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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 22

    Darrel then said, "If that wasn't really my father, then what has happened to my real father? I am really worried about him now. I know I shouldn't be worried, but I am."

    Marilith replied, "Majere said he'd check into it and see if Hugh was okay. But aside from that, there isn't much we can do about it, unless you fancy a 2 day ride back to the tunnel going under the river, and then, a whole night's ride back to your farm in the woods."

    Darrel ohed. "I didn't know we were so far from the keep. Sorry, I wasn't thinking."

    Riptide grinned. "So what's the plan, Bovar? Are you and Marilith going after the Sword, or are you traveling with the rest of us?"

    Bovar growled, "You think you're funny, don't you? Majere told us about what he suggested the lot of you did to get the sword. And because it actually made sense to hear Majere tell it, Marilith and I decided to accompany you on this trip. Dragondogs are fighters of respectable worth, therefore, they may not be so inclined to just give you the egg."

    Marilith grinned. "And aside from Riptide and I, who all can actually speak the dragondog language?" She giggled as she went about serving breakfast to everyone.

    After the meal was finished, Ryan stood up and said, "As much as I would like to come with you all, I cannot. I don't have Gonzal's permission to go."

    Darrel awwwed. "We understand, Ryan. Maybe we'll see you when we return to the forest with pooka's egg."

    Therefore, once Ryan had departed back to his people, the fellowship exited the cavern and once again set off toward the edge of the forest.

    Bovar whispered to Riptide, "I just wanted to tell you... er... thank you for watching out for Darrel. Maye would have been devastated if anything bad had happened to her son."

    Riptide turned to Bovar and grinned. "I think you're starting to accept my actually being here."

    Bovar quietly replied, "You protected Darrel from Majere. More than once. And you've been right on more than one occasion since we started this journey. I didn't trust you at first. But now that we're past that part... You were right about another thing... this is Darrel's official introduction to the world and you will be the one who will escort him beyond this continent's borders. That's right, Riptide. I said you would escort him. Marilith and I have a sword to protect, and I am quite sure that Darrel will not want to guard a sword."

    Riptide chuckled, then slapped Bovar's horse on the rump pretty hard, which caused the warhorse to bolt forward pretty fast!

    Bovar yelped, as he quickly tried to get his steed under control.

    Riptide smirked, as he leaned back close to Darrel's ear and whispered, "Bovar apologized to me."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 21

    Sleep did not come easy for Darrel, even with his friends nearby. However, when he next awoke, he found Riptide sitting directly atop his mid-section, apparently mending Darrel's new impish leather armor. When Riptide finally noticed that Darrel was awake, he got off of Darrel with a grin and said, "It's still early, kiddo. Do you always wake up at this hour?"

    Darrel yawned, then replied, "Of course. Up one hour before sunrise to get morning chores done in order to earn my breakfast. Though out here... there's no chores to be done."

    Riptide grinned. "If you want to earn your breakfast, we could spar for awhile. Though I warn you, I am a lot better than you are. Or have you forgotten how I handled Bovar and the fake Hugh the other day?"

    Darrel chuckled. "Oh yes. I still remember that. And I appreciate your defending me." He then blushed. "Because I... I like you, Riptide. So, what kind of sparring should we do?"

    Riptide smiled back. "I would suggest swords, but you're not used to your sword, as yet. Therefore, let's spar with daggers. That should help you gain some confidence. But as you may recall, I had you dead to rights when we first met with my dagger." He winked and struck a pose.

    Darrel pulled his dagger and struck his own pose. "Whenever you're ready, Riptide."

    Ryan and the pseudo-dragon were awake and watching Riptide and Darrel spar. It was very entertaining. Unfortunately, Riptide was simply too skilled with his weapons to be a fair opponent, as he repeatedly punched holes in Darrel's untrained defenses.

    Finally, the pseudo-dragon announced, "That's enough, you two. We need to fix a meal and head off to find the dragon dogs to get pooka's egg back."

    At that moment, Bovar and Marilith walked into the cavern leading their horses. Bovar exclaimed, "Don't bother preparing a meal... Marilith and I brought the lot of you breakfast. And... thanks to Majere's warning to you all, we still live to adventure again."

    The pseudo-dragon pounced Marilith's shoulder, hugging her tightly!

    Marilith smiled. "I'm glad to see you, too, Neon Fracture. We defeated the devil lieutenant and let me tell you... I never want to have to fight one of them again with just Bovar supporting my powers. But... the fellowship has survived, yet again."

