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Shattered Mirror

The return of memory


In chronology, this would lead on from section 1, which ends:

At this moment there is a howl from outside the temple - the Lunar charge has begun!

Vastyr grits his teeth, but holds his place in the shieldwall-without-shields. So they want to see what Humakt has for them? I am more than happy to oblige...

Gathering the dark, cold power that flows from his vows to the Grim One, the scarred warrior begins to growl deed in his throat... And like an echo there is Runner's growl. And a third from Joran. Come, you spawn of the Predark! Let us make an Ending worthy of Hu. I am prepared, already a Deadman... Are you? With a loud yell Vastyr lets loose the Fear that strikes enemies when Death is near... "HUUUUUUUUUUUMAAAAAAAKT!"

And then time slows. A javelin, thrown in advance of the charge, inches through the air, impossibly sluggish. Your own limbs seem to have frozen, though thought races on. Behind you, a flash of light. Anyone who was looking that way can see the fragments of mirror glinting - and puffing into smoke as the True Sun blazes down on them. A large fragment evaporates, the smoke drifts towards you - and a fragment of memory returns. Dusk. Arrival at a village. A duel, a campsite - near to a ruined temple that looked a great deal like this?

A further fragment of mirror crumples to dust, and Dori stops her attempts to move, puzzled.

But, then the unthinkable happens as a piece of his own memories, forgotten and now remembered hits Vastyr from behind. It feels like a sun suddenly lit up in his head.

The sacred words turn to ash in his mouth and the magic fizzles and then dies. The force of the memories leaves the the scarred warrior stunned and kneeling.

Another, and another. Memories return, disordered and confused at first, then all too clear. Betrayal. Capture, enforced by drugs. Attempted escape, failed. Those last few minutes of horror as these memories were sucked from you. All is now clear - or at least, clearer than it was. Looking around, you see the other intended victims rising to their feet, as unarmed as you but still perhaps welcome allies. Time speeds up again as your vision clears, your movements are again unfettered.

But while some strength has been gained, some has been lost. In the centre of your line, Dori has fallen to her knees, surrounded by the remains of smoke from the mirror. "I remember..." she whispers, almost to herself, but in tones of such horror that those who hear her pause, shocked. "Oh, gods, I remember. I remember it all. How could he? My own father..." Then, for a moment, she pulls herself back to sanity and duty, looking round at her Ten - her friends - seeing a face she recognises even through the nightmare. "Jamal. I warned you, and I was right. Take over the Ten."

(I'm not sure if that warning ever made it into the Chronicles: try this message in the Group)

Elendala kneels next to her, seeking to know what the danger is. "Dorinda? What is it? What do you remember?"

One of the strangely dressed Yelmalians steps forwards, unarmed, ignoring his own troops and the advancing Lunars. The newly replaced memories let you name him - Govan. He stares at the group in stunned horror and recognition.
"Dorinda? It cannot be! So that is what he meant by twice - but no, impossible." The formality of his speech drops, replaced by bewilderment and dawning understanding.
"But you're dead!"

Dori rises, faces him, white with the shock of recovered knowledge, but now focused on a known enemy.
"Yes. I'm dead. You should know. You killed me, in soul if not in body."

Overhead, the Lunar flying attack passes them, ignoring the Herewardi and falling on the Yelmalians - no, as you now realise, the Oilamlians. The two appear not to notice, concentrating only on each other. The facial similarity is obvious now.

"It was for the greater good! What is the life of an irrelevant child - a female child - compared with the glory of Oilamley?"

"The life of your own sister? Who you were sworn to protect and defend?"

He hesitates, just a little - perhaps being accused of oath-breaking by a Sword of Humakt makes him understandably nervous? "I obeyed my orders, as a soldier should."

She laughes, a cold hard laugh with no humour in it. "Of course you did. And your actions pale besides those of our beloved father. All you did was trap me, drug me, beat me, tie me down. He....", she turns her face away, even now unable to speak it aloud, then as the final memory falls into place, turns back, secure in the knowledge of an old victory despite the price. "And he never did get his divine child, even after all that. His son, his grandson, the son of your Oilamley. Failed. As Oilamley always will fail, faced with Death."

