Legends of Krystallia (from Darkmoon's point of view)

"Throughout my travels with my comrades and friends, I've seen a dragon, helped defeat a vicious, legendary Storm Beast, traveled with a Duke and a Prince, spoken with and fought alongside elves and dwarves, sailed across the inland sea, slept in two (!) castles, seen death's face, and danced, laughed, and fought my way right up to castle doors and rode into the great hall of Duke Gordona's castle at Kapperstone on my brave, beloved pony, Treynor.

"There was also my stay at Aelfheim (pixie wings are rather neat...hmm), the ferocious draconis minor of Lagreth, travelling with a Princess across the country, seeing the Great Capital City, defeating --- see these three teeth --- the chaos-spawned Night Beast, the mysterious matter of the Elven warship-turned-amulet named Skidbladnir, and my inheritance of the Valorous, Brave, and Noble Illia's magical, God-given Axe (also inheriting Illia's sworn enemy --- a terrifying creature). Whew. There were a few other things, but those were the important parts. *giggle* And the sailors. *sigh* And Samalander.

"After that things took a turn for the darker. The Axe was too heavy to use, and all sorts of unnatural creatures are popping up over the land (stupid, stupid rat creatures!). Perhaps it was just that stay in Rodez or the wicked storm that struck the city. I swear on my sword never to let anyone talk me into playing the bait for anyone without New Moon. Aside from that... Oh, aye, how could I forget Captain Keller (formerly Bloodsword) and Darius and the airship! Melony's taken to haunting the engine room (kinda like Darius); she's nice and all, but can't she just come out and make sense? What's the worst part? Tiram just keeps coming back! Prayers and a few candles to the gods if they can keep us (airship, Skidbladnir, crystals, and all) one step ahead of Terrel's dark brother.

"Prince Briant certainly isn't acting for the best o' the kingdom. He tried to sell out Sandsedge to those sand-loving demon-summoning Samarans. We managed to nix his plans one good (there was dirt in the airship's hold for weeks after that), but they still got the city...what was left of it. Don't ask. Oh, and that rat Baron Tulane met his end at the edge of the sword of Light. Huzzah! Oh, Sam's gone and joined the Lancers! Brave boy, but I hope we don't have to fight him. We ARE still outlaws (and that still hurts). Speaking of home, would you believe those arrogant hill-folk tried to ahnix...annes...uh, Perrin knows the word...take over New Haven?! What gall! What disrespect for the kingdom! What gods-blessed luck I was courageous enough to beat their leader in a one-on-one battle WITHOUT weapons! No swords! Hey, that Orson guy's weird but he knows things...and what's the crystal of courage doing to me?

"Uh, anyway. Disaster seems to follow us like a moon on the horizon. First, the airship, which Melony said was being worn to the woof from such sudden use after so long, was damaged and we had to travel by horse to Kapperstone. Valias takes off in the middle of the night for Aelfheim (which was in some danger...?) and met up with the elven Prince, who told us that Kapperstone was taken over (I'm still confused about the whole thing). There was a scuffle about who was loyal to whom, and who was taken captive, and who rescued who, but in the end we stood victorious over the ruins of that odd crystal engine (I've got a piece of it in my pouch!) and no few bodies (no more Cervantes, thanks to Terrel). Duke Gordona even joined in the fun. Question of the hour is what Yurei's up to with Valias. Elves the same as Dark Elves --- it doesn't make sense!

"Somehow, Keller's crew repaired the airship enough to get it to Kapperstone --- didn't that surprise Duke Gordona! 'Is that thing yours?' --- but they needed a blacksmith to fix it properly. We made our way to Aelfheim to bear the Duke's news and thanks, but before we left the Duke gifted me with brand new half plate armor! I couldn't wait to try it out! The elven home was in a dire Situation because of the orc-goblin army to the north. Perrin cast a mighty spell to change the tiny tree (with a silver arrow in it) into the Starlight crystal and used it to scry out danger to the Prince's army. We rode magical elven steeds that ran like the wind to warn Kalis by the river. He was very angry and wouldn't leave, so we set out to stop the orcish army all by ourselves.

