Tag Archives: Ahearn

Jasmine Snippet #93

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

From her perch on a lonely mountain rock, Jasmine watched the outcome of the day’s battle. She desperately wanted to help and paced morosely back and forth from her horse to her vantage point. Oh, how she wanted to turn all those hideous creatures into stone! But without her staff, she felt she did not have the power, or the means. And she faced the truth. Even if she did have her staff, she did not know how to wield it for such a purpose. She felt stupid and ineffective.

Witnessing the Wichtleins’ eventual victory was devastating. She watched in horror as those large menacing men slowly surrounded her protectors. There was a pause in the fighting that opened into a space. They were completely surrounded but instead of killing them, they took their weapons. They captured everything but the staff, which Ahearn held on to tightly.

“What can I do?” she asked out loud, as if she was appealing to the sky. And to her surprise, her plaintive call was answered.

“Listen to the wind” was the response.

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Jasmine Snippet #92

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

The ensuing battle temporarily united Bardulf’s soldiers with Jasmine’s protectors against their non-human foe. The Wichtleins, still uncertain about the magical staff Ahearn held aloft, concentrated their efforts on eliminating the second group of men who’d arrived on horseback.

In the fighting, the Wichtleins slowly closed in on them, noting how the staff held by Ahearn glowed ominously. In the end, superior numbers won the day. By twilight, only Jasmine’s protectors remained alive. Because of their deep superstitions regarding magic, few Wichtleins were willing to engage them.

The day ended with Glynn, Thorne, Ahearn and Rogan completely surrounded, their weapons taken from them. “Guard them.” ordered the Chieftain, who seemed to have something in mind. The Wichtleins began clearing the battleground of all the fallen. Although they had won, three times as many Wichtleins were dead. Cleaning up was a grim affair.

Many Wichtleins were relieved they did not have to deal with the lady in white who had ridden off at the onset of the battle. None would go after her. The land across the bridge was taboo. All Wichtleins who ventured there, never came back. All agreed she would probably share the same fate.

As the dead men were being picked up and all their horses lead away, Glynn praised the valiant efforts of the fallen men, who arrived with the dragon lizard. They were good fighters. Glynn was unsure, but he seemed to recognize one of them. “It was in another place, at another time,” he sighed, “I think we had a drink together. I’d raise one in honor now, if I could…”

Thorne reacted violently when the body of her hawk was picked up. “Don’t touch him!”  she cried, only to be ignored. Then she cursed Jasmine again, under her breath, for the death of Gavin, her sweet, great bird.

Glynn addressed her, “Curse her all you like, but we are alive now because of her.”

Thorne snorted, “How do you figure?”

“Her staff saved us.” Glynn replied as he watched Ahearn whorl the staff around as if it was a fighting stick.  “It’s clearly a weapon, but it’s the only thing they clearly would not touch. They are afraid of it more than they are afraid of us.”

They all looked at Ahearn, who remained focused on looking menacing. Rogan had nothing to say.

At length, they heard the sound of drums in the distance. Ahearn then started talking gibberish. To the accompaniment of drums, he spoke non-words in a commanding way and would keep up the act throughout the night.

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Jasmine Snippet #91

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

When their commander’s massive head was split in two with one cleave of that dwarf’s battle-axe, none of the Witchleins knew what to do. Was this magic, or a mighty warrior? Their second thought was of eating a warrior as mighty as this. They would feast on his strength and fortitude. What a great and honored feast he would make. But until that time, the dwarf still dangerously possessed his warrior’s spirit.

Most Witchleins were only familiar with raids carried out at night, when their victims were asleep. Subduing awake victims during the day seemed to be ill-advised. Most were reassured that as long as Ikvokeg was there to lead and guide the attack, everything would go as smoothly as planned. But Ikvokeg can no longer give them a signal. How do they know when it is the right time to strike?

How did that dwarf warrior know to attack lkvokeg’s spot? Suspicious and overanxious, once they saw and recognized Ahearn as he rode in, one of them cried, “Dock-far person meat!” They all then prematurely left their hiding places in the rocks above. They were not in any hurry but by the time they reached level ground, there was another group to fight.

*  *  *

Jasmine remained on her horse, still stunned by her encounter with the dragon-lizard. Ahearn quickly rode up from behind, and grabbed Jasmine’s arm to pull her attention back to the here and now. His touch shook her out of her dazed state and Jasmine realized the danger all around them. She realized Thorne was cursing her.

