Stormcaller – Sehanine’s Story

Stormcaller …

It’s a title that paints a particular picture in the mind. One that hints of a tempest, of swirling winds and storms without control.

She wasn’t much to look at, not as tall as an elf, shorter than most humans. Her size and appearance you would expect a cheerful, carefree type, but her dark mood often reflected her calling … Stormcaller.

All and on, she pretty much keeps to herself, avoiding conflict with citizen and raider alike, but those who penetrate her barrier find a friend who is loyal to a fault and chatty beyond one. Like the strong winds driven before a storm, her moods and energies reflect what she is … Stormcaller.

 


 

RUN!

Sehanine looked over her shoulder and prayed as she ran.

THEY ARE COMING!

What is that spell – why can’t I remember it correctly.   I want to be anyplace but here …

Oh why did I chose this place to be tonight … I could have been hunting where they do not frequent …

KEEP RUNNING!

She was approaching the border and all of a sudden the footsteps behind her faded …

Sehanine pulled up and turned to look behind her, the raiders were gone.

A deep breath and a sigh and she summoned the spell that took her to the relative safety of her home. At least there she knew who her enemies were.

 

Sehanine tossed and turned in her sleep, again the dream had returned … not a dream, but instead the ever present memory that would not fade …

The village was burned beyond recognition, the bodies of the villagers were scattered about, the moans of the dying mixed with the smell of burning flesh and fresh blood. Scarcely a place was left untouched by the fire, but there was one. In a corner of what used to be an animal shelter, the boards and straw moved slightly, and a small hand was seen pushing away the straw, the eyes of its owner peering out with fear. The face of a young girl was smeared with soot. Some of her hair had been scorched and a trickle of blood ran down her temple where a board had struck. After what seemed like the longest time, Sehanine pushed the board away and moved tentatively out from the pile of singed straw. She stayed crouched low with almost an animal like way of walking, stopping to sniff the air and listen before she determined it was safe to move on. She took only long enough to find the body of her mother before leaving the devastation. Searching through the dead woman’s pouch, a silent tear running down her cheek, she found what she was looking for and tucked it away in her belt along with a few gold coins. The small hand closed the eyes that once gazed up her with love, and then Sehanine turned and left the village. Her movements were more like that of a wild thing of the night instead of a small, alone child …

She awoke with a start, nostrils flaring and eyes ablaze and her hand reaching for her weapon alongside the bed. Realizing it was a dream, she exhaled and fell back against the pillows. Staring at the ceiling, she knew that any useful sleep was over for this night.

 

A lone wolf crested the hill, her gray coat glistening in the sun, the wind from the sea brushing it backwards against the direction it grew.   The wolf was immense, larger than those of the surrounding plains, and her eyes were green – not the golden brown of the others. Above her left ear was a slight line of white hair, indicating a scar underneath. She took a moment to scan all she could see, turning even to look the way she came, her nose taking in the wind from behind. She lacked the tracking skills of her wild cousins, so instead she had to rely on a combination of cunning and caution. What she lacked of tracking, she made up with intelligence, Sehanine was growing stronger each day and there was no place she wouldn’t dare to travel, and that made the journey more worth the time. It had been many years since escaping her burned out village, and the frightened girl with a wild animal’s grace had grown to be a young woman. In human years, she was an adult, but in her Elven lineage she still had more to learn.

When she had left the ruins of her village she had stumbled blindly for several days, not knowing the direction she was going, the crack on her skull had given her a concussion that pushed her in and out of full consciousness until she had finally collapsed in a thicket of willow along a stream. She awoke an unknown time later to a wolf tenderly cleaning her wound and washing the smudges from her face with its tongue. She was too weak to escape or fight and instead accepted the ministrations of the wolf. After a thorough face wash, the animal seemed to want her to follow. Holding to his mane, she pulled herself up to a swaying stand. Tentatively, she placed one foot before the other. The wolf moved off slow at first but then sped up. Soon she was running along as being propelled by unseen wings, and she felt the weakness all but leaving from her legs.
Then, as suddenly as they had started on their journey, the wolf stopped and scanned the forest ahead before howling, its chin lifted to the sky. From the forest came a figure appearing as if it was formed from the surrounding trees. A beautiful Elven woman came forward with a smile on her lips, “Hello Sehanine, we’ve been looking for you.” Before she could speak, Sehanine heard a sound behind her and turned, the magnificent wolf that had been her guide turning before her eyes into the human form of another Elf.

