Overview - Joining - Werecreatures - History
Covenance is a guild of hunters who have pledged their lives to Tyrin and doing his bidding of ridding the lands of the unnatural presence of Were Creatures and Vampires.
- Pen a scroll to the Covenance stating your intentions.
ALL known werecreatures will be hunted.
The following sanctions will be permitted:
|Tyrin's Messenger||A Prophecy Fulfilled|
|Dirzen||Mistress of the Hunt|
Nivera awoke to strange voices. Around him in his dark chamber were the voices of the dead, chanting. Jumping out of bed, he dashed across the room to the door. It was locked. He cried out at the night, and the chanting rose in his ears, and he collapsed , unconscious.. And Nivera awoke on sweat- stained sheets. He shivered and coughed. After a few minutes, a man in the dark robes of the Jinis priests, followers of Tyrin's path, rushed into the room.
"You have had another dream, Nivera. This place is not safe for you," the man said in a hushed voice.
Looking up at the priest, Nivera muttered, "No place is safe anymore. The dreams haunt me, and they get more vivid. What will I do, Father?" He clasped the priest's hand anxiously, as if the man's wrinkled clutch would shield him from harm.
"My son, you will fight. What plagues you will pass or you shall meet it and destroy it." The man smiled as he spoke and got up to leave. He uttered an incantation of protection, a ward against daemons and left the room and Nivera. As he closed the mighty oaken doors and barred them shut another priest approached him. He was short, and stocky, built for combat, but his eyes told of a kind soul, and his hands were those of a healer, soft and nimble.
"Are you sure? Is this necessary? I mean.. that poor boy, he's... he's dying," the new priest said in an anxious voice, fear trembling into his words. "If he is the prophet, the one foretold of... then all of it is necessary. He is our hope, and Tyrin's messenger," the older priest replied, and shrugged with the same weary nature as his response. "Rest safely, Juthan... the days ahead will be trying."
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But Juthan could not rest, and in the twilight he returned to Nivera's chamber. From within, he could hear the worried weeping of the child and longed to comfort him. Looking to make sure no one else was around, he removed the bar from the door and slipped into the boy's room. The moment he stepped into the room, Juthan felt a cold shiver run down his back. Stopping mid-step, he let out a low moan. Pounding in his ears, the voices of the dead shrieked at him. In an instant, he knew what the boy felt in the horror of the night. He rushed to the boy's bed, and woke him brusquely. When the boy's eyes fluttered open, the voices stopped their death-chant and Juthan stared at the disheveled child. Without a word, the young priest picked the child up, and carried him from the chamber. Avoiding insomniac priests and scholars, the priest ran to the stables and saddled a horse. He lifted the boy onto the horse,and took the reins with sad anxiety.
"We must be quiet Nivera, I will keep you safe." In the darkness of night, Juthan rode. He was not sure of his destination, but he knew that to leave Nivera with the Jinis would kill the child. With his nuckles white in the grip he held on the reins, Juthan prayed to Tyrin for guidance. But before dawn a great storm fell on the travelers, and they were forced to take refuge in a protected glade.
Lying in Juthan's arms, Nivera fell into a deep sleep, and this time no nightmarish voices plagued his dreams. And in the night Juthan started a fire and stood watch over the child , resolute in his decision to rescue Nivera. Early in the morning, Nivera woke from his slumber and began to ask for food. Juthan gave him the meal he had prepared. The boy ate the food and promptly fell asleep again. Juthan returned to his watch. Awaking hours later, Nivera grew feverish. A master cleric, Juthan cast his healing spells upon Nivera to no avail. Whatever was ailing the boy was ungodly. Concerned for Niveras health, Juthan announced they would remain in the glade until the fever passed.
"I can go on," Nivera protested.
"Your care is my concern, you can not travel. We will stay the night," said Juthan. He wrapped Nivera in blankets and fed him again. Dusk came, and the first dark fingers of night crept into the campsite. Suddenly, a form coalesced in the center of the glade. Juthan jumped to face the intruder. She was a woman in her thirties, still strong and quick. Pale skin and the smell of decay made her appearance sickly. With Juthan's advancement, she walked quickly towards him, hissing and growling. She leapt at the priest, but as though hitting an invisible wall, she was flung backwards several feet. In a fit of coughing, Nivera awoke. He stared at the interloper with wide eyes. Then, suddenly, he shook his head, and whispered, in a voice almost too quiet to hear, "Leave."
The woman stood her ground, but as the boy spoke the words, she flinched. "We have waited a long time for you, child. Kiyanne will be pleased when I drink of your blood."
Nivera rose to his feet and walked towards the woman, "Leave!" he said once more, with power in his voice. The woman laughed hideously, and took an anxious step towards Nivera. "Leave!" shouted Nivera. As his words traveled the glade, he raised his hands to the sky and summoned a ball of energy. Concentrating his eyes on the energy, he flung it towards the woman. She hissed at the attack, but dodged it successfully.
"I will destroy you, Tyrin-child! I will steal your soul and your power, and then I will be the true night-walker..." but as she spoke, the life fell out of her. Nivera pulled himself from the attack he'd used against the vampire, and collapsed to the ground. Juthan stood on the edge of the glade with apprehension, then rushed towards Nivera's body. He clutched the boy in his hands and shook his fragile frame.
"Please wake up, Nivera...Tyrin save him."
Nivera's body seized and his face contorted, but his eyes opened. With a weak voice, he said, "And now you have seen the power of Tyrin, and I will finish the prophecy."
Rising to his feet, the boy's voice took new power, "You see, my child, Nivera was not the prophecy but the prophet. Now I, Tyrin the Creator, will speak to you words long forgotten. That which I have slain," the boy nodded at the dead vampire, "are the disease of the Earth, and no longer shall I allow my Imperfection to walk this land. Juthan, you are the one prophesized. You will Cleanse the world of these beasts and their plague- borne kin, the lycanthropes. Once, long ago, the original Jinis were my warriors, and they named themselves Covenance after the pact they had made with me. You will continue the Covenant, and Cleanse this land."