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The shouting and emotional outbursts pull the rest of the captives out from their stolen memories. And concentrate the attention of the captives, among them a score or so of Humakti...

Vastyr shakes his head to clear it and staggers to his feet. He can't remember falling to his knees... but considering everything, that is minor annoyance. Runner reaches up and licks his face with one long swipe of its tongue. Not the most dignified awakening, but effective. Very effective. Vastyr pushes the wolf down. "I'm awake. What happened?"

"Shiny thing broke and vanished. You screamed and fainted." Then Runner starts to push him toward a pile of rubble that might have been a wall.

"What...?"

"Your big tooth."

As they walk to the rubble, Vastyr takes a look at the devastation around. Men and women lie strewn around like dolls. Some bleeding, some obviously dead, some moving or groaning in pain.

As Vastyr grasps his sword, his attention is immediately drawn to Dori and a man in strange white robes. They seem to be arguing. Both seem to be lost in some strong emotion. Dori more than the man.

With the Bane in hand Vastyr walks to the pair. They seem not to notice. But they notice the heavy blade that suddenly appears at the man's throat.

Dori looks startled, opens her mouth to speak, but is interrupted.
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Prone and partly hidden by a pillar Hrolf has silently witnessed the scene between Dori and the Oilamleyan. The words and the events they refer to are fragmented, but his Truthsense fills in the gaps. An innocent, betrayed and violated by those sworn to protect her. Hrolf's veins well with outrage and murderous fury.

"You ...you betrayed your charge's trust. Traitor! You lied to your people. Oathbreaker! You used her life to feed your god's. Vampire!"

"This one's for Kristen, boss!" Blackbeak quacks anxiously. But Hrolf's words have already invoked the runes. As Govan stands frozen in a rictus of terror, the golden "Y" of Truth appears above his head; below it hangs the black sword of Death. The air ripples; there is a hissing as of thousands of swords, a countering oily black-brightness, a pop, and then the remains of the temple crumble into dust.

"THUS I NAME YOU AND SO YOU SHALL BE JUDGED," Hrolf intones in a voice no longer his own.
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The Far Walker hears the call to move out but there was a matter of honour to be met. He had heard the words exchanged between the Ten and the robed Oilamlian. Marching over to the Hu's side he eyes Govan closely, a look of disgust etched clearly upon his youthful face.

"What kind of beast does this upon this kin?"

Not wanting nor waiting for an answer he kicks out at the back of Govan's legs dropping him to the floor. Grabbing a handful of hair he pulls the Oilamlian's head back exposing the neck. Glancing at Scarface he nods at Slithering Bane, his great iron bastard sword.

"An eye for an eye eh Vastyr?"

Vastyr looks at Aelfwyrd somewhat distastefully. "Revenge is not honour, and bloodshed is not war." He nods at Hrolf, who appears not to notice. "This, however, is Justice. The Grim one has spoken."

"He will be punished for his crimes" Aelf says, and pulling Govan's head back further still he looks into his eyes. "Justice? Yes, on this we agree".

A shadow suddenly descends from above and lights on the prostrate man, heedless of the swords waving nearby. Wings the colour of Lady Night's hair beat quickly a few times before the giant raven settles down. It cocks its head and looks in turn at all the Humakti nearby and opens its beak.

"Caw", it says.
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Antarius' men are free from their bonds, now, and several have run back to the campsite while the main body form up and take stock. The runners call to their compatriots in their own tongue, and come back carrying spears and shields. As they pass the Humakti, one says: "Over there - all your weapons, too! It's all right, we didn't touch them."

And he carries on back to his commander, as the Yelmalians hastily re-arm.
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The memories of the last few days come together in a confusing mosaic of impressions and experiences for Landros, and not made any clearer by the effects of hazia. A deep breath clears his head slightly and training takes over as he quickly assesses the situation. The Lunars are ignoring the group near the temple itself, the Carmanian seems to have taken command of the Humakti as the ten-thane engages in a passionate argument with one of the robed figures, and a huge man in his hero light walks slowly towards them. His voice roars a command that echoes off the broken pillars of the temple, overpowering the sounds of the battle nearby. Landros knows he has spoken to some of them before, but can't sort out their names just now. That will be for later. There is something going on among the women to one side.