    Ryan stood up and said, "How did you find us?"

    The pseudo-dragon grinned at Ryan. "Open mouth; insert hoof."

    Ryan faceslapped himself. "Sorry. I keep forgetting that you two are linked."

    Bovar smiled. "Don't feel so bad about it, Ryan. I often do the same thing myself."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 20

    Darrel exclaimed, "What was that?"

    The pseudo-dragon grinned. "Marilith stepped outside of time, then she cast a Pain From The Gods spell, then she stepped back inside of time, and she cast a Force Clap spell. We heard the after effect of the Force Clap spell. The devil lieutenant must be tougher than I thought because he somehow survived all that damage. I don't want to try to give you a play-by-play, because the action over there is fast and furious."

    Riptide said, "If I recall correctly, a Pain From The Gods spell inflicts 99.9% of one's health in damage on the victim. So if this guy survived that, then he must have some backup power someplace. At any rate, let's see about getting Darrel suited up in something useful."

    Ryan led the way deeper into the cavern and into a chamber in the back of the cave itself. "Well, this is where we store the loot that we get off of robbers and bandits. None of it will be magical, like the evil stuff was, but it will help protect your butt from the trouble in the world. Help yourself to whatever you can find, Riptide. This IS for Darrel's benefit, after all."

    Riptide and Darrel began looking through the gathered gear, weapons, and armoring equipment.

    While the two did this, the pseudo-dragon began crafting a book for Darrel's usage. "Majere did call you a young ranger, didn't he?"

    Darrel replied, "Yeah, he said that several times. Why do you ask?" And he noticed what the pseudo-dragon was doing. "What are you making?"

    The pseudo-dragon replied, "I am sure Riptide will agree that rangers are partial spell casters. Therefore, I am crafting you your first spell book. Riptide may know half elves, but I do know something about rangers."

    Ryan grinned. "I, too, know something about rangers... and that something is that a good ranger is only as good as his weapons, his wits, and his companions. And also..." Ryan suddenly hefted up a short bow. "...a good ranger must practice with a bow, like this one. Now, let me find you a quiver of arrows..."

    Riptide smiled as he pulled up a nice looking long sword. "Try this out for balance, Darrel. Now I need to find you a good dagger..." And he began searching again.

    Darrel hefted the long sword, with a little difficulty, testing it's balance. "It's a bit heavy, Riptide. I miss the magic sword already. I know it was evil, but I'll manage."

    The pseudo-dragon brought over the new spell book and dropped it into Darrel's backpack. "When you have time to relax, you can read over the spells I've selected for you."

    Darrel sheathed the long sword and smiled at the pseudo-dragon. "Thank you, Dragon." Darrel then hugged and kissed the pseudo-dragon. "Though I am getting worried about the others now."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 19

    Then, Majere said to the others, "Had you allowed me to talk to Darrel earlier this evening at the keep, you would have learned that Hugh was not really at the keep. And Darrel... I'd suggest that you lose the so-called gifts from your mother. I smell magic on them, but it's not druidic in nature... it's evil."

    And with unheard of speed, the glowing gear was quickly coming OFF and being dropped into a pile to the side of the party. Darrel was panting as he looked at the supposedly magical, from his mother, gifts. "Evil magic? Can you tell what this magic was supposed to do?"

    Majere nodded his worgish muzzle. "Of course... it was designed to slowly infect you with evil. The more often you relied upon it, the more wicked you would have become." Majere was then grinning, showing all of his razor sharp fangs. "I just saved your life, young ranger. Remember that... someday, you will have to repay me." Then he sat back and calmly said, "A good ranger should not be wandering a dark forest without good equipment. Ryan? Take your friends to the Cavern of Spoils. Despite the name, it's not a refuse dump, but the booty cavern where the centaurs store the equipment of people who had been killed during their adventuring careers."

    Ryan smiled, snapping his fingers. "Of course! And there should be a lot of decent gear that we can suit Darrel up in that would not endanger his life. And Riptide can help select the gear that would be most useful."

    Majere nodded his muzzle, then did his vanishing trick again. "And spend the night at the cavern, too. Something tells me that you don't want to be caught out in the open tonight..."

    And Majere was gone after that.

    Riptide was looking at the evil magical gear. "If the gear's evil magic was designed to slowly infect you with evil, then the person who gave you the gear couldn't have known that you were something more than a human. They would have assumed that Hugh's son had to be human like Hugh himself."

