Tale of the Mystics

by Dino the Dark Dragon

(Note: The original form of this story can be found here at Daniel D'Agostino's homepage.)

Chapter 1 - The Departure

The night was dark as ever. The darkness brightened the twin moons' pale light, a reminder that the shadows cannot put out the light; they can only make it burn brighter.

As six tall, strong figures travelled under the bleak black sky, all else was motionless, and silent. It was an atmosphere far worse than any spooky place imaginable.

The situation was just as grim. Each of the six people knew of the fate at hand; should they fail, all of Britannia may be doomed. The future of the entire realm was on their shoulders, a weight that they could hardly bear.

All of a sudden, their leader motioned to them to stop. He thrust his sword into the ground. "We will leave the blessed weapons and armour that served us so well right here. You all know of our coming fate. Should we not return, may these remain to serve Britannia."

Though they all wanted to protest, they all hesitated, and said nothing. The five followers recognised the look on the leader's face to be a grieved one, although they could not see it properly. They could feel his same emotions and his same feelings inside them.

It grieved all six of them that they wanted to succeed and remain to serve Britannia, but it might not happen. After a moment of consideration after the hesitation, they shared his same opinion that their unique weapons and armour that had saved them once before should not be lost with them, in case they would perish.

One after another, the travellers planted their swords in the earth beneath their feet, and removed their armour, putting it around their swords. The leader proceeded to remove his, and put it in front of his sword, rather than on it. He then donned some heavy armour, as his companions put on theirs. Before resuming their journey, one of the companions took some magic axes from his backpack and distributed them among his friends. It grieved them more than ever to leave their weapons and armour behind, but they had to think of Britannia's own good, not just their own happiness.

The expression on the leader's face quickly transformed from a grieved one to a serious and determined look. "I can see the river. Shame must be at its root." one of them said as they started moving. The leader raised his axe, and signalled to his followers. Together, they travelled south, to their destiny.

Chapter 2 - The Quest

Three months later, in the towne of Yew, a young woman was hunting nearby. She had easily killed four trolls all alone, and returned to Yew with a heavier pouch than when she had left. The first place she went to was the Slaughtered Lamb. "Couldst thou get me some ale?" she asked the woman at the counter.


As Lora stayed drinking there, a boy came running into the inn with a message for her. "Is Lora here?" he asked.

"Yes," the young woman replied, putting down her mug, "What dost thou want?"

"The ol' herbalist gave me a few crowns and told me to tell thee that... uh, what was it? Oh yeah, he ran out of nightshade and needs thee to get him some."

Sure enough, everybody knew Lora was the right person for the job, just as they knew she wouldn't refuse to help someone. "Tell him I'll set off tonight." she told the boy, who then left as he came - running.

Unlike most of the villagers, Lora was not busy at all, and lived off hunting in the forest, so she could hunt and enjoy herself whenever she liked. Helping somebody was no trouble at all. Instead, she was pleased whenever she could earn something extra from a little task.

Soon enough, she left her tankard half full of ale on the counter, paid, and left for her house on the east side of Yew. While she relaxed on her bed and took off her boots, she considered where she might go look for nightshade.

Soon she remembered that the mushroom was first spotted in Spiritwood. She rested there all afternoon, and, as the sun setted started to set, she changed her clothes, grabbed a bow, quiver and backpack and went south.

Chapter 3 - The Traveller

Only two days later, Lora had already neared he south end of the Deep Forest. She noticed that the rations she had brought with her would only last for a few more days.

During her entire journey so far, she had not yet encountered a living soul, whether friend or foe. It was a dull time for her, as she loved to hunt and gain from her hunts.

It had started to rain, though Lora could not see neither the rain nor the sun through the thickness of the trees and the shelter they offered. Lora mused as she though about where the forest had got its name.

She walked on, and soon, to her surprise and excitement, she soon heard a man whistling. She ran in the direction from which the whistling was coming, and came upon a well-built man with clothes that were slowly becoming rags. He had a light backpack resting on his back, and carried a small axe over his shoulder.

"Good day sir!" she greeted the man.
"Ah, good day to thee milady!" he answered, interrupting his whistling.
"'Tis nice to see a living soul!"
"Aye, indeed 'tis!" He paused to sit down, back to a tree, and continued, "I am going to Empath Abbey. Thou seest, I am a follower of Love."
"And I'd like to encounter my love too!" he added with a wink.
"Empath Abbey? Why, that is west of here! Thou art heading towards Yew, from whence I come!"

"Thou art from Yew? Tell me about it; I might be going there as well!"

Lora went to sit down in front of him. "Well, what can I say? Yew is nice!"

"Of course me is!" he replied with a big grin.

Lora laughed. "Oh, no! I did not mean that! I meant the city of Yew is nice!"

"Oh well, I'm sure it is."

"What is thy name?"

"I am Yonol, and what is thine?"

"I am Lora, pleased to meet thee. Well, thou shouldst not be whistling so loudly in these dangerous woods. Thou mayest be ambushed."

Yonol laughed. "No my friend, for as long as I have been travelling to the Abbey, I have not encountered a single creature that dared attack me."

They ate together, and shared their food as friends. After a brief time, Lora said with a smile, "Excuse me, but I must heed the call of nature."

"Oh, thou art a protector of the woods?" Yonol asked her.

"No," she answered with a wink, "I need to pee." She left her backpack with Yonol and walked away for a short distance. She was back in a minute.

They talked all day, and became good friends. As night started to fall, they went to sleep, and went on their separate ways the next morning.

As Lora continued her journey south, she quickly heard a familiar sound. Skeletons! The sound came from the direction in which Yonol was heading! She grabbed her bow and ran there. Her strong friend had already killed two skeletons, but four others were still left, and Yonol was injured. She fired an arrow in a skeleton's head, which flew off its neck upon impact. Just as Yonol drove his axe down another's head and all the way down to where the stomach should be, another skeleton buried its sword in his own stomach.

"No!" Lora yelled, as Yonol fell. Her eyes burned with revenge. She pulled out another arrow and shot it at another skeleton, breaking its neck. Another arrow broke another skeleton's spine, as the last skeleton drew near enough to strike at Lora. And so it did, but she ducked, and wrestled its sword out of its hand. Soon the skeleton was in her power, and she broke its neck with her own hands.

The skeletons were defeated, but the cost was great - she had lost a friend. She knelt beside him and moved his body over to face her. He was still alive, but breathing his last. "Give me your hand." he said in a whisper. Lora stretched her hand, as Yonol removed a ring from his finger and put it in Lora's hand, then closed her hand. "This is my Ring of Protection. I give it to thee as thanks. May it serve thee well." After a few minutes, he died.

Chapter 4 - The Discovery

Five days after Yonol's tragic death, Lora was passing by the southwestern woods of the Deep Forest, that stretched all the way down to the Lost River. She sat down for her dinner, and found that she only had enough food for that evening. As it started to rain again, she gathered everything and moved to the shelter of the trees to the west.

After finishing her meal, she thought it would be better to go hunting, so that she would not have to do so upon waking up the next morning and would be able to have breakfast immediately.

The rain stopped, and, through the occasional aperture among the leaves above, Lora could see the stars. The clouds had cleared, revealing a beautiful sky shining in the pale friendly light of the twin moons.

However, it was extremely dark under the trees, where very little light made its way in. Lora thought it would be better to postpone her hunt to the following morning when she could see more.

So she made a campfire that night, and removed her boots, to give her sore feet some air after all that walking. By the warmth of the fire, she soon dozed off into a deep sleep and woke refreshed the following morning.

As she picked herself up and stretched, leaving her boots off her feet as long as she could, she could see the azure sky and the golden sun above her. It was difficult to have such a wonderful atmosphere in a forest, but it was right there.

Leaving all her things behind her, including her boots, she walked a short way south. She found exactly what she expected to find. As the myriad of trees came to an end, Lora could see water washing up to the trees. It was Lost River. She was delighted to see water after so many days without it.

She pulled up her tight trousers and wet her bruised feet in the water before going back to get her things. With her backpack in one hand and boots in another, she returned to the river for a bath there.