Before Juthan could reply, the boy's body went limp. Nivera, the first Prophet of Covenance, died.
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One thousand years ago, the Covenance was reborn. With Juthan scouring the lands for fellow warriors he began one of many great wars with Damnation. In the times before Arinock was founded, when Thalos was but a small village, there grew a sprawling metropolis to the north. Thousands crowded through the city, and in it, Juthan found his home, and began recruiting. When his numbers reached one hundred skilled and trained soldiers and clerics, he went into the Northern Wastes in search of foul prey. With reports of a long hidden city of Vampires, his forces marched into dead tundra.
Within a week, they neared their quarry without incident. Juthan, never one to blindly accept gifts, worried about such luck. He sent out scouts, and each returned with the same results: the city was there, it was guarded, and they'd seen none of the vampires outside of the city. Each time Juthan heard that report, the knot in his stomach grew. He told his men to break for the day, and he scouted ahead for himself. Topping a ridge, the old cleric surveyed the city. It was indeed there, and there were indeed guards. He was just about to return to his troops when a group of vampires surrounded him, "You will come with us."
They marched him into the city, but as he crossed the draw-bridge, he saw the guards were nothing more than scarecrows, armor filled with straw. Calcula- ting every instant, counting each step, memorizing each of the many rooms they passed through, Juthan was escorted into a vast, empty chamber. On a thrown of bones and steel, sat a relaxed man, old but still quite strong. He grinned with sharp fangs at the guest his servants had brought him, "Hello, Juthan... I've heard a lot about you, and your efforts. I am so glad you bring fresh blood to my men. Throw him in the dungeon, so he may hear the screams of his soldiers and allies. We shall deal with him later."
Two vampires took hold of Juthan's arms and dragged him down to the dungeon. Tossing him in a cell they immediately began planning to kill him and savor his blood while their brothers fought the battle. Juthan examined his predicament, and the room used to hold his body. In a corner of the room, hunched over and emaciated, was a young man. His clothes were little more than rags, and he stared at Juthan wildly, as though he was ready to bolt away at any moment.
Juthan offered his hand, in a peaceful gesture, "Hello, my name is Juthan." He smiled as he spoke his name. The man looked at his hand, looked at Juthan, then backed farther into the corner. "I'm not going to hurt you... what have they done to you?" Juthan looked over the man once more, bruises covered his body and on his neck were two tiny fang marks. Under his breath he muttered, Bloodwretchers. Once more he offered his hand, "I am your friend, I will help you escape this forsaken place." At the word escape, the man's eyes lit up. Some resemblance of control came over his body and he looked at Juthan for the first time with eyes of intelligence.
Escape? he barely rasped, as though he had not spoken in a very long time.
Juthan nodded, "Escape."
My... my name is... is... Varien, he croaked softly. Nodding once more, Juthan looked over the man. "Look, Varien, soon this castle will be besieged, we need to escape... and I don't know if I'll live through the battle if we don't.
Varien nodded dully, "I wish to escape."
Suddenly, the door lurched open. In came the two guards which had escorted Juthan into the dungeon. "It is time for dinner," one of the guards grinned.
With a wink at Varien, Juthan knocked one of the guards to the floor. Holding him to the ground, he summoned the magick of Tyrin and pulled the conscious- ness from the vampire. Looking over at Varien and his opponent he was stunned. Varien too was using the power of Tyrin. The vampire turned to flee, but Juthan tackled him. After making sure they were unconscious, Juthan took one of their swords and hacked their heads off. "Come, we must move quickly."
Travelling through the twisting and turning halls which Juthan had memorized on his arrival, they met little opposition . But what was met, they killed.
The siege has already begun. They raced to the entrance. As they arrived, Juthan dashed onto the drawbridge. A low moan rumbled from his belly. Upon the battlefield, a covering of blood had turned the grass red. A few of his men were still alive and retreated to a cliff-face with nowhere to go. The forces of the vampires outnumbered them three to one. In a moment of rage, Juthan used his power to destroy the castle, and to set fire to it, killing all within. Then, he grabbed Varien's arm and ran at full speed towards his men, but as he arrived the very last was slaughtered.
The vampires leading the assault numbered more than thirty, each looked at Juthan and Varien.
Run, Juthan whispered under his breath.
Varien stood silently beside Juthan, immobile and resolute. The vampires rushed at them. As the first one got within two yards of Varien, it fell to the ground writhing in pain. All of the rest fell to the ground too.
We must go...quickly, Varien rasped.
Juthan just stared at Varien. Suddenly, he snapped out of it and began running. He did not stop until they had returned to their home. Varien simply nodded at Juthan's inquiries and remarked, "This is what the dreams were about."
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Years passed and battles raged. Varien proved to be a strong leader as well as a cunning tactician. With each new year his powers grew stronger until one day he stopped taking food or water.
Tyrin's love is sustenance enough, he said softly. Juthan nodded. He had accepted his new role, training the soldiers for battle with ease. But he remembered Nivera and feared for Varien's safety because of his visions.
After nearly five hundred years, the numbers of Covenance had grown strong again, large enough to start a full war. But this time Juthan would not allow his men to lay siege a castle. Instead , he hoped to fight in the open. Speaking with Varien over this, they worked out a plan. Juthan would march his men onto the plains south of the city, and Varien would perform the Ritual of Summoning, an ancient spell nearly forgotten since that day.
On a cool, brisk morning, Juthan marched with nearly three hundred men onto the Southern Plains. Varien followed slowly, preparing himself for the ritual.
I will begin presently, he said quietly, saving all of his strength for the act. With that, Varien began the long ritual, singing incantations and gesturing to the Earth. Juthan's men waited patiently for battle, each checked his equipment again, and polished their weapons. Dusk came to the plains. Varien spoke to the men, "The vampyrs wilt soon arrive."
A dark mist began creeping across the plain, and every man jerked to attention, for all could sense the mist was unnaturally evil. In the center of the plain, the mist coalesced, and a large group of vampires stood clad in armour and ready for battle. But in the center was a pale man, with black eyes that smoldered with hate. Power emanated from him, and all of his soldiers waited for his orders. He walked into the center of the battlefield, ten yards from his troops.
