Lightsword Saga -- Updated Again!

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Name: Julen
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Lightsword Saga -- Updated Again!

Post by Julen » Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:37 am

Some of this is covered in Julen’s character sheet, and some of it is discussed in The Tattler, but I’m including it all here for the sake of having a comprehensive reference. I've tried to be fair to everyone involved, but the content probably focuses a little more on Julen than the other characters because...well, because I play Julen. Railtus/Aorle and Uluki can write their own summaries. :P

Once upon a time...


Julen grew up in Shim, as his father had done, and his father’s father before him. It’s a life that he deeply loves. However, soon after marrying the local beauty (Rosemary), a suspiciously long streak of bad luck forces Julen to leave his farm and wife behind. Reluctantly, he comes to Marn seeking work.

Musical Illusions

Julen, who possesses a very pleasant tenor, has gotten a job performing at a local tavern. Unfortunately, he concentrates so fiercely on his song that he awakens his latent magical ability. Unaware of what he’s doing, Julen accidentally creates an illusion related to what he’s singing about, which freaks out most of the tavern patrons -- except for half-elf, Aranel, who has come to Marn in search of answers about her father’s murder. She aids Julen, pretending to arrest him in order to get him safely out of the tavern. In gratitude, he offers to let her stay with him in the room he’s renting at a local bakery.

Once they are safely inside Julen’s room, Aranel asks Julen about his magical ability. Julen, who apparently never learns, sings another song to demonstrate it for her. This time, he creates the illusion of an angelic being, which appears to Railtus Anstrun as he passes by the bakery. The aspiring paladin is so moved by what he takes to be a sign from heaven that he investigates, discovering Julen and Aranel.

Julen and Railtus talk. It turns out that after embarrassing his father (by battering a guard captain unconscious when the captain tried to rape a girl) Railtus has been sent to stay with some distant relatives in Marn. Interestingly, Julen knows one of those relatives -- Phelan Anstrun, who Julen encountered when Phelan was courting Rosemary.

Seeing that Julen is in a desperate position, Railtus hires him. Julen’s first task will be to take Railtus to House Anstrun in the morning. Since it’s gotten quite late, Julen invites Railtus to spend the night in his room, and the two men fall asleep.

The next morning, Aranel is gone. This concerns both Julen and Railtus. But since there don’t seem to be any signs of foul play, they assume she’s gone off on her own. Hoping that she may still return, they ask the bakery’s owner to keep an eye out for her, and set off for House Anstrun.

Family Affairs

Julen and Railtus arrive at House Anstrun, which is a fittingly impressive abode for the very successful merchant family. Upon entering, they are greeted by Lady Mavelle Anstrun.

For more about Mavelle, read her NPC profile:

Mavelle informs the two men that her father, Lord Kendall, is busy, but she will do her best to entertain Railtus until her father can receive him. At Railtus’s request, she takes Julen to the kitchen and instructs the cooks to provide him with lunch. Then she and Railtus stroll around, talking. Mavelle quickly becomes captivated by the handsome young warrior, while Railtus is charmed by her sweet nature, and when the two of them reach the rose garden, a kiss ensues.

Meanwhile, Phelan Anstrun has entered the kitchen in order to pursue the kitchen wench he’s currently seducing. However, when he sees Julen, his thoughts quickly turn to revenge. (Although Julen doesn’t know it, Phelan is the one who has been causing trouble at the farm, driven by spite because Rosemary chose Julen over him.) Hoping to provoke Julen into a fight the farmer will definitely lose, Phelan begins to insult him. At first, Julen submits to the verbal assault, but when Phelan calls Rosemary a strumpet, Julen responds with some biting comments about Phelan. Phelan then tries to grab the locket Julen wears around his throat (which contains a lock of Rosemary’s hair). As the two struggle, the locket breaks, and that proves to be the final straw. Losing his control, Julen punches Phelan.

By now, Railtus has concluded his meeting with Lord Kendall. He and Mavelle are now in his room, where more kissing and snuggling takes place, and Railtus vows to officially court Mavelle once he achieves knighthood. Then a servant arrives, with news of what’s happening in the kitchen. Rushing to his friend’s aid, Railtus finds Phelan about to beat Julen with a horse rod. Railtus throws himself between the two men, challenges Phelan to a duel (a challenge which Phelan does not accept), and threatens to break Phelan’s arm if he raises it against Julen. Moved by this threat, and by the pleading of his sister, Phelan backs down, allowing Julen and Railtus to depart.

As they leave, Railtus and Julen encounter Varanghar, House Anstrun’s champion, who has heard about the altercation in the kitchen. Although the giant warrior seems to sympathize with Julen, he still forbids him to ever return.