It was a very hot day, as Lora dove into the virgin river. While she washed herself in the calm waters, she suddenly saw something shining in the sunlight. Could it have been gold? Perhaps, she thought. She became curious.

She quickly got out of the water, filled her empty flask with water, put on her dreaded boots and backpack, forgot about her breakfast, and headed in the direction of the shining object. As she drew nearer, she could see what like the figure of a man, but was too strangely shaped to be a man. It seemed to have no legs, and was thin as a stick, yet was as wide as a normal human body at the apparent torso. "No," Lora thought to herself, "my eyes are surely deceiving me."

And she was right. When she drew near enough, she could see what it really was. The most beautiful sword she had ever seen, with a jeweled hilt and a serpent engraved on the blade, was stuck in the ground, with armour just as beautiful resting on its hilt. This armour had a serpent engraved on the front and another on the back, and another on each shoulder plate.

Lora circled her discovery in awe, admiring its beauty. She mused as she remembered a story Lord British himself once told the people. It was about a young man who unearthed a sword and later became king. Who knows, she thought, perhaps if she pulled that sword out of there, she might take Lord British's place one day. She scoffed at the idea, knowing that Lord British was a wise ruler, and that deposing a king or ruling after his death is not quite in her nature. She was a woman that loved open air, hunting, danger and adventure, not a boring life closed in a castle where everyone does your dirty work and where you sit at a desk doing nothing.

She finally stopped circling the sword and, as her look became serious and determined, she reached for the sword. Clouds flocked in the sky once again as she removed the armour from the sword, with little trouble, and placed it on the ground.

Lora wiped her sweaty hands in her trousers for a firm grip, and looked up to see the clouds moving along with the wind, without raining, as they separated and abandoned their threat to rain. Finally, she grabbed the hilt.

She pulled up with all her strength, but the sword resisted. It had been stuck in the ground by a strong person, and was stuck firmly. But Lora was determined. She threw down her backpack and removed her boots, and placed her feet in a firm position on the ground. Lora now used all her strength. The veins in her muscular arms bulged out as she grabbed the hilt and pulled the sword up.

Taking the sword with her, Lora moved over and put on the armour. The sword's scabbard was nearby, and she went to pick it up. While she was putting it around her waist, Lora saw what she could never have imagined to see. Four more swords exactly like the first were planted in the ground in a similar fashion with armour on them, just like the first. Among them was a last sword, more beautiful than the others, and slightly shorter, by an inch or two. Its corresponding armour was in front of it rather than on it, and had an ankh engraved on the front rather than a serpent.

She liked the special set of sword and armour more than the one she had found and unearthed before, so she wore those instead. Lora decided to take all of the swords and armour with her. However, her backpack only permitted one armour, so she put in one armour and slid a sword through it, although it went right through the backpack and she had to make holes for it. She left with two swords and armour, and buried the rest so that nobody could find them, and so that she could return to take them.

Chapter 5 - Nightshade

Excited and delighted by her findings, Lora wanted to get the nightshade quest over with as soon as possible, so she could deliver the nightshade and go back for the weapons and armour. The following day, she was passing between the Serpent's Spine mountains, and Dungeon Shame was south. She was far from the entrance, yet could hear deadly echoes from her location.

Eleven days later, Lora had reached Spiritwood, and had got some food from some hunting here and there. She pulled out an old map from her trouser pocket, and saw the location of where nightshade was first found. Consulting her sextant, she could see that she was quite near. As the forest grew denser with her every step, she could see strange glows in the darkness, and thought she had heard some voices.

Spiritwood was darker than the Deep Forest, yet the mysterious light eliminated most of the darkness. Approaching one of the light sources, she soon saw a floating orb that was glowing with a blue light. Upon detecting her, it floated away.

She was nearly there. Her map showed that her destination was just southwest of her location. She headed there. Six headless burst out from behind the trees, at what seemed like an ideal ambush. They surrounded her. Lora drew her sword and lifted it on guard. As one lashed at her with its deformed claws, she ducked to avoid it and turned around, slicing it by the waist with her powerful sword.

As three others tried to strike Lora, she cut off their hands easily. In doing that, she did not notice the headless striking her from behind, and was hit on the armour. However she didn't feel anything. She just turned and cut off its legs. The armour's protection was awesome. As she drove her sword into the last healthy headless, the ones she had cut fled. The headlesses had some food and gold, so she took whatever they had and proceeded.

She reached the site. For some reason, there was no nightshade there. She wondered, and consulted her map in case she made some mistake. Her sextant read the exact location she wanted. Perhaps the nightshade stopped growing there. Would she have to look elsewhere, after weeks of travelling? She wondered what was wrong. Then she remembered.

Lora set up camp and slept, although it was afternoon. She remembered that she could only find nightshade in the middle of the night. It was dark and the ideal place to sleep during the day, but glowing orbs came again, and she couldn't sleep. She got up to attack the orbs and drive them away, and they escaped. Sitting by the warm welcoming campfire, she soon fell asleep.

She woke up frequently during the course of the day, though she slept most of the time. When night fel, she made sure to wake up so that she wouldn't sleep through the night. Lora got up and stretched her arms and legs, and walked to the river to the east to wash her face to remain awake. When she walked back to the campfire, she found the nightshade sprouting from the ground. Pulling a bag out from her backpack, she began collecting the precious fungus.

Her quest complete, she started her way back to Yew.

Chapter 6 - The Disappearance

A day had passed since she found the nightshade, and she was progressing fast. But Lora's feet stung with the walk; her throat was dry and she couldn't afford to drink continuously. Her legs were dead tired, yet she wanted to proceed to reach the weapons and armour, and Yew.

The trees near her rustled as she walked on. She could sense a presence between the bushes, yet she walked on, on her guard, although appearing to be walking without caution. A pair of wings flapped in the air, and a creature flew out of the bushes and landed a short distance behind her. She turned round.

It was a daemon, and it looked quite bloodthirsty. Long fangs extended from its strong jaw, and a pair of equally threatening horns protruded from its bony head. It was in for a fight.

Lora drew her sword and lifted it on guard. The daemon began a short chant, and a fireball shot towards Lora. She dove to the side to avoid it, and just as she got out of its way, the daemon fired a second ball of fire which hit Lora full in the chest. It was a huge fireball, and the explosion was just as big. But the armour she was wearing protected her, and her body only suffered from a few bruises here and there. Though her face was badly bruised, and her legs also, as the part of her trousers she had beneath her knee was burnt away completely. She got up and charged towards the monster.

As it prepared to launch another fireball, Lora threw the sword at its hands where the fireball was taking shape, and the ball of fire exploded, hurting the daemon and throwing it back. But the daemon was still alive; it got up quickly and Lora was disarmed. As it tried to punch her and crush her with its large fist, Lora dove sideways and rolled over, gripping her sword. With a shout of attack, she jumped at the daemon and drove her sword into its bowels.

After another four days of long, tiring walk, Lora reached the Deep Forest. She could hear the river streaming nearby, and sighed with relief. She headed down to the river. She really needed a rest after all that, and washed herself calmly in the river. While she was there, she thought she should visit the site where she buried the weapons and armour some time before, to check if all was still in place. She took her time to relax and rest in the water while she was there, and she regained her strength. Later, she took her dirty, tattered clothes from the river bank and dressed up, after which she took her things and went to visit the site.

Reaching the site where the weapons and armour once were, she found heaps of soil all over the place. The holes where she buried the weapons and armour were empty, to her horror, and she couldn't believe her eyes. They were gone. "But if the weapons and armour were there for so long," she thought, having found them the first time with weeds and cobwebs, "then how the damn did somebody find them now when I buried them safely?" Then she remembered. The fire!

The campfire must have signalled Lora's location, from where somebody could easily follow her and find the weapons. Rustle, rustle, she could hear the sound of somebody moving through the bushes to the west. Convinced that she might find out who stole the weapons and armour, she ran there. Drawing her sword already and putting a threatening expression on her face, she hasted towards the sound. A man was there, running to the west, wearing some familiar armour and with a most sword in his hand that she had seen before. She was right! However, that man only had one set with him, since he had no backpack and wasn't carrying any more weapons or armour with him. Where were the other three gone to?

