Medievia Mudslinger

May 6, 2001

Mayella - by Karina

The old librarian took the book from the shelf and walked gingerly over to the semi-circle of young ones that came to listen to the tales of old. She sat in the chair near the fire in front of the eager little faces that surrounded her. She adjusted her silver spectacles carefully and tucked an unruly gray strand behind her ear, pausing purposefully for the dramatic effect.

The librarian smiled and opened the ancient text on her lap. She surveyed the sea of pigtails and cow-licks and started gently, "Long ago, before the time when clans had towns, many clans settled themselves in either the City of Medievia or Trellor. Other clans were nomadic, wandering in search of a permanent home. One such clan, in this bygone time of Medievia, was a clan called the Nomads of the Seven Winds. They have gone, now, dispersed with the changing of the continents and the coming of the Kingdoms of Old, but their story lives on. This is but one chapter from their history..."

With that, the old matron began to read:

For many years the clan had been wandering, city to city, village to village, each day blending into the next until all was a blur. It had been so long since they had called any place "home" some had forgotten that it had ever existed at all.

Most of the youngsters had no heart for the journey - no passion for the endless search that filled each waking thought of the elders. It had become normal, another routine of their everyday lives. The writings and teachings that had once been the spiritual mainstay of the clan were routinely subject to question, if only in thought. Were they really in search of a savior who would lead them to a glorious new homeland? Was he and his lineage to be conqueror of their enemies and their ruler for all time? Or were they just the ramblings of a madman?

Twelve year old Mayella was the fifth youngest daughter of Cook, the lowest ranked member of the council of elders. She ignored the cynical remarks of her peers and had dreamed her whole life of the Chosen One, or rather of the things he would bring. She dreamed of a home, a small cottage on the outskirts of a village somewhere - perhaps one very much like the one they were traveling toward this year. It would be just small enough not to be considered an official city, she decided, but large enough to have its own baker, whose breads and pastries would fill the morning air with their sweet, comforting scents. It would definitely have its own post office, with a friendly clerk who would hand her packages filled with chocolates and pretty dresses. Maybe it would be in need of a seamstress, or a seamstress's apprentice, she told herself. She could take the shiny gold coins she earned for her work into the village bank where the cheerful teller would thank her for her business.

Most importantly, it would be somewhere the Nomads weren't regarded as "filthy gypsies," like she had heard one woman in Trellor say... It would be someplace for them to call home.

"BYAH!" shouted Mayella's older brother as he rode up fast behind her. He whapped her head, knocking her down flat back into reality, barely missing a steaming pile of horse-dirt on the winding forest path. "Daydreaming again squirrel-bait?" He laughed heartily staring down at her from his charger, who pawed the ground in anticipation of another wild jaunt. His steely-gray eyes for which he was named glittered mischievously in the sunlight.

"FLINT! I'm telling MOTHER," Mayella stared back at him with hard eyes. "She said you'd best leave me alone because I'm a young lady now." She got up and dusted herself off haughtily, smoothing out her now grass-stained skirts.

The boy snickered and shook his head. He clicked at the horse and pressed his heels into its body. The girl watched them sullenly as they frolicked around the caravan, weaving in-between the wagons and riders with the other boys.

"His is the soul of a sprite," a soft voice spoke out from behind Mayella. She felt the soft, reassuring hand of her friend Sevina on her shoulder.

"Yah, and the face of a banelar," Mayella spat. Both girls giggled. "He thinks he's so hot, just because he's thirteen and a man now. He's no man, he's a boy with a man's age!"

Sevina giggled, "Oh, I don't know..." She blushed and turned her interests towards braiding her long, black hair.

Mayella rolled her eyes. "You are just sick. He's my brother!"

"Come on or we'll fall behind. You remember last time and I do not want to have to worry about that many road-apples again!" She grabbed her friend's hand and walked faster towards the others.