Startled back to the present, Sehanine looked around once again to assure that she was still safe. Dropping her wolf form she spoke the spell that would take her to her home, her hunting having been interrupted by her thoughts of the past.

 

Sehanine looked up from the weapon she was cleaning in her lap to watch some children run past as a group. The oldest was telling the rest about the great adventure they would have, and the others were following almost as a hunting pack in search of game. As she watched the children run off, her mind drifted back to her youth …

The wolves ran silently, three of them – two adults, one about half the size of the others. Although they looked like the other wolves, they were much larger, and instead of running head low and sniffing, they popped to the tops of ridges to look around, paying close attention to distant objects and not game. The objects they hunted were human, and they were not like the other wolves because they would follow their prey for days if it was needed. As if one, they turned and headed from the plains to the forest, and as if on cue dropped to single file as they entered the woods, the male bringing up the rear. Once into the trees they nearly disappeared and then they were gone.
Three Elves approached the camp, a tall, stately High Elf woman who was tucking a loose strand of hair behind a barrette, followed by a Wood Elf man and part Elf girl of about 14 seasons. They looked remarkably alike at first glance, but further perspective saw subtle differences with the girl that hinted of a darker hue of the skin and hair. The man and girl stopped a little way from the camp and circled wrestler style, vying with great intensity to best the other at grabbing and maintaining control. Just as the girl got a good grip on the man, he turned quickly to a tiger and leapt away. “No fair,” Sehanine cried, “‘I had you …” “No Eärlindë,” Elrohir said, using her Elven name, “there is no ‘fair’ involved when it is your life that is at stake. You use every means at your command to break free. Be always thinking of the moves your enemy does not know already.” Nienna glanced up from the small cook stove she was using to prepare their rations, eyeing the girl with a measuring look as if to say something, then shook her sadly and set the bowls out on the table. “It is ready” was all she said.

Sehanine felt a tug on her robe and woke from her trance to see one of the children. She held a barrette in her hand and, with the trust that all children of Itanthea have towards its adults, asked if Sehanine could fasten it for her. She gathered the child’s tresses and clamped the barrette securely, tucking in one loose strand before smiling and sending the child on her way.

 

Sehanine let the wheel spin to a stop and folded the garment she’d been working on. The sound of the fountain and smell of the trees in her forest garden where she had set her wheel triggered memories of a long time ago …

“What do you mean my father is still alive?” Sehanine asked, looking first at the face of the speaker, and then at that of her mate. They were sitting around a crystal that served as a campfire, giving off warmth and light, but no smoke. Wards hid the camp from wildlife and all except the most observant of searchers. “My mother has … had … always said he was dead … ” Although her hair was brushed and braded down her back, the wound above her ear healed, and her face clean, she still bore the wild look that she had when she arrived with the druids. Her eyes glistened for a moment then her face hardened. It was a look that would become her trademark for the next several years.
Noticing the hardening of the continence of the young woman, Nienna glanced to Elrohir with concern, then her face resumed the expression carried more often by most of her high elf kin. Her mate, Elrohir Táralóm, was a wood elf of unknown years. By training he was a druid against his mate’s shaman. Finally he spoke, “Did your mother ever speak of her mother?” His voice was low, hinting of the wind through the trees or the voice of the wolf. Sehanine stared at him a moment and shook her head, a puzzled look showing in her expression before it hardened again. “Your grandmother was my sister, a Wood Elf. That is why I have brought you here. You are the only family I have left,” he paused, allowing the words to sink in.
A light of understanding, and of intense anger, shown in Sehanine’s eyes. The wild look replaced by one of an animal at prey. “You are saying that I am the bastard daughter of a Dark Elf, and my Wood Elf kin have never acknowledged me?” Elrohir straightened up, his gaze meeting hers with the same intensity, the family resemblance clear in the soft light. “No,” he said with some force, “your mother left of her own and for many years we did not know where she was.” His voice softened, “When I finally located her, long after her parents had died, she asked me to leave and never contact her again.”
“I kept track of you both from a distance, and when I heard of the attack on the village I came as quickly as I could,” Elrohir continued, “I arrived too late and it was only by chance that I picked up your trail.”

