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Tonight was a pleasant evening spent around a fire with new found acquaintances, listening to stories and songs, albeit bawdy, all while surrounded by a breathtaking landscape. Deminatza could not recall the last time she and Scar were able to be truly at ease amongst company. It was a foreign, yet most welcome notion.

The sound of coughing and a door closing from below interrupted her musings. She donned a robe and wrapped a shawl around her shoulders and looked in on Scar. Noting that the disturbance failed to disturb his slumber, she made her way downstairs. There, she noticed a young man pouring himself a glass of water, perspiring slightly struggling to suppress his cough.

“Forgive my intrusion, milord. Might I offer thee aid?”
“Apologies, lady,” he managed between wheezing coughs, “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“I have not yet gone to bed,” Demi smiled reassuringly. “Please sit, I shall provide thee a remedy for the cough.” She gestured to the long table and did as he was bidden.
“Thank you lady.”

The healer made him a hot cup of tea consisting of ginger, lemon and honey and set it down in front of him. “Drink this. It should ease the coughing. Please drink all of its contents. I shall return momentarily.” It was not long before she returned with a handful of tree leaves.

The man sipped his tea and curiously watched the woman. His hand shook and he could not take his eyes away from her cream colored neck. After draining the cup of its nectar, he returned the cup on its saucer and rose to assist her by carrying the bowl of hot liquid and leaves to the table. As he sat back down, she instructed him to place his head over the bowl. As he did so, she covered his head and bowl with her shawl to trap the steam and told him to inhale deeply. “This should aid thee with the wheezing milord.”

After a few deep breaths, his wheezing eased. “That’s better, I think. Thank you”

Deminatza smiled. “I must return before my beloved wakes and wonders where I am. Continue to inhale until the water has cooled or until the wheezing has dissipated. I bid thee goodnight,” she bowed and returned to her apartment.

Is this the man Scar had spoke of earlier this e’en tide. Perhaps I shall venture to into town and purchase more herbs for him. She reached their bed chamber and carefully slid into bed and thought she succeeded in not waking Scar, however his words revealed her failure.

“Is all well,” Scar curiously inquired drowsily.
“Aye, milord. All is well. Sleep now,” Deminatza whispered as she settled herself with her back against his chest and felt the safety of his embrace, allowing sleep to overcome her.


Gnawing Perplexities

Magnus watched Deminatza walk away, as gracefully as any swan he had ever seen land or take flight. A momentary wisp of jealousy flickered and faded - how lucky Scar was - only to make him feel more guilty and frustrated than he had already become.

Something was wrong, terribly so. He wondered if an overactive libido was the root of it? He was up late into the night often with Mahal, and he slept the days away. He found his cooking skills diminished; no one seemed to want to eat anything he made, and he didn't either. Certainly garlic was out. He had regurgitated the last meal over imbibing that. The odor alone was repellingly nauseating. Even if he felt like hunting, he didn't have the strength to pursue it with any enthusiasm.

He had sores on his neck but he dismissed that as natural. Every moment of the day he thought about her, Mahal, entranced by the woman of his dreams.

His dreams...

Same as always. She was there by his bedside. That smile, strange, stalking, like a tiger ready to pounce. Darkness. Pain. Weakness. Bliss. He awoke and it was daylight... each time.

He loved her, he knew that... or thought he did. Yet whatever it was, it was killing him slowly and he knew it. Oddly, he didn't seem to care overmuch. In a strange way he welcomed it as it seemed too far gone to remedy, and if he had one now for it, he would not take it.

He felt his stomach rolling over. The tea. Something in it was making him sick. It had to go...



An unfamiliar scent wafted into Mahal’s bedroom as Magnus made his in.

“I have missed you, Poppet. Where have you been?,” Mahal inquired sweetly, her eyes betraying the fury brewing within. Before he could answer, Mahal located the redolence of femininity and within moments, she stood before him, toying with the material that rested about his neck. Misunderstanding her intention, he grinned, pulled her body to his in an attempt to whet his salacious appetite.

“Lover,” Mahal began unmoved by his advances.
“Is this for me?” she purred tugging at the material.