In a rage, she pointed her sword against the back of his unsusecting neck, and then he stopped and turned round. "What dost thou want?" he shouted rudely.

"I want back what thou hast stolen!" she retorted in a similar fashion.

"Ah, so thou hast the rest of the sets with thee! The boss will be pleased when I bring them back to him. Now let me help thee remove them."

She pointed the sword harder against his neck, but he hit her sword away from his neck with his own sword. "Thou hast better surrender," said the disgustingly drooling mouth, "Or thou wilst face a slow and painful death!" She paid no heed, and struck down on his head. Though he parried the blow with his sword, pushed back her sword with his own and wielded straight at her. She dodged his blow and hit his sword down. He then put his sword against hers and pushed against it for a duel of strength. He forced her on the ground, and was pushing his sword on hers, pushing both of them against her, when she caught hold of some soil and hurled it in his face, and then kicked him over.

He wiped the mudded soil off his eyes and got up. He struck at her neck, when she parried the blow, and proceeded to try on her waist, which she also parried, and punched him in the face after that. He fell backwards, and she stood over him with her sword pointed against his neck and with one foot on his sword. "Give me the armour and the sword." she ordered. He spat at her and caught her sword, and tripped her down, and next he was on her, wrestling to keep her down. She kneed him in the stomach, but he wouldn't budge. She next resorted to spitting in his eyes, and then pushed him over with her knees and kicked him in the face. Although the bandit still could not see clearly, he dove over and gripped his sword, while Lora's was still on the ground beside him. He moved towards her with an evil grin on his face, while she moved backwards with caution. As he ran and tried to cut her head off, she blocked the sword, grabbing it from the hilt, and forced it on his neck. Soon, her enemy was dead as a doornail, and his head rolled a few feet away, leaving a bloody trail.

Picking up her own sword and sheathing it, she took the set of sword and armour he was carrying and carried them in her hands since she could not carry them in her backpack. With him dead, she had no idea where she could go to look for the other three sets. She proceeded to search his body for any clues, and found a letter. It read:

        your mission has been ordered by Jengar
        himself. Proceed to find the Mystic weapons
        and armour, and, with your men, take
        them to Sutek, who now lives in Blackthorn's
        palace. I will go there myself to collect
        them once you take them there.

        Signed, Donodar

She was completely taken by surprise. What she found were actually the Mystics? That was hard to believe. If they were really the Mystics, then she would have to retrieve them at all costs, since they were very powerful weapons and armour, and would be dangerous if in the wrong hands. She decided then. She would go to Yew, leave the sets in her house and take just one with her, and take a ship to Blackthorn's palace.

Chapter 7 - Rage

Lora ran with all the speed she could afford; though she was tired, injured and weighed down by the armour and swords she was carrying, she wanted revenge. Her face was red with anger, and her rage gave her the strength to run faster than was usually possible with all the bulk she was carrying.

Twelve giant spiders could be seen ahead, but she did not stop. She kept running, and since she did not want to stop because of the usual wild creatures, her rage increased. She slammed down the armour and sword in her hands, and reached for her bow as she stopped for a few moments. She reached for an arrow, and reached further until she grasped her quiver. Putting it around her shoulder, she lifted her bow and put an arrow in place. She pulled, and let go. A giant spider was already dead with that.

The spiders advanced on her, and she fired three arrows at once. Only two of them hit, however. As they drew nearer, she threw down her bow and clutched her sword. She was cautious, knowing that the bite of a giant spider like those could be poisonous. The huge, black arachnoids advanced, as she lifted the sword on guard. Two lunged at her, as she killed one of them but the other one hit her from behind. Swinging the sword behind her and killing the spider behind her, she worried whether she was poisoned, until she found that the spider had only hit her armour.

Another spider attacked, and caught hold of Lora's sword by biting it. With her other hand, Lora grabbed the sword that lay on the floor and drove it into the spider's face. Three more advanced to attack, while the remaining three stayed behind to watch. With two swords in her hands, Lora ran towards the spiders and slashed madly, and the spiders were soon a heap of blood. One of the remaining three spiders fled, while the other two charged. Lora jumped and climbed onto a tree, and moved along a branch until she came over them. Jumping down with swords facing down, the spiders were soon dead as a doornail.

Picking up her things, she continued running. When she reached Yew, she ran to the west through the familiar forest and friendly trees until she came to the old herbalist's residence. She knocked on the door, sweating like a pig after the run, and exhausted. An old, bent figure opened the door. "Greetings Nuriel." Lora greeted her old friend, "I have brought you the nightshade you needed." She put down her backpack, and fished out a bag full of the precious fungus. "Thank thee Lora. Please, come in and have some ale with me." the old man said.

"I am sorry, but I have to do something very important and I cannot stay."

This was very unusual for Lora, as everybody in town who knew her knew that she was not busy, and seeing her say that she is busy was most wierd.

"Pray tell me, Lora, what is the matter?" inquired the concerned old herbalist.

"I have no time to explain," she replied, "though I will once I do what I have to do."

"Very well then. If it is so important, I shall get you the money for the nightshade immediately."

The old man vanished into his house for a few moments. He was worried that Lora no longer wanted to offer him company, being an old man who nobody seems to care about. Though a sensitive old man, he was also very reasonable and understanding. He knew that that might possibly not be the case, and something serious may be going on. He came back with a casket of money. Lora left in a hurry and went to her house on the east side of Yew.

Throwing down all she was carrying on the floor of her house to ease her aching back, she opened her wardrobe and dragged out a chest. She lifted the lamp on her bedside table and took a key from under it, and opened the old, rusty lock on the chest with it. The chest was empty. She barred her door and put the Mystics into the chest, all except one armour and one sword. Locking the chest, she hid the key in its original hiding place and put the chest in her wardrobe. She lay down to rest, as night was falling, and she was already tired from the run. Removing her tattered and ruined clothes, she helped herself into a smal night dress for the time being, and went to sleep while she could; she knew that the following day would be a long day.

The next day, she did not want to wake up. She had not slept in her own bed for weeks, and did not want to follow the uncomfortable routine all over again. However, duty called. She leapt out of bed and removed her night dress, moving over to the wardrobe for some good enough clothes for adventuring. Unfortunately for her, she only had a dress left, and had no choice but to wear that. A dress was not actually the ideal for her and would limit her movements, but was better than nothing. Wearing the dress, that also seemed rather small, she put on her Mystic Armour and prepared to leave. Fastening a scabbard around her waist, she sheathed her Mystic Sword and put on her empty backpack. Her boots were also ruined, but she did not have any spare boots so she had to walk barefooted. She took the money the herbalist gave her with her, and some more from her own reserves. With that, she went out of her house and made sure to bar everywhere.

Lora went to the Slaughtered Lamb, as she needed rations to take with her. She bought some food and spoke to the tavern owner. "Say, dost thou know where I could find some boots?" she asked the woman behind the counter.

"Um... there probably are some on Britain..." the owner answered, trying to remember the last time she had visited any of the other towns.

"Wait! Some people came here telling me that there is a new man in town."

"A new man?"

"Aye!" a young bard sitting at the table interrupted, "I've met the man myself."

Lora walked over to the handsome young man to listen to more.

"He has a shop southeast of here. Says he's come from a distant land, though I don' really know how much that is true. But I did see something strange that appeared to be foreign."

"What didst thou see?" Lora asked out of curiosity.

"Honestly I have no idea. Looked like nothin' I've seen before. It was magical. 'Nyway, if thou hast need of boots, he might 'ave some."

Lora thanked the bard and went to visit this new inhabitant. Indeed, the young bard was right. There was a new house southeast of the tavern. Peeping in, she saw a strange-looking man, and it showed at once that he was not Britannian. "May Utomo help thee?" he asked kindly with a sincere smile.

"Utomo? Who's Utomo?" she asked. "I be Utomo." he replied, "I come from land far away."