    Darrel hugged Riptide. "How do you mean?"

    Riptide grinned at Darrel, pressing his nose to Darrel's nose. "Remember when I told you about the abilities of a half elf? One of your resistances has to do with charm and mind alteration."

    The pseudo-dragon suddenly said, "I think we better get to that cave, guys. Marilith just told me that the creature pretending to be Hugh is a Xaos Devil Lieutenant, and I think the devil knows that Marilith knows what he is, so the sparks are about to fly. Literally."

    And so, the small group of friends rode off at a gallop toward the cave. Darrel and Riptide were on Darrel's horse, while the pseudo-dragon rode on Ryan's back. Being a centaur, Ryan needed no horse.

    The four had just barely rode into the mouth of the Cavern of Spoils, when there came an enormously loud thunderous boom that echoed across the entire forest!

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 18

    Moments later, once Darrel had informed Bovar, Hugh and Marilith about where the sword was, according to Majere, and of Darrel's intention to stay behind with Ryan and Riptide with the centaurs where it would be safe, the three party leaders were soon heading out of camp toward orc territory. Darrel, Riptide, Ryan and the pseudo-dragon waved goodbye to them, before heading off on their own using the map of the Barkoni Wylds, that the pseudo-dragon had filched out of Bovar's backpack before the three adults had departed.

    Darrel said, "I can't believe how easily they bought our story."

    Riptide grinned. "I guess if Majere is the source, they'd believe anything."

    The pseudo-dragon smiled slyly. "Actually... I am Marilith's familiar, so what I know, she knows. And that's the main reason she was so quick to agree that we would be safer by not being anywhere near the orcs. Marilith knows what we are up to and she approves."

    Ryan exclaimed, "I don't get it... if Hugh Sherman's sole concern was for Darrel, then why did he accompany Bovar and Marilith on the trip to fetch the sword? Especially when it's obvious that Darrel would not be going with them..."

    The pseudo-dragon hummed. "You have a point there, Ryan. Bovar was 100% sure that Hugh was insisting on being along solely because of Darrel. Yet now... Hugh has no reason for accompanying them to get the sword... or does he?"

    Darrel stopped walking and was quiet for a moment. "Doesn't it strike you as odd on how my father's old DarkKnight armor could still fit him, even though he'd not worn it in years?"

    Riptide hummed. "If you're suggesting that the Hugh we've all met is not your father... then who is he? He looks like your father, acts like him, sounds like him... but... does he smell like him?" Riptide was getting this worried look on his muzzle. Then, he cupped his muzzle with his paws as he called out into the forest. "Majere! Are you still around?"

    Almost instantly, Majere poked his head out of the undergrowth, almost point-blank from Riptide's right leg. "Is this close enough?"

    Riptide just about leaped straight up and out of the canopy of the treetops! "Don't do that?!"

    Majere was laughing, for a short moment, then became serious again. "You called my name, sea rat. What do you want?"

    Riptide replied, "The person who is with Bovar and Marilith right now... is that indeed Hugh Sherman, husband to Dryad Queen Maye, and father to Darrel? Or is it someone wearing a disguise? I figured with your nose, no one could fool you in your forest..."

    Majere glanced over the small group, then at the pseudo-dragon. "Best tell your mistress to unobtrusively cast a true seeing spell upon herself, and have her look at the DarkKnight."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 17

    Darrel placed his hands on his hips. "And how did you get on this side of the river? I thought your forest was over where the keep was."

    Majere quietly laughed then said, "You should learn to pay more attention to your parents' lessons. The entire forest, regardless of waterways, is my territory. I cross that river constantly, therefore I know it far better than you do."

    Riptide exclaimed, "Majere, right? I'm sorry I pulled my weapons on you earlier. But Darrel IS my responsibility. Now... what words do you have for him?"

    The pseudo-dragon said, "And no funny business, either. Just because I am a familiar doesn't mean I don't know how to cast my mistress' spells."

    Majere silently laughed again, grinning. "And here I thought this little party was going to be more mature than the other. Fine, my words. Darrel, the archfiend doesn't have the Sword of Serenity; the orcs have it. But because it's in their hands, the archfiend is sure to know that the blade is no longer protected, and will be seeking it out for himself. In order for you to get the sword back from the orcs, you will need to find pooka's egg. And the egg is in the paws of the dragondog clan. They don't know that it's not really a diamond, therefore... you will have to find them in order to steal the egg away from them, to return to pooka, who will engift you with a reward that will enable you to steal the sword away from the orcs. Any questions?"

