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The Tale of Thunder - Chapter Two (Beyond Kara-Tur - Part Seven: The High Priests of Helm)

Author: 
Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
223

The entire ship was on full alert from last night's incident and the loss of over a dozen crewmen. Killian had told the captain the intruder had been after him, but the captain wasn't certain. The captain thought Killian had just gotten in the way when the dark elf was in the middle of some evil task and the captain was thankful that Killian had stopped him. Killian wasn't certain, but he doubted it.

Those crewmen he had made friends with the day before didn't take any chances. One of them gave him his dagger, and the rest of the day was spent with Killian always close so they wouldn't have to go far in case Killian was in trouble. Despite their precautions, the day went by fairly uneventfully. Nothing happened that night. The next day was equally uneventful aside from when they entered the coasts of Sembia. Several Sembian ships intercepted the Striking Scorpion, asking what their business was. The captain of the Striking Scorpion calmly told them they just meant to drop off several passengers before setting sail north to Vassa.

The Sembian ships then let them pass and resumed their patrols along the coastline. The hills and mountains of Sembia could now be seen along the horizon. The beaches along the Dragon Reach seemed to gain size as time passed and they got ever closer. Another hour passed before they reached the shores.

The Striking Scorpion set anchor several hundred yards away from the sandy beach. A small boat was placed in the water in which Killian, Thunder, and Ethan were rowed to shore along with their horses. The horses were drugged so they wouldn't tip the boat over. When they reached the shore, Thunder briefly touched each horses' side. All the horses suddenly seemed to wake and got to their hooves before hopping off the boat. Killian was amazed at this, but was getting used to Thunder'' having magical powers.

Moving quickly, they saddled up the horses and mounted. Thunder scanned the forest bordering the shores where the sand wasn't very deep and started south. Killian rested his hand on the hilt of his swords, thankful for their presence. He was also glad to be on land again. He had gotten so used to the rocking ship that when he walked on land, he swaggered slightly like a drunk.

Thunder swiftly led the way south along the shoreline. The sun was slowly sinking towards the watery horizon when they spotted the first signs of a city. Long docks with dozens of ships tied to them extended a great distance into the Dragon Reach. The peaks of towers could be seen above the treetops deep in the forest to the right. Thousands of voices could be heard distantly in the depths of the city.

Killian brushed several long strands of hair out of his face as a salty breeze swept across him. Drawing his hair which had grown out freely over time back into a ponytail, he tied his hair to keep it out of his eyes in a similar fashion like Thunder and Ethan always did.

When the entered the Waterside District of town, as Thunder called it, Thunder had them dismount. As they traveled deeper into the city, Thunder explained this. He told Killian they were in the city of Yhuann in the kingdom of Sembia, just south of the Dalelands. In Yhuann, it was considered unhonorable for anyone but soldiers, royalty, and nobles to ride horses in the city.

Killian kept a tight hold of his small money pouch as they traveled the streets. Once before when he had been in Tsurlagol with his father, a pickpocket had snatched his purse. Thinking about his father and home dimly made Killian want to cry. He had forgotten how sick for home he had gotten. Several people glanced and him and hurried by quickly, making Killian realize how badly he was grimacing. Killian wiped his face clear of all emotion and focused on his surroundings.

The streets were bustling with activity. People dressed in colorfully embroidered clothes were everywhere. The men were all dressed in baggy sleeved colorful tunics and pants which were covered from the calves down by leather boots. The women wore dresses with necklines high as well as daringly low. The men all had dark glints in their eyes and stern, hard faces. The women all were fair-faced, some prettier than others, their hips swaying in a flirting manner as they traveled the streets.

Strewn about the crowds were adventurers and mercenaries of sorts. Their faces were lined with scars, their armor dented with use, and their weapons of all sorts hanging at their sides or slung across their backs. Most of them looked very battleworn and held a glint in their eyes that spoke of warriors of great feats.

Throughout all of this, Killian kept silent as they picked their way through Yhuann. It was nearly nightfall when Thunder stopped at an inn, saying it was too late to leave town and start traveling. The sign out in front of the inn depicted a goose with its mouth wide open. The inn was called the Howling Goose. Killian thought that was a very peculiar name for an inn, but followed Thunder and Ethan inside.

The inside of the room was fairly drab, dimly illuminated by several torches. A dozen or so tables with chairs bunched around them were crammed into the common room. The common room was empty with the exception of the innkeeper despite the early hour. The innkeeper was a balding, overweight man with a smile that seemed stuck to his face. The man greeted them and gave them two rooms, one with two beds and the other with one.

The room Killian and Ethan got was fairly basic, consisting of a pair of beds with a small table between the two. A dresser sat along the wall opposite to the beds, a washstand at its side. Both of the beds were fairly lumpy.

The nights seemed to go by slowly. Killian couldn't go to sleep for fear of a dark elf coming and killing him while he slept. That and the uncomfortable, lumpy bed didn't help much.