For more about Varanghar, read his NPC profile:

Further Steps

After leaving House Anstrun, Railtus and Julen visit the Fighter’s Guild, where they pick up some wooden training weapons. Then they return to the bakery to see if there has been any sign of Aranel. There hasn’t been. In a scene involving Effie (the bakery’s owner) and her two apprentices, Julen learns that one of the young girls has never seen a frog. Impulsively, he promises to bring one back from Shim for her.

Railtus asks Julen to suggest a place for them to train. At first, Julen recommends the woods between Marn and Shim, but Railtus decides against this option because he fears attracting the dark creatures which dwell there. Julen then suggests the historic ruins. Their journey to that spot takes them through the shanty town, where they are approached by a scrawny and sickly prostitute. Taking pity on the girl, Railtus heals a blister on her lip, and gives her one of his rings.

On Blighted Ground

Julen and Railtus arrive at the historic ruins, but Railtus quickly rejects the site because of the evil he senses emanating from it. Undaunted, the two men set off for the industrial district.

New Arrival

Julen and Railtus are finally getting some training done when a strange object appears in the sky. Although Julen initially mistakes it for a dragon, the thing turns out to be a blimp, piloted by a gnome named Finner. Finner lands his airship in the same abandoned field the two men are using for their practice. Finner’s apprentice, Ramas, has been badly hurt in an explosion, and Finner is seeking help for him. Of course, Railtus volunteers.

Ramas, who turns out to be a human boy, is badly burned, and attempting to heal him drains Railtus past the point of collapse. While Railtus recovers, Julen does what he can for the patient. Although Railtus’s efforts have helped, the boy is still injured and in pain, driving Julen to take an unexpected risk. Hoping to distract Ramas from his misery, Julen sings a children’s song his mother taught him. He also deliberately creates illusions to accompany the song. This succeeds in comforting the boy, but Finner returns in time to see him do it. Fortunately, the gnome is not upset by Julen’s use of magic, and even offers to take Julen and Rosemary someplace where Julen’s talent would be accepted. The prospect tempts Julen. But ultimately, he realizes that leaving would mean breaking his vow to Railtus, and he refuses to do that.

After Railtus recovers, he reminds Finner that Ramas will need repeated healing in order to survive. Then he and Julen resume their training, before finally heading home for the night. When they reach Julen’s room at the bakery, a note and a cookie are awaiting Railtus, both from Andreya (the apprentice who’s never seen a frog), making it clear that she’s developed a bit of crush on him.

The next morning, when both men return to the field, they find that the blimp has departed. Afraid that his use of magic scared the gnome away, Julen succumbs to a rare moment of frustration. He throws down his spear. At which point, Railtus scolds him for his self-pity, and seizes his wrist. Unaccustomed to being grabbed without permission, Julen loses his temper, and the two man whack each other with training weapons until Julen eventually comes to terms with the fact he now serves another.

That night, Railtus dines at House Anstrun. After Phelan makes the meal as unpleasant as possible by continually insulting Railtus, Railtus leaves the table and goes to his room, where he discovers Mavelle waiting for him. The two take a stroll through the darkened hallways of House Anstrun, talking about their future. Mavelle no longer feels satisfied with the role she was raised for (to be married off for political reasons), and she’s beginning to glimpse the truth about her family (especially Phelan), but she’s still unready to truly break free.

Unexpected Homecomings

After a week of training, Julen and Railtus journey to Shim so Julen can finally spend some time with his wife. However, when they get there, they find the small village overrun with mercenaries.

The mercenaries are there because of another plotline, A Gathering Of Forces, which involves an emerging troll nation hiring mercenaries to protect them from a group of knights. For more about this plotline, read:

When Julen hears that the mercenaries have been bullying Shim’s residents, taking room and board without giving any compensation, Julen realizes what a vulnerable position his wife is in. Fearing the worst, he and Railtus rush to Julen’s farm. Where, in fact, Rosemary is being harassed by a mercenary. Julen and Railtus confront the mercenary. Proving himself in his first real fight, Julen helps Railtus kill the mercenary, and then enjoys a happy reunion with his wife.

While talking with Rosemary, Julen and Railtus learn that the mercenary owned an impressive but mistreated war horse, and the newly liberated mount is now in Julen’s stables. Railtus proceeds to befriend the skittish beast (which he will later name Arjen), but he gets badly kicked in the process. Although the injury is still bothering him, Railtus helps Julen bury the mercenary under Julen’s compost heap, and then leaves to visit the village blacksmith, Orin. As with most of the local tradesmen, Orin is being pressured to serve the mercenaries for free. However, after Railtus heals Orin, and stands up to a mercenary trying to intimidate him, the blacksmith agrees to give priority to mending Railtus’s new sword.

