(Mis)Adventures of Thoryn Elvesquin                    





Thoryn  page1

The night was beautiful in its serenity, the full moon Liabo at its peak in the midnight sky. A wandering cloud occasionally drifted in front of the moon, casting a soft shadow over the land, but left just as quickly as it had come. Here, a thin hunting trail wound through the thick brush, hidden from the moon’s light by beautiful elms that let their limbs hang out over the footpath. Although the surroundings were indeed beautiful, no man dared to travel this path at this time of night, for the abundance of deep shadows lent concealment to the creatures that roamed the night. The figure that traveled the path now, however, was grateful for the shadows, as they would lend him concealment as well. Keeping his black cloak drawn tightly around him, he crept silently down the forest trail, scanning the shadows for predators.

The figure stopped, and his sharply pointed ears twitched slightly under his hood. In a nightmarish black blur, the cloaked figure spun around to meet whoever—or whatever—it was that snapped the twig. The figure gazed down the path, but nothing stood within his line of sight, except the fractured twig. No blades of grass were broken or even slightly bent. There were no disturbances in the dirt along the path to clarify one’s footsteps. The figure pushed back his hood, revealing a dusky gray face of finely chiseled features, piercing violet eyes, and a dangerously long mane of silver hair which was loosely tied back. The elf felt a presence, and knew that he wasn’t merely hearing things. Whoever snapped that twig was good. Real good. And they were playing with him.

The elf backed up against a nearby tree, taking a defensive position. His right arm slowly wandered up behind his shoulder and took hold of his longsword’s grip, but the sword stayed sheathed. His left hand strayed to his belt, and he took from a cleverly concealed pouch three throwing knives. His eyes nervously darted back and forth, scanning the tree line for whatever it was that was following him. He dropped his right hand to his side, choosing to wait a few moments before resorting to his longsword. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and held it, reflecting on an old lesson.

"Thoryn," said a tall, black skinned elf. "More often than not, your eyes will aid your enemy, rather than yourself, until you learn to master them…. ‘Till then, don’t trust them."

The young elf nodded, and his violet eyes flickered in the torch light. He brought a blindfold up to his face and tied it securely around his head so that he could not see. His mentor flashed a few kicks at him, following up with three consecutive strikes to Thoryn’s jaw with his palms. The blows sent the young trainee flying into a nearby cavern wall. Thoryn landed on the stone floor with a thud, and let out a soft moan. His teacher chuckled, genuinely amused.

"Come, now… you didn’t even try. You attempted to block not one of my strikes! Fight like that, and you will surely not live another winter."

"I didn’t even know that you had flung your first kick until I was already on the floor, Shard… how am I—" Thoryn began to take off the blindfold, but his instructor quickly pulled it back down over his eyes. He grabbed the collar of his student’s shirt and pulled him to his feet.

"Try again!" The instructor urged, in a command-like tone. "This time, open up the rest of your senses. Find the sixth… and once you do, do not let it go. Your sixth sense will prove to be a valuable ally indeed, in many situations… including battle. When you have mastered this sense, you will even be able to fire bows and throw knives with better accuracy while blind-fighting than when your eyes are open and you’re able to aim..."

His mind fading back to the current situation and his eyes never opening, Thoryn flung all three knives into a nearby tree. His incredible hearing picked up the sound of one of the knives penetrating cloth, but then hitting the trunk of the tree, joining the other two.

"Nearly got tagged by that one, eh stranger?" Thoryn asked, a wry grin forming on his face, his eyes still closed.

No answer came, and Thoryn let fly another trio of blades. This time, they all connected with the trunk. Nothing more. Thoryn opened his eyes, and his grin turned into a broad smile. "Getting better," he commented to his unseen opponent.

"Naive," sounded a hoarse voice from the trees. A flash rapidly sped towards Thoryn, and he was barely able to leap out of the path of his own throwing knives… all six. Thoryn landed with his hands, leaning forward into a somersault that brought him back to his feet.

"Nearly got tagged by those six, eh ‘stranger’?" echoed the raspy voice in a mocking tone, a slight snicker behind the words.

"Alright, shadow, who are you?" Thoryn stared into the black foliage above.

"Shadow…. I like that," the voice mused. "That is, then, who I am. Call me Shadow."

"I grow tired of your games. Reveal yourself and allow us to settle this," Thoryn growled, as his longsword was torn from its scabbard. He lowered it to his side, taking a neutral stance.

"Ahh, but that would spoil all the fun, now, would it not?"

Thoryn narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth, but said nothing.

"Well… wouldn’t it, half-breed?" the voice taunted.

This remark enraged Thoryn, and he dashed toward the tree. Leaping straight up, higher than any normal person could jump, Thoryn landed on a limb just below the one his Shadow had seemingly been standing upon. Thoryn sliced at the thick branch, his longsword easily sliding through the eight inch thick wood. Backing close against the trunk, the above branch fell down past him, until it hit the ground some twenty feet below. Noticing a dark outline a couple of limbs up, Thoryn came to the conclusion that his Shadow must have leaped at the last moment.

"Impressive," came the hissing voice again. "Even more so, considering you’re a filthy human."

The words sent Thoryn into another fury. This time, though, the Shadow wasn’t fast enough to evade the rogue. He realized he had no way of escape this time; his back was against the trunk, and Thoryn stood before him on the limb, keeping close guard.

From under the black hood, Thoryn made out a smile. "Impressive indeed," it rasped.

"Now, I ask you again… who are you?" Thoryn snarled as his bladepoint crept closer to the Shadow’s throat.

"Oh, nobody really…" hissed the Shadow calmly.

