SECOND ROGUE, SECOND HOUR: AN EVERQUEST NOVEL
(Author's Note: I've changed a few things in both installments since you last read them--Mylennia is now a half-Barbarian (Human) Bard. She still follows Rallos Zek, though, and she grew up in Halas so her history is unchanged. Also, Lady Licinia Duqeynos and Stormfollower are real player characters in the world of Norrath and EverQuest! They both gave me their glad permission to use their names and personages in this story, which is an adaptation of a roleplay encounter we had in-game. )
Chapter I: New City, New Allies (Seasons 1-5)
It is said that Rallos Zek, the Warlord, gives strength at birth to the sentient beings who will eventually choose to follow him. I believed it, or at least I felt that I must. Without strength, I could never flee Halas. I would be caught by those who wished to pursue and punish me, namely High Priestess Margyn McCann and the Shamen of Justice. Before I left me home for good, the eight kilons I had stolen tucked safely away into the bodice of my cloth corset, I knelt down in the snow and prayed to Zek for the strength he was to have granted me. Luckily, he gave me speed and will, and soon I was on my way to the closest city of which I knew: Qeynos, the City of Men.
Qeynos was presided over by the benevolent ruler Antonius Bayle the Fourth, and thus it was a beacon of light and hope to weary travelers like meself. Even though the cities of Qeynos and Halas were formally aligned--one to the temperate south and one to the frozen north--I hoped that the guards in the City of Men had not yet heard about what I'd done. Hopefully, they never would. Hopefully, if all went well, I would prove myself to the citizens of Qeynos and settle there, for it seemed far better than the average peasant hamlet. I would become one of the Steel Warriors and guard the city.
The present guards, however, two massive lads named Gehnus and Hezlan, cast apprehensive glances and raised eyebrows my way when they first saw me approach the gates of Qeynos. True, I was a half-naked half-Northwoman, clad only in cloth pants and a scanty corset, but then again, neither of the guards attacked me on sight as fit for killing. Good.
I made my way further into the city, where my eyes were suddenly blindsided by the most magnificent lady I'd ever seen. She was a tall and lovely Human lass, wearing a tailored golden-brown robe and wielding a magic staff.
The Lady caught me marveling at her, and I stopped cold in my tracks!
Luckily, she smiled. "I am Lady Licinia," she said. "Welcome to our fine city."
For the first time in what felt like years, my frozen heart began to thaw.
Licinia told me all about the city of Qeynos, including its ruler Antonius Bayle. She herself was a renowned civil servant, having investigated an evil cult of plague-worshippers called the Bloodsabers and saved the forest village of Jaggedpine from peril. As for her formal occupation, she was a senior-level Enchantress beloning to the Qeynosian Order of Three, a powerful guild of Enchanters, Magicians, and Wizards. As for me, she suggested I visit the Wind Spirit's Song, which I promised her I would in time. For now, I was content to sit with her and learn the customs of Qeynos.
"There is someone I'd like you to meet, if you'd care to," said Licinia after a while. "His name is Stormfollower, and he is a good friend of mine. He's the clan leader of a guild called the Wolf Cult, and perhaps you may want to join in the future." I said I'd think on it, but in the meantime I told the Lady that I would indeed like to meet this Stormfollower lad. She smiled, and the meeting between us was duly arranged. Over hearty Hero Sandwiches and summoned ale that Licinia could call forth using only her magicks, we made each other's glad acquaintance. Stormfollower was a brawny, fearsome man with a dark brown beard, his left eye being fully clouded over by a white film. He wore a stately suit of black chainmail, earning my admiration and envy!
It wasn't long before I learned Stormfollower's vocation, which turned the ale-warmed blood in my veins to ice: he was a Shaman, following the Tribunal! Just as I had been twenty-two years ago, I was heartsick. I felt like I would be betraying both Licinia and Stormfollower if I did not tell them what I'd done. Humbly, I asked for more of the Lady's summoned "liquid courage" and gulped it down. I needed it, for it was hard to give them my full confession. I told them everything, from the time I'd tried to save Tom McQuirran's life up until the present point, when I'd stolen eight kilons from the coffers of the Tribunal and then fled Halas like a coward. I shifted my weight and felt something odd, all of a sudden: the kilons--I did not carry them anymore!
In my haste to escape, they had all fallen out of my corset into the snow. They were gone now, sunk into the slush, and I was now left with nothing.
Such is the fate of those who steal,
I thought sadly, holding back tears, and it is also the fate of those who steal to pay for their theft.
I looked toward both Stormfollower and Licinia, hoping that if they would not forgive me, they would at least find it within their hearts not to condemn me. I had said me'piece, though I was far from at peace with the guilt inside me.
"Ye are too hard on thyself, Mylennia Ykeshina," said Stormfollower gently, telling me he was no rigid follower of the laws of mortals. "I will not turn ye in," he said, "because the law of Halas nowadays is selfish profit. If ye stole eight kilons from those who wish to tax the pious, then I say well done! Most of the spirits present agree," he added with a knowing wink. Licinia frowned, disagreeing, having collected taxes for Qeynos herself. Nevertheless, the Lady also informed me that she would not surrender me to the law.
"I will not turn you in," she said, "but I cannot help you either. Qeynos and Halas are allies, and our fine city cannot knowingly harbor a fugitive." I nodded somberly and told Licinia I understood, but I still hoped to prove myself to her, her fellow citizens, and Antonius Bayle himself in time. As for help, her words were all I needed, for she had promised to keep my secret.
When the three of us parted, we vowed to meet again. I set to work upon the task of demonstrating my loyalty to me new home in exile, clearing the Qeynos yards of pesky vermin--rats, snakes, beetles, and decaying undead. The guards watched me fight and struggle against the swarming creatures, and if I was not mistaken, the suspicion was starting to fade away...
I had no good clothes and no kilons, but I, at least, had two genuine allies.