Railtus returns back to the farm just in time for lunch. During the meal, Rosemary gets a bit tipsy on wine and asks Julen to sing, as he did on their wedding day. Since he has not yet told his wife about his magic, Julen refuses. And, when Rosemary insists, he snaps at her before fleeing from the room. Railtus goes after him. As the two men talk, Julen realizes that concealing his magic puts Rosemary in danger, since any arising suspicions might cause her to be taken in for questioning. Unwilling to risk causing his wife imprisonment and torture, Julen resolves to inform the authorities of his power. However, Railtus suggests that it might be wise to wait until they’ve brought the mercenaries under control, because doing so would win Julen popular support among Shim’s residents, which in turn might cause the Judges to be more lenient with him. Julen agrees.

Julen apologizes to Rosemary, although he still doesn’t tell her about his magic, and then sets off in search of a frog. Meanwhile, Railtus returns to the blacksmith with the food he promised. Upon his arrival, Railtus learns that the mercenary he confronted earlier, along with two others, stole some armor from Orin. An attempt to get it back makes Railtus fight all three mercenaries. He kills two of them, but spares the third when the man agrees to atone for his wrongdoings by serving the household he previously abused.

The next morning, Railtus, Julen, and Rosemary set off for Marn. There, Rosemary will be safe, while Railtus will be able to gather allies before returning to confront the remaining mercenaries. Unfortunately, Rosemary is accosted by a group of mercenaries on the way out of town. Defending her, Railtus and Julen soon find themselves vastly outnumbered by fourteen enemies. An epic battle ensues. Railtus vanquishes eight opponents while Julen struggles to stay alive. Just as Julen is about to be overwhelmed, an orc joins the struggle -- initially, Julen mistakes the ferocious creature for a foe, but soon realizes that it’s trying to aid Rosemary. With the help of this newcomer, the remaining mercenaries are defeated.

After the battle, Railtus is approached by a young mercenary named Wilnen, who was awed by Railtus’s fighting prowess. Railtus tells Wilnen that any swords who wish to join his cause should first pitch a tent for three days (to show their willingness to stop demanding free board from the locals) and then seek him out at House Anstrun. While Railtus is talking, Rosemary collects Orin and his family, since the help Orin offered to Railtus may make him a target for the remaining mercenaries. Then the group travels to Marn, carrying the spoils of their victory with them.

Spoils To The Victors

Upon arriving in Marn, Julen settles Rosemary and Krarug into his room behind the bakery, before presenting Andreya with her new pet frog, which she promptly names Railtus. Meanwhile, the non-amphibian Railtus rents a suite at a local inn for Orin’s family, as well as stabling for Arjen. Then he visits the Fighter’s guild, where he arranges work for Orin and obtains some new armor for himself and Julen. Finally, Railtus returns to Julen’s room long enough to heal Julen’s jaw (broken during the fight with the mercenaries) and divvy up the jewelry taken from the dead mercenaries.

Next, Railtus returns to House Anstrun, bringing Krarug with him. When Mavelle hears that he’s come back, she rushes to greet him, but is quickly terrified by Krarug, despite the orc’s best efforts to appear friendly. Railtus comforts her and sends Krarug away. However, Mavelle’s reaction, along with several other issues, makes Railtus start to doubt the true viability of their romance. Before this can begin to come out, their conversation is interrupted by Krarug’s return. Railtus gives Mavelle a gold ring, and bids her a fond farewell, before he and Krarug journey to the Industrial District. Here, they locate an abandoned warehouse/mill, which they begin to transform into a headquarters for the warriors wishing to join Railtus.

Still haunted by the misery he witnessed in the shanty town, and inspired by Railtus’s example, Julen decides to embark on his own good deed. Using a gold circlet that was part of his share of the loot, he buys all the bakery’s remaining bread. Then he takes the bread to the shanty town and hands it out to the poor people who live there.

Preparations For Battle

The next morning, Railtus brings Julen to the warehouse and begins to give him some archery training. Since Julen had already done a bit of bow hunting with his father, he does fairly well, although the addition of having an orc bellowing at him (to simulate the noise and chaos of battle) initially makes things difficult. After a bit of practice, Railtus departs to make some arrangements regarding supplies, and to give a speech at the Fighter’s Guild.

A description of Railtus’s speech can be found here:

While Railtus is gone, Julen shares lunch and awkward conversation with Krarug (who is far from fluent in the local tongue). The most important thing that comes from their exchange is that Railtus told Krarug to call him Aorle. When Railtus returns, Julen inquires about this, and Railtus explains that Aorle is the name he earned among the native people of the region where his family ruled. It means “Chivalrous.” Julen asks if Railtus would like to be called Aorle from now on, and Railtus says that he would prefer that -- if only to be clearly distinguished from the frog.