“Ride ahead, princess…” Ahearn said with an air of authrity, “ride until you see a bridge to the right and take it!”

“What?” was all Jasmine could muster as a reply.

Ahearn grabbed the Staff of Erlkyng,”Trust me!” he said, “I’ll, ah … we’ll join you later. Now GO!”

He slapped the rear of Jasmine’s horse and the animal gladly distanced itself from the fray. Having witnessed Jasmine heal the winged creature, the Wichtleins allowed her to ride past unharmed. She was magical. But Ahearn was another matter. They closed in on him.

Knowing he’d be caught up in the fighting, Ahearn held Jasmine’s staff aloft for all to see. “Magic! Magic!” he kept repeating.

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Jasmine Snippet #87

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Ahearn was uneasy. All morning Rogan had monopolized Jasmine’s attention, thwarting his intentions on several counts. First, he wanted to ride closer to Jasmine, more towards the front of the caravan. He had not expected the group to act so jovial. It made it harder on his conscience to carry out his devious plan. Jasmine was usually walled up inside that cloak of hers. It was going to be so easy. Just grab the reins of her horse and they’d be out of there before the ambush commenced. He smirked at the thought that their last memories of him would be in gratitude that he successfully rescued Jasmine from their fate.

The hawk spotted something. They had not yet arrived at the ambush site, which was nearby. Ahearn felt excitement. The trap was nearly ready to be sprung, but for that damned bird.

The hawk’s piercing screams were answered by another more disturbing call, which sounded like a cross between a crocodile and a lion’s roar. Everyone surged ahead to try to see what was happening.

When he caught a glimpse of it, Glynn shouted an alarm. It was Gryth, the creature Jasmine spoke about only last night. “Beware!” He shouted, “Bardulf’s soldiers are nearby! Ride ahead to the opening in the trees. Well make our stand there.” At Glynn’s urging, everyone charged ahead.

Ahearn was stunned. This was a possibility he had not planned for. They were riding at top speed towards the ambush site. This was all wrong. The cannibals are apt to believe he double-crossed them. At first, he just intended to slow things down by getting in front of everyone. Then, damned if he didn’t sense the vibration of earth being pounded by hooves behind them! He charged past Rogan, almost knocking Rogan and his horse into the brush.

Glynn arrived at the point where the road opened up into an incredible vista with a blue sky. The sun nearly blinded everyone who emerged from the thicket. When Glynn reached this place, he was dismounting to find a place among the rocks and shouted instructions for Jasmine to find a hiding place as well.

Before Jasmine could respond, they heard the blood-curdling cries of two creatures locked in mortal combat and Thorne screaming from behind, the name of her pet.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #85

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

In the wee hours of the morning, Ahearn had been first to arrive back at the forest camp. After a few words with Glynn, Ahearn settled in with his horse, using his saddle for a backrest. Rogan arrived just before dawn and pretty much did the same. Glynn did not see any need to break camp before the return of the warrior maiden. He was sure she would show up, eventually. He was prepared to wait the whole next day, if necessary. He felt better if they did not move.

Glynn decided not to worry about the sudden appearance of any flying dragon lizard. Like many creatures, the louder someone is, the more they are bluffing. Unless it could spit fire or sting, the most it could do was to bite and claw. Glynn was positive a well-aimed arrow could stop it mid-flight.

When Thorne finally arrived in the early morning, she brought with her a loud surprise. The camp was treated to the piercing sounds of a hawk. Woken from the deep slumber, confused, Glynn allowed himself, he immediately fumbled for his weapon. He looked for a small dragon but only saw a large bird. When he was finally able to collect his wits about him, Glynn saw Thorne in the company of a large hawk.

“I helped to raise this proud, beautiful majestic bird.” she said, petting the bird’s breast feathers with the side of her index finger, “Gavin will help us navigate what’s ahead in the deep dark forest, won’t you, Gavin?” Jasmine was delighted, Glynn, interested. Rogan showed mild surprise and Ahearn, consternation.

However, by the time everyone was underway, they left more jovial. That’s because Thorne had another surprise up her sleeve. She remembered to replenish food stuffs for the group and, uncharacteristically, did something Rogan thought was impossible. She made breakfast of her own accord. Nobody, save Rogan, had tasted anything like the unexpected treat of Armildian cooking.

The dishes used sharp spices cooked with exotic-tasting, colorful fruits, nuts and bread. It was also nourishing, completely satisfying and delicious. Suddenly the morning’s usual start changed into a more optimistic adventure. Thorne was amazed at how well food always contributed so quickly towards feelings of comradrie. Using food was a trick Thorne learned to use if she wanted to gain control and advantage in small group situations.