Towards midday the caravan stopped, and the clan gathered for supper. Mayella was glad for it, too. She was too big to ride in the childrens' wagon now, not old enough to ride in the ageds' wagon- even to help care for them during the long journey, and she hadn't yet earned the right to learn to ride or care for her own horse. She sighed happily as she unlaced her boots and wiggled her toes in the fresh spring air. She laid back in a patch of daisies on a nearby gnoll listening to the sound of the cooks preparing the meal, of conversation and laughter...

In her dreams Mayella heard the horrible sound of screams, of fires blazing. A man's head impaled upon a half-charred sign reading "RO DALE". A ray of morning light shone through the smoke and ashes to the body of a red-haired woman. Mayella looked closer and saw a tiny, wriggling bundle still clutched tight to the dead woman's breast. Suddenly the sound of hoofs from out of nowhere were coming nearer and nearer. Mayella snatched the baby and hid behind a barrel, shivering, trying her best to quiet its tiny cries. Then all became silent. Thirsty from the heat and smoke of the fires she stood and drew back the cover of the barrel. She saw her reflection in a pool of blood and heard hideous laughter. A terrible chill came across her as a form joined hers in the reflection - then all was black.

Sevina shook Mayella awake, "I SAID it's dinner time, Mayella, wake up!"

Mayella sat up with a jolt, sweating and panicked. In a flurry of words and hand-gestures understood only by teenage girls she told the wide-eyed Sevina the story of her daymare. Sevina helped her to her feet then stood slack-jawed staring at the place where Mayella had been sleeping.

"R-r-r-ring," she stammered, pointing to the perfect circle of tiny flowers and mushrooms that had enveloped the place where Mayella's head had lain.

"FAIRY-RING," the girls screamed in unison, running down the knoll toward the group of benches and tables that encircled the cooking pots.

"Mayella, you have GOT to tell Larsen," Sevina said solemnly. Mayella shivered, wringing her hands in worry. "It was a gift, given to you by the fairies themselves, it's your clan duty to tell him."

Mayella nodded and looked towards Larsen, the clan's Shaman and chief advisor to Objek- leader of the Nomads. "Tomorrow, perhaps."

"No," said Sevina sternly, "tonight or I will." Startled by the firm decisiveness of her otherwise bashful friend, Mayella could only nod her head.

After a silent supper of venison stew, the girls walked together to the table where Larsen sat and formally requested an audience. The other adults at the table were bemused by the seriousness by which the two presented themselves and nodded chuckling nods towards one another. Larsen seemed to sense the urgency of the matter. He nodded towards his wagon and rose to walk with them.

Mayella felt as if she'd swallowed a stone as he stood, towering over them, while she told him her tale. Larsen nodded thoughtfully and called over his wife to join them. Baylenn listened as carefully as her husband had, and without a word stepped into the wagon and began rummaging through an old chest. Larsen knelt before the girl and took her by the hand.

"I believe you young one. I do believe it was more than a nightmare. You know my wife is a seer," the girls nodded slowly, glancing into the wagon at the Shaman's mysterious wife with reverence. "She, too, has had a dream of this place, just the night before last, though not with as much detail as you have just told me."

Sevina looked over at Mayella strangely, as one who has just looked upon their first banelar, but she stood fast at the girl's side. Baylenn emerged from the wagon with a small satchel. From it, she took a piece of paper and a fresh quill and drew a strange symbol. "Did you see anything that looked like this anywhere in your dream?" Larsen asked, pointing to the squiggle on the paper.

Mayella squeezed her eyes shut, trying desperately to replay the dream. She opened them and shook her head no. Larsen sighed heavily. Baylenn pursed her lips and took a small crystal ball out of the satchel. She sat and gazed deeply into the crystal ball, losing herself in it for a moment. Her eyes seemed to be searching, reading, watching something inside the ball neither of the girls could see. Suddenly a faint light started to glow inside the ball. Mayella looked harder into the ball and saw again the form that had stood behind her in her dream, dark and foreboding. She drew back in terror.

Baylenn smiled a sad smile and nodded at Larsen. She tugged at Mayella's skirts, forcing her down beside her. Baylenn took the girl's hand into her own and smiled into her eyes reassuringly. She took the crystal ball and placed it into Mayella's palm. Same as before, but brighter now, the ball began to glow.

