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January 8, 2001

�Kidnapped by the Shadow Imperium!�

Opal patted Sparrow, her pet ostard � a gift from Wraith, on the head as he strove to keep the pace she set through the forest. She was headed to the Golden Brew to see if she might relax a bit and watch the play the Golden Players were presenting.

"I promise, you can rest as soon as we are there...at least for a while," she urged the winded ostard, it's strides covering less distance then usual.

They arrived at the Golden Globe and Opal reigned Sparrow in. She tied him off in front of the Brew and, trying to stay unnoticed, made her way to the roof to see the play. The voice she had been hearing was still there, trying to persuade her to relinquish the remains to the Dark Tower.

The play was cancelled for the moment, due to some technical difficulties, so Opal went down to retrieve Sparrow. She mounted up, hoping to escape notice...but that did not happen. As she wheeled Sparrow around she saw a familiar face and nearly fell off of her mount. It was Kray.

She spoke to him, confiding in him what had been happening. And suddenly there was a commotion. Mrrshan, who had been at her side since hearing of her situation, was suddenly standing in front of her, brandishing his bardiche as if guarding her from something. She looked in the direction he was facing. The crowd was parting for a man dressed in black, wearing a single green sash. The Dread Lord Beldock.

At his approach, even Sparrow took a few steps backward.

"Give me the remains, Opal."

"I cannot."

"You will die if you do not relinquish them to the Dark Tower. The undead will hunt you until they have them, or you are dead. I ask you to give them to me... as man who once loved you. I rarely ask in public; I am asking you now in front of all these people, please."

Her cheeks flushed slightly at his words, and the world spun. All she could think was 'It's all a dream, let it all be a dream'. And at once her senses came back to her, all her memories and her thoughts were clear. No voice invaded her mind, and her purpose stood clear.

She leaned forward on Sparrow, and looked into Beldocks eyes.

"If you had ever really known me, you would know I cannot do what you ask," she said quietly.

"Very well. I wish you safety in your travels. Kal Ort Por." And he was gone. Sometime in the commotion, Kray had suggested she give the remains to Beldock, and had then disappeared. Wraith stood there. She was thankful there was a friendly face in the crowd. Even Mrrshan was exuding a hate so strong the scar on her hand throbbed slightly.

A cold sensation washed over the crowd as another being in black approached the area where she was standing. Azalin the Lich, of the Shadow Imperium. He was inquiring what was happening in her area. One of his subjects, Vladamir Threep, approached her.

"If you would, I should like to speak to you in private. Come."

The commotion in the crowd was making Sparrow nervous and Opal was feeling rather uncomfortable. So she followed into the gate he opened. As did Mrrshan.

They went inside the house and Vlad offered to help Opal in her endeavours to keep the remains of Na-Krul from those who would misuse them. After a time, she was allowed to leave. Mrrshan, however was ordered to guard her as he would Vlad. Something Opal found very odd, as Vlad was undead and served a lich. She went back to the Golden Brew, Mrsshan by her side, alert.

When they arrived, Mrrshan turned to scan the forest. Opal took this moment, and spurred Sparrow off into the forest. She heard Mrrshan curse behind her and Sparrow sprinted further and further away, leaving him behind. She needed time alone, too much was happening.

As she was finishing off a reaper, who was terrorizing some local homes, Mrrshan approached � But something was wrong, his eyes were hollow. As the reaper fell, she felt a blow to the back of her head, caused by the haft of the bardiche in Mrrshan's hands.

When she awoke, it was to cold water being thrown in her face. Mrrshan was holding her arms. Azalin the Lich stood on one side of her, and the Lady Cymidei, formerly of the Temple of Athala stood on her other. They were searching through her bags. Her mind screamed, "No!" But to her relief, they could not open all of them. The voice reassured her that these creatures would not find the remains.

Cymidei smiled reassuringly at her and stroked her cheek with one hand. Mrrshan released her and headed off down the stairs of the tower they were now standing on. Cymidei firmly grabbed one of her arms.

She spoke of destroying Na-Krul's remains upon the Shrine of Spirtuality with the righteous fires that sprang from it. The voice, always present, kept distracting her from what the Lady was saying. Finally Azalin handed an amulet to Cymidei. She offered it to Opal, saying it would protect her from spiritual energies. The moment she took the amulet, the voice fell silent in her mind. And the Lady Cymidei released her.

Her mind was clouded with confusion and emotion from the happenings of the eve, and she fled to the one spot she considered safe in the world...her patch of flowers. She sat there for many hours, not a sound disturbing her, when she heard the steps of a mounted rider approaching. It was Mrrshan. She picked up her staff and fell into a defensive position.

They had an exchange and he ran off. She ran after him. The ring upon his hand was no longer gold, but black. She tried to get him to be rid of it, but as he tried to fling it into the ocean his eyes went hollow again. He refused. Now she knew there was something the matter. He wore the pin of the Shadow Imperium. Not knowing what else to do, she looked at the amulet Cymidei had given her. Taking it in her hand, she flung it at him.

"Return that to your... lord and lady." She said as she wheeled Sparrow around and whispered the words that would take her to one of the places she felt safe.

Posted by Keith at January 8, 2001 2:58 PM

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