Very early, before the first lights came, Cinnamon grabbed her cloak, bow and quiver, and headed out to the forest that surrounded Thessaly. She left her white raven at home as she thought it might be dangerous to bring her, considering there could be dark creatures approaching. And white plumage is not easily concealed… Her birth defect would’ve had definitely forbidden Zipporah from being a secret messenger during the dark years. That is why, being rejected by her siblings, Cinn had decided to adopt her.
Cinnamon followed that old trail that suddenly would blur and eventually fade away among the vegetation. Oh but she knows these woods like the palm of her hand, she could walk around, without getting lost, with the eyes closed all day long. Finally, arriving to the door of that old hut concealed among branches and forest debris, she passed her fingers over the carved symbols on it. Fading out, and covered in moss but still there… the old resistance symbols. She cleared the entrance just enough to get inside and closed the door behind her.
Once inside, safe from being seen at all, she closed her eyes and turned herself into her natural elven shape… testing her balance, she felt so strange walking in two legs as she was pretty much comfortable nowadays on a centaur body, but the task required it. She pulled out the rug, opened the trap door and climbed down the ladder.
Lighting up a candle, bottles and vials and so many alchemist instruments shined around her. But she was looking for something else. She walked to the corner of the room and found that big old wooden trunk. Opening it, she pulled out the cloth that concealed it’s contents: “Hello, old friend…” she said, taking out a beautiful elven armor that many many years ago belonged to her Mother and she got to wear when she helped in battle during the Great war. She passed the tips of her fingers over the intricate metal, and talked to it as if it was a living creature. “We must prepare. We need get to the tasks, as much as it hurts to say it. So I ask you in the name of my Mother and Father, to please do what You must and protect me, so I can protect Centauria and the Queen and all my fellow brothers and sisters in the Order…”
She carried the Armor pieces upstairs, closed the trap door and put the rug back in place. Transforming herself into a Centaur again, she pushed the door to get out of her Mother’s hut, concealed the door with branches and leaves and pulling up her cloak, rushed back to Centauria.
Kumi pulls out the armor she hasn’t worn since the 6 day battle but she doesn’t polish it. Tanished it will reflect less light. Her job, as it was in the last battle with the darkness, will be as a sentinel. Along with the wolves, stoats and her kestrel, Sparrow, they will keep the Centaurian forces informed of enemy movements. As before, Kumi will be well hidden during the battle but Sparrow might be seen flying up and out of their hiding spot, with a tiny parchment tied to one of his legs.
Whispers in the dark echoing in the mind of the ranger as he dreams.
“Who are you?” asks a voice in the dark.
“That voice. I know that voice,” says the ranger. “Why do I know that voice.“
“Who are you?” repeats the voice.
“Where are you? Why can’t I see you?” puzzles the ranger while deep in his dreams. That voice so familiar to him but he cannot place it. A voice that is as sweet as the smell of the spring rains and soothing as a cool breeze in summer.
“Who are you?” the voice asks once more.
“Who are you?” the ranger retorts.
“I know who I am, but do you know who you are?” replies the voice.
Suddenly visions flash before the ranger’s eyes. Visions of the forests of the wild lands, and the voices and wings of the fae as they dance around him. Memories of the caws of the many murders of ravens over head, the flowers and trees, and the plants and animals made so familiar to him as a ranger. He knew them all and with this he suddenly knew the voice that speaks to him.
“You are Zephyrus. The voice of the wind. The sweet smell of the mountain. The god of spring,” the ranger says with certainty.
“Yes, but who are you?” repeats the voice of Zephyrus.
Confusion suddenly enters the ranger’s mind with the thought of how a god does not know who he is.
“I do not understand what you ask of me. Shouldn’t you know who I am?” Asks the ranger in utter confusion.
“I know you. I have watched you your entire life. I have guided you knowing your worth, but do you know who you are?” replies the voice of Zephyrus.
Suddenly a massive wave of visions of his entire life envelopes him completely. Every thing he has done, everything he has accomplished is now brought to the forefront of his vision and without thought he begins to speak with a voice that seems to echo into eternity…
“I am the black taur. I am the shadow of midnight. I am the eyes and ears of the wild. I am the ranger. I am the steward of the hill, the protector of the corvid. I am the watcher from the mountain. I am the untouched by darkness…”
the ranger’s eyes open
“I… am… Rayven!“
A sudden pull at his very being leads the ranger out of bed and outside in the dead of night. Following the path that he is lead he climbs to the top of Raven Hill and stands before the fae who reside up there. Through the magic of words as melodious as only the fae can a ball of energy forms in front of him. The orb continues to increase in size until it begins to take shape. A familiar shape. The shape of his… His armor. But this was not his armor for there was no slice across the middle leather where the dark one’s blade had struck such a terrible blow.
