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The Trek

By K'am Treshelle

This is a tale of a long ago time and a faraway place,

And of an ancient, now extinct, forgotten race.

The heroine of the saga I will tell today

Is our own ageless, wise, Clairvoyant, Zomae!

Into the woods the adventurers went,

Following the clues of a message sent.

Received by the guard just minutes before,

The message contained a strange written lore.

The scholars, with their magic to aid,

Knew to delay and the script would fade.

With spells, very formal and secret, you know,

They deciphered precisely where to go.

The message extended an offer to any adventurer so bold

As to come for the treasures of which the message told.

A large group would want to go, they were aware;

And there would be ample for all to share,

A poll of needed talents quickly took place -

The group soon was comprised of every race.

Yet, ere the journey they would begin,

The skills of the Clairvoyant were called in.

Duly consulted, and paid, for her visions so clear,

Zomae said, "The treacherous trek will cost dear.

A word to the wise, before you leave,

Listen, or loved ones will surely grieve.

Remember my warning to listen well,

Lest you find yourself under a spell.

For the wonders that are beauty filled

Are but lovely lures to get you killed.

To each brave one who goes today,

A boon I grant, to guard your way."

Quickly they gathered all the supplies they'd need,

Then fully armed and alert, they left with all speed.

Following a map, magically crafted with skill,

They soon came upon wonders their eyes to fill.

If they had but listened, they would have heard

The call of a Jay, and then, the Mockingbird.

After that came the trills of a whippoorwill,

Then the forest became deathly still.

Forgetting the warning given by the Seeress Zomae,

Deeper into the woods, they wended their way.

Engrossed with the sprites that ahead quickly flew,

Unaware that the spell of enchantment grew.

Watching the streaks of color with great delight,

They were easily captured, without a fight!

While back at the village, their loved ones wept,

For days had gone by since the group had left.

The decoded message had been copied in ink

And placed with the map to form a link.

The decision was made -- another party must go -

Before more grains from the sands of time might flow.

Consulting Zomae, as the wise always do,

And willingly paying for her words so true.

"Visions came to me last night as I dreamed,

The coded message received is not as it seemed.

The trek is still treacherous and will still cost dear,"

She told us, in solemn tones loud and clear.

"A word to the wise before you leave,

Listen, or loved ones will surely grieve.

Remember my warning to listen well -

Lest you find yourself under a spell.

For the wonders that are beauty filled

Are but lovely lures to get you killed.

To this message, I add one more:

Heed me, as you have always done before.

If on all of your senses, you do rely,

The Specter of Death, you will thus deny!

For the brave ones who go out to bring back

Those companions who fell under attack,

I grant a spell of awareness of one another,

The plot of the message you will surely uncover!"

We listened carefully as she spoke -

And spells of memory, we then did invoke.

Other spells and weapons we carefully chose;

To prepare the group for whatever arose.

The group was glad we had consulted with the wise Zomae,

And were equipped for whatever might come our way.

The battle process well-known, a partner, each did select.

Healer and Fighter -- one to heal and one to protect.

Warily, the warriors split to the front and the back-

And then interspersed too -- in case of an attack.

The mages, defensive spells selected from their magic slate,

Would also cast offensive ones the enemy to devastate.

We would, as Zomae had advised, on all our senses rely

For The Specter of Death, we intended to defy!

Deeper into the woods our group of new adventurers went;

Determined to uncover the true plot of the message sent.

Taking the decoded message and the map that was a link,

We travelled on bravely, almost afraid to blink.

For we were able to see the wondrous, lovely lure;

And, spell-protected, we suddenly knew the cure.

Answering the calls, with the peaceful "coo" of the dove;

We were instantly surrounded--on all sides, and above.

A strange gibberish language these creatures spoke;

So, a spell of "understanding" the mages did invoke.

As we listened to the tale these beings had to unfold,

Our warriors their weapons in their hands still did hold.

The mages, their catalog of spells going through their minds,

Feared this interlude was but a prelude to deadly finds.

The lovely sprites then quickly flew away into the hollow.

The black creatures indicated our group should follow.

Hastening, we went down the hollow and through the wood -

Following closely, as cautiously as we could.

