Dream of Anduir
            (© by lunarsangel 2005, all rights reserved)

        The following story is a work of pure fiction and contains homoerotism as well as some
good ol’ medieval bow-and-sword action. If either of these offends you, you’re most probably
here by accident anyway and should better leave now. Same advice for those under legal age
to read stuff like this or living someplace where it’s illegal (wherever that may be). But maybe
you have already decided on disobeying your authorities. In this case you might just as well
read on. I can’t stop you anyway, can I?
        And for everybody else, who actually came here to read this story: Glad you dropped by!
Hope you had a nice start into the new year! And good luck with your New Year’s pledges.  ; )
Enjoy the story!

Author’s note:
        First, I want to thank all of you guys who went for filling up my in-box. Most of the mails
I received were totally positive and supportive. I’m really happy about that and look forward
to hear from you again! The rest were a few critical mails, but all of them solely constructive. I
appreciate that just as much and will try to follow your tips and suggestions as far as I see it fit
and my writing-skills will allow. I asked for it after all and would be glad to get further
        Secondly, I want to apologize for letting you wait so AWFULLY long for this chapter. The
reason is that my studies are quite time consuming, leaving only several hours of free-time per
day… and by then I’ve neither eaten nor watched ‘Simpsons’, so…
        Thirdly, this chapter’s gonna contain lots of information about the characters and their
background. Many of you specifically asked for it, although I had it planned that way
anyhow. Hope it’s neither too much nor too boring. Of course I added some action, too... 
        What else to say? If you read the ‘author’s note’-part of the first chapter, you should know
everything necessary to get along with this chapter, too... If you didn’t read it, don’t blame me.
I told you I’d wash my hands of it.  ; )

    Chapter II – White Mists

        They walked next to each other on their way to Thurbin Castle. The Firewood bordering
the winding road had become less dense during the last hours and a comfortable light breeze
cooled off the day’s sultry heat. Nightfall was nearing and the first calls of some early
nocturnal birds could be heard in the distance. The sun had almost reached the horizon and
sent its last warm rays shining through the leaves above.

        Vincent glanced at Enorín. His companion turned his head slightly to meet his gaze, but
smiled only weakly and focused back on the road again. Vincent sighed inwardly. Enorín had
been engrossed in deep thought since they had left Hewings. Aside from some small talk
during breakfast, which had been quite opulent thanks to the villagers’ generosity, they hadn’t
talked much today. This was not exactly like he had pictured travelling together. Vincent felt a
bit neglected and was admittedly almost bursting with curiosity. So many questions he
wanted to ask and if it wasn’t for his ambition to give a good impression, he would already
have assailed him. So he brought himself to wait and not disturb Enorín’s pondering.
        It had to be yesterday’s funeral that still occupied his mind.

        Estrith, the deceased cleric’s widow, had given Enorín a quite intensive private lesson to
teach him the proper sermons and procedures. As a strange fate would have it, Estrith was the
same elderly woman Vincent had seen hiding when the goblins attacked Hewings. Seemingly
instigated by her husband’s sacrifice, she had spared no effort to make a proper ceremony
possible and kept Enorín busy far into the night. During that night, somewhat missing his
roommate, Vincent had asked himself several times why his new friend would not frankly tell
her he was no ministrant and knew nothing whatsoever about human funerals and religion.
One reason he came upon might have been that Enorín merely didn’t want to disappoint her.
Although very admirable, he found another thought far more thrilling: What if he wanted to
keep the villagers in the dark about his true identity? This would mean Enorín had shared a
secret, his personal secret, just with him. Holding to this idea, Vincent had slept well that
night at last.

        The noon thereafter, the funeral had taken place. Enorín had played his part well,
considering he had only one day to prepare himself. Of course there had been several
stumbles during the longbreathed sermon, like most religious texts indited in the old
Valmarian tongue, but he had really done his best. And although some of the elder villagers
had given him critical glances when Enorín hesitated to call upon the Almighty’s blessings,
quite unusual for a ministrant of the Church of Valmar, no one had mentioned it afterwards.
Most probably they were just glad somebody had been there to hold the funeral and enabled
them to finally go on with their lives. Besides they knew very well that without Enorín’s help
and prayers, there would have been even more people to burry… and Vincent might have
been one of them…

        He looked at Enorín again, but this time the half-elf did not seem to notice. When they
had left Hewings this morning, he had managed to surprise Vincent anew: His appearance
showed clearly he was expecting more trouble to come.
        Atop of his white shirt Enorín wore a tight fitting chain mail. Vincent was definitely no
blacksmith, but judging by what he saw this armour was a masterpiece of craftsmanship. He
had always expected such a thing to be noisy and encumbering, but the rings of this chain
mail were so delicate and perfectly arranged that it merely made any noise as Enorín moved,
seemingly unaware of his burden. Meanwhile, after walking next to him for almost a whole
day, Vincent actually doubted it might offer any kind of protection at all, being simply a
nice… a very nice accessory.  
        The armour’s material confirmed this assumption, as it seemed to be white gold,
considering its colour and silvery shimmer. The silvery shimmer… at least one of the
mysteries surrounding his companion was solved… even without asking. But as little as
Vincent knew about weapons, armours and so forth, his expertise in alchemy told him that
making a chain mail out of gold wouldn’t make any sense… It certainly had to be some kind
of alloy… Hell, how could he ever expect to have all of his questions answered if new ones
kept popping up all the time?
        To his side, Enorín bore a slender, slightly curved sword which Vincent would refer to as
rapier, albeit knowing this guess would most probably be wrong. The sheath was discretely
yet beautifully ornamented with some kind of leaf pattern that carried on to the hilt. His
unstringed bow, which towered the white-feathered arrow shafts jutting from the shouldered
quiver, had similar vine-like carvings and therefore matched the other weapon perfectly.
Vincent was sure Enorín carried a fortune about with him, probably without even being aware
of it.
        The sparkling of Enorín’s golden necklace attracted Vincent’s attention. Speaking of
valuables, how could he forget about this one?  The pendant attached to the slender chain, a
golden rose, the petals carved from some beautiful dark-red gemstone, was so incredibly
detailed that only its small size and of course the material kept Vincent from believing it might
be real. In fact he envied the half-elf a bit for growing up amidst all this mystery and beauty.
His hometown Dunburgh had to look like a dump compared to the place Enorín came from…
wherever that might be.

        Vincent almost tripped over a salient root. By now the sun had finally sunken below the
tree tops and the growing shadows veiled their path. Apparently unaware, Enorín simply
walked on. Somewhat irritated Vincent decided it was time to interrupt his companion’s
        “It’s getting dark. Maybe we should find a place to rest and light a fire…”

        Enorín looked up, almost surprised to hear Vincent’s voice. “What? Oh, yeah… sure.”
Awaking from of his virtually meditative state he checked their surrounding. Eventually he
turned back to Vincent, pointing to his right.
       “We could try to reach those red beeches over there. Looks like a nice place.”

        Vincent could make out the group of close standing trees in the remainder of daylight. It
really seemed to be a kind of sheltered spot. So he nodded, left the road and began to make his
way through the undergrowth.

        Enorín followed close by and caught up with him. “Sorry… I was kind of lost in thought”

        “Tell me about it.” Vincent muttered under his breath.