"As we picked our way through the mountains (grump, grump), this funny fog surrounded us. Perrin said there was some danger, so we stood back to back, weapons out, ready for trouble --- boy did it find us! Invisible slashing claws from the mist! We (blush) fled, and it knocked down half the mountain after us. Perrin's magic thingy saved us (grump, if I were older, I could have climbed faster), and we did battle with the fabled Gale Beast. Terrel picked up the crystal from the Beast's heart. Then we found that odd cave with pretty carvings and an old elf, who Valias said was Allonan, founder of the bladesingers (which doesn't make sense cuz that was a long time ago). At least we could rest before we set out for the Fire's Eye peak, and Perrin set Terrel's bow with the Gale Beast's heart.

"Fire's Eye was one of those times when things turned out far worse than we planned. I guess avalanches do that. Perrin blasted down half the mountainside and got buried (but he wasn't even hurt because of his magic). Then the ground beneath us started shaking, and everyone scattered! We almost got crushed by a huge rock, and things got dizzying and painful for a while. When I woke, I set out to find the others, and who should I run into but Gregar!! I thought I was ready to wield the Axe in Illia's name, but the fight went badly. If Terrel hadn't found us, Gregar would have completed the job of cutting me in half. 'I don't wanna die like this' --- feh, what a cowardly thing to say! Things were dizzying and painful, again, but I think we regrouped and fled (having stopped the army from ambushing the Prince). The elven King, who was recovering from his injury at the front, thanked us and even shook all of our hands, which would have been nice, but I wasn't paying attention.

"Who should be in Aelfheim but our dear, old, grumpy friend Schplit! He came back with us to Kapperstone to help fix the airship. Valias said I was very brave, and that being scared was okay, and that he and Terrel and Kai'd help me grow up like Father always said I should. As soon as Schplit and Melony (and whoever else they conscripted to help) fixed the airship, we'd set out for that tomb in Dharm Allonan said we should visit. We just never stay put and always find more trouble to stick our swords into.

"Valias' idea of teaching me to fight is throwing pine cones. Perrin's idea of helping is casting slow spells on me. (grump) We all got a few extra hours of sleep from staying in the enchanted forest-with-no-name, got to stay a few nights with the ever-congenial innkeepers, and then got to the business of tracking down the Tomb of Istral. Gracious gods, the entire town was filled with people drearier than old Cob the chicken keeper! Okay, maybe they had to live with bad weather and spooky ghosts all their lives. Maybe it was the Tomb, which was at first exciting in an undead way. Then who should be crawling around the Tomb (literally, in the walls) but Perrin's old mentor, Koran. Luckily, he wasn't upset when Perrin belted him a good one right on the jaw. Good thing he showed up cuz Faston dropped by and set some kind of demon chaos creature on us! I guess I need to practice more so I can do better in battle --- but Koran pulled a fine trick with Kai's Sword of Light and saved us all! He offhandedly mentioned that he was Kronis, the one who started it all way back then. He is either senile or we're in for a whole lot more trouble. (These ancient heroes are very well-preserved...makes me wonder who else is around.) Seems we've a choice at hand: fix the 'Prince' Briant thing or scramble to make sure Faston doesn't get more crystals. Either way, it spells trouble for the kingdom.

"It was a simple enough plan: Vizir and Kronis scout out Krystallon and we scout out Isrenstein and Aesir. We didn't know about Aesir being under military law for so long, or that no one was talking, or that everyone was being whitewashed. I tried to find the Lancers and see if Sam had joined them, but the dung-brained mud-turtles wouldn't even let me near the castle! With all the talk about civil war, the Dark Army, and Istrall the necromancer, I do miss New Haven and Sam. Perrin wanted to sneak into the castle and worm out the truth about Briant and the odd Samaran priest with him, but something went wrong and he got caught. The rest of us snuck into the castle (with the help of a very uncomfortable shadowy spell, I might add), and found the place deserted. I'd rather not talk about the dead mana conduit in the room of dried blood.

"Valias, Terrel, and I ended up in the chapel (and Kai outside), where everything had begun almost a year ago, and found Perrin, chained to a cross hung 30 feet in the air and...Briant. Briant, who moved with unnatural speed, Briant who bled black blood, Briant, who was another incarnation of the Hell Beast! We four fought well, attacking in pairs and pulling off some really great moves. We ruined its Briant-skin and made it turn back into a pitch black demon, and then we killed him. Perrin was, thankfully, alive. Then the odd Samaran priest showed up...with the face of a girl and the voice of a king, she declared herself Law. She said she was only trying to restore order by helping the not-Brian, and said we now held the city. And left. Are we done? Did we save the kingdom?