As the furry black creatures led the way up ahead,

The leader of our group turned and quietly said,

"As soon as we arrive at this place,

We may meet deception, face to face.

Our companions they said are well;

But they are each imprisoned in a cell.

To rescue them, a brave plan we must dare

And then we must escape, using great care.

You two, try to lag behind and get free.

We're depending on you to help us flee.

Mark a trail by which we can return

As soon as their secrets we do learn.

Set traps on the trail we've just made

So our retreat will have safeguards laid.

Do this as quickly as it can be done

And be prepared to assist us on our run."

Into their village we soon did arrive -

The adrenaline through our veins did drive;

For the true plot of the message we would soon know,

As each felt the fear of the unknown begin to grow.

When the King of the creatures rose and started to intone -

His body language screamed treachery to the bone!

"Welcome to our homes, brave adventurers bold,

More of your kind we're glad to behold!

Prepare for our guests some food and drink

And a place set aside for them to think.

For to the terms of our treaty they must agree,

Ere them and their companions we will set free."

Under truce but for how long, we did not know.

We must delay the treaty and not let suspicion grow.

The first adventurers, who had gone on before,

Had deciphered these beings' strange written lore.

The coded message had led them to honestly believe

That here a treasure of great wealth they would receive.

The treasures surrounding us did brightly shine;

But for gold and jewels we did not pine.

We must find a way out of this place

And rescue our friends and to freedom race.

Our weapons we were allowed to retain.

Why did these creatures not the weapons obtain?

Perhaps the bright armor and swords were thought

To be ornaments and not a danger to be wrought.

Did the creatures believe us to be under a spell

So as not to be able to wield our weapons well?

Having checked the food and drink for any poisons ill,

We began the repast, each one taking their fill.

Casting about us -- any magic spells to detect,

This place of confinement, we then did inspect.

Assuring ourselves that our isolation was true,

We spoke of the rescue that we now must do!

With secrecy, those trained in stealth left our tent,

To find the cells of companions, they quickly went.

Hearing weeping and sobbing in the night,

They discovered a poor imprisoned sprite.

Robbed of her freedom as well as her song;

For her companions she sorely did long.

The beauty of this creature was absolutely beyond compare;

And, with great sadness of heart, they could only stare.

For the hellish creatures had slashed the wing

Of the lovely sprites' reigning queen.

In a lovely, lilting voice, the Enchantress did say,

"You must free your friends and get speedily away.

You see, my lovely sprites with iridescent wing,

Such melodious, mesmerizing songs can sing.

Enchanting the viewer with their colors bright;

Then charming them with melodies ever so light.

For when the lovely colors flash and the melodies do hum,

By our peaceful spells, the target is then overcome.

All thought of fighting does instantly pall

Leaving only a desire for peace above all.

For when in such a blissful state of mind -

There are no enemies, only friends to find.

These mutant creatures have few spells of their own,

And those are such that no race could ever condone!

The black horde coveted our peaceful spell

To use to put their captives through hell!

For regardless of the torture their captives endure,

No thoughts of retaliation ever occur!

By keeping me imprisoned in this tiny dark place,

The beasts control our spells and mv own winged race.

The treaty they gave you is but a fake;

Their only desire: all of your lives to take.

The vilest of evil these creatures depict -

Heinous torture is their wont to inflict!

They will continue until none of you have breath,

For They are the Servants of the Specter of Death!

So get your companions free and leave this spot;

And thusly, you will foil their heartless plot!

Do not worry about my sprites and me.

Soon we'll win our freedom and flee.

Although our belief is for all life to sustain,

Not one of these monsters, alive, will remain.

Be careful of the maze around the village they set.

They have filled it with miscreants your souls to get.

I'll send one of mv sprites with you when you go;

The spell of tranquillity on those demons to throw.

The secrets of the passages you will successfully find.

Peace between we of the wing and you of your kind!"

Glad for the darkness, they raced over the rocky field.

Finding the prisoners; shocked at what was revealed!

Somehow they had been able to keep one another alive,

Depending on help they knew would eventually arrive,

They still had their weapons and armor and helms too.

But they seemed to be unaware of the damage they'd do.