 

It had taken quite some time to climb the cliff, but the view from the ledge was worth it. Over the years she thought it would have become easier, but if nothing else it had gotten harder as time and weather had worn the handholds down. Another few years and it might become impossible to climb. As she sat and looked across the bay and to the sea beyond, she recalled the first time she climbed the cliff.

The morning’s exercises had gone well. Nienna had pronounced that if she was going to hate someone, then she needed to practice her fighting skills until she no longer thought about them, and they became part of her life. Hatred, she said, was one of the highest motivators of the fighter, if she could focus her hatred should would be unbeatable. Sehanine had taken the words to heart and thrown everything she had into fighting, so much so that Elrohir had complained that she was neglecting her studies of the healing arts. It was one such argument that drove her from the camp and up the cliff.
The ends of her fingers were abraded and bloody from gripping the handholds, the toes of her boots had nearly worn through. She cursed under her breath at the damage to her boots, she would hear harsh words from Nienna about that. Her shins, knees, and elbows were abraded from slipping as she climbed, but she had grimaced through the pain and kept moving until she reached a ledge near the top. As she sat on the ledge, she allowed the anger to consume her. Since learning of her father’s existence and of his betrayal of her mother – and possibly her village – the thought of revenge was always not far from the top of her mind. She knew that she would only have one chance and, fail or succeed, that chance could very well take her life. She didn’t care, there was nothing else to live for.   Elrohir, as her last living relative that she knew of or cared about, had his mate Nienna to comfort him. She had no one and wanted no one. Very soon, when her training as a Druid was completed, it wouldn’t matter anymore.

 

She had ridden out to where their camp once stood. She had no clue where they had gone. She now understood the extent of their love that kept her safe those long years and taught her the ultimate skills she would need in order to survive. Perhaps even to take a life…

Two women circled and postured, each measuring the other and attempting to gauge an advantage. The High Elf stood head and chest taller than the younger half-Elf, whose features were relaxed and calculating – icy cold against that of her opponent. The half-Elf’s expression was that of pure hatred and anger, her entire form had taken on almost a gray-black aura. A scar just seen in front of her ear was pulsing, and her brows were furrowed. She leapt like a wolf on its prey. Each attack was swift and each blow carried true, to be parried and countered with an equally deadly one in turn.
Elrohir looked from the side with concern. Recently with each of the matches Sehanine had gotten stronger and more determined – and less likely to control her actions. The last time she had fallen into a rhythmic trance as she matched the attacks and countered with her own. She had grown nearly to equal the great skill of his mate. Nienna insisted that she could still control the fight, but he knew this would be the last one. They had taught her all they could.

 


 

She was sitting with her back into the corner closest to the door, a dingy, worn black robe covering from head to toe, only the smallest bit of her face showing beneath the hood. Her face was gaunt, and her eyes held a look mixed between haunted and intense hatred. The look told anyone who approached that they should give her a wide berth or it would be their last. The inn was frequented by soldiers of Tayhom, from the lower officers down to the conscripts. Here they drank and tried to pretend that killing wasn’t their job. She’d been sitting in the same place for days, ordering beer and bread. Sometimes she’d order the hardy stew that, although nearly flavorless, had suitable nutrition for a soldier. At first the soldiers had noticed the still form and made inquiries of the gender, race, and purpose of the stranger. She had paid the innkeeper and his staff well, they answered the questions as she had told them to. After a week she was no longer seen by them, and then totally left their minds as they spoke about their daily activity, where they had been, and who among the officers gave them which tasks. Who was fair, and more importantly, who was hated. It didn’t take long for her to discover that their hatred of a particular officer matched her own.

A gray wolf moved through the shadows to get closer to the post. Each step was calculated, and when she stopped it was where she would blend into the background. Finally, she was satisfied that she was close enough to observe the patrols as they entered and left the encampment. She transformed to her human form and inched closer by crawling on the ground. Today her robe was rough spun, she found that it blended with the dirt much better than the black. Plucking a root off the ground to chew on, she settled to watch. It would take several days to determine if the officer she wanted actually patrolled with his troops, or if he stayed within the camp. What she discovered would determine her next move. Patience born of hatred, and stubbornness that was a trait of the blending of the races of her linage, were her best assets now. Over the last months her need to do this one thing had encompassed all others, she had the time to wait to make sure that the job was completed.

