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(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)

  The wagon moved down the old road, less then a day's travel towards the dwarven ruins. Rumi's bodyguard, Henry, had managed to catch up to them on the first day, surprising Edda. The blond swordsman was currently sitting outside the carriage, next to Henry who was holding the reins.

“So, Rumi,” Edda began, glancing towards the older man, “Why do her parents let her do something dangerous like this?”

“I would ask you once again to refer to her as Lady Testerossa,” Henry said, turning and giving Edda a sharp look, “As for her parents, they believe that she should know the world better.”

“Uh huh,” Edda said in reply. He was pretty sure that there was something this bodyguard was hiding, but if it didn't impact their job, it wasn't his business, “We should be there before the sun is down. Is there a place to stay there, or will we need to set up camp?”

“Lord and Lady Testerossa have a small place on that land, with some servants. I am certain we can stay there,” Henry answered. “The dwarven ruins are about a four hours ride from there.”

“And both are on the same property?” Edda asked, doing some quick mental arithmetic and then whistling softly.

“Yes, the name Testerossa has a long and proud legacy,” Henry answered, looking backwards at the carriage, “They are being awfully quiet. I do not like Lady Testerossa to riding without my presence.”

“Relax, Paul's not a very talkative guy, that's probably why they're quiet. Besides, you're the one who knows where we're going, so you have to drive, and you don't want Rumi out here in the open either. Makes sense for one of us to hang out here with you, and one to wait in the carriage,” Edda said, then smirked, “As it is, I'd think you should be more worried if they weren't quiet.”

Henry's face palled as he looked at Edda, “Good sir, I know you are a commoner but I must ask you not to say such things in Lady Testerossa's presence! We are the ones paying you.”

“Rumi is the one paying us, not you,” Edda said pointedly, “But I'll try to behave.”

Henry gave the blond haired young man a frown, then returned his attention to the road as the horses continued to pull the carriage along.

Inside, Paul was looking at Rumi as she talked, the carriage winding it's way closer to the home.

“So you're the translator, and Edda is the explorer?” Rumi asked. Paul nodded, then moved his hands slightly to elaborate.

“Ohhhh, interesting,” Rumi said, “And I saw he's suppose to be good with a sword. You any good with a weapon, Paul?”

Paul shook his head, then paused, smiling, and held up his hands. They moved again, Rumi at lost to what he might be doing, but could sense the energy in the air as a soft glow came from Paul's hands. The glow started to die, then he held out his hand, producing a small glittering object, what looked like a red flower, the light from the windows of the carriage catching it.

“Ohhh... that's beautiful...” Rumi said, as Paul handed it to her, looking it over, “How long can you sustain it?”

Paul looked confused, making a questioning motion with his hands.

“You know... keep this around?” Rumi asked, turning her attention back to the dark skinned male in front of her.

Paul continued to look puzzled, then moved his hands again, finishing with a shrug.

“I see...” Rumi said, then smiled. She took the glass flower and tucked it over an ear for now. “I am surprised, if you're this good, why you and Edda have to odd jobs or the like.”

Now came a smirk from Paul, a few more motions, along with a sweep backwards, towards where Edda was sitting on the outside. Rumi laughed, nodding.

“Okay, I suppose I can understand that,” Rumi said, “I am here because I am looking for the excitement, the adventure! And maybe make some friends along the way too.”

Paul held up his hands to sign something, stopping when he felt the cart come to a stop, and a thump at the door.

“We're at the, uhhh, house,” they heard Edda say. The door opened, and Henry appeared from the side, holding out his hand to help Rumi down, the girl thanking him as Paul followed after him. Henry's eyes darted to the glass flower over Rumi's right ear, as did Edda, who simply raised an eyebrow towards Paul.

Paul turned to look, coming to a stop as he gaped up at the structure. Wood, stone, and iron had been gathered to an impressive amount at this place, looking more like a fortress then a house. He looked towards Rumi, who was already heading towards the gate, currently open.

“This use to be an old fort,” Henry explained to Edda and Paul, “It's also near the main road, so Lord and Lady Testerossa have also converted it into an inn.”

“I guess they wouldn't be this rich if they didn't do stuff like that,” Edda said, then shook his head, “Guess they built this fort because of the dwarven fortress near here. Well, I'm starved, let's get some grub and make sure we have everything ready for tomorrow.”

Edda headed towards the former fortress, Paul heading after him, Henry turning to attend to the carriage as a few servants appeared to take care of the luggage.

[. . .]

“You know, it was kind of risky doing that,” Edda said to Paul. The two had a room, nicer then either of them were use to, but they certainly weren't going to complain about the accommodations.

Paul looked up, raising an eyebrow.

“That flower, for Rumi,” Edda said, “If it's known you have magic like that... the King's mages will track you down and make you join the army.”

Paul sighed, shaking his head and making a couple signs, Edda frowning at his friend.

“Okay, it's your choice... But we don't know much about her. This is just a job. I'm sure once we finish with the ruins, she's not going to want anything to do with us,” Edda said, sitting down on his bed, “So just keep that in mind. For now, let's get some sleep... We're going to set out early for those ruins tomorrow.”

Paul nodded, getting into his own bed now, the two closing their eyes as sleep came.

It didn't feel like very long when Edda jerked upwards, drawing his sword from the bed and pointing it at the man who had quietly walked in.

“Ah, good, you're awake,” Henry said, looking around and padding softly forward. Edda shook his head, attempting to waken up further, though still gripped his sword tightly.

“What's wrong? Bandits?” Edda said, looking towards the window. It was pitch black outside, but eerily calm. Even the crickets had gone quiet. “Or something else?”

“Something else, I am afraid,” Henry said. He frowned, looking at Edda, then over to Paul who was beginning to wake up himself, “I... require a favor. Your pay will be doubled as compensation.”

Edda slid out of bed, sheathing his long sword and looking at the older man, “What's wrong?”

“There are some... individuals coming here. They intend to take Lady Testerossa against her will. Her parents have given me strict instructions to not let that happen. I need you two to take Lady Testerossa to the dwarven ruins, and wait there for a few days as I sort things out,” Henry said. He clearly looked uncomfortable asking this, Edda and Paul sharing a brief glance.

