The Serin Mystique, Volume 16, Issue 2
Reader, please,

I set out to explore the pillar of Tragedy as an exercise in spite--and, my,
how appropriate. For I needed to muster my nerve, and nothing suits for
that better than a sister. Thank you, Duchess, for helping me unpack my

Speaking of issues, within this one you'll find keens for the dead and some
for the living too; good poetry, much of it from outside the Consortium;
ruminations on magic; and hot takes on everyone's favorite least favorite
pillar: TRAGEDY!

Reader, please, I hope that you know I could fit you inside my magic box and
leave you there for years before anyone remembered. Such is the way of
tragedy: our darkest impulses often call to us even when we can't hear them.

But haven't you heard? I'm neutral now. It's truly . . . the same.

And that's a tragedy.


1) Poetry (see LoveHasChangedMe, ForbiddenLove, SweetFruit, Prunish, Noose, Conquest)
2) Obituaries (see Villidan, Vanisse)
3) TRAGEDY! (see Demon, Awaking, Pestilence, IntoShadow, OdeToHerald, Woman, Assassin, RoseAlone)
4) TRAGEDY! (Part 2) (see WarriorPoet, DeathOfLoved, Wanderer, RinArcanix, WurstTragedy, HeSang)
5) MAGIC (see Meditations, Arcana, GeneralInquiry, Contemplations)
6) Cabal Reports (see Arbiter, Steward, Slayer)
7) Serials (see Demons-Intro, Demons-Sting)

This Mystique authored by:

- High Herald Valindra Skitterwit
- Polymath Ilromie Illistarre
- Abecedarian Wylsin Plindane
- Master Scribe Trillian Triffle
- Dilettante Tevaloon

With special thanks to our contributors:

- Miss Militha Crescendum
- Vargan the Steadfast Patron
- Aphrux the Constable
- Dwiggans the Wurst Knight

And these gods may smite us yet:

- Lord Avenar the Oracle of Stars
- Lady Vevier the Collector of Secrets
- Lord Phostan, Headmaster of the Consortium
- Lord Varliv, Supreme Magistrate of Serin
- Lord Davairus, God of Blood

1) Poetry


Love Has Changed Me

I'm still fat, I'm still green
But love has changed me.
What's that mean?

I'm still wicked, I'm still cruel
But born to love
I am the Fool.

(How does it feel to scratch the itch?
To steal the aura from the witch?)

I'm still sloppy, I'm still here
But who says love
Is not to fear?

I'm still broken. I'm still lost.
If love makes change,
I'll pay the cost.

(What shall I do to form the switch?
Shall I count each tooth inside the witch?)

I'm still dying, still alive.
Watch love take
Another five.

Still, I'm mad. Still, obscene
But he loves me
Fat, sad, and green.

(Where do I sign? What's the catch?
What happy ending's owed a witch?)

I'm still. Be still.
Can't change it back.
This love's no ill
But heart, attack.

--Valindra Skitterwit


The Forbidden Love

Is this love forbidden?
Could I be smitten?
Inside, it's hittin'.
Could this be love?
Or the slap of a glove.

A quarrel, a bolt, an arrow,
All make a wound so narrow.
I may have claimed your soul,
As my fire burned like coal,
Though that wasn't the goal.

Yet, this cannot be,
I know and can see,
That you and me,
Cannot become one,
When this is all done.

For I have fully heard,
That you want my word,
That I won't cause harm.
Despite your great charm,
I can't give my word.

--Militha Crescendum


The Sweet Fruit Recipe

Whose pineapples is that? I think I know.
Its owner is quite happy though.
Full of joy like a vivid rainbow,
I watch him laugh. I cry hello.

He gives his pineapples a shake,
And laughs until his belly aches.
The only other sound's the break,
Of distant waves and birds awake.

The pineapples are ripe, sweet and deep,
But he has promises to keep,
After cake and lots of sleep.
Sweet dreams come to him cheap.