The night went by uneventfully, as did the rest of the trip to Selgaunt. Killian felt something was afoot from how quiet everything had gotten, but said nothing.

*******

Selgaunt looked to be a city of wealth. Mansions dotted the city and men dressed in silk clothing carrying expensive looking swords were spread throughout the crowds in the street.

The sky was beginning to turn crimson as the sun sank into the horizon. Killian was glad to finally be in Selgaunt; he was getting tired of all the traveling and wanted to stay in one spot for a month or so. Deep inside though, Killian knew that of course would not happen for a very long time.

Despite how late the hour was getting, Thunder said they must keep going. After an hour of traveling the streets, Killian asked where they were going.

"To the Selgaunt temple of Helm," Thunder replied. "It is where several of the High Priests of Helm reside. There are nearly a dozen other High Priests, yet they are at temples far away, along the Sword Coast."

"Why are we on our way to see these High Priests?" Killian asked.

"To confirm you the Forger of Souls. Next to no one knows what tests are needed for that and the High Priests know them all. The Selgaunt temple of Helm also has a vast library and contains the Prophecies for the Forger of Souls. I have long since memorized them all in my studies, yet I assume you would wish to read them as well to know what you are in for as the Forger."

"I'm almost afraid to find out," Killian mumbled.

"Have courage, young one," Ethan smiled up at him. "We both will helm you through it all."

Killian was not reassured.

*******

"If it pleases you to wait here?" the servant asked before bowing and disappearing through the large set of double doors in front of them.

Killian settled down in one of the chairs in the waiting chambers. Thunder and Ethan remained standing in front of the doors several paces away. Killian's feet ached. He'd never walked so long in his entire life. As he sat there rubbing his feet, he reflected briefly on how magnificent the temple had looked when he first saw it.

The temple was enormous, probably the size of a fort. A large wall surrounded the temple itself, four towers at each corner of the wall. A large metal gate hunt over the entrance from where it had been raised. Several dozen men in armor with the symbol of Helm carved into their chest plates or shoulder plates lined the temple grounds as well as the walls, all looking about with expressionless faces.

The temple itself was made of marble. It seemed to glisten in the sun. Large columns lined the entrance to a set of metal framed wooden double doors which had been swung open to allow entry to all. Upon entering, Thunder had stopped a servant and had him lead the way to the High Priests' chambers. The servant was reluctant, yet lead the way.

Killian came out of his thoughts when one of the large doors opened and the servant appeared again.

"The High Priests have granted you permission to enter," the servant said before pulling open one of the doors to admit them in. thunder and Ethan confidently strode through the doorway with Killian trailing, uncertain as how to act.

The room they entered appeared to be a library. Thousands upon thousands of books lined the shelves. The room was not very large, maybe online twice the size of the waiting chamber. At the center of the room was an oak table, three wizened men sitting in well-crafted wooden chairs around it. Several large books sat open in front of each of them, yet from what Killian could see, the words scrawled in them were of a different language.

One of the three was a moon elf, his face elegant and pale. His long white hair was beginning to gray in several spots with centuries of age. He, like the other three was dressed in a blue silken robe. The other two were human, one's white hair beginning to recede and the other man's hair had already reached the receded point.

"Peace be with you, my Lord High Priests of the God of Battle," Thunder placed a fist to his heart and bowed low, as did Ethan. Killian quickly moved to follow suit.

"Peace to you, Paladin Thunder Kayowen," the elf replied without moving from his seat at the head of the table. "What important happenings bring you from your post?"

"It is a matter of great importance, High Priest Elric," Thunder said. "Ethanial and I have been making haste for Impiltur when we came upon a small village. It was then we came across a bow. He is Aeir Ne'hem."

"And what proof have you of this?" the man with the receding hairline asked.

"Ethanial and I took him to Eln Dur-"

High Priest Elric cut him off by standing abruptly. The other two stood, but not as swiftly as Elric.

"You dared to take the boy without permission?" Elric nearly shouted. "You overstep yourself Thunder. The boy had to be tested before he went."

"High Priest Elric," Thunder said. "The boy has been marked. We carry his banner in a saddlebag."

"Is this the boy you speak of?" the man with the receded hairline looked at Killian.

"Yes, High Priest Caild."

"Leave us," Elric said. "We would speak to the boy alone. When we are done, I would ask you to come before us. And you Ethanial Leagallow. I wish to speak with you about disobeying us."

"Yes, High Priest Elric," Thunder bowed and left the room with Ethan, leaving Killian to the mercies of the High Priests.

An uncomfortable silence seemed to settle after Thunder and Ethan left. The three High Priests had taken their seats without offering Killian one and watched him. None of them blinked, nor did their gazes waver. He fidgeted nervously under their scrutiny.

Elric finally spoke. "Tell me, young one, was your father elven?"