"Answer me, and answer now. One second more, and your previous answer will easily become reality," Thoryn threatened, and he applied more force with his sword. A small bead of blood trickled down the hooded figure’s throat.

Realizing he had no chance of winning here, the Shadow gave his last answer. "The Faendryl wish a previous mistake corrected, half-elf. I came to do exactly that, but it seems that I have failed… this time."

"You’re mistaken. This time was your last." Thoryn thrust his blade forward, but only accomplished pinning a shadowy black cloak to the trunk with his sword. He looked around, but saw nothing. Heard nothing. Whoever the Shadow was, he was able to leave by magical means, although it was probably outside help. Nonetheless, this incident was not something to be disregarded as some midnight encounter. Thoryn knew his Shadow would return in the near future, and until then he needed to look into this as much as possible. He already had a good bit of information: the assassin claimed he was under the employment of the Faendryl, or Dark Elves, which meant that the assassin was also a Dark Elf; the Faendryl rarely cooperated with anyone outside their own race. This was enough information to give him a great start, Thoryn knew.

He sheathed his longsword, picked up the cloak left behind by the assassin, and stuffed it in his pack. He then dropped down from the tree and started back down the trail, in the opposite direction he had been heading before. He began to journey back toward the coast. Toward his home.

Toward Wehnimer’s Landing.


The lithe dark elf sped down one street, then another, crossing through alleys and hurdling over trashcans, crates, and other obstacles. His pursuers , however, were not quite so agile. One by one they’d fall, until finally the dark elf could slow his pace to a brisk walk and managed to lose them. His left arm, wrapped loosely in bandages despite the fact that it wasn’t injured, reached down to draw a crude dagger from his boot. He slid the dagger under his belt, so that he could access it much quicker should the need arise. He turned out of the alley and passed many warehouses until at last he saw the friendly sign of Helga’s Tavern peek around the corner. Taking the outdoor flight of stairs three at a time, the dark elf shoved his way through a set of swinging doors, under a thick brocade curtain, and into the smoke-filled bar.

To his right sat a number of small round tables, at which patrons sat, enjoying their conversations and alcoholic beverages. Straight ahead, there was a steep stairway that led to a short hallway consisting of three doors, all which had "Vacant" signs hanging on the knobs. It was nearly impossible to make out these signs, since the whole upper half of the building was cloaked in a thick blanket of cigar smoke, but the elf knew they were there… Helga’s infamous rooms had a reputation for being downright disgusting, and sharing one’s bed with a family of roaches or worse was standard practice here. Thus, these vacancy signs had hung there, unchanged, for quite some time, and would continue to hang there, unchanged, for quite some time. To the left of the staircase was a half-closed doorway, and dim light could be seen through the small gap between the door and the wall. This was the tavern’s gambling room, where people of all races and professions would gamble away their silver, jewelry, or sometimes their lives, over a quick game of craps. To the dark elf’s immediate left was a dark passage that led to a room full of nice, reserved tables. Along the same wall as the passage was a long fel bar and behind it stood a very round, voluptuous human woman, caked in dirt, sweat, and grime. Noticing the dark elf, she smiled broadly, showing off her numerous missing teeth and waved at him to come to the bar.

"Hey, Lafarlinn! What’ll it be t’day, kid?" she asked loudly, flecks of saliva shooting forth from her lips as she spoke.

The dark elf turned his head away slightly, a look of disgust forming on his face. He wiped the spit from his face with his cloak and answered, "My usual, Helga… If you would."

"O’Course I would, kid, just as long as ya kin dish out the dough, if’n ya knows what I mean," she slobbered.

Lafarlinn nodded and set a small pouch down on the bartop. Helga swiped it up, dumping its silver contents into a coin box under the counter. She tossed the pouch back onto the bartop in front of the dark elf, and it unfolded to reveal a widely-recognized symbol.

"Still choosin’ the tax-collectors as yer prey, eh Lafarlinn?" Helga chuckled. "Well, I don’t think the townsfolk would approve o’yer usin’ their tax money t’buy yerself a flagon o’Dragondraught Ale, now would they? But as long as the coins are endin’ up in my tin, I’m happy as kin be."

"I’m sure." Lafarlinn took his flagon from off the bartop and started towards the reservations room, just checking to see what Lords and Ladies sat at the large tables, discussing "important matters." Upon spotting the human called Din, Lafarlinn scoffed. Din, noticing the dark elf whom he’d had much trouble with in the past, stopped his conversation and rose from his chair.

"Ah, Lafarlinn… we are all honored by your presence," Din declared, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he bowed low. The other lords and ladies in the room burst into laughter, sneering and making fun at the homeless thief.

Still in a bow, Din received a sharp blow to the head, and he fell back onto the table top. The metal flagon, which had flown from Lafarlinn’s fingertips, dropped to the floor with a loud "clank", and the room suddenly grew deathly silent. All eyes shifted from the dark elf to the ale-soaked lord, who was half-lying on his table. Rubbing his forehead and grimacing, Din staggered to his feet.

"That," he screamed, "was your last mistake, elf!" Din slid an elaborate rapier from his scabbard, and its vultite blade gleamed in the soft candle light.

"Perhaps." Lafarlinn grinned as he said this. In one flashing movement, he grabbed the dagger from his belt and flung it at Din, who tried as best he could to parry it with his rapier. The result was a deep gash cut into his cheek. Howling in pain with blood flowing from the cut, Din slashed at Lafarlinn with great speed, opening a few wounds in various spots on his torso. Red stained through Lafarlinn’s dirty white tunic, growing larger and darker, until his head was spinning from blood loss.

