Poster: Leoric McLarkin
Post # 21
Deeper. Thicker. Darker. The climb up the mountain wove a precarious
path along steep cliffs and the never ending rocky precipice. The trees
were old, thick and tall, blocking out the sunlight with the heavy
growth of limbs. Even though their leaves were gone for the
winter, the tangle of aged branches blocked out a good portion of the
overcast sky. Snow threatened still with the dark grays. Beneath
the canopy, the layer of white had fallen through, consuming the
step to the ankle but no human had come this far into the woods in
quite some time. Twisted, gnarled twigs and thorns of bushes and
brambles grew in a wide fence all the way along the steep incline,
though if one looked close enough, knew enough to seek it out, a
doe-like tunnel snaked its way in a mysterious route this way and that
up and up and up. Midway, the thickset curtain of aged vines had been
swept to the side, tied back by its own weighty strands to reveal the
mouth of a cave normally disguised behind the veil of nature.
There she stood for a moment within the shadow of the cave's entrance .
She stayed within the protection of darkness as she searched more with
her insight than her eyes. A low growl of frustration vibrated at the
back of her throat and she spun, returning into the pitch of the cave's
Leo rode a white stallion from the castle that seemed befitting the man
that had become King of Kildare. Although dressed down, with a cape of
purple over his shoulders, he looked every bit the king. A new
weight of responsibility upon his shoulders that he was learning to wear
well. The whole situation of Keary DeVessey, like a bad penny that kept
showing up, was distressing. The kingdom was stressed and strained
already due to her and here she was back from the dead. Certainly she
knew by this point that she'd been found out no matter how she had tried
to keep her existence a secret. Certainly the fact she managed to
come back was not something any of them would fathom. Certainly not
Leoric, who had seen to her death by his own hand the first time. But,
the Wizard Thalan had warned, she needed to be killed by both the twins,
one as the other, both as one.
He avoided the Village not wishing to have the curious try and follow
him or even (within their minds) to protect their king. Best that no
one knew he was down this way at all. He rode as far as the foothills,
leaving his well trained stallion to await him here as he dismounted. He
stood for a few fleeting minutes as he scanned the mountain before
him with the brush and tangling roots that would keep the bravest from
venturing forward. The thought had a hint of a smile to follow before he
discerned the route she would take when she came out from
hiding to do what she did best, healing. He took his time making his way
up the deer trail until he reached a much denser section; ancient
tongue, ancient words flowed as they moved aside from his step leaving
no trail in the snow behind him to be followed. One was best not to take
The cave was well disguised and hidden by nature to the ordinary sight
of mankind. The eyes that set upon it now were not of
the ordinary kind. Still, there was a great respect shown this Old Woman
that had been here in these lands of Kildare longer than his father's
reign. "Old Woman, I have come to seek your council."
Disturbing the clear quiet air around them at the mouth of the cave.
More than likely the Wizard Thalan knew this woman being he was the one
to send him to her Council. He was quite certain, even if she had not
the talents Leo now possessed, that she knew who he was.
The Old Woman knew of the man outside her safe house. She knew who he
was ... both of title and of talent. Only the whispering of the
winter breeze was the initial response to the King's call. A breath, a
second, third, fourth inhale and exhale then the bare vines rustled
and shifted, leaving just enough room for a man to enter. Inside the
shadows, various objects of protection, of illusion, of magic plastered
the walls in nooks and crannies, hung from frayed ropes from the
cavern's rock ceiling, drawn in the dirt - carved in the rock of the
floor. To the naked eye, she remained hidden, only her voice exposed
from the black of the deeper crevices. "Welcome to my home, My
Liege." Though she had been forced to seek out this solitary life,
hidden away from the Witch, she had come to accept and make the most of
it. Her skill increased, her focus sharpened. All things for a purpose
and all for the good in the end.
