**Special Note:**  PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO NIFTY ARCHIEVES!  It costs money to operate this site, so if you can afford to do so, please donate so the site can keep operating.  Go to:

**Additional Note:** There will be sexual scenes throughout this story, but it won't be predominately sex.  
If that's the type of story you are looking for then please make another selection.  

I have made a map of the Kingdom of Tarolia for you to reference.  Here is the link:




Sword of Kings: Tempered By Fate

 by Bill W
Copyright 2015 by billwstories
Chapter 18 -


 Alairic, Kieren and the others were startled to discover the unwitting intruder Rhys was grasping was merely a terrified girl.  In fact, it appeared as though she wasn’t very old and still in the very early stages of blossoming into womanhood.  Noticing her shocked and frightened expression from having a blade poised precariously against her throat; Alairic reacted with cat-like quickness and moved in front of her.  Without waiting to confer with the others, he began to speak to the girl in a very calm and soothing voice.

If you promise not to scream or try to run away,” he told her, reassuringly, “no harm will come to you.  Just nod your head if you agree and I will get my friend to release you.  Do you promise to do as I have asked?”

The girl’s eyes were still bulging from their sockets and wide with fear, but as Rhys relaxed the dagger from against her throat she managed to nod her head in agreement.  Having secured her promise to cooperate, Rhys slowly released his hold on the young maiden until she stood unrestrained.  She was obviously still extremely scared, so Alairic felt he needed to do more to reassure her. 

We have no reason to harm you,” the elf stated calmly, “but we would like you to tell us a little about yourself.  Who are you and what is your position here?” 

I am Jana,” the girl replied, after a brief delay.  “I am a servant to the Lord Madumda and it is my job to help prepare food and clean the kitchen.” 

She now studied the two individuals next to her and examined them carefully.  After she finished her visual inspection, she spoke again. 

You are not from this place, nor are you servants of my master, so why are you here?” she wondered. 

You are correct,” Alairic told her, in an effort to keep her calm.  “We are not from here and all I can tell you is that we don’t mean you any harm.”

Kieren looked at Jana as she stood in the dim light and guessed she was not quite as old as he was.  He focused on her features – her dirt-smeared face, arms and legs – as he intently studied her appearance.  He even began to feel an intense sense of pity for her, as he continued his visual inspection and noticed the rags she was wearing as clothes.  Her hair was a knotted tangle of greasy strands, which reminded him of how Qaim had looked when they first discovered him in Briarwood.  Upon further examination, he also observed that she was trembling. 

You must know your way around the fortress then, don’t you?” Rhys asked forcefully. 

The Akiktite’s harsh tone jarred Kieren from his thoughts, so he began to focus on what was going on again.  Just as he looked up, the girl nodded her head, but did not say anything, so Rhys continued. 

How did you come to be here?” the Akiktite asked next. 

I came from the kitchens, on the level above this one,” she stated simply.

No, no,” Rhys snapped back, almost scaring the poor child.  “What I meant was, how did you come to be in Treblanc in the first place?” 

You mean to serve here?” she asked, in an effort to clarify what the warrior was asking this time. 

Yes, exactly,” Rhys confirmed.  “How did you come to serve here?”  The girl was still very nervous, but managed to respond. 

The Lord Madumda took my parents captive before I was born,” she told them.  “They were brought here to work for him and do whatever he ordered, so they toiled day and night doing his bidding.  When I was eight years old, my father decided he wanted me to have a better life than this, one with some kind of future, so he and my mother made plans to escape. 

I’m not sure how he found out about them being there,” she went on, “but somehow my father learned there were tunnels running under the fortress that led to a secret way out.  One night he sneaked my mother and me down here, because he hoped we would be able to slip away undetected.  Regrettably, we were caught before we got very far and the guards took us to the master for punishment. 

When we were brought before the Lord Madumda,” Jana continued, “that monster ordered my father hanged and my mother beheaded, so he could keep any others from trying to sneak out too.  He spared my life because he said I was too young to have been aware of their plan, but I think he also figured I would be more useful as a servant.” 