“Look if it's kidnappers, then close the gates and get hunkered down. This place is a literal fort, we can stop bandits,” Edda said, “Leaving just makes it more likely to run into them.”

“As I said, they are not bandits. They are... agents of the Crown,” Henry said, “I do not have the luxury of going into detail, but I have packed your bags and gotten three good horses ready, along with a map. Outside of ourselves and Lady Testerossa, only her parents know of the dwarven ruins. If you two are half as good as you claim to be, I am sure you can be safe there for a few days. I will come to collect you in three days.”

“What does the King want with Rumi?” Edda asked now, frowning. This smelled very suspicious, and Edda wasn't going to walk into some kind of trap.

“I am not at full liberty to say, but I can say that the King did not live up to his promises to the Testerossa family,” Henry said, “I understand if you wish to have no part in this. If that is the case, you will be paid right now, and all I ask is that you do not tell the king's men where we have gone.”

Edda and Paul looked towards each other again. Paul signed urgently, and Edda signed back, the two moving their hands back and forth. Finally after a couple minutes, Edda turned back to Henry.

“Alright, deal. But what happens if you don't show up within those three days? Or they show up first?” Edda asked, “Worst case scenario.”

“I... will have to trust you two to use your best judgment,” Henry said, looking increasingly distressed, “I do not like being in this situation, but I do not have any other choices at the moment.”

Paul was already getting dressed and grabbing his bag, and Edda nodded.

“We'll do our best... I can't promise we can keep her entirely safe, especially if we get into a fight,” Edda said, pausing when Henry actually gave a small smile at that.

“At that, I am not worried for Lady Testerossa. She should be ready herself, down at the stables. I have told her that the king's men are coming to take over exploring the dwarven ruins themselves, and so you three are to proceed there,” Henry said, “And... thank you.”

[. . .]

Edda's horse snorted softly as they crunched over some dead leaves, moving slowly, but quietly through the forest. He had an irrational urge to go faster, but moving quickly through the darkness when the horses could not pick their steps would spell disaster, and until they were further away, they didn't intend to make any light.

“Paul doesn't seem to like riding a horse,” Rumi said idly, bringing her's up closer to Edda so they could talk, glancing back to Paul, his dark shape difficult to make out with the lack of light.

“Never did. Means he can't talk,” Edda said, “Has to hold the reins. And you've only known him for a bit, but he is a bit of a motor hand. Sometimes I can barely hear myself think.”

Rumi gave Edda a look, not sure if she should be amused or not, “I am pretty sure that's a joke.”

Edda smiled, shrugging towards Rumi, then realized that she might not be able to see his motions in the dark, “Paul and I are practically brothers. We might not have the same parents, but we grew up together.”

Rumi gave a small nod, not saying anything as she turned her attention back to the road ahead. The three proceeded in silence for a while, before Edda spoke up.

“Okay, we should be far enough away. Let's get some light,” he said, turning back and looking towards Paul. Paul held up his thumb, then dropped the reins for a moment. His fingers twitched, and something seemed to shift, and lights glowed from his hands, darting forward around the three, creating enough light to see by and illuminating the forest in front of them.

Rumi looked at one of the lights, tilting her head before she brought up one finger, poking it slightly. It was cool to the touch, simply floating in the air.

“Are you sure you can keep this going?” Rumi asked, looking back towards Paul as the dark skinned young man brought his horse closer to the others. Paul gave a simple nod, then jerked his head towards Edda.

“Hmm? Oh, yah, Paul's good at magic,” Edda said, “Though don't tell anyone, they usually try to round up mages and conscript them...”

“You're awfully trusting of me despite barely knowing me,” Rumi said, smirking now, “Why is that?”

“You don't seem like the kind of person who would turn on us. Not if we didn't turn on you, at least,” Edda responded. He didn't add that he had a gut feeling that if they did turn on Rumi, they would very quickly wish they hadn't.

“Well, thank you for your vote of confidence,” Rumi smiled, then turned her attention back to the path ahead, “Perhaps we should go faster now?”

[. . .]

Captain Haddwick was not a happy man. He had already lost two men to the ruins, and that was to traps. At least one of the mages assigned to his company was a healer, or it would have been four. Their dwarven expert, some small man who seemed to be permanently flinching, had been trying to decipher the runes on the walls and figure out how to disable the traps, but it was slow going, and they had called it a night for now, and wait until morning.

He wasn't sure why his orders wanted these ruins scouted out and explored as soon as possible, but he was damned if he was going to risk more soldiers until they could figure out how to disable the traps.

Captain Haddwick scowled at his orders again, reading them by lantern in his command tent. He had a bad feeling, and had made sure there were plenty of scouts out tonight. His men were suppose to be keeping an eye out for any of the Testerossa family showing up, especially the daughter. There wasn't anything telling them why, there often wasn't, but she was to be detained, but treated well, with a curious addition telling them not to allow any paper or something to write with be given to the youngest Testerossa.

It was looking at these orders that the Captain missed the first strangled cry, but the second had him standing from his chair, drawing his sword as he smelled smoke, something burning nearby.

He ran out of the tent, and some of the tents set up for his company were now on fire. Several soldiers were running around, trying to figure out what had happened. The Captain grabbed one by the shoulder, who jerked to a stop.

“What the hell is happening?” Haddwick yelled. The soldier paused for a moment, then stood to attention.

“Sir, some kind of surprise attack!” the soldier said, “We... I... Sir...”

The soldier looked around wildly, and the Captain frowned. Who would be brave enough to attack a company of the King's Men? Even bandits gave them a wide berth.

“Right. Soldiers, to me!” Haddwick shouted, holding up his sword. Several soldiers stopped, gathering up in front of him. “We are soldiers, so start acting like it! We'll route this enemy and show them the sword, and...”

He trailed off, realizing the soldiers in front of him were looking upwards, at something above him. Slowly he turned, looking up and seeing a figure laying over his tent, still aloft somehow.

“Oh, don't let me stop you,” the pointed eared figure said, giving a smile that seemed to have too many teeth, “It sounded like just a rousing speech.”

The Captain opened his mouth to speak, when someone behind him let out a strangled cry. Caught between the sound and the figure before him, the Captain hesitated, and the figure from the tent suddenly launched downwards, and the last thing he heard were the words, “the Fey thanks you for your magic...”

