As Tiffanie slept she felt a distant compulsion, a desire to leave the temple and journey into the oncoming snowstorm. Something was calling for her, something just on the edge of consciousness. She easily could resist it, should she desire to, but there was something familiar, something from before she took her vows.
Typhon grabbed her axe and quietly left the group to see where this compulsion was to take her. Before stepping out in the snowstorm, Typhon pulled the winter cloak closer around her. With eyes closed for a moment, Typhon sensed the direction she need to follow, and then walked off toward it.
Into the storm she went. It was windy, but Typhon could see a heat source in the distance. Going down the temple pathway she could see a fire burning from behind a set of wind breaks, and a single person sitting at it. He looked elven, with greying hair, and old – for an elf. As Typhon could count the number of elves he had met on her two hands, that was not saying much. When Typhon approached, he looked up puzzled and asked, “did you kill the creature that cursed you?”
Typhon joined the old elf by the fire, as she said, “Yes, the creature is dead. Who are you?”
“I am no one. Merely a traveler caught in a storm. If you need a name human, it is Kelannor, he who runs with the rivers but never arrives, or Ahrien, the empty shadow or Aarienthë, the empty one in Eterian. We prefer Ahrien.” With a smile the elf asked, “stupid human, why are you out here in a growing storm? Do you not have a warm bed in yonder temple?”
Typhon smiled as she said, “I do have a warm bed waiting for me in the temple. But I had I feeling that I needed to come out here. I am not all human, my mother was an elf, Kelannor. If you don’t mind me asking, where are you traveling too?”
The elf replied, “I do not mind if you do not mind. I do not travel to anywhere. The destination is not important, only the pathway you walk. My path has taken into the Hattani Gates, this mountain above us being one of them. You mother was an elf? Odd you dress in human clothes, wear human furs, style your hair as a human, bear tribal tattoos of a human. Besides your pointy ears, what part of you is an elf? What part of your mother lives in you?”
“It was my mother to first taught me of the bear,” Typhon replied. Typhon pull out the bear claw necklace that was her mother’s, and continued with, “She was Mythwen Ursa-Dracil Silverleaf. I may have grown up as human, but I learned more about the bear-spirit thru her.”
“A snow-elf seer. The elves of woods and mountains share similar beliefs dating back to the Sunderings of long ago. They see the truth, though they have long forgotten why. And what name did she give you at birth stupid elf-human?” the elder elf asked with a jovial curiosity.
“Well smart, ass old elf,” Typhon replied with a sly smile, “I am Typhon Ni.”
“Is this a human trick? You are not Typhon Ni, the kinslayer? The abhorred? The lowest of the low? Scion of a tribe of elf-killers? Are you that Typhon Ni, descendant of Typhon Mal, slayer of children and a butcher of the great Horde of Haalkhan?” he said with a touch of menace.
“I am NO kinslayer,” Typhon said, face flushed red by anger. “But I will be when I meet up with my half brother again, and bury my axe into his chest. Yes I am descendant of Haalkhan, but that does not define who I am, or what I choose to do with my life.”
“Whoa there elf-man…woman,” the old elf said, “control your anger. Are you or are you not the person accused of those actions?” the elder elf said.
Taking a deep breath, Typhon calmed down. “Yes I am the person accused of these actions,” Typhon said. “Is there a reason you wish to know about this of me?”
“Pleased to meet you!” the elf said with a smile. “Then you are the person I was hoping to encounter on this journey. You see I knew your ancestor Sigurd, father of Typhon Mal, and his wife, the Lady Dagmaer Trondsdottir from which the clan Trond gained its name. Many of these names are probably a mystery to you. Your father Borrs, was a usurper after all of the Trond, but for good reason – but when you go back far enough you are related by blood to quite a few people. That of course is irrelevant to the situation at-hand, that being the questioning of Skarrifax the White, scion of Vercertürix, the Cold Drake of Matignon. Did you already question him?”
“Are you speaking of the white dragon that helped the Betrayer against the dwarves of Azenkul?”, Typhon asked.
