Alone in the cavern with Andrew and poor Faelwyn’s body the former told me of the guilt he felt for angering Niles, which resulted in the young priest’s capture. I assured him from the facts it was not his fault, Niles was always going to turn on us and it was in search of the cure that Faelwyn fell and because of the Seeker bow that he was held ransom. We spent the next several moments in silence cleaning the blackguard filth off of the body. As we finished strapping Faelwyn to a horse via a make shift litter Darren Farstryder and his last living house guard returned. Neither one knew the fate of Kara and Arenwe.
With great relief we caught up to the two wayward companions on the road back to town, Gruthalmus gave up the chase. United we returned to Merikesh baring the ill tidings to the people Faelwyn had healed body and soul. The next morning Kara, Arenwe and I spoke briefly about the previous night’s events, each of us mourning our companion. A note was left in Andrews place stating the pervious events were his fault and we’d be better off traveling without him. Arenwe felt no loss at Andrew’s leaving, but I was most concerned for his safety. This trip to Merikesh has put him in great danger from his business partner and I had promised to help him. The three of us spoke briefly of what to do next, since the trip to Kear Maga was Faelwyn’s destination. The conversation was tabled when General Joshua arrived to tell us about the funeral arrangements.
The funeral was a grand affair, the entire city turned out to say goodbye to the Maker’s servant. Arenwe, Kara and I each took turns speaking about Faelwyn. Kara whose mood was darker than it had been the last few weeks, spoke from the heart, but ended on a sour note. I had no written speech prepared I just spoke honestly about my experiences with Faelwyn, the man who saved not only my life, but the woman I love. I knew Faelwyn wouldn’t want a tear shed for him, only that the Je’han people’s inner light continue to burn bright against the surrounding darkness and I urged all to strive to be as brave as our fallen friend. Afterwards a statue was erected in his honor and subbed Faelwyn the saint of bravery to the Je’han people.
So not to wallow in self-pity and grief Princess Anneka invited us all out on a hunt knowing we’d be leaving soon. It was a very pleasant affair till we ran into a group of Korsca barbarians. A weaselly man named Otis spoke on their behalf claiming their large leader with an eye patch is the infamous Brond. They had been hunting lions in the eastern plains on their way here to battle the Dragon Lord. This explained the recent migration of the lionesses and we further explained that Draco had already been defeated. Both Arenwe and Kara called them out as liars since they had traveled with the real Brond in the past and this man was not Brond. Although they refused to admit the lie, they took our offer to move on and never return.
That evening back at the palace I dinned privately with Princess Anneka. She presented me with a Tsmuari ring worn by her father and paired to another ring which her mother wore. These rings allowed the other to always feel the warmth of the other and know if they were in danger. I was touched by the gift and relieved as I would be constantly worrying about her safety while away. Drawing me to her bed chamber Anneka told me the rings do not function unless the bearers where truly bonded. I had told myself that since I could not stay that I would spare us both from the hurt of being together and then separated so quickly, but under the moon’s light she was never more beautiful and all my resolve fell away along with her garments.
Spending the night with Anneka and watching her awake in my arms the next morning was everything I had dreamed it would be and more. Armed with the rings and the events of last night no words of goodbye were required. Everything needed to be said was conveyed in one last kiss. At the stables I exchanged thanks and farewells with General Joshua before mounting Goliath. Arenwe, Kara and I rode out the gates in silence till we reached the first fork in the road. Kara spoke first that she was headed to the elven lands to return the bow Seeker. Arenwe would accompany her and in fact was now holding the bow. He would also look into the magical portal spires along the way. Just as I was explaining my concern of Andrew and his last known destination of Kear Maga my blade began to glow, a dragon or their kin was near. Arenwe explained that it is a pseudo dragon named Poodles, he is in mental communications with it. It’s a servant to the Mistress of the Woods and she’d like to see all three of us. Since the events of the Dragon Eye, Kara and I had agreed to go see the Mistress together and now she has come to us.
