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Stories : HomeA Sorceress Named Sorrow
A Sorceress Named Sorrow by Nalinor
Chapters
Introduction
The Mace
Traps
Sorrow
The Airship
When time allows, I work on a story with the main character I play, Nalinor, as the protagonist. I thought it was a good idea to collect and order them here on my guild's website while I try and come up with the next installment to his on again off again tale...
 
Chapter 1 : The Mace
The Mace

(A memory of Nalinor's)

by

SniptheShadow




Everyone crowded around the treasure chest as Nalinor worked the lock. Someone bumped him and his pick scraped the detailed etching on the gold outside of the lock. Nalinor hissed and shoved hard to get everyone back. If this thing was trapped!!

"Could I breathe while I do this, please!?"

People nodded and stepped back, and the barbarian grunted in what Nalinor took for a sloppy apology. The sorceress was all smiles and big strawberry blonde hair. She always seemed to be grinning at him, and it made Nalinor self-conscious. Her smile looked like she had a big secret and couldn't wait to tell him.

He turned back to the chest.

The lock was made in a design he wasn't familiar with but he soon figured out its workings and the satisfying *clack* sounded to all their ears. He opened the chest wide and then was knocked out of the way as his companions, all save the sorceress, went at the contents of the loot like wolves on a carcass.

The sorceress smiled down at him. Nalinor looked directly up at her and her upsidedown face made his head swim and his blood pump faster.

"You were a bit slow getting it open," she said.

Sorrow. Her name was Sorrow. Odd name for a woman so beautiful, thought Nalinor.

Nalinor looked at the treasure chest over from where he had just been crouched. The other four in the group were all heading off out of the room and either comparing their finds or arguing over ownership.

A tiny hand came into his line of vision. "Here, I'll help you up."

Nalinor took hold of her hand and his blood flow sluiced through his ears like language. She was so beautiful! She pulled him to his feet.

"I thought rogues were supposed to be nimble."

"I wasn't expecting my companions to toss me to the floor in their greed," he retorted a bit too abruptly.

"Let's see if they've left anything for us," she said and then smiled that same smile again.

"You always smile like you have a secret," he said.

Not looking back as she headed over and peered down into the depths of the chest she said, "Perhaps I do."

Nalinor said, "I'm Nalinor."

Sorrow said, "I know."

He bit down on his lip, not knowing what else to say. She pulled out four scrolls and a wand in a darkwood case. Everything disappeared into pockets hidden within her robe. Nalinor let his eyes quickly scan the curves beneath the fabric of her robe until she spoke and he felt his face redden.

"You can have what's left."

He blinked and swallowed and said, "Thank you."

He leaned over and looked into the treasure chest.

The insides were lined with a red plush velvet trimmed in gold. The only thing left inside the chest was a mace.

Wonderful, thought Nalinor.

He reached in and grabbed it by the hammer head and then pulled his hand back and stumbled away. Pain shot up his arm from his fingertips and it made him dizzy. The sensation was cold but it burned, it burned like fire.

"Here, here," said the sorceress and grabbed his hand and examined it. She bit her lip and then produced a salve from another hidden pocket and rubbed it on Nalinor's burns.

Nalinor watched her as she tended him. She smelled good! Her hair smelled of lilac and her fingers rubbing his blacked out everything else in the world; there was only her.

"My name is Sorrow," she said, not looking up.

"I know," said Nalinor.

_____

"Reach in and grab the HANDLE and not the business end this time," she said.

Nalinor lifted out the mace and held it up to the torchlight. The leather around the hilt felt nice in his hand; soft and spongy. It had tufts of white fur that jutted out near the base and the place where his thumb curved around the thing. He tested the weight and it felt heavy and perfect. The metal was made of a dull black iron and it seemed to have a grayness to it like --

"Is that frost?" he said out loud.

"It has a snowflake on the side, so I should think so," said Sorrow.

Nalinor twisted it around and saw the star branded deep into the black metal. He had never seen snow before so he would just have to take the woman's word for it.

"We should hurry and catch up to the others," said Sorrow. "Bring your new toy, Nalinor."

Nalinor watched her move off ahead and out of the room.

He hooked the mace to a loop on his belt and ran after her.

_____


The sound of screaming caused Nalinor and Sorrow to break into a sprint. The sound echoed down the corridor out from the darkness and sent shudders rippling through Nalinor.

They came around a corner to chaos.

Nalinor took in the scene:

Metal blades had erupted from the floor and spun in place like fans of death. He counted two rows of six. One had the remains of the paladin. A severed arm clenched the air not far from him, but the rest spun round and round and he screamed like a little girl. Blood drops flew out like rain in spirals from him, both arms missing and both wounds jutting his life away like a fountain.

A red-robed priest with a necklace of bones wielded magic and his hands glowed deep blue and black. Undead filled the room both in front of the blade barrier and behind. The barbarian fought shoulder to shoulder with the fighter while the cleric was unconscious on the floor. The other fighter had somehow managed to get himself trapped beyond the blade barrier and was trying to fight the horde of zombies there all alone.

The barbarian yelled, "The traps, man! The traps!"