"Well, we saved Aesir for politics to slow things down. Those crazy Samarans took Sandsedge from the not-Briant, and they're not giving it back. I don't understand why; I mean, Briant wasn't the Prince, so any deals he made weren't official. Of course, I always fell asleep at the town meetings, so what do I know? The four of us (Valias rushed off to Illial Point for something he thought was important and got us a picture of Woden's device) helped Duke Talasar set the city to rights for the Princess' arrival. We also got word by a badly injured Lancer that the rumors were true: some Lancer legions had turned to the Dark Army when faced with not-Briant's actions! The enemy of my enemy, so I suppose. I...do hope Sam is safe. The Dark Army was also apparently excavating something (the True Gold? Woden's device?) very important. We welcomed the airship and the Princess to a city well under control, and she named us Guardians of the Realm! Just wait til they hear this back home! Princess Astra had the city in her hand, so we flew off to investigate the Dark Army's actions. Vizier and Kronis should have returned by then, but we couldn't wait (and they can take care of themselves cuz they don't find trouble as much as we do).

"We arrived at an apparently abandoned mine a-top a plateau. The Dark Army was sneaky, though, and were just hiding in the woods, waiting for us to get off! Tirram almost had us --- boy, he's smart! Still, we would have escaped if there hadn't been that other airship cloaked in Yurei's shadows. Just as it looked like we'd actually make it, the Earth started shaking and the whole plateau collapsed, burying Terrel, Kai, and Tirram! Maybe someone cast a spell and it went wrong; all I know is my crystal started glowing, and all hell broke loose. Keller limped the ship away to safety a valley away. The airship suffered heavy damages from the fight and lost four men, so Perrin and Valias and I set off to rescue Terrel and Kai, and maybe take a few peices out of Tirram (who should have known better than to think he could capture us!). So, it's off to explore the crevace and hopefully leave with our tails intact and the Dark Army thwarted.

"The plan was that we'd sneak to the plateau, rescue our comrades (if they needed it), and run like hell back to the airship. Maybe we should have known the area was heavily patroled, then the lot of troopers wouldn't have ended up chasing us down the river. We were about to get away when we ran into some Lancers (who, as you recall, might or might not have been on our side). There was some confusion and scuffling, and I ended up crossing weapons with (and thoroughly cursing out) none other than...Sam! I don't know who was more surprised! Apparently, hell-beast Briant had ordered them to assist Duke (title was news to us!) Tirram's army. Some companies had gotten edgy and made a break for it. Sam's group ended up getting trapped on a ridge without the man-power to make a break across the ridge for Earl Deridge's troops. Their ranking officer had died the first night, so that left Sam in charge! He did well --- they all did well for being so young in such a situation. Ah, I'm so proud of him, but his calling me Luna isn't exactly helping maintain my fierce warrior reputation --- soon the rest of 'em will be calling me Loonie, especially Perrin.

"We camped with the Lancers (who always carry their lances) and I explained everything that had happened so far. Then Valias and Perrin explained what had happened so far (since no one understood my version --- not even Sam). By New Moon, it really was great to catch up with Sam! Anyway, a Lancer showed us a way to the plateau; unfortunately, there was an enemy camp between us and it. See, normally I'd be the one to suggest we run right through the camp---but I didn't. Valias did, and with Perrin's illusion spell, that's just what we did. We almost made it, too, if Yurei hadn't spoiled Perrin's illusions. Some rather incredible elven scuffling ensued. In the spirit of the fight, Perrin and I blasted and charged the approaching troopers (um, respic..respec...uh, Perrin blasted and I charged). Then Valias and Yurei took it to the trees, and we had to follow cuz some archers had joined the fray and liked hitting Perrin.

"We fled to the remains of the plateau, where Valias and Yurei proceeded to fight the most intense duel I'll ever see. Kai showed up a few minutes later, holding something and trying to tell us it was the Heart of the Flame from across the clearing without making it terribly obvious to Yurei. Things got even more interesting when who should climb out of the gaping pit of a plateau than Tirram; and who should he help up but Terrel! Valias and Yurei locked hilts...and then he kissed her! Right in the middle of battle --- he's sure got a strange taste in women! By the two moons --- if looks could kill. I don't know what sparks were going on between them, but the ground was sure shaking like crazy. I'm not quite sure about what happened next cuz it all went by so quickly!

