The March of Ages

The Prisoner Serafina

Sani Nodin brought Cadimus to Asala’s home to check on her and the children. Asala thanked him for their help and asked if Serafina was being treated well. Once it seemed she had shaken off the fright of the night, he went to Aluria’s house for the few hours that he could get some sleep.

In her jail cell, Serafina Anduril had a chance to talk to Riestra, who was trying to escape already. Rodren brought them breakfast and questioned them about the prior night’s events. Then, he asked Serafina what happened to Roash. Her refusal to answer that question left him in a worse mood.

Sani checked on Rondal and Julian first thing in the morning before meeting up with Belaric to visit the jail. Everyone had checked on everyone and they were okay, shaken up.

The scene when they arrived at the jail was calm. Serafina had invited Riestra to the wedding. Rodren wanted the names of other people he needed to speak with. He was in a foul mood when the situation became tense. The streets outside were clogged with thousands of armed people. Briar had brought the three thousand Aesterylians to demand Serafina’s release.

Serafina was let out to talk to them. Rodren did not like the idea but she kept her word and Briar and company dispersed.

Sani went to Asala to ask when Aristos Dar’Vol and the royal entourage would be back from Calidar to sort this out. Asala admitted that they were already supposed to be back and something was wrong with the portal. She promised Sani that she would try to convince the council to free Serafina under her protection until the kings returned.

Later that day, Serafina was released and Asala assumed responsibility for her. Asala’s only demand was that Serafina tell her what happened to Roash, to which Serafina agreed, privately. She did not want this information to get out and sully Stangil Drakebane’s name postmortem.

Back at home, Serafina was informed by Sani and Belaric that the kings were missing. Serafina insisted that they needed to go to Calidar and find out what was wrong. Likely, Azuldur was using Laudengaul’s death as an opportunity to attack. Sani convinced her to ask for permission from the council first, reminding her that Asala had stuck her neck out for Serafina. Again, Serafina agreed.

She spent the rest of that evening speaking with Briar, Rondal, and Marine, to make plans. She warned Gauladek to watch out for Sosyth Toth-Iluith if the humans went to war. Meanwhile, Sani spoke with Aluria, Asala, Ithaca, and Seripathia to make plans of his own. He promised Asala that he would stop Serafina if she went against the council’s decision. He made a trade agreement with Seripathia for a piece of her ship.

The morning after Serafina was freed, she went to the council chambers and argued her case to go to Calidar with Sani and the army to make sure the kings were safe. Despite the council members’ feelings toward her, the vote was 5-4 in her favor.

They prepared to leave. Sani showed Serafina the new plank for stronger, fire-resistant bark skin. He visited Milana as part of his deal with Seripathia, who was nonplussed that he would attempt so late in the game to change the arrangement he already made with Braeden Brightburn.

Before lunch they were off. Serafina. Belaric. Sani. Marine. Deltin. Rondal. And 3,000 of their closest, armed friends.

One week later, they approached The Moot. Several people were sick and had the flu, but none had died on the journey. A rider came toward them… on a horse… Serafina’s horse… it was Braxys. She was returning from her meeting with Azuldur. He wished to meet Serafina and Sani. They asked for her take on him and she said he seemed dangerous, straightforward, cunning, and valued respect. “We can work with this,” Serafina decided. Braxys also informed them that Azuldur had joined forces with Givik and were attacking Calidar. They made camp and met him for dinner that night.

Avar met them outside their camp and escorted them to Azuldur’s tent. There was light banter, as if they were all friends, and it put them somewhat at ease. At least until they met Azuldur. He was imposing, strong, and awoken with fire. Over the course of the afternoon they made agreements. He would grant them safe passage to Calidar to extract their royal envoy if they relayed his other negotiations. He would not attack Voltierra and instead be at peace with the humans if:

- Sani ceased all Lluaran food trade with Atterick and his Cragga.
- Serafina kept the human army out of the current Feoral conflict led by Azuldur and Givik.
- The humans of Voltierra changed their leadership.
- Azuldur was granted a seat at the Summit.

Sani and Serafina agreed to their parts and to relay the final two demands to Aristos and Krolovik. They made a blood pact. Azuldur then gave them two gifts. First, four humans that had been captured at Eldeth’s Farm, and a message that had been intercepted.

Serafina and Sani checked on the humans. They had learned that during the attack, Uugdev lost himself and refused to be taken prisoner. He was killed. Sani walked with Serafina for a while and she told him how important Uugdev had been to her. This news was devastating.

Loose Ends

Aluria had invited Sani Nodin, Serafina Anduril, and Belaric over for lunch to thank Sani and Serafina for saving the Lluaran. She began to update them on council affairs but only got as far as the news that High Lord Diedik was not to have a seat at the summit because they feared it would upset Atterick. Serafina was outraged. Aluria tried to explain and Sani attempted to stick up for the council but Serafina and Belaric left before lunch was over.