The fae, being proud of their work present the armor with these words, “You will need this in the days to come, young ranger. We have mended and reinforced it for you so that such a cursed blade cannot so easily penetrate that which protects you. This armor is strong and will serve you well. The blessings of fae kind are with you as you wear this armor. Take it and be the ranger once more.“
The ranger receives the armor and marvels and the craftmanship and reinforcement making it 10 times stronger than it originally was. As he gazes further at the armor the fae speak again.
“With this armor you will need a weapon to match its strength.“
With these words another glowing orb forms and takes the shape of a sword, with a handle as black as his skin but accented with silver and has a blade whos brilliance rivals the rangers silver hair.
“May this sword be ever at your side to protect you from this day until the end of days,” says the fae in unison.
The ranger rubs the healing wound across his stomach and says into the night with the voice of steel, “Let them come.“
Ella sits in solitary seclusion behind the waterfall, focusing her strength and courage into the crystals surrounding her. She whispers , her voice growing to a shout, “I may not be a warrior, but I am strong. Centauria WILL NOT FALL!!” As she yells, she forces her intent into the crystals, and they begin to glow. The glow extends from the crystals in Roonwit to all the crystals in Centauria, emitting courage and the will to press on to any who pass.
Dark Moon woke slowly and looked out of the window of his cottage. “GODS!” he exclaimed. “I have slept for a night and a day. What is in that moonshine that I purchased from Bower?” Dark Moon has only half a mug after dinner last night and had slept for 18 hour without any dreams, a deep, restful sleep. “Oh No! I missed my studies with my Mentor. What must she think?“
Dark scrambled down the stairs to his desk and quickly wrote out a scroll. “My Dearest Mentor, Something strange has happened. I drank only a half mug of Bower’s moonshine and slept a night and a day..no nightmares..only deep, restful sleep. I feel stronger than I have ever felt and my mind is clear and sharp. Please accept my apologies my liege, as I had no idea my body would respond to the moonshine in that way. I hope I did not disrupt your day.
May we meet tomorrow? I will gather ingredients this eve before the sun goes down and then when the moon is high in the sky, I am to meet the Blacksmith and his daughter, a Mystic, to be fitted for enchanted armor. I know our task is to heal, but I am no stranger to battle. My skills with the bow and a sword appear to have been taught to me by someone experienced. I will protect Centauria with every skill the Gods have bestowed upon me.
Can you feel it? The Darkness? It is like tiny prickles on my neck. It grows closer my Liege. Again, please accept my apologies for missing our studies today. It was the 1st sleep I have had without the terrible dreams since arriving in Centauria. Please respond by scroll my Liege as I do not want you to risk being out after the sun goes down. Your humble Apprentice & Forever Friend, Dark Moon”.
Dark Moon leaned opened the door and called “Hluti, Hluti, where you my friend?” searching the nearby trees for his faithful Raven. “Hluti here, Hluti here, Hluti here” the Raven squawked excitedly as he landed on Dark Moon’s arm. “I have an important task for you my friend. Take this scroll to Cinnamon. Put is only in her hand“
“Fly only by the open roads. I do not want you near the dark forests. I cannot lose my only friend that knows of my past“, Dark Moon said as he stroked the ebony wings of his faithful friend. “Give Cinnamon the scroll, then return straight away. I will be near in the garden and fields collecting. I have a treat for you when you return“. Hluti took the scroll and flew away quickly, following the roads to Lil Cinnamon’s hut. He knows the way well and is eager to get back to Dark Moon.
Hluti worries about his friend and wishes that he could tell him all about his past. Dark Moon does not know who he is and when he finds out it will change everything. Hluti ponders this as he makes sure to follow the road on his way to the Healer’s hut. Dark Moon will be himself again one day. Hluti is sure of it. When he remembers, his place in Centauria will be revealed to him. Hluti wishes that a Raven such as he had the words to tell his friend all about his past, who is parents are and what he has inside him that can help to save Centauria and fight the Darkness. Perhaps the Auburn haired Mystic will help my dear Dark Moon. He must remember before the Darkness arrives.
