Chapter 1

Rayella sat deep in thought, her pale coloration sharply offset by the shadowy jet black of her companion, Lightning. Once an ordinary wolf, Lightning was warped by magic as a pup and now was a fully sentient being trapped in a large wolf's body. The fire flickered and reflected off of the crystal cavern around them casting eerie shadows that seemed to foretell the future yet mimic the past all in one subtle motion. Both of their minds were thinking along the same track, the immense party that had been at her home today. All of the people... Dearest Strongbow, Tizer, Father (Jared), Rik, and Brisid, Taelsin, Coriadae, Laerithil, and of course Nalynn. And as if Lightning had been reading her mind he lifted his head and commented.

"Ray, did you notice that Nal was acting a bit strange today?", he spoke mentally to her.

"Aye. Actually Light, I had been noticing that. I'm kind of worried."

"Riklaun said something about rediscovering her past, but I do not know what that meant. I think we should see if there is anything we can do for her."

"I was just about to suggest that."

"I wonder what it's like to figure out what you really are" his voice trailed off into that well worn path of thought: the path of not knowing what he was nor what he had been.

"Light.. you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine...," the wolf said rather brusquely with a scowl on his lupine face. "It's nothing."

"Let's go to Brisid's to see if we can run into Nal there, alright?" Lightning agreed and the pair moved out of the lair--the Elf of light and the once-wolf of shadow: a striking team in search of a friend.

Nalynn sat in her darkened room, lighted candles glowing warmly. She had re-read the diary several times, basking in the now-remembered memories of a time gone by, before she was an Elf. Though her husband was long dead, it was a comfort to her to have this precious chronicle. She placed the diary in a silk-lined mithril box and gently lowered it into the chest at the foot of the bed.

Returning to the small table, she examined the onyx necklace which had also been secreted away in the recesses of that ancient wall. It was a beautiful thing, though heavy - all that gold, no doubt. She took it and placed it in her jewelry box. To wear it in concert with the strand of emeralds Jared Syn had given her would be, well, just too showy.

She closed the lid, then re-opening it, took it out again. She placed it around her neck. As she studied her image in the mirror, she gently tucked the necklace inside her bodice. "So much the better," she said.

Blowing out the candles, she lay down on the bed, gazing at the stars in the night sky, until slumber overtook her.

A blood curdling scream broke the silence of the night. Nalynn bolted upright in her bed. She looked around in the darkened room and saw nothing. "Me'sambe" she said as light slowly filled the room. Nalynn quickly dressed and went outside. The drowsy Elf hurried down the streets of Floodblest to see what had happened. She saw Riklaun, Brisid and several other Elves standing near the guest quarters. She hurried over to them.

"What's going on?" Nal inquired. Riklaun, along with Tizer and Thranduil went inside the building. Nalynn started to enter the building, but Brisid stopped her.

"You do not want to go in there."

"Why? What's wrong?" She asked. Before Brisid could answer, Tizer came bursting out of the building clutching his gut. He did not get far when he started heaving. The door remained open and Nal caught a glimpse of inside. She gasped and turned away from the sight. She grabbed hold of Brisid tightly in a hug. "Gods, what happened in there?"

"We do not know. Edan found it when he came back. It was his brother in there." Brisid said.

The night was dark, yet the companions felt more at ease gliding under the cover of darkness than travelling in the revealing light of the sun. As the moonlight filtered through the trees the companions moved--an Elf of ice and a living shadow, their fluid motions foiling each other perfectly, each one attacking in the other's wake, leaving no survivors behind them. They parried and slashed, bit and clawed their way to Floodblest. Suddenly Lightning's ears perked up, and his attention was drawn in the direction of the Grey Company's guild hall. He began to run at a fast lope towards it, leaving Ray behind.

"Lightning, wait!" She yelled, trying desperately to catch up to him. "What is it Lightning?"

"A scream... From the hall. Hurry!" His pace gained just as Ray caught up to him.