The afternoon is spent practicing unarmed combat. Then, Julen and Aorle part ways for the evening. Julen obtains more bread from the bakery, and returns to the shanty town, where he again hands it out. This time, however, he also makes a speech to the shanty town’s residents, promising them food and shelter if they come work for Aorle. Mostly, the people react with fear and suspicion. In fact, Julen nearly becomes a target for their hostility, until Kaydee (the prostitute that he and Aorle encountered on their first visit) steps forward and speaks favorably about him.

For his part, Aorle pays an evening visit to the Fighter’s Guild. This is described in a sub-thread called Amidst A Sea Of Swords:

At the Fighter’s Guild, Aorle checks in on Orin, and discovers that his speech has already won him three new followers. These are:




Aorle heals Triarius, who was injured in a fight with some deserters. Then he takes all three men to the warehouse headquarters, now known as Lightsword Hall, where they swear an oath of allegiance. Finally, Aorle returns to House Anstrun.

Morning comes to Marn. As it does so, Triarius and Darar go out on patrol, where they encounter a horned girl carrying a baby. This meeting is described in a sub-thread called If You Look Like A Demon, Don’t Bother Asking For Directions:

Fearing for the safety of the baby, the men question the girl, and then bring her to meet with Aorle. It turns out that the girl is named Zee, and the baby is her brother. Zee, along with the rest of her family, was living in the forest outside Marn before a bandit attack forced them to seek help within the city. Zee became separated from her parents while her mother was being healed, and then got lost.

For more about Zee and her family, read their NPC profile:

Aorle goes in search of the girl’s mother, Uluki. Fortunately, this isn’t difficult, since there aren’t many blue-skinned fairies running around Marn. Soon, the family is reunited and given shelter within Lightsword Hall.

A little later, back in Preparations For Battle, Julen and Rosemary return to Lightsword Hall for another day of training and sewing. Upon encountering Uluki, Julen is quite awestruck by coming face-to-face with a real fairy. However, Uluki proves to be much less ethereal than the creatures described in his mother’s stories, and after meeting Uluki’s husband (Rollick), the two couples become friends. They chat until a family of refugees from the shanty town arrives. While Uluki cares for most of the family, Julen is pulled aside by a little girl who tells him that Kaydee is in trouble and needs his help. Julen says a few quick words to his wife, and then takes off, following the little girl.

Little does Julen suspect that this is actually a trap, set into motion by Dominic Snyde, a crime boss who operates out of the shanty town and doesn’t appreciate Julen’s attempt to liberate its residents, especially not one of his whores. When Julen enters the building pointed out by the little girl, he finds himself confronted by Snyde. Kaydee is also there -- naked, beaten, and chained to a wall. Julen attempts to help her, but quickly finds himself surrounded by six huge brutes wielding clubs. Despite putting up a good fight, killing two of the thugs and wounding a third, Julen is eventually overwhelmed. After letting his henchman beat Julen within an inch of his life, Snyde dumps Julen and Kaydee in the street as a warning to others. To read about Julen taking a pounding, check out the sub-thread called Ambush:

Meanwhile, Aorle is at House Anstrun, meeting with fighters who wish to become Lightswords. This task is interrupted when Mavelle shows up, bringing along her friend Asiona. The conversation between Mavelle and Asiona which leads up to this encounter can be found in a sub-thread called A Friendly Chat:

And the encounter itself is described in a sub-thread called Awaiting Armies:

Confused by her feelings for Aorle, Mavelle hopes that Asiona will be able to give her an insightful, unbiased opinion of the man. However, Mavelle is soon called away. This leaves Asiona and Aorle alone. But before they can say much, three fighters arrive seeking an audience with Aorle. These are:


Gaelm Ordwyga


Asiona eavesdrops on the conversation Aorle that has with them. Then, after they’ve left, she accuses him of some sinister plot to take over Thar Shaddin. Aorle explains that his intentions only involve achieving his knighthood, which puts Asiona at ease. Asiona bombards him with questions until an unexpected contact with the demon she’s bound to shakes her concentration. Fortunately, Aorle doesn’t detect the evil presence. Talk turns to magic. Hoping to summon an angel, so that he can take his Oath of Allegiance from it, Aorle asks Asiona if she knows of anyone capable of contacting such a being. Delighted by the chance to perform magic, Asiona admits that she can conduct such a ritual. The two agree to meet the following morning in order to do so.

And still, back in Preparations For Battle, the plot marches on. As more fighters arrive at Lightsword Hall, Uluki takes charge. She organizes a mission to collect wood from the forest, oversees the digging of latrines, and cooks stew for dinner. During this time, two notes arrive -- one is from Aorle, officially putting her in charge during his absence, and the second one is from an anonymous person who slanders Uluki and her family. Since the second note is addressed to Aorle, Uluki tucks it in her pocket, unaware of its dangerous contents.