"Yurei stole Kai's Flame crystal with a fiery fairy, enraging both Kai and Perrin. Perrin loosed a lightening bolt at Yurei, which Valias surprisingly blocked. He couldn't block Kai's attack, which hit. Valias was very upset at Kai, and for a minute I thought he'd team up with Yurei in attacking him. Yurei's fairy came back and gave her the crystal --- and everyone dashed to get it. Things would have gotten painfully interesting right then, but a huge red dragon errupted from the pit of a plateau, circled, and dove onto the terrified Yurei, who fell into the now-even-more-enlarged pit of a plateau. Catarix, the enemy air ship, showed up, earned the dragon's interest, and went screaming off into the distance with the massive beast on its tail.

"Kai picked a fight with Tirram, who Terrel said we should let go cuz he saved his life back there (Terrel's, that is). Something must have happened to Kai down there cuz he went ballistic on Tirram, who (even I could tell) was holding in his temper and trying not to swat Kai like a fly (considering how the ground was compressing around Tirram and how easily he deflected Kai's blade most of the time, that's a reasonable thing to say and no insult to Kai's abilities). Tirram walked away just as his troops finally caught up with us. Valias summoned a large wall of water to protect us from arrow fire and Perrin lightening-bolted the troops. The Illia's Fire showed up and we went to pick up Sam's troops. Kai...almost didn't join us on the airship.

"Okay, here's what I could figure happened to Kai and Terrel and Tirram in the deep, dark pit. Kai was separated from Terrel and Tiram down in the catacombs beneath the plateau. Both of them wandered around until they found a massive chamber housing both the Flame Beast and the Heart of the Flame crystal, although Terrel and Tirram found it first. I can vouch myself for how mind-bogglingly huge this dragon is! Terrel got first blood but Tirram ended up defending his brother after a particularly nasty blow. Kai took advantage of the distraction and nabbed the crystal and fled. This enraged the Beast, who promptly breathed fire on the fleeing Kai. Kai said so calmly that he then blocked the blast with the sword of light! That takes courage! The Beast flew away (maybe after Kai?) and the two brothers made their way to the surface. Terrel said pretty much the same thing, but he wouldn't talk much about his brother. Well, we didn't have time to chat as we set sail for Sam and the Lancers. En route Kai and Valias argued about Valias' defending Yurei (something on all of our minds). Although, I recall from ballads that heroes aim only to prevent bad guys from succeeding, and that bad guys try to kill the heroes. Mother would say Kai casts such a long shadow that he gets caught in it, arguing that we should act just as bad as the bad guys.

"Tirram helping Terrel, Valias kissing Yurei --- one thing's for sure in this moon-mad world: we're not the same people who left Kapperstone a year ago. All of us, heroes, royalty, enemies, lovers, and family, are caught up in the madness of the crystals and echoes of the Age of Stardeath, and not even the gods know how it will turn out. Or whether there will be much of a world to live in once we finish what's been started. As we set off for the final leg of our adventure, the wind blowing across the airship's deck feels much colder than it used to.

"Kronis finally caught up with us --- alone. Vizier had died on the way back, killed by orcish archers! Surprised us cuz he was a strong old guy and Kronis is a master mage (or, at least, he was a master mage). Well, he was upset but he joined us to look for the Orihalcyon in what was left of the capital city. We snuck into the creepy city and found everything decayed and in ruins. Since the water had dropped, we found a secret entrance to the castle, so we wouldn't have to navigate Skidbladnir across the treacherous, rocky harbor. The tunnel was as creepy as the city, for all that it wasn't in decay. I guess it was the undead creeps who grabbed my ankle and chased us into the castle. Kronis and Perrin found a secret passage to where the Orihalcyon was. We took care of some undead palace guardsmen along the way (the folks we fight are getting tougher and tougher). We finally came to a great cathedral with huge statues of the four main gods, Woden, Baldur, Tyr, and Ymir (they were all beautiful, even Ymir). There were a whole bunch of undead guys there, plus Dulmac (who wasn't undead, just decayed), plus the Orihalcyon scepter encased in crystal. Kai stopped them with a mighty shout just as they were going to try and take the scepter from inside the crystal egg, and much fighting ensued. We took care of them all and pounced on Dulmac. Whack! There goes your head!

