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The Adventures of Loviath

Part One

Aid Refused

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The Story So Far... (Based, partly, on an actual AD&D game)

The final battle between the Dalelands and the Scourge that had once been Sossal was winding down. What had begun as an annual competition between neighbouring towns, "Swordmeet", had finished as a "Battle Royale" between Good and Evil. And it would appear that the battle was not yet over.

Loviath, the ranger, led a band of people from Nethril, the Earth Mother's reward for Loviath's having completed her assigned task.

Surier, Corwin and Duthan had just returned from Rickter Island with the inimitable Dr. Rickter, a Godsend as it turned out. The wounded and the war-weary lay everywhere. Trapped between pockets of resistance, the group had stumbled upon a trio of defenders - the gnome, Herrel, the Drow Elf, Storm, and the woman Surier knew only as Morgan. Surier and Duthan arrived as Storm fell, badly burned by Witchfire. Morgan, for no apparent reason, collapsed, unconscious as well. It was up to Herrel, with help from Surier and Duthan, to defend the fallen. Dr. Rickter began to work on Storm. It was Corwin who discovered the evidence that not all was as it should be. Corwin, as Surier's apprentice, knew a bit about injuries and he could find none on Morgan. It was if she had suddenly just fallen asleep.

As night fell, Surier and the others hurried to a small cave not far from where the battle took place. Storm's injuries meant that he couldn't be carried back to the main camp safely. Dr. Rickter and Surier healed the worst of Storm's injuries. Corwin, his earlier shepherd's training coming in handy, agreed to escort Dr. Rickter back to the main camp and return in the morning with help. The dwarf, Duthan, and Herrel, took first watch. A low fire had been built just inside the cave. Brush had been piled up, making a small clearing in front of the cave, and hiding the light from unfriendly eyes.

Much to Surier's surprise, Corwin returned that night, bringing back only Loviath. "The main camp isn't that far away, but they move tomorrow at first light, to finish off Sossal. The leaders, Morn especially, claim that there are none available to act as litter bearers for Storm." Loviath, to judge from her tone of voice, was furious at the callous treatment the request for aid had been given. "The best they could do was to send this," and she flung a backpack onto the ground in disgust. It held rations for all, minor medical supplies, and an assortment of spell components. It wasn't much, but it was something.

She stopped and her whole expression changed. She sat down by the fire. "How are they?"

Surier took a deep, steadying breath. "Well enough. Storm will be stiff for a while yet, and once the new skin grows back," he chuckled ruefully, "itching like crazy. Morgan, though, I don't know." He had been sitting upon a log near the fire, but now got up to pace. "What ails her isn't physical. It's in her mind, and I don't know how to reach her."

Loviath looked at him in surprise.

Seeing her expression, Surier grimaced. "Well, I've never said that I was a God, you know. Just because some people think that, doesn't mean...." His voice trailed off bitterly. With an angry gesture, he turned. "I'm too tired to think right now. I'm going to get some sleep. Go or stay as you please." He stalked into the cave.

Loviath stared after him. She'd never seen him like this before.

Corwin coughed nervously. "He's been like that for hours, Loviath. I don't know what to do." The young lad was obviously worried.

Duthan and Herrel appeared then. "He's taking this badly, lass," Duthan said softly.

"But, it's not his fault," Loviath protested.

Duthan shrugged. "And that's supposed to stop him from feeling like he's failed?" he asked.

Loviath stared into the fire, silent. Her thoughts, however, were chaotic. Surier? Upset by his inability to reach Morgan? She thought back to the time when the three of them, herself, Surier and Karien had first met Morgan and her friends. At the time, Surier had thought he was in love with herself, but had she been wrong? Was she only a substitute for Morgan? That thought bothered her more than she cared to admit.

Herrel spoke up. "Loviat', ve vill do guart. You muss some sleep getten. He ..." and he pointed his chin in the direction of the cave, "vill tomorrow need you ." The gnome bustled about the fire, clearing a space for Loviath. "Come. Rest now."

Loviath smiled at the gnome. It never ceased to amaze and amuse her that, no matter how long he'd been away from his home, he still had that thick accent. It only got thicker and harder to understand when he was upset. Like now. Without a word, she unrolled her blankets and lay down in the cleared space. She drifted into a light sleep.

After breakfast the next morning, only Morgan didn't attend the meeting. Storm, moving gingerly, sat beside the scowling Surier. Neither looked as if they had slept well. Duthan and Herrel were on the edge of the circle, half in the conversation, half on guard. Corwin and Loviath sat opposite the cleric.

There was a long silence. Finally, Storm spoke up. "Loviath, you know of a way to help Morgan, don't you? If that's the only way we can reach her..." His voice faded. His reluctance was obvious.

Loviath started. She did? Surier stared at her. "Well?" He bit out.

She shook her head. "I'm not -"

Storm interrupted. "She taught you the 'Sharing Magik'."

Loviath's eyes widened. "Sharing...?" She was silent for a moment. Then, slowly, she agreed. "Yes. Well, she told me about it, but I'm not a cleric. I don't have the power to do something like that, even if I did know Morgan well enough to find her that way." The words came out in a rush.

"It doesn't require a Cleric's knowledge, girl. You know that," Storm said angrily.

"Sharing Magik?" Surier asked. "What's that?"

Loviath couldn't answer him. She blushed hotly and rose. "Storm, I can't... Not that.... I...." And she whirled and almost ran into the cave.

Corwin ventured an opinion. "Surier? Duthan, Herrel and I can guard the cave for you." He shook his head with a rueful grin. "This is going to be beyond my ability to help."

Storm nodded, distracted, otherwise he might have noticed Corwin's certainty. "Good idea, son. Why don't you set it up now?" He looked over at Herrel. "Can you give us a couple of hours? Morgan had said that it never took longer than that to get everything done."

Herrel grunted his assent. Spell-casting made him feel uncomfortable at the best of times. With a tip of his head to Corwin, who got up with surprising alacrity, and Duthan, the three wandered off to make their own plans.

Surier glared at Storm. "Are you planning to tell me what's going on? Or do I get to guess?" Storm stared levelly at the cleric for a long moment, until Surier flushed and said softly, "My apologies, Storm. That was uncalled for."

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