Kieren had been studying Jana intently as she told her story and noticed there was a hidden beauty beneath the grime and scraps of garments.  Not only that, but he was also deeply touched by the story she had just told them.  He found it hard to imagine what it must be like to lose your parents in that manner and at such a young age, and then be forced to work for the despicable devil that had ordered the deed to be carried out.  Once again, he felt a strong sense of pity for her and wanted to offer the servant girl some comfort. 

I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through so much,” he blurted out, quite unexpectedly.  “It must have been very difficult to see your parents murdered and then have to stay here and work in this place after it happened.  I wish I could have been here to help you in some way, for I would have done anything to ease your pain.  Is there something we can do for you now?”  Jana was taken aback by his comments and genuinely puzzled by his response. 

You are not like those who live here and work for my master,” she told him, bluntly.  “They care about no one but the Lord Madumda and themselves.  I have never met anyone like you before, but… but I have the feeling I can trust you.  I thank you for your offer and hope you will be able to make my wish come true.  I have clung to this dream since my parents were killed.  I want someone to destroy the monster that had my parents executed and then I want to leave this place forever.”

We might be able to help you,” Kieren told her, “but only if you are willing to help us.”

Me, help you?  But what can I do?”  Jana asked, unable to see how she could be of service. 

You can show us the way to get where we need to go,” Rhys told her, quickly picking up where Kieren left off.  “You know how to get around this place and others know you belong here.  You can lead us to our destination, sort of like a guide.  You will make it easer for us to get there, because you won’t arouse as much suspicion if you are seen wandering around the hallways, but we would set off all kinds of alarms.”

I might not be noticed down here or around the kitchen and dining areas,” she explained, “but if I were to go anywhere else in the fortress, I would certainly be questioned too.  We are not allowed to be in anywhere other than where we work.”

It’s true you would probably be noticed in those other areas,” Rhys explained, “but the individuals who spotted you wouldn’t immediately call out a warning or issue a challenge.  They might stop you and ask what you are up to, but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  Even if they did question what you were doing there, it would allow us the opportunity to dispense with them before we were also discovered.  On the other hand, if someone were to notice one of us sneaking through the corridors, they would immediately cry out for help or set off some sort of alarm.”

Of course she saw the logic in Rhys’ argument and agreed to assist them.  The only condition she requested was that they promise to kill Madumda for her.  Seeing that was what they were here to do in the first place, there was no hesitation on their part to make this promise.  After Kieren and Rhys agreed to her demand and assured her they would do everything possible to eliminate the Dark Lord, Jana seemed to relax.  She was now optimistic and content that she would finally get justice for her parents. 

As Rhys moved away to talk with the others, Kieren continued his conversation with Jana.  He enjoyed being near her and was totally fascinated by the lovely musical quality of her voice.  He also recognized a raw, basic intelligence that had not yet been fully developed, and that went along very well with her other qualities.  Suddenly, he remembered his mission and knew he must get back to the matter at hand.

Jana, we came here looking for something very special,” he explained, “something that would also help us destroy your master.  Have you ever seen or heard about a very special sword he is said to possess?”

No!” she answered quickly.  “As far as I know, the only weapons allowed into Treblanc are those carried by the guards.  I have never seen any others.”

Well,” Kieren continued, “is there a special room or place where Madumda keeps the things he prizes most?”

Well, I have heard he has some special rooms on the upper level,” Jana explained.  “That’s where they say he works and sleeps.  I have been told very few people are ever allowed inside and most would rather stay far away from there anyway.  I’ve also heard the area is guarded at all times.”

Then that must be where the sword is!” Kieren exclaimed.  “Would you be able to take us there or show us how to get to these rooms?”

I think I can find the way,” she responded, nervously, “but if we are caught, we will surely be put to death.”  Jana shuddered at the thought. 

