Ivan

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Founder of EBF and the Brotherhood of the Falcon.


                                           Garath Ivan Darkspeare


Marvin and Sarah Darkspeare were both of common birth,living and working in the town of Talonscrye. Marvin was an enterprising businessman, and held a highly respected seat on the town council. Sarah had just given birth to her first born child. This pregnancy was unexpected, and seen as a general neusiance to the second councilmember. Marvin could foresee that this birth, could ruin his chances to gain power on the council."If I were only in the ruling first seat,"Marvin thought to himself. Marvin started plotting, and planning the assassination of the first councilman Lord Kavicc Kurgensson. It was a wonderful and devious plan, and it went off without a hitch. Soon Marvin, Sarah, and young Ivan were moving into the old Kurgensson Keep. Marvin now a Lord of Qua-Loh had rights and power as he could never haved dreamed. He raised taxes as fast as he raised an army, many men came to Lord Marvin with the pretense of gaining fortune and glory. During this time Ivan was living the life of a houseboy, by the time he was age eight he could take care of any task within the castle. Ivan loved his mother, and she him as well. Sarah had taught Ivan how to cook and sew, and to read and write. Often Ivan would ask of his father, but Sarah would always say he was away because of business or trade meetings or use some other excuse to cover up Marvins short-comings as a father. In truth Sara knew that as soon as her and her sons presence became an inconveinience they would be cast aside like yesterdays soiled loincloths. As Ivan grew older, around the age of twelve he found him-self in the training

hall, he was fascinated by all the men and all the armor and weapons. 

He would go there everyday to watch Master Barnabus instruct the men

in melee combat. Master Barnabus was a wise old weapons master

who's skill I had never seen matched, that is until one day during my fourteenth summer. I was watching the class as I always had, when suddenly a gong sounded; the class stopped . Master Barnabus turned and smiled to someone I could not see, my father then stepped into view. I was shocked, I hadn't seen my father in several years. Marvin and Barnabus were talking, the weapons- masters face grew dark. "If I could only just hear what they were saying!" I thought to myself. At that moment Barnabus shoved Marvin away drawing steel, then I saw another person all dressed in black. He had a dark brown cloak with the hood drawn up over his head,"the dark one" as I called him, stepped in front of my father drawing twin blades the likes of which I had never seen. Thin and razor sharp with a wicked curve, but as the swords were beautiful the dark one was barbaric and unrelenting . The first series of blows sent Barnabus onto his heels parying, the dark one rushed forward throwing his left sword low bringing the weaponsmasters guard down.The dark ones remaining blade flashed in sending a red line across Barnabus' throat. The weaponsmasters sword clanged to the floor, while his hands rushed up to his neck trying vainly to quell the river of blood flowing down his jerkin. The dark one struck out swiftly with a booted foot hitting Barnabus in the ribs, blood gurgled at his neck as air escaped his lungs. The weaponsmaster fell forward onto the floor, and died. The dark one stood over his prey and pulled back his hood. This was a manner of creature that I did not know, his skin was pale, and his eyes were a cold blue. Points that were ears protruded from under his dark hair. The class of about twenty pupils all stood around with eyes wide and jaws gaping, so was mine. Marvin stepped forward and looked to the class, smileing he shouted"Pity, Barnabus didn't want to retire. Class I give you Lord Onyx of the Highlands, new weaponsmaster of house Darkspeare." A frightened cheer went up that filled the melee hall, I turned and slipped out of the hall looking back as I exited. Lord Onyxs cold eyes were looking at me. I couldn't shake the feeling of total evil even from just the memory of those penetrating eyes, mother said it was nothing more than the elf saying he would remember me; and that's exactly what I was afraid of. Shortly after Master Barnabus was killed I was forced into a four year tenure with Lord Onyx. My father said it was time for me to learn the hardships of battle, and the mastery of weapons so that one day I may be able to lead his men into war. It seemed impossible, I could never be a warrior or so I thought. Onyx had a different idea, it was a grueling four years that lay ahead, my days were filled with drills in orthodox and unorthodox weapons techniques, and my nights were spent by candle light studying the art of the more finesseful style of grand