Lora and Utomo spent half an hour chatting, and Lora forgot about her need for boots, until the subject turned onto adventuring and she remembered she needed some. Asking Utomo for a good pair, he brought some pairs from his storeroom. Strangely enough, some of those pairs were green. "What are these?" she asked, pointing at the green boots.

"Those be swamp boots. They prevent swamp from poisoning person."

Lora, in awe, tried a pair. She soon found a good pair that fitted her perfectly, and paid Utomo. Thanking the cordial foreigner, she left his shop and thought of what to do next.

Chapter 8 - To Minoc

Lora knew that she would need a ship to reach Blackthorn's palace. "Hmmm... I may as well get one from Britain," she thought, but remembered that if she did get one from Britain, the voyage by ship would be long, while taking a ship from Minoc would mean to sail north for a short distance before getting to destination. Perhaps, she thought, she might even get a deal from Minoc.

She headed straight east. She knew that the sea blocked the path beyond the rivers, and she thought of taking a short cut by crossing the river. Heading out of Yew, she left the clearing, and reentered the deep, dark shelter of the forest. Although the sun scorched from above, it was damp and cold among the trees.

She soon reached the rivers, and passed from in between the two rivers, since there was a pass where they were nearly connected. The end of one river was only a few feet away from the end of the other. The forest ended beyond the pass between the rivers, and Lora was once again exposed to the heat of the sun. It sure was a hot day, and Lora started to sweat like mad; especially because of her uncomfortable tight dress.

She followed the river to her south, and stopped occasionally to take some air and to wipe the sweat off her forehead. She felt different from her usual adventures, as her feet were finally comfortable. She felt much better, and had more energy.

The river ended at the sea, and Lora would have to swim across where the sea ended and divided into two rivers. Since with her armour and backpack the deep sea was not ideal to swim in, she decided to cross the river where it ended and joined the sea. Removing her armour and putting it in her backpack, she thought that swimming with her dress would be very dangerous. It limited the movement of her feet, which would be crucial in swimming, and it would not be a good idea to wet it. She found some logs around, and made a very small raft out of them. It was barely big enough to carry her backpack. She undressed and packed her dress in her backpack, then loaded it on the raft and pushed it into the river.

Lora dove into the calm waters, pushing the raft along with her. It was a matter of seconds before she reached the opposite bank, but saw that she would have to cross another river quite soon, so she did not dress and carried the whole raft to the next river to the east.

This river was slightly more agitated than the previous one, but did not look threatening. She put the raft with the backpack on the waters, and they moved down the river! Lora swam after it and stopped it, then moved it across the river. Reaching the other side, she left the raft and took her backpack. There was a small wood ahead, as she could see, and she would have to cross it to reach the path that leads to Minoc.

Lora took her time to dry up, and then dressed. She put on her loyal Mystic armour, and proceeded on her journey. The sun was nearly touching the horizon, which meant that she would soon have to set up camp. As she walked through the wood, she felt she was being watched.

She drew her sword and proceeded with caution. From behind the bushes, several wolves revealed themselves. By the way they were drooling and by their exposed and sharpened teeth, Lora could tell they were hungry. Three wolves jumped onto her, as she waved her sword and blood flew onto the trees. Putting down her sword, she reached for her bow and an arrow, and fired at another wolf. She sheathed her sword, and walked backwards, away from the wolves. However, they followed, and she fired her deadly arrows at them. Not long after, Lora set up camp and roasted a wolf for dinner.

The following morning, Lora was rested. A few minutes east, she left the wood. Consulting her map, she could tell that she would have to go east and turn south, only to go east and north after that, before a long walk to Minoc. The map flew out of her hands as the ground started to shake. Parts of the ground ripped apart, and she rolled over before a tree nearly fell on her. The quake died down and she retrieved her map.

Lora walked east, and it started to rain. There was no shelter now. There was nothing left to do but walk in the rain, or else go back to the wood and waste precious time. She opted for the first, and proceeded under the rain. Unlike the previous day, this day was cold, and Lora shivered under her thin dress and cold armour. She soon came to a river to the east, and walked past it to the east until she came to yet another river, after which she turned south.

Once again, the end of the day was nigh, and she walked past the river and set up camp. The night was cold as ever, and Lora could not sleep. It was still raining, and the ground was nearly flooded. She could not even make a campfire to keep warm. Perhaps stopping was a bad idea, and considering she could not sleep anyway, she grabbed her things and proceeded.

Southeast was a pass between the sea and the mountains, known as Kafiristan Pass, and the rain stopped when she reached there. The water was high as her boots. She went past the hills to the east, and then northeast to the grassy plains. Suddenly, Lora found herself with an arrow through her shoulder. An archer had decided to kill her. A second arrow came, but she was ready for it. She dived across and rolled laterally, grabbing her bow. Another arrow came, and missed, and Lora took one of her arrows and fired. The archer had moved, but the arrow was too quick and hit him in the arm. Had he not moved, it would have pierced his heart. He removed the arrow from his arm, as Lora did the same, and fired another arrow. Avoiding all the enemy's successive shots, Lora ran up to him, and, when she was close enough, fired a mortal shot.

Lora tore the bottom part of her dress to bandage her shoulder with it, and at the same time allowed her legs some liberty. It was dawn, and Minoc was not very far away. She would surely arrive by the next day. Being so near, Lora decided to visit the site where Mandrake Root was first found, so she headed northeast.

She arrived at a small swamp after a couple of hours, and walked into the shallow, marshy waters. She thought that searching for mandrake using her hands might get her poisoned, since only her boots protected her from poisoning. Then she also remembered another thing; she could only acquire the root at night! So she recovered her lost sleep near the swamp, and, at night, she went back in to find the mandrake. Although nobody sent her to find mandrake, she thought she could make some money with the precious root. With her sword, she poked into the waters and dug up some roots carefully. Putting them in a bag, she went west past a river, walking in the darkness of the night. Having already slept that day, she could not sleep in the night.

By the next dawn, Lora had walked north to the mountains around Minoc, and could see the town. She lay to rest before approaching the city, and ate some fruit. Next, she got up and went to Minoc.

Chapter 9 - Trading

Minoc was different from how she had remembered it. It had grown and expanded, and there were new people. She did not recognise the place at all, but she followed a road to try to get to the shipwright, and got lost. Puzzled, she stopped and asked a woman how to get there.

"Good day, milady," Lora greeted the stranger.

"Greetings friend. How may I help thee?"

"I seek the way to the shipwright. How may I find him?"

"Thou art heading in the wrong direction, my dear! Thou must head south!"

"Oh, thank thee milady!" Lora gratefully thanked the woman.

"Call me Gwenno, friend."

"Gwenno? A companion of the Avatar?" Lora studied Gwenno's face in awe and astonishment, this expression showing on her face.

"Yes, I helped the Avatar on an occasion when he needed help," Gwenno confided with a look of modesty in her eyes, "But I did not do much, so I do not deserve much praise." She winked.

After spending half an hour in conversation, Lora visited the shipwright. Trebor, the shipwright, would sell a ship for 250 gold crowns. "But I do not have that much!" Lora protested, "And I just want to borrow a ship!"

"To borrow a ship, you still need 250 gold crowns. I need a deposit to ensure my vessel returns whole."

"But 'tis an emergency!" Lora pleaded.

"Yes, yes, they all say that." Trebor mocked.

Lora placed her sword on the counter. "Tell thee what." she explained, "I will leave my precious sword as a deposit, and I will have it back once I bring back thy ship."

"'Tis no deal." Trebor disagreed, "A mere sword is not worth a ship."

"But 'tis no mere sword! This is a Mystic Sword, that the Avatar used in battle!"

"Oh yes, I'm sure." Trebor grabbed an ordinary hammer, and showed it to Lora. "If thy sword was used by the Avatar, then this hammer was used by Lord British! Hah!" His sarcasm irritated Lora.

"Alright!" she shouted, and took her sword. She removed her armour and sat it on the counter. "I will leave this in exchange for the ship! This is Mystic Armour, and was also used by the Avatar!"

