Tag Archives: Rogan

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 #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 #76

The notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Two Wind Special Cards from “The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

Everyone had just finished breakfast and were about to break camp when Glynn announced, “We have a slight change of plan. We will not be taking the north road after all. We will continue westward.”

All three companions objected at once, as if the idea was unthinkable. Thorne said, emphatically, “Those lands are much too close to a dangerous and merciless enemy!”

Ahearn bellowed forth with, “Don’t you know there are pockets of cannibals in those parts?” Rogan simply agreed with them both.

“I need to be at a council of the Winds.” Jasmine told them solemnly. Before she walked off, she said, “I cannot help the Meeting Place of the Winds, is in treacherous lands. A dream has called me to visit them at this place and I seem to know the way. If fear prevents you from following me, you are free to part ways and travel where ever you will. But Glynn and I will be traveling westward. We are not afraid.”

Ahearn, Thorne and Rogan looked at each other in stunned amazement. Glynn and Jasmine had already moved off in the space it took to recover themselves. Did Jasmine realize how deeply she insulted them all? She insinuated they were cowards if they did not accompany her. Her comments stopped the conversation cold. How could one reply without looking bad? They shrugged and moved to pack. Everyone was edgy.

Breaking camp was silent, save for the occasional grunt and shouts when lifting was involved. Back in their saddles, they made good progress. Some paused when they passed the cross roads where the north/south road intersected. Sighing, the group resigned itself to trudge westward taking a road less traveled.

Little did they realize that Jasmine’s sudden change of plan saved them from harm. Taking the favored northern road would be a mistake as, the northern route was newly compromised. Taking the North road had been the safest route northward. That’s why they did not immediately take the treacherous northern route outside of Oxted.

Nobody would ever have suspected the north road would have brought them straight into Melantha’s spider-like reach, caught within her lair.

© 2018 DARLENE

 

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

Jasmine Snippet #70

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Two Red Faction cards from “JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” game

The demon minions roamed everywhere on those once fertile lands. Because they were ugly, stupid and mindless, Rogan had been fond of repeating, “they have no cells in their heads to think.” The behavior of the minions was something Rogan could not abide. They always did what they were told, without question. There was no deviation from the material law set down by their queen. They thoughtlessly complied with everything she expected of them.

If one was struck down in anger, another was always there to replace him. Rogan often wondered if they could be interchangeable—a large bureaucracy of stick stupid thugs? Indeed, Rogan could never detect if they possessed any type of personality. He thought not. But he conceded they were probably capable of distinguishing differences among themselves.

But before even his country, there was his wife and children to consider. He loved them dearly. Melantha exercised complete control over their lives. It pained him to think they could come to harm. When he recovered his thoughts, he realized he had again been within Melantha’s gaze.

She spoke at last, “They are the damned and probably are resigned to being damned. They have no creativity or higher faculties. Your charms are completely lost on them. Nuance is not in their grasp. All is as it should be.”

Rogan was crushed. When did she start back reading his thoughts? He was about to speak when she halted him. Although the fire was now dwindling, she rewarded his work with a vision of his wife, his beautiful red-haired Rachel. She was holding his little daughter and his young son was running up to hug them both. They all looked happy, healthy and well-cared-for. Rogan’s yearning for them swelled and his desire to touch and hold them in a sweet embrace overwhelmed and overtook him. He reached his hands into the fire and burned his fingers. He heard Melantha’s cackle.

“Continue with your planned journey.” She ordered, “give me news as you can. I’m particularly interested in this white maiden you’ve stumbled upon, as well as the Dockalfarian. You did very well. How lucky you are. I was prepared to give you a completely different vision of your dear ones. I am sure next time, you will take measures not to disappoint me again when I call.”

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #68

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Rogan The Red as pictured in Installment #13.

The stone in Rogan’s trouser pocket became hot enough to burn his leg. The rock had steadily gotten hotter during the past three days. He knew The Fire Queen was getting more and more impatient for his report. He simply had not gotten a large enough chunk of time to give his report. He valiently tried not to focus on the consequences of non-compliance.

