Tag Archives: Ahearn

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

Jasmine Snippet #60

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

After their horses were satisfied and their water containers replenished, Rogan turned to Thorne. “Alright,” he said, “you got us away from the dwarf. What do you wish to discuss?”

“No, you misunderstand. I only wanted to water my horse.”

The Dockalfarian interceded, “And yet, here we all are.”

Thorne cocked her head and smiled, “So, you two want MY counsel? No, I think it is you who have something to say.”

Rogan, normally exercising such excellent control over himself, suddenly cracked. His eyes grew big, he put his hands on his head and cried, “Oh! It’s so hard to describe what I saw last night!…”

Thorne was alarmed at his sudden mood swing, but urged him to continue, “What did you see?”

“I saw those soldiers turn into stone! All of them…all at once! It all happened in a burst of light! It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed. The dwarf saw it too…”

“Calm yourself!” Thorne counseled in a firm voice.

After a short pause, Rogan continued, “While we fought the soldiers, a maiden appeared. She was dressed in white with flowing blonde hair. She stood above us all at the top of the ruins. She enchanted the soldiers with her strange voice. It was like she spoke with 100 voices. The effect she had on those men froze them in place. Somehow, I was still able to move, but those men couldn’t. They just stood there, giving me time to retreat to the woods.”

Rogan’s eyes seemed to be in a far-off place as he recalled, “then she began humming. It was a most incredible sound. And the humming only got louder and more intense. I could close my ears to it because I could move. But that humming was more than just sound. I could also feel a vibration coming up from the ground through my feet. The sound pulsed until it became a big explosion of light and blinded me!”

“What?”

“When the moon came out, I could finally focus. The White Maiden was gone from her place on the roof. What happened to her? I don’t know. Was she a flesh and blood woman or was she a phantom of this temple? Could she disappear into thin air?”

“The dwarf, what happened to him?”

Rogan answered, “For a long time, I did not see the dwarf. But I didn’t expect to. He turned up later. We did not get a chance to discuss what we saw before you wandered in. Everything is complicated. I think he has some type of prior relationship with the maiden.”

“How do you know this?” Ahearn interrupted.

“Because it was I who made him hurry here from the Inn in Oxted. I was having a good time drinking with him. We shared stories and I repeated the recent rumors I heard. When I happened to mention that soldiers were looking for a girl on the White Throne Mountain, he got up and made to leave. I thought this reaction was so curious. The fellow would have run here the entire way if I hadn’t offered him a lift on my horse. I just wanted to have a look.”

Ahearn interrupted, “Do you trust the dwarf?”

Looking askance at Ahearn, Thorne replied, “Who trusts anyone?” Ahearn had no time to respond when Thorne cries out, “Ha!” She reached into the flowing stream. “I have your answer! It was no phantom you saw – she’s flesh and blood alright. Look.” Thorne triumphantly pulled a ribbon from the stream and showed it to Rogan.

“That is all the more worrisome.” He replied solemnly.

“Why? A flesh and blood woman can easily be dealt with.” Thorne offered confidently.

Rogan shook his head, “You did not experience what I did. You have no idea of the immerse power I felt in my bones. It was truly something to behold. Mark my words, this power is to be befriended, not challenged.”

© 2018 DARLENE

 

Jasmine Snippet #52

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Glynn was unsure about many things. He was still unsure about Rogan, the red-headed stranger, who rode and fought alongside him. With only a few words, Rogan quickly quelled the woman warrior’s attack. She immediately put down her weapon. Obviously, they knew each other. Glynn understood she had followed him from the Oxted Inn. Rogan chided the battle-maiden, “You’ll use any excuse to don your armor.” Together, they were suspicious.

Ahearn silently observed. Glynn noticed Thorne’s arrival was not too far behind the dark elf’s sudden appearance. He smelled trouble with that one. He considered the possibility all three of them were in cahoots. But to what end? All that notwithstanding, uppermost in his mind, he was unsure about what he had witnessed earlier and what it meant.

When they arrived here, he and Rogan were ambushed by Bardulf’s men. They were in the heat of battle when a figure dressed in white appeared, high above them on the roof. From her elevated platform, she called a halt to the fighting. The soldiers stood spell-bound at the sight of her. Dressed in white, the figure was luminous. She seemed to shine as brightly as the moon behind her.

While the soldiers became entranced, he and Rogan took the opportunity to slip away. Rogan went into the tangled brush while he headed straight for the building. Only when he heard her speak was he certain the figure on the roof was Jasmine.