"Look inside," Larsen urged.

Mayella drew in a deep breath and looked deep inside the sparkling light within the crystal. Instead of the dark terror she had seen before, Mayella saw the red-head woman rocking her baby to sleep. She could hear the woman's soft lullaby and felt the warm glow of the candlelight as if she were in the same room. The baby gurgled happily as it sucked on its fist and slowly drifted off to sleep. The woman drew a soft, creamy shawl of lambswool around the both of them. Much to Mayella's surprise, embroidered on the shawl in elegant deep blue stitching was a symbol much like the squiggle Baylenn had drawn before.

The scene was so peaceful, Mayella felt like she could stay in it forever. She was drawn back to reality by Objek's booming voice commanding the wagons reassemble and start back on their way. Mayella looked over at Baylenn, whose eyes were brimming with tears. "I don't understand," she said.

"We think it is him," Larsen said quietly, wrapping his arms around his wife. "The Chosen One."



The journey towards Robinsdale seemed longer now than ever. Were they really about to find him? Was she a seer like Baylenn? So many questions filled Mayella's head. Many more than she could ever have answers, she thought. It occurred to her that she didn't even really know Baylenn like the others. The clan was very tight-knit, each member knew every other one of them like they knew themselves- except for Baylenn. Baylenn wasn't an extraordinarily beautiful woman. She was rather thin and spindly really... Mayella thought. She certainly stood out in the group of curvaceous clanswomen. She had long dark, mahogany hair, not at all akin to the rest of the clan's beautiful black hair. And her eyes were not the eyes of a clansman either, they were forest green with flecks of gold, like a tree in autumn, and when she looked at you they almost seemed to speak... Mayella thought about her own brown eyes with sudden disdain and began to wonder how such a respected elder such as Larsen could have seen fit to marry an Outsider. The girl admonished herself for feeling such things for the woman. Regardless of how she came to be a part of their family she WAS a part of their family and that's all that mattered. Mayella hated it when her mother's voice spoke inside her head.

Mayella couldn't remember when Baylenn had joined the clan. She also could never remember hearing her speak. She tried asking the adults closest to her about the mysterious woman, but none of them could remember- or would tell her, she surmised, anything about her.

Mayella knew it was wrong to dwell so much on the affairs of others, but she had plenty of time to herself to think since Sevina had started to avoid her. She had made the excuse that she was going to try and earn her way to a horse, but Mayella knew the truth. Sevina had been acting strangely since that dream, Mayella decided. She and the other girls dared not whisper or say mean things about her, such was not the way of the clan, Mayella knew. But she couldn't help but get the feeling that they knew, they all knew, and suddenly she, too, felt like an Outsider. Objek had announced it was only two days more to Robinsdale.

Having no one to talk to or even walk with made it feel like two years to the girl. She had hoped that perhaps her Mother would be willing to let her ride in the wagon, just for today, but there was no room for her and the other children and all their belongings. Besides, her mother had asked, you're a young lady now - wouldn't you rather be with your friends? She didn't know, and Mayella decided she couldn't tell her. She couldn't bear for her own Mother to see her as an outsider, as she was sure the others did.

Suddenly the caravan stopped. A feeling of panic washed over Mayella. The elders were called out of their wagons to the front to meet with Objek. It was less than an hour later that the announcement came- they were going to stop for the night. Mayella puzzled over it, they had never stopped to sleep before sunset and it was only midday, they hadn't even had supper yet and were stopping for the whole night?

Mayella sighed and found a place beneath a nearby tree. She waited until the caravan had formed its protective circle in a nearby clearing to go find her parents wagon and dig out her blankets. She was stopped on the way by Larsen's soft baritone.

"Mayella, you'll be staying and traveling with my family from now on," he said. He outstretched his hand to her. She took it and smiled, glad for the chance to finally belong somewhere - maybe even to find out some of Baylenn's secrets.