        “Um, well…” Enorín began, obviously a bit confused, “I think yesterday’s events…”

        ”Err, it’s only a saying.” Vincent interrupted, as a smile inevitably spread on his face
despite his intention to pout for a while. “It means I noticed you were… and besides I already
figured out why, so no need to tell me…”

        Enorín grinned sheepishly. “Oh…sorry…”

        Vincent shook his head in disbelief. Something about this boy made it impossible to be
mad at him, even it was mostly pretended.

        Finally they arrived underneath the beeches. Surrounding a small swale, the trees offered
a perfect place to light a fire, which most probably could not be seen from the road going by
less than a quarter mile away. So they piled up the wood they had collected after leaving the
road in silent cooperation. Using flint and steel stored in a small side pocked of his backpack,
Vincent got the fire started in no time.
        As the flames were flickering happily, Vincent sat back leaning against a tree trunk and
watched Enorín who was taking off his chain mail. He was determined to get at least one of
his questions answered today, so he decided to give it a try.

        “This is the most impressing piece of armour I’ve ever seen.”

        Somewhat puzzled, Enorín looked at him for an instant before eying the metal fabric in
his hands. As if recognizing its outward beauty for the first time, a slight smile accompanied
the ambivalent memories connected with this heirloom. 
        “Yeah… it’s nice…”

        “A bit more than just nice, if you ask me. Was… was it crafted by the elves?”

        Once again, the elders’ words echoed in Enorín’s head. They had told him not to trust the
humans, not to reveal any secret and not to tell anyone too much about himself. Enorín knew
it had not been an order withal a well meant advice. Therefore this was exactly how he had
planned to treat it, judging on his own who to trust and what to reveal. And somehow he felt
that he could trust Vincent.
        But instead of simply answering, he went over, crouched next to him and offered him the
folded chain mail. Vincent hesitated a brief moment. But then his curiosity prevailed.
Carefully, nigh reverently, he took the shimmering package, almost feeling like taking part in
some strange ceremony. Although expecting it to a certain extent, he was quite surprised by
its little weight.
        “It’s… it’s barely heavier than cloth! What kind of metal is this? Kinda looks like white
gold, but…”

        “The elves call it Anovorn… Sunsteel. But please don’t ask me how they make it. I’ve
absolutely no idea…“

        Vincent let his fingertips slide over the cold surface. Under his gentle touch the metal got
warm, adapting to his skin instantaneously.  Sunsteel… despite its weight Vincent could
almost feel its strength flowing through his fingers. By now the mere thought of doubting the
armour’s protective properties appeared quite foolish to him.
        Completely fascinated, he didn’t notice Enorín taking the food bag they had gotten
shortly before their departure from Hewings and searching it for something to eat. Thus he
was sort of startled when Enorín passed him a slice of bread and some cheese. Smiling, they
exchanged food with chain mail and Enorín put the latter in his backpack, before he also
began to eat.

        In between two bites, considering how frank Enorín had been so far, Vincent wanted to
risk a second, more personal question.     
        “Enorín, I was wondering… where exactly do you come from?”

        A few moments of silence passed, only disturbed by the crackling of their fire and a sole
owl’s call in the distance.
        “Hmm… north of Dunburgh, I’d say.” Enorín answered, checking his mental image of
the map he‘d seen several weeks ago.

        “North? But there’s nothing but the Greywall Mountains… and beyond lies only

        “You forgot the High Forests.“ Enorín stated kindly. “Enclosed by the mountains, they
harbour Hûn Ethuil, the Heart of Spring, the place I was born and lived so far.” He shrugged.
“What else reason could I have for passing through Hewings than taking the shortest route
south to Thurbin Castle?” 
        “Yes, but… that…” Quite confused, Vincent tried to get his thoughts back into order,
holding on to what he claimed to know. “But that cannot be. The High Forests are perfectly
mapped… and there’s nothing but rocks and trees. How could a whole people live there
without being discovered?”

        “Because they don’t want to be.”

        This answer hit Vincent like a brick stone. What incredible secrets must lie there,
unnoticed by any human for ages…yet… there had been one exception!
        “But… you said your father was human. How could he discover them?”

        The vague shadow of pain appearing on Enorín’s face made Vincent regret this
imprudent question immediately.
        “You don’t have to tell me, of course…”
        Enorín gave him a long, thoughtful look, then he shook his head slightly smiling. “No, it’s
okay… But you’ll owe me some answers afterwards, too. Deal?“

         Vincent nodded slowly, not too eager having to tell this boy about his own, not so
glorious past. But it was only fair.

        The half-elf tossed another log into their little fire, sending a flock of glowing sparks into
the starlit night sky above. 
        “My father was a soldier, serving the army of your homeland. After years of loyal service,
in the course of some ranking scheme, he… he had been accused of something… terrible he
would never have done… But instead of simply awaiting an unjust punishment, he fled. He
thought the mountains would offer him sufficient protection, at least for while, but he was
wrong. Their blood hounds found him and he had to flee anew. They almost had hunted him
down when he finally reached the High Forests. Badly injured and almost starving, he saw his
last chance in hiding in the woods. That’s when my mother took notice of him. She caused the
hounds to lose his track and thus led the persecutors astray. Afterwards, she went looking for
my father and found him unconscious. Cause she didn’t have the heart to just leave him there
to die, she took him to one of the hidden outposts, usually used for hunting and watching the
borders, as it’s forbidden for non-elves to enter Hûn Ethuil. There she took care of him and
while he slowly recovered, my mother noticed that, day by day, her feelings somehow became
more than just compassion. For my father it must have been love at first sight… After some
time and many deep glances and conversations, my mother decided she wanted him to be
part of her life. So they performed the Song of Unison… that’s a ritual of engagement. Of
course, she knew this overweighed most other laws and so she was able to take my father to
Hûn Ethil. The other elves, first of all the elders, were more than displeased to see an ill-clad
and open-mouthed human walking through their city. But there wasn’t much they could do
about it despite of showing their disapproval every chance they got. And most of them did
that quite well. Tired of being mostly ignored, my father tried to prove his worth and skill in
several occasions, but without noteworthy success. One day he volunteered for a dangerous
task none of the elves was willing to do… The ones sent to look for him returned with his
        A single tear ran down Enorín’s cheek but he didn’t seem to notice. Despite this tear, his
voice was steady and strangely unaffected, almost as if he was talking about someone else’s
past, not his own.
        “Of course my mother was very upset and blamed the others’ haughty attitude and
arrogance for his death. Tardily regretting and ashamed the elders decided to honour him by
giving him an elven funeral… And that’s why yesterday’s ceremony occupied me that
much… It was so different… and I wondered if my father can rest in peace without all those
human rites…”

        Enorín fell silent and stared into the fire. Although quite unusual for him, Vincent felt the
urge to express his sympathy.
        “I’m sorry… and I’m sure your father’s well, wherever he may be…”

        The half-elf looked at him with a weak but grateful smile for several moments before
gazing to the stars above. “Yes… of course he is…”

        A long pause followed. Vincent knew it might be better not to inquire any further but his
inquisitive mind desired to learn the rest of Enorín’s tale.
        “But if your father… passed, how…?”

