The stranger

Mirtil jumps up with a paranoid speed of a person, who expects trouble 
every moment. With a hand on his sword and eyes wide by surprise he 
says (in the same language as the stranger): "Who by Gods name are you?" 

The stranger spoke Garian, and sounds male.  As for race, he is quite 
short for an Elf, so is most likely a human, but you cannot tell.  His head is 
concealed by his hood, and the rest of his body is covered with leather armour or 
his cloak.

He appears to be armed with a rapier(on his belt), but you see little 

Upon the sudden arrival of the cloaked man Manon turns his head and 
observes the man intensely, ready to leap out and draw his sword.

Still lying on his back, Kai brings his sword hand down to his chest,
blade running across his left shoulder now.  With his left hand, he
makes two short pushing movements down and to the left, as he
drones in a hushed stage whisper "yes stay down there is a patrol
coming," following which he flicks the blade twice in a high arc
towards the Jade encampment.

He then lifts his shoulders, curling forward into a ball until his 
head passes over his feet, then snaps back straight, taking his body 
into a low trajectory flying arc with a forward roll which puts him on 
his feet when he lands near the base of the dune, absorbing the shock by
going back down into a crouch, and twisting on his feet while
standing back upright, so that he half faces the interloper. Again
with his blade he gestures, now through the dune he just dismounted,
as he finishes "and your friend" in sotto voce.

Crouched and watching as Kai descends from the dune, the stranger does 
not reply until Kai has finished.  Then he disappears in a small puff of 
smoke, appearing beside Kai(who is now only a few yards from Manon, Mirtil, 
and Dax), and remaining crouched.  He speaks softly, saying, "My companion has
instructions to await my return, while I scout out the patrol you 
mention. Finding you here so close beside us was quite a surprise.  Did you too 
escape from Tix?"

Hearing no response on his question who the stranger is, Mirtil 
whispers to Manon: "Do you know this guy from Tix?"
He remains alert, his hand still on his sword, keeping his eyes on 
stranger; but seeing that the stranger is not hostile he relaxes a 

"we know of what happened there indeed" murmurs Kai, executing
a quarter bow, "though there is little chance any come from there 

"Indeed, my friend and I barely escaped at all, though I'm sure we 
were not alone." The stranger volunteers "As well a fairly large number of 
peasants observed the city's fate. We have not met, and I know not what brings you
here, but we have tracked the group responsible for the destruction of Tix to this camp.
They arrived this afternoon, after a gruelling march and with several attempts to 
dissuade our pursuit.  The group was made up of Jades and Elves, from what we could 

He pauses, lost in thought.  He sits down, obviously not concerned of 
any hostility from your group, and looking closer you note that he is 
covered with dust and sand from head to toe.  With an effort, he continues,

"My friend and I haven't slept in the last two days, tracking this 
group. The patrol that was sent out was no doubt told to look for us, as 
we've already had two engagements with the mages, and managed to escape both times.  
We would appreciate any aid you could provide in our quest to learn what 
became of Tix, why, and if it can be reversed."

With that, he wraps his arms around his knees and rests his head on 
his arms, apparently too tired to hold his head up any longer.

"if they are more than a routine patrol surely they will find us here"
murmurs Kai, "let us all repair away and have kay bring back here
to move our entry by air that the jade may track us not from this well
trod spot"

Kai turns his head towards Dax and emits a hissing sound, when the
reptile man looks over, he raises his sinister hand, arm bent at the 
elbow, back to Dax, and bends the fingers forward and upright thrice, then
down to point along the side of his erstwhile perch of a dune 
farthest from the Jade encampment, all but the forefinger cupped in to meet
the palm.

"apparently tis mickle popular amongst those who saw tix fall"
quoth Kai.

The stranger raises his head from his arms, and responds "Where do you 
go? Is teleportation so common among humans and Elves now?"  Awaiting a 
reply from Kai briefly, he opts after a mere second's delay to allow his 
head to resume its position on his crossed arms.

Manon steps up to the stranger sitting in the sand and addresses him 
"Why don't you call your friend up here so we all can sneak away from 
the patrol looking for us".

Turning to the others Manon asks "What about our traces, what shall we 
do about them?"

Mirtil shrugs and says silently to Manon: "I can care for the traces, if I
have enough time..."

