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by Cmac
Rated: ASR · Draft · Fantasy · #1275621
The begining of a story set in the Forgotte Realms. It still needs work. please review.
This story is set in The Forgotten Realm fantasy setting created by Ed Greenwood. Mr. Greenwood and others have developed The Realms over the past 15+ years. Some names and places will be familiar to fantasy readers. For those of you not familiar with The Forgotten Realms a short geography lesson may be in order.

Toril is the world as a whole. It is seldom discussed, as most people are more concerned with local affairs of state or city. Few people travel farther than their horse can ride in a day and anything beyond that just is not their concern.

Faerun is the largest mainland continent of Toril; it stretches across a large portion of the globe. Faerun is made up of hundreds of Lands, Independent States, City-states, and Territories. The Sword Coast and Trackless Sea form the western border. The Endless Wastes and The Great Sea mark the eastern edge of Faerun.

Evermeet is an elven stronghold across the Trackless Sea to the west. It is generally believed to be the homeland of the elves on Toril. Outside the elven community not much known about Evermeet, it is a closely guarded secret among the elves. The elves of Toril generally keep to themselves; their extremely long life spans as compared to most other races can make relations difficult at best.

Kara-Tur is a smaller far eastern continent situated on the far side of the globe. Kara-Tur has an Asian or far eastern theme and feel. Contact between Kara-Tur and Faerun is extremely rare because of the great distances involved. Few trade caravans are willing to make that long of a journey.

The Journey Home

         As the Kara-Tur caravan slowly crossed the plains of Cormyr a small cloud of dust arose as something crossed the horizon. The object moved with speed directly toward the group. Some of the guards moved to defensive positions. As the distance closed it became clear that it was a lone rider a scout by the look of him. He was ridding hard pushing his mount to the limit. He crossed the plane quickly and soon it was clear that he was an elven scout. As he approached the column he reined in his horse and dismounted. The lone elf sought out Lia immediately and he spoke the language of the High Elves “I was sent to find Lia Galanodel.”

As the Kara-Tur caravan crept across the broad plains of Cormyr, a cloud of dust arose on the horizon; something approached. The object moved with speed directly toward the group. The leader of the guards sounded the alarm and called the guards to take up defensive positions. Lia joined the master-at-arms and looked hard across the plains. As the object closed the distance, the master-at-arms grunted, “It is a lone rider.” and the guards relaxed a bit.

         “A scout by the look of him.” Added Lia as he rode hard, spurring his mount onward with utmost urgency, and drawing even closer, his fine features and graceful demeanor reveled his elven nature. At last, he approached the column, and he swiftly reigned in his horse and dismounted, in front of the master-at-arms and Lia.

“A scout by the look of him.” Lia added. The scout rode hard, spurring his mount onward with utmost urgency. Drawing ever closer, his fine features and graceful demeanor reveled his elven nature. At last, he approached the column, and he swiftly reigned in his horse and dismounted, in front of the master-at-arms and Lia.

He spoke aloud and in the language of the High Elves, “ I have come to find Lia Galanodel.”

Lia was not hard to find among the Kara-Tur people; she stood out quite strikingly. They were similar in physical size but that is where the similarities stopped. The slightly blue tint to her skin, silvery white hair, and cerulean blue eyes with flecks of gold clearly mark her as a moon-elf. The explorers clothing she wore to hide her elven chain armor was all in shades of black and gray as if she were in mourning. She wore her hair in a single braid with a thin silver wire woven into the braid that fell to the middle of her back.

“I am Lia.” She answered in Elven. “Who sent you and why?” Lia’s eyes narrowed and her hand moved to the hilt of her sword.

“I carry a message for Lia Galanodel. It is to be delivered to her hand alone.” The elf looked at Lia for a long moment. “I was told that you carry the signet of your service to the king.”

Lia’s eyes grew wide; it had been over forty years since the king was assassinated. How would this scout know that she still carried the signet of her service? Slowly she removed the silver chain from her neck and pulled the ring out of her shirt. The ring bore a simple symbol, a dagger. Even forty years later, the symbol of the Hwarmaeg en' Aran commanded respect from those who knew what it stood for. Lia held the ring out for the scout to see. “I am Lia Galanodel.”

The scout looked carefully at the ring, then gave a slight bow, reached into a hidden inner pocket, and removed a folded piece of parchment. “This is for your eyes only,” With that he handed over a letter.