Although they had no will to attack or even to defend,

On their healing powers they had known they could depend.

Their healing supplies and spells had now all been consumed;

And the torture they had endured would soon be resumed.

Upon hearing the news of this terrible tragedy,

We knew we must implement a daring strategy.

Healing must be given, without raising alarm,

To save our compatriots from continued harm.

For none of those brave ones would be able to go far.

Alas, some might not live to see the Morning Star.

A new plan was devised that this night did take place.

The healthy would be exchanged for the sick of each race;

Done under the cover of darkness and in deep stealth.

Soon Healers began intense workings to renew lost health.

Our companions were free and we could now leave this spot.

But first, to foil the deranged monsters' evil plot.

Our healing herbs and spells helped the Enchantress her health to win;

Beguiling magical music, she and the lovely sprites would spin.

Into cells, spell-protected mages and warriors went,

While the brave ones continued to heal in our tent.

A surprise would greet those savages in the morning;

Our full-fledged attack on the fiends, without warning!

It was as the heavens became lit by the rising sun,

The time the black wretches chose to begin their fun.

Going to release the prisoners from each cell,

They were eager to weave their diabolical spell.

To see them suffer and remain compassionate and kind,

Made those devils more acrimonious torment to find.

Knowing the prisoners would neither attack nor defend,

Their tortures on them the horde would all day expend.

But to their surprise, when they opened the cells,

They were overwhelmed by our magical spells.

Penning and webbing and binding spells cast

Held the majority of those monsters fast.

While magic missiles and lightning and flame bolts struck,

The warriors' enraged blows the creatures could not duck.

Ice, flame and magic storms our mages did throw

As the battle of blows and spells went to and fro.

Soon, the devils' blood their own fur did stain.

Their attempts to escape were quite in vain.

The sprites spun their magical, beguiling spells.

And from the black horde came hideous wails!

Then, our Earth mages, to each black monstrosity left,

Said, as if of one voice, "To you, I Grant the Gift of Death!"

We did not escape unharmed; most of us had some sort of injury;

But our potions, herbs, and spells proved to be the proper remedy.

The great treasures of those devils we duly retrieved

Reward as per the twisted plot of the coded message received.

Our brave companions' fighting spirits had been returned,

This village of abomination, we then thoroughly burned!

Our way through the maze was surprisingly clear,

As the mysterious miscreants did not even appear.

For when the Servants of the Specter of Death had died,

The very existence of the miscreants was instantly denied.

And, for the winged sprites, with their peaceful song,

We would see them returned to where they belong.

When offered a part of the treasures to share,

They refused all, but a few gems for their hair!

Parting the lovely winged ones' company, we went on our way

To greet the other two of our party and glad tidings relay.

They had carefully marked our route to return home,

But warned us to be sure from the path not to roam.

They had seen giant spider webs in the forest deep;

And had been taking turns to get any sleep.

No sooner had they spoken thus,

Than these giant spiders attacked us!

As their strands of webs past our head they did spin,

Their legs tried to wrap us in venomous poison.

Furiously casting spells to repel the things,

While trying to avoid their sticky strings;

Slashing their legs with axe and sword,

We freed those grabbed by the spidery horde.

Triggering the traps that had been laid,

A space for us to depart was safely made!

Down the path we went as fast as we could.

We were most anxious to get out of this wood!

Our village--so dear to our hearts-~was near

And our loved ones could now dry each tear.

Our adventures, our family and friends wanted us each to reate.

Our leader said, "We'll tell our experiences while we celebrate.

But first, we give our gratitude to the Clairvoyant Zomae:

By listening and heeding her advice, we're alive today.

We have returned with gold and jewels and riches untold,

And with each and every one of the adventurers bold!

We are thankful for the full array of spells we had;

And for the weapons with which the warriors were clad.

With each of us fully aware of the other --

The true plot of the message we did uncover.

As the lovely winged sprites their beguiling magic engergized,

Together, we foiled the evil plot those black devils had devised.

No one, on a member of their race, will ever again look -

For the lives of each of those black savages we surely took!

As the wise Zomae advised, we constantly on all our senses relied.

We escaped with Life; thus, the Specter of Death we truly defied!"
 

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