        Guessing the intention of Vincent’s question, Enorín continued, still watching the dark
sky. “My mother was already carrying me when he left. She knew but didn’t tell him. I think
she didn’t want to hinder his ambition to get finally accepted. And so I was all she had left of
him… that’s why she named me Enorín. It means ‘Memory of Enor’, my father. Yet it seems
this wasn’t enough to fill the emptiness and ease the pain. She passed only a few months after
she gave me birth… “

        Now Vincent was truly struck. As much as he wished, he couldn’t think of anything to
say to comfort Enorín… although he still didn’t appear to need any consolation.

        “So I was given to one of the temples, where my mother’s older brother took care of me.
He raised me in accordance with the teachings of Melyanna and when I was old enough to
understand, he told me what happened to my parents. Although quite upsetting, I’ve to admit
that no one in Hûn Ethil ever treated me with disrespect. So I think I’ve no reason to be angry
with them. Most probably I’ve benefited from their feelings of guilt and will do so for the rest
of my life. There’s not much I can do about it, so…”
        Suddenly he lowered his gaze and looked straight at Vincent. “But what about you? You
promised to answer some of my questions, too. So, please, tell me about yourself.”

        Suddenly Vincent realized the great difference between their lives. Not their difference in
race, profession or origin, but Enorín had lost his parents before he even had a chance to get
them known. Vincent, on the other hand, had abandoned his parents, rejected them, because
they wouldn’t accord with his wishes. His father absolutely wanted him to take over the
family business. But Vincent had never wasted a thought on becoming a petty merchant like
him… His less gifted younger brother would fit this role perfectly. How he had hated those
endless debates about responsibility and family tradition…
        Ever since Vincent had listened to the first tale of wise wizards and mightful warlocks, he
dreamed of gaining such insight and power. And it’s safe to say that it would have remained a
dream, if he hadn’t heard of Almaric one day. Being a sage and the baron’s advisor he was
well known and somewhat feared in Dunburgh and beyond the city’s limits. And certainly he
had been the only person able to make Vincent’s dream come true. Convincing Almaric to
accept him as his apprentice and teach him his secrets surely had not been easy, as well as
bringing up the courage to visit him in the first place. But finally Vincent’s iron determination
had succeeded. Less than an hour passed until he had packed up his things and left his
parent’s house. He couldn’t even remember if they were crying or shouting…

          There was no way he could frankly tell Enorín all this. He would appear like a
monster… and maybe he was… he had to come up with something else…
        “There is nothing too interesting about my life in Dunburgh… as there’s nothing
interesting about this place in general…” he stated with a faked smile, trying to cover his
uneasiness. “Basically I have been fascinated by tales of wizards and magic as long as I can
remember. And when I was finally old enough to be considered, I requested to become
Almaric’s apprentice. He was - and still is - a well known sage in Dunburgh. My parents were
not overly pleased, but it’s my life after all. In the end I was lucky enough to be accepted. So I
went through years of hard study and work and… well, now I’m here. Not very

        Enorín looked at him quizzically, making Vincent somewhat nervous. The half-elf
remembered their first real conversation very well, that morning in Hewings’ inn. He had felt
it right then, when Vincent mentioned his former master for the first time, that his leaving
could not have been a friendly farewell.  
        “So you have completed your studies? Or was there any other reason for leaving?”

        Although Vincent wasn’t too eager to talk about this topic, he was relieved having
evaded another question about his family.
        “Hmm, yes… something happened. It was no certain event, but… It appeared to me that
Almaric almost tried to hinder my progress. He assigned me more and more quite senseless
tasks having absolutely nothing to do with my studies and refused to give me the materials I
needed. I don’t know why, cause when I asked, he always answered in an evasive manner.

One day, now a bit more than a week ago, I was really fed up and I told him like it is. First we
discussed, then we argued and finally we shouted. That’s when I left. Meanwhile I know
enough to advance without this old fool’s help.”

        The moment he spoke it out, he cursed himself inwardly. Hell! A great start for making a
good impression! But Enorín did not seem to bother as he already came up with his next
        “But what are you going to do now… I mean after visiting this mage in Thurbin Castle?”

        Vincent hesitated. He had to admit that he hadn’t thought about it much. His journey,
opposed to Enorín’s, was not a quest of higher merits. And he couldn’t possibly tell him that
he wanted to roam the country to simply amass power and earn peoples’ respect and awe…
That’s when he remembered something he once had read.
        “I want to join the Liga Transmutate. That’s a reputable society of mages, a guild of
Changers to be exact. But to be able to join, I’ve got to establish some reputation and get
        It was a lie, yet if Enorín had noticed, he did not show. Actually Vincent never had
thought about joining a guild. But now he had mentioned it, it didn’t seem to be such a bad
idea after all. Maybe one day… so it hadn’t been a real lie… at least by now… 

        „Liga Transmutate? Hmm… sounds similar to those sermon texts. I wanted to ask Estrith
about it, but forgot it in the end...” Enorín muttered, not really expecting an answer.

        But Vincent was more than willing to distract the conversation from his person, so he
swiftly replied, also glad to be able to show some of his qualities.
        “That’s the old Valmarian tongue, also called Valcan. Although actually a dead language,
it’s used in most religious and academical writings and therefore considered the language of
scholars. Valmar once had been a big empire, but today it’s a duchy in the Southern Quarter of
Branduria Kingdom. It’s said they’ve always nice weather down there… but besides it’s the
religious centre of whole Branduria. The Custor’s Palace and Primal Dome are seated there.”
        Noticing Enorín’s questioning look, he promptly added “Oh, the Custor is the head of the
Valmarian Church, responsible to no one but the Almighty himself.”

        “Ah, so he’s the High Priest of your deity.” Enorín concluded.

        Vincent flinched, hearing this almost blasphemous entitlement. “Err… yeah… you could
say so… but better don’t call him like that when you’re finally at St. Eustace’s. Our priests
tend to be somewhat touchy concerning titles and the like.”

        Enorín began to smile but it turned into a yawn.

        “Perhaps we should call it a night.” Vincent suggested with a sly grin. More than content
with all he learned today, the mage didn’t doubt he’d rest well, especially in Enorín’s pleasant

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

        The next day Enorín seemed to have shaken off his pondering mood. As they walked, he
hummed a soft, joyous melody which blended with the forest’s unobtrusive song. Often
Vincent wasn’t able to tell without a doubt, whether Enorín paused or not. Once in a while the
half-elf even sang short elvish verses, most probably unaware, as he almost whispered them.
Fascinated by the strange words and unknown melodies as well as Enorín’s beautiful voice,
Vincent enjoyed the morning, although they hadn’t talked much so far. Actually he did not
mind that at all, as he was definitively no morning person and too much, perhaps even forced
conversation in the morning could really spoil his mood. His parents, brother and former
master knew this only too well...
        After taking a short pause around noon to eat and rest their feet, Vincent felt ready to
gather some more information about his companion as they continued walking.
        “You’re a great singer… better than anyone I knew so far.”

        Enorín smiled and even blushed a bit. “Thanks. It was all part of my training in the
temple. I really hated it in the beginning... especially singing in front of others. But over the
years I got used to it somehow. And now I actually enjoy it... but performing for a greater
audience still freaks me out.” He looked at Vincent, the golden hue of his hazel eyes making
the human’s heart skip a beat.