The council is outdated and is more concerned with holding on to stale alliances than it is with looking toward the future, she thought. Needing to let off steam, so to speak, Serafina spent the rest of the day creating a large swath of ice behind the house for the girls to play on (and the first ice skating rink was invented).

Sani paid a visit to Emmit. As he approached two of the children, Cyth and Demarah, were playing in the snow. Mia, the youngest, was hiding. Henrietta showed him to a bedridden Emmit. Sani offered him an opportunity to start anew in the Lluaran forest. Emmit thanked him and said that he would consider it.

He returned to his home to find Deltin had cooked dinner. Deltin had spent all of the money Sani gave him and returned. He thought they were friends and that he could stay with Sani until he had things figured out. Sani let him stay the night but changed the locks the next day when he left to spend a few days in the forest with Teth Tolluith, trying to commune with the Heart Trees.

In the few days that Sani was gone Serafina visited Rondal and Aleetha to see how they were managing baby Stangil. She offered to babysit and they asked her to be Stangil’s godmother. She also visited Julian at his shop and ordered tables and chairs for her new restaurant. After which she told him that she and Belaric were getting married and hoped to have the wedding in the summer.

While catching up with Marine (who had somehow managed to arm herself again with several blades), Serafina came upon a sad and cold Deltin holding a bunch of vegetables. It turned out he was unaware of Sani’s trip outside the city and could not get back into the house. Serafina offered to let him stay at her house and made him cook dinner to interview for a job as chef. He asked if he could stab people who did not like his food, she replied with a “maybe,” that they would negotiate on a case by case basis.

Serafina also visited Derreck and Mila to talk about the council’s decision not to allow Diedik in the summit. It went much more smoothly than the conversation with Aluria.

Sani returned to a cold, locked, empty house. He slept soundly for a moment until he was aroused by the alarm of bells. Fire!

Serafina and Belaric also heard the alarms and rushed to the fire. Serafina ran into the house to find people. Sani and Belaric remained outside with others, ready to act. Sani noticed someone on the third floor was trying to open the shutters, which had been locked from the outside. He also saw a figure on the roof across the street and readied some vines, quietly, while all attention was on the fire. He, as well as everyone except Serafina, knew that this was Emmit’s house.

Serafina found no one on the first or second floors. She rushed into the third floor bedroom and saw Emmit, his throat slit, his wife unconscious on the floor, and two children trying to open the shutters. She asked if anyone else was in the house and the children told her their sister was probably hiding under the bed. After finding the youngest, she helped break the shutters open. The house was crumbling under them.

The five year old was tossed out first and safely caught below. The other girl was told to jump next. When she hesitated, Serafina pushed her out the window. The boy jumped.
An arrow narrowly missed Serafina. Sani sent his vines and entangled the shadowy figure on the roof across the street. Serafina noticed the assassin and combusted her until the screams stopped. Then, she tossed the mother out. The family was safe. The stairs had disappeared by this time so Serafina leaped out the window and Belaric caught her. Always the romantic.

Sani uncovered the would-be assassin. Feoral? The three took the body of the assassin to Asala’s house. Asala seemed to care very little for these middle of the night visits with bodies. While she agreed that this looked like Noella’s doing, there was no evidence and Noella was on house arrest. She could do nothing at this time but would investigate in the morning and send the Dark Dolgari to Belaric’s house.

Dissatisfied, Sani went to Harin to see if he could drum up some unscrupulous information. Belaric went home to keep the girls safe. Serafina went to find Marine. Sani learned that a group of assassins called The Flame Maidens led by Riestra had been hired. Serafina and Marine returned to the house where the Dark Dolgari were standing watch with Dougans. The family seemed safe. Sani returned with his news and they set off with Belaric, Deltin, and Naiora.

First, they asked ten of Braxys’s people to watch over Julian’s house and another ten to watch Rondal’s house. They then set off to the inn where they could find the Flame Maidens. Using Marine as a scout, Belaric took out the lookout and they trapped two of the Maidens inside.

“First one to give me useful information lives,” Serafina told them in Feoral. When one would not cooperate, Deltin stepped in. Fortunately, one of them valued her life and gave up information. Two groups left. One went to Rondal’s house and another group went to Asala’s.

When they arrived at Rondal’s house it became clear that this was an unnecessary stop. Pools and splatters of blood were all around the home and Rondal didn’t even have his axe. As soon as they had entered, he protected baby Stangil and Aleetha with his bare hands.

Asala’s house was a different story. They found Asala and her two children cornered by half a dozen of the Maidens. All but one were disposed of and Riestra jumped out a window and ran off. Sani chased her down into an alley and captured her.

Asala had been badly wounded, they treated her and told her kids to wait with her until more help came. Everyone knew at this point that Serafina was not going to stop until Noella was dead.

