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The following pregame story concerns the characters played by Haleanna, Jason and Kevin. This is actually the first of several exchanges that were either constructed by the GMs or pursued by the players. I will post them in order. I thought it was pretty cool the way the makeshift team interacted both before the game online and during the game:

The Elven Council deliberated. That’s basically what they did. There was rarely anything that required an immediate answer and if it did it probably didn’t concern them. That was the nature of most elves. Not all, but most. There were, after all, times of crisis that required more immediate action than the tree-bound elves of Doro Y’Edhel were capable of making.

In the summer of 503, for example, the elves of the great forest were faced with a number of crisis moments that seemed to multiply like pixies in the Vesve. Foremost, the Queen was dying. It wouldn’t help to say that the Queen was sick. That had been said for years. No, the Council and the Court were preparing for a passing to the Other Place. It wasn’t exactly a sad moment for the elves, but it was one of uncertainty because there was no heir, only half-substantiated rumors of half-heirs who were only halfway aware that Doro Y’Edhel even existed. To complicate matters, the monster hordes of Uragoth had apparently united under one banner. For the first time in recent memories, the long-feared Orc Army was stirring in the Dark Forest to the east, and with a mighty king bringing all monsters, Orcine and Gobloid alike, together. Monsters united in purpose. A frightening prospect, even for elves. Despite reports from scouts and travelers, the details of the monster army were mostly sketchy and vague. It seemed a large portion of them were moving south toward Quivera, which was basically at Doro Y’Edhel’s back door.

For Saetei, the summer of 503 had been bittersweet. Queen Thielora was preparing to enter the Fey, where she would be whole once more. Saetei had served as a Court Scribe for most of her adult life, but when the Queen became so infirm that she permanently adopted her childhood language of the ancient Fey, she became the Royal interpreter. Despite Thielora’s feeble state, Saetei knew that the Queen would defy her tired body until her duties were fulfilled. It was sad to see the Queen in such pain, but Saetei drew strength and courage from where she could to help in whatever way she could.

For the last few weeks, Saetei had been working very hard with the Queen to settle several long-delayed matters of state with the Council. The rush was unnatural, but Saetei got the impression that the time for contemplation was well past. The Council was also a constant problem. They seemed unconcerned with the Queen’s need for decisive action. They knew that she wouldn’t live to see her most recent edicts through and, while they were not intending to be insensitive, they did have their own agenda.

On her way to the Queen’s chambers, Saetei passed, for the tenth time in as many days, a human man, dressed entirely in black, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet with his arms crossed. The gesture was distinctly human. It meant, “Okay, people, let’s get a move on. I’ve only got about another fifty or sixty years before I die of old age.” Saetei found the impatience of humans somewhat amusing, but she frequently reminded herself that she was twice the age of the oldest human and still considered young by elven standards. They barely had time to groom properly before they passed to... she didn’t exactly know where humans passed to. She hadn’t exactly spent a great deal of time with them.

On this particular day, however, Saetei found that the Queen’s outer chamber was relatively crowded with humans. And Black Rose knights, and Council Members and prominent Court officials. Of the elves there was no one that Saetei did not recognize, but they were uncharacteristically solemn and the concern etched on their faces was atypical. Saetei’s first thought was that the Queen had passed without the Ceremony, but the look of sadness that must have been growing on her face was quickly interpreted by Erdhiro, the wizened aide to the Queen who often acted as herald to any human visitors.

“She’s fine,” Erdhiro calmly stated. “But these humans are demanding help from the Black Rose knights and the Council refuses to act without the Queen’s authorization.”

“The Council is right,” Saetei found herself more sharp than necessary. “The Black Rose knights are the Queen’s to command, not the Council’s to assign.” Erdhiro nodded more deeply and formerly than necessary. He was simply relaying the information, but was wise enough to recognize that Saetei’s rise in emotion was the result of her fear that the Queen had passed without the formalities of the Ceremony. “I’m sorry,” Saetei replied in Elven. “I’m certain I am needed in chambers. She placed her hand on Erdhiro’s arm in thanks before skirting the crowd of eager diplomats.

In the meeting that followed, Saetei learned that the humans were from Quivera; an envoy sent directly by King Howarth V, the current king of Quivera’s many duchies. In the presentation that followed, the King’s man requested a legion of Black Rose knights to fight against the armies of Uragoth’s new king. The Earl, well-spoken even for a human, explained that the armies of Uragoth were currently massed along Quivera’s northern border. It had been less than a month since Saetei had translated the words of an Elven Ranger who had first seen this monster army under control of what he had described as a mammoth Orc king. The thought had made Saetei shudder and General Kyril Faenor, the Black Rose leader who was present for the report, openly wonder what this would mean for the elves. Now, to hear from a Quiveran human that the army was massed in a posture of war, made the realization all the more frightening.

As it turned out, the Council wasn’t interested in the Queen’s permission -- they were fully prepared to send the Quiveran emissaries back to Quivera with nothing. What they actually wanted was for the rejection to come from the Queen herself.

After the Earl graciously bowed to signal that he was done, Saetei turned to Thielora, who, looking even more perplexed than normal, said the unexpected. “What do you think Saetei?,“ the Queen almost whispered. “What would you do?”

Saetei was almost stunned. The Queen had certainly asked for her opinion before, but never in front of official emissaries or members of the Council. The only words that escaped Saetei’s lips were those of Oultori Endirikish, her former mentor’s. To Saetei, her answer was so contrived that she felt as if some spell might be upon her. Would she have uttered the words otherwise?

“Any knowledge worth having means there is a journey worth taking to learn it,” Saetei spoke. The advice didn’t even make sense. What Saetei wanted to say was, “We must prepare our own borders for the inevitability of war with the monsters,” or “Send a few scouts, but keep the Black Rose knights where they can best serve you, my Queen,” but instead Saetei sat back and let her useless, non sequitur stand as her opinion.