        “Yesterday... you mentioned several temples. Has Melyanna more than just one temple
in... Hûn Ethil?” Despite the fact it might be considered a bit childish, he felt somewhat proud
to remember and, in his opinion, pronounce the city’s name correctly.  

        “No, there’s only one temple dedicated to the Lady of Dawn. But of course there are
temples of other elven deities, too.” Enorín stated nonchalantly, trying to hide his amusement
over Vincent’s predictable reaction he observed with a side glance.  

        “Other deities?!“ Vincent blurted out in disbelief. After acknowledging Enorín’s goddess,
the possible the existence of other elven deities wouldn’t have posed a major problem to him.
It was something else he found much more shocking: Of course the erudite mage had heard of
polytheism, but he considered it to be a less civilised, not so say primitive, form of religion,
nothing he would expect from an apparently more advanced culture like his imagination of
the elven people.

        “Sure.” Enorín answered calmly. “Melyanna, the Lady of Dawn, is our goddess of love,
beauty, art, home and friendship. But we also revere other gods and goddesses, each one
ruling over different aspects of our lives. I have to admit, it has to appear strange to someone
used to see all power in the hands of one almighty god. But on the other hand...“

        A sudden noise ahead interrupted Enorín’s explanations. Four goblins were literally
bursting out of the bushes, not more than six yards away, as one of them had tripped under
the weight of the brought down young boar they were carrying. Equally surprised the two
parties stared at each other motionlessly.
        Vincent became aware of their weapons, long knives and crossbows, used to kill the boar
but also perfectly suitable to take out two travellers. A wicked grin spread on one of goblins’
face, revealing his yellowish, pointed teeth. Vincent’s decision was made. He would prove his
        With three quick steps he stood between Enorín and their opponents, already holding out
his right hand.
        Rissin wanest karme!”
        Bright flames flashed forth from his palm, engulfing the screaming goblins. The fire
vanished as swift as it had appeared, although the three dead goblins’ rags and the boar’s fur
were still burning. The fourth goblin stumbled backwards, clasping his burnt left arm in pain.
He stared at the magician in disbelief and fear for the blink of an eye. Then he turned around
and ran for his life, without looking at his dead comrades just once more.

        Vincent turned back to Enorín with a self-confidant smile. Yet it faded quickly as he saw
Enorín’s shocked expression, staring wide-eyed at the smouldering bodies. Vincent followed
his gaze, now realizing the cruelty of this scene. The tripped goblin didn’t even have a chance
to get up. He lay there in exactly the same position, except his scorched face and hands were
twisted in agony. Averting his eyes, Vincent approached his companion. His mind, recovering
fast from the exertion of spellcasting, raced to eloquently justify his deed. Enorín
automatically backed a step away and looked discomposedly at Vincent, causing him to stop
dead in his tracks. The desperation to find the proper words and his apparent failure made
him angry, mostly with himself.   

        “I only tried to protect you!” Vincent blurted out. “They would have tried to kill us!”
He turned around and walked away. With each step his anger faded and was gradually
replaced by shame. Yet it was too late to apologize. He couldn’t undo what had happened. 

        Enorín followed a few steps behind, once again engrossed in thought. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

        They put up their camp on a little clearing featuring several big sandstone rocks and a
sandy soil almost without any grass or leaves, offering a good place for a campfire. So they
started to collect some wood in the surrounding area.
        As soon as the fire was built, they sat down to eat, leaning against the smooth sandstone.
As they hadn’t talked since their encounter with the goblins, Vincent was a bit surprised when
Enorín suddenly spoke.
         “Tell me about it.”

        “About what?” Vincent answered, still somewhat sullenly.

        “About magic. I want to understand.”

        “I thought the elves were such great magicians. Didn’t they teach you?” Vincent
apparently tried to avoid eye contact and stared into the fire.  

        “I only know that I never witnessed anything like what you did today. I guess the
essential thing about elven magic is you don’t notice it. At least I never did.” Vincent glanced
at him, the spark of curiosity reflecting in his eyes. Knowing he had his friend’s attention now,
Enorín continued.
        “Four of them against the two of us... I know the goblins would have attacked us. But
you’ve to understand that what you did was quite a shock to me. It’s nothing you’d actually
expect to happen, is it? Yet I also want to understand. But I can’t without your help. So please
tell me about human magic... about your magic.”

        Vincent could not resist. Neither Enorín’s offer of reconciliation nor the opportunity to
share his knowledge. Strangely those dark feelings of anger and shame, which usually would
have gnawed at his mind for several days leastwise, faded quickly in Enorín’s presence. ‘The
essential thing about elven magic is you don’t notice it’. His words certainly were true.

        “Hmm, let’s see…” Although there were hundreds of books in Almaric’s library and he
had read most of them, Vincent did not know where to begin. But after several moments of
reflection, his face lit up, as he got the idea.
        “Okay, listen. Once there was a really big federation of mages, called the ‘Great Guild’. Its
members were spread all over the known world… Magic certainly must have been a lot more
widespread back then. I’ve only heard of a handful of mages, knowing none of them in person
but my former master… Well, more than a millennia ago the Guild’s High Council decided to
divide all spells existing at the time into eight domains of magic and defined strict rules to
classify and assign every upcoming new spell. Their intention was to create a more reliable
and logical approach to magic, to make it more manageable, so to speak. But I’m sure they
didn’t mind the good deal of extra control they gained that way, too. Nevertheless, to cut a
long story short, the Great Guild doesn’t exist anymore. About six hundred years ago, several
council members clashed due to rather petty questions of personal influence. But instead of
settling the problems in a dignified manner, the quarrel dragged on and somewhat escalated.
This caused quite a huff in the lower ranks and many mages resigned from the Guild. The
High Council had lost its credibility. Yet many historians share the opinion that the break-up
would merely have been a matter of time. The Guild had existed for too long and its old-
established structures and deadlocked hierarchies were simply out of date.”

        “But didn’t you talk about joining a guild?” Enorín interjected.
       It took Vincent several moments to realize Enorín referred to yesterday’s little white lie.
“Err… yes, I did. During the decades and centuries of the Guild’s steady and final decline,
several scattered groups set up new organisations. Most of them were flashes in the pan, but a
few grew strong and still exist today… like the Liga Transmutate. But none of them came even
close to match the Great Guild’s magnitude and power, ever.”

        “So the Great Guild has really vanished completely?”
        “Almost. The only things remaining were some tales, legendary names and the Council’s
division of magic, of course. Giving you this lesson in human history wouldn’t be necessary
otherwise…” Vincent tossed in, worrying he might bore his new friend, his interest probably
being only politeness.

        Enorín smiled warmly. “That’s why I actually left the Heart of Spring, remember?”