The parchment was worn and creased. It had traveled a long distance and passed through many hands but the wax seal was still intact. The wax seal bore the signet of Lady Amaruil Moonflower Queen of the Elves of Evermeet. The sight of the seal shook Lia to the core. It had been forty years since she had seen the seal of the Queen. Lia composed her self and thanked the messenger offering the hospitality of the band to him. The dust of the trail covering him showed he had traveled long and hard to get the letter to her. The rider was glad of the respite he told Lia that he had been ordered to deliver the letter as soon as possible and had tracked her for six weeks before learning of the caravan she was traveling with. Lia thanked the elven scout again then went to the small wagon that she has called home for the past two and a half years to read the letter in privacy.

The parchment was worn and creased. It had traveled a long distance and passed through many lands but the wax seal was still intact. The wax seal bore the signet of Lady Amaruil Moonflower Queen of the Elves of Evermeet. The sight of the seal shook Lia to the core. It had been forty years since she had seen the seal of the Queen. Lia composed her self and thanked the messenger offering the hospitality of the band to him. The dust of the trail covering him showed he had traveled long and hard to get the letter to her.

Lia called the caravan’s head master to care for the scout’s horse. The scout introduced himself as Enialis Nailo. Lia made him as a wood elf immediately. He was Tall with broad shoulders; a coppery tone to his skin, dark emerald green eyes, and his dark brown hair was tied back with a simple leather cord. Not only a wood elf, but also the finely detailed sliver Ash leaf broach that held his cloak marked him as Tal-Thraen. A swift-hunter in the common tongue, only the most elite elven scouts are given that honor.

Enialis changed to common speak once he had delivered the letter. “You are not an easy person to find Lia Galanodel. Thank the gods you took up with this troop or I may have never found you.”

Lia led Enialis to the cooking fire for a hard-earned hot meal. “Its not in my nature to be found at all. In fact, it could be quite dangerous in my line of work. This letter must be important”

“I received it from the Queen’s own hand with the instructions to find you with all due haste. The letter was to be delivered to you alone and no other. The Queen was most adamant that you receive the letter as soon as possible. I did not know that I would be crossing half the world to get it to you. So yes I would guess that it is important.”

“Eat and rest you have done your duty well. You will have the hospitality of the caravan for as long as you choose to stay. The Kara-Tur are good people and you will have no worries while you are here.” Lia thanked Enialis again then went to the small wagon that she has called home for the past Three and a half years to read the letter in privacy.

As she sat in the small wagon, Lia stared at the letter. She could not bring herself to open it. Forty years washed away in an instant. King Zaor lay dead in his private garden, killed by an assassin that Lia had failed to stop. Lia left Evermeet that night in pursuit of the man who had ordered the assassination and she never looked back. Lia had spent forty years tracking that man across two continents and now a letter from the Queen had tracked her nearly half-way around the world. What could it mean? Lia’s hands shook as she slowly opened the letter. Even after all the time that had passed she easily recognized the smooth flowing script of the Queen’s own hand.

         Lia Galanodel,
         It is requested that you return to Evermeet with all speed upon receipt of this letter. You served my husband well, before his passing, he spoke highly of you. Now I am in dire need of your services. Return to Evermeet at once and speak of this to no one. You will serve the Queen’s hand as you once served the King.
         Lady Amaruil Moonflower.

Well there it was, return to Evermeet, a request from the Queen's own hand. Lia could not refuse; she would serve the Queen as she had served her husband King Zaor years before. Lia began to pack her meager belongings. As an agent for the King Lia had learned the value of traveling light, so the packing would not take her long. It would be much harder to say good-by to the Kara-Tur people who had taken her in and allowed her to learn their ways while traveling with them for over three years.

Lia came out of her wagon to meet with the others for the evening meal. She took a seat next to Enialis and introduced him to the elders of the caravan. After Lia made the introductions, She began to explain that she must leave the troop. She told the elders that her Queen had called her to return to service and that was a request Lia could not refuse. There was sadness among the elders who had come to think of Lia as one of their own, but they also understood that honor demanded she follow her duty to her sovereign.

They spent the rest of the evening telling stories and saying good-bys. Enialis was interested in knowing more about the time Lia had spent with the caravan. He listened intently to the stories of her travels.

It was while in Emmech Lia came across a caravan from lands far to the east, a land called Kara-Tur. The people from Kara-Tur had a different outlook on life than any people she had met in Faerun. Their way of life was more like the elven way and Lia was greatly interested in learning more about these strange peoples. She joined the caravan and they began to travel westward. Lia shared her elven culture and beliefs with the elders of the Kara-Tur who were as eager to learn about her, as she was to learn of them.