But Nalinor was distracted.

Sorrow was trading arcane magics with the evil cleric. For every spell he tried she countered with a blast of fire this time, and a zap of lightning the next. The priest shouted something in a language that made Nalinor feel dizzy and then Sorrow wasn't moving. A blue light swiraled around her. The priest laughed.

Nalinor crouched down as an axe went wizzing by his head and he moved into the room. The men battled the things around them and the gore on the floor grew massive and slippery.

The priest was mumbling more words that made Nalinor's skin crawl. He moved around the edge of the wall away from his chanting and tried to find a control box for the traps. The paladin's screams had ceased.

The air began to open.

Nalinor blinked and couldn't believe what he was seeing. The air was ripping open in a verticle slit from...nothing. One minute he could see the fighter and barbarian engaged in battle across from him and the next the air tore wide.

An arm reached through from the other side.

It was huge in size, the skin so black it pulled in the light around it. The fingers of the giant hand ended in blood-red talons and they gripped the open air in an eagerness that made Nalinor need to pee.

Nalinor could see things beyond the rip in space.

The thing on the other side shifted and twisted and tried to come through and Nalinor could see a sea of gibbering and clawing red-eyed things moving like waves on an ocean in hell waiting to come through from the other side. The priest was doing it.

Nalinor could tell by the look on the man's face that he was working some nightmarish spell and trying to open the rift. Nalinor took a step and then spotted the trap box. He would need time to work the mechanism to shut it off. Time! No time!

He looked over his shoulder and saw his comrades standing hip-high in fallen corpses, he saw Sorrow still frozen in place with the spinning corpse of the paladin swiraling and swiraling insanely in the backdrop behind her, armless and impaled on the blade barrier.

He looked back and the priest was looking into the rift as it widened, mesmerized.

A screeching noise poured out from the rip in the air and it froze everyone in place; something was coming through. The priest laughed again.

Nalinor didn't think about his next movements, he merely acted.

Still crouched down low to the floor he slithered up as fast as he could around behind the priest. He reached down for his weapons but this time his hand grabbed the handle of the mace and not the hilt of his dagger. The mace was dangling from his belt and there would be no hissing sound drawing it from a sheathe like there would his blades, so he took hold of the mace, drew back and hit the priest in the ribs.

The priest half growled, half yelled in rage and pain and he turned around at his assailant.

Nalinor watched in fascination as the priest slowed down in his turning around to confront him. He reached out his hands at Nalinor, opened his mouth to utter a spell at him and then stopped. His eyes were open wide and full of hatred at first, a look like he wanted nothing more than to drink from Nalinor's skull later after the battle, but the look to turned terror. The eyes widened further and Nalinor saw frost travel across them.

The priest was freezing in place.

With arms outstretched, with mouth opened mid-spell he froze into a glistening white statue. He sparkled in the torchlight. His robe was a thing of beauty and his every hair was a thin wondrous strand of ice. Nalinor could even see nose hairs frozen. The eyes were orbs of frozen fear locked on Nalinor.

The priest shattered.

Nalinor involuntarily let out a shout as shards of the priest bounced off in every direction with the sound of windows being shattered by a stone.

And with his death went the horde. The zombies faded away in a black smoky mist and the rip in the air softly popped closed. They all could hear the frustrated wail from the giant thing with the taloned hand. It started just as the rip sealed over and echoed around the now empty room, save for the companions and the grinding sound of the spinning blade barrier.

Nalinor looked down at the mace in his hands.

The barbarian cheered and held his axe high overhead.

Sorrow came up and stood next to him, her small boots crunching on ice. Her last foot fall crunched the priests face into powder.

"Do you like your new toy?"

Nalinor kissed her.

"I think I do," he said.





 
Chapter 2 : Traps
Traps

A tale of DDO

by

SniptheShadow






They fought in the doorway.

Six fought against dozens.

Three faced forward into the chamber and three faced behind, back to back as the abominations came on in a shambling, groaning tide; things that formed the fabric of nightmare. They climbed over top of one another in their desperation for warm flesh. Mouths snapped in heads half rotted, taloned hands reached out in maniacal urgency, raking the open air in their plight to fill up the need for the companions deaths. Red eyes burned in destroyed faces, blood and rot dribbled over black teeth and gums crawling with maggots.

A Black Shadow appeared and screamed and flew around ten feet above the wet and bloody granite floor back behind the hoard; it commanded.

Axes and swords and staves glowing with power cut through the air and the undying fell for a second time. Where one collapsed in a spray of carnage and a growl of rage, three more replaced it, climbing over and lunging forward, while others dragged the fallen away to feed.

A man screamed.

Nalinor backed away and bumped into the stones of the threshold and looked quickly to his left. The Musician was being carried away. The undying had him, eight in all, and they ferried him off into shadows like a pack of rabid feral dogs battling over a hare. The Musician screamed again from the darkness, the sound welling up out of him from a base and primal place; fear personified. The scream built in volumn and pitch as the baritone singer and Bard screamed at first like a man and then like a child.

Suddenly the sound stopped. It died way and left the sounds of bones breaking, mouths slurping.

