Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Priestess, the Dragon and the Ranger

Torgan High Priestess Sirena wanders the realm of Zolio, marveling at its visual simplicity until she arrives at a great open temple. She climbs to the top to discover a place of peace and rest. There is an urn blazing brightly and she drops to her knees. "Belenus" she prays, "Hear me." She opens her mind to receive her God but she feels only a deep void. "Where are you my Beloved?" she asks. She listens but the only sound is the fire crackling. There is no presence. She tries again, letting her mind float free in a second attempt to reach her God. This has always worked before, but He is not there this time. She begins to weep and wonders if He has left her? She needs to hear His voice and feel his love. Sirena begins to weep as she tries harder to sense Him and fails. What has she done to offend Him? Where has He gone?

Random Mistwalker: hsssss...(Draconian): intakr ayo grhui kuest rl'eldo?

Sirena hears a hiss through her sobs and turns. She is relieved to see the dragon, beloved of her God. But she is surprised when it suddenly approaches her. She is afraid it is attacking, can’t understand why, and she stumbles backwards and falls off the ledge where she lies unconscious on the ground.

The small black dragon swoops and swerves as it flies off the temple and down, closer to her. He licks his lips and approaches. Suddenly arrows fly through the air and score a direct hit on the dragon. The dragon flies up to identify the attacker and out of pure instinct, returns the attack. The dragon yells “Any who attack me will feel my fire.” Arrow after arrow strike the dragon. A fierce fight ensues that lasts for what seems like eternity. Arrows, dragon fire and claws are everywhere as the dragon swoops, attacks, pivots and flies and the stranger with the bow runs, hides, fires quickly and tries to find an advantage and avoid the dragon’s fierce attacks.

After both are badly injured the dragon lands on the temple and shouts, “Why do you fight biped? Why attack?”

The Sylvan Ranger Damian comes into view. “You attacked my friend. I saw you attack the High Priestess. Why did you attack?”

Random Mistwalker: I did not.. I was asking why she was here.. You attacked me. You hit me with your arrow first!

Damian: “So this is all a misunderstanding? I saw her lying on the ground with you over her. What was I to think?”

Random Mistwalker: “Not that I would not have attacked.. she was kneeling.. when I was hit with an arrow. Perhaps she was prey.. perhaps not depending on how she answered…”

Damian: “So you admit you thought her potential prey. Did she answer you? “

Random Mistwalker: “No… for I was hit.. before she was able to answer.. if she was a foolish one who wanted nothing more than to take and show no respect… then yes…”

Damian: "We will never know then, will we?" Random Mistwalker narrows his eyes. Damian keeps his bow ready while he talks to the dragon. “Then let us go our own ways in peace. I will stop shooting if you will fly away. I will tend to her wounds.”

Random Mistwalker eyes his wounds.. "Very well.. you have much to lose.. but I shall leave you in peace"

Damian: “I do indeed but I am not afraid and so shall I leave you in peace. Perhaps we can meet again under better circumstances.”

Random Mistwalker turns and pulls an arrow from his scales and spits it on the floor of the temple. "Very well.. we shall see." He flies off without another word.

Damian wraps a hasty bandage around his own arm and runs off to find Sirena. He looks at Sirena lying on the ground "Sirena, are you hurt?" He kneels and takes out his medical kit. He applies a poultice from his kit to her forehead. He reaches into his kit, takes out a vial of smelling salts and breaks it under Sirena's nose. Then he impulsively leans over and kisses her and cries "please be alive"

Sirena gasps from the pungent odor of the salts and her eyes flutter open as she feels his lips touch her. She reflexively slaps him. "How dare you!"

Damian sees her move and exclaims, "You are alive! OUCH! Why did you hit me? I just saved your life! You were about to be eaten by a dragon.”

Sirena puts a hand to her head "Yes, I remember a dragon and I remember his breath knocking me off the ledge.”

Damian: “You were unconscious on the ground. I came upon you with the dragon leaning over you. I fired at him and engaged him in a battle. I nearly died saving you.”

Sirena starts to cry, "It was horrible. Belenus was gone." She suddenly hears the ranger. "You shot at the dragon? He is gone?”

Damian says stoutly, “Belenus may not have been here but I was lucky to happen upon you. And yes, the dragon is gone. I negotiated an end to the hostilities with him. He claimed it was a misunderstanding. The dragon flew off a few minutes ago and I ran to revive you.”

Sirena cannot believe the circumstances that have put her beside the Sylvan Ranger and she whispers, “I can well believe it a misunderstanding. Dragons are beloved by Belenus.” She winces as she moves her arm and begins to carefully move her arms and legs, checking herself for damage.

Damian: “Although the dragon claimed I shot first, he admitted he was sniffing you to see if you were suitable prey. He would have killed and eaten you I'm sure had I not attacked.”

Sirena is aghast. "Sniffing me? I am Beloved by Belenus! Why would a dragon eat me?" She shakes her head, "This is not right.” She begins to weep quietly. “I could have been eaten by one of Belenus’ favorites.” She looks up at him "I do not understand this at all, but I thank you."