Juthan, you have slain my kind before. My children will suffer no more from your hand. Varien your visions are lies, the night walkers will rule this land and we both know it. Tyrin," the man spat the words, "cares not for you, he's an egotist bent on perfection. I am his accursed child of Moran. I am Kiyanne."
Juthan's troops faltered for a second. The word Kiyanne held great power. Looking towards Juthan, Kiyanne nodded and shouted orders. The battle had begun.
All around Kiyanne skirmished were fought and any who stepped within his reach died quickly. But Juthan's soldiers against his vampires did well. All through- out the battle, Kiyanne held his eyes fixed on Juthan. Slowly, as Juthan's men finished Kiyanne's forces, the eldest Vampire began marching towards Juthan. He raised his sword for battle. "Juthan, you are the oldest of the Covenance, and I am the oldest of my race. I challenge you to a duel."
Without thinking, Juthan shouted, "I accept!"
Kiyanne and Juthan began exchanging sword blows, parrying one another and dodging their opponent's attack. As Juthan wore down, a glint of humour rushed across Kiyanne's eyes. Juthan caught the look and followed Kiyanne's blade as it arched for attack. Judging its course, Juthan leapt to his feet and ran to challenge the slash meant for Varien. Kiyanne was stunned by Juthan's speed and could not change his slash in time, it missed its mark and mortally struck Juthan.
Juthan smiled at Varien, "You are safe my friend, run."
As Juthan fell to the ground, the last sight he saw was of Kiyanne sending the plain into fire, and he smelled his own flesh burning. Then his eyes closed for the last time.
Now Varien prepares his troops, with the help of elder Hunters Dirzen and Derugh. Perhaps soon it will be time for another great war against the Damned. Varien, the second prophet of Covenance, has lost his power to foretell the future, but he stands unyielding to the powers of Damnation. Wise and still strong, and those who are indeed Cursed will not rest safely while Varien still lives.
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Dirzen paused in the entrance to his family's hill-house, a hill-house that was roomier than but not unlike the underground caves where most drows lived. The false dawn had grayed the sky behind him as he returned home after a night of hunting for his family. He dropped two rabbit carcasses by the door as he drew a sharp, deadly dagger from its sheath. He smelled the cold draft of air warily: something was wrong, very wrong.
The scent of fear and--was that blood?--mingled with an odor he didn't quite recognize wafted out on the cold air. Dirzen couldn't see much beyond the short entrance hallway that ensured the home remained dark during daylight. He moved into the unfamiliar smells and the air resisted his presence.
The main room looked the same as it always did, though he noticed that the dishes from the last meal were still on the table. His mother usually kept the place cleaner than that. There was a deep gouge in the wooden table, as if someone had raked a knife--or a claw--across the wood. Dirzen dropped his hunting bow and spear by the fireplace. The ashes from an old fire still smoldered on the hearth. He looked around uneasily--everything was too still.
Dirzen's dark, elven-pointed ears perked as he heard a small noise from one of the back bedrooms. He passed his own room and his brother's. The noise had come from his parents' room, and he could still make out faint sounds. v The devastation he had expected in the first room was here instead: furniture was smashed into splinters, gouges lined the floor, and blood splattered the walls. Even his mother's collection of precious stones had been destroyed and ground to dust. The gems were nothing more than sand.
His parents lay in the middle of the rubble. With a quick glance, Dirzen saw that his father was dead and beyond help. Whoever attacked the family had gouged open his father's chest and cut his neck to pieces. His mother, though, had made the whimpering sound that drew Dirzen into the back room to begin with. She was trying to crawl away from whoever had entered the room, but her efforts were futile. They only managed to shift a few splinters on the pile.
Ma? Dirzen said, swallowing his anger. For a moment.
She turned her once-beautiful face toward him. They had taken her eyes. Dirzen blinked, but the sight remained the same. They had taken her eyes. Under his breath, he swore he would take the eyes and life of whoever had done this to his parents. Then he was by her side, cradling her broken body in his arms and supporting her sightless head against his chest.
Dirzen baby, is that you? his mother asked. Her voice was a thready whisper.
Yes Ma, yes Ma, he repeated over and over, smoothing her blood-clotted hair with his hand. She didn't have long to live. "Everything's going to be okay. What happened?"
She didn't comment on the lie, so they both let it slide. "Where's your Pa? she asked.
Over there, resting. He's hurt, like you, but everything'll be okay. What happened?"
Room . . . filled with mist and bats. Thought the chimney was blocked. But then--so many people in the room." Her voice trailed off, and she fought for air.
Were-creatures and vampires, Dirzen realized. He felt numb. He thought he and the other hunters had driven the last of their kind out of the forest moons ago.
After a moment, she caught her breath and resumed the tale. "Your--brother and father--fought well, but there were too many, too many. I saw them draining your brother's blood before they took my eyes. Then I heard the pain. Felt it in my blood. Oh, Dirzen, I'm so scared. I've never seen such terrible things." Her body shook with silent sobs, so Dirzen held her close. He held her hand and smoothed her hair while he repeated over and over that things would be better. He didn't let her go until her last breath left her body. Then he laid her carefully on the pile of rubbish and moved his father beside her.
Dirzen searched the rest of the hill-home for his brother but found no trace of Ryzor, not even a corpse. Which meant only one thing: they had taken his brother as one of their slaves. Vampires could drain the body of most of its blood, then resurrect its health and keep it as a slave.
He paused in the middle of the empty, ruined home and growled angrily. Hunter instincts were taking over. He wanted to track down and kill the creatures who had hurt his family. In a red haze, he gathered all of his weapons together and placed them in a travel bag. Then he set fire to the house. The fiery tribute was normally reserved for warriors who had died in battle, but Dirzen didn't have time for a funeral if he wanted to track his parents' murderers. He would follow his brother's tracks. Minions rarely acquired the ability to shape change immediately, if ever.