"No, sir," Killian answered. "My father was human, yet he spoke something of finding me in a forest with something hunting me when I was very young."

"Elric's eyebrows rose. "Did he now?"

"Yes, sir. He was fevered from a wound he had received when he spoke of it."

"And how did he receive this wound you talk of?"

"Nightcloaks attacked my village, sir. My father fought and was wounded."

"Ahh," Elric nodded and exchanged brief glances with the other two High Priests. "A nightcloak's blade can be deadly. How did you first meet Thunder and his companion Ethanial?"

Killian explained over the space of an hour or two the events which occurred all the way to Selgaunt. Elric was especially interested about the dungeon in which Thunder had taken in through which was called Eln Dur. Once he had finished with his story, Elric was silent for a few moments.

Elric then spoke again. "What you speak of in Eln Dur is true. We cannot deny that. You have the banner with you?"

"It is in one of my horse's saddlebags, sir."

"Very well. I shall send a servant to fetch it so that we may examine it." Elric snapped his fingers.

A servant appeared through the door. "Yes, my Lord?"

"Fetch the banner which is in one of the saddlebags with the horses that arrived earlier tonight."

"Yes, my Lord," the servant bowed before disappearing.

"Come here, Killian," Elric beckoned him. Killian stepped up to his side. "If you would please show me the marks?"

Killian showed him the marks. Elric mumbled to himself as he examined the symbols and ran his fingers along them. Several minutes passed before he spoke loud enough for Killian to hear.

"Make them glow," Elric commanded.

"What?" Killian was shocked.

"Make them glow," Elric repeated.

"Glow?" Killian gasped. "But I know not how!"

"Very well then," Elric said. "I shall show you. Clear your mind of all thoughts. Keep it totally empty. Now, tighten the muscles in your hands and forearms. Focus on the symbol." Killian gasped. The symbols on his hands were glowing a light green color. "You shall see a slight glow surrounding them. Do you see it? Good. That is the symbol's aura. Now then, close your eyes."

Killian did as he was told and Elric continued. "Imagine, if you will, an empty canal. Make sure as to that being the only thought in your mind. Now imagine a barricade in the middle of it extending the whole length of the empty canal, and on the other side of the barricade is the canal water. Notice how it glows brighter than you imagine it to?" It took Killian several tries to maintain the canal and notice the water. He was not used to clearing his mind of all thoughts. The water seemed to sparkle with a greater brightness than Killian had first imagined it with. "The canal water is the essence of the Art, the ability to bend the Weave to your will. All magic users use the Weave to tap into the magical energies and draw power from it. Some have found other images to visualize the Weave with, but I prefer the canal, mundane as it is.

"Now then, life the barricade slightly and focus. Don't lift it too much, we don't need to tap too much energy. Focus on the water as it begins to rush under the barricade. Now reach out with your mind and touch the water as it flows and let its power rush into you."

Killian reached out and touched the water. Nothing happened. He tried again. He gasped when a slight tingle shot through him and his senses seemed more attuned with his surroundings. He could smell Elric, smell the aroma in the air around him. He felt more energetic, but only slightly.

"When you wish to tap more energy, you need only to raise the barricade more. But you are not ready to tap much energy. For now, you must only draw this much until your focus has been tuned enough. You can open your eyes now. Reach out with your mind and touch the symbols on your hands."

Killian stretched his mind out, desperately clinging to the Weave, as Elric called it. He touched the symbols with his handful of the water which he held in his mind. If not for his increased sight from the Weave, he would not have noticed the slight glow that appeared within the symbols. Elric had him keep trying for an hour before stopping him. Killian could make the symbols glow, but not very brightly. Aside from that, he kept losing his grip with the Weave.

"We shall keep trying tomorrow," Elric said, finally rising from his seat. "Once you have that down, I shall do several more tests."

Killian had not known they'd run any tests on him. The other two High Priests had been silent the whole nigh, only watching him with a blank, unwavering expression. Killian could feel sleep tugging at him slightly and nodded.

"You can collapse the image of the canal now," Elric said. "And you may leave to your room. The servant outside will take you to your chambers."

Killian cleared his mind of the canal after releasing his feeble hold with the water. His weariness suddenly stuck him tenfold. His knees gave out from under him, and he barely grabbed a hold of the table to keep him standing.

"Tired?" Caild asked, smiling slightly. "When tapping into the Weave, it always tons down more feelings such as pain as well as weariness. Only when it would be excruciating for one, you would only feel it as a slight prick."

Killian nodded.

"Sleep now," Elric said. "Tomorrow will be a long day."

Killian stepped out of the High Priests' chambers. Thunder and Ethan stood outside the room and stepped in as Killian was lead to his room.

 

The Tale of Thunder: Chapter 2 - Beyond Kara-Tur - Part 7 The High Priests of Helm © Thunder Kayowen(Ryan Goodrich)

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