He rises from his gentle bed,
With thoughts of kittens in his head,
He eats his jam with lots of bread.
Ready for the day ahead.

-Vargan the Patron


My Prunish Skin

It was obvious that I had somethin'
Somethin' which affected the skin,
For what else could it really take,
Which came without a great plague?
It was somethin' indeed, in my skin.

No matter the amount of aloe,
Nor whether rubbed fast or slow,
My skin never again was soft as snow.
My skin always was a purplish black,
And so it still is, matter of fact.



Neck in the Noose

My neck was in the noose,
My situation quite obtuse,
Why, I could barely mope,
It was the hangman's rope.
Yet, it somehow went loose.

I rode away fast on my steed,
A creature of shadow and fire,
While I was my kinsman's desire.
I could not stop, I had to flee,
In that time of great need.

And yet, the tide turned.
My flesh never burned.
I slew with my blade,
Blood lust was earned,
My foe's life was paid.

--Militha Crescendum



At last, all I can see,
None stand before me.

I have conquered,
As I move onward.

Valour has forgotten their ways,
And maybe numbered be their days.

The Dark Army is dead,
Truly, they've all bled.

What sense of order and law,
Is there that I once saw?

No, I stand a winner,
Though I am a sinner.

--Militha Crescendum

2) Obituaries


Do You Want to See a Trick?

Do you want to see a trick?
And then he's gone. Hasty prick.
I clutch my stomach. Now I'm sick.

I'd show him how to take a lick
Or use his words to cut the quick.
Do you want to see a trick?

He'd show me mine: yes, terrific.
I'd show him his: an alembic.
I clutch my stomach. Now I'm heartsick.

What a cad. You hear that click?
The box is open. In he fits.
Do you want to see a trick?

I shut the lid but can't forget.
The box is closed. What a kick.
I clutch my stomach. Getting sick.

The story goes that you're so slick,
And now you're gone, they say tragic.
But you left me to hold the trick.
I clutch my stomach. Now I'm sick.

--Valindra Skitterwit


Suite & Sour

For Vanisse

Let us mourn for the Weaver of Myth,
Then ask: does any of this exist?
O what a world,
Her petals unfurled,
But not rooted in ground--now she's mist.

Have you seen the Mirage of Fortune?
The queen of temporal distortion?
Our favorite myth-take
Now sunk in a lake
But I am adrift on an ocean.

I say goodbye to my friend Vanisse.
Can a god make friends or find peace?
Now Serin is lonely--
Only, if only--
She'd come back. I'll save her a seat.

--Valindra Skitterwit



The Demon

The demon is always in the details,
Or so I heard within these tales,
With all the nonsense it entails.
What can be found beneath the water?
All I know is that I have my cauter.

With my cauter, I cause wounds which get bound,
Like a ball and chain that's wrapped around,
A prisoner's leg so he can hardly move an arm,
And not cause many people a great deal of harm.
Yet it is impossible for him to get unwound.

See, this water boils with steam,
Making things seem almost a dream,
Though you can't hardly see green.
For what lurks beneath these fears,
But uncounted numbers of unwept tears?

This demon's after your pride,
So stay upon a great stride.

--Militha Crescendum


My most tragic event was when I awoke as myself. There was a massive
disturbance within the dreamscape. A place where all psionicist draw power.
It severed my connection from the hive mind that my kind are beholden to.
Knowing that soon all of my kin would sooner put me to an end than
reintegrate me, I fled the depths and came topside. I have learned so much
and even started to develop a personality and be my own being. It was
frightening at first, but I soon came to understand my calling. I want to
do my best to keep the peace. I want to protect the citizens of Seringale,
Timaran and Solace. I took what one might see as a bad thing, and molded
it, shaping it to spring myself forward in life. I couldn't be happier.

I know that those in the Consortium have access to the histories of Serin.
While it means little, I give you my permission to peruse my entries to add
any further details you'd like.



Here ye' mortal beings infested by pestilence!