"Nalinor! Fight, you fool!"

Nalinor inhaled a breath like a man surfacing from a deep sea. He turned just as a zombie jumped from the backs of other hideous things around it and soared through the air toward him.

The head of a huge maul met the thing mid-air and it rebounded back in the growling mass of undead like a childs toy ball.

With no time for talk, Nalinor nodded a hurried thanks to the Barbarian next to him and fought on.

The Cleric held her hands high and shrieked a prayer to her God over the roaring noise of weapons and the moans and jibberings of the undying. Light filled the doorway, Nalinor squinted his eyes. The golden light was alive. It wiggled around in the air like luminescent tadpoles, wiggling ivy made of light, and everywhere it touched the rotting flesh of the shambling mass around them they burned.

The Zombies clawed at themselves.

The living light engulfed them and they wobbled back and fell to the wet stone floor and caught fire. The moans of the dead turned to screams of rage. The sound grew to a cocaphony of noise all at once, and then ended in a fading echo and the soft sounds of crackling embers.

The Cleric was crying.

Nalinor looked around him and then a scream from the high dome overhead paralyzed him in place. It was like his legs had become a part of the stones beneath him, and he trembled and could not breathe.

The Shadow flew down from the heights.

Nalinor could feel the hair on his arms stand tall and magic energy filled the air around him; he was blinded by it. There was a rush of bad air across him and he gagged, the smell of something long dead and putrid. Then a feeling so terrible, so saturated with despair rippled through him and he feared he'd never lift his head again in honor and pride as it assailed his heart.

He sat down on the blood-wet stones.

He lowered his head.

He dropped his short sword from his right hand and his dagger from the left.

"No you don't!" said the Cleric, but to Nalinor's ears her voice came as if from down a long tunnel.

She touched his sweat-soaked head of black hair, and the feeling went away. Like a moth in the trees, the feeling of woe just flew away from him.

"Stand up!" commanded the Cleric.

And Nalinor stood.

_____



The others were walking forward. He gazed around the room.

It was a round space about four hundred feet across. Alcoves lined the heights high above, and an Altar dominated the center of the circular room. It was a place of sacrifice.

Nalinor glanced at Erelei and his heart broke.

The Musician was her man.

She wandered over in the corner where he had fallen and stood still and silent. There was no resurrecting what was left of Tallous. He was beyond that, and so Erelei stood still and tears cut rivulets in the gore that had splattered her face and neck. Nalinor wanted to reach out a hand and squeeze her shoulder, maybe say...something, but what.

He instead turned to seek out his own lover.

Sorrow.

Her name was Sorrow. She was a Sorceress and was his salvation from all that was terrible in the world. To think what Erelei must be feeling stole his breath and he tuned to find Sorrow and make sure she had survived this nightmare intact.

Mythaniel did what Nalinor could not. He strode forward and grabbed up Erelei in his arms. The Barbarian loomed over her, and as he pulled her close, she seemed to vanish in his wide armored chest. Nalinor heard her sobs in the palatial room. They all did.

The Fighter finally broke the silence.

"We need to get out of here! This room is cursed. Can't any of you tell!? It is sapping our resolve, draining our hopes and killing our very vibrancy and lifeforce! I can feel it like a sickness in the air!"

Mythaniel looked daggers at the man overtop of Erelei's head, of all the times to speak! But Erelei pulled away, patted Mythaniel on his wide arm and said, "He's right. We still have to find the Orb. We still have a job to do."

Nalinor blinked and felt a rush of awe at her determination and focus. If he were in her position...

Sorrow spoke up and Nalinor jerked at the sound of her low and sultry voice. Her voice could paralyze him in a different way, and he sought her out.

"I think I see a compartment in the Altar here," she stated. "Perhaps the Orb is hidden within."

Nalinor trailed her movements as she moved quickly forward toward the Altar.

The Altar was made of a dull black stone. Blood covered its surface and the skulls of many creatures lined the sides of the thing. Carved into the stone itself were two taloned hands holding onto an orb with a spiral carved into its center. Nalinor could see that the spiral was a serpent with the head of a woman, her fanged mouth opened wide in a silent snarl. Dull light burned a swamp-gas green from the two torches placed at each end of the stone table.

Nalinor watched as Sorrow confidently approached the sacrificial Altar. His eyes trailed her footfalls, taking in the curves of her body as he looked up at her walking away. Her hair was long and full and swayed as she walked. It was a wondrous red-blonde in color and seemed to glow in the murky shadows of the chamber; the color so intense in the gloom it was like brass set to burning.

A stone in the floor next to her left foot caused him to jerk his head down.

It looked wrong.

The stones in the floor of the place made a discernable pattern, but the stone across the way by Sorrow's last foot fall looked smaller and jutted up just slightly higher than the others. And then he could see the stone give, vibrate.

Nalinor ran forward.

Everything slowed. The air was made of thick tar, his feet were sucked down by invisible mud; why couldn't he move faster!!? He opened his mouth and screamed, the sound was from a far away place and sounded to his ears like the plea of another man:

"SORROW!!!"