Although the shipwright did not believe her, the armour was certainly beautiful and precious. Lined in gold and bearing an ankh, it was worthy of a king. Besides, armour was worth much more than weaponry, so Trebor accepted her offer and handed her a ship's deed. Lora left the building and boarded a ship, and set sail for Blackthorn's Isle.

Lora had no protection at all now, just a thin, tight dress, that she wanted to change as soon as she could. But the remporary sacrifice of her armour was necessary, as she hoped it would be fruitful. By reaching Blackthorn's Isle, she hoped to retrieve all the Mystics, and then return for the final armour she left with Trebor.

Chapter 10 - A Mad Encounter

The winds were generous, and Lora arrived at her destination within a day and a half. Her shoulder still ached, but she ignored her pain and thought of how to deal her revenge unto the inhabitants of the isle. She did not know yet what she would find there, nor how many people she would have to face. She docked the ship, and jumped onto land. Ahead of her she could see tens of sweet rabbits, though they were still far away. Yet they hurried towards her, and she soon realised to her horror that the rabbits were abominations, and they attacked her.

Lora did not want to harm those creatures; although she was from Yew, Compassion still pricked her conscience. Yet she had to defend herself. The rabbits, which were the front half of a rabbit stuck to the front half of another, writhed towards her and leapt at her to bite her flesh off. They were clearly bloodthirsty. Lora drew her Mystic Sword and swung it around as tens of abominations leapt at her. Blood flew everywhere, as she waved her sword at the rabbits, yet they were too many and some managed to bite her. Their long teeth dug deep into her flesh, causing terrible wounds. But soon she had finished with them, and she killed the last of them.

The ground was no longer green; it had now taken a strong shade of crimson, and was being nourished by the blood Lora was losing. She sat down to rest, and proceeded to tear strips of cloth from her long skirt and bandage her many wounds with them. After some time, she saw a man walk out of the castle ahead of her, and drew her sword, walking towards him in a tired but determined fashion. Lora was sure he was part of the group that stole the missing Mystics, and went over to him.

Reaching the man, she pointed the sword to his unsuspecting neck, and yelled at him. "Give me my weapons and armour!" she yelled, pressing the tip of her sword against his neck.

"What art thou talking about?" the wierd man asked.

Lora threw down his sword and put her hands at his neck. "The Mystics! Give them back, thief!"
"What... Mystics? I don't have any Mystics! Weren't they lost?" Although Lora was nearly killing him, the man looked quite calm.

"Don't act stupid! I know that..."

"I'm not stupid! I'm maaaaaad!" the strange man shouted with a most wierd laugh.

"Thy name, fool, so I may know who I will have killed!" Lora was so enraged that she seemed like she was going to really kill him.

"I am Sutek the Mad! Hahaha!" he laughed, "What makes thee think I have thy things?"

Lora showed Sutek the letter she had found on the bandit's body. His eyes lit as he read the note. "How couldst thou fall for this!" he told her, with a serious tone finally, "I know of this Jengar! This letter is a farce to keep thee away from him! Jengar is the leader of a powerful organisation of criminals, and I heard he lives in a cave under Spiritwood." Lora took her hands off him, and sulked. She did not know if to believe him, but decided that probably Sutek was right. She boarded her ship and went in the direction of Skara Brae, to ask where the cave may be.

Chapter 11 - Interrogation

After three days of navigation, Lora arrived on the west bank of Skara Brae, and began to look for people to ask where the cave may be. Going beyond an apparently busy fishermn, not wanting to disturb him for the time being, Lora neared a house in which she could hear faint sobs. She entered, and encountered a beautiful young woman, with azure eyes and golden hair.

"Greetings m'lady. May I know thy name?" Lora told her.

The young woman stood up and approached Lora. "My father chose an ancient word for my name." She started sobbing again, but choked her tears. "It means the cool breeze after a storm has passed. Marney."

"Well met, Marney. What troubles thee?"

"Never mind. May I help thee?"

"Yes actually. I am looking for a cave where someone called Jengar lives. Does anybody here know where I can find it?"

"I do not know of anyone called Jengar, and neither do I know of a cave nearby. Perhaps thou couldst ask around. I will help thee and ask some of the townsfolk here. Oh, you should ask Horance, he knows many things. He lives on an island northwest of here."

Lora thanked Marney, who went south to ask some people. Lora, instead, went west, and apparently the fisherman she had seen before was relaxing, so she decided to ask him. "Greetings."

"Good morning friend." He extended a massive hand that resembled a slab of meat. "What do ya need?"

"I am looking for a cave where a man called Jengar lives."

"I don' know of any cave around here. Sorry."

Lora took her ship and went to Horance's isle. Bats awaited, and she drew her sword as soon as she landed. All of them leapt on her at the same time, and she ended up with a few bites before killing them. She entered Horance's house, which had a mysterious air about it. "Horance, I presume." Lora asked the bent, aging figure before her, who had a scraggly beard and few teeth.

"Thou dost presume right.

I'm the mage Horance.

I deal in good spells,

So do give them a glance."

"Excuse me, but I am looking for a cave, not thy rhymes." She gave him a strange look.

"Alright, alright. Hmph. Nobody appreciates my art. Anyway, what cave is this?"

"The lair of an organisation of bandits and criminals, under the command of someone called Jengar."

"Interesting. Few strange things happened since Quenton's death, so I do not know of a cave or anything of the sort."

"Quenton's death?"

"Yes, he was a good man. Killed by a gargoyle, 'e was." Horance tightens the fist when mentioning the creatures.

"Very well. Thank thee." Lora took her ship back to the main isle of Skara Brae, and met with Marney.

"I've asked Trenton, Gideon and Marta, but nobody knows anything." Marney reported.

"I've asked Yorl and Horance, but nobody knows where the cave is. Horance mentioned the death of a certain Quenton by the hand of a gargoyle, what is this all about?"

Marney started crying, and, in the midst of her tears, she told Lora, "He was my father!" Lora comforted her as she could, but Marney could never stop sobbing completely. It was something moving for Lora, who felt pity for the young woman.

Lora passed the night at Gideon's inn, and, the next day, she went around Skara Brae to see if she missed anyone. Soon enough, she came across a vaporous form - it was a ghost. Lora drew her sword, but sheathed it again when she noticed a human face on the ghost. From what she had heard, she assumed it was Quenton. "Greetings Quenton."

The ghost opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. He limited himself to greeting her with a wave.

"Dost thou know of a cave where a certain Jengar lives?"

QUenton ignored the question, and pretended to drive an inexistent knife into what remained of his chest. He was indicating his murder.

"Thou wert killed by a gargoyle?"

Quenton lifted his hands as if to protect himself, showing that someone or something drove something sharp into him. It could have been a gargoyle's claws. Quenton next played the role of the murderer, and the way he pretended to strike was not the way Lora had seen gargoyles attack. It was the way a man would stab with a knife. From what Lora could understand, Quenton was killed by a man, not a gargoyle, but his wounds were hideous enough to resemble wounds inflicted by a gargoyle.

"Who killed thee?"

Quenton leaned back on a wall, and pretended to be using a knife to clean what remained of his nails. Next he got off the wall and pointed east. Thanking him, Lora went to inform Marney of her findings.

"Marney, thy father was not killed by a gargoyle. It was a member of the criminals I am hunting that deprived you of your father."

"What? How is it possible?"

"I met thy father. He indicated that the murderer lives east of here, and plays with a knife, so I can find him if I see him."

"I beg thee Lora, avenge my father!" Marney cried again. "Find the murderer and kill him, or bring him to Justice!"

"I will, Marney."

The next day, Lora met Quenton again. She pleaded him to tell her the location of the cave she was looking for. Quenton tapped on a tree, and then indicated a large circle with his hands, indicating that it would be in a forest. Quenton pointed to the middle of the circle, then pointed east. Lora understood that the cave must be in the middle of Spiritwood. Thanking him, she called Marney to meet what remained of her father, and Lora was more moved than ever, seeing Marney, who had long missed her father, finally embrace him.

Going out of Skara Brae from the east, Lora came across a house. There was no one there, but she suspected it must be of the murderer. She went on east, to the forest of Spiritwood once again.

