The Music of Darkness

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Chapter seven: The Seaport of Tarrock

Morning came without incident, the forest slowly coming to life as sunlight filtered in, setting the top most leaves to shimmering and the summits of the mountains to sparkling. As he rose Drell took a deep breath in and let it out in a sigh. With his back turned to the commotion of his brother and the Knights Drell closed his eyes and listened. Not to the racket of cooking utensils clanging together, bed rolls being folded, horses being saddled, and weapons being slid back into place, no, he was listening to the sounds of home, sweet beautiful home. The whispering of the wind through the grass, the rustling of the leaves, the birds song, the babble of a near by mountain stream, and the hollow sound of the wind echoing off the craggy walls of the pass, ah so familiar, so beautiful. In those few moments Drell felt the worst homesickness he had ever felt in his life and he found himself wondering why he had ever left at all. A rather foolish feeling really as it had barely been a couple days but it was there all the same. A hand on his shoulder brought Drell out of his train of thought. The hand was Loroedor’s and he was smiling, in his eyes he held an unspoken understanding of Drells thoughts. He said nothing at all but merely squeezed his brother’s shoulder and began toward the pass and, heaving a sigh, Drell followed after.

The pass was narrow, forcing the party to walk single file, leading the horses and Neroehain behind them. The floor of the pass was worn and walkable but littered with fallen rock from the overhanging crags above. Something was wrong, there was a heaviness in the air that didn’t feel right. Drell forced himself to block out all else and focused all of his energy’s on his superior hearing. Above them, far above, he could hear the sound of gravel shifting under the weight of boot leather, a sound that was out of place and dangerous. Then came a shrill whistle and an arrow thudded into the rock at his feet. The arrow was black and fletched with green, Goblins!

“Ambush!” cried Drell. No sooner had the word left his lips when a swarm of arrows came raining down into the pass. The brothers and the Knights ran for the shelter of two outcroppings of rock on either side of the pass.

“Any ideas?” asked Loroedor as he drew his sword.

“One, but we have to get the Knights out of here” Drell got up on his knees and leaned forward, “Redtree! You and the knights get out of here my brother and I can handle this!” Redtree looked at him as if he were mad but, seeing the determination in his eyes, stiffly obeyed leading the knights in a swift retreat to the end of the pass.

“Alright the Knights are gone now what’s the plan?” asked Loroedor, watching as two of the knights fell wounded and had to be aided by their comrades. At this point Neroehain joined them beneath the outcropping.

“Get the idea?” said Drell as he pulled himself up onto the nightmares back. Loroedor smiled

“I believe I do” he accepted Drells helping hand. Neroehain needed no direction and shot out from under the outcropping. The nightmare charged half way up one side of the pass, turned, and ran full clip toward the other side. As the powerful animal launched over the top of the cliff where the goblins had stationed them self’s, the two elves leaped from his back, landing heavily behind their foes. Startled the goblins dropped their bows and grabbed for their swords, however the brothers were faster and soon the archers where corpses. The goblins on the other side, stunned and bewildered, stood as though they where part of the mountain, giving the brothers a chance to grab their own bows and fire. Their task at an end the brothers scrabbled down the side of the pass, met up with Neroehain at the bottom, and went to join the Knights.

Tarrock was a small seaport city with a population of about seventy-three and growing. Drell had been here once before with his father and he was surprised at how little it had changed. The small city was separated into four districts, (in order) the residential district, the merchant district, the market district, and the fishing district. There where no soldiers here, for there was no need for them. Lord Carmon Stealwell controlled Tarrock from the isles of Casline. He provided them with protection and they were able to live their lives as they chose. His men rarely came into town unless they were requested by the district leaders. The companions bypassed the residential and merchant districts and stopped at the market district to stable the horses and find an inn. The one they found was the Golden Sword, it was rather large and in good walking distance from the stable. The stonework inn had two stories and dark woodwork paneling inside and out. Inside about forty dark wood tables were set and men and woman from various classes occupied all. The only available seats left were those at the bar. Like the paneling and the rest of the furniture the bar was made of dark wood and carved with intricate designs showing wild beasts, and other creatures. Behind the bar was an enormous shelf filled with every type of glass, goblet, and mug from every race, human, elf, dwarf, Minotaur, and some others that couldn’t be placed. Distracted by the vast collection of glasses the companions failed to notice that the bar keep was nowhere to be seen. Upon noticing they were just about to inquire as to his wearabouts when,

“Well? Can I get you something or are you just going to sit there all day?” a rich, deep voice asked from some place out of sight but decidedly near. Drell leaned over the bar to look. Beneath the bar stood a wide shouldered dwarf. His hair was long, golden and braided, as was his beard. His eyes were blue fire and his face was beginning to show sings of age. He wore a white shirt with a blue and white vest; his trousers were black as were his boots. In one hand he held a mug and in the other he held a clean rag. Smiling the dwarf stepped up onto a large wooden crate and said,

“There is that better?” and immediately the whole room erupted in laughter. Every man and woman in the Golden Sword, including the dwarf himself, was completely over come with it. Moments passed in which the dwarf, who was finally able to pull himself together, leapt up onto the bar, “Alright now, you’ve had your fun, now settle down and let the gentlemen have some peace” Gradually the room fell again into comfortable silence,“Sorry about that lads. It happens every time we get new comers in here. I suppose you could call our little joke a tradition. But with that aside, what will you have?” Smiling Drell looked about and said

“Ale all around I think sir” the dwarf raised his hand

“Stow to that lad no need to be so formal. My name is Golundaine or most prefer the common translation which is Gold Beard and I am vary pleased to meet you... sir?”

“Drell, Drell Dasrenvair and this is my brother Loroedor beside him is sir Redtree and his Knights and we too are vary pleased to meet you my friend” said Drell as he took the mug handed to him by Gold Beard.

“You two are Shamera aren’t you?” asked Gold Beard after a brief and thoughtful silence. The brothers exchanged glances and Loroedor replied

“ What makes you think that?” a weak smile played on his lips. The dwarf swung the rag over his shoulder

“Look here lad I’m one hundred and fifty seven years old so I think I know a Shadow elf when I see one” Loroedor frowned and nodded

“Alright so you know what we are, what of it?” Loroedor’s voice had an icy edge.

“Nothing of it lad its just that I haven’t seen one of your kind in over eighty five years, and some for even longer then that, so I am just curious as to what brings you out after all these years?” there was silence. Drell sighed

“The Temple of Second Life was ransacked and a friend of my brother and I, a woman, was kidnapped and we”

“You think it was Lord Stealwell,” said Gold Beard finishing Drells sentence for him. Drell nodded, “Well only one thing I can say to that lad and that is watch your self, our Lord isn’t known for kindness or understanding when it comes to these matters” The companions finished their ale and reached for their purses, the dwarf raised his hand, “ On the house, its another tradition around here. First drinks for new comers are always free”

“Thank you” said Drell and the companions departed.

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