flourishes and tactful parry strike combinations. I had to do this ofcourse without Lord Onyxs knowledge," finesse is for the weak pansy" he used to say."It's much better to run them down and kick dirt in thier eyes than play that tip tap wait for the advantage crap!" I belived he was wrong, I'd work some of it into my routine every now and then and at first I spent a lot of time cleaning the dirt out of my eyes, but finally toward the end of my four years the studying and the nights of practicing started to pay off, I wasn't having to wash my face anymore and I believe he actually started to respect the style I had so naturally fallen into, one day Onyx came to me in the morning as he had done for the last four years of my life. " your father wishes audience with you this day Ivan" I didn't know what to think, again it had been four years since I'd seen Marvin what could he want had I failed, was he now going to kill me as he had so easily killed Master Barnabus so long ago, what has Onyx been telling him, if Onyx felt threatened he may have lied and told my father I would never be the warrior he had expected, to secure his station. Finally I stood outside of my fathers audience chamber, I straitened my tunic, checked my scimitar, and rapped on the door twice. "Come in son" was the muffled reply. I entered the room, my eyes were emmediately drawn to all the different trophies of conquest. I knew my father was less than honest, but only a tyrant would conquer so many. I now understood why all those years were spent with Sara alone, and not Marvin, metephorically speaking, he seemed to be lying in the same evil bed that my mentor did. "Come, sit" he beconed to me," we have much to discuss." I had rather stand sir, if you don't mind" I said "as you wish" said my father. Onyx has told me of your progress and quite frankly I'm impressed" a sigh of relief escaped my lungs, but it was premature for the next words consricted my throat tighter than the mighty grip of Tempos, god of battle. "Your going to leed a Darkspeare garrison of one-hundred men into battle against Tringlee" I could force no words from my throat so I quickly looked to the ground . Tringlee was just a small farming village, the only thing my father could gain from there was slaves. I couldn't have something this wicked on my conscience."What say you man!" my father said angrily, rousing me from my thoughts. "Why must you plunder when your already so powerful." My father rose from the cushioned audience throne and moved around the table towards me, " the very thought of battle and someone elses suffering makes my blood boil with excitement!" Marvin said letting his hand drop to the ornate poiniard hanging at his waist. " You will lead the garrison!" "I'll do nothing to fill your coffers or your slave pins!!"I yelled "Treacherous dog!" Marvin shouted as he lunged forward dagger leading. My training with " the dark one" paid off, without thinking I side stepped and punched my father square in the nose. He fell hard onto his back knocking the wind from his lungs and the consciousness from his mind. I bent low over my father to see if he still lived, unfortunately for the world he did. I headed straight to the door and ran to my mothers chambers and told her what had happened,"run away." Sarah said," Go to the east and hope he never finds you, for if he does it will surely be your death." So I ran, I went to the town of Tringlee the intended prey for Marvins siege. I told the elders of my fathers plans, and helped them to raise an militia powerful enough to hold off the Darkspeare warriors. But before Marvins troops arrived I thought it best to be on my way. Travelling to the east for many months I finally happened upon a great forest, it was lavish and very beautiful compared to the flat plains of Qua-Loh. I heard voices then to my right, no it was singing and it was some distance away. I crept as quietly as I could toward the singing, I could not understand the words of this seemingly beautiful yet haunting melody. Drawing closer to its source I secured myself a hiding place behind some brush. What I saw was a boy and a girl both around the age of sixteen, the boy was crouched up on a rock playing a flute and the young girl was dancing around in a circle singing ,there was some- thing strangely familiar about these two." Oh Tempos!" I swore" these creatures are elves, just like Lord Onyx!" As I turned to escape the evil things I was taken by surprise, three of the things had circled in behind me."Cunning devils",I thought to myself, I fumbled for my scimitar but the elves were to quick. By the time I had even considered drawing my blade they were on top of me, bearing me to the ground. I tried to wrestle free, using my larger size to overpower them. Needless to say it did not work, one second later I knew nothing more than white hot jets of pain