[. . .]

“Do you smell smoke?” Edda asked, bringing his horse to a stop. Dawn was starting to creep up, the lights Paul made beginning to dim with the rising sun. He slid off his horse, drawing his sword and creeping forward.

Paul got off his horse as well, Rumi doing the same. Rumi made a move to follow, but Paul held up his hand and then shook his head. Rumi frowned, but a few signs from Paul made her nod, resigned.

Edda crept through the forest, coming to a stop as he saw a clearing through the trees. He made to get closer, but froze when he heard a voice.

“The Queen won't like this,” the voice said. It sounded almost beautiful, but with something just slightly off about it, making Edda shiver.

“Well we can't get into that hole in the ground. Too many defenses. They were smart enough to turn them back on,” another voice said, with the same haunting qualities of the first. “We'll need to wait for others.”

Edda moved carefully, going around a tree, where he saw two figures. They were tall and lithe, with angular faces and pointed ears, white hair hanging down from their heads, straight and looking almost flawless. Like their voices they seemed almost but not quite there, not quite real. They wore white clothes, but their details were difficult to make out, they seemed to blend in with the beings themselves, as if the detail was unnecessary.

Edda's eyes darted to the ears. Pointed. Edda bit his lower lip, trying to recall things. Not human. They certainly had a superficial resemblance to humans, but even if their ears were covered, no one would mistake them for human. They were just... wrong, in so many subtle ways. Elves? Their were various legends about them, but no one had seen an elf in centuries. Even the oldest dwarves just knew them as legends.

The back of his neck prickled, as another option came to mind. But they were bogeymen, villains used in stories for mothers to scare their children into behaving right. The two figures fit the description though.

“Well, well, well... who do we have here?”

Edda gulped, another voice behind him. He didn't turn around slowly, instead he spun around, sword out as he slashed. A third figure was behind him, and the sword slashed across the being's chest. The pointed eared figure stumbled backwards, but no blood came from the wound. Edda pressed the attack, the other two figures momentarily surprised by the commotion, and the sword stabbed into the third figure. Edda pulled it back, as the figure stumbled, twitching for a moment, before it began to vanish in the air.

The other two got their act together now, and a ball of fire leaped from the hand of one. Edda rolled, the fire dissipating into the air as though it never existed. He jumped up, sword at the ready, when the other figure was suddenly there, grabbing his sword hand and twisting. The blond human cried out, being slammed into a tree, dropping his sword, wrist throbbing.

“Human, you have made a big mistake,” the figure said, leaning closer... then paused, looking confused.

“If you're not going to take his magic, I will,” the other one said, moving forward. It paused as well, looking at Edda with a confused expression.

“Who are you?” Edda asked, trying to wriggle free, but the being held strong, not letting him move.

“Don't you remember, human?” the one pinning him asked, “Or are you human? Whatever you are, you'll bleed all the same. But I suppose we can humor you.”

The figure brought it's face close to Edda's, licking it's lips, “We are the Fey, and we are back to finish what we started...”

The figure brought it's hand back, ready to plunge it forward when something whirled by, slashing.

The fey suddenly screamed, stumbling away from Edda, it's arm now gone, the appendage fading away. Edda dropped down, grabbing his sword, wincing as he held the blade in his injured hand. He switched to his left for now, the other fey suddenly being shackled by irons that appeared around it. The creature screamed at the touch of the metal, flailing on the ground. Edda held his sword and approached the fey with a missing arm, who turned at him and slashed. Magic flashed with the claw, Edda bringing his sword up to block. The fey's hand had changed into a claw, hitting the blade with a clean cut, the metal slashing in half, Edda's sword now shorter and missing it's top half.

Edda dropped the sword now, pulling out a hidden dagger and darting back, only for the fey to pause in it's attack, turning it's head.

Edda took the opportunity to dart forward, plunging the dagger into the thing, the fey hissing and stumbling back. Edda let go of the dagger, the fey scrambling at the dagger in it's chest, the clawed hand changing back to normal, gripping the metal with a hiss. As it started to pull out the dagger, metal sliced through the air, embedding itself in the head of the fey. The creature stopped it's movements, falling over dead, starting to fade as well.

Edda took a deep breath, bending down and retrieving his dagger, frowning. The metal of the blade that had penetrated looked corroded and pitted now. He went and checked the top of his sword, seeing the same corrosion on that, standing up when Paul appeared, the shackled fey twisting on the ground.

“Thanks,” Edda said to Paul, “They said... said they were Fey...”

Paul froze, eyes wide as he looked at the creature. He moved forward, bending down himself and hauling the creature up with surprising strength, forcing it back into a tree, staring.

“You humans can't hold me! Others will come, and we will feast on your magic!” the fey screeched.

“Can you muzzle him or something?” another voice asked. Edda glanced back and saw Rumi appear from the forest now, looking around. There was no blood on the ground, very little to indicate that a fight had taken place.

“It,” Edda corrected, “Fey don't have gender, except for the Queen. If the legends are true, at least.”

The captured fey hissed again, “We killed most of the humans here! We'll kill you too! For the Queen!”

Paul held up his free hand, the other still pinning the fey to the tree. An iron collar appeared around the creature's mouth, keeping it quiet.

“What other people?” Rumi wondered, looking curious now, “Maybe we should let it talk and-”

“No need,” Edda said, walking into the clearing, frowning at the destruction. Most of the tents were either burned or knocked down. There was the smell of soot in the air, Edda looking around.

“I'll be right back... going to look around,” Edda called back to Paul and Rumi, entering further in the clearing. He poked through some tents, taking a sword from a fallen soldier, Edda giving a small thanks to the dead man. After a few minutes he returned, shaking his head.

“The ruins... it's near here, right?” Edda asked Rumi.

“Yes... just on the other side of the clearing,” Rumi answered, looking curious, Edda standing in her way from looking out to it. “What happened?”

“Looks like some soldiers found it too... or were here for some reason,” Edda answered, “The... fey got them. If there are any survivors, they either fled here... or if they were feeling suicidal, into the stronghold.”

Paul made a few motions, and Edda nodded begrudgingly.

“Okay, yah, but the chances they had anyone as good as us?” Edda said. Paul raised an eyebrow, and Edda sighed.

