This is an incomplete fragment, meant to take place before Session 23.
From the cozy security of a thick blanket and a soft bed, Emmeline gazed at the eastern window as it was flooded by the golden morning light. The room was a warm, dark color of aged wood that seemed to have been grown that way rather than chopped, hammered, and splinted together. She felt Mahryswenifahr’s presence in her royal chambers in a taller, adjacent tower and knew that if or when Em decided to rise from bed, she would spend a golden day with her.
The Mother Tree was all around them.
Smiling, Em snuggled against the warm, strong presence of her king next to her, for when she thought of Roland, that’s what she thought of him. With his arms around her, her heart soared with the afterglow of their lovemaking, one which she hoped would produce an heir. Everything was right in the world.
The dawn light dimmed a bit. Emmeline looked up and sitting in the window sill was a man half shadowed by the moon. He wore a heavy sable mantle over a black cloak. His face was pale and worn from the years, but yet appeared handsome in a rugged kind of way. His eyes were blue as ice and hair black as night, pulled up and back from his forehead. he wore no ornament, nor carried any instrument. He said nothing, but looked out toward Mahryswenifahr’s tower, not really acknowledging Emmeline or her Baron.
Em blinked in surprise. Unwilling to rouse Roland, she gently slipped out of his embrace. He would be very angry if someone intruded on them like this and Emmeline sought to avoid unpleasantness.
She reached for a robe that hung from the bedpost and slipped it on as a ward against the natural chill before the dawn. Then she padded silently across the wood floor toward the stranger. “This place is private,” she whispered, still unwilling to wake Roland, even though somehow she knew he would not rouse from his slumber. “Who are you?”
“Shhh,” he said putting his fingers to his lips. He whispered, “You are right, this place is more appropriate.” With that the scene shifted into an old cabin that seemed familiar to Emmeline, yet distant. The stranger sat in the window sill in the same position, and Emmeline wore the same robe she had just donned. “I’m afraid I cannot control when I appear, at least not very well. You are dreaming, and for myself, you may call me John.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “You’re the John that has been bothering me all do,” she accused. Her tone was more cautious and curious than hostile. “Oh, that’s right. You said we’d talk in my dreams.” She soaked in the the realization this was only a dream and was a little sad. She had rather wished it was real, up until John’s interruption anyway. She sighed and looked around herself, wondering why this place seemed familiar. “Well, I suppose you’ve got my undivided attention now. Do you care to tell me what all this is about? You, that wand, this connection, and what it is you want?”
Hoping down gracefully, John seemed fairly tall, taller than Roland actually. He answered, “This, I think, is from your childhood. I think it is at least. I am John. You used the wand and by doing so woke me up and gained my attention. For a time at least. Just like Elemix, Haghon, Kihresta, and others before them. But you are closer. Well, you and Elemix. As far as what I want,” he shrugged, “I want to be free. Why – I do not know. Perhaps you can help me?”
“I don’t really know. I do like helping people…” Emmeline thought about it, then asked, “Are you an ancient god bound to these hills and awoken by using these ancient items?”
“God? I do not think so. Perhaps, but if I was a god I would think I would know it,” he replied. “I don’t think I am bound to hills. I do know I was a user of magic once, long ago. I also know where you are going. As I said to Elemix what you are doing is both a opportunity and a danger, depending on your point of view. The simple truth is that I feel the power of the wand, can sense the staff, and another item Elemix has seems familiar – though not as it is. Your rod…”, he said, pointing at the rod on the dresser drawer, “…was owned by Kihresta before her demise.”
“Yes, the nice evil lady, as you called her,” she reminded him. “It’s when you say things like that I think I can’t trust you. Maybe you are the spirit of some long dead sorcerer, tied to a reliquary to which the Aquila leads us. Does any of that sound familiar?”
“Well she was nice. Just in a deal with something dark, so she was willing to do some pretty self absorbed things. And no, you shouldn’t trust me right off. I wouldn’t. But you will need me, and frankly I’m not bad, just been trapped for a long time, so long I really don’t remember it all.” He walked toward her a bit, “Maybe I am tied to something. The truth is I can’t tell you because I don’t know. But I think I did possess magic, a great deal of it, and I am drawn to go into that plateau. There is something buried there that for some is a salvation and for others is a terror.” He shrugged, “but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you which I would want.”
“So, what exactly is it you want from me? And why do you think we will need you?” Emmeline asked. “I mean, truth be told, I don’t need that wand. My own magic is as good or better, I can do it all day long, and it doesn’t leave me deaf. I only used the wand because I knew it would be loud and we wanted to start an avalanche. Normally, being deafened is not helpful at all, and it’s especially bad when you consider people always seem to be sneaking up on me already.”
“I want to be freed. Simply put, right now the only expression of my abilities, my person, my essence is that wand. I feel the only thing that can free me is its destruction or perhaps something else. I once knew, but I cannot remember.” he replied, “you see…it has been a very, very long time.”
“All right, well I really dislike it when people are put in cages, chains or otherwise locked up. I’ll try to help you,” Emmeline said. “However, according to El’s identification spells, that wand can’t be destroyed. And given the problems using it, pointing it at stuff and blasting away is a really bad idea. There are lots of nasty creatures out here that will come running at us if we go around making noise and drawing attention. But, we are still going to be drawing closer to that… whatever it is we are trying to find. Will that be enough?”