in the back of my head. Before unconsciousness took me I looked up to see the young boy who had been playing the flute with the girl beside him. I remember thinking it was strange that the small girl was crying. Blackness took me.During my unconsciouses I was plagued by nightmares, the crying girl the boy playing the flute and Lord Onyx laughing that sadistic laugh while he was cutting down the villagers of Tringlee.It somehow just didn't make sense. If these creatures were evil like Onyx,why was the girl crying? A cold splash of water invaded my thoughts bringing me to wakefulness. I was in a small village filled with nothing but elves, I tried to reach up to rub the still throbbing bump on my head, but my hands were tied behind me." Alust dobluth." one of the creatures said to me. I had learned a little of their language from Onyx but the pain kept me from thinking clearly. " Alust dosst dobluth, alust!" he said shouting at me pulling me to my feet and pushing me forward.There were several elves who would stop and look as the three warriors escorted me through the village.We were drawing so much attention that I feared immediate execution would be the course, these creatures of evil would have no mercy for the likes of a human. Just ahead was the most beautifully constructed temple I had ever laid eyes upon, as we approached, the leaf and vine doors of the natural dwelling were flung open. Inside was a dizzying array of colored tapestries hanging from the bark walls, they dipicted elves playing and frolicking in the woodlands. I was ushered into a court of a seemingly young elven man. "Remove his bonds" the elf said in the common language, "and then leave us. What is the meaning of your intrusion into our homeland human" My lord" I started, "I assure you I had no idea that I was anywhere near your borders, and as for my intentions I am merely on a pilgrimage from the west wishing only to collect my belongings and begone." What is your name boy" said the elf, "Ivan" I said," now answer me a question. Where am I?" "You are in the elven forest of Darkpine." I suppose that you were only trying to defend yourself back in the woods" said the elf."Justly sir,"I said."You may be on your way in the morning, and your belongings are beside the door on your way out.""Thank you sir" I said. The next morning I was on my way, gaining a little more information from the elves, one elderly elven woman told me that there was a castle about two days south of the forest. So South seemed the likely route to follow, On my second day of travel a very interesting thing happened, I was walking in a small copse of trees when suddenly instinct took over. There was someone else here. I dove to the left as a quarrel raced by my head, rolling up onto a knee scimitar at the ready. I saw just ahead a man dressed in a green and black tunic with a stag emblazoned onto the chest. He was cranking the windlass on his crossbow, I knew I had only one chance so I rushed in, knocking his crossbow to the ground and raising my blade to his neck. "Yield !" I said, "I shall yield, but the Rose will have no information from my lips" said the tall man,"What is this Rose that you speak of? And what is your name?"I said lowering my blade and taking a step back. The tall mans eyes fell to my hands,"ah you are not one of the rose you do not wear their insignia. I am Blackhawk, infantryman to Duke Anton DeCourtney. The Black Rose is an assassins guild bent on the downfall of the Duke" said Blackhawk, I mistook you for one of those backstabbing cowards, and fired, my apologies Lord...."Ivan"I said,"Ivan Darkspeare, could you take me to this Duke you speak of?" Blackhawk agreed and we travelled to Darkpine Castle where I had audience with the Duke. The Duke told me of his growing concern of the Rose and their intentions. Impending war and invasion of Darkpine were his problem. "Duke Anton" I said,"If you were to give me a few men of my choosing, land, tax free ofcourse, and the resources to build an outpost, I will protect your borders."" I agree" said Anton,"Good, Blackhawk is my first choice of men, and I relinquish the rest of the their choosing to him. Go now and assemble the rest of the men.""Yes milord", said Blackhawk. So it came to pass that the first order of the Brotherhood of the Falcon was formed. Duke Anton had called for a great feast in celebration of his engagement to his ward Freya Timbryl, a beautiful flame haired girl. It was a wonderful night, Lady Morghanna played bardic tunes of roaring battles and devoted lovers. The Hell Hounds, Duke Anton's personal guard presented a wedding gift of an ornate dagger with a stag pommel. I was getting rather used to the easy life of border patrol. Settling in wasn't something I have had the luxury of for a long time. The winter was fast upon us and it was much different here than in the western regions