As the pair walked towards the front of the caravan, Mayella could feel the weight of her friends' stares on her back. They passed all the wagons with plain canvas coverings, the open wagons, the people on horseback and on foot, and finally came to the last in the line of the fancier wagons. It was beautiful, Mayella thought, with real glass windows and wooden walls and even a real wooden roof. It was almost like a mini house on wheels. She almost burst with happiness, but Larsen passed it. Instead, he walked to the back door of an even bigger wagon.

Larsen and Baylenn's wagon was most comfortable. Mayella didn't understand how they could survive on so little supplies in their wagon, but she figured it was easier without ten children to care for. Larsen watched the girl study the wagon, bemused. "You have questions," he chuckled genially. She squirmed and nodded slowly. "Go ahead, we're stopped for the night anyway."

Mayella gazed around at the many plush blankets and comfortable looking pillows stacked all around the wagon. They seemed to cover everything- draped over various chests and benches. It was almost like a sultan's paradise to the girl. Being born of one of the clan's poorer families, she had never seen such luxuries.

"Where is your wife?" she asked boldly.

Larsen coughed and smiled a half-smile. "She is out in the woods gathering berries and herbs," he said. "You're very curious about her aren't you? Most people are," he said knowingly.

Mayella nodded bashfully, not wanting to seem nosy or gossipy. Larsen looked at Mayella thoughtfully, almost seeming to see inside her mind. Mayella squirmed uncomfortably at the thought.

"You can keep a secret, can't you," he said. "If I trust you and tell you what you want to know, you must never tell another soul, not even a fellow clan member."

Mayella nodded eagerly. Larsen sat across from her. "Baylenn's true name is Lovella. She is the daughter of a half-fairy and a simple woodcutter." Mayella gasped at the thought.

"Yes Mayella, Baylenn is one of the many granddaughters of the Queen of the Fairies. The Queen was furious when she found that one of her daughters had run off with a simple peasant, and a human at that. Baylenn's father was killed immediately, and her mother was banished from the forest. I met Baylenn long before you were born, in the village of Godun - it's gone now but it used to sit on the southern coast. She and her mother had been living as our clan was, as gypsies, selling their gifts of sight beyond sight out of the back of a simple wagon." Larsen sighed sorrowfully. Tears began to well in Mayella's eyes for Baylenn's plight.

"The people of Godun were...a fervently religious breed. They saw them as an abomination. Baylenn's mother was being stoned to death when a couple of us rode in as a scouting party. I saw her there trying to protect the old woman from the rocks. I saw her strength and her heart and I decided then and there that I would be forever hers. It was crazy when I think about it now, but we rode in and stopped them...somehow, something we did or what we said stopped them from killing her, too." Larsen shrugged and smiled softly, "I can never say the gods aren't watching us every day, and I thank Vryce for it."

Mayella wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled. "Why is she called Baylenn?" she asked.

"When Lovella's mother was killed, I got Objek's permission and asked her to join our clan. At that moment she said that so long as people hunted her for what she was, she would no longer be it and bring danger to our clan. At her confirmation she told the clan that Lovella no longer existed- that she wanted to be solely a part of our family and asked for a clan name. Objek was so moved he made her a part of his own blood and christened her Baylenn."

Mayella nodded. "Why have you no children?" she asked.

Larsen winced as if pierced with an arrow. "We were married for the longest time when our prayers for a child were finally answered by the gods," he began, sighing heavily. "It was to be a girl child, right about the time you were born I think.. It was during the time of the war with the Knights of the Tower."

Mayella frowned. She had heard the stories of the Knights of the Tower. She knew all too well what happened during the time before her birth - the war the Knights waged on the peaceful Nomads.

"They are generally honorable fighters," Larsen continued. "They normally don't attack the defenseless, it is against their code. The war was brought on by one of their warriors called Dooley, a bloodthirsty lout who later started the Dark Raiders clan."

Mayella shivered at the name. The Dark Raiders were known for their indiscriminate killing of anything living, and destruction of anything beautiful. They were said to even worship the last of the Dark Gods Himself.