“That would be her, Vercer that is. Her spawn lives up that mountain.” the elf replied.
“No I have not question him,” replied Typhon. “I planned on trying to track him down after I was done with my current endeavor.”
The elf added, “no, I mean did you question Skarrifax, the young dragon?”
“No I’m afraid we did not question Skarrifax,” Typhon replied. “We were occupied with trying not to get frozen. But he still lives.”
“Hmm. You should go talk to him. He’s young, stupid, greedy and selfish, but since you survived he either respects you or was cowed by you. I mean you don’t have to now of course, but before you go after Vercertürix, you should know more about her. He spawn would know.” the elf replied.
“I will consider it,” Typhon said. “What is your interest in all of this? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“I am here to help keep you on your path, and there are two threats to that path. One cannot alter destiny, but one can delay it to ill effect; and I fear there are some that would delay you.” replied the elf.
“What are the ones that will delay me,” Typhon asked.
“Your vengeance and your sister. They are distractions to the real problems. The current path you are on is also a distraction, but you will need the wizard and the witch to do what must be done, so it is an investment of time and energy.” he replied.
“Please, enlighten me as to what the real problems are,” Typhon stated. “I know what I have planned after we get finished here in the Hattani Gates. And while I’m thinking of it, would the flute that I have that will call to Vercer, also work on Scarrifax?”
“I cannot give you specifics, as I do not know the specifics; however, there is a reason you were selected to find the Axe of Khord and you must trust that it was a good reason. You see I know all about the others you have encountered with cryptic messages and few answers.” he replied, adding, “and I have no idea about the flute. You could try?”
Typhon pulled out the flute from where she had it strapped to her belt. “Well here goes nothing,” Typhon said with a sly smile. She then began to play the melody that she had been learning that would summon the dragon Vercer. Hoping that it might bring forth Scarrifax.
Nothing happened, save for a very, very subtle mental tug to the north north-west for Typhon. The old elf said, “It likely won’t summon the spawn, or the mother even, but may guide you to her and calm either of them enough for a civil, albeit threatening, conversation.” He thought for a moment, “I believe you must be much closer to the Vercertürix. Even if it did summon her, it would not necessarily save your friends from her wrath.”
“You are probably right,” Typhon stated. “The conversation that I will have with Vercer, has been in the back of my mind. Do you know anything of Vercertürix?”
“It is a terrible creature of vast power. I only met it once, and I barely survived – others were not so lucky. That was very, very long ago and it has grown in power since then by an order of magnitude. It lives somewhere in the frozen waste beyond the furthest peaks of the eastern White Mountains. It knows many things but is selfish and full of deceit, or so I am told. My dealings, like yours, were concerned with not becoming frozen in an ice bank.” the elf replied.
“Is there anything more I should know about,” Typhon asked. “Before I head back into the warm temple to get more rest before we continue on with our journey.”
“No, not about the dragons. Just remember, that all else is a distraction to your role in bringing about the will of Khord.” He answered.
“What do you know of the will of Khord?,” Typhon asked. “And why are you so interested in that I stay on that path? I have not abandoned it, it has always been on the forefront of my mind. I just have this expedition to take of first before I can start down it.”
“Well you did tell the story to some persons I know. As far as the other, understand that I am a kind of “active historian”. I ensure things stay on the proper path. We’ve predicted that you will go after your sister first given the opportunity.”
“Who is the ‘we’ you speak of?,” asked Typhon. “Are you associated with those who call themselves the Morgan?”
Typhon was starting to get increasingly frustrated, but continued on with, “I am tired of groups of people who believe that the ‘know all’, dictate that I should do something. Just because it puts a puzzle piece in the correct place, so that the world will fall into some order that ‘they’ say it should be.
“If you are not part of that type of group, then I’m sorry to group you with them. I’m just tire of all the cryptic and vague answers that they spew out thinking that it will help. Well it doesn’t.
“If you want my help, then tell me straight up. I prefer straight up answers to questions, asked for my assistance, and I may just give it. I am in a mood to just track down my bastard brother, kill him so I can remove this curse, and go save my sister. Then I might on a whim to take care of this business with Khord.”