Dirzen paused at the doorway again, this time facing out instead of in. False dawn had given way to real dawn. The sun lit the sky with fire so it glowed red and orange through the trees. He blinked, unaccustomed to the bright daylight. But he couldn't turn back: the house was a furnace. So he searched the area around the home until he found his brother's tracks. The slow, dragging steps of a weakened man that led into the forest.
Dirzen let out a blood-curdling howl--hunter on the trail of his sworn enemy. He disappeared into the forest that still rang with the sound of his vow to hunt his enemies to the death.
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I approached Valasia as she was packing her belongings. Her large wolf-hound, Mahdi, immediately barked and attempted to attack me. The raise of her hand quieted him and he sat and eyed me.
"He is trained to seek the Damned. He can smell your cursed blood." She said in her usual aloof manner.
I only chuckled and kept my cool, I hadn't come here to argue.
"I heard you were leaving, Valasia, I've come to ask you your story for the book on Covenance."
She arched one of her slender eyebrows and ran a delicate hand through her fiery red hair. "Well, I suppose they do have a right to know something about me."
And so here is the story of Valasia a'Leran, Mistress of the Hunt.
"I was born Valasia Neve a'Leran, first and only child of Barine and Marecia a'Leran. My parents were wealthy merchants, widely respected for their wares and fair prices."
"My mother had worked as a seamstress and my father was a retired Hunter, one of the first to serve under Lord Varien. I didn't know my father as I was growing up, he had left home when my mother was pregnant with me."
"I suppose I grew up as a sort of tomboy. I played with swords and bows instead of dolls and tea sets. I had always admired my father's work and was fascinated with the stories my mother would tell me about slaying werebeasts and vampires. I took up an actual bow when I was 12 and made my first kill with it. I believe it was a rabbit and we had it for dinner that night."
(Valasia pauses to chuckle at my frown.)
"A week after my 18th birthday, I met my father for the first time. He was a weathered Hunter and I was in awe at his skill with weapons. I suppose he was impressed with my skill with the bow because after a demonstration he introduced me to Lord Varien."
"I expressed my interest in taking up my father's trade and I was Apprenticed to Lord Varien himself. We won't go into what happened there."
(Valasia grins and I cough and pick a piece of lint off my skirt.)
"I served with him for many years until my father died. My mother could not handle the business herself, so I retired to once again follow in my father's footsteps."
(Valasia pauses to sigh.)
"We were apart for years, Varien and I, and you can imagine my surprise when he came knocking on my door one stormy night. You see, he decided it was time to gather Hunters in a land far to the East and that he would like me to lead the current group. I couldn't refuse him, so I left that night, leaving my mother in the care of relatives."
"All went well, I suppose, but I don't think the new Hunters accepted me as their leader. They were used to a male figure, some even doubted my orders."
"I soon put a stop to that. Anyways, I received a scroll two nights ago. Varien has been wounded and wants me by his side. So, I've contacted Appenfell and he will be here after I leave to make Covenance stronger than I could. I'm quite sure you are delighted to hear that, Daughter of Rhian."
I only smiled and gathered up my scrolls, quills and ink, curtsied, thanked her for her time and let her continue her business.
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The council of elders looked from one to the other each wore the outward appearance of concern for the young girl standing before them, but she could see behind their masks, they were afraid of her. Aetherlyn stood silently her hands crossed before her head bowed slightly as she watched them from beneath her lashes. These people had known her family for generations and today rather than taking her in as they had done for other children orphaned by the plague they were going to send her away.
Elder Sharone stood finally and with his most fatherly voice he decreed that she was to be sent to monastery of the Covenant. It was best for everyone of course, there just wasnt room among the families that were left and she at eight years of age was too young to stay on her parents farm alone. Aetherlyn accepted her fate with head bowed. She had seen this whole thing played out in a vision two days ago. That was why they were afraid she walked hand in hand with Tyrin.
Aetherlyn rode on the back of the hay wain her legs swinging as it jostled over the rocks and ruts. The road was not well used coming from her village to the monastery, many of her people feared the hunters. She didnt, Aetherlyn knew they were learning to serve HIM as she wanted to learn to serve. She didnt imagine that she would one day be a hunter
herself, but perhaps a scribe or nun in service to Tyrin. There was as much glory for her in a menial job serving Tyrin as there was for any full hunter.
Lord Varien stood in his chamber looking down at her. He was glorious in his robes and armor. Sweat beaded his brow from the yard practice her arrival had interrupted. He quietly scanned the scroll stopping briefly to peer at her over the top of it. Aetherlyn held very still under his gaze knowing that he might turn her away from the glory of Tyrin but never from HIS side. With a flick of his wrist her deftly rolled the scroll and moved to a locked trunk beside the desk. 'So child are you cursed?' Aetherlyn felt as if the wind had been knocked from her, she stood gaping like a landed fish. He frowned when she did not answer. 'The elders of your village think you are cursed. Why would they?' Aetherlyn flushed with anger, she knew a little about the curse Lord Varien spoke about and she was not some filthy beast in man's clothes.
'I speak with Ty-someone in something like dreams! I am no beast!' Lord Varien stopped short, letting the trunk lid drop noisily, Aetherlyn jumped at the sound. He stood for a moment and studied her quietly.
'L-lord Varien I wish to serve. I know I am just a girl and not strong enough to be a hunter and I know some of my letters and I can do lots of chores and-'
'Enough. Enough, you will be sent to the nuns on the far side of the grounds. There you will be put to work, you will earn your keep and your
letters or you will be sent away.' He paused pointedly, 'Do you understand?' Aetherlyn nodded violently.
Mistress Arnuld stood on the northern battlements looking out over the field at the approaching mob. 'She was right again. How many visions does the child have to reveal before you accept she is blessed by Tyrin?' Her anger overcame her fear for amoment as she turned away from the oncoming mob. 'Varien you are fool to not use the gifts Tyrin gives you.' Lord Varien looked back across the field. He hadnt questioned the childs vision this time. He looked into the courtyard at swelling ranks of hunters. Some men were returning to defend the monastery only just this moment. Tyrin had given them all just enough warning.