Chapter 12 - Stealthy Assault

Under the blazing sun, the road east seemed to never end. Lora stopped to think, as her rage had clouded her reason. She cursed as she remembered that Spiritwood was to the south, and headed there, leaving the road. Suddenly, a screech echoed in the air. She looked around, but the land was still. She lifted her head, but was put off by the sun. She felt a blow on her back, and was forced to fall forwards. As she looked up, she saw a winged humanoid soaring, and it came back towards her.

It was a harpy, with claws sharp as a newly-whetted stone, and although it was a winged deformity of a human, its face still bore feminine beauty. Again it charged, and Lora rolled over to avoid it. Getting up, she pulled out her Mystic Sword. As the harpy attacked again, Lora slashed at it with her sword, but the agile creature flew past it. This time, it flew towards Spiritwood slowly. Lora thought that following it might bring her to the cave, so she went after it. The harpy travelled slowly to allow Lora to keep up with it, and, within a couple of hours, they were in Spiritwood. The harpy landed on a large evergreen tree, and stayed there for a few seconds.

Lora did not realise the trap. From the harpy nest in the evergreen, another three younger harpies descended and attacked Lora. These three bore a certain resemblance to the first, especially in their facial features. They were just as attractive, and, if properly disguised, they might lead any man into their trap. One of them attacked Lora from the side, and she sidestepped to avoid it. But at the same time, the elder harpy came from behind, and knocked Lora to the ground. The other two attacked simultaneously from opposite sides, and Lora dove out of the way so that they came together with a crash. Another attack from the other two prevented her from killing them, so they got up and charged again.

Four harpies were too many, and although she avoided the first two, another pinched her sword, scratching her hand with its claws at the same time. As the fourth attacked, she grabbed onto its leg, and was lifted into the air with it. Lora grabbed its neck, as the harpy tried to elbow Lora off. She noticed another harpy coming towards her with her own sword when it was nearly too late. She let go of the harpy and fell into the harpy nest, and as the harpy she was on turned round, the Mystic Sword ran through its breast.

Lora had come on soft landing, and when she opened her eyes after the fall, she found herself on a man. This man was full of blood - his side was ripped, and claw marks ran down his neck. She backed away in disgust, and fell out of the nest just when the harpy with the sword was coming towards her; instead it ran the sword through the already dead victim. The other two harpies came at Lora from the same direction, and she looked for something to hit them with as they came. Meanwhile, the dead harpy fell onto the nest, and toppled it all on the other two harpies as they flew towards Lora.

The best she could find was a stick, but she found a good sturdy one, and kept it ready as all three harpies came at her. When they reached her, she dove onto the floor, and, when they had passed, threw the stick at them. It hit one of them on the head, and that harpy crashed into a tree. Lora jumped onto it and caught hold of its neck, immobising it. As the other two attacked, she lifted the harpy, stretched its hands, and threw it at them. This way, its own claws killed them, and the Mystic Sword flew into a tree. She retrieved it, and proceeded to find the middle of Spiritwood.

She only found it two days later, and the entrance was a hidden stairway behind a tree. She crept in, and followed a narrow corridor. At its end, she could see two guards playing chess. Crawling up to them, she went under the table over which they were playing, and drove her sword into their stomach. Beyond the guard outpost, a door was straight ahead, and the corridor divided into two around it. She picked the left, and the corridor was lined with doors. Continuing, she soon came to a door at the end of the corridor, which led to a large room. The room was empty, but there was a door at the other end.

Sneaking in, she found another two guards guarding another room, which was barred like a jail. Lora ran at them and got locked into combat with both. However, they were dead before they could call for reinforcements. One of them had the key to the next room. As she opened the gate, she gasped. "The vault!" It was full of riches, but what stood out most were the Mystics themselves. She found all the sets that were missing. This time she could not afford to take only as much as she could carry, as she might never see them again. So she loaded all of them onto her, and crept out like a snail, loaded with their weight.

The Mystics sets made some noise, although very little, as Lora struggled to get them outside before anyone could notice. Soon she saw a ray of light, and she knew then that the entrance was near. However, footsteps approached, and she soon found a number of people on her.

"Ah, now even worms come to take our things!" a woman mocked.

"Those are not thine!" Lora retorted, and wore Mystic Armour.

"Then why were they in our hold?" A man continued the mockery.

Lora put on an air of sarcasm. "That is what I should ask you!" she yelled, and all of them attacked.

More than ten people were attacking Lora. It was like a legion of swordsmen advancing, with swords pointed out, and some of them had shields to block any possible self defence from Lora. She threw down the extra Mystics near the entrance, and walked towards her attackers. She was enraged, and gripped the sword firmly. Then, in an outburst of fury, she ran at them and swung the Mystic Sword with all her might. A shield broke with the impact, and the person bearing it was killed.

A myriad of swords pushed at her, and she waved the sword left and right continuously to block them. She was so fast and strong in her blows, that half of the swords moving towards her ended up in pieces. Some withdrew by a few steps, but Lora attacked on. It was as if the sword she was wielding gave her power. Although they greatly outnumbered her, the criminals could not stop her. Man after man, woman after woman fell to her revenge, and to that of the Mystic Sword.

When the battle was over, several broken bodies lay on the floor. Lora had still conceded some injuries, but her vital organs, which were protected by the Mystic Armour, were untouched. She had taken some cuts on her arms and legs, and a couple on her head, but nothing serious. Lora was exhausted, but her rage gave her the strength to finish what she came for. As she picked up the Mystics and left, a thought passed through her mind. She had killed abut ten bandits, but surely Jengar, the murderer and several others were still alive. For now, she planned to take the Mystics safe in her home. Then, she would make it her duty to eliminate the criminals. With that, she went to her ship, and set sail for Yew.

Chapter 13 - Back Home

Arriving back in Yew, Lora's home town, she gladly savoured her victory. She now had the Mystics, and could dedicate herself to eliminating whatever organisation was trying to commit crime unpunished. Lora made five voyages from her ship to her home to get all the Mystics safely locked at her home. But as she gathered things for a sixth and last journey, she found a set of Mystic Armour missing. Swearing, she searched in a frenzy, hoping that nobody had sneaked into her ship and nicked the precious armour.

Lora gave a sigh of relief as a thought passed through her head. She had left the armour at the shipwright in Minoc, that arrogant weasel who would make her go on an extra voyage just to get back what was hers. Besides, she would have to walk it back home.

Knowing that the armour was safe with him, Lora relaxed for the time being. She had achieved what she wanted to achieve, and now there was no emergency and no need to rush to go back for the Mystic Armour. But what if the fool sold the armour to get his money back? No, she thought, he wants his ship back. Then she remembered something else - the criminal organisation had already made a victim back on Skara Brae. The longer she takes to hunt them down, the more victims they will make. For now, though, Lora wanted only her long deserved rest, and a break from those clothes she had not washed from ages.

Lora took off her clothes and sought for something else to wear. But her wardrobe was empty. She slammed the door of the wardrobe in frustration, and put back her old, stinking clothes. Desperate for a break, she ran north to the sea, where she enjoyed a swim for the first time in a long time. She enjoyed herself while it lasted, because she planned to go to Minoc already the next day.

She woke up on the morrow very late, and in a very comfortable position. It was long since she had last slept in a bed, and now it was time to depart again. Locking up the Mystics well, Lora took just Mystic Armour and a Mystic Sword and boarded her ship, setting sail for Minoc.

Chapter 14 - The Ship and the Armour

Lora placed her deed on the shipwright's counter and held out her hands for her armour. "Um... I think thou art here to have thine armour back."

"In fact." Lora muttered nervously.

"Oh, yes, that. The armour. Nice armour, it was. Thou seest, a chap dropped by here and..."

"I don't have time for stories, Trebor! Give me the armour." Lora pressured.

"I'm afraid thou'lt have to listen. A strong man came by and asked if I had any particular-looking armour and..."

Lora got very angry. "Someone else has my armour?" She shouted, intimidating the shipwright.

"Yes, thou seest, he forced me and I--"

"Why did you tell him you have my armour?"