"...maybe you can first take others to the castle and return for me 
later - means, as soon as they're in the chateau and cared for? Oh, 
and again, do you know them?"

Turning to face Mirtil Manon answers "No I don't know them. But I 
strongly feel we should help them. I will take with me these two men 
and return to pick you up when you have erased our traces."

Mirtil looks at the stranger with a grin:" The guy seems to be 
absolutely done," he says in elven. Then he steps towards him and 
makes a runic sign over his head, tapping him slightly. 

At Mirtil's touch the stranger stands up.  He looks around for a brief 
moment, then says, "Very well.  I expect we'll have time for proper 
introductions later, but for now I will retrieve my comrade and return here."

And without further ado, he disappears in a puff of reddish smoke and 
a muffled whumpf sound.

Mirtil looks upwards to the heavens, saying:
"Oh, must I waste my energy to allow others to perform cheap con 
tricks to impress an audience?"
He takes his cloak in hands and using it as a giant broom, he drags 
it on the sand in intricate trajectories, not stepping again on the 
place he once swept.

Mirtil finishes sweeping the tracks in the immediate area about the 
same time that the stranger and his companion crest the dune to the west.  A 
moment later, they are close enough for the wand to operate.

The two men come down off of the dune, and for the first time you all 
get a good look at both of them.

The first, the one who was here before, wears a long cloak which hangs 
to his calves and is slit up the middle to allow mobility.  It is hooded, and 
the hood remains pulled, keeping the sun from his face and masking his 
features in shadow.  Where his cloak does not cover him, you note black leather 
armour. He carries a rapier, knife, and little else that you can see.

The second stranger is taller than the first by a hand's length, and 
is wearing woodland clothing consisting of brown and green clothes with dark 
brown leather armour over top.  He wears a silvery cloak over top of this, also 
hooded.  You can see that he wears a black mask across his face, and you have 
difficulty making out any of his features.  He moves like an Elf, and carries a
broadsword, a belt of knives, and has a silver quiver and a bow slung 
across his left shoulder.

"All who are going with us, stay close to sir Manon," (pointing at the 
count, "five yards will do."

As Mirtil is finished covering the tracks as good as he can, Manon 
inspects Mirtil's job from where he stands, and breaks the wand to 
return Kai, Mirtil, Dax the two strangers and himself to the chateau.

Arriving at the chateau Manon walks out of the chamber, introduces 
himself "My name is Manon Ehron, son of Grantor Ehron from the Castle 
of Han D'or. You have been transported to a mountain chateau belonging 
to one of our friends named Mac Kodiac"

Mirtil adds in Garian:
"I am Mirtil Riventhorn. And you?"
he adds, looking at strangers. He moves to the closest chair and sits 
to rest, looking at them with calm interest.

The stranger who first spoke with you speaks first, saying, "I am 
called The Fox.  He gracefully and over dramatically bows, while
saying, "at your service."

The other one simply states "Siawn" with a small gesture toward 

Fox looks around, then says "Where are we?"

Description(for Siawn):  you arrived in a stone cavern-like room, 
roughly round in shape, about 15 meters in radius, with a no apparent doors.  Manon, 
the human knight who apparently brought you all here, moved to one of the 
walls and opened a hidden door.  The floor of the room appears to be etched 
with magical runes.

Leading the group out of the room, Manon takes you through the 
building, first into a cellar, then up a flight of stairs into a kitchen, and finally 
into a greatroom with a large wood table and several ornate chairs.  Along 
the way, another human joins the group, speaking to Manon in whispers.  Manon 
introduces him to Siawn and Fox in passing as his squire, Beren.

Beren gathers water and some food from the kitchen for the group as 
they settle in the greatroom.  Present are Siawn, Fox, Dax - yet to be introduced,
Mirtil, Manon, Kai - also not yet introduced and Beren 

"Well, Siawn, will you honour us showing your face? Forgive me, if you 
find it impolite, but times are hard and  one can easily find an 
enemy hidden under a mask..."

Siawn says (in Garian), "Friends, I am no enemy.  But I agree, times 
are hard."  He takes a quick glance around the room.  He slowly draws back 
his hood, revealing an ugly thin scar from his ear trailing down into his 
shirt. All the while, he keeps his eyes downcast, glancing up on occasion.  
"And who are your friends?" he says (in Garian) to Manon and Mirtil.

