Waves as far as the eye could see. Small waves swelling and dropping. Large waves slowly swelling and rolling towards the shore, breaking upon the cliffs. Waves, not of the sea but of light, slowly breaking upon the cliffs of crystal.
Shadows drifting within the planes of crystal. Places and people.
Between an aisle of fighters, a man in blouse and pants, striding next to a man with a blouse, under a chain mail shirt, and skirt strides toward a rock outcropping ...
On a level plain two horde forces come to a stop facing one another. Four riders peel off one force and gallop towards the center between the two forces. Five riders peel off the other force and race to meet the first four riders. The nine riders meet and a brief conference takes place. Eight of them pair up and ride toward points between the two forces. The ninth rider unfurls a white banner ...
A Regal man, wearing the Crown of Caid, stands up and decrees that the Horde Chief will be a “Guest” of the Kingdom for the duration of the emergency.
Eight ladies in a circle holding their crystals to the sky. Two purple, two green, two yellow and two blue. At the command of a lady holding a blue crystal, the man in the center stabs his crystal topped staff into the ground; a bolt of lightning streaks from the crystal skyward, a ring of light and wind flashes outwards from the crystal knocking the Ladies to the ground ...
A man, grey haired, a scar. Standing and searching the evening sky.
A young Lady, her court dress torn and bloody, stands with a sword in her hands, a tree at her back.
“Ah, this is what I wanted to study closer.”
Running, 14 Brothers left from the ambush. Who were these men that were dressed as Hahn Brothers? Fighting up ahead. Why were these impostors fighting the Knights of the West? Continue running, follow the main path and group. A gesture and a Brother diverges to help a Knight fighting three other impostors. More fighting ahead.
A gesture and two Brothers diverge to help a knight. Continue down the path. Pass a clearing with many impostors fighting a small group of armed men, a gesture and four Brothers diverge.
Going around the corner of some boulders. Stopping and then gesturing the rest of his Brothers forward. They run to attack the impostors before him, who must be guarding some action ahead. Waiting, he slips around the battle and continues on into another clearing.
Slowing only a moment to see what is before him. A young Lady, her court dress torn and bloody, stands with a sword in her hands, a tree to her back. Before her is a dying Knight who is fending off two impostors. Even as he approaches the Knight kills an impostor but goes down himself
The impostor spots him and pauses with a puzzled expression. Good, that gives him time to grab the sword of the dead Knight and ...
Block ... Swing ... Swing ... Swing ... The impostor is no more. The Lady keeps her sword between him and herself.
He gently puts the sword back with the Knight. He turns towards the Lady and with one hand gestures ...
Looking at the shadows drifting across the planes of the crystal. The light fades, the crystal is now just a crystal; the grey haired man holding it pauses, thinking.
“Thank you my Lady."
Carefully putting the crystal down, he pulls forward a new sheet of parchment and a pen. Dipping the pen in the ink he starts to write ...
A man, grey haired, a scar under his eye, looking into the sky, knowing something cosmic just happened. Shaking himself he turns and starts for the fire and his audience. Walking through the crowd of people, laughing, saying hello, shaking hands, trading jokes, he approaches a barrel with water and stops and stares for a minute.
Sitting and waiting he looks out over the crowd. He has at least twice the number than the night before. As he waits he is noting once again a number of special visitors to the story circle.
With a rustle of wings a large Hawk lands on the log next to him and his audience quiets. Standing he takes a deep breath and starts ...
“Looking out over the battle towards the Horde Chief, Archer sends up a silent prayer, pulls the bow back, closes his eyes, and releases ...”
Looking out over the battle towards the Horde Chief, Archer utters his standard prayer upon losing an arrow. “May you fly straight and true,” and then adds “to your destiny.”
Running after her prey, Diana on the Hunt, mutters “That’s different” and turning, watches the arrow as Archer releases.
Smoke drifts by…
As the Arrow floats over the battlefield, a number of warriors of both armies, while pausing and stretching, notice the Arrow and wonder where this lone arrow is going.
Captured, Honoré is politely escorted down to the Horde's High Chieftain. Sitting on a rock the High Chieftain motions for Honoré to sit on a sack of grain opposite. Sipping water together the two of them discuss Honoré‘s reasons for attempting to fulfill his brothers mission.
Suddenly leaning forwards the High Chieftain pushes Honoré off of the Sack. An Arrow flashes through the spot Honoré had been sitting, cutting the High Chieftain on the cheek. Standing, the Horde Chieftain helps Honoré up, motions to his guards as a hawk lands on his shoulder. A word and a runner heads for the drums.
Archer notes a brief stirring at the end of the arrows flight.
A heavy roll of drums, a staccato beat, and the Horde saluting steps back from the battle and the fighting grinds to a stop.
The moon large, full and bright, lights up a special place.
In the center of a ring of benches, firewood is stacked.
A ring of torches encircles a pile of firewood that is ready to light.
Two parallel rows of torches, make a path from the benches toward the fire ring, between them lays a large log.