Following the directions of Poodles we reached a beautiful grove and waiting us with tea and cookies was an aged eleven woman with a presence that puts you immediately at ease. Nearly all of my nervousness at meeting Bahamut the god of dragons was erased with a single welcoming smile. Kara made a very kind word of introduction on my part and I explained the vision of we shared through the Dragon’s Eye. This caught Bahamut‘s attention at the mention of Shadow Fang and Blood Fang. She was also concerned that so many companions are now gone from the fellowship she attempted to gather back in Falcon’s hollow, but assured me that Andrew was safe, for now.
We learned that the dark lord hasn’t advanced his reach in many years and that his hold over this realm is not permanent yet, but he is searching for something that can make it so and that object is in Kear Maga. Kara un-phased by this news asked what is in it for her, why should she care what happens to this world. I looked at her in surprise and I could see in her eyes the longing for Arenwe. It all clicked, he was the one who had rejected her and broken her heart. I cannot explain it, but in the mitts of one conversation Bahamut and I shared another. She told me that Kara must be kept safe, for the Dark Lord wants an heir and Kara is one of the few capable of granting him one. In the general conversation Bahamut said she could not force anyone to do what they wished not to, but a crucial time is at hand and if we want to make a difference then we must seek out the Oracle of the Broken Spires, only she can tell us what the Dark Lord seeks. Kara asked to talk to the Mistress alone Arenwe and myself went to check on the horses.
A distance away I couldn’t contain myself any longer I asked why Arenwe was such a fool for shunning Kara’s affections. He was confused at my candor. I spoke about Kara’s love for him assuming he not only knew this, but had been in a failed relationship with her. Quickly I learned this was all news to him, but he admitted to being in love with her. I told him to stop being a fool and let her know how he truly feels. Then without a second’s hesitation he marched over to Kara and before Bahamut he passionately kissed Kara.
They both took some time alone to together to walk the ground and as happy I was for Kara and Arenwe I was also eager to speak with Bahamut. I asked her if Mortikus was in a better place and she nodded saying he is both well and proud of me. This granted me tremendous relief considering what he had sacrificed for me. I next asked about other Dragon Knights. She revealed that she knows the location of two others and only where a third was last seen. One is with the rebels in the ruins of Dhaleon and the second is in the Barrens. The third mentioned was last seen two years ago entering Kear Maga, but the magical walls prevent her from seeing with in.
Kara returned alone and upset. I went to the horses to see what was wrong. I explained how I told Arenwe her feelings assuming he had already known. She explained that they lived a life time together in the Harrowing and even bared him a child, but now it feels different. I tried to assure her all would be well and then for the second time today I was shocked. Kara suddenly kissed me. She broke away and apologized before I gathered my wits about me. Even as I write this now I feel guilty. I know I shouldn’t for it wasn’t I who did the kissing, but the Maker help me I did enjoy it. I know my heart truly belongs to Anneka, but had I received a kiss such as that prior to being waylaid by the Je’han rebels who knows how differently my heart would be now.
Arenwe arrived and without ceremony mounted. We said are farewells and set off. The Mistress would give us a path taking us very near the broken spires. I will save the journal the specific details of my foolishness over the next day’s travel. It should have been obvious from Arenwe’s change in attitude and demeanor that his elven eyes had witnessed the kiss between Kara and I. Our innocent actions and affections afterwards must have stabbed at the poor man’s heart wickedly. But before any of this came to light we were attacked by a cult of snake men claiming we were not worthy of the Oracle.
They fought to the last one in a fanatical manner. Kara who had heard legends of the Oracle said this was to be expected. The next morning we reached the spires proper and secured our mounts. In a private conversation Kara had learned about Arenwe seeing the kiss. I tried to speak with him to explain it didn’t mean anything to Kara and was just out of friendship and gratitude. I must have failed at my approached because he refused to speak further about it and stormed off. Kara and I both agreed we should let him cool down before broaching the subject again.
We entered a warded tunnel what laid on the other side was a magical room of doors and several corpses. Carved in the stone floor was written “One path is the lock, One path is the key.” Each door had a different symbol. We tried to open the doors in the order required, but with each failed choice we faced a deadly trap. Arenwe was the first to experience a trap and suffered the worst. More prepared the next time we solved the challenge by opening a door to a large lock and then another door to a key.
Combining both elements we opened the door to knowledge and prepare to enter.