With a ringing voice, Jasmine ordered the soldiers to “leave this holy place.”

One of the soldiers, probably the Captain, found his tongue and responded, “Not til we get what we came for.”

“I will not come you,” Jasmine said calmly, “what you seek no longer exists.”

“You are no ghost,” he replied confidently and ordered his men to advance to her position.

“Do not come any further.” She commanded, but the Captain re-issued his orders. He snickered when she said, “This is your final warning.”

Glynn, standing near her position, underneath, got ready to defend her when a brilliant light illumined the scene. For several moments, it seemed as if the afternoon sun had replaced the black of night. As the ruins became brightly lit, the soldiers were blinded, and cried out. Then everything fell silent. And the darkness returned.

Above him, Glynn saw Jasmine teeter. When she swooned, he moved in to catch her and broke her fall. Only after she was safely in his arms, did he pull his attention away from her. After his eyes readjusted to the dark, he was amazed to see all the soldiers standing in place, unmoving. None had advanced. Nothing moved, except for Rogan, who emerged from the underbrush.

He watched Rogan cautiously move to the soldier closest to him. Glynn heard Rogan gasp, when he touched the soldier. The man was frozen in shock. A small push easily toppled the figure, causing a startled Rogan to jump back and cry out in what Glynn figured was the name of his god. The soldiers, every one of them, had been turned to stone.

Glynn turned his attention back to Jasmine and regarded her with wonder. Her glistening skin was paler than usual. And she was hot to the touch. She whispered to him that she needed to rest in the inner sanctum and directed him where to take her inside the temple walls.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #51

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

“Well, if that don’t beat all!” the dwarf cried to his Nôr-man companion, “Here we are – all strangers, but each one of us happen to be men-for-hire and on this very day, we all find ourselves on this mountain, unbidden!”

The Nôr-man bent down to whisper something to the dwarf, who shifted his stance, “So,” he said, “you hail from Dockalfar?”

Ahearn nodded.

The Nôr-man spoke for the first time, “What do you know of UR?”

Ahearn decided to pretend not to know anything and related what he knew when he first arrived in the south lands some time ago. “UR presently seeks to destroy a threat to its Kingdom.”

“Then you are too late to help them, my friend. UR has fallen.”

“Fallen?” Ahearn feinted disbelief.

“Have you not seen Bardulf’s soldiers about?” The Nôr-man asked him.

“Do they look like this?” Ahearn replied, pointing to the statues. “Then, no.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “But it seems to me you two are well equipped to deal with any enemies. I have told you who I am. Do me the courtesy to do the same. I would like to know what type of company I find myself within.”

All during this time, Ahearn’s horse had inched stealthily nearer to him, only moving when clouds obscured the moonlight. When Ahearn’s sword also came within reach, the Nôr-man casually stepped forward and grabbed the reins with a sure horse-friendly hand.

“Ah, yes,” Ahearn thought to himself as he remembered. The Nôr-man were as accomplished as his own countrymen when it came to training their horses. Unfortunately, the Nôr-man was aware of horse tricks like this.

Ahearn knew if he asked directly, he’d be putting his cover story at risk. No matter how long it took, he was determined to find out if the princess was inside the still-intact parts of the temple. And if so, was she a prisoner?

The two were just about to introduce themselves, when a rider in full armor, brandishing a sword swiftly galloped on the scene. The dwarf whirled around and shouted, “Friend or foe?”

In one smooth motion, the warrior was off her horse with weapon swinging. Thorne cries, “Foe!”

Jasmine Snippet #50

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

“Heigh Ho! Friend or foe?” Ahearn looked in the direction of the call. His sword was still strapped to his horse and he would not be able to retrieve it in time.

He held up his weaponless hands and replied, “Friend!”

The moon had disappeared again. Ahearn heard some bustling within the chamber and then the slow advance of footsteps. “Nothing will happen to you if you are, indeed, a friend.” Ahearn noticed the stocky figure approaching him was a mature dwarf with a graying beard and piercingly clear eyes.

The dwarf had on his person several daggers and a great battle-axe hung at his side in the customary way mercenary dwarf warriors wore them. What’s more, still stained with fresh blood, this battle-axe had recently been used. Ahearn noted his proud bearing as he spoke. “Who are you and what is your business here?”