The elders of the Kara-Tur taught her that the path of revenge that she was following would only end in death and she should seek a better way to redeem her honor. Lia learned much of the eastern ways; she was particularly fascinated with their swordsmanship. She felt almost compelled to learn the fluid, dance like movements that the elders called a kata.

While crossing the Earthspur mountains the caravan was ambushed by a small band of orcs lead by an ogre barbarian, in the brutally violent battle that followed Lia fought valiantly against the Ogre. At nearly nine feet tall, the brute towered over Lia’s five-foot frame. The smell coming from the thick hide, covered in dark warty bumps, the long unkempt and greasy hair was almost overpowering on its own. Lia’s main concern was the blade of the great-axe the monster carried; it was easily as broad as Lia’s shoulders. Lia drew her long sword lowered into a crouch, and began circling looking for an opening in the barbarian’s guard.

In time Lia found the opening, she wanted and was able to deal a fatal strike. In its death throws the ogre struck one last blow that nearly killed Lia and left a long scar across her back. Fortunately, the Kara-Tur were skilled healers and they brought Lia back from the brink of death. As she recovered, she continued to learn the eastern fighting style. The Kara-Tur also had skilled artists traveling with them and their skills with Tattoos were far beyond anything in Faerun. The most talented artisans gave Lia a tattoo of a dragon like none she had ever seen to cover the scar from her battle with the ogre. When Lia had fully recovered the Kara-Tur presented her with the gift of a set of two magical swords for killing the Ogre.

The last things Lia packed were her two swords; the swords were a gift from one of the Kara-Tur elders for bravery in battle. It was more of an ambush than a battle and that bravery had almost cost Lia her life, thank the Moon goddess the Kara-Tur were skilled healers.

This episode opened a door because the gift of the swords came with lessons on how they should be used. Lia was hesitant to accept at first not just the swords but the lessons as well.  As an agent in the Hwarmaeg en' Aran Lia had been trained to kill in brutally efficient ways. Lia quickly learned that the Martial style of the Kara-Tur extended beyond the battlefield, it was more of a lifestyle. Lia was a quick study and in nearly three years of study, she had mastered many skills that would serve her in life as well as on the battlefield, she had also developed quite a bond with these people from the Far East. Leaving would be one of the hardest things Lia had ever done.

The elders each in turn gave their blessing to Lia and her journey. The last of the elders to speak to her was Oceama he had been her teacher in swordsmanship and the other martial arts of the Kara-Tur. “Lia child now is the time for you to give up your foolish quest for vengeance. Use this opportunity to redeem your honor. Do not choose the path that leads to death."

“Master Oceama your words are wise and true; but if I cross paths with that traitorous Kymil Nimesin the day will end in death for one of us.”  Lia saw sadness in her teacher’s eye. Lia knew that her teacher would not understand the blood debt she owed.

Lia had been a member of the Hwarmaeg en’ Aran. The literal translation would be main-gauche, or a left handed parrying dagger, of the King. A small extremely secret group created by King Zaor shortly after his rise to the throne. As the name implies the main purpose of the group was the immediate protection of the king, his closest personal bodyguards. The group also has a secondary purpose that is to undertake covert missions to defend the kingdom. All members were sworn to secrecy and to serve and defend the king and kingdom with their lives if necessary.

Lia’s last assignment for the King was to infiltrate and gather information on the Nimesin clan of gold elves. Lia had gained the trust of the Nimesin family and was carefully gathering all the information she could when Kymil Nimesin ordered the assassination of King Zaor. Lia did not learn of the assassination orders until it was too late to save her King. Lia made a valiant effort to return to Evermeet and head of the assassins but she arrived too late, only moments after the discovery of the King’s body in his garden. Feeling a great sense of failure Lia left the service of the royal family and fled Evermeet in shame. She followed Kymil Nimesin across Faerun for nearly forty years. She got close enough on a few occasions to try to take his life but he would slip away at the last second.

Night had fallen while Lia finished saying her good-bys. She walked slowly with Enialis toward his tent. “Enialis, you know I must leave with the rising sun,” Lia placed her hand on Enialis’ shoulder and looked into his eyes, “but you have the luxury of time. Make the most of your return home.” Lia held his eye for a moment longer, “Safe journey Tal-Thraen” with that Lia turned for her own wagon.