Sehanine sat at the dingy room that was her home. Absentmindedly she threw her short knife at the far door, then walked over and retrieved it just to sit down and throw it again. There were marks all over the back side of the door. The fresh ones from today were in a group that she could cover with the palm of her hand. “About the size of a man’s heart,” she smirked as she noticed the accuracy. Her hair was brushed and braided, but other than that she was as disheveled as the room. She wasn’t sure why it was she kept the braid – or why she bothered to brush it each day. From a fighters standpoint, it was a severe liability. But she didn’t care. She wasn’t really a fighter, she was a druid. Supposedly someone who was concerned with preserving and restoring life, not taking one in particular. The knife flew across the room and into the door again as if to punctuate that thought.

It had been three long months since she came to the dark town near the border post. Her observations from the tavern in the Inn and also from her perch above the post had made one thing clear – he was not likely to venture out unless heavily guarded, and even then without some extreme reason. That the man was a selfish coward she had learned from listening to those under his command. She also learned that his corruption was absolute, and that he had no love for any living thing. He’d sooner kill something by his own hand then order it done, and that only if the victim was lucky. Most of the time he would make arrangement for death to take it’s time, as painfully as possible. That he had even taken the time to sire a daughter was beyond her … he didn’t even seem to notice the women who wandered on the outskirts of town for the single purpose of keeping the soldiers entertained. The knife flew across the room again – and missed.

Swearing, Sehanine strode over and picked the dagger up. She reached in her pocket for a particular smooth stone that she carried for the purpose and spit on the blade before whetting it. After working the nick from the blade, she sheathed it in her boot and picked up her sword. Spitting again she started to work the edge with long, smooth strokes. The movement of her hand and the sound of the tempered steel were almost hypnotic. The blade was already well dressed, the caress served to help her think. She knew the blade so well that she could tell where her hand was on it and the condition of its edge with her eyes closed. Anyone else would have sliced off fingers – or worse. Pausing, her face softened just a moment as she thought of a plan, and she sheathed her sword and pocketed the stone. She’d need some of a particular parchment from Itanthea in order for her plan to work. With that and perhaps someone with the ability to duplicate the correct handwriting, she should be able to draw him out. Listening to the steps of the watchman, she figured she had about three hours to sleep before setting out on the journey. The next couple weeks should prove interesting.

The horse picked along the coast carefully, the broken path was providing unsure footing. Sehanine had chosen this route to avoid inland patrols, and now that she was on it there was no leaving. The path had few trails from it, and if perchance she was to meet someone else they had either be allies or the battle might be short. She was nearly to the end of the trail when some tumbling debris startled her horse and he miss-stepped. Falling from the trail Sehanine had no time to think of the landing or even say a prayer. They landed in a heap at the base of the cliff, the horse on top of her in the wet sand. As he scrambled to his feet and stood trembling, Sehanine realized that she was in trouble. Although they landed on the sand for the most part, Sehanine’s left flank and hit on a large rock, the impact of the horse on top of her was enough to break her sword off at the hilt and fracture her hip and perhaps worse …

The horse wandered off a little ways as Sehanine drifted in and out of consciousness. Finally the chill of night and encroaching tide stirred her awake. She tried to move and the searing pain it brought triggered a gasping cry. Fighting off the pain, she summoned the spell to heal … before she could complete it she drifted again into the blackness.

 

Ben sat on a small outcrop of rock, watching his fishing rod grumbling about his provisioner friend never having any travel rations. Standing, he placed a large rock over the end of the rod to hold it in place. Taking up his axe he started off down the beach, perhaps beach combing would have more luck than fishing. As he clambered over a large out crop of rocks at the far end of the beach he heard the sound of a horse. Crouching, he inched forward, wondering who else would be out in this remote place. As he scans the area in front of him all he can see is a horse and what at first appears to be a crumbled bundle of dark cloth. Happy that there is no one else on the beach he stands and jumps down to the sand. Now as he moves closer he sees that the cloth has in fact got a body in it. Slowly he nudges it with his foot and is startled to hear it moan as he touches it. Kneeling he pulls clear the broken sword shaking his head in disgust as he notes the poor crafting that caused it to snap and throws in into the sea. Now slowly he rolls the body over and looks into the face of a rather dirty looking half-elf. Quickly and with no great care he lifts him and carries him to the horse and pulls the still lifeless body into the saddle as he mounts.   Riding up to where his horse is, he grabs the reins and kicks the horse into a run, leading his horse.*

Several hours later he kicks the door to his house open and carries the elf into his house laying him on the bed and covering him. Then he goes in search of a healer.

