “So you murder Alisa’s parents.. She requested that we not give chase to you , but I think since I am her Pedagogue, I decided on your fate.” Suddenly the rabbit turns into a small drake, Sevenivth breaks into a dead run, in the next few hours the illusions which follow him, drive him mad , when he finally does stop running he finds himself trapped within his own mind, memories , and nightmares mixed into one. Sevenivth is lucky or unlucky to be found by a group of monks, that keep him alive , in his waking nightmare.

Lost watches the young Princess , his thoughts are on his apprentice, then the Alisa asks him, “Are you ready to go?” Lost nods, he turns to the troop of Elven who had ambushed them, they are exiled, and Giroin might not make it though the night.

Giroin watches them leave, he puzzles over what he might have done to his people , Alisa had told him , ‘A troop of Isital, was moving towards the hiding place family of the rebels, most of them are women and children, most of there menfolk are in Rtakivev, the company guarding the encampment can’t hold off a siege for long.’ Giroin shifts , feeling the poison feed through his body , ‘He had sent troops , twenty knights and a dozen archers there two days ago, but he had not heard from them.’ He looks at the group.

Reti Sera had been following the girl ,who bears the Princess’s symbol , and who was seen traveling with the Princess, but now she was heading south. This girl made only a small attempt to conceal her tracks , she stopped twice once to buy a lesser Wereanimal , and again a day and half later to rest the animal.

Sara watch the skyline , the company of Isital knights was stalled at the Jalanal river , the warmer days had caused a mild flood, and swept most of their supplies down river. Sara , had made camp , in a small shelter grove , near a huge rock , only if someone walked up to the camp would they notice it. They would miss her though , as she kept out of the fire light , and used spells to hide herself from detection.

Reti dressed in a grayish riding cloak, watches the area, then starts toward the first place she would make camp. In a matter of minutes , she finds the camp, when she has approached close enough to call in a safe voice , she half whispers, “Hail

Sara smiled to herself , ‘Finally’ , Sara answers , “Step into the light ,” Reti step into the fire light, and watches the shadows , but she can’t find where the voice came from, she decides to sit , she is cold anyhow. Sara quickly detects the area, Reti feels the magic dance over her, and then Sara reveals herself.

Reti breaks open her pack to retrieve some semi stale bread, Sara , takes bacon and a pan from her pack and , Reti comments, “Wow is that cake?!” Sara smiles, “Yeah want some? Its got berries in it though..” Reti nods , and forgets everything, as a huge slab of cake passed to her.

“You are wearing the symbol of the royal family..” comments though a mouth full of cake. Sara nods, pushing the cured bacon around, “She made this armor for me,” Reti raises an eyebrow, “Uh friend, the royal family are not tailors, nor are they blacksmith.” She nods , “Princess Alisa has many talents, she made the cake as well..”

Reti curses herself ‘In the excitement of the cake , I didn’t notice the berry mixture something only Elven bakers can do right, who is this girl’ Sara comments , “So you are the leader of the Pendragon?” Reti stops chewing , then she asks , “Who are you?” Sara extends her hand, “Sara , a friend to Alisa.. I mean Princess Alisa , she dispatch me to move , or defend the Elven families from the Isital knights heading toward. I was to be met on my way by Reti Sera, a woman to be trusted and befriended.” Reti watches her then says , “I recognize you now, you were one of those defending Princess Alisa and her Wereanimal , Penicorn. Where are the others?” Sara looks past the fire , “Penicorn insisted we meet with Giroin , or the slime as I called him. But Alisa, figured it to be a trap of some kind, my Pedagogue, advised her it wasn’t a waste of time because there are soldiers there that will join her.. Alisa decided for me to south, she requested it.” Reti nods, “Princess Alisa was always fair , but like her father and mother hopes for the best outcome too often. Giroin more than likely, tried to save his bacon, by using her a bargaining chip.”

Sara turns the bacon over , then pulls from her pack a few eggs , Reti eyes widen , “You are a noble? The cake, eggs?” Sara smirks , “I am no more noble than any other peasant girl, Alisa is gifted in magic , she created a few edible goods.”