When they arrived at the hall they found all of their friends, faces pale and saddened. Ray turned to Riklaun.

"Rik, what happened?"

"Tarion is dead." Riklaun said. "Someone or something got in the guest hall and slaughtered him. Starrbolt and Wild Wil are scouting out the area for tracks."

Lightning saw Edan and Jem Val'istar sitting on a nearby rock and lumbered over to them. He looked up into their faces with a sad look. Edan reached down and patted the animal. Lightning could tell that Edan was visibly shaken and rested his head on Edan's lap. Wild Wil wandered into the clearing with his scouting party.

"Riklaun, there is no evidence of hostile tracks in the area south of here." The rest of Wild Wil's party went over to console Edan. "If anything did get in here, it was not from the south."

"Thanks old friend." Riklaun said. Rik looked at Tizer. "I fear Starrbolt will not find anything either. Something about this attack makes me very uneasy. I will post guards through out the night."

Tizer looked around at the Elves gathered in the clearing. "Everyone, I suggest that you all go back to your homes and get some sleep. Edan, I would be honored if you and Jem would stay the night with me until this is cleared up." Edan looked up at Tizer.

"That is most generous, Lord Captain." Edan and Jem got up and went with Tizer to his home.

Riklaun gathered his Bladesingers together. "Okay, Modar, you will take the first watch on the south-west, Wild Wil, I want you on the south-east. Starr and Tadsbro watch the north-west and east. The rest of you go home and get some rest. Brisid, Songblayd, Von, and Bloodglade will take the second watch till morning."

As the Elves dispersed, Riklaun went back into the guest hall. He started looking for clues as to what could have possibly slaughtered this Elf without trace of footprints or weapon. Tarion's body was shredded as if a hundred wolves tore at his body all at once. This would be a long night indeed.

Nalynn, visibly shaken by the news of Tarion's death, turned away from the door to return to her quarters. As she began walking away from the scene, she noticed a dark shred of cloth hanging from a thistle. When she knelt to pick it up, she heard a voice behind her.

"Nalynn, did you find something?" called Brisid. Nalynn quickly secreted the cloth within her cloak and picked herself up.

"Nay, I... stumbled," she blurted out. "I'm fine."

"Okay. Get some sleep, mellon."

She nodded wordlessly and returned to her room, wondering why she hadn't turned in the cloth. Unable to sleep and frustrated by Riklaun's insistence that she not enter the quarters, she lit several lamps in her room and contemplated the evening's events. As the birds signaled the arrival of dawn, she extinguished the candles and retired to her bed, too exhausted to think any longer. Before sleep overtook her, she murmured a prayer for their fallen comrade and for his survivors. She had barely drifted off to sleep, it seemed, when she was abruptly awakened. She looked around, trying to discover what it was that woke her.

The room was awash in an eerie glow but she could not see its source. It was then that she heard his voice. "Beloved, I have come to warn thee. The forces of evil gather once again. I can do little to protect you; it grows increasingly difficult for me to cross the great Void. Never let my ring leave your finger."

"Braldt, my husband," she whispered, "I hear, but I cannot see you." The glowing light consolidated into a long, bright strand, like a serpent. It moved toward her paling with a foreboding of tragedies to come. The strand traced the outline of her mouth, as if to caress her, and it rapidly formed a face - distorted and cruel as the silent cobra and just as deadly.

"Beloved," it hissed, "Beloved indeed. You'll never see your precious husband again brave Elven lady. And soon, I shall possess you all. You, I think I shall save until last. I want you to watch all your friends die."

The serpent specter wrapped itself around her in a sordid embrace, tongue darting from its blackened mouth. "Yessssss, pretty Elf Lady, you and cursed Riklaun will be my final prizes. How I relish the suffering you are destined to endure."

Nalynn awoke with a start, heart pounding, drenched in sweat at the horrid vision. The room was empty, and morning still far. "Braldt! Oh Corellon, I am lost without him!" she moaned, as she brushed the tears of fear from her eyes.

Continue to Chapter 2