Time passes. Rosemary finishes the gambeson she’s been sewing for her husband, but Julen still hasn’t returned from the shanty town. Concerned, Rosemary approaches Uluki, who agrees to organize a search party. Rosemary tries to insist that she be allowed to come along, but the warriors feel that she’ll only get in the way. When Uluki sides with them, Rosemary gives in and reluctantly agrees to remain behind.

Before Uluki sets off to find Julen, she remembers the second note that was delivered to her. Thinking that it might be a ransom note for Julen, she opens it, only to discover that the message condemns her entire family. Still, despite its slanderous contents, Uluki leaves the note with Rollick so he can give it to Aorle when Aorle returns.

And indeed, Aorle does return. When Rollick shows him the note, he reads it, but is not swayed by the claims it makes. Aorle assures Rollick that he will do his best to protect Rollick’s family from whoever intends them harm. Additionally, Aorle makes a speech to his men in which he calls whoever sent the note a child killer, causing all the Lightswords to feel deep loathing for this new enemy. Then, with that accomplished, Aorle saddles Arjen and sets off alone to search for Julen.

(Apparently I'm only allowed to have 30 URLs per post, so I'm breaking the plot summary into two parts. Scroll down until you reach Part 2)
Last edited by Julen on Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:19 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

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Name: Julen
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Re: Lightsword Saga -- Updated Again!

Post by Julen » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:22 pm

Part 2!

This doesn't take us up to the current moment, but I'm honestly not sure that I'll ever catch up. Since Jenica has been waiting so patiently, and since I'm about to leave town for five days, now seemed like a good time to post what I've done so far. The new part begins in "Aftermath".


While searching the shanty town, Uluki and her Lightsword escorts are approached by a brother and his sister. The pair introduces themselves as Sigvard Eskeson and Thetta Eskedatter.

For more about Sigvard and Thetta, read their NPC profiles:

Sigvard Eskeson

Thetta Eskedatter

It turns out that Sigvard and Thetta wish to become Lightswords. But because of their past history as coastal raiders, Aorle demanded that they perform a quest of atonement before he agrees to accept them. This quest involves finding Kaydee and aiding her in any way that they are able. Since Kaydee was seen with Julen on the previous night, it seems possible that the two might again be together, so Sigvard and Thetta join with Uluki.

While questioning a prostitute named Jenny, the group learns about Dominic Snyde and receives directions to a building where he might be found. Darir and Triarius are dispatched to accompany Jenny while she collects her daughter. Then, they are instructed to escort her back to Lightsword Hall, where she and her family will be protected from any retaliation on Snyde’s part.

The rest of the search party heads toward the building where they believe Snyde might be found. But before they reach it, they discover Julen and Kaydee. Afraid that the two may not survive much longer, Uluki instructs the remaining warriors to carry them into a nearby alley, where she breaks the law by using magic to heal them. Both make a full recovery. However, in order to keep from rousing unnecessary suspicion, Julen and Kaydee are carried back to Lightsword Hall, still pretending to be hurt.

The Horror That Lurks

(I know that a lot of people don’t have time to read our entire storyline, but this is a really nicely written thread that stands well on its own. If you just want a taste of our epic, I highly recommend it.)

While conducting his own search for Julen, Aorle encounters a prostitute named Cherie. He speaks kindly to the young lady, gives her his cloak to protect her from the cold night, and offers her further aid if she goes to Lightsword Hall. In return, she directs him toward the south wall of the ruins.

Unfortunately, this is not where Julen can be found. Instead, it is the dwelling place of a powerful hag, who has been preying on the residents of the shanty town. As Aorle approaches, the ghost of one of her victims appears to him. The phantom boy warns Aorle about a monster before fading away. Of course, rather than retreating, Aorle becomes determined to slay the hag, and an epic battle ensues.

In the end, Aorle triumphs, and the boy’s ghost reappears once more to thank him. Then it fades into the afterlife. Despite his wounds and the sleepless night he’s just endured, Aorle sets off to keep his morning rendezvous with Asiona, now hoping that the angel they summon may be able to help him find Julen.

A Girl’s Little Horror

Late that night, Asiona journeys to the abandoned tower where she keeps the materials necessary to perform the summoning she and Aorle plan on attempting. This is also where she first called Lateus, the demon she’s bound to, down into the material plane. Lateus is waiting for her, and they argue while Asiona gathers up her equipment. Despite Lateus’s attempts plant seeds of distrust, Asiona remains steadfast in her determination to summon an angel for Aorle, and insists that Lateus help her. Reluctantly, he agrees.