Magnus pulled away a moment see the object of her inquiry and shrugged. “A woman gave it to me,” he said, closing his eyes as he leaned in kissing her collar bone, moving hungrily north for her lips, missing the dangerous glint in her eye.

“A woman,” Mahal spoke through gritted teeth.
“Uh huh. Just someone lives with me,” he said distractedly, oblivious to the steely tone in her voice.

Mahal thrusted Magnus down onto the bed. Pleased with this new boudoir game, he reached out for waistband of her skirt and met Mahal’s eyes. The last thing he recalled was hearing the word “Sleep” before the world went dark.


She stormed into the room where he often conducted his business.

“Teach me how to hunt,” she demanded. He looked up from the documents splayed across the desk and gave her an amused smile.
“What is the prey,” he inquired. She hurled the shawl in his direction and as it glided towards him, he had his answer. He caught the material with ease, folded it neatly and placed it neatly on a vacant spot on his desk.

“You said you would teach me!”
“I did.”
“Then teach me!!”
“I shall.”
“Starting with this one!”
“Why not,” she demanded.

The Elder leaned back in his seat, resting his hands on the arms of his chair and merely sat in silence watching patiently. Furious, she grabbed any item within reach and hurled it at the Elder with incredible speed. Her aim would have been true, if a colossal hand had not barred the object’s path, hitting it with a impotent thwack. He remained unperturbed and appeared even more amused which, in turn, stoked her fury. Unable to articulate her outrage, she performed a sharp about face and exited the room, slamming the door behind her, causing displacement of innocent paintings that hung nearby.

“Follow her.”
The Necromari moved into view long enough to genuflect before returning into the shadows to do as her master bade.

“My queen is spirited, is she not,” the Elder pondered, grinning broader. Gurtog, the half troll guard stood vigilant at his side, remained silent. He returned his attention to the documents, not realizing his hand was resting atop the shawl.
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Sacred Journey seemed to fail him more often than not, of late. After two attempts Magnus materialized in front of Sanctuary, his home for several months. As he climbed the marble steps, an invisible hand pushed him back causing him nearly to fall. He steadied himself and tried again... to no avail. He could not enter by the front way; it was a fact. He stepped back onto the turf. His mind raced. What had Itannar told him about the Ankh and its purpose? It was emplaced to help those who had perished, to resurrect them, but it also was a symbol to ward off forms of invisible evil that sought to infiltrate the premises to spy and cause harm. What then could it mean that it would block his entry?

For some time now he knew he was not the man he was. For one thing he was too single-minded. His world revolved around his love, Mahal. Nothing else mattered: eating, sleeping, hunting, it was all in the past. He knelt to the ground, put his hands on his face and wept, shaking his head. What had he done? What was the offense to the code? What gods had he offended? He had no idea.

Trembling hands wiped an honest face wet with tears. Magnus stood up, composing himself. Marshalling his strength he cried out his uncle's name several times. That he was heard was evidenced by the sound of the front doors opening and the appearance of the one he sought: Itannar.

"Magnus?! What's the matter? Let me take a look at you," he said, closing the distance between them extending a comforting hand.

He recoiled, refusing the touch. Itannar stopped, frowning in disappointment and stepped back. "What is wrong, nephew?"

Tears welled again in Magnus' eyes and his lip quivered slightly, just like that of a reprimanded child. "Uncle I... I... cannot get... inside. I know not why," he explained.

Itannar's eyes widened and he sucked in his breath. "That's not possible! There's nothing here to prevent it!"

Magnus shook his head. "No, no. There is. The power of the Ankh there; it is keeping me out," he glanced at the object then back to his uncle. “I don’t know what to do!”

“You can still enter by the portal from the safehouse. Go there and come inside. We will talk then,” he suggested.

Nodding, Magnus cast the Sacred Journey spell on the rune to that place. It failed. Once. Twice. Three times. The fourth try succeeded. He vanished from view.

Itannar turned to slowly walk back inside. The gods of Light were rejecting his nephew as his calling upon them was costing more and more. Their patience was ending. He had sinned greatly. Whatever course he was on, they would no longer bless it or him. He lowered his head as he walked. Compassion, Itannar. Compassion.