The commotion lured a couple of off-duty town guards into the reservations room. Both Lafarlinn and Din were immediately beat down with cruel amounts of unnecessary force. But while Lafarlinn was being hauled off to the healer’s tent… Din was being hauled off to jail...

Thoryn passed a huge boulder, and continued to walk quickly through the grass. This was bad territory to travel through, he knew, but it was an easy shortcut that would cut the time it took to get back to the town considerably. Hobgoblins roamed this part of the Lower Dragonsclaw in large bands, attacking and robbing anyone foolish enough to wander through their grasslands or up their steep mountain slopes. Luck was with Thoryn today, however, and he managed to make it through the hobgoblin territory without even spotting one of the foul creatures.

Thoryn stepped out of the thick grass and onto a well-traveled road, which led up through the forest towards the North Gate of Wehnimer’s Landing. Thoryn passed many familiar sights: the huge briar patch which separated the forest from the tiny kobold village, the shadowy path that led to the wedding glade, and the beginnings of the Merchant Road. Wehnimer’s Landing was plainly visible now, and he rapidly approached its North Gate, a smile painted across his face.

The North Gate was busy, as it usually was, with merchants and gypsies going in and out, farmers heading into the town to sell their crops, sailors and captains of ships hanging around the outside of the famed Wayside Inn. Mules pulled carts through the mud, leaving deep tracks, and horses planted their hooves into the watery ground, leaving holes in the mud the size of a giantman’s fist. Many lords and ladies came and went down a northern path toward the massive estate upon which Hearthstone Manor sat. The smell of pine and oak blended here with the distinct scent of the sea, resulting in a very strange but pleasant aroma. These were the sights and sounds of Wehnimer’s immediate exterior, bustling with activity.

Thoryn broke into a run, sending mud flying up in his wake, until he reached the beginnings of a cobblestone street just inside the gates. In a shaded corner of the town wall, many bodies lay strewn about. Healers and clerics busily tended to each, trying to heal their patients’ wounds. Beyond the survival camp was the Gate Tower East, and loud explosions and other such noises could be heard, all coming from inside the tower as rogues busily tried to disarm traps and pick the locks on chests that adventurers had picked up during their travels. Although Thoryn, too, could disarm traps and pick locks better than most, never did he decide to join his fellow rogues in the tower to pick for a fee. He was always busying himself with other things.

Thoryn took a right at the end of the street, passing Dakris the Furrier’s shop, until he reached the western wall, which forced him to turn. To his left stood an impressive fieldstone house, every inch etched with runes and arcane images. He knocked sharply on the main door. He knew that it would be quite some time before anyone answered his knocks, so he turned and took a seat, leaning against one of the house’s walls. He watched people walk by, stared at horses, and played with sticks to pass the time. After what seemed like an eternity of trying futilely to entertain himself, the door cracked open and a small voice could be heard.

"What is it?" it asked, seemingly annoyed at the disruption.

"I wish to speak with Jypta, a sorceress who resides here," Thoryn explained as he stood up and stretched his muscles.

"She is not in," the voice said after a long pause. "Go away."

The door slowly began to close, and Thoryn lunged forward, stopping it from shutting all the way. He leaned close to the crack and whispered, "Yes. She is. Let me in and let me in now, or I’ll carve your miserable heart out with a wooden spoon, just before I eat every other waggler in this place. Now stand aside, fool!"

Thoryn’s threat brought him a painful reply. A tiny ball of blue energy slowly floated through the crack, swirling around Thoryn’s head until it landed softly on his shoulder. He gazed at it for a moment, until the soft green pulsing in the center became so intense he had to turn away. A deafening boom erupted, louder than any explosion Thoryn had ever heard, and a tremendous amount of force sent Thoryn flying into the town wall behind him.

"I should think not," the voice snorted just before it slammed the door shut.

Thoryn lay there, watching the morning sun cross the sky and finally set hours later, waiting for the constant ringing in his ear to stop. When finally it did, he again approached Twilight Hall. He brought his fist up to pound on the door, but stopped short when a sharp cry split the cool night air. It wailed for several seconds as it gradually decreased in volume until it could be heard no more. The death blow had been delivered. The sound was very close to the town wall directly behind him, so Thoryn decided to investigate. Deaths did not generally concern him, but when a dying scream lingered for as long as it did, it was obviously not the average mugging or killing that commonly occured just outside of the Landing’s walls at night. Thieves would silently open their victims’ throats and then take their coin purse or weapons, or whatever else they felt held some value. Never would they land a non-lethal strike to a painful spot, let their victim scream for many seconds, and then finally deliver the killing blow. It drew too much attention, and attention was something thieves hated.

Thoryn climbed the town’s thirty-foot wall effortlessly and kneeled when he reached the Ledge. The Ledge was a protrusion from the inside of the town’s walls that formed an elevated walkway all around the town. It was most commonly used by the town guard, since they could patrol the city’s exterior from above without having to leave the city’s walls, as well as monitoring the activity that took place in the city’s immediate interior. It was off limits however, except during times of war, to anyone that wasn’t a member of the city militia. Knowing this and not caring to be arrested, Thoryn dropped off to the outside before he could be spotted on the Ledge.

He landed with an economy of silence that only the most skilled of elven stalkers could achieve. Upon his landing, he immediately backed against the wall again, becoming one with the shadows that lingered there. The long mane of fine silver hair that Thoryn possessed sparkled brilliantly in the moonlight, despite the fact that he was crouching low and concealed in shadows. Quickly, he jerked the hood of his assassin’s cloak over his head. Gripping an intertwined gold and brass ring that sat on his left hand’s middle finger with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, he slowly turned it all the way around the digit until he felt a slight pulse emanate from it. He was ready.