"Just when Perrin got the scepter from the egg with some kind of magic thingy, the notorious Hell Beast showed up, a pair of weapon-wielding brothers in black gook. Kai pulled some incredible tricks with the Sword of Light and took care of one Beast, but he's scarey when he gets so excited from killing undead (Valias had slapped him for that earlier, for not "respecting the dead"). The remaining Hell Beast nabbed the scepter from Perrin after a tussle and fled back to the statue of Ymir, gloating. Everything we find by our blood and smarts they take away from us!! Even worse, that scepter was the key to raising Woden's device. Istrall is going to destroy the world because we failed! I don't know if there's anything left to do, but Kai and Perrin and Terrel and Valias sure think so --- they're out for blood (ours or theirs) to stop the final ceremony. "We have to find Faston; we have to end this here and now." Brave words, Kai, but where in Woden's name can we look?!

"Well, well; so the old coot --- er, I mean, Kronis, once-bearer of the Sword of Light --- knew where to go after all: he placed the Lock at, inside, underneath Mount Karne. The airship could take us only so far, and we had to walk the rest through a steam vent that, if we didn't step lively down it, would have roasted us alive. I got to see real lava and we faught with and got the better of Yurei and her dark elven minions. Then things just got darn weird. There was a beautiful room with fancy decorations in the middle of a volcano! In the elegant dining hall behind that we found none other than Faston (or Istrall ... he didn't say he preferred one name over the other) wearing the crystal of life. He rambled on about mortals become gods and setting the world a-right (although the world seemed quite fine to me). We didn't agree, so we chased the necromancer down the hall to encounter our old friends, Tirram, Yurei, and Gregar. Multi-hued crystal scuffling ensued as Faston set about activating the Lock. Kai tried to stop him (Faston's got the Sword of Darkness, ohmy!), but Faston broke the Sword of Light with the scepter of Narbanon (the orihalcyon key) and opened the Lock. Faston laughed like a nut and left (with Yurei), and the whole volcano started to come down on us!

"As we fled up the stairs, Perrin and I fell off the edge (and I was too shocked to even think of Sam and New Haven as I plummeted to my death), when a great golden dragon saved us and took everyone out to safety! Ohmy! And it spoke with Illia's voice. We jumped (literally) onto the top of the airship as the mountain fell apart around us. Tirram was there, and Kai was upset about his broken sword, "We failed!" Valias was quite firm with him, "Destiny is for the weak --- we make our own fate. Only a fool gives up before he's dead --- or a coward." This might have gotten quite violent and interesting, but Gregar interrupted by landing on the airship. I wasn't scared of him anymore, he just made my blood boil! So, armed and armored (compliments of Perrin and his nifty spells), I dueled with Gregar. Due to my skill (and perhaps the armor spell and the enlarging spell) I had him hanging off the edge of the airship by his Axe handle. With a mighty slice I was victorious and now in possession of a much-shortened Axe of Terror.

"Mount Karne and its little brother decided to explode at that point, throwing Valias off the airship, and then I did the second bravest thing of my life (the first happening in defense of New Haven) and jumped off the ship after him. I flew --- by the two moons, I flew! I had dreamed it and imagined it, but nothing prepared me for the sheer joy of racing through the air like a dragon! Besides, I rescued Valias. Heh heh, don't know if I'll let him live it down. Then things got really weird cuz this huge sphere --- I mean gigantic, bigger than the sun and the moon --- rose up from the depths of the lake and into the sky. The mighty dragon moon? The lost moon, resting there for all this time? I would have enjoyed flying around some more, but Valis and I both got whalloped by a wall of dust propelled by the wind of the volcano, knocking us both out of the sky and consciousness. The airship also got blasted and crashed next to the lake the dragon moon was hiding in.

"We woke to a nightmare of pulling people out of the wreckage of the airship (splintered nose to tail!). Only four had died, but lots of people were hurt, including Talia and Captain Keller and Kronis. The old coo--- er, Kronis was hit pretty badly. He said before that his body didn't heal as fast as it used to because of his magic (huh?), and he was dying. Good news was that Keller could rebuild the airship, grafting (Darius' word) the magic device thingy and sails and spinner-thingies onto ... Skidbladnir. I was really curious about whether they'd stay on if I called the mighty elven warship back to amulet form, but no one would let me test it. Ah, well. Oh yes, and Tirram had snuck away from the airship sometime with blood in his eye and an eye on revenge against Faston. Kronis did a weird magic ritual and turned into Kai's keystone crystal (and hopefully didn't hear all those jokes about his forever haunting and tormenting Perrin). Valias called on the magical elven steeds (so beautiful --- like the clouds before sunset, or the sun on rolling waves!), and we rode long and hard for three days until we reached the foothills of the Starfire Mountains, where we marched on foot cuz it was too rocky for the steeds. You know, that moon was travelling with us, making eerie eclipses each morning as we rode.