A man. A King. A Druid, all three might be considered above this woman
that she should be kneeling before him but there were things far
greater than what was of mankind. "Wise Mother," addressing
her respectfully with this title once within her domain. Mother of
Nature of Ancient Ways and respected by this man, this king, this druid,
for being such. He was no longer so much in Andrew's shadow but
standing on his own with developed talents of like. "Thank you for
welcoming me into your retreat," for he knew this was not her
'home' but a necessity. "We meet again under dire
circumstances. A time to lay the undead Witch to rest. It is by our
mutual friend, Thalan, I seek you out for your knowledge of the beasts
residing in Kildare's northern forest. That by such knowledge I
will not lose any man under me unnecessarily." He looked about as
he waited for there was much to take note of in this cave, patience was
a virtue he had learned. When the Witch was put back to rest,
permanently this time, then the old Wise Woman could move back to
her home near the outpost.
As she stepped from the darkness, her head was bowed to the druid king.
She may not be of his skill, but the interior of the cave thrummed with
this man's energy. She was talented enough to recognize his power beyond
just the title of King. She stepped forward with her head still
held down in respect, her side presented, the 'V' along her neck exposed
to the man's scrutiny. Thalan had visited her in a dream so she had
expected the King of Kildare, just not this soon. She had seen the
crocus blooms through the snow. In this, her timing, she had been wrong.
"I am honored that you seek me out." She began, motioning with
a hand to the stalagmite that had been smoothed down to a mottled brown
glossy seat. "These beasts of deVessey's, they are not as complex
as some may think them. Dangerous, aye..." While she spoke, she
moved to a kettle bubbling over a small circular fire to the right of
the room. She leaned over it into the steam, drawing in a deep breath to
test the contents. "Dangerous..." She repeated, eyeing with a
squinted gaze a shelf carved in the rock wall. She plucked
out a vial and splashed some of the contents into the liquid before
turning to face her visitor fully, bottle still in hand. "but they
are blind save for movement and the scent of their prey."
Of course he was curious of the symbol tattooed on her neck by some
ritual, but this was not the time nor moment to pursue any questions.
The surroundings suited her, like an extension of herself that she could
bring to this cave she made her retreat to. She knew of strategy, this
too was noted. With the indication of the natural seat formed, he
respectfully sat upon it. A little on the edge as his forearm
rested over the bend of his knee with the slight lean. "Dangerous,
leaving no trace for some time and having any of the locals seem like
they had lost their minds to even speak on any attack." DeVessey
was no fool. Although she bumbled a lot when alive but still had been a
devastation to Kildare for it. She was far better being undead at her
craft than she had alive. He quieted as she continued, listening intently.
"This is very noteworthy to heed," and heeded would be the
downfall of these beasts. He knew the bottle with the brewed liquid
would be next spoken on and its use so he waited. The pierce of blue
eyes there as if he was determining what it was made of. Although Leo's
healing abilities laid not in potions.
She was old, older than most, but her hair was still streaked with
color. A dark black to mingle and knot with the white of age. The
strands were not braided, but twisted in thick cords that fell long
and heavy down her back. At one time, she may have been a beauty to
behold. Even with her advanced age, she still possessed some of her past
in the sparkle of assessing, wise blue eyes, the fact that she smiled
with a full mouth of teeth, all white and healthy. She may be
hunched forward with the arch of age, but she moved with swift agility,
and perhaps with more energy than a woman three times her junior. After
the king spoke, she nodded, placing the vial back to its spot. A place
for everything, everything in its place. In this, she was meticulous.
Though her surroundings may seem cluttered and in much disarray, there
was a method to this woman's madness that none other than herself might understand.
She retrieved a wooden bowl and ladle, spooning out a helping and
bringing it over to the man in her presence. Her healing abilities
required no such potions, but was this a potion she offered to the King
of Kildare? "There are a few creatures in her army, My King.