If you want us to kill Madumda, then you must be willing to take that chance,” Kieren countered, as his eyes pleaded with her.  “The sword we are looking for has the power to destroy him, but we need you to lead us to the place where Madumda might be keeping it.  My warrior friends will protect us and take care of any guards we might encounter along the way.  Remember, you must be brave, especially if you want this to happen as much as we do.”

I do, but I am still really frightened,” Jana admitted.  “I have seen how the Lord Madumda deals with those who displease him and it’s not something I want to happen to me.” 

She was visibly shaking now and her body trembled like a leaf caught in a brisk wind.  In her mind, she was visualizing the final moments of all those whom she had seen tortured or killed on Madumda’s orders.  She was currently picturing each victim at the moment those deeds were being done and then envisioned herself being put in their position. 

Suddenly, a wave of empathy swept over Kieren as he recognized her anxiety and fear, so he moved closer to where she was standing.  Since he couldn’t think of anything else to do to alleviate her fears, he merely wrapped his arms around her.  He was very gentle, while trying to reassure her that everything would be fine, but he soon became distracted, once he discovered he was actually beginning to enjoy this connection. 

Startled by this realization, he suddenly considered what else he should do to make her feel better.  He had been thinking about giving her a tender kiss on the forehead or eyelids to help ease away her concerns, as his mother used to do for him.  However, after considering this further, he wasn’t sure if he should do anything of that nature now.  He was thinking this over when Turquinine’s voice interrupted his deliberations.

Master Kieren, we already stayeth in this spot for far too long a time.  I strongly urge that we moveth along, before we be discovered.”

Kieren immediately understood the knight’s concern and agreed with his comment, so he reluctantly released Jana and turned to face his companions.  He instantly noted the looks of respect and admiration they were giving him, but he suspected it was merely due to his compassionate handling of Jana.  However, he also noticed that a few of his companions had a mischievous twinkle in their eyes.  Although Kieren didn’t realize it at the time, they thought they were seeing something more involved here than just a concerned young man soothing a defenseless young maiden.  Brushing this aside and paying the matter no further attention, Kieren finally responded to the Mitikuan’s warning. 

Yes, you are correct, my large friend.  We must get moving again.”  Turning back toward the young woman, he continued.  “Jana, will you please show us how to get to this place?”

The kitchen girl nodded her head slightly and then headed down the hallway from which she had previously emerged.  The companions followed closely behind her and were now able to move at a much swifter pace, since they no longer had to stop and check each adjoining doorway and corridor before they passed it.  Whether their faith in her was justified or not, they were now completely relying upon Jana’s knowledge of the edifice and their fate lay in her hands. 

A few of them began to question if this was a wise move, because so much blind faith could prove to be a fatal mistake.  She could be intentionally leading them into a trap or unwittingly guiding them into a dangerous situation.  This could happen due to her unfamiliarity with all of the different areas within the fortress or her knowledge about how the security forces were deployed.  Somewhat belatedly, they began to acknowledge there was no justifiable basis for the amount of unquestioned trust they were currently placing in this unknown female. 

For some unexplainable reason though, Kieren had decided to take Jana at face value.  Possibly it had to do with hearing her story about her family, but he never doubted her commitment or willingness to assist them with their mission.  Since Kieren trusted her, none of the others seemed ready to dispute his assessment.  Whether this was due to their respect for his leadership abilities or merely a response to the time constraints they faced, at least for now they were bound to this serving wench.  Their safety and the success of this mission depended almost entirely upon her loyalty to them, or more likely her hatred of Madumda.  Either way, the companions seemed to be only minimally troubled by this fact. 

Unquestioningly, they continued to follow her down a series of hallways and up dark, musty staircases, until she signaled them to stop.  Once they had halted, she turned toward them and spoke in a whisper.

There are two guards playing some sort of card game in front of the entrance to what I think are the master’s apartments,” she advised them, before expressing her concern about how they would overcome this obstacle. 