At her return, Cinnamon dropped her armor at home, but kept her bow and arrow, and then went by the tavern and grabbed a thing or two for breakfast. She ate her food quickly, then trotted to Glenstorm to the archery range, for an hour of practice. It has been a while since she used her bow for combat. Not since the Great war. Then by the evening, she went home to work on her armor and blade.
Cinnamon spent most of the evening polishing her armor, and oiling the straps. Her head was so focused on her tasks and preparations for a possible upcoming war that she forgot she was expecting Dark Moon for a day of instruction. She looked through the window for the sun in the sky, but it had just set.
A pecking noise at the window distracted her. She stood up to attend the call… “Oh Hluti! Hello!” She noticed the scroll in his beak. “Come in, do you want a snack… Oh by the Gods! I forgot my appointment with Dark Moon!” She suddenly remembered.
Giving the raven a piece of apple, she took the scroll and read the letter. Then, taking a piece of parchment from the side table, she answered back:
“Dearest Dark Moon:
Apology accepted, and in fact, I would dare to say there is no need of one. I spent all day myself distraught, working on my armor and getting my weapons ready, preparing for an imminent battle. Yes. I feel it just like you do, the air is shifting and the forest feels…withered, even though Spring has just come. The dark creatures are approaching and all I can hope for is that this time we have the advantage.
As far as our appointment, I have been gathering ingredients for many days now, for our medicines, while foraging for the Invertitia amulets, preventing an emergency, thinking we might need to care for our wounded, so worry not about gathering. I am sure we can make do with what we both have. Besides, your wisdom in the healing arts seems to be quite vast, and I feel all we need now is just to share our knowledge with each other. I will see you tomorrow, if the Gods allow it.
I am glad to hear your sleep is improving, whatever it took you to accomplish that. I have a potion or two that I haven’t tried on you. (Gods, I might even ask Bower what did she pour into that moonshine drink…) I know we have been so focused on the community tasks these last weeks that we abandoned the treatments to bring back your memories. There will be time for that too. Soon, I promise.
She waited for Hluti to be done with the snacks, and offered him the scroll. “Here, take this back to Dark Moon. Return safe to your keeper”.
Dark Moon paced anxiously, looking out at the moon periodically. The beautiful auburn haired Mystic had given him specific instructions to meet her when the Moon was exactly at the highest point in the sky. Her father, a skilled blacksmith & Wizard, had crafted armor specifically for Dark Moon.
Now, under the light of the full moon, his daughter Astral will use her magic to enchant the armor to protect Dark Moon during the battles to come. Dark Moon can feel the Darkness creeping toward Centauria. He feels it in his bones as if snakes are slithering around his arms and legs. To calm himself, Dark Moon pours a mug of ale.
Hluti, his beloved Raven, can sense Dark Moon’s anxiety and sits quietly on his perch by the fire, pretending to sleep but always keeping one eye on his keeper. Dark Moon looks out at the Moon. “It is time Hluti! Wake my friend.” Hluti flies to Dark Moon’s shoulder and is unusually quiet as they step out of the cottage into the darkness. Dark Moon does not like traveling at night, knowing that something evil watches from the forest. He grasps his bow tightly, trotting toward the Mystic’s cottage.
When he arrives he finds Astral, the mystic in a circle made of twigs. Large crystals are on all sides of the circle, each a different color. Astral appears to be in meditation and Dark Moon stands quietly waiting for her to notice him. Sensing his presence, Astral raises her head and looks into Dark Moon’s eyes. “Greetings Dark Moon, come I have not sealed the sacred circle, enter here” she said as she drew a line in the earth where she wished him to enter. “Come to my side. Clear your mind. Focus your intent on the flames of the candle on the altar and breath deeply.” Dark Moon stepped into the circle nervously and moved the Mystic’s side. His nervousness is not related to the magic, but instead due to her beauty, her cat like green eyes, and beautiful auburn hair. He has been thinking of her since the day he saw her bathing in the stream.