"I don't know... I thought he was investigating something or carrying out some research about different armours or something to that effect and..."

"Damn idiot!" Lora furiously snapped at Trebor, punching him straight in the nose and throwing him onto a wall. She picked him up from the shirt and pushed him firmly on the wall. "That was the bloody Mystic Armour, thou fool!" she yelled at the frightened shipwright, who, in this temper, believed her this time. "I have been after that armour for ages!"

"Then I... I guess thou art one of those crim... people after that armour just like the chap who took it..."

"No, I'm taking the Mystics to avoid disasters from such people, thou fool, and thou just gave it to him!"

"NO! He forced me! He put a knife at my throat! What dost thou want me to do, play the hero and have my throat slit?"

"Thou shouldst not have told him in the first place! He couldn't know thou hath it! He was seeing who had it. If thou didst not tell him..."

"All right! I think it is useless to keep arguing over this! If thou art doing good, then do not act like that man and hurt me! All I can do to remedy the situation is tell thee where he is going."

"He told thee where he would be going?"

"No, but I saw the direction in which he was going."

Lora put him down. "I bet he is directed..."


"Thank thee."

"Er... since I no longer have thy deposit, I believe this entitles thee to keep thy ship. But please do return it if thou dost find thy armour."

Lora took the deed from the counter and made her way to the door. "Indeed."

It was clear to Lora that the thief was going to deliver the armour to Jengar. He had given Lora a further worry by forcing Trebor to sell him the armour, so she now had to anticipate him before he gets to the cave. She ran to the ship and set sail for Skara Brae, from where she would run to Spiritwood, to get there before her enemy.

Chapter 15 - Confrontation with the Criminal

Although the unknown criminal had more than a day's advantage over Lora while heading to the base at Spiritwood, Lora had an even better advantage - she was travelling by ship. Before departing from Minoc, she lay a map of Britannia on a table in the ship and calculated how long it would take for her and Michael each to get to Spiritwood. She concluded that the point of their intersection would be a little east of Dungeon Shame, if she left the ship at the river and met him on land.

Four days later, she arrived at the river leading to Shame. She left the ship there, taking her set of Mystics with her, and walked east to encounter the villain at the planes north of Britain. Night was falling when a stranger finally showed up, with a shining white armour lined in gold. Lora drew her sword and approached him.

"Greetings." she told him, to stop him and catch his attention.

"I have no time; I have important b--" he hesitated when noticing Lora's mystic armour and sword, "business to attend to."

Lora lifted her sword threateningly. "I'm sure thou hast time for a short conversation."

The man, young and strong, drew a glittering sword, with a jewelled hilt. "I see no point in continuing to hide this. Thou art after the Mystics just as I am. It matters not, because thou wilt soon be dead!" With this, he swung his sword at Lora, who was quick to parry the blow. He swung again and again, and Lora, on the defensive, kept parrying.

Finally, when a swing was directed at her neck, she ducked and kicked at his legs, tripping him. He rolled backwards and came back on his feet. This time, she thrust her sword at him, and he was forced to defend. At one point, she brought down her Mystic Sword on his sword with all her might, and the impact broke his blade in two. The residual force of the attack came down on his shoulder, wounding him well enough.

Seeing him at her mercy, Lora placed the tip of her sword at his neck and demanded the mystic armour. He promptly removed the armour and threw it on the ground, to avoid further consequences. She then asked of his identity and those he works for. "That is confidential information." he answered, "But I will tell thee that my name is Michael." Lora tied his arms and bandaged his wound lightly. "If thou wilt not tell me everything," she told him, "then thou wilt have to face the Court of Yew.

She led him onto her ship, taking all Mystic armour with her, and locked him in one of the ship's cabins. Now that she had found the missing armour, she was meant to give the ship back to Trebor. However, she decided to do that later, as the ship was still needed - she needed it to take her to Spiritwood quickly so that she could destroy the criminal base once and for all. With that, she sailed south.

Chapter 16 - Base Raid

When arriving at the coast near Spiritwood by ship, Lora took care that Michael was locked up well without any means of escape. She left some food with him, as she did not know for how much time she would be away from the ship. She wore her Mystic Armour and strapped the scabbard of her Mystic Sword around her waist, sheathing the sword immediately after.

She anchored the ship near the coast. Tearing at her clothes for comfort, she jumped off the ship and dived into the sea. The coast was near, and she swam to it. She spent a whole day trying to find where the entrance to the criminal base was, and found it the next day at noon. She found it thanks to the two guards at the entrance, who were more visible than the entrance itself. She peered at them through the bushes, and crept behind them.

From behind, she punched the guard on her right, throwing him on the floor, and killed the other one with her sword. The guard on the floor sprang up and charged with his sword, but Lora moved away and he drove it into a tree. Since he couldn't take the time to pull it out, he grabbed the first stick he found and went to attack Lora with it. She would not be intimidated by such petty weaponry, and sliced him in half as soon as he approached.

This time, she decided to give up with stealth. The criminals were definately waiting for her return, and it would not take them long to realise she had infiltrated their base again. When entering, she noticed that the floor was still stained with the blood of those she had killed in her first assault. At the end of the corridor, she could see the chessboard on the table like last time, and two guards playing at it, but also another two facing the entrance. Their leader had obviously decided to double the guards. These latter two guards spotted Lora, and while one guard ran to alert the other residents of the base, the other three attacked her.

One of the guards was dressed in a full suit of plate mail, just like a paladin, and bore a two-handed sword. The other wore chain mail and came with a large sword in one hand as well as a sturdy shield in the other. The last wore a mixture of scale, chain and plate armour and wielded a two-handed hammer. The paladin attacked first, and when she parried his sword, the guard in chain mail thrust his sword and she was forced to back away quickly. Their attacks were close in timing, and she had to be careful.

As she dodged the hammer, she parried another blow from the two-handed sword and moved aside to avoid the other rogue's sword. While the one with the hammer was struggling to lift it, she buried her sword in his intestines. In this moment, the fourth guard, who had gone to alert the other criminals, came back with a crossbow and a reinforcement of two guards. The guard with the one-handed sword swung his sword, and as she ducked to avoid it, the two-handed sword fell upon her, to be blocked by her own sword. She immediately kicked the paladin away and chopped off the other guard's head. The two new guards came upon her, just as she dived aside to avoid a crossbow bolt. She came face to face with the paladin again, and as he attacked with his two-handed sword, she dodged it and killed him as well while his sword was still swinging.

Another crossbow bolt was fired and she somersaulted backwards to escape it. The other two guards came at her each with leather armour, a shield and a sword. She finally thrust her sword, but it was parried by a shield. When she hit that shield again in another blow, it fell apart, and the arm bearing it was cut off. That guard could not fight with the pain from his severed arm, and backed away. The final guard's sword and Lora's Mystic Sword clashed and they moved in all directions during the skirmish. When another crossbow bolt was fired, it accidentally hit the guard fighting Lora, who was in its way. He did not die immediately, but as he turned around to see who interfered in the duel, Lora hacked him down.

The guard who lost his arm had gone back in the depths of the base, while the one with the crossbow fired a final bolt, missing again, and followed. Lora picked up a shield from one of the fallen guards and ran inside. Again, she came upon the door ahead of her and two corridors around it. She opened the door in front of her, and was faced with a surprise of about ten fighters. She slammed the door, stunning one of them. The rest broke out and attacked. She ran back to feign a retreat, but picked up a sword and threw it at them, killing one.

All the remaining guards from the room came after her, and she took them on all at once. When she started conceding arm and leg injuries after killing only two, she thought it wasn't a good idea, and headed outside. She ran behind the bushes and hid there, while the rest came out of the base with two archers reinforcing them. While they were busy looking for her and discussing whether she had escaped or not, she crept back into the base and took the right corridor. The guard with the crossbow was there, along with another comrade of his who had a bow. They shot at her, but she blocked the arrow with her shield and dodged the bolt. She ran at them, and slew the guard with the bow while the other fired another bolt to distract her and escaped through a door at the end of the corridor.