Ceresti on top of a giant Lizard , pauses as she notes a dead body ahead, she quickly determine it’s the Naga servant of her master Sevenivth. She commands her mount to head toward the body, one of the commander , and two body guards follow after her.

She slips down , the body has been ravaged by something , more than likely humanoid , as the wounds were made by knives or very short swords. Ceresti searches the body, robbed , and sections removed, the edible sections and a few of the scales said to be for good luck.

Ceresti curses , ‘Damn be that wizard , always interfering with my plans, first there was the screw up with the Elven child and her parents, then he failed to take her even after having cornering her, and now this!!’ She kicks the body, “Whatever message this wyrm was carrying was taken, along with the useful meat , it seems that Sevenivth failed once again.” The commander, lean thin knight, with dark eyes and a fat nose , breathes , “I am not surprised.” Ceresti, climbs back up on her mount, then turns back to the column of soldiers.

On a hilltop , two thieves , both wearing greyish black studded leather outfits, sit on top of small bears, watching the soldiers , five minutes earlier , and both thieves would have been turn into goo. The younger thief , just older than twelve , watches his half brother, “Reckon we should get that scroll to someone who can read?” she asks. Her brother shrugs, “The meat is more important , its been a while since we had real meat.” She presses him, “But she surely looked afire mad about seeing that dead critter.. And seventeen silver pieces isn’t much to get afire mad about , ‘specially with all that finery on her..” Her brother shrugs , and turns the mount back to the meeting place, he doesn’t care about too much more than food and gold , in fact if he could sell his baby half sister he surely would, she just another mouth needing to be fed.

Reria, watches her half-brother Warta, ridding away, she sighs and follows after him, as she has been doing since her mother had left them alone in a nameless village a few years ago.

Sara and Reti watch the impressive army of maybe a thousand knights, archers, and cavalry, moving though the open country, their position is hidden by small cluster of rocks. A rider approaches them, being careful not to stir up the dust, the Elven Ranger greets them before saying, “We found a Naga corpse looted , and cut up in a way which suggest its body was used for meat. We found traces of tracks heading north by east , it appears this area is known for the bandits.” Reti , looks at Sara , “Not much we can do in this open country , there are too many of them to attack out right , it will be three days before they hit the forest , and will have to stop for at least a day to cross Toonacamy river.”

Sara looks down at the advancing column , ‘If only we could have moved the families, but Reti counsel is right there is no where to run to. They will just hunt them down, again and kill them. The siege of Rtakivev was going poorly for both sides. She wish , Lost or Alisa would come and take over but they are moving slowly do to the growing followers Alisa is amassing , soldiers , Human and Elven alike.’ She turns to the Elven Ranger who had a brought the message , “How vital do you believe it is that we pursue the bandits?” Reti smiles, the Elven are not use to being asked for advise, the Ranger stammers, “I don’t believe it is too important , but.. The Naga is a messenger, who might have been holding vital information.”

Reria watches her half-brother ,Warta turn his mount to the main road, she curses under her breath and follows, as she leaves the woods, a company of seven knights rounds the corner. Warta , lets out a cry, as one knight levels a crossbow and fires, the bolt catching Warta’s mount in the throat , and tearing through it , and striking Warta’s left arm. The knights begin to ride down on him.

Reria spurs her mount, and catches her half-brother, who claws and climbs on to the saddle, as Reria’s mount sprints away. She is vaguely aware of the knights chasing her, her heart is pounding , and her thoughts are on her brother.

Then suddenly , her brother hits her, with his forearm, the blow stuns her, the next blow throws her from the mount, she hits the ground with a thud. Her brother quickly takes over, and spurs the mount on, leaving to be trampled by the on coming knights.

For the first time , Reria begins to cry, and she shuts her eyes , her finger dig into the earth, bracing for the pain.

The knights watch the girl get thrown from her mount , they barrel faster , hopping to be the first to taste their prize. Suddenly there is a blur , and a girl is standing over the fallen female ridder. The stranger , wears the symbols of the Elven court but is human, she lifts a hand.

Reti holds her men back , as the seven knights on horseback race towards Sara , then knight, horse, and the very dust become a dance of slow motion, slower then slower still. Sara stays hold her hand, whispering something, then the knights and mounts freeze , in mid motion.