"He stole upon the place where we had hidden the defenseless - the aged, the children, the sick and infirm. He killed them all with sprays of acid - they had no way to escape. Baylenn survived but the child was lost - she hasn't spoken since except in telepaths to me," Larsen said.

"I'm so sorry," Mayella began, stammering an apology for her impertinence in even asking things that caused undue pain.

"No need," said Larsen wiping the mist from his own eyes. "It was a long time ago.. it's over and done with now."

Courtesy stopped Mayella from asking why they couldn't just try to have another child, or telling him they'd be such wonderful parents and it was almost a shame for them not to have one. She sighed and stretched her legs out.

Baylenn entered the wagon a short time later with a basket brimming with freshly picked berries. She smiled joyfully at Mayella and sat the basket on the girl's lap. Mayella smiled back and held the basket dutifully. Baylenn laughed a silent laugh and nodded at the berries, seeming to say go on, have some!

Mayella had never tasted anything so sweet and delicious as the berries they shared that night. She had never spent a night so comfortable and warm as in the wagon in her own bed of pillows and fuzzy down blankets as that night.

Mayella wasn't awakened by the sound of hitches and the groans of early-risers at first light the next morning. She was, instead, roused quite a bit later than usual by the gentle rhythmic clinking of pots and pans hung on the wagon's walls. She sat up and was greeted by Bayleen's warm, enveloping smile from across the room where she sat reading.



Just as Mayella could see the midday sun peaking in the sky through the stained-glass windows in Larsen and Baylenn's wagon, the caravan stopped. Finally, thought Mayella. The Nomads of the Seven Winds had finally come to Robinsdale. Baylenn could see the excitement on the girl's face and let her out of the wagon first.

Instead of the bustling village Mayella had expected to see, she was met with a cloud of billowing smoke rushing towards her like a beast lunges towards its prey. She fell back, gasping and looked up to see Baylenn's horrified expression as she surveyed the area. Mayella stood and stepped closer to Baylenn. The woman grasped Mayella's hand and led her into the village as if in a trance. The elders and knights had gathered in defense in front of the caravan trying to protect the clan from anything that might have laid the village to such waste. Mayella could hear the murmurs from the crowd that gathered as Baylenn pushed their way through.

"Was it a dragon?" someone shouted from the back of the crowd- Sevina's father, Mayella recognized.

One of the knight-heroes shook her head and shouted back, "No, no tracks, no scent, and there is no gold here. A dragon would not have done this."

Objek ordered the clan to sit tight and guard the caravan while he and a few of the knight-heroes checked the town. Baylenn, with Mayella in tow close behind her, came upon the row of knights who stood as a barrier between the curious crowd and the unknown dangers of the ruined village. She had only to touch his arm and look him in the eye before he bowed his head and let them pass.

Baylenn raised her hand, almost as if calling upon a gust of wind. A gentle breeze blew aside some of the smoke and ashes. Baylenn clamped her hand over the girl's eyes a second too late, and Mayella had to stifle a scream. They had come upon a half-charred sign that might have once said "Welcome to Robinsdale", but had been burnt to say only "RO DALE". Atop the signpost had been mounted a bloodied head.

Baylenn spun Mayella around to face her, turning her back to the gruesome sight. She looked deep into her eyes and took a breath. Mayella nodded her head and knew what she must do. She was here to find the child. Mayella knew this place, if only from a short dream. She led Bayleen to the small house where she had seen the woman rocking the baby. She looked around and retrieved the shawl, tossed haphazardly on the floor as if by one who had fled. It was dirty and smelled of smoke, but it had miraculously survived the fire and felt exactly as Mayella had imagined it would, creamy soft lambswool. She folded it carefully up in her hands and tried not to look around any further. She looked out the door at an overturned wagon. Its contents, barrels of wine, had been spilled everywhere except for a few that were spared long enough to be emptied by the raiders of the town. Raiders, Mayella thought .. Dark Raiders. They're the only ones who would do this. Baylenn nodded at her, as if she had been reading her thoughts all along, and urged her continue forward. Barrels, Mayella thought...something about barrels. The blood inside wasn't blood at all, it was wine.