For the first forty minutes, Rogan spoke exclusively to Jasmine, giving her a taste of his full court treatment. Glynn rolled his eyes, but Jasmine seemed to enjoy the talk. Thorne felt a chill as she watched Rogan lavish such courtly language and admiring attention upon the lass. Thorne became so intent on listening to his conversation, she nearly forgot to launch Gavin.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #84

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Solshigtr turned his attention to two older people and a woman his age and conferred with them. Solshigtr resumed his composure and walked towards Ahearn. Ahearn was considered tall, but the Witchleins were more than a foot taller. The chieftain towered above him. Looking down upon Ahearn, Solshigtr spoke, “How will you save our lives?”

Ahearn said one word, and so very softly so that only the chieftain could hear him. He spoke that word gingerly, as if uttering it revealed a great and awe-encompassing truth. “Magic.” He said as he let the word linger on his lips.

Ahearn followed his hushed utterance with a louder pronouncement, “It is your own fault if you get hurt by the dwarf or anyone else with weapons. But you have no defense against the magic of the maiden.” He lingered on the word, “magic.” The Witchleins stirred uneasily. They did not like what they heard and disagreed. They did not belief the maiden was capable of magic.

Ahearn quieted them after he reminded them the maiden carried a powerful staff. No one could argue the truth of that statement. Since a female held it, they had not focused upon the possible purpose behind her control of the staff. It seemed to them, Ahearn might have a point.

“Alright, what is your bargain? Solshigtr asked at last.

“Yes!” Ahearn congratulated himself, letting out a small sigh of relief. In that moment, Ahearn achieved success. He became a person to these tribesmen. For all that, he merely bargained safe passage for himself and the “magic  maiden” while the rest were left to fend for themselves.

“So we feast on the bones of your companions, while you and the female go free?”

Ahearn nodded grimly. “They are not persons to me.”

Satisfied, a time and place for the ambush was set. Not surprizingly, they chose their usual ambush place, a large cleared, inviting spot, near the location of sacred land on the other side of a gully connected by an old bridge. The main road continued onward past the bridge. The site happened to be a little more than an hour further up the road from where they stopped for the night. In fact, the Witchleins expected the party of travelers to have made it all the way to their ambush site that night.

The cannibals carefully kept the road trimmed with thorny bushes and brambles. They were massively disappointed when Jasmine’s party decided to travel no further and set up camp where they stood. This was unexpected. The Wichtleins could not conceive of anyone camping in the middle of the road. Attacking during the day was never their preference. Mid-night attacks were so much more effective to carry out, and much easier — especially when their victims were asleep.   

After striking his bargain, the Dark Elf returned to where Jasmine and Glynn rested for the night. Once he settled in, he slept so soundly, he scarcely heard Rogan arrive.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #83

Notes continue for The Story of Jasmine:

As soon as Ahearn excused himself from camp, he headed straight toward the Lair of the Wichtleins, a disturbing tribe of people who were not above cannibalism. Ahearn had encountered tribes like this before in this primordial forest, when he traveled with his brother, Aiden (it seemed) ages ago. Through Aiden, he knew a lot about what to expect. His brother told him the Wichtlein tribes exercised a strict code of conduct and were comprised of three or four extended families.

Ahearn was fortunate to remember what those tribes loved and what they feared. Wichtleins loved to trade. Deep down, they were all mercenaries. Ahearn needed to think of something they were willing to trade for. If he had something they wanted, they’d fall in and act as any other merchants would and barter.

His brother Aiden was the first to negotiate a deal with the Wichtlein clans on behalf of the Dockalfarians. It happened in the northern part of this dark forest. In exchange for sacks of thick wine fermented from the fruit of a koaklula tree, Aiden bade them collect information. Essentially, the ever-curious Witchleins were recruited as spies. That’s how The Dockalfarians received every scrap of news, including what was happening in neighboring lands.

Once Ahearn was shuffled in front of the chieftain, the chieftain spoke, “I do not have a contract with you. You are not a person to me.” The Wichtlein code had a litany of phrases and formal declarations they would go through, always ending with “… You are not a person…” Aiden advised never to wait until after the recitation ended.

