The Party Assembled

Dagda’s keen and well-trained eyes caught a glimpse of several figures walking slowly across the snowy wastes. She turned and looked at the approaching figures, her eyes flashing in startled recognition. Curious she made her way toward the figures. The two gnomes, Ognit and Dabner, flanked her on either side.

Her eyes met with the eyes of the beautiful golden haired high elf standing before her. Dagda was sure she was seeing a friend but could not remember who she was or how she knew her. The high elf was accompanied by what must have been a half elven bard, judging from the lute slung across her back, that also seemed eerily familiar to her. In fact, the erudite in robes, the human resplendent in shining armor, the scruffy looking halfling and the scowling dwarf all seemed familiar to her for some reason. But the shy wood elf carrying the exquisitely crafted and ornately decorated bow, she did not recognize.

Seeing the smile upon the face of the high elf, Dagda did not wish to seem unpleasant. She reached forward and gripped one arm, wrist to wrist and clapped her other hand upon the high elf’s shoulder in a gesture of greeting and friendship. In doing so, she brushed against the beautifully carved, bejeweled staff the high elf carried.

A flash of light came forth from the staff and everyone stood for a moment stunned, shaking their heads. Suddenly, Dagda looked into the eyes of the high elf and smiling with sudden recognition she blurted out, “Firiona Firiona Vie! It’s been so long my friend. But I had a feeling I would be seeing you again soon.”

Firiona hugged the large barbarian woman tightly. Turning to her side she said, “I would like to introduce a new friend of ours. Her name is Lyirae.”

Lyirae curtsied gracefully. “It’s a pleasure to meet all of you. I certainly hope everything is all right.” She looked around nervously and then added, “It sounded like a war was going on a moment ago.”

“Oh that!” Ognit made a dismissive gesture. “It was nothing, don’t concern yourself.”

“Yes. It really was nothing,” Dagda said quickly as she elbowed the gnome, a smile playing across her face. Ognit just scowled back at her.

“Yes, I can truly say that I do remember you all now. I see none of you have changed over the years.” Firiona smiled briefly but it quickly faded. “I truly wish we were meeting under better circumstances. I’ve come to ask the three of you for your help.”

Her face grave, she continued, “The task set before us is difficult and the road we must travel deadly. And I truly know not what the future has in store for all of us. Already Sionachie, Thubr, Dreezil, Sir Jevik and even Al`Kabor have agreed to accompany me in my task.”

Bowing graciously, Dagda said, “Firiona, it would be my honor to travel with you and the others once again. I will be at your side.”

Ognit stepped forward, his face screwed into scowl and spat, “So you’re saying that you came to get us last? And that you asked for Al`Kabor’s help before mine?” Firiona looked over at him, hurt flashing visible across her eyes.

Raising both hands to his mouth Ognit began to laugh, a high pitched and ear splitting guffaw. It was good that he laughed rarely. “I’m kidding Firiona,” he said, “I wouldn’t miss the chance to travel with this group again for all the world!” He then gave Firiona a hug, smiling as he did; his face looking like it may crack in the process, so unaccustomed to the facial expression as it was.

Dabner bounced forward toward Firiona with glee. “This is great! It’s going to be just like old times again! I’m so excited!”

Stopping for a moment, Dabner counted on one hand. He then counted on the other. “Wait What about Lorisyn? Are we going to invite him to come with us as well?”

Firiona, looked down at him sadly and said quietly, “Dabner”

Lyirae lowered her head and closed her eyes. She turned and walked slowly away from the group, stopping some distance away and began sobbing quietly.

Inquisitive, Dabner turned and asked, “Firiona? What happened to Lorisyn? Where is he?”

Firiona glanced at the sky before returning to gaze upon Dabner. “We were attending the Festival of Faydark’s Children. Sionachie, Thubr and I were all there. We learned some wonderful news. Lorisyn has had a twin sister. Lyirae is Lorisyn’s twin.”

Dagda and the gnomes’ eyes widened with surprise. Looking back toward Lyirae, the resemblance was obvious.

Firiona continued, “We were all caught up in the moment with the festival, the reunion and the good news. But then,” she stifled a sob in her throat, “Shortly thereafter, we were ambushed Lorisyn was struck down by assassins.”

“What?” Dagda spoke in a soft, dangerous voice, as her eyes flashed with fury. “Who are they? I will burn the sound of their names forever into my mind. They shall know the full force of my rage before I end their lives.”

Looking the barbarian in the eyes Firiona says, “They are old enemies of ours and have been since”

She lowered her head and shook it with frustration, “I honestly can not remember. One is a Teir`Dal woman by the name of Vahlai Ka`Izal. The others are a Troll and an Orc by the names of Rogkasth and Ghargin.” Dagda nodded solemnly upon hearing the names of the assassins.

Ognit’s face was frozen in shock. “Well Surely you could have revived him and brought him back to life! Surely there were healers present!”

Dabner glanced over at Lyirae standing off from the group. His face was suddenly filled with the wisdom that comes from studying the spiritual world, even at the cost of missing the finer points of the mundane world.

Facing his friend again he said softly, “Ognit The gods don’t allow for any life to be permanently extinguished, even the life of the lowliest snake or insect, until it is their appointed time. Once that time has been fulfilled and the cycle of life has been completed, the soul moves on never to return to this plane. From that point forward there is nothing that any mortal can do to bring life back to the body, for the soul has already moved on.”

Upon hearing the soft voice and words of the gentle cleric, Lyirae walked slowly back to the group. She smiled lightly at Dabner, her eyes red with tears. “You speak as would a follower of Tunare.”

Dabner turned to look once again upon the face of his friend’s twin. “Though I am happiest with a good solid chunk of earth above my head, I have been traveling above ground for quite some time. As a man of faith I have found it important to study and understand the beliefs of others. Particularly those of my close friends.”

Taking hold of Lyirae’s hand, he looked softly into her eyes. “Know that Lorisyn is now strolling in a glade far more beautiful than any known in the Faylands or any other in this mortal realm. He now dwells forever in the arms of the Great Mother.”

Dabner then turned to Firiona, his face uncharacteristically hard and resolute. “I will join you in your journey to the new lands. And Brell willing, I will do everything within my power to see that those responsible for Lorisyn’s death find justice before going to meet their dark gods face to face, sooner then later.”

Dagda clenched her fists at these words and said, “My rage burns and I can not stand here. Let’s be on our way.”

Firiona nodded, “Agreed, Dagda. Let us move on, we have a very long journey ahead of us.” Together, the group turned and began to walk back the way they had come.

Firiona Vie and her party, now fully assembled, set forth on their journey to the new lands to confront the Ring of Scale. Fighting against the raging blizzard, their faces drawn and determined, they disappeared into the furious storm.

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