Lord Varien slammed his fist into his desk sending the small crystal knick- nacks clattering across its polished surface. Aetherlyn stood unflinching before him her eyes straight ahead. 'Damnit child why did you do this?' he held out a hand full of golden hair.
'I am not a child Lord Varien.' She kept her eyes pinned to the wall above his head but she swallowed hard as she struggled with her fear.
'No you are not a child. You are a young lady and a healer. Why wont you act like it? he gave an exasperated sigh. You know you could have been killed!'
'Are you angry Lord Varien that I cut my hair or that I went on a hunt as an apprentice? I am old enough for both and Lord Justin accepted me as his apprentice.'
'Lord Justin accepted Aeter the yard boy as his apprentice. How long did you think you could keep this from us?' he threw the hair down on the desk.
'I have not let my studies fall behind. My chores are all done and I, while not skilled with my weapon have been accepted as an apprentice. I do not see why-'
'You know why Aetherlyn.' Varien turned his back on her leaning against the mantle staring into the fire.
'I will be a hunter one day Lord Varien. I will lead a small band of men and women in the hunt to save a small city and the lands surrounding it. Tyrin has shown me.' She softened a little, 'I dont want to shame the Covenance Lord Varien, no man would follow me as I am now.' Her chin wavered before she gathered herself again.
'Men will follow you Aetherlyn and they will die at your feet. You must become skilled at healing and politics, that is where the Covenant leads you.' He didnt dismiss her and he didnt stop her as she turned and left his room.
Aetherlyn sat astride her white war horse. He stamped and snorted as she sat easily. Whispering gentle words she calmed him briefly. Lord Varien let his hand rest on her worn boot. 'Remember you are just the messenger. I need the Mistress Valasia, her mother needs her.'
'I know. I know.' She gave an exasperated sigh. 'I will ride to the monastery at Arinock and send the Hunt Mistress back. I am to aid the Lord Venatir in any way but battle. I am but a councilor.' She adjusted her rough tunic before looking down at her Lord and teacher. 'I wont let you down Lord Varien, you or Tyrin.' With a word she blessed all with Tyrins protection and gave the horse its head.
'Tyrin protect you child. I know Arinock and the dangers it suckles in the dark streets.'
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Since the day Rintaris Varlin was born in the city of the clouds he was trained in the arts of diplomacy, his people were a friendly folk setting bestowed upon only the most prominent students of the schools. Very little military or combat training was given to these young priests until they became the age of twenty-one and then were then moved to partake in a knighthood that lasted until they were thirty years of age. Rintaris once completing his training as a priest and a knight, he joined his people's military force, after a few years of service his rank grew quickly. One day his men where on a standard patrol of the neighbouring skies, when several large dragons appeared from below them and struck at the patrol. The small band fought fiercely for their lives as they were no match for these large beasts, Rintaris's captain and best friend was taken from behind by one of the dragons and his wings were torn he plummeted to the grounds below Rintaris threw is spear at the large dragon striker it in the throat, he quickly dived to capture his captain. Rintaris grabbed him by the hand and carried him to the lands below.
As he looked at and tended the wound on his captain he realized it was too bad for his magical abilities to heal, he shed a tear for his fallen comrade before drawing his blade and taking to the skies, he attacked the dragons with all his aggression and force trying to kill them all, dragon after dragon fell as did his comrades. Once the battle had subsided he went to check on the dragons to see if any were missing, when his feet touched the ground near the beasts, they forms were shifting slight, as he watched the dieing beast turned into Draconian's, such things as shape shifting was new to Rintaris. He quickly returned to his city with his fallen brothers for their proper ceremonies of their souls been sent to the heavens.
Rintaris read all he could about shifters, constantly yearning to learn more and more, his thrive for knowledge quickly pulled him from his home city to many strange places, where he heard stories and tales of things called weres he sought out every sauce he could find to question them. Once he had gathered a ton of information on what was known as werecreatures, he realized and knew what had happened to them, so he begun to learn about Rhian, Tyrin and Syrin. He fascination of these creatures was not because he wanted to be one, but he wanted to stop them and to save others from the aggression of the werebeasts. As time went passed he fought more and more beasts learning more about their ways and special tricks they have become capable of due to their un-natural formations.
As his fight against the beast grew stronger and stronger he tried to find others who he could take up arms with and aid him the destruction of the creatures. As his love for Tyrin grew so did his passion for the hunt, his style changed quickly from just destroying the beasts, but offering to help them get cured. As his journeys grew longer his fight begun to build harder and harder against him he continued to push on, cleansing in Tyrins name. His people labelled him the Crusader of the Hunt, others believed him to be a healer.
His dedication and devotion to brought not only honor to himself but to all who served in Tyrins name, Tyrin showed this man the ways of his Covenant, showed him that his men were in a time of need asking him to embrace it as if it were his family and restore its honored name.
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Taking a deep breath, Jaia Bel'are stepped through the portal which promised her the way down into the earth. It had not even been even a day since the courier arrived with the scroll that sent her on this trip to see Cysan, Phoenix, leader to Tyrin's Covenant. Immediately the world disappeared behind her, leaving just a wall of dirt and roots. Returning to the world of her family, Jaia allowed her violet eyes to pick up the pinpricks of luminescence along the walls, illuminating a stairwell down further into the darkness. Descending down the soft soil stairway, Jaia murmured a soft prayer to Tyrin under her breath. Why had Cysan called her to him? Had she not done her service well? She had pretty much been with the Covenant since its re-introduction to Rhia, a path she knew she was to take since she was a child, with visions of both she who Jaia called "Mother," Lloth, as well as he who she called "Father," Tyrin appearing in her dreams. Once the call to arms was spread throughout the lands, she quickly rose from her dark city to the land of the light, and sought out those who she would eventually call her brothers and sisters of the Covenant.
Unfortunately, in her dark city, she was not one for combt, and took to the scrolls and books instead. She offered the best services to Cysan and Lexdrel she could- her scribing abilities. So how could she have possibly wronged them to be called for a meeting? She barely had enough time to look up from her scrolls and writing to cause any harm.