Damian: “Perhaps he was deranged by the mushroom plague. Who knows? Or perhaps he was sick and not in his right mind.” He kneels down and puts his arm around Sirena. “But all is well, you are safe." Sirena cries out as Damian's arm touches her shoulder and he notices she is wounded. “Let me bandage your wound. Show me where you are bleeding.”

Sirena shakes her head. "There is no blood. I am just aching and will bruise all over. I shall not be able to wear silks for two weeks." She stands a bit stiffly. “Thank you Sylvan Ranger. From what you say I might have died.”

Damian: “I think yes. Let me carry you to your home or to someplace safe.”

Sirena raises an eyebrow. She is already as close as she wants to be to the Sylvan Ranger in fact she is too close. She steps back.

Damian says hopefully, “Would you like me to walk you someplace?”

Sirena says curtly, “I can manage thank you.”

Damian: “Let me at least walk with you until you are in your own territory.”

Sirena is a bit shaken by the incident and replies without thinking, "I would welcome the assistance of a bow if that dragon returns. I think there is a tavern here and it is over the hill. "

Damian: “Good. Let us walk there then. A drink would do us both good.”

They both walk quietly for some time until they reach an empty tavern with an inviting fire. Sirena sinks gratefully into a chair. Damian speaks, "You should eat something. You have had quite a day"

Sirena responds, “I am not hungry. I just want to be home." She does not say she also wishes to be out of the ranger's presence and rests her head on the table.

Damian: “Sirena, now that you are safe and resting, I have a favor to ask.”

Sirena lifts her head "favor?"

Damian continues, “Some might even call it a debt to repay. I know you disdain Sylvan rangers, me included.”

Sirena frowns. "What debt? You have lent me no money.”

Damian continues: “I do not share your disdain. You might well have been dragon dinner tonight. It is a simple favor...”

Sirena: “I know, Damian, and I am thankful...even grateful that you were nearby.”

Damian: “I would like you to be my Lady. You know I have always been fond of you since I first saw you standing near me when I was injured in the wood. Now that I've saved your life I think that is only fair. I am not asking to marry you. I know you are a high priestess.”

Sirena is shocked and indignant: “Your Lady!?! You cheeky arrogant Sylvan Ranger! I asked nothing of you for saving your life so long ago. I am Torgan, and you are Sylvan. Yet you are the one asking for payment in return for what one would call a benevolent act?”

Damian: “You allowed me to be in your debt. And our lands may be different and occasionally at war but we do not have to be.”

Sirena protests: “I did not allow you to be in my debt. You took it upon yourself to believe you owed me something.”

Damian: “Well, be that as it may, I now ask this favor of you. Were it not for me you would be merely a dragon's burp by now. Where was your God tonight?”

Sirena hears Damian’s question about her God and her heart stops. Yes, where had He been tonight? She says indignantly “I admit I am thankful to be sitting here instead of in the belly of a dragon... but your Lady? Ha! Never!”

Damian: “I'm happy that you are at least thankful, and could it be that your God acted through me tonight? Gods do that sometimes.. They act through agents in the world...”

Sirena scowls at the ranger. “You presume much. If He were to act through another, why did he not choose a mighty Torgan Warrior instead of a..Sylvan Ranger?”

Damian: “It is simply a theory but it is one that the facts of this evening support. When I saw that dragon near you my mind changed in an instant. I can not explain why or how.”

Sirena laughs, a bit unnerved, "Your mind changed? How is that?”

Damian: “Perhaps my strength and skill with the bow against the dragon were guided by your God. I hit the dragon a lot, far beyond my normal skill level. Something has to explain that.”

Sirena leans forward and places her elbows on the table. She winces at the aches and says "Are you ready to embrace my God?

Damian leans towards her and replies "I am ready for you to explain Him to me and consider it."

Sirena says "I am willing to do that, if you would listen with an open heart"

Damian smiles, “I think we have the makings of a compromise."

Sirena says hesitantly, "Compromise?”

Damian: A good compromise will be that you be my Lady for a year and a day, the same amount of time I was your protector. And during that time you will teach me about your God and I will listen with an open mind.”

Sirena sputters "I don’t need a Lord ..or a protector. You presume too much.”

Damian: “That was no presumption, it was an offer from the heart.”

Sirena Lauria: “I will teach you about Belenus if you are willing to learn”

Damian prompts: “and....”

Sirena says emphatically “But I will not be your...Lady. I need no Lord of my own. I have Belenus and the Watch.”

Damian asks her, “What will you be then?”

Sirena sighs "I acknowledge that a debt exists and that payment must be made and since I held you to a year and a day, so I will agree with you. However, I will agree only to not frown or scowl at you.”

Damian strokes his chin.... “That's excellent but perhaps you could agree to actually smile as well.”

Sirena Lauria scowls, then forces a smile on her face "Agreed. I will treat you with the respect I reserve for Torgans and I will teach you of Belenus, for the period of a year and a day.”

Damian leans back in his chair happy. His wounds are healing in the warmth of the tavern with the food and drink and Sirena has just agreed to be pleasant to him. It is a small step, but one in the right direction.

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