But two main ones that most know of." She provided no spoon to
consume the contents, drinking from the bowl was as much a part of this
process as the preparation. "Gargoyle type beasts, these are the
blind sorts. And those from the air, prehistoric in looks and nature,
their sight is keen but they are far more easily noted before attack for
they shriek with anticipated victory as they descend upon their
Sometimes his abilities rose up on their own when least expected. His
focus on the bottle that lingered a moment before blue eyes lifted. For
a suspended moment he saw the young woman she had been, her hair a
glistening black, her eyes like sapphires. Her skin smooth in prefect
hue with a dust of rose upon her cheeks that only enhanced her eyes. He
sucked in a breath before a blink had the vision disappear in that
second. For most, it would leave them wondering if they had seen what
they had but Leo knew he had. Perhaps the Old Woman was a disguise for a
younger one? Still, this was not the time nor moment to question such
thoughts nor pursue them. He took the bowl, assured she knew he needed
no healing so the offering was of another. Eyes met in trust before he
lifted the bowl to drink down its contents.
She needed him as much as he needed her. That went unsaid for many
reasons. It wasn't bad tasting either as the bowl was lowered, listening
as she spoke up. "There will be at least one winged man with us,
possibly his comrade of kind." They would be advised. "The
other creatures and vines that would entrap, is there any warning on
them?" Although the vines he could probably handle with a few ancient
In the darkness of cavern, her smile flashed, and she shook her head.
"Nothing you cannot handle, My Liege, where the foliage is
concerned. Although, there is another beastie that will catch you
unawares, I fear, for it strikes from beneath the ground. Snake-like in
nature, with teeth!" She gnashed her own toward him, mimicking the
act with a gnarled hand in a strike toward him though not enough to be a
threat. "They attack from below, sucking a man beneath the surface
with a firm hold of sharp teeth if it's initial attack is
successful." She squatted swiftly, crouching with a hand flattened
to the solid stone of her floor. "They use the vibration of the
earth to track their next meal." She glanced up to him, one heavily
wove strand of black and white swaying near her temple. "Those who
come with you...these will be theirs, this force of the Witch. You and
your brother must see to de Vessey yourselves...and only the two of you,
at the same moment ... " She was up so quickly, a sudden blast
of air shot through the otherwise silent confines, and she made a
slashing movement with her arm and spun, coming to lean in close to the
King, her final words whispered at his ear. "...exactly. The
two together to end the one." Because of Thalan, she knew he
was aware of what must be done where the Witch was concerned, but she
added it all the same.
Eyes shifted with each of her movements. The notice of the lock of hair,
all words soaked in and absorbed. "Those were not spoken upon but
accounted for no bodies being found nor a trace of them." He
would suggest these to the Horseman. They could use their forces to
attract them away from the main party. He naturally straightened from
the slight lean forward with her coming so close to him. A slight tip of
his head had their eyes meet in that instant, close, a clash of energy
that mingled for a moment. One that was felt on another level.
"Yes," was breathed out low letting her know he understood.
First Thalan to warn and now her. He had already mentioned it to Gaidan
who was not so assured of himself in the mystical area as he would be
with sword. Still, one as the other in skill as they had been learning
from the other and this would be the test of it. How much had they
become as one to lead Kildare? Although he held title of King and his
brother of Regent, they were one as leader.
The energy shared was one she had not ever experienced, and it sent such
a jolt through her system she nearly forgot her age or her limitations
or the fact that this man was not merely male but a druid and her King.
She sucked in a broken breath and stood away, nodding toward the
bowl he held. "Those of your party that possess powers, this will
strengthen and fortify their abilities. Those that are man alone, this
will protect and empower them. It will provide healing at the moment of
injury. If you so decide, allow them to consume it the night before the
battle." The fact he had tasted it, would give him confidence of
her words. She slid around him, taking up the granite seat opposite him.
"The dog-like beasts, your first weapon of defense with them is ....
This is difficult for most since the first reaction to their attack
is to run. Stand the ground, it will also throw off The Worms.
Stillness...and cunning." She brought her feet up, her tattered
skirt covering the bend of knees that she now propped her chin on,
wrapping her arms around her lower legs. He was wise beyond his years to
doubt her actual age. To some, years were but numbers. "The Hawks,
they fear fire, and while their talons are sharp and their beaks
can rend a man in half with one tear, a seasoned warrior not having to
deal with attacks on the ground as well can meet it full on with fire in
one hand and a sturdy, sharp sword in another. The Worms, water is
their demise, for they can be trapped in their holes and drowned. If they
come too close to the surface, for too long, they will also shrivel
and die. They must be lured from their protective paths.