Ben stood back from the forge in his yard and studied the newly forged Sword smiling, the sun glinting off its smooth surface. He turns and walks into the house placing the Sword on the weapon’s rack as he walks by. Just then the healer entered from the back room.

“Well how is he?”

The healer laughs, “You really thought the wretch was a boy!”

Ben looks puzzled, “Well it was a little hard to tell. So will she live?”

“It is hard to say, most of the damage seems to be internal. I have done all I can for now. She will need rest and food and time will tell.”

Ben nods as he tosses a bag of gold at the healer, “My thanks, I will call on you if I need you.”

Ben enters the back room and sits in the chair in the corner watching the sleeping form. Shaking his head slowly he sighs, then closes his eyes and sleeps.

 

She awoke and froze, eyes finally focusing in the dim light of the room. Lying still, she listened carefully, nostrils flaring to take in the smell of the place. She heard rather than saw a form sleeping in a chair in the corner of the room, instinctively she snatched for her dagger in her boot to discover she was not wearing them. The pain of her movement brought an involuntary gasp and she struggled to stay conscious. Head clearing, she realized that all she was wearing was her underclothes. Fighting panic, she remembered the fall and the blackness that overcame her. She willed herself to become the grey wolf and nothing happened. Flustered, she attempted a few more of her spells with negative results. Feeling trapped, she laid still in the dark staring at the corner, trying to figure out where she was and how to escape.

 

Ben’s eyes snap open as he comes awake instantly at the sound from the bed, “So have you finished with my bed?”

After a few moments of silence he sighs then stands and makes his way into the other room. Once the broth is warm, Ben takes it back into the bedroom and places it beside the bed with a spoon. Then he sits down on the bed and reaches for the girl’s shoulders to lift her back up against the pillows.

Sehanine watches the man leave and then return, eyes going wider as he approaches the bed and sits next to her. She attempts to bolt as he reaches, the pain paralyzes her for a moment as she tries to move away. Glaring, her hands fly up to push his away, a strained voice attempts to say, “stop!”

Ben stands, stepping back as he watches the girl’s reaction. “Calm yourself girl. You need food and rest. I will leave you to eat yourself if you can manage.” He continues standing to see what she does.

 

His words were in the common language, with the accent of a person who had spent much time in Itanthea. Sehanine relaxes some to hear them. She is either at the home of a citizen or perhaps in the city itself, not one controlled by the Tayhom. “Where,” her voice cracks as she attempts to speak again, “am I?” She glances sideways at the soup on the table and realizes how hungry she is and attempts to pull herself up on her elbows. Unsuccessful, she sinks back down on the pillow and studies him, waiting for his answer as she gathers her strength and works to block the pain. After a minute she succeeds in raising herself to a sitting position and reaches for the soup – just further from her grasp. Drawing a slow, deep breath, she steels herself to move again.

 

Ben shakes his head as he watches her move.

“My name is Ben, you are in my home in Itanthea.”

He moves back to the edge of the bed and offers her a spoonful of the broth, as he continues to retell how he came to find her and their journey back to the city.

“Now can you tell me, just who you are and why you where in such a mess and so far from home, wherever that is?”

Ben places the spoon back into the empty bowl and stands stretching his back as he watches her waiting for an answer.

 

She watches him stand, stretch and step away. Thinking for a moment, she forms an answer that should relieve his suspicions and perhaps deter any more questions. Clearing her throat so that she can speak clearly, she answers, “My name is Sehanine, I have not really had a home for a while but have been traveling. You found me as I was returning to Itanthea for supplies. I will leave as soon as I am able, I am sorry to be a burden to you.” Her strength gone from sitting and speaking, she allows herself to slide down into the bed, never taking her eyes from him. Eyes that study him like an injured animal would, and also tell him that she has not been entirely truthful. “If you can give me my saddlebags I would like to pay you for your trouble and also get my spare clothes.” Sehanine hopes the man is honest and that her bags are intact and still contain her coin – and that he won’t search them before giving them to her.