At the end of Typhon’s rant, she did not realize that she was standing with the axe in a white knuckle grip.
Kellenor held up a hand, “Be still,” the old elf said in a voice that was instantly calming. The weather started going around them in a way no tarp or windbreak could bring about. Typhon felt comfortable in the
“No one is trying to manipulate you. We could do that indirectly or with magic. In our way, this is being direct. Normally we would not talk to any of you, but simply do. For hundreds of years there are
those of us who have acted as agents of order against the whims of chaos. The one who calls herself Morgan is a younger member of our circle. As is the other who met you on Thalassa who took Morgan’s
form. She is called Zöe sometimes. All the names I gave you for myself I have used in different places in different times. As I said, I prefer Ahrien, but few call me that. Kellenor, or simply Kel will do.”
“Suffice to say we have the best interest of Thalassa and the world at heart. If you wish to know more, I can tell you, but know that if I do tell you, you will instantly have a burden on your soul greater than
any vengeance, any dedication, or any family. By not telling you, you have free will to do what you must do within the confines of what we are asking and without predetermined results – which is not much, just
a shift of priorities.”
“In short, you should not have learned about your sister yet. It was unanticipated, but solvable. I am here to help with that solution. I am here to give you hope.”
Typhon sat once again, setting her axe down beside her. “Very well Ahrien,” Typhon replied, “let us continue. Do you have a name for your group? Or, is that telling me something that will bring a burden on my soul.”
The elf smiled, “it is not my group, but we have been around for some time. Call us the Circle if you wish. We have no other name that would be of meaning to you. Any more than that, well, you would find yourself in deep conflict between what you know, what is right, and what you believe, and you may not act in the way you normally would. But of all your companions, you seem the most likely to handle this level on contact; hence why we approached you. Morgan has spoken to the others of your group, but that was a strategy, a most successful one actually despite the risks. I speak to you now and deeply respect who you are and who you are becoming.”
“Please tell me of the solution that will bring me hope,” Typhon said.
“You wish revenge on your brother and the safety of your sister. The former you should be able to deal with in time, but your sister is trouble, especially since she is aware of your existence and they know you know. They will use her to trap you. Do you already have anyone searching for her?”
“Yes there is someone searching for her,” Typhon replied. “It is a group of bounty hunters that where looking for me. Myself and my companions defeated them, but didn’t kill them. After talking to Signe, and informing her that I believed my sister still lived. We persuaded her and her group to go search for my sister. I’m not sure how much luck they have had so far.”
“Likely little I would think. But I can change that. Would you let me see what you saw, know what you know, so I may find them?” asked the elf.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Typhon said. “But how are you going to do that?”
“The bear will tell me. Look deeply within my eyes Typhon and let go your distrust and master your rage.” Typhon’s mind raced as images of his sister, the priestess, the hunters, passed before her eyes, reflected in the eyes of Ahrien Kellenor, which for the briefest of moments were the eyes of a bear staring back at Typhon. For another brief moment, she saw a bit of the old elf’s soul as well. Memories of the hunt, capture, imprisonment, and escape from a city beyond even Thalassa in scope emerged from the old elf’s mind. Then is was done. “Signe, a Snomorian priestess of the Old Gods. I will find her and help her find your sister Thora, though she will not know me as you do.”
Typhon thought for a moment, then she reached up and took the tear drop earring off that she wore. “Show this to her, it once belonged to my father. She knows it belongs to me, seeing that in was in the detailed description handed out in regards to my bounty. I would like that back once you have aided them.” Typhon said that last with a smile.
“I cannot guarantee I will see you again, but I’ll make arrangements for it to find you. Your sister, nor the priestess, will know I am who you see now, so when you see her she may not remember or place my name. Best not to mention it.” the elf replied. “You should return now, they will miss your disappearance.”
Typhon stood up and offered her hand to the old elf, saying in elven, “Fare thee well, Ahrien. May your travels be safe.”
Typhon turned and walked back into the temple to finish her nights rest. Fore the next day, they were heading into the Hatanni Gates.