Her small foot stepped down on the loose stone counterweight hidden in the floor. Bright green mist blasted out from the surface of the Altar from four hidden holes. Sorrow stumbled back like a drunkard moving down stairs backwards and slowly turned towards the group.

Her face was gone.

"NOOOOO!!!" Nalinor yelled as he ran toward her.

The floor exploded.

Nalinor was falling.

Sorrow was falling.

Erelei and Mythaniel and the Fighter -- falling.

Nalinor tucked his legs in as he and granite boulders plummeted.

Below them all were reaching taloned hands and a collective growl of anticipation that grew louder and they fell ever downwards.

GRRRRRROOOOOOOOWAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

And the rotting arms reached high.
_____



He screamed himself awake.

He could still see Sorrow's beauty vanish behind green mist, he could still smell rot as three dozen undead hands reached for him, he could still hear the cry of his comrades as they fell into darkness.

Nalinor vomited.

His body rocked and quaked as he purged and sobbed simultaneously in his anguish.

A warm hand placed a wet cloth across his forehead, held it there as she cradled his head.

He was on the floor beside a strange bed.

"This isn't the Phoenix Inn. This isn't my room."

Erelei smiled a sad smile down at him.

"You're in a Healing Ward at House Jorasco."

"House J?" he stood.

"We moved you here. Don't you remember? You went into a frenzy and destroyed your room at the Phoenix," said Erelei. Then she reached in her tunic and took out a bottle of dull gray liquid and wiggled it at Nalinor.

"That's mine," he said and looked away.

"This may explain things."

"It helps me sleep. It's the only thing that does."

"Where did you get it?"

Nalinor smiled. "From a Halfling of House Jorasco, actually," he looked away. "Of course he is an outcast from his House, but..."

"But!? But!? Perhaps this filth is why you went insane and tore your room to pieces?"

Still not meeting her gaze Nalinor said, "It helps me sleep."

"I should think so! It has been three days."

Nalinor jerked his head around and finally met her gaze.

Erelei had tears in her eyes.

"You're not the only one hurting, Nal. But we have to go on."

Nalinor said, "Maybe I don't want to anymore."

"You don't mean that, man," said a man in the doorway.

Nalinor met Mythaniel's gaze. "I don't know what I want, Myth."

"She would want you to fight on," said Erelei. "I know Tallous wouldn't want me to quit."

"Fight in honor of her memory, Nalinor," said Mythaniel.

"We have to go back...and we need you," said Erelei.

Nalinor reached out for the vial of gray liquid and took it from Erelei's hand.

"You can't always dwell on Sorrow," said the Barbarian.

The irony of her name was not lost on any of them as they stood there thinking their thoughts on the chamber, and Erelei eyes met and they looked at one another a long, long time in silence and understanding.

All in one motion Nalinor smashed the vial of liquid against the wall.

"For those we've lost," he said and held out his hand.

Mythaniel reached and put his massive hand atop his Nalinor's. "For the fallen."

Erelei said, "For love," and placed her hand over top Mythaniel's and squeezed.

Nalinor very softly whispered, feeling the weight of his friends hands holding onto his own,

"For Sorrow."




 
Chapter 3 : Sorrow
Sorrow

A Tale of DDO

by

SniptheShadow






Nalinor couldn't take it anymore.

In one motion he rammed his dagger into the table top between them, reached and grabbed the halfling by the shirt and yanked him forward across the surface, pulling the little man's blue tattooed face close to the blade of the dagger. The grey-eyed halfling tried to pull his face away, tried to keep the razor sharp metal from touching his sweaty cheek. Nalinor ripped the blade loose from the polished wood and brought the point close to the halfling's eye.

"No, no, no! I have more! I have more, I swear," pleaded the d'Jorasco potion master.

"Then give me what I want! I have coin," said Nalinor. He gritted his teeth, cocked his head to the side as he glared into the halfling's face. Nalinor gently brushed the halfling's light brown bangs off his forehead with the dagger, parting the hair just so, for effect.

It worked.

The halfling, his hand searching and pawing behind him, dragged the open box of his wares over to him from the edge of the table and the contents inside the box spilled.

Tiny vials of colored liquid went rolling across the table around his prone form, many falling to the floor of the Inn and rolling under other tables nearby.

Nalinor released the halfling with a shove.

The halfling fell back into his chair and the chair tipped. He fell to the floor next to his bottles.

Nalinor examined the remaining vials on the table, ones that had not fallen. He picked out twelve.

Six had green liquid that sparkled with gold flakes. He lifted one and watched the lamplight inside the Inn reflect off the specks that swiraled inside the glass, moving like dust motes trapped in syrup. The other six vials contained a red liquid the color of blood.

"You take too much, rogue," said the halfling potion master. "I did not refuse you outright. Your money is good with our house, but some of these are to be used only out of necessity. They are not candies and cakes in some baker's window, man. You drink them too much!"

"Pah," said Nalinor. He waved away the potion master's words like they were pestering gnats. "I'm my own man and I know what I can and cannot do."

The halfling mustered his courage. "I wash my hands of you," he said. "See a cleric when things get too much to bear, when your hands won't stop shaking and sleep will not come. I won't do business with you again."

