[RP Episode] The Northern Reach


#61

Rhae was intrigued, but oral history such as this could very well vary drastically from person to person, especially cross-faction, ‘‘Do you take records of your history somewhere, by any chance?’’ she asked.


#62

”If we do, I have not heard or seen of it. There may be records in Helcar, but to my knowledge the Narmani do not.” The sled skidded over a rock in the road, and landed with a bump.


#63

‘‘Right…’’ Rhae mumbled. She was getting more and more disappointed about how these people were turning out. Warring clans? Wars waged to settle personal scores? No historical records? A king who can’t control what would supposedly have been his vassals? Everything looked de facto tribal. Whatever this Tera-Macil will think of her or her visit, she now began to wonder what change to their society would contact with the Niirai bring along with it. She ceased her questioning for now, and held tight to the sled.


#64

Their journey continued for three more days, traveling along the rough road. On occasion, Landro let Rhae drive the sled to accustom her to actually controlling the pack of dogs while traveling. They were forced to move slowly to pass Sorni villages, which did not show signs of life but that the Narmani insisted could not be assumed empty. It made the going slower, but they saw no signs of other elves apart from abandoned buildings.

Finally, they reached a crossroads. The road split in several directions, north, south, east and west. Landro pointed down the eastern trail that led towards the mountain. ”Follow it till you reach the gate. Turn the dogs loose a little beforehand, please.”

The Narmani shifted themselves onto the two remaining sleds, placing the Niirai and their chests on the others. ”Good luck, and fare winds!” They cried in fair voices. ”Perhaps you may yet visit our land when it is not torn by war. Farewell!” Landro smiled at Rhae, waved, and was gone, sleds sweeping away over the snow.


#65

Rhae waved back with a grateful smile, re-mounted her sled, and off they went. The gates of Helcar were in view now, and well out of range of any bowman, they stopped the sleds. Rhae and her companions dismounted the sleds and had cut the dogs loose, which then promptly dispersed. They would then pull the sleds the rest of the way themselves, the Narmani flag of peace flapping in the breeze.


#66

As they heaved and struggled with their burdens, there was an abrupt horn call from the city, and an answering call from behind the Niirai. The sound of hooves could be heard, and suddenly a column of riders on shaggy horses, wearing white and blue armor and carrying spears and shields swept around the bend behind them. At the sight of the Niira squarely in their path, the horsemen swept around them, snow flying underneath their hooves. Within two minutes, the southern elves were ringed about by a cavalcade of sea or men, from whose helmets white tassels dangled. There were five riderless saddles among their company.

From their midst a tall rider emerged. His horse was grey, his armor black. Upon his chest a metallic eagle screamed defiance, and a long flowing cloak draped over him and his steed. From his saddle bow hung a wolf’s head. It had been the lead dog of Landro’s sled. No helm covered his flowing hair, held in long strands with blue beads. A long curved sword was at his side.


#67

The Niirai drew their weapons and formed a circle, side to side they stood, with Rhae in their middle, unarmed.


#68

The rider rode silently around them in a circle, making no move towards his weapon. His face, unlike most other Helcelen Rhae has seen, was completely unmarred by any scar or wound. He was also quite young.

”And who might you be, who carry the banner of the Narmani, our foes?” He spoke the common tongue quite fluently.


#69

‘‘We are Niirai.’’ Rhae declared, rather fearlessly as she was expecting such a welcoming reception of foreigners, that of which Landro spoke of. She had learned to expect nothing less of the Helcelene at this point. ‘‘The Narmani were kind enough to lend us their dog sleds to travel here. Under their flag of peace.’’ she frowned at the beheaded dog that dangled from the rider’s side.


#70

”So you were traveling with her?” He pointed behind him. ”This Narmania?”

In the background, Rhae could see a figure sitting in front of one of the horsemen. It was Landro. Her face shone defiantly, but there was a large bandage over her left eye. Blood was running from it.

”Why have you come here?” continued the helm-less rider.


#71

‘‘Were you following us the entire way from the woods?’’ Rhae asked, disregarding his question, ‘‘I knew something was off.’’


#72

”Of course. This is our land, you did not think it would be unguarded and unwatched, did you?” Reining I’m his trotting horse, the elf dismounted and slid to the ground. ”I am Magor Sornion. What is your name?”


#73

Rhae sighed, ‘‘You followed us all this way, and saw your captive accompany us this far under a flag of peace. Then you attack her, capture her, and kill her dog. You betray your own customs, Magor. I am Rhae-Ming of Xia.’’ she replied.


#74

”She did not carry a banner on her return journey, and we are at war. She knew the risk when she came here.” At the mention of her name, Magor looked intently at her face. ”Xia would not happen to be in the far southeast, would it?”


#75

‘‘Fine, hide behind such technicalities if you must. You saw the entire thing unfold, she is no threat.’’ Rhae added, ‘‘Yes. We are from the far south.’’


#76

”Good! My brother will be most pleased to see you. Come.” Magor wheeled his horse around.


#77

‘‘Very well.’’ Rhae replied, gesturing her people to let down their guard and follow, ‘‘Though i must insist you let Landro free, i owe her a great deal.’’


#78

”Oh, is that her name? She didn’t my own question in. You have my thanks. And no, her fate will be decided by the Teranor. She will live, I don’t doubt.” Landro looked at Rhae and shook her head slightly, mouthing the words let it go. Magor noticed, and took the advice himself. ”This is besides the point. You did come to see Macil Sornion, did you not?”


#79

Rhae was very displeased, this imbecile would not listen to reason, and she felt secure in showing her dissatisfaction, as she assumed not even wildling clanfolk would be foolish enough to harm an emissary of a foreign power just to make a point. ‘‘Indeed.’’ she sighed in return, letting the question of Landro rest, for the time being.


#80

The Elven horsemen enveloped the Niirai group completely, gave their spare horses to them, and quickly loaded the chests on behind. Then with a shout, they tore off, pounding for the gate that was a few miles ahead. Reaching it, the company passed through.

The gate was tall, several lengths the height of a man. It was fashioned from oak logs hound about with steel. The wood was weathered by age, but still strong and hard as bone. Great fire pits burned outside, warming the chilled southern elves as they rode by. Opened by hands unseen, they entered Helcar.

Along hall ran into the mountain beyond the gate, guarded by statue-like soldiers in blue and white who stared expressionless as Magor and his company trotted by. Torches and banners of every sigil imaginable adorned the walls, and at the end could be seen a large round hollowed out shaft that was lit by hundreds of lights and echoed with thousands of voices.

They did not enter it however, though Rhae spotted a brief glimpse of more torches, elves, and endless stairs and bridges filling the inside of the shaft not unlike a beehive as they passed by, riding along one edge. After a few minutes of passageways that led in a series of confusing passageways, they entered a large stone room, with stables running on either hand. There, they dismounted, and the elves dispersed in various directions. Two remained behind, holding Landro by either arm.

Magor patted his horse goodbye, unhooked the wolf’s head from his saddle, and gestured for the Rhae to follow him. ”You companions will wait here.” he said, pointing to a anteroom off to one side. ”I will take you to Macil Sornion.”