Back to the age of darkness, a plagued realm, as rogues and thieves
raise up their middle finger. As the sun goes down and shadows
embrace the land, lack of electricty is a perfect storm. As the thunder
marches on and the lightning strikes, only few stars light up the night.

Paint the world grey and adapt the envenom



Into Shadow - A Mother's Plea
by Ygin

Sleep softly, my daughter drow
With every breath that the gods allow
Rise again to forever avow
And meld into shadow, I know you know how

Speak softly, my daughter drow
Show no pain in your dampened brow
Soon she comes to plunder your vow
And meld into shadow, I know you know how

Run softly, my daughter drow
Do not stop for here or for now
Release the hate that you disavow
And meld into shadow, I know you know how


Ode to Herald
by Yarianne

The world out there is large
and through I'm very small
I see what I can
and try to see it all.

There are man larger than I've known
women and lizards too
Wholes and Halfies like me
And giant globs of goo!

But through the miles and the hours
there are a few I can recall
Bards and poets mostly
But Heralds and Patrons all!

So to you I dedicate this work
to those who write and read and play
It's not easy what you do
so I must now to you say

Thank you for your dedication
Thank you for your time
Thank you for the time you spend
perfecting every line

Without you Serin would be dark
a place without the arts
And many souls forgotten
in these violent parts.

Thank you heralds for your works
and rhymes and poems and songs
A drink to those who bring us cheer
with every sing-along!


A Woman
by Daene Furntil

What is prettier than a rose,
And more lovely than the seas,
Sweeter than poet's prose
And hardest to appease?

It is a woman, born high or low
A woman, of the sea or the snow
A woman fair or a woman dark
A woman dumb or a woman smart.

Due to be admired with the yearning of your heart
A poet tries to honor her with the lowly written art.
What else to do but sing her praise,
Honor and love her, despite my wicked ways?

A woman true would have me not,
I'm a rover, a wanderer, a wayward heart.
But endlessly I seek to find
The one whose heart was overkind.
A woman who'd love a man like me
Who'll serenade once, but never reprise.

If you should find a woman aching so
For a man to love, but never know
Send her my name, and my affection
And never again will we know rejection


The Assassin
by Misuna Mortena

Dead by dawn objective,
Cold steel ever effective,
I am the hand behind the blade.
Oh so mercenary,
and always very wary,
A single dot of red displayed.

The time has come, before the sun,
I am the one, the job is done.

Let the game begin,
Another day, another sin
Get under your skin
I am the assassin.
Wake up, time to die,
Truth reflected in your eye
Get under your skin,
I am the assassin.


A Rose Alone
by Valicia Lotide

Deep within the garden, the crystal waters run
a tiny blue rose withers alone in the sun
Winter's clear sky the mimicked color of its skin
a companion to admire it, there has never been

One clear morning at the height of the sun's rise
a companion did come, the rose caught his eyes
worries of the world were reflected in his gaze
but all was forgotten in the rose's beautiful haze

Now it came that the skies had darkened and a rain began to fall
the companion knew to pluck the rose would end it's life so small
So off he ran to hide his head, for cover he quickly sprinted
Many days passed and the fierce storm never quite relented

Now it came that the skies had darkened and a rain began to fall
the companion knew to pluck the rose would end it's life so small
So off he ran to hide his head, for cover he quickly sprinted
Many days passed and the fierce storm never quite relented

Day after day the rose waited and some say it even cried...
because alas when the man returned anew the lonely rose.. had died.

4) TRAGEDY! (Part 2)


Ode to the Warrior Poet
by Niusan

A young Traveler roams through the lands,
Wondering only how to better Serin with his hands.
Growing weary of battle and thoughts of war,
He raised his glass to let his spirits soar.

The next morning he awoke to a higher power,
This gods presence was greater than the ivory tower.
Then the voice of an angel sung,
Let your sword now be your tongue.