You mean this might not be the place we’re looking for!” Sedain shot back agitated, before Quintain urged him to calm down.

No, I’m not completely certain,” Jana admitted, “but this has to be it, if all the things I've heard the guards and others say are true.”

Oh, great,” the disgruntled dwarf hissed, before turning to check behind them for signs of danger.

Is it possible for me to see them without being detected?” Rhys wanted to know.  He speculated that if he could do this, he might be able to devise some type of plan concerning how they should dispose of the guards. 

Yes, I think you will be able to do that, if you are careful,” she told him.  “As I looked around the corner, I could see them, but they didn’t seem to notice me.  I think they are too preoccupied with their game.” 

I hope that is so,” Rhys replied, somewhat concerned about this next phase of their mission.  “The rest of you stay here, while I try to assess the situation.” 

The warrior then walked near the spot where he would be able to observe the two guards and quickly peeked his head around the corner.  He soon discovered Jana had been correct.  The guards were obviously very absorbed in whatever game they were playing and never looked anywhere other than at their cards or each other.  Their preoccupation allowed Rhys the opportunity to study them for several minutes, which was long enough to satisfy him that he had learned all he needed to.  He then moved back, out of the guards’ line of vision, before he discussed the situation with the others. 

The girl is correct,” he advised them.  “There are only two guards and they are very intent on the game they are playing.  I have thought about this carefully and evaluated our options.  If we attempt to charge them, they would have plenty of time to spot us and shout out a warning.  However, I see another possibility, so listen closely and I’ll explain it to you.”  The others moved nearer to the Akiktite, so they could catch every word of his plan. 

I’ll need to utilize the talents of our dwarf friends and Alairic, and take advantage of their skills as marksmen with their bows,” he began.  “Sedain and Quintain will have to crawl along either side of the corridor, until they are able to view the guards.  Alairic and I will remain standing and move to the same location.  When we can all see both sentries, the dwarfs will decide who will target which guard and then take aim at their throats.  This will prevent them from making any warning cries.  Alairic, you and I will also select a target and take aim at their hearts to finish them off.  I will tap my foot on the stone floor as the signal when to fire.  Is that clear?”  Everyone nodded his head in agreement. 

What doth thou want me to do?” asked Turquinine, since he was feeling left out of the plan. 

Turquinine, it will be your job to charge the guards after we have released our shafts,” Rhys advised him.  “You will need to finish off any guard that survives.  Does that meet with your approval?” 

The Mitikuan looked pleased and replied with a simple, “Aye.” 

What about Kieren and me?” Garreth wanted to know, as he also felt somewhat useless and unnecessary. 

You two are to serve as lookouts and make certain no one slips up on us from behind,” Rhys advised him, after surmising the young elf’s feelings.  Suddenly, the Akiktite had another epiphany about how to make both boys feel more useful, so he added another duty for them to perform.  

Qaim and Jana will stay with you as well, so it will be your job to protect them too,” Rhys offered.

The teens beamed upon hearing the details of their assignment, since they were finally being included in the planning and given important roles.  This seemed to be enough to bolster Garreth’s feeling of self-worth and gave him the perception that he had a vital part to play in the mission.  After all, not only was he protecting the others from discovery, but Kieren and he were personally responsible for Qaim and Jana’s safety as well. 

In response to this revelation, Kieren grasped Jana’s hand and pulled her closer to him along one wall.  Seeing this prompted Garreth to inform Qaim to stay behind him, as they clung to the opposite wall.  Satisfied with their new roles, the two teens were now focusing their attention along the corridor they had traveled just a few minutes before, as they searched for any indications of movement.  They had their short-swords drawn and were ready to use them, because they were both taking this job very seriously. 

Qaim followed Garreth’s instructions and stayed behind the young elf, but it was obvious he would have preferred to remain closer to Kieren.  There were several instances when it seemed as if the aignx was tempted to cross the corridor, so he could be nearer his young protector, but that never happened.  Whenever Garreth noticed Qaim leaning in that direction, he immediately speculated about what the aignx was up to.  He would then reach out and place one of his arms against Qaim’s chest and gently pin him in place. 