On one side of the circle sits a great stone bench, intricately carved with dragons, lightning bolts, trees, and ravens.
Behind this bench is the moon.
• - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Western nobles are very displeased. They are not happy that the Crown of the West is making peace with the Horde. While some of the noble houses use Horde members for manual labor around their estates, most are keeping their distance from the Horde and its members.
More and more of the Nobles are making their displeasure about the peace accord known with negative votes in Council.
In Atenveldt a great council meets to study a scroll listing the new working relationships the Horde has with the Western kingdoms and how their population is starting to work with the Western kingdoms’ citizens. Discussion breaks out over whether the addition of the Horde is a good or bad thing.
Back in Caid, Archer went looking for a special place. He found it in a small tower on the 3rd floor of the Royal Castle. A small room, with a window he could look out. Once he dragged in some pillows, he sat. Thinking all the time about whether or not he had lost his archery skill. Was he not able to kill another human, or had the shot had been too great for his skills? How could he be “Archer” if he couldn’t shoot? He was conflicted.
He started a mantra and slowly slipped into a meditative trance …………...
Suddenly there were little static discharges all around the circle of torches. With a blaze of light a man is standing within the circle of torches. He is holding a staff with a brilliant white crystal on the top; the crystal is lit from within.
With the light of his staff glinting off his white hair he steps forward, voices a command and points the staff at the pile of firewood, which causes the bonfire to light.
The man pauses and stares into the fire. He then turns and carefully places his staff upright in brackets by the large stone bench. Facing the bench he raises his hands to the Moon. A ring of light explodes outwards from the staff.
The meeting has been called.
• - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Kingdom of the West is having more and more problem because most of the nobles are not in a forgiving mood. Several small coups against minor nobles and ministers have been averted. The Kingdom Councils are having problems with split votes and lack of quorum. Kingdom business is coming to a halt.
Within the Kingdom of An Tir the Horde was working very hard to repair towns, roads, and in several cases, social structure. A Kingdom that might have dropped into anarchy was going to continue to function.
A number of the Horde Clans realized that in Caid their system of Clans and Households would fit in very nicely.
Honoré very much disliked the fact that the Kingdoms were treating the Horde not like an enemy, but as special guests.
The Freehold was finding that many of the Clans and Holds of the Horde were very well suited to the Freehold and some of the Horde Clans were looking into joining the Freehold.
In a flash of light a man wearing the Freehold symbol and a woman with a glowing blue crystal, appear in the center of the circle of unlit torches.
The woman nods to the central bench and vanishes.
The man walks around the fire and steps up to the log. Picking up a stick he nods to the central bench, and to the Focuser who called the meeting, then he brings the stick down on the log.
About two days ride from the castle, the royal family is picnicking. While they and their few guards are playing and engaging in contests of skill, a large group of Hourde fighters emerge from the trees. As the King and his family are attacked and killed, he notices that the attackers are actually Westerners dressed as Hourde fighters.
The day after the royal family’s funeral, two Dukes and a Count file into a council chamber. A number of runners and heralds file in after them. With the death of the whole royal family, no one was sure how to proceed. The majority of nobles disputed this council’s authority, but something needed to be done to confirm that all the various ministries continued to run.
In the days that followed, a rumor circulated that a member of the royal family had survived the massacre. The council was forced to open an official investigation into the rumor. But over the next several months the problems in the Kingdom slowly take precedence and the rumor, and so the investigation, fade away.
After that first council, all council meetings and courtly activities take place in the castle’s outdoor plaza, giving the impression these are royal functions. During the next several months of meetings, various laws are passed to keep the Kingdom functioning; regulations are put into place to restrict the Hourde activities; and much time is spent discussing creating a replacement government vs. creating a new royal family.
BOOooommmmm ... “Why is there thunder with a sunny and cloudless sky?”
The large silvery moon highlights the kilt worn by the Focuser who stands next to the upright staff with his arms outstretched toward that moon.
The man in front the log now uses two sticks for a double drum beat.
Ladies of the Crystal start farrying in the Freehold Chiefs who are attending the meeting. Each Chief lights a torch from the bonfire before finding their seat.
• - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reining to a stop on a hilltop, Honoré and a Freehold patrol see:
The Hourde High Chief grabbing the sword from a fallen knight.
A young Lady, her court dress torn and bloody, backed against a tree with a sword in her hands.
Another Hourde member advancing on the Lady.
Honoré gives instructions to the patrol to protect the Lady and capture the attackers.
The Hourde member charges the Lady with raised sword, and the Hourde Chief steps between the two, blocking the blow. He kills the “Hourde member” with three very swift swings, the last a solid blow.
While the Lady keeps her sword pointed at the Hourde Chief, he puts the blade back in the borrowed sword back into the hands of the dead knight.
At the same time Honoré and the Freehold mounted patrol sweep down and surround the Hourde Chief and the Lady.
Va-booomm-ooom! Everyone looks at the sky with puzzlement.