Kaylee!

The thought of the young healer pushes him into motion and he sprints towards the group clutching at his empty scabbard but relaxes when he sees her. Torn clothes, dusty but relatively unharmed and comforting a small girl.

"Here, take this," he says as he removes his cloak and, after hesitating uncertainly, wraps both in it gently, averting his eyes. He is rewarded with an exasperated but grateful look. "Thanks, but I really can't work in this..." But he is already on his way, looking for his other friends among the wounded.

Landros quickly finds both Caerl and Sythar, both in relatively good shape apart from a nasty cut on the back of Caerl's head. "See to that, now." The Rigsdali orders and points towards Kaylee. "She'll know who to ask", and Caerl shuffles off while Landros heads over to the other Humakti and Sythar goes to collect their gear.

"Excuse me, sir" he begins politely and nods briefly in greeting as he comes up to Jamal. "I hope your ten-thane will be all right." He glances at Govan, lying on the ground, with evident distaste and cannot help voicing his feelings. "Drugging your victims, healers, women. Perverting the Light of the Sun Dome. Your punishment will be harsh." His tone is measured and he speaks slowly, in the local tongue before turning back to Jamal. "This creature should be tried by the Count."
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Jamal looks on as the Lunars drive on against the false Solars. Then looks round at the rest of the legion, bloodied but unbowed. He sags slightly as the exertions of the past few days catch up with him. But duty calls, and the Idovanian way means it should never be shirked.

He approaches the man that Dori has been arguing with, and finds that the legion had been busy. Aelf has the man pinned to the ground and Vastyr is poised for the lethal cut.

He looks up and sees the Raven descend and land on the man. Jamal regards the bird with more than a little uncertainty. This man seems to be suffering from a very ill-aspect.

The Yelm-man who had helped the Legion walks up to join the group, mentioning that the "Count" should judge this man. This must be the ruler.

As he does this Boltar rushes onto the scene, in a high state of agitation. "Him Chaos" screams the irate Urox. "he must die now!" Following this with a stream of expletives.

This makes up Jamal's mind.... "You have harmed this legion, and stand accused of the vilest crimes against our ten thane"

He glances at Dori, who has watched Aelf and Vastyr's actions with a strange detachment. "Not against me," she says slowly, as if emerging from a dream. "Against his younger sister, who died twelve years ago. And these others he sought to harm today. Not me. This is not vengeance. This is justice."

Govan stares up at her, wide-eyed and unbelieving. "Dorinda! You can't let them do this! I'm your brother! You can't!"

She stays detached, unaffected, almost looking through him rather than at him. "My only kin is the Legion. And even for them, justice would come first." She focuses on him for a moment, her gaze very cold. "Think for a moment what Sun County justice would involve, for these crimes. That would be vengeance."

Over near the ruined altar, Mara bends over a barely-conscious Kristen. Dori loses focus again, absorbed in watching the village buildings beyond.

"Dispatch him" Jamal say flatly to Aelf and Vastyr, "I have no taste nor trust for long winded Solar justice"

The raven sitting on Govan squawks in irritation as the Far Walker pulls Govan up and with a venemous look hops down on the ground with great dignity. With an unreadable expression on his face Landros looks on in silence.

The Far Walker holds Govan's hair to prevent him moving. With deft precision Vastyr's iron blade severs brain and spinal cord. One blow creates a great gout of crimson that spurts forth from the arteries and veins of his neck. Aelfwyrd's face reveals no emotion as he holds the lifeless head aloft for all to see.

"It is done."

"It is done," intones Vastyr like an echo. Then he just walks off in search of his backpack, especially his sword cleaning kit.

Hop hop and the raven takes to the air briefly to land on Landros's head where it balances precariously before the man helps it down onto his shoulder. It rubs its beak affectionatly against his cheek.

Tossing the head aside the Far Walker nods at Yrsga, the young city girl who constitutes the nearest thing to a sister he has ever had. She is motionless, not used to impromptu executions her shock is clear for all to see.

The Rigsdali sees the young girl and takes the few steps to her side. "Are you all right, dear? It's not a pleasant thing to see. Forgive my manners, I am Landros. And this is Roark" The kind words of a stranger draw Yrsga away from the grisly scene.