The Queen laid back and closed her eyes in what had clearly become a gesture of deep thought. She sighed before she turned her head toward Saetei and smiled.

“You are a beautiful flower, Saetei. How can you allow yourself to wither in the darkness of my chambers when you need sun and perhaps even a bit of adventure to bloom.” The Queen’s words were quite out of place to Saetei, who suddenly became acutely aware that the men in the room were waiting, nay expecting, an immediate translation. Saetei gulped at the men before making up an excuse rather than a true translation.

“She asks for a glass of water,” Saetei stated plainly. An immediate shuffling took over the chambers as the seven elves in the room stammered in vain to procure glass of water, of which one was within an arm’s reach of the Queen, who, either by coincidence or unconscious design on Saetei’s part, leaned forward for a drink.

The Queen sipped from her glass before turning to the chamber, this time with some sadness that Saetei could not read.

“I have decided to send a scouting party of Black Rose knights to the Silver Forest in Quivera to investigate this monster army,” the Queen was definitive but much more wooden than normal. She did not speak these words to Saetei directly as was the practice, but rather to the entire room of observers, none of whom could fully comprehend her ancient, unused language.

Saetei translated for all present, some of whom opened their mouths as if to protest, while most just bowed their heads in respect for the decision.

“If there is a genuine threat, it will affect all who share a border with Uragoth,” said the Queen, who had not spoken so clearly and decisively for many months. Saetei again translated the words into Common. The Earl seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, clearly receiving more than he had expected even though he had only been given a small fraction of his request.

“Saetei ‘in’ yae Aulushte Traikauop,” the Queen intoned in her ancient language. It took Saetei a moment to realize that Thielora was not addressing her directly, but actually mentioning her by name. “...will lead the knights to Quivera to confirm the presence and ascertain the motives of this monster army. After she returns with the report, the Council will have my orders.”

Saetei was too stunned to speak, too stunned to finish her translation. She wasn’t going to be able to fake a glass of water request this time. She translated.

“She wants me to go,” Saetei mumbled uncertainty. “I am to lead the party of knights.”

A sudden hush fell over the room as all eyes fell upon Saetei, whose glare was fixed solidly at her own two feet. The Queen whispered something in her ear and Saetei turned to General Faenor with the translation.

“She wants to borrow your sword,” Saetei, more calm than moments before, bluntly stated as she dropped to one knee.

General Faenor, who had always been polite and respectful toward Saetei, didn’t hesitate to place his sword in Thielora’s weak hands. The Queen spoke words that Saetei had heard a number of times before. Words, in fact, that she had sworn to uphold even though she never believed or imagined that she would wear the mantle of the Black Rose. The words were spoken as though incantations of an ancient spell. Thielora tried to raise Feanor’s sword to Saetei’s shoulder, but she didn’t have the strength. With a look to Faenor, the General gently stepped forward and placed the tip of his sword on Saetei’s left shoulder.

“Dost thou swear to serve the Royal Family of Doro Y’Edhel with thy life?” The Queen asked in the ancient tongue of her ancestors.

“With my life,” was Saetei’s automatic reply.

After another glance to Feanor, the General assisted Thielora in moving the sword to Saetei’s right shoulder. “Dost thou swear to revere and uphold the creeds and values of Auberick, Lord of the Fae?” Thielora asked as though her strength was rising.

“With all my heart,” Saetei answered.

Another shift of the sword back to Saetei’s left shoulder and the Queen asked, “Dost thou swear to stand for those Elves in need, to speak and act in their defense?”

“Whenever and wherever I am able,” Saetei replied with conviction.

“Then rise, Saetei ‘in’ yae Aulushta Trailkauop, and join thy brothers and sisters of the Black Rose. “ When she rose, Saetei was a knight of the Black Rose.

Thielora laid back in her bed and closed her eyes and Saetei knew the meeting was over. There would be no discussion or debate about what would happen next. The Council could ponder the issue for days, but the matter, as far as the the Black Rose were concerned, was over. Saetei would travel to Quivera in search of a monster army with the hope of ascertaining its intention. She was mildly disheartened when Mythra’noema, an aging scholar of languages, was requested to takeover translation duties for Thielora. Mythra’noema was old, more in attitude than in age. She would perform the task well enough, but she would forget to care for the Queen rather than just recite her words.

In the aftermath of the meeting, General Faenor spoke at length with Saetei, who was still somewhat dazed by the turn of events that had led her down such an unusual path. Saetei was given a tabard and a sheet of paper to write down her needs for the coming mission. General Faenor never spoke down to Saetei or questioned the Queen’s wisdom, even though she was certain that he must have doubts. Before long, Saetei was introduced to an elf, Er’din of the Duin’lith, who also wore the symbol of the Black Rose on their tabards.

“Er’din will be under your command,” the General spoke to Saetei with practiced evenness. “And there is something else.” He paused almost in embarrassment. “I need you to escort someone, a friend of Menassah’s.”

Saetei tried to evaluate why Faenor might think the request embarrassing. Menassah is almost a legend in the Queen’s ranks and a true servant to Arbredhel. Why would she be anything but pleased with the request.

“The human Hadrian,” Faenor stated bluntly. “...needs an escort out of Doro Y'Edhel to Rynith. You need only take him as far as the Halgudar border before he’s on his own.”

“But, I... what if?... how can?... ,” Saetei couldn’t express herself. She had no frame of reference and very little experience with humans who weren’t standing before the Queen or Council with some official request that required them to have perfect, studied manners. Her stammering was not answered before Hadrian was brought before her and once again introduced.

“So,” Hadrian clapped his hands together and rubbed them as though they might be cold. “...when do we leave?”

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