        “Oh, right...” Vincent muttered, partly abashed having misjudged him, partly glad to
have a willing listener. “Well, those eight domains I mentioned before, they are called the
‘Eight Great Paths of Magic’ or the ‘Eight Arts’. Each one presents another philosophic
approach to magic and therefore offers certain possibilities. While some effects are unique to
one Path, others might be accomplished by various ways using different Arts.”
        Vincent took a stick from the pile of wood they had collected to sustain their small
campfire over night and began to scratch straight lines into the loose, sandy soil.
        “That’s how it’s officially illustrated.” he continued, skilfully drawing on as he spoke.
“The Eight Paths, each one being opposed by another, each one having two more ore less
similar neighbours.”
        He sat back and looked at the now finished and perfectly symmetric octagram. With a
content nod, he added a strange rune right above the star’s upper point. “This symbol
represents the Art of Changing, my chosen Path. It offers the power to alter reality, like
manipulating the passage of time, varying one’s outward appearance, transmuting rock into
dust…or air into fire.”
        Their eyes met as Vincent wanted to check on his companion’s reaction. He was prepared
to see objection or criticism. But he found nothing suchlike besides the desired astonishment.
If Enorín still had qualms about his magic, he hid it well.
        Quite relieved, Vincent carried on and drew another rune right under the opposing point.
“This one stands for the Art of Warding. Contrary to the Art of Changing this Path seeks to
preserve reality as it is, offering mostly protective, restricting and revoking magic.”
        Proceeding rather quickly, he scratched a sign next to the left point. “The Art of Bringing
evokes raw energies, elemental as well as physical, able to cause serious destruction but also
usable for many other purposes. Well, leastways if things don’t get too complex.”

        “But… wouldn’t flames... coming from your hand be one of those… elemental things?”
Enorín asked, trying to keep up with Vincent’s explanations. 

        “Like I said, there can be several ways to accomplish an effect. As long as a rather small
area is concerned, turning air into fire is much easier for me. But as the difficulty doing so
would increase with every foot and inch affected, I had to rely on the Art of Bringing if I
desired a really big blaze. However, I neither possess such a spell nor do I plan on it, so…”

        Enorín seemed somewhat pleased as he smiled and focused his attention back on the
drawing. Vincent took this as a sign to go on and with a swift movement of the stick another
rune appeared next to the octagram’s right point.              

        “Here we have the Art of Charming whose spells influence thoughts, actions and abilities
by using subtle, mainly mental energies. Therefore it is considered to be the antipole to the
rather violent and physical Art of Bringing. But just as its opposite can be beneficial, charms
can cause quite havoc, too. I think it’s always about how you use a Path, anyway.” A short
pause followed as Vincent took a sip from his waterskin.
        “The Paths I told you about so far are referred to as Primary Arts, cause they tend to
affect their respective targets directly. The remaining points of the octagon are assigned to the
four Mediate Arts. As one can easily guess, their effects are considered mainly indirect. Each
Primary Art neighbours two Mediate Arts and vice versa.”

        Vincent expertly drew the four missing runes and leaned back against the rock. While he
continued talking, he fiddled with the stick, occasionally pointing at his sketch.      

        “The rune at the upper left point, in between Changing and Bringing, symbolizes the Art
of Seeing. Clairvoyance, divination, discovery, gaining knowledge… you name it. Cause the
most powerful visions can only be granted by higher powers - who- or whatever they might
be - a Seer has to maintain a certain degree of humility and piety. And that’s why this Path
contrasts the Art of Binding. It deals with summoning various beings, like animals, beasts,
elemental spirits or even demons in the worst case, either to unleash a singular special power
or to force them into enduring service. Therefore a Binder can’t and won’t accept anyone
above himself. He’ll always try to have the upper hand in every situation and to gain ultimate
control in the end.”

        “Sounds not like someone I’d like to meet.” Enorín muttered, slightly uncomfortable.

        “I can’t tell… never met one myself, so... But it’s said to be a quite dangerous Path,
probably only matched by the Art of Calling. And I know for sure that I don’t want to
acquaint with a Caller.”

        “What on earth could be more dreadful than dealing with the fiends?!” The priest
exclaimed, clearly showing he could not imagine anything worse.

        “Maybe dealing with the dead.” Vincent stated as he pointed at the lower left rune.
“Cause that’s what Callers do. To be honest, I don’t know too much detail about Calling and
Binding, as my studies had other focal points. But I think there are only few Binders who
actually engage in conjuring demonic powers, though every spell of Calling inevitably draws
upon the netherworld and its denizens.”

        Enorín almost shuddered in obvious discomfort. So Vincent decided to go on without any
further examples.
         “Well, one more to go. In between Changing and Charming you’ll find the Path of
Weaving. Quite delicate just like Charming, its approach to magic is almost artistic. By
manipulating light, shadow, sounds and so on, but also perception, its spells create illusions,
seemingly change reality and deceive the senses. That’s why it’s opposed to the Art of Calling.
Seems you can’t fool a ghost or the like with an illusion as it doesn’t belong to this world
anymore. So when it’s brought back by one mean or another it is said to perceive reality way
different from us. Vice versa a Caller, who meddled with the netherworld for too long, lacks
the proper… aesthetic feeling for realistic detail to create believable phantasms or influence
the senses of living beings.” Vincent took a deep breath.
        “Hmm… that’s it. Now you know everything to become a mage yourself.” He said, a grin
spreading on his face.

        Enorín smiled and threw a strange glance at him. “Nah, I don’t think so. I can tell you’ve
still got some secrets you didn’t reveal... and besides I like my vocation. But can I ask one
more question?”
        Secrets? Although he realized Enorín was only joking, Vincent clenched a bit. The half-elf
couldn’t possibly suspect anything... could he? So he simply nodded, hoping he hadn’t given
away to much by his bearing.

        “You said each Path is somewhat similar to its neighbours… But how can something
apparently good like Warding be linked with such sinister magic like Calling and Binding?”

        “This division wasn’t based on ethical or moral values.” Vincent explained. “It’s just
logical and practicable. Calling and Binding conjure powers and beings from unknown,
probably horrible places. So the mage using these magics has to regard as well they might get
out of control. That’s why both Paths offer possibilities to hinder, stop or even banish what
has been conjured, just like the Art of Warding does. So they are considered similar. And by
the way, Warding has its dark sides too… like banishing someone to really unpleasant places
or creating a lifelong prison. Like I said before, it’s always about how you use a Path. Mostly
there’s nothing good or bad to the magic itself.”

        Enorín nodded slowly.  

        “I’ve to admit these similarities aren’t always obvious. Calling can mimic Seeing by using
memories of the dead as a source of information. Seeing can be interpreted as altering your
senses and state of knowledge and is therefore connected with Changing. Binding gives you
control over one or more beings, something you can accomplish with Charming, too. Mighty
spells of Bringing may sometimes call upon higher aid, similar to Seeing. Weaving changes
reality, just like Changing does, yet those changes aren’t for real and on the other hand it
meddles with the mind, resembling Charming, by influencing one’s perception...”

        “Okay, okay... That’s enough.” Enorín interrupted Vincent’s flood of words with a kind
laugh. “I can’t keep all that in mind at once. I should be glad if I remember half of it tomorrow

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

        The Goblins were sitting around their bonfire, eating and chattering along in their harsh
tongue. The flickering flames cast dancing shadows on the trees surrounding the little
clearing. Vincent counted twelve of them… no, thirteen… another goblin just stepped out of
the concealing shadows in between the trees. Obviously he had been sent out to collect more
firewood as he carried an armful twigs and cut-off branches. Grunting, he threw them on the
pile next to the fire and finally joined his comrades.

        Their day had been quite uneventful, but about an hour after nightfall Enorín had noticed
a reddish shimmer between the trees, too close to simply ignore it. Quickly they had put out
their own small fire and approached the strange light to find out its source. Now they were
watching the goblins’ little feast, crouching amid the lush undergrowth.