Along with Mirtil, Manon, and the reptile man, one other
accompanied the group from the desert heat to the cool
stone rooms.  Two yards tall, and solid built, he is clad in
intricately worked black leathers from foot to head, literally;
9 penny boots, leather trews, a loose leather jacket tight
black long gloves reaching back near to the elbows, and a
full face mask shaped as a hawk's head topping it all off.
Over the leathers is a lacquered black breastplate, a crossed
pair of shoulder belts bearing a short black leather quiver of
blackened steel bolts on the right and an oversized crossbow
of black wood and steel on the left.  Hung on a worked black
belt are two black pouches and two matched dagger
scabbards; the one on the right bore an elaborate hilt, worked
in the form of leaves for the guard and a twisted vine for handle,
with a rose for a pommel, all of some shiny dark metal; the right
initially empty.

When the group reached the first room of the tower, the raptor
masked man thrust the tip of the weapon held in his right hand
into that empty scabbard, and slid its slim four foot blade down
into the nine inch scabbard with graceful ease, leaving only a hilt
the mate of the seeming dagger on the left, save for a small silver
coin threaded on a thong wrapped around the ricasso.  From
Siawn's first sight of him he has said no word, nor moved his head
to look at him, he walked with uncanny quiet with the group to the
great room

When the great room is reached, he does not sit, but takes up a
position behind and to the right of Manon.  Beren does not offer
him any food or drink, though he does treat the squire to a dip of
the otherwise impassive head as he serves his lord.  When Siawn
draws back his hood, he follows by pushing back his mask, thumb
under each cheek, up and over to hang, still attached, at his back,
revealing a tight black lacquered chain coif surrounding a motionless
face with short red beard, sideburns and moustache, thin lips and
mirthless eyes which swing not so much to meet the scar faced man's
as to stare unblinking through them as his hands drop back down half
open to rest on his belt.

Another figure makes an entry, coming down a flight of stairs.  He is 
an older human, seemingly rather frail, but he seems to glow with magical 
energy to those who can see such.  He notes the presence of the strangers and 
bows slightly, saying, "We are Kirion."  He then retreats to a corner and 
watches the continuing conversation.

Following Kirion's arrival, the reptile man speaks, saying "Greetings,
ssstrangers.  I am Dax."  The Jade reptile man then is silent, 
watching the two intently.

Mirtil smiles and says generally to both the strangers:
"You said you were in Tix. Can you tell us what have you seen here, 
when the city disappeared? And how did you escaped?"

The knight, sir Manon waits silently (for a story how the two men 
escaped Tix destiny) while sipping water from a metal goblet.

The Fox helps himself to some of the water that Beren has set out, 
and says, "I noticed some kind of magical energy building up within the city 
after we were released from the palace after a roundup a few nights ago -- 
Siawn and I shared a cell -- and I managed to determine the source of the magic 
using a spell I know."  He pauses to have a drink and catch his breath, then 
continues.  "Siawn snuck into the building where the magic was coming 
from, and confronted a group of Elves and Reptile Men.  They overpowered him and 
locked him in a room, but I went to his aid and we escaped, just as the spell
finished.  We quickly ran to the far side of the street, and watched 
as the building we were just in was sucked into itself and disappeared.  As 
we stood watching, we were slowly drawn toward where the building had stood, 
and as things drew near it, they disappeared.  We ran to the edge of the 
city, outrunning the rather slow absorption, and past the city's wall."  
Another pause.  A moment later, he concludes, "Outside, we could see green 
grass beyond the dry sandy ground surrounding the city.  I teleported to it 
without difficulty, but Siawn had to struggle through some invisible barrier 
to get past the dry ground to the green ground beyond.  Once outside, we 
watched as the sandy ground and the city slowly pulled into itself, leaving green 
grass in its place.  Did I miss anything, Siawn?"

Siawn looks sullenly around the room, and finally his gaze rests on 
Fox. "No, I think you've managed to tell these strangers our complete 
activities in the last few days.  Well spoken."  He finds a corner and begins to
retreat into it, then remembers, "Oh yes, one other thing.  Now that 
my companion so eloquently told you our entire doings, may I be so 
uncouth as to ask your recent activities?"  He then sits on the floor and waits 
for an answer.