Thoughts raced throuh her head so quickly, the little specks of light on the walls passing her so quickly, she didn't realize she had picked up her pace down the stairs and had barely started to run when her feet hit something solid. Stone. Looking around, she was in a dark hallway with a variety of passages leading away, she could tell off to the right or left. The walls were veiny with minerals, but smooth. Every fifteen paces or so, in every direction she looked, a floating sconce shaded with a large stone hand illuminated just enough space to get to the next lit area. This was no matter. She could see just fine before with the little specks of light, and these sconces almost hurt her eyes, but not like they hurt when she stood outside in the sunshine. Walking with determined steps, Jaia was led with a surreal knowledge of which turn to take when, and before long, she was before a large oak doorway, hinged with black iron and carved to depict a great battle. Her jaw dropping slightly at the wooden carvings, she blinked when the little figures turned to look at her and the large doorknob in the center of the door turned as of its own accord and the massive portal swung open. The stone hands on the sconces behind her quickly ascended upon their individual flames, casting dark fingers across the walls of the hallway and past her into an even darker room. In a far corner, a dark figure lurked, and Jaia took a breath of confidence and stepped into the room.
She had not taken five paces in when the large oak door shut behind her and she was alone with someone. The room was cool, the kind of cool you get when you're deep in the ground and there's no way out unless you're let out. The figure moved silently, knowing its paces, and approached her. Although she had been fearful, there was something knowing about this person, something old yet young, innocent yet experienced beyond any years she had ever encountered. Casting her eyes up to the approaching man, Jaia's heart pounded. She had seen this face in her dreams, in her knowing whenever she beheld a parchment requesting one such task or another. Cysan.
He welcomed her cooly, the type of welcome you get from someone who knows you well but has never met you. Beconing her to sit, she found an upholstered seat ready for her with a small desk and a stone well full of ink.
"My Lord, it is an honor." Jaia Bowed.
Pacing around the room, his hands clasped behind his back, Cysan thought deeply. Taking a moment to look around, Jaia saw a room of a warrior- scholar. This great man has indeed seen much. There were shelves of all types built into the stone walls, some replete with books, and others boasting weaponry and armor dented with battle but glorious nonetheless. Interestingly, it was not until she beheld one unique shelf that she realized something. There was hardly any light in this room. Her eyes had adjusted so well during her descent, she didn't even notice it. There was one solitary candle on a shelf. It burned with a flame black as her ebony skin, and cast an eerie purple glow into the room.
"There have been some threats as of late. It is said that my secret will be made public, and falsehoods thereuopn created will squander our efforts and cast a dark era upon the Covenant. I have determined for now, that the best course of action would be full public disclosure."
Hearing this, Jaia began to understand. It was not she who had worry, but her Lord, and he asked for her skill in assisting him. He turned to her with a quick step. "For such, I wish for you to pen my history so that all may see it."
Jaia stood, her legs weary from her travels and mustered up all her courage to fulfill her Lord's request. She bowed. "It would be my pleasure."
Cysan smiled with satisfaction.
"Shall I prepare now, sir?" Jaia quickly ran through an inventory of her satchel- had she everything she needed? Yes. She could do as he wished.
"Yes, if you are able." Jaia bowed again. She could not express enough gratitude and humility before him. Opening her satchel, she found her two best quills, just cut the day before to perfection, and a roll of parchments. Seating herself again, and adjusting to the table, she dipped her quill into the stone inkwell provided and poised to hear the tale.
Cysan stood calmly, his back to her, and his eyes scanning the shelves before him. Shelves that held his history encompassed in beaten metals and worn leathers. Books of knowledge and books of the arcane. He spoke.
"I come from a land to the east of this one, known as Nosreme. The land was not much different than this one, with a cacophany of various races living in a sort of chaotic harmony, just as things are here."
Jaia quickly wrote, and cringed slightly as the sound of her perfectly hewn quill scratching against the parchment reverberated against the stone walls. Cysan continued.
"When I had reached proper age I was taught to fight, as all of the boys were. Tyrin's Covenant was known of within my town, Letron, but were not a strong presence as Vampyres and Lycanthropes were ratrely, if ever seen. In fact, I was nearly thirty years of age before I saw my first Vampyre... Velanna."
At the sound of the name and the memory of her own first encounter, Jaia looked up into Cysan's hazel eyes, wondering what was next in his tale. He returned the gaze for a moment, knowingly, and continued.
"Velanna not only inhabited this land, but also my own, though she rarely appeared there. She came to my town seeking homage from us, seeking a sort of payment for her to stay away. The elders refused and she left. We thought she surely would not return due to the sheer numbers we had, for all had rallied against her."
Cysan closed his eyes thoughtfully, recalling the time. "We lived in peace for three months. However, when the night was at its blackest, I was awoken by a shriek."
"Velanna had returned with a few minions, their names I never learned. They began by killing the elders in their sleep, and continued attacking the town. With the rest of the men I went out to fight her, and if need be, die."
Clenching her free hand with anger at the needless death, Jaia continued to write as Cysan spoke of death and woe, blood and glory. Never had she head such a tale of heroism and selfnessness. It was not until the battle stories were finished that she opened her hand and realized she had clenched so hard that there were four little perfect red crescents cut into her palm by her nails. Dipping the quill into the inkwell and rubbing her palm against the leg of her robes, she continued to listen and scribe.
"Many good men died that night, and as dawn approached, I was engaged in one on one battle with one of Velanna's minions as she watched. We fought furiously and finally, I thrust my dagger into his belly, and as he reached down to grab the dagger with his hands, I removed his head with one swift stroke of my sword."
Scribbling furiously, following the rhythm of Cysan's uttered words, Jaia's script began to take its own form on the parchment, creating a picture of battle formed with words. The sea of black waves taunted her, pulling her into the tale further than she could have imagined.
Knowing what would come next, Cysan calmly walked over to a shelf and stared for a long time at a jar full of bright red bandages. Inhaling deeply, he spoke. "Before I could blink, I felt hands on my arms, breath on my throat as Velanna came upon me from behind. She told me that since I had taken Carnc, a suitable replacement for him was needed. I was to be that replacement."