They searched Noella’s house and tracked her through a secret passage that led outside. The trail led all the way to Luke’s house. She had been ahead of them for hours. By the time they arrived at his house, he would not let them in. Sani left to get Rodren.

In a wholly unforeseen act, Seripathia convinced Luke to let Serafina and the others inside where they did find Noella. Everyone stood aside, waiting for Sani and Rodren, while Serafina spoke with Noella. Ever the agitator, Serafina goaded and waited until Noella was angry enough to attack. Sani and Rodren arrived just as Noella, feebly, but with all her strength, revealed a dagger and lunged at Serafina. Unsurprisingly, Serafina caught her hand. To everyone’s horror, Serafina burned her to death.

Luke stood in the way as she turned to leave. “My son would be about two years older than you if he were still alive. His name was Bael,” Serafina told him, emotionless. Luke broke down into tears and Serafina was arrested.

Sani and the Dy’Voth left to bring Cadimus to Asala. Belaric walked with Serafina, Rodren and Riestra to the cells. Belaric and Serafina said goodnight.

Unfinished Business

The party that Belaric threw had well over two hundred guests. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves; Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, and Rondal had an opportunity to see friends and catch up. Sani used the opportunity to talk trade with his new inroads and Serafina met Luke Cythson to size him up and see what he was worth. It did not impress that his new girlfriend was Seripathia.

The next morning Sani awoke to discover a surprise. Deltin could cook!

After breakfast Serafina and Belaric went to speak with Asala. Serafina was trying to determine if she had any involvement in the murder of her family. The encounter went about as expected with Serafina involved. Belaric calmed her down after and she agreed to put the whole thing to bed. She was going to move past it. Luke seemed like a pretty good guy and none of this had anything to do with him, really.

The day transpired as the previous, with Sani running around town, taking care of business and checking in with contacts. He was trying to stir up incentive for humans to volunteer to go to the forest and live with the Lluaran.

That night was the full moon. The kings and a small envoy teleported to Calidar to attend the ceremony for Laudengaul, who passed away days before Krolovik returned.

Belaric treated Serafina to dinner in a deserted building that he said was hers to open a restaurant. Then he asked her to be his wife. She agreed. They spent some time in that building before going home to sleep.

Serafina woke in the middle of the night to see a figure standing above her with a dagger. As the intruder thrust toward her, she grabbed him and tackled him on the floor. He attempted to escape but was too badly injured. Belaric and Serafina tied him up. It was Emmit, a local wagon maker and long-time friend of Noella. He admitted that she had sent him only after Serafina threatened his family as he had hers. She treated his burns but his right arm had to be removed.

Then, in the middle of the night, they paid another visit to Asala. Enraged that she put this issue to rest earlier that day, Serafina demanded justice. Noella had endangered her family. Asala assured her that she would take care of it.

As the sun rose, Serafina knew she would not be able to go back to sleep so she wandered over to Sani’s house to catch up and see if he was having an easier time adjusting to city life.

Coming Home to Piles of Dirty Laundry

Over the next month and a half, life aboard The Serafina became routine. Each morning at the crack of dawn began with sparring. Next, breakfast followed by lessons in the human language and culture in Voltierra. Then, if anyone wished, lessons in Lluaran, Feoral, and Dy’Voth.

Serafina Anduril found a private moment to talk to Krolovik the Bound about the death of their mutual friend, Stangil Drakebane. Krolovik also met with Sani Nodin to talk about the past.

Before reaching home, the ship made a stop at a dark tree inhabited by Idara. Krolovik had fulfilled his promise to her and returned the soul of her firstborn son, Risis, much to his brother, Xerus’s, dismay and warnings. Krolovik spoke with Idara about the eggs and they agreed that they should not be given to the Dy’Voth. Risis’s soul was returned to his body.

Upriver, Voltierra came into view, and below that, Lake Sayasteya. Arianna, Aluria, Zerston Dar’Vol, Aristos Dar’Vol, Belaric, Aleetha (holding a baby), Bruinen, Julian, and Autry were at the dock waiting for their return.

That evening, the Dy’Voth (and Cadimus) were given lodging and the humans returned to their homes with their families.

That evening Serafina and Belaric visited Julian to comfort him. Aleetha introduced Rondal to his son, Stangil. And Belaric showed Serafina her brand new room at their house and gave her a spice box hand carved by Julian and stocked with spices from Drekar.

The next day Krolovik, Aristos, Serafina, and Sani debriefed and discussed actions moving forward related to the eggs, asking humans to work in a cultural exchange with the Lluaran to build relations, trying to mend Cadimus’s soul to his body, and the offer of seats to Milana and High Lord Diedik on the Summit Council.

Sani spent the rest of his day catching up with his mother, Autry, and Aluria.