“We'll go around. Not through the clearing,” Edda said, “Come on, let's grab the horses and go.”

“Wouldn't it be faster to just cut through the clearing?” Rumi asked.

Edda hesitated, trying to think of a good excuse. He had been in more fights then he cared to admit, and the sight out in the clearing...

“...Too exposed,” he said, shaking his head. True enough, even if it wasn't the reason he didn't want to cut through the clearing, “Anyways, if there are more fey in the area, the stronghold is our best bet to get to safety. There's always other ways out, and I'd rather take our chances in there then try and ride back.”

There was also the matter of other soldiers at the Testerossa estate nearby, that were after the young heiress.

“And if there are any survivors, they'll be in the ruins, right?” Rumi added, thinking it over.

“Sure,” Edda said, not expecting any survivors, but decided it was best not to tell Rumi. It was incredibly lucky they had managed to take these three fey. If they hadn't hesitated to kill him, things would have gotten worse. Which simply made Edda wonder why they had hesitated in killing him.

[. . .]

The ruins weren't much to see. Some stone piled up, and scratches down along at waist level. Paul bent down to study them, running a hand over the scratches.

They had let the horses go, not able to take them into the ruins, plus their captive made the horses skittish. They needed the fey alive for now, because otherwise no one would believe them if they told anyone, and if the fey were back, people needed to be warned.

“Any problems?” Edda asked, looking towards Paul now. Rumi had produced a sketch book and seemed to be sketching the outside of the ruins, glancing up at it every now and then.

Paul shook his head, then paused and gave a shrug. His hands moved, and Edda frowned.

“Okay... well, it's our best bet. Let's get it open,” Edda said. Paul nodded and pressed the stone in a certain place, and the surface rumbled, opening up and showing a dark staircase.

“Ohhh... it goes underground...” Rumi said, having moved forward when she heard the noise, “I should have expected that... Well, what now?”

“Paul goes first, he can read the runes and shut off the traps. You'll be behind him, and I'll follow you with our prisoner,” Edda said. Rumi nodded as Paul stepped into the ruins, creating the dancing lights around him again. Rumi followed after him, Edda turning to the fey and grabbing him by the collar, pulling him roughly. The fey made a strangled cry from it's restraints, but couldn't be very loud, not with the metal around it's mouth.

As they entered, the stone behind them closed up, now only the dancing lights giving them any illumination. Paul stopped every few feet, inspecting a wall and shaking his head. He came to a stop at a small landing, Rumi almost bumping into him.

Then they heard voices, echoing back towards them.

“Look, we can't stay here. Their are traps we haven't figured out ahead, and we barely have enough food for a day or two.”

“But those... those things are still out there. If we go out, we're dead.”

“We're dead if we stay here.”

“Then we press on. We have the expert with us...”

“Yah, and he's been really helpful.”

Edda, Paul, and Rumi glanced towards each other. Soldiers. Some had fled into these ruins it seems, and they were alive. For now, at least. Paul bent down, touching a few stones in the small, then motioned into the corridor. Nothing sprang out at them, Paul motioning Edda forward, who took the lead, drawing his sword.

They stopped at a large stone door, propped open by what looked like a scabbard. Edda tensed, about to rush in, when Rumi simply spoke out.

“Hello there! Are you soldiers?” she shouted. Edda and Paul tensed, and they heard hurried voices.

“Crap, I thought the traps were reactivated!”

“Is it those things? Doesn't sound like them...”

“Who else knows about this place?”

There were some scuffling noises, and the door was opened a little more, a crossbow being seen.

“Identify yourselves!” a shaky voice demanded.

“Oh, put that down,” Rumi said, and to the amazement of Edda and Paul, the crossbow was lowered, “And open the door!”

The door was opened, and Rumi stepped forward. After a wordless exchange, Edda and Paul quickly entered after her, Edda sheathing the sword for now.

There were four other people in the small stone room. A soldier maybe even a little younger then Edda and Paul, holding the crossbow. One man in the corner who was shaking and looking worried. Two more were in the center, another soldier who was bandaged up, and another young man who was checking the bandages, not dressed as a soldier, but in the blue robes of a mage in the employ of the King. Of course, almost all mages were employed to work for the Crown, and this one had a shock of red hair.

“Who are you?” the bandaged soldier asked, wincing as he got up, his left arm in a sling.

“I am Rumi Testerossa, and these two fine men are in my employ,” Rumi said, indicating Edda and Paul.

A few introductions were quickly made. The young soldier with the crossbow was a fresh recruit, a foot soldier named Pliken. The bandaged soldier was a sergeant, who went by the name of Jint. The mage introduced himself as Connor, a healer, and the man shaking in the corner was a dwarven expert, named Fredson.

“Look, I don't know what you three are doing here, but right now we'll take all the help we can get,” the sergeant said, “How did you disable the traps? Took our expert a few hours to do that.”

“We have our own expert,” Rumi said, indicating Paul, who waved. The sergeant stared for a moment, then shrugged, wincing as he did.

“Try not to move your arm,” Connor said, frowning. His hands glowed for a moment, healing magic going over the man's arm, “I already used up a lot of my magic, I still need more time to recharge...”

“Boy, I'll be fine. Had worse,” the sergeant said, “Anyways... are... those things still out there?”

“The fey?” Edda asked, “Yah... we ran into some. Took one prisoner.”

“Fey?” Connor asked, looking up now. “But they... they don't exist!”

“Someone tell them that,” the sergeant sighed, shaking his head, “And what is he doing?”

Paul looked towards one of the walls, peering at the runes carved on the stone, frowning.

“It's some kind of stronghold, isn't it?” the foot soldier Pliken asked, “I remember hearing about them. Treasure and what not hidden in them.”

Paul held up a hand to say something, pausing when they heard voices.

“The prisoner!” Edda said, darting to the door and looking out down the hall. The chained up fey was being slowly released by a couple others, one of them looking up and seeing Edda, scowling.

“Shit, the traps!” Edda said. He moved back and pushed at the stone door, getting it closed just when a loud 'thump' hit the door, then the sound of scrambling at the door.

“It locks when closed. Why we had it propped open,” the sergeant said, “But the trap activator was on the other side...”

Edda cursed again, turning to them, “Then we're going to have to head further in and find another way out.”