        Vincent felt Enorín’s hand slightly touching his shoulder. The half-elf leaned over and
whispered softly into his ear.
        “I fear we have to leave the road behind… there are too many of them around.“

        Enorín’s warm breath caressed his cheek, making him shudder. Right now Vincent
wouldn’t have minded to stay here, just like this, the whole night, despite the goblins ahead.
Then he actually realized Enorín’s words.
        While they were hiding to observe the goblins, he had already made up a plan to defeat
them. He had the element of surprise. Most probably he’d be able to blind them all at once,
before they even knew what was happening. The rest would be a pushover. Of course he
would protect himself with his magic shield until the offensive spell was finished, just for the
case one of the goblins was quick witted enough to make use of its crossbow. Yet he had
overestimated himself once and felt no desire to do so again. Furthermore, if his plan failed,
they would likely have to face a hand to hand fight. He knew Enorín was a great archer and
bore a sword, but he never saw him actually wielding it. If the goblins attacked, Vincent could
defend himself by the means of his magic, but Enorín could get hurt… or even killed. The
mere thought of it made his stomach cramp.

        So he simply nodded and turned his head towards Enorín. In the pale moonlight his
companion’s sincere face could nearly be mistaken for a porcelain mask, if it wasn’t for the
sparkling in his eyes. Vincent had to resist the urge to kiss this boy right away. Instead, he
whispered his answer.
        “If we head straight westwards, we’ll get out the forest sooner or later. Then we can
follow its border south and thus reach Thurbin Castle.”

       Enorín gave a confirming nod and slowly got up to withdraw. After a short moment of
confusion, Vincent followed him as quietly as possible. He surely didn’t expect him to leave
right away. How on earth would they make their way through the forest at night? Here, the
almost full moon was providing enough light to find a path between all the scrubs and roots.
But if the trees got denser, getting on without breaking one’s neck would be quite a challenge.

        The nasty chatter faded, as their distance to the clearing grew. The road was not more
than fifteen yards away when Enorín stopped abruptly and looked up. It took Vincent several
moments to discern the small yellowish eyes watching them from a branch above. The two
ravens stared at Enorín and the half-elf returned their stare, almost as if some strange kind of
conversation was taking place.

        Many commoners regarded ravens as a bad omen. But although Vincent didn’t share
their superstitions, it proved to be true in this case. Suddenly the ravens’ rough caws cut the
silence of night. If they weren’t just ordinary birds, Vincent could have sworn they acted out
of malice. Enorín cursed under his breath and readied his bow in a single, swift movement as
the ravens took into the skies, still cawing. Vincent could hear the goblins’ agitated shouting
from behind.    

        “Quick!” Enorín hissed. “We’ve got to get away!“

        They started running and found themselves on the road in no time. Vincent looked back
and saw the goblins’ vague shadows in between the trees. They were splitting up, trying to
hunt them down like a pack of wolves. Enorín grabbed his arm and pulled him along. They
reentered the woods on the other roadside. The half-elf kept holding Vincent’s hand as he
found his way through the underwood with amazing ease. All of a sudden Vincent saw four
humanoid silhouettes ahead. There was no way the goblins could already have overtaken
them. These four must have been around and had certainly heard their comrades’ calls.
Whatever reason, it didn’t change the fact they now tried to bar their way. Vincent let go of
Enorín’s hand and stopped to concentrate.
        “Sarbest, qulet o misar! 
        The two streaks of dim, greenish light shot forth from his left hand and found their way
in between the trees to their targets directly. As the magic crystals exploded, lighting the
surrounding area, another goblin was killed by one of Enorín’s white feathered arrows. The
fourth goblin dropped to the ground, hoping to evade a similar fate. There was no way he’d
try to stop those two singlehandedly.

        Vincent and Enorín exchanged a short glance as the half-elf took hold of his companion’s
hand again. Though they were able to continue their escape, they had lost precious time. The
persecuting goblins were getting closer and closer. First crossbow bolts were hissing through
the air, missing them by inches, perhaps due to the obscuring shadows of night.
        Enorín did his best to use the trees to cover their backs without losing their narrow
margin. Another volley of bolts was fired at them and Vincent felt at least one hitting his
backpack. But there was no time to think about let alone check on it,  as Enorín gasped and
clutched his left upper arm. He almost stumbled, but Vincent reacted quickly enough to
support him. Enorín’s white shirt turned dark from his blood just underneath the short sleeve
of his chain mail. Twigs whipped in Vincent’s face, as he continued to run, dedicating more
attention to his companion than to his path. 

        “Vincent! Look ahead!” Enorín shouted, as he stopped running also trying to hold back
the mage. Vincent got hold of a branch just in time. One more step and he’d have fallen off 
the steep slope in front of him. A dried out riverbed crossed their escape route, its slopes
plunging down to a stony bottom. Hidden by grass and bushes, its edges were almost
impossible to make out, especially at night.  
        Enorín looked at him with a helpless expression. Whatever direction they would choose,
the goblins would be able to catch up with them for sure.               

        “Leave this to me.” Vincent said as calmly as his strain and nervousness would allow. He
extended his arms and closed his eyes. Moving fingers, hands and forearms in wavelike
motions, he began to whisper.
        “Jeness cen kulme a rissin, qalass savar wavin numasa.”
        When he reopened his eyes, thin strands of white mist had already appeared in the
surrounding air. After a short glance in both directions Vincent chose the path to their right
and started running, dragging Enorín along. Despite the dizziness he felt from casting one of
his most potent spells, he felt obliged to take the lead, considering Enorín’s injury.
        The half-elf turned his head as he ran to check on their persecutors and saw the full
extend of Vincent’s spell. Like a ghostly river, thick fog was creeping uphill from the bottom
of the trench with unnatural speed while the white mists above became denser with every
instant, together creating a heavy, obscure cloud.
        He focused back on their path, ignoring the pain as best he could. None of them turned
around when they heard the miserable screaming behind, followed by several dull impacts.

        They continued to run, but slowed down after a short while. Neither could they hear nor
see any sign of the goblins.     
        Enorín crouched, panting heavily. “You’re a man... of many surprises... Vincent.” He
looked up to the human as he firmly held his upper arm.

        “Maybe... but I’m quickly... running out of them.” Although he had managed to get away
without any injury besides several scratches on arms and face, Vincent was at least equally
exhausted and leaned against a tree.

       They waited several moments to recover their breath and listened to the sounds of the
nightly forest. But there was still no sign of the goblins. Eventually Enorín stood up to check
their surrounding.
       “Look! Over there!” He pointed at a dark spot in the slope on the other side of the
riverbed, maybe thirty yards away. Being only lighted by pale moonlight Vincent could barely
make out what most probably was an opening of some sort.
        “We could hide there for the rest of the night. Just in case they keep looking for us.”
Vincent simply nodded. He’d go anywhere right now just to get some sleep.

         Cautiously they climbed down the slope and made their way to the opening across the
stony riverbed. It was bigger than they had expected, being rather a cave than just a cleft. As it
was completely dark inside, Vincent took the torch they had gotten in Hewings and touched
its head with his fingertips. It ignited instantly. Enorín lifted one eyebrow in surprise.