of Qua-Loh. The forest provides a sheltering sense of security that could never have been had on the plains. As winter turned into spring, the tide of potential war also turned. The Society of the Black Rose had declared war upon the lands of Darkpine. Reasoning for the war was to crush the dictatorship of Duke Anton, I of course knew nothing else, and I was quick to offer my services when the Duke called for them. A land without a monarch was a dead land. If I'd only known how foolish that was. I now was about to wage war against a dangerous enemy.Over the winter I had become remotely acquainted with the Black Rose, they had asked me several times to join them in this seemingly useless act of aggression. It wasn't the fact that we were fighting for what we believed in, now blows were about to be exchanged and the field would run red with their blood. The Black Rose would be no push over, but Darkpines sheer numbers would be enough to beat them back into a retreat. The day of battle was upon us, Duke Anton was on the field barking out orders in preparation for the battle to come. Checking formations, boosting morale, and giving last minute strategies for victory. I and my men were just over a rise to the north of the main battle field, our job was to look for the first signs of the enemy and warn the larger force that they were coming. The time passed very slowly, and I thought that maybe the Rose decided that it wasn't a good day for battle. That however was thrown out about a minute later, the rose had some how gathered a force to outnumber ours three to one. They marched Due South coming on the most direct route from DorimLad. I ordered my men to pull back and warn the others. The scene was of utter chaos, it took all Anton could do to keep his troops from routing off the field right then. Then the Rose and their force crested the hill. "Charge"cried Duke Anton, and Ursulus Grusiede of the Rose did likewise, the War of the Rose was joined. We fought bravely but futilely, the very fate that I had predicted for the Rose had now become our own. We fought for what seemed like days. I pulled back covered in blood and gore, I was near a copse of trees so I ran to them for cover, for a chance to breath. I surveyed the field of battle, there was something very wrong here, I saw Sir Devon Wolflin Knight of Dur-Demarion fighting on the side of the assassins, also there was Ironhammer Godar of Thor giving his services to the Rose. These two were residents of DorimLad but had no ties with the Rose, no wonder they had so many in their numbers. Just then my eyes fell upon a scene that I will never forget. Blackhawk leading the last of the Brotherhood fell to a Black Rose sword, rage took over for rational thinking. I was charging at a full run towards the soon to be dead piece of dung who had just cut down my best friend. I parried and blocked and dodged fiercely to get closer. The sound of hoofbeats was the only warning I had, my head exploded with pain from a well placed pommel strike to the top of my skull. I went to my knees dropping my sword and clutching my head, the world around me started to spin. I lost balance and fell onto my back looking up to see the elven boy from the woods above me on horseback smiling. The next thing I felt was myself being dragged, I could not tell by who or what I couldn't even open my eyes. Then I was out again, the elven boys face kept intruding into my unconsciousness, I couldn't tell if he was really there or if it was a dream. I tried to yell out to scream to lash out with my hand to hurt or to kill this boy but I couldn't move, there was nothing. Slowly the dream faded, it was replaced by a very distant melody being sung by a disembodied voice. It grew louder and louder, then there was a light at the end of a long and dark tunnel. I struggled with all my strength to get to that light, I swam through the inky blackness until I came so close to the light that it blinded me, my vision then started to clear, I found myself, head cradled in the arms of the elven girl, she was singing the melody that I had heard. Then from somewhere out of my field of vision another voice spoke,"Sorcia he is awake", the voice said. She stopped singing and looked down at me, she was smiling and crying at the same time. "You are safe here" she said,"we have also managed to save some of the others." I sat up and crossed my legs trying to rub the soreness from my head. Looking around I saw Anton and most of his men some conscious some not. Anton stood weaping close to the edge of camp, I rose from my position and strode over to him. "What bothers you so to bring tears milord?"I asked. I fear the worst for Lady Freya, Ivan, I couldn't find her before we had to pull back." What of the rest of the men, where are they?" Dead." said Anton." They are all dead." Shortly after the battle the Rose decreed that