“Well I hope your expert knows what he's doing,” the sergeant said. “Let's go, come on. Pliken, grab Fredson, we need to get going.”

Pliken saluted, walking over to the man and hauling him up. Edda walked over to Paul, who was still frowning at the runes on the wall.

“We need a way out,” Edda said. Paul hesitated, then walked over to another set of runes. He pressed one, and another door opened. Connor grabbed a torch they had hung on the wall, peering forward, walking next to them.

The door keeping the fey at bay shuddered, the large stone seeming to jump in place.

“I don't think we have long, come on,” Edda said. He took the torch from Connor, then moved into the dark hallway.

Soon everyone had gone through, the hidden door sliding back into place, like it was just part of the wall. The group continued down several steps, stopping when they came to a large cavern. All along the walls were old metal bars, embedded deep into the stone. Edda looked into one, seeing simply dust. So did other cells.

Paul walked over to Edda, making a few signs, then pointed to what looked like an old desk, too small for a human, but just the right size for a dwarf. The wood was old, but hard. He forced a couple old drawers opened, finding old, yellowed paper in them, carefully pulling them out.

“Dwarves did make things to last...” Edda said, then handed the papers to Paul, who looked them over. He frowned, then handed them back to Edda, making a few motions with his hands. Edda's eyes widened, while Rumi just looked confused.

“What is it?” Connor asked, looking at them.

“This isn't an old stronghold of the dwarves,” Edda said, “It's a prison.”

Cold Iron Chronicles - II
Part II of the Cold Iron Chronicles! Edda, Paul, and Rumi have found the old dwarven ruins, and it turns out it was an old prison... How will this change things, and can they keep ahead of the Fey?

Rumi Testerossa belongs to :icondarkphazon395:

Connor Jackson belongs to :icongoldensama:

All other characters belong to me!

Previous part: Cold Iron Chronicles - I

Next part: TBD
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore)

 The sorcerer stood in the center of the ancient forest, feeling the magical convergence of the area. Trees twisted around the bare center, their ancient bark harder then even the greatest of forged steel. The air hung hot, quiet as the usual noise of the forest dimmed. The power felt here was palpable, the sorcerer suppressing the urge to start now, knowing that he had spent entirely too long in preparation to bungle it now.

They had been here, so long ago. The final place of them. Where the armies and humanity and dwarven kind had descended upon the last holdouts, intent on wiping them off the face of the realm. Then they had vanished, disappearing before steel and fury could rip them apart.

But their mark was still seen, in the center of the forest. So much magical energy had spread from this point, and the sorcerer intended to make use of it. With the power here to be tapped, no one could stand before him, no one would be able to topple the minions he would be able to enthrall or create. The King of Man would be forced to bow before him.

The True Magic was almost his, the sorcerer raising his hand as he focused, speaking in an ancient language, the words wheedled out one by one during decades of research. Words of the world itself, speaking to reality to shape it. With the ancient magic, the act was a little easier, each word taking a small toll on the sorcerer as he began to cast his spell, but it would be worth it.

Magic crackled in the air, swirling around the sorcerer as he finished, the final syllable having barely left his lips when the world itself seemed to crack apart around him, the magical energy rushing into the sorcerer who felt himself stumble slightly, working to contain the magic.

There were... figures. Shadows at the edge of the sorcerer's vision, human-like at first. They began to crowd around the magic man. The sorcerer gave them no mind as he focused his magic still, starting to become use to the power that flowed through him. Then one of the figures took their shadowy head back and began to laugh.

The laugh echoed through the forest, and the other shadow figures joined in, the laughter a cacophony to the sorcerer, who held up his hands, letting his magic flow from his fingers.


The sorcerer's words rang loudly, but the shadowy figures didn't stop, their laughter seemed to increase. One of them reached out and grabbed the man suddenly, the sorcerer stumbling in his casting, his magical faltering. Before he could shake himself loose another hand grabbed him, then another. The shadowy figures converged on him, swarming him as he felt a multitude of hands grip him one by one. A single hand covered his mouth as he started to cast a spell, his voice muffled as he shook, his magic sparking dangerously out of control, the shadow figures seemingly unaffected by the powerful blasts of power.

A final shadowy figure appeared, lithe and beautiful, to the sorcerer's eyes. The man of magic seemed to slacken as the figure began to take on a more earthly appearance. A small figure of a woman, with large blue eyes that stared deeply in the man, smiling seductively towards him. The sorcerer felt calm, despite the hands still gripping him. The woman continued to come into existence, pale skin almost glowing, naked with long white hair falling down past her shoulders. She stepped towards the man, placing her own hands on his chest, smiling.

“So finally one of your kind has come... your magic is strong. It will be more then enough to bring us back... to sustain us,” the woman said, her voice beautiful as the sorcerer slackened more, nodding as much as he could. “The magic of the world that we fed on, as we did long ago.”

Then his eyes darted to the woman's ears. Pointed, rising from her hair at a slight angle, and the sorcerer felt a slight rush of fear, but the calmness that washed over him kept it away, and soon he was wondering why he had even been afraid.

The woman ran her hands up to the man's cheek, the shadow hands of others moving out of her way as she did so, and her blue eyes stared directly into his.

“Thank you human... For your sacrifice... For the Fey.”

The sorcerer's eyes suddenly widened as the woman pulled her hand back, struggling to no use as the Fey female shoved her hand into his chest, and a single scream sounded through the forest, heard by no one as his magic began to disappear, drawn into the Fey herself...

[. . .]

It was a little shop, almost out of the way in the small town that it stood in. It stood a couple stories, it's paint a little old and fading, but a fresh sign had been placed above the door, reading simply 'Adwr and Lei.' On the door itself was another, smaller sign which said they were currently closed, and to inquire about their services the next day.

A carriage came up the road. It was plain looking, with a few ordinary looking horses pulling it. A small coat of arms was on the side of the door, a cross of a quill on top of a sword. It pulled up outside the house, the driver stopping the horses before he tied them to the carriage, then swung off the carriage, knocking on the door.

“We're here, Lady Testarossa,” the driver said. He was an older man, still spry for his age, opening the door and letting down the small step ladder as a young woman stepped out.