Serafina went on an errand spree. She bought a pig for Cadimus and learned that Peepo is his word for pig. She introduced Marine and Braxys and got caught up on events from her friend the councilwoman. Serafina also introduced Marine to Sosyth Toth-Iluith, whom she discovered was pregnant. Serafina then visited Odoth Illuith to suggest he spend more time at home with his pregnant wife before bumping into Seripathia who was not too thrilled with the news about Somnambuliss. She then visited Noella, who admitted to having her family murdered twenty years ago. The final stop was a chat with Kilian Tull and Gauladek to make sure they were settling in to Voltierra and being treated well.

At sunset, everyone who was anyone was at the party at Belaric’s house welcoming their own back and paying their respects to Stangil.

Stangil's Letter to Julian


My love, I’m writing to you at what seems to be the end of my time. I wish it was next to you in the dawn of our lives, but it seems as though it was not to be.

To have you being one of the last thoughts that I will have is a great gift and a comfort that I am honored to have. Being able to return our son to you is my honor and my duty as a father and husband to do. I know that he will continue to bring honor to our house; besides, he has a family to raise.

From the first moment that you came into my life I have learned what it is to truly live, love, and BE loved. You have been by my side and in my heart even when you were not physically there. I have done what I could to keep my family safe from harm. I wish I could say that I have always been successful but my love for you has always been something I could rely on and knew awaited me when I got home and will be the thing that I hold onto until I take my last breath.

I LOVE YOU JULIAN!! Please know that what I do is out of love for my family.

Eternally Yours,


The Detour
We Will Never Speak of Again

Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, Rondal, Milana, Marine, Cadimus, Deltin, and Reckard were welcomed onto Braeden Brightburn’s ship, The Serafina.

Near the captain’s quarters were three rooms with plaques on the doors for special guests. The plaques were adorned with the sigils of Serafina, Stangil Drakebane, and Arianna to honor their last voyage with Braeden and the battle that allowed them to capture this ship.

Serafina’s room had a place for Naiora to sleep. Rondal was given Stangil’s room. On the bed was a note from Julian. Rondal chose to sleep in another room.

They set sail for Voltierra.

A few days into the voyage they spotted a fire off the coast. The ship dropped anchor and Serafina, Sani, Rondal and Milana boarded a dingy to land. When they arrived eight Dy’Voth were running away from the fire. Serafina began to douse the fires while Sani spoke with the Lluaran who looked like they had been fighting until another figure stopped them. Enter: Krolovik.

The Dy’Voth this far out had not yet received word that the war was over. Neither had the Lluaran. After some convincing on Milana and Sani’s parts, both sides agreed to return home.

The rest boarded the ship now joined by Krolovik. Once on board they caught Krolovik up on the events of the past two years. He told them that he had been on a mission and they offered to help before returning home. (He is the king, after all.) Krolovik had been asked by Idara to find and retrieve the soul of her firstborn, Risis.

That night some retired early to rest. Others drank and retired to let off steam.

A couple of nights later the ship collided with something. The heroes rushed to see what they had hit. Another ship was attacking them. Serafina could have sworn she saw Eisseth on the Dreadnaught… but that was impossible. This ship was that ship and Eisseth was dead. Serafina lobbed a fireball at the ship and it dissipated. They had hit a reef. They dropped anchor and Serafina, Naiora, Marine, Krolovik, Sani, and Rondal boarded a dingy to check out the island before them.

On this island they met face to face with everyone any of them had ever killed. Krolovik spoke with Vishnu and Enterim. Sani and Serafina met Dugabahalla in Lluaran form. Serafina faced Roash. Each spirit told them to go back, to give up, to leave the island. They persisted. Serafina had to push Sani forward because he wanted to leave. They pushed forward.

They entered a great ballroom filled with a feast and people from many races. Finally, they saw who was controlling it all, Melkor the Mad. Wraiths stormed the room. A fiery battle ensued until at last, Krolovik wielded his sword, Solace, and took Melkor’s soul. During the fight he also happened upon Risis’s soul encased in a rock.

Before they left the island Sani had the opportunity to speak with Enterim and saw what happened with the Great Heart Tree, Krolovik, and Trelias ages ago. He was so disturbed by this vision that he did not return to the ship until the next day. When he did, he ordered Deltin to shit in Krolovik’s pillow. Then, he slept heavily for eighteen hours.

The Cost of a Life

The Chore
Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, Rondal, Cadimus, and Naiora stood at the entrance to the Duggubahalla’s cave. Cadimus agreed to remain there and wait for children to be sent up. The others descended.

They trudged down almost a thousand feet of steep, damp, narrow tunnel. Serafina slipped and fell down a side tunnel, falling thirty feet into water. She set the surface on fire as she felt eels (or something) slither around here and try to pull her under. Sani was quick to think and asked the Heart Tree above them for its roots to pull Serafina up.