Astral begins to chant “I call upon the Earth the power to make. I call upon the Air the power to take. I call upon the Fire the power to grow. I call upon the Water the power to flow. With these elements together, I cast a circle of protection, above, within and below. Guardians of the North, South, East and West, we welcome you to our circle and beg your protection as we work our magic here tonight.” Dark Moon watched as the fire on the candle flickered and sparked and the wind blew around the outside of the circle but did not touch him as he stood inside. Astral began chanting in a language unfamiliar to Dark Moon. Her eyes closed, arms to the sky, she appeared to be praying to the Dieties.
Suddenly, Dark Moon felt a heaviness on his body. He kept his eyes closed as Astral had asked. He felt cool metal against his skin tightening. Astral continued her chants, her eyes closed and moving rapidly back and forth behind her eyelids. “Open your eyes Dark Moon” Astral said in a soft voice. Dark Moon opened his eyes and to his surprise he was clothed in a full set of armor, beautifully crafted. He could not believe his eyes.
He ran his hands across his chest to make sure he was not imagining what he saw. “Your armor has been blessed by the Guardians and Elements. You will be safe from very strong magic and the strongest of blades and arrows. But, to complete this, you must go and remove the armor and bath in a mixture of rosemary, rue, lavender, basil, mint and a handful of fresh salt. Bathe for 30 minutes and then dry yourself under the moonlight. Put your armor back on and you will be ready for battle my friend. I have asked the Goddess to protect us all” Astral released the elements and thanked them for attending and opened the sacred circle. “Go quickly for your bath” May the Goddess be with you and us all” Astral turned and walked into her cottage leaving Dark Moon standing in the night astonished at what had just happened. He moved quickly to follow the Mystic’s directions.
Hearing the news of pending battles, Marilina has started gathering underwater supplies that might be needed in the making of healing potions, stamina syrups, and food. Being a mermaid, she’s been able to gather a supply which should last for some time. As Marilina starts clearing out all of her supplies “Ah yes, these will all go nicely into the water caverns” She keeps packing when her sister Persi arrives informing her that they must make haste. “The battle will start soon sister, we must get everything settled”.
“At the gathering the other day, all the sea folk were told of the coming battle. We will be the ones who will protect the waterways. We shall be able to spy from the water all roads that are near the streams and seashores for any signs of darkforce movement.” stated Marilina as she joined her sister in the water.
Persi helps her sister load the supplies onto the shells, making sure that the harnesses to the seahorses are secure. “We shall make sure all the sea beings know what they must do to help Centauria against this darkness.”
Marilina tells Persi, “The dolphins and whales will be able to help any who might fall into the waters. Possibly we can provide air bubbles in different areas so any Centaurian can be placed within so they don’t drown and are able to heal“
“Where is Aric? I haven’t seen him in some time. With his history, he needs to be with us. We can help him, shield him from his own thoughts of the darkness.” Persi states as she looks about Aric’s cave.
“Oh yes. With Aric’s past, it might be best for him to be with us. We can’t allow the darkness to be close to him. we must make sure we have enough of his potions to use.“
Once Marilina and Persi have stashed all the supplies, checked for all sea creatures about, they are ready to position themselves in different areas as it seems the sky is darkening. “Blessed be sister, our shells will protect us” Persi states as she swims away. Once out of sight from her sister, Persi realizes her amphibian self might be of use to hide while spying……
Pearline readies the ravens to be sent out prior to the battle which is imminent.
Kumi could hear the shouting and noise of the dark ones as they crashed through the woods. She, the wolves, stoats and Sparrow, her kestrel, steadied themselves. She quickly penned a note… “The dark ones near Mt. Pellion moving toward Centauria.” She signed it with a simple K then tied it to Sparrow’s leg. She pictures in her mind the intended recipient then quickly lifts Sparrow into the air.
On her guard duty in front of the towers, Shenny feels the pressure of her heavy armor, nagging at her stamina.
Since the Queen wanted peace on her land and no one needed Shenny, she was used to raid other lands for goods. This time she raided a monastery, where she finally found a cauldron and papers about alchemy. Excited she read the papers for a stamina potion.
Putting down the cauldron in her library, she read about the reagents needed for her Stamina potion. Excited she put the reagents into the cauldron heating the water till it is bowling. Suddenly there is a big bang and black smokes coming from the left tower. Burning papers flying over Mount Pelion.
This night there are heard many explosions coming from the tower, as a helpless warrior tries to get into alchemy. Will someone help her explaining about stamina potions, or will the neighbors visit the queen, blaming her for disturbing the night’s rest?