Thoryn glided across the path and into some thick brush with cat-like grace, making not a single sound as he passed. He could travel relatively noiselessly through the tall grass and bushes at a surprisingly great speed, and so he did. Soon though, he stopped and parted a veil of thick grass in front of him. Laying dead and still on the main exterior road was a black-clad human woman.

Thoryn studied his surroundings closely, and after seeing no signs of any life but himself, he stepped out onto the trail to examine the body. Close to six feet tall and thick with muscle, the red-haired woman was obviously a warrior. A warrior of relative skill, Thoryn thought as he noted that her shield and broadsword were both forged from vultite, and expensive metal that only the more skilled of adventurers could handle. He also noticed that neither were readied… nor taken. In fact, a belt pouch heavy with coins was still strapped to her belt. None of her belongings were taken. This would mean that his earlier inference about the attack coming from a wandering monster was very wrong. Whoever killed this woman did it for no outwardly obvious reason… and by no outwardly obvious means. Not a scratch was visible anywhere on her body. So how did she die? Magic? Very few known spells could cause someone that much pain without leaving some sort of sign, whether it be a magically torn throat or a near-invisible blue light in the carcass’ eyes.

Thoryn’s thoughts were interrupted by a strong, sudden gust of wind that pushed him off of his heels and onto his rear. The gale halted just as quickly as it had begun, and when it did, Thoryn leaped back up to his feet and pulled his longsword from its scabbard, which rested comfortably on his back.

"That’s no midnight breeze," he snarled.

A familiar scent struck Thoryn’s nostrils, and he held his nose up high in the air, sniffing at the gentle ocean breeze. The pupils in his eyes abruptly narrowed into slits, and he let out a low, involuntary growl.

"Shouldn’t hide upwind, stranger…" Thoryn grinned, the moonlight reflecting momentarily off of a set of sharp fangs.

"Indeed I shouldn’t," came a low voice from some shadows along the road. "But it’s been a long time since I’ve had to dance with a priest of Andelas." The voice’s owner approached Thoryn, no more than a moving shadow to anyone with vision even slightly less advanced as Thoryn’s. "Yes, half-elf…" the voice rasped. "Your Shadow has returned."

"Not if I can help it."

Thoryn’s longsword ripped through the chill air in a horrific downward arc, but the Shadow easily parried the imflass blade with his own weapon, an elegant scimitar etched with intricate dark elven runes and other magical writings.

"And I’m not yet a priest…"

The longsword flashed through the night again, but missed its target completely.

"Oh? A thousand pardons then, my dear altar boy," responded the Shadow, who returned the strike.

Thoryn fell to his knees, painfully grasping his left thigh. Although the cut was not even deep enough to scar, the mere touch of the scimitar’s keen edge sent a paralyzing jolt through Thoryn’s leg.

"Shendrilite," Thoryn muttered, recalling the strange black metal from the many years he spent with the Faendryl elves under the cursed soil of Rhoska-Tor.

"Very good indeed, Thoryn. You’ve won the guessing game. I, however, have won the game that actually contains an element of importance; you have lost. It has all really been quite amusing, but I think I should be on my way. The town guard will be arriving shortly, you know."

"I thought you were going to kill me," Thoryn snarled.

"Oh, don’t you worry about that. I’ll be back to take care of you, if the guard doesn’t complete the task for me… a lot of suffering is what they’ll put you through, I’m sure," said the Shadow with a malevolent grin. "I don’t think the constable will grant his daughter’s murderer a quick death."

The words echoed through Thoryn’s head, and he tried desperately to get back on his feet as his longsword faded from his hand. The magical numb in his leg was too great, though, and he slid back down into a heap. Turning himself around, he crawled with his hands toward the lifeless form of the woman ahead of him and watched in horror as his longsword materialized again; now, however, it was protruding from the woman’s back. Blood began to seep from the new wound, and suddenly Thoryn’s leg regained feeling. He leaped to his feet and spun around. His Shadow was gone, or so it seemed. Hesitating for only a moment, Thoryn began to run. He didn’t know where to, just away. The moment he hesitated for was long enough though, and the town guard brought their cudgels down onto him, beating his body into severe unconsciousness. Grabbing their prisoner by his ankles, they dragged him back through the town gates, toward Cheridan avenue. Toward the town jail.



"Gitcher stanky, rotten, gray arse in there, half-breed!" shouted a bald and burly member of the Wehnimer’s Landing town guard. Kicking Thoryn in the back, he slammed the iron door to the cell shut.

Thoryn, after having his belongings stripped from his body, lay on the cold, wet, stone floor of the dark cell for some time, collecting his thoughts and watching rats scurry about. Were it not for his elven sight, Thoryn would not have been able to see the rats—he wouldn’t have been able to see anything but a giant black nothing, with a single ray of moonlight shining through a rat hole at the base of one of the walls. But the dark elven blood that coursed through his veins granted him the typical heat-based vision that all dark elves possessed, allowing him to see everything with the clarity and vivid color anyone else could see, all resulting from the heat-waves of the room. This created some differences from normal vision that took some getting used to, since the hotter something was, the brighter it was; the colder, the darker… thus, a white-painted piece of iron might look shadowy and dull while using heat-vision, but that same piece of metal would look a bright white in a well-lit room when viewing it with common light-based vision.

Using this "elvensight," as it was commonly referred to (all elves possessed it, but dark elves’ was the most enhanced), he was able to make out the lithe form of someone, hidden deep among the cold shadows. A familiar scent hung about in the air, and Thoryn was determined to figure out where he knew it from… it reminded him of the past. Of old friends long gone…

"Lafarlinn!" screamed the seemingly dark elven youth. "No! Y’crow biting bastards—leave him alone!" He tried to lunge forward, but two older dark elves held him back. All he could do was watch through the strands of silver hair that hung in front of his eyes—watch as his only real friend had the life fiercely beat out of him. In one final burst, Thoryn managed to twist free of the two elves’ grasp and he spun around, grabbing each by the throat.