Noticing a second man off to his left, Ahearn answered, “I’m a mercenary soldier, much like yourself.” Ahearn immediately launched into the cover story he had prepared for himself earlier when he began his quest to find the lost princess.

When he had finished, the dwarf asked, “Who do you work for?”

“Unemployed at the moment. I am in service to none. I intend to inquire for some work, in Oxted but have not make it that far.”

“You say you are not coming from Oxted, but are traveling towards Oxed?”

“Yes, from the west,” Ahearn lied, “from the north-west, if you must know! Now may I ask what all his is about?” The dwarf had already backed down and signaled to the man who stood watching in the shadows.

With his hand on the hilt of his sword, the man approached them. As he got nearer, Ahearn saw he had fiery red hair and beard. There was no mistaking him. This was one of the Nôr-men of Roth. Ahearn was surprised to see him. The Nôr-men of Roth infrequently ventured beyond their own borders and, to his knowledge, never this far south.

The Velgrath Mountains stood between their two kingdoms in the north. Ahearn reasoned that if he could recognize one of the Nôr-men, he could just as easily be identified as a Dockalfarian.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #49

On-going notes for “The Story of Jasmine”:

Ahearn judged it to be well after midnight by the time he reached his destination, the temple the Guardians had talked about. All during his ride, the moon shone brightly and illuminated the landscape for far distances. But after his arrival to the white mountain, the clouds became shrouded in a thick bank of clouds.

The moon was still hidden when he finally arrived in the area of the temple. He dismounted. With reins in hand, he slowly lead the rest of the way to the buildings in ruin. Among the ruins, he passed many stone statues. It seemed to him they resembled soldiers, but not ancient ones. These statues became more numerous when he entered the temple grounds.

The moon came out as Ahearn was examining one such face. The sudden illumination accentuated the look of astonishment frozen upon the stone faces. The startling effect unnerved him. This had been a recent occurance.

He knew this because he recognized one of the statues to have been a particularly gruesome foe. “One of Bardulf’s men, from the look of it.” He thought grimly. Once before, he had encountered something like this, and recently. A stone statue of a woman stood in front of the cave opening in the grotto. Surely, this could not be coincidence.

To make more sense of the scene, Ahearn left his horse to walk around each figure and examined the the foot tracks that once belonged to them. The surprised gaze of each statue was turned upward to a place near the top of the building. He was about to approach what looked like the main temple, when a voice halted him.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #47

The Story of Jasmine Notes continue:

1980 Sketches of the Guardian of Wisdom

1980 Sketches from the same page.

As they watched Ahearn retreat, one of the Guardians expressed what the others were all thinking, “He believes we helped him.” They shook their heads sadly, albeit knowingly. On that day, Ahearn, the son of the present Dockalfarian King Lord, allowed a valuable encounter to slip away. Had he only asked the Guardians of Wisdom key questions about his own future, certain hardships awaiting him in his path could be avoided.

They gave him plenty of time. They spent hours with him.  They answered his curiosity about their own history. They even prompted him. Too bad he kept asking the wrong questions. Too bad he did not recognize this as a rare opportunity to learn some little-known truths regarding his own history. How can he make informed choices if he doesn’t gain some perspective? Too bad the young prince does not know that he, too, has a destiny to fulfill. But mostly, it’s too bad he’ll have to painstakingly discover for himself what it means to be a Dockalfarian prince.

The Guardians slowly departed and returned to their customary cells and tasks. They all felt the same way. This time, none bothered to voice the truth: “Who, save for a wizard, has ever asked the right questions?”

The Truth protects itself. The Guardians of Wisdom had always believed that, but now they were experiencing doubts. The stealing of the Tome of Wisdom was something they had not foreseen. In the following days, the wisest Guardian would share his counsel: “Although the secrets contained within the book have been spilled, the Truth will protect itself in ways we can never predict. The only truth we know is that the Tome is no longer in our hands. This means it must have a greater part to play in the shaping of our future.”

He urged everyone to continue their on-going chronicling activities and watch what would unfold.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #46

Notes from The Story of Jasmine continue:

Jasmine Faction card of Ahearn from the “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

With the gathering of the handful of survivors left, Ahearn mourned the loss of those Bardulf had struck down. Though he could never condone Bardulf’s actions, he could understand Bardulf’s anger. He did not like it either when he was told the princess was essentially unavailable. Ahearn realized Bardulf had the same stake in the matter as he: the Kingdom of UR. The Kingdom would belong to any man who succeeded in marrying this particular pawn. Take the princess out of the equation and, and … success would be much harder to achieve.