There were three barrels off by the side of a building. She had remembered, she'd hidden behind them in her dream. Mayella's thoughts ran wildly through her head as she quickened her pace. The woman had been near enough to the barrels for her to hide quickly. She searched in the rubble, watching carefully and listening for any signs of life. Mayella tried to ignore the dead, the charred body hunched over still clutching at a sword in its chest, a headless body laying where it fell. A sickening bitter lump rose in her throat at the stench and horror. Baylenn put her hand on the girl's head reassuringly and urged her on. Without a word Baylenn reminded her of the importance of finding the child.

Mayella wrung her hands in frustration, straining to hear even the faintest of cries - desperate to see even the slightest twitch. She circled the building slowly, almost without hope. It didn't seem as if anyone had survived the massacre - how could a baby even have lived through the smoke? Mayella's eyes began to flood with tears of despair, sadness, and pure hate for the Raiders. How could the gods allow anyone so cruel to go on doing such horrible things? She sat on a barrel which had toppled over on its side and wept uncontrollably.

Baylenn could do nothing but hold the sobbing girl. The smoke seemed to be thickening around them and time was precious. Baylenn held her hand up to the sky once more and called down a gust of wind to blow some of the smoke away. The wind seemed to kiss Mayella's tears and whisper words of hope in her ears. She looked up towards the sky, as if for answers from her gods.

Baylenn called once more for wind to clear away the smoke and ash. It wasn't but a breeze but it was enough for the sun to shine through the haze. Mayella followed a single ray of light down from the sky through the smoke and saw a glittering of red hair blowing softly in the breeze. Mayella stood up with a shot and raced over towards the red hair, only a few feet away from the barrels near the other side of the building. Baylenn followed close behind. The two stumbled over what seemed like a mountain of debris before reaching the dead woman's body. She lay there on her side with her back turned towards them. She was broken and cold, the woman from inside Baylenn's crystal ball. Mayella was grateful that the woman's eyes were closed and her face looked peaceful, but she couldn't help but be almost completely consumed with grief for this poor woman. She couldn't see what killed her, and Mayella knew she didn't want to. She stood there, watching, while Baylenn turned her over and gently took the wriggling bundle from the woman's arms.

Terror came over Mayella. In her dream, after she had retrieved the baby, the form had tried to get her. She looked at Baylenn alarmed and tugged at her arm desperately. "We have to GO!" she whispered. Baylenn looked around and nodded. She handed the baby to Mayella and pointed the way back to the caravan.

Mayella hurried as fast as she could, holding the baby close to her. She was trying so hard to be careful not to drop it. She could hear Baylenn's footsteps following close behind her.

What happened next was a blur to Mayella. She remembered the faint sound of hoofs in the vicinity, coming steadily towards them. She didn't look back, she ran as fast as she could, screaming baby and all, towards the safety of her clan. She could see them just beyond that last house, just after the sign. The knight-heroes came rushing out to meet her, swords drawn. Mayella didn't look back, she didn't want to. She knew what was back there. She wasn't sure where Baylenn was now, all she knew was that she had to save the baby.

She reached the safety of the edge of town and dropped to her knees from exhaustion. She was picked up and carried back to the group by one of the elders. From there she watched in amazement - the clan's knight-heroes were fighting the form from her dream.

"Who is that?" she asked aloud.

"Dooley himself," answered one of the aged.

Mayella relaxed her grip on the baby in her arms, suddenly aware again of its presence. She refused the offers of the clanswomen to take it from her. She rocked slowly, watching the battle unfold ahead. "It's not often he fights himself, he usually sends in one of his lackeys," snorted another.

The crowd screamed in fury as Dooley's sword ran through Sherrod, one of their bravest fighters. The knight-heroes were retreating, slowly, more concerned with guarding the group than killing Dooley.