The Summoning

Early the next morning, Aorle meets Asiona, and the two ride to a spot far beyond Marn. Unbeknownst to Aorle, Lateus follows them. However, the demon’s presence causes no initial disturbance, and Asiona is able to complete the summoning. She calls down the angel Amaranda, who represents the virtue of sacrifice. Once, long ago, Amaranda sacrificed her own wings, and since that day all winged creatures have sworn to serve her.

When the angel asks what is wanted from her, Aorle ignores his own personal goals, and instead requests her aid in finding Julen. Touched by this sacrifice, Amaranda helps him by appearing to one of Uluki’s daughters in a dream and inquiring about Julen, who by that point has been safely returned to Lightsword Hall. (The daughter, Dash, has wings, and so is unknowingly tied to Amarmanda.)

Amaranda gives Aorle the good news about Julen. However, before things can precede any further, Lateus approaches, drawn by the temptation of Aorle’s extremely tasty soul. Aorle warns the demon to leave. But at that moment, the gnats and crows drawn into the area by Amaranda’s presence attack Lateus, voluntarily sacrificing themselves to protect the two humans. Unwilling to stand by and watch them die, Aorle joins the combat.

Unfortunately, because Asiona is bound to Lateus, she suffers the same pain he does. In order to relieve the girl’s suffering, Amaranda takes her pain upon herself (causing fresh blood to flow from the wounds on Amaranda’s back, where her wings used to be). Temporarily sparing Asiona enables Amaranda to speak with her, asking her to make the sacrifice of allowing the ties between her and Lateus to be severed. But Asiona is not yet ready for such a thing and refuses. This convinces Amaranda that Asiona does not possess the wisdom needed to wisely use her magical powers, so she informs Asiona that whenever she uses magic, whenever she is even exposed to it, she will experience the misery that her lust for it has caused. Then, no longer able to hold back Asiona’s pain, Amaranda releases it, causing Asiona to pass out. And without Asiona to hold her in the material plane, Amaranda vanishes. Not, however, before her blood falls on Aorle’s sanctified sword, which was placed in the summoning circle as a holy item needed to aid the ritual.

No longer required to use some of his power to help Asiona with the summoning, Lateus grows stronger, unleashing two terrible spells. Aorle grabs Asiona and retreats into the summoning circle, which has been transformed into holy ground by Amaranda’s presence. While doing so, he falls, staining his armor with more of Amaranda’s blood. Aorle also lifts the sanctified sword, and it begins to restore some of the essence that has been leaking from his soul ever since he overtaxed his powers while healing Ramas. Luckily, Aorle and his winged allies managed to gravely injure Lateus, and the demon decides to retreat rather than pressing any further attacks. This allows Aorle to get the still-unconscious Asiona onto Arjen and ride away.


Upon arriving back at Lightsword Hall, Julen and Kaydee are separated. Julen is carried up to an empty room, where he and Rosemary are finally reunited, while Kaydee is approached by Uluki and her family. As she meets them, Kaydee finds herself particularly drawn to one of Uluki’s adopted daughters (Dash). Initially fascinated by Dash’s wings, Kaydee soon discovers that she and Dash are more alike than she’d thought. Because Dash was created by an evil man, a man who considered her nothing more than a tool to be used for his profit, the two girls bear many of the same scars. Sharing their stories, they talk until sleep takes them.

During the night, Dash has a dream. (See “The Summoning.”) The next morning, when Rollick arrives with breakfast, Dash tells her father about her “encounter” with the angel Amaranda.

Concerned about her friend, Uluki goes to check on Julen. Although fully recovered physically, Julen is still shaken by what happened with Snyde, and Uluki does her best to offer him insight and reassurance. The two talk about a great many things. Julen volunteers to look after Uluki’s children if anything ever happens to her and Rollick. He also tells her the truth about his ability to cast illusions when he sings. In turn, Uluki reveals much about her past, including Rollick’s ordeal when he was possessed by an evil god, and the rift that marrying Rollick caused between Uluki and her family.

Eventually, Rosemary arrives with some fresh clothes for Julen. Uluki goes to check on Becky, one of the prostitutes from the shanty town, who is very pregnant. She’s just finished with that when Aorle returns.

Upon arriving at Lightsword Hall, Aorle gives Asiona (who is still unconscious) to Varanghar and tells him to return the girl to her family. Then he summons Julen and Kaydee. Before they arrive, however, Uluki notices how badly Aorle has been injured and takes him into a private room. She wants to use magic to heal him. But because magic is forbidden in Marn, and because Aorle doesn’t approve of breaking the law, she confines herself to cleaning, stitching, and bandaging his wounds -- although it causes her great anguish to be so limited in her ability to ease his suffering. As she works, she tells Aorle about the events that occurred while she was searching for Julen in the shanty town.