The halfling gathered the remainder of his potions off the floor, placed them in haphazard order down in his wooden box and closed the lid. He patted his hair back in place and then briskly walked out of the Inn.

Nalinor did not look up and watch him go.

He had eyes only for the bottles on the table placed before him.


______



Two years had gone by since the tragedy at the crypt. Two years had come and gone and his guilt at what had happened had grown and festered, turned into a living thing inside him.

He remembered her face.

He remembered her strawberry blonde hair and the way she smiled, her lips turning up at the side like she always had a secret.

Her name was Sorrow and she had been the love of his life.

He knew that now.

But fate and his inept skills had ruined everything.

He had seen the trap box too late.

She was already reaching, reaching, leaning forward toward the treasure chest and the world slowed.

He screamed her name and leaped toward the tomb, toward the trap box, toward her -- "Sorrow!!!" and then, as she turned, the little playful smirk of hers on her lips, a blast of green acid from the trap took her face away.

"Nooooo!!!"


______



Nalinor shook the thought from his mind, tried to focus on the task at hand.

He had a job to do.

He followed a man of the Silver Flame.

He had already forgotten the man's name. It was just another job to Nalinor. The man had been sending new arrivals to the city out to bust up gambling groups here and there, and the one's over the gambling in the city had grown tired of the lost revenue.

It was business.

The man stopped and was talking with a group of women. He moved his hands a lot as he talked, and he continually touched one woman on the shoulder as he preached. The three women looked up adoringly at him and then finally they went on their way with promises of making it to evening prayers.

Nalinor stepped out from around the wall he had been leaning against and continued to follow.

The priest stopped again.

A group of Warforged went rumbling by, greatswords crossed on their backs, and one with a warhammer swinging from his hip, a tall hip that stood even with Nalinor's chest. They moved past like walking trees in armor. Nalinor thought he knew one that went by named Nineteen, but they moved so quickly it was hard to say for sure.

Nalinor looked all around, saw no one and then drew his blades.

The priest of the Silver Flame passed a fountain and cut left in between two tall, crumbling tenement buildings.

Nalinor ran up and thrust one blade into his kidney and rammed the other into the man's throat from the side, destroying the larynx and severing the windpipe. The Silver Flame priest collapsed in a silent pile of robes and blood at Nalinor's feet.

The weight of the dead man pulled both Nalinor's blades free with a wet, sluicing hiss.

Nalinor leaned down and cleaned off his weapons on the mark's clothes, and a woman behind him screamed, "MURDERER!!! HELP! HELP!"

Nalinor ran.

He cut left and then right.

He jumped across dividing walls and climbed a ladder to scale roofs. He ran and ran, and five blocks away he jumped down to the street, and when he turned around to get his bearings, seven Paladins of the Silver Flame stood not five feet from him.

They looked down at Nalinor's hands and at his leather armor.

Nalinor did, too.

His hands dripped with fresh blood and his stomach and chest were stained red.

"He's the one!" a Paladin said. "Stop! Stop right now!"

Again Nalinor ran.

Down one alley and then another.

He remembered the vials he'd taken earlier from the halfling potion master. While running, he took out one of the vials of green liquid. The green liquid looked thick and flecks of gold within caught the sunlight overhead as he fumbled with it between his fingers trying to unplug the bottle.

Nalinor downed the contents and tossed the vial as he ran.

He could suddenly feel his pulse beating hard behind his eyes, feel his blood blasting down his arms and into his legs and feet, feel fingers and toes tingle. He gritted his teeth and tried to laugh, but all he could do was stutter from the sensation.

And then the rush hit him.

Suddenly he was running faster and faster and faster.

Buildings went by in a blur.

His feet tap-tapped over the surface of stones, barely making contact with the road as he ran. He managed to open his mouth to finally let out a laugh, but the speed of his running, the incredible boost to his movements, pealed back his lips and puffed out his cheeks from the force of wind. His hair stood out straight behind him and his watering eyes made it hard to see as he moved like an arrow through Stormreach.

A hammer struck his shoulder.

He fell.

Nalinor's heightened momentum sent him sailing over a dividing wall after the weapon hit him, and he slid across pavement for thirty feet, scraping down his side from hip to heel.

He stood up shakily and saw his leathers were torn, his shoulder bleeding.

Four Paladins ran up with longswords drawn and smiles on their faces.

Nalinor hurried and drank another potion from inside his pocket - this time a red one.

The green liquid from the first vial caused his heart to pump faster, but the red liquid caused it to explode.

Nalinor felt a rush so strong erupt inside him, felt such a powerful urge to fight that he blacked out everything else but the anger. All he could do was give in to the potion's power. He felt like he had turned red from the intensity of it.

"AHHHHHHHH!!!!" yelled Nalinor.

And then he ran forward, swords drawn.


______



Three Paladins were dead behind him and the forth was calling for aid when Nalinor fled for a third time that day.

He drank another green potion, and the Marketplace blurred around him.

He ran through streets and past vendors. He ran over rooftops and jumped from ladders. He ran until he couldn't anymore, and then he took another potion and ran more.