The short one was strong, though, and took hold of Thoryn’s arm. In a swift flash of gray, Thoryn was lying flat on his back. The elves’ feet came down again and again onto his chest and stomach, and Thoryn could feel his ribs snapping and shattering under the force. Futilely he tried to stand, to help his friend, but found that he couldn’t. The blows stopped coming, and though his vision had become blurred, Thoryn could see that the other dark elves were coming in his direction.

"Don’t kill him just yet," said the tallest one, seemingly the leader of the group. "We want him to feel the pain for a long time before we grant him the privilege of death."

"Don’t worry, we didn’t kill him," said one of the dark elves that had been stomping him. He couldn’t tell which one it was, since his vision had become nothing more than a giant, fuzzy patch of black with a few shapes that he assumed were the dark elves. "We just made sure that he came close enough to death to realize the ease with which we could finish him," the elf added.

After several moments of trying, Thoryn managed to mutter a few words. "When I get up, you had better be gone—all of you. Otherwise, you can plan on saying goodnight to the sandman…"

This cut into the dark elves’ debate over which torturing techniques they’d use on him, and they looked most displeased with the interruption. After Thoryn had finished, however, it sent them all into violent spasms of malevolent laughter. Soon it subsided, and the leader once again spoke.

"Half-breed, that’s exactly what you don’t understand. You aren’t getting up… you’re staying down. Forever… just like your little human-loving friend over there," he motioned towards the unmoving form of Lafarlinn, who lay across the cavern.

"Perhaps not," came a voice from no place in particular. "It is you who will be doing the staying down."

From the little that Thoryn could see and hear in his condition, he gathered that the voice belonged to Shard, his and Lafarlinn’s instructor. He also decided that eight knives had been thrown, dropping every dark elf but the leader. Quicker deaths than any of them deserved, he knew, but he was glad that they were dead—and he was not. He also heard Shard telling the lead dark elf something about a lot of pain, and then came the sound of chain links clinking together. That was the last thing he heard, however, as blackness closed over his eyes, his ears… and his mind.

When Thoryn finally came to, he found that his ribs had been bandaged and were healing nicely. Lafarlin, he was told, was in fact dead, but he already knew that. He had felt his soul leave the world long before the mob had stopped beating the body. Sitting in the corner was the dark elf leader, blood-soaked and terrified. After long, torturous beatings each day for months, he finally cut deeply into the dark elf’s wrists with his dagger, stomping on them until all life (and blood) was drained from the body. That was the first time he had lost anyone he’d cared about… the only one he’d cared about. A true friend. That day, Thoryn swore to himself that he would never again allow himself to befriend anyone. The pain that was caused when they were taken away was simply too great. That day was also the day Thoryn left his underground home and emerged on the surface…

Although he had not yet entered Andelas’ religion at the time of Lafarlinn’s killing, and thus did not have the enhanced senses he had now, he vaguely recognized the scent as Lafarlinn’s. But that’s impossible, Thoryn thought. He died, I felt his soul leave. They disposed of his body afterwards… didn’t they? Despite the many questions that entered his thoughts, trying to convince him that it wasn’t his old friend, he had to find out. And if it wasn’t Lafarlinn, it was worth asking him who he really was—perhaps Thoryn had recognized the scent from someplace else… maybe an old enemy that had slipped through his fingers and finally ended up in the same room with him, a client that "accidentally" forgot to pay him and had conveniently disappeared, or perhaps some human sailor that had beat up on him in his younger days and taken his silver. Whoever it might turn out to be, Thoryn had nothing to lose.

"So…" Thoryn began, "What’re you hiding way deep in the shadows for?"

No answer.

"I know you’re there, pal… not only can I see you, but I can smell you and hear you, too. An’ if you don’t speak up, soon I’ll be tasting you." Thoryn licked his chops to further imply the threat.

"Doubtful, fellow offender," the shadow-cloaked prisoner answered in a challenging tone. He sounded as if he were going to continue, but Thoryn cut him off.

"First—I’m no offender. And second, there’s no doubt to it. I’d swallow you whole before you could say ‘crow’…"

Ignoring Thoryn’s threat, the figure spoke calmly. "Then I suppose you’ve been framed, eh? Yeah, yeah, half of everyone that gets thrown in here says that. Good luck trying to prove your innocence to the judge… he usually doesn’t even give you a chance to speak; he just slaps a fine on you or locks you up for good."

"You speak as if you know him well," Thoryn observed.

"That’s because I do," answered the prisoner.

"I take it you’re a regular in here, then?"

The prisoner murmured in agreement.

"So what’re you in for this time?" asked Thoryn.

"Grand theft," said the prisoner proudly.

"Theft is nothing grand if you’re caught," Thoryn snorted.

"I was ratted out by a so-called friend. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been caught."

"But you were," Thoryn said distastefully, "and that is all that matters."

The prisoner shrugged in the darkness. "He’ll be dead soon anyway…"

"You’ll kill him?"

"Perhaps," said the prisoner, "but only if Mr. Puma’s’s allows it."