 

Ben shakes his head wondering to himself about this wretch he has found. Still unsure if he has let a thief into his house, as he turns and walks back in to the front room and picks up the saddle bags from the corner where he tossed them. He places the saddle bags on the end of the bed. “I have some work to carry out before leaving the city for a short while. I will be no more than a few hours.”

Ben shrugs as he looks at the still form in his bed. He then wanders out into street and calls to a young boy, tossing a gold coin to him as he approaches. “I am going to the tavern across the street, if anyone comes or goes from my home you will fetch me immediately.”

With which he wanders away towards the tavern …

 

The saddlebags thump heavy on the end of the bed, and she watches him turn and walk away without moving them to where she can reach them. Sehanine glares at the retreating form, as if to force him to return, and then drops the expression as she hears the front door close and latch. Wincing, she starts to move her legs, pausing to rest and block the pain again every few minutes. After some time she can let her legs swing off the edge of the bed and uses the momentum help her to sit upright. Now she could just reach the bags by flopping down the other way. Before doing that, she sat and surveyed the room she was in. While clean, it was far from organized. There was a pair of mismatched sturdy chairs around a small table, a bedside table, some chests and trunks, a near-empty book case, another one filled with books on smithing, and a comfortable stone fireplace with a bearskin rug. Taking a deep breath she analyzed the scents: wood, leather, smoke, the smell of slag and steel, the lingering scent of rum, and the scent of a working man. Through the open door she could just see a weapon rack and in it various well made swords and maces … and what looked to be a brand new sword.

Having rested a bit she reached for her bags and drug them across to her. Digging around, she found things pretty much as she had packed them. She reached out her coin bag and paused while figuring out what she probably owed the man and counted out some gold. Next she found her spare underclothes a pale blue dress robe with gold and white pattern, and a matching pair of soft leather boots. The robe and boots she had gotten from her uncle and his mate upon her majority, the week before she left their home. The pattern woven in the fabric and the stitching on the toes of the boots showed that they were of the finest High Elf craftsmanship. She had only worn them once then had put them away in her bags – reluctant to leave them anywhere as if she would lose the reminder of what little happiness she had known. Finally, she found her comb and immediately set to work unbraiding her hair and cleaning the debris from it. Whoever had treated her had washed off most of the dirt, but her hair had been left as it was from the fall. Last of all she dug to the bottom of the bag and unwrapped her slender boot knife and set it out. It was a lady’s knife, not the sturdy one she usually carried, but at least she wouldn’t feel completely unarmed. The knife was also Elven, with an ivory handle, fine engraving and beautiful steel. It had been a present from her uncle. It had been his sister’s – her grandmother’s. From habit she reached for her whetstone and realized she had no idea where her other clothes were. Frowning, she looked around the room and did not see any trace of them.

 

When Ben returns he finds her sitting on the made up bed. It has taken her most of the time he has been gone to dress and she is exhausted but tries not to show it. Twenty-five gold pieces are sitting on the table next to the bed. The saddlebags are sitting on the head of the bed where they can be reached easily.

Ben walks back into the bedroom of his home and stops, startled to see the young woman before him. She is clean and groomed looking nothing like the wretch he had found on the beach.

“I am, well that is to say, you are. What I mean is, are you feeling any better?”

Feeling slightly foolish he turns and reaches for the door handle. “There is more broth. I will bring us both a bowl.” Ben composes himself as he carries back two large bowls, “So how do you feel hmm … Lady Sehanine?”

Startled by the reaction of her host, Sehanine watches him leave with a bemused look on her face. She answers his questions when he returns with the broth. “I am not a Lady, nor born of any rank. I am but a simple traveler.” Continuing, she says, “I am feeling a bit better, but very tired. Even so, I would like to move to the Inn and not put you out of your bed any longer.”

 

Ben laughs, “Well that makes two of us that are not high born.” He places one bowl on the table beside the bed, noticing the pile of gold as he does so. He places his own bowl on the window sill then takes the axe from his belt and places it against the wall before sitting and starting to eat quietly.

Once he has finished he looks up and says. “The healer said you will need rest to recover from your ordeal, I am not so sure an inn would be the best place to get that. I will set up a cot out by the forge, it will not be the first time I have slept next to a forge. I will be more than warm enough there.”