Meanwhile, Kaydee has sought out Julen in order to measure him for a shirt she wants to sew. After they both get tangled up in the measuring ribbon, playfulness turns to melancholy, and the two share some confidences about what they experienced when Snyde dumped them in the street. Kaydee tells Julen that she thinks he deserves a medal for his roll in her rescue. Then, Rosemary arrives to notify them of Aorle’s return.

Aorle informs Kaydee and Julen that they no longer need to pretend to be injured, since he trusts all the men under his command to keep Uluki’s secret. Next, he welcomes Kaydee to Lightsword Hall and vows to defend her from further abuse by Snyde. And lastly, he suggests that Julen and Rosemary move into the compound, because it will offer them better protection against any retaliation from this new enemy. It also comes up that neither Kaydee nor Uluki have ever tasted a cookie. Finally, with all that settled, Aorle distributes new weapons and armor to his followers, and gets a few hours of much-needed rest.

While Aorle is asleep, two nomads arrive at the base, seeking a shaman. Rollick brings them to Uluki. Although initially fearful, the man and woman soon confide that the cave of their ancestors is being haunted by evil spirits. Uluki agrees to help them and accompanies the nomads back to their campsite. Thus begins the sub-thread called In The Cave Of The Ancestors:

As they journey to the campsite, Uluki learns that the normally benign ancestor spirits have begun to attack their own people. And she also learns that the trouble began after a traveler entered the cave -- although it remains unknown who he was or what he did. Uluki decides to spend a solitary night in the cave, so that she can speak with the ancestor spirits. When they appear, they torment her with visions of horrible moments in her past, but Uluki remains strong. Then the spirits physically attack her. Uluki attempts to defend herself, only to discover that healing magic is the only spell her mind and body are willing to cast. Fortunately, healing the spirits removes their taint, and she is soon able to undo the damage caused by the unknown traveler.

Meanwhile, the same deserters who Aorle mocked when he encountered them at the Fighter’s Guild have decided to avenge their “honor” by staging an assault on Lightsword Hall. But the Lightswords, led by Aorle, successfully defend their home.

During her sleep that night, Dash’s dreams are once again visited by the angel Amaranda. This time, Amaranda tells Dash about the life-threatening damage done to Aorle’s spirit when he overextended himself by healing Ramas. Amaranda asks if she can act through Dash in order to heal him and Dash agrees. Upon awaking, Dash explains the situation to her mother (Uluki) and the two of them seek out Aorle. While Dash/Amaranda speaks with Aorle, Uluki spreads the news of Amaranda’s arrival throughout the compound, telling the refugees that the angel’s presence will heal them (although Uluki is actually the one doing the healing). After that, Uluki slips away, convinced that she is unworthy of being in the presence of an angel.

Amaranda heals Aorle. Then, when Aorle asks to take his Oath of Allegiance, she requests that the others present vouch for his worthiness. Despite their initial nervousness about speaking in the presence of an angel, everyone soon recounts instances of Aorle’s wisdom, generosity, compassion, and bravery. Satisfied, Amaranda accepts Aorle’s oath. Projecting her form beyond Dash’s body, Amaranda kisses Aorle on his forehead, transforming his features (a glyph in the shape of two wings materializes where her lips touch his skin, and scars from his first act of sacrifice reappear on his face) and his armor (which takes on a pattern of lightly etched feathers). Finally, before vanishing from the material plane, Amaranda declares that he is now a Knight of the Sundered Wing.

Employment Opportunity: Only Spies Need Apply

Even as Aorle achieves his dream of knighthood, fresh trouble is brewing in another part of the city. Unbeknownst to our heroes, a figure from Rollick’s past has established himself in Marn, and now seeks to reconnect with his old friend. Lord Barmitheon Panterras is a fanatical scholar, so relentless in his pursuit of magical knowledge that he performs cruel experiments on his own daughter (Kira). It was he who sent the anonymous note to Aorle, condemning Uluki and her family. And he was also the traveler who corrupted the ancestor spirits.

Panterras wants to free Rollick from Uluki’s “spell”, and also wishes to use Uluki as his new test subject. Since his note failed to impress Aorle, his new plan is to hire a spy, who will infiltrate Lightsword Hall. A young actress named Arlechina Quinn applies for the job. In the process of making a dramatic entrance, she opens the door to Kira’s bedroom/prison. Despite being crippled by years of abuse, Kira still attempts to escape, and Quinn doesn’t stop her. After listening to Panterras’s rather skewed version of the situation, Quinn accepts the job he offers her.