The large party she had faced before had come back, and was checking every place for her. Six of them came to the corridor where she was. Quickly, she took the bow on the floor, put the quiver full of arrows on her shoulder, and shot five arrows all at once. Two of them died, while the others came quickly before she could shoot again. Arming her sword again, she attacked them, and once again she felt the power of the Mystic Sword driving her tired arm. A sword broke, and the person holding it went away quickly to get a new weapon. While she was fighting, the guard with the crossbow opened the door slightly and aimed at Lora. She did not notice him, and he shot in her back. The bolt bounced off her Mystic Armour, although she did feel it hitting her, and was thrown forwards into the fighters. Two of them fell, and her sword killed one of them during the impact. She rolled to a side to avoid the sword of the guard still standing, and killed the one on the floor before he could get up. Knowing he had no chance alone, the remaining guard started running, but Lora picked up the bow and shot him down.

Finally, she ran into the door where the guard with the crossbow had fled. There, she found another three guards, whom she shot down using the bow. There was another door at the other side of the room, and she went there. Just as she opened the door, a bolt struck it before she entered the next room. She heard footsteps running away. The way opened to a corridor which bent to the right, where eight archers were waiting for her in front of a door. She expected such a trap, and peered by the wall before stepping there. Just as she pulled her head back, eight arrows hit the wall to her left. She readied her bow, as this would be a ranged battle.

But she did not have many arrows. She peered and moved back again, and they shot again. She did this to make them waste arrows. Quickly, she leaned over and shot an arrow, but it missed, and she hid back behind the wall. She thought it would be better to find something better to fight with, and went back to the corridor. There were two doors to the right there, and she opened the one at the end. Four torches adorned the walls, and there were two powder kegs in a corner. She grabbed a keg and a torch, and went back to the corridor where the archers were still awaiting her. Before they noticed her, she rolled the powder keg towards them, and when it was near them, she treated an arrow with the torch's flame and shot at the keg. There was an explosion, and although only a couple of the archers were killed, it gave her time.

Lora sprinted towards them, and while they were still coughing with the smoke, she cut them down one by one. She took their supply of arrows in case she would need them, and proceeded into the next room.

In this room, a glowing man was the first thing she noticed. When her eyes settled, she realised that there were actually three people, with one sitting on a wooden throne in a full suit of magic armour and bearing a hammer she had never seen before. A woman in light leather armour stood beside him, while a robust man with a large scar on his left arm was talking to the man on the throne.

The man sitting on the throne promptly stood up when noticing Lora's presence, and all eyes were turned to her. Lora put her bow to rest by a wall and took two steps forward. "Greetings, stranger." said the woman, "We received... 'word' of thy arrival here. This is Jengar." She indicated the man in magic armour, who raised his mighty hammer, which glowed as much as his armour. "This hammer," Jengar boasted, "is a hammer of our creation. It is a Juggernaut Hammer. We've already started making these hammers and they will make us really powerful! We won't even need thy petty Mystic Sword."

The other man chuckled excitedly, waiting to see the weapon in action. "This hammer is a prototype," Jengar continued, "and I am in need to test it. Shall we quit this useless talking and get down to business?" Lora drew her sword and raised it at eye level.

"As thou doth want." she said softly, and walked slowly towards Jengar. His guards walked towards Lora, while Jengar did not move. "Art thou cowering, Jengar?" Lora challenged when she saw that he did not come to attack her, knowing two-handed hammers to be melee weapons. Jengar laughed deeply and arrogantly, while his two comrades attacked Lora. The woman had a glass sword in her hand, with a two-handed sword strapped on her back for later use, while the man started with a two-handed sword.

Concentrating on these two foes, Lora remembered that a glass sword will instantly kill anyone it hits, so she was very careful. Something hit her face and threw her against a wall! She did not notice at first since she was totally concentrated on Jengar's two bodyguards, but when she opened her eyes, she saw a hammer flying into Jengar's hands. "What trickery is this?" she complained. Jengar roared with laughter. As Lora wiped the blood from her mouth, the male bodyguard came upon her. She slashed at him, but he was quick to avoid and parry her blows and thrust his sword at her. She, too, was quick and dived aside while his sword hit the wall. The woman came behind her, so Lora rolled back under her legs and kicked her forward. Jengar moved towards Lora and let his hammer fly again.

Lora dived away, but the hammer still hit her. This time, though, it hit her armour and only hurt her a little. The other man quickly came and tried to cut her throat, but she ducked and made a hole in his stomach. As he fell and died, Jengar and the other bodyguard watched in horror. "Quick Helen, we must kill her!" Jengar shouted. Helen moved towards Lora and drove the glass sword at her. As Lora moved away, the glass sword shattered against the wall, and Lora quickly killed her while she was unarmed.

Jengar was horrified. He was alone against Lora. Or at least, he thought he was alone. The guard with the crossbow was hiding behind the door, and fired at her head. While she walked towards Jengar, the bolt just ran through her hair and missed her head by half an inch. Noticing him, she walked towards him and cut his head off.

While her back was turned, Jengar threw his hammer at Lora and sent her into the wall again. When she got up again, the hammer came back. She received a worthy beating, and her blood stained the floor. But just as he threw his hammer again, she threw her sword in his head, and while it was too quick for him to dodge, he had nothing with which to block it.

Lora stripped off her useless clothes and wore Jengar's full suit of magic armour, though using the Mystic Armour for her body. She took his Juggernaut Hammer with her, and headed out. Before she left, she dropped by the room with one keg left. The room beside it was full of gunpowder kegs, and she carried them all to the entrance. As she left the base, she left a trail of gunpowder, and lit it with a torch when she was far enough. She ran at her fastest and dived onto the ground, as a huge explosion shook the forest. Birds flew away, a few trees fell, the ceiling of the base fell and it was sealed for good.

Chapter 17 - The Rune of Justice

Back in Yew, Lora proceeded to return to her home, while leaving Michael still locked up at the ship. Now that she had recovered the Mystics and destroyed the criminal organisation, she no longer needed to wear the Mystic Armour or carry the Mystic Sword. However, she refrained from removing the armour because she had nothing else to wear.

After checking that all the other Mystic sets were still in place and leaving the sword with them, Lora walked to the office of Lenora, who took care of the system of justice at the time. Once there, Lora told her of everything she was put through lately, and made sure to tell her about the criminal organisation as well as her prisoner, who should be tried by the Court of Yew.

Going out of the office, Lora saw a tall figure, whom she had never seen before, go into the jail. He was tall and handsome, with a red cloak following his every step, as did his three companions. Just as he disappeared into the jail, Lora realised that she found him attractive. Utomo, who was running around town at the time, went beside her. "He be mighty fellow, be not he?" he told her.

She nodded silently.

"He be Avatar." he informed her.

She looked incredulously at Utomo's face. "What?"


If he was really the Avatar, he would need the Mystics in his quest. Lora did not want to part with the weapons and armour for which she troubled so much, so she hid and waited for his next move. After a while, the man came out of the jail, and pointed at the Slaughtered Lamb to show a companion their next destination. And indeed, they went into the pub. Lora remained hiding, while thinking to herself whether she should give the Mystics to the Avatar or keep them herself.

The Avatar might need his weapons if he is on an important quest, she thought. But she went through so much trouble to acquire those weapons. "Well, maybe he isn't the Avatar after all." she thought, in order to keep the weapons and hide from herself that she had fallen to one of the eight sins of Britannia - Covetous.

The man whom Utomo signalled as the Avatar came out of the Slaughtered Lamb just a minute later with the Rune of Justice in his hand. "It must be really him." she thought to herself, knowing that the Avatar was known to collect the Runes in the past. With the prized Rune in his hand, the Avatar left the town of Yew, and Lora came out of hiding. Utomo came upon her again. "He really be Avatar." he told her. "He come to my shop before and buy swamp boots. Then we talk for some time and he tell me he be Avatar. He good man." She nodded again, ashamed at having failed to give him what is his by right.

She returned to the ship with a dropped head, to bring Michael to the Court of Yew. When she opened the cabin where he was locked, she found it to be completely empty. Cursing, she went back to Lenora. "The Court will have to wait." Lora told her, "He escaped."

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