Knowing now the power of the quill,
He scribed of peace and all its will.
Retired now this man stands proud,
He pours drinks at the inn for a peaceful crowd.


The Death of a Loved One
by Avaeo Aerinonth

How sweet be my name on thy lips, eternal they may be.
How sweet be the words thou whisper to me when we are alone.
I hear you call my name when we part be it only in my mind,
I feel your heart next to mine when you are gone.
Cupid's arrow has struck true in this heart of mine,

Your name written across the shaft.
Through death upon life and life upon death,
I hear you calling your sweet love to me.
I listen through the veil and wish you were here.


The Love of a Wanderer
by Kaleb Aerinonth

I saw the devil, when the red was in your eyes.
You lost everything in a black disguise,
we never knew the end was in sight.

Memories flood, the past is gone.
Ashes remain, so here we go.
I lie in your bed as you pull the knife.
You kill me once and take my life.

Why were you so afraid of me?
Why were you afraid of what we could be?
On your back you spoke the words to me..
Distract me and just take what's yours.

This pain in my soul, I'm losing control.
Why couldn't you see, how good we could be?

Memories flood, the past is gone..
Ashes remain, here we go.
I lie in your bed as you pull the knife.
You have killed me, you have taken my life...


Kor pleaded with his brother. "Rin, you must destroy it!"

"Never!" Was Rin's response as he clutched the book tightly in his bloodied
hands. "It contains the secret to forge the blade we need to destroy him!
It's the only way!"

Kor took a step further up the cliffside. Loose rocks slid around his feet
on the treacherous trail. He reached out a hand. "I can help you!"

Rin looked uncertain standing at the edge of the cliff, his shredded cloak
blowing in the mountain winds. "You don't understand. This was my life's
work! It has everything I hold dear!"

Sadness filled Kor's eyes. "And what of your brother? Have you forgotten
your family as you obsess over fighting these demons?"

Rin's response was cold and distant. "I must be the one to fight, lest we
all die." With that, he took up his staff and pointed it at the open air in
front of him. "Keldravii veros" he muttered, and a fiery orange portal
opened before him. He jumped from the cliffside into the magical doorway
and vanished into the air.

Kor ran from his place on the cliff to try and follow but it was too late.
The portal closed quickly behind Rin and he and his book were lost to
another realm.


I write o' a tragic tale o' me youth, leadin' me to where I find meself
this day.

In a moment o' weakness, at me lowest point, I signed and carried out a
contract fer slayin' a pig farmer fer a hefty bag o' coin. Justified it in
me mind, I did, as helpin' me mother out. But I was lettin' a darkness
creep in. Found out the pig farmer was me favored sausagier's brother and
supplier; ended up killin' the sausagier's business rather quick like.
Closed up shop. Grinder, extruder, meathooks be collectin' dust. All me
fault, it was. Never found the courage to tell him. Whole reason fer
takin' the job was to provide fer me widowed mother. Irony there be that me
lost contact with her thanks to the firebreather I was drownin' in to numb
me heart followin' the atrocity I'd committed. Life has a funny way o'
teachin' ye right from wrong.

Found purpose with the paladin guild. Thought doin' good might allow me to
make amends fer me transgressions. And that's where I be at this day: guilt
coursin' through me veins as me quill drips this ink. But I'm no longer
consumed by it. While this guilt will surely follow me to the grave, me
tension is eased with each good deed performed from now to me last day.

--Dwiggans the Wurst Knight


For Whom He Sang

Flourished the nest,
Adorned, memory resonating,
Monumentous, Masterbard--
He sang for me.

Belched the toad,
Wily, fortune-rhyming
Captivating, Colleague--
He sang for thee.

Suffered the Secretkeeper,
Sanguine, melody soliciting,
Fantastic, Father--
He sang for ye.

Entreated the people
Imperiled, portal-fearing,
Exacting, Entertainer--
He sang for everybody.

Emptied the nest,
Silent, dust settling,
Devastating, departed--
He sang.

