Chapter 1 – The Party

At an hour too late for most three dark figures entered the near broken down premises of The Lincoln Liars Inn. “We search for the one known as the Battlemage” said the one in a low voice as the figures approached the dingy bar of the Inn. The barkeep shifted in his shoes upon hearing their request, unsure if it was a safer option to answer or to not. “We would appreciate any help you could volunteer” said one of the other two as he slipped a shiny gold piece onto the bar. “Over there” the barkeep whispered pointing to the South East corner of the room with his head.

The three walked past drunken sailors, unemployed mercenaries and men of general ill-repute until they reached a small table hidden in the shadows. A solitary hooded figure sat slumped in a chair, a half full bottle of wine on the table in font of him. “Barekvar Windrunner,” said the head of the three, “It has been an age.” The Battlemage tilted the hem of his hood ever so slightly to take in the image of the man who had dared to disturb him, a task none would take lightly. But it was no man. No it was something far more frightful and awe-inspiring. It was the Lady Lazarus, the legendary Lance-man, a Paladin whose battle prowess was outmatched only by her intimidating intelligence and her fierce loyalty. “Lazarus,” grumbled the sullen Battlemage, “I thought I would never again set eyes on your face.” “Or perhaps you just hoped it!” interrupted one of the voices from behind Lady Lazarus. “Oh Lord. Say it is not he!” exclaimed Barekvar. “I’m afraid it is you old fool” replied the voice of Sir Charles Manor II, known to most as Charles the Mighty – a man known for his skill both in the heart of battle and in the hearts of women the world over. “And we are not alone,” he added. “Who else makes the foolish expedition to resurrect an old fossil then?” asked Barekvar. “A man who you still owe a good gold piece or two over a game of bones” hinted the final shadowed figure. “By Thalgrin’s beard. Is that King?” asked Barekvar. “It is in fact and in chance” replied Jason King, a man whose name would hardly betray his humble beginnings as a Ranger of the South Coast. Self-trained in the arts of the rogue, King was deadly with a bow but deadlier still with his skills as a trappist and master concocter.

Pull up some chairs,” said Barekvar “Rest your feet. And when we have had a glass of wine you may tell me why you have disturbed an old man in his retirement“. King brought glasses and a flagon as the three sat around their former comrade in arms. “Now,” said Barekvar as he took a mighty sip of the best wine the house had to sell, a generous compliment to the swill that it really was, “Why are you here?” he asked. King and Manor looked to Lady Lazarus to speak. “We have a quest before us” she said in a calm tone, knowing it was the last thing her old second in command wished to hear, “And we would have you with us.” Barekvar slowly put his now empty glass to the table and after collecting himself replied, “Then you have journeyed to this place of nowhere for nothing. For I cannot join you.” “I am not willing to accept that” retorted Lazarus. “Nor am I” chimed in King. “We miss you brother” added Manor.

I feel this wine is to my head.” said Barekvar. “I would have some air” he added, getting up from his chair. He made his way out of the small Inn and the three followed. Once they were a few yards from the entrance Barekvar took from his robes a pipe and began to smoke it, the vapors escaping his mouth like wisps in the moonlight. Lazarus and Manor locked eyes. As they did she gave him a slight nod, signaling him to action. With almost lighting speed Manor unleashed his mace and swung for Barekvar’s head. “Arcanorum Scutum!” bellowed Barekvar, summoning a mighty arcane shield to block the blow mere moments before the mace looked to land a blow that would crush the skull of the most formidable of men. The two stood locked in challenge for a few seconds before recoiling. “You say you have retired. Your skills and instincts say otherwise.” commented Manor. “They are not what they once were,” replied Barekvar. Despite the strength of his shield he had still felt the force of the blow in his weary hands. “You held back” he said, rubbing his them. “Well, slaying an old man in the middle of nowhere would hardly have been becoming to my honor” chuckled Manor.

There is still a fire in you Windrunner” Lazarus prodded. Few referred to him by the name of his once noble and feared house. Few had earned the right. “It has withered out here in the cold. But it still flares” she added. “Maybe so” said Barekvar, smiling. He bent down and picked up his pipe, lighting it with a spark of his own creation. “I will admit that life out here in the quiet has not much suited me. But I do not know if I can return“. “It is time to let go of the past Barekvar” said King, “Time to forgive yourself for her…” He paused in light of the daggers that were thrown at him by way of Lady Lazarus’ eyes, afraid to speak further. “Do not admonish him for speaking the truth Lazarus” Barekvar said calmly, “The parting of our fair healer is not his fault“. “Nor was it yours!” said Manor, “And what do we need to speak of healers anyway! Your spells and King’s concoctions will keep us. Healers are weak in battle“. “My dear Charles,” Barekvar said as he put his hand to the side of Manor’s face, a symbol of the affection the two men had shared, built through years of battling side-by-side, “You always were one to jump into the mouth of hell with but a sword and a smile.

I have long punished myself for the fall of Kayla,” Barekvar said, choking back the emotion that her name always summoned, “But if we are to take to this quest then we shall need to...” he paused taking one more moment to hold her in his thoughts before finally letting go, “replace her.” “We shall find another on route to Blightfield” announced Lazarus. “And till then?” asked King. “Till then we shall let mother earth cake our wounds and father time heal our scars” guffawed Manor. “So,” said Lazarus, “We have our party then?

Barekvar breathed in heavily, summoning will to give his answer with the strength it deserved, his face illuminated by the growing fireball in the palm of his hands, “It seems we do.

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