The Worm in the Apple

Uluki, weak from healing all the refugees, has retreated to a quiet place outside Lightsword Hall, where she is joined by Rollick. While they talk, a severely crippled girl approaches them. At first, Uluki fears that the girl is Dash, somehow harmed by channeling Amaranda. But she turns out to be Kira, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Dash, except without Dash’s wings.

Quinn, too, has arrived at Lightsword Hall, disguised as a refugee. When she sees Kira interacting with Uluki and Rollick (Panterras’s experiments have left Kira unable to talk), Quinn joins them, claiming to know Kira. Quinn gives the false name of “Asra” and invents a story about how she and Kira escaped from unknown captors. Convinced by the tale, Uluki invites the two newcomers inside, and attempts to make them feel at home.

Without stepping out of character, Quinn questions Uluki and Rollick about various things. Most of their answers do little to confirm the sinister picture painted by Panterras. However, being naturally suspicious, Quinn assumes they are putting on an act as skillful as her own.

Using a piece of paper from Dash’s sketchbook, Kira writes out her name, and it strikes a chord with Rollick. He recognizes her as his goddaughter, who he hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. Despite his old friendship with her father, Rollick promises to protect Kira, even if makes an enemy out of Panterras. Meanwhile, Dash experiences a bout of uncharacteristic clumsiness and weakness.

Rollick is called away to help Julen with his archery, and then Uluki is needed elsewhere when Becky falls down the stairs (triggering the premature birth of her baby). Quinn uses this opportunity to assume a different identity. Altering her costume, she becomes Alliya Lewton, a neighbor of Panterras’s. In this guise, she delivers a letter which requests that Rollick come visit his old friend. Since the letter mentions that Panterras is in poor health, Uluki insists on coming with Rollick, hoping she may be able to heal Panterras. They also bring Merohl and Metellus along for additional protection.

Now Or Never

Back at House Anstrun, Mavelle is preparing to take a trip. She’s come to realize that as long as she remains in her family’s home, their rigid expectations will keep her from discovering her true self, and she’ll never develop the sense of purpose that she wants to have.

Aorle arrives to find her packing. For a little, the two talk, expressing concern for each other and catching up on recent events. It’s obvious that a great deal of affection still exists between the two. Then, hoping to elicit a more definite statement of Aorle’s intent regarding her, Mavelle tells him that her father has found a young man that he wishes her to marry. Aorle is less than thrilled by the news, but not because he wishes to claim her for his own. He’s simply worried about her happiness. Finally, after dancing around the subject, Mavelle admits that she feels as if Aorle’s passion for her has waned considerably since the day they met. This frees Aorle to voice his own doubts regarding the romantic aspects of their relationship. Although both hearts receive some hurt, Aorle and Mavelle agree to go their separate ways, and the former couple parts as friends.

An Unpleasant Gathering

After delivering the letter, Quinn returns to Panterras, informing him that Uluki and Rollick will soon be coming to visit him. Then she resumes her guise as Alliya Lewton. When Uluki and Rollick arrive, she greets them. However, despite Quinn’s efforts to create a friendly atmosphere, Panterras immediately begins insulting Uluki, insinuating that she’s a gold-digger and trouble-maker. Panterras also attempts to gain information about his daughter’s whereabouts, claiming that he’s been working on a way to cure her. But Rollick and Uluki, unconvinced by his supposed good intentions, deny any knowledge.

As the conversation progresses, Quinn begins to see Panterras as the sadistic, vindictive bastard that he is. And although she doesn’t exactly regret her choice of loyalties, she starts to formulate a plan that will both protect Kira and screw Panterras.

Things finally reach a boil after Panterras makes an offhand comment about Uluki’s adopted daughters (Dash and Zee) being created to serve as magical soldiers. Rollick pressures him to explain how he came by that bit of knowledge. Unwilling to admit that he’s been spying on the family, Panterras quickly invents a wild tale about Uluki seducing him, which no one present believes. Understandably, Rollick punches Panterras. And, when Panterras responds by making threats against Zee and Dash, Rollick draws his sword, as do Merohl and Metellus. But Panterras teleports away before they can strike him.

Merohl suggests searching Panterras’s house. While doing so, they discover Panterras’s laboratory, and a notebook which confirms the “research” he was conducting on his own daughter. The group destroys the laboratory, and then heads back to Lightsword Hall.

After they’ve gone, Lord Panterras hires Quinn to kill Kira as punishment for running away from him. He then goes and speaks with an ally, Lord Hornwood, and explains a plan to test Quinn’s loyalty. Lord Hornwood will also hire Quinn, under the guise of having her gather information about his two missing daughters, but really with the intention of observing her.

Whew! That’s it so far. We’re completely insane. And no, I’m not going to write a summary of the summary.
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

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