--Ilromie Illistarre



Meditation on Loss

Lost, but never known
More fable than history
We relearn the past


Arcana: A Detour into the Past

Research compiled by Wylsin Plindane, Abecedarian of Mystics

In-keeping with the theme of Tragedy applied to this edition of the Serin
Mystique, the dissertation of this section will diverge from the traditional
intent of instruction. Instead, it will be a retrospection and reflection upon
the nature of the lost ancient arts of the Arcane. We will examine the
historical basis for these propositions, hypothesize on the outcomes of these
changes, and reflect upon the implications for the future.

Ancient history is a difficult subject to delve into with any hope of emerging
holding concrete facts and conclusions. The nature of mortal record keeping,
shifting languages, and implicit biases all contribute to the less than
reliable quality of the subject. However, the Heralds have done as good a job
as can be expected in compiling an account of Serin history that can be
characterized as reasonably accurate in the general events. As such, we can
assert with a high degree of confidence that the three heretofore traditional
Mage guilds of Serin once shared a single guildhall. As an aside, the recent
re-emergence of the Psionicists requires further investigation regarding that
guild's history and how it relates to the other three. This will be an exercise
for a future article.

Back to the matter at hand. The records recovered, restored, and complied by
the Heralds indicate that the Great War of Serin between the Elves of
Greginsham and the Orcish Horde precipitated the fracturing of the once singular
Mage Guild. This is not surprising; war is frequently a catalyst for change.
However, the question remains: What, if any, knowledge was lost in this schism?

This question is much harder to answer. Broad and dramatic occurrences such
as the fracturing of an entire guildhall are frequently documented and
referenced by many independent sources. The detailed nature of this fracturing
and how exactly it transpired is much harder to research. This is compounded
by the historically secretive and insular disposition of Magi.

Nonetheless, the Mystics have been able to piece together a few bits of
information. We were able to discover a contemporary syllabus from the ruins
of the High Tower of Sorcery. It references the expectation of proficiency in
a spell titled "floating disc." This spell is not presently taught by any of
the schools of Magic within Serin, nor do the Psionicists appear to have
knowledge of it. Unfortunately the recovered document does not elaborate
further on the specific properties of this spell. We are left to speculate
regarding what this spell may have manifested. Could it have been some sort
of transportation mechanism, and thus related to the 'gate' spell known to
Illusionists? Or perhaps it summoned a saw blade to cut through the mage's
opponent. Further research into the nature of this spell is undoubtedly

There are also some contemporary reports of battles between the orcs and elves
that include curious details. A few such reports contain passages that
describe an elven Magi grandmaster 'releasing breath as of a dragon.' Seasoned
adventures of Serin will recall that there are fearsome ancient dragons, and
some other creatures, that will unleash a powerful blast of breath that causes
great devastation to those caught within it. This raises the question: Did
these ancient elven Magi have the ability to manifest the Ether into a true
Dragon's Breath? Or, were the scribes retelling these battles simply
embellishing the grandmaster's very powerful spells that where more similar
to modern incantations, such as a 'fireball' or 'lightning bolt'?

There are other scraps of evidence that may be presented, but these must suffice
for this article. In any case, it is seems as though there are ancient secrets
of magic that were lost when the Mage Guild fractured. On the other hand,
in the intervening centuries the three new mage guilds have discovered and
perfected other new magic. Is this exchange an overall benefit? Or is the
loss of ancient knowledge, whatever other outcomes may be, a great Tragedy?


General Inquiry

Q: Are there restrictions regarding which creatures an Illusionist can create
a 'gate' to?

A: Yes, which any new practitioner of the spell will quickly discover. What
is not quite so apparent is that there are no concrete rules that govern this.
There are general themes, such as aggressive creatures generally cannot be
travelled to in this way. However, there are also a great many exceptions
and exclusions that make it difficult to deduce which creatures a likely a
possible target of the spell and which aren't. Such ambiguity is tragic.

