Monday, July 18, 2011

Tannr watched as Erik set off with Star and Pike. He wondered just how far away from the cabin Star was going with only Mya and Pike for company. And Trooper too... I wouldnt want to tangle with a Hell Hound....maybe she's safer than we think...

Stepping out from the cabin where she had been helping Keon with the kids, Tori approaches slowly, sensing Tannr is feeling uneasy about the entire situation. She joins him at the railing and smiles as she looks up at him. “Penny for your thoughts?”

Tannr slips an arm around her, givng her a small grin. “I always thought that was the strangest expression....”

Moving to the steps and taking a seat, the pair look past the clearing and into the trees. The woods starting to look dark and the night creatures make their presence known by the sounds they make.

Tori sees the look of worry on Tannrs face. “Star can see in the dark you know. And so can Pike. Trooper would come for Ke if there was a problem of any kind...”

Tannr nods and is silent for a minute, then sighs. “I hope I havent made a mess of things. It would be awkward if my brothers wife hated me...”

“I dont think Star is capable of hate. And even though she was really upset, I think she was more scared for her friend than anything. You did say the only good Drow was a dead one.” Tori watches his face carefully, wondering why he hated the Drow so much. Not that there was much in the way of redeeming qualities to the race, but still, it seemed unreasonable and deep seated.

Tannr nods, still silent. Suddenly he puts an arm around Tori and pulls her close. “I will tell you this and only this once. I dont care if you repeat it, but I will not discuss it again. The only other person that knows this is Raina, and she doesnt know the whole story.” Tannr takes a deep breath and begins...

“When I first got to the Unformed Plane, I am not sure of how many years ago that was and it hardly matters, I joined a unit of ragtag soldiers and warriors. None of us had any specific allegiance. We were from many different countries, realms, whatever. We all wanted to fight and there were as many reasons for that as there were men. Suffice to say that we all seemed to mesh and we formed our unit. It didnt take long before we were well respected and well known for our fighting skills.

One day as we were headed in for a much-needed leave, we were ambushed, taken completely by surprise. The Drow often raid close to the Unformed Plane and just inside the borders but we thought we were far enough in the borders not to have to worry about them. Big mistake. The battle was fierce, several men dead and a dozen taken captive. That left six of us. Their captain turned and looked at us with such an evil grin, I swear my bones turned to ice. I know now that he was daring us to follow, and like idiots that's just what we did. I should have realized from the beginning that they were tormenting us. The Drow are notorious for being almost impossible to track. I think the Wyldfae are the only ones that can truly track them. Anyway, we limped after them, all of us injured but determined to rescue our men. It wasnt long before the Drow started leaving us clues to follow....” Tannr takes a deep steadying breath, “Pieces of....I dont know for sure... bodies... fingers, ears... and later bigger... pieces....They were toying with us, playing some sick game and torturing my men. We could hear the screams of agony at night, but no matter when we tried to get close, they were always a step ahead, and always left their horrible calling card... a bloody piece of something. We should have realized and just gone back. Then they may have just killed the men and at least ended their suffering. I think they drew it out as long as they knew we were following and laughing at our ineffective attempts to find them. The screams were horrible, like nothing I have ever heard... ever... and hope never again to witness. That last night, we thought we were getting closer... the trail seemed fresher, but all we found was what was left of my men, and it wasnt much. A bloody heap of bones and meat in a clearing. We buried it... them... I dont know what you would call it at that point. The Drow had gone, disappeared as if they had never been there. I imagine to their underground world.”

“Goddess... Tannr... I dont know what to say...  I'm so sorry....”

Tannr shook his head. “It was so long ago, but I cant get past what they did, like humans when they play with bugs.... Anyway, we disbanded after that. A couple of the men left the Unformed Plane, a couple joined another unit and I set out alone. Just me and my guilt, and killed anything that got in my way or that was remotely blue colored. Pretty pathetic when you think about it...”

When Tori opens her mouth to protest, Tannr holds a hand up, silencing her. “It was my fault. All the decisions were mine to make and I knew the men would follow me unquestioningly. I did finally learn to deal with some of it, made a few friends although I never formally joined another group or unit.”

Tannr turns to look at Tori afraid at first of what he would see reflected in her eyes. But there is only love, acceptance, a wanting to help in some way. He pulls her close, burying his face in her neck and takes a ragged breath.

Keon had been about to bring coffee out and heard part of Tannrs story. He quietly went back in and returned with a bottle of whiskey and three shot glasses.

Tannr looks up, “You heard?”

“Only part. I was bringin' coffee and thought the better of it... I think a wee shot will do us all some good...” Keon hands each a glass and pours the amber liquid.

Keon raises his glass, “A toast...  to those we have lost and will ne'er forget...”

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