 

Listening to his words and knowing that he was right – that there was no way she’d be able to manage on her own just yet – she resigned herself to the idea that she would be here in this room a bit longer and not able to continue with her plans. At least she would stay until her strength returned some and her powers came back. “Very well then, I shall stay,” she said, placing the empty bowl back on the bed table. She continued, “Do you think that you could help me to the low room and bring me something to drink before you retire for the night?”

 

Ben stands, then helps Sehanine to the room, feeling her lean against his arm as they travel. After leaving her at the entrance, he quickly fills a jug with water and takes it and a cup into the bedroom. He stands staring out the window as he waits to help her back to the bedroom, his mind whirling with confusion as to how and why he has ended up with a stranger sharing his house. He turns as he hears the door open and moves back to help her, offering his arm to support he as they return slowly.

“I will be out back if you need me Sehanine, rest well”

Once out in the yard he unrolls his sleeping mat in front of the forge and settles down with his cloak draped around him, the heat from the forge warming his back. Sleep is slow in coming as he tries to clear his mind of thoughts of the young women resting in his bed.

 

Sitting on the side of the bed, Sehanine thanks Ben for his help and reaches for some water. After watching the door close and hearing his steps fade, she again ponders the situation she has gotten into. Overnight she has gone from entirely self-sufficient to not being able to even go to the low room without help. And her powers, what happened to them? She concentrates and attempts to cast, starting with her wolf form and continuing as she tries several other spells with no avail. She undresses and crawls into bed, instantly dropping into an exhausted sleep.

Sehanine’s eyes fly open at the muffled sound of hammer striking against steel followed by another, her hand instantly moves to her boot knife under the pillow. Sitting upright, her mind clears as the scent of coal and smoke and the muffled sound of the billows reach her. Realizing that she is safe, she dresses, sliding the boot knife into its place as she finishes. Breathing deeply to control the pain, she makes her way across the room and then to the low room. Finished there, she starts slowly back towards the bedroom. Suddenly, her body has met its limit and she falls, crying out in pain as she hits the floor.

 

Ben plunges the newly forged long sword in the barrel beside him watching the steam rise from it then lifts it slowly out and looks down its length turning it slowly.

He spins on his heels as he hears a muffled cry from inside his house then leaps forwards shouldering the door open, the newly forged long sword raised high. His eyes scan the room as he enters finding only the girl on the floor. The sword drops as he bends, lifting the girl into his arms. Uttering a string of expletives, he kicks open the door to the bedroom and quickly places her back on the bed.

Some time latter he stands once more waiting for the healer to finish inside the bedroom and studies the split door frame out to the yard and wondering what carpenters he knows. He sighs loudly and sticks his head into the room. “I will be in the tavern across the way. Find me there when you are ready,” he tells the healer, before stalking moodily out the door and across the street still muttering to himself.

Ben shakes his head as he listens to the healer, staring into the empty flagon. “So if you can find nothing wrong, what shall I do with her? She can’t be left alone that is clear. Will you send a nurse to my house this afternoon please?” He returns to his house and looks in to see if Sehanine is awake. Seeing her still sleeping, he wanders back to the chair and sits quietly.


 

Closing the door, she whistled for her horse. The mare was uncommonly still in the twilight as she mounted and headed towards the gates of the city. She had never thought she would welcome the solace of the wilderness again, but there was no longer anything left to hold her to the city she once thrived in. The break in their friendship had been permanent. The smell of sulfur and sound of the anvil would always bring back memories of what was past. No, her desire to be avenger had won over the one for love. On her way she stopped by a place known only to thieves where she paid handsomely to have a scribe pen a particular script. Then she continued on. Once through the gates she put away her proud weapon and shield and pulled out a used sword and dagger, pulling a simple dark robe over her armor as the horse ambled towards the hills. Sehanine the druid was dead, replaced simply by Sehanine, the worn traveler with a broken spirit and lifeless shell. She had entered his presence broken, it seemed fitting that she would leave in the same condition. “Good-bye, dear one,” she said to the night as she left the glow of the city without looking back for fear she would again burst into tears.

 

*The indented parts written from the perspective of “Ben” were written by a role-play friend I had at the time of this story. This story was never finished except in the imaginations of those who read it.