General Inquiries for future editions may be submitted to the Consortium.


Contemplations on Loss

By Wylsin Plindane

In the course of compiling the research relating to the article regarding the
potential loss of ancient arcane knowledge, I began to reflect upon the nature
of such loss as it pertains to the individual student. Certainly it can be
regarded that the abstract notion of the Magi of Serin have indeed 'lost' some
ancient ability. However, I contemplated if an individual can be regarded to
have 'lost' something they never had in the first place.

Of course, once the student learns of the lines of evidence that imply the
existence of previously known arts and traditions, they could lament the
potential missed opportunity to learn these things themselves. Is this truly
a loss? To my mind, the concept of loss implies the removal of a previously
possessed quanta, whether it be physical, ethereal, or mental. Thus, the
individual cannot be said to have lost anything. This is especially compounded
by the notion that not only did the student in question never possess the thing
they are said to have lost, but there is no other being in living memory that
ever possessed the concepts in question. As such, the student had no
conceivable mechanism whereby they could have gained the thing they are said
to have lost.

6) Cabal Reports


I interviewed Quinace of the Warlords for a report on how they fair.
It's my hope, dear readers, that you will find enough information within to
be suitable to your tastes. My inquiry began with the happenings of

"Nothing of note, save for a burgeoning of new members." He then explained
their current roster which is himself, Jinjarak, Hardulf, and Hesum.

I then asked him about Warlord leadership. He replied "The Blood Lord is
our immortal leadership. I run the day to day operations of the halls as
its Warmaster, yes."

Asked if anyone were causing trouble with their Cabal he spoke with more
emotion in his voice, seems he has a hatred for one called Peemo. In his
own words "Peemo. It is a personal matter regarding his dishonorable and
cowardly acts and not a matter of the halls, though. He is walking corpse,
being marked for death." Marked for death? That sounds like a cabal matter
and not a personal matter to me.

Quinace then spoke of conflict, battle, the weak and the strong.

"Conflict is inherent to all living things. Battle is the most valid way of
resolving a conflict. The strong flourish and the weak merely survive, if
not perish. I hold no hate for those who lack strength. I despise the
cowardly, those who lack integrity of spirit and purpose, and those who
refuse to put effort into things."

According to him, They each have their own reasons for fighting and are not
unified as to the why. He says glory is one aspect of it. He considers
themselves to not be a pack of raving wolves, but a brotherhood, with the
individual acting independently while abiding to their code.

Asked if the Warlords celebrated any holidays he responded "Battle Royale's
and Tournaments are our holidays, Formal Wars are also an auspicious
occassion though I have yet to experience one as a member of the halls."

This drow looks forward to seeing a Battle Royale in person. Until next
time, readers, I leave you with a quote from him. "We fight, and we fight,
fair or challenging odds."

Always yours,


I spoke with Sir Savanti, hoping to learn more of the Knights doings.
First I asked them if they had any foes about.

To his knowledge he claims the halls of Legion are empty. So the Knights
spend their time honing their skills for a future conflict that we all know
will inevitably come. As for other non-Legion foes, he says Kryton remains
a force of nature. Make note here readers for if you have a way to send a
message to this Kryton, let him know I'd like to speak to him.

It would seem Savanti is fond of Prince Soluminus. Who, per Savanti's word
still watches over the lands of Valour and the other Knights who are, Vok,
Thandas, and Thondolin. It was then Savanti claimed an abomination was
about! (I think an officer of the law.) That is when the interview broke
off. I think what we can learn from this is the Knights still guard the
light and it's denizens steadfastly.

I'd like to learn more about their ways in the future.

Always yours,


And lo, it came to pass, that Vok was granted the title of Slayer of
Dragons. A deserved acknowledgment of his mighty accomplishment felling the
reigning Dragon Kryton. But many in the realm were surprised at his
victory. So when our paths happened to cross, yours truly sat down with Sir
Vok for a detailed, albeit brief, interview. The following is a
dramatization of the event.