“Please, Henry, call me Rumi,” Lady Testarossa said with a sigh, “My parents have been employing you since before I was born.”

The driver, Henry, shook his head, “No can do, Lady. I must give proper respect to those above my station.” Henry had brown hair, graying slightly around the temples and sides, with soft blue eyes that held a calculating expression, as if he was constantly sizing up the situation.

Rumi sighed, shaking her head. An old conversation they had been having ever since Rumi was old enough to speak, and one she had never been able to win. Now was not the time to renew the battle, however. She was on urgent business.

Rumi stepped towards the small shop now, dressed in some traveling pants and shirt. She wore her hair short, at least shorter then most girls of her age, going to about her shoulders, with a raspberry beret atop her head. A single pencil was stuck in her ear. Clutched in her left hand was a small notebook, which Henry glanced at.

“Do you expect trouble, Lady Testarossa?” Henry asked, concern on his face, “Are you quite sure we need these two? I'm sure you could employ someone who is... more reputable.”

“No, I just never know when I might want to sketch a little something, Henry,” Rumi smiled, “But thank you for your concern. And no, I believe these two are who I need. At least, their translator. I hear he managed to crack the ancient dwarven hieroglyphs before even the dwarf historian at the castle.”

“Mmm... I heard he hadn't,” Henry said, rubbing his chin, “And that the historian at the castle got it.”

“Well of course he's going to say he got it first,” Rumi laughed, “Now come on, we're dawdling enough.”

She moved up the small set of stairs towards the door, completely disregarding the closed sign, and knocked. There was no answer, and Henry glanced towards the sign, then towards Rumi, who knocked again.

“Lady...” Henry started, bringing his hand up to point to the sign, but Rumi shook her head, then knocked a third time.

The door opened, an annoyed looking man glancing at them. He was tall, dark skinned with brown eyes that had a slight slant to them, with black hair that seemed disheveled. He wore a basic gray shirt and brown pants.

Henry raised an eyebrow. A man of this one's appearance was rare this far to the north in the Kingdom, and the man stepped outside, then pointed towards the sign, and then made a couple motions with his hand that was lost to Henry.

“Of course I know how to read, but this is far too important to wait,” Rumi said to the man, having apparently understood the motions. The dark skinned man looked surprised, and made further motions, then held out his hand.

“It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Paul Lei. My name is Rumi Testerossa,” Rumi said, taking his hand and shaking it. Henry coughed, speaking up now.

“That is Lady Testerossa, please keep that in mind, young man,” Henry said. “Why do you not talk?”

Paul made a motion with his hands, and Rumi laughed, nodding, then turned to Henry.

“He's mute. Henry. He couldn't say anything if he wanted to. He speaks the hand sign, it's an old form of communication used by soldiers to communicate back in the Old War when they couldn't talk without fear of being heard,” Rumi said to him, “I remember reading about it a few years ago, it seemed like a good skill to pick up.”

Henry sighed. Despite being her bodyguard, Rumi seemed to pick up skills and knowledge he had never heard of, then turned back to Paul, “We have traveled for several days to employ you and your companion, Mr. Lei. Lady Testerossa will have more details for you.”

“Yes, yes, but first, where is the other one? Edda Adwr, I believe?” Rumi asked, looking towards Paul, “You are the translator, correct? You can translate the old dwarven hieroglyphs?”

Paul nodded towards the last part, then made a motion with his hands, finally pointing towards the town. Rumi followed his gaze, then nodded, clapping her hands together.

“Alright then! We'll go get him, and then I can explain the job,” Rumi said with a smile, then took Paul's hand, tugging him suddenly down the stairs and towards the carriage. Henry sighed and closed the door to the shop, then followed after them, opening the door for Rumi once more.

“Thank you Henry,” Rumi said, climbing up into the carriage, turning back to Paul, “Well are you getting in?”

Paul looked towards Rumi, then Henry, who was making a disapproving look. One minute he had been working on translating an old book, a fairly easy task and paycheck, and now this girl had appeared and was dragging him off. Henry had referred to her as a Lady, and their carriage was nice, if plain.

But if you were really rich, you didn't need to flaunt it.

“Lady Testerossa, it is uncouth for you to share a carriage with a young man. He can sit up here with me,” Henry said, “What would your parents say?”

“I don't think they'd care, Henry, they like people,” Rumi said, “Besides, once we pick up Edda, there will be someone else with us, and it'd be silly to have three of you out on the carriage with only me inside. I don't want to be lonely the whole trip.”

Henry sighed, shaking his head and motioning for Paul to enter the carriage. He did, taking a seat across from Rumi, who smiled at him.

“Did you grow up in this area, or south? Or in the east? I have some family in the east myself, a few cousins or seconds cousins, I believe,” Rumi said, “We get letters and send letters to them now and then.”

Paul made a motion with his hands, glancing out the window for a moment, then made another motion.

“Parents were friends so you two became friends, huh?” Rumi said, “I suppose you can get good work here as a translator and a sell sword. The old ruins in the areas the dwarves abandoned, for one...”

The carriage came to a stop, with a knock on the door as Henry called out, “Lady Testerossa, I'm afraid we can't go any further in the carriage. The streets are blocked for some kind of... tournament.”

Paul smiled, shaking his head and silently chuckling. The door opened and Rumi went out first, followed by Paul as she turned her attention to the crowd. In the center of town a small circle was made, wooden boards and haystacks denoting where one should not go, and two figures circled each other in the center. Both of them wore padding and had a dull metal sword used for practice, with a judge standing off and watching them.

“So this is where you said Edda is? Is he competing?” Rumi asked. Paul nodded, his hands moving again.

“Hah! Well he shouldn't have won last year if he didn't want to compete this year,” Rumi laughed, “Is he fighting right now?”

Paul glanced towards the combatants, then nodded, making a couple signs.

“How long will we have to wait? I worry about pickpockets, Lady Testerossa,” Henry said. Paul made another sign, and Rumi nodded at Paul.

“Calling me 'Lady' isn't going to deter any pickpockets, Henry,” Rumi said to Henry, “And this is suppose to be the last fight. Though if Edda wins, the champion apparently has a few other duties to perform...”

Henry frowned, turning his attention back to the fight. “Which one is the young Edda?”