    Darrel was arching his eye. "How is it that you know all of this?"

    Majere grinned before turning to leave. "Because I am Majere the Forest Scourge. There is nothing that goes on within my forest that I do not know the truth about. And before you ask, I do not know where the dragondog clan currently is, therefore, you will likely have to leave the forest to find them." And with that, Majere vanished back into the dense undergrowth of the surrounding forest.

    Ryan flicked his centaur tail. "At least he told you where most of everything is. How would you like to handle this, Darrel? If you tell Bovar and Hugh where the sword is, they'll insist that you not go there and will go themselves to fetch the sword."

    The pseudo-dragon grinned. "I can attest that Ryan is telling the truth. That is exactly what they'd do."

    Darrel looked at Riptide, then grinned. "Then that is what we'll let them do. If they insist that I stay behind where it's safe, then we can go off and do the other things that Majere said needed done. Bovar and Hugh don't even have to be told about the rest of this. They really only want to know where the sword is."

    Riptide grinned back. "You do have a point there. I, for one, am not the foolish type who'd want to waltz into the encampment of over a hundred orcs just to fetch a sword."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 16

    Minutes later, Hugh and Bovar's party were in the centaur's forest camp.

    Gonzal said, "We are pleased that the tunnel means us no harm, but at the same time, the stolen sword is a worry for all of the people in the whole world. We, the centaurs of the forest, will give you free passage any time you wish to travel through our home."

    Bovar nodded his head. "We thank you, Gonzal. And we promise not to despoil your territory as we travel through it."

    Hugh added, "And I shall make sure that they keep that promise."

    Marilith laughed. "Does that mean that you are coming with us, Hugh?"

    Hugh growled. "No! It simply means that I will escort you through their forest. Once you are beyond it, you'll be on your own."

    Bovar snapped at Hugh. "Give it up, Hugh! The real reason you're escorting us is because of Darrel! You simply don't want to let him go! Once beyond the forest, you'd find another reason to come along, and another reason, and yet another reason! If you are merely going to escort us through the centaur's forest, one of the centaurs could do that! You aren't necessary! Go on home to Maye, like you said you were going to, and quit making excuses!"

    In the next moment, Bovar was laid out on the ground, while Hugh was rubbing his now sore fist.

    Riptide chuckled, as he led Darrel away, out of laughter range. "Your father must have forgotten how tough minotaur jawbones really are."

    Darrel laughed a bit. "I'm still surprised that they haven't all killed each other yet."

    The pseudodragon, who was perched on Darrel's shoulder, said, "I have often wondered the same thing. They claim to be friends, yet they do this to each other almost constantly."

    Ryan caught up to the three. "Hope you don't mind my guiding you through the forest. I'll need to steer you around some hot spots where there has been trouble."

    Darrel smiled. "It's always good to have you around, Ryan. You know the best trails."

    Riptide grinned. "What sort of trouble, Ryan?"

    Ryan replied, "An orc encampment and a pooka's glen. The orcs care not for the centaurs, but they despise the elves even more. And the pooka is upset because someone stole it's egg. The egg of a pooka resembles an oval diamond."

    Suddenly, the large xaos worg, Majere the Forest Scourge, stepped out in front of the small group, and said, "We meet again, young ranger. Perhaps this time... you'll hear me out."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 15

    Bovar nodded his minotaur muzzle. "I was just about to suggest that, Hugh. Thank you."

    Hugh made a face at Bovar. "I'm not doing this for your benefit, Bovar. I'm doing it because my son is here. You can keep your thanks."

    Darrel again had departed the arguing without being seen. Though this time, Darrel did not go outside. He walked down one of the keep's corridors, and down into the lower chambers.

    Just as he stepped on the bottom most step, Darrel noticed a large hole in one wall leading into a manmade tunnel. His curiosity getting the better of him, he stepped into the tunnel and began following it. Darrel was glad that Riptide had explained the night vision ability to him. Darrel understood better why he was able to see in the dark.

    After walking a good distance, Darrel emerged from the tunnel into a clearing in a forest on the other side of the Wenzeline River. Darrel knew that's where he was when he saw some familiar faces. A group of centaurs were gathered here about to explore the tunnel they had just uncovered. The very tunnel that Darrel had just emerged from.

    Darrel smiled. "Ryan! Gonzal!"