The name hit Thoryn so hard that he almost fell over. Mr. Puma’s’s was well known among all that were associated with Andelas, the Lord of Cats and Master of the Hunt; the god whom Thoryn served. Mr. Puma’s’s was said to have been a gift bestowed upon a young dark elf by the Lord Andelas himself. A speaking, thinking amulet of imflass, fashioned into the image of a puma’s head. The dark elf named it Mr. Puma’s’s, and it persuaded the young rogue into joining in on the worship of the Cat God. Since then, that dark elf had become one of Andelas’ most promising acolytes, and his reputation with fellow followers grew. Hs name, however, was not known, since he revealed it to no one except the select few that Mr. Puma’s’s allowed him to reveal it to. So he most often used the alias "Shindrek," which roughly meant "Son of the Night" in dark elven.

"Mr. Puma’s’s?" Thoryn asked, shocked.

"That’s right. He’s in a little box, though, on the constables desk; all my things are, as are yours, I’m sure," explained the prisoner. "Although sometimes they use packing crates over in the closet, rather than the boxes…"

"So, you mean to tell me that you’re Shindrek?" chuckled Thoryn, amused at the irony of the situation.

"That’s right… who’re you?" the prisoner seemed suspicious of Thoryn.

"Nobody, really… just a framed dark-elf awaiting his trial…"

"Dark elf, eh?" the prisoner revealed himself from the shadows to get a better look at this "dark elf."

The two simultaneously gasped as they saw each other’s faces. For several minutes, they stared at one another, each trying to convince himself that it wasn’t possible… that it wasn’t his best friend standing a few feet away from him, whom he hadn’t seen in decades. But it was, and when they finally let themselves believe this, they embraced as reunited brothers would.

"Thoryn! Shard told me you were dead!" Lafarlinn looked confused.

"He told me the same about you… in fact, I’m sure that I felt your soul depart this realm," Thoryn also looked confused.

"Well, after a long time of arguing with some old man in the realm between light and dark, he finally agreed to grant me another shot at life, if I were to promise to perform a deed when my life was restored. So I did… I took all the money I had and gave it up as charity to a temple of Lorminstra. When I came back to shock Shard, he told me that you had left for the surface after what happened. He also told me that he could not trace you with spells after you left… he couldn’t even get the slightest hint of you being alive. We decided it would be best that I, too, leave the underworld after all that had transpired. The dark elves had grown very impatient about a dark elf with human blood staying among them as one of their own, and many had started to seek you out to kill you, as those bastards had that killed me. Being your life long friend, I would surely be the first to die when they couldn’t find you. Shard would probably be the second, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave his home. Last I heard, he was found in about eight pieces, tossed into a pile of cave lizard dung," Lafarlinn told his friend sadly.

Thoryn tensed his hands and his nails were suddenly claws. "Crow… They’ll get theirs soon enough," he snarled.

"So, friend, you claim that you’ve been framed. What happened?" inquired his disbelieving friend.

"Apparently, an assassin has been sent by the Faendryl to be rid of me… he uses a scimitar, a strange weapon choice for a dark elf of this region, and he is very adept with the ways of magic. He has visited me twice, and the first time I believe he was toying with me… I had him too easily that time. This last time, however, he displayed more of his power, although I don’t think it was to his full extent."

"A scimitar? That’d be Mourn…" Lafarlinn shuddered at the name.

"Mourn? So you know of him?" Thoryn asked eagerly. Maybe Lafarlinn could provide him with the knowledge he needed, and that way he wouldn’t have to make anymore embarrassing—and often painful—attempts to use Twilight Hall’s libraries.

"Yeah, but not a whole lot… I do know that if you’re his target—you’re dead. And it’s rumored that he is the one that killed Shard."

Thoryn’s eyes widened, his teeth ground together, and he scraped at the cold floor with his claws.

"Yep. And what’s even more infuriating is the fact that he was one of Shard’s trainees." Lafarlinn shook his head. "How I wish I could tear his throat out…

"So what’d he do to get you in here? I thought his job is to kill you, not imprison you."

"It is to kill me… he seems to enjoy playing with me. He’ll wait for me to die from the torture the constable will be dishing out to me. And if I survive, Mourn’ll make sure I don’t."

"Torture?" Lafarlinn’s eyes grew extremely large. "What did you do—er, what’d he frame you for to earn you death by slow torture?"

"I’m being accused of murdering the constable’s daughter."

"His daughter? How’d he do it?" Lafarlinn gasped.

"I’m not sure. Some kind of magic, obviously. I heard a scream, so I checked it out. The body had not a scratch… not even any signs of a magical death. This ‘Mourn’ bastard shows up and takes me down with some fancy swordplay. I braced myself for death, but it didn’t come. Instead, my longsword just vanished from my hand and reappeared in that woman’s back. Blood started flowing from the wound. Everything looked as if I were the murderer, so I ran, which probably didn’t help the way the situation looked either. My leg was still numb from the bite of Mourn’s shendrilite scimitar, and the guards caught up. Then they threw me in here," Thoryn explained.

Lafarlinn shook his head slowly. "Sounds like there’s not a whole lot of help for you, friend. Here we are, just getting reacquainted when suddenly, you must go away again. This time, though, it looks like forever."

"Come on, don’t give up on me that easily—I’m going to fight it out until the very end. And I intend to win." Lafarlinn looked at Thoryn with unconvinced eyes. "So, you have joined a thieves’ guild, I take it?"

"That’s right. But starting from this point on, the only thing they’ll be getting from me is a dagger in their throats. Bastards sold me out."

"I thought only one of them had had a little talk with the constable…"

"One rat’s enough to make the whole pile of meat go bad."

"I see."

"Yep. And do you know who else is getting a dagger flung into his throat?"


"Know of a pretty human named Din?"

Thoryn looked disgusted. "I was tempted to plant a knife in his chest myself," he said gravely. "I had a little run-in with him a long while back."

"Then you’ll help me get rid of him?"

