You dream of titans, and of astrolabes. And then, you wake up.
It's early morning now, on the clearing next to the ruins of the Millhouse that Cailín brought down, and you find, with a certain embarassment, that none of you managed to stay awake, "night watch", or not. But in equal way you are relieved to find that no harm befell you while you were asleep.
You awake, though, to find that the Erlenwood has, once again, changed around you: The skies have ended their dance, it seems, and the air is free of the whirling magic energies that had permeated it before. You can see through the trees, this morning, something that you couldn't do the evening before, and something that you certainly couldn't do in the village of the Two-Moon Fey.
Suspicious, but also relieved about these new circumstances, it doesn't take you long to find Enver's camp. - And his prisoners: Well about two dozen children, all between the ages of five and ten.
From what you eventually learn through the children's stories, Enver had, in fact, saved them from what, according to the descriptions the small ones give you, must have been slave traders from Tizona. You realize that they, in all likelihood were bringing the children to HER, so SHE could nurture herself through them. And, likely, turn them into the same monsters you fought at the millhouse, you realize, with the deepest dread.
You spend the next day arguing what to do, as your healers use all their skill to make the children strong enough to travel again. (And, thankfully, they don't find any signs that the children could not be what they are, that the vampiric magic that SHE seems to command had somehow already touched them.)
Finally, as you begin to understand that the condition of the Forest Kingdom might change again with each nightfall, you decide to do the only thing that is right: To make for the forest's border, and to get all the children to safety, while the 'Elephant Man' agrees to bring the two Anacean warriors to his village, and to send Balboa and Anfortas after you. It's a Faustian bargain, and you know it as James cowers down to shake the feyling's icy hand. When the 'Elephant Man' says his goodbyes this time, it's the last time you see him. And, of course, Balboa and Anfortas do not return.
The giant boar, though, and the Red Man, after he comes back to himself) stay with you, of course, and leave the forest with you; whatever it is that reigns over the Erlenwood, you have impressed it enough to grant you save passage. At least for now.
The Red Man cannot explain, nor remember how he came into the possession of Thomas' belongings, but he asks - begs! - you not to leave him to himself, given that you all seem to more about his history and fate that he himself seems to do. It becomes increasingly clear that the Red Man has somehow transcended time itself on his journey through the Erlenwood, because either he is completely mad, or he does indeed hail from the time of the White Kingdom. Given who you are, and having seen what you've seen, you're inclined to believe the later.
You eventually leave the forest, and head first to Larkhill. You find it destroyed.
The knights, whoever they might have been, and whatever purpose their presence might have served, have been killed to the last man.
You would fear for Basswood Village, and its people, but you find evidence that this slaughter, performed by an enemy who, again, knew well how to command the magic of the fey, was done weeks ago, already.
When you return from the forest, and with the children, and with Wenchell at your lead, the villagers welcome you, and they praise you as heroes.
You spend a few weeks at the Basswood Stables, and make sure that all the children find families to take them in, and send note to the Knights of the Shroud to let them know what happened. You leave, however, and not on good terms, when it becomes apparent that Wenchell, the wanna-be hero, is beginning to mobilize the other villagers against you, presumably to get his hands on your precious Moongold armor.
Afterwards, you fate is shrouded in somewhat of a mystery.
I, your chronicler, myself wearing that red cloak that you all learned to dread, would politely assume that the stories that the minstrels sing about you on long winter nights are true:
That you returned to Marriott, and Navas, and to Castle Way's End, and saw that Thomas, Glordir's father, was well. And that, indeed, you found him in good health, oh, mystery of mysteries!
And that you let the Red Man live, and that he became your friend and trusted companion, and that you helped him find his past, and gave him a place to live his future.
There are other tales, from later years, of a Band of the Scions, a warband of considerable importance, all clad in white armor, and bestowed with magic wepons, who fought in the wars that were to haunt to once-so-proud lands of Asterion in the years to come. It is said that a red knight fought at their side, and that their military standard was also called 'The Staff of Ravens'. I presume that's you - but I'm not sure. I could well be wrong, as I have been, sometimes, in the past.