Garreth did this in such a way that Qaim understood it was out of concern, not merely a show of force, so the aignx didn’t fight against Garreth’s efforts after that.  In fact, Qaim found it quite reassuring that the young elf was worried about his welfare, so he relaxed and cooperated fully. 

By this time the dwarfs, Alairic and Rhys had gotten into position and were ready to proceed with the next step.  They quickly zeroed in on their targets and then anxiously awaited Rhys’ signal to fire.  When the Akiktite finally tapped his boot on the stone floor, they released their shafts nearly simultaneously. 

The strings of the long bows and crossbows twanged, as each projectile sprung from the various cords and the missiles flew straight and true toward their intended targets.  Quintain’s quarrel hit its victim squarely in the throat, just under the vocal chords, while Sedain’s bolt went through the side of the neck of the other guard, but penetrated his throat as well. 

At the same instant, the other two shafts hit their mark, with Alairic’s arrow lodging squarely in the chest of the first guard.  It pierced his heart and killed him instantly. 

Rhys’ missile slammed into the second victim, but the man had moved at the precise moment Rhys had fired so he could play a card.  This caused the arrow to go through the muscle of his arm first and then hit his chain mail, before it slammed into a rib and stopped completely.  Therefore, it didn’t actually penetrate his chest cavity and hit any vital organs, so the sentry survived. 

Although wounded, the second guard was still able to stand up and even tried to shout out an alarm, but he could only manage to emit some barely audible gurgling sounds.  This was because Sedain’s quarrel was lodged in his throat and had damaged his vocal chords, so it prevented him from yelling out a warning or crying for help. 

Panicked and terrified, the wounded guard turned to notify his companion about his situation.  He was hoping to save his own life, as well as being able to alert the other guard about the current threat.  When he saw his card partner was already dead, he looked up and noticed Turquinine rushing toward him.  The guard staggered in the opposite direction and headed away from his assailant.  When he moved his arm in the process, he also dislodged Rhys’ shaft from his side.  The arrow came out fairly easily, because the barb had never actually penetrated his chest, although it still extended through his bicep. 

Once he had seen his friends release their shafts, Turquinine had raced down the corridor ready to finish off any survivors.  When he saw the second guard trying to flee, he angled his approach to cut him off and soon intercepted the wounded man.  As the guard struggled to defend himself, Turquinine plunged his sword into the man’s chest and quickly ended his life.

While the remaining warriors moved forward to make certain the other guard was dead, Alairic went back to retrieve the rest of their party.  The boys were relieved to hear that everything had gone as planned and they could rejoin their friends, but their mission and the danger wasn’t over yet. 

Even though the warriors had dispatched the two sentries, they still had to get safely inside Madumda’s apartment and no one knew how long that was going to take.  The door would most likely be locked and there might even be magical devices or wards protecting it.  Therefore, they would need to utilize Qaim’s special talents again.  In the meantime, Alairic wanted to make certain they all stayed together, just in case anyone blundered upon this location and discovered what they were up to.  It would be easier to defend themselves if they were altogether, in the same place. 

It didn’t take long for Alairic to guide the small group back to the entranceway, where Qaim quickly set about determining what he would need to do next.  Once the aignx concluded there were no traps or additional barriers to the Dark Lord’s quarters, other than a locked door, he merely borrowed Alairic’s knife again.  He then used the blade to unlatch the door and slowly pushed it open, so everyone could go inside. 

Being cautious, the dwarfs entered first and quickly scanned the interior, to ensure there were no others inside and nothing was amiss.  None of this was easy, however, since they were all temporarily blinded when they first entered the room.  Directly across from the entrance was a massive array of windows, which covered most of the wall on the opposite side of the room, and the sunlight streaming through the translucent panes momentarily wreaked havoc with their vision.  The group had spent so much time in the tunnels and dark recesses of the fortress that their eyes had grown accustomed to limited amounts of light, so it took a little while for them to adjust to this sudden glare. 