Further down they discovered a pit-trap and Serafina lodged a fireball into it, burning something below. Eventually, they found the eleven children (one more had been captured the night before when they were returning from visiting the Dy’Voth encampment and speaking with General Gorgos). Three were dead. One could not be woken. Serafina burnt them out of their webbed encasing. Slowly and carefully they made their way back to the mouth of the tunnel. Cadimus treated the sick one.

Everyone heard the whimper of a small child. Serafina could hear through it, as if the voice were hollow. She told the others that it was the Duggubahalla and to ignore the pleas. She sent Rondal, Naiora, and Cadimus back to the village with the children. Sani and Serafina placed the three dead Lluaran children near the heart tree. As the others began to walk away, one little girl turned to them and warned them to leave and let her have her meal. Serafina hurried the others away and told Sani to ignore it. The girl had been controlled by the monster.

As soon as the others left, they heard a buzzing sound. It sounded as if every bug in the forest was swarming toward them. Then, they saw the dark wall of insects. Serafina and Sani took that as their invitation back into the tunnels.

Each time they passed a smaller side tunnel, Serafina threw a fireball down it, just for good measure. Sani communed with the spirit of the heart tree above to receive knowledge about the Duggubahalla. The fallen hero said that it was unkillable and that it took near their entire village to keep it contained. He fell in a fight and kept it trapped all these years.

Once they were at a small clearing with some space to move around, they waited. The Duggubahalla was an awful and hideous creature with the torso and head of a haggard woman and the body and legs of a giant arachnid. It moved quickly but not as quickly as Serafina’s fireballs. It had been hit twice on its passes through Sani, whom it paralyzed and ripped open. Serafina hastily dispatched of the monster, burning it to ashes, before running to Sani’s aid. She was able to stop his bleeding and over several hours, drag him back to the village. Knowing he was paralyzed and probably fearing for his life, she cheered him up with stories along the way.

Back at the village, Cadimus treated Sani to the best of his abilities and Serafina asked Jayla where the most fertile soil was. She then tucked Sani in and she and Rondal stood watch over him until they fell asleep. Sani grew roots that night that were thicker and deeper than any he had ever grown.

The next day the village threw them a celebration at sunset. The monster that had haunted them was dead and 8 of the children had survived. Jayla wrote and sang an epic song of Sani and Serafina’s heroism.

The Word
The following morning Milana returned. Gorgos would accept the cease-fire and leave the Lluaran forest. However, she would not release the prisoners unless Serafina and Sani spoke with her. Milana had no inclination as to what Gorgos would want from them in exchange. They took Rondal and Naiora and left Cadimus in the village.

General Gorgos said she would release the prisoners if they brought back three fugitives before the full moon. They were Dy’Voth, two men and one woman, their names were Deltin, Reckard, and Marine. Serafina noticed Milana flinch ever-so-faintly at the last name. They were to capture if they could, but kill if they must. If they killed any of the three, they were to return with proof.

Before Serafina, Sani, and Rondal set off to the task, they asked Milana if there was any other information about this seemingly innocuous task that the General could have sent her own men on. Milana said that it was a coming-of-age trial to survive in enemy territory on your own for thirty days. If you were returned alive by captives, you would become their slaves. Serafina prodded about her reaction to the final name. Marine was Milana’s daughter, whom she had not seen in years.

The Task
The second day of the hunt they found fake tracks. Sani and Naiora hid in the trees while Serafina and Rondal acted as bait and followed the tracks. They noticed a trap up ahead and two Dy’Voth hidden in the trees. Serafina began to yell the things she was saying at Rondal, who caught on and helped in warning Sani about what lay ahead. He spotted the two Dy’Voth and tangled one in vines. Serafina yelled, “FETCH!” and pointed to the other Dy’Voth for Naiora to pin down. Within moments both Dy’Voth were snared, disarmed, identified as Deltin and Reckard, pulled down from their trees, and tied up.

Three arrows hit them in succession but no one was hurt. Sani ghosted to pursue the archer in the trees. Rondal ran directly toward the archer. Serafina lit the archer’s quiver on fire and remained to watch over the two prisoners.

Chasing the archer through the forest, Rondal fell into a punji pit. Sani, however, caught the archer in one of her own traps and dragged her back to Rondal. Marine soon joined the other two captives.

That night they took watch two at a time. On first watch Serafina noticed Marine asking for a lot of water but not getting much in her mouth. Rondal was instructed not to give her any more water. Marine talked all night but had the worst of it during the third watch when Sani and Serafina discussed her mother. That seemed to hit a nerve.

The next morning Sani noticed that while she hadn’t escaped, Marine had loosened her bindings just enough to wiggle. Any more water from Rondal and she probably would have made it. On the return, Deltin attempted to jump into a punji pit and Reckard made a failed escape attempt. Marine had been the most successful, but still managed not to get loose. To top it off, Rondal was tired of her squirming and gave her new restraints, tying her to a piece of driftwood.