Finally the pain and fatigue in his legs caused him to trip and fall.

The potion had worn off again, so he reached for another.

There were no more green vials in his pocket, only one last bottle filled with blood red liquid.

Nalinor fell back, flopped over on the filthy, cracked stones of the alleyway and held his last potion in trembling hands, hands covered in dried blood and matted gore from the men he had killed.

His woman Sorrow was gone, dead because of him.

The trap...he hadn't seen it in time. If he'd only done his job.

Her screams filled his mind, echoed like they had within the crypt that day, the day he failed her.

Again and again.

Two years gone by.

Acid traps and lost love.

A beautiful face gone in a splash of green mist.

It was his fault she died.

There was nothing else now but the next job, the next bag of coin, the next bottle of haste and rage.

"I miss you so much, Sorrow."

Nalinor cried.

And then he popped the cork on his last potion, wallowing on his back in the littered, filthy alley, gazing up at white clouds, blue sky.

Sorrow died.

He drank deep.

"AHHHHHHH!!!!!"

 
Chapter 4 : The Airship
The Airship

a tale of DDO

by

SniptheShadow







Nalinor lied.

He he had been sincere when he had smashed the vial of grey liquid against the wall, the one he had purchased from the halfling outcast at the healing ward in House Jerasco. He had been sincere when he took hold of Erelei and Mythaniel's hand in a show of friendship and deterimination to right the wrongs that had transpired in the chamber. He had been sincere in his desire to fight on.

But Sorrow's death had happened because of him.

Sorrow was dead.

If only he had searched the chamber for traps like he was supposed to do! If only he had kept a cool head after the battle and done his job as a rogue and not been distracted by the horrific events that had occurred. He was a veteran of battle, he had witnessed and been a part of strife, he had seen horrors beyond count, why did he lose focus? He had broken the tenets of his own family of rogues. He had forgotten his place and lost his lover because of it. His sires should spit on him. He didn't deserve the title of rogue.

Sorrow was dead because of him.

_____


Nalinor wandered the alleyways.

He moved out to the Harbor and past the Docks, by the warehouses and tenements and he found the hidden alley. He snaked his way round and round and found the small structure back behind a trash heap. It was no more than a shack, and he pulled open a trap door and went down, down, down into darkness.

A half-elven male guarded the entryway.

Axeface was his name.

The man had taken an axe to the face long ago, and never had received proper healing. Nalinor saw where the blade had cut deep at the left side of the half-elf's nose, and the wound had caved in his face, splitting both upper and lower lips completely. Now the man had four lips - two upper and two lower, and he slurred his words when he talked.

"Thirty gold for me and thirty gold for the missus, scum," said Axeface.

With his slurred speech it came out sounding more like sirty gold for me and sirty gold for the sissus.

Nalinor wiped the saliva off his face and said, "Who would bed the likes of you?"

The half-elf puffed up his scrawny chest and said, "Pay up or find your bliss elsewhere, pickpocket!"

Nalinor paid and shoved past the guard and moved inside.

The wide cavern was bowl-shaped and dark. Nalinor waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. A few candles burned off in dark corners here and there, but most illumination came from the infrequent eruptions of dull orange pinpoints as the dreamlily users burned their bliss off in shadows. A man moaned and rolled over; another half-elf, Nalinor noticed. A woman giggled. Something smelled dead in the cave.

Nalinor found a vacant pallet and stretched out.

Sorrow was dead.

He leaned back on the rotten wood, the pallet smelling of vomit and urine, the burning dreamlily smelling of sage and sulfur. He leaned back and closed his eyes in darkness.

_____


He dreamed a dreamlily dream:

He made love with Sorrow high in the air.

She had cast a levitate spell on the two of them, and with bodies pretzeled together, they embraced eight feet above the bed floating on air. Slowly they rolled in circles above the bed as they coupled. Sorrow's strawberry blond riot of hair first dangled toward the floor, and then, with another slow rotation, it would drape over Nalinor's face in turn as they kissed.

In the height of their love, they floated toward the open window in Nalinor's room at the Phoenix Inn, and giggling, Sorrow caught the stone edge of the window and pushed off and sent them back to bounce off the far wall. Nalinor bit his lip from the impact of bumping the wall but laughed as Sorrow tried to kiss away the pain.

Things melded, shifted...

Sorrow was surrounded by children.

Her and Nalinor had rushed down to the Harbor to see a ship in from Sharn.

A merchant was selling rock candy and Sorrow bought a bag for the two of them. Instantly she had been rushed by children begging for the treats. She laughed and spun round trying to hand out all her purchases to the little ones. The sunlight reflected off the water onto her, and with her dusky skin and strawberry-blonde hair it made her look like she was cast in living gold. But what Sorrow didn't know was the children were freeing her of all her possessions as they picked her pockets clean. Nalinor had done the same at that age in Sharn.

Finally he could take it no longer and he clapped his hands together and declared, "Enough!" But instead of the pickpockets freezing in place from fear of his authority, they scampered away in all directions. The look he received from Sorrow could've melted glass, and Nalinor laughed and laughed.