"We traveled for many grueling days through the mountains, desperation pushing us to reach Star Lake, where Kronis-in-the-crystal said we must go. Brutal! We made it, though, with the moon right at our heels (err, right above our heads, that is). Valias spoke with his fairy-spirit friend of his and allowed us to walk on water, but I gather it wouldn't last long cuz we bolted across the lake as fast as we could go. We were attacked by water creatures (elementals, Perrin said) mid-way, but we were strong and firm in our resolve and smote them quite viciously. We made it to the island and worked towards the huge trunk of a tower (the whole town stretched arm to arm couldn't even surround half of it!). We kinda had to dodge through the forest of big rocks shaped like a crystal cluster jutting from the bottom. We also ran into Earth elementals there; well, Valias and Kai and Perrin ran into the big one (and Perrin warped and gutted it like a piece of clay!) and I killed the little one before it could try anything sneaky (even though it had cute eyes, like my little brother Treynor when he's just done something bad).

"Anyway, tired and victorious we slipped through the wall at the base of the tower (compliments of Perrin, again), although he got zapped with lightening flickering between the stone crystals as he did it. In the middle of the tower was a beam of blue-white light that carried us aloft almost to the top. We made our way along and ran into these funny looking reddish lizards (salamanders --- dear Sam!), and I got crisped by one as I tried to brush it off the ledge. The little buggers threw big fireballs! Valias and Terrel took care of 'em, and I would have helped, but Yurei nabbed me from behind. For once I wish I were proper-sized (or at least that I'd had my wings) so I'd have been strong enough to break free. As is, she used me as bait to get Valias to follow her into a head to head personal duel. They were amazing! Such a fight shadowed their first one, in which Valias had kissed her. I tried to help, but Valias knocked me dizzy and Yurei froze me with a spell. (I tried, Father, I really did!)

"The duel was too intense to last long (even though those elves have the constitit ... er ... ednurdan ... er, strength to make it last long by mortal standards!), and ended with Valias throwing down his sword and Yurei holding hers at his throat. See, there was something going on between the two as they fought (they talked!), and Yurei was Valias' dead lover Shinaria, and Yurei thought Shinaria was upset about something Valias or Alton or someone did before she died. I couldn't make much sense of it, but I was really worried that she'd kill him; but she didn't. She couldn't go through with it cuz I think she still loved him, and they ended up in each other's arms and not at sword's edge. As this was all going on, I learned later that Terrel and Kai and Perrin were making their way laboriously up the tower, fighting terrible air elementals all the way. Anyway, just as things were finally going right with Valias and his lover, the damned Hell Beast showed up again; except Yurei/Shinaria called him 'Corwen,' which seemed to mean something to Valias. I'd have asked, but, well ... you know; Valias was touchy enough talking about Dark Elves. Admitting that part of this creature was the dark elf that Kronis and Allonan fought would be too much.

"Oh, yes, anyway the Beast seemed kinda happy he'd found us so he could kill us --- and, by the dead god Woden, he was huge! (What's with this far-too-large-for-life thing, anyway? Caverns, dragons, moon, spires, tower, and Beast!) Smug bastard! Valias and I took him on and bit off far more than we could chew. Too many tentacles and spears of bone; I've improved my swordsmanship greatly since way back when I left New Haven, but it wasn't enough! Not even Valias did well cuz his arms and legs got pinned by the Beast. Just before it could spear him through, Yurei leapt in front and took the spear meant for Valias' heart (though, I think her injury hurt his heart as much as the spear would have). He tried, poor Valias did try so hard to heal her, but the Beast's own dark magics took their toll and she died (again). Valias was filled with an eerie rage like when Kai was killing undead but also like channeling the whole ocean into a single, raging stream --- which he directed towards the Corwen torso a-top the Beast's roiling mass. He lept, wielding the Sword of Shadows and the Sword of Honor, slicing faster than fast (although, sometimes it seemed like Yurei/Shinaria was shadowing him and holding the Sword of Shadows), severing tentacles and making his way to the top, where he shoved both swords into Corwen's throat. And with that mighty blow, the Beast (finally, dammit!) died. Then the tower was shaking and the rocky crystals outside were growing and we were such a tempting target to be crushed by large falling pieces of ancient tower.