Serafina attempted to tell them that sparing their lives would be better than the alternative and hinted that they would not be slaves in Voltierra. Nevertheless, they were humiliated upon return to the camp.

Serafina, Sani, and Rondal were asked to stay the night and for a celebration the following evening. They were given a tent of their own and treated as honored guests. The prisoners were taken away. Gorgos said that strength should be respected and that they would celebrate not being foolish enough to bring weakness into their ranks.

Privately, Milana asked about Marine. Sani was honest and Serafina said that she thought the damage to their relationship could be repaired with time. While they were gone, Marine had taken care of the Lluaran prisoners, treating them and washing them. Sani went to the Lluaran tent where they were cramped and chained. He freed them and sent them to the village.

That night before sleeping, the three discussed how to handle having slaves. This was not the custom of either of their races. No one was happy but playing along was the only chance to get the three youthful Dy’Voth out safely.

After Serafina and Rondal sparred the next morning Milana asked the three what their sigils were so the blacksmith could make brands for the evening’s ceremony. This affected Sani the most and he was in a grim mood for the rest of the day. He and Rondal both chose the crests of their fathers. Serafina, not having one from her family in the old world, made one up. She chose the human symbol for life, thinking that after Marine was freed, it could become a tattoo or remembrance of the gift of life instead of a sign of servitude.

The Celebration
The ceremony began with a short speech from General Gorgos. She then instructed the two humans and seedling to, “take your mark and claim your prize.” With heavy hearts and hands, they each grasped their prods and branded Marine, Deltin, and Reckard. The crowd immediately cheered and the party kicked off. Deltin passed out and Marine silently cried. The three were taken to the tent where Sani and the others were quick to use a salve and treat the Dy’Voth’s burns. Serafina whispered to Marine, “I’m sorry. For more than the physical pain. All of this. Please trust that your life will get better.”

When asked what custom demanded, Milana said that they should partake in the celebration and parade the new slaves around. Rondal looked downtrodden and Sani was distraught. Serafina said she was drawing a line and that they would not humiliate them further.

To numb the events, Serafina had a few drinks. She briefly spoke with Gorgos, who stated that she had much respect for Serafina. Rondal drank and had a good, forgetful evening. Sani learned more about the Dy’Voth, what they had done, and where they had been. He found their life stories very interesting. Sani stayed up late to watch Rondal while Serafina returned to the tent early. She gave Marine extra salve to use when needed and attempted to talk to her and make her feel a little better. When asked what she would want to do in the human city with the rest of her life, Marine said whatever would make Serafina happy. Serafina changed the question to, “what did you want to be when you were little?” Marine opened up and said that she had wanted to be a dress designer. This gave Serafina an idea and some hope.

The Departure
The next morning they cleaned and ate. Serafina and Marine took a walk around the camp so Marine could take one last look at the life that she had considered home. They said formal goodbyes to the General and left for the village. Milana would remain one more day in the camp and meet them on the coast. Only Sani entered. He made sure the Lluaran had returned safely, set up a message to go to the Great Heart Tree, said goodbye to Jayla, and took Cadimus.

Ten days later they found the shore. A very large ship was anchored in the distance and had dropped a row boat. Serafina began to run toward the ship until the figurehead and name came into clear view. A fifteen-foot carving of her likeness with flames rolling off of her was on the bow and the name had been changed to Serafina. This slowed her to a dumbfounded walk. The rowboat brought a familiar face and Serafina once again ran to embrace Braeden Brightburn in an engulfing hug.

Everyone was introduced and Sani informed Braeden that they were waiting on one more. Braeden said, “of course, where is Stangil?” Serafina, Sani, and Rondal instantly changed disposition. Someone muttered, “he isn’t coming.” An awkward silence fell until Braeden said they would talk about it later.

He changed the subject to getting them all on the ship. He had dresses waiting for Serafina. They all had rooms to settle in.

Milana eventually arrived and boarded. After being introduced, Braeden turned to Serafina and asked, “would you like to do the honors?”

And with that, “ANCHORS UP! TAKE US HOME!” They set sail for home.

Do You Even Know Who I Am?

Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, Rondal, and Cadimus were heading south to find a bay where they were to meet with Braeden Brightburn and sail home to Voltierra. At some point on that journey they expected Milana, emissary of the Dy’Voth to join them. In the mornings Serafina and Rondal would practice sparring before beginning the day’s travel.

After ten days they came upon a Lluaran village, or what was left of it. It seemed only elderly and young Lluaran remained and they lived in terror. Jayla, a young teenager, was their spokesperson. She said that they had been terrorizd by a Dy’Voth camp several hours away and that the last of their warriors had been taken prisoner. The Dy’Voth had also tortured people into disclosing information about a Heart Tree that protected against an ancient evil, the Duggubahalla. They had released it and it was snatching children in the night. Ten children had been lost.