Fox looks over at his companion, then back at the rest of the group, 
then shrugs.  "Seems Siawn isn't the most trusting soul...  At any rate, I 
too would like to know how you came to be in the desert where we were 
after your incarceration in Tix, and what your plans are now."

Siawn looks up once more, and quickly glances at Fox, who looks right 
back, gesturing for him to talk.  Siawn draws a deep breath, looks around, 
and says, "All in good time... Mirtil was it?  But first I... we, have a few
questions of our own..."  As he is talking, he pulls out a knife and 
begins to fiddle with it.  "Mostly, Where are we?  Why are we here?   Who are 
you people?..." The elf hunches back after talking, as if even that much 
talking took a lot of effort.

As Siawn pulls his knife, Mirtil's hand grabs the hilt of his rapier 
with lightning speed; but seeing that Siawn just want to play with 
the weapon and he is not  actually hostile, Mirtil relax again, 
murderous glow in his eyes slowly wanishing.

Still sitting in the chair Manon answers "As for why we are here it is 
to elude the group of Reptile men looking for you. Where we are is up 
to my friend Mac to tell you, I for myself do not know. I regard this 
as our sanctuary, away from the heat, sand and watchful eyes." Sipping 
gently from his cup the count continues "As for who we are I had hoped 
our introduction had taken care of that question. But the group here 
before your eyes is not complete. We lack two of our members, Mac, the 
owner of this chateau, and Gwar the barbarian." 

Looking closely at Siawn sir Ehron once again continues "We met much 
as you did, by chance and in a dungeon in Tix." With this the count 
sits back in the chair putting the goblet on the table next to him.

Hearing Fox speaking about Tix, Mirtil looks up at Kai with lively 
interest in his eyes: "So, my theory about the Tix enchanted from 
inside seems to be correct! That's good - those who stayed inside 
would be all safe -  most probably either transported to different 
place, or shrunken. I'd like to have one more question about it, Fox, 
with your leave - a friend who witnessed the event said, that there 
was a group of Reptile men moving towards the place where originally 
was the city. Have you seen this, and if yes, did it like as if they 
picked something here - I mean, the shrunken city, for example? It 
sounds crazy, but it's definitely a possibility...
Well, to my story - I joined those gentlemen..." (indicating 
others)"..., well, half a day ago, so I  can hardly speak about their  
plans and adventures, but speaking about myself, for the time being I 
want to find who is manipulating the Salanar desert - for I believe 
that the desert's expanse is in no case natural - causing the humans 
living around to press on the elven border. I would be really 
disgusted to see Elves forced into a war against humans, because it 
would help Drows to enslave all the Elven nation the same way  they 
did with those kinsmen living in Dunkel mountain."
Saying this, Mirtil looks at Siawn, as to see his reaction. 

As Mirtil is talking, Siawn continues to look down, and nods 
silent agreement with him when he is done.  "I agree with you Mirtil.  But 
let's see what we can do, and start acting on it!"

Manon concludes "Our plan is to wait until sundown and then follow an 
elf that we expect to leave the encampment this night"

Siawn gestures to Manon, "So sundown...  Any special instructions?"

Mirtil shrugs with unsure sideways glance at the Fox, as if to see what's
with him, then he takes his lute,  withdraws aside and plays softly while resting. 

Fox looks to Siawn for a moment, awaiting another reprimand, then 
speaks to Mirtil, saying "Indeed.  When the city had quite disappeared, a group 
of Jade Clan men marched into the once-city from the north and met with 
another group who remained in the city's stead.  The latter group was composed 
of the sorcerers from whom we barely escaped earlier."

Mirtil looks surprised:
"So they have escaped from the city... I wonder how. Do you remember 
from where they came from? Did it looked as if they've teleported to 
the place where you have seen them to join the reptile men?"

He turns to Manon and Kai with other question:
"That's serious. Do you think they were in the group you have 
ambushed? If not, we have another band of skilled sorcerers backed by 
Reptile men bodyguards sneaking around."

Sir Ehron answers "The group we ambushes had no reptile men in it. 
Thus we have the second group of skilled sorcerers in the vicinity"

Mirtil turns to the Fox (expecting that Siawn will be probably too 
shy to reply), adding another question:
"Oh, that's bad. Can you or your friend..." nodding to Siawn 
"...remember some details about the sorcerers with reptile men, I 
mean, how many of them you've seen, in which direction they went, or 
so...? I hope they returned home as soon as they finished their mission, or 
we are going to have a serious trouble." 