Reria looks up through tears eyes as a girl is speaking to her , “Are you hurt? That was nasty fall.” Reria , looks back to see the riders and mount , frozen in time, she turns to the girl, who begins to help her to her feet. Reria follows , vaguely aware that a few Elven Rangers are helping her.

The suddenly the knights are moving again, they struggle to command their frighten mounts , that bucking and trying to toss them. One by one the knights are thrown into the earth , they get up , facing five Elven, a shaken thief and that girl.

The apparent leader of this group, thrust out both hands, “We want no trouble with that one.” The other knights nod , Reti smiles , then says , “Strip then , armor , weapons , quilted pads , everything.” The knights look at each other than begin to do so.

Reti bind the group with a spider silk spell, then allows her Rangers to pick apart the armor , and weapons leaving the jewels , coins , and bottles for the shaken thief. As the Rangers are picking apart the armor , a group approaches.

Sara watches the group , dressed like the thief girl, the oldest one maybe thirty has an eye for treasure , and weapons , she notes him sizing up the Rangers. The oldest is maybe hundred pounds overweight , and his voice is soft , “Greetings , that was very brave this you did for our friend.” Warta comments , “I was getting help, sis, no hard feelings.” Reria looks up to the oldest man, then to her brother, as the reality sinks in, “I almost died”

Sara shrugs, “Almost doesn’t count, a few weeks ago I was in the same situation.” The oldest thief , nods, “Aye it was a kind act…” Sara cuts him off and says to Warta, “The scroll and the half the coins from the Naga belong to the girl, she has first pick on these items. She won’t be traveling with you any more.” Warta begins , angrily then quickly recalls what this girl did , “You assume too much , I am her brother… I believe its best if she decides.” Reria , looks at Sara , “And what you have me do for you?” Sara smiles, at her , “I would have you do nothing but I will give you a chance to change your life , anything has to better than this life.”

Warta watches as half sister, says, “I will come with you…” Warta slumps into the saddle.

A few hours later , Reti pulls along side , Sara, “No offense but why take her along?” Sara , looks down at her mount, “She has skill at riding , and if I remember right your Ranger said that the Naga was hit by an arrow , the first shot disable it. And…” Sara sighs, “That fellow of her’s was going to get let her die and sooner rather than later, she would have.” Reti nods, “Princess Alisa has truly made some good friends.”

Reria finally owned a horse, it was part dragon, and had six legs, but it was her’s. In a heartbeat her life had changed, a beautiful long bow , a real sword, and a pouch full of coins. She tied herself to the saddle horn, and closed her eyes, she remember Sara’s promise , ‘Anything you want to become or learn I will make sure it happens.’ Then Reria fell asleep, she thought about how cruel her half brother had been.

The message read ,

‘Dearest Love,

It appears that the blasted princess has found out about our plans, as one of her numbers is missing. Scratch the plan, and head due north, to join the siege at Rtakivev.

Deepest Love,

Sevenivth ‘

Sara watches Reti read the message , as Reti whispers, “We lucked out on this one.” Reti explains, “the area north of here is desert like very open ground, it was created by scorching the earth with magic, there would have been no way to stop this many troops in open ground. But the forest to the east , is dense and overgrown, we can strike their even with a small number of soldiers.”

A commander appears before Ceresti, she glares at him, “Princess Alisa is alive , in the north amassing troops , she is making her way towards Rtakivev.” Ceresti nods, “And she will be killed there, King Isital’s reinforcement should arrive before she does, they already greatly out number her force I assume.” The commander nods, then he adds , “We found a thief carrying Naga scales , and items belonging to Naga of Sevenivth.” She turns, “And?” The commander , comments, “The thief swears he can’t read , and used a few of the scrolls to make fire, but the pieces we recovered appear it’s a …” Ceresti , watches the commander, “A love letter of some kind , saying goodbye because his plans had failed or some such.” Ceresti curses the wizard, then shrugs, “What did you do with the thief?” The commander , shakes his head , “He was hung or killed in some fashion.” She nods, “That will be all,”

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