Serafina and Sani decided to deal with the Dy’Voth first, hoping it would be easy to inform them of the cease fire and get the prisoners back. They sent Cadimus ahead with a note. When they arrived at the camp, things did not go as expected. The camp was a large outpost with over 500 Dy’Voth. They appeared to be well-trained elite soldiers with an honor guard.

Once inside the General’s tent, they saw Cadimus being beaten. The general herself was as tall as Rondal and looked as strong to boot. She had an aura of a raging fire, almost as insatiable as Abigor. They admitted the truth about Cadimus and that the intent was to prepare the camp of their arrival and avoid a hostile situation. In order to preserve his life, Serafina bent the knee and begged for the general to give him over. They told the general everything about the cease fire and peace treaty. She did not seem wholly convinced, nor did she seem inclined to allow them to leave when Serafina spoke about the cave in. They were instructed to leave. No agreements were made and releasing the other prisoners was not a topic up for discussion.

Irritated with the way that went, Serafina barely stopped at the gate to retrieve her weapon. As she passed Rondal and Cadimus, she merely said, “we’re leaving,” without stopping to explain. An hour later, Sani realized they were being followed.

After finding a clearing Sani, Naiora, and Cadimus hid. Serafina and Rondal stood, awaiting the Dy’Voth. A fist of honor guards had been sent to follow them. Serafina and Captain Seneck exchanged provoking words and the conversation became heated to the point where the Dy’Voth attacked. This was the fight Serafina was hoping for.

Three Dy’Voth were killed and one badly injured. Serafina was knocked out in the fight. Cadimus and Sani took care of the wounded and Sani placed a note with Captain Seneck for his return to the general.

The next morning Rondal remembered the general’s name. Gorgos. She and her four companies were woken before every other Dy’Voth and sent on a special forward mission that only Ouroboros knew about. That’s why word was never sent to her about the cease fire.

They returned to the Lluaran village, a little worse for wear and a little less enthusiastic. Jayla proudly announced that they had captured one of the Dy’Voth. Sani and Serafina found Milana sitting next to a tree, unharmed, a bit puzzled and slightly amused. They told Milana about General Gorgos and how poorly the meeting went. She expressed concern and explained that Gorgos was her older sister. She offered to go to the camp and explain the situation, hoping that Gorgos would defer to Durand’s deal.

The others decided to investigate the Duggubahalla’s cave in the meantime.

The Cost of Peace

Serafina Anduril and Sani Nodin awoke in the forest with their escort Milana, the emissary of the Dy’Voth on their way to meet with General Durand. Serafina received the impression that not only was Milana precisely perceptive (she could see that Serafina was wrapped in Somnambuliss’s cloak), but also honest for her part and aware of the reality of the situation on both sides. Milana warned them that the general was gruff. Cadimus privately explained to Serafina that Milana was very highly ranked, possibly the second to General Durand.

They arrived on the third day at a camp of around 50 Dy’Voth. They were shown to a private tent where they were able to wash and prepare for their meeting. During this brief respite, Sani asked Serafina about the purple in her hair, to which she remarked in surprise, “I have bitch hair?!” This was sorted out as they waited for their meeting.

General Durand was an impressive first glance. He moved and gave the impression of a skilled warrior and had a red and purple aura that burned with vigor. His tent was sparse except for a table with refreshments. It appeared he had attempted to prepare Lluaran and human customs and provided what he could, accordingly.

After some conversation and debate, a peace treaty was struck. A cease fire would commence and the Dy’Voth would leave the Lluaran forest. They would live near the mountains from the northern border to the sea on the south with a 60 mile width into the forest. They would not cut down or harm any Heart Trees. They would receive a seat at the summit.

The Lluaran and humans would be responsible for returning 3 eggs stolen from Ouroboros’s cave thousands of years ago by Krolovik the Bound and Stangil Drakebane. The Dray would be called off. Within 12 months, the first egg must be returned. Within 6 more months, the second. Within 6 more, the third. If they were not all 3 returned within 2 years, the peace would end and the Dray would be called back but this time hunt down those responsible for the cave in and all of their loved ones. A second deal was brokered. For every extra egg returned, 10 miles wide would be returned to Lluaran territory.

Before they left, Durand spoke privately with Serafina. She had admitted to the cave-in and accepted his wrath. Durand did not strike out against her but said that she would live with that for the rest of her life. He foresaw “dark days to come… the east painted with blood.” Serafina told Durand about Kalloruth and Voranyth, attempting to clarify his vision. It seemed that the two races might need not only peace in the near future, but an alliance.

The next morning they left the camp with Milana to return to the Great Heart Tree with the good news. When they arrived Sani spoke with Adlei Rhiggs and then Ancient Thyiss, who suggested to Sani to extend friendship to the humans. He stressed the importance of an alliance between the two races.