So Ahearn jumped right in, interrupting them immediately, “But oh, I AM a person AND a friend to you, Chief Solshigtr.” Ahearn was just as masterful at word inflection as Rogan. The chieftain was startled that his personal name had been spoken, and involunarily backed away. Ahearn looked at him cooly and without emotion. He excelled at this. Fortunately, he knew enough of the Wichtlein’s language to catch the chieftain’s name. Knowing and using the Chieftain’s name properly was imperative for Ahearn’s success.

Deciding to take things one step further, Ahearn repeated his words again, only this time, more slowly, and in their coded language. He only knew this important greeting phrase because his brother made him memorize it. For years, the phrase served as the brothers’ secret password. It was a password still, of sorts. Ahearn recited it beautifully in combination with the name of  Solshigtr.

Ahearn remembered something Aiden always bragged, “Only persons of wit and cleverness will survive their first meeting.” Ahearn shuddered to recall another thing his brother warned, “there are never any hostages.” Since Aiden’s success, the Dockalfarians discovered that lawyers and merchants had the best instincts to deal successfully with these ritualistic cannibalistic tribes.

Success would be his only if they asked him to bargain. To survive the meeting, it was vital Ahearn use their codes to his advantage. To them, only Wichtleins were persons. They could never eat a person. The only ones outside their tribe who could achieve person status were negotiators/traders. To receive recognition to negotiate meant one was a person. Hence, Ahearn meant to win person status, determined to be categorized as “not meat” to these savages.

The Chief informed Ahearn they had been aware of them long before they entered the woods. “Friend, Solshigtr,” Ahearn answered, “I know you believe that I have nothing to bargain because my life is already yours.” Chief Solshigtr nodded and smiled.

“But,” Ahearn continued, “my bargain is to save your lives not mine…”

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #79

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

In the meanwhile, right before the bright terrain transitioned into a darker woodland, Thorne suddenly decided to leave the group and ride south. She said she wanted to reach the nearest Armildian outpost. Everyone wondered the same thing. Why had Thorne just now developed a desperate need to receive news of her people? Why didn’t she just turn south at the crossroads when she had then chance? Thorne profusely reassured everyone that she planned to return and would catch up with them soon, perhaps the next morning.

While everyone focused their attention saying their ‘adieus’ to Thorne, Rogan disappeared. He just slipped noiselessly away. From the tracks, Ahearn concluded Rogan had moved in a direction opposite to Thorne. So it was up to the three of them — Ahearn, Glynn and Jasmine — to enter a dark, foreboding forest, which sat, like a wall on the edge of the great plains.

The woods quickly gave way to forest. The canopy of the branches became so dense, it was difficult to tell when evening fell. They decided to make camp as soon as possible and searched for a clear space to accommodate one. As it turned out, they could not find any suitable place because an excess of thorns and brambles always seem to trim the road.

Jasmine felt a desperate need to stop and just halted at a place where the road slightly widened. Before a warming fire could be managed, Ahearn announced he wanted to scout ahead and he slipped away into the dark.

“They’ve all gone.” Jasmine said to Glynn, who nodded.

“But they’ll be back.” Glynn reassured her.

Then she shared with a sigh,”When we were on the plains, it felt as if I could be picked up by the winds and blown away. I did not dare to let go of my horse for fear of it. In these woods, I feel I’m safe from that.”

“Yes,” Glynn acknowledged, “I knew you were having problems in the wide open.”

“It’s one of the effects of the ring.” Jasmine relayed, “It seems as if I am in the midst of a beautiful landscape. I am traveling on the same road as everyone else, but it appears I am the only one who sees a different world entirely.

“I seem to be going in and out between this world and another. The other world is superimposed on this one. It’s very disconcerting. The ring takes me away to this place. Does it seem to you as if I disappear?”

“No. Never. You’ve always been riding. It’s your imagination. But you do seem like you’re in a trance at times. But long rides tend to do that, so I had not been too concerned.”

Glynn became nervous about where the conversation was leading, so he launched into a nervous litany of what he noticed about his fellow travelers, “In fact, that Ahearn fellow was tranced out most of the time too. But the red one, yeah, that one was always alert to everything around him. I’d call him hyper-vigilant. Shadows disturbed him the most. Yes, he was always accounting for any shadow’s shape, seeing if it matched its source. It’s as if he thought there were eyes everywhere upon him and wanted to know everywhere they were.”

“And Thorne?” Jasmine said, “what was her demeanor?”

Glynn hesitated. A glint in his eye betrayed a thought he dare not utter. “The warrior girl? Let’s see. She was possessed of herself she was. Always aware, but deeply keeping her own thoughts to herself.” Then he winked, “She wouldn’t be too fun at a tavern.”