        “No time for flint and steel.” Vincent stated nonchalantly and entered the cave. He
enjoyed the fact he was also able to surprise the half-elf once in a while. Using the frail
remainders of cast spell’s energies to perform little magics with ease was one thing Almaric
taught him in the very beginning of his training. His former master always seemed to be very
proud of this trick, treating the topic almost conspiratively. 

        “Uhh, what is this smell?” The air in the cave was musty carrying the faint scent of decay
and feces. A few bones of small mammals were scattered on the floor.

        Enorín, who had put up a few cut-off bushes in front of the cave to partly cover the
entrance caught up with Vincent.
        “A bear’s cave. They’re not nocturnal. If it’s not here now, it won’t return tonight.” The
priest sat down on a large, clear spot on the ground, most probably the bear’s usual sleeping
place, and took off his chain mail to examine his injury.

        Vincent stuck the torch into the soil and sat next to him. He observed how Enorín washed
and wrapped his wound, wincing now and then.
        „Why don’t you… heal yourself like you healed me?”

        Enorín shook is head, as a weak smile appeared on his face. “No, it’s okay. It’s just a
graze, nothing serious. It’ll heal by and by, so no need to bother her.“

        Unable to understand why not to use any given mystical power, Vincent shrugged and
turned to his backpack. Two bolts had pierced the leather and were still jutting from the
surface. He carefully pulled out both of them and checked his possessions. With a sigh of
relief he found his spellbook unharmed. Only some of his clothes had been punctured.
        Despite the fact that Enorín’s backpack had only been hit once, he evidently wasn’t that
lucky. On a unfolded silken cloth on his lap lay the scattered shards of something that might
once have been an alabaster figurine. Enorín’s sadness was obvious.

        “A figurine of your goddess?” Vincent guessed gently.

        Enorín’s voice was barely audible. “No. The last thing my mother made before she
passed.” Vincent had never been good at comforting people, mainly because he hadn’t
regarded anyone worthy of his comfort so far. Yet seeing Enorín in this state almost tore his
heart. “My uncle said it didn’t picture her, yet...”  

        “May I have it for a moment?” The question confused Enorín for sure. He hesitantly
looked at Vincent until the mage repeated his request.
        “Please, give it to me.”

        Enorín carefully took the cloth and passed it to Vincent, who spread it out on the ground.
Sitting cross-legged, he meticulously rearranged the shards until they vaguely resembled their
former shape. Then he closed his eyes and held out his hands over the broken figurine.   
        “In benet peroseso fer, dan perest fer!”
        He repeated the words thrice while the shards began to pulsate. Enorín flinched as the
fragments suddenly were drawn together, emitting a bluish flash of light and a high pitched
        Unbelieving Enorín stared at the reconstituted white figurine. Now Vincent could also see
the incredible detail, showing almost every single strand of hair framing the angelic women’s
face and each pleat of her beautiful gown. Still fascinated by the artwork, he wasn’t prepared
for Enorín’s hearty hug, which almost tripped him over.

         “Thank you! Thank you so much!” the half-elf exclaimed.

        He enjoyed this closeness more than he could have imagined: The warmth of Enorín’s
body as well as the smell of his hair, which was despite of their day’s troubles, still more than
captivating. His mind raced for a modest answer.    
        “Glad it worked.” Enorín sat back and looked at Vincent, smiling and now seemingly
unaware of his injury. “But now,” the mage continued, ”I fear I really ran out of surprises.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

        A deep growl awoke Vincent. Drowsily he patted his belly. Already so hungry to make
his stomach grumble? They had eaten yesterday evening, hadn’t they? He blinked and made
out a large hairy silhouette barring the entrance of the cave. The sun had already risen outside.
Suddenly he became aware of their situation. The cave’s owner had returned. They were
        He reached for Enorín, who was still sleeping next to him, and grabbed his shoulder,
without losing sight of the bear.
        “Enorín! Wake up!” he hissed, as he shook him persistently.

        “Ow! My arm!” Enorín complained sleepily, clearly not glad being waken up this way.   

        Vincent immediately  let go of his shoulder. “Sorry. But, we’ve got a problem here. The
bear returned.”

         This brought Enorín right away to alertness. He sat upright and blinked against the light
coming from the cave’s entrance. The bear growled anew. It was a huge beast, its shoulders
almost five feet over the ground. The shaggy dark brown fur only emphasized its menacing
appearance, making it look even wilder.

        Vincent slowly got up, also causing the bear to uprear. Now, standing on his hind legs, it
towered the human by at least four feet. Yet Vincent seemed self-confident as he halfway
turned to Enorín. 
        “Stand back. It’ll fear my fire for sure.”

        “No! Wait!” Enorín exclaimed and got up quickly. In a flash he stood in front of Vincent,
facing the bear. Its growling became even more aggressive and Vincent wondered if his
companion was out of his mind. He didn’t doubt the beast would attack every moment now,
tearing apart whatever it could get its claws and fangs on.

        But Enorín signed Vincent to withdraw. The priest closed his eyes and chanted a verse in
the melodious elvish tongue.
        „Melyanna, Mistress of the forest bloom, I abide your blessing. Please lend me the voice of eagle,
wolf and deer.”

        His eyes still closed, he began to talk at the bear with a calm and steady voice. “Please,
listen to me. We won’t do you any harm. I apologize for entering your home without your
admission, yet we were in dire need.” Most surprising for Vincent, the half-elf knelt down.
        “Please forgive me and my companion.”

         The bear actually seemed to think for a moment, as its menacing expression faded.
Vincent couldn’t believe his eyes as the bear got back on its fours and trotted grumbling out of
the cave. Enorín got up and turned to the mage.
        “Quick! Gather your things before she changes her mind.”

        “She?” Vincent asked slightly ironically. “Seems as if somebody in here still has some
surprises at hand.”  

        “You bet.” Enorín gave him a big beaming smile.

        They grabbed their backpacks and the quenched torch and left the cave. The female bear
waited outside. Despite her still respect-inspiring looks and slightly grumpy mood, she didn’t
appear threatening to Vincent anymore, yet almost like an elderly person, disapproving of
some youngsters’ misbehaviour. Enorín once again bowed to her, yet this time he was joined
by Vincent.
        “Thank you for your forgiveness.” the priest bid their farewell. “Melyanna may reward it
and your hospitality.”

        With a low grumble, she withdrew into her cave, not taking notice of the two men

        Vincent couldn’t stifle a laugh of alleviation. “What did she say? Kinda sounded like
‘Yeah, whatever’ to me.”

        Enorín joined his laughter. “You’re getting the hang of it real quickly! Couldn’t have
translated it any better. Well, there’s more to some animals than most humans might admit.”
he concluded more seriously.

        Vincent nodded, remembering the two ravens from the night before. “Seems you’re not
the only one who has to learn a thing or two about the ‘world out there’.”

        Though quite impassable, they walked on the bottom of the riverbed for a while, to get
away from the cave. Then they climbed the slope to their right and made their way
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

        After spending the whole day walking through the Firewood, they reached its western
border the noon thereafter. Beyond, rolling hills grown with almost waist-high grass and
scattered groups of trees awaited them.

        “Now we’re out of the wood... and I hope we literally are...” Vincent mused as he blinked
against the bright sunlight. 