the lands of Darkpine were to remain occupied indefinitely. They made the people elect a military, political, and clerical leaders to rule the lands. It didn't go over very well to say the least, then one day the Rose just up and pulled out of Darkpine like they had never been there. Anton was put back into power as Duke and accepted a new ward, an elvish girl named Arenda. It seemed from my standpoint that it was a good political move to have the ap'Gilroys as allies. Anton had spoken highly of Lord Gilroy who had taken in the young Arenda after her family was slain in the troll wars. Everything was finally back to normal. My position as leader of the Brotherhood became very relaxed, often I would travel to Darkpine Castle to visit with the elven girl Arenda. She was firey and full of life, for some reason only the gods can know I felt drawn to her, maybe it was her innocence. I was very surprised when one day she confronted me in the courtyard. "Ivan" she said, "will you teach me to fight, with a sword I mean."I studied her face with my eyes then looked to her hands, they were trembling but I could'nt tell if it was from fear or excitement. "Well m'lady the Duke has given express orders for you not to engage in any harmful activities so I'm afra.... Oh to bloody hell with Anton!"screemed Arenda, "He doesn't have to know about it! Please Ivan it's just mock combat I won't get hurt. If Anton finds out that you've been training I had nothing to do with it. I understand." said Arenda, "Good, meet me tonight at the outpost and we'll start." and start we did she was very wild and passionate with her sword play but I belived in my abilities to mold this elven beauty into something much more dangerous than what the Duke had in mind. Not much else happened in the land for quite some time so I had plenty of time to tutor Arenda anytime she could sneak away. I remember one summer Duke Anton and Lady Arenda traveled to the fair, Anton invited me to come along since I had never seen a fair, such things just didn't exist where I was from. Anyway, Anton's personal guard accompanied us also and it was a grand day indeed that is until guardsman Pike said something to Arenda that she must not have liked, I had to stand back and just laugh. I had never seen Arenda quite so angry in all the time I'd been training her, but it paid off. She took Antons own sword from it's sheath, without him even knowing, and had poor Pike on his heels before he could have even thought about an apology, it was all he could do just to block and parry. And his voice was a high pitched squeel, " Duke Anton, my lord...help!" Antons face was a sight to behold seeing his own sword, being weilded like no lady should be. He ran to Pikes rescue, cursing the whole way, they were about twenty feet away from me so I could'nt hear what was being said, but as soon as Arenda heard the duke she dropped the sword. Antons face was all screwed up in anger and he was pointing at Pike, (who was now lying on the ground trying to catch his breath) while browbeating Arenda. She looked to the ground in silent submission and they walked away together to the gambling area. Her head was still bowed and Anton was still giving her the third, not even looking at her. She raised her head and looked at me across the courtyard and the biggest smile I had ever saw in my life was going from one pointed ear to the other. I barreled over in guffaws again. About a year later things were'nt going well for the Duchy although most didn't see it. There was an Equinox feast that Arenda was supposed to have been escorted to by the duke, Anton had come to me and asked me if I could escort the lady instead, he gave me no reasons why, I had become very close to Arenda in the past two years so I thought it would be best that it was me rather than someone else, I accepted his charge. I told Arenda, she was furious to say the least, remember the fair, it was the same look. Other things too had been happening, Darkpines people started to loose heart, and confidence in their ruler. A tragic time in my life was during a winters solstice in DorimLad, where again Anton had asked me to take charge of his duties to his ward, on owr journey back the Brotherhood was set upon by the Blackrose, we were out numbered, they demanded that we hand over the Antons ward. I could not allow that, the battle was joined, there was also trachery from within the ranks of the Brotherhood, I guess gold is thicker than blood. I was wounded right off from an arrow to the leg and there was nothing I could do to keep them from taking her. I was the only one who lived out of our group and feared I would soon be joining my brothers. It would be dark soon and the wind was already nimbing the pain from my wound. I pressed on as long as I could but exhaustion finally overtook me and I was falling. I didn't even feel the ground.