He turned to face Jaia, who had stopped her scribbling to look up at her most revered lord. "Before I could say anything in protest, her fangs plunged into my throat and she embraced me."
Responding to the confession with a quiet reserve, Jaia mustered her inner strength and focused on the task at hand. Thoughts raced through her mind. Is Cysan a spy? No, surely not, for otherwise he would not go public. Am I to be taken? Could there truly be a vampyre leading the Covenant?? What could this possibly mean for all of her previous notions of right and wrong, good and evil?
Noting Jaia's hesitation, Cysan continued.
"When I awoke the next night I was in a damp, dark dungeon, alone. A short time later Velanna joined me with a gaunt dying man. She told me to embrace what I had become and drink from the man." Jaia cringed at the thought of tasting the blood of another live being. She'd tasted her own- as a scribe one gets many paper cuts and the first instinct is to often put the injury to your lips- but to drink as if wine or water? She could not imagine it.
Pacing the room now with obvious anger at the memory, Cysan rapped his fingers along his desk and spoke with strong low tones. He pivoted quickly and his hazel eyes took on an eerie angry glow from the black candle in the far corner.
"I became hostile and first tried to attack her. When that showed to be futile, I tried to kill myself in front of her. I was appalled at what I was. Tears of blood fell from my eyes as she and her minions chained me to the wall."
Cysan's face took on a stoic look as the years of his memory flashed before him, as if palpable and occuring right there in that cool room within the belly of the lands. "The same thing happened every night for seven years. She would appear, offer for me to drink, I would refuse and she would leave me chained to the wall." "Torpor ravaged my body, the thirst enveloped my mind, my soul... it was my every desire. Standing there, my arms and legs chained to the wall, with cuts which healed and were re-broken every night, I prayed for Tyrin to take me, to forgive me."
Smiling with an almost gratified delight, Cysan's eyes softened. "Finally I devised a plan. When she came to me that next night, I agreed to drink, but only if it was from her. She smiled and said she was sure I could come around. I was unchained, my mouth went to her neck hungrily and I began to drink."
Shuddering, Jaia had been writing so fast and pressing her quill so hard against the parchment, that at the sound of Cysan drinking blood from a vampyre's neck, the tip of her quill snapped against the parchment. Cursing quietly to herself, she calmly picked up the second quill she had available, licked the end, and dipped it into the inkwell. She was determined to see this through, there was no way she would believe one of her own mortal saviours and heros would be one of them. It could not be.
Cysan continued as if there was no interruption, he was wading through his own memories, reliving them moment by moment. "Finally she pushed me away. She looked upon me weakly and said I had nearly drank her dry. It was then that she realized I had slipped her dagger from its sheath as I drank."
Ignoring her writing now, Jaia looked up at Cysan with wonder, curious as to what happened next.
"I killed her."
Realizing that she had not taken a breath for some moments, Jaia inhaled deeply, knowing that the man who killed Velanna could surely not continue in her path. Jaia nodded and wrote, looking up when she was ready to hear more.
"Then, without hesitaion, I attempted to kill myself." Cysan approached Jaia and held out his hands, palms up, and she looked upon two bandages wrapped around his wrists. Curious about the connection, she looked to her Lord to explain. "As the blood left my vampiric body, I passed into unconsciousness. It was then, in my dreams, that Tyrin appeared to me."
"He spoke to me of this land of Rhia, coming under attack by many Vampyres and Lycanthropes. He told me of the Vampyre Khasekhem, the ancient one awakened by Savannah and Tiernyn. I swore to him that if he spared me and cured me of this sickness that plagued me, that I would destroy them all." "He smiled to me and told me I was cured, though I would forever feel some effects of the vampire."
Once again, Cysan held out his wrists. "My wrists will forever bleed slowly, to remind me of my past and of my promise." Lowering his hands to his sides, Cysan began to pace the room once again, this time more determinedly, as if he could see the present and future instead of the past. "As a result of seven years in the dungeon, my eyes will never again become able to focus properly in bright light."
"And finally, I can still speak and understand the ancient tongue of the vampire." Turning to Jaia, he spoke softly in a language she had never heard with her own ears, only in her nightmares. He said, "Fieens figh u piruizutei ug wwyrr ziqiommeuhes uu hpgug ret." Smiling at Jaia's blank face, he explained. "Translated, I just stated, The rest, I believe is well documented in this land."
Nodding, Jaia bent to write what she had just heard while it was fresh in her mind. Cysan cleared his throat as if something had finally been loosened after years of confinement, and stood before Jaia's little scribing table.
"That is all. Scribe it well, Jaia, for the lands ought to know."
Jaia looked up, hardly believing it was all over. No, surely it was not. The rest is yet to come. Pulling a small vial of ground sage from her satchel, Jaia sprinkled her parchments with the sage to dry out the wet ink which still glistened from the story just told, yet which was ancient and new. Satisfied that the ink was well preserved, she rolled up her papers, stored them away and stood to face her lord Cysan who smiled with knowing that his story was now kept and would be sheleved to never be disputed again.
Jaia bowed deeply and humbly. She need not say a word now, for all had been said that was needed. With a knowing look and a warm blessing from Tyrin, she turned that doorknob in the middle of the large oak door and left her lord in his dark cool womb of the earth.
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Ryoshon walked along the edge of the lake quietly, listening to the sounds of his environment. He walked easily, a man comfortable with his surroundings, a man aware of all around him. He looked towards the mountain to the east, barely able to see the outline of the monastery where he lived, where he had grown up, the only place he had ever known. He wondered again as he had been every day lately why the visions had come to him. The dream of a man hurt, of two wounds that would not heal, a man of great importance, one blessed with knowledge and understanding that few could know. Ryoshon could not comprehend how he knew these things, or why he knew he must now be where he was, all he knew is that all things were as they needed to be in this moment. He felt it through all his being, a knowledge derived from divinity that could not be questioned. His order had always served Tyrin and he had always known this was his calling, he had been born into it and had never needed to question it. He had always felt the presence of the Lord Tyrin in his life, had never been deprived of it, but this was somehow different, this was more. He felt as though he was being guided directly as if Tyrin himself had visited his dreams. He had consulted the elders of the order, and they had all agreed, he had been shown a true vision by Tyrin. He needed to fulfill this vision, and follow the path he had been shown, which placed him right here, by this lake, walking towards his destiny, a fate yet unknown to all save Tyrin himself.