Once they were able to focus again, they carried out a quick inspection and deemed the area safe.  It was truly a blessing that no one had been inside to attack them when they entered, because they would have been at a severe disadvantage.  The temporary blindness they were suffering from might have proved fatal and their mission could have ended then and there. 

After accessing it was safe and everyone was convinced they had been unobserved, the others joined them inside the Dark Lord’s private quarters.  As they entered, Turquinine and Rhys dragged the bodies of the two guards through the doorway with them and then leaned the corpses against the inner wall. 

As the two northerners moved the bodies, Alairic used one of his garments to wipe up any droplets of blood from the floor, so they would leave no clues as to what had just transpired.  He surmised any passersby would be less suspicious upon merely finding the sentries missing, thinking they might be checking out some minor disturbance, rather than if they'd discovered them dead or noticed blood splattered about. 

Now that they were inside and the door was shut, each of the companions felt safe enough to relax a bit and catch his breath, before they carried out a more detailed visual inspection of the interior.  As they began to look around, it became apparent they were standing in some sort of sitting room.  There were a few chairs scattered about and the walls on either side of the window were lined with shelves, which overflowed with books, scrolls and other materials.  It was clear these were the items Madumda either found most beneficial or in the greatest need of protection.  Upon further scrutiny, they noticed there was also a door strategically placed near the center of each set of wooden structures, on both side walls, which obviously led into other chambers. 

Turquinine and Alairic,” Rhys began, “why don’t you two check out the door on the left side, while Quintain and I see what’s behind the portal on the right.  The rest of you stand guard on this side of the doorway we just entered, in case some curious interloper decides to check and see if the guards are in here.”

Everyone nodded his understanding and then the big Mitikuan and elf went over and listened outside of the doorway they were about to enter.  Seeing they sensed no activity on the other side, they carefully pushed the portal open and discovered another fairly large room.  This one had a rather large window covering approximately half of the exterior wall and the two warriors quickly realized they were now standing in the Dark Lord’s bedchamber.  Instinctively, they inspected the large canopy bed, which took up at least a quarter of the floor space, and to their immense relieve, they found it empty.  Satisfied, they checked beneath it as well and quickly discovered nothing there either. 

Now that they were satisfied there was no threat inside, they lifted the mattress and looked under it to see if anything of importance might be hidden underneath.  After finding nothing of interest, they scanned the rest of the room and inspected each of the other pieces of furniture contained within. 

Cautiously, Turquinine moved over and searched the interior of the large wardrobe, which covered a significant portion of the left wall.  Not only did he want to be certain no one was hiding inside, but he also wished to discover what other items might be contained within.  Carefully, he searched the contents, but found nothing of significance inside. 

While he was doing this, Alairic checked out a large bureau on the other side of the room, to see if the sword or any other useful items might be contained within.  After checking out each of the drawers, the elf discovered nothing of importance in any of them.  Since they’d now examined the entire contents of the chamber, the pair returned to the sitting room and reported their findings to the others.

Quintain and Rhys took similar precautions before entering the room on the other side.  First, they made sure they heard no sounds of activity from within, before they carefully opened the door.  Upon entering, they quickly concluded they were in Madumda’s laboratory and their interest was immediately piqued by what they saw there. 

In the center of the room was a large table, buried under mounds of scattered scrolls, parchments and an assortment of leather-bound books.  The far wall was lined with a series of shelved cases, each covered with a conglomeration of jars, jugs and an accumulation of other objects, which they decided must be investigated further.  As they began to inspect the contents of the containers, they discovered bones, animal organs, herbs and other types of plants, but there were objects in some of these vessels that neither Quintain nor Rhys recognized.  These items were set aside, so they could ask the others if they knew what they were. 