"Maybe. First, I’ve got to save my own ass. Crow, this isn’t going to be easy," Thoryn mumbled. "What got you two into a tangle, anyway?"

"Well, back when I had first arrived in this revolting hole—our precious Wehnimer’s Landing—I was greeted by a young, snotty, rich brat—the son of a nobleman. We had our share of fights throughout the years, and I must sadly admit that most of Daddy’s money was put to good use; that boy can fight very well for his age. Well, Daddy conveniently bit the dust when Din was old enough to inherit anything without interference from relatives, and that’s when…"

Lafarlinn was cut off by the sound of keys turning in the iron door’s rusty lock. The same bald man that had thrown Thoryn into the dank cell came now to fish him out. Grabbing him by his hair, The burly guard dragged Thoryn through the doorway.

"C’mon, boyo… it’s time fer you ta see th’Judge!"

Those wicked words were the last Thoryn heard before the cudgel came down upon his head, dulling everything into blackness.


Thoryn stumbled out onto the street, his naked body suddenly warmed by the harsh mid-morning sun. The judge had set bail at 500,000 silver pieces, which was quite a bit for the poverty-stricken half elf. He realized, though, that the fine should have been more, and that he was lucky. Much more, especially since the woman he ‘murdered’ was the daughter of the constable. The constable was outraged at the ease with which Thoryn had gotten off the hook. The judge argued that just because the victim was the constable’s daughter, Thoryn shouldn’t have to be forced to pay more or be sentenced to something worse than a fine. He did, however, make it clear that if Thoryn ever broke the law again, no matter how small the crime, he would be put to immediate death. The judge gave Thoryn two hours to pay the fee and claim his belongings, so he’d have to be quick.

A beautiful girl, not quite in her teenage years, skipped up the lane, whistling a merry tune. She wore an extremely loud yellow dress embroidered with tiny flowers all around the hem, which suited her well, since she sold the flowers that sat in her woven basket for pocket money. Everybody in town adored her, and Thoryn knew that if he was seen doing what he was about to do, he wouldn’t be put to an easy death. Cloaking himself in the shadows of the great Moot Hall’s walls, he waited for her to come closer. The timing was perfect; just as she was within reach, not a soul was out on the street. Realizing that this was the perfect opportunity to snatch her up without anybody noticing, Thoryn quickly moved to the edge of the building. Grabbing the flower girl by the hair, Thoryn wrenched her into the alley with a quick flick of the wrist.

* * * * *

Lafarlinn giggled gleefully to himself as the lock on the cell door made a loud CLACK sound. Slowly, he edged the massive iron door open, not caring that it boisterously screeched on its hinges. The terrible sound was enough to draw the whole town militia in, but it did not. The fools had never opened it this slowly before, thus not knowing of the horrid noise it made when opened in such a manner. Lafarlinn cautiously stepped out of his cell and surveyed his surroundings. Satisfied that nobody was around, he ran back into the dank cell and re-hid his lockpick in the hollow brick he had spent many nights working on. He was in jail often, and memorized in which part of the darkest corner his brick was located. The knowledge of this hiding place was quite valuable, and he spoke not a word of it to anyone, not even his long-thought-dead best friend, Thoryn.

Now for the crate, Lafarlinn thought as he quickly shut the cell door. Stepping over to the storage closet, he opened the crudely-made wooden gate and glanced over the labels of the huge crates. Finding one that read, "The Regular", he smiled briefly. He ran back across the small room, to the opposite wall of the constabulary. He opened a low cupboard and took from within a crowbar, which was not only very large, but quite heavy, too. Lafarlinn, still tired from many nights without sleep, dragged the black piece of iron across the floor to his crate. Sliding the flat end of the crowbar between two slats, he popped the top of the crate off with ease. Lafarlinn hastily threw away the crowbar and rummaged through his belongings until he found a small imflass pendant, crafted with the utmost skill and care, of a puma’s head.

"Hello Mr. Puma’s’s… I missed you very much in your absence." Lafarlinn carefully draped the mithril chain from his neck.

"And I you, Lafarlinn," answered a macabre voice that echoed resoundingly throughout the dark elf’s mind, causing his lips to shape into a contorted grin.

"You don’t know how happy it makes me to hear that, Mr. Puma’s’s," Lafarlinn said, feeling a warm sense of pride spread throughout his body. Snatching his clothes and what other few belongings he had out of the crate, he began to dress on his way out the door.

* * * * *

"It’s not quite me, but it will have to do," Thoryn commented as he looked himself over, twisting his body into different angles to better see his new garment. "After all, I can’t just walk up to Twilight Hall and speak with Jypta seriously if I’m in the nude… But then," he looked distastefully at his new, flowery, yellow dress. "I don’t think she’d take me seriously if I were to show up in this. Still, it’s better than nothing, and I’ve already wasted enough time."

Thoryn dragged the flower girl’s body, now naked (and, consequently, very suspicious looking), into a nearby bush. Checking her pulse to make sure she had simply fainted and hadn’t died from fright, he snatched up her basket of wilted flower petals. He knew that the chances of him getting beat down just for wearing the dress were high, made higher still by the fact that the dress was the famous flower girl’s, and he dared to think about what might happen if some powerful and grumpy wizard didn’t see the offensive humor in Thoryn also carrying the flower girl’s basket. Thoryn snickered whimsically at the mockery involved, and wished he’d had time to stop a few times and ask somebody in as beautiful a voice as he could manage, "Would you like to buy some flower petals?" That fantasy in mind, Thoryn stepped out of the shadows and onto the street.