Turning to face the voice a heartbeat passes as she explores the features of the handsome and well-dressed Sun County Templar. Having completely blanked the large black raven she pushes a stray strand of hair behind her ear and smiles up at him. "My name is Yrsga, and yes I am all right now"

Landros returns the smile "Good." The raven looks at the girl with first one eye then the next, but remains settled on its perch.

Then from a distance away they two are interrupted as the Far Walker shouts over "Yrsga! Hereward waits for no man....or women" then catching sight of Sun Domer begins to stride over. "The Legion are already camped in Pavis and the holy days draw near. We have wasted too much time in this cursed place already to be passing pleasantries with.." and eyeing Landros "..strangers"

Yrsga seems slightly embarrassed but moves off towards the camp anyway as the Kargani turns to regard Landros "Can I help you friend?" he says frostily.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. She seemed a bit unsettled, I just asked her if she was alright," he replies disarmingly.

The Far Walker eyes Landros suspiciously but keeps his his own counsel as the acting Ten approaches.
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"I think it is best that we are not here," Jamal says, calling the Legion to muster.

He turns to Dori. "The Legion calls," he says to her softly, "you do not need this place anymore."

She looks up at him, dazed, but with understanding dawning. "No. No, you're right. It was all in the past, far in the past. Another life. Another person. If I can just remember who I am now... not here."

"GATHER..." he calls "REGROUP AT THE CAMPSITE OUR WEAPONS ARE THERE"

And with that he leads her away.....

She follows, stumbling over obstacles she apparently can't see, still lost in the flood of returning memory.

"Yrsga, the war gear, we are heading out" Aelf says matter-of-factly.

And with that they move out.
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Kaylee has wrapped the child in Landros' voluminous cloak when Caerl finds her. She somehow manages to balance the child on one arm and inspect the gash on the soldier's head.
"I won't heal it, don't worry. Just looking," she says in Tarshite probing the wound gently.
"Ouch, stop that fool woman!"
"You need to see one of the soldier-healers I met earlier. Come on."
It doesn't take long to find the group of humakti near the temple. As they approach they see Aelf hold up Govan's head and Kaylee pales visibly. Caerl says nothing but looks grim, he senses a lingering presence of the Reaper. Kaylee shields the child's view of the grisly sight and stops, unwilling to approach. A head taker - she thought that only happened among the Wintertop Tribes. "That, that's not right" She says with a shudder. Her companion only shakes his head in reply, but looks on in fascination. "Come on. There's the woman we need to speak to." she has spotted Dorinda and one of the other warriors and makes for them, with a final glance at the larger group. Landros has turned his back on Aelf and is speaking to a young girl, with Roark on his shoulder and she can't help wonder what they have to say to each other.

"Sir!" She calls as they approach. "Excuse me sir. I'm sorry to bother you, but Caerl here has taken a cut and won't take healing from me. Would you have someone who could see to it, please?"
Caerl glances at her a bit amused. She has taken to calling any Humakti she thinks is in charge 'sir'. "It fucking hurts too." He mumbles as he stares at Hrolf and then as a spell of faintness comes over him slowly sinks to the ground. "Came looking for a bloody unbreakable sword, and all I get is a bashed skull." he continus groggily and with that he closes his eyes.

Elendala turns to him, alarmed at the sudden collapse. "Dori? Dori, come on... take a look at this, would you?"

"What....? Oh." Dori comes back to the present, focussing on the practical problem. "Nasty cut, head wounds always bleed, too, but it doesn't look enough to knock him out like that. Let's get him cleaned up, then we can see what we're doing. Get some water, would you? The well in the village'll be closest - just behind the head-man's house, there's three palm-trees round it."

"There are?" Elendala watches her warily, all too obviously wondering how real this apparent recovery is. "How did you know that?"

"Well, it was there yesterday.... oh." Dori sits back, rubs at her forehead. "No, it wasn't yesterday, was it? Over twenty years ago. They can't have moved the well, though. Headman's house - big place, looks very - that is, it would look very impressive to a five year old."

"Right. I expect I can find it." Elendala stands up, starts to move away, then stops. "Dori, are you sure you're all right?"