That 'Band of the Scions' that I'm telling you about, they first appeared in the year 117, when they fought alongside King Floro against the rebellion that Tizona's very own Holy Congregation initiated against their weak and aging king, masking themselves as revenant pretenders, ghouls claiming the throne for the legendary Knight of Two Ravens. It is said that it was them who ventured into royal palace and kidnapped the Archpriest, prompting the rebels to lay down their weapons, after all.
And it is said, that, one year later, in 118, when the immortal creatures of the Erlenwood again arose to destroy the Kingdom of Man, it was the Scions who made a last stand against the Dwarven Phantom Army, now a legion of the undead, and saved beautiful Princess - Queen Beatrice - from a grizzly fate. It is said that it was the Scions who then lead the army that took back Asterion, the White City, and Man's birthright since the Age of Anac, and that it was them who lead the army in the decisive battle of 119, when Ramunder Hrunting lead an army from Almace to claim Asterion bay.
There are many songs about how the Scions climbed the colossal icebear, 'White Fang', the principal weapon of their Dwarven invaders, and how the Scions turned them against their enemies and won the day, and a new place for their kingdom in this world.
I'm not sure if this was you, but as my sources say, it well could have been. - Then again, why would the Scions have rejected all their glory, and simply have returned to a quiet life, here on this lonely castle, along the Raven's Road? Also, this white armor can't fool me! Moongold is sure hard to find, even now- Fool's Gold, however, is cheap and easy.
If you really pretend not to know this tale, about Asterion, and She-Who-Rules, and the Rememberer, and 'White Fang' - well, wait until I change my plume for a lute. Another long day will then go by, but maybe there will be a time when I tell you.
As our good chronicler says, the adventures of the Band of the Scions supposedly end here... But I'm going to leave this thread open, in case you want to share some footnotes. If you want to describe what happened in the immediate aftermath of your return from the Forest Kingdom, and until the Battle of Asterion in the summer of 119, please feel free to do so here!
It was a slow, steady journey, with the old lady in a carriage surrounded by cushions to try and absorb some of the jolting as they travelled over the uneven ground. Johann and Agnetta could still ride, carefully, but Susanna was growing more frail as each week passed. She looked serene however, as they travelled towards the burial place of her grandfather. Looking out upon the field of blue flowers, her eyes filled with tears. "Even in death his spirit protects this place", she whispered.
They paused outside the hunting lodge to let the old lady exit the carriage, and stick in hand she led the way into the white building, James at her side. For many this place excuded a sort of sadness, almost a foreboding, but for these four there was an embracing warmth, and a sense of steadfast endurance. As Susanna looked upon the small plaque, she smiled, tears filling her eyes.
Here lieth Hrothgir, second of the Band of Agnarr, ranger of Marriott, and defender of the innocent against the fey.
"Well grandpa, you and grandma didn't do such a bad job for a couple of commoners, did you?" Her voice thick with emotion, Susanna leant on her stick. "I'll be coming to join you and little Agnetta soon I guess, but the family's in good hands, believe me."
Turning to Johann and Agnetta, she smiled. "I reckon the two of you haven't done so bad yourselves, my ma and my aunty would be proud of you both."
Lifting her stick and giving James a gentle prod, She added, "And you, young man, well mind you get married and father lots of children, there's the blood of heroes in your veins, nobody can doubt that now."
As James blushed red the tears ran freely down the old woman's cheeks. Her voice shrunk to a whisper with emotion, it took a couple of attempts for her to speak. "And that plaque, boy - well now, that warms my heart more than you can know. You've made an old woman truly happy and very, very proud."
They stayed until the shadows grew long, and as they rode away it seemed the white walls glowed as the setting sun set them on fire - like a beacon of hope shining brightly against the encroaching dark.