         Lia said her good-bys as quickly as she could; make the break as quick and painless as possible. She need to put a lot of road behind her before the sunset, if the truth were told she would ride on well after sunset. It would take nearly a week to reach Baldur’s Gate riding day and night. Lia hope to make it on to Waterdeep before the third week passed. A week’s hard ridding brought Lia to The Gate, a port town on the river Chiorthr. More than ships and trade goods passed through port cities, information moved through even faster than the trade goods. Information was what Lia needed almost more than she needed to rest after the last week’s hard ride.

As the sun rose, Lia rode hard and fast to the west covering as much ground as she could. She had half a continent to cross before she would reach the Sword Coast and the port cities where she could find passage to Evermeet. This was time that Lia could use to her advantage; she needed to know what has been going on in Evermeet since she left so long ago, what could be pressuring the Queen that she would send half-way around the world to bring back an agent that had left the service and gone rogue.

Most of all she wanted to know what had happened to Aramil Liadon; he was the founder of Hwarmaeg en' Aran, or The King's Dagger as it was known in the common tongue. Aramil Liadon was also Lia's mentor; she had learned her skills at his right hand from a very young age.

Aramil must be advising the Queen he is the only one who could have given the Queen her name and he is the only one who had the contacts to track her across half the globe. Well Lia had learned from the best and her network of contacts, informants, and squealers was almost the equal of Aramil's and she planned to squeeze as much information as she could, out of everyone of them that she found alive on her journey back across the continent. Lia would have answers to her questions before she met the Queen.

Lia would travel first to Baldur’s Gate, a seedy little port town on the Sword Coast. Ships and trade goods were not the only thing that moved through ports; if there were, information to be found you would find it easily on the docks. Travelers were always willing to talk to a pretty face and Lia used that to her advantage. Lia also knew some old Hwarmaeg en' Aran contacts in Baldur’s Gate that would be as good a place as any to start. Lia could make The Gate by week’s end if she rode hard.

A week’s worth of hard ridding brought Lia to Baldur’s Gate. It was a busy little town on the Sword Coast. Lia had passed through the town several times, so she knew her way around well enough. The first rays of the sun were peeking over the horizon as she made her way through the narrow streets. Lia’s entrance to the town went unnoticed by everyone except a few stray dogs and a one-eyed cat. The earliest risers were yet to stir and the latest revelers would have passed out at least an hour ago.

The stableman happened to be one of the late revelers, no matter how hard Lia tried to wake him he just continued to snore. Lia took matters into her own hands as she lead her tired mount to a clean, empty stall. She found food and fresh water for her horse, and then she unsaddled and carefully brushed out the horse’s coat. In the past week, she had ridden harder than she had in over forty years and the horse had never once given up on her. The animal had earned a little tender care and a well-deserved rest. On her way out Lia considered kicking the chair out from under the sleeping stable hand, but instead she left a handful of copper coins on his chest, to cover the cost of the food, water, and use of the stall. Lia quietly moved on toward the docks, the sun was creeping higher in the sky; and all Lia wanted was a quiet place to rest herself.

Lia made her way to The Mariner’s Inn; she knew that Mac would have a room for her no matter what ungodly hour she showed up. Todd MacGinnes was a good man, he ran a clean tavern, and almost never asked questions. Lia entered the empty common room. Noticing the dying embers in the hearth, she quietly crossed the room and added a few pieces of wood to the fire just to take the chill out of the air.

Lia knew Mac was in the kitchen busily preparing for the day; she quietly made her way behind the bar and knelt down to carefully examine the floorboards. In a couple of seconds she found what she was looking for; the loose board was easily pried up and Lia retrieved the dusty bottle hidden below. Lia shook her head as she thought to herself; He still hides the good stuff in the same place. Lia poured two shots then returned the bottle to its hiding place.

Lia listened to the noise from the kitchen as she made her way back around the bar and seated herself comfortably on a stool. Then she bellowed at the top of her lungs: “MacGinnes! Get your lazy, louse-ridden body out here! You’ve got a customer!” There was the resounding crash of something very heavy being slammed onto a table followed by a string of curses and threats that would have struck fear into the heart of most men. Lia sat on the stool and smiled.

The cursing stopped mid-stream as an old man entered from the kitchen. “I should have known it was a snot-nosed school girl from the screeching.”  A smile began to slowly cross the old man’s face as he walked down the bar. As he came to the shot glasses, he took a long moment to look over the lady across the bar. “Lia Galanodel, out of all of the pirates, prostitutes, and sailors that have passed through this bar none of them look as rough as you do.”