Pluck them out, there the very air around them can do them in as well as
a mere mortal's sword blow. But with each of these weaknesses, also
comes their strengths of swift attack and the surprise of the
"You would make a very good undead beast warfare tactician."
Seriously spoken as the idea of employing her as the castle wizard of a
sort was entertained. Priestess perhaps a better title. "I will
take the potion back with me and it will be drank before we enter the
contaminated forest. The one that flies, uses fire. One to the air and
one upon the ground. Earth, wind, fire and water in combined
powers. They will
heed your words and the Witch will rue the day. I see why you have
retreated here so she could not find you and wait upon my arrival. Your
help will not be forgotten." Surprise and fear had worked very well
with those they had killed or tried to. "Is there anything else I
need to know?" He would not keep her nor time would allow him to
linger for each day deVessey grew stronger with her beasts.
She shook her head, the heavy locks once more swaying with the action.
"Only that all depends on the brothers' success, My Liege. But
this, I am sure, you already know. Although you were careful in your
journey here, the Witch knows we speak on her, she no doubt feels
it, realizes it and with that, even all the talismans I have up against
her finding me will be of no use. She is aware now of where I hide. My
life, and the lives of all under your rule...depend on the Two to see
to the Witch's end...and soon." She shuddered inwardly with
the realization that Keary deVessey's power grew with each passing
moment. It had well passed what this woman could battle, but not what
the man before her could defeat. Only time would tell if the two
brothers could pull together, physical strength matched with mystical
powers to once and for all put an end to the threat of Keary DeVessey to
"Then I shall add another power to your resistance. The vines,
brush, barren tree and even earth will be her enemy here if she should
tread or her minions. When she is put down," for certainly it was
as putting down an animal that had gone rabid, "then I shall see to
a favor you ask of me, within my powers." Not knowing what might be
of value to her, he doubted it would be coin nor title or that of
materialistic. He rose with the last for haste would be made this day
and word sent to Heathfield to those who waited on him. "It is said
the strength of an army, or of twins, is that of their weakest ability."
That he had come to realize why it was set of Gaidan and himself to
switch roles. Each their weakest point to put down the Witch ensuring
that Kildare would have a strong leadership. He had only the need of the
potion and be on his way.
She smiled, he should not be so sure of what a woman might ask of a man
when he was indebted to her. Still, to be sure, hers would not be as any
other, she was not ... as any other. He finished speaking and she stood
as he did, offering a bow of thanks for his extra protection then
set off to cork off several bottles of the brewed potion. She would not
see him again, not until Kildare was free of the Witch. And should they
fail in their best effort, she would see him never again. Keary de
Vessey would allow neither of the brothers to live free and would allow
this woman to live not at all.
Keary would see to the brothers' demise unless she felt she could make a
puppet of the king to handfast and give her the power legally she
craved. Those measures had never worked so far. Keary was a deranged
woman unfortunately with arcane powers. "Blessed the day we meet
again and of one I may know your name wise Mother." Giving a bow of
his head before taking the corked bottles to place safely in a pouch he
carried so that they would not break during his journey back. Nothing
more was said for all was said that needed to be at this point. It was
the meeting of eyes once again that spoke on that other level not
defined in a written or spoken language that held. Held what could be an
eternity and then only a moment in time before he turned and headed out,
the path made easy for him and quicker in descending to where his
stallion waited. Mounted up, he took one last look up the natural
fortress to set his will upon the area to protect her. For as long as he
lived that protection lived.
She followed him out, watching as he worked his way down the side of the
mountain. It was only then that she spoke. "Savina." She
whispered to herself. The name as foreign to her tongue after all these
years as it was to him still. "My name, Leoric McLarkin, King of
Kildare, is Savina." She smiled, feeling the energy spread around
her as his protection extended to her surroundings, then she returned to
her solitude once more.
He heard the name whispered upon the breeze that rolled down off the
mountain retreat. It was her voice. Savina became locked into his
memory. Once done he headed back to the castle. Gaidan to see and
a messenger sent to Heathfield.