Paul pointed towards the smaller of the figures. Of the two combatants in the ring, one was a large man, with his padding a little too small for him. His sword was larger then Edda's, though just as dull. He had a beard that was braided, and he let out a roar as he charged at Edda.

Edda himself was still fairly tall, though nothing against the mountain of a man he was facing, and a few inches shorter then his friend Paul. His shaggy blond hair could be seen sticking out in places on the padded helmet he wore, and his long sword looked a little too big for him, but he hefted it with ease, dodging the swing of the great sword his opponent gave, bringing his sword up and whacking against the padded leg of the man.

“Point, Champion!” the referee called. The man scowled as he lifted his sword, suddenly finding Edda in front of him again, his fist balled around something. He looked confused, only for Edda to throw his hand forward, dirt from the ground coming from his hand and temporarily blinding the man. He stumbled back, Edda dashing forward and bringing his sword up, stabbing up at the man's throat, coming to a stop a couple centimeters from doing so, before pulling his sword back.

“Killing attack! Winner, the former champion, Edda Adwr!” the referee shouted. Edda stuck the sword in the ground, taking off his helmet and shaking his head, sighing to himself.

The big man rumbled, removing his helmet and stalking up to Edda, one hand rubbing the dirt from his eyes. He grumbled, then held out a hand, and laughed.

“I assumed the villagers here would not have a man who knew how to fight! Thank you for proving me wrong,” the challenger laughed. Edda grinned back, shaking the man's hand.

“Hey, glad there's no hard feelings,” Edda responded, “You are pretty good, but I don't think you usually just fight with a sword.”

“Hrrmmm, perceptive. No, I usually prefer a maul, or a shield with my sword,” the man nodded, “But it is good to branch out.”

Cheers erupted from the crowd, and Rumi frowned, tapping her chin. “I want us to leave as soon as possible. This could be a problem.”

“Do we have a final challenger?” the referee shouted, looking towards the crowd, “Anyone who thinks they can best the champion?”

Henry sighed, then stepped through the crowd, moving quickly before he got to the fence and hay, jumping over it easily and landing in the circle, dusting himself off idly as he stood in the dirt.

“Lady Testerossa requires your presence, young one. Since she can not have you tied up with this, I will challenge you,” Henry said idly, “Single sword combat, you get points from wounding attacks, and can win with a killing attack, yes? Time limit?”

“Well... five minutes is the time limit, yes,” the referee said, glancing towards Edda, who just shrugged, “Very well then, if you're sure, sir. We'll get you some padding and-”

“Not necessary,” Henry said, shaking his head and holding up his hand. “Just need a sword. I'd prefer something light, if possible, perhaps a rapier-like sword.”

“Look, I have no idea who you are, but I'm not going to hold back,” Edda said, “You should wear the padding.”

“It will just slow me down,” Henry said, shaking his head again, “Please, I simply wish to get this over with.”

Edda sighed and turned towards the referee, shrugging, “It's his choice.”

“Alright then,” the referee said, then made a motion to a young boy by a large chest, with other dull swords. The boy looked through it, then produced a long thin rapier, running towards Henry and presenting the sword to him. Henry took it and swung it a few times in the air, then nodded appreciatively.

“Well kept for a practice sword. The weight is good,” Henry said. “Yes, this will do nicely. Do we count down to start, I assume?”

“We do,” Edda said, raising his own practice sword. He eyed the man, wondering if he was good, or just crazy. Possibly some kind of combination. Henry held the sword at his side, eying Edda as the young man took a couple steps, the referee stepping forward.

“Limb hits are one point each. Not immediately lethal hits are three points. Lethal hit is a win. Fight until the time is up, or one scores a lethal hit,” the referee said, “Begin!”

Henry moved forward, taking Edda by surprise, his sword coming up to block the blow, the rapier sliding across the metal as Henry stepped backwards. Edda brought his sword around. Henry's left side was open, and Edda's sword went for the opening.

The blunt metal was stopped by Henry's hand, who grabbed the sword.

“Point, Champi-” the referee declared, stopping when Henry brought the rapier around, attacking quickly with a series of slashes, hitting Edda's right arm, sweeping down to slash across both legs, until he whirled the rapier around and stabbed at Edda's head, stopping a centimeter from his forehead.

“I believe that is my win,” Henry said, letting go of Edda's sword, then shook his left hand, wincing a little, “You really were not holding back, young man. Good for you. Unfortunately, neither was I.”

“Errrr... winner, the challenger!” the referee said, after a brief moment of silence. Edda paused, then laughed, shaking his head.

“I never thought about that! You lost a point to give yourself a chance for a win,” Edda said, “Though I doubt you'd have done that were these sharp.”

“You underestimate what I would do for Lady Testerossa. I am suppose to protect her,” Henry said, sticking his sword into the dirt, Edda doing the same, “Now then, she is over there, and I-”

Now Henry was interrupted as the large man from earlier lifted him up, roaring towards the crowd.

“Looks like you have your champion! Now let us feast, I came partially for that as well!” the large man yelled boisterously, Henry attempting to get free as the villagers yelled with excitement, funneling out of the center of the city and heading towards the annual harvest feast.

Edda laughed, shaking his head as he stripped out of the extra padding, looking up as Paul came forward, Rumi accompanying him. The street was rapidly emptying as the crowd moved towards the feast, giving them all some relative privacy.

“Hey Paul,” Edda said, stretching a little, “Who's this?”

Paul made a few motions with his hands, and Edda nodded, turning to Rumi.

“Well then, nice to meet you, Rumi,” Edda said, sticking out his hand. Rumi took it and they shook, Edda glancing towards Paul once more, “So you have a job for us?”

Rumi smiled, nodding towards them, “I do indeed. I recently found out about a dwarven ruin that was discovered on some property my family owns, a couple days travel from here. Some preliminary looks show that it dates back from the Dwarven War.”

Edda looked interested now, rubbing his chin, “The Dwarven War? Humans destroyed most of the ones in their sieges...”

“Exactly! But this one appears intact, and filled with old dwarven hieroglyphs and other old texts... Well, the hieroglyphs at least, my family has been keeping anyone from going in, but I heard about your friend here and how he knows how to read them,” Rumi said, “Anyone else is an official government worker who'd just curtain it off and not let anyone explore it!”