* * * * *

The booming echoed throughout the great main hall. Twilight Hall’s Page, a very round and tightly-robed halfling, hurried over to the great doors. Cracking it open, he saw the ridiculously dressed Thoryn leaning very near the door, a malevolent grin twisting his face.

"You again, is it?" the halfling snorted, preparing to unleash the same spell on Thoryn that he had the day before.

"Yes. It is." Thoryn, moving suddenly, drove his shoulder into the door, forcing the little halfling (who wasn’t expecting it) off of his feet and on to his back. Slamming the door shut behind him, Thoryn smiled wickedly at the furry-footed page. "I would toy with you longer little one," Thoryn said as he ran past the halfling, "but I have something to attend to."

Reaching a spiral staircase at the end of the hallway, Thoryn ascended it and stepped onto the upper floor of the house’s monstrous library. Mages scurried away at the sight of the yellow-clad assassin, but one stayed, sitting on a bench at the far side of the room, hood pulled and back hunched over a massive tome. Thoryn began to walk toward the sorcerer, but spun around at the sound of the halfling’s shrill cries.

"Intruder! Kill the Intruder!" he yelled, running around and pointing up at Thoryn, who was now leaning over the railing that insured nobody fell from the upper level to the ground floor some thirty feet below.

The halfling silenced abruptly, concentrating on preparing a spell. From the movement of the hands and the few words that Thoryn could make out, the halfling was preparing a devastating sorcerer spell called Dark Catalyst; and Thoryn was more than likely going to be the target. Vaulting over the rail, Thoryn dove at the halfling headfirst.

Two things immediately followed this action: the first was that Thoryn’s left hand was completely vaporized by the halfling’s spell. The second was that the hooded sorcerer that had remained in the library blasted the halfling’s left hand into oblivion as well. This ultimately created a blind confusion between the two on the ground level; Thoryn had forgotten, in this moment of awe, about the sorcerer from the second floor, and thus could not figure out where the blast in his favor had come from. He began to think that he had somehow unleashed the dark energy. The halfling also thought that this was the case; he wondered why these ‘special powers’ Thoryn seemingly possessed were surfacing only now. A new sense of respect filled the halfling’s senses, and he tried to calm down enough to get Thoryn’s attention.

This, however, was not an easy thing to do. Thoryn was gibbering incoherently about spells, missing hands, the amount of blood that was seeping from his new "stump", new powers, world conquest, politics, and a lot of other stuff the page couldn’t quite pick up. At last, though, the halfling managed to catch Thoryn’s not-so-undivided attention by landing a lucky blow straight on Thoryn’s severed wrist.

Screaming in agony, Thoryn spun around to face the halfling. He bit his lip hard, fighting to remain calm and not tear the page limb from limb. The halfling, however, remained perfectly calm, despite his missing left hand.

"Please sir," he said, flinching every few seconds at the pain, "allow me to summon some empaths to take care of our hands."

"Yes. Do that," Thoryn growled.

The halfling gazed past him for a moment, a look of intense concentration decorating his pudgy face. A moment later, two robed healers arrived and began to tend to and transfer the wounds to themselves. They did this almost carelessly, although both screamed painfully when their new wounds had been transferred. Summoning their inner most energy, they used this mana to regenerate their own hands. After the healing had been done, the black-robed figure descended the spiraling stairs gracefully, and just from the air about her and the way she walked, Thoryn recognized the robed "stranger" as his good friend, the sorceress Jypta.

Jypta was a uniquely beautiful dark elf; she didn’t possess the black skin and white hair that were common among most of her kind. Instead, she had long, effulgent, dark brown hair and matching eyes. Her skin as a far cry from ebony; beautiful skin of a soft, lily white hue covered her from head to toe. Her other qualities, however, were not much different from her kin. She wore typical dark elven clothes—dark, satiny, and revealing. She studied typical dark elven magic—the Black Arts, or Sorcery as called by most. Most who laid eyes upon Jypta believed her to be a warm and caring wizardress… all were deadly mistaken.

"Thoryn," she began, sounding genuinely amused. "Why are you wearing the flower girl’s dress?"

Thoryn ignored her question and cut straight to then point of his unexpected visit. "I need your help," he said flatly.

At this, Jypta pulled back her hood and arched an eyebrow, though she did not seem the least bit surprised. "And?"

"And… well… I need your help."

Jypta grinned slightly. She knew what he wanted. Money. Thoryn always wanted money. Not only did he always want money, but he always needed money as well. Thoryn was notable for his constant lack of funds. He was also notable for always starting more trouble than he could handle by himself, and his poverty was due mainly to this.

"I see. How much this time?"

"Five hundred."

"That’s all? Whatever you bought this time had better been worth it, if it cost you enough to force you to come asking for a loan of five hundred…"

"Five hundred. As in, five hundred thousand."

"Five hundred kay?!" Jypta gasped. Though for her it was not at all a large sum, she certainly hadn’t ever heard of a theft charge of five hundred thousand. "By the Lords of Lornon… what did you steal?!"

"Nothing. I was set up. Now please… I need this money. I really don’t feel like living my life in this stupid thing." Thoryn held out the sides of his dress as if to curtsy.

Jypta looked at Thoryn with skepticism. "I’m supposed to believe that you, who can hardly ever keep his hands off things that aren’t his own, was framed for stealing something?"

"No. I was framed for murder..."

To be continued....



Copyright © 1998 Kevin Kerchenfaut (AKA Thoryn) all rights reserved

  Simutronics® is a registered trademark and service mark of Simutronics Corporation. all rights reserved.The GemStone® III game is copyright©1987-2002 Simutronics Corp.All rightsreserved.GemStone® is a registered trademark of Simutronics Corp. All rights reserved.

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Librarian: Jypsie