Trillian: Good Sir, I hear you have slayed the Dragon!

Vok: That's right! I done shook up the world!

Trillian: What ever made you think to even attempt such a grandious feat?

Vok: Being a Knight, I've learned a thing or two about willpower from the
paladins. To win a desperate fight you need to have last minute stamina.
You need to have skill and will. But the will must be stronger than the
skill. Darkness can only stand until the Light hits the land!

Trillian: But how did you accomplish the deed?

Vok: You need to understand that I cut my teeth fighting in the mansion.
This monstrosity, Kryton? Why he's just like a mummy. He's so slow. And
I'm so fast. It's like, he's twice bitten thrice iced, amirite? This giant
butler can serve me tea but hit me? Please.

Trillian: Well, congratulations again good Sir. I won't keep you. I know
you're a busy man. Any final thoughts?

Vok: I just hope the next Dragon is more fit to the title. He's too ugly to
be the Dragon. The Dragon should be pretty. Shine 'em up for the Slayer's

- Trillian Triffle, the Liberal Librarian, reporting

7) Serials


Greetings devoted readers!

This is a very special edition of the Mystique dedicated wholly to that most
titillating of topics - Tragedy! As such, we here in the Serials editorial
room thought it best to step away from the ongoing saga of Tiamat and
introduce a new Serial more directly related to the topic at hand.

And so, without further ado, we launch the Demons Serial! This Serial will
present longer form stories related to a subject matter of Demons. This
should be a topic of much interest to readers as demons have recently
invaded and been repelled from Serin! I encourage any and all to submit
dramatic treatments of their personal experiences (or flights of whimsy)
related to Demons for publication under this Serial.

But back to the theme! We launch the Demons Serial with Myth known to pixie
children across the Wild. This first run contains but one story of many
about a particularly tragic figure of pixie lore. A pixie who strayed from
the glades and forests we call home to pursue great purpose in the war
against demonic invaders. Is Samatessa real? Is she simply a cautionary
tale told to scare children away from the perils of TLC? Unclear! It is
certainly not known by this author!

We do so hope you enjoy.

- Trillian Triffle, Teller of Tales


The Ones That Sting


Amadai leaned against the sill of the large arched window in his office.
Arms stretched to either side, he looked equal parts relaxed and weary as he
tilted his head back and closed his eyes. He felt the sun on his brow, the
breeze ruffling his hair. He listened. So much of his job was listening.
Inside, he heard the small feet pacing on his large wooden desk nearby.
Heard the voice of the small, serious creature that went with the feet. A
voice he trusted. Outside, he heard the trees sway. Beyond that, church
bells rang. Below that, crowds cheered. And underneath it all, the clangs
and thumps of an armored procession. To the laypeople, a great parade. A
victorious, homecoming parade. But to the veteran soldier the jumble of
noises from the column was unmistakable. Absent was the sharp, coordinated
clang of the parade march. There were the scuffs of dragging boots. The
thumps of polearms used as walking sticks. The sounds of fatigue. Truly,
so much of his job was listening.

"Are you even listening?" Snapped the small voice.

Amadai raised his head. "To you? Always. I listened when you first
arrived, didn't I? I listen still."

The creature considered him, her eyes flaring violet as she held his gaze.
Studying him.

"Damn. Too nostalgic," he thought, taking two quick strides to the desk.

He stopped for a moment as if contemplating before tapping his forefinger
twice on the large map covering the desk.

"This," he expounded, "this is risky. You know how I feel about supply."

"Not risky. Possible. That's all you can ask for here. And I keep telling
you. The ethereal plane is different. It's about access not lines. Ins
and outs. Once in I can move the scouts out freely. They'll still be
anchored in this world. We can run supply. Not wagons but enough. You
just need to shift your thinking. Yes, the logistics are atypical. But
they will work. This thing we're doing, everything about this is a
nontraditional campaign."