As he said that, he thought one could never be sure about someone’s actions after a drink or two… Stirring the fire, Glynn became lost to his thoughts for awhile.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #62

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Glynn was glad to finally have a moment to himself, as he watched the trio disappear into the darkness. To tend to their animals, they had to move away from the temple boundaries.

He thought about his prophecy and how certain phrases in in it, could be meaningful to this situation.

‘As a warrior lives, a warrior dies,

But you will glide on the wings of the skies.

When the Axe-wolf of Winter’s made the land lean,

Seek out the white flower Jasmine.

In the shrine where the white rocks rise,

This is where your destiny lies…’

“This is the place where the white rocks rise. And I’m in a temple shrine.” Glynn said to himself. His future would be decided on this very spot. Everything depended on how the next moments played out. He’d already taken measures to secure the place.  He did not know what it all meant. With this time to himself, he thought about the people he’d encountered during the night.

It seemed to Glynn that everyone kept a secret. The red-headed man who stepped in to freely lend his horse and his sword had been immensely helpful. He would not have known anything about the danger to the girl if it was not for Rogan. But how did he figure in all this?

Clearly, the man was a buffoon, or at least he played one. Remembering his hand gestures when the three of them spoke, Glynn concluded Rogan was a manipulator accomplished in the art of court-tricks. Glynn observed how he tried to mesmerize his audience of two. He felt lucky this type of magic was lost on him. Yet, to have a persuasive person working with you in your group would be a powerful asset – if if could be harnessed and if Rogan could be trusted.

And what about the dark elf? Why was he here and where was he most recently? That man was not a mercenary like he claimed. His manner and bearing did not match a fighter-for-hire. Glynn ought to know. Nor did he believe Ahearn’s story about just arriving from the west. Clearly, he knew more about things then he let on.

Glynn recalled talk of an entourage of Dockalfarians that came through the area not too long ago. Glynn surmised the man must be a survivor from that group. They had fought in some of the skirmishes on the side of UR. He wondered what happened to them when UR fell. Were they taken prisoner? Dead? Or was it each man for himself as this one’s presence suggested?

He did not know what to think of Thorne. He admired her battle readiness, the way she charged in and took control, even with the odds against her. Out of the group, he trusted her the most, though not by much.

“We are not all here by chance,” Glynn decided. Whether by magic or fate or prophecy, they all had a role to play together. Normally, Glynn would never consider linking himself with such people, but it seemed providence had other ideas.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #61

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Ahearn suddenly leapt forward and snatched the ribbon from Thorne’s hand to have a better look at it. He then took off upstream to see what else he could find. Rogan and Thorne exchanged glances and casually followed. They observed Ahearn franticly search. At length, he spied something on the bank near a waterfall and made his way toward it. He grabbed the cloak, and put it up to his face. Breathing it in, he detected a faint smell of perfume.

At this point, the sun peeked over the horizon, changing the purple shades of night into the rosy orange pastels of dawn. When Ahearn noticed more clothing suspended in the water, he dropped the cloak and retrieved it.

Ahearn spread the cloak and frock on the bank to get a better look. By this time, Thorne and Rogan caught up and the three of them inspected the items of clothing he found. Ahearn furrowed his brow, but he kept silent.

Rogan observed, “You know more than you are letting on.” Ahearn ignored him.

“These clothes where not made for just any maiden.” Thorne said as she inspected the items, “These have seen a lot of wear, but their workmanship is very fine. They definitely belonged to a woman of the court, most likely UR.”

“Really?” Rogan said and started to look at the fabric as well as the stitching, “then the rumors were true. Bardulf’s men were in the right place!”

“Which means more of them will be coming.” Thorne observed.

“Where did she go?” Ahearn muttered. He searched the entire area for footprints and even made his way behind the waterfall to discover a possible passage or place of refuge but found nothing.

When Ahearn finally returned to them, Thorne commented,”She’s probably alive. Look – there is no blood on the clothing.” Then she turned to Rogan and said, “The owner of this dress may actually be your white maiden.”

Rogan said, “we need to get back to Glynn and find out what he knows.”

“No,” warned Thorne firmly, “we need to get out of here.”

Rogan replied, “Yeah, you’re right, we’re wasting time here. Let’s get back to the horses, and decide then.” Rogan and Thorne headed back along the steep bank. Ahearn followed, but not before he placed the dress inside the dry cloak to carry with him.

© 2018 DARLENE