“Can’t easily be destroyed,” John corrected. “But of course that is good. As we draw closer to whatever…wait, you don’t know what you are looking for?”
“Nope,” Emmeline said. “We just have a map that we got from a well hidden location that leads us here. For all El’s theorizing and pontificating, we really have no idea.”
“When I spoke to..El is it? Well, when we talked, I told him about an old saying: Bere R’lhora hildako Gaztorak etxe lo zain. It is both and invitation and a warning from a long, long time ago – depending on your point of view and I suppose who you are. There are many places of danger and mystery on the highlands that are beyond the Gates. If you are going, where I think you are going, and if you have a key to it, you could be bringing about very, very bad things -for someone that is.”
“Who would that be?” Em asked.
“Could be you. Could be your rivals – I think the Tyaans are one of them. Kihresta’s group was another. They are all fueled by rumors of course. Rumors of buried power,” he replied.
Em nodded. “Yeah, we have empty suspicions, too. I mean, someone went to a great deal of trouble to hide a map to the general area and that hints there is something worth investigating there. The fact it was hidden suggests the map was meant to guide only people who had access to the unique, multipart magic item in which it was hidden. The Tyaanites don’t seem to know any more about it than we do, but maintain an interest probably just because we think it’s interesting. I suppose if we had chucked the whole thing into the ocean, we’d have avoided this entire messy business.
“Still, I have to admit that the challenges we’ve had to overcome on the way so far, has allowed me to really grow far stronger than I might have otherwise. This growth carries some pains and scars along the way, sure, but that’s only natural.” Emmeline raised an eyebrow as she continued. “And now you have appeared. This is getting more and more interesting, but I’d like to come to some kind of agreement with you going forward.”
“What do you propose?” he asked with a piqued interest.
“Well, as I mentioned I do like helping people, especially out of situations where they are trapped. I don’t know you, really, but you don’t seem like you really mean anyone harm, so I’m willing to try to help you out. I can’t promise I’ll be successful, since I have no idea how to help right now, but I can promise to look for a way and try to help you. I’d just like your promise in return that, whatever happens, you won’t harm me or my friends. ”
“Very well,” John said, “assuming you do not harm me – for the same goes for me to you – I will not harm you or your friend. You are of course speaking of Elemix and the others you travel with, or can you designate any random person as a friend. Sorry for that, but I seem to have vivid memories of not wanting to over-promise or make open-ended promises.”
“Actually, that’s just being smart,” Emmeline agreed. “And you have it right. My friends are those with me and those I love are a very long way away. And of course I mean you no harm, as well. So on to the next question. Do you have any idea how I can help you in the short term?”
“Frankly not much. I’ve been disembodied for so long I’ve frankly forgot why. I’ve spent long periods dreaming and I have flashes of memory from time to time, but details, names, and such escape me. I mean I think it has been hundreds of years. Maybe longer. Hard to tell.” he replied. “If you need to talk or seek advice, just use the wand once. I’ll manifest briefly in the conscious world, maybe. But I will definitely do so in dreams. Again, only for a brief time. The witch thought I actually was the wand itself – but I don’t feel like I am coming from there. I don’t ‘live’ there. It is quite a conundrum.”
“Perhaps it’s more the kind of magic being used. Since my magic doesn’t seem to awaken you, that’s not right. Nor does Elemix’s wizardry. As far as I know the only other type of magic that could do magic missiles would be sorcery. So that might be the link — sorcery sort of wakes you up. Does that fit what you know so far?” Emmeline wondered.
“Elemix is not a sorcerer?” John asked quizzically.
“Correct,” Emmeline affirmed. “None of us are sorcerers here.”
John mused, “So, he is some kind of wild mage or Elven-blooded? You seem to be a warlock. I can see the connections around you to the beyond. Some other being with sorcerous powers is feeding you power. Like the Kihresta, though not from the same place. What we used to call in the best situations a incantatrix and the worst a malefica. One was a wise country seer or hedge mage – a follower of the old gods and specifically their children, the other an evil hag bent on destruction – a follower of the outcast and outsiders. I assume you are more the former given your predications against harm and imprisonment.”
“Oh, wow, you really are out of touch aren’t you?” Emmeline remarked sympathetically. She shook her head. “No, Elemix is not a wild mage — he wield neither draconic sorcery nor wild sorcery types of magic. He is a wizard — someone who has studied as scholarly institutions and methodically learned magic. His magic is not innate, but he has access to the broadest range of magical spells of any spellcaster. Perhaps at the cost of being stuck studying indoors too much, but it works for him.”
She continued in order to help John understand who she was. “I am recognized as a witch, but yes you are correct. I don’t gain power through demonic connections, nor through access to beings that have no business being part of our world. I am fey-blooded, and in my most ancient incarnations, I was the daughter of a powerful Fey Lady. Although she is apart from this world now, she has always maintained a connection to my ancestors, and ultimately me. By recognizing this fact and acknowledging her, she has opened access to fey magic, which as you may already know, is more than just charms and illusions. I wouldn’t consider myself a seer nor hedge mage because I am not some wise woman with access to visions. Nor is my magic limited in scope — I can learn the rituals of any form of magic ever written, given access to them, and already command a smattering magics that ranges from that of ancient druids to divine spells to wizardry, both ritualized and direct cast. Still, I tire quickly when I have to channel potent magic.”