Fox replies to Mirtil, saying,
"The entire group moved north.  Siawn and I followed them.  We 
attempted to infiltrate their camp one night and nearly were killed in the process.  
After that, while we continued to follow them, we encountered more than our 
fair share of angry animals opposed to our direction of travel -- most 
likely due to some spell of our quarry's.  We arrived at the Jade camp in the 
desert early this afternoon, and had settled down to observe it for only a 
few moments when the patrol was sent and we discovered your group."

"As for the members of the group, there were several Jades who 
appeared to be quite old.  I know of few Jade wizards; I think these may have been 
priests of some sort.  The original group in the city had at least four Jade 
warriors for guards.  In all there were I think three elves and three Jades
performing the magic."

After some time, Kai stops his statue impression long enough to look 
down to the Count and drone "dax and i should return to the desert to make sure 
our friend doesn't slip away  as surely the patrol has passed"

His head then moves back the half inch it dipped, and swivels over 
slightly towards Mirtil whereupon he continues "you still have the wand"

Mirtil says: "No, Manon has it."

Handing the wand to Kai the count says "Here take the wand, be careful 
with those patrols"

"we came across an ambush site haunted by the spirits of a tix
patrol who had been ambushed by a group of elves disguised
as pilgrims" comes the voice of the black figure behind the Count
"to put their spirits at rest we swore to hunt down and deal with
their attackers"
Looking down at the wand in his hand, he continues,
expressionless in face and voice "we caught up with them
and mounted our own ambush slaying all but three two of
whom we captured and a third who talked the captain into
giving him parole"
Now drawing his gaze back up to Fox, he drones out
uninterrupted "when we made our way to the jade camp we
discovered that he had been disingenuous and decided to
trail him to a meeting he supposedly has in the north which
explains why we were monitoring the camp awaiting the
miscreant's departure"

Looking now to Dax, he concludes "let's be back to our post
all goes well we'll be back for you ere sunset"

This said, he turns and stalks from the room, smooth and silent.

Dax nods in agreement, and follows the Hawk out of the room, back 
toward the summoning chamber.

Mirtil takes his lute and plays silently, while resting. He seems to 
be lost in thoughts. In one moment he says in absent minded fashion, 
generally to everybody around: "Only six of them, and entire city
disappeared... and they all managed to escape it. Oh, they must have
some damn big powerstone or another similar device to do it. And I bet
that the fate of the lost city and people in it is linked with the thing..." 
Then he resume his playing, apparently fully consumed by the music.

Siawn continues to play with his knives, and once goes so far as to 
nick himself on the arm, belying a certain unease in his persona.  Finally, 
he gets up, goes over to Mirtil, and asks him, "But why?  Why expend all 
this magic, just to destroy a city?"  He glances around and begins to talk 
in a low, earnest voice with Mirtil.

Mirtil shrugs, saying, still plucking softly his lute:
"Why, just to remove a human city from the face of the world 
completely, with no army needed and lives lost on the elven side. 
That's obvious, I think..."
Then he adds something, as a afterthought, in a low voice and smiles 
sadly , glancing at the humans, as if telling a bitter joke.

It is now evening/dusk, desert-time.  Kai returns from the desert by 
way of the summoning chamber.  The time for contact with Mac via Mirtil is 
also at hand.

Mirtil says: "Greetings, Kai. What's new in the desert? I'm going to 
contact Mac soon."

When Mirtil enters the summoning chamber, he sees Kai standing in the
centre of the room, his leather bird of prey mask replaced over his 
face. Head swivelling left to right, his voice stolidly works out "it is time 
tell me when you are ready count i am completely under your instruction."
If possible, he is using even less inflection, his words come out 
without a pause or single alteration of pace that might serve for punctuation.  
Sand falls from his boots, his outlandish crossbow still lies slung across his 
back; only the closest examination reveals his left scabbard is empty, yet 
he does not hold the sword that he placed in that dagger length sheath.  
In his hands, he holds the two pieces of the wand, as you would expect.
When the head reaches what might be thought _past_ its natural reach
to the left, it begins swivelling slowly back to the right.

Dax is not present...

Mirtil (in the teleportation chamber) shouts:
"Everybody here!!"
The story continues...
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