"As this went on, I learn that Terrel stayed behind to keep the air creatures at bay as Perrin and Kai went to face Faston and found Woden's device at the top of the tower. Perrin wove some mighty magics, and Kai managed to reform the Sword of Light by pure will alone, and together they did battle with the fell necromancer. Meanwhile, Valias and I raced to the staircase lining the outside of the tower (a tall, wide tower and a long, long staircase). To speed things up (and being fed up with these tiring mad dashes), Valias teleported and I flew and we both made our respective ways up the tower. Faston did something and made a big ol' beam of light strike the long-lost dragon moon (now directly above us and shrouding the land in eclipse shadows), which started glowing and blasting the landscape with great gouts of energy (big enough to wipe the whole of Krystallon away in one bolt)! Oh, yes; and I ran into an air elemental and had to ram it into the tower wall, but other than that we made it to the top of the tower okay and unblasted.

"What a sight greeted us at the top! Phew! If Valias' battle with Yurei epitomized (Orson's word) speed and skill, Kai and Terrel and Tirram and Perrin's battle with Faston was raw might and power, especially poignant (Darius' word --- enough, guys, lemme tell the story right and proper-like without alla your words confusing me!) with Woden's device in the background, glowing like the noonday sun. In a mighty blow Kai split both the crystal of life and the band holding the crystal to Faston's forehead, and Terrel smote the necromancer an arrow one good right through the temples (whoosh --- thwack --- yer dead, bucko!). When the necromancer turned into a walking undead hulk of a skeleton, Kai sliced Faston in half with a great white blade (that was his reforged Sword of Light). The dark sorcerer exploded and faded like those elven fairy-sparkles (not that I'd want that stuff on me, no sir), but that wasn't enough to stop the madness the necromancer had begun.

"Okay, it gets more than a little confusing here on in, so bear with me. I can barely keep it straight in my head --- and I lived through it! Kronis-in-the-crystal said we had to destroy the black and white spheres to bring the magic down safely (cuz Perrin had apparently already done a number on the device with his powerful magics). Kai and Tirram charged the crystals and Kronis yelled sharply at them for doing it wrong. They sorted themselves out so that Kai, with his Sword of Light, would break the sphere corresponding to darkness and Tirram would break the sphere corresponding to light with the Sword of Darkness (dropped by the now-desintigrated Faston). This sent a pulse into the center focusing sphere crystal thingy, which kinda destroyed it and had the effect of sending a big pulse up to the moon hovering above the tower. Oh, and Skidbladnir-turned-airship arrived and was hit by one of the Earth-raking blasts but was protected by a shell of green light which I think was Allonan's doing (cuz we learned later that he had a feeling he should pop up and help). Anyway, the pulse made the moon explode! It was --- I mean, the colors and ... it was so dazzling! Much better than staring at the sun too long, really (but for all that it was pretty I wouldn't have it happen again cuz that would mean lots of destruction and death and nasty stuff).

"Where was I? Oh, yeah. The moon exploding had the unfortunate after-effect of making the tower collapse. We all leapt for the safety of Skidbladnir (so, if the elven warship is now an airship, is it still Skidbladnir or is it something weird like 'Fast Like a Spear through the Sky' or some odd long twisty elven equivalent?) ... we all scrambled up the nets of Skidbladnir as the tower slid upon itself and to the ground, and we learned that Allonan was aboard and we figured it was all over by now except there was this odd blue bubble thingy left over beneath the tower. Groans all around that we'd have to explore that --- and no one wanted to land and deal with it, whatever it was! Everyone was dead on their feet from defeating Faston and saving the world (understandably).

"Yes, if things aren't bad enough, they get even odder and metaphysical (that's Perrin's word for what happened ... er, the only word I can tell you in polite company, anyway). Kronis appeared from within his crystal and started telling us that, when he wielded the Sword of Light, he knew he was only preparing the way for someone else ... who turned out to be Kai ... who turned out to be the long-thought-lost god Woden! I mean --- a god! We've been travelling with a GOD all this time and never even knew it! Fates, Kai never even knew it (if I could judge from his dumbstruck expression) --- and how could he walk around being a god and never even know about it?! I always thought gods were just legends and remote things that people prayed to when they wanted something done, not adventurers that walked and fought and rode horses with mortals. I promised myself a good bout of sitting down and shaking my head over it all sometime later, when this blue bubble thing was resolved.