    Ryan turned his head toward the voice, grinning. "Darrel! You were in this tunnel? Where does it go?" Ryan had fair skin on his human torso and face, and had long milk chocolate brown hair atop his head, as well as all over his equine body. Gonzal's human skin was copper colored, while his hair and equine body were ivory white.

    Darrel walked over and shook their hands, replying, "This tunnel goes under the river and up into the catacombs of Serenity Keep. I just came from there. My father and some of his friends are there now. Someone stole the Sword of Serenity."

    Gonzal said, "Ah, so the tunnel is not a threat to our forest. I am sorry to hear that the sword was stolen."

    Ryan patted Darrel's shoulder. "You look good in that suit of armor, Darrel. I suppose you've finally left home, haven't you?"

    Darrel smiled. "It's a very strange story, my friends. Mind if I sit with you and explain it over a mug of cider?"

    Ryan nodded his head, inviting Darrel to sit with them.

    Over the next hour, Darrel retold the story of his adventures thus far. When Darrel ended his tale, one of the centaur scouts alerted everyone to an approaching pseudodragon with a patch over one eye. Darrel knew it had to be Dragon.

    The pseudodragon landed on Darrel's shoulder. "Here you are. Everyone is worried about you."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 14

    Darrel hummed. "So you truly want nothing of me?"

    Majere grinned. "I never said that, young ranger. Of course there is something that I want. But are you willing to give it? That is the great question..."

    Just then, Riptide was immediately between Darrel and Majere. "Back off, Xaos Warg! This half-elf is under my care!" Riptide had his blades drawn and at the ready.

    Majere tilted his head at Riptide. "A sea rat bodyguard, young ranger? We will speak another time, when the mothering rat is not around." Majere arose to his footpads, and backed up into the shadows. "Know you this, sea rat... I, Majere the Forest Scourge, will have my words with the young ranger sooner or later." Majere was then simply gone.

    Riptide felt a cold bead of sweat drip down his back. "Was that really THE Majere?"

    Darrel replied, "Y-yeah... it was... he wasn't threatening me... he said he just wanted to talk... which is highly unusual, considering his reputation. Is dinner ready?"

    Riptide slowly turned to face Darrel. "Um, yeah. When I didn't see you in the keep, I feared the worst. You're my responsibility. Plus..." Riptide hugged Darrel gently... "...I like you."

    Darrel mentally erf'ed. (Oh great... Riptide has a crush on me...)

    Riptide stopped hugging, and escorted Darrel back into the keep.

    Once they were inside, Darrel was served his portion of dinner, then, Riptide told the others about the encounter behind the keep.

    Hugh hummed. "Majere... well, this IS his forest. He has the right to do as he likes. What did he want?"

    Riptide replied, "Majere wanted to talk to Darrel. That's it. To talk. I interrupted them before anything could be said. I was protecting Darrel."

    Marilith laughed. "I can just imagine what your reaction was when you found out that you had threatened Majere!"

    Riptide sighed and muttered, "It isn't funny."

    Bovar then spoke up. "He's right, Marilith. It's not funny. If Majere is this close to the keep, then something must be up in the forest. It's an ill omen."

    Hugh stood up. "I was going to return to Maye's forest after dinner, but now, I think it would be better if I remained here and help stand guard against whatever may be lurking within view of this keep."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 13

    While Bovar and Hugh were both growling over the map, Darrel quietly slipped out of the keep and around to the back where Hugh had given Darrel the sword and equipment. Darrel unsheathed the magic sword, and took a stance with it. Then, he took a few practice swings at a non-existent foe. As Darrel was practicing with his new blade, a pair of red eyes narrowed and shined in the dark shadows of the trees.

    Just as Darrel made a false parry and a forward lunge, a very gruff, slightly raspy voice spoke from the shadows.

    "Your form is impressive, but your style sucks."

    Darrel pivoted toward the shadows immediately, and about fell down.

    The creature with the red eyes laughed quietly. "Is that the best you have? This is about the same as giving a carving knife to a man-cub."

    Darrel was starting to get upset. "Who's there?"

    The creature with the red eyes replied, "I am Majere. I'm a Xaos Warg."

    Darrel took a step back at those words. "THE Majere?"

    Majere chuckled again, and slightly stepped forward to where he could be seen more properly. "Why are you backing away, young ranger? Surely you do not fear me, do you? I have already fed once this evening. You are not on my dessert menu."

    Darrel stopped backing up. "What do you want?"