Lia looked her old friend in the eye and said, “Well the years haven’t kind to you either graybeard.” Lia often thought the short lives of humans a cruel joke of the gods. She was three times as old as the man across the bar but could easily pass as his granddaughter. “Drink up old man, if you can handle it.”

“I’ll drink you under the table any day, little girl.” He smiled and downed the shot. “What brings you to my place after all these years, anyway?”

Lia smiled back and drank. "We'll have to talk about that later old friend. I've got a week's worth of hard riding to scrub off my skin, and at least as much sleep to catch up on. Now fetch the key to my room and I'll draw some water." As Lia got the water, she thought again, how the years had worn her old friend. This could be the last time she saw Mac and she didn't have near enough time to make it right. She returned from the well and met Mac at the bottom of the stairs.

"Here is your key. You still know your way around. Up the stairs, end of the hall, last door on the left." He knew that the lady elf would remember as if it were yesterday: forty years was like the blink of an eye to the fair folk. The wildest rumors he had heard said some elves could live for more than a thousand years. Mac found that hard to believe himself, but still he wondered how many life times his friend had seen.

Lia took the key from her old friend and slipped gold coins in to his hand, enough to rent the room for two weeks. She knew that she would be gone long before that time was up. "Now get back in that kitchen. I'll be expecting a hot meal when I wake."

"Lass, shut your hole and get up those stairs before I have to put you in your place," Mac laughed as he returned to the kitchen while Lia mounted the stairs to her room.

Lia locked the door behind her. Then crossed the small room to the window and closed the shutters. Lia looked around the room; it was much the same as it had been the last time she was here. A single bed, small desk, a washstand with towels and linens, and a bureau against the wall were all that furnished the room. Lia went to the washstand and spent what seemed like an eternity with the soap and water before she felt clean enough to relax. She dressed only in a silk kimono that was dark blue with black trim. She checked the locks on the door and window one last time. Then she settled into the deep meditative state that passes for sleep among the elves.

The hours pass with out notice. The sun rises to mid-day, and then falls well into the evening before Lia stirred. She rose and slowly stretched her lean form. Lia began the daily exercises learned from the Kara-Tur. The slow dance like movements known as a kata were meant to train the body and focus the inner energies. Lia completed her routine and she felt more refreshed than she had in over a week.

Lia pulled on her boots, and slipped a master quality dagger into the right one. She checked herself in the mirror and tightened the sash around her waist. The armor would stay in the bureau for now. She was only going to the common room of the tavern for a long talk with an old friend. Lia wished that she had more time to swap stories with Mac, but she needed to get as much information as she could. Then get moving to Waterdeep as soon as she could. She picked up the fan from the desk; the steel blades were razor sharp, but the causal observer usually failed to notice that until his throat had been cut. Mac would get a real kick out of this little piece of work.

The sun is meeting the horizon as Lia enters the nearly empty common room. Mac’s oldest son John has come in to help during the busy nighttime hours. John had been Mac’s only son the last time passed through. She remembered he was just learning to stand on his own; now he was a grown man. Lia crosses to the bar and asks John to tell his father that an old friend was here to see him. Then she took a seat at a table in the far corner.

John returns from the Kitchen with his father and points in Lia’s direction. Mac nods and sends John to finish what he was doing in the kitchen. Mac kneels down behind the bar for a moment, when he rises; he has a dusty bottle in his hand. He takes two glasses from a shelf behind the bar and makes his way to Lia’s table.

“Well, you look a damn sight better than you did this morning. Lia I swear I’d given you up for dead and then here you go dragging your grimy, smelly, sorry looking self in from, god knows where in the nine hells you’ve been, for the last forty years. Now I know the rumors are true.” Mac pours three fingers in each glass as he speaks.

Lia sits back with a puzzled look on her face. “Rumors? What are you talking about Mac?” Lia eyes the glass in front of her but she is far more interested in the answer to her question.

“You know I’m well past the cloak and dagger days Lia, but the fair folk know the name MacGinnes and they aren’t afraid to speak freely around the old man. So I hear things others might miss. The words on the wind say that the crown is in danger, and I know that the only thing that could drag you back from whatever hell it is that you exiled yourself to is a true threat to the crown.” Mac empties his glass then pours another three fingers.

Lia frowns deeply, overcome with shock. “Mac you’ve got to tell me everything, what has happened? How have things gotten so out of hand? What is going on? And how in the name of god do you know about this already? I received the Queen’s summons only a week ago.”

“Drink up old friend. You’re going to need it for this story.”

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