Things melded, shifted...

He was at a celebration.

Sorrow was across from him at a large round table. Erelei was sitting at the table with her man the Bard. Mythaniel was there with a woman, and the table was filled with friends from every corner of Stormreach. All plopped treasure on the table in piles, and all drank ale and wine. Nalinor spotted a tiara in the mound he knew would look incredible in Sorrow's hair. It was a delicate thing, small with an emerald set at the crown.

He reached for it to give to her.

Sorrow called for more wine and then took the bottle and twisted the cork. It popped loudly and the wine sprayed out.

It was the color green.

And the green mist sprayed up in her face and turned it into a crimson nightmare.

Nalinor screamed, "Nooooooo!"

And then pain! Pain inside his heart and outside his chest...his air was gone....stabbing pain..."Ow!"

_____


Pain again and he tried to roll away from it, tried to put his hands up and--

"Up you! Get up, precious!" and another kick sent Nalinor scampering backwards away from the pain.

"Wha--"

"Get up! Run! The city watch is on the way and they're bringing those Silver Flame crazies with em. We need to go!" said a one-eyed dwarf missing his front teeth. He kicked Nalinor again.

Nalinor jumped up swung at the dwarf and missed. He fell forward onto the cavern floor.

"Find specimen you are," said one-eye and he kicked Nalinor in the bum and ran off.

Nalinor stood up and felt the room spiral around him. He blinked and tried to remember...something about a party? Sorrow on the Docks by a ship?...it was all fading.

With people stumbling all around him, Nalinor ran up and out into the light.

_____


He stopped and threw up behind the Wayward Lobster.

The sunlight was a demon that sent daggers into his brain and burned his eyes. His head was a beating drum and each pulse of his heart sent tendrils of hell moving through his head.

Two elven maids out for a stroll saw him leaning against the wall. He nodded hello, but the two quickly diverted their eyes and hurried on their way.

Nalinor laughed.

Nalinor fell and bashed his face on hard stone in the alley behind the Lobster.

He rolled over and put his arm across his eyes from the hellish sun above. The sky was a forever blue, and way up high Nalinor saw an airship slowly traveling across the heavens. It looked no larger than a copper piece so high up and far away.

Nalinor watched it go.

Far away...

I have to get out of Stormreach, thought Nalinor.

Everything reminded him of Sorrow: the Phoenix Inn, the Harbor...even his friends and their pitying stares...all of it only made his pain worse. He knew if he stayed it would only be a matter of time before he'd be visiting Axeface or some other just like him. It woulod only be a matter of time before he was after more potions or dreamlily.

"I need to go away," he said, and shakily got to his feet.

_____


He was two days out and he finally realized where he had seen the half-elf Lantoshar d'Lyrander before.

He had been the half-elf in the dreamlily den the day it got raided. Not surprising. The man looked like what a weasel would look like in man form. He reminded Nalinor of nothing more than any small time crime lord he'd dealt with back in Sharn. And the man had his very own airship. Of course that was probably because of the family name and dragonmark.

The airship was called the Swordfish, and there were two dragonmarked on board the vessel.

Colnoron d'Cannith was a pig.

For two days he had been eating. He always carried a tray of food with him wherever he went, and when he barked out orders, he spit food on the ones he was ordering about. With food down his front and a permanently greasy chin, the man seemed to only care for one thing: food.

Nalinor had dealt with enough dragonmarked in his time both in Stormreach and back in Sharn, and his opinion was the "marked" were simply easier to identify. The dragonmarked merely had their corruption branded into their skin like an advertisement, and these two men were no different.

From what Nalinor knew, the two houses had an easy alliance, and there were always two representatives on board an airship.

But that was not the case with these two men.

The animosity between the two toward one another came off them in waves. A wizard and an artificer. A dreamlily addict and a fat man. Nalinor knew he was being a hypocrite as he watched his own hands tremble in the sun, but he didn't like the looks of the d'Lyrander. Nalinor clenched his fists and tried to forget about wanting to forget. He looked around.

The passengers numbered a little over thirty, and the diversity on board the Swordfish made Nalinor feel at ease. It was like being in a small piece of Sharn, and it made him smile. There were humans and elves and halflings and dwarves on board. There were ogres and kobalds, a minotaur...even two warforged , both standing silently in the same spot and unmoving for two days. Fascinating, thought Nalinor.

And then he saw someone moving in between the benches he had not seen prior. The individual had a glamour cast over them, but Nalinor could see such things from his rogue training. The individual was small and quick...a female...an assassin by her movements.

She was creeping up toward the helm of the ship.

Nalinor didn't give it much thought. Who would kill so blatantly on an airship in front of thirty witnesses in broad daylight? She was probably just a pickpocket, but he watched her anyway.

The two "marked" went about the business of running the Swordfish. Lantoshar d'Lyrander ran his hands over the box of dragonshard crystals imbedded in the helm, while Colnoron d'Cannith wandered about checking controls and valves and other small mechanical devices.