    Majere sat down and grinned. "What do I want? Often I have heard that question, and more often, I reply, to see and learn. I am even more often never believed. While it is true that I am Majere the Forest Scourge, in truth, I mean you no harm, young ranger."

    Darrel wasn't sure what to reply to this. If Majere had wanted to kill him, the deed would have occurred already. No, this Xaos Warg wanted something. Something more than killing. "What do I have that you want?"

    Majere hummed. "Now, you are assuming that because I am letting you live, you have something that I crave. What could you possible have that I, a non-morphic Xaos Warg, could make use of?"

    Darrel did a quick inventory of what he did have on himself. But there was nothing that Majere could truly use. Darrel looked to Majere once again. "Then, you must be needing my services for something, even if I am untrained. What is the request?"

    Majere chuckled again. "You are highly amusing me to no end, young ranger."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 12

    Darrel unwrapped the package, and started looking over the magical protection bracers, a magical protection ring, a suit of magical studded leather armor, some antitoxin boots, and a glowing magical long sword. "Wow. All of this is for me?"

    Hugh nodded his head. "Maye and I were going to give you all this stuff on the day you officially headed out into the world. But because Bovar and Marilith jumped the crossbow, so to speak, you'll need these items now. Go ahead and suit yourself up."

    Darrel nodded his head, and began getting into the magical gear.

    Hugh smiled, saying, "Riptide will help you learn how to better use that sword. Maye placed an extra magic in that blade. Not only does it shed light on command, but it talks. I never hankered much for talking intelligent weapons, but as Maye said, better a talking sword, than a talking diaper."

    Darrel laughed at that. "That sounds like something mother would say!"

    Hugh inspected Darrel thoroughly, once all of the magical items were in place. "The good thing about magical items is that they grow or shrink to fit whoever wears them. You look fine, Darrel. Well... I've done what I came to do. I may not trust Bovar and Marilith that much, but, as strange as this may sound, that pseudo dragon and Riptide are your best allies on this venture. I think you can trust them with your life."

    Riptide, as if on cue, made his appearance, carrying several quail and a string of fish. "Will you be staying for dinner, Hugh? The forest and stream yielded quite the bounty on this trip."

    Hugh smiled again. "Riptide... I just told Darrel that he should only trust you and that pseudo dragon. I'm counting on you to keep Darrel safe."

    Riptide grinned slyly, "You'd trust a mangy filthy sea rat over your old companions?"

    Hugh laughed! "If you knew them like I do, you wouldn't have to ask!"

    Riptide smiled softly. "You're okay, Hugh. Now, about dinner?"

    Hugh smiled. "One meal can't hurt before I head back into Maye's forest."

    Riptide smiled again. "Thank you. I'll try to make this meal the best yet!"

    The three headed back into the keep, and Riptide began preparing dinner. Marilith was having a private and mental conversation with her pseudo dragon, while Bovar was looking over a map.

    Hugh came over and looked at the map. "What's this, Bovar?"

    Bovar snorted, then said, "This is a map of the Barkoni Wylds."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 11

    Hugh and Darrel took a short walk out back of Serenity Keep, while Marilith and Bovar prepared a meal. Hugh hadn't seen where Riptide nor the pseudo-dragon had went, but he mainly wanted to get Darrel off alone for just a little while.

    Hugh said, "What do you think of what small experiences in the world you've had, Darrel?"

    Darrel replied, "I originally didn't come willingly, father. When I found out what Bovar intended, I wanted to ask you for advice and permission to go. Bovar cast some sort of sleep spell on me, then tied me and put me in a sack, and together with Marilith, they brought me back to the keep. The pseudo-dragon was sympathetic to my just being grabbed, hence why I trust the little guy. Then, after Bovar and Marilith revealed where they, and you, had come from, I sort of felt obliged to help them. We next went to the city of Arenview Port, where Bovar and Marilith let me off the invisible leash so I could explore. I ran into and befriended Riptide, and after he heard my story, he filled me in on the rest of the so-called big secret. Not even Bovar and Marilith had revealed that mother was the Dryad Queen nor that I was a half-elf. So, Riptide offered to come along, both as rogue, and as my teacher. Riptide has known other half-elves, so he knew the things that I'd have to know as a half-elf."

    Hugh grinned. "And if I don't miss my guess, Bovar wants nothing to do with Riptide. Am I right?"