I awoke to the smell of freshly cooked rabbit, it was nightime, as I opened my eyes I saw the back of a man dressed in tattered clothing leaning down tending the fire. I sat up quietly and tried to stand. Ahhhrgh my leg! I screamed falling back to the ground, the man turned then, I couldn't make out his face because he now had his back to thr fire. " No Ivan, you must rest first." The voice sounded familiar but I was in too much pain to think. The man came closer drawing some fresh bandages from his pouch, "Let me change those" he said, then it hit me . "Hawk! Oh my god I thought you had died in the war" I said "Yes I know, I wanted to just dissapear, to find some other station in life for myself. " So what are you doing outhere" I said " Saving your life, you see I came north after the war to find Ursulus." said Hawk " What, to kill him for attacking the homeland, by yourself. Obviously you didn't find him because you still live" I said" On the contrary," said Hawk," I did find him, and we talked he told me the reasons why they waged war upon Darkpine. The rose believes it is everyones right to make free choices for themselves without a ruler like De Courtney leading them around on puppet strings." " Well that makes sense" I said " but that would mean that they gave a damn, and you've said it yourself Hawk they're liars and cheats, how can you know he's telling the truth?" I can't! " exclaimed Hawk, " but they knew you were coming through with Arenda so I asked them not to kill you" Arenda!! " shouted Ivan," what do you know about that?! Where have they taken her!?" Be calm my friend, she's in good hands, Marrek is seeing to her needs."said Hawk" How do you know so much? Your in league with them aren't you, you scum!" I lashed out with a right cross trying to punch Hawks lights out, but he was to fast for me and cooly knocked me over the head sending my lights out. I sure did seem to be spending a lot of time unconscious these past few years, I remembered thinking to myself. I awoke in the Blackrose compound, Ursulus came and had council with me explaining the reasons for the attack on Darkpine " Okay" I said " I understand about the war, but you attacked my unit while the Dukes ward was in our care! That knight, is an unexcuseable offense!" Ivan, again you only see what is on the surface." said Ursulus " Our spies have brought back information telling us that the Duke is very near to renouncing his throne, so we liberated the one thing that would push him over the edge." He'll never step down, you'd better just let her go before he sends a rescue garrison for her." I said" He knows what to expect from your forces, and his spies have informed him months ago that the war party you got to help you has moved on." Look " said Ursulus" I'll let you talk to anyone at my disposal I will prove to you the intentions of the Duke. Is your superior available" I said" I have no superior" laughed Ursulus" I bowed my head in thought, then it came to me. " Yes you do, bring to me Sir Devon Wolflin, to him I will listen." Devon came and he told me of the wrongful accusal against the rose, Anton accused them of being nothing more than a band of assassins seeking the downfall of anyone and everyone who stood in their way. In truth they were a people who cared about the common mans interest, and had several different factions within their order. They were also a surprisingly honorable lot, what was it Ursulus said to me."Always be just and sure of what you do so that the rose will always come up smelling sweet." They had finally gained my trust, and Ursulus and I devised a plan to expose the Duke and force his hand in renouncing his throne. I travelled back to Darkpine alone, the day I arrived I went strait to the Duke at his Castle. I climbed the marble and alabaster stairs as I had done a hundred times before, at the top of the stairs stood Ferret, DeCourtneys Captain of the Guard. I approached and said" I wish to have council with DeCourtney, I have grave news of his ward." Ferret took a step towards me" The Duke is Away on official buisness, but I shall send a messenger on the morrow with news of your late return." scoffed Ferret " You'll send a messenger now" I said," his Dukes ward has been captured by the rose and her life is surely in great peril!" Yes m'lord I'll send a messenger right away!" I watched as Ferret ran down the stairs and turned the corner. I stood there thinking about the loyalty and respect that I had felt for Anton just a few days ago, the same loyalty Ferret and his Hell Hounds have for him now. The palace just didn't hold the same luster that it used to for me, it seemed dark and cold now that I knew the truth of the matter. "Anton will pay for his misleadings" I thought to myself.


Many days had passed with no word from the duke, I was begining to think that the endevour he had sought might have turned the worst for him. Another tenday had gone by and I was getting conformation on what Ursulus had told me from the dukes own actions. The messenger had returned only saying that the duke had matters more pressing, and that he would deal with this minor happenstance upon his return. "Bastard" I swore, I could'nt believe that he was letting this go unchecked. I sent one of my trusted men to the black rose outpost. " Now Rand 'alThor," I said" go there and find Blackhawk give him this letter and then return. Don't let anyone follow you, and if someone does, loose them or slay them, we cannot be found out." Piece of cake" said Rand." I'll be back in two days."

                        !!!!! MORE TO COME!!!!!!!
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