"So. Kronis (from his crystal) told Kai, who was really Woden and didn't know it, that it was time to "return" and take back with him the knowledge he had learned. He also had to take back our crystals, which legend states were little pieces of Woden. Actually, that's rilly weird to think I've been swinging an axe with a bit of Kai stuck in it all this time. Yuck. At least he didn't mind. So, we all gave him the bits of himself back and gave him heart-felt fare-wells (as I hugged him I could just imagine what stuffy ol' priest Sharris back home would say to my hugging a real, live, reborn god!). Kai said he'd remember us when he got back to wherever it is that gods go, and he jumped off the edge of the airship. He fell into the blue bubble ringed by the crystals, and that's the last we saw of our friend Kai. The orb pulsed and then rose into the sky, and the world returned to normal (except for those great scars across the land --- but Allonan said there was some damage we just couldn't avoid doing, which is great cuz it means I shouldn't feel guilty about stuff like destroying the whole eastern half of the kingdom).

"My, my. Events settled down to a normal pace, and I've heard bits of news on the winds about my friends. Valias went back to Aelfheim with Allonan (heh, I'd've loved to see the look on their serene elven faces at that!). He seemed okay with Yurei/Shinaria's second death and I've heard he founded a new school of bladesingers, who would act as ambassadors to the non-Aelfheim world. I'm glad more people who like elves as much as I do will get the chance to see and talk with them, and I've heard it said that it is good that Aelfheim is integrating more with the Kingdom. Perrin went and became Princess Astra's Consort (cute!) and they helped the eastern half of the kingdom rebuild. She's a good ruler and Perrin's really smart, so I'm sure the kingdom will match its former glory soon enough at their hands. Last I heard they were working with what used to be the Confederacy of Dharm but what was now a unified nation.

"Speaking of the northern territories, Terrel made his way back to Kapperstone (where it all started so long ago!) with Tirram, resuming (happily, so I hear) his duties as the Duke's Huntsmaster. Melony and Schplit were still at Kapperstone, I believe. Last I heard Terrel was working to re-introduce Tirram to normal Kingdom society with ... some success. The two brothers seem to have found a sense of peace in each other; I guess they both can focus on life (theirs and others') instead of death (past and future). I haven't heard of any celestial disturbances, so I assume Kai/Woden is doing okay and getting along with all the other gods, doing interesting things, no doubt. Kai's not one to sit on his hands being distant and godly, I think. Probably up to some right wicked adventures. Which brings to mind the dashing pirate Captain Keller and the crew of the airship. Keller took off with the Skidbladnir airship (I never did find out if it had a new name), bold as brass. I expect I'll hear news of his escapades soon. Perhaps he's working in conjunction with the Princess.

"As for me? Well, I settled down in New Haven with Sam for a bit, the dear. Everyone listened to me tell my tale for 5 days in a row, all crowded in the tavern's main room. Father's ale nearly ran dry from all the thirsty listeners! It was odd, you know. Even for all that I now hold the title as Guardian of the Realm and helped save the world, people treated me differently than before --- even people I had never met who came from distant towns! It took some getting used to before I could accept their ... respect (bordering on reverence, was what it was) without ending up rolling on the floor, laughing (which you can imagine didn't go over too well). Life settled down to normal, with the ale flowing and the stars turning just as they did before this whole adventure rocked the world. But I could never let things sit so calmly! When Kai returned as Woden, I realized that, if gods could walk among men and if dragons truly existed, then there were all sorts of possible adventures just waiting out there! I mean, whole lands that had never even heard of the Kingdom, towns with adults and children who, just like me, lay in hay stacks or stole pies with friends and conspirators or romped through forests, dreaming up adventures on the wind.

"There are Beginnings to Great Things drifting like wispies dancing in an afternoon eddy. While I had just finished one grand adventure fit to change my life, I've stayed in New Haven long enough. I figure it's time I chased another dream and see what adventures I can catch (new friends and new dangers!). Still, I'm glad you've listened to my tale so far; and perhaps there's some good adventurin' to be had just around the corner for ya. I'd not keep it waiting, 'f I were you."

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