    Darrel smiled. "Those were almost his exact words. Bovar said that Riptide was my responsibility. Did I make a mistake, father?"

    Hugh patted Darrel's shoulder. "I don't believe you made a mistake, Darrel. What I think happened is that your affinity for animals got the better of you, and being that Riptide is a sea rat, or rather, a rat, you wanted to befriend him, though you didn't know what a sea rat was. You could have done far worse, for your first time alone. Far, far worse. But I think you've done well, if it annoys Bovar." Hugh winked an eye.

    Darrel chuckled, winking back. "So you're going to let me help them?"

    Hugh and Darrel sat down on the edge of a spring-fed pool of water. Hugh then replied, "As Marilith has already stated... it is not my life to judge over; this is your choice, Darrel. Whether I say yea or nay, isn't the point. The point is, what do you want to do? What would you like to do after this quest ends? Guarding a sword is extremely boring. And there is a whole world you haven't seen. Riptide is merely the icing on the world. You'll want to see and experience more. And I cannot stop you. Half-elves often get something called wanderlust, and it causes them to want to go forth to see and do more. That is why you weren't told that you were a half-elf. I believed that if you thought you were human, you wouldn't get wanderlust."

    Darrel oh'ed. "You make it sound like a curse."

    Hugh sighed and hugged Darrel closely. "It is similar to a curse. Ah, before I forget..." Hugh pulled the package off his back and handed it to Darrel. "You'll be needing this."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 10

    The party was soon underway again. Bovar was still quietly fuming over Darrel having hired a sea rat. Marilith and the pseudo-dragon conversed mentally, with smiles. Riptide rode with Darrel, instructing him on what little half-elf abilities that could be taught on horseback.

    When they re-arrived back at Serenity Keep, the party got a rather unexpected and angry surprise. DarkKnight Hugh Sherman had come for his son, and he was definitely not happy. He had his old armor on and his darksword at the ready. "BOVAR! You had no right to kidnap Darrel! What were you thinking?!"

    Bovar was starting to dismount, when he saw that Riptide had beaten him to it. The sea rat was FAST! He was behind Hugh, with his dagger drawn and held to Hugh's throat. "Darrel is helping Bovar and Marilith. Now, put that sword away like a good boy, before something very bad happens to you."

    Hugh had no choice. He slowly put his sword back into it's scabbard, and released it. "A sea rat. Has the fellowship come down to this? You hired a vile sea rat to help you?"

    Marilith chuckled aloud. "Actually..."

    Bovar finished for Marilith. "...your son, Darrel, hired Riptide. We had nothing to do with it."

    Riptide grinned. "I am a rogue and I know the truth behind Darrel's heritage. And he knows it too. We've all told him. He's a half-elf, who is also the son of Dryad Queen Maye. You've taught Darrel your ranger abilities but no one has taught him to use his half-elf abilities. In addition to being the party's rogue, I have offered to teach Darrel about his half-elf abilities and heritage. And that's that." Riptide removed his dagger from Hugh's throat and quickly rejoined Darrel.

    Hugh looked amused.

    Marilith asked, "I haven't see you look that way in a long time, Hugh."

    Hugh replied, "My son hired a sea rat without your consent? I almost feel sorry for you. Almost. This seems like the perfect yin yang for your kidnapping my son for this crazy mission."

    Bovar grinned. "We never meant to ask you to help us, Hugh. We were after Darrel all along. You're too old to be of any use. We needed your tracking skills, but not you specifically."

    Hugh hummed, starting to get the picture. "Now it all makes sense! You knew I was too old to help you, so you pretended to ask me..."

    Marilith ahemed, "Correction... we NEVER asked you. If you took our presence as a request for your help, that is YOUR fault. We always meant to ask Darrel to come along."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 9

    Riptide smiled and pondered the statement. "You know something, Darrel? I think I'll help you guys out. You need a rogue who knows what he's doing, and I'm a sea rat, so I'm not afraid of dying. What's the mission?"

    Darrel told Riptide about the Sword of Serenity and the fiend, Kalthanatross.

    Riptide's eyes got a bit wide. "A demon lord. Well... that is certainly a challenge... but if I do help and we win, I'll be famous here in Arenview Port. And even a sea rat like me can use some fame."

    Darrel smiled. "That's great. Let's go find Bovar and Marilith."

    Just as Darrel and Riptide emerged from Riptide's home, the pseudo-dragon landed on Darrel's shoulder. "Marilith asked me to tell you that they're ready to travel. Who's your rat friend?"