Serafina returned to find Rondal a mess both emotionally and physically. He had not been dealing with withdrawal from the charnal honey well. He felt abandoned because they had left him suddenly and without warning. He was struggling to process the death of Stangil. He was drunk. And angry.

Serafina told him about Aleetha being very pregnant when they last spoke. She told him about the peace treaty with the Dy’Voth. Stricken by the news of being a father and the sudden importance of the future, Rondal’s eyes opened and he decided to pull himself up.

Serafina gave Milana samples of their blood for a ritual to call off the Dray, but did not disclose whose blood it was. Serafina felt it was up to each individual to admit to the Dy’Voth (or not) their part in the cave-in. Milana asked to return to Voltierra with them and Serafina approved. They would leave in five days and head south. If Milana missed them, she would know where to find them.

That night Sani gave a speech to all the Lluaran and Seedlings who had gathered at the Great Heart Tree. He announced the cease-fire and the treaty. He named Adlei and Serafina as heroes. He spoke of the land agreement (but not the eggs) and the safety of the heart trees. Sani then toasted to peace. It was a rousing and successful speech. The Lluaran celebrated.

Over the next five days they relaxed and Sani prepared to leave again. Serafina spoke with Adlei and promised to send his children back. Before leaving she also paid her respects to Ancient Thyiss, who named her “Tree Friend” and gave her the mark. She noticed an instantaneous change in the Lluaran’s attitude toward her. They hugged her and showed respect. A week earlier they had her sleeping in the mud, eating sludge, and begrudgingly gave her clothing.

A Grateful Homecoming...
...and an Ungrateful Stay

Autumn had arrived. Serafina Anduril, Sani Nodin, Adlei Rhiggs, Rondal, and their new companion, Cadimus were traveling from the Grimvald to the Great Heart Tree. They discussed Somnambuliss and Serafina’s faith in him along with Ouroboros’s plan to wipe out the Lluaran. Rondal still retained parts of his memories of Ouroboros and Cadimus had the memories of the Dy’Voth he had taken. They shared information and Serafina asked insightful questions. Some Dy’Voth are awakened with fire, ether, or both.

Rondal could not withstand the draw of the honey and was struggling with lower and lower doses. Cadimus took watch for Serafina and she trusted him.

Three days out they came across Dy’Voth tracks and discovered that General Durand had a perimeter encircling the Great Heart tree about two days out.

The Great Heart Tree itself was surrounded by a wall of new heart trees. Ky’Lea greeted Sani and Adlei upon their return. Serafina stayed outside the wall with Cadimus.

Sani spoke with Ancient Thyiss and Elbria. Twenty-eight Seedlings were now there. Adlei referred to Cadimus as “it” and Thyiss instructed Sani to welcome them inside the wall.

While settling in for the night, Serafina and Cadimus had a heart to heart until picked up by Sani and Rondal. Serafina gave Sani and Cadimus the honey. Sani had the bulk and gave it to Ky’Lea for safe keeping. Serafina inspected the Great Heart Tree and noticed that most of her and Stangil’s blood had washed off. There was some power still pulsing but not out of Ouroboros’s brand.

Sani went up into the tree and spoke with Delona and Ky’Lea, who both cooed over his heroic stories. Meanwhile, Serafina prayed before falling asleep in a lean-to outside in the mud. Still wearing Rondal’s shirt from weeks before. With broken ribs and ether burns all over.

The next morning Rondal had a particularly aggressive attitude when he was told that the drugs were being cut off. Serafina asked for food, clothes and bandages and was met with glares of disgust. Eventually, the healer, Te’Mal came to her aid. He also told her that her soul was burnt as well as her skin. Sani and Adlei debated over telling Thyiss about Cadimus before finally checking on Serafina.

Despite intense discomfort and physical ailments, she had enough spirit to begin yelling at the Lluaran for being stubborn and ungrateful. She gave Adlei an earful as well before offering him the best suggestions she had to aid in this war. She could speak with Braxys about sending the new humans to fight, but they were no less than six months out. They could ask the Cragga in Kunik for help now that they were at an armistice. Adlei did not like either option.

Sani dealt with a detoxing Rondal ransacking his room before going to speak with Thyiss and disclose all of the truth. Thyiss told Sani that he had to live with knowing that the world has a little more darkness because of him.

Sani eventually was able to look over the map and scrolls with Cadimus before an alarm went off in camp. A Dy’Voth emissary had arrived. Her name was Milana.

Milana spoke with Serafina, Sani, and Cadimus. In fluent Lluaran she said that General Durand was willing to talk peace. Serafina noticed that Milana had the abilities of a reader and was careful not to lie.

The four embarked on a two day journey to the General’s camp, leaving Rondal and Adlei at the Great Heart Tree.


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