To answer Melantha’s burning call, Rogan needed to convince Thorne and the others that it would be best if he went back to Oxted alone as not to arouse suspicion. He’d collect supplies that were needed for their up-coming journey and promised he would immediately join them at any place of their choosing. He used his smoothest voice and manner to convince Jasmine that this was a good idea. She urged everyone to give Rogan a list of their needs and a means of payment. With this simple request, Jasmine proved she had leadership skills. She was so good at her first command, that everyone complied without issue.

As he left on horseback, Rogan shook his head as he mulled over what had just transpired between all parties in the early morn. It was nothing short of a miracle. Who would have thought this motley crew, himself among them, would ever consider traveling together? And for Thorne to offer her sword? What was that about?

If anything had ever surprized him, it was that. He could never have guessed this proud Armildian was capable of demeaning herself to serve another, unless she actually acknowledged the young, naive but somehow wise Jasmine as her superior. Yet, he knew that Jasmine represented everything Thorne detested. Women!  With all his experience with them, he still could not fathom them.

Of course, he would need to report to the Queen of Fire most of what happened. He wanted to leave some things out. He planned to spend quite a long time describing how devastated, then furious Thorne was to learn UR had fallen. The Queen would relish that. He would smooth it all out by reporting how he was accompanying Thorne in her travels to find another ruler in the north. But how would he explain Jasmine and her dwarf protector?

About three quarters of the way to Oxted, after Rogan was sure he was not being followed, he turned off the trail to find a remote locale, which served his needs. At a clearing, he quickly collected dried branches and other materials to make a fire. For a roaring fire to appear, all he needed to do was to toss the very hot obsidian rock into a pile of kindling.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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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 #59

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Thorne was suspicious. Thorne was always suspicious. What concerned her this time was Rogan, the Nôr-man whom the Armildians had contracted to escort her to UR. When he arrived from Roth, he came at precisely the correct time to help the Armildians in their plight against Melantha’s evil expansion. During their discussions, Rogan pointed something out to the Armildian Council that they had never before considered: the importance of a man on a diplomatic mission.

Thorne saw him in diplomatic action. She witnessed how well Rogan could manipulate their own royal court. So she did not express any misgivings about his impressive ability to sway the Royal court of UR. With his silver tongue, Rogan acted the part of court dandy well. He was nothing but cordial and agreeable to her this whole trip. And helpful! That’s why she was wary. Nobody acts this nicely, for this long without something up their sleeve. Convinced there was more going on with him, Thorne seldom let her guard down.

In spite of her misgivings, Thorne had actually begun to enjoy Rogan’s company. Once the two of them learned that UR had fallen, did he think their mission was now ended? They had not yet had time to discuss their next move.

“Do I return to Armildia or shall I seek the help of another King?” Thorne asked herself. Was Rogan right not to rule out Bardulf, who recently conquered UR from the inside out? Magic had to be involved, as well as bribes and tactics of persuasion. She did not believe Bardulf could place his spies very effectively in Melantha’s domain of Medrylthorn. She was also unconvinced Bardulf was capable of keeping his word.

Her thoughts returned to Rogan. She wondered what was happening now with him. Ever since he encountered this cursed mountain, he acted strangely. Involuntarily, she turned her head to look at him again. Rogan stood nearby conversing with the other men, still.

The dwarf leaned against a broken column, honing his axe, listening. She liked him. He was honest and dangerous. The black mercenary had his back to her, but always with his hand lightly resting upon his sword handle. It was so easy not to trust him. For one thing, he was no mercenary. He was so stiff of manner, could it be he was also on a diplomatic mission to UR? Why else would a Dockalfarian venture this far south?

She saw Rogan from the side. He gestured wildly with this hands while he spoke. Hoping he did not catch her glancing at him, she turned away and headed towards her horse. But really, how important was he? Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted.

“Hey,” a voice called behind her, “where are you going?”

“Priorities,” she replied. “I need to water my horse.” Her words had an immediate effect. The two men ceased talking, turned, and made for their own horses.

Thorne chuckled as she lead her horse down the main path, aiming for the nearest place she smelled water. She followed a small track someone on foot had recently made and it led to a stream. Here, her horse slurped up its fill of water. She bent down and drank as well. The men followed behind her, creating their own wide tracks.

© 2018 DARLENE