The Swordfish was built to look just like one -- a giant Swordfish, all the way down to the outrageously long prow that ended in a gold plated point. A great invisible tube completely encircled the ship. Nalinor could see a rush of constant wind or something like it trapped inside. Odd, he thought, that no wind blew across the deck so high above the ground. Something to do with the Lyrander powers, he guessed.

The woman moved up the steps to the helm.

Nalinor turned back and watched her move around behind the two men, and both were completely unaware.

All in one motion the masked woman darted up behind Lantoshar d'Lyrander, yanked his head back by his blond ponytail and slit his throat. His life sprayed out across the dragonshard control panel and he fell sideways, twitching on the wooden deck. The assassin took a shard from inside her vest and rammed it in among the others. She ran to the edge railing and jumped off the side of the Swordfish into open air.

Everyone started screaming.

Colnoron d'Cannith screamed a high pitched wail and waddled over to the steps and started to move down toward his passengers.

Nalinor felt a tremor ripple through the airship beneath his seat.

Eveyone jumped up and began to run in all directions. A cacophonous explosion dropped him to his knees on the deck. The invisible tube with the circling air exploded overhead. Nalinor watched a small tornado form on the deck of the Swordfish. Wood began to groan, and splinters broke free around it with the sounds of loud popping and groans from bending wood. Nalinor could see a man-shape inside the swiraling air -- an Air Elemental!

It turned and saw Colnoron d'Cannith at the helm. Colnoron shrieked again and dropped his tray of food. The air elemental roared in anger and the sound froze everyone in place. The roar was loud and long, frightening enough to shame a dragon. It moved in a blur toward the dragonmarked fat man.

Colnoron backed away and pleaded, "No,no, no, no, no!" He fell back on his butt.

Nalinor watched in fascination as the man-shape inside the swiraling wind held its arms high over head. The wind spun faster around it. Wood behind Nalinor began to scream and shatter and break free with the sound of cracking thunder. All the benches on the deck of the Swordfish were ripping free and smacking together like playing cards being shuffled. Then the benches shattered into a million wooden shards and splinters and the debris swiraled high into the sky and formed a pitch-black maelstrom of doom above them all.

Colnoron d'Cannith pulled himself to his feet and stumbled backwards as he looked high overhead at the twisting mass, and then he looked at the air elemental.

Nalinor saw the man-shape deep within the blackness point toward d'Cannith with every finger on both hands. It bellowed its anger at the man.

Colnoron d'Cannith threw his arms up in front of his face and yelled, "NOOOO! AHHHH--" a piece of stringy, Tasty Ham stuck in his teeth. The black cloud of splinters blasted forward from the air elemetal's command, and Colnoron d'Cannith vanished in a blast of crimson gore.

The air elemental turned around.

The passengers started climbing over one another to get away. The air elemental growled and leaped into the air, and when it landed on the deck of the Swordfish, the ship broke in two with the sound of a thunder clap.

Nalinor was falling.

The ground below was a vast patchwork quilt and it rushed up to meet him, and all around him passengers fell like rain.

The Ring of Feathers!

An old gift from Sorrow, but did he even have it in his pouch?

Nalinor spun round and round in the air, falling and tried to ram his hand down in his pouch of thieves tools to see if the ring was within. The ground was getting closer, the wind turning his sight to icy tears, bluring everything. The air burned in its intensity; gravity winning.

Nalinor felt the familiar shape of the magic ring and pushed his finger through its circle.

He rubberbanded.

But it was not soon enough and the terrible crunch he heard was his own body.


_____


He awoke to the sound of men talking.

Everything was blurry. Slowly his vision cleared, and he saw six men standing in a semi-circle around him. The lower portion of their faces were covered in black masks; only the eyes showing. Each wore a scimitar on his hip and a dagger next to it. One man also had a bow strung over a shoulder. The ceiling above them was made of cloth.

A short woman pushed through and came up to him.

Her hair was as black as endless night and it was done in numerous thin braids with small bells attached. She tinkled softly as she moved. Her eyes were as black as her hair. There was a familiar itch in the back of Nalinor's mind with regard to her size and how she moved...the assassin! She had been the one on the Swordfish!

It all came rushing back into Nalinor's mind and he scooted up to a sitting position: the airship, the two dragonmarked men and the freed air elemental, falling...all of it rushed back in.

He looked at the woman standing before him. She handed him a copper mug filled with water. He drank. The water was icy heaven going down his throat and spreading behind his ribs.

"What is this place?" he asked and held out the mug for more water.

"You are near Zawabi's Refuge, but not near," said the woman, her braids tinkling like wind chimes.

"Near and not near? I see," said Nalinor.

"You do not," said the woman. She stood and moved over to a table and picked up something from its surface.

"Thank you for saving me, but-- "

"Yes, we saved you from the sands." She walked back over to where he sat. The men all stepped back. She cradled something cupped in between her two hands and held them out to Nalinor. "But we saved you for a purpose."

She opened her hands like a flower peeling back, and in her palms was a small tiara. It was made of platinum and gold and had an emerald set in the crown.

It was Sorrow's tiara.

Nalinor looked up at the woman.

She tilted her head to the side with the sound of soft bells and her eyes sparkled like black stars.

"Your Sorrow still breathes," she said.



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