"Run Nomads, RUN!" Dooley jeered from atop his horse. "I can kill you ALL anytime I want." He sneered wickedly and laughed a hideous laugh. Mayella gasped with surprise as a huge ball of fire enveloped Dooley, barely singing him. From out of the dust and smoke behind Dooley rose Baylenn, awash in sparkling white light.

Dooley chuckled. "You?" He pointed at Baylenn and roared with laughter. "Objek I come for a fight and THIS is the best you can do?" He waved his hand at the knights standing in front of him. "Well, I will have a kill today, who shall it be?"

Several of the knights gritted their teeth and looked towards Objek for his approval. Objek pressed his lips and shook his head no.

"This is Baylenn's fight," he conceded.

Baylenn rose her hands to the sky and shouted words incomprehensible to Mayella, calling down a column of flame to consume Dooley. Though his horse fell to ashes, Dooley stood up singed- and very angry.

Dooley rushed at Baylenn, sword drawn, when she suddenly split from one into twelve Baylenns, circling and glaring at him. Dooley slashed at each one fruitlessly while she called another column of flame.

Baylenn laughed aloud as the large man swung his sword like a jumprope, trying to guess which image was the true Baylenn. "I remember you, he roared. I remember I took you so easily then, I could have iced you. I killed your little baby though didn't I? Awww.. is mommy mad?" he spat.

Baylenn's laughter turned to a strange look of pity and contempt. Once again she shouted up at the sky in a strange tongue. This time, though, instead of a great column of flame, a giant white hammer appeared in her hands. It was wielded in her hand as if wielded through her by a god. Dooley rushed at her in a blur of evil as she swung the hammer. The ghostly hammer passed through the body of Dooley making a terrific sound like a blacksmith's hammer on iron, shattering his very soul, then disappearing.

Dooley fell limp to the ground, stunned and shaking. Baylenn walked closer towards him. Larsen walked out from the crowd to join her in standing over him. He snatched the sword from Dooley's hand. Dooley's pleas for an honorable and quick death were inaudible to the crowd. Larsen and Baylenn looked up towards Objek for an answer. Objek nodded towards them in silent agreement.

While Mayella and the rest of the Nomads looked on, Larsen quickly and effortlessly relieved Dooley of his life with a single stroke of his own sword.

Dooley's body vanished as quickly as he himself had appeared.

"He'll be back," Objek muttered. "In whatever incarnation he can, he will be back."

Objek nodded to the Nomads to gather themselves up and prepare for another night's travel. And so they did, leaving the city of Robinsdale to ruin.

The baby came to be known by Objek as Lovel, in reverence for the one whose power had saved his young life. He was found to be miraculously healthy and unharmed by all that had befallen him. Though Mayella had fallen in love with the little one, she turned him happily over to the care and guidance of Larsen and Baylenn. She remained, also, in their care and tutelage in the ways of magic, and acted as elder sister and guardian to Lovel.

The librarian looked up and smiled, pleased at the expressions of interest from her audience.

"There are some end notes, scribbled on the margins of the text in red ink... most likely by the old scholar that retrieved this book in the first place. He writes, 'It was decided, whether or not Lovel was the Chosen One, who would lead them to a homeland of their own, that the Nomads would be just that, and keep traveling partially in search of a place to call their own, and partially to escape the revenge of the Dark Raiders.'

"As to whether or not little Lovel really is the Chosen One, that is something that had yet to be seen in another of the Nomads' chapters. The ruins of the city of Robinsdale have never been found, though the scholar writes here at the bottom that he speculates that it later rose and fell as "Kanaya" and later as the City of Karlisna.. no notes as to why he thinks that though unless it's from his analyses of the rest of the chapters. I believe he may have put together the trail that the Nomads followed.

"Very few travelers know of the Nomads, and even further know about the city they founded and the treasures that are supposed to have been buried beneath in its destruction. I, for one, don't think it's Karlisna... but then who knows?"

The old woman winked her eye and closed the book softly. "Maybe one of you, when you grow up and go out into the world to seek your adventures will find the answer for all of us."

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