Jasmine was the name of the star-like white flowers that bloomed at the grotto at the entrance. The Guardian kept referring to her as “Jasmine.” The Guardian volunteered some important information. It was completely unnecessary for Ahearn to retrace “Jasmine’s” exact path underground. The Guardians freely told Ahearn precisely where they told her to go. All he needed to do was to head for The Great White Throne mountain to an old temple situated there. It was a ride a little past Oxted,

Bidding the Guardians farewell, he turned to leave. Then he paused. Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out some coins as a gesture of appreciation. Placing the coins in the elder Guardian’s wrinkled hands, he thanked them again for their trouble and for their information. “For candles,” he said. The Guardians of Wisdom graciously accepted the offering and bowed.

Returning back to the grotto above ground, Ahearn was grateful to see his well-rested horse. He found the animal undisturbed and still waiting on him. Ahearn could not discern for how long he had stayed underground. Within the cave, conversing with the remnant of the Guardians left, time seemed to pass at a slower rate — if it had passed at all. After a short but happy reunion with his equine companion, it did not take long before Ahearn was mounted. Soon, he and his horse were winding their way back to the main road.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #45

The notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

The “Crystal Caverns” Castle Card from Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game.

True to his word, the little old man was filled with information. Ahearn spent several hours conversing with him. For someone who did not get out to socialize very much, the little man was charming and affable. Ahearn came to understand that Bardulf was still somewhere within the cave system, lost. They monitored his progress. At first, he went in circles. Then he “discovered” a passage that took him well beyond what the Guardian considered their borders. The latest report had Bardulf nearing the dwarven mine settlement off to the northwest.

When Ahearn asked about the Great Book that had gone missing, he was told it was started by the wizard Erlkyng with the intent it be presented to the “lad” to learn everything about defeating his enemies. He chuckled. Erlkyng expected the result of his magic would produce a son. They all thought that. But as fate would have it, a daughter was born! So everything Erlkyng wrote in the book addressed a lad. Until recently, the Tome of Wisdom had been safely stored away in the Crystal Caverns.

“We had only brought the book out of the Crystal Caverns to show the lass. We were so excited for her to see the resources that were prepared for her success…”

Curious, Ahearn interrupted, “The Crystal Caverns?”

“The Crystal Caverns were a refuge to the wizard Erlkyng,” one of the Guardians told him. Ahearn bade him continue, “We were good company for each other. Our kind live a long life and we’ve seen a lot. We shared with him many secrets that he found of use. He urged us to record all we knew into a great volume of knowledge. He told us this practice would give our lives purpose. We accepted his challenge and have been expanding the knowledge within Erlkyng’s book ever since.

“The Tome of Wisdom contains all of the secrets of the Mid-Realm. Now that it’s out of our hands, we fear the worst for the Mid-Realm. If used in a selfish way, the information can easily be used to destroy. Now it’s in the hands of a man who loves gaining power through manipulation, dabbles with the power of magic, feels superior over others and who kills indiscriminately and without remorse. I’m now sorry we agreed to write anything at all.”

The Guardian of Wisdom became solemn and kept silent for a long time after he voiced those words. Indeed, the stealing of the Tome of Wisdom was something to ponder. If Bardulf was this powerful without the Tome, just imagine how much more powerful a book of secrets will make him. The Guardian was right. This news pointed to something much more devastating than a maiden forgetting she was a princess.

He did not fully understand what the Guardian meant when he spoke of “Jasmine” being an intricate part of a decades long plan to defeat the evil that has been creeping down from the west.

It further confused Ahearn when the Guardian spoke of her destiny as something beyond a princess. Didn’t her birthright matter? How could anything change the fact that she was the daughter of a King? As a prince, he himself knew very well he was subject to certain rules of tradition. He was subject to certain obligations expected of him by his father and those ruled by him How could this princess not be subject to the same rules?

Thinking about the princess was always troublesome. Although she was fair to look at, he did not really like her. He considered her to be the worst type of maiden — spoiled, head strong, ill-humored, manipulative, and rude. Yet, he did not recognize the same traits in himself. The princess’s worth to him and his country was political. Her only redeeming quality as a person was the fact of her blood. All she had to do was to exist. She did not have to be deserving. She did not have to be nice. It would not matter. She would still be Queen.

© 2018 DARLENE