"No. Next silly question?" She rubs her forehead again tiredly. "Sorry. I can do this, anyway. One thing at a time."

She turns back to inspecting the cut and the swelling around it, probing with gentle fingers. "Kaylee, can he take magical healing? As long as it's from Humakti?"

Kaylee is looking on helplessly, clearly frustrated at not being able to help. "Yes, yes he can. Magic's fine. He seemed fine you know, just bleeding and it doesn't look deep. But he wouldn't even let me staunch it, so I had to find someone. Landy is hopeless and anyway he was talking to some girl." She hugs the child in her arms a little tighter and rearranges the cloak around it. Its usually spotless white colour has now been marked by bloodstains from Caerl and dust, and a corner is dragging on the ground. The wounded warrior half sits in an akward position and Kaylee tries to make him more comfortable, but is hampered by the faintly whimpering child who clearly picks up on the young healer's unease.

"Don't close your eyes Caerl, you need to stay awake." She looks up at Dori pleadingly "Can I at least rip some strips of cloth for bandages, or does that count as healing him?"

"No, that's fine. Just don't apply them yourself. You can advise, supply materials, almost anything as long as you don't actually touch. I'm going to clean the cut and stitch it, then have Elendala use her healing charm: after that there's not a lot we can do for concussion that I know of beyond not letting him sleep, like you say."

She works swiftly and with obvious competence, accepting needle, thread and bandages as Kaylee passes them to her. Kaylee nods and helps as best she can, less worried now that Caerl is in what seems to be capable (if not overly gentle) hands.
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Hrolf responds woodenly to Jamal's commands, moving like an automaton to join the rest of the Legion. A nimbus of clarity seems to surround him: sounds are sharper, higher; his dust-coated clothes are outlined in excruciating detail.
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Jamal is busy gathering his retinue to order, Boltar dispite the sudden dispatch of Govan still seems concerned about the body. "We should burn it" he mutters, "or the land where is body lies will be cursed for generations"

Fufold and Elnor meanwhile content themselves with checking for injuries (mercifully few) before preparing to leave for the campsite.

As the legion calls to muster, he hears the boy mention the words "unbreakable sword" coincidence perhaps, but then again, perhaps not. Through such small signs does the divine Idovanus (his name be praised) guide the path along the sword's edge.

Jamal strides over to the boy's master, the golden warrior they had met back at the camp. "I am called Jamal bin Jaran al'Awara" he says in clipped but perfectly courteous tones, nodding his head in a short but formal bow, "I am acting ten for this legion. You have fought well against these scions of deceit, and have earned the respect of the warriors of Hereward. You would honour us if you would ride with us a while"'

Landros turnes away from Aelf and smiles at the man as he nods politely. "The honour is mine, ten-thane and I accept your kind offer." he replies slowly and with obvious sincerity. "I am Landros Goldheart, from these parts originally, though I now serve The Night Watchman." He looks around and sighs. "I would hear of the Herewardi and you business here, unless you are not free to speak. There is a village nearby, with a well which rarely runs dry. A good place to camp, if the... locals agree."

Jamal nods, "We are passing though for a muster of the legion in Pavis, and it seems we became unwilling participant in this business."

Landros nods in understanding, Pavis seems to have become a gathering point for a lot of different groups lately. He'd heard about the cradle when he passed through a few days earlier - a business that still had the Lunars restless. He hadn't had any trouble, at first they'd taken him for a Sun Domer, but when they realised what he was they'd let him through the gate without too much fuss.

"I've just come down from Pavis, initiated one of my followers to Hu there only a couple of weeks ago actually."

"We would rest here for a day, but I think the protector of this village has laready expressed thier disquiet at our presence." Jamal shrugs. "Perhaps this has changed. Either way we would be away from here soon."

"Their commander, Antirius I think, seemed a reasonable fellow. I'll have a talk with him if you like. I don't remember him, but chances are he remembers me." he says completely without boasting or conceit.

Jamal nods, "Perhaps you are right, quite a bit has changed since our last meeting, the legion requires some rest and recuperation, we will see if we can get a little of it here...."

At Landros' last statement Jamal smiles, he wonders if this man has the abilities to back up his obviously high opinion of himself. This might be amusing.

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