Ryoshon finally turned his eyes from the mountain and returned to walking the path. It was not long before he began to feel something out of place. A broken twig here, a depression in the ground there, Ryoshon realized that something or someone had recently passed this way. He quickly attuned himself to his surroundings, picking up on the nuances of his natural environment, and began to track whatever it was that had crossed the path. He could tell that whatever it was that had passed was injured because of the erratic way that it traveled then as the markings became fresher he started to notice the droplets of blood, not yet dried along the trail. Ryoshon began to slow, stalking as quietly as possible through the underbrush, not wanting to give himself away to whatever it was he was tracking.
Suddenly, without sound or warning an arm wrapped around his neck cutting of his breathing and he felt the point of a blade pressed hard into his back, directly in line with his spine. Ryoshon didnt struggle, he could sense that it would have been pointless, whoever had a hold of him could kill him instantly at this point, he began to make peace with Tyrin. Though he could not reconcile why he would have been brought to this point just to be slain in the woods, he mumbled a low prayer, praising Tyrin and thanking him for the life he had been granted.
As he invoked Tyrin's name the arm released some of the pressure on his neck and the pressure of the blade digging its way into the flesh of his back began to lessen. He was spun around quickly and his legs were swept out from underneath, Ryoshon landed hard on his back and not a moment later his captor was on top of him the blade pressed against his neck. Ryoshon looked into the eyes of the man before him, dark eyes squinting in obvious pain, his pupils tiny specks trying to block out the light, his coloring the palest white as if he had not seen the sun in a very long time, two red scars at his wrists slowly seeping blood.
Then he spoke, his voice raspy and uncertain again as if he had been silent for a long time and words were alien to him, "You are a servant of Tyrin?"
Ryoshon merely nodded slightly, trying not to move to avoid cutting his own throat through his response. His captor stared at him, judging him, weighing him, Ryoshon knew that if spoke any untruth this man would know instantly.
"Why were you following me?" the mans voice commanded obedience, commanded the truth.
Ryoshon let his eyes drop briefly to the dagger at his throat before responding quietly, "I was blessed with a vision from Tyrin, he guided me here, I do not know Tyrins purpose, in bringing me here, I just know that I serve his will." The man just stared at him for a long time weighing his response, judging its truth, before finally removing the dagger he held at Ryoshon's throat and sitting back, obviously exhausted near collapsing from loss of blood and pain. Ryoshon sat up slowly, rubbing his throat tentatively where the blade had just been before speaking, "I am a healer, let me tend your wounds." The man regarded Ryoshon for a long time still deliberating whether he could trust him or not before finally giving a solitary nod.
Weeks passed quickly as Cysan recuperated at the monastery. Though the wounds at his wrists defied all healing his other material wounds healed quickly enough, it was obvious to Ryoshon that there was a deeper and darker pain within Cysan that would not be healed by bandages and salves. Ryoshon spent his time sitting with Cysan, speaking with him about both of their experiences in service to Tyrin. Without reason they quickly developed a friendship despite their very different backgrounds, eventually Cysan grew to trust Ryoshon enough to share his history with him, Ryoshon listened without judgment knowing that this was the real reason he was blessed with his vision.
Later that night as Ryoshon slept he was given another vision, he was told in the vision that he must go on a journey of solitude, during which he could possess nothing more than the clothes upon his back and that he must speak to none save to Tyrin in prayer, and he must travel on foot, spending no more than a day or two any one place. His faith would be tested, his strength, his being, his soul tested as few others could imagine. When this would end he was shown that he would serve Tyrin in a spot of favor amongst those most loyal, in his vision he saw a red banner and knew that when he found that banner he would be amongst those that he would both to help lead and serve.
Ryoshon awake from his vision filled sleep, knowing that he must leave immediately, that his vows had already begun. He rose from his bed and went quietly to Tyrins shrine where he prayed for the strength he would need to fulfill his purpose. He rose after his prayer and walked through the monastery knowing it was the last time, but he did not walk slowly or with remorse, he was happy to have been blessed with such insight and granted a chance to serve Tyrin in this way, he knew it would not be easy but he knew himself and knew he would prevail. He stepped outside the monastery, none had heard him he had been completely silent in his journey, yet as the door closed a voice spoke.
"Leaving in the middle of the night without a word to anyone." It was not a question, but a statement.
Ryoshon turned to look at Cysan leaning casually against the wall, his arms crossed staring off into the night. Cysan spoke again, Funny that now I favor the night as my enemy does, the day will never be the same to me. Ryoshon stood, mute, his first test already upon him, he wanted to say goodbye to the man he had befriended but he knew what Tyrin commanded and he knew he could not, he just hoped Cysan would understand. After a time in silence Cysan's look became that of mild amusement. "Don't worry my friend, I know the vows better than you." At which point Cysan turned to look at Ryoshon, "We will meet again, Tyrin's blessing be upon you." And with that Cysan turned away and walked into the night.
The next several years Ryoshon traveled all the lands a wanderer and nomad, silent and strong in his faith and conviction to Tyrin. There are stories here in that are not told, but in this time Ryoshon saw many things that few living have borne witness to, Tyrin guiding him from one place to another, showing him what he must learn before finally he arrived in the area surrounding Arinock. Here Ryoshon spent a long time in the forest, keeping out of the cities, wandering as he had been doing, then suddenly without warning Cysan was standing there just as he had been the last night he had seen him, leaning back against a tree this time, but his arms crossed with a knowing smile.
"Hello again, my friend, I believe this is what you have been looking for." Cysan reached into a satchel at his feet and withdrew the red banner of the Covenance unfolding it so Ryoshon could see it.
Ryoshon dropped to one knee his head bowed uttering his first words in years, "I am yours to command."
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