        They decided to rest for a while, ate and lay down on the yellowish grass afterwards,
relishing the warm midsummer sun tempered by occasional light breezes.
        After almost an hour had passed, they started their trip southwards, following the border
of the Firewood, yet keeping a cautious distance to it. None of them looked forward to be
surprised by goblins bursting out of the undergrowth again. Despite those unpleasant
memories they took their time, talking and strolling along without hurry.
        As the sun neared the horizon, they started looking for a place to spend the night and
found a small grove in sufficient distance to the forest. Enorín had even shot a pheasant he
now prepared for dinner. This was exactly like Vincent had imagined his adventure and he
enjoyed every moment of it.

        The next morning, noon was still a few hours away, Enorín took notice of a little farm,
seated in a dale between the softly rising hills, not far from their intended route.
        “Over there! Maybe they’ll let us refresh our water... or even allow us to take a bath.”

        Vincent could only agree. Five days had passed since they left Hewings. Five days of
travelling through a forest, being hunted by goblins and spending a night in a bear’s smelly
den. They could use a bath for sure.    

        They approached the farmhouse, surrounded by several small fields of grain, a little
stable, a chicken-shed and a big garden providing herbs, fruits and vegetables. Next to the
path leading to the house, a sign on a kennel warned possible intruders of the alert watchdog.
        Vincent and Enorín lowered their pace, but the dog didn’t seem to notice them. Carefully
Enorín neared the doghouse. First he thought the dog was just asleep, but then he took a
closer look and receded quickly.
        “Somebody killed him... strangled him with his chain.” Enorín stated in a low voice.    

        Vincent glanced over to the farmhouse and then back to Enorín. The half-elf simply
nodded and they rushed to the front door. It had been torn open and carelessly reclosed.
Vincent warily pushed it open and peeked through the crack, yet shut it immediately
thereafter. He turned to Enorín, all colour drained from his face.

        “Perhaps... you’d better not look.”

        Less than two hours later they were silently standing in front of the five improvised
tombstones, two bigger and three smaller ones. The farmer and his family had been
slaughtered. The cruelty of the deed left no doubt about the murderers as well as the fact that
all cattle and fowl had been stolen and the storeroom was plundered. 
        Enorín clenched his fist. “All righteous curses upon these goblins. Don’t they know every
home is sacred, no matter whose?!” The bitterness of his voice was reflected in the priest’s face
as he turned to Vincent. “Seems I’ve got to get used to holding human funerals...“

        It unsettled Vincent to see his companion so strongly affected by this incident. But at least
he was able to understand why. Enorín had told him his goddess was inter alia the guardian
of homes. And seeing a home devastated and violated like this, surely had to upset the priest
deeply. But there was nothing they could do they hadn’t already done.
        So Vincent put his hand on the slightly bigger half-elf’s sound shoulder and led him away
from the graves.
        “We did all we could here. Now we should get cleaned up and leave. We wanted to
report the occurrence in Hewings anyway when we arrive in Thurbin Castle, so we’ll also tell
them about this one. This region most probably belongs to the baron’s sphere of influence.
They’ll take care of it.”

        Enorín nodded, the grief in his expression being replaced by determination as he made
eye contact with Vincent.
        “We’ll leave. But if the goblins dare to raid a farm outside the forest, we won’t be safe
here either. We have to hurry to get to Thurbin Castle. What do you think, how far is it?”

        Vincent thought for a moment before he offered his best guess. “Perhaps a bit more than a
day’s walk, if we head straight south and ignore the course of the Firewood’s border.”

        “So we could make it till tomorrow, if we walk the whole night?” Enorín asked, his voice
making clear this was not a topic to be discussed.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

         Indeed, they managed to travel the whole night. Meanwhile the moon was full and
without the shade of the forest it provided enough light to find one’s way.
        They reached Thurbin Castle in the very early hours of morning: The sun had not risen
over the spacious valley of Malain River yet. The scattered little villages and numerous fields
were still sleeping under a translucent veil of white morning mist, which had already started
to withdraw. The lower town of Thurbin Castle stretched along the westwards flowing river,
enclosing the upper town, the quarter inside the city walls. The actual castle was seated on a
little hill at the northern wall, overlooking both, lower and upper town. Not far from the
Firewood’s border a huge bridge, part of the Royal Trading Route, connected the lower town
with a smaller quarter on the other side of Malain River.

        Vincent and Enorín looked at each other with a relieved smile. Thurbin Castle. Finally.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

   to be continued…

Famous last words:
        Yeah! Finally!! I want to apologize again for letting you wait so long. *being really sorry*
I wish I could promise chapter three will be posted next week, but sadly I can’t. So I just have
to hope you’ll remain as patient as you were… I’ll do my best.
Anything else? Oh, yes... quite a bunch conferring to my notes... So where do I begin...
        First, I’m gonna confess! Yes!! I stole!!! But I won’t regret it *Bwahaha* What I’m talking
about? Oh, sure, here you go: I already told you I was/am inspired by several sources. As I
don’t know to what extend my ‘inspiration’ violates any copyright, I’ll state everything right
here, just in case. I don’t want to get my ass sued, ya know. The bits of elvish language I used
(and will use in future) are intellectual (and legal?) property of J.R.R. Tolkien. I don’t claim
that grammar and stuff (yes, it does exist) will be correct, so if you’re a fan actually capable of
speaking those languages (yes, they do exist, too) please don’t be mad at me. But if you want,
I’d be more than happy to consult you as my advisor/translator/interpreter. Same applies for
Valcan, by the way, which is obviously my personal violation of Latin. *g* 
        The second thing I used is the basic AD&D division of magic, although naming,
explanation as well as the rest of ‘my magic’ has barely anything to do with the mechanics of
this game. Okay, some magics might resemble certain AD&D spells, but you can’t copyright a
general magic effect, can you?
        Meanwhile you might already have noticed that I’ve made use of some... yeah, let’s be
honest and name it like it is, clichés. I’m totally aware of that. Hell, that’s my first story ever!
What did you expect?! I’ve got to get my ideas from somewhere! Right?! So I used them and
will do so again. Completely unscrupulous. Whenever it pleases me! *Bwahaha* *kicking
conscience into recycle bin*
        Once again, I want to encourage you to drop me a line (lunarsangel@hotmail.com). Like I
said before: Any constructive criticism is welcome. I also accept hymns of praise… as well as
bar checks and similar symbols of appreciation *gg*. Please send anything dull and/or
insulting to getsomefriends@youmightneedthem.com.
        Oh, before I forget it: Have you noticed I’ve already got a pattern in the chapter-titles?
*being proud*. Wanna know what the next title will be? Okay, sneak preview: The next
chapter will be named ‘Black Cloaks’. Hmm, I wonder what’s going to happen... sounds
somewhat sinister... So stay tuned! We’ll be right back after the commercial break...
        Last but not least I want to announce that I’m going to post a reedited version of chapter
one soon (less typos but some additional story-stuff). So if you’ve got any last comments
concerning that one, hurry up and mail me. Could have posted it before, but I thought it
wouldn’t be very nice. You know...
“Oh, look! ‚Dream of Anduir“ is at top of the list. There’s surely gonna be a new chapter
posted!” *klicks* “What?!? Only lousy chapter one?!? Again?!? Reposted?!? Dammit! I’m
gonna send lunarsangel a mail packed with viruses!”
        Scenes like that happen everyday in the world wide web... trust me  ; )