“Dwarven made artifacts could be sold for a lot of money too...” Edda said, leaning back now as he stared at Rumi.

“And? I'm not interested in that. There's got to be a lot of history in there, and maybe something that can be used to help people. Their aren't many dwarves left, and they don't have much of their history left either,” Rumi said, “It could help them rebuild, and improve relationships with the humans and dwarves.”

Edda looked towards Paul, who held up his hands and signed towards him. He sighed, then nodded.

“Alright, Paul definitely wants to check this place out himself. Consider us hired. You will have to pay for expenses. We can leave tomorrow, since your bodyguard is going to find it difficult to leave the celebrations until then,” Edda said. “There's an inn nearby, you should be able to find a room.”

Rumi shook her head, “Nope, we're leaving as soon as possible. Get the supplies you'll need and we'll be off.”

“But what about your bodyguard guy?” Edda asked, raising an eyebrow.

Rumi waved her free hand dismissively, “Don't worry about Henry, he can look after himself. He'll know where we're headed anyways, so he'll catch up eventually. How long until you are ready?”

Edda and Paul shared a glance, talking it over quickly, both of them shifting to sign as their hands moved rapidly, and they turned back to Rumi.

“Give us an hour. I need to get cleaned up and we need to gather some supplies for the trip,” Edda said, “Is that good?”

Rumi nodded, “I also have some supplies, food and some tents and other things prepared with my carriage.”

“That'll help, but we still have some personal supplies,” Edda said, nodding, “Mind giving us a lift back to our place then?”

“Of course,” Rumi smiled, turning and heading towards the carriage, Edda and Paul sharing a glance.

“So she understands sign too, huh?” Edda said idly, then elbowed Paul, “She's cute.”

Paul just raised an eyebrow at Edda, then rolled his eyes as Edda walked after Rumi, laughing softly to himself.

Cold Iron Chronicles - I
This is not related to the previous fantasy stuff I wrote, but something new. I wanted to do something more focused, without a bunch of plot lines, and keep it with basically a team of characters.

Though there are still more characters to be introduced, muhahahahaha!

Rumi Testarossa is :icondarkphazon395:'s character.

The rest so far are mine.

Please leave a comment if you liked it! Or didn't like it! Let me know what you thought!

Chapter II -> Cold Iron Chronicles - II
Time For School by AGodofIrony
Time For School
Fire and Miji! Fire's the taller girl with the black and red hair, and Miji's the shorter girl with blondish/brown hair!

I imagine Miji is very spontaneous, often dragging her sister in on things, including often dressing up, and Fire just goes along with it.

Miji: Come on, Mom's gonna teach us some stuff, so I got us these to learn with!
Fire: I... don't think you need to wear a uniform like this to learn, Miji...
Miji: But we look so cute!

Fire and Miji are part of The Adventures of Super Kimi and Wonder Sama, which was created and maintained by :icongoldensama:, though I am lucky enough to help contribute to it!
Mother-Daughter Bonding Time by AGodofIrony
Mother-Daughter Bonding Time
From left to right, it's Fire, Aboy, and Miji! All in dresses to... do something! Probably just to have a nice day and not worry about evil or something, I think.

Aboy is Fire and Miji's "mom" as she made both of them, in order to combat Sire and Miki from her world, so Fire and Miji are technically the counterparts to Hammah and Jimi.

Aboy is also probably terrified she's going to screw up and be a bad parent to Fire and Miji and do something bad, but she wants to be the best mom she can to them. And they want to be good daughters for her, and help her in reclaiming their world from the villains.
Bro Fist - Sketch by AGodofIrony
Bro Fist - Sketch
Originally I was thinking of drawing Amelie and Hammah. Decided to draw Amelie and Kasumi instead. They're both fun to draw!

Probably draw Amelie and Hammah tomorrow or something.

Amelie and Kasumi belong to :icontuxedomoroboshi:


AGodofIrony's Profile Picture
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Writer, drawer guy. Mostly just draw for fun, but would like to be a professional writer one day. Should do more of that here.

So this is more of an experiment then anything else, and I mostly wanted to try my hand at it.

I'm going to be taking some cheap point commissions. I'll be taking five right now, and if it works out, I'll think about taking more.


For Sketch

5 Points for Upper Body

10 Points for Full Body

Maximum three characters


Not A Problem - SKETCH by AGodofIrony Levina and Kanna - SKETCH by AGodofIrony Bunny Kimi - SKETCH by AGodofIrony

Sketch + Color

10 Points for Upper Body

15 Points for Full Body

Maximum of three characters


Expectations by AGodofIrony The Fallout Games - Gender Bender by AGodofIrony Cake Sponge by AGodofIrony


25 Points for Upper Body

30 Points for Full Body

Maximum of three characters


Black Jack by AGodofIrony Grudge by AGodofIrony

Digital + Colored Lines

40 Points for Upper Body

50 Points for Full Body

Maximum of three characters

Quickish - Blake Hawkins by AGodofIrony Bunny Time by AGodofIrony What A Twist by AGodofIrony


  1. Human characters only. Sorry, I can't really draw anthros or robots very well.

  2. If the design of the character is overly complicated, I will simplify if needed.

  3. No porn. Scantily clad can be alright though, depending.

  4. I reserve the right to refuse any commission.


1. :iconswayayso:…

2. :icongoldensama:

3. :iconknucxsonia:



  • Mood: Artistic
  • Listening to: Pandora
  • Reading: On The Oceans of Eternity
  • Watching: Sword Art Online
  • Playing: New Vegas

Journal History

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Add a Comment:
Makeamukero Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2014

Thanks for the Llama!

AGodofIrony Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
No probs! I always try to return the llama, so thank you as well for one!
Makeamukero Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2014
You are welcome!
NekoCakeArt Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014
Thank you so much for the watch! ;//v//; ♥
decodenprincess Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
Thank you so much for the donations ^.^
decodenprincess Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2014
Thank you so much for the donations hug  I'll try my best to draw some more for you ^.^ 

:iconluvluvplz: Commission~
BetaoftheBass Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2013  Student Filmographer
thanks for the fav....:3
RedKisuru Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
hi :3 finished your commission - i hope you like it ^-^ [link]
Dr-J33 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Student Writer
Happy birthday! (Hands you a present and leaves)
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