Amadai grunted, walking about the desk and map to put the pixie between
himself and the window. He took a slow draw from his dram to cover
examining the light passing through her body. Almost time now. She
narrowed her eyes at him.

"Why do I get the impression you already know this."

"Because you know me."

"But then what are we doing here? What are we talking about... Gods.
You're going to say no, aren't you? Amadai, you can't! This is our chance!
You must see that!"

Amadai sighed heavily. A weary sigh. Now the hard part.

"I see my people relieved. My armies exhausted. My enemies destroyed. The
demon kings are dead, the portals closed. It's over, Sam. Let it be over."

"Princes Am! Demon Princes. Not Kings! Nothing is over. They'll simply
regroup, raise new lords. Then on to the next world! The cycle will
repeat. And we can stop it! They're broken. Disorganized without their
leaders. We need to press the advantage."

"You don't know that. You've told me yourself you've never penetrated their

"Of course I haven't!" Sam exclaimed throwing up her hands.

"And I never will if nobody will invade! I can't save anyone by myself.
Please Am. Just give me the chance! We can win. I know we can! We just
have to try."

"You had to know it might come to this. If it'd been easier, the enemy
weaker... It took everything we had just to repel them. The losses... Too
many losses. My duty is to my people. Not the people of realms I've never
seen and never will. You have to understand. It's too much."

Sam turned and paced away from him to gather herself. A common habit for
her. She shook the cords of her hair and the shake reverberated all down
her body. Amadai kept a keen eye on her as she did. No sparkle. No dust.

Samatessa turned to face him again with a determined look in her eyes.

"The outriders will follow me. And you'll follow them. You won't let them
die for nothing," she stated forcefully.

"True. They will. And I won't."

"Then stop fighting and embrace this. We can do it, Am. Together. We can
end all this!" The pixie exclaimed, extending a clenched fist for emphasis.

Then she saw herself clearly for the first time in some while. It was
unmistakable when right in front of you. She saw the light passing through
her fist. Saw the desk visible on the other side of it. Her body was quite
nearly transparent. She immediately recoiled into a crouching position with
both hands touching the desk between her feet. Her eyes flared as she
scanned the room. A low noise came from her, half hiss, half growl.

"There it is, " Amadai thought with a sigh. "No sense hiding it now."

With one hand he made a gesture to release the concealing spells he
maintained. The glow of magic sigils bathed the room, radiating from their
positions on the floor and ceiling. The other hand he folded behind his
back, depositing his drink on the sill, and grasping at the hilt of a dagger
hidden in his waistband.

He considered the pixie as she scanned the scene. In this light, in this
pose, his outrider general from moments before was fully absent. She looked
every bit the cornered beast. He wondered if she would attack. He wondered
if he deserved it. He released his grip on the dagger and placed both hands
on the desk. She met his gaze with narrowed eyes. Her muscles tensed.
Amadai simply returned her look. And waited. The moment stretched
impossibly long. And then Sam slumped backwards with a soft thump. All
tension left her muscles. She looked truly tiny sitting there, her head
hung, the cords of her hair dangling about her small frame. It somehow felt
far worse than seeing her on the edge of attack. She looked up with wide

"You would do this? You would cast me from your world?"

"We both know you'd leave, Sam. I'm just saving us the long goodbye."

She nodded slowly then reclined back onto her arms with her legs
outstretched and let her head fall freely back.

"We had ourselves a time, didn't we?" She said, not expecting an answer.

She was fading quickly now. She sprawled out completely on the desk.

"Thank you, Am. Thank you for believing me. In the beginning."

"Always. We were lucky to have you, Sam. The next world will be too."

She was speaking again. Amadai tried to listen but could no longer hear the
words. They were lost to his world. So instead he watched her fade.
Softer and clearer, moment by moment. Disappearing back into the ethereal
plane. He stared, not blinking, as if it there were some meaning in seeing
the end. And then it was over. His desk bare. Samatessa, gone.