    Riptide petted the pseudo-dragon's head and neck. "I am Riptide, a sea rat rogue. Darrel just hired me."

    The pseudo-dragon eyed Riptide, then rolled those eyes. "Bovar is not going to believe this. Oh well, let's go. They are waiting for us at the Wet Lizardman Tavern."

    The three soon walked into the Wet Lizardman Tavern, and Bovar did indeed examine the sea rat. "You are telling me that you hired a... a... sea rat? What were you thinking? Everyone knows that they can't be trusted!"

    Riptide suddenly had a blade to Bovar's throat. "Look, pal! You need a rogue, right? I am a rogue! Besides, once the other rogues find out why you want them, they'll drop your party like an anvil sinking in quicksand! And... I know that Darrel is a half-elf, and... can help train him in his half-elf powers! Can you do that? No!" He retracted his blade and put it away. "Besides, you don't have a choice now. Darrel hired me. You're stuck with me."

    Marilith just smirked. "I'd trust a sea rat over Pauly any day, Bovar. Besides, Darrel hired him; not us. Riptide is Darrel's responsibility. It'll give him a taste of what the world can do to him. Let the sea rat stay. If you want to hire another rogue, we will. But not here in Arenview Port. By now, everyone knows what we're up to. We're lucky we got Riptide."

    Bovar sighed and grumbled. He knew that Marilith was right. No one in Arenview Port would join so foolhardy a mission as this. "Very well. Riptide, is it? You can stay. But you stay with Darrel at all times. I suppose you CAN teach Darrel SOMETHING."

    Riptide grinned. "Indeed I can. Like how to protect his money-strings when visiting a city. You can't let him walk around without any money forever. I'll teach him the things I know he'll need to know. And if you'd like, I'll swear an oath to protect him. But by my gods, not yours. Torm-Khattalos does not favor sea rats, which is strange, because Torm-Khattalos does not favor any sailing lords. I'll swear by both Squerrik Wrathbone and Dryad Queen Maye."

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  • Cpt Pouchlaw
    Sword of Serenity - Chapter 8

    Riptide took Darrel back to his place, where he helped clean Darrel and his clothing of the shoremud, then, the two settled down in the kitchen, where Riptide made some tea and explained things.

    Riptide handed Darrel a cup of tea. "Your mother is the dryad queen. Your father is a human. Therefore, you are a half-elf. Because this is true, you have some special abilities that your parents never told you about. You're lucky that I am so worldly traveled and know about half-elves. First of all, you have your eyesight. It is better than any other normal human's eyesight. You have a form of nightvision that enables you to see things at a certain distance as if it were daytime, however, this ability must be turned on and off, by you."

    Darrel sipped his tea and nodded his head. "Okay."

    Riptide smiled. "I know it's hard to believe, but trust me on this. The variable distance is about 60 feet. Anything beyond 60 feet will appear to be in a cloak of night. The first time you experience it, you'll have a better idea on what I am talking about."

    Darrel nodded his head again.

    Riptide sat down with his tea, and sipped it. "Secondly, your eyes are so highly attuned, that you can locate hidden or secret things better than anyone else. You'll locate these things 33 to 50 percent faster than a common human, though, you have to be within 10 feet of the object you're trying to find."

    Darrel hummed. "That might explain some of the events from back home. Anything that was purposely hidden from me by my father was more easily found, than if my mother had hidden it."

    Riptide smiled. "Now you're catching on. Thirdly, you are 30 percent more resistant to magical powers that effect the mind. Sleep and Charm are extremely hard to enforce upon a half-elf."

    Darrel grinned. "I found that out when I was a kid."

    Riptide grinned back. "I'll bet you did. Next, your knowledge of languages. If Maye had any brain in her head, she taught you more languages than just the common tongue of Humans. You should have been taught the tongues of Shifter, Elven, Forest Sprite, Hobbit, Impish, Hobgoblin, Orcish, Gnoll, and Sea-Speak."

    Darrel blinked his eyes. "Wow! That's right! How'd you know?"

    Riptide grinned. "You're not the first half-elf I've encountered. Finally, because of the dryad blood in your body, I would say that you have an affinity towards animals and part-animal races. Don't be surprised. It's only natural. That's why you wanted a closer look at me. I am part-rat. It intrigued your curiosity. In a way, I am glad I met you. Why are you in the city?"

    Darrel explained the recent events, then replied, "Bovar said that we needed a rogue."

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