On the wall to their right were a variety of work surfaces, which were equally cluttered, and below them were rows of drawers.  On the left wall, there was a fairly large window, but it only covered about half of the wall's surface, unlike the windows in the first room they had entered.  To the left of the window hung a large map of Tarolia and the surrounding kingdoms.  To the right of the window stood a huge opaque orb, which was supported on a wooden cross-frame.  Neither of the warriors had any idea about the purpose of this item, but they did consider its possible importance as they continued to look about the room. 

After the pair conducted their hasty inspection of the area, Rhys went back to the first room, so he could speak with the others.  Everyone else was there when he entered, including Turquinine and Alairic.

This room will require all of us to inspect it fully,” the Akiktite announced.  “There are many objects scattered about and numerous drawers that will need to be searched to see what is inside.  I am therefore requesting your assistance to help with this endeavor, because the more of us that are working at it, the less time it will take to complete the task.” 

What are you looking for?” asked a puzzled Jana.

We’re looking for that very special sword I mentioned earlier,” Kieren told her.  “It is said that the workmanship on it is exquisite and it has no equal.  It should be easy to identify once it is discovered.”

Oh, it sounds positively lovely,” Jana responded, with a twinkle of anticipation in her eye.  “I will be happy to help you find it, but why would we be looking in drawers for such a thing?” 

It’s possible we might find a document that tells us something about the location of the sword,” Sedain advised her, “but we are also looking for anything that might aid our struggle with the Dark Lord’s army.  We would be interested in any notes, maps, copies of Madumda’s battle plans or anything else we might find that we would be able to use against him.”  Jana nodded her head in understanding, although she wasn’t entirely certain what the dwarf meant by his statement. 

Without question though, the companions followed Rhys into the other room and the warrior rapidly assigned each of them a specific location to search.  Once the others had begun looking around, Rhys asked Turquinine and Alairic what they had found in the other chamber.  That pair quickly explained everything they had seen and advised him that nothing of importance had been inside.  Rhys seemed content with their response, so they went ahead with exploring their designated sections of the laboratory.

What is this thing?” Garreth asked, while pointing toward the huge orb in the corner. 

The elf had been intently scrutinizing it, since he noticed it was taking up a large amount of floor space.  He was fascinated by this enigma and carefully studied the milky looking substance that composed its surface, while he waited for a reply.

I have no idea, but we don’t have time to ponder such things, unless it helps us find the sword,” Rhys pointed out.  “We’ll consider the significance of our other discoveries when, and if, there is time.”

After hearing this mild rebuke, everyone went back to his duty, but they were extremely cautious with how they handled items that weren’t immediately identifiable.  This was due to the fact that they feared some of them might have magical properties or could even be poison and they didn’t wish to chance any unexpected surprises along the way.  They examined each item carefully and searched every nook and cranny in the room as they searched for the sword.  They also studied every document or scrap of parchment that contained a piece of information that might aid them in defeating the Dark Lord.  Try as they might, nothing of significance was discovered.  Once they finished going over the entire room, they looked at each other bewildered and couldn’t accept that they had been unable to locate the item they were searching for.

Nothing!  I don’t understand it,” sputtered Quintain. 

Me neither,” added Kieren.  “After Jana told us about this place, I was positive we’d find the sword here.”

There could only be two possible explanations for this,” Alairic offered.  “Either we’ve overlooked the sword’s hiding place or Madumda is keeping it somewhere else.” 

Everyone took a minute to consider the elf’s proposal, while trying to determine which case was more likely.



                                                *    *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I wish to extend my thanks to Scott, Emoe57, Andy, John and Donny for editing or their suggestions with this story. 


E-mail responses to the stories, story suggestions, or other ‘constructive’ comments or advice may be sent to: bwstories8@aol.com  - but please put the story title in the subject line, so it doesn’t get deleted as junk mail.  


